Category Archives: Poem

Featured Poem ~ In the Breast Unit

Standard

I was lucky enough to complete the manuscript (my first collection) last year. I then sat on it for a while before returning for final edits in Spring 2022. It is now finding a home with a publisher. So it brings me great joy to announce Cafe Writers chose to feature my poem In the Breast Unit as the poem of the month.

It can be hard to find places where writing poems about our bodies is an acceptable read. I am grateful to the team for picking this poem.

Proud to be sharing the space with so many wonderful Poem of the Month Picks.

Poem of the Month – In the Breast Unit

I was delighted to see/hear incredible headline sets from Kim Moore and Jenny Pagdin and enjoy the always amazing open mic. When I received the email notifying me of this news, I danced!

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 25

Standard

Read the full post here.

Featured participants Jacqui Dempsey-Cohen and Amita Paul.

Our featured online journal for the day is Okay Donkey, I’ll point you to Audrey Hall’s “Old Man in the Kitchen,” and Amorak Huey’s “A Small, Private Sadness.”

Today’s prompt is based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.

I enjoyed the fun of Jacqui Dempsey-Cohen’s poem, although it was Facebook – so I had to resist all temptation to catch up on there! Some of my favourite examples:

I enjoyed the scene described in Amita Paul’s poem and felt incredibly sorry for the grandmother. A very translatable scene! I have a dear memory of our own Great Aunty being wrapped up in curly chord by a then three year old great-great nephew! She was golden, just sat there and let the play happen!

while some of her progeny’s progeny and their progeny

tumble all over her in an excess of affection and youthful exuberance.

I know Okay Donkey and have them listed to submit to. I am very good at letting deadlines whoosh past and since March haven’t submitted anywhere due to life intervening the way it does and the places it leaves us in.

Old Man in the Kitchen by Audrey Hall, a poem which moved me, especially as the last one reminded me of a relative we have recently lost. The passing is heroic and Biblical, the relationship explored so succinctly.

Take the soggy reins dangling
from your veiny hands
away from Sunday breakfast.
I do not need you to split
this egg on the pan’s edge
or slice this banana into circles.

 

splinters
and brambles crowning your corpse.

A Small, Private Sadness by Amorak Huey – at least the title prepared me for the deep inhalations I knew I’d have. This poem brims with sadness and loss.

& this breeze hums your name

& pat a space next to them on the bed
& the temperature falls

& out beyond the pines
a great lake churns & churns.


The aisling is a poetic genre I know. I was taken by some of Maureen’s suggestions on this prompt:

a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.

  • Perhaps she will be the Madonna of the Traffic Lights,
  • or the Mysterious Spirit of Bus Stops.
  • Or maybe you will be addressed by the Lost Lady of the Stony Coves.

So my plan was to go and have a think about who my woman might be – but at the same time I am tempted to skip straight to one of these suggestions.

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

PROCESS NOTES

I came up with 5 possible women (I think I will return to the list and write an aisling for each of them in the future).

Fairly sure Bus Stops were in my head from the suggested ideas but also we have a bus station that despite several revamps ours had some of the old metal bus stands for a while. All updated now, but it amused me the gradual update and how the customer bit came after the rest.

I also have this internal conflict that I moved and lived all over for a decade and when I came back to the county, I promised myself I would live close to but not in the town I was born in. I did for several years and then I met Mr G. and the rest is history.

And today… I am going to share the whole poem!

The Waiting Lady of Green Metal Bus Stops

I used to see you half your life ago, longer –
you’d sit and wait on narrow seats,
head full of thought.
Your frustration of lateness,
your willing belief in the public transport system.

