Poem Portal #40: How Can I Help You?

This song is from me the very mature teenager to my youngest sister. To read this now, you’d think I was in my forties struggling to see across the generation gap. But I was something like seventeen or eighteen years old, and my sister was ten or eleven.

My youngest sister was very social in school and went through a phase of being a bit lethargic with all her friends out of town during the summer holidays. Or so we assumed was the cause of her summer blues. My parents were a little paranoid about depression (history of it on both sides of the family) and I do remember hearing them talk about whether or not their youngest daughter needed anti-depressants. She didn’t, but just having that thought in my brain at the time might be one of the reasons this song is so dramatic.

My sister works at a bank now. She just got engaged and she’s considering a honeymoon in England. She is very happy. Here’s what her worry wart big sister wrote about her many years ago.



Chorus: How can I help you?

What can I do?

I don’t wanna leave you feeling so blue.

But your life is younger and I don’t know if I can

Understand how you suffer.

Verse: I know that sorrow can come without cause,

’Cause sorrow is forceful and follows no laws,

Who am I to say that you cry for no reason?

I just can’t know why.

Verse: Is it something that my words can change?

Or is it a battle that’s out of my range?

I can’t just stand by, feeling so helpless,

Yet maybe that’s all I can do.

Verse: My head’s in the clouds and they fog up my sight,

Can’t see how you struggle every day and night,

Someday you’ll join me up here where it’s safer,

But now you are stranded below.

Verse: I can speculate and analyze,

Explain your feelings with logic and lies,

But am I powerless to know what is real?

I just can’t reach you.

Verse: I live a life that revolves around me,

Selfish as any other person can be,

Will I start caring when it’s too late to help you?

Or is that already true?

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #39: Hoops

HoopsOkay, so raising kids clearly does not go hand in hand with up-to-date blogging. At least not for me. I would like to state for the record that I am continuing to write my novels at a reasonable pace. Whether my occasional attempt to keep my web presence on simmer is worth anything in the grand scheme of things, I honestly don’t know. Let’s say someday it does matter; I might as well get into the habit of carving out the time to do it. I’ve learned you can make time for things no matter how crazy your days get; you just have to be decisive about which things you’ll prioritize and which things you’ll dismiss with “maybe next time.” So here’s trying for blogging more often than last baby (I am pregnant with my third).

This poem is from the period between my high school graduation and my launch into the ECE field. I was discovering that I was a writer and that it would always be my true career whether or not it ever made me any money. A difficult thing to grapple with when you realize how good you had it as a kid and how hard money is in the grownup world. Because money felt like a mere means to support my writing, it became very frustrating to look ahead at potential years of university or college education which might eventually get me a fake ‘just for money’ career. The first reason I chose the ECE field (my love of young children being a close second) was to qualify myself quickly for a job I could start right away.

Hoops2Vancouver Career College offered me less than a year of jumping hoops before I’d get the life I wanted. Before that, my last year of high school and my failed attempt to commit to more than the Children’s Literature course in a semester at the University of Northern British Columbia all felt like hoops going nowhere. Hence, this poem:



The hoops are law until they are choice.

Out of high school. Where do I jump?

They used to say:

This one, then that one,

One unit, one test,

Through blue hula hoops,

Until the circus parade.

Rehearsals go on, but I want the show,

One part to play that I know I can do.

How many hoops leading only to more?

Talk of “safe” careers that kill my motives?




No promise of landing.

Know what I want, but my eyes flicker down

To check on my feet and the next hoop to jump.

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #38: Hire Me

So, in context, this poem is a little embarrassing to me now. I wrote it when I was seventeen, and the job I was trying to get was in fast food. Let me just say that when you’ve never earned money from someone other than your parents, there is a strange sort of thrill that exists for even that greasy, vat-scrubbing, meat-slopping kind of job. My first was at Arby’s. My second was Tim Horton’s; less grease, more sugar, but by then the change was not so exciting. I’ll never get passionate-poem urges over anything less than a dream job now. Such is my jaded age of thirty.

