Twelve Months

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is inspired by T.S. Eliot’s words from Wasteland: “April is the cruelest month.” We are asked to write about the month we hate the most!

But as I go through the months, particularly as they transpired in my life last year, I find that the most challenging months also have some endearing qualities. Not being able to pick a least favorite, or even a most favorite, I decided to write about all of them.


creamy white snow smothers
my colorful Christmas comforts

savoring winter solitude
but am I anyone’s Valentine?

spring begins amidst the snow
but it’s hard to tell

nature’s nascent growth
means wicked allergies

school ends and children play
with raucous abandon

Summer Solstice
declares victory

such irony, dammit
homebound on Independence Day

the happiest, sunniest month
spews the most miserable allergies

family birthdays
time to be thankful

precious great-niece arrives
God’s most amazing gift

friends remind me
I am not alone

God blessed us with a Savior
time to celebrate His love

Aurora – NaPoWriMo Day 29

Before April ends, I thought my readers might like to see the northern lights. This photo was taken in Alaska on April 9th by Sebastian Saarloos and posted on

Nightingale – NaPoWriMo Continues

This is in response to the Twitter poetry challenge #haikuwordgame. The prompts are “patience” and “dusk.” I am behind a day for National Poetry Writing Month, so I wrote two haiku 🙂

I hope you enjoy the musical “extra” below the poetry!

Wikimedia - Public Domain

Wikimedia – Public Domain

patience turns to sadness
nightingale sings for his love
in the grim dusk
at dusk he puffs his chest
he sings of his prowess
impatient for love


NaPoWriMo 27 – We Still Hope

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a poem based on a photo prompt. Several photos were included as optional prompts; I chose the snowy city scene because the rampant snow of the polar vortex had such an impact on my life this past winter.





We Still Hope

by Jan Brown


we still fret

though winter’s gone

scattered detritus

a harsh reminder

like the shrapnel strewn

in bloody fields of war


we still wonder

what’s become of the leaves

trees bud

but do not blossom

like a growing child

but stunted


we still worry

how the Earth will heal

though welcome, spring’s new warmth

is not enough

like a candle flickering

before it dies


we still hope

spring flora will bloom

summer fires won’t burn

winter snows will be kinder

like seasons of our youth

in fading memory



NaPoWriMo 19 – Sparse Doves

Wikimedia Commons - Photo by Kazvorpal - CC BY-SA 3.0

Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0


sparse doves in winter

husband stays behind

to stand guard


Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to compose a poem inspired by the name of a sea shell.  Yes, there is a sea shell called “sparse dove,” and that made me think of the sparse population of mourning doves during our frigid winter.  In the fall, mourning doves begin to migrate: first the young birds born that spring/summer, then the adult females, then the males. However, some males choose to stay behind to protect their territory in order to re-establish nests the following spring in the same area. I admire their bravery; they stay in the colder climate despite the shrinking food sources and the possibility of frostbitten toes. This is because the female chose the nesting spot during courtship. Mourning doves are monogamous, so the brave male, like any good husband, will try to give her what she wants!

I’m also fond of the male mourning dove’s attitude toward equal parenting. He forages for nest-building supplies and brings them to the female, once she has chosen the spot. She then weaves the twigs into a loose circle around herself. The partnership is not consummated until the nest is built. The parents share brooding responsibilities equally, and once the newborns arrive, both mother and father produce crop milk and share feeding responsibilities.

Finally, there is no more endearing trait of the male mourning dove than his call, a yearning, melancholy cooing sound that is the reason for the species’ name. I love a man who sings to me. I really do.

Even the ducks….

Today, it is finally above freezing, the sky is snow-free, and it looks like it will stay that way. My heart is doing a happy dance!

