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NaPoWriMo Challenge, Day 26: “write a poem that includes images that engage all five senses. Try to be as concrete and exact as possible with the “feel” of what the poem invites the reader to see, smell, touch, taste and hear.”

Seventy-two steps down Hall B,
to mute doors with blank-stare windows.
Don’t touch the handles. Fingers would
scorch to ash. Or freeze so hard they’d shatter.

Eyes recoil from chlorine-glazed floor.
Salt water soothes.
Slick. Sticky. Squeaky rubber heels,
but no one ever trips
over absent laces.

Turn around at the door.
Seventy-two steps back. Always the same distance,
though the walls expand and deflate in
fallow-breathed rhythm.

At forty steps back he’s there.
You feel him like a sweat-soaked wall.
The door at forty is no blank stare.
The darkened window rages in razor-orange furnace blasts.
Involuntary flinch. Voluntary cringe.
Cower to the far wall
as you pass by.

He feels you, too,
like a limp, soiled napkin.
He wants to crush you with his fury, until
your soul oozes out and seeps under
his cell door.

He screams. He flings insults and curses
like hot excrement at the walls. At you.
The orderlies will come soon,
syringe locked and loaded.

At the station, turn right.
Fifty-five steps down Hall A.

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WPC: Lines


The Daily Post weekly photo challenge: Lines

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Wordless Wednesday 4.25.18


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Mirror rorriM


objects in mirror may be
closer than they appear

Do not get too close.
If you get too close, it will hurt,
most likely.

Beware of imagining you are
closer than you are.
Closeness could just be an appearance
perpetrated by the object in the mirror.

Do not look too closely at the
object in the mirror.
You may not like what appears.

Do not objectify what you see in the mirror.
Others – even some who appear close to you –
will gladly do that for you.

Do not mirror others
just to keep up appearances.

Look beyond appearances
and you may find yourself
getting closer.

And finally:
Reflect less on what’s behind you and
focus more on what’s ahead.
You won’t want to miss out on any
promising new vistas.

NOTE: Please refer to Operator’s Manual
for additional warnings in the section titled
Potential Hazards of Roadside Attractions &
One Night Stands

NaPoWriMo Challenge, Day 25: “write a poem that takes the form of a warning label . . . for yourself!” 

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Elegy for All

If you die tomorrow,
I will write you this elegy,
because you are loved
and you will be missed.

And if you sense no love
and no connection
and feel as though no one will even notice
when you are gone,
you may read this elegy and know that
you are loved more than you know, and —
in ways you may not even perceive —
you matter very, very much.

If I die tomorrow,
I will know I am loved
and that I had connections
of soul and heart and mind
with those whose paths touched mine.

I will be missed
by those I love and those who love me, and
even by some who don’t know me at all,
because perhaps — in ways I may not even perceive —
I mattered to them.

For today, though,
before this elegy applies,
let’s notice and celebrate –
if we are able —
our blessings of love
and connection, and of mattering.

Let’s make a difference
for those who do not feel so blessed.

Let’s open our souls and hearts and minds
to one another so we needn’t wait until
tomorrow to read this elegy and
discover just how very, very much
we all, indeed, matter.


NaPoWriMo Challenge, Day 24: “write an elegy – a poem typically written in honor or memory of someone dead. But we’d like to challenge you to write an elegy that has a hopefulness to it.”

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“Will you deliver the sermon?” he asks me.

One Sunday a year, the pastor teaches Sunday School
and asks parishioners to lead the worship service
in his stead.

Ha! Me? Preach a sermon?
I preach to my kids all the time,
mostly in the form of
“Do as I say, not as I do.”

A potential theme for a Sunday message, for sure,
but would it play well to the gray-haired majority of
this small congregation?

I think not.
It doesn’t even play well with my kids.

I hate public speaking!
And I’m none too endowed in the reverence department, either.
No way! I say to myself.
“Sure!” I say to the pastor.

On the given day, I rise to the podium.
(“It’s called a pulpit, dear” an angel whispers encouragingly.
“Shows just how qualified you are to stand behind it,”
scoffs the dude with the pointed tail.)
I look out over the sea of blue perms, bald pates, a few mullets…
and I gulp.

A voice I don’t recognize delivers anecdotes
mixed with pious postulations;
a splash of bible verse, a dash of poignant quotes
and a twist of lame joke.

Stirred, not shaken.

At one point, I tell a story about my young daughter
and I use the word “mom” a couple of times in succession.
From the rear of the sanctuary, a toddler responds.
People laugh.
“From the mouths of babes,” I say.

Soon enough (or not soon enough, some may think)
the service ends.

Polite parishioners approach and tell me how well I did.
Truth be told, I thought it went pretty well myself.

A diminutive elderly woman tugs on my sleeve.
I bow slightly so I can hear her comment.
“You gave a very nice sermon,” she says, patting my arm.
“Thank you!” I beam.
“Of course, I couldn’t hear a word of it.”
She turns and slowly totters away
toward the cookie-laden tables in the fellowship hall.

At first I’m dismayed that she would complement
without having heard my sterling performance.
(“Performance?” the angel arches an eyebrow.)
But then, I think, maybe she’s on to something.

Without being put upon by someone else’s message,
she is free to rest in a pew on a Sunday morning,
surrounded by congenial peers
(“… and some noisy rugrats,” the horned heckler interjects),

and worship in her own choice of words.

Amen to that, I say.
Amen, says the angel.
Whatever, says the sulphurous cynic.

“Can we go home now?” asks my daughter.

Thus endeth my preaching career.

sg 11th partial

NaPoWriMo challenge, Day 23: write a poem based on sound. 

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Driving in Reverse

NaPoWriMo Challenge, Day 18. The prompt “sounds a bit more complicated than it is, so bear with me! First, find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with)… [C]over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now… uncover the second-to-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem. It might not be a finished draft, but hopefully it at least contains the seeds of one.”

Well, it wasn’t hard to find a poem I’m not familiar with, as I’m not much of a literary reader. When I came across a poem written by Sheryl Luna and titled, “Neighbors Smoke on an Apartment Porch Owned by a Mental Health Agency,” I knew that would be perfect for this challenge. You can follow the link to read that poem.

Here’s my reverse response. I guess I’ll call it Mental Faculties.

Waiting their chance to bloom,
strength belied by failing light,
old habits won’t die today.

Rheumy eyes remove the hues.
Calm comes with slowing down.

Peeling bark, in rough contrast,
remember they once blossomed, too.

Come in to the sobering shade,
rise and heal thy pain.

It’s all relative, so we’re told
a tale of plums and prunes.

Wishing never leads the charge,
sinners peddling soulless fates.

Free to fly once weight-relieved,
yesterday’s work, today’s debris,

smoothed as with a butter knife,
carried high on joyful wings.

What’s left from those who sow and reap —
saying so won’t make it true —

forestalls, refusing to leave.
Stalwart nature, man-made trees,
far from home yet searching still,

if only one could hear.

They care more than one might think
of being heroes or villains.

Do-overs can set them free,
enlightened by the truth.



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