NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 24


Photo Credit: Zoltan Tasi

I’ve missed a couple of days this month, but life has a way of sneaking up on me. The marking period ended and grades had to be entered and finalized. I’m preparing for all the year end activities—concerts and shows and oh yeah, my baby graduating is graduating eighth grade.


My baby is graduating eight grade.


He’s off to high school next year and new big adventures. Leaving mama in his dust and growing to be such an amazing human.

Now I’ve probably got you thinking I wrote a poem about the Little Wonder. Not yet, but I can promise you one is brewing. That kid is one of a kind. A child I begged God for—one that nearly cost me my life but worth every bit of everything.

Any way I digress…

The prompt for today had us start off by reading Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s “Lockdown Garden.” Then we had to try to write a poem of our own that has multiple numbered sections. The goal was to attempt to have each section be in dialogue with the others, like a song where a different person sings each verse, giving a different point of view. Finally I was to set the poem in a specific place that I used to spend a lot of time in but don’t spend time in anymore.

As always, the poem started with me having an intention of direction, and the poem (wild and untamed beast that it is) went its own way. I’m not sure it met the prompt, but as always, it met me where I needed to be. Enjoy!

Blood Moon 

The water understands;
sound stirring
the light loosens
unraveling fingers
into the dark night.

There is loneliness
in my glass bowl—
hands folded behind,
waiting and wondering
when blue and green
will bring on the birds.

Circles slacken
fan and wrinkle;
four corners unite
under the roll
of lapping waves.

The sky looms
a vessel become void.
How does water
siphoned, fill the fissures
below the surface?

I turn around,
turn toward the ripe
red berry rising;
night has darkened—
only lingering light
haunts me.

—Carla Jeanne

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 20


Photo Credit: Diane Picchiottino

The life of a teacher never ends and report cards are due tomorrow for all 450 ish of my students, so my time has been maxed out today. I always promise myself to transcribe my old school pencil grades into the electronic gradebook earlier than the week grades are due, but alas, I cannot seem to learn my own lesson.

So here I sit, tired, wanting sleep so badly, fighting off a virus on some sort, and desperately wanting to keep up my writing streak for NaPoWriMo. The poem below is one I have written and revised earlier, but it satisfies me to publish it today for you to enjoy.

Today’s prompt was a good one. Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists will make of us? What about what someone from an alien civilization will make of us?

NaPoWriMo today challenged me to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist. The object or site of study could be anything from a “World’s Best Grandpa” coffee mug to a Pizza Hut, from a Pokemon poster to a cellphone.

I chose instead an object from the past with deep significance. It misses the prompt perhaps, but it doesn’t miss my heart.

grandma's table

the magic of the mahogany table, relating
not so much to the nature of the grain, running
like streaking waves of darkness toward the light,
but to the explosion of connection, gathering
strength to weather whatever lay ahead. wondering
if the jagged crack near to the one end, weakened
any hope for repair.
when great grandma sat there
three months before her passing, when she complained of not hearing the words,
should we have known?
when she bowed her head with focused chewing
and wanted her black coffee light with cream,
should we have pulled her back to earth, resisting
the angel of death hovering nearby.
or is death the true wonder of all mysteries, pointing
toward the light, always toward the light, moving?

—Carla Jeanne

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 16


Photo Credit: Giorgia Finazzi

A new day, a new discovery—this seems to be the way that April goes for me.

The daily prompt for today was to write a poem of negation – yes (or maybe, no), the challenge was to write a poem that involves describing something in terms of what it is not, or not like. For example, if I chose a whale as the topic of your poem, I might have lines like “It does not settle down in trees at night, cooing/Nor will it fit in your hand.”

Well, I started the process describing climbing since Ev has recently taken to the sport of rock climbing. It started well and I wrote three nice quatrains that were ok but sort of sing songs and bland. The fourth quatrain turned the whole poem around and began a totally new stream of thought.

So, I abandoned the prompt (once again) and the poem took on a life of its own.

Mountain Climb

I have built a house
on the middle of a mountain;
it is here I discover
my desire for dance.

I love the rhythm of jumping
boulder to boulder; I become
my own secret Argentine tango—
forward, back, cross-step, turn.

Here I learn forward ascent is felt
in the heart, not the feet;
and here that I realize
the summit was never the goal.

