UP AT 4 am

Awake and can’t sleep at 4 AM – really don’t like this –  but will use the time to update blog. It’s been a couple weeks since I posted – been really busy sending out contest entries — and of course helping out with new baby of our youngest son – just born Nov 14 – a girl – makes five for them. Whew. and their dog just had four pups. They’re due to come over here in a few days – with a few other animals besides. W do have fun – altho there’s not enough snow yet.

Before I forget – wanted you all to know of the March Writers Weekend at the Beach, March 20-23 at Long Beach, Washington (on the peninsula). The conf. is at the United Methodist Retreat center. $200 includes all the workshops, food, and lodging — plus a really fun time of networking, in-class writing, walks on the beach, great times. It’s our 23rd year of this small conference – some of us have come every single time. We start looking forward to it by Sept of the preceding year. Contact Tracie Heskett, bobtracie@hotmail.com

This week, in addition to sending out contests entries, I’ve tried to write in the style of Emily Dickenson, wrote ekphrastics,  (for unusual photos and art works), and other challenges I can’t even remember. Challenges and prompts are a great way to be motivated. For one thing, write a list of 5 words you find in the dictionary – now write a poem  using all those words (I think I did that challenge too) – loved it. Or make up 2-3 words – all on your own. I woke up with a silly, nonsense poem the other day — wrote a rough draft- been thinking of additions to it — and WAHLA – found a contest market that wants such a poem. You just never know.

My favorite contest asking is: Narrative poems – since I’m a story writer. Have won a few prizes in contests in last few months, been in some anthologies — even some cash prizes. Unfortunately at our age, we have to think of the future a little– should we downsize and move? I’d rather not quite yet — too many projects left undone. But here’s a poem that mentions that


I’m not a liberty to linger here,

although I’d loves to spend several

years in review of family.


We watched ball gams, bike races,

choir concerts, drove to emergency rooms

on many Tuesday evenings.


I’d like to slow time down; the after

school quiet, broken by the sound of bus brakes,

door slams, and shouts for “Mom”.


Christmas comes. I lean on the vision of young

eyes, excited, expectant; while kids rattle,

measure, and keep track , as gift piles grow.


The cozy, sunny days at camp with everyone

in the water, splashing, skiing, dunking cousins,

brothers, grandchildren, shouting, carefree.


No, I’m not at liberty to linger,

even in this autumn time.


New adventures, bends in the road

beakon; yet they can never still, or match

past visions and sounds.

NOW I’D BEST THINK ABOUT GETTING THE PRESENTs WRAPPED. Merry Christmas to you all and may God’s peace come to you.

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For sure, winter’s acoming. Fires in the wood stove, ice on the bird water tins. We had a proper wind storm a week ago that took down lots of trees…reminding husband of some more that needed to be cut. Chainsawing noises all round. On Sat. my sis and I packed a lot of shoebox gifts for Samaritan’s Purse. This organization hands out gifts to children around the world — some in refuge camps, in poor areas where perhaps kids have never received a Christmas gift. It’s a work of joy. We gather materials all year long when sales are on.

This week, I dug out a haiku poem to share. Haiku, as you know, is 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. Some beautiful poems arise from this form (and there are many variations on the form.) Some time back I bought some very old books with haiku done by Japanese master poets, each poem illustrated with an asian picture. Marvelous – a delight to read through.


bare trees stripped of bark

pine fur covers ground like snow

wind leaves calling cards

Try your hand at this simple, but nature-based form. A friend was challenged with this form and wrote around 40 poems in one day. Also today I finally mailed off 24 poems to a chapbook contest, four poems to Senior Poet Diplomat contest, and some “fine lines” to a Wyoming poetry society newsletter (these are lines I particularly took a shine to, from other writers. They could be from cereal boxes, news articles, or TV ads — lines that appeal to you). Also won 3rd prize in a Florida poetry society contest. Not going to become rich with these wins, but they encourage – oh yes, they do encourage.

Stay warm


Tomorrow is the start of NaMo – for novel writers, it means writing an hour a day (or some such) — for me, I’ll receive a prompt a day from the Writer’s Digest poetry editor Robert Brewer – a great challenge. (I usually don’t get a poem done every day – but eventually they are written.)

