Waiting for Daylight — After Of Verona, Dark in My Imagination (a golden shovel poem)

writedark (2)

It’s four o’clock in the morning, and it’s 
blank-page quiet in the wet-ink dark.
My pen on the page is every breath in 
the stillness. Insomnia gives me my
own golden ticket to pure imagination.


golden shovel – Take a line (or lines) from a poem you like. Use each word as an end word in your poem. Keep the end words in order. Credit the original poet, ie. “-after (poet)”.



For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Waiting for (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem.

Light and Darkness

candle 2
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.
(excerpted from “Winter-Time” by Robert Louis Stevenson)
Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.
(Junichiro Tanizaki)
Learn to reverence night and to put away the vulgar fear of it, for, with the banishment of night from the experience of man, there vanishes as well a religious emotion, a poetic mood, which gives depth to the adventure of humanity. By day, space is one with the earth and with man — it is his sun that is shining, his clouds that are floating past; at night, space is his no more. When the great earth, abandoning day, rolls up the deeps of the heavens and the universe, a new door opens for the human spirit, and there are few so clownish that some awareness of the mystery of being does not touch them as they gaze. For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its stream of stars — pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time. Fugitive though the instant be, the spirit of man is, during it, ennobled by a genuine moment of emotional dignity, and poetry makes its own both the human spirit and experience.
(exerpted from chapter eight of “The Outermost House”, by Henry Beston)
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence
(excerpted from The Sound of Silence, by Paul Simon)
Today is the day I will celebrate Yule, and my Winter Solstice. I have been thinking a great deal about the longer nights, the insomnia, the shadowy days, and the lack of the sun. Truth be told, I miss her light, her warmth, and on those days this month when she has shone her face and warmed me, I have made an extra effort to get outside and soak her in.  I am eager to turn that corner of the longest night and head back toward the light, to chase through the woods at sunset as she sets fire to the tops of the trees, and warms my skin! But I’d be remiss if I left it at that. Because I am also the girl who loves the darkness, and welcomes the night, even the insomnia. I find it is a gift, to steal an hour or three of shadowy silence for spilling ink and writing poetry, is one of the great pleasures in my life.
candle yin yang
Darkness intrigues me, calls to me, begs to be celebrated. I have felt this way since very early on in my adult journey into a new experience, a new identity and spirituality that was fully my own. I remember long ago reading a post on a blog by Poppy St. Vincent, about being a woman who in the spirit of Lilith, chases her own darkness… “Maybe sometimes she has children now but she has a life away from them as well. Maybe she loves but does not obey without question. Maybe she walks her own path, thinks her own thoughts; she has the distinct smell of trouble about her. Maybe she is so restless at night because she has such dreams of desire that they will not let her rest.” …it resonated with me so deeply, that I long ago wrote about it, and that call to leave the warmth of hearth and home for a while, and chase my own darkness down the shadowed paths under moonlight. It truly changed the way I identify myself.  I have learned to embrace the darkness in me, and yes, to revel in it. I am both Raven and Moon. My blood runs inky, and I seek out the nights, the shadows, the forest paths where I run with my Wolf. We explore that darkness together, and yes, these things add depth, poetry, adventure and a spiritual richness, a “religious emotion” as Beston says. I am deeply fed by this act of embracing the night, and the darkness that is an intrinsic part of who I am, and how I’m made.
candle snuff
I have been meditating today on this longest night, and on ways to celebrate it in my own way. I will, of course, attend a small Yule celebration, and with friends and like-minded acquaintances, I will join in the ritual, light candles, make music, and welcome the light in that circle. Today alone, as I have no other day this year, I wear about my neck a chain from which is suspended a small silver charm shaped like the sun — presented to me and to all in attendance at my first Yule ritual. It seems an appropriate reminder of the light that shines in even the most troubling times, and I need that perspective. My year has had its share of heartache, and even today, I am going through a sort of darkness that I do not relish, do not chase. I am comforted knowing that it will not always be so dark as it is now in that sense. I recall for myself in these ways the truth that light is coming.
Still, my desire is to embrace that light while also honoring the darkness… like a chunk of snowflake obsidian I carry in my pocket some days, light and dark in the same small space, both creating beauty. I will carry that stone with me tonight, and I will spend some time in the wee hours, reveling in the absence of light. I will turn off my electronics, my light bulbs, blow out my candles. I will breathe and be grateful for the shadows in my life that define beauty, and provide contrast to the brightness. I will relish the stillness, the sound of silence, the quiet of four in the morning — and after a while, I will light a solitary candle, and I will write. I will do what I was made to do, what is in my blood, and bones and DNA. I’ll spill ebony ink onto my pages, to remind me that darkness too, is truly my old friend.
Candle out

