The Backyard

I always check the Living Poetry Monday Poetry Prompt to see if it inspires something. The prompts are always accompanied by a picture. I really liked the picture this week, even more so than the actual prompt (write a backyard poem.). The odd thing, however, is that the backyard in the poem is not the backyard in the picture. Weird right? Welcome to ekphrastic poetry. where a poem can be a description or about the deeper meanings of a piece of art. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, or stories or poems.


when the light was right
she could see the future.
There was a world beyond
the fence,
the dirt,
the beer cans
and rusted parts
from a dozen iron horses.
Her small hands
clenched into fists,
holding a promise.
when she left
she would never look back.


The Award Winner

In my March 8th post, Poetry News and Notes, I mentioned that I took second place in the NCPS annual competition, Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness category (current events). Now that the annual anthology of winning poems, Pinesong, has been published, I am free to share the poem here on my blog.

Assume the Position

First position: stand in line
Learn this in kindergarten. Do it to death.
Try not to do it in a police station.

Second position: hands in the air
Use one hand if you’re a student.
Use two if you’re in front of a gun.

Third position: head between your knees
Essential for turbulent flights and hangovers.
It may also be necessary in hostage crises.

Fourth position: kneel
Do this to propose, or protest police brutality.
Do not do this on someone’s neck.

Fifth position: bend over
Touch your toes for a light stretch.
Take a deep breath for the strip search.

Microsoft is changing the default Office font and wants your help to pick a new one

I notice fonts. Do you? I’ve done my share of newsletter design and layout, and I stare at MS Word everyday so this is a big deal. Click the link above to see how you can give Microsoft your 2 cents.

Let’s End with a Bang!

It’s the last day of National Poetry Month and the last day of the Poem-a-Day Challenge. I didn’t write 30 poems, but I wrote more than 15. I read tons of poetry online, mostly from contemporary poets, but I did read some classic poetry as I claimed I would. I read John Donne (Metaphysical Poet from the late 1500’s). I also read the analysis which I needed!. As to other poetry tasks, I read my poetry at two online events, by invitation and I pursued publication by submitting to four journals. No responses yet. Whew!

And now I have two (2!) new poems for you. These are both to Robert Brewer’s April 28 prompt: For today’s prompt, write a remix poem. This has become one of my favorite prompts, because it asks us to look over what we’ve written this month and pick something (or many somethings) to poem out in a new way. Maybe your free verse becomes a sonnet or your sestina transforms into haiku. Or take a line or phrase from each of your poems this month and work it into a cohesive new creation.

But how can I do that if I don’t have 29 poems to pull from? Use someone else’s work of course! They say it’s better to ask forgiveness than ask for permission. So I took lines from two different poet bloggers I follow and assembled two poems – one for each of them. I added a bit of original material to the first one to hang her lines together, but the second poem is almost entirely his lines. Be sure to click the URL for each of them so you can go to their blog and read their original work.

When was the last time you opened a map?
Who determines our path:
us or the wind or fate?
It’s the voice that seldom leaves us alone
that pushes us out the door.

Don’t listen to words spoken
from the lip of the bottle.
Listen instead for
lighthearted laughter
as soft as lamb’s wool clouds.

Home is not the appropriate place
to find fresh winds blowing.
I begin with rivulets
and follow to where they merge
with creeks flowing into rivers.
Finally I will reach the ocean,
stand and watch each wave
as it approaches, swells, explodes, and then recedes ̶
the tide’s lap dance with the shore.

It will stay at the Ordinary Inns
favored by poets, preachers and just plain sinners
that mark the thin places
where different worlds meet.

Now is not the time for caution.

Speculative Dreaming

Cancel my appointments
I think too much

This poem is
the scab forming over a trauma
and I can’t stop picking at it

I want to drink life straight from the bowl
and sing praises to the moon
every chance I get

Whose bones are these?
I just know I want one.
Like a dog chasing a car

All that pent up tension
I won’t be keeping a social distance
Shape is trivial
Nothing will come between our lips

I will just put one word in front of the other
until I cross the finish line.

Some vessels are best left unopened
but were archaeologists to steal my computer
they’ll know where I’ve been.

Inspired by a moonless sky
I leave this poem as an apology to the future
of our relationship.

Poetry and Math and Friendship

I have writer friends and non-writer friends. No surprise there. Life would be a bit dull if all of my friends were exactly like me. Some (many) of my friends are not big poetry fans. When people tell me they don’t like poetry, they usually rush to add, “But I like yours.” It makes me laugh. I’m always happy when someone tells me they like my poetry, but it’s certainly not a requirement to be friends with me. I also hear people tell me that while they like some poetry they could never write it. Meh. I don’t agree. I think anyone can write.

Math, however, is another story. Math is hard. Math gives me agita. So when I’m asked to combine math and poetry, I sweat a bit. Yet, I did write this one to Robert Brewer’s April 11 PAD prompt: Write a prime number poem

Oh god not another math poem!

