“E-Loves Me”

According to Wikipedia, computer-assisted dating began in 1959 when two Stanford students matched 49 couples using a questionnaire and an early IBM computer. My husband and I met in 1989, without the help of technology, while doing a year of lay mission work. There were eight of us volunteers, four religious sisters, two priests, and the mother of one of the sisters, all living together in a former orphanage (think small, cell-like bedrooms). Two volunteers from the previous year got married as well as two volunteers from the year after. It’s not a bad way to meet someone, but with a $60 a month stipend, it didn’t allow for much in the way of traditional dates like eating out or going to the movies.

I wrote the following poem in 2013, when online dating services and smartphones were a standard part of the romantic landscape.

 E-Loves Me

We met through an online service,
Grew close through emails and chats,
Texted till one in the morning,
Sent smartphone pics of our cats.

We haven’t had a real date yet;
Still, I feel that our love will endure.
I think you might be the Right One—
In fact, I am virtually sure.

© Stephanie Malley

Happy (early) Valentine’s Day! Peace to your ♥ !


It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, and I’m counting my blessings. May God bless you and yours. Peace to your ♥ !


the first crocus and the last hard frost
everything found that you thought was lost
moments of silence and solitude
waking up in a marvelous mood

those cute little jars of mayonnaise
cold lemonade on hot summer days
the pristine beauty of new-fallen snow
people who love you and let you know

being able to read, to write, to add
a comforting hug when you’re feeling sad
neighbors ready to lend a hand
an outing that went exactly as planned

indoor plumbing, central heating and air
meeting a deadline with time to spare
sun on your shoulders, wind at your back
not forgetting a thing when you pack

puppies, kittens, and baby rabbits
good luck, good vibes, good taste, good habits
book after book on library shelves
thorny problems that right themselves

food in your pantry, cash in your purse
a cold that was bad but could have been worse
the laughter of children, the chirping of birds
the pleasure of finding just the right words

second thoughts and second chances
silver linings in bleak circumstances
fireflies at dusk, dewdrops at dawn
the fact that this list could go on and on

© Stephanie Malley

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 9 - Write your own Sei Shonagon-style list of “things."

“Band on the Run”

Time for a little fun–a poem written in 2018 for National Poetry Writing Month. Not being a band person, I consulted some websites for help. I’m not sure I can remember all the original band names at this point. Peace to your ♥ !

 Band on the Run 

I’m lead guitarist for a band.
We’re shoddy and we’re shameless;
So bad, in fact, we’ve made a pact:
Band members shall be nameless.

But hey, that doesn’t mean the band
Itself goes incognito.
Each gig we do, our name is new.
The one-night stand’s our credo.

The Larry Byrds, The Whom, The Floors,
Pearl Jelly, Exodus, Sticks,
The Rolling Rocks, Crush, Steppenfox,
The Seagulls, Beetles, Cheap Trix.

AM/PM, Bon Jovial,
Fleetwood Macintosh, The Skinks,
The Jackson 3, Run-The.A.C.,
Motley Crude, The Moody Pinks.

Voyage, Boston to Chicago,
Copper Maiden, Led Balloon,
Truck Halen, Tire Straits, The Firemen,
Guess What, French Kiss, Deep Maroon.

ZZ Bottom, R.E.M. Sleep,
Ice Cream, The Almond Brothers,
The Stalking Heads, The Grateful Dread,
Majolica, Queen Mother.

Credence Clearwater Survival,
U-Tube, Redhead, Have a Heart,
The Mamas and the Papayas,
Pink Spots, The Splatters, The Carts.

Lovin’ Teaspoonful, The Breech Boys,
Sly and the Rosetta Stone,
Cymbal Clash, Crosby Stills and Gnash,
The Pretenders to the Throne.

Hall and Groats, The Four Seasonings,
The Hollies and the Ivies,
Guns n’ Hoses, Huns n’ Roses,
The BeeCDEF Gees.

Dirt Breeze & Flame, Yessiree Bob,
Pink Lloyd, Blood Sweater & Tears—
We’ve played to boos and bad reviews,
Our band on the run, for years.

© Stephanie Malley

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 3 - Write a list poem in which all the items are made-up names (band names was one of the suggestions).

“The Raving” (by Edgar Allan Poet)

Poe’s “Raven” has been the subject of many parodies. Henry Beard in his book Poetry for Cats has one titled “The End of the Raven.” In high school I wrote a much less accomplished version with a gym-teacher antagonist badgering a sleepyhead teenager to “Go to school.” Here’s a more recent take-off from my collection of metapoems. It could use some polishing, but I post it nonetheless, since it may be a long while before the revision muse comes knocking. Peace to your ♥ !

 The Raving (by Edgar Allan Poet)

Once upon a midnight silent, while I slept, there came a violent
Summons, as though a muse stood by my bedside.
While I wondered, somewhat shaken, if I had been mistaken,
The summons came once more, intensified.

