June Challenge

It’s a new month! In celebration of this, I have set myself a challenge of writing in 15 different poetic forms, spending 2 days on each one. Last month’s challenge was flowers, and I really enjoyed it, especially since I learned a great deal about the flowers themselves in the process.

Here is a list of the poetic forms that I will be writing to:

  • Limerick
  • Blank Verse
  • Haiku
  • Pastoral
  • Villanelle
  • Ode
  • Tanka
  • Ballad
  • Sonnet
  • Rondelet
  • Rhyming Couplets
  • Shape Poem
  • Sestina
  • Elegy
  • Acrostic

Most of these I have played with before, but some are new to me. Elegy in particular I suspect will push me far outside my comfort zone.

June 1’s offering is up on the Instagram, if you’d like to read it. If you are inspired and choose to join me in this journey, please tag me! #thepoetrypatio on Instagram or in some other clever way here on WordPress.

Thank you for reading! Here’s to an inspiring summer!

Waking Dream

Large format photograph | Ilford HP5 film

At dawn my family rose again to cluster at tables where
I rushed to serve them: goblets and plates, verdant
with half frozen leaves, little cups of rich sauce.

My fever to please and nourish burned in confused footsteps
ankle-weighed, nearly drowned in my own inexperience
I sought their dear faces and found complaint.

Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, reunited in dingy chairs
I did them more disservice than waiting aid

The old life dredged before my eyelids, subconscious
passion play at the edge of slumber
reminded of what thoughts plagued
my heart when I laid me down,
lips silent but entreating for some answer

So they arrived with their wise liquid eyes
to pierce my soul in all their wisdom
to illuminate the folly of my days all strung together,
the beads on which I pray

Was it sleep,
when these ancestors braved to part the veil,
delivering an almighty reply
past and present uniting future,
as it is now and ever shall be

Was it a dream
or was I at last
without knowing it
fully awake,
in their presence,
did they bring me the elixir
finally
to be fully alive?


I wrote this poem for another competition, again with the Poetry Society, (and again unsuccessful), in conjunction with their celebration of Keats. I read The Eve of St Agnes aloud to my daughter, had a significant dream, and wrote this. Thank you for reading!

After

Check out the Poetry Society!

Beguiled by an ad in the back of a magazine (I *think* it was Poetry Magazine) I decided to enter The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition. I didn’t win, of course; supposedly they read every single entry (unlike some other competitions, I have noticed), and just having a stranger read a poem of mine was enough of a win for me. I knew I didn’t have any chance of even getting a nod – well, maybe about as much chance as having a polite knock at the door answered when there’s already a raging party going on inside – but I still wanted to enter, because why not? Also the fringe benefit is that I now receive their excellent quarterly magazine, which so far has been packed with stunning writing.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive the above little anthology book of all the winners and “commended” with the latest issue! I never expected to be able to read a print copy; I figured it would just be online. High 5 for keeping print alive, y’all!

Since my entry was thus, officially, deader than a doornail most definitely not successful in the competition, I figure I am now free to share the poems that I entered. One I will keep back, because it’s part of a larger project that I am holding close to my chest.

The other poem is even closer than a secret held close in a pocket next to my heart, because it’s about my Dad, who suffered a very serious stroke in May 2020. It’s officially been a year, now. I present it to you now with a photograph of him I made in September 2020, when he was at my house for / on my birthday.

Kodak Tri-X film; I forget the camera I used

After

He has seen things
he wants to tell us but
the words won’t come
they get hung up on the way out
snagged on the bits of wire
holding his thinker together
He’s seen everything
in a way: birth, death
the rolling waves of time
life from above and below
some of it we were even there for
He lives again, now,
in snatches of memory
in the garbled mess
that the stroke left behind
I see him, seeing me.
His fear leaps out
through the windows to his soul.


Thank you for reading!

Have you entered any poetry competitions? If the answer is yes: YAY for you, for doing it! How did it go? If you didn’t “succeed” (aka win, because honestly just entering is success in my book), will you try, try again?

