Poetry Friday – Sugar Skull Piñata by Robert Benavidez

Today is Poetry Friday, and Susan Thomsen is hosting today with a pinata poem and story from Passaic, New Jersey. 

Día de Los Muertos
sings of bright rainbow skulls–
heart-shaped nose, starry eyes,
strong zygomatic arch,
mighty smile fills nighttime
fears with a holy hope

I learned the syllable square poetry form last week from Carmela A. Martino, here at Tyger, Tyger Magazine. This one is a 6×6 poem.

The artwork that inspired my poem: Sugar Skull Piñata by Robert Benavidez

Poetry Friday – Cherish

Today is Poetry Friday. Robyn has a delightful post about my favorite beverage, TEA.

Cherish is my word of the year. I just spent a week with my daughter and grandson at our home, cherishing every moment because they seem all too few.

Milo and I were playing a game in the picture above. Every time he slapped my Cherish rock, I would say “Bwue.” When he tapped my husband’s Explore rock, I would say, “Gumbo.” He composed little rhythms, like “Bwue, bwue, bwue, gumbo, bwue, gumbo, bwue, gumbo, bwue, bwue, bwue…” It was a favorite game of the week.

We had fun climbing rocks in Joshua Tree National Park.

And wearing hats and a million other things, as he had fun with everything he came across. I was exhausted when they left, but I was satisfied that I truly cherished each moment I had with him.

Ethical ELA’s Open Write begins tomorrow. Check out the prompts Saturday through Wednesday this week!

Friday is the third day of The Stafford Challenge. It was founded by Brian Rohr, storyteller and poet. We will write a poem a day, inspired by William Stafford, who had a daily poem-writing practice for decades. (One of Stafford’s famous poems is “Traveling through the Dark.”) The Challenge started on Wednesday, January 17, the anniversary of Stafford’s birth. Last evening in a Zoom meeting, his son, Kim Stafford, inspired us to have a daily writing challenge that includes four things: the date, a diary (boring prose of the day), an aphorism, and a poem. I’m going to give it a try this year focusing on my local environment. Here’s Thursday’s poem.

Lovely desert holds life, like this
little hedgehog cactus that counts its
blessings, holding onto hope in the
whispering cleft of boulders. Ready
to grow, even when soil is sparse.
Life calls to life,
that it won’t be stopped. Like the cactus
You are beauty and promise, and you
won’t be sorry if you
give it your all in living fully. Drink
up your fill of grace this fine day.

A Golden Shovel poem from Jeannette Encinias’ “Begin Again” that was sent in her email today. “Lovely little blessings. Whispering to life that you won’t give up.” 

Writing this poem also reminded me of the poem Kat Apel wrote for me a couple summers ago. Read “How to Be a Cactus” here.


Poemtober – Weeks 2, 3, & 4

October 7 – Drip




October 8 – Toad
Short and brown
Good friend Toad, a little down
Glad green Frog and he reflected
Lobel’s selves, connected

October 9 – Bounce
Bounce along–
I someday be
Again? Yes (I think…)
Now health is such a gift to treasure.

October 10 – Fortune
Dear Fortune,

How did I spend almost
my whole white life
not paying attention
to the fact that you play
favorites based on
‘Merica’s crass history?

With questions,

October 11 – Wander
eyes wide open
with appreciation
creative formation
unplanned hope in

October 12 – Spicy

Spicy delicious
Full of flavor
Fall chili
Rich &
& rich
Fall chili
Full of flavor
Spicy delicious

October 13 – Rise

Life’s cold fray,
Like the morning
Sun that resets our
Soul sadness, daily
giving us hope
for newness

October 14 – castle
He makes a hundred million dollars
each year, is riddled with anxiety,
and his adult children all live at home.

She rents a room from a mother and son,
helps them with their laundry,
and cooks in a microwave in her room.

The joy on her face shows who has a castle

October 15 – dagger

knocked, assaulted, choked, stabbed
dozens of times: mother and son
hate crime, unthinkable escalation
Gaza war exported to Chicago by a
monster of a man who once
built a treehouse

Read more about Wadea Alfayoumi with a gift article from me at Washington Post.

October 16 – angels
when times are oppressive
God’s protective calming cloud
peace in the world

October 17 – demon
Who will
cast out
the demon
of hatred?
How will
anyone be able
to pay for the
What will
bring justice
and peace?

