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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Holiday Puproar


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Can you believe it's December already?  I can't, though we were fortunate to have our family together for a wonderful Thanksgiving visit.


My days have been starting way too early and all running together lately with pup-wrangling.  We've had our new wee beastie, a Keeshond, for about four weeks now, and he just turned five months old on Thursday.  We already love him to pieces, and he loves chewing things into pieces.  ;0)  He's getting the hang of things (house training, short walks seeing other doggies, etc., car trips...), and I've got him in a puppy class at PetCo.  My daughter Morgan, who is home with 17-month-old Sawyer, and I have been comparing days!


Though we're taking this fella out in the back yard for house training, the process reminded me of a silly poem I wrote a gazillion years ago. (Maybe not quite that long, but it's been a while.)



I Paper-trained my Puppy


I paper-trained my puppy -
he reads The New York Times.
He starts at the beginning:
the news, the views, the crimes.


Then he reads the comics,
while rolling on the floor.
He moves on to the book reviews,
the fashion, arts, and more.


After that he grabs a pen
and holds it with his muzzle.
He won't get up until he's done
the daily crossword puzzle.


I paper-trained my puppy.
I made one small mistake.
The puddle in the corner
is looking like a lake.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Usually at this time of year I'm up to my ears in Etsy orders. This year has been a little different, as with moving several months ago, traveling this fall, the new pup, and my general taking-a-while-to-get-my-act-together-in-a-new-place, I haven't done my customary making of a bunch of new things and marketing!  I've had to accept that some years I'm more together than others. 


I'm still happily shipping out orders, but I'm expecting to be up and running from my new studio full swing after the holidays instead of before.  Lots of new artsyletters items will be coming in the New Year! In the meantime, if you need any "regular" items from my shop, please feel free to use Coupon Code JINGLE10 for 10 percent off this month.  :0)


Anastasia Suen is rounding us all up this week at Small Poems - Thank you, Anastasia!  Join her on a snowy walk down Memory Lane as she recounts the sale of her first poem years ago. 

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Poetry Friday - Ella Wheeler Wilcox Thanksgiving Poem


Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Happy Almost Thanksgiving. 


I struggled with what to share this week, as I look forward to hosting family in our warm, provisioned home, while others in the world endure unspeakable pain, horror, and loss. 


I came across a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and I must confess I didn't know much about this American poet, who lived from 1850-1919.  Brief searches have me thinking her writing was often critically spurned but welcome by countless readers of her magazine contributions and her books.  She became associated with the Spiritualist/New Thought movement in the early 1900s. She also evidently championed animal rights and vegetarianism, causes I've held close for 35 years, so I'm inclined not to judge too harshly. 


Her poem "Solitude" opens with these famous lines: 


Laugh and the world laughs with you,
    Weep, and you weep alone;
The good old earth must borrow its mirth,
    But has trouble enough of its own.


 Here is her Thanksgiving poem, published in November of 1918.





by Ella Wheeler Wilcox 


We walk on starry fields of white
   And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
   We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
   To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
   Of pleasures sweet and tender.


Our cares are bold and push their way
   Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
   Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
   We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
   And conquers if we let it.


There's not a day in all the year
   But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
   To brim the past's wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
   Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
   While living hearts can hear us.


Full many a blessing wears the guise
   Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
   Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
   To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
   To gladden every morrow.


We ought to make the moments notes
   Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
   Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
   As weeks and months pass o'er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
   A grand Thanksgiving chorus.


What spoke to me more than this poem, though, was her short quote on a plaque in Jack Kerouac Alley in San Francisco, pictured above:


Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes.


-*-Sending love and light to you and yours this Thanksgiving-*-....

(Extra light to those missing someone at the table this year.  Today, Nov. 17, is the birthday of my hubby's mother, Marge, who passed away in 2019.)


Many thanks to someone I'm always grateful for, Irene, for rounding up Poetry Friday this week at Live Your Poem.


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Poetry Friday - Haiku for the Birds


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  This past Saturday, I enjoyed attending the "Almost Winter" Open Mic Zoom Event of the Southeast Region of the Haiku Society of America, organized by our fearless leader & poet extraordinaire, Michael Henry Lee.


Our featured speaker was the generous and gifted Antionette ("Toni") Libro, who shared her experiences with internationally known haiku poet Nick Virgilio (1928-1989), considered "a founder of haiku written in the American idiom." (More here.)   Libro invited Virgilio to speak to her classes at Rowan University when she taught there, and she published some of his haiku in Asphodel, the literary journal she founded and edited.


