We were in the city today, so I’m very late posting this. Bob and I attended our monthly Christian writers get-together and one of the subjects we touched on was book reviews. How some reviewers go the extra mile to really slam a book. Which fits in with today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt: WORDS

Writers – especially poets – will deliberate for hours on which is the best word to describe what they want to convey. Thus was the thesaurus born.

The first thing that came to mind when I saw the prompt was that old BeeGees’ song, “It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.” Words can win a heart, and words can break a heart.

words enlighten – and confuse
words conceal – and reveal
words compliment – and censure
words can inspire – and shatter

Concerned, you ask a family member or friend, “How are you doing?”
“I’m okay.”

“I’m getting by.”

Evasive words. Avoiding the elephant in the room – because the elephant, if examined closely, may jab you with a painful tusk.

The Bible talks about words and speech. In Proverbs 31 Solomon describes a virtuous woman, one of her qualities being “in her tongue is the law of kindness.”
The same would be true of a good man: kindness is their guiding light. Even when repeating the truth, careful not to censure, ready to give the benefit of the doubt. Discreetly silent about things that need not be revealed. Not blind but not blabbing.

Some people rather make honesty their rule of life. “I don’t mince words. I tell it just like I see it. If you don’t like it, that’s your problem.” However, honesty tends to come mixed with the grit of opinion and feeling. Sorting the golden truth from all the sand is almost impossible for us mortals.

Jesus warns his hearers about name-calling. In Matthew 5:22 He tells the crowd, “…whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” A serious thought!
The Apostle Peter comes in on the up-side. “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
To me that means, “Show respect to all people — even when critiquing their attitudes or behaviour.”

Up the Mountain

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was LUSH. And just for fun I’m going to throw in a few humongous — but interesting — words I’ve come across in my reading recently:
Vertiginous – related to vertigo. Causing dizziness; marked by turning or sudden changes.
– foolishly adventurous or bold
– to issue censures, railing accusations, or vehement denunciations

Up The Mountain

My wife and I met my old friend Pete at a restaurant, enjoyed a meal together, and planned to spend the night at his place near the summit of a nearby mountain. When we got back to our cars he told me, “You’ll love the view tomorrow morning but I’ll admit the road to my place loops around some.”

My wife and I exchanged looks. Twilight was settling in. How would we manage unfamiliar turns at night? She was nervous about traveling after dark at the best of times, never mind on winding roads. I wanted to ask Pete to lead us gently but he was already in his car.

At first the county highway was fairly straightforward with deep woods on either side. I could easily keep Pete’s tail lights in view. However, we were soon on a fairly steep grade negotiating ess curves. Pete was moving at a good speed but I swallowed my fears and trusted he’s had enough experience driving on this mountain.

Dusk gave way to darkness. The lush growth thinned out and we started seeing chunks of rock at the roadsides – with hairpin bends in the road around them. I desperately tried to keep up with Pete as he zipped around the vertiginous curves on this rapidly narrowing road.

Not as temerarious as Pete, I slowed down when my headlights lit up a rock wall on one side and the blackness of space on the other. At one point I unconsciously edged away from the precipice on my left and got too far to the right. With a clunk the car bounced through a deep pothole. I prayed for my suspension and each of my four tires!

By now my wife was fulminating about this crazy ride. As we approached another hairpin curve with a huge slice of rock rising straight up on our right and a flimsy guard rail on our left, we spotted a sign: “Watch for falling rock.” At the very edge of the pavement lay several shadowy lumps: small boulders that had already tumbled down.

My wife squawked and clutched the door handle. “This is crazy. What are we supposed to do if we see rocks falling on us – drive off the edge?”

“You’ll have to do the watching,” I shot back at her as I slowed down to negotiate the curve. “It’s all I can do to watch Pete’s tail lights.”

As we went around this hairpin curve I found myself squeezing the steering wheel so tight my fingers were going numb. Pete’s lights had disappeared. But he must have realized we’d dropped behind; a moment later I saw brake lights far ahead. Then we passed through a relatively straight stretch and caught up with his vehicle. I relaxed my grip on the wheel. My shoulders ached. It felt like we’d been driving for hours!

