{p7 ring in the new year on pf}

Poetry Peeps! Thank you for poetry-ing along with us in 2021. You’re invited to our revels in the new year! Here’s the scoop for January: We’re stickybeaks and earwigs. We’re listening in, and overhearing. This month, we’re writing the poetry of Eavesdropped & Overheard. In tribute to the overheard poetry of longtime Poetry Friday maven Susan Thomsen @Chicken Spaghetti, we’re taking what we hear and using it…somehow. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on January 28 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Vallejo 111

It’s new year’s eve… evening, after dark, and I’m just now posting. In my defense, I attended a memorial service yesterday, and it somehow wiped my entire brain. A few of us are beginning the new year in a more thoughtful frame of mind than we expected, but though I am late, I hope you still didn’t miss Sara’s ringing out the year poem. Kelly’s bell poem is here, and Laura’s jingles along here. Tricia’s is here, and Cousin Mary Lee’s poem (sadly not a rage acrostic) is here. Poetry Friday is ably hosted at Carol’s Corner and we’re all keeping Carol in our thoughts as she opens her home to her neighbors. More Poetry Peeps are ringing in – Michelle K and Carol V. are all sleigh bells and sound waves. My newest relative, Heidi, is blitzing in, along with Janice. More Poetry Peeps may yet be ringing in, so stay tuned.

One of the questions I asked whilst trying to compose a poem this month was why. Why bells? What are they for? What do they do? Why am I one of those people who has to stop, turn, triangulate and figure out where they’re coming from? (Granted, I do that with particularly loud birds, too, but stay with me here.) One of the other poetry sisters mentioned that she lives near an historical carillon that she has often heard, but never paid much attention to – which is bewildering to me. How could she not know every little thing about the bells in her neck of the woods? We determined that in her historic town, there are bells everywhere. Here on the decidedly late-to-American-history West Coast…? Not so much.

And yet, this has been a season of bells. Tiny silver ones were played on Christmas Eve. At the memorial service yesterday, the carillon played through the keyboard of the organ. The Boy’s chimes are bells of a sort, made of titanium rods. Why do I love bells? Because to me, they sing.

sounding joy

silver made sound
stills commonplace clamor
burnishes the fleeting moment
and sings

I had so many reasons I like bells that Mary Lee suggested I write a list poem. Whenever I think of joy in poetic form, I always go back to Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno”, which is to me the most joyous list poem in the world. So, with a nod to my favorite Christoper and Jeoffry, I will consider bells.

canticum campanarum

for I will consider the ring of bells
for they are both legion and legend
for they denote both curve and clarity,
for they peal out times and seasons,
for they bless unions and get us started,
for they resound alarms and herald change
for they knell a death, and muffled, toll of absence
for their tongues herald both law and declaration,
for they symbolize a liberty both damaged, yet resilient,
for when your bell is rung, you are done,
for they apocryphally ring on angel’s wings
for they arrive with us, on us

for in their peal is laughter
for they cry pax

Alarms, warnings, joys, sorrows, meeting, parting – all voiced in song of bells. They’re kind of neat, when you think about it.

So, that’s it from me for 2021 – which feels so weird to write, because the last twelve months seem like some bizarre fever dream. It’s been a joy to write with you. Happy Hogmanay, and health, joy, and hearth wishes to you.

{gratitude: 11.19}

I feel like I’m on a roller coaster – Finished and turned in my book – YAY!

Amazing National Book Award announcements, where a writing colleague I “Internet know” won – YAY!

A friend’s birthday – YAY!

A complete miscarriage of justice in the courts… ::sigh:: Expected. Expected. Expected.

And that’s such a shame. But, we go on.

We Go On

Resilient is a word resolved:
‘re’ reappears when it is called,
without a ‘si’ it gets to work.
It will not ‘lie,’ it never shirks.
A strength that knows what ‘right’ should be,
A zeppelin’s worth of buoyancy.

Keep faith, friends.

{gratitude: 11.18}

Years ago, I saw a quilted wall-hanging made by Wendi Gratz embroidered with the words “Enough is as Good as a Feast.” That was ages ago, and the words are still something I want to write on my hand at least once a day. Enough – surfeit – is as good as a groaning table, full.

Quite a thought for people who struggle with being not enough. Quite a thought for those who overthink, overdo, overspend. Quite a thought to go into Thanksgiving with!

You Are

Ample – not stuffed.
“Full, thanks, so no more.”
This meal’s up to snuff,
No need for encore.
You’re good, like a feast,
Just right. On the nose.
So, rest in that peace
And settle, reposed.

