nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

final touches

with 8 comments

So, after a month of organizing and sorting the poems in my ‘forty-years-of-writing bone pile,’ I have three illustrated books of poetry ready for the next step:

‘niche’ – poems about the spaces occupied by plants and animals, including humans, as they search for home. A good friend of mine has written the Foreword for ‘niche’ and I am looking forward to adding his name to the cover.

niche cover pp

‘blueberries and mink: summers on my grandfather’s farm’ – poems about life on the farm and the changes over the years.

Blueberries and mink cover pp

‘ghosts are lonely here’ – poems about abandoned buildings and other elements of the countryside.

ghosts are lonely here cover pp

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Now that I have everything sorted, I know I have more collections to work on, but this is enough for now. My computer is more organized than it has been in years..

The next step in the process is to request Proofs. Once I get these proofs, I will do one more round of edits and make a few final decisions on formatting. Then I will publish them, using KDP. I have no intention of marketing these. I will get enough copies for family and friends who would like to read them.

Requesting Proofs is tricky right now. Amazon has turned its efforts to making and shipping Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). I don’t mind being patient.

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Sample drawings from the three poetry books:

drosera cropped paperback

Dandy paperback

abandoned church

 

All my best

Staying in my bubble!

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 28, 2020 at 7:00 am

illustrating poetry

with 14 comments

I am in the process of creating several books of poetry from the many poems I have written over the years. I am now working on the third book, poems about life on my grandfather’s farm. The title will be ‘blueberries and mink’ since these were the main products of the farm.

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There are about forty poems in this collection. I have decided how I will order the poems and done much of the formatting. Since I illustrate the books I write, the next task is to pair the poems with drawings I have done.

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For some poems, as I wrote, I had an image in my head that my hands could draw. A good example is the poem ‘patience.’ One of the lines describes ‘staring down a cow.’ The drawing was fun to do.

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outstaring a cow paperback

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In some cases, a drawing I did for another purpose will find a home in my ‘blueberries and mink’ manuscript. An example is the drawing of old pop bottles I did for a blog post a few years ago. These bottles look much like the ones that used to sit on a window ledge in a shed at my grandfather’s farm.

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old pop bottles cropped

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Once I have inserted the formatted drawings into the book, I have to make sure they are distributed evenly through the book. Sometimes a poem and its drawing can be relocated. Sometimes I have to do another drawing to fill a gap.

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Next, from the drawings, I have to pick one for the cover of the book. I want the covers for these books to be similar in style with the book title and author name superimposed.

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A couple of the possible covers I am working on are shown below.

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poetry books

alt cover

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all my best,

staying home,

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

ice

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As I go over the many poems I have written over the years, I find a lot of poems about ice. Ice is very poem-worthy. It glitters and drips. It is cold and changes form. Icicles make great popsicles (if they are dripping from a clean surface). Ice can be a metaphor for emotion, life experience, change, danger, and so on.

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Today we had a high of 7 degrees C and all the snow and ice are melting. Not really sad to see them go this year.

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river ice

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builds in shallows

at the rim of river, incremental

embellishment to transparent sheets

of glass, ice envelopes winter

remnants, reeds and willows

thickness increased as frost

penetrates, sharp edges

cauterized by cold

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branches and icicles paperback

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freezing rain

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trees, bare branches, wait

wood snaps in the stove

budgies peck at cuttle bone

pellets of rain, tossed

at the skylight

a second transparency

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bare twigs turn in wind

distribute their coating

in these last moments

before temperature turns

the snowpack on the picnic table

shrinks at the edges

shoves over, makes room

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branches gloss so gradually

candles dipped in a vat of wax

over and over, acquiring thickness

the sky, through the skylight

dimpled tile, rumpled mosaic

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rain stipples bark as narrative

appends to memory, pane here,

light there, layers of glass

cedar twigs turn downward

as fingers, ice builds

layers of skin

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All my best

(staying home!)

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 8, 2020 at 7:00 am

organizing writing files – ordering a manuscript of poems

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Last month I started a big project – to find and organize all the poems I have written during the last forty years. For a glimpse of my approach see here.

