Musings about life on Earth in all its aspects…

Tag: Poetry



Oh, and the blue sage is in bloom today,
Salvia azurea scattered across the prairie
Like shards of sky,
The petals the color
Pachelbel’s Canon would be
If you could see music with your eyes.

I noticed that its flowers have the same blue glow
That Rublev used for the cloaks
Of the three wanderers in his Trinity icon.
Remember when we saw it in the Tretyakov Gallery?

He painted it 600 years ago
With pigment ground from lapis lazuli
From the Kokcha Valley,
And you said that he had captured
The blue of an Archangel’s eyes in those cloaks.

Can you picture how his icon must have stood out
Like a blue beacon against the towering gold and red
Iconostasis of the Trinity Monastery?

The blue beacons of sage are angels today, blessing
These wide tawny fields of gold-leafed Indian grass
With their singularly azure essence of blue.

~Roy Beckemeyer, 2011, revised 2023.

My wife, Pat, and I were fortunate to see this icon on our visit to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. It had resided there from the 1918-9 restoration, which first revealed something of the artistry of Rublev’s original work, until July 2022, when it was returned to the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, where it had originally resided. On previous returns of the icon to that monastery, exposure to the uncontrolled humidity and temperature and to the candle smoke and incense had caused the icon to deteriorate. It has apparently been returned to the Tretyakov, but there may have been some deterioration and it may not be available for viewing for some time.

This photo is from the Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses website,
and shows blue sage in a grassy landscape in Saline County, KS.

Another Place in this World a Woman Can Walk

Standing on the Edge of the World Cover

Review of the poetry book:

Standing on the Edge of the World by Lindsey Martin- Bowen, 2008, Woodley Memorial Press, Topeka, KS, ISBN 978-0-939391-44-8, 92 pp., $10.00

“The night is Dresden…” reads the opening line of Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s poem, Working Toward the Last Line, as she compares the arcing flashes, sparks, and chaos of downed tree limbs and power lines in a raging Kansas ice storm to a WWII firestorm. She uses such apt but unexpected allusions throughout this book, enriching her poems and expanding our perception of her poetic vision. This is work of sumptuous insight and surprising conjunctions. In one of my favorite poems in this book, Hanging Out in the Student Center, Martin-Bowen juxtaposes Lorca, Caravaggio, Borges, and Ferlinghetti, who comprise a strange enough crowd in themselves, then places them against the streets and landmarks of Kansas City Missouri: Troost Avenue, Swinney Gym, Country Club Plaza. And, by God, they all seem to belong there; you find yourself wanting her to text you so you can follow her down those streets the next time she gets them all together.

Martin-Bowen is as effective in making magic of our prosaic small town back yards (“…an old tire swing moans empty,” from Dancing with Aunt Virginia) as she is in showing us the wonders of the world. Here is how she sees classic Italian statues: “…I think about / how Michelangelo freed their forms, / how their eyes have no pupils. / They stare into the future / without flinching / and show no regret.” (from the poem Statues).

The book is divided into four sections: Seasonscapes, Another Place in this World a Woman Can Walk, Two Brown Bears Dancing, and Beyond the Vanishing Point. There are rich gifts to be found in each section, but I wish to focus next on some of the poems that appear in the last.

I am particularly attracted to the way in which Martin-Bowen can bring Biblical characters to life with layered depth and fierce vitality. Peter’s Wife asks: “How could you abandon me for a man? / … you won’t live in Capernaum again. / You won’t fish again. You won’t drink again. / We’ll no more share our strange sin, / this earthy love.”

And listen as myrrh-bearer Mary Magdalen Rebukes Peter: “… / At our gatherings, / you boast of your loyalty / and call me a whore / who will destroy him. / But he knows your game: / when I wail at his grave, you will / deny you walked with him, / deny you slept with him, / deny you knew his name.”

In The Madonna she captures the essence of all the lovely Marian icons we have ever seen “… / I shiver above flames / in tiny red and blue jars / … / My son stepped through fire. / It darted from the eyes of throngs / that had fanned him with palms / the week before… / …I give off no sweet scent. / It’s the candles’ perfume that fills the nostrils / of seekers who fall prostrate. / Far from my fingers, they bend / too low to touch.”

Pick up a copy of Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s book. Read it. Here are words that will remind you what an exquisite combination we humans are of the spiritual, the passionate, the proud, and the profane. Hers is the work of a perceptive and extraordinary poet.

