Poem #23 – A Poem About a Donkey

donkeyToday I share a story about a donkey that began as a story about three. To the left is Gertrude, the mother of little Pedro, just 5 days old on the day this picture was taken!

But it’s truly Pete, the patriarch pictured below, who inspired my poem for today.

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Many thanks to the German family, owners of these wonderful donkeys and the beautiful farm where they live.

To catch up on my progress so far, I hope you’ll breeze through the daily list to read Poems #21 and #22.

You’ll also enjoy reading the work of my fellow poets, which inspire me every day.

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month. Scroll  down read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Poem #20 – Little Town of Ether

etherYou don’t have to open a book to plunge into the history of our state. Try visiting a little town like Ether. Although they often fell victim to North Carolina’s all-too-brief gold rush or the decline of our textile mills, these little communities are coping in their own way. And even with tiny populations, many of these towns still have enough life to make a visit a rewarding and poignant experience.

The little town of Ether, Montgomery County, N.C., inspired my poem for today.

To catch up on my progress so far, I hope you’ll breeze through the daily list to read:
#19 – The Harry She Loved
#18 – RU OK?
#17 – Small Failures
#16 – Small Miracles
#15 – Inclined to Mischief

You’ll also enjoy reading the work of my fellow poets, which inspire me every day. If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month. Scroll  down read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Poems 12 & 13 – Fairies and Fritters

Today we’re catching up with two poems. Yesterday, for my son’s 28th birthday,  I posted a special poem in honor of him and the walks we used to take through a field inhabited by fairies.  Scroll down the list for Day #12 to read “The Magical Field of the Lollygaggers.”

fritterOn a lighter note, for today (Day #13), the subject is donuts, a prompt suggested by Faisal Mohyuddin, one of the 9 poets writing as part of the 30/30 Tupelo Press Poetry Project in April. My poem is titled “The Last One” and focuses on that last sad donut that always seems to be left in the box. It’s been fun to read how my fellow poets have addressed the same sweet topic in recent days, whether it be the long john or the ubiquitous glazed dozen.

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month. Scroll  down read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Poem #11: Meet Baby the Dog (Wolf)!

baby1I’ve written about the cats in our life, Kiki and Little Puss, along with the two littlest dogs, Buster and Finn. Today it’s time the shyest of them had her moment in the sun. Meet Baby, the husky-shepherd mix (pictured to the left) rescued by Johnpaul years ago.

Want to read it? Scroll down in the alphabetical list for Day #11 to read “Somnambulant Dog.”

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month.  Please do read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Poem #10 – Waiting for the Wood Thrush

We made it to Day 10 – whew! Only twenty more days to go. But I have to say that I’m thoroughly enjoying this poetry challenge. As I mentioned to a friend, it’s a little like documenting your daily life through a diary of poetry.

In keeping with yesterday’s poem about the delights of spring, today we’ll anticipate the arrival of the wood thrush, a rather woodthrushnondescript bird in terms of appearance, but with a song as ethereal as the nightingale. Have you heard it?

Want to read my poem? Scroll down the list for Day #10 to read “Waiting for the Wood Thrush.”

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month.  Please do read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Poem #9 – Wild blackberries, friend or foe?

blackberrySpringtime along Whale Tail Road in southwestern Randolph County brings abundant joys but I’m on the fence when it comes to the plethora of wild blackberries. They have more “volunteers” than any other plant and seem to pop up in the most unlikely places–even in the gravel!

So today’s poem addresses the mixed blessing of wild blackberries. Want to read it? Scroll down in the alphabetical list for Day #9 to read “Pulling up the Wild Blackberry Bushes.”

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month.  Please do read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Poem #8 – One About a Ghost

rebecca\

One of my favorite sources of poetic inspiration is dreams. They offer an endless variety of unfettered thoughts with hoards of images and surprises. Today’s poem is inspired by someone else’s dream.

Want to read it? If so, scroll down in the alphabetical list for Poem #8 to read “Why My Lover Dreamt of a Naked Ghost Named Rebecca.”

