"The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, July 31, 2011


A ripe nectarine
demands your full attention.
The first bite might be taken
one-handed, eyes on the newspaper,
thinking about the day ahead,
but then juice starts dripping
and both hands are required
and before you know it,
all senses are focused
on one moment of sweetness.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Turn the page:
new picture, new month
of blank squares
to fill in
with what we bind ourselves to
and then call our life.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(I wanted to do an end-of-month poem for the last day of the April challenge. This is another shadorma.)

Friday, April 29, 2011


Found: Ancient Roman ship, adrift in the bay.
Captain fell overboard in transit to our century.
Good condition, complete with oars and galley slaves,
well-trained and tractable, although hygiene is lacking
and a translator is needed (see help wanted section).
The whole lot will go to the highest bidder.
Many potential business uses:
could be converted to a theme restaurant
or worked up as a weekend getaway package.
Don't miss out on this unique opportunity!
Call for details and financing options.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This is a response to a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a poem based on a headline from today's paper. I chose "Ancient Roman Ship Found.")


My given name
is Monty, please
take care of me,
I was just a little
pup when my boy
sailed off to sea.

~ M. Shoemaker
(This is a response to the message in a bottle prompt at Poetic Asides. M. drew a sketch of a dog with the message bottle tied onto its collar.)

Message in a Bottle

Please do not bother to rescue me,
for the first time in my life I feel free!
So please do not come and get me.
You would do best to forget me.
I am doing fine, for one,
plus it's really lots of fun!
Wilderness survival is great out here.
At night I've never seen the stars so clear!
And so many new things to hear.
So please don't come anywhere near.
I feel great. I'm doing fine,
out on sandy beaches in sunshine
and under the cool jungle trees
or standing in ocean up to my knees,
and sometimes going to the beach at night,
waiting to see the dawn's first light,
learning things I'd never have known,
and self-supportive. Just see how I've grown!
Please do not bother to rescue me,
for the first time in my life I feel free!
So please do not come and get me.
You would do best to forget me.

(This is a response to the message in a bottle prompt at Poetic Asides.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011


White blanket
hangs heavy, quilted
(or wispy,
threadbare, scant)
smoothed out wide across the sky
to cover earth's bed.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This is a shadorma - syllable pattern 3/5/3/3/7/5 - and a response to a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a riddle poem.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

all went well till I fell

all went well till I fell
into old times, my old lies
taunting not to try, and I
knew why not, still I fell

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(I was playing with the sounds of the words, and eventually came up with this, although it still needs work.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Just so you know,
You down the street with the perfect lawn,
The bare spots in ours are not our fault.
And we mean to trim the edges when we get time.
So as you speed-walk by with your little pug,
Both your noses turned up as you pass our house,
Your disdain does not bother us.
We are immune.
Just so you know.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(Response to a prompt at Big Tent Poetry to write a poem about what you would shout down the street.)

More Magnetic Poetry

We all worked on poems today using the magnetic poetry word list from a few days ago. Here are several M. wrote.


dark bird music
is playing
in the night


jump up together
run and wish with me
because we are home


for by day
and night
the family is together

~ M. Shoemaker

New Holiday

frog jump day
has all play

(From our magnetic poetry activity.)

Music of the Night

jump little bird
and see how you are
playing music with the night

~ T. Shoemaker
(This is from our magnetic poetry activity.)


all that is wanting in me
you little wish to see
but as day has night
dark go with the like

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(Another magnetic poetry try. It was impossible to resist playing with the words while the kids were doing theirs.)


you have expanded my vocabulary
and my vision,
and helped me to learn to write better.
Thank you for that.
This month has been very good for my writing.


