Thursday, July 30, 2020

Summer's Sweltering Heat

I have been watching the weather forecast and sweltering under the rising heat index just like many of my fellow Long Islanders.  Each day, morning greets daylight with steamy heat. A sit on my front porch or patio to listen to the sounds of summer and watch the flowers with their blossoming colors but only for a few moments due to the blistering heat. 

For the past month, I have thought of creating an etheree on summer but not until this week did I put pen to paper or stylus to digital notebook.  The Poetry Sisters/Princesses invited everyone to create an etheree with the theme foresight or summer or both for this week's Poetry Friday edition.  Poet Tricia Stohr Hunt, wrote a blog post on the poetic form and Poetry Sister Liz Ganlon created a video.  My friend/author/poet Laura Purdie Salas, another Poetry Sister, sent me the blurb to join in the fun.  I have never written a etheree so the outcome of my labors is a first.  While sending it out for review and using the #poetrypals hashtag, I know that I need more practice in etheree writing. 

Summer's Steaming Embrace

Steamstorm swelters.
Flowers yearn for rain.
People move at slow pace
under a still, sticky sky
and sharks inch closer to south shores.
Long Island beaches lose their allure.
during steamy times, embrace summer days!
©CVarsalona, 2020, Long Island South Shore Beach

As a #poeticdiversion (hashtag compliments of
I transferred my etheree into a video poem using Lumen 5.

Did you know that sharks like shallow water where swimmers are?  My plan is to stay safe indoors with air conditioning.   I have no desire to see the sharks of summer at my favorite beach site plus, I have the foresight to know how to stay safe at the beach, especially during COVID-19.

Now, I turn my attention to the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by Catherine Flynn who is sharing an original poem based on a picture from the book, The Imaginaries

Recently, I was sent an email of distinction from Anuj Agarwal#Feedspot Founder of, a place to keep up with all your favorite blogs, news sites and rss feeds in one place.  
I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog, Beyond LiteracyLink, has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 40 Children's Poetry Blogs on the web. 
 This link accompanied the email:

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Heated Summer Morning

This morning, I sat quietly listening to the sounds of summer. Birds high up in the trees tweeted to one another as cicadas sang their ritual summertime song. Hydrangeas huddled together sharing their space with Black-eyed Susans, looking bright and playful as if they were stretching and spreading toward the light. Nothing moved as the heat kept sizzling so I continued to sit on the porched watching nature unwrap its morning like a gift. Not to forget the hum and sights of the season, I brought the joy inside.
heated morning
unfolded in vibrance
earth watched in awe
©CV, 2020

Summer heat continued all day and into the night. Each time I walk past the flowers, I am reminded of the gift of summer joy nature brings. I send this bouquet to Two Writing Teachers for today is Slice of Life Tuesday.

Recently, I was sent an email of distinction from Anuj Agarwal,  FEEDSPOT, #Feedspot Founder of, a place to keep up with all your favorite blogs, news sites and rss feeds in one place.  
I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog, Beyond LiteracyLink has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 40 Children's Poetry Blogs on the web. 
 This link accompanied the email:

Friday, July 24, 2020

Reflecting on Summer

A heatwave is upon us and it isn't even the dog days of August on Long Island.  I step outdoors each day moving from cool air conditioning to the warmth of the sun's rays. Summer's breath is intense.  My pansies on the patio cry out for a spritz of cooling water at noon.  I respond and reflect on summer's embrace.  

My thoughts revert to Salvador Dali 's beautiful, summer day painting on a summer day, Figure at the Window. This scene reminds me of the sublime beauty of Long Island in summer.

