Monday, January 11, 2010

thoughts on a wintry day

Well, winter is here for sure and I for one am glad. I enjoy this "folding in time" which is to say there are not a boat load of "to-do" items. It is a pleasure to be able to read and rest and consider the things I want to include in my writing.

In November one of my favorite poet-teachers died: Jack Myers who was my second semester advisors at Vermont College. He was wise and witty and very encouraging. I learned so much from him and continue to hear his voice in my head when I write. Glad for that too. I can count on the fingers of one hand those who have influenced my writing: Mrs. Emery (5th grade teacher), Virginia Parsons (high school English teacher), BH Fairchild (Cal State University), and Jack Myers (Vermont College). Thumbs up to these wonderful mentors.

On a personal note, I am really missing my daughters. I am not unhappy with my decision to move to the east coast, but would really love to sit around my dining room table for a wild game of scrabble, or UNO, or SkipBo. Miss those family game times. Miss my lovely girls. We should plan a girls vacation someday soon. A cruise to the Carribean would do the trick.

Well, enough for now. Write something today and don't care if it's good or not. JUST WRITE.

I hope all of you will visit my ezine at

Saturday, June 6, 2009

OK, here's the promised poem for today

29 Springs

for Bill

So we decided to marry,

put our clothes in the same closet,

eat off the same dishes, sleep

night after night together, care

about each other’s memories

and children. It was hard to do,

after the years we’d both grown dull

scabs over our hearts. After years

thinking our parents were wrong

about marriage, after years of practice

moving one foot at a time into sadness.

But it was spring and sap flowed again

in each of us like some maple

had lifted its eyes, suddenly seeing sun.

So we decided to marry. This morning,

brushing our teeth at the same sink,

we give thanks for our 29 springs.

Poets rejoice

It is a lovely grey morning on the coast of Maine as I drink my tea and get ready for a day of planting in the garden. Finally the ground is prepped and ready for the rest of my seedlings which have been waiting in the greenhouse. I am always inspired by planting. It seems to me a connection to what I do with words. That is why I love going out to the yard to write or to the greenhouse to write. I have a tall stool there and use the potting bench as a desk. If it rains, so much the better. The sound of it on the glass roof of the g.h. is so thrilling.

On a reading note, here are a few things I have been reading:

1. Usher by BH Fairchild --- just out from Norton, this new work is challenging me in ways I have not been in some time. The poems are meaty and rich, with a sense of time and urgency that leaps over actual time. I have read the poems several times each and am now making notes in the margins (I never used to do this but now can't help myself...more on this activity in a separate post)

2. Rosary of Bones by Jennifer MacPherson --- this is my second deep reading of this one--- it has been out since 07 --- I am at the notes in the margin stage with it now. A lovely collection of poems that simply take my breath away. Some of the poems have their birth in Iowa where we both studied with Michael Dennis Browne. I recognize them and smile to see how fully they have grown and how solid and steady Jennifer's hand is over the work. I am particularly fond of "Without Trees" and read it over and over along with "The Bone Poem" which is simply a fabulous poem. 'nuf said! Just read these poems!

3. Inflorescence by Sarah Hannah ---written before her tragic death. I sigh deeply here to think of all the wonderful voices silenced by suicide or cancer or ... or... or... these poems are both brilliant (in a light-giving way as well as an intellectual way) and steady. I read them and wonder "how did she do that?" which of course is the greatest compliment one can pay a poet.

4. Embryos & Idiots by Larissa Szporluk --- one of my favorite poets discovered by accident years ago in Iowa --- I recommend particularly "The Recluse" and "Twilight Wedge" both poems of surprising edginess and light.

OK that's enough for now. 

I'm signing off and will give you a short poem in the next post. It's one I wrote for the Poem A Day challenge during poetry month. THAT was some discipline. I am working now on revisions of the ones I feel want to stay in my life.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I thought I was lost but here I am!!!

OK, so with every site a new password and a new sign in process, I got temporarily lost. It won't happen again as I have written the darned thing down in a safe place!

Later a new post on the actual topic of poetry, I promise!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Sestina, "In the Margins"

In the Margins

You think it helps when the house is quiet,

no one home, or else you’d have to blot

the sounds. Keep music low in the margins

of your attention, don’t have it merry,

or you’ll have to dance to it, and end

what you want to do with your pencil.

Some people don’t even use a pencil,

think that way of writing too quiet.