Monday, April 25, 2011


After ten days of company
(and now they all are gone)
I savor the sheer tranquility
of having my house my own.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Sunday

Buds exploding fresh new green
on tree branches, tulips deep
red among wilted remains
of daffodils, already old.
Spring in progress, spring half gone.
Look, before it all moves on.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Photo

He grins, she beams,
standing hand in hand,
posing for the relatives,
displaying wedding bands.
Seventeen years later
I wonder if I know
what that girl was thinking
a lifetime ago.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Friday, April 22, 2011

Magnetic poetry

I took paper and pen to the children's museum today, hoping to find inspiration for today's poem while keeping an eye on several children besides my own. In one area there's a wall with words on magnetic strips like a big version of the refrigerator poetry sets you can buy at bookstores. I decided to try writing a poem using only those words, and only once each, as if using the strips to spell out the poem. ("And" appeared on 2 strips and so can be used twice.)

Here are the words:
all and and are as ask at because bird but by dark day family for frog go has home how if in -ing is jump like little me music night or play run saw see she that the to together up want we went were wish with you

Here's what I came up with. I'm hoping the kids may be interested in trying the same thing; if so, I'll add their poems later on.


you and me together
with seesaw wish and want
is little how we like to go
all jumping in the dark


we run at the frog
because jumping is like play.
ask if she saw how.


you ask me if all day is dark
and see how night has run
but like the little family
together we are home

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Thursday, April 21, 2011


If this message finds you then you may be
stranded on an island hoping someone
drops a bottle in the water so you
can send your own message for a rescue.
If that’s what you want to do, then feel free.
But if you don’t mind the sand and the sun
and the solitude and a shark or two,
and just occasionally want a few
words with someone stranded in the same seas,
then reply by return of bottle, please.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This is a response to a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a message in a bottle poem. I used the "Big 10" format created by Robert Lee Brewer, which is simply a 10-line poem with 10 syllables in each line.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Driving the Girls Home

They’ve gathered in the back of the van,
my daughter and her friends,
and until the ride ends
they talk as loud and as much as they can
telling stories, making each other laugh.
I drive. I listen. They hardly know
I’m there. So I drive slow
And enjoy feeling young on their behalf.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Important Piece of Shoemaker Family History

(told to me by my mother-in-law)

When I was growing up, she said,
My father worked for Lockheed.
He found a scrap piece of rubber one day,
Thick rubber, like you might make a tire out of.
He punched some holes in it and made a handle
And brought it home to use as a flyswatter.
It was only used twice to swat a fly
And both times it broke the window instead.
So my mother used it to spank us with.
She could really whack that thing.
It got so she only had to wave it
And all of us children would scatter.
I remember my brother George getting whaled on,
Yelling, "You're killing me!" And she hollered back,
"What do you think I'm trying to do?"
After she died, we searched and searched,
But we never did find the flyswatter.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(The flyswatter is legendary in my husband's family. He remembers his brother getting smacked by it when Granny disapproved of something he did. He says he himself ran too fast to ever feel the business end of it.)

Monday, April 18, 2011


On the ticket:
Please admit one.
All right, there are things I’m willing to admit.
I admit I’ve eaten cookie dough after everyone’s asleep.
I admit I’ve never seen the appeal of auto races.
I admit I don’t like sprouts or tofu or sushi.
I admit I have no talent for remembering faces.
Not real enough.
Please admit one.

Not real enough? Then how about this?
I admit I was mean to that senior year roommate.
I admit I don’t clean the tub often enough.
I admit I get impatient and way too judgmental.
I admit I don’t want to admit any worse stuff.
Getting closer,
But please admit one.

No, that’s enough. Any farther and we’ll find
Things I don’t want to bring into the light.
Fear. Sadness. Selfishness. Pride.
Loneliness. Pettiness. Laziness. Lies.
Save the ticket, then. Grow up a little. Wait.
Admission good for any future date.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Phone Call

Tragedy in the news: a general kind of sadness.
Tragedy at home: a stunning blow, then working through.
Tragedy of a friend: the stunned moment lingers,
So little you can do.
So little you can do.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The First Warm Saturday

Our mower's noise blends
With two more across the street.
Cut grass smells like spring.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(Haikus are a lifesaver for this challenge when I forget to write a poem till late!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giving Blood

I'm kind of a coward. I don't like pain.
And needles are hard to ignore.
But I just look away as they find my vein
Because someone else needs it more.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Zoldar Came From a Yellow Star

