"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

Monday, April 30, 2012


I remember summer evenings,
Sitting on the porch steps together
Watching dusk fade into night.
Then all of a sudden down the driveway
Came a mass of bats flapping and lurching,
Racing outward for their nightly travels.
Just as suddenly it was over
And we sat and talked while the stars came out.

I remember the first time I learned
(From a friend's horrified expression)
That bat-watching wasn't considered normal.
And then I remember realizing
We were not quite normal in other ways too.
Normal is important to teenagers.

Later I grew up and understood
That normal is a fictional concept,
At least where families are concerned.
And my children now would consider it cool
To have bats flying down the driveway at night.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a poem using "I remember" three times.)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Double Dactyls

I saw a prompt at NaPoWriMo this morning to write a double dactyl poem. I wrote one, but the rhythm wouldn't get out of my head, so that's why there are two.

Highway commissioners
Must have a thing about
Living life slow;

Seeing my busyness,
They try to help me by
Closing roads everywhere
I want to go.


Our name is Shoemaker;
What could be simpler than
"Maker" and "shoe"?

Although the spelling is
People still try to start
"S - C - H - U."

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So That's Why It Takes So Long to Balance the Checkbook

The space inside my purse
Confounds the laws of physics.
I put receipts in as I spend
On various shopping visits,
But when I dump them out
To give them my attention,
They couldn't all have fit in there
Without a fifth dimension.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a poem of space.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Anywhere But There

Mommy, drive me in the car,
But not to go shopping for clothes.
Drive me where the fun things are,
But not to go shopping for clothes.
Drive me fast or drive me slow,
Drive me to a movie show,
Drive me where I want to go,
But not to go shopping for clothes.

Take me to the grocery store,
But not to go shopping for clothes.
Take me to see your friend who's a bore,
But not to go shopping for clothes.
To the bank or to the zoo,
To the park to play with you,
Or even a doctor visit will do,
But not to go shopping for clothes.

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012


The common earwig frightens me,
Upon her way proceeding;
She climbs up couches silently
And scares me when I'm reading.
But most of all I hate her name,
A horrible reminder
Of places, if she ever came,
I would not want to find her.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a poem about an animal.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

National Pastime

They're here! The finals of the Procrastination Sprint,
the event you've been intending to attend sometime.
Our featured contestant has been training all her life
and would surely be one of the top national contenders
if anyone had gotten around to calculating the statistics.
Just look at her scores going into this round.
Weeks, months, even years of putting off doing things
have all added up to a solid run for the gold.
And she's not one of those amateur players, the kind
that doesn't put their heart into it. No, she cares,
she feels the urgency of those to-do lists every day.
That may be what gives her the edge in these sprints.
Look, the deadline is approaching. She's calculating now,
waiting for the very last moment to start her race.
Will she ever make her move? -- Finally, there she goes.
A late start that may cost her the trophy. Could the pressure
be throwing her off her game? Or maybe she can pull it off yet.
You never know till it's over... Let's sit back and watch.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a poem about a sport.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Love Me Not

Love poems lie
and so do I
when I say you're my darling.

Your fervent kiss
would not be bliss
but rather quite alarming.

I court you still
and hope you will
rebuff as you've been doing,

for, terrified,
I seek to hide
behind a show of wooing.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write an anti-love poem.)

Monday, April 23, 2012


My babies and toddlers were early risers.
Five a.m., they were up and awake.
Sleep-deprived, I changed their diapers
and found them some toys (and on bad days, Barney)
and dozed on the couch between fusses and needs.
Years of that, and finally, heaven --
they all got older and learned to sleep in.
And I learned the wisdom of mornings for moms,
starting my day while children still slept,
using the quiet for reading and planning.
But lately my daughter's been coming down early
and using that quiet along with me.
She hardly speaks, mostly sits and reads,
but at first I wasn't sure I liked it.
Of course she's not doing anything wrong;
it's just that I'm used to that time alone,
and the selfish me isn't good at sharing.
But the other morning I looked up at her
and saw her, really saw her now,
tall and serious and going on fourteen,
doing her own thing while I do mine,
yet liking to be near me still.
That's worth sharing my mornings for.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a morning poem.)

