icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Wee Little Break... Go see Linda M.!

Happy SUMMER!  Taking a wee break with some traveling thrown in these next couple of weeks.  Please go visit Linda at A Word Edgewise this week, and Irene at Live Your Poem on the 30th.  (And bring your favorite moon poem to Irene's!) See you soon and Happy Reading, Writing, Creating, and Sun-Basking.... xo

Be the first to comment

Poetry Friday - Old Poems for a New Season

The lake at Furman University.  Photos by Robyn Hood Black. 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Summer officially starts next week. Here in upstate SC, we've had a record cool June.


We've also had some haze from those Canada fires last weekend, believe it or not, though nothing like you poor folks in the Northeast have had to deal with (and Midwest now?).  Last weekend, after a front passed through and the wind changed direction, the air was clear and beautiful.  One great thing about living near Greenville is that we are only about 8 miles north of our alma mater, Furman University.  It has a gorgeous campus and a lake that we walked/ran around 40 years ago and enjoy walking around now.  On Sunday, I snapped the above photo after that front moved through.


On South Carolina Public Radio, we have a feature I've always loved - "Nature Notes" with Rudy Mancke.  It's a minute-long segment sprinkled throughout each  weekday's programming, often featuring a question from a listener about some kind of creature discovered in a back yard or under a rock or such.  But often Mr. Mancke will share a classic poem about the natural world, as he did this week, and I thought the verses went well with the fulsome green glory of summer.


From his June 13 post:


this excerpt from a poem by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)


And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:


[You can see more here.]


and these words by English author Mary Russell Mitford (1787-55)


What a glowing, glorious day -

Summer in its richest prime,

Noon is in its most sparkling brightness,

Little white clouds dappling the deep blue sky.

And the sun, now partially veiled and bursting through with an intensity of light.


[I am not sure if this was originally written as prose or poetry; apologies if my formatting is all wrong!]


Finally, on a walk around Furman's lake again Thursday afternoon before storms came through, I came upon a plaque I'd never investigated before.  It bears a poem by Frank Burt Morgan Jr., and I can't really tell you who he was.  I did look online and found information on findagrave.com about a Frank Burt Morgan (1887-47) who lived in these parts, graduated from Wofford, and was in banking and business for many years.  


Nature's Shrine


Have you not wandered in the wood

To some secluded spot and stood

Surrounded by sublime beauty,

And all forgetful of your duty,

Contented thus for hours to stand

And admire works of God's great hand

In a veritable flower garden where

You drank the perfume of the air,

Sweet music's temples were resound

Strains, melodious and profound

Harmonious about you heard

The gurgling brook and singing bird?


Ah yes, there is a brighter shrine,

A place where all is bright sunshine,

A grander calmer of our hours,

A world with birds and scented flowers,

A place of music where each day

Soothes us in our angrier way;

Here lies a royal painted throne

Where each is monarch of his own,

And under his supreme survey

The rounded world pursues its way.


Frank Burt Morgan, Jr. 




Here's to a summer full of hours surrounded by sublime beauty!  I will mention that though I hadn't planned to stop on my walk (it's almost a two-mile jaunt around the lake), I was drawn like a magnet to a bench in front of a wee pond just off the path.  I was glad I sat there for a short bit, because I got an unexpected chuckle.  Late yesterday, daughter Morgan had sent me a video of one-year-old Sawyer carrying on from his playpen because she had dared to leave his sight to fix his dinner. While sitting on the bench, I was drawn to a dramatic little raucus on a patch of grass across the pond.  A young crow was harrassing a parent with incessant cawing and hopping about, my guess is for a snack?  The parent continued pecking around on the ground and "ignoring" the youngster.  The smaller bird hopped off into the cool undergrowth for a moment.  Then it came back out and pulled the same routine with (I'm guessing) the other parent - or at least another grown-up crow. With no satisfaction there either, it finally quieted down and then hopped into the edge of the pond for a quick splash.


Hop yourself on over to Michelle Kogan's colorful corner of the web, a place most welcoming to birds and flowers, and enjoy this week's Roundup!

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Bop on over to Buffy's

Wellll.... been in and out of town and didn't scare up a post this week for Poetry Friday, but lots of other folks did.  Be sure to visit the oh-so-talented and super smart Buffy Silverman for this week's Roundup!  Thanks, Buffy. 

Be the first to comment

Poetry Friday - First Birthday Poem!


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  How did it get to be June so fast?