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After four weeks of effort, I now have a file of poems I would like to assemble into a book. The title will be ‘niche’ and the book will include poems about the ecological spaces plants and animals (including humans) occupy.

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niche \ ‘nich\ n (F, fr. MF, fr. nicher to nest, fr. (assumed) VL nidicare, from L nidus nest) 1 a : a recess in a wall, especially for a statue. b : something that resembles a niche. 2 a : a place, employment, or activity for which a person is best fitted. b : a habitat supplying the factors necessary for the existence of an organism or species. c : the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption.

– Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1979

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I have identified 66 poems for ‘niche,’ taking up about 110 pages. Although I could just toss the poems into the book in random order, I like to think about how I want the reader to encounter the poems. I organize the poems in the book following these steps.

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1. List the ideas in the poems:

After I find all the poems to fit the ‘niche’ category, I arrange them roughly into a manuscript. Then I print the Table of Contents and write a list of ideas associated with each poem.  Examples for ‘niche’ include: needs, predation, reproduction, invasion of other spaces, seasons, nutrition, competition, and so on. I also start to get a feel for poems that do not fit.

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Scan_20200402 (4)

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2. Develop a progression of ideas:

Once I have identified these ideas, I decide how I want to group them and how I want them to progress for the reader. In the case of ‘niche,’  I want the poems to first define niche, then consider the strategies plants and animals use to stay in their niche, then explore the discomfort or danger created when a niche is occupied, consider the spaces I have occupied in my own life, consider the problems you have to overcome to occupy your own niche, and conclude with an idea of the ideal space. Then, I reorder the poems so they fit the progression of ideas.

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3. Sort the poems roughly into groups:

Once I have decided on a progression of ideas, I put poems into sections to portray those ideas.  I choose the title for the section from a poem in the section. It is at this point that I decide which poems do not belong in the collection and remove them.  For ‘niche’ the following are the sections (for now):

occupation of space – needs of an organism for food, water, air, physical space, and so on.

strategy – ways plants and animals protect their niche and solidify their position

praying for rain – dangers and discomforts of occupying a niche

mapping the labyrinth – places I have occupied, a bit of memoir

not touching the land – ways a niche is changed when it is occupied

forgetting to move – getting comfortable in your own niche

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4. Order and fine tune:

Now the fine-tuning. To create a readable book of poetry, I think poems should not only be consistent in theme, but also segue from one to the other. This may be as simple as grouping poems of one season together, or grouping poems about plant species. It also means allowing the language and rhythm to flow from one poem to another.

The intensive way to do this is to print all the poems and lay them out on a surface, ordering and reordering until they feel ‘right.’

I hate to waste the paper, and I like to have all materials within one view, so I use an abbreviated method.  I prepare pages showing just the section titles, the poem titles and a line about the poem. I cut these out so they can easily be moved around on a table. If I want to check detailed poem content structure, I have my i-pad near at hand.

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img_5961img_5966

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The process is sometimes tedious. Taking a break helps since after a while the poems you know so well begin to blur in meaning and the relationships between poems become nebulous. However, like many editorial-type tasks, the end product is worth the effort.

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All my best,

staying at home,

Jane

 

 

 

Written by jane tims

April 3, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Posted in writing

Tagged with , , , ,

organizing writing files – what to do with scores of poems

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Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about the poetry I have written over the years. I have two traditionally published books of poetry and will publish, independently, a small volume later this month. But scattered in the memory of my computer are hundreds of other poems, written over the course of forty years. Quality varies, but they are all mine, an expression of what it is like to be ‘me.’ Someday, when I am dust on the wind, someone is going to scan my computer and push delete. My son would not do this, but if I leave them in this state, they will become part of the clutter of his life.

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So, if I have had success at publishing my own work, and have the skills, why shouldn’t I ‘save’ the poems it took four decades to write.

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My approach has been to find the poems and assign them to one of five files. Each of the files will be the contents of a book of poetry, independently published and produced in a few copies. I have no intention of marketing these books. I may give them to family or friends, perhaps submit them to a few contests and just enjoy them myself.

