Thursday, December 27, 2012

Remembering Day

For my sister, Vicki.

Remembering Day

This day
used to be
your birthday.
I gave you presents.
Lit candles to mark
another year of life.
Filled up on cake.
This day is now
the anniversary 
of your birth.
I miss
your presence.
Light a candle
in honor of
your life.
Try to fill up
on memories,
but the hunger
never ends.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Photo Tuesday-Journey

Thanks to Becca Barray for Wordsmith Studio's Weekly Photo Prompt-Journey. 

My photo represents a journey delayed. Yes, the first significant amount of snow in Kansas City in about two years fell on the day I was supposed to leave town for the holidays and knocked my departure back one day. However, I got the news when I was safe and warm at home so I was able to stay that way! Following is the photo:

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Buffalo Cuisine

Before Buffalo Wings became the rage, Buffalo was known for a special roast beef sandwich. Although it is now overshadowed by wings, beef on weck still is  very popular.
I once brought kimmelweck rolls back to Kansas City so some of the world's best roast beef could meet up with these great rolls. Unfortunately, kimmelweck rolls don't have a very long shelf life so they weren't at their best by the time we arrived.
Maybe that is one reason the sandwich has stayed local to Buffalo. I do hope that Santa will bring we one over the holidays.
Beef on Weck
I’ll have a
beef on weck.
A beef on what?
A beef on weck.
What the heck
is a beef on weck?
A kimmelweck roll,
hard and salty,
stacked with roast beef
with horseradish, please.
Never heard of it!
Oh, I’m not in
Buffalo anymore
am I?

Don't forget to check out  Wordsmith Studio's Weekly Photo Prompt.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday Photo-Cold

Is there something that makes you feel cold just by looking at it? Lara Schiffbauer challenged us to present a visual representative of cold in this week's Wordsmith Studio Photo Prompt.

Well, I grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. so when I hear the word cold, I think of winter. Now, of course, winter in Buffalo is usually associated with snow, but there is another image that makes me think of the cold of winter. Whenever I see bare trees against dark clouds, I can't help but shiver. Maybe it is because I expect snow to fall from those clouds or I remember the chill wind off of Lake Erie. Anyway, here is a photo that makes me feel cold:

It's not too late to join in the fun! Take a picture that represents cold to you and post a link to it in the comments on the blog post at Wordsmith Studio.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Grief and the Holidays

I volunteer with a bereavement support group. One topic that garners alot of discussion each year is handling the holidays.
Those who are facing the first holiday season after a loss face many emotions. Some want to continue their celebrations as they have alway been, but worry that they can't replicate celebrations of the past. Others want to make things as different as possible, but may feel guilt at leaving traditions behind.
As with all facets of grieving, there is no one answer that works for everyone. Perhaps this first year, you may keep a few trraditions going and let others lie dormant for a year or two. Maybe you never start them back up or maybe you replace them with something new.
When my mother's Alzheimers progressed to the point at which she could no longer bake Christmas cookies, I began making a couple of her recipes. It has been more than 12 years since that happened. I am still  a reluctant baker. I put off doing the baking as long as possible, but, in the end,  I am always glad that I do it.
Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone remembering a lost loved one this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Photo-Sky

Wordsmith Studio photographers were looking up for this week's photo prompt as Becca Barray challenged us to photograph the sky. I started looking at the sky during my morning walks, and I was amazed at the beauty that enfolds there everyday. Now, whenever I am outside, I make sure I check out what is happening in nature's big canvas! I am never disappointed.
We were under alot of cloud cover this weekend in Kansas City.

Fortunately, the sun did come out long enough for me to catch this cloud pattern on a beautiful blue background.

It's not too late to join in the fun! Take a picture of the sky and post a link to it in the comments on the blogpost.

