29 June 2010

Current American Author

She grew up in love with fairy tales
startled by the grit they embrace.
Dark stories mirror her characters’ interiors.
Riding white horses through taboo families
chasing love and running from self
accidental salvation rises.

lightning strikes
changes lives
backward tales
desire trails

Minnows fill pockets in coats of the dead
Weather becomes an incantation of named rains—
boot polish, red clover, fearsome and swamp.
Her magic swallows the dark belching up redemption.
She grew up in love with fairy tales
stunned by the truth they embrace.

Here is the prompt from POW:
WHO AM I? Write a poem about a well know person, celebrity, historical or mythical figure. Please do not reveal the name . It should be fun to guess who it is.

A big thank you to Rallentanda for the weekly prompt. The title provides a clue to my mystery woman. At the very least six of this author's books are directly indicated in the piece. (hints for you!)

25 June 2010


and fashion
generates heat
from a force
merging minds
people become thing
engaged or enraged
or boo-yahs
ear stomping
body smashing
murmuring mumbling
limbs knot together
individuals dissolve
and words roar into one
turbulent call

The prompt at Big Tent Poetry this week asked that we think about something that we don't know who to write about. I selected crowds, as I just wrote about the Gulf for ABC Wednesday W(Wounded World.) A short ditty on the Gulf does follow this one on the main page of my blog, if you're interested.

23 June 2010

A Murder of Crows

By wing they gather in summer full trees
flutters flash black in the shadowy copse
Cacophonous caws call out through the breeze

The congregation packs dark wooded slopes
They all shriek about human invasion
settle on branches, and reinforce hopes

for a world of unpracticed evasion.
A strengthened resolve grows in alder limbs
as dark oaths avow future occasion.

In the gloamings of summer, tall trees brim
with scheming crows singing murdering hymns.

This is my first piece for POW, and my first Terza Rima Sonnet. Thank you Rallentanda for the challenging prompt. We considered summer twilight in a terza rima sonnet, with music from youtube.

My inspiration: In summer at dusk, birds gather. Ornithologists are uncertain why they flock together, but they do. Murder of Crows is my attempt to explain why they congregate at days' end.

During the summer, I listen to a great deal of bluegrass and folk music. Last year I stumbled across No Crows on iTunes. All four members are classically trained musicians. They met in a pub in Ireland. The piece I selected is one of very few offered on You Tube.

Note: A sonnet should have 14 lines. This piece has only 11. I may go back and rework it, but I may not. Otherwise it does follow the structure of the terza rima.

in the personals

One carbon based
badass brunette,
poet preferable.

Have you obviated
enough birthdays
to lose count
year after “happy” year?

Have you witnessed
sorrow’s white-capped
obsessions circle a nervous sea
during love’s long drought?

Are you willing to succumb to passion’s mad
gasp and drown in another’s embrace?

If so, circle this ad.

**Scorching responses receive instantaneous replies.
***Glacial responses go unanswered.

This wordle prompt came thanks to Irene over at We Write Poems.  Click that link for more takes on the prompt.

19 June 2010

Janey votes No!

“Sorry ain’t nothin’ if it don’t bring change.” Aunt Sue’s words echoed through her head like an India rubber ball. Janey’s temples throbbed. Looking in the mirror last night, she actually gasped. She looked like a light bulb—both temples bulged out, bruised. Now, a quarter bottle of Aunt Sue’s foundation covered the bruising, not the sideshow freak shape. It almost made Janey laugh, but almost doesn’t really count.

He hit her before, but last night’s rage was different. Randy vanished from his own eyes. *poof!* Something else was in him, hitting on her. It wasn’t Randy. A beast invaded him and pummeled Janey into that crumpled sobbing mass. She felt bad for him later, when he held her, apologizing. His fingers traced her face. “I’m sorry, baby,” he whispered hot in her ear, “I promise this is the last time, I promise. I’m sorry, baby. I love you.” He nuzzled his face in Janey’s hair, and she promised herself this would be the last time, too.