The thick branches, sap running dry,
the unexpected violence of shifting stone—
the flesh of the mountain as it
mistakes me for an intruder

reminds me of the drapes of darkness.
But the glow of Venus before dawn
grants me a time to wonder,
what is the light for if not to illuminate?

I have built a house
in which I fear nothing and no one.
It is here where before I begin to die,
I learn to live.

—Carla Jeanne

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 13


Photo Credit: Tony Stoddard

Today’s prompt didn’t spark joy, so I simply wrote. All day long the phrase “I sat for years like an elephant in the garden…” stayed with me as I pondered where the words might take a poem.

Well, read on, my friend, and you will see… the journey is always worth it, even when it is hard and long.

Garden View

I sat for years
like an elephant in the garden waiting to become a feather.

White quilts warmed
on winter afternoons;
windows opened in the spring—

the subtle scent of daisies
wafting on the breeze.
I grew slowly into my skin—

five decades of painstaking
transformation; my narrative
unfurling slowly

as a fern frond
in the first light of dawn—
a singular dance of joy.

—Carla Jeanne

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 12


Photo Credit: Glen Carrie

The prompt for today was from the archives of NaPoWriMo. They challenged me to write a poem that addresses itself or some aspect of its self (i.e., “Dear Poem,” or “what are my quatrains up to?”; “Couplet, come with me . . .”)

I have to agree with the prompt in this regard: It did seem a little “meta” at first, and even kind of cheesy. But it also helped me interrogate my own writing process.

I’d love to hear your poem. Why don’t you give writing poetry a try. This is the month to do it.

Dear Words,

You fail me.

I come expecting,
holding my baited breath
for that shiver of…
shiver of….

shiver of chagrin?
shiver of shimmering shells? I…

Oh, forget it.

I feel forlorn
and frustrated
and fragile,
so very fragile.
Like fine china
fit for fancy
not function.

I need to fucking function.

Instead, I sit here in silence
a simmering-shimmering shell… a sliver of a simmering-shimmering shell
shocked at where she’s settled.

Silently sinking,
the sea salty on her lips,
burning the breath from her lungs.

So Words,

give me some help here.
Grant me some clarity.

The Wordless Wonder

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 9


Photo Credit: Chris Fuller

The prompt for the day is a favorite of my writing twin, but for me it’s always a challenge. Today was called Sonnet Sunday, and the challenge was to write …. Wait for it… a sonnet!

A traditional sonnet is 14 lines long, with each line having ten syllables that are in iambic pentameter (where an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable). Blah blah blah… read between the lines that I’m not feeling in the Shakespeare way today. Still the theme was love and I tried my best, but what you see is what I got.

I chose a more modern version of the sonnet. I chose a curtal sonnet. The curtal sonnet is a form invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and used in three of his poems. It is an eleven-line (or, more accurately, ten-and-a-half-line) sonnet, this the name “curtal”—a curtailed or contracted sonnet.

This type of sonnet refers to a sonnet of 11 lines rhyming abcabc dcbdc or abcabc dbcdc with the last line a tail, or half a line. I’m not sure at all that I did it “right”, but the practice was engaging and valuable as always.

Yes I know…

Some of you are thinking “whatever, Carla”…trust me I feel the same but I press on with the practice because it brings me joy. So… here is my rather interesting take on a love sonnet to a thief. Enjoy!


Perchance one day she’ll catch the old thief
who slipped and stole—tip toe hush hush—the wind that rose
beneath her sails. She’ll jaunt away with jubilee
on a junket of her own motif.
She found not a soul had noticed her wilted woes—
instead the slippery folk strained their necks to see.
Ranting relief brought rancor and rage;
after carefully crafted and curated glee,
she discovered the power of poems and prose.
Freedom fell and she escaped that golden-gilded cage—
she found her sanity.

—Carla Jeanne

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 8


Photo Credit: Mana Nabavian

Well then.

Today’s prompt was a doozy and a good one for Saturday. After running around all day, I wrote in snippets here and there, so if things seem disjointed, you’ll at least understand the reason why.

The prompt was another oldie-but-goodie. It really pushes you to use specific details, and to work on “conducting” the poem as it grows, instead of trying to force the poem to be one thing or another in particular. The prompt is called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. Here is the list of the twenty little projects themselves — the challenge is to use them all in one poem. Whew! And I’m here to tell you it’s not nothing to attempt this particular prompt.

