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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - The Poems I Swapped this Summer


Thank Goodness it’s Poetry Friday – after quite a week.

I hope you and yours are safe and sound. We made it through Irma’s visit to the Lowcountry, though Monday here was wild and woolly. (Our house is on high ground. Unfortunately, some downtown businesses flooded, and there was so much damage to our local state park beach, Hunting Island, that after just barely opening after Hurricane Matthew’s devastation last October, it’s now closed for the rest of the year because of Irma’s destruction.)

With almost all of our family in Florida and North Georgia, we were glued to The Weather Channel and the cell phones. Evacuation here was not mandatory, and any friends and family we were originally planning to escape to ended up in Irma’s path! Most have power back now, though not all, and we are grateful for no injuries or serious property damage for our folks. Thoughts and prayers for so many who cannot say that this week, and for those in the Caribbean whose lives have been altered beyond recognition, and for those in Texas still reeling from Harvey.

Hurricane Season continues, but the calendar tells me we’re almost to fall. Today I’m sharing peeks of the three Summer Poem Swap poems I sent out. I’ve been so distracted this summer, I don’t think I took any pictures of the last two matted or framed! Pretend they're finished in the pictures. ;0)

For Joy Acey, I made a found poem taken from a wonderful vintage book she had given me a while back for my artistic pillaging, MARVELS OF ANIMAL LIFE by Charles Frederick Holder (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1885).


light givers,

like

moon

ripples of molten silver

appear

to

romancers of the pen in

words



I topped off the text with acrylic washes and a pearlized button, metal heart, pen nib, and watch face with patina – all vintage.

For Tabatha – Founding Mother of and Inspiration for our wonderful Poem Swaps (!) – I found myself wanting to do something with her “Poetry Monster” from a while back, after playing around with some old typewriter levers and feeling like they were some kind of fanciful creatures disguised in metal.

So on an actual 1909 map of Maryland that I clipped from an old atlas, I arranged elements from her blog, making a kind of found poem from a page posted three years ago:


Subscribe To
Wider Thoughts

Tabatha

your

Poetry
Art
Music

give us

life



(I took my ‘signature’name from that page too, from the comments!)

For fun, I arranged my fanciful creature – a magical horse? Dragon? – so that its head would arc right over Tabatha’s home town on the map.

Finally, for Amy , a haiku that came to me as spring began to fold itself into summer, while we were visiting family in Georgia. We happened upon a nest of robins in a hanging basket just outside my in-laws’ back door, about the time the babies were ready to go. Amy was in my heart as I thought of her sending her firstborn off to college.


approaching solstice
fledgling at the edge
of the nest



[Poems ©Robyn Hood Black.]


I matted the poem and sent it along. For an extra gift, in light of all the kitties Amy and her family have adopted and fostered and found homes for, I sent a new gift pack from my Etsy shop – for Cat Lovers! It includes a pack of my yin/yang – cats-on-a-rug note cards, a pewter bookmark with cats carousing from end to end, to which I’ve dangled another pewter cat charm (which is itself dangling a wee little mousie by its tail), and a magnet featuring a vintage cats US postage stamp.

A little poignant for me this week, as our beautiful Lance who photo-bombed my post a couple of weeks ago got some news that none of us wanted from the vet. He is acting okay for now, but he has cancer. He has had a good, long life and we will give him all the TLC and tuna he wants as we enter this bittersweet season with him.

Many thanks again to Tabatha for dreaming up and organizing the Summer (& Winter) Poem Swaps, and to all in this special community. If you missed any of the treasures I received from Joy, Margaret, or Michelle Kogan, just scroll back to recent summer posts!

Our magnificent Michelle Heidenrich Barnes has today’s Roundup at Today’s Little Ditty, and I’m thankful she and others in our Florida Poetry Family made it through the hurricane as well.  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - A Big Black Boot & Bottle Rockets Press (Haiku)




Greetings, Summer Poetry Friends!

I hope your season has brought fun in the sun and freedom to linger over late sunsets.

