Saturday, April 30, 2022

Poem a Day 30: I Dare You . . .

When I was nine years old,
or maybe ten,
my mom, my sister, and me
went to live with my aunt.
Everything seemed crazy.
We didn't know, my sister and me,
why we were there, on this small island,
just outside Seattle, living in this
tiny house with a crooked fireplace
and a winding path down to the beach.

My two cousins greeted us with straight faces.
Jimmy, the oldest at 12, walked us
over to a group of nettles rising up out of the earth.
"How do I know you will be brave?"
He glared at me. "Pick one of these nettles
and strip the leaves off. I dare you."

Did you ever wonder what you would do if
someone dared you to do something,
and you knew, deep in your heart that this
was stupid? And you did it? 
Because you wanted more than anything
to belong, to be accepted, to be loved?
Blisters blasted up both hands as I twisted
that nettle and pulled it straight.

The rest of that summer, the island was ours.
We ran wild along the beaches,
climbed logs, built sand castles,
left secret messages in that stone fireplace.
For those few months, I was just a kid.

Bainbridge Island, about 1953.

Today's the very last day of the national challenge to write a poem every day for the month of April. I'm not quite sure this is a poem. I did want to write something beautiful, something about nature, maybe hope in these tumultuous times. But instead, this memory came of a time long ago, when I was just a kid. All I can tell you is that I'm still stubborn -- and, it's time to get back to writing! 

Has anyone ever dared you to do something? What did YOU do?

I am hoping that May will be a better month for us all.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Poem a Day 29: X marks a spot . . .

X marks a spot on the map, 
perchance more 
than arriving at a destination, 
a meandering toward the end,
really, a whole month 
of a form of meditation,
writing poetry, 
trying to define the unknown,
x-related, not x-rated,
unexpectedly connecting to endless skies
and those I love, 
all as the earth turns,
another day, 
another mark on the calendar,
and, for now, spring.

Only one more day left in this month-long challenge to write a poem each day. Somewhat at random, I found a lovely site that posted A to Z prompts for this  month. I'm a little late, though very appreciative of having found a few words this morning. May will begin with a return to story writing, and just maybe, I'm ready!

Thank you for reading, for being a part of my blog. Are you ready for May? 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Poem a Day 28: Friends

Where are you this morning?
Looking out over your garden with plans,
a cup of hot tea ready to sip,
crossword puzzle folded nearby for later?
Early spring means those first
weeds are shooting up 
next to bulbs now sprouting, 
sprigs of red, yellow, purple, 
all the flowers you have nurtured,
and green everywhere,
as if the deer won't notice.
The days have finally turned warmer.
Once again, we'll gather
in your backyard,
hoping for a glimpse 
of this year's fawns,
and remembering
all our times together, stories told,
far away places shared,
and now, good memories,
dear friends to cherish.

Backyard deer, Redmond 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Poem a Day 27: Family History

Only once have I chipped ice
off the top of a pail
to get to the water beneath,
camped near the top of a mountain,
waking to snow on the ground,
a rough trail ahead.

My mother grew up in a logging camp,
back in the 1920's, apples saved
under the bed through winter.
She brought water to their cabin,
in heavy pails, snow or no snow.
Gramie cut their hair so they
almost looked like boys,
eased their cuts and bruises with
a home-made poultice, and cooked
venison over the fire, tasty when
you could get it. Grandad ran a crew
and cut logs wider than they were tall,
out in the wilderness. Only the railroad
linked them to town, that and trails
so remote, even a trackker could get lost,
and they did, get lost and somehow survive
until Grandad got a better job.
They moved to town, one of those
small cottages in a row, yes, 
a white picket fence in front
like I've dreamed of. All was well,
until my mother became beautiful.

Frances and Marion, Anderson Camp, 1928

Marion, Hollywood, 1941

Only three more days in this month-long poetry challenge. I must confess, writing a poem a day has not been easy, but still, starting most mornings by just reflecting, letting words and images bubble up has taken me in unexpected directions. Thank you for reading along. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Poem a Day 26: A Quilter Begins . . .

