Slice of Life – Poetry and Family Times

18 June 2024 TwoWritingTeachers.org

This weekend was busy. First, we had the delight of seeing a niece and her family on Saturday and Sunday, but it was a quick trip for their family through our town. Saturday also happened to be the Poetry Marathon. Two wonderful events in one weekend!

I got behind and didn’t give the Marathon my all, but I did manage to write 24 poems in 24 hours. The best part, though, was seeing my niece. We had a chance to talk about family history and then some family dynamics that are painful to live with and hard to understand this side of heaven. It was a blessed time to connect.

This weekend also began this month’s OpenWrite. It’s still going Tuesday and Wednesday. Maybe you’d like to join us.

Wednesday, 19 June 2024, with Jessica Wiley

Quiet
Collected Poems
Illuminate
Louder than Hunger
Chaotic Thinking
Be a Maker
The Hurting Kind
The Carrying
The Fire Next Time
Big Magic

Tuesday, 18 June 2024, with Anna Small Roseboro

Let’s Be Better
 
Recalling the
Umbrage with which you
Make known your faith:
Is God so angry and
No longer willing to confer?
A just, loving God
Transferred all
Infallibility to
Only you? No, I think you do
Not really believe that either.

Recent ruminations have
Explored my
Capacity for holding the
Knowledge of the raggedness
Of our fear to take up trauma.
Nevertheless,
can do hard things.”
Now I choose to take the risk to
Grapple with those fears.

Monday, 17 June 2024, with Susan Ahlbrand

She
was not
the one I
would have thought would
go to dental school.
Sure, she worked hard as a
junior higher, stayed after
class, tried to retain toilsome
details. This month she graduated.
She’s Dr. S. (Of course, I should have known.)

Sunday, 16 June 2024, with Margaret Simon

Duplex for the Coyote Howling Nearby

What has hurt you so this evening
That you shout so raucously?

You shout so raucously
Is your baby safe?

Your coyote pup–is it okay?
You had been quiet lately

You had been so quiet lately,
But tonight your mournful bark

Tonight, your mournful bark
Makes me sad and lonely too.

Sad and lonely is passed on to me
As you scream your yip yapping elegy.

Is it an elegy you yipyap scream?
This evening that hurts with you.

Saturday, 15 June 2024, with Sarah Donovan

These poets
are the impetus of identity
the providers of peace
in knowing myself
loving myself
more honestly
the seekers of truth
in finding my way
in the world as it
really is and not just
as I always knew it

These poems
are the tingling fingers
of an adventurous
and risky
ascent
into
knowing

These interactions
are the honeyed
story
of
life

Poetry Marathon 2024

June 15, 2024

Hour 1

After the surgery, I woke up
feeling fine, but I wondered
why I didn’t feel anything in
my knee. Did they give me
pain pills? I thought they
weren’t going to because
of the baby. But my knee
didn’t even have a bandage.

The nurse came in, taking
my vitals, quiet.

I spoke first, shouted really,
“Where is the bandage on my
knee?” Your knee?
“My knee!” I threw off the
bedsheet and showed her
the Sharpied X on my right
knee. Let me get the doctor
for you.

In the hallway, fierce whispers
and silenced gasps, but I
made out the one word
that mattered, Abortion.

 

Hour 2

We have lost our way again
We’re not on Route 66
any longer. Only dirt.

The impetus for this road
trip to hell? The Grapes of Wrath
My dad’s favorite novel

I was a kid when it raged
onto the best seller list.
My dad wanted to feel it.

So we drove from home toward
California. Now we keep
getting lost along the way

Because he takes every one
of the diversions that come
along the Route. Wait, what’s that?

My dad has pulled something out
of his pocket. A mirror?
A shiny, but black mirror?

There’s a button on the side.
He pushes it and bright light
floods the mirror. “Hey, Google?”

 

Hour 3

These poets
are the impetus of identity
the providers of peace
in knowing myself
loving myself better
and in finding the truth
about the world as it
really is and not just
as I know it

These poems
are the tingling fingers
of an adventurous and risky
ascent into knowing

These interactions
are the honeyed
story of life

 

Hour 4

We live off a T-Circle. Turn right
at the mailboxes, then left after
the electric box. Go until you get
to the house. Beep the horn and
I’ll come on out.

Today the road is clearly marked
Hamilton Road–
that’s what Grandpa always called it,
after his own family name.
When the sign posting division
of the County came by and asked,
we told them the road’s name.

 

Hour 5

The Dress Aunt Thelma Made Me for the Beginning of My Sophomore Year

This: a new way to express
myself in high school. Address
the tomboy–wear a dress.

It had been a minute, yes.
I was ready to impress
A new hairdo and fresh dress.

Aunt Thelma, her steady bless
of me, took my fear and mess
And stitched for me a dress.

A new chapter, to assess
what end hair and a brace-less
smile could have on me, your guess

But this dress! I was princess
No fame, just her love accessed

 

Hour 6

I’m climbing into that ginkgo-
reflected car hood, climbing
that tree of my youth and my
children’s childhood.

As I climb, I tie all the loose
ends together—the places
we have loved and left and
moved again to love anew.

