Jes Lee

The final day of national poetry month

Once again I find myself at Tuesday with another studio day ahead of me (plus a bit of work to do on my car with my dad). I can’t complain!

Wow, National Poetry Month and the 30 poems in 30 days challenge is done! I wrote my last poem this morning. I’m a little shocked that I actually completed this challenge! I am contemplating what is next. I think I will keep going with this, though I won’t keep posting them here (you all have graciously read enough raw unedited poetry for a year!!) but I do plan to keep them up in my journal. I think it will be a good journal practice exercise. Also: Editing!!! Lots and lots of editing!! I am very grateful for all the writing prompts that were posted on various websites along the way. They helped immensely!

Today I will be hanging out in my studio, working on my little platen press. I have to typeset the story of Digital for my show. I have edited her tale a lot over the last couple of weeks, and I think I am finally happy with both the words and the images they will go with.

Ok, my last two poems:

April 29th – I used a writing prompt from Hazel & Wren again. This one about cameras (my favorite topic perhaps?!)

The Doctor’s Camera

the shattered planet lay
on her examination table
sterile instruments spread out on either side
microscopic lifeforms
from the planet’s surface
slowly draining their way off
forming slowly spreading puddles
where she wished they wouldn’t.
she picked up her camera
and started to zoom in
on the broken planet
until she could see
the minute details
of each surface
the atoms and microscopic bits
that made up this little world
and when she had finally examined enough
she began to photograph
and replicate
and fix and heal and patch
and rebuild the pieces of this planet
back to a whole.


April 30th – this is about letterpress printing, which is on my mind today. ‘Scrape scrape pull’ is the rhythm I get into when I am mixing ink.

Scrape scrape pull

each letter has a weight
each word has a weight and meaning
each piece has a place
each image
on block
created by taking away
each piece
put together
to form a story
translucent mixes with
white mixes with
black but only a touch
pressing impressions
into fiber
into image
into memory

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Listening to the rain

Another long ‘creating’ weekend is slowly ending. I’m a little nervous, because this is one of my last long weekends free before my show goes up, but I’m not going to dwell on that.

It was a great weekend! I have made more progress on my artwork than I could have hoped, and I have a pretty clear path to the end. I must keep focusing! I can do this!

Right now I am sitting by our deck, listening to the rain, and smelling the damp earth….my favorite scent is the smell of spring rain. There is nothing like the first one of the season.

I have of course kept up on the poetry this weekend. Both of these came from writing prompts that Kris Bigalk posted on her Facebook page. I love how many places you can find writing prompts during NaPoWriMo!

April 27th – What can you live without: (I’m on day 6 of no coffee….tomorrow morning marks one week! And Lynn, if you are reading this, I did just go to the Tea Source today to stock up, and picked up some of the Blueberry Fields tea you mentioned as well as two others! I think I’m set!)

I can live without….

I can live

without coffee


With almond milk

Whatever smooth flavor

Of Peace Coffee

was featured that week

Fresh ground


French press





Black tea

Is just as good

Loose leaf

Steeped in the French press


Almond milk

And just a bit of honey

But he drinks tea

Not coffee

And now I have to share

I never had to share my coffee

I can live without it…..

I can…..


April 28th – try writing a poem with the phrase ‘I remember’ repeated at the beginning of each stanza….

I remember

I remember
my granny’s collection of apples
she had because she was a teacher,
and teachers collect apples.

I remember
specifically her clear glass apple
filled with liquid
and flakes of shiny gold.

I remember
when it sprung a leak
liquid oozing out,
the gold flakes stopped floating.

I remember
her searching
through phone book pages
for the company named
on the apple’s gold sticker.

I remember
her writing down an address,
wrapping the apple while grinning
“We are going on an adventure”.

I remember
riding in her red Caddy through
the coolest area of town
filled with old buildings and train tracks,
and so many signs about art for sale.

I remember
walking inside
one of those buildings
with my granny and her apple.

I remember
we met a woman
who gave my granny a new glass apple
with floating gold flakes
and carefully she took
the leaky one away.

I remember
she gave us a tour
to see where they made
glass apples
before being filled with liquid
and gold.

I remember
watching many people hanging out,
listening to loud rock music,
wearing grungy clothes,
and turning liquid fire
into these amazing hollow glass objects.

I remember
the woman explaining
those were the artists
and they created the glass apples.

I remember
when I first decided
I wanted to become an artist.

It was right then.

I remember
thinking that being an artist
meant you could hang out with your friends,
listening to loud rock music,
and make amazing things.
That you could wear grungy clothes,
because no one cared what you wore!
You were an artist and you were awesome!

