sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

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)!

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

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.

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

Some people have a tradition of choosing a word, or a theme, to focus on or represent their new year rather than (or in addition to) traditional resolutions. It’s not something I’ve done in the past, but as the last year drew to a close there was one word that really resonated with me. A word that represents what I want to bring forth in the world, and project from myself.


What does this word mean to me?

Dance is energy, movement, joy. There is rhythm and flow. Words dancing across the page, fingers dancing across the keys. Being fit in body. Not falling stale and still. Not caring what others think. You can dance alone, or with a partner. If you dance with a partner, there must be a connection, and coordination. It doesn’t work if your steps are not aligned. Pick your partners carefully, in love and in business and in life.

How dance relates to my goals:

  • Words dancing across the page, regular writing with the goal of finishing another novel.
  • Poems compiled into a new chapbook, focusing on the theme of dance and music.
  • Collaboration with my fellow Muselings on new projects.
  • Losing weight and drinking more water, doing yoga, to be fit in body, have more energy and grace.
  • Play the piano more frequently.

Do you choose a theme for the year? What are some of your goals, resolutions, or energies for 2015?

Mary Butterfly Signature



Greetings from the Poetic Muselings, and welcome to 2015. We have decided to blog once a week this month, and I have drawn the first


We Muselings met online in October of 2008 when we all signed up for a workshop at the Muse Online Writers Conference.  The four of us were signed up for Magdelena Ball’s Create a Chap Book workshop and Lisa Gentile’s Creative Block Busters. However, due to a power outage, Lisa was unable to connect for the final online chat session, so moderator Michele Graf (see, even then she was our leader), took over, and we all shared how our week had gone. Afterward, a group of us started to meet online and share our poetry. Lifelines, and the Poetic Muselings, came from that.


As to my own, creative beginnings,  I told myself stories as far back as I can remember, stories in my head. Somehow I wasn’t all that oriented in the real world, instead inhabiting the world of my imagination. A blue fairy would appear and comfort me. The back of my closet would open and become the entrance to a new world. The door into the hall would open into someplace new and strange. But it was years before it occurred to me to write anything down.


I started writing poetry early, but never took myself seriously as a poet. When I become involved with my spouse, I started writing some for her. I wrote poems into spiral notebooks which I stored in the attic. When things got tense between us, I wrote angst-filled poems, again in spiral notebooks. A few were published in a small newsletter.


At one point I wrote a poem I wanted to keep, and that’s when I tumbled into my life as a writer. Searching for a place to store my poem online, I found a couple of communities and started to participate. I became a finalist in a poetry contest. A couple of poems were published in a print journal, a few more in an online journal. I found the Muse Online Writers Conference and connected with others. In short, I got hooked.

Early November through December is the time of year I used to spent locked in my own padded cell of emotionsMichele1-1. Soured holiday cheer, reminder of what wasn’t right in my life and the world.

. . . Survivor guilt at not dying when I was twenty; if I had, my father would have been sent home from Viet Nam early. A month in the hospital saved me and destroyed the family, when he died under strange circumstances three days before he was to return home. . . . Less than a year later, more guilt at finding the love of my life, my exact opposite, who’s lived with me and my insecurities for more than 45 years. . . .

Steve Jobs noted our inability to connect dots of experience prospectively. We cannot determine until well after events how they link, what their impact is, and how profoundly our lives change as a result.

“But for . . . ” my illness, and my father’s death, I never would have met my husband.

“But for . . . ” NOT getting a job I wanted, I was able to retire much earlier than would have happened if I’d been selected.

“But for . . .” putting myself in the right place at the right time, I’d never have met Carolyn Howard Johnson, which began my poetry-writing in earnest, and the discovery of the Muse OnLine Writers Conference in 2006.

“But for . . . ” that conference, I would not be writing this post today.

I sit here today, grateful for the people in my life, my personal safety and security, my needs met. As much as I complain  about — and fear — the growing list of health issues I’m battling, I’m grateful to live in a time that provides me with care unheard of even a dozen years ago.

I’m grateful for my confidence that ebbs and flows, how I am learning incrementally to trust myself, test myself. I’m grateful for the clutter that drives me nuts at times — what I can share, what it teaches me.

I’m grateful to live here, in this country, despite all our problems and issues. I feel truly blessed to be able to write what I choose, vote as I choose, and speak — or remain silent if that is my choice.

I live the American Dream:

~daughter of a first-generation girl-child born here of stetl dwellers who left the “Old Country” with nothing, before WWI;

~ able to trace my father’s family’s journey on the Trail of Tears in 1839.

~”But for . . .” the holocaust and horror of WWII, these two souls would never have met at a USO dance in Chicago in 1943. Lost and found each other again. Lost each other for good 25 years later, in the next ripping war in 1968.

~ First of my family to attend college, and later graduate.

~ Connected in recent years to extended family I never really knew earlier.

My first post on our Poetic Muselings blog was just over three years ago. It was my introduction to you, our readers and friends. I’m reissuing it here, today, because it struck me as true, still, and what I’m trying to share.

We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. May you find that spark, that “something” to give you peace of mind, courage when you need it, and lots of joy.


Turning Over Rocks

“Why be difficult
when you can always
be impossible?”

My family’s motto,
when I was growing up.

We lived in clouds,
ephemeral universe,
all or nothing mind-set
badgered us into paralyzing inaction,
circular conundrums,
promises meant to stop questions,
not solve problem

“Don’t answer the phone!” admonitions
when I was home alone, sick,
escaping whatever had me
in its grip that day or week

Blame and shame
games and names
hiding in books read
by shadowed night-light
to tame the monsters
lurking under my bed,
in the closet,
beyond the toys
strewn across the floor
beyond the closed door
to my personal space and mind

Child of parents
whose fractured worlds
never resolved enough to give them
strength to shelter their offspring
the way this one needed

But I was loved
and encouraged to dream big,
reach beyond what was,
by my father
live his words
not the life we had

I gained my own,
tiny shard by shard
years later, loved,
protected, cherished,
with someone who believes in me,
loves me
without needing to understand
more than he does

learn to trust,
push past fears, worries
I’ll never be enough, do enough,
justify my own existence

Learn I have to prove
nothing to the world.
I have the right just to be,
eclectic, whimsical,
inconsistent entity
in love
with my life
as I inch
toward myself

Ⓒ Michele M. Graf



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