remembering what truly matters

“Poetry of Spring” by Kent Paulette
by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother's, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

~ from How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-200l (W.W. Norton, 2004)


“Conquest of the Irrational” by Kent Paulette

This beautiful prayer poem, a meditative paean to the interconnectedness of all living things, is more timely than ever.

With her eloquent words of wisdom, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo asks us to remember our divine origins and the wonder of the cosmos, to honor our family histories, and to walk this earth with due respect for plant and animal life.

She reverently celebrates the diversity and oneness of humankind, implying that it is our responsibility, as inhabitants of the earth, to be grateful for its many gifts, to become worthy stewards, and to live in harmony with nature. 

“Forest Royalty” by Kent Paulette

Unfortunately, there are too many amongst us who have decided that their individual concerns (wealth, power) matter more than the well being of all. They continue to prioritize short term gratification even as the futures of their children and grandchildren hang in the balance.

There shouldn’t be a debate over critical issues like climate change, conservation, or environmental preservation. Racial equality should be a given. Unity, not division. It sounds cliché, but what affects one, affects all. It continues to baffle me why so many people fail to realize this, or if they do, simply don’t care.

“Mama Bear and the Magic in the Air” by Kent Paulette

I like that Harjo ends with, “all is in motion, is growing, is you./Remember language comes from this./Remember the dance language is, that life is.”


Please enjoy this visual representation of the poem by Jessica Sanders, with narration by Ms. Harjo herself.


About the Artist: The paintings that grace this post were created by self taught artist Kent Paulette, who uses uninhibited, energetic brush strokes to create paintings that leap off the canvas, alive with color, texture, and movement.  Paulette (a.k.a. Derfla) lives in North Carolina where he paints in a studio overlooking the mountains. He finds inspiration from the natural world that surrounds him and regularly hops into the mountain creek in his back yard to help rejuvenate his spirit and senses. See more of Kent’s work at his Official Website, where you can purchase originals or giclée prints, including the three paintings featured here.


Carmela Martino is hosting the Roundup at Teaching Authors. Zip over there to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Have a lovely weekend!!


*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

26 thoughts on “remembering what truly matters

  1. Many thanks for your rich earth-filled post Jama! Harjo’s poem, yes prayer poem paints respect befitting earth and all we ought bestow on her! I too like “the dance language is, that life is,”closing her poem, and the moving video. And, Paulette’s paintings are bold and beautiful, I’ll look further! 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t understand either, Jama. Thank you for these words that we are all one whether others use words that feel it is not so, we know in our hearts they are wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, deep in our hearts we know this. It seems so simple — we all share the same planet, we should all take care of one another. It’s sad that many are working against their own best interests.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am really feeling the hurt of our Earth these days, partly as we begin the endless cycle of forest fire warnings in the west; partly as a response to the crazy temperatures and temperature swings we are seeing across our country. Harjo’s words are haunting, and cause me to pause to consider how language, too is affected. Thank you, Jama. You always provide such thought-provoking posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A stunning poem…copied into my notebook. Thank you for sharing it. Joy Harjo is such a wonderful poet. I love that she is Laureate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She’s a wonderful Laureate — and the first artist-in-residence at the new Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, OK. A six year tenure! 🙂


  5. Thanks so much for sharing this poem, Jama. I was especially struck by the sentence
    They are alive poems.
    at the end of these lines:
    Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
    tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
    listen to them. They are alive poems.
    Paulette’s stunning paintings are a perfect fit for the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a beautiful post, Jama — the pairing of art and poetry, as well as your call to focus on the ways our choices affect the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jama, I am thankful for your blog today. It is full of springtime blessings. I went down a rabbit hole with Kent Paulette’s paintings and looked his work up on Instagram. He has amazing paintings and photography. I wrote to him and asked if I could share his floral photos and the Poetry of Spring painting at my Poetryliscious Gallery & Padlet. If so, I am also crediting you for finding his work. Harjo’s poem is full of meaning for me: “Remember you are this universe and this universe is you,” is an inspirational thought that everyone should remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for including my paintings in this post and the links to my website. I really enjoyed your post and the poem and I think it’s a perfect fit with my artwork. I talk and listen to the plants and animals everyday at my home studio that’s surrounded by woods in the NC mountains. I also go to the creek in my backyard early each morning before I start painting, wade through, stick my face in, collect a bucket of water, and then I come back to my studio and mix the magic creek water directly into the paint.

    “Talk to them,
    listen to them. They are alive poems.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How wonderful to hear from you, Kent! Love that you mix creek water into your paint. Your work is beautiful and amazing; each piece is an “alive poem” in itself. I can feel the life energy in your animal paintings, and I also love your portraits. I don’t know how you do it — managing to capture split second moments in your pictures, filled with spontaneity and freshness. I’m especially partial to your bears. 🙂

      P.S. It took me hours of searching online to find just the right art to go with Harjo’s poem. I’m so glad you think it’s a good match — and now I feel so lucky to know about your work. Thanks for making the world a more beautiful place.

      Liked by 1 person

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