“Green as Bubbly Broccoli Tops”

Poetry Unleashing Rich Stories


NEA/Pinellas Recovers Grant Update

These are wonderful poems from Keep St Pete Lit writing class participants from the Gulfport Senior Center. For each class I brought in a different prompt.

We explored I Am Poems, Color Poems, Narrative Poems and List Poems – and the poems you see here are the result.

The course was called MY VERSE!  MY VOICE! “Have you wanted to write poetry but you’re not sure where to start? Pack a pen and a journal and join Sara Ries Dziekonski to unleash your rich stories and emotional landscapes and let them breathe in verse. To get your own writing juices flowing and try out some new writing tricks and techniques, participants will begin each session by sampling a buffet of poetic styles by different authors. Let’s celebrate the positive power of aging as you record the rhythm of your life that only YOU can write.”

I worked with a group of 5 women and they were all so engaged and supportive of each other. Everyone had such interesting observations and interpretations. Their poems explore aging, loss, family history, and so much more.

These women inspire me and I am so grateful to have shared this space with them for 4 weeks.

I hope you enjoy these poems as much as I do!

– Sara Ries Dziekonski, Keep St Pete Lit   


This is a collaborative Color Poem we created as a group. We decided on the color green and each woman wrote two creative images of that color on slips of paper. Then we arranged the slips of paper in a way that made the most interesting sequence for the poem. It was a lot of fun and we were pleased with the result.

“Creative tropical green leaves layout. Tropical palm background.” by Artem Beliaikin is marked with CC0 1.0.


Emerald eyes eager to engage
A green avocado
bursting with flavor
adding to my lunch
Gratefully grazing on green glass—
Why is green the color of jealousy?
What does that say of my green-brown eyes?
Emerald ring on my finger that my husband held,
kneeling on our balcony in Cali, Colombia
Faded carpet in the living room of my childhood home
Green as bubbly broccoli tops we are told to
eat for a long life
Green is the color of a slippery
. . .. . . . . . . . .  frog
jumping into swampy
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . slime.
Green is the color of jiggly lime jello
Envy slithering down her leg
in a green river of greed

the green stripes
of a curious parrotfish
against the dying coral
Green as new baby sprouts of spring to be
a background of jazzy bright flowers.
The breath of green valleys filling the
air with silent senses awakening
in spring’s promise.

“Fly” by angels_deserve_to_die2001 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I Am Not Invisible
By Alicia Merel 

I am not invisible
I wonder what you see when you look at me
I hear the wheels in your mind
Do you see teddy bears and unicorns?
I’m not that child any more.
I want to know, to feel, to understand
I want to be known, to be felt, to be understood
I am not invisible

I know that I’m chained to the earth
I am all creatures
We are the same
In my mind I am dancing.
Four legs, two legs, wings, fins
We all dance
The music fills my heart
Won’t you share my joy!
Can I touch you? Can you touch me?
I hope the music will never end
I am not invisible

I am flying
I feel the wind touch every part of my body
My thumb and finger reach out and grasp a cloud
It is damp; it cradles a storm in its midst.
I am the storm.
Too soon my flight will end.
It is getting dark
Tears streak my face
I can no longer see the cloud
Still. I
Still I am
I am not invisible

“Orange Peel Fungus” by Bernard Spragg is marked with CC0 1.0.

Movin’ On
By Alicia Merel

I need my orange pen
To write my story
Orange is the color of anger
Open-mouthed screams, fright
Angry pumpkins peeking out the windows
In October
But my story has a calm center
Still orange, a monarch butterfly,
Her wings beat back my fears
The past is the past
I see a plant
A bird of paradise in a green pot
On the windowsill,
Bathed in the glow of the sun
Supervised by a white cat with blue eyes
I will fill my kitchen windows
With green plants
Herbs that bring flavor, taste, healing
To the mind and body
I will continue my story
Writing with my purple pen
Purple as the lilacs in spring,
Purple as the single rose I cut from my garden
And displayed in a white bud vase
On my desk
My story has more colors
I can live beyond orange.

