Ren Powell

Compassion and Self-preservation

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Photo: Ren Powell

The app says the moon is 98.5% full this morning. And that is more than I need to know. “Almost full” is fine.

It’s overcast, but the wind blew the clouds away for a few moments while I was walking Leonard. Long enough for me to notice the almost full moon tinging the sky a deep purple.

The new morning routine is already taking hold. Leonard went to the sliding door as usual, but then it must have occurred to him that we would be heading around the block first thing. He nudged the entry door open…


Or — What Writing Isn’t to Me

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Photo: Ren Powell

My ex-husband used to call my writing a hobby. I had a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, and five traditionally published books at the time. I’d been vetted to become a member of the Norwegian Authors’ Union. I read my work at international festivals and translated and collaborated with great writers*.

But it didn’t pay the bills. So: Hobby, he said.

Last year I decided that I am not even going to try to write to pay the bills. …


Tanka Prose on the Subject of Self-deception

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Photo: Ren Powell

A quiet morning. So quiet E. startled himself saying good morning to someone jogging by in the opposite direction. Another kilometer along the trail, an owl swooped in from the trees and flew in front of us and into the dark. Just the sound of our shoes on the gravel.

Until we get back to the park and the grove filled with crows. I haven’t thought about this before — the way the trail breaks in two at the bridge, where most people out with their dogs turn back toward the parking lot…


Closing the Book, and Beginning a New Story. Again.

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Photo: Ren Powell

Every morning I face the blank screen and wonder if I will ever write again. If this is the day when it all stops. And I do something else for a few years. Starts, fits, fears. And perched on my clavicle is that oxpecker who continually picks at the open wound at the base of my throat that is my self-doubt.

I think of Ariel and her little voice box. Of the blue sea-worms (the poor, unfortunate souls from Disney’s Little Mermaid) that live somewhere in the shelter of my rib-cage…


When a “problem” of aging might just be a wonderful coming-full-circle.

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Photo: Ren Powell

This month I rediscovered a bit of myself. A shape I thought I’d lost with the years. With diapers and broken bones, with late-night squabbles and hot flashes.

It seemed that with the realization — not an intellectual knowledge, but a bodily understanding that this life — my life — is finite, I began living too widely.

Trying to fit it all in. And too much of it in a two-dimensional form: via screens.

Maybe it’s the forced flatness of pandemic life that has brought all this to the…


Tanka Prose on Mental Health

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Photo: Ren Powell

I don’t want to write about how difficult things have been. It feels like I’m hitting a single note too often. I will say: I miss the trail.

This morning I saw a new doctor, and we’re making a plan. Driving home I noticed that most of the snow is already gone, even from the hollows and the fallow fields. The winds have picked up, and I can feel them even while driving the car on the motorway. I’m imagining them pushing me forward. Easy — no stumbling.

One good thing is that it’s safe…


Tanka Prose

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Photo: Ren Powell

I haven’t been able to write this week.
I’ve been unraveling from the edges that brush against the world.
The softness falls away, and I am a skeleton of splintered glass.
Balancing fractured surfaces upright.

I took a course once on trauma and movement and the instructor said something that shifted my perspective. Drama teachers I’ve had, and have worked with, use a standard image during warm-up sequences: “Now roll up: one vertebra at a time. Stacking one on top of the other.”

An upright stack of bones being pulled toward the earth.

But the body doesn’t work…


Tanka Prose

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Photo: Ren Powell

These past few days have been difficult. Something like a storm surge instead of the constant ebb and flow of effort and ease. Someone used the phrase storm in a teacup. But that’s not quite right.

I get it: sometimes drama is a diversion from a real problem. A shrew in the bushes on the loose riverbank in spring.

But sometimes it’s the sputtering leak before the hose bursts.

I typed out a list of things in a messenger exchange with my kid. He called it my anti-gratitude list. I felt a little foolish. But I’ve been considering…

Ren Powell

Poet & Teaching Artist. Traditional & Handbound Books. Weekly meditation & writing prompts on Medium at Minding My Own Dharma ✎ Website: renpowell.com

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