…a cup of words spilling out across the page.

Fireflies in a Velvet Sky

The wind sighs through the leaves on the tree overhead, as twilight descends upon us. The sky turns to velvet, with a single, diamond-like star, sewn into its fabric. I long to reach out and run my fingers over the textured folds—in varying shades of blue and black. I stand at the corner of the house, and gaze down an overgrown path. Tractor wheels have recently flattened the green, spring grasses into two long lines that disappear in the distance. The trees reach toward each other overhead and draw my eyes toward what I know to be a grove of cedars just beyond the curve and out of sight.

But in my imagination, this road could lead to any number of magical places. In the distance, fireflies dance just beyond the lights of the truck behind me, and I know that if I followed them, I could escape this world and enter a new one just inside the tree line. Overhead, the moon glimmers, and I can hear the call of a whippoorwill and the sound of crickets.
Behind me are the voices of loved ones sharing conversation with each other, and a crackling fire in a barrel-shaped pit. The smell of hamburgers lingers in the air, but beyond that is the wet scent of early evening.

I am comfortable here, loved ones within sight, within hearing range – but my face, my body is turned toward that imaginary place at the end of this lane. I long to go there—not so much physically—but in my mind. I long to write of where that road might lead, and what it would be like to step into a world where fireflies are my friends—where they lead me on a treasure hunt for beauty that can take your breath—to a place where trees and frogs and water speak in voices I can understand, and each welcome me back from a long journey, to a place as familiar as the voices of those family members sitting in the twilight around the fire.

I take a step in that direction, close my eyes, and I am gone…

My Treasure Box

I’m thinking of a list of things, items that inspire me and make me smile.  Little things, keepsakes, mementos, what most people would label junk, and probably sell in a garage sale, or toss in the trash bin.  If I had a treasure box, the kind you find hidden under the bed of a ten-year-old child, here are a few of the things it would contain:



skeleton keys


tiny silver spoons

scraps of red ribbon

a handful of thimbles

coins from other countries

leftover ends of used candles

a set of my father’s cuff links

phrases, quotes, and peculiar words

pocket sized, aged, cloth covered books

faded photos of strangers and strange places

a set of my Mimi’s salt and pepper shakers

jars of buttons in every shape and color

stopped wrist or pocket watches

one of my grandfather’s pipes

notebooks half full of poetry

smooth multi-colored stones

the sounds that frogs make

postmarked stamps

an old library card

a broken teacup



Funny thing is, these treasures make their way into my stories.  They appear over and again, and make me smile.  These pages are my treasure box, and if you read them, it’s the same as sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom and exploring the depths of that treasure box. 


What’s in your box?  What pieces of ephemera find their way into your stories, just because you love them, and want others to hold them in their hands, gaze at them, and remember, too? 


Today I’m watching my oldest child don her cap and gown. She’s complaining about how unattractive they are. She finds the tassel amusing. “I should have unwrapped this thing a week ago, and hung it up so the wrinkles would fall out.” She laughs, and waves it off.

Sometime after eight o’clock tonight, she will be awarded her Associate in Arts Degree in Music. For her, tonight is a dry run. A dress rehearsal. “It’s not a real graduation, Mom. That one happens in two years, when I get my Bachelor’s degree. You can make a big deal then.”

But for me, this is a big deal. Tonight is a right of passage. I’ve watched her for two years… filling out paperwork for grants and scholarships, staying up late to write papers and practice guitar, piano, and voice. I’ve been to performances and recitals, read papers, and watched her grow.

She did this. She worked long hours to pay for it. She worked long hours to earn her GPA. She jumped in and got involved in student government. And tonight marks the end of a season for her.

No big deal.

But as she chooses her dress, and models her mortarboard, I can’t help but swallow hard, and take a deep breath. This is a very big deal. Partly because the other thing she’s doing today, is organizing her stuff—into boxes. She has a rental lined up, two great roommates, and the deposit has already been paid. She got her acceptance letter in the mail last week. August. She’s really going. My baby is gonna be a Missouri State Bear.

I guess that makes me the proud Mama Bear.

Very proud.

Curtain Call

Poetic Asides – Poem-A-Day Challenge – Day 30 Prompt:

Today’s prompt is probably predictable if you go back to Day 1’s prompt, which was about beginnings and firsts. Day 30’s prompt is to write a poem about endings, finishes, finales, etc. Because we’ve reached the end: great job!


the last cup
the last sip
the last drop
the last voice
the last note
the last song
the last light
the last page
the last words
the last afternoon
the last stroke of the pen
the last click of the keys
the last kiss of the muse
the last time this month
I wonder whether
I can last to the end
of this challenge

TLS, April 2008

Lather, Rinse, Repeat Yourself

Poetic Asides – Poem-A-Day Challenge – Day 29 Prompt: 


The first “Two for Tuesday” prompt is to write a poem about exercise. For most people, you either love it or hate it. If you do exercise regularly, it would be interesting to know whether you do it for the end result (that is, good health, a trim physique, etc.) or the process itself (just because it feels good to move).

