NaPoWriMo 2018 Two Sylvias Press Day 12

The prompt for April 12th is about seashells, used in surprising ways.

Here is my attempt:

The Front Door is for Angels

I heard again the small sound of her knocking.
When I opened the front door, a tiny girl
stood there, ginger hair wild above her
keen blue eyes, an angel of an urchin.

Her dress was the colour
of faded sky. On her feet,
seashell sandals sparkled
like bright sand in the sun.

One small hand dipped into
a pocket. Flat-palmed, she
offered me pink and yellow pieces
of salt-water taffy.

My mother makes them, she told me.
Won’t you try? Please say that you will buy!

Her eyes dropped as she looked away.
I strained to hear her say,
I need new shoes.

Carol A. Stephen
April 20, 2018

NaPoWriMo 2018 Two Sylvias Press Day 9

The prompt was to write about a favourite childhood toy, and to end each line in “ing”.


Elephant, Singing

My favourite cuddle toy was not the usual thing,
when I was small,  I held close an elephant that could sing

He only knew a simple tune, a lullaby to wing
me off to sleep and every night he sang his offering
his gentle  notes of sleepytime, his music sending
me to the land of Nod, the land of childhood dreaming.

My elephant came at Christmas in December 19something
his fur was white, his ears were red, a ribbon tying
round his neck. One day when Mum was washing
sweaters, my elephant tumbled in, red running

through the wash colouring everything.
From then on he was pink, and I?  Explaining
why a child so small  knew pink elephants, not the usual thing.
He’s gone now, I don’t know where, but I’m still remembering.

Carol A. Stephen
April 9, 2018

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 14 & 15

“today’s prompt is to write entries for an imaginary dream dictionary. Pick one (or more) of the following words, and write about what it means to dream of these things: Teacup   Hammer  Seagull  Ballet slipper   Shark  Wobbly table   Dentist Rowboat

Fish Story            Carol A. Stephen April 14, 2018

I wake from the dream again, my breath
coming hard in short gasps of stale night air
Always the same dream, the green teacup
filled the rim with almond-scented tea,

the pain behind the eyes, a small hammer
pounding in rhythm to my heart minutes
after I drink the last of the bitter brew.
My dentist hovers at the door, a seagull

perched on his left shoulder, in its mouth
pink ribbons attached to a size 4 ballet
slipper. The bird lifts off, settles
on the wobbly table beside my chair.

He pokes my cheek with his sharp beak,
once on the left, then hops round to the right
to peck three more times, each a little harder.
He’s a mean bird.

Through the doorway, there’s a bathtub.
I hear water splash but I’m too far away to see what.
The dentist beckons me forward, pushes me
through the door. I see a small child, in a rowboat,

a bigger-than-he-is fish swims laps around him.
The tub-water, red, has a familiar salt-iron smell.
The child points to the fish. Says, This is Sharky.
He loves the taste of blood. The echo of his words
still with me as I shake off sleep.

All it says in the dream dictionary
is to stop eating fish.





Day 15 NaPoWriMo.


And now for our prompt (optional, as always). In her interview, Blake suggests writing a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil). Perhaps this could mean the witch from Hansel & Gretel has lost her beloved cat, and is going about the neighborhood sticking up heart-wrenching “Lost Cat” signs, but still finds human children delicious. Maybe Blackbeard the Pirate is lost at sea in an open boat, remembering how much he loved his grandmother (although he will still kill the first person dumb enough to scoop him from the waves).

The Orange Man

His small fingers
creep closer to the red button
as he tweets in a rampage about
this country or that.

He threatens, he promises
and tomorrow what he promised
he will deny, what he threatened
he’ll forget, or blame someone else.

Day upon day upon day, so that
we worry now that we’ll become
blasé, ignore his threats, believe
he’ll never do what he says he will.
We become immune. The man
is dangerous, but the bigger danger
is to dismiss him.  His is an evil
presence. And yet,

we see his humanity
in his need for ego strokes
and in his combed-over
yellow hair.

Carol A. Stephen
April 15, 2018


NaPoWriMo 2018 Days 10 through 13

Day Ten On April 10, 2018 from

 Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of simultaneity – in which multiple things are happing at once.


As I sit, willing a poem to come
by door, by window, or casual thought
the heater hums, warms the room to summer,
droops my eyelids closer to each other
wills me to doze instead of write.

As I sit, the day passes by the window.
She’s wearing her same grey dress she
wore yesterday and the day before.
She frowns in the window, her clouds
lowering, perhaps angry she cannot pass
through the glass and into my room.

As I sit, cars vroom by too fast
for the street, in a hurry to
somewhere or in a rush back.
A small-town idea of getting things done.
A small-town way of going nowhere.

On the wall, a tiny black bug creeps
toward the painted scene of a
Mexican market that blends into
the background of the room, seldom noticed
It hangs its memories of elsewhere and the spice
scent of subtropical flowers and the sea.

I take a tissue, capture the creature’s
small existence, ending in a moment
his long journey from the floor.
Perhaps, like me, he hoped for
some warmer welcome.

His, in a wormhole of the picture’s frame.
Mine on the beach near the market in Acapulco.


Carol A. Stephen
April 10, 2018

Day Eleven On April 11, 2018

 a poem that addresses the future, answering the questions “What does y(our) future provide? What is your future state of mind? If you are a citizen of the “union” that is your body, what is your future “state of the union” address?”


After the White Light

In the future I will live
further away from the sun

although live is not quite
the right word.

I will be surrounded
by the earth, becoming earth

as my bones and ashes
burrow deep into the soil

the soul separates
a different energy

body and mind will separate
their existences, create new

sparks in the energy
of the parallel universe

Carol A. Stephen,
April 11, 2018





DAY 12

“Today, we’d like to challenge you specifically to write a haibun that takes in the natural landscape of the place you live. It may be the high sierra, dusty plains, lush rainforest, or a suburbia of tiny, identical houses – but wherever you live, here’s your chance to bring it to life through the charming mix-and-match methodology of haibun.”

Day 12 haibun attempt:

Noting that I do not usually write in this form, or any Japanese form, for that matter.


She counts her many winters on worry beads she keeps in a drawer by her small bed. They come faster now, and colder, with a chill that creeps into her bones. It stays with her now, this snow inside the body, this ice running through her blue veins. Her landscape no longer vast, for even as time quickens her pace slows. She moves now with a measured step, the fragility of age that mocks her with memories of summer fields of wildflowers, the ones she ran through as a child.

Daisies in green grass
crushed yellow white haloes
small suns melting snow


Carol A. Stephen
April 12, 2018


Day 13

Today, we challenge you to write a poem in which the words or meaning of a familiar phrase get up-ended. For example, if you chose the phrase “A stitch in time saves nine,” you might reverse that into something like: “a broken thread; I’m late, so many lost.” Or “It’s raining cats and dogs” might prompt the phrase “Snakes and lizards evaporate into the sky.”


The large reptilians were first to leave,
melted into rivers of sweat that carved
shores of great lakes and inland seas.

Only their tiny brains
survived, becoming
something other.

The smaller scaled creatures, the first
frogs, toads, the turtles all waited
to become.

As the waters cooled into snow,
they dreamed themselves
fur, almond eyes,

sharp teeth
for protection, sleek bodies,
a deep purr.

They persuaded the later apes to
provide food, shelter
and worship.

Apes, who
would become
the first  humans.

Carol A. Stephen
April 13, 2018