Sinner — after Hozier, Someone New (a golden shovel poem)


It’s four o’clock in the morning,
know the hour, before I wake.
The beating of my heart, at 
this familiar darkness will be the 
penance to open my eyes — the first 
groaning prayer of my day. I won’t cringe. 
I shall not moan over tired bones or lack of 
sleep, I’ll flood this night-filled morning 
with words, kneel before it with ache and 
ink. I’ll spill this blood to write my 
pain across the sacred page, until my heart’s 
low hymn becomes an echo — already
chanting, rhythmic cries of sins I’ve sinned. 
golden shovel – Take a line (or lines) from a poem you like. Use each word as an end word in your poem. Keep the end words in order. Credit the original poet, ie. “-after (poet)”.
For today’s prompt, write a mistake poem.
For more information, check out– http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2015-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-9.

Burned Upon Her Skin


I wrote a poem a few weeks ago, about my girlfriend, and her love of the woods. She and I have been enjoying this brief Autumn season, and escaping to the nearby hiking trails as often as the weather and our schedules allow — sometimes together, sometimes separately, chasing light and shadows, solitude and mental health. I posted more recently about how that is affecting my personal journey, in a post titled “The Way of Beauty”.

I’ve been sharing poetry with this amazing woman since we started dating, two months ago. I’ve introduced her to my favorites, like Tyler Knott GregsonBilly Collins, and Rives. She seems to love my addiction to language, and to not mind that I write poetry about my love for her.

In fact, a little over a week ago, she was planning a trip home to visit family (and her tattoo artist) and asked me how I felt about her incorporating some of my poetry into a tattoo. My immediate response was, “Of course! Once I share my poems, they belong to whoever reads them!”  She didn’t tell me which poem; she wanted to keep that a surprise, so no photos or hints until I picked her up from the airport on Sunday.

She’d been gone for four days, and when I met her in the waiting area just outside the terminal, I was breathless, struck by how amazing she looked in my favorite black shirt and some new plaid suspenders. I couldn’t stop  hugging and kissing her — and more than once I caught random strangers smiling at us.

I didn’t see the tattoo on her arm until she was loading her suitcase into my car, and though I expected to love it, I didn’t anticipate the feelings that washed over me. My throat constricted on the word, “Oh!” and my eyes welled up with tears. My words, spilled for her from my own pen, were etched into her beautiful skin, so she could see them for the rest of her life. I couldn’t stop touching them, tracing the letters with my fingers. I’ve been lucky enough to have my work published before, but I don’t think I will ever feel the way I felt standing there, reading her arm.


The fantastic thing, is that the words are hers. They belong to her — belong on her body. They fit, and always will. That’s what happens when we send our words out into the world. Those who read them make them their own, bring them to life. They are made richer, deeper, and more breathtaking. It’s a thing that always amazes me about writing poetry. What a wild, wonderful privilege it is to witness!


The poem in its entirety, is posted below. I hope you find something in it, gentle reader, that speaks to you, and as always, I thank you for doing your part, reading my words, and making them live.




The scent of wind is burned upon your skin —
You’ve run with wolves, while howling at the night,
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

I know the weight of life has worn you thin —
Within your eyes a hunger burns so bright,
The scent of wind is burned upon your skin.

I hear the echoes of your howls again —
I hope that you’ve been strengthened by your flight.
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

You look at me, and my head starts to spin —
I find my thoughts are rude and impolite!
The scent of wind is burned upon your skin.

I can’t control this flood I’m holding in —
I ache to break for you, to scream and fight,
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

The smell of you turns all my flesh to sin —
till every touch becomes a sacred rite,
The scent of wind is burned upon your skin,
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.



The villanelle is a French form, consisting of five tercets and a quatrain with line lengths of 8-10 syllables. The first and third lines of the first stanza become refrains that repeat throughout the poem.