Some yards grew ginkgoes,
and some, only cactuses.

If I could go into that heaven
and stitch together the memories—
home would become one, and we
wouldn’t feel homesick again.

Hour 7

Flying breezily is not the description for this swan. This swan is melancholy and woeful and yet full of peace and harmony. Peace, peace to all who enter in. There is joy and hope and everlasting consolation in the things left undone, the things one has broken and left the pieces unclaimed. A future of neverending growth and renewal.

Hour 8

Family

For every chapter of our lives–

All the heart- and mind-breaking

Mistakes made–and yet you and

I remain together and that

Leaves me believing again that

Yesterdays remain into the future

 

Hour 9

Thank you for the waterfalls.

Thank you for the bike crash falls

where I escaped with only a bruise.

Thank you for the babies.

Thank you for not getting rabies

When the dog bit me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

Hour 10

In the shadows of the high rise,

The old mill rests its bones after

A century of carrying

the employment load

of the growing county.

It’s earned a greening

rest now in the hollow.

The high rise will

takes its turn.

Hour 11

“The tall, majestic redwoods standing high above the ground
Hundreds of years of living, never making a sound”
That’s what she wrote in high school.
And now she knows these trees do make sounds–
Sounds of splintering and cracking in icy winds
And sounds of crying out for their lives.
Crying out for us to do something
To do something to reverse
The global climate catastrophe
We have created.

 

Hour 12

Use 5 or more of these words: Wave, Sneakers, Yell, Stew, Linger, Ginkgo, Soft, Math, Sliver, Magazine

So much depends upon

The soft lingering touch

Of the ginkgo leaf

In your hand as it

Brushes my cheek

And the sliver of

Coconut cake we eat

On the back porch

after we have our fill of your

homemade chicken stew

 

Hour 13

Oxymorons

Sweet sorrow

Juicy bone

CatDog borrows

Only choice

Genuine fake

Loyal opponent

Controlled chaos

Random order

Silent scream

Quiet roar 

 

Hour 14

You can dance,
Watch the lights out
they play
You come to look for anybody
the music’s everything fine
mood for a dance
get the chance
You can dance,
Feel the beat 
Oh, yeah
Having the time
of your life
Dancing

Found poem from Abba’s “Dancing Queen”

 

Hour 15

Satisfaction is knowing life
And contentment with
The gifts of this world.
I have always been easy to
Satisfy. I can
Fill my cup with gladness
And joy and still have a
Cup full to give away,
Tonight the moon
Is half full and highlights
Orion’s belt. The wind blows
Northeasterly and all is well.

 

Hour 16

I just answered this question from my niece at dinner.
She wondered how and why so many of our family
Ended up in the desert of California. “Your great
Grandfather started it. After WWI and mustard gas,
He was advised to come to the desert.” We went on,
Telling how others in that generation came–her great-
great uncles and aunts. Then two more generations,
Joined them. Now there are two more generations
who have been born and raised/being raised here.
We didn’t discuss who the land originally belonged
To before Grandpa homesteaded it, but that should be
Our next discussion. 

 

Hour 17

These breezes are delicious
And cool the sweat on my neck
As we climb the summit

These wildflowers are gentle
And rainbowful of fragile petals
Promise we’ll reach the summit

These bottles are quenching
Hydrating each cell to help us
Reach the summit

These feet are strong
And walked all the miles
To enjoy the summit

Hour 18

We cut the wall out
between the living room
and the kitchen.
We left the small, dark
space back
where it came from.
We opened a window
into family gatherings,
laughter, listening,
rubbing elbows
with our guests
as they sit at the bar
and visit while we
finish preparing
the meal.

Hour 19

Their Eyes Were Watching God* 

(A Double tetractys)

Since

Early 

Time, their bent

Perspective grew

Until God became small enough to tame

So God said, wait a minute, let’s try that

Again, shall we?

God took care

Steady

Sure 

 

*From book title by Zora Neale Hurston

 

Hour 20

Home is where our hearts grow fonder
After four decades spent to wander
We settled back, the state of our birth
Came home to rest, our home of worth

 

Hour 21

Love of Tea
My sweet drink
Hot milky

Spicy cold
Green Matcha
Flavors bold

All the teas
Bring me joy
Tea of love

 

Hour 22

I fought the law
And the law won

I fought the sleep
And the sleep won

I fought the hunger
And the sleep won

I fought the poem
And the sleep won

 

 

Hour 23

Tender, Tender

My hope for you is to be
Tender, tender–strong
And tender. To be
all you are destined to be
All the good, for which you
were created can fill the
tender spots in you.
The strong and tender
spots, filled with you,
filled with love.
This is my dream for you.

 

Hour 24

Wishes

My wish for all of us is to
see more sunrises.
(And each morning we see one,
we get to wish for more wishes.)
Today I am awake at dawn
because this is Poem 24–
24 hours in a day of poeming.
Would I have missed this layered sky?
Yes, this sky! Where blue and
orange look so good together,
this sky was here so briefly
inviting us to drink it up.
It still would have come with
no witnesses at all. Any
other Sunday morning,
I would have missed it.
But this day, this poem
beholds the sunrise.
The birds are here too,
giving witness.
They just began their
Sunday morning
worship, rejoicing
together and alone.
My wish for you
and for me is to see
more sunrises–
together and alone.

