May 28, 2017

Happy Haiga Day!

After seeing what I refer to as "the push heard round the world," I dug up this illustrated poem that I hadn't posted before because I had grown tired of posting poems of repugnance and recompense.

The repugnancy, unbelievably, continues to increase, and really, some sort of payback is necessary for all the damage done to our country's reputation. If you saw the video, you couldn't help but note that the featherless peacock looked clueless standing in the crowd of legitimate leaders.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


The Emperor

is not a suit an emperor
can have tailor made.
The nakedness of
his insecurity
results in barely
suppressed giggles.
Giggles lead to guffaws.
And where might
guffaws lead?

May 25, 2017

Poetry Friday--2017 Mass Poetry Festival Review, Part 2

Today's review consists of a writing exercise that was made available to all at the 2017 Mass Poetry Festival, and, some photos.

Many of the festival's events were held at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), and in the atrium area near the cafeteria, something different is featured each year. In the past there has been a typewriter orchestra performance, reading of "bad poetry" contest winning poems, chalk drawing and other crafty ideas. This year, Montserrat College of Art set up a flower vendor's cart with free paper flowers (the stem was a pencil). It was both a writing prompt and a souvenir of the festival.

How clever is this?

The instructions are:
Write a poem that begins: After the rain it all looked different. Make sure your poem contains specific details about the landscape, the glistening, the spring flowers, and perhaps the mood of the speaker.

Here is my poem. You will notice it is all about the mood of the speaker! After avoiding several cars plowing through puddles, I was slightly jaded about the rain. No stinkin' glistening flowers for me! (And maybe I was a little influenced by current events?)


After the rain
it all looked different.
Now the drivers
deliberately drove their
cars through puddles.
Pedestrians splashed
became the goal in a game
that requires minimal
skill but maximum

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Since Salem is such a walkable city, and I did a fair amount of walking, I thought I'd also share a few photos that have nothing to do with the festival, but simply show the city's unexpected delights found between the raindrops.

Glamor shots for wannabe witches.

Shop window display.

My favorite find! Note his shark bicycle helmet!

Don't even think about pouring your stale beer down this street drain!

The PEM is undergoing construction of an addition, so the museum is advertising current and upcoming exhibitions on Jersey barriers in front of the site. The horror movie posters exhibit looks like fun, but if you want to see it, you'd better go in August. When September comes along, Salem turns into tourist-central and parking is at a minimum at least until mid-November.

A little passive aggressive, don't you think?

This photo was taken last year, but I imagine the scene is still the same, although I didn't pass this particular building on my recent visit.

It rained on and off all festival weekend, yet somehow, I managed to miss "Raining Poetry." You'll have to read about it here.

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche will be hosting the Round-Up this week. I believe school is out now for Margaret, I hope she has a great summer! (And you, too!)

May 23, 2017

Haiku Sticky #410

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


drawn into
another cat video
...missing her

May 21, 2017

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


The Cracks

They fear
he will fall
through the cracks
not recognizing
that the cracks
will be what's

May 19, 2017

Poetry Friday--2017 Mass Poetry Festival Review

Two weeks ago I attended the Mass Poetry Festival in Salem, Massachusetts. It's my 7th year attending, if my memory serves well. I make a weekend of it and stay overnight in a B & B even though Salem is less than an hour's drive from home. I really took the opportunity that the rain gave me, to relax and to not be obsessive about packing in as many sessions as possible. Today's post will only hit on a few of the events and activities that I did manage to take in.

The first session I went to had the amusing title, "Doughnuts and Death: A Baker's Dozen of Emily Dickinson's Most Depressing Poems." Actually it was a giant Emily Dickinson gossip session with most of the discussion going to Dickinson's love of Judge Otis Phillips Lord (who was a friend of her father's and two decades older than she).

We were told that the Judge playfully called Emily, "Jumbo." Here's a picture of Judge Lord (it is an engraving from History of Essex County, Massachusetts and obviously is based the photo you can see here.

As for her "most depressing poems," it seems that between the ages of 10 and 25, Emily lived next to a graveyard! No wonder death was addressed in her poetry!

And, speaking of doughnuts, here, Emily has written the recipe for "Kate's Doughnuts."

I definitely have some reading to do on Miss Emily's life!

At a reading by Andrea Cohen and Tom Sleigh I found it fascinating that Tom Sleigh's parents ran a drive-in movie theater. He told us some of what it was like growing up at the drive-in! At times I'm more interested in the poet than the poetry.

