Squashing the PAD Challenge!

Five days into the April Poem A Day challenge and I am on track. In fact, I’m a little bit ahead, thanks to Bartholomew Barker, my pal and the fearless leader of Living Poetry. Tonight I attended his Poetry Germination Workshop and wrote to several prompts. I rarely get poems right on the first try, so everything is subject to editing. But I’m pretty happy with this one that came from the prompts tonight. So, without further ado:

Zucchini Squash Flowers

They’re edible you know.
Dredge the orange flowers in flour.
Pan fry, lightly.
I’ve seen it on the Food Network often enough.
But I’ve never eaten one.
It’s hard enough to get me to eat vegetables
when they look like they’re good for me.
Don’t force me to eat the decorations as well.
I can’t imagine Pretty tastes better than Practical.
Perhaps that’s why I only date ugly men.


It’s April: Happy National Poetry Month!

When I mention this to my non-poet friends, they look at me blankly and say, “Uh huh.” But I’m excited, as are all of my poetry friends and colleagues living:

Madly and haphazardly
writing and editing
Living poem by poem

There are special events in addition to the usual workshops and open mics in the area. There are also stealth poetry programs happening such as Poem in Your Pocket. Simply select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with coworkers, family, and friends. And don’t forget the mother of events, the Poem-a-Day challenge.

The real purpose of this month is to spread the word about this wonderful art form and encourage people to dip into the well. Why should we care about poetry? Poetry expresses the truth in a way that a textbook never can.

Poetry will never pay the bills,
feed the hungry,
or stop a war;
unless, it does.

So before I go, I encourage you to write or read a poem this month. Perhaps you will like one of my favorite poems.

After A While, by Veronica A. Shoffstall, written 1971.  I first read this poem in an Ann Landers column. This lovely and enduring poem about growing up and becoming a strong independent adult has touched many people and been published over and over again.

Autobiography in Five Chapters by Portia Nelson (1920 – 2001) from the book: There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery.  For many people this is the quintessential poem of recovery for those in 12 step programs. But I just think it’s good advice for everyone,

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953).  I like this poem, not just because it’s a great way to approach life, but it is a perfect example of a villanelle form poem.

What does that mean?

Although I’m a second generation Italian, with Italy on both sides of my DNA, I do not speak the language. So when a friend asked me what it means I had to tell her what I found on online translation. Ovunque Siamo is Italian for Wherever we are.  Fortunately the translation site I found offered this lovely example of the term in use.

Ovunque siamo, le nostre azioni avranno effetti su tutta la Terra.
Wherever we are, our actions have repercussions on the whole Earth

I know what you’re thinking. “What’s with the language lesson?” Well, it’s my not subtle way of telling you that one of my poems has been published in this fine online magazine!

Remembering Sunday Dinner at Grandma’s House — I hope you take a moment to check it out as well as the other wonderful pieces they’ve published.


What’s your word?

Happy New Year! 

A few years ago a friend introduced me to the One Word project. The idea is to replace new year resolutions, which are all about doing, with a guiding word for the year, which is all about being. A resolution is a nagging reminder of what you should be doing. The right One Word, however, is your inspiration and encouragement for being who and what you really want to be.

That year, 2011, we got together and made posters for ourselves with our word on it. My word was Discipline. It wasn’t the best choice for a word. Since I’m not a disciplined individual, it felt like just another failed resolution. My 2012 word was a little bit better, but not much, Action. I was still trying to push myself to be someone other than the low-energy, slow-moving person that I am. I must have known this, because the large poster had been replaced with a sheet of paper decorated with some stickers.

In 2013, I cheated and used a phrase: Whole and Complete. This was better, although looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking because the Complete is redundant. It’s a good thing to feel like a whole person but the next year I thought I’d aim higher. My 2014 word was Grace. Now, I am a klutz, but I had a different idea in mind. In the spiritual sense, grace is favor and blessing received from the Divine, such as forgiveness and redemption. I made a nice mini-poster, and then… meh. I still wanted to aim high though, so my word for 2015 was Serenity.  I never did feel serene that year which ended on a particularly low note with the death of my beloved cat, and my car totaled by an uninsured driver.

I put the One Word project on hiatus in ’16 and ’17.

However, I think the time is right to try again! This year I’m picking a word that I know I can Be, Do, and Have. POETRY!  Yes, I am going for the low hanging fruit, and no, there is no shame in the game here. There is only doing whatever we need to do to get by in the world.

I hope this year brings you happiness, health, prosperity, and lots and lots of poetry!  Please share your One Word for 2018 in the comments below.

If you are interested in learning more about One Word, check out these pages:

Holidays: We’re halfway through

Do you love the autumn and winter holiday season, or do you just bide your time and wait for them all to be over? Where are you on the love-the-holiday spectrum?  I’ve been up and down the scale from mushy, gushy, sappy, holiday love to seething resentment and distress. As I age though I find myself relaxing into acceptance.

Halloween was my favorite holiday as a child. Candy! Costumes! Later it was alcohol and costumes. Now it’s just about the cool weather, the decorations and enjoying other people in costume, especially children, babies and pets.

As an innocent kid, I thought Thanksgiving was a pretty basic holiday: food, family, pie.  It’s still that, but it’s also political, a gateway to consumerism, and a platform for dysfunctional family dynamics. Eat. Enjoy. Be happy to be home again.

So now it’s December which brings Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, and Ramadan. (Did I forget any?) It’s time for my annual gift buying and exchanging anxiety, and, POETRY! There are five poetry events on my calendar this month. Now that’s the way to spend the holiday season.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, and even if you don’t celebrate at all, I hope the season brings you good food, fun with people you love, and a touch of joy.

That Old Granny Magic

Sometimes you read something that rings so true and right that you find peace in the world. This is one of those essays. Magic is science and science is magic. It takes different eyes to see them both at the same time. Blessed Samhain. May the new year bring you joy.

Appalachian Ink ~ Home of Anna Wess (and Granny)

Last night, in the darkest of early morning hours, I heard the call of a distant train. We all know what that sounds like. It’s unmistakable, like the voice of somebody you once knew. I heard it just as clear and plain as I did when I was a child, when we lived across the river from the railroad tracks and the Norfolk and Southern would sound her alarm as she sauntered by our quaint, coal town neighborhoods. Most of the time, the train’s call was such a distant nuance, like a dream, that we never even woke up at all. We got used to that distant call, and after a while, it became a part of us, a comforting and peaceful wail, an Appalachian child’s lullaby, faithfully reminding us that we were home in our warm beds.


Despite the passing of time and the fact that I no longer…

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