{pf: poetry peeps serve up…something}

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

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of December! Here’s the scoop: we’re thinking outside of the BOX. Or, maybe into the BOX? Freely indulge in any kind of poem, but our theme is a box, boxes, or even boxing. Maybe you’ll try a 4×4 poem, creating another kind of box? Whatever your desire, let BOX inspire! You have a month to craft your creation and box it up on December 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


This is one of those fun poetry assignments that I wish I had more time to do, but — as I write this, it’s Tuesday, kids, and I volunteered to make something complicated for Family Thursday, so I need to get started, AND we’re supposed to take actual with-a-tripod family pictures and I have to dig out the requisite color theme (navy and white this year) AND I said I’d write a mini reader’s theater and bring games I have yet to unearth, I, who moved house five weeks ago, AND I still haven’t done my Actual, Real Work this week, and who was it that who cheerfully got me into all this extra busyness? Oh, right. …Me.

::sigh::

Well, writing to you from the future, I know you managed to get all you wanted to completed – including a poem to add to our roundup. These turned out to be a little harder than many of us expected, but I’m excited to see how Sara’s turned out, and Laura’s, as well as Mary Lee’s poem here. Kelly’s cooking up poetry here. Tricia’s poem is here. Liz’s poem has recipe is here, and Linda M. joins us here. Jone’s poem(s) are here. Margaret’s poem is here, and Carol V’s poem is here. As their food comas wear off and their families and guests ebb and flow, more Peeps will check-in throughout the course of the weekend, so stay tuned for the roundup. If you’d like even more Poetry Friday goodness, join the gathering at Ruth’s beautiful table @ There Is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town.

And, past me eventually found my recipe… and I was pleased that it didn’t turn out as saccharine and twee as I feared it would. Here’s to the footlight flutters, the little singers practicing their dreidel songs and the ones who just go on stage and freeze. Here’s to the older ones who wished they had practiced that one tricky measure just a little longer, and to the ones who can’t wait for the curtains to rise. Winter concert season is upon us all! As my days and evenings are now filled with music, I wish the same for you. Wear a mask as I do, and get out to at least hear an outdoor brass ensemble, okay? It’ll do your heart good…

Recipe for a Winter Concert

Prep time 3 months ♦ Concert Time 2 hours ♦ Serves the Soul

AUTHOR’S NOTES:
For best results, prepare.

DIRECTIONS:
Take one set of singers, seasoned.
Hydrate.
Stir lightly into a stew of scales –
Do – Re – Mi- Faaaa – ahem – aaaa
Gently stretch vocal chords until pliable.
Hydrate singers. (Drain.)
In listed order, add airs, ballads, and madrigals.
(For spice, a single shanty is more than sufficient.)
Layer in lieder and carols. Add a pinch of recitative.
Repeat.

Gather six part strings to four parts horns
add two parts timpani. Reduce to a symphonic syrup,
And measured notes into voices, sprinkle in beats
Until the mixture gels. Repeat.

As soon as music caramelizes, then
Combine the sound of twenty-one strings –
Lightly – against a single oboe’s song.
Simmer until sour notes shimmer, sweeten.

Add a prepared chorus, steeped in song
And stir fully.

For Topping:
Fold individual human beings
Into an audience –
Scatter applause until covered.
Whisk up the curtain,
And slice the baton
Through the waiting air –
And serve it forth.

Nutrition Information:
Makes one concert.
Serves the heart,
Feeds the soul.
100% fat free! Contains endorphins.

Best enjoyed with open ears
(and well-fitted masks.)


Happy Days of Deliciousness in whatever form they arrive for you.

