Fair Chaps Beware


Photo Credit: Carla Jeanne

Today’s challenge was to write a poem that reacts both to photography and to words in a language not your own. I had to begin with a photograph, and then find a poem in a language I didn’t know. My mission was to start translating the poem into English, with the idea that the poem was actually “about” my photograph.

I chose a poem in Irish (Gaelic) and used a photo I took at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. First is the poem in its original language, and following is my “translation”.

Faoi Chabáistí is Ríonacha 
By Celia de Fréine

In ionad bláthanna a bhronnadh ar a bhean
agus é i mbun tochmhairc,
d’fhrasaigh Risteard
bronntanais ar a máthair. I dtosach
tháinig na málaí plaisteacha, ansin na saic,
iad lán le glasraí a d'fhás sé féin
a is a athair.
Leasaithe go nádúrtha. Uiscithe faoi scáth
hoíche i rith an triomaigh.
Turnapaí ar aon mhéid le do chloigeann.
Prátaí Rí Éadbhard as ar deineadh
na sceallóga ba shúmhaire. Cabáistí
sách leathan le ceathrairíní a cheilt.
Ní raibh bean Risteaird ag súil le ceathrairíní –
iníon a leanbh sise, í tugtha go mór
do fhrithbhualadh na glúine, ar nós a máthar.


Fair Chaps Beware

Over eons the base
of the bastions
blossomed, ageless
and immune to time

like a resilient band
of brothers. I searched
those majestic rolling plains
atop the pounding sea,

and under my gaze
their angel hair
frolicked in the wind.
Let no man go adventuring,

unless he find the path;
for high and wide
the tumultuous treachery
hidden below the churning sea.

Yes, pounding against
and pounding beneath,
the salacious sea sings
her song. Come, she sings,

lay your head on my chest.
No radiant beams shine
more resiliently than I,
she croons; from here,

I lovingly rise to greet
the moon. So lest you frivolous
and foolish be, go no more
near the edge of the sea.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What your favorite place to visit?

What Did You Whisper to the Wind?

Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash

Today’s prompt was based on this poem by Claire Wahmanholm, which transforms the natural world into an unsettled dream-place. One way it does this is by asking questions – literally. The poem not only contains questions, but ends on a question. 

The challenge was to write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.

The Osprey

Today was the day, rising
early to head to the water.
Was that the grasses waving
good morning as we drove by?

Squinting against the sun shining,
who did I hear whistling
high-pitched and clear through the sky?
What bright sparkling caught my eye?

Whose nest was filled with littered bits —
brilliant twig jewels in morning light?
All at once I saw them coming 
fast and furious diving downward flight

orienting with the wind, floating 
on air, streaking like lightning
hunting by high dive, plucking fish
like cherries from the fresh water.

Head buried underwater, tucking
talons back, gripping their wriggling
prey on upward ascent. Tell me,
what do you whisper to the wind?

--A Draft Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What is your favorite memory in nature?

Poetry in Motion


Photo Credit: #Poetryinmotion prompt

This week the prompt was to do a poem on the theme of EXPLORATION. The prompt came in the form of an attached photo. I included the photo attached to the prompt in this blogpost.

In my own self-driven way, I added a form I have never used. Today’s form is the huitain. The huitain is actually a derivative of the French ballade. In fact, it is a complete 8-line poem composed of one ballade stanza.

Here are the guidelines for the huitain:
* 8-line stanza
* ababbcbc rhyme scheme
* Usually 8 to 10 syllables per line
The Old Compass

Like a friend who’s never wavered,
the old compass felt good in hand
with a weight I’d always favored
when facing a distant wasteland.
I knew my way was firmly planned—-
no worries sprang up in my head
about troubles I would withstand—-
for soon I’d be safe in my bed.

—a draft by Carla Picklo Jordan

Where will your compass take you today?

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 16


Poem inspired by this commissioned work by Irina Charny displayed at Church of the Resurrection; Pleasant Hill, California; 2008

Imagine the world
a steady humming
of irrepressible joy.

Gather the light—
the sparks
of light dancing
in the shards.

Take the holy—
with kindness,
in gentle hands—
and repair souls.

—a draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

NaPoWriMo2021 Day 13


Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO


Today’s prompt was to write a poem in the form of a newspaper article you wish would come out tomorrow.

I’m not sure this was the idea they had in mind, but I wrote a poem from an NPR news report that came out this morning.

Let’s just say it’s my twist on the subject. ☺️

Open Your Eyes

The quake and tsunami
contaminated water,
crippled plants.
next summer, they
will run out of space
for wastewater.

Environmental groups
remain skeptical
of broken promises,
of 20,000 dead or missing,
of empty assurances
of safety.

The danger is real;
oceanic release imminent.
Protestors rally
on uninhabitable land.
The black rockfish
tells the story in its flesh.

Don’t worry,
the diluting effects
of the vast ocean
will neutralize toxins.
Don’t worry,
poison won’t seep

into our shores.
Anyway, tritium only
slightly increases
the risk of cancer—
just a tiny little plop
of poop in your dinner.

Go ahead, eat up!
Enjoy! Who cares
if it poisons someone
else’s fish? I guess
that life and water
don’t matter to everyone.

Some express
deep regret—
so sorry
your life
is threatened
by our greed.

We are so sorry,
but we...
we don’t see
any other way,
we just don’t.

