Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Poetry changes in the twentytwenty

My poems used to be like lightning or at least predictable as static from running in tap shoes on a soft carpet. This year I didn't make the goal of doing more poems than the year before--a cyclical goal that brought me from 30 to 50 poems last year. Instead, I worked on a new book Puss 'N Bootes. After that intense 40 days of creating that book, some of the poems brand new I had a burst of new thoughts and the tiny poems afterward were different. It's as if now I write crock poet poems. I set them out to bake. I let them incubate. Here some of the precious scraps found in journals on leaves of paper and notes, and online that were dredged out on rafts from this long, very long year. I only painted one painting and it is on it's way to California with a friend who is so inspired by art. 

The clouds are rolling 

And the sky is full of dice 

And I don’t know what 

A kind heart is like

I am a comet

flinging through space

my veil, cold water,  

and as I swing

around again I

look down 

at the earth 

and wonder what

It would be 

like to





You think poets arrange words 

You think poets arrange words 

like a nosegay of flowers, stalks in hand. 

You peer in my palm hoping to find a gem. 

But I tell you—Look deep. There, in the life line. 

You see that sand? Poems are what is left over when I

stop to open my clenched fist, and laugh.

Sometimes I write poetry 

by waiting for gems to emerge 

I dig them out of the dirt. 

brush them off set them aside

And hope for a complete set

Other times they fall from the sky 

like comets and there 

with a blazing tail 

I wonder that they came to me


I've lost a lot of poems under

the gas pedal

I tuck them there

so as not to let them get

away when they bounce

in through the car window

mid horizon

crystal white

with flecks of

grey tree

but that is always the

wrong place to

put them, under

your feet.

No, you must

invite them

to sit beside

you, tuck

the seat belt

around them

and offer them

a sip of



I’m the last bumble bee 

well there are two of us

Both bachelors, no queen. 

The earth has grown silent 

without her humming

And when I think 

of the world turning 

Without her song 

Her busy insatiable joy 

the sun grows cold and each

flower shivers. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

New Book Release is a smooth stride from the lyrical daily offerings of the practiced poet 2020

I’ve been super blessed to be a part of this group for a year now on FB. Delightful and real to have poetry friends. And I’m honored to be one of the 23 poets from around the world featured in this annual collection. I’ve heard this book compared to sitting in a hammock with strawberry lemonade. So that is my new life goal to sit down with this book and drink a tall glass and find a moment to restore. I hope you’ll order one too. Co-edited by #jamesbenger. I hope you’ll enjoy it and let me know what you think. Order online. Proceeds from the book sale go to #opperationbreakthrough Helping Kansas City families since 197. Funds from the sales will go to a local nonprofit to help children in need of www.operationbreakthrough.org. “Operation Breakthrough provides a safe, loving, and educational environment for children in poverty and empowers their families through advocacy, emergency aid, and education.”

So honored to be a part of this intimate and thoughtful collection; I'm one of the 23 poets included. Find five of my poems here, one that can't be found anywhere else is my homage to the simile an exercise I will be teaching in my upcoming workshop. I enjoy these active poetry friends. The online group has been such a great supportive and encouraging group to be a part of! Thank you for your daily dose of lyrical journey! I always say that being around poets is the only time I feel normal. The editors have been so inspirational to me in narrative and short prose forms. 

"The 365 collections are remarkably consistent in delivering everything you can imagine. In fact, reading through 365 Days, Volume 3 is like lounging in a hammock, strawberry lemonade at hand, while the winds of poetic voice buoy you from heartache to bliss and back again. Every page is a refreshment. Hats off the editors, for compiling yet another top-shelf collection.”-Jason Preu, author and cult leader“With their different styles and themes, these poems by twenty-three different authors are like a salad where vegetables, fruits, and seeds in a variety of colors, shapes and textures come together to create a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts. The poems muse about octopus dreams and bathrooms in paradise, compare artichokes and motherhood, tell stories, recall memories. One of the poems claims “Almost everything/in life could be shorter.” Not this book.”- Agnes Vojta, author of The Eden of Perhaps (Spartan Press 2020)"

Sunday, July 19, 2020

At my Grandfather's Funeral

At My Grandfather’s Funeral


The day after Grandpa died,

we walked to the funeral parlor by twos.

There were no doves or olive branches,

just a rainbow of broken glass on the sidewalk

dark brown and bottle green

like the seed beads I strung

onto necklaces as a child.


At the funeral home

Grandma Ray smiled nervously

through her red lipstick

and handed me a packet

of Kansas sunflower seeds,

I’ve been meaning to give these to you.


Months later, my pockets sprouted--

golden heads as large as cabbages.

By fall, seeds fell out as I walked.

Blackbirds began to follow me

gathering by the hundreds.


Now I prepare condolence cards

for Uncle Keith’s daughters. I think

signing them is like signing yearbooks.

You write nice things about someone

you’ll never see again.


I slip packets of forget-me-nots inside

these colored envelopes.


Seeds cheat sorrow with life—

in a tight package waiting for water and light.


Maybe life is just a string

with different colored glass beads

of leavings and partings or seeds?

This is the first poem I wrote that began my journey as a poet. I think sometimes we create something that reminds us what we want to do or to become. It holds symbols of all the things we want to do and sometimes it's too big to use for anything useful and sometimes it's just right, like this one. This holds all the beginnings to my poems and I come full circle to talk about this again in my newest poem "Excelsior." This was published in my book "Kinglight" in 2017 and is sometimes my form that I try to find again in many of my poems to do "dream re-entry" or magical realism that people call whimsy, but it's too sad for whimsy guys! So if you find a word, let me know. 

