Monthly Archives: April 2014

A message from the birds




Song of the Soul in Scottsdale

I am one who
gets a kick out of squawking loudly
and hasn’t forgotten how to play..

I am one who
jumps into things headlong
and cries out, Why do I doubt? 

I am one who
who flies with buntings
and keeps on singing.

 I am one who
stands on straws hollow, light, yet strong,
and dances to the sails of circling clouds.
I am one who
is serene inside the colors that I am,
and mirrors back the truth or lies you tell the world.
I am one who
sleeps at night,
and sees both the curve of the planet and the whisker of the mouse.
I am one who
spies on cardinals,
and knows that attention is life.
I am one who
lives alone and with others,
and flies on the line between fierceness and forgiveness.
— Group Poem, Song of the Soul Workshop, Compiled by Jennifer Wolfe
National Association for Poetry Therapy Conference
Scottsdale, Arizona
April 26, 2014

I choose to risk my significance


Found in the desert.

Found in the desert.

I Will Not Die An Unlived Life

by Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life 
I will not live in fear 
of falling or catching fire. 
I choose to inhabit my days, 
to allow my living to open me, 
to make me less afraid, 
more accessible, 
to loosen my heart 
until it becomes a wing, 
a torch, a promise. 
I choose to risk my significance; 
to live so that which came to me as seed 
goes to the next as blossom 
and that which came to me as blossom, 
goes on as fruit. 


I Choose to Risk My Significance

My son turned 17 years old today.
That seems so different than 16…
so much older.

I had an insight last week,
working with a friend,
that maybe,
just maybe,
I was holding him back.
Holding on, keeping him
dependent on me

I don’t want him to leave me.

I didn’t know that.
I knew it was a dangerous edge,
this needing him to need me,
but I didn’t see that underneath
I was sneaking around,
trying to hold back time,
to make him the dear sweet little boy again,

so afraid
so afraid
so afraid
of losing him.

I found myself
reading the book about him
as a child, instead of as a teen.
I brought him two books from the library,
children’s books, I hoped he’d read.

But no.
But no.
But no.
He is 17.

He is a young man. He is growing and I cannot
I cannot
I cannot
hold on to him.

I couldn’t if I tried.
I must
I must
I must
risk my significance, and believe
he does not need me
to live anymore.
He is free.

—Jennifer Wolfe
Written during the National Association for Poetry Therapy Conference 2014, Scottsdale, Arizona, as inspired by
the poem I Will Not Die an Unlived Life and by Robert Merrit’s workshop titled, “Great Delight”: Writing to the Chaos of Emotion” 

Poetry in the Desert



Each day a bird would shelter
in the withered branches of a tree
that stood in the idle of a vast, deserted plain.
One day a whirlwind uprooted the tree,
forcing the poor bird to fly a hundred miles
in search of shelter—
till it finally came to a forest
of fruit-laden trees.
If the tree had survived,
nothing would have induced
the bird to give up its security and fly.
— Anthony DeMello, One-Minute Wisdom

Desert rose

Desert rose

I’ve written a lot of poetry this month.  I took up the write-one-poem-a-day challenge of the National Poetry Writing Month and had a lot of fun with it.

The good thing about writing one poem a day is, as William Stafford’s son pointed out, you don’t have to write a GOOD poem every day.

The month culminated in presenting a workshop for the National Association for Poetry Therapy conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Which is in the middle of a desert. Which is where I literally found myself, the little bird that once sat in a dead tree tree, perched in a “healing garden” filled with fruit-laden trees.
You don’t get more poetic than that!

Well, actually, you can:
A tiny goldfinch, the symbol of resurrection, appeared on a water fountain in front of me as I sat in the garden with an old friend.

So there you are.
Poetry, in real life.
(Check out my favorite photos from my visit on my FB site.)

To celebrate, I’ve selected three poems to share. One is a found poem, collected as ReadBack lines from the Open Mic night we had at the conference.  I wasn’t quite ready to share any poetry yet, so, I played my ukulele to open the show.  Which was risky and vulnerable and lots of fun.  And then I wrapped the night with the ReadBack lines.  Which was magical.

