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JoAnn's Blog

For You


Here is a wagon of flowers for you
to thank you for all the good work you do.
In terrible times, you still pull through.
You inspire me to do all that I can, too.


While the world lurches from one crisis to another, I'm tempted to curl up in a blanket and hope everything will quietly improve on its own.


But no.


When I look for silver linings, I see people pitching in all over the place, largely unrecognized, trying to make the world safer and cleaner and fairer.


This tiny token of appreciation is for everyone who feeds hungry people, registers voters, sews for sustainability, picks up trash, studies and educates, contacts legislators, marches for justice, knocks doors for trustworthy political candidates, does anything and everything to help. Thank you!


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Sloth Reads. Enjoy!

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Cooking a Poem, Poetry Friday, & Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! Here's a pie for you.


Cooking a Poem


You never know how long a poem will take.
The act of writing's not like baking cake.
It might resemble cooking tasty stew
with spicy words emerging from the blue,
a cup of images, a dash of rhyme—
the one essential thing to add is time.


Age improves a draft. Don't watch the clock!
Just think of pickles crisping in a crock.

You could try marinating overnight.
A week, a year, or more might be just right.


You open up an oven door too soon;
souffles collapse like craters on the moon.

A poem rarely pops into your head
like some kind neighbor's gift of fresh-baked bread.
Unlike a pie or cookies or a cake,
a poem takes as long as it will take.


—© JoAnn Early Macken 2020


Today's poem was inspired by David Harrison's Word of the Month challenge. (February's word is "age.")


Follow David's #AfterDarkBlogTour to find out about his new poetry collection, AFTER DARK, POEMS ABOUT NOCTURNAL ANIMALS. His 97th book, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis, it features creatures that stir about their business after the sun goes down and makes its debut on Tuesday, February 25.


Linda has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Teacherdance. Enjoy!

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Fog Magic


Fog makes the bridge disappear,

disguises the bayou,

conceals the buildings beyond it.


Fog muffles traffic noise,

hushes gulls' calls,

shushes barking dogs.


Fog spangles spiderwebs,

plays tic-tac-toe on window screens,

softens the view through my glasses.


--JoAnn Early Macken


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Reading to the Core. Enjoy!



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They Say


I've fallen out of a habit that

I used to think defined me.

I hope to find more joyful moments

ahead, not only behind me.

I don't really want to write today,

but I want to want to again.

I miss the surprise of finding out

what secrets flow from my pen.


They say if you act like you're doing a thing,

then it might come back to you.

Could I jump into a new stanza?

Well, here's what I'm going to do:

Gather my pens and good luck charms.

Endeavor to put an end to

this slump. I might not write today,

but I can surely pretend to.


My sister Eileen gave me the idea for this one. ("I want to want to paint, but I don't really want to.") We'll get there together, I hope!


Sally Murphy has today's Poetry Friday Roundup. Enjoy!

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Recycle Your Unused Ideas!


From notebooks and desk drawers,
from folders and files,
from pockets and teetering tabletop piles,
gather your scribbles,
your notes and your jots—
ideas that don't fit your poems or plots.


Shred if you must,
or just toss them in
the helpful, convenient
recycling bin.


In bins, in trucks, in recycling plants,
snippets combine, completely by chance.

They'll evaporate into the bountiful air,
ready for someone to notice and care.
Ready for someone awaiting a muse.
Ready for someone to snatch up and use.


Every idea deserves its own spot—
a real home in somebody's poem or plot.
So make room. Set yours free!
They'll be wondrously new
to someone who's paying attention

like you.


—JoAnn Early Macken


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Carol's Corner. Enjoy!



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Peering Ahead


Peering Ahead

There's a light at the end of this tunnel.
It's still faint, but it's starting to glow.
If I squint, I can just barely see it,
and it's so reassuring to know
that persistence is always the answer
and if I keep plugging away,
that light will grow brighter and brighter.
I'll burst through to sunlight one day.


I'm awfully excited about the middle grade nonfiction manuscript I'm writing, Turn This Earth Around: Everyday Ways to Help Our Planet. Although I have a long way to go (and I don't have a publisher yet), I'm beginning to find a rhythm in the work. Everything takes time.


As I research, I'm experimenting. I've been sewing reusable shopping bags for several years. Lately, I've tried making my own toothpaste, tortillas, and beeswax wraps. I'm learning.


I'm also accumulating tons of information. Some of it keeps changing. So I'm creating a companion web site where I'll post some of the most helpful tidbits. I hope to reveal it soon.


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Enjoy!




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Take Heart!


