PAD 2017 – Day 10

Travel was the theme of the Writer’s Digest prompt today. I clicked on that just after reading about another airline debacle, and another instance of physical force being used before reason or communication. I watched the video of a man being dragged from a flight, and listened to the outrage by some of the passengers. Yet, like people often do in these situations — like I would probably do in this kind of situation — people mostly sat by and watched. Interesting how we as humans are sometimes aggressive when we should be calm, and passive when we should take action.

Fly the Friendly Skies


Origins come up on planes.

Where are you from?

Are you flying home?

Stories offered, across

an armrest or an aisle.

A three-hour community,

at least for this leg.

The way we all lick pretzel salt

from our fingers, smile politely

at young parents wearing

twins on their bellies,

take our eyes off our books,

iPads or phones when the attendant

stands to talk about oxygen.

We breathe this air together,

recycled and flowing .

We stay sitting together,

when one of us is picked.

Dragged off before take-off.


The Alberta poem I thought of today manages to put a smart, political spin on the thrill of traveling to a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting. Check out Edmonton writer Ben Freeland’s “New Orleans is Clawing at My Bones.”

PAD 2017 – Day 9

Can’t believe it’s already the ninth day of National Poetry Month. NaPoWriMo central suggested a 9-line poem for today, and I took that suggestion, but not the added challenge of writing in a particular form or rhyme scheme. I also combined it with the Writer’s Digest prompt to start a poem with “So”.  There is much talk where I live about the devastating wildfire that ravaged Fort McMurray last year, so that’s what inspired this poem.


So This Is What’s Left


There are still magpies, warbling in the morning.

Along the river trail, mayflies speckle a bench.

Vagabond black bears rove the empty streets.

Crooked line of pines untouched

at the western edge of the city.

Haze has released its hold on the sky.

On this block, the Gallagher’s birch tree,

scorched but standing. The highest point.

In spring, yellow tulips will peek through the rubble.


Some poets, like Edmonton’s Lisa Martin, have an astounding ability to bring beauty to themes of loss and suffering.  Listen to her read “On Being In Love” from her latest book Believing is Not the Same as Being Saved, and read the great article and interview below.

PAD 2017 – Day 8

Panic is the prompt of the day over at Writer’s Digest, and I’m feeling it a little now, as I’ve bit off more poetic pie than I can chew this weekend. I’m committed to these daily prompts, but also signed up for CV2 Magazine’s 2-Day poem contest, and a beading workshop this afternoon, and have to get my kids to dance and sportball too, then have to work tonight. How many hours do I think there are in a day? But sometimes the pressure, and even the panic, are what I need to get moving. I decided to mix the panic prompt with NaPoWriMo’s call for a poem with repetition, so here it goes:

The Big Fall


It spreads faster than lice in a preschool,

soon we’re  trembling, sweating,

holding our hands to our chests

to slow the galloping hearts.

Don’t panic, don’t panic, relax, relax.

But it’s not as simple as that

when we’re stuck in fight, flight or freeze,

that feeling in our lungs,

like we forgot how to breathe.

Don’t panic, don’t panic, relax, relax.

Is the room on a tilt? Whipping round

like a top, can we make it stop? Ask

to get off? If we hold hands will it slow,

bring the blood back? Halt the attack?

Don’t panic, don’t panic, relax, relax.

Is this really it? The poets, they’re liars,

crazy romantics, but I need you to kiss me,

‘cuz if we’re both going mad, loopy

and falling, we’ve gotta go together.


Maybe falling in love isn’t the usual kind of panic, but I think many of the symptoms are the same. I’m also not sure if today’s Alberta poem is a love poem, but I see that when I look at it. Check out  the beautiful “For Kristen” by Calgary visual poet derek beaulieu.

PAD 2017 – Day 7

Discovery is the theme of the Writer’s Digest prompt today. There’s a thick fog outside today, and one in my head too after a night of restless sleep, so not sure how coherent these mini efforts are, but maybe I can discover something bigger from them later.


treasure hunting

the robin

unearths the worm


garbage day

crows uncover



spin class


new muscles



the shadow

on the x-ray


Edmonton poet Ray Rasmussen is a master of haiku, senryu, haibun and haiga. If you love the Japanese forms as much as I do, I encourage you to explore his wonderful website.

PAD 2017 – Day 6

Writing about sound is difficult, but when it works I think it can be one of best kinds of evocative, sensory writing. Today’s Writer’s Digest prompt asked for poems inspired by sounds. The NaPoWriMo prompt called for poems that examine a thing in several different ways, like the wonderful Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Way of Looking at a Blackbird.” Here’s my attempt at seven ways of thinking about, and hearing, sirens.

Seven Sirens



As children we’d try to pick out each one,

quick woo-woo-woo of a police car,

shrill staccato blast of the fire engine,

the scream of an ambulance,

wailing up and down the scale.

