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Every day you play with the light of the universe. -- Pablo Neruda

Odes to Ordinary Things

--by Gratefulness.org, syndicated from gratefulness.org, Sep 24, 2018

The following is excerpted with permission from "Odes to Ordinary Things", published by A Network for Grateful Living, 2017


Some years ago a neighbor gave me a gift—a collection of “odes to common things” by Pablo Neruda. What I didn’t immediately realize was that she had given me, not just the gift of a book, but the gift of seeing “common” things with fresh and celebratory eyes. Neruda writes playfully and lovingly of lemons, salt, socks, a box of tea! And in doing so, he heightens our attention and appreciation for the everyday wonders which fill our days and lives. Odes (themselves miraculous) bring life, depth and wonder to all manner of things.

Inspired by this experience, we, at A Network for Grateful Living (gratefulness.org), extended an invitation to our community to submit odes to “ordinary things.” The response was happy and immediate. Our inbox steadily filled with poems celebrating weeds, streetlights, shoes and crickets. There were love letters to a blender bottle, an acorn, slippers, an iPad – even to the veins on the top of someone’s feet! This glimpse into joy elicited by simple things has been a true gift and we are grateful to each one of the authors who expressed their adoration in a buoyantly broad range of styles and focus.

In order to refine the collection for this publication, we called together a small group of authors, editors, and poets—all lovers of poetry. After much thoughtful consideration, along with discussion both playful and serious, the Grateful Ode Appreciation Team (GOAT)—in a process where the poets remained anonymous—selected the twelve odes you see here.

We hope that these odes to ordinary things enchant you, but, perhaps most importantly, we hope that they open your eyes, as ours have been opened, to the myriad wonders that surround us, waiting to be seen and celebrated.

Saoirse McClory

On behalf of A Network for Grateful Living


Ode to 5:30 AM

Only I know, only I see

the light softly dancing over the canopy of                trees.

Falling softly across the dew filled grass,

moving up to my window as the minutes tick past.

Yes, only I see, For the house yet, it sleeps.

The dreamers dream while the

soft light caresses.

The day starts to glow

as the night, she undresses. The cardinals call out

In sheer ecstasy

I share the same song as They sing it to me

We give ourselves fully, No other above her

My joy rolling down my face, Early mornings are my lover.

– Nicki Hayes


Ode to My Bedroom Slippers

They wait patiently beside my bed Agreeable twin sentries, ready for duty.

They know me so well—the darkened imprint of heels and each toe worn into the

balding fleece.

They are the first thing my feet search for in the morning,

Grounding and protection for my midnight shuffles to the loo.

They are the comfort I seek when I return from the day’s labors,

The ones I turn to as I cast off heels, polished leather, buckles and laces.

They carry the stains and flaws of familiarity—a splash of iced coffee, a drip of


The teething marks of a puppy now grown.

They have logged hundreds of miles but rarely leave home, these slippers of mine.

Once I forgot and wore them to choir practice. I sang well that night

– Margaret Faeth


An Ode to Silent Poets

You see
the precious gift
of ordinary things
as Pablo Neruda did,
but need no words,
pen or paper,
to bow

to olive oil
to the great night sleep
to the mossy rocks
to the blooming ocotillo
to the perfectly ripe avocado
to every day heroes
to hand-written letters
to spontaneous laughter
to fresh farm eggs
to the smiling stranger
to the desert’s wildflowers
to the world wide web
to bittersweet moments
to afternoon naps
to grey clouds
to slowing down
to stinging nettles
to soft blankets
to strange dreams
to the garbage man
to the graceful death

The simple gifts
your devotional being sees
as you move through life
fills you with that deep warmth
you silently beam out.

And that
is the gift
you are.

-- Tesa Silvestre 

Ode to the Onion

I open the front door and walk headlong into the oh so heavenly scent

of onions sautéing on the stove.

Of course, growing up we would have said “frying” but onions speak all languages.

The aroma is the same

and the groundedness is the same.

It is the subfloor

upon which the precious hardwood is laid, the canvas

on which the masterpiece is painted, the staff

on which the opera is charted, the ink

with which the poem is written, the bass note

in the broth.

– Susan Whelehan


Tea Break

Take the water, flowing up a tap from the earth—

old aquifer, luscious remnant

of prehistoric streams, refreshed by rain. Take the teapot—heavy,

curvaceous—a potter’s spin on old clay, drawing upright the soft mud

into cone then vessel, fired carefully to stoneware—azure glaze flows speckling on black; aurora frozen on night’s round bowl. The cup

as small affirmation.

Take the tea – dried orange peel, anise, ginseng; African rooibos and chicory, and mint—

Silk Road treasures,

Far-flung fields and groves becoming Market Spice—the blackened tendrils’ mysterious wanderings

arriving in an ordinary kitchen.

Take a brief block of morning— sun highlighting the pot and cup; the kettle, red on a white stove— take the boiling water

flashing as it fills the pot, the fragrant steam.

Before the tea touches your lips, take a moment to feel the eons, the miles come together

into your hands—your hands!

Those soft wrinkled cups enfolding

fired clay, holding the steam beneath your nose— those hands sheened with age, eloquent

of journeys and mornings and years—all of it coming together.

– Catherine McGuire

Tea Break was previously published by Raven Chronicles in May 2016                                                                                                     

The Artichoke

The artichoke sits on my plate A vegetable that begs debate

The novice may but sit and bristle when asked to eat the ugly thistle. The uninformed defy all taste

And call the bud a terrible waste.

But others, like the connoisseur Or grand gourmand, will all concur The artichoke of lovely green

Is not a veggie to demean.

To scrape the teeth against its leaf Brings utter joy, however brief, And when one bites into the heart Gastronomy is set apart!

Now, as for me and this debate

I find it wise to abdicate

– Joyce Holmes McAllister


Ode to My Sleeping Lions Bookends

Fearsome former Kings of Jungle, Recumbent now in peace you slumber,

your toothless duty: guarding Shakespeare’s mighty works.

Past deeds of kill and plunder for protection of your lair now long forgotten, unaware.

Your loins and manly manes in soft repose

as you uphold aright a shelf of prose...

No piercing growls release to warn, defend, Even Kings fall silent at the end.

– Betty B. Brown


This Moment

I’m smiling because

a million possible alternatives which would have precluded this moment we’re sharing didn’t happen.

Safe passage through countless intersections

this week;

The absence of calamity since breakfast;

a thousand breaths received in the last hour, delivered right on time.

The tapestry of the present moment is, complete and continuously refreshed courageous, wholehearted, raw & alive. Look—here it is, again!

– Howard Olivier


Syndicated from Gratefulness.org, the website for A Network for Grateful Living, a global organization offering online and community-based educational programs and practices which inspire and guide a commitment to grateful living, and catalyze the transformative power of personal and societal responsibility.    


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