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Invitation to Poetry: Fierceness and Courage

Welcome to Poetry Party #49!

I select an image and suggest a theme/title and invite you to respond with your poems or other reflections.  Scroll down and add your responses in the comments section below. Feel free to take your poem in any direction and then post the image and invitation on your blog (if you have one) and encourage others to come join the party! (permission is granted to reprint the image if a link is provided back to this post)

On Friday, January 28th, I will draw a name at random from the participants and send the winner a free registration for the Lenten Online Retreat: Journey with the Desert Mothers & Fathers.


Roar, Lion of the Heart, and tear me open!


When I was in Vienna over Christmas I ended up in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism.  Thirty percent of people die with this condition.  This brush with death has had a powerful impact on me that is still shimmering across my life and I imagine will for a long time.  In the quiet days of healing that followed my husband and I wandered the beautiful old city streets, cherishing one another, savoring life.  In our explorations I kept discovering lions calling to me – in churches, on street corners, in building entryways, on door knockers. 

When I returned home I went to see my spiritual director to share the story of this journey.  We talked of many things, but one which especially resonated is that he said there was a fierce part of me that chose to keep living and I was being called to discover what that fierceness was fighting for.   As he uttered those words I knew immediately that this was connected to the call of lions.  There is a roar inside of me that is tearing me open to new layers of discovery.

What are the things of your life you are called to protect fiercely?  Where are you being called to greater courage? 

I invite you to write a poem about fierceness.  Much of our talk in spiritual circles is about what feels good or pleasing, and while these are important, just as vital are those experiences in life that confront us with the underside of things, that call out of us a fierce longing and sense of the the fertile depths.  Give your fierceness a shape or form, explore its roar through poetry.

(Photo of lion in Vienna)

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62 Responses

  1. Fierceness as Fuel…

    “I Broke the Mold”

    At sixty-three I can stand tall and unabashedly say, “I come from a long line of crazy women”.
    Women de-powered by the disorienting echo of the world of image. Women who were stunningly beautiful and bright on the outside; stunted and politely depraved on the inside.

    As I watched the explosion of prescription bottles on the kitchen counters, the parade of wine bottles that flowed into those kitchens, the stiff tight smiles, the barely contained wild desolation in the eyes, I made a vow:

    Not with my life!

    I went to find a life vibrant with feeling,
    rich with the texture of connection.
    To help me I found a soul-gifter
    whose artful skill unlocked invisible doors.
    Together we took a sledgehammer to that mold
    and celebrated the sound of shattering.

    1. This so resonates with me and my life thus far – liked the last line of celebrating the sound of shattering.

    2. At 48 I hope to become closer to my “crazy woman” within every day…thank you for this…….Not with my life!!!!! What a rallying cry!


    There is no retreat in battle.
    You fight for the honour of those that have fallen.
    You fight for the unequipped, ignored, beaten down.
    You fight for all that was yours,
    but could not possess.

    You fight with the rage of tigers
    possessed by urgency for life,
    wounded and desperate,
    descended to the wildest , basest places,
    yet lifted through the light of all our souls.

    The slaughtered cubs leave only a mother
    destroyed by shame, longing to relinquish
    all that went before; waiting only
    to reclaim the dignity of her soul.
    There is no retreat in battle;
    just you, and all our souls.

    © Nanci Swann

  3. Fierce flies Spirit to protect the child
    enfolding her within wings of flame
    protecting in the world.

    Inner child, scarred by past encounter,
    unfolds to Spirit’s encircling care
    becoming to the world.

    Confident child, freed from fear, striding
    with Leonine Spirit grace bestowed
    goes singing,
    out into the world.

  4. I reworked the first submission for several days and the roar became more gentle and quiet–a sort of Lectio Divina stlyle of editing and reworking as I rested in a deeper inner space.

    The Quiet Roar of my Heart

    A Passion for honoring my dignity and yours
    Encouraging Love
    Emboding life-giving spirit
    Tending the Blossoming Soul

    Encouraging Love
    Transforming poverty and righteousness that is not blessed
    Tending the Blossoming Soul
    With Resilience and vision

    Life-giving Breath fans the winds of my heart
    Emboding life-giving spirit
    With Resilience and vision
    A Passion for honoring my dignity and yours

  5. Fearsome Beasts
    (at the wild animal sanctuary)

    So tame. I am the foreign creature
    amidst these powerful paws and muscular jaws.
    I am intruder to be watched, judged dangerous
    yet safe behind high fences.
    You, with your black eyes,
    despise my gaze – a voyeur
    one of many smelling too agitated.
    You stay calm in your cage.
    My breath quickens and my ancient animal self recalls you intimately.
    Fearsome. Beautiful.
    I am prey –
    yet I pray for you

  6. Lion’s gaze so fierce
    Once widen my eyes in terror
    No more
    I am lioness
    And return your gaze
    I watch over my pride
    Step forward
    Encounter my wrath

    Paws now bloodied
    Bellies filled
    Days work done
    I breathe deeply

    I am lioness

  7. The Shepherd’s Touch

    Tender shepherd of my soul,
    You carry me gently on your shoulders,
    Gather me lovingly when I fall,
    Come to me softly when I call.
    Humble shepherd of my heart,
    You anoint me in all my wounded places,
    Holding me close if I shed tears,
    Soothing my mind when I feel fear.
    O Calm of all calms,
    One touch from you
    can pierce me through;
    With what fierce love
    you comfort and make new.

  8. Roaring in my head so fierce and strong
    make changes, make changes
    in your life before long

    The same path takes you no where
    you must grow and be strong
    be fierce in your finding
    roar loudly and long

    Fight fiercely for answers
    rip through to the heart
    melt all the coldness
    renew the spark

    Be open with yearning
    for enlightenment
    the spirit is calling
    put joy in your heart

  9. Leo am I
    Lionized by birth
    yet reality has tamed and gentled me.
    Nice Kitty. Nice Kitty.

    Yet reading the tender fierceness
    of other lions and lionesses
    awakened me
    tearfully, wildly.

    I remember
    remember how fiercely
    I defended my Mom
    for eight years before her death.

    Alone now, nice kitty,
    sleeping lion awakens,
    awakens roaring to life.
    I am alive!

    Caterpillars butterfly
    kitties lionize.
    You roaring stone lion in profile
    awakened me!

    Thank you! Thank you!

    –Pauline Lochotzki