Imagine a little boy
helping his mother in her quilting shop,
picking up scraps of every color,
playing with patterns,
never realizing one day, he would
draw with fabric such exquisite designs,
his own patterns would dazzle quilters everywhere.

And so I begin my first quilt of his making
by cutting the fabric, tracing the lines,
four flowers balanced in batik,
each block builds into the next,
perhaps a quilt one day 
to comfort my husband, my daughter;
perhaps my granddaughters will
play hide and seek, pointing
to their favorite flowers
just before napping or dreaming
or remembering.

First block of "Enchanted Garden"
by Jason Yenter, 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Poem a Day 25: Home

When I was a kid, I walked to school
past a row of cottages, neatly
tucked behind white picket fences,
red roses in tidy gardens,
and daydreamed of some day 
my world would change.
We lived in a rented duplex,
each night, a cacaphony of raised voices,
the clink of glasses and bottles,
and in the morning, with ashtrays to clean,
I tiptoed around sleeping strangers
before I walked to school.

I never believed I would live
in such a cottage, and then I met you,
my traveling man, maps in hand,
telling stories along the way, predicting
adventures in how many countries? 
We slept in so many places,
learned new languages, crossed mountains,
swam in exotic seas, explored great cities 
and rooms and rooms of paintings 
cloistered in museums we made our own,
trekked through forests and deserts,
stopped near waterfalls to simply listen,
until we had our precious child. 
We settled in one place, 
with space for books and art and music:
delight upon delight, 
even now, a healing place,
our home.

Image by Lars Nissen from Pixabay

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Poem a Day 24: Thoughts of Spring

Today's robin hopped in front
of us, the walk along a pine forest path,
up to the conservatory, the leaves
of willows and birch finally green,
forsythia, bright yellow,
almost a challenge
to put thoughts of winter behind,
even as our steps falter.

"I don't want to miss school," she wailed,
trying to hide her cough, her temperature.
She'd rather study Greek goddesses and
reinvent that ancient world.
They haven't taught her yet
about Persephone,
the Queen of the Underworld
who rules the turn of seasons,
the end of winter,
the beginning of spring.

When we are young,
maybe every day is spring,
the newly opened flower,
the hope for warmer days.
Only as we grow older
and sense the length of our days
do we note the coming of winter,
hold fast to memories,
and hold the young granddaughter's hand
who dreams of goddesses.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Poem a Day 23: One Day

The first time I made baklava,
honey and walnuts strewn between
thin layers of phyllo,
I remembered that stay in Istanbul, 
the stars shimmering as we walked
along narrow, cobblestone streets,
back to our hotel, our hearts
full of what we had seen at Topkapi Palace,
connecting rooms and gardens
where sultans and harems 
were once a way of life;
the shop where an eager salesman
held up carpets made entirely of silk
that shimmered in the morning light,
all for us to admire, perhaps to buy;
the tea seller, strolling through the gardens
across from Hagia Sophia,  
who carried hot tea all ready to serve,
with near a hundred little clear glasses 
hung with cords around his body;
and Chora Church, now an Ottoman Empire Mosque,
its walls glazed with intricate tiles,
where Muslim men wore brown felt turbans, 
their long white skirts swirling out with each turn, 
their dancing, a prayer. 

I pull out a quilt book and wonder again
if I will ever make a quilt to honor
those Iznik tiles, every shade of blue
and coral red, with shapes to capture  
those once unique Turkish flowers:
tulips, carnations, roses, peonies, and violets.
Where is that royal bird, the peacock,
whose cry resembles a shriek,
yet who turns and flashes its feathers and turns again?
Somehow all is entwined in the history of this place,
once the center of the world between East and West,
once Constantinople, now Istanbul, 
hundreds of years have passed and will pass. 
I study anew these patterns
and know I will make such a quilt, one day.

Whirling Dervish, Chora, Istanbul (2004)

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (2004)
Construction begun 360 A.D. Completed 537 A.D.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Poem a Day 22: Repetition

Outside my window, a nameless
bird chirps and chirps,
its song a glad awakening
to blue sky and a sun-drenched day.
Winter was too long this year,
those days wrapped in snow
and cold wind that blew
hope into darkness.