We had a delightful visit from our baby grand, Sawyer, last weekend.  (The picture was one of my favorites from the weekend - that's my hubby, Jeff , aka "Baba.") In a few days, we'll be celebrating Sawyer's first birthday! 


He's grown from a beautiful wee bairn into a snuggly, music-loving, baby-engineering, dog-bowl splashing, truck-admiring, mischief-making singer of mysterious songs.  He is a voracious lover of books, and has recently started "reading" them himself, with the pictures turned the right way, even. Also, he's a dumper of laundry baskets, little trash cans, and toilet paper from the roll. He's on the move most of the time, except for the occasional "Ms. Rachel" break in his special chair. He's stolen all of our hearts and we can't wait to see where he'll go next!  (Babyproof, people!)


Here's a little ditty to celebrate.


                  You're the ONE!

                   (for Sawyer)


              Look at you, Baby - 

              Look what you've done.


              You made your first trip 

              around the sun!


              Here's to another

              year of fun.


              Here's to you - 

              Hooray!  You're one!


             ©Robyn Hood Black.


We're so proud of his parents - our Morgan and hubby Matt, and their oh-so-patient lab, Maggie.  Uncle Seth (& Aunt Ginnie) keep Sawyer entertained & full of joy, too.


Wishing you much to revel in this summer.  Speaking of which, Happy Pride Month to all who celebrate!


For bushels of poetry, visit the ever-talented Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for this week's Roundup. 

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Epigrammatically Speaking...

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!


I finally hit "send" on this year's regular freelance writing gig I've done for more than a dozen years. (Lost count.)  I write three components of a nation-wide character education curriculum, Core Essentials Values.  This adventure started when we lived in Georgia, and the folks at the helm were women I knew.  They needed some writers and contacted me, and I jumped aboard.  My regular assignments have evolved over the years, but here's what I do.  Each month of the school year has its own value (say, "compassion" or "respect" or "commitment" or some such.)  As part of the elementary school curriculum, I come up with an animal to represent each value, and a color to represent each value, and a little set of quotes for each month as well. (I love seeing the animals and colors magically appear on the yearly poster & graphics.  And I love that many of the materials are in Spanish as well as English.)


Each nonfiction animal description runs about 250-280 words; each "reason for the color," about 100 words (also nonfiction).  I do love me some research, and these little gems require a lot of it.  For the quotes, I search far and wide to find sayings or quotations that relate to the value and/or its definition. That might sound easy, but it's involved, too.


For one thing, I use old quotes.  I don't want to get into any sticky copyright situations.  Also, voices from the past have a lot to teach us, even though time marches on and our society changes and evolves.  I take care with these, and don't claim to always get it exactly right.  If you simply search for quotes online, you'll find a zillion websites, many attributing the same quotes to the same folks, but despite the colorful, uplifting graphics and bold fonts, these are not always well researched.  So my trust level for authenticity has been honed through the years. 


It's also a challenge sometimes trying to find diverse voices, but I try.  If you think about it, whose voices were most likely to be solidified in print 50 or 100 or more years ago?  Yep.  And I have nothing against white men - I've been happily married to one for decades.  But I try to incorporate perspectives from women and writers of color whenever possible as well. 


If you love quotes, I do have one site to recommend: Dr. Mardy Grothe's website, particularly his "Dr. Mardy's Dictionary of Metaphorical Quotations."  You will find sources for each entry, as well as some helpful "error alerts" for quotes commonly misattributed or misused. I do also use books, especially antiques - one of the hundred-plus-years-old ones I have has 40,000 quotes - and I love literary and museum sites.  I try to collect quotes throughout the year.  What does any of this have to do with Poetry Friday?


I frequently meander down roads less travelled when I'm writing, and this week I stumbled into a patch of epigrams.  Well, I was using a quotation from the fella pictured above, François VI, Duc de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680), and discovered that the work he is famous for is his Maximes, which include 500 astute/often biting nuggets of observation about being human.  Aphorisms such as:


On ne donne rien si libéralement que ses conseils - "We give nothing so generously as…advice."  


I didn't realize how many classic writers were drawn to reading and writing these literary cordials. The haiku poet in me, trying to squeeze multiple drops of meaning out of a very few words, was/is intrigued.  And while La Rochefoucauld's name was not on the tip of my tongue, I learned he influenced many later writers, from Voltaire to Thomas Hardy to Friedrich Nietzsche, to name a few. My epirgram detours this week occurred primarily in the online Encyclopdia Britannica.  I'm old enough to remember having a whole, hard-copy set in our home when my brother and I were young!  So it has a special place in my psyche. Here are a couple more for you, with Britannica links below. 



