Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Apr 30, 2009

(NaPoWriMo) No. 30 is it true that people

is it true that people

sometimes hand down the ashes
of their dead

on purpose,

or do they just happen to leave them

for others’ decisions

because they could never bear
to let them go
in their own lifetime,

because they couldn’t imagine
the right time or perfect place

that could hold
such beloved ashes forever

for them?

--Zann Carter (04.30.09)

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Apr 29, 2009

(NaPoWriMo) No. 29 in illness i am so present

in illness i am so present

i can hardly imagine


i focus on my breathing,

not in the way focus-on-breath
becomes meditation

but in the way that one watches
for signs of deteriorating conditions:


in illness no plans can be made
can only be unmade,
responsibilites unraveled

until guilt festoons the room,
though everyone says they understand.

don’t ask me to decide anything.
do not seek my wisdom today.

“tapioca pudding & fresh strawberries”
will be my answer to every question.

in illness i am easily tipped over,
too close to all the grief,
crying about my mother.

yet i am absurdly happy

because i washed my hair yesterday
because it spreads out, clean and soft,

on the white pillow around me.

--Zann Carter (04.29.09)

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Apr 28, 2009

(NaPoWriMo) No. 28 sick and waiting

sick and waiting

for sicker

i know
how these things go

how illness
breaks over me

like a wave
and gets the worst

when it rolls through
my chest.

my head’s
not quite balanced,

it’s a raggedy doll’s head,
stuffed and bobbing

on the aching piling
that is my neck.

i’m alert
for wheezes

between bowls
of soup vitamins echinacea

salt water sprays
and gargles,

catching up
with the soaps

where such mundane
illness is the least

of worries.

--Zann Carter 04.28.09

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Apr 27, 2009

CODEPINK: Knitivism for Peace & Mother's Day

Short notice on this, but it's still doable!

Copied from the CODEPINK website:

A Radical Act of Knitting in honor of Mother's Day!

Calling all CODEPINK knitters! We are creating a beautiful, quilted cozy to cover the fence in front of the White House to honor Mother's Day. The message will be “We will not raise our children to kill another mother’s child”-inspired by Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation. We’ll be piecing it together from individual squares knitted by YOU as part of the 24 hour Mother’s Day vigil for Women who live in War Zones. The best part is you don’t have to be an experienced knitter to help! This is perfect for knitters of all skill levels—and a great opportunity for those who want to learn! Celebrate the time honored tradition of the radical act of knitting. How-to-knit page here (just in case!)

Go to the site for all the details. Basically they just want 4X4 tightly knit or crocheted squares, pink and green (a ratio of about 5:1.)

They need them by next Monday, May 4, so they probably need to be mailed by Thursday, maybe Friday. It's doable! I pledged 6 squares a couple of hours ago and am almost finished with my third.
I've already received acknowledgment of my pledge note, too - CODEPINK women rock!


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(NaPoWriMo) No. 27 when i am missing miami

(for ian)

when i am missing miami

and try to think just what
it is i am missing, i know
it’s not the place or the light
or even the sea.

i am really missing 1973 or so,

the time in my life
when i didn’t have enough
but didn’t have too much,
didn’t know too much,
hadn’t given my heart
to so much,

when days just unfolded

and unplanned hour after hour
stretched out languidly,

when what i loved most
could sit in a seat
on the back of my bicycle,
and laugh and laugh
with me all the way
through the park
to the sun-spangled bay.

--Zann Carter 04.27.09

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Apr 26, 2009

(NaPoWriMo) No. 26 i have moved away

i have moved away

from her
for a moment,

wanting to see
the forest of her

i see how green she is,
how much her life reaches
devouring light,

how the shadows of flying
birds, great and small,
shift across her face.

i see the birds come to rest
in her,

laying eggs,
dropping feathers,
dropping shit, singing

to the sun.

i see clearings
filled with stones, layered
with things fallen
and decayed.

i see the designs water has carved
in the earth of her

and how water carries
pieces of her

and i see where great storms
pounded, rearranged

and i see

rainbows bending

--Zann Carter (04.26.09)

