Sunday, July 31, 2016

poetry class at a residence in phoenixville, chester county.

for the second get-together of my traveling poetry class in july, we met at the home of new student evelyn frederick who kindly let us enjoy our language tossing and bouncing moments just a few footfalls away from her kitchen. she lives in the phoenixville area of chester county.

evelyn writes mostly memoirs, and we loved hearing a piece which she wrote about taking scissors to her infant sister's hair away from the supervision of her parents when she lived out her early childhood years. we talked about ways to adapt the memoir into prose poetry, which is largely what the writing behaves as in the first place.

thank you to sam traten and barbara tucker for assisting with photography during class.

we also read through some of the recent community poetry one picture at a time poems, including a firefly prose poem by joe swider. and barbara brought a recent draft of writing about there being no cure for the common cold.

we plan to meet at evelyn's home for the next class but hope to venture back to the schuylkill river for another class once heatwave days drift out of sight. onward with poems.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

a childhood memory poem by joyce alexander.

this poem below is from joyce alexander who took my chester county night school class called the pull of poems

in exploring childhood memory poems, she wrote this piece about her father, reflecting on many decades ago and what her life in early days shaped as in farm-speak.


By Joyce Alexander

The Heights where we lived was a farm of sorts
with a cottage on the hill
My Dad—he had a garden
he would work the damp cool soil
when beads of sweat streamed down his back
I would catch them with my hand
A willow tree by the front porch was my self-made swing
And of course I fell more often than not
Oh but what fun that was for me
We had chickens a cow and rabbits in a pen
Our goose he drowned in his watering tub
His feet were up his beak was down
Now Chubby our chow he guarded me
No unknowns came in our yard
We walked and walked the woods near by
He guided me home when I lost my way
But with a bite on his back that would not heal
My Dad—you know—he fixed everything
A bullet to his head was his way
My Dad—he came from that world—
Too many kittens—you drown them
The dog gets sick—you shoot him
As I grew in age we moved away
But I often remember those long ago days

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"that moon song" by gregory alan isakov-- a good way to get revved up for writing moon poems of your own.

tuesday night (july 19, 2016) is the full moon for the month of july. in line with that, i recently discovered south african-born, philadelphia-raised musician gregory alan isakov from a subaru car commercial with his song "time will tell," and that led to me stumbling across another song of his which is a sort of ode to the glowing sky-gem of night. 

"that moon song" by this musician has a few lines of lyrics which are heartstring-pulling to say the least and quite parallel with thinking about moon poems.

here are some of the most moon-ish lyrics from this song by isakov.


and ahh, that full bellied moon, she's a-shinin' on me
yeah she pulls on this heart like she pulls on the sea

and you came on strong like some running wave
and your beauty left me broke and hungry
left me begging to the birds for a bone or an offering

left me saying nothin'; nothin', like i always say


consider using these words and ideas to help you conjure your own moon poems tonight, tomorrow, and in the next few upcoming nights or anytime you stop and really slow down to notice the moon above, far into the future.

Friday, July 15, 2016

an invitation for poems about fireflies.

since these critters don't stay around for too long in summertime, i wanted to bring them to the forefront of poetry when they're relevant in the air of night sky.

this is an invitation to write your own poem about fireflies. please email your submissions to with your name, title of your poem, and the state where you live. i'll share the submitted poetry as i receive it and will also update it to the facebook page in each instance.

here is one of my own poems, to start this fun little endeavor of mid-july.


firefly song
by jennifer hetrick

green night glitter,
pulsing quick streams
of that neon color

through mid-summer
sky, the trailing route
of the firefly as it

lets its wings rise up
to catch air's energy
when black paints

what’s above us
until dawn stirs
the horizon. we

hear your lyrics
as you move, watch
the grace of your

life flicker and dim,
brighten and quiet,
give soul to ours.

[ newly submitted poetry, hurrah. ]

Poem By Evelyn Frederick of Pennsylvania

The summer air is filled with little flickering lights. 
It's the end of my beautiful day. 

The tiny, delicate insects brighten my way home. They are my silent notice, my evening curfew. 

The magnificent, ephemeral fireflies dance in the moonlit sky

As I watch from my bedroom window and say Good Night, my friends. 


Millennial Nightlife 
By Sam Traten of Pennsylvania

Do you sing with your light,
do it at night, because it
feels right to be seen when
you've no voice to be heard?

