NaPoWriMo 2017, Day 30: Something That Happens Again and Again


Their Profane Mother, Their Busy Mother

I curse under my breath
at the thought of this obligation
or that one, and as I complete a task,
I add one more or a few more, or
someone else adds them to me.
I curse, the big one, the f bomb, and then
I wonder if either of my children heard me,
their profane mother, their busy mother
who always has her hand in too many pots
at once. But maybe this is always how it goes;
maybe my mother, too, swore quietly —
maybe that’s what she meant by smoking.



The LAST PROMPT FOR THIS YEAR at was to write about something that occurs over and over. I don’t think this poem will be everyone’s cup of Constant Comment, but maybe you’ll get it if you, too, are kind of tightly wound and busy, and/or are a parent.


NaPoWriMo 2017, Day 29: A Complex Assignment

Today’s prompt at is a multistage affair. First, I’m supposed to find a favorite poem and pull out one word from it. I’ll take nightgowns (poetic license to remove the original hyphen) from “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock” by Wallace Stevens:

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.


OK, next, I’m supposed to free-write for five minutes from the word I’ve selected, while not really using the poem:


Nighties, we called them when I would lie awake in bed, in the room that overlooked the roof of the garage, near the tree that held my tire swing, robins and a lilac sprig that my mother had cut for me, in water next to my bed, whatever little table I had next to my bed

nothing softer than nighties, I’ve written before about how I had at least one secondhand one, which was strangely intimate. Nightgowns and nightshirts, I don’t know if those are the same. I had a Garfield one. Once when we went camping, in the shared bathroom was a girl about my age with a Dukes of Hazzard nightgown or nightshirt. I looked down on her, in my mind, because I thought she must be from the country, which is kind of funny since we were camping

My mother used to ask for nightgowns as presents for Christmas or her birthday or Mother’s Day, but only certain kinds, neither too long nor too short, and a silky nylon with a flocked inside. I think I’m too old now to wear nightgowns, and too young at the same time, but I know they make the same kind my mother liked, and sometimes I’m tempted.

And finally, now I’m supposed to make a poem from that:

When I Was 10, We Went Camping

soft as a robin’s song,
which is to say, not soft at all
but sharp, if nightgowns could be sharp.



NaPoWriMo 2017, Day 28: A Skelton


Skeleton Skelton

The pile of bones
that each of us owns
until we die,
mourned with a sigh,
put in the earth
for second birth,
feeding worms
and all that squirms.
It’s not macabre,
it’s abracadabra.



From a prompt at, to write a Skelton, which is a poem made of short rhyming lines. There’s supposed to be a certain pattern of stresses, but I’m terrible at that. This is as formal as I get.


NaPoWriMo 2017, Day 27: Taste


The End of Lime and the Presence of Lime

Lime flavor can taste like guest soap at times,
but I’d still rather taste it than a lot of other things.
The tyranny of green apple depresses and enrages me —
both the fact of it and, no less, what it represents:
I’m an old crank who clings to memories of
scuttled flavors of Life Savers, Skittles.
If only they brought back lime, then maybe
I would be assured that I am still relevant, alive.
Yesterday, because of a lime-límon-lemon error
that I was then too polite to correct, I missed out
on a lime Italian ice, got lemon instead. I can’t say
I was disappointed with lemon, exactly, but still.
Still, though — the end of lime and the presence of lime.



From a prompt at


NaPoWriMo 2017, Day 24: Marginalia from Medieval Manuscripts


Warrior Snail


You think a snail can’t fight,
but that’s a very limited
point of view.

Some of us are quite handy
with a rapier or a cudgel
made of dew.



Today’s prompt at was to write a poem inspired by marginal artwork on medieval manuscripts. I was particularly taken with these battle snails.


NaPoWriMo 2017, Day 23: A Double Elevenie (and a Thank-You)


Before I show you the prompt I worked with from, and the resulting poem, I have to say how thrilled I was to be today’s featured poet, based on the cabbage-growing (or not growing) poem I wrote yesterday. Big thanks to poet Maureen Thorson for putting so much care into these daily prompts throughout April each year, and for the tremendous honor of having one of my poems spotlighted! Now, then:

“… an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. There are some good examples in the link above.

“A double elevenie would have two stanzas of five lines each, and twenty-two words in all. It might be fun to try to write your double elevenie based on two nouns that are opposites, like sun and moon, or mountain and sea.”

Monarch Season

eats milkweed
in an enclosure
inside, away from predators,

drinks nectar
in the garden
braving all the elements,


NaPoWriMo 2017, Day 22: A Georgic



Do You Have a Head for Cabbage?

Please wait two to three weeks to plant the cabbage,
during which time it will remain on your table
in its paper cup, most likely with roots snarling around
the bottom, taking up the entire cup or exceeding it.
Consider that you could just eat it now, get the whole thing
over with. You wouldn’t win the cabbage-growing contest —
or your son wouldn’t, that is — but let’s be honest:
Can you even find the thing that came home with the cabbage
from the Bonnie cabbage company, explaining the contest,
how to win that $1,000 at some point in the fall?
Spring to fall is a ridiculous length of time, in terms of
paper, its management, to say nothing of the growing of
this cabbage. Anyway, what you should do is an elaborate
daily study of light patterns from your dining-room window,
an assessment of the perfect spot, and perfect day to plant
cabbage. But there is no “perfect” here, thanks to bushes
and a palisade fence, the advancing shadow that overtakes
the scrubby shared yard. It may be best to hem and haw
over cabbage, water it like a houseplant until it’s clear
that it’s missed any chance at all, be haunted by a photo
that can never exist: your son in a plaid shirt, farmer-style,
holding up his harvested cabbage like a gruesome trophy,
a head on a pike, after a summer of fattening for the kill.




Today’s prompt at was to write a Georgic, which is an instructional and pithy agriculture poem. I decided to catch up with the cabbage plant that I wrote about earlier this month.