Beach Haiku

Photo © Andreas Fozzman, Flickr Creative Commons

How to Find a Shark’s Tooth Fossil

Sift sand, search shore, ‘til
Wave withdraws, revealing a
Miniscule jewel

© 2013 Stephanie Parsley

Night Sketch 1

Photo © 2014 Stephanie Parsley

At the foot of my bed lies the sleeping cat, neither curled nor stretched, just gently curved, head resting on paws.

On the floor beside me lies the sleeping, sighing, elderly dog, paws twitching, twitching, breaths short, then longer, pausing, then starting again. To my left lies my sleeping husband, chest already steadily rising and falling after the week of commuting and work. Across the hall sleeps my sweaty daughter, hair smelling of dust, tired from the day of play, tantrums, and talking (so much talking), clutching her stuffed Minnie Mouse beneath her still, little arm. 
The cat at my feet, on the white quilt with colorful squaresshe is as sweet in her sleep as if she were my own child, sleeping.
My teenager down the hall, stretched on the couch with her homework and crackers and baby carrots scatteredshe has left sweetness behind for a time, embodying beauty, occasional grace, frequent slovenliness, and annoyance too, at me.
But oh, the cat, how precious she is, her paws clasped before her, eyes closed, as in prayer, sleeping.

© 2014 Stephanie Parsley


Photo © 2009 Stephanie Parsley


The boy
darted out, froze
on a lane line, arms hard
against his chest. A car stopped at
his shoe.
on smallness, he
hugged himself, but it did
not fit, there in the road, in rush
One arm
bore a green cast
from elbow to wrist. Our
eyes connected as he waited,
ran past.
Boy, I
should have told you,
should have rolled down my window, called,
Watch out, son, your life matters to
to me.
© 2013 Stephanie Parsley
A real boy inspired this poem, and I couldn’t stop with one cinquain about him, maybe because I very nearly ran over him on my way home from work.I think it was Halloween. It was turning cool out, and the boy had on short sleeves. 
Thanks once again to The Miss Rumphius Effect for the poetry stretch. This one, from November (written then but just now revised), was to write a cinquain — with a total of 22 syllables distributed over the five lines: 2 for the first line, then 4, 6, 8, then 2. 
I was glad to re-remember this boy. I hope he’s loved.

Ideograms, I have mixed feelings about you.

But I wrote one anyway.

This week’s poetry stretch at The Miss Rumphius Effect involves writing a cardinal ideogram poem. I ditched the “cardinal” (numerical) aspect and used letters instead. This type of poem involves looking at the shape of numbers or letters and incorporating the evoked images into corresponding lines of poetry. For example, in my poem, “Thunderstorm,” below, the T brought to mind a lightning bolt, the H a window pane, etc.

The ideogram really did make me stretch. So I guess that’s good.

photo: Wikimedia commons

T     lightning slices
H     window flashes, rattles
U     gutters spill
N     sit up small in bed
D     wrap arms ‘round
E     wind whips, rages
R     run, run for shelter
S     sirens bay
T     trees sway and lean
O     cellar: damp black nothing
R     match touches candle, illuminates
M     huddle, wait
© 2013 Stephanie Parsley


After so many years

grief becomes a solitary
thing: you Google her
at work, the library 
air thick with late
Around you
swirls of students,
some the age

she would be,

flutter and throb,
as you click and click
the online family tree
to see her name
and image, a leaf
bud frozen.
© 2013 Stephanie Parsley
leaf bud, wiki commons

Tomato Talk (and a Poem)

Photo by: benmcleod, Flickr Creative Commons

As a child, I felt cheated by tomatoes. They didn’t taste as good as they looked. And they were a fruit — a fraudulent fruit that tasted like a vegetable. When my mother made tacos, she always tried to sneak in a small piece of tomato beneath my lettuce and cheese; I dug it out and discarded it.

My best friend loved tomatoes so much, she bit into them like they were apples, then sprinkled on some salt and took another bite, and another and then more, until juice dripped off her elbow and another tomato was gone. I envied her and also viewed her as an oddity. Now, I like tomatoes, though not enough to bite into a fat one. My husband grows them (with better results each year), and I sometimes eat the small ones off the vine.

So the poem below is from (and for) the childhood me. The poetic form is called a Zeno, which I’d never heard of until I read this week’s poetry stretch on The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Lament on the Tomato

Vegetable disguised as fruit,
growing red in
ripening and
It turns out you
are a

© 2013 Stephanie Parsley