Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Thing Is...

Well, Poets, here we are in the month of and for poetry (here in the US).

I'm not sure what greeting works best:
Merry Poetry Month
Happy Poetry Month
Good Poetry Month
Positively Pleasing Poetry Month to You

We're poets...what do you think? 

I wish you a productive and stress-free month. In past years I have felt a bit of pressure in April to be more in some way. I'm learning to let go of that and just enjoy.

I have a treasured box of letters one of my grandmothers wrote to our family decades ago. Each day of April, I will select one letter to use as inspiration for a poem. I might not write a poem every day...but every day I will read a different letter and jot down words and connections that begin a poem for me. I aim to complete some poems to share on Poetry Fridays.

Whatever your plans for this month, enJOY. 

Our Inklings are kicking off Poetry Month with a prompt from Mary Lee:

"Use “The Thing Is” by Ellen Bass as a mentor text. Keep the title, but choose a theme/message either from your own life or from current events."

The Thing Is


to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you down like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

Poem copyright ©2002 Ellen Bass, "The Thing Is," from Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, (Grayson Books, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of Ellen Bass and the publisher.

My take on The Thing Is...

The Thing is

Peace signs, besieged, fall

all around us, hands pressed

to faces, sobbing.

Peace signs ignored

with hard unmet eyes

earbuds in,

blasting god knows what.

Senseless, we miss 

crocus in the snow

     Peace be to you

a unequally divided pie

     And also, with you

Sleeping, newborn babe

      If that mockingbird won’t sing 

No paper crane on my shoulder


Olive branches, plowshares

fingers waving Vs in the air

     When will they ever learn?

  When will they ever learn?

(c) Linda Mitchell 4/1/22

As much as I am drawn to the stars, I'm finding I'm also drawn to the people also drawn to stars...especially women who had to determinedly carve out places in the scientific community to study space. Mary Golda Ross is one of these women. Here's what The Smithsonian has to say about Ross. The latest poem on the padlet is about her. 

Thanks and applauase for Tabatha Yeatts for her anthology prowess in creating Imperfect II: poems about perspective. anthology for middle schoolers. She has compiled another great book of poems that I'm delighted to have contributed to. It's available this month!

Now I'm skipping off to read blogs around the Poetry Friday blogosphere. I haven't been able to read as many as I like these days. I'm hoping to get to more...especially those new poets joining in. Inkling Heidi is hosting our round-up today at My Juicy Little Universe. 

More 'The Thing Is...' poems can be found at:

Reflections on the Teche
Reading to the Core
Nix the Comfort Zone
Another Year of Reading


  1. I appreciate your take on The Thing Is and was struck with the peace sign as an unequally divided pie and now I see that symbol differently. My goal is to relax this April, do what I can, and learn from everyone. Happy Poetry Month!

  2. I read your post last night and thought I had commented. Your poem with its Peace on Earth message is comforting. I'm happy we are both published in Imperfect II. April makes me happy!

  3. I usually say Happy Poetry Month, but now that you mention it, Merry Poetry Month sounds good too :) It's funny how a peace sign is also V for Victory and, if held up backwards, a rude thing to say in the U.K.
    I LOVE that you are being inspired by your grandmother's letters. <3

  4. Peace be to you

    a unequally divided pie

    And also, with you

    That unequally divided pie is Way too true. This is a lovely, provocative take on one of my favorite poems.

  5. It feels quite often that "they will never learn", Linda. Your poem reaches out like a cry for more and better. I wish we could make it happen with snaps of our fingers! Thanks for it & continuing on with the stars above. I imagine your grandmother's letters will be special for your poetry.

  6. I am enjoying everyone's perspective on this poem. There is so much to do with that title. Those first three lines go straight to the weeping heart.

  7. I love your take on "The Thing Is" but I love your NPM project even more! Can't wait!! Reminds me of the year I used old family photos.

  8. I'm enjoying reading everyone's take on "The Thing Is" poem, but phew, are they are ever heavy. What a hard sad time in our world... I can't wait to read some of your family poems.

  9. I'm with Carol. I love your poem, but the mentor poem is heavy and inspires a solemnness in the poems inspired by it.
    My project this month is writing poems to primary sources, so I'm particularly interested in reading your letter inspired poems.

