Epiphany Demonstrations

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill went up the hill
to lobby on behalf of big business and tobacco.
The Senate fell down and broke its crown.
And the House came tumbling after.

That poem is from my collection of political and nonsense poems, “Not-for-the-Nursery Rhymes.” I wrote and published them almost a decade ago, and now when I read it, it seems so quaint. Is the tobacco lobby still one of the top 5 most evil institutions? Not all political poetry ages well. Here’s an updated version. I readily concede, it is not my finest work, and that’s OK. Sometimes you just have to work things out. Besides, I (naively) hope that ten years from now readers won’t know what I’m talking about.

January 6, 2021

Jack and Jill went up the hill
to bust into the Capitol.
The unruly seditious radicals
put Democracy in condition critical.
They believed 45’s lies and people died.
Senators were forced to take sides.
Congress confirmed the election
to thwart their QANON erection.
But we’re not done. It’s not over yet.
We’re in a precarious political situation
just days before 46’s inauguration.
Pick your side and hold on tight.
We’re not done with this fight.

Twenty Years a Writer, Part 4: Reasons to Write and Reasons to Publish

Another excellent installment in Audrey Driscoll’s “20 Years a Writer” series.

And, I enthusiastically agree with Audrey’s premise: “We write for personal reasons. We publish to share our writings with the world.”

Audrey Driscoll's Blog

Now that so many writers are also publishers (of their own writings), publishing seems like a natural outcome of writing. First you write, and then (after a few other operations) you publish. A no-brainer, right?

No. Writing and publishing are two completely different actions. While many pieces of text are written in order to be published as soon as possible, many others are not.

Reasons to Write

  • Inspiration: you can’t not write
  • Declaration: a statement you must make
  • Exploration: you want to see if you can write
  • Reminiscing: capturing the past for yourself or others
  • Figuring Out: solving a problem by putting it into words
  • Revelation: truth-telling
  • Explanation: recording knowledge

Reasons to Publish

  • To share ideas
  • To amuse and delight
  • To reveal something to the world
  • To test your ideas
  • To test your writing
  • To make money
  • To become famous

We write for personal reasons. We publish to share our…

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What does Respect mean to you?

I’ve been pondering this question today because of the LP Monday Poetry Prompt. Write a respect poem.

Twenty plus years ago, I was studying spiritual traditions and actively involved with mentoring young people. The topic of respect came up frequently. I believed then, as I do now, that every human being deserves the basic respect of personhood, which includes the dignity of autonomy over one’s body. Every human being on this planet is made of the same stuff as I am, which makes us spiritually, if not physically, brother and sister.

But that’s just the bare minimum!  It’s also true that to get respect you have to give respect, and respect is something that is earned by our actions. The one area of American life where those two tenants have left the proverbial building is politics. The last decade, the last four years in particular, has seen respect, civility and rational discourse about government and politics deteriorate to point where it has affected the entire population. These days I feel tainted having been dragged through slime that clings and corrupts.

No one is perfect of course. Like most people, I’ve received wounds and scars from people and given my fair share as well. But lately there have been wounds given and received as a direct result of the partisan divide between myself and people in my life. So here I am, pondering respect for others, the respect that I must have for myself and my beliefs and values, and loyalty based on a long personal history. I have no answers, yet.


You campaign in poetry.
You govern in prose.
~ Mario M Cuomo

What leader do you follow?

Follow the leader – touch your toes
Follow the leader – touch your nose

It was simple back then, just a game
to teach children and make them tame.

If the leader is a dimber-damber*
find one who respects the Charters.

Don’t follow a leader who doesn’t respect
the populace he governs and neglects.

The US has chosen a new leader to follow
but with a divided country victory feels hollow.

I hope, pray and wish Biden luck.
With McConnell in the senate, we’re still fucked.

*A dimber-damber is slang for the leader of a gang of criminals.

A Week of Halloween Haikus

Great Halloween poetry! Makes me want to grab a friend, some candy and/or a hot toddy, and watch scary movies!

Priscilla Bettis, Author

Spooky image of pumpkin at night

I wrote a Halloween haiku every day for a week in anticipation of the haunty holiday.


autumn dewy web
silken silver labyrinth
tiny fangs tarry


fall weather welcomes
delicate chills like icy
fingers on your neck


October howling
winds strum bare willow branches
werewolves howling too


ruby hourglass
nestles moonlit poisonous pearls
a hundred eggs stir


dead, curled leaves crackle
feet shuffle in night’s dark veil
the wroth witch cackles


fog smothers the ground
dropped leaves rot and mold, their stench
like an open grave


bat wings whispering
tombstones tumble, a haint weeps
bodies rise and lurch

Have a happy Halloween!

