Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.




Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Humorous poetry may be the hardest kind to write, and there's no better humorist in verse right now than Calvin Trillin. Not only is the following poem one of his best, it's also one of the best poems I've read in a while. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have--and still do.

The Best and the Brightest
Deadline Poet
By Calvin Trillin
This article appeared in the April 6, 2009 edition of The Nation.

We cannot attract and retain the best and the
brightest talent to lead and staff the AIG businesses...
if employees believe their compensation is subject to
continued and arbitrary adjustment.

--AIG chair Edward M. Liddy,
defending the payment of $165 million in bonuses
to employees of a firm that has required
$170 billion in government bailout funds

Yes, billions they lost in one quarter.
This bothers them not in the slightest.
They still want a bonus for failure,
For they are the best and the brightest.

You'd think, with the damage they'd done, they'd
Apologize, at their politest.
But they want a bonus for failure,
For they are the best and the brightest.

No bonus? Well, then they might leave, though
The job market's shrunk to its tightest,
And Burger King now is competing
To hire the best and the brightest.

About Calvin Trillin
Calvin Trillin is The Nation's "deadline poet." He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1963 and has written the syndicated weekly column "Uncivil Liberties" since 1986. He has authored many, many books, including Tepper's Not Going Out and Deadline Poet: My Life as a Doggerelist.

Article in Raleigh News & Observer

Today's Raleigh paper has published an article on the Student Laureate Awards. The link is www.newsobserver.com/105/story/1464403.html

Teachers, now is the time to begin thinking about student work to submit.

Tomorrow is the start of National Poetry Week. Get ready to dance! The flamenco, of course!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Last Things: A Culinary Challenge, part 2

I love recipes and have boxes of clippings and dozens of cookbooks sitting around the house. Lately, though, I’ve been making things up as I go along, depending on what I have on hand. Sort of like writing a poem. So, why not continue my “Last Things” Culinary Challenge as a poem, since I began it as one? I received a luscious comment/response from Vicki Lane and a poem from doris davenport. I promised to tell what I made from the left-over--or left-behind--ingredients, so here goes, in poetic format. The Making-Do- Kitchen Poetess speaks.

Kitchen Creations

On the first day, she plugged in
her ornery microwave and nuked for 10 minutes the last
of her butternut, along with two mundane potatoes.

She boiled the last apples she’d found in the freezer,
and scooping out butternut flesh, dumped it into the Cuisinart.
Added some half and half (fat-free, of course) and the time-
chastened peaches she’d left out too long in the fridge.

O, if only the stuff of a poem were as easy to process
as pushing a button! The whir of it! The achieve of the thing!
(with apologies to Gerard Manley Hopkins)

She poured all that glorious puree into a bowl
that her grandmother once used. She ladled out
two cups into which she poured just enough
chicken broth, a teaspoon of curry, and Eros paprika.

She stirred and she tasted. No, not hot enough for her husband.
More Eros! More curry! She brought the soup almost to boiling.
She filled two white bowls, dolloped sour cream atop,
and, with smug satisfaction, admired the cilantro
that grew in her Aerogrow. Snipped off a few leaves.

And voila! the soup was now ready to be served....but
wait, she’d forgotten the apples. Oh well, there was always,
as Miss Scarlett told us, TOMORROW.

So she uncorked the Malbec
and called to the man on the sofa, intent on a basketball game,
"Lunch is ready." Some wedges of pita bread drizzled
with olive oil. Slices of juicy papaya with mint leaves
strewn over. She sighed and stepped back.

On the first day, she saw what she’d made and declared it gemutlich.
Then she promised herself a long afternoon nap, after which

she would likely suggest that for supper they order Chinese
from the Red Dragon, or pizza from Papa’s. Pretty please?

(a box of recipe clippings waiting for years to be organized)

Tomorrow, DAY 2 of the Creation.

Friendship blog

One of my favorite bloggers, Sam Hoffer, whose "My Carolina Kitchen" on blogspot, is one of the most mouth-watering blogs you'll ever see, has recently awarded my blog a Friendship Award. I am one of 8 blogger-friends she chose for this! This is the text that came with Sam's award.

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated." It also says: "Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

My 8 blogs:


I hope these sites get a lot of visitors over the next few days.


What does poetry do for us? What sort of perspective does it bring to our everyday lives? I invite your answers to these open-ended questions. The image above captures visually what a poem does for me. While washing dishes Monday morning, I looked up and saw a wine glass holding the trees I'd gazed at over the soapsuds for years without really seeing. "Over everything I place a glass bell," Margaret Atwood concludes a poem about watching her sister skate. I like to think of a poem filling an open glass with the world. It contains the lyric moment, that instant when we experience something as ordinary and familiar as the trees in one's yard in a new way. An instant of perception captured in language. Brimful. Shimmering. Inviting us into its vessel of words.

Each day I will be posting a poem on my Laureate's Lasso blog. I hope you will join me there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Rain has settled in for the next couple of days. Our garden loves it, but right now I want to light every candle, every votive and lantern I have in the house. "More light!" as Goethe reputedly said on his deathbed. I'll gather up my matchbox and wander around to every candle I have, striking a flame, watching it grow from the wick. Outside the gray clouds hover; inside the small flames dance.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Morning Light

These late March mornings wake me up with a blinding slice of light through our living room window.

In the kitchen, that light blazes through an old amber bottle my husband found on a hiking trail in the Smokies.

Time to walk outside and head straight for the sun...

taking a left to greet my "white ladies," the trees I can see down by the river whenever I look out my living room window. They look especially fresh this morning, as if they'd just stepped out of the bathtub and dusted themselves with bath powder, maybe a scent called "White Shoulders."

The morning fog beins to lift its curtain on another day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Ok, so this is what started me thinking about recipe poems and how to play around with them. I wrote "Last Things" after hearing from Richard Krawiec about this new anthology. I invite you all to submit a poem about cooking or with food somewhere in it. Even if you are prose writers, give this a try. Rich says he got a poem from Croatia today!

Now, what can poet make of this? A Butternut Poem, of course.

Here are the guidelines:

The Sound Of Poets Cooking - an anthology cookbook


These are difficult times for everyone, and in an effort to produce a fun anthology/cookbook that will also address the needs of writers and the communities they live in, we are seeking poems that make reference to an item that might be used for food. The poems do not need to be about eating or cooking, they only have to mention something that can be eaten. There is no cost to submit one poem. If you wish to submit more than one, the fee is $1 per page.

The anthology will feature both well-known and lesser-known writers. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to provide writers grants to teach free writing workshops in their communities. There will be a simple, one-page application form at the back of the anthology to apply for this program. These grants will be available to all writers, not just the ones whose work appears in this anthology.

Although we are primarily looking for poems, if you have a favorite recipe, simple to moderate in preparation and cost, feel free to send that along as well.


Submissions Accepted Through June 1, 2009. Decisions made by July 1, 2009.


Submit poems to foodpoems@gmail.com. Put "Poetry Submission" and your last name in the subject line of your email. . Please paste your poem(s) in the body of the email. Include a one-paragraph biography at the bottom of the email. If you are sending a recipe, add the word 'Recipe" to the subject line. If you are submitting more than one poem, we will reply with directions on how to submit payment for the additional poems.

Previously published poems are welcome. Note when and where they were published.

Simultaneous submissions are fine.


Richard Krawiec has published 2 novels, a story collection, a collection of poetry, and 4 plays. He has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He won the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009 for the online writing courses he teaches for UNC Chapel Hill. He has edited two previous anthologies that featured the work of well-known writers like Betty Adcock, James Applewhite, Kay Byer, Fred Chappel, Michael Chitwood, Reynolds Price, Lee Smith, Shelby Stephenson, Elisabeth Spencer and other writers, both celebrated and unknown. For more information on him visit his website.



Our first "real" date was a hike.

And that poem ended up in my first book, in 1986, after years of submissions to one contest after another.

(Texas Tech University Press, AWP Award Series, chosen by John Frederick Nims)

Marriage is a lot like Poetry: You have to be willing to stay with it for the long haul. Or, the long hike!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Last Things: A Culinary Challenge

(The Last Piece of Cherry Pie)

Help me finish this recipe! You can comment in poetry. Or prose. I'll finish the poem with what you tell me.

