Archive for Nature

Poem a Day

urban-pumpkin Urban Pumpkin

First day of October.  I decide to write a poem a day this month. So far, so good.

On October 1, I made a list of nouns and a list of abstractions, like feelings.  The idea is to select one word from each list and write about what connects them.  I chose the pair, hair and hunger.

It’s not an easy case to make that hair and hunger are related in any way but that’s a poet’s job:  to help us see connections at the intersection of two disparate things.  So, in the poem, I become hungry for the hair I used to have, thick and colorful, in a world that is diminished, a world I cannot control.

Today, I wrote a poem for Rattle, which is dedicating an issue to Civil Servant Poets, poems by civilians who have spent “considerable”time working for a governmental agency.  It seems like it would be a boring topic unless you have watched House of Cards and realize how dangerous power games can be and how far down into the ranks they can reach.

Today I recalled the car salesman brought in to head up a social services agency and how he angered me with his pompous ignorance.  I was surprised to hear him say, years later, that it was the hardest job he’d ever had and how he took his worries about it home.  I guess that part must have surprised him.

I am going to try for three civil service poems by October 15.  Why, oh, why didn’t I save some of those old memos or emails??


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Chipping Away At It

Pink Tulips

One of my favorite poems was re-published today in The Weekly Avocet, an on-line journal of nature poetry.  The poem is called Oak Savanna and was originally published in Solitary Plover.

I am running across more poetry journals that are interested in publishing previously published material.  Like spreading the wealth, I guess.

Here is a link to the newsletter; Oak Savanna is the second poem on the first page.  You will need to copy and paste the link into your browser.



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Two girls discuss penguin gender and family structure

Tagged Penguin

See the red band on the penguin’s flipper?  Apparently, the color signifies gender and position in the family, e.g., mom, dad, child. I listened to two little girls discuss the banding among about a dozen penguins yesterday at the Vilas Zoo.  They went on about the relationships between parents and children and speculated on the sibling matches.  I thought, wow, here are two budding sociologists and they don’t even know it!

What I know is that three of my poems found homes in Solitary Plover, the newsletter of the Friends of Lorine Niedecker, Wisconsin nature poet.  Here is the link to the publication.

The poems are:  Cityscape, Dropseed and Spring Walk.    The editor left off my bio by accident, in case you are looking for it.  But I know who I am.

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Pope Farm Conservancy

Pope Farm Conservancy


The sound of ringing hand bells and laughter.

Around a corner in the Rijksmuseum,

with as many twists as a licorice rope,

a tall woman stands in an apron and floppy hat.

Her hand points there.  A clutch of seated

children wearing gold paper crowns raise their bells.

Her foot points here and the ones in front ring away.

Next door, brother Theo’s collection of Vincent’s

late paintings are hung, each canvas striped with,

slashed with, swirled with paint, thick as ripe

and hairy sunflowers stalks in mid-August,

petals dripping sunshine, grotesque and grasping

pinwheels, scary to someone whose ears

still hum with chimes of innocence.

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Stroking the Ego, Not Lying Down

Pebbles, Cape Cod

Beach Pebbles, Cape Cod

I sent out several poems last weekend and there are December 15 and 31 deadlines to meet.  It’s one thing to write a poem and edit and polish it.  It’s another thing to find likely publications, follow the submission guidelines, meet the deadlines, keep track of what’s been submitted and what’s been rejected.  All of that business is very time consuming.  And, I wonder whether it’s worth it.  It’s definitely a stroke to the ego to get an acceptance e-mail, especially when it’s about a one in ten chance.  But..why?  I’m not going to make a career out of this like the teaching poets.  Establishing (some) credibility is probably part of it.

Or does getting published giving my life a purpose?  Here’s a quote from Sharon Olds that I cut out and pasted in my journal:  “Writing or making anything – a poem, a bird feeder, a chocolate cake – has self respect in it.  You’re working.  You’re trying.  You’re not lying down on the ground, having given up.”

I was fortunate to have some poems published this fall.  The first, in Zo Magazine, was in response to a call to write a poem about a photo called The Nightly Unfolding of Madame de Loynes by Luis Jose Estremadoyro.  Here is a link to my poem  It is called Doubled Over (scroll down a bit).

Three poems were included in Silly Tree Anthology, which just appeared as a Kindle book.   You can check it out here  My poems are Seascape, Cardiac Event, a Canticle and Let’s Sleep Under the Stars.  

A haiku was published in Mariposa 31.  Mariposa is the journal of the Haiku Poets of Northern California.  I’m very pleased about this one because I have submitted previously and this is the first haiku of mine they have accepted.

pulling old paper / from nursery wall / Mother’s lullaby

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Haiku Moments

Maple close up

The maples are spectacular right now.  Always last to show and always worth the wait.

We raked and raked leaves yesterday and by mid-morning today the lawn was full of them.  I moaned about all the leaves still on the trees but my husband said, “Just look at how beautiful the maples are.  It will be worth raking more later on just to experience this.”

The mindfulness of paying attention and finding one haiku moment each day used to be so important to me.  I don’t know why I stopped, but I have resumed the daily practice of keeping a haiku diary.

Here is my favorite haiku from the past week.

leaf clings

to rain-soaked windshield

never give up



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Take a Share



I read a lot of poems.  I like some, I don’t get some, a few are amazing.  I ran across one recently in The New Yorker by Clive James that was in the latter category.  It is called Japanese Maple and the voice is an old man who contrasts his imminent death with the longevity of the tree outside his window.  He says, “Whenever the rain comes it will be there,/Beyond my time, but now I take my share.”

I read this morning about a Hindu monk who spoke in Madison.*  He advised listeners to greet each day with gratitude and to take at least 30 seconds to pay attention to the body and mind we have been given.  It would be like taking a share of yourself while you can.

In the marsh, we have egrets.  I have only ever seen them in Florida.  But several have stopped here this September.  I missed the pelicans – thirty of them, I heard – but Sandhill Cranes come and go each morning and evening as do geese.  I saw a heron land tonight at dusk.

A trail of ducks crossed the street from pond to a yard.  I tiptoed through them so they could continue their walk but behind me a young man on a skateboard clapped and disbursed them into the air.

While we all wait for the inevitable cold, the Honey Locusts are scattering their leaves like golden confetti.  Take a share of bullion while you can.

*The speaker’s name is Baba Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari, and his most recent book is called, Making Your Mind Your Best Friend.

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