Tag Archives: poetry

the beech with elephant knees

The Beech With Elephant Knees by Nan Lundeen
The Beech With Elephant Knees by Nan Lundeen

The beech rises

stalwart on the ridge

brooking no challenge,

his smooth gray bark

shining in Fall sun

among yellowing leaves

and as I lean

to watch, a golden leaf

falls, whippling,

barely stirring air

to come to rest gently

on a twigged fork.


On a day

when politics

is too much with us,

I repair to the woods

to admire the beech

with a crook

like an elephant’s knee

in its massive trunk.

each day is a new one

by J.D.

Each day is a new one

Made special by me.

I breathe deeper, dream harder, look closer.

It’s all here right now,

All that I need or want it to



I’ve no time for playing

Earth Mother, Hecate or Crone.

I’ve found out the mystery—

My wise woman’s alive

Every minute inside me.

on the occasion of my 60th birthday (and pending financial poverty)

by j.d.

I practice a hundred frugalities

I eat my toast without jam

I shut off each light I’m not using

I try to live small as I can.

But, music keeps playing inside me

My mind sings a million new tunes

My-self is a universe unfolding

I’m a river that will not be damned

I run into mornings with laughter

Little Goddesses dance on my windowsills.


Perchance a bleak future awaits me

Living does take what it can


Death may be an added adventure

Yet, to living I answer

I am!!!!!

nearing the end of a poem per day

Nesting Canada goose. Photo by Ron DeKett.
Nesting Canada goose. Photo by Ron DeKett.

Poets, how are you faring? We are on day 26 of writing a poem per day for national poetry month. So far, I’m 26 for 26, some of which I’m happy with, and some of which need tweaking. Moo of Writing has been working for me. When I relax and don’t try hard, the words flow. Some days I feel like this nesting mother goose waiting for eggs to hatch. How about you?

Happy writing!


a challenge

This cow has graduated her Moo of Writing course.
This cow has graduated her Moo of Writing course.

Will you join me in a challenge? In my handbook, Moo of Writing, I advocate a belief in abundance. We can all be like Linus in the pumpkin patch, believing with all our heart that a great pumpkin bursting with the seeds of prolific writing will descend upon us, indeed lives within us every day! I am now throwing down a challenge to myself—and I invite you to join me—to enter a contest. We will pick a theme and write one poem a day every day for the month of April for a total of 30 poems in honor of National Poetry Month. The contest is sponsored by localgemspoetrypress.com, and they want $25 from you by March 25 to enter. If you choose not to enter the contest, but want to participate, send me your poems through this website by May 1, and we’ll choose some to publish here. Usually, I spend weeks if not months on a poem, keeping several in the hopper at once, returning to them to reconsider, putting them through critiquing workshops, mulling them over, sleeping on them. In April, I will allow myself no such luxury of time. Winner of the contest receives $300 and Local Gems Press publishes the winner’s chapbook. I’m excited about the challenge. Time to see how well Moo of Writing really works! Moo/Mu!

ice storm

by nan lundeen


dogwood by Ron DeKett
dogwood by Ron DeKett

The weather’s unsettled on Easter Eve

like a restless cow about to calve,

the land licked clean by heady winds.

By early evening

sleet takes the land

collects on branches

slicks old snow

burdens old limbs—


they conjure thunderous cracks

like mindless destruction.

Lights flicker off

a match flares

a kerosene lantern

a smoke-smeared chimney.

The dark kitchen presses

in on Mother, Daddy, and me

huddled in a puddle of light

over eggs, the tang of vinegar

in cups of





One by one

we balance them

on spoons,

lift them into the night.


by Traci Barr


You look at me and see

everything you fear:

every truth,

every lie,

every puddle,

every apple,

every brick in the wall.


I look at you and see

the sample boy

in a wool factory.


