#VerseLove April 30

Sarah Donovan is our host for Day 30 of VerseLove and our host of this space each month for writers who crave togetherness each month as we come together to celebrate our words and thoughts ~to share the joy of writing. She helps meet a deep need in each of us. I adore the prompt today, and I ran for my journal from 2019 when I saw the topic. I thought back to the first year I participated in VerseLove and looked for that first prompt that changed the trajectory of my life from grief over my mother’s death to connection with others whose pain shone through their heart holes, too, who showed me how to use the sunspots to write and heal. To every writer who shares the journey, thank you for all of the inspiration you bring. This morning, my grandson writes along with me as I revise my first-ever VerseLove poem, Blackberry Winter.

Blackberry Winter, Revisited

It’s a Blackberry Winter I wrote in 2019
beginning a poem about all the good things

later this morning, my first grandson 
               will make elderberry jam toast
                         plus cheese omelettes 
                                   on the Lodge cast iron griddle
   wearing my apron 
         (he doesn’t know about the apron yet)

but first: raindrops on rooftop, fresh coffee,
wi-fi (stronger than coffee, finally), computer charged,
comfy chair, whisper-soft pajamas,

thoughts ready to materialize
three schnoodles tussling on grandson’s 
sleepover mattress as we write together
in the living room

words forming on pages: his pen, my keyboard
to the first #VerseLove prompt of 2019 from Sarah:

….the good things in our lives….

there are those who bring
more warmth than raindrops and coffee,
more comfort than chairs and pajamas,
more joy than words ~ 
   ancestors whose cast iron presence
      and apron strings linger in kitchens
       hugging us tight about the middle

and those we ancestor ~ grandchildren 
who write right next to us
about all the good things in our lives
on this elderberry toast and cheese omelette morning.

– Kim Haynes Johnson, April 2, 2019 and 4/30/2023

#VerseLove April 29

Our host today for Day 29 of #VerseLove at http://www.ethicalela.com is Scott McCloskey of Michigan, who inspires us to rewrite the script of a time we wish we’d given a different answer. You can read his prompt and the poems of others here.

Kernels of Truth

ten months after

she died

four months after

he died

you asked me

what I thought

of y’all

and I told the truth

you’re nice

she’s nice

but y’all don’t fit

you thought

it was that woman thing

that I 

just didn't like her

you had it all wrong

there were those

I thought would be a

great fit for you



lovers of wine

whose blood runneth blue

this one wasn’t for you

you’ve held my 


against me all this time

made me the 

unaccepting one

and now after

seven years

of frustration

figuring out


you finally realize

all those reasons

y’all don’t fit

so next time I’ll

tell the only truth

you want to hear

marry her

then I’ll go 

make popcorn

#VerseLove April 27

Today our host for #VerseLove is Chea of Texas, who inspires us to write poetry with regional dialect ~ to tell something as it really happened, in our home language. You can read her prompt and the poetry of others here. I’m sharing a phone conversation with my dad one early morning not too long ago and wrote it in prose during the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Hopin' Folks Out

my phone rings early 

I have a story I need to tell 
while it’s fresh on my mind
before I forget

I grab my pen

It was back in the old days in rural Georgia 
when I was preaching at Ohoopee
This was down around Highway 19
where you’d go through Wrightsville
meander over to Tennille
and then head on out to Sandersville
a sea of cotton fields  
roads all red clay

Ohoopee was a church of miracles
a cured drunk who loved the Lord led the singin'
“On Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” 
only he pronounced it Jurdan’s.
and he weren’t wrong.

a fellow named Noah in the church 
needed help finding 
where to dig his well
even with a name like Noah

back in those days
people were people 
folks’ existence was all about 
helpin' their neighbors out

old Elvis heard about it
“I’m coming over to hope you out” 

I went over there too
to see Elvis hope his neighbor out

Elvis said he had a divinin'  rod – 
a hickory branch –  to find water 
Elvis walked  
it tremored
I saw it with my own eyes
they dug that well right there

they called this place Possum Scuffle
back over in Harrison by Raines Store 
over yonder by Deep Step and Goat Town
by Margaret Holmes's cannery ~
black eyed peas and collards. 

 in Acts 27
Luke is in a ship in a storm 
using stabilizing ropes 
~ also hawsers or helps
a help is a hope rope
on land or at sea
it's Biblical, Kim

you remember that

write it down

#VerseLove April 26

Our host today for Day 26 of #VerseLove is Donnetta Norris of Arlington, Texas, who inspires us to write borrowed line poems. You can read her full prompt and the poetry of others here. Today, I’m choosing a line from Mary Oliver’s The Gift: that held only the eventual, inevitable and dropping the word eventual.