– Roy Beckemeyer, 24 June, 2015

Prayer Card Poems – In Loving Memory

In Loving Memory

In Loving Memory

Size seems about right. It’ll fit in anyone’s shirt pocket so they will be able to carry it around, run it through the laundry by accident, and then finally forget me, wash off any residual grief. Symbol has me stumped. Jayhawk, WuShock, Flying Billikin, maybe an airplane or a dragonfly or a corkscrew. Yeah, let’s go with the dragonly. It looks sort of like a cross and will be both natural, fitting, and as close to religious as I got. Should the photo be studious or serious or happy? I don’t know, but I think I would like a shit-eating grin (forgive me, Father) so everyone who looks at it wonders what I was up to. I would like to write the poem, and since I don’t know when I will be needing the card, let me do the custom text now:

Small town boy met small town girl raised
small town kids hiked and travelled and
moved to the city and built airplanes and
made wine and square danced and acted
pretty much like an adult most of the time
and then like a kid for the rest of the time
and was in love for nearly the whole time
and right up to the end for sure and went
to church as a kid and young man and hopes
and prays that won’t keep him out of heaven
since he did try to be and do good but that
doesn’t work according to some theologists
and so pray for him if you think it might do
some good, ya’ll, if you want to and have
the time, otherwise don’t worry. Amen.

And please look through those 1500 images in 20 different categories and find a nice picture of the sky. I always liked sky pictures, and there was sky everywhere I ever went.


– Roy Beckemeyer

The Monastery’s Seven Hours

Matins, midnight’s bout of prayer,File:BritLibRoyal14CVIIFol006rMattParisSelfPort.jpg
by yawning monks kneeling there,
eyes half closed, or all the way,
hoping for the break of day.

Lauds‘ laudatory monks, alert,
warmed by the sun, all assert
their blessings, state them to and fro,
no need for rooster’s morning crow.

At Terce, thrice now the prayers have rung,
the blessings chanted, the psalms sung.
The monks, all now fully awake,
bellow their prayers for all our sakes.

Sext is when the monks all ask
blessings on these gifts, the tasks
of kitchen cooks. These monks, cowled,
just men like us whose stomachs growl.

None the hour after the lunch,
when eyes again, I have a hunch,
get heavy-lidded and partly close
against the sun’s bright pm glow.

At Vespers the candles are brightly lit
and day’s end comes to the pews to sit.
Monks ponder charity and bits of grace,
till contentment falls on each one’s face.

Compline marks the end of day,
“Now I lay me down,” they say
These monks, serene, now each has found
peace as the liturgical hours go ’round.

– Roy Beckemeyer, April, 2014

This poem was an exercise for a poetry workshop I am leading called “Poetry by Sevens,” in which we write poems inspired by some subjects typically grouped in sevens.  For example, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Seven Dwarves, the Seven Deadly Sins, etc.  This one used the Seven Hours of Liturgical Prayer.  I tried to think of monks as just men, not some sublime praying creatures.

The illustration is from Wikimedia Commons and is a self portrait of a 13th Century  Benedictine monk, Matthaeus Parisiensis.


Poetry Month American Cinquains

Poetry Month American Cinquains (A five-line poetic form in which lines 1 through 4 have 2, 4, 6, and 8 syllables, respectively, and line 5 has 2 syllables).

April 1 (inspired by a drive through the Flint Hills after prairie spring burns):

The green
already there,
woven among black ash
remnants, fiery tweed of renewed

April 2 (inspired by a Kim Stafford reading at Watermark Books, a William Stafford Centennial event):

for poetry.
Might it be genetics?
Talent passed from father to son?

April 3 (inspired by this also being Jazz Appreciation Month):

swing notes, two-four,
Dorian, Phrygian,
sevenths, ninths, elevenths, thirteenths.
It’s Jazz.

April 4 (inspired by the first thunderstorm of the spring):

Out at the edge
Of hearing. The clearing
Of a storm’s throat, a stage whisper:

April 5:

Writing paper.
Pen. Letters. Elegance.
Illuminated manuscripts.
By Hand.

April 6:

A list
poem is always
fun but then there must be
some scheme or logic, rationale,

April 7:
Contretemps. Cavalcades.
Conditioning. Crepuscular.

 April 8:

I’m a
container for
all that blood, corpuscles –
white and red – and plasma. The stuff
of life.

April 9:

old dogs
lying beneath
our feet breathing softly
what more could we need in old age
than this

April 10:

perch in clusters
on pear trees like close friends
bees flit, flirt, hum as petals start
to fall

April 11:

Tax day
is a comin’
another check I’ll write
not enough deductions for a

April 12:

Where the
heck are April’s
showers? Here comes young May,
looking to plant flowers. Too dry?

April 13:

A – P –
R – I – L – T –
H – I – R – T – E – E –
N – T – H – April Thirteenth –

April 14:

catch snow, don’t scowl,
stand sturdy and strong, tall,
but think of Amsterdam in spring,
and yearn.

