20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers



I’m coming back, o yes, I’m coming back
from drug-induced exhaustion. More like spring,
I open, little at a time, and cling
to daffodil arrangements. Winter black

took all my energy and made me spin
out on my walking paths. I stand now, straight,
again feel able to walk through each gate,
hear melodies of birds, not tuneless din.


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Spring, Finally

An urchin, infant, tiny new one comes,
but rocking, lurching to reality.
Spring doesn’t sing this year, but only hums
a whispered whistle. Can’t we now agree

that birth has finally, finally taken place?
The daffodils and robins do not lie.
Forsythia, like puffs of yellow lace,
tell us to winter we have said goodbye.

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Message to Melissa

So, Melissa, now that we have arrived on the last day of April, are you going to ask people to submit their month-long-edited poems? It’s been an interesting exercise, and I only wish that I had begun a little of my poem at the beginning and added to it, rather than writing the whole thing and then editing for a month. That was tough, although it produced a lot of changes that I like.

Thank you for offering this challenge. I’m glad I took part, even though circumstances dictated that I had to miss a few days.

Cheers! (as someone we all know and love says!)


April Challenge

I have been dutifully editing my poem every day this month (except for the two days I was in the hospital)…and want to now simply go on record to say that I’m finding it more and more difficult as the days go on. This isn’t to say that I think my poem is complete. I know that extended editing can result in a really good poem. At the same time I don’t want to edit just for the sake of editing.

I am glad to be spending this kind of time on my poem. If you happen to be following my work on it, you’ll see that some days I make small changes and other days the edits are more significant.

I’m having trouble foreseeing doing this for two more weeks. But, I love a good challenge, so I’ll give it my best shot.


I’m Back

I really feel terrible about not working on my poem for two days, but I had a seizure just following my cataract surgery on Tuesday, and had to spend the night in the hospital. I’m still very tired, but I’ll get back to work on my poem today. My intention was to stay at it every day of the month.

“The best-laid plans….”


April Challenge Day 25

Today’s edits are in italics (first four words only italicized because it’s a title).

The Sound of Music tour in Austria struck
me. “No one knows this movie here,” our guide
informed us. I imagined movie truck

and spotlights, actors, costumes, details well-
assembled to produce this memorable show.
Yes, Julie Andrews, seven children fell

in love while Captain boomed out orders. Strict,
and disapproving of her curtain-clothes,
he criticized, but she would not be tricked

by Von Trapp’s bark. He lost his angst, his bite.
Soon Captain and Maria fell in love.
Their garden dance electrified the night.

Church chimes announced their coming wedding morn.
Young Liesl walked before Maria then,
her face aglow, a family newly born.

Inside that lakeside church the aisle stretched out
for miles, it seemed. But I must tell you true.
With my own eyes I saw it. There’s no doubt:

That church (has one short center aisle), not long.
I didn’t want to think it once I knew,
projection of the church’s size so wrong.

20th Century Fox chose Salzburg as its place,
portrayed Mondsee Cathedral much too large,
a camera alteration of the space.

Recalling this, I see the billowed flow,
Maria’s wedding gown down endless floor,
the trick of eye done by a studio.


April Challenge

April Challenge Day Three

Day Three changes will be in italics.

The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg struck
me. “No one knows this movie here,” our guide
informed us. I imagined camera truck

and spotlights, actors, costumes, details all
combined so to produce this well-loved show.
Yes, Julie Andrews, seven children fall

in love while Captain booms out orders, strict,
and disapproving of her curtain-clothes.
She did not shirk, and never would be tricked

by his loud bark. Soon gentle was his bite (not sure about “gentle was his bite”)
as Captain and Maria fell in love.
Their dance together was a pure delight

and soon the bells pealed on their wedding morn.
Young Liesl walked before Maria then,
her face aglow. A family had been born.

Inside that church the endless aisle stretched out
for miles, it seemed, but I must tell you true:
With my own eyes I saw it. There’s no doubt

that church was small, one aisle, and not so long.
I didn’t want to think it once I knew.
The screen projected something that was (o so instead of “that was”) wrong.

America chose Austria as its place,
and made (replace “and made” with portrayed) Mondsee Cathedral seem so ( replace “seem so” with much too) large, (so the second line would then read: “portrayed Mondsee Cathedral much too large,”
a camera alteration of the space.

