Author Archive for Adrienne


Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates neologisms. What’s that? Well, it’s a made-up word!


to put black all over it

to imbue with black love
or dark magic

to uplift with hands to the heavens
sing the praises of
line dance in the direction of

in the face of pressure, to deny or hide,
to double down on blackness

to never apologize for being born

to slip south and east on a journey

to fill up with the vastness of the known universe

to move beyond construct and into
the familial realm
a territory marked by drum
and shared destiny

to move beyond bondage
deep within

to break the iron around the heart
and love children that may be taken
by violence that is later justified with half truths

and love neighbors who do not love themselves
because they were taught not to

and love strangers because you see in each other
survival rooted in patience and miracle

and love even the gnarled trail behind you
the whip and promise and theft and desire
that gave us blackness

nocturne for survivors

Today, I challenge you to write a nocturne.

it is the same
rivers moving through me at the speed of light
carrying the weight of oxygen
telling me live
even now i must be told
the pale whisper is old
but still present

what nearly took me waits for me
that great unending sadness
the well inside me that holds no water
echoes down and down
with memories of every time i said no
and was overcome
every time i claimed the miracle
and was discarded, mundane
every moment i gather a snapped noose,
tuck a hushed slight in my back pocket
accumulating my pain
our suffering
having to prove
all the time
the burden

and when night falls
sometimes we’re alone with the echoes
waiting for chariots
waiting, quiet,
with suitcases bulging all around us
all the detritus of now
all that we can’t leave behind
because no one believes us yet

dear dear dear

Your poem can be in the form of a letter to a person, place, or thing, or in the form of a back-and-forth correspondence.

dear expert
no one can be well here
no well person can break the skin
suck out the life into cloud
leave the house unoccupied and wasted
in the road

but it lives in all of us
this idea of death
of taking life because [reason]
you’ve either found your reason
or successfully avoided it

this is our black burden
every day we are given the sole
of the boot, of the white concept of self
we either learn to love the weight at our neck
or we fight
fair or unfair,
we are not immune to the war in the soil here

bottom of the circle

Because we’re halfway through NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something.

the cycle moves top to bottom to top
east to west, back east again
now it feels we are lost in white space
invisible to modernity
it is impossible to imagine
a structure that could hold us all
that could be tender shelter for black life

maybe in the long gone
we rode the top of the cycle without awareness in small villages where the care was mutual, miracle
but we were at the bottom of the cycle
for generations

and then cycle turned also sideways
moving from left to right as we prayed
let there be
room to survive this
let there be
more life in this direction
even if I don’t know the way

nbecky dolezal

Because it’s Friday, let’s keep it light and silly today, with a clerihew. This is a four line poem biographical poem that satirizes a famous person.

an invitation to poetic shade?


nbecky nbasic dolezal
makes of herself a new-rich fool
each day of her subtweeted life
longing for a sweet beyond buds, she falls


45, who lost his name
and his dignity on the path to fame
was a fool with bloody hands
flowerless, more beast than man

there is no comfort

Today’s prompt is an oldie-but-a-goody: the ghazal. The form was originally developed in Arabic and Persian poetry, but has become increasingly used in English, after being popularized by poets including Agha Shahid Ali. A ghazal is formed of couplets, each of which is its own complete statement. Both lines of the first couplet end with the same phrase or end-word, and that end-word is also repeated at the end of each couplet.

There is no comfort inside a broken heart
no place to safely step in a shattered heart

There is no comfort where there is no power
stripped down to the bright red wounded heart

There were children walking that street, that field
now there’s only the bitter dust of mother’s heart

Every single day, all over this singular earth
we weaponize our minds against the heart

All the uniforms say ‘I will kill if I am told to’
Fingers taut, targeting anyone with freedom of the heart

Tell me, will you ever lose your acquired taste
for the raw flesh of a young and supple heart

And how long will we scream and beat our chests in anguish
Before we divest from all structures not rooted in the heart?

particular sounds of freedom

I’d like you to write a poem that explicitly incorporates alliteration (the use of repeated consonant sounds) and assonance (the use of repeated vowel sounds).

blurred blinding bliss! to
acknowledge the false accolades and
liberate the list of little lies
that shape your life

berate the behemoth blob
who can’t, or won’t, use the internet

blow away the blight of desire
accept the access you’ve been denying
you are kin, kindred, you came here already
and kept offering me kisses

lineage implies boldness in the meek
i must roar, though i am tiny
i just be nomad, lion, wandering so
i must not be as afraid as i thought
i am still here,

the Bop: deeper within

prompt for the day: the Bop. The invention of poet Afaa Michael Weaver, the Bop is a kind of combination sonnet + song. Like a Shakespearan sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition.

we need to be hyper
vigilant watching
always listening
for that moment
when the night falls
when you think you are light

it all begins deeper within

we can’t pull each other
into the spotlight
for a true moment
for a sharp dress down
for a reckoning
for redefining
all of our hearts
are so fragile

it all begins deeper within

trust in the drift
trust in the storm
trust in the stumbling motion
of time unfolding
trust that you don’t know everything
but you don’t know nothing

it all begins deeper within


Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you. It doesn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, as what they are or were.

i miss him in three places

his garage, empty,
the sound of crickets and locusts between us
him stepping out belly first
dancing his eyebrows at me
popping his teeth in and out of his gums
plaid shirt, denim and boots
arms wide, ready for me

his chair at the round table
surveying the people he’d made
six with fifteen more
his face lean and thrust forward to listen
he sat down when the table was set
he left when he was finished
he flirted with mema still
his eyes mischievous over his o of mouth

and on his horse
before me in the wood
bending under branches like he knew their names
talking my creature up a hill and down through a moving stream
galloping ahead of me across the field
where the pond was, before the highway came
saying the trees and telling me his memories
“this is what the lord has made
and it is good”

taught me

i found her face locked in a frame

I skipped the 7th prompt due to time travel. here it is.

In keeping with the fact that it’s the seventh day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo, Elizabeth and I challenge you to write a poem about luck and fortuitousness.

i found her face locked in a frame
upright on oak in one room that creaks
windows showed that cotton of the carolinas

she wore a white dress buttoned to her chin
and she looked to be my kin
proper, rigid, unafraid
of the life she’d made

she was a past and a future me
not sure if she was owned or free
not sure how she was lucky

i wanted to scoop all of her up
the photo and all the memories
her lovers and all her mysteries
to know how she survived it

moroccan rugs and journals full
of ego, heartache, rail and bull
i wonder where she journeyed

i want to lay her in the box
of all the other things i’ve lost
echoes of an intimate past
the detritus that lasts