You who saw past the old, green metal bus stands
and looked instead to the sweep of branches
the bank of grass, who would canter over
to the brook to watch water flow over stones.
And read and re-read the timetable

despite knowing your schedule by heart.
I watched you pick at conversations
from those bus stop strangers,
how the ideas would elongate in your mind,
you’d carry them onto the bus

(when it eventually turned up), like precious
cargo, in case you spilled a line before
you reached your destination,
the city of Worcester.
Well, I’m still here and after you

moved away I saw other girls like you,
heads full of dreams, ambitions to leave
this town behind them.
You always knew the pull of this place,
your analogy was more a spider’s web

and trapped flies – but you see the beauty
now you’ve lived in cities without
stars and trees.
You came back to the green, to countryside
and small market towns, to urban sprawl

and this battered, old, bus terminal.
You admired the new digital destination board,
the ever changing roads around this space,
and smiled when you saw the old, familiar
bus stands. I am here to remind you

of this love. Of the attraction of home,
of the importance of roots –
and no matter how bad you think it’s got,
at least you’re not stuck forever
at the Bus Station, waiting.

NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 25

Standard

Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

#Day25

© Joshua Hoehne

© Benjamin Davies

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 20

Standard

Read the full post here.

As of today we are two-thirds of the way through Na/GloPoWriMo 2022.

Today’s featured participants… in response to Day 19’s “command” prompt, Jessica McWhirt brings us a tough but tender elegy, while Elizabeth Burnham provides us with a meditation on the role of the poet.

Our featured online journal for today is Diode. In their newest issue, I’ll point you to Heidi Seaborn’s poem “upon seeing an elephant seal in front of my house in West Seattle” and Michael Robins’ “If One Has a Mind That Way.”

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that anthropomorphizes a kind of food. It could be a favorite food of yours, or maybe one you feel conflicted about.

After reading Day 20 all I can think about is cake! It took a while to reset my brain to poetry! Although…

Cake + Poetry = the perfect combination!

© (Top) Ana Tavares, Deva Williamson, (Base) Natalie Chaney, Ulysse Pointcheval

Yesterday, I actually had some time to spare and read lots of poems other people had written for Day 19, so when I discovered today’s poem was the incredible Grandma by Jessica McWhirt, I was thrilled. Jessica’s poems was one I read yesterday which is still sitting inside me. Stunning, succinct work. And that ending! WOW!

Then I read The Poet is a Mirror by Elizabeth Burnham, which felt like a kaleidoscope experience as you read it, as the imagery twists and turns over multiple versions of the same truth.

locking herself in a round white room 
where her black-ink words and her blue-ink words and her red-ink words 
all ripple and roll from floor to ceiling 
til the once-blank walls are smothered in kaleidoscopic thought. 

I then read the poems from Diode. Heidi Seaborn’s poem “upon seeing an elephant seal in front of my house in West Seattle – it reminded me of whales in the Thames, a surreal incident, a cracking poem.

 Your torso turned, long as a drift boat, … Your bark breaking my perfect line.

I read Data too, which I very much enjoyed. Clever. Then I read Michael Robins’ If One Has a Mind That Way.” I have enjoyed these short prose poems, Michael had me at his opening line (because of the use of little);

The sun each morning burns its little weight.

Some flower paints the tongue or returns the name of the one you loved. 

The opposite of a promise fills the air,

I read Letters from Portland too.

Diode is on the list of journals to go back and read when I get a chance to. These past few days have been busy offline and today I am squeezing in a workshop, a meeting and an event online too.

I felt today like I’d rather keep reading poetry than write it and then I scrolled up and saw/remembered the cake – so grabbed a coffee and dived in!

Starting with a list of favourite foods… now which one was I going to anthropomorphize? I couldn’t release my brain from shackles of cake, so I found this website and set about choosing which cake! And there in the very first picture was my answer!

When we were born my parents planted a tree for each of us in the garden, mine was a plum tree and most years it yielded a hefty crop for us (and our neighbours). We’d have a freezer full of plums throughout the year and make all sorts of scrumptious delights but never a Plum Cake. So there’s the basis for today’s poem.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Today, I am gifting the whole poem again. I have to credit the title to this wonderful site I found.