We've had a good summer over here on the coast, with a week of vacationing at the beach late last month with our visiting kids (& their dogs). I missed long walks on the beach, though, and proper frolics in the waves, as I've been trying to keep my Achilles tendon (what's left of it) in one piece since early June. It's the one I ruptured seven years ago, and for all those years until now its been fine - until an "overuse" injury sent me to my neuromuscular massage therapist/PT. (I still have to see her because of a neck injury three years ago, but that's another story.)

Anyway, she suggested the dreaded black boot. I evidently tossed the one I had before when we moved, so I had to go purchase one. I'm not in it every waking moment; I also wear an ankle brace when I have to drive, etc. - but it's been a couple of months of soaking in Epsom salts and icing and such. Soft sand is the worst for tendons and muscles, so I wore the boot clunking down the boardwalk and onto the beach, with one kitchen-sized trash bag inside as a liner and two on the outside. That actually worked to keep out sand, by the way.

One reason I'm recounting all this is because it was inspiration, as it were, for a haiku just published in the brand new issue of bottle rockets:


years later
my Achilles heel
still just that



bottle rockets, #37, Vol. 19, No. 1

If you don't know bottle rockets, it's a well respected print journal of haiku, senryu, & short verse published by Stanford M. Forrester, whom you've met here before! In addition to the journal, he also offers specialty letterpress printing services through Wooden Nickel Press. (His books are gorgeous.) Click here for more information about both.

Now, it's hard missing a big black boot, and I've actually high-fived similarly attired perfect strangers on the street in recent weeks, or at least exchanged knowing nods. Not all challenges are front and center like that, however. Did you read Tabatha's thoughtful, kind post about "invisible illnesses"? Here's the link if you missed it. I was also touched by the comments, including Margaret's, who reminds us that you might meet a cancer patient and not know it from that person's appearance.

My own wonderful mom starts chemo for colon cancer next week, after a successful but intensive surgery last month. Her attitude and faith are strong - I don't know if I could be so positive myself in her shoes! She's taking everything as it comes and responding in inspiring ways. My folks live in Orlando, and most of the rest of my family members live in neighboring counties.

I want to drive down and be with her for some of those treatment weeks (she's scheduled for a six-month course), so I've extricated myself from some volunteering, namely, the Regional Coordinator position for the Haiku Society of America. I'll still be a supportive cast member in the wings. I'm grateful that one of our generous members and oh-so-talented poets, Michael Henry Lee, has stepped up to take over.

And I'm grateful for Tabatha's insights, reminders, and open heart.

And speaking of Margaret, I just clicked to see that she is rounding up Poetry Friday today at Reflections on the Teche! Thanks, Margaret. I do love this community so!
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Poetry Friday - Summer Poem Swap Treasures from Margaret Simon


Howdy, Fellow Poetry Lovers - how is it the end of July already?

Teacher-Daughter Morgan is finishing up her classroom prep in Georgia, ready for the Meet and Greet in just a few days... And my special "guest" today will be back in the swing of school in coming days, too!

This morning I heard a "teakettle-teakettle-teakettle" chirp outside the bedroom window, and I immediately thought of Margaret Simon. She sent me the most wonderful Carolina Wren-inspired Summer Poem Swap poem, plus other treasures! (Many thanks to Tabatha for coordinating these wonderful Swaps.)

Margaret included a lovely card and note explaining that in May, she was visiting her parents and watched a Carolina Wren feeding her babies in a nest built in a flower pot. She also kindly mentioned my Carolina Wren block print/cards in my Etsy shop, and she included its image on the sheet with her poem!

[My image came about after I was smitten with a painting by Camille Engel that my good friend Peggy Jo Shaw uses as a logo for her writing & editorial business, Wren Cottage. I wanted my own reference, of course, for anything I made, though my relief print would be stylized. I set up a stack of vintage books next to a nest-filled flower pot that was on MY back porch years ago, then waited across the patio slumped in a chair for "our" wren to land on them! Many close calls before she finally lit on the books, almost an hour later, and I snapped a (fuzzy-but-good-enough) picture. ;0) ]

Here is the poem Margaret sent:


Carolina Wren

From the back porch,
we watched a cinnamon-colored bird
hop in and out
like a child bouncing
on a trampoline--
flower pot
to birch
to pine needle mulch--
           hop,
                 hop,
                      hop.

