Saturday, January 30, 2021

2 light-hearted nature poems in Feb. issue of YCN


Dancing Trees

By Janet Sobczyk, 2021

lined up 
like chorus girls 
not high-kicking 
but swaying in time 
to the winds of the storm 
snow swirling ’round them 
dusting, clumping on branches 
in unison they bend to the right 
forced to bow by a gust 
straighten up 
nod to their audience 
watching from the window.

Stinkbug in the House
By Janet Sobczyk, 2021

Slow and deliberate 
might buzz off quickly 
but crawls for now 
balancing angular body 
on delicate legs 
wanders close for a look at me 
then turns and creeps away 
the dog ignores it 
tried eating one once 
expected it to be 
as delicious as cicadas 
spit it out 
shook head in disgust 
took one more sniff 
then backed away 
still remembers that scent 
no longer is alarmed 
knows I’ll take it outside 
only to find another, later 
or is it the same one? 
keeps getting thrown out in the cold 
finds its way back inside 
feasts on houseplants 
blends in with woodwork 
ventures near the human 
oops! too close 
captured in a tissue 
back outside again. 

Note: 2020 was a bountiful year for stinkbugs because, due to the weather, 
they had two growth seasons instead of the typical one.

Click here to view Your Country Neighbor Feb. 2021 issue

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Poem about Monica published in Jan. 2021 YCN.

If You Believe, You Can!

By Janet Sobczyk, 2020

She believed she could tie her shoes 

didn’t know she was “handicapped” 

fine-motor-skills challenged 

didn’t know that many children 

with Down syndrome 

wear slip-ons or shoes with Velcro 

their whole lives 

she was determined 

would twirl and twist laces 

worn thin, we’d replace ‘em 

she kept trying 

we kept encouraging 

she’d master the first loop 

then get stuck 

master the second loop 

get stuck again 

year after year 

she practiced, focused 

and one day… she did it! 

not once but over and over 



she’d bring the shoes to us 

show her success 

want them unknotted 

to begin again 

time after time 

‘til muscle memory stuck 

proud and happy 

she knew she could do it!

Note: The photo wasn't submitted to Your Country Neighbor, but I wanted to post this pic here of my daughter when she was in the early years of struggling with her laces. She was so tiny and trying hard to mimic the skills of others. I wasn't sure if she'd ever be able to do it. But she believed she could!

Click here to see the January issue of Your Country Neighbor

Friday, January 1, 2021

A bit of prose published in Dec. issue of YCN

 Without a Phone

By Janet Sobczyk, 2020

As I backed my car out of the driveway, I realized my cell phone was left charging on the kitchen counter. I stopped, preparing to dash in for it. Then paused, thinking “Why? I can go shopping without it.” 

Confidently, I continued to back up. Then, braked. 

The “what-if’s” took over my mind. What if I get in an accident? What if I see an item that I want to ask my friend’s opinion about? (It’s fun and helpful to take her shopping via photo texts.) What if I’m running late to pick up my daughter from school? What if, what if, what if!! 

Impetuously, I brushed aside the doubts and left without my phone. Some would call that foolish. I call it a flashback to the 80’s. 

On the drive to the store my mind wandered back in time. Before cells, I’d head out the door with less expectation that something would go wrong. I had less fear of distracted drivers. I noticed acquaintances at the store that I now miss while checking my screen for texts. I spent more time in face-to-face interaction with actual conversation, not just cute tweets. 

Back then my watch informed the time, and didn’t make noises to grab attention. I could lose track of time and be more fully in the moment. I took in more of the world around me. 

I smiled thinking back to those “good old days” when we had it made with modern conveniences and a little bit of technology. It was cool to have electric curling irons that enabled those big hairstyles, and we weren’t yet obsessed with selfies. Capturing events on film or Polaroids seemed good enough. 

I parked near the shopping carts and grabbed one on my way into the store, thinking about how the way we pay has changed so much. Writing checks and carrying cash used to be common. Now all we need is a card to shop in person or online. Good thing I had my wallet in my purse and didn’t need my phone to pay. Some people now have phone apps to pay, but I don’t. That’s where I draw the line (for now). 

Walking into the store I reached for the sale flyer, flipped through it quickly and realized there wasn’t even one coupon to clip. And this store has discontinued their “rewards card” program which gave the sale prices. A mini rewards card dangled uselessly on my keyring. I looked up thinking, “The sales probably ring up automatically at the register.” Then I spied the kiosk near the entrance. Scan these specials with your phone to get our great deals today! 