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Apr 25, 2009

(NaPoWriMo) No. 25 log: earth day 2009

log: earth day 2009

soon we will leave
for the Indian restaurant
where we are meeting friends.

early this morning,
i dreamed something complicated
about a garbage can problem
in an unfamiliar kitchen.

the solution was utterly simple

and involved a bold decision
to change everything
about the garbage can

today is brilliantly spring.

it feels like a great gift
with no irony or strings

i am wearing sandals.

tiny green leaf buds sing
silly little notes

that rise like bubbles

into the enormous sky.

i can see them.

today i’ve thought about:
the death of a dear elder friend last night
ashes gratitude
forgiveness & how to hug
someone you don’t want to hug you back.

today i’ve read
some Wallace Stevens

Borges & misc.


this afternoon
Steph’s tiny puppy curled
into my neck and slept
on me.

before that
a hawk sailed over my head
robins greeted me

my dog said I love you
a thousand ways

and now my husband’s
filling the house
with music

before we go.

--Zann Carter 04.25.09

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Apr 24, 2009

(NaPoWriMo) No. 24 this dark moon night

this dark moon night

reminds me i haven’t returned
a particular call.

that goddess
at the crossroads has been patient

for years

with a kindness thick
as honey,

piled on top of the fierce,

waiting for my answer.

she knows i’m afraid
of all she knows,

says she has all the time
in the worlds

for a child like me.

--Zann Carter 04.24.09

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Apr 22, 2009

Scribble Lace Shawl No. 2

The search terms that lead people here that I seem to see most often are "lizards, leaves" and "scribble lace." So here's a post for the latter searchers, to go with my one previous post on the subject.

Essentially, scribble lace (a technique unvented by Debbie New), gets its effect from combining a very fine yarn (even a thread!) with a much bulkier yarn. If done to the best effect, the bulky yarn becomes a scribbly doodle-like line on the background of the fine yarn.

This is the second shawl I've made using this technique, the pattern for which was once posted for free on Magknits, but is no longer available since that site was deleted. It was called Squiggle Shawl and the designer is Shelley Mackie. I never actually downloaded the pattern and when I wanted to make this shawl was incredibly disappointed that it was gone. I searched and found it listed on Ravelry, but it has only the defunct Magknits link for the full directions. It does have a great description and picture included.

I had scribbled (haha) some notes on it when I first encountered the pattern, and was able to find them and, along with the picture's help, piece together a plan for a reasonably similar, if not identical version.

The ingredients: 3 yarns - a baby loopy from my stash, Claudia Handpaint Kid Mohair and Colinette Point 5. (The above is what is leftover from each skein after knitting my shawl!)
I used Denise needles. I actually knit the entire shawl with two different needle sizes, on one end #13, #15 on the other. This was not an accident. You are supposed to cast on and off with a larger needle, so that your edges aren't too tight and will stretch out with the lace. I chose to change only one needle to the smaller size after casting on.

I also wanted to use a seriously thick and thin yarn for my bulky yarn choice. Too much of the scribbble lace I see online has a linear sameness, looks just like rows of bulky, fat stitches, alternating with rows of lace, and does not have the scribble effect. I hoped that the differing needle sizes and yarn choice would keep my piece squiggly, scribbly, scrawly.

Basically, it's all garter stitch. I wanted 7 rows of the squiggle. I began and ended with two rows of the baby loopy mohair. You can probably figure out a version for yourself from my pictures. I don't feel comfortable posting more detailed instructions, since this really is pretty close to Shelley Mackie's original.

I'm not quite finished with this, as I haven't completed the fringe - one nice thing about this pattern is that you just leave long ends when changing yarns. I still have to knot these and want to add a bit more.

I'm pretty pleased with how this one came out, though it's still very linear. I just love the idea of this thick/thin yarn meandering more. The next time I try scribble lace, I want to do it in a swirl or circular form. I came across a gorgeous example of this, but cannot find it again. When I do, I will post the link here.