I do enjoy humor, and at poetry readings things can get a little angsty, so I made it a point to attend, "Not Without Laughter," a reading from the anthology by the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. The printed program had this to say about the anthology: the work "centered around finding joy, even in the most painful of times." I loved hearing how the women wrote poems in response to each other's poems, too.

Another reading I attended was given by Kazim Ali and Rigoberto Gonzalez. Ali mentioned that he took all his poems and made a text cloud of the most-used words. He next took the text cloud words and put them together to make a new poem. Fascinating!

Each year at the festival there is "The State of Poetry" session held. Here are some tidbits from this year's discussion:
Kazim Ali stressed that his poetry is not political, because "it is my life."

Marie Gauthier said that contemporary poetry is the same as the state of the world, "in complete disarray."

Rigoberto Gonzalez reads poets who went through difficult times to see how they got through. And he thinks that poetry lasts because of the craft.

Elizabeth Powell stated that "we are commodifying each other." And this: "poetry is the Snapchat of literature."

I learned about the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival, which is, "a celebration of the meeting of poetry and the visual arts at the intersection of film--poetry movies!" We viewed many of the short films of the past three years. Interestingly, a poet is not allowed to be filmed doing a "reading" of his/her poem. The films are more like illustrated poems. Here's one:

Make your way over to Whispers from the Ridge where the Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted. See you next week when I'll wrap up my Mass Poetry Festival review.

May 16, 2017

Haiku Sticky #409

After days and days and days of rain and dreariness, the sun is out! So, you'll have to excuse this sappy tanka!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


golden bright
the new green lit
by sunlight
songbirds vocalize
with a spring breeze

May 14, 2017

Happy Haiga Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


day moon

she has overslept
yet again

she wipes the sleep
from her eyes but not
the memory

May 11, 2017

Poetry Friday--Not a Mass Poetry Festival Review

I had all intentions of posting a review of last weekend's Mass Poetry Festival, but I just couldn't get it together for this week. Maybe next week...

For today, I have a woodcut project poem from my ongoing series. The poems use woodcut illustrations found in Chap-Books of the Eighteenth Century. I'm still playing with the cherita form. (Cherita is a mini-poem of three stanzas. The first is one line long and sets a scene. The second and third stanzas are two and three lines and tell a story.)

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


mid-May afternoon

birds in territorial

the newly coupled
unaware there
are birds

Be sure to head over to A Teaching Life where Tara is the Round-Up hostess with the mostess.

May 9, 2017

Haiku Sticky #408

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


not a sparrow
in sight yet every bush

May 7, 2017

Happy Haiga Day!

Very late with this one! The photo was taken today, outside the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA, after attending a session at the Mass Poetry Festival. The poem was also written today!

You know things have gone too far when you question the motives of someone planting orange flowers. I have to learn to disassociate the color orange from one particular political person!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


orange pansies...
the color receives
a reprieve

May 4, 2017

Poetry Friday--Spark Postcard Exchange

The month of April saw another art postcard exchange organized by Amy Souza of SPARK: Art from Writing: Writing from Art. The exchange takes place between the quarterly SPARK challenges. (The next SPARK challenge will take place in May, I encourage you to participate!) For April I wrote two senryu (haiku format, but about human nature rather than Nature), and two cherita (a story told in three stanzas of 1, 2, 3 lines), and illustrated them digitally. In the past I decided upon a theme. In January, my theme was "tea," for October 2016, I used "October," last July, I used "endless summer heat." This time, I couldn't find a theme, so I wrote four unrelated poems. Three ended up closely related afterall!


April thoughts

they arrange to meet
in the park...

an antihistamine,
then his fancy can resume
its turning


he buys flowers
...she does not mention
it's the wrong day


morning sun

a spider's web
dripping with dew

only for a moment
does he hesitate
to brush it away


shasta daisy--
Fibonacci gets me to
"he loves me"

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I'm heading out to the Mass Poetry Festival in Salem, MA. I'll be three days immersed in poetry! If I manage to take legible notes, perhaps I'll do a festival review next Friday.

I may not be able to reply to comments left here until I return on Sunday. Jama's Alphabet Soup is hosting the first Round-Up in May, stop by, and then have a great weekend!

May 2, 2017

Haiku Sticky #407

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


lilacs nearly ready...
their fragrance too heady
to last too long

April 30, 2017

Happy Haiga Day!

I attended a very small People's Climate March in NH yesterday. I was surprised at how few people ages 16-30 participated. Not that I blame them for preferring to play outdoors in the warm sunny weather, however, it is their future that is at stake! Perhaps they all went to D. C. or to Boston? (Check out for photos from the bigger marches around the country.)