Saturday, July 11, 2020



I abandoned this bowl of dough

flour crusting the white of my wrist,

to tell you that the world is not what you think.


You suppose chefs in nobler times invented

gastronomic creations, dishes where

deboned duck swaddles pressed pastry,

where moon shaped dumplings star.


But I tell you this--

Every woman knows in her breast

that she too with a full creative flame--

inspired by a mostly empty cupboard—

has created marvels such as these.


A woman knows a bit of dough

shaped into a heart covers over

the empty places where

there was not enough.


At sixteen, I made Betty Crocker’s

Three Cheese Chicken Casserole

without cheese-- or chicken--

I fed a family of six on faith

and a can of Campbell’s soup.


With only a bit of dough

I can make the world.

Women know we have always been

the firekeepers.


Even though a man (centuries hence)

be famed for my invention from one

barren day, I will not forget,

I am Woman.


All things began in me.

Published in my book Kinlight in 2017.

Gazing at the Windwisps

Gazing at the Windwisps


Tornadoes of blackbirds twist down

to purple clay,

touching bare fields

of dry paper stalks.


Kansas dirt, in my memory,

is always brown. 

Brown like Grandpa’s garden,

about the size of a card table.


A Southern Baptist preacher,

he would have never played cards,

but he must've planted

strawberries, because I was delighted to

swallow their bitter descendants

for summers afterward.


The night my mother

drove to Harrisburg

to find me,

she made me dig up dirt

with an old lunch spoon

from the car.


In the night’s stealth

I unburied some soil

into a juice bottle.

Grandpa wanted to be buried

in Pennsylvania soil, she said.

So we would bury some with him.


Now he walks among strawberries

the likes I’ve never seen.

I wrote this in circa 2002 when I first set out to write a book of poetry. It was finally published in this final form in  "Tea with Alice" in 2019 a book of poems dedicated to my grandparents, but first in Nantucket River Review in 2015. I worked on this set of seven poems for 20 years and finally turned it into a whole book. For a while, I considered calling it the Purple Clay chapbook because of the funny color of the soil, quite beautiful, in that area of PA. I also called it "For A Place." But finally settled on "Tea with Alice." I rephrased the ending to have the word strawberries because of the Wyandotte Tribe tradition of using this expression for heaven. I always associated my grandfather with strawberries. And my grandparents worked and lived in Wyandotte county Kansas for decades. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Emily Dickinson Rose

Musicality & Emily Dickinson Prompt

Round one: Read two Emily Dickinson Poems and notice the beginning and end sounds of words

Write as many emotions into one free-write poem as possible or a single deep emotion.


Exception: You have to write about something very, very small, insignificant-- and write without stopping for six minutes–and choose one unusual emotional verb (swoon, harp, etc.) and try and incorporate into the poem.


Round 2. Revise your free write poem by being intentional about alliterations and assonance and consonance as possible. Work in as many as you feel comfortable. Option: Rewrite the poem from that small object or animal to yourself.



They could kill

you but you’d

never know a

bud was waiting

in the roots.


And I guess it wouldn’t be a

bud then, it’s just a message

a message that somewhere

inside this death and injury

is not what it seems


that somewhere


this stump

of knots and

broken edges

and swords


will erupt a friar

green hope

first a tight fist

and then when

the sun returns

an unexpected bloom.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Cookout Comeback

Pansy’s in pots

I scoop them out

To make a hanging basket

The dog goes wild as usual

Barking at all the people 

Walking by, the kids on bicycles

It’s the 80s again. Everyone is 

Out and about. Everyone is 

Together for a stay at home


Someone has hung up my father’s

Windchime, pink flamingoes, and gongs.

That totally describes him.

But he’s been gone for six years now.

I call up the radio station

To read a poem for national

Poetry month. My voice

doesn’t shake too much.

My poem may be terrible

It may be good. Who can say?

The radio host says it’s 

beautiful. And I don’t believe him.

But I try to be proud of myself

Sitting alone talking on my phone.

I imagine the only people 

Listening to the radio today 

are the other poet’s mom and a few people 

Who are obsessed with local radio 

And driving around all day in their

Cars during the lockdown.

My brother comes over and 

For a cookout and splotches 

a chicken, Cooks it on the grill with

Hebrew national hotdogs and 

Oscar Meyer wieners. 

We have green beans 

That barely squeak and 

Underdone potatoes. 

No one eats any bread. 

This is the last time we will 

See my brother for a few weeks

Unless he goes on furlough. 

It’s a goodbye party without

Hugs but when we hold hands

To pray, I hear the door open.

Dad walks in like he hasn’t 

Been dead for years. Like

He never lost his leg, 

Or had to be in the nursing home.

Like he had never moved to Georgia.

Like he was in the 80s. Fresh 

As a pansy. With his curly hair,

Red cheeks and his pink button 

Up dress shirt. He says 

You guys cooked? I brought

Chinese for dinner. 

“Polly, I liked your poem, Sweetie.”

§     Revision Prompt

Write a poem about an ordinary day

Round one: Write about an ordinary day and emphasize the disappointment or ordinariness of the day.


Exception: Look for unexpected images or surprises that may pop up.

Round two: Look for the moment in the poem where it seems dead and bring it back to life with something that can not ordinarily happen in real life. I call this dream re-entry. Or magical realism.

Poetry changes in the twentytwenty

My poems used to be like lightning or at least predictable as static from running in tap shoes on a soft carpet. This year I didn't make...