Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

Facing Mortality

NOTE: This post previously appeared on my blog,


It happened many years ago. We had just learned  I was pregnant with our second son when I got a call from my mother, with the words no daughter wants to hear: It’s cancer. My mother had cancer of the colon.  She

had had a sigmoidoscopy instead of a colonoscopy. The lesion was fairly high up in the colon, and the procedure had missed it. Hthen-doctor, not the brilliant diagnostician his dead partner, my mother’s former doctor, had been, had been slow to put together the symptoms. By the time he did, the cancer had spread to the liver. It was October, and by June she was dead.

At about the same time, I was offered some freelance work that would have brought in a significant amount of money, money we could have used. But I had a full-time job, a small son, a pregnancy, and a sick mother. I turned the work down, instead passing on the name of a friend — he later joked that I’d payed for the addition on his house. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Instead of spending my weekends working, I spent them traveling back and forth from Boston to New York.

Here is a poem inspired by this experience:


Mother’s Day, Margaret Fieland

He died
the white-haired doctor
with smiling eyes,

leaving you
to the quick-voiced young one,
who called your cramps indigestion.

Your hair became
sparse as grass during a dry August,

your walk
creaky as the old pasture gate,

your frame as thin
and brittle as the bare branches
of the old oak.

until finally
you lay in bed, smelling
of old guts, too weak
to lift your head.

We named
the baby
after you

You cam find it and other poems in the collection Lifelines.




Harlee and "Ernie"

(Ok, I made this up, but it’s true –)

Novel (Writing)
     (and other things)

As Mary explained in her post on November 3, we are engaged in marvelously rebellious behavior, and writing, writing, writing. My Inner Rebel is counting  words in projects 1, 2, and 3 (below), to reach my 50,000 for the month, if needed for number 4.

We’ve each set goals for ourselves. Mine:

1.  PAD Challenge

Robert Brewers’ Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day  (PAD) Challenge, a new poem written each day, from the prompts provided. I posted one already on #2, below, and will share some during November, here.

2.  100 Word Posts, my first site, has been neglected too long. I decided to revive it with a series of short posts, leading, I hope to completing Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges, my years-in-progress book about our decade on the road. Poems, pictures, prose, and lots of memories.

So far, I’ve gone over the minimum on each Post, and am letting the subject matter free-flow. More about this later in the month.

3.  Haiku . . .

Last month, I co-taught a Poetry Workshop at the Eugene Public Library; this was our third year, and a highlight for me. I put together a new unit I called “Haiku Heresy” about variations on the genre — from micro-poetry (Tweetku – yes, haiku via Twitter) through 100+ verses written and shared in real-time. (No, we didn’t actually create these in class, but several University students immediately did their own Tweetku.)

However, I can’t get haiku off my brain, so I went back through my bookmarks on line and dug up Forward Motion’s April Haiku Challenge, and have started adding haiku to my daily exercises. You may need to sign up and log in to reach this, but it’ll be worth it!

4.  NaNoWriMo

The least rebellious action is a new novel,  Resorting to Dreams, officially begun Nov. 1.  Should be fun, since hubby is deeply involved in developing the storyline . . .

I may play with other in-process works if this one gets crazy. Lots of ways to be rebellious on this.

5.  Dream Catchers

In odd moments, finding poems scattered around my office — in poetry journals, Morning Pages notes, backs of envelopes, tiny notebooks carried around over the years, hidden in the deep recesses of my computers, etc. Plus those my Sister Poetic Muselings (like Peggy) have found in our other shared spaces over the years.

Using Scrivener, I want to simply get a copy of each into the program so I can actually account for at least part of my creative crunches.

6.  Stitching my Soul Together

In July, I took an advanced pattern design sewing course, with little advanced skills going in to it. Hardly any, actually. I connected with a wonderful lady to help me prepare for the class, and have worked with her several times a month since then. We’ve  altered a lot of my clothes so the waistbands fit, sleeves don’t hang over my knuckles, hems are where they belong. We have more to do, working together.

