Apr '13 1
I've committed to writing and publishing one poem every day for the month of April. Mike Hopkins and I did it last year and we both agreed that while it was a challenge, it was certainly worth it.

You can read more about National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) here.

The most difficult part of this challenge for me is publishing drafts of poems or incomplete versions of ideas. My internal editor has a hard time allowing these to be seen before I've had a chance to polish them a little.

I've been interested for a couple of years now in applying constraints to writing and the effects of doing so. I have found that when I establish rules - for example choosing a particular form, number of lines, rhyming schemes and even certain ways of generating a poem - other aspects of my creativity have been liberated somehow. The resulting poems are often quite different to others that emerge more 'organically'. I will explore more of this during this poem-a-day project.

For example, I've wanted to write a poem based on the mathematical Fibonacci sequence. Then I discovered that many others were already doing this and that there's a great online jounal called the Fib Review which publishes 'Fib' poems.

In the Fibonacci Sequence, every number is the sum of the two preceding it. So, starting at 1, the sequence is 1+1=2; then in turn 1+2=3; then 2+3=5; then 3+5=8 and so on.

The number of syllables in each line in today's poem follows the Fibonacci sequence. I went as far as 8, then decreased. There's also a point-of-view change/turnaround half-way through. And there's no title.

So here we go: the first of 30 poems in 30 days.

night's and
light's deep folds
lurk our darkest fears,
tasting our sweat, testing our shell.
Shell-blocked, we tease; whetting, we're poised
foretasting moments
when we'll creep
through; hear

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 30
It's day number 30, the last day of writing a poem every day for April, National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).

It was quite a challenge but I'm pleased I hung in there and didn't miss even one day. Thank you for reading and for your comments and support; it was great to get your feedback.

I'll continue to post a 'rescued' poem every Tuesday, and I'll also be posting excerpts from poems I'm working on. And any other random poetry-related news that I may have, of course.

        end of


Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 29

Photo by Zahira. Creative Commons, via Flickr.

Day 29, and we're nearly at the end of this one-month sentence of writing a poem every day.

I was inspired to write today's poem by the prompt and photograph (reproduced above) over at the Tweetspeak Poetry blog.


three, fresh-picked
extended to you,
hands clenched
beneath scarlet undershade
settling with familiar fragrance;
contempt streaks us,
you and I;
needing another name
for you
for me
for us.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 28
We're up to day 28 of 30 days of writing a poem every day.

I used the prompt from the Writers' Digest Poetic Asides blog, which was to start a poem with the phrase 'The trouble is...' and fill in the blank. I chose '...choosing'.

I could have played with 'choosing trouble' but I embarked on a train of thought and arrived somewhere rather sad, unlike Robert Frost and how his choice to follow the road less travelled '...made all the difference' in his poem 'The Road not Taken'.

The trouble is choosing

because if you must choose
and you are not sure
you consider the options
and make a judgement;
when you choose
(even if you are sure)
you will not have chosen
one (or several) alternatives,
and even if you
are content with your choice
a time may come
when you will wonder
and maybe

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 27
Okay, so today is day 27 of 30 days of writing a poem every day. Whew.

Today's piece came about because I was thinking about the colour purple - so many people's favourite colour - and wondering how purple came to be associated with royalty.

Usually only a sentence is devoted to this great yarn.

The story of purple

My trusty hound and I to beach did go
one feast day, time away from household tasks,
wrestling plenty on the whitened sands,

such a jester dog, he loves to lope
always hunting food, the starving brute
throwback to his ancient pedigree.

At our Levantine coast the ocean yields
plethora of trophies for my beast
wolf-like, ever scavenging the shore.

I whistled to him, capering he came
panting, drooling, happy to oblige
and nearly did I buckle with the stink;

he nudged his massive head against my robe
his shellfish binge had fleetingly appeased
his never-ending hunger, as he gazed

at me, a purplish haze spread out across
my tunic, virgin-white no more, but why?
close examination of his jaws

revealed brown hairs discoloured, purple-gashed,
purple teeth protruding from his mouth,
I touched his jaw: my digit, purple-stained.

From whence did come that colour? brilliant hue
never had I seen its like before
during all the expeditions I had made.

He wagged his tail, then led me over to
a stash of rotting whelks behind some rocks,
he munched, the source of purple thus revealed.