The second poem I wrote at the conference.  The third is a group poem I compiled from the participants in my workshop. I’ll share those in a separate post.

So, here we go.

Open Mic Night
Alchemy at the Jung Institute in Asheville.
What I see here are beautiful lotus flowers,
and their words are hard and heartfelt.
It was a kindness.
My house is stuffed.
I shiver shards of broken wishes.
I made wonder my roof.
I whisper secrets to the moon.
Back to bread.  Back to wine.
The river’s cool color never repeats.
My arms are uncannily light.
A paradoxical experience.
Low doorways and open space.
An artist who dreamed in circles.
He’d been inspired by a poem.
As one free sky-seeking lark ascending.
I saw hundreds of spiders in the shower.
Nothing but a bird’s nest, I wept.
One night I dreamed my head was full of feathers.
Ancient swollen spiky thumbs.
It’s about a rose being a rose, thorns and all.
Who is an emperor without clothes or a throne?
Turn your gold into God.
Time to get out of the gene pool.
Always I find my maps at AAA.
Squeezed tight and flustered,
there she will be.
Then will come the Goddesses.
Love gifts will flood the void.
Each moment is the was of the next.
This has been my most beautiful day on the water.
Hear the silence in the spaces.
Why am I concerned with worry?
I am tainted by the inevitable fall.
Will I find the smooth taste of awareness again?
I’m here to journey.
I’m here to journey.
Everyone can be free in the now.
First the clearing away.
I can make a hole with my finger.
Pulling the long root of a weed.
You love him, they teased.
A thick salmon in your mouth.
You are a poet if you write a poem.
Instead of right angles, slopes.
The precision given in that answer.
They only attack when they are scared.
Both wild, both endangered,
they understood each other.
Yes, we both say to olives.
With perfect moments, completely out of place.
Wet nose up the back of a visitor’s skirt.
Better get cracking!
I am very tenderly rinsing,
covered by the indignities of illness.
An urgent love that longs to be enough to raise the dead.
How we played Gotcha Last every night, and you always let me win.
Until I was 21, and you left us.
It’s a memoir in poems.
Effigies of horror burned.
Let the weeping begin.
Does my anger scare you?
Like you’re the mother fuckin’ president of something.
Dreams take the form of rocks.
The abyss of sweet dreams.
— Read-back lines from poetry open mic night at
the National Association of Poetry Therapy Conference
Compiled by Jennifer Wolfe April 25, 2014


Heard Last Night


We’ve had a wonderful Spring Series this year, and last night was an especially inspiring session for me. Therefore, I feel inspired to share this morning just a few things I heard at our session last night, for your reading pleasure. 🙂

Opening Poem

Communicate slowly.
Never let it starve for lack of what it needs.
We therefore have an obligation to each other…not to gaslight each other.
How do you know when you are done?
We therefore have a primary obligation to each other: not to undermine each other’s sense of reality for the sake of expediency.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
— Group poem, based on the poem, “How to Be a Poet”


Favorite quote last night:
“My computer at home doesn’t have an “n” or a “b.”


Word we learned:
“Prosody,” which means, from a reading teacher’s perspective, reading with ease and smoothness, but, do look it up in the dictionary if you get a chance. (Thanks, Meg!)


Favorite Readback lines:
One big fat ringlet.
I’ve been forced to look at my relationship with boundaries.
I felt like I was flying through the palm tress.
They began to moan and dance.
“It’s my passion.”


IMG_5516Did you know it’s National Poetry Month? You can write a poem a day by going to the NaPoWriMo site.  Here’s my 3-minute writing to the prompt of, “I’d love to be a… [name an insect]:

I’d Love to Be a Ladybug

I’d love to be a ladybug.
Their wings are so tiny, so precise, yet strong.
I like the way they fold in when they land,
in several layers of red and white and black.
Their wings don’t always fold back completely,
as if their slip is hanging out a bit
and they just don’t care.

