Found poetry: book spines

So what has happened to my Blog Elul poetry, you ask? I’ve been writing, but the poems have been either too drafty (rough, unfinished) or too personal to post. That’s a good thing, though, because it means I have material to work with later, when I don’t have a daily prompt to inspire me.

I spent a couple hours with a friend at the library today, and I can never resist the urge to make poetry out of book titles. So here’s something I cobbled together using words that jumped out at me from the stacks.


to whisper her name all day and a night
unbroken against the tide
white hot light of the world long gone
a life of joy in a heartbeat

burning once upon a river
too late to say goodbye
guilt by association
hidden places never far from home

Prompted poetry: know

As I typed the title for this poem, my fingers kept keying in “medication” rather than “meditation” (just did it again – three times in a row!) I think that speaks volumes in itself.

Meditation for the day

Be still and know
the Unknowable Source of all Being

Be still and know
all being

Be still and know
the source

Be still and know
the unknowable

Be still and know

Be still




Prompted poetry: accept

This is harder than it looks – so hard in fact that some days it is beyond our ability, though never beyond our capacity.


to accept is to receive, to make a place in our
lives for that which is given, even when
it does not seem like a gift


Prompted poetry: search

Odd as it seems, this is a long poem for me. The first draft was shorter and much more dense and terse, but I feared it would be too opaque. Now I worry I may have gone too far in the other direction – did I draw this out too much? What do you think?


When she began looking, she was in high
spirits, cheerful and confident that it had simply been
mislaid. After sifting through clutter on table
and counter, she paused to consider when she had seen
it last and where.

She retraced her steps through several
rooms, spottily, not quite certain
which day was which, their sameness
as sad as it was bewildering. And still she believed
it would turn up.

She moved every piece of furniture, discovering
all manner of things lost but not at the moment
desired. She saw her cleaning had been lacking in certain
areas but did not allow herself to be distracted
by the shame.

Breathing steadily to quell
the panic she felt bubbling along the edges, she turned
all the rugs, shook them clear of dust
and hair and other small bits from shoes
and life.

At length she dropped to her knees
without hope in the center of the smallest
room in the house. A sob tore from her throat
as she glimpsed a metallic glint
beneath a baseboard.


Prompted poetry: act

Two novels I grabbed at random to read this summer feature works of Shakespeare as a motif. Coincidence? I think not.


There is no script, but the structure remains
obvious: deep darkness sets one act
apart from the next and even though the scene

changes are not always so clearly announced, everyone knows
when the action shifts. The trick to surviving
so much uncertainty is to trust the ensemble, the wit

and timing of the other players. This is also, not
coincidentally, the most difficult part.


Prompted poetry: prepare

As one who finds joy and deep meaning in cycles, I delight in the many ways we humans keep track of and celebrate the passage of time. I follow several different calendars and cherish them as interweaving lenses through which to see my life. Some days the view takes my breath away.

Upon leaving my firstborn at college

This is what it was about all along – the hopes
and prayers, the planning and wondering
where you would go and what you might
do. Eighteen years – more than that, really,

when you count the long, slow months in
utero and the decision before that to get off
on the parenting side of the fence and see
what would happen – all those years of work

and I still feel wholly unprepared.


A birthday gift

Today I honor the anniversary of my youngest sister’s birth with a poem I  drafted exactly one year ago. Happy birthday, dearest Julie, and may you enjoy many happy returns of the day!

For my sister on her birthday

Pulled from bed to witness
that giant leap, I think of you in grainy images
of one small step and boot prints, a watershed
moment on a waterless world

Hours later you arrived
with police escort, crossed the dangerous
void into life, a tiny explorer setting foot
from watery darkness into cold light

Crabby moon baby
that you are, you sidestep
through perilous tides of molting and shape
fantastic structures from the flotsam
left by receding waves

Remember that the combers will always roll you
back to shore no matter where
the current takes you, sure as labor
pains, steady as the moon’s
compulsive ebb and flow