I’ve been reading Kyle Vaughn’s Lightning Paths and writing through the exercises each day. Today’s exercise is a found poem, which is written by finding words and phrases in other places – from books, magazines, anywhere! and putting them together in a new arrangement. I like to use discarded books and find poems on the page. Here is one from a page of Tom Sawyer, in picture form, rewritten on a purple tulip back in April 2022 when Open Write host Amy Vetter challenged our group at to write found poems.

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Imitation of Form

I’ve been reading Kyle Vaughn’s Lightning Paths and working my way through the writing exercises each day, from cover to cover. Today’s prompt is Imitation of Form, in which writers write their own versions of specific other poems. I’m going back to a prompt by Travis Crowder in the Open Write on in April 2019 to share an imitation of form about one of my three Schnoodles today.

This poem models Christopher Smart’s poem written in the 1700s, “For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry” (later mirrored by Mary Oliver in Dog Songs with her poem “For I Will Consider My Dog Percy”).

For I Will Consider My Dog Boo Radley

For I will consider my dog Boo Radley.
For he was rescued from the grief of neglect and abandonment.
For he was alone and starving and trembling in a crate in the back of a van.
For his rescue name was Einstein because of his wild and matted hair.
For he was chosen by Kim but bonded with Briar.
For he was re-named Boo Radley because he spent time behind a closed door.
For he is of the tribe of Schnoodle.
For his Schnoodlehood is a mixture of French and German.
For he is highly territorial about his pillows and blankets.
For when he is picked up, his ears sag down, but when he is put down, his ears perk up.
For he lives by a predictable routine of quirky habits and idiosyncrasies.
For one of his favorite games is glove wars.
For another of his favorite games is teasing keep-away.
For another of his favorite games is pant-leg-tug-of-war.
For he threatens wildlife ferociously but seeks protection from the ding of a cell phone.
For he merely tolerates his rescued brother Fitz.
For if he meets an admiring stranger he will chastise her harshly for cooing over him.
For he has an angel harping on one shoulder and a devil pitchforking on the other.
For when both of his humans are not home, his world gets tilted and he takes to his kennel.
For he lies on the back of the chair and rests his head on his humans’ shoulders to read their books and emails.
For he licks his lips to request his bedtime drink from a bathroom cup instead of a water dish.
For he punishes himself and assigns his own timeout in the kennel when he regrets his mischief.
For he is the bed police, Mirandizing anyone who moves a muscle.
For he keeps watch over his humans by night and sleeps by day.
For he puts his nose out the car window and breathes the exotic air when we go on safaris.
For he prances about the house like a show pony with his whale-spray tail.
For he catches popcorn.
For he gets tornadic zoomies indoors and rearranges all the furniture.
For he breakfasts upon plain yogurt and graham crackers in bed on weekends, lying like the Sphinx.
For he is now loved and cherished.
For he rules the Johnson Funny Farm.

-Kim Johnson

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I’ve been reading Lightning Paths by Kyle Vaughn and writing my way through the daily writing exercises. Today’s prompt is to write an aphorism about what poetry is or what it means to be a poet.

Poetry Is

poetry: wings of 
butterflies, lilting, flitting
fluttering wordwinds

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Line By Line

I’ve been reading Lightning Paths by Kyle Vaughn and working through the daily writing exercises. Today’s prompt is a Line by Line poem, which follows a specific direction for each line. Here is the process:

Part 1
Line 1 - Describe the sky
Line 2 - write a sky simile
Line 3 - change your mind about the simile
Line 4 - describe something with a sound and smell
Line 5 - describe that same thing by how it feels to touch it
Line 6 - write a line about you and a field and the night
Line 7 - write a line telling how you feel with an image
Line 8 - using the line above as a starting point, compare this feeling/image to something
Line 9 - expand on this simile/metaphor/comparison
Line 10 - write a line using a horse, the moon, and the ocean
Line 11 - describe how it would feel to be in a fight (without using the word fight)
Line 12 - describe paralysis (without using the word move or paralyzed)
Line 13 - write a line using fire, a trumpet, and a wolf
Line 14 - write a line using imagery from a dream
Line 15 - what if that dream became a nightmare? How would the image change?
Line 16 - what woulds would you speak to the nightmare image?
Line 17 - what force would you have move through the nightmare image?
Line 18 - End with the sky, echoing what you did in the first line but modified.

Part 2 
Revise the results until the poem is the way you want it to be. 


through the stargazer window of my Little Guy Max, lit
like a Christmas tree in the Heavens
twinkling, but without strings and colors
cloved oranges hanging on boughs
smooth and scratchy
moving through the darkened countryside fields, 
bursts of icy wind piercing my lungs
a jolt of cold with sharp barbed edges
under a full moon high tide with a Royal Lipizzaner Stallion
resisting the undercurrent of sleep
completely still, mesmerized 
a wolf struts across glowing embers to a jazz trumpet 
technicolor dream animation coming to life
in vivid imagery - chasing Grandmother, with the big teeth
Grandmother, what big feet you have!
Run, run through the night sky, Grandmother! Laser-fast!
illuminate the night sky with meteor speed ~ your stargazing girl keeps watch!

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Prose Poems/Nonfiction

I’ve been reading Lightning Paths by Kyle Vaughn and working through the daily writing exercises. Today’s prompt is to write a Prose Poem, which doesn’t contain line breaks and mixes qualities of poetry and prose. I’ve done both in today’s writing – going from prose poetry to a poem form in a process called Tumble Down poetry. I wrote this in February 2022 as I visited San Antonio, Texas with a new pair of shoes. Andy Schoenborn was the inspiration for this poem through the Open Write at

My shoe prose poem:

I traded my fifteen dollar clearance Merrills I wore through Europe in 2019 for a more stylish pair of On Clouds when I went to San Antonio, Texas in February. They came with a whole new odometer, set at zero steps, ready to count miles like a new car. My running shoes years back were easier to tally the 500 mile lifespan in training runs and races – these, not as easy. They’re my new traveling shoes. They have built-in air flow to let my feet breathe, and I can feel my breath-taken toes taking me to new places and enjoying the sights up through the mesh topscreens. Traveling shoes. There’s nothing like them for seeing the world.

Travelin’ Shoes

travelin’ shoes –

odometer pair, clocking moments

as breath-taken toes

carry me to new places

walking on clouds

to see the world together

just me and my

travelin’ shoes

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Poems to the People

I’ve been reading Kyle Vaughn’s Lightning Paths and completing the writing exercises from cover to cover of this fabulous book that inspires all types of poetry. Today’s form is a Poem to the People, which challenges writers to write a poem to three to five people, with each address constituting one section of the poem, as if in monologue.

Poems to the People Who Read to Me

You read from Tibor Gergely's
Great Big Book of Bedtime Stories
"A Day in the Jungle"
over and over
at bedtime
because it was my favorite

You read The Boxcar Children
after recess
from your rocking chair
inspiring me to read more
to find my own fork
to be resourceful
on my own

Oh, but when you read Charlotte's Web
my world stopped.  
And it hasn't been the same since.
Children hold on to things
    tighter than their parents think they will
White said of that barn swing. 

Wait.  Jamie dies in A Taste of Blackberries?
Children don't die of bee stings.  
But there you were, Doris Buchanan Smith,
reading it in our library at school
right there in the story pit rocking chair.
A tough reality about life and death.

Hey there, Audible narrators,
you are amazing!  
You're always there for the ride!  

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Ars Poetica

I’ve been reading Lightning Paths by Kyle Vaughn and writing through the daily exercises and prompts. Today’s challenge is to write an “Ars Poetica,” based on the poem by the Roman poet Horace around 19 BCE. This is a statement about what you believe poetry is, what a poet is, why you write, or how you or others should write. I’m thinking today of my Open Write group at, and our presentation at the 2022 NCTE Convention in Anaheim, California: “Poetry is Not a Luxury.”

Poetry Is

breathing through my pen
capturing moments in time
....not a luxury

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Elegies and Odes

I’ve been reading Kyle Vaughn’s Lightning Paths and writing through the daily exercises. Today’s prompt inspires writers to write an ode about or an elegy for a person. On November 20, 2020, I wrote an ode to my childhood playground on the Sapelo River. Our family sold the property in McIntosh County, Georgia that had been a part of my life since I was a young child. I’m sharing that poem here today, once again. I’d shared the poem with my brother, one of the realtors, and at the closing, the new owners brought a framed copy of this poem that they planned to put up in the house; they shared an emotional closing on the property and on that chapter of our lives.

Ode to Sapelo River

your marsh and river 

at dawn and dusk

ever-changing palette 

of brilliant hues,

whose back we scratched 

on novice skis,

whose arm we tickled 

casting lines, nets

whose oaks 

huddled family gatherings 


sheltered peaceful togetherness

you picked up 

the dinner check:

deviled crab, 

steamed shrimp, 

fried fish

and lulled us 

in a dock hammock 

as we listened

for playful dinnertime dolphins

your trees and river breezes 

brought cleaner air 

to clear 

the lungs 

the mind

your heart our refuge 

from demands  

and deadlines

well done, friend! 

now you’re ready 


fully embrace 

and care 

for a new family 

who’ll take 

your empty shell 


breathe new life 

into you

you have so much more 

to give 

and you’re long overdue 

for a makeover 


the laughter of family 

flooding your veins

we’ll never forget 

the joy you brought us! 

so long, old friend! 

the memories live on….

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I’m reading Kyle Vaughn’s Lightning Paths and working through the daily prompts. Today’s exercise is writing a Haiku, one of the most popular forms of poetry and one of my favorites for its brevity of form and economy of words. Modern Haiku writers often write outside the traditional 17-syllable form of 5/7/5 across three lines to include 3/5/3 or 4/5/4…….as Vaughn puts it, “very short/short/very short.”


how does one write
in just seventeen syllables
something so profound?

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I’ve been reading Kyle Vaughn’s Lightning Paths and completing the daily writing exercises. Today’s prompt is a ghazal, a poem written in at least five couplets, generally on lamenting or loving something on a theme. There can be abrupt shifts between couplets as well.

Here is a ghazal that I wrote back on July 20, 2020 when Mo Daley hosted our Open Write group at I’m sharing it again, thinking about the passage of time since I wrote this poem.

I’m Going Back!

since March 13th, we’ve stayed home: Covid 19
four months and one week later – today – I’m going back!

today begins a new chapter: 2020
new challenges and opportunities I seek – I’m going back!

we’ll mask up and sanitize all the way to ‘21
cautiously distance and crowdsurvey peek – I’m going back!

will outings be safer in 2022?
surely by then we’ll be past the peak – I’m going back!

my 5-year grant term will close in ‘23
I stand boldly with literacy, cheek to cheek – I’m going back!

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