In Her Library, the Day Before She Dies–dVerse Poetry Forms, Sestina

Image: Pixabay
Labeled for non-commercial reuse.

In Her Library the Day Before She Dies
a Sestina

I enter, hear the ticking of a clock.
The room is dim; drawn shades withhold the light.
Tick, tock, tick, tock—the thunderous passing time,
a slant of sun showcases motes of dust.
How many months since she has entered here?
Crushing mementos of the years long past.

Each shelf embraces mem’ries of her past.
Too many are the num’rous raucous clocks.
That one says twelve, but two o’eight this here,
and one that’s stopped is shrouded from the light
(so like her mind, unused beneath the dust
of years now gone, of unrelenting time.)

Photos of kin that mark an older time,
when she had naught with which to mark her past.
Piles of books, themselves becoming dust:
a lusty novel cached behind a clock,
and one, more recent, titled “See the Light,”
inviting her to grasp each moment here.

A cordless phone, askew, I find right here.
The musty air, oppressive, scents of time
elapsed. Let’s open windows, let in light,
diffuse the moldy taste of all that’s past,
quiet the ceaseless marking of the clock,
breathe deeply air that’s fresh and free of dust.

I cannot shake that cringy feel of dust,
the peering stares of generations here,
the constant toll of years, the ticking clock,
reminding me of my own fleeting time,
that days creep onward, leave behind the past.
I cannot silence dread of dimming light.

I search within to find the source of light,
to free my spirit of malignant dust,
discover there abundant joy. The past
is gone and beauty dwells right here.
How gifted I have been through boundless time,
not measured by the menace of a clock.

I view the past through eyes of sacred light,
eschew the nagging clock, the grimy dust.
Embrace grace here and in this hallowed time.

The poetry form challenge at dVerse today is the challenging SESTINA and I am pleased to be hosting it. I have attempted to write this in iambic pentameter. I’d be grateful for any critique you have to offer.

Please don’t be afraid to give it a whirl. It’s quite fun.

Funereal Reflections

Photo: Wikipedia Commons--Labeled for Noncommercial Reuse

Photo: Wikipedia Commons–Labeled for Noncommercial Reuse

Funereal Reflections

The world moves on in timeless reverie
while doves o’er head turn westward to their homes, beyond.
Yon raven waits upon a gnarly tree.
Two empty spaces rest beside your tomb. For whom?
And night, tonight, descends on you alone.
We gather then, disperse and go our way, go home,
sure we shall live to tend another day.

Your life, a whisper in the ear of earth,
too soon forgotten by the race of men—so cold.
Can we embrace the promise of rebirth?
The blackbird swoops and preys upon a wren, more loss,
and we bare witness—cruel death again
invades a waking moment, ruptures ease, (such fear)
forsakes our very search for timeless peace.

This is my second poem for today’s prompt at dVerse Meeting the Bar. I took a poem I wrote in 2012 to Gay Cannon’s prompt for Rime Royal which demands strict adherence to iambic pentameter and a specific rhyme pattern and switched it up a bit, alternating iambic pentameter with hexameter (6 iambs), also known as alexandrine. Because Iambic Pentameter tends to be neutral, kind of like Tofu that depends on the flavors you add, I wanted to see what alternating rhythm would do to the mood. I’ll let you speak to it. Please check out the post on dVerse to learn more and bring a poem of your own.

Welcome, Sister Death–dVerse Poetics

Image: St. Francis of Assisi Wikipedia--labeled for non-commercial reuse.

Image: St. Francis of Assisi
Wikipedia–labeled for non-commercial reuse.

Today, Bjorn is hosting dVerse Poetics and asks us to reflect on Peace. My mind went to death, perhaps because I’m currently reading Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking.” From there, I thought of death’s I’ve witnessed over the years, many peaceful, some only after a struggle…then I remembered St. Francis of Assisi, who used to address death in the manner as I indicate in the title of this post. Francis is known for his love of animals, and for his Peace Prayer–a prayer almost universally recognized and open to persons of whatever spiritual bend. So, from there my peace poem was born. 

Welcome, Sister Death

I welcome Sister Death in autumn rains
or should She choose to call as snowflakes fall,
in spring, as early rains caress the earth
or summer’s heat, ‘neath fertile field’s smile.

She gently knocks upon my windowpane,
with branches painted crimson, orange and gold.
Such peacefulness I sense as leaves let go
surrendering to earth, unquestioning.