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. CO2 chart courtesy NASA.


The Climate Show, April 2017

The absence of young actors
does not go unnoticed.
Their day spent enjoying
the glorious spring weather,
old hands must play the role.

In the end, the old will miss
performing the final act.
Not having rehearsed, will
the young see the point
in rewriting the ending?

April 27, 2017

Poetry Friday--"The Question"

The Question

Before the development of a scientific method,
before there were books and libraries,
there was the question, "Why?"

To answer the question the elders made up
stories, and retold them, so that when a child
asked a particular "Why?" They had answers.

Hummingbird punched holes in the night sky.

Tien Mu flashed her mirrors while
her husband, Lei Shen, beat a drum.

God rubbed a lion's head 'til it sneezed two cats.

Today, for much that is in our world,
and in the worlds beyond our ken,
the question still remains, "Why?"

So, the answer we give is another
question, "Do you want us to tell a tale,
or, do you want us to seek the truth?

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.
I attended the March for Science held at the Boston Common on April 22. The weather was miserable--cold and rainy--but the enthusiasm was contagious. I marched with a small group of public, university, school, and specialized librarians from our gathering spot at the Boston Public Library to the Common. When we arrived, thousands of people were gathered in support of science. Here are just a few of the photos I took that day:

Visit JoAnn at Teaching Authors for the Round-Up of poetry posts from around the blogosphere.

Click here for an article on the kids who attended Boston's march. I don't think the crowd estimate of 1,000 is right, but who am I to dispute The Boston Globe? If you look at the overhead view of the Common, seen here, it looks to be more than 1,000.

Let me close with my no-frills sign. It was approximately 8 1/2 X 11." Why so small? So I could hold it comfortably, so I could carry it on the subway without hitting anyone in the face, and, it was the only piece of plain cardboard I could find in the house!

I found three Thoreau quotes that I could have used. The other two are:

          "What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"

          "In wildness is the preservation of the world."

April 25, 2017

Haiku Sticky #406

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


she mentions thin mints
...I am immediately
eight years old

April 24, 2017

Ekphrastic Mondays, 2017--#4

This is the fourth and final Monday during National Poetry Month. This year I've been writing poems inspired by the paintings of Nicolas Tarkhoff. Today's painting is "Landscape with Fields under the Sun" (circa 1907).

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


Cher M. Critique

Why do you say the colors
in my work are unnatural?

Where do you think my
paints come from?

Flowers, minerals, vinegar,
insects, eggshells, vulgar
bodily wastes, oils--all have
been found in artists' palettes.

I have merely added my
thoughts, emotions, and,
dreams to the mix.
What is unnatural in that?

Gros bisous,

A few words about the poem. I don't speak French, however, I do know that the closing to the letter, "gros bisous," is something used in a closing to a casual email--sort of like signing "hugs & kisses." Tarkhoff would never have closed a letter in such a way. However, I do think he was sassy enough to have done so! A not-so-subtle "eff-you" to the critics.

He signed his work "Nic. Tarkhoff," an abbreviation of Nicolas, and so I had him signing "Nic." I don't know if Nic was also his preferred nickname amongst family and friends.

I did a little online research on what was used to pigment paints back before large companies mass-produced them through the magic of chemistry. Way, way, back, urine was used to achieve certain yellows! Other, rather off-putting, ingredients were used in producing colors. Not that I think Tarkhoff's paints were produced with all these ingredients, but, circa 1907, who knows? (Research for another time? Unless you know and would like to tell me in the comments.)

I hope you've enjoyed the four ekphrastic poems this month. If ekphrasis appeals to you, you really should check out Irene Latham's monumental ekphrastic, poem-a-day project ARTSPEAK!: Portraits.

April 23, 2017

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


all the dogs
with noses in the air
first spring day

April 20, 2017

Poetry Friday--Saint George

The feast of Saint George is celebrated on April 23, this coming Sunday. (April 23, 303 is the reported date of his death.) Saint George, is the patron saint of England, Portugal, Romania, and several other countries, and the story of his slaying the dragon has been told and retold over the centuries. Saint George and the Dragon: A Golden Legend adapted by Margaret Hodges from Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, is a modern children's classic. It was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1985.

My poem for today references the sainted man, but is not directly related to his story. It was really written as a woodcut project poem.

So as not to distract you by the vocabulary, let me explain that borborymus is a stomach/intestinal noise (plural = borborygmi). A great word, isn't it? (I believe I originally was introduced to it by Janet B.)

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


A baleful growl at the edge
your consciousness? Or,
simply the borborygmus
of your also-dozing cat?