I know, as sure as I stretch
into each moment of today,
that winter will return,
as the earth turns,
the moon rises,
itself turning from
crescent to full,
and turning again,
the same and not the same,
ending and not ending.

Somewhere newscasters' voices drone,
reporting anew the horror of war, 
global warming, political
angst, and we're left, bereft,
remembering the words of Dylan Thomas:  
"Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying
of the light."

Today, NaPoWriMo's Maureen Thorson writes: "In honor of today being the 22nd day of Na/GloPoWriMo 2022, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that uses repetition. You can repeat a sound, a word, a phrase, or an image, or any combination of things."

And then the bird chirped outside my window.

You can read Dylan Thomas' poem HERE on

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Poem a Day 21: Memories

I knew a man who died of cancer. 
I stayed by his side at hospice.
He gave me a poem, 
wavy lines on a scrap of paper,
no one could read. 
He asked me to take care of his wife,
for she could not take care of herself. 

I used to be a banker, sitting 
with other account officers
behind massive mahogany desks; 
our customers held 
a minimum of one million in deposits,
until the numbers blurred,
and I ran away with you.

We stood in line for four hours
at the San Francisco Art Institute 
to see a special exhibit of Vincent Van Gogh.
We came to a complete stop
in front of 'Starry, Starry Night"
and I began to cry.  

Why is an ordinary life,
an extraordinary life
so hard to understand? 

Today’s (optional) prompt from NaPoWriMo's Maureen Thorson is inspired by poet Betsy Sholl. Maureen "asks you to write a poem in which you first recall someone you used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job you used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that you saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, close the poem with an unanswerable question." Whew. I needed to read Betsy Sholl's poem first, but that link was broken!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Poem a Day 20: Waiting for Summer

My fridge is half-full
of frozen food I don't want to eat.
Maybe there's a revolution,
or a sense of revulsion,
for I'd rather go out to the garden,
pretend it's late summer, and pluck
fresh leaves from lettuce,
a radish or three, two tomatoes
blush red from the sun, and
a green onion, make that two,
their stalks just high enough to add spice.
Back inside, the fridge holds promise
this time. I'll add green olives,
a sprig of parsley,
feta cheese chunks or gorgonzola,
what richness. Now mix with vinagrette,
home-made, a bit of artisan bread on the side,
liberally spread with butter, and
that sense of peace returns.

Image by MetsikGarden from Pixabay

Today’s prompt from Maureen Thorson, the host of NaPoWriMo asks us to write a poem that anthropomorphizes a kind of food. Maureen says: "It could be a favorite food of yours, or maybe one you feel conflicted about. I feel conflicted about Black Forest Cake, for example. It always looks so pretty in a bakery window, and I want to like the combination of cherries and chocolate . . . but I don’t. But how does the cake feel about it?"  

Ah, but what about foods you don't like -- or can't easily have just now?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Poem a Day 19: Look . . .

If I could wish a poem
each day into being, those words
assembled neatly on the page,
new images that resonate with meaning,
connect with nature,
perhaps revealing what each day
means to me, that burst of pleasure
about a phrase that says
exactly what I'd like to say:
That would be enough.

But, look, what I really care about
are family and friends, dear ones all,
who face down challenges,
and I cannot change anything at all,
not really. Somehow even words 
at such a distance, a note or call,
seem not enough. Maybe prayers
would help. On my desk, 
a small jar with two hyacinths
bloom, their sweet smell
suggests hope.

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

Today the prompt from NaPoWriMo is simply to write a poem that starts with a command. It could be as uncomplicated as “Look,” as plaintive as “Come back,” or as silly as “Don’t you even think about putting that hot sauce in your hair.”  

The prompt itself makes me want to write something silly. Instead, I'm thinking about family and friends -- and hoping for good news tomorrow.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Poem a Day 18: Five Answers to a Question . . .

Got up too early,
my legs are cold,
even so, new beginnings.

The smell of coffee tickles
my brain, almost a memory 
of warmer days.

If the cherry tree with tiny buds 
just outside my window bends
with snow; spring hesitates.