{pf: poetry peeps definito… definitively}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of October! Here’s the scoop: We’re doing a Dansa! Its opening quintrain (5 lines) is followed by quatrains (4 lines), with a quintrain rhyme scheme of AbbaA and the quatrain bbaA. You’ll note that A repeats because the opening line of the first stanza is the final line of every stanza, including the first. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on October 28th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Definition poems are nothing new, but I like this Mordhorst Definito, because it’s not just defining a word, it’s playing with words, which is a singular joy. The rules are pretty simple, and while it’s supposed to be free verse, I felt, um, free to rhyme a tiny bit. Others of the Poetry Peeps felt free to do other, smarter things. Check out Sara’s poem here, and find Laura’s poem here, and Tricia’s is here, while Liz’s poem is here. Kelly’s poem is here, and Mary Lee’s is here. A delightful number of folx joined in the fun today, and all hail, Queen Heidi’s Mordhorst Definito is here! Molly’s definito is here, while Rose’s definito is here. The Lindas are in the house, with Linda M.’s nebulous definito here, and Linda B’s definito here. We welcome Carmela to the Peeps roundup with her definito. Margaret’s definito is here, and Carol V’s is here. Even more Peeps will check-in throughout the course of the weekend, so stay tuned for the roundup.


We joked in my critique group this month that it’s just the months that end in -ber that cause us so many scheduling problems… and it’s truer this year than many. With everyone jumping aboard the Obligation Bus, one has to be deliberate about making time for things, including poetry. Since I missed my scheduled hour this weekend, I was already behind in finding my words, and I wanted to do something less complicated than my brain usually chooses for me. I told it that no, I wasn’t going to try to define perspicacious or itinerary in poetic form. I even, regretfully, passed on panache, although I adore that word. I decided to go small. Really small…

Minus even a mite
Not a dab nor a dram
The next thing to nothing,
A nip’s all I am.
Not meal: morsel. Not cookie: crumb.
A last speck of bacon,
A wee shred of plum.
Think of a particle
Left in the fridge:
Place it on a plate…
Now you have a SMIDGE.

(I mostly amused myself with that one, especially because speck is also a ham derivative of some sort.)

I have to admit that somewhere out there someone may still not quite count “smidge” or “smidgen” as a word, so I went for something a bit more traditional which doesn’t speak its definition quite so onomatopoetically:

Picture
some
water, or perhaps
a lake:
Pure flowing,
Pristine, cool,
& free to take.
People come, parched
& piqued, peeling, sun-baked:
Find them a fountain! Then
their thirst
will slake.


Aaaand, that’s not technically a definito, because it’s not really defining the word either. I feel like I need to play with Definitos a lot more before I’m doing them right. My first attempts were basically regurgitating the thesaurus, and I still feel like there’s a bit of that going on, in my first one especially. Being more playful is difficult for those of us who are always looking at the rules and ONLY the rules; however, there are few enough rules here for this form to be something fun for students to attempt. I will have to try again…

There’s more poetry abroad this autumn-touched morning (friends: it is chilly. Since it was SO HOT in this state just weeks ago, this is still deeply delightful) at Tab’s place, The Opposite of Indifference. Take joy in warming up in layers of words this weekend.

{welcome, poetry peeps! the roundup is here!}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of September! Here’s the scoop: We’re drawing a form from within our community and doing a Definito. Created by poet Heidi Mordhorst, the definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which itself always ends the poem. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on September 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Welcome, Poets, to the liminal season, where we are on the threshold of seasons, standing between the last gasp of summer, and the first breath of autumn. The Poetry Sisters’ challenge this month was a good one for a moment of transition, as it was a new-to-us form called the Bop. Created by poet Afaa Michael Weaver, the Bop is a kind of poetic argument, with the first stanza setting up a complaint, the second expanding on it, and the third either providing resolution or a narrative of a failed resolution. You can read Laura‘s poem, Mary Lee’s, Tricia and Liz’s poems here. Michelle K. joins us here. A few more Bops might pop up throughout the weekend, so stay tuned.

For more Poetry Friday offerings, and to share your own click here. Thanks for stopping by.