{gratitude: 11.8}

Sometimes it really comes clear how much human beings are creatures of habit. We have our habits and patterns of doing things. If those patterns disrupt, like dropping a rock into a pond, larger and larger disruptions shift outwards, changing the whole face of the pond.

Funerals and memorial services are a disruption. Yesterday I sat with people – still masked, but in a church, a first for me since March 2020 – who grieved not only the departed, but the past, and the cascading, immeasurable losses of the pandemic. It was like a scab had been ripped off – a lost child returned safe, after learning the world is huge and full of incomprehensible, unknowable things, wailing out remembered terror. Most of us were unprepared for the emotional backlash. We grieve being together, in some ways; grieved that some part of us would never return, and that we as a community would never be the same.

Today, I am thankful for… dams. For the bulwarks that we construct into our consciousness which allow us to move forward. For the blockades between the present and the past. For what walls we put between ourselves and our pain and fears, which allow us to carry on.

Barrier is a watchtower word –
‘B’ stands there, bristling, tall.
The ‘r’s tops curve like razor wire
Barred – no one climbs this wall.
You’ll never sneak up on the ‘i’
Which fiercely guards the -er
What’s on this side we classify
As not for amateurs!

{gratitude: 11.6}

Poetry Friday revealed that there’s a crowd of folks writing gratiku on Twitter and Instagram – gratitude + haiku = gratiku, and it’s a good practice just to pause and write something small this month. If you tag your post #gratiku or #gratitude, you’ll be rounded up with the rest.

Today is my day of rest; tomorrow I’m tossed back into funerals, meetings, more work on reframing the end of this novel (10 days to the deadline), and all the rest. Today I’m making a simple soup, munching an apple, and doing the absolute least. Today’s word may not seem particularly to inspire gratitude, but it does for me. No, really!

Life Cycles

Compost is a common noun:
Composites: worms-plus-dirt.
‘C’ cradles food and breaks it down
‘Om’ noms waste like dessert
‘P’ reveals complexity
Life’s organisms, rife!
Decomposition guarantees
A right-now afterlife.

{pf: gratitude:11.5}

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Cousin Mary Lee, the Poetry Friday Calendar Maven, whose poem today refers to both percentages and rain. Of course, speaking of Autumn dimness yesterday brought me to that, too (to rain, not to percentages; it may be beyond me to make percentages very poetic). Actually, it brought me not quite to rain, yet, but it did bring me to petrichor… I acknowledge the many times I’ve written about the stuff. It just intrigues me – scientific studies about a smell! Petrichor is meant to be what flowed through the veins of the Greek gods. It’s a mysterious aerosolized oil kind of thing. Though we know so much, it remains a mysterious, delightful smell, which makes us even more grateful for the rain.

Sur l’Odeur

petrichor is a patchwork word
roughed out of cliff crags and compost –
the ‘peh’ is a pebble scraped along,
encountering ‘-tri-‘, the signpost
pointing to ‘-chor.’ A conductor’s chord
bids Earth in ensemble, inhale
and breathe a ‘rich’ scent smorgasbord —
a love song of briars and shale.

Happy Friday.

{gratitude: 11.4}

The thing about many old houses is that they have many old dark corners. Root cellars, basements, bottoms of gardens. This house just faces all the wrong directions to get any decent sun inside, even with solar tubes and skylights. Our small house is dwarfed in contrast to the tall trees in our and our neighbors’ yards, so afternoons in Autumn are a bit dim. Later, when the leaves are gone for good, a bit of sun will straggle through, but now we begin the season of gloom.

Not gonna lie, I kind of love it.

some dim

Shadowed is a shaded word,
A silhouette of night
Slipping from the s, the h
Cowers from the light.
‘A’ blazes bright – an open noun –
But downplayed by the ‘d,’
What’s left is ‘owed’ to dusk,
Bestows rank obscurity.

{gratitude: 11.3}

In our little house, when it gets colder than the 40’s at night, we reluctantly turn on the heat. We hold off on this decision as long as we can.

When we lived in the UK, we had oil heaters. They… ticked and hummed, as the oil heated and boiled in its metal housing. What forced air with its blowers and fans and filters and oil heaters, with their ticking and humming, have in common is that they’re both noise. Even when they’re really purpose-built for quiet, they’re never silent. And so I lie in bed, listening to them. It happens the first few weeks of every autumn.

Another side effect of the isolation/lockdown period of this pandemic is that I have stopped sleeping soundly. This is a common stress response for many, and it’s taking a long time to get that sleep-ability back.

I miss sleep. And I, probably like you, am deeply, deeply grateful when it comes.


