13. "L" is for "Lanterne" (Write a poem in the lanterne form.)
Indoor Soccer Field
the floor after
- April 16, 2015
14. "M" is for "Memory" (Write a poem based on a memory).
First Ride on the Philadelphia El
You say you remember
all the amazing people. I remember
clutching your tiny hand, a stroller
clasped painfully under my other arm,
wondering how other mothers did this.
whizzing through tunnels
zooming around curves. For me,
watching your face
reflected in the window, my eyes
photographing your joy
while my ears listened for our
stop. Our pushing toward
the door, and elation as we
were spit out at the station.
- April 19, 2015
15. "N" is for "Narrative" (Write a narrative poem, perhaps based on an oft-repeated family story.)
(for my sister)
For those sick sand-choked moments
when Mom, our brother and I combed
the beach for you, so young and lost,
I must have been
in a fugue state. The lifeguard
scanned the waves, and I
was dazed, tripping over strangers,
ready to look under towels just
to find you. Even then
I held hope, like a slick pearl
in my chest, smoothing the edge
of fear, the grit of what could be.
I refused to picture
your frail body subsumed by waves
sunflower hair floating like seaweed.
Or worse -- you simply
vanishing, a specter of memory
to haunt me forever. No.
I held those thoughts down, believing
praying to see you dancing back to us.
And you did -- glided
back from your walk confused
by our frantic hugs, our mother's
And our timeline
swung back in place as I finally
- April 19, 2015
16. "O" is for "Ottava rima." (Write a poem using the ottava rima form.)
The Owner of J'Adore Bakery Finds A Recipe for Love
When she laughed at him, he knew she was the one.
An old flame confronted him on their first date,
steaming mad, though he thought she knew they were done.
Vicki guffawed, and he knew she was his mate.
She chatted with his ex, made her see the fun
behind the heartache. What's not to love about
a woman like that? He couldn't live without
her, wanted to drop to his knees in the park,
propose to her in front of the chess table.
A Casanova reformed, no question mark.
She refused a kiss, said he was unable
to reform. He vowed to make her feel the spark
he felt. After years of shirking the label
of fiance, he wanted to change his ways.
and smell her jasmine-scented hair all his days.
Through chess and sweet talk he won her careful heart
and saw his love reflected in her grey eyes.
He proposed, asking her to be his fresh start.
She clapped her hands and said yes, to his surprise.
Suddenly, he feared it all would fall apart,
that he'd be tempted to do something unwise,
like flirt too strongly, or kiss a former love;
would sink to old ways, instead of rise above.
He bought a machine, advertised to change thought:
metal lighted globe with a hole for your head.
His mother watched as he leaned in. The hole caught
his shoulders. His good intentions turned to dread.
Could he really change his programming? Ought
he alter nature, change his purple to red?
His apprehension melted, replaced by bliss.
He could now embrace his new life with a kiss.
Instead of seeking lovers, he now sought friends;
focused on his bakery and wedding plans.
His path was smooth and narrow, no twisted ends.
He courted fame with customers and food fans,
but kept the machine on which his joy depends
(metallic humming under the clinks of pans).
His new wife wanted six kids, and so he might
need to upgrade his desires again some night.
- April 21, 2015
17. "P" is for "Prose poem." (Write a prose poem.)
Wisdom from My Son, Nearly 5
When the sky is blue and the puffy clouds are up, it is day. Sometimes we can feel the sun shine, warm on our arms. And when we can see a shadow, that means the sun is really high in the sky. There are so many planets in space. Letters and numbers are everywhere. When you're washing your hands and you have your raincoat on, it's okay if it gets wet. Buses have shadows, too. Tow-trucks have hooks. Signs are everywhere. Balloons can leak air. Level crossings are just some tracks and some roads that go over each other. Glasses help you see better. You can play a trumpet if it's not broken. Snow plows clear away snow. Tow trucks pull away broken cars. Schools are where you learn stuff (you're supposed to say that into the microphone). Some cranes have chains. Your shadow can't smile. You shadow doesn't have eyes. And it doesn't have glasses even if you have glasses. But it can be a crocodile: snap, snap!
- April 21, 2015
18. "Q" is for "Quinzaine." (Write a poem in the quinzaine form.)
In the Orthopedist's Office
Waiting rooms absorb all sound.
Why do they call so
- April 24, 2015
19. "R" is for "Repetition." (Write a poem using repetition.)
City of Brotherly Love
A hiker and her dog march through green ferns
on the side of the SEPTA bus, the caption reading,
"Take a hike. With love, Philadelphia."
Home of the Liberty Bell
and the fountain in Love Park my son says
looks like a volcano. I moved here nearly 15 years ago
with love, Philadelphia. My then-
boyfriend helped me unpack the crowded U-Haul
into my duplex with the multipurpose room,
the bedroom that had once been a back porch
and the basement with a stream running through it.
But though I was scared at the newness of it all, I soon
grew used to seeing skyline on the horizon. I explored
the city with love. Philadelphia, land of quirky museums
and many-flavored restaurants. Cobblestones,
pocked brick, wrought iron and dusty links
to my family's Quaker past. Soon I was, like anyone else,
falling asleep on the El and waking intuitively before my stop,
writing word sketches on the train. And when
that boyfriend said good-bye,
with love Philadelphia buoyed me up. So distracted
by sniffing around history with my dog, hanging
with friends and digging film festivals and concerts, my pain
felt remote. A far thought in a removed city somewhere
else, not a city suffused with love. Philadelphia.
- April 21, 2015
20. Write a stream-of-consciousness poem.
Into the Woods
A train chuffs by as my son
sleeps in the back seat. Perhaps
the radio's beat takes him to dream stations,
like blooming cherry trees dropping petaled scenes,
a place where I can't follow,
where he can kick fences and sing.
Like my brother's dilapidated clubhouse, a shack
of brightly painted wood, crammed with
artifacts he and his friends found
exploring the woods behind our house. On days like this
I remember how it felt, running breakneck down
the grassy hill to the stream, where we
disappeared in trees and, with a string hooked to
a fallen branch, fished for imaginary trout. We knew
the unmarked pathways through wood lot and field
and the gully where an antique car sat, a 1930s sedan
shot full of holes. We imagined
a gangster shootout, Bonnie and Clyde. Knowing
it was probably just an aimless gun owner.
Or even a kid like us.
The shushing wind, the percolating brook.
Crushed warm grass and sweat beading
on the forehead. In this sacred space,
we were protected. Even if the bullies had followed
us there, my brother and I would have led them
into briars, lassoed them with climbing ivy,
left them for the Big Bad Wolf who stalked the woods
after dusk. I had seen him in my dreams and knew
he ruled as soon as the lights dimmed. A simple thing
can bring it all back: the smell of honeysuckle, call
of a mourning dove, and I am there again
laughing loud into the spongy green.
- April 21, 2015
21. "S" is for "Sevenling" (Write a poem in the sevenling form.)
Late for an Appointment
Waiting people jam the hair salon.
I give my son the only chair.
Reluctantly, he sits down.
This morning's chill felt like winter.
My broken-armed husband is getting a haircut.
A blonde woman and her daughter just gave us their seats.
Kindness abounds on days cold as Christmas.
- April 25, 2015
22. "U" is for "Utterance." (Write a poem using a question and an intuitive answer, using 5-7-7 syllables.)
Questions from My Son, Playing with His LeapPad
What is a fortress?
Stone walls keep people in
and enemy monsters out.
What is a desert?
Heat blooms like a cactus rose,
lizards scuttle on dry sand.
Why do you love me?
With a tap, you guide rainbow
geysers, color a grey world.
- April 25, 2015