Category Archives: judy dykstra-brown poetry

Overworked or Labor Shirked?



Overworked or Labor Shirked?

It’s hard for me to find the middle
between hard labor and the fiddle.
Work? I either overdo it
or endeavor to eschew it.
Work all day and then all night,
being very erudite—
putting words down on the page,
imprisoned in my muse’s cage.

Perhaps I fear my distant past
when good work habits didn’t last
and days were spent in dreaming or
novels read behind closed door—
midnight radio a chance
for fantasies to spin romance.
Whole days stretched as though to catch
an errant dream of true love’s match.

I feared such days were sloth, and yet
perhaps they were just roads to get
to the place where I would tell
the stories that I knew so well
because I’d lived them first in dreams
or days just bursting at the seams
with doing nothing but living life—
its pleasures, problems, romance, strife.

First the doing at my leisure,
then the writing, and the seizure
of all the details of the past
that, once down on paper, are made to last.
Overworked or over-lived,
life first collected, then finely sieved.
Panned like gold to find the treasure—
leisure and work in even measure.

Overworked” is the prompt word today.

Check List for a Budding Poet


Check List for a Budding Poet

If you want to be prolific,
better that you be specific,
and when you choose to state each fact,
try to make each word exact.
Don’t use time-worn words or wilted.
Avoid pretentious words or stilted.

Never try to force a rhyme.
Do not fail to take the time
to make your lines scan smoothly for,
uneven meter is a bore.
Words written for effect are hollow,
but where heart is, the head will follow.

So write your poetry from the heart.
Put your horse before the cart
and let it pull you up the hill.
Let your words express their will—
you following blindly, just to see
what the next line wants to be.

Let words of different shapes and sizes
furnish pleasure and surprises.
Make your poems resemble zoos
of striped okapis and kangaroos.
Delight yourself and then your reader.
Follow words, then be their leader

by whipping them in line and order,
shaping them within your border.
It never is too late to change
an errant line that’s out of range,
but editing is not what you
initially should seek to do.

Words give hearts tongues to share their pleasure
and their pain in equal measure.
Essayists and authors strive
to make their writings come alive.
They show us where their minds have been,
but poets put the music in.

The prompt today was “specific.”

Float Trip

Etching, p/a by Isidro Xilonzóchitl, jdbphoto 

Float Trip

When I feel life’s wear and tear
and wilt before rude gossip’s stare,
feeling vulnerable and bare,
as though I cannot get my share
of fresh, unviolated air,
I rise above the jarring glare
in search of space that is more rare,
willing to pay whatever the fare
to rise above the world’s nightmare
and hang suspended, without care.

There I soar, I risk, I dare.
It does not matter what I wear.
I don’t regret my thinning hair,
my widening waist or derriere.
I do not fear that speeding mare
that cuts the night to bring despair.
Rue not that life has been unfair.
Need neither mask nor nom de guerre,
for when things get too much to bear,
I float myself right out of there

to revel in my inner lair.


img_1903painting by Salvador, jdbphoto

The prompt word today was “float.”





Like a phony love letter not influenced by Cupid,
flattery will get you somewhere only with the stupid.

For if praise is unwarranted, it leaves us feeling flat.
When so falsely offered, it falls down with a splat.

While flattery may be offered by those without a clue,
praise and adulation are not flattery if they’re true.

Praise is a beloved pet, but flattery’s a zoo.
While you’re  curious to view it, you don’t take it home with you.


The prompt word today is “Flattery.”



Once from our comfort we are torn—
from the first moment we are born—
we’re put into this world to do,
to suckle, gurgle, bill and coo,
then to stand and tie a shoe.
To participate, and not just view.

From a broomstick with horse’s head,
we go on to bust a bronc instead.
Playing drums or clarinets,
clicking heels or castinets,
from paper airplanes to flying jets,
doing’s as good as living gets.

We start out small and then get bigger.
Vine pod boats grow sails and rigger
to sail the world and tell the tales
of seas like glass, whirlpools and gales.
Each time you try out something new,
it brings more world inside of you.

Some things work out, others we rue,
but still it’s better to try and do
than put ourselves up on our shelves
and simply analyze ourselves.
Daring-do beats daring-don’t,
for life consists of “will,” not “won’t.”


The prompt word today was “Daring.”

True or False?

True or False?

If every question had an answer clear as yes or no,
and we could more easily know the status quo,
life would not be so puzzling. The answers would be clear
about how we should run our lives. There would be less to fear.

In matters of importance, like college choice or major,
there would be less pondering and mistakes made, I’ll wager.
Our choice of whom to marry and everything we do
could be laid out on paper, put clearly in our view.

No more “to be or not to be.” No more mental maybes
when it comes to our decisions over houses, pets or babies.
Life would be just a check list labeled ” false or true”
with no equivocating over what to do.

The infinite variety of choices we now face
that have us always questioning at a faster pace
would be a simple matter—clear cut with no debate—
an indisputable right or wrong about whom we should date.

The lines would grow much longer for every “true” or “yes”
with all the “nos” and “falses”  left lonely, I would guess.
With all things predetermined and all things black and white,
there would be just two choices over what was wrong or right.

No more essay questions. Each decision plain and clear.
At every choice we’d know exactly which way we should steer.
No doubt life would be simpler and easier in its scoring,
but I am also pretty sure that it would be more boring!


DSC08751 (1)


I really did not mean to stare
when I saw you standing there,
but there was sunlight in your hair.
It was tangled. Your feet were bare.
It was a lovely sight and rare
as, seemingly without a care,
you stood above me on the stair.
And though I wished to, I didn’t dare
climb up to see how you might fare.

Instead, my wretched form I bore
down the staircase and out the door.
Since then, you are that thing of lore
that resides within my core.
I still remember what you wore.
I lie awake. I pace the floor––
trying nightly to restore
at one, at two, at three, at four––
the vision of you one time more.

I cannot work. I cannot eat.
I see your hair the hue of wheat,
your wrinkled dress, your naked feet,
and cannot help but feel defeat;
because even in ardor’s heat,
my courage to ascend and greet
thee, and to make my life replete,
never ascends above your street,
never accomplishes the feat.

And that is why I’m in your hall
wondering if I have the gall
to stand up brave and sure and tall
and ring your doorbell––to make the call.
I put my ear against your wall,
but I can hear no sound at all.
Indecision casts its gloomy pall.
I hesitate. I pause. I stall.
I do not shoot. I bounce the ball.

Though all my fears I seek to quell,
my words are prisoners in a cell,
and though I have rehearsed them well
and have the key to where they dwell,
my thoughts of what to say won’t gel.
I stand here in my private Hell.
A deathly dirge begins to knell.
I raise my hand. I ring the bell
and steel myself––this tale to tell.