Thursday, August 27, 2020

Summer Evening Recollection

When the Poetry Sisters add a challenge to the Poetry Friday Roundup, it is fun to try out a new move. Today their theme is hindsight and the directions read: "Pick one of your old poems to revise and/or write a new poem in conversation with it...(any form)." 

Thinking of a recent trip to Jones Beach, I reflected on how the darkness of evening could immerse the shoreline in stardust.  Since no one can linger on the boardwalk past 8 pm, I could only imagine the effect. In a serendipitous moment,  I found a scratchings of a could be a poem from 2019:
reflecting on
nature holding court 
in its sanctuary 
of stillness becomes
an early writer's recollection
(I am not sure what I was thinking of by inserting the word early.)

The above thought moved me to write a last line, lit by fireflies, but then, I made another decision.  In my latest blog post, I photographed an empty bench and Rose Cappelli commented. "I especially loved the image of the empty boardwalk bench. I think that could be a photo that needs a poem." With that I decided to transform the poem and photo into an image poem illuminating what a starlit night might look like at the historic Jones Beach on Long Island.  You can see the finished product below.

I chose a poetic form, 15 words or less poem, that Laura Purdie Salas, one of the Poetry Sisters, has used many times to prompt writers to create.  This exercise made me wonder what I had in mind last year when I penned my original thoughts and tucked them in my notebook.  Does nature change our perception of an event after it has happened or make us understand its ever-present magic when reflecting?

Now, I am off to join Heidi Mordhorst, poet, teacher of little ones, and climate activist, who is the Poetry Friday Roundup host for this week.  She is sharing news of a California shoe strike that symbolized a unique protest against climate change and showcases an original poem, Back to School with memories of 2001.  The end of the year is going to be one filled with many different emotions and this is why I need to bring positivity into focus and add poems that bring a sense of tranquility to my busy days.

With summer around the globe estranged in many ways due to COVID-19, I am gathering a collection of image poems for my #EmbraceableSummer Gallery Collection.  If so inclined, join in the fun of creating image poems on the topic, Summer 2020 in the Midst of Quarantine Life. I am hosting Poetry Friday at my blog on September 4, 2020 where I will share creative work to showcase the beauty of summer even during trying times.  My image poem above is an example of what you might try if you are inclined to use digital art to convey your message.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Summer's End Note

When day ends and hope survives do you long for peace, the quiet of a summer's night, or the fresh breath of sea salt skies?   If so, join me on a virtual evening stroll of a historic Long Island site, Jones Beach. 


It was the end of a Long Island, August dog-day when the family decided to take a walk on one of Long Island's beaches.  We were longing for the calm of the night sky along the ocean since we're moving to a beautiful new build in Virginia soon.  Saying goodby to summer is always a bittersweet event but now more so than ever.  Luckily, the weather obliged and a ride to the historic Jones Beach boardwalk afforded us the opportunity to take a peaceful evening stroll.  Upon entering the parking lot, we noted the new normal rules of parking (cones marking spaces one car away from each other) and joined masked beachgoers in an exodus-style line of walkers. As we strolled, the sky opened wide with changing colors from muted, hazy ones to glowing, vibrant sun streaks of reddish-orange.  There was the low hum of beach family conversation and activity from zip liners in the massive new structure facing the beach.  It was a night to remember so a digitally-created memory was a must.

chasing serenity
eventide at the beach
sea, sand, and sky intersect
©CV, 2020

It's Slice of Life Tuesday so I will share my virtual walk
with the Two Writing Teachers community of writers.

With summer around the globe estranged in many ways due to COVID-19, I am gathering a collection of image poems for my #EmbraceableSummer Gallery Collection.  If so inclined, join in the fun of creating image poems on the topic, Summer 2020 in the Midst of Quarantine Life. I am hosting Poetry Friday at my blog on September 4, 2020 where I will share creative work to showcase the beauty of summer even during trying times.   

Friday, August 21, 2020

Inspiration from Others

Drip drops landed on my family room roof outside my window.  Dark clouds hung low and stillness sat upon morning.  It was dreary but not the type of day that was meant for Hallmark movies and hot chocolate, although I was cold and could have used some quiet cuddle time.  There was work to do.  In between laundry and cleaning-out-a closet duty, I snuck a few minutes to read some Poetry Friday posts from last week that I missed.   As I  read posts, I hunkered down to savor words and being inspired to write. 

Writing I did, after I stopped at adolescent author Tanita S. Davis' blog.  Tanita shared Jane Tyson Clement's poem, Bach's Inventions.  I was impressed by the following line that I chose as my strike line for a golden shovel poemif I could define my end 

Within the hustle of a day, if
life was simply organized and I 
as well, balance would follow. Could
order bring me to a place where I define
existence in this odd quarantine life and fill my
restless time with fruitful ponderings that never end?
©CV, 2020

Next, I gathered more Inspiration as I watched the last night of the Democratic National Convention tonight.  After accepting the invitation to become the Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biiden delivered an optimistic and memorable speech.  I created a found poem of some of his compelling words.

