A few new: *in which I attend a haiku/haiga program*

Last night I participated in an online program given by the National Gallery of Art called Virtual Studio | Haiku and Haiga: Transforming Poetry into Visual Art. Led by poet/artist/teacher Sean Felix, the program involved looking at a work of art, writing a couple of haiku about it, and then using one of our works to create a guided artwork (haiga being the artwork created from the poetry).

The image we used for our reference was Cattleya Orchid and Three Hummingbirds, 1871, by Martin Johnson Heade. I’m going to tell you right now that I found this painting vaguely disturbing, almost creepy. I felt I was looking at an alien world that was not too friendly. Also, I don’t much like orchids anyway – there is just something about them that I find kind of threatening. And hummingbirds? I’ve never felt the same about them since I learned about their true personalities.


We discussed the haiku form and then spend some time viewing the artwork, in the first quick session focusing on what we saw, and in another look, what other senses were evoked by the image. After each examination we wrote a haiku.

Then, taking one of our haiku, we focused intently on our words, and then, eyes closed, drew a continuous line around our paper to depict the elements or sensations of our words. Once done, we opened our eyes and added color.

Here is the haiku I wrote that I used for the haiga exercise. We had about 5 minutes to come up with something. My mind was full of feelings and speculations about the painting and I had a hard time focusing and paring down in that short of a time, so I think my work was pretty vanilla:

crushed leaves underfoot
release their scents to the air
I taste the warm mist

But so what? It worked fine for the next part of the exercise. Here is the artwork I made to accompany it:

I had a black-gessoed page already set up in a sketchbook, so I used that as my surface, and my drawing materials were colored pencils. As I drew the continuous line, using a white pencil, I consciously tried to include the visual elements I mentioned in the haiku. Each one is in here more than once (take my word for it). Once done, I went over the line in pink and then colored everything in.

Now that I understand the process, I would certainly do it again. I think almost any scene could work as the inspiration to start things off – it doesn’t have to be an artwork – but I liked the aspect of paying very close attention to the art a lot. I was forced to go much deeper than the usual passing glance an artwork might get as I flip pages in a book or walk along in a museum.

And, it’s a very contemplative process. You have to slow down and go deep into your mind to be able to come up with words and art. It felt good to do it.


I’m still thinking about the picture today. Here are two more poems inspired by this session. I think you will clearly see my feelings as I look upon this scene. (I guess the word “stink” kind of cues you in. Oh dear.)

Tanka 302

the stink of wet heat.
the pink orchid in the gloom.
the warm mist veiling
the frilled gleam held in the grasp
of bulbous alien leaves


Haiku 999

leaves trod underfoot
release their stink to the air
with each step I take


I encourage you to take a look at the National Gallery of Art’s site. There are so many resources there and like this workshop, they are free. This museum is another one of the institutions that I discovered during the pandemic when I was looking for online resources, classes, lectures, and activities. I thank them for their generosity to me, the average citizen. And I thank our instructor, Sean Felix, and my classmates for a great experience.

Of Its Own Volition

From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.

Of Its Own Volition

Page through the dictionary
in search of nothing in particular
the kind of aimless and wandering
that suggests you along a path
stripping off a leaf here and there
from whatever bush or stem
your hand happens to brush

Fold over rows of tiny print
with quiet flicks of your fingers
on the thin light paper
the words in their columns bounce
rattle their syllables
a little sentence or two shakes out
the order nudges into line
like dominoes on a table
edges clacked together
like lucky throws adding up exactly right

because now
I see
what I wanted to say
it has chosen to come to me


Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 34

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

On August 19 I did a Snippets Marathon afternoon. If you’ve been following my work for a while, you know what Snippets are. If you wonder what I mean, read on, and you will most likely get the idea very quickly! Or you can always search the blog using the term “snippets” to see earlier work or learn more. 

Or, ask, questions! And I will answer them as best I can.

All right. Snippets. I had cut out the raw materials for today’s session earlier this week. I shook them out of their plastic bag and on to the work surface.

Today I arranged them roughly according to parts of speech, grouping them by nouns, verbs, and so on.


Then I started to push them around, see if anything made sense. It’s always a slow process at first.

My rule is that these Snippets must be 3 or 4 lines. Usually I can get two lines and remain stuck on the third. The trick is not to pre-determine what I’d like to be finding to complete it but to be patient and let things emerge.

I keep small useful words in their own section. 

