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JoAnn's Blog

#SaferAtHomePoem No. 11 (April 3, 2020) & Poetry Friday!

 

How to Help: Stay Home!

 

Everybody on the street,

stay at home. Please stay at home!

It's not safe for friends to meet.

Stay at home. Please stay at home!

Be a hero. Don't go out.

Don't go frolicking about.

Seriously, must I shout?

STAY AT HOME! STAY HOME!

 

I've been posting a #SaferAtHomePoem each day on Facebook and Twitter since our governor issued the alert for Wisconsin. This one has been rattling around in my head all week as I walk through our busy neighborhood. I've also gathered the others on this blog. (Please keep reading!)

 

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at My Juicy Little Universe. Enjoy!

 

xox,

JoAnn

 

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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!

 

JoAnn

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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!

 

JoAnn

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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!

 

JoAnn

 

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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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List Poems & Poetry Friday!

 

A helpful commenter on last week's post (scroll down to read it) suggested writing list poems as a way to get back into writing after drifting away for a while. So I tried a few. Here are three new ones from this week.

 

       

 

Oh, notebook, my confidante,
I've missed the comforting opaqueness of your cover,
the predictable curve of your spiral,
your straightforward guiding lines,
the way you keep my secrets,
and how they whisper to me as your pages turn.

 

        

 

On Mom's Windowsill

 

orchids whose flower stalks stretch toward glass
Christmas cactus, hopefully budded
plump aloe with companion stained glass dragonfly
chick in Easter basket, dancing to sunshine
reminder to staff: Always use gait belt for transfers!
chair alarm, flashing to show that the battery works,
      labeled "wireless fall management"
      as if it could maintain her balance
      or temper her urge to get up and go somewhere—
                like home,
                if she could just remember how to get there

 

       

 

What She Remembers

 

She remembers the lyrics to songs she sang decades ago.
She remembers the punchlines to jokes she repeats with a smirk.
She remembers to put on her long, double-strand

     pearly necklace.
She remembers how to apply her red lipstick

     without a glance in a mirror.
She remembers a day with our dad in a field by the water.
She remembers my face, though she's not always sure who I am,
and I don't have the heart to remind her because
I am struggling with memories of my own.

       

 

Kathryn Apel has today's Poetry Friday Roundup. Enjoy!

 

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Morning Observations & Poetry Friday!

 

daylight lengthening
minute reasons to rejoice
winter's turning point

 

next door cat follows
squirrel between our houses
window to window

 

singing overhead
sunlit branches block my view
hope for a robin

 

I never intend to stop writing every day, but when I fall out of the habit, I sometimes find it easier to slide back into haiku--not because they are short but because using the traditional 5-7-5 form gives me a structure to hang my words on. What works for you?

 

Sylvia Vardell has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Poetry for Children. Enjoy!

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Politics & Poetry Friday

Protesters packed the hallways and three overflow rooms outside the Joint Committee on Finance's "public hearing" on Monday. They closed the doors. 

 

I rarely write for adults, but recent political events have provoked me to pick up my pen. In November, Wisconsin voters elected a Democratic Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer. Then, in an all-night lame duck session, the Republican-controlled legislature passed an unprecedented power grab, as detailed in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article. You can also read about it in the New York Times (scroll down to see my husband and me—with my sister and brother-in-law behind us—in the photo of the gallery just before they cleared it). Yes, Wisconsin is getting national attention, none of it good. And we are not alone. Similar power grabs are in process in Michigan and North Carolina.

 

Despite winning all four statewide elections, Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly remain outnumbered—thanks to gerrymandered districts that maintain the current party's hold on power. We await the Supreme Court's decision. Here's my take on the sorry situation:

 

          The Power of the Map

          by JoAnn Early Macken

 

          If you're a savvy politician

          with a race to win,

          sophisticated software is

          the best way to begin.

 

          Divvy up your districts so

          your rivals always lose,

          and then it really doesn't matter

          whom the voters choose.