The air warm, rising,
quivering, with the energy
of a dragon's breath?
Or a fever of your brow?

A swamp crawling with
reptilian creatures hideous
and noisome? Or officious
expressions of power?

We are all of us St. George
daily faced with the task
of curing the imagined and
slaying the borborygmi.

Learn more about Saint George in this book published 110 years ago; click here.

I wrote another Saint George poem two years ago, see it here.

The lovely Tabatha is hosting the Round-Up at The Opposite of Indifference.

April 18, 2017

Haiku Sticky #405

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


first hot day
again having to google
that rain smell

By the way, the term is petrichor. Every year I have to look it up.

April 17, 2017

Ekphrastic Mondays, 2017--#3

Today's painting by Nicolas Tarkhoff is "Cat with Child" (1908).

Cats and children are two of Tarkhoff's favored subjects. I find this painting lends itself to cherita from two points of view.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.



it is a ritual executed
several times a day

lick paw, pass over ears
lick paw, pass over face
lick paw--damn! start again...

black kitty

Mama says, “leave
the kitty alone.”

pretty kitty!
I love you! let me pet
your...ouch! Mama!

April 16, 2017

Happy Haiga Day!

Not really an Easter poem, I just happened to have written it on Easter back in 2010. The color is a bit intense, don't you think?

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.



I found you, Ladybug,
floating dead in the dishwater
your elytra spread open,
your wings water-laden.
It pained me to fish
you out and throw
your remains in the trash.
You were the little
ladybug who had survived
the winter and resurrected
my thoughts of spring
days before anything green.

April 14, 2017

Poetry Friday--Got a Book Group?

I belonged to a library book discussion group a decade or so ago, and for the last ten years I've been on a committee that reads recently published books for adults for possible inclusion in book discussion kits in New Hampshire. (If you're interested in our work, click here.)

A short article online titled, "How To Host A Poetry Book Club, Because It's Time To Make This A Part Of Your Reading," got me thinking about how, with over 170 kits, and hundreds more books read for consideration, we've never read a book of poetry, nor a novel in verse. How is that so?

There are a number of reasons, but the most obvious one is adults are afraid of poetry. The blame, of course, can be placed squarely on high school English classes and the study of poems where the only concern is "analyzing" the poem for meaning and themes. Mention the word "metaphor" and adults wince.

Another reason is that discussion group participants tend to prefer fiction. Despite the plethora of novels in verse for children and young adults, there aren't a whole lot being published for adult audiences. One, from the 1990s is Cora Fry's Pillow Book, which was written by Rosellen Brown, a writer best known as a novelist. I remember reading it and not being bothered at all by its format--poems. It was just like reading a novel.

Another book, this one from the last decade, is Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow. This title has two, too many strikes against it to be embraced by book discussion groups: 1. it's written in poems, and 2. it doesn't have average-book-group appeal. Here's a description from the book's publisher:

An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing as the initiated convince L.A.'s down and out to join their pack. Paying no heed to moons, full or otherwise, they change from human to canine at will--and they're bent on domination at any cost. Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kind-hearted, besotted dogcatcher, and the girl he loves, a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack. Anthony has no idea that she's more than she seems, and she wants to keep it that way. But her efforts to protect her secret lead to murderous results.
Yikes! This would be an impossible sell to a book group that loved Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! For some groups, the slightly quirky Where'd You Go, Bernadette is too out-there!

So, I'd like to know if you've read any recently published (2016 or newer), highly discussable, verse novels written for adults? If so, please write the titles in the comments. Many thanks!

Check out the Round-Up being held at Dori Reads--you'll be glad you did!

April 11, 2017

Haiku Sticky #404

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


their coming delayed
...the crocus gone by

April 10, 2017

Ekphrastic Mondays, 2017--#2

Last week's poem was inspired by a painting that showed none of the details of Nicolas Tarkhoff's works that originally attracted me to him--cats, his family, and the delightful feeling of being at home. Today's picture displays all of it!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. "Madame Tarkhoff, Her Daughter, Pumpkin and Two Cats" by Nicolas Trakhoff, courtesy The Athenaeum.


My Studio

Maybe it isn't recommended
that one make art at home,
but, what more is needed
than the ever-present chaos
of wife and child, cat, kitten,
beetroot, mangelwurzel,
and pumpkin to inspire?

Color, texture, line, shape,
form, value, and space.
Is it not all here? These
elements, long taught in
academies, are here--
here, where I breathe them.
Where I eat and sleep them.

With the addition of love,
how can I not make art?

More works of the artist: