The Shore

This past weekend, I attended Renew and Refresh writing retreat. During the free time, I wandered the grounds taking pictures and writing poetry. This poem was inspired by this retreat. Nature's Office

The Shore

i asked the shore:


why stay here

drowning yourself

in the molasses  waves,

letting the water

drag its claws across your gritty flesh


spitting it out for fish food?


it’s reply:

how else will i see 

the other side?


If I Tell You Where I’ve Been

If I tell you where I’ve been… OneWord2013_Ignite

I’ve been hiding behind piles of student essays pondering how one teaches writing. Some days, I have no idea why the words I string together like beads on a necklace create something beautiful; or why some days, I can’t write a coherent sentence to save my life(or use cliches for that matter). Yet, I taught my writing courses anyway.

This is the one strange quirk of being a teacher–I will never know how well or how much of a “difference” I made. Perhaps, none at all save the assignments which allowed said students to pass a required course. I hope for more than simply that, but I know the teacher who first walked into those classrooms is not the same one who walked out. I’m changed. I learned. I hope they did as well.

If I tell you where I’ve been…

I’ve been hiding behind my computer screen clicking-clacking keys into letters and ideas until they form stories and characters and plot lines. Rolling around behind my eyeballs, stories of Southern life and its quirky, beautiful people keep coming like bowling balls down the lane until I must write them down on lose those stories to another writer. Slowly, I’m forming my mish-mash stories into a collection that I will finish by the end of summer (someone hold me to this, okay?).

I’ve labored through drafts and classes and characters who won’t shut up until I finish their story, or sometimes, those characters sigh and step into the shadows for awhile. One of the odd quirks of writing fiction really, I can’t force my characters to speak or show me something knew when they want to nap or sip sweet tea on the front porch. So, I wait too. When they are ready, I put their lives on the page as they would have wished to known to this world.

If I tell you where I’ve been…

I’ve been reading and writing and cooking and living and remembering. This is where I’ve been for the past four months, and now, my words are here again. Thank you for your patience.

Beyond All This: Guest Post

Today, I am honored to welcome another guest post, Veronica Ibarra. 

I first met Veronica whilst working with at risk youth, and we became friends over our mutual love of Jane Austen, fine literature, and zombies. She and I co-founded The Dark Jane Austen Book Club, and she writes for her own blog Veronica Monique: Word Warrior. I am pleased to present her poetic contribution here today.



Beyond All This


It isn’t a room in which I sit,

Where still silence echoes,

And darkness mirrors.

It’s a calm place where the storm rages,

Where acid tears scar my heart

As cherished voices slash deepest,

And sympathy is twisted into disgust.

Reality falls away

Leaving madness in its wake.

Foolishly I believe the lie,

Begging for its obliteration.

Please, help me see.

Give me strength to believe

I am as You made me.

With bleeding fingers I will climb from the abyss.

I will breathe in the light

To hear love and feel bliss

Because You did not leave me.

You live inside,

Deeper than the darkness

Beyond all this.



31 Days of Poetry{day 31} Endings

Welcome to the final day of 31 Days of Poetry.

I hope that you have enjoyed our meandering journey–not that a month can fully discuss everything that there is to KNOW about poetry. It just won’t happen since poetry is a lifelong study, adventure, and for some of us, a calling.

Starting tomorrow, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month so my posts will not be everyday(if you subscribe to the blog you may be grateful or disappointed. If you don’t subscribe, why not? Enter your email address—-> and you too can have poetry in your inbox). I will be having guest poets for the first time EVER on the blog. If you would like to guest post, leave me an email address  in the comments or shoot at email to: sarahjaskins[at]gmail[dot]com .

Where do we go from here?

About halfway through this journey, I had an idea for 2013. I thought it would be too big, too hard, and too much work. I’m doing it anyway.

I’m calling 2013:

The Year of the Poet

Starting January and going until December, I will be focusing my poetry on specific themes each month. At the end of the month, I will have an e-book for sale of 30-40 poems for sale. Half of the poems will be on the website, but half will only be available in the e-book. Excited? Me too!

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31 Days of Poetry {Day 23} Play

Welcome to 31 Days of Poetry!

We have a lot of ground in the few shorts weeks, and we are shortly coming to an end of our journey in poetry.

Never fear, the poetry will continue into November, but it may not be everyday like this month.

(Brief tangent: while this blog focuses on poetry and the occasional society induced rant, I write fiction as well. In November, I will be participating again in NaNoWriMo aka National Novel Writing Month or the time of year that my Redneck Romeo may have to endure a lot of sandwiches for dinner. I’m going to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I would love a bit of encouragement too. /tangent).

That brings me to the issue at hand for today:

to be a poet, you must learn how to play.

in adulthood,

we drag ourselves from bed to work to home to shit.


our weakened state

forgets how we came into our adultness

through playground games

and imaginary friends–

all huddled around the swingset

waiting for us.

Up we swung high

into the pirate sea

into the caverns dark

into cowboy town.

but reality crashes down

 as our dreary load

fueled by endless chatter

of tvsitcomdramareality,

and everything is meaningless

gray and brown–dead.

no wonder every child fights so hard

to avoid our colorless adult lives.


 we  have forgotten

the small child

living ing our bodies

desperate for air.

31 Days of Poetry{Day 19} Stuck

Welcome to 31 Days of Poetry!

Happy Friday!

Only 13 more days this of our journey, and I must confess that blogging everyday about something I love has been challenging. I haven’t blogged for an entire month ever(I tried in February of last year, and it didn’t work out so well), and I’m finding the act of blogging and writing each day helps me in my other creative outlets as well(like my fiction and my other blogs because once you start collecting blog you just can’t stop!).

