Poetry is Written in Words: Ten

Poems from my Merriam-Webster Word of the Day project. For more information, look here.

jingoism : extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy

poison ivy spreads
No jingoism no chants
just relentless green
shining waves of leaves of three
twined in hedges vined up trees

tanka 308 : 6/27/22

patina : a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color… (also) : an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character

Backstory told in
flaking lichens and thin green
patina. What’s left.
Those new people scrape and buff
do away with even that

tanka 317 : 8/3/22

shard : a piece or fragment of a brittle substance

Glass shard. Clouded green.
I pull it from the shallows.
I stroke its belly
abraded by its travels.
I trust. It curls in my hand.

tanka 323 : 8/14/22


“Jingoism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jingoism. Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

“Patina.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/patina. Accessed 3 Aug. 2022.

“Shard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shard. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

Haiku 1237, 1238, 1241

Recent haiku inspired by book titles I gathered at my visit to the Royersford Free Public Library on 1/21/23. This trip was part of my Montco Library Tour – look here if you want to know what I am talking about.

My hand is shaking.
Five Tuesdays. One too many.
I can’t try again.

Now the story’s out. Hold tight.
One red shoe flying.

the gentle thread pulls.
the seams in my soul close up.
the needle’s eye blinks.

Royersford Free Public Library, Royersford, PA

After the Accident

After the Accident

In the ambulance
I feel like I did
when we got married
Sidestep stumble
Swatted and ripped and twisted
Scissors in my hand
Blue black ink darkness
A commotion and loud voices
Whispering. Close your eyes. Don’t look.
Obliterated by experts.
At the hospital
Waiting. You need a doctor
they tell me. I wondered then.
I wonder now. Waiting.


Poetry is Written in Words: Nine

Poems from my Merriam-Webster Word of the Day project. For more information, look here.

luscious : richly luxurious or appealing to the senses

She knits him sweaters.
Luscious poison ivy green.
How that wool does itch.
Coincidence? I think not.
He doesn’t think so either.

tanka 383 : 1/12/23

fortuitous : FORTUNATE, LUCKY : coming or happening by a lucky chance

yarn shop show window
fortuitous passing glance
the perfect green yarn
a pyramid of citron
I go inside and buy it

tanka 378 : 1/5/23

immutable : not capable of or susceptible to change

Canned spinach
on my plate. A pile
of warm green
oozing slime.
My revulsion is complete
and immutable.

shadorma 442 : 8/18/22


“Luscious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/luscious. Accessed 12 Jan. 2023.

“Fortuitous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fortuitous. Accessed 5 Jan. 2023.

“Immutable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/immutable. Accessed 18 Aug 2022.

Library Tour: Royersford Free Public Library

Another stop on the Montgomery County PA library tour! If you want to know what I am talking about, look here.

On January 21, my husband and I visited the Royersford Free Public Library. It’s located in Royersford, PA, a town about 30 miles northwest from my house. It’s about 10 miles southeast of Pottstown, which you may remember from an earlier library tour visit. I’ve never been to this location, since as you might expect, it’s not on my usual round of daily travel.

The borough of Royersford is an old town located on the banks of the Schuylkill River (at a ford named for a nearby family, the Royers! I love to find out facts like that). It had a variety of manufacturing operations in the past but today is more of a town tied in the needs with the growing residential population of this area of the county. The main street still has a nice array of solid old buildings, many now repurposed, but in use. The town was busy when we visited with street and pedestrian traffic.

The library is located inside the borough limits on a side street in a former elementary school.

This library is a branch of the main county library at Norristown (as was the Upper Perkiomen Valley library visited earlier). Both of these libraries are small and function under the supervision of the main library. I wasn’t able to find any info about the history of this library, so I’ll simply report my observations.

As I said, this building is a former elementary school. We were interested to see that originally there were three entrances to the building, the main center one (now the library entrance, and one at each end of the building. The one on the right was designated as “Kindergarten” and the one on the left was “Library”. The building is dated 1929 over the center entrance, which also is signed as “Grade School”).

