August Postcard Poetry Fest

In 2007 I participated in the first August Postcard Poetry Fest, organized by Lana Hechtman Ayers and Paul E. Nelson. What follows are all the poems I sent to participants, the recipient’s names and locations (as of 2007), plus other occasional notes. In some cases I sent two poems. I received poetry postcards from 26 of the 30 other people on the same list as me (including two poems from one poet), and still have them in a box—the postcards, that is, not the poets. I imagine the four missing postcards are stuck behind a sorting machine in Toledo or Umatilla, to be discovered some distant day by a postal archaeologist. Here, though, you can read the poems I sent (just 30 instead of 31, since I myself was one of the 31 poets for the month of August). Some of them have been published, as indicated. I’m unlikely to publish any of the rest of these poems, so I’m sharing them here. The poems include mostly haiku and tanka, but also some longer poems that still fit on a postcard, plus a few anagrams. In some cases, as I recall, the poems were inspired by the postcard image, but I have no record of any of the postcards themselves. Gone with the postal wind!

For me, this exercise is a spur to creativity and connection. Its goal is not to produce fine poems, but to trust spontaneity in response to a postcard, one’s own sense of place, or the person receiving the poem. Many poems are acts of play, and perhaps nothing more. As such, the August Postcard Poetry Fest honours process over product, and it’s a pleasure to know that the recipients mentioned below each received a postcard I sent, and spent a moment reading what I wrote. I too enjoyed reading what I received, not just for the value of the poetry but for the value of personal interaction (often with strangers) and as a shared celebration of poetic expression.

In 2017, to mark the fest’s tenth anniversary, Ina Roy-Faderman, Paul E. Nelson, and J. I. Kleinberg published 56 Days of August (available on Amazon), collecting poems from the 2016 postcard fest. The August Postcard Poetry Fest continues to be held every year. Visit the website for more details, or visit the Facebook page (in fact, it was an invitation to join this page in 2007 that prompted me to join Facebook in the first place). Perhaps you might participate in the August Postcard Poetry Fest one year yourself.



the eye of my webcam

keeps staring at me

Sent to Lana Hechtman Ayers, Kirkland, Washington


rain falls

at their 60th high school reunion—

old friends apologize

for forgetting

each other’s birthdays

Sent to Kim Bridgford, Wallingford, Connecticut


drifting, drifting

over the center line,

the tennis ball truck

Sent to Holly Anderson, Jackson Heights, New York

I confess that this poem mystifies me today, but might make more sense if I could remember the image on the front of the postcard


breaking the tension

beside the water-strider,

your acorn cap

Sent to Janet McCann, College Station, Texas


finding them by touch

under the paisley couch . . .

newborn kittens

Sent to Pit Pinegar, Plainville, Connecticut


I take the knife in my hand,

wish I could undo

the breaking of the licked seal

on that letter I wish

you’d never written,

wish I could mail it back,

return to sender,

let you keep the dark ink

on those once-wet pages,

let you think I didn’t care,

didn’t know how

to use this knife.

Sent to Brendan McBreen, Auburn, Washington


Yes, that’s me,

with the yellow eyes,

in the corner,

staring at you

reading this postcard.

Sent to Robin Cherney, Redmond, Washington

I found it hard to resist being self-referential regarding all the postcards I sent


red dragonflies

on the Bible


Sent to Raul Sanchez, Seattle, Washington


why did she mail it,

this French postcard

from the past,

from a time when we

were not yet lovers

Sent to Brent Allard, Manchester, New Hampshire

This poem was published in Skylark 3:2, Winter 2015 (England)


for your eyes only,

she says with a shy nod—

I think about this

then raise a hand to caress

her remaining breast

Sent to Lois P. Jones, Glendale, California

This poem was published in Gusts #26, Fall/Winter 2017 (Canada); the original said “surreptitious” instead of “shy”


faint cirrus clouds—

a shiny penny

still on the train tracks


on the just

and unjust

the sun shines

just so

Sent to Peggy Miller, The Villages, Florida

Two poems sent


blowing leaves—

for once I let them go

into the neighbour’s yard

Sent to Iris Dunkle, Washington, D.C.


collapsed freeway—

genders and crosses

painted onto concrete

Sent to Jessea Perry, Oakland, California

Because the recipient lived in Oakland, I thought about the Cypress freeway structure that collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, killing 42 people—it was sobering for me to visit the collapsed freeway shortly after surviving the earthquake myself + +


what’s left

of our sailboat’s



in the freighter’s


Sent to Marit Saltrones, Bainbridge Island, Washington

This poem was published in American Tanka #25, June 2015


lord of car

floor card

coral ford

rod or calf

old for car


my bumbershoot is made of rice

rice is made of pythons

pythons are made of trivia

trivia is made of pulleys

pulleys are made of marmalade

marmalade is made

Sent to Carol Dorf, Berkeley, California

Two poems sent; each line of the first poem is an anagram of the recipient’s name


trial by trail

doom by mood

die by dei

Sent to Jennifer Flescher, Arlington, Massachusetts

A variation on anagrams here













Sent to Paul E. Nelson, Auburn, Washington








Sent to David-Baptiste Chirot, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


my muse returned

from vacation today,

leaving me

dormant seeds—

I water them with this ink

Sent to John Davis, Bainbridge Island, Washington


no thing in nothing

nothing in no thing


hinting night noon

ninth hinting goon


toning, thinning, oh

hinting, nothing on

Sent to Rochelle Nameroff, El Cerrito, California



auk piñata chi

aha, I pick a nut!

ha, a pain! I tuck . . .

I huck paint—aa!

a nick-it-up aha

I, a kaput chain

Captain Haiku

Sent to Frances LeMoine, Nashua, New Hampshire

Anagrams of my own nickname, Captain Haiku + + +


rusted spurs

hang from a rotting rafter

foreclosed farm

Sent to Tara Betts, Pearl River, New York


reading it first at the mailbox—

the colourful postcard

with a foreign stamp

Sent to Valerie Fetherston, Victoria, British Columbia

This was the first of two names on my list that required more than a domestic U.S. postcard stamp, since I was mailing it to Canada, which inspired the poem—either that or receiving a postcard from Canada


Difficult News

a stamp licked

for the poetry postcard—

all the news that fits,

yet people die every day

for lack of what’s there

Sent to Jenifer Lawrence, Poulsbo, Washington


folding laundry—

a wad of what’s left

of her love note

Sent to A. K. Allin, Seattle, Washington


Tanabata festival—

forbidden lovers meet

at the Japanese garden

Sent to Julene Tripp Weaver, Seattle, Washington


Teck Cominco Anagrams

Mike, concoct!

Neck to comic,

met cock icon—

mock conceit!

Sent to Linda Lee Crosfield, Castlegar, British Columbia

In the summer of 1984 I had tour of the Cominco mining facility in Castlegar, the home of this poem’s recipient, which inspired these anagrams


baseball record book—

a black boy asks his grandfather

why his name has an asterisk

Sent to Ruby Kane and Ami Eaton, Seattle, Washington


the roar

of motorcycles

down the nearby freeway . . .

I ponder my grass

in need of a mow

Sent to Mathew Timmons, Los Angeles, California


Explaining Everything

If the universe

is infinite in all directions,

then the center could here,

even in the middle of me,

or anywhere.

My teenager thinks he

is the center of the universe,

and maybe, just maybe,

he’s right.

Sent to John and Roberta Olson, Seattle, Washington

When I wrote this poem, my son was just four years old, so not yet a teenager