Poetry is Written in Words: Twenty-One

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

doughty : marked by fearless resolution : VALIANT

Cake mixer
and a stiff batter
Roll up sleeves
get to work
The doughty old motor hums
The beaters churn. Done.

shadorma 474 : 11/11/22

abdicate : to cast off : DISCARD

as cake to sawdust
when salt withdraws its savor
when flour drops substance
when sugar becomes resolved
to abdicate its sweetness

tanka 365 : 12/5/22

ineluctable : not to be avoided, changed, or resisted : INEVITABLE

Lots of compliments –
The ineluctable prize –
Blue ribbon! Spice cake
so good the judge cut a slice
to take home. Bravo! Bravo!

tanka 369 : 12/18/22


“Doughty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/doughty. Accessed 11 Nov. 2022.

“Abdicate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abdicate. Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

“Ineluctable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ineluctable. Accessed 18 Dec. 2022.

The Wrong Thing

The Wrong Thing

The train stands in the station
Midnight is
marked out on the clock

Two blocks back
a man hurries
shoe soles
rap concrete
nervous stutter steps.
Fear in the feet.

the man is drawn along it
One straight stroke of the night
It reels him in.

Something is wrong.

In two more flickers
of the pink streetlight
The man will meet the thing that is wrong.

The train stands in the station
Midnight is
marked out on the clock


Poetry is Written in Words: Twenty

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

devolve : to degenerate through a gradual change or evolution

Flustered cook
Cake in the oven
devolves into cinders. Guests
for dinner arrive.

shadorma 446 : 8/28/22

kerfuffle : a disturbance or commotion typically caused by a dispute or conflict

Plain talk sinks
the dinner party
The dumb joke
The gravy
kerfuffle. The cake scuffle.
Fling hurt feelings. Ouch.

shadorma 455 : 9/28/22

proselytize : to recruit someone to join one’s party, institution, or cause

bus stop bench
good try but
I just can’t
be convinced red velvet cake
beats out chocolate

shadorma 457 : 9/30/22


“Devolve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/devolve. Accessed 28 Aug. 2022.

“Kerfuffle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kerfuffle. Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

“Proselytize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proselytize. Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

One Dozen or So From the Archives: Episode 8

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 Rearrange, published 2018.

You Are Young and I Am Not

So you’re feeling worried about me
rehearsing in circles
what you’d like to say
Regain your balance
Need to slow down
Warning after warning
it’s not too late to make changes
You tell me what was my fault
and tell me again
a different way
Applause optional though hoped for
of course
you must know
it’s not going to come from me
You wonder
Are you worried or
are you


Fair Trade

My feet get so
to hurting me
Of course not
some aspirin
take a load off
glue the parts back together
keep moving
They do their work.
I bribe them with
expensive shoes
Epsom salts
nicer grade of lotion
red toenail polish
It all helps but
bottom line
I’ll give them
if they’ll give me
another day of steps.



Next stop is the metal filing cabinet
unfortunately a friend of yours
living inside a file
at the back of the bottom drawer
it being locked or maybe just stuck.
All the same there is
as good as nothing left
unless you suddenly start remembering.
all the fiction all the barefaced lies
what happened to the money
expensive lawyers
and out-of-focus ethics
Like I said, where’s the money
where’s your story?


Must Be Carefully Nurtured

A sure thing for yourself
though more expensive than usual
and what a racket
Do people need to understand?
purse your lips
bite your tongue
remember about public relations
steady as it goes
and take your seat in the front row.


No Dodge City,
That’s the Name of This Place

Guilty of low-calorie thinking
the whole gang
fallen into the river of perfume
currently passing through town
leaving a suitcase full of misdemeanors
on the dressing table
no time to change clothes
suitable for escape
having none that fit the occasion
I say we take revenge now
I know screaming guilt when I hear it
Smelling good does not pay the bills.


All in the Numbers

I did the bookkeeping and added up
the fingerprints and
we don’t have time to argue
get the suitcases out of the closet
hail a taxi
hope the traffic lights go our way
Some people would say
it’s the amphetamines talking
but science explains it
the rush you get
running out ahead of
a one-hundred percent sure thing
suddenly turned


These poems are all from Repairs, published 2017.

Waste No Words

There was no messenger.
There were two of them.
You wrote the letter
in blue ink. You wrote
no letter at all. The letter
was misaddressed and
returned to sender. You paid
the messenger
for special delivery
but your instructions
were not followed. The pen
ran out of ink. You refused
to use any but blue ink.
The bottle of blue ink
dried out in the drawer.
One of the messengers
fell ill. The ink stained
your fingers blue.
It all came to
in the end.


