Day 30 Final day of poem-a-day challenge!

And, for our very last day of the 30 poems in 30 days challenge, we are asked to write a special poetic form called the cento.  As Maureen explains, “This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems.”  So, that’s what I did! Below is my version of a cento with lines from Elizabeth Barret Browning, Christina Rossetti, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, & Emily Dickinson. I selected all women poets writing about love.

poet manipulated image

I loved you first

First time he kissed me, he but only kissed

The fingers of this hand wherewith I write.

I loved you first: but afterwards your love

Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song.

I love your lips when they’re wet with wine

And red with a wild desire;

Somewhere or other there must surely be

The face not seen, the voice not heard.

Wild nights – Wild nights!

Were I with thee.

Day 29 poem-a-day challenge’s prompt for the penultimate day: “In certain versions of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty, various fairies or witches are invited to a princess’s christening, and bring her gifts. One fairy/witch, however, is not invited, and in revenge for the insult, lays a curse on the princess. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth . . . as well as a ‘curse’ you’ve lived with (your grandmother’s insistence on giving you a new and completely creepy porcelain doll for every birthday, a bad singing voice, etc.). I hope you find this to be an inspiring avenue for poetic and self-exploration.”  My poem begins with the scent of marigolds as I plant my garden.

Photo credit:

Gifts at Birth

Pungent marigold scent rises from the roots I untangle,

transports me to my mother’s garden—a blessing

I was born with, or so it seems, a love of nature,

flowers, and fingers in the dark, dank dirt.

Going back to the day of birth, I was born under the

sun sign of Capricorn and inherited the climbing

nature of a goat, the goat with a fish tail, also

took me to watery parts of the land—larger bodies

of water from the Great Lakes to the sea, and spent

childhood afternoons by a mint-filled

brook in the meadow or a clear lake in the woods.

Other gifts: a thick bunch of black, frizzy hair

and an insatiable curiosity, a need to be in the

center of things, since before I was vocal!

I climbed from the crib and toddled into the

living room with grown ups—a blessing—

love of the night!

Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter also in the sign of

Capricorn the night I was born, so I’m bound to

butt my way through obstacles and climb!

Rooted in the earth, a blessing and a curse—

I wish sometimes I could be like fire and flare up

or air and dragonfly-like flit from here to there—

enough water from my fishtailed goat to

keep me floating and all of this I was given

at birth. The need to climb the mountain,

step by step, is a blessing the fates gave me.

Sometimes when I’m tired like day twenty-nine of

the poem a day challenge, I ask myself, couldn’t

I have been born an air sign and flitted

on to the next thing?

                        Jacquelyn Markham 4/29/2022

Day 28 poem-a-day challenge

Concrete Poem, a venture into visual poetics! So much fun!

And here we are with two days to go! Try your hand at this prompt:  “Today’s (optional) prompt is to write a concrete poem. Like acrostic poems, concrete poems are a favorite for grade-school writing assignments, so this may not be your first time at the concrete-poem rodeo. In brief, a concrete poem is one in which the lines are shaped in a way that mimics the topic of the poem.”

I spent most of my poetry time researching the concrete poetry movements and some of the poets who loved the technique as it evolved over the decades. Really enjoyed learning about Mary Ellen Solt (1920-2007)—she was a scholar and a poet of the form. Her concrete flowers landed all over the world, for example, Forsythia, the image I included here.

Concrete poem by Mary Ellen Solt, Forsythia

Below you will find my effort at a concrete poem. I included it as an image because I knew it would shift if I tried to use text. I have to say, using a typewriter was easier than a computer when writing concrete poems!

Jacquelyn Markham (4/28/2022)

Day 27 Poem-a-day challenge

Very late, dear readers, as today was a day when many people bothered the earth spirit who was trying to write a story here! For this reason, my poem developed from this beautiful quote from Joy Harjo. I included it as an epigraph to this poem in a duplex in form, title “Don’t Bother Her.”