Meanwhile, enjoy Ingrid - in-Sweden's scribble lace moebius (she's generously written up the pattern in English )and check out her scribble lace pictures.

And take a look at Jersey Knitter's scribble lace shrug.
I like it a lot.

happy scribbling,

Apr 19, 2009

No. 20 a poem for 2 voices

Last Thursday night, my granddaughter Raven participated in our monthly open poetry reading at Coffee Grounds. She read two original poems and then she read two poems with me from the wonderful book, Joyful Noise/Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman. Two-voice poems are buckets of fun to do with kids and we had a great time. Raven pointed out that we should really try to do the unison parts with the exact same inflections so we worked hard on that. I believe that we got the effect we wanted as someone came up afterwards and said we sounded like aliens. I am going to believe that was a good thing.

The other day I remembered a couple back in Miami who regularly read at Books & Books readings. They often wrote and performed poems spoken together and, though I don't remember particular poems they did, I remember always enjoying them a great deal. So I started thinking that I might like to work on some poems for two voices, and I started with one written for me and Raven to do.

Unfortunately, I haven't a clue as to how to post it here and retain the formatting (which is crucial so you can see the two separate columns of parts and see which lines are meant to be spoken by one person and which lines are meant for two voices.) I spent more time trying to figure out how to post it than I did writing the poem!

Finally, what I was able to do was save it from Appleworks as a page of html (after learning that tabs and regular spaces won't save right, that you have to use option-space for multiple spaces) and upload the page to my web space.

So now, you'll have to click on yet another link to see today's poem. You'll also have to use your imagination and hear two voices reading some of the lines, and it should be fairly clear just which lines those are.

A poem for two voices: Zannma & Raven


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No. 19 this is the urge today

this is the urge today

to pare much away,

to own only
3 black t-shirts
and 2
pairs of jeans

a blue bowl
and 1 spoon

to take the knife
even to my thoughts
so they are:

and ring
like crystalline bells
in my head--

so much clarity
i become



& finally breathe

in a


--Zann Carter 04.19.09

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Apr 18, 2009

No. 18 today at the bookstore

today at the bookstore

my husband plays saxophone
on the sidewalk,

while inside the sun
bounces from cars passing by.

reflections slide continuously
across one wall,
where brilliant patches of light flare

and my husband’s shadow appears
and disappears
over and over again.

i buy a worn bar chair
from the nightclub next door.
i sell a Dorothy Parker
short story collection,
1939, hardback in dj,

breaking even for the day.

i watch my husband’s shadow,
adoring the cool silhouette--his hat,
the sinuous grace of the horn--

feeling anxious
each time he vanishes,
relieved at each return

as his music shimmies through the air
glides right through to me,
through the space & the glass
between us.

i think about how i will sit
in my tall new chair
and spin wool,

how shifting strands
will glide through my fingers,
twist and join,

become a fine line
connecting me

to the spiraling
so quickly
to the

--Zann Carter 04.18.09

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Apr 17, 2009

No. 17 in the flood of '93

in the flood of ‘93

we fled our home
waded into the night
into a black sea
that glittered and moved
in moonlight
where the parking lot
should be.

with one tote bag
hastily packed,
dolls and towels
and string game books
and crosswords
and knitting,

we would be amused
in disaster.

Patrick was still
with us then,
just a small boy.
Molly screamed,
Shaun thought his art
would be safe on the bed.

Later, we’d go back
to salvage.

There’s a picture of Patrick,

in the hotel elevator
clutching an armful of cereal box
robots, creations
that survive
now only
in memory & pictures

as Patrick himself
now only

--Zann Carter 04.17.09

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Apr 16, 2009

No. 16 the other night the rain on the roof

the other night the rain on the roof

didn't make me anxious
as it has since the flood
a decade ago

and for a long time
i lay awake

and the rain on the roof
was as it was
most of my life, my life before.

the other night there was
the dear dog curled by my knees
and the dear child curled at my side

and there was their breathing
and their hearts

and the dear child and the dear dog
and the rain on the roof
and all our breathing
and all our hearts simply


worked a spell
with this dreamy, drowsy chant:

it gets
no better
no better
no better

than this.

