Posted on

Shaping a Poem

I wrote a poem this morning, and after a few iterations, I formed it into a shape. That would classify it as “shape poetry”, “concrete poetry”, or a “calligram”.

The inspiration was the used state of my coffee cup, which had six horizontal ring lines in it. After I’d written several drafts, I realized that the poem could have six lines, too. And several drafts later, the shape of a coffee cup emerged.

The name of the poem is Stratigraphy. I didn’t know how to get the formatting to work in Word Press, so I ended up posting a picture of it as seen on my computer screen.

Please find Stratigraphy under Poems.

Posted on

Jonah, First Person Present

I have my marching orders.
My path is firmly set.
But the fear of risk and harm,
Fill me with regret.

Haven’t I worked long and hard?
This is the final straw.
Escaping threat of land life,
I sail into the maw
Of the ocean’s mammoth native,
Who, upon me, snaps his jaw.

Whale, big and hollow,
Like I am, only huge,
No rescuer can follow
Lest be swallowed by deluge.

I’m alone within the vasty deep,
Leviathan’s domain,
Moving far away from
Once comfortable terrain,
Alone and clothed in shadow,
But protected all the same.

The darkness isn’t friendly,
But it doesn’t pose a threat.
No stomach acid here,
I’m just dripping water-wet.

Neither warm nor chilly,
I sit in smallish cave,
In the deepest depths of time out,
Which could chasten or deprave,
Reminding of the way
A human mammal should behave.

I can’t sit still for too long,
And I don’t set well as food.
I’m not a tasty morsel,
And I wreck the large beast’s mood.

Soon the muscle tremors
Undulate and squeeze,
My visit nearly over,
I feel a final heave:
The monster vomits violently,
Forcing me to leave.

I toss and twirl in agony,
Confusion and dismay,
Not knowing which is up or down,
Or if it’s night or day.

Finally the swirling
Of the water’s feral flops
Push me toward the shoreline
As a sand and gravel mop,
Onto waiting dry land
Where my body rolls and stops.

Lesson learned? Be happy
With lung-friendly habitats.
Escaping from my duties
Won’t show where peace is at.

To leave is fine, but short-term,
A thoughtful getaway,
Not meant as a new life goal
Or a lasting place to stay,
But a pause to get me focused,

Then send me on my way.

Posted on

Garden Bed

Yesterday I spent about 4 hours putting together a 4′ x 4′ cedar garden bed. I sanded and sealed each of the cedar boards I would need from the kit, and while those were drying, I levelled out the trenches that the bed walls would sit in. After that, assembly went very quickly, sliding boards into corner post notches. The result is a 17″ tall soon-to-be borscht garden, with beets, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, dill, and carrots – and maybe more. I’m so happy to get one bed made, and I hope to get at least 2 more up by the end of April.

Posted on

Getting started

Front Yard 3/18/22 – Spray painting a trial vision
Front Yard 3/18/22 – Bed beginnings

I spray-painted potential bed borders onto my front lawn about a week ago. Since I don’t have
the guidance of a landscaping professional, as I’d hoped, I’m just jumping in with what I have for
ideas so far. My 4’x4′ cedar garden beds are waiting in the garage. I plan on going to home depot
for sand, to help me level the beds, and maybe some heavy-duty paper to set into the bed trenches,
and maybe some landscape fabric garden staples. I thought I had some staples, but I can’t find

Posted on

Cool Pillow, Warm Bed

I stayed up too late watching TV.
My husband went to bed hours ago.
I brush my teeth, use the toilet, wash my face,
Then shuffle through dark in slow motion,
Sock feet sliding on wood floor.
I lift the blanket and melt into
An toasty bed oven.
The pillow is cool, the way I like it,
And under the covers is warm.

Hubby’s throat is a vocal rainstick,
Then glottals trade places with sighs
And blown-out puffs of air.
I start to feel throbs of a headache
That haunts me sometimes lying down.
But the pillow is cool, the way I like it,
And under the covers is warm.

Soon high temps tingle my toes.
I engage in my nightly routine:
Each foot uncovers its sibling
Then both kick footwear to the floor,
Shoving socks out between sheet layers.
My pillow is cool, the way I like it,
And under the covers is warm.

A poem of gratitude comes to my mind.
I build it in dark and silence,
First for myself, but then,
Obligated to write it down,
I set my clock lamp to low brightness –
Enough to see journal page penlines,
Not enough to see what I’m writing.

After I turn off the lightsource,
I slowly sink into a sleeping.
Outside the rain softly patters.
Beside me, my man Velcro snores.
My mouth guard squeezes my top teeth.
My pillow is cool, the way I like it.
And under the covers is warm.