From a quivering branch,
a teakettle tweet--
Mom and Pop
tag teaming
carry insects,
caterpillars,
other crawling creatures.
Looping return--
           disappear,
                 reappear,
                      disappear.

Under rising red vinca
unkowing flowers
sway like a metronome.
A nest nook
echoes notes
from tiny, open
begging yellow beaks--
           peep,
                 peep,
                      peep.



©Margaret Simon. All rights reserved.


Isn't that SO wren-like? It makes me cheer for that little wren family.

Margaret also sent the oh-so-lovely mixed media wooden plaque in soothing blues, perfect for someone from the splashy bayou to send to someone in the balmy lowcountry! Its text reads, "Words are your paintbrush" with a little raised feature that says "DELIGHT." (I get to add it to my beautiful "Art by Margaret" poem swap collection!)

Many thanks to Margaret for these gifts, and for permission to share them this week.

[Aside: This week is also "Shark Week" on Discovery Channel.... Speaking of block print animal designs in my Etsy shop, I went a little crazy when the USPS issued some brand-new Forever shark stamps on Wednesday. I paired these with my shark note cards, made up a fun mini metal bookmark with vintage pewter shark tooth charm, and put it all together in a limited edition Shark Gift Pack. It has tooth. And charm.]

Whether your summer travels have you in the air or the water this week, please make your way on over to A Word Edgewise, where Linda - also gearing up for a new school year, I'm sure - has the Roundup and a nest-full of poetic inspiration today!
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Poetry Friday - Mac & Cheese and Too Many Cooks...

No worries - I didn't deface this particular book. Just wanted to show you the found poem with a little help from Photoshop!


Happy, Hot July!


While I typically prefer something cool this time of year, I do love me some hot and bubbly Mac and Cheese. Happy to join the ranks celebrating Macaroni and Cheese Day today! (Our Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper, Terrific Tabatha, ran with the idea, originally served up by Diane. See link at end of post.)


This week as I was pondered poetic options while in the grocery store, I noticed, to my amazement, an entire magazine devoted to Mac & Cheese! A special publication, it seems, getting a new issue for this summer because of past popularity.


I also noticed the vast array of pre-packaged macaroni and cheese dinners, taking up a good swath of aisle. Remember when it was just the little box of Kraft with the neon orange powder? (If you’re my age, I’ll bet you do.)


Macaroni and Cheese is just one of those comfort foods. My hubby loves to cook, and as kids have grown up and out, I am more likely to “fix” now and then than actually cook. But when a family in our church recently juggled some medical challenges, I offered to take over a little meal, and – you guessed it – I made some mac & cheese.

In the picture you’ll see the basic recipe I use, straight from our circa 1980s Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. . I’m not good at precisely following directions; the artist in me improvises all the time. I usually embellish with a few spices, cheddar cheese instead of American, and a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan all across the top.

I thought it would be fun to find a poem in the recipe, and most of the time I challenge myself to keep the words in the order they appear – pretty much making a black-out poem as it were, much like the one I recently sent to Joy for the Poem Swap. (I used a page from a wonderful old book she’d given me a while back. She shared it last week here. )

This week, I do not know WHAT got into me… the heat, maybe?

An innocent, familiar recipe took a surprisingly sinister turn…. Enjoy?! ;0)



Too Many Cooks: Lot’s Wife Misbehaves in the Kitchen


elbow
1 medium
cook.


all at once
till bubbly stir 1 to 2
more.


Turn into
salt.




©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Please join all the fun with Tabatha today at The Opposite of Indifference, where you’ll find more Mac & Cheesy poems and other poems for every taste. Eat up! (I’ll see you again week after next, as we’ll have our grown kids here for vacation starting today.)  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - Poem Swap Sparkles from Joy Acey (& ISSA book winner announced...)

Summer Greetings!