I say I’m like the prep chef, washing and peeling potatoes so the Head Chef can create masterpieces. I’m getting very good at potatoes! Much more confident, taking baby steps with the serger and overlock machines; measuring; cutting; pinning. Learning, learning, learning.

We have at least two sessions planned this month. I look forward to that part of my creativity, and know it’s helped wake up my writing.

7.  Big Scary Thing*

Even more rebellious will be to do a weekly Big Scary Thing* — take care of dangling “stuff” that’s held huge portions of my brain, mind, and creativity hostage, while tying up my energy in NOT doing.

Some of these may take up to three or four hours at most to complete, but have been squatting in, and squandering, my life for several years. If I get all four done — one per week — I’ll be soooooooooo relieved.

*idea taken from NaNoWriMo site several years ago, about what we planned to do after NaNo . . . I think they’ve still got a forum for this.

What are your dreams, crazy notions, ready-to-fly hopes for November and the rest of 2014?  Share, please!

Oh, and wish me luck!


100 Words 11-5-14 — Inner Editor (IE) On Sabbatical

My poems this month are sharper in subject, words, and unleashed emotions expressed before, but which obviously need more air.

They start as responses to prompts, then become their own creatures. Today’s prompt was “Keep This (Blank)”.

My poem began with expired food in the fridge, and morphed to deep sadness about rotten politics. It veered into nostalgia of times that never are how we remember them. Asked unanswerable questions.

If my IE was on duty, she’d have stopped this before the end, sliced it into at least three partial poems, and tucked them in a drawer.

Thanks for not being here today, IE!

(Wow — 104 words in this post — getting better!)

100 Words: Creative Avoidance

So far, November’s been highly productive for me . . . as a result of not doing my primary task:

~ four new haiku
~ four PAD CHALLENGE poems
~ four 100 Words Posts (including this one)
~ one Poetic Muselings blog post drafted, for publication tomorrow
~ two medical appointments, with game plans for the month (including knee rehab)
~ daily poetry writing goals delineated
. . . and nothing of consequence written on my NaNoWriMo novel yet!

My writing plan for NaNo is every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday long-hauls, with shorter sessions on Fridays and possibly one other day of the week, depending on outside appointments. Last weekend, I worked out the plan, tidied up notes we’d made to start the story.

Today I wrote two poems and the core of this post while waiting at the dentist’s office. On the way home, hubby and I talked about how to tackle the NaNo creature we’re coaxing along.

Brilliant minds worked together to lay out:

~ specific actions (where our MC’s will be going on their year-long adventure)
~ general word counts for each of them
~ how to reorganize my writing schedule on the calendar so
~ I’ll be in the right place (my settings) at the right time
~ with the right characters.

I’m ready to tackle NaNo now. See where the story takes me. Experience the joy of impossible deadlines, and shut down my Inner Editor for the month.


(Perhaps I’ll learn to write 100 Word Posts someday. Including parentheses, I’m at 250 words now!)


Plan B — Stop Bugging Me!

November is underway, two haiku done, three PAD CHALLENGE poems written and shared. Two posts up, and this one in process.

One Big Scary Thing handled. Detailed daily/weekly calendars planned out for poetry projects, days specified for NaNo, with their word counts identified.

Tomorrow, I’ll add healthy stuff, like exercise, to the calendars, after a morning med appointment.

The plates are spinning on their sticks . . . just barely, but under control. Plan B is lurking, chuckling, wondering how long until it’ll be summoned to save the stage.

Keep waiting, Plan B. This year you may remain the understudy. Before bed each night, my 100 Word Posts will join their kin. That’s the key — those 100 Words (or more) shout that I did it today.

(130 words today!)

Greetings from the Trenches

magnetic-poetry-magnetsIt’s been a busy year for us Muselings, as we’ve mostly been entrenched in our own projects and life events. This month we come together again with one goal. To write new poems. Once again, Poetic Asides is prompting for November Poem a Day.

Differing from the April challenge, November has the goal of putting together poems for a chapbook. A poetry version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Michele, Margaret, Anne, and myself will be writing our poems based on the same prompts. Our hopes is to take these differening views, these “Four Sides of the Moon”, to create a new poetry anthology. 

