Featuring cherita!

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 350.org 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:

April 9, 2017

Happy Haiga Day!

Feeling more comfortable writing cherita. This one was easy to illustrate.

Click on the image to enlarge. © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


between projects

a lazy cat uninterested
in me

me uninterested
in an over-ripe cantalope
waiting to be cut

April 7, 2017

Poetry Friday--Try Something New

Photo courtesy DCPL Commons.

I recently came upon mention of someone writing cherita. I had never heard of a cherita and so, I went looking to learn more. (Cherita is pronounced CHAIR-rita, it is both singular and plural, and, it put me in mind of cherries, thus the photo.)

It turns out that a cherita is an unrhymed, untitled, poem that tells a story in 3 verses. Verse 1 is one line, verse 2 is two lines, verse 3 is three lines. Click here for more on the form and examples. The best way to learn about any form is to read examples.

I figured I'd give the cherita a try. I realize I will have to do a lot more reading before I feel confident I've got it right, but this is a start:

first spring day

with the window open
the sound of helicopters

her keyboard clicks
in counterpoint

project winds down

three days for review
then off it goes

not nearly enough
carbs in the cupboard
to see me through

face still flushed

a resumé book disappears
from the library

she earns 79 cents
to HIS dollar--
they share an office

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Has anyone else tried writing cherita? How did it go?

Irene at Live Your Poem is our Round-Up hostess this week!

April 5, 2017

NPM 2017 Progressive Poem

This is the place for day five of the NPM 2017 Progressive Poem. We're off to a great start with these four lines: (Supplied by Heidi, Tabatha, Dori, and Michelle.)

I'm fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges, sometimes, need sandpaper...

We all have permission to take a breath. Sometimes there's too much frazzle in the dazzle. Kat's up next. Will she sizzle or will she dawdle? No matter which way she takes the poem, it's sure to be fun! Twenty-five days from now we may have gone to infinity and beyond, and back again.

Here's who our peripatetic poem will be visiting during the month of April:

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling HERE!
6 Kat at Kat's Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at blog-a- penny-and- her-jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There's No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

April 4, 2017

Haiku Sticky #403

My boots got a lot of use this year. I hope the April 1 snow storm will be the last.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

April 3, 2017

Ekphrastic Mondays, 2017--#1

Today is the first of four National Poetry Month ekphrastic poems inspired by the art of Nicolas Tarkhoff (1871-1930). Tarkhoff was a Russian artist who spent the second half of his life in France. Surprisingly I didn't find an entry for Tarkhoff in the English language version of Wikipedia. I found a bit at the Association Les Amis de Nicolas Tarkhoff. But, I have resorted to using my poetic license and have imagined a life for the painter based on his art.

I first discovered his work when doing a search on The Athenaeum website looking for pictures of cats. I found that Tarkhoff painted many pictures of his wife and children, cats, and pumpkins. Of the 128 of his works on The Athenaeum site, very few are dark in feeling. His love of family is clearing evident and the fact that he obviously liked cats makes him an artist worth exploring! The pumpkins were a unexpected surprise. (Find a haiku sequence I wrote based on his 1909 painting "Cats by the Window," here.)

Today's picture doesn't include his family, cats, or pumpkins, but is a tribute to one of the features of his adopted city, Paris. I found two pictures on The Athenaeum site. I don't know if one is simply a mistakenly labeled duplicate or if one is an actual physical copy of a previous painting. In any case the one I used is labeled "Chimera of the Notre Dame" (1902). The other is labeled "Gargoyle of Notre-Dame" (1901, also known as Gargoyle of Notre-Dame Portruding [sic] above the Seine). Both are listed as being held by the Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva, which doesn't seem to have a website!

I imagine Tarkoff may have sold his Paris paintings to tourists. I also imagine climbing to the roof of Notre Dame, with art supplies, if only a pencil and sketch pad, would not have been undertaken lightly! (That's probably projecting since I have a healthy fear of heights.) I'm sure Tarkhoff would have preferred painting pictures to please himself, but a man in those days had to make a living for himself and his family.

Click on the image to enlarge. © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. The background photograph circa 1890-1900.


Gargoyles and Chimeras

We are the fantastic
monsters and men
who are relegated
to role of protector.

Not by choice do we
climb to the heights.
Not by choice do we
swallow our fears.

Our inner fortitude
is only as strong as
our God-given talent,
but love sustains us.

The photo of Notre Dame doesn't give the kind of perilous view I think a gargoyle painter would have been faced with. This one below, circa 1860, gives a view closer to one I imagine.

Photo by Charles Marville. (One of my all-time favorite photographs, by the way.)

The following video gives an idea of the range of Tarkhoff's work. I'll post part 2 next Monday.

April 2, 2017

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Original line drawing from Knick Knacks by Herbert Leonard Coggins, illustrated by Clare Victor Dwiggins (1906)


April 1
our fool no longer