A quick reminder before we get to our Beautiful Blooms:  Poetic Bloomings – the second year book materials are due TODAY.  Please see for important, updated details.  Thank you.



In light of my own experiences with borderline-insane automated help lines, Andrew Krieder‘s opening line had my expectations for self-affirming entertainment sky high.  Well, he did not disappoint.  This piece prompted a belly laugh from me on first and second read.  They say laughter is good medicine so, read and be well!

UNTITLED by Andrew Krieder

Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed

Welcome to the automated help line
Para continuar en espanol oprima numero dos
For billing press one, for technical assistance press three
for any other questions press four, thank you.

for faster assistance please enter your
ten digit telephone number
beginning with the area code.
thank you.

Now also your dress size, number of pets,
the combined IQ of your children,
and your gross adjusted income
from line 37 of last year’s 1040

If a train leaves Buffalo at nine a.m. traveling
west at an average speed of sixty miles per hour,
and a car leaves Boise heading east at the same
speed, at what point will they cross paths?

thank you. Please stand on one leg
and gargle with salt water. Sing me
some show tunes. Now balance a
phone book on your chin. thank you.

If you were to die tonight are you certain
of where your soul would go? I’m sorry,
I don’t understand that response, Please
try again. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry. Our system is currently experiencing
particularly high traffic volume right now.
Please try again later, or for faster service
go to our website. Thank you. Goodbye.


As was the case last week, selecting a “bloom” from all the submissions was torture. In fact, it was close to the Chinese water variety. Once again, so many were so good, and I was sorely tempted to select two. The trouble with that idea was, there were two others I thought just as good, and then, still two more….

I selected Characters by Paula Wanken, because it packed so much into so little. I sometimes am baffled at how she did it, but she did:  a whole life collapsed eight words. The play of “prose and cons” was delicious, and the last word opens the reader up to a myriad of possibilities. Although I admit to feeling a bit like a piker for picking a bitty piku, I thought this was a superb example of one, abloom with excellence.

CHARACTERS by Paula Wanken

My life is
of prose…and cons.



Okeedokee – I guess it’s time to choose my ‘Bloom’ for In-form Poet this week. Once again, it was really, really tough. After a lot of back-n-forthing, I decided to go with Jane Shlensky’s Wordless.  I think she nailed the form, for one thing (or to use William’s word, apotheosis) and also, I loved the ceramics/clay imagery. The storytelling and switching perspectives worked for this poem too. Combined with the epigraph which inspired the words, this was my winner for the week.

However, you should know that there were a couple of others which really spoke to me too. Boy is this ever hard!

Wordless by Jane Shlensky

“Sometimes there are things that don’t have words.” Karen Karnes, master potter

He sculpted always looking in the clay
for something living scratching its way out,
some spirit trapped in earth, with lots to say
His hands would free its voice and let it shout.
She watched him
mumbling at work
with chatty clay
or sullen stone.
Her pots spun outward opening their lips,
revealing silent smiles and muted tones,
her pots in quiet dignity stood still.
He sculpted always looking in the clay.

Congratulations to Andrew, Paula, and Jane!




Please e-mail your materials to  Thank you!

In addition, if you are on our 10% list (submitted at least 5 poems during our second “growing season” [May 1, 2012 – April 30, 2013]), and wish to be included in our second publication, please be sure to see the guidelines below.  We want to include you as well!


Poetic Bloomings is readying for our second publication, “POETIC BLOOMINGS – the second year.”   This is, in part, a collection of the BEAUTIFUL BLOOM poems from the second year of the Sunday prompts, along with your host’s efforts. We ask all who have been selected for a BLOOM during our second “growing season”  (May 1, 2012 – April 30, 2013) to revisit the awarded poem(s), and revise as you see fit. We are relying on you to self-edit your work. Please email the corrected pieces with your bio (see below) to by  AUGUST 31. If we do not receive an updated version of your poetry, we will assume it is to your liking as posted on our site. 


As stated above, we intend to include all poems that received a “Beautiful Bloom.”

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!  ;)   Here at POETIC BLOOMINGS, we have always taken pride in opening the gates of this “garden” to poets of all ages and skill levels. In the spirit of inclusiveness, we invite poets who replied to at least 10% of the Sunday prompts to contribute to this publication with poems written for the POETIC BLOOMINGS prompts. The math is easy.  You must have contributed poems to at least five of the Sunday prompts between May 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013 to be in the Ten Percent category.  If you believe you fall into this category,  please send us an e-mail right away to This will help us tremendously in the process of planning our book.

We ask that you update your contact information for correspondence, and request that poets who post under a blog screen name supply your full name with your info.