However, the ducks who winter on Lake Michigan are not dancing, or even waddling much these days. Even the wild punk rocker of ducks, the red-breasted merganser, has succumbed to the frigid winter.

red breasted merganser by peter massas cc by sa 20

Photo by Peter Massas – Creative Commons License – CC BY-SA 2.0

Odd as it may seem, red-breasted mergansers and white-winged scoter ducks fly south every winter, from their homes in Alaska and Canada to the cold and snowy southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. This is their version of Florida, their sunny winter home. But this year it was not so sunny. This was our fourth coldest and third snowiest winter ever in recorded history. Red-breasted mergansers are built for cold weather; their beaks are even longer than their Mohawk hairdos. Their beaks are like ice picks, and under normal circumstances they can poke through thin ice and dive for small fish. But this year, the ice is too thick and the ducks have been starving.  White-winged scoters, normally one of the lake’s largest ducks, have been stricken as well.

Public Domain Photo : U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - National Digital Library<br />

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – National Digital Library – Public Domain Photo

By the time human residents ventured to the frozen lake and noticed the struggling birds, it was too late. Some very optimistic folks threw fish to the ducks, hoping they would feed. But for most, it was too late. They couldn’t rebuild their all-important fat reserves. They were too thin, too weak and too cold. Now they are being found on the surface of the icy lake, lifeless.

I am beginning to feel lucky–or should I say blessed–that I made it to the other side of this awful, frigid winter.

Perhaps because of my more-than-adequate fat reserves….

For more information:

Chicago Tribune: Ice on Lake Michigan proving fatal to waterfowl

CBS Chicago: The four worst winters ever

Toxic Braids

The NaHaiWriMo theme for February 25 is “braid.”

Global Pollution


There is a huge vortex of garbage in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. Really huge. Bigger than the state of Texas.

It is a tangled mass of mostly plastic, but living things also get caught in it. What is even more damaging to ocean wildlife is that the plastic disintegrates into tiny particles over time. To the fish, these particles look like food. No one yet knows the full toxic effects of this man-made mess. Scientists and engineers are working on possible methods of clean-up, but capturing the disintegrated plastic that falls below the surface is problematic (an understatement).

Some plastics leach carcinogens into the ocean, as well as toxic chemicals that inhibit wildlife reproduction. We are making a kind of toxic slop in the ocean, which likely affects our own food supply.

If you would like more information about this issue, check out these articles. And thank you for recycling!

National Geographic – Pacific Garbage Patch

Giant Ocean-Trash Vortex Attracts Explorers

National Geographic – Plastic Breaks Down in the Ocean, After All–and Fast

Wikipedia – Great Pacific Garbage Patch



The NaHaiWriMo theme of the day is “beehive.”

All over the world, masses of honeybees have been disappearing due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Unfortunately for us humans–and for our livestock, pets, flora and fauna–honeybees are essential to the pollination of many crops. Our health is intertwined with that of the bee.

According to a recent U.S. News blog post, colonies that are stressed due to the ingestion of fungicides are not able to fend off pathogens. They are more likely to fall victim to viruses–plant viruses that are able to spread to the bee population. This is just one of many suspected interrelated causes of CCD.

The beehive has never been more important than it is today. I’m not sure I can write a haiku that will do it justice, but here is my attempt:

bee on lavendar

Disclaimer: No bees were harmed in the creation of this haiga!


To read more about CCD, check out these articles:

Colony Collapse Disorder – Wikipedia

U.S. News blog post – Another Answer to Why the Bees Are Dying


The gorgeous photo is by Tom Tolkien, one of my favorite photographers.

Check out his photostream on Flickr or follow his blog here.


Shrinking Habitat

This is in response to a recent #haikuchallenge posted on Twitter by @baffled, to compose a haiku containing the word, “attempt.”

My geology professor always said, “When the oceans die, so will we.”

When I went to college, way back in the dark ages when hippies roamed the earth, we weren’t aware of the imminence or importance of global warming.

I think if he were still teaching today, he might say, “When the polar ice cap melts, so will we.”

Atlantic ocean iceberg