PAD: Day 10 – Technology or Anti-technology


The phone rang almost every morning
that summer of my sophomore year.
And if I didn’t answer it rang again.
“I lost my game and I can’t find it.”
I would drag my fifteen year old body
out of bed too early for summer vacation
and trudge four houses down the block
to where my grandma stood with the door open.
“I let you sleep in, I’ve been up since six.”
As I fished the window with her bridge game
back from wherever she’d slid it
she’d say the same thing:
“Haven’t I lived in an amazing time?
From oil lamps to light bulbs
and wood stoves to electric blankets.
The Model T to airplanes and a man on the moon.
From radio to T.V.
and now these computers.
Didn’t I pick a wonderful time to be born?”


PAD: Day 9 – Mistake


The Zamboni smooths the ice until
there is no sign of
bright-coated kids who played
tag across the rink
running on their toes
ice chunks flying behind them.
Just a clean surface for
blades to write a story on.

If I had a Zamboni
I would smooth out
all of the gouges I leave
with thoughtless words
or none at all
(which may be worse);
and edit the story
I’ve already written.

PAD: Day 7 – Simmer down


There are a million stars in Texas
and the air is big.

You have known sorrow.
Fear was your friend.

But here on the threshold
you can breathe again,
even if it’s been a while.


In the Hill Country of Texas is a retreat center called Laity Lodge when I spent 4 days last February at the Rabbit Room retreat. A short walk from the meeting space is an art installation called Threshold. If you go there at night, you can see all the stars.

Photo by Kristen Kopp (c) 2015
Threshold: Photo by Kristen Kopp (c) 2015

PAD: Day 6 – We’re being Watched


When you were tiny I would stand
next to your bed with my hand
near your little nose.

Feeling your breath move in and out
awed that my body could bring about
such a perfect life.

But then your strength began to fade.
Your voice, your legs, both betrayed
the hope that we all had.

And now I’m by your bed again
watching you breathe: out, then in.
Wondering how to say goodbye.


The prompt for today was to write on the theme of “we’re being watched”. The writer of the prompt intended it to be a Big Brother type watching. But I went in a different direction. (And changed the prompt to “being watched”.)

For over seven years I’ve been reading a blog written by Shannon,the mother of two children who have a genetic disease called Sanfilippo Syndrome. Children with Sanfilippo Syndrome accumulate long sugar chains (GAGs) in their cells because their body is missing the tools needed to break them down. The children progress normally at first, and then begin to regress as more and more GAGs build up in their cells. Eventually the child loses language, mobility and the ability to eat. There is no treatment.

Shannon and Matt’s oldest child, Waverly Mae, entered hospice about a week ago and she only has a few days left. Shannon’s recent posts has been from Waverly’s bedside, where she is holding vigil. I wrote today’s poem thinking of her.

PAD: Day 5 – Festive poem (Round 2!)

This is outside of my normal style…and I’m still playing with it a little.


I knew where mom hid the presents:
in the back of the closet in what used to be my room
behind all of the old clothes that don’t fit
anyone anymore (but we hope they will again).

Way in the back, beneath empty shoe boxes
next to the broken seventies-yellow vacuum.
I climbed deeper than I thought that closet went
until I wondered if I was halfway to Narnia.

After the year I let on that I knew all the gifts
she got smart enough to wrap them before
she stuffed them in a black bag way back in that closet.
So I was surrounded by snowmen and sleigh bells and Santas.

I explored each package, best I could, turning
and shaking and probing until – car doors slam.
I piled them back – presents, vacuum, boxes, clothes
and ran to pretend I was waiting for Christmas.

PAD: Day 5 – Festive poem

The Last Thanksgiving

Remember our last Thanksgiving?
The one when we went
to the couple’s house.
That couple who told me
“God can save your marriage”
and then left him to do so
without ever asking again.

It was a motley crew.
Outcasts and exiles from
all over town with one thing
in common: nowhere else to go.
So we sat together
eating turkey and potatoes
in self-conscious silence.

When the silence stretched
too long – too long
even for our awkward host
he would pull out his phone
and read a historical fact about
Pilgrims and Indians and the
first Thanksgiving.

I was so glad when,
after pie and coffee,
the first person excused herself
leaving us free to follow.
We looked at each other and
agreed on the first thing in months:
Let’s never do that again.

PAD: Day 4 – Once Upon a…

The Middle

We remember the beginning and the end
the once upon and the ever after.
But who wants to talk about all that time in between?

All those days when Cinderella left sooty fingerprints
across her slipper
and seven men’s tears splashed on a crystal coffin.
When Aurora slept and slept and slept
and everyone slept with her.

And who wants to talk about all those weeks
that Joseph sat in jail, forgotten,
or those months when Sarah wasn’t pregnant?
When a people waited four hundred years
telling each other “maybe he’ll come tomorrow”.
(And let’s not talk about the Israelites
and their long walk.)

Who wants to slog through all that middle
where so much of life is?
I’ll take the ever after.

PAD: Day 3 – United/Divided

We were a house divided, you and me,
before I even knew it.

I thought that one flesh meant
always saying
and yes
and yes.
But all that really happened
is that we took care of you.

Night after night I found myself
wondering if you would
come back to the bed
or if you’d flirt all night
with your Technicolor whores
and leave me to sleep

I gave you everything I had
until I was all dry
both laughter and tears spent.
A burst balloon
wrung out
and useless.

And then you asked for more.

I used to think the song
was right –
one is the loneliest number.
But now I know .
Two (who should be one)
can be much
lonelier than

PAD: Day 2 – Surrender

The Last Leaf

The last leaf – the red one – dances on its stem
mimicking the little girl in the pink coat
with her hands over her head.

She spins around
then faster
and faster still
her mittens flying (almost) free
at the end of their strings.

(Her grandma –white hair, not silver –
put those strings on
just for times like this.)

The pink-coated twirl
ends with a crunch
and a crash
into all the leaves
that have fallen before.

And the last leaf lets go
and surrenders to winter.

Picture by Kristen Kopp (c) 2015
Picture by Kristen Kopp (c) 2015