October 18 – saddle
in the
saddle of
looking out at your
wicked realm. Will you see
that you are not so lofty?
Your power is manufactured
from whipping, stepping down, and kicking
those you have consigned to a lower place.

October 19 – plump
Whose name rhymes with rump and frump?
He’s one we should at last dump.
He’s plump and reaping a thump.
Failed reality show chump!

October 20 – frost
As Kafka said, “A book
must be the axe
for the frozen sea
within us.”
A pen then is balm
for the axe wounds
I write to heal
to process
to contemplate
to go deeper
I write to leave
a small mark
I write to thaw
the frost that is left

October 21 – chains
War and its threat equal chains
When will we be free?
Can we make real gains
if we listen to each other?
Hatred of the ages strains
our capacity for love
Glean from heart and brains
to cause a path to agree
and avoid war stains

October 22 – scratchy
What? Dippity do
Scritchy scratchy too
I squeal

Shibble shabble shoe
Double trouble true
Big deal!

October 23 – celestial
Marshmallows burnt just right
Settled round the fire light—cold backs
Warm fronts, time to relax.
Then looked up, viewed star tracks—chatter
turned to higher matters
Universal star spatter, bright moon
Soul space, Divine commune

October 24 – shallow
calls out
to deep but
at times shallow

October 25 – dangerous

Hoping peace will be found
Lines of warring background
Bloodshedding justice drowned

October 26 – remove

Let’s remove Republicans from power
Election is one year away: blue wave
To the former guy they continue to cower
Let’s remove Republicans from power
We’ll use our votes on the House to scour
To save our Republic, we must be brave
Let’s remove Republicans from power
Election is one year away: blue wave

The following is a Golden Shovel poem with a striking line from something Mike Johnson said yesterday. “At the end of the day it’s the problem of the human heart, not the weapons…we have to protect the second amendment.”

October 27 – beast

At the End of the Day,
Mike Johnson, that is B.S. It’s
definitely the
guns that are the problem.
As if people of
other nations don’t have the
same worries of human
mental illness and evil heart
condition. But in the U.S. we cannot
resist using the
we’ve stockpiled. We
must stop. We have
to keep and save humanity, to
lift life and protect.
It is well past time to abolish the
gun-worshiped second

October 28 – sparkle
precious shining lights
glitter on her eyelashes
flutter under night
constellations brightening
her mark on the nighttime world

October 29 – massive

His size is astronomical
Could it be gastronomical?

October 30 – rush

is bad today. When will
we get relief? Soon as

October 31 – fire

intense, angry
blazing, searing, scorching
first hot then cold
chilling, blasting, penetrating
frosty, crisp

Open Write July 2023

Saturday, 15 July 2023
“The Masks We Wear” with Mo Daley

In a golden shovel poem I used this striking line from Mo’s mentor poem called “Inherited Mask.”

living life hiding behind a mask
trying not to let the plaster crack

To My Mask

Living with you has made
life duller and fabricated–
hiding my depth. Who am I
behind the bluff?
A quiet, nice, wave-calmer is my
mask (that’s you). Yet I am a story of
trying on, opening, weaving through time. I’m
not quite content with me without you, but
to be honest, you can be an excuse to
let me off the hook. I can’t be hurt if
the truth hides. But once in a while the
plaster of pretense cleaves, and I rejoice in the
crack I am making in you.

Sunday, 16 July 2023
Fibonacci Poem with Mo Daley

dissonance of praise
consonance of contrasting calls
quail, jay, thrasher, finch, oriole, dove, woodpecker, wren
dozens assemble on our porch
bird feeders times four
emptied yet

Monday, 17 July 2023
Venn Diagram Poem with Susan Ahlbrand

Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Places We Call Home with Shelby Sexton

To be home is to be in this place
With you as we finish the race
At peace, in love, holding hope,
Holy twists of life’s kaleidoscope

Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Where Were We? with Mike Dombrowski

Don’t hand me the microphone, I thought.
You’re doing fine for both of us.
When did the mom of the bride
have to start talking at
wedding receptions?
What do I say?
I should’ve thought!

I spewed a few
words I don’t recall
The important thing is
our precious couple’s ready
for life together. Now, let’s eat
and laugh and play and dance and dream hope.