Here are the instructions:

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

Below is my attempt at following this prompt. Enjoy!


Wisdom is a window
that opens a crack
only to shatters into shards—
the sound like bells
calling me to rise.

My hand reaches
to brush away the mess
only to feel the sharp bits pierce my skin. Thinking back,
I realize the beauty of wonder

lived in her smile,
and Virginia was her name
but her singing, oh yes,
her singing! Her singing
was the color of sunshine.

I remember how she looked
like the moon and drank water
from her hands. Every morning she woke with a headache
caused by her flat feet and smize

But her speech,(yes,her speech!)
tasted like spicy honey,
especially when she leaned
out the window and hollered,
“Flaming emmets!”

The sudden shifting of love
caused her to hate them on sight,
but it was her lips that bellowed
bright with the dull ache
felt deep in her gut.

The bird escaped mere moments
before the clouds collapsed
and Miss J made her escape.
Some day, yes some day,
some day she will be free

to follow the fertile flight
of her futile fancy. Until then.
“Sånt är livet när kjolen
är randig”—that’s life
when the skirt is striped.

The window of wisdom
opens with ignorance
while the monkey whispers lies
about how freedom and fear
walk arm in arm.

—Carla Jeanne

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 7


Photo Credit:
Maksym Kaharlytskyi

One full week of NaPoWrMo is already gone, but no worries because we still have three more to go. Yay! I love this month!

The daily prompt for today was to start by reading James Tate’s poem “The List of Famous Hats.” Then I had to write a poem that plays with the idea of a list.

I never know exactly where these prompts will take me, which why I never grow tired of participating in this challenge. Every day is a new writing adventure!

Here’s hoping you don’t get so lost in my list poem that you forget to enjoy your morning coffee! I can tell my brain was definitely heading down a lighter path today.


in darkness
in bliss
in ignorance
in sleep

in silence
in ideas
in thought
in the deep

in reverie
in a book
in the world
in life

in love
in work
in struggle
in strife

without hope
without love
without grace

without purpose
without plan
without peace
without place

my mind
my job

for words—
Oh wait,
I’m not.

—Carla Jeanne

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 6

Photo Credit: Simon Berger

Today’s prompt was to take a look around Poetry International for a poem in a language I don’t know. I chose one far from the realm of any possible understanding—Vietnamese.

After reading the entire poem to myself, I thought about the sound and shape of the words, and the degree to which they reminded me of English words.

This then became the basis for a new poem.

What an engaging exercise this was! Not only did the words have to coordinate on some phonetic level, somehow they also had to make enough sense in English to create a poem.

I chose a work based on part of a poem by the lovely and deep Hanoi-based poet, Nhã Thuyên. First I will share it in the original language followed by my English poem. This is only part of her body of work (two stanzas) as the process of creating a poem like this is quite tedious, and time constraints didn’t allow for me to do more.

(***Read between the lines: I still have to keep my day job so my time is limited.***)

quà tặng
vào những buổi chiều, trong lúc chờ những chuyến tàu đến và đi, chúng tôi thường ngồi đối diện nhau, để không ai nhìn thấy nhau

chúng tôi bày cuộc đời mình ra đó, món đồ chơi của trẻ nhỏ, mỗi kẻ hiểu về người kia theo cách mình thích và tôi, cuối cùng vẫn chẳng biết gì về hắn

quiet time
we hung black cherries, truly lacking nothing, choosing the thick of night to go down along the narrow path,

clinging to the buoyancy of dormant memory. now we counter thorns with those hazy nights that caught in our throats, changing grief to honey.

—Carla Jeanne



Last day of seventh grade.

What a ride it’s been!



So much growth.


The wind picks up
swirling bits of cut grass,
blowing dew-laden petals,
calling out for all things living

to lift their heads
toward the sun.
Listen to the warmth
and growth and new life.

The earth tilts on its axis,
shifting the seasons,
reveling in the dance
of summer solstice.

All is change.
All is cyclical.
All is growth.
All is good.

Even the dying
decomposes into
nutritious soil—
sufficient and alive.

Beauty rising up
like my Phoenix,
my bright and brilliant star,
my rising eighth grader.