Celebrate Creatively

Celebrate Creatively was an art-a-day prompt I put together for Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church for Advent of 2020. I wrote a poem for every day but one, and have published the collected poems here.

Celebrate Creatively prompts for 2020

“The Fall”

Though once I stood with solid footing
As the sun descends
As withered leaves breeze torn asunder,
Doubt cripples the earth beneath my soul.
Down I go,
Down I go.
From peak to hole,
I fall.

My peregrination now resumes
Though arduous the task.
Standing still upon a peak
Makes a stagnant life so bleak.
I’d rather fall and climb again,
And climb again.
From hole to peak,
I climb.


Lockdown hibernation
Left the streets barren
No cars honking,
Runners, dog walkers, yapping pups
Factories shuttered
Leaving cities desolate.
Every sidewalk crack
Sprang forth with blossoms
Birdsong filled the air.
The hooves of dear roamed the streets.
We tucked our wilderness away,
and life returned to the city.


We spin round on
Tilt-a-whirl lives.
Highs and lows.
Stomachs turned knotward.
We might clamber
Toward the center
of the Gravitron
To find peace
from the pressure.
Let your body
Enjoy the ride.
But let your spirit
break free
To see.
To laugh.
To explore.
To choose the next adventure.


In the most silent room on earth,
The heart still beats
Thrubbing our ears
To insanity.
Silence outside is false.
The little voice inside
We wish would go away?
We talk to it,
Bargain with it,
Admonish it,
Scream at it.
Voices on top of voices.
Cacophony on cacophony.
Just say hello,
And do the dishes,
Or call a friend,
Or dance madly.
The madness of losing your self
Brings the sanity of silence.


Sisyphus’ stone
Doesn’t last forever.
Every rain weathers it away.
Every roll down the hill
chips the boulder.
Both stone and man are gone.
Leaving only legend.
Burdens borne today
Are gone tomorrow.
Or next week.
Or next year.
Or next lifetime.
Tonnage bearing down,
I look for the chip,
A grain of sand, even,
And take another step
Toward legend.


What do you see?
Lines on a screen?
Lines turned to letters?
Letters turned to sounds?
Sounds turned to words?
Words turned to thoughts?
Thoughts turned from soul?

Do you see
The cadence of my voice?
The longing to be loved?
To show you love?
To matter?
You look.
Do you see?


Run, young one,
Run to the end.
To get the grade
To pass the class.
Ignore the green grass
Between your toes.
Just run. 
Run until you’re done.

Run, good soul,
Run to the end.
To get the house
To buy rich things.
Don’t sing
or dream or dance.
Just run.
Run until you’re done.

Or maybe,
Dance and dream and sing
With green grass between your toes.
And work for what and who you love,
And trust that love will be enough,
And let your spirit grow.


When I sing,
I do not sing.
When I sing,
I breathe.
Inhale joy or sorrow or rage.
Inhale feelings you lock up
Vaults inside vaults.
I load my lungs
With every bit of humanity
you struggle to accept.
I let it out.
I release it for you.
Let eons of humanity
reverberate through this body
Your pain, now our pain.
Your joy, now our joy.
Your sorrow, now our sorrow.
Your hope, now our hope.
And we cry, and laugh,
And bask in exaltation
From exhalation.
When I sing,
I do not sing.


I welcome you, my fear.
The sweet release of struggle
from the battles we have fought.
You have a place right here,
I welcome you, my fear.
I welcome you.

I welcome you, my doubt.
Speak soft your truths to me
that long I have denied.
You will not be cast out.
I welcome you, my doubt.
I welcome you.

Struggle and denial,
Divide my soul in two.
Turn self against the self.
I am one,
The battle done.
I welcome you, my fear.
I welcome you, my doubt.
I welcome you.


Underneath the tree sits a box
Wrapped in festive penguin paper.
Red bow glittering the twinkle
of soft white lights on the tree.
The tag holds my name
In silver sharpie letters.
Who is it from?
What lies inside?
A vague sense of size and weight
are the only clues I have.
An unexpected treasure?
A long unfulfilled desire?
A strange disappointment,
The kind you smile through
and pretend to love?
Soon I will know.
And so I unwrap my life
In moments of bow tearing
Paper shredding frenzy.
Opening and revealing
To find another today,
While a new box waits
for tomorrow.


A journey of a thousand miles
starts with a single step.”
Or so says, Lao Tzu.
But I say it starts with a blanket
Pulled over my head
Keeping the world away
While I devour a pint of ice cream,
And binge Netflix.
My demons call it laziness,
Sloth, depression.
But I know the truth:
The butterfly’s migration
doesn’t start with a single flap of wing.
It starts in a cocoon,
Melting into goo
Slowly becoming.
Growing wings.
Wrapped in a blanket
Safe from the world.


