Poetry Challenge from Travis Crowder – Write a poem that mirrors an existing poem
that you enjoy.

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

Poetry challenge from Travis Crowder:  Look back in your phone and find
an image of something that inspires a poem.

Pray

Pray
Pray without ceasing
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Adialeiptos in Greek
Not nonstop
Constantly recurring
Like wash, rinse, repeat
Throughout the day
Embedded in every fiber of every activity
Be relentless
Thank and ask
Don’t stop
Upon waking
In the shower
Brushing teeth
At the traffic light
In the meeting
While running
Over dinner
During Jeopardy
At the ballgame
While reading
At bedtime
In dreams
Pray

-Kim Johnson

Poetry challenge from Travis Crowder – What books have nudged you
as a reader and burned themselves into your being?  Create a poem with
snippets or lines from these books, crediting the authors.

Coffee and Conversation

When you are little and ugly, somebody carries you in church on a pillow and you come out a child of God and inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
Marley was dead, to begin with.
A head is a terrible thing to waste.
The Book Lovers’ Anthology stepped out of its wrappings.
Marsh is not swamp.
It’s fruitcake weather!
When Atticus and I finally reached the top, the sky was a gorgeous charcoal gray.
We’re on our way to give a horrible, terrible monster what for!
The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate.
What is it like to be an octopus?
The fish’s arrival was choreographed by nature to by mysterious.
You will find the Dodge plot, and Anna, who understood love as few women understand it.
What did a thousand acres of Silphiums look like when they tickled the bellies of the buffalo?
I also know the way the old life haunts the new.

     -Kim Johnson

Thank you, Hudson, Dickens, Roach, Hanff, Owens, Capote, Ryan, Lowery, Sedaris, Montgomery, Capuzzo, Price, Leopold, Oliver and so many others who’ve sat and had intimate conversations with me over coffee throughout the years!

Poetry Challenge from Travis Crowder – What are you reading?  Collect
inspiring lines from the story or book and create a Found Poem, crediting
the author of the book.

Words from Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

To Be An Artist

Go inside yourself. Discover the motive that bids you write.
Draw near to nature. Depict your sorrows and desires.
Express the images that surround you – your dreams, objects of your memory.
Try to raise the submerged sensations over that distant past of your childhood.
Explore the depths whence your life wells forth.
Seek for the depth of things.
Live for a while in books and learn from them what seems to you worth learning – but above all, love them.
Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and try to cherish the questions themselves.
It is a matter of living everything.
Love your solitude.
Be glad of your growing into which you can take no one else with you.
Your solitude will be your home and haven even in the midst of very strange conditions, and from there you will discover all your paths.
There is not more beauty in Rome than anywhere else but much beauty in Rome because there is much beauty everywhere.
Go into yourself and meet no one for hours on end.
Be alone as you were in childhood.
Think of the world which you carry within yourself. Pay attention to what arises in you.
Be without resentment.
Be glad and comforted.
To love is good: for love is difficult, and the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it.
Be brave in the face of the strangest, most singular and most inexplicable things.
You must not be frightened when a sorrow rises up before you.
Most people get to know only one corner of their room.
Do not observe yourself too closely.
Do not derive too rapid conclusions from what happens to you; let it simply happen to you.
Do not think that the man who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled.
Find patience enough in yourself to endure
and single-heartedness enough to believe.
Let life happen to you.
Conduct yourself carefully and consistently.
May the year that lies before you preserve and strengthen you.

-Kim Johnson

Poetry Challenge from Sarah J. Donovan:  Write a poem about something
that used to exist but you determine doesn’t anymore, as if in a dream. But
then awaken and discover that it really does still exist and encourage others
to take advantage of it. 

Kindled

The wind swirled the broom handle
    of the raging fire
    sweeping our farm house into a pile of ashes.

My heart cries
    not for the library of rare and cherished books
    not for the framed recipes written by my ancestors
    not even for the family photograph albums.

My soul yearns
   for the back porch swing and the front porch rockers
   the first birthday gifts you ever gave me
true gifts of your self, your time, your love, your life
   the place where we traded the traffic counts of the city for
   the confused rooster, pattering rainfalls,
   chirping redbirds, chipping woodpeckers,
   languid Loblollies, whispering windchimes,
   neighborless peaceful tranquility
   of the country

where we held hands and
    shared a cup of coffee and a Klondike Bar
    prayed fervently to begin the day
    talked long into the summer nights of crickets and fireflies
    cried over the troubles of our children and
    laughed at their silliness
    thanked God for their successes
    tousled the morning bedheads of our grandchildren
    hushed their sobs of bruises
    Band-Aided their bumps and bangs
    Illegally Cuban-cigar tobaccoed their hornet stings
    Breathed the dust settling from the tractor-mown pasture
    relaxed our heads against each other with lapfuls of lazy dogs
    said goodbye to Archie the night before the cancer won
    read scriptures to comfort and reassure us
    decided on important matters and made choices together
 
where we rocked through rough and swung through sweet
    swing and rocker glue strengthening and solidifying
    connecting and holding

Even if the fire of a nightmare reduced to rubble the rockers and
    scorched the swing to nothing but charred cinders of chain and cushion
A phoenix would rise from a single burning ember
    Porch swings and rockers kindle fireproof vaults

-Kim Johnson

Poetry challenge from Sarah J. Donovan – write a poem
giving someone some advice that they need.