She waits.
Thoughts float on by
into restful waters.
Stillness fills empty space
as a gentle breeze sweeps in,
softening the air.
Life rests under
a blanket of
sweet summer's
©CV, 2020

If it were not for the pandemic, I could visualize me luxuriating in a mud bath of salt water at the shore. But groups of unmasked young people are caught on the news congregating too close together without masks. What I can do is imagine, reflect, and respond to this dreamy photo by art teacher/photographer, Jennifer Graycheck, found at Margaret Simon's blog, This Photo Wants to be a Poem.  

nature's cure
swirled swooshing sounds break at shore 
tranquility's hush
salted-sea mudpacks rise and
dreams floats in ocean's warmth
©CV, 2020

Continuing the urge to engage in peaceful thoughts while caught up in the midst of a next- -chapter-of-life move to Virginia, I found another restful sight. Twitter friend @lucky_budd photographed the Milky Way and I took the opportunity to comment poetically.

For those who want a respite from the news and noise of pandemic life take a jaunt over to Poetry Friday hosted by Margaret Simon. Delve into the essential question, What is Poetry? to unlock more poetic goodness for poetry lets us bathe in summer bliss without traveling to the shore.

Recently, I was sent an email of distinction from Anuj Agarwal,  FEEDSPOT, #Feedspot Founder of, a place to keep up with all your favorite blogs, news sites and rss feeds in one place.  
I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog, Beyond LiteracyLink has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 40 Children's Poetry Blogs on the web. 
 This link accompanied the email:

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Clunker Line Poem

There are three questions that I have been reflecting upon lately. I throw these questions out to everyone to hear how you feel.
  1. Do you feel that your "Quarantine Life" is in overdrive? 
  2. Is there tension in the air in your household? 
  3. Do you need a reminder to stay positive?
I created a poem, Tension in the Air,  from a list of clunker lines that my librarian-poet friend, Linda Mitchell provided at her blog site, A Word Edgewise. I chose #13, Sounds of the pandemic and #15, a script we know by heart

Tension in the Air 
   screams of quarantine boredom
   slice through a silent house
   cabin fever woes rise
   too-hot-to-handle heat sizzles
   drenching drip-drops rain down
   pandemic sounds RAGE-
   as a script many now know by heart
         How can we end the maddening sounds?
                                                                                                 ©CVarsalona, 2020

Then, I transformed my poem into a Lumen 5 video poem using the title from the music the site provided that fit well as a title, Tension in the Air.

Now, it is my pleasure to give Linda a couple of unfinished lines to play with: "relentless seeker of life", "golden beam of luminous lightand "rainsoaked blossoms".

Since it is a hot summer day, I decided to bring an ice cream float to surprise my poet friend, Jan Godown Annino who is hosting Poetry Friday at Bookseed Studio. Check out her original poem Float as she reminisces about her mother.
I am adding the link to Spiritual Journey Thursday where I am hosting. You will find more poetic goodness written by Poetry Friday friends there. Feel free to write a post on balancing your days or the word balance. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Balancing My Days During Quarantine Life

In the midst of COVID-19, instead of life slowing down considerably, it is full of activity. This makes balancing a difficult act at this time. 

The pandemic caused me to reflect constantly. What was happening to life as I knew it? and How can I find happiness in the midst of sorrow? were questions I asked. The following quote by C. G. Jung brought some ideas into focus. "Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness and the word 'happiness' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness." Thinking back on January 1, 2020, I remembered that I started the year with one word, balance, and a renewed spirit of commitment. I welcomed in a new decade with the statement, "Cease the busyness to find evocative moments to savor." That I did when my new granddaughter, Aurora, was born with a sweetness about her and a loving smile that makes any heart melt. Then, the pandemic erupted and threw me off course. 

Fear was everywhere. Sadness increased each day. As the days turned into months shifts in lifestyles occurred. My once-known normalcy was lost but faith and trust lifted me up. "A just balance and scales are the Lord's; all the weights in the bag are His work." Proverb 16:11, shined a light in both dark days and ones filled with a commitment to take baby steps forward. 

