Creative Display: Shadow Box Poetry

For my birthday last year, I got this gorgeous iron key on a ring. I love decor and jewelry with keys. This key, however, was too big for jewelry and too awkward to simply hang somewhere. I had to get creative.

Generic Craft Box

My first thought was a shadow box. But traditional ones weren’t wide enough for the ring. I was finally inspired by an image I found that used a propped open hinged box, more of a chest, to display as more of an open shadow box.

I found this inexpensive cigar box on at, where I also bought the Once Upon a Time paper set.

Once Upon a Time paper

I picked out some paper, stained the box a color to compliment both paper and key. Then I formatted and printed off one of my poems about a key, “The Key’s Mystery.” Cut and glued my poem  and background page in.

A clear Command hook worked to hang the key. Though it was harder than I expected finding one large enough for the ring, but small enough for it to hang high enough. And now I have a unique display for both my key and poem.

Key Box

Mary Butterfly Signature


David Seah!


Who is DAVID SEAH, and why is he here?

David Seah headshot

Ceaser Photography

Meet Dave, a talented, whimsical storyteller who uses computer technology to bring his stories and creations to life. His serious side is always looking for a better way to organize, systematize, code, and simplify tasks —  these products are spare, beautifully balanced, color coordinated, and do their job well.

Then there’s his other side that loves to explore and tweak options, express how he (and we) feel about life. These creations led me to contact Dave. His very generous sharing of time and ideas fill this post, plus two more to follow.

We exchanged over 6,000 words! How to distill his wisdom, humor, eclectic personality, deeply held and expressed views, took a while. Plan time to go get lost in his website. Discover how he works, what he’s created and shared with the universe.  Click on the pictures below to read their posts

Hit his blog browsing page to skim ( or one of the challenge sub pages ( If you want to find a post later, you can always Google keywords (what you’re looking for).  Read other interviews he’s done — no two cover the same territory.

But first, enjoy Part 1 of the David Seah saga:

Just who is Dave Seah?

I don’t really have a succinct answer for that!

Factwise, I’m a 47-yo Taiwanese-American living in New Hampshire about 40 miles north of Boston. It’s a suburban area without good Chinese restaurants, which makes me sad.

Mostly I work as a freelance interactive developer, though I am trying to transition away from that into making products based on my own design work.

I gather that you were always interested in technical issues, trying to figure out how things work, and how to make them work better.

David Seah - Distractions

That’s a valid observation, though I think that I’m more interested in “human issues” that have technical aspects that I can solve.

I find technology for the sake of technology pretty boring. The application of technology, though, in the pursuit of “something better” or “something MORE AWESOME” is hugely interesting to me. It’s about empowering and enabling, and sometimes I’m able to muster the ability to work through the technical issues.

Figuring out how things work is an exercise in understanding how to make some aspect of life better. That said, I like digging into the technology and the principles behind it to find the uncommon and non-obvious effects they have, and thinking of ways that they might be useful or perhaps amusing.

What experiments are you most proud of creating/adapting in your growing up days?

I wasn’t a particularly experimental kid, but I did discover computers when I was in the 7th grade, around 1980-1981.

A lot of my formative beliefs about information sharing and team come from that time of learning in a group of three of us, and I spent a lot of time learning the innards of the Apple II computer.

I would say I learned the bulk of my computer knowledge, or perhaps gained the mindset for using computers, before I went to college for computer engineering.

In high school, I was probably most pleased with winning a school bridge building competition with an interesting load-bearing design that no one else had thought of by a 2:1 margin, or 10:1 if you didn’t include the student who cheated.

I also enjoyed writing, and was in-fact thinking of becoming an English major instead of a computer engineering major. I figured I could always write, but would learn more in computer engineering that I didn’t know, to the chagrin of my English teachers.

 Did you write much as a kid? What were your first doodles and writings about?

Yep! I had a mysterious grasp of essay writing at an early age, which I didn’t realize for years. I would just write-out what I was thinking and present it in an order that made sense, each paragraph building on the previous one. I enjoyed using WordStar, the seminal early word processing program, because I could type as fast as I could think

My first memory of a David Seah - Spaceship Trading Cardstory was for I think was the 7th grade, when I had stayed up late writing an assignment at the last minute (hand-written, as this predates word processor use in my house).

