dVerse Poetics–Independence

Photo: V. Slotto


Independence–a Haibun

Last year I gawked for hours as mother robin sat in the messy nest she and her mate constructed with care in the tree outside my office window. After a while, three hungry beaks appeared above the rim of their security—scrawny maws gapping, twittering, waiting to be sated. The biggest one bullied, grasped in greed for tender morsels and twitching insects. He fledged first and quickly left for good. A few days later, always watching, I saw the smaller ones, carefully coached, dare tentative leaps into the ether of their tiny cosmos. And finally they flew, abandoning the known for our back yard.

summer sings freedom
quaking aspen sheltering
life’s risky moments

The second day, broken hearted, I scooped up a tiny body. I couldn’t really scold my Jack Russell as she only followed her instincts. I wept inside, considering the cost of being free.

Joining my friends at dVerse Poets Pub Poetics where we are asked to write about what we see or have seen out the window. 

A Visit–dVerse Monday Quadrille

Photo: istock
Labeled for non-commercial reuse

A Visit
a Quadrille

I find him on the porch,
frame stooped, cobbled by years
of loss and melancholic memories.

Eyes dimmed, he turns within—
hears the music of birdsong,
inhales the scent of lavender,

tastes the sweetness of this moment
when friends stop by,
and hug him.

Linked to dVerse Quadrille Monday where De asks us for a poem of exactly 44 words, excluding title. The word of the week is COBBLE or any of its forms. Join us and have fun.

Grandmother’s Collection–dVerse Quadrille Monday

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Grandmother’s Collection

I gather feathers—memories
of color, flight, texture and joy,
she said

and flowers pressed within
the pages of a heavy tome.

Close to my breast—the loves
of countless years. Thus,

within these twisting rivers, blue,
upon my gnarly hands,
I gather hope.

A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words, excluding the title. This week Lillian at dVerse asks us to use the word GATHER in our offering. You are invited to join in, read and share a poem at dVerse Haibun Monday

Useless, Broken Things–dVerse OLN

Useless, Broken Things

In a forgotten cupboard,
behind an empty box,
I find stories, covered in dust

A child’s teddy bear,
ragged, torn,
forgotten years ago.

A toddler’s shoe,
wrinkled, scuffed.
Worn for her first steps?

Inside her lonely room,
an old lady turns frayed pages
of her memory.

She kisses photos’ tattered edges,
and wishes, once again,
to hear the sounds of laughter.

In a forgotten cupboard,
behind an empty box,
I find toys, cover them with tears.

Posted for dVerse OLN, hosted by Grace. Please join us.

Labeled for non-commercial reuse

Seamstress–dVerse Quadrille


She sits in her window,
in the old white rocker,
sewing shadow-memories
into a cohesive whole.

She’s alone now—
no one with whom to share
beauty, the texture of her life,
peppered with pain and giving.

Sunshine seeps through
half-opened blinds.
Still she waits.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons--Labeled for Non-commercial reuse.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons–Labeled for Non-commercial reuse.

A second Quadrille for De’s prompt at dVerse Poets’ Pub…a poem of 44 words, using the given word SHADOW. Please join us.

My original response to this prompt is here.

Hibiscus–dVerse Quadrille

Today, I’m hosting at dVerse Poets’ Pub for Monday Quadrille #16. A Quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words, no more, no less, exclusive of the title. I’m asking you to use any form of the word OPEN within the poem itself. Here’s mine:

Photo: V, Slotto

Photo: V, Slotto


in awe-tinged silence
i watch petals unfurl
opening upon beauty
cached within—
softness charged with
life-giving energy.

sun glows
through flower-skin,
brings to mind
moments we shared
in the desert,
garden-joy i cherish.

would that i could
unlock memories
hidden within
your beautiful soul.

Please join us at 3:00 PM, EDT.

Star Jasmine–Prompt Nights

Nothing is more memorable than Scent-thus we are prompted by Sanaa at Prompt Nights. I’ve been remiss in participating in this lovely poet’s weekly events but this week, I would like to share an older poem, from 2012:

Photo: Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan, May 2006 NikonD70s MicroNikkor 60mm Labeled for noncommercial reuse.

Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan, May 2006
NikonD70s MicroNikkor 60mm
Labeled for noncommercial reuse.

Star Jasmine

They say that fragrance and memory
stroll hand-in-hand
into the past.

I rediscover innocence
on a California evening
in the desert.

This delicate flower has an unforgettable, heady fragrance. We have two plants in the desert, where they thrive. We tried desperately to grow them here but they are not enamored of freezing temperatures. They bring to mind vivid memories of growing up in Southern California.

Thank you, Sanaa, for the lovely prompts.