Can’t Kill It Now What

I decapitate that idea
Head gone one way
feet the other
I turn my back on it
I hear a noise
look around
Reconnected and lurching back at me
that idea.



Red and gold blooms
standing in metal buckets. She takes
one here one there
Snips their stems even. Fills the glass vase
each flower calling her to the next one
until there is
Rises to her toes
her hands held to each side
just shy of touching petals
Breathes out.



the grocery-store florist
arrange bouquets for sale.
Step forward
face showing
I want one.
They are beautiful.
I will buy this one
for my friend.

Go home.
Table with plenty of room
for a vase
of flowers


Backstage and the Play Goes On

Green apples
off-balance in their imperfect pyramid.
Frowsy onions
shedding papery skins onto the floor.
Russet potatoes
migrating into the tomato bin.
cannot be found at all.
The stock man
sitting on a crate of celery
behind the swinging door
eating a sandwich
dropping crumbs on the concrete floor.


Dandelion Season

Walking along the side of the road
where the dandelions
thrive in the mixed-size gravel
splotches of yellow that set themselves
inches from the asphalt
I’d step in the road so as not to
crush any one of them
if it weren’t so full of traffic
As it is I hop among the green islands
my feet pinching a spiky leaf here and there
but never the blossoms they surround
I reach the intersection
where the sidewalk begins
but I’m still walking
the yellow and green


Poetry is Written in Words: Nineteen

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

garrulous : given to prosy, rambling, or tedious loquacity

tiresome companion
this garrulous bland landscape
its only topic
relentless lines of gray hills
reeling past the train window

tanka 306 : 6/20/22

gargantuan : tremendous in size, volume, or degree : GIGANTIC, COLOSSAL

The monolith calls.
The grim gargantuan cube
shadows a landscape
ill-lit by a timid moon.
The crowd screams as one. Stars fall.

tanka 343 : 10/6/22

emblazon : to inscribe (something, such as heraldic bearings) on a surface

Gray wool horizon
the setting sun emblazoned
on its breast pocket

haiku 1037: 10/2/22


“Garrulous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/garrulous. Accessed 20 Jun. 2022.

“Gargantuan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gargantuan. Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

“Emblazon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emblazon. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

At Their Wedding

At Their Wedding

After the church the ballroom.
Bride and groom. White tablecloth. Black chairs.
Dinner plates. Lamb and fiddlehead fern.
The bride’s mother is pleased.

A hand grasps a glass. Too much perfume.
The room is so hot. A shoe pinches.
A head shakes No.The waiter moves on.
A dress wrinkles. Should I check with the babysitter?
A lipsticked-red mouth sneers itself into a smile.

Elbows on the table. Pass me the salt please.
Bored blue eyes. A napkin folded and set down.
A bracelet too tight for its wrist.
A fork spins and drops.
A slosh of wine. Gravy on the tablecloth.
Pink and white wedding cake.

Just one of the set:
Anonymous Bridesmaid.
Scratchy lace dress.
I pick at my fiddlehead fern.
Before tonight
I did not know you could eat
fiddlehead fern.
I guess that’s something.


Poetry is Written in Words: Eighteen

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

frolic : to play and run about happily : ROMP

frolic in the spray
arched from the water sprinkler
I am four years old
caught for good in this photo.
Look at me. Ear-to-ear joy!

tanka 316 : 8/1/22

ritzy : impressively or ostentatiously fancy or stylish : FASHIONABLE, POSH

Third husband
just acquired today
Trés ritzy,
that shindig!
Sure set a high bar for her
future number four.

shadorma 456 : 9/29/22

recidivism : a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior

Can’t help it
Here’s slice number three
When it comes
to your pie
our recidivism rate
one hundred percent

shadorma 422 : 7/6/22


“Frolic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/frolic. Accessed 1 Aug. 2022

“Ritzy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ritzy. Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

“Recidivism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/recidivism. Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

Poetry is Written in Words: Seventeen

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

lycanthropy : a delusion that one has become a wolf…(also) the assumption of the form and characteristics of a wolf held to be possible by witchcraft or magic

The old moon
sighs It’s not my fault
bloated full
it winces
Lycanthropic humans howl
in discordant grief

shadorma 469 : 10/31/22

sallow : of a grayish greenish yellow color

Those two quarreling
in the streetlight’s sallow glow.
I call the police.

haiku 1047 : 11/1/22

gibbous : of the moon or a planet : seen with more than half but not all of the apparent disk illuminated

the fat gibbous moon
she waxes the night sky slick
you slip into sleep

haiku 1020 : 7/10/22


“Lycanthropy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lycanthropy. Accessed 31 Oct. 2022.

“Sallow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sallow. Accessed 1 Nov. 2022.

“Gibbous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gibbous. Accessed 10 Jul. 2022.