“Rose thorns” by DBduo Photography is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

I Am from the 20th Century
By Lucy Sage

I am from the 20th Century,
. . . From red-bricked home and lilac bushes.
I am from a backyard rose garden
. . . Beautiful, thorns and heaven scent.
I am from the Woods next door,
. . . Dark, scary and intriguing.
I am from strawberry-rhubarb pie,
. . . Sweet, sour and luscious.
I’m from mental illness and criticism
. . . From a wounded mother and hardworking father.
I’m from tense meals and overeating
. . . From Eat everything on your plate
. . . There are children starving in China.
I’m from silent anger and angst
. . . From Go to your room until you can be pleasant.
I’m from silent meetings for worship
. . . And a skeptic of Christian Religiosity.
I’m from wine, highballs and cigarette smoke
. . . From Chicklets gum and fruit stands,
. . . From Bridge tournaments, auctions and Sunday drives.

I am from the 20th Century.

“Peach [1]” by Яick Harris is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Mixing Colors
By Lucy Sage

Add red roses to the sky,
You have plums.

Add sludge from sugar farming to the Lake,
You have lots of dead fish.

Add dead fish to the Gulf,
You have green ooze.

Add red tide to the Beach,
You have a tickle in your throat.

Add daffodils to cardinals,
You have peaches.

“It’s a red day today #socks” by Sirsnapsalot is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By Virginia Fox                       

Screaming “read me now,” family texts swamp mindless messages
“Wear red tomorrow! Colby having surgery”
“Wear red, Langlee’s performing”
Family speaks, family listens
Red’s seeding a family tree

A crayon box of one luck color

Shock of red wine escaping my lips
Bullseye landing white silk blouse
Outing the heated night I hoped to hide

Red rage bruising cheeks
SUV bumper up my car’s ass
Middle finger
Flipping red polish response

Caring hands caressing mother’s brows
A soft body doll big as a pea in bedded nest
Red satin pillows framing luminescent curls
104 yr old child cuddling red fleece blankie
Heavenly arms awaiting her entrance

“Wear red, I’ve got an interview”
“Wear red undies. My final exams.”

Siren’s wail flashing red lights get outta my way
Students screams silenced by shots
Gun stains forever red
Painting playground where children play

Weathered face paying price for sun’s overdose
Cringing in ruby blush wishing to take back
Comments that didn’t have to be said

Good luck long stems
Ballroom of roses scattering wedding bouquet
Singles hands begging to catch
“Me! Me! Over here”
Red silk bikini ‘neath a sheath of crystal beads

Horizon’s hurrah
Dancing day’s finale
Ruby orb romancing splattered hues on fire
Unleashed brushstrokes
Silencing cloudburst skies offstage

Symphony’s ending
Beginnings promise
Reign of red

“Wear red, It’s moving day:”
“Wear red, Biopsy.”
“Wear red”  “Wear red”
. . . . . . . .“WEAR
. . . . . . . . . . . .  RED !”

A life box of one color crayons

“Bokeh Photo of Hanging Light Bulb with Glowing Electric Wire” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By Virginia Fox                      

I am rainbows and rocky rivers
I am not princesses and pearls

I am seeds of sunflowers
Acorns of budding branches
Rays of sun’s pulse
Raging storms and muddy puddles

I am from strength and independence
Suffocating in shy and sedentary

The hush of a lullabye
Cacophony of unspoken fears

I am raindrops of tears shed for silenced voices
Hot coffee for homeless
Hurt huddled in doorways

I am the face of 50’s
Gripping coattails of flashy memories
Determination driving new chapters
Fighting unstoppable clocks

I am an electric bulb
Refusing to dim
A wind up doll
Hiding my switch

I am bred of inclusion
Not judgment’s disgrace
Human hugs
Unlocking shackles

I am a cat that purrs, the dog that bites
A fighter for rights
Quiet bullhorn for peace

A charging horse tamed over time
Bottled breath waiting to exhale

I am confidence in costumes
Feathered masks slashing fears
Blending intolerant

Cocktail of rainbow confetti
A party ready to perk

Surrendering to the jungle of my Gemini landscape
I am ME.
Finding My Way.

“Two Women and Child” by mikecogh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

I am from…

By Dayna Foster

I am from two women.
Born from the womb of one
And in the heart of another.
I am from Margie and Jean.

I am from two men.
One not named
And one named.
I am from _____ and Bill

I am from weak coffee achingly sweet.
I am from extra dry beefeaters martini with two olives.
I am from cornbread in buttermilk.
I am from sugar on cottage cheese.