It's you boys who fly, flashing
high, while young ladies, flightless,
wait and semaphore below for
attention, wanting a mate or

to deceive males of another species
who she'll proceed to eat. It's a
roll of the die in the nighttime sky
if you're a guy on fire and on the fly.

Your drama is entertainment for us,
loafing in lawn chairs, chatting in
our own version of flashing, with wit and
filled with the joy of watching your show.


By Babara Tucker of Pennsylvania

Some believe that all things excepting my kind
Are one with God, have been created as they should be
Perfect and unique, giving glory to God simply by being
Their forms, their unique character make them Holy

Precisely what He wants them to be

Illuminating the night, Holy firefly, I am in awe of your
The beauty and warmth of your perfect body, reminding me
Of what might be for me and my kind if it were truly wanted

* in praise of Thomas Merton


By Evelyn Aurand of Pennsylvania

Empty jar
Dots of light
Fireflies flit
Spark the night.
Remove the lid
To set them free
To pierce dark with
flight symmetry.


Firefly (a prose poem)
By Joe Swider of Pennsylvania

Now that I'm getting on in years, I have thoughts of times past and the wonders of life as seen only through a child's eyes. Running through fields and trying to catch these little stars that must have fallen from heaven. So many so beautiful and so full of mystery. I can close my eyes and still see them, Thousands of them. I really didn't think stars could fly, but they can. The wonder stays with me to this day. Even now, I see them, and one day soon, they will come for me and take me into their world of flying stars and love. I still see my flying miracles through my child's eyes and feel them with my child's soul and heart. Some poems you read, and others you see flying through the night.


By Ginny McNamara of Pennsylvania

I lie on my back
Cocooned in my sleeping bag.
No light in the campground

Quiet, like the
Darkness, is absolute.
Cradled in nothingness,
Sleep is sound.

Until something comes to wake me.

No noise comes before.
No dream disturbs.
Without consulting me,
My eyes pop open

To see a light, or sprite, hovering overhead,

Reaching through the
Nylon ceiling with
Bursts of radiance
That douse the darkness.

Heart races, mind searches—
Can an angel be this small? 
Has an Alien come to call?
I don’t dare move.

But then I must, because I sense a second light.

Propped on one elbow
I twist my torso to see
This one pulse in harmony,
echoing the first.

Asking.  Answering.  Consenting.  Dancing.

Until the two lights join
Together, taking their leave,
Flying to a future
Beyond my view.

Darkness returns,
Except in my heart, now
Glowing with every beat.
Like a firefly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

poetry class at the schuylkill river in pottstown, montgomery county-- & a collaborative river poem.

the first day of july marked a nice first for my traveling poetry class. we met at the schuylkill river in pottstown, montgomery county. although it only ended up being me and student sam traten who were able to attend, but we had a swimmingly good time talking about river language and this nice hidden away sort of freshwater beach which we discovered thanks to hunting not so near more obvious and populated spots. we're excited to bring others to this same place for future classes, as it's hard to only want to go to a location like this just once. and the river is good inspiration, again and again, for writing.

we read creative nonfiction from flow: the life and times of philadelphia's schuylkill river by beth kephart. it's very richly poetic, despite not being categorized directly as poetry, and sometimes when we're looking for writing to spark our own ideas, that's a plus.

below are scenes from our river-minutes, followed by a collaborative river poem which we put together from our original notes and reflections by this water known in its under-meaning as hidden river, its translation from explorers who came from holland in the 1600s, as noted by patrick mckinney of the schuylkill county conservation district in this 2014 article from when our river won river of the year in the state of pennsylvania. 


river writing, early july 2016
Play-Do's Dialogs

Collaborative Poem By Jennifer Hetrick & Sam Traten

Jen: Would you like to do some river writing?
Sam: Shore. Sure.

J. magic on the water, one
acrobatic fish glitters briefly
above the schuylkill's surface.

S. Yes, I saw that skipping, tumbling spinner.
Something wanted it for dinner.

J. smelling that vacation
smell, out of place.

S. Like driving toward the seashore
and getting that first hint of bay-ocean taste.

J. sound-collecting.

S. Stop thinking long enough to hear
the murmur and movement of river road—
cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles,
traffic intersecting. People conveyed
to other places. Bodies intersecting.

J. a rainbow of brown,
tan, shale red, &
seashell-colored sand
bits. driftwood built
into the history of old
waves tucked around
with this pottstown sand.