Zoldar came from a
Yellow star in the
Xagron galaxy
Where everything goes backwards.
Very soon after he turned eighty, his daughter
Urged him to do some intergalactic
Traveling before he got any younger.
So it was that he came to Earth.
Right away he realized things were
Quite different than he was used to.
People here grew up, not down.
Old meant young and young meant old.
Not understanding this, Zoldar asked if he
Might question some Earth dwellers, as young as possible.
Luckily there was a suitable group handy at the
Kiddie Kare Center down the block.
Jenny, the daycare worker, sat Zoldar down
In the middle of a circle of two-year-olds.
He had some trouble deciphering their responses to his questions.
Giggles seemed to be the mode of communication
Favored by most; the others picked their noses and stared.
Earth seemed an interesting place, but Zoldar
Decided to return home early. It was
Comforting to get back to real life, where
Babies were the wise leaders
And the elderly were free to run and play.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This is an alphabet poem. It was fun to write.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sugar Free

On March 14 I decided to try it:
A month without sugar in my diet.
The first week it was hard to last.
The second week improved quite fast.
The third week passed by, barely blinking.
Now it's April 13 and I can't stop thinking
Of brownies, ice cream, lemonade,
Cinnamon bears, dark Milky Ways,
Chocolate pie, chocolate cake,
Root beer, doughnuts, strawberry shakes,
Muffins, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls,
M & Ms and cookie dough.
This may serve as a timely warning
Not to go shopping tomorrow morning.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This is a try at a list poem.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Backyard Thaw

ripple gurgle in the gutters, tink tink plink off eaves
squish steps slurp through squelching glurp
green points pushing poking, buds swelling burst becoming
chirp cheep twitter trill from trees and trees
smell the growing wet moist mud the spring

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(We were reading about sound poems today, and although this doesn't technically fit that form, it was fun to try to produce a picture through the sounds of words.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Poems of place

Today we read one of my favorite poems, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats. We talked about how poetry can create not only a picture of a place, but the way the place makes you feel. Here are the poems we wrote in response.

Private Library

(Inspired by "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats)

Open the door and enter, come into my library,
A stately room and peaceful, though simple in its taste.
No outside noise intruding, but calm tranquility,
A room designed to discourage haste.

The walls are lined with bookshelves, with every book I need.
A table holds my notebooks, a place to sit and write.
Soft chairs invite discussion, or curling up to read,
And windows fill the room with light.

Open the door and enter, for here your time is free,
Free to learn and study, to dream and plan and find.
Set down any burdens, and stay a while with me,
And let the quiet refresh your mind.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This is a response to the idea to write a poem of place. I wanted to keep the same rhythm and feel that Yeats's poem has, as well as writing about an ideal place where I can imagine being.)


High in the fortress
Looking down at the city
What silent secrets
Have been written in the dust?
Here's one, "Defend what you love."

~ M. Shoemaker
(Response to an idea to write a poem of place. This is also a tanka, a poem with the syllable count 5-7-5-7-7.)

The Cabin

The cabin that began Raventown,
On the mountain's cool, wide, open space.
Solitary, peaceful it would be
To live in that beautiful, wonderful place.

(Response to an idea to write a poem of place.)

To the Mountains

I find myself longing to go to the mountains
of Utah, and just sit still for hour after hour,
and be in that beauty and hear the birds singing
and the bees buzzing busily in the fields of wildflowers,
and the sound of the clear water in all the brooks flowing
and maybe go and see the changing of seasons
from summer to autumn to winter to spring,
and know that God did send me here for a reason.

(Response to an idea to write a poem of place.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Write a poem back to front?
Some would say one simply can't.
Direction doesn't matter, though.
This example goes to show
Poetry grows either way
And either way grows poetry.
This example goes to show
Direction doesn't matter, though
Some would say one simply can't
Write a poem back to front.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(Response to a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a poem backward, line by line. After a few lines I realized it would make sense forward as well, so it turned into this mirror poem just to see if I could make it work.)