Janey sat down with a pencil and wrote:

Randy’s soul is a cold hard stone
in kindergarten he stabbed Rachel Lyn with a pencil
in first grade he poured sour milk down Sammy Sanderson’s throat
in second grade he punched the janitor in the stomach
in third grade he nuked grasshoppers in Mrs. Nelson’s microwave at recess
in fourth grade he threw a table across the room
in fifth grade he gave antifreeze to the class ferret
in sixth grade he set fire to his Aunt Lou’s cat
in seventh grade he stabbed 3 peers with straight pins in the school cafeteria
in eighth grade he beat his pregnant girlfriend nearly dead
Randy’s heart is a cold hard stone

Will he ever really change?

Janey titled her poem.

The prompt for Writer's Island this morning was change.

A shout out to Stan Ski at Elephant Small who posed the questions... "Do we really need to change…? Or just find out who we really are…?" While I like the idea of there being a pond of reflection and kindness at the core of human beings, the sociopath sprung to mind. This piece is a rather dark response to Stan's questions, but it rose from my school year. (These kids are too young to be dealing with this kind of garbage, darn it.)

17 June 2010

before you go out in the dark tonight . . .

It’s dangerous in the dark these days
to stroll through streets under stars.
Monsters hide beneath human veneers,
and in evening hunt weaker beings.

“Exploited” adjectifies children.
Sexuality dulls at a price.
Hungry for victims, the Ogres evade.
It’s dangerous in the dark these days.

Neighborhood kids fifty years ago played
night games like “Scream Bloody Murder.”
Milk & Honey Comfort set parents free
to stroll through streets under stars.

Today, children vanish no stories to tell,
their fingers file flesh from beasts.
Creatures, scratched, shop and sing praise.
Monsters hide beneath human veneers.

They enter the workplace, actors in part
they cough, they resent, and they shit.
In light they seem just like you and like me
then in evening hunt weaker beings.

When faced with a wordle prompt from Big Tent Poetry this week, I relied on a poetic form to give the words shape. This is my first cascade.

Big Tent’s prompt draw a creative crowd. Visit the link above to see other responses to this wordle.

Dinner a la Magpie

use and time
dull a shine
sharpening thins
pushing in
blade plunges
ridges rise
along a line
belly fine
guts spill
gills still
fillet and serve
with lemon and dill

Shout out to Magpie Tales for the picture prompt.  Visit the link for other creative takes on the picture, they are sure to delight and astound you.

16 June 2010

soul struck moon

At 5 my Grandpa
told me that
everyone can see
their own face
etched in the
full moon’s

I’m still up there,
cratered out
and stuck
an expression
of soul.

Shout out to Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides for the Wednesday prompt: stuck. Visit the link for more creative responses.

a pantoum behind narrow minds

Come on in, close the door. Damn Indians.
It was centuries ago, what do they expect from us?
The Apaches my grandma knew sold drugs across the street.
Westward expansion happened, get over it.

It was centuries ago, what do they expect from us?
Reservations run through several states.
Westward expansion happened, get over it.
They call themselves First People to stake claim.

Reservations run through several states.
Educate them, feed them, their hair still grows.
They call themselves First People to stake claim.
Indigenous schmindigenous, We're here now.

Educate them, feed them, their hair still grows.
Nothing is ever enough. Enemies at the onset.
Indigenous schmindigenous, We’re here now.
Come on in, close the door. Damn Indians.

Check out We Write Poems for more responses to this prompt:
"Take some time to consider a point of view you find distasteful. Is it possible that the people with whom you disagree are well-intentioned? Is it possible that they are not evil? Use this as a springboard to write something. Sarcasm is easy, but you’re welcome to go wherever the prompt takes you.”

I've included process notes, as I fought with myself about posting this.

Process Notes
I’m having a hard time taking on this alternate persona, though I hear it often in my home state, it troubles me deeply to present it. Living in Montana there are large segments of “white” society who embrace the stereotyping of American Indians. I tried to represent that voice in this pantoum.

This was difficult to write because my grandmother said it. She had binoculars in a pocket on her recliner, and she’d watch the people in the apartment across the street. People came and went. She assured me that it was those “damn Indians” selling drugs. Now, I love my grandmother, she had many amazing qualities, but I don’t condone her feelings about the “damn Indians.” People are complex.

