Tag Archives | poem

((new portrait)) Laughing Stars


For years I searched for something;
then you found me.
I travel deep into your eyes,
my little laughing stars.
Those tiny ears and tiny toes
anchor these rusty bones.
You smack your lips,
and life rushes,
whispering, out of me;
surprised, I abandon my fears at the door.
I do not know how to sing,
but your name is my song.
You were my redemption all along. (more…)

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Stay Awhile

pumproomnook Cair_Paravel

Don’t ask me to save the world.
I burn my toast,
I forget my keys,
And I can’t keep a plant alive.

But I can do this.
I can sit here and breath.
I can feel your chest
Against mine.
With you at my breast,
I can fill your round little belly.

I know things ain’t perfect, but
Sweetie, let’s just stay awhile. (more…)

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Owen Beach (April 2014)

owen beach pink

On the rocky shores of Owen Beach,
where the pebbles rattle in the waves,
where the surf is dark and foamy white,
she hugged my knees, afraid.

She asked to go; I asked to stay.
She sat awhile on my lap and found
five shells, a nugget of glass.
We gathered sticks, searched for wrens,

and, with a start,
she ran to the tide
to splash in the evening sound. (more…)

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A decade ago, I was addicted to creating collages.

Perhaps it was something about the deconstruction and reconstruction of language that appealed to me. My obsession with deconstruction should have come as no surprise. Ever since I met Jacques Derrida, I became obsessed with this quixotic Frenchman, with his fedora and pipe, and his rambling evasive discourses. The day I met him, I was a young bird with stars in my eyes and I had no idea how to spread my wings to fly.

But I did fall in love with the principles of cutting and pasting. So I would collage. Mind you, these collages were not “scrapbook my BFF memories” types of collages. No. They were inspired by the likes of e e cummings, poet extraordinaire, and Jean Kilbourne, who floored me with her revelations about images of women in advertising.

My collages were poems. They were my version of  “found poems.”

Would you like to see one?

Click on the image below and it will link you to a full size of the poetry collage. After the image, I typed out the text of the poem; it is edited to remove confusing grammar and  improve general readability, but the gist of the poem remains.

If you want to read more of the found poems, tell me so in the comments below!



The most unusual fresh peach,
she spends every minute in the kitchen,
safe in a drawer,
to make water over in red or deep-sea blue
and breathtakingly beautiful.

I knew her voice instantly: home,
both literally and metaphorically.
(I was right but did not believe myself,
denying an irresistible attraction.)

You may not know what’s in the water but you do know:
sleep isn’t enough.

Who understood her vision?
In her own simple words, Rosemary could and did.
Suddenly, everything began to click,
especially when someone would hang a picture
crookedly on the wall.
It was the sentence I had longed for—forever.
It is the sentence that compelled me.
You don’t think about nothing.
It’s like saying a prayer,

rising to the surface, and for a while, it worked,
while she was living. She willingly walked into the role,
the roof of her mouth would peel off, examining ideas,
time, talking.
Bring the skin on your feet back.
Blush everyday.
She’d lost her shoes.
You get a complete essay.
(To me it’s very wild. Do you have to leave now?)

And That Was Then.

I couldn’t be with her,
cold water between our fingers flow;
I love her. And
when she got so sick,
I would leave,
dead in the middle,
glass ceramic,

She planted flowers, painted,
revolved around cooking and eating,
a bright spot of color to keep

I sit on my roof and watch,
ready to handle the dead.

(Sometimes I see her on the street,
I wish I could talk to her forever.
And sometimes when I look at her
or when she talks on the phone, I can just tell:
she feels happy or she feels hurt.
I can just about feel it myself.)

Smooth your silhouette.
Inside this air is a fresh form.

Born prematurely, (I could tell, in her voice,
printed on thick silver).
At the time, she was chirping
and the sun seemed so innocent.

Curfews earlier than noon
pulled down her eyelids.

There is no preparation.
I was also killed that day.

Under all that debris, the bowl was full of
water and little fish were swimming around.