Risky Business


So you want to love a poet? I can tell. I see the light in your eyes when I mention it, see how your skin ripples with that frisson of life as you nod enthusiastic assent. I know well this thrill you feel! I can assure you. There is a sort of romance in the idea, an excitement — I know you see, for I have loved a few poets in my life. They are a magical breed, an odd lot who see the world through a slightly different lens. I have loved them, yes — and lived to tell the tale — though perhaps, the reason is that I too am a poet. It is ink that runs through my veins, and I know what it is like to be loved by one who may not truly know what a messy, wonderful, risky thing this loving a poet can be.

I am here to tell you a truth — there is a risk to giving your love to a poet. I admonish you, do not enter her world blindly, seeking to know her heart, drawn by the magic you see like fireflies to tall grass in a summertime back yard. We are a lot of scrappers. We are able spies. We are thieves. We will do whatever it takes to ply our lyrical trade, to work our spells and create our poetic art. You — especially if we are in love with you, too — are not safe from our trickster ways! Consider this fair warning, we are good at what we do. There is no other way, it is in our genes, in our blood, and it is what you risk, when we choose to share our hearts with you.

A clever poet will a rifle through your pockets, scrabble through your text messages, raid your innocent (and not so innocent) conversations —  for language, for phrases that either please our ears or prick our skin. We’ll even steal from those odd and funny things you mumble when you’re talking in your sleep. We’ll carry pocket notebooks, and stubby pencils, licking the lead once or thrice before we jot them down on scraps of paper, fill our own pockets, steal napkins and matchbooks, text ourselves  to catch thousands of letters and words, just so we can stash them away, sift them through our fingers, like a king counting gold coins in the depths of his castle, as the magpies look greedily on.

We will watch you hawkishly, like spies, alert for the slightest change in your facial expressions. We’ll make note of the way your body moves when you shift in your chair, or stroll toward us up the driveway. We’ll watch the way your mouth moves when you smile, and the way your breath catches in your throat when you say our name. We will record every hungry, probing kiss, every blazing touch that sets our skin on fire, we will make ebony ink from the ashes and and we will spill that ink, in copious amounts, attempting to capture the essence of these moments with you. We are bound by our very nature to repeat this exercise a hundred thousand times or more, for as long as you allow us to, chasing your light, your darkness, your essence, with our ink stained fingers gripping worn out pens.

We will steal from you, the notes you scratch on the edges of the pages in your favorite books, your late night love song dedications, your starry-eyed gazes at the full moon in the midnight sky, your rumbling growls of desire and your steamy sighs of satisfied release. We will listen in, as you sing in the shower, or tell jokes to your friends, we will draw from your your childhood stories, like pirates stealing jewels and gold doubloons. We will take whatever we can — your beating heart, your faltering breath, your ability to think, to form sentences, to express yourself clearly — so intoxicated will you be on the air we breathe. Are you prepared to surrender these things, to love us? For this is the risk of loving a poet, I can tell you there’s nothing more true. The costs should be carefully weighed, before you choose.

But take heart my friend, for the rewards of loving a poet are many, and may well outweigh the price you’d pay. The treasure lies in the music of our verses, the passion in our lovemaking, the soft sounds that spill from the backs of our throats, the ecstasy of meeting our eyes across a crowded room. These things will be worth the risk, if you truly love one of us.   We will help you see the world with new eyes, show you how the trees sing to the night sky, and the way the shadows march across the hill in a fiery sunset. We will point out the way the sunlight creates the shadow, defining the beautiful curve of a face, and how a dotted yellow line unfurls like ribbon down an endless highway — we’ll make you want to chase it like a playful cat. You’ll find our inky fingerprints on your tingling skin, and note how our spoken rhymes match the rhythm of your beating pulse. We will be the drums that move your hips and feet, and remind you how wonderful it is just to be alive.

So come with us, if you dare. Fall in love with a poet, and dance along the edge of the sea. Empty your pockets, your heart, and your mouth of the words we need, and we will repay you a million times over, with music and beauty and love. We will write you into our lives with indelible ink, and you will be the poem we create. Keep calm, and fall in love!

