Archive for Found Poetry

Golden Shovel Poems

Studio 2

This is a photo of my “studio.”  I took it to accompany a poem published by Postcard Poems and Prose.  Actually, I rarely sat here; I am at my computer most of the time.  But the idea of a desk with a typewriter and a few favorite things is very appealing to me.  Note the old Princess style phone and the Valentine made by an artist friend.  And the gargoyle from Oxford, England.

All of this has been upended by water in this basement room from a storm on July 21 that dumped three inches of rain in an hour.  Drywall had to be removed, insulation replaced and the carpet pulled up.  Repairs are underway, but it is doubtful this configuration will be repeated.  I have used the time to sort through things and make decisions about what to keep and what to toss as I re-prioritize what is important to me and what I need to have near.

As I write this, I know that people in Baton Rouge and other parts of Louisiana have lost everything due to torrential rains.  I do not feel sorry for myself at all for this minor hassle. I am grateful the damage here is contained and we have the resources to repair it.  Plus, I have had the opportunity to find many things to donate to St. Vinnie’s, The Sewing Machine Project and the local library.  If I did not want to part with something I thought maybe I could use, I kept a little and shared the rest.

This clean up has not particularly inspired poetry.  But I ran across a poem that was written in The Golden Shovel style that did inspire.  Golden Shovel poems rely on the words of a line of poetry, used as the last word of a line of new poetry.  If the line chosen has seven words, then the new poem will have seven lines.  I chose Emily Dickinson’s “Tell all the truth but tell it slant -“

A Golden Shovel Poem After Emily Dickinson

I’m here to tell

you all

that the

only truth

I know is mine but

if I tell

you, it

will be slant.






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One Hour, Eight Minutes

Boston Library Cat

Boston Library Cat

One hour and eight minutes was all it took to receive a rejection email after submitting to a publication seeking material for a triptych, a poem in three columns, commenting on itself on the side.  I was certain I had the right stuff, but the reply that zipped back said the readers just “didn’t love it enough” to pass it along to the editors. Scamps!  Judge for yourself.  (I cannot show columns in WordPress, so use your imagination!)

Column One

Qualities of a Body Parts Model

 Long fingers,

   no veins showing

 Skin free of blemishes, scars or large pores

 Legs free of cellulite

The industry’s most comprehensive catalog of Bumpers, Grilles,Fenders, Hoods, Door Handles, Window Regulators, Bumper Covers, Radiator Supports, Mirrors, Headlights, Tail Lights, Cornering Lights and more!

Whoops.  Wrong type of part!

Unusual Parts – photo of a Jack Russell Terrier.

Click here to apply:

Dear Potential Talent,

Thank you for your interest…

We are a catalog of parts to the industry. What industry, you ask? THE industry-that includes television, film, commercials, movie posters, print ads, multimedia, and just about any industry where a perfect part may be inserted.

Column Two

Body Parts Model

I have a perfect body part I want to put on where the best feet, hands, legs, eyes and necks are showcased, each part hoping to be chosen to model hand cream, leggings, shoes, watches, rings or mascara.  I post my part, a long, smooth-skinned white neck well-defined clavicle the perfect landscape for a necklace studded with diamonds.

Next to my photo I see even longer necks in deep shades of brown and ebony and shorter necks with creamier skin.  My perfect part looks perfectly ordinary.  Rejections appear in the comment section:  We are unable to use…our selection process is very competitive…  We want you to know each part was carefully examined by at least three members of our staff…We appreciate the chance to review your part.  We really do.  A flashing sign on the side of the screen catches my eye. offers to put a temporary tattoo on my forehead:  Logos, Brands,  Directions.  Someone will pay me to strut a swish, an ad or an icon that is even more desirable, and lucrative, than my ambitious body part.

 Column Three

For rent: Your forehead for $5,000

Our Participants agree to wear temporary tattoos (logos) supplied by Advertisers. By doing so, YOU can earn BIG $$$$$.In exchange, Advertisers (companies) can gain novel exposure for their business.

You will be sent a temporary tattoo that you can apply yourself at home. Once applied, you take a picture and send it to our administrators. Once the picture is received, you will be paid half the amount (minus the Lease Your Body fee). Once your assignment is half-way through, you are required to send an update picture showing you are still wearing the tattoo. You will then be paid the rest of the money.

Woman tattoos forehead for $10K

Auctioning space on her forehead brought one young woman $10,000 and a permanent tattoo.  Claiming to love to be the center of attention…oh, well, that’s just sick.