 

 

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

Elk

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

 

May Poems – Siblings: One Line, More or Less

Today is Poetry Friday, and Buffy Silverman is hosting with photos and a three-act drama mask poem about a hognose snake. 

In May I’ll be writing daily poems about my siblings, one line, more or less. I came from a family of seven siblings. Now there are only four of us left. In 2012, my oldest brother died, then in 2018, my oldest sister died, and last Sunday, I lost another sister. All have died without warning or illness. Judi just went in her sleep, and I am so sad. I’m going to spend this month updating this post each day with another poem remembering and honoring my siblings.

This one line, more or less process was inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. See the description of her month-long one line, more or less poems here. and all her crow poems are here. Diane Anderson joined Amy’s challenge and wrote a daily poem about robins in April. Here are Diane’s poems at newtreemom.

I

Small house, six siblings, steady shenanigans


II

Five girls between boy bookends
Full house of playmate dividends

couplet


III

Rick, Lynne, Chris, Judi, Lori
Then came me, followed by Keith
Mom laughed with great joy (and fear)

septercet


IV

Additions came, each nephew/niece contained
great hope and sustenance. Years of joyful gain.
Now I ponder losses; the inescapable pain
as I accede to this birth-to-death rhythm ordained.

quatrain


V

Home
Sisters and brothers abound
grow, move away,
still love
Family

elfchen


VI

after all night shifts, she slept on the beach
we swam in the ocean; just
once I needed saving

my young lifesaver, wanting a reward,

(I guess) woke her up and told
the tale. “Thank you,” she said.

kimo


VII

flying east
following love
“Do you want a return ticket?
Just in case?” my surrogate father
asked me.
big brother
love stays.

trinet


VIII

Happy you
laughing through
thoughts of time
together
glad to claim
not so tame
share the name
bellwether

snam suad


IX

Statin talk after dinner of steak
makes us think about the soundness
of our arteries. Loved ones
gone too quickly remind
us of life’s risk here
on earth. Playing
Balderdash
distracts
us.

nonet


X

Sweet
eldest
sister, more
obligations
than one should endure.
Swimming upstream alone
surviving abuse, widowed,
raising boys alone, losing dreams,
abusing alcohol. Lifelong rise
up to recover for one more dear day.

etheree


XI

We’re dropping like flies,
we have been known to say
around here. My heart has sunk
into a deep wetland of tears and
sadness. Clearing the distant
memories, bridges between
earth and heaven. Thoughts of
you explode into this book
of your hidden life, endless
treasures of love continuing.
Your silent star shines.

Poetry Sparks


XII
Sisters and brothers love’s boon
Life together as one invite
Argue or delight?
Both were normal
No thought of the mournful
end of the seven of us quite
Sisters and brothers

We didn’t always play in tune
but the bond stayed tight
and all seemed right
wondered I of death immune
Sisters and brothers

Rondeau Prime


XIII

You Were Always My Favorite

  • You painted my fingernails
  • You taught me to read using Go Dog Go
  • You and Ken came to my softball games
  • You worked as a telephone operator
  • We had matching dresses once
  • You brought K.C. into our lives
  • Your daughter Amy’s middle name is Denise
  • I got your room when you got married
  • My daughter Maria’s middle name is Christine
  • You would have been my kids’ guardian if we died

When You Weren’t

  • I cut my foot and you said, “You better not have picked a scab.”
  • You hit my head with the bristles when you brushed my hair.
  • You wouldn’t accept that my use of “Hilary’s word” deplorable
    could be a legitimate criticism of your candidate’s actions.

List poem


XIV

Rick was the father I didn’t know
Wedding day he walked me down the aisle.
Lynne married young and bestowed
Gifts like a rich Santa Claus–that style!

Chris is a sister so frank and refreshing
Now lives in Pennsylvania Dutch country.
Judi was a quiet, deep, book-loving blessing
She loved and valued others so humbly.

Lori is now my neighbor and friend
skillfully helped us remodel our dwelling.
Keith is the one on whom we depend
Loves to travel, in family ties excelling.

Six siblings had always been there for me
Three remain–relish each other is my plea.

sonnet


XV

She was born
in Gaza–
tiny spit
of land in
Israel–
an at “home”
alien.
And I have
the birthright
to mourn the
loss of one
elder while
she loses
everything
everyone?


XVI

I remember just one family vacation
we took with my dad and mom and
six of us kids. (My older brother
was in the service, I think.)
We went to the Grand Canyon.
There were a few tiny
photographs of our trip:
Attending a pow wow.
Looking over the edge of the canyon.
Staying in a hotel with a pool.
Going out to a restaurant.
Then I remember I bought
two polished stones
at the gift shop.
When I was getting my hair brushed,
I dropped one and picked it up with my toes.


Where I start writing one less line each day…

XVII

My dad bought the little house
for my mom. Two bedrooms
in the suburbs. She wasn’t happy.
She had a son and two daughters
and one more on the way.
By the time I came along,
they had built another bedroom.
Eventually they pieced together
more bedrooms by transforming
the garage and laundry room
into two more. I remember a time
when all siblings were home
and rooms burst their seams.
As they married, we played musical
bedrooms, filling in the gaps.


