NaPoWriMo Daily Challenge: A Poem for Ruth and Don

I have been writing (or trying to) a poem each day for the NaPoWriMo daily poetry challenge to commemorate National Poetry Month. As of today, April 28, I have written 24 poems. This year instead of posting all my sometimes feeble attempts to the public, I've only been brave enough to share them with other poet friends who are on the same journey. They know the struggles of trying to be almost brilliant every day. 

Now that National Poetry Month is drawing to a close, I thought I'd take the plunge to share a few of my poems here. For Spring Break this year, I took my first trip to Hawaii to visit my good friends Ruth Thompson and Don Mitchell of Saddle Road Press, the publishers of my book Always a Blue House. There were a few days there in their lovely house on the Big Island when Ruth and I would be writing our poems on different floors. 

So here is one for you, Ruth and Don:

Day 12

Silver Swords

Ruth raved about them,
thorny globes glistening
among lava falls
on the slope of Mauna Kea.

We bumped our way
along a rocky track,
like the roads in Tanzania,

distant plains spread out before us
green and gold like the Serengeti.
How could this be Hawaii?

Then there they were, shining
like unsheathed blades,
presence potent
as she had promised.



Poetry Challenge A Year Late

Tania Pryputniewicz sent me a poetry challenge last March:  Use at least three of the musical expressions on the front of this card, plus cat, plus piano or other musical instrument of your choice in a poem. Game on!

It's almost April, which is National Poetry Month. This was a good way to get myself back into writing shape before attempting the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) 30-poems-in-30-days challenge.

It's taken me a year to write this poem. I guess publishing a book got in the way. But, Tania, here it is! 

Piano forte

Hauled all over Texas,
Colorado until Illinois,
Mom’s big upright in the corner
never made it past the blue house.

Legs scuffed from rough and tumble,
keys stained, discolored ivory
cracked by shoes and toys.
One senza music -
sounding thunk, thunk.

Childhood cat a black
eighth note, paws soft-stepping
across the keyboard,
drew ghost music,
dolce espressivo.

I could pick out high C,
my  piano lesson a solo
cut short when we had to move,
finding a new place again.

Mom dragged that piano
all over those living rooms:
it held stockings at Christmas,
once played divider, enough space
for a hillbilly bedroom.

From her red Methodist hymnal,
she filled each house
with  chords poco marcato:
“Onward Christian Soldiers,”
 “Thine is the Glory.”

In the end strong men
hauled its black body away,
Mom stood at the window,
sheets of music in her hands.


Musical terms:
dolce espressivo – sweetly expressive
forte - strongly
non tropo vivo – not too lively
poco marcato – a little emphatic

Slice of Life: NaPoWriMo

Hello Slice of Life community! Happy National Poetry Month!

This is my third year of participating in NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month.  The goal is to write a poem every day for the entire month. This year, coming right off the Slice of Life Story Challenge in March, I wasn't sure I'd make it all through April this year so I decided not to post every poem as I did last year. It turns out my instincts were correct. So far, I've done fairly well but have missed a couple of days. Since sharing is part of the fun, I joined a private Facebook group with a several of my friends. We're posting our almost-daily poems and commenting on them. Because it's private, the pressure is off. They will still like me if I don't show up every day. 

Writing a poem a day means quite a few mediocre poems, but once in a while there's a keeper that could turn into something significant. And sometimes, there is something that is just plain fun.  For Day 10, the prompt was to write a poem based on the titles of books taken from my bookshelf. Since I have a stack of poetry books sitting next to my writing chair, I decided to use the titles of those books. Here's what came from them:

Ask Me
Dear Girl
How to Read a Poem
it is
Difficult Fruit
this Crazing
of The Human Line
Ordering the Storm
Like a Beggar
The Sharp Edges of Knowing
blurred with
Smoky Inky
it is the
and Shift
Small Things:
Owls and other Fantasies
flying like angel
Ariel sending out her
Cry of the Nightbird

I thought this could be a great prompt to use with students. If you try it in your classroom, I'd love to see the results. Happy writing.

SOL 2016 Day 28: Really Only Four Days Left?

Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge 2016
This March, more than 300 teachers have committed to daily writing. If you’d like to read more “slices” (from other teachers and even students), visit:

Here I am, having posted for 27 days in a row. Some posts were more successful than on others, depending on the demands of daily life and my involvement level.  That's how writing goes no matter what the task. For a few days now I've been counting down, hoping I could make it to the end of the month. Now that there are only four more posts, including this one, I find myself feeling almost nostalgic. 

I've participated in such online challenges before. For the entire year of 2014, as part of a private Facebook group, I wrote and posted a haiku everyday (well, to be honest, almost every day. I missed 2 or 3). 

Writing haiku became so much a part of my life that I've continued with that group although I  admit I haven't written one every day. But every few days I find a haiku within me to post.

