“Swan Song”

A swan song is a person’s final performance before retirement. Since this is an acrostic poem, there’s a hidden message spelled out by the initial letters of each line. Peace to your ♥ !

 Swan Song

Forever. To go on and on and on
And on (my finite life a Father’s loan).
Redeemed from gravity—the earth’s, my own.
Euphoric! So what, that we’re here and gone,
When hope like this exists to dream upon?
Each night I’ve found my heavy wings now grown
Light-feathered, strong, and through the darkness flown,
Long-necked and honking madly, toward dawn.

© 2019 Stephanie Malley

“Morning: My Breakfast”

Poetry crops up in unexpected places. When my youngest daughter hosted a sleepover, we bought Birch Benders gluten-free pancake mix because one of her friends is gluten-sensitive. On the back of the bag is a paragraph about how the company’s founder used to bend birches as a boy; it closes with a reference to Robert Frost’s poem “Birches” and quotes the line: “One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.” Even better is the blurb at the top, which states, “We start with a perfect blend of wheat-free flours, then add our signature Oregon hazelnut meal, resulting in, dare we say, pancake poetry.” I love it!

In the spirit of pancake poetry, I’m posting a breakfast poem.

 Morning: My Breakfast

Mornings my breakfast
was oatmeal
made with milk, walnuts,

wheat germ, banana,
in a hand-thrown bowl

stained rust, tan, deep blue—
earthy hues
for a hearty meal.

A staple for years,
it sustained
me body and soul

till I found I had
a severe,
somehow symptomless,

to casein
(protein in cow’s milk);

also nuts, maybe
wheat. I was
in fight-or-flight mode

years (decades?)
without knowing it.

Overnight, breakfast
bottomed out,
first casualty

of my dairy-free,
nut-free life.
I still have oatmeal,

but my daily bowl’s
now water-
based mush not even

a ripe banana
can rescue.
I eat to sustain

my body; my soul
starves meanwhile,
mourning my breakfast.

© Stephanie Malley

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 1 - Write a single lune (a three-line form having
a 5-3-5 syllable or word count) or a poem composed of multiple lunes.

Thankfully, time has a way of healing things, and I don’t feel nearly as negative about my oatmeal now as when I wrote the poem three years ago. Happy breakfasting to you, and peace to your ♥ !


Have you ever looked back at a poem you wrote, that you thought was a finished poem, that you liked well enough at the time, and found it disappointing? The poem below–well, let’s just say it came across as bland and lacking in rhythm when I reread it. So the dilemma becomes, do you revise it or not? Is it worth the time and effort? In this case (six years after the fact), I decided it was. Peace to your ♥ !


Do I or don’t I want to go?
I wish it were a simple yes or no.
Let’s say I don’t—that suits me fine,
Except they’ll think I’m snooty to decline.
Maybe I’ll pop in and out, and yet,
Mingling makes me break out in a sweat.
All I want’s a choice I won’t regret.

© Stephanie Malley


Those who are word nerds like me, or who recall their grade-school English class well, will immediately notice that I’ve misspelled alliteration. Never fear; all is well. I purposely spelled it that way for the greater good of poetry.


Pages of poems partially penned
are prone to proliferation,
producing plentiful piles of pieces of paper
and a plethora of alitteration.

© Stephanie Malley

Playing with words this way is, for better or worse, how my mind works. I recently saw the word unintentionally misspelled illiteration, and I began toying with turning that into a poem. “Sharon has the sniffles / Miles has the mumps / Daniel’s dachshund is down in the dumps….” It’s not much of a leap (for me at least!) to considering “Oblitteration” as the title for a poem about incinerating trash found on a daily walk. The English language can be frustrating–I still get mixed up over two r‘s or two f‘s in terrific–but also loads of fun.

Peace to your ♥ !

“Breaking the Spell” / “Applesauce”

I’ve never specifically tried writing abstract or sound poetry, where the emphasis is on sound rather than meaning, until now. It tops Robert Lee Brewer’s list of 100 poetic forms, which I’m using as poem prompts. I experimented with two poems. You’ll see that I loosened up quite a bit with the second. Applesauce, by the way, is slang for nonsense–pure serendipity. :) Peace to your ♥ !

 Breaking the Spell


© Stephanie Malley


Slapdapple gingersnapple,
Vim-vigorous fruit.
Vavoom, kazoom,

Speedster and speed star,
Go-go-going ape.
Mishmash apple smash,
Eppal, paple, plape.

