Susan Ahlbrand challenged us with a fun new form today! A Tritina – a trio of tercets with a final line that stands alone, where the ending words in each line are ordered 1,2,3 in the first tercet; 3,1,2 in the second, 2,3,1 in the third, and the final line containing the 1,2,3 order anywhere in the stand-alone line. I began my Tritina with two borrowed lines and one twisted line from “Mink” by Mary Oliver: 


the pink sun fading away to the edge
for me, it was the gift of the winter
which was still in its frozen coat of snow

a plaid-flanneled husband, scarfed in the snow
a wife watching warmly from window’s edge
of the woods’ balsamy-scented winter 

a crackling-hardwood-fire cabin winter
where rugged muscles chop wood in the snow
to keep the fires burning-(love on the edge!)

passion’s edge in winter melts hearts of snow!

-kim johnson



Anna J. Roseboro issued a challenge to write a five-finger exercise verse today by taking a word for a walk. To write this, I chose a concept noun and created five six-word lines, with the chosen abstract word appearing as the title, then in each line as word 2,3,4,5,6 in that order. In keeping with my month of Mary Oliver, I borrowed the first line from her poem “Six Recognitions of the Lord.”


Lord, mercy is in your hands. 

Lavish your mercy liberally upon us.

Let streams of mercy quell long-suffering 

labors as we your mercy beseech. 

Lord, we languish without your mercy!

– kim Johnson with a nudge from Mary

How Well Do You Know Me?


A Very Mary Variation of Allusion

How Well Do You Know Me?

if you are 

reading this blog

you should know 

that of all 

the poetic lines 

I love in this world

-and there are plenty-

very near the top 

of my list 

is the one 

that asks what it is 

that I plan to do

with my one wild and precious life

Borrowed lines taken from

these poems of Mary Oliver:

“If You are Holding This Book”

“The Summer Day”



A Very Mary  Variation

I gathered lines from the poems of Mary Oliver and rearranged them

into this Bodies in Motion verse:


eager for action 

running here,running there 

when in motion 

hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins 

leaps and dives up and down 

time is draining from the clock

running forward 

without a backward glance


   *    *    *    *

all the way home 

limping, lumbering 

perfectly finished

Taken from these poems, in this order: 

“Percy Wakes Me”

“The Storm (Bear)”

“For I Will Consider My Dog Percy”

“The Storm (Bear)”

“The Dog Has Run Off Again (Benjamin)”

“The Gift”

“Percy Speaks While I Am

Doing Taxes”

“The Summer Beach”

“The First Time Percy Came Back”



“In Pobiddy, Georgia”



A Very Mary Variation


it was a voyage just beginning 

they traveled like a matched team 

landscapes and moments flowing together 

a quick-falling, white-veined stream 

straw hillsides, citron and butter-colored 

a hint of paradise 

like nothing you’ve ever imagined 

a miracle is taking place

Lines found in and borrowed from the poems of Mary Oliver, in this sequence:

“Goldenrod, Late Fall”

“The Snakes”

“Clapp’s Pond”

“The Dipper”


“Am I Not Among the Early Risers”


“This Morning”




first of all, I do not want to be doing this 

I’ll just tell you this 
you are something else 
you’re like a little wild thing that was never sent to school
you, so tangled in your mind, are wrong
you can’t fix everything in the world 
this is called thinking- it’s something people do 
think about it 
or have you gone too crazy for power, for things? 
meals were sent up 
we were told to build a fence, which we did 
the voices around you kept shouting 
to be understood 
but your soul won’t listen 
as you left their voices behind 
and should anyone be surprised 
over and over announcing your place in the family 
shame showing itself to the village 
you have to go home now and live with 
the questions that weigh so in your mind 
there’s a sickness worse than the risk of death and that’s 
            forgetting what we should never forget 
which will never be forgotten

The Lust of the Season


A Very Mary Variation 

Today I’m celebrating that feeling of fall with a mashed potato poem taken from the lines of some of Mary Oliver’s other poems

The Lust of the Season

in the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness 

the crows puff their feathers and cry 

the blue of the sky falls over me 

and the moon rises so beautiful it makes me shudder

the trees stir in their leaves 

the goldenrod are all wearing their golden shirts, 

the shawl of wind coming

the reckless blossoms of weeds 

the cranberry bogs 

the rich fragrance of cinnamon and fulfillment 

the morning air, the possibilities 

the lust of the season 

have you ever been so happy in your life?

These lines were borrowed, in sequence, from the following poems:

“Some Questions You Might Ask”

“Entering the Kingdom”

 “A Meeting”

“The Sweetness of Dogs”

“When I Am Among the Trees”

“Goldenrod, Late Fall”

“On thy Wondrous Works I Will Meditate”

“The Kitten”

“The Truro Bear”

“In Blackwater Woods”

“Three Poems

For James Wright”



The Witchery


A Very Mary Variation

Happy October! As we draw near to the night of all things spooky, today’s poem is inspired by the witches of Macbeth by Shakespeare and is a found poem I call a Mashed Potato poem, using rearranged and borrowed lines from the poems of Mary Oliver

The Witchery 

while the dead wind rises

I kneel before the fire

stirring with a stick of iron

I’ll cook the leaves briefly

and eat of their mealiness

mostly frogs -but  don’t worry-

it doesn’t have to be

the oaks and the pines

I am not even surprised that I can do this

the witchery of living –

a madness of delight; an obsession

my heart dresses in black and dances

Thank you, Mary, for these and all poems(in order of appearance):

“Winter at Herring Cove”



“Honey Locust”

“Honey Locust”


“When I Am Among the Trees”

“North Country”

“Franz Marc’s Blue Horses”

“To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”

“Wild, Wild”

“After Reading Lucretius, I go to the Pond”

Robes of Resfeber


A Very Mary Variation 

 Here’s a QUADRUPLE Golden Shovel using four intertwined lines from Mary Oliver’s poems to form a vertical scaffold. They appear like this prior to my own writing (read each line from top to bottom, small devices turned sideways):

In         Over       She         All

The      The         Was        The

Robes  swamp   singing   way

Of         And         Her       To

The         The        Death    the

night     darkness    song    grave

Reading the six word lines vertically, the four lines come from the poems “Night Herons,” “White Heron Rises over Black Water,” “Red,” and “Honey Locust,” in that order. 

Robes of Resfeber

in mourning over her plans she anticipated with all

the heart of the adventurer she was, she cast the 

robes of resfeber into the swamp and began singing the way

of the solivagant and free-spirit; her path to

the trouvaille of the unplanned journey marked the death of


night cloaked in darkness and buried her song of despair deep in an unmarked grave