Thursday, July 27, 2017

Storm Poem in 14 Words

Laura Purdie Salas has her 15 Words or Less Poem Challenge today, with a picture of a storm brewing over a skyline.  Here's my offering today.  It reminded me of a storm coming in over the trees and bluffs of Hokah, Minnesota, when we lived there - and LaCrosse, Wisconsin, when I taught there back a lifetime ago!  It's been long enough that I can look at it differently; back then it was much more serious.  Not sure I ever smiled when a storm laughed overhead.  Especially that one that leveled the home we were building and strew the broken pieces of the house over the valley.  Not funny at all, unless you ARE the storm.

This was not in MN - but in ME one night while out riding around.


Firs and bluffs
Tickle the sky
Chortles rumble
As tears tumble
From storm’s eye.

Donna JT Smith,
July 27, 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Rhino-Whine

Poetry Friday, yippee! This week's hostess is Katie at The Logonauts.
Today is a Rhino-Whine...inspired when I saw Mary Lee Hahn's post about her stuffed rhino and the book Rhino in the House, the true story of saving Samia by Daniel Kirk.  Now I might have to read Rhinos Don't Eat Pancakes by Anna Kemp, which I discovered when I looked at the Samia book on Amazon.  Reading...writing...learning... it's just a never-ending cycle!
I ordered, on Amazon, the Shel Silverstein book Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros, and bought a stuffed rhino for my grandson when he was here last week. 

BTW: This figure was one I found on the beach between rocks.  He'd been abandoned between a rock and a hard place, so I picked him up off the deserted beach and took him home. 

My grandson, who is now 5 11/12, loves the rescued man, the book and the stuffed animal. It was his idea to recline the man on the rhino's snout (look back at the book and rhino picture), copying the picture on the book cover.   I haven't read him the poem yet.   When they visit in August, I will read it to him.  Hope he brings the rhino for a visit!

A Rhino-Whine

I want a rhino, big and fine;
A rhino that I call all mine!
I’d love her dainty rhinocertoes,
Her very pointy rhinocernose;
Rhino fine,
Rhino mine,
My love is rhino-genuine!

In my bathtub let her brine,
Brush her till she starts to shine!
When we’re finished doing that,
She could don my big sunhat;
Rhino fine,
Rhino mine,
In our deck chairs we’d recline.

Supine in the warm sunshine
Could it be it’s time to dine?
Browsing grass and leaves at brunch
Downing berry pies for lunch
Rhino fine,
Rhino mine,
Gives no thought to her waistline!

I’m in the “Buy a Rhino” line!
I’ll take sweet rhino number nine!
I want that huge rhinoceros,
No matter what the cost to us!
Rhino fine,
Rhino mine,
Remove her “Rhino For Sale” sign!

No longer will I sigh or pine;
No need for her to rhino-whine
This rhino’s coming home with me
For cookies, honey and some tea;
Rhino fine,
Rhino mine,
My world is now rhino-divine!

This distant cousin of equine
That some say looks like Frankenstein
Proves beauty's in beholder’s eye,
I think she's quite a cutie pie!
Rhino fine,
Rhino mine,
Perhaps I’ll name her Valentine!

By Donna JT Smith, July 13, 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

National Macaroni and Cheese Day

Today is National Macaroni and Cheese Day.

Tabatha Yeatts, our Poetry Friday hostess today at The Opposite of Indifference asked around to see if anyone else would be interested in using this special day as a prompt for their Poetry Friday post.
I'm in!  So to celebrate this day, here is my Macaroni and Cheese poem.
I am gluten sensitive, and need to maintain low carb, so this is not my meal of choice anymore... but it is good stuff, and I remember it fondly!

Here's an interesting One Pot Mac and Cheese recipe to try.  Looks easy and yummy.  I've done a one pot spaghetti that came out great.  I might try this with a gluten free sauce and pasta sometime when I'm feeling like I can add a carb or two! (sorry for the ad!) If you wait through another ad you can see a Wafer Tater Tot Cheese and Bacon Sandwich...not Mac and Cheese, but I think I may have to do this someday!  When is National Tater Tot Day?

Here's my tribute to the meal of the day, jumping rope, and Mom's rules:

Ma Macaroni's Warning (a cautionary tale)

“Keep your elbows off the table,”
Ma Macaroni said.
“For that’s the day, I’m sad to say,
That you’ll be boiled and dead.
They’ll bury you in cheese sauce
With other elbow fellows
And bake you as a casserole
Until you’re golden yellow.
Then one by one and fork by fork
They’ll eat your hollowed hide,
And there’ll be nothing left of you!"
Ma Macaroni cried.
“Heed my warning, pasta,
No elbows on the table,
Or you’ll be in hot water
As dear Mabel sets the table!”
But then one day they all forgot
Ma Macaroni's law,
For pasta has such little sense
(Indeed their major flaw);
"Is it almost time to eat?
I set the table fast!
Is the pasta ready?"
Miss Mabel sweetly asked.
"It's ready! Come and eat!" Mom called,
Putting elbows on the table.
"Please, pass the cheesy pasta!"
Was the cheer from dear Miss Mabel.
Now there are no more elbows
on the table or a dish:
Tomorrow is another day
What's the rule for fish?
It has to do with fires,
And avoiding frying pans -
But that is for another day
And some old man named Dan.

by Donna JT Smith, 2017

More macaroni and cheese, please!


Jump rope chant:

Mabel, Mabel, Set the table
Don't forget the salt and pepper!
(lots of versions... but this is the one we said)

Nursery Rhyme:

Dan, Dan, the fine old man,
Washed his face in the frying pan,
Combed his hair with the leg of the chair,
Dan, Dan, the fine old man.

Please, please, make sure you have checked in at Tabatha's to see her poetic contribution today, AND all the other macaroni maniacs' commemorations, and the contributions of those who chose another poem for today.  You won't be disappointed!

Friday, July 7, 2017

My Writer's Card

Welcome to my Poetry Friday post.  There are lots and lots of poetry sites to visit, if you've never been to a Poetry Friday Party, go visit our hostess Carol at Beyond Literacy Link and click on more links!

Last week I showed you the front of my "business card" quotes because, well, is it a business?  I guess it's my "writer's card".  A card I can hand out when I'm writing something and need to let the person know what I'm doing.  Sometimes it might involve them, as being like the star of a poem...or their license plate or lobster boat is my topic.  It means they can easily get to the site and see what I've written.  I've handed out one card.  There isn't a big rush on them.  But I'm ready!

Here's the front again:

On the back I have part of this poem about whales:

A Wail of Whales

Once I heard
a herd at sea
The scene was seen
by none but me
I called and heard
The herd call back
A wail of whales -
Some plump humpbacks
Their siren cries
Salted the sea
The yearning calls
Assaulted me
And I walked in
Braved frothy waves
To greet them in their
Sea enclave.
I swam a bit
And gave a shout
My answer was
A waterspout.
Whales’ echoing
Off ocean floor
Gently nudged me
Back to shore
“We’re happy that you
Came to to see
What’s happening
Out here at sea,
But truly you must
Use a boat
For you never were
Meant to float
Nor sink even
For that is worse
You’re not a whale
And that’s a curse!
Next time you see us
Use a dinghy
Paddles, oars,
Or motor thingy
Don’t visit without
Safety vest;
Listen to us for
Whales know best!
There’s no spare air
In watery deep
Unless you’ve gills
Or you can leap
And grab with gusto
Air you need
Before you dive
Below to feed.
Next time you’re here
You should be found
By looking up
And not around.

By Donna JT Smith, June 17, 2017

Next Friday, July 14, is National Macaroni and Cheese Day!  Come join in the fun of some cheesy, pasta poetry next week!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Into the Dis-Comfort Zone

Pat at Writer on a Horse is hosting this month's First Spiritual Thursday with thoughts by bloggers on "Getting out of your comfort zone..."

Have you gotten comfortable in one spot?  It is easy to do.  I do it when I can.  It really is easier than moving on and taking chances.  Facing the known, no matter how unhealthy, unrewarding, even awful, it is, it is better than meeting the unknown - stepping out of your comfort zone and into the Discomfort Zone...

Being voted “Class Quietest” in high school, I was never one for speaking out or speaking my mind…I was a listener.  So you might say that my blog is even out of my comfort zone...

I think my most amazing step outside of my comfort zone, was singing a solo. Singing alone was truly terrifying to me - If I was singing alone outside of the shower or not in the confines of my car, I'd better be in a choir or a quartet...I could do those.  But not alone.  No solos for me.  I knew I would choke.  Positively die choking on notes.

But one day I was pushed out of my comfort zone.  Being pushed out of my comfort zone was like being pushed out of a plane!  Until I realized I had been issued a parachute.
I had been asked by the pastor to sing a solo.  Now if the pastor asks you to do something, you do it.  If the pastor thought God needed me to (let me rephrase that…) wanted me to, then that is what I needed to do, and somehow it would be all right.   I determined to do it.  I proceeded with much deep breathing, deep prayer, deep dread… and then laid it all aside, placing it in God’s hands.

I learned that I could sing alone in front of people, if it was for God.

When I did that, the most amazing thing happened.  He took over.  Took over my feet, pushing me forward to the front.  Took over my hands, taking away the trembling.  Took over my eyes, focusing me on the back window where for the first time I noticed that the lines of the two windows coming together high in the back wall made a cross.  Took over my heart, showing me that this was being done for Love. Took over my voice, putting forth a sound of singing I had never heard before.

That day opened up a whole new aspect of worship for me.  And I will ever be thankful that I was asked to step out of my comfort zone.  It would have been selfish, foolish and even prideful to remain in my comfort zone.

Because of our move, we have begun attending a new church that will be much closer to our new home.  There was a call for music “specials”.  It is a small church, and we have only recently joined.  I was going to wait much longer to “volunteer” to sing.

But then I asked myself “why would you wait to serve?”  Yipes!  That is right.  So I signed up to sing in two weeks.  This is going to be a totally new zone.  But I am assured that my “Comfort” will be there holding my hand.

Stepping out of your comfort zone, gives you the power to try another zone that you thought would be too far a walk. 

Maybe that is why I picked the One Little Word: REACH.  I’m not really one for reaching past where I'm comfortable, but the baby poem last week was a new zone.
Maybe that is why I tried the motorcycle.  Way out of my comfort zone.  I was sure I would never ever ride a motorcycle. But here I am riding in a new zone.
I can enjoy the ride now.  I can enjoy the singing now.  Who knew?

I wonder, what new "Discomfort Zones" will be conquered this year?  I must always remember that getting out of one's Comfort Zone just means there's a new experience that isn’t quite comfortable yet

Forging a rocky, overgrown, rough patch or "Discomfort Zone", it can become a well-worn path as we walk it often, taming it, resulting perhaps in a new "Comfort Zone"!

Thanks, Pat!  I'm glad I finally "talked this through"!

Friday, June 30, 2017

I Mean Business

I have spent time explaining to people what I do when I'm photographing their license plates to write a poem, and each time I've thought, why don't I just have a business card?  Then they could go read their vanity poem on my site someday.  But I never pursued it or thought about it again until the next time I tried to tell someone where to look for my poems.

But now I've done it.  And I even handed out a card last weekend.  Remember my OLW (one little word) for this year is REACH?  Well, I figure, the card is another way to REACH people.  AND (sorry for all the YELLING...but I'm not REALLY yelling...)
REACH I did.

We went on our trek to Starbucks last week, and the first thing (things? event? people?) I noticed was a group of 4 women, a man and a baby, all sitting together at the big table in the center of the room.  And they were happy, chatty and cooing.  The new baby boy was in the midst of all these adults, and though the baby was not giggling and smiling - being brand new and all - the adults surrounding him were beaming and handing him around the table for 5 or 10 minute stints with each one.

I was so enthralled with the happy group as I sat in a corner chair.  My husband and son were talking together, but I was watching the loving group at the big table together.  And I began to write.  I finished just as they were about to disperse.  They were clearing their table.  And I had to decide, would I or wouldn't I give them this poem?

I decided to reach out.  I walked over and told them I'd enjoyed seeing the joy they had at this new baby.  I met the mom - a local;  I met the great grandmother - visiting from PA.  I had them read my draft on the iPad, I gave them my card AND got their email address to send them a copy of the baby's poem.  They beamed some more, dropped a few more kissed on the baby and left.

Then I emailed them this:

New Baby Boy

Sweet the beaming smiles;
Love spills;
A family grows by one -
No frills;
By leaps, by bounds
It fills
The whole of souls
And wills
Our hands to fold
Each heart to hold;
And stills
Time briefly
He's overnight a man.

By Donna JT Smith

Hope you have a wonderful stay and enjoy that new soul! He is blessed to have such a loving family surrounding him!

I want to do this again sometime.  It felt amazing to watch the event, to be compelled to write, to take the moment to write and then to give that poem away.  I'm glad I took that opportunity to REACH out...and so glad I had my card!  

Oh, I almost forgot - when I gave them my card, they looked at the front and exclaimed, "Look what's on the front!  A whale!"  It's the mom's favorite!  Who knew my first card handed out, would be JUST one more connection that day?

Next up... head to see who else has poetry offerings at Random Noodling where Diane is hosting Poetry Friday today!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Poetry Friday Bumbershoots

On Thursdays, Laura Purdie Salas has an image and a challenge to write to the image in 15 words or less.  This week she had a picture taken at the Maple Grove Chalk Art Festival where it had been raining. 
(Here's a portion of Laura's image)

Here's my response:


Oh, Dat a Whay!

On, shumberboots;
Up, bubber roots;
Through ruddled poutes!
The rind and wain are in hacoots!

by Donna JT Smith


Oh, What a Day!

Up, bumbershoots;
On, rubber boots;
Through puddled routes!
The wind and rain are in cahoots!

by Donna JT Smith


I have been "off the air" for a while, trying to get some things straightened out with our new house.  Maybe I'll try to write about it soon.  We are not there yet.  I am living in piles of boxes - some packed, some unpacked, and some half-way filed; and surrounded by stuff that has had to be unpacked because we had to have some item in the two month delay and  ever-changing move-in date.

We have just recently had installed a beautiful new set of kitchen cabinets at our new home, but it will be ripped out in a couple of days, due to a very poor installation job and some design problems... Good news, though.  Lowe's is covering it all.  It was really bad.  Really.  Bad.  Thankfully, Lowe's immediately responded and has treated us fairly.  I will continue to shop there and recommend them.  I don't even think I want to show the images of the disaster, as they have been so gracious and willing to make it all right.  I will show images when the finished kitchen is all displayed in it's buttery splendor, though!

Happy here.  Have a wonderful Poetry Friday!  Go visit our hostess, Heidi, at My Juicy Little Universe and see what poetry treats are in store!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Poetry Friday - Avoiding Joy

It's Poetry Friday!  I love this day!  And I love visiting Mary Lee's site, so it is doubly fun today as she is hosting all our poetry links.  Go visit Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.  Check out all the other offerings!
Is this not joy?

Last week on Thursday, the Spiritual Thursday post was to talk about "finding joy". Margaret Simon had the prompt and was our hostess that day.

Well, I had started this poem about finding joy and then lost it - or forgot about it.  Then on Friday morning, I was looking for something and in my purse I found this folded up North Country Harley Davidson invoice with scribbles on it.  It was the poem I'd started while we were riding in the car, when I started thinking about the topic of Finding Joy, its original title. As I began writing, though, it was clear that it was more about how we can refuse to find joy, preferring instead to wallow in self-pity, depression, unhappiness...
Have you ever avoided joy?

I've seen people do this... ME?  Of course, it is more understandable when I do it!!  LOL!  The poem was spurred by my own actions at times when I just wanted to wallow or be difficult, and thinking about how hard it was to snap out of it and "succumb to" good thoughts and a smile!

I remind myself that it is easier sometimes to find the bad in things than the good when you are on a roll!  However, it is just as easy to find the good and get on that roll!  It might involve putting the brakes on hard and almost upsetting yourself to do it, but it is worth it and always do-able.

I want to stop the Pollyanna-eze here, though.  I admit there will be times when it isn't as easy as one would like, and I can't say I am always successful at it.
(Yeah, like this week when I wasn't too happy with some of the details of our kitchen cabinet  installation...  but I digress... back to joy so I can avoid going down that path again...)

Avoiding Joy

Did you ever avoid finding joy?
I know it can be done:
Refuse to muse on trees,
Deny the warming sun,
Turn from a dewy bloom,
Rebuke the glinting sea,
Look through disdaining eyes,
Hold on to jealousy,
Drain color from a sunset,
Remain in shadowed vale,
Still a robin's echoing trill,
Pursue a lonesome trail,
Trade the sweetest laughter
For hot and bitter tears,
Decline the tiniest hint
Of any smile that nears;
Turn away a touch,
Slough off all advice:
You haven't need of such,
Embrace your heart of ice.
I've seen it being done;
It seems a sorry goal
To uninvite a joyfulness
For sorrow in your soul
When it could very easily
Be welcomed in your heart.
It's hard at first, but when you do
A hum will likely start,
And slowly seeping past the doubts
It starts to overflow;
It's scary when the singing starts
With words you do not know.
Just go with it, look through new eyes,
The ones without defeat,
And you might find the world out there
Is bountiful and sweet.
It's more than we deserve in life;
Be watchful for each stone -
For turning them we'll likely find
Some blessing yet unshown.
Embrace the joy of blessings

Melt your ice with flame;

If you refuse the joy in life

You’ve only you to blame.

by Donna JT Smith, 2017

Have you ever avoided joy???

Friday, June 2, 2017

Golden Poetry Friday

This is a repost of my Monday, Memorial Day post - with a few additions and revisions:

I was reading, Laura Salas' Golden Shovel poem creation.  I had heard of Golden Shovel before, but wasn't sure what it was, so I looked it up.  It looked like fun!
Grab a line of poetry.  Use each word in the line in order as the last word in each of the new poem's lines.  Make sure to credit the original author.
I decided to give it a go - if I could actually find a book of poetry in this awful mess I've created around me in the process of packing, tossing and yard-saling for our move to Gull Haven.

I did find one book without unpacking or digging:

This one was still unpacked in a stack of books on a box in the kitchen.  It was a book of Rupert Brooke's poetry "1914 and Other Poems".  It actually has more than at that link; it is two collections in one volume.  The second part of the book is just Poems by Rupert Brooke.  My eye happened upon "The Voice" first, in the second part of the volume and it made me laugh.  I'll let you listen to it first, being read by Heine Smek.

Further searches brought me to the Rupert Brooke's Society page and an article about his life in The New Yorker online.  After finding "The Treasure" written in August of 1914, in the book, I also found it online.  It was this one I decided to use for my Golden Shovel Poem.

The Treasure

by Rupert Brooke

When colour goes home into the eyes,
   And lights that shine are shut again,
With dancing girls and sweet birds' cries
   Behind the gateways of the brain;
And that no-place which gave them birth, shall close
The rainbow and the rose: -
Still may Time hold some golden space
   Where I'll unpack that scented store
Of song and flower and sky and face,
   And count, and touch, and turn them o'er,
Musing upon them; as a mother, who
Has watched her children all the rich day through,
Sits, quiet-handed, in the fading light,
When children sleep, ere night.
August 1914

I selected the highlighted line to write my "Golden Shovel Poem".   It came out in one sitting with no edits.  It must have been the right line.  And I think it was affected by the mood of "The Voice", as select words were lifted from that poem also.

Treasure in Night
from Rupert Brooke's "The Treasure"

She, in solitude, sits,
The night speaks in quiet
Voice and she is handed,
The keys to a thousand dreams in
Place of the
Touch of his hand, memory fading
As the sun makes real in the light.

by Donna JT Smith, May 29, 2017 (102 years later!)

Today is a day like no other.  Go find a poem to befriend!
There are definitely some great links being posted over at Buffy's Blog!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

First Thursday - Finding Joy

Today Margaret Simon is hosting Spiritual First Thursday and has offered the topic - finding joy.  I started writing this as soon as the reminder came out from Irene.  I wrote and thought I was all done.  Then I went back and looked at it.  A jumble of thoughts.  A patchwork of words.  I didn't like it.  So I'm starting again.  A REJOICE.

Finding joy is about rejoicing.  You can always find joy once.  But can you do it again?  Can you do it again when you really, really need it?

Imagine you have a cookie.  And when the cookie is gone, are you still happy?  Can you get happy again just by thinking about it?  Or do you have to have another cookie to bring back that state of mind?  Sometimes we feel so close to God the joy is palpable.  Then we distance ourselves, and the joy is diminished.  We need another "cookie".  We need another prayer, a talk, a walk.  You need to keep close to Him and that closeness will bring you the joy you are seeking.

It seems that you can be unhappy and still have joy in your heart.  It makes the times of unhappiness more bearable.  This is a something that, though it can't be seen, others can sense even when you are bearing a terrible load.  They can sense that your load is being carried by someone else along with you.  They can smell those chocolate chip cookies and see the crumbs!  Be ready to answer the questions they ask about finding some of that joy themselves... share your cookies!

Isaiah 12: 2-4
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

Once you find joy, it can bolster you and keep you strong through the worst of happenings.  How do you find it?  It is just a matter of remembering and turning to Him when the cookie's been eaten.  Actually, it's a good idea to return BEFORE the cookie is gone.
Joy doesn't need to come in "waves"; it can be a steady stream of rejoicing...a conveyor belt of joy!  Rejoice - Joy again!

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4

There's nothing better than to have joy again and again!

"Oh, rejoice in the Lord, He makes no mistake;
He knoweth the end of each path that I take;
And when I am tried
and purified,
I shall come forth as gold!"

The worst times don't have to be devoid of joy.  Joy allows you to be tried and still emerge strong.

Here's Ronald Hamilton and the story of how he came to be known at Patch the Pirate, and singing the song "Rejoice in the Lord" that he wrote about his experience (at about 4:13 if you just want the song).

Okay, now I'm tired!  I've rewritten all of this, and I hope it makes sense!  I'm setting this to post at midnight, and I'll read it again in the morning.

Actually I'm probably going to find more joy in reading all the other posts about finding joy more than rereading this one!