Stanford M. Forrester also shared a short presentation about Jerry Kilbride, including one of his haibun about Virgilio. Forrester founded bottle rockets press 25 years ago and is a former president of the HSA.  


Also at the virtual meeting, winners of our kukai were announced.  A kukai is a contest in which participants submit a poem on a theme, and then all of them judge the submissions (presented anonymously). For our contest, the three haiku receiving the most votes were the winners, with their authors receiving a copy of Nick Virgilio:  A Life in Haiku, edited by Raffael de Gruttola (Turtle Light Press, 2012).


Happy to report that my haiku was one of these three!  The other winners were Terri L. French and Cody Huddleston. Fine company.  The aforementioned theme was "almost winter," and my contribution was a spare one:



almost winter as the crow flies



©Robyn Hood Black


Thank you, HSA SE!


Speaking of birds (and there will likely be a raven post coming soon, after our seeing them on our Blue Ridge Parkway trip), I'm happy to highlight the latest anthology from bottle rockets press, Bird Whistle - A Contemporary Anthology of Bird Haiku, Senryu, & Short Poems, edited by Stanford M Forrester/sekiro and Johnette Downing.  The collection features bird-themed poems by more than 100 poets, including terrific haiku by the two wonderful editors.


The poems in the collection are by turns wistful, profound, surprising and humorous.


One of my favorites was penned by the above-mentioned Michael Henry Lee:



swallow tail kites

making more of the wind

than there is



©Michael Henry Lee



I have some previously published poems included as well:



one blue feather

then another

then the pile



our different truths

the rusty underside

of a bluebird



robin's egg blue

how my father would have loved

my son


©Robyn Hood Black



I have already bought an extra copy of Bird Whistle for someone special on my Christmas list. Maybe you have bird-lovers on your holiday list as well? Here's the link.


If you have a lot of them, I have some bird-y items in my Etsy shop, too! ;0) (Click  here to peruse.)


By the way, I wasn't able to stay for the open mic part of our get-together on Saturday, because we had to get back on the road with our new Keeshond puppy we had just picked up in Georgia that morning (pictured above).  His name is Rookie, but that's another story… ;0)


Flap your way on over to see Karen Edmisten, who is kindly rounding up Poetry Friday this week.  Thanks, Karen!

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Poetry Friday - Go Play in the Snow with Buffy!

Hellooooo! Another week with a wave and a send-off; I wasn't planning on being out of town AGAIN, but then I saw an online picture of a puppy available not far from where Daughter/Son-in-Law/Baby Grand live, and, well.... Shhhh! We're going to look at a puppy.  Long(ish) story, and I'll share for sure if we come back with a new family member.  ;0)  Shhhh! 

Our talented & beloved Buffy has a first-snow-filled post and poem, and the Roundup, this week.  Go enjoy! See you next week. xo

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Poetry Friday - A One-Line Haiku


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I'm finishing up my annual crazy week north of Atlanta doing school author visits, as part of Cobb EMC & Gas South's Literacy Week.  More than a dozen authors and illustrators fan out across the region reaching around 20,000 kids.  My personal tally this week is more than 2500 students, in 24 presentations.  Whew! (It's been fun sharing the new book of Fables I wrote for Core Essential Values with all these young readers & writers.)


So a very short post today, with an even shorter poem. Next week brings us All Saints Day on Wednesday. 


This haiku appears in the most recent issue of bottle rockets.



all saints day a trickle of wax



©Robyn Hood Black

bottle rockets, #49.  Vol. 25.1, August 2023.


Enjoy all the wonderful poems over at The Apples in My Orchard, where Carol is kindly hosting the Roundup today. Wishing you and yours a fun Halloween, and also comfort as we remember our own "saints" especially missed this time of year. 

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Poetry Friday - Dance over to Bridget's this week....

Hello, Friends - I had a post in my head for this week but it didn't make it out of my fingers.  Freshly back last weekend from a week-plus glorious trip to the Interntional Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough followed by all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway with my hubby, Jeff -- and now getting ready for my annual author school visits trip for Literacy Week near Atlanta. I have trip pics on Facebook. 


Besides being just, too busy, I've had a hard time focusing because of the horrific news I've caught up on this week, and the divisions and danger each day seems fraught with.  (We didn't have cell service for much of our trip, and WiFi was spotty.) But Bridget has struck a welcoming chord in the midst of all of this over at her Poetry Friday Roundup post at Wee Words for Wee Ones, and she's got some content to make you smile.  Also, wish her Happy Birthday!

