Poetry Friday – Musical Musings

Today is Poetry Friday and Tracey is our delightful host who has cooked up a thought-provoking post about inspiration.

My husband is the best playlist creator, and we’ve had a winner for this road trip. Today, as he drove, I pondered some of the sweet tunes I was listening to. I was feeling contemplative about my children, the mistakes I’ve made along the way in this life, and my lifelong commitment to love and hope. I chose lines from two of the songs and wrote this double golden shovel about my thoughts.

I’ll not give up, for I’ll pray and
carry hope for us–Hope of sunny yellow.
You will continue to draw your lines
home whatever that is like, and
tonight may finally be when we all tire.
We will still make our tentative marks.
Are there enough remaining days of sun:
Young– and old-kissed?
So, to be true in our skin
let’s no longer hide ourselves and
set impossible ideals to handle
the pain and fears, the prison bars,
world-wide eternal collisions and
on and on and on where
fire once burned our resolve and I
We came there and firmly stood.
Can there still be hope where fear was?
Burn the clouds to where
Brighter days will surprise us. More I
Than. More you than. Starting was
the culmination of longing, to
sun shining and all of us free to be.

Striking lines:
Lyric from “We Are Young” by Fun: “I’ll carry you home tonight. We are young, so let’s set the world on fire. We can burn brighter than the sun.”
Lyric from “Once Upon Another Time” by Sara Bareilles: “And yellow lines and tire marks, sun-kissed skin and handle bars, and where I stood was where I was to be.”

Now, if you’d like, please  join me for a few moments on this musical road trip. The first song is by Sara Bareilles, “Once Upon Another Time.” I find it so hauntingly beautiful to listen to, and then to watch her sing it at the Kennedy Center, surrounded by all the gentle and mostly quiet musicians is mesmerizing.

The second song was “We are Young” by Fun. (Have you seen this fun scene from the movie Home Team? Harlan and his team mates sing “We are Young” to the girl he likes.)

Slice of Life – A Road Trip Abecedarian

4 June 2024 TwoWritingTeachers.org

Our road trip is winding down. After a lovely two-week trip of fresh fields and leaping streams, we’re on the road home today. I came to share a trinet poem by my daughter about the beautiful Tumalo Falls near Bend, Oregon, and an abecedarian grid that we all contributed to.

Powerful melt
Loud, strong
Solid snow turned to dangerous flow
White noise background music for hiking
Wild, crisp
Tumalo Falls

By Katie

A Road Trip Abecedarian Grid

Applegate River

Banana slugs and Bend and Birthday party

Crater Lake and Corkscrew tree

Deschutes River and Dudley’s Book Store


Fried Egg I’m in Love

Golden Mantle Squirrel and Gelato

High Desert Museum and Haystack Rock

Ice cream and ice and snow

Jacksonville, Oregon

Kinney Creek

McKee Bridge

Lava Beds

Mariners, Milo and many Mountains

Newberry Volcanic National Monument

Ocean on the Oregon coastline

Portland and Pilot Butte and Pike’s Place Market


Quality time together

Rhododendrons, Redwoods and Raptors

Sourdough and Co. and Seattle

Tov Egyptian Coffee, Tent Caterpillars and Tumalo Falls



Unbelievable sites & Umpqua National Forest

Views and vistas

Waterfalls and winding roads, Water Taxi to West Seattle,
Winning weather
eXcellent company

Yarn bombed tree in Bend

Zoological wonders and zigzagging wind surfer


Poetry Friday – On the Road Poems

Today is Poetry Friday. Janice Scully at Salt City Verse is hosting us today, patiently waiting for her flowers, as well as some gems from Picture Perfect Poetry. 

Newberry Volcanic National Monument

This week I’ve been on the road with my husband, my younger daughter, and her husband. We are seeing so many wonders and beauties of nature.

There was at least one bit of nature that wasn’t so beautiful, though. The western tent caterpillar. We had spent the afternoon hiking around the Newberry Volcanic National Monument, where the caterpillars of the western tent moth were ubiquitous. They begin to wrap themselves up in community tents when they first hatch into a 1/8 inch caterpillar, their first of seven moltings. We learned more details about the moth from the ranger–that they are a nuisance more than a destroyer, moths live their whole adult life in four days, they have many attackers–parasites and predators–and most larvae don’t make it to adulthood. We were grossed out by seeing them along the trails. We even continued to see them as we drove down the highways.
So far on our trip, when we get back to the car after seeing something amazing, I have been asking my family to give me words to describe what we saw. When we got into the car this time, I asked them to give me words–but not about the beauty of the glaciers and volcanic mountains in the distance or the otherworldly, gigantic lava beds we were hiking through. Instead, I asked for words to describe the western tent moth larva that had just been revolting us. Here’s what they said:

*Western Tent Moth Larva* • driven • brevity of life • deadlines • developing • independent • target on its back • prolific • stanky • ambitious • instinctual • clustered • crowded • squiggly • squirmy • restless • busy • unsettling • unsettled • paranoid • pre-metamorphosis • web of busyness • time is short • colorful

That night I suggested, “I have a bedtime activity. Let’s each write a haiku about the tent moth caterpillar.” I sent them the words and photos in our WhatsApp group. They are such good sports; everyone wrote their own haiku and shared it:
Katie: Unsettling cluster Brevity of life, thank God Stanky little worms Thomas: You know what I think What is more stank than one worm A million worms Keith: Brevity of life Restless merging into prolific Life is too driven Denise: Clustered web of larvae Instinctual ambition Time is short, slow down

Then the next morning, I finished up the collection of Jack Gilbert poems I’ve been reading. I came to a poem called, “The Sixth Meditation: Faces of God.” Jack Gilbert speaks of all of creation being made in the image of God–“rocks and galaxies, mathematics and rust” “slugs and grubs, nematodes…” And “Tent caterpillars, high in the trees, swarm out from their offensive shrouds to eat the green luxury bare.” What imagery!

I definitely prefer Genesis 1:27’s version, though, that says it’s humans who have been made in the image of God, not all those other stanky creatures.

"tent caterpillars, high in the trees, swarm out from their offensive shrouds to eat the green luxury bare" By Jack Gilbert

Slice of Life on our Road Trip

28 May 2024 TwoWritingTeachers.org


Newberry Volcanic National Monument

Greetings from Oregon, from where today’s slice is served up. I’m on a road trip with two of my kids on the way to see our other kids. We’re having a blessed and beautiful time.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in California

After visiting a place of wonder, I ask them all to give me words for my next poem. I list them while they brainstorm, and then I use their words and compose them into a poem. I  managed to use all their words (plus some of mine) in the following two poems.

Corkscrew Tree

Shivering in the misty morning
strolling across the padded floor,
forest filled light and shadow
variations on jade,
kelly, lime, mint, greens
ever alive
ever green
redwood giants
like the Corkscrew Tree
endearing, enduring
we stood in its ancient heart–
in gnarly cavernous silence
witnessing this glorious fine day

double nonet

Corkscrew Tree

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

The deepest blue
snowy, slippery edge
a treacherous fall
waiting at the cliff
into the
lake of the depths
the wizard’s hat
rises from the lake
to greet the nations
coming together
to behold the wonder

Many people oohing and ahhing in many languages

Poetry Friday – Will you teach me to write poetry?

Today is Poetry Friday. A happy birthday to all the May birthdays, including Michelle Kogan, who is hosting today.

Today we began a road trip. We’re meeting up with one of my daughters and her hubby. We’ll take the long road to Seattle to visit my other daughter (one of those May birthday folk) and her family. On the way up, I was playing poetry-writing-catch-up from the last couple of days. My husband asked me a bit about what I was doing, and then said, “Will you teach me to write poetry?” Yes! That’s easy, I said, Just keep doing what you are doing. 

He is such a good contemplator, muller of ideas, and feeler. He takes daily time to write, and when he shares with me, I always love how poetic it sounds. Next he asked to have me teach him some forms to try. I said, Of course. That’s a great idea. You’ll like forms. It’s like word games only better because you get to also create something. 

Then I shared my sibling poems with him to show what forms I’ve been working on. I’m looking forward to this vacation and some shared poetry experiences with my love. I hope he’ll let me publish one of his on my blog in the future. That’s my goal.

Here is a fun opportunity, I wanted to remind you about. The Poetry Marathon is coming up! Write a poem an hour for 12 or 24 hours. It starts Saturday morning, June 15. Sign up here by June 10.

Image by Maria Zangone from Pixabay

Slice of Life – Losing and Finding

May 21, 2024 TwoWritingTeachers.org

I’ve missed the last few Tuesdays. There is a lot I would have been writing had I been here. First and most significantly, my older sister, Judi, died at the end of April. She wasn’t sick, but she just didn’t wake up that last Sunday morning. It’s been a month to think about her and my other siblings, about death and life. Next, I have been in the midst of our final home remodeling projects, new bedroom and bathroom flooring and new closet space in our bedroom.

In honor of Judi and all my siblings, I’ve been writing poems inspired by my siblings for the month of May. On Sunday morning, I sat on the back porch and felt like I was going to church with the birds, reptiles, and mammals that surrounded me. Chipmunks and squirrels scurried about grabbing dropped bird seed. The majestic jackrabbit sauntered in before darting off. The quail, seemed so anxious for their bevies to fill with the first hatching of summer. Lizards did pushups in the sunshine. Finches, thrashers, jays, and doves all shared the bird feeder together. While I sat in this nature church, I wrote a poem using a line from a Jack Gilbert poem.