I don’t name them.
I will never forget her.

By Erin Wetzel
© 2014 ekwetzel. All Rights Reserved.

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Phoebe, Five-And-A-Half Months. Strict Joy.

I have been meaning to post this blog about Phoebe’s fifth month for weeks. I knew what I wanted to talk about as her “5 month milestone” approached. And then I got hacked. My website was down for what seemed like an eternity. And then my mom came to visit and I had better things to do with my evenings, like play Settlers of Catan. So I continued to not blog about Phoebe’s milestone. And, now, here we are. It’ the evening of the 29th. And Phoebe is now five-and-a-HALF months old. And I finally sit down to blog.

phoebe's kisses for grandma

Kisses for Grandma Healy (my mom)

I will not attempt to write the same post that was in my head two weeks ago. Too much time has passed. Too much has developed. This is now a five-and-a-half-month post.

phoebe at 5 months baby

These two pictures were taken two weeks ago, when Phoebe was 5 months old, to the day.

art for baby ecchat

Her curiousity has developped into busyness. She's exploring the tactile nature of anything she can get in her hands...and mouth!

Two weeks ago, I wanted to talk about the concept of strict joy. This is the concept that joy is not simply random and spontaneous, but that it is something you cultivate, like a garden. Our lives are intensely chaotic and difficult things, but it’s in the midst of this turmoil that we do all of our living. We can run away from life or fight life…or we can live intentionally. We can choose to live joyously.

In the mornings, Matt and I used to pray over breakfast to start our day. We felt that giving thanks was an important way to start our day, but the prayers had become rote and were not touching our hearts deeply enough. Matt was having stressful days at work, while I was struggling to mother my ever-changing child at home. So, we started giving thanks in a different way: each morning we each say three things that we are truly thankful for at the moment, and when we are getting frustrated or bogged down during the day, we stop and think of our three things.

This discipline has helped me keep my head above water many a day. I think of my three things, and then I keep going. I keep focusing on all of the positive things in my life and all the blessings until I no longer feel bogged down by whatever trials I am being challenged with at the moment.

When we walk through our days with deep gratitude and an air of thankfulness, we afford ourselves the opportunity to see beauty in the smallest things, we give ourselves the opportunity to be patient and peaceful, and to enjoy the multifaceted wonders that await us at every twist and bend. When faced with a worry or a sadness or a stressor, do not bend under its weight. Rather, accept it for what it is, let it pass through you, and return to the garden of joy that you have cultivated for your mind. Joy is not so much something you have as it is a way of looking at the world.

5 month baby swing

So what does this all have to do with Phoebe?

It may sound silly to admit, but this month it struck me: this whole parenting thing is permanent. There are no breaks. There are no holidays. Even if someone is babysitting, my mind and heart are still with Phoebe. And even when she’s sleeping and I’m blogging or watching TV, I’m still a parent. I have been forever changed. There. Is. No. Going. Back.

Of course I don’t want to “go back.” I love being a parent. But being a good parent is hard work. It takes a lot out of me, and some days I feel emptied upon emptied with nothing left to give. Some days it’s really hard to be the kind of person I want my daughter to have as a mother. The more I face my ever-burgeoning daughter, the more I have to face myself: my own frailties, my own shortcomings, my ignorance and my doubt. But I have come to understand that becoming a better parent – and becoming a better person – means I learn how to accept my shortcoming and push forward. Because parenting, like living, is not about perfection. It’s about virtues: love, hope, faithfulness…and joy. It’s about life. It’s about living, and living together.

baby glee swing

For you, Phoebe, I have a poem…

giggles with phoebe old navy C is for cat

My baby’s palms are both
the most soft and most warm
of all softness and warmth that I know.

And the smooth of my baby’s smooth
is a song made of sinew and skin.

My baby sleeps like a drum;
she stretched over my empties, and
out throbbed love.

When she awakes, tucked under my chin,
her face alights and the soft touch grooves.

I am constantly fighting with grace.
I beat soft and low;
her love beats soft and true.

