Today, we lighten the load and offer for kicks and giggles, the Limerick. The nonsensical feel of these ditties remain to touch a heart, a head or funny bone. You know the lay of the land: Five lines. First, second and fifth lines rhyme(A). Lines three and four are also linked (B). The scheme A,A,B,B,A. Let’s play. Get gaudy, bawdy, raucous, nauseous, cautious, rambunctious or thoughtful. Just give this awful rhyme some of your time. You may be surprised by the results!

Marie’s Limerick:


Sit down, let me tell you a story
about a young fellow named Lori.
His peers teased and taunted
but Lori, undaunted,
just made them a mean cacciatore.

Walt’s Limericks:

For my daughters:


There once was a girl named Melissa.
And ev’ryone ‘round her would kiss her.
On hand, or on cheek,
maybe once…twice a week.
And when they weren’t near her, they’d miss her.

A four-dimpled girl named Andrea Lea,
had two on her cheeks, and one on her knee.
When asked with suspicion,
the others position
she’d say, “That’s the one you WON’T see”.


We have paid our homage to love and family, thankful for both in our lives. Having celebrated Thanksgiving this week, we would like you to write about what you remain thankful . Gratitude when fully expressed brings comfort to all.

Marie’s thanks:

Grace and gratitude
Are facilitated by
My grave shortcomings.

Walt’s gratitude:

Those who share their hearts
and words expressive and loving,
you have endeared yourselves to me.
For this I give my love.


This week we have celebrated family. At the Holiday, family plays an important part. We enjoy the kinship and celebrate being together. But, it was those who could not celebrate with us that we held extra dear. Here are the BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS for this week:

Marie’s Bloom:

My “Bloom” this week goes to Jane Penland Hoover for The Penland Clan. This tender piece fills my senses, and touches me deeply. Just as Sharon Ingraham commented, I find it hard to articulate just how lovely I find it. Exquisite phrasing abounds: “Gathering sounds round the corner of yesteryears,” “songs swung low,” “the wealth of prayer and hope and watchfulness,” “raised to know their place in the family of being,” “watch over, maybe through us,” “their hearth our birthright passing on the challenge to reach out and gather in.”

I am particularly struck by “the children’s table … well within the reach of stories passing on,” which I cannot read without tears. Magnificent, Jane.

The Penland Clan

Gathering sounds round the corner of
yesteryears brought clear and dear just here.
So far from there and them and songs swung low
so near to there and them and songs resounding in the air
just now. I sit low in my chair, in that room, the children’s table
just to the left of theirs, well within the reach of stories passing on
within the wealth of prayer and hope and watchfulness, my eyes following
fascinated by their hands, the two of them blind throughout their years, fascinated
by smooth touch of cup, the way her finger found the heated edge,
the page, those raised dots read slow, their seven raised to know their place
in the family of being, in the strength of know from whence life comes
and now this grand bunch of us little ones coming on to find our space
in the midst of family rooted deep in mountain lore and so much more
Iola and James, sightless then, watch over, maybe through us every day ~
their hearth our birthright passing on the challenge to reach out and gather in.

By Jane Penland Hoover

Walt’s Beautiful Bloom Choice:

It’s a voice from up North that has drawn my attention. The haunting beauty and sense of memory meld well together to expound on the aspect of family we have celebrated in concentrated effort for this week’s prompt. This poet’s voice has spoken volumes in her work, as well as in her absence. It is VERY good to have her join us at POETIC BLOOMINGS to share her worded wonder and plant it in our ever-growing garden. My Beautiful Bloom this week goes to Sharon Ingraham for her piece:



It’s not been quite a year but some
Times it seems just yesterday
I learned that you were dead

And even though I’d long been
Dreaming you and the lake before
Your death I think I knew

The fact of it would not change
Your night-time visitations
Or dreaming the lake one bit

It surely did not but still I am
Taken by surprise if enough nights
Go by in dreamless peace

Then, like last night, a vivid
Unspooling of our lives:
I dream the lake and you

Alive again, so real that
even when asleep
The ache is so acute
My heart bleeds tears

That wet my pillow
And mats my lashes thick
Before I can force myself awake

The smell of old growth forest
And a lake newly ice-free
A pungent freshness unlike no other
Fills my barely conscious senses
The way it did every Spring

Our first time way up there
In that magical place – made
More so in retrospect I know now

Because it was where we were—
All of us — our family —
Our happiest selves

But most of all sweet one
It was your place of places, yes?
How was it I had to wait to dream it
To know the truth of your reality
I so wish I could somehow let you know …

S.E.Ingraham ©


Marilyn Braendeholm

Marilyn Braendeholm (aka “Miskmask,” or “Misk”) is yet another poet of extraordinary talent Walt and I chanced upon at the Writer’s Digest Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer. As you will discover, she is talented in several pursuits, and an all-around classy individual.
Misk, normally I thank our guest at the end of the interview. So as not to take away from your final statement, I will thank you in advance. This interaction with you has been an absolute joy. Walt and I feel blessed to count you among our regular contributors. Our sincere thanks to you for opening your heart to us.

Now, as is my custom, I asked our guest to share her poem-of-choice, and why she selected it. Marilyn’s poem and the story behind it will give you a glimpse into this poet’s heart, and immediately endear her to you.
MISK: This is my favourite poem. Tom is a reflection of my autistic cousin, who’s name isn’t Tom and she’s a woman a few years older than me. She’s happy, loving, and almost entirely nonverbal. I am quite certain that she lives in a special world of her own, one quite different than mine, but that doesn’t mean that mine is better than hers. All of my poems/stories about Tom’s Beach are dedicated to her.

TOM’S BEACH, Scène Fourteen: A View Inside Out

Tom’s mother knew the doctors wrong,
of this she had few doubts. Her
love for Tom was strong and sure.
He wasn’t broken, as they said.
He wasn’t fragile, as she feared.
He was her Tom, and every word
spoken she knew he heard.
Her Tom was a universe
on to himself.

He’s awoken by clattering
again. They’re spinning,
those two busy toys of his.

… And today is his birthday …

He calls one of the toys mum,
it looks like the letter B
set firmly upon skinny sticks.
The other one’s called Da, it’s
much bigger, fussing and fretting,
and Tom’s fixated, listening
to its deep screechy, thumpy sounds.

Noise noise, his head echoes
with mum and Da, and it
shakes him out of bed.

… Cake and ice cream for breakfast …

Tom stands detached, observing
shimmering shadows along
the edge of his hand. He often
brings his mum and Da toys stride
up short. He sees what he wants
to see, not more. He’s the spark
in his own universe. Tom is
that sparkling speck of dust

in the sunlight, and he dances
with moon beams on the wall
when the house is asleep.

… and lit birthday candles. He doesn’t like those …
Tom twirls through words that curl like
the waves in his hair. He closes
his eyes, mesmerised by sparkling
colours and numbers splashing like rain.
And he counts 1-2-3. Tom counts
colours. Number sums are for counters,
and he’s not a counter. He’s a boy,
and he spins like a planet

as his throat strums the sound
of his name: Tom-Tom-Tom
His name is the beat of a drum.

… He’d wished for a bucket of stones …

And his lungs bellow out the sound
of a trombone, as he hums
a staccato happy birthday song.
Tom casts his glance at the toy
he calls mum, and then he dashes
off arms linked with bright humming
colours and small running numbers,
a periwinkle and a whelk,

all of them chasing after waves
that kiss and hug the edge
of his beach – It’s Tom’s Beach.

… Adorned with smiley face stickers …

MARIE ELENA: Often, I begin interviews with a question about the name of the poet’s blog. The name of your blog is a moniker you have adopted: Miskmask. Now there MUST be a story behind this name, Misk. What’s the scoop?

MISK: About a year after my father died, I mentally slipped off the rails (so to speak). I can’t say if a specific thought or incident set it off, but I had a series of severe panic attacks that convinced me that I was losing my mind. I spiralled into a depression, and it took me about a year to find my footing again. I’d never experienced anything like it, and I hope not to ever again. It’s like feeling icy cold, and nothing can warm you up. I had a mental melt-down, a little wobble as I call it now. The word miskmask is Danish, and it means mixed-up into small bits and pieces, confusion, disjointed. Miskmask seemed a better nickname than Melt-Down. I didn’t want people thinking Chernobyl when they read one of my poems.

MARIE ELENA: I started calling you “Misk” shortly after we began interacting at Poetic Asides. An endearing nickname, I thought. Now that I know the root, it endears you to me all the more. What an amazing attitude you have. You brought strong emotions to the surface with your response.

And speaking of strong emotions surfacing, one of my favorite poems of yours catches in my throat as I read it:


She loved every first day
of school. New pencils
in a new pencil box.
A new dress with matching
coloured socks. On the first
day of school she felt
special, as good as all
the rest but she knew come
all the other days that she’d
disappoint — because
she was a very average girl
with a very average brain
with an entirely too fragile heart

MARIE ELENA: This is so touching, and perfectly written. Does this describe a young Marilyn Braendeholm?

MISK: I forgot about that one. Crumbs. It is good, isn’t it. A young Marilyn? No, that’s me inside out and forever and ever. I’m not well practiced in self-belief or confidence. When I discover that I can do something fairly well, I’m always knocked off my feet. There’s always that little voice whispering in the background suggesting that it’s a one-off, I just got lucky. I discovered recently that I’m bloomin’ good at baking bread, and every time I bake a perfectly risen and shaped loaf of sourdough I just blink and pinch myself.

MARIE ELENA: Glad you “raised” that topic. We’ll “knead” to get to that in a bit.  😉  But first …

Do you remember when you became interested in writing poetry? Was there a particular poet or style that first grabbed your attention?

MISK: I saw one of Robert’s Twitter links about the NovPAD challenge a year ago. I followed the link, just watching for a few days before jumping in and possibly being boo’ed off the premises. I was gobsmacked at the response. People who I thought were simply brilliant actually liked what I wrote, and I suddenly felt a real empathy for Sally Fields’s Academy Award reaction. Every time a fellow poet posted a comment to something I wrote, I just felt like I could do anything and succeed at it. I can’t tell you how important positive comments are to a poet, whether they’re new to the craft or not.

As for particular poets, I am a huge fan of De’s (De Jackson, @ ). I quietly sit in the background at her blog and marvel at her talent. I’m also a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. Okay, maybe not proper poetry but it’s fun and delightful and delicious. His books were the first that I read as a child. Now I read “Green Eggs and Ham” to my granddaughter using Skype. She knows it word-for-word, and we can get very animated with its telling. Anything that inspires so many generations to read through rhyme has a big thumbs up from me.

Regarding style and forms, I’m a vacuous space on that subject. I have dyscalculia with a bit of dyslexia, so understanding the numerical relevance of poetic forms is a flippin’ nightmare for me. Anything that exceeds the number of fingers on each hand results in a huge shrug, and then I’m off to try a different form. Mostly free-form; I like those. No numbers. I mean I have Stephen Fry’s “The Ode Less Travelled, Unlocking the Poet Within” and the Appendix is about Arnaut’s Algorithm, spiral stanzas, circular arrows and letters floating about on circles and words that I’ve never seen before opening his book. I adore Stephen Fry but I think I need a Dummy’s book.

Did I answer the question? I seem to be waffling on a bit.

MARIE ELENA: You answered perfectly. And anyone whose favorites are De Jackson and Dr. Seuss is a woman after my own heart.

I have to admit I had to look up dyscalculia. I’ve never heard of the term, but it might explain my sestina neurosis. 😉 I’ll leave that one to Master Walter Wojtanik.

Like many of us here at Poetic Bloomings, you often publicly respond to the prompts of Robert Lee Brewer at his Writers Digest Poetic Asides site. Is this where you first began to put your poetic voice out there?

MISK: Yes. Poetic Bloomings and Poetic Asides are my poetic homes.

MARIE ELENA: You have several active blogs, including your poetry blog (Miskmask’s Alphabet Soup de Jour). What drew you into the world of blogging?

MISK: Gosh. I don’t know. It was there so I did it. If I didn’t, I’d have to think of something else to do. Is this interview going as you’d hoped?

MARIE ELENA: You’re so cute! Rest assured, it’s ABSOLUTELY going as I’d hoped.

Obviously, Alphabet Soup de Jour is stuffed full of delectable verse and prose. However, it is not the only enticing blog out there. You also have a cooking site (Misk Cooks), at which you cover everything from “How to Boil an Egg,” to that fragrant sourdough you mention above, to “Creamy Pork Chops with Braised Apples.” Yummmmm! The photos alone are magnificent and make my mouth water. Do you take all your own photos? Please share with us the story behind your interest in cooking, and your decision to start a cooking blog.

MISK: Ah. Cooking is where I found my confidence. If I was 20 instead of 60, I’d train as a chef. My mother was the head baker at my high school, but at home she couldn’t cook her way out of a flour bag. She could only prepare food for 5,000 people at a time rather than 4. One year she was asked by family to bring homemade cinnamon rolls as her contribution to the Christmas meal. She baked 100 of them because she couldn’t reduce the recipe down far enough to feed 8 people. She didn’t teach me to cook because she always said that the kitchen was her territory, so I taught myself. I made sure that both of my boys could cook before they left home. Good thing, too. They’ve both partnered-up with women whose interests rest elsewhere.

I started Misk Cooks for my daughter-in-law who thought an egg required 30-minutes bouncing in a pan of boiling water before it was hard-boiled. I decided to put a few family favourite recipes in blog form for her reference, and it just grew from there. Then I was coaxed by a few Twitter friends into creating sourdough starters for bread, and lately I’ve had the kitchen fizzing with fermenting apples that turn from (hard) cider into apple cider vinegar. I have 4 litres of it now, and it’s surprisingly delicious.

Photos? I take my own. Another recent hobby. I have a little cheapo Panasonic digital camera that slips into my pocket without making too large a bulge against my hip.

MARIE ELENA: A multi-talented lady! Yet another blog focuses on gardening (Garden Diary) . This blog is every bit as professional and gorgeous as your food blog. Do you think of blogging as a fun hobby, or serious business? What are your future blogging plans?

MISK: Gosh, I’m beginning to feel like a slacker without ambition. I do it for fun, and if it inspires someone else to perfect a skill that meets one of our most basic human needs, growing things and eating, then hooray! Future? I just bought the domain name for miskcooks. Hah! I guess that makes it officially mine, as long as I pay the annual fee. You can now find me and my apron at

MARIE ELENA: Personally, I do not consider one who works hard to perfect and freely share talent a slacker. But how about a book? Have you considered publishing a book … perhaps a gardening book or cookbook?

MISK: Until you mentioned it just now, I’d not considered a cookery book. Hmm! I wonder …

MARIE ELENA: On a more personal side, I have commented on your adorable little granddaughter on facebook. I believe you have more than one grandchild, and that these were unexpected joys in your life. Just as Walt offered me the opportunity to be the bragging Nonna, I would love to hear your heartwarming story, if you would.

MISK: To make a very long story short, I went through several operations followed by IVF followed by multiple miscarriages before I realized that perhaps I’d never be a mother. Then we decided to adopt a baby from Korea. A month later the Korean orphanage offered us two brothers, ages 5 and 11. I just knew this was right. I felt it in my bones, and so we suddenly were a family of four. My eldest son moved to America after finishing high school in the UK, and went to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. He’s now married and has two children – Emma (nearly 4) and Ethan (2). They are my pride and joy, and whenever I see them I have to fight back tears of happiness because I know they’d not understand at their tender age what they both mean to me. They are a huge source of my happiness. My other son still lives in the UK. He teaches at an elementary school in town but lives in Brighton. We are very close, he is a delight and has a very kind heart. My two boys are without doubt a blessing, and they changed my life for the better in every way possible.

Emma and Ethan

MARIE ELENA: Such cuties, and a heartwarming story. Which brings me to another book idea, Misk: your life story.

Now, as has become my custom, I would like to end with this: If we could know only one thing about you, what would you want it to be?

MISK: I think this is probably one of the most difficult questions I’ve ever been asked. I don’t really know. Actually, perhaps I do: As I enter another decade of my life, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

“…of Heart and Hearth” – PROMPT # 30

This week we “Officially” enter the Holiday season, with Thanksgiving on Thursday, and the advent of Christmas, and Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. When this season comes around we are apt to surround ourselves with traditions that involve two aspects of human existence. Love and family. Last week, we asked you to write about love. And the response as expected, was incredible.

For today’s prompt, we ask you to write a “family” poem. But, we’re going to tug at your heartstrings a bit.

The family member from whom we want you to draw your inspiration is someone who would be missing from your celebration. Be it distance in miles or distance in lifetimes, we want you to delve deeply to bring that person back into the fold of heart and hearth.

And yes, if the task becomes too overwhelming, a “family” based poem will do. Bring the family together for the Holidays.

From Marie’s Heart:

“Freedom from Want”

Mr. Rockwell
Captured the ultimate
Family Thanksgiving.
Our family.

With you.

One year ago today
My cell rang.
I held my breath,
Fearing yours had ceased.

It had.

No longer free from want,
We achingly yearn
For your smile,
Your laugh,

Your presence.

Thanksgiving Day
Your beautiful daughters
Will light your funeral candle.
Our centerpiece,

Your light.

(For my cousin, sorely missed.)

From Walt’s Hearth:


I miss you.
You always made special days,
days of love and nurturing.
And this future without you
keeps me wishing I had
just one moment more.
A moment to thank you for those times
and tell you did fine teaching
that nurturing and love
was harder than you made it look.
I miss you. I wish you were here.

In loving memory of my Mom, Irene Marion Wojtanik who had left us 25 years ago.


Marie’s Beautiful Bloom for this week:

I wish every week could be love-prompt week. Can’t we do that, Walt? No? It would defeat the purpose? *sigh* Right you are.

We happened to overlap on a love prompt with Robert Lee Brewer, so I’ve been soaking in double love from some of you here. I’d “love” to offer a Beautiful Bloom for each and every love poem this week. Can’t we do that, Walt? No? It would defeat the point? *sigh* Right you are again. 😉

Let me just say that Walt and I have been feeling the love since creating Poetic Bloomings. All of your poetic voices fill our hearts richly, and we are thankful for each one of you.

So, after much reading and pondering, I chose Benjamin Thomas’s “Vowed Love.” Benjamin’s piece, like several of the poems this week, highlighted more than one type of love. His reminder of love’s commitment particularly spoke to me, from title to “tear.” Lovely, Benjamin.

VOWED LOVE (By Benjamin Thomas)

As I look and peer
into your eyes
noticing your poor
disheveled countenance
discerning the index of your eyes
as I often do
doubts arise
in genuine concern
for your beloved grandfather
who is alive but can
no longer walk and whose
health is now uncertain
sobs break forth
tears stream
in rapid succession
down each cheek
striking a painful cord
deep in my heart
bringing to remembrance that day
that sweet wedding day
I uttered those words
to cherish you always
and wipe away

Walt’s Beautiful Bloom:

The outpouring of love this week has been outstanding. I have been feeling the love, as Marie had alluded, and I feel the better person for knowing we have assembled a community of the finest poets I have had the pleasure to read and come to know. A bouquet of blooms goes to each one of our fine poets.

But Marie and I have agreed, we would pick a Bloom and honor that poet. And so this week’s prompt has wielded her mighty inspirations and brought this wonderful piece from an extraordinary artist and poet. Jane Penland Hoover is my choice.

Love Here by Jane Penland Hoover

Today is our forty-second anniversary
some years much longer than others
as time rolled us through, tumbled
us onto this now comfortable shore

Thick length of ills’ dark heaviness
necessity upon necessity, rumbling
ruffling each hint of calm blue flow
in the waters of those days

Remembering I feel myself slipping
wanting to kick away, play
in the thick grass
of my father’s once lush lawn

Where grass grew strong
despite the fact of his huge oak
spreading cool shelter in the melt-down
of Georgia’s summer sun

That red brick home, sweet corner
lives in my today’s almost
more vibrant, vivid than then
at ten than now

When I no longer spin and spin
to let the craziness of dizziness
drop me into that green sea
but instead I reach up, lean close

Remind myself how strokes, one
and then another, us taking turns
to breath have brought us home
to rest, side by side, love here.


This week, YOU pick the form. Write a poem using your favorite form. Try a form you’ve wanted to attempt. Take the challenge of writing a form that scares you (sestina). Either way, write your poem, giving the name of form and a brief description of it so others may be enticed to write. Have fun and explore.

Marie’s Form:

I chose the Nonet. I cheated, as this is one I wrote back in May of 2010.

Here are the Nonet rules:

A nonet has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables, the second line eight syllables, the third line seven syllables, etc., until line nine, which finishes with one syllable. It can be on any subject and rhyming is optional.


As the sun slips beneath the water,
Her afterglow lingers above –
Much to wooing moon’s delight.
And they bask in the glow
Those fleeting moments
They call their own,
As their hearts

Walt’s Form:

Created about twenty years ago by an Arkansas poet named Etheree Taylor Armstrong, this titled form, the Etheree, consists of ten lines of unmetered and unrhymed verse, the first line having one syllable, each succeeding line adding a syllable, with the total syllable count being fifty-five. I too cheated. An older poem.


A man
Standing guard.
Despite efforts
To be fair and firm,
Sometimes he folds under
The pressure. Bright hazel eyes
Flash their semaphore to signal
The next barrage to a father’s heart.
Daughters in tug of war for Dad’s favor.

“…and the greatest of these is Love.” – PROMPT # 29

This week we are taking a look at the basic human emotion. Love. The poets of the ages have made much of their muses in this regard. For this prompt, we want you to write a “love” poem. Love whatever or whoever you want, but bring your passion to life here.

Marie’s Words:

(For my husband: living proof that a “step” grandfather loves no less)

At the sight of him,
The blue eyes of her 24-pound frame light up,
She flashes a two-toothed smile,
Lifts pudgy little hands toward the ceiling,
And clearly says, “Poppa.”

At the sight of her,
The blue eyes of his 220-pound frame soften,
He beams from tip to toe,
Extends muscular arms to scoop her up,
And tenderly says, “There’s my pumpkin.”

At the sight of these exchanges,
My own eyes regularly mist,
My already full heart floods
With more love than it can contain. Love
For her, for him, and for the God of second chances.

Walt’s emotion:

I see you in the morning mist, a vision;
my tired eyes welcome it. And your gown flows
in a gentle cascade, my only mission
is to take you up into my arms and show
you all that my love can teach you; a lesson
your mind will learn, but your heart already knows.
In close silhouette, your beauty is revealed.
My longing for you cannot be concealed.


Thanks once again to all of you who take the time to read, encourage, and create here at Poetic Bloomings.

Marie’s Feature

This week, I had a hard time deciding between a complex piece, and one that is simple, yet spoke to me immediately.  I decided to feature Mike Maher’s “Sometimes in Distant Parts.”  This is a fabulous example of a highly intricate, layered script that is filled with analogy and perception. I had to read it several times to appreciate it, quite honestly.  But that is part of the intrigue. When we dig to find a piece is dense with jewels, it is well worth the dig. Bravo, Mike!

Sometimes in Distant Parts
(Mike Maher)

I’d like to contact the previous renter of this apartment
not to complain about the paint splatters
left in the kitchen sink or on the closet doors,
but to ask for more
and to ask where she found the time
and if she left any of it behind.
It’s not yet 11:00 and by the time
I’m done looking for time
it’s December
and the greyness is already thick.
I keep forgetting to stop and remember
that I am not the Conqueror Worm.
How did we get this far into the years
without understanding more about the human brain,
only able to estimate its amount of neurons within 15 billion neurons
and that starfish do not have them?
One article begins with
“It is located in the head, usually”
and although my brain knows very little
about other brains, surely we should have gotten further by now.
To the man pushing the cart,
why won’t you help Icarus?
I didn’t realize the Walrus was a villain
says Lennon,
but by then it was too late.

Walt’s DEcision:

A poets (all poets) find a time where muse doesn’t matter anymore. Or has just stagnated to indifference. Sometimes we need a break to step away and re-evaluate the situation, sometimes we look elsewhere for a solution. My choice for Beautiful Bloom this week expresses that simply but pointedly. De Jackson takes stock in that regard with her poem, AUDIT.

AUDIT by De Miller Jackson

Don’t wanna be a poet no more.
Don’t wanna be a writer no more.
Don’t wanna do this drama no more.
Don’t wanna be a mamma no more.

Don’t wanna run in circles no more.
Don’t wanna pen for pittance no more.
Don’t wanna pay my dues no more.
Don’t wanna sing these blues no more.

No more.
No more.
No more taxation
…without proper libation.

Congratulations to Mike Maher and De Miller Jackson



Walt’s and my mission for Poetic Bloomings is to “propagate poetry and the poets who pose it.”   To that end, our Web Wednesday interviews feature veterans, novices, and everything between.   This week, we are excited to feature Sara McNulty.  Both of us have enjoyed her work since our arrival on Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides scene.  For Walt and me, that was April of 2009.  Sara was there ahead of us, having participated in the P.A. 2008 November Chapbook Challenge. 

Sara’s work has been published in Underground Voices, Flashquake, Still Crazy, and Poet’s Espresso (among others).  “Wrapped in Fog,” below, is one of her personal favorites. 

Wrapped in Fog

If a fog unfurled

across the ocean

blotting out sky,

leaving pinpricks

of meringue-topped

waves to view

as I stood, toes spread

in twilight sands,

I would be home.

Beautiful start to our interview.  Welcome, Sara!

I am honored to be chosen by two excellent poets, whose work I have admired for several years, M and W, the same upside down as right side up.

“The same upside down as right side up.”  Love it!  🙂

So, you recently became a blogger!  The title, “purplepeninportland” is intriguing.  Tell us how you came up with that.

Purple is my favorite color, with red running a close second.  During my too-long years of office work, I discovered that I could order lavender pads and purple pens.  I was off and running after that.

There are probably as many different reasons for blogging as there are bloggers.  What made you decide to create a poetry blog?

My intention to keep my life private did not seem to mesh with having a blog.  However, reading articles on the benefits of getting your work circulated, combined with the fact that I could have control, changed my mind.  I’m still trying to figure out all the techie terms involved in using a blog, but I’m coming along.

Your opening poem on “purplepen” is an Ovillejo.  Is there a reason you chose to kick off your blog with that particular form?

The Ovillejo had just come to my attention by way of a Poetic Asides member.  I found the form intriguing, but difficult.  Something different is always worth exploring, but I do not relish the thought of creating another.

You have stated that the Shadorma is your favorite.  What is it that draws you to this form?

I love the Shadorma!  It disciplines you to be concise, while having the attributes of a jigsaw puzzle.

And speaking of forms, one of my favorite poems of yours came on Day 12 of the 2011 P.A. April Poem-a-Day Challenge.  The prompt was to write a form poem, and/or an anti-form poem.  This is your anti-form response.

Oh the horror

of coloring

inside the lines

of sitting clenched

in your seat

until the bell rings

of choosing

one book to read

out of ten.

Do not put me in a cage

I’m not a lion filled with rage.

Do not tell me how to dress

I night wear more; I might wear less,

and when it comes to iambs,

iamb not interested.

Does this piece speak to who you are as a person?  Or is it simply a creative piece from a poet’s mind?

This piece absolutely speaks to who I am as a person.  I like feeling free and not fitting on a line under someone else’s column.

So, what does a typical no-lines day in the life of Sara McNulty look like?

The first thing I do is fill a large mug with black coffee.  I curl up on the couch and read various poets for a time.   If there are no daily challenges going on, I write for an hour or more.  Some mornings I do Yoga, others, free weights.

My husband and I take the dogs for a walk – well, let’s say they take us along for amusement and tugging practice.  On any given day, we might drive into downtown Portland or explore new places we have discovered since moving to Oregon.  We both do crosswords, and we are avid readers (particularly murder mysteries).  I love cooking and baking, and we bowl once a week.

Last September I took a drawing class, and to my shock, discovered that it is true-anyone can learn to draw.  I love it and find it relaxing, so I try to set aside some time each day to pursue it.  I started out by doing all the Alice-in-Wonderland characters, culminating in the Tea Party (no, not that one).

At night I catch up with writing magazines, contests, blogs, submissions, and usually work on revisions.  I am fortunate to have a husband who has always been able to make me laugh, and has given me space to do whatever I wanted.  When an opportunity arose after quitting my last office job in breakdown mode, rather than seek new employment, he suggested that I take time off to write.  That was five years ago.  I never went back to an office.

Your lifestyle sounds right up my alley.  It helps to have a wonderfully supportive spouse.  What a blessing!

I know you have at least one loved one whose daily routine was tragically pilfered on 9/11.  The following beautifully written, gripping poem was born of this heartbreak.

The World Without Your Smile (a Terza Rima)

The world gathered all its colors in your smile

like rich fabrics of satin, velvet, and silk,

like each hybrid flower amassed in a pile.

Oh how your charm and vibrancy did beguile,

melting my heart like a sweet cream candy.

Your twinkling brown eyes said you knew all the while.

The touch of your skin scorched my gut like brandy.

We lived life to the fullest within that room,

never needing the safety of a Plan B.

On a sunny morn, came the sound of a Boom!

Midst the flames and ash, your life ended too soon.

If it isn’t too difficult for you, would you please tell us how this shattering event shaped your life and poetry?

I live in the shadow of those towers, but ultimately the tragedy forced me to consciously live life in the present.  I enrolled in writing classes at NYU, followed by small writing groups with the teachers.  I had not found my niche in poetry yet, and was writing short stories.  Finally I felt confident enough to put work out there for discussion.

Good for you, Sara.  I’m glad you found constructive ways to cope, and positive people to encourage you.  And along those lines, is there anyone in your life (teacher, parent, friend, neighbor, author, child) who initially inspired you to write?

My fourth grade teacher was a lovely, encouraging woman.  Oddly enough, my first English assignment was to write a poem.  Some of the students, myself included, were chosen to read their poems in front of the fifth and sixth grade assemblies.  My knees knocked together for the whole minute I was up there.

Unfortunately, I was plagued with emotional problems from the age of thirteen. I am thankful for the doctor who eventually found a combination of medications that helped me to balance.  I did not write seriously again until turning forty.

As a writing goal, you state on your site that you “hope to touch a nerve.”   What type of poetry touches a nerve in you, Sara?

Maya Angelou, Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and many others touch me deeply with their sense of everyday beauty, horror, laughter, and melancholy.

If we could know only one thing about you, what would you want us to know?

My sense of humor and sarcasm has never failed me.

Fabulous!  Thank you again for your willingness to share yourself with us.