Recalling this, I see the billowed flow,
Maria’s wedding gown down endless floor,
but know the truth of this scenario.

I would appreciate opinions as to whether I should keep the last stanza or omit it. I am unsure at this point. Thank you.

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All the World’s a Stage

Last night the high school students showed their skills
as they played Dream upon Midsummer Night
upon their stage. They’d been put through their drills,
and it showed, too, as actors knew to gauge

the audience reactions. O, they learned
Elizabethan English that the Bard
composed in, and successfully they turned
a high school stage into a woods. They starred!

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Don’t watch. Wait, no, I know you have to count
the minutes so you know how long it lasts,
this seizure with its dynamite that blasts
my brain to temporary shreds. With gaunt

eyes, lost in fog now, I depend on you.
You may not know just what to do, but still,
I beg: Don’t let it drive my avenue.
Please, help to quiet down its voice so shrill.

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Another Challenge

How about terza rima? I like this form. It’s fun to write, and you can have as many stanzas as you choose.

The form is three-line stanzas, the first of which is with the rhyme scheme aba. Then the second stanza uses the “b” rhyme as its first and third end rhyme. So the entire rhyming scheme would look like this:

fgf…etc. for as many stanzas as you choose. Here is an example (this one has just three stanzas):

TV brought news of shootings once again.
Chicago, Littleton, and Sandy Hook
show violence visited by weaponed men.

Our Congressmen refuse to take a look
at serious issues, and to boldly stand
against what our strong Gabby Giffords took

in Tucson. Little children need a hand
to keep them safe. Who’ll step up, lead the charge?
Please, no more people with their heads in sand.


Sorry to be political, but it’s what occurred to me. I hope this gives you the idea of terza rima, and that you’ll submit, submit, submit.

There’s another example on my blog, Brainstorms: How Epilepsy and Writing Connect at maggiemendus.wordpress.com, if you should want to take a look. Its title is Age Twelve, and it has six stanzas.


Time for a New Challenge

I just discovered the huitain. It is a Spanish form that has eight lines, and each line has eight syllables. The rhyme scheme is ababbcbc.

To wit:

It snowed eight inches, snowed some more,
until our land was turned to white.
We couldn’t open up our door
because of winter’s active night.
Now sun shines on this lovely sight
and melts the snow to rivulets.
Has winter taken its last bite?
What do you think? Let’s make our bets!

OK, OK, so it’s not the best poem in the world, but at least it gives you an idea of how a huitain should go.

Let’s submit some more. I’d love to see what you can come up with.

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Little Treasures

I kept my mother’s furniture, some clothes,
last calendar with birthdays marked in bold
and anniversaries too. Her things, like gold,
are treasure to me, sweet as summer’s rose.

One item I still have you might think strange.
From her white hairbrush hair which still was brown,
a soft and precious memory from her crown,
I keep it in a box, will not exchange

it ever from its wooden handmade home.
I lift the lid and look, remember her,
and memories flood back. This makes me sure
I’ve chosen well. I wish I had her comb.


Cleaning House

Lung cancer claimed my father almost four
years back. My husband, brother, sis-is-law
and I then faced the agonizing, raw
job: Empty out the house. This, quite the chore,

as he had seven thousand records, books
too numerous to count, woodcuts and prints
and lithographs that numbered high. What hints
would help us in this cleaning of the nooks

and rooms where all of it was stored? My job?
His study. His large desk stood in the middle,
with all the papers in its drawers a riddle
I’d solve. Then, shelves and shelves, a crowded mob

of books, newspapers, magazines and more.
Upon the windowsill each reference book
stood tall and at the ready for his look.
A cabinet, like mini-Staples store,

held every kind of paper, clip, or glue,
yes, staplers, rulers, paper punch and ink,
in duplicate, so organized I think
that Office Depot could have shopped there too.

His bookcases held all his published works,
set carefully in alphabetic line.
I stood before them, thought of all the time
he spent composing. Literacy lurks.

This was my thought as I sat down. He wrote
for hours here in this very room where now
I sit alone without my teacher. How
will I thank him for his instruction?

to self: Say thank you when you can. You may
not have the opportunity again.
I learned this from my mother way back when,
but needed practice so I could obey.


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