Weekly photo challenge: Saturated

Some favorite photos dripping with color.


Windmill that was torn down

Windmill that was torn down



The windmill

in the south pasture

marked the corner

to turn north

for the farm place.

Deep breaths

of wind made

wide paddles whir,

scaffold tremble,

metal scream

against metal

as it roused

unstirred darkness.

As it leaned

against nothing.

Today, eyes sweep flat-line horizon. Nothing stands to shout: Turn here!

Not even a severed skeleton defies baked blue sky. So you drive on.


— Sojourn, Fall/Winter 2008

Weekly photo challenge: Unfocused


I usually delete all the unfocused photos I take, so it was a surprise to find this one still in my files. I must have enjoyed the soft fields of color. It will be interesting to see what others have done with this topic.

I feel rather unfocused today after attending my second daughter’s graduation from college on Friday and spending Saturday getting her all packed up and ready to drive off to South Carolina with her boyfriend today.

Just processing all the change we’ve just experienced — which means I’m drinking my second cup of coffee and parked myself on the sofa. Much to do. I will get to it. Soon.






From oh-so-long ago.

I wrote this poem 10 years ago, and it was published in the  The Providence Journal when it still had a Sunday poetry column. This is a blog post from about six years ago.

I don’t take many photos of myself, so I looked back in the “old photos” folder and pulled out this one, which inspired the poem below. 1967 must have been a very mild winter because this is Iowa in late January, and we were more often snowed in on my birthday.

That dilapidated shed in the background was our playhouse. The tree line behind me was Brady’s place, which was right off the highway. We lived on the gravel road. It was hard to ride your bike on, turned muddy and sloppy in the spring, and had to be plowed out in the winter.

The sweatshirt was maroon. I was in the fifth grade at Holy Name. I’m sure I got markers for Christmas or an art set because I liked to draw. I played the clarinet and piano (both badly). I had my head in a book almost all the time. At the time i was the fourth of six Meylor kids. One brother gone, one brother to come.

Found a Photo from Forty Years Ago

A girl stands outside in patchy snow.
Bird-bone arms pinned to sides,
hair like straw, cat-eye glasses,

Today’s her birthday.
There will be angel food cake
speckled with colors,
ten candles sinking in butter cream icing.

Behind her,
an exposed oak tree scratches blackboard sky,
a pig shed serves as a playhouse,
a mile of frozen earth borders a ditch
and two-lane blacktop.

The birthday girl smirks: Ten, one-zero.
She is a wizard in training,
charming endless acres of constancy
into forest, castle, jungle,
offering to the gods, a great journey.

Ten! Ten! Ten!
She thinks her adventure’s just begun.
She skips into the farmhouse,
neglecting a slipper,

trailing a few magic beans.

Weekly photo challenge: Family

My family gathering potatoes in Iowa circa 1950s

This is a photo of my mom and dad, uncle and grandmother and my older sisters and brother. It looks like they are gathering potatoes from my grandparents’ field at the end of the summer. I think I will be born the next January or maybe the next.

This photo reminds me of a painting that had always hung on the porch of our home in the country. It was called “The Gleaners,” and it showed peasants going through fields to pick the last of the grain.
I like the yellowed color of this photo, which was among all my dad’s slides. Obviously, this one was taken by my grandfather, who also liked to take photos (a trait handed down to me).

There is purpose in this photo as everyone — even the smallest toddler — helps in the field.

"The Gleaners" by Jean-François Millet

Uncle Dan’s Photo

Photo by Dan Meylor

This photo, by Dan Meylor, was the inspiration for the following poem, “Learning How to Paint Light.” Over the past five years or so, Dan has grown incredibly as a photographer. This black and white, which he took a few years ago, made me realize clearly how far he’d come as a photographer — and as a storyteller in photos.

The poem was a finalist in the 38th Annual Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest through the Midwest Writing Center in Davenport, IA, and is one of two poems of mine included in Off Channel 2011.


I like a painting that makes me want to stroll in it.

                                             Pierre-August Renoir

Learning How to Paint Light

For years
you’ve sent me photographs:
a man raking a labyrinth in beach sand at dawn,
a green hummingbird, a country church in Ireland,
a grandson singing.

you sent a black & white
of a woman strolling, from dark to light,
toward steps leading to a captured pyramid of sky
amid tangled skyscrapers.

They say when Monet first learned
how to paint light,
he had to reject tenets about sketching
before putting brush to canvas.

And Renoir loved a woman’s body
so much
that he blended tints
of pearled flesh for hours.

My hands hold
what you have learned:
How to stand back when her maddened wings seek stasis,
to let her wander in ever-widening gyres
from your green touch, her boy.

You said
we do what we must to live.
You loved a woman so much you learned
to blend light with flesh. Not to shape illusion,
but to help her find a way back
to a beach at dawn.