--Zann Carter 04.16.09

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Apr 15, 2009

Sister Helen Prejean - ISU Human Rights Day

Yesterday I attended the 8th annual Human Rights Day event at Indiana State University. Before Patrick died, I regularly participated in this event, attending planning meetings and presenting the case for abolition of capital punishment with an information table, resources, and activities.

I have not been active in the movement for awhile, but if you're interested in that part of my life, a google search unearths more than you probably want to know.

Last month, I had the pleasure of seeing my old friend Bill Pelke, of Journey of Hope, From Violence to Healing when he did a mini-Journey back here in Indiana (his home state.)

It was good to reminisce about our experiences here when he was here in the early 00s, to assist with our protests and vigils surrounding the first Federal executions in 40 years. In all aspects, the death penalty is grim and painful, but in the work of death penalty abolition, there is cameraderie and friendship, and an extraordinary journey into the deepest realms of loss, grief, rage, forgiveness, compassion and love.

Yesterday, I was very happy to meet and spend quite a nice time with Sr. Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, founder of The Moratorium Campaign and a tireless worker for the abolition of the death penalty. We spoke for awhile before her giving the keynote talk for the day, then she signed books, and invited me to lunch. While she was signing books, I had the opportunity to re-connect with several of the Sisters of Providence that I have worked with on this issue as well.

When Bill was here, he mentioned that Sr. Helen had been at his home in Northern Indiana when her book first came out and she had the publisher ship her copies there. He related how special it was to be there when she opened the box and saw her book for the first time.

It thrilled me, when I was speaking to Sr. Helen and mentioned I had recently seen Bill Pelke, that she immediately related the same story. It just seemed really interesting to hear it again from her perspective - and that for her, thinking of Bill reminds her of first seeing her book, or that thinking about first seeing her book will remind her of Bill. And that Bill connects with her in that way in his memory...

I always find it interesting how we remember, what we remember, what we don't remember...

This is a picture of Chris Hitz-Bradley and his daughter Anna.

Chris is the president of the Indiana Information Center to Abolish Capital Punishment (IICACP) and they drove over from Indianapolis to table at Human Rights Day. I was supposed to be sitting with them, and I did, off and on, but abandoned them entirely for a time when Sr. Helen extended the lunch invitation.

After lunch, I connected with some other community activists and left the event feeling well nourished in human contact with like minds. It made me quite happy to be sort of a social butterfly for the day, networking, greeting old friends, instead of spending 7 hours behind a table! Sorry, Chris!


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No. 15 i am listening: waiting

i am listening: waiting

for the trees
to speak to me.

i know that i must become still
and slower than i can ever imagine

that i must take root
in a silence

that has its own atmosphere
and gravity

that i must be
more present
than i can ever possibly

i practice.

it is the deepest voice
i want to hear

a voice that is the essence
of patience itself.

i have questions.

what i hear today
is just leaves chattering:
they say
“we seek the light
that is seeking us and you

should go play.”

--Zann Carter 04.15.09

Apr 14, 2009

No. 14 Carol papered her walls with poems,

Carol papered her walls with poems,

there are thousands.

It was her great dilemma, deciding
whose and which and where

and, after creating a careful
composition of women poets

that began in the kitchen
in a tight mass

then spilled out
and poured into the sunroom,

Carol was so exhausted

she gave up
trying to make a coherent

trying to please
all the poets and her own
sensibilities, so

Bukowski is pasted
next to Whitman who’s by
Jorie Graham above
Pablo Neruda


and so on.

Happy accidents abound.

Ironic ones, too:
Plath by Hughes...

Strange configurations develop
at parties, odd high traffic areas

and Carol has had to decorate
with stepstools and small ladders

to accomodate

her guests , who all tend to stand
with their faces turned to the walls.

When people come over for tea at four
they find they cannot leave

until they read

Now special status attaches
to a group composed
only of those who’ve read it all, the canon

of Carol’s walls.

