Sunday, April 20, 2014



Whatever comes out of today's NaPoWriMo prompt should be interesting. It's "to write a poem in the voice of a member of your family." This is followed by various warnings, ie. feelings could be involved. No kidding. Like, what could possibly go wrong? Still, I'm feeling resistance on this one. 

I keep thinking of family members whose voices I could borrow: Dad? Either of my grandfathers, neither of whom I remember meeting because they died when I was a baby? 

Speaking of babies, what about the one I miscarried? I seem to be leaning towards borrowing a voice that is no longer on the planet. 

At least, not that I can see. 

What Became of Me

I can't say it wouldn't have been fun,
you and your crazy friends,
your unexpectedly doting families.

What was it my father said,
"just take it to my mother; 
she's always wanted a grandkid."

And I'd have loved her, too, 
her market garden stuffed with produce,
her prize-winning peaches, 

the way she'd drizzle balsamic vinegar
over thick slices of tomatoes
that lounged seductively on lush green basil.

You really weren't ready for me,
your party days at a zenith, 
less than no money in the bank,

and my father—seriously, 
what would you have done 
with him in your life forever?

Still, I appreciated those few weeks 
I spent with you. I know I was wanted.
It was I who decided against staying.

As for what became of me—
I live on as occasional memory.
It's all any of us can do.


Saturday, April 19, 2014



* Peruvian Hat * Snout Otter Clam * Strawberry Top * Incised Moon * Sparse Dove * False Cup-and-Saucer * Leather Donax * Shuttlecock Volva * Striped Engina * Tricolor Niso * Triangular Nutmeg * Shoulderblade Sea Cat * Woody Canoebubble * Ghastly Miter * Heavy Bonnet * Tuberculate Emarginula * Lazarus Jewel Box * Unequal Bittersweet * Atlantic Turkey Wing *
What are all those, you ask. They are the genesis of today's NaPoWriMo prompt. Someone in the prompt department got ahold of a comprehensive guide to sea shells, and these are some of their names. Who knew? And someone in the prompt department promptly got the idea to lay some of these names on us and suggest we write a poem including some of the names. However one would want to do that. 

Lunch With An Ex at the Snout Otter Clam Pub 

Remember when you asked why I had
a striped engina and I had to turn away
to hide a smile before explaining that the word
was vagina and why did you think it was striped,
anyway? Oh, the confusions that can arise 
when a word is mispronounced, misunderstood.

And now here we are. We receive our libation 
in a false cup-and-saucer. I have decided, unilaterally,
 to call those wizened bumps atop my bra
 a strawberry top, to go with the muffin top
couched lower down. A veritable meal on the torso,
I don't even have to go out. The sparse dove of truth
flies around our heads, looking for a place to land. 

The shoulderblade sea cat prepares to pounce 
on the Atlantic turkey wing, just off the coast 
of some celebratory meal or other. Although we are
unequal, bittersweet is the way into the Lazarus jewel box
that lurks beneath the incised moon, your Peruvian hat
looking svelte and prickly alongside my heavy bonnet.

I hear you're driving a Shuttlecock Volva now.
Me? I have an old sedan I call Woody Canoebubble
because when I drive it in the rain the floor bubbles up. 
(I named it Woody after you, as a joke, you understand.)
And that jacket, the one hanging on the bedpost, 
is it leather, you wonder? If you dunno, donax. 


Friday, April 18, 2014



Did you know that several ruba'i are called a rubaiyat? I sure didn't, until today.

This, from the oracle (aka NaPoWriMo):

"Today I challenge you to write a ruba’i. What’s that? Well, it’s a Persian form — multipe stanzas in the ruba’i form are a rubaiyat, as in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Basically, a ruba’i is a four-line stanza, with a rhyme scheme of AABA. Robert Frost’s famous poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening uses this rhyme scheme. You can write a poem composed of one ruba’i, or try your hand at more, for a rubaiyat."

So, without further ado, here goes either a ruba'i or maybe a rubaiyat. We'll see. (Not to worry; it won't be as long as Omar's.)



Back in the north I put on warmer clothes
my skin is dry, the sun tan leaves my nose
I look at pictures of the beach down south,
try not to let myself become morose.

The cat is glad to see me, wants to cuddle
at night I beg a fire round which to huddle
tequila I've abandoned; now it's tea
the climate here has got me in a muddle.

I go for walks but miss the waves' refrain
instead I have to put up with this rain
that falls and falls and turns the garden green
and makes the walking muddy in the lane.

And I think that's as far as I'm going with this one, having already done one blogpost today. Time to go out for a walk, I think. A brisk one that will get me warm!




