OctPoWriMo Day 22: Platitudes and Trust (and a Big Stretch)

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Hello, and welcome to OctPoWriMo, Day Twenty-Two!

What’s OctPoWriMo, you ask? Well, it’s a whole month of poetic creation – 31 poems in 31 days. It’s the creative baby of Morgan Dragonwillow and Julie Jordan Scott.

This year, I intend to follow all the prompts, and get the joy of discovery…

I hope you’ll stop by, settle in, and find a little bit of magic here!

Today’s prompt was especially challenging for me – to film myself reading one of my own poems.

Under the best of circumstances, I don’t enjoy having my picture taken, much less being recorded. It’s something I’ve striven to overcome, but it still sets the not-good-enough meter pinging up toward its top end…

But that’s the nature of a real challenge, right? To offer us an opportunity to stretch, to reach, to leave our comfort zone and peek out at the world around us…?

So, I asked my ten year old if she would like to do the honor of taping me – she’s got a passion for movie-making.

I thought this result is a little dark, but she says that it fits the mood of the piece, and I’m going to respect her artistic vision, as well as my own.

I’ll share the video at the end of the post; first, I want to get on with the new stuff…

There’s a list of prompts for those not wanting to share a recording, and, since I’d already planned to write a poem every day this month, I went ahead and selected a few of the words from the list to write a quick little bit of philosophy…

Platitudes and Truth

I can do anything I set my mind to…

Strong words, but not true, not really.

No matter how valiant my effort

Despite my desperate motivation

I can’t love my baby boy back to life

Or prevent my own eventual death.

When I think of…

The way we use words as platitudes

And pretend that they are truths

I think we cheat ourselves

Sell away our deeper power

For a moment of feeling encouraged.

I feel…

There are things we can’t prevent

Things we can’t make happen

Like love and life and death

The audacious spontaneous immutable

Facts that define all existence.

And now, on to today’s poetic comfort zone stretching…

And the transcript for this Day One poem:


I curl into

the comforting warmth

of my blankets

like a butterfly

in my cocoon.

Sleep is





transformation -

Images, tastes, textures,

memories, emotions

sights, sounds, scents -

Create the silken shelter

from which I emerge

changed and changing

and soar into

the new day.

Come read and watch other poets!

OctPoWriMo Day 16: Once Upon a Wednesday, Right Here

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Hello, and welcome to OctPoWriMo, Day Sixteen!

What’s OctPoWriMo, you ask? Well, it’s a whole month of poetic creation – 31 poems in 31 days. It’s the creative baby of Morgan Dragonwillow and Julie Jordan Scott.

This year, I intend to follow all the prompts, and get the joy of discovery…

I hope you’ll stop by, settle in, and find a little bit of magic here!

Today’s prompt was to write a poem that uses the phrase, “Once Upon a Time…” It could end in the traditional “And they lived happily ever after.”

I thought about fairy tales, and magic, and those old stories we share and adapt and fuel our fantasies with…

And then I thought of the magic of everyday life, right here, right now, right where I am.

I decided to adapt the theme, a bit – by finding the once upon a time and the happily ever after in a regular Wednesday in our lives…Right Here.

I also played with another new poetic form, the Kyrielle.

Shadow Poetry had this to say:

A Kyrielle is a French form of rhyming poetry written in quatrains (a stanza consisting of 4 lines), and each quatrain contains a repeating line or phrase as a refrain (usually appearing as the last line of each stanza). Each line within the poem consists of only eight syllables. There is no limit to the amount of stanzas a Kyrielle may have, but three is considered the accepted minimum.

Some popular rhyming schemes for a Kyrielle are: aabB, ccbB, ddbB, with B being the repeated line, or abaB, cbcB, dbdB.

Mixing up the rhyme scheme is possible for an unusual pattern of: axaZ, bxbZ, cxcZ, dxdZ, etc. with Z being the repeated line.

The rhyme pattern is completely up to the poet.

Once Upon a Time, Right Here! Photo credit: Annalise S. Burton

Once Upon a Wednesday, Right Here

Dark magic and Norse runes in the morning

Shouts of “Hey, the mail’s here!”

Remote control helicopter prop turning

Once Upon a Wednesday, Right Here

“I’m a hobo who lives inside my shirt.”

