Make Way for Goslings (on Capital Boulevard)

You are lucky, little geese—

traffic is light this morning,

and I am behind the wheel.


I went to a writing conference Saturday (Triangle Area Freelancers’ Write Now! conference—they did a great job). As I drove there around 8am on a state highway in an urban area, I had to brake suddenly for a family of geese padding into my lane. I quickly glanced in the rear-view mirror and was relieved there were no cars immediately behind me. To the best of my knowledge, the family made it safely across the road. Whew.

NaPoWriMo final report #NPM15

I am happy to report I successfully completed NaPoWriMo—30 poems in 30 days.

The first 19 poems were posted here, generally in response to some prompt. The last 11 are part of a series I’m developing. Since they are such early drafts, there’s not a lot worth sharing from the poems themselves, but I do have a few observations:

  • I made the notes that are the basis of these poems almost a year ago. They are structured by day over a period of time. I am finding that almost every day has a sort of theme. Some kind of image or story that resonates or repeats. Completely unintentional, just how things played out.
  • I am also finding some themes that run throughout the days/poems.
  • As I revise, I am wondering if I will find a way to make these themes or recurring elements more prominent through form of individual poems or structure of the series.

I may offer an update periodically, but for now it is just nice to have a big chunk of raw material to work with. 🙂

NaPoWriMo update Day 29

Since I stopped posting new poems after Day 19, I’ve been working on the larger project I mentioned. So far I’ve drafted 8 poems. I’m not planning to post them because they need to get “connected” and revised to work together. But so far 19+8=27. Just 3 more poems today and tomorrow to hit the goal of 30 poems in 30 days.

Glad I shifted focus. 🙂

Day 19 #NPM15 – Landay

A poem a day? Uninspiring.

I need a new challenge to expand my brain’s wiring.


The Day 19 prompt from napowrimo was to write a landay (which I actually did that day—just slow getting it posted). This is a form that I had not heard of. In a nutshell, it is 2 lines of 22 syllables (9+13) that rhymes. And the history is intriguing. It is a form of poetry from Afghanistan, typically used by Pashtun women, generally only spoken and often covering themes of love, grief, homeland, war, and separation. If you click through to the article about landays, you can scan it quickly for examples.

This is the third year I’ve done NaPoWriMo and so far this time around, I haven’t been generating anything particularly interesting. It has felt more like an dull obligation rather than a creative inspiration. I’m not giving up on writing poetry daily, but I decided to shift focus. For a while now I’ve had some raw notes that I have been meaning to working into a series of poems, so I’m going to start working with those. I’m not sure they will lend themselves to a daily poem, but I’ll offer periodic updates on my progress, maybe sharing a few lines if it makes sense.

OK, so happy NaPoWriMo, everyone—enjoy your writing!

Day 18 #NPM15 – Two vowels/Two fowls

black hens preen

beaks make feathers gleam

each hen a queen

Margaret and Anne preening

Margaret and Anne preening


Check out that twisty neck and whitish eyelid

Check out that twisty neck and whitish eyelid

When chickens preen they take oil from the urophygial gland near the base of the tail and distribute it throughout their feathers. Preening cleans the feathers and the oil keeps the feather “filaments” (that’s probably not the right word) together and improves the feathers’ insulation and waterproof properties. When the oil gets “stale,” the chickens dustbathe to get it off; then they preen with fresh oil. (I don’t mean to sound like it is an infrequent activity—chickens actually spend a fair amount of the day preening.)

Also kind of interesting, preening tends to take place as a group activity. From an evolutionary standpoint, it is probably safer to have the whole flock preen together; that way at any one time some chicken’s eye is watching for predators. With our little flock, only two at the moment, they have demonstrated a preference to be under a bush while preening—also a safety instinct, I would guess.

The whitish eyelid you see in the second picture (it’s on Anne) is the nictitating membrane—sort of an extra eyelid. My understanding is that chickens use it kind of as PPE (personal protective equipment). You tend to see it when they are dustbathing (presumably to keep the dust out of their eyes) or when they are preening (I suppose to avoid poking themselves with a feather as they’re digging in). They use a different eyelid (the lower one) when sleeping. The top eyelid apparently doesn’t move much.

BTW today’s poetry prompt was to write a poem using only two vowels (a and e in this case). Not a very good poem, but it was fun to get pix of the preening.

Day 17 #NPM15 – Wonderful treats for little wonders everywhere

Want to make someone giggle on command?
I had a huge crush on gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

Vinyl records are definitely worth celebrating.
Their field of vision wraps nearly all the way around their head!

The train was still going full speed when their conversation became louder.
If this pic doesn’t scream, we don’t know what does.

When even Daleks think you’re a monster, you might have a problem.
When did we become a therapy society?

