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

Archive for the tag “Michele”

Temporary Glitch in the Universe

A huge influx of POETIC MUSELINGS.NET posts are temporarily visiting this site. Due to old-fashioned human error, my attempt to delete over 3100 spammers from my sister blog resulted in the disappearance of all posts from one of our founding member-poets.

After my meltdown yesterday, and trying to even more carefully follow the breadcrumb trail, I’ve imported all the posts from the POETIC MUSELINGS blog into this site. They seem to be readable, formatted fine, but it looks like all the pictures will have to be reloaded into the other blog.

Right now, I’m trying to see if I can selectively export some of the temporary posts from here, and import them into the other blog without destroying the rest of our poetic universe.

First, I will finish copying and backing up my own posts on the POETIC MUSELINGS site. And, once I know that the fourth active member has finished her backup, I’ll proceed with . . . (think of a word that covers “extreme caution”, and ratchet it up exponentially)

To avoid a twenty-year age spurt in five minutes, please take the time NOW to back up all of your precious data:

1.  Where you can absolutely get your hands on it, like your will, and other critical papers

2. Know HOW to “make it go” — how to open the files, how to import/export

3. Save a copy off site, perhaps on a memory stick, in the cloud, as attachments to yourself in various emails.

I’ve started a SCRIVENER binder / project with copies of all the posts that belong here, plus a number of them that I’ve reverted to draft, which were copied here from a previous (now defunct) web site. I need to learn how to save them as a PDF collection.

I’ll email them to myself using one of my other project addresses. If anything happens to my personal domain, I can still access them via a gmail account.

And, in the spirit of “belts and suspenders”, I will print them out using the draft setting. Now have good reason to rush forward with a project that’s nagged at me for several years — gathering up all my poetry, blog posts, newsletters, marvelous email conversations. Some of the material is for the book that gave rise to this site. Some belongs in other WIPs. I won’t search for the hidden treasures in binders, folders, etc., right now.

Focus on the problem before me — calm, serene, confident. Yeah, right! Wish me luck, and I’d be grateful for any ideas on the process.

(417 frantic words here)



What I’m Grateful For

Early November through December is the time of year I used to spent locked in my own padded cell of emotionsMichele1-1. Soured holiday cheer, reminder of what wasn’t right in my life and the world.

. . . Survivor guilt at not dying when I was twenty; if I had, my father would have been sent home from Viet Nam early. A month in the hospital saved me and destroyed the family, when he died under strange circumstances three days before he was to return home. . . . Less than a year later, more guilt at finding the love of my life, my exact opposite, who’s lived with me and my insecurities for more than 45 years. . . .

Steve Jobs noted our inability to connect dots of experience prospectively. We cannot determine until well after events how they link, what their impact is, and how profoundly our lives change as a result.

“But for . . . ” my illness, and my father’s death, I never would have met my husband.

“But for . . . ” NOT getting a job I wanted, I was able to retire much earlier than would have happened if I’d been selected.

“But for . . .” putting myself in the right place at the right time, I’d never have met Carolyn Howard Johnson, which began my poetry-writing in earnest, and the discovery of the Muse OnLine Writers Conference in 2006.

“But for . . . ” that conference, I would not be writing this post today.

I sit here today, grateful for the people in my life, my personal safety and security, my needs met. As much as I complain  about — and fear — the growing list of health issues I’m battling, I’m grateful to live in a time that provides me with care unheard of even a dozen years ago.

I’m grateful for my confidence that ebbs and flows, how I am learning incrementally to trust myself, test myself. I’m grateful for the clutter that drives me nuts at times — what I can share, what it teaches me.

I’m grateful to live here, in this country, despite all our problems and issues. I feel truly blessed to be able to write what I choose, vote as I choose, and speak — or remain silent if that is my choice.

I live the American Dream:

~daughter of a first-generation girl-child born here of stetl dwellers who left the “Old Country” with nothing, before WWI;

~ able to trace my father’s family’s journey on the Trail of Tears in 1839.

~”But for . . .” the holocaust and horror of WWII, these two souls would never have met at a USO dance in Chicago in 1943. Lost and found each other again. Lost each other for good 25 years later, in the next ripping war in 1968.

~ First of my family to attend college, and later graduate.

~ Connected in recent years to extended family I never really knew earlier.

My first post on our Poetic Muselings blog was just over three years ago. It was my introduction to you, our readers and friends. I’m reissuing it here, today, because it struck me as true, still, and what I’m trying to share.

We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. May you find that spark, that “something” to give you peace of mind, courage when you need it, and lots of joy.


Turning Over Rocks

“Why be difficult
when you can always
be impossible?”

My family’s motto,
when I was growing up.

