Comments and Questions for Padden Creek Trail

The Padden Creek trail isn’t remote, isn’t that many
steps from my front door. I pass through a curtain
of trees, enter its green strip of woods. I’m often
charmed by what I find along the trail, but not always.
I keep on the trail, unless I see a newly-discarded can
or bottle, pick it up for proper disposal in a recycle bin.
I never litter. How do we foster mindfulness and
taking care so these are elements in our daily lives?
The trail can be dangerous during and after heavy
snow or high winds, and the rifle shots of breaking
tree limbs are unnerving. How do we fold caution
into our daily lives? How do we cross into safety?

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 24

~*~

For my prompt, I used the words from the 2012 Kumquat Challenge:

remote, curtain, step, keep, never, charm, foster, element, fold, and wind

Here it is again, with the words italicized.

Comments and Questions for Padden Creek Trail

The Padden Creek trail isn’t remote, isn’t that many
steps from my front door. I pass through a curtain
of trees, enter its green strip of woods. I’m often
charmed by what I find along the trail, but not always.
I keep on the trail, unless I see a newly-discarded can
or bottle, pick it up for proper disposal in a recycle bin.
I never litter. How do we foster mindfulness and
taking care so these are elements in our daily lives?
The trail can be dangerous during and after heavy
snow or high winds, and the rifle shots of breaking
tree limbs are unnerving. How do we fold caution
into our daily lives? How do we cross into safety?

My early Kumquat Challenge poems sprawled. For this attempt, I wanted to write a piece as short as possible, and as close to ten lines as possible (for me) while still being (somewhat) coherent.

This result is 12 lines long — not including the title and line space following it. What do you think?

Hey, YOU could try your hand at using this prompt too!

All the best, Andy

Posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, Can We Talk?, NaPoWriMo ~ 2014, Poets, Samples, Trail Offerings | Leave a comment

Rescue

When I want to turn down
the volume of daily life,

or slow the burn of aggravation,
or avoid the drift to lack of focus,

I walk the trail along Padden Creek.
In a moment my day turns.

Padden Creek offers crows’ caws,
solace, birdcalls sweeter

than chimes, birds’ flight, awe.
Padden Creek is a refuge,

a kind of oasis of natural noise
and quiet, a green strip of peace.

There is life and death here
in every season: the season

of dogwood blossoms, the season
of drifting cottonwood seeds,

the season of falling leaves,
the season of cold, ice and snow.

I watch for signals, watch
for glimpses of other lives.

Another year passes; whether
low or high in its golden arc,

the sun will return. I watch for life
and death here, and surrender —

there is nothing to fear.
Padden Creek rescues me.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 23

I thought I’d return to an old prompt for this poem, and came up with the idea of using the prompt words from the 2013 Kumquat Challenge sponsored by Whatcom Community College.

The words are: moment, volume, cotton, burn, offer, signal, flight, drift, chimes, and kind.

Basically, we are to use all ten words in an original poem. Read about the Kumquat Challenge here.

Here’s my poem again, with words in the above list italicized:

Rescue

When I want to turn down
the volume of daily life,

or slow the burn of aggravation,
or avoid the drift to lack of focus,

I walk the trail along Padden Creek.
In a moment my day turns.

Padden Creek offers crows’ caws,
solace, birdcalls sweeter

than chimes, birds’ flight, awe.
Padden Creek is a refuge,

a kind of oasis of natural noise
and quiet, a green strip of peace.

There is life and death here
in every season: the season

of dogwood blossoms, the season
of drifting cottonwood seeds,

the season of falling leaves,
the season of cold, ice and snow.

I watch for signals, watch
for glimpses of other lives.

Another year passes; whether
low or high in its golden arc,

the sun will return. I watch for life
and death here, and surrender —

there is nothing to fear.
Padden Creek rescues me.

~*~

Are you writing poems? Are you writing, even if only for yourself? Are you walking? Where?

What’s your work? Get your work done.

With warm regards, Andy

Posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, NaPoWriMo ~ 2014, Notes on the Literary Life, Poets, Samples, Trail Offerings | 5 Comments

You Ask “Why Padden Creek?”

We ordinary beings can cling to the earth
and love where we are.

~ William Stafford

You ask, Why Padden Creek?
What’s so special about Padden Creek?

I could answer, Why not?
but there are so many answers
as there are so many paths.
Padden Creek is special,
as every place is special.
Padden Creek is beautiful and damaged,
as every place is beautiful and damaged.

Tell me about a place special to you,
and you begin telling me about yourself.
Tell me about the heart of a place,
and you begin telling me about your heart.
Tell me the secrets of a place,
and you begin telling me your secrets.

