Writing In Retirement Blog

Writing Poems Within a Poem

My Apologies

I want to apologize for my spotty blog posts, but I seem to be having plenty of problems concentrating and maintaining my focus on writing. I find I must do writing in small increments – at least until this week. I finally seem to be able to get back on track. I do hope everyone is keeping safe and well during these trying times.

Writing One Poem That Turned Into Many

I hope you enjoy this learning experiment along with me on how to go about putting together poems within a poem. My journey about composing my poems all started because April was Poetry Month. I challenged my writing group – which is all via email now – to write a poem about stars – any type of stars. It took me a couple of weeks to get myself motivated, but I began by writing out a free form verse list (of sorts) of types of stars and phrases that contained the word ‘stars.’ I entitled that poem Variations on Stars. Later I added a numerical indicator ‘I’ so that people would know that was the foundational poem for the more fleshed out poem that followed. Here is that first poem.

Variations on Stars I

By Marie Staight

Starlight, Starbright

Star of Bethlehem

The brightest star

Star of David

The gold star on my paper

Shooting star

Yellow Holocaust Badge

Bam! He saw stars!

You are the star of the show

Rising Star

Morning Star

The Great Star of Africa

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Star-Spangled Banner

Silver Star

Bronze Star

Star in your heavenly Crown

Swinging on a Star

Stars in your eyes

Reach for the stars


Expanding the Poem

After wrestling with the knowledge that I wanted to say a whole lot more about this list, I began trying to expand on each line. It was as if I was trying to write small poems within the entire poem. My first attempt was to write a four-line stanza, rhyming lines B and D. However, this attempt was terrible, and I didn’t like what I was coming up with at all.

A couple of mornings later, I was sitting in the sunshine on my patio and meditating. I was trying to keep my mind clear, but as with many times when I meditate, my mind was hard at work solving the problem of the second poem. Snap! Instead of a four-line stanza, try a three-line stanza rhyming lines B and C.  As soon as I was finished meditating, I got down to trying out this idea. The words flowed easily for about two stanzas, and then I hit a wall. To try and move on, I tried skipping over the next lines and picking out a line I thought I could expand. I continued in this manner day after day, all through the rest of April.

I cannot tell you how many times I revised and edited this second poem – it was a lot! I wanted to be precise in the words I used, and at the same time, I wanted to build strong imagery of the concept of each type of ‘star.’ The thesaurus became my friend, along with RhymeZone – a beneficial aid for writing poetry. I worked on the poem in fits and starts. I found that when I hit a snag, it was best just to walk away and try again the next day. On May 1st, I finally decided I had polished the poem enough. This second poem I entitled Variations on Stars II – Poems within a Poem.

Here is the finished poem. I hope you enjoy it!


Variations on Stars II – Poems Within a Poem

By Marie Staight


Starlight, Starbright

First star of the night

Signaling a wish tonight.


Star of Bethlehem

The wise men of the East were led,

To a baby in a manger bed.


The brightest star

In the darkest night.

Shine on with brilliant light.


Star of David

A duality of triangular steeples

Symbol of The Chosen Peoples


The gold star on my paper

So proud. For a job well done

A well-deserved home run.


Shooting star

Across the sky you bust

Leaving a trail of cosmic stardust.


Yellow Holocaust Badge

Symbol of raw hate

Forever may we abrogate.


Bam! He saw stars!

When a fist broke his jaw.

Stars! That’s all he saw.


You are the star of the show!

You make them cry and laugh

Accolades of bows, and after, autographs.


Timid Rising Star,

First to shimmer in the night

Tentative, you emit tremulous light.


Beautiful Morning Star

Lingers for its last stand,

Until the Sun takes command.


The Great Star of Africa

Royalty dons the bejeweled Crown, and takes the throne,

As light dances hither and yon from the spectacular stone.


Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Emitting light rays so faraway

You make us wonder; will we visit someday?


The Star-Spangled Banner

Waving proudly above

Hands to our hearts with love.


Silver Star, Bronze Star

Beribboned medals decorating uniforms, tell

Of Valor, and Heroes, as well.


“A Star in your Heavenly Crown!”

My mother’s saying

For unrequited acts of do-gooding.


Stars in your eyes –

Hopeful for the future? Or naïve?

Or to romantic notions they cleave?


Swinging on a Star

A composition as an absurdity

But – “You can be better than you are” – not a whimsicality.


Reach for the stars!

That longing into the Universe for adventure

As far as our imagination can venture.


Stars have many meanings –

Glowing, Brilliant, Burning hot,

Glorious, the lot.


Comments are welcome.


The Writer’s Isolation?

It’s Hard to Write During this Pandemic

I don’t know about you, but I am finding it harder and harder to concentrate with all this COVID19 stuff going on in the background. The cacophony of voices with ever dire predictions and even worse, the real statistics make my head hurt, and my heart flutter. Even with meditation music in the background and constant “Ommmm” to produce positive vibrations in my life, I still find it troublesome to fall into my characters’ lives.


There’s No Social Isolation When You Write

On the other hand, when I do manage to penetrate the curtain of disharmony that is surrounding me, and I can make that leap to a telling a story, well, it’s magic. There is no social isolation when you write stories. Your head is filled with visions of that which you write. You forge a relationship with the characters that pop into your head. You birth them and discover their beautiful and sometimes ugly traits. You weave a background for them that gives them the need for goals. You contrive situations to build conflict, making your characters have to wade through hard choices – choices that they sometimes nail, and at other times they fail. And before your eyes, they change.

