Thanks to Independent Booksellers! Invite me to do a workshop and patronize them!!!

Here I am bringing books to “A Little Something” a shop in South Berwick, Maine. I celebrate Independent stores in my area already offering Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonald’s and Other Poems. They include A Little Something, in South Berwick, Riverrun Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH, Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, NH and Water Street Books in Exeter, NH. My deepest thanks. Do you live somewhere else? Ask at your local store for it. Ingram is servicing bookstores throughout the country.

And, of course, you might want to support Independent bookshops buying books and book one of my workshops this year. I will do a Zoom reading and workshop for your group for 10 copies through from an independent bookseller or the publisher Bookbaby.  

Two workshop options:

“It’s Beginning to Read a Lot Like Christmas” … a brief reading from Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonald’s and a presentation on what makes a book a “Christmas” book, along with sharing favorites among the group … yes, classic and children’s books can be mixed with cozy mysteries and Christmas romances.

“May your days be Merry and Write” … brief reading from Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonald’s and a light-hearted writing workshop with a chance for everyone to write their own Christmas blessing or card greeting, mini-memoir, or poem for the New Year.

Please be in touch with me for more information. mctirabassi@gmail.com

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Prayer for the Supply Chain

Jesus, our divine companion,
hear my prayer,
biased as daughter of a truck driver,
for all of those who complain
about the supply chain
affecting their Christmas spending
as if there were a machine

to be repaired by allowing
twenty-four-hour workdays
and the suspension of
safe weight limits on highways,

and not ordinary people facing
mandatory overtime and exhaustion ­–­
port workers and drivers,
unloaders, loaders, stockers,
soon to be blamed for accidents.

Give us compassion, patience,
and the wisdom to prioritize
medicine, food, that which is critical,

and take away, O God, this metaphor,
especially in my country
where people with my color of skin
already have a terrible history
with chains. amen.

(Labor Day Hymn Henry Van Dyke, 1909

Jesus, our divine companion,
By your lowly human birth
You have come to join all workers,
Burden-bearers of the earth.
As the carpenter of Naz’reth,
Toiling for your daily food,
By your patience and your courage,
You have taught us work is good.)

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Interview with an intercessor

Their saint day is October 28, but the poem was coming for me today.

Sts. Simon and Jude, Public Domain

Who would have thought … me a saint?
Jesus’ kid brother,
not like James … good deeds
pastor in Jerusalem,
in your face with Paul of Tarsus,
but the younger brother,
the one Jesus grinned  at
when he told a story
about a prodigal, pigs and a party.

And you might ask …
what’s it like to work with a Zealot?
Simon and I were always
together …
I didn’t mind his politics and
he didn’t mind my being related to God.

We went to Libya, then Persia,
faced down those
wandering-star magicians,
Zaroes and Arfaxat.
We died together, too,
beaten to death with a club …
Yes, I loved Simon in every way.

And of course, you want to know
about the hopeless causes …
everyone does.
Well, that happened after I died.
Folks didn’t pray to me much
because my name was
so close to Iscariot’s.

Only those who were desperate,
who had prayed at saints for a long time,
would try me, and
I’d pass them over to the one
who is able to keep you from
falling,
and make you stand, the
God of our Savior, Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory
and majesty, power and authority,
before all time,
now, and forever.

That’s how I summed it up fancy
in a letter I wrote …
mostly, however, I understand
hopeless causes,
because I know about falling.

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International Observe the Moon Night, October 16, 2021

We will see the waxing gibbous moon tonight,
and gibbous means anything
more than half-lighted but less than full,
which is, more or less,
in more and less terms, how I live my life.

Near the quarter moon phases
there is more detail visible at the terminator,
the division between light and dark,
moonly day and night.

On a waxing moon,
the dividing place is a line of sunrises.

There we view more clearly
the mountains and moondust,
loose rocks and the depth of craters,
even the long, long shadows.