Ladybugs are sure of themselves, of their femininity,
of their purpose (but what is it? Eating bugs, I think!)
They don’t care if their skirt is a little rumpled for a minute.
But then they fold everything back in, neatly.
Unless, of course,
they suddenly, determinedly, take off,
which always surprises me.

Journal prompt: “I’d love to be a [name an insect, set your timer, and write for three minutes.]”

What’s THEIR Passion?


IMG_4992Part Three of Three

On February 25, I attended PechaKucha Night here in Jacksonville, which was organized around the theme of “What’s Your Passion?” I was moved by what I saw and heard.

  • I heard a father, Carl, speak passionately and proudly about his daughters, how fearless, determined, and free they are.
  • I heard Jessie talk about how writing, at age 12, transformed him from victim to survivor.
  • I heard Cole talk about his passion for “authentic” expression.
  • I heard Cathleen inform us that the #1 litter in the world is cigarette butts: 2 billion butts are thrown away EVERY DAY!
  • I saw the tears of Amy, who authentically spoke of her love and respect for her mentor, Paul.
  • I heard Kathy ask an important question I love to ask: “Hey, what’s cool about you?”
  • I heard Joe say his passion is “to help creators grow,” and then he reminded us to “be the change,” to be the “one spark” that changes everything.

These are powerful passions, and each one spoke to me.

Which is why it is so gratifying for me, as the facilitator of Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville, to do this work. It is an authentic transformation process that is working, right here, right now, helping women to do all of the things listed above:

  • to be fearless and free,
  • to transform from victim to survivor,
  • to be authentic,
  • to speak up about what bothers us,
  • to cry our tears,
  • to ask important questions, and
  • to help creators grow.

It takes hard work, and dedication, and resilience.  And passion. Like gardening, as I learned from my 10-year-old gardner friend, Evan.

I am grateful for the seeds that are sprouting here in Jacksonville. And I want to celebrate that today.

In the garden.

Journal prompt: So…what’s YOUR passion?

p.s. If you’d like to celebrate the passionate, authentic women of Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville, please come to our Public ReadAround on Sunday, May 18, from 2-4 p.m., at the fabulous Coastal Occasions in Jacksonville Beach!  More details here.

What’s MY Passion?


Part Two of Three

So, if my friend Evan, at 10 years old, already knows his passion, it begs the question: What’s MY passion?
Let’s see.


The bluebird appears on the old nest box.

Yes, I also love gardening.
And bird-watching.
And ballroom dancing
And singing on my ukulele.
And of course, I love writing, especially women writing, especially Women Writing for (a) Change.

But, if I had to say it in one word, my current passion is, “change.” That’s pretty funny, since it’s also the thing I fear the most!

Example: About 10 years ago, my family and I were rafting on the Nantahala in North Carolina. (Of course, the river is a great metaphor for change.)  In the photo snapped at the end, the look on my face as we are about to descend into white water is pretty much pure terror.  BUT I made it through.  And since then, I’ve learned to love the tumult, knowing there is smooth water just around the bend.

I do love to see how things evolve, and grow, and shift, and transform.

In fact, I now believe passionately that change is necessary, and that it begins, first and foremost, with ME. If I want to change the world, all I have to do is make one small, tiny shift, and that changes everything. Here’s what I do know about chemistry, dear Evan: If you change one variable, the entire composition changes and creates something new.

It’s alchemy.
It’s magic.
It’s a miracle.

Like the way my garden is currently transitioning, from winter brown to bright green.
Like the way my son is transitioning, from “car pool kid” to “new driver.”
Like the way my daughter is transitioning, from high school student to college student.

I’m not sure how it’s all going to turn out, and I am even biting my nails a bit as I look ahead to the tumult. Nonetheless, I am passionately glad to be in the middle of it.

Next entry: Inspired by PechaKucha Night in Jacksonville: What’s THEIR Passion?