Poetry Marathon

On Saturday evening, night and Sunday during the day, I participated in The Poetry Marathon. It began at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time, 4:00 p.m. Arabia Standard Time. I tried to write at least 24 poems in 24 hours. I inadvertently started cheating by writing my poems early. I had read that you could take a break to sleep, so I began working ahead. However, that is a no-no, so I redid Hours 9-12. As a result, I learned some things about the Poetry Marathon and ended up writing 28 poems in 24 hours.

Here are my rough-draft, sleep-deprived poems.

#24 Tanaga to Close

My journey began and ended with a tanaga.

Home is becoming unstuck
Looking forward to awestruck
Sweet-hope home is through the door
Not “place”, but love we adore

#23 Grandma’s Blessings

Blessings for these things:
the prayers you prayed for me,
the Mad Magazines you bought for me,
the freedom to explore anywhere,
the macaroni and cheese, please, that
had a pound of cheese any kind
a stick of butter
2 cups of bread crumbs
4 cups of milk
a dribble of oil and some flour
all in a package of macaroni
a mess thrown into the oven
a push toward early cardiac death,
but we were drowned in cheesy goodness.

Inspired by cheese and Jay Parini’s “Blessings”

#22 Wake Up

the visible becomes light
Awake, O sleeper,
Arise from the dead
and Christ will shine on you.”

Wake yourself,
you who have drunk from
the hand of the LORD
the bowl
the cup of staggering.

Awake, awake,
put on your strength
for no more shall come in the unclean

Arise, your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD
the sun of righteousness
has risen upon you.
with healing in its wings.

Wake from sleep.
For salvation is nearer to us now
than when we first believed.

A found poem based on these Bible verses: Ephesians 5:14; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 52:1; Isaiah 60:1; Malachi 4:2; and Romans 13:11.

#21 An Ode to My Spice Cabinet

My spice cabinet, filled to the brim with sweet and savory magic, you are a wonder.

The grinder and you have taught me to make my own masalas–chai, garam, Arab and Chinese five-spice. You open doors of the possible and make my cooking soar to summits I never knew possible.

You give me confidence to measure by the spoonful. Not the wimpy sprinkling of my past cooking life, the bland life I had before I came to know you.

Occasionally one of your mismatched recycled jars escapes when nudged too far. If it’s plastic it will bounce delighted across the floor; if glass, it goes out with gusto and flair–filling the kitchen with aromatic joy for a day or two.

Thank you, spice cabinet, for filling my world with color, aroma, flavor, and beauty.

Wow, be sure to read this beautiful Ode to Shea Butter by Angel Nafis.

#20 Outside

It’s an oven outside
The air mostly hot, still,
what you might expect
at noon near the summer
solstice on a desert island.
Onions are frying in ghee
for someone’s lunch,
making my mouth water.
I notice the oleander,
nature’s poison,
wondering again why they are
so widely used for landscaping
in family gardens here.

I wanted to sit and observe nature.
Shade was not to be found, though, so
I kept walking and went to school
to pick up a letter of recommendation
our departing principal had readied for me.
I sat outside after, enjoying some welcome
shade–the first I had seen.
I read the letter. Along with a lot of
Denise’s there was also one Angela tucked in,
a stray from a previous letter, cut-and-pasted.
I returned it to the secretary. She’ll get it fixed.

The birds seemed to be enjoying the shade
of the jasmine tree and delighting in the promise
of the fruit-laden palms.

#19 A Self Portrait

After Adam Zagajewski’s Self Portrait – I used a skeleton of his poem.

Between my cell phone, the kitchen, and my love seat
half my day passes. It is well past half a century.
I live in a land where Arabic is the language of
music and the streets.
I listen to the language’s sing song rhythms, even though
I only catch an occasional meaning in the volley around me.
I see two sides battling for my inner life.
I read stories about faith and hope and life and love and I am nurtured.
I like to write poems and letters and blog posts that no one reads.
Beside me is my partner, faithful and true.
I’m no longer able to make my mark here, but I have passed the torch
and I am content and at peace.
I like a listening ear
and spicy milk tea.
Sometimes at the sea, the miniscule waves speak to me and I am comforted.
I love working with children as they learn, create, and find their voices.
Every Friday I eat baked salmon and have a day of rest.
I am not unaware of my privilege.

