First Thoughts #1: Sarasponda

evergreen branch

Sarasponda, sarasponda,
Sarasponda ret set set
Sarasponda, sarasponda,
Sarasponda ret set set.

A doray-oh, A doray boomday-oh
A doray-boomday ret set set
Ah-say pah-say oh.

Remember the Sarasponda song? Apparently, I do. I learned it forty years ago when I spent a week at Camp Kiwanilong as a camp counselor for a bunch of 5th graders.

“Outdoor School” at Camp Kiwanilong was everything one could hope for in a nature educational experience. Forested trails, a lake for canoeing, wildlife; and sleeping cabins without heat, lights or any other amenities other than rough wooden bunk beds (for keeping one’s sleeping bag off the floor; no mattresses).

There was nothing fancy about the main lodge, either. It consisted of two rooms: a no-frills kitchen with Paul Bunyan sized griddles for cooking up a ton of food at once; and a dining room with two long wooden tables that spanned the length of the room, and benches on either side of the tables. A deep fireplace covered the wall between the kitchen and dining room and served as an ersatz fire pit when it was too rainy to be outdoors.

We held outdoor classes in the daytime, and in the evenings, we played games, put on skits, and sang camp songs. No internet, no cell phones. You know, the (almost) dark ages.

Hence, I learned Sarasponda. It’s a favorite around-the-campfire tune, as it has all the requisite qualities: (a) the words are repetitive and easy to learn; (b) it can be sung in rounds; and (c) it’s nonsensical, even before one attempts singing it with a mouth glued shut by marshmallows.

So, here it is forty-odd years since my camp counselor stint. I haven’t sung or heard Sarasponda sung in the interim, nor even thought about it until this morning, when I woke up with the song running through my head.

It’s not like I’d been dreaming of dingy cabins, stinky-damp socks, or even dingy-stinky-damp 5th graders. It was just there, in my head, between should-I-mow-the-lawn-today and I’ll-have-cold-brew-instead-of-hot-coffee-this-morning. What kind of mental blip put it there, I don’t know.

It’s evening now, and the song is still here. I’m craving s’mores and wood smoke. I’m getting ready to go to bed on my comfy mattress in my warm, dry, lighted bedroom. No wildlife here, just an old dog snoring, a young dog twitching in his dreams, and a cat warming up for his nightly bout of climbing the walls.

But okay, before I retire for the evening, here’s to the good ol’ times at Camp Kiwanilong:

Sarasponda, sarasponda, sarasponda ret set set 

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Wordless Wednesday 5.1.19

tulip tree

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Day 30, the final day of the month, and the final day of NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month). After today, the goal will be to keep the creativity flowing. We’ll see how that goes.

Today’s prompt:

I’d like you to try your hand at a minimalist poem, … a poem that is quite short, and that doesn’t really try to tell a story, but to quickly and simply capture an image or emotion.

So, here goes. Don’t blink! (Hey, that could be a minimalist poem right there!)


Remember that day when…
Yes, that one.

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Meditation on Dispassion

Day 29 of NaPoWriMo. The prompt, edited for succinctness:

For poet William Wordsworth, a poem was the calm after the storm – an opportunity to remember and summon up emotion, but at a time and place that allowed the poet to calmly review, direct and control those feelings. A somewhat similar concept is expressed through the tradition of philosophically-inclined poems explicitly labeled as “meditations,” …

Today, I’d like to challenge you to blend these concepts into your own work, by producing a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquility, on an emotion you have felt powerfully.

Not completely on prompt, but this is what I came up with:

Thursday in closet

Meditation on Dispassion

When finding oneself in the disposition of
being where one does not belong, or perhaps of
not belonging where one finds oneself,
it might be of consequence for one to ponder
how that circumstance came to be.

If, for example, one is where one does not belong
due to a displacement of some nature, one might enquire as to
what compulsion or energy caused such an event,
and whether it is a permanent condition, or whether
one might best prepare for subsequent supplantations.

Alternatively, if one does not belong where
one finds oneself, one may have merely been misplaced,
and may therefore be inclined to wonder
what careless entity committed such a dismissive act,
and whether one might perchance some day
in some manner attain one’s proper placement.

It is imperative, however, that one never allow
one’s emotions to surface and escape their
carefully fabricated confines,
lest one come to realize that the
feeling of not belonging where one finds oneself
is – in fact — excruciatingly painful.