My baby was made to bring warmth
and a disarming smooth to my days.
I was made to love her, grow her,
know her rhythm,
find her tune.

By ekwetzel

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Phoebe, Month Two. We’re Kickin’ It.

phoebe wetzel 2 month old baby hedgehogs kickingI almost forgot that today was Phoebe’s 2 month “birthday.” What a milestone! It warms my heart to see it. I snapped some pictures of her right before bedtime. She’s wearing some of my favorite PJs; they have hedgehogs on them. And her hair is all mussed and curly from her bath.

So much has developed this month. I feel like Phoebe continually surprises us with new noises and facial expressions. She is SUCH an expressive baby, so full of joy and laughter. She is also full of noises, giggles, grunts and blurps. She will be quite the chatterbox someday.

phoebe wetzel pom montessori mobileOne of her favorite things to do is watch the Pom Pom Mobile that I made for her. As you can see in the above video, she’ll lie under it and flail her arms; she knows that if she hits one of the bottom pom poms, it will send the whole thing spinning. She gazes up at the mirror, fixated. If we leave her under it, she’ll flail and giggle and talk to it for up to twenty minutes. I’ll keep walking in and out of the room to check on her, but she’ll just be having the time of her life. Sometimes, after she’s been lying under it for a while, I’ll prop her up in my lap to give her a different perspective. As soon as I give the mobile a spin, she gives a gleeful little grin.

grin mirror pom pom mobile

Kickin’ kickin’ kickin’…that’s how I would describe Phoebe this month. She has so much energy. And she is such a happy baby. It really warms my heart to see her find so much contentment.

That doesn’t mean that times are always easy. No. Phoebe cries. We both have hard days. But I see her developing and growing, and that warms my heart.

papa matthew kisses phoebe beard 2 monthsI’ve been thinking a lot lately about methods and the things people do to exercise a degree of control over their lives and their children. The truth is, from the beginning of the pregnancy, I have always felt, to some degree, OUT of control. Pregnancy, birth and parenthood are disorienting events. And, the older your child grows, the more they develop their personhood, until someday you’re having an adult relationship with your own child!

Holy cow! Talk about intimidating!

My baby. Is a PERSON. That will GROW UP. And be on equal footing with me.

Intimidating? Yes. But totally frickin’ cool.

art for baby phoebe 2 months

So, I’ve chosen to view these crazy early parenting months not as CHAOTIC or as CONTROLLABLE. No. These mindsets are just too simplistic, and they miss out on a lot of the humanity involved in parenting. I choose to view my parenting as COMPLEX.

My relationship with my daughter is complex. We’re both getting to know each other; at the same time, we are both independently growing and changing and influencing each other.

hello sunshine tshirt baby legsMy daughter is complex all on her own. She has trends, and she tends to behave a general way, but she is as unpredictable as any person would be. Sometimes she has bad days. Sometimes she’s inconsistent. Sometimes she doesn’t know what she wants. Sometimes she’s more demanding and needy than other times. But she is not a random collection of whines, spit rags and poopy diapers. She is a person experiencing life, growing with it, and being changed by it. She’s finding her groove.

Dear Phoebe,

I want to write you a poem,
but every time I look at you, all I see is myself,
the map of my own face highlighted with joy,
all the routes we’ve yet to take;

how can I say anything to you that you do not already know?
As I hold you, my heart beats strong.
I am the Old Town.
I am the Motherland.
I send you with sails and hearty sea song:

“Oh holy, old holy, oh baby and me;
Sing me a song of this wide salty sea.
My past and my future and this now make three.
Oh holy, old holy, my baby and me.”

We spring forth from the deep.
We spiral through mothers and times.
We drive on asphalt rivers
and drink up dark dreams.
I pass on to you, love, my own mysteries:

From holy, for holy, to holy we be.

kicking baby phoebe 2 months

phoebe wetzel month 2

By ekwetzel

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Phoebe, Month One. Words, Words, Words.

asleep under cherry trees newborn ring sling

Phoebe is asleep under the cherry tree in our back yard while I wear her in the ring sling my mom made. 1 week old.

