Book Review: The Cabinet of Calm (Soothing Words for Troubled Times)

Cabinet of Calm: Soothing Words for Troubled Times ...

Sometimes, you find a book. Sometimes, the book finds you. The Cabinet of Calm (Soothing Words for Troubled Times) by Paul Anthony Jones is one of those books. I can’t even recall when or where I first saw it mentioned but since buying it in January, it has been a constant, regular reading text for the last seven months.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book so slowly, over so many months. It’s unlike me. But with each chapter, arranged alphabetically, focused on a single word — some lost to time, some whose meanings have changed — about surfacing through hardship or finding a path forward or becoming inspired, I didn’t want to rush the book.

So I didn’t.

Passage to Port (Cabinet of Calm quote)

Instead, I wrote small poems after reading nearly every chapter on nearly ever word from January through July. I found Jones’ explorations of words inspiring, and with my starting of the reading of the book in the depths of the Pandemic (January) and moving through the possibility of better and more normal times (vaccines), I kept returning to the book, finding new ways to think about how words and language can give us some comfort.

This back and forth between reading and then writing became a ritual of sorts, although I didn’t do it every day and sometimes, the book was just sitting on my counter, untouched, for stretches of time. Paul Anthony Jones has the ability to sift through language, and cultural meanings, and his curation of these words in this bound “cabinet” is something I intend to come back to when I need to.

Another day, I will share out my entire collection of poems inspired by The Cabinet of Calm. Until then … read on, and find your own ways to comfort the anxieties and inner voices of the Modern Age. Maybe a word inside the cabinet might help you, too.

Peace (gathering it up),
Kevin

A Game of The Knight (not a winner)

Miscellaneous Playing Cards“Miscellaneous Playing Cards” by incurable_hippie is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

 

I took part in a 100-word microfiction contest as a whim through NYC Midnight. I learned this morning that I didn’t make it out of the first round. That’s OK. I enjoyed the challenge of being given a genre (horror) and some key words and phrases that had to be used, and constrained by 100 words.

This was my submission:

A Game Of The Knight

Marina wiped blood off the face of the King. The card smeared with a streak across the eyes. She shuffled the cards and dealt out hands, ignoring the Knight’s chatter. It was getting more difficult for her to hold her cards as the darkness wore on. The Knight had won one hand and remained unscathed. She glanced at her cards, holding them close as wind rippled over the edge of the mountain. Marina played the King, feigning confidence, calculating how the game might proceed even as she slowly lost more of herself to the Knight.

Peace (tightened up),
Kevin

Oh, Villanelle, You Ruin Me

Twist“Twist” by LostCarPark is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As a morning poet, I find my footing most easily in free verse. That said, I also enjoy the challenge now and then of a poetry form that forces my hand. Over at OpenWrite today, the challenge was a Villanelle, which has rhyme schemes, syllable counting and repetition. Dylan Thomas has a famous one.

Here is what I came up with.

Yes, I’m obsessed with morning poems
with cracking words like combination lock
before the day’s ideas scatter, blown

by odd winds of origins, unknown,
as detectives, writers scour the block –
Yes, I’m obsessed with morning poems

Not all rhymes we find ring out like phones
some sing false, and others, falter like stock
before the day’s ideas scatter, blown

through corners where wonder’s what we own
and our quiet voices, just talk – talk – talk
Yes, I’m obsessed with morning poems

perched with pen in quiet morning home
I scribble, erase, often have to walk
before the day’s ideas scatter, blown

Each verse, a kite, high in sky, alone
not able to remain stable, aloft,
for I’m obsessed with morning poems
before these ideas get scattered and blown

Peace (and poems),
Kevin

Poem: Singing the Song of Son to the Father

At OpenWrite, the prompt for poems this morning was about exploring name and place, and after I wrote mine about my name and its roots, I realized the poem would probably work best as spoken poem.

Peace (listening in and rooted),
Kevin