Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon 2020 Week 52

Today is the last session of 2020’s Marathon. As I mentioned recently, I won’t be continuing with the Marathon activity in 2021. I will still be writing, but it’s time to close the door on these weekly sessions.

You may remember that sometimes I have used random phrases glued on library check-out cards as inspirations.

Once I have finished with them, I usually turn them into colorful versions of themselves. It’s just for fun, no theme or reason behind it, just fun. I’ll be using them as illustrations throughout this post.

Today’s works are all based on a common theme. Now, this is not something I have ever done before, but for whatever reason, I did it today. And what is that theme. It is — CAKE. Yes, cake.

I’m going to feature all the poems I did today. They are all short. There aren’t too many of them.

And, after all, today is the last Marathon day. Let’s let everyone have their say. So, here goes.

A poem about cake.

Cake One

so many eggs
too thick in the bowl
sugar very thin
a marked flavor of
too much disappointment
I mark the recipe on the page:
Never make this cake again
you might as well eat grass

Another poem about cake.

Cake Two

very light in the mixing bowl
nice and shiny wraps like a dream
Loves the oven and shows it
The bottom crisps
The interior floats
A delicious package this cake:
postmarked and delivered
to your plate

A shadorma about cake.

your pour it
with some symmetry
sticky sauce
fighting back
a crown of uneven drips
results. The cake sighs.

A tanka about cake.

scraping the paper
the short stub of a pencil
lists ingredients
for the traditional cake
in your grandmother’s writing

A tanka about cake.

Sliced thin and sunburned
picnic cake slumps on its plate
oozing pink icing.
Flies inspect it. Reject it.
A passing bird shits on it.

A shadorma about cake.

My prom dress –
Pink checked cotton cake
Red grosgrain
ribbon loops
Three linen rosettes smack dab
on my butt. Nice, huh?

A shadorma about cake.

Aqua glass
mixing bowl. Biggest
in the set.
Pink frosting
fills it to the top. The cake
tries not to worry.


Now we have come to the end. Before I leave, I will show you one more image. It’s a large painting I did in June 2020. We had been at home in lockdown for almost 90 days. I felt despair and fear. I turned to my artwork, as I have so often before, to help me find a way to express my feelings.

This painting includes all the elements that matter to me in it: my home, my family, my friends, my belief that my life and my work has purpose. It’s called “I Hope”.

After I finished it, I heard of an online exhibit open to Pennsylvania residents sponsored by Penn State called Viral Imaginations. I submitted it to the exhibit with the idea that in a small way, my voice could be heard, and maybe someone else might find something in the images that symbolize to me what is important in my life.

I have a small granddaughter born this summer. I have never seen her in person and I don’t know when I will. She has come into a world that I often don’t recognize, and yet so many things are still present – friendship, family, art, writing, home. I have hope that her life will be lived in a good world.

I hope. I hope. I hope.


I have felt so much support from all of you during these years I have been doing the Marathon. I will end here with my heartfelt Thank You to all of you. And my best wishes for all of you for continued good health and good spirits.

“I Hope”, acrylics, 34″ x 36″, 6/20.

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon 2020 Week 51

We are in the last days of 2020 and this year’s Marathon. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m ending the Marathon habit with next week’s session, after four years of working in this way plus another year in which I did a quarterly week-long event. In other words, I’ve been Marathoning in one way or another since 2015.

Arcadia University, Landman Library, 2017.

It has worked out well for me, but things have changed, and now I will approach my writing in a different way. I don’t know what that way will be. It will evolve.

Montgomery County Community College, College Hall (Breninger Library is part of this complex).

During these years I have written a LOT of poetry. I had decades of pent-up thoughts and feelings and experiences and memories to express, it seems, all of that inside me and now it’s on paper. I am very grateful that the circumstances of my life have allowed me time, energy, motivation, and the ability to focus on writing as I have done. I also am more grateful than I can say for everyone who has been reading along with me during these years.

Chestnut Hill College, Logue Library, 2017.

As you know, I also really love putting my work into print, and I have a lot of print books to show for it. (Look here on Amazon if you are wondering what I am talking about). I enjoy the tangible record they provide. Maybe someday my little granddaughter (now aged 4 1/2 months) will be interested. Even if she is not, I feel a sense of satisfaction in my work. That and all the support I have gotten from readers means a lot to me. Thank you.


Sounds like this is the winding-up speech. No, we have one more week to go! Let me get back to where we are today.

Here are a few things from today’s session.

I’ve been collecting phrases/sentences for a while – with the criteria that they fit a syllable count of 3, 5, or 7. This way, I can use them for haiku, tanka, or shadormas. You know how I liked counted syllable poems, and I’m really enjoying collecting words like this and seeing what happens. Let’s go!