© Stephanie Malley

“Birthday Stuff”

With today being the birthday of the USA, I thought I would post this birthday poem I wrote many years ago. If you’re celebrating the Fourth of July, have a happy one! And as always, peace to your ♥ !

Birthday Stuff

Tomorrow is my birthday
A very special date
I’ve got my plans all ready
And I can hardly wait.
To start I’ll have hot chocolate
And doughnuts on a plate
Eating only things I love
That’s how I’ll celebrate.
Mac-and-cheese for lunchtime
On that’s there’s no debate
Then either grapes or raisins
No peas at any rate.
And for a snack some brownies
Two, or four, or eight
Fresh and warm from baking
Who cares if I gain weight?
For dinner down a burger
With curly fries (not straight)
A milkshake, thick and creamy
That will be first-rate.
I’ll finish up with chocolate cake
And I won’t hesitate
To lick each luscious crumb up
Oh boy, will that taste great.
Tomorrow is my birthday
The next day I’ll sleep late
And say, as I did last year
“I think I overate!”

© Stephanie Malley


You see them on their lounge chairs, lined up in a row like fish sticks. Or perhaps hot dogs, complete with “grill marks” from the chair when they get up for a swim. But maybe it only similes that way to me. :)


Bronze bodies poolside, Julying in the sun:
Coat both sides with sunscreen; fry until done.

© Stephanie Malley

(Caveat: Frying until done is fine in the poem, but I don’t recommend it in real life.)

Peace to your !

Here a Prompt, There a Prompt

Although I generally wait until I’m inspired to write poems, there have been two exceptions. I regularly submit children’s poems to Guardian Angel Kids ezine, which has themed issues such as Conservation for Kids, Hidden Treasure, and Hot Summer Nights. Also, I’ve participated in National Poetry Writing Month (April) since 2016, responding to daily prompts from Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo site. After my first round of poems, I summed up the experience:

NaPoWriMo Conclusion

Yeah, me!
A month of poetry
Goes into the binder,
A timely reminder
That a little prompting
Can be a good thing.

Prompts and themes are like seeds. The poet’s imagination and effort are the sun and water that help the seed grow into a mature plant. You may end up with tomatoes or an orchid or a palm tree. That’s where the (ad)venture comes in.

Now that I’ve started blogging, I’m thinking I should challenge myself to write poetry more regularly. I’ve decided I’ll use Robert Lee Brewer’s list of 100 poetic forms as prompts, aiming for two new poems a month (the four-year plan :) ). Peace to your ♥ !


Hold out your hands to feel the luxury of the sunbeams.

Helen Keller

Isn’t that a lovely thought? Ever since I wrote Helen Keller’s observation in my notebook of quotes, I’ve wanted to use it in a poem. Despite being intangible, sunbeams have a way of draping themselves across your body as cloth does. The contrast between brocade’s heaviness and the lightness of sunbeams works, for me, because of the connecting “thread” of luxuriousness (couldn’t resist that :) ).


Sometimes you have to make your own sunshine.
You have to roll out the gold gossamer-thin
To feel the luxury of sunbeams on bare skin.

© Stephanie Malley

Peace to your !

“Three Cheers for Mr. Roget”

I would be a far worse poet without my trusty companions: The Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary by Sue Young, published 1994, for ages 8 and up (and up! did the publishers ever dream it would be used by a 50-plus-year-old?); and The New American Roget’s College Thesaurus in Dictionary Form, revised 1985.

As you can see, I actually own two of the rhyming dictionaries and two of the thesauruses. (Thesauri is also correct, but it sounds too refined for humble paperbacks.) They’re handy reference guides, and you can’t get any handier that having one at your fingertips upstairs and another at your beck and call downstairs. (Click on the link and the eggcorn link within it for some fascinating reading.)

If I’m honest with myself, I don’t need doubles. I bought the second copies when the first began showing signs of wear. Not to panic or anything, but I really, really like these specific editions, and I wouldn’t want all the used copies to get bought up and leave me stranded for rhymes and synonyms. Several years back I did buy a large-print thesaurus–my eyesight, always bad, is steadily getting worse–but it was a bust. I hated the format. If, down the road, I have to crouch over the pages of my tried-and-true thesaurus with a magnifying glass, so be it. :)

Peace to your ♥ !

Three Cheers for Mr. Roget

Hip, hip, hooray for Mr. Roget
For creating the thesaurus for us.
Any writer who wants that perfect nuance,
Variation, modulation, shade, subtlety, nicety,
Fine point, distinction, suggestion, innuendo or hint
Has only to look in Roget’s treasure book—
Three cheers for him and his synonyms.

© Stephanie Malley