Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prompt #143 – National Poetry Month 2013

National Poetry Month, established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 begins on April 1st!  This month-long celebration of poetry is held every April “to widen the attention of individuals and the media to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern.” During April, poets, poetry lovers, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and schools throughout the US celebrate poetry.

One of the challenges of NPM is to read and/or write a poem every day. So ... in the spirit of the observance, as I’ve done for the past few years, I offer you an inspiration word or phrase and a related poem for each of April’s thirty days. You may wish to read, write, or do both. Keep in mind that writing a poem a day doesn’t mean you have to “finish” each poem immediately. You can write a draft each day and set your drafts aside to work on later.

And … if you write a poem that relates to an inspiration word, don’t feel obligated to write anything that resembles the example poem in content or style. Give the topic your own spin!

As always, your sharing is welcome, 
so please be sure to post your thoughts and poems as comments!

Regular weekly prompts will resume on May 4th.
In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful and poetry-filled April!
Happy National Poetry Month!

April 1
Fools/April Fools
“I’m a Fool to Love You” by Cornelius Eady

April 2
“Just Before April Came” by Carl Sandburg

April 3
“Yesterday” by W. S. Merwin

April 4
“My Turn to Confess” by Charles Simic

April 5
“Momentum” by Catherine Doty

April 6
“Dust” by Dorianne Laux

April 7
“The White Birds” by William Butler Yeats

April 8
“Rhapsody on a Windy Night” by T. S. Eliot

April 9
“Security” by William Stafford

April 10
“Song for the Rainy Season” by Elizabeth Bishop

April 11
“Remembrance” by Rainer Maria Rilke

April 12
“Walkers with the Dawn” by Langston Hughes

April 13
“Solitude” by Anna Akhmatova

April 14
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

April 15
“Water Music” by Robert Creeley

April 16
“Here and Now” by Stephen Dunn

April 17
Love Letters
My Father’s Love Letters” by Yusef Komunyakaa

April 18
Time and Space
“Theories of Time and Space” by Natasha Trethewey

April 19
“Why Regret” by Galway Kinnell

April 20
“The Portrait” by Stanley Kunitz

April 21
“Afternoon on a Hill” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

April 22
“seeker of truth” by e.e. cummings

April 23
“The Secret” by Denise Levertov

April 24
“The Journey” by Mary Oliver

April 25
“Prayer” by Jorie Graham

April 26
“A Blessing” by James Wright

April 27
“A Calling” by Maxine Kumin

April 28
“Gospel” by Phillip Levine

April 29
“Spring Comes on the World” by Emily Dickinson

April 30
“Happiness” by Raymond Carver


  1. Looks like I'm the first to comment (once again)! Adele, this is brilliant! Thank you so much for all the time and attention to detail that you put into this blog. Now we have a whole month of inspiration and examples to enjoy.

    Happy Easter tomorrow!

    1. Thanks so much, Jamie! Your kind words are much appreciated! Happy Easter!

    2. National Poetry Month is a real celebration on this blog! I love the prompts and all the wonderful poems that get posted in response. Thanks, Adele!

  2. Here we are in another first day of April. I often connect in my mind April's Fool with the unpredictability of life and the kinds of games and paradoxes and dilemmas she offers.

    I had just finished a meditation course with Deepak Chopra and it struck me how he emphasized the connection between the thoughts we send from our brain and how they are received and processed by the cells in our body. So, reading about all the financial problems in the world, I had a hard time processing the article, while staying positive and fostering the health in my body. I wrote this poem:


    The meditation course,
    I just completed, says
    we create perfect health

    by messages our
    brain sends to cells
    in our body.

    So, now that I read today's
    article in the Times, on
    troubled countries,

    Euro collapse,
    US unemployment and
    pending bubble bursts

    what message, dear April's fool,
    what message will I
    send to my body?

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. WONDERFUL, Basil! Definitely a "message" for thought.

      Thanks so much for participating once again in National Poetry Month's poem-a-day!

    2. Basil! So glad you're back!

      I really enjoyed your 30 poems last year and look forward to this year's.

    3. Thanks for your welcoming words, Jamie.


  3. Hi everybody, good to be back and meet "old friends"

    There is such an immersion in poetry all around us every April. We need more poets and readers in the world.


  4. When I read Sandburg's poem I was in a world where the cold and miseries of winter had left and animals were waking up and the poet was getting in touch with nature all around him. And, suddenly, he is aware of all the diverse pulsating fauna, being different and apart from him. Yet, he is willing to consider them as people and leaves the door open to that idea at the end of his poem.

    The poem that took life from his image centered on my emotions from the loss of my cousin eleven years ago. Although the winter shock of his loss is gone, I am in touch with so many memories of playing with him and I am making space for these memories to emerge and be experienced with new eyes.


    We threw
    our toys
    into the ditch
    of the gatehouse

    we outran each other
    to the castle
    and hid behind
    its crenelations
    and shot at the enemies.

    We raced paper boats
    in the stream
    by the maple tree spring and
    calls of our mothers

    to dinner. Then,
    you got up
    and left us
    for ever

    and now
    I can only see you
    in pictures
    your sister scans and
    sends me over the Internet.

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. Thanks so much for including the "preface." It's always wonderful to know what a poet thought and felt in relation to the poem. It's wonderful, too, to remember and honor your cousin with such beautiful memories in words. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    2. Bravo, Basil! A great start to National Poetry Month!

      I may not comment every day, Adele, but I'll be reading the posts and writing away. (I'm hoping that my wife will join in on some of the prompts.)