This post was possible due to Bette Stevens’ tips and Anthony Renfro’s encouragement. Thanks, you two.:-)
Author and poet Bette’s blog: here.
Author and poet Anthony’s blog: here.

Feature image is by Andreas Dress on Unsplash.

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My Voting Story

During this 2020 presidential election, the republican party has been waging an active campaign of voter suppression and the democratic party has been fighting back with information, education, and constant reminders to “Make A Plan to Vote.” Millions of Americans have already voted. I voted a couple of weeks ago. I had a plan, but mistakes were made. There’s a happy ending but for those interested, here’s my story.

I’ve been taking advantage of early voting since … Hmm. I can’t remember. It was just such a great idea I jumped on it and now it feels like it’s always been that way. Texas and Oregon were early adopters but the 2000 Bush/Gore hanging chad debacle was the catalyst that got most US states on board. For more details, check out this Time magazine article. Voting used to be a day. Now it’s a season.

This year, with the plague, I decided to take advantage of the new-to-most-of-us mail option. In North Carolina everyone was given the option to apply for an absentee ballot. The form came in the mail, but I had already downloaded request forms for myself and my mother.

I’d been following the news about what Trump’s new postmaster general Louis DeJoy was doing to slow down the US postal system. The delivery options: mail it (and hope it gets there in time) or drop it off in person. Well, let’s think about that. Bringing the envelopes somewhere in person is just one more errand for me, with my arthritis, bad foot, and canes in plague land. I’m already out once a week to get groceries and another time or two to get things for mom. Since my mother is part of my voting story, now is the time to mention that she has Alzheimer’s. It’s still considered “mild” and she has been ok living alone with lots of help from me and a senior care companion.

So, walking into a building to hand-deliver a ballot was a no. And what about the ballot boxes? There haven’t been any reports of tampering in NC, but some ballot boxes in California were set on fire, and some were fake boxes put out by people intending to ditch the ballots. I wanted to be able to drive past the sturdy blue metal box that sits right outside the post office in my little town. That covers the practical side of things.

Because voting is the most patriotic thing most of us do, there is also an emotional component to it. At least for me. I was devastated when agent orange took office. The past four years have been one national heartbreak after another. This year in particular has taken away most of my faith in humanity and I’m trying to hold onto what’s left. While DeJoy might be a brown-nosed minion, I have to believe that most of the 7.3 million employees of the US postal service are decent people who take pride in themselves and the work they do to serve the public.

OK, let’s get back to the story. In North Carolina, absentee ballots must be witnessed by someone who also signs the back of the envelope. I was the witness for mom. As she carefully and completely filled out each circle, she told me stories about her mother volunteering at local elections. (Yes, I’ve heard the stories before, but it’s sweet. I digress.) I dropped it off in the blue box on the way home. A couple of days later, I was back at her house with my own ballot. My first mistake (cue ominous music) was forgetting about it until the end of the day. It had been a good visit, but we were both tired.

I filled it out and then watched her fill out the witness section. Mistake number two, I didn’t check her work. It was 9:30. I put it in my bag, left and dropped it in the blue box in front of the post office. A few days later, I got an email with an attachment telling me there was a problem with my ballot. I freaked out! The email came from an address with a .gov extension, but those can be spoofed. The attachment could have been malware.

I finally decided to open it all up. The attachment was a form I had to print, sign, return as an affidavit that I am who I say I am. They had my name, town and zip but the street address was wrong. In for a penny, in for a pound. I dialed the phone number on the letter. She picked up right away. Me: May I speak to __. Her: This is she.

It turned out that there was a problem with the witness signature, the one made by my 81year old mother with the brain that is slowly dying, the one that I didn’t check before I mailed. The woman I spoke with couldn’t have been nicer. I was one of 9 people she was contacting. We all had an issue with the witness signature. When I told her that my address was wrong on the letter she went into her system and found me right away. That was mistake number 3. She had copied in the wrong line, an honest mistake anyone can make and something I do regularly. She apologized immediately. Within five minutes, I had a new email with a corrected letter.

It then took me three days to get ink for my printer, but when I put the affidavit in the mail, I included a hand-written thank you note. In a few days, I got the confirmation through the ballot tracking system online that my ballot was received and good to go.

Some of my faith has been restored.

I wish you safe and easy voting.

Title That Poem

I’m slowly cleaning out my In Progress folder. In the last two months I’ve work-shopped, edited and moved out several poem. Tonight’s high point was finally making a decision on how to incorporate the feedback I got on a poem in the July workshop. I spit it into two poems and moved them into the appropriate folder.