I hope you are enjoying some time by some body of water to enjoy poetry... or, for those of you Down Under or otherwise across the globe, some cozy reading time under a fuzzy blanket!

The Summer Poem Swap, lovingly coordinated by Tabatha , is ON. Funny, I was late getting my first poem out, and so was the person I was swapping with... Joy Acey. Ha! A perfect match.

Joy still beat me to the post office punch, however. I was delighted to open the above colorful painting with tiny letter blocks, which had traveled all the way from Hawaii. Here's the haiku:


just after the rains
over the long dewy grass
sparkling fireflies



©Joy Acey. Used with permission.

Doesn't that make you smile? (She even included instructions on how to use the shipping box as a frame!)

For me it evokes summer evenings in my Tennessee grandparents' back yard, which, back then, continued right through a fence into a hilly pasture. My brother and I would catch the blinking marvels in jars, and they seemed such a wonder.

Still do! We saw some last weekend at our little rental house in hilly Asheville while visiting Seth. Joy has some firefly-inspiring NC roots, too.

I recently shared with the HSA SE folks a firefly haiku by Issa, In David G. Lanoue's new WRITE LIKE ISSA:


the dog sparkling
with fireflies
sound asleep


Translated by David G. Lanoue.


Which brings me to.... (drumroll...) the winner of the WRITE LIKE ISSA book giveaway-- Big Congrats to Christie Wyman! (Christie, email me your real-world address, and I'll get your book on its way. Enjoy!)

Be sure to flicker on over to Random Noodling, where Diane is gathering up this week's Roundup. And for her purrrrfectly WONDERFUL feline HAIKU, scroll back through her recent posts!

Before you go, perhaps you'll leave a favorite firefly memory in the comments? :0)

(PS - I'll be traveling next week - a family member is having surgery - and might have to catch you again the week after. Wishing all a happy and safe Fourth!)
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Poetry Friday - Book Giveaway! WRITE LIKE ISSA by David G. Lanoue


Happy Summer-ing, Poetry Lovers (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway)!

Are you a haiku fan, or would you like to learn more about how to write – and/or teach – haiku? I have the PERFECT book, hot off the press and not even “formally” released yet, for you to tuck into your beach bag.

It’s Write Like Issa by one of my favorite champions of haiku, Dr. David G. Lanoue. (You’ve met David here before. Poet, author, and internationally recognized Issa scholar, he’s been the RosaMary Professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana since 1981 and recently served three terms as president of the Haiku Society of America . Learn more about David at his rich website, haikuguy.com . For more about Issa, click here, and to search through an archive of more than 10,000 of Issa’s haiku translated by David, click here.)

Now for a little gushing about this new book. Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) is beloved around the world, partly because he’s, well, so much like us. Fellow haiku masters Bashō (1644-94) and Buson (1716-1784) have lifetimes of wisdom to teach, of course. But Issa, whose personal history included much hardship, loss, and tragedy, captivates us with his compassionate, down-to-earth poetry, which also still somehow conveys joy and humor.

In a little more than 100 pages, Write Like Issa offers the reader six lessons highlighting Issa’s approach to haiku, in easy-to-navigate chapters. Issa’s own poems serve as guides, but so do poems by contemporary poets – 57 of them – who have either participated in David’s “Write Like Issa” workshops in recent years, or whose writings exemplify an Issa-like sensibility.

Here are a couple of examples from Lesson 3 – “COMIC VISION. COSMIC JOKES”:


baby grass–
the stylish woman leaves
her butt print


Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

The author writes:

…the woman, we can imagine, is young, attractive, elaborately coiffed, and wrapped in a brightly patterned kimono of the latest style. The two images exude freshness and beauty, but surprisingly, when the pretty lady rises from where she has been sitting, she leaves an imprint of crushed grass. The “delicate” woman reveals herself to be, in fact, a gargantuan smasher of grass blades, viewed from the grass’s perspective….”

One of the contemporary poems offered to illustrate this approach is this one:

dinner time–
the old cat regains
his hearing


©Stanford M. Forrester. All rights reserved. Posted with permission.