Quarantine life continued to focus on finding balance in troubled waters. To be honest, the beginning months were tough. Yoga classes were suspended and unfortunately, my exercise routine dwindled down to nothing. Perhaps, this reasoning will suffice. At the end of February, my husband and I made a leap-of-faith decision to build a new home in Virginia for the next chapter in our life story. This strategic move places me 30 minutes away from my daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters. My sister even decided to jump in and build a home on one of the few homesites left. With hope and faith, I worked virtually for months with the design team to build this new home. 

Arriving home today from a quick-paced 3-day visit with the construction team, design studio consultant, and looking for new furniture has left me exhausted but not as unbalanced as I have felt. The memories of my granddaughters' smiles and laugher will keep me happy and ready to push forward. Follow my story in the weeks to come as I move through the next phase of selling my house and packing decades of memories along with items for the move. Whew! 

Before the Pre-Dry Wall Walkthrough

Tonight and tomorrow, I host Spiritual Journey Thursday with long-distant friends who gather together as a committed community of writers under the new leadership of Margaret Simon. Join me here all day tomorrow for thoughts on balancing our days during quarantine life.

Spiritual Journey Thursday

Add your Spiritual Journey Thursday blog post link below.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Balancing My Days

The heat is oppressive today but a quick lunch outdoors on my patio brings a new sense of balance. Flowers are popping, spreading their own brand of sunshine while some long for a cool shower from the watering can or a quick rainstorm. I move from air-conditioned rooms to outdoor living, admiring the summer plants, and their vibrant colors.

Returning indoors, I find a new post and challenge, This Photo Wants to be a Poem, by Margaret Simon, in my email. It centers around a mesmerizing, long-ago photo from the Library of Congress' G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection, titled "The bride" and invites us to write a small poem of 16 words or so.

Those hands.
This woman knows work.
She is there
gazing into the future
Margaret G. Simon, found poem

I chose to write a golden shovel poem, The Young Bride. Look at the ending words of each line to see the strike line, gazing into the future, emerge.

For a moment while gazing,
my eyes wander into
a sea of endless thoughts in the 
desert days of my future.
©CVarsalona, 2020

Turning my thoughts back to a hot day in July when I married, I found a beautiful poem, To Be With One Another, by George Eliot and penned another golden shovel poem. This time, it is for my husband to celebrate another anniversary in our lives.

To Be With One Another
by George Eliot

What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen
each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other in the
silent unspoken memories?

Using the strike line, silent unspoken memories, I wrote the following.

Now I turn my attention to my far-away friend, Ruth Hersey, who is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup from Haiti. I was excited to gift her with a digital journal, Finding Balance in Troubled Waters. May we all balance our days during our Quarantine Life. Stay safe. Love and Peace to all!

Image result for poetry friday logo

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

"We Need" Pandemic Poem Video

In the moments of quiet contemplation during my #QuarantineLife days, poetry has become my expressive outlet. Knowing that hope and faith are needed in abundance to heal the tragedies and traumatic experiences encountered, I write from the heart, believing there must be a worldwide call to action.

With that intent in mind, I penned a golden shovel poem based on Kitty O'Meara's poem, In the Time of Pandemic. Little did I know about Kitty O'Meara prior to the start of the pandemic. After her poem took international flight in March 2020, I explored to find more information. The Oprah Magazine called her the poet laureate of the pandemic and Deepak Chopra publicized her viral pandemic poem on Facebook. Many others have read, posted her poem, and added their thoughts. I decided to take the poem I wrote for my last blog post and create a video poem using the Lumen 5 online video maker.

I hope my video poem becomes another voice speaking from the heart during the pandemic. You can find my short video, We Need Pandemic Poem, on my YouTube channel.

Hope, Love, and Harmony are needed for the world to unite in peace!