I had put the names of my friends in the class in the story, which was loosely a Star Wars-inspired story, and the teacher reading it aloud made for a lot of interesting reactions from my classmates. I also spent a lot of time drawing spaceships with my friends (this was the late 70s/early 80s after all), which I started in the 4th grade.

I still have all the drawings too! Generally I didn’t write except for class after the 8th grade, but I think what really drew me was making up worlds…that’s what video games were to me, in the early days of that art form.

I grew up as an Army Brat, and experience feeling a “stranger in a strange land”.  You said on your blog that you spent your first years in MA, then moved to Taiwan for another chunk of your youth. How did that affect you?

I was born in New Jersey, where my dad was the minister for the First Presbyterian Church of Monmouth County. This was a rural area, mostly farms, and we were the only Asian family anyone had ever seen in the area.

I don’t speak Taiwanese or Chinese because when I was in pre-school, apparently I was speaking a mixture of Taiwanese and English and the teachers thought I had brain damage or a developmental disorder, so my mom started speaking to me only in English and I lost the language.

At the time, my parents didn’t think they would be returning to Taiwan because of the government (they were blacklisted as human rights activists by the KMT, the losers of the Chinese Civil War in 1949). In 1976 or 1977 our family moved to Taiwan when I was 9.

The result: massive culture shock. It was already easy to feel slightly out-of-place as the only Asian kid where I lived, but at least there was TV and I could read and understand what people were saying. In Taiwan I couldn’t do that. I went to the American school the entire time I was there, not speaking Chinese and being regarded as a weird foreigner.

Then on returning to the US for college, I unexpectedly went through yet another 5 years of reverse-culture shock (realizing this only 5 years after it was over), because I’d been away for so long and I lacked common experiences with my other classmates.

The effect, I think, was always feeling like an outsider or stranger, to this day. It took a long time to develop comfort in some social skills, but even now it is difficult to put away the feeling that I am an outsider/intruder that doesn’t belong.

Was art your first love, and tech more of an adult decision?

 Neither of them are a first love, I would say, as a maker. I’m probably more of a reluctant creative.

I was more excited about stories than anything, particularly ones that I thought I could make. I wanted to (and still do want to) make really interesting experiences. I love animation, illustration, computer graphics, computer game design because of the stories and feelings they encourage, and for the knowledge and experience they deliver.

I’m a frustrated storyteller, and both art and technology are where my efforts seem to have gone because I have wanted good tools and good skills. Where I have fallen short, though, is having the guts to tell those stories and keep practicing.

It feels like I’m only now just getting over that block. Making things that are lovable is hard!

David, thank you so much!

David Seah - Logging Annoyances

This was my trigger to contact Dave – I LOVE
the Angry Scribble option!I call it my  Grump’s To Do Form. ^^

David Seah - Annoyed Task Planner2

End of Post 1.

Next time, more about the creative process, how and why the blog has morphed over time, with examples, plus the Groundhog Day approach to tracking.

Part 3 includes a frank discussion about poetry, comfort zones, conflict, and more fun posts to read on Dave’s site. 


A Poetic How-To

As is tradition, for National Poetry Month I am following multiple sites for my prompts and inspiration. The poem I am sharing today is one written for the Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day challenge. Keep in mind this is a rough draft. Day 10: Take the phrase “How (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem.

“How to Catch a Fairy”

Fairies like a place to frolic–
explore a forest glade,
find a playful willow,
or circle of shrooms.

Fairies love gifts—
entice them with
a trail of flowers,
berries and sparkly things.

Fairies want to dance—
like a pied piper,
lure them with a spritely tune
played on harp, flute, fiddle.

Fairies need a home—
provide a roof made for doll or bird,
or create one just for them,
and their loyalty is yours alone.


Bonus: Here is instructions for creating a fairy home, courtesy of Tinkerbell.

How to Build a Fairy Home

How to Build a Fairy Home


Mary Butterfly Signature

Where is my mind?

Answer: On paper.

When chatting with Peggy, I realized how old-fashioned I am. I keep most of my thoughts, to-dos and writing on paper, either typed or written in pen. Peggy uses her computer and phone, in other words, technology, to keep track of things.