Prompt #2 is a little more open-ended for people who don’t have any emotions whatsoever attached to exercise. For this prompt, I want you to write a poem in the 2nd person.


open your eyes
shut off the alarm
roll out of bed
stumble to the sink
peer into the mirror
frown, smile
stick out your tongue

grab a towel
turn on the shower
undress and step
into the water

wash your body
please use soap
rinse well
turn off the water
step out of the shower

drip onto the bath mat
as you dry yourself
try not to slip
on the wet tile

apply deodorant
brush and floss your teeth
comb and dry your hair
then dress yourself

clean toothpaste
from the mirror and the sink
pick up the soap, shampoo bottle
and accoutrements
from the shower floor
put them where they belong

close the shower curtain
wipe up your wet footprints
pick up your dirty socks
toss them in the hamper
hang your wet towel over the bar

good morning star-shine
it’s a new day
and coffee is waiting
for you in the kitchen

oh, and use a clean cup

TLS, April 2008




Poetic Asides – Poem-A-Day Challenge – Day 28 Prompt:


Today’s prompt is to write a sestina. (If you need a subject, you can write about catastrophe or loss or hope–to mirror the news above.)


So, what is a sestina? For those who have a few minutes to spare, please go to the following link: http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/Sestina6x6339+Thats+Math.aspx. Once there, you can read up about what a sestina is and can be.


For those in a hurry, here’s the basics on the sestina:


* It’s a poem consisting of 7 stanzas.

* The first 6 stanzas have 6 lines; the final stanza has 3 lines.

* There are only 6 end words to each line throughout the 39-line poem.

* They rotate in the following pattern:

1-End Word 1

2-End Word 2

3-End Word 3

4-End Word 4

5-End Word 5

6-End Word 6


7-End Word 6

8-End Word 1

9-End Word 5

10-End Word 2

11-End Word 4

12-End Word 3


13-End Word 3

14-End Word 6

15-End Word 4

16-End Word 1

17-End Word 2

18-End Word 5


19-End Word 5

20-End Word 3

21-End Word 2

22-End Word 6

23-End Word 1

24-End Word 4


25-End Word 4

26-End Word 5

27-End Word 1

28-End Word 3

29-End Word 6

30-End Word 2


31-End Word 2

32-End Word 4

33-End Word 6

34-End Word 5

35-End Word 3

36-End Word 1


37-End Words 1 and 2

38-End Words 3 and 4

39-End Words 5 and 6

Usually, the best strategy is to pick out 6 words you think you can have fun with and that are probably somewhat flexible in how you can use them (this includes modifying a word here and there–like changing “cold” to “clod” to fit your purposes). Maybe throw in a word that is a little unique–if you really want to challenge yourself. And remember to have fun.




Today it’s cup of soup for one            

eaten late, when the watch says two            

I wish I had a friend or three               

that could sit and visit until four                  

alas they all work nine to five             

my friends, I have at least six             


I have a meeting here at six               

it’s open wide to every one                

who is interested in jumping into five          

to ten minute writing exercises, two            

by two we can write and read and four                  

letter words aren’t censored, neither three


unless under-aged writers attend, three

chairs to a table in this café, and at six

we start…as people arrive three or four

at a time looking forward to this one

night where they can take an hour or two

and write, and share, and enjoy after five


because their hours before five

are scheduled and spoken for, and three

short breaks are not enough to

give your brain a break and eighty-six

the stress a dreaded j.o.b. can put on one

a fun gathering, though is worth waiting for


and now that the hour is nearing four

I am preparing for the group of five

or more, who will gather here for one

purpose, to write, share and read – that’s three

purposes, wrapped in one, starting at six

and we will spend  a beautiful two


hours together, laughing, sharing, renewing, too

we’ll drink coffee or tea, and gather pens for

timed writing exercises in our journals six

to eight, we’ll take ten minute blocks (two times five)

and spill ourselves out on a blank page or three

when the buzzer chimes we’ll read aloud to every one


and we will listen, one and all, and smile too

as a page or three of words gives hope to write for

ten, or even five, repeating ‘til we return Monday at six



TLS, April 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

Poetic Asides – Poem-A-Day Challenge – Day 27 Prompt:

Hey, what’s up?
Not much.
Sitting at the
coffee shop.
Yeah, it’s my
favorite place
to people-watch.
Yeah, lots’ of them.
Mostly looking for
the bathrooms.
Lunch sound good.
The coffee shop
has soup.
Tastes like a
baked potato.
Hey, I bought
it’s your turn.
Yeah, and besides,
you invited.
See you here soon.

TLS, April 2008 

Today’s prompt is to write a poem that is only one-half of a two-person conversation, or what I like to call the “one side of a phone line” poem. I’m not even sure how well this is going to work out, but every once in a while, it’s good to stretch ourselves and experiment a little.

While you could just get to typing one side of a conversation, it might be a good idea to write down some dialogue and then, cut out the person who is the least interesting. Anyway, as with all the prompts, be sure to have fun with this one.


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