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Words and Paint

NaPoWriMo, Day 28

The prompt today deals with:

“the concept of meta-poems – which are poems about poems! In this video, the poets Al Fireis, Lily Applebaum, Dave Poplar, and Camara Brown discuss Emily Dickinson’s ‘We learned the Whole of Love.’ …

And now for our daily (optional) prompt. As you may have guessed, today I’d like to challenge you to try your hand at a meta-poem of your own.

So this is maybe not a proper meta-poem, but after watching about half of the video provided as a resource, this is the impression I was left with:


Words and Paint

Large canvas yawns on studio floor
Cigarette ash lengthens with neglect
Eye sizes up canvas and looks for inspiration
Brushes, paints, splatters, spills
Colors, contrasts, movement, perspective

Figure steps back, surveys result
Artist, art? Crafts-person, handiwork?
Custodian, drop cloth?

♦ ♦ ♦

Blank page of crisp, white paper
Pen taps desk, ink smears
Hand looms over paper and waits for direction
Verbs, nouns, phrases, thoughts
Colors, contrasts, movement, perspective

Figure lifts page, reads and reworks
Poet, poetry? Wordsmith, story?
Shopper, grocery list?

♦ ♦ ♦

Canvas is framed, hung on wall in gallery
Viewers study the painting
Discuss what the artist intended
with each brush stroke or nuanced hue.

Writing is published in journal
Readers study the piece
Discuss word choice and tenor
Delve into the poet’s mindset and meaning.

♦ ♦ ♦

Custodian goes in search of missing drop cloth.
Shopper wonders where they misplaced their list.

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Weekend Wildcard (Flashback #3: Doing it Anyway)

WILDCARD lifting

Flashback #3 in my re-posting from a blog I wrote several years ago about my struggles with depression.

My purpose in revisiting the “old” me is to remind myself and any others who care to read, to:

claim the positive energy that is available to each of us for our own benefit and for the benefit of others.

This is a post from July 14, 2012:

Doing It Anyway

One of the difficulties when trying to work one’s way out of a deep depression is facing the conundrum:  We don’t feel up to doing the things that are going to make us feel up to doing things. At the depths of depression, it might become a challenge even to get out of bed, let alone actually take part in any meaningful activity.

During my various stints in intensive behavioral health outpatient treatment programs (which I prefer to just call “brain school”), I was taught a lot of things about dealing with depression. Some of those things I even remember. Then again, some things I remember probably weren’t really the things they were trying to teach me. So take what I say I learned with a grain of salt.

One thing I learned about doing the work I need to do to get better is that if I don’t think I can do something, or don’t feel I can do it, or don’t believe I can do it, that’s the time to do it anyway.

teddy bearDo what I just said I can’t do? In a word, yes. Maybe I’m telling myself that I can’t get out of bed and face the day. But if my body is physically capable of lifting itself out of the bed, then indeed I can get up. If I survived the challenges of yesterday, chances are I can survive today, too. No matter what it feels like.

And if getting up and doing something is going to help me get up and do things, then perhaps I truly can take that first step. It’s kind of like practicing tough love on myself. Gently, though. Lovingly.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I can’t just turn on a switch and suddenly have the energy, the insight, or even the will to do something, even if I know it would be to my benefit. It’s hard, very hard. But if I can just make a slight movement forward, I can begin to overcome the inertia that feels like a 10,000 ton weight holding me down.

This all comes to mind today because I am heading out on an overnight camping excursion with my daughter. An absolute and utter miracle, if I look back on how I felt four months ago. Back then it was a major undertaking to get myself to the grocery store. Unless I had to buy food for the cats, it was just easier for me not to eat.

I am thankful for the therapists at brain school who told me to just do it anyway.

Wishing you a good day today.

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Only a Dream

NaPoWriMo, Day 26. The prompt:

Write a poem that uses repetition.


Only a Dream

I dreamt last night,
but I can’t recall
what happened in the dream.

I dreamt last night
and when I awoke,
I felt lesser than.

I dreamt last night.
Whatever happened in the dream,
I let myself down somehow.

I dreamt last night,
You were in the dream.
And someone else.

I dreamt last night.
You found out what I did,
but I chose to lie about it.

I dreamt last night.
It didn’t really happen.
I did not let myself down,

nor you.

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