And that is the difference

between us.

happy & a little scared

photo by Ron DeKett
Poet Nan Lundeen; photo by Ron DeKett

Taking my work out into the world delights and scares me. You’d think I were 7 instead of 71! (Or maybe a 7-year-old would be braver). I’m happy to return to my homeland, DeWitt, Iowa, for an event at Crossroads Inspired Living & Garden Cafe on Nov. 22—the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We’ve named the event “Poetry of Gratitude.” I’ll read from Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir which is a tribute to my parents, Marian & Louie Bliesmer, and a tribute to the land—Iowa, which helped feed the world when I was growing up in the 1950s & still does. Black Dirt Days celebrates my parent’s forbidden romance, sleigh rides, wiener roasts, feeding cattle, even hauling manure! Most of all it’s about faith no matter what challenges we faced—tornadoes, ill health, the uncertainty of weather for the farmer. I’m looking forward to seeing cousins and old friends. And I’m grateful to Linda Snyder, owner of Crossroads, for welcoming me to her shop & cafe. Here’s what’s on the menu for the luncheon– Harvest Salad consisting of Fresh Spinach, Toasted Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries, Crisp Apples, Roasted Butternut Squash sprinkled w/ Goat Cheese & drizzled w/ Honey Maple Vinaigrette. Turkey Pot Pie with tender pieces of Turkey Breast, Peas, Carrots, Corn & Potatoes in a Creamy Sauce. Topped w/ a Flaky Pie Crust. Caramel-Cranberry Pumpkin Tart. Coffee or Tea. The luncheon (sounds yummy, doesn’t it?) will follow the reading, discussion, and book signing. Click here to read “I Give Thanks,” the key poem for the event. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I Give Thanks

by Nan Lundeen

For wind that wailed,
for cold that bit into bones,
for skies in summer that flickered

heat lightning,

I give thanks.


For fear at bedsides,

for faith that held

us all in sturdy arms

even when we cried,

I give thanks.


For school folks,

for church folks,

for the music of perking coffee

during the last hand of cards,

I give thanks.


For two old elms

creaking outside my bedroom window

leaning toward each other

like old women telling stories,

I give thanks.


For a kitchen swelled by the smell

of baking bread,

for Grandma’s feet treading

the Singer sewing machine,

I give thanks.


For kerosene lanterns

when ice storms rattled the house,

for the wall phone’s melodious ring,

for the angel of mercy

ending suffering at last,

I give thanks.


For the wonder of library books,

for teachers who were kind,

for a dog to keep me company,

for parents who loved me,

I give thanks.


For tornadoes, for hailstorms,

for blizzards and sweltering summer days,

for the sweet rich soil of my youth,

I give thanks.

want to share a spot of shade?

Sandburg goats
Sandburg goats

Lilian Steichen Sandburg was famous in her own right as a breeder of goats. These goats are enjoying a spot of shade under the structure that holds hay in their barnyard at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site at Flat Rock, NC. The site offers visitors not only shade under gorgeous old hemlocks it offers a spot of peace. Lilian, known to Carl as Paula, believed goat milk helped settle her long-time digestive problems. She began breeding goats to improve blood lines and milk production in 1935 when the couple lived in Berrien County Michigan. They were not to move to Flat Rock until 1945 when she was 62 and he was 67 years of age. A social activist, he was a journalist, a poet (Pulitzer winner), a hobo, a world traveler, a biographer (Pulitzer for a history of Lincoln), songwriter, writer of children’s books, and troubadour. Whether or not you love poetry, this home that Lilian and daughter Margaret helped the National Park Service preserve to truly carry the spirit of the “Poet of the People,” is worth a visit. Say hi to the goats for me.

Happy writing!

Nan Lundeen


first kiss – enjoy the audio

Do you remember your first kiss? Mine happened (first time for both of us) in the back seat of a Dodge on an Iowa gravel road while two of his buddies egged him on from the front seat. It was what passed for a wild night in the 1950s. They were driving way too fast, spitting gravel, taking hills up the center of the road, on our way home from a dance class in town. Somebody had taken pity on us country bumpkins or just couldn’t stand to watch us bumbling around in the gym at sock hops and arranged a few classes for us high school freshmen in the basement of a ranch house in Clinton. Poets will write about anything, so when I was writing Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir, this prose poem popped out. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. How about it? Do you remember your first kiss?

Enjoy the audio.

Happy writing!
Nan Lundeen

after reading annie dillard

by J.D.

Put no claim on the holy,

For we are as vulnerable as the field mice

Playing among the tall grasses

Hiding beneath the strawberry vines

For God roars in with the morning,

Spilling the new day’s pain over his shoulder

And all we can do

Is all we have ever done.

Open ourselves to the light

When it comes;

Let light enter us

Until we become the Flame

the Burning Bush