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How about a little fun with Snippet snips? Here is what happens if you read the words too fast:

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…or without your reading glasses?

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Just kidding. OK, here are the Snippets I finished. I’ll type out a few selections.

the cook
carrying a large open crate of spinach
in his huge yellow-white teeth


remember the string breaking
and you stepping on a pearl
the only one I had found?


not that the rain
had forgotten the skies
It blew out of
but It sure told a vague story


the ghost of patterns
the echo of what was
the season for change

so many people in town need sleep,
talk about sleep
would do anything for sleep
couldn’t sleep

And sometimes, Snippets come together with a more cryptic message, the kind of thing that makes sense, and then doesn’t, and then does, but not clear and straightforward. I do not know what these Snippets mean but I like the way they talk.

as if the pink
interrupted the empty
far more than standing on glass
in the strayed daylight


began to leave and went
paid for enough and sold,
adjusted the One again And again
somewhat please always worry

Now, here are the Snippets themselves, glued on their artist trading card-sized cards.

Next, I will coat them with some acrylic medium to even out the glue streaks, copy down the words in my Snippets list and assign them numbers, and I will separate these large sheets of images into individual images, digitally, to file them away.

All right, that’s it for Snippets!

I hope everyone is well and in good spirits. Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 33

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!


On August 13 I did a short Marathon – I have had a busy week and today is especially full of various chores and activities I need to get done, or want to do. So – maybe it was more of a sprint today.

No photos, then, except for this one from my morning walk at the Norristown Farm Park:

And here are a couple of items from today.

Here’s a haiku to go with the above photo.

The horizon line
one deep green row of soybeans
a half-mile away

Just thinking about cake…


Not one more fattening peep out of you
I say to the slice of chocolate cake
lounging on my plate. It smirks.
Two can play this game and so
I fork another big bite into my mouth
well aware that
the know-it-all sitting right in front of me
is going to get right to work
the very second I swallow the bite
do its level best high-calorie damage
patient and methodical and smug.
So there, I say.
Who’s still sitting at the table?
Me or you?
I lick chocolate icing from my lips.

When we moved to our present house 17+ years ago, we had some flooding issues, long since cleared up with various repairs, but the sound of rain on our roof (which has no attic space to muffle it) still worries me. A shadorma.

Behind me
the rain approaches
sweeps across
the flat roof
lines of dominos fall hard
overhead. I flinch.



I hope everyone is well and in good spirits. Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 32

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

Another Marathon day at home, August 6, 2020. I decided to take one of my handwriting practice notebooks*, find 5 syllable phrases, and use them for haiku** writing.

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*I re-taught myself handwriting a few years back and I still practice a page a day, to improve my skills. This practice consists of writing down conversations I hear, radio or TV dialogue, snips of audio books I might be listening to, or even songs. I write slowly, so the notebooks make no sense (I am no stenographer…) but they sure do have material for thought in the weird and serendipitous connections they line up for me.

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** When I say haiku, I mean 5-7-5 syllables on any subject I feel like writing about. I’m fascinated by fitting thoughts into the syllable count and that’s haiku to me. So inside the confines of this blog, expect a haiku to count out but other than that – well, who knows?

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OK, let’s get going. Here are a few of today’s items. Oh, and these photos? I have taken photos of some pages from my notebooks and fancied them up a little. And as you can see, sometimes I indulge myself in elaborate lettering, too, if what I am hearing is not holding my interest enough to write it down.

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wait for what’s coming
thunder shouts at the black cows
huddled in the field

Think nothing of it
the skirt too tight in the waist
This cake is so good

an apology
perhaps he was remorseful
perhaps he was ill

She eats raw onions
I know you would never ask –
No, I don’t kiss her


A couple of shadorma poems. Sometimes I need more syllables, so I switch into some form that gives me…more syllables.

At close range
the fiction falls down
Get a grip
Smile real big
Limber up those eyelashes
You’ll be needing them.

I want us
to get along fine
preserve this
happy time
Wrap it in plastic. Seal it.
Smother it. Kill it.

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I hope everyone is well and in good spirits. Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 31

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

I reflect on Marathons past a little bit today – my practice was to leave home, settle in at a library or cafe, and immerse myself in the experience of writing. It’s no longer possible to do this, and I wonder if and when it will ever be, or if it is possible, will I still want to, or feel safe in it?

Somber thoughts. I turn my mind to writing, here at home, because that is where I am today, July 31, 2020.

I had made some phrase cards, phrases or words or sentences cut from old books, for inspiration.

