Infant Openings

Open arms. Open up!
Little airplane will fly
right in! Open sky.
Open heart,
tiny vessel, already broken:
filling a slot
open for infants.

Sam Edge has the Real Toads playing with language in the style of e.e. cummings. Not that this tiny poem fits that tall order, but here it is.


Dancing Down Bay Road

Sun sings low red
at the horizon, you string
twinkly lites around
a grand piano on your front lawn.
I don’t know you, but have
forgotten how to dance.
May I join?

For my own occasional music prompt to the Real Toads: Working On That


When Blue

This life begets Blue.
Conscientious objection
is all you can do.


Once In A Blood Moon

Cloud curtains parting
for a glimpse of starry night,
wondrous indigo.


Not Much Of A Jump-Rope Rhyme

brings what it brings.
May follows, just after
you’ve given up hope of ever

Mama Zen has the Real Toads writing short poems about the cruelest month.


What Happened At The Oxbow

Resisting Spring,
wishing dark clouds
would continue
blocking out the Sun
that tries to warm my hurts.
Why? I ask. I would prefer
to stay right here
under this blanket of clouds.
Crocus replies,
you are looking down.
Lift your face to the Sun,
notice the Eagle soaring high,
inviting you to fly
for another Spring.


Sunday Morning

Nothing gets through.

Not the window open
to the first sunny air
after an aggressive winter.

Not the memory of last night’s
lovemaking, nor the jolt
of a navel orange,
happy news from a friend,
children’s peals, coffee, poetry,
the Velvet Underground.

That My Little Pony episode
is stressing you out. Shouldn’t
you be working on something?

Guess that got through.

This needs work (shouldn’t I be working on something?!) but I’m posting anyway to participate in Kenia’s Sunday prompt to the Real Toads.



Shit gets challenging,
but my looking-glass
is half full
because in it, I see you
reflecting back at me.

Grace has the Real Toads reflecting on mirrors.


Even Concrete Evolves In Time

Armed with Rustoleum & grandiose aliases
in case of arrest, we branded the sidewalks
with our anti-violent, violent message,
wheat-pasted sins & leafleted long after
bull-headed & well-intentioned arguments
turned to mildly-amused barely noticed,
disavowing all each morning, like a hangover
that just needs to be powered through.

These days, I wake to birdcall followed
by children’s questioning of everything,
including What Mama Did When She Was Younger,
& in sharing glimpses of days gone, hope
they’re able to ride that current of Hope.
I spin their messages into a river of words,
in up to my neck, yesterday’s sidewalks soaked
& glistening with the power of every single one.

Susie challenged the Real Toads to write a street poem.


WWWGD (What Would Word Girl Do?)

Sharing words
takes nerve.
There’s a learning curve
It won’t solve
today’s problems--
not gonna solve 'em.
Or could we?

April is National Poetry Month! We are offering inventive and creative prompts every day, all month long in the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. Come and join us in challenging yourself! Write one poem or thirty, share them or write clandestinely under cover of darkness. The only requirement is to write.

Mama Zen kicked off April with a challenge to surprise her on April Fool’s Day, in 37 words or less. My poem uses just 22.

I’ve been less prolific of late, with many less-than-poetic things distracting me, of necessity. Don’t know that I’ll write 30 or even try. I guess we’ll find out.


Yard Work

Pardon me
while I step out for a moment;
I need some fresh air
for my Grievances.
Got this spot out back
where I confront Dark Things,
propping them in a corner
facing the stockade fence
wearing their Dunce caps.
I guard my Complaints,
patrolling before them,
brandishing my spade,
ensuring their compliance
with the terms of their Banishment.

A friend wrote to tell me how much he enjoyed this poem in my book SUPERPOWERS or: More Poems About Flying. He referred to it as "a perfect (barely) Spring poem," so I thought it might be a good time to share it here again. C’mon, sister Spring, you can do it!



There are Monday mornings
following every escape,
shadows behind turned backs,
whispers behind closed doors.

There are footprints leading
away from joyous occasions,
fogs lifting from melting ice,
ragged blooms in mud season.

There are memories wound tight
in skeins of regret.
There are things we kept
secret after all.

Kerry asked the Real Toads to complete and use in a poem this line: "There are things we kept secret after..."