Down by the pond,
a trio of geese lift into the sky
to flap their way north.

When family gathers, the grandchildren,
three cats, and a large black dog play; 
their chatter warms my bones. 

Image by Ralphs_Fotos from Pixabay

Today's poetry prompt comes from National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and is inspired by Faisal Mohyuddin’s poem “Five Answers to the Same Question.” Today, NaPoWriMo challenges us to write a poem that provides five answers to the same question – without ever specifically identifying the question that is being answered! So, can you guess my question?

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Poem a Day 17: The Butterfly

Today's poem was written by Pavel Friedman on June 4, 1942.

The Butterfly

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing 
against a white stone…

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ‘way up high.
It went away I'm sure because it wished to 
kiss the world goodbye.
For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found my people here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here,
In the ghetto.

Image by Kalle H. from Pixabay

The poem is preserved in typewritten copy on thin paper in the collection of poetry by Pavel Friedmann, which was donated to the National Jewish Museum during its documentation campaign. It is dated June 4, 1942 in the left corner. Pavel Friedmann was born January 7, 1921, in Prague and deported to Terezín* on April 26, 1942. He died in Oswiecim* (Auschwitz) on September 29, 1944. *Terezín was a Nazi concentration camp. Source.

Friday marked the beginning of Passover. Part of the service is to remember the Holocaust. Sunday, today, is Easter. How can we write of tragedy and hope, without being angry? For, even as we celebrate one or both of these holy days, isn't Russia continuing its war against Ukraine, displacing some 4.7 million so far and killing and/or injuring thousands more? 

I have no words today.

Join in April's Poetry Challenge with Robert Brewer of Writer's Digest. Brewer says: "For today's prompt, write a mad poem. There are things that make us mad as well as things that drive us mad. Whatever your interpretation of the word, I hope you have fun with this prompt."

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Poem a Day 16: Touch me Not

I'm grumpy
when the telemarketer calls
at 6 am.
On Saturday.
Touch me not.
I'd rather be sleeping
or reaching out to friends,
our words, flowers:
Forget me not.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Catch up on all the poetry prompts from Robert Brewer at Writer's Digest! Today's Poem-A-Day Challenge asks us to write a poem about 'touch'. Actually, my feet hurt from standing too long in the kitchen, but it's the holidays! Lots of good food, family gatherings. What could be sweeter? How touching, right? Especially when my granddaughter hugs me. "Gramie, you are the best cook in the world!" And the smallest one: "This is the best day in my life. Ever!" 

Happy holidays!

Friday, April 15, 2022

Poem a Day 15: Patience is in knowing . . .

Patience is in knowing
when to listen with a calm face,
accept, endure, even forgive,
and when to fight.
Sadly, I am not the most patient person.
Forgive me for knowing and
not knowing. That inner thrum of blood
tells me I must run
or stay. The only safe place for me
is here, with you.

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Catch up on all the poetry prompts from Robert Brewer at Writer's Digest! Today's Poem-A-Day Challenge asks us to write a patience poem. Brewer says: "Your poem could be about someone or something with great patience, or it could come from the other direction (ie, impatience). One fun thing about this prompt is that it begs us to consider the various ways of measuring time: From the patience required to sit at a red light to the patience of a tree growing rings for centuries."

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Poem a Day 14: Was it Scary?

Was It Scary?

The first time you lost a word while speaking, 
as if your brain hit a bump,
a convoluted map of nerve cells 
pointing to what comes next,
until sentences begin to disappear, 
was it scary?
Or did you sit with friends to joke
and fill in the blanks, 
laughter easing loss?
I only hope that I remember you,
and you remember me,
for I would rather lose every word,
almost every other memory,
even as I know what's coming.