I remember
years later I realized
that was only partly right,
but I wanted to be an artist anyway.

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And so I am. True story.

Back and forth

Some days I feel like I am part of two worlds.

I have my day job, which helps pay bills, buy art supplies, and important things (like groceries). I also have my art work and my art jobs. Usually those are separated throughout the  week, depending on what day, or part of the day it is.

Today I felt like I was ping-ponging back and forth between both worlds. Starting first with a shift at my day job, then to drop off artwork, pick up my dad’s artwork, back to a second shift at my day job, and then off to the St. Paul Art Crawl. It was a long day, but I have enjoyed so much of it.

The St. Paul Art Crawl is pretty awesome! We did not get to much of it, because I didn’t get off of work until late, and because I have a lot more artwork I need to be working on the rest of the weekend. But the little sliver we did see was pretty great! I definitely want to go back and hang out in Lowertown St. Paul a bit more.

We went specifically to find Leatherworks MN. I had seen a bit of their work at Northerngrade this past winter, and wanted a better look. They have a lot of great things! It was so nice to stop and chat with them, and happily I have a new wallet and a new little clutch on the way!

We left there to see fire dancers dancing on the street, and grab a bit of dinner at Tanpopo Noodle Shop. I could easily spend all weekend there.

Of course, this is my weekend off from my day job, and it will be another albeit shorter installment of ‘make all the things’ weekend. I have a lot of work to be done, and we’ll see how far I get!

As usual, here are the poems I have written over the past few days. Have a wonderful weekend!

April 24th


first ride of spring
raindrops bring
the smell of wet pavement
stinging cold
pushing myself
to go faster


April 25th (Inspired by a headline that kept popping up in my blog reader)

In France

If you are living in one particular province in France,

your morning paper may be brought to you by a small flying whirring drone,

they don’t need to be tipped, but not paying on time will lead to shredded papers.

Your morning espresso may soon be brought by a small tinny metal robot.

His name is Nicolas. He specializes in Lattes. He accepts tips in the form of tiny bottles of small engine oil.

Your mail will be delivered by teleportation.

Beware, glitches in the system can scramble your package contents rendering the item useless.

Call the main lifestyle troubleshooting hotline if you require assistance with any of the above.

April 26th

Fire Dancer

barefoot on black asphalt
she spins and twirls
arms and feet working out
a fast tempo
familiar pattern.
she must have done this a million times.
fire flaring
leaving its own glowing trails
surrounding her in a web of light.
what a wonderful feeling it must be
to be a light bearer
and dance with wings of fire.

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The potential for racing

Another sunshine filled studio day.

Another day filled with the potential of taking crazy turns, with potential for adventure.

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating that just a bit, but it is very sunny here today, and I feel like there is potential for today to be great. Or not. Either way, I will take the sunshine!

It was a busy weekend full of working shifts at my day job, and one amazing senior photo shoot that included snow and a giant metal number 5! (Yes, you can still take awesome photos in the snow!) This week it is back to working on artwork for my show, processing portraits, and getting ready for the upcoming art festivals. So much to be done!

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I’m off for a date with my platen press at my studio today! I am working on printing the map blocks I have carved. I printed one linoleum block last week, but the wood block I was engraving still needed some work. I spent a bit of time on it last night, and I’m hoping it will print well today! Fingers crossed! I may do a bit of typesetting as well today. I’m very torn between making one last book, and making compilation photo prints with words typeset on them. We’ll see where I end up going with that.

In the mean time, here are the poems I have written over the weekend for the 30 poems in 30 days challenge. I’m still going! I’m also a bit sad that the end is close…I’m having a lot of fun with this!


April 21st

Three thrushes
Feathery, brown and white
Flew into the window today.
One did not fly again.
The reflection of more
Tall oak trees
Too much temptation
For their minds.

My uncle sat
Eating breakfast
Telling of their migration
How far they had come
And how tired
To meet a fate so cold and taunting.

He often makes me wish
I was a birder
And paid attention
To the tiny details
Their distinctive markings
And flight patterns
Where to find them on early morning walks.

But my attention seems to be the same
As the poor birds
Landing for just a second
Before flying off into the next reflection.


April 22nd (just a couple of silly sketches of poems – two haikus on the snow, and one other)

Snow ~

I wonder how far
one would have to drive away
to be out of snow.

where should i escape
to be allowed a bike ride
without icy winds?


New skin~

she drove fast
floored it until
the car vibrations matched
her racing pulse
as if by driving fast
she could unzip herself
an old shell falling away
a brand new layer underneath.