And that’s why I will be watching tonight,
to approach an honest topography
of all we have done
and, yes, all we have terminated,

and yet to recognize the way each month
a line of sunrises is given.

Waxing gibbous moon, public domain, wikipedia commons

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Prayer for Kongsberg, Norway, after the bow killing

God who set your bow in the sky for peace,
we pray for all Kongsberg,
city born in the deep of mining,
bright with its silver, 
now bright with everyone’s tears.

We pray regret of the lost possibilities 
of those who have died,
tenderness with those who mourn,
strength for those caring for the injured,
wisdom for police 
with the temporary permission
to carry guns,
guidance for a new government
with such a sad beginning.

We pray in unity with all in Norway,
and these words in community
with Christians there …

Vår Far i himmelen!
La navnet ditt helliges.
La riket ditt komme.
La viljen din skje på jorden slik som i himmelen.
Gi oss i dag vårt daglige brød,
og tilgi oss vår skyld,
slik også vi tilgir våre skyldnere.
Og la oss ikke komme i fristelse,
men frels oss fra det onde.
For riket er ditt og makten og æren i evighet. Amen. (Prayer of our Savior, Norwegian Bokmål, words of my heritage)

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Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonald’s — new readings and workshops

I am excited to share the first anniversary of my seasonal book, Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonald’s and Other Poems, now in distribution worldwide.

This book of poetry for Advent and Christmas and the tail end of the star we call Epiphany includes some poems a few years old, like the title poem, a memory I revisit every December 24th.  Most are new. I write about tasting “blue” Christmas baked into cookies, tying a mask on the red-nosed reindeer, and being changed by “Wasn’t That a Mighty Day?” sung in Langston Hughes’ “Black Nativity.”

From “Christmas Comes”:
…Christmas comes whether we are ready or not;
It comes whether we want it or not
It comes whether we used to believe,
Or try to believe, or are afraid to believe.

Christmas comes with presents and with absence.
It comes as expected,
And it comes as a nearly unbearable surprise …

NEW this year for churches, libraries, book groups: a tailored to your needs Zoom program with a reading from the book and workshop. Examples include: “It’s Beginning to Read a Lot Like Christmas” (with participants sharing their favorite Christmas story and discovering what makes a book “Christmas”) or “May your Days be Merry and Write” (with participants writing their own Christmas greeting, poem or mini-memoir.)  My fee in the US is the purchase of ten or more print books by the sponsor (to be purchased by the participants or other friends who can’t attend) from Bookbaby. https://store.bookbaby.com/book/christmas-eve-at-the-epsom-circle-mcdonalds-and-other-poems  

For individuals who want to purchase a book for themselves or as gifts, Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonald’s and Other Poems can be ordered from your independent book store, or follow this link for print or electronic books https://store.bookbaby.com/book/christmas-eve-at-the-epsom-circle-mcdonalds-and-other-poems Both formats are also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and others, but they are less generous with authors.

For questions or more information contact me at mctirabassi@gmail.com

Maren

It’s still autumn … no silly hats yet!
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Mark 10, the whole chapter, abbreviated … Love, not like Hallmark

(Those who are following the Revised Common Lectionary may be spending October with Job or October with Mark. Here’s the short-short version of the whole chapter of our fast-talker Mark.)

Mark talking Jesus talking love
is not nearly
as sweet or meme-able as John.

Love women
in a culture that throws them away.

Love children,
other people’s children,
as if they aren’t disposable.

Love the actual poor –
turn-out-your-pockets love,
late-for-the-rent love.

Love last place, rejection and loneliness;
fear them, you’ll ass-kiss the world.

Love being a servant, not just the theory.

Love the people
who desperately need healing.
Let them get close –
in all their stink and their joy.

“A New Command…”, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54326 CHINA OriginaL source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/portablematthew/3491085679/.