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The five files will be:

1. ‘niche’ – poems about the spaces occupied by plants and animals

2. ‘myth and mystery’ – poems about strange occurrences in life

3. ‘lakes’ – poems about lakes and rivers in New Brunswick

4. ‘my grandfather’s farm’ – poems about my memories of the farm

5. ‘journal poems’ – poems about specific times in my life

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This is a slow process. First, there are multiple copies of some poems. Second, I have not been consistent with the naming of files. One outcome of this project will be a tidier computer.

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When I have the files in folders, then I will work to organize the poems, revise them, format the manuscript and produce a book.  A huge task, but as with all things, I will see the project through in stages, working on one part at a time.

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UPDATE: I now have the files organized! It has taken about a month of work, off and on. I am now working on the poems for ‘niche.’  There are 66 poems, taking about 110 pages. Next post, I will write about organizing the poems into a readable manuscript.

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All my best,

and staying home,

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 2, 2020 at 11:56 am

crystal ball

with 4 comments

During these incredible days of isolation, our writing group has begun a series of prompts to help stimulate writing. One of our members suggested ‘weird phrases’ as the prompt category. So far we have had ‘ear hair,’ ‘under the fridge,’ ‘spider web’ and ‘crystal ball.’

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I have two ‘crystal balls,’ both small and both more properly called ‘glass spheres.’ But they are as close to a crystal ball as I will ever have. I am certain neither sees the ‘future’ but both show an interesting ‘present’ and both remind me of the ‘past.’

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clairvoyance

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my crystal ball

is a glass sphere

from a claw-footed

piano stool I sat on

to practice my scales

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chipped, it never

snags the sun

will not scry or clarify

occludes

forecasting fog

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it has a past

Chopin’s Butterfly Étude

in half-time

and a furry

Für Elise

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but gaze

though I may

it never resonates

with a note

about tomorrow

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although it has

guessed, after

damaging percussion,

I will never play

Carnegie Hall

~

~

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 25, 2020 at 7:00 am

pantoum on morning

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A couple of months ago, a friend from my Fictional Friends writing group suggested the image below as a writing prompt. The image reminded me of my once-daily morning commute where I would often see the settling of the morning mists in the low valley of the Saint John River.

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poem one

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morning mist

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wake in morning, wool-headed

reluctant to start the day

fog settles as droplets of dew

webs woven over pasture

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reluctant to start the day

fleece teased over hollows of hill

webs woven over pasture

hesitation of a solitary ewe

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fleece teased over hollows of hill

disperse as sun stretches arms

hesitation of a solitary ewe

drowsy as dreams feather into deed

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disperse as sun stretches arms

push back pillows and duvet

drowsy as dreams feather into deed

woolen blanket of valley mist

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push back pillows and duvet

wake in morning wool-headed

woolen blanket of valley mist

fog settles as droplets of dew

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I have been thinking about prompts for writing: images, collage, words, phrases, sentences, and so on. Just google ‘writing prompts’ for a barrage of ideas. Writing prompts can be used to combat ‘writer’s block’, to suggest new pathways for writing or to find new metaphors.

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For a poet, I think another type of prompt is ‘form’. Form suggests new patterns of expressing an idea. For the poem ‘morning mist‘, I used a photo as a visual writing prompt and the pantoum form (with modifications) to explore new ways to pattern ideas about morning.

pantoum – a poetic form written in any number of quatrains with an abab rhyme scheme and repeating lines: the first and third lines of any stanza are the same as the second and fourth lines of the preceding stanza; the first and third lines of the opening stanza are used as the second or fourth lines of the last stanza. The last line of the poem may be the same as its first line.

I like the interweaving of ideas and emerging images as the pantoum proceeds. The repetition slows the poem and establishes echoes within.

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All my best,

Jane Tims

 

 

Written by jane tims

November 28, 2018 at 7:00 am

rural to urban

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In one of my recent posts, here, I wrote about a course I took using collage-making as a writing prompt. To help us visualize the method, the teacher (Lynn Davies) gave us examples of collages she had built and asked us to do some response writing. Here is a facsimile of Lynn’s collage and the poem I wrote in response.