PO 7-31-20

I can’t say they were very helpful today – I didn’t really use them. It’s funny how some days, you can look at words and feel nothing from them, and then another day, well! they just can’t stop talking!

Let’s get to a couple of things I did today.

This poem is about a postcard. Other than that I have no idea where it all came from. Just once it got rolling, well, it kept on going.

On the front of the postcard:
a photo of a square in a big city
glass skyscrapers
surrounding a gray stone church

On the back
the legend says
A view of Flenbedening Plaza and Beedliola Church

and you wrote:

Greetings from
your friend with the big mouth

told you I’d miss you
royal pain that you are

remember the Halloween you dressed as a nurse
I met your twin here in the city
she had white hair she wore in a ponytail
and pressed a stethoscope she claimed
could amplify the trend of my future
cold against my right temple. What powerful thoughts
you have in here, she told me. Just forget about them.

Truth is I feel good. I will be home soon.
And as fond as I ever was of you, that I am still.
Until I see you again.

A little bit of nostalgia for summertimes past.

How long ago was it in lawnmower years
considering the lawnmower worked summers only
that we swam pickled in a chlorinated pool
How much time has passed in afternoon thunderstorms
since we shivered eating the popsicles that turned our lips blue
How many steps have we taken in dress shoes tied too tight
since we last hopped barefoot along a hot sidewalk –
Do you ever think about how many?

I hope everyone is well and in good spirits. Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 30

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

Marathon at home today, July 23. It was pouring rain when I started to work.

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But I had my faithful friend with me in the room. I’ve had to start putting a cover on the table for him – otherwise, when I do art work here, I find cat hairs…everywhere, and pesky they are, too, to pick out of paint.

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I was thinking of doing Snippets again this week but I felt too impatient. I quickly glued an array of already-cut words and phrases to a card instead, intending to use them for inspiration. I do find a lot of intersting ideas fall into my mind from the random assortment of words…

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Let’s see what I came up with. Here are a few items.

This poem came from the line an idea what to do on the card.

An idea what to do
no I don’t have one
I told her
folding my arms
my left hand
pinching the crook of my right elbow
I do that when I’m nervous
or cornered. I do not know
I said
speaking to my wavery reflection
in the polished tabletop
instead of to my wavery reflection
in her polished face.
Can you imagine she said
and I told her
I do not know
– the rain striking at the window
mutes my last word
I don’t think she hears it –

This one arrived via the man menu on the card.

After her divorce
I reflected on a few things
I came to some conclusions
such as
She read the man menu
in too much of a hurry
that’s why she ended up with him
that’s all I can figure
slow down and pay attention
That would be one thing.
never ask for the special
just to save money
And three
if you don’t see a selection you like
try another restaurant

Here is a shadorma using the phrase social crash from the card.

social crash
the wreck still smoking
open mouths
set to gasp?
or wide-eyed vultures waiting
to pick the carcass?


After I finished, the rain stopped and things are looking a little brighter. Good, because I hope to mow the grass this afternoon.

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I hope everyone is well and in good spirits. Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 29

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

Today, July 16, the Marathon did some Snippets. For more info on Snippets, you can search under the term, or…just read on and see it for yourself!

I’ll show you photos of the Snippets as a group and then write out a few of my favorites.

Here are a few selections written out:


the island
a torn-edged piece of
Somewhere else


If you wanted breakfast
Why kill This eggplant
Why another Deadly morning


a few
became a collection
and I felt content


Of course cheap teeth
you are dangerous
and accident-prone.


I could hear the cook in the kitchen
telling mushrooms on the table
It’s your turn now


anxious money worried money
manage money make do money
a fearful run along the money ladder


I like
the sort of decorative cooking
Trying to happen in the kitchen now


you want to be rising
in search of electricity
to be collecting no souvenirs
you want not to wait


I hope everyone is well and in good spirits. Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 28

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

On July 10 the Marathon took place at home in the midst of a tropical storm (so the weather people say). Lots and lots of rain.

But I am safe inside with my workroom and my audience created by me just to cheer me on…

I did a few poems today, not many. I had to go to my library book pickup appointment and I had several other tasks to get done, so I let the Marathon be a little shorter today than usual. Here are some examples of my work today.

The theme music is action and drama, and the colors are lurid, in this part of my life.