With my affection for the villanelle and the sestina, you’d think I’d be at ease working with a refrain, but perhaps it was something about a group-sourced refrain (hat tip to Poetry Sister Sara) that tripped me up. For whatever reason, the refrain in the Bop seems wholly separate from the stanzas… so much so, that I ended up hitting a wall at the end of my first stanza. Suddenly the fourteen-syllable lines seemed clunky, and the beats fell oddly. I started over, trimming my lines, but then the rhyme felt forced. Another draft, now completely unrhymed, but the internal rhythm and more polished language of my lines felt off when faced with that casually worded refrain. Isn’t that just the way it goes when you have a poetic form you’re certain will be simple? Eventually I got it to where I was …just done messing with it. I left the rhyme imperfect, with an off-meter step near the end of each stanza to signal that repeated refrain coming to pause the discussion again. Reminding myself these poems are meant to be exercise and not perfection, I stumbled and limped into my imperfectly perfect topic… housekeeping.


Click to enlarge

(Ashes to Ashes, and) Nuts to Dust

Disorder settles like the dust
Drifts into velvet piles
In quiet corners. Laundry Lurks,
disheveled. All the while
Freedom peers in through glass panes
Begrimed by birds. It waves hello….

Let’s kick that can down the road.

“Filthy” is not the kind of word
That tells the tale. There’s no mildew.
The difference between “clean” and “neat”
is miles apart. The follow-through,
Is that perfection never lasts:
A moment’s lapse, and things explode.
Chaos comes roaring, moving fast,
disrupts, dismays, and discommodes…

Let’s kick that can down the road.

Through window streaks you’ll see sunrise
And sunbeams dancing on the air.
A wrinkle will not scandalize
A meadow when you’re walking there.
That cabbage moth’s not judging you,
So, take today, get out and go.

…And kick that can down the road.


Just now, we all have so much to do – classes to start, books to buy, odd socks and lunch dishes to find, dust bunnies to rout, and water bills to pay. I hope we can find a moment to take stock and figure out which cans can be kicked down the road indefinitely – and which cans are absolutely only for right now, and must be cracked open immediately to let the full fizz of life bubble out. Carpe diem, poets. Don’t let that just be a catch phrase, life is way too short. Grab all the joy that you can – and splash it out. Happy Weekend.


(Commenting snafus: Commenting issues are an artifact of a sometimes aggressive spam filter. If your comment seems to vanish, it likely got caught. No worries, I’ll fish it out shortly!)

{pf: the poetry peeps rise}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of August! Here’s the scoop: Get on your flippy poodle skirts, your tough leather jackets and penny loafers; we’re going to The Bop. A form created by poet Afaa Michael Weaver at a Cave Canem summer retreat, this is a poem with three stanzas, each followed by a single repeated line as a refrain. The first six lines presents an issue, the second eight line stanza discusses it, and the third six lines resolves it, and/or discusses the failure of resolution. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on August 26th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


The truth is, I never really give acrostics much weight as a poetic form – even phrase acrostics. It’s possible it’s because they’re so often used as elementary school art projects, where every kid finds a positive word to go with each letter of their name. Though I do like them, and the Poetry Peeps and I have messed around with them before, they’ve never really taken off as a form I’ve mastered. They’re simple, but… sometimes a little too regimented for how I’m feeling.

When Tricia selected a poem for us to take a line from for our poems, I think we all thought, “Okay, taking a line from a poem we already know? This’ll be easy.”

Yeah, that just shows what our past selves knew. No. No, this was not easy. In fact, using an utterly iconic poem like “Still I Rise” was immensely, fiendishly challenging. Additionally, a few of us found it difficult to separate the poet’s intention from our own poem – especially a well-known poet who lived during our lifetimes. This is Ms. Maya, y’all. This poem has spoken to generations of people with clarity and joy – we surely weren’t going to mess with that.

…well, obviously, we did, though I will say the good thing was that we read the poem repeatedly. I made it hard on myself by pulling the second-to-worst line in the whole thing to work with (the first worst is about having diamonds between my thighs; I’ll happily leave that one to someone else). A random line would work best, I thought, so I closed my eyes and picked…”You may kill me with your hatefulness.” …Great.

I did try to write from that line. I got halfway through and it was getting both long and depressing, and the internal rhyme felt forced. I tried a double acrostic, but those work best with really short subjects – which wasn’t what I was working with. I had to go away and come back several times and fiddle, fiddle, fiddle with word choices and order. I don’t often write a poem I’m happy with in a single sitting, but usually I can at least manage an entire draft. Not this time!