I am from a place I’ve never lived
But hope to visit some day.
I am from a place I grew up
And will never live again.
I am from Rocky Mount and South Charleston.

“Christmas ribbons and palm trees” by quinn.anya is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Gray Cat

By Dayna Foster

He passes the gray cat in the window
Apparently snoozing eyes closed.
Christmas is near.
The price is $20!
Not today.

He passes the gray cat in the window
Awake now green eyes glowing.
Christmas is near.
The price is $15.
Not today.

He passes the gray cat in the window
Sitting in a small chair.
Christmas is near.
The price is $10.
Not today.

He passes the gray cat in the window
Wearing a red bow.
Christmas Eve.
Still $10.

He enters the shop
“How much will you take?”
“Ten dollars.”
“It’s Christmas Eve. It’s my daughter’s first Christmas.”
“Five dollars.”

He passes the empty window
And smiles.

“Heart in sand on beach” by arnybo is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Signs
By Lilysparrow

On Tuesday that dreadful text message appears.
Fu…k !!! not again!  22 years and there’s still a monkey on my back.
Foreboding tremors flood every cell of my body, shaking my peace of mind, causing instant anxiety.
All week more desperate texts slither in and nest in my stomach.
Body pain, heartburn, and nausea squat in my body like unwanted inhabitants.
On Thursday, my desperate daughter again begs for money…. like an addict.
Later, avoiding a fight, we just bid each other good night and sweet dreams.
The pounding stress! My anger!  That girl’s going to give me a heart attack!

A new day, TGIF.  Thank God it’s Friday… not really.
Chest pains squeeze like a huge boa constrictor and tighten like a mummy’s funeral wrappings.
Heed the warnings.
In the doctor’s office, EKG wires read my heart rhythms.
Then…. the unexpected good news: no sign of problems.

Strangely enough that night the symptoms subside and texts disappear.
Saturday swaddles me in a cocoon of peace.

But on Sunday night, pain splinters my heart like an earthquake.
Buried, bruised and beaten,
I scream, sob, and cry for help.
My daughter’s dead…of an overdose… on Friday night.
Aftershocks rumble. I can barely breathe.

Soon gentle, comforting hands lift me. Love flows over me.
Around me bouquets of fragrant flowers,
lilies, roses, and carnations perfume the room.
Baby’s breath brushes my cheek.
Sympathetic messages console.  More flowers flood in.

But soon it’s cloying!  smothering!  I’m drowning!
I can’t stay in this house. I have to leave now.

Alone on the beach……
In the wide expanse of endless sky and sparkling sea,
the salty air, warm sunshine, and lapping waves soothe my soul.

But still I want a sign from heaven.
And then I see it!!!

Inside a heart, carved in the wet sand,
the sign, the message:
“I love my mom.”

“Crabapple buds” by marissabracke is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By Lilysparrow

Pink silently spreads with the sunrise.
whispers secrets in the ears of shells,
shines iridescent in rain puddles
and coats curves of bubbles and pearls.

Innocent Pink glows from my baby girl’s skin:
pink toes, fingers and cheeks.
She’s a tiny pink rose bud,
nestled cozy, in blankets and sheets.

Sweet Pink tastes yummy:
strawberry milkshakes, salt-water taffy,
sticky Bazooka bubble gum,
spun cotton candy, and chilled pink lemonade:
all tempting delights, so deliciously savored
on pink salivating tongues.

Girly Pink wears toe shoes and tutus, barrettes and bows,
and shines brightly on fingernails and pretty toes.

Pink blushes the cheeks of a young girl in love.
Pink is Red’s shy sister, who peers out from Valentine hearts,
and prints lipstick kisses on envelope flaps.

Pink is Hope that believes prayers are answered in time.
Pink surrounds the wishes that make dreams come true,
and Pink brings excitement to all things new.

Pink paints the peonies, cherry, blossoms,
hydrangeas, petunias, and more;
Pink shades feathers of flamingos and roseate spoonbills,
standing stiff-legged on sandy shores.

At twilight, Pink shines in the sunset.
Pink’s the dust before dreams in midnight’s mist
and the sweet brush on the lips of a good night kiss.




Keep St. Pete Lit is a recipient of the Pinellas Recovers Grant,
provided by Creative Pinellas through a grant from the
National Endowment of the Arts American Rescue Plan.

“Pen and Paper” by Guudmorning! is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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