Poetry Lives

Photo: David Slotto

Poetry Lives

She sips poetry,
gulps color, texture,
darkness, light.

She covers cold-
ness, emanates warmth
strokes coarse, jagged bark.

She shields innocence,
shelters the poor,
embraces the wonton.

She revels in birdsong,
delights in tender moments,
blesses beauty’s gifts.

She sips life.
She sips death.

Written for dVerse Quadrille, including the wonderful word “Sip.” This is the first poem I’ve written this year. It’s good to be here with you after a long drought.

Skiing Through Life

Photo: Pixnio
Labeled for non-commercial reuse

Skiing Through Life
a Quadrille

Sturdy as a rock,
supple as a tree branch,
gentle as a mother
with her newborn baby,

high as a star,
deep as mountain lakes,
you hurl yourself
into your future—
letting go, risking, leaping,
landing with a bounce,
crunching leaves
in winter white.

A quadrille with the four words offered so far. Join us at dVerse Quadrille–the prompt word for this week is bounce.

life–dVerse Haibun Monday

Cedar Wax Wings--Source Unknown


around me
(though chill seeps in)
life flourishes

winter birds
cull berries from leafless trees
drink from rainwater puddles

a lone purple flower
flaunts beauty at
my garden gate

three weeks ago today
i was there to receive
her last breath

eternal life flourishes

On October 30th, I arrived in Huntington Beach, California, to celebrate my almost-96 year old mother’s birthday on November 5th. I spoke to her the day before I left and she was happy I was coming, telling me, as she did quite often, “Don’t forget you are my little girl!”

When I arrived, I found that she was non-responsive. The night before she had told her caregiver that she was tired and was ready to die. The following day, she did just that–peacefully and with loved ones at her side.

I returned home yesterday, after three weeks sans Internet, tending to what I term “the business of dying.” That explains my absence. I have a lot of catching up to do here at home, so I may not be real present this week either, but wanted to take advantage of today’s wonderful Quadrille prompt at dVerse that asks us to use the word “breath” in any of its forms in a poem of exactly 44 words. Please join us. Little by little, I will get around to reading yours.


sometimes i am so happy it hurts–dVerse Monday Quadrille

sometimes i am so happy it hurts
a quadrille

yesterday i am
play of shadow and of light
sunset’s watercolor sky

fragile day-lily
letting go her brief yet lovely life

today the texture of a sturdy bark
free flow of cool water
tiny finch whose song is all she has

This week, for the Monday Quadrille prompt at dVerse, Lillian challenges us to paint a self-portrait in exactly 44 words. Whew.

The title of this poem came to me last evening while I was doing dishes, looking out the kitchen window where my husband kept watch over our two small white dogs, romping in the grass. This morning, when I woke up, the poem appeared.

Please join us for this most challenging prompt. This week there is no word that we have to use. Have fun.

Intaglio–dVerse Open Link Night

Photo: mac-monkey.com.uk

Photo: mac-monkey.com.uk


The story of life unfolds—
not in lines
forged by a stylus on copper—
but in choices
we etch each day.

For more information on this printmaking art form, click on the poem title–and to learn about a free Kindle Give Away of my novel, “The Sin of His Father,” check my previous post or click here.



• :pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color
• :the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art
• :the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character)

Photo: remiart.deviantart.com

Photo: remiart.deviantart.com


you evoke strong texture
broad slashes of pain
spidery intaglio wrinkled into skin,
into soul.

movement of transient light
sweeps away shadows
that puddle into crevices of mountain slopes.

i’ve vivid memories of soft touches,
feathery stroke imbuing patterns of grace
into the emptiness of night.

why do you mock me now?

A very rough draft penned using random words selected from Gardner’s Art History text book. I wrote this for the theme of art as metaphor that I offered today for dVerse Meeting the Bar. Please join us.


Photo: V. Slotto

Photo: V. Slotto

a Self-Portrait

The process of oxidation takes time.
Today the scent of Mother’s silver polish
transports me back to 1957
when I was yet untarnished.

My task in these, my later years—
rediscover the original patina
without losing the texture.

Brian’s prompt over at dVerse sent my mind into overdrive. He asks us to write a self-portrait. I was looking for something metaphoric and today, when cleaning out the kitchen I uncovered these silver grapefruit spoons…and glass polish she used to use for silverware. I can’t wait to see where others have taken this prompt. I hope you’ll join us.

outside the window, life goes on

Photo: Victoria Slotto March, 2011

Photo: Victoria Slotto
March, 2011

outside my window, our neighbor putters in her garden.
her roses languish while weeds have their way.

chemo, a fourth round, has taken its toll.
a few wispy hairs blow in the soft breeze.

i close my door gently behind me and we exchange a quick hug.
fear of crushing fragile bones holds me back a little

though her spirit soars, strong, unwavering
like the circling hawk above us, sun on golden wings.

at a distance a blackbird caws,
while hummingbird savors nectar,

drinks in the sweetness of the moment,
unafraid of that which is to come.

Join us at dVerse Poetics where Shanyn invites us to take a look out the window and write about it.

Photo: David Slotto April, 2012

Photo: David Slotto
April, 2012


Photo Credit: kingplumbingma.com

Photo Credit: kingplumbingma.com

This morning I frittered two
hours and forty-seven minutes
in the garden, pulling weeds and
deadheading flowers.

In the afternoon I
exfoliated, using homemade
bath salts stored in
a Vlasic pickle jar.
Spent epithelial cells sloughed
from my body, swirled
down the drain.

The summer I was
thirteen, our next-door neighbor
watched us, hands cupped around
her eyes, over
the redwood fence.
(We pretended we didn’t see her).

By the time school started,
she was dead of a brain tumor.

© Victoria Slotto 2008

Linked to dVerse Poetics where the theme offered by Kelvin S-M is poetry that happens in the bathroom. There should be some fun things happening here to day.

Process Note: There are obscure references to numerology in this. In the Tarot the Death Card is Number 13. All of the numbers in the poem relate to this.

Hot Chocolate and Mary

The leaves of an elm splash
dappled sunlight on the forest
floor. A chill lingers in the
air so we share hot chocolate
from a thermos, pour the creamy
liquid into insulated mugs.

Age does not prevent her
from sprawling on the earth
she loves so passionately.
She leans against the tree’s
stout trunk, says, “I’m yours.”

My mouth is dry like when
the dentist stuffs it full of
cotton rolls. Disbelief numbs
me till she laughs—a sound
as real as songs of her beloved
birds that sing their prayers
in unison from the surrounding
branches and marshy meadows.

“I’m yours,” she says again,
reminding me I’m here to do
the interview I’ve wished for,
nurtured in my imagination
since I discovered her.

“Your life,” I coax, knowing
that but a single word suffices.

As for myself
I swung the door open and there was
The wordless singing world. And I ran for my life.

“You ran to it?”

“Yes, immersed myself in beauty.”
While on and on the sparrow sings.

“And aging? If you don’t mind, that is.”

In the deep fall, don’t you imagine the leaves think
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth…?”

…and what shall I wish for myself but,
being so struck by the lightning of years
to live with what is left, loving.

“Any regrets?”

There wasn’t
time enough for all the wonderful things
I could think of to do

In a single day…

“If you could choreograph your death?”

…Maybe on a midsummer night’s eve,
And without fanfare.

“About death?”

So it is
if the heart has devoted itself to love, there is
not a single inch of emptiness. Gladness gleams
all the way to the grave.

“And after?”

If there’s a temple, I haven’t found it yet,
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of grass
and the weeds.

She takes her leave.
I watch her walk across the fields,
stopping to listen
or to follow the flight of a heron.
She’s alone now
with Percy her dog
and memories of having lived well.



I would do just about anything to spend an hour with Mary Oliver, a poet who has touched my life and my writing so deeply. This is an imagined interview. The responses in italics are all snippets of her poetry chosen from the Volume “New and Selected Poems, Volume Two.” I wrote this in response to Claudia’s prompt on Saturday but didn’t have time to develop it beyond an idea. So here it is, linked to dVerse Poets Open Link Night. The mics are open Tuesday, 3:00 EST. Check it out!