--Zann Carter 04.14.09 (for Carol Narigon, who wrote the Facebook remark that inspired)

Apr 13, 2009

No. 13 a little bit of synesthia makes

a little bit of synesthia makes

life interesting

and hard
to explain,

but i like
knowing the colors of letters
and days of the week

(E is yellow, Monday is red)

and seeing
the shape of dogs’ barks

(brown, amorphous and shifting)

most of them float
as though filled
with helium -
a colorless, odorless, tasteless
gas which, by the way,

is silver
and smells smooth
and tastes

like ice.

--Zann Carter 04.13.09

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Apr 12, 2009

Felted Bat

Taking a little break from poetry to do something fiber-related as I promised...

On Tuesdays I spend time with my granddaughter Raven. This book, Wool Pets by Laurie Sharp,

just happened to arrive last Tuesday and Raven immediately wanted to do some needlefelting.

First, though we had to go down to the basement to dig out undyed wool in various natural colors: black, browns, grays and whites. She was both horrified and impressed at the unspun fiber I've managed to amass over the years since I began to spin - as with yarn, my roving stash has gone to SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy.)

We made cups of tea, took a moment to enjoy the first sips, then embarked on a good look through the book. There are some very compelling little critters to create in wool, along with well-illustrated directions. After looking at the book, before deciding what we'd like to do, we took a moment to look at (and ooh and ahh and admire) this fellow:

an as-yet-unnamed gift from the amazing mind & felting needles of Linda Sue, who is inspirational to me (there isn't even an adjective or superlative to adequately express just how inspirational) and has a quirky nature accompanied by a large, generous heart. She's special.

After we felt all humble and inadequate before the needlefelting virtuousity that went into the making of NoName Fellow, we felt ready to embark on a learning experience. Raven chose Bat to work on and I followed suit.

Digression: On Felting Needles

Awhile back, I took the time to try to understand the various gauges of felting needles, which seems to me to be: triangle needles in sizes 36 (coarse) 38 (medium) and 40 (fine). Then there is a star needle in size 38 (the star-shape of the needle means more barbs.) Maybe there are other sizes, but these are the needles in my stash and I think that I have sufficient variety and supply.

I then organized all the needles and labeled the containers, then turned to felting needle holders. In the picture above you can see I have the plastic Clover holders which hold 5 needles each and have a pretty nifty locking safety guard. However, I'm not sure what size needles are in them - Clover just labels them "Fine Weight Needle" and "Heavy Weight Needle" and, frankly, I can't tell which is which now, they don't seem to felt much differently.

By far, my favorite to work with are single needles that I put in the made-in-Germany wooden holders I get from Nova Natural. I also like the one that holds 4 needles.
I wrote needle sizes on the tops with a fine Sharpie, so that I know just which needle I'm using.

Raven moved right along on her Bat, and then, as Raven does, she went her own way - she chose to make rather spooky white wool eyes rather than the sewn-on beads in the instructions, and she also chose to add wisps of brown wool in the ears and to the underside of the wings.

I copied Raven with mine (actually, mine wasn't going so well and Raven wound up completing it for me!) and here is my bat along with Morty, the little paperclip Dio des los Muertos figure I made last fall. They do seem to make a good pair!

I know, I know. Bats and skeletal creatures are not exactly Eastery or spring-like, but I don't have much control over the creative flow much of the time, just go along for the ride.

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No. 12 Large hole suddenly

Large hole suddenly

appears on Ohio Street,
traps man’s car

and i wonder who
forgot to maintain

the illusion
of the street.

i know
the effort it takes
to hold

the idea
of pavement

the idea
of solid ground
beneath one’s wheels.

i know
the effort it takes
not to fall

into holes

to drive
right over them

and go on.

--Zann Carter 04.12.09
Notes: For a long time, I've had a clipping in my notebook, with the headline, "Large Hole Suddenly Appears on Ohio Street, Traps Man's Car." I actually happened on the scene when it occurred, though I was just diverted to another street and didn't have any idea what had happened. The story, and the thought of just driving along and having the street open up and grab one's car, horrified me. I knew I wanted/needed to make a poem with that headline. Nothing I did before ever seemed right, but I pulled it out to try once again for NaPoWriMo, and I'm fairly pleased with this.