The Last

butternut squash and the last jar
of peaches, left behind
on my counter, awaiting the rapture
of culinary art, what to do with them?

Peaches already gone
brown round the edges?
A soup pot of chicken broth,
bag of old onions,

green peppers, and stacked
on a shelf my collection of spices,
coriander and turmeric,
that catchall called “curry,”

paprika that hardly deserves
the name. Not hot as hellfire
Hungarian that waits in the fridge,

Eros brand, brought back
from Budapest....What’s this? A dib
and a dab of god knows
how ancient Thai curry sauce.
At the back of the freezer

compartment, a bag of last
summer’s last apples.
From all of this, somebody
tell me what I can concoct.


Friday, March 20, 2009


(Green as seen through a scrim of still-leafless Sweet Shrub)

In response to my appeal for poems that sound like "green," (on my Laureate's Lasso blogI received only one! Where are you, spring-crazed poets? You are supposed to be out smelling the first green, inhaling the sunshine, listening to the tree frogs and letting your imagination fill up to the brim! Send me some poems!

Thank you, Diane. This is a lovely poem, and as I told you in my comments, I particularly like "The days stretch, the nights shrink." I wish I knew more about you. Your students are fortunate to have you as their teacher.

Diane, Teacher said...

As I stood on my porch at sunset today, I could hear the "sound of green".

Tree frogs sing
Crickets cheep
Pink fingers of sunshine stream along the horizon
The days stretch, the nights shrink
Nature’s music reveals
Spring is here!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I'm still pondering this Fab blog lady, whose name must be Fifi. Or Mimi. Or Paris! And Vicki, my deah nominator, look at that dog. Do we have dogs like that? I know you don't. One look at Ace of Dogs above and you know my tastes and Fifi's do not coincide when it comes to dogs.

Ah hats, now that's a subject that haunted and oppressed me when I was a girl and had to wear them to church. They were never Fab hats like the one Fifi the Fabulous Blog gal is wearing. They were little prissy things, with net or feathers. Sometimes hard lacqured cherries tucked around, as if they belonged on a faux banana split. I like Fifi. She's everything I am not. Shoes, hat, dog. I'm happy to see her flouncing about on my sidebar. Thank you again, Vicki!

Here are a couple of stanzas from a poem I'm working on. I send them especially to you. And to Fifi the Fabulous chick on my sidebar.

Sitting in church every Sunday, I hated the hats
I had to wear. They were small things, with net
attached. Or hard plastic fruit. They did not fit
and sometimes they fell into the aisle or the pew
if I my mother had not pierced their velveteen
skin with a hat pin she threaded through stiff
hair-sprayed hair. There was no way to scratch

my small soul through those hats. No way
I could sit through the sermons if not daydreaming
out of them, using the blank wall beside the piano
as movie-screen, imagining me, hatless, free
of my hairspray and beehive, my hair grown
miraculously long, trailing hairpins across
my small town, heading north to the Interstate.

...to be continued.

In the meantime I can dream, can't I, of hats like the one below. Floating just out of reach. Taunting me. Seducing me. Making me wish for another life in which I walk out wearing such a hat, flinging the door wide and shaking my bracelets in the face of destiny!

(From hatsinthebelfry.com)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I felt gray all day yesterday, and when I walked out in late afternoon, the world around me looked as gray as a Thomas Hardy poem, "Neutral Tones," specifically. The phrase "as though chidden of God," kept running through my head.

Thomas Hardy (1840–1928). Wessex Poems and Other Verses. 1898.

8. Neutral Tones

WE stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,
—They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles solved years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro—
On which lost the more by our love.

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing….

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.


Today is Saint Patrick's Day, though, and everything is supposed to be green. So I made my gray scenes green, through the magic of digital technology. (You might need to put on your shades for these!)

Tomorrow I'll go looking for natural green and begin to feel "like a natural woman," again.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I just received recognition from Vicki Lane at http://vickilanemysteries.blogspot.com/ in the form of a "Fabulous Blog Award" for Here, Where I Am.