The Value of Patience

We were one of the first fruits you humans
domesticated. I don’t know of the wild days,
there were no relatives old enough to pass
those stories forward. You feasted on my ancestors,

sucked them to the stone. You baked – they watched
you through the kitchen window with your mum.
My family tree is a long line of crumble,
did you never think of cake?

Perhaps your parents thought plum too rich
for your young palette. Not one Christmas
did we adorn that table, not even the year
you were joined by fourteen relatives.

And all those who fell in action, left to rot
on patio stones the colour of Battenburg.
See? Your life was cake. We can never deny
our roots, the strands of us. The core remains

forever. I know you still feel the stone in yours.
Do you wonder how different it could have been,
if only you’d baked a cake with us? Until today,
you’ve probably not given it a thought.

You’d pick us every summer, marvel at our wax bloom,
eat several fruits before you made it back inside,
you’d carry a bowl of firm, juicy ovals carefully
to the tap, wash us and pat us dry. You were smiling,

happy. Innocent, ready. You still feel like a child today,
but not a joyful one. If you must dwell in the past,
find the pleasant lines, protect your future self with them.
And eat prunes, your future-future self will thank you.

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 10 A Love Poem (Haiku)

Standard
Read today’s full AWF post here & the full prompt here.

Years of our lives spent

connected living as one

you know me fully.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 10

Standard

Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

Please be aware by sharing your work digitally, it is considered published and may prevent you from submitting it to journals and anthologies.

Day#10

© Nicate Lee
© Lisa Yount

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 9 The Nonet

Standard
NaPoWriMo

Souvenirs of Life

Your box of unfolded handkerchiefs:
carefully lifted from corners,
our shared morning ritual
of colour and story,
such pretty patterns.
How I wish for
those small squares
now you’re
gone.

Photo by Jonas Kakaroto on Pexels.com

On the 22nd March we lost our Great Aunty Sheila, she was an amazing lady. Over the past few years I have been writing my memories. This one was written today for the Napowrimo prompt. I used to visit her over the weekend sometimes and our morning would always start in her bed, looking through her collection from around the world. I loved this time and as an adult, admire her patience over the insistence of a six year olds rituals. Sheila was the calmest person I have ever known.

Rose gentle. May she rest in peace.


Full daily post here.

NaPoWriMo 2022 ~ Day 9

Standard

Full prompt here.

Our featured daily participant is Writing in North Norfolk.

Today’s featured online magazine is Pine Hills Review, run by students and faculty at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. I’ll point you to Grant Clauser’s “Addendum to the Note on John Keats’ Grave Marker.”

PROMPT: Because it’s a Saturday, I thought I’d try a prompt that asks you to write in a specific form – the nonet! A nonet has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables, the second has eight, and so on until you get to the last line, which has just one syllable.

Awwwww – weekend NaPo! No (time) pressure. I was excited to see the prompt was a Nonet – I have written in this form, discovered it several years ago and haven’t used it since.

I start, as always, with the featured participant’s poem. Words in the Wind by Kim M. Russell. The language is exquisite!

I wuther over moors and I
squabble in the sky.

I really enjoyed this alter-ego poem.

I added Kim’s site to my Reader and left a comment. Another aspect of NaPoWriMo which is wonderful – the connections you make with other people and their poems.


Next stop, Pine Hills Review. I admired the variety of articles and interviews but found the flashing images on the menu mixed with my morning coffee beyond vibrant (a sign of getting too old…) and decided to explore the magazine via the suggested poem.

Addendum to the Note on John Keats’ Grave Marker by Grant Clauser.

I LOVED listening to the audio of the poem. I then read the text to myself. I found the atmosphere of the poem encircle me. I was so moved by this poem that I plan to press it across social media today. In the week of our family funeral it sits even faster to my soul.

we looked up and talked about Venus,
how much she stood out among the stars,
how the night looked blacker, even
the pine trees behind us leaning south
from decades of hill wind.

cocooned
in our openness like survivors on a life raft

all of us pressed together by gravity,
everything blending into everything else,

And those end-lines. Phewwww – deep exhale. This is a beautiful poem. Grant Clauser has just found himself a new reader, thanks Pine Hills Review! I added Pine Hills Review to my Reader too.

