Thursday, July 19, 2018

an excerpt from the title poem of my forthcoming chapbook, Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems

Choose Your Own Adventure:
The Galápagos Mating Dance

You are a single woman, about to embark upon your most challenging and dangerous mission. Equipped with a libido and the instinct to bear children, your objective is to find the perfect mating ritual in the Galápagos Islands. You bravely face elaborate courtship dances, rough foreplay, and single parenting – but will you return to the U.S. with the partnership pattern that works for you?

Chapter One

You are a blue-footed booby.
A male approaches you
and begins to dance,
taking giant steps in place
to flaunt his turquoise feet,
indicators of his health.
If red throat pouches
are more of a turn-on,
skip to Chapter Two.

He offers you twigs and grasses,
symbols of the nest
you will build together.
Impressed, you dance too,
face-to-face walking
on a treadmill.
You mirror each movement,
a connection found
in how much you can act
like one another.
His dancing escalates-
wingtips, tail, beak
all point skywards.
When you match
his sky pointing,
the bond is sealed.
He whistles; you honk.
Even after nesting begins,
you continue to dance.
If you would rather
he stop trying to get it on,
so you can focus
on being a mom,
skip to Chapter Three.

You both incubate the eggs,
taking breaks only to hunt.
While you are off to eat,
he strays from the nest,
dances the booby-two-step
with other females,
but when you return,
he comes back immediately.
If you prefer a partner
who can abstain
from flirting with others,
go to Chapter Two.

Your family stays together
six months, one season.
Once the juvenile leaves the nest,
you both move on to new mates-
no empty nest syndrome for you.
If you prefer a partner
to grow old with,
rekindling the romance
once the kids are gone,
skip to Chapter Six.


Saturday, June 2, 2018

On sale now! Choose Your Own Adventures and Other Poems

Mail Order Form

Please send me ______ copy(ies) of Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems, by Caroline N. Simpson, at $14.99 per copy plus shipping: $2.99 U.S. / $6.99 international (By mail only: If ordering multiple copies, domestic shipping is $2.99 for the first copy and $1.99 for each additional copy).

Enclosed is my check (payable to Finishing Line Press) for $__________



City/State/Zip                                                                                                                _____

Please send check or money order to:        Finishing Line Press
                                                                    Post Office Box 1626
                                                                    Georgetown, KY  40324

Or order online at:

Click “New Releases and Forthcoming Titles” or directly at:

Please consider also passing along the link to this page to a friend who might be interested in the collection. Please note that if you place your order during the pre-publication period, domestic shipping is only $2.99, and international shipping is $6.99. Thank you!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pre-Order Sales for my Forthcoming Chapbook Have Begun!

My forthcoming poetry chapbook, Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems, is now AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER. It's due for publication in September, but the pre-publication sales take place now and last until July 22, 2018 to determine the press run size. 

This manuscript was the project I worked on during my residency at Art Farm, Nebraska last August, and I am excited that it so quickly found a home with Finishing Line Press. 

The chapbook's title poem, "Choose Your Own Adventure: The Galápagos Mating Dance" came from my visit to the Galápagos Islands two years ago. In each "chapter" of this poem, I liken the mating ritual of a Galápagos animal to a human mating ritual, and include an original watercolor drawing (of the animal, not humans mating!). 

Getting a chapbook of my own poetry published has been a goal of mine for several years now. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing these poems. 

You can pre-order your copy here:

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Cornice

photo credit

We thought we were far enough
from the edge of the snow-covered ridge
that hovered above a glacier-carved ravine,
yet when Annica tripped on her shoelace,
we gasped until she was on her feet again.
We had entered this high point riddled with caution signs,
chose to walk along this finger pointing to an imminent death,
even paused to eat our lunch perched atop its severity,
haunted by ghostly implications inhaled as cold mountain breaths.
I feared the sound of snow cracking beneath my feet,
the beginning of a fall, my stomach lodged in my throat,
gravity pulling the rest of my body down,
these two parts of me a rubber band
stretched to its breaking point.
I feared the awareness of death
that would surface
in such a moment.