In dark times, deepest quiet covers earth,
reflecting light bestowed by its full moon.
My Sister whispers softly, “Come with Me,
behold the marvels that await you now.

The beckoning call of birdsong is Her voice,
as colors burst through earth in silent joy,
and flowering trees look to the morning sun
knowing that hope will follow their demise.

Beneath the wild excitement—summer’s gift,
small streams flow calmly to a river bed.
However incongruent Death may seem
I welcome all the promise She holds forth.

We hope to see you today at dVerse, with your own reflections on peace–so needed in our world today.

Listen to Drought Who Comes to Teach




Listen as our planet’s worries seep
onto dry land, the cracks of aging Earth.
No longer able to support her growth,
she’s faced, instead, with slow, incipient death.
Drought silences pure hope of her rebirth.
How, wonders she, shall she support new life.

Look closely, see the subtle signs of life.
Allow your hope to flow, at least to seep
into our land, so longing for rebirth.
Creation casts its lot upon the Earth
to stop the onslaught of impending death.
We wait, in vain, for rain to nourish growth.

Observe the baby duckling’s daily growth,
the blooming of our Jasmine’s fragrant life—
aware, the while, of nature’s dance with death
as life-force takes its leave and slowly seeps
away to make a place upon the earth.
Wake up in awe as springtime brings rebirth.

Now, hold your breath before the lands’ rebirth
and watch for blooms unfolding as new growth,
but pray for rain to fall once more on Earth,
to give the West the promise of new life.
Don’t let despair allow our world to seep
in entropy to reign, succumb to death.

Remember there’s a meaning to each death.
The seed that’s fallen offers us rebirth.
The song of birds into this morning seeps
to speak of joy to come and foretell growth.
Let not that joy deceive our quest for life
as drought casts doubt upon our fragile Earth.

We share responsibility for Earth,
the consequence of choices that bring death.
The future looks to us to care for life.
(Our children’s children are our own rebirth).
On us depends our world’s on-going growth
that truth we share in each of us may seep.

Bring life to Earth and tend to her rebirth
and bow to death who brings to us new growth.
Care for each life lest sweet Earth’s wounds shall seep.

Here in the West we face a terrible drought that has brought increased awareness to our need to conserve water.

When I face “word-drought” I like to turn to form poetry to find the discipline needed to write again. This is a Sestina in Iambic Pentameter. It is a first draft. The word “seep” was supposed to be “seed.” I couldn’t read my own writing. Seep is not an easy word for ending a sentence.

Written for and Linked to dVerse Poets’ Open Link Night. I hope you will join us to read and to bring a poem of your own.


The Seed–dVerse Poetics

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit.
John 12, 24



The Seed

Such joy we find, in spring, to plant a seed,

to tuck it deep within expectant earth
to wait, in hope, for summers verdant growth,
the offspring of apparent winter death,
a promise that we, too, shall know rebirth
when we, at last, have spent this fragile life.

You ask me why we long for lasting life?
Perhaps you’ve never sown a lowly seed
then seen that nature nurtures its rebirth
unnoticed, ‘neath the skin of Mother Earth.
So small this grain—defying endless death
while flaunting its capacity for growth.

Each seed, endowed with all required for growth
still needs attention to sustain its life,
thus lending meaning to apparent death.
They languish for both sun and rain, these seeds,
and nutrients—the gift of fertile earth,
then time is all that’s wanting for rebirth.

Does not your soul expect its own rebirth?
Does grace not foster spirit’s gentle growth?
And it is not our goal while here one earth
to search for meaning in these days of life?
Tend carefully the soil that bears the seed
and have no fear of your impending death.

The seed, itself, surrenders to its death
so that a flower or tree may know rebirth.
Such beauty shall be born of humble seed
embarking on a journey of new growth.
Thus is the cycle known to every life
that’s clothed in form while dwelling here on earth.

Too short the days we wander here on earth,
too soon we face inevitable death,
so each and every moment of this life
give cause to ponder our sublime rebirth,
to free ourselves for such abundant growth
that we fulfill the mission of the seed.

While here on earth prepare for this rebirth,
for it’s through death we shall achieve new growth.
In losing life you flourish, tiny seed.

Thanks to Shanyn who offer the prompt today for dVerse Poetics: the seed, potential, what can be! Stop by, read, and offer a poem of your own. The pub opens at 12:00 Noon EDT!