S. It's our own hometown river's beach,
under-appreciated 'cause close, too easy to reach.

J. dragonflies flittering,
chasing each other over
humbly-inched water, the river
pushing itself along toward
industrial highway.

S. I live downriver. It's coming my way.

J. a child yips an almost-scream
of half-joy, a small percentage
of terror, although maybe not.
the poet only knows from her
own mind, takes in & interprets
what she can from the exterior,
from others. a young man's voice
in the distance, a conversation
with some less noticed friend there
as he walks along the road above.
(it leads to the coventry mall,
near an ice cream parlor, farm
fields, & an abandoned movie
theater.) in a quick glimpse
then gone, a red backpack hangs
from his small shoulders.

S. Under his straps, a puppy heart smolders.

J. a blur of bird songs, of chirps
to be questioned. perhaps the bird
songs are only clips, not finished.
tractor trailers on route 100, route
422, belt out their heavy noise
on some recently paved surfaces,
                   some old ones.

S. The birds sing to nestlings,
the truck drivers to sons. These
winged ones have their own engines
cranked up and compete for river's top
singer-songwriter, like top big rig hauler.
No one wins, everyone wins, especially
you. and. me. The birds and truck drivers
win a little bit, though, some days.

J. maple leaves shake & wave flippantly
above this little shore, white light shining
in tiny bursts through their green patches
where wind or bugs bit them open. a stick-
bodied dragonfly, its head the blue of peacock
feathers, pauses near more driftwood close
to the river's lowest water. this river reverberates
from the influences it takes in, from industry,
people, moving traffic, the rocks it's been
getting to know & saying new goodbyes
to for years, all fresh adieus each time.

S. If you have the first word,
the last one is mine.

J. no, sam, the river always has the final
word. our blood forgets this. it reverberates.
riverberates. ribbits. frog tongues click. well,
you can have the last river-word after all:

S. Enjoy, won't you,
internal combustion.

Friday, July 1, 2016

plains coreopsis haiku-- an invitation for more poems about this flower&brick scene.

this plains coreopsis with its garnet-dipped center found its way growing toward sunlight in a planter near my porch steps since joining the soil from a box of wildflower seeds last year. it is one of my favorites from the batch.

community poetry one picture 
at a time -- a new concept

i am inviting the community to write their own poems (haiku or any kind of poem) stemming from the visuals of this picture. please feel free to share the news of this nice hey, everybody invite to others or send anything you feel in your writing-bones. i will update this blog post with new content as i receive any submissions from this audience on the interwebs. and i hope to launch these community poetry project efforts monthly but may use some leeway with that depending on what is in-season for photographing at certain times of year. and there's some time sensitivity with the next subject, which is still a surprise yet !

send your poems to, and be sure to include your poem's title, if it has one, as well as your name as you'd like it to appear in the crediting.

people who write poetry often, haven't written it in years, or never wrote it at all in the past-- are encouraged to submit a poem.

below are some initial poems which were submitted behind the scenes as starter content. thank you very much to everyone who offered poems and to those who will be sending freshly written ones soon.

edit: newly submitted poems are at the bottom. scroll down to eye-peruse new poetry.

Haiku By Ryan Marie Rettew of Pennsylvania

Well, tiny flower
your mother was unprepared.
Yellow shock of light.


Life’s Simile
By Maryann Neblock of Pennsylvania

        Is life not reflected in this photograph?
                this dichotomy of:
                hard and soft
                vivid and dull
A tender, fragile living thing amongst the sturdy, brick façade

Stand up! and grow where you can and flourish when you can
For, in the winter of our lives, we may cease to grow
If only to return anew in a dormant seed
                                                                    of hope


By Yury Tulchinsky of New York
(haiku-love, again)

It blooms, full of life
gentle breeze in the summer
Plains Coreopsis


Pointing by Thumb
By Sam Traten of Pennsylvania

The package shouted Wildflower Mix.
I've always been one to pick the brown
paper grab bag, contents unknown, at charity
benefit booths. This box was like that,
contents unknown.

Careful to plant carelessly, no rows or patterns,
strewn in loosely stirred soil near the brick wall
at my home's side; tamped, watered, and
with a satisfied eyegleam almost wink,
I turn and walk away.

At first, I check frequently, daily (even hourly)
for signs of growth, always expecting magic,
then remembering magic appears, magically, when backs
are turned and other pressing chores are attended.