They tap on computer keys to end

the constant search for rhythm. Can you blot

what’s beating in iambs, the kind of merry

feet the poem dances on in the margins?

As for me, I think in meter, margins

hold notes for revision, and my pencil

makes comments on others’ poems, merry

or sober reflections for those quiet 

times. I use my one deaf ear to blot

everything but the rhythm that won’t end.

that keeps my head in it. At poem’s end

you’ll see I’ve been dancing in the margins

all along, dipping, twirling. If I blot

out my heartbeat, what good is a pencil?

No! I’ll pay attention to the quiet

rhythms, let that music make merry.

It’s good to stay in your heartbeat, merry

thrub, ebb and flow, wait for the poem to end.

You can find poems in the spaces, quiet

places where silence speaks. In the margins

of each image, someone has written. Pencil

scratchings, or invisible words blotted.

Hold the paper up to the light, blotted

lemon juice words appear: magic! Marry

image now to verb, create with pencil

what might be fresh,  lasting beyond the end 

after you’ve slipped into the margins

of your own breath and into the quiet.

Why blot out music alive but quiet?

Why not write in your own margins, merry

to your own end? Dance on with your pencil!


Well folks, yesterday's PAD challenge really beat me up! I had not written a sestina in quite a while, so the idea of doing one in 24 hours was CHALLENGING! (DUH! it IS a challenge after all! lol)However head-stretching it was, I did it and will share it on this blog. 

What makes a sestina challenging is finding the right six end words so that the poem makes sense, can be sparkling and not just a "write to the end words" kind of sap. The one I have posted here is in iambic pentameter, not because I wanted to play with meter, but because the subject of the poem seemed to ask for iambics. You'll see. So, go kindly into this good morning of my sestina! 

Poem is posted in next post.

gone, but not gone

Mea culpa, mea culpa! I have been a BAD little blogger! Truth be told, I have been bad at this because I've been a good little writer! I am just finishing the Poem-A-Day challenge from Writer's Digest and have been really cranking them out. Now, as to whether any are good????? Well, shortly I will post a few and see. Meanwhile let me recommend a few good poetry books just out:

1. Usher, by BH Fairchild just arrived at my door yesterday and I am sure it will be good. I have looked at a few poems and it seems he is going in a new direction (for him) and I am intrigued.

2. Rough Cradle by Betsy Sholl is a nice new collection. I prefer her older one, Late Psalm, but the new work is very good.

3. Rooms and Their Airs by Jody Gladding is my top pick this time.  She really hits it with this one! I find the poems to be diction-rich and driven by a need to run into the woods and shout and cry and laugh. The poems touch it all.

So enough now. I have a poem to write for the challenge. (and yesterday's sestina to finish as well)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back from the abyss.. and grumbling

I've been sick. Sicker than sick. That will teach me for not getting a flu shot this winter or last. I am tired of being tired, sick of feeling sick. I want to go swimming. 

I wonder where all the "goop" comes from over and over as one blows, coughs, gags it up. I have bagged all the "bio waste" from the many wastebaskets in the house and sent it to the dump with my obliging husband. I have aired the house until frost started to form on the mirrors. Still I am coughing. Still I am headache-y and feverish at night. I am angry because I had planned to spend the past week writing and submitting. So today I got it together to do a couple submissions: Seacoast Writers Assoc. and Poetry Society of NH. Both are in NH and I'm thinking regional for the moment (no reason but just to do it). 

I heard that the post office is planning another stamp hike in the near future. Do they WANT us to stop sending mail and do everything online? They are really getting on my last nerve here. I instructed my hubby to please get some more "forever" stamps before the price goes up AGAIN. I need to somehow out-fox the P.O. After all, a writer with constant stamp purchase issues is not a happy writer after all. I am all for the P.O. only delivering five days a week. But don't raise the prices while considering downsizing services. "It just ain't fair" I say!  So, next month is my first social security check. Will the whole damn thing eventually go for stamps?

Spring is in the air. That is the good news. I really have to get my seeds ordered. I am ready to be outside again and digging in the dirt. I want REAL veggies. I am peeved at the quality of the crappy veg that comes to us via the stores. Once you have tasted the good stuff from the garden you are ruined forever from tolerating the stuff from the store. Organic they may call it, but it tastes like plastic to me.