Peel back the layers of a place,
find everything expected and unexpected,
find what a place means.
Peel back layers, find a dwelling place.
Peel back layers, find history and longing,
find stories and belonging, find inspiration.
Peel back layers, find common ground;
peel back layers, find sacred ground.

You ask, Why Padden Creek?
What’s so special about Padden Creek?

This is where I am, and I love where I am.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 22

The epigraph is from William Stafford’s poem
“Allegiances” and is part of his concluding line.

Please see The Darkness Around Us Is Deep:
Selected Poems of William Stafford
, edited
and with an introduction by Robert Bly (1993),
page 30.

Posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, Authors, Books, Books Authors and Book Reviews, NaPoWriMo ~ 2014, Poets, Samples, Trail Offerings, Transformation | 2 Comments

Himalayan Blackberries

Imported from the east —
a New York trading house,
if I recall correctly —
several decades ago,
Himalayan blackberries
are now inseparable
from the landscape here.

In areas open to sky
everywhere: in clearings
along Padden Creek,
in a huge impenetrable tangle
along the banks of a slow
meander of lower creek
just east of the estuary.

The heavy snow of that late
surprise snowfall
(was it only last month?)
weighed down brambles.
Brambles remain prostrate
but indestructible.

It’s an invasive species,
true. A prediction:
soon enough the blackberries
will be everywhere.
Birds and walkers and pickers
won’t be able to resist
the bounty of blackberries,
will feast and carry
Himalayan blackberries
farther and further.
Another prediction:
purple blackberry-stained
beaks, hands and mouths.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 21

Posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, NaPoWriMo ~ 2014, Poets, Samples, Trail Offerings, Transformation | Leave a comment

Regaining My Soul

After William Stafford

I began walking
diligently in 2009 —
the Padden Creek trail
if time was short
if I needed light and water
and the flight of birds;
the Interurban trail
if I needed solace
and time to myself
if I needed green forest
and fresh scrubbed air.

That year I escaped
the soul-crushing hell
of corporate cubicle life.
I wanted recovery
and discovery.
I wanted to explore
what I might have
to say and write.
I wanted butterflies
and birds, rain and fish
and all the forested
splendor of this place.

I wanted
to be saved;
I wanted,
and began
receiving.
I began walking,
began reclaiming
myself.
I began walking,
began reclaiming
my life.
I began walking,
began regaining
my soul.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 20

This was inspired by a lovely poem by William Stafford,
“How to Regain Your Soul.” Stafford began his poem with

“Come down Canyon Creek trail on a summer / afternoon….”

See The Darkness Around Us Is Deep: Selected Poems
of William Stafford
, edited and with an introduction
by Robert Bly (1993).

Posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, Authors, Books, NaPoWriMo ~ 2014, Notes on the Literary Life, Poets, Samples, Trail Offerings, Transformation | 6 Comments

Friendship

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

~ David Whyte

We have walked
Padden Creek Trail
and the Interurban
Trail, exclaimed
over garter snakes,
birds and butterflies,
and transformation.
You are teaching
me how to walk;
you are teaching
me how to exclaim.

Once an orb spider
dropped a leaf
from a broad-leaf
maple on a strand
of silk through
our words where
we stood reading,
testing new poems.
You are teaching
me how to see;
you are teaching
me how to speak.

We have walked
the trail while
you coached me
on my editing.
You are teaching
me how to edit
without fear.

We have walked
all the way to where
the old trestle once
bridged the gap
over Chuckanut Creek
and Arroyo Park,
commiserating
over childhoods
and birth families.
You are teaching
me how words
can build bridges
and bridge gaps.
You are teaching
me how to listen.
You are teaching
me how words
can console
at the edge
of an abyss,
begin to repair
this damaged
and beautiful world.

At times
I have feared
losing your
friendship,
finally
learn that
I am wrong.

We have
professed
kinship
in the house
of words;
we have
professed
kinship
in the house
of intentional
families.
You are teaching
me not to fear.
You are teaching
me that I belong.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 19

Posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Editor, Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, Notes on the Literary Life, Poets, Samples, Trail Offerings, Transformation | Leave a comment

Witnessing a New Bridge

The new bridge is promise — a promise
of returning Padden Creek to daylight,

to the surface west of 20th Street.
For now the new channel under the bridge

is dry, waiting for the creek
to be released, waiting for the creek

to reemerge after more than a hundred
buried years. As I witnessed the bridge —

so close to completion — I wanted
to testify, I wanted to spread

the good news, I wanted to prepare
for singing the salmon home.

I’m premature: there’s much more work
to be done.

The new bridge is promise
that this work has begun, will be done.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 18

Posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, NaPoWriMo ~ 2014, Poets, Samples, Trail Offerings, Transformation | Leave a comment