Her grin contagious, her bright eyes clear

A force of nature in a flowered skirt

Once Upon a Wednesday, Right Here

Skype calls with best friends far away

Precious time with ones so dear

Love and learning flow through our day

One upon a Wednesday, Right Here

Duct tape purses and paper scraps

Moments of sorrow, lingering tear

Guinea pig and snuggling naps

Once Upon a Wednesday, Right Here

Squeals of glee wrapped in laughter

Loveliness of chaos far and near

Our own kind of Happily Ever After

Once Upon a Wednesday, Right Here

Once Upon a Time, for OctPoWriMo….


OctPoWriMo Day 14: One Wild and Precious Life


Hello, and welcome to OctPoWriMo, Day Fourteen!

What’s OctPoWriMo, you ask? Well, it’s a whole month of poetic creation – 31 poems in 31 days. It’s the creative baby of Morgan Dragonwillow and Julie Jordan Scott.

This year, I intend to follow all the prompts, and get the joy of discovery…

I hope you’ll stop by, settle in, and find a little bit of magic here!

Today’s prompt was to write a poem based on a quote from another poem. There were ten choices, but it was the first that instantly sparked an idea – an idea then fed by my ten year old daughter, although she didn’t intend to help create my poem.

At 3:30am, she brought me the note below (when kids don’t go to school, they tend to sleep when tired and wake when rested). In case it’s hard to read her developing writing, she was asking me to take a light-night walk with her on our quiet country road.

I went. We took the dog, walking and chatting in the dark, soaking up mid-autumn air, peace, and connection. Then she and her brother went with the dog, and then her brother, thirteen, went alone.

We might live a very different life. I did, as a child – I was at the tempestuous mercy of the adults in my life – 3:30am walks just because were not part of that life. Ever.

So, here’s my quote:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver

Here’s, the note Annalise wrote, which is a precious treasure to me, and which inspired today’s poem:


One Wild and Precious Life

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

Well, I really do not have a plan –

Or, if I do

It’s the plan to simply live

To open myself wide to

This breath

And the next

And the next

And the one after that.

To open my soul to

My beloveds

This breath

And the next

And the next

And the one after that.

To be just where I am

This breath

And the next

And the next

And the one after that.

To free my voice

To laughter

In this breath

And the next

And the next

And the one after that

To be a peaceful spirit

In this world

In this breath

And the next

And the next

And the one after that.

To seek needed healing

And regain my strength

In this breath

And the next

And the next

And the one after that.

To learn and grow and be

Wholly alive

In this breath

And the next

And the next

And the one after that.

To embrace wonder and joy

Resonate with them

In this breath

And the next

And the next

And the one after that.

To be, simply, purely be

Just who I am

In this breath

And the next

And the next

And the one after that.

Is it a plan?

Yes, maybe so.

It is my plan for

What to do

With my one

-only one! -

Wild and



Want more Poetic Inspiration?

Coffee and Conversation: Our First Monday Walk with Jo!

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while. It’s time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own..

Have you taken any interesting walks lately?

Recently, I was introduced to a delightful blog feature, Jo’s Monday Walk, over at Restless Jo. The premise is simple; Jo began sharing her walks in words and images, people enjoyed them, and, gradually, the idea was born to turn this into a weekly feature where anyone can share any walk they’ve made.

Because we’re an unschooling family, I’m most often with my children, and so most of my walks include them. They also inspire me to visit places I might be less likely to visit, alone, or just with my Accomplice in Mischief…

Last Friday, we decided to go apple-picking, to see some leaves, collect some treasures, and breathe the fresh early autumn air before it shifts. I’ve already posted and shared some images here; Finding Sweetness; At the Apple Orchard.

I took a lot of pictures, and I want to share as many as I can – so, I’m going to pick up this walk where I left off in previous posts, and carry on from there…

Come join us in the orchards of Saratoga Apple in lovely Schuylerville, NY – won’t you?

This first grouping is of the orchard itself…simple, ripe, fertile, and freely offering its treasures (well, once we paid for the privilege of entering, that is!)

And, of course, the children offered many chances to capture them in the moment – when they were engaged with something else. It’s interesting to look at the pictures, now- because I see the littler kids they used to be, and the adults they are becoming, both held within the people they are, right now. That’s a harvest that doesn’t have anything to do with apples, but which is even more precious, to me.

Once we had filled our bags, we took a break, and, naturally, I took more pictures. Here’s two of my previously unshared favorites.

Rested and refreshed by water and fresh-picked apples, we made our wandering way back to the farm stand beneath a sinking sun and a rising half moon. There was time to rest, to take in the scenery, and to play on a pile of wood chips…

Scenes from the exterior of Saratoga Apple – it’s definitely harvest season, here, in all its beauty and splendor. I could have taken hundreds of pictures here – but I had just a touch of self-restraint…

We were a little too busy, once we went inside, to take many pictures- there were cider donuts, fruits, vegetables, and chips to be procured for us all, and a woven African basket for me (something I’ve wanted for years, and plan to use again and again and again and…but this display was simply to good not to share!