For an interesting look at Native stereotyping visit Blue Corn Comics. I’ve linked you directly to the pertinent page, but do take a look around the site. American Indian youth are turned on by the comics. Teachers— it gets them reading! American Indian adults— they are looking for writers to come up with story lines. Give them a look see.

For pieces with a different feel to them regarding American Indians, click on the AmericanIndians label below. One of the pieces, a short story called "In the Barn", deals with the stereotype, "Indians don't pay taxes."

15 June 2010

ABC Wednesday V

V is for the villain
who visits our village at night.
To enter, pillage, and kill us
it prowls through absent light.

It creeps in family dwellings,
and opens unlocked doors.
It steal our sons and daughters
and turn them into whores.

Powdered it sniffs up noses.
Liquid it stealths into veins.
The villain catches them any which way
and slowly addles their brains.

The inspiration for this piece is the Montana Meth Project's television commercials depicting the effects of methamphetamine on young people. Visit the website, take a look around. Some of the commercials are posted there. They have had a significant impact on lowering teen drug use in our state.

Shout out to ABC Wednesday for the prompt. Visit their link to see both photo and text responses to this week's letter, V.

14 June 2010


A painted turtle blinks, stands, and plops into the lazy murk of Curry Creek. “When I was a boy that tree touched the sky. Look at it now, lying there, can’t even tell it was a ponderosa. pffft.” Jacob’s hand indicates a broad log stretched across a colony of deadfall floating stuck, from the shore to turtle island.

“Jacob, it’s beautiful, why make a face like that?”

Jacob looks at her with that sense of calm running through his eyes that tells Justice he wants to listen to her ideas. She wishes she would learn to keep her mouth shut. Jacob has a way of making her spill her soul into words. Jacob is ancient—older than her grandfather. He raised her when a flood stole her folks. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Justice, tell me what you see.”

Justice starts slowly, “Not too long ago, Jacob, this tree touched the sky, beauty is its legacy.” Her eyes lose focus on the world in front of her as she continues, “When you were a boy, this ponderosa housed squirrels and bugs. Deer relieved itches on its bark, birds nestled in its branches, chittering chipmunks devoured its tiny pinecone seeds, and little boys? They looked up at this tree with wonder in their eyes, because this tree touched the sky.” Justice throws her head back and sweeps her hands overhead. Jacob’s eyes spark with life, and a smile plays its way about his mouth.

“See those branch stumps?” Justice points at spots where branches have broken off with time. Jacob nods. “Every one of them has moss growing around it. Moss is made of cells, Jacob, just like you. Just like me. Just like that dead ponderosa. It died, Jacob, but look at it now—it is greening over with life, Jacob!” They both grow quiet, as a turtle elder pulls itself to a basking site on the jam. “It’s not just the moss, but the turtles, too. This logjam slows down the creek. Imagine their home in the muck, Jacob, it’s dark, it's quiet, it’s safe. The ponderosa protects.” Justice falls silent when a breeze eddies up pine needles along the path, and swirls out over the creek making reeds dance circles.

She opens her hands over masses of grass poking up through the creek, and the logjam, where several turtles eye them, “Up here?  They sit in the sun on this old dead tree, worn smooth by water and time, this incredible dead ponderosa. Can you see it Jacob? How seamlessly woven it is?” She looks him in the eye. “The ponderosa is a gift, Jacob, a beautiful gift.”

“Beautiful? Yes. I see it now,” he answers smiling, “But a gift? No. You are the gift, Justice, you.” Jacob’s big hand ruffles the hair on her head as Justice wraps an arm round his waist, and nuzzles in the familiar scent of his buckskin coat.


Shout out to Writer's Island for this prompt:  The seventh official re-opening prompt is: THE GIFT… What is it that comes to mind when you think of the concept of a gift — given or received, large or small, personal or on a broader scale. Tell us in your words (poem, prose, flash fiction) the why, who, what, where, when, or how regarding the gift — whatever it is that moves you to write…

Shout out to the universe for turtles and ponderosas!

Click the Writer's Island link for more takes on this prompt.