Like knowing which emergency to fear

would earn us a badge.



we tilt our heads

like dogs following a sound

like cats curious

for catastrophe




four firefighters jump on

as the truck pulls away,

a hollering siren,

a rallying cry.



Sticky summer night

they screech in

through our open window.

Not everyone’s as safe

as us together.



flat out

on the inside

of an ambulance

the bawling siren

cries for you



siren song

irresistible distraction

distressing reaction



I tell my daughter

about sirens — nymphs of the sea,

their songs said to be dangerous.

I tell my daughter

that sometimes our voice

is our only defense.


Today’s Alberta poet certainly knows how to use sound in his writing. Please take the time to watch, and listen, to Calgary poet Richard Harrison sharing poems from his book Big Breath of a Wish which chronicles his daughter’s discovery and acquisition of language.

PAD 2017 – Day 5

So many possibilities for today’s Writer’s Digest prompt to write about an element on the periodic table. The first element I thought of was copper, and it immediately reminded me of my Uncle Leif — a man of small stature and mighty character. I sort of combined that with today’s NaPoWriMo prompt to take inspiration from Mary Oliver, and incorporate some of the world’s natural wonder into your writing. Not sure there’s a lot of Mary in here, but the title is based on her poem “The Uses of Sorrow.”

The Uses of Copper


Arrive at the farm in autumn

when the amber sun sets early

over aurous fields, and stories

fall from his chapped lips

like water from a rusty pump.

You’ll know him by his dusty ball cap,

wind worn skin, and the copper wire,

welded crooked, ever round his wrist.

He’ll swear it shoos the arthritis away,

helps the blood flow, wards off colds.

He’ll show you the verdigris on the wire,

how it’s leached green onto his skin.

Elemental magic that shields him through

frigid winters, keeps him growing, going

like the rolling prairie grass.


Today’s Alberta poet is Edmonton’s Julie C. Robinson. With family and prairie roots on my brain, I thought of her beautiful poem Family Tree.

PAD 2017 – Day 4

There was some prompt harmony today between the Writer’s Digest suggestion to write a beginning or ending poem, and the POETRYisEVERYTHING prompt to write a poem in the voice of an extinct animal. The first that came to mind was passenger pigeons, because I find their story both interesting and terrible. There were an estimated 3-5 billion in North America before European contact, and by the early 1900s, none were left in the wild. The last known passenger pigeon, Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoological Garden in 1914. Here’s a stab and a start to a poem that could be the beginning of something bigger.




We remember the whir of  a thousand wings, the way

each of our bodies read the bodies at our sides.

Sky wave rolling from one cluster of oaks to the next,

we poured into valleys to rest and to feed.


How rapid the change from a few violent blasts,

to a thunder of rifles, the snag of nets,

the bite of flames and grey dust in the nests.

How hollow the wind without us.


Taking a historical perspective on Alberta writing today with Icelandic-Canadian poet Stephan G. Stephansson’s “Seasons in Alberta.” I love the imagery in here, and the line: For her own amusement alone / she teases the four winds


PAD 2017 – Day 3

Today’s Writer’s Digest prompt is to write a “______ of Love” poem. I have “not a lot of love” for this prompt, because I found it so difficult! All I could come up with was a micro of sorts, but many of the other creations I’ve read on the site are wonderful.

Parachute of Love

If I had one now
I wouldn’t be
falling for you
so hard.

It was much easier for me to pick an Alberta poet today, and fittingly there’s some lusty humour and masterful wordplay in her poem. Leslie Greentree is a Griffin Poetry Prize nominated writer from Red Deer. Please check out this excellent video of her reading “if I was a gate” from her book go-go dancing for Elvis.



PAD 2017 – Day 2

Doing a bit of prompt mixing today with the the suggestion to write a poem inspired by a recipe, and the Writer’s Digest “not today” prompt. Today would’ve been my Mom’s 74th birthday, so this one’s still at the fresh-from-the-sentimental-oven stage.


How to Celebrate


To do it right

I’d make you a cherry pie,

the perfect crust, flaky and just brown,

sticky sweet filling bubbling at the edges

and a fork-print “M” in the centre

for Mom.


To do it right

I’d celebrate your birthday

with tulips and a tune,

Song Sung Blue, a hot cup of coffee,

a mucky walk along

the river.


To do it right

I’d gather photos of you,

before I was born,

before any of us were,

and your hair fell past

your shoulders.


To do it right

I’d read that soft smile

for the woman you were,

more on your lips

that I wish you could

tell me.


My Alberta poem share today is by Calgary poet Tyler B. Perry, titled “I don’t teach subjects; I teach students.” It’s one of my favourites from his first book, Lessons in Falling.