2/28/24 Workshop – A Poem by Rita Wong

flush by Rita Wong 

awaken to the gently unstoppable rush of rain landing on roofs,
pavement, trees, porches, cars, balconies, yards, windows, doors,
pedestrians, bridges, beaches, mountains, the patter of millions
of small drops making contact everywhere, enveloping the city
in a sheen of wet life, multiple gifts from the clouds, pooled
over centuries and channelled to power us, rain propels our
water-based bodies that eat other water-based bodies, mineral
vegetable animal. when i turn on the shower, i turn my face and
shoulders toward post-chlorinated rain. the tap releases free rain
to slake our thirst, transformed through pipes and reservoirs.
anonymous agent of all that we, unwitting beneficiaries, do.
refusing the inertia of amnesia, i welcome the memory of rain
sliding into sink and teacup, throat and bladder, tub and toilet.
bountiful abundant carrier of what everyone emits into the
clouds, be that exhale or smoke, belch or chemical combustion,
flame or fragrance, the rain gives it all back to us in spates, a
familiar sound, an increasingly mysterious substance

Reflective writing prompt
Write about life without rain

2/14/24 Workshop – A Poem by Pat Schneider

Pat Schneider

The Patience of Ordinary Things

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

Reflective writing prompt:
Write about the reliability of ordinary things.

1/24/24 Workshop – A Poem by Wing Tek Lum

Wing Tek Lum


Warmup Image:

Co-constructed poem:

a tree in winter
A tree without leaves—-a winter tree
graceful trunk, twigs with the promise of hope sprouting
craggy branches
The tree's life is being challenged by weather. But it thrives.
Veil, interweaving of delicacy and strength
The skeleton of the tree. A winter view


Plum Blossoms by Wing Tek Lum

Cold mountain winds scour the valley.
A hush descends upon the hard earth,

betraying no tears.
The gaunt plum hugs the river.

Its branches, shorn of leaves,
reach out like stark cries

in the Winter night, a spider’s agony.
Yet nubs of blossoms

nudge through the crinkled bark
on one twig, then another.

Buds nestle in crooks and crevices,
white as frost, grudging smiles,

a compassion nourished from within,
seeking air, seeking light.


Reflective writing prompt:
Write about the harbingers of Spring.


12/6/23 Workshop – A Poem by Al Zolynas


Trompe L’oeil- Al Zolynas

Perhaps because my near vision is so good,
I could take up painting miniatures
and see how much of the world
I could capture on the smallest canvas.
Begin, say, by managing a midwestern cornfield with its farmhouse, barn and
onto a postage stamp.
Eventually get the scene from the north rim of the Grand Canyon down
onto a polished grain of rice, or maybe
render Notre Dame Cathedral
with particular attention paid to the famous stained glass windows
onto the secondary wing of a baby gnat.

And thus could I trick my eyes
into seeing great distances again, those distant stars I remember from
childhood days,
galaxies really, untold light years away.
They could show up again as pulsing points of light,
charming details
in my vastly important life.

Reflective writing prompt:
Write about a trick for seeing great distances.

11/15/23 Workshop – A Poem by Ada Limón

Before, by Ada Limón

No shoes and a glossy
red helmet, I rode
on the back of my dad’s
Harley at seven years old.
Before the divorce.
Before the new apartment.
Before the new marriage.
Before the apple tree.
Before the ceramics in the garbage.
Before the dog’s chain.
Before the koi were all eaten
by the crane. Before the road
between us there was the road
beneath us, and I was just
big enough not to let go:
Henno Road, creek just below,
rough wind, chicken legs,
and I never knew survival
was like that. If you live,
you look back and beg
for it again, the hazardous
bliss before you know
what you would miss.

Reflective Writing Prompt
Start writing with “Before….”


10/18/23 Workshop – A Poem by Li-Young Lee

From Blossoms – Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

9/27/23 Workshop – A Poem by Tiana Clark

My Therapist Wants to Know about My Relationship to Work
I hustle
I grasp.
           I grind.
I control & panic. Poke
balloons in my chest,
always popping there,
always my thoughts thump,
thump. I snooze — wake & go
boom. All day, like this I short
my breath. I scroll & scroll.
I see what you wrote — I like.
I heart. My thumb, so tired.
My head bent down, but not
in prayer, heavy from the looking.
I see your face, your phone-lit
faces. I tap your food, two times
for more hearts. I retweet.
I email: yes & yes & yes.
Then I cry & need to say: no-no-no.
Why does it take so long to reply?
I FOMO & shout. I read. I never
enough. New book. New post.
New ping. A new tab, then another.
Papers on the floor, scattered & stacked.
So many journals, unbroken white spines,
waiting. Did you hear that new new?
I start to text back. Ellipsis, then I forget.
I balk. I lazy the bed. I wallow when I write.
I truth when I lie. I throw a book
when a poem undoes me. I underline
Clifton: today we are possible. I start
from image. I begin with Phillis Wheatley.
I begin with Phillis Wheatley. I begin
with Phillis Wheatley reaching for coal.
I start with a napkin, receipt, or my hand.
I muscle memory. I stutter the page. I fail.
Hit delete — scratch out one more line. I sonnet,
then break form. I make tea, use two bags.
Rooibos again. I bathe now. Epsom salt.
No books or phone. Just water & the sound
of water filling, glory — be my buoyant body,
bowl of me. Yes, lavender, more bubbles
& bath bomb, of course some candles too.
All alone with Coltrane. My favorite, “Naima,”
for his wife, now for me, inside my own womb.
Again, I child back. I float. I sing. I simple
& humble. Eyes close. I low my voice,
was it a psalm? Don’t know. But I stopped.
Reflective writing prompt
Write about the hustle upstream.

8/16/23 Workshop – A Poem by Kyle Carrero Lopez

Ode to a Croptop – Kyle Carrerro Lopez

O                         sliced crêpe;

dress                         code break;

half-                                    set sun;

slut                         symbol;

cracked             window;

short                                    story;

a whole summer                         carnival, shrunk.

How I adore                         your spunk,

your sincere open                         call for air

on my belly                         hair.

The little Target®                         boy

groaning eww                         as I pass

isn’t worth                         any ire.

He’s playing                         with fire,

but his parents                         lit the torch.

To think such small                         cloth

sparks grown brains                         aflame.

Why you in                         a girl’s top,

the man yells                        in DC.

I could have cut him                        one too,

so we’d both                                    feel the breeze.

Reflective writing prompt:
Write about a time you stood out from the crowd.