Related Links

Photography Craft-ISO

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Thursday, December 6, 2012


Nutcrackers are one of my favorite holiday decorations. I don't really know why.
I can't say I inherited my appreciation of them. My mom didn't collect them. She did, however, buy bags of nuts that she shelled and used in a variety of cookies. I remember sitting and watching her when I was young. Of course, when I got old enough, I was handed a nutcracker (the metal kind) and joined in the work.  Maybe I make an association between good times and nutcrackers.
Whatever the reason, I love to look at the displays of nutcrackers during the holiday season. Oh, and naturally, make a purchase every so often.
Some stand tall and
guard the palace.
Some are small enough
to hang on the tree.
They may be soldiers or
athletes or even a celebrity.
No matter how they are
dressed or what their
profession may be,
all the nutcrackers
are enchanting to me. 

What are your favorite holiday decorations? Do you have a special memory associated with them?

Check out this week's Wordsmith Studio Photo Prompt:

Take a Picture-Sky!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday Photo-Seasonal Songs

Thanks to Bolton Carley for this week's Wordsmith Studio Weekly Photo Prompt. Bolton challenged everyone to take a photo inspired by a carol or famous lyric from a holiday song.
As soon as I read this prompt, I thought of the carol "O Christmas Tree". The tree I want to salute is a ceramic one that was made and given to me by a neighbor from my childhood. Helen was an artist in many ways. She was an amazing gardener and a wonderful cook. She could knit and crochet. She also painted china. I remember when she gave one of her ceramic Christmas trees to my mother. Then, one day several years later, she gave the one pictured to me.

It's not too late to join in the fun! Take a picture inspired by a seasonal song and post a link to it in the comments at Wordsmith Studio.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

PAD Week Four-No More

The end of the 2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge  is upon us! Tomorrow is the 30th and final day.
I'll miss having a new prompt served up first thing each morning. Thanks to all of the poets who shared a prompt for this month's challenge. This was a new twist. I enjoyed being introduced to members of the Poetic Asides community this way and look forward to continue visiting some new blogs.
I also hope to keep the writing momentum going by providing my own prompts. I have a long list of ideas that I've been keeping. Now its time to start crossing them off the list by turning them into poems.
A few of the prompts this month involved using lines from poems by other poets or from other poems we had written. That reminded me that I have some random lines and groups of lines in a list and in various notepads. They should keep me busy, too.
Of course, it would be nice to have a prompt from someone else every so often. Fortunately, Robert Lee Brewer provides a prompt on Poetic Asides each Wednesday. He also sneaks in a form challenge every so often. Thanks, Robert.
Following is my favorite poem from this challenge. I think it is my favorite because it is about a topic and place that have become very special to me through poetry.

Still Sweatin’

the music they say is dead was so alive, it sweated.-Mbembe Milton Smith

The music still sweats
in a familiar place
a room known as blue
in the mecca of
18th and Vine
in a building that
keeps it alive
where the greats
are enshrined
and a new generation
gets it start
Congratulations to all the writers who participated in a writing challenge this month! What did you take away from your challenge?
Give the following link a click:
The Big Yellow Taxi Tour from Lara Britt's Writing Space (This is a must read for Joni Mitchell fans!)

Take a Picture-Seasonal Songs
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Photo-Out the Window

Wordsmith Studio's Weekly Photo Prompt is Out the Window. This prompt is courtesy of  Veronica Roth.
I had fun going to different windows and really taking stock of what I could see out of each one. I had a general idea, of course, but it was interesting to take a really good look at the detail. Below is my selection for this prompt.

There's still time to join in the fun! Take a photo out of a window and post a link to it in the comments section of the link above. Rebecca Barray is creating collages from the photos that are submitted.

Don't forget to check in at Wordsmith Studio's Multi-Media Blog every Thursday for a new prompt.

Related Post

 Collage from the Shadows Prompt

Photography Craft-Shutter Speed

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

PAD Week Three-Weary Poetry

Well, I finally fell behind in the 2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge on Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog. I'm optimistic that I'll be able to catch up by the end of this weekend.
We had a really interesting prompt on Day 18--the glosa. This form was used by poets of the Spanish court in the 14 and 15 centuries. Start with four lines from another poem. Write four 10-line stanzas. Line 10 of each stanza is one of the four lines from the epigram. Lines 6, 9 and 10 rhyme.
This was really a challenge for me because short poetry is my niche. For me, this form was like writing about 4-6 poems. It didn't come naturally to me, but I got through it. In the end, I enjoyed this prompt.
And far into the night he crooned that tune.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed.
While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
-Langston Hughes, “The Weary Blues”

The man was weary, but couldn’t rest.
He knew what brought on the restlessness,
but he didn’t know how to still it, how to chill it.
Instead, he went along with it, let it lead the way.
He ventured out into a cold, crisp night,
thinking his journey would end fairly soon.
His pace matched his state, quick and jumpy.
Suddenly, the air carried music to his ears.
The notes seemed to come with their own wound   
And far into the night he crooned that tune.