As for NaPoWriMo, I'm also pleased with what the experience is teaching me. Having to come up with a completed poem every day that I am willing to post has made me more conscious of just what I do in my process that works for me. I am a little more ruthless. Often I had to let poems sit awhile before I was willing to part with bits that just didn't work but I loved too much to let go. The time constraints don't allow me that steeping period.

When I started this challenge, I wondered how much poetry I'd write that I would include in readings, be proud of. So far, out of the twelve poems I've written, I just love two (the Tai chi poem and this one) and there are two others I like very much (No. 2 and No. 8.) And I'm not ashamed of any.

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Apr 11, 2009

No. 11 my life in terms of fat

my life in terms of fat

goes like this:
once i was
skinny skinny

and anxious
just a slim raw
of a girlwoman

smoking & writing

not an ounce of fat
full of wasps
and angst

and then i met
a good eccentric man
who could
love eccentric me
had two more

stopped smoking
& writing

and was plump
and round
and happy

full of gnomes
and fairy

but full, too,
of longing
for something

and now
i’m fat
and sad

full of angels
and grief

and know my old longing
was for creating

and i do
oh i do.

but now,
fat and sad

i’m full of a longing
for something else
that can
neverever be--

a little
bit of the sad
is because
i’m fat.
a little
bit of the fat
is because
i’m sad.

--Zann Carter 04.11.09

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Apr 10, 2009

No. 10 our electric grid

our electric grid

coal-fired power plants
spew carbon into the air.

a mishmash of

(9,200 generators streams vital electrons
along 300,000 miles of aging, inefficient

transmission lines.

And one untrimmed tree
in the wrong place
could plunge a quarter
of the country

into darkness.

--Zann Carter 04.10.09 (found poem: Wired Magazine, April 2009, p. 79.)
(picture from

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Apr 9, 2009

No. 9 and there you are: just waiting

and there you are: just waiting

for things to happen.

you created a blind,

where you crouch down
waiting for your life
to wander by

but when it does,
you cannot show yourself
you do not leap out
and claim it

(tame it, ride it, argue with it, stroke it, listen to its humming)

you sit there watching it pass by
your mouth open in awe and envy

and fear.

it moves gracefully,
powerful & radiant,
more beautiful than you had ever imagined
your life could be.
it pauses, drinks from the nearby stream
(giving you such opportunity!)

and moves on.
(carrying radiance with it, leaving you

in your familiar dark.)

--Zann Carter 04.09.09

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Apr 7, 2009

No.8 tandy taught me: something important






tandy taught me: something important

how good it is to say “I love you”
whenever you feel
like it.

I remember
when we were sixteen
meeting for sunrises
over the bay

and cheap breakfasts

before the drag
of the high school

and i remember her
the Tom Thumb diner
one morning

and turning at the door,
how she called out “I love you”--

Red Balloons

that floated from her mouth,
over the crowd
and the conversation,
the bacon sizzle,

that floated right to me,
hovered above my head

long white strings
tickling my cheeks

and making me smile.

I remember I didn’t feel
or worry
everyone would think
we were lesbians

I remember I just felt


--Zann Carter 04.08.09

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No. 7 Found Poem: Brooklynhenge


Then, just like that,
the light
was gone.

The doorbell
rang again:
too late.

-- Zann Carter 04.07.09 Found poem from The New Yorker 03.30.09 p 24 Talk of the Town

Notes: Found poems are fun, but I always hesitate to include them when I do readings, or even think of them as "my" poems, even when I have drastically reworked the words, phrases and sentences taken from another text. I am going to rethink this reluctance.

The above is what calls a "pure" found poem. It is two lines taken directly from the cited article, in the order they were.

In 1986, I created the following poem, from rearranged bits and pieces from, again, a New Yorker article (the New Yorker just seems to have the best words and phrases!)

Summer Party

All the world's windows
are black jewels
flecked with gold

midnight silhouettes
transformed in a glittering
with mirrors.