Now this little sunburst out of nowhere appears.
What is it?
Here's the real fun of a grab bag. Identify!
God made Google just for this.

Plains Coreopsis. You wild treasure, you.


Poem By Sydney Hetrick of New Jersey

Hello you wildflower,
your existence is a pleasure and quite rare indeed,
there was always a chance you would not grow,
but you did.
do you even know how wild you are, wildflower?
do you value the sun, the air, the water, the dirt?
and even if you only live for a season,
it shall be a lovely season for those passing by who watch you bloom. 

Thank you for existing, wildflower.

[ newly submitted poetry, hurrah. ]

Poem by Toby Smrekar of New Zealand

we trained together
until we grew
tall and lean
sparring in the summer sunshine
with our fists full of dreams
of dancing butterflies
and venomous bees. but in the night
he lost the fight
to what he could not see
and now i stand alone, above
for all eternity.


Bold and Beautiful
By Jane Stahl of Pennsylvania

Bold little beauty! I remember the kind of confidence you radiate today.

Look at you: standing tall and straight! 

And all by yourself, just bursting with pride, self-confidence, and energy. 

And how clever of you to choose to bloom in that particular spot!

The stony wall behind you—a solid and enduring structure, certainly—contrasts profoundly with your special mission—brightening the world around you in this very moment.

And at this moment, who can refrain from smiling at those in-your-face vibrant gold petals of yours?

But I suspect you’re not just a pretty face. The rich, dark center color of your petals suggests a depth of wisdom available to those young buds behind you waiting their turn to open and bloom.

I salute you, “plains coreopsis” and thank the glory of the Universe that put you in my path today. 

Today my own energy wanes. My confidence falters. 

I’ve packed away the hopes and dreams of sunnier youth. Worries and concerns crowd my consciousness along with the certainty that sunshine fades as summer’s days grow shorter. 

But for this moment, I will borrow your bright energy and reflect on the Spirit that informs it, for it endures forever. 


Sarah, A poem about a flower  (a prose poem)
By Joe Swider of Pennsylvania

Ordinarily, one would think of a flower any flower as something soft, delicate, and beautiful but that is not always the case. It was as if the Gods opened the gates of heaven and allowed this wonderful flower to grace, if for a brief moment, my world with her presence. Though not beautiful in any classical sense, the beauty projected by her presence was of the type that must be seen with the soul and not the eyes. This adventure of the heart took place many years ago, and my flower still remains inside of me, getting more and more attractive as my time passes. When this flower is thought of, it brings to mind water cascading down the side of a mountain or the calm after a storm, beautiful in its own way but not exactly delicate. I think this tribute to Sarah is so very long overdue, and like the flower, is meant to be shared with the other flowers in my existence.

Here's to you Sarah, wherever you may be. You nurtured things inside of me that have endured the test and trials of my time.


Poem by Barbara Tucker of Pennsylvania

Waking up, spreading out arms, 
tilting yellow-haloed face 
to the sun and waiting for my 
morning kiss. I am Coreopsis!


Coreopsis Haiku 
By Virginia Rathman of Pennsylvania

Oh coreopsis 
Was running with the wild ones
Received this dark eye


Coreopsis Haiku 'Heaven and Earth' 
By Ginny McNamara of Pennsylvania

The fearless flower,
held secure by Earth below,
reaches for the Sky.


A Touch of Heaven
By Patricia Petrowicz of Pennsylvania

A break in the sidewalk reveals a precious gift.
A delicate, colorful flower so skillfully and beautifully designed.
Who created this stunning marvel?
For what purpose?
Why here? Why now?

Will anyone stop to discover and ponder
The exceptional care and love that fashioned it?
Perhaps a freckle-faced child strolling aimlessly down the sidewalk
Or an old woman stooped over from a lifetime of toil
Will pause, examine, and appreciate the intricate handiwork.

Alas, many are far too busy.
Too distracted.
Too self-absorbed
To notice the gift and wonder about the giver.

Daily the creator provides touches of His glory as free gifts
Sometimes in the most unusual places or unlikely people.
Hints of his existence and creativity scattered throughout the universe.
Compelling little bits of evidence of a rich, delightful, now hidden afterlife

For all who choose to believe.


Wall Flowers
Kristen English of Pennsylvania 

Hey, don't forget us!
Stoic soldiers, straight we stand.
Wall flowers, we bricks.