"I will draw on the best of us, not the worst." -Joe Biden

Hope lives at the convention.

Become a united America,
Put politics aside, and find the light.

Life can be cruel but
Stay strong with purpose.
Let us save our democracy!
©CV, 2020

Joe Biden's called all to "overcome this season of darkness".  With hope and faith, this call to action has lifted my spirits enough to walk into the light and continue writing from the heart.

Tonight I join the Poetry Friday Roundup with my long-distance friend and grandma reading lover, Ramona Behnke.  She discusses her significant week with interesting links. Is your curiosity peaked?   Connect to find more poetry goodness.

Poetry Friday Friends:

With summer on beautiful Long Island estranged in many ways due to COVID-19, I am gathering my collection of image poems sent in for my Embraceable Summer Gallery.  If so inclined, please share a new image poem on the topic, Summer 2020 in the Midst of Quarantine Life,, at your blog for the September 4, 2020 Poetry Friday that I am hosting.  It will be a way to showcase the beauty of nature during trying times.   

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Seeking Quietude

Summer is moving on at a remarkable rate closer to my family's moving date.  Quarantine life, a tropical storm, and sweltering heat add to the stress of the clock ticking.  It is no wonder why I seek quiet time this summer.  In honor of finding sacred moments of peace, I  created a video poem using the Lumen 5 platform and a mix of original digital art and nature photos from Unsplash for my Embraceable Summer Gallery collection.  

Quiet time has been on my mind so please kick off your sandals, find a relaxing seat, and watch my brief video poem.  I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life

Thursday, August 13, 2020

So In Lies Quietude

When thinking about what to write tonight my minds keeps wandering back to the beauty of the much-needed word, quietude.  

unending heat swelters
stress rises
major life move nears
quiet time calls

With the air conditioner oscillating back and forth, I listen to its swish and the beautiful, relaxing music-Peaceful Piano, Cello & Guitar Music by Soothing Relaxation, and enjoy the peaceful moments to find my balance.

Within these quiet moments, I find a nature photo by Molly Hogan at Margaret Simon's This Photo Wants To Be A Poem. Magically, my mind wanders into the marshland photo searching for some space among the flowers.  I wonder if the nearby preserve has baby osprey by now. I visualize the sea breeze calling the geese to swoop down into the marsh water and refresh themselves while splashing.  

Molly Hogan, 2020

summer breezes in
pirouetting with grace
lulling life to rest
finding sweet tranquility
within the stillness of day
©CV, 2020

May you find solace in Molly's photo and join me at her blog, Nix the Comfort Zone, where she hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.  She has a new poetic form that I am unfamiliar with, a montetra poem.  Molly makes the the process of creating her poem seem effortless with her word play.  She also shares a lovely poem by our Summer Poetry Swap coordinator, Tabatha Yeats.  I slipped into Tabatha's poem with her line, "buttersoft lit morning."

Poetry Friday Friends:
With summer on beautiful Long Island estranged in many ways due to COVID-19, I am gathering my collection of image poems sent in for my Embraceable Summer Gallery.  If so inclined, please share a new image poem on the topic, Summer 2020 in the Midst of Quarantine Life,, at your blog for the September 4, 2020 Poetry Friday that I am hosting.  It will be a way to showcase the beauty of nature during trying times.   

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Summer Afternoon by the Sound

Summer Afternoon by the Long Island Sound

I see it as it was, freshly frosted with summer's light
In August, with a shimmering glisten upon the water.
The stillness of the sound sparkling under the sun
as soft conversations glided on with no trace of discontent,
The socially-distanced placement of tables ready for
Multi-colored masks making their entrance,
The clink of glasses toasting the day,
The boats shimmering and the bright sun
Beaming in the glorious sky, colors dancing across water,
Whispers of unheard conversation, clatter of dishes
Passing by with a smoking speciality rising toward
Billowy summer clouds spread against a blue sky-
Stillness was noted as we spoke of anniversaries past.
All these simple visions of an afternoon by the sound
Linger in a time when quarantining changed our summer lives. 

It seems like July 31st was eons ago since a numberless array of dark days on Long Island  have passed after Tropical Storm Isaias raged. This memory was a brief afternoon of summer peace that brought back past Long Island summer days of warmth, free-spirited contentment, and serenity.  Tonight I thought why not lighten my mood so I found Emma Lazurus' poem of a Long Island Sound memory. Using her poem as a mentor text, I concentrated on the images described not the rhyming verse. This choice provided me with more freedom when sharing the sights I saw on Long Island's north shore ten days ago. 