  10. Linda, your NPM 2022 project is awesome. When I find cards written to me by my mother over the years, I sit and think about the year that she wrote each one and what happened during that time frame. Looking back in history is a way of connecting with past era's. Best of luck with that project. Your work on the padlet is amazing. I know that I started one but I have not been faithful so it is NPM time to retrace my steps. Thanks for the inspiration. Your lines, "Peace be to you/a unequally divided pie," are holding such sad truth. Each poem I read based on Bass' poem are worthy of serious representations of the mentor text. Congratulations on your work in Tabatha's book.

  11. The thing is...well, Linda, it is probably different for each of us and while we have all heard these opening words many times, they lead in such different directions. I now have these words spinning in my head like a song that becomes an earworm. So, I'm off to see where it takes me. Thanks for once again turning on the tap of inspiration.

  12. Linda, SUCH a rich post; Thank you. I'm crazy about your April project - what a gift to have those letters. I've enjoyed reading these "The Thing Is" poems. I wasn't prepared for yours - the way you laced such heavy thoughts with familiar phrases from church and nursery songs, etc., whew. Well done.
    PS - I'll gladly take "productive and stress-free."

  13. Gosh, the song and church lines woven in here are simply wonderful. I love Ellen Bass's poem and what you did inspired by it. Such a door into a beautiful wise room. As for Poetry Month, I am very excited to read your poems. I have many boxes of old family letters and I have been wanting to write from them for some time, but just opening the box...just beginning...I have not been ready. Thank you for sharing this journey. xo

  14. Lots of pondering from your song-lines intertwined in your powerful poem. "When will they ever learn?" Ouch, what a waste of people's lives war is… Cool poem on Mary Golda Ross! And culling poems from your grandmothers letters sounds intriguing, thanks Linda!

  15. Linda, I'm truly excited to read your Grandmother's Letters work. I have calendars and diaries from my mother's mother which are such tiny slices of her life and yet so revealing. And your peace signs poem reverberates with the helplessness that so many of us feel, beautifully.

  16. I love your NPM Grandma's Letters project, Linda! I, too, have very much felt "a bit of pressure in April to be more in some way." Yay you for giving yourself grace and modeling the same for me.
    The lines:
    "fingers waving Vs in the air
    When will they ever learn?" in your The Thing Is poem are hauntingly true.

  17. Linda -- I so appreciate the grace you are giving yourself this month. I, too, am not promising myself or anyone that a poem will happen each and every day, but I will be writing and working each day on my craft as are you. So yeah us for keeping it real! Love the letters project and your Inklings challenge. Can't wait to read more. Best, Christie

  18. What a gift to have your grandmother's letters. I love that you'll get to savor one a day. What a treasure!

  19. Oh, that unequally divided pie. Makes me think of Rush's "The Larger Bowl" (lyrics at

  20. The end of you poem is powerful, Linda! Good luck with your poetry month project using your Grandmother’s letters. It’s intriguing ad I’m anxious to see what you do with it.

  21. Linda, congratulations on being included in the new Imperfect II anthology. I can't wait to read it. Your "The Thing is" poem is powerful--such images. In your star poem today, I love the idea that she pushed through "to engineering the beyond" Great way to put it.

  22. I love your PMproject, Linda - and the fact that you're giving yourself permission to be you - and maybe not write a new poem every day, but rather, immerse yourself in the inspiration. So much wisdom in that, alone. Also, congratulations on your inclusion into Imperfect II. Wonderful!

  23. Linda, your letter project sounds amazing! I can't wait to read more! And I love how you've woven song lyrics into your response to "The Thing Is." The contrasts are jarring and powerful.

  24. Love your poetry project idea, Linda! The personal nature of it makes me think you're going to have some really rich poems come of the exercise. I also love your newfound Poetry Month attitude. You're right. It is easy to feel that pressure. I guess that's why I'm coming back with my same project from last year—it brings me joy without even trying very hard! Your The Thing Is poem is very powerful.

  25. What a gift, that you have letters written from your grandmother! I'll look forward to hearing more thoughts by you on these. And thank you for sharing "The Thing Is". It landed deep in my heart.


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!