Just a Note

I’ve had several emails in response to recent blog posts, and I want to highlight these two:


First, this shout-out from J. I. Kleinberg’s Chocolate Is a Verb:

And DO notice the nudge toward Judy’s reading at Pelican Bay Books in Anacortes on Feb. 24, with none other than the fabulous Claudia Castro Luna.










And an email from the Jackstraw Cultural Center, regarding this podcast — part interview, part poetry reading, of my dear friend Carla Shafer:


THE WORD FOR STANDING ALONE IN A FIELD, J. I. Kleinberg. Bottlecap Press, 2023, 32 pages, $10,

I have been a follower of J. I. (Judy) Kleinberg, Bellingham poet, artist, and blogger for a number of years. If you have not already subscribed to her near-daily blog The Poetry Department, you must do so immediately. You’ll find there all sorts of poetry-centric announcements—for readings both local and world-wide, for book and journal recommendations, for great quotes, and more.

Kleinberg posts her own artfully collaged, found poems at her personal blog, Chocolate Is a Verb, and this, too, I recommend.

What a delight to have not one but three collections of poetry by Kleinberg released to the wild in 2023. (I am breathlessly awaiting a full-length collection.)

In The Word for Standing Alone in a Field every poem brings to life a scarecrow—part Dorothy’s Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz; partly an actual scarecrow, hung in a corn field, immobile, abandoned; partly dark witness to the world. I want to write to “the world on fire.” We meet him, and get to know him through the voice of a girl, who seems to me beyond lonely. But, once she has her scarecrow, she becomes his friend and amanuensis, and through her we learn the scarecrow’s secrets, and through him we glimpse her secrets.

I don’t want to tell you too much. She holds the scarecrow when he weeps. She observes how his “shadow / stretches across the tasseled corn, / a long scarf pulled in hour by hour / until it’s hidden beneath the circle / of his hat” (“Shadow”), and how she finds him, and the crows, and more, as “We all kneel together // in the church of corn.” (“Alike”).

Any of these 28 poems would be a good choice to share. Some are imagist, some paint a larger picture: “Oh scarecrow, faded effigy, straw man, / what can you tell us…” (“Effigy”). Every one of them shot right through me.


Indoors and in doorways,
the scarecrow is a stranger.

His roof is blue or gray or black,
fastened by stars. His carpet

the color of seasons—green,
gold, brown, green again—

but his feet in his boots
never touch down, suspended

in a wilted crucifixion,
arms flung, eyes turned

to the girl in the doorway.

—J. I. Kleinberg

Kleinberg is an award-winning poet and has published widely. To learn more about her, find her at Poets & Writers:

Or read the lovely overiew at her author page at Bottlecap Press:

Such a treat!

A Season of Waiting

From Chocolate is a VerbReading around a few other blogs (Chocolate Is a Verb, for instance), I find that I am not alone in feeling frantic and wishing 1) that I had more time and 2) that Christmas were over.

This is a season of waiting. My daughters can’t wait for it to be Christmas. Can’t wait to find out what’s wrapped in those presents under the tree. I can’t wait to be done with all the cards and decorations and busyness of the holiday. On Thursday, maybe in an effort to check-out from the busyness,I left my cell phone charging in the car while I had coffee with a friend; when I returned to the car, I saw–my heart pounding–that I had 3 missed texts and 2 missed calls. I grabbed up the phone and the last message (all from my sister) was “Call me! Mom’s had a stroke!”

By the time I called, the paramedics were there with mom, and so was my sister. Mom had maybe had a stroke, but definitely a violent seizure. I was able to help make the decision not to transport her to the hospital. There were tears and not a little anguish. In between calls, I sent texts to my friends. But then, Mom began to feel better. Her speech wasn’t slurred any longer. She was put to bed and my sister sat with her and held her hand.

I had begun my day with a million things to do. I mentally crossed most of it off the list. I went to the gym (I was already dressed!), I went to the school to wait for Emma (who turned out to have other plans), I went home and showered and packed. I took a plate of spaghetti to my friend who had surgery yesterday. I got in the ferry line. I waited in the ferry line for an hour and a half!!! (I had a book; no worries.) A little before 8 p.m. I rolled into Allyn. My sister was able to go home. I slept in the recliner in Mom’s room; or, I didn’t sleep (good British movie on the telly; and the amazing caregivers who woke us every two hours to check on Mom and reposition her in the bed).

The next morning Mom was her chatty self. She told me that my uncle lives there, too, but that she hasn’t seen him for awhile. She wanted to know who is taking care of Dad while she’s there. “Can’t you just take me home?” she kept asking. She ate almost all of her breakfast (which was a surprise) and she was no longer complaining of a headache. Her blood pressure was good.

Before I left, Debra, who owns the Haven (and is a gift, herself) arrived and took me in hand. We sat downstairs in her office and had a long talk. It’s so easy to get into a mindset of “waiting for Mom to die.” A mindset that makes every moment agony. Or, at the least, unpleasant. If you are waiting for the next moment, rather than being in this one, then you can’t really enjoy this moment. You can’t bask in it. “Your mother is dying,” Debra told me. “But not right now.” I told Debra the story of my grandmother’s last three years in a nursing home, and how Mom used to say, “Don’t you let that happen to me.” Debra said, “But is this like where your grandmother was? Is your mother, your grandmother?” Her best advice was, “Make new memories.”

Mom is in a good place where she has her own bedroom with her own pictures on the wall and her television playing the deer at havenChristmas music station. Deer and rabbits visit. The caregivers are good to her. One of them calls her “Grams.” My youngest sister is able to see her almost every afternoon after work. I can be there in two hours, and have been able to visit almost every week.

What I am going to remember is sitting and holding her hand. I’m going to remember reading Agatha Christie novels aloud to her. I’m going to remember the ride on the ferry and seeing gray whales and eagles and flocks of surf scoters.

I’m going to try to enjoy this week before Christmas when my to-do list is almost completely crossed off and the tree is lit up and presents are (mostly) wrapped in anticipation. I’m going to try to bask in the anticipation.

I’m going to try to enjoy this time before my novel rewrite is finished (it is so close) and everything is still possible.

I’m going to try to enjoy being able to visit my mother while she is still in this plane of existence with us, in whatever condition.

And I’m going to reread Cherie Langlois’s blogpost, “A Christmas Question,” which says everything I have been thinking, but says it better.

Day 15: The Cross-Out


from, “Is a Freighter Cruise for You?”

As I didn’t do a great job of writing my ghazal (mine is not syllabic, for instance), I thought I’d direct you to Chris Jarmick’s prompt for today’s poem. I’ve always wanted to try a cross-out. I’m not satisfied with the result, but I am inspired to try more of them. And maybe it’s the sort of thing one has to practice? Anyway, here’s the prompt. My poem appears at the end of this post. 

Tuesday April 15th Prompt

Prompt 15 – Create a Cross-Out aka Erasure FOUND Poem

The cross out or rub out/erasure poem is a type of FOUND poem using existing material. You will be crossing out words you don’t want in your poem from another source. Here’s what I’d like you to try to do.

Take a newspaper, magazine article or piece of text (I’d suggest of several thousand words in length) or an internet version of such. Do not change the order of any of the words when you create your poem. In other words you could look at the previous sentence (Do not change….) and create; DO CHANGE THE WORDS but you should not make this sentence: CREATE THE ORDER OF WORDS (because you’ve changed the order of the words as they originally appear).

In each line your new poem should include two words or three words that have been kept together exactly as they appeared in the original article but do not use more than THREE WORDS in a row as they originally appeared. In my example ‘the words’ appeared in the original text and in the new line of the poem. You may not change the words in any way to ‘make them fit’. Don’t make something plural or past tense. You use what is there and create something different with it. You do not have to keep the same idea or theme as the original (but you can keep it the same if you really want to). The text is simply a bunch of words that you are re-using to create your poem.

Your poem should be at least 6 lines long. And it should be somewhat poetic. (you can add some additional rules if you would like: Have a consistent pattern regarding the number of syllables in your lines – every line is 10 or 12 syllables. Or line 1 is 10 syllables, lines two is 12, line 3 is 10, line 4 is 12 etc. You can rhyme the first and second or first and third lines and the last lines in similar fashion.

Remember you are creating something poetic with your cross-out/erasure found poem.)

I picked up the Feb. 3, 2014 edition of The New Yorker, and used Patricia Marx’s “A Tale of a Tub” (pages 26-28; it’s about a freighter cruise, hence, the picture). Have I created something poetic? I don’t know. Logical? Definitely not. (Playful, yes.)

One Sort of Voyage

Hankering lovely, hurly-burly world
no handful over submarines, everything in short —

prison, electric subsisted, a hundred limes, a shark-

neglected plum varnished into the shape
of a peacock. Precipitately

streaming, jutting, failing what seemed like
guitars (perched, panoramic,

camouflaged, accompanied, flushed),
you did not ever have to stay —

allegedly sweet, last-minute
(Bonne chance!) flesh in a cow’s mouth —

dusk, a box of ginger snaps,
my reverse trip, approximately my disaster.


Finally, here’s a link to Chocolate Is a Verb, a blog featuring a variant of this sort of exercise — almost every day!