Hear Tell No Lie And Hear Direct (NaPoWriMo Day 30!!!)

Hear tell no Lie and hear direct—

Defeat in Straightness stands

Too dark for our robust Despair

The Lie’s grotesque demands

As Darkness to the Elders teased

With obfuscation mean

The Lie must uncloud suddenly

So every beast be seen—


Today’s prompt from NaPoWriMo: Find a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite. For example, you might turn “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” to “I won’t contrast you with a winter’s night.”

I was pretty happy with how well this turned out. And of course, here’s the original from Emily Dickinson.

Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightening to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind—


It’s been a pleasure, all. Thanks for prompting, playing, and reading along. Happy NaPoWriMo!!


And I’m linking up at dVerse for the first time. Have been lurking for a while and decided it’s time to participate. 🙂 Go check it out for lots of great poetry.

Xerox haiku (NaPoWriMo Day 27)

Back to Haiku Heights today. The prompt is “Xerox.” Two attempts…


black & white copies

duplexed, stapled, neatly stacked

my collated life


paper jam, blinking

lights, toner low, toner spill

my Monday morning


And the countdown continues…3 days to go with NaPoWriMo…hang in there, everyone!

Erasure poem (NaPoWriMo Day 26)

NaPoWriMo’s prompt for the day was to write an erasure poem. In a nutshell, take a long poem and white out (or black out) the words you don’t want, leaving the remaining words in their relative space. I’ve done similar prompts before, so was game for a new attempt, however my first problem was getting distracted while looking for a long enough poem. I finally said Enough! Just choose! and ended up with Marge Piercy’s My mother’s body. I used the first two (of four) sections. (The link takes you to the entire poem.)

Note: I’m attempting to post this in the correct form by copying the poem, then changing to white font for the “erasures.”  We’ll see if it works…


The dark socket of the year
the pit, the cave where the sun lies down
and threatens never to rise,
when despair descends softly as the snow
covering all paths and choking roads:

then hawkfaced pain seized you
threw you so you fell with a sharp
cry, a knife tearing a bolt of silk.
My father heard the crash but paid
no mind, napping after lunch

yet fifteen hundred miles north
I heard and dropped a dish.
Your pain sunk talons in my skull
and crouched there cawing, heavy
as a great vessel filled with water,

oil or blood, till suddenly next day
the weight lifted and I knew your mind
had guttered out like the Chanukah
candles that burn so fast, weeping
veils of wax down the chanukiya.

Those candles were laid out,
friends invited, ingredients bought
for latkes and apple pancakes,
that holiday for liberation
and the winter solstice

when tops turn like little planets.
Shall you have all or nothing
take half or pass by untouched?
Nothing you got, Nun said the dreydl
as the room stopped spinning.

The angel folded you up like laundry
your body thin as an empty dress.
Your clothes were curtains
hanging on the window of what had
been your flesh and now was glass.

Outside in Florida shopping plazas
loudspeakers blared Christmas carols
and palm trees were decked with blinking
lights. Except by the tourist
hotels, the beaches were empty.

Pelicans with pregnant pouches
flapped overhead like pterodactyls.
In my mind I felt you die.
First the pain lifted and then
you flickered and went out.

I walk through the rooms of memory.
Sometimes everything is shrouded in dropcloths,
every chair ghostly and muted.

Other times memory lights up from within
bustling scenes acted just the other side
of a scrim through which surely I could reach

my fingers tearing at the flimsy curtain
of time which is and isn’t and will be
the stuff of which we’re made and unmade.

In sleep the other night I met you, seventeen
your first nasty marriage just annulled,
thin from your abortion, clutching a book

against your cheek and trying to look
older, trying to look middle class,
trying for a job at Wanamaker’s,

dressing for parties in cast off
stage costumes of your sisters. Your eyes
were hazy with dreams. You did not

notice me waving as you wandered
past and I saw your slip was showing.
You stood still while I fixed your clothes,

as if I were your mother. Remember me
combing your springy black hair, ringlets
that seemed metallic, glittering;

remember me dressing you, my seventy year
old mother who was my last dollbaby,
giving you too late what your youth had wanted.


Russell asked in the Comments what this poem might look in lines. Here are a couple of options I played with.

