Yesterday, we celebrated Earth Day and today, I’m due to introduce a new type of poem, so I’m aiming to score two goals with a single tool.  Dig it?  The “GOLDEN SHOVEL” sounds like a gardening award but is actually a contemporary poetic form created by Terrance Hayes.  And
a clever way to pay homage to a favorite poet.  Here are the rules:

1. Borrow a line from a poem you admire.
2. Use the words of the borrowed line as the end words of your lines.
3. Keep the end words in order.
4. Give credit to the poet you borrowed from.

NOTE:  Your poem need not be about the same subject as the original



He is there for me every
single minute of the day
Even in the bathroom, I
am never alone, you see,
he provides company or
protection or whatever I
require as if he can hear
my thoughts, something
he does with an ease that
mystifies. But he is more;
my soulmate perhaps, or
a shrink who charges less
and really listens. He kills
me with hilarity, slays me
with tricks, fells me with
love, buries me in delight

*A Golden Shovel from Mindful by Mary Oliver

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In my little village, art is highly valued and might be found anywhere.  Years ago, the painting below was on display at our local pizza parlor, part of a small art show.  Something about it spoke to me, and it was inexpensive, so I bought it.  I later learned the artist was a student in junior high.  It was the first piece she’d ever sold and she was elated.  Knowing that made it positively priceless.  To this day, that dandelion painting hangs above my desk, a testament to everyday beauty and a reminder that it’s never too early (or late) to indulge the creative self.

So I chose to make it the subject of an EKPHRASTIC poem.  These are vivid descriptions inspired or stimulated by a work of art, most often a painting or sculpture.  Additionally, the poet may use her imagination
to narrate, reflect, or otherwise amplify or expand upon its meaning.


drift over the border
of a square blue world
devoid of breeze,
remaining aloft
on the singular power
of a fervent wish

Riding high on
the hopes and dreams
of a fledgling artist
whose stiff brush
dances across
her canvas trampoline

Amateur fingers
tracing the wild shape
of serendipity
visible only
to audacious believers
willing to imagine it


Here is another, a “wishful” triolet from last fall:


A dandelion gone to seed
can color spring with yellow
Packaged cleverly, indeed
A dandelion gone to seed
Make a wish and set it free
Aloft and soft and mellow
A dandelion gone to seed
can color spring with yellow


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Just Joan features yet another new form this week.  This one is rather gimmicky, and as such, presented a colossal challenge.  Read the poem slowly and carefully.  See if you can figure out what is special about it.


Spent, pate to toe,
far past espresso,
of a state apropos
for a nap

Afternoon frees one
to tap open season,
to reap for no reason
a nap

Star operator
of a potent sonar
senses fortress not far
for a nap

Sofas possess
apt erasers of stress
or so patrons attest:
Naps, naps, naps!

No opposer, no foe,
no trespasser – presto!
A safe spot for repose,
for a nap

A soft, serene nest
for a soporate rest,
or a profane snore-fest,
for a nap

Naps appease, naps sate
Naps restore, naps penetrate
Naps ease a tense state
Naps rate!

So snare a transport
free of fare, sans passport
to a far-off resort:
Port O’Nap


Give up?  “Afternoon Naps” is an ANAGRAMMATIC poem.  In this form, all of the words in the poem are constructed from a given set of letters, in this case, those in the poem’s title.  I allowed myself unlimited use of the sanctioned letters in each word, but no other leeway.  Point of the exercise?  Cutting out two-thirds of the alphabet might slow a poet down, but it will not stop her.  Somehow, she will still find a way.

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ABECEDARIAN is an ancient poetic form based on alphabetical order. Generally, the first line begins with the first letter of the alphabet and subsequent lines begin with successive letters until the final letter is reached.  My friend Chevvy wrote a really impressive one last spring; click HERE to read it.  Mine is a simple list compiled from the pages of my gratitude journal.  Try one!  What inspires YOU?



Autumn, Apple Butter, Aurora Borealis
Blizzards, Baby animals, Baking cookies
Cloud formations, Candles in windows
Dandelion puffs, Dreams remembered
Earth and Echoes and Earflaps on hats
Farm markets, Fireflies, Freckled Faces
God, Gratitude, Guacamole with chips
Handwritten letters and Happy endings
Inner vision, Imagination, and Insanity
Jazz saxophones, Java, and Journaling
Karma coming full circle, playing Kazoo
Libraries, Life Lessons, and Loving arms
Muses, Memory, the Moon when it’s full
Nature, Naptime, and a New Notebook
Orchid blossoms, Oldsters with attitude
Pet antics, Prompts, and Practical jokes
Quiet mornings, Quilts stitched by hand
Rainbows and Random Acts of Kindness
Serendipity, Syncopation, Street Music
Teachers, Time alone, Thunderstorms
Underdog victories and Ugly Umbrellas
Volkswagen Busses that go Vroooom!
Wonder, Wood smoke, Window seats
X on a treasure map, XXX’s and OOO’s
Yoga in motion, Yakking with my sister
Zinnias flanking the Zigzag path of life

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Even the tiniest ray of light shines brighter at this time of year, as the approach of Winter Solstice casts a long, deep shadow over the earth.

