Challenge from Glenda Funk:  Write a Golden Shovel Poem by taking a line from a favorite poem and letting each word of the line be the last word in the lines of the poem you create.

“An Incident in Bethlehem”
From “Incident” by Natasha Trethewey
(Taken From Native Guard, winner of the Pulitzer Prize)
Line: At the cross, trussed like a Christmas tree, a few men gathered

In a lowly stable in Bethlehem, Mary gazes with pride AT
her sweet little baby, sent to save THE
souls of sinners; in the 33-year shadow of the CROSS,
the shepherds and sheep admire Jesus in a TRUSSED
manger, crib legs that would someday stand LIKE
intersecting compass points needling Heaven and Earth, A
lasting symbol of the reason we celebrate CHRISTMAS,
The hope held in these trees – the manger, the cross, the Christmas TREE–
offers both the blessings of this life and the promise of A
more glorious one in heaven, where more than a FEW
will reflect on the Nativity sets we once admired, with wise MEN
and angels, and pray this is where we will all be eternally GATHERED.

– Kim Johnson

My Current Schnituation
schtep into my life schnituation –
my Schnoodle and Schnauzer schnensations
but before we begin
          with their schn’anigans, friend,
rest assured they’re both schpoiled aberrations
we’d long buried our Dachshund Roxane,
her schneezing schnozzle way out of hand
she left out hearts schattered
     all because sche’mattered
to her perschnickety ticky-toe fans
two new schnugglebugs’ schnares and schnafus
from previous lives needed reschcues
from their lives on the schtreetz
        to the warmth of our scheets
they’re schnupreme broken heart schnuper glu’ers
when schnissors appear they schtart schnarling
and schneering and schlinking a’farling
but my schnips – and their schnaps –
      and a few schnitzel schnacks
‘schurenuff schape up our schweet schqirr’ly darlings
we schnelebrate their schneaky kinship
their schpirited schnooping cahootship
though they’re schnocially schnobs
          and schly schustenance hogs
they’ve schnagged Funny Farm schnitizenship
-Kim Johnson

The Struggle Is Real

I keep on going up a size
And now my clothes do not fit me
The only thing the same’s my eyes
I haven’t run in months, you see
I haven’t watched my diet much
My “counting points” has not occurred
For lunch I just eat such & such
These hips are nothing but absurd!
My stress level is off the chain
I can’t quit work – I need the funds
Which maybe helps excuse weight gain
I just can’t keep on gaining tons
The change is up to me to make
I need to do some exercise
I must stop eating junk like cake
And lower stress would be advised
I think I’ll start today at six
I’m really not sure when is best
Monday noon may be my pick
Will my willpower stand the test?

Challenge from Susie Morice: write a poem about a piece of art, capturing its light, colors, mood and message.

In muted tones of warm shallows
with streams of light filtering through
the branches of underwater playgrounds,
Mom leads her calves
through a watery wonderland
teeming with life. 
Playful, gentle creatures,
sea cows know
the health of their water
by the diversity of its life.
Challenge: write a poem about a struggle. 

Trenches and Summits

A world of drugs – of heroin and meth
Led my firstborn child down a dark road of death
Her journey began with the birth of her son
Her sleepy glazed smiles fooled everyone
We saw a proud mother adoring her child
Not knowing she had painkillers stockpiled 
Doctors whose orders seem helpful and kind
Can be the start of a helpless decline 
Addiction abducted with needling claws
The kind that gives mothers a new prayerful cause
But as walls kept on crumbling and tearing her down
Her family kept praying that she would be found
And God heard our prayers –
She landed in jail.
Her once healthy body was sallow and frail 
“I’m ready,” she said. “I want to get well.”
“We know,” we assured her, “you’ve marched straight through hell.” 
And what’s happened since then is a miracle still
An addict recovering and seeking God’s will
She now works with others to steer and to guide To help those who need one like her by their side
The thing about trenches so treacherous and bleak
Is that they become summits that others will seek.