    3. Rich,
      Thank you for your kind words! I am glad you are part of this community here on Adele's Poetry Blog.

  5. OMG
    I just passes a skeleton
    of a cat on the sidewalk

    I lied

    I just lost the diamond ring you gave me
    it fell down the sink

    I lied

    I lie and tell stories all the time
    I must be a fool
    all year round!

    1. Thanks, Risa, for sharing! I love the funny/serious tone—perfect for the April fool theme!

  6. It is April 3rd, 2013 and the prompt is Merwin's poem YESTERDAY.

    This poem is such a heart breaker.

    Who has never regretted lost time he could have spent with a parent? Or never felt sorry for something he could have given to a loved one who is no longer alive?

    I have regretted so many times for both of these as I recall my relationship with my father.


    Taken time to tell you
    each morning I counted
    your steps fade as you walked
    to work and I felt guilty
    you had to get up so early.

    Taken time to ask you
    how in your early farming years
    learned to read
    and play the reed
    on your own.

    I could have asked you to tell me
    how you built sheep folds of
    stone walls and four sticks to hold
    a roof made of cloth to care for
    your flocks in the storms.

    And I could have told you
    — that when we lived in the city —
    my favorite dream for years
    was being with you on a
    stormy night with a fire

    inside the fold. I am scared
    of the thunderstorm but you
    tell me it is okay, put a log in
    the fire and nod me over to rest
    my head on your lap.

    Inside the dream, I dream
    you stroke my hair
    and tell me you are proud
    of me as your son.
    And the rain stops and the night

    turns to a morning of
    mountain peace
    and love that needs no expression.
    The sun hits the earth with low angle
    rays; the air is warming. We are happy.

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. What a beautiful way to honor your father's memory! Thanks so much for sharing, Basil!

  7. Karen Morgan (Detroit)April 3, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    I'm new to your blog and just wanted to tell you how much I'm enjoying the National Poetry Month example poems and the readers' poems posted as comments. I look forward to the rest of April!

    1. Welcome, Karen, and thanks so much for your comment. I hope you'll come back often and continue to enjoy the blog.

  8. It is April 4, 2013 and the prompting poem is "My Turn to Confess" by Charles Simic. To me, the encouragement I get as a poet from from this poem is to acknowledge the unorthodox thoughts and images and stay with them, no matter where they lead and how close to the absurd they may take you.

    I am an immigrant and I often reflect on the price an immigrant pays by leaving his/her country and home. Not only in terms of what he/she loses (family, friends and country) but in terms of the elevated expectations of herself/himself. What goes through their minds when they don't meet those expectations. Or, what happens to those, like the case of my uncle Nick, who lost it all.


    My new friend
    shows me fishermen's
    Cannon shots
    from his trip to Myanmar
    and I throw

    the fishing nets
    from the shots
    over the clothesline
    of an ethnic
    neighborhood where

    my uncle Nick
    used to keep a
    grocery store
    in Buenos Aires,
    but Juan Peron's

    inflation policies
    closed the store
    and sent his widow home.
    He is now officially a member
    of the dead Greek diaspora

    who entered the
    fruit! garden
    and came out
    empty handed.
    I will visit

    his grave on my next
    trip and send you
    my photo by his nameless
    head stone
    to prove he is still there.

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. WOW! This is fantastic! Thanks again for sharing!

  9. Replies
    1. Thank you Risa. I value your comment. It comes from someone who knows how to describe the texture of loss, as your poem about Puddy so aptly demonstrates.

  10. Before April 1st
    Stars hung in an indigo sky
    Before April 1st
    Birds sang heartily every morning
    There was Puddy
    My darling cat
    After April 1st
    Stars shine
    Birds sing
    And Puddy is no longer
    Life continues

    1. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know how much you loved Puddy. Thank you for sharing your beautiful poem.

    2. I'm sorry too, Risa. I know how much it hurts to lost a pet you love. May you remember her always with love and a joy that is greater than grief.

  11. It is April 5th and the prompting poem for memories is MOMENTUM by Catherine Doty. For me this poem is one of the most powerful and complex poems I have read, blending emotion and memory, anger and sadness about the mindless bravado that took a life. It tells so much, WITHOUT telling it all in excruciating detail. What I would have given to come up with a line like "the hillside wears your shoes!!!!"

    For me most of my "good" memories relate to the beauty of the Greek scapes where I grew up. In Greece this invariably leads to water...


    I stand outside
    the rental
    island home.

    The tourists are gone,
    life at mid-day lull,
    no buzz, just off season calm.

    I peek around
    the kitchen’s
    half open door.

    Fish sizzle in the pan,
    mother chops lettuce.
    Father uncorks

    a bottle of wine.
    He fills
    the glasses,

    takes a sip,
    sighs and
    rustles the paper.

    Mother calls us
    to wash up and
    come to lunch.

    My brother turns
    the faucet on
    and — unexpectedly —

    my wife breaks the daydream.
    Time to go, she says.
    I turn to leave. A seagull

    reads my mood and
    wails as he
    flies off over the water.

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. Basil, thanks so much! Your intros add a special note to your poems! It's always a pleasure to read your work!

    2. Thank you Adele. I always value your comments and encouragement.

    3. Confessions

      I admit
      I enjoy my lower, baser self
      Rising thoughts of revenge
      invigorate and excite
      And when the high wears off
      I crash and burn
      with guilt and remorse
      at losing to
      my reactive mind

    4. A million yesterdays
      have come and gone
      Ah, there goes another one
      yet another
      I can only look forward
      into the future
      without sunglasses

    5. Memories

      Oh you wild orange tabby
      The "m" on your forhead
      your stripes and dots
      a true American breed
      Oh you wild orange tabby
      to the end
      Oh you wild orange tabby
      and forever

    6. Wonderful, Risa! Thanks so much for sharing—so much heart and soul in your words.

    7. I'm just catching up, Risa, and want to tell you how courageous your poems are. Your spirit of sharing and community (posting your lovely poems for us to enjoy) is very special. Thank you!

