My First Poetry Friday

This is my first time taking part in Poetry Friday.  Many thanks to Molly Hogan of Nix the Comfort Zone for hosting this week.  The Poetry Friday hosting list can be found in the sidebar at A Year of Reading.

I have wanted to take part in this activity for a while now, especially since I have begun writing my memoir.  The harder I try to write this specific work of creative nonfiction, the more poetry starts to insist on coming out of my head.  I’m sure the Universe is amused at this.

Here are my two poems.


He walks the halls like
He owns them
These halls, these walls,
These doors, behind which
Tenants cower.
Jangling keys,
Steel-toed boots,
Stride of a mission.
Roof leak on
Rent day.


Five graves on a cedar knoll
Roots twisted around stones,
The writing eroded.

In the surrounding pasture,
The cows, oblivious
To the nameless dead,
Flick futile tails at flies
Clustered to drink
In the pools of their eyes.

The sun shines down,
A light in August,
While life lolls on.


Macro Monday: Vibrant Minimalism

There is a group I follow on Flickr called MACRO MONDAYS.  It is a moderated and theme-based challenge group, with a different theme each week.

Although I am not a member, I enjoy seeing what those who are post each week.  Every so often, I will look around where I’m sitting and see what I can come up with that fits the theme and shoot an image (usually with my iPhone, because it’s handy).

Here is my interpretation of Vibrant Minimalism:

My Life in Five Stanzas

Every month in the Time to Write Community (part of Teach Write), we have a challenge or two to get our creative juices flowing to areas they might not have considered.

The challenge for February is “My Life in Five Sentences,” and since I’m usually trying to pull something together on the last day of the month, I thought I’d take an early stab at it.

Well, everything came to me as images, and as poetry instead of prose.  I wrote it and shared it with my fellow Time-to-Writers, and then debated sharing it here.  It’s pretty personal, and a little bit raw, but hey.  That’s — literally — Life.

My Life in Five Sentences

I was born a half-century ago
In a centuries-old city of
Fog, smokestacks, wharves,
And old brick.

At ten, I was dragged off to
Lower Suburbia, Different Province,
A community of cookie-cutter houses,
No ocean, few friends, 
And too many bullies.

My intuition led me to safe places
In the forms of teachers, 
And books, and libraries, with 
My own words pouring onto the page.

My twenties and thirties meant Home,
Back to my city of bricks and mist,
Marrying my mister, rocking an empty cradle,
And countless days assuming different names
With the front of the class my stage.

My forties were a blur stirred up
By a noon crosswalk and a Ford Focus,
Relearning to walk straight, to think straight,
And a slow regenesis of Self,
With my words being the last to return,
At the age of fifty.


The journey of 1200 kilometres begins with a single step.

Most mornings, my day begins by listening to the local CBC radio station here in Saint John.  I especially enjoy Information Morning, which is a nice mix of news, community information, and music.  I like it because the host, Julia Wright, is serious when she needs to be and not so serious when she doesn’t.  The chemistry between her and Cindy Grant (her on-air partner in crime) makes it feel like I’m having morning coffee with friends.

Well, yesterday morning, there was a segment called “Walk, run, snowshoe around the province virtually.”  My ears perked up.

The short version is that, in an effort to inspire New Brunswickers to be more active, RunNB is hosting the 2021 RunNB Challenge, in which the goal is to (virtually) walk, run, or snowshoe a route around the entire province.  (By Canadian standards, New Brunswick is small.  But by world standards, we’re about the same size as Ireland.)

Well, dear readers, I am not a runner.  Some days I’m not even a walker, depending on what my autoimmune disease is up to.  But I know that if I can move, I should move, because as painful as it is to put one  set of twisted toes after the other, moving will keep things from getting even worse.  I know this, but I will not exercise for the sake of exercise.  I would rather perform my own root canal.  But if you dangle a goal in front of me, well, then …

2021 RunNB Challenge Medal

There is a medal for completing the challenge!

So 5:30 this morning found me sitting on the floor next to my dusty treadmill, sawing open a bottle of belt lubricant and hoping the Internet manual I’d found was the same model as my machine.  I’d woken up at 4:30 AM, excited to register for the challenge as soon as my pay hit my bank account (I know! I don’t know who I am right now either!), and I was ready.

I find nothing motivates me quite like accountability, and I figured “Go big, or go home.”  So yesterday, when I decided to do this, I tweeted to Julia Wright/Information Morning, Duran Duran, and the rest of the world that I was going to commit to the challenge.  That way I couldn’t back out.  (Let down Simon LeBon?  No way.)

Tweet Screen Capture

I’m not sure who groaned more — me or the treadmill — when I climbed aboard, but I had my phone in my pocket, my headphones on, and I was going to do it come hell or high water.  After crunching the numbers, I realized that if I averaged 4 km a day, I’d finish it with room to spare come December 31.

Given that I’m not exactly an athlete (I’ve walked two 5Ks, but many days my Fitbit doesn’t register quadruple digits of steps), I figured I would start small this first week, and see how it felt.  Whatever I managed today, I’d do for a few days, then add 0.5 km, do that for a few days, and so on, until I got up to 4 km per day.

After about what seemed like six hours on the treadmill (but was more like 12 minutes), I heard Cindy read my tweet on the radio!  Moments later, I felt a rush of energy flood through me as Duran Duran began singing (Reach Up for the) Sunrise in my ears.  My radio friends were cheering me on!  I could do this!  I would not die!  Not today!

As the song ended, and I could hear “You go, girl!” coming across the radio, I glanced down at the time and distance.  I had managed more than I thought I could.

Okay, folks.  Watch this space.  I am in it to win it!

This post was also shared on Two Writing TeachersSlice of Life Challenge for January 26, 2021.




A silly little poem.

My Giraffe Just Left for the Zoo

My giraffe just left for the zoo,
After asking, "Do you want to come too?"
But alas, I declined;
No bus fare could I find,
Among the "under couch cushions" goo.

The giraffe was meeting a goat,
Who was going to the zoo by boat.
He'd planned to take the bus,
But the driver kicked up a fuss:
"You don't ride the bus with no coat."

Together they paid at the gate.
(The goat asked to pay the kid's rate.)
The giraffe paid full price,
And bought a lemonade ice,
Declaring it well worth the wait.

The visitors were much varied in age,
With helium balloons all the rage.
"I think I'd like one,"
Said the goat, but before done,
He and Giraffe found themselves in a cage.

So I headed to the zoo to post bail.
(My giraffe had to eat from a pail!)
And the goat begged me too,
"Get me out of this zoo!"
So I did, rather than listen to him wail.

They were hungry, so home to dinner we'd go.
The goat rolled his eyes -- "I don't like ham, though!"
"Next week," mused the giraffe,
With a wink and a laugh,
"I think we should go to Lambeau."

Karen J. McLean