Ignore Kondo

Clean out your closet by your own rules.
Not everything fits like a glove all the time.
Weight fluctuates.
Not everything fits the seasonal color palatte.
Be a unicorn.
Not everything sparks joy.
This isn’t Utopia.
Not everything is practical.
Make Gene Simmons proud!
Not everything is comfortable.
Neither is life.
Not everything is fashionable.
Be a trendsetter.
Not everything is worn every decade.
Be a hippie.
Not everything needs a designer label.
Learn from a Sneetch.
Not everything is new.
Embrace rescue clothes like rescue pets.
Be your own expert.
Write your own rules.

-Kim Johnson

Poetry challenge from Sarah J. Donovan – Write a poem
about the part of you that you like best. 

Go Away! I’m Introverting!

Not my mother’s narrow feet
or curly hair that defies all logic,
Not my father’s fixation on collecting books
or his way with words – but
The best thing about me
is my way without words.

My introverted stream of consciousness
allows me to perceive things
that extroverts cannot.

Sharing the world with
so many self-absorbed, incessant talkers
is a constant reminder that
peace, humility, and tranquility
are worth far more than
self-promoting proclamations..
My socks give the command:
“Go away! I’m introverting!”
Not to be rude, but I’ve got a lot of
enjoying time alone to do.

The best part of me
is that I’m happy being me,
and I don’t feel the need to
relentlessly convince anyone else
of this truth.

-Kim Johnson

Poetry Challenge from Sarah Donovan:  Write a poem about something that
makes you happy. 

Blackberry Winter Memories

“It’s a Blackberry Winter,” I was told.
The spring allows winter one final word before winning the argument.
A perfect writing time- early morning
fireplace ablaze, fresh coffee,
comfy chair, fleece pajamas,
Moleskine journal, bold gel pen,
Thoughts ready to materialize.

But suddenly, Schnauzer and Schnoodle seige!
One wraps around my neck on the back of the chair.
One curls up in my lap on the paper.
They, too, love a fire.

There are things that bring
more warmth than fireplaces and coffee,
more comfort than chairs and pajamas,
more joy than journals and pens.
And I’d rather have these memories
on this Blackberry Winter morning.

– Kim Haynes Johnson, April 2, 2019

Poetry Challenge from Anna Roseboro:  Take a classic text and show a
timeless theme using modern language to write a poem (such as a rap). 

Good Friday’s Last Word

You think your haters and gangstas are oh, so bad
But they weren’t nothin’ like one Man had
Two of His homies betrayed and denied
One kissed Him to show who’d be crucified
He pleaded with Daddy to take this cup
His Daddy said, “Trust me, Son, I know whassup.”
One bro sold Him out for some silver coins
They scourged Him, nailed Him up, and pierced His loins
They mocked Him with a crown of thorns and other things
They told Him He wasn’t the King of Kings
His haters said if He was King He’d jump down
Instead He forgave them with love to astound
He said, “It is finished” and died on His cross
But Daddy wasn’t finished showing who was Boss
Fast forward three days and His rock was moved
The King of Kings done busted out,
             KINGDOM PROVED!
His Daddy said, “Son, I didn’t take that cup
‘cause now to Heaven I can bring alla y’all up.”
Next time you think haters get the best of you
Just look at what one Man, our Savior, went through.
Just think of all our Savior, Jesus Christ, can do!

        -Kim Johnson

Where I’m From

I am from the mud-caked running shoes with the fraying laces and worn-out tread

From once Asics, to now Brooks, anything to prevent insanity.

I am from the Johnson Funny Farm in the rural Pike countryside and Guale, the Marshes of Glynn –

Both breathtakingly beautiful,

                 both rechargingly relaxing,

                             each wildly waving Loblolly or Spartina arms.

I am from the free-range eggs

    For which the (not once but twice) almost-murdered rooster mistakenly believes that he is necessary.

I’m from one side that event-izes everything elaborately, the other that celebrates every day simply.

      From Haynes and Johnson.

I’m from the wake-up dog breath full-face kisses of Boo Radley the valiant nightwatch-Schnoodle

       who sleeps with us because Mom’s last words were, “You take good care of these dogs!”

And sleep-tight nights with books piled high throughout the house.

From “Fasten Your Seatbelt!” and “Watch Your Speed – You Know They Hide Up Here!”

I’m from the glass house of a Southern Baptist preacher dad, the closed curtains and deadbolted doors  

of a maddening mother.

I’m “Kimberly – (English) from the royal fortress meadow,”my birth meadow the Okefenokee Swamp,

     cracked pecans, a churn of homemade peach ice cream.

From Georgia Lee and Eunice and Miriam, whose long-gone but lingering voices of dementia prompt

      reluctant visits….  to the pantry….  to be sure…. I can still…. smell the peanut butter.

I am from these haunted corners – holding on to the jagged edges of life,

      sometimes remembering, sometimes wanting to forget, always wishing their voices were still here.
               –  Kimberly Haynes Johnson