Sunday, April 22, 2012


If I marked off a square inch
and counted the grass,
multiplied by 144
to get the blades in a square foot,
then measured the front yard,
length and width,
multiplied those
(subtract the driveway),
and multiplied again by the previous total,

that would be a big number.
And a lot of multiplying
(the dandelions have been doing that too).
So maybe I'd just better mow the lawn
and not think about the size of the job.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a poem about a plant.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Neighborhood Library

Silent space,
Shushing any speakers.

Gathering place,
All are welcome.

Chat while
Waiting to scan.

Answer questions,
Eager to help.

Shout aloud,
Finding new treasures.

Is broken,
But all's well.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to try a hay(na)ku.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Let's Not

Let's not
say the thing
we know will wound,
we know will sting.
Let's not
unearth the past,
the old offense,
the sins amassed.
Let's not
have this fight,
who's hurting who,
who's wrong, who's right.
Let's not
attack, defend.
Let it end.
Let it end.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a poem with the title "Let's _____.")

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I remember, before,
We spent our evenings walking, going out, talking till late,
Grasping every moment we could be together.
It was exciting, that time when love was blossoming.

Now, eighteen years later,
We still go out, we still talk,
But more often in the evenings
We find ourselves on separate sofas, watching old movies.
And every now and then
A clever line of dialogue, or an obvious plot twist,
Makes me look at you, and you're looking at me too,
Thinking the same thing and smiling.
We don't even need words unless we want them.

I'm glad I have you to share life with,
To enjoy it twice, for me and for you,
To feel love ripening and bearing fruit
That brings sweetness into every day.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a poem about a life event.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tree's Lullaby

Child beneath my leafy boughs,
Resting in my shade,
Watch my branches in the breeze
As they bend and wave.

You are rooted, you are safe,
You are strong and bright,
Moving gently with the wind,
Reaching for the light.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a lullaby.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No Unicorns Required

An ordinary hero
Who doesn't know her worth,
Sent into a conflict
Despite her fear.
Flavor it with something
Slightly beyond real,
And add the feeling:
You are here.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a fantasy poem.)

Monday, April 16, 2012


The path leads stumblingly up the hill,
takes a sudden corner, disappears from view.
I always meant to climb it, mean to still,
but now I wonder if I ever will
and if it will be worth it when I do.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a poem inspired by a picture.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Rest from my labor --
    put aside my daily tasks,
    the gathering of manna that sustains me,
    to open up my time for the work of God.

Rest from my burden --
    put aside my daily worries,
    the thoughts and cares that press in on me,
    to open up my mind for strength from God.

Rest from my pleasure --
    put aside my daily wants,
    the stubborn ways and words that limit me,
    to open up myself to feel the will of God.

~ Tamary Shoemaker

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sonnet 41

Alas for middle age and all its woe!
No longer can I put off exercise,
For extra poundage takes me by surprise
Thanks to Metabolism, my new foe.
The days of chowing down are now a dream,
The happy challenge of all-you-can-eat.
If I don't want to lose sight of my feet,
I must begin a more austere regime.
There's no solution but to change my ways:
Embrace the broccoli, savor celery.
The gym will be a second home to me.
At snack time, upon lettuce I will graze.
Tomorrow I'll adopt my noble plan
So I should eat this ice cream while I can.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a sonnet. You can probably guess what the number in the title means.)

Friday, April 13, 2012


He draws a card and I hope:
Anything but a 3.
Sure enough, he draws a 3.
Unlucky again,
Both of us.
Him, because he's losing.
Me, because I'm winning,
And now I have to decide
Whether to play to win or play to lose.
He needs to practice losing
But I can see his temper unraveling.
Games were never so complicated
When I was playing them for fun
And not for a child's character.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write an unlucky poem.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Something True

It wasn't the words, though the words were kind;
It wasn't the smile, but something behind --
Something that shone out, silently shared --
That convinced me you meant it when you said you cared.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a poem with the title "Something ___.")

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Summer (is a matter of opinion)

I'd like to take my time enjoying spring until it's gone,
But the kids say, We're dying! Can we turn the cooler on?

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to use a season as the title of a poem.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Grounding of T. S. Eliot

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like the unwashed dishes still upon the table;
Let us go find certain half-completed chores
That happen to be yours.
Oh, do not say, "Whatever."
You are not so very clever.
I have said it all already, said it all,
I have seen you playing X-box hours on hours,
And I have seen your clothes upon the floor after long showers,
And in short, you are a slob.
No! I am not your housemaid, nor was meant to be.
If you go to meet your friends-- if you dare ask for the car--
You will hear your father's yelling, worse by far.
I do not think you're listening to me.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to use a line from another poem as your first line. The first poem I thought of was The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, which I memorized in college and still remember parts of. Then it just turned into a parody and, well, it's 11 pm and that's as good as it's going to get tonight.)

