bare feet in the grass

Every day in October, I’m sharing poetry-writing inspiration, exercises, and prompts on for the #31poems challenge. This is the poem I wrote in response to today’s prompt:

When was the last time
your bare feet felt the grass?

Was it when you were a child?
Or have you allowed yourself
this childlike pleasure

I did just yesterday.
Watering the flowers, weeds tickling my legs.

There’s a reason children like to take their shoes off
and run in the grass.

Do you remember?
Why not try it again?

You might like it
as much today
as you did
last time.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this poem, visit today’s #31poems post.

Once upon a time the hero was you

Am I the only one who saw myself in every protagonist?
Who wondered how I could feel such solidarity with a fictional character?
She might be a princess, an orphan, or a little girl on the prairie.
What does an average 20th-century girl have in common with these?
And in coming to know them I came to know myself.

When was the last time you read a story
and let yourself be in that story?

Why not allow yourself to be the hero
of a story again?

Maybe in experiencing another story
you’ll come to better understand your own.

I must make something beautiful

the pain in the world is great

suffering… misery… torture, even

and here I am making a masterpiece

why even bother?

what good will a painting do
while a child is dying?

how can a poem be worth writing
while books are being burned?

who wants to compose music
while the martyrs are screaming?

my ink is blood, sweat, and tears
my palette holds the colors of fire and water
my notes are the heart-cry of tortured souls
because I must make something beautiful from the pain in the world


From Outrage to Outreach

This summer three of my siblings and my dad visited me in Kansas. Here we are beneath the Keeper of the Plains statue (the site of the story I relate in this month’s newsletter).

In last month’s newsletter I encouraged you to go beyond simply being outraged about abortion and instead reach out to someone who might think that abortion is not wrong. School isn’t in session right now, so JFA focuses more time on preparations for the coming year than on our outreach events on university campuses. I didn’t let that stop me from having conversations about abortion, though. My coworker Eva and I went down to the Arkansas River with a survey about the Planned Parenthood videos to talk with people about abortion. I wrote a poem about one of our encounters…

{click here to continue reading my most recent newsletter}

You can read past newsletters here

Everyone’s Talking About Abortion … What Will You Say?

photo courtesy of Justice For All

My heart is heavy.

In the past few weeks my Facebook feed has exploded with discussion of four videos in which Planned Parenthood representatives converse about body parts from aborted babies destined to be used for research. I won’t comment here on the allegations that Planned Parenthood has broken the law, but I do want to comment on something that hasn’t gotten enough attention amid the stir surrounding the videos…

{click here to continue reading my most recent newsletter}

You can read past newsletters here