In order to remember things I have to write them down, literally. I have notebooks for everything it seems. I even print out a monthly handout on the moon cycles that I follow along with. If it’s anywhere, it’s on my desk.

I take dictation (from whom? not sure about that one) on some of my poems, the rest I struggle with.

I have a planner with my daily to-do lists, a habit tracker, a writing tracker, a poetry notebook, a writing notebook, a prioritized to-do list, and a little green shopping list notebook. I’m more wannabe organized person than actually organized. Here are some pictures of how I keep track:

IMG_4119IMG_4120IMG_4121IMG_4123IMG_4126IMG_4130My trusty pen (and water bottle)!

A Magical Poem for Friday the 13th

Today is a superstitious day. If you feel you need protection, perhaps this shop can help.

Sparky’s Magic Shop

Is your boss a big buffoon?
We can make him a baboon!
Homework making you insane?
We can biggify your brain.

We can read your future here
If it’s bleak, never fear!
We have just the charm for that–
Just ignore the undead rat.

When the moon falls from the sky
And you fear that you could die
Come to Sparky’s Magic Shop
There’s no problem we can’t stop!


Magic Shop

Magic Shop

Mary Butterfly Signature

Dragon Meed

Here’s a Dragon poem to brighten up your day.reddino

And, Michele, I did add that stanza you suggested.


Dragon Meed


One dragon blue, one dragon red,

two beasts desiring to be fed.bluedino

One dragon red, one dragon blue,

so very hungry, thirsty, too.


One dragon left, one dragon right,

both slipped inside the inn that night

One came from near, one came from far.

Both tried to belly to the bar,


Red dragon said to dragon blue,

“I’m more in need of drink than you.

I therefore aim to be served first,

to feed and satisfy my thirst.”


Said dragon blue to dragon red,

I claim the right to first instead.

My need is just as great as yours.”

And with that, dropped onto all fours.


The barkeep said, “Please, sirs, depart,

before you tear this bar apart.

For you are large, this place is small.

I beg you, do not start a brawl.”


Alas, the dragons did not heed

this good advice, but did proceed

to roar and stomp with all their might

and get into an awful fight.


One swung a tail and hit the door,

a table, glasses, chairs galore.

The other flamed a fiery breath.

The patrons fled in fear of death.


The barkeep, overcome with fright,

abandoned dragons to their plight.

Alas, though dragons’ brawling waned

no single bite or sip remained.


“Oh, boys,” the owner’s voice rang out

“You will agree, without a doubt,

“You owe me money for this bar.

“You’ll pay me now, or not get far.”


Scratched and bruised, they broke apart,

left tired, poor, and sick at heart,

no nourishment to fill the void

of empty bellies, all destroyed.


Here is the moral of this tale:

good manners does not mean you fail,

for if each had been more polite,

they’d fed and drunk with much delight.


One dragon red, one dragon blue,

both beasts still hungry, thirsty, too

One dragon blue, one dragon red,

went hungry, thirsty into bed.


Today’s Poems

Here are a couple poems I wrote today in response to the weekly prompts on the Poetic Asides blog:


We were so careful with each other,
not willing to risk heart, home,
flesh, bone.

We touched briefly between the aisles
of the public library. Book end to book end,
what stories we could tell?

I only sketched the barest outline.
You kept well within the lines,
characters not fleshed out, plots threadbare.

Today, I carelessly call off our meeting.
Tired with a headache, excuses made
for five years into a marriage, not five years
into this, whatever this is.

Every polite, we arrange to meet on Tuesday,
when our schedules will allow.

Allow me.
No, you go first.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

February 28, 2015

prompt: careless poem

Time for Treats

“Treat, treat, treat?”
Scattered on the floor,
little tuna and chicken goodies.

Treat, treat, treat.
He hovers over the meat cooler,
looking for the biggest packages
of the leanest hamburger.

Treat, treat, treat!
We pick up two buck chuck,
chocolate, Irish Breakfast tea
and German herring at Trader Joe’s.

Treat, treat, treat?
At this rate, his Lotto winnings
will not last long.

Licking icing off my fingers
from the cinnamon rolls
good luck brings.

(It brings treats.)

February 28, 2015

prompt: treat poem


Poetry in Quotes

I’d like to share with you some quotes that really echo how I feel about poetry.