Monday, April 9, 2012


The beetle scrabbles slowly
over hot and dusty ground,
then suddenly he stops,
amazed at what he’s found --
a New World drenched in coolness,
protected from the sun;
he will make his beetle home here
until the shade moves on.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a shady poem.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012


It’s one of those spring days
with an intermittent breeze –
all is still for a while, then
out of nowhere a little wind picks up,
moves across the yard,
dies back down to stillness once again.

The grass not mown yet this year,
tall blades stand uneven above the rest.
The wind blows, the tall blades bend,
the whole lawn ripples for a moment.

Boughs of the crab apple tree bounce gently,
their white blossoms still young enough not to fall.
A single petal drifts down and lands next to me.

The sun is warm, the breeze is cool.
The day knows what it wants to be
but I’m unsettled feeling both at once.

Across the street the trees barely move,
as if the rest of the world is asleep
and only right here it’s breathing, sighing,
dreaming? turning over? waking up?

A hawk glides silently overhead,
hardly moving its wings
till it passes out of sight.

The next breath comes
and the grass stirs, the boughs bend,
everything full of motion
like quivering readiness for something new.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to go outside and write a poem.)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Chess Club

A silent room
Eight people there
You can feel the thinking in the air.
A sudden movement
A sigh of chagrin
Without a word
The next match begins.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a poem where people interact without speaking.)

Friday, April 6, 2012


The dark chocolate candy bar
must be carefully placed
between the other items
so that none of it shows through the grocery bag.
Then it must be smuggled to the bedroom
with an air of nonchalance --
Just putting away the toothpaste,
Nothing to see here.
Then I lock the door.

I do not want to share.
I am tired of sharing.

So I eat my chocolate
like a jealous, greedy sneak,
listening for footsteps
and hurrying through the last bites in case I get caught.
It is delicious.

I hide the wrapper way down in the trash,
unlock the door and emerge,
guilty but not sorry,
to answer the calls of "Where's Mom?"

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a hiding poem.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012


The calendar says
the first day of spring
came and went without
my noticing.

Just weeks ago
when I searched the ground
for an insect (school project)
not one could be found.

But on the way out
to the car today
I looked around
and I was amazed:

Hum and chirp
and bud and sprout,
grass needs mowing,
hornets are out.

I'm glad I happened
to see all this
because spring is brief
and easily missed.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a "first day" poem.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Biology student blues

My cytoplasm's tired and my mitochondria are weak
I say, my cytoplasm's tired and my mitochondria are weak
But I've got three more chapters to study before I can sleep.

My cellular respiration's not proceeding efficiently
No, my cellular respiration's not proceeding efficiently
I swear I'm getting none of that glucose energy.

My cranium is drooping and I keep losing consciousness
Well, well, my cranium is drooping and I keep losing consciousness
That ol' levator palpebrae superioris just wants to rest.

I'll be full of serotonin when this final exam is passed
Oh, I'll have so much serotonin when this final exam is passed
Then drop straight to delta wave sleep and stay there for a day and a half.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a blues. The effect isn't quite the same without the music. Good thing these aren't being graded.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Sorry, self,
for spending too much,
flossing too little,
speaking before thinking,
staying up too late,
and waiting till the last minute to do things.
Just to name a few irritating habits.
I don't see us changing anytime soon
And a trial separation won't really work
So I guess the best solution
Is to learn to live with ourself
And try to be a little more considerate.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write an apology poem.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

The First Mosquito of Spring

A familiar faint whine past the ear
Told us we had an unwelcome guest.
Now the children can't sleep for their fear
They'll be snacked on all night while they rest.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(From a prompt at Poetic Asides to write a poem about a visitor.)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Seize the Day

You talk with her and watch for that rare word that brings the light.
Catch hold and savor with her any memory still bright.
You see what she has lost, years lost; she only sees the day.

Try not to mourn too much what slips away in her forgetting.
Look closer. You will see that she does not waste time regretting.
Live now. Be here with who she still is to you; seize the day.

~ Tamary Shoemaker
(Response to NaPoWriMo prompt to write a "carpe diem" or "seize the day" poem, after spending a day with a close relative suffering from Alzheimer's.)