That's Why They Call It Perennial

raggedy primrose
sporting only three
yellow petals
pokes through amber ice
near the drainspout,
like a chime
from another Time’s steeple,
a reminder
of all that’s passed,
and that Spring arrives at last.

Margaret has the Real Toads interpreting flowers today.


Jung Would Have A Field Day With This

Finding meaning
in a dissociated dream,
searching for the right track
at the train station
with a girlfriend,
dressed up like tarts:
garters, stockings, no underwear.
A dream-sargeant finds you
before you board the train
and subjects your tender girlfriend
to a cavity search
for unidentified evidence.
You have no inkling
what this might be about,
but you are ashamed anyway.
The dream-sargeant turns to you,
that you are excused this time,
but her finger’s on the trigger,
hammer cocked.
Best to get dressed
and wipe off that mascara
before the consequences are amplified.

Hedgewitch challenged the Real Toads with a word list derived from Carl Jung’s Man & His Symbols, including: meaning, dissociated, tender, inkling, trigger, and amplified.


Weak Pulse

my heart's absolving
& all of its patterings
beyond scrutiny


Walking On a Wire

If you want me
to walk
to the edge,

I will trade you
my words
for your nerve.

All I got for you
is what I wish,
and that
is quite a lot.

(A snippet from my first book, Responsive Pleading.)


Wing Clipping

She was in shock when she awoke,
Her dreams suggesting bigger things,
For while asleep, she’d flying wings.

At first she thought it was a joke.
This cannot be, her conscience said
Until the truth filled her with dread

And fear embraced her like a cloak.
Afraid to speak or breathe or move,
Imagined all that she could lose--

Her heart’s percussion overtook
And paralyzed with shaking ease,
Cut her, quivering, to her knees,

Berating her. She never spoke.
In silenced moments, never sweet
She’s languishing, cowered and beat.

Kerry has the Real Toads trying out a new (to me, anyway) poetry form: CONSTANZA


Practice Limited To Horses

Today, idling
at a traffic light
I notice the sign again:
Practice Limited To Horses.

As though it’s 1977,
I watch from the window
as the guy in the plaid
and chaps
strides up to the colt
tethered in the side yard,
embraces his hind quarters
(contrary to what I know
about never approaching
a horse from behind),
man-handles his colt cock
(seeming to whack
at something down there
with what looks like
my mother’s garden clippers)
and chucks something
over the bank into the crick.

That was the day
the colt became a gelding.
Today, I remember
the benefits
of staying calm
and on my best behavior.

Kerry asked the Real Toads to incorporate a flashback into a poem. Whinny!


Conneaut Lake Park

WOW. My friend Ron Mattocks has a terrific article about Conneaut Lake Park in West PA Magazine. My copy just arrived, and it's so wonderful! For any of my friends who have fond memories of Conneaut Lake Park in northwest Pennsylvania, you really must check this great story out. Great historical photos too.

I grew up in Conneautville, the next town over from Conneaut Lake. I spent many a summer day at the Park or at its adjacent beach, and worked there for one (very) memorable summer, making the famous French Fries, no less. My prom was at the Hotel Conneaut, and my grandmother chaired the local Jazz Society, which held concerts at the Hotel. 

Sadly, Conneaut Lake Park has experienced a series of fires in recent years which have left it in bad shape, so much so that the apocalypse-themed movie The Road (from the Cormac McCarthy novel) was filmed there. Yet, as Ron says so well in his article, "From its inception, Conneaut Lake Park's resilience has always been fueled by the love and cherished memories of people who, to this day, refuse to let the park's summer lights fade into dusk." Hear, hear! I think the Park will rise again.

Ron is working on a young-adult historical fiction series set at Conneaut Lake Park that I can't wait to read. You can follow his adventures in researching for his books on Facebook at The Briggs Brothers Detectives.

I'm thrilled, too, that Ron included a snippet of one of my poems in this great article. (You can see the excerpt in the photo above.) Whoosh! All of the above is really worth checking out, friends. You're welcome.



I learned
in a work workshop
that I am an Extraverted Intuitive,
easily triggered
by violation of Values and Principles
as well as physical exhaustion.
Apparently I’m prone to obsessing
about Injustice,
and to withdrawal, and to depression.
Isn’t it just so unjust,
not to mention depressing,
that I never get enough Sleep?
I’d like to Extrovert-Intuit-Type that.

Mama Zen asked the Real Toads to write about insomnia.