I really appreciate this award from my friend Vicki and am paying it forward. Here are five picks -- some of the most frequent posters of the blogs I follow:

1. Living Above the Frost Line
2. Ruminations from the Distant Hills
3. Discriminating Reader
4. My Carolina Kitchen
5. Flint River Gallery Journal

The rules (not mine, they came with the award): You must pass it on to 5 other Fabulous Bloggers in a post. You may find their email addresses on their Profile page or, if not available, post as a "Comment" to their latest post.

You must include the person that gave you the award, and link it back to them. You must list 5 of your Fabulous addictions in the post.
You must copy and paste these rules in the post.
Right click the award icon & save to your computer then post with your own awards.To my way of thinking, this is not only a nice tribute, it widens the reading audience.

5 of my Fabulous Addictions: poetry, reading, landscape/environment, recipes, and visual art.


Imagine walking into a bookstore like this one. It's a gray February day, with storms threatening, and you've just driven in the rain from Cullowhee over Winding Stair Gap and down into the town of Hayesville. You find the town square and park in front of a place called Crumpets, also known as Phillips & Lloyd bookstore. You're early. You sit in the car waiting for the doors to open, and when they do, you enter the store where you see one of the most welcoming interiors you've beheld in quite awhile.

But wait! It gets better. There's your old friend Nancy Simpson waiting to give you a hug. You are, after all, the special guest today, the poet who drove into the clouds and down again to get here for a morning of poetry.

Here are Brenda Kay Ledford and Carole Thompson waiting to say hello.

There's fresh coffee waiting, and oh my, all sorts of goodies being spread on a table in the room where ruffled curtains and quilts adorn the windows and walls. Soon other friends from Netwest arrive--Glenda Beall, Brenda Kay Ledford, and a little later, Janice Townley Moore, to name only a few. It's COFFEE WITH THE POETS morning. Wake up, wake up, the poets all around me seem to be saying, and after my reading and question/answer session, I listen to them read their own work in the open mic portion of this monthly event sponsored by Netwest.

(Michelle Keller, who coordinates Netwest's COFFEE WITH THE POETS, introduces me before my reading.)

Janice Moore sits to the side listening.

One by one the poets read their poems. "I want these," I declare, grabbing pages out of each poet's hand, and I carry them back home with me over the mountain. When I get home I realize I can't possibly type all of these for my blog! So, out comes my trusty digital camera, and I photograph each poem. Aha, the real thing, preserved by modern technology. Even the wrinkles in the paper.

Brenda Kay Ledford in her red-hot leather suit leads off the list.

Richard Argo flashes a big smile after reading his poem about being in a tent during rain. (I remember tent days--and nights---but mine weren't so romantic.)

Idell Shook introduces me to her book, Rivers of My Heart.

And Clarence Newton! What else to say about his "Adventure"?

One of the highlights of my day is meeting Lynn Rutherford, whose comments on this blog have delighted me over the past months. A Georgia girl herself, she knows about muddy rivers, squishy mud, sandspurs, and mosquitoes!

Nancy Simpson reads an old poem made new again through revision and recently accepted by The Pisgah Review.

Carole Thompson's poem set in St. Simon's Island, shows her gift for vivid imagery. It made me want to head south to the Golden Isles, where my favorite beaches wait.

Glenda Barrett, who lives just over the state line, promised to email me some of her poems. Here is one of them. Glenda is a widely published poet, with a recent chapbook to her credit. (more about that in a later post)


The massage therapist

moves her slick palms

up and down my leg muscles

and notices a scar on my ankle.

Did you know every cell

in our body has a memory?

Experts say that simply touching

a scar can bring back the memory

of the trauma.

I listen as she speaks,

but I’m secretly glad

no one can touch my heart.

------------Glenda Barrett

Published in The Cherry Blossom Review in summer of 2008

If you are looking for crafty wit, look no further than Dorothea Spiegel's "X ON."

And Linda Smith's voice was well-suited to the "mystery" she unfolded in her poem "Mystery Memory."

Karen Holmes read a memorable poem about the circles life makes.

And after the open mic, we made our way to the delicacies arranged on the table. Poetry makes you hungry, after all. And COFFEE WITH THE POETS will make you hungry for more such mornings when friends and lovers of poetry gather to celebrate and enjoy the magic of each and every poem.