See and See Again

beauty isn’t promised

between the wavering lines of hope and yesterday

lift your sail and sing

a moment of wish

a palm of blessing-

see and see again.


The Beauty of Coincidence

co·in·ci·dence  n.

1. The state or fact of occupying the same relative position or area in space.

2. A sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged.

The Backstory

Last post I introduced photographer, Jon Rowader, and wrote a poem to two of his images. The following week, I spent a few days helping my dad with my mom who suffers with Alzheimer’s.  He usually has a few projects for me while I am there. This time it was to help him clean out a closet. I battled the big spiders in the corners and casually opened an unmarked box, never dreaming what I was about to find. After my initial gasp, I dragged the box into the light and unpacked it.


The Coincidence

Here was the early life of Jon’s beautiful sister, Gretchen. All packed up into a long lost box. Trinkets, letters, photos, little girl jewelry, even an old baseball (not autographed.)

The Rest of the Story

Our home was a second home to Gretchen. She lived with us, vacationed with us, went to family parties with us, and eventually permanently moved in with us. Then, she went off to college, got married, had a great job, went through a divorce, and a long battle with depression/bulimia/anorexia. One January, we all travelled up north to my father’s cabin in the hills of Wisconsin. She informed us that she was moving and needed to get rid of her English Setters, Joe Caleb and Castle. My son, ten at the time, lit up, so Gretchen handed over the reigns (leash) of Joe Caleb to him and my parents adopted Castle.

In a way, Gretchen did move.

Into the arms of God.

A few short weeks later.

The Ugly Beautiful

The Ugly was Gretchen’s battle with depression. I can’t get into the details but she struggled fatally.

The beautiful is the memories we now have of her.

This past month I have been basking in the poetry of these memories, the beauty in coincidence, and finding the gift of Gretchen in my father’s closet.



No visual poetry this post.
Just the poetry of Gretchen, herself.



“Exploring the poetry of Beauty” might be a more appropriate title since that’s what’s on the agenda. My life has been sorely lacking in beauty and I’m in need of massive portions of it to balance the uglies. (Last week, the police found a body in the woods just down the road from me.  Life is precious and it is painful.) 

In light of that, maybe you need a good dose of beauty, too.

We’ll get to the whole business of eyes but first I want to answer some of my own aching questions.

What is Beauty?

I like this definition:

The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality.

Sound familiar? I rhink ir sounds like poetry. Every type of poetry—visual, the poetry of nature, babies, women, music, dance, emotion, etc.

Where is beauty?

I could humor you and say it’s here and there and everywhere. Sometimes beauty does appear before us and that is a great gift but often to find beauty we must do the hard work of searching.

Bear with me as I define “search.” It might seem like a no-brainer. Except for the fact that we miss so much. We think we see, but we don’t. Time, motion, commotion, concerns, chaos, cacophonies, not enough silence, too much silence. All of these block beauty.

Okay, one more definition.

What does it mean to search?

To make a thorough examination of; look over carefully in order to find something; explore; to examine in order to find something lost or concealed.

It’s that “lost or concealed” part that concerns me. Or rather delights me. The gems are found in the journey of searching.

In the beginning

For me, the Search for Visual Beauty begins with the Genesis of Visual Beauty. In the beginning, if you will. The Genesis of visual beginning is with our eyes. What we set before our eyes can create a world of neurological excitement, soothing pleasures, and wonder inside our brains. We can literally transform how we feel by what we see. And if it is Beautiful to you (beauty is in the eye of . . . ) it creates pleasure to the mind. (See definition above.)

In addition, what we see stimulates what we write. A bonus.


When we write a poem in answer or response to an image, it’s called Ekphrasis Poetry.

For today I am exploring the Genesis of Image in response to a photo manipulation by Jon Allen Rowader, a professional photographer in Houston who has an acute eye for light, angles, pattern, and texture.

Jon and I grew up near each other in the Chicago area. He’s been a photographer for thirty-six  years and twelve of those years he worked with the federal government in Washington DC. The majority of that time he was assigned to the Executive Branch as a photographer under four Presidential Administrations. He has an eye for composition.  Even the White House says so. (So , does Hollywood, it appears.) When I saw Jon’s images, I wanted to use them in my quest for poetic beauty and he kindly granted me the privilege.

In the blog world, the host is supposed to offer a call to action. It’s some rule somewhere. So, I charge you with this: Take some time. To See. And then challenge yourself to write in response to beauty. Search for it. Reveal it. Write it.

“The Genesis of Beauty”

by J.lynn Sheridan
In the beginning
where beauty shone first
Creation groaned 
    shadow foamed in
    wandering moons
and there was 
    motion revolving   
    pointing in the stark white of night.


       fevered reds 
and blue expanse  
golden hues unite
       earthy June and sky.


In the beginning.

Image.         Eye.           Delight.


In Search of Beauty–Tool 2

After I decided I needed to be more mindful of beauty, I discovered that Writing Our Way Home was offering a challenge to write a small stone every day this month.

A small stone is a short piece of writing (prose or poetry) that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment. The process of finding small stones is as important as the finished product – searching for them will encourage you to keep your eyes (and ears, nose, mouth, fingers, feelings and mind) open.

(a small stone: “bluebells hover above ground, a mist of spring. dark greens, the snap of twigs. at the exit of the woods the fields drop away. in the bowl of the vista, neat rows of poplars blaze orange.” For more examples of small stones, have a peek here.)

They, of course, have a Facebook page created for this challenge.If you’d like to join, head over to Writing Our Way Home for a more complete description. Feel free to share here or on your own blog. Or perhaps I’ll “see” you at the Facebook event.



Sipping Champagne

Too many images invade (assault) our sights hearts minds souls and drag us down, bury us, and leave us hopeless or in despair. This year, my quest is to override these images with my own amateur click and shoot photo’s on my journey to seek beauty despite or inside the ugly. Not to deny but to balance. Along the way, I will be sharing a few opportunities for you to join me.

Since my journey begins January 1, today’s images are courtesy stock.xnchg.

The prompt is courtesy Poetic Bloomings.

“Sipping Champagne”

Far too often I have stood
in the foothills and pondered
the mountain majesties
until sunset cools
and daybreak warms,


prowling the perimeter
camping on tumbleweeds
lapping dust when I could
be sipping champagne
at the summit.

Mountain Creek

Beauty rests among infinite
images, awaiting courageous
hearts to seek and find and inscribe
and proclaim, beauty in the beautifully-beautiful
and beauty in the ugly-beautiful,
in the awkward-beautiful,
in the struggle of beauty,


beauty in the wayward—beautiful,
in the yearning for beauty,
in the old beautiful and beauty in the now
where it calls from the new mountain
that I’ll climb with abandon

1409751_blue_mountains_-_sunsetGavin Terpstra

and along the way discover
stones of beauty
in the bruises of thorns,
in the ribbons of spontaneous trails
and the dew of mountain mornings
and the blue feathered phlox.


I’ll sip champagne in the foothills
of 2013 where my quest for beauty begins
and the summit woos me with rebirth.