For Your Own Good

Written for:  Poetic Asides #299 – Write a careless poem.

I would be remiss
in my position
of neighborhood tactician
if I did not tell what people are saying,
relaying, about you and new beau.
Show some sense, they say,
way to soon, widowed too recent.
Decent women wait.
Dating after one
month is rather callous,
Alice. Whispers linger,
fingers point at you
two when you stroll arm in arm.
Harm may befall you,
do take care, my dear.
Clearly, they disapprove;
you’ve got to see that.
At least you are hearing it from me.
See, I would be remiss,
if I did not tell you.

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Forlorn Flower

Written for:  Carpe Diem Little Creatures #18, Issa’s “rice blossoms”


the dragonfly too
folds hands in prayer…
rice blossoms

(c) Kobayashi Issa

The “too” (mo) implies that a farmer, perhaps Issa, is the other person in the scene offering a prayer of thanksgiving for the good rice crop, that now has gone to blossom and is ready for harvest. The dragonfly joins in. Issa’s poem deserves to be read at face value: this dragonfly really is praying, not just seeming to pray. The fact that its “hands” are rubbing together is, of course, coincidental. But this prayer-like gesture captures Issa’s attention and leads him to conclude that the little dragonfly sitting in stillness, perhaps on the blooming tip of a rice plant, is, in fact, praying. If the key prayer in Pure Land Buddhism is one of gratitude for Amida Buddha’s saving grace–an experience of trusting in the Other Power of the Beyond while letting go of selfish calculations–then the dragonfly, non-calculating, surrendering to the wind, fully attuned to the present moment…is the purest embodiment of prayer. (Source:


Forlorn flower

Opens tight petals to light

Touched by blue butterfly

© Sara McNulty

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Searching for Cracks

Written for:  dVerse Poets, Pick a Line (from one of the listed poems)

Searching for cracks on boardwalks–
No, that is black marker,
simply a wisecrack.
Wrong. That is a deciphered code.
Sorry, a clap of thunder.
Oddball does not count
unless he can count
all the cracks on boardwalks,
(not counting Monopoly).

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Written for:  Carpe Diem #674, Channel – Impressionism – Sapozhnikova Svetlana

Credits: Another sight on the channel (c) Sapozhnikova Svetlana

Credits: Another sight on the channel (c) Sapozhnikova Svetlana

Soft pink light

Gondoliers await lovers

Twilight in Venice

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Using Lightness

Written for:  Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #8, Karumi (Lightness)
Bashô developed this concept during his final travels in 1693. Karumi is perhaps one of the most important and least understood principles of haiku poetry. Karumi can best be described as “lightness,” or a sensation of spontaneity. In many ways, karumi is a principle rooted in the “spirit” of haiku, rather than a specific technique.

Two examples:

Underneath the trees,
Soups and salads are buried
In cherry blossoms.

A spring warbler casts
A dropping on the rice cakes —
The veranda edge..

© Basho

Round blue eyes, surprised
His mouth parts, legs touch water
Sea turtle is saved

© Sara McNulty

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A Dad Moment

Written for:  

Carpe Diem Special #134, Fuyuko Tomita’s “actors we all are, she said ”
Inspiration from:

Actors we all are, she said
mirrors to reflect
each other
We all leave the stage, she said
and left a smile in mine

© Fuyuko Tomita

Milk spills from my nose
His timing is perfection
One gulp, and laughter
Mom admonishes us both
I carry his smile, always.

© Sara McNulty

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House of Sunshine (a shadorma)

Written for:  Margo Roby’s Poem Tryouts
Three posted paintings:

You can choose one and write a straightforward response to what you see.

You can choose one and write a poem based on the emotion it evokes.

You can mix the paintings and take details from each to create your poem.

You can pick a single detail to use as your spark.

Whichever and however you respond, try to have a quality of light in the poem — it might involve colour, but doesn’t have to.

Still Life Before the Yellow House by Raoul Dufy

Still Life Before the Yellow House by Raoul Dufy

Her house of yellow

warmed her friends

glowed at night.

Wine more robust, fruit sweeter,

everyone smiling.

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Swallowed Alive

Written for:  The Mag #259

clown 1

Do not go inside.  There is no party
in a hollowed out clown. People sit
at tables–laughing, eating–with no
idea that they can never leave.
It is all a facade. His eyes
are mad, his head crowned
with sharpened swords. Does he
seem to laugh? No.
There is only horror
behind those eyes,
that stare, and snag
new fools who will never
be seen again. Do not go
inside. There is no party.

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An Anti-Love Poem in Winter

Written for:  Phoenix Rising, The Sound of Love:  The Sound in Emotion

As we’ve explored, the lilting music of love has a quality that placates our hearts and touches souls. But the edgy, almost angry or angst filled sense of this “dark side” of love has a certain timber to it. The sound is more driven by the emotion. Jealousy, paranoia, uncertainty and self-doubt all come off sounding different from one another.

So, to close out February and to silence the sounds of love, develop some of those dreaded “anti-love” poems.

Watch out for fast flies
buzzing, honing in
on the scent of honey
that drips from your tongue
in a litany of lies.

Shovel the snow that whites
that blackness of your heart.
Cart it away with all
the other parts of me
you have destroyed,
and all those wasted years
I will never get back.

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She, of the Sea

Written for:  Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads, “Play It Again, Toads! #14, archived poem

Based on Fireblossom Friday’s “Rhyme Royal challenge
Today we’re going to try the Rhyme Royal. It’s pretty simple, really.
The rhyme scheme is a-b-a-b-b-c-c. You can write seven-line stanzas, or you can break it up as a tercet and two couplets, like this:

a-b-a, b-b, c-c

OR as a quatrain and a tercet, like this:

a-b-a-b, b-c-c.

You can stop with seven lines, or repeat your pattern for as many stanzas as you like, making the Rhyme Royal a fine vehicle for narrative poetry. There is no syllable count, and although the Rhyme Royal is often written in iambic pentameter, we’re not bothering with that today. Just follow the rhyme scheme and one of the seven line patterns I have laid out above.

From blue-green waters she rises with grace
her black hair long and flowing
down shimmering ivory shoulders. In place
of legs, a tail of golden scales is glowing.
A mermaid, lovely, she is all-knowing.
An exotic creature of the sea
is blowing a kiss directly at me.

She beckons me, come take a swim,
I’ll show you treasures ‘neath the ocean.
Toward her I run; we both dive in,
me following her every motion.
We see red fish with yellow fins.

Alas, I cannot stay asleep,
I wake to scents of salt and sweet.

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