July Mosaics: Community

A few days after we announced our July Mosaics project, someone left us a tiny confession in the comment box. “When this idea was first posted, wrote Rosanne Osborne, “I admit I was dubious, but it’s been amazing to me how generative the experience has been.”

Generative. That got me thinking.

When artist Jim Bowen discovered the craft of mosaics for the first time, he quickly realized he had found something powerful. “I liked the messiness of it. Here you are, breaking up china and making something beautiful again,” he says. “It’s like a broken person who becomes healed.

At times, we might be prone to sit upon life’s wreckage, wallowing in the the detritus of our shared experiences. Bowen sees Art as our best employment opportunity. Our job is to sift through the rubble and debris and create repurposed beauty.

Bowen takes this message to elementary school classrooms. He begins each lesson in mosaics by first speaking to them about community. He says,

When all of the individuals come together as a whole to share their differences, a community is formed. It’s the same with mosaics.

After he got going, another colleague inspired him to continue building on the idea. Laurel True had traveled to Haiti in response to 2010’s devastating earthquake. While there, he invited victims to pick up the shattered pieces of their belongings and create mosaics.

Now Bowen plans to visit Zimbabwe to provide a similar experience, empowering locals to become co-artisans in the craft of healing.

Yes, Rosanne. Art is generative. We form a richer, more reflective community as we piece together our many colors with our fellow co-artisans.

Let’s Build July Mosaics!

All month long we’re arranging poems at Tweetspeak. We call it July Mosaics. We write found poems and share them on Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs, though we always link back to here. Last week we chose words from the poem “BiLingual” by L.L. Barkat.

Glynn Young was one of our first responders. He wrote,


It is mutual, of course.
I come walking
with my light news
(the San Antonio Light?)
except you see a mist
I mean to be a fog, like
all news is, all
the fog that’s print to fit.
I offer spirit but
you want flesh.
Some things, like wind,
and ghosts, are
beyond translation.

Laurie heard something in the “news”, too. She wrote,

Sorting Shards

I like to think
of you

capable of feeling
the wind again,


your hand translated
into flesh,

that kind light
found you,

brought you back,

of mist and spirit –
a bilingual whiteness

laying over the
ghost-like news.

And remember Rosanne Osborne‘s “generative” comment? Here’s one way she chose to put the pieces together.


Mist of our likeness,
ghost of our thoughts,
translate us into wind
that feels the flesh
the new spirit brings.

How Do I Build July Mosaics?

If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to Every Day Poems.

1. On Mondays, the Every Day Poem in your inbox becomes a pile of raw material. Sort through the words and find a few gems. Rearrange as many as you want into a new found poem. You’re free to mix in your own words.

2. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #tsmosaics hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.

3. Or leave your found poem here in the comment box.

We’ll read your tweets and share some of your weekly play each week. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and ask the playful poet to record his or her poem to be featured in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.

Here’s today’s Every Day Poem. Now go generate some community.

Photo by Gogoloopie. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by Matthew Kreider.


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $2.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In July we’re exploring the theme The Cento.

Red #9


  1. says

    Todd Davis is a wonderful poet.


    The Awful Avoiding

    This is about more
    than the motion
    of the hand itself,

    the way it comes
    winging at everything,
    gathering the storm

    in our direction. One
    of us changes
    the other. The way

    the light tips and shifts
    would have no meaning
    without the awful avoiding.

  2. says

    Here’s my mosaic:


    Five hundred hands wave, and
    winter clouds part. We fling

    thoughts, left and right; they hit
    the windshield. We witness hundreds

    of meaningless deaths, and we wonder
    at the power of a simple shift of a wing—

    we realize we can’t avoid the tip of a beak,
    and we can’t account for the flock.


    Thanks for the fun of playing along. :) I’ve also posted the poem here:


    • says

      tossing and turning

      a single shadow twirling in the night

      i translated you back

      into some kind of flesh

      where love and need are one

      staring guiltily at the

      the safe-kept memory

      of a lovely thing

      so tender it


      make you cry

      mournfully waking

      to the awful



      each other

      the ball





  3. says


    Wings dip, beaks peck
    the crumbs of other birds
    dropped to the grass
    below sunflower cylinders.