 

          If you don't like the odds, just rig them

          by redistricting.

          No wave or wall can overcome

          gerrymandering.

 

After working to register voters and get out the vote, we spent two days in the Capitol in Madison watching the shameful events unfold. Now, unless the outgoing Republican governor vetoes the legislation, we will see our taxes go to law firms while the whole mess is tied up in legal battles instead of funding education, infrastructure, environmental issues, and a raft of other problems that desperately need attention. It's heartbreaking. But we've done what we can—for now.

 

I'm returning to my Work In Progress, a collection of humorous middle grade poems, and my sewing project with Bring Your Bag Shorewood, making Boomerang Bags reusable shopping bags for people to borrow when they forget to bring their own. Wish me luck!

 

Elizabeth Steinglass has today's Poetry Friday Roundup. Enjoy!

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Small Seed Scrounger & Poetry Friday!

 

Scrounging Around

 

I'm a brown field mouse,
and I live outside your house.
From my burrow underground,
I can scurry all around,
finding everything I need.
I flourish on the seed
that falls from your feeders.

 

Birds are very messy eaters.

 

 

We try to remember our feathery and furry friends with extra treats when the temperature drops like it has around here lately. It's a pleasure to watch the birds on the feeders and the creatures that clean up around them. I hope you find a moment to stop and look, too.

 

Happy Poetry Friday! Irene has today's Roundup at Live Your Poem! Enjoy!

 

 

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A Pep Talk for Poets & Poetry Friday!

 

The Poem I Threw Away

 

Chickens are chuckling. Cows guffaw.
Donkeys hee-haw and bray.
What are the animals laughing about?
A poem I threw away.

 

A goat pulled it from the recycling.
Now horses rear up and neigh
as a rooster reads aloud to the crowd
the poem I threw away.

 

So don't you give up too quickly.
Ruminate for another day.
Someone might find hilarious
the poem you throw away.

 

I've been working on a collection of silly middle grade poems, many of which got their start on this blog last April for National Poetry Month. As I dig way down into old computer files and notebooks, I sometimes unearth a draft I still like. This is one from summer (ohh...summer!) that doesn't fit the theme of the collection. I'm posting it because I need pep talks from time to time. Maybe you do, too.

 

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

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Walking Poem & Poetry Friday!

 

Walking

 

Fresh paper,
new pen,
same old thoughts
again.
Though I'd like
to hide,
I'm heading
outside.
I listen
for birds.
New thoughts form
new words.
Cold snow in
my face.
Those words start
to race.
Keep walking.
Get clear.
The rhythm
I hear
and feel in
my feet—
that regular
beat—
turns into
a poem
before I'm
back hoem.
Fresh paper,
new pen—
inspired
again.

 

Today's walk in the first snow of the winter was a surprise even though we had seen it in the forecast. Rosy had to fetch her flying disk instead of the whistling ball she chased all summer. She made the switch like a champ. 

 

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Today's Little Ditty. Enjoy!

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Happy Birthday, a Poem for Travelers, & Poetry Friday!

 

Thanks to our thoughtful husbands, my twin sister Judy and I got to celebrate our birthday together last month. We all ate dinner at a fabulous vegan restaurant in Boston, walked along the coast in Maine, and went leaf peeping in New Hampshire. We had a wonderful time, and then we were glad to be home again.

 

Here's a poem I wrote for travelers and for those who wait for travelers to return.

 

 

Travel Prayer

 

Let those who travel have an easy flight
and chat with pleasant strangers on the way.
Let those who stay behind not feel bereft
but find some helpful task to fill each day,
to occupy their hands, their thoughts, their hearts,
not miss too terribly the ones who left.

 

While those who were together are apart,
let those who travel, travel without fear
and find their journeys worth the efforts made.

 

Let those who stay at home wait unafraid
and carry on with grace and hopeful cheer
until at last all loved ones reunite.