This haiku started off with the red cardigan. I was reminded of a sweater my grandmother wore. It was a long time ago; she died around this time of year in 1978. I still miss her and my grandfather.

the red cardigan
my grandmother wore it out
many decades past

This tanka began with the neighbors laughing. I wrote it right after the one above, and I was still thinking of my grandparents. I spent a lot of time at their house. This poem is a few of the memory sensations I have from that time.

the neighbors laughing
the broom scraping on concrete
the screen door slamming
the rusty melody of
bringing in the garbage cans

No, you do not have to put up with it.

This tanka started with in the half-darkness.

in the half-darkness
over a box of popcorn
he leers. I decide:
Ladies’ room. Break up by text.
Go home. Good thing I drove.

People meet in all kinds of ways.

This haiku started with the mis-heard phrase through chatty burping.

Through chatty burping
we got to know each other.

This shadorma started with the misprint.

Yes. Let some dreams come true.

the misprint
that led me
straight to you
choose the wish over reason
let some dreams come true

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon Week 50

This week I worked on poems that started off as phrases or sentences that I picked up here or there. I have been writing down 5-syllable phrases for a while and some poems started off with items from that list.

A couple of others that I did were derived from the autocorrect function of my phone. Try it:

  • Type in a word, keep it.
  • Type another one and select from the auto options.
  • Keep going, filling in words of your own as you feel like it. Later, when you revisit the “poem”, you can polish it into a shape, I guarantee it.

All right. Before we get going, I will show you scenes of my basement re-do project. As I said in earlier weeks, since I don’t go out to do the Marathon anymore, I have no photos from the sites to show you. So, my basement project has been standing in.

Things are pretty much finished. I need to paint the steps into the room. I will do that after my husband does some minor repairs to a door frame. Otherwise, the room is as it will be. I had decided to move my painting/”messy” artwork set-up into this room. We are re-doing my upstairs studio area and putting in a new floor there. That room will be my desk area/clean art room now.

These changes came about since my husband is permanently working from home and the functions of the rooms needed to be amended to make things more comfortable for us.

Take a look. Here is a view from the steps:

Here is my husband’s beautifully-organized tool storage area:

And here are a couple of shots of the art area. I think the only thing I am now waiting for is a task lighting lamp I have ordered, for the work table. And I plan to hang some of my paintings on the walls, but that is for later. Right now I am enjoying the clean look the room has.

All right, let’s get to poems.

This is one of those phone poems.

The Question is Pestering Me

Why’d we have to get a little more comfortable
Ho’d we limber up our stiff joints
to habituate our shapes to the armchair
settle heavy into the cushions
circular in form
like cats
Why’d we do that
and us not even having the explanation of
actually being cats
why did we?

It got so comfortable so fast.
Everyone said
we hadn’t planned for
the boredom
to be honest
it never came along.

When exactly was it? when
we understood
what we are is

We are cats.

Two haiku about love. I think. The phrases that inspired the poems were “it can be arranged” and “a romantic man”.

it can be arranged –
a pint of ripe strawberries
a love triangle

a romantic man
like many others he writes
awkward poetry

I have been sewing – clothing, toys, quilts, curtains, pillows – you name it – for about 55 years. My mother was an accomplished seamstress and I learned from her. The pinking shears were, and still are, my favorite scissors. I love the cut they make and the sound of the fabric as it goes into the blades. Yes, it is a different sound than a pair of straight shears makes.

Anyway, to me, the sight of a pinked edge is very pleasant. In my childhood, before I learned to sew myself or could use these scissors, I had a prized collection of small fabric scraps cut with pinking shears, gleaned from the floor of the sewing room.

Now you know the background of this haiku. “Pinking shears” was the original phrase.

pinking shears snip snick
serrated edges part ways
the floor claims the scraps

Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon Week 49

This week I continued working over my list of collected phrases and making short form poems out of them (or the ideas they bring up. I’m enjoying the process.

I’ve been showing you photos of my basement project progress but I forgot to take any this morning while I was painting a couple of doors. Rest assured it is progressing. I think by next week you may be very surprised to see it…finished???

Instead, I will show you some photos of the full moon I saw early this morning before the sun came up. And I will give you a few examples of poetry work, too.

This view shows the moon, the tree, and the high school building across the street.

A haiku. The phrase was “something aggressive”. I have been seeing a lot of hawks in the air in the last couple of days, and this is what made me think of this image.

something aggressive
the hawk has been thinking and
the rabbit has not.

