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!