Poetry Thursday: Cat Mind

Zoo-tanica, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


a cat contemplates
the clematis blossom
which reminds her of
whiskers - the way they warn
her not to try to squeeze
through a space
too small for
the rest of
her lithe

copyright 2006 by Maureen Shaughnessy

This week's Poetry Thursday prompt was to carry around a poem in our pockets and read it over and over or whatever ... then post it here. I took some liberties with the prompt -- instead of carrying around someone else's poem, I wrote out in longhand, one of my own from a long time ago. Having it to read whenever I was at a long stoplight, in the bathtub, over my english muffin and coffee breakfast ... helped me see that all I needed to "do" to the poem to make it better was change the physical shape of the words and lines. I wanted to create a shape like what the cat was thinking as it contemplated the clematis .. and it's own whiskers and round shape.

The other result of carrying this around all week was that I had it on my mind when I was wandering around one of my customer's gardens and I shot a couple of photos (one of their cat, the other of a clematis so I could put together a different kind of visual to go with this visual poem. I titled it "Zootanica."
To read more of the Poetry Thursday participant's take on poem-in-a-pocket, click this button and read the comments:

In case anyone is curious, here are the two photos I used for the image above:

Poetry Thursday: a poem in your pocket


Reflection Contemplation

Reflection Contemplation, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Delicate lace-like intricacy of ripples.


Little Creek

Little Creek, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Every rill is a channel for the juices of the meadow. Last year's grasses and flower-stalks have been steeped in rain and snow, and now the brooks flow with meadow tea.
-- Henry David Thoreau, from his journal entry for March 8, 1840


Depths of Blue

Depths of Blue, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


Poetry Thursday ... when the time comes to let go ...

Blackwater Woods

This week's totally optional idea on Poetry Thursday is to write about or share a poem about time, however we interpret that concept. I am being lazy this week (actually, I am being overwhelmed with work projects this week) so I am posting someone else's poem instead of writing my own.

I was first introduced to Mary Oliver's poetry during a massage session. My massage therapist read me the poem, Wild Geese ... and I found myself weeping -- tears of both sadness and acceptance for my own life's journey -- on her massage table.

That was over 20 years ago. The next year, I was asked to read something at a friend's memorial service and I chose Oliver's poem, In Blackwater Woods. Since then I have grown to admire and respect Mary Oliver -- to love her poetry and to wish that she would be honored as the Poet Laureate of the U.S. someday. I can think of no one I would rather see honored that way.

So, today I want to share one of those first two poems of Oliver's -- the one that I felt ) and still feel) most connected to, In Blackwater Woods.

I have made several mixed media collages specifically to illustrate this poem. I hope you enjoy reading this poem in this context, even if you have read it hundreds of times before ... or if you have never come across Oliver's poems, I am honored to introduce you to her work:

Dusk at Blackwater Wood, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails are bursting
and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Poem by Mary Oliver

for more about Mary Oliver and a few of her poems, check out the page about her at the Academy of American Poets.

Check out other Poetry Thursday posts about TIME, by clicking this button:


This is a small part of what we stand to lose ....

V, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Earth, so precious, so fragile, so complex and awesome.


Sultry Late Afternoon at the Lake

taken at Cox Lake, near Helena


Beautiful Sunday

., originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

made for


Abstract Distraction

., originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


Sun setting in grass

Sun setting in grass, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

The wildfires in Idaho are thickening our normally clear air. It's a summer soup of color out there. The smoky air makes for some outrageously beautiful sunsets.

I shot this almost-abstract photo lying across our sleeping bags. Tim had spread them out in the upper meadow. We slept under the stars. There was a gentle persistent breeze out here in the open but that didn't discourage the mosquitos. I stayed awake for a long time, mostly because I couldn't resist waving those micro-monsters away from my ears (their buzzing is one of my least favorite sounds in the whole world!) Sometime in the wee hours, the mosquitos gave up foraging for blood and I finally drifted off into a dream.


Gravitational Pull

Gravitational Pull, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


"She did it" .... "Did not" .... "Did so!"


Today and Yesterday ... the Land of Lotsa Rain

., originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

looking up at the rain running down in rivulets on my umbrella


Moon Rising in Grasses

Moon Rising in Grasses
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

... as in a dream, the moon is tiny,
about the size of my hand, and
as it rises it seems to be
inside the grasses, not far beyond
near a horizon -- well,
there are no horizons --
no limitations like a horizon.