Ten minutes after midnight
I approach the tumbledown house
in humid dark. The razor-sharp echo
of a barking dog magnified by distance
he hears me but he is too far away to hear me
he will not catch me and bite off my hand
terrifies and reassures. A candle flickers
and flares in an upstairs window
The curtain is alight now. Distressing but
Not my problem. Creeping across the grass
I flinch at another crash of thunder
take a tighter hold on my purse. Now the terrace railing.
I climb and drop. I dislike the feel of the lichened concrete
on my hands. No time to search for a tissue
to wipe them clean. A scent of moldering roses –
a whole florist shop-full of rotten sweet petals perishing –
follows me from the ruined garden. I wish I could hold my nose.
A white moth flutters around my head. Annoyed
I brush it away and drop my purse. The window above me
shatters from the heat of the flames. Glass rains down.
I finger-comb it in sparkles from my hair. Where is my purse?
I curse, not for the first time tonight, and –

Settling into the pillows
I lick my finger and turn the page.
The bedside lamp will be on
for some hours yet.

She appeared, she emerged. I just wrote it down.

She picks up fashionable
with both hands
wrings it out
pins it on the line and dares it to wrinkle
She takes attitude and walks it on her leash
She mastered bored and haughty
in the cradle
She does dramatic
from the center of her bones
radiating out through her skin
into the air into the sky the rain
across the craters on the moon
into the indigo

Plenty of people want to copy her
but she is young she is ancient
she is out of time in all kinds of ways
Knowing her is an addiction
no one wants to acknowledge
even as it exhausts and desiccates.
There is no map.
And all she does is laugh.

Things can be different. It all depends how you do it.

the body in ironed pajamas
sleeping upstairs in the tidy room
Tonight its down-to-earth mind
slips out the dream window
into the warm dense
of what will not be remembered tomorrow


I hope everyone is well and in good spirits. Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 27

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

On July 2, I decided to do some Snippets. If you wonder what Snippets are, you can search the blog for that term and you’ll see a lot of my past work. Or, you can just read below, it’s a simple concept and I think you’ll get the gist of it right away!

I had a bag of cut-out words and phrases left over from an earlier session, so I decided to use them and supplement the array with a couple of pages from one of my old discarded books that I have been using.

As always, the hypnotic calm of Snippetry came to me once I get settled at my table. I’ll show you the results, scanned, and then I’ll pick a few to type out.

If you have too many dishes this is what might happen…

forgotten cups and saucers
given up hope
reminisce in silence

I am not sure what to think about these People I mention here. Are they frozen by emotion or resigned? Or just not understanding what to do?

the People not running
timid fragile absent.
a few almost dignified

If this is happening to you, you may be new to the neighborhood and have the characteristics of someone everyone wants to meet. And feed. Is it a good thing?

You say
you are very busy
fighting off
neighbors with large casserole dishes

You know I read a lot of crime fiction and it always finds it way into what I write, sooner or later.

local celebrity
the knife in the kitchen
but he had only one flavor
and It was blood

Sometimes you are just not happy at work. Even if you are a household appliance.

at home
where a very little very angry iron
chose a strong response
to a thin cotton wool dress

You’re going out for dinner and yes you are, just not like you think. Lots of scenarios possible here, including a giant ogre pulling in the local populace.

Ah, good evening, people
take a chair
We furnish no hospitality here
you are all dinner


When I was finished with snippets I glued two paint cards full of randomly assorted phrases. And I will use them as inspiration for other poetry later. But, sometimes I think these compositions have their own charm. I’ll type each one out, then show you the cards. Indulge me, I am enjoying myself here!

Blue Card.

proved it was Wandering
bored, and medium
binoculars definitely
distance along its length,
like summer
fortunate never
sarcastic voice through the windows
nice of you. when
Let me convince
Yes and poor,
worried, too, But cleaned
of the warm dense
third to dream It’s a
all late moments
whatever a great deal.
had realized It might be anything
only for gain. again.
To take mysterious
None of them was
Feel very glad I saw
Do dramatic.

Green Card.

I want to make sure
had to realize,
the engine needing a
I don’t think they did
sleeping upstairs
as a down-to-earth mind.
cooking two lovely
no respect in a big house not really
someone tell me
immediate crop of
not the same out of place pretty
picked up fashionable quickly.
up stress
clean, in cardboard boxes
the men kept asking
a tooth along with
If you ask me, aloud
garish connoisseur copied
answer in time.

Kind of fun, huh?

Snippets extracts 7-2-20

I hope everyone is well and in good spirits. Thank you for reading!