Family Bible from Photostock
Family Bible

I close the worn book  
haunting family secrets
manifesting truths

that hold only the
inevitable shocking
revelations: pasts

#VerseLove April 24 with Susie Morice

Today is Day 24 of #VerseLove at http://www.ethicalela.com, and Susie Morice is our host. She inspires us to write poems using a junk drawer to determine things about who we are. You can read her full prompt and the poems of others here. I chose to write about the treasure I found in someone else’s junk dogs.

These Three Kings

I found three castoffs
betrayed, neglected, abused
I crowned these three kings 
Boo Radley
Ollie, “the baby” who is always ready to play

#VerseLove April 23 – with Alexis Ennis

Alexis Ennis is our host today for #VerseLove, inspring us to write poems about historical figures. You can read her full prompt here. I chose Teddy Roosevelt’s firstborn child as my figure.

TR’s diary entry Valentine’s Day when both his mother and wife died, one upstairs, one downstairs.
 As a preacher's kid (we seem to have a reputation to live down to, and I've always done my best to keep the trouble going), I was a reader drawn to the troublemakers like Queenie Peavy by Robert Burch in children's literature and Alice Roosevelt in biographies.  So that favorite interview question about whom I'd bring back if I could go to lunch with anyone?  Yeah, mine was always Alice Roosevelt, with footnotes about how she and I would have surely landed in jail together, cellmates somewhere for some crazy idea we hatched.  She had her own eye color named for her (and the US Navy uses this color named for her on its insignia).  So much more to tell about her, but here's the seed-starter packet:  

Eyes of Alice Blue

not under MY roof

her father TR told her

of smoking her cigs

she puffed on the roof

her snake Emily Spinach

there too, in her purse

no Taft supporter~

a murrain on him! she raged

blue eyes her namesake

what a character!

completely out of control

she fascinates me!

come sit by me if

you don’t have something nice to

say about someone!

born two days before

mom died upstairs, grandma down

under the same roof

death clouded her birth,

Alice Roosevelt Longworth

lived in those shadows

For Alice Roosevelt Longworth 


#VerseLove April 22 – with Emily

Emily is our host today at http://www.ethicalela.com for Day 22 of #VerseLove.

Today is Earth Day, and Emily encourages us to write about an island of our choice. I grew up on two islands – one in Georgia, one in South Carolina. I love today’s topic, because I’m back on St. Simons today spiffing up our rental unit here, remembering my youth softball league playing in the ballpark across the street, walking the village where I crabbed on the pier with my mother. It’s a perfect day to enjoy the island vibe with three out of control schnoodles who can’t get enough of all the salty sea smells.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Memories splash
Time-faded photographs
Redigitized to present-day
Beach walks

sea smells
salty schnoodles
savoring Saturday
still snoozing, sunrise sand dune soon
spoiled sons

#VerseLove April 21 – with Darius Phelps

Darius Phelps of New York is our host today for Day 21 of #VerseLove at http://www.ethicalela.com, inspiring us to write poems of grief or disillusionment. You can read more about Darius and read his full prompt here. He mentions that the ancient Chinese believed that by burning the house down when relatives died, it would send the house to the place where they were so they could have their homes beyond this life. I reflected for a while on that idea this morning, even chuckling about the Calgon laundry whitener that I remember commercials for as a child – – an Asian actor would come into the frame holding a box, saying, “Ancient Chinese Secret” when someone wondered about how the clothes got so clean. I think the ancient Chinese had a lot of things right. Come join us and read today’s poems.

Up in Flames ^ Choose One: House or Legacy? ^

those ancient Chinese

had it right: burn the house down!

strike up the torch flame!

better the house go 

up in smoke than the siblings

killing each other

who gets the dwelling?

who gets the crystal timepiece?

who "gets" anything?

executor’s call:

who gets to make decisions?

who denies morphine?

which one plans all meals?

oh, but NO SUGAR, stage 4

cancer patient fat?!?

what is this fresh hell??

give Mom a damn M&M!

stop controlling LIFE!

inheritance sucks

some get fortunes, some get F(ORK$#)

who "gets" anything??!

those ancient Chinese

had it right: strike the match and

walk in peace from fire