Day 24, way off prompt


“You smell like you want to be alone.”

“It’s my hat.” 

She bowed her head 
to her notebook and pen.

I bent my head down 
to sniff the cowboy hat 
pushed tightly down
onto her forehead.

My belief was that it was not true. 

I leaned back in my chair. 
Her mousy scribbling 
scratched the paper.
I watched the fog 
roll down the mountain 
into the valley.

I yearned for rain. 

Gray clouds 
made a good argument for it. 
I wanted to be enveloped 
in their soft dark hands, 
keeping me safe from
childhood monsters under the bed. 

There was hope.

I smelled the lemon 
in the carafe sitting on the table. 
Pouring the last bit into my glass, 
I made a note to ask for a refill 
the next time I saw the waiter.


She would finish soon.

Wondering if we would be able to leave
in the thick gray curtain
I saw from the front window, 
mist hiding the shops 
across the road,
I watched the woman with her poodle  
in her bag 
stepping out the door 
off the curb 
into the gray abyss.


Water poured down the windows and flowed into the curb down the street passing the sewer not wanting to leave its path I imagined it flowing into the houses filling up the basements to the top of the stairs where bottles of homemade beer floated like dinghies lost at sea.

“More water, please,” 
she ordered him, and
returned to her notebook.  

A swift hand 
grabbed the carafe,
almost in the same space and time
placed another down. 
A pirouette. 
He was practiced.

I bent my head closer to hers. 
My belief was that it was not true.

She must be getting close 
I leaned over to see her scribbling. 
I could never read it, 
even if it wasn’t upside down. 
But she would read it to me.

I never knew
if she was reading 
what she wrote. 
Or changed the words 
as she read along. 
Or was just 
telling me another story
she thought I wanted to hear.

the scent of rain, 
and gray clouds eating the sun, 
I really couldn’t smell if she wanted to be alone.

Maybe it was just hope. Or the rain.


I haven’t been able to keep up with daily writing. However, our writing group met yesterday and I decided to devise a prompt pulled from several different sources. The group was none too pleased and I was a bit of a whip cracker a few times. But in the end as we finished, the group broke out into a self applause. That has never happened in the ten plus years we have been meeting. We felt good about our writing.

Here is the long and complex prompt. And below it are the prompts I used. There were parts that everyone in the group used and then ones that we each individually chose and used. And, of course, as always, one can write what they wish to write sans prompt. We are a delightful group!


  1. Name a type of hat – group shout out – cowboy hat   
  2. A childhood monster –  our own
  3. Name an object in this room – group shout out – carafe 
  4. Choose one and no FOMO. I only read the list once. From NaPoWriMo.


5. Construct a sentence with one of the above words – our own
6. During the twenty minute writing period, I instructed the group to use this sentence in the first seven minutes. 

Then I stopped the group once at seven minutes and once again at  fourteen minutes and instructed the group to end whatever sentence we were writing, even if it wasn’t the end of the sentence, and to place a period and end it.

I then instructed the group to write down the above sentence we each constructed with the word we chose. 

At the final bell, I asked everyone to write a contradiction of something they wrote earlier.

Opening line: “You smell like you want to be alone.”

My Prompts:

  1. cowboy hat
  2. monster under the bed
  3. carafe
  4. Belief
  5. My belief was that it was not true. 
  6. I really couldn’t smell if she wanted to be alone.
  7. Opening line: “You smell like you want to be alone.”

Crashe’s Law

NaPoWriMo Day 22

Crumbling is not an instant act.

It arrives almost unseen and
bows with a fundamental pause.

It is dilapidation, an organized decay,
beginning first with a cobweb 
weaving itself small,
a gentle strangulation upon the soul. 

It is found in a cuticle of dust 
that borders my axis, 
a spec of elemental rust,
a shy unnoticed ruin, at first.

It is a formal designed in devil’s work 
consecutively draped, falling all around me.

I fail in what seems an instant 
partnered with the Devil,
slipping into Crashe’s Law.


Here we are at day 22 in NaPoWriMo. I got a little further this year than I have in the last few in which I participated. My last poem was on day 10.

Today’s prompt has us choosing an Emily Dickinson poem we’ve never read and take away her punctuation and dashes. Then we can remove and add words.

This is my kind prompt!

Here is her poem:

Crumbling is not an instant’s Act (1010)

Crumbling is not an instant’s Act
A fundamental pause
Dilapidation’s processes
Are organized Decays —

‘Tis first a Cobweb on the Soul
A Cuticle of Dust
A Borer in the Axis
An Elemental Rust —

Ruin is formal — Devil’s work
Consecutive and slow —
Fail in an instant, no man did
Slipping — is Crashe’s law —

Benny, my Bean

Day 9

Benny, my Bean

Benny, My Bean

Your ashes on my mantle sit. Your stained
and dirty collar as its base. “Let’s play,”
the pocket holding tags dangles down, chained
no more to me, but in my heart you stay.

