Poemtober

sceenshot from Inktober’s website

For the past few years, I’ve written poems for the Inktober prompts, because I can’t resist a ready-made list and I love the randomness of it, plus the challenge! I have completed all 31 a couple of times, but last year I pooped out partway through. My dream is to find an artist to partner with, since I am not one for drawing (not successfully, anyway), but I have yet to really try and make that happen. I like the idea of a little zine that incorporates the art and words.

I’ve attempted to rope my artist daughter into partnering with me, but teenagers have an awful lot to do with school alone. Also I’m pretty sure it would need to be 100% her idea for it to actually happen.

With everything else I have on my plate at the moment, I had decided to forgo this annual tradition. . . . . until last night, when I started thinking about it, looked at the official list, and ended up cranking out haikus for the first 11. Haikus are short, and therefore less of a burden on my brain, and I guess the moon and stars were aligned just right plus the wind was blowing in the correct direction and my guardian angel was in just the right mood.

So, I am sharing these on my instagram! I’ve tried unsuccessfully for a while now this morning I get the posts to show up on my blog; I’m throwing in the towel. Here’s the link:

https://www.instagram.com/the_poetry_patio/

If you feel inclined to join me in this challenge, I would love it! Tag me, email me, or just do it and have a good time! If you add ink drawings to your poems, so much the better!!

Equinox

Harvest moon rising | polaroid lab printed photo by author

Autumn began and
I sat and listened to the
cars rushing somewhere
along some busy road
beyond the fences and yards
of the neighborhood
and to the birds
peeping intermittently
checking in on one another
like like bellhops at the
tree motel

There were sirens, also,
and there was some hammering

Autumn began and
I sat and watched while
the sky faded and the light
drained away like bath water
a whispering shush
of the hint of a cool breeze
breathing off the sprinkled lawn
I watched purple become
grey-blue then grey
then something darker
the color of soot
and everything green
followed suit
until the solar sensor
caught up and the patio
bulbs clicked on with a flicker
so a warm yellow glow
wrapped around me and
punctuated the shadows

Autumn began and
I pretended that the traffic
noise was a river in such
a hurry that it had smoothed out
all rocky and vegetable
obstacles, so it could flow
speedily and unobstructed with
one swift continuous sound
all babbling drawn tightly
to a hush
I made believe that the land
that I claim is mine
stretched beyond the wooden
fence encompassing lakes
and mountains hidden from view

Autumn began and
I fooled myself
for a pleasant little while
that the tick of minutes from
8:02 to 8:03 marked a sudden
change, and that it hasn’t
been creeping on with a knowing
smile for weeks,
all year,
just waiting in the background
as it always does
for its slow
implacable
turn


Thank you, readers!

Sistine

Sistine Chapel Exhibit, Austin | 35mm film photo by author

The Pope to the Sculptor, “Paint!”
Michelangelo, “No thanks.”
Replied the Pope, “That wasn’t a request.
Now I trust you to do your very best.”

Back and forth
and round and round
until the ceiling was completed.

Reluctant artist
made a work
that can never be repeated.


This poem was inspired by a recent outing to see the Sistine Chapel exhibit in Austin. Nothing beats the real thing, but everything about the experience was fun and interesting! Thanks for reading!

World Cyanotype Day

Detail, large cyanotype on fabric by author (2020)

Happy World Cyanotype Day, friends! I realize this might seem like a strange thing to talk about here on my poetry blog, but if you’ve spent more than a minute here you probably know that I think of everything as being interconnected. Also, I like to pair my cyanotype prints with my writing.

AND I have a new endeavor: I’ve opened a shop on Big Cartel. I’m trying out the free version to see what happens, which means I have only 5 things listed, but all 5 of them are not only cyanotype related, but two of them are poetry books! So, if you have a second, please take a look:

I’ve put a block link to the shop on my homepage as well. If / when things sell, I’ll replace them with new items, so please check back!

Patience

35mm film photo by author

Every night the cat comes and roosts next to me. Even if she has been attending to another member of the family, there is always the moment of her padding lightly and with purpose across the comforter like so much thick snow and settling herself, back turned, tail flicking, nonchalant and without obvious expectation

unless

I reach out to pet the luxury of her fur, in which case she will turn and give me her full attention.

Throughout the night she will come and go, often without my knowing. By morning she has resumed her vigil downstairs for breakfast, a shadow on the dining room carpet in the pale light of dawn, having perfected the fine art of patiently waiting which I wish I knew how to learn.


Thank you, readers!