Finally I gave up, which was honestly the wisest choice. I don’t think I can write a good poem about hatefulness yet – not the way I tried to approach it. (ETA -*And here is where I forgot it was supposed to be a PHRASE acrostic…. oops.) Frankly, I’m sick to death of people’s hatefulness and could do without all that for a bit, so I switched to the important and meaningful part of the poem to me – “But still, like air, I’ll rise. Get on with your trifling hatefulness anyway. I’m over it – literally.

One of the ways I worked on creating rhyme within the confines of an acrostic was to record myself (ugh) reading it over, and over, and over. Here’s the last recording I made – it’s a really helpful (if dorky sounding) tool in the poetic arsenal.

I still don’t like the title – it really isn’t much of one – but I’m thrilled I finished with something meaningful, grounding, and largely coherent. I’ll take it.


I’m excited to see what Liz has come up with, if Sara joined the girl gang, and what Laura wrote at the lake. I’m looking forward to finding out what Tricia dreamed up, which one of the probably forty-three that Mary Lee wrote she ended up choosing. Here’s Michelle K’s beautifully upbeat take, and here, Carol V. shares another classic acrostic. Thanks so much everyone for playing along! More Poetry Peeps will be added as the weekend progresses, so check back later for the full round-up.

Meanwhile, Poetry Friday is hosted over at Marcie Atkins’ blog. Thanks, Marci!


Even if you don’t feel like you’re rising above like air this week, don’t forget the poem also suggests that you can rise like dust. Dust or grit is central to the oyster’s pearl, to the clouds that make the rain, and to the fragile impermanence of a snowflake’s beauty. Even the smallest of us has impact and purpose. Here’s to finding yours. Happy Weekend.

{pf: poetry peeps try to byr a thoddaid}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of July! Here’s the scoop: We’re each taking an empowering and inimitable line from Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise,” and from them creating acrostic poems. Each of those forty+ lines are available to poets to create something memorable – grounding, empowering and expansive – of their own. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on July 29th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Well, first off, you pronounce it beer ah TOE-thy’d, which won’t really help you write one, but hey, The More You Know.🌠 Second, once you get into the byr a thoddaid form, they’re… complicated? But, not actually HARD. I’ve decided that byr a thoddaid are like …long division. You might run out of attention before you finish all the steps (shout-out to my former students), but it is nothing that you cannot handle (Insert authoritative teacher-voice.).

That being said, let’s acknowledge: this seemed like a LOT of steps.

Mistakes were made. Repeatedly.

My process, when dealing with an unfamiliar form, is usually to read a ton of examples. Are there a ton of examples online that I like? No. Would I need to read them in Welsh or something to find a bunch of great ones? Probably. Did I spend more time faffing about on Google than I ought to have? Definitely. I kept thinking I HAD it, when it turned out I was forgetting the near rhyme and just concentrating on the end rhyme. At one point, I rhymed everything to the first stanza, which …could be done, I guess, but wasn’t one of the options listed. I finally pulled off a tiny one, but like that long division, it took longer than I felt it should have:

The season spills a thousand scents,

As summer twilight, liquescent

Shimmers, igniting dreams undreamt. Such light

Sparkles through stars at night.

So, that felt… like a good start, but then I heard people were making two stanza poems from their stanzas, I felt I ought to step up a bit. Also, it was time to pull out the Canva and make-believe I knew what I was doing…

Full disclosure, these are from my backyard nectarine and plum trees, but one of the loveliest things about this area is the many, many sidewalk fruit trees, and of an evening, you will see families – small children, whole rafts of folks in the national clothing of their home countries – with boxes, bags, little red wagons and step-stools, all out to get stone fruit for jam, for eating out of hand, to dry it, and more. It’s …it makes me feel like SOMETHING is going right in the world. Friends, I will gladly take this one thing.