Posted on

Waiting for Dry Days

Last week, before the arrival of an “atmospheric river”, a few hours of sunshine allowed me to spray paint my lawn.

I used pink paint to outline the boundaries between border plantings and lawn and potential locations for raised beds. When the pink ran out, I used blue spray paint to outline a path and to speculate where to put a small greenhouse and a compost bin. I used black spray paint to mark spots where bushes, trees, and rocks could be placed.

Originally, I had asked a landscaping company (essentially a one-man show) for some design ideas. After the initial meeting (the free consultation), he said he would get back to me in a week. One month later, when he returned my follow-up message from the week before, he apologized and said the office had been short-staffed. “We will get you a proposal for the design early next week,” he said in an e-mail to me dated February 25. It is now March 15.

I don’t really know how to proceed here. I was looking forward to his design. Since he spent over an hour walking around the yard and chatting with me about some of my sketched-out ideas, I felt somewhat obligated to work with him to pay him for that time. When he said he would get back to me, I took him at his word. It took some effort on my part to ask a professional for help in the first place. I don’t feel comfortable having to remind him about assurances he gave me of his own accord.

So, I’ve purchased a wooden-handled grass edger and a trench-digger (essentially a narrow shovel), and I’ve ordered some cheap but easy-to-assemble cedar raised beds on Amazon. As soon as the rain takes a break, maybe in about a week (according to I might just start doing some yard designing on my own. I have many questions and doubts about my specific ideas. But I also have Google and YouTube videos. So I’ll do what I can and see what happens.

Posted on

Garden Potential

My front and back yards are full of garden potential. Right now they consist mostly of lumpy expanses of grass. But in my mind (and on graph paper) are forming raised garden beds, a firepit, a labyrinth, and much more. Now I am waiting for warmer, less rainy weather before I fully dive into making the physical changes.

Posted on

Fasting, Baha’i-Style

Today is the 6th day of the Baha’i 19-day Fast. From March 2nd to March 20th, adult Baha’is who don’t have significant physical impediments or specific exceptions to do so, refrain from eating or drinking while the sun is up. For medical reasons, I drink water during the Fast, but even with that, it can be challenging for me. Today, for example, I am feeling cold, a little achy, and strongly pulled towards taking a nap. While in the midst of a free-writing exercise this morning, I found myself drifting off into dream-thoughts seemingly unrelated to what I was writing.

This used to happen to me often when I had afternoon classes in high school and college. I remember stints of falling asleep in an after-lunch history class. I would be dutifully taking notes, struggling to stay conscious. When my head would jerk up after a temporary sleep-slouch, I would look down at my notes to see that they either had nothing to do with the history being spoken of by my teacher and/or my written words had gradually become smaller and messier, trailing down off the notebook line they had started on.

Recently I have been reading about Abdu’l-Baha, the son of the founder of the Baha’i Faith, and this morning I was writing about Abdu’l-Baha’s travels in Egypt, Europe, and North America around 1912. He was nearing 70 years old at the time, and the trip was very hard on him, physically. I was just remembering a picture I have seen of Abdu’l-Baha in his aba (a kind of robe-like garment common in Persian culture), and suddenly I was in that same brick-wall-bordered courtyard, dancing in a white robe singing, “I am Mae.” Then just as suddenly, I was awake and thinking, “What was that about?”

When I have had paying jobs during the Fast, I have struggled at times to stay awake. But now that I don’t have an employer, no specific daily tasks that I can’t bypass without consequence, the struggle is even more difficult. Why not give in and let my body snuggle under some covers and submit to somnolescence?

Not everybody struggles with fasting the way I do. I’ve seen people who seem to have high energy and joyfulness even after they have not imbibed food or water for almost 12 hours. In fact, I know many people who have fasted beyond the point of sunset because eating right at sunset didn’t work for their schedule. That’s not me, though. Especially not today.

Posted on


Butterflies and grandmothers
Are very much alike
If you’re new to Russian language,
And you hear them side by side.

I met a native speaker
Who was confused by my conflation,
Not hearing the sameness
Which I heard as imitation.

I wonder if my eyes would see
A nearly alike aura
Comparing Order Grandmomia
With that of Lepidoptera.

They are both past their unfolding,
Beyond strenuous transition,
That engraved them with clear markings
Of their “older now” position.

Both creatures thrive in sunshine,
And stretches of dry weather.
Their bodies hide from rain or snow.
Their concerns are light as feathers.

Both delight as visitors,
Unless flighty behavior
Brings them over boundaries
And (slightly) out of favor.

Without the Russian language,
I might not compare the two.
But my mind looks at the evidence
And sees that it is true.

Grandmothers are butterflies,
For whom our awe is due.