    The ragtag flock
    of bottom feeders
    storm the ground
    gathering beak-flings,
    off-wing decisions

    of claw-clinging avians
    swinging in the wind-shielded
    plastic motion of an urban yard.
    What do they realize of the manna
    that appears and disappears
    in their caste-unconscious lives?

    The pecking order they take
    for granted, the avifauna
    that binds them to terra firma
    their wings could escape,
    gathers them in time and space
    within the sallow light
    of human thought and meaning.

  4. says


    Even five hundred juncos
    cannot change our certain end,
    give meaning to soaring death.

    Our feathers are numbered
    and we tip our wings
    to the wind beyond all winds.

    We gather ourselves
    before the winter storm,
    beaks open to receive wafers

    of community, the awful
    realization that in molting,
    we share blood feathers.

  5. says

    Its 8 o clock
    and i am still on
    wet fragrant road
    my cab rushes
    splashing water all over
    chopping off the shadows
    of tall buildings
    capable of being ghosts from hell
    raindrops lash out on window panes
    but the restless wipers move back and forth
    take a breath….
    and then again
    back and forth
    back and forth
    they disturb ,moan with pleasure
    trying to wash off all drops
    yet some mist walks over the naked window
    and to my hand
    this uneven lump of water sits over me
    watching me like a child
    the light too beams through (refracts through it)
    it ensconces over my flesh
    with shiny infant eyes
    but suddenly with a roar
    wind gushes forth
    dropping the news for ‘it’ to leave
    so it crawls over the hump of air
    ride up to blue dessert
    where a cloud waits to conceive

  6. says


    I peer through the windshield
    in the sallow light of evening.
    Yards are immaculate, the street
    is as clean as my mother’s kitchen
    floor. A small mouse hurries
    to cross my path, incongruous
    in the upscale neighborhood,
    stretching its sense of democracy.
    He’s claimed his right to upward
    mobility among the correct
    flower beds, wicker rockers
    on sprawling porches, tasteful
    door decorations. Where he’s headed
    I can only wonder, but his claim
    to domestic cooperation causes
    me to break and give him time
    to negotiate zoned living. Death
    on a public street would be an awful
    end to his decision, his small motion.

  7. says

    When we in the gathering parted
    on account of more
    than five hundred thoughts winging
    themselves to death…

    (How’s that for my contribution this week? Both late AND unfinished!)

  8. says


    Flocks of juncos in flight
    like synchronized swimmers
    account for space, wing tips
    and beaks in perfect symmetry.

    Connected but not connected,
    invisible threads bring meaning
    to motion, avoidance without thought.
    Cooperation beyond decision,

    decision beyond wonder,
    the awful reality that certainty
    hangs on meaning that heads
    cannot comprehend. When

    Robert Penn Warren’s Jack Burden
    bit into a persimmon, on a hot day
    in Louisiana, a Tibetan tinker’s teeth
    were set on edge a world away.

  9. says

    On writing my July Cento Collection “…it reminds me of the process of my first Fused Glass experience. I dug through boxes filled with glass pieces, sorted by color and varied in shapes and shades. Some pieces I used ‘as is’ and others had to be completely transformed. Others were simply tweaked a bit to help them slide into place, and all of the shards were held in place by…..”

    “a lovely thing”

  10. Marie Conklin says

    I love that I see half of you, because I am the other half. I see the missing part, and you are the fulfillment of my beauty, my lonliness, my unfinishidness. I love that I can say to myself, in the darkness, of my pain, “I love and totally accept you as you are”. Only my creator can say that, and if I can echo his thoughts on my behalf, then I can get full, and complete the picture on the otherr side, then I have done a good thing, by His grace. I look like you. I can love my neighbor as myself, because I see me in you, and He has taught me to love myself, right where I am. Maybe we will meet again. Oh, I hope so!


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