A Letter to April


National Poetry Writing Month, Day 30

Wrap me in the tall grass, laced with
cold dew and the chirping of crickets,
wind whispering secrets of the coming summer.

Sing to me the spring song of clear stars,
perfect shards of light against the black night,
trinkets of hope from across the universe.

Sleep well. Let the breeze carry away your woes,
let your worries evaporate with the morning mist.
You will find me waiting, as always, right here.

Until next year.


JS 2020

Even Monkeys

National Poetry Writing Month, Day 29
Prompt: write about an idiom from a different culture

Leap for greatness, highest heights,
bruise the wrist, scrape the knees,
get knocked down, then get back up –
even monkeys fall from trees.

Pour your passion into words,
forget them, stumble, panic, freeze,
deep breath – start from where it starts –
even monkeys fall from trees.

Build a life with one you love,
watch it sink to ruthless seas,
choose to grow, live better, new –
even monkeys fall from trees.

Trust that things are meant to be,
and if that slips your mind, then please,
at least forgive yourself, and say:
even monkeys fall from trees.

JS 2020


National Poetry Writing Month, Day 28
Prompt: write a poem about an old room

Empty bottles lined up by the window,
.          badges of honor, a trophy case to our
.          .          most regrettable (un)forgettable nights.

Two beds, two desks, an invisible line,
.          if you stay on your side I’ll stay on mine,
.          .          a veil of willed ignorance in between.

Drawers full of chocolate bars and ramen,
.          if you could even call it that, mostly sodium,
.          .          a few empty cups you beg me to throw away.

Quiet, tense disagreements, diaries left for
.          each other to find, just two kids sent away
.          .          a little too soon, to figure it out for ourselves.

Thank God we did.


JS 2020


beams-of-sunlight-rays-shining-through-dramatic-clouds-onto-the-gill-copelandNational Poetry Writing Month, Day 27

It’s taken far too long for me to follow,
it’s taken much too long to let you lead –
one foot was out the door before I found you,
hoping I might not, so I could leave.

It took so many years just to believe you,
to think that there was more to life than this –
waking just to breathe and then to sleep,
each moment spent awake a Judas kiss,

a betrayal to the fiber of my being,
that longed for endless sleep, a quiet mind,
yet in and out my chest heaved, never ceasing,
in retrospect, a gift from the divine.

So please forgive my long held trepidation,
my reluctance just to take your hand,
I’m here now, and I’ll stay here till it’s over;
and though I’ve accepted, I still don’t understand –

you hold me when I cannot help but hurt you.
You believe – each failure you embrace.
I never could have earned such deep forgiveness,
and that is what defines such perfect grace.

How blessed I am to be here, to have found you,
to have faith in the now, and what awaits.

JS 2020

We, the Wolves

National Poetry Writing Month, Day 26
Note: this is a rework of an old poem of mine.

Snow falls on wolves’ coats,
blend with ash, smolder grey,
fire brewing in their souls
sweeter than the singe of day.

Sip the nectar from the wound,
taste the spell of evening rites,
see their pupils as a moon,
dilated against the night.

Dark lingers in the opaque breath
exhaled by stars, the taste of sky
in past pure, but thick with death –
star-crossed woes are quick to die.

Ivory knives can cut so deep,
and soothing poison slowly flood,
this pain is new, but mine to keep –
a sacrifice is sealed in blood.

Change ever comes with dire pain –
the spine bends down, the shoulders snap,
for character is built with strain,
and frames of wolves are much the same.

JS 2020

an odd little memory

arthurs-seat-94e5.jpgNational Poetry Writing Month, Day 25

We are laughing, cheap champagne in hand,
we forget glasses, we drink from the bottle,
we skip through thistle, I forget the nettle,
it stings my toes, the sun is bright and cold,
we tear into fresh bread, you like the crust,
we roll down the hill, belly laughing,
our sunglasses fall off, I whisper something,
I thought I loved him, we are drinking champagne,
I never did, the clouds gather to see,
we never stop laughing, I look to the cliffs,
someday he stands there, but not today,
today we are laughing, immortalized in joy.

JS 2020

Oregon Summer


photo by Stephen Philips

National Poetry Writing Month, Day 24
Prompt: write a poem about fruit

I took the plums from the tree, their red-purple skin
gemstones in the summer sun, I sliced them, drizzled
them with wildflower honey, and put them in the icebox –
so sweet, and so cold.

We took the blackberries from the bushes, each with a
basket, as high as we could reach, they burst in our mouth,
bright and warm, the juices stained our fingers,
we skipped home.

You bought me apples, fresh from the market,
knife in hand, I peeled their skin in one long strip,
cut them into wedges, dusted with cinnamon,
summer on our tongues.

JS 2020

East and West


National Poetry Writing Month, Day 23
Prompt: write a poem inspired by the shape of the letters (note: the word choice for “yellow wood” in Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is often though of as meaningful since the letter ‘y’ itself diverges – that’s what inspired this poem.)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
the paths, they forked to east and west,
one waiting for the sun to rise,
one longing so to follow her,

to chase beginnings, small and grand,
to see her arc through nothingness,
to watch her fight the lonely void,
to witness how she’ll rise again;

the first road knows that she comes back,
to warm the path and guide the feet,
she always has, she always will,
its faith is blind, unfaltering,

but often while I’m walking there,
I cannot help but take the west,
to see the glory for myself,
to strive towards that strength of heart,

and someday, when I’m old and brave,
perhaps each day I’ll take the east.
For now though, I would watch her soar,
and fight the void to rise again.

JS 2020


willowNational Poetry Writing Month, Day 21
Prompt: write a poem using homophonic translation as inspiration (pretend to translate a poem based on what the words sound like. The poem I used is here.)

Silent, timid, at dusk
in languid twilight
they peek from under their masks,
the shy trees
look for us,

Scrying far and farther,
through the ice hanging there,
through the illusion,
some say they see it,
our quiet souls, but
it is gone.

Once, they beckoned,
asked for us by name,
to sit beneath them,
but now, we
do not listen.

Their leaves rustle as they
sigh, their bark
settles in snow,
the silence like

JS 2020