Challenge from Susie Morice: write a poem about a tradition or
Mornings on the Funny Farm with Boo Radley

Lick the corner of Mom’s right eye to wake her up.
It’s time to go out! 
Jump down off the bed,
Shake, and click toenails all the way to the front door. Turn 20 circles while she walks to the door. 
Wait for brother Fitz to pee on the gardenia bush. Sniff around. 
Pee on top of his pee to be the Funny Farm Territory King.
Run inside and beg Mom for a cheese bite. 
Watch while she packs sandwiches.
She drops pieces of ham every time. 
Run to the bathroom when Dad’s shower water goes off: time for blue jeans pants leg tug of war. 
Lick my chops so he’ll fill my people cup with fresh water.
Drink it down so Fitz doesn’t get as much. 
Dig the red ball out of my toybox and growl at Mom. Run from her when she tries to take it. 
Wait around the corner with my front legs guarding the ball on the floor, my white wagging tail straight up in the air. 
Growl again and wait for her to move a muscle. Take ball, run, and jump on the bed. 
Listen for the crinkly cracker wrapper.
Run to the kitchen for breakfast with Dad: graham crackers and yogurt.  
Try to get more than Fitz.
Every. Single. Day.
Peek around the corner for a wet towel or stray sock to steal. 
Rummage through Mom’s closet to chew tissues or receipts from totes. 
Blame it all on Fitz. 
Listen for keys. 
They’re leaving for work! 
Dentastix time. 
Push Fitz off couch to be first in line. 
Listen to the “You Boys Behave Today!”
Every. Single. Day. 
“No pooping on the floor. 
Guard the house. 
No barking at the deer and squirrels. 
No chewing shoes. 
We’ll check in on the camera at lunch and say hello. 
You boys behave.”
Watch the cars go down the driveway. 
Look for a place to poop on the floor 
so I can blame it on Fitz. 
Take a nap. 
Bark at squirrels and deer. 
Chew Dad’s slippers. 
Howl LOUDLY at the camera because I love them more than Fitz does. 
Sit by the window and be a better watchdog than Fitz. 
Reflect on all the ways I take care of these two people I rescued…..

Challenge: write a 100 word story using only 1-syllable words and showing something in a new light.

We took a flight to Rome and France, ate new foods. 
France was a place of love – a Seine boat ride, an art tour, a walk with a guide, a show. 
“Home is the best place,” he said. “It’s safe there.”
“But I like to breathe fresh air and forge new paths, to storm the streets with a map and a mind spin. Your warm bed will wait.” 
“Each hour is a trip if you seize the day and see it through a new lens,” he said. “We don’t need to jet the globe to find a world of fun.”
Challenge: write a poem
About your senior year of high school

A year away from Big Brother
How little we knew Orwell had it so right
And Asimov In The Fun They Had before him.
Beowulf in yellow and black for Ernestine Jones’ Senior English class
Yearbook editor with dreams of teaching just like Mrs. Jones, only nicer. 
I thought The Road held a more direct path, but Robert, like George and Isaac, had it right.
Write a poem about a time of pretending in October such as when you wore a Halloween costume as a child. 

Wednesday Addams –
The “normal” abnormal one.
Not the total monster of a Monday, yet
Never quite connecting with the Saturdays and the Sundays.
A haunted house freak
Where supernatural happenings are as predictable as the cuckoo
Where spirits come calling at all hours
With ailments as random as tombstone manners of death.
Of course. Some creep was always ringing.
The creepiest…
The kookiest…
The most mysterious…
The spookiest….
I never had to pretend. 
There’s not much difference between
An asylum and a parsonage.

The autumn camera roll photo that inspired my poem was taken last Friday night at The Sleepy Hollow Experience, a nighttime play that progresses through the woods with the audience traveling alongside the characters from point to point as the story unfolds.

The Sleepy Hollow Experience

Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Headless Horseman’s path was fallow

Rustic Landscape
Weeping Willow

Ichabod Crane
Lanky Fellow

Brom Van Brunt
Brawling Bully

Katrina Van Tassel
Curls of Yellow

Fateful Party
Crime to follow

Unsolved Mystery
Suspects narrow