April 15:

of blood red moon
old earth’s shadow once more
makes the moon’s visage dimly blush,

April 16:

with an iPhone
takes patience, eyesight, small
fingers, I have learned – then again,
have I?

April 17:

On this
day in the past
Thornton Wilder was born.
Gairrison Keillor told us this

April 18:

On Calvary
Crucifixion and death.
God’s Friday, Pious Friday, Good

April 19:

have specialties
like gynecology,
cardiology. I prefer

April 20:

Mornings the sun
rises, brimming over
with forgiveness, atonement for
our sins.

April 21:

Bloom intensely.
Color with abandon
Every day of every spring.


Links to Some of My Poems that Can Be Found on the Web

Since I now have poems and/or bits of poems scattered around on a number of sites on the web, I decided to gather the links and post them here to them all in one place. (Note that web links often have really short lives, so if you want to have a record of your poetry as published on-line, you might want to try saving the web page to your computer. This can be done in either html form or if you have Adobe Acrobat, you can often save a nice version in pdf form.) I also have several blog entries here on phanaerozoic devoted to poems, so be sure and look them up as well. Just click the tag “Poetry” under “Categories” to see all my blog entries that include poems.

These are roughly in chronological order of posting to the web, and at the time of this posting to phanaerozoic, all are active links:

At my personal web site,, there is a page that links to a number of poems:

The individual poems are:

“Picking (2)” (posted October 12, 2001)
“Alaskan Food Chain” (posted October 12, 2001)
“Trailside Ecology Lesson” (posted October 12, 2001)
“On the Prairie At Dawn” (posted October 12, 2001)
“Quail Dog” (posted October 12, 2001)
“Dragonflier” (posted October 12, 2001)
“Ode to Erpetogomphus lampropeltis ovipositing in a Gila River Riffle” (posted October 12, 2001)
“Rebirth: Thoughts on Observing Dragonfly Larvae” (posted October 12, 2001)
“A Fortnight into Autumn, Dreaming” (posted April 8, 1996)

On Tom Mach’s Blog, “Prose and Verse World”

Five “Machadaiku” poems – a form invented by Tom (posted May 19, 2011):
“Impressionist” (posted May 22, 2011)

At Greg German’s “Kansas Poets” website (

“In Kansas to Stay”

At the web site of Kansas Poet Laureate (2009-2013) Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, “150 Kansas Poems,” I was fortunate to have four poems chosen, the first two for her “Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems” project in honor of the Kansas Sesquicentennial, one for “To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices,” and one as “Poem of the Week.”

The first three are cached at: and are:

“A Kansas Farmwife’s Snow Song” (posted November 19, 2011)
“We Discuss the Geomorphology of Life” (posted April 5, 2011)
and from the renga (untitled, posted Feb. 5, 2012):

The fourth is the poem of the week posted February 11, 2013:


Films, Stories and Poems Exhibited at the Percolator (A Multi-media Art Venue in Lawrence, Kansas) – The Story of Chickens ( by Amber Hansen Exhibited March 30 – April 21, 2012. Posted by The Story of Chickens on July 7, 2012:

“A Five-Tanka Poem: Where Food Came From in the 1950’s” (posted July 7, 2012)

At The Journal of Kansas Civic Leadership, Julia Fabris McBride, Poetry Editor, Chris Green, Managing Editor, Wichita, KS,
( published in November, 2012 issue, p. 104-105:

“Hope” (posted November, 2012) – use above link, open issue and page to poem near end of issue

At the web site of Lisa M. Hase-Jackson, “200 New Mexico Poems”
(, in honor of the New Mexico Centennial:

“A Day at White Sands” (#193, posted December 13, 2012):

At the blog, “Zingara Poet,” edited by Lisa M. Hase-Jackson (, the Poem of the Week for February 6, 2013:

“The Baltimore Catechism: Unrequited Love”
Untitled: “Is the harvest moon swollen…” Response to Zingara Poetry Prompt for January 18, 2013 (posted February 20, 2013)
Untitled: “morning light grazing fields…”: Response to Zingara Poetry Prompt for February 15, 2013 (posted February 19, 2013) Zingara Poetry Prompt for January 18, 2013 (posted February 20, 2013)
“You, Approaching”: Response to Zingara Poetry Prompt for February 22, 2013 (posted February 22, 2013)

At the web site: The Shine Journal – The Light Left Behind: Journeys Through Grief ( (Added to this list on 26 April, 2013):

Three Poems: “To My Brother on the Anniversary of Our Father’s Death,” “Maggie,” and “Elegy for Our Father” (

– Roy Beckemeyer, 16 April, 2013