When the story is done, you grieve a little because you have to leave your friends. But, in fact, they dance in your head and keep you company whenever you think of the story. Sometimes if you are lucky, they are persistent and keep you up at night wanting to star in another story. When you are a writer, no matter what you write, social isolation is pretty much impossible because you never are alone.


Here’s a Poem on that subject.



By Marie Staight

 The pandemic swept into our life.

Sneaking, creeping, robbing people of breath.

Disrupting entire cities with so much strive,

Leaving a path of darkness and death.


Wash your hands! Don’t touch your face!

You must be persistent!

So, it doesn’t kill off the Human Race.

Get away! Keep your social distance.


The government tells you to isolate.

Six feet or more between each one.

Wear masks and hibernate.

Watch TV and have no fun.


In my imagination, I play

I fight the beast on typing papers

I beat it till it goes away.

I write of romance and silly capers.



 You see I am not in solitude

When my mind can invoke

Characters that collude

To kill the monster with a dagger’s stroke.


There is no social distance,

When, with my characters, I write.

They reside in a timeless existence

Keeping me company through the lonely night.


Comments are welcome.

Come Celebrate This Happy Day!

March 3rd – I Want You to be Happy Day

Do you know what March 3rd is? It’s the happiest day of the year. It is National I Want You to be Happy Day! It’s the day that everyone needs to make a special effort to spread happiness to others. It doesn’t need to be surprising someone with winning a sweepstake or millions of dollars. This day is to just try and make someone’s life a bit happier. Things like – visiting a friend in a nursing home, calling your Mom or Dad, bringing in doughnuts to your workplace, complementing the clerk at the fast food place on her nails, giving out chocolates to strangers you meet – anything that will pass along the feeling of goodwill and bring a smile to another person’s face. Think hard, and you will come up with dozens of ways to celebrate this day.

Here’s a poem I wrote to celebrate – I Want You to be Happy Day.

Cat Happy

On I Want You to be Happy Day

I’ll text my friends with a happy greeting,

Telling them my wish for smiles today.

My face, a smile with every meeting.


Making others happy

Is the goal of this special day.

A joke, a lollipop, a song that’s toe-tappy,

Perhaps even a pretty bouquet!


Let’s all try to treasure

I Want You to be Happy Day

And keep in our hearts a measure

So we can give a smile every day.


Please celebrate – I Want You to be Happy Day! What will you do on this day?

Comments welcome.


Let’s Look at Sentences

long sentence

Lately, I have been thinking about how words fit into sentences – and sentences into paragraphs that make up stories. As I cogitated on this puzzle, I came up with a poem that I think tells it all. I hope you enjoy it.


Let’s Look at Sentences

Sentences consist of a subject –

An idea, a person, a place, or a thing you select.

In a sentence, the subject must have an action

The verb creates the action (or in the case of an idea the abstraction).


Sentences can be long such as, “In the course of human events…”

But not so long they don’t make sense.

Sentences can be short such as, “Stop!”

The subject implies a motorcycle cop.


A sentence can be an exclamation,

Or it can be an idiomatic expression.

Or a command that starts with bossy verbs,

Or a declarative statement with plenty of adverbs.


Sentences make paragraphs

That makes you think, or cry, or gives you laughs.

Paragraphs strung together to tell a story,

A mystery, a romance, or an allegory.


So go out and spread the seeds,

Of words put into sentences of deeds.

 Tell your tales in subjects, predicates, and paragraphs

Then go out and sign your autographs!

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them below.


The Desk Dilemma: Part Two


As I talked about last time, I survived the desk fiasco! Everything went as planned – except that the new unassembled desk was delivered four days early. I wasn’t there when it was delivered – so the huge box that was as tall as my door stayed by my door for that time. There was no way I could move all 72 pounds of it, and none of my neighbors could either, so it just stayed there. I figured if anyone were stupid enough to try and steal it, they would pay for trying. Also, since I have a Ring Doorbell, any thief would be on camera. As it turned out, the ‘College Hunks’, moved the box into my garage after they had taken apart my old desk to move it into their truck. By the way, they were great, and I will use them again when I need to get rid of heavy stuff.

Like Putting Together a Jigsaw Puzzle

Jigsaw puzzle

In the days before the new desk was assembled, I used a card table for my computer. Two Geek Squad members came on Saturday and assembled the desk in three hours. They said it was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I was sort of surprised that for the whole time they were doing the assembly, I didn’t hear one swear word. I have to admit I would have been tossing out some blue words if it had been me putting that thing together!

The next task was putting all the stuff I had in the bookcase and the desk away or tossing it. Thank goodness my cleaning lady helped me do this because I am too sentimental and distracted to be any good at tossing little slips of paper I have written notes on that I can’t even decipher. In no time, she had things organized and put away.

I was pleased that the desk was exactly as it was in the picture on the internet and that it was big enough to accommodate my all-in-one printer. I have to say I feel much less disorganized each time I sit down at my desk now. It is a great relief to have this all done.

new desk

My new desk workspace.

How about you? Is your writing space as organized as you would like? Have you gone through the trauma of having to reorganize your workspace? Comments are welcome!