  12. It is April 6th and the prompting poem by Dorrianne Laux is "Dust." I liked how the poem juxtaposes "presence," to lack of awareness. The former makes us deeply experience the uviversal (on a granular dust level) the latter deprives us.

    As if dust is the permanent essence of everything. Then, "from dust to dust" takes a new meaning. It makes us perceive life and death differently - as an assembly of two rewinding ends continuum. In my poem the temporal continuity of an emotion, difficult as it is, is the evidence that emotions leave their fingerprints on our lives forever and make them richer, wiser, intimate and private.


    When the plane that
    brings me back
    flies over the city
    my mind fills with grains
    of that old dust storm.

    It has been
    more than 40 years
    now. And it makes no
    difference, what once
    I felt for you—

    I went west but
    the storm

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. Very nice, Basil! Thanks again for sharing each day! Bouquets to you!

  13. It is April 7th and the prompting poem is "The White Birds" by W.B. Yeats. For me predominant themes of this poem revolve around timelessness and bliss - things that couples in love wished they could always have. Yet, we (and they) know that these are only wishes. And the yearnings of the couple in love will be contrasted by the hard realities: Youth leaves and bliss is not for ever in life.

    I played with an alternate Pantoum format, and this is the first draft of what came out:


    I would that we were, my beloved, white birds
    on the foam of the sea! (W.B. Yeats)

    And the two white birds
    that fly above our bed
    timelessness they suggest
    but we know better we have little of.

    They fly above our bed
    sign of a lost bliss
    but we know better we have little of
    our youth will fly too.

    Sign of a lost bliss
    and in our grey years
    our youth will fly too
    our teachers were wrong

    and in our grey years
    we'll smile from ears to ears
    our teachers were wrong
    I want you now to hold me tight and long.

    By Basil Rouskas

  14. April 8, 2013 and the prompting poem "Rhapsody on a Windy Night" has surrealistic, nightmarish quality to it. I have no idea how this poem came into my mind but I have often had my own nightmares when I felt a total lack of control for something I am responsible. I would imagine a young conductor could have this nightmare.:


    The orchestra rehearses
    the first two bars of music
    before the drummer
    throws his sticks and
    walks off the floor.

    The other musicians also get up
    and on their own decide to take their tea break.
    The maintenance man
    sweeps the stage and, silent,
    leaves for home.

    Performance time,
    the audience seated,
    the piano tuned,
    the concertmaster's job done,
    and all is ready but me.

    I hold my baton high,
    make eye contact with all sections,
    but I cannot proceed:
    A piece of sharp grain is stuck
    on the lips of the opening clarinetist

    The General Manager,
    not checking with me,
    makes the final announcement:
    Due to technical problems we cancel
    the performance - refunds will be promptly issued.

    By Basil Rouskas

  15. It is April 9, 2013 and Stafford's prompting poem is all about security - the more we seek security the less we discover in life.

    I found a poem I had written in 1975, in Greek. A little dated, but it was interesting that it, also, dealt with matters of the seas...


    This ship
    is sailing nowhere soon.
    It dropped anchor

    long ago
    and the sneaky wharf
    grew barnacles on its belly.

    Its crew and captain
    got used to drinking beer
    than mending sails.

    But, son, to find new islands
    you gotta risk
    the open sea.

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. I love the way some of our old poems inform the current work. Thanks for sharing this and all the other poems! Something special for us to savor each day!

    2. Ditto to what Adele wrote!

  16. It is April 10th and the prompting theme is "Rain."


    The cloud
    decided to
    go to therapy

    and all it took was
    one question by
    the psychologist:

    The rain
    fell like
    a vertical river

    cleansed the
    pollen off the leaves
    rinsed the air

    catalyzed fully
    the torrent of
    our reunion.

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. Basil, forgive me for not commenting individually on your poems, but please accept my sincerest congrats on the way you've responded to each day's inspiration and example. Not only are the poems wonderful, but your introductions are a personal note that invites us, as readers, into your poems in a special way. Many thanks!

    2. Jamie,
      Thank you for what you wrote and how you said it. Ours is a special community that has been enjoying the celebration of April as the Poetry Month.

  17. Wind

    Gentle tropical breezes
    blow billows of gauzy fabric
    through open slated windows
    every moment

    1. Risa,
      I love the suggestive, evocative mood you create in just five lines.

  18. Sand

    the sand of time
    in corners
    on doors
    bed sheets

    I sweep
    the sand of time

    1. Very nice, Risa—always your inimitable, minimalist style!

  19. Birds

    sounds of highway traffic
    like waves
    serenaded by
    tunes of
    seasonal snowbirds

    1. "Snowbirds" is a clue to "living in Florida!" Thanks for sharing, Risa!

  20. Today is April 11th and the prompting theme is Remembrance. I spent most of summer vacations in a little village high on the mountains of Greece. That is where I played with my cousins, got to see the life of the village, played with animals and took in all the beauty of unspoiled nature.
    This poem is born out of these precious unforgettable memories.


    And if you soar like an eagle and if you build your nest amidst the stars… (OBADIAH 1)

    I first saw eagles' nests
    on vacation,
    in my father's village,
    on the mountains
    of central Greece.

    We found the chicks
    in a crack of a rock,
    high, by the last switch-back
    of the dirt road
    to the village.

