Friday, November 26, 2021

Poetry Friday: An Ode to Making Caramels

Salted Caramels
from America's Test Kitchen's 
"Made From Scratch"

November's challenge was to write an ode to some aspect of Autumn, and to try (emphasis on TRY) to avoid praising only the usual suspects.  I'm not sure if caramel qualifies (at least it's not pumpkin spice) but when I read up on odes, I learned that they not only can praise a person or thing, but also an event.  So, this is my ode to making caramels (and other lovely things.)   Recipe follows. 

Ode to making caramels

I only make caramels
with my daughter, a scientist versed
in the precise ways of heat and time;
an Autumn queen, blistering sugar
to brown gold; regulating—

without mercy— the length of summer’s heat;
quelling with a swirl of wooden spoon 
the angry sputtering; one eye 
on the thermometer, raising the heat again—
false summer, dog days, before

she commands a river of salted cream
to foam the pot; now all is downward 
warmth until she sluices desiccated sunlight
into a leaf-thin parchment sling tucked 
into the waiting pan; later, she will score 

the stiffened caramels into perfect cubes; 
equinox at last. I wrap each one
in tender scraps of waxed brown paper; 
I pinch and twirl and seal. I’m grateful 
to be her sous-chef, her apprentice, 

her lab assistant. She's unaware—
I think—of the miracle she wrought, 
it’s only the removal of water from sugar,
this caramelization; only waiting, 
only creating goodness 

slowly precisely perfectly. And even
as the baby kicks inside her, 
even as we eat, unwrapping 
what I just wrapped, no number
binds the miracles she has yet to do.

                ------Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Salted Caramels
from America's Test Kitchen

My poetry sisters have made some lovely odes to other aspects of Autumn.  Find them all here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Ruth at thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown

Friday, October 29, 2021

Poetry Friday: Word Play Poems

October's challenge was inspired by Nikki Grimes' invitation to create word play poems. And by that, she means:

"studying a word from top to bottom, and inside out, considering every aspect of the word:  What it looks like, sounds like, feels like. What it does, how it's used, etc.  The idea is to bring all of your senses into the act."   

I love word play, so this challenge wasn't intimidating for me.  The only truly hard part was picking a word, because there are so many wonderful ones (just look at this wall from Planet Word!) 


At Planet Word,
a great new museum
 for word play in Washington, DC

In the end, Laura saved me by rolling her metaphor dice during our Zoom writing session and gifting me with three choices. I recommend the same, if you have such dice, or pointing to a page in a book, or having someone else give you words. (Or visit the Planet Word wall!) 

The idea is to look at the word in a deeper way, so beginning with a word you're not overly invested in helps. So does Nikki's instruction to write a full paragraph (or two or three) about the word before you start to compose a poem. If you'd like to see the free-write paragraph about my word, it's posted at the end. And Michelle Barnes has a lovely post about Nikki and word play poems here.  


Memory is
a melodic word,
a murmur of stream word,
waiting to be fished.
Memory is 
a secret door word,
a round hobbit hole word,
a peephole to the past.

Memory is
a tell me mmmmore word,
a long-tailed word, 
ending with a squeal. 

Memory is a loaded word,
a step carefully word,
a word you might have to
make yourself forget.

----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

My fellow poets' word play poems are found here:

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Linda at TeacherDance

My free write paragraph is below. I find it funny that my line lengths grew as I dove deeper into the word.  You can see that I pulled images and lines from my free-write, and then re-ordered and refined them to make a poem. The free-write was done on one afternoon, the poem creation on another. 

Memory is a word
with a long tail. But it starts with a
mmmmmmm  of pleasure…or is that just
the sound you make when you think? 
There’s a more in the middle, as in:
more, tell me more! Meme means the same
or even in  French….meme pas is not even 
la meme chose is one of the few phrases I remember from
high school French.  Three syllables, Mem-or-y…
That “o” is like door in  the word, like a hobbit door,
inviting you to peep through,  to see what you can find.
OR…yes, the word also has Or in it…you can remember me OR
you can forget.  Or is it more like ore….something to  dig for, something of value,
but  something that  needs refining?  We dig for memories, we “treasure” them…
we “value” them.  Memorial service. Remember. Memorandum. Memo.
Memento. Memory is  melodic, a word without harsh sounds….
everything is hushed, soft, almost like fog or soft water bubbling in a stream...
a stream of memories, waiting to be fished.  Mnemonic? Something to help you remember…
How funny there are so many meds/illegal things to help you forget but not many
to help you remember.  If you could remember ONE memory, what would it be? How would it change you? Would it be better to let it swim in the stream, uncaught?  Memories can be sorted by “bad” or “good” but is that just how we label them? Even good memories can be sad, or  remind us of what we don’t have now.  And bad memories are still ones that we survived. That long tail of the “y” is also a long tail of a sound at the end…..eeeeeeeee, going on and on and fading into the quiet,  But…eeeeeee also makes your mouth smile…. or squeal???

Friday, September 24, 2021

Poetry Friday: Tankas in Conversation

September's challenge was nothing much: simply peruse years of my dear poetry sisters' archives and write a tanka in response to one of them. (Tanka = a haiku with two added seven syllable lines. See Kelly's informative posts for a deeper explanation.

Well. That went as well as you'd expect. I flailed in a sea of gorgeous choices. I mired in indecision. I gave up on equity and justice and fairness to all my sisters, and picked two poems.  One because I'd missed commenting on it the first time it was posted (sorry, Liz!) and the other because she wrote of sunrises and birds (thanks, Laura!) and I'd just come from Kiawah Island, where I'd also communed with both. 

First, here is Laura's #poemsketch. I adore her easy way with lines (both drawn and written) and her knack for evocative detail.  

And here is my tanka in  response:

Next, a stunning poem from Liz.  She wrote it in response to our challenge to write about "Ponderous, or based on an image of a hippo; written in any form"---a challenge I LOVED, by the way, but somehow, I failed to comment upon Liz's killer poem when she posted it back in September of last  year. Here's a taste:

Stones in the River

When she was seven
and everyone had
make-believe friends
and make believe families
and make believe long hair,
my sister had hippos,
two make-believe hippos,

    (go read the rest here. You really don't want to miss it.

And my tanka, in conversation: 

What a poet wants

what all of us want:
salt, honey, territory
a push upwards, grace 
seven ways to carve rivers
names for the things that surface

     ----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

My poetry sisters' tanka can be found here:



Mary Lee





Poetry Friday is hosted today by our own Laura Purdie Salas