{npm: solus 24 – p7 gets the skinny again}

As long as March seemed to last, I find it astounding indeed that the end of April seems to just abruptly have been thrust upon us. How is it the end of the month already!? What a long, strange trip it’s…being. Maybe it has something to do with it being a leap year… time is flinging us into a future we cannot imagine, and it keeps catching us off guard…

Meanwhile, Laura reminded us of our poetry meet-up this month a little earlier, and I’m grateful – most of us right now are having a hard time keeping track of what time of day it is, and whether or not we’ve bathed and eaten, much less trivial things like calendars and plans. My Poetry Peeps joining us this month are Andi, Laura, Tricia, Liz, Sara, and Rebecca. We wave hello to Kelly and John, who are elsewhere, deep in the quarantine outback, the requisite six states apart. (Or, something like that. Whatever works, you guys.)

Now more than ever, it seems we were prescient with this year’s poetry forays – seeing as our goal was EASY and “more refuge than challenge.” Oh, how we all need a refuge just now. We’re back this month with The Skinny – the eleven line form first invented in 2005 by poet Truth Thomas. You’ll recall the first and eleventh lines can be any length, and use the same words, in the same order or rearranged. The second, sixth, and tenth lines are identical. (Skinnys have a linked form, which would be amazing to play with if any of us had spare brain cells – this year, we do not.) And all other lines but the first and last are a single word – thus the name of “skinny,” as they appear rather narrow. (Fiddling with the font helps this appearance as well.)

…if we define essential, what is it? Is it what drags us upright in the morning? What brings us to our feet, instead of slumped in our seats, staring out at the rain (or snow – that was a shock for some this week)? Is it what extends our arms with care – or with coffee – for another? What defines essential? What underpins our routine, our neighborhoods, our society?

What it is that gets us up in the morning?


…how quickly might we learn to live without it?

To hit pause on those deep (or disquieting) questions, amble over to Wondering & Wandering, where Poetry Friday today is hosted by Christie Wyman. This weekend, friends, gather what is essential to you… and share it.

{npm: solus 22}

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

– Mary Oliver

Greenock 18


above, peaceful, still:
here bright, chaos, constant,
Earth spins us. Tethered
we dance between rivals. Called,
we fly – relearn letting go

{npm: solus 21}

My aunt passed away this morning, so I’m floundering. I didn’t know her well, though she was my youngest aunt – we were always in two different phases of life. When I was two or three and she was finishing junior high. When I was in junior high, she was a young mother on the other side of the country. We missed each other like that for most of our lives; regardless, she was still a part of my family, and my history, and it is confusing to on one hand have the familiar loss, and on the other hand, this present reality…


the known rituals –
family gathered, casseroles
caskets and singing –
disrupted by pandemic
a life passes, and… now what?

{npm: solus 15}

Noticing a rush to define “after.” After this is over. After we get our lives back. Makes sense; we all are longing for life to go back to “normal,” but normal is part of what placed us here in the first place. Maybe we should change our focus… Maybe we should cease looking for things to go back to “normal” and take this moment as if our metaphorical vehicle is up on blocks? What parts of the engine can we rebuild to make it work better?

(Also, I’ve done a whole half month of haiku… and now it’s on to tankas for the last half, I guess? Seems fair.)

Netherlands 2018 1039


what makes things normal?
what does it mean to “go back?”
what would it change, if
the direction we chose next
began with a sharp U-turn?