(And a heads up - not sure I'll be able to wrangle a post for next Friday as I've got four full-full days of presentations, plus the travel.  But I so treasure all of you & will be back ASAP!)

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Poetry Friday - Road Trip Break - Go See Matt! (& Heidi Next Week)

Greetings from the Road! I haven't made as many Poetry Friday rounds in the last couple of weeks as I'd like; sorry to miss some fabulous posts! Hoping to catch up a bit.

This weekend and next Friday finds me on a literal road trip, so I'll be back to Poetry Friday-ing on the 20th.  Hubby Jeff & I are headed to the International Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, this weekend, and then we'll trek up to Virginia to hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway and go the whole way down.  It ends in Cherokee, NC, and we'll hop off and go bunk in Maggie Valley before heading home, which is only a couple of hours from here. (Yes, it's a crazy time for both of us to take a vacation.  Really.  But the leaves are calling....)

Taking my pens, paper, sketchbook - Happy Octobering to you & yours, and see you soon! Matt has the Roundup over at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme - stop by and get the backstory on his hot-off-the-press picture book, The Thing to Remember about Stargazing.  Congrats, Matt! And next Friday, be sure to track down Heidi, who will host over at My Juciy Little Universe

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Poetry Friday - (September Part 2) - We Did It!


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!


In last week's post, I featured Edgar Guest's "It's September" (which had a fun addendum added later, after my mother saw the post and shared with me her own experience with that poem). I also mentioned that Jeff and I were going to celebrate our engagement on Sunday, exactly 40 years later, by revisiting the place where he proposed.  As Furman students in the South Carolina Upstate, we had hiked up Table Rock, not far from campus and not far from where we moved this year. BIG thanks to everyone who left encouraging words last week for our hike!


Sunday morning, we donned our boots and grabbed our new hiking poles, and off we went! We were hopeful to make it to the top, but the trail is designated as "very strenuous," and I wasn't sure that some past injuries of mine would be keen on such an adventure.  But (drumroll...) - we did it! 


It was a gorgeous day with a bright blue sky and heaps of wildflowers.  We got there early in the morning.  They say to allow three hours up and two down; it's a 7.2 mile round trip.  We took our time and got to the top in four hours, stayed up there an hour enjoying the views (and a bald eagle fly-by), and then took three hours to make our way down. 


Did I mention, "very strenuous"? No way I would have made it without the poles. At the beginning, and at a couple-few points along the way, the trail teases you with regular ground at a gentle slope.  This never lasts long.  Most of the trail is literally huge rock stair steps that have been put on the trail, or carved out of existing rock.  Or, in more than one place, little indentations carved into a rock face, barely larger than an adult-sized foot (sideways).  Then, in other spots, there are just scatterings of rocks and boulders stacked up - and the red painted trail blaze close by on a tree. 


There were a few folks our age and older, with most younger, and, faster.  Most.  A few young ones did struggle in spots! It wasn't as crowded as I thought it might be on the first fall weekend, especially as reviews had mentioned crowds.  Reviews I'd read on the All Trails app ranged from accurate to aspirational to very funny.  One hiker said she experienced all five stages of grief on that hike.  Another said it was just several hours on a stair-climbing machine. 


Anyway, we made it up and down alive and enjoyed the challenge!  Jeff said, "Maybe we should do it every year."  I'm thinking every 40 years sounds good... so, I'll write about it again when we're 100.






     Decades of wear,

     decades of tear,

     but with more than a skip and a hop -

     we dug deep and dug in,

     put in all of our skin,

     and made it somehow to the top.


     Table Rock:

     You want wear and tear?

     Pull up a chair.

     (Though around me, I only saw stone.)

     The Rockies have nothing

     on what I once was.

     Her voice had a wistful tone.

     You talk about years?

     I shed waterfall tears.

     And yet, I still hold my own.


©Robyn Hood Black




We didn't see any bears or rattlesnakes, as had been mentioned in reviews, but one hiker ahead of us had seen a Mama bear and her two cubs, and some other young hikers had seen a rattlesnake. Shortly after we arrived at the top, however, we did see a couple of bald eagles, one flying very close to the few of us gazing at it from the rock outcropping. 




out of the blue

a bald eagle


©Robyn Hood Black


Please visit the one-and-only, creatively adventurous Jama at her Alphabet Soup for this week's Roundup. 

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Poetry Friday - "It's September" by Edgar Guest

Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville, SC, in September.