Spilled Milky Way (a golden shovel poem)


This summer night is overflowing
with glittering ink from the heavens
from an upturned bottle of
ebony, running thickly, squandered
against a pin-pricked page of stars


POETIC FORM – Golden Shovel

-Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
-Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
-Keep the end words in order.
-Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
-The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.
-If you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.

From My Bookshelf (found poetry)


the gentleman poet
bedtime stories
of gravity and angels
the traveler’s gift
an uncommon education
where I’m from



some remarks
sweet fire
her fearful symmetry
the gifts of imperfection
deep purple
a night without armor
illegible address
sure signs
love is hard work



I thought it was just me
in the company of Rilke
pleasure and purpose
words, words, words
the sum of our days



Found Poetry

These poems were created using only the titles of stacked books from my own personal library.

She Swallowed the Moon


The night when she swallowed the moon,
its light gave a glow to her skin.
She felt transformation begin
at midnight the second of June.

She hummed a sweet song, out of tune
and danced like a top set to spin.
The night when she swallowed the moon,
its light gave a glow to her skin.

The stars all about her were strewn
like fireflies drunk on sloe gin.
Though she had no ink for her pen,
silvery words dripped from her spoon,
the night when she swallowed the moon.


A French form, similar to the rondeau and the triolet, consisting of 13 eight-syllable lines in three stanzas.
Rhyme scheme = ABba/abAB/abbaA

When You Let Me


When you let me —
I will love you fiercely.

I will be deliberate
aggressive and honest
in my commitment
to your good, your health
and happiness

When you let me —
I will love you relentlessly.

I’ll tell you with words
with ink and paper
and poetry, how
my love for you tastes
looks and smells,
sounds and feels

When you let me love you —
I will do it holistically.

I will let you inside my mind
show you my fears
and convictions

I will share all my emotions,
ecstasies and disappointments
my sorrow and my joy

When you let me love you —
I will surrender my body.

My arms and shoulders
all the breath in my lungs
offer up my ample hips
strong legs and my sex

I will lavish you with love
from my star-filled eyes
my mouth dripping words
and my ink-stained fingers

When you let me love you —
I will open my sacred spirit.

I will pour out my dreams,
my whimsy and wild-child imagination
I will love with all the magic and
wonder a universe can hold

I will love you, truly,
all your broken bleeding pieces
with all my cuts and bruises
we will be two breathtakingly
vulnerable lovers:

your different-drummer musical beat
and your paint-spattered heart
my bare feet in the grass
pure poetry in my veins

When you let me love you–
I will inspire you.

to dance with words
to spill your own ink
and you will move me to dance,
play with color, paint
with my own vibrant hues

I will borrow your convictions,
your mantras and passions
use them to fuel and alter my own
I will grow and evolve,
sculpt better versions of myself

I will share each and every one
— when you let me love you.

Kiss the Words (an erasure poem)

WorldsGreatestLoverPoem (2)

My dearest
I wrote you
like one out of reason

at night when
my passion gets
entirely impossible,
I fear you think me
a little mad.

I have never known
any happiness as ours–
Will you write me
and intoxicate me–

Write the softest words
kiss them that I may
touch my lips
where yours have been.

-Pen Connor 2015


POETIC FORM: An Erasure Poem




To earn the “Picture It” badge, take your inspiration from Tom Phillips’ A Humument (http://www.tomphillips.co.uk/humument/slideshow/1-50) and create a poem that’s part erasure, part art. Instead of simply marking out the text you don’t need, use markers, crayons, paint and other materials to turn it into a picture. Not a strong artist? Experiment with collage, using cutouts from magazines and other sources to obscure your un-used text. Scan your completed work — or take a picture of it — and upload it to the site. Cite your source text at the bottom of your post.

PoMoSco (Poetry Month Scouts)
Found Poetry Review’s 2015 National Poetry Month Project

– April 2015 – 213 poets joined together as a troop to earn digital merit badges for completing experimental and found poetry prompts.
– Prompts are divided into five categories – remixing, erasure, out and about, conceptual and chance operation.
– Each category offers six distinct badges to be earned.
– Poets choose their own source text.
– For more information, check out pomosco.com.

A dear friend and fabulous poet, Von Thompson, is a participant. When she told me about the challenge, I decided to play along at home.


SOURCE TEXT: TheWorld’s Greatest Love Letters compiled by Michael Kelahan, page 196