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What’s in a Name?


The gal who cuts my hair and I are giving one another new names.  Her name, Tia, is actually perfect for her, but mine is boring beyond belief, so I am very happy to be considering new possibilities.  When I mentioned this to my poetry group, one of the women said she changed her first name when she re-married and her “new” husband of now 25 years still calls her by the new name.  Others in the group admitted they had changed their names, too:  a little, a lot, previously, now.

My last name changed, twice, because I changed it both times I married.  I kept my married name from my first marriage until I re-married.  So from age 26 when I got divorced to age 39 I was using someone else’s name.  When I married my current husband I changed my name to his, which was kind of a joke because he was adopted and the name didn’t really belong to him, either.  We were a good match!

I didn’t change my name in part because I did not like my maiden name.  My married name was nothing special at all, but I had used it at work for ten years and people called me by my last name.  I don’t recall why…I was a supervisor and I guess my “subordinates” found it more appealing than using Ms. or Mrs., which would have been bogus anyway.  I was happy to get rid of it especially after I learned that there was another woman by the same first and last name who had unpaid bills, unreturned library books and various run-ins with the police and ex-boyfriends, which explained some very weird and nasty phone calls late at night.

Then three years ago, my husband and I went for flu shots and the gal checking us in had us at two different addresses.  Well, not yet, I said.  So I learned there is another Mary R. with a very similar birth date.  Now  I always double check the address whenever I deal with that clinic.

My husband’s initials are RLR, our cat is Rio and when we married, I thought I should change my first name to an R as well:  Renata, perhaps, or Rita.  Actually, I kind of like my current initials:  MCR.  Like McR, the Irish poet.  Ha.

So, I named Tia “Sidney Louisa.”  I like how that sounds, but when I told my husband, he said, you mean like Sid?  Isn’t that a guy’s name?

Tia named me “Claudette Amalie.”  Very French; very pretty.  She said that Claudette sounds sophisticated.   Or mature.

I going to see Tia next week and I am working on an Italian name for her.  Here are some names I picked that I like and what they mean:

Chiara – clear, bright

Elena – from Greek H elena, meaning torch

Felisa – happy, lucky

Luisa  – famous warrior

Natale – Italian form of Latin Natalia, meaning birthday

Noemi – my delight, my pleasantness

Milana/Maria Elena

Simona – harkening

Violetta – violet

My choice:  Chiara Elena.  The Ch is pronounced like K.  It sounds sexy to me and a little musical, almost poetic.   H’mmm…maybe it should be mine.

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Gorilla Art & Poetry Foiled!

Flowering Crab

I like to alter postcards people send me from their vacation spot.  I collage over the picture, adding some paradox, and I paste something interesting over the address.  I either leave the message or alter it by crossing out words to create a poem or I type a poem – mine or another’s – and paste it over the message.  Then I stick the postcard in books I return to the library.  The card masquerades as a bookmark or is recognized as Gorilla Art & Poetry to those in the know.

Today I got a call from the library.  It was a library in a small town nearby.  We are part of a large system that encompasses perhaps a quarter of the state.  The fellow said they had found a postcard in a book I’d returned that belonged to his library and he wondered whether I wanted it back.  I was so taken by surprise I didn’t know what to say at first.  How did they get my name?  Oh, right, I’d checked out the book and I have a library card with identifying information.

I told him it was just a bookmark, I did not need it back.  Then he said, ok, we’ll toss it.  Toss it!  Oh, my poor altered card.  It won’t be seen by any unsuspecting recipient.  Which card was it?  The one from Eric and Kristen thanking us for being so helpful when they visited?  The one from my brother when he went to the WWII battlefields our father fought on?  I have kept these cards for years in some cases and I am ready to let them go, to let them live a new and altered life.

Why did I not tell the librarian about the Gorilla Art & Poetry?  Well, it just seemed like a lot to explain and, in retrospect, it seems leaving it in the book – it’s a bookmark, I told him – was not an option he entertained anyway.

Oh well.  I do this a lot and this is the first time I’ve been caught.  Won’t stop me from doing it again, either.

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On the Road

Silence since my birthday has nothing to do with the distress of aging, but rather the joy of travel.  I have been in Guatemala, Honduras and Naples, Florida.  It was a fabulous trip to Mayan ruins and markets, rain forest and highlands.  My favorite:  tee shirts emblazoned with “GUATEVER” and “GUAT’S UP?”