Receipt of your bio will be accepted as permission to include your “Beautiful Bloom(s)” or “ten-percenter” poem that you submit to us for inclusion.  If you submitted a photo to us that was used as a photo prompt, your bio will be accepted as permission to include that as well.

BIO (required)

A brief biography (third person, no more than 6 lines, including your url) will be required for all featured poets in this book.  Again, this should be sent to


Nonexclusive rights: Your poem(s) will be used only for “POETIC BLOOMINGS – the second year” (not for promotion or other publications), for as long as the collection is in print. As the author, you will have immediate rights to use your included poems in any way you wish.  The same applies to your photo(s).

For those interested, POETIC BLOOMINGS – the first year is available for purchase on Amazon:

Click on book to see more.


dorsimbra pic(Photo found at Vanished Americana)

Mary Margaret Carlisle’ Sol Magazine  is a terrific source for poetic forms.

For this week’s poetic form, In-form Poet is attempting to make rhymers and non-rhymers alike happy.  Will we succeed?  You’ll have to tell us.  But how?  Why?  Because we will be writing the Dorsimbra.

So, what is a Dorsimbra?

According to Sol Magazine:

The Dorsimbra, a poetry form created by Eve Braden, Frieda Dorris and Robert Simonton, is a set form of three stanzas of four lines each.  Since the Dorsimbra requires three different sorts of form writing, enjambment can help to achieve fluidity between stanzas, while internal rhymes and near-rhymes can help tie the stanzas together.

Stanza One:  Four lines of Shakespearean sonnet (iambic pentameter [daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM] rhymed abab).
Stanza Two:  Four lines of short and snappy free verse.
Stanza Three:  Four lines of iambic pentameter blank verse (un-rhymed verse), where the last line repeats the first line of Stanza One.

Here’s my attempt (and yes, you are quite right for noting that I love to use epigraphs.  You can do so too, but don’t feel as if you have to.): 


“There are no rules of architecture for castles in the sky.” ~Gilbert K. Chesterton

I watch the wisps of clouds, like dreams, drift by.
I wonder what it would be like to live
amidst cumulus turrets.  And then I
remember that clouds are more like a sieve
when it comes
to things like moats.
I could get soaked
if I forgot my umbrella.
Right now, it doesn’t look like it will rain,
but castles in the sky are changeable.
Imagination is my umbrella.
I watch the wisps of clouds, like dreams, drift by.

© copyright RJ Clarken – 2013


Ready, set…start poeming! ~RJ


Carry On.

“I read poetry to save time.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

If time stood still, would I continue on?
Would forward movement cease then to exist?
Could sun and moon be viewed from dusk to dawn,
And deadlines not be met, yet not be missed?

We all kill time
All the time
All the time
Marches on.

I have so many questions in my heart,
My mind cannot begin to comprehend.
As minutes tick, I steal away to think:
If time stood still, would I continue on?

© copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013

And hey, while you’re dashing off poetry, why not dash off to Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides to pen a “Vision” poem?  Perhaps you have a Dorsimbra Vision just dying to get out.


Confusions, confounding, and cons come in all forms. A message may be misunderstood. An event may have an unexpected outcome. A magician may play a trick that seems impossible. The world is full of surprises. Write a poem about a surprising or unexpected event or person or state of affairs. The result of the surprise may be pleasing or not.



I gather you’d rather slather the matter with blather than merely verify and clearly clarify the grand plan at hand.  I don’t understand.  Must you be contiguously ambiguous?  Profusely abstruse?  Contentiously pretentious?  For heaven’s sake, give us a break!  Be frank and clear, like me right here!

© copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013



The guy
with the muck truck
comes and goes quickly
unless he finds that the baffle’s
© copyright 2013, William Preston


What is it about music that calls out to us, and speaks so sincerely to our hearts?  One thing is certain: music inspires a poetic muse to sing.  This week has been an absolute symphony of poetry.


So how does one choose a solo to highlight from among the melodious voices?  It has been no easy task!  After much deliberation, I’ve chosen to hand the microphone to Debi Swim, for her Peaceful Dreams.  In a mere four paragraphs, Debi has managed to make me feel right at home in the mountains of her youth.  I especially admire the way in which she introduces us to her grandmother, via her apron.  Bravo, Debi!  And congratulations on your Bloom!

(Inspired by Country Roads, John Denver :

Peaceful Dreams (by Debi Swim)

Sweet Idyllic, home of my youth
Iron Mountains,
the Doe and the Forge.
Life was good there,
innocent and free,
summers running wild
fun that never ends.

Peaceful dreams, take me back
to my sweet childhood home
Rainbow Holler, end of the road
take me back, peaceful dreams.

I remember, deep within me
grandma’s apron, all the ways she used it
wiped off smudges, fanned away the flies,
carried eggs tenderly, dried tears from our eyes.


I see her there, her blue-veined hands ever busy
the radio is playing bluegrass gospel music
and waking from my dream, I have a longing
but I know well it’s, just a dream, just a dream.



Selecting a “bloom” from all the song-inspired pieces was torture, but of a nice sort. So many were so good. I selected Sara McNulty’s poem, however, because she melded two art forms as inspiration, then added the personal ponderings of the narrator and came up with a touching, pensive poem. The paintings “found the bud which bloomed;” the song “touched a spot in her heart;” and, feeling misunderstood, she understood Vincent.  I thought this was a superb piece of work, blending so much into so few words.


(Referencing Starry, Starry Night, by Don McLean:

She was starting to sort out
artists, developing love
of manic swirls, giant
sunflowers, and blue
irises. Stern Dutch faces,
and the lonely landscape
of Arles, painted with passion,
found the bud which bloomed
in her. Van Gogh raged, hurt,
loved. She was feeling mis-
understood. Soft melody
of the song touched a spot
in her heart. Yes, she thought,
at the close, Vincent, “the world
was never meant for someone
as beautiful as you.”



In the spirit of giving our poets the recognition they deserve, we have added a new Beautiful Bloom facet to our feature:  RJ Clarken will be awarding a Bloom for her weekly In-Form Poet Wednesday prompts!  Debi Swim is our first official recipient!  Congratulations, Debi!  How does it feel to be the recipient of a double bloom this week? 🙂


I am in awe of Debi Swim’s Nighttime Blues because of the imagery and the emotion that her poem evokes. Her use of language in this ‘playful’ poetic form is nothing short of astonishing.  It wholly resonates. And that is saying much from a writer/poet who tends to do the upbeat and funny stuff primarily. While her poem is dark, it is also uplifting.

Nighttime Blues (by Debi Swim)

What is it about the night that deepens fright, blurs black and white into shades of gloomy grey?
Why in the dark does each recalled remark, loom and spark a tinderbox of dismay?
I toss and turn, troubles churn, gnawing cares burn and confidence whittled away.
Until light of morn puts troubles to scorn, brings peace to adorn, as I fall to my knees and pray.

Congratulations, Debi and Sara!


Because I became intrigued by Welsh forms due to the Gwawdodyn challenge (deadline, August 31) posted by Robert Lee Brewer over at Poetic Asides, I thought it might be fun to do another Welsh poetic form this week. This one, the Rhupunt, is fairly easy (well, easier, I think) and is actually kind of fun.

As you will see, first you write the stanzas like you would stanzas, but then you (usually) make each stanza into one line. So, if you have two stanzas, you would end up with an internally and externally rhymed couplet.

Okay – here’s the scoop:

According to the Encylopædia Brittanica, ( the Rhupunt, also spelled Rhupynt, is one of the 24 metres of the Welsh bardic tradition. A Rhupunt is a verse composed of three, four, or five four-syllable sections linked by Cynghanedd (an intricate system of accentuation, alliteration, and internal rhyme) and rhyme. In a four-section verse, the first three sections are made to rhyme with one another, and the fourth section is made to rhyme with the fourth of the next verse. The whole is written as a single line or is divided into as many lines as it has rhyming sections.

The Poets Garret ( says this about the Rhupunt: A four syllable line, each stanza can be of three, four or five lines a..a..a..B. The next stanza rhymes the similar c..c..c..B. The rhyme could change for the next stanzas. We end up with a pattern thus:
x x x a
x x x a
x x x a
x x x B

x x x c
x x x c
x x x c
x x x B
It is common to join the lines together and end up with the two stanzas making a line each. The following stanzas would do the same and the result is as shown below in the Rhupunt long.
x x x a x x x a x x x a x x x B
x x x c x x x c x x x c x x x B

A couple of other sites about the Rhupunt:

All Poetry

Popular Poetry Forms:


Yellow Day 

Yellow’s my mood, which would allude to how I’ve viewed a summer’s day.
‘Though simplified, it has implied what I can’t hide: I want to play.

© Copyright RJ Clarken, 2013

So, now I’ve just Rhu’punted’ the poetic ball to you. Are you game?

Ready? Set? Start poeming! ~RJ



Women’s house coats, puddle sail boats, Thermos® lunch totes, aprons (frilly),
Ten-cent laces, pencil cases, flower vases, Wooly Willy.

Good-n-Plenty, spend a penny, comics, many very funny!
Party favors, sweet Life Savors (just five flavors), Bit-O-Honey.

Penny candy sure was dandy, Just ask Randi! She would know it!
Just old time’n, Five-n-Dime’n, fun’n rhymin’ In-Form Poet!

© Copyright Marie Elena Good, 2013


For many of us, songs carry associations, moods, emotions, memories. Some may be good; some may be bad; some may be ambiguous. The old Jule Styne – Sammy Cahn song, I’ve Heard That Song Before, suggests a pleasurable association that nonetheless is sufficiently faded in memory that the listener asks to “have them play it again.” Write a poem based on a song. You might want to write new words to fit existing lyrics, or write an entirely different set of lines that nonetheless have some connection with the song, or what the song means to you.

MARIE ELENA’S OLDIE (Hey!  No snickering out there!)


To the lovely classic “When You Wish Upon a Star” by Leigh Harline [melody] and Ned Washington [lyrics]:

(To be sung softly, dreamily, wistfully; with your hands clasped together near your heart, for effect… )

If you wish you were a star
First consider how bizarre;
Paparazzi all around
Would stalk,
and hound.

Would you be a Meryl Streep?
Jacqueline Bisset of “The Deep?”
Ravishing Miss Leigh of “Streetcar?”
Rose – anne – Barr?

Fate is kind
She left me disinclined
To live like actresses
Before the mass – es.

So, consider my advice
Stardom is not paradise.
When you look at me, foresee
Ob – scur – i – ty!

© Copyright Marie Elena Good, 2009



One song,
oft repeated,
limns and encapsulates
two hearts; a few days; many years;
one love.
© Copyright William Preston, 2013

Note: Harbor Lights, written by Jimmy Kennedy and Hugh Williams.


Before the “Beautiful Blooms” are announced, I have some news to share.

You all know I put out a call for some help when Walt announced that he simply cannot continue at full capacity here for the foreseeable future. You also by now know RJ Clarken has agreed to be our In-Form Poet Wednesday guru.  She was Walt’s own #1 choice, and rightfully so.  RJ brings much poetry form experience and skill to the table, as recognized and honored by poetry propagators such as The Writer’s Digest’s Robert Lee Brewer.

Walt believes he can continue to help with the online chapbooks, such as the memoir project and beach project.  He will also make himself available for consultation.  I appreciate that not only because he is grand at it, but also because it keeps his foot inside this garden he and I have cultivated together.  He has a poetic green thumb, and I want to keep his hands dirty.  😉

Having said all this, Walt’s is a position that simply cannot be refilled by just one person.  Along with RJ, it is my great pleasure to announce that William (Bill) Preston will also be coming on board.  Bill will be providing our Sunday morning prompts, along with his own sample.  He will also choose the weekly Beautiful Blooms with me.

Ready, Bill?  Here we go…



Thanks to Sheryl Kay Oder for the “In this house” prompt idea.  It garnered well over 300 comments — a great success!  The poetry this week was outstanding, as always.  I’d like to highlight at least a handful of poems, but you know the rules.  I’ve never made it a secret how much I adore the work of De Miller JacksonGirl Next Door is a fine example of why.  De’s way with words always richly amazes and entertains – also no secret.  This week she has managed the idea of “show, don’t tell,” while leaving us wanting to know exactly what horrors took place in this house.  De, you may add yet another Bloom to your growing bouquet.

Girl Next Door (by De Miller Jackson, aka whimsygizmo)

In this house
(red brick, blue roof)
there was hope
and home
and apple pie
and one sneaky

In this house
there was fear
and dread
and doubt.

In this house
there were
17 windows
2 doors



For my first Beautiful Bloom offering, I chose Walt Wojtanik‘s In This House. I chose this because, as I commented at the time I first saw it, it made me think of the phrase, “L’chaim,” owing to the words, “live well loved.” Although it speaks of doused fires, it also speaks of hopes that a return to normalcy will transpire. I read it therefore, as essentially a paean to life, despite the somber tome. It seemed to me to have more layers of meaning than what seemed obvious in its words. It invited me to read and re-read, and to think.

IN THIS HOUSE  (by Walt Wojtanik)

In this house, memories
nestled in every corner,
comforting mourners
of a live well loved.
Rooms, sealed and
secrets remain concealed
in hopes a return
to normalcy will transpire.
The home fires are doused,
and this house will be
devoid of any semblance
of thoughts in remembrance,
nestled in every corner.




Many of the poets who frequent Poetic Bloomings have come to us after meeting at Writer’s Digest’s Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer.  This includes today’s guest, Sheryl Kay Oder.  In fact, Sheryl was part of Robert’s original April Poem-a-Day Challenge, back in 2008.  Walt Wojtanik and I joined the fun in 2009, and have since greatly benefited from rubbing words with Poetic Asides poets such as Sheryl herself.  It is my pleasure to present the poet behind the poetry.

One of Sheryl’s finest pieces (in my opinion) is an older poem written in response to an idea she suggested we use for this week’s prompt, “In this house.”  I present you Sheryl’s poem of the same name:

In This House

In this house the cobwebs
creep out the window
and meet the climbing ivy.
Books are piled so high
an avalanche could occur.

The poet sits in quiet contemplation
unaware of impending domestic doom
as he sweeps the extra words
from his page, cleaning
up the meter of his lines.

© Copyright Sheryl Kay Oder

MARIE ELENA:  Welcome, Sheryl!  Let’s start with your blog:  Sheryl’s Sporadic Word Tag . Such an intriguing title!  I’m always interested in discovering why folks decide to begin their own blog, and how they settle on a name.

SHERYL: Many Poetic Bloomings poets have their own blog; I had none. I thought now is the time to start one. My goal is to reach more people with my poetry. It seems a shame to work on poems I enjoy without sharing them with others. And like any other poet, I love positive feedback.

I used the word sporadic to give my readers realistic expectations.  Some people write every day; I do not. I want poetry to be a joy, not an obsession. The original name of the blog was Sheryl’s Sporadic Spurtings. That name uses alliteration, but it sounds like I am on a soap box spurting out whatever enters my mind. If my poetry is a game of word tag, as one poem calls it, then Sheryl’s Sporadic Word Tag makes more sense.

On my blog I call Word Tag my signature poem. Long ago I decided if I wrote a book of poetry, that book would be entitled Word Tag. Right now a book is not in my plans. The blog, Poetic Bloomings, Poetic Asides and any poems in the upcoming book, Poetic Bloomings, the second year, are quite enough for me.

MARIE ELENA:  Please share one of your favorite self-written poems, and tell us why you chose it.

SHERYL:  I could have chosen one of my more serious poems, but one that stands out is a poem I had great fun writing.  Its shifting form speaks for itself. If its long phrases leave the reader wanting rest, he can understand what the month felt like to me.  Don’t expect poetic perfection. Just go with the flow.

This April Is a Ragged Poem

This April is a ragged poem
I don’t quite understand.

Its rhythm, rhyme, and meaning
don’t seem at all well planned.

It started out all lyrical
with trees and ponds and such.

But soon its form was upset and uneven,

and Dean got soaked, and I was stuffed in a closet,
and the horse was road kill, and Bill Hayer died.

Now I am home and keep getting tired even though I was feeling better yesterday–
good enough to unclutter for Matt to enter a reasonable-looking house.
And yesterday when I called my fellow small group gal
(the professional organizer
who had offered me a ride) her mind had been so unorganized she forgot the meeting.
It didn’t help that I had sent her e-mail to the wrong address (using a 2
not a Z) and she told me to remind her this week to come to the meeting
and so this month-poem has neither energy nor organization.

One stanza poured and poured and poured rain and whirled wind around
and created chaos all over some towns.

Another one chanted sunshine, drip, drip, sunshine, drip, drip.

My guess is a later stanza will be filled with mud
and track its unwelcome, unmetered mess
onto a newly metered floor,
leaving unwanted muddy melodies where cleanliness was desired.

I’m sure
there is
some kind
of a segue
into May

© Copyright Sheryl Kay Oder

MARIE ELENA:  That one is great fun, Sheryl.  No wonder you enjoyed writing it.  So, when did you become interested in poetry, and what (or who) sparked that interest?

SHERYL:  Mrs. Sammye Greer (now Dr. Greer) taught most of my college literature classes. When she read poems, I was mesmerized. She taught me to love the sound of poetry simply by speaking it. We had to memorize The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and I delighted in his use of alliteration. As I read that poem now, I can still hear her voice. Another poet she introduced me to was John Donne. I loved his many conceits. My undergraduate thesis was written about John Donne’s love poetry. Would I write about poetry to mistresses nowadays? No, but I learned much by writing that paper.

One disadvantage of studying poetry in college is that, as Billy Collins says in Introduction to Poetry, “…all they want to do/is …torture a confession out of it.” For a long time I left poetry alone. It was too much of a puzzle. Years later when I started writing poems I chose to be as clear as possible. Of course, we all understand ourselves, but we may not be as plain to readers as we think we are.  In my Online class a teacher’s interpretation of one of my poems went way beyond my original intention. However, each person brings his or her own experience to a poem.

MARIE ELENA:  “…all they want to do is torture a confession out of it” has me chuckling out loud, all by myself!  I’ve heard that before, but it still takes my gullible humor bone by surprise.

Sheryl, what would you say is your goal as a poet and writer? 

SHERYL: When I started writing poetry, I was hoping to make money one day.  Now that sounds so funny. Most poets get paid in issues, not money. Because I love words, I write much of my poetry for enjoyment. My first poems explored writing or poetry itself. Now I try to express ideas or thoughts in a way that will interest readers or help them remember what I have said.  The little poem Lasting Impression may be my “dark and stormy night,” but it reflects the goal many of us have:

Lasting Impression

Words imprinting the mind
like sharply defined footprints
in wet sand-
not being washed away
by waves of mundane thoughts

© Copyright Sheryl Kay Oder

Having my name or poem in print sounds great, but I am realistic enough to know many writers compose poetry better than I do. To have a few poems readers enjoy or identify with is my present goal. If some of my poetry lasts, I would not object at all.

MARIE ELENA:  I like your attitude.  It is grounded, yet dream-inhabited.

How do you go about writing a poem – in other words, what is your process?  Do you generally begin with a title and work your way down?  An ending, and work your way up?  Perhaps you don’t know where the poem is going until you begin and see where your mind takes you?

SHERYL: Each poem presents its own challenge.  Often once I have the first stanza written, I use it as a template for the whole poem. Does it rhyme? Which lines rhyme? How many lines does it have? Does it have a consistent rhythm?  Can I count syllables? That way I am creating my own form for each poem. I am so glad this is an era in which we can be flexible in our writing styles. I am not good at starting with a form and then deciding what to write. I do hope to achieve that skill one day. I appreciate those poets who can write sonnets or other formal poems. Yes, I have managed to write a villanelle or Sestina for PAD on Poetic Asides. However, I rarely have the time to spend thinking my way through the words needed to express ideas through certain rhythms or rhymes. That makes poetry more work than joy.

Sometimes when I am writing from a prompt that does not lend itself to poetic language, I will write my idea in prose and then figure out a more poetic way to say it.  Often I feel I am simply trading paragraphs for stanzas, but putting my prose into poetic form means I whittle it down to as few words as possible.

Many poems start out one way and take an unexpected turn; I’m sure a poet’s subconscious mind is quite busy. With other poems, especially about my own life, I am simply telling a story or vignette, so I know exactly where I am heading.

Early in my poetry-writing days I carried a poetry journal. Austin Gardens, a small local park, has given me ideas for two poems. In one I heard a bird concert, spied the muse scampering like a squirrel, and saw her wink. In another one (about forgetfulness) I used a description of a butterfly landing on my purple dress, imagining I did not know whether I wore that dress or a yellow pantsuit.

Unless I am working from a title prompt, I choose the title last. By the time I have written the poem, the title is often easy to figure out.

MARIE ELENA:  Thank you, Sheryl.  Your response is idea rich.  It seems you could hold a seminar on writing tips.

You write often about your love for God.  Were you raised in a God-believing home?  If so, what experience caused you to take on your belief as your own?  Or at what point in your life did you recognize that you believed in God?

SHERYL: I do hope I have made it clear that God loves me much more than I have ever loved Him. Just as the moon reflects the sun, our love toward God and other people is a pale reflection of His love. As I John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” (English Standard Version)

I cannot remember a time I was unaware of the existence of God the Father and Jesus His Son. I believed my grandmother would be in Heaven, but I did not know why.   The first time I was in a church service during communion I wanted to take part. My granddaddy told me I could not; we would talk later. Being a typical kid, I felt sorry for myself because I was missing out on something. I had no idea what communion meant.

When we came home Granddaddy explained the bread (matzo) represented Jesus’ body and the grape juice, His blood. He died on the Cross for my sins. I was not good enough to get to Heaven on my own.  Only by placing my trust in Jesus and what He had done for me on the Cross could I become God’s child. I would then live in Heaven with Him forever when I die. Although my only awareness of my sinful nature was knowing at times I disobeyed my mother and needed a spanking for it, I (at the age of eight) placed my faith in Jesus. Soon afterwards I walked to the front of the church to affirm my faith publicly and say I wanted to obey Jesus by being immersed in baptism.

One disadvantage of coming to Jesus at a young age is it is too easy to take God and His love for granted, just like the air we breathe. Those who become believers as adults are much more aware of their need for Him and how messed up their lives were before they placed their trust in Him. However, I may never know what I have been protected from by coming to the Lord Jesus at such a young age.

MARIE ELENA:  I completely relate to “coming to Jesus at a young age.”  Thank you for sharing your heart and faith so freely, Sheryl.  What role do you think your faith has played during the toughest times of your life?

SHERYL: When I look back at the painful episodes and situations in my life, I am reminded of Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (English Standard Version) It is God’s desire to see me become more like Jesus, so He uses the painful, not-good-in-themselves experiences I have to change me in ways I may not even be aware of at the time. Have I always handled those situations well? No, but they remain part of who I am.

It is good I had my grandfather and my uncle in my life at an early age.  I did not meet my Daddy until I was age 10. Later my parents remarried. Much of our life together was good, but Daddy was a binge alcoholic. Sporadically he would get drunk and come home to pick a fight with Mother.  They would awaken me with their arguing, and I would try not to let them know I was awake.  At school I would try to act as if everything were fine.

My husband Dean’s parents often bickered also.  Fortunately we have not argued much. The few times we have raised our voices to each other have been quickly followed by each of us saying, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but…” Unfortunately, it has taken me a long time to learn how to express disagreement, but not be disagreeable while doing so.

One reason having God as my Heavenly Father is so precious to me is knowing how important earthly fathers are. Yes, I had my Daddy as a teen, but I can always come to God. He is the best parent anyone can have.

There was a time during my college days that Mother and I had little money. That experience has helped me be more generous with others. Most people in the middle class have little concept of what life can be like when you need to watch every penny or quit college until someone lets you know about financial aid. It was during that time we took my need to the Lord in prayer, and He answered almost immediately. The wife of one of my professors stopped by the bakery where I worked. She asked why they had not seen me at school and told me to see the financial aid officer. That resulted in my receiving federal aid, a small Women’s Missionary Union scholarship, and a loan from my church to live on while in school.  Praise the Lord for hearing my prayer!  I learned to be “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7.

MARIE ELENA: True stories of the power of prayer just can’t be beat. 🙂  I’d love to hear more about your family, too.

 SHERYL: Dean and I met when we worked for the Social Security Administration. We started dating after we were working together on a group project (called a detail). I have no idea when we met, but we had known of each other for years before that time. Knowing what I do now about what can go wrong in a relationship (not ours) I would not recommend such a short time of dating and engagement.  We dated for two months and were engaged for three months. We have been married for over 40 years.



Dean is spending his retirement taking pictures, playing his classical guitar every day, and reading, reading, reading. He takes part in a book discussion group and the Oak Park Photo Club.

We have two adult children. Elizabeth and her husband, Dan, live in Seattle, Washington. Most of Dan’s siblings live in Washington State also. They love the beauty of the area. Elizabeth loves to hike.  She has created many online classes in the past, and is now working within a large hospital system.  Michael lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his cat, Ada. Ada is named for Ada Lovelace, a woman involved with the precursor to the modern computer, and considered the first computer programmer. Michael is a computer programmer, of course.

My mother (almost 92) lives with Dean and me. This past March she fell and fractured her pelvis, but she is walking much better after taking physical therapy.

MARIE ELENA: I’ve kept up with your mother’s progress a bit on Facebook.  I’m so glad to hear she is doing better.  Bless her heart.



Captain Dan

Captain Dan





MARIE ELENA:  Sheryl, if you could retire anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

SHERYL: Asking a soon-to-be 69-year-old (August 25) homemaker about retirement is funny. As I have reminded Dean, homemakers never retire. You could say I “retired” from my Social Security job in 1975 after Elizabeth was born. I told Dean either I would stay home with our children or he would have some big psychiatric bills on his hands.

MARIE ELENA:  That’s hysterical!

SHERYL:  That was an exaggeration, of course, but I am amazed at any mother who can handle a job and a family at the same time. I am grateful I had the choice to be a stay-at-home mom.

Oak Park, Illinois is a good place to live. The Chicago area has excellent transportation. Our library is where the photo club meets, and it is where I can borrow audio books to hear while in the kitchen. Oak Park’s parkways are lined with many old trees. It is a beautiful place. The village is a good compromise between a city and a suburb, so I am glad we live here.

It would be more fun to travel rather than move somewhere different. I love the times we have visited Elizabeth, both when she lived in Utah and now that she and Dan are in Washington State. We had hoped to travel to Canada with Elizabeth and Dan, but that opportunity did not present itself. Right now I am in charge of Mother’s medication schedule. Her sense of time is not good, and she often forgets if she has taken a certain medicine.  Any traveling we would do would take some planning.

MARIE ELENA: You have a lovely family, Sheryl.  Thank you for introducing them to us.

These interviews have brought to my attention that poetry and photography often seem to go hand-in-hand.  You are no exception, with your poetry blog and Flickr photo site.  What prompted your interest in photography?  Do you take photos for the simple enjoyment of it?

SHERYL: I have taken snapshots since I was a girl with a Brownie® camera. However, it has only been since I joined the Oak Park Photo Club that I have enjoyed photography both as a hobby and art form. It helps to be married to a man who has taken many excellent photos. Dean often takes a camera when we go somewhere together. When we were first married I was bored while waiting for him to get his shots just right. Now I use photography as a means to become more aware of details around me.  Is he now bored when he waits for me? I don’t know. I’m too busy taking pictures.

MARIE ELENA:  That brought a smile to my face.  If you can’t beat ’em … 😉  So, what about an object or scene makes you long to get a photo of it?  Or what attracts your eye?

SHERYL:  Just as reading poetry helps me see how I can improve my own poems, seeing the amazing, creative photos taken by the photo club members helps train my photographic eye. It is good to belong to a group in which people help each other learn. Two things I have learned are what leading lines are and how extraneous details distract the eye.  I tend to zero in on what is important to me; the reminder that other people can be distracted by objects I do not notice is helpful.

Dean and I enjoy the photo club together. We have had our prints displayed in OPPC photo shows at our library and at several local businesses. One of my pictures was published in the 2011 edition of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.” So far I have nothing else published, at least not yet.

Vases in Irish Shop for Poetic Bloomings

Irish Vases, Photo by Sheryl Kay Oder

MARIE ELENA:  Excellent.  That must be very satisfying for both of you. 

Now finally, if there was only one thing we could know about you, what would it be?

SHERYL: I am a unique person made in God’s image. That means “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14). That is what makes me worth knowing. Any talents I have are frosting on the cake.

Marie, thank you for this opportunity to share my poetry, pictures, and life.

MARIE ELENA:  Thank YOU, Sheryl.  It has been a joy.



The ZaniLa Rhyme is an interesting, modern repeating form. This form was created by Laura Lamarca, and consists of at least two 4-line stanzas (although three or more stanzas are preferable).

The rhyme scheme for each stanza is:

Stanza 1


Stanza 2


Stanza 3


and so on…

The syllable count for each stanza is:


As you can see, Line 3 is a Repeating Line, which contains an internal rhyme and is repeated in each alternate stanza as in the first stanza. Each even stanza line contains the same line but with the two parts of the internal rhyme swapped. There is no maximum poem length.

This form can be found on the wonderful The Poets’ Garrett website ( which is hosted by the brilliant Terry Clitheroe.

Here are a couple of examples of my own, to give you an idea of just how – ermmm – zany the ZaniLa can be.

Ready…set…start poeming! ~RJ



By RJ Clarken

“I am the Hatter; here’s the March Hare,”
said the strange man in my dreams,
“Beware the Queen – she’s terribly mean,
and please know, nothing is as it seems.”

“I am Alice. Pleased to meet you, but…”
I politely asked this pair,
“…she’s terribly mean? Beware the Queen?
It sounds like ghastly tidings you share.”

“Quite,” said the Hatter, “Nevertheless,
it is ‘time’ to serve cream tea.”
“Beware the Queen; she’s terribly mean!”
March Hare poured, as he nodded at me.

With that, the Dormouse woke abruptly.
“Odds Bods! I’m trying to doze.
She’s terribly mean! Beware that Queen!”
He gestured to me. “Queen, I suppose?”

“No!” I cried, “I’m just a little girl!”
Those chaps calmly sipped a cup.
“I’m not the Queen – so what can you mean?”
And then, at that moment, I woke up.

© RJ Clarken


time for bed

Bedtime Story

By RJ Clarken

Illustration by: Henriette Willebeek Le Mair (1889-1966)  


Come, little brother, it’s time for bed.
You must leave your toys behind.
They’ll wait for you ‘til morning anew.
I am older, so me you must mind.

Wood horse and stuffed bunny need their sleep
so do you, and thus please come.
‘Til morning anew they’ll wait for you.
It’s now beddy-bye time, don’t be glum.

I’ll read you a tale of a small boy
who’s really a prince, disguised.
They’ll wait for you ‘til morning anew:
since your furry friends say close your eyes.

[Yawn]…once upon a time, long ago
this prince…[yawn, yawn]…well, that is…
‘Til morning anew, they’ll wait for…yooooou…
[yawn]…that’s the end…of the story…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

© RJ Clarken




He longs to retire in the tropics
With white sugar sand and sea
Even though she prefers white of snow
And he knows she will never agree.

She longs for falling crystalline flakes
And snow-laden trees outdoors.
She prefers white of snow, even though
She treasures hand-held walks on the shores.

© Copyright Marie Elena Good, 2013

RJ, you have made Walt and me very happy.  Thank you so much for stepping into the role of our weekly poetry form instructor.  If we could hand-picked one expert to fill in for Walt …

Oh, wait … Walt DID hand pick you.  😉