This shadorma chain came from an experience I had a couple of weeks ago. My husband and I go out early in the morning to walk or run – it is dark when we leave and as the winter draws in, it is still dark on the trail for a while (though we have headlamps). Anyway, I heard an owl hoot in the darkness – the sound carried in the silence all through the trees, so that I could not even tell from what direction it came.

twice the owl
in the far-off said
something I
heard it loud
in the darkness but no more
again that morning

as daylight
dragged itself awake
not that day
not ever.
That I heard him speak I know
it was not to me.

This tanka started off with “decorous toothbrush”. I’ve mixed memories here – a green bathroom we had in our previous house, and how the comb felt as my mother raked it hard against my scalp to part my hair when I was young.

decorous toothbrush
lazy hairbrush snappish comb
familiar voices
bounce off green tiled walls. The world
is a five by eight bathroom.

Here is a photo from Norristown Farm Park from last week. It’s the Dairy Barn complex across the field of now harvested soybeans.

I show it to you because it is calm and peace-giving, and seems like a nice image to leave you with here. Thank you for reading.

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon Week 48

Here we are in another week of this year, and poetry goes on. I started working early in the morning, when it was windy and wild outside:

By the end of the day the rain had moved on but the wind remained. My writing was done in segments between an appointment in the morning and basement painting in the afternoon.

I’ll make a quick detour and show you the basement project’s progress. We have replaced the entire ceiling and I have done one coat of the new paint color and today starting on the second and final coat.

Here we are on 11/17/20:

And on 11/19/20, which, by the way, was my birthday…

And on 11/20/20…

Here we are at 11/22/20. We are especially proud of the fitting job we did getting these ceiling tiles to work with the ductwork and its habit of protruding out little…protrusions. Just saying.

And after today’s work, 11/23/20. Take it from me, there are two coats of new paint on the walls now.

Pretty exciting, huh? But you are asking, what does it have to do with poetry? And I say, Nothing! But since I am here at home these days and can’t show you photos of libraries or parks or cafes, well…this is what I have to offer.

Now, to poetry. I continued something I was doing last week, takling five or seven syllable phrases or sentences that I had made up over the past days, and using them as a line of a haiku or tanka. Let’s see what we’ve got here.

The phrase was “the engine cramped up”. And this haiku exactly describes what happened to our white minivan when it stopped running. Yes, just that sudden, it was.

the engine cramped up
the transmission seized and gasped
the minivan died

This tanka started off as “part scandal part joke”. And the rest came from me thinking about how I need to get to the ironing pretty soon.

part scandal part joke
our double act goes back years
this old iron and me
and what we’ve done together
to shirts skirts and boxer shorts

Well, this tanka describes something that has happened to me over the years, and with more than one cat. The phrase was “an untidy game”.

an untidy game
the cat unrolls the red yarn
wraps up the chair legs
I knit straight from the tangle
Knots and cat hairs all of it

I read so many crime novels. This tanka started off from “a husband quibbles”.

A husband quibbles.
I stand at the kitchen sink.
The steak knife lounges
in a soothing bubble bath.
I hate to disturb it, but…

I know we’re going very long here on this post, but this shadorma commemorates the basement project and I had to include it. A new start needs to be celebrated and how better than with a bit of something written down?

The new paint
resets memories
of mice nests
in ceilings
broken pipe floods and warped floors.
I breathe in the scent.

For your patience, a couple of photos from early morning walks in the last week. The sunrise is always a moment of hope. I send some of mine to you.

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon Week 47

Busy times at my house. We are embarking on an updo of our basement. We have thrown out or given away a lot of items and continue to do so. We plan to reorganize our much-reduced load of stored possessions and I want to move my painting activities to this area (weare also making changes to my studio space upstairs which is why this last is happening).

An earlier slapdash paint job and floor installation will be updated. New ceiling tiles are being put in place (taking down each one adds to my dismay over how much mouse poop a house can accumulate over the fifty years since these ceiling tiles were installed). I have just finished painting the ductwork black and replaced maybe 30% of the ceiling. I will be starting on the walls tomorrow.

These changes set the tone for this post. I am considering the role of poetry and writing in my life for 2021. I can say now that the Marathon series will end with this year. I’m not able to leave home to devote a day to writing, given circumstances. And the idea of the Marathon was originally to give me a breathing space, a separate place for contemplation and rest – something I no longer feel the need for in the same way.

I would like to integrate poetry writing back into my everyday life, along with home renovations, artwork (I am also making changes here, in that I am no longer going to be doing art shows – art will be just for fun.), and other interests I have neglected, just discovered, or want to explore more.

