Friday, November 30, 2007

Artifact of Provocation, Mischief

Flowing at absurd angles

beyond henna and hurry,

luminous hair

with hues surpassing

typical sartorial idiom.

She is twirl, shift, shadow

in the lineage of Saraswati:

destructive, creative

on scale according to breath.

And pulse:

momentary diastole,

actual systole.

Incendiary release

on streets made wicked

by grown children

lacking her laugh.

For every purple,

she seeks the density of clay.

For every green,

she approaches journeywork of the stars.

For every illuminated tangerine

that teases the tongue,

she scatters upward confetti

that trace city air:

A glorious night

of paper fireworks

igniting to wreak havoc

on the backsides of her knees

damp with lurid panting, pulling play.

No slow show greets her

near the edge of all abandon.

It is rush and random.

Opalescence cascading,

coalescing, acquiescing.

The dew, the dawn,

the smoke, the desert

all meet at her heat:

Opportunity to push,

to feel the edge

of her farcical, fanciful friction.

Uneasy balance of emerge,

a teasing moment of take

that glides into give.

She does not diminish,

does not turn to husk

or withered wisp.

Her life is a living artifact

of provocation, mischief.

She becomes




Eminent reminder

of her place

on and in and of.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fox Sparrow Teaches Patience

Lesson One:

Its absence.

Lesson Two:

Worry that longing, preoccupation

thwarted seasonal sighting.


Stories of missing

recounted to the new friend

who put her arm in yours.


Virtual image arrives unexpectedly,

a fun, perhaps flirtatious, gesture

from aforementioned friend.

There are many ways to have a bird in the hand.

Find joy in what is before you.

Then the lesson ends.

Or begins:


your head turns

to a window

stained with autumn glare.

A perfect perch of not one,

but five, materializes

for you to see,

what you were meant to see.

Karen G. Johnston

Friday, November 9, 2007

Praise Come Again

Praise the heady days

Come again

When young women

Full of themselves

In the best possible

Meaning of the phrase

Saunter boldly, playfully,

On cold winter sidewalks

In their own good company

Declaring among themselves

Loud enough for all to hear

There’s no room in my uterus for religion

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Demarcated Measures

Pumping gas I set my sights for the double zero.

It makes it easier to balance the checkbook

I tell my avidly observing daughter.

I aim for the same on the elliptical,

the digital display counting

minutes, even seconds, of movement.

Each day of exercise, I make notations

on the monthly calendar affixed

to the bedroom wall.

Lists of tasks at work or home, written,

rewritten, checks for those completed.

As if maturity, productivity, even

personal evolution, can be proved,

by graphite marks on scraps of paper

all headed for the recycling bin.

This is what I do:

make some tiny mark

somewhere anywhere

that denotes I was here,

that my meaning made sense,

was measurable,

was lasting.

I have unremitting desire

for demarcated measures:





inevitable decline

It does not disturb me

that I am already

halfway through.

It is enough to feign

knowing where I stand

in this segmented life.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Making Common Cause with the Losers

This morning I conducted (conducted? facilitated? officiated? led?) the religious services (9:15 and 11:00) at the Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence, where I am a member. Its title comes from a quote by Dr. Paul Farmer in Tracy Kidder's book, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.

I worked really hard on this sermon -- both in letting it come together and feeding my patience that it would come together before deadline, and then once there was far too much written, finding the cohesive message for this day. (In writing, I think I came up with material for at least one, perhaps two other sermons or homilies, but who knows if they will come to fruition...) I also put in much effort to make the whole service be of one cloth, to contain many internal references so that there was a chance to encounter recurring themes over and over: redistributive justice, neighbor, fight the long defeat, preferential option for the poor.

This was quite a thrill for me, in so many ways. To put into motion something I have worked on for many weeks (eight official drafts, but likely more). To be among my fellow congregants and have the chance to be a spark in their lives. To see the sea of faces, so many familiar to me, many of them known to me -- there were special guests there, which was a thrill of a different sort. I got to read story to the children of the congregation and I loved the chance to sit with them, to hear their perspective, to get a giggle out of them. I loved getting a giggle out of the congregation too, as well as some sighs of having said just the right word or phrase that resonated with the listener. That is quite a joy!

I am exhausted, not only from the exchange of energy in creating the whole service, but on the more mundane level, because I was so filled with adrenalin this morning, I didn't have my morning tea. So all day I've had no caffeine (since I can't drink caffeine of any sort after noon or will be up til midnight...) and I'm t i r e d...

As always, my sermons can be found at a different blog. The link for this one is (you'll probably have to cut & paste into your subject bar).

-- Karen