September successes

I did it! I wrote a poem every day during the month of September!

You’ll notice I didn’t post a poem for each day; in fact, I stopped posting after September 10. This was another success in that it led directly to the above-mentioned success. By letting go of posting, I freed myself from the double tyrannies of time and quality. More than once I crawled into bed and realized I hadn’t written that day, so I took a few moments to scrawl something in the back of my crossword book. This worked surprisingly well, because I found myself revising when I later transcribed those notes into my writing journal.

I didn’t produce much of great merit, but I learned valuable things about process. Many end-of-the-day scribbles captured poems that had formed in mind earlier and might otherwise have been lost. And because I periodically comb through my writing journal for inspiration, some of those phrases or ideas might yield something better down the road.

All in all, it was a good experience and one I plan to leverage come November, when I’ll piggy-back on the energy of NaNoWriMo to propel my own writing.

Happy October!

A ghost leaf (that’s what I call them) from the neighbor’s sweetgum tree.

The one-third mark

We’re a third of the way through September and I’ve managed to compose a poem every day so far. Those short poems have done a good job of keeping my head in the game when I don’t have much time to write.

(Sep 9)

Willow is the emo child
of the Deciduous family,
bangs forever hanging
across her face.

(Sep 10)

This was inspired by an event in early April and a post at Formidable Woman Sanctuary:

The pandemic in two small items of clothing

While walking on my street –
a street that goes nowhere
and leads to nothing, just circles
around the neighborhood
and back on itself – I saw
a pair of crew socks in the road
like they’d fallen off the roof
of a car or been dropped.

Separated, slumped, bedraggled,
abandoned – I felt as lost
as they appeared and as full
of unanswered questions.

It really is September…

Sun shine

Yesterday’s poem deserves a post all its own. It was inspired by greeting designs printed by Egg Press, including one from a young woman I first met when she was a baby. To no one’s surprise, she continues to do amazing things. (Nia is also featured in a video on the press web site.)

Hear, now:/Here. Now.
(after Sonya Montenegro and Nia Musiba)

Listen. The sun is speaking
and we are dancing, hands
curved above us, swimming
in the star-washed air.


Italian white sunflower (actually a lovely creamy yellow)

A little behind as usual…

Four poems in a single post sounds like a lot, but they’re small so it’s not really.

(Sep 4)

chainsaws roar
wood chippers growl
so homeowners don’t have to hear
the weeping of trees

(Sep 5)

In one of those odd
slips of the mind, I saw
“boardroom” but read
“boredom” instead.

(Sep 6)

Ever the late bloomer

I just want to sit and read
or write or crochet now that my brain
has shaken off its pandemic

paralysis, but the world is back
at full throttle and I missed my chance
to savor the quiet unfolding

(Sep 7)

Outdoor poetry circle

Poets occupy the four corners
of the deck, safely distant
but close enough to hear
over the güiro of cicadas.


And now for the garden photo:

Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Blue River II’ reblooming!

30 days hath September…

August wasn’t a total bust, writing-wise, but I didn’t set any records. I’ve decided it was a fallow period in which my brain rested from writing, though I did a fair amount of reading and tending to domestic matters.

September doesn’t belong to any special writing category that I know of, probably because it’s when a lot of people go back to school. But it is a 30-day month, and thus ripe for some kind of writing challenge. Indeed, a quick search turned up a boatload of September writing challenge prompts, as well as a number of generic 30-day writing challenges that fit.

In the spirit of those challenges, I’ve decided I want to write something each day this month, just to keep myself going. Work and family have demanded a lot of time of late, so I am composing in my head during small, stolen moments and trying to commit the results to memory until I can record them.

Here are the first three days’ efforts, followed by a photo from the garden.

(Sep 1)

This day has been too many
weeks long; this morning
I thought of a poem,
but now it’s gone.

(Sep 2)

Of time and timing

I have lost five poems
for every poem I’ve written
because they came to me
at inopportune moments.

(Sep 3)

Tired and frustrated,
I pen short poems that feel
like haiku but aren’t:
a new American form?

And now, the promised garden photo:

Sedum ‘Matrona’ with garlic chives. A bit of salvia ‘Black and Blue’ in the upper right, along with a couple of flies and a goldenrod soldier beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus).

Under the comet

neowise from SBAToday C/2020 F3 (a.k.a. NEOWISE) is a mere 64 million miles from Earth on its way through the solar system. It can be seen (weather and light conditions permitting) in the northern hemisphere, though I haven’t been so fortunate. Photo courtesy of Susanna Barricklow-Arvin. (Thanks, cuz!)


I found this poem in a post by Jason Thayer on Brevity’s non-fiction blog. I wasn’t looking for a poem; I read the post intent on trying out the single-sentence prose form it describes. But the poem wouldn’t let me write anything else until I found it, like a toddler determined to play hide-and-seek regardless of the circumstances.

(after Jason Thayer)

in the morning I see our neighbor
swim her sadness, isolation
knowing hers alone

with loss comes communication
I could not stop wondering
what, how long, whether

there were days she didn’t look
across ill-defined property
the big dark house

walk past my window
if I linger too long
my eyes well


Resonated and touched

I’m catching up on my inbox reading and found some poetry (with a little derangement and omission) in Colleen Chesebro’s commentary on her own poem “Stone Ghosts.”

American carnage
(after Colleen Chesebro)

falling defeated
taste salt tears
like waves

hope flowing
feel the ripples
of change

touched deep
compelled to name
stone ghosts


sunflower july

Italian sunflower with Echinaceas

Day 30, LexPoMo 2020

lexpomo2018We’ve reached the final day of Lexington Poetry Month, and it feels bittersweet. I’m going to miss posting at the LexPoMo site, but it will also be nice not to feel so pressed to write and post. Since I only found time to read a handful of the more than 2,000 poems posted there this month, I plan to go back during July and give them the attention they deserve. That’s the truly sweet part about LexPoMo being over, now that I think about it.

Today’s poem was drawn from Stanley Kuntz’ “Halley’s Comet” and Stephen Burt’s discussion of it in The Poem is You, pp. 169-73.

Day 29, LexPoMo 2020

lexpomo2018I returned to Jo Bell and company’s 52 today and didn’t get past page 15. That’s okay; it’s all part of the work.

Day 28, LexPoMo 2020

lexpomo2018Sometimes I my brain scrambles what I hear and I have to cock my head and say, “Huh?” Such a moment inspired this poem.