I spent the past 5 days in a rural part of Illinois at a speech and debate tournament. The location of the tournament was a church in the middle of farmland and windmills. It seemed out of place, as if its location was a mistake, a building dropped right in the middle of farms. But people do attend there (a good-sized church in that rural area), and we had plenty of community judges who drove in and volunteered to judge speech or debate rounds.

I’ve been going to these tournaments now for the past 6-7 years, and do enjoy them, though I come back exhausted. I see some of the same people and have made a couple of good friends, other moms of debate and speech students, and that has been a huge blessing to me. We aren’t nearby and we don’t talk regularly or even often, but when we see each other at these tournaments, it’s a reminder that some like-minded folks are out there, as we have some things in common. When we get together, we do laugh a lot, and that, for me, is another thing to be thankful for. I can come up with jokes around certain people and others actually laugh. I love that. And I laugh at their jokes, too. I know I need some like-minded friends regularly present in my life. But the neat thing is we can also talk about big and serious things, too (when we aren’t busy working at the tournament, that is). We have specific tournament jobs and in the job I do, sometimes we are busy, as we were at this past tournament, and sometimes, not so busy. It’s a job that can vary, as it depends on questions and issues that may arise… the fewer questions and issues, the less busy we are, and of course, the more questions and issues, the more busy we are.

Did you know that a good, hearty belly laugh is like a good workout? Plus there are mental and emotional benefits, not to mention that laughter is infectious. If you want to read more about the benefits of laughter (before scientific research confirmed it), read this book: “Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient” (W.W. Norton & Co., 1979), by Norman Cousins. I actually read that book many, many years ago.

Lately (not sure how long now- months, years?), somehow, much of my personal writing has transformed from complete sentences and paragraphs into poems, and some poem-prayers (for lack of a better term to call it), and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but that’s what it is right now. I was writing something recently, and was writing actual sentences and paragraphs- and it looked and felt different, and that is when I realized that my writing was all poems now and had become the norm– for now, at least.

So here is one of those. It’s not edited much… actually, I shortened it from what it was, but if I let it sit and ruminate for a while, it could be whittled down to something much more concise. As it is, it is a “poem-prayer” and less of a poem.


iron ore


artificial ones
are not just created
in a lab
made by human hands
molded from parts
picked off the earth

some of these
walk around
with flesh and bone
and pretend the pumping blood
is giving true life
to the soul beneath

are they real
allowing a life to be lived
so that creation can be adored
scents inhaled
and life appreciated

even iron ore goes through its seasons:
stuck in a rock in layers
then melted in fire
transformed to hard steel

i can feel it– the risk
of steel rods forming—
and my heart turning—
acids and atmosphere of life
cause hardness and corrosion

if i should turn to steel
turn the furnace of change
hot enough
to melt my rod-iron eyes
and the steel-lined chambers
my heart has become

remind me
that iron ore
pulses underneath
just like magma flows
from the earth’s core

remind me that some kinds of fire
are good kinds of fire
not all fires burn and scald
and destroy, maim, kill

some fires
purify, mold, shape
into something stronger
than before
into a shape
of something
better, beautiful, beneficial
pointing to beauty in a
cold-pressed world

don’t let the arteries harden
because of acid-frost-winter
let me
fling this love in my hands
like scattered petals
across the path

remind me that
goodness and
beauty are here

show me—
i need some unexpected joy
so i know it’s you
show me
what is cut from the same cloth
because not all rocks are the same

i’ve been too long in a season
of drought, a desert, a wilderness
a famine
caught in layers and stuck
or burning in a furnace of cast-out embers

this megatron of pain and doubt
is shouting
and sometimes i fear
i’m in danger
of listening
and seeing only ash and gray smoke

speak to me louder
your word of truth
your word of help
let the frozen river
of what is cold
and biting
and forgotten
and desolate
melt and flow
like a lava of hope


© prasanta May 2017