Why did the chicken cross the road?
#dragonslovetacos (at least 48 grams recommended daily).

Yes, there is an American bias in the Hugo awards.
Technique tip: Use kitchen scissors to easily cut.

I never thought I’d write a science poem.
Fantastic! Thank you so much for your hard work today!

I’m doing things and stuff in the real world over the weekend.
Supervillains have no respect for anyone’s schedule.

I warned you this prompt was a little strange.


Today’s prompt came from Write a “social media”-style poem. Namecheck all of your friends. Quote from their texts, tweets, FB status updates, twitter accounts, and blogposts, and the back of the cereal box on your breakfast table.

Well, I quoted from Twitter and blog posts and the back of the cereal box on my breakfast table. Skipped the namechecking though. (Let me know if you really WANT to be namechecked.)

Bonus points if you can name the cereal…

Day 16 #NPM15 – Ode to my Gallus gallus domesticus

Oh, my dear Gallus gallus domesticus,
I remember your hatching—a precocial chick—
then those months as a pullet before you
matured into a hen. I want you to know
I’ve never cared about your TBC1D1 gene,
but I sure do appreciate that TSHR switch.
Operant conditioning? Couldn’t manage you
without it. I’m impressed with your beak’s
somatic sensory nerve cells.
And your 31 vocalizations—I might not
recognize them all, but I do know
Yes, my Gallus gallus domesticus,
I am grateful to your red junglefowl progenitor,
but ever so glad you can’t aviate as well.

Margaret and Daffodil

Margaret and Daffodil


Today’s prompt came from Poetic Asides: write a science poem. As I am taking Coursera’s course “Chicken Behaviour and Welfare” aka #chickenmooc, I thought I would apply my Week 1 learnings.

And now, once again, in English…


Ode to my Chicken

Oh, my dear chicken,
I remember your hatching—a hungry little fluffball—
then those months as a teenager before you
bloomed into a hen. I want you to know
I’ve never cared if you get big (we don’t plan to eat you),
but I sure do appreciate your eggs all winter.
Scratch is your favorite food—gets you back in the coop
every time. I’m impressed how your beak can pick up
oatmeal dust from the pavement.
And your 31 funny noises—I might not
recognize them all, but I do know
Yes, my dear chicken,
I am grateful to your red junglefowl ancestor,
but ever so glad you can’t fly as well.

Day 15#NPM15 – To My Poem

Poem, little poem,
would you please just write yourself?
Poem, little poem,
time to put you on the shelf.

April’s halfway done,
and I am wearing out.
If you could help this once,
I would tell no one about
your kindness…

Poem, little poem,
please don’t make me beg and plead.
Poem, little poem,
if you write yourself, I’ll read.


Today’s meta prompt came from write a poem that addresses itself or some aspect of itself. Can you tell I wrote it late at night? On April 15?

Day 14 #NPM15 – Loss (blackout poem)

Death relived the race, flying
first to tragedy, next to context.
Imagine a patch, a circle with people
and flowers. Death did something good—
offered help, gave gentle assignments.
But Nature answered with violence quickly.
You wouldn’t believe the block.

So that’s the easy-reading version. A blackout poem is where you take an article (newspaper, magazine, etc.) and black out all the words except the ones you want to keep. The spacing of the words is part of the challenge. Below is a version that more closely mimics the spacing in the article this poem came from. It gets messy to read because WordPress doesn’t allow very good control of spacing (in the context of poetry).




the race


first                to                                    tragedy





a patch               a circle with




death                       did something













you wouldn’t believe

the block.

Day 13 #NPM – Riddle

Count your exemptions—is it more than one?
Aargh, I can’t wait for this task to be done.

Look at income too—do all these go into line twenty-two?
Call the IRS… No! And wait in that long queue?!

Union dues, job travel, and tax prep expense—all three!
Let us rejoice—we can deduct this fee.

And we’ve done part one, part two, part three—what no part four?
That schedule’s done! Oh, lord, there are more?

Income on Schedule C—gross profit on line five.
No, wait, that’s wrong. Will these numbers ever jive?

Golly, I think we missed a deduction on line twenty-six.
To amend or not to amend? Is last year’s mistake worth the fix?

Alternative minimum tax? No. Foreign tax? Line forty-seven.
Xeroxing days are over (thank goodness); pressing Submit will be Heaven.

Enter amount from Form 1040, line thirty-eight…
Stupid stupid date! Why in the world did I procrastinate?

On the last schedule, the last form at a quarter to nine.
Wine? Yes, pour! And then, here, “sign” (though there is no dotted line).

Electronic submission on the 15th at half past ten—
Done! For now anyway…’til next April it starts again…


I bet you can guess what I spent my weekend doing… Today’s prompt for a “riddle” poem came courtesy of—and did you solve it??