David writes,

Poets who follow [Issa’s] lead find their own revelations of odd concatenations: a “deaf” cat that miraculously hears the call to dinner, [and other examples]… .

What’s a concatenation, you ask? I looked it up. “Concatonate,” which means “to link together in a series or chain,” was actually Merriam Webster’s “Word of the Day” on May 27. Here’s a short podcast explaining it.

(And if you can’t get enough cat haiku, check out our own Diane Mayr’s new series for summer launched last Friday.)

I’m honored to have a poem included in Write Like Issa, one of the most personal poems I’ve written. It appears at the end of Lesson 4 – “BOLD SUBJECTIVITY – THE ‘I’ HAS IT:

robin’s egg blue
how my father would have loved
my son


©Robyn Hood Black; originally published in Acorn 29 (Fall 2012).

If you’re serious about haiku, I heartily recommend reading as widely as you can in scholarly anthologies and books and journals to understand the history of English-language haiku and to inspire your own writing. BUT - whether or not that is your cup of tea, you can also start RIGHT HERE with this very accessible, hands-on, how-to volume full of insights and mentor poems to get you going.

If you’re a teacher, just a few enjoyable sittings will yield a greater understanding of haiku as you introduce it in the classroom, whether in an elementary school or a university. [Note – Some lessons explore Issa’s acceptance of all aspects of human and animal life – “potty humor” and lovemaking and flatulence not excepted! These discussions here, and in workshops I’ve taken with David, are actually helping me be a bit less uptight; in case you are on the somewhat reserved side like I am(?), I thought I’d pass along.]

By the way, have you had your Issa today? You can go to Yahoo.com (Groups) and subscribe to the DailyIssa Yahoo Group to have a randomly selected haiku, translated by David, appear in your inbox every day. (This is always the first email I open!) You can also follow @issa_haiku on Twitter .

In a note with one of this week’s poems, David writes:

Part of Issa's genius is his ability to imagine the perspective of fellow creatures.

In Write Like Issa, this idea comes to life in poem after poem, whether ‘fellow creatures’ are human or non-human. I dare you to reach the end of the book without trying out your own pen, writing like Issa to capture some honest moment experienced with sensitivity and compassion, or subtle humor, or delight.

Bu wait – there’s more! I love this book so much I bought an extra copy to give away in a random drawing. Just leave a comment below, and you’re entered! Make sure it’s connected to a valid email address (not published), so I can track you down for your real-world address.

[UPDATE: Just realized I never gave a "deadline" for adding a comment to enter the drawing. Let's say Wednesday, June 28, and I'll announce on Poetry Friday the 30th.]

Can’t wait? I understand. Order here at CreateSpace or here on Amazon, where an e-book is also available.

For more great poetry of all kinds today, pay a visit to the ever-curious Carol at Carol’s Corner for this week’s Roundup.  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - A Couple of Haiku and some Purring


Greetings, Poetry Lovers - I've missed you!

The last couple-few weeks were a whirlwind of getting our recent college grad Seth home, re-tooled, and back out the door to a neighboring state for a year's internship with a lively broad-based urban ministry program. There's nothing quite like leaving your (grown-up) baby in the tough inner city. Folks there are amazing, and prayers for all of them and the folks they serve would be welcome.

This week I'll just share a couple of recently published haiku, and next week - Woo-hooo! - I'll offer a peek inside David G. Lanoue's hot-off-the-press newest book, Write Like Issa - A Haiku How-to. My contributor's copy just arrived in my mailbox and I can't wait to fully dive in.

For today, though here two other and unrelated poems - the first might remind us that as we approach the summer solstice, the wheel will turn toward fall again before we know it.


shorter days
the orb weaver gone
from her web



Modern Haiku, 48.1, Winter-Spring 2017


And the second features our above-pictured XL-sized kitty, sometimes slightly demon-possessed, 13 and still full of himself. "Lance" does love to join anyone doing yoga or meditation, though, so he has a sensitive side....


morning meditation
the cat in my lap
purrs in, purrs out



The Heron's Nest, Volume XIX, Number 2: June 2017

Poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Hope you are enjoying these long days if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, shorter ones if on the other side of the world.