This morning I emailed a couple sets of contest entries. Yesterday found out that a poem chosen by Highland Park contest — and to be illustrated by a student for a poster — will appear on a bus line called Pace, north of Chicago. How fun. And I cannot wait to see what the poster looks like. One could start writing for buses everywhere – wouldn’t that be fun?

Also yesterday I received the newsletter from the Illinois State Poetry Society – it’s a good one – full of info. Plus they put out prompts. So of course I had to try a few. One was to use certain words, each in one line of a 10 line poem. That was truly a kick. (Oops, I think I missed a word – have to correct that.) In addition they had a long list of other prompts. Tonight perhaps I can try some of those.

It’s one good reason to join the various state poetry societies. Their newsletters give you much information and helps. I particularly like prompts. It beats looking out the window, watching the nutsy chipmunks skittering around the yard looking for food. We don’t get quail any more – but the doves come round. I miss the quails with their topknots bobbing just above the grass.

So – think about joining some of the poetry societies. At least it brings something interesting to your mail box – rather than all the political mail. And by the way – please, please remember to vote. America needs the participation of concerned citizens.



Saturday I’d enjoyed watching tree dance shadows on the barn wall — then the wind really began its rampage. By mid-afternoon, there was a huge tree down on our powerline and across the road. Had to park my car across the road cuz the power line was drooping rather ominously over our driveway. However, those valiant Mid-State people (plus police called out everywhere) did a great job of restoring at least our power by 3 AM.

Meanwhile my boombox (don’t ask a kid what that means – they never heard of it) works on batteries so I could listen to praise tapes and books on tape. Plus I had one of those “on the head lamps” which was marvelous. I could read. And a wonderful wood stove which heated my tea and leftover french fries to go with cold chicken.

I’d even written a poem about the lovely tree shadows and the wind singing through trees. Their singing became a destructive attack on weak trees and many came down on our property and all over the county.

Three AM all the left-on lighs blazed and I gave thanks – I had filled the bathtub with water to flush the toilet – and glad of that.

Meanwhile, this is the time to vote in the mid-elections. Please take the time to send in your ballots or go to the ballot box (unless you’re not registered, illegal or happen to be under a headstone). Every vote counts. And many people are ultra-concerned about the way our country is heading.  Which brings me to today’s poem:


ON READING THE NEWSPAPER …after “Primer Lesson” by Carl Sandburg (which means that I used his form, way of writing — and my own words.)

Beware when you read the paper,

when headlines shout, blood pressure

mounts its almighty surge.


The diatribe rides roughshod over

all you hold dear, bearing down,

slanted sideways, with heels planted,



Take care how the news affects you.


So please vote — pray hard — respect our country and our flag — spread the word that ultimately God is in control.




We’re surrounded, innundated with words on all sides. If those aren’t enough, consider the dictionary. I love trying to find new or combined  words that make sense in a poem.

However, recently on Poetic Asides put out by Robert Brewer, poetry editor for Writer’s Digest – he sent round a new form…which I cannot even pronounce: Gogyohka. This form developed by Enta Kusakabe in Japan – translates to “five-line poem” Each of the lines has one phrase in it. That’s all there is to it.

It’s fun to try these new forms…try it now and then. My Gogyohka poem:

Search me

Lights flash through brain corridors

Would they strike?

Wounds heal slowly

Am I free to go?

Poets are still making up new forms – in fact a few contests suggest you do that and enter the form. And while you’re inventing a form, trying out a new one or simply writing a poem about autumn, try to insert some new or unusual words. I believe it makes the poem more alive, striking, interesting.

And by the way – if you do not already subscribe, find a way to subscribe to Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides weekly prompts…and during November and April, daily prompts. Quite a challenge and fun.



Driving over the mountains from the valley yesterday, the leaves glowed and blew everywhere in autumn’s escape from their all-summer clinging. It’s an exciting and beautiful time, until (of course) the poor bare trees begin to bow in the snow.

