The Poet Looks Out the Window

The Poet Looks Out the Window
Minute Poetry

Oh, bless this tree outside my room—
a home, a womb
where words are born,
a page adorned—
poet’s enclave,
creative cave.

These branches beckon many birds
with songs sans words.
They bring us joy,
distress destroy,
plaintive cries, too,
to mourn with you.

And there above, I spy a nest.
Robin Redbreast?
Perhaps a Jay?
Oh look! Today,
sweet finch I see.
Inspire me!

Photo: Victoria Slotto
View from My Office “Treehouse”

Today at dVerse MTB Frank Hubeny invites us to try Minute Poetry. Don’t be afraid of this very fun form. It seemed daunting to me at first, but when I diagrammed it, I found it to be easy enough with the help of My ornamental pear tree looks a bit shabby right now because the harsh winter and severe winds was causing it to damage our house and we had to have it pruned. But when it’s at it best, in autumn, it is truly a delight and the migrating birds love the tiny pears that are just for them, not humans.

Please join us–give it a whirl. BTW, this poem is also inspired by Lillian’s window prompt from Tuesday Poetics.


Did Orpheus Have Wings?




Orpheus is what I would call him
were he mine to name—
this still figure, shrouded in a white hoodie,
sitting beside the even stiller waters
each morning—earlier than most.
I watch him from my kitchen window—
this offspring of gods. Why did they call him human?

He towers above his peers, peers down on them
with dark eyes and an expressionless visage.
Waiting for the words to come? For sudden inspiration
that once received, he accepts, incubates, and births?
Waiting in the stillness for his muse to show herself?
Or waiting for the wisdom of the gods
to nourish his own.

Is he, as I suspect, a poet?
Or is it that in his contemplative silence
I ascribe to him my sacred aspirations?
Would that I be bound to him, to this ephemera!
Would that, I too, drink deeply of this nature,
unfurl, then, my own white wings, and fly!

Photo: Graham Owen

Photo: Graham Owen


My last post was so negative and after reading “Steverino’s” interview on dVerse Pub Talk, I had to put up something more inspiring. Please drop over and enjoy Laurie Kolp’s conversation with Steve Elsaessar who blogs at The Fourth Dimension.

And if I”m slow to return your visits, check out this morning’s rant about my Internet providers.

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

A Season for Growing–Monday Meanderings

Even though the calendar tells me it’s still spring, our weather doesn’t seem to have received the message. The temperatures are in the high 80’s and 90’s and the garden is coming alive with new growth. True, the irises are fading, the roses are behind time because I pruned them too late, most weeds have been tamed but the leaves on our trees are fully unfurled, there are green cherries taking in the sun, and the tomatoes my husband started from seed while we were in the desert are already giving us little green globes of promise. Oh, and then there’s the birds! The orioles and hummingbirds have now arrived home in full force.

Photo Credit: V. Slotto

Photo Credit: V. Slotto

Just so, I’m hoping to cultivate some new growth on my blog. When I first began blogging, it was my intention to include some inspirational essays–a desire, no doubt, related to my own introspective aging process. In addition, for a year or two, maybe longer, I enjoyed offering writing prompts–for both fiction and poetry. As I became (happily) more involved in poetry communities, especially as a monthly contributor to dVerse Poets’ Pub, I slipped into the languid waters of poetry and allowed other interests to wash away for a while.

Photo Credit: D. Slotto

Photo Credit: D. Slotto

Now I feel it’s time to reclaim those two original ideals. It is my hope to be able to add a Monday feature that will offer a reflection, a writing prompt, perhaps an occasional interview or even book review…whatever happens. When there is a prompt or an invitation to discuss, I will include a Mr. Linky and respond to comments and/or return visits.

I chose Monday with the thought that those who drop in to read my dVerse poems for Open Link Night might scroll on down for another shot of inspiration. I would love to see you there and welcome your thoughts today, in comments.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:


Monday Morning Writing Prompt–A Day of Refreshment

I took this photograph while climbing Angora R...

Image via Wikipedia

I just returned home from a day away from the computer, playing and enjoying the beauty of nature at and on beautiful Lake Tahoe. Many of us who write tend to be homebodies, or even a bit reclusive. I’m including myself in that group. But a day away, a day of refreshment for body and soul can serve to inspire.

For today’s prompt, I’d like you to think about a place you’d choose to go or an activity you’d like to engage in for a bit of respite…if only for a day. It can be a setting near you, or somewhere that you travel to only in your imagination. You might want to focus on the details of the environment or paint in broad brush strokes how your getaway inspires.

Enjoy your armchair one-day vacation and consider sharing it with the rest of us! Don’t forget that this prompt is open to either prose or poetry. I will post mine as soon as it’s written!

I’ve gotten sophisticated now, so here’s Mr. Linky:

Wordsmith Wednesday: More About Haiku

Basho by Basho by Sugiyama Sanpû (1647-1732)

Image via Wikipedia

“In this mortal frame of mine…there is something called a wind-swept spirit, for it is much like thin drapery that is torn and swept away at the slightest stir of the wind.” Basho, 1687

Last week when I had limited Internet access I had time to read Jane Hirschfield’s informative and beautifully written book on Haiku: “The Heart of Haiku.” Focused on the life and works of the 17th Century Japanese word artist (and I would say, mystic) Basho, Hirschfield peppers her exposition with elegant examples and succinct instruction.

Most of the time, after I’ve completed reading a book on Kindle, I send it to the archives at Amazon and then recall it if there’s something I want to rehash. This book, however, will reside on my device both as a source of instruction and inspiration.

Here are a few brief points that I would like to share with you about the art of Haiku:

  • Unless something is seen with a fresh eye, it is not worth writing down. (after Basho)
  • While English Haiku is written using the 5-7-5 syllable line structure, Japanese poetry is based on sounds.
  • Haiku always evokes a season, either by name or association.
  • Haiku offers the chance to make emotional, spiritual and psychological discoveries.
  • Haiku seeks to eliminate the space between the poet and the object of his poem. This allows the poet to truly perceive the object.
  • The new perception becomes the basis for an inner response on the part of the poet and reader.
  • The five-line Tanka (or Waka) preceded the Haiku. The syllable count for Tanka is 5-7-5-7-7.
  • Another poetic form called Renga consists of 3 and 2 line stanzas that build on one another. This form lends itself to collaborative poetry.
  • Basho taught: “If you have three or four, or even five or seven extra syllables, but the poem still sounds good, don’t worry about it.”

I strongly recommend “The Heart of Haiku” to anyone who loves this poetic form, has an interest in Zen Buddhism, or just wants to write poetry in which every word resounds.

For this weeks conversation, I am posting a Haiku that I wrote and would love to see you build on it in a collaborative effort. So when you visit this post, read all the comments and use the last Haiku posted as a prompt for your own that you will then add to the comments. I hope there will be enough of a response that I can compile them into a separate post. Of course, you will be acknowledged for your contribution.

Here’s the introductory Haiku:

Morning sun wakens

Arouses a ruddy sky

With his tender touch.

For more information on the Haiku form, you may want to visit my previous post: “True Haiku” written in June of this year:

And this, my friends, is my 500th post! Thank you for all your encouragement.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Art Inspiring Art

Low-resolution reproduction of screenshot from...

Image via Wikipedia

Oftentimes, art of one genre will inspire another form of art. Think of novels that have morphed into movies, mythological stories that have inspired opera, painting or art, or just about any art form that tickles the poet’s muse.

For this week’s prompt, I’d like to invite you to go to the movies, listen to a symphony or visit an art museum. A trip back in your memory will also do. Take in the experience with all your senses and let your inner poet loose and see what comes out. Ventures into prose are also welcome.

Here’s a poem that I wrote after watching an old movie on Turner Classic Movies. In it I tried to capture some of the elements of the film noir genre:

Film Noir

Radiance cuts through
a haze of smoke.
The room is full of bad guys.
Heads turn
when you walk in.
Evil disrobes
itself of ugliness—
evil masked
in moonlight.

We inhabit a world
cast in black and white.
of gray.
Life in shadowed frames
by the moon.

Femme fatale,
a leaf tossed about
in the wind,
I hand myself over to you
and wind up
in the gutter.

Convoluted roads
we follow.
Convoluted plots
shaded in deception.
left to die
next to a pile of garbage
in the corner
of a stinkin’ alley.

Because of you
I accept
my wasted life.

Don’t forget to link your work in the comments section of the post. I will be offline this week but will respond as soon as I can.

Wordsmith Wednesday–Cultivating Inspiration

Photo: David Slotto/Mt. Whitney

Originally posted May 2010.

Today I’m facing a similar situation as I prepare to leave town to attend a funeral of my cousin who died yesterday. Hope you don’t mind the repost but I’m banking on the fact that not many have read this before.

(Written after a visit to Palm Desert.)

The drive home and challenges of unpacking have prevented writing and blogging time over the last few days. However, that doesn’t mean that demands of life have the right to completely stifle the creative process. Tuning into silence, probing the Within, heightening sensory perception–all of these contribute to enrich sensory description, theme, symbolism and plot. It’s good to be home but the return to normalcy is still a ways off. In the meantime, I’ll grab a minute here, jot some notes there. And when my writing routine begins to re-emerge, I’ll have a wealth of material to turn to. Successful writing depends on cultivating awareness.

For discussion: how do you deal with writing interruptions? Does it affect your sense of well-being?

This photo is part of the inspiring view we see driving between Reno and Palm Desert (Highway 395) taken in January 2011

Delete and Dump or ?–On Revising

Mac OS X trash icon when it contains files.

Image via Wikipedia

Today I took some time to garden, cutting back some of the plants spent by the early onset of cold weather in Reno (it was 36 at our house this morning). Grass has invaded the flower garden and only a few splashes of color remind us of the beauty that visited us during the long spring we had this year.

As I was pruning and dead-heading, my mind wandered to the manuscript inside, waiting for me to get serious about completing a third edit. A writing buddy, Pam, is the first one to have read it and she returned the manuscript with her notes a week or so ago. I’ve avoided sitting down and facing those comments. I remember the pain of cutting scenes when I was rewriting “Winter is Past.” I confess to falling in love with my words and having to abort them hurt me to the core. But they didn’t move the plot forward…or worse, they dragged the reader, kicking and screaming, out of the story.

What did I do with those short descriptions or lengthier scenes? Sadly, some of them ended up in the recycle bin or wastebasket, only to be annihilated when I cleaned computer files or emptied the trash, but after a while I got smart and made a file where I cut and pasted my discarded work. A few have woven their way into or even inspired a poem. One became the basis of a (very dark) short story. Others are on hold, waiting for me to rescue them from the limbo of sub-existence. Maybe I’ll pay them a visit and see what happens.

I have another idea brewing, though. It came to me when I was struggling with the climbing rose, trying to get her to go in the direction I wanted. Maybe we could start a little dump site for these rejected pieces of prose or poetry…a place on my blog where you can share your beloved rejects and give them another chance at life. Any thoughts on this? Please comment, if you would.