As far as I can remember, it was the second of December,
And I felt a draft of chilly air brush past my hand.
Disturbed, I groped for pad and pen, only to find I had
Forgotten to put them on the nightstand.

The thought of leaving bed filled me with the deepest dread
So that instead I thought to memorize each verse,
But though I kept repeating and repeating and repeating,
It was more than I could easily rehearse.

Presently the room grew colder; becoming then a trifle bolder,
“Muse,” I said, “It pains me to ignore you.
Since I was already snoozing when you came to do your musing,
Could you return when it is morning? I implore you.”

A quarter-hour I waited, stalling; a quarter-hour the muse kept calling,
Till I feared I would go mad if it persisted.
“Muse,” I cried, “Unwelcome guest! Disturber of much-needed rest!
Scat! Vamoose! Begone!” Still the muse insisted.

At last I could no longer bear it; despite the freezing air it
Must be done. Grudgingly I set foot upon the floor,
Grumbling all the while at this queer nocturnal trial,
And with pad and pen returned, colder than before.

Not a minute did I waste but, shivering, wrote with haste,
Distressed to see how soon it would be light.
At last, the muse’s summons lifted, into a fitful sleep I drifted
And woke oppressed by ghastly memories of the night.

Feeling exhausted and ill-used, yet appreciating still
The fact I had some poetry to show for it,
With a trembling hand, each page of verse I scanned
And found I could not read a single bit.

Now my wrath was piqued—“Unfair! Unfair!” I shrieked.
With all my strength I threw the tablet at the door.
Though a muse might come moonlighting, I would do no midnight writing
In the cold and bleak December—NEVERMORE!


Sometimes I know what book I’m looking for at the library, and sometimes I scan the shelves hoping to find something good, with varying results. Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse, which I stumbled across at my local library, proved so enjoyable, I bought myself a used copy, given to Meg with love from Joanne and Bob (“May you spend many happy hours curled up in front of the fire reading this”). Thank you, Meg. Your trash is my treasure.

In this anthology, Henry Beard parodies well-known poems, each one “written” by the poet’s cat from a cat’s point of view. John Donne’s cat gives us “Vet, Be Not Proud” while William Carlos Williams’s cat offers up “The Yellow Goldfish.” How Beard managed to successfully parody 39 poems, I’ll never know. I do know that I crack up whenever I read the line “Short-haired Hrodent-slayer” (“Grendel’s Dog,” from Beocat, by the Old English Epic’s Unknown Author’s Cat, Modern English verse translation by the Editor’s Cat). I suspect that majoring in English in college has something to do with it.

It appeared at one time that our cat Buddy had poetic aspirations, but nothing has come of it, for him at least. For me the occasion inspired the following poem. Peace to your ♥ !


Over the keyboard Buddy goes.
Composing what? Cat only knows.
He typed a string of p’s and o’s
That I would label pawful prose.

But what if he meant p-o-e?
Or even (yes!) p-o-e-t?
If paws were hands, this cat could be
The feline Poe of poetry.

© Stephanie Malley


Welsh is an interesting language. Take awdl gywydd, the name of a Welsh poetic form. It looks like the words were coined on a day that vowels were in short supply. I found two different pronunciations and don’t know which is correct, so I won’t print either one. Peace to your ♥ !


I bet when Little Bo Peep
Lost her sheep, she was dumbstruck.
No surprise if just one ewe,
But the others, too? What luck!

Finally a chance to sleep
Without keeping watch at night.
No more dirty, stinky wool—
Oh, her heart was full and light.

At last, no noisy bleating.
No eating lamb chops with guilt.
A flock-free life, long past due,
Lived sheeplessly to the hilt.

Did Bo Peep begin to bawl
When they all meandered back?
I suspect, when daylight ceased,
She let the wild beasts attack.

© Stephanie Malley

“The Cat’s Meow”

Dan Ariely in his book The Upside of Irrationality writes about animal experiments that show fish, gerbils, rats, and birds (among others) like to work for their food. Maybe you’ve seen the pet treat puzzles that let them do exactly this. What is the one animal tested that wants its food as accessible as possible? The cat. In my experience, not only do cats prefer to eat the easy way, they also have a real blind spot when it comes to the food in their bowl. The barest bare spot, and Buddy believes his bowl is empty; he’s in danger of starvation; he needs more food now, thank you.

This is the first Buddy poem I wrote. Peace to your ♥ !

 The Cat’s Meow

There’s a hole in my bowl,
Can’t you see?
A bare space in the place
Food should be.
A blank spot where there’s not
Food for me.

Oh, Buddy, you’re a study
In persistence.
I admire your desire,
That you need, with due speed,
My assistance.

I implore; you ignore
My request.
I’m a cat; as a cat,
I know best.
I will plead till my need
Is addressed.

Well, I choose to refuse
To kowtow
Though you stare and you stare
And meow.
You will dine—okay, fine,
You win—now.