Want to see the attempts of the peeps who also assayed this adventure? Tricia’s is here. Sara’s is here. Laura got inspired here, and Liz’s link is here. Cousin Mary Lee’s is here. Michelle K.’s poem is here. More Poetry Peeps will be added as the weekend progresses, so check back later for the full round-up.

Meanwhile, Poetry Friday is hosted by Catherine, at Reading to the Core. Thanks, Catherine!


And here it is, the end of a week, when just days – or hours – or months ago, you never thought you’d get here. See how much you’ve done with what you’ve got? Remember — like long division, life is nothing that you cannot handle. Take that deep breath of summer sweet, and hold fast. Happy Weekend.

{poetry friday: p7 string, rope, thread, chain…*}

I set up this post Tuesday morning, trying for an upbeat tone despite still processing the hate crimes shootings on May 14 and 15 in Buffalo and Southern California. By Tuesday night, I couldn’t face writing something else – I have no words. Today is for poetry, not tragedy, so I’m posting what I have. Perhaps other words will come later; right now there is only… a soul-deep heaviness.

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of June! Here’s the scoop: We’re doing byr a thoddaid! Yes, it is INDEED a Welsh form, good guess. It’s got more than a few rules, so buckle up, Buttercup: 1.) A byr a thoddaid is a quatrain or series of quartrains, divided into two combined couplets. 2.) One couplet contains 8 syllables for each line with an aa end rhyme. The other couplet contains 10 syllables in the first line and 6 syllables in the second. 3.) The 10-syllable line of this other couplet has an end rhyme near the end of the line (but not AT the end). 4.) The 6-syllable line of this other couplet has a link (either rhyme, alliteration, etc.) to the end word of the 10-syllable line and then an end rhyme. 5.) Additionally, the couplets can appear in alternating orders like a traditional quatrain. WHEW. Are you in? (Are you scared?! I am, not gonna lie.) You’ve got a month to study up on the rules and craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on June 24th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Since my last post, I have packed for and gone on a vacation which required an airplane (and many hours with a mask. MANY hours. But, it worked), crashed my computer (which gave me some panicky moments with three Works In Progress, let me say), then crashed Himself’s computer because we connected it to MY drive (oops). Additionally, I’ve been juggling two volunteer projects, and the micro-managing director makes me regret every moment, plus I got one of my best friends involved, and she’s suffering through the micro-managing too. Ugh. Can we still blame the pandemic for everything? Y’know what? I’m just going to do so. I have been at the end of my rope, people, and I’m not even kidding. So, when I remembered our poetry theme this month was just a poem using the word “string, rope, thread, or chain,” I snickered, wondering if I was being tied up, tripped, or hanging on.

Well, I’ve decided it’s all of the above, though I’m thinking the rope and chains are mostly bent on tripping me. Still, I’ll hang on…(and volunteer for fewer things)

It has been such a blurry, busy month that the Poetry Sisters crew didn’t even get to hang out on our usual Zoom – so I’m super eager to see what everyone’s doing. Make sure you visit Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect, Sara @ Read Write Believe, Kelly @ Art & Words, and Michelle @ More Art 4 All is here with twine, while Carol @ Beyond Literacy Link finds that thread binds us. More Poetry Peeps will check in on this challenge during the weekend, so stay tuned for a full round-up.


Want more? Poetry Friday today is hosted by Linda at A Word Edgewise, and you’ll find lots of other lovely poetry to brighten your Friday there. Thanks, Linda!

Hang in there, friends — even if you feel yourself dangling by a thread… tie a knot, and hold on. And if you have to drop, it’s all right to let go and fall – those who love you have got you.

{pssst! poetry peeps!}

Hey, Poetry Peeps! Since this month’s challenge is an ekphrastic dodoitsu – the humorous short poetry form with four lines, a 7-7-7-5 syllabic pattern, and topics on love or work – I thought I’d share an ekphrastic image or two for inspiration. You can find images anywhere, but the Poetry Sisters just dumped a bunch from their individual phones into a central pot. And now I’m sharing a few of mine, which you’re welcome to use or ignore:

Hope this is useful. See you March 25th when we post with the tag #PoetryPals.

