Tag Archives: poetry


The poet stands before a cage of birds,
contemplating his next words.
He snatches up a finch
and deftly dips its feet in ink,
stamping glyphs across the page.
All the while, the bird sings softly,
adding a common tone
to this pedestrian poem.
Returning the finch to its pen,
the poet mutters,
"I should have used a wren." mjh


dry spell

It is so nice of you
to ask about my poetry.
“Anything new?”
Only seeds
on fallow ground
my personal drought,
I reply dryly
through cracked lips,
my laugh the crunch
of leaves & snap of twigs.

In my hands this paper
browns and curls,
the pen melts,
and in flame
I remember
some seeds need fire
some brush must burn
before we grow. mjh


Size matters … in poems

Here at the Café Poetica, where the wireless is ethereal, the server sets down a small plate with a little morsel I pop into my mouth. These appetizers are almost always "good enough." In the worst cases, they’re gone before I think about spitting them out. In the best cases, I ask, "May I have some more, please?"

Next up: a large plate. This is no empanada: it’s a calzone. I take a bite as Walt Whitman looks at me from the pass-thru, smiling expectantly, wiping his hands on an apron. I stall, "h-h-hot." A few bites in, I’m enjoying this. Before long, I’m stuffed and the plate is still half full. No matter how good this dish is, it’s more than I want at one sitting. And if it’s an off day, I wouldn’t give the leftovers to my dog.

My metaphor is as tart as a lemon (and my similes juicy). You take my point and yet I go on and on, testing your resolve. Let me be brief: be brief. I do not offer advice, especially to poets, whom I have nothing to teach. I’ll just say what I like: a tasty morsel. If I can’t stop my eye from wandering ahead — just how long is this? — I probably won’t get to the end. (Haven’t you already scanned ahead? Would your patience increase if these lines didn’t reach the edge of the page?) There’s a difference between rhetoric and poetry. Get a blog. Keep a journal. Pour your heart out in detail — that could produce great writing and surely produces cheap therapy. But if you have 10 things to say or 10 ways to say one thing, consider which is "best" (don’t ask me) or write 10 poems to figure it out.

That said, please yourself first. If you also please someone else, that’s gravy. Not that everything is better with gravy.

Raven’s Rule: If your poem is longer than The Raven, it should be better. Good luck with that.

The poems of childhood linger long after

A poem popped into my RSS reader and lead me down memory lane to revisit the three poems I most vividly remember my Mom reading to me, time and again. [Some may recall I loved to quote this first one years after I learned it.]

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear : The Poetry Foundation

"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love, 
   What a beautiful Pussy you are, 
         You are, 
         You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear : The Poetry Foundation

I still have the giant book from which my Mom first read this to me. The book has lush illustrations we both loved. (I still remember the smell of its slick pages.)

CatStuff: The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat

The Duel
by Eugene Field

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat; …

CatStuff: The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat

I think this was my Mom’s favorite.

The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside–
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown–
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson

My Virtual Chapbook

I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting one of my poems each day. I got off to a late start. As of 5/1/11, I posted 4×7 poems, each with a reading (sound file). You can rate any or all and comment on each here or on Facebook.

  1. Unhinged Mon 04/04/11 at 11:47 am
  2. Wind Makes Crazy Tue 04/05/11 at 9:47 pm
  3. Whispering, “Rain!” Wed 04/06/11 at 7:47 pm
  4. Graze Thu 04/07/11 at 7:47 pm
  5. Cold Lang Syne Fri 04/08/11 at 11:47 pm
  6. Merri! Sat 04/09/11 at 10:47 pm
  7. Blush Sun 04/10/11 at 10:47 pm
  8. Sharp Mon 04/11/11
  9. Going Home Tue 04/12/11 at 10:47 pm
  10. Choke Wed 04/13/11 at 1:47 pm
  11. some lesser poet Thu 04/14/11 at 10:47 pm
  12. bask Fri 04/15/11 at 10:47 pm
  13. tuck Sat 04/16/11 at 12:00 pm
  14. flea Sun 04/17/11 at 7:47 am
  15. Dickey Mon 04/18/11 at 5:19 am
  16. The Heaven of Animals Tue 04/19/11 at 2:47 pm
  17. The Bright Side Wed 04/20/11 at 9:47 am
  18. Slumber Thu 04/21/11 at 4:21 am
  19. waiting for the tide Fri 04/22/11 at 10:47 am
  20. Relentless Sat 04/23/11 at 11:47 am
  21. Icarus Sun 04/24/11 at 12:00 pm
  22. at this very moment Mon 04/25/11 at 7:47 am
  23. 101° Tue 04/26/11 at 1:01 am
  24. the cure Wed 04/27/11 at 12:47 am
  25. up in the middle of the night Thu 04/28/11 at 6:00 am
  26. Songdogs Fri 04/29/11 at 11:47 am
  27. Seek Alternate Route Sat 04/30/11 at 9:47 am
  28. this simple truth Sun 05/01/11 at 1:13 am