April 23 – Film, Unprocessed

Prompt: write a poem with numbered sections.

The polaroids are
all out of focus, and
all I can do is take
more, and hope it
sorts itself out.

My mind the lens,
it refuses to spin,
to sharpen the
already mangled
edges of the words,

I asked it, I thought
gently, though maybe
it wasn’t, but all it
did was turn off the
flash, blurred it more.

Now my shaking
hands have to hold
it still, so I hold my
breath, but still I
tremble and it’s lost.

I’ve seen people
make art with the
long exposure,
drawing words
with fire lights,

and ghosts in the
background music
haunting the edges
of frames, whispers
in the silver halide,

arcs drawn by the
Sun, carved into
the light reflected
in the atmosphere,
light within the light,

paths taken by stars,
when we are the ones
who leave, we say
that they move so we
do not feel so alone,

dilate the pupil, open
it to as many photons
as wish to visit, invite
them in, electric and
utterly magnetic.

They increase the
frequency, I am here;
the apple of my eye
is suddenly in perfect
clarity, sharp and sweet,

for a moment, it
threatens to bring to
mind the moment I
thought to take more,
and hope it sorts itself

out, but the cones and
rods line the runways
of neurons firing to
write each word as it
walks from lip to letter.

The pictures are now
processed, the film is
marked; there is no
undo, no delete, only
focus, silver, and light.

(C) JS 2023

April 22 – Ebb and Flow

Prompt: take an Emily Dickinson poem, take out all of the puncutation, and rewrite your own using that as a base. I used “The Moon is Distant from the Sea.”

the moon,
distant from the sea,
an eye that gazes softly
at a pool of cosmic tears,

and yet with amber hands
she leads us, docile,
to radiant shores
with sands

we never
missed, but
obediently sank our
toes into each heavy summer,

to her eye we come, just so far,
waiting until twilight settles,
toward the town, just so,
it goes away.

Oh signor,
thine the amber hand,
and ours the distant sea,
obedient to the lap of the waves,

command your eye to impose on me,
bring on each foaming crest a
memory to recede; like it
we ebb and flow.

(C) JS 2023

April 21 – Glory

Prompt: write a poem with a simple title, short lines, and at least one made-up word.

All glory,
laud and
honor to


ringing and
we change
the key,

new shapes
for our
mouths to

form praises,
our monarch
is formless.
Why do

we fear

They knew
us before
we had
been knitted

in the

(C) JS 2023

April 20 – Hats

Prompt: what will future archeologists think of us based on what we leave behind?

Initial findings:

They had strange taste in hats:
clay and plastic, occasionally
glazed ceramic, some painted,

others a boring grey or

There were many different sizes,
perhaps to denote importance;
some would have covered

the whole head, others were tiny,
and would rest on the top of their
skulls; they’d have to have good balance.

Some have holes in the top;
perhaps these are summer hats,
to let some heat escape.

There are small disks that seem
to fit on top of the hats. I believe
this to be a fitting for winter,

or perhaps formality. More
research is needed.

They seem to have displayed
them on windowsills, perhaps to
show wealth or preference of style?

They have so many hats.

We see that there was a large
uptick in the collection of these
particular artifacts when the humans

were likely home-bound due to
a widespread contagion; they would have
worn them at home (though

I can’t imagine that they were
very comfortable!)

Some are more round, others square,
some cyllindrical, others wider at the
base and narrower on top —

speaking of which, they all have
flat tops! Fascinating.

I wonder if they will ever come back
into fashion. Still, I think there is no
need to have had quite so many.

(C) JS 2023

April 19 – Before

Prompt: write a poem about something that scared you as a child. This poem is inspired by the story of Hansel and Gretel.

they’d even found
the house,

and cloying saccharine

and full bellies, restful

the trail marked and

they woke in a silent
forest, alone,

their father wept,
eyes swollen from

stole them in
their sleep, took them

as far as
he could carry them,
to lose them;

while behind his
eyes hid his fear,
wrapped in

a question he
dared not even
think –

to let
them starve,


The witch would have
whispered in his ear,
what are you waiting for?

(C) JS 2023

April 18 – A Gift for Halmeoni

Prompt: write an abecedarian poem – a poem in which the word choice follows the words/order of the alphabet.

Boil the water.
Cut the carrots, not
Diced, small and
Even. Julienned is best.
Fry a whisked egg,
Get the timer ready — the
Hangul says yeolses bun, 13 minutes.
Immediately rinse in cold water.
Japchae noodles are
Kind of gross when too soft.
Let me help, I’ll
Mince the garlic, chop the mushrooms
Not too small. You can do it
On your own next time.
Prep the bell peppers, now cook it all until —
Quick! The water is boiling! The
Rest is simple.
Sesame oil and salt.
Take your time,
Underseasoned is better. Calm the
Voices that worry and
Wonder if she will like it. It is
Exceptional that you are trying. Then say with
Zeal and joy: masissge deuseyo.

(C) JS 2023

April 17 – Invitation

Prompt: “an inconsiderate neighbor”

The fire alarm is piercing
through the theoretical sound
cancellation of my headphones,

blaring for minutes and minutes
that the sheer volume magnifies into
hours. Someone put plastic in the oven,

the fumes reek through the stairwell;
meanwhile, in the apartment next door,
a paper-thin wall away,

children scream and laugh and kick a ball,
their front door the goal. It is 10:16pm.
I take a deep breath, and another.

Music bleeds through the cracked windows
from blasting beatboxes in car windows, a
celebration of life and lament of sleeplessness.

I send a text to complain. It helps a little.
But what settles me is my own imagination,
as I think about close calls with my own

thoughtlessness, gas hobs left burning
through the night, unlocked doors and holding
the hearts of those I truly loved too lightly.

I imagine my own children, someday
restless after a long, cold, rainy Saturday
with nothing to absorb their endless energy

but a (very, very loud) game of their
own invention. Another deep breath, and
I make myself a smoothie in the blender.

Usually, I would think it too late and too loud,
but the insomniatic chorus invites me in,
and I allow myself to join.

(C) JS 2023

April 16 – What’s Wrong

Prompt: Describe something in terms of what it is not.

It is not gossamer thin fabric
woven with too much tension,
pockets of space at the edges
of each silken thread pulled too tight.

It is not the spaces on the walls
where paintings once hung,
chosen thoughtfully and forgotten
after we painted the room white.

It is not the silent still-warm bed
of dry mornings when we do not
say goodbye because there is
nothing but the cold rain waiting.

It’s not bone-deep growing pains,
not shallow humid breaths standing in the mud,
not the condensation on the full glass;
it’s not anything you said.

(C) JS 2023

April 15 – Curie

Prompt: Write a poem that exaggerates the supposedly admirable qualities of a person you admire in a way that exposes your doubts.

Okay, so,
you’re telling me

fundamentally changed
our understanding
of medicine,

had impeccable dress sense,
is a mother of an entire scientific field,

and had a pet tiger?

Next you’ll tell me she
glowed in the dark.

(C) JS 2023