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collage 2.jpg

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Relocating the Rhino

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We move,

rural to urban.

Exchange night song

for traffic noise.

Swap canopied trees

for storied buildings,

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night stars and Jupiter

for wall switches

and tic-tac-toe

of energy leak

from offices

in skyscrapers.

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Beneath our feet,

rocks become fluid,

magma, electric blue.

Footing uncertain

on rocks

that wobble.

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We armor ourselves,

chose tenement addresses.

Turn off lights

to save our silver,

wish for stars

in the night sky.

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See only

tired workers,

keeping

the lights on

way past

quitting time.

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Since I am a community planner and environmentalist, the interpretation of the collage comes as no surprise. The surprises (for me) are the rhino as metaphor for humans moving into the urban setting and the comparison of the twinkle of office buildings to the twinkle of rural stars.  Implied is the irony of rural workers, seeking a better life, working even longer hours when they migrate to an urban life.

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All my best,

Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

November 26, 2018 at 12:00 am

out of place

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One of the advantages of belonging to a regional writing group — regular opportunities to refresh the writing mind and put new tools in the writer’s kit.

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This past month at WordsFall, an annual event of the New Brunswick Writers’ Federation, I took a course from well-known poet Lynn Davies (author of how the gods pour tea, 2013, Goose Lane Editions, The Bridge That Carries the Road, 1999, Brick Books, and others). Lynn’s course Paper Moon, Paper Shoe: Writing and Collage introduced me to an new idea, using paper collage to inspire and renew.

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In a couple of very enjoyable hours, Lynn showed us how to build a collage from magazine images and other paper scraps. She showed us examples of collages she had made and set us to work on our own collage. Her instructions were to select images that appealed to us at the moment and not overthink the choice of images. After the images were glued to a card, we took some time to write about the collage and the ideas it suggested.

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Here is the collage I produced and the resulting poem.

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Scan_20181120.jpg

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out of place

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An orange tree

in temperate soil,

among caraway

and dill.

One red tile

in a zigzag

of black and white.

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Shoes take me

for a walk

in barley grass

and caraway.

Melon rinds

on size five feet.

Too slippery, too wide.

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Garlic and dill

by lantern-light.

Ten after ten

on the hall clock.

Pickles and port

and a splash

of blackberry wine.

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Floor-plan,

when the lights go out,

makes no sense at all.

Dormer rooms

too tight

and me too tall.

Caraway among the dill.

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Salt on wounds.

Seeds in pickle jars.

Willow trees scratch

at window glass.

Garlic to banish

grinning skulls,

creep beneath tiles.

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Next time you struggle for inspiration, consider generating some new ideas with collage.

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All my best,

Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

November 20, 2018 at 12:38 pm

after a poetry reading

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Why do you go to poetry readings? Is it because you are supporting a writing friend? Because you love poetry? Or because you search for the perfect poetic experience — the memorable reading of an unforgettable poem, expressive words you know you will always be able to summon. Have you ever left a poetry reading feeling renewed, animated, believing in the impossible?

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I attend a lot of readings. I go to support my writing friends. I go because I love words and poetry. I also go because I long for the memorable. Occasionally, I will hear words, phrases, poems to thrill me for the rest of my life.

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I have had many such experiences. I have been privileged to hear Roo Borson read her poem Grey Glove. I have heard Roger Moore read poems from his book Monkey Temple with his stirring Welsh accent.  Years ago I heard a young Irish poet read her poem about a kettle boiling on the stove, and I have never forgotten her words even though I have forgotten her name.

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sun on tree

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after the poetry reading

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Bailey Drive is a steep incline

for an out-of-shape heart

a pause returns the thud in ears

to chest where it needs to be, a moment

to see maples on the Aitken House lawn

animated by wind, as metaphor for adrenaline rush

of words

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as trees send Tesla coil sparks into blue sky

from trunks constrained by building

and sidewalks, to branches and twigs

unfettered, plasma filaments bloom

on fractal paths

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another pulse, trunk to bud-tips

and another, signals up and outward

heart slows and holds in place

lightning throb in continuum of space

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

October 9, 2018 at 5:08 pm

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