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Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Howdy once again! It’s been a wild ride but this here’s the final post for Anyone Can Poem.

I’d planned to use this last post to wrap up everyone’s free verse poems from last month; problem is, no one came round to share ’em.

Instead, we’re a-gonna wrap up everything we done did learn over all the past year o’ poeming:

  1. March, 2021. This was whare it all began. I asked you to take yourself on a relaxing date. While moseying around with such a stunning partner, you then needed to “word dump prosaically.”
    This was a way to loosen up any of y’all who was feeling nervous about writing.
  2. April, 2021. Next, naturally, we tried mimicryParodyPastiche.
  3. May, 2021. I introduced haiku -sort-of. I’d always meant to come back to this beautiful form and do it right proper, but it is what it is.
  4. June, 2021. This month was one o’ my favorites! We all tried limericks.
  5. July, 2021. After expressing mah pet-peeve of messed-up meter, I suggested we mess up meters.
  6. August, 2021. Continuing with meter, we ‘fixed’ some famous poems.
  7. September, 2021. This ‘un discussed the need for concise poeming.
  8. October, 2021. To further improve our poetry, I said to “pick impactful, meaningful words and phrases that put the reader in the moment.”
  9. November, 2021. I delivered a healthy baby boy, and suggested we try an Acrostic Poem.
  10. December, 2021. We faced the greatest poetic challenge of all: free verse. I’d meant for this ‘un to be a two-parter, but had to take a break on completin’ the second part till…
  11. April, 2022. The follow-up on where we’d gone with free-versing.

An’ now we’re here. We’ve spent a year working together so y’all can be right cozy with writing a poem. I have no more challenges for you, excepting that you go through them steps anytime you think, I can’t write poetry.

I’m telling ya: YES, YOU CAN. Anyone can poem.

And, as always, you can send me any poem you’re struggling with. Just use the form at the bottom o’ one o’ the old challenges. I’m happy to help.

—–

©2022 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Well, howdy! I’ll bet you’re surprised to see me again. I can say that makes two of us! I’m jest here to let y’all know Kid ‘n Pal will be returning to their old Saddle Up Saloon shenanigans, but on each Friday.

Don’t tell, but I snuck on in here afore them to finish up what we started back in December of 2020. Once we get through this ‘un and a final post on May 6, Anyone Can Poem will be done and done.

(I hear tell a story-generating Cowsino will mosey on in, come the first of June.)

And so, welcome, one and all, to this month’s installment! I originally posted back in January and intended to continue the lesson from December.

Like any good sequel, I’ll do a quick montage of the first installment so we’re all caught up: freeversepoetryisabadideabutwe’regoingtodoitanywayandforstarterslet’ssplityourpoemusingpunctuationandspacingsoitreadshowyouwish.

Way back then, you shared your free verse poem with the sort of pausing you want it read with. Now it’s time to get more nitty-gritty. I want you to look at everywhere you’ve done a comma, semi-colon, period, line break, and new paragraph. Take each of those places, one at a time, and decide how you will permanently create the pause you wish.

Pauses can be forced with what we already have, a’course. They can also be made with looooong, slooooow words, laborious words, descriptive words, shocking words, and onomatopoeia. And sure-shootin’, you can keep a line break or comma if you wish.

If you take the poem snippet I used for an example, we start with
I saw a dove;
it alighted on my hand
and frittered there.

But I don’t want the final version to be split across three lines. Instead, I want
I saw a dove
It alighted on my hand and frittered there.

To be honest, frittered is more of a second-draft word. I came up with rested the first time I typed it up. Frittered is a good word since it ain’t usual ’round these parts and has several syllables. It’s also fun to say; fun to wonder how in tarnation a bird might fritter. To create the pause or s l o w i n g I need around the midpoint of that line, I will need different words besides on my hand and.

