Blooming late, early, or right on time.

The 17-year cicadas are about to do their 17-year thing. I listened to a news story the other day that said some of the cicadas we see this year will actually be 13-year cicadas who happen to be emerging four years late.

And then there’s this list of super slow-to-bloom plants. Some of these take longer to flower than it takes the cicadas to come out and play.

But who are we to talk about what’s “late” and who’s “early” for flowers, for cicadas … for any of the many wonders that grace us. How arrogant. Why is it hard to accept that these gifts arise when they’re supposed to, according to their own time.

Last week, friend posted about Sylvia Byrne Pollack, who published her first book of poetry today — the first day of National Poetry Month! — at the age of 80. Another friend sent me the link with an email note saying, “There’s time for us yet! #latebloomers”

Is Sylvia Pollack a late bloomer? Or is she, simply, doing one more thing in her long and full life, doing one more thing at exactly the time it was meant to be done?

It might just take me the next 20 years to finish my comics project. Would I consider that “late” or would I be thrilled that it took me 30 years less than I imagined it would?

Today is the start NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month), and the start of my exploration of the Golden Shovel form. Tonight I’m using a line from Lucille Clifton’s poem, “to thelma who worried because i couldn’t cook.”

La Impostora Stares Out from My Eyes

To my face in the mirror I say, "Madam,
you think you know me, but I assure you I'm
on a different page, working toward my own goals, not
stuck in the past traumas you want to revisit, your
insistence isn't truth. Say what you like. I'm not that girl."

Hmm … I mean, it’s day one. It’s curious because this form offers much more freedom than others I’ve tried … and yet still feels quite restricted.

National Poetry Month 2021: the Golden Shovel

As I’ve done for the last forever, I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April. I don’t always succeed, but I always give it my best shot. The “Golden Shovel” was created by Terrance Hayes in tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks. I learned about it from my friend Sonia (aka Red Emma). I’ll be using Lucille Clifton’s poems as my starting point this month. Here are the rules:

  • Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
  • Use each word in the line (or lines) as the end word for each line in your poem.
  • Keep the end words in order.
  • Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
  • The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.

If you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.

Should be interesting!


6 thoughts on “Blooming late, early, or right on time.

  1. I like your poem. It works really well in staring down La Impostora. And I like how you’ve explained the shovel poem format. I will attach that to mine as well, and also explain the story my headline comes from. And thank you for the reminder about the locusts — I love their summertime buzz and will look for their scaly bodies in the park.


  2. Oh, I like this. The chosen line works perfectly against La Impostora. Though the emphasis is on the ending words, I have to say the first word acrostic of “To you on stuck insistence” works well as foil to “Madam, I’m not your girl”


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