I sat in the moment of the poem for a while before disappearing down a Twitter shaped rabbit hole!


PROCESS NOTES:

The Nonet.

I sat for seconds before I chose my subject. I liked the constraint of the syllabic frame and by line 3 was composing to order (which is always a lovely surprise) – by that I mean I wrote the line then counted the syllables and they fitted, whereas the first few lines had to be manipulated.

I just need to find a title.

Every once in a while I will share a full poem and as the Nonet is so short and it’s the weekend… this is one of those times.

Souvenirs of Life

Your box of unfolded handkerchiefs:
carefully lifted from corners,
our shared morning ritual
of colour and story,
such pretty patterns.
How I wish for
those small squares
now you’re
gone.

Photo by Jonas Kakaroto
on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo Weekend Pit Stop: Take Stock (Wk1)

Standard

You have managed over a week, over a quarter of the NaPoWriMo challenge. At this point you will fall somewhere between exhausted and rejuvenated. This weekend post should help you reach some balance because if you’re already attempting 30 poems in 30 daysYOU ARE AWESOME!

Mission: One Week of Awesomeness by Katie Swanson
is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

WEEK 1:

READING POETRY

This week you’ve read at least 30 poems (or 31 if you did the Early Bird) and probably more, as who can visit a magazine and only read a couple of poems? Plus you would have read your own work back to yourself. So the actual number is probably way over 40!

40 poems in a week… for those of us who read collections that may not be unusual, but it’s certainly good practice to read widely and I can guarantee this week’s reading will have lodged sprinkles of muse inside your minds for later! By reading a few extra poems in the journals and including my own work I have read 56 poems.

Of course, you may have fallen behind and feel intimidated by these numbers. Don’t be. At the very least you started and who’s counting anyway! Just keep going. You will have read more than if you weren’t attempting NaPoWriMo at all!

© Hayley Parson

WRITING POETRY

You will have written at least 9 poems. If you’re taking part in Nina’s NaPo Challenge there will be 18 new poems in your stack.

In addition you may be using the PAD challenge or others – go careful if you’re working through multiple prompts, in previous years I have saved some lists for May/June… there was that year I wrote 99! But I wouldn’t recommend such pressure.

Whatever you do and however many poems you managed to write – KEEP IT FUN!

I have written 10, as I did the Early Bird prompt.


WONDERFUL RESOURCES FROM NAPO

9 Participating websites will now be on your radar/reading lists.

9 Journals/ Magazines.

3 poets associated with the prompts.

1 list of poetry prompts.

1 Twitter account + several other resources.


WONDERFUL RESOURCES FROM AWF

In addition to this if you have been following my posts you will also have links and information for:

Poem(s) by: Emily Dickinson, Andrea Gibson

Articles: Writing Forward on Prose Poetry & Numerologist.com

RESOURCES: Mythical Creature generator, Inciting Incident generator, Diana Pressey’s website & Button Poetry You Tube Channel/video.

And of course the additional challenge for Ekphrastic poetry.

But NaPo is much more than a numbers game. You will feel all sorts of positive emotions from being part of NaPoWriMo 2022! You may have found community, new followers, a new poet or poem to love, an answer to a question, a joy for writing and/or a release.

Let us know how it has been for you in the comments and don’t forget to find some time to relax too!

Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com
Photo by Yaroslava Borz on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo Nina’s Challenge #Day 6

Standard

Everyday throughout April I am posting an image for you to use as a writing prompt. Feel free to post links to the resulting work in the comments.

Please be aware by sharing your work digitally, it is considered published and may prevent you from submitting it to journals and anthologies.

#Day 6

© Clem Onojeghuo
© Joey Huang