April 23rd (First line inspired by a Dorothea Lange quote)

You are out there on the thin edge
between history and the future,
this thin line called the present.
A tight rope walk through a black hole;
don’t look down
the sound below will be deafening.
Hold my hand and smile
lets give them a show!


Don’t fall

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most of the lake is still frozen
a smooth greenish white layer
of ice and snow covering all
but the very edges.

don’t fall in
don’t fall in

i walk the bridge
remembering the rocks
that live underneath
making the water to shallow for paddling

don’t fall in
don’t fall in

the tiny island
that you can walk to
with its canoe-shaped fire pits
and silvery birch trees.

don’t fall in
don’t fall in

everything seems so man-made
nature tamed
but what do you expect
in the suburbs?

don’t fall in
don’t fall in


Yes, I may have written my daily poem about the paper that I just purchased from Wet Paint today….so what?


like velvet to touch
deckled edges revealing the fibers
each sheet was formed from

one sheet a deep midnight
blue crossed with brown
thin lines making waves
all across
like a lake at night.

two sheet of gold
brown with just a touch
of green
patterns of leaves with delicate
veins patterned each way
edge to edge.

I realize I am buying paper
to make up for what nature
is missing.


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One more

One more long work day before a long weekend mostly spent at my day job, but with one photo shoot thrown in for good measure.

Today my goal is to see how far I can get binding books and making covers and colophons. Thanks to a studio day on Tuesday, I now have a set of prints from one linoleum block, and more to carve out of my wood block.

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Everything keeps moving.

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Poetry challenge:

April 17th – (I found a quote I wrote in my journal quite some time ago. It is a quote by Dorothea Lange, and I used part of it – “You’re right on the thin edge” as part of the inspiration for this poem. The rest of the inspiration came from another ‘Three Things’ edition from Hazel and Wren.)

You’re right on the thin edge
of the threshold
a wooden beam
painted, sanded smooth
separating you
from a suffocating sea.
The door open wide
asking you to go out,
the sea to come in.

The waves lap
with interest
a question in their rhythm
coyly wondering
how you might taste.

Inside the tea party continues
tiny cucumber sandwiches
on whole wheat bread
with butter
and over sweetened tea
lace table cloth
and fine china
each tea cup staring
asking what it would take
to make you break.


April 18th – (no particular inspiration for this one, in fact it is kind of blah and short. I may write more later today.)

leaves and branches bend
the oak leaves still have not fallen.

I shiver
shut inside
turn away from the oak leaves
back to my work.

landing for a minute

The last few days have been a blur.

Having a weekend off of work was amazing, having so much time to work on artwork for my show. I managed to get a few major things finished, or closer to completion. There is still quite a way to go, but I am closer.

I appreciate all the encouraging comments many of you have left on Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr over the weekend as I was posting photos of what I was working on. It means so much!

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Yesterday was filled with so many ups and downs, being back to work, listening to what happened in Boston…

Facebook is a good place to find quotes, and this morning was no different. At the top of my timeline this morning was this: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~Gandhi

There are many heart-breaking sad events in the world every day. What happened in Boston is sad, and sadly not the only one. But I believe, at least for myself, that we have to keep believing that good is possible, to keep putting positive energy out into the universe, and keep making beautiful things.

Today there were will be more creating, more printing, more paper cutting, and more writing for me. There will be a lot less broadcast radio and tv…but perhaps that is just my way of coping.

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Last night John and I had a chance to go to one of the films being shown during the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival at St. Anthony Main Theater. If you have a chance to go see any of the movies during the festival, GO! We try to see as many as we can. The movies we can’t see get added to our list to watch later. Last night we saw Allez, Eddy which was great! A story about a family who has owned a butcher shop for generations, and the youngest child who has dreams to be a bicycle racer instead of a butcher. I hope we make it to a few more movies before the fest is over.

I have still been writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month, and even though I was busy with artwork this weekend and didn’t keep up on blogging, I still wrote my daily poems. Here they are in their usual raw unedited form:

Saturday, April 13th (more a list poem and journal of my day)

art supplies:
paper for a flip book
fresh linoleum block
exacto knife.

4 green dresses tried on
emerald green
teal green
greenish blue with lace
green tea green with lace
finally fit.

dress shirts:
3 shirts tried on
shiny satin red
darker linen red
darker red and grey finally picked
and a grey sport coat with white pin stripes.

back corner table
by the window
people watching
mustard yellow pants
blue hair streaks
many leather jackets.

baking raspberry muffins
white bean pot pie
coding programs
gluing photos and boxes
drinking white wine
that tastes like citrus
like summer.

somehow you make the mundane
the small details
seem amazing.