Our prompt for Day 27 from “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “duplex.” A “duplex” is a variation on the sonnet, developed by the poet Jericho Brown. Here’s one of his first “Duplex” poems, and here is a duplex written by the poet I.S. Jones. Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first.”

Image credit:

Don’t Bother Her

“Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story.”

Joy Harjo (How We Became Human)

Don’t bother her; she is working.

Her story comes alive with spirits.

Spirits of the story begin to talk & laugh.

They cry so much earth spirit is nearly drowned.

Tears of the spirits almost drown her.

Do you see them dancing in a circle?

The circle dance tells stories once lost.

She is writing them down now.

Pages and pages, she writes now.

The dark boy & the dark girl laugh ’til they cry.

In this story, the girl & boy laugh with tears.

The earth spirit writes it all down.

So many stories of the circle dance to write down.

Don’t bother her; she is working.

Jacquelyn Markham 4/27/2022

Day 25 Poem-a-day challenge

My inner muse is a bit difficult today! Perhaps I have overworked her. I am posting late in the day because my first effort came out more like a prayer to the earth than a conversation with a dream or vision that represents the land nearby, but here’s my second effort. This poetic form is new to me (pronounced ashling).

And here’s the prompt from!

“Today’s (optional) prompt is based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live. Perhaps she will be the Madonna of the Traffic Lights, or the Mysterious Spirit of Bus Stops. Or maybe you will be addressed by the Lost Lady of the Stony Coves. Whatever form your dream-visitor takes, happy writing!”

Tidal marsh, photo by poet.

Mother of the Marshes: Aisling

Rising from the mist above the

muddy marshes, a female presence

forms from nothingness & my dreams.

She speaks: “I am the mother of the marshes.”

She is dark like the earth & smells

like the sea.  She’s the spirit of the river &

flows with the tides. I am in awe, so don’t

speak back, but she doesn’t mind. She has

things to say. “You know,” she says, “that

my spartina grasses bind my muddy soil,

to protect all you humans from the stormy seas.

Being a buffer is just fine, but more importantly,

I am a shelter for these lovely terns on their

long migration. Ducks & cormorants love to

stay with me and nest.” Although I know

all that is true, I also know that the marshes

can suck you in like quicksand. “Never fear,”

she says, (Can she read my mind?)

“Stay away from my pluffmud at low tide & I will

soothe your soul with my shimmering

waters by moonlight or sunlight.” She recedes

into the rising mist & I breathe in the

salty air & let her clear away my woes.

Jacquelyn Markham (4/25/2022)

Day 24 Poem-a-day challenge

Greetings poetry lovers,

Today is the last Sunday of our challenge! Soon it will all be a memory! Thanks for traveling with me. I feel sad about so many animals that are pushed out and misunderstood in our over populated world. The Armadillo is one. This poem is a blend of an animal poem from a 2019 challenge and today’s prompt that asks me to write a poem describing something with similes. The Armadillo is a little understood and sometimes hated animal, so I hope this poem changes some folks ideas about them. How about this Pink Fairy?

Pink Fairy Armadillo: photo credit


traveling the countryside

like a knight in armor

wearing its great hardscape

like royalty

the nine-banded armadillos

wear a heavy coat

while the pink fairy

armadillo cavorts with

Thumbelina in an underground

dance like a whirlwind of fairy dust

while its three-banded cousin

rolls up in a tight ball

of defense

like a hardball

in a game with Babe Ruth

until left alone


pig-snouted diggers

Armadillos turn a garden

topsy-turvy following the scent

of a delicacy of worms

Jacquelyn Markham (4/24/22)