After a couple more loops, Pete came to a stop and signaled for a right turn. He headed down a narrow lane and I followed. Finally we came to a stop in a clearing and saw the most heartening sight: a rustic log cabin, lit up invitingly.

“Welcome here,” said Pete. “I hope you didn’t find the road up too bad?”

I shook my head. “How can you do that every day?”

“There were a few times I was sure we’d go over the edge,” my wife chimed in. “Or that my heart would stop. But then I imagined myself lying in the back of an ambulance as it raced down the mountain. My heart skipped a beat or two and started pumping frantically again.”

“But you’ll love the view in the morning,” Pete promised again. “And I promise the road will be easier going down in daylight.”

A Poet I Admire

Before April Poetry Month ends, I want to pay a small tribute poet Ted Kooser, who whose verses I’ve enjoyed courtesy of our public library.

Part of the bio at his official website:
Ted Kooser is a poet and essayist, a Presidential Professor of English at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006, and his book Delights & Shadows won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His writing is known for its clarity, precision and accessibility.

Accessibility’s the key word that made his verses so enjoyable for me. Even with my limited enlightenment I could read his verses and understand them. I was happy to discover that his books are available on Amazon, in hard cover, paperback, and Kindle.

I see that, for those new to poetry writing, he’s published The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets. I must order a copy, since some of my verses could stand a bit of repair!

From the blurb:
“Much more than a guidebook to writing and revising poems, this manual has all the comforts and merits of a long and enlightening conversation with a wise and patient old friend—a friend who is willing to share everything he’s learned about the art he’s spent a lifetime learning to execute so well.”

The Earth Cracked

Today’s challenge at the Writer’s Digest site:
Write a sight poem. If you can see it, poem it. If you can’t see it, poem it. If you can see another interpretation of this prompt that is neither of these, then, please, poem it.


The earth cracked
eons ago a mighty split.
Oh to have seen
that power!
To have heard
that rock-rending cataclysm
leaving us such treasures!
Astounding canyons
standing guard over
an ever-flowing stream
of earth-blood,
a diamond-sparkling

Image: Yinan Chen — Pixabay

Killing Miss Muffet’s Spider

Today’s prompt at the Writer’s Digest April 2023 Challenge site is to write a response poem.

This poem may respond to one of your own poems, or to a poem by another poet. It could also be a response to something you read in the news, to the person who cut you off in traffic. Use your imagination.

Okay, here’s my imaginative response to an old nursery rhyme.

Killing Miss Muffet’s Spider

Little Miss Muffet
likes to sit on her
tuffet, consuming
her Cheerios and whey
but if a spider –
in all innocence, I’m sure –
happens along and
sits its minuscule self
beside, above, below,
or – Heaven forbid! –
on her,
she comes running
to me! “You’re the one,”
she flatters,
“brave enough to deal
icky squishies
their death blow.”
“Hurry,” she wails.
“Come kill
this loathsome bug
or it surely will bite me
And what can one say
to such wide-eyed terror?
So I play the heavy, 
Jack the giant killer,
the meanie who murders
the monsters that menace
Miss Muffet
while she sits on her
and leaves me to it.

Spider image: Peter Schmidt — Pixabay

Sea Shanty

The prompt at NaPoWriMo this morning is to write a sea shanty, which is to be “strongly rhymed and rhythmic, that sailors might sing while hauling on ropes and performing other sea-going labors.” The most famous being What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?

I see the prompt at Writer’s Digest for Day 10 is to start your poem with How —. (You fill in the blank.) For example: “How do I love thee?” or “How many miles to Babylon?” or “How sweet the answer echo makes to music in the night.” A lot of potential in this prompt!

So here’s my sea shanty, starting with How, and somewhat hampered by the fact that I’ve never been a sailor. 🙂

How can you sail in a wind so adverse?
How can you keep this ship on course
when wind and seas are doing their best
to dash you on the shore now?
How do you sail when the waves are crashin'?
You haul up sail and secure the lashin'
you batten the hatch against the bashin'
and pray to reach the shore now.
How do you sail when she’s in the doldrums
With nary a breeze to fill her sails some,
the sea’s all glass and sun bakes you brown?
You sigh to be on shore now.
How can we fill the lonely gloamin’
when on strange dark seas we’re roamin’?
Our merry tunes will bring us homin'
until we see our shore now.