I’ve heard it said that poems are never finished, but simply abandoned. It may be true. Some of the poems in this folder have been there for years. The oldest file, titled Twilight, is dated 2016. When I opened up the document, I see three different attempts at a short poem, each titled Twilight, the earliest dated 2000.  Twilight is my least favorite time of day. That might be why I never got that one together.

But let’s move on. Today I need your help getting another poem out of limbo. I wrote this one for this year’s April Poem-a-Day challenge. The prompt was to incorporate 6 specific words in the poem. I managed to do that fairly quickly, with one of the prompt words in each of six lines. And then I stalled.  I wasn’t feeling it and eventually just wrapped it up with a rather silly/jokey ending, and saved it as “6 words” because I couldn’t be bothered with creating a real title.

I’ve decided that I want to stick a fork in it, and call it done. A plastic fork, not a stainless steel one because I might want to revisit it at some time. I just need it out of the folder so I can “find” it someday and either revise it or delete it. But before I can do that, I need a title to rename the file and add it to the inventory. That’s where I need your help Dear Reader.  Please read the poem below and post your suggestions for a title in the comments. Bonus points and undying love if you come up with a better final line. I might even have a prize to send.

The wolves are howling in the hills.
The lonely sound echoes in my belly.
It has been too long since I felt your embrace.
As my resolve grows to remedy
this situation, the fixtures that keep us apart
become as bumps in the road.
I’ll be there as soon as I find my shoes!



North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #6

I’m pleased to be included in the latest issue of Pandemic poetry from North of Oxford. Scroll all the way down to the bottom to see my three poems.

North of Oxford

“Windowbox Flowers and Rain Barrel” “Windowbox Flowers and Rain Barrel” by Mary M. Michaels https://marymmichaels.weebly.com/

Thanks to the poets for contributing to The Pandemic Issue #6 from North of Oxford and Mary M. Michaels for graciously providing her art.  In order of appearance we present:  Henry Crawford, Megha Sood, Sheila Allen with Emily Jensen, Kerry Trautman, M. J. Arcangelini, Stephen Bochinski, Christine Riddle, Maria Keane, Marko Otten, Patricia Carragon, Jonel Abellanosa, Reizel Polak, Lois Perch Villemaire, Stephen Page, John Stickney, Ethel Gofen, Nan Ottenritter, Larry C. Tolbert, Kirsty A. Niven, Roderick Deacey, Gwil James Thomas and JeanMarie Olivieri
Henry Crawford
View From The Refrigerated Truck
The one below me died last Thursday.
They took him to the ICU the day before.
Put him on a ventilator.
Next to me a woman I remember
from the waiting room. The steel doors opened
to a blast of sunlight and cold vapor.

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Dear Diary,

I’ve heard that women must suffer for beauty. I reject that notion! I will process my trauma through poetry.

Princess JM

Corona Hair
I’m here to tell a sad tale
of a beauty salon visit fail.

I went from hair, hair everywhere
to hardly any, anywhere.

Four months without a cut
I was in a hairy rut.

My big head looked like a poodle
not a human but a canine’s noodle.

I skipped the chain store cutters
and went to a salon with my mother.

Short hair is the style for me.
Clipper and guard are so easy.

But the communication lacked
and thus was my hair hacked.

Instead of length one inch
I got less, just a pinch.

I won’t cry because hair grows
but not as fast as Pinocchio’s nose.


How I started

JM is poodle

How I ended

post haircut 1 new hair

Put on Your Fancy Pants

We are going back in time to the Victorian Age!

I love words and I collect unique and interesting words. I squirrel them away in files and when I’m bored or procrastinating and want to do anything but write, I read through them. Included in my files is a list of fun but obscure words that were popular during the Victorian Age.

Recently e-Quips, my pal and fellow blogger posted an article she found featuring Victorian Slang. It reminded me of a poem I wrote during the April Poem a Day Challenge using some of the words from my list. I’ve been told by certain readers that I don’t post enough poetry; so without further ado, here is my forgotten about, just-for-fun poem. If some of the vocabulary is new to you, you can look them up in the Mental Floss article, 56 Delightful Victorian Slang Terms You Should Be Using.

The Future is Effulgent

When I get out of here
I’m going to run across town,
straight into your arms.

I’ve got the morbs and I need
to see your giggle-mug.

I want to plant a wet one
on your sauce-box,

When we come up for air
from the longest smooch.
we’ll celebrate with some hooch

And when we are forswunke
from all the canoodling
we’ll step outside for a lazy soodle.

When I get out of here
I’m going to run across town,
straight into your arms.

I should have been there the whole time.