OK, so you need a prompt from me, eh? Want me to stop grumbling and start writing? Here is the compromise:

Write a ten  line poem grumbling about something that is seemingly small but has gotten under your skin. 

Start with this:  Not everyone cares

Use any or all (or none) of these words: slap, heap, candy, earn, turn, wager, margin, lapse, sign, reserve

Ok, stop reading now and get writing!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Well, it's February already and there is blood in the yard. A hawk has scooped up a pigeon and there is one dead squirrel. It's interesting how the cycle of life keeps spinning, how there is always blood somehow involved. For this week, what about cycles? Is there something cyclic in YOUR life you'd like to "poem-ize?" Here are a couple starters and some juicy words to use:


It's a matter of blood


It's more than wash, rinse, spin

Words to consider using: 

patch, garish, decay, rag, flint, scoop, whirl, cinder


wring, front, lease, copper, burn, winnow, exhaust, fret

OK, now it's up to you. I will post my tries later.

Friday, January 30, 2009

weekend post

Hi all, just a quick post before embarking on a weekend of writing and knitting. It seems to me that I am like the last cell in a dying body here, with not too many folks responding or posting. Please get out the word that this is a good place to talk about poetry, a good place to TRY some poems and to express whatever is on your minds having to do with writing as art, as healing, as balm for the weak and weary world. 

Here is a prompt for the weekend:

Face, over-wintered by ___________, she sags into

Here is mine (this is a draft, done on the fly, so not so great at this point):

Mae's Rest

Face over-wintered by age, she sags into the chair
Elmer fashioned out of birdseye maple, the year they married. Its cushion 
is bare and shiny, the imprint of her permanent now. Here she nursed
four babies, loved them back from fevers and measles. The rockers 
squeak like her bones as she settles to rest in the greying afternoon. 
Ice clicks along the window, slipping to the ground and shattering, 
as she will one day.  In the moment before sleep soothes her, she sees faces 
and formsall around her: parents, husband, the babe that did not survive
his first winter. It would be so easy to go where they are, to click down the pane 
and settle to the ground. A whistle in the distance: tea is ready on the stove.  

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Poem from this weeks' prompt 01/29/09

Rue the Day the Story Ends, the Needles Grow Still

In the corner of my kitchen, a rumble
of the floor beneath me. Shudders,
a slight tremor come from the furnace
below, reminding me it's cold outside,
but giving me comfort. I am warm. thick socks
I knit myself wrap my ankles, a shawl
Nana crocheted over fifty years ago
warms my shoulders. It is a parable
that runs in my head like a serial: woolen
goods, hand-made and passed
from grandmother to  mother to daughter.
On and on, the yarn twines and binds us.
We wind the wool, slip it through our fingers,
needles flying until soft things bend to our work,
emerge with our stories woven in, our lives stitched.

Thoughts on poetry

What are your thoughts on the following topic in poetry:

the poet behind the persona

Here's what I have been thinking for awhile now: It seems to me that first person poetry has been frowned upon and labeled as confessional, personal, self-obsessed, self-glorifying, etc. I have certainly read poems that fit these labels. We all have. BUT, there is another side to this and a side I think bears discussing. Why do poets need to hide behind some idea of anonymity? If indeed we write to explore how we see the world, how we experience what the world offers etc., we ought to be able to be a bit overt about it. I am not saying that we need to give ourselves over to ruminating about our individual lives in such a way as the reader will feel he/she is intruding when reading our poems. What I am suggesting is that there are universals, places where our lives touch. We need to share those points of touch in order to feel less alone, more empowered, and to know that the human species is made up of the sum of its parts. I know that poems written with a "this happened, then this happened, and this is how I feel about that" modality miss the mark tremendously, and seem to actually exclude the readers rather than to draw them in. I read these and ask "I should care about this?" HOWEVER, these are not so much poems as they are lineated prose or worse yet, journal entries or things best shared only with family. But something as seemingly intimate as Dorianne Laux's beautiful maternal musings in Girl in the Doorway is far far far from too personal or too confessional. We can BE THERE in the house as the persona experiences the oncoming "loss" of a daughter's growing up. We don;t even need to be parents, or to have daughters. We are THERE. It is the embodiment of the event that connects us all. Yes, the poem's event is very personal. But we are brought in so that our own lives are enriched by the poet allowing us to peek, to consider, to weigh in on the universal subjects of family and loss. 

