Saturday, May 14, 2011

About what's at the center

I used to question     what was
at the center      of me
all the time      searching
for answers      to half-formed questions

such a waste      of time

so much better      to give from the center
now I teach      young people
now I love      my wife and sons
now I write      poems to share

the center is important      but so is reaching out
looking inward      to find
what you have      to give

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to a prompt at Big Tent Poetry about what's at the center. This is a prompt that I always intended to respond to during April, but just didn't get to; I think because it scared me.

I offer it today as a farewell to Big Tent Poetry. I have been a benefactor of the wonderful founders and participants of that online community - and for that I am most grateful. It has helped me find a voice that I wasn't sure I had within me. To borrow part of a line from Elizabeth, whose poetry I admire: I have come "to the sound of my own soul singing".

I am in a very different place in my poetry writing than the founders of Big Tent Poetry. I certainly don't feel confident enough to host a site as they have done and as others are doing. I am still finding my center and doing what I can to reach out. I will do my part and write the best poems I can, and offer encouragement to others who are doing the same. And I will always be grateful to the wonderful people who host sites, like Big Tent Poetry, that are such a force for beautiful communication.

And I wish Carolee, Deb, and Jill the best of luck at A Fine Kettle of Fish. I will be following their efforts. I hope the kettle will find them more centered as well as reaching out and inspiring each other. They have certainly given enough of themselves, and for that I am grateful.


  1. Richard, you are wise. Sometimes asking questions is a waste of time. The young people you teach are lucky indeed to have such a teacher as you. I used to teach, too, and i recognize a kindred spirit. I inspired a lot of 'budding poets' those years, as I am sure you do too. It IS important to know what you have to give!

  2. Mary, thank you for the kind and thoughtful comments. I think we can find out who we are inside by the actions we take. We don't need to ask questions, we just need to do - and that gives us the answers.


  3. Richard, I agree with Mary. There is wisdom in your thinking. Your wife and your son are blessed to have landed a man with depth of soul. Our response to life forms our character. If that's intact the center takes care of itself.

    Your students are lucky to have you, too. A gentle, generous man with integrity is a good role model for both boys and girls.


  4. Brenda, thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments. If there is wisdom in that poem, it took me a long time to figure it out. I appreciate what you said about integrity; that's something I've been talking to my students a lot about lately, as they prepare to go off to middle school.