I saw a Flie within a Beade

Of Amber cleanly buried:

The Urne was little, but the room

More rich than Cleopatra's Tombe.


Robert Herrick (1591-1674)


(Herrick gave us  "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.")




What is an Epigram? A dwarfish whole,

Its body brevity, and wit its soul.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)




For more about our French duke, click here.


For more about epigrams, click here.


To gather rosebuds with Robert Herrick, click here.


To revisit Samuel Taylor Coleridge, click here



And to come back to the 21st Century and lots of great poetry, visit our lovely and talented Patricia at Reverie.  Thanks for hosting, Patricia! Wishing all a safe and memorable Memorial Day weekend, with special thanks to military families. Prayers for those who are remembering precious loved ones, especially. 

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Visit Janice at Salt City Verse!

Another week as a signpost - I LOVED hosting last week!  It had been a while since I rounded up all you wonderful poetic peeps.  This week I got myself behind with a writing deadline (shocker), so I'm just waving and pointing - I'm sure Janice will have something inspiring at Salt City Verse; enjoy visiting all the poetic bloggie goodness! 

Post a comment

Poetry Friday Roundup is HERE! Happy Mother's Day...

Black-and-white photos by Sommer Daniel.


Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I'm honored to be hosting Poetry Friday this week.  Please leave your links & descriptions in the comments below, and I'll round them up old-school-style throughout the day.


Happy Mother's Day weekend!  Let's acknowledge right out of the gate that this is a tough time for many.  If you are missing your mother, or you have lost a child, or you've had a less-than-ideal relationship as a mother or a child, or if you are longing to be a mother and it hasn't worked out, you are wished comfort and peace this weekend.


I'm feeling beyond grateful that our daughter, Morgan, is experiencing her first Mother's Day this year. (She only missed it by a couple-few weeks last year, as our wee Sawyer is 11 months old.)  This precious boy was wanted for a long time, after a few hard years of empty arms and fertility treatments.  Hats off to any woman willing to go through all those long needles for months and months and months or more.


I'm also beyond grateful that my spunky 84-year-old mother, Nita, a cancer survivor among other challenges, is doing well and has been able to love on Sawyer herself - most recently in the snapshot above from April.  (The black and white photos were taken last fall.) While Jeff & I are closer to our kiddos after our recent move, I'm afraid Florida, where my folks live, is down a longer stretch of road now.  But kudos to Mom who, despite vision problems, has learned how to text and enjoy (almost daily) pictures and videos of baby antics. 


Here's my poem for today, a haiku written not long after Sawyer was born:



new mother's whisper

the strength

of spider silk 


Frogpond, Vol. 45, No. 3 Autumn 2022


©Robyn Hood Black



In other poetry news, I'm enjoying The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry by Charles Ghigna and illustrated by Sara Brezzi (Schiffer Kids, just out).  Gorgeous!  And that's a feat worth celebrating, having a body of work large enough to comb through to make a treasury, am I right?  This is a great volume to share among generations. In case you missed it, our lovely Jama posted a fulsome interview with Charles and peeks inside the book over at Jama's Alphabet Soup here


May is a super-busy month, I know.  Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all you educators! Also, take care of yourself and appreciate National Mental Health Month, and thanks to folks like my hubby who devote their professional lives to improving mental health for others. 


So, what's going on in your realm this week? (Yes, I did wake up at 5 a.m. to watch the coronation last Saturday!) I can't wait to read what you've got to share. 


(Unrelated PS - For those who follow artsyletters, I posted some in-progress new studio pics over at artsyletters.com here. I'll do a 'tour' when I get a little more together!)


* * * * * * * * THE ROUNDUP * * * * * * * * 


Janice Scully starts us off with a haiku and an appreciation for the timing of blooming things - her lilacs are in full purple glory here at Salt City Verse. Happy Spring!


Over at Chicken Spaghetti, Susan has a beautiful cento created from the poetry of Gabriela Mistral, presented in Spanish and English with her original translations.


At Small Reads for Brighter Days, Laura has a day-brightening and sigh-worthy poetryaction (say that out loud & learn more at her site!) to the picture book Milo Imagines the World. 


Linda has two bright and springy original haiku and a padlet link to her charming triolet (all writers will relate!) at A Word Edgewise today.  One of these days, Linda and I are going to collage together in person....


