Golden Shovel

Recently, Poetic Asides (Robert Brewer) hosted a challenge to write a Golden Shovel poem. This was a new form to me.

Here are the rules:

· Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
· Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
· Keep the end words in order.
· Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
· The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.

Robert sorted through 700 comments. You can imagine my glee at finding my name on the top ten list. I’ve only made that list once before so perhaps I was a little giddy. Congrats to all the winners!



“Things I’ve learned along the wrong path”
by J.lynn Sheridan

The pining of the evening winds tell
another story—the capture of lovers and all
their secrets never explored because the
things that really matter are forgotten–truth,
beauty, and purity—the trinity of passion. But
when truth hurts and beauty fails to tell
of its suffering, only purity remains. It
stands alone as the plumb line without slant.

From Emily Dickinson #1129


The soft changeling

“The soft changeling”

They went in as lemon.
They came out as squid.

I slide the muffins from the oven wondering
if I can serve changelings at church.

K is yammering about handstands—as if. . .
as if she is young and lithe, but I hear only
a pecking at this loofah orb that has surrounded
me all morning.

Before the coffee, before the bagel, before
the jagged email, I power-walked a vacuum
poem, feeble and leashed.

Picking at the sweet hot squid I wonder why
memories can’t be neutral.

Long ago, I learned how to brandish a hot
poker whenever the Polaroids of G surfaced
from the ancient crevices in my mind, I learned
to wield two or three to ward off the see-saw
memories—my nemesis of this still life.

I ask and ask myself why can’t the written
word be neutral? Why are writers taught to
emote or elicit emotion? It’s heart abuse.

I rub lemon ink from my palms and think I
hear her collapsing in the grass—laughing.
She was a scramble of a girl in Indian braids
and clovers—thief of my room, thief of my sleep,
now thief of my peace.

She did everything soft—she coddled, she sang,
she read with singsong flutters like Gretal in a
cotton white nightgown, but was never coddled,
never sung to, never read to. . .

When we played Tom Sawyer in the basement
she played Becky with a gentle lisp, when we
twirled in canoes on Minnesota lakes she flew
with the loons and evening meteors.

So soft
she chose the snow she loved,
the silence of the aspens in the
Utah mountains, the quilted
blanket found in her car,

so softly
accepting of the lies
set in stone inside her soul.

K pecks, I mold warm changelings
wedged in this vacuum of G’s soft resignation.

“Love risking”

The prompt for this week was to write a risk poem. There are all kinds of risks we can take. Just getting up in the morning can be risky at times. We risk our health, we risk our lives, we risk losing. On the flip side, we risk winning. I chose to go with something we all struggle with–love. Revealing your heart can be damaging as well as uplifting. It’s always a risk.

“Love risking”

It’s risky to open a wound and cry
nose-blowing grief. I never wanted you
to see me this way, sharing female woes,
but you didn’t throw rocks or construct me
into a demon, instead you kissed my
fingers and tucked my cold toes between your
aching calves pretending that nothing else
mattered more than brushing my pain into
your worn palms.

Lie if you must but tell me my grief will not
risk our love forever.

(picture courtesy of stock.xchng)

“The end of herself”

Another Wednesday Prompt. We’re suppose to write a dead end poem. I seem to be running into a lot of those. Note: not all poetry is autobiographical, but you never know. . .

“The end of herself”

Summer after summer
while she waited for someone
to stoop
to lift her chin

and stare intently into her eyes,
the faces in the knotholes
in the floorboards
below her knees

mirrored a friend.

“The lady on the bridge”

Today’s prompt was to write a friend of a friend poem, either in the voice of the friend of a friend or about that person. Writing about a friend of a friend threw me for a few minutes. But, this was great practice at disassociating myself from the poem itself, keeping it from becoming sentimental, which a writing teacher of mine said was imperative for good poetry.

“The Lady On the Bridge”

I only saw what he told me—

Her violet hair in the moonlight,

face painted with thorns,

crying for silence,

arms and feet in an

arabesque leap,

voice catching on the

mooring line

snug around her neck.

(photo courtesy stock.xchng)