Pictured

Large format self portrait by author

Absorbed by light
capering daily to capture it
within the net of my lens
what eyes see and
other senses perceive
written down
photon by photon
through chemical layers
and into silver
whose monochromatic
radiance dances
across a scale
back into the eye
transformed
shimmering with
a glitter beyond
what gold can purchase
a gift of memory
into years that
have yet to come
an emulsion
standing in its
own brilliance
against the rush of time


Readers, I apologize for neglecting you! I haven’t been writing much lately, or blogging much; I’ve been focusing on a photography project and photography in general. Creativity comes not so much in waves, I find, but in flash floods – right now, I’m up to my neck treading water in cameras, film, and darkroom. So here’s a poem I wrote the other day that reflects where I am at the moment! Thanks for reading, and I hope you are all pleasantly swimming in your own river.

Publication news!

Well I write a poem about rejection letters and then a couple of days later I get one that’s acceptance! It’s like when you finally pull over to ask for directions and are told that the place you’re looking for is right around the next bend.

I went out on a limb and submitted a poem I wrote for a photo prompt on Beyond Words Magazine‘s Instagram, and to my very happy and pleasant surprised, it will be published in their October issue. Please check them out, and to my writer friends: why not submit?

Here’s to trying again, and then again and again. . . .

Self Singing

Shadow self portrait, Port Aransas, 35mm film photo by author

Whitman had a lot of songs,
long and rambling, so many notes
venturing all over the melodic range
from the highest octaves to the
lowest reaches of the bass clef

If he was written out on a staff,
codified into halves, wholes, and sixteenths,
he would be a tangle to rival Brahms,
with a reach beyond Rachmaninoff or Liszt

You wouldn’t want to hear my play it
and you wouldn’t want to hear me sing

but if I did compose my life
neatly onto a sheet that you could read
it would be in a major key
always searching for the next
positive note, striving to vibrate in
perfect harmonious thirds and fifths

Sometimes I would strike at larger chords
and trip lightly through arpeggios and
challengingly playful scales and runs
with a vocal accompaniment
like the wind breathing out of the mountains
in the summertime, with the strength
of the gales that blow in from the sea
determined to finish the entire symphony
on a high note, with a healthy satisfying
final movement that would keep stretching out
as along as I was able to keep up with the tune


It’s almost my birthday, and every year I publish a collection of self-portraits on my photo website. Thinking about those, I decided to also think about a self-celebratory poem ala Mr. Whitman, the Great Granddaddy of all epic self-celebrations. I apologize to sticklers if I messed up my metaphors or didn’t get my musical notation correct. Thanks for reading!

Rejection Letters

iPhone hipstamatic photo by author

always there is the question
and how you will answer

will it be a yes
to the trying, the idea of it
the theory of possible success
shining like a diamond
in that dim uncertain future
you attempt to not consider

but like that last piece of
chocolate cake in the kitchen
even at midnight you know
the diamond is there
and someone will reach for it
if you don’t

will it be a yes, still
when someone else receives the prize
and all that’s left on the plate
is a pile of crumbs
spelling out, in so many words,
no

will you answer yes
to trying again
and again
in spite of all the unfortunatelys
we regret to inform you buts
there were so many entries
and difficult decisions
that judge and jury had to make

will you keep going downstairs
midnight after midnight
in search of the diamond slice
that keeps reappearing
with a cloying sweetness
asking you always and again
the same question


I feel like I could write a dissertation on receiving rejection letters, for any and every kind of creative thing I attempt. Ultimately I reckon there’s 1 yes for every 100 nos. In the end, that’s better than 0 yesses. I’m grateful for those little glimmers of affirmation! Anybody else find it challenging to keep sticking your neck out again and again?

Indefinite Leave to Remain

iPhone photo, Hipstamatic app (photo by author)

displaced and out of place
for years I was lost
in the rush hour crowd of
King’s Cross Station
tongue-tied with words
in the same language but
a dialect whose defences
I never could break through

the same but different
separated by an ocean my people
fought to cross

death by a thousand cuts
on the edge of a paper my people
fought to sign

the red coat didn’t fit me
but I tried to finess my way into normal
over cups of tea, pints, and long vodkas

I embraced everything willing
to accept a hug with two kisses,
mother tongue in cheek

in the end I was still the sore thumb,
betrayed by a colloquial I didn’t
want to leave behind
well-loved, kindly regarded
but forever and always
a homesick stranger


I wrote this poem recently for a magazine submission. . . . and was soundly rejected but hey that means now I can share it with you! Once upon a time, I moved to England. In my own way, I was an immigrant, albeit temporarily. It wasn’t easy. Thank you for reading!

(I would have shared a photo from my time in the UK but all those negative scans are still locked in my defunct hard drive. So instead I used a phone photo of travel in other times, other places.)