Friday, December 25, 2020

Poetry Friday: Wish I'd Been There

The theme for December's poetry challenge was "Wish I'd been There or a wistful look back at a historic event."  Hmmmmmm. I'm not much of a wistful person. Nor a history-focused student.  I prefer to think ahead, to what's possible, instead of looking at the past. (Although, I DO love historical drama. Maybe it's the clothes.) 

Anyhow, I was stumped on this one until I stumbled across this article from Mental Floss about the Winter Solstice, and learned that several revolutionary events happened on the "shortest day" in 1620, 1898, and 1968.  Add in the fact that Solstice roughly translates to "sun stands still" and I had myself a poem. 

Be well, all.  You still have time. 

The Sun Stands Still

Sounds lonely,

doesn’t it? 

Sol, hovering

as she did

for Pilgrims,

cloaked and anxious,

setting booted foot upon rock.

Sounds ordinary,

doesn’t it?

Sol, loitering

as she did

for Pierre and Marie Curie,

gaping at radium,

opening the atomic age.


Sounds quiet, 

doesn’t it? 

Sol, idling

as she did

for William, Frank, James,

hearts shaking, rumbling

moonward in Apollo 8. 


Don’t hold

your breath, then

when Sol suspends


Be lonely, be ordinary,

be quiet. Sounds poetic,

Doesn’t it?


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

You can find my Poetry Sisters' wistfulness here:






Poetry Friday is hosted today by Irene Latham

Friday, November 27, 2020

Poetry Friday: In gratitude for unfinished work

The task this Poetry Friday was to write a poem in conversation with one of our older poems (or to revise it) in keeping with our overall 2020 theme of hindsight/foresight. 

Well.  MUCH could be said about this year in hindsight. And I have a well of poems I've written (most with my poetry sisters) with which I could converse. But I wanted to go back to December of 2019, when our task was to write a poem of gratitude.  I wrote such a poem, then.  I was happy with it.  But I also found a fragment of a poem from that challenge that I'd never finished (the first stanza below.) 

Why not see where it led? Where does gratitude...even a fragment of gratitude... lead you? 

I am grateful for 

silence, marshmallow rich, 

that grows as I walk, alone;

I can feel the silence expand 

to the sky, to the half-moon,

to the constellations.

I am grateful for

evenings, tender-crisp,

on the edge of shared winter;

I can feel the night collapse

to the marrow of the earth,

to the well of oldest time. 

I am grateful for

hearts, layers-deep

beating apart and together;

I can feel the rhythm move

us to our fingertips, to the end 

of love’s reach.  

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

My poetry sisters' hindsight can be found here:

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Carol's Corner.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Poetry Friday: The Naani

The naani is a poem of four lines and 20-25 syllables, whose subject is often (but not always) the first line.
It was created (according to this post) by "one of India’s foremost poets, Dr. N Gopi."  

Like most of us, I had never written one. Or even read one. So I embraced beginner mind.  No expectations. No comparisons. Nothing but listening to what might arise in the quiet. 

Our theme was fall, or foresight, or both.

Autumn is blaze and decay;
A shuddering blow of the horn;
Split fruit; one tree stark,
One still singing. 

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

My poetry sisters naani are here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by TeacherDance.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Poetry Friday: To an Image of a Hippo, or Ponderous, or Both

September's challenge pounced out of nowhere (where did the rest of the month GO?) so maybe that's why I laughed when I read our task: 

"write a poem using ponderous, or an image of a hippo, in whatever form we wish!"

Ok, I had to think quickly, about ponderous things! What to do? How to frame this? Where even to start? 

Well, that's always the question, no matter how much or how little time I have...right? So I leaned on my never-fail poetry approach: research. It's not something we discuss much when teaching poetic technique, as we focus on rhythm, imagery, word choice, and perhaps form, or even rhyme. But poetry must also be rooted before it can grow, and for me, that means digging into the connections my subject makes with the world. This time, that was two-fold:  the word origin of ponderous (and other pond words)...and hippos, of course. 