I’ve got resumes so nicely spaced and neatly printed,

Straight and narrow reputation completely undinted,

I’ll work minimum wage 50 hours a week,

I’ll work ungodly hours when you all wanna sleep,

I’m desperate and I’ll do whatever it takes,

Still you Can’t, Don’t, Not, Won’t want to hire me!

I am passionate in all I do and all I plan to,

Never slack off on ambition that I’ve set my mind to,

I’ll work up my time ’til I have none at all,

Nose-to-the-grindstone ’til I’ve scrubbed it raw

I’m desperate and I’ve gotta know why it is,

That you Can’t, Don’t, Not, Won’t want to hire me!

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #37: High Hopes

So guess what happened between my last post on April 3rd 2015 and now? I stopped being a writer, right? Disappeared off the face of the Earth? Lost all interest in sharing poetry with a handful of random passersby who were searching for something completely different when they stumbled across my website? Actually, not even that last one, no.

I had two kids. May 10th 2015 I became a mom. My second child is almost one now, and with my novels slowly getting written in some precious 10:00ish to 12:00ish me time each night, I have also got to thinking that my poem portal aka public diary is due for fresh attention. Being a megalomaniac (as most writers are), I am enjoying looking back on these for my own entertainment. So if you are another person reading this: bonus!

Picking up right where I left off over three years ago, this poem was written as a song: one of the most self-pitying songs in my planned musical. This musical of mine may or may not ever get fully written, but ideas for it have been an anomaly in my head for many years now. It’s a self-indulgent exploration of a new writer’s dream – she goes to a special place in her sleep to meet other writers from different walks of life. This is a sad, reflective moment for one of those frequent disappointments all writers face.

I don’t expect the world to need me, want me, even like me,

Never fooled myself with delusions and dreams,

I only begged the world to weave me into its pattern,

A single thread that wouldn’t matter, only to me,

In answer to my pleas

The world tightened its seams

Now there’s no room for any thread to make it through.

I’ll wander on for years while a few months slowly pass,

Survive every day in the hopes one will change,

Hiding behind false confidence, I’m always off-guard

A smile, nod, a single word sets my feet on clouds,

It’s a long way down,

And soon I know that I will fall,

But I’ll find the sky every time and fall down again.

On solid ground I’m safe from harm,

But inevitably,

Give me a pinch of rocket dust,

And the moon’s where I will be.

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #36: Higher Education

B&C LOGO (teal-purple)In the summer between my high school graduation and my first year at UNBC, I was working on my Alternate Animorph Ending, making mixed music cassettes, expanding my book collection and going on long walks to my favourite bookstore/café (Books & Company) to write. I remember thinking I would have to get every project of real importance done before September: my life as I knew it was about to be over. But my first attempt at novel writing was not quite finished by the time classes started. My head was full of my Animorph Ending, and my first all-original series “Drescopata” was starting to creep up in its wake. I knew writing novels was far from over, but I pretended I could juggle. I took notes mechanically, and reassured myself I’d catch up on comprehension closer to exams. The only class that managed to get my undivided attention was Children’s Literature. Assigned reading was about a dozen children’s novels — only two of which I hadn’t already read (“A Royal Ransom” and “A Cricket in Times Square”). The most major assignment was a choice between writing an essay or a children’s story (why anyone chose essay is beyond me). I think I could have juggled four classes like that, no problem. But of course, my other three were math, anthropology, and introductory teaching. daydream AnimorphI never knew until then that I could be so disconnected from what I had to learn. I had never excelled at math or science, but I’d always kept up with every required course in high school. Keeping up was supposed to be second nature, but now, I felt lost and very intimidated by everyone else’s concentration. I found I also lacked the will power to seek help or try harder. I used to sit with a history major in the same study corner. We’d chatted enough to know she was a dedicated textbook reader and I a distracted fiction writer. Once I sat with her for about five minutes staring at a math worksheet; then I put it away and pulled out my laptop. She smirked at me and said, “you didn’t last long.” And I didn’t. I dropped out of university, and enjoyed my starving artist lifestyle until years later when I discovered ECE. During the months I tried university, I naturally wrote a poem to angst about it:

I have a brain, but it’s not quite the same as what everyone here seems to have.