I always enjoy seeing how different voices approach the same topic. One may take a prompt literally, another use it as a metaphor, or a stepping off point for another theme. To show an example of this, our day one prompt (taken from the Poetic Asides blog) was to write a “Game Over” poem. Michele wrote about football, Anne wrote about the end to a night out, Margaret about her father suffering through a night at the MET, and I wrote about a power outage forcing a game over to an unsaved video game. What does “Game Over” mean to you?

Margaret, Michele, and myself will be blogging this month. Poetry, writing, whatever we feel to share. So stick around. What are you working on this month? We’d love to hear from you.

Mary Butterfly Signature


100 Word Posts: EAR-WORMS

Second new poem of the month for the Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day Challenge.

Subject:   EAR-WORMS.    NaBloPoMo_November

Never heard of ear-worms? I bet you have heard ear-worms many times in your life. Snatches of song lyrics (especially), bits of melody, or conversations playing out over and over and over in your head. They worm their way into your ear and then your brain.

No way to make them disappear. The harder you try, the louder — and more insistent — they get. You cannot win the fight against an ear-worm. You can only distract and/or overcome it by replacing it with something else.

Then, of course, THAT ONE becomes the ear-worm. And so it goes . . .


PAD 2 – 11/2/14 Ear-Worm Imbroglio (a together again poem)


What gibberish pokes
through mind brambles

  • Oh, Sinner Man —
    where you gonna run to?

My personal ear-worms
over and over

  • Snowflakes on roses…
    Whiskers on kittens… 

over and over
over and over

  • I think we’re alone now…
    Beating of our hearts is the only sound…

Until BANG!
Too bad it didn’t work

  • I am the walrus…
    Do do do do, dodo dodo do do do do …

We’re together again
All at once

  • New York hipster,
    Cardiac hero of 2000 years …

Cacophony imbroglio
Madness defined

  • Where were you
    When the world stopped turning…?


Michele M. Graf

(+200 words before signature!)



NaNoWriMo . . . PAD CHALLENGE . . . NaBloPoMo . . . Knee Rehab . . . Rebel

NaBloPoMo_NovemberSo, here it is, another November, filled with hope, wishful and wistful thinking, and far more than I can probably handle for the month. But, this is the ninth year I’ve attempted variations on the theme:

~~ I’ve “won” NaNo four or five times by reaching at least 50,000 words on each novel.  (All are in need of editing, and some have potential for publication.)

~~ I’ve kept this blog available for the new projects, one of which is going back to the “100 WORD POSTS” for the month of November. Each day I plan to note a bit about what I wrote for NaNo, the title of the poem written for the PAD CHALLENGE, or some other accomplishment for the day.

In true REBEL fashion, I will include the word count here as part of my overall word count for the month. Already, with this tiny blurb, I’ve reached one hundred and fifty words!

Tomorrow, info about what a Rebel is, and what kind of rebelling I am.

(total: 165 words before this line.)

1st Poetic Muselings Summer Poetry Challenge/Winner Announced!

Anne Westlund is the winner of the 1st Poetic Muselings Summer Poetry Challenge with 9 new poems written and posted!

She has ordered and received the writing book of her choice from, Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations by Amber Lea Starfire.

Week by week

Thanks for playing along and reading our poems!

"Summer Night"

I wrote this poem in response to this painting by Winslow Homer, part of Challenge #5 on Create, Share, Encourage, a G+ community.

A Summer Night

Summer Night

My bare feet touch the sandy boardwalk.
You are still wearing your shoes.

We dance, you insist on leading,
hand at my waist.

I hold on to your shoulder, the better dancer,
more experienced, at this.

The other women look out to sea,
as the lights bounce off the waves.

We can hear the music from the band,
far out of frame, off the canvas,
unpainted, but not unheard.

This summer night,
will it ever end?

I let you go, finally.

You are not my boyfriend.
I am not your husband.

Dance alone, darling one.
Dance alone now.

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