National Poetry Month was celebrated big time in Nelson last night when Jane Byers launched her first book of poetry.
Steeling Effects, published by Caitlin Press
Jane gave a wonderful reading to a crowd of around sixty people.
I met Jane three or four years ago and it was truly a delight to see all her hard work come to fruition in this lovely collection. In it you'll find poems about work (her background is in corporate health and safety), about her kids (as engaging a pair of six-year-olds as you're likely to find), about being gay, about family and friends and one extremely powerful long poem titled Vigiles in which stanzas examining the role firefighters have played throughout history alternate with quotations from firefighters who survived the World Trade Towers' collapse that is worth the price of admission all by itself.

Otter Books was busy selling books that all but flew off the table!

Jane signed books until her hand all but fell off.
Jane writes intelligent poems punctuated by humour and a keen eye for detail. Steeling Effects takes its title from a term used to describe how coping successfully with stress or adversity breeds resilience, something many of the poems deal with one way or another.
Afterwards there was a wee celebration with cake.

The collection ends with this poem written for a friend's birthday.

for Betty Daniel, 90 

Long twilight,
almost unnoticed,
until the glacier and the endless day you took for granted,
are gone—
your hand a silhouette.

There is relief in darkness:
sag and wrinkles invisible,
expectations of the day evaporate,
like low-hung clouds
giving way to a half-moon belly dancing on water,
not to be compared to the light of afternoon.

There are moments of sparkle in the darkness—
the firefly, the flame,
that also bring warmth,
mingled with memories
of your full life.

At this hour, you risk delight.


Look for Steeling Effects at your independent bookstore, or order it through Caitlin Press or, well, somewhere, but give it a read. It's great!


Thursday, April 17, 2014



Today’s (optional NaPoWriMo) prompt is to write a poem in which you very specifically describe something in terms of at least three of the five senses. 

I have to say, I'm really having fun with these now. I compose right on my blog, tweak only ever so slightly, fire it off into cyberspace with barely a wave. Poetry month is just great for making me not take my poet self too seriously.

Piano-Cat Rain Dream

Under the delicious warmth of a duvet, 
sleek as the aubergine its cover mimics,
I waken in the still dark morning to rain. 

Not a flash flood spilling from the dark sky
as though poured from a celestial bucket, no, 
this is the distinct plink of a bored child hitting a piano key

over and over and over, the slow knock of a tired flicker
on too-hard wood, the drum of an impatient finger
on a counter when the clerk is taking too long on the phone.

This rain slides down the drain pipe, spits cat-angry
at the bottom, hence the steady    plink     plink     plink
that rouses me from dreams of 

what? They're gone now, washed away by this infernal din
that spills to ground in a silvery swoosh, a terrible trickle
smelling of trees, wind, and the asphalt roof. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014



From NaPoWriMo, today's prompt is as follows: "...the basic idea is to write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie. Your lies could be silly, complicated, tricky, or obvious."

Ten Ways of Looking Out the Window

Baby, baby, I was not born this way, I was expelled from the earth's core like raison bread.

Time to renew your membership is to dance a solo polka down the mountain path.

Sloppy bog walks are best done in the highest of high heels.

Truth is no way to treat a tumbleweed.

I came, I saw, I conquered, I bled, and in each moment books were read.

Sagebrush country makes me long to trip about in bare feet and a helmut.

Oak leaves are best in a stew of words and wisdom, mashed or crumbled, matters not.

Find the way to the moon, slide back home on a milky river of wayness, too soon too late.

Greet the pigeons purposefully to ensure your fern digging goes well.

There are knives here, and ropes, and whirlpools waiting to take us all down.


And now on to the real fun of the day. Sorting out income tax paperwork. Yee-ha!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014



The ides of April is upon us. And for today's adventure in scratch something down, we're to "write a poem in terza rima. This form was invented by Dante, and used in The Divine Comedy. It consists of three-line stanzas, with a “chained” rhyme scheme. The first stanza is ABA, the second is BCB, the third is CDC, and so on. No particular meter is necessary, but English poets have tended to default to iambic pentameter (iambic pentameter is like the Microsoft Windows of English poetry). One common way of ending a terza rima poem is with a single line standing on its own, rhyming with the middle line of the preceding three-line stanza."

Thank you, Dante. Although it could be worse. It could be a glosa. I'm just not feeling particularly rhymey tonight. 

Terza Rima Terror 

it must be time to turn out lights and sleep
morning comes early, so many things to do
I search for words that wind up in a heap

can’t find pure rhymes; they manage to allude.
A starved-for-air balloon, my brain caves in —
if inspiration doesn’t come, I’m screwed

time to let it go and get the sleep I’m craving