I turned on a dime and headed home for my phone.

The pic above was taken long before cell phones. Check out my 1980 hair which defied gravity. That took time, a good curling iron, and lots of hairspray! 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

"Puzzling" dedicated to my brother

By Janet Sobczyk, 2020
Dedicated to Jon Blide, 1968-2020

Jigsaw puzzles can be reassuring.
They start as a jumbled mess
but when the last piece is in place
are beautiful and whole.
Much like our own lives
messy, confusing
slow to come together
 beauty concealed
until all is revealed at the end.
Now, after a sudden loss,
the puzzle of that person’s life and death
brings us pain, not peace
confusion instead of consolation
shock halts thinking
can’t make sense of the pieces.

Try to sort them out
only a few on the edge
line up.
What about the rest?
Time passes
waiting is rewarded with another piece
more waiting
another piece
we want them all
but time is stingy with pieces. 

When everything has been said
and done
only then will we see
we don’t have all the pieces.
We need it all to fit
we want all the answers!
Do we keep searching for pieces
or let go and wait for them to come?
It’s our choice…
regret the gaps or
find the beauty in the partial picture of a loved one's life.

Friday, December 4, 2020

"Waiting for Snow" published in Dec. issue of YCN


Waiting for Snow

By Janet Sobczyk, 2020

The photo is by editor Stephen Hassler and appears with my poem in Your Country Neighbor. I like his choice of snow geese to pair with my snow poem.

I wrote the Adulthood side of the poem first, thinking about how much I dread winter with its cold and dangerous roads. I try not to let it, but the dread starts to set in at the end of summer and somewhat ruins autumn for me. Then I started thinking about how differently I viewed snow as a child, and the other half of the poem poured out quickly, providing much-needed balance. 

To view the entire Dec. issue, click here: Your Country Neighbor

Saturday, November 7, 2020

"Treatless" published in Nov. 20 YCN

by Janet Sobczyk, 2020

        Deep in the night I had a dream 
        Woke with a jolt feeling green 
        What does it mean? 

        It was barely dusk on Halloween 
        Too early for the typical teen 
        Deep in the night I had a dream 

        Moms with princess tots waited like queens 
        On front porch undecorated but clean 
        What does it mean? 

        I searched for treats… a tangerine? 
        Half-eaten bunny or stale jelly beans? 
        Deep in the night I had a dream 

        Not much to offer or redeem 
        Cupboard to cupboard, I wanted to scream! 
        What does it mean? 

        I deserved the guillotine 
        Couldn’t the Great Pumpkin intervene? 
        Deep in the night I had a dream 
        But what does it mean?

This was actually a dream I had shortly before Halloween.
It seemed like a good topic to try a villanelle poem format.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Poetry Book Review

This wonderful little book left me in awe!

It was published in 2004 by Helen Frost, a talented poet whose poems are "deceptively casual" according to an online review of her work. So true!!

This book contains poems written in the voices of fictional students in a 5th grade class with a fictional teacher. The people are composites of characters Frost encountered through years as a teacher. The scenarios and trials of the students resonate with my own teacher heart. A quick first read of this "novel in poems from Room 214" was enjoyable, and left me content with the story and voices of the children.  

At the end I was completely satisfied, but then I read the "Notes on Forms" at the back. I could have easily skipped it, but reading it changed my whole impression of this small book.

In my eyes it became a huge accomplishment when I understood that Frost used 22 different poem forms. Twenty-two!! At first glance the poems appear simple, but the Notes explain each form, and leave the reader intrigued to try them. 

Shortly before reading this book I tried creating a villanelle, ghazal, and sonnet with a poetry group. It felt like a major victory to finish them, so I can appreciate the challenge of following strict formats. 

The one that blew my mind was her Crown of Sonnets titled, "It's Hard to Fit In." According to her Notes, a crown is a "set of seven Italian sonnets, linked through repeated lines. The last line of one sonnet is the first line of the next (sometimes with minor variations), and the last line of the last sonnet circles back to the first line of the first sonnet." I had a hard time writing one sonnet poorly, and Frost created seven that fit perfectly together! Mind-blowing! Such a gift!

There's one other reason I'm glad to have read the notes... it pointed out that many of the poems were acrostics, which I had failed to notice. I thumbed through the book again to find them and read with delight all the hidden messages. Such fun!

I highly encourage poetry lovers to check out her website and this detailed interview and Blog review by Michelle Barnes.  Enjoy!