The Sestina:

A sestina is, for me, a fun, but challenging form to play with. It is a double tritina, using six, rather than three line-ending words. The secret is to choose words along a thematic line, then see where they take you. Should you want to give the form a whirl, this is the pattern: ABCDEF; FAEBDC; CFDABE; ECBFAD; DEACFB; BDFECA. A tercet concludes the rhyme scheme: ECA for ends of lines, BDF in the middle—thus, BE, DC, FA. Just for fun, try writing it using a meter, such as iambic pentameter.

Nurture–dVerse Poetics

The ants rush toward sweetness. I take away the melon, but first I spill a little melon juice on the counter.
Mary Oliver
Sand Dabs, Eight


A drop of Buddhist grace seeps in my core.
I hesitate then spray to check those ants
but guilt ensues, weighs heavily in my soul,
Yet, should spider dare invade, I squash.

Last week I wept—a neighbor’s trees chopped down.
I wept for feathers scattered in our yard,
for eggs unhatched, abandoned in their nest,
for grazing cows and sheep, doomed to be slain.

And do we know for sure grain feels no pain?
That brainless lobsters know no suffering
when dropped in boiling pots for our delight?
Does life exist to feed on other lives?

But soon enough I, too, shall go away—
my life snuffed out much like a candle’s flame.
And so the cycle’s endless rhythm flows,
as well it must make room for seedling’s growth.

Photo: Teri Herzog

Photo: Teri Herzog

A second offering for Mary’s prompt at dVerse Poetics–to write poetry inspired by a quotation.



Dante and Beatrice Image:

Dante and Beatrice

Voce 1

Life’s taken them for such a cruel drive
who walk this earth with no one at their side.
Who wait in dread the dark’ning of each night
and brood, releasing hope of dreams that lied,
exacting blood and tears as though to wage
revenge—reminding their poor souls, unsaved,
to spend each night repenting choices made,
repelling those who care, afraid to face
the truth. They wallow in the wounds they nurse.
They flee from fam’ly, friends and church.

Voce 2

Chill out, dear Dante, how you make it worse!
Remember that another paid the purse,
how you’ve been loved by one who calls you back.
So ditch the gloom. Rejoice, hold fast. Take that!

This is a delayed response to Tony’s Meeting the Bar prompt to write a Bout Rime. It needs a lot of work, especially the final quatrain. I wanted to lighten it up a bit but…any ideas? Linked to dVerse Open Link Night.

Jacaranda Rain–an Experiment in Line and Meter

Photo: David Slotto All Rights Reserved

Photo: David Slotto
All Rights Reserved

Jacaranda Rain–Free Verse

I am
the sun that slips
through blinds, half-closed.
Painting saffron stripes
on adobe walls.

I am
a bolt of fire
lighting up the skies,
singeing trees on mountain tops,
splitting limbs.

I am
the sheltered branches of Mulberry tree.
Broad leaf umbrella
shading you at noontime.

I am
the dance of light upon the moon,
hiding my passion behind
swaying palms,
kissing night in unseen places.

I am
the empty flute
the flautist left behind.
I await the breath of God
to fill the void.

Though I must leave,
I’ll come to you again—
a shower of purple petals
upon dew-covered sod.

Jacaranda Rain–Sonnet, Iambic Pentameter

I am the Sun that slips through blinds half-closed,
imprinting saffron stripes on textured walls.
I am a ball of fire that slashes clouds,
that singes trees on rugged mountain tops.

I am the spreading branch of Piñon Pine,
or Mullbr’y broad umbrella, leafy green.
I offer shade in sweltering summer time,
and home for mockingbirds’ delight in spring.

I am the dance of light upon the moon,
behind the palm tree fronds my passion plays
a tempting game—I kiss the darkest gloom
who yields to me at last, in hues of gray.

I am the flute the flautist left behind,
awaiting God’s own breath to fill the void.
I’m music whipped to life by restless wind
as nature’s sound, an echoing of joy.

May I return in showers of purple blooms—
a Jacaranda rain on grassy dew?

Thanks to Gay at dVerse Form for All for a comprehensive explanation of meter. She suggests taking a free verse poem you’ve already written and putting it into one of a number of meters that she describes.

This poem is the title poem of my soon-to-be published collection of poetry on Kindle. I also hope to have it available through Create Space. I would love your feedback–do you prefer the Sonnet or the Free Verse? 

By the way, my article, “Beating the Odds–Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia,” is available for free on Kindle through August 9th–that’s tomorrow, or perhaps today for many of you.