13 June 2010

my oubliette

hands release to a
swift dark descent
bone thudding crunch

last light,
a flare drops in
before the iron lid closes
on my oubliette

flare sputters, dies
blackness accentuates water
trickling down limestone
emptying in a creek
aside the breadth
of my oubliette

loved ones butchered,
me thrown in a hole
conquerors triumph
spirits destroyed
placing my face
in the creek’s cold flow
I breathe in
my oubliette

Shout out to kuyerjudd at One Single Impression for the prompt: oubliette.  I took the picture last summer in the Lockport Caves at Lockport, New York.  It seemed to fit the oubliette prompt.

Pronunciation: \ˌü-blē-ˈet\ Function: noun Etymology: French, from Middle French, from oublier to forget, from Old French oblier, from Vulgar Latin *oblitare, frequentative of Latin oblivisci to forget — more at oblivion Date: 1819 : a dungeon with an opening only at the top.

11 June 2010

Dutify your Dharma

A Pantoum for JW

Everything you give out comes back to you.
Dutify your dharma dudette, karma culminates.
Unless you start living a golden rule,
your pretenses of friendship will bite you in the ass.

Dutify your dharma dudette, karma culminates.
Practice kindness every day.
Your pretense of friendship will bite you in the ass.
Insecurity is no excuse for cruelty.

Practice kindness every day.
Ignite a shining in people you meet.
Insecurity is no excuse for cruelty.
Lies become soul-eating bacteria.

Ignite a shining in people you meet.
Eradicate fear and defense.
Lies become soul-eating bacteria.
Practice compassion, seek wisdom and truth.

Eradicate fear and defense.
Love yourself in spite of yourself.
Practice compassion, seek wisdom and truth.
Everything you give out comes back to you.

Shout out to Big Tent Poetry, who had participants explore anger in a poetic form, the pantoum. This is my first pantoum. JW, if you happen across this piece, I'm only trying to help. Be sure to visit Big Tent for other creative pieces inspired by rage.

10 June 2010

Hank and Nancy: A Magpie Romance

Hank found 1000 pencils in a box stashed in a back corner of Nancy’s Knickknack Nook. Eyes shining, Nancy said she found them in a box of poetry and prose peppered with magic. She raised her eyebrows when she said it.

“Uh, I was more interested in the uh, mug, uh, you know, for Guinness.” Hank felt the color rising in his face. Why was it talking to Nancy did this to him every time?

“Sure Hank, but I’m telling you, these here pencils? Magic. Something to do with the cup. Sharpen them.” Nancy grabbed Hank’s wrist, and looked him in the eye, “Needle sharp now, you hear? Then stick them in the cup with the sharpened end up. Do not be drinking beer in that mug Hank Sanders, or you’ll dull the magic.” She let go of his wrists, and looked down. “Sometimes it sticks, Hank. Give it a go.”

Hank remembers his heart racing when Nancy grabbed his wrist, but it’s the soft way she almost whispered at the end that made it skip a beat, still does today. Hank sharpens each pencil and puts it eraser down in the mug that never held a Guinness, until each of the final fourteen stands tall.

At one pencil per day, two weeks remain. Legions of women read his blog, Magic Pencils. Hank pencils all of his posts on pages of half-used notebooks and paper scraps from Nancy’s Knickknack Nook then takes pictures of his poetry and prose. Snapshots of magic, Nancy calls them. 986 posts inspired by Nancy. She thinks it’s the pencils, but it’s not the pencils. It’s her.

Hank started writing poetry for Nancy when he started sharpening pencils. He loves her, always has. Turns out, Nancy loves Hank, too. Hank figures some kind of magic stops him from tripping over his words every time he talks to Nancy. He attributes that magic to Nancy, too. Yup, this Magpie Tale has a happy ending.

Nancy wrote the sidebar ‘About Hank’ for his blog.

His name is Hank. He likes his beer dark, a smidgen below room temperature. He understands the underbelly of a woman the way most men understand the engine of a truck. His words make women purr.


It’s true. Nancy knows. Nancy knows she will keep purring whether Hank has magic pencils or not. And Hank? He knows that real magic is the stuff that happens when Nancy touches his wrist and whispers, and he whispers back in couplets that burn with desire.


Shout out to Magpie Tales for the prompt.  Be sure to click the link and visit for other creative responses to this cup of sharpened pencils.

09 June 2010

The Three Fish

The coleus from my classroom curls in circles around itself
calling my attention, begging me to set it free.
Hooks held its arms to framed words on the board,
as overhead it snaked its way along—
greening the chrome substructure of
suspended fluorescent lights.

A sign in my classroom says,
“Practice Fluency, Read to Plants.”
Feed them carbon dioxide,
while increasing your rate,
phrasing and

Situated near a silent angel
at home the coleus mourns
Voices from a Medieval Village
until it notices three fish,
leering at it from the porthole window.
It remembers loud mocking laughter
when Trevor pulled off its leaves,
tucked them behind his ears, and
danced them to death.

On its shelf this Wednesday, as I untwirl
its tendrils, the coleus sighs
relieved for attention.

Dear coleus, I vow to read aloud
one poem each day I wake here this summer,
until you return to the clamor of the classroom
next fall.

Tendrils at a vine’s end cling to my finger
touching gratitude at release.

I sit, open a classic, and
begin the summer with
The Three Fish,
a Barks’ translation of Rumi.

Shout out to Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides for Wednesday prompt 092.  Visit the link to see more responses to the prompt, which is: 

For today's prompt, write a poem that incorporates three things you can see from your computer. Use those three things however you wish. Maybe there's a picture, a window and a desk lamp. Maybe a pen, a paper and a cell phone. Pick the items, then write a poem. (If you want, for fun, you can include what the three things you used are either before or after the poem.)

08 June 2010

Miriam, wanting to be elsewhere

The sweep of lace brought
Miriam misery.

she thought of
the time
at home
when the swollen
lines and spaces
had unexpectedly stiffened like sticks
dreadful and resented.

She heard nothing
and stood angry
across the red hot
fire of guests
stupid people
noticing her discomfiture and
silly fear.

She had learnt her pieces by heart
Faint notes slurred.
Almost soundlessly she played
and sung.

Twice, she astonished
the notes
to the day before.

Thanks to Angie Werren for the Erasures prompt at We Write Poems. At Erasures, you can delete words from already constructed text to come up with something new. This piece is what's left after erasing words from Pointed Roofs by Dorothy Miller Richardson.

It makes a little bit of sense, right? hmmm.... My psuedonym at Erasures is Caw, and this is my only piece thus far.

ABC Wednesday U

a cautionary tale

U is for the Under Toad
that swims the mighty Mo.
With an ardent taste for human flesh
it lurks beneath its flow.

Children often feed its thirst,
they move through water slow.
It reaches up a slimy hand
and pulls them deep below.

Thrill seekers turn into prey
with a heightened sense of bravado.
They jump from the bridge where
the toad awaits, to eat them, apropos.

U is for the Under Toad
that swims the mighty Mo.
Its favorite season is summertime
when dormant feeding grounds grow.

This is my first time participating in ABC Wednesday. It was fun. John Irving first gave life to the Under Toad in either Garp or The Hotel New Hampshire. It stuck with me, and came to life with the U.

Every year two or three people drown in the Missouri River where it runs through our city. It doesn't need to happen, I'm just saying....

06 June 2010

taming tangled chaos

a mess of mint maneuvers
to a rock edged border
that barely holds it in

lemon balm

thinning the peppermint
a stalk of swiss chard
volunteers itself
veining red in long green leaves

urging me to create
a dirt circle empty
its base
a corona of mint to contrast
its striking red stalk

A shout out to Sunday Scribblings for the prompt, "mess." And to swiss chard, for volunteering itself in the bed of my mint garden.

28 January 1986 / The Challenger Explodes

“...slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God”
(Ronald Reagan addresses the nation.)

The Crew

~Commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Born in Cle Elum, Washington
~Pilot Michael J. Smith, 41 year old graduate of the United States Naval Academy
~Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnick, First American woman to orbit the Earth
~Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair, Black belt in Karate
~Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Hawaiian, Member of Discovery shuttle crew
~Gregory B. Jarvis, Payload Specialist, Private Citizen
~Sharon Christa McAulliffe, High school science teacher

The Press Coverage

roses bedeck a ceremonial breakfast table
smiles and waves line-up to blast off
ground crew present an apple to the
first teacher in space
after three days of delay
waiting for ice to thaw
prior to the last hurrah
500 spectators
18 from the teacher’s hometown
huddle smiles in the wind