Sunday, April 14th (inspired by a line posted in Ojibwe on Facebook by Heid Erdrich)

Every day is a good day.

Each day will change everything forever.
there are a million options
a zillion ways each day can play out
an infinite number of ways a day can end.

But each day we are here
each day we start together
every day we end together
is just the very best
of an infinite number of possibilities.

Every day is a good day.


Monday, April 15th (inspired by a ‘Three Things‘ photo post on the Hazel and Wren blog)

she fancied herself
one who could dance
on nothing but air.
moving weightlessly,
as if the music alone
could carry her
with the wind.

she ate nothing
but eggs
to keep her feet
as light as the birds
so she could dance
ever higher
and fox trot
with the clouds
and mingle with the stars.
the habitants of the sky
so much more interesting
and more graceful dancers
than human partners.

she was the best dancer
of all the humans,
her feet tiny and nimble,
as if they had their own
feathery wings.

she was unaware
that her ego had become
heavier than her
tiny body.
the air grew tired of lifting her
and simply left her to fall.
she plummeted back to earth
past a dusty grey
elephant swimming through the clouds.

“how are you here swimming,
and I am falling”
she demanded to know.
“you chose to be better
than anything that helped you
along your way, including the air.
An elephant never forgets
to tell the air
‘thank you for choosing me’”


Tuesday, April 16th (inspired by that same photo, and a line I jotted down in a note on my phone a long time ago, and a bit from reading the last book in the Wicked series)

be where your feet are
track each step
every foot fall
plot them out like a map
you will always know where you are.
be aware
be aware
the wrens sing to you
the flying monkeys are hot on your tail
when you start flying with them
floating with the stars and lightning bugs
swimming with the elephants
you will no longer be able to be tracked.


~Choose Love~



Perhaps more prose than poem today, more story than anything else, but I am posting it anyway.

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Digital knew her human
wouldn’t come to her world.
Her human wasn’t that type of person,
the type to code a life in Digital World
and live there.
Her human stayed in Real World,
and used only a few of the benefits
from Digital World.
Her organizational services were a good example of this.

Since her human wouldn’t come to her,
she had to resort to following her human
as best she could
when there was a signal,
when her human took a photo,
released a geo tag into the world.
She hoped that her human would
one day understand
and join her in Digital World.

She made her human little trinkets of their travels,
maps to go with photos,
boxes decorated with Real World memories,
little photo books…
She couldn’t exactly make them herself,
but in Digital World it was quite easy
to find a human willing to help
construct something in Real World.

Her human could never understand
that she was behind
these little trinkets showing up,
that they came from her.
This made her even more lonely.


An intriguing title for a blog post, especially if like me you live in Minnesota. We won’t talk about it beyond that, except to say that my title does have a reason. More on that in a bit.

Today was one more day in the ‘make all the things’ weekend! I felt quite distracted today though, and feel like I didn’t get as much done as I could have, even though I still accomplished a lot. Tomorrow is a new day, however, and even though I do have to work part of the day, I will still have a lot of time to devote to my artwork. We’ll see what that brings.

I did start work on my second triptych box!

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I’m excited with where this box is going. It will be quite different from the first, though it will have the same form.

The most important thing to me today is the fact that I finally feel like I am pulling these pieces together into one show with one theme. I know it is easy for me to see the connections between the pieces, but not always that easy for someone else to see. I think I finally know how they will all be presented this time, and that I think will tie everything together quite nicely.

Part of my distraction today was caused by The Princess, who seemed a bit upset by the storm and needed help making a place to burrow. I helped her come up with this little set up, and she seemed to settle down.

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She keeps life interesting around here.

I had a hard time getting started on a poem today. I finally ended up sort-of using a prompt from Hazel and Wren’s blog to write about a fireplace. My poem is about a bon fire instead of a fireplace, but it was a good prompt to use. It made me think about great summer nights spent with my cousins outside by the pool.




goldenrod flames reach towards
the oak and pine trees that stand
a tall guard around us
just far enough back
to not get burned.

sparks swirl up
joining a clear navy blue sky
full of as many tiny stars
as you can see from the city.

the smell of chlorine
burned marshmallow sugar
wine coolers
root beer
wet dog
and watermelon
mix together.

a little further out
the flicker of citronella
tiki torches spot the dark
stone path with light
the glow of the pool lights
casting a neon blue green beyond that.

we swim until we feel
like we will never ever be dry again
eat toasted marshmallows and s’mores
until we could explode
then eat a giant watermelon between us.

damp and sticky i bike home after
knowing we’ll do this all over again soon.

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