    We kept our distance
    to avoid an attack
    by the parents, and,
    binoculars in hand,
    waited for the eagles' return.

    The birds fed
    their chicks in
    the fir-needles-lined nest
    and prepped them
    for sleep.

    The half moon would rise,
    the stars would light up,
    and in wonder we stretched
    those minutes before
    heading home for dinner.

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. I chose "Remembrance" for April 11th because it would have been my mom and dad's 71st wedding anniversary. I thought of them a lot all day, and I was so happy to read your poem, which goes in a very different "memory direction." Thanks so much for sharing!

  21. Today's April 12th and theme is DAWN.

    In my poem, I play with the possible reasons for the strong association between a visual and the word "Dawn." Here it goes:


    When I hear "dawn"
    I recall the picture of
    the eastern sky
    of a small airstrip,
    someplace in the midwest.

    A small plane outline
    emerges in the
    dim yellow light
    and the silhouettes of
    a man and a woman

    ready to climb
    the steps to fly.
    It was the early
    days of color photography.
    The artist asked for thirty dollars.

    I didn't buy it. But, I never forgot it.

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. Wonderful, Basil! Such a universal theme: things we passed by and have never forgotten.

  22. Kudos to Basil and Risa for their observance of national Poetry Month here on "The Music In It!"

  23. Today is April 13, 2013 and Adele's prompt is Solitude.

    For me "solitude" is connected with cold. I cannot find the reference, but I believe the French poet Paul Eluard came up with the line: "If we did not love, the world would be a frozen solitude."

    My poem was driven by the imagery of a couple who live in Siberia. She senses that the difficulties of life over the years are changing the way he loves her. So, she reaches out to remind him of their love and its power to sustain hope and life (through the seasonal cycles.)


    I fear years of arctic winters
    changed the angle of your
    elbow when we hug.

    And though we know how well grizzlies
    and cubs fight the cold in their dens,
    we take for granted what holds us together.

    With no love between us
    the world would be
    a frozen solitude,

    the streams wouldn't thaw,
    the days wouldn't get longer,
    irises wouldn't bloom.

    By Basil Rouskas

    1. Wonderful, Basil! Profound simplicity!

    2. Without your intro, this could be about any couple in love, anywhere in time or place. A good read, Basil!

  24. Today, April 14, 2013, the prompt is DECISIONS.

    It is one of my biggest decisions in life to choose to come to America. My dad insisted that I become a teacher in the town I describe in the poem. My mom supported me to pursue my dream and come to the USA.


    I dreamed of a lemon tree
    in the back yard of a downtown
    house of a small Mediterranean city
    with narrow streets untouched by progress.

    Homes on top of family run storefronts
    trucks and busses in cobblestone streets
    in tight turns as tires screech their way into
    skimpy parking.

    That is the city I would have lived in,
    had I followed my father’s advice to be
    a teacher near his birthplace in Greece.
    Instead, I came to America.

    By Basil Rouskas

  25. Tomorrow is April 15th, 2013.

    The prompt for the day is MUSIC:


    Summer music
    wakes me with the
    of Black River.

    Midday, the hummingbirds'
    snare drums roll into
    evening oboe calls
    from the wood thrush.

    the buzz
    of cicadas
    rules for the night!

    Basil Rouskas

    1. Basil, you're amazing! I can hardly keep up with you!

      This poem successfully evokes a strong sense of nature's "summer music."

      Keep 'em coming!

    2. I agree with Adele, Basil, you are amazing! And so is Risa! A big "THANK YOU" to both of you!

    3. I certainly appreciate the good words, Jamie.

  26. Today is Arpil 16th, 2013 and the prompt is LOVE

    I was reflecting on Shakespeare's lines "... love is not love which alters when it alteration finds..."

    Today is my wedding anniversary. As my wife and I exchange gifts and celebrate our marriage, I think that love changes as we change, emerging with new pursuits, and new needs. These thoughts led me to this first draft:


    Yes, love is love
    that alters when
    natural alteration

    finds. it is the grain
    that yields to harvest,
    the flour

    that rises
    to dough
    and bakes to bread.

    It is the table
    on which we share it
    with those we love.

    Basil Rouskas

  27. Today is April 17th, 2013 and the prompt is LOVE LETTERS.

    I am reading a book in which the plot moves by love letters between the main characters. It strikes me that in today's world, we may send a quick email or short text message, but we don't take the time to write letters to lovers, famly members or friends. We mostly talk. Out spoken words are not fully baked or sometimes impatient or wrong.
    There was a Latin proverb that sums us my thought-it is in the poem below:


    We tied them with a string
    stored them in locked drawers,
    went on with life, forgot them,

    until a son or daughter
    found them settling
    our estate.

    They wanted no surprises
    and turned them over to
    the executor

    who was just as busy
    and wanted prompt closure
    of the chapter as well.

    Now, we write no love
    letters. We pick up the
    phone and talk, but

    Spoken Words Fly
    Written Words Remain*

    *Verba Volant
    Scripta Manent (Latin Proverb)

    By Basil Rouskas

  28. Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)April 16, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    Such richness! How lovely to read the response poems along with the inspiration words and example poems! Thanks to all!

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

    1. So great to see that our community is global. Hello Ireland!

  29. I'm a reader from Australia (Queensland). I don't post comments (too shy to share), but I love the blog and thank you all for the posts and comments. Always wonderful stuff!

    1. Welcome, Mary Ann! Thanks so much for your kind words.

  30. Hello down under in Queensland!

  31. Today is April 18, 2013 and the prompting poem is Natasha Trethewey's THEORIES OF TIME AND SPACE.

    When I read this poem I am in a surrealist capsule of a time warp of "otherness."