Visiting Kilauea Volcano, March 2022

Catch up on all the poetry prompts from Robert Brewer at Writer's Digest! Today's Poem-A-Day Challenge asks us to write a scary poem. As Robert Brewer says: "Your poem could invoke monsters, release spiders, or tremble at the mystery of the night. It could contemplate taxes or the prospect of public speaking. And don't forget the dread of the blank page. There are so very many things that can be interpreted as scary. Write your interpretation today." Well, sorry, Mr. Brewer, I wanted to write a happier poem, as today feels full of promise.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Poem a Day 13: How to Write a Poem

I don't have any advice
on how to write
a poem. After nearly fifty years
of setting words to paper,
I only know what works for me,
that sense of settling within,
opening up to some intuitive leap
that knits together word by word,
a fresh awareness of every breath,
a gift, this flesh, this mind, this heart:
all plays together 
to create something new.
Rather different than other writing,
no blundering through research
linking dates and people,
letters long forgotten,
or even fiction, all the work
behind creating that imaginary realm
of characters, setting, conflict,
and happy ever after,
or not so happily ever after.
The writer's journey is never quite complete.
Yet with a poem, that steady concentration
brings us to an awareness, a celebration,
a beginning and an ending,
words on the page that just might
satisfy some yearning. 
Now, can you say 
you know how to write a poem?
Pick up that pen or poise your fingers over the keyboard
and listen to your most hidden, innermost self.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Catch up on all the poetry prompts from Robert Brewer at Writer's Digest! Today's Poem-A-Day Challenge prompt asks us to take the phrase "How to (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: "How to Win at Life," "How to Cook Lasagna," "How to Fall in Love," and/or "How to Write a Poem." Yes, I took that last prompt as if I knew how to write a poem.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Poem a Day 12: Not Counting . . .

Not Counting

Robins don't count
how many days to spring,
or wonder if their eggs will hatch.
I've seen three robins so far,
though snow fell like grackle
from the sky this week,
little white reminders
of winter.
I won't count how many winters I've seen
or how many winters are left.
I'd rather celebrate spring-to-come
with each uncurling blossom of early
hyacinth, snowdrop, and tulip,
an end to bundling up with shaggy layers.
Yet my feet remain cold, even
coddled with socks. The earth tips,
revolves, moves forward, not counting
its spin, its glaciers melting, perhaps
the coming of another Ice Age,
sometime within the next 1,500 years.
But I'm not counting.

Image by jggrz from Pixabay

Catch up on all the poetry prompts from Robert Brewer at Writer's Digest! Today's Poem-A-Day Challenge prompt is simply to write either a counting poem and/or not counting poem.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Poem a Day 11: Power Play . . .

Today, Robert Brewer of Writer's Digest, asks us to: "Write a power poem. Your poem could somehow involve electricity, solar power, fossil fuels, wind, or water. It could illustrate a power play or someone exerting their power over someone else. Of course, you could also write about a power outage. You alone have the power to poem your way through this prompt."

Power Play . . .

Not sure I can find a poem today,
tucked somewhere between naps
and brunch, that second cup of tea,
and mental crunches over tax papers, 
a deadline looming. Where is poetry
when even the prompt speaks
of power? My turn to pick.
My turn to choose.

I choose not to watch the news today
as Russian tanks encircle yet another city,
Western nations and our own White House
debate and delay and delay,
innocents die. War rages.
How do we stop a bully? 
Just walk away and keep walking?
Ask a buddy for help? Ask anyone for help,
but never fight back? For that will escalate?
Is that another power play?
Zelensky has followed all these steps, 
again and again. His people fight; 
his impassioned pleas to the West
resonate with horror. With honor.
We send words and arms but stay
on this side of the line. Do we feel safe?
For how long do we feel safe?
Sanctions, our leaders propose, will limit
the war, will encourage negotiations.
When has talk ended bullying? killing? 
the atrocities of an all out war?
This is not a poem.
This stalemate that sidesteps an ending to war
is simply power feeding power,
an unending circle,
while we remain on the outside, unsure,
unwilling to risk what could lead
to nuclear war.
But we are not at peace.

Image of Kiev, Ukraine, home to 2.9 million people
by ELG21 from Pixabay

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Poem a Day 10: Smell This . . .

Today Robert Brewer suggests we dive back into the senses to write a poem using 'smell' in some way. Check out more at Writer's Digest! I hope you enjoy.

Smell This!