One month old. Today. Wow…how did this day sneak up on us. My daughter is. now. one. month. old.

I’m not going to say “time flies,” because it doesn’t feel like it’s flown. I’m not going to say “it seems like forever ago that we gave birth” because that isn’t true either.

It feels like time has stood still.

It feels like we’ve been enveloped in one long “present moment” with an elusive beginning and no inclination of an end.

newborn hand

Phoebe's little hand. 2 weeks old.

Our existence this last month has been unbelievably rich, unbelievably challenging, and amazing in the most unexpectedly profound ways. The difficult parts of this month have made us pay attention; the hard parts have made us dig deep. Since I hope to actually post this blog post today, I doubt I will be able to give proper credence to the vividness, depth and resplendent nature of our relationship with our little daughter, Phoebe, during the first month if her “life on the outside” of the womb.

But I will do my best to share with you a slice of my heart.

Language is not cheap. It is not inadequate. Words are amazing, powerful, beautiful things. Words are containers for our thoughts, our emotions, our experiences. Words bring us together. But do I have the words that can contain the love I have for my daughter and the deep challenges she has posed to my very concepts of existence over this past month? I have faith that I will find the words. Someday.

first easter mhc seattle ring sling

Phoebe's first Easter: Mars Hill Church service at Quest field in Seattle. 1.5 weeks old.

Someday, but not today. I do not have the adequate equipment today. I need to gather myself, to let my mind and heart spring forth with what poetry they may just as a field gives forth with what wildflowers it may each Spring. Unpredictably. In its own time.

One thing I keep coming back to is a poem I wrote. It is one of the poems I wrote while in college, and it is one of my favorites; but I had lost it until recently. I found it shortly before Phoebe was born while sorting through a stack of things to recycle, and I was bewildered. I thought it was lost. I’m so glad I’ve had it thumb-tacked to the wall this past month. It captures many aspects of how I feel about my daughter:

No Poem

What could you tell me that I
could not read in your eyes?
That I could not read on
your arms; that I could not
hear in your footsteps on the beach
or your sighs as you sleep
on my couch? I need no poem
to remind me why I love you.

If you were never to speak again,
I would know the sound
of your voice, of your laugh.
You are poem enough for all the
words we never need to say, for all the
poems we will never need to read.

newborn asleep face closeup

Phoebe, about to fall asleep. 2.5 weeks old.

Dear Phoebe:

I never expected you to smile at me hours after you were born. What a precious gift that was. I never expected your strong little legs or your big goofy giggles.

I was prepared, mentally, for the responsibilities of parenthood; I was mentally prepared for the fact that my human frailty would make caring for another being both draining and difficult. I spent so much strength and prayer preparing for the hard parts that the joys of your tiny little existence snuck up on me and blew me away.

I am floored by your personhood. I see the balance of strength and sensitivity in your little psyche, and I rejoice to see your moments of fortitude. I am glad I am able to be here for you in your hard moments, when you are scared, when the world is too overwhelming for you. I find a special joy in your curiosity and attentiveness.

first mothers day kiss newborn

Our first Mother's Day, under the apple tree in our backyard. 3.5 weeks old.

I love the way you stretch your little arms as you are waking up. When I nurse you to sleep, I love the way you will unlatch, lift your chin, and lay your head on my breast as a pillow. When you are wailing inconsolably, and I lie close to you to let you know you are not alone, I love the way your little fist will grasp my shirt and pull it close to you.

I will give you more kisses than there are stars in the night sky. Let us lay close and bask in each other’s presence. You and me and Papa make three. Or, maybe, one. Are these things really measurable? It makes no difference,. These things are. They exist. And our words exist to describe them, but will always fall short of the profound nature of existence.

You are. I am. Papa is. We love. That is all we really need to say.

asleep baby gdiapers

Phoebe asleep. 5 days old.

giggling baby changing pad

My little giggle-butt. My little goofy girl. I love her with all my heart. 4 weeks old.

By ekwetzel

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