 

JoAnn Early Macken

 

 

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Enjoy! And if you haven't voted yet, please vote. If you've already voted, please help someone else vote. Our democracy depends  on it!

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Recycled (Poem for Two Voices, Part 2) & Poetry Friday!

 

Last week's poem for two voices seemed unfinished--I hated to leave poor Blackboard and Chalk awaiting what might be a terrible fate! (Scroll down to read it if you haven't yet!) So here's some more of their story.

 

The voice of the blackboard is in the left column; the voice of the chalk is in the right column. Read from top to bottom, alternating voices as needed. When both columns contain text, read them together.

 

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is at A Journey Through the Pages. Enjoy!

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Replaced (Poem for Two Voices) & Poetry Friday!

 

Author/illustrator Calef Brown posed a challenge on Michelle Heidenrich Barnes's Today's Little Ditty blog: Write a poem or a story about two anthropomorphized objects. Here's mine!

 

The voice of the blackboard is in the left column; the voice of the chalk is in the right column. Read from top to bottom, alternating voices as needed. When both columns contain text, read them together.

 

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is at Friendly Fairy Tales. Enjoy!

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Windy Garden & Poetry Friday!

 

I planted potatoes and parsley and peppers,
pumpkins and parsnips and peas.
I said to the soil, "Take good care of these seeds."
I asked the clouds to please
let down a soft rain from time to time
and the wind to slow down to a breeze.


Then all of a sudden, the wind picked up,
and it blew all my seeds away.
Somebody else's seeds blew in,
so my garden still turned out okay.
Now I eat cucumbers, corn, cauliflower,
carrots, and cabbage all day.

 

Tabatha Yeatts has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Enjoy! 

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Morning Haiku for Poetry Friday

I don't know what this plant is. Do you? It inspired the first haiku.

 

frilly halos rim

delicate cone-shaped blossoms

fringe of tiny bees

 

mosquito seeking heat

lands to check out coffee mug

neighbor's AC hums

 

wren's morning circuit

clothes line, fence post, lilac branch

warble at each stop

 

can't ignore the crow

even when it's out of sight

ruckus in the tree

 

monarch leaves an egg

on one life-sustaining leaf

of each milkweed plant

 

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Enjoy!

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Upgrading the Garden & Poetry Friday!

 

Upgrading the Garden

 

I just dug up a clump of
overcrowded pulmonaria.
Too many plants were growing in
a tiny little area.
I'll split them up and trade some
with my neighbors. I have nary a
foxglove, hollyhock, ajuga,
phlox, or cineraria.
I can throw in milkweed
or monarda. Time to vary a
bit what grows here every year.

Got any Alstroemeria?

 

Karen Edmisten has today's Poetry Friday Roundup . Enjoy!

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Springing Eternal & Poetry Friday!

 

Springing Eternal


I potted impatiens to put on the porch.
They are doomed. I never take care of 'em.
Plus everything there's a temptation to squirrels,
and we've got a root-chewing pair of 'em,
along with the spider mites weaving their webs—
destructive and messy—beware of 'em.

This year's will be different, I swear of 'em.

 

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Buffy's Blog. Enjoy!

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Morning Promise


I had to go buy a new computer yesterday (Coffee! Keyboard!), so I put blinders on and ignored my notebook all day even though I could hear it calling me. But before I went to sleep, I read some poems from Naomi Shihab Nye's Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners, and a quote in her poem "Tomorrow" stuck with me: "All that is truly ours now is the day that is beginning." This morning, I woke up and started writing before I got out of bed.

      The good thing about today is that
      it gives me another chance
          to laugh
          to leap
          to sing
          to play
          to work
          to pray
          to dance.
      I make this promise to myself
      each day that I’m lucky to live:
      I’ll take the opportunity
          to help
          to hope
          to fight
          for right
          to lift
          to love
          to give.

Happy Poetry Friday! Brenda has today's Roundup at Friendly Fairy Tales. Enjoy!
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Day 6: Helping the Planet, Poetry Friday, & a Book Giveaway!