© Stephanie Malley

NaPoWriMo 2018 Day 2 - Write a poem that plays with voice (as in a dialogue, for example).

“Intoxicated by Poetry”

In my last post, I mentioned that I have a collection of poems about Buddy, my family’s cat. About a dozen of them were written in the space of three days a few weeks ago. I can never predict when the muse will strike full-force like that, but when it does, poetry consumes my thoughts for the duration. The following warning applies:

 Intoxicated by Poetry

I'm not one to drink and drive,
But I confess I think and drive.
And furthermore, there have been times
When half my brain’s been full of rhymes.
I watch for traffic, lights, and signs
While marshaling words into lines.

Thus far I’ve managed to survive
With only half a mind to drive.
And though I know the driver’s seat
Is no place for poetic feet,
It’s easier to abstain from drinking
Than to refrain from adverse thinking.

So if you see me driving by,
Steer clear—I may be DUI*.

*driving under the influence

© Stephanie Malley

Peace to your ♥ (especially if you see me driving by)!

“Nobody like Buddy”

I didn’t want a cat. I told my daughters they could get cats of their own once they were out on their own. Taking care of the house and four kids was plenty enough for me, even without dusting regularly. I held firm when my third-oldest handed us a Christmas wish list in which every other item was cat. But I agreed to two hermit crabs (what was I thinking?). Not furry, no warm fuzzies, faces only a mother could love–poor substitutes for a cat. The girls took care of them without caring for them. They died eventually, and we moved on, still (happily for me) catless.

Then my mother-in-law’s lung cancer came back as bone cancer that necessitated surgery and the long-term use of a walker. One Wednesday, Gini said she feared tripping over Buddy, and I asked if she wanted us to take him (she had always joked that we could have him). That Thursday, she said goodbye to Buddy with grace, the same grace she showed later in letting go of her car, her apartment, her possessions, and finally life itself.

My husband grew up with a cat named Tippy, who was still around early in our relationship. Tippy was a phenomenal cat. If you lay down on your side on the sofa, he would curl up in the crook of your legs. He had his own Tippy, a small stuffed animal he “borrowed” from my husband’s sister and never returned. Buddy is at least his equal. He, too, is affectionate, not one of those cats who hunker down under the bed and rarely make a personal appearance.

In addition to blessing our lives, Buddy has provided me with poem possibilities, enough that I have a mini-collection of Buddy poems I’ll begin sharing. I’m calling the collection Nobody like Buddy, and it begins, as many books do, with a dedication.

To Buddy, the best of cats

Never an alley cat. Always a Malley cat.

 Nobody like Buddy

There’s nobody like Buddy.
He’s a cat beyond compare.
To find another Buddy
In the cat realm would be rare.
But should somebody say
That Buddy’s just another cat,
They’re simply being catty,
And nobody cares for that.

© 2019 Stephanie Malley

Peace to your !

“A Long View”

Growing up, I could look out the kitchen window and see my backyard, the common area, and the neighbors’ backyards; then between their houses to the street and houses beyond; and between those houses to the horizon. A long view that stamped itself on my soul, though I didn’t realize it at the time.

Fast forward to 2005. My husband and I are house hunting, looking to step up from our starter home now that we have three kids and a fourth one in mind (my mind, at least). The home we’re moving out of sits on a hillside. From the living room you can see across the rooftops to another hill much further away, with trees covering its sides and a road winding across the top, where headlights form a pretty procession at dusk. Another long view.

After touring several houses, putting an offer on one, and losing it to a higher bidder, we come across the perfect place. A kitchen island! Attached two-car garage! First-floor laundry! Neighbors we already know from church! Even a gazebo! (Thank goodness we didn’t get that other house!) It has plenty of yard space and sits on the edge of a cul-de-sac, just the thing for kids riding their bikes. In our starry-eyed state, we gloss over several facts: the bulk of the yard is to the side of the house, where there are no windows; the house sits almost at the bottom of two hills; the next house along the cul-de-sac is positioned approximately ten feet from the back porch. We make our offer and are overjoyed when it’s accepted.

Zip along to the present. I really, really long for a long view. It’s a want that feels like a need and is maddeningly saddening at times. But such is life….

 A Long View

This house has fourteen windows and not one
Long view. The kitchen faces siding, white
And blinding on a sunny day, such fun
To gaze upon. A cherry tree’s in sight
Across the fence, but an expanse of green
Is what I’d like to see while standing there.
Out front, tall trees and other houses screen
The view; the road ascends and ends in air.
My eyes stop short when they would rather roam
The far horizon. I'm dissatisfied
But can't, of course, abandon kids and home
To seek a cottage in the countryside.
I live instead on dreams of longer views
And pray my neighbors paint their siding blue.

© Stephanie Malley

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 23 - Write a sonnet.

Peace to your ♥ and mine!