Everyone's sunk
in the padded elegance
of conversation,
lost in the echoing,

decadence of marble,
forgetting deliberately
the thin purple

of cells, their eccentric
red symphonies,
how life
is a dance

always on glass.
At dawn
pale celebrants

bewildered and so
surprised, stranded
in oblivious
pink light,

the consuming loss
of the season
a far laugh
in the playful dunes.

--Zann Carter (1986) Found poem from New Yorker article

Apr 6, 2009

strange shelfmates

My poetry books used to be very well organized, now they are just haphazardly shelved. It seemed interesting to me the other day to contemplate the juxtapositions of poets on my shelves...

Allen Ginsberg stands next to Homer

Nikki Giovanni hangs out with Mary Oliver...
Yoko Ono is snuggled between Lorca and Diane DiPrima

Szymborska and Clampitt (I suspect Amy does most of the talking...)

and Sappho cosies up with e.e. cummings (next door to Paris and an old house covered in vines...)

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No. 6 sometimes i feel like i'm just

sometimes i feel like i’m just

a container
for an infinite river
of tears

but each morning
i awake and try
to be more



--Zann Carter 04.06.09

Note: Picture is a piece by Kathe Kollwitz, 1938, Lamentation

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Apr 5, 2009

No. 5 when i do tai chi sometimes

when i do tai chi sometimes

there is a falling-in-place
and suddenly my skin
fits me

and the present
fits me
like a second skin

and inside i am a poem
i am inside a poem

inside my skin
i am inside a poem

i am inside my skin
inside a poem
about water

and my hands move
around another poem
hands in clouds
pushing a mountain

tying my coat
on the left side
right side
thrust & parry

when i do tai chi sometimes
i am in
my skin
in the poem
of the moment

loving all the stars
just as they are.

--Zann Carter 04.05.09

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Apr 4, 2009

No. 4 island flirtatious

I want to tell the story of this poem.
Last night, at BookNation, the bookstore I'm now working with (yup, finally getting to sell books in an actual store again), we stayed open later for the monthly First Friday downtown. We decided to hold PoetryNation - an event to kick off the observance of National Poetry Month.

Sarah Long and I planned a reading, and some wordplay activities.
While I was setting up, my husband Paul was playing saxophone outside, something he has been doing on Friday afternoons when I'm working at the store.
It was very chilly - he's the hooded figure seen through the window in the picture below:
I was setting up, and decided to do one of the activities myself, to have some examples to show when we presented it to others. This poem was written as a Word-Ticket Post-It Note poem, a poem-generator activity I created based on the wonderful idea of Word Tickets, described in the book Poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge:

Here's some Word Tickets. I have a huge bag of them, created years ago when I was going writing workshops with our homeschooling group. I've now had the delight of getting them out again to use in my workshops with Maple Center and at ArtReach.
I think that's a poem, certainly a very evocative pairing of words, right there...two random tickets I pulled out to make the picture.

To do Word Ticket Post It Note poems, I use my bag of Word Tickets, a bag of starter lines, Post-It Notes and a timer. You draw two words, a starter and have 5 minutes to write a poem on the Post-It. The results I've had every time I've used it with groups have been very gratifying.

When I wrote the poem above, here's what happened:

I drew the words "island" and "flirtatious" and the starter "I turned to my..."
Paul was playing on the sidewalk in front of the store, his back to me. I was writing in the window. I wrote:

I turned to my husband
feeling a bit silly,
a bit flirtatious,
and said, Come away with me,
sweetest pea,
to an island with mountains
white sand and bluest can bring
your saxophone.

It made me smile. Then I looked up out the window to see Paul was turned to me, playing 'Til There Was You' and our eyes met and there was this....Moment. Connection. Me with a silly smile about the poem, about him, his wonderful music, our eyes meeting.
Sweet indeed.

More pictures from the set-up for the event:

This is this year's National Poetry Month poster from the Academy of American Poets, along with a basket of dozens of quotations about poetry. We invited people to take three: one for themselves, another for a friend and one for a stranger.