A few years back, Gregory K. Pincus created a 6-line poem which (I just learned) is part of a mathematical equation. (Found this out from my ten year old grandson – who probably knows more about math in his little finger than I have in my whole head). And that’s the way it is – information is poured into kids at an amazing speed. I think I coasted through school on neutral.

But nevertheless, I have tried the fibonacci poetic form and had great fun with it. Might have won a prize with it – can’t quite remember. You might wish to try it.

The 6-line poem runs like this: First line, one syllable;   Second line, one syllable;  Third line two syllables; Fourth line, 3 syllables; Fifth line: five syllables; sixth line, eight syllables.

This form is fun to try and actually some rather nice poems can emerge. This morning I wrote a fib form poem just for fun. It goes like this:

AUTUMN ESCAPE – The    fall    story–    leaves hit    car windshield, bounced off,    ran for freedom, shedding bondage.

Hope you can try your own Fib form poem



Burro – sorrow – burrow – furrow

Poems do not have to rhyme. In fact, I find it extremely difficult to rhyme – it feels forced. Thankfully, it’s not required these days — altho there are so many many different forms that poetry can take. Who has time to rhyme? Start out with one line – borrow a line from your favorite poet (giving credit of course) and then write the rest of the poem in your own voice, your own thoughts. Jump starts help.

We ‘re all made so different – we have a small on-line group of poets who give each other prompts every couple weeks. It’s amazing what comes from each prompt – all different. That’s what America is about as well – so many different cultures and customs. We celebrate some of those, but we remain ONE NATION, under God.

Today is “dress kooky” day – I need to alert the grandkids I will soon visit – and then find something unusual to wear as I visit them. Perhaps it will just seem normal for this “seasoned” grandma? Could be.


It began with a bubble. Big, clear, with

windows of color. I wanted to jump

inside, float over trees, bridges, houses,

see how long the bubble stayed airborne.

Then snow came and I considered the huge

flakes, how light and different and cold.

They landed on the bubble, covered it in white,

pulled it to the icy ground. Glad I wasn’t in it.

I started to consider penguins.

(From my second poetry chapbook, “On The Way to Everywhere”)


Years ago we corresponded with a brilliant man in St. Andrew Scotland. Each letter he sent noted the birthday such as Beethoven, Shakespeare or some other noteable. Yesterday was Hagfish day. Beats me – I don’t like fish much, altho we used to fish for rock cod off the rocks at Yachats Oregon. Their meat was blue until cooked. Once when our kids were small we gathered at the smelt beach and gathered bucketsful, which my mom cleaned and fried. About like eating sardines I think.

Yachats was/is such a gorgeous place – every year my family vacationed there – the folks went out fishing every morning – my brother would sit for hours, talking the fish onto his line – later our son did the same there and lakes around Central Oregon. Memories are what keep us going — and writing (in my opinion). Picking through all that’s folded into your brain, I’m sure you’ll come up with some small memory that you treasure. It’s worth saving and writing about.

BLUE AS ROCK COD appeared in my third poetry chapbook, “Dancin’ Thru’ PUddles.

Sitting beside the lake, we watch our grandkids’ lips and fingers become blue as the insides of rock cod that my dad once pulled from enroaching waves off slippery rocks at Yachats.

As kids, early mornings we layered up, packed snacks, and paraded to rocks which gave hours of pleasure, while our folks fished. Tiny shore obelisks became ships from which we leapt into frothy wavelets. We shed layers onto Mom’s arms, were soon soaked through and ready for breakfast.

Now our grandchildren resist deserting the lake, as years ago I did from the freezing fun of Suttle Lake. A camp counselor would drag me forth, to parade my fat body in its two-piece, hand-me-down blue suit, donated by an aunt. Yet I determined to turn blue next day if camp activities didn’t intrude.

Streams, rivers, oceans ever drew me. Below our canyon-top home trickled small irrigation streams with sticks, sharp rocks and possibly rattlers; once we, non-swimmers, floated across Scout Lake on innertubes, ignorant of danger; slipped into swift icy White Rock Rapids, a teen nightmare saved right. Now I wade the Pacific, feet numb. The glory of the slight wave pull and squishy sand beneath crooked, bunion feet removes all pain.