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month.  Please do read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Happy Holidays from Janet at Lifeline!

On Friday night, Johnpaul and I participated in the annual Fall Open Mic sponsored by the Creative Writing Program at Central Carolina Community College. The event was kindly hosted by the Joyful Jewel, a vibrant arts and craft gallery in the heart of downtown Pittsboro.

The optional theme this year, fittingly enough, was holiday angst, and we heard a variety of creative works featuring the joy and occasional madness that marks the holidays. We heard the travails of a real working Santa (featuring local Santa Al Capehart), fiction by Robin Whitten, Kim Overcash and Linda Johnson, and poetry by Judith Stanton, Bonnie Korta, Ruth Moose and our emcee Mary Barnard, among many other delightful voices. We also had the honor of hearing Michele Berger read a poignant essay on her mother that was published in “Letters to My Mother,” a book which featured the voices of other celebrity and national personalities. Yes, Michele is our own celebrity!

ashleyjp

Johnpaul and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read a “re-mix” of “The Suicide You Prevent Might Be Your Own.” In this version of our darkly humorous 3-minute play, innocent sports fan Russell Huggins is unlucky enough to accidentally call Janet, a stressed-out suicide prevention counselor, while trying to order a pizza for the Peach Bowl party he’s hosting on New Year’s Eve.

As with all of the open mic events sponsored by the Creative Writing Program, the roster invariably features a wide variety of talent and the full spectrum of human emotion–from laughter to tears to joy.

santa

We hope to see you at one of our events soon, but in the meantime, stay tuned for the spring catalog of creative writing courses offered by the College. These classes will not only sharpen your writing skills, but they will also introduce you to terrific people who, like those I’ve been privileged to get to know, may become lifelong buddies.

Got an Extra Hour? Write a Villanelle!

With the end of Daylight Savings Time,  Johnny and I decided to spend a little time on one of our favorite activities–writing poetry. And with an extra hour on our hands, it was time to tackle the famed villanelle!

Made famous by Dylan Thomas, Elizabeth Bishop, and Sylvia Plath, the villanelle is enjoying new popularity among contemporary poets. For examples and to see the rhyme-scheme, click here. I love them all, but I will never tire of Plath and her Mad Girl’s Love Song.

From a poet’s perspective, the villanelle can be rather “villanous” to compose, given its head-scratching structure. It’s not the best form for narrative poetry; it’s best for lyrical and more philosophic topics. Some poets use the villanelle to express ideas or thoughts that trouble them. My advice is to choose a topic that fascinates or moves you. You’re more likely to finish it!

Johnny and I composed our villanelles separately (promise!) but not surprisingly, we addressed in our way, the notion of time. For fun, we’ll share them below.

Don’t Seize the Day
Ashley Memory

Everyone says you should seize the day
Bustle and hustle until the sun drops down.
But who has to listen to what they say?

A life worth having is not lived that way
Muse at the sun, weave a clover crown.
Don’t listen to those who seize their days.

Revel in the roses, snuggle in the hay
Smile, just smile, while the others frown.
Never, never listen to what others say.

Do what you like; only yourself obey
Sip at the fountain, be the talk of the town.
Don’t let anyone else seize your day!

At night let the stars guide your sleigh
And the moon wrap you in his gauzy gown.
He never listens to what others say!

Hours or dollars? What will you pay?
Time worth spent is far better found.
Everyone says you should seize the day
But who has to listen to what they say?

Save My Luck for Another Day
Johnpaul Harris

There seems to be no other way
Feel your love under the crescent moon
Save my luck for another day.

Play is work and work is play
On the bed we two will spoon
There seems no other way.

Kissing on your feet of clay
We celebrate new lemon bloom
Save my luck for another day.

We always know just what to say
And words to chase away the gloom
There seems to be no other way.

We seem to sift the time away
In endless space or tiny room
Save my luck for another day.

And the way we live from June to May
A century would end too soon
There seems to be no other way
Save my luck for another day.