Just sometimes, I'll enter a restaurant
or my kitchen, filled with want: 
the rich smells assault my nose;
I'm drawn right in, head to toes,
Mexican, Chinese, Indonesian, or Thai,
I do not question why
that first taste makes me get that suitcase out
ready for walkabout, guided by my snout.

In self-defense, it's not really about smell,
for that would be it's own hell,
to not see or taste? What a waste!
I invite you to come for just a taste,
when all else begins to unravel
and we can't quite travel,
I'll make a special dish
to satisfy your every wish
and we'll seek a simple bliss,
together, with all our senses unleashed,
we'll feed the beast.

Image by Matteo Orlandi from Pixabay

Saturday, April 09, 2022

Poem a Day 9: Breaking/Not Broken

Today's prompt from Robert Brewer, of Writer's Digest, for National Poetry Month is to write a breaking poem. Brewer says that "the poem could be about breaking down walls, break dancing, breaking up, or breaking stuff. However you'd like to break it down and then write your poem."

Breaking/Not Broken

There is no broken glass
No shattered door, no screaming
in the night, no, we did not hold
our breath, waiting
for what we did not know
was possible,
until the skies exploded
and buildings fell
around us, and we died.
Leaders in council rooms
gather to vote,
yay or nay, the risks greater
than one life or two,
or several hundred.
After all, they nod 
and nod again. 
Putin has gone too far.
We must draw a line,
take a stand, but . . .
they pause. 
Our resistance may take us all
to a nuclear world war. For now,
the bombs fall only in Ukraine.
For now.

Just this morning, the Guardian released news that Boris Johnson's took a surprise visit to meet with Zelensky in Kyiv. Johnson promised: "We will provide support so that Ukraine is never invaded again." Also in the news, Sweden and Finland, with its 800 mile border next to Russia, may join NATO by summer. All this complicates those ongoing talks in public meetings and behind closed doors as well as life in Ukraine as Russian attacks continue.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Poem a Day 8: What They Never Tell You

Today's prompt from Robert Brewer for Day 8 of the Poem a Day Challenge is to write a 'what they never tell you' poem. 

Robert Brewer says: "I'm not sure who "they" are, but "they" talk a lot, and there are things people tell you, and there are things you just have to learn on your own, because "they" (them again) never tell you ahead of time. Like, for instance, "they" never told me that I'd still feel like a teenager in my 40s, but here we are. Think about what "they" never tell (or told) you, and write that poem."

What They Never Tell You

I don't know what every mother feels
that moment when her new child
is born, and she holds that infant
in her arms for the first time.
I only know my world seemed to stop
and start anew, for you were here,
my daughter,
a force entirely unto yourself,
yet shaped by dreams and hope,
and now, unexpected change.
I tried to tell you over the years
what that moment meant.
I'm not sure my words ever held
that sense of surprise and delight,
until that day, your own daughters
nearby, you said to me,
your face easing into a heartfelt smile,
"Now I know what you meant."

Image by Yashwanth Madhu from Pixabay

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Poem a Day 7: Too Much

Today's prompt by Robert Brewer for Day 7 of the Poem a Day Challenge is simply to write about abundance. 

Perhaps 'having abundance' means having more than we need. A quick check Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines abundance as "1. an ample quantity : an abundant amount : profusion a city that has an abundance of fine restaurants. 2 : affluence, wealth a life of abundance." 

But further down the search page, GoodNet offers a slightly different definition: "In a spiritual context, the notion of abundance or plenty is less about material conditions, revolving instead (once basic needs are met), around an appreciation of life in its fullness, joy and strength of mind, body and soul."

Too Much

This morning brings a profusion of choices,
words on the page prolific, lush,
too much. 
There is no surplus when
you live close to the bone.
Too many families know nothing of plenty,
each day a dash to balance what is there
with what is not. Just for today,
I want to walk under a sheer blue sky,
grateful for shoes that don't pinch.
We hold hands,
the sweet smell of spring around us,
the tiniest buds opening everywhere;
overhead, geese fly south,
the snow on nearby mountains melts,
and I feel as if
I could breathe in abundance.