Let’s try
I saw a dove
It alighted atop a finger; it frittered there

Hmm. Not bad. But what ’bout
I saw a dove
Alighting on my finger, it frittered there

Get it? Good. Your assignment is to take the lovely poem you shared in December and close up the line breaks with intentional words, a semi-colon or two, or sounds. Lasso the words that will sing the pattern you want.

Fill out the form, below, if you want only me to see it. Fill out a comment if you’re willing to show off.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Next month, we’ll do a final polish of your free verse and, as I promised, a final farewell to Anyone Can Poem.

I can’t wait to see what you do!

—–

©2022 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Good ev’ning or mornin’! Welcome to our tenth month of poem-ing.

We’ve a rough ride this year -through loosening up, parody, forms, meter, and word choice.

Now, we’re facin’ the roughest bull ride this side o’ the Mississippi: free verse.

Writing freely, without a form, is like opting for bareback riding on an unbridled stallion. You really oughter not; and, if you’re that determined, you really oughter know what you’re doing.

But this is Anyone Can Poem! I’m not here to warn against such idiocy; I’m here to teach you how to look good doing it!

First, let’s make sure you’re registered for the right event. What is a free verse poem?

Free verse is an open form of poetry, which in its modern form arose through the French vers libre form. It does not use consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any musical pattern.

Wikipedia

It’s different from blank verse, which is taking a metered form and intentionally not rhyming. Free verse is also different than mishmashmess verse*, where you write whatever you want to and how.

Most free verse arises from an emotionally-moving experience we feel compelled to express in a poem. We awake at midnight, remembering our first (lost) love. We taste the first warmth of springtime against our skin during a morning walk. We fall head-over-heels for another person. We savor the agony of heartbreak when he or she doesn’t reciprocate.

Then, we pull the floating snippets of emotions down to the page. We feel that the words must not rhyme or conform to a pattern in order to express what we felt.

That’s great! I’m here to step in about now; pause the stallion-riding, and offer up a few pointers of why you have the inexplicable feeling that you’re actually seated backwards and wearing a prom dress and heels.

It’s simply because your free verse poem tricked you. It told you it needed to be mishmashmess when, in fact, it still needs form. -Not a bridle, per se; but definitely an arena within which to ride, and definitely a movement to the animal on which you sit. See: a lost-love poem must read like a beating heart. A nature poem about walking through springtime must read like a walking gait. New love must use long, slow-moving words like thoughtfulness and consideration at the start but short, exciting words like heat and touch as our feelings heighten.

So, please take your free verse poem. Go on: take it.

Now, I want you to shape it exactly the way you want it to read by changing the formatting.

If you wrote I saw a dove it alighted on my hand and frittered there, do you really intend that as a run-on sentence? Or, do you read it as:
I saw a dove;
it alighted on my hand
and frittered there

Or, maybe you even read it as:
I saw
a dove.
it
alighted on
my hand and
frittered there.

Use commas, semi-colons, periods, and hyphens to create small pauses. Use line breaks and new paragraphs to create longer pauses and new thoughts.

Then, share what you’ve done via the submission form (where only I will see it and respond) or in the comments section below (where only everyone may see and respond).

Go ahead. It’s easier than you think. And, it’s the first step toward a free-verse poem you’ll love. I promise.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

*I made up the term mishmashmess verse. Don’t look for it.

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

It’s yet another month of Anyone Can Poem. The Management (me) would like to apologize for delays in responding to submitted poetry. I don’t spend all my time ’round these parts, and it’s startin’ to show …specifically, I’m delivering a baby boy this Tuesday and have been busy with cookin’ him.

Now… on to poetry.

I shore hope you took time to run through the steps we outlined last time we gathered. They’re a might helpful for creating any poem.

Speaking of, I think it’s time to try a poetic form. We’ve done simple haiku and limericks. Let’s move on to Acrostic.

Acrostic is easy. Children write Acrostic poems with letters of their name. Bloggers write them with no rhyme or reason…

That’s probably the pregnancy hormones acting up. The point is that this sort of poem does not have to be terrible. And it’s a great way to keep to a form and not get too difficult.