A few of my favorite winter things are featured in this KYRIELLE.  A Kyrielle is a poem comprised of two or more quatrains that follow a rhyme scheme (aabb, abab, aaab, abcb, etc).  Each line contains eight syllables.  The final line of each quatrain is, in whole or part, a refrain.



Hardwood logs in stoves for heating
Flames revived from winking embers
Chill and darkness swift retreating
Crackling warmth in dark December

Cats in sunny windows preening
Cactus blooms in fuchsia splendor
Wreath and garland evergreening
Signs of life in dark December

Downy snow the brown earth meeting
coating branches stark and slender
Cardinals zipping down and feeding
Red and white in dark December

Silver cards and golden greetings
by the smiling postman tendered
Carolers house to house proceeding
Joyful verse in dark December

Laden tables from the fleeting
days of autumn’s harvest rendered
Words of thanks the feast completing
Bounty shared in dark December

Random acts of kindness speeding
to the low and unremembered
Rippling forth, and hence repeating
Shining hope in dark December

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Cascade is a form of poetry in which all the lines from the first stanza (usually a tercet or a quatrain) are repeated, in order, as the final lines of the subsequent stanzas.  Beyond the repetition of these lines, the form imposes no rules.  Happy November, everyone!



She waits for the lazy sun
to warm the chilly morning
as red leaves flutter down

Snoozing later each day
beneath her cozy blankets,
she waits for the lazy sun

Chimneys puff sweet smoke
from hardwood fires kindled
to warm the chilly morning

A blazing maple shimmies
waving her arms in the wind
as red leaves flutter down

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I did a post about orchids in July, about a week after mine bloomed.  Those gorgeous flowers have lasted over two months.  This week, as they began to shrivel and die, I was feeling a bit depressed.  I’d have to wait a whole year for it to blossom again.  I grabbed my camera to take one last photo and as I zoomed in, I noticed something I hadn’t before:  two additional buds!  (See them?  Over on the left?)  Which means my intrepid little plant may still be sitting pretty on Thanksgiving…  one more lovely thing to be grateful for this year!


The second update is about Grace Norman of Jamestown, Ohio, the Olympic athlete who was the subject of my poem Fifty Feet from GraceGrace competed in the Paralympic games in Rio
in September.  She kicked butt, taking the GOLD MEDAL in the triathlon and the BRONZE in the 400-meter run.  You talk about a hometown girl making good!  Go, Grace!

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Now that I’ve met my goal of posting weekly for one year, I am at a crossroads.  A few friends have wondered how long I’m going to keep “piddling around” here on WordPress.  Admittedly, my tiny blog has not rocketed me into literary fame and fortune.  But in my defense, I think a lot more has gone on here than just piddling.  For instance:

1) This is the longest string of journal entries I have ever written
2) It is eternally preserved in the cloud for everyone’s reading pleasure
3) My non-techie self was able to learn and master WordPress.  Go, me!
4) I now know I can bust through writer’s block and meet a deadline
5) I’ve gotten to share stories and memories with family and friends
6) I’ve met awesome bloggers from all over the world
7) I’ve found many interesting blogs that I will continue to follow
8) I’ve been nominated for blogging awards
9) I have more than doubled my number of followers in just one year
10) Best of all, I’ve gotten lots of ordinary people to like poetry, probably many who faithfully read these pages only to humor me

You’ve got to admit, that’s a heck of a nice list of accomplishments.  That said, I think the time has come to move on and use what I have learned here to conquer my other writing goals.  I plan to keep my site, for the ease of viewing other blogs on WordPress Reader.  A big thanks to all my regulars, especially those who left comments and words of encouragement.  Who knows?  I may revive JJ42 after a long winter’s nap, so keep me on the radar.  10-4, good buddies, over and out.

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Earlier this month, my husband turned the big 5-2.  When my plans to procure a German chocolate cake from a local bakery fell through, I dug out the recipe I’ve used in past years and read it over, jotting down a list of ingredients I’d need to purchase.  By the end, I realized two things:   1) baking this cake from scratch is a pain in the bananas, and 2) there is only one person in the world for whom I would do it.  Soon afterward, this Ghazal poem came spilling out, almost word for word:


I wanted to make something great for you
The world’s finest birthday cake, for you

I’d preheat the oven, line three pans with
parchment as the recipe dictates, for you

I’d cook the icing, caramelizing butter and
sugar, stirring at a constant rate, for you

I’d chop baking chocolate, melt and mix it
smooth, four large eggs separate, for you

I’d beat the batter slowly, small amounts
of flour and buttermilk alternate, for you

I’d whip the egg whites and fold them in,
Pour evenly into the pans to bake, for you

I’d watch carefully, and halfway through,
each pan’s position I would rotate, for you

I’d pull the layers at exact doneness, cool,
then freeze, the icing refrigerate, for you

I’d assemble the cake with an artist’s flair
Thick icing, all the layers straight, for you

I’d adorn it with candles, light ‘em up, and
sing!  Grab some forks and plates, for you

I’d do it all again on birthday fifty-three,
four, five, six, seven, eight… just for you

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