My guess is that in the past, the library for the school and the town were the same, since the space was accessible without going into the school, and it was clearly signed (though I forgot to get a photo of it). But I don’t know any of this for a fact, I’m just guessing.

All right, let’s go inside. Here’s the view as we came in the little hall. The circulation desk is straight ahead.

Once inside, the layout of the library is simple. The back wall of classrooms is now open and that is where the books are shelved. Two front classrooms are still separate, one a community room and one a part of the children’s section. The long wing at the “Library” entrance is another children’s section. Here are pictures where I am standing at the end of what was the central hall looking to the children’s section.

I introduced myself to the library assistant, and then we proceeded to look around. I was interested to see that the classroom doors still had their numbers:

I also liked the decorated ceiling tiles throughout the building:

As you can see, the library is small and it doesn’t have space to sit down and write in the adult section, so I decided to do another session of writing from the inspiration of book titles. I carried my notebook around and let the books tell me what to write. Then I checked out a few books and off we went, having had a very pleasant experience here.

Here are a few haiku I wrote at this location:

The man of my dreams.
Friends forever he tells me.
No solace in that.

Undistinguished guests.
Strangers drawing conclusions.
My smile is so thin.

This garden. Hidden
in the shadow of the bee
a hand shapes your fate

All right, that’s it for the Royersford Free Public Library. Thank you for being here for all of us readers!

Poetry is Written in Words: Eight

Poems from my Merriam-Webster Word of the Day project. For more information, look here.

defile : to make unclean or impure: such as : to corrupt the purity or perfection of : DEBASE

No footprints
defile the carpet
But I see
a small mouse
stretched out stone dead center. So –
ghost cat strikes again.

shadorma 468 : 10/27/22

sustain : KEEP UP, PROLONG

For how long
can the cat sustain
this façade
of chilly
displeasure? Answer: until
he gets tired of it.

shadorma 479 : 11/26/22

charlatan : one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability : FRAUD, FAKER

The cat wails and writhes.
What a charlatan he is.
All right. Here’s your food.

haiku 1065 : 1/9/23


“Defile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defile. Accessed 27 Oct. 2022.

“Sustain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sustain. Accessed 9 Jan. 2023.

“Charlatan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/charlatan. Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

One Dozen or So From the Archives: Episode 4

Another installment of poems still waiting in the archives to be heard. Finishing up loose ends.

If you want more details, here’s the Big Long Explanation. Otherwise, just read as many or few of these poems as you’d like. And thank you, as always!

These poems are all from Pink Chalk, published 2018.

Is He Really

The autonomous man
he who was in receipt of
a lot of money
from ancestors

he had his freedom
a comforting fishbowl
a wholly respectable life

when confronted with
the mysterious
their work and

he made sure to step back
the world machinery at work
from a safe distance
and at no risk of entanglement
in the gears or pistons or nuclear fission chambers
late bill payments and school dance recitals
he did not miss any of it

he appeared
perfectly at ease
sipping coffee at a small table
in the sidewalk café at noon.



The vast orange moving van
the size of a house
of course
because it contains a house
laboring up the hill this morning
through a tunnel of just-leafed out trees
Traffic is stacking up behind someone’s living room
and we are patient with the pace but hoping
oh yes thank goodness
the whole first and second floors are
turning into a side street
the orange-encased worldly possessions
crawling off further into

Perfect upscale suburbia
this way
a guidebook might describe it
and now the truck knows
its role in the interlude between addresses
is almost over
it picks up a little speed
The rest of us resume our rush

I press my foot to the gas like everyone else
but I wonder how the dining room table
will stand its legs on a new carpet –
with conviction?


