Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Rhyming Poetry Challenge

A friend wished me
Happy Hanukkah
and joked that the reason
there are so few Hanukkah songs
is that nothing rhymes with "menorah."

She's right. But I couldn't resist the challenge.

Hanukkah means bupkas
A blip in the Torah.

If it weren't for Christmas
We might just ignorah.

So spin that dreidel
Light that menorah.

Eat latkas and chocolate
And dance the horah.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Rules for Snow

You are a snowflake, thinking of visiting my city.

Here are The Rules for Snow.

1. No significant snow before December 24.

2. Light flaking that melts on contact is permissible.

3. Snow may fall from December 24 to December 26 only. This is your big opportunity. Have at it.

4. All snow must melt by December 27.

5. For the new year, see Rule #1.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Recipe for Octo-BOO!

Combine a little leaf magic

one magic leaf dog

and a little spooky stuff

Monday, September 23, 2019

Signs of the Times

Happy Equinox!

A nearby synagogue often catches my eye

with its witty billboards.

Back in January 2015 the sign read

Je Suis Charlie

Ani Charlie

During our rainy July it read

I'll change the sign

as soon as it

stops raining

Now just before Jewish New Year it reads

Rosh Hoshana will start soon.

What will you have to SHOFAR it?

Now that's effective advertising!


Stevie Wonder sings in "As"

 "the seasons know exactly when to change."

The temperatures may still be summery (not that I'm complaining)

but this tree is showing its true colours

exactly on schedule.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Is it the flu or a cold?

That's what I've been pondering for the last few days. I think I've decided it's a cold.

Here's a comparative list of symptoms:


Whatever it is, I'm keeping my distance from M. One sick person at a time per household:  that's the rule!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Mystery Man

I wrote a version of this villanelle in 1999, and revised it in 2009.

It seems right to repost it, in anticipation of July 20, 2019, the 50th anniversary.

Mystery Man
One small step can seem like almost nothing,
a quarter million miles for three to fly,
as we held our breaths to watch that first landing.
Four billion hopes--a planet's wondering
reflected in the mirror in the sky--
is one small step away from almost nothing.
Buzz followed you, while Mike was orbiting.
How could your tiny step not make us cry
as we breathlessly watched that first landing?
The media frenzy you found stifling,
a leap to fame that you would soon decry.
One small step can seem like almost nothing.
Who is this man? The press is suffocating.
Cocooned within your silence you just sigh,
and hope news will eclipse the first landing.
Mystery Man, no moon songs do you sing.
Can astronauts be brave, but also shy?
One small step that changes everything
at once. We exhale, hope for safe landing.
Copyright  2014 by Barbara Etlin, all rights reserved.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Fog, a new haiku


steady white smoke puffs
now you see it, now you don't--
Golden Gate magic

Copyright 2019, Barbara Etlin, all rights reserved

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Hang in there!

This is something I've needed to remind myself of lately. I think it's good advice for most of us.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Fortune Cookie Romance

M and I had known each other for four months when my parents and brother met him for the second time. We went out to our favourite Chinese restaurant.

M received this fortune, which he showed to me and hid from my family:

"You will marry your present lover and be very happy."

We both giggled. I blushed. He refused to show it to the others.

Years later, M and I were engaged. The wedding was a month away. We went out to another Chinese restaurant for dinner. M received the same fortune:

"You will marry your present lover and be very happy."

A week before the wedding we were back at the second restaurant. We both received the same fortune, which read:

"Music, flowers, gifts, and invitations will soon be yours."

I swear I didn't bribe the waiters to bring special cookies!

Well, M, you did marry me, exactly 26 years ago today!

As for your happiness? So far, so good...

Happy 26th Anniversary!

Friday, May 17, 2019

My Best Review

My mother left this message on my telephone answering machine.

I listened to it frequently for three and half years before it was accidentally erased. By then I had memorized it. I'm sure it's the best review I'll ever receive.

"It's just past 8 o'clock and you're probably out for dinner, but I just wanted to let you know I've been reading your book that you wrote and I'm just thrilled!

"I'm only up to page [pause while she checks] 68, but your description and imagination are amazing!

"I'll talk to you later, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm reading it and enjoying it so much."

Monday, May 13, 2019

Happy Birthday To Ya, Stevie!

Stevie Wonder
is 69 today!

"Apple of My Eye" is an original digital painting by Kevin Slattery.
It has a place of honour on my office wall beside
Kevin's painting of Bob Dylan.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Tulips on My Terrace Make Me Happy

Yah! It's Tulip Season!

I hope these make you smile, too.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Wedding Belle's Booze, an original poem

This is a poem I wrote for Janet Reid's flash fiction contest,
for which the theme was:

"If I'd had pearls, I would have been clutching them."

Wedding Belle's Booze

Wedding guests are rich, old, and boozy.
Marooned with the singles, so I can't be choosy.

A long open bar with a miniscule dinner.
We're all drunk and hungry. We've almost become thinner. 

The best man's toast is more of a roast.
"May your genitalia never fail ya."

My neighbour, a charming elderly lady,
finds one word obscure. It seems almost shady.

"Dear, what's 'genitalia'?" she said, and I want to drop dead.
But I smile and I shrug and feign ignorance instead.

Copyright 2019, Barbara Etlin, all rights reserved

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Shakespeare, SCBWI, and My Mother

First, Happy Fifth Book Anniversary to my book of humorous poetry,


Okay, you're asking what does Shakespeare have to do with SCBWI? To the best of my knowledge he never joined it. He never even applied for a Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award. (Being over 400 years old, he would have qualified.)

In October 2002, I went to a Toronto SCBWI meeting held in the beautiful art gallery owned by an illustrator who was a member. But the gallery owner and I were the only ones who showed up! Apparently, the date had changed and no one told us.

Before we realized that no one else was coming, I tried to make small talk with Hashem.

"My mother is an artist," I said, filling in the silence.

"Oh, really? She should bring in her portfolio. Maybe I'll show her paintings here."

She didn't have a portfolio. I asked my artist-friend, Angela, how to make an artist's portfolio, and followed her instructions. Then I brought in the portfolio.

In December 2002, my 85-year-old
mother had her first and only solo art gallery show!

The show was named after her painting (shown above), which I named

Imitate the Sun.

I was inspired by this passage from Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One.

Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Stevie Wonder and MLK Day

Stevie Wonder

played an important role 

in getting

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday

recognized as an

American national holiday.