Although the song was weary, too,
it gave him a rhythm with which to move.
He walked through the streets to the new beat.
Now, he couldn’t seem to still his feet.
He traveled farther then he had planned and
realized his senses hadn’t been atuned
to the passage of time, the distance he covered.
He made his return in the dead of night
and wished for the speed of a character in a cartoon.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The music remained his companion
as he headed home that night.
He found the music soothing
even though it was a lament.
He found the words came easily
as he snapped his fingers with each tread.
Before he knew it, he was unlocking the door.
He had left his restlessness in the streets
and his soul had been well feed.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed.
So, what had he accomplished
by wandering in the dark?
His circumstances hadn’t changed.
His problems still existed.
Yet, he had found something
 that could help him shed
the anxiety that had stalked him.
As he drifted off to sleep, he let
his new found peacefulness spread
while the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday Photo Post-Shadows

I had the pleasure of choosing the prompt for  Wordsmith Studio's Weekly Photo Prompt. This week's prompt is shadows.

Here's a look at what created the shadow mural I posted in the prompt.

Let's not forget you can find interesting shadows indoors, too.

There's still time to join in the fun. Watch for the shadows. You may be surprised what you see. Take a picture of one and go to the link above to comment on the prompt page.

Related Link

Photography Craft-Aperture

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

PAD Week Two-Halfway Through

Wow! It is hard to believe we are already halfway through the 2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge on Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog.  I still feel like I am keeping up better than I did with my first challenge in April. I have been trying to stick with the technique of writing about the prompt until I write my way to a poem. This seems to work for me.
This week, we called on dead poets, wrote from the perspective of veterans and about technology we don't have. I wrote about jazz, a memory from high school and time travel. We also were challenged to use a word from a different language as a title or in the body of a poem. A word immediately came to my mind because I learned it from another poet and friend.

Un Abrazo

A hug sends a message
through the arms and hands
right down to the fingertips.
Welcome-arms that have been
spread in anticipation
thoroughly engulf the recipient.
Swaying may be involved.
Congratulations-there is a
firmness to this hug that says,
“You did it!”
Consolation-the two participants
truly hold on to each other.
There may be a reluctance or
an inability to let go.
Love-The one message sent
by every hug.

Click here to read other responses to this prompt.

And, don't forget to go to Wordsmith Studio's Weekly Photo Prompt

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Photo Post-The Jump Shot

This week's Wordsmith Studio Photo Prompt (courtesy of Emily McGee) is The Jump Shot. The challenge is to take pictures of people jumping.
For a photo challenge earlier this year, I took some photos of myself while I was walking. I decided to try the same thing while I was jumping. Since I needed to mulch the leaves in my yard, I thought I would jump into them before I got to work. Besides piquing the curiosity of the neighbors, I did get a few pictures.

I'm sure you won't be surprised when I say it was a lot harder to take a picture of myself  jumping than walking. Even though there isn't much of me in the picture I chose, I kept coming back to it. Everytime I look at it, I feel like I'm ready to hit the ground.

There's still time to join in the fun! Take a photo of someone jumping  and post a link to it in the comments section of the link above. Don't forget to check in at Wordsmith Studio every Thursday for a new prompt.
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

PAD-Week One Done

One week and seven poems into the 2012 November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge at Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog. This month, I am a veteran challenger as opposed to the rookie I was in April. I think I have benefited from the experience.

I seem to have more patience with the tasks at hand. I don't get stressed if I don't have an idea as soon as I read the prompt, which I do in the morning. At least once, I didn't have an idea until late evening; but I wasn't anxious about it. Definitely, a change for the positive.