XVIII

Pink sky morning brings chirping.
Warming liberates reptiles
emerging from winter cold.

Hope in this new day will stay.
Lifetime bow of family
ties up love like rose-tinged clouds.

Queue up the crescendo for
dulcet and devout playing
on this blooming day in May.

Life is a bouquet of kin
to rejuvenate the soul.

septercet sonnet


XIX

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.

golden shovel

From Jack Gilbert’s poem “Moreover” this striking line: “We are gleaners who fill the barn for the winter that comes on.”


XX

This journey is full and sweet
Thanks to those brothers and sisters
who shine in our life-creating, as
the abounding world glitters

stories of memory
stories of faith and joy
stories of unease
stories of safe convoys

We are finer for having had years–
years and days and moments
Together stronger, together better
Full with beloved proponents

Patrol Poem

XXI

In answer to your questions:

  1. Yes, thank you.
  2. Fine.
  3. Maybe.
  4. No, thank you.
  5. She’s doing great.
  6. His name is Randy.
  7. Thank you for saying yes.
  8. No.
  9. You know you left way too soon.
  10. We’re making it, but we miss you.

List poem  – (One time my brother wrote me a letter answering my questions with a numbered list of answers like this.)


XXII

Friend
Sister
neighborly
giving partner.
You have become my balm for homesickness.
Notice, as you restore memories, that
more awaits you
A healthy
future
hope

Double Tetractys


XXIII

So many
birthday feasts
through the years

All nieces
and nephews
celebrating

Life in this
family
Happy love

tricube


Siblings

I never doubted your care
Everyday living conveys
faithful love and repair
of failures and hurts
Six humans: no compare
You were there for me
with kind and witty flair
We were gifted a graced way
to hold and love and share

Magic 9


XXIV

Life is an obstinate investment
tended and nourished just so
in fidelity to hope’s assessment
Life is an obstinate investment
never subject to divestment
changes though ‘til time to go
Life is an obstinate investment
tended and nourished just so

triolet & Metaphor Dice


XXV 7

gift giver
birthday rememberer
Perfect book gift chooser for me
my whole life long. Continued with
my kids
then theirs

trinet

XXVI 

family and friends bring life and light
laughter, cooking, reminiscing night
fifty years, growing family bright
becomes future generations’ sight–
memories tucked away to fill the heart
with the thrill of love and hope done right

Hir a Thoddaid

XXVII

time is short, slow down
no need to speed up to fit
everything in now
more is not always better
be all-in while we have time

tanka

XXVIII
my May poems are soon done
I have grown closer to you
My dear sisters and brothers
June rest now, thank God

dodoitsu

XXIX

memories and joy
mingle with sadness each day
but gratitude wins

haiku

XXX

Rick, Lynne, Judi are now gone
Four remain to life-treasure on

XXXI 
Memories pull my heart is full

Poetry Friday – #Verselove 2024 – A Week of Poetry 4

Today is Poetry Friday with Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town, where she is dreaming of her beloved Haiti.

What a fun surprise I had in my mailbox this week! Thank you, Marcie, for the Haiku Zine. The photos and haiku are so precious and life-affirming.

Here are a few #Verselove poems from this week at Ethical ELA:

22. Thank You Mother Earth with Donnetta Norris

Who would have thought–
more than we wanted, more
than we needed of
the gifts of Mother
Earth would have led us here?
Has she not
bled enough to get our attention?
For she is speaking to
us not just on Earth Day.

The worry is every word on
Earth can’t poem enough,
is not loud enough for
the masses to do something
right here. Is there any hope that this
side of gasolinism and of consumerism and
of lithium and of greedium
history will ever not destroy us?


This golden shovel has two lines from Andrea Gibson’s “Homesick: A Plea for our Planet” for the striking lines: “Who, more than the earth, has bled for us” and “The earth is the right side of history.

Another Earth Day Blitz poem, where I tried to be more thankful…

Earth for Earth

Thank you, Mother
Thank you, Earth
Earth rising
Earth boiling
Boiling too much
Boiling in anger
Anger of depth
Anger justified
Justified this day
Justified forever
Forever creation
Forever healing
Healing despite
Healing strength
Strength to bury
Strength to overcome
Overcome indifference
Overcome pollutants
Pollutants of attitude
Pollutants of consumption
Consumption of greed
Consumption of fear
Fear of sharing
Fear of caring
Caring for earth
Caring for our mother
Mother of grace
Mother of mercy
Mercy rainforested
Mercy extended
Extended throughout
Extended worldwide
Worldwide growth
Worldwide grace
Grace of comfort
Grace of care
Care to try again
Care of renewables
Renewable energy
Renewable creation
Creation of hope
Creation of green
Green and blue
Green comfort
Comfort in our hearts
Comfort for Earth
Earth is our Mother
Earth is our choice
Choice
Mother

23. April Showers Bring May Flowers with Anna J. Small Roseboro

Louder than Hunger

Jake longed to be
Invisible. He heeded
the Voice shouting hate

FOOD’S THE ENEMY
His demons screeched their deceit
But Frieden listened

Step by step, sometimes
Back, finally crossed the bridge
Rejected the troll

Embraced poetry
Musicals, healing, light, hope
Grandma’s strength still here

John speaks up and out
To youth and all: Find your voice.
Find your people. Peace.