Sleep is such a silent word –
(Speak softly! – Shh! Go slow!)
The ‘S’ is curled up tightly
The E’s snuggled in a row.
Sleep seduces us to snooze;
Leggy ‘L’ lists toward the ‘p’
Somnolent upon the sofa –
Hush, and let me get some zzz’s.

{pf: poetry peeps share tankas}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

First, let’s take a moment to scream, “AAARGH! WHAT HAPPENED TO SEPTEMBER!?” quietly into a pillow. *Ahem*

You’re invited to our challenge in the month of October! Here’s the scoop: We’re taking advantage of the rich bounty of the Poetry Friday Universe and writing ____is A Word Poems, wordplay invented by poet Nikki Grimes and shared by Michelle Barnes. Once you’ve read a few examples, you’ll get the hang of it. Have a word in mind? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering on October 29th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Seriously, poets: wither September? I’m not exactly averse to the conclusion of this ENDLESS season of chaos and smoke, but goodness, does it seem as if it was August five minutes ago! The month has brought challenges and changes for many and a louder pitch to the usual machines of industry churning around us, producing media and news and drama and nonsense. I’m now happy to welcome the rain (please, please, PLEASE) and the gloriously bright, crunchy (not engulfed in flames) leaves; the long seasons of rest before renewal… Somehow, it seems it has been such a manic summer and I am so pathetically eager for autumn that I will even put up with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and ginger being added to a hard orange squash and then that flavoring being slopped indiscriminately on pretty much everything, without too much complaint. (I never said NO complaint, though, so don’t @me with those lattes…)

With my love of this season of change, it’s not much of a surprise where I ended up with our challenge this month. Tasked to choose material from poets within the Poetry Friday Universe and write a tanka in response or in conversation with the poem of our choice I found myself choosing instead of a single poem, an entire project – the Poetry Sisters autumn hymn poems from 2017. Hymn meter is repetitive and simple, and autumn is pretty straightforward. Those two things together allowed us to really polish a single thought. Now, a tanka is meant to evoke a mood or an event, so the process here is wholly different. After a quick read I discovered that most of us chose to imbue seasons with a female energy female:

  • Tricia: Summer sheds her cloak (Fall Fashion, 101)
  • Liz: Slipping on wisdom’s dress (Though Folly’s overalls fit better)
  • Sara: Leaves rake our cheeks with gold smear (Contoured & highlighted?)
  • Laura: Maple wears her scarlet blooms (Coiffed couture!)
  • Kelly: I whisper it through rustling leaves (Gossip, girl!)
  • Me: When kissed by nighttime rime… (Maybe not quite feminine energy here, [& I’m not using mine anyway] but…close enough)

With this trove of imaginative imagery (though admittedly, with less time than I wanted this week), I came up with a nod to Liz’s poem that incorporated everyone:

Lady Libra

a stunner – that one
trails whispers like rustling leaves…
years rest gold as light
bearing scarlet blooms – cloaked in
wisdom’s borrowed dress, she winks 😉

Nobody expects the season decline before the sleep of winter to go quietly, do they? Lady Libra is stepping over her sister’s cloak, borrowing a dress, shoving some blossoms in her hair, and coming in reallllly late – or is it early? – with gold-smeared cheeks…

This one is in conversation with “If Apples Were Dappled And Sweet,” Sara’s ode to endings and the violence of the harvest before the decline of winter, which just didn’t really blend as easily ideologically. It jarred me when I first read it, but in a true way, resonating with the abruptness of the end of bee-loud glades and dappled shade that makes a summer… To everything there is a season and a time, and today it’s time to bring in the apples and wrench the honey from the hive, and it’s gonna get messy, there will be a lot of rage (largely from the bees) and it might get loud. Leave off the idea of bringing in the sheaves with some light rejoicing – even vegetarians end up slaughtering the peace a bit to bring in the harvest:


this, how it begins:
goodbye. redden, crumble, dry
swift twist, snap, an End
as daylight bleeds from the fields,
harvest is waged ’til it yields

Poetry Friday is hosted today Poetry Sister Laura, whose round-up is right here. You can check out Sara’s poem here, and Cousin Mary Lee’s is here, and you’ll find Tricia’s here. Andi‘s poem and Kelly’s poem is here. Michelle’s tanka is here; Linda B’s is here. Carol’s autumn offerings are here, and Irene’s poem is here. Even more Poetry Peeps might pop in throughout the day, so stay tuned for a round-up of links.

I’m flat exhausted right now, but the last week, we had the first nights in the low fifties, and they were exquisite. Summer is dragging her skirts, kicking up the last fuss, but remember, perhaps soon – this too shall pass. Paz, mis poetas.