A couple of Wordsmith Studio friends, Linda G. Hatton and Veronica Roth, stopped by Tueday's Photo post and mentioned that the photo fit with the PAD prompts to write a "left" poem and a "right" poem. I took their suggestion and wrote the following:

Right Turn

The right road isn’t
paved with perfection.
It bends and dips and
sometimes closes for repairs.
Detours take us out of our way,
but eventually bring us back
to our path of choice, both
weary and wiser.

On to week two. Stop by the challenge and see the prompts and the works they have inspired. Join in the writing and/or the reading!

Related Post-Wordsmith Studio's Weekly Photo Prompt

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Tuesday Photo Post

If you explore the right-hand border of this blog, you'll see a badge that reference's the Wordsmith Studio. Wordsmith Studio grew out of the April Platform Building Challenge on Robert Lee Brewer's My Name is Not Bob website.  This recent post by Lara Britt gives you a little history and introduces you to some of the people who have gotten this new website off the ground.

In addition to writerly groups, Wordsmith Studio has a multi-media group that includes writers who also are interested in photography. Rebecca Barray is our photography guru. The Multi-Media blog will include posts regarding craft and a photo prompt that will be posted each Thursday. I'm going  to post my response or responses to the prompt on Tuesdays.

The first prompt is Orange.  I photographed one of the most despised orange signs in existence, especially if you come upon it unexpectedly and you are already running late.

There's still time to join in the fun! Take a photo related to the theme Orange and post a link to it in the comments section of the link above. Don't forget to check in at Wordsmith Studio every Thursday for a new prompt.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A New Challenge

Today is the first day of Robert Lee Brewer's 2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge. He will post a prompt each day in November and those willing to take the challenge will try to create new poems from the prompts within about 24 hours of the post.

I did the PAD Challenge that Robert did in April of this year. It was the first writing challenge I had done and I found it interesting.

 The first thing I realized was that, most of the time, an idea was not going to come to me the moment I read the prompt.  It was not going to come to me if I stared at the prompt or even if I thought really hard about the prompt. I had to write the idea out of the prompt. In other words, I had to start putting words down on paper until I wrote something that I wanted to continue writing about.

Some days, I ended up with just a few lines. Some days, I ended up with a group of lines that had the potential to be a poem; and some days, I actually ended up with poems. I still go through what I wrote during that challenge to see if I can turn the few into groups and the potential into poems.

So, now I'm ready for a new challenge that will teach me something else about writing and give me possibilities for the coming months.
Good luck to everyone who's taking on a writing challenge this month!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

William Blake-Words and Images

Sometimes you do find treasure on the internet.

I was reading about William Blake in preparation for the October Sunday Salon at The Writers Place. The Salon is held the third Sunday of every month and hosted by Sharon Eiker. A different writer is discussed each month. Attendees take their own approach to learn about the life and works of each writer and share their perspectives.

Blake was both a visual artist and a poet. As this biography on explains, he expressed an interest in painting at the age of 10 and his parents sent him to drawing school. At 14, he was apprenticed to an engraver and was assigned to sketch the tombs at Westminster Abbey. He saw a variety of Gothic styles that he used as inspiration throughout his life. He went on to become an engraver and illustrator of books and magazines.

As I was looking for information about Blake, I hoped to find some of his poems and images. I didn't expect to find the William Blake Archive. I urge you to take a look for yourself to learn about this still-growing resource. I will give you a tip. After you have pulled up an image, hit the compare button.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Poetry in Photos

This month, a new exhibit opened in The Changing Gallery at the American Jazz Museum. It is called Beyond Words {A Fusion of Poetry (+) Visual Art (+) Jazz}. If you are like me, you will want to go to this exhibit, which remains open until April 26, 2013, several times because you will take something new away from it each time.

I have been working with combining poems and photographs since early 2011.  The poem and photo are distinct pieces that are being viewed together. The poem is an entity in itself and can stand alone.

After visiting the exhibit a couple of times, I created a new piece using the same photograph and elements of the poem. In this piece, the words and photo are truly joined.

How you ever created visual (or concrete) poetry? Would you be willing to give it a try?

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Conventional Wisdom about Social Media

I guess for me seeing is believing. Like many people, especially of my generation, I have entered the world of social media begrudgingly, participating some but never truly embracing it. That changed earlier this week when I attended the 2012 NACWAA Convention in Kansas City.

At this multiple-day event attended by hundreds of people, I could observe how the organization promoted the use of social media, primarily Twitter, and the response it got. I could also read the individual tweets and see what elements other people chose to highlight about an experience I was sharing.

Based on both observation and presentations I heard, here are a few thoughts I came away with:
  • There will be some trial and error in building a platform.
  • Platform building also will take time, and therefore, patience.
  • You can tell a story even if you only use 144 characters.
  • An important part of a platform is helping others.
So, I think I'm finally ready to embrace the use of social media. How about you?

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Memories in the Air

I'm having a really bad allergy season this fall. Sometimes, especially when one is grieving, I think memories can be like an allergan. I was feeling that way when I wrote the following.

Memories Alert

Memories are in the air.
Create an emotional smog
that permeates the atmosphere.
Fill the lungs
but can't be expelled
no matter how hard we exhale.
Get in the eyes,
produce tears and
blur the vision.
Relief has to be self-generated.
After all, we are all responsible
for what we put
into the environment.

Related Post-I Keep You with Me-Looking at Grief with Verse

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Poetry and Brass

When I was in 4th Grade, I took a test at my elementary school to see if I qualified to take music lessons. The instrument I said I wanted to play was the trumpet.

I didn't qualify to be given a trumpet by the school; but was told that if I owned an instrument, I could still take lessons. My sister had taken violin lessons so....

My career as a violinist ended after three years, but my love of brass
instruments continues today. Last Friday night, I had the opportunity to go to the Blue Room and hear Delfeayo Marsalis on trombone, Sean Jones on trumpet and Bobby Watson on saxophone. Engulfed in some of the most beautiful sounds I'll ever hear come out of those instruments, I had to write something.

Love Notes

Take to the air
propelled by breath
blowing horns
released by fingers
plucking strings
created by sticks
hitting drums.
Circle the globe
spreading the message:
Jazz is a love note
to the soul.
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Poetry to the Moon

Night Visitor

Search for that
first glimpse of you.
Where will you appear?
High in the sky or
along the horizon?
Will you be full
and bright or
a shimmering slice?
Height and form
don't matter.
There is comfort
in seeing you
shine each night.

Related post-Eclipsed

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Writer's Retreat

I spent this past weekend on a writer's retreat in Arrow Rock, Missouri, that was offered through The Writers Place. The topic was ekphrastic writing.

Ekphrastic writing is defined as writing inspired by visual art. We pushed the envelope a little bit by using a play as our inspiration. We saw a wonderful production of "To Kill A Mockingbird" at the Lyceum Theatre. Congratulations to the cast and crew for a job well done.

Before the show, we discussed ekphrastic writing and our experiences with it. Afterwards, we were filled with ideas. Some shared work that evening or the next day. Others will wait until we gather again.

We had other inspiration during the weekend. We walked to the river and were immersed in history and nature. We ate at a tavern that is more than 170 years old.  Of course, we were inspired by each others works, talents and support.

Thanks to Sharon Eiker for putting this great weekend together. This is the second retreat that Sharon has hosted. I thought I would show you a couple of comparisons from last year and this year via photographs.
Log by the Missouri River 2011

Log by the river 2012

Face in the rock 2011

Face in the rock 2012

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Writing to the Nines

I'm not quite ready to give up writing about poetry forms. I'm going to go back a little more than a month when Robert Lee Brewer put out a call for Nonet Poems on his Poetic Asides blog.

The Nonet begins with a line that contains nine syllables. The following lines each decrease by one syllable so that the ninth and final line only contains one.

At the time this blog post appeared, I was in Canada visiting my brother and sister-in-law. They took me to see the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. We saw many works by Canadian artists know as The Group of Seven. One of my favorites from the group is Lawren S. Harris. I chose to write my Nonet about my reaction to one of his paintings.


