Poetic License

At first I was only permitted
to go driving on the
neat streets of Rhyme.

When I got my poetic license,
I headed out into
the wider world of verse.

I made a brief stop in Haiku,
had a few laughs in Limerick,
sang the praises of Ode.

Then I ventured into Fiction—
it was a bit of a stretch to get there—
and I let myself get carried away:

I crossed over the line
into Non-Fiction, and that
was the end of my poetic license.

Daughter number three will be getting her learner’s permit soon, and then we begin 65 hours of behind-the-wheel experience before she can test for her actual driver’s license. It seems like an appropriate time to post this poem. Peace to your !


When I embraced art for art’s sake,
I wasn’t prepared for heartache.

I thought I had a thicker skin
To shield the fragile poet within

But learned how easily I bruise,
Held captive by the world’s reviews.

Seeking escape for my aching heart,
I find refuge in the arms of art.

One of my metapoems written in 2013. What author hasn’t felt this way at some point? Peace to your !

“Four Poems Before Breakfast”

I haven’t written any poetry since April’s NaPoWriMo challenge, but there have been times in the past when I’ve been inundated with inspiration. Not quite as abundantly as in the poem below, thank goodness. Peace to your !

Four Poems Before Breakfast

I wrote one poem a quarter past midnight,
The next by the dawn’s early light,
I think there were two
While using the loo—
It’s a great place to sit down and write.

Four poems before breakfast, I’m certain;
I revised them while forking eggs in.
After that, a whole slew
Came out of the blue,
Though a few ended up in the bin.

At ten I had tea with some limericks,
And I roughed out an ode just for kicks.
Lunch time
Was really a crunch time,
Why, I wrote down at least five or six.

Now that it’s dinner, my appetite’s sated.
Really, I’m quite nauseated.
A single haiku
Would make me spew—
No more poems till I’ve recuperated.

© Stephanie Malley

“Observation” / “Poeminence”


A poem is a figment of your imagination;
The writing bug, a malady of your own creation.

© Stephanie Malley

I find myself wanting to jot down lots of poetry lately, maybe because I’ve been reading Ted Kooser’s Poetry Home Repair Manual, a book my oldest daughter was getting rid of. I’m glad I rescued it. Of all the books about writing poetry that I’ve started to read, this is one of the few I finished. Kooser chooses wonderfully accessible poems to illustrate his advice, and his advice is spot-on. Who knew he was U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006 and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author? I certainly didn’t. Poet laureate, I suspect, is an honor that goes mostly unrecognized. Peace to your ♥ !


Poet laureate.
Let me think a bit….

I haven’t a clue—who?

© 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 ♥ !

“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

“A Poet Muses”

My last post was titled “I Never Metapoem I Didn’t Like,” but in fact, I’ve met many poems I didn’t like, a lot of them my own. I can usually tell where the weak parts are but not always how best to fix them. Do I need another image? A better word? A different form? A complete overhaul? (Yikes!)

Because I like poetry, revising my poems is usually enjoyable even when challenging–not like revising that term paper for history class. Still, there are times….

A Poet Muses

So this is how it goes:
first the labor,
then the birth,
then the whole bloody afterbirth
of revising.

Peace to your ♥ !

I Never Metapoem I Didn’t Like

Did you know that poems about poetry are called metapoems? I not only love to read metapoems, I also really love to write my own (see “Family Tree“). So far I’ve written more than 50 poems about poetry and the creative process that I’ve gathered into a collection called A Poet Muses. You’ll find it listed under the Poetry Collections tab. As I post poems from the collection, I’ll add them to that page for easy reading.

Below is the poem I wrote to lead off the collection. If you’ve written a poem yourself, perhaps you feel as I do. It’s incredibly satisfying to create something from scratch, something that has your personal stamp on it. The poem was originally in four lines, but now I think it looks better as a quote. One of the benefits of being author, editor, and publisher is getting to do what you want. :)

Peace to your !

Better than a book of poems on a library shelf is a poem you wrote all by yourself.

Stephanie Malley