I named this Marathon “Just Enjoy Yourself” at the end of 2019, expressing what I hoped it would become in 2020. It seems like a cruel joke now, this name, but I have persevered, and will finish things out. And I want to say that though 2020 cannot be described as enjoyable, at least for me it has forced me to open my eyes and see a lot of things differently, and more clearly. I think that is a good thing.

OK. On to writing. We have a very typical November day that’s finishing up now – here is my back yard.

I continued last week’s activity of using random phrases and word juxtapositions to spark poems. Here goes.

This haiku was written from “Dial eight”. A character on a TV show I was watching told someone to get on the phone and call the front desk – “dial eight”.

Dial eight and talk loud
Anybody who answers
Shout’em down. And good.

A tanka. The phrase was “invigorating idyll”. I made this pairing from hearing the two words in different contexts and liking the alliteration. Don’t know how it ocurred to me to write about a spa, though.

  1. Two weeks at the spa.
    Invigorating idyll.
    of recent nuisances done –
    I’m so relaxed now. I purr.

This tanka originated with the word “copyright”.

blurred copyright year
a book coy about its age
charmless and dated
the former belle of the ball
presents her tattered dance card

This tanka is written from this afternoon’s visit from a fox. We have many animals who come into our back yard (three bucks chasing each other went through as well this afternoon, crashing through the hedge – I was amused to see one of them heading off with branches stuck in his antlers…).

This fox did exactly what this poem said. He’s come into the yard before and I recognize him. I like foxes. They are quite confident animals.

skinny fox still young
patchy fur and threadbare rump
stringy tail held straight
no looks and no lack of poise
comes right up to the back door

Thank you for reading.

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon 2020 Week 46

Here’s a bit of trivia from my life: Exactly 22 years ago today, on another Friday the 13th, I ran a fabric rotary cutter over my left forefinger and removed a good chunk of it, necessitating a ride to the hospital in an ambulance.

This form of transport was over the top, yes, for this injury, but I was home alone, I couldn’t drive myself, there was a lot of blood, I couldn’t raise any of the neighbors to take me, there was lot of blood, and I was scared. Every year on this date I am grateful for the guys on the ambulance who calmed me down and got me to stop sobbing and waving my dishtowel-clad hand around.

My finger healed fine, though it’s still smaller than it originally set out to be when it embarked on life as part of my left hand.

In case you are wondering what happened to my rotary cutter, it went in the trash as soon as I came home from the emergency room. Once a cutting tool has tasted blood, it does not go back.

And on this day, November 13, I do not handle knives, scissors, or other sharp instruments. No. I just don’t.


Today, this November 13, nothing so bad is happening (crossing fingers, no pun intended, I don’t want to tempt fate since there is more of the day to come). All I can report is a rainy November morning, lots of leaves on the ground.

That’s good.

Let’s get to poetry. All week I have been working on haiku inspired by five word phrases I’ve picked up here and there. I really enjoy the immediate image or tiny story that comes to me when I read the phrase – and then the challenge is to express it in 17 syllables total, the five I start with and the 12 I can pluck from the air.

The phrase here was “A hundred more times”.

A hundred more times
she wore the dress. And each time
it was wrong for her.

The phrase here was “burliest gazelle”.

in any size crowd
there’s the burliest gazelle
the skinniest pig

The phrase here was “diary orbits”.

diary orbits
circles of daily routines
written in pencil

The phrase here was “twentieth teapot”.

twentieth teapot
the oceans of strong black tea
you do drink each day

And this one, “chalky quarter moon”.

chalky quarter moon
scrawls out white shadowy clouds
on night’s clean blackboard

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon Week 45

I know this week will be full of drama. There will be little space in my mind for poetry, I think. I got busy today to make sure I would accomplish this week’s session.

It was a chilly and very blustery day, with strong wind gusts blowing away the remnants of the heavy rain we have had for the last couple of days.

Leaves are leaving the trees quickly. These trees are in my back yard.

I had a variety of subjects I worked on today – I had saved some ideas up from last week. And I work under the eyes of these two entities – they are garden statues in my back yard and I can see them right outside my window.

They are always silent, keeping their thoughts to themselves. Not like me, I guess. Anyway, let’s get going. Here are a couple of items from today.

This haiku is not seasonal, at least, not for this season.