The Take Off

73 seconds in,
clarity dissolves
in flaming white puffs
cheers continue
plumes plummet cloud channels
back to Earth
faces fall
to silent traces
eyes up

In Classrooms

televised images of
teachers launch minds
as lessons of exploration
turn into a message of mortality

I combined two different prompts for this piece. Thank you to Titanium for providing the prompt “Icarus” at One Single Impression. While I do not mention the Icarus mythology directly in the piece, thinking of Icarus combined with the prompt from Writer’s Island inspired this piece. The Writer’s Island prompt was “unforgettable.” The Challenger disaster is unforgettable for many reasons. I will always remember it because it happened on my 24th birthday. The ABC news footage posted here added inspiration for the piece.

04 June 2010

Magpie for Isa

When I was 14 we drove from Montana to Minnesota, to Lake Vermillion. It was the last time I saw my great grandfather Evert Vaino Sulin. He was 92 (and had his driving priveleges revoked 4 years prior for pulling back and forth to the side of the road looking for a spot for his fourth wife to pee). The only person he remembered in our family was our dog, Floppy. My mom’s face changed when he didn’t know that she was Karen, his granddaughter.


I knew Evert as Isa,
which means father, in Finn.
Isa built the cabin at the lake
by himself when he was 19 years old.
(In his 50s, my father
built a cabin
near Holland Creek
in a Montana valley—
a grizzly corridor
between the Mission Mountains
and the Bob Marshall Wilderness—
he felled the timber,
peeled the bark,
notched the logs,
stacked them.)

Isa managed the dump in Virginia, Minnesota.
Isa scavenged the dump in Virginia, Minnesota.
I envy the trash at his fingertips
treasures in his hands.

He found this head of clay
hiding in the dump one day
and made of it a legacy
to send our dead away.

Sylvia, my grandma’s sister
received the head of clay—
a funeral dirge to wail away
the accordian’s quiet Polish grief
at her husband Emil’s passing
(and every member since,
of our family’s heritage,

This head of clay picked up one day by Isa at the dump, follows us to our grave. The youngest over 5 carries it: a solemn honor bestowed. Isa believed in his heart that the head came from the bow of a ship sailing from Finland to America-the ship that brought him here...he swears he could hear her wailing in the wind. "Serendipitous, what you find in the dump," he'd say, a twinkle in his so blue eyes.

Shout out to Magpie Tales for the great picture for this ekphrastic piece.  Visit the Magpie link to check out gems others create from the picture.

03 June 2010


The Big Tent prompt this week asked that we think of things that we would love to do, but never dared. Needles to say, this prompt led me to an odd place. A secret desire to try heroin took harbor about my being when I was a just a wee lass. Access to heroin in my experimental days did not exist. Often I thank the universe for keeping it away from me when I would have happily succumbed. Now I don't dare. I love my life. Maybe I’ll try it if I reach 80, but by then the desire may be lost in a myriad of whispers that I don’t understand.



living for the moment
that the needle pierces skin
tiny tubes of blood
pull it in
pull it in

it moves across my shoulders
and down my other arm
through my legs and to the floor
where I lie safe from harm
in heaven
where I lie safe from harm

angels brush my body
waltzing through the sky
and all the other addicts
moan and sigh
moan and sigh

turning tricks for fixes
trying to stay high
heroin’s a Judas
that I’m glad I didn’t try

02 June 2010

Hope Beyond these Doors

A Ghazal for the Class of 2014

Middle school is finished. Life waits beyond these doors.
Your childhood diminished, it abates beyond these doors.

Rush headlong into glory. Stimulate your brain.
Generate your story through gates beyond these doors.

High school unveils riddles of enigmatic futures.
Every moment whittles your fates beyond these doors.

Countless contributions rise as possibility.
Seek out new solutions to relate beyond these doors.

While Mrs. Warren’s classroom grew with inklings of your yearnings,
the world expects a huge debut—go great beyond these doors.

Another ghazal, I know! Thanks to We Write Poems for the prompt, "doors." Friday is the last day of school. (woo hoo!) This is a rough draft...I keep changing it (don't be surprised if you come back to a totally different piece at some point!). Thanks for taking the time to read my words.