You will leave anything BUT blue if you wing it on over to Jama's Alphabet Soup for a serving of Sidney Wade's poem, "Blue."  (I am loving all these poetic encounters with birds this morning.  Though I had my alarm set a little early because I was hosting PF, it was really a Carolina Wren on the fence outside my bedroom window which got me up today....)


No one can accuse our Tabatha of not branching out into many magical (and sometimes wild) directions. At The Opposite of Indifference , she's celebrating originality with lyrics from "Crooked Tree" with a video of Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway.  (She also has a snippet from the brand new Poetry Out Loud winner as a bonus!)


Our multi-talented Michelle Kogan chimes in with a gorgeous original oil painting detail and some more poetic bird-love (an original 4X4 poem) celebrating Mother's Day.


Three cheers for Catherine at Reading to the Core for forging ahead toward the finish line of her April/Poetry Month project with poems of hope featuring the letters "v" and "w"!  That's my kind of timeline, btw... I particularly love her golden shovel today, inspired by lines from GMH I have hanging up in my house.


At Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, Matt stumbled upon some buried treasure in his files - an original five-year-old poem that packs some Springtime punch in just four lines and 12 words! Bravo.


Rose has a tribute to dogs over at Imagine the Possibilities, with some lines from the incomparable Mary Oliver and a thoughtful original poem. (Warning - have a tissue handy; I am still grieving the sudden loss of our wee Rita and did not make it through the post dry-eyed.  Thank you for putting so much of what we love about dogs in these words, Rose.)


Keep the tissue handy.  Linda at Teacher Dance has collected and shared responses of kindnesses noted by many of you recently at her blog (and new folks are always welcome to the Poetry Friday table - and folks who have had to be dipping in and out, like yours truly this Spring!). Kindness itself is poetry, isn't it?  Go fill your cup!


Why do you write?  Dave tackles this question by responding with an original poem over at Leap of Dave and shares a bit about a local poetry workshop he participates in. 


Give a nod to Edward Lear and then head over to see Sally for a quick celebration of Limerick Day!  Sally's post might be concise, but she's been long on sharing poetry goodness with young writers and readers this week.


Cue the CONFETTI - lots of it!  Marcie Flinchum Atkins has not one, but TWO amazing-sounding book publication announcements this week!  One is for a nonfiction nature picture book, and the other is for a historical verse novel about an activist in the women's suffrage movement. Way to go, Marcie!  She also shares a Spring haiku and some lovely pictures of blooms... I'd like to gather up all of this week's PF flower pictures in a garden, and all of this week's PF birds to flitter around them. 


Speaking of birds, you know Amy is always finding amazing things at The Poem Farm, and she carries that spirit of noticing when she travels, too, as she did while traveling to visit a school this week. "We can each be a beauty detective," she says.  Enjoy her fetching feathered foto and original poem - dare you not to smile. 


At Bookseed Studio, enjoy Jan's latest post wrapping up Poetry Month.  I'm always inspired by the wonder that is Jan. 


Over at My Juicy Little Universe, you'll encounter Heidi exploring what it is like to be a bat, with a nod to one of my fave recent books about the animal realm, Ed Yong's An Immense World. You'll also encounter the word 'azimuth' in her original poem, which I had to look up. ;0) Don't ask me to tell you what it means, though, K?


Margaret has a touching tribute to mothers and mothering at Reflections on the Teche.  She is also honoring generations of mothers in her family.  (There's also a bluebonnet-beautiful photo of Baby June and an original poem by Margaret celebrating her name.)


At Live Your Poem, Irene delights us with a free-wheeling and lovely Gees Bend-inspired quilt, and with two versions of a "yellow parasol" haiku as part of her ARTSPEAK adventures.  And, dear reader, she's asked you to weigh in on which one is more effective!  


Mary Lee at A(Nother) Year of Reading has pure joy for a post today.  Well, I mean, she has a new book by Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido with illustrations by Melissa Sweet: How to Write a Poem.  Released in April, it looks/sounds amazing and I might have just ordered it. My favorite parts of Mary Lee's post, however, are the poetic comments from young readers and writers.  (Mary Lee couldn't quite stay away from teaching reading after retiring from the classroom and is involved in after-school programs, still inspiring lucky kids.)


It's time to dance.  No matter your current life situation, whether bathed in grief or joy, join Patricia at Reading, Writing, Wondering for meaningful movement, as well as a snowy poetic evening contemplation with a dog. 