With Ceremony

Her Highness
Ermine Serene
I comb my fingers
along her head
her pink nose
she sneezes
with a grunt
turns around three times
lies back on the pillow
the ego of her
it’s my bed
or so I thought
closes her eyes tight and tighter
asleep just like that


It’s Diligence
Combined with a Certain Approach

Time per nude
I wonder as I paint
this skinny lady
the third try today
how much time per nude
will it take
before my painting
any of my paintings
looks like a person
any person
even if not necessarily the one
in front of me? These classes
are not cheap
and so far
I’ve issued a stay of execution
for none of my subjects. Out they go to the curb.
I can’t imagine what the garbage men think.
No. It can’t go on. I’m killing
time, that’s all. Look. What ails this painting
that it has turned so green
and mottled? It seethes.
And does the left arm
look sort of like a mop?
Is there any way
I can turn this painting into
a nude housewife
with a serious skin disease
mopping a kitchen floor?


At the Courthouse on Monday

Courtroom i.

Jury pick session and
you reject a
a blue hair with a neat perm and
so that old lady
she went to the beach instead of serving on the jury
why not
she was plenty old enough
you knew that already and that’s why
you said no
You will come to think maybe she would have been better
than that young guy with the holey jeans
you did choose
hung the jury he did, you’ll know that next week,
but too late too late
that old lady
she’s slathering on the sunscreen
as we speak.

Courtroom ii.

I sat there in a nice navy-blue dress
I listened for twenty minutes straight
then denied it all
so let’s say
your whole life has taken a real turn for the better
you don’t need to confess to me I know
you did do it
now that you’ve been acquitted and I sure do deserve
some thanks for the alibi and
how about something like
I sincerely appreciate your testimony
You call me again
I’ll remind you of this whole episode
not to mention
You owe me and I will collect.

Courtroom iii.
Jury Member:

Assembled in the hall outside the courtroom
twelve of us. New group of acquaintances
We met last week
at selection.
Now we will decide
something about an old lady and
the apartment complex
Don’t know what the problem was
yet. They don’t tell you anything. Witnesses
standing over there
three ladies dressed in black suits.
Plaintiff looks one hundred years old
her lawyer, twenty-one.
Defendant and his lawyer
both sweating.
We file into the jury room
we wait. It is past nine o’clock when
The judge
sweeps in. The parties settled.
No trial. We clear that jury room
thirty seconds, tops
blow past the marshalling room on the way out
take in a panoramic view of
today’s crop of involuntary adjudicators
quiet and restless and waiting.
A few look up. Most don’t.


Career Choice

It seemed that
the job was suddenly available after all but
Don’t take a seat
you won’t be staying long
That’s what I heard the floor tiles say
the chair in the waiting room explain.
So you see
It’s that simple
how I ended up here instead of there.
I took a hint. I listened to what the air vents whispered.
Get fired? No. I was afraid I wouldn’t be.
couldn’t take the chance
I’d still be sitting there at that desk
forty years later
the fifth- generation of the original potted plant
I brought to work on my first day
set on the corner of windowsill that I could call mine. No.
The elevator knew. It rushed me to the lobby.
I ran. Chased by opportunity turned inside out. I ran.


Courtroom Two Nine AM Thursday

No one cheats me
and gets away with it
I sure don’t cheat anyone
even though everyone lies
everyone keeps secrets
but not me
I don’t. I fight fair and I kick hard
You know it’s coming.
I resented the greed
the arrogance
the financial haircut
this witch wanted to administer
and so
the time came to say
hey wake up and sue this feline barracuda wannabe
so I did and I am. And by the way
Fair warning.
The white gloves are off. I’m not standing here
in my pantyhose
high heels
better quality navy-blue dress
just to lose. All right.
Let’s get things started.


Vision of the Beginning

The high windows
squared the top of the large room
a band set just beneath
the ceiling that today
above an overcast featureless sky
pale gray and pressing in against the glass.
No depth no scale to it
but a solid insubstantiality
the inrush of blurred air
forcing the walls out
the roof up
the concrete and steel enclosure
made nonexistent in an instant
I sat in its ruins.

I looked down at my hands
I clasped them tight
stilled them
I counted
the metacarpal bones under my skin
I did not look up again.