About this poem: I finished the book Louder than Hunger by John Schu, and the character’s life experience (and the author’s, as well) fit the prompt of April showers turned into May flowers.

24.  Writing the Night Sky with Kevin Hodgson

We, too, are made of wonders, of great
and ordinary loves, of small invisible worlds,
of a need to call out through the dark.

~Ada Limón (“In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa”)

Great Bear

We were traveling yesterday at about 550 mph
(Too fast for us to comprehend this 737’s power) but
Are we really? I am reading Edward Hays who

Made this book called Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim
Of whom I am one, I hope (she actually
Wonders as she writes this poem). It is

Of interest to remember the 3 constant movements of our
Great earth: 1) spinning on its sweetly-tilting axis at 1000 mph,
And 2) journeying in order around the sun at 66,600 mph

(Ordinary for us, for we hardly recall it.) And 3) Mother
Loves sailing together with the whole family
Of our solar system at 43,000 mph. That last

Small miracle means we hurtle further into the
Invisible space over a million miles a day, into
Worlds not yet in existence, daily new creation

Of our Divine Mystery. And yet, here we are in
A jet, feeling humanity is mastering science. We
Need to look up and remember, in awe

To live both body and spirit, day and night, to
Call to the creator within, and to live
Out loud in our exterior life. Ursa Major

Through time, has become mostly
The Big Dipper. We see his tail and rump, but
Dark on his head and legs, yet he’s all still there.


About this poem: That was a journey and a half through all the thoughts in my head this morning. I read Ida Limón and had to use her precious last stanza in a golden shovel and her form of three line stanzas. Then I was reading this expansive thought book yesterday that reminded me of today’s prompt “Writing the Night Sky.” Third, I picked the well-known Ursa Major as my constellation and couldn’t let him go, so they all just collided into this mess. I’ve trusted Edward Hays for the stats within. I love the Big Dipper, and even though the stars are great out here in the desert, I rarely can make out any other constellations. I learned today that the Big Dipper phenomenon (a part of a bigger constellation) has a name for that, an asterism. I’ve never been able to figure out the whole Ursa Major, even though its the largest northern constellation.

Photo by Nadiia Ploshchenko 🇺🇦 on Unsplash

25. “Where I’m From” with a Twist with Tammi Belko

I am Demon Copperhead
(After George Ella Lyon and Barbara Kingsolver)

I am from somewhere in Virginia
Southern Appalachia
from a too-hungry teen mom and a drowned father
whose demon was spawned by starving hearts
from a single-wide rental
and a soon drug-satiated dead mother
From the Dog of America getting kicked
I am from fucked up foster care,
child labor, and a dog urine bed
I am from snakes and hillbillies
(and with up-yours pride I wear the label)
From lovers of my broken life–
from Maggot and the Peggots
from June and Emmy
and from Dori and Angus
from my youth being used up way early
and my brief football stardom
I am from art pencils and markers,
the release found in creating
I am from busted knees, pain killers,
and sports doctor malpractice
I am from lost boys in a Dickensian tragedy,
from Fast Forward and Swap-Out
from big corporate greed
who blow the tops
off our mountains
who strive to remove
the cooperative land economy
of my once-thriving people
and green growing place,
from companies who demand
we use the taxable cash system of the city
I am from Redneck superheroes, like Tommy Waddles
I am from the moments marked from the get-out to lose
but turning out happier-ever-after than most


Italicized phrases are direct quotes from the book Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.

26. Poetry as Billboard with Scott McCloskey

The 21st Century Art of Poetry

The art of poetry according to Horace
is complicated and intimidating (my assessment).
In a 476-line poem, he instructs young poets,
“Whenever you instruct, be brief…”

Oh, he gives lots of instruction. One example,
A poem should have charm as well as beauty.
He gives ancient Greek lessons
on iambus and spondee,
Oracles and orchestras,
Wisdom and leeches, Diana
and how a play should have exactly 5 acts.

“If I fail to keep and do not understand
these well-marked shifts and shades
of poetic forms, why am I hailed as poet?” he asks.
(Actually, that is a translation of what he asks.)

I think poetic forms are great myself.
I like having parameters that help me write.
Maybe you do too.

But I would suggest that poetry
can be billboard length, as well.
(Thank you, Mr. McCloskey.)

“Cut a good story anywhere and it will bleed.” ~Anton Chekhov

“Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.” ~Robert Frost

“When you put your words to paper, they live inside my head” ~Jennifer Guyor-Jowett

“Every little thing is gonna be all write. Just write.” ~Fran Haley

“If someone says you aren’t good enough,
Laugh and write a limerick about them.” ~Leilya Pitre

“Take life by the shoulders…Write it a poem.”  ~Joanne Emery

A poem is a what we need right now,
And you are hailed as the poet.

27. Sounding Off with Jessica Wiley

I just read an article by Robert Reich, “Elon Musk’s Grotesque Distortion of Capitalism” so I am channeling Reich’s sounding off, as this is mostly a found poem.

All About Money
for mercurial idiot savant
unprincipled robber baron
sociopathic leader who
demands vast
wealth and power
scoffs at norms
wants total control
no regard for anyone
but self–demanding $47
billion salary package
with threats if
shareholders don’t agree

Tesla laid off 14,000
without warning
(parking key didn’t work
one day)
minimum severance package
with stipulations–
no lawsuit
no arbitration
no publicly defaming
Tesla.

American capitalism
coming apart because
of people like Musk,
extorting shareholders
and shafting workers

28. Strike & Write Poem with Glenda Funk

For Grandma  Mom
I’ve been writing this since
I was six years old born and we
young ones had to climb
and you had to handle into the brokenness of life
with really without a partner window
to unlock the door to get all
into the house where the birds
had taken up residence
then after Dad died you
became the go-to giver
of all things for Grandma,
one being to restore
the bird and rodent infested
old homestead
for her.

I’ve been writing this since
that house homestead Grandpa
built in the 40s became your home
after Grandma died in the 80s
and that kitchen where she used to cook
became where you cooked,
we watched you make
popovers being just one of your masterpieces–
you gently beating the eggs and milk
and stirring in the flour
until just moistened.

I’ve been writing this since
your index finger spatula-ed
out every last bit of the batter
you poured the popover batter
into the mismatched custard cups
not caring about wasting that last bit
(a clapback at the not-so-great Depression
of your childhood, perhaps)
and baked them for what seemed
(to my children) like hours
at two different temperatures

I’ve been writing this since
those popovers, with their custardy
interiors and crispy toasted outsides,
came out of the oven
into the history of a new generation
who broke them open and enjoyed
and added
honey
or boysenberry jam
or syrup
the steam rising as honey drizzled
and boysenberry jam glopped
thank you, Jennifer
and We ate our fill
on those slow moving much faster
deserty mornings
at first Grandma’s house later your house

I’ve been writing this since
I found those old custard cups
high on a shelf in Lori’s laundry room
and she welcomed me to take
them home, and now I’m
I became the grandma who bakes popovers
in the desert. And you would be glad
wouldn’t care at all to hear
that I’ve got your
Grandma’s magic spatula
finger so I don’t waste a drop

29. First Time for Everything with Fran Haley

Firsts I Considered Writing About Today
my first sister-in-law who died last month
or all the ‘firsts’ from this week alone:
     the first time I started an official bird watching life list
     the first time our cabin bedroom got a closet
     the first time I ripped out sticky vinyl tiles
     the first time I got myself stuck on a sticky vinyl-less floor
or any of the “firsts” on the list of memories
I wrote this morning before I got word that
my third sibling died yesterday

30. Congratulations, Verselovers 2024

I lost another sister this week. Three years ago I wrote a poem about my sisters here during Verselove: https://www.ethicalela.com/24-30-snapshots-in-time/#comment-38674 Today I used that poem to write a blackout poem, and it’s attached as an image. There were 7 of us in my family, and now there are 4. Each sibling has died suddenly, no illness and no warnings. While it certainly can be counted as a blessing not to die by inches, it’s still shocking for those left behind. It’s also humbling to see my own expiration date on the horizon.

#Verselove 2024 – A Week of Poetry 3

15. To Elegize or Not to Elegize? with Angie Braaten

Today I will
write a poem about
a worthy Cecropia moth
on Arizona Avenue in Orange City

It will not be about surviving my first blistery-cold and snowy winter in Iowa, having left Mediterranean-mild LA

It will not be about that woody cocoon carefully woven during the brisk fall, along the rim of the back porch step, surviving frostbite all winter long, while the water pipes in our old farmhouse couldn’t do it and burst

It will not be about the moth’s two-minute life, a being created to live a full two weeks on earth with a wingspan the length of my hand

It is not about its juicy abdomen–a fat soft thumb–holding big bright eyes on its winged back, (which did not camouflage the moth the first and only time it needed to be) as the Cecropia rested on the sidewalk drying its wings and gaining strength

It is not about a bird with a good appetite that didn’t care about the irony of biting into that abdomen, this fresh singing newness of moth.

Rather it is about the ethereal, ephemeral sense of living a life of praise.

16. Sevens Up with Dave Wooley (Kwansaba)

I wake up to the quails singing
praise. After a winter of denned-down
waiting, they make their sweet company known:
In the flutter and rhythm of wings
In the scurry of food-enough pursuit
In their joy of dusty dry bathing
I remind myself to live this day.

The Kwansaba I meant to praise today:

Each April morn, a friend places a
gentle lure in my box. I cast
my line into the boiling, teeming ideas
of the day, the week, the life.
When its hooked, I land–not the
dying–but the living words of life.
Praise prompt makers and those who witness.

17. Echo Sonnet with Erica Johnson

Finding Voice

What do you have to say? (Sway)
Do you mean side to side? (Hide)
Hiding your truths, you mean? (Keen)
Really, you can be true. (Poo!)