Our sign-up table, with hand-outs and materials for our adaptation of the poetry game, Exquisite Corpse. Our version involved Post-It Notes of course (I love me the Post-Its) - we invited people to write their nouns, verbs, adjectives on them and put them in the appropriate container. Later we pulled them at random and created our surreal group poems on a display board. The Word Ticket Post-It Poem-Making Center.

Unfortunately, our event wasn't very well attended - the art galleries downtown had some major goings-on last night as well. However, we had fun and it was good experience in my fledging efforts to learn to facilitate writing workshops, etc.
If you'd like a copy of the handout I created which we will have available in the shop all month, here it is in pdf form:
PoetryNation Handout

I based it on material found at the Academy of American Poets website, 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month. That is such a great site, do go there often - you will be rewarded with poetic riches!


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Apr 3, 2009

No. 3 tea: even the word

tea: even the word

is delicious.

drinking tea
i drink air and light.

tea-thoughts rise

take me floating

i must ground

for tea
ungrounds me, but

it’s such delicious

--Zann Carter 04.03.09

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Apr 2, 2009

No.2 - Bitter and beautiful: all winter

Bitter and beautiful: all winter

those words haunted me.

Day after day
Crow perched on them

and turned her sad
wise eyes to mine.

One winter I plan to grow

so Crow will make me
her baby.

She will carry me from
bitter to beautiful

and back again
over and over

and I will sleep
and sleep

through it all.

----Zann Carter 04.02.09

As usual, I am making my own set of rules. I will write a poem every day and I will post a poem that I have written every day. It just may not be the poem I wrote that day.

I actually started on March 31. Just wanted to see if I could indeed write a poem that was relatively acceptable, blog-worthy, in a brief period of time. My intention is to spend a half-hour or so on this each morning. I might let it steep a bit during the rest of the day, make some changes here and there. I might play around with ideas for the next day’s poem.

So yesterday, April 1, I posted the poem I wrote March 31. I also wrote another poem in the evening. I wrote another poem yesterday morning. And last night. I may be so inspired and filled with poetry focus that I write all 30 poems for the month very I am not going to be so strict with myself as to just when I write the poem that I post each day on the blog.

The poems will, however, all be new (though I may use old notes as starters), written quickly, without a lot of agonizing editing.

I also want to use this challenge to write shorter poems than I usually write, to experiment, allow myself a to take a different poetic path than my usual path, to play with chance and found poems. Fun - this girl just wants to have wordy fun and is having it (despite the somewhat bleak nature of the first two poems I've posted.)

As For Fiber-related Work....
I'm deeply engaged with completing my pieces for the International Freeform Fiberarts Guild 2009 Challenge/Exhibit. We're not supposed to write about our submissions in detail, so I can say no more than that right now.

You can see the challenges for the past three years here. I was able to participate in 2007, but missed last year and getting in the book that was done. I believe there will be a book created again this year. All profits from the sale of the book benefit Women for Women International.

I'm tremendously excited about working on this as I almost thought I was going to have to pass on the challenge again this year. Creative energy seems to be pretty thick and intense for me right now. I'm also excited because the piece that was created from our 2007 scrumbles has been displayed numerous times since and this month is going to be displayed and (hopefully) sold at Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC, the money again going to Women for Women.

That's it - the eghan or elementsghan. Here you can see the individual freeform artists' scrumbles for earth, water, air and fire. Imagine the work to assemble them into this splendid piece! We have the awesome Myra Wood to thank for that. I remember Myra being so patient and responsive to my questions back then. I love Myra's book on crocheting freeform lace:

and am eagerly awaiting her upcoming book on freeform knitted lace.


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Apr 1, 2009

No. 1 this morning: the sky

this morning: the sky

was a lowering wall
of grayscale.

i stepped into mist
and drizzle

into a bonechilling
damp wind

& saw the one daffodil

the only spring herald
in my sad lawn

it seemed brave
in its dancing
to the wind’s tune,

singing its own yellow
into the gray

and so alone

less a herald
than a last


----'Zann Carter 04/01/09

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