Photography Lesson

The following is a found poem from Jennifer Dukes Lee’s piece at (in)courage today: Light, for Your Darkest Days. (Scroll down if you want to know what a found poem is, or how to write one.)

To learn the magic of light, she said, I needed to wake before sunrise. I needed to watch how light overtakes dark.

– Jennifer Dukes Lee

Photography Lesson

To learn the magic of light, wake
before sunrise. Stumble barefoot
on gravel. Chase light before dawn

in the silky mist of valleys
where landscape yawns.
Then wait. Press

one hopeful eye against
the viewfinder and capture
the last word:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness
has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

Have you ever written a found poem? The Academy of American Poets defines it:

Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.

If you’ve never written a poem, try a found poem. It’s a gentle, fun, and easy way to dip your toes into poetry for the first time!

See more of my found poems here.


A Family Superstition

Sometimes I need to write something lighthearted and fun, even (or especially) when I feel like writing about other things. The following poem is for Tweetspeak’s current poetry prompt: Write a ballad about a family superstition. If you’d like to learn how to write a ballad poem (or if you just want to know what a ballad poem is), read Marjorie Maddox’s excellent, fun guide: How to Write a Ballad—which would also be a great teaching resource on the ballad form.

Making faces

A Family Superstition

I relished car rides, windows down,
air rushing, freeway speed.
Made faces with my brother (clown!),
heads stuck out in the breeze.

My index fingers pulled my mouth
to stretch the lips out wide,
and forced the eyelid corners down,
exposing whites of eyes.

Our older sisters (adult age)
would warn us with a grin:
Your silly face will freeze if you
make faces in the wind!

So now, though I still revel in
car windows opened wide,
I only make expressions when
my face is safe inside.

David making his "funny eyes" face

Photo credits:
Top photo by Jo Christian Oterhals, via flickr creative commons.
Bottom photo by Larry and Laura, via flickr creative commons.


(For Tweetspeak Poetry’s laundry poem prompt.)


All my laundry is white.
No strategically chosen colors,
no distracting patterns
to hide any stains.
I hang them in the sun
and something in the light
makes them bright again
and warms a nearby stone
where I can rest.

Words Not Dropped

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.
(1 Samuel 3:19, ESV)

Let flavorful tidbits
roll off your tongue.
Take a twist or two

from the salt mill.
Add grace to taste
(no measuring). Then

God will not let
your words go
to waste, like

leftovers scraped
off the plate.
Someone hungry will

devour them
and not a crumb
will fall to the ground.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
(Ephesians 4:29)

Linking with Sandy:

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Lock and Hasp

Hasp and Lock

In the room with south-facing windows
there is a worn wooden box—closed
but not secure. A padlock slips

tenuously through the hasp
attached to the box. The lock has not
a key, only a shiny dial whose combination

is left to this number, two revolutions right
to that number, then left again.
But you have to know the numbers.

The lock fits loosely
in the hole of the hasp and rattles
at any disturbance—

like nearby thunder
or a hasty hand spinning
the dial.

Leave off the lock. Lift up
the hasp. Swing open
that treasure chest

and let light
from the windows
into the quiet darkness.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
(Luke 9:24, NASB)

… for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9, NLT)

Linking with Sandra Heska King and Laura Boggess:

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Photo credit: John D., via Flickr Creative Commons

To Parents of Newborns: Don’t Blink

(photo via Tweetspeak Poetry)

For Tweetspeak Poetry’s latest prompt: Write a poem for the exhausted new parent. Reflect on the fleeting season of childhood.


Breathe her in, savor
these newborn days as fleeting
as the baby’s breath
the flower is named for.
Carry her skin
to skin.
And don’t blink, they say.
True, but napping
is okay.


Jennifer Dukes Lee has invited us to write a color poem! But I couldn’t decide on one color, so I’m doing plaid:


Plaid is the vertical, heaven reaching down,
intertwining with sideways lines—
you reaching out to me
reaching out to you.
Tartan lines, some bold and wide, some
narrow, all coming together
at right angles, motley little L’s
loving one another.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

(Romans 12:4-5)

Lava Rock


How can it be that magma heat
loses its liquid burn? How
can fiery froth turn cold,
molten bubbles no longer
bursting in a rolling boil?
Your zealous glow has cooled, aloof now
and indifferent, your white-hot hue
frozen into dull darkness, igneous and basaltic,
your dynamic flow turned
static, all the little holes
hardened into airy rock, not much
weight, negligible influence on
any scale. Burn again.

Because you have this faith, I now remind you to stir up that inner fire which God gave you.

– 2 Timothy 1:6 (Phillips)

(for this poetry prompt at

A Better Anger Management

Once, at a ski-town cabin, I chopped wood.
I put the log over a wide tree stump and swung
an axe for the first time. That was before
I had read any Annie Dillard, so I didn’t know
I should aim for the stump, should swing past
the log I wanted to split. But I liked that it was hard
work, I liked the transfer of energy from arms

to axe to wood, and then I was too tired even to be
angry. It’s like when I was a girl and my
big sister’s boyfriend took us to the batting cages.
When I swung hard but missed I felt heavy
like a storm cloud that couldn’t let down
its thunderload of rain. But when I heard
the crack of the bat and felt that same energy
transfer from my arms to the flying baseball,
I understood why they called it a sweet spot.

Sometimes when I am angry
I want to go to the batting cages
or the chopping block at that cabin,
but never
when I am the baseball
or the log to be split.

Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
(Luke 6:31)

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
(Ephesians 4:26)

Short-tempered people do foolish things.
(Proverbs 14:17)