Image by Anrita1705 from Pixabay

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

IWSG and A Poem a Day 6: Words in the Air

Today's prompt by Robert Brewer for Day 6 of the Poem a Day Challenge is to take the phrase "a (blank) in the (blank)," replace the blanks with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: "Poem in the Pocket," or "Skin in the Game," or whatever phrase you find appealing.

Words in the Air

If ever a writer wrote
a story, a poem, a book, then
faced down the challenge of reading those words
into a microphone or in front of an audience,
those words that floated once in imagination,
that took shape on paper, on a computer screen,
slowly emerged from dreams into scenes,
somehow now hover in the air
to beguile, to transform into something,
something entirely new.
Was that the goal? To bring to life
that first gasp of an almost word,
a heart's cry shaped to air,
ever after irrevocably here?
Those words take on their own direction,
their own meaning as others
repeat them: What brings change
as we listen? How are we changed?
Which words, which lines resonate for us,
forever fixed in our own imagination?
Zelensky's pleas yet echo.
As Robert Frost wrote, 
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and sorry I could not travel both . . . ."
Sometimes we hear and do not listen.
We do not change.
We do not act.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Today also marks the first Wednesday of the month, another writing challenge, the  Insecure Writer's Support Group. Nearly 140 writers, including me, post our thoughts on our blogs to celebrate writing in some way -- maybe sharing doubts or concerns, maybe celebrating our writing achievements, or offering encouragement to each other.

If you'd like to participate, why not sign up, post your own thoughts on your blog, check out the guidelines on the IWSG LINK, and visit about 12 other writers! 

Stop by our co-hosts for this month and say thank you to: Joylene Nowell Butler, Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise - Fundy Blue, and Kim Lajevardi.

This month's IWSG optional question is: Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook? (And now you know where today's poem began . . . )

Yes, two of my books have been made into audiobooks. Most challenging was finding a reader for the process is time-consuming and expensive. You can pay upfront (typically hundreds of dollars per hour) or create a royalty share. Either way, the recompense to author or voice actor is small and slow. Some people suggest that listeners would like to hear the author voice her own story. That requires special equipment and possibly renting a studio (or creating one in a closet with blankets).

The process itself is no less daunting, for after the voice actor completes his or her work, the author must review every sound bite, send corrections, and review those corrections. Both times, this part of the process took months. I hope to hear more positive experiences from other IWSG writers.

And an update on my writing: Covid still affects us all in unexpected ways. My beta reader happily is recovering, but I'm still holding my breath a bit as I wait for her comments on the final, hopefully final draft of Scattered Stones, my next historical novel set in Scotland in the 1840s, set to launch at the end of April. 

I'm still looking for a few more readers who are willing to read and review in exchange for a free advance copy of Scattered Stones. Please do e-mail me if you are interested! 

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Poem a Day 5: Make Sense?

Today's prompt by Robert Brewer for Day 5 of the Poem a Day Challenge is a 'Two for Tuesday' poem. That is, two prompts to write either one or combine, as you wish. Prompt 1: Make sense. Prompt 2: Don't make sense. Robert Brewer always includes his own response to inspire us. Today, his poem (see link above) is heartfelt.

Make Sense?

Why do we strive for order each day,
our calendars full, priorities set, 
as if our belief in what makes sense could be touched.
Scientists know this: 
They note the spider's web turning with purpose,
truly only one goal: to survive.
Neanderthals knew this: 
the men hunted; the women gathered.
If needed, the women hunted; the men gathered.
We take each day and survive. 
If bills are paid, no one can evict us?
If we fill out all the papers, 
if we wear masks, we will be safe?
Promises are made and kept, or not. 
No matter the loud noises in the night 
or the terror of bombs.
This world makes no sense at all.
I'm not sure what lines are drawn,
or when they will be crossed
as I sip my hot tea and listen to the news,
each day recounting atrocities.
I wait for some good resolution,
without much hope, knowing
somehow we will survive this,
even if it makes no sense at all.

Image by wal_172619 from Pixabay

Monday, April 04, 2022

Poem a Day 4: Catch Up

Today's prompt by Robert Brewer for Day 4 of the Poem a Day Challenge is simply to write a 'catch up' poem.

