NaPoWriMo – Day 11


banner painnt

The Secret Meaning of Flowers

You offered to landscape
My yard—a new yard
A new house
Not yet a home
You chose yellow acacia
For friendship, you said
Only later did I discover
Its true meaning:
Secret love

Our first date
Led straight to my bed
You never left!
You added red
For love
I was not ready
To be loved

Over time, white snowdrops
And candytuft
For betrayal and heartbreak
You could have watered them
With your copious tears
Still, I remained untethered
You finally resolved
Your pain
Or so I thought

Herbs grew in the window
Fragrant basil and bay
For hatred and death
After a year, you imbued
A calm elegance
To the back garden
White chrysanthemums
For mourning
On top of my unmarked grave




NaPoWriMo Day 8

Welcome to National Poetry Writing Month, Day 8. Today’s challenge is to write a poem that uses a line from another poem as a “seed” for our new poem. I chose a line from a Sylvia Plath poem, THREE WOMEN: A Poem for Three Voices.

silhouette of the birds on branch

I Am Not Ready

by Jan Brown

I am not ready for anything to happen
the fat round birds of spring
are feasting on the seeds
amongst the grass blades
they tweet and trill and twitter
merrily returning
to their work-in-progress nests
frittering time and twigs and twine
content in ignorance
that anything is happening

I am not ready for anything to happen
the songbirds chirp and warble
but they cannot penetrate
this ringing in my ears
this sound of locusts swarming
how they consume the harvest-ready crops
across the finally fertile African plain
what will the humans have left to eat
the noisy swarm flies on to other countries
content with bellies full
(Do they have bellies?)

I am not ready for anything to happen
The sparrows perch upon the roof
and flutter wings as they converse
they cannot make up their minds
to go or to stay, to sing or be silent
they are not required to shelter-in-place
they are free to fly away from this plague
which, if it pierced their tender society,
would mean certain death

I am not ready for anything to happen
I do not want to be taken by this plague
while my house is a mess
Can you please wait until I clean and organize
my clutter? At least until I mop the floor?
I am not ready for anything to happen
there is a desperate feeling
that I am not finished, but finished with what
I do not know.  I only know that
I am not ready for anything to happen

NaPoWriMo 2020 – Day 5

Our prompt today is based on Jim Simmerman’s “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” a set of twenty instructions to construct a fantastic poem. I’m not sure this poem is all that fantastic, but it was interesting to write. It reflects my current dystopian view of the world. Every day, I read the news and feel as though I am watching a poorly directed sci-fi movie, in which the starring actors are untalented amateurs. I wonder what the future holds.

bean jude joshua pix

Summer 2020

by Jan Brown

The cool streets of Chicago are as quiet as an old English village.

No offense to English villages. I love England. Except that my ancestors emigrated to the colonies 300 years ago to get as far away from England as they could.

Except for that, I love England. Nuthin’ but love for ya, Your Majesty.

On Michigan Avenue at Adams Street, the listless lions that guard the Art Institute are silent at night. Black wreaths surround their majestic necks in memoriam to the fallen.

In the heat of summer days, they prowl Grant Park to keep the baseball diamond empty and the band shell silent.

The lions are not enough.

Restless suburbanites drive to the city. They take family photos in Millennium Park to share with envious followers on Instagram. They stand in front of The Bean and snap each other’s reflections.

They stand only three feet away from the next clump of tourists. Chacun a son gou. Whatever floats your boat.

They’ve heard the stories. They don’t believe.

The Bean bends down and envelops them, gobbles them up.

Tourists and teenagers. Men and women. The Bean doesn’t discriminate.

Is it genetic engineering? Or just natural selection? Okay, artificial selection. Either way, the human race will improve if stupid people don’t wander among us, reproducing at will.

But…this is not how we imagined our species would evolve.

We are told to go nowhere. But fit humans are everywhere, walking, jogging, biking, skateboarding.

The joggers are persistent. They run half the length of the city, through once-busy streets and officially-closed walking paths. Once they run through “the wall,” they taste the sweetness of success, the saltiness of their sweat. They feel invincible.

Until they feel the sweat of the next jogger spray their bare skin. Their maskless face.

The Bowman and The Spearman come down from their granite pedestals at the entrance to Grant Park and gallop along the paths packed with walkers and joggers and bikers and skateboarders.

Their majestic horses rear up on back legs, challenging the nearness of invading humans.

The Bowman and The Spearman lived here long before the colonists. They lived in harmony with the land, cultivating and caring for it without need of ownership.

The colonists brought diseases, racism and cruelty. Centuries later, they are still bringing it.

Their horses don’t like to be crowded.

They will trample the dim-witted humans.

The cries of the fallen will pierce the silence. They will scream in electric colors that cover the jogging path in chaos.

Jan will perform triage, tagging each fallen jogger with plastic triangles: green, yellow or black.

She doesn’t like the black ones.

The ozone layer is melting over the city. If we venture out, we confront the smog, the plague or the angry icons of our disappearing culture.