Enduring Love

Photo: pexels.com labeled for non-commercial reuse

Photo: pexels.com
labeled for non-commercial reuse

love that endures
a sestina

you sit beside the hearth and dream
of years long past, of youth
those days so filled with dance, with life
that you do not forget
you walked in worlds of swirling greens
gave birth beneath the sky

you revel ‘neath cerulean skies
and catch a glimpse of dreams
and thus the burgeoning of green
as you reclaim your youth
those signs of spring you won’t forget
for you still pulse with life

in aging, still you sing of life
your eyes reflect the sky
you smile at love you can’t forget
those memories of dreams
fulfilled when you were full of youth
midst flowers, in fields green

you stood by him in days of green
he held you throughout life
you gave each other joys of youth
‘neath bound’ry of the sky
he was the answer to your dreams
you never will forget

a love that’s easy to forget
cherishes flowers, the green
of grass and sun, the blissful dream—
can these endure through life
when clouds obscure the blue, blue sky
and aging foils youth

how easy to enjoy one’s youth
and facile to forget
the promise made ‘neath azur skies
delight-filled days of green
yet to endure the stuff of life
we need more than to dream

beyond your youth, those days of green
(lest you forget) the greatest life
soars to the skies, surpasses dreams

Throughout the month in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day, much is written about love–most of which is about younger people, with an erotic twist quite often. Today, I want to write about love that has lasted throughout the ups and downs of a relationship, of the years. Love that the Greeks refer to as agape, love that is about the choices we make for the well-being of another. I have been privileged to witness that sort of love in my life as a nurse, when a caregiver puts aside oneself for the sake of his ill or cognitively impaired loved one.

I wrote this in response to a challenge from a fellow poet, Bjorn, to write a sestina in which the end words of each line follow a specific pattern throughout six stanzas, each of six lines, ending with a tercet that uses the six words in internal rhyme, also following a pattern. If you want to learn more about this complex form, go here

I will post this for OLN on Thursday and on my Christian Blog: Be Still and Know That I Am God. I am also linking this to Sanaa Rizvi’s Prompt Nights.


back to the future

San Marino, California My home town

San Marino, California–Photo: Melvin Hale
My home town

Back to the Future

were I to tell you of those years,
a canvas washed in yellow joy, the only
years in my lifetime

that we knew peace

you would believe me
delusional, a liar, just-plain-nuts

those years when crisis
meant sharing mom’s 55 buick
“The War of the Keys”
with a sis-
ter older than I by
7 months

or how she
ran with the popular kids
while I read Flaubert and
Greek trage-
dies (irae)
with other eggheads.

we’d fill the tank on
dad’s credit line
at twenty-
five cents a gallon

have groceries delivered
from Tipton’s meat market
by a pimple-faced kid
(I had the crush but
he wanted her)

yellow summer uniforms
wool plaid in California
cold—saddle oxfords
or white bucks, socks rolled
down and duck tails.

the fire escape,
the fire drills
that birthed our fear of heights
the school (building now condemned)

walk to the Copa
after school for cherry
and boys
from San Marino High.

now gas is $3.73 a gallon
i’m still afraid of heights,
my hair is should be gray,
sun shines golden on the snow
and Cris is gone.

Ramona Convent Secondary School as it was back then.

Ramona Convent Secondary School
as it was back then.

My widowed mom married a widower with a daughter my age in 1952 when we were 7 years old. To say our relationship was challenged is putting it mildly since we were in the same grade in the same school throughout. Thankfully, as adults, the competition evaporated and we were friends. Sadly, I lost Cris in 2004, age 61, to pancreatic cancer.

This is in response to Amy’s guest prompt for dVerse meeting the bar where we are writing free verse, timing ourselves for 9 minutes only, about a period of time in our lives. I chose my teen years, late 50’s, very early 60’s.

I’m more comfortable with a bit of poetic structure, so this is a bit awkward. But it should be fun to read everyone’s mini-memoirs. Most will be, no doubt, a lot more exciting than mine. The 50’s were, well, pretty tame but we didn’t know any better.

they say that smell is the sense most associated with memory

Photo: The Daily Mail

Photo: The Daily Mail

they say that sense is the smell most associated with memory
a haibun

My first day of the first year of school, way back in 1948, calls to mind the sawdust scent of freshly sharpened #2 pencils, that pungent/musty smell of cheap, tan-colored paper with pale green lines spaced so that when we wee ones wrote we could differentiate between upper and lower case letters.

We arrived sparkling clean, a cloud of Ivory soap, or, perhaps, Camay, surrounding us—hair in tight pigtails, parted down the middle with bows around the rubber-bands. I still remember that sweet fragrance of bars of blue starch melted in warm water the day before we were to return. It’s aroma lingered on stiff white fabric of the blouses of my ugly school uniform. By the end of the day, the starch had melted, the snowy fabric bore reminders of rough-housing recesses and bows hung limply, untied.

“oh, Mommy, don’t go
the sun says it’s still too warm
for me to grow up

Today, I can’t smell peanut butter, or the sulfuric scents of hard-boiled eggs that my mom packed into the metal lunch box without remembering. Over time, it acquired its own unique nose, blending assorted meals with a bit of rust. The squat thermos reeked of sour milk.


This morning was the first day of kindergarten here in Washoe County. We encountered a small child, sandwiched between Mommy and Daddy, clinging to them…a portrait of fear, a resurgence of memory.

“ ‘morning little one”
it’s too soon, you know, for school
summer still beckons.

Linked to dVerse Poetics where we are writing about the first day of school. Please join us.