What is poetry?

“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.”
–Edgar Allan Poe

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”
–Carl Sandburg

Who is the poet?

“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”
–W. H. Auden

Poets don’t publish for the recognition or the money. We do it because we want to connect with the world, with other people. To share human experience and emotion.

“Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.”
–Don Marquis

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
–T.S. Eliot

“Poetry is a language in which man explores his own amazement.”
–Christopher Fry

And, above all else:

“Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves.
What humans can be, they must be. They must be true to their own nature.” –Abraham Maslow

I am a Poet
A genius in disguise
Forms flow from my fingertips
Words and phrases grow within me
Waiting for ripeness
That moment when I write them
And another poem is born

Mary Butterfly Signature

Creativity Takes Shape

January is a tough month for me. This January has been an especially creative one, however. I’ve been drawing and painting in my DIY Planner every day.


Also I just finished a cross-stitch project. The Celtic design, all in purple, is for me since I tend to give my stitching away to friends and family.


On the writing front, I’ve been typing up a play I wrote in 2006/2007. It’s called “The Victorians” and is a humorous play about mental illness. I know, weird. After doing all this typing, I realized it needed more, so additions will be made. The reason it’s taken me so long to type this up is my feelings about the writing. I keep wondering if it’s any good, if I will have to redo the formatting (likely) and who will I show it to. I guess this is Resistance.

Creativity takes bravery. Not just when you show it to others, but the very act of creating sometimes takes enormous courage. No one really cares whether or not I create anything. My family knows I’m happier when I’m creating, but all this activity must mystify them. It’s just what I do and enjoy, making stuff. And that’s good enough for me.

Please, Please, a Do-Over, Please

Hurray for the new year! Time to wonder whether it’s possible to make changes for the better, to learn to behave as if we truly love ourselves, instead of indulge ourselves like little kids who are given cookies to make us shut up. Time to dust off the old resolutions, rewrite them in prettier ink or fonts, print them on better paper. Or, stare them down, demanding they bend to our will this year, stop mocking us, and cooperate. This time.

I spent the last half of 2014 fighting a health issue that ended up interfering with my ability to DO things, be active, work to make my young bionic knee strong, powerful, and support me, mentally and physically.

I named the new knee “Jezebel” and wrote about her in 2013, shortly after she came into my life, literally. We were gonna raise hell, dance on tables, do outrageous things. We weren’t going to let age get in our way, me and Jez. Right.

I’m not high on the marathon of motivation, especially when it involves sweating and working out. Jezebel gave me an opportunity to change, and I did for several months. Then the door slammed, from mid-August until early January. The healing process under way. I’m much better now, and found that weapon of hope I’d misplaced earlier to battle with the resolution-breaking demons.

I wrote this poem when I was waiting to see whether I’d royally screwed up poor Jez, or if she and I are salvageable. I’m still not certain I can exercise and stretch away the scar tissue that formed, or if I’ll have to have some roto-rooter surgery to remove it. But I’m working on it, and making progress.

As I do this, other actions are falling into line. My body isn’t quite sure what’s going on as I flip my food intake from about 80% junk to almost no junk. (Chocolate breakfast bars with 30 g of protein are not junk!). Sleep? Well, it’s happening when I let it — which is a huge leap.

This was written as a PAD prompt for 11-3-14, a BLANKET POEM.

Please, Please, a Do-Over, Please

Slocum Orthopedic Center
snugs around my knee
surrounds my tender parts
with pillars and posts,
people, potions, props

a year ago, Jezebel was new
ready to swallow the world
climb towers, dive deep,
jump and tap her way
to forbidden excesses
denied so long

now she’s here, waiting
waiting to hear how she failed
to push when she needed to,
slog thru the tough times
be real, beyond a mesh
of titanium and plastic parts

If we’re lucky, Jez and I,
this can be a DO OVER
with great success
an unstuckness of scar
holding everything back
where it doesn’t need to be

so, it’s waiting again
hoping this time we’ll do it
RIGHT, fix the flaw
of immobility and fear

grab that elusive ring
the one that lets us dance,
sleep, eat fine
and generally stand up,
accountable, no squirming,
living each moment fully

no excuses, only choices
made with self love
for what’s left of time

Michele Graf