I marvelled at these spiny shells, so pale,
how did such colour out of pallor burst?
So vibrant on my tunic, as I gazed

I wondered if that colour could be claimed.
I decided to investigate
this purple colour by cerulean sea.

      ~   ~   ~

Fast forward months and see what has occurred
the precious colour milked or crushed from whelks:
twelve thousand yield a miniscule amount.

This colour by name Tyrian purple known
is worth its weight in silver coins alone
a purple robe my gift to noble King

Phoenix; he was captivated so
that he decreed that he and future kings
would wear this colour, symbol of royal blood.

      ~   ~   ~

From the mouth of Heracles comes this:
a purple dish, a hound, his master's wit.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 26
I'm writing a poem every day in April for National Poetry Writing Month.

I have nothing to say about today's. I'm off now to make myself a cup of tea.

Washing the hog

I schlob to gim the bingly scun
to glom a thringy-dee
you denry on the dingly klun
it's vandik after shree.

        So hupty warr me throsey dill
        so hapty war me slees
        it's clip the ban an sunky swill
        an fawl the glarmy tees.

But och the shoal you cangley wase
nor did a lanti low
for nichty ster you nuchty pase
nor wid me tawnie go.

        So hupty warr me throsey dill
        so hapty war me slees
        it's clip the ban an sunky swill
        an fawl the glarmy tees.

Sumty now when tangley air
a drimpy weelin eye
you an me a glawnin tare
an n'er to drimpin wy.

        So hupty warr me throsey dill
        so hapty war me slees
        it's clip the ban an sunky swill
        an fawl the glarmy tees.

        So hupty warr me throsey dill
        so hapty war me slees
        it's clip the ban an sunky swill
        an fawl the glarmy tees.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 25
Hello, day 25, time for another poem.

I love maps; love reading them, love admiring them. I have a strong spatial sense and I love orienting myself in a new city and country.

I believe that today's poem has potential, but it's in a very early state here. I might develop it after this frantic poem-a-day project has finished. It would definitely benefit from being stashed in the glove box for a while.



There is something about a map:
the contours of a 3D world in 2D;
I hold a planet
in my hand;
I store a country
in my car;
I touch a glowing city on my screen.


Since first we carved world maps on clay in Babylon,
degrees of elevation, latitude and longitude
define borders
describe empires
portray nations;
man the mapmaker
charts oceans and terrain;
keen for a sense of place
we locate our own coordinates
in the topography.


Every day I navigate
Mercator projections
uncertain geographies of heart and mind.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 24
It's day number 24 in this poem-a-day project and I'm surprised again by where my head went with this one.

There was a prompt on the Writers' Digest Poetic Asides blog to write about 'morning'.

What popped into my head (who knows why) was 'Morning has broken', a Christian hymn that was first published in 1931 with lyrics written by English author Eleanor Farjeon. Of course it was a mega hit for Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam in 1972.

Here are the first four lines of 'Morning has broken' - then see what happened with my poem.

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

As usual, today's poem could do with recovering quietly before being finished off.

A wake

I mourn a broken morning
like the very first one
the one that without warning
just broke before I woke


I didn’t hear the blackbird speak
nor did I hear the first one
the blackbird with a yellow beak
whose words remained unheard

on that broken morning
that morning I am mourning

which meant

I couldn’t praise the singing
of the very first bird
on that fateful morning
whose melody eluded me

on that broken morning
that morning I am mourning


I couldn’t praise the morning
that broken, much-mourned morning
like the very first one
with a blackbird singing
whose words remain unheard
so in my ears is ringing

s     i     l     e     n     c     e


I take it on faith.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 23
It's number 23 in this poem-a-day project.

Yesterday I went to the launch of Thread me a button, a poetry collection by my lovely friend Jude Aquilina and Joan Fenney.

That inspired today's poem, which could do with being stashed in a tin along with a musty collection of buttons for a while, but here it is, all shiny.

For the love of buttons

I went to the launch of a book about buttons,
poems in a red-covered book about buttons.
There's more to these simple fasteners
than had ever met my fingers.
I heard poems and stories
about buttons for political campaigns,
about fanciful buttons garnishing Mesdemoiselles,
about locket buttons concealing tiny compasses,
about box buttons smuggling drugs,
about buttons engraved with cryptic messages,
about buttons made from animal parts,
about garlands of charm buttons on silk string,
about buttons for baby booties, wedding dresses, funeral wear;
delicate yet capable
buttons snipped from histories
and wearing a feminine diversity,
unlike the engineer-designed zipper.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 22
Today is day 22.