Coyote, 1

Cyano-coyote | Cyanotype print by Amy Jasek

From the silence of the desert night
someone shook coyote awake
with all his yips and yowls
his eye glinted in the moonlight

Someone shook coyote awake
so she gathered her sisters and came for me
their eyes glinted, seeking moonlight
they roused me with their song

The gathered sisters came for me
beaconing beneath the scattered stars
they roused me with their song
that bore up through me, awake and alive

Beaconing beneath the scattered stars
they welcomed me to join their dance
They bore me along with them, alive
with the scent of the night and musky limbs

They welcomed me to join the dance
that shook coyote wide awake
with the scent of night and musky limbs
our eyes glinted together in the moonlight


Susan Wooldridge, in her amazing book Poemcrazy, has a section on “Awakening Coyote.” That, along with our many camping trips to the deserts of the American Southwest, was the genesis for this pantoum poem. I had a blast writing to that section of the book! I wrote several, which I will share in bits and pieces. . . . .

Paris Postcard

If I sent you a postcard
from the Tuileries
a real old-fashioned lick-stamp affair

(and of course it’s an affair because
what is Paris if not a torrid
attack of all-consuming passion?
a head-over-heels reel into a
May to September ocean of bliss?
a ravishing of the senses, like
a deep ruby pour of Burgundy
scented with chocolate and
truffled roses, the stomach-butterfly
bubble of champagne that comes
with the anticipation of kisses?)

If I sent you this postcard
purchased with francs
I would write about the man
who charmed birds to perch
on his fingertips and shoulders,
the crush of the Louvre,
the echoing holy ring of the
sisters’ voices at Sacre Coeur,
des apéritifs, des escargots,
the bowls of café au lait,
and the time a woman
mistook me for a native –
however that happened! – it was
a little touch of grace
that I would gladly send you
if I could only find a
carte postale big enough
to grip it in its beak
and fly it across the sea


My friends at Shabd Aaweg recently had a month of writing prompts for National Poetry Month. Paris Postcard was one of them. I didn’t manage to share this poem while they had the prompts going for entry, so here it is, now, for you! Who else loves Paris?

Ode, to Coffee

Hipstamatic app shot of the first coffee I was served in an actual mug in a cafe in over a year

Recently, my friend Shawna wrote on her Instagram about how she had to temporarily give up coffee. Shawna has four kiddos, and she homeschools, so you can imagine with what trepidation she was facing this sacrifice. I read her post right about the time I was making my own daily cup, and the combo inspired me to try out the new-to-me ode form in honor of the delectable devilish concoction so many of us adore. Shawna, and everybody, this is for you!

Oh hallowed nectar, rich and capped in white!
Strongest cup of daily refuge,
I love the bright
aroma from the centrifuge
that grinds your beans down fine with motored might.
Your honeyed drip, much anticipated
by old and young alike:
they start the hike
from dawn til dusk with sleep deprived minds abated.
A morning out of whack,
set right by java black,
or servings downright huge.
Mine I take with milk and sugar,
sweetness adding to the deluge
of caffeine’s jolting spur,
but however it might arrive,
we all agree, to some degree,
it helps keep us alive.

Tropical fruit, lovingly picked by hand,
prize of Cancer and Capricorn,
gift of the land,
of the valley or hillside born.
Fair trade helps farmers make a stand
for their commodity so highly sought.
From plant to roaster bound,
then freshly ground,
the whole production battle is a fight well fought.
What kind of brew today?
For here, or take away?
A klatch is gaily formed
where avid fans come together
with music. Hanging out’s the norm
no matter the weather,
in fact, the greyer the better:
we stay all day, we chat and play,
to the cafe tethered.

How we revere the skill of baristas,
turning cups of joe into art.
Mona Lisas,
whose sly smiles always hit the mark.
Students, housewives, even fashionistas
come pay homage at their bar-like altars.
Espresso lovers know
what pressure shows:
a well run machine’s elixir never falters.
The very best of them
become our first-name friends,
tending us, heart to heart,
like doctors with shots of caffeine,
they understand our weaker parts
and what addiction means.
Craftsmen, painting pictures in foam,
they serve us well, and live to tell
customer quirks at home.