{pf: p7 make exquisite corpses! er…}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of March! Here’s the scoop: We’re doing an ekphrastic dodoitsu! The humorous dodoitsu form has four lines with a 7-7-7-5 syllabic pattern, and its topics are usually love or work. There’s lots to riff on wryly about love and work, right? Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to a.) find an image for ekphrastic inspiration, and b.) craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on March 25th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Yes, poetry peeps we will indeed make exquisite corpses! Eventually. Wow, that’s just not a sentence a well-placed comma will save, is it? Oh, well…

This exquisite corpse challenge was one I wasn’t quite sure about to begin with — I’ve tried writing exquisite corpse short stories before, and it’s like the worst sort of Mad Libs. Our group has a bunch of rule followers in it (*raises both hands*) so we tend to try to counteract that by being light on the rules. We didn’t try for patterns or anything – each writer was responsible for a single line, and that was that.

The Poetry Sisters came up with an order of operations – who starts, who finishes, do we want a topic or a pattern, or how are we doing this? – and then the texts begin to fly.

Liz: Okay, here’s my line. Wait… I might want to shorten it, if you haven’t started yours or sent it on…?

Me: Oops, too late.

EC Group Draft

This month, odd one out, running short on days and sleep,
This month, past meets pride, roots ripped from native soil still somehow grow.
The once-bright future dims. Shadows grow
But there, near canyon rim, in broken light
the yearling hawk shrieked in futile fury
and the steel-edged clouds looked away
trees bow and bend on a blustery day
that rattles old oak leaves down the street.


The imagery is stunning – broken light through canyon rims, yearling hawks, steel-edged clouds and trees bowing and bending. A rattle of leaves on asphalt finishes us – and we’re moving out and away from where we began.

This month, Liz begins, and then gathers images of time and light and rest — things from the natural world as well as things which are impacted during this winter month. I echoed the same two words as I began my line, because I am all about the pattern and though we had decided against sticking strictly to one, I couldn’t help myself. I also assembled elements from the natural world as well as adding symbolic elements from February – the Lunar New Year, celebrated largely by Asian communities, and Black History Month.

…And then I passed my line on…

… to Kelly who is Anarchy with aquamarine hair. She was not here to follow my lead – and I honestly, I couldn’t expect her to be. For those following along, the whole point of the exercise is Different lines, even though I was clinging with my teeth and my fingernails to Same.

::sigh::

This comes up time after time after time. Some of us are deeply uncomfortable with things like blank verse, unrhymed verse, long or prose poems, and a lack of guardrails in the form of meter and syllabic requirements… and the rest of us like to construct our plane while it’s taking off. It often makes collaborating on a single poem very difficult (witness that we haven’t attempted that since…2018?), but it also often gives us unexpectedly strong results when doing something wholly off-the-cuff and new… like this.

And helpfully (?) the second step in our exercise was to… revise and resubmit. Rotate, wring, and repeat – and snip these phrases free like decoupage. Take this cloth and from it cut a whole new dress… Yes, I think we’ve exhausted our metaphors, but look how awesomely we did it! – Laura’s version is here, and Liz came up with this. Sara’s variation is here, and Cousin Mary Lee took a whole new direction. Andi‘s variation is here, and Kelly’s edited us here. Michelle K joins the fun and even brings a band. Carol V. worked in another variation on a Corpse and played along as well. Finally, Tricia’s poem is here, and she’s hosting the rest of the Poetry Friday crew this week, probably (hopefully?) sans additional corpses. More Poetry Peeps may post throughout the day – I truly can’t wait to see where else this project takes my fellow poets – so check back as we round up all the …um, corpses. (Cue lines from Monty Python: Bring out your dead…!)


We had a great group of words, to begin with, but it took a while to feel comfortable cutting anyone’s lines – even though we all agreed that we were wholly free to fold, spindle, and mutilate the original. Eventually, I came up with an initial stanza:

february.

It’s this month – odd one out,
Running short on days and light and sleep,
All this month, past meets pride,
Roots ripped from native soil still grow by leaps,
And rising, shriek defiance like a hawk,
That dervished by the wind, still grips its rock.