Last year I wrote a poem each day for NaPoWriMo as part of National Poetry Month.  National Poetry Month - April - starting four days from now.

And that's what I've been pondering as I reach the end of the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Am I up for another month of writing and posting? Can I come up with 30 poems? 

I find myself doubting my ability to commit in the same way I felt as March 1st rolled around for Slice of Life. But as I make it to the home stretch of this wonderful journey, I feel that maybe, just maybe I can keep going.

National Poetry Month: April 1, 2015

It's that time again: National Poetry Month which means I'll be participating in NaPoWriMo once again. Last year I posted a haiku on my blog every day in April. This year I'm determined to post different types of poems each day. 

And if any of you want to write a poem to me, I'll post your work as well. 

So taking courage in hand (who in her right mind would post poems when they are newborn?), here goes.


Day 1:

Washing Dishes

White shards shattered,
scattered over the tile floor.
The plate flew past his head,
like in a movie
she had once watched,
like she had often imagined.

How it started doesn’t matter.
A bird trapped in her cage,
approval the worm she craved.
Not his half hidden glance
as he turned away,
derision written in the curve of his lips.

As she wiped that plate dry,
warm from its bath,
porcelain smooth,
this time her hand
knew the reply
she had never dared.

Day 30: Haiku Continues While Saying Goodbye to Poetry Month 2014

National Poetry Month has been more of an adventure than I had expected.  I took up the challenge of posting a poem every day for 30 days to prove to myself that I have the writing discipline to follow through.  After having proclaimed my intentions to my entire online community, I had many, many witnesses to watch my progress.

Of course already having pledged to write a haiku every day in 2014 helped.  My haiku practice was already in place, but before April those poems had been posted only in a private Facebook group.  For the month of April, I had to find the courage to send my little haiku out into the big, bad online world.  And I admit at first I was very nervous.  After all, it's difficult enough to write a poem every day, much less a good one.  Sending out any poem, the good, the bad and the downright uninspired seemed like a huge risk.

But the response from readers has been more positive than I could have imagined.  I've gained more followers on Twitter and have had some of my haiku re-tweeted to spread them even further.  That amazed me.  In a workshop I attended about creating an online presence as a poet, the director of Poet's House in New York advised tweeting lines of poetry.  He was so right.  There are actually people out there who are looking for poetry online.  I just had to give them what they wanted.

I even have some readers who want me to continue posting my daily haiku for them.  The encouragement and readership I've gained makes me feel the need to keep sharing - perhaps just less often.   I have cringed when posting poems that I didn't think were worthy, so from now on I'll just share the highlights of my weekly practice.  And keep the others to myself.  But I promise that I will write a haiku every day for the rest of the year.  I'm up to 119 with only 246 to go.

And so on this last day in April, the 30th day of haiku postings, I bid National Poetry Month 2014 adieu with one more springtime haiku:

flocks of hoodies swoop
middle school hallways winging true for June's promise

Happy National Poetry Month: My interview in The California Journal of Women Writers and Haiku Number 20

Recently Marcia Meier, my friend and fellow AROHO alum interviewed me for TCJWW: The California Journal of Women Writers.  This online journal was founded in 2012 with the mission of "fostering and enhancing the visibility of North American female authors, and narrowing the wide gender gap found in discussions in the literary world" by featuring reviews of women’s literature as well as interviews.  I am incredibly honored to appear on this wonderful site.

Interview: Lisa Rizzo

Marcia Meier recently spoke with Lisa Rizzo to discuss her poetry, motivations, and inspirations threaded throughout her work. Rizzo is a poet, blogger and world traveler who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. A middle school teacher by profession, Lisa has published a chapbook of her poetry and blogs frequently about her travel adventures. Her blog, Poet Teacher Seeks World, is chock-full of her insightful and keen observations during her global jaunts, which also informed much of her chapbook, In the Poem an Ocean. Her poems are earthly, nostalgic, piercing and always surprising.

Meier and Rizzo chatted recently about the poet’s passions and her life.

Meier: What inspired you to begin writing poetry?
Rizzo: I started writing poetry because I was desperate. Even though I had always wanted to write, I only dabbled with it until I was in college. Then I began to attempt writing fiction. I tried over and over to write stories that withered away to dust as I struggled with the characters and plot. I just couldn’t make them live. Then one day, sitting in the big chairs in the university library where I always sat, out of sheer frustration I abandoned prose and tried to write a poem. No, I wrote a poem. It came bursting out of me in one swift flow and that was it. I’m not sure why I had never tried poetry before. I guess I had never thought someone like me could write poems. All my traditional liberal arts education had made me feel that poets were people far out of my realm. But there it was, a poem.

To read the rest of the interview, visit TCJWW: The California Journal of Women Writers 

Haiku Number 20
sun seeps through curtains
light motifs across wood floors
salute Spring-bright day 

Day 17 National Poetry Month


Sandburg you were wrong
fog does not cat-creep it swoops
down to smother day