We watch the quail as they
are ready for the first hatching.
Gleaners gathering seeds and also us
who watch them, noticing their
fill of the allurement of
the living. No need for a
barn or coop to raise their young.
For the green light of
the fragments of consequence, we
winter-on through loss and ends.
That is why what
comes next is all a gift
on this mystic mansion of creation.

A golden shovel from Jack Gilbert‘s poem “Moreover” with this striking line: “We are gleaners who fill the barn for the winter that comes on.”

Poetry Friday – Clunker Exchange Poem “Unchained”

It’s Poetry Friday, and Patricia at Reverie is hosting. She has a sweet poem about one of the sugar pine seedlings she planted in the forest. Thank you, Patricia, for your lovely invitation to new and old Poetry Friday people.  

Here is my clunker poem, thanks to Linda. As soon as I saw her list of clunkers, this line jumped out at me: “only sure of light pushing her brush.” I thought of this painting my mom made when I was in college. It has always held mysteries and some answers for me about my mom and dad’s relationship. She did tell me the dark square represented my dad’s death. (He died when I was seven.)


She was unsure
before her partner
of the double chain broke
She didn’t put the darkness
into many words
only into paint
only into life and love
only sure of light pushing her brush
ever upwards

And here’s a golden shovel with the favorite part of Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day” poem I shared on Jone’s blog last week:

I am here today and I
don’t know when I will go.
Know this: I am
exactly in the time and place of
what is graced in
a full and favorable life. A
prayer is what I give, a prayer
is an upward awe-gaze.
I am here today to rest and
do nothing better than to
know, really know, God is
how I have peace
to live the days left, to
pay homage in rapt

Sibling poems, one line, more or less (continued).

The Poetry Marathon is coming up! Write a poem an hour for 12 or 24 hours. It starts Saturday morning, June 15. Sign up here.

Finally, have you heard of Jessica Jacobs and Peter Metres? They each published a book of poetry with almost the same cover. When they learned of the other’s book cover, they started a conversation and realized they and their books had a lot more in common than just their covers. I’ve ordered both of their books after reading and watching their conversations.

Poetry Friday – Jack Gilbert

Today is Poetry Friday and Linda is hosting. She shares a whole list of clunkers in her annual clunker exchange. 

Jack Gilbert once said, “I’m not a professional of poetry, I’m a farmer of poetry.” I liked that. He could have been a popular professional poet, but he eschewed the limelight. Read more about his life here.

I am reading his collected poems right now, and I especially like his poems about love and loss. The ones about his wife, Michiko, who died in her thirties, are especially poignant.


I never thought Michiko would come back
after she died. But if she did, I knew
it would be as a lady in a long white dress.
It is strange that she has returned
as somebody’s dalmatian.

read the rest here

Another thing I like about Gilbert’s poetry is his well-developed sense of place when writing of a European city, a Greek island or the steel city of his youth, Pittsburgh. Last month, I wrote about Gilbert and Pittsburgh in this prompt by Wendy Everard called Inspirational Places.

My family in Pittsburgh, 2007

Pittsburgh’s in Jack Gilbert
by Denise Krebs

As we rode Duquesne Incline,
he already was old, living in Berkeley. Steel City
watches over the growing of knowing,
for heirlooms of progeny. But this
morning, the three rivers backdrop
for thunderstorms, Andy Warhol and
the bridges of a city bring light to our
dark, pathways of connections.
To this city we came just to
give our kids a taste of Primati Bros.
(way too much cole slaw for my taste),
and the Pirates, and Randyland, a
show of hue saturation and celebration.
His hometown was the
landfall of his view from Paris,
the eye of his childhood, always
new. As each of us have our own past, in city or
country, we are products of our nurturing.
His lifetime weaving carried the thread of his
native city, coloring the world, his poetry with
land-roots of comfort and claiming.

This golden shovel striking line is “As he watches for morning, for the dark to give way and show his landfall, the new country, his native land.” By Jack Gilbert in “Looking at Pittsburgh from Paris”.

Here are a few of the many lines he wrote that include Pittsburgh:

  • Even Pittsburgh will vanish, leaving a greed tough as winter. (“They Will Put My Body into the Ground”)
  • It was Pittsburgh that lasted. The iron and fog and sooty brick houses. (“The Spirit and the Soul”)
  • Whisper Pittsburgh with my mouth against the tiny ear and throw him higher. Pittsburgh and happiness high up. (“Trying to Have Something Left Over”)
  • So that all his life her son would feel gladness unaccountably when anyone spoke of the ruined city of steel in America. Each time almost remembering something maybe important that got lost. (“Trying to Have Something Left Over”)
  • The Pittsburgh lamps inside of him make it look maybe not good enough (“Carrying Torches at Noon”)
  • Smell of Pittsburgh after rain. Smell of winter steel and grease… (“Threshing the Fire”)
  • Is it because Pittsburgh is still tangled in him that he has the picture on his wall of God’s head torn about by jungle roots? (“A Taste for Grit and Whatever”)

See what I mean?

My May poems about my siblings continue here.