Day 23 poem-a-day challenge

Hello faithful readers,

The site and Maureen have not let us down, now on day 23! She says: “Today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in the style of Kay Ryan, whose poems tend to be short and snappy – with a lot of rhyme and soundplay. They also have a deceptive simplicity about them, like proverbs or aphorisms. Once you’ve read a few, you’ll see what I mean.” This prompt seemed daunting at first, but immersing myself in the work of Kay Ryan, I began to feel her rhythm. For this poem, “As Though it Mattered,” I adopted the structure of her poem, “The Best of It,” an incredible poem, and also the title of one of her collections. Here’s her poem from Poetry Magazine:

As Though it Mattered

However we mourn

our lost love, we

go on taking each

breath to keep our

bodies alive. As though

by pouring memories

into a basin of salt, we

could smooth them like

seashells in the surf

as though every red GTO

from 1964 we see is the one

we remember, as though

it mattered.

            Jacquelyn Markham (4/23/2022)

Day 22 Poem-a-day challenge

Kudos to all the poets out there, hanging in on the 22nd day and Earth Day at that! Also, thanks to the poetry appreciators for reading, commenting, and liking the work!

So, here we go: “And now for our prompt (optional, as always). In honor of today’s being the 22nd day of Na/GloPoWriMo 2022, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that uses repetition. You can repeat a sound, a word, a phrase, or an image, or any combination of things” (compliments of, also known Na/GloPoWriMo.)

California poppies & bluebells

Yellow & Blue

California poppies flutter yellow on the hill,

wave like golden sun in sky blue.

Ukraine’s flag, yellow & blue,

billows in the saffron sun,

floats in sapphire sky,

tatters in the fire & smoke.

California poppies flutter free,

a yellow flag of nature in blue sky.

Lemons, yellow on the tree, in the bowl,

in lemonade, a glass of sunshine

on a cerulean day. Cadmium yellow

lemon in a bowl, a blue vase of poppies

doused in yellow light.

Candle—yellow—cobalt votive

vigil for Ukraine. California

poppies flutter free.

            Jacquelyn Markham (4/22/2022)

Ukraine flag, stock photo

photo credit:,mp176989/

Day 19 Poem-a-day challenge

Prompt: Today’s challenge is to write a poem that starts with a command (

The command I am starting with for this effort is one I heard from my mother at a very young age:  “Act Your Age, young lady!”

Maybe before or after that first kiss . . .

The First Kiss

“Act your age, young lady” my mother said

to me one night when I had secretly kissed

my first crush under a tree, sitting on the curb

in the dark like a couple of love birds gone to roost.

Not only my first crush, my first kiss! Two kids

stuck together at the lips like a kissing bobble.

Not breathing, just kissing, not knowing how,

but feeling the passion of a first kiss.

“Act Your Age,” she might say to me again but

this time for a different reason. So, I wonder

to this day what it means to “act your age?”

Jacquelyn Markham 4/19/2022

Days 18 & 16 poem-a-day challenge

I created an even greater challenge to writing a curtal sonnet (suggested by Maureen at by also making it a war sonnet. It is still a draft, but I’m satisfied with it enough to post it here with my poem-a-day challenge poems. Because it has so absorbed my time, I am combining days 16 & 18 with this effort.

For those who don’t know, a curtal sonnet is a variation on the classic 14-line sonnet. The curtal sonnet form was developed by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and he used it for what is probably his most famous poem, “Pied Beauty.” A curtal sonnet has eleven lines, instead of the usual fourteen, and the last line is shorter than the ten that precede it.

The media image is the famous poster by Kathe Kollwitz “Never War Again.”


Famous poster by Käthe Kollwitz: Never War Again! (lithograph, 1924)

Never War Again

War no more: cruel, it murders, and destroys.

There is no good from war that bombs the child,

so why do those with power rule by force?

No more: war crushes every breath and joy.

Gone are cheese and bread that make lives worthwhile.

A mother’s words silenced without remorse.

And yet, I take biscuits from the oven.

As gentle rain turns grass and rosebush green,  

delights a cardinal red and vines grown wild.  

Inside my tiger cat sleeps fed and loved.

Never war again.   

            Jacquelyn Markham (4/18/2022)