    The feeling reminded me of an image I had when I was recently in Philladelphia. Sitting on a hotel terrace, I had a view of the old rusty decommissioned war ships. I thought of the old US glory and might during the 40's and contrasted it with the current (2011) problems of outsourcing and deficits and unemployment. The poem is the result of that reflection.


    The river opens its mouth to Chesapeake’s salty waters
    and the evening fog veils the decommissioned ships
    left here from post war years of naval glory.
    Philly commuters take Ben Franklin bridge to the

    North Eastern burbs, where the cannons point.
    Executives on the converted subs,
    sip cocktails to forget deals struck with
    overseas partners who then made them money

    but now will eat their lunch
    and strand them on these rusty hulls
    right here on the water front
    of the Camden Navy Yards

    Basil Rouskas

  32. Jago's touch:

    I poeti che brutte creature
    ogni volta che parlano è una truffa.

    Poets what ugly creatures
    every time they speak is a fraud

    ( Gregori)

    1. Welcome back, Jago! I've missed your comments!

      I'm not quite certain what this quote is about but suspect that there's a larger context.

      My Italian is very rusty, but here's something you might enjoy:

    2. Very well, Jamie! The quote is just from the song you found in you tube.
      Could you understand the poem, I mean, the song?

      Ciao. e ciao anche ad Adele


    (String Theory: in physics, all the different particles and forces of the universe are composed of wriggling strands of energy whose properties depend solely on the mode of their vibration. Understand the properties of those strands, and you will understand why the universe is the way it is. The latest version is now called M-theory and states there are ten to the five hundredth power models of physics, ( give or take a few trillion). Each model corresponds to an actual place - another universe as real as our own. It's no longer a universe, but a megaverse).

    In another universe
    Jesus is a woman.
    have notes attached.
    Nancy Leonard didn't get polio when her boy Jim was one
    and didn't have to spend thirty years in an iron lung.
    Dogs live seventy-five years.

    In another universe
    my body doesn't betray me and I don't have cancer
    nor do I own a double plot at Forest lawn.
    Ellen doesn't have to hang the shirts she brought home from the dry cleaners
    on the ironing board, doesn't have to fry up some onions and garlic
    for when her husband comes home.
    Teenage mothers are sought after for parental advice.
    All disease is cured with chocolate.

    In another universe
    getting struck by lightning
    brings good luck.
    Popcorn tastes as good as it smells.
    Widows don't have to learn the trick that
    crying in the shower hides your tears.
    Good books never end.
    Fat ankles are symbols of terrifying beauty.
    Faith can be purchased at the corner drug store
    for a song.
    The Ten Commandments become just three:
    Fall asleep.
    Fall in love.
    Fall down, skin your knee.

    In another universe
    I will not become an old woman painting bad pictures.
    You will always whistle in the next room.
    We will all sleep
    as the mountain sleeps.

    In the end
    we are all
    the sum
    of our experiences.
    We are
    the sum
    of all
    our experiences.

    And we ride that thin thread,
    that Pegasus,
    like fatigue is irrelevant,
    like a state of emergency exists.

    Alison M. Bailey

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Alison!

    2. Alison,
      This is fascinating

    3. Thanks for posting your poem, Alison! I hope you'll share again!

  34. Jamie,
    I checked the Youtube link you posted. I enjoyed the music and the performer.

  35. Jago,

    I have a friend whose Italian is more fluent than mine. When I asked him to help find the poem from which you quoted, he found this on YouTube. His translations were helpful while listening.


  36. Security

    The kids looked disapprovingly
    at my latest hair style
    Remaining the same outwardly
    was better
    A latent sense of insecurity
    held in check
    by repetition and seeming sameness

    1. "Seeming sameness"—something with which we can all identify in one way or another. Thanks so much for sharing!

  37. Today is Arpil 19th , 2013. The prompt is REGRETS

    When I read Kinnell's poem I find my self in a conflicted position: On the one hand I "read" a mindset of "it is what it is and there is no reason questioning, nature knows best." This acceptance mindset is of great value in gratfulness and I realize that.

    Yet, I am more comfortable in a space of the human choice. Where we can question nature? We can ask the question "What if ..." How could we have made better choices? What did we learn?

    I take a challenge to Kinnell's butterfly. I am questionning what do we learn, how do we evolve as a species if we don't have regrets??


    No it is not true
    you wouldn't do
    things differently
    In your unusual life cycle
    (larva to one-day life Monarch) —

    you just don't have the time
    to have regrets.

    You cannot tell me
    living in streams under rocks
    and feeding on rotting weeds
    for years,
    you wouldn't change a thing —

    you just don't have the time
    to have regrets.

    But in my case
    I have time in my hands
    to recall laughter
    with other children
    in our dancing rounds

    I have time to ponder the lives
    of mother and father and
    to relive homeland
    departure calls and to regret
    the hurts I put on others.

    And if all is well in your life
    (lived the way it was meant to be)
    and if you made no mistakes,
    have no regrets, what will you do differently
    in your next life?

    What can you teach me about my regrets?

    1. Very insightful comments in your introduction, Basil, and a wonderfully thought-provoking poem. Thanks so much for sharing!

    2. Regrets ... always there no matter how we live learn around them. Thanks for sharing this poem, Basil.

  38. You know

    I couldn’t see you in this sub-urban cemetery

    Among horrible myrtle bushes and the green moss growing on my

    But, God, you’re so beautiful

    Among these horrible myrtle bushes and

    …quest'erbetta stenta

    e inodora, dove violetta si sprofonda

    l'atmosfera, con un brivido di menta,

    o fieno marcio…"

    No,these are not my lines

    I wish!

    These are by Pasolini, “ Le Ceneri di Gramsci”

    1. Amazing imagery. Pasolini's genius is clear in any language! Thanks for sharing, Jago!

    2. Jago, Pasolini is amazing but not well known or widely read here in England. Is he better know in your country?

  39. It is April 20th, 2013 and the prompting poem is PORTRAITS


    In her cotton white dress my cousin
    stands holding on to
    the ropes of the swing set.

    Her younger brother and I
    sit on the swings to her left and right.
    The spa building, long and white,

    poses behind us. Mother looks pleased.
    A kerchief covers her head. No people,
    the lagoon is cradling a boat,

    and we're all barefoot.
    Father not in the picture,
    (still in the city or in the spa?)

    A rocky hill frames the scape
    and we soak sun on the pebble beach
    before heading home for lunch.

    This is the portrait of the magic island
    I owned before I grew up,
    and stopped using the swings.

    Basil Rouskas

  40. AFTERNOON is the prompt poem for today, April 21, 213.

    There was an instant connection with Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem. I started writing immediately and the finished poem needed very little work. Issues of decisions, choices, revisiting life's key events, my family, my immigration to America, my career, my marriage in Hawaii, blended together without any thinking...


    I will visit my parents'
    village, in the old country,
    light the wick of the olive oil lamp

    on their grave and thank them for
    life. I will then cross the Atlantic,
    by plane this time, and greet the statue

    with new eyes. I'll skip the MBA classes
    and corporate suites but will
    revisit Grand Canyon.

    There, I will soar with the birds
    on the high thermals
    and lead them west

    to Hanalei Beach where
    I married you. There, we'll rest
    and wait for the evening together.

    Basil Rouskas

    1. I love the title ... and the poem! Absolutely beautiful (and a great dismount). What a lovely gift to give your wife!

  41. Pasolini is well known in Italy, but unfurtunately I think he is not so well known among young people.
    I'm sorry, I don't traslate the lines of Pasolini:

    "...this poor herbe so meager
    and odourless, where violet
    the atmosphere sinks in
    with a shiver of mint or rotten hay..."

    Really "dangerous" this translation!

    On my blog :

    and a wonderful spanish translation by Elena Tardonato

    ..".este pasto débil
    e inodoro, donde se hunde violeta
    la atmósfera, con un temblor de menta
    o heno podrido...

    here :

    1. Jago, There are a number of little-known genius poets whose work is stunning. Thank you for drawing attention to Pasolini and for your comments!

    2. Pasolini's films are equally powerful. So, glad we are discussing poetic expression across other languages in this Blog!

    3. Today is April 22, 2013 and the prompt is TRUTH.

      I find it a sad commentary on our lifestyle that we don't know our neighbors. It takes a crime or a horrible deed by someone in our neighborhood to get to know the truth about them.

      We look at the TV reporter and say: "He looked like such good guy..."


      For years our lawns
      (professionally cut)
      faced each other,

      edges trimmed,
      trees pruned,
      perennials planted,

      and soil weeded
      around the
      mail boxes.

      And then they moved.

      Phone calls slowed
      and then stopped.
      Nothing for two years,

      and then a letter.
      No name in the
      sender’s address

      but a number
      preceded by a
      capital “I”.

      It started with an
      apology, he couldn’t tell us
      more, but hoped

      when he’d come out
      next year we could be
      friends again.

      Basil Rouskas

    4. I recently saw a tape of Pasolini's "Canterbury Tales"—what an amazing interpretation.

    5. Basil, your poem expresses the vagaries of some relationships and the hopefulness of reconnecting despite a period of absence.

    6. Our prompt for today, April 23, 2013 is Denise Levertov's poem SECRETS.

      The poem, with a wonderful "finesse", pokes fun at people who read poetry in a shallow, opinionated way - they claim to see deep messages that others (let alone the poet) don't. They are not poetry readers but spin artists.

      In my opinion, even worse, when poets use the art to differentiate themselves through artificial techniques, they do very little to promote real poetry.


      Why do I need a dictionary to
      translate your words,
      a history book for names of
      characters to "get"
      your message?

      I am at a loss for your line breaks
      and (though willing to chuck
      the punctuation rules)
      I find your cerebral
      acrobatics an off-putting chore,

      a self aggrandizing treatise...
      Put a chamomile compress
      on my tired eyes, tell me stories
      to fall asleep by and ward off
      the night dragons.

      If you want to take me
      out on the lake to sway them
      I'll follow you,
      but make it an adventure
      not a prep study for an exam!

      Thank you!

      Basil Rouskas

    7. I found his Canterbury Tales on YouTube and I am watching it as we speak.

    8. I hear you, Basil! Like so much of the "current poetry" that plays with language for no apparent reason other than the manipulation of words (not poetry to me)!

      Thanks for this refreshingly honest poem with a fantastic last stanza!

    9. Thanks Jamie.
      I am really concerned when I see those kinds of poems appearing in "reputable" websites with an increased frequency. As every form of art, poetry will experiment. I welcome this and cherish it. But when the art and craft becomes a free for all, then I refuse to read it. I don't see myself as a crusader. So, this is not a polemic and will not cancel my subscriptions to the hosting websites - I am just vending.

    10. April 24, 2013 and the prompt is Mary Oliver's poem THE JOURNEY.

      I like Oliver's poem for the way it describes the complex process of finding what is true for us and then creating the language to express it. The following poem from my book Redrawing Borders, (Finishing Line Press) describes an aspect of that journey for me.