Delicious grail of warmth, disguised as fuel,
daily ritual well cherished,
both kind and cruel.
Too much of you is nightmarish,
still we seek you out for our renewal.
The process alone helps get us going:
the anticipation
of elation,
while suspicions of dependency are growing.
The morning starts with haste
for your nostalgic taste,
where the cobwebs perish.
Sure, we could give you up, but why
start the day cranky and bearish
instead of feeling spry?
As long as you can wake us up,
gentle lover, like no other,
with you we’ll fill our cup.


Shoutout to William Wordsworth, whose piece Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood inspired the meter and rhyme scheme for my coffee ode.

First Black-Out Poetry Poem

The physical copy

the room, well-dressed with
meticulously
tall, thin, angular
eyes like a thunderbird seated

oil and emery prepare
a seal, drilling that it
might be smoothed

The golden glance,
dusty, held high
to visit the design suspect
engagingly far (away)

Low the days for Babylon,
strange as an envoy
of peace seemed

Low, the days


Our local library prepared a number of black-out poetry kits for locals to take and try, in honor of National Poetry Month. I had been meaning to play with this technique for a long time, but it took my daughter noticing the free kits for it to finally happen. I’ve doctored the words a little to help it make sense. . . . I’m still not sure how much it really helps, but I’m sharing the result with you anyway!

Have you tried black-out poetry? Are you a pro at it? I would love to see some examples!

Check out what writer Christopher J. Luna does with this kind of poetry, plus cutting and pasting and collaging and generally making brilliant things with words!

Morning Observations

Central Texas Philharmonic | photo by Amy Jasek (digital)

The song of the morning
is a lot of ecstatic tweets,
high pitched messages,
and low slung motor grindings

All around, in the houses,
people are working,
watching TV, surfing on WiFi,
rejoicing, grieving.

All around, outside,
urban nature goes about
its own business, with all
the seriousness of a concert
pianist responding
to the conductor.


Just a few words made on a recent spring morning out on my patio, with a coffee. Where do you like to write, if you write in the morning?

Thank you for reading!

Evening, after the rain

Caddo Lake State Park, Forest Trail (TX) | Hasselblad 500cm & Portra 800

The backyard glows
like an emerald, the leaves are
gemstones in a dark forest,
reflecting the dying light of the rain,
while the wet wood of bark
and fence posts offers no bite,
just molders away with a
mushroom aura, anticipating
the decaying gloom.

Earlier a rabbit hopped
through the soft marsh of the grass
searching, investigating, hopeful

They aren’t leaves, they are drops
of jade, and peridot, shining above a
glade of malachite blades,
while the topaz sky lowers its skirts
into a sapphire sea


If this poem seems somewhat derivative, it is: a couple of days ago I purposely wrote a poem after Pablo Neruda (whose writing I adore), so I had the names of gemstones still lingering in my brain. These words will be included in my Camp NaNo Project . . . . I *think*. Like everything else in life, it remains a work in progress!

Thank you for reading! If you feel like writing something about how your own little patch of the earth looks in the evening after it rains, I would love to read it!

Wildflowers

Medium format film | Ondu pinhole camera

With sunshine and grace
you present your joyful face
to brighten this place

Nourished by autumn
the seeds wait in secret hope
for the coming spring

In storm the showers
of restorative powers:
the earth re-flowers

And bees run the race
a buzz of furious pace
through the garden space

So much more than commonplace
far too wild to be encased
in a vase
Leave them for the wind to chase
til time gathers all
in its sweet embrace



This poem is in response to a prompt from RDW World , who for a year now has had a 365 prompt project going that he then publishes into books. Personally I think what he has been doing is terrific, not only for the community he’s built but also for the opportunity he gives writers to be published in an anthology that you can hold in your hand!

I put the first haiku stanza on my Instagram, and am sharing the entire piece here. Thank you for reading!