I am offering this post to the Two Writing Teachers community of writers for the
Tuesday Slice of Life challenge.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Poetry Gifts from Kat

How surprised was I when I found in my email that my Aussie poet-author friend, Kathryn Apel, brought greetings and a summer poetry swap gift.  She told me that she wanted to write a solage and an epigram for me since I've said a number of times that I found them tricky during the Poetry Pep Up Challenge. "The trimeric was so much fun, picking lines from poems on your blog. I had only intended to take lines for the first stanza - which repeats through the poem. But then I stumbled on the last line, and couldn’t bear to leave it out. And then, I decided a title from you would be lovely, too… And in the end, I wrote very little!"  In truth, Kat displayed her creative, artistic side and wrote a beautiful epigram and trimeric in the same poem and picture. This is her "first foray into flower watercolour" and it is beautiful. I am including it in my Nature Nurtures 2020 Gallery.
This field of flowers is a lovely present that exhibits a truth.
Kat and I are linked-friends. I am deeply grateful to her for her poetry gifts.

Thank you, Tabatha Yeatts, for organizing the 20202 Summer Poetry Swap.

While teaching my first online graduate course for teachers, Kat sent me her poems. Deeply entrenched into sharing curriculum models for sparking wonder, curiosity, and creativity in learners, I found another pandemic poem that resonated with me. I took two lines from the poem and created a golden shovel poem to send Kat. Day 5 of her Poetry Pep Up asked for a golden shovel poem. I already sent Kat one but when I read the following poem, I was drawn to two lines.

Strike lines from Kitty O'Meara's poem: And the people stayed home (stanza 1) the earth began to heal  (stanza 2)

We started each day with sadness and

ended with prayers of hope for the

grieving world and its fallen people.

We kept our distance and stayed

in. Routines brought sanity. Home

became the center of life in the

early days of COVID.  When earth

needed a gentle cradling, people began

reconnecting and reimagining ways to

find balance and pathways to heal.

©CV, 2020

Because of the rigor of the workload preparing for and teaching my summer graduate poem, I am offering my post to my friend, poet-librarian Linda Mitchell, the host of Poetry Friday. Linda has an original poem freshly written for the 4th of July holiday. She is also sharing her poetry swap gift from another poet-author-teacher friend, Margaret Simon. Join me at the Poetry Friday Roundup here to find more poetic goodness.

Thursday, June 25, 2020


I am practicing what I "preach" this week, as I prepare remote lessons for the ELA Summer Institute graduate class that I will teach online.  Teaching in this fashion is a brand-new experience for me. I do believe that teacher-learners need to move beyond their comfort zone if they are to guide students to do the same but what a journey it is to be caught in a cyberspace storm. While learning the Canvas platform, I cyberspace swooped down and sucked up major portions of my work with just a click. My blunder! A few more of these led me to be more vigilant and persistent. I was frustrated but eager to move through the frenzy of getting my work finished but when my husband suggested that I join him and my son for a walk on the boardwalk, I realized that I deserved a break. Off I went into the car, starring at the bright sunshine and wondering what I would find at the beach.  The lure of a seaside walk on a beautiful June day was too appealing to worry about work. 

Masked with iPhone in hand, I stepped from the ramp onto the boardwalk and listened to the sound of the sea lapping the shore. I scanned the beach looking for signs of compliance. Social distancing was seen on the beach as well as the boardwalk. Even the gulls swooped in a format that fit quarantine life. 

What a splendid afternoon walk I had. I left the beach in wonderment of nature and its constancy while wondering if this is what a weekend day at the beach would look like?  Probably not, but I want to hope for the best! 

The sea has a soothing effect on my quarantine life perspective. Inspired by the sights and sounds of the beach, I returned home to find the poem on wonderment I wrote for a poetry swap for Brenda Harsham.  My walk in the sun by the sea led me to pair the poem with a question for my teacher-learner students. Where will wonder lead you this fall? 

I certainly can say that poetry allows me to be in a state of awed admiration of nature. My jaunt to the beach was medicine for the body, mind, spirit, and soul. Poetic thoughts were flowing as I watched the waves swoop to shore and gulls swoon in sweeping gestures. 