We lived in clouds,
ephemeral universe,
all or nothing mind-set
badgered us into paralyzing inaction,
circular conundrums,
promises meant to stop questions,
not solve problem

“Don’t answer the phone!” admonitions
when I was home alone, sick,
escaping whatever had me
in its grip that day or week

Blame and shame
games and names
hiding in books read
by shadowed night-light
to tame the monsters
lurking under my bed,
in the closet,
beyond the toys
strewn across the floor
beyond the closed door
to my personal space and mind

Child of parents
whose fractured worlds
never resolved enough to give them
strength to shelter their offspring
the way this one needed

But I was loved
and encouraged to dream big,
reach beyond what was,
by my father
live his words
not the life we had

I gained my own,
tiny shard by shard
years later, loved,
protected, cherished,
with someone who believes in me,
loves me
without needing to understand
more than he does

learn to trust,
push past fears, worries
I’ll never be enough, do enough,
justify my own existence

Learn I have to prove
nothing to the world.
I have the right just to be,
eclectic, whimsical,
inconsistent entity
in love
with my life
as I inch
toward myself

Ⓒ Michele M. Graf



EAR-WORMS! Lyrically going mad . . .

November is Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day Challenge Month, among other intense writing options. Mary, Anne, Margaret, and I are diligently writing to the prompts, with a goal of something wonderful to publish at the end.

One of my favorite aspects is to see how differently we grab the prompts — or how they grab us. The poem below was written as a “together again poem”.

This post is adapted from one I recently published on my blog,  Ship of Dreams - Artimals
Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges . . .
A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder


When I first heard of “ear-worms”, I felt vindicated. Others heard them, too — I wasn’t alone. Or nuts.

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





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!


Always Learning

Always Learning

In class today,
Jeff said the essence of Tai Chi
is in the moves we make
at the start

Warm up  spine,
hips, knees, ankles.
Engage finger tips
to explore the air

Bring moves
from core to skin
and back again
and again and again

Fill the space
between vertebrae
shoulder joints, tip of head
and soles of feet

Open, stretch, synchronize
nerves, mind, and heart.

Ah! Form gives meaning,
but embrace and savor foreplay!

Michele M. Graf

Another contribution to the Poetic Muselings Poetry Challenge!

Sew Much To Learn

I recently survived an intensive sewing /clothing construction workshop, which got all synapses bouncing frantically in my head. Here are the first poems in the Sewing Series:

Sew Much To Learn

Part 1

To reach the hidden,
and create the obvious,
I must feel what’s true

Part 2

I must learn to love
vanilla, forgo Cherry Garcia
for a while

feel the fullness of the lone
acoustical note
reverberate into echo of echo

go back to the first
line dance step
that took so long to learn

back to basics
unadorned, Shaker-quality,
where the answer is found

crawl, then toddle through
imbalance, see, hear, smell
what surrounds me

when I understand
the woven thread
I’ll be ready for the wider world

Strip away the complex first,
sew straight lines and curves,
inch (or centimeter) along

To sleeves and swirls

Michele M. Graf


My first contributions to our Poetic Muselings Poetry Challenge. Anne — this counts as two poems, right?

Because It's Tuesday . . .

Office desktop

Because It’s Tuesday . . .*

and almost time to read what I’ve supposed
to have been writing,
poet that I am . . .


Because It’s Tuesday . . .
and no great insight bled from pen to parchment,
demanding ink
— nothing new to share —


 Because It’s Tuesday . . .
and my doctor just said I must learn
to be selfish and fill the well
— or I’ll be the late Care-Giver of everyone else —


 Because It’s Tuesday . . .
and the emptiness isn’t paying
the dividends it did for so many years
— that account is now bankrupt —


Because It’s Tuesday . . .
and I must nourish my body as well
as my soul’s soul, I went radical
—  cleaned house and started a shopping list —

 … instead of writing the poem I need to share —

Because It’s Tuesday . . .

* Yes, I know it is (late) Wednesday on the West Coast, not Tuesday, but . . . that’s how it really happened . . . before . . . and I just got back from a cross-country trip . . . and . . . and . . . and . . .

Boldly Going Where I've Never . . .

Boldly Going Where I’ve Never . . .

For the first time in my life,
I’m in control of colors that surround me.
Always the good girl in the past,
I chose what seemed right
rather than what made me smile.

For the first time in my life,
I’m responsible — me, responsible —
if it works, is dreadful,
or simply tolerable . . .
such a heavy weight to bear.

For the first time in my life,
I’m listening to that passionate
inner me, the one who wants
brilliance shining, nudging
me to try more scary things.

Rose Parade1

For the first time in my life,
my office will have a Rose Parade
red wall, cheered on by dove gray.
I’ll make my own bulletin board as
a canvas to hold treasures.