      He approached the
      park bench and
      asked me if I mind.
      He straightened his aged back
      lit up his pipe and in his
      dreamy voice started his story:

      My buddies and I dreamed
      we would join the revolution
      in Algeria
      but instead wound up
      with MBAs
      in New York City.

      The best years
      of our youth
      we read Karl Marx,
      added Das Kapital
      to our non published
      credentials, the ones we

      slept on for years, the ones we
      mixed with milk and cereal in
      the mornings before commutes
      to corporate castles,
      with fully partitioned
      offices and private secretaries.

      And then came the morning
      when the new boss announced he
      wanted me in Puerto Rico;
      he suggested, with a straight face,
      I grow a moustache “to be like them”
      and run the local branch.

      It was the morning before
      the evening when I said my first big
      “no” to the Castle Prince.
      I often wonder, my friend,
      where I would now be, had I not
      made that turn.

      The old man then asked me
      about the turns in my life
      and I told him
      if I’d been born a generation before
      I would have fought
      Franco in Spain,

      I would have written
      like Beckett, and…
      -- with his open palm up,
      he motioned me to stop. He
      said to me - -

      The past is gone
      the future does not exist
      and all we have is “now.”

      The sun dipped below the
      tree line. He and I got up and
      walked in the same direction.

      At the park exit, I realized he
      was gone, the warmth of his pipe
      still in my hand.

      Basil Rouskas

    11. In rereading my poem YOUR ESOTERIC POEM I found a mistake in the last stanza: The word "sway" needs to be replaced by "slay"

      My apologies,


  42. In my comment to Jamie earlier today, I meant to say "venting", not "vending!!"
    I'd better quit my commentary and postings today. I must be tired.

    1. Beware the dreaded Typosaurus! (Typos happen to all of us!)

  43. Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)April 23, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Adele, I'm so enjoying the ideas, examples, and responses! Thank you for this yearly treat of thoughts and words.

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

    1. So glad you're enjoying it all, Maire! Thanks for your comment!

  44. Music

    I was so into music
    I'd even stay up till dawn
    recording pre-releases off the radio
    my world crumbled
    when you walked away!
    See what trouble
    I brought on myself!
    My pirating days were over
    My collections
    went into the trash
    If it wasn't authentic
    If it wasn't live
    I didn't want it
    "Off with their heads"
    I shouted
    as I wandered
    in my own wonderland

    1. A little mystery in this one (what happened to the "music"), along with your signature style. Wonderful, as always! Thanks so much for posting, Risa!

    2. Thanks for sharing, Risa. Such a unique way of juxtaposing the pain of separation with an enjoyed activity. That kind of association is so universal.

  45. Today is April 25, 2013 and our prompt is PRAYER


    Astronomers describe
    energy wells that
    cover one half the torso
    of our galaxy

    and each explodes
    one million
    times stronger
    than a super Nova.

    Here on Earth, in CERN Geneva,
    particles, spun in a 17 mile
    underground track,
    collide at the speed of light

    to prove existence
    of the Higgs boson
    that makes other particles
    get mass through weak fields

    and has other properties
    that, when we understand,
    may shake assumptions
    of how stable our universe is.

    May the galaxy and the atom
    be harnessed in peace.
    May love shield from war
    the toes of a newborn baby.

    Basil Rouskas

    1. The parallel (or relationship) between the hugeness of the universe and a tiny little baby is striking! Thanks for sharing, Basil!

    2. Jamie and Adele,
      Isn't the Universe so immense and mysterious. And isn't it the soft, tiny foot of a baby so promising?

      Thanks for your feedback.



    Marmellata di mirtillo
    una collana di corniola
    lo sciroppo di betulla

    Blueberry jam
    a carnelian necklace
    the birchtree syrup

    Marmelada de arandano
    un collar de cornalina
    el jarabe de bedul

    1. Yours or translation? Either way, it's glorious!

  47. Jago,
    Let me take the liberty to translate in Greek as well... This is truly a multilinguist blogsite.


    Μαρμελάδα βατόμουρου
    ένα κολιέ καμέλιας
    της σημύδας σιρόπι

  48. Today is April 26th, 2013 and the prompting theme is BLESSINGS.

    Wright's poem about the bond he has with the two ponies is one of the "tenderest" poems I have ever read.

    Here is my poem inspired by it:


    (In Kato's memory)

    What we love in animals
    is something of ours,
    that we try to reclaim.

    In winter nights
    the stray cats of Athens
    stir up my loneliness.

    When the wood thrush
    sings, I regret the songs
    I never sang with my father.

    And in a dog's brown eyes,
    I see yours
    on the final trip to the vet.

    Basil Rouskas

    1. "Something of ours that we try to reclaim ..." There's "something" very compelling about the simpleness and directness of this poem. The way you make connections (the stray cats, the songs you never sang with your father, the last trip to the vet) is really well done.

      Thanks so much for sharing this!

    2. As always, I appreciate your words Adele!

      Your blog, feedback and encouragement has helped me (and others I know) tremendously in finding our voices.

      And this Blog is such a great FREE resource for those who want to advance in the craft.
      Thank you!!

    3. Very nice, Basil! A sad ending that I relate to strongly.

  49. Today is April 27th, 2013 and the prompting poem is CALLINGS by Maxine Kumin. I see the poem as a conversation implied, between her and Georgia O'Keefe. Maxine is not pleased that Georgia is switching to a third person to make her points. Also, Maxine objects to the notion that art is something you do as you do the garden and do the shopping and cook. She wants Georgia to speak in first person and talk about art and the work that is involved to conceive it and create it.