Once my basket was stuffed, and taste buds reveling in those apple cider donuts, we went back outside. Behind every image of beauty is a framework that supports it, and so it is here. That’s certainly a lot of crates – and that was only one of many stacks!

So, there you have it – my very first Jo’s Monday Walk! I hope you enjoyed coming along with us – we’re not orderly or particularly quiet, but we are definitely prone to playfulness and sudden outbursts of heartfelt laughter.

Do you enjoy walking, hiking, or backpacking? Do you have any precious memories of past walks, or images to share? Like to travel through your screen of choice? Drop me a comment in the box below, and feel free to check out other walks, too!

OctPoWriMo Day 6: Perfection kills possibility

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Hello, and welcome to OctPoWriMo, Day Six!

What’s OctPoWriMo, you ask? Well, it’s a whole month of poetic creation – 31 poems in 31 days. It’s the creative baby of Morgan Dragonwillow and Julie Jordan Scott.

This year, I intend to follow all the prompts, and get the joy of discovery…

I hope you’ll stop by, settle in, and find a little bit of magic here!

Today’s suggested poetry form is Naani, and the word prompt list is:

  • perfect

  • perfection

  • perfectionism

  • imperfection

  • imperfect

This is another poem that came to me more or less whole. I believe it’s exactly 25 syllables, revised, which puts it at the upper limit for its form – although, if it had gone over, that would have been a poetic bit of imperfection, too!

Writing very short poems might seem simple – but, like in flash fiction, fewer words to play with means that each must do its job and earn its place…a very different challenge than writing an epic poem would be, and definitely a mental exercise for someone as verbose as I am!

Perfection kills possibility

Perfection kills possibility

disallows the lovely chaos

of perfectly

imperfect life

Need Mo OctPoWriMo?


Imperfectly perfect selfie – the eyes have it! Photo credit; Annalise S. Burton

SoCS : Finding Sweetness

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This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday meme.

The idea is simple – post an unedited stream of consciousness piece that ties into the weekly prompt – this week’s is to write a post with “find” in the text or as the theme.

I’m not going to say a lot to introduce this piece; it and the images do the job more than well enough.

It’s fall here in upstate New York, and the crispness of the air, the mown down cornfields, the smell of woodfires, occasionally gunshots from the hunters, the sudden whining insistence of chain saws, endless election ads – nearly all of them negative and leaning toward unpleasantness -, the carunking of the Canada geese as they fly by on their way south…all say winter is on its way.

Oh, and apples!

Yes, I said apples.

I know that Washington State is the place most people think about when they think about apples, but we here in New York have plenty of apples, and an abundance of orchards to choose from. When the kids were little, we went every year, but, as the kids got a little older, somehow, we stopped finding the time for this particular adventure.

But this year, it turned cool early, and the kids and I decided we’d go. On Thursday, I heard a weather report that said we’d get rain on Saturday, and it would be hard enough and windy enough to knock the leaves from the branches –

And we hadn’t gotten out to apple-pick yet, or taken any drives out to just peep at the leaves – now, I understand that if you’re from certain parts of the world, that might not make a lot of sense, but it’s a big enough thing here that Amtrak has added dome observation cars to its route into the Adirondacks, to facilitate people’s peeping experiences.

Saratoga Apples, Schuylerville, NY

So we decided that we’d go to an apple orchard on Friday, and enjoy the beautiful early fall weather, some exercise out in nature, and treasure-hunting to find the perfect treats – apples!

Annalise wasn’t sure she wanted to go – she’s like that, sometimes, with things she’s not used to. I told her she was free to stay home; she’s old enough now to stay home alone, if we’re not too far away. But she decided to come, and, after we’d looked around a bit in the farm stand, scoping out the veggies and fruits and apple cider donuts, we bounced out into the sunshine, beneath a still-pale half moon hanging low over us, adding a bit of magic. We ambled and walked through the rows, each with our own bag, in which to place our own treasures. We laughed and I took pictures, and we picked apples, wandering here and there through the rows of trees – each offering its own unique bounty.

There were maps available, but we didn’t take one. Instead, we just let inspiration and the prevailing opinion guide us, picked apples without knowing their names, and happily filled our bags with our found treasures before making our slow way back, burdened with our delicious loads, stopping to rest when we needed to, and for Annalise to climb a pile of woodchips with a built in valley, so that she could jump from side to side while I tried to capture the moment of flight.

We finished in the farm stand, where I treated myself to an African woven basket with handles- I’ve wanted one for a decade or more, and it was wonderful to find one I loved while I had money enough to pay for it. We bought donuts and cider, brussels sprouts on the stalk, carrots and a huge red pepper, plums and Concord grapes and blueberries and honey straws and dried cranberries and chips and a big chunk of dark Belgian chocolate…I took more pictures, and Annalise did, too…

And then we went home, along the country roads with their blaze of color in the fading sun and brightening moon, my basket and our bags, filled with our found treasures, riding with us in our Subaru wagon. I stopped down the road, at my parents’ home, so that the kids could bring them each a donut and an apple.

But those aren’t all we found on our short adventure. We found something far more precious, far more rare. Something that becomes a larger treasure as the days pass, as my children grow up.

We found time. Time to be with each other, to enjoy and laugh and chat and explore and celebrate.

The apples will be sweet – but the time is the truest delight of this beautiful autumn afternoon. It will glow within us while the rain comes down, and we’ll be snug within it.

What have you found lately? Was it tangible, like apples, or more like the laughter, the sunshine, the moments of just being that warm your soul?

Enjoy stream-of consciousness writing? Anyone can play, so long as they are willing to follow a few simple rules. See you next week, for another live-streaming look into the lovely chaos in my mind! =)

Join in or read more SoCS posts here!

Second-Serving Sunday: #NotBacktoSchool Edition!


A weekly peek backwards and a look ahead, in my little corner of the blogosphere

What do I mean by #notbacktoschool? Well, it’s only a coinflip away from #backtoschool – and a universe apart.

Neither of our kids have ever gone to school. We began as eclectic homeschoolers (a lot of the “curriculum” I used with our son came from other homeschoolers, garage sales, and imagination), then shifted into the relaxed category, then became so relaxed, we were radically unschooling by the time our son turned eight. He’ll be thirteen in a couple of days, and we’ve never looked back.

So no back to school lists, chores, or schedule changes for us. Just life as we know it, flowing on. Birthday plans. Work plans. A trip to New York City for me, to expand my own horizons. Working out and swimming, and making connections with friends. Learning, living, laughing, and loving as we go.

Today’s pictures come from another #notbacktoschool week, when our youngest was officially “kindergarten-eligible” (now, she’s 10!). I think they capture the flavor of our lives very well!

Annalise’s Zen-style volcano.


And speaking of life…what have I been up to?

Recently at shanjeniah:

Second-Serving Sunday for August 24: Big Stretch Edition!

A week of romance as my Accomplice and I celebrated 17 years of marriage, I dis some odd things I wasn’t expecting, and new perspectives were formed. I wrote my inaugural post for Rose B. Fischer‘s Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Trip and T’Pol got all tangled up in each other, and drafting and revising took a step back for a few days. David Vienna urged parents to CFTD; Kerry took us to the museum to share Shakespeare’s First Folio; and there was this blogfest announcement:



This week’s fun:

Coffee and Conversation:

WIPpet Wednesday:

SoCS (Stream of Consciousness Saturday):

  • Thirteen Years: This week’s SoCS prompt was “Age”. Apropos as our oldest becomes a teen this week. Here, I contemplate the threshold between childhood and adulthood, choice and control, and what these have to do with maturity.

ROW80 Updates:

Learning about “monies” in a lobster hat, cause that’s how we rolled back then!

What’s Coming Up?:

My writing focus for September is on:

Siblings in communion with the TV, and each other.


This week’s blogging:

Annalise discovers that light is made of colors!

In the Wilds of Internet-Land:

Learning is fun, and makes this girl grin!

Life Stuff:

  • I reflected on the past, looked forward to next week, and spent a busy week in the middle.
  • I took Jeremiah out for a workout and lunch on Tuesday, and we set up his weight room orientation. On Friday, both kids and I went for a swim, and to do some provisioning.
  • I bought my ticket for the NYC World Sexual Health Day event, and began making the travel details with my companion for the day!
  • Magnet Mountain was reduced to barious sorted piles of rubble…uh, magnets.
  • Jeremiah’s testing was completed and submitted for scoring; Annalise’s end-of-year report was submitted to the school district, and I moved forward with fourth quarter resporting and IHIP for Lise.
  • All in all, a week with some busyness, and some calm, in a pleasing blend.

What was your favorite part of your week? Did things go according to plan, or were there surprises along the way?

“I’m riding a horse on the army!”