Dear Poetry – NaPoWriMo Day 15

The NaPoWriMo challenge for April 15th was to write a poem that addresses some aspect of itself. So….I’ve written a letter of sorts, to my dear friend, Poetry.


Dear Poetry,

You are my closest ally

As I strive

To understand the pain

And the process of healing

Or not


My interim comfort

As more familiar comforts

Elude me

And the prospect of normalcy



My lifelong companion

Who wants to be normal? You ask

I have to answer, Not me!

So we walk toward the future




The Healer – NaPoWriMo Day Four

Today’s prompt is to write a “loveless” poem, a poem about love that does not invoke the usual hearts and flowers or lovely sensual aspects of love, nor even use the word, “love.”

Kahlil Gibran said, “Work is love made visible.” If a person is passionate about their work, we can see an aspect of love in it. In the healing arts, we can see it in people on the front lines–nurses, rescue workers, patient care technicians, etc. This poem is for them.

The Healer

by Jan Brown

She sees me raw and at my worst
She rips off the façade
Like bloody bandages
She rips off bloody bandages
Like an artist

She has talent in equal parts
For comedy and calamity
For caring and carrying
For charming smiles and clenched teeth

Her not-so-random acts of kindness
Can seem alternately cruel
And cool

She often loses hope
But never loses faith

And never gives up

Wishing on the Stars – NaPoWriMo Day 2

The prompt today tells us to look to the stars…so I did!  I am also continuing the overall theme of healing, focusing on the constellation that features Apollo’s son, Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. 

Note: Due to problems with the computer gods, this is being published via iPhone, so it may look a little weird 😳


Apollo’s baby son
saved from gruesome death

grew up to heal the sick
and raise the dead to life
enormous powers, invoked
with joyous abandon
but Hades pleaded with Zeus:
   stop this madness!
   my pit of death and suffering
   is being emptied, soul by soul
   my empire shrinks to naught
   as this marauding madman
   spreads, of all things, happiness!
so Zeus complied
and sent Asclepius
to live forever in the skies
where I pray that a few rays
of long-reaching healing 
can shine a loving light on me


Welcome the Dark – NaPoWriMo Day 1

This poem is for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). The goal is to write a poem a day throughout the month of April.

After surgery, I spent several weeks in a rehabilitation hospital receiving physical therapy–ultimately very good for the body, but very painful! I find that it helps to give a literary form to my pain, memorializing my worst episodes as a poem. These poems tend to be very short, and either very dark or very hopeful–not much middle ground.

The PT continues, and so do my poetic efforts. I’m not sure either is particularly successful at this point, but I’m hopeful it will all be worthwhile.

You can find more resources for National Poetry Writing Month at the NaPoWriMo website.

angel statue

Welcome the Dark

by Jan Brown

so welcome the dark

when light has failed you

be willing to ascend on angel’s wings

to your yearned-for destination

she will carry you there in a blithe but urgent rush

then brush off the snow and make you beautiful

as you stand before the gate


Not Goodbye

Today I am combining two prompts: National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and Friday Fictioneers.

Today is the last day of NaPoWriMo, and the challenge is–appropriately–to write a poem of farewell. However, being the contrarian that I am, I have chosen to write a poem that refuses to say goodbye.

The poem was also written in response to the Friday Fictioneers photo prompt provided on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields website, courtesy of photographer and fellow writer Renee Heath. Thank you, Rochelle and Renee! I have not submitted a poem to Friday Fictioneers before, but others have done so with very good results, so I took a chance! I’ve tagged it as both speculative fiction and free verse.

I would also like to express my appreciation to Maureen Thorson, who runs the NaPoWriMo website, with over 1,500 participants this year. She has kept us fully engaged these past 30 days. I hope you’ve had a chance to check out some of the interesting poetry that was produced (including, I hope, mine).


Not Goodbye

by Jan Brown

Time runs out
Like wax dripping from a spent candle
Forming little rivulets of pain
If I could travel in time
A thousand years hence
Surely cancer would have been cured
Would they allow me to return?
Return to your bedside with a magic vial
Or perhaps an electronic device
Shooting nanobots into your bloodstream
Racing through your shattered body
I shall light the candle anew
And watch your body refresh
Losing the shrunken, bony appearance
So uncharacteristic of you
Your senior years should be as beautiful
As memorable
As amazing
As you are
And I
Shall. Not. Say. Goodbye.


To read more Friday Fictioneers’ stories, click the link:

NaPoWriMo 29 – Fox News and the American Dream

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem including the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects” developed by Professor Jim Simmerman. You can see the list of twenty criteria here. I found the prompt extremely challenging, but a lot of fun.



Fox News and the American Dream

by Jan Brown


The American dream is a rainbow:

multi-colored, fleeting and visible only under perfect conditions.


The Coulter construct of logic welcomes you

like Satan smiling at recent arrivals in Hades–

a smile most beautiful, cloaked in skinny sensuality

that, when touched, evokes a jagged edge.

But watch…it’s an empty smile, devoid of soul.

It’s empty talk, containing neither logic nor compassion,

like the clanging cymbal of 1 Corinthians 13.


“Jan is just jealous!”

Can you see it in her eyes?

That stagnant-pond-water green….

She obviously longs for skinny sensuality

sustained by a steady diet of drivel.