          If you walk along the river,
          you’ll find trash among the bushes,
          snagged in branches,
          stuck in trees.
          You will find a plastic bag.
          Plastic bags are everywhere.

          Pick one up. This is important.
          Fill it with the trash you find.
          Yes, I know you didn’t drop it.
          Help the planet anyway.
          Someone has to be a steward.
          Someone has to care.


For the past year, a group I cofounded (Bring Your Bag Shorewood in Shorewood, Wisconsin) has been sewing reusable shopping bags from donated fabric and stocking them in a local grocery store. People who forget their bags can borrow one and bring it back for someone else to use. I wrote about it on the Authors for Earth Day blog. Tonight, we’ll be at the Shorewood Conservation Committee’s free screening of Bag It at 7 p.m. at the Shorewood Village Center. We'll talk about reusable shopping bags and our group’s efforts to reduce the use of unnecessary disposable plastic.

I'm giving away a copy of Write a Poem Step by Step every day in April. The book is based on my school visit presentations and includes a simple plan you can follow to create your own poems. I wrote it for students, teachers, and writers of all ages.

Post a comment here to enter. I'll choose one at random tomorrow and drop a copy of Write a Poem Step by Step in the mail—U.S. addresses only, please. I’ll email you for your mailing address if you win. And if you don't win right away, please try again. I'll have 31 copies to share!

If you get this error message

     V1 SHUTDOWN ON 2018-03-31
     Direct site owners to g.co/recaptcha/upgrade

type anything in the box! (I'm working on it.)

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm. Enjoy!

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The View from Our Kitchen

              Through the Window

              Woodpecker tilts his head
                       flash of red
                       banded cheek
                       pointed beak
              pecks at the suet
              peeks in the window
              watches me watching him
                       cautiously motionless
                       watching him watching me
                       taking in that feathered scene
              both of us filling up

              JoAnn Early Macken



Buffy Silverman has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Buffy's Blog. Enjoy!

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Recipe for Morning

              Recipe for Morning

              One dog
              One sunrise-red sky
              One wind-chilled field
              One ball—watch it fly!
              One scramble-sprint-leap
              One catch dropped at my feet

              Repeat

              JoAnn Early Macken



This poem was inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Recipe for Joy." Check it out and try your own recipe poem.

Amy's new book Read! Read! Read! brought back memories of reading comics, road signs, and cereal boxes. Enjoy!

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Random Noodling.

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Spring in Wisconsin


                                                            Cold, damp, dreary day.
                                                            Robin’s sunny reminder:
                                                            Cheeriup! Cheer up!

                                                            JoAnn Early Macken

Happy National Poetry Month! Happy Poetry Friday! Tabatha Yeatts is hosting the roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Next week, I'll host the Poetry Friday Roundup at the Teaching Authors blog. Enjoy!

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Owls, After the Storm

              Nightly Owl Check

              We heard their gentle hoots before we found
              the great horned silhouettes in their new tree,
              one doting parent tearing prey apart
              to feed their fluffy feather duster chick.

              Too young to fly, it must have fallen when
              the storm hit their dilapidated nest,
              now draped like curtains down the old tree’s trunk.

              The crows cried out their warnings all day long.
              They must have seen the flapping owlet climb.
              We missed it, but all’s well. We head back home.

              JoAnn Early Macken



Happy National Poetry Month! Happy Poetry Friday! The roundup is at Dori Reads. Enjoy!



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Daffodils!

              Gravitational Pull

              A constellation of daffodils
              brightens our dining room table,
              stems aligned in a spiral ascending
              to petal stars.

              We cluster around,
              planets in orbit,
              drawn to the light.

              JoAnn Early Macken



Happy National Poetry Month! Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Live Your Poem. Enjoy!

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Orchid Spray

              Star-shaped, dawn-colored,
              freckle-faced flowers
              perch on their branch
              like a flock of finches
              peering over each other's shoulders.



This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Today's Little Ditty. Enjoy!

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