{pf: the poetry peeps build a villa(nelle)}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

You’re invited to try our challenge in the month of August! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing after the style of Jane Yolen’s eight line, unrhymed poem, “What the Bear Knows,” a poem written in honor of her 400th book, Bear Outside. Our topic is What the ____ Knows, modeled here by Joyce Sidman. Maybe you may know something other than what a bear knows. Maybe you know what the finch knows? or what linden trees know? maybe fishing creels? …mailboxes?! Are you thinking of something? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else’s) with the rest of us on August 27th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

One of the problems with pulling your theme for the month out of your metaphorical hat is that occasionally that hat might have better suited another outfit. Either we were not in the mood for villanellery this month, or we’d nearly forgotten how to write one, or we remembered there was a theme mid-villanelle – and there’s really no good way to change partners once you’ve started this dance. Suffice it to say, we each had more than a few moments of “Ugh!!!” -but in the immortal words of Sara Lewis Holmes, “What the heck, I’ve gotta have something – so here I go:”

Viva La Villa(nelle)! Sara’s poem is here; Liz’s poem is here. Laura’s is here. Cousin Mary Lee’s is here, and Tricia’s is here. Andi and Kelly are out on the beach, but they’ll come inside at some point. Heidi’s in the villa, along with Denise, writing about truth and lies. Michelle is joining with us, and Donette wrote a villanelle, too, though for a different project. I really appreciated Margaret’s jeremiad villanelle. Carol’s villanelle is here, and she’s open to suggestions to improve it. If this is your first time joining in, welcome! Other Poetry Peeps links will be dropped into the villa as I find them, so stay tuned!

Wait – whose bright idea was it to include dichotomy in this challenge? Oh, yeah, mine. ::sigh:: I started three villanelles, the first was contrasting past and future, which was fine, but sheesh, kinda grim. The second one, which I was really getting to like, started within the theme, but became completely mired in something wholly different – both off-theme and equally depressing. (This happens a lot for me when I have a repeating form. One sad thought gets bounced around endlessly.) SO! I started again, first taking time to read back over old villanelles from Poetry Seven projects in 2015, 2017, 2019 and the like. (Hmm… we do tend to hit this form in odd years, don’t we!?) I found that I often write villanelle when I’m emotional – qué sopresa, no? As I’ve mentioned, the repetition of the first and third lines, together with the iron-clad rhyme scheme tends to mimic how a thought can pound into the brain. Throughout the poem the theme tumbles over and over, end over end and if you’re not careful, you’ll get sick of the whole thing. Villanelles are really good for looking at all sides of a thing thoroughly.

My attitude toward friendship changed radically after seventh grade. After a year of false friends and being ignored en masse by almost all the girls who were once my friends, I learned to be all in, or all out – one or zero, nothing in between – if you showed the least little sign of turning on me, I’d find somewhere else to be. After eighth grade, and all the tearful promises of keeping in touch, I wondered, with a mixture of panic and plotting, what I’d do if I had to see those people again… Well. A couple of years ago, I found out… and honestly, this poem could have been my internal monologue. I imagine someone could perform this pretty well, slam-poetry style.


Hah, no – I did not come here to be friends
My seventh grade heart bled to pay my dues
Now you’re my enemy – let’s not pretend.

You called me weird – said I would never blend
I tried, but you kept shifting social cues
So no, I did not come here to be friends.

Each cliquish tween sorority depends
On “Just ignore them, girls” – words which excuse.
Now? They’re my enemies. I won’t pretend.

Do you think that’s too much? Do you defend
Your “harmless childishness” like I’m confused?
Uh, no. I did not come here to make friends –

Nor did you – no, you came to condescend.
I shrank when bullied. You grew large, amused.
An enemy, clearly – let’s not pretend
We graduate together in the end,
They sign yearbooks and cry, keep up their ruse.
Years on – I will not look to them as friends
They made their choice – I refuse to pretend.

Mmm, nothing like the smell of scorched earth in the morning.

Poetry Friday today is hosted by Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads, which has one of the cutest little cartoon icons ever. A glasses wearing sloth! It me! Hop over to find more original and shared around poetry to kick off your weekend right. Don’t worry if you’re still mad over junior high – or your last job. It’ll pass, and if not, you can use it as fodder to make art which amuses you, if nothing else. The best revenge is living well – so take joy in your survival. ☮Happy Friday.☮

(NB: My mother would want me to add the caveat that poetry is a game of the mind, and I don’t really believe in enemies as a concept, just super difficult people, and of course I was perfectly chill and polite to former classmates, just… perhaps more chilly than my usual chill… Don’t worry – my ancestors remain unashamed. K? K.)