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Guest post — for Indigenous People’s Day, Nancy Arthur Best, Golden Feather Woman

(I am glad to share two poems by Nancy Arthur Best, Mohawk, Golden Feather Woman, First Nations Canadian, for this US holiday and for the Canadian Thanksgiving)

Prayer to Begin the Day

O Sacred Spirit, I ask that your joy in creation
and in the inter-connected web of life encourage us.

May I find my delight in what you provide,

the glorious colours of a hummingbird,
the scent of lilacs in the spring,
the cool, living waters in summer,
the freshness of a fall morning,
and the comfort of a crackling fire in winter. 
Enable us to feel connections with all indigenous people,
our ancestors, and our children to come.
I ask that we regain our vision and dreams.

As we walk our lands with gentle feet,
we greet the day with hope,
and say goodnight with full hearts.
Meegwetch. Amen.

Building My Longhouse

Leaving behind resentment, anger, and painful memories of scooped up children, residential schools, beatings and murders…

Children robbed of their families, their culture, their mother-tongue 

Forced into uncomfortable Colonial clothes instead of worn leather garments softened by chewing, and beaded by grandmothers and aunties, a pictorial history of heritage, passed on in ways unfathomable to settlers. 

It’s time to build anew, a home of sharing traditions and stories, seeking reconciliation, passing the pipe of peace.

Creator wishes for all beloved children to live in harmony, with respect and open hearts, and eyes, hands breaking arrows and disarming weapons, clean water and abundant foraging for medicines. 

Working towards reconciliation, a sharing instead of supremacy.

Respecting each other’s stories and traditions, ceremonies and spirituality. 

Seeking a time of walking in another’s moccasins to find how that feels, connecting with dreams, aspirations and longings. 

We are more alike than not alike, all my relations longing for a place in my longhouse where there are no labels, unneeded because we are all relations. 

May all our ancestors dance with joy in the rippling aurora borealis, unceded territory and a place for all.  

Meegwetch Creator.



Indigenous children in the United States and Canada were taken from their parents to live in Residential Schools. Their braids were cut and they were not allowed to speak their own languages, wear their own clothes, follow the path of their faith. They faced abuses from teachers and administrators, including malnourishment and sexual and physical assault. Some contemporary, but inadequate, responses have included apologies, reparations, and Truth and Reconciliation process.

This piece is from Pitching our Tents – Poetry for Hospitality ed, Tirabassi and Mankin 2021

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Paying Respects

A rank of motorcycles, mostly Harleys,
lines the cemetery path.
Tongues of October mist
lick the chrome
and curl damp and ghost
into the bones
of the living.

Bikers in black leather prayer,
and pants and vests,
and beautiful fringed gloves
removed from  their
beautiful hands,
stand before the oak casket
draped in love
and yellow roses,
tangled with tawny leaves.

Some of the men are pine-straight,
while others gnarl-down,
like old olive trees,
from riding back-leaned
into weather and speed for
too many years.

With bushy grey beards, braids
or pony tails,
the poetry of tattoo,
and the tinsel-shining of rain
off single earrings,
they stand deacon
to the goodbye dust
of the woman
who was so alive for them,
with a pearl-quality of attention,
old sun-lined eyes,
and heads tipped forward
to listen to memories
in the autumn wind,

before putting a lot of miles
on their grief.

Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com
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Prayer for Timberview High School, Mansfield, Texas

Holy One, called more often “Teacher”
than any other name,
we pray for all of those affected
by the school shooting
at Timberview High School …
which is every single student,
every teacher, every relative,
alumni, neighbors,

administrators of all high schools,
students of all high schools,
college students deciding
whether to become teachers,
and so many others.

We pray especially for this place
where violence has scarred community,
but the lack of death
prevents their life-changing news
from being national news.

We pray for the week to come,
with so many healing efforts,
and for nightmares of the future,
with caring friends, pastors,
therapists of the future
and their listening.

Teacher, teach us
the curriculum of hope and change. amen

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