What is an Acrostic poem?

An acrostic is a poem or other composition in which the first letter (or syllable, or word) of each line (or paragraph, or other recurring feature in the text) spells out a word, message or the alphabet.

Wikipedia

That’s it! The only trick is that I want you to write your Acrostic while keeping everything we’ve learned till now in mind. You’re only doing yourself a disservice if I see:

Charming as a sloth
Hiding chocolate
Everywhere
Like a sloth

Pick a word. Write or type it vertically down a page so each line begins with each letter of your word. Then, imagine the feeling you wish to convey with that word. I want to feel that whilst reading your entire Acrostic. Gallop round the outline I gave last month and you’ll be golden.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Finally, share what you wrote. We’d love to read your poem in the comments. Or, feel free to use the form and only I will see it. No stress; just fun.

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Whew! Welcome to Anyone Can Poem, the time when we scare away the I-can’t-coyotes and embrace the I-will-wallabies.

Yes, our rodeo has wallabies.

Thank you to all the amazing poets who responded to my challenge to murder their children -erm, to remove their unnecessary or superfluous words.

Now, after taking out extra adverbs, adjectives, and grandiose language; we will spend this month filling our poetry with the best words.

How do you choose the best words? Easy.

  1. Decide what your poem (or, intended poem) is about. What moment do you want to capture; what feeling do you want the reader to feel; what action do you want to encapsulate?
  2. Which form (metered, rhymed, free verse, specific syllable count) do you feel works best with your theme?
  3. Take time to free-write descriptors, actions, feelings, colors -WHATEVER about the poetic moment.
  4. Pick your favorites from Step 3. Form phrases. Make it poetic.
  5. Form those pieces into a ‘final’ poem.
  6. Take the poem, line by line, and check if the words you picked are just showing off. Check if they are flowery. Make sure they are not fluffy bits of wallaby fur only intended to look cute.
  7. Instead; pick impactful, meaningful words and phrases that put the reader in the moment.

Let’s say my answer to #1 is chocolate. I want to capture the delectable moment when a piece of chocolate melts across your tongue and drips down your throat. Ah, the anticipation! The sensation! The bliss!

For #2, I choose to write it free-verse.

#3, Free-write: chocolate, rich, tasty, moist, mouthful, bliss, gurgling tummy, slip down, melt, rich goodness, milk chocolate, smooth, tantalizing, anticipation, square….

Now, I pick my favorites (#4) and smash them into a poem (#5):
Milky mouthful slips and drips
Across my licking, moist tongue
Come to me, my choc’late bliss

Slip down down down to my gurgling tummy.

Oh, dear. I have some removal to do of extra words (#6). While I’m at it, I’ll change or add better words (#7):
Milky mouthful slips and drips Rich and silky milky slice
Across my licking, moist tongue -Simmers on my tongue
Come to me, my choc’late bliss -Melting down; oh, choc’late bliss!

Slip down down down to my gurgling tummy. Anticipation, come.

Hmm. Looks like it wanted to be formed after all. In terms of word choice, what do you think? Did I pick impactful or unnecessary? What would you edit or suggest?

Now, as always, it’s your turn. Go through the steps. Edit and refine. Then, send me what you’ve got or share it in the comments. You can also share what you’ve got at any point along the steps, for pointers. I’m happy to help.

And, above all, have fun!

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

If’n your summer (or winter) has been as busy as mine, I shore do ‘preciate your comin’ back for more poeming.

Still, I didn’t get many volunteers in last month‘s offer to send me your poem needing a bit of meter-tinkering. The offer is open, even if you’re reading this months or years after its posting.

Now, on to more FUN poetry specifics:

If my #1 pet peeve is meter, my #2 is when people write poetry for entirely the wrong reasons and are therefore showing off.

Their work is flowery, superfluous, showy, fluffy, wordy, adverby -in short, too much tell AND show in some of the worst ways possible. Their poem ends up a mash of obscure words and emotional pleas that lack a concise theme.

If a poet is new to The Game, s/he will do this innocently.

If a poet is old to the game, s/he will do so because swaths of followers are wowed by a naïve misunderstanding of what really makes poetry good. What will make it memorable. What makes it timeless.

How do you avoid this pitfall? The same way you do with regular writing exercises: brutal murder of useless words.

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”

Stephen King

This is one reason why I believe Dr. Seuss is among the poetic masters. How many words does he use in The Cat in the Hat? And yet, I love it. And yet, with my kids, that book I still get…

This is also why, in intentionally ignoring the other rules haiku must follow, I had us try 5-7-5 for our first form. I am sorry to those who felt stabbed at my casual treatment. It had to be done.

Make your poem concise!

Compact!

To a point -please, please have a point to your poetry!

Easier said than done? Nah.

The way I see it, the most common reason a poet strays too far is because the poem doesn’t feel special enough. We have a misconstrued idea that poetry must be mysterious (obscure), beautiful (flowery), long (wordy), and impressive (vainglorious). It DOESN’T; at least, not in the blundering way we try to get it there.

The purpose of a poem is to capture the feelings of a moment and then use the artistry of words and meter to convey that exact moment and its feelings to another.

So, take your moment; your idea.

  1. Write the moment. Try the first exercise we did, word balloons, free-writing, doodling, or finger paints.
  2. Form the words of your moment more poetically. If you feel comfortable following a form, do so. If free verse appeals, try that.
  3. Follow the first two steps a few times. Let someone else read what you’ve got and tell you what they think you’re writing about.
  4. Next, fix the meter. Even free verse poetry follows a meter.
  5. Last and most difficult, murder the unnecessary.
  6. Polish.

And, I want you to use the attached form to send me what you’ve got at any step along the way. I’m happy to give pointers and I NEVER judge writers negatively. Writing’s difficult enough without worrying about judgment.

If you feel up to it, comment with what you end up with after step 6.

I’m waiting.

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Man, oh woman, this has been one heck of a month! Thanks to all the poets (you *are* all poets!) for playing along with these prompts despite your busy lives. I tip my hat to ya.

Last time I got up on this here stage, I encouraged y’all to intentionally mess with meter. A few did so in the comments; I hope many more tried it on their own.

Now, destruction is always easier than construction. To create more difficult than to destroy. Ice cream is far better than raisin cookies. -You get the idea.

Therefore, we must now turn our metering ear to improvement. I have a few, easy exercises for your poeting minds:

  1. Read this poem, preferably aloud:
    At last, I lie upon my bed.
    At last, I sigh; rest my head…
  2. Decide what’s wrong with its meter.
  3. Fix it.

I’m waiting.

If you did Steps 1-3, your Answer Key is that the meter -the BEAT of the poem- trips up between sigh and rest. It needs an extra syllable there; maybe an and.

Did you see that? Did you fix it?

Let’s try another:

  1. Read this one; again, preferably aloud:
    The cow is a member of the bovine ilk;
    One end is moo, the other, milk
    .
  2. Decide what’s wrong.
  3. Fix it.

This one is a mutilated version of Ogden Nash’s The Cow. If you are familiar with his original, your mind automatically corrected it to how it should sound. If you are unfamiliar, your Answer Key hint is that I added two words (a member) where there were none.

Let’s try another!:

  1. Read it so they can hear it in the back:
    Because I could not stop for Death –
    He sure stopped for me –
    The Carriage held just Ourselves –
    And Immortality.
  2. *Tick* *Tock* *Tick* -Can you find the problems? There are two.
  3. Well, fix them!

You may have guessed that this is an excerpt from Emily Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop for Death. You may have cheated and fixed it based on her original words; I replaced kindly with sure and omitted but from The Carriage held but just Ourselves. Did you choose to add the same words as she? Another two-syllable word will work for kindly; another one-syllable for but.

What am I trying to do here?

…Actually, I’m trying to enclose your mind more than free it. I’m trying to help you see the pattern of words. I’m trying to help you feel the rhythm. Feel the ride.

Films aside, learning to feel the meter of a poem is very important. Knowing this meter is vital to taking your own poem and realizing one reason why it just doesn’t sound right.

So, you have homework:

Send me your poem. Use the form that I’ve included and send me that bit of your creation that’s niggling at you so much you just want to stick it in a shoebox and shove it under the bed. You and I are going to do what you did with my poem, Ogden Nash’s, and Emily Dickinson’s: FIX IT! We are going to look at the meter and decide what will make it flow.

Go on. I triple dog dare ya.

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Today’s the day for more poem-ing! Don’t look at me like that; the title should have told you something poetic lay round the nearest hay bale!

If’n you’re old hat, you definitely knew where we were going. You also tried limericks last month, haiku before that, parody before that, and a loosening up exercise back when we started.

Myself, I’ve been right pleased with the results. Y’all oughter be proud. But let’s talk where this wagon train’s a-headed now…

Back when I took piano lessons, I preferred the parts where I played interesting songs. Impatient, distracted, bored; I skipped out whenever theory reared its ugly head. Why learn about The Circle of Fifths when I could learn “The Music of the Night?

What’s that to do with rodeos and poems? We’re going to learn a little ‘theory.’ Since it’s me teaching, however, we’re gonna have more fun than a bull-riding competition.

Thing is, despite encouraging everyone to poem (they need to!) and saying anyone can poem (they most certainly can!), I have some pet peeves about poetry.

#1. BIG NUMBER ONE: Meter! Meter is the beat of the poem. It’s the pattern you feel as you write or read poetry. It’s the syllables and how we place them. It’s reading something aloud and clapping along with a preschool class, for Pete’s sake!
And many, many poems screw this up.

…including my own. No joke.

At last, I lie upon my bed.
At last, I sigh; rest my head…

Meter can be difficult because of us. Because of YOU! You and I and every other artist out there is subject to viewing his or her work through the way it was created. We read our poem the way we thought of it and not the way others will read it.

Meter is also difficult because we get tied up in counting syllables (think haiku) and do not pay attention to where we put stress in words. Frigidaire works differently in a poem than Washington; both have three syllables, but the stress in Frigidaire is on the last while Washington‘s stress is on the first.

Meter applies to both structured and free verse poems. Despite a free verse poem not fitting rules like 5/7/5 or iambic pentameter, our minds still seek a meter like we seek a comfortable gait whilst walking down the sidewalk.

Enough boring theory, though. Let’s apply our more-fun-than-bull-riding activity.

I want you to totally mess up a famous poem by intentionally inserting extra syllables or by intentionally changing words to ones with different stresses.

To be helpful, I suggest the following:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Because I could not stop for Death – 
He kindly stopped for me – 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
And Immortality.


One fish
two fish
red fish
blue fish.


If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:


With a sincere apology to the masters who wrote them, I command you to congest a poem to mess up its meter.

Type us up one in the comments, or send me your terrible work through the form.

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Welcome, ladies and gents, to Anyone Can Poem, the rodeo where …well, anyone can poem.

Last time we were in the saddle, I introduced the basics of haiku. We used its general syllable outline to jump in and have some fun.

Where will we ride from here?

To limericks.

A limerick (/ˈlɪmərɪk/) is a form of verse, usually humorous and frequently rude, in five-line, predominantly anapestic trimeter with a strict rhyme scheme of AABBA, in which the first, second and fifth line rhyme, while the third and fourth lines are shorter and share a different rhyme.

Wikipedia

I don’t know about you, pard’ner, but that was a whole chunk of intimidating text. -And limericks are not intimidating.

They’re fun. They’re edgy. They’re funny!

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’
-Edward Lear

Like haiku, limericks follow a form. Myself, I find this form easy to write to once I pick up on the beat. Try reading Edward Lear’s (credited as being the master limerickist) contribution out loud. Still not hearing it? Here are a few more:

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak,
Enough food for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.
-Dixon Lanier Merritt

Alas for the death of Hugh Hannity
Whose boat was capsized by a manatee.
When they saw it swim by,
All the townsfolk would cry:
“There he goes! Oh the beast! The Hugh manatee!”
-Graham Lester

Now do you hear it? Do you feel it? Anyone can poem a limerick, including me:

There once was a mother of four
Who never could sweep up her floor.
The clothes and the toys
Were stuck beneath boys.
Daddy wonders who taught them to swore.
Chel Owens

  1. The pattern of AABBA and anapestic trimeter means that you start with two longer lines that rhyme. In the case of Lear’s poem, the rhymes are beard and feared.
  2. Next, you pick two shorter lines that rhyme with a different word. Again, with Lear’s, those words are Hen and Wren.
  3. Finally, you end with a zinger of the same length as the first two lines that also rhymes with them. Lear uses beard again -that cheater.

Whenever I set out to write a limerick, I first choose a subject. For today’s rodeo, let’s pick everyone’s favorite duty: cleaning up after animals. Not only will this subject fulfill the necessities of being somewhat inappropriate and humorous, it will provide many easy-to-rhyme words.

Some possible opening lines:
There once was a man named O’Coot.
There once was a grand rodeo.
I went to the show to just sit.

There! The most difficult part is over, especially since I picked some easy rhymers (except for rodeo). O’Coot can match up with poop scoop and boot and shoot! Sit, on the other hand, has at least one possibility amongst the thesaurus suggestions for animal excrement.

There’s no wrong subject or strict count for limericks if you’re worried. Many famous poets break the form left, right, and center. The main criteria is silliness and that recognizable rhyme pattern.

Send me a few samples through the form. Or, write one or a dozen up in the comments. You’ll love it and so will we!

Don’t overthink; just do it!

—–

An embarrassing mess was my brother
With one leg that was short. Not the other
Which made this eccentric
Walk in circles concentric
Causing constant distress to our mother
Richmond Road
(From the A Mused Poetry Contest)

©2021 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Howdy! Welcome to another month of Anyone Can Poem.

I enjoyed reading what y’all wrote last month, when we explored poetic parody. If’n you’re still in the mood, check it out and write to the challenge.

Now, on to more fun! Dust off your chaps and boots and cinch up your saddle straps. We’re going to jump into common poetry forms, beginning with haiku.

What is haiku?

Haiku is one of the most basic forms of poetry you can write, with the exception of replicating Ogden Nash’s “Fleas.” Despite this simplicity, an excellent haiku can still produce serenity of mind.

Furthermore, YOU can write an excellent haiku.

  1. Think of a subject. It’s traditional to use something from Nature, but no one says you can’t poem about ice cream.
  2. Frame your subject into very, very simple terms. If your subject is ice cream and you want to write about its melting, think, Cream hot melt. That’s right: I want you to jot down words like someone writing a telegram who only has seventeen cents to do so.
  3. Start writing! Actually write Cream, Hot, Melt. Write more; why not Chocolate Desires Now Sidewalk? Or, Mint Chip Pavement?
  4. DO NOT HESITATE. DO NOT ERASE. There is no wrong way to do these steps, apart from skipping out from fear of mistakes.
  5. Look over what you’ve got, and open your fingers. Count the syllables of your chosen words and split them into three lines of 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, then 5 syllables.
  6. Look over what you’ve got again, and edit as needed for clarity. Some haiku are rather nonsensical while others form a complete phrase or thought over the course of the three lines.
  7. Try to avoid rhyming. It is not necessary; plus, readers will assume you know what you’re doing if you don’t…

Repeat these steps as needed. Write several poems if you’d like! Who’s stopping you?

After you’ve had your fun, send your creation(s) my way through the form. You may also share a haiku or two in the comments for all of us to enjoy.

—–

Cream hot melt pavement
Chocolate sidewalk desires
Mint chip dreams now gone

©2021 Chel Owens