I’m truly not a child of the moon,
of which Mick Jagger sang,
but a child of the Son,
and not all the plans God has for me
are met in this life that—so far—
still belongs to me.

My country freed itself from one evil. I wish
another liberation would follow.
Could I help in this? I don’t know.

~Adam Zagajewski


#18 Just Be Still, and Listen…

Image by Shloka Shankar

Come, sit here with me awhile.
No need to speak, little one.
No rush. Listen to the hush.
I have stories true to tell.

#17 Safer With Books

He read the whole plan in a book

He intended to ease himself into the water at midnight

No one would have to know or blame themselves

They would spend time looking

but the plan was perfection

marked with science,

enzymes and bacteria

He loved readying the arrangements

His body would never be found

It worked perfectly for the antagonist,

and he’d been planning it for weeks,

There were no missing links from the

author’s description

for this painless goodbye.

He had always assumed he was safer with his books,

But that night, they were waiting for him on the bridge,

And he finally realized it wasn’t true that books

are safer than people.

He let them carry him home.

“Books were safer than other people anyway.”  – Neil Gaiman

#16 The Sound of Tea After a Wakeful Night of Poetry

Glug, glug, glug

the water fills the mug.

Swoosh, splash, plop,

hubby pours it in the top.

Hum, rattle against the metal.

boils the soon-to-be tea in the kettle.

Gurgle, bubble, ease,

Poured gently over the leaves.

“Tea, my queen?”

he says with a bow and caffeine

#15 Yes

Yes, is such a hope-filled word

I wish I had said Yes to Brant

when he was tangled in

the emotions of being an

8-year-old from a broken family.

Yes, to being the kind of teacher

that gave him permission to be

“naughty” (whatever that means)

Yes, to a memory of him not

shaking his head no.

#14 Imaginary Children

I remember
Blossom who kept me company when Dad was angry
she sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” lazily and merrily
and tried not to be scared, so I could be brave

I remember
taking Blossom with me to kindergarten that first day
when I had to leave my twin baby brothers
wondering if anyone would remember to give them bottles

I remember
when Blossom refused to raise her hand for the bathroom
so she wet her pants and I covered for her
embarrassed for a moment that I had a friend like her

I remember
when a new girl at school wet her pants
I asked her if she wanted to play at recess
I think that was Blossom’s last day

#13 Haiku

Rainbow-skinned orange

Slice painted on the cloudy

Canvas, full of hope

#12 Redo

I read of a call for poems about World Food Day with inspiring, forward-looking messages against hunger. You can read more about it on Laura Shoven’s blog if you are interested. I’m drafting a poem here for the Poetry Marathon.

Quivering, savage, ravaging pain
Intolerable, mean, and fierce
Hunger hollowing inside–
But a just full world can
drive off hunger’s pangs
Honest eating
to recharge;

#12 I Am Metaphor Poem

This poem is inspired by one by Stacey Joy on the Ethical ELA Open Write last week. She wrote a lovely I Am poem based on metaphors about herself.

I am the cooing pigeon
Gentle and humble

I am the yip-howling coyote
Stealthy yet bold

I am the full fruit bowl
Sweet and giving

I am secure blue and sequin
Color of sand and sea

I am a door to home
Open and inviting

I am Solomon
Wise and open

I am a member of the upside down kingdom
Where love, justice and forgiveness win

#11 Redo

Image by Gidon Pico from Pixabay

so much depends upon
the rock pile skyscraper
against the
periwinkle sky
spread with
streaks of sourdough
cloud formations
and, of course,
that sunrise,
always a sunrise of good hope

First line taken from William Carlos Williams ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’. Prompt – Use at least five of these words/phrases:  Forest Ranger, Skyscaper, Periwinkle, sourdough, Cloud, needle, gumboots, beat, spread, storefront)

#11 Twenty Questions

This prompt came from one of my favorite teacher-poets, Allison Berryhill. It’s called Twenty Questions.