Thanks to our wonderful Mary Lee for hosting the Roundup this week at A Year of Reading! Poetry in, poetry out... Read More 
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Poetry Friday - "May Night" by Sara Teasdale



Greetings, Springtime Poetry Lovers!

A simple post today, but I hope this poem makes you smile.

I've been away more than home the last couple of weeks, and on a trip to North Georgia dropped in a great used bookstore that's a favorite when in town. I came home with a couple of poetry treasures, including STARS TO-NIGHT - Verses New and Old For Boys and Girls by Sara Teasdale (New York - The MacMillan Company, 1946; 1930 original copyright; illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop).


May Night

The spring is fresh and fearless
            And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
            The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows
            I catch my breath and sing -
My heart is fresh and fearless
            And overbrimmed with spring.



Click here for a brief bio of Sara Teasdale. (Sadly, her life was not as light and springy as this poem.)

Wishing you a fresh and fearless heart as you journey through poetry today with Kiesha, hosting our Roundup today at Whispers from the Ridge.
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Poetry Friday - A Poem Postcard from Silver Star Elementary

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today's post is short, but big on color and creativity.

Many of you know that each year for National Poetry Month, our own tireless and terrific Jone Rush MacCulloch, a librarian in Washington State at Silver Star Elementary, puts together a Poem Postcard project. Students write and illustrate poems, which are sent out to lucky recipients (like me!) just for the asking in April.

I'm delighted to share the one I received this year, showcasing the talent of fourth grader L. G.:


                  Amazing American Eel
    I am as stealthy as a jar of cough syrup
                  sleek, slimy, and skinny,
                  I hope you're not hungry,
          because I am served as a delicacy
                  in some parts of the world.
                        Anguilla rostrata.


L. G.
Grade 4

Thanks for sharing, L. G.! ("Stealthy as a jar of cough syrup" - Ha!)
That eel would be safe in our house, since we're vegetarian. But maybe not safe from the big cat....

For more terrific student poetry from Silver Star, click here, and then scroll through April's posts.

For more delightful poetry of all kinds today, swim on over to A Teaching Life, where busy teacher Tara has the Roundup.
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Progressive Poem Parks Here Today!

Greetings! The Progressive Poem parks here today. Thanks for coming by. (The Progressive Poem is the brainchild of our own Irene Latham. Here's a little history & previous poems if you've stumbled upon this for the first time. See the sidebar at left for links to this year's contributors. )

I think this is the first time I’ve chimed in this late in the poem. The trick is to stay true to the poetic tale as told so far, and hand off something usable to the poets who will wrap it up. (While realizing, of course, that everybody interprets the poem differently. My thoughts are much in line with Ruth's from a couple of days ago.)

The lines between fantasy and real experience feel a bit blurred, but that works for our creative child protagonist, I think. My take is that we still have a young storyteller who has overcome obstacles/fear to share a fanciful adventure from the stage.
A freckled youngster who was a knight in the second stanza is now on stage as a “dragon pirate,” weaving colorful tales of Dragonworld sea adventures for the audience.

With only five lines to go, I feel it’s my duty to help turn this pirate ship toward its storytelling port for whatever ending awaits. Of course, the parrot has been called upon to provide a little literary “echo.”) (Many thanks to Amy for naming the parrot – Ha! I’m happy to share this bit of poetic posterity with our other Poetry Friday Robyn, too.)

My line is at the end.

------


I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges–
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!
I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.

But wait! I’ll share the lines I know by heart.
Mythicalhowls, fierytones slip from my lip
Blue scales flash, claws rip, the prophecy begins
Dragonworld weaves webs that grip. I take a trip…

“Anchors aweigh!” Steadfast at helm on clipper ship,
a topsail schooner, with sails unfurled, speeds away
As, true-hearted dragon pirate, I sashay
with my wise parrot, Robyn, through the spray.

“Land Ho!” (“Land Ho!”) We’ve hooked the whole crowd.



-----

It's all yours, Renée! (Feel free to remove/adjust that period at the end if needed.)
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