What I think then, is that our task as poets is to write in such a way as to be the poet behind the persona. We can put our lives, our very intimate lives, on the page while making sure that the poem drives itself by way of solid imagery and a sense of inclusion. 

On the other side of this coin, I get frustrated when reading some of my poems in a public venue that some listeners ASSUME the persona is me. What good poets do (I think) is to take a view of and a stance on what happens to and for others and comment in an intimate way through their poems.  What is this idea that all we write about is what we live personally? The problem then is do we allow ourselves to write widely, making sure we don't assume cultural postures that are false? Or do we stick to what we can touch, see, smell, taste, etc.? I would not presume to attempt to write poems from another culture, for example. BUT, I do think I can write with authority on topics of interest that I have sufficiently researched and come to know deeply. It's a puzzle. What to do here? Do I have to be a victim of robbery to write from the perspective of one who has been robbed? I don't think so. I can "empathize" in my poems and put my heart and mind into the scene, coming up with my own "take" on what that would be like. I can create a "character" (persona) and be in his/her head while recovering from the event. We are all alike enough to have experienced feelings of being overpowered, being violated, feeling helpless.  So, I think that we can, VERY CAREFULLY tiptoe into others' lives and make poems. I like the idea that we are all connected. We live the same lives really, flavored and shaded uniquely, but connected.
I 'd appreciate hearing from you on this.

Well, bloggers, it seems as if I am in here  with so much to say that nothing is coming forth. I want to post a new prompt for all of us to try, and to urge you to recommend the blog to other poets. It is easy to blog on this spot by simply signing on. You don't have to create your own site to blog here. But it is helpful if you are responding to a post, better than sending me an email with your try at the prompts. The whole idea of a blog is to SHARE. It is not about me here. It is about all of us sharing what we love. So, get on as a follower, subscribe to the blog (doesn't cost a thing!) and start blogging about poetry. I am going to start a topic today and would love to hear from all of you.

AND... as promised... here is the prompt for this week:

Using some or all of the following words (bend, parable, rue, grasp, tremor, furnace) write a poem in any style with the following starter:

In the corner of the kitchen ....

(NOTE: you can substitute any room or place where there is a corner)

Friday, January 23, 2009

knitting, and a prompt

Right now I am wearing (for the first time) the fingerless mittens I knitted. What a difference they make in working on the computer without my hands getting cold. I can type and be dextrous without a chill! Wonder of wonders!

So, thinking of hands, here is a new prompt:

It is a flurry of hands that she recalls

Try this as either a beginning line or an ending phrase of a poem. Go wherever the phrase takes you!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Artist Has Laid Down

The Artist Has Laid Down His Brush and is Done
                          for Betsy Wyeth  (after "The Conch Shell")

The same curtains blowing at the window, the same
wallpaper, but peeling a bit now, faded and water-stained.
The conch shell, empty as his chair, blows the same sea across
the cove of your ear as you lift it to your head like before.

Bring home the gulls to your roof with a long low whistle
from the conch, bring neighbors with casseroles, bring
the dog from his lapping the melt of ice in the dooryard.
Bring your same fingers to draw the curtains aside.

Step through each room, their creaking floors like old bones
careful and slow. Watch the leaves of his sketchbook ruffle
in the breath of the open window as if he's thumbing
them, deciding which drawing or sketch wants paint today.

The same scenes are never to be the same without his careful eye.
The conch will go silent, the chair unmoved and dusty.
Somehow a shaft of sudden sun slanting the floor won't be
the same kind of light as he saw. Even the dog will not snore the same.

People will call and ask of you now that the artist has laid down
his brush and is done. You won't answer because you are not the same
as you were just yesterday. They will ask for some small memory
of your time with him and you will say the wallpaper holds all his secrets.

A loss to the world of art; Andrew Wyeth dies at age 91

I am feeling the sad loss of artist Andrew Wyeth, who passed away on my birthday at the age of 91. His paintings have inspired many of my recent poems (the past three years of poems). I visited the Farnsworth Art Museum today and was thrilled to see so many of his earlier works which are lush with color and depth of meaning for me as poet. I was particularly captivated by "Conch Shell," which he painted in 1944 I think. I had my trusty notebook with me (of course) and penned the draft a poem imagining the painting to be emblematic of the emptiness his death visits on his family and all of us who admire and are influenced by his work. Perhaps this week we might write something about loss or write some ekphrastic poem, that is a poem inspired by a piece of art that we encounter.