The pastry chef
mullet hairdo hidden under his hat
health regulations a source of chagrin
being the only flaw in a perfect job because
he is almost as proud of his hair
as he is of the flawless
latticed apple pie
in the case.


Relatively Speaking

Everybody wants to worry about
soap operas
and french fries
being madly in love
bathing suit butt coverage
too much hair
weed-infested front lawns
nobody wants to worry about
being dead forever
or worse
whether any of this other worry is worth it
and then there is that other thought that follows
which is
sometimes just the idea of getting dressed every day
for another twenty-five years or so
seems like a lot of effort
doesn’t it? You’ve got to stay away from thinking like this
And it’s why
everybody jumps in fired-up eager to worry about
plastic bottles
dressing to disguise a pot belly
fabric softeners
spiderwebs in the corner.


The Again of It

There is a pattern
and the pattern is
a sphere held inside cupped hands
full of the time that spirals in spirals out
a stretch of slubbed yarn
in long thin sections connecting
short bulges of thick fat color
the pass through the fingers
again and again

There is a pattern
and the pattern is
a hallway of black and white squares
reaching the length of your arm
again and another time and multiplied
side doors crowding along it
entrances and exits and returns

There is a pattern
and the pattern is
a few square yards of this earth
wound around in green matted-down paths
worn in thick grass that will grow up again
to be tread upon again
and the again
is the pattern

The pattern being memory. The pattern
being location. The pattern being the small beads
woven tight and no scissors
that can cut the pattern apart

are found in the drawer.
The pattern is the one thing.
It accommodates.
It contains.
It comprehends.
Again. Again.


Poetry is Written in Words: Seven

Poems from my Merriam-Webster Word of the Day project. For more information, look here.

sensibility : peculiar susceptibility to a pleasurable or painful impression (as from praise or a slight) — often used in plural

The gray cat stalked off
sensibilities rubbed raw
by substandard fare.
The tabby cat had no such
refined tastes. Both dishes cleaned.

tanka 328 : 8/27/22

adjure : to urge or advise earnestly

Adjured to listen
in Survive the Feline class
the know-it-all mouse
sneered. As if any cat could!
Next class, his seat was empty.

tanka 330 : 9/3/22

onus : a disagreeable necessity : OBLIGATION

The cat says:
My house. My comfort.
The onus
is on you.
Good grub. My bowl. Twice a day.
Or else. You got that?

shadorma 459 : 10/4/22


“Sensibility.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sensibility. Accessed 27 Aug. 2022.

“Adjure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adjure. Accessed 3 Sep. 2022.

“Onus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/onus. Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

Haiku 1232, 1233, 1234, 1235

Here are some haiku that were written back last summer. They’ve been sitting around waiting. I don’t know why it’s taken so long to get them here.

Haiku 1232

midnight at the store
the mannequins drink coffee
try the new lipsticks


Haiku 1233

charming neighborhood
street signs spell out the question
who invited you?


Haiku 1234

inside these stories
built more solidly than life
many took refuge


Haiku 1235

sparkling kitchen sink
a perfect suburban home
step outside and scream


Poetry is Written in Words: Six

Poems from my Merriam-Webster Word of the Day project. For more information, look here.

debunk : to expose the sham or falseness of

The cat leaps.
The vase falls. His sense
of balance
now debunked
he picks his way through the shards.
You scold. He ignores.

shadorma 419 : 7/1/22

apposite : highly pertinent or appropriate

The mouse runs.
Apposite response.
The cat springs.
Apposite response. Much more
than just Effective.

shadorma 420 : 7/2/22

litany : a sizable series or set

Butter left out. Soft.
Cat leaps on counter. Lick-fest.
Greased paws ramble print
sink and floor. Repeat. Repeat.
Repeat. Kitchen litany.

tanka 324 : 8/16/22


“Debunk.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/debunk. Accessed 1 Jul. 2022.

“Apposite.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apposite. Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

“Litany.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/litany. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.