Poetry at Lake Junaluska and More!

This weekend I had the pleasure of traveling with my friend and fellow writer Mary Barnard (whom I met through the CCCC Creative Writing Program) to the second annual Your Daily Poem workshop at the tranquil setting of Lake Junaluska.

lake3grave

The hand-carved grave of Squire Boone, next to his wife Sarah and Israel Boone, brother of Daniel.

Poets are known to take little detours so please pardon me for digressing but Mary and I took the scenic route and ended up in Mocksville, which we learned was a boyhood home of Daniel Boone and actually the site of his parents’ graves! (Where is Daniel? The remains of this famous frontiersman are actually in Frankfurt, KY.) One detour led to another and somehow we ended up eating lunch at Maria’s Salvadorean restaurant where we had our first pupusas and taste of horchata. Delicious!

Because the workshop didn’t start until 6 p.m., we decided to go to poet Carl Sandburg’s house in Flat Rock first. This poet, historian, musician, essayist, and novelist spent the last 22 years of his life here. Although I’ve visited numerous literary sites in my time, ironically, it was only now that I ventured to this fabled site in my own home state. And what a treat! Those who know me best know how much I love plundering through the personal possessions of writers!

lake4house

The interior of Sandburg’s beloved Connemara is currently undergoing renovations until 2018; however, there remained enough of a footprint to imagine the daily life of a man once described as the “voice of America.” Yet in spite of his Pulitzers, he rejoiced in the simple things, as evidenced in his poem Happiness. His simplicity is also illustrated by what is not on the property. There still exists a concrete-lined hole in the front yard because once he bought the estate, Carl had the fountain removed because he thought it was too pretentious!

lake2desk

The desk of the poet and his cherished typewriter. His library also contains a table constructed from wood used at the White House during the age of Abraham Lincoln, the subject of his famous biography.

We ended our visit by strolling down to the goat dairy established by Sandberg’s wife Paula. She was a tour de force in her own right, and among other things, a linguist, literature teacher, activist and champion breeder of Nubian and Swiss goats. Bottlefed since birth, the friendly descendants of the Sandburg herd are quite unafraid of humans. And they still win awards for their milk production.

lake5goat

Whoa Nellie, literally, as the goat Nellie charges young Cinnamon to take her place at the feeding trough.

We were a little late for dinner at our workshop, but we were heartily welcomed nonetheless by the poet Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, the creator of this wonderful online poetry community that now boasts  thousands of subscribers.

lake view

Aren’t the best skies a bit moody? The fog in the morning followed us from Sandburg’s home, like you guessed it… little cat feet.

On our first evening, we were treated to the toe-tapping rhythms of Twin Courage, fronted by Rachael Gallman and Jayne’s son Jaron Ferrer. Their music is influenced by the writing of Ray Bradbury and their own affinity for the natural world (“Black Bear” was a favorite of mine!). The two-day workshop (even amidst unexpected Saturday rain) brought fellowship and instruction. The participants, poets across the nation, learned from celebrated writers Richard Allen Taylor, Dana Wildsmith, Phebe Davidson and Joe Mills. We tackled topics such as line length, images, metaphors, and poetic devices, all important tools in the poet’s backpack.

On Saturday night, we enjoyed hearing from our workshop leaders and each other, as we took turns reading from our own work. A highlight was Mary’s poem “Orange,” which magically wove together Halloween and the flight of monarch butterflies.

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Writers came from as far away as Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and even New Hampshire!

Alas, it seemed that Sunday came all too soon and we had to say goodbye to many new friends, but we eagerly traded hugs and email addresses so I hope we’ll stay in touch.

On the way home, we stopped by the mountaintop home of Mary’s friends Lynn and Ben, where we savored a last glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here we were treated to Mexican Tabouli Salad, which I’m happy to say is my latest obsession!

Want more poetry? Don’t forget to join us for the October 23 Open Mic reading at CCCC! Here students and members of the public alike will have the opportunity to read from their work for up to 6 minutes.

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