Research always saves the day. 


If a poet in a pond

were to ponder,

what ponderous

thoughts to weigh?

That “to pond” is to pool water; 

nothing to do with poundage,

still, arising from pound—

a place to hold livestock— so a water

version of that, to hold ducks, say.

Or carp. Or a poet floating

on her back to see what’s up

there, wondering who, in dialect, turned

pound into pond. So she can now write

about ponding, a hazard of low water 

at the dip of a path, or even make jokes

about pond scum, also called frog-spittle,

and joy! brook-silk….and yet, to ponder

is another thing, entirely: to think, to consider,

to weigh carefully. This she must do. 

Not simply float. Perhaps if she contemplates

the hippo. Now her thoughts bolt from her wet

coils of hair. To be a river-horse! To cry 

questions that carry through both water 

and air. To word-gallop as it can,

startling all, the terror of the mangroves, 

mating underwater, birthing crocodile

killers, not a ponderous bone

in its body of work. What then? 

What might pool in her ears? What might 

she say to her pod, her herd, her dale, 

her bloat? What if this pond weren’t 

all the world she knows? 

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

See what my poetry sisters did with this ponderous challenge here:








Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jone Rush MacCulloch

Friday, August 28, 2020

Poetry Friday: Full Circle

Today marks the end of my husband's service in the Air Force---thirty-nine years to the day he was commissioned.  And, by luck, we're back in the place where our married life began, thirty-six years ago, at Langley Air Force Base.  Today's poetry challenge was to re-visit an old poem, and this one from March 2009 seems most fitting.  

I do, and always will. 

Annus Mirabilis*

how close is

the edge where we gasp 

at the wondrous view

to the place where 

addicted to gravity

we fall, and fall, and fall

the attraction is mutual

the disasters are many,

the wonders placed as knots

on a rope. Hand over hand,

the shape of each day

fitting to our palms,

rough and knobby,

we pull our hearts,

tough as burnt sugar

out of the blackened scrape

we’ve gotten ourselves in;

each year a spin

around the sun, nothing

but a dust trail, an annulus,

a common ring, a promise

for years to come

and years past

and this year,

to make full circles

from disasters and wonders,

to hold each miracle 

as we fall.

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

* Annus Mirabilis:  a year of disasters or miracles. In other words, any year in which love exists. 

My poetry sisters posts can be found here:








Poetry Friday is hosted today by Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe

Friday, June 26, 2020

Poetry Friday: A Susurrus of Heated Talk

For June, we were challenged to write a poem using "susurrus" or to an image of thick woods. I started off writing about how "thick" June's heat is, but thankfully, veered into garden's bounty instead.  I think my mind is on my neighbor's tomatoes...and will be until she delivers one, a perfect rosy gift, to my door. At least, I hope she does. Please, please.

Small talk

In June, we hum in heated talk
of glossy egg-bright
squash and lime green
earbobs of beans, we barter
blackohmyberries, foretell 
first cobcrack of corn, whisper 
endlessly of that soandsomuch
who promises soonwillbe tomatoes,
murmur peachescomingnext,
and on and on, a susurrus
of morethanenough; a promise
to be together into the long days.

                     ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

My fellow poets are whispering and humming here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Karen's Got a Blog. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Poetry Friday: If Digitopolis had a Chapel

May's "hindsight" challenge seemed simple:  pick one of your old poems to revise and/or write a new poem in conversation with it.

Turns out, that wasn't enough guidance for me.  I had glimmers of ideas, but nothing that developed a real shine. (I apparently also caught a case of the extended metaphor.)  In any case, I decided to go back and attempt a Poetry Sisters challenge I missed. There weren't many, but in our ekphrastic (image-inspired) posts, we were often given more than one piece of art or photo to respond to.  Could I write to one I'd passed over the first time?