I never worry or balk at my age.
More birthdays. More cake.
But I think I will stop at 59.
Instead of years
I will Level Up.
This way every trip around the sun
will be a victory lap
towards Mastery of my life.

Speaking of Math and Poetry, I have two very dear friends who are “Math People.” One of them, Bartholomew Barker, is the rare Math Person who also writes poetry after working his day job as a programmer. (Click his name to read some of his work.) My other Math Friend, Tess Fisher, just so happens to be an extraordinarily gifted sewist. She can sew anything from underwear to formal wear and anything in between. She sews for people of all sizes and shapes and even pets. She also makes wonderful costumes and turned herself in to Fawkes from the Harry Potter series last fall. I’m amazed by her talent. She is also one of my “poetry is not for me” friends. But as it turns out, despite her claims, she can indeed write a poem. With her permission:

If I Had a Pen, by Tess Fisher

If I had a pen,
Would I write a poem?

Or would I sketch a design,
Do some math,
Or twirl it like a baton?

If I had a pen…
I would,
Anything…but write a poem.

Can’t get enough poetry? Need something to do next Monday, April 26, 2021? Join me and 9 other poets who will be reading some poems and discussing their work at the annual Poetry on Your Plate events sponsored by the town of Carrboro, Parks & Recreation. It’s normally held in person but since Covid is still around, it’s virtual. Anyone can attend. It goes from 6pm to 8pm EDT. on Zoom.
Meeting ID: 999 0536 9763
Passcode: 918850

April 12, 21

In a poem a word is not equal to its meaning as it is defined in a dictionary, because either the meaning in a poem is totally different, or it is the same but a thousand times more precise. ~ Heaven Is Not Verbose: A Notebook, by Vera Pavlova, translated by Steven Seymour.

Poetry month is almost half over. I said I would write a poem a day to the challenge, if I was inspired, or I had time, or I felt like it. I’m right on track. It’s Day 12 and I’ve written 6 poems, 2 haiku and some scraps, which may or may not work their way into a poem. I also said I was going to read some of the classic poets. I started off with Blake and then got distracted. But today I was introduced to Vera Pavlova, quoted above, .

Written in 2012, this lovely piece is a multi-pager series of notes and observations about poetry, life, and writing. It’s filled with quotable lines such as this: “Went to bed with an unfinished poem in my mouth and could not kiss.”

And this one, “I live my life moving forward on rails that I lay myself. Where do I get the rails? I dismantle the ones I have gone over.”

I encourage you to click the bold title above and read this wonderful poem and find a few lines that speak to you.

Can’t get enough poetry on zoom?

Two of my poems were selected for the Heart Beats Poetry Anthology published by Lisa Tomey of The Prolific Pulse, the busiest poet I know. The book has been launched and celebrated with two readings by contributing poets which are available here on her blog. All the poetry is great but if you just want to see what I look like and how I sound (hint: like Minnie Mouse) check out the evening session and drag on over to minute 29. Better yet, listen to all of the poetry. And buy a book! And definitely follow her blog and join her for poetry, open mic events for Mondays in April, Poet’s Coffee Table Talks and book reviews.

Need more?
Check out the poem I wrote to the astronomy prompt on Living Poetry’s Monday Prompt: Yuri’s Night.

The Cruelest Month

It’s April again. This is National Poetry Month. I read T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland with a group of poets a couple of years ago. I enjoyed learning about the poem but I don’t remember what we decided he meant by April being the cruelest month. Except for the last decade (or more), April has become the month to inspire poets to write a new poem everyday. I’ve done it. It’s tough but does provide a nice stockpile of work to bring to critique workshops. But these days I’m just not into working that hard.

My motto for National Poetry Month: Enjoy poetry! There are lots of online poetry readings. I will be attending the book launch of the Heart Beats poetry anthology. published by Lisa Tomey, Prolific Pulse. (PS. I’m very proud to say that I have two poems in this book.). I will also be one of the poets featured at Poetry On Your Plate, hosted by the Carrboro Parks and Recreation department on April 26. (Living Poetry Meetup for the event.)

Of course I’ll write poetry. I’ll check the daily prompts on Robert Brewer’s “Write Better Poetry” daily April Challenge (formerly Poetic Asides). But not everyday! And I plan on reading poems from well-known poets. I read a lot of poetry from my contemporaries, but I think I could use some more grounding in the classics.

What do you plan to do for National Poetry Month?

Have You Met Me?

“Get out there and enjoy this beautiful day!”
Have you met me? I am indoorsy
I prefer Nature through a window.

“Have a fabulous day!”
How long have you know me?
Keep your uber enthusiasm to yourself.

“You should wear…
do … to your hair”
How dare you tell me
what I should care about.
Don’t give me diet advice.
Don’t talk to me before coffee.

