Ides of September and a penultimate line

Hibiscus © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017Hello. September is well upon us (halfway over tomorrow). How have you been?

My thoughts are with all those who have been affected by the recent hurricanes and those who have been living in smoke-filled and dangerous places due to all the wild fires.

When the news gets to be too much, I never know what to write in this space. Before these catastrophes, I was trying to think about the general topic of cynicism, but I am still thinking. We’ll see whether I can draft anything cogent to present here.

Meanwhile I haven’t blogged in a while and I wanted to share something so I looked up public domain poems to accompany the marigold photographs below. I am interested in re-discovering “old” poetry that sounds contemporary. First I found “Marigolds” by Robert Graves (here’s the link); but as luck would have it I stumbled on his poem “Mr. Philosopher” and I found it more appealing.

I love the second to last line – it shakes up everything and makes us all overtired children.  Here’s wishing you fun.

Peace, love, and solace,


Mr. Philosopher

Old Mr. Philosopher
Comes for Ben and Claire,
An ugly man, a tall man,
With bright-red hair.

The books that he’s written
No one can read.
“In fifty years they’ll understand:
Now there’s no need.

“All that matters now
Is getting the fun.
Come along, Ben and Claire;
Plenty to be done.”

Then old Philosopher,
Wisest man alive,
Plays at Lions and Tigers
Down along the drive—

Gambolling fiercely
Through bushes and grass,
Making monstrous mouths,
Braying like an ass

Twisting buttercups
In his orange hair,
Hopping like a kangaroo,
Growling like a bear.

Right up to tea-time
They frolic there.
“My legs are wingle,”
Says Ben to Claire.

Robert Graves


Marigold © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Marigold © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Posies © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Posies © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017



Happy Labor Day

Love you © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017Hello there!  It’ll be just a short post today as I don’t think anyone is thinking too much about writing. It’s the beginning of a long weekend, the last one of summer. Already in Chicago the nights are chilly, and yesterday I saw geese fly overhead. I wonder whether this means our upcoming winter will be a fierce one.

Congrats to Solace in So Many Words contributor Elizabeth Kerlikowske; the Michigan poet was just awarded the Community Medal of Arts by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.

If you’re a subscriber to Rattle, check out Donna Hilbert’s poem “Rambler” in the latest issue (#57).

If you have an interest in the Chicago lit scene, Adam Morgan’s “Chicago” is the latest city guide in Poets & Writers. It’s pretty comprehensive. Here’s the link.

Finally with Labor Day almost upon, you can read “What Work Is” by  SISMW contributor and past U.S. Poet Laureate Phil Levine by clicking here.

Peace, love, and solace

Two sisters © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Two sisters © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017




Is prayer your source of solace?

A shining moment © Ellen wade Beals, 2017Lately I have been thinking about prayers and the Higher Power. It’s a recurring subject for me.

Have you ever been fortunate enough to have someone sincerely tell you, “I’ll keep you in my prayers” or “I’ll be praying for you.”?

Has anyone ever suggested you should pray about a problem?

Or, have you noticed associates on FB asking for prayers for an ailing relative? Sometimes the request is prefaced with an affirmation like “I believe in the power of prayer.”

Do I?

And to whom am I praying?

Do I still believe as I did as a child at Our Lady of Mercy that there is a man even better than Santa Claus who listens to each child’s petitions and acts wisely? Benevolent. Omnipotent.

Do I think someone listens to my prayers?

Not all prayers are petitions. Some are expressions of gratitude and thanks. When beauty in some form or a feeling of well-being leaves me gobsmacked, to whom am I saying thank-you?

In Solace in So Many Words the poem “Calculus” by D. I. Gray, which I share below, appealed to me because it sees “a symmetry implicit” or divine order to the world (at least in my interpretation). The intricate mathematics of the universe is evident to me in so many ways (for instance, the repetition of patterns in nature) and such order convinces me that randomness and coincidence could not create anything so detailed and amazingly interrelated.

And yet.

The skeptic/cynic in me considers the world as we know and although I see order, I do not know if this came into being by the act of a divine hand.

I wonder whether prayer doesn’t just fill a void for those who pray; that it fills the space usually occupied by the Unknown with hope. Prayer is a type of hope, I think.

The pragmatist in me comes to realize that if prayer has a chance of working, it can’t hurt to try. After all it is free and convenient; lines are open 24/7.

Those who know me know I like to go to the casinos, which says something about me, I know. It says something about an innate characteristic, and that is: I believe in luck.

Gamblers believe in breaks and coincidences. Gamblers think you can tap into the energy of the roulette ball so it finds its way to the money. Even blackjack players who play according to the odds and always make the logical choice whether to hit or stay will tell you that the odds don’t help when you don’t get the cards.

If I innately believe in luck, I must thereby innately believe in another Force at work. (Sorry, if I sound like Star Wars).

So in this moment, since it doesn’t cost to pray and I don’t have to know who the dealer is, I’ll put in my ante and take the bet.

How about you? Do you pray? How do you envision God or the Higher Power? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Peace, love, and solace



by D. I. Gray

Well, maybe it’s the smallness of your hands,
how carefully they carve onto the page
the pieces of expressions—operands
and lean manipulations on the stage

of mathematics, with its varying players
whose entrances and exits leave a mark
indelibly: the alternating pairs
of conjugate relations, squares with stark

configurations, differences or sides
insisting on a balance in the mix.
But it could also be something that hides
within those hands, within the pencil’s flicks,

that I have not yet seen, a symmetry
implicit, quietly adjusting me.

© D. I. Gray Solace in So Many Words, 2011

Flower and fruit © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Flower and fruit © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Canna fruit © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Canna fruit © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Leaves © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Leaves © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017


Look into your heart — Don’t read the comments

Howling mad © Ellen Wade Beals

Hey there. I haven’t posted in a while. Chalk it up to personal issues and being down in the dumps about the state our our nation. What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said?

I talked with a wise friend the other day and she told me not to be depressed by what happened in Charlottesville but instead to think of it as a turning point. This is the time that it is clear to see what our current president stands for, and that even those who supported him are looking into their hearts and deciding if this man truly represents them and America. So I ask us all to look into our hearts.

Last Tuesday I went to Millennium Park for a free concert put on by Broadway in Chicago. It was restorative, at least that was how one passenger in my car felt. But then she read a unrelated local news story on her phone and read the comments that followed where snark prevailed. So I ask you not to read the comments; that’s  where the trolls live.

940x150-banner1-e1483855431966One bright spot for me was that two of my works (a short story and a poem) have found a second life on Digging Through The Fat; you can check out my work and that of a number of writers in the Community section.

Peace, love, and solace


Ceiling at the Monroe Building © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Ceiling at the Monroe Building © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Contrast © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Contrast © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

All the angles © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

All the angles © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Humans and Bean © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

Humans and Bean © Ellen Wade Beals, 2017

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