Teal, Magenta, Gray

For the first time in my life,
the loft next to my office
will share the dove gray
with Albuquerque Teal
to remind me of joy.


For the first time in my life,
Victorian shades of magenta, tinged
with orchid, will define my bedroom.
Rich, sensuous, ripe, emotional,
dramatic dancing colors.


For the first time in my life,
the rest of my house
will pull in some glorious greens —
true connection to the beautiful
backdrop we see from all sides.

For the first time in my life,
I am boldly going where I’ve never
gone before. Courageous,
steadfast, scared of my swatches,
I’m a fledgling on a colorful limb.




Crystal and Whimsy

Ship of Dreams - Artimals

Ship of Dreams – Artimals


is Haiku —
texture writ
through sounds

China Cabinet - Centercrystal
worn as layers

in shoulds
and spring snow

rules apply

when springLisa's Tea Pot
what is left
to thrive


Blue Birdfat squirrels
hog birdfeeder,
never share

ivy thinned
by the deer
it kept alive

defiant bluesScarf and silk
elbow clouds
for the sun


Peace - Kitchen

Six Trillion + 642 Ways to Write a Poem

Blog Post - The Storymatic

Yup. Take “The Storymatic”, with six trillion story/poem ideas tidily arranged in a tasteful box smaller than a grocery-store size block of cheddar. Add a book, “642 Things to Write About”. Send them to your favorite aunt whose Muse has been MIA for the past year or so. Stand back and wait for the fallout. Giggle when you get the call and hear that auntie’s Muse came out of hiding long enough to hyperventilate. Wait for the first poem to pop out. Smile, knowing you jump-started the process at just the right time. This is what my darling niece did for me.

The Storymatic is similar to refrigerator magnet words. In this case, you draw two gold color cards that you combine to create a main character. (Like “daydreamer” and “taxidermist” — two cards I chose at random.) THEN draw two copper color cards to lead you into your story. (Mine were “”handcuffs” and “yet another get-rich-quick scheme”.) Now, you can start writing, using these four cards as prompts.

Blog Post - 642 Things to Write AboutSince I live by the motto, “Why be difficult when you can always be impossible?”, I’m mixing the Storymatic prompts with one of the 642 things to write about. I page-flipped to “She’s lying! This is what she really wants most in the world.”

So, Darling L — here’s what your aunt came up with for her first poem. And, wonder of wonders, a second, deeper one:

The Real Truth?

Part 1: She Lied

When I was a little girl
I was the constant daydreamer
rarely slept, even as a child

always somewhere else
in my head
in my heart

handcuffs of time and place
kept me from drifting
too far from  — what?

For years, my Dad
tried to feed his family
on hopes and smiles

Never at home in his home,
yet another get-rich-quick scheme
slipped away, and away again

My life turned inside out,
a taxidermist nightmare
of guts where freckles should be

when he died
away from home
rotting in the jungle

I said I wanted everything
to be as it was
before. I lied.

What I really wanted
most in the world
was a different life
from start to end.

Part 2:  The Real Truth

She’s lying. Does it all the time.
Daydreamer lost in all the possibilities
Soft, porny handcuffs she can escape
but leaves in place
because it’s easier this way

Maybe one of her wild ideas
will fly today, another
get-rich-quick scheme
that really does work

Reverse taxidermist process
— bringing back to life
all who were close to her —
just for a day or two

To say a proper goodbye
To say what she was too scared
To utter when the time was right
Then, to release them, one by one

This is what she really wants
more than anything else in the world.
To let go with love and compassion.
Closure. Rich beyond money, at peace.


The “642...” book not only has interesting ideas, but was written in one 24 hour period by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. As the compiler, Bo Bronson, wrote on the first page, the idea sprang from a discussion among a few folks; an email asking for ideas went out, and great writing prompts came pouring in from thirty-five writers. A day later, the finished manuscript was delivered to the editor.

I loved these words in that intro: “…I tell the story because it’s a lesson in hidden potential. You never know what might happen. … And it doesn’t even have to be your own idea. You just have to get creative and plunge in.” That, my friends, is like showing up — and sharing. You never know what can happen. Our book, LIFELINES, is one such creation.

The Poetic Muselings have traveled far together during these past several years. Besides our book, we’ve all worked on individual projects — written and other media, as well as dealing with a variety of health issues. We are looking at our collective work efforts on this blog, and considering changes in 2014. Not sure what direction we’ll take.

We thank you, our readers, mentors, friends, colleagues, guest posters, and critics, for being part of our world. May the New Year bring us all joy, contentment, success in our adventures, and connection with those who are important to us.


PS: I challenge you to write a prompt poem to share in the comment below.


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