Welcome to
Transactions with Beauty.
Thanks for being here.
I hope that this is a space that inspires you to add something beautiful to the world. I truly believe that 
you are required to make something beautiful.

– Shawna



A Hard Time to Be Human

A Hard Time to Be Human

The air is filled suddenly with the scent of lilacs, which I love. When we planted our yard 18 and 19 years ago, we planted all the varieties. We have a small row of Korean lilacs rimming our deck, a lilac tree, several lilac bushes. I didn’t know then, that I would become allergic to them. Still, the mornings are glad, each one of them, even as I sneeze while drinking my coffee outside. And I’m glad to look into my yard and see again, that most things have over-wintered. That there are leaves on the branches. That this very old thing continues to happen, as said in the Joyce Sutphen poem below. If you’ve not read her work, I’d very much recommend it. 


Some Glad Morning

by Joyce Sutphen

One day, something very old
happened again. The green
came back to the branches,
settling like leafy birds
on the highest twigs;
the ground broke open
as dark as coffee beans.

The clouds took up their
positions in the deep stadium
of the sky, gloving the
bright orb of the sun
before they pitched it
over the horizon. 

It was as good as ever:
the air was filled
with the scent of lilacs
and cherry blossoms
sounded their long
whistle down the track
It was some glad morning.


– from Naming the Stars by Joyce Sutphen

morning cup with rooster

Another poet I have a lot of use for is Ellen Bass. She says so much in this next poem.

The World Has Need of You

by Ellen Bass

everything here
seems to need us 
                                 – Rainer Maria Rilke

I can hardly imagine it
as I walk to the lighthouse, feeling the ancient
prayer of my arms swinging
in counterpoint to my feet.
Here I am, suspended
between the sidewalk and twilight,
the sky dimming so fast it seems alive.
What if you felt the invisible
tug between you and everything?
A boy on a bicycle rides by,
his white shirt open, flaring
behind him like wings.
It’s a hard time to be human. We know too much
and too little. Does the breeze need us?
The cliffs? The gulls?
If you’ve managed to do one good thing,
the ocean doesn’t care.
But when Newton’s apple fell toward the earth,
the earth, ever so slightly, fell
toward the apple.

– from Like a Beggar

rooster mug

I love how both of these poems start with the acknowledgement of these old happenings, ancient prayers, things that recur through time. The gesture of our arms swinging, and the leaves which know when it’s the correct moment to make their grand entrance.

It’s a hard time to be human, but here we are. The clouds have taken their place on the stage, the leaves are ready to go on. The blossoms are on cue. The world, in spite of, is good, it’s glad. It’s putting on the show. And you? Are you ready? Have you done one good thing? Does it matter if the ocean carries it away? if it’s lost? (It’s never really lost). The world needs your goodness, your gladness, your lovely small deeds. Do you remember what Rilke said? 

“For the sake of a few lines one must see many cities, men and things. One must know the animals, one must feel how the birds fly and know the gesture with which the small flowers open in the morning.” 

Be like the small morning flowers, making small gestures, grandly. So small that only the poets notice. 


Further Advice for Writers

Further Advice for Writers

Walking Without the Dog

Walking Without the Dog