The painting turns liquid before me.
Suddenly, the water seems real.
I want to dip my finger
into the clear blue pool.
Let the fluid chill
me to the bone
while sunlight

See Robert Lee Brewer's latest challenge-The Haibun

Another poem from my summer vacation

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jazz Haiku Ensembles

This is the ninth, and final, week of Khara House's Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge. Thank you, Khara, for helping us learn about both poetry forms and our own writing.

Being the wonderful teacher that she is, Khara had us review all we had studied during the first eight weeks in order to complete this week's challenge. The final challenge is to create a form of our own.

This year, I have found myself reminding people that haiku is an important segment of jazz poetry. To that end, my form is the jazz haiku ensemble. Following are the guidelines:

1. The subject of the poem will be something related to jazz (person, place or thing) or contain elements of jazz.

2.  Each stanza will be haiku and the minimum number of stanzas is two (a jazz haiku duet).

3. I won't hold you to the common 5-7-5 line length, but each haiku may have only 17 syllables.

4. The last stanza must be an American Sentence, which we had to write as part of last week's challenge.

Since August 29 is Charlie Parker's birthday, I wrote the following jazz haiku trio in his honor:

Bird’s Song

I hear Bird’s songs play.
He has been gone a long time,
but never left us.

Silky saxophone.
Bird could make it swing or moan.
Made Bebop the rage.

I wish he had been with us longer in body as well as in soul.
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Poetry One-Liners

This week, Khara House's Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge focuses on what I would call poetry one-liners. The challenge is to write several monostiches and American Sentences.

The monostich consists of a single line that should be self contained. Following are a few of my attempts:

Life is the ultimate improvisation.

Creativity has a mind of its own.

The notes played at 18th and Vine drift through the world.

The American Sentence is a variation of haiku invented by Allen Ginsburg. It is a one-sentence poem consisting of 17 syllables. Here are two I wrote:

The soul speaks in words and images even when we do not listen.

Sound may soothe or shock whether it is made by symphonies or cymbals.

While working on this week's challenge, I learned that simple does not mean easy. Give these forms a try! I think they are made for the Twitter generation.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Prose Poem Made From Stone

We're in week 7 of the Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge. This week's form is the Prose Poem. It's a poem written in prose or prose written poetically. I'm leaving the explanation to Khara House at OLJ.

For inspiration for this week's challenge, I decided to look through some of my photographs. (I'm sorry. I just can't help myself.) I chose one that I took in Arrow Rock, MO, last fall. The poem tells you what I see in the photograph.  What do you see?

Made of Flint

The stone visage looks out from the rock. It’s features have been chiseled over time. Perhaps a piece of one eye helped guide an arrow to its mark. Was a splinter from the cheek large enough to spark a fire to keep travelers warm? Did the chin split when a father collected a souvenir for his son? The face shows that life leaves scars and it wears them with dignity.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Poetry Form-Pleiades

We're into the 6th week of the Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge. This week's form is the Pleiades poem.

The rules for this form are:

  1. Seven lines
  2. The title is (usually) one word
  3. The first letter of each line is the same as the first letter of the title (alliteration)
Click here to go to Our Lost Jungle for more detail.

Here's my attempt. Yes, I've been watching the Olympics.


Visualize your goal.
Vivid images take shape.
Valient effort is required daily.
Vanquish your doubts.
Vow to do your best.
Victory comes in different forms.
Value the journey.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Poetry and Photography

About a year ago, I decided to get a new camera. I hadn't been taking many pictures in recent years, but I thought I might try to take some to pair with poems I had already written. As I began taking pictures, I found myself writing new poems inspired by some of those pictures. That is ekphrastic poetry-poetry inspired by visual art.

Last week, I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Ontario. We walked some beautiful nature trails. The poem below isn't really an ekphrastic because it was inspired by the walk. However, I knew I had a photograph that would go with it.

The Climb

The path appears
straight at first,
narrow but smooth.
It turns toward the trees,
filled with exposed roots
and hanging branches.
It will take you to the brink.
When you look over the edge,
the beauty of the valley unfolds.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Poetry Form Challenge-Lento

This is week four of the Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge. This week's form is the Lento. Click the link to learn more about this form.