“I achieved enlightenment!”
My student proclaimed
Nine AM on a Monday
In the piano lab at
Pittsburgh University.
A young Buddha,
Awake and vibrant.
“That’s amazing, ” I replied,
With warmth and sincerity.
Who was I to contradict
what the divine had touched?

Why she felt the need
To tell a graduate assistant
Teaching beginning piano
I will never know.
But remembering now,
I am grateful she did.

— For Malcolm Kitty

Every evening
I crawl into bed
And the old man hobbles up,
Paws at the covers
Until I bend my knees
And lift them up.
Then, he slinks beneath the cover
and curls himself beneath my legs
as I unwind from my day.
Then, when he’s overheated
from his tabby coat
He crawls out,
and I lift the covers again.
He drinks from the water glass
I keep by my bed for him
And shuffles away into the darkness
as we both drift back to sleep.


What do you give
When you have nothing left to give?
When you’ve given your all,
Exhausted and spent,
Drained of will and spirit,
Ready to collapse?
Somehow, you reach inside.
Touch something
Beyond yourself
Because they are your kids.
And they don’t understand,
“I don’t have anything left to give.”
They just need your love.
And if we can do it for our children,
Why can’t we do it for each other?


Tell me why you’re wonderful
So I can tell the world.
You be the candle,
I’ll be the mirror.


In the beginning
was the word.
Nascent thought
I spoke aloud.
Next comes the becoming.
The arduous struggle
of letting go
Of all that is
Not the word
I profess my Self to be
Until I am my word
And my word is me.


We’re all rats in a cage.
(Diamond Davis, 21)

Some with fancy cages,
(Tyrone Wolfe, 18)

Little rat paradises.
(Bri’mar Livingston, 17)

Fauna, and wheels, and tunnels.
(Jaheem Atkins, 16)

Some with bare bones cages.
(Lezzette Jackson, 48)

Harsh cold metal, 
(Ethan Ellerbe, 18)

Some with a mischief,
(Kaheel Miles, 24)

Of other rats who love them.
(Harold Barnett, 20)

Some are all alone,
(Dondi Johnson, 34)

Running through mazes.
(Lakeisha Bell, 35)

We talk about good rats.
(Karl Smith, 19)

We talk about bad rats.
(Vincent McCoy, 52)

It’s time to talk about cages.
(Some of the 322 shooting victims in Baltimore in 2020)


“It’s 11:11” she says to me,
“Make a wish.”
“I wish for 11:12,”
I say to her dismay.
Blowing out candles on the cake,
I wish for the friends around me.
Seeing a shooting star,
I wish for clear skies
Even in my prayers,
I wish for the inevitable,
And am filled with glee
When my dreams are fulfilled.
Sometimes Hope isn’t about
the promise of tomorrow.
Sometimes, it’s about
The fulfillment of today.


Blessed are the poor,
You know…the guy begging
on the street corner
you won’t even
look in the eye.
Bent and hobbled
World worn.
He has a name.
It’s Matthew,
He likes to sing.
His eyes light up,
a glimpse
of youthful dreams,
If only you look him in the eyes,
and ask him his name.


Night sky planets kiss
Pinprick radiance piercing
our indifference.


In the middle of the argument,
I was winning
Or she was winning.
We both were hurting.
What’s the point of being right
If the battle field is scorched earth?
So I look for common ground,
Look to be on the same team.
How can we win together,
And leave gardens
in our hearts?


I want to melt
to release myself
into liquid form.
Free flowing
Seeping through
rocky paths.
I’m done trying
to keep myself
Crystalline structures
surrender to chaos.


My door is open,
Hang up your mask.
You don’t have to cover
who you are any more.
You can take off
the facade,
Hang up the coat,
Set your shoes aside.
Rest, recharge, and heal.
And when you are ready,
I will help you
with your armor,
Shoes, coat and mask
Freshly washed,
And ready for another day.


I want to feast on hugs
Gorge myself on laughter
On choir songs
or sing-a-longs
And have some cookies after.


I want to see you sparkle 
like glitter in the air.
A billion confetti disco balls
Scattered over multitudes.
And in two-thousand years,
They still won’t be rid of you.
They’ll call it Christmas,
And put tinsel on the tree
Shimmering strands dangling.
Sequined sweaters.
They’ll light their houses,
Light their hearts.
Whether they believe or not.