In a dream, one is
in the air, or lying on the ground,
or sitting
at a table with one's beloved ....
or flying or leaping without gravity or
maybe dancing on a stage
that is not really a stage ....
with someone who also knows how
to dance effortlessly, perfectly
not on one's toes

And nightime objects --
like this moon, this orb
of icy light --
are not "out there" in space
somewhere, but are very much
in here, in one's heart,
in one's dreaming mind

And they -- those objects
one finds
in lost corners of a dream --
they have personality, energy,
numinous life

And so, even in the darkness
if one yearns purely enough, and
searches with earnest
one can find light
in the heart of a dream

--Maureen Shaughnessy
copyright 2006


Poetry Thursday: Are you listening?

Poem, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


There are no words in
this poem
only small shifts in stance
like quick hand signals against
the light

there are no words
in this poem
only what these seeds
whisper when wind,
like breathing, sighs against
their softness

I usually post a Poetry Thursday poem on my other blog, Raven's Nest, but for some strange reason this week I feel like posting it here. This poem began with the Poetry Thursday challenge to write a poem using words I overheard somewhere.

Check out other Poetry Thursday posts by clicking this button:

Poetry Thursday: another (completely and totally optional) idea — are you listening?


The Watcher ... he enjoys these quiet times in the country

To me, this photo conveys an important aspect of Sam's life right now ... he loves to just watch ... and although he's deaf, I believe he's listening with his eyes and with his memory, to the stillness, the beauty (this was taken right before sunset last weekend, when Tim, Sam and I camped out on some friends' land) ... he was watching the dying rays of sun, the far distance, and feeling totally comfortable with his "pack" -- his humans -- lying by his side. That's the best of life for a guy who is technically older than 100!


Light is Alive

Sultry Late Afternoon at the Lake, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Have you any doubt that each and every part of the world is alive? That everything has a spirit, an energy that connects it to every other thing?

Even the elements, even objects we consider "inanimate" have a spirit and have life.

Whether you think of the above statement as a metaphor, or you imagine it poetically .... or you know it to be true in a very real sense ... or you think it's a bunch of hogwash ... please view this slideshow with an open mind and allow yourself to be inspired.


Everything is Alive

Everything is Alive, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

and tells a story if you listen:

watch the slideshow if you'd like ....


Valley Dusk

Valley Dusk: Goodbye for now, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Photo taken near our house on my way home from one of my client's houses out in the Helena Valley. Hay farming and horse/cattle ranching are still ongoing in the valley. This view will be a housing development within the next two or three years. I will be sorry to lose these idyllic, peaceful views when the housing boom reaches it's fingers into all the beautiful and little-appreciated places where we live. It's happening all over the West. sigh.


Passing Storm on Saskatchewan Prairie

This is a digitally re-arranged/tweaked/manipulated (take your pick) version of the original shot here.

Although I like the original a little better, I thought I would post this for comment. This version also appeals to me for it's somber tones, the feeling of time passing with the storm, the way it seems more like a memory or dream than the other, more vibrant and clear photo. I also like this one for its' quality of encroaching darkness (or receding darkness, depending on how you see it ...)


Day of Grace

Day of Grace, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

I would like to include with this digital painting, the words of
John Gillespie McGee, which have been used time and time again .... still I love the feeling evoked in this short poem. I hope I haven't misquoted him. Here it is:

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun split clouds - and done
a hundred things you have not dreamed of
Wheeled and soared and swung
high in the sunlit silence
Hovering there I've chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft
through footless halls of air
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
where never lark nor even eagle flew
And while, with silent lifting mind I've trod
the high, untrespassed sanctity of space
put out my hand and touched the face of God

-- Fl. Officer John Gillespie McGee 1922-1941


Wild West Highway Memory Tree

We Remember

We Remember, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Confirmation of the Blessed Ones


Soft Landing

Soft Landing, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Left and Right Brain come together in the creative mind, in the lucid dreamtime.

Cloudbreak Congregation

Cloudbreak Congregation, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

An abandoned church near Laura, Saskatchewan still home to a congregation .... of birds and discarded furnishings ...


Passing Storm

Passing Storm, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.