“It’s April. Write a Poem every day!”
You can’t make me.
My inner child is strong.
Except I will write this one.

Horoscopes and Scars

Let’s me be clear. I don’t believe in horoscopes. I just think they’re fun to read, particularly the ones written by Rob Brezsny in “Free Will Astrology,” a syndicated weekly column that appears in free weekly independent newspapers and on the web at Poet, prophet, literate dabbler. He’s not really an astrologer as much as a suggester of things that could be useful. He quotes writers, artists and others. He writes about archetypes and references Freud and Jung. I never feel like his ‘scops are something to believe. Mostly they are just entertaining.

Take this week for example, my Scorpio horoscope for the week of March 25th, 2021:
“Blobs, spots, specks, smudges, cracks, defects, mistakes, accidents, exceptions, and irregularities are the windows to other worlds,” writes author Bob Miller. I would add that all those things, along with related phenomena like fissures, blemishes, stains, scars, blotches, muck, smears, dents, and imperfections, are often windows to very interesting parts of this seemingly regular old ordinary world—parts that might remain closed off from us without the help of those blobs and defects. I suggest you take full advantage of the opportunities they bring your way in the coming weeks.

This makes me think of Wabi-Sabi and Kintsugi.
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that finds beauty in imperfect things. It is a beauty of things modest and humble, unconventional. Wabi is the kind of perfect beauty that is seemingly-paradoxically caused by just the right kind of imperfection. Sabi is the kind of beauty that can come only with age, such as the patina on a very old bronze statue. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — a metaphor for embracing your flaws and imperfections. The gold makes the pottery stronger and more beautiful. It reveals how to heal and shows you that you are better with your golden cracks,”

Looking for Wabi Sabi

Beauty in age and wear.
My old car runs despite scary noises,
dents and scrapes and petrified fries,
worse for wear inside and out.
I’m looking for Wabi Sabi.

Beauty in imperfection.
Scars and stripes on my skin,
grey hair, a pimple, an age spot.
I’m looking for Wabi Sabi.

As I tend to a surgeon’s cut
I check healing progress,
watch a new scar form.
How can I be more beautiful
with these red lines?
I must let my gold shine thru.

Rage against the spoons

Rage against the spoons

forks, knives that she insists
have to be divided into their own set
when they come out clean
even though they are used interchangeably
from whichever drawer is closest
when cutlery is required.

Rage against the overflowing shelf
of food storage containers
and pile of extra lids,
so many glasses
dishes, duplicates.

I couldn’t wait to leave home
so I could do things My Way
And now here I am
with family again
but the zip code and the territory is new.

Rage against the quirks of a plaque-addled brain.
Why must she…
Why can’t she…
This is mild! It’s only going to get worse.
Remembering how we were then
how it is now
with a senior-parent/child.

Rage against the new reality.

Poetry News and Notes

I haven’t been writing. I stare at a blank computer screen for a bit, then switch over to Facebook to read memes, watch animal videos and read articles about odd and weird things. Because I’ve spent two months migrating myself and my mother into a new house! Because I’m adjusting to being her caregiver! Because I’ve had surgery! Because blah blah blah. The world keeps turning.

It’s time to get back to Poetry. I have news!

Last year I was honored to receive Honorable Mention in the Light Verse category of the North Carolina Poetry Society’s annual poetry competition. This year I submitted to six of the 10 categories. And …

I received Second Place for my poem “Assume the Position” Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness category!

The full list of winners

Bruce Lader was a wonderful and prolific poet with four books of published poetry. He was very active in the North Carolina poetry community and a great believer in social justice. He was also a long-time friend of the editor and great supporter of the Heron Clan poetry anthology series. Sadly, Mr. Lader passed away from a very unexpected and sudden illness in 2020 just as we were assembling book seven of the series. So, I am especially thrilled and honored to have my poem win in this category..

A couple of days after the January 6 Insurrection attempt at the State Capital, I posted a poem about it (Epiphany Demonstrations), with a note about it being a rushed draft. As expected, the submission group I monitor on Facebook had a rush of calls for poems about the event. It gave me a reason to work on the poem a bit and I submitted it to Gnashing Teeth Publications for an anthology on the subject. The poem was accepted! I haven’t bought the book yet cause, busy, but I will. The anthology is available on Amazon.

So that’s it on the self-promotion front. I certainly need to get back to poetry as I’ve got a “ghost” of a poem floating around my head. (Thanks to Audrey Driscoll and her latest blog post, A Page a Day, for that term, and for the nudge to write.)

Umbrella Days

Monday 3/1 Living Poetry Prompt

When it rains it pours
but it’s been raining too damn long
and I need some sun.

These gray skies are seeping into my gray matter
Looking for salvation in the next weather report.

Well dear readers – looks like my recent medical crisis is NOT over. It’s been nice to be at home but I’m headed back in for infection control. I miss it here. But I’ll be back. Send good vibes.