Ahhhh, sookie sookie now!


“There is more cholera in American than there is racism.”

Really, Ann???

My God, that means there are tens of millions of Americans

suffering from cholera!

Who knew?

Cliven Bundy probably knew….

When I smell cattle manure, I see his face.

Does that mean he is full of bullsh*t?

At his last news conference, his prize bull joined him:

“Cliven, when are you going to let us eat something other than this free range crabgrass?

It tastes like dandelion wine and bitter herbs.”

But it was a black angus,

so Cliven ignored him.


Oh, mon cherie, Fox News!

You have that je ne sais quois, that I don’t know what!

No, I don’t mean you have a mysterious, attractive quality.

I mean I really don’t know what is wrong with you.

Perhaps it’s a nano-virus, spread via digital signal,

that turns your news into mindless twaddle

and your hosts into giant-headed blowhards.


May you always be with me, Fox News,

for you will bring me untold laughter for all time to come.



NaPoWriMo 24 – The Ivy Wall


Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write about wall, a brick and mortar wall. I couldn’t make it that simple, of course….


Finestra naturale con fiori di petunie.


The Ivy Wall

by Jan Brown


after she left

he built a wall

a fearsome, formidable wall

forged from lies and deception

stacked on layers of doubt

until the wall was high enough

to stop the torrent of tears

and for years it held back

both sorrow and joy


but still he dealt with loneliness

the wall had blocked his view

of all things beautiful

including you

you chiseled out a peephole

through overgrown ivy

then a brick or two

an opening just large enough

for eyes to meet

for hands to touch

to greet the lips

to seal a kiss

to make you his


after you left

he carefully replaced each brick

each line of mortar too


not to let any real emotions in

the trowel is heavy

the mortar’s set

his arm is tired

and yet the tears seep through

till he’s awash in disappointment

and regret


the wall still rises to the heavens

once verdant ivy, long dead

does he still live behind it

obscured by fear and dread

or does he have a secret door

burst of sunshine

whiff of jasmine

lilt of music from above

touch of gentle hands

taste of cherry lips

and finally


fearless feel of love

NaPoWriMo 23 – Conversing in Senescence

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to perform a homophonic “translation”  of a poem (or part of a poem) written in a language you don’t know. In other words, write a poem that mirrors the original in sound–or what you imagine to be the sound of the original words.

I have chosen to “translate” part of a poem by Ana Cristina César. She was a well-known poet of Brazil and has been compared to Sylvia Plath. Like Plath, she took her own life. I do not wish to diminish her poetry in any way, so I hope this homophonic “translation” captures not only the sounds but also the beauty and emotion I would expect to find in her work.

This is her poem (or part of it), followed by my non-translation.


Nao preciso nem casar
Tiro dele tudo o que preciso
Nao saio mais daqui
Duvido muito
Esse assunto de mulher ja terminou
O gato comeu e regalou-se
Ele danca que nem um realejo
Escrior nao existe mais
Mas tambem nao precisa virar deus
Tem alguem na casa
Voce acha que ele aguenta?


Memory is never precise
Time may dull the truth
Just as this daiquiri
Dulls my senses, or even more
Pulling asunder the threads of reality
Entering the gates of fantasy-land
And dancing until our feet are numb
The escape route no longer exists
By which we can tap dance to freedom
Our ascent is no longer possible
Have our voices been silenced as well?

NaPoWriMo 16 – Still Playing Dress-Up

The NaPoWriMo prompt for April 16th challenges us to write a poem of ten lines, with each line being a lie. In my case, part of each line is a lie. I think you’ll be able to tell which part….

Still Playing Dress-Up

by Jan Brown

I loved to play dress-up and dance in the attic—a graceful ballerina in white

I wore a pink formal to the junior prom—I was so lissome and lithe

he wore a black tux to the senior prom—we were blissfully happy

I wore blue bell bottoms in the park—we were carefree hippies

though he never inhaled—he experimented with joy

though his father hung himself—he was always a good boy

we nuzzled behind the band shell—we were always chaste

we never dated anyone else—even when he was away

I wore long braids at our wedding—he wasn’t hung over whatsoever

he ruined his tux at the reception—but we lived flawlessly thereafter

NaPoWriMo 9 – Stella by Starlight

The National Poetry Writing Month challenge for today is to randomize or shuffle your favorite playlist, write down the next five song titles, and use them in a poem. I used the jazz playlist on my iPhone. The specific titles and artists appear below the poem, as well as a live performance of one of the songs. Enjoy!

Stella by Starlight

by Jan Brown

he plays salsa music all night long
then dances at the after-hours club
the beat of the conga
reminds him of home
where he and his sweet
danced in the moonlight
strumming his hands on her body
like the chords of his bandola
but he’s a long way from home
and Marianela

so he dances with Stella by starlight
hiding the gold ring in his pocket
the music shifts into slow gear
and they begin a dance with no steps
tired feet riveted in place
softly swaying as one
her backless dress inviting
his naked left hand
to trace the curve of her spine
and press her to him
as they listen to blues
for the night owl

The playlist includes:

Stella by Starlight – Stan Getz

Marianela – Arturo Sandoval

Conga (Revisited) – Arturo Sandoval

Blues for the Night Owl – Ramsey Lewis

Gold – Hugh Masekela