Your voice is dear (Fear)
We want to hear you. (Who?)
You! All your angles (Strangle)
I don’t want you to hide (Tried)

Keep trying. You can do it. (Sit)
Yes, waiting here, I will. (Hill)
It’s beautiful on top (Flop)
We all make mistakes (Stakes?)

Yes, they can be high (Try)
Great! You’ll cope. (Hope)

18 Nobody but You with Shaun Ingalls

This morning
as I fill the
hummingbird feeder
with sweet nectar,
thinking I should
clean the bowl with
soapy water first
(but I don’t)…

I am brought back to my
childhood.
I’m in the backyard
changing the water for K.C.,
our loud and wild beagle
who scares the neighbors
when he gets out, but
always makes us feel safe.
K.C. who adores us.
On all fours,
I bend over
and put my whole mouth
into the water,
taking a long
and green-cool
drink from his mossy bowl.

Somehow, I assure myself
if this bowl is clean
enough for me,
it will do for him.

I coach myself
at this new moment,
again an eight-year-old.

Continue to care
for the creatures,
like you do yourself,
for they are creators
of wonder
and of colors
and of love.

19 Deibide Baise Fri Toin with Stefani Boutelier

here I am
sleeping in, it’s time to scram
hubby’s birthday, kids are here
cheer

try again
counting skills I can obtain
this form has rules I to heed
need

 

20 Noteworthy with Susan Ahlbrand

For Vinolia

It’s taking me minutes to scroll through
all the What’s App messages–
Back to the beginning of our friendship.
At this late hour, I thought I would just
look for something funny
we had said to each other.

As I start to write this, I’m still scrolling.
When the rolling stops, I roll again,
like a gambler–through dozens,
Hundreds. No, it’s got to be thousands
of messages we have sent since 2014.

Starting when we lived in the same town,
now 7000 miles apart, and we are
still texting. Instead of something funny,
though, I’m finding all the messages
are making me homesick for you.

As I remember all the mischief,
all the memories, all the ministry fruit,
all the fancy foods, all the plans,
all the prayers, all the purple,
and now these messages are
tonight’s balm for my tears.

21. Memories from Mama’s Kitchen with Stacey Joy

For Grandma

I’ve been writing this since
I was six years old and we
young ones had to climb
into the broken window
to unlock the door to get all
into the house where the birds
had taken up residence

I’ve been writing this since
that house became your home
and that kitchen became where
we watched you make popovers–
you gently beating the eggs and milk
and stirring in the flour
until just moistened.

I’ve been writing this since
your index finger spatula-ed
out every last bit of the batter
into the mismatched custard cups
and baked them for what seemed
like hours at two different temperatures

I’ve been writing this since
those popovers, with their custardy
interiors and crispy toasted outsides,
came out of the oven
we broke them open
and added
honey
or boysenberry jam
or syrup
and ate our fill
on those slow deserty mornings
at your house

I’ve been writing this since
I found those old custard cups
high on a shelf in Lori’s laundry room
and she welcomed me to take
them home, and now I’m
the grandma who bakes popovers
in the desert. And you would be glad
to hear that I’ve got your magic spatula
finger so I don’t waste a drop

#Verselove 2024 – A Week of Poetry 2

8. Zip Code Poem Memoir with Mo Dailey 

Suburban Los Angeles is home
🏡
I never thought I would move
and have
another

I was twenty-two when I moved in

with a friend. Today we live

in wonder across miles

I married you
and for the first time I live in snow–
well, in a house,
an old
frigid one

Iowa farming!
no
🚜
not us, but my
class

One baby and
another on the way our first home
with a yard and
swing
and cuddles, lullabies, and play

girls started school in the desert
Saguaros and heat
home for us
🏊🏼‍♀️
they hoped to never leave

Fourteen years later
back
¯\_( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)_/¯
in Iowa
home

Bahrain didn’t have zip codes, but
One interesting thing is we could get
delivered to church, school, or hospital with just BOX
and Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain

Our retirement home is small and good
two of us
fit just
so, except we can make room for
much company

9. True or False List Poem with Denise Krebs

By Denise Krebs
After Dean Young

  1. I am much younger inside than I appear.
  2. Jury duty is for the birds.
  3. Ishmael is also a son of Abraham.
  4. Guns have no constructive purpose.
  5. The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary.
  6. The day you eat it your eyes will be open.
  7. I don’t need a reason.
  8. There is chaos in spilled milk.
  9. You can have too much storage space.
  10. That tiny silver sliver in the sky is still full.
  11. The computer in my pocket rules the day.
  12. Dean Young was an ordinary poet.

read more here

10. Celebration of Yourself in All its Complexities with Joanne Emery

My Life: A Word Want

My life was a word want
It ate, it slept, it haunted
the lexicon and mined for more
It modified its field of study
often always stirring
up another
term
concept
expression
It laughed, it cried, it blurred
the dictionary page to raise its
own little words, like fiff and yit
and whimsical wistful walloping
words of wonder
words of life
Word of Life bringing it light
It wondered, it inferred, it spurred
action in its persistent pupil
My life was a word want

11. Surprising Supplies with Amber

Entrusted Earth Dust

Earth has been entrusted to humans,
But we have neglected our vocation
For the heavy and habitual lust of the
“Ever-expanding consumption of goods”1

