PAD 2022 – Day 30

The big finale! Like every April that I attempt a poem-a-day challenge, the month has flown by, and I can barely remember anything I wrote. May becomes a quieter month, of re-reading and polishing.

Today’s prompt asked for a cento, which is a form I have never tried before. This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems. If you’d like to dig into an in-depth example, here’s John Ashbery’s cento “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” and here it is again, fully annotated to show where every line originated.

My lines come from a variety of poems posted under the Poetry Foundation’s “Poetry and the Environment” category. I plan to post an annotated version of this, listing all the poems and poets, when I get a chance. But for now it comes incomplete, but appropriate, on a day when I’m about to host a workshop and reading at the Edmonton Poetry Festival about poems that address the climate crisis.

a deer walked into the house while I was writing at the kitchen table
(or: a cento for the end of the world)

the earth says have a place, be what that place requires.
this sort of song tells a certain sort of story,

that it is we who are important.
a story about having something 
and then losing it.

then, even here
life will be different, good tillable land so dear.
flames pour forth when the faucet’s unstopped.

here the worst ever. every tree hurt. 
how easy it is to live with little deaths
their beauty has more meaning
in past tense.

the deer
looked at me with a stilled defiant terror, like a thing with no choices.

what will survive us
has already begun
Photo by Chris F on

PAD 2022 – Day 29

The penultimate day of the poem-a-day challenge! I think I say that every year, mostly because I love the word “penultimate.” I may say that every year too.

Because of regular life busy-ness, and the Edmonton Poetry Festival workshop and reading I have tomorrow, all I’ve managed today is another micro inspired by the 30/30 prompt “a slight change of plans.”

the way

one slight change 
can create an opening 
for a substantial


PAD 2022 – Day 27

The prompt for the day was to write a “duplex.” A “duplex” is a variation on the sonnet, developed by the poet Jericho Brown. Here’s one of his first “Duplex” poems, and here is a duplex written by the poet I.S. Jones. Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first. Completing this was tough for me, partly because it’s an exciting, but challenging form, and partly because what emerged in the writing was a difficult topic. I’d say it’s definitely not ready, but my opening and closing line to share are:

Some memories are fluid, like water taking the shape of what holds them.

PAD 2022 – Day 26

An untitled micropoem after the 30/30 prompt “personal effects.”

the personal effect
of carrying your nightgown,
glasses, wedding ring,
in a plastic grocery bag,
still felt in my chest
seven years later

PAD 2022 – Day 25

Today’s prompt is based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. The challenge was to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.

Sky-Woman on Suburban Drive

Spéir-bhean arrives at a dawn,

semi-blocked by garages and tall poplars,

50-year-old pines. Walks on winter discards —

gravel, sticks, a slop of grey snow.

Passes each bungalow, eyes which roofs

have shingles curled like night-out eyelashes,

which lie flat and fresh.

She can enter the dreams of those

brains still-at-rest. Bring calm or chaos.

Plant lilies or lay dragon eggs. Show

them how soft and warm it is, the bed

they inhabit. Whisper a reminder

it is just luck that you are where you are

and place a gentle finger on the forehead

that might form as tingle, or headache.

That might last while they have

their first sip of coffee and choose

what blessings to give or take.

Photo by Mian Rizwan on

PAD 2022 – Day 23

It’s a prompt combo day, using the 30/30 phrase “opposite of history” and the prompt asking for a poem written in the style of Kay Ryan, whose poems tend to be short and snappy – with a lot of rhyme and soundplay. They also have a deceptive simplicity about them, like proverbs or aphorisms. Examples here with “Token Loss,” “Blue China Doorknob,” “Houdini,” and “Crustacean Island,” and my copycat poem below.


Tomorrow is not

the opposite of history,

but a composite

of moments and things

we’ve done before,

hitting snooze, stretching,

making coffee, putting on shoes,

to enter the world again

and trying not to forget

to look up at the sky

once in awhile, to breathe,

be free to see meaning

in clouds without losing

your head in them.

Photo by Seda Tekemen on

PAD 2022 – Day 21

Today’s prompt is exactly the kind I love, because it got out of my usual poetic paths. Inspired by poet Betsy Sholl, the prompt asks you to write a poem in which you first recall someone you used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job you used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that you saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, close the poem with an unanswerable question.

What I wrote is still a work in progress, but I will share these lines:

Have you ever seen Frida Kahlo’s What the Water Gave Me? The scar across the right big toe?

The strange and intricate renderings of life and death? A maze of tendrils and shoots,

invading — the bathwater and perhaps her skin? Sometimes you feel like this to me —

What the Water Gave Me, Frida Kahlo, 1983