(It was brassy-loud and bold, and I liked it – but a few of us had talked about writing a new draft another day, to see how the lines and words moved us in a new moment… so, I waited. Sure enough, Wednesday, I didn’t feel like that bright and brassy winner, so wrote a new stanza:)

As this month’s brightness fails,
Emergent beauty stripped to steel-edged gray,
Shadows, grown bolder now
Erode late winter’s crisply bright display…
As sabers rattle, we get Cold War chills,
In broken light sift scraps to find goodwill.

Not the most… upbeat conclusion. Here, the fresh wind doesn’t rattle us and turn us around. The emergence of brightness has shifted to steel-edged gray. But, even broken, the light persists.

San Francisco Zoo 21

Now more than ever, when things feel like a tsunami about to break over our heads, we needs the world of words to warm us, nourish us, and keep us going. So friends, as always, tell your stories. Write your poems. Say your piece, and sing your songs. Be well, and do well. Stay warm, in this last gasp of winter, and find the peace and beauty in this world – and as always, don’t forget to share it. Happy Weekend.

{pf: poetry peeps eavesdropped & overheard}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of February! Here’s the scoop: We’re doing Exquisite Corpse poetry. These collaborative poems necessarily involve yourself and at least one other passing lines or stanzas along, so now’s the time to start choosing compatriots. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on February 25th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Seeing as I’ve stayed in lately, I was fully prepared to use the random conversations the neighbor has with the postman for my “eavesdropped and overheard” when I overheard something wholly unintentionally. The Boy was on a work Zoom with a coworker that turned personal. A young female in a male-dominated field, she was desperate for advice over what to me seemed a clear case of workplace harassment. I won’t recount details, but a single line I couldn’t erase from memory. She said, “I don’t want to ruin his life forever.”

You can imagine the angst and dread in her voice as she said it, and my chills as I heard it. “Ruin” is the same hyperbole used in the 2016 California court case when a judge handed down a six month sentence to a man who assaulted an unconscious woman. As his whole life shouldn’t be ruined, he was given six months – of which he served three. “Ruin” is a word used for thousand year old civilization remains, for catastrophic damage after a tsunami, not for a person being confronted with the consequences of their actions. I wanted to tell my husband’s young coworker this and so many, many other things… but it was neither my conversation nor my business, so I poured the words into a poem.

(Thank goodness for poetry.)

I searched first for a form that had repetition, and the pantoum lent itself neatly, as the thoughts I had bounced around in different order, sometimes making sense, other times making new ideas. I suspect all the reasons, defenses, excuses and facts bounced through this woman’s head as well. I’m not sure I like all the lines equally… I’m not sure that I wouldn’t, a day or two later, want to say something else, but this is a pantoum written in a single, heated, emotional moment. It’s all I have to bring today— This, and my heart beside—

NO: A Choice in Two Voices

Does a single choice shape every endeavor?
(Without your consent NO still means no.)
“I don’t want to ruin his life forever.”
(Your choice belongs solely to you, you know.)

Without your consent, NO still means NO –
No negotiation, this two letter word.
Your choice belongs solely to you. You know
If you change your mind, your “no” will still be heard.

No negotiation, this two-letter word –
No need to ever defend those letters.
If you change your mind, your “no” will still be heard
You choose, so you’re still the pace-setter.

No need to ever defend those letters,
“I don’t want to ruin his life forever…”
You choose, so you’re still the pace-setter
This single choice could shape every endeavor.


There’s an awful lot of poetic scuttlebutt being passed on the interwebs today. Laura’s poem is here. Cousin Mary Lee is over hearing over here, while Sara is here listening. Liz is is right here. Miss Andi’s beautiful tribute is here. Here’s Michelle’s artful and art-filled post, and here’s Carol V’s. More Poetry Peeps may yet be stopping by, so stay tuned.

Need more? Poetry Friday today is hosted by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Thanks, Irene!


Happy Weekend – it’s sometimes a cold, hard world out there as we all know. Keep warm, keep well, and keep going, friends. You’ve got this.