Our yard is choked with
foxtails and storkbills
Superbloom year
Dried out, they prick and poke
Our solution: weed the yard

Our nation is choked with
assault rifles and handguns
Superbloom of fear
Locked and loaded, they destroy and kill
#Here4theKidsActions solution:
Weed the nation of guns

Let’s start in Denver on June 5

April 12 #Verselove – A Poet Like Me

A Poet Like Me with Anna J. Small Roseboro, April 12, 2024

We chose a poet from among those born in the same month to inspire our poetry today. I chose a striking line for my golden shovel from a new-to-me poem Rita Dove’s “Ars Poetica”: “What I want is this poem to be small.”

Ars Poetica

What a poem needs
don’t presume to know, but I
want it to brandish truth.
Is that fair to ask?
This fearful world needs a
poem to smack us alive,
to resuscitate trust, to
be a balm for large (even
small) wounds of our soul.


Progressive Poem 2023

This year’s #kidlit progressive poem is in progress here. Thanks to Margaret Simon for signing us up and coordinating this project.

Each day I have been adding the next author’s progressive line to the poem.

Suddenly everything fell into place
like raindrops hitting soil and sinking in.

When morning first poked me, I’d wished it away
my mind in the mist, muddled, confused.

Was this a dream, or reality, rousing my response?
The sun surged, urging me to join in its rising

Rising like a crystal ball reflecting on morning dew.
I jumped out of bed, ready to explore the day.

My feet pull me outside and into the garden
Where lilies and bees weave…but wait! What’s that?

A bevy of bunnies jart and dart and play in the clover.
A dog barks and flash, the bunderstorm is over. 

I breathe—brave, quiet. Like a seed,
as the day, foretold in my dream, ventured upon me.

Sunbeams guided me to the gate overgrown with wisteria
where I spotted the note tied to the gate.

As I reached the gnarled gate, pollen floated like fairy dust into my face. Aaah Choo!
Enter, if you must. We’ve been waiting for you.

Not giving the curious note a thought, I pushed the gate open and ran through.
Stopped in my tracks, eyes wide in awe–can this really be true?

Huge mushrooms for tables, vines twined into chairs,
A flutter of fairies filled flowery teawares

With glazed nut cakes and apple blossom tea,
I heard soft whispers from behind a tree. Oh my! They had been “waiting for me!”

Still brave, but cautious, I waited for them.
Forested friends filled the glade. “You’ve arrived! Let the reverie begin!”

I laughed as my bare feet danced across the dew-soaked grass.
matching the beat of paws, claws, and wings—around me, above me.
Tea cakes and hugs, twice all around, then silly games and races ’til the sun slid down
Moon shared a warm wink, and showered moon-seeds over earth’s precious ground.


April 1 Mary Lee Hahn, Another Year of Reading
April 2 Heidi Mordhorst, My Juicy Little Universe
April 3 Tabatha, The Opposite of Indifference
April 4 Buffy Silverman
April 5 Rose Cappelli, Imagine the Possibilities
April 6 Donna Smith, Mainely Write
April 7 Margaret Simon, Reflections on the Teche
April 8 Leigh Anne, A Day in the Life
April 9 Linda Mitchell, A Word Edgewise
April 10 Denise Krebs, Dare to Care
April 11 Emma Roller, Penguins and Poems
April 12 Dave Roller, Leap Of Dave
April 13 Irene Latham Live Your Poem
April 14 Janice Scully, Salt City Verse
April 15 Jone Rush MacCulloch
April 16 Linda Baie TeacherDance
April 17 Carol Varsalona, Beyond Literacy Link
April 18 Marcie Atkins
April 19 Carol Labuzzetta at The Apples in My Orchard
April 20 Cathy Hutter, Poeturescapes
April 21 Sarah Grace Tuttle at Sarah Grace Tuttle’s Blog
April 22 Marilyn Garcia
April 23 Catherine at Reading to the Core
April 24 Janet Fagal, hosted by Tabatha, The Opposite of Indifference
April 25 Ruth, There is no Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town
April 26 Patricia J. Franz, Reverie
April 27 Theresa Gaughan,Theresa’s Teaching Tidbits
April 28 Karin Fisher-Golton, Still in Awe Blog
April 29 Karen Eastlund, Karen’s Got a Blog
April 30 Michelle Kogan Illustration, Painting, and Writing