The messy pleasures
of top-heavy ice cream cones
and hot afternoons

My husband and I visited a local museum yesterday afternoon, viewing an exhibit of abstract paintings from the 1950’s. I like abstract work (I guess I’d better since I also do it myself), but we found these a bit pretentious and to be honest, kind of boring. I think there is sometimes a lot of intellectualizing of an artwork that attempts to inflate an image of modest impact into a larger one. Or maybe I just didn’t get what was going on. But I have decided I’m going to go with my own impressions. That’s what this poem is about. What I thought.

the painting
is quite zero for keeping the eye
owes a large apology to
the color red
is framed very nicely.
Its self-esteem
relies not so much on
a visual understanding with a viewer
as a series of numbers you both comprehend.
You find the whole package
and you obey the urge.
Your credit card please.

I guess this shadorma runs along the same lines, except that the subject is words. I do have my nerve, it seems, ready to judge just about anything. Once again, no apologies. After all, what that also means is, you can think what you like about my art or writing, too, right? Although I hope you’ll be kind in how you make your observations where I can hear them…

His new book
like a haiku of
quite lovely
but zero
sense-making strings of words that
got lost and gave up


OK, that is it for today. I’ll show you something I saw in my yard as I went into the house after taking the above photos:

At the base of the post is part of a paper wasp nest. I love to find these structures and to look at them in detail. There is no doubt in my mind as to the wasps’ skill or the beauty they have created.

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon Week 44

This week the Marathon is a smorgasbord of odds and ends. I did some writing for it last week, to meet a request for poems regarding leaf-raking for a blog friend to illustrate.

I wrote a couple of poems over the weekend, or rather, I jotted down some notes that turned into a poem all on their own, upon a second reading.

I opened the thesaurus last night and picked out some words I wanted to use for today’s work.

And I wrote a couple of poems to illustrate a picture someone sent to me.

Well, what do you know? Now there is an assortment to choose from. Let’s start with leaf poems. I will accompany them with some photos from my rain-sodden leaf-covered yard.

Anticipating autumn.

Lounging on their hooks in the garage
the rake brags to the snow shovel:
I’ll take your sloppy snowstorm
and raise you a tarp of wet leaves
and slaps down another hand. Plenty of leisure –
Nothing but time! Outside the window
the lawnmower struggles in the late summer heat.
The rake and the snow shovel laugh. How they laugh!
they deal the cards again.
the first leaf falls.

The rake has its own voice.

Jingle jangle twang twang
that’s the song my old rake sang
one tine bent a dull metal fang
scrapes jingle jangle twang twang

To illustrate the picture I mentioned. I don’t want to post the actual image, I’d be jumping ahead of the project. So here you must use your imagination. A shadorma.

shortcake and ice cream
six servings.
Greedy me
How I regret it. I dream
gooey pink nightmares.

A haiku for a spooky time of year. Just came to me out of the air.

Put the lid on it.
Back away from the coffin.
Dead of the night.

A haiku derived from the inspiration of the thesaurus.

ladle dip scoop bail
old tired just plain unwilling
balky rowboat sinks

All right, that’s it! Thank you for reading.

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 42

I continued the activity I’ve been doing the last few weeks, writing to fit some random photos I took around my house. I’ve finished up the array of photos so I think next week there will be a new plan.

I also wrote some poems from cards I made from random phrases cut from discarded library books.

I’ll see if I can include some of each of these categories.

Here are two tanka for the same photo. I guess I really like my glue. Here is the first one…

The orange twist-cap.
The rounded contoured body.
The bottle of glue
and how well it fits my hand.
I squeeze. Watch the first drops fall.

and the second one…

His rounded shoulders.
His jaunty orange ribbed cap.
Friend since my childhood.
My sticky fingers grasp tight.
I squeeze him in affection.

A shadorma. I run the thread out until it is gone and then some.

spool of white
unwinds its last turns
The machine
pulls the thread
the greedy needle consumes
beyond the last inch

A shadorma. I used these for various art show purposes; an enormous box cost the same as a few tags. I have found many uses for them.

shipping tags:
blank manila card
hole for string –
this box of one thousand for
as many journeys

I feel as if I may have already written something for this picture. If so, well, I did another version, didn’t I? I have several measuring tapes, and they feature in my earliest memories, because my mother sewed all our clothes when I was a child and we always needed to be measured because we were always growing! Here is a shadorma.

Springed Out
and now gone Disrolled.
Busted off
too-tight Tight
for Detwistification
and then Laid-Out Flat.

Here’s a phrase poem from late last week. I put it on a postcard and mailed it.

frayed-nerves iguana mom
ungainly in looks agile in pragmatism
overlooked the kookiest antics of her daughter
the frothiest flippant teenager she’d ever seen
instead she took delight in
the ultraviolet swoop of her offspring’s tail

Lacking a photo of the iguana mom, here is a view of my studio and my desk in a double exposure. Kind of like my head feels when I have a lot of ideas rolling around in it!

Thank you for reading.