Four months since you are gone, my everyday 
breath still catches, tears roll down reminding 
me of my “Soul Dog.” Our daily ballet,
of your protection, my soft kiss binding

us forever. You sent her quickly finding
me a new warm heart to love and cherish.
Your departure just a pause, spellbinding
our hearts forever and will not perish.

Your stately paw and side-eye glance, heavy 
sigh, my Soul Dog. My Bean. My sweet Benny.


First, and foremost, I must thank from the depths of my heart the peeps at NaPoWriMo. They chose my poem “Prismojen” from from Day 8, to be the featured poem for today. I am deeply humbled. And a great thank you to all who read and posted their words of support. I a deeply grateful.

Now on with today’s prompt. My dread of al dreads – the sonnet. Oh. I tried my best to use ABAB BCBCB CDCD EE –   “The Spenserian sonnet is a 14-line poem developed by Edmund Spenser in his Amoretti, that varies the English form by interlocking the three quatrains (ABAB BCBC CDCD EE).”

Today’s prompt from NaPoWriMo. “Finally, here’s our prompt for the day (as always, optional). We’re calling today Sonnet Sunday, as we’re challenging you to write in what is probably the most robust poetic form in English. A traditional sonnet is 14 lines long, with each line having ten syllables that are in iambic pentameter (where an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable). While love is a very common theme in sonnets, they’re also known for having a kind of argumentative logic, in which a problem is posed in the first eight lines or so, discussed or argued about in the next four, and then resolved in the last two lines. A very traditional sonnet will rhyme, though there are a variety of different rhyme schemes.

Today, sonnets are probably most commonly associated with Shakespeare (who wrote more than 150, and felt very little compunction about messing around with the form, at least to the extent of regularly saying “who cares” to strict iambs). But poets’ attention to the form hasn’t waned in the 400 years or so since the Bard walked the fields around Stratford-upon-Avon and tramped the stage-boards of Merrie Old England. Take a look at this little selection of contemporary sonnets by Dennis JohnsonAlice NotleyRobert Hass, and Jill Alexander Essbaum. You’ll notice that while all of these poems play in some way on the theme of love, they are tonally extremely different – as is the kind or quality of love that they discuss. Some rhyme, some don’t. They mostly stick to around 14 lines but They’re also not at all shy about incorporating contemporary references (the Rolling Stones, telephones, etc).

Today, we’d like to challenge you to write your own sonnet. Incorporate tradition as much or as little as you like – while keeping in general to the theme of “love.”


Day Six


depend on the day you choose to hear them,
not so quaint passing voices

Let them be the segue dare

Depose them, YOU dare THEM
cruise right by them

Line your house instead
with arias

just imagine


Today’s prompt always stops me. ‘Choose a poem in another language that you don’t know. Read the poem thinking about the sound and shape of the words, and the degree to which they remind you of words in your own language. Use those correspondences as the basis for a new poem.”

Its hurts my brain Every. Single. Time. No matter how hard I try, my brain refuses to be loose with it. Others find it delightful fun. I am in angst. I’m too concrete. And I give up and ignore the prompt.

But with the encouragement of a few artistic friends, I soldiered on today.

Michael – The nature of inspiration…?

Sepha – Hmm, that in itself might be your prompt!

Catherine – Perhaps a conversation with the myth of inspiration! Or with angst!

Here is the poem I used. I did not read the English translation until I completed my poem.

dramaturgia do mundo
by Francisco Mallman

tanta coisa depende de quantos 
passos voce consegue dar 
depois de cruzar 
linhas imaginarias

Then I wrote down the words I heard and saw that reminded me of something in English:

Too Much Drama

Taunt cause depends day quaint
Passes voice can segway dare
Depose dare cruiser
Line house imagine arias

From that, it led me here:


Tauntings depend on a day you chose to hear them
not quaint passing voices
Let them be a segue dare
depose them, you dare them
cruise right by them 
Line your house, instead,
with arias,
just imagine

And the original Portuguese poem in English:

dramaturgy of the world
by Francisco Mallman,
translated from Portuguese by Robert Smith

so much depends on how many 
steps you are able to take 
after crossing
imaginary lines

I guess I didn’t let the prompt taunt me this year.

I Don’t Do Easter Anymore

Day Five

I don’t do Easter anymore
Or ashes or fish on Friday

I no longer sit in church housed  prayer
To ask forgiveness of my imperfections 

Or kneeling as a sinner guilty for nailed holes 
And bloody hands and feet and crowns of thorns

Instead I glory in the rising sun 
Her velvet ears and gentle paws

My partner’s smile and loving touch
And homemade bread with butter

I don’t do Easter anymore
I don’t have time or space

But I know Your essence deep within
And rest in union in Your love


So, I didn’t quite follow the prompt today. But I used juxtaposition to describe my relationship to Easter past and now my present. Dark and light. Guilt and joy. No laughter here. Just deep and grace filled peace.