Each morning, still and observant,
quiet and receptive, I sing my own
daily not-routine, as others rush
to work, their watches ticking, 
their schedules masked over
with unending lists of urgent 'to do'. 
Instead, I ponder the craft 
that led to this tiny, delicate carving of a raven,
black obsidian, about as big as my index finger,
and wonder at the memory
of walking through a lava tube on Kona, so eerily large,
easily twenty feet high and several hundred feet long.
Once hot lava rushed like commuters to the sea, 
building new land,
as it flowed on its own schedule.
Perhaps I'm grateful each day for this quiet time,
perhaps I do miss working at times.
These days, retired, I create my own sense of order,
and choose when to catch up.  

Sunset at Kona (2022)

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Poem a Day 3: Walking the Seasons

Today's prompt for the third day of A Poem a Day (PAD) Challenge invites us to write a poem somehow inspired by smell. Well, I do enjoy cooking and could have fun with that, but instead, I'm drawn outside and cannot tell you which is my favorite season.

Winter bites my nose. 
Even snow blinds the senses. 
Yet we walk, sometimes slipping, 
our feet crunch tiny crystals into powder,
mixed with pine needles,
a hint of wood smoke now and then 
as we turn home.
Spring brings hope with every blossom,
new and fragile. Delicate yellow daffodils waver,
then bloom. Hyacinths, slow to bud, 
burst open. A riot of purple scent tickles
our way into those longer days of summer
and roses, red and peach and pink petals
unfolding until fall.
Maple and crabapple trees transform themselves,
dark orange and darker red, 
their leaves dry and twist in the wind,
releasing a brisk and crisp hint
of coming cold.  
We watch the geese fly south,
taking a last turn around the pond,
nearly glazed with ice,
and winter returns.

Saturday, April 02, 2022

Poem a Day 2: Second Chance

Robert Brewer's suggested topic for the second day of A Poem a Day (PAD) Challenge is a doozy.  I can only share my poem, knowing it came from my first reaction to his prompt.

Second Chance

If I stumble, if I fall,
after all these years we've shared,
and now in our eighth decade,
would you give me a second chance?
I don't even have to ask.
Your morning smile says 'Yes!'
And yet doubt remains: for one day,
you will leave me.
Or I will leave you.
I really don't know how I would live without you.
That hard-won belief we'd meet again,
in a second life or heaven, doesn't hold true.
I only believe there is a beginning
and an end.
For now, the sun rises each  morning,
you smile, and I hope
to cherish each day.

Image by jplenio on Pixabay

Friday, April 01, 2022

Poem a Day 1: Dreaming into Spring

Today marks the very first day of April. Last night, temperatures lurked near freezing, but on the way to the pond, we saw budding hyacinths, daffodils, and the first leaves of tulips pushing their way out of the ground.

Today also marks the beginning of the National Poetry Month with a challenge: To write a poem a day through the month of April. As we cautiously move past Covid restrictions, I'm not quite sure I'm ready. Perhaps this month will bring more haiku forms than longer verses, but that exercise each day of opening up to the possibility of a poem is intriguing. Writing poetry can be an act of reflection, of becoming more aware of what is around you and what is within. I shall begin. Will you join me?

Dreaming into Spring

Was winter this year and last 
so long that I could not remember 
the color of the pond 
underneath all that ice?
Even the sun seemed frozen in the sky.
Time stopped, as I counted the days
into weeks, hoping that routine would ease
our self-imposed isolation.

Now masks off, like the first flowers of spring,
long dormant, we stick out our heads, 
wrinkle our noses, and sniff in all directions,
celebrating anew old friends and old places revisited,
exploring what once carried such risk. 
Yesterday, we simply stayed at home. 
Today and tomorrow, all the tomorrows ahead,
we dream of possibility. 

Check out resources for National Poetry Month at the Academy of American Poets. Join Robert Brewer, of Writer's Digest, and learn more about his poetry challenge (PAD poem-a-day!) by going HERE or to discover his Day 1 poetry prompt, go HERE.  Explore and share your poems! Spring is nearly here.

Seagrass from Pixabay