The Gift

She was gifted / like a piece of clothing

a favor /  worn and tossed

a debt paid / mended

by caregivers without love / raised and lowered

to fulfill an obligation/ a hemline, inconsequential,

no more dreaming / she existed and cried for her childhood gone

life without meaning/ her tears fell to the ground

smothered joy /  and vanished


This is a cleave poem in response to the Secret Keeper’s Weekly Writing Prompt #42,

using these words: Meaning/Raise/Cry/Dream/Ground

I was inspired , if that is the word, by this recent story. And by all of the women and children throughout time who have been kidnapped, enslaved, trafficked, considered spoils of war, or “gifted” to others.



The Gown

It sat in the attic for years/ she unwrapped the box, anticipating

fabric, now ivory-yellow, and elastic crunchy with age / the gown

her mother had helped her choose it/ known from photographs

she had felt like a Renaissance lady/ slightly off-kilter

memories of a day long ago/ thoughts of the day to come

I give you my love, he said/  waiting for the moment

a vow made/ love ever after

for a man and a woman/ a daughter, now a wife

Love is love/ Love is love


Brides and sisters


Marian Beaman of Plain and Fancy Girl wrote about a dress she had with a secret. You can read about it here. She challenged me to use the word “dress” as a writing prompt. I took the challenge, changed dress to gown, and wrote a cleave poem. Each side is a separate poem, and read together, there’s a third poem. My older daughter wore what had been my wedding gown when she married her wife almost two years ago. It’s now “our gown.” On their wedding days, both daughters wore the same necklace I wore when I got married.

The Messages

JTF Guantanamo Sailor Sends a Message in a Bottle

After tossing several messages in bottles out to sea over the years as an outlet for his thoughts and feelings, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Delacruz received a response. Delacruz, a culinary specialist at Joint Task Force Guantanamo, shared his experience with this method of communication, Dec. 1.


I am lost/ Where are you, cast away by currents?

alone, washed ashore/ After the ship sank

carried by the waves/  I searched for you

this island is not placid/ amid the debris

detritus mars the beach/ ethereal flakes of life floating

among the meandering silver fish/ glinting in the sunlight

in water, salty as my tears as I cry for you/ sending a message, of hope?

please find me / Do not forget me, love

© Merril D. Smith 2016


This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge.  This week the challenge was the photograph above and/or these words: ethereal, placid, meander, forget, silver. I wrote a cleave poem. Each side is a complete poem, but the full lines read together also make a poem. So, three poems in all.

Immutable Tears



A god deposed /  do the tears flow from your eyes?

Head resting on the ground / sorrow at our parting?

No more adoration/  the heat of passion is now cool indifference, but

Feeling sadness for what will never be/ feeling sadness for what was

Your perspective has changed / you head toward the distant horizon, considering

You look toward clouds charcoal-hued/ stormy-browed

Like dark feathers stealing across the sky / full of thunder

And cry immutable tears/ without hope


This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge. This week Jane asked us to use the charcoal drawing above (“Tears” by Odilon Redon) and all or some of these words: tears, horizon, fly, hue, stealing. I wrote a cleave poem: each side is a discrete poem, but the two sides can also be read together–so three poems in all.






NaPoWriMo: Unearthered


They sailed the seas/ as we awoke

a thousand years ago/ from dreams of glory

ships small, but sturdy/ voyagers in life’s adventures

traveling miles to worlds unknown/traveling years through time

sagas told and retold/ until reality intruded

plunder and discovery/ sadness and grief

vanished lives /with tears long gone now

almost erased/ buried in the past

waiting to be rediscovered / their tracks leaving traces still


Another cleave poem based on archeology (sparked by this article)  because I’m fascinated by uncovering the past and  because the past is open to multiple interpretations, isn’t it?

Thank you, Jane Dougherty for introducing me to this poetry form.

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 3