Being 40

I think I will never go skiing again.
I loved it when I was 18 or so,
When my balance was good and I dared to go fast,
And falling was nothing to worry about.
Life has been busy since college and marriage
And money was short for some of those years,
So every winter I’d put it off.
And now when I think about downhill skiing,
Sure, I remember the swoop and the thrill,
But I also think about broken legs
And sliding down mountains out of control.
Being 40 apparently means
Becoming a practical realist.
Sure, I could go skiing again,
But would it be worth it? What would it prove?
Aren’t there easier ways to have fun?
But it’s strangely hard to let it go,
Just like it’s hard to comprehend
How far from 18
40 is.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This is a response to a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a "never again" poem.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Staying Up Late

"I’ll stay up till this load of laundry’s done."
But really, it’s not for the laundry’s sake.
Though it may seem a crazy kind of fun,
I love to be the only one awake.
To think or read or silently to sit --
No interruptions -- there’s no matching it.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This doesn't quite work the way I wanted it to, but it's too late to write something else for today!)

Friday, April 8, 2011


Millie climbed a tree
and climbed so very high
that she was climbing clouds
and then she touched the sky.
She raced the sun across the sky
until the day was done,
then she danced with the stars
till they left one by one.
When sunrise came she came down again,
down from that land so high,
but she will not forget that day
that she spent in the sky.

(Response to a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a nursery rhyme.)

The Benefits of Picky Eaters

Mrs. Bidds has picky kids.
She never does mistreat 'em,
She often bakes them pies and cakes
But they refuse to eat 'em.
They moan and sigh and sadly cry,
"We do not like the taste."
"Oh, no!" says she. "Well, give them to me,
So they won't go to waste."

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(Response to a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a nursery rhyme.)

Speaking in Church

"That was a great talk!"
Uh-oh, not this dilemma.
How do I answer?

~ M. Shoemaker
(The prompt was to write a three-line poem with one line ending in a period, one in an exclamation point, and one in a question mark, in any order.)


Wet, blue
Swim with fish
Discover a new world

~ M. Shoemaker
(Another cinquain after our lesson yesterday, this one following the word-count pattern.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Today we wrote cinquains during school time. Most of us chose to use the syllable-count form (2-4-6-8-2) and T. chose the word-count form (1-2-3-4-1). We tried using this structure:
Line 1 - noun
Line 2 - description of the noun
Line 3 - action
Line 4 - feeling or emotion
Line 5 - sum up, or restate line 1 in a different way

Here are the ones we came up with, plus a couple more poems from A. who was on a roll today!

Garden: On Hold

Spring snow
Hiding the new-tilled soil
Fresh tomatoes only a dream
We wait

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(The weather's been alternating between deceptively warm spring and snowstorms like we had today.)


Pink, or leather
Flirting, or using knife
Heroes fall for either of them
Who's right?

~ M. Shoemaker


Fluffy, smiling,
Spreading love everywhere.
I love him too.

~ T. Shoemaker
(Sunny is the name of his stuffed bear.)

Snow Fall

snow fall
silent, white, cold
falling down to the earth
covering it with a blanket
of snow



Summer seems so far away
As it snows again today,
Turning our back yard into
A land of cold, amazing view.

A frosty winter wonderland,
A new adventure on every hand.
A magical, frozen wilderness
Ruled by the winter's frosty kiss.

Silent, alert and watching all
Even as more flakes do fall,
Welcoming with its frosty hands
Travelers into its wintry lands.

Then when the snow melts again,
We long for the time once more when
The winter comes after the fall
And snow will come again for all.


An Ode to Selfishness

Why can't other people see
That their mediocrity
Comes nowhere near my grace and skill?
They won't. But they certainly will
Go on about their own feeble skill.
They talk and talk and bore you till
You have to tell them not to be rude
Or selfish, which is neither productive nor good.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time Travel

If I could go back in time
I’d write this poem earlier today.
I’d arrive promptly at 5 AM
And tell my other self, "Relax. Sleep in."
(Which I already did anyway.)
Then I’d get to work.
After composing a gem of literary genius
(Unlike this sorry specimen)
I’d tackle the rest of my to-do list.
No distractions would turn me from my path.
By this late hour (the second time)
I’d be sound asleep after a day well spent.