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Fall is UPON us!  I'm not ready, but I welcome it nonetheless... my favorite season. 


Last weekend I had the good fortune to gather with some dear writer/illustrator friends in north Georgia at one of their homes.  My friend lives on 30 acres, and their land includes a waterfall!  It was a glorious afternoon, and then a few of us stayed over for a "slumber party"/campout. Another of our friends is a nature author and superb naturalist/tour guide, so we were immersed in edible leaves and so many gorgeous spiderwebs by day, and a romp through the constellations at night.  I still haven't washed my jacket, because it holds that cozy woodsmoke smell. 


Now that we live in the mountains, I've been falling into longer walks and more uphill bits with thoughts of more hiking.  In fact on Thursday, I broke out the hiking boots and my little pack and went for a 5 1/2-mile walk/wee hike around Furman, some of its woodsy trails, and the paved Swamp Rabbit Trail here. I've got my sights on Sunday, but we'll see how it goes. 


Next year, Jeff and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary.  But this Sunday marks 40 years since he proposed, up on Table Rock - a state park which is not far from here at all.  So, a-hiking we will go.  I've been saying we might not do the strenuous straight-up hike - I think that option is 7-plus miles round trip, and the first three are, well, straight up. Sometimes my legs and feet remind me that over the years I've broken a foot, broken an ankle, and torn an Achilles.  (Not to mention an even worse neck/nerves injury that came my way about nine years ago.) 


BUT... I'm not sure I'll be able to resist the challenge.  And I'd love to see the view.  I'm sure my hubby will be just fine with such a hike, and we'll be tricked out with hiking poles we'll be using for the first time.  Me? We'll see!  It's sure to be beautiful, whether we trek lots of miles or just a few. 


To celebrate the autumn equinox this weekend, here's a poem by Edgar Guest, born in England in 1881.  He moved with his family to the U.S. in 1891, where he grew up to become a newspaper writer and a popular columnist and poet.  He died in 1959.  I was a little surprised at the turn at the end of this poem - worthy of a good ponder. 



It's September

by Edgar Albert Guest


It's September, and the orchards are afire with red and gold,
And the nights with dew are heavy, and the morning's sharp with cold;
Now the garden's at its gayest with the salvia blazing red
And the good old-fashioned asters laughing at us from their bed;
Once again in shoes and stockings are the children's little feet,
And the dog now does his snoozing on the bright side of the street.


It's September, and the cornstalks are as high as they will go,
And the red cheeks of the apples everywhere begin to show;
Now the supper's scarcely over ere the darkness settles down
And the moon looms big and yellow at the edges of the town;
Oh, it's good to see the children, when their little prayers are said,
Duck beneath the patchwork covers when they tumble into bed.


It's September, and a calmness and a sweetness seem to fall
Over everything that's living, just as though it hears the call
Of Old Winter, trudging slowly, with his pack of ice and snow,
In the distance over yonder, and it somehow seems as though
Every tiny little blossom wants to look its very best
When the frost shall bite its petals and it droops away to rest.


It's September! It's the fullness and the ripeness of the year;
All the work of earth is finished, or the final tasks are near,
But there is no doleful wailing; every living thing that grows,
For the end that is approaching wears the finest garb it knows.
And I pray that I may proudly hold my head up high and smile
When I come to my September in the golden afterwhile.


*THIS JUST IN*:  Late Friday evening, my mother, Nita Morgan, sent me this text:


LOVED your Poetry Friday post!  Love Edgar Guest!  Love "It's September"... I read it in Senior Assembly (September 1955), relating the beginning of our senior year as our "September" of our high school life.  We could capture the essence of September to carry us through to graduation and blossom with the splendor of Spring or we could let the cold of Winter shrink and shrivel our dreams and ambitions and we would never know what could have been. Somehow this has stayed somewhere in my memory all these years.  It comes forth every once in a while when a word or event triggers it.  Of course, I don't have the poem or my speech memorized, but his is the general idea.  I remember what I was wearing that day. So... you stirred the pot really good today with your post!


Who knew?!  I did not. Grateful to my mom for sharing!


Please visit the amazing Carol at Beyond Literacy Link for this week's Roundup; she is the goddess of marking each passing season with amazing online collections of poetry and art!

Happy Fall, Y'all.

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Poetry Friday - Go See Amy!

Howdy!  Waving on my way to the airport for a quick trip; Amazing Amy at The Poem Farm has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.  See you next week! 

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