-A Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

NaPoWriMo2021 Day 10

From the Heron Webcam
Blue Heron Spring

I remember the bright sunlight
reflecting off the sand, glinting
on the breakers, and landing
back on the shore. The blue heron

did not even notice me there
standing quietly in the sand.
She flew overhead with a stick
grasped tightly in her beak, and I

imagined her tucking the stick
neatly into her new nest perched
in the treetops. I imagine
her soft blue turquoise colored eggs

resting amid the sticks and down.
The surety of spring after
the bleakness of ash-grey winter
feels like hope ignited with love.

—a draft poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
Check out this cool video of highlights from the Great Blue Heron Cam

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day Two

Photo Credit: https://mymichiganbeach.com/petoskey-harbor-springs

Today’s prompt was to write a poem using Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” as inspiration. So here’s my stab at it. Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow me for more of the same.

Even Now

I dream of immense white sand 
rolled out beside a rocky 
shore, piles of dunes rising like 
mountain castles--like places 
of refuge for the weary. 
Even now,

I see the whitecaps riding 
on the backs of waves when 
their weight grew too burdensome 
to carry, the slow rhythmic 
mesmerizing ebb and flow.
Even now, 

I feel each deafening and 
weighty expectation, my
mind thick with hesitation 
and uncertainty, my heart
knowing what the stars demand.
Even now,

I taste the salty sweetness 
of tortilla chips and wine—
each bite and sip reminding
me of two divergent roads,
yellow wood and deep longings.
Even now,

I know the bittersweet call
of tragedy and regret—
the burden of longing for 
more of life—and the lovely
dance of stars begging a kiss.
Even now,

I wonder what could have been 
had we listened to the sun 
singing brightly somewhere off 
the curve of horizon, to 
the moonless night sky’s bidding. 
Even now, 

when the driftwood still dances 
with rock and sand in a large 
coffee table box kept as 
a ballroom for such affairs, 
I wonder what might have been. 
Even now.

--A Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Don’t forget to let me know what you think in the comments below.

Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Pre-Day One

IMG_3577*Stock Photo

The #NaPoWriMo2021 challenge today was to spend a few minutes looking for an interesting piece of art in the online galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Then after selecting a piece of art, I was challenged to write a poem!

I chose this lovely basket designed by Linda Hancock. It is traditional Ohlone cultural art made in Sycamore Creek, California. The medium is deer grass stems, sedge root, dyed bracken root, and redbud shoots.

The original photo of her artwork is copyright protected, so I am including a link here so you can see it.

Under the Mushroom Tree

I am the beginning
and the end. Born under
a dense canopy of shade
near the sloping riverbanks.

A coastal live oak was my father,
moisture dripping from his long
green beard of lichens, feeding
the ground beneath his fallen leaves.

The earth was my mother–
my rich and bountiful safe place.
Within the peace of their embrace,
I spread my lateral roots.

In the beginning I remained
(adventitious shoots and all)
ardent in my work of tilling
and moving through the soil.

Content to reside safely near
my riparian home, I stretched
and grew, nourished yet hungry
to explore the Far Reaches.

One day the women of patience
gently drew me from my dwelling
and reverently excavated
my tangled, criss-crossed roots.

I was not afraid for I could
hear their song of thanks,
“Shuururu Xuyxuyta”,
sung like the Ohlone ancestors,

blessing my mother, praising
my beauty, and promising
friendship far into the future.
I could see the jackrabbits

and cottontails waving goodbye
as I left my haven, but I did not
feel loss. The keen drive to grow
dimmed as I looked ahead.

I was split and peeled, dried
and dyed with bracken root, woven
together with deer grass stems,
redbud shoots and a grateful heart.

I was happy living simply,
visiting my mother as I carried
her bounties in my newly
woven bowl. But the whisper

of the ancestors helped me
realize my story needed
to be told; my story needed
to be heard. So I agreed to move.

Inside my glass case, far from
my mother and father and far
from the river, I remain.
I am a lesson for future

generations on how to live
in harmony. I am the fruit
of the marriage of my parents—
connected to the past,

formed in the present,
alive on into the future.
I am the beginning
and the end.

–a Draft by Carla Jeanne

I’d love to know what you’re thinking. Please drop a comment below and let me know!

leaving houghton

For Lisa Davis who inspired me…

leaving houghton

fog settled over the water
the bridge nearly invisible
in the early morn, the early morn;
in the early morn.

suddenly the dense cover rose
the glorious beauty shining
in the early morn, the early morn;
in the early morn.

shades of blue, too many to count
all singing the glory of God
in the early morn, the early morn;
in the early morn.

copper mine darkness slowly shifts
warming the toughest miner heart
in the early morn, the early morn;
in the early morn.

crossing the bridge for the last time
i sigh with relief and sadness
in the early morn, the early morn;
in the early morn.

a chapter is closed forever
but a new one has just begun.
the sun rises slowly, slowly;
the sun rises slowly.

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Eleven

#NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Eleven

Today, the challenge was to write a poem in which I closely describe an object or place, and then end with a much more abstract line that doesn’t seemingly have anything to do with that object or place, but which, of course, really does. An abstract, philosophical kind of statement closing out a poem that is otherwise intensely focused on physical, sensory details. 
grand falls at shoal creek

beyond the horizon, the blue sky
swims in a sea of clouds.
i see the signs of an early spring
as the lush green trees stand in the gap between water and sky.
the deep crevices near the bank house shallow pools of mossy water, a large brood of newly hatched fish and an introverted crawfish.
tourists hurry in to take a photo, find a shell or two and get back on the road.
children laugh and splash at edge of the creek as they effortlessly crisscross
the outcroppings of slippery chert.
rushing to the creek below,
the waterfall mists lightly over my face,
and the sound mesmerizes
and comforts at the same time.
as the gentle spring rain begins, i see the new buds bend under the weight of the water.
there is beauty in falling.