Poetry Class

I am always yammering on about getting out of my comfort zone and going for a stretch.

For an introvert, during Covid restrictions, this means poetry.

Something I’ve never done and never thought I’d do. After registering for the class I asked myself repeatedly, “What was I thinking!”

It was surprisingly gratifying and illuminating. Words can lie, but it seems poetry cannot.

Here are my efforts:

Bantu (two line, call-and-response) poem. Can be written by two people, but in this poem I wrote both lines, inspired by a vase in my office.

Vase has a thin brittle edge with one small chip

Life is fragile and breaks without warning

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Ode (poem celebrating something you love).

Ode to Tula

Small enough to pick up and hold

Always gets up in my lap to talk to “grandpa”

Relentlessly begging for treats, behavior learned from going hungry



Back to treats, she knows the drawer they are in and she sits and patiently waits

Imploring with her big eyes and tiny whine

She has not found a way to open the drawer herself, but she would like to


Why make life easy,

When you can have something complicated,

With a troubled past you’ll never know or understand

And can only infer from her difficult and needy behavior


She makes me remember compassion

She makes me remember when you meet someone on the street you don’t know what they’ve been through, how they’ve struggled, their pain


So much love in her small body

So much warmth under a blanket having a nap together

So much gratitude for a warm home and a water dish and a predictable dinnertime

So well-behaved in the car because she used to live in one


Big ears give her a comical expression

Short reddish-tan fur warm and soft to the touch

Makes her the third red-head in the family

Tail that whaps back and forth with excitement


Reactive in ways I wish she wasn’t

Impossible to manage at times despite her small size

I can’t know the memory she is reacting to


She reminds me of me

She deserves love and tenderness and I give it

I’m glad I wanted her despite complications and complexity

I’m glad I rescued her

I’m glad she rescued me



Free verse form (anything goes) on what is absent, missing, broken, used up, longed for.

Loss Of A Year

We won’t get the time back

To travel to Italy

Or celebrate Dad’s 91stbirthday, or Natalie’s graduation


We won’t get our innocence back

Our belief we want the same things,

Believe the same truth,

Share the same values


We won’t get back our ability to look away

In the face of inexplicable brutality


We won’t get back families that are broken by death

Deaths we didn’t see coming and never dreamed would number so many


What we have found is the joy of small things

The pleasure of tiny moments that make a year


Do we grieve and grieve and grieve

Or do we move forward from here

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Collaborative poem. These are verses I contributed to a collaborative poem Advice to Humankind. Everyone in the class contributed individual lines, based on our current day existence, and the contributions were assembled into one larger poem by the teacher. A unique experience. The whole was indeed more than the sum of its parts, but I’m sharing only my writing out of respect for the other contributors – they choose where and when to share their work.

If you find yourself vacillating between stress eating,

boredom eating,

(or drinking)

go outside more, and for longer.

Let the sun warm your face.

Sit or walk, see something green and growing,


Enjoy the outdoors, even the rain.

Or sit by a window if you can’t go out.


Recognize you won’t use all your extra time to clean the house

sort the drawers

learn new skills, or exercise in online classes.

You might fall short

on bettering yourself, with all the stress

and worry.

All poetry was written in the Portland Community College writing class Little Moments: Poetry of the Everyday taught by Angie Ebba, February 20, 2021.


© 2021 Carol Merwin, All Rights Reserved

All images are property of the author and may not be reproduced without permission.

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