Entrusted Earth Dust
can help restore you to your original
anti-consumerism commitment
Curb your buyological urge
with this extraordinary powder
Just sprinkle lightly
On your prefrontal cortex
To ease the addiction
And restore
executive functioning

Made with 100% crushed Amazon returns
Digital delivery sent through WiFi
(No fossil-fuel-guzzling delivery trucks needed)
Cost: absolutely free

Our Mother will thank you


1https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/consumerism

12. An Ode to the Unworthy with Jordan

Ode to the Rock Chipper
You rumble and roar
You don’t give way
to the concrete or asphalt underneath
your dozen rock-hard wheels
You bounce
You heave
You fight back
against the barriers
barummphing to a grinding
halt at red lights
You boom brave and bellicose
with uncovered load
as you roar down the highway
sand and pebbles glitter the way behind you
reminding us that terra firma is anything but
You are the great bearer
of these tiny bits of Earth
in various sizes–
pinheads and pills
bullets and BB’s
gravelly pebbles–
each spilled bit
does your bidding
bouncing behind in your wake
O, Gravel Truck, you have
earned my husband’s
nickname this time–
chipping our windshield

13. The Brain Dump with Barb Edler

Peacock
Featherful eyes fanned out to taunt the world
Staring out at all to flaunt his dominance
Blue-black piercing pupils dot his display
in magic irises of unimaginable iridescence–
meridianroyalcobaltgreenturquoise
Sclera of warm coppery sunshine

His whirled wardrobe
a quiver waving and weaving

Then the early morning
cacophony of peacock’s
screaming shrieking
laughing hahahas
tell us to go home

but we say no,
which is to say
we may look like
weak, scared girls
but we’re not
letting you win

14. If Ever There were a Spring Day so Perfect with Margaret Simon

For Sarah

If you want to be a witness to flourishing,
You are in the right arroyo. Never in
Want of observers, these creatures, down
To their temporal roots in the rock,
Know this once-in-a-lifetime bloom of
Hope is for themselves, and yet
As they share with the animals, the sky,
The sand, and us, we breathe in their life. The
Deepest desire in this moment is to know this
Thing before me. To say thank you. To attend.
Yes, to witness this contribution to creation.
I too have temporal roots, and I
Want this life of hope to always be about
That—thanking, attending, witnessing.

Nolina

Progressive Poem for 2024 is Here

The Progressive Poem for 2024 is continuing each day. So far…

cradled in stars, our planet sleeps,
clinging to tender dreams of peace
sister moon watches from afar,
singing lunar lullabies of hope.
almost dawn. I walk with others,
keeping close, my little brother.
hand in hand, I carry courage
escaping closer to the border.
My feet are lightning;
My heart is thunder.
Our pace draws us closer
to a new land of wonder.
I bristle against rough brush—
poppies ahead brighten the browns.
Morning light won’t stay away —
hearts jump at every sound.
I hum my own little song
like ripples in a stream
Humming Mami’s lullaby
reminds me I have her letter
My fingers linger on well-worn creases,
shielding an address, a name, a promise–
Sister Moon will find always us
surrounding us with beams of kindness
But last night, as we rested in the dusty field,
worries crept in about matters back home
I huddled close to my brother. Tears revealed
the no-choice-need to escape. I feel grown.
Leaving all I’ve ever known
the tender, heavy, harsh of home.
On to maybes, on to dreams,
on to whispers we hope could be.
But I don’t want to whisper! I squeeze Manu’s hand.
“¡Más cerca ahora!” Our feet pound the sand.
We race, we pant, we lean on each other
I open my canteen and drink gratefully.
Thirst is slaked, but I know we’ll need
more than water to achieve our dreams.
Nights pass slowly, but days call for speed
through the highs and the lows, we live with extremes
We enter a village the one from Mami’s letter,
We find the steeple; food, kindly people, and shelter.
“We made it, Manu! Mami would be so proud!”
I choke back a sob, then stand tall for the crowd.
A slapping of sandals… I wake to the sound
of ¡GOL! Manu’s playing! The fútbol rebounds.
I pinch myself. Can this be true?
Are we safe at last? Is our journey through?
I savor this safety, we’re enveloped with care,
but Tío across the border, still seems far as stars.
He could not yet come to this new place
But Hermana moon, kiss his tear-stained face
¿Dónde está mi querido Tío?
¡Mi corazón está muy frío!

April 1 Patricia Franz at Reverie
April 2 Jone MacCulloch
April 3 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
April 4 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
April 5 Irene at Live Your Poem
April 6 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
April 7 Marcie Atkins
April 8 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God Forsaken Town
April 9 Karen Eastlund
April 10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
April 11 Buffy Silverman
April 12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
April 13 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
April 14 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
April 15 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
April 16 Sarah Grace Tuttle
April 17 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
April 18 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
April 19 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
April 20 Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
April 21 Janet, hosted here at Reflections on the Teche
April 22 Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading
April 23 Tanita Davis at (fiction, instead of lies)
April 24 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
April 26 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe
April 27 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
April 28 Dave at Leap of Dave
April 29 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
April 30 Michelle Kogan at More Art for All