I find myself again at the abyss,
this time on a cornice of my own making.
This is a fall that will begin when she is born and last my entire life.
People tell me about their own plunges, what they found below, how they felt.
I can’t know this expanse from looking over its edge,
not who she is, how I’ll feel, what our connection will be.
I only know this gravity will take me somewhere deep.
I’ve come to this cliff precisely
for this unknown.

How rarely in life I’ve created my own precipice,
walked past the caution signs, stepped onto the edge
not by accident, but excited by a vastness I can never contain,
nervous for the fall, for all is unknown.
Yet here I am leaning
toward mine.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Way of the Rose

The Way of the Rose


When I live to be an old lady, 105, get dementia,
the last thing, the one thing that will dodge memory loss-
how to draw a rose looking straight at its center
learned from “How to Draw Flowers” when I was 10.
I’ve been sketching this image my whole life.
I can do it eyes closed, even reach out of a coma
to render this rose on paper.


One. Begin with 1 small circle.

Two. Draw 2 lobes around it,
a lima bean dissected in Biology class.

Three. Draw 3 lobes, flat and long
hugging the previous two.

Four. Lose the symmetry.
Let your next choice be ‘maybe 4 or maybe 5’
but grow this number steadily
so your next maybe is ‘5 or 6’ or ‘6 or 7,’
some petals flatter, some wider.

Five. Fall in love with seashells
but drop Biology class.
Take 2-D Art instead.
Don’t memorize the kingdoms.
Draw their shapes.


In 5th grade, I had team teachers. One wanted to plan a birthday surprise for the other. We each were to bring 1 yellow rose – the color of friendship- so she’d have a bouquet of 50. My dad suggested I paint her a rose. “But all the others will bring real roses,” I said. “It would be something different and special,” he responded. So I grabbed my paper, brushes, paints, and fell under the Wabi Sabi Trance. Oh, to be the one imperfect petal of her bouquet – not 3-D, soft, slippery, fragrant, fleeting, but 2-D, crisp, bold! My whole life I’ve been trying to give this gift to everyone I love.


The more difficult daffodil you don’t draw
by looking straight at it.
Discard Fibonacci.
Where the rose could go on forever,
the daffodil has its limits-
the weight of its trumpet,
the reach of its song.
The petals anchor
the exclamation, encircle it
to announce its music.
The confluence of corona and base
is the most important moment
in the daffodil’s life.
Capture it from an angle,
center its seam on the page.


Never end
one petal
where the petal
of an older layer
This false rose
is a cancer,
petals feeding
off each other.

A true rose
from a circling
of breath
teasing out
one petal
at a time,
the rose’s joy-
a shiver,

first published in Hartskill Review: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. Eau Claire, Wisconsin: Threw Line Books. Vol. 4, Issue 1. Winter 2018. Print.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 52

Dream Board

This is the fifty-second and final installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

“Each sound that we emit travels through the air, but it always returns to us. If we want the right words to resound in our ears, all we have to do is pronounce them beforehand.” –Laura Esquival

Dream boards are collages of words and images that represent one’s vision or hopes for the future. They operate on the law of attraction, that by consciously “pronouncing” your hopes and dreams, you will attract them into actualization. Since this is the last of The Curious Creative exercises, number 52, you will most likely be doing this at the turn of the new year. What a fitting time for our creative play to consist of our dreams for the coming year!

Your Turn!

  1. Gather some scissors, and a stack of magazines, old books, newspapers, etc. from which to find your images.
  1. As you leaf through the magazines, etc., cut out pictures and words that catch your eye or speak to you. Envision what you want the coming year to look like for you. At this point, it’s better to gather too many words and images and then when it’s time to choose which to include on your dream board, you can make more careful selections. What’s important at this stage is not to think too hard or long about why to cut out an image or word. Trust your intuition.
  1. Choose a blank piece of paper as small or as large as you want your dream board to be.
  1. Look through your words and images, and again without thinking too hard, arrange them into a meaningful collage of what you hope the coming year will bring. You can also use markers, colored pencils, pens, etc. to write and draw images yourself.
  1. When you are finished, hang the dream board in a place where you can be reminded every day of what your vision for the future is. I like to hang mine in my closet so I see it every morning as I start my day.
How did you do? Were you able to shut off your thinking brain and choose words and pictures from a relaxed state? Did any of the things you chose to cut out or draw surprise you? Check back on your dream board in six months or so- which things came true?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing!