Excuse Me, Sir–Do You Have the Time? dVerse Poetics

Photo: Kyle Therrian

Photo: Kyle Therrian

Excuse me, Sir–do you have the time?

It’s time to watch the bees that ravish stems of lavender,
to listen to the cluck of quail, the song of wrens.

It’s time to hold our world, her pain, in caring arms,
to see great beauty in an aged face.

But can you tell me, sir, what time it is?

It’s time to feel your heart that beats within your chest,
to watch the setting sun slip out of view,

to touch the velvet smoothness of a rose,
or roughest skin upon acacia’s trunk.

Forgive now, for it’s time to heal the past,
to mend the wounds of rancor and of hate.

My watch has stopped, dear friend—
just let me know the time.

The time is now. It’s always, only now.

Photo: naturespaceandhope.com

Photo: naturespaceandhope.com


Written for dVerse Poetics where Mary has us reflecting on and writing about TIME. I suspect that, when I edit this, it will take on a few additional stanzas! Please take the time to stop by and enjoy. The doors open Tuesday, 3:00 PM EDT 

The Zen of Soup-Making: Monday Meanderings

Photo: cincinnatiwaldorschool.org

Photo: cincinnatiwaldorschool.org

Most everyone who has visited my blog knows that my husband is the cook. I’m the housekeeper and laundress, but he is the chef. That does not mean, however, that on occasion I’m not drawn to the kitchen.

The “occasion” began yesterday when I had the bone of a turkey breast to dispose of and decided, instead, to begin a pot of soup. I tossed it in a pot, added finely chopped celery, onions and carrots, water and chicken broth and left it on its own over a low heat. Soon the house was filled with an appetite-inducing aroma. I waited for the Master Chef to do his magic with the spices then, after it stewed some more, allowed it to cool before relegating it to the fridge overnight.

This morning, as it began to warm up again on the stove, I took it a step further. That was when I came to realize that soup-making could, indeed, become a sacred moment and a powerful tool of the creative muse.

As I cut chunks of carrots, the sounds of the blade against the cutting board wed the song of finches eating from the feeder outside the kitchen window. Two dogs sat, ears pricked, eyes fixed on my every move, hoping I would notice and reward them with a tiny morsel. When I switched to celery, their interest waned.


A few minutes later, a mallard couple stealthily made their way up from the pond, planning, no doubt, to encroach upon the smaller birds seed. I waved them off, reminding them that I would toss what was left onto their turf when the finches and sparrows had finished.

My chopping continued followed by clean up as I contemplated the wonder of simple tasks completed with awareness. It was a time to surrender to the stillness, to trust. A time to gestate.

Such is the magic of simple tasks, a spiritual discipline, an uncluttered mind.

On another note, I find I need to take some time to bring a couple of projects to completion. Although I will continue to post, my participation will be more limited for a while. I’ve made the difficult decision to step away from hosting a dVerse for a few months (after this weeks Meeting the Bar)–however long it takes me to publish a novel that’s sitting out there waiting for my attention. I’ve decided to go the route of self-publishing on this one. I will continue to share on-line, but in a more limited role. And I remain committed, of course, to comment on those who visit my work.

Wake Up and Be Inspired: Monday Meanderings


Photo Credit: Victoria Slotto

What a gift it is–those moments when I remember to notice life in detail. To stop and watch the diamonds scattered across the grass in early morning hours, to catch the sun, back-lighting the soft white fuzz of my dogs or breath in the scents of earth and jasmine in our garden. I wish that I could learn to be aware in each and every moment–that I could learn to silence the mindless conversations I have with myself, to let go of fears about the future or regrets about the past, to ignore gnawing worries about what others think.

An exercise I’ve used before that has been the source of a good number of poems is this: at the end of every day (or even as the day progresses) jot down some things that you notice…in detail. I like to create a list of ten. That takes a bit of concentration throughout the day. You may want to use the top of the hour as a reminder, stop what you’re doing and tune in to what’s around you. Be sure to include as many sensory details as you can.

Here’s an example:

1. In the West, large white clouds hang heavy on the mountains. Someone has painted their underbellies with a wash of Payne’s gray.
2. Sparky lies curled at my feet, head erect like a Sphinx, but his eyes are at half-mast.

Photo Credit: David Slotto

Photo Credit: David Slotto

3. A hummingbird perches on the feeder outside my window. I think he’s in love with his reflection.

You get the idea…Want to share some of the things you’re experiencing today? Or another way you’ve found to heighten your powers of observation.  Add a poem or short paragraph if you wish.

A hummingbird descends,


perfumed blood and honey.

Blankets of feathers

stagger across its

silken breast.

Photo Credit: David Slotto

Photo Credit: David Slotto


Beside the front porch, peonies
explode—vibrant, incarnadine
complex blooms. Petals cache
secret crevices, hold beauty close.

I want to linger.

Photo credit: scoutcapecod.blogspot.com

Photo credit: scoutcapecod.blogspot.com


A train at a standstill across
the river gasps for breath, hisses
its need to move along toward
destiny. Slow start, a wheeze.
It inches forward, heading East.

But I, I want to linger.

Photo credit: tahoebest.com

Photo credit: tahoebest.com

Two doves cavort from tree-
to-tree. Amid cheat grass, columbine
grows wild. The river rolls, no rush,
and sacred bird-song trills, thrills.

Oh, how I want to linger.

Photo credit: fineartamerica

Photo credit: fineartamerica

Back home my projects wait.
A newly crafted action plan—
dead-lines, set in bold typeface,
folders placed in toppling piles.

But still, I have to linger.

Photo credit: techstudentblog

Photo credit: techstudentblog

Recently, for Meeting the Bar, Anna Graham inspired us to write about velleity and volition.  The a-fore-mentioned action plan kept me from getting this done in time for MTB, but here it is. One of the best things about OLN is being able to play catch-up. This came to me a few days ago when I took the dogs on a walk along the Truckee river.

We hope you’ll join us Tuesday at 3:00 PM EDT over at the Poetry Pub.

Sunshine with Partial Cloudiness

Written for dVerse Poets’ Open Link Night--a reflection on  the meaning of Christmas.


Sunlight (Photo credit: Dave Stokes)

Sunshine, with Partial Cloudiness

You stop me cold.
I’m lost in a fog
of steam, thoughts
and ruminations.
Then you peek through
the shower glass,
enlighten a droplet
of water, burst colors—
prisms to interrupt
my distractions.

In a bubble forming
on my forearm, you capture
my attention again,
force me to the present
moment. I notice the play
of spray on my bare skin,
hear the colors of music.
Through almost-closed blinds,
your light slows
in song to praise,
to dissipate dark clouds,
naked tree branches.

Is this how it was
for shepherds grazing
their flocks that night?
For kings searching
to grasp mysteries?
For us common folk
who muddle through life,
grapple with violence?

The feather of a cedar
waxwing, snags on the
tree outside my window
flutters in the breeze.
I can’t see wind,
only discern its presence
by its effect on something
tangible. Children died.
But love shines through
if you look for it.

Yesterday in K-Mart,
at the LayAway counter
an older couple paid
down the debt of shoppers
who were delinquent,
scanning accounts that had
children’s toys. A younger
man, bearing no resemblance
whatsoever to Santa,
dropped $300 in cash
on the counter. “Add this
to whatever they do.”

So, where is the Sun?
So, where is the Son?

Merry Christmas to all! The Pub opens Tuesday, 15:00 EST. Hope to see as many of you as are able to make it. Don’t forget, you can join us on Wednesday, too.

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) eating berries

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) eating berries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Little Things

The kitchen counter’s sticky,
Handprints on the refrigerator door,
And white fuzz on the hardwood floor.
No matter how often I clean, try to
Keep our home perfect, I can’t.
For these small things, however, I’m grateful.
Unless you know I have a husband who
Loves to cook for me,
Little white dogs who want to cuddle,
You’ll wonder why I feel so blessed.

Sparky–Photo: D. Slotto

Today is Thanksgiving in the USA and as I meditated all I could notice was white dog hair all over my newly cleaned house. Then, when I went to the kitchen, everything I touched was sticky as my husband has thrown himself into creating culinary delights. I’m helplessly perfectionistic, but couldn’t help but realize these very things are among the many things for which I’m grateful–someone who cares enough to prepare a special lactose-free pumpkin pie using my special milk that he had to dehydrate, and my two beautiful dogs who teach me all about unconditional love.

Over at dVerse, the challenge for today is to write an acrostic poem centering on gratitude. My offering is not “perfect” poetry, but here it is anyway. We hope you’ll take a few moments to reflect on giving thanks, no matter where you are, or how imperfect your day may be.

Zoe, 2011 Photo: D. Slotto


Photo Credit: Michał Nowosielsk
123rfs.com (Copyrighted, used with permission)

I pause
to watch
a drop
of dew

to witness
the demise
of cosmic

await the
brilliant sparkle

of its color
a heart-
just before
it dis-

A sense
of sadness
this sacred

How can it be
that so much

Linked to dVerse Poets’ Pub Open Link Night where poets from all over the globe gather to drink in friendship and revel in one another’s creative work. Join us–offer up a poem of your own on any theme. The doors swing open at 1500 EST!

The Summer of 1948

The Summer of 1948

Photo Credit: Floyd Bariscale/Google Images

I perch in my pepper tree.
Pungent scents, fingered
leaves embrace me.
A lady bug, dressed in red
with black polka dots
climbs my arm, tickles.

Ocean sand, white as the rind
of a watermelon, clings to my
bare toes.
Only hours ago I ran through it,
reaching out, stretching to catch

The smell of hot concrete
dampened by rain showers
lingers along with DDT
sprayed from a can with a
plunger like a bicycle pump.

I slip down the gnarly trunk,
enter the house by the
screen door near the
Bendix with the ringer where
Mama found a black widow

She’s melting a blue cube
of laundry starch
in hot water.

“Did you know I’m four
and a half today?”
I ask. She nods, smiles.
The black fan whirrs
in the background.

“Go on over to Stewie’s,” she says.
“It’s almost time for
Kukla, Fran and Ollie.”

Cross-legged on the floor
I watch the 12” screen,

Understand I am.

Fun his-tory/her-story prompt today at dVerse,  offered by Brian Miller. This is a really old one about a time way back when.  Hope you are able to read…Google Chrome users (only) are getting weird messages. I have no idea how to correct.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Writing the Mundane

Traubensaft Schaum 1

Image via Wikipedia

For today’s prompt I’d like to invite you to write a poem or short prose about some aspect of your everyday life: laundry, vacuuming, struggling with the photocopier at work, walking the dogs, or cooking for example. Try to make it rich in sensory detail.

This challenge invites us to awareness, an attribute that promises to enrich us as writers.

Here’s my effort–a Haiku

Washing Dishes

sun pierces window

creates rainbows in bubbles

caressing my hands

Wordsmith Wednesday–Some More Thoughts about Description

Allegory of the Five Senses

Image via Wikipedia

The more I read, the more I realize the critical role of description–involving all the senses–in the telling of a story. It is through sensory input that we engage in our world. So many of us today rush through life. Always in a hurry, we don’t take the time to notice the beauty of cloud formations, the scent of honey-suckle, the colors of the sunset or the caress of a summer breeze. Sucked into the vortex of Ipods, texting–even blogs–it’s easy to succumb to the inevitability of a life lived vicariously. So, offer your reader the joys he or she may be missing. Invite them to become more aware. This goes whether you write fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction or…you name it.

Here are a few more considerations to bear in mind when writing description:

  • Good description does not have to be flowery, purple prose kind of stuff. Avoid extensive use of hyperbole, adjectives, adverbs. Go for active verbs when you can.
  • Description isn’t only about what you see. Train yourself to become aware of all your senses. Keep notes about your experiences in your writing journal so that you can refer to them for inspiration.
  • Use description to express emotion. It’s that old “show, don’t tell” advice. Become aware of how your body responds when you’re happy, afraid–whatever. Go ahead and jot that down in your journal, too.
  • Don’t be afraid to describe the ugly, the scary, the difficult, the gruesome, even. This is all part of life, isn’t it?
  • Description doesn’t have to be lengthy, rambling. Tighten up your narrative, but make every word count. I’m sure that when reading you, like me, have been guilty of skimming lengthy paragraphs of description that have taken you out of the story line.
  • When writing short fiction, limit description to those things that will contribute to the story line.

Suggestion: to develop your own awareness, get in the habit of journaling each day. Jot down some memories of things you’ve observed. Go beyond the visual. Cultivate awareness.

If you haven’t written anything for this weeks Monday Morning Writing Prompt, I hope you’ll join us. Maybe some of these suggestions will help you.

Reminder–I will be off-line for a few days beginning tomorrow and will do my best to catch up when I get home. With luck, I’ll be able to do my part for MMWP!

(The image is entitled The Allegory of the Five Senses.)