“Finally, here’s our (optional) prompt for the day. Begin by reading Charles Simic’s poem “The Melon.” It would be easy to call the poem dark, but as they say, if you didn’t have darkness, you wouldn’t know what light is. Or vice versa. The poem illuminates the juxtaposition between grief and joy, sorrow and reprieve. For today’s challenge, write a poem in which laughter comes at what might otherwise seem an inappropriate moment – or one that the poem invites the reader to think of as inappropriate.”

Practical Taxidermy

NaPoWriMo Day 1

Practical Taxidermy

In all practicality
how practical is it
to stuff myself with hope
when all that I will
leave with
is a whiff of a soul

and even that is an uncertainty

I can practically stuff a house
with wants, 
how practical is that 
when it’s time to move on

My head is very practical 
with knowing 
I think is vital

A practical
is not
what it’s 

cracked up to be

It is the unstuffing
where life breathes
and loves
and lives eternal


I Have Your Back. Acrylic on watercolor paper. #lexleonardartist


  1. Take a handful of blueberries, toss them one by one, her attention, the prize awarded.
  2. They shatter, those berry blue words, like bullet splatter behind her back.
  3. Let their juices flow between the cellophane wall separating you from her with her cherry berry dyed hair.
  4. Draw your berry blue bloodied finger along the line of demarcation, a line for which you shall never pass.
  5. Let her know even though she will not turn to hear, twist to look, let her know you have her back, will you always have her back if she returns.
  6. You will have her back at the slightest drop of a single berry blue rolling its escape from the clamshell carton on the kitchen counter, remind her it was a mistake.
  7. Your hands stained, guilty for there is no excuse, no words to make amends in the blue puddle of berries gone.
  8. Your berry blue words streak sad, speak your words, this be your poem, your truth without remorse, your bloody berry blue words without regret, your poem to her, and to every blueberry lost.


Author’s Note..

I am drawn to surrealism and find this writing exploration unsettling. This image I painted has always bothered me and I didn’t know where it fit. I think it fits here with today’s prompt. A good practice piece again to push boundaries, experiment.

From NaPoWriMo:

‘Finally, here’s our optional prompt! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem . . . in the form of a poetry prompt. If that sounds silly, well, maybe it is! But it’s not without precedent. The poet Mathias Svalina has been writing surrealist prompt-poems for quite a while, posting them to Instagram. You can find examples here, and here, and here.”

Beginning With Light

Beginning With Light…

Beginning With Light. Acrylic on watercolor paper. #lexleonardartist

Beginning with light,
without it there can be no life on 
top of this plain
where feet, toes curled
tickle dry brown 
interspeckled with tender green 
answering back, 
listening, and yet, too cool 
for bare arms, she accedes —— it is there
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

Back and forth, black wings
from nest to Source
and back again. Dark night
sustenance, a treacherous stillness
unwelcome — but 
a required embrasure 
a grace miscalculated
a path toward light 
That perches in the soul –

In her room a tiny brass box
with lid open spins — en pointe
balanced confidently
a mantram rhythm bound to Self
but free knowing
her purpose, 
her path,
And sings the tune without the words –

She reaches down 
fingers brush dry and green —
it is spring
and turns the wheel to the new 
from dark night, to the light,
the constant springs
And never stops – at all –


Author’s Note

From the kind folks at NaPoWriMo:

“And now for our (optional) prompt. This one is a bit complex, so I saved it for a Sunday. It’s a Spanish form called a “glosa” – literally a poem that glosses, or explains, or in some way responds to another poem. The idea is to take a quatrain from a poem that you like, and then write a four-stanza poem that explains or responds to each line of the quatrain, with each of the quatrain’s four lines in turn forming the last line of each stanza. Traditionally, each stanza has ten lines, but don’t feel obligated to hold yourself to that! Here’s a nice summary of the glosa form to help you get started.”

While I was still teaching, I always shared this video with my first graders during National Poetry Month. It is beauty and grace in words and action. They understood and it was magic watching them moving their arms and hands in concert with the girl even though no one knew her language. We watched it many times.


For The Sake of Mitigation


For The Sake of Mitigation

He said begin each day proclaiming, “Today is going to be a great day.” My knee protested. We walked to the open space, our refuge, the Bean and I. Labored. He was patient. He knows. They cleared away bushes, trees. “For the sake of mitigation.” To keep us safe from fire. Fire that burns from indifference, not from within that quickens marrow. I wonder about Fox who follows us weaving within the woods rose and willow. Raven registers displeasure, a loss of camouflage against Hawk. “I’m sorry,” my offering against sadness. Maybe tomorrow.