Archive for the ‘memorials’ Tag

In Memoriam   Leave a comment

Saint Francis

Image by Two Ladies & Two Cats via Flickr

Today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of talking about me, I’d like to remember an old friend.

This week, the world lost a good person, who was also a great poet. I met Father Emmett Jarrett about ten years ago, when I first started to become involved in the poetry scene in New London, Connecticut. To the poets who met weekly at Muddy Waters, he was simply Emmett, a poet who had a knack for putting a rhythm on a story, lull you to comfort with the quietness of his gravelly voice, and then drive the ending right through your heart. He could create humor out of tragedy, make you feel and care about people you will never meet, experience places and events you will never witness.

More than a poet, Father Emmett used his words outside the coffee houses and art galleries where the New London School of Poets would gather. His work within the church championed the needs of the less fortunate, shedding a glaring light on the injustices of pur society the rest of us would rather gloss over, ignoring those people who live in the third world right here on the streets of America. Right to the end he was faithful to his message and his life’s work. As fellow New London poet Megan J. and I walked to the front of St. James to say good bye, we knelt at a plain wooden box, not a pricey and polished casket.

As the managing editor of Chopper Poetry Journal, I was honored to publish Emmett’s work twice, in the first and second issue. One of his poems in Chopper 2, “Asleep in a Haystack”, takes on new meaning as the people of New London say goodbye.

Asleep in a Haystack

the taste of light

is the taste of mango juice

sweet and smooth

to the tongue

open eyes two

candles burning

street lamps outside

fade with

the dawn

the pilgrim asleep

in a haystack

dreams his staretz

points to a page

in the book-

“the one in you

is greater

than the one outside”

the taste of light

is smooth as the grain

of wood and the altar

sweeter than–

wake up pilgrim

dreaming of light

there is nothing

to fear

nothing

that is not

mango juice

to the taste

of light under

the haystack

fast asleep

–Father Emmett Jarrett, Chopper 2, December 2007

Goodbye, good pilgrim. Heaven has gained an angel.

To read more about the life and work of Father Emmett Jarrett, click here

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Shine Journal   Leave a comment

http://www.theshinejournal.com/petersonhelenr.htm

The past week has been a long one for me, going back to work, sending two of three kids off to school. One thing that has suffered is the blog here, and I apologize if you’ve missed me the past couple of days. I promise to catch up.

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks, and in honor of that day,  I’ve posted my one and only 9/11 poem, published last year in The Shine Journal.  Unlike many other writers, it took me four years to write on the subject. On September 11, 2001, I listened to the first reports on NPR as I took my son to preschool, thinking that it had just been a small plane, mildly concerned. I should add that we didn’t have a tv at that time, no internet, no cell phone. It wasn’t until I got to work and saw my coworkers circling a monitor in the back, shell shocked, anxious. It wasn’t until my son’s preschool, state run, called and said I needed to pick him up, that the governor was closing all state buildings. It wasn’t until I went home and stared up at a sky free of jet trails that it hit me what we were dealing with. At that point the threads that connected the events to me were either too thin or rock solid to write about. It was only when my son, now seven years old, was baptized on the fourth anniversary of the attacks that I could find a way in to the emotions I felt that day in a way that I hoped made sense to the rest of the world, and approached the topic in a new and interesting way.

This year I sent another child to preschool for the first time. I am more connected to the world than I ever thought possible, for better or for worse. I look at the world, at the mess we’ve made of things, the hope of a more united country and world fizzling as we split hairs over what we call a community center. It makes me want to write another poem, only I can’t find a way in…yet…

Maybe you can. Give it a try, what has changed for you in the past nine years? How do world events connect you to the world around you? Find an in, write it out, and feel free to post it here.