Long Island Sound  by Emma Lazurus

I see it as it looked one afternoon
In August, - by a fresh soft breeze o'erblown.
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.
The shining waters with pale currents strewn,
The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove,
The semi-circle of its dark green grove.
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.
All these fair sounds and sights I make my own.

Last week, I missed writing with Two Writing Teachers because of the power shortage caused by the storm. I did not want to miss the opportunity to connect with friends this week so I am happy to have found quiet time amidst the hectic pace of after-storm clean-up and prepping my house for prospective home buyers. As Slice of Life Tuesday begins, I link up to "engage with the stories of other slicers, connect and support each other as writers, as teachers of writers, and as humans living through challenging times." 

Last month, I was sent an email from Anuj AgarwalFEEDSPOT, #Feedspot Founder of  
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:

Monday, August 10, 2020

Around My Table

"The world begins at a kitchen table."

While Tropical Storm Isaias raged like a lion last week on Long Island, we spent four days huddled around our kitchen table grateful for hurdling another dark stormy event in our lives. The darkness and sweltering heat surrounding those days left my family and friends breathless, isolated, and far away from reality as we functioned without power, electricity, hot water, and the internet. Little did we know of life outside our neighborhood that was strewn with heavy branches fallen from massive trees. It was the kitchen table that brought us together with electric candles as we talked and began the cleaning-out-the-freezer process. 

I think back on all the years the table served as a hub for family life and am grateful to have found Joy Harjo's poem to ponder. It became a catalyst for me to write using her line, "The world begins at a kitchen table," as a prompt. Her poem is full of the beauty of kitchen life. At the end of October, my family will leave our Long Island home of thirty-eight years for a second chapter of family life. My table memories will fill my life with joy.

We start each day in our hub, the
kitchen, with a revolving world
of conversation. Life begins
with a daily gathering at
dawn where a  
litany of thoughts flow from the kitchen.
Evenings sing of gratitude around our sturdy table,
washed with years of joyful and sorrowful tears.
©CVarsalona, 2020, Long Island

I missed Poetry Friday last week due to the storm but am happy to backtrack and connect with my writing friends. Connections are important in this world during quarantine life because they keep spirits high. Thank you to my poet friend Laura Purdie Salas who was last week's host. She has an original poem and a wonderful, information graphic on "Why aren't you writing a poem?" Although I am late to join the roundup, I feel that this poem needed to be written and sent out.

A new kitchen waits for me here in Virginia.


Sunday, August 9, 2020

In Need of Quiet Time

In the course of life, there comes a time when quiet and reflection are needed for self-contemplation. On Monday night in the stillness before the storm I realized that the hectic pace of summer days preparing for a major move did not afford me what I needed to balance my life. Taking a deep breath, I tried to reclaim quiet but unlike the quiet scene above by South African photographer, #chazchaz, nighttime noises interfered. Outdoor creatures wailed, birds chirped at strange times, and air passed by untypically. Nature seemed off-key. 

Little did I know that the next day Tropical Storm Isaias would turn Long Island upside down leaving a path of destruction. In its fury, Isaias raged like a lion downing telephone lines, toppling majestic trees, breaking huge branches, and throwing debris across lawns as it moved from street to street and through towns. By the end of its path, it left 300,000 Long Islanders without electricity, air conditioning, and hot water. 

In addition, there was no internet but endless hours of sweltering heat. It felt like a cruel blow while we Long Islanders were still enmeshed in the pandemic and quarantine life. During the four days of clean-up, people were powerless to turn their lives around. in my neighborhood, we spent days worrying while waiting for clean-up crews to pick up huge branches and trees that littered streets and homesites. We needed time to rest our minds. Because of faith and a spirit of believing, days later we rose to a new dawn. 

Now in the quiet of midday, I can listen to a hauntingly beautiful instrumental, Shaun by Nightnoise, and write. Grateful for the sounds flowing through the computer and the light powering my office space, I join, albeit late, my fellow Spiritual Journey Thursday community of friends.

Teacher poet, Margaret Simon, leader of our writing community, chose the topic of spiritual art to explore. In response, I searched for images, photographs, and music to quiet my restless spirit. The above photos and music share the beauty and emotional power of nature at rest. With these as prompts, I reflected and wrote a skinny poem*. 

Sometimes, my mind wanders-
my mind sometimes wanders.
©CV, 2020

Throughout this week, while waiting in the dark for morning light, I turned to prayer to quiet my mind.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. (Psalm 37:7)

Through photographic art I found a sense of quietude and peace -
 what I waited for this week.

*A skinny is a short poem form that consists of eleven lines. The first and eleventh line can be any length. The eleventh and last line must be repeated using the same words from the first and opening line. The second, sixth, and tenth lines must be identical. All the lines in this form, except for the first and last  lines, must be compromised of only one word. Skinny poems can be about any subject, although the form generally reflects more serious concerns facing humankind.