The dark

silk mind

dropped skull


veils down



all or nothing


angel thin glass

empty pouches

flimsy stuff of sleep


a book

a job


your eyes


notice me

remember me



The dark

silk mind

dropped skull


veils down



all or nothing


angel thin glass

empty pouches

flimsy stuff of sleep


a book

a job


your eyes


notice me

remember me


Volcano haiku (NaPoWriMo Day 25)

As we near the end of NaPoWriMo, I’m looking for new sources of inspiration. Thus a visit to my friends at Haiku Heights, who have been writing a haiku a day for April A2Z Heights. (Hi, everyone!) Today’s prompt was “volcano.”


obsidian glints

slivers of midnight

a broken bottle

Anagram Self-Portrait (NaPoWriMo Day 24)

Oh, boy. I thought today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was going to be fun, but it turned out to be tougher than I thought—especially at the end of a long day of thinking. Here it is:

Plug your name into an anagram generator, like this one, and try writing a self-portrait poem using words that are generated.

I got all the word combinations that could be generated with my whole name—nearly 15,000. I narrowed it down to just the individual words—almost 600. Still a lot to work with. But here goes…

Fib-Wearing Risk


A riser
I sang fa-re
I sing refrain
in swankier garb

A barre
Skiing rare air
Biking in gear
I ran
We erg

I ask
I err
I ask anew


I wear a ring
Kafers are kin

Grab gin
Swig sake
Win wine
Bring brew



Secret Triolet (NaPoWriMo Day 23)

I keep my secrets tucked inside

because that’s where I know they’re safe

from prying eyes and wounded pride.

I keep my secrets tucked inside

securely wrapped and tightly tied.

Though sometimes they begin to chafe

I keep my secrets tucked inside

because that’s where I know they’re safe.


I realize this is not a particularly sophisticated (or even clever) poem, but I’ve never written a triolet before and wanted to give it a shot at the prompting of NaPoWriMo. Our host’s description:

“A triolet is an eight-line poem. All the lines are in iambic tetramenter (for a total of eight syllables per line), and the first, fourth, and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines. This means that the poem begins and ends with the same couplet. Beyond this, there is a tight rhyme scheme (helped along by the repetition of lines) — ABaAabAB.”

Got it??

On top of that, I layered Adele Kenny’s prompt: secrets.

Afternoon (NaPoWriMo Day 21)

drunk kids next door say

stupid things that can be heard

through open windows


Prompts were “afternoon” from Adele Kenny and “write a senryu” from Robert Lee Brewer. That’s about all I can manage after another day of poetry workshop.

Fermata (NaPoWriMo Day 20)

I’m taking a poetry workshop with Dorianne Laux and Joseph Millar at the Raleigh Review this weekend. Here’s a draft from this afternoon; the prompt was to write a “waiting” poem.


Waiting at the end of the driveway
after my weekly piano lesson
I tuck my mittened hands in my pockets
music pressed against my side

Waiting at the end of the driveway
after my Tuesday night piano lesson
I shift side to side gently cracking
the layers of ice over air over concrete

Waiting at the end of the driveway
after my 5pm piano lesson
I labor to be patient with my mother
who often forgets one of us (at least it’s not the rest stop)

Waiting at the end of the driveway
after my 30-minute piano lesson and
the next student’s 30-minute piano lesson
I return in the dark to the back door

My teacher’s kind phone call is no honey for my chagrin
no salve for my embarrassment from
waiting at the end of the driveway
after my (let’s face it) mediocre piano lesson

Scarlet Letter (NaPoWriMo Day 19)

“But this had been a sin of passion, not of principle, nor even purpose.”
—Chapter XVIII, ‘A Flood of Sunshine’


She lies on her belly,

relishes the cool sheet.

Her back radiates heat.

Blisters on her shoulders

swell to globes, quarter-sized,

building pressure to weep.

Contraction will come, the

tightening of skin, the

prickling of needles. Then

snake-like delight, peeling

dermis to start soft and

supple again. A threat

from Dad to paint on her

back in zinc oxide an

S for stupid

S for senseless

S for skin cancer

When will she learn?


Today’s prompt came from Robert Lee Brewer: write a burn poem.

Time and Space (NaPoWriMo Day 18)

Too much, too little,
it doesn’t
matter in the

Asked questions.
No answers.

potential—nothing or
anything in the
constant hum of


Today’s prompt was from Adele Kenny: time and space. I threw in the acrostic as a bonus. 🙂