I could. In January of last year, Tricia shared images from an art show in Richmond, and I wrote an alphabetically themed poem to some cool type fonts.  In the interest of fairness to the Math Kingdom, today I've chosen one of the other images, "Color Equation," and written a numerically themed poem for it. (Pretty sure this idea of two kingdoms has been with me since I read the Phantom Tollbooth as a kid. But the poem decided to go deeper, so I followed it.)  

Oh, and the "square" form of the dizain we tried in May last year seemed perfect to use here so I re-visited that challenge too (ten lines of ten syllables, rhymed ababbccdcd.)

Color Equation 2 
by Janine Wong (American, born 1956), 
2017 monoprint with etching, aquatint,
 chine collĂ© and hand-sewing on paper

All things being equal 

If Digitopolis had a chapel,
math icons—color equations, in fact,
might glow from windows, and squarely dapple
parallel pews with the light they subtract
from stained glass, and add to the unsung acts
of the Apostles of Arithmetic—
who counter division with deeds that quick-
en the dead, and insist, true as the sun:
Peace requires deep math, most poetic:
one life must equal one life, all one.

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

My poetry sisters "throwbacks" can be found here:


SPECIAL INVITATION:  Poetry Friends who have seen our Poetry Princesses/Poetry Sisters/Poetry 7 posts for many years -- After more than a decade of writing together and several years of monthly assignments, we wondered if any of you might like to play along?

Here's what we propose: Once we agree to our poetic prompts and calendar, we'll share them with you and invite you to write and share, too. We'll remind you once a month or so (via our various social media megaphones) and you're welcome to tag us (or not) when you post.

Now, to that end, here's what's cooking for June, posting on the last Friday of the month: theme is susurrus, or an image of thick woods, whatever form we wish! Join us?

Poetry Friday is hosted today by A Year of Reading

Friday, April 24, 2020

Poetry Friday: The Skinny

April's challenge was to re-visit the *Skinny  (a poetic form I skipped last June when the Poetry Sisters first tried it.)  The rules are:

1) eleven lines
2) second, sixth, and tenth lines are identical.
3)  all lines are one word, except the first and last, which may be longer, but must use the same words (rearranging is permitted.)

Our theme was supposed to be Spring, foresight, or looking ahead (since we've been alternating with hindsight, or looking back). At the moment, prophecy seems foolish.  I stuck with the now.  

And then...because I couldn't pass up the chance to tease April,  just a little...I wrote another, more Spring-themed one. I took my inspiration from the fact that my entire family (even the dog, when we had one) celebrate April birthdays...and so do many, many of my poetry friends.  It's kind of an Everything month. 

If you'd like to try a skinny, here's the handy outline Andi supplied for us:


2 *




6 *




10 *


* The Skinny was created by Truth Thomas in the Tony Medina Poetry Workshop at Howard University in 2005.

More skinnys (yes, that's the plural) from my Poetry Sisters:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering

Friday, March 27, 2020

Poetry Friday: A Classic

The theme for March's poetry challenge is: "classic, or to an image we consider classic, whatever form we wish."

Well, now. I wish I hadn't left this assignment to the last second. According to most definitions, "classic" has a time element to it, as in:  "judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind."  Contrary to some book blurbs, then, nothing is truly an "overnight" classic.  We need the strong lens of history, the developed perspective of many generations, and the long, collective sieving through much debris.  Got time for that?

Me neither.  So I glommed onto well....a classic. The sonnet!  No one could argue with that. The form has stood the test of time, and survived endless variations, too. Even now, Patrick Stewart is reading a sonnet a day on Facebook.  But I wondered, even as I made my hasty choice...why did the sonnet survive? What makes it tick? What makes it last?

Turns out, other people have asked the same.  Here's a beautiful essay on "The Sonnet as Silver Marrow Spoon."  As esoteric as that sounds, it's actually a cool "how to" for teachers on stripping the form down to its basics for students to try. The author says a sonnet can simply be a fourteen line story that, around line eight or nine, is "nudged or diverted slightly in its path so that it turns and says something else."