You know how you get up in the morning and check the weather forecast, and you see that rain is on its way again, so you figure you'd better get your walk in early, and maybe today is finally the day to scatter the last of the milkweed seeds that spent the winter in the garage after you stored all you thought you could possibly use in the refrigerator to plant when the weather warms up? So you head to the bike path and spread those seeds around the bare spots along one side, and it's already foggy and kind of damp, so they stick to the dirt instead of flying away, and you keep walking through the wet grass, even after your feet are soaked, scattering milkweed seeds and hoping they'll sprout and monarchs will come, along with all the other creatures that benefit from milkweed, until you reach the garlic mustard patch that goes on and on and on, and it gets harder and harder to find any bare spots?


But eventually you do, and all the seeds are spread, and by then you have to pee, so you walk into the clubhouse of the golf course in the public park that your tax dollars pay for, and you see that someone has knocked down two swallows' nests in the entranceway because heaven forbid some bird poops outside the clubhouse, and when you come back out, you notice that there is not one dandelion on the whole golf course, which you know means that the park has been poisoned with pesticides, and you wonder what will happen to the worms that those robins over there are hunting for, and wait a minute—are there any worms? And you wish the robins good luck and safe hunting, and you turn around to head home thinking, How on Earth are we going to fix this?


And then you realize that you just said "we." Because all over the world, millions of people like you are trying to do the right thing, trying to care for our planet in spite of what the greedy idiots in power say, doing whatever little bits and pieces they can to try to protect what they care about. Millions of people are planting milkweed and pulling out invasive weeds and picking up trash. Millions of people are remembering to bring (and even make) their own shopping bags and refusing plastic and recycling what can be recycled, and no, it's not enough, not yet, but you can't give up because it's still the right thing to do and at least—thank goodness—you are not alone.



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Winter Poems & Poetry Friday!


melting snow + rusted gutter = icicle cascade


Imagine the view from inside that window!


Snowman – Cold = Puddle by Laura Purdie Salas is a clever combination of poetry, math, and science. Spring equation poems, poetic informative explanations, and lively collage illustrations by Micha Archer make this book a joy to discover and reread. I was inspired to write a few equation poems of my own, including the one above. I'm limited to one photo per post, so I can't show you the cover, but do look for the book—it's delightful.


I've been trying to walk the dog outside as much as possible between unbearable weather events. We both need it! Here's a haiku from yesterday's icy walk:


sunlit snowbanks sparkle

frozen camera balks

battery exhausted


This year for the first time, I'll be one of 64 authletes taking part in the Madness Poetry Tournament, in which a word is assigned to be included in each poem. To warm up, I've been writing short poems that include a random word that pops into my head. Here's one from this morning, based on ascertain:


Dog Walk Intermission


While the dog sniffs a snowbank,
I try to ascertain
where the cardinal is tweeting
its lonely refrain.


Polls open March 5th for Round 1. Please stop by, read the poems, and vote!


Monday is my favorite date of the year, March 4th. For me, it's the beginning of spring—a chance to take stock, clear out clutter, and start fresh. I'll be celebrating all day. In fact, I've already started. Join me, won't you? March forth!


Linda has today's Poetry Friday Roundup and an ingenious spring anagram poem at TeacherDance. Enjoy!


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Snowshoe Surprise & Poetry Friday!


My doctor says I need more exercise.
Cholesterol, you know... heredity....
Begrudgingly, I strap my snowshoes on
to trudge beside a frozen riverbank
with traffic roaring on my other side
and robins cheering me from overhead.


I stop to catch my breath above the spot
where freeway runoff keeps a channel clear
and beavers built their lodge across the way.
Beside the aging concrete ledge, I see
a wide, flat tail extended on the ice.
I hold my breath and watch the beaver chew.
Thin saplings rustle when it rounds the bend.


My doctor says I need more exercise.
So this is my prescription?

Lucky me!



Laura Purdie Salas has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Writing the World for Kids. Enjoy!


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Ungrumping Yourself & Poetry Friday!


How to Ungrump Yourself


Are you overwhelmed by news?

Is it giving you the blues?

Here's a tip that you might use:

Read some poetry.


If you wake up feeling grumpy

'cause the road ahead looks bumpy,

don't you fidget. Don't get jumpy.

Read some poetry.


If you feel like you could cry

(even if you don't know why),

I say give it one good try.

Read some poetry.


Though there is no guarantee,

poetry could be the key.

It worked well today for me.

Read some poetry!


Oh, what a week! Between the Polar Vortex, family health questions, and people doing heartless things, it's a wonder anyone stays positive these days. I reached my limit this morning, and something made me stop, take a break, and go back to look at last week's Poetry Friday posts, which I had missed.


Gorgeous language! Perfect metaphors! Helpful explanations! My whole day—my whole outlook—turned around. Next time I feel myself slipping into Grump Mode, I will try to remember to do that again. What a gift this Poetry Friday community is! Thank you to everyone involved!


Tabatha Yeatts has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. If you haven't checked it out yet, here's your chance!


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