Unfortunately, the husband tripped and fell hard.  There was much groaning -and a cough that sounded more like a cat with a hairball – before we returned home to quality health care and learned he has three fractured ribs.  I am impressed.  He definitely gets bragging rights.  I, on the other hand, get to do all of the work that requires bending, and much of the lifting.  It’s ok.  This mild winter is in my favor.  No snow to shovel!

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One Thing Leads to Another

Last weekend we had a garage sale.  I wanted to get rid of items that have taken up space in the garage for years – bicycles, skis, birdfeeders, cans of oil, pots and trellises – things that will never be used again by us.  There also were clothes that no longer fit, household items that are no longer interesting and cameras and equipment that have been replaced by digital.  I also wanted to sell some magazines I have collected over the years.

The first day was slow and rainy, so I spent the time looking at back issues of Piecework, a magazine about the history of textiles.  I loved Piecework when it first came out and then not so much when the editors changed … what?  Honestly, I do not know what changed that I no longer liked.  My collection of Piecework went back to the beginning in 1993.  Flipping hrough eighteen years of magazines, I ran across a couple of surprises, not surprising since many issues arrived when I had too little time to read them.

One surprise was learning about needlepoint artist Stephen Beal, who wrote 24 poems to his embroidery floss.  For the uninitiated, embroidery floss colors are identified by number and there are hundreds of colors and numbers.  Beal uses floss manufactured by Dollfus-Mieg & Co. (DMC), Paris, France.  His poems are collected in a book, The Very Stuff.   The five poems reprinted  in the January/February 1995 issue of Piecework are each accompanied by a small stitched book mark-shaped piece.

The poems are charming, and include lines like, “This chrome is a yellow you could walk to China on.”  And this, dedicated to the 350’s shades of coral:  “350 the eldest, a big strong girl…351 and 352 are the sisters who get called each other’s names…”  There are more samples of his poetry on the DMC website at ttp://

The other surprise was an article about Poetry Mittens from the 1995 November/December issue.  The article discusses the history of a single mitten from 1780 that is stitched with letters and words from a poem titled “Trouble.”  The Smithsonian has a pair of mittens with the complete poem.  The words start at the wrist and wind down the hand.  The article includes directions for knitting a pair of poetry mittens with the following poem by Veronica Patterson: When snow swirls / we begin to dream / of dancing firelight / and hasten gaily home, / clapping hands / and words to / warm them.

I pulled a couple dozen of the best issues of Piecework to save for myself and passed the rest along to my Textile Study Group.  All the back issues will be passed along and along and I feel good about that.

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Proverbs, Epigrams and Adages

William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence is written in four-foot iambic lines, which means four beats per eight syllable line. It moves along, which seems appropriate for the sayings included within. Here are two examples:

He who shall train the Horse to War

Shall never pass the Polar Bar.                             

The Beggar’s Dog and Widow’s Cat,

Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.

James Fenton, in his book, An Introduction to English Poetry, calls these proverbs. Later, he says many couplets such as these can stand by themselves as epigrams. What, I wondered, is the difference? Here is what the Merriam-Webster Dictionary says.

A Proverb is a brief popular epigram; an adage, e.g., “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

An Epigram is 1) a concise poem dealing pointedly and often satirically with a single thought or event and often ending with an ingenious turn of thought; and 2) a terse, sage, or witty and often paradoxical saying, e.g., “Remember that time is money.” B. Franklin

An Adage is a saying often in metaphorical form that embodies a common observation, e.g., “The early bird gets the worm.”

There seems to be some distinction when a phrase enters common language without attribution versus when the author is known and cited, as in the case of B. Franklin. Proverbs and adages and sayings apparently have entered the common domain and require no authorial attribution.

Among these definitions, epigrams seem the most interesting. Sadly, my rhyming couplets in iambic tetrameter come off more like very bad greeting card entries.

The ugly squash will always be / the one that tastes so sweet to me.

The prettiest corn I’m shucking / has worms that are ripe for plucking.

The coupon for a dollar off / expires like a candle moth.

Poet Amy Gerstler in her book of poems called Bitter Angel, is not burdened by rhyming couplets. Her poems are mostly short prose essays. The book blurb on the back cover, written by Jorie Graham, says, very stylishly I think, that Gerstler’s work reveals “subtle yet energetic negotiations between the voltages of experimentation and the undertow of classical balance…driving narrative into the extended slow-motion conflagration of post-modern lyricism.” Goodness.

I decided to look for some epigrams in Gerstler’s book.  Here is one that I found, somewhat out of context:

The prick of the thistle revives

your faith that for every hurt

there is a leaf to cure it.


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