And we're back to pure joy with Karen Edmisten's post sharing Ross Gay's poem, "Throwing Children," about the ubiquitious delight children crave by being tossed into the air (and safely caught) by a loving grown-up.  


At The Apples in my Orchard, Carol shares a very personal bit of her family's experience navigating her mother's dementia, and the extra miles they go because of the miles between them.  Thank you for your beautiful poem and honest post, Carol.  Many will understand and identify with these bittersweet moments. 


Oh, Friends - you'd never believe from the calm and peaceful post and pretty, blooming images Carol has at Beyond Literacy Link that they've had quite the week so far in the Mother-Daughter-new-baby-to-be department, according to her comment below.  Happy Mother's Day to all, and love from all of us Poetry Friday peeps to greet the new little one soon! I'm impressed that in the midst of all the excitement, Carol made time to sit and be and compose haiku and a lovely post. 

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Head Over to TeacherDance!

Greetings, Poetry Loving Friends!  Just a signpost again here this week - I'm on the road again.  (I know, I know... it's been a lot!)  Speaking of On the Road Again, Happy 90th to Willie and Congrats on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  But I digress.  And yet, that man is a poet too. 

Just wanted to point the way to our lovely, talented and generous Linda over at TeacherDance this week for the Roundup, and also wanted to assure you all that I haven't forgotten it's MY turn to host next week! :0)  See you then!!

Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Head Over to Ruth's!

Just waving - ended up running an errand for a friend today and didn't get a post up. But I hope you've been able to partake of more Poetry Month goodness than I have this year.... no more moves planned over here! Please enoy the final Poetry Friday of Poetry Month hosted by our lovely Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town.  She's rounding up from Uganda! Congratulate her, too, on 17 years of blogging.  :0)

Be the first to comment

Poetry Friday - Happy Earth Day and a Nod to Mark Nepo


Greetings, Poetry Lovers! I hope you've been able to partake of more Poetry Month goodness than I have this year - still settling in after my big move, but with road trips mixed in. Last week I fetched my folks, who drove halfway up from Florida to rendezvous with me at a Lowcountry VRBO, and then I brought them up here to the the SC "Upcountry" to enjoy several days with our kiddos, their dogs, and of course, the baby grand (10 months old now). Very grateful for the opportunity to be together as four generations. Just got back from the return trip.


Among the wonderful conversations volleying back and forth last weekend, I enjoyed hearing my hubby and son discuss a brand new book of poems by Mark Nepo (cover pictured above).  This wee post is not a review of the book, as I've barely gotten my footing in it.  But I look forward to further explorations, especially because it's a collection of Nepo's poems written in his 50s and 60s. As one who has recently turned 60, the words resonate! Plus, the title intrigued me.


Hubby Jeff and son Seth are far more well read than I in the areas of spirituality and healing and the like. (Jeff's an attending psychiatrist with additional experience in Ayurveda, end-of-life challenges, and energy medicine, and Seth is one of the pastors of an inner city church primarily serving the unhoused community and others in the margins.)


Mark Nepo is a New York Times Bestselling Author, best known for The Book of Awakening. One of the many endorsements in his new book is from Naomi Shihab Nye:  "Mark Nepo is a Great Soul.  His resonant heart - his frank and astonishing voice - befriend us mightily on this mysterious trail."


About The Half-Life of Angels, Nepo says: "Now in my seventies, I am committed to putting my life's journey with poetry in order. The result will be the publication of several volumes of poetry. The Half-Life of Angels is the first of these volumes." You can learn more about Nepo and his life and work here


Since we're celebrating Earth Day, I thought sharing the opening of this poem below from Nepo's website would be timely.  To me it deals more with inner landscapes than outer ones, but the survival of the Earth depends on us to develop our capacity for love, does it not?


Earth Prayer


by Mark Nepo


O Endless Creator, Force of Life, Seat of the Unconscious,
Dharma, Atman, Ra, Qalb, Dear Center of our Love,
Christlight, Yaweh, Allah, Mawu,
Mother of the Universe...


Let us, when swimming with the stream,
become the stream...
Let us, when moving with the music,
become the music...
Let us, when rocking the wounded,
become the suffering...


Let us live deep enough
till there is only one direction...
(Click here to read the poem.)


 Be sure to enjoy all the inspiring Kidlitosphere-ish offerings for Poetry Friday this month - Jama has a handy roundup here!  And for this week's Roundup, visit the lovely Karen Edmisten here.

Post a comment