They’ll study for hours, but I can’t keep pace; I hate it when life is a race.

Sixteen years old, you don’t know how to drive

You’re coffee and cappa deprived

Now you’re eighteen and it’s no wonder you

Want to live like there’s nothing to do.

Let go of the past; childhood’s been abolished

Get back to life when you’re standard and polished

You’ll read, write and highlight ’til you get it done

Only lazy bad slackers have fun.

I’ve always been one who would much rather stay

Smelling the roses until they rot and decay

Than plowing through fields, just the end in sight

Letting every sweet sidetrack pass by in the night

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #35: Hesitant Heroes

I can’t think how this poem came to mind except through word prompts, which would make it circa age twenty. It seems to describe the introverts who have noble aspirations but too little gumption to force them into the open. I’m certainly an introvert, and a believer in the power of good.

How best can grin flee?flying_angel

How best wings take cover?

Angel can hide,

Smile can run,

Love shatter steel;

How best can be done?

Regroup, reconsider,

We shelter, protect

Best good things fragile

To put-down and jest

Weak, but they’re peeking,

Sneaky, they see

How best they can rise,

Because the world needs them strong.

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #34: Happy Ending

coverAge 17-19, my writing obsession found its roots in my burning desire to fix the Animorph ending. When one has a writer for a mother, one doesn’t accept a beloved book series’ integrity thrown out the window as a done deal. My mother, however, entrusted the salvation of Animorphs to me, thus allowing me to discover that I was a writer myself. In the beginning, much of my process was hyping myself up for the big job ahead. I came up with a little song, the tune for which is essentially the chorus line “so much for my happy ending” (from “My Happy Ending” by Avril Lavigne). It wasn’t important that the song feel good to anybody but me. The fact was that singing it made me excited about my project, the same way that dancing inexpertly to loud music made me energized for writing. Bear in mind that the following lyrics are meant to be accompanied by the righteous rage of a motivated teen and her imaginary rock band:

Pessimists can stop pretending;

So much for their crappy ending!

(echo) Oooh-oh…so much for their crappy ending…

(Instrumental / random ‘ooo’ing)

Life need not be condescending;

I’ll make it a happy ending!

(echo) Oooh-oh…I’ll make it a happy ending…

(Instrumental / random ‘ooo’ing)

There’s a mess here that needs tending;

So much for their crappy ending!

(echo) Oooh-oh…so much for their crappy ending…

(Instrumental / random ‘ooo’ing)

Optimists don’t need defending;

I’ll make it a happy ending!


Poem Portal #33: Happiness

Happy MeI’m gonna say circa age 13 for this one, but if you think I became less of a happy-go-lucky teen age 14 onwards, you’d be wrong. I could see myself writing this glaringly optimistic song at any point before my school-hating phase at age 17. This was before I even  knew I was a writer, and yet life was evidently wonderful;-) I think I still had more steam for the occasional angry song, because only two verses of this got written. I found abandoned notes for four more. Verse 3: a relaxing activity/a good conversation, verse 4: excitement/thrills, verse 5: good news/something to look forward to, verse 6: compliments/success. Definitely not going to write those verses now, so enjoy an unedited hurtle fourteen years into the past…

Chorus: A bright, something new in a typical day,

              Makes life worthwhile in every way,

              The day goes on, but anyhow,

              I can’t stop smiling now!

Verse 1: A laugh that gives you earnest glee,

              Leaves you working happily,

              A thought that lets you drift away,

              To a place where dreams dance night and day,

              You are safe from the world’s solemn stare,

              You are free to breathe in fragrant air, 

              When you’re alone in a world of your own.


Verse 2: Something sweet to thrill your tongue,music notes

              Glorious notes are beautif’ly sung,  

              There’s something new to intrigue you,

              When each day brings sounds and tastes anew,

              The world is wonderful when all around you,

              There are sunsets, mists and haze,rainbow

              With rainbows, stars and shimmering waves,

              The world smiles at you, always!

Poem Portal #32: Handling Poor

This poem reflects the financially naïve twenty-year-old brain I possessed when I first started living away from home. I moved in with my roommates in Abbotsford, sitting on $6,000 that I’d saved from working in fast food in Prince George. I intended to use my savings for living expenses until I became an independently wealthy author. jen1I figured I could keep my savings afloat by sticking to the bare essentials: rent, food and any opportunity to further my writing career. To help replace money that had to be spent, I did get part-time jobs almost right away (Blockbuster for a couple weeks and Apple Betty’s for three months). I didn’t expect to stay at $6,000, but I expected to fluctuate at a nice safe height for as long as I needed. To my credit, I did last about six months before I had to start living paycheck to paycheck. The cold hard truth hit me when a cheque I’d sent for a writing contest bounced (never play writer-lottery on writing contests that aren’t free; the getting-published lottery is hard enough without that extra stress).

Anyway, now that I’ve had seven years to improve my life balancing skills, I’m not too embarrassed to share how I used to be. Welcome to my first home away from home:

There’s a filter on the kitchen tap, instead of a water cooler.

Two garbage bags balance against the dining room wall.internet

An internet cord coils across my bedroom door,

So I must lift my feet, going in, going out.

I bought my bed at Value Village—it’s a mattress in literal speak.

I lift it each night off the carpeted floor and tuck my blanket ends underneath.

My clothes come from a friend who lost weight.

They’re big on me too; I have a good belt.

A couple nice shirts shut up in the closet, so the cat can’t pull them down.

One suitcase is my dresser; the other, laundry basket.

I don boots and coat to do my laundry.Over-Packer

Carry the load out our front door, to the front door of the boarders below.

Two washers, two dryers; one of each works,

Five people share; two I don’t consult with.

Never leave laundry ’til no clean clothes left. 

Broke the blinds in my room; I’ll change in the bathroom.

For the soap there I thank every Body Shop gift, until now unused and unneeded.

No fan after a shower; I open the window a crack.

Remember to close it, so the house won’t get cold.

My legs are cold in my room; I wrap a quilt around them where I sit,

Warm my hands in the sleeves of my sweater, against my mug of tea.teabag_used

I use every tea bag twice; sealing first-used in a ziplock.

Behind, on my mattress, my boom box is singing.

My laptop’s a treasure—no cable; it plays DVDs.

There’s no home telephone, only “Skype” and my cell.

No alarm clock; my cell phone does that.

No car, so I walk.  Buy what I can carry.

On my own two feet, I’m affording my life,

Though outside it, my savings sound small.

Families paying down debts on their houses and cars

Can’t see six thousand lasting a month,

But it lasts, even grows, I don’t slip below five.

And always I can pay

The next flight I have to make,

The next chance I have to take,

No excess, no waste in my day-to-day things,

My future, as well, is my own.


My roommates’ cat.

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #31: Hall Light

hall light This poem reminds me of how angry I got with my printer yesterday. When technology frustrates us humans, we tend to crave an emotional object to punish. Suddenly, my inanimate printer has tender feelings and if I yell at it and call it names, it will be so sorry it ever made me mad. This is how I explain my behaviour anyway. And I’ve seen other people do it too. Oh, but if objects really could care, what trouble we’d all be in! “Hall Light” circa age twenty for my online poetry course:


The hall light cracks, explodes, throws sparks,

The hall light, yes, sets house on fire.

The hall light, no, we can’t suspect,

For years it looked so innocent.

Foolish, I know, trusting so long

Objects enslaved would not rebel.

The hall light obeys no one now.