For me, the most challenging requirement for this form is rhyming the beginning of the lines. This is the first time I have tried to work with this rhyme scheme so maybe it will seem easier the more I work with it. Maybe it is because of my journalism background. The lead, the beginning, is critical. It sets the tone for the rest of the story. I think the rhyme at the beginning forces you to structure the line around it more than an end rhyme does. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Here are this week's two entries:

Afternoon Dip

Water warms my soul.
Wetness cools my skin.
Waves buoy my heart
when I dive in.

Concern floats away.
Calmness moors.
Consternation is
kept on shore.

Growing Pains

Bright sun shines on the fields.
Light warms the plants and the soil.
Height of the crops signifies growth.
Might be worth the sweat and toil.

Rain hasn't come for awhile
Bain of life on the farm.
Gain the strength to withstand
pain caused by the alarm.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jazz Haiku

This is the third week of the Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge. This week, Khara House challenged us to write haiku. If you review the guidelines Khara laid out, you will see that she didn't restrict us to the 5-7-5 format. However, she did have us stick to the traditional subject of nature. (By the way, I have mended my ways. I turned my haiku in early.)

About two years ago, I took a jazz poetry workshop from Glenn North, the poet-in-residence at the American Jazz Museum. In a post I wrote shortly after the workshop, I noted that haiku is a large segment of jazz poetry. Since then, I have noticed that jazz haiku is rarely mentioned in general discussions of haiku. I think it should be because, as Etheridge Knight said:

Making jazz swing in
seventeen syllables AIN'T
no square poets job.

So, here is one original piece:

Sarah started at
the Apollo, but finished
Sassy and too soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Poetic Meter is Running in the Wrong Direction

Khara House started a form poetry challenge on her blog, Our Lost Jungle. The first challenge was to work in iambic meter. Khara explained " Iambic meters are broken down into a “foot” [also called an iamb] of two syllables, the first unstressed and the second stressed (like the word “about”)."

I guess you could say I got off on the wrong foot when I started working on my poem. I suddenly had no unstressed/stressed words in my vocabulary. Every word that came to mind was the opposite. I  thought about tweaking a few words like "on LY" or "le EFT", but decided even poetic license didn't allow that.

I needed a distraction. What, I tried to remember, is the opposite of iambic? Is it amibic?  Actually, it is trochaic meter and the trochees were winning by a landslide.

I took a break for a few days. The finished product is below. I'm sorry its late, but I was having a little trouble with my feet.


Ablaze, the flames
traverse the land.
The trees, the homes,
the towns consumed.
But still, among
the ash remains
a will-resolve
to recreate.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Poetry and Baseball

Major League Baseball's 2012 All-Star Game will be played in Kansas City this Tuesday, July 10. So, I decided to do a search of poetry and baseball. Would I find anything besides Casey at the Bat?
The answer is yes!

One poem I found of particular interest is  Baseball and Writing  by Marianne Moore. Although Ms. Moore moved East at a young age, she was born in St. Louis, the other Missouri city with a Major League Baseball team. She later lived in New York and became a Yankees fan. Many of the players she mentions in this poem were the first major leaguers I remember.

She speaks of both excitement and uncertainty in both baseball and writing. Think of all the things that can happen each time the pitcher releases the ball. Think of all the choices writers have when facing a blank page. The possibilities are endless.

Other links:

Baseball Almanac-Baseball Poetry

Baseball and Verse, from Tinkers to Evers to Big Papi

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

John "Buck" O'Neil

Our Lost Jungle Poetic Form Challenge

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amelia Earhart

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.-Amelia Earhart

My adventure of writing poetry met up with Amelia Earhart's adventure of trying to circle the globe in late 2009. I had been writing regularly for only a few months when I went to see the movie, Amelia. I ended up writing two poems that were inspired by the movie.

July 2 will mark the 75th anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Another search for the remains of the airplane and other artifacts is scheduled to begin.  Will one of the greatest mysteries in American history finally be solved?

Related links:

Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum

The Earhart Project

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