Twenty Questions

What if I would have been a seeker of justice my whole life long?
What if I didn’t punch Sharon S. in the nose?
What if I didn’t chase Mark B. around the playground and call him Hole in the Heart?
What if I would have been the nice girl instead of the scared mean girl?
Would I have had more friends? Less friends?
What if Jesus wouldn’t have saved me from myself?
What if he didn’t forgive me?
What if I never forgive myself?
What if I had said yes the first time Keith asked me to marry him?
Would we be divorced now?
What if I had got that National Geographic internship, instead of the “indeed, you were a finalist” letter? Would Keith have waited for me?
What if I had learned to speak Spanish those few times that I toyed with trying?
What if I didn’t try to make my kids eat?
What if I would have made time when I thought I didn’t have time?
What if I could do things differently? Would I?
What if I could be better? Would I?
Did I already ask that?

#10 Redo

A Blitz About Counting

Count your chickens
Count your eggs
Eggs of potential
Eggs of hope
Hope in the future
Hope to grow a family
Family of freedom
Family of reconciling
Reconciling misunderstandings
Reconciling brokenness
Brokenness of thin skin
Brokenness of pride
Pride in perfection
Pride in knowing
Knowing what it takes
Knowing when to give
Give a bundle of tears
Give a lifetime of change
Change to become better
Change to be new
New not just what I do
New inside–who I am
Am I on the road?
Am I the only one?
One of these days
One of these ways
Ways of growing
Ways to shine
Shine in joy
Shine in the light
Light of His countenance
Light of His grace
Grace to carry on
Grace to be whole
Whole and complete
Whole newness restored
Restored to life
Restored to collaborate
Collaborate for teamwork
Collaborate for justice
Justice to count loss
Justice to count costs
Costs of delaying truth
Cost of sharing pain
Pain of a soured world
Pain of a shrouded grave
Grave that was overcome
Grave now full of life
Egg to chicken life
Hatred overcome

From “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
The Blitz form

#10 Fog

Photo by Jonathan Adams on Unsplash

The fog loves San Francisco.
It comes on tiny parachutes.

Each descends with a pint-sized
paratrooper, not nearly wet
enough to end the drought.
They are wiped away with
an open hand on the window.

Mentor text:


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

~Carl Sandburg

#9 Redo

The Dictionary.com word of the day for Saturday is paucity.

When something is lacking or
needing more
when there is only a bit
of any particular thing
a deficit of dimes for the coin collector,
a scarcity of snakes for the snake lover,
a shortage of shoes for your tired feet
a dearth of earths for the whole wide world–
then we can say there is a paucity of that thing.

Learn more about definito poems here by Heidi Mordhorst.

#9 Parks and Recreation

July is Parks and Recreation Month. Did you know Kwame Alexander is putting together a community poem about Parks and Recreation? Here is my draft:

Everything around you is
a plaything,
at the park
a magical, generous, glorious,
windowful, open stream of joy.

Sitting in the tunnels,
worn smooth from years of
children sliding, crawling, playing,
imagining, creating, resting inside
These concrete cylinders were painted in
bright primary colors–red, blue, yellow–
free, generous, worthwhile, relaxing,
Saved from an inelegant assignment of
stopping floods in a culvert somewhere.
Instead, they merrily, merrily
serve as playthings.
Everything around you is a plaything
at the park.

#8 Normal

Normal who throws going out to dinner
around like we never forgot
and asks, how’s it going?
who is ever changing
and wears different gear each season
who sometimes is busy every hour
and sometimes has nothing to do but overeat
until we finally can’t seem to recognize her
whose little eyes are clouded
and acts surprised that we don’t remember
who used to go on day after day
is finished
is she a hug and a handshake
or is she a mask and hand sanitizer?
is she justice and mercy
or is she fear and anger?
Normal is hiding in the closet
and hasn’t talked to me in years
she doesn’t live here now
will she ever move back
or is her time passed?

Inspired by Prompt for Hour 7 and Sandra Cisnero’s “Abuelito Who“.

#7 Elfchen

I learned about an Elfchen poem from Donnetta Norris this past week. Here is one about walking from the last hour’s prompt.

to find
all the hopes
promised in arriving ready

#6 Bathtime

I have a list of poems I wanted to try, so some of these are getting a workout for The Poetry Marathon. Here was a sweet poem from Buffy Silverman called “Rainbow-Colored Springtime.” She wrote this sweet rhythm with each line ending with time. There are six stanzas. Click the link to read the rest:

Red time
Green time
tiny on a tree time

I decided to use one of the photo prompts from earlier to write about taking a bath.

Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash

Wet bath
Free bath
Catch the best tunes bath

Rest bath
Calm bath
Soft and pruny toes bath

Soft bath
Peace bath
Lolling, lazy lounge bath

Release bath
Embrace bath
Tensions down the drain bath

#5 Scary Poem

Oh my goodness. It is only 7:00 p.m. here, but I’m already slap happy. I just grabbed a scary book off the shelf and will use the last line. Here goes nothing…

No Witnesses

It was the first time the roof of the
emerald convertible had ever been opened.
They were honeymooners and
borrowed the car from a temperate old uncle.
They wanted the full experience.
The roof folded back with one magical click
of a button on the dash.

They rode carelessly,
happily down Highway 1
toward Big Sur,
feeling the breeze in their hair
Eating their favorite
Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and roasted almonds
laughing at each other’s jokes,
like they were the best comedians,
thinking they were each the luckiest
person alive.

They both agreed when
they saw the stranded motorist.
They had time to help.
Maybe he needs a charge.
Yeah, for his phone or his car.
We can enjoy the view over the cliff
while we’re at it.

Hello, can we help?

The man leaning into the VW bus
stood up quickly and said,
Nah. Everything’s fine.

Really, we’ve got all day.
We can help. It’s kind of deserted out here.

Nah, I’m good.

The happy couple
got out of the car
and walked over to the bus.
The man tried to slide the door closed,
but the bloody arm slipped out
just before the door latched.

Oh, sir. I’m sure she needs help.
May we call the doctor?

It didn’t take long to deal with the
naïve and nosy couple.

This time, there would be no witnesses.

My last line was the last line in Lies of Silence by Brian Moore

#4 Zentangle

On Friday, I read a lot of Zentangle poems. A zentangle poem is a blackout or erasure poem, a sort of found poem with designs made on the unused portions, instead of just blacking out the extra words. Read more about it on this post from Kat Apel. I have spent some time each of the first few hours of the Marathon on my first Zentangle poem.

The Poem:


After, write a chapter,
words and lines use summary.
Words describing a story,
a visual, a communicator
ready to ready thinking,
parroting powers of description
in writing.

It doesn’t mean much, haha! It was from a page in a booklet of After Reading Comprehension Activities I put together for my undergrad education students one year.

#3 Pantoum

These hours are flying by
How can we get anything else done?
Will I really stay up all night
Writing poems each hour?

How can we get anything else done?
Cooking, eating, outings–they warned me
Writing poems each hour
Will more than fill my day!

Cooking, eating, outings–they warned me
No time for these things today
Will more than fill my day
With The Poetry Marathon

No time for these things today
But thank you, Jacob Jans
With The Poetry Marathon
Your gift of love to Caitlin helps me

But thank you, Jacob Jans
For hosting us in this challenge
Your gift of love to Caitlin helps me
Write and persevere today

For hosting us in this challenge
Rhymes, meter, word choice, more
Write and persevere today
Looking forward to success

Rhymes, meter, word choice, more
These hours are flying by
Looking forward to success
Will I really stay up all night?

#2 The Deep

Photo by Luke Thornton on Unsplash

Brilliant reflections
Sunrise on the soul of the Deep
What will protect the sea?
The soul of the Deep
when all that is left
are marine research venues
with beautiful architecture
“the world’s only submarium” the fliers say
The soul of the Deep
is surely more than seven shark types
among the thousands of other sea creatures
More than two and a half million
litres of water and 87 tonnes of salt…
read the reflection in the mirror
Who will protect the sea?

Source: The Deep (aquarium) Wikipedia article

#1 Tanaga to Start

Twenty-four in twenty-four

Can we do it? Wait and see!

Through the lyric diction door

Go trekking each hour! Agree?


2 thoughts on “Poetry Marathon

  1. WOW!!!
    Congrats on 24 (28) in 24 hours!
    What a great writing exercise. And lovely poems now exist because of your focused full day. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Sally! I will be curious to go back and read the poems later, after waking up! I’m not sure there is much loveliness factor, but it was fun.

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