Tag Archive | poetry

Poetry Month – Follow the Light

Song credits:
Words & music by John McCutcheon, Tom Chapin & Michael Mark
The weekend following September 11th I played at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS, as I’ve done for twenty years or more. Without the option of flying, I drove all night that Thursday to make my Friday afternoon and evening performances. When I finally got to my hotel room it was nearly midnight and, like most of the rest of America, I immediately turned on the television. I caught the very end of a prayer vigil in Manhattan. As the credits rolled the camera focused on a small circle of candles left by now-long-gone participants. In the center of this circle of candles was a hand-lettered sign, “Follow the Light Home to Me.” At breakfast the next morning I showed Tom and Michael the first draft of this song. We finished it that afternoon and debuted it that night.

Follow the Light

We were 7 and 8
My sister and I
Lost in the woods
When lightening filled up the sky
As we ran through the ran
We knew where to head
To the light on the porch
“Come home!” like Mama said

Chorus

Follow the light
When you’re lonely and lost
When out on the ocean
You are tumbled and tossed
Follow your heart
Wherever you may be
Follow the light on home to me

Out on the sea
The waves heave and rise
Far from the shore
When a storm mounts the skies
We look for a sign
For some welcoming sight
A beacon from home
To guide us on this night

Chorus

Bridge

There’s a hole in our skyline
There’s a hole in our town
There’s a hole in our hearts
The whole world around
How do we heal?
How do we see
The mercy that shines in you and me?
(We follow the light…)

When the world feels so big
And we seem so small
And you wonder if life
Has any meaning left at all
When you’re losing your heart
When you’re losing the fight
Hold on to my hand
And we will follow the light

©2001 John McCutcheon/Appalsongs (ASCAP)
Winfield, KS September 2001

April is Poetry month

ELECTION DAY, NOVEMBER, 1884.

Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest
scene and show,
‘Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor
your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-
loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones—nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes—
nor Mississippi’s stream:
—This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name—the
still small voice vibrating—America’s choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the
quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d—sea-board and inland
—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia,
California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and con-
flict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:)
the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the
heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.

Hymn to Brighid

Hymn to Brighid

Brighid, Lady of flame
Forge of me a link
In the chain
Of strong women
Create a song in my heart
Help me heal with love

Sing me a song of flames
Sing me a song of hammer and anvil
Sing me a song of peace
Sing me a song of creation

Make me strong
Make me shiny
Make me tempered
Make me precious.

Sing me a song of flames
Sing me a song of hammer and anvil
Sing me a song of peace
Sing me a song of creation.

Use me to help
Use me to heal
Use me to create
Use me to make real

Sing me a song of morning
Sing me a song of night
Sing me a song of between times
Sing me a song of your light.

Kat – TOILA Brighid ritual 2001

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
in days of auld lang syne?

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear
for auld lang syne
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou’d the gowans fine
We’ve wandered mony a weary foot
Sin’ auld lang syne

We twa a sport’d i’ the burn
From morning sun ’til dine
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand me trusty friend
And gies a hand o’ thine
We’ll tak a good right willie-waught
For auld lang syne.

Robert Burns

And do me a favour, and don’t piss off me gran and please sing ‘syne’ not ‘zyne.

At the moment

By John McCutcheon

At the moment they brought me the message
I was oceans and hours away
Wondering what I was doing
The moment that you slipped away

At the moment I’m looking out windows
At a night that hold only one star
In the morning it’s gone but I know it’s still
Shining afar

At the moment we raised up our voices
And a bit of our soul was set free
I’m still humbled and awed by the beauty
Of the small part of you that’s in me

We laughed and we danced on the table
And confounded the silence with song
In the dark of this night still it echoes so brightly
And strong

I don’t look for reward ever after
For I hold this life much too dear
From what I can tell both heaven and hell
We create in abundance right here

When the fire that burned is but ashes
And the stories have all been retold
The heat and the light will sustain us
Long after the hearth has grown cold

And grief has a place at the table
For it’s part of what we are made of
And it’ll stay long enough to remind us its mother
Is love

At the moment our lives become memory
And all of our dreaming is done
We shed what it is makes us different
And we don what it is makes us one

What is memory but time rendered timeless
Some small proof we each live anew
I refuse to surrender that small part of me
That is you

Some mark their days by the hours
Some mark their days by the signs
Me? I look to that star and where ever we are
We will shine

Epona’s Creed

Epona’s Creed

I believe in rolling seas

I believe in growing trees

I believe things that bloom

I believe in the changing moon

And all of these things I see

Come out of the air I breathe

They come from the fire and earth

These things that I hold of worth

I believe in faerie’s dreams

I believe in elven schemes

I believe that stones can dance

I believe there is more than chance

I believe in my sisters’ songs

I believe they make me strong

I believe the wheel has turned

This time we will not be burned

I believe in the eagle’s flight

I’ve flown with the owl at night

I listen to the raven’s call

There is wisdom there for all

I believe my hand can heal

I believe the goddess in the mirror is real I believe I have to sing That is how my soul takes wing.
Kat 2002

More because I’m campsick

You may think my dear, when you grow quite old,
You have left camp days behind.
But I know the scent of wood smoke
Will always call to mind
Little fires at twilight
And the trails you used to find.

You may think some day you have quite grown up.
And feel so worldly and wise
But suddenly out of the past a vision will arise
Of merrie folk with brown bare knees
And laughter in their eyes.

You may live in a house built to your taste
In the nicest part of town
But some day for your old camp togs
You’d change your latest gown
And trade them all for a balsam bed
Where the stars at night look down.

You may find yourself grown quite wealthy
Have all that gold can buy
But you’d toss aside a fortune
For days neath an open sky
With sunlight in blue water
And white clouds sailing high

For once you have been a camper
Then something has come to stay
Deep in your heart forever
Which nothing can take away
And heaven can only be heaven
With a camp in which to play.

Unknown

Blessed Beltane to all

Some Beltane doggerel:

Fire burn high

We weave and spin

Magic sings and the circle begins

Faeries and fae dance around us all

Some are big and some are small

Some are your neighbor

Some are your friends

Some won’t appear ’til the circle begins

Fire burn high

Illumine our hearts

We call to our spirits

When the circle starts

Dance and Dance

The circle prance

Goddess and God

Be here now

Green Man and Lady

Enter the circle now

We bow to magic

We bow to their shine

We welcome the Lady

To the circle divine

Wreath ring our heads

A ribbon we wind

‘Round the tree in the center

Our circle defined

We celebrate life

We celebrate love

We join hands below

And our hearts up above

So blessings of Beltane

Wherever you are

And while you are dancing

Remember to wish on a star.

Kat Robb 2015