As I finish tonight's work for my course, I join the Poetry Friday Roundup at my friend Karen Eastland's Blog, Karen's Got a Blog!  Come, join me for some more poetry goodness.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

From Newborn to 3-Years-Old

The years have passed quickly between newborn wonder and three-years of age.  When I saw photos of my little granddaughter rock climbing (one of her favorite outings) with the T-shirt label, Young, Wild, & Three, I knew that line captured her spirit. So, inspired by these photos and a T-shirt, I took my digital pen in hand and created an after-birthday poem. 

With purple being Sierra's favorite color and lilacs a flower that brings me back to my own childhood, I created a golden shovel poem using poet Amy Lowell's poem, Lilacs, and the strike line, "You are the smell of all Summers."  If you read downward from the first line end word, you will see the strike line emerge. 

I see you
as you are
laughing in the
 woods, whiffing the smell
of pine, searching for wonders of
delight. There is a warm touch of love in all
your smiles and hugs. I long for our endless summers.
©CVarsalona, 2020

It's the Poetry Friday Roundup at Tricia Stohr Hunt's Miss Rumphius Effect  blog,
so join me as I share my tribute to Sierra there.

Note to Kathryn Apel, poet:
While I initially chose Amy Lowell's poem for your #PoetryPepUp Day 5 Challenge, I struggled to create a golden shovel poem from one of her beautiful but challenging lines.  It is still in the apple polishing phase. When I reread the poem and found the strike line above and paired them with the Google Photos in Sierra's album, I was energized to create a photo collage poem.)

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Honoring Nikki Grimes, Poet

You can see the animated version of the card above at Buncee.

I recall one NCTE a few years ago when Poetry Friday friends were seated around a table enjoying the camaraderie of friends. Nikki Grimes was part of that group. We chatted about poetry and life. I was one of Nikki's fans so I listened carefully. Following this evening event, I was lucky to spot her at an author's signing for her new novel in verse, Garvey's Choice that won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. 

To prepare for Day 3 of my graduate school summer institute for teachers, I reread Garvey's Choice. I knew that it would be an appropriate book to be included in a text-set for a mini-unit on adolescent bullying, self-identity, and/or family and friend relationships. As I read through the book, I grew to care about Garvey as a person and student. He, like many middle year and early high school teens, is perplexed by internal conflict emanating from his relationships with his family and lack of friends.  This book is beautifully-crafted and seamlessly written in the tanka form of poetry. Nikki Grimes shares sensitivity toward her main character and visibly illustrates the growth of Garvey's identity from a boy taunted for years about his weight to one who takes pride in whom he is. You can see the Garvey's growth of self-confidence in the found poem I created with selected lines from Nikki's book.

Fill in the puzzle of me.
Fear is the flip-flop in my belly.
I take a breath. 
I'm suddenly feeling brave.
Now "fat boy" insults glide
right off like raindrops.
I'm a balloon of song,
reaching the edges of space.
Somehow, music makes me full.
Listen to my dreams.
I choose what words to let in.
Set to face a new morning,
I stand Taller.
The perfect size is happy.
Designed by ©CVarsalona, 2020
with lines from Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes


I listened to Nikki read "Jabari Unmasked" from One Last Word, which she says is one of her favorite books. You can listen to her video here.  I look to Nikki's work as a model for my own Golden Shovel poem writing. Below is my poem using Nikki's line, ."..still, the world needs the dreams we offer," as both the title and strike line for my poem.

Thank you Irene Latham for suggesting that we honor Nikki Grimes and her work this week at the Poetry Friday Roundup. I am heading over to the celebration at Irene's blog, Live Your Poem, where she is hosting today. I am bringing my Buncee card, this post, and grilled peaches cake because it is a Poetry Friday party for Nikki Grimes.

Poetry Friday Roundup Celebration

Note: I still have a draft of a Golden Shovel poem for Day 5 of Kat Apel's #PoetryPepUp challenge but it is still not ready for sharing. I will post the Golden Shovel poem/image poem I created above on social media noting Kat's engaging challenge last week.