Which will we choose?


Image by Jude Joshua from Pixabay

NaPoWriMo Day 4

Today’s poetry prompt is to write about a dream.

Samurai in the Kitchen

the kitchen door
is kicked open
by a samurai
or Ming the Merciless
I’m not sure which

he has no feet
but at the bottom of his legs
ceramic vases on which he walks
they look just like the one
on my desk

he rushes toward me
his legs make a horrifying sound
thundering through the house
pulls his sword
then disappears

he storms the bedroom
while I shiver under the quilt
and catch a whiff of Asian spices
then just black pepper
I wake up sneezing

NaPoWriMo Day 2 – The Way of Love

Day 2 of National Poetry Writing Month!

Today I am incorporating the NaPoWriMo prompt with “The Way of Love,” a devotional series we are studying each day during Lent. The theme today is blessing, with the emphasis not on the blessings we have or receive, but rather on blessing others.

The poetry prompt is to write a poem describing a place, with concrete details that will help the reader imagine both the physical place as well as its mood. I wrote about my former church, a shrinking church that eventually disbanded, tragically unable to support itself, let alone be a blessing to the surrounding community. Many churches have experienced this type of downward spiral in the past few decades, having to sell the building and merge with another church or simply disband as the world embraces spirituality apart from organized religion.



people in white-painted pews
with the colors of stained glass
sounds of family
joy and sorrow
baby’s cry
mother’s touch
children squirming
baby cooing
the sermon expands
the “ah” of understanding
smattering of humor
bored coughing
the brass collection plate
take its toll
while I sing
the music rise
A-shaped ceiling spike
sound waves fly
over heads and hearts
over coffee and rolls
for something more
choir practice
in the basement
next to the youth room
billiard table and games
small tots’ classrooms
fewer and fewer
squeals and giggles
mission committee meeting room
so much to do
more than a building
to the world outside


National Poetry Writing Month

April is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) — a poem a day for a month! Today each of us is challenged to write a poem about an action (in my case, singing) that is a metaphor for our life.

To read lots more interesting poems or to participate, visit the National Poetry Writing Month website.

from her mouth

from her mouth
the melody saunters
through the spring rain
her voice carries high
finally rests upon a cloud

from her lungs
the lyrics march
down city streets
a pounding thunderstorm
forcing wind to cry out loud

from her diaphragm
the music flows through pews
the scent of God’s green earth so sweet
the sanctuary moves
to the power of her voice, profound

from her heart
the music pumps like blood
magnificent it beats
resonates through rafters
and shouts God’s name out loud

from her breath
now gasping short and low
a voice near silent, still
no storm, no wind, just whispers
of angels’ wings on clouds


The Way of Love – Turn


I turn
toward the Light of Life
try to catch a healing ray
like a flower
faces the sun
to be nourished
but what is it
I hunger for?
homebound, I open the blinds
to peek at a forbidden world
and wonder

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” — John 8:12

The Way of Love – Blessing


Today’s theme is blessing. We are challenged to pass along blessings, to share something  that will be a blessing to that person, to engage them in conversation, to listen to and dignify their stories and to share our stories with them.

One story worth sharing is that of The Bishop Walker School. It is an independent school in southeast Washington, D.C. that is primarily supported by donations from churches in the area. This area of D.C. is economically challenged, and students face numerous obstacles to getting a quality education and living a healthy life. The Bishop Walker School attempts to address some of those obstacles without charging tuition. The school admits students regardless of their religion.

You can watch a video about the school here.  I hope you find it inspirational!


Love Will Always Win

It’s been a month since I posted my last story. Where is my muse? Nothing creative is emanating from my mouth, my fingers, my brain.

she tries in vain to sing
nothing but darkness emerges
her voice silenced by despair
when will her muse return

Perhaps this poem that I wrote on Twitter awhile back is more appropriate for this sad, unholy week, when we are mourning the loss of 49 souls and wondering what evils lie ahead.

Purple Angel

Poem Copyright: Janet L. Brown, Image Copyright: Kerri

Many have said that it’s no longer enough to say that our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. They say it’s time for action. We can see it in the blocks-long winding line of people who volunteered to give blood in Orlando. And we can hear it in the public discourse about gun control legislation (or lack thereof).

In his  June 12th statement to the press, President Obama once again asked the country to do some “soul-searching” about the ease with which people can get assault weapons in the U.S.

We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.

– President Barack Obama

I wonder if we can finally agree on legislation that would ban or reduce the sale of these weapons, or at least build a database to ensure that access is limited.

A California pastor’s sermon went viral over the weekend, as you already may know, because he blamed the victims for their own deaths.

The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job.

– Pastor Roger Jimenez, Verity Baptist Church

This is the worst kind of hate speech–words that are delivered by a pastor, who we are supposed to be able to trust! Fortunately, no one seems to agree with him. Love is stronger than hate. Love will overcome the devastation wrought by any man. Even if he has an AR-15. Even if he has a pulpit from which to spew hate. Love will always win.