Monday, February 28, 2011

Children's Story: Let's Call Him Gupper


“I promise I’ll go to sleep if you just tell me one more story.  Please.  Please.”

“But mommy’s tired, dear, and we have to get up early tomorrow.” 

“Oh, please.  I won’t fuss in the morning.  I’ll eat my breakfast quick as a wink and brush my teeth too.” 

I sat back down on the edge of the bed and then lay down next to my little boy.  A story.  How many more stories before he’s all grown?

“Okay, but it’s going to be short.”

“Once upon a time, there was a little fish that lived in the ocean.” 

“What kind of fish, mom?”

“I’m not sure. He was just little”

“Did he have a name?”

“Let’s call him Gupper.”

“Gupper was scared of the bigger fish, and was especially afraid of the shark that swam by every day looking for food.  Gupper knew he was just what the shark was looking for.” 

“You mean the shark wanted to eat him?” 

“Yes, that’s what I mean.”

“So, every day Gupper hid behind a rock on the bottom of the ocean and hoped the shark would pass him by.  There were lots of other little fish that would hide near him.  After the shark was gone, they would come out from their hiding places and talk about how scared they were.  Gupper knew the shark would eventually find them.  They needed a plan.”

“Are fish really smart, mom?  What kind of plan do you think they had?”

“Well, Gupper called a meeting of all the little fish and they talked about their problem.  None of them wanted to be eaten by the shark.  As he looked at all the frightened fish, Gupper came up with an idea.  He told the group they would need to practice to pull it off, but he thought it just might work.”

“The next day, the shark came by at exactly noon.  He swam past the rock and then was confronted by a really big fish that swam at him with great speed and turned away at just the last second.  The shark had never seen a fish that big or one with that much speed.  It was a blur of color and motion.  The shark swerved off in the opposite direction, suddenly fearing for his own life.”

“But, mom, where did the really big fish come from?”

“Well, Gupper’s plan was quite simple.  When all the little fish worked together and swam together, they could form themselves into the shape of a really big fish.  It gave them power and size that none of them had by themselves.  By working together, they overcame their greatest fear and their biggest obstacle.”

“Did the shark ever bother them again?”

“Oh, the shark came around from time to time, but he always moved on to look for other prey.”

“Gupper sounds pretty smart, mom.”

“Gupper was a very smart little fish who knew that he needed friends in the ocean to help him survive.  We all need friends.  It makes everything a little easier.”

“I’m glad you’re my friend, mom.”

“I’m glad you’re my friend, too, son.  Now get some sleep.  Have magic dreams and a bright tomorrow.  Love you.  Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, mom.  Thanks for the story.  I hope I’m as smart as Gupper when I grow up.”

“You will be.  You already know it’s good to have friends and treat them right. A lot of grown-ups never figure that out.” 

“I guess they never heard about, Gupper.”

“I guess you’re right.”

"I love you."
"I love you back."

Swimming in schools is a common defense method for fish.  You can read more about it on the following website:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Poem: Take Off Your Armor

Rita - 1953 - with older sisters

Take Off Your Armor 
 We are born vulnerable,
reliant on others to hold us
feed us,
hug us,
love us,
helpless in every way,
needing others
for our very survival,

 we learn to walk,
read, write,
cry, sigh,
ask why,
discern truth,
get hurt,
always moving, moving

at last,

but wait,

not so fast,

remain vulnerable,
no need to go it alone,
it is after all
the heart of who we are,

 when did it become a weakness
 to need others,
to express longings?

numbing our emotions,
we trudge forward
with our armor on,
our shield up,
we deflect intruding
going it alone,

I say
give it up,
put down the shield,
take off your armor,
embrace your vulnerability,
expose your heart,
accept the truth of
your humanity,

It's there in each of us
waiting to be set free,

at last,

put down your shield,
take off your armor,
I promise you'll be okay.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Poem: Snatch the Light

Snatch the Light

The sun is shining so brightly this February day,
I feel stirrings of spring
even though I know there
is winter left in the wind,

I feel powerful today
because of the promising sun,
 It helps me conquer the gloom
of ice-laden days
and dark cloaking nights,

nights full of shadows, misgivings,
insecurities, weariness,

no more, I say,
I will take this snatch of light,
store it safely in my core,
until the darkness falls,

I will pull it out
casting bright rays
across the landscape of darkness,
bringing winter to an end
even though
it still stirs in the wind.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Poem: A Palace of Words (an ode to bookstores)

Borders Bookstore announced today that it has filed for bankruptcy and will be closing over 200 stores nationally.  There is a Borders in my neighborhood that I have frequented with much regularity since it opened.  I think it has been here for at least 15 years.  I am sad to think about it closing, I feel guilty about occasionally buying books from Amazon, thus hastening the demise of brick and mortar bookstores. There is a lady who works at my Borders who has an encyclopedic memory for books and an emotional connection to readers.  I’ve walked in before and said  I need a book on a specific topic and she will lead me directly to the right section and even recommend a few titles adding her own personal critique.  That type of service is not easily obtained from the internet.  So, to allay my guilt and ease my sadness, I have written a poem in praise of bookstores.

 A Palace of Words

A grand royal palace of all that is written,
Paved with fine aisles of glistening books,
Crowded on shelves, spine to spine touching,
They patiently wait with fetching good looks,

Awaiting word seekers to grasp their fine backs,
Lifting so gently, caressing their flaps,
Then finding soft chairs in cozy back nooks,
They fall fast asleep with books in their laps,

The smell of the ink,
The rippling pages,
The bustle of shoppers,
Wiser than sages,

They know that a bookstore is one special place,
Where books reign supreme and readers convene,
To savor the books in a space they can touch,
It has a real pulse, if you know what I mean,

You can’t be replaced, you palace of words,
You mustn’t depart, leaving shelves full of dust,
An empty grand palace would be such a loss
You simply must stay; it’s simply a must.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Poem: Velvet Curtains

 Velvet Curtains

Too much exposure,
turn down the lights,
leave something
to the imagination,

Some vague allure,
a hint of smoke
and mirrors
to dim the harsh
glaring realities,

I need mystery;
velvet curtains
hiding dark images,

let the stage
reveal a tale of wonder,
where humanity

acting with grand strokes
of imperious grace,
remaining above the fray,

where what we imagine 
becomes real,
where reality
quietly slips away
in a boat
swiftly carried toward
the horizon,

beyond thought,
beyond worry,

turn down the lights,
turn up the mystery.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Poem: A Stack of Words

Rita Bourland © 2011- Stack of  Poetry

A Stack of Words

I stack my words
in poet’s form
the structure
ebbs and flows
the words connect
from high to low
and back and forth
they go

count them up
or count them down
 still just words
in space
an online verse
a conga dance
a poet’s
 tour de force
of course

but print the words
on paper fine
one poem atop another
a year of poems
a year of verse
a year of winsome wonder

a stack of words
it does become
a mighty stack of words
it gives me pause to view
this feat
my words
my strength
my hunger

for writing this
and writing that
and sometimes
saying nothing

but sometimes when
the magic strikes
I say something to ponder
it might just clap like thunder

on days like that
I’m glad I write
my lovely
stack of words

 so join me for a time
listen to a rhyme
share a year of words
a mighty stack of words

I ask
I hope
I pray
I plead
I never
lack for words.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Live Poetry Reading - My Parrot's Very Bright

I'm trying something a little bit different today.   Instead of typing my poem as an entry, I've done a live reading on YouTube of one of my children's poems.  Enjoy!

My Parrot's Very Bright
written by Rita Bourland ~ Illustrated by Philip Bourland