    I often times reflect on the cause of the callings, the things we have a passion for in life. How did we acquire these passions, how much others understand their importance or their folly. I also ponder the role that "completion" plays in our callings. When does, if ever, a calling get complete, fully discharged?


    Her dress, from the thirties,
    a crudely colored green on
    the black and white photograph.

    Her body at a camera angle
    but her face
    straight at me.

    intense, otherworldly.
    Come and join me

    she says. And I want to tell her
    why I (her son) am not yet
    done with my work, but I can't.

    Basil Rouskas

  50. Molto bella Basil!
    Very beautiful!

    1. Agreed, Jago! Molto bella, Basil!

    2. Mille Grazie, Jago and Adele!

    3. Today is April 28, 2013 and the prompting poem is Philip Levine's GOSPEL.

      I love this poem. In addition to his poetic description of the countryside and his nature walk, he lets us know (past the mid-point into the poem) a new element - his pain. He doesn't tell us details about the crumpled letter in his pocket or about the woman. He closes the poem with a realization that words are not enough to get answers or relief. The message (for me) is "you have to go through the pain alone and find your answers. Nature can help but, sorry, no answers."

      This poem reminded me of a scene from a movie I saw recently. It, also, involves a man and a woman about whom I don't give details. There is attraction between them but there are problems and a decision needs to be made. I will leave it at that…


      He drives her to a hilltop
      that looks over the valley
      stops the car and opens the door.

      Silent, he looks at the swaying tree tops
      and then tells her he comes here
      when he wants to think.

      Father brought me here
      for the first time
      when mother left us, he says.

      She looks at him with a question
      but doesn't ask it.
      The tree tops still sway

      the riverbed
      on the valley floor
      half wet.

      Basil Rouskas

    4. Lovely, Basil!

      (I can hardly keep up with your poems and comments—in the best possible sense! What a wonderful commitment to National Poetry Month. Congrats to you!)

    5. Thanks for your words, Adele.
      It has been a commitment, yet not an obligation. I worked every day and attempted to follow your great prompts and how you offered them. I felt free to take the prompt into unexpected directions. There are some poems in this April Anthology that I like and some others not so much. Overall, though, I am glad I did it.
      I appreciate all the comments the Blogsite community offered from all parts of the world.

    6. You're very welcome, Basil! You inspire us with your dedication to poetry and your spirit of hard work!

  51. Solitude

    Father's gone
    sister's gone
    Mother's here
    but gone
    A solitary survivor
    I walk alone
    with thousands
    for peace and happiness
    Honoring my ancestors
    knowing I chose
    another path
    it was chosen for me

    1. A lovely reflection on "what's left," choices, and family.

      Thanks so much for sharing, Risa!

  52. Risa,
    I liked the juxtaposition of the individual with the family, the peace marchers and the ancestors. The ambivalence regarding who made the choice also comes through very nicely.

  53. Today is April 28, 2013 and the prompting poem is SPRING.


    Thread-leaf maple buds
    curtsey to the morning sun
    outside our South window.

    Grass seeds
    sprout and pierce the hay.
    Myrtle blossoms.

    A hawk spreads his wings,
    and scouts for food
    before the land turns green.

    Black River trees
    add a new ring to
    their calendars.

    So do we.

    We eat this year's first
    lettuce in our red salad bowl.
    We count blessings.

    Basil Rouskas

    1. Ah, that first lettuce is always so perfect!

      The Black River appears in several of your poems—a wonderful source of inspiration. I always admire poets who draw from their surroundings, and in this poem, your attention to the natural world is very effective.

  54. Gratitude makes all the difference!

  55. Today is the last day of April, 2013.

    The prompting theme is HAPPINESS. Carver's poem, in my opinion, makes the point that happiness can be found in the most unusual circumstances; we just need to be ready to see it and cherish it. Happiiness is so elusive, maybe because we are looking for it the wrong way and with inflated expectations...

    This April has been difficult for me because of a medical accident that resulted in my injury. After several interventions, I am now healing. As I am poondering the theme of the day, I realize that there are many things for my happiness this morning.


    The stream babbles
    its way to Black River

    a woodpecker taps
    on the tulip tree

    the dogwood springs
    its first blossom.

    Parents, long resting;
    career, well done.

    And you on my side,
    while I heal.

    Basil Rouskas

    1. Wonderful, Basil! And special congratulations to you for your poem-a-day participation in the month-long celebration of National Poetry Month!

      Given the circumstances—your injury and recuperation this April—I imagine that writing every day was not always easy. I hope you found the poetry spiritually and emotionally healing.

      Thank you so much!

      Thank you so much!

    2. Basil, this is a fantastic poem, so uplifting. Thank you for sharing it and for sharing about your injury. In fact, thank you for a whole month of wonderful sharing! It must have been difficult for you coping with the injury and still writing so faithfully.

      I hope you heal quickly and completely and that you will continue to post poems or comments now that National Poetry Month is over. A lot of us will miss hearing from you if you don'!

    3. Thanks, Jamie, for your participation! You add so much to the blog community with your generous thoughts and kind comments.

    4. To you Adele, for the blogsite, the well thought out poem/prompts and your encouragement to all of us.

      And to all of you in our international web community who offered comments and poems.

      THANK YOU!!

      Basil Rouskas

  56. Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)April 30, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Well done, all of you!

    What a beautiful poetry month, filled with words and sharing.

    My thanks to all who contributed!

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

    1. Thanks, Maire! It's always great to hear from you, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the poems and comments!

  57. Thanks, everyone, for participating through your poems and comments! Bouquets to all of you!