He suggests trying it with an old family story.  I decided to try it with a fairy tale.


Note: I truly would like to try this as instructed, with a family story (the example given in the article is stunning) but for now, that's what I have. My fellow poets have done better.


Poetry Friday is hosted today by The Opposite of Indifference.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Poetry Friday: February Sure Has Changed

(Not Snowmageddon, just a pretty yard, Jan, 2108) 
February's challenge was to re-visit one of our older poems, and view it through the lens of who we are now. Perhaps we'd learned a new form in which the poem would fit better. Perhaps we'd realized the words we'd chosen weren't the best. Or perhaps, we, ourselves, were fuller human beings, with more to put on the page. We could either revise the older poem...or pair it with a new poem. 

The more I thought about this challenge, the more I knew which poem was getting a return visit:  the one I'd written for a 2010 blog post called The Impossibility of February.  In that post, fresh off the blizzard known as "Snowmageddon," I'd given myself the task of composing an "ode to February." And boy, did I do that, addressing the month with a lover's heart, and a bit of wit, too.  

The only trouble was that I wasn't interested in revising that original poem.  I liked it, and it said what I'd had in mind. Moreover, my hindsight (our theme for this challenge!) led me to believe that it wasn't ME who had changed since was February.  

So here I am, talking to impossible February in 2010, followed by my 2020 talk with that bad boy...


Oh, February, oh February 

You make my heart sing, you do,
were it not for blinding blizzards…and the swine-iest of flu.

Oh, February, far too short the days
to count the shades of grayest grays

you send me, year after weary year.
If I were you, I'd watch my back, dear;

such nuanced love cannot last
before I exchange you for something less…overcast.

Oh, February, love is patient, love is kind;
love doesn't leave you disinclined

to climb from underneath the warmest covers
to join the bitterest, iciest, and brutalist of lovers

on the barren street, no less! to watch how much snow
you can blow and blow and blow---some beau

you are. But how can I call it quits
when you bite my cheeks and grab my wrists

kissing color into my frozen face---
Oh, February, let's March on apace!

               ---Sara Lewis Holmes


Oh, February, oh February 

You make my heart sing, you do…
Were it not for days of sixty degrees, and nights of minus two!

Tulips bloom, then crack to ice before they can be kissed;
Lovers sweat, then freeze to death if they dare outdoor trysts.

And what’s with the extra day you want to stuff
Into a month that already has it rough,

What with viruses ravaging the land,
And Astros not apologizing for whacking on a can?

February, I know claimed I was no quitter,
But that was when I thought you merely icy, brutal, bitter—

Now you unleash forest fires, and dump tornados in my lap; 
I wouldn’t swipe right on you, not on any dating app!

So cut it out, February, you heartless fool.
Be true. Be you. Go back to being cool.

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

You can find my Poetry Sisters poems here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Karen Edmisten.  

Friday, January 31, 2020

Poetry Friday: 2020, The Year of Hindsight (and Foresight, too)

2020 is a great year for poetry. (And for hindsight, too, apparently.)

How do I know? Because any year, any day, is a great time for poetry. And also, of course, because the Poetry Sisters have plans---plans to write all twelve months of this year, with the added twist of looking forward and looking back every so often as we create our poems.  

January kicks it off, gently, with a haiku, on the theme of foresight, or the new year, or both.  

I live on a tidal river, so I always feel aware of time, or at least, of the physical movement that accompanies time. So I know that every year turns into the next by the slow work of the tide. And that work can be seen---every day.  So what then, is "new" about each new year? And what does it mean to see "forward" or to have "foresight" about that year? 

I don't know the answer to those questions---or at least not enough to fill a haiku! 

But I do admire the life that lives in and around the tides of the river.  Perhaps foresight is being in the flow of the world, but not dragged under by it.  Like oysters. Like egrets.  Perhaps. 

oyster shells steady
low tide mud; at high, egrets
guard the fey river.  

My sisters greet the new year here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jone, at DeoWriter.