This afternoon our poetry group discussed the 'American sentence', a poetic form advocated by beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Japan gave us the Haiku, which comprises three lines with a total of 17 syllables. The American sentence has 17 syllables but is not broken into lines.

When I got home I was very sad to hear that Stephen Lawrence, a fine poet and lovely man, had passed away suddenly.

I met him for the first time last September and spent a delightful, funny Friday afternoon having drinks with him and Martina Newhook at the University of Adelaide. I would love to have known him better.

RIP Stephen, and sincere condolences to his family.


Thoughtful poet, gentle man, leaves the room too soon; a draught shivers through.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 21
It's day number 21. We're on the downhill slope towards day number 30 of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).

This afternoon I attended a performance poetry workshop run by Mike Ladd, and of course that triggered today's little offering.

As always, it could probably do with hiding in the 'to be reviewed' drawer for a few months.


Between the capital letter of my morning
and the full stop of my evening
occurred my day,
crafted from a library of truths and yesterdays
shaped by tomorrow's uncertainty
and finally
performed in surprise
like an intimate kiss with a stranger.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 20
It's day number 20 and I must be quite tired because today's poem is rather odd.

I don't know that I'd even call it a poem.

One of my fellow students, Josephine, posted a link to an article about a Ghost Nets exhibition.

I only glanced at the first few lines of it because the title had already taken me away in a completely different direction. I wrote this with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

As always, these productions are fresh from my head to pencil to screen but could do with being put into storage for a while to mature.

Ghost nets

are a serious issue for your average house phantom.
The last thing a busy ghost needs is to be bothered by the living.
Most ghosts are preoccupied with hauntings deadlines,
séance project management and implementation,
running the occasional poltergeist manifestation
and generally going about their supernatural business.
At the annual Ghost Net conference
troubled spectres present overhead transparencies
with graphs that illustrate how ghost net setting is on the increase
as the living tune in to the ghost population,
and propose methodologies for ghost net detection and safe disposal;
discussion panels and workshops are particularly popular.
A Ghost Net Tax was proposed:
this sparked a major protest
and led to Occupy Convents, Occupy Graveyards and Occupy Hotels
(they needed special permits for Occupy Churches).

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 19
Here's my poem for day number 19 in my poem-a-day project for April.

I received Sydney Writers' Centre e-newsletter today and after reading the 'Weird Words' section, this poem prickled its way onto the page.

House of hedgehog

I love it when a word
springs off the page
and startles me,
grabbing my neck
with first and last syllables,
tightening its hold
with middle syllables,
then releasing me,
standing back, cheeky,
to inspect me.
I love it when a word
wants to be welcomed
into the lemon-scented home of my vocabulary,
paraded in front of other residents,
admired, tasted, heard.
I love it when a word
wants to mark its own terrain in my lexicon.
The word that did this to me today?

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 18
Today is day #18 in my poem-a-day extravaganza for April.

Over at Writers Digest (thanks to Mike Hopkins for the link) Robert Lee Brewer is offering a prompt each day for ideas for poems.

One suggestion was to write a 'mixed up' poem. This could be interpreted any way you want.

Here's where I went:

Trading places

If you were gazing at a blank page
while I was licking my bowl clean
what would you write?
If you doubted your own ability
while I dozed on my bed after a long walk
what would you do?
If you felt insecure
while I was gnawing a juicy marrow bone
how would you cope?
If you were wondering what was the point
while I was wagging my tail
what would you conclude?
If you asked yourself whether you could ever trust again,
while I waited for you to feed me,
what would you answer?

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '12 17
Here's another poem as part of my poem-a-day effort for April.

I was inspired to write a Tanka by Mike Hopkins. A Tanka is a Japanese form of five lines structured with five, seven, five, seven and seven syllables respectively.

The subject matter was sparked by Robert's gorgeous photo for today, which you can see over here.


Bug trawling gecko
you stick to the ribbed window
like glue, unmoving;
pale pink skin, legs splayed, feasting
at your local fast food joint.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

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