But I know myself better than that.
If I could go back in time
I’d probably put it off till tomorrow
And the next day and the next
Thinking I still had plenty of time.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Something to gnaw
Something to eat
Something to gnaw
Somewhere to sleep
Most of our world
Inside this cage
Living our lives
In boxed-off space
Happy to come out
For cage-cleaning time
Happy to go back
To burrow and hide
Something to gnaw
Something to eat
Something to gnaw
Somewhere to sleep

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(Response to an idea to write a poem from the point of view of a pet.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Piano Teacher

Once again, from the beginning.
Slow it down and keep it steady.
Careful with the rhythm. Remember,
Rests are just as important as notes.
Try a new fingering here and here,
And leave that note out if you can’t reach.
Good. Now add more feeling to it.
Different dynamics may bring it to life.
Keep working on it. You’re doing well.
Practice a little more every day
And it will pay off. See you next week.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This was sparked by a prompt at Poetic Asides to pick a type of person and write about him or her.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Strange how influential words can be:
Words can lift and heal, or crush and break.
Today words came from me that cut and raked
and sorry though I was, I would not yield.
Then a man spoke words as if for me:
Serve and love. Live the golden rule.
And suddenly my mind and heart felt whole.
How can I be crushed and yet be healed?

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This thought wanted to come out in iambic pentameter. It was interesting to play around with a different rhyme scheme and some slant rhyme, although I'm still not quite satisfied with the result.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Star Trek, Mission: Im-
possible, DS9, that
music is so cool!

~ T. Shoemaker
(T. says: "I was short of thoughts right then.")

Where All the Hot Water Went

And conservation
And warnings of summer drought
Lose most of their power
At the end of a shower
When you really don’t want to get out.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Friday, April 1, 2011


Calculator in one hand, pen in the other,
I creep line by line through the checkbook
To reconcile it with the bank statement:
A list that sums up a month of our lives.
Everything we bought, how we chose to spend
The money we traded hours and days for.
Here it all is, even the things we lost the receipts for.
No way to change it now,
The $6.97 blown on a fast food lunch
When craving seemed more important than nutrition,
Or the $25.50 for the overpriced shirt
Which turned out not to fit well
And got a stain anyway the first time it was worn.
But there are good memories too, tucked in between.
The time we got pizza and ate and talked and laughed.
The theater tickets for me and my daughter.
Seeds for the garden, paint for the house,
Even a few dollars freely given away.
When I reach the end, how comforting to see the numbers equal,
To draw a final line and write below it: "Balanced."
I imagine there will be a harder reconciling
When my life’s final statement comes.
I hope enough good will be recorded
In between the bad
To be able to say
It balances.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This grew out of balancing the checkbook this morning and noticing how it brought back to mind all the purchases I'd forgotten through the month, even the ones I didn't want to remember.)


a boy leading ducks
down to the river to drink
same as yesterday

~ A. Shoemaker


pine TREES, MISTLEtoe.
bullFROGS, GRASS growth.
green HERE, GREEN There.
greeN, GREEn.
And THAT, IS it.

~ T. Shoemaker
(T. says: "The all-capital parts are in upbeat. This poem is free verse." I think by "upbeat" he means spoken with a higher tone than the other parts, to create a rhythm.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The April Garden

A poem a day?
But what do I say?
And how to come up with so many?

I first have to find
A thought in my mind
And some days I doubt I have any.

I'll start with a seed
(Of flower or weed)
For sprouting and branching and linking,

And then when I know
The words that will grow,
I might understand what I'm thinking.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(This poem started when I was thinking about NaPoWriMo. The phrase "A poem a day" came to mind, and the rhythm immediately led on to the thought "but what do I say?" The rest grew out of trying to express the feeling of creating a poem.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

April is National Poetry Month

We recently found out about NaPoWriMo, a challenge to write a poem every day during the month of April. Several of us want to participate, so we decided to start this blog as a place to put what we write. I'm Tamary Shoemaker, the mom of the family, and M., A., and T. will also be contributing. None of us claim to be great writers, but we know the value of practice!