This leads me to our topic today. Even when we feel the words flowing and the keys keep a steady beat as letters and spaces and periods bounce into life.

Sometimes, we get stuck. 

We call it so many things: writer’s block, my muse hath flown, just not clicking, the creative juices have dried up.

As writers, we train ourselves for the grammatical issues and stylistic changes and the weirdo in writing group that think everything we write should be thrown out and burned. But we rarely prepare ourselves for being stuck, so what happens WHEN you get stuck?

Well, obviously, we have to get unstuck(like it is that simple).

While I don’t have a magic formula, I do know what has worked for me. I would say that it is has been a LONG time since I needed to get unstuck, but it was just yesterday.

  • Clean: when I feel overwhelmed in a writing project or the poetry isn’t flowing, I clean something. I need to see immediate results. So I straighten my desk or do some dishes. If I’m really stuck, I clean a whole room(yesterday, I was EPICALLY stuck so I cleaned the living room, did dishes, cleaned the jetted tub, and the bathroom sink and mirror.). Once I see results, I can usually write something.
  • Walk the dog or walk yourself:  My desk faces the wall so it often feels like I’m in time out when writing. Having dogs gives me the excuse to go outside and mull over what I want to say, to look for new ways of seeing the world. I always come back feeling better and with something to write.

What tips and tricks do you have for getting unstuck?

31 Days of Poetry {day 15} Create

Welcome to 31 Days of Poetry!

Right now, we are almost half way through the month, and I hope that you are enjoying sharing this haphazard poet’s musings about poetry.

Today, I want us to create something.

A bit of poetry to be specific.

In fact, I’m going to make easy for us, and we are going to put into practice a few of the things that we have learned about poetry:

  1. Gives us an image
  2. Presents us with an experience
  3. Invites an emotional response

 So, take a look at this lovely picture

What do you see?

Write a poem.

What do you feel?

Write a poem.

What memories does it conjure up?

Write a poem.

In the comments, write a short three lined poem about the picture?

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31 Days of Poetry{day 12} Support Your Poet

Welcome to 31 Days of Poetry!

Tomorrow, I shall provide the links and topics from this week’s adventures, and Sunday will be a poem from one of my favorite poets. As always if you have any topics that you want to discuss, feel free to leave a comment.


When I began writing poetry exclusively here, I would receive lovely tweets or Facebook messages about how nice my poetry is, however, no comments on the blog itself. Strange, right? Well, maybe not. Poetry tends to intimidate most readers(why I don’t know), and so many of you have told me:

“I don’t know what to say.”

And I get that. When I read blog posts about death of a child or rape or abuse or poverty, I don’t know what to say that isn’t trite or worse an “I’m praying for you.” Sometimes, it is easy to skim over these and say nothing, and I have done this many times. But if you’re reading a blog frequently, you and I need to join in the conversation.

How to say something when you don’t know what to say:

  • Start with the obvious: “I really like this.” I have yet to meet any writer who doesn’t like a bit of encouragement. With this caveat, be genuine. If you don’t really like the piece, move on and come back another day.
  • Ask a question: perhaps, a line confuses you or you may be curious about what inspired this bit of poetry. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. While I won’t explicate what the poem means, I can tell you what inspired me to write it or where I was when the muse(before she died) kicked my butt.
  • Focus on the image/experience/emotion: does the poem remind you of something–write about that. does it bring a particular feeling–write about that.
What would you add? Or what prevents you from commenting on poetry blogs or blogs in general?

31 Days of Poetry {day 4} Go!

Welcome to 31 Days of Poetry. Coming this Saturday, I will post this week’s links on poetry. If you have a topic that you would like to have discussed, leave a comment.

to be a poet:

you must GO!

poetry doesn’t live

on the sofa,

beige and bland,

it breathes

mountains air,

drinks in the sea waves,

perches on autumn leaves

waiting to tumble down.

to be a poet:

you must

touch the cool sand,

smell the crackle of fire,

taste the wine,

hear the mockingbirds,

see the French impressionists.

but watching images

flash on a screen

never feeds the senses.

 to be a poet:

you will fail

if you hide behind

the comfortable,

the familiar,

to be a poet:

you must live.



I watch twilight ease behind the towering pines, the overgrown honeysuckle vines sucking all the life out of the scraggly maples. Above the fading outlines, the only color left, a soft orange-red-pink, then blackness. Night wraps her arms around the world, my part of North Carolina, the soil I rent from the bank. In the dark, the outside is invisible, and I pull back the curtains to watch a moment, to feel the coldness of autumn whisper on my neck.


Up the gray trunk, twisting round, clinging–muscadines dangle above my head too high to reach. I linger in the shadows of the tree. I stare at the black-purple fruit, the green tops turning red from bottom up. Bitter changes to sweet, but it is slow work. Everything here is slow, careful. I want to jerk the tree, shake down the fruit, gather it all up. But I don’t. The work of sun and rain and heat and cold isn’t finished with their magic spell. Learn to wait, they whisper. I walk on.


Night and day feel too much alike. Both bleeding headlong into the other. Never stopping, always moving into the next cycle, the next, the next, the next like some careless drummer in a marching band. I catch my breath on the end of another day that I just went through the motions. Clean, wash, write, do. Always the same motions, I dig ruts so deep that they become my prison cells, and I can’t climb out–the red clay mud slams me back in the deepness. So, I continue to dig my way toward China, to write myself out of this mess because I can’t make anymore sense of the world until it forms words. All these words muddle together in the cocktail shaker, and I shake and dump them on the page.


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