Book Review: Where the Butterflies Pray by Susie Clevenger


Where the Butterflies Pray

by Susie Clevenger

5/5 stars

Susie Clevenger has done it again. I read her collection over several months, though highs and lows. The light and comfort in her words found me. Nature, truth, freedom with a hint of salvation became themes of a spiritual journey. I think the author took me to a place beyond religion, where beauty and complexity thrive and everyone is thankful for its presence. Add to this the cover art, which could not be more beautiful. Where the Butterflies Pray is somewhere to discover and awaken sleeping portions of your mind; somewhere to find questions and begin the path toward answers.


IVD 5: My Journey in Haiku

Indievengence Day is a yearly event in or around Dallas, Texas. Indie authors gather from across the state and sometimes continent to hangout and sell books to the public. This year was my fifth year attending. I decided to do something special and haiku my journey from Ohio down South.


It’s an adventure,

Bilbo Baggins would be proud

Smaug flies United.


Look at me awake

Before the airport crawls to

Life, ha, ha, ha, ha.



Coffee with a shot

Of espresso wakes me up

Before I go go.


Aggressive pat downs

And judgement for my wallet

Left outside the bin.


She carries a small

Generator, her home lost

To the hurricane.


A boat captain ret-

Urns to the Virgin Islands

Bringing them supplies.


They handed me a

Cookie in the dark and I

Ate it willingly.


Turbulence tells me,

“Welcome to the friendly skies”

As the light turns down.


The stars at night are

Big and bright deep in the heart

Of Dallas, Texas.



The prairie sky is

Wide and high deep in the heart

Of Dallas, Texas.


I bounced on the bed

And promptly rolled off, because

I’m a Hufflepuff.


No hot water but

I get to see my friends and

They think I’m Batman.



Orange sherbet sassy

Pink hair attitude rocks that

She’s got on cape cod.

(Written with Susie Clevenger)


Blood sugar was all

Right despite a breadstick scare

Now I can drink juice.


A shot of orange juice,

Quesadillas for breakfast –

Makes it old fashioned.


Grumpy bear needs Ad-

Vil PM before his C-

PAP or he’s cranky.



Books are ready to

Sell but I’m thinking of clash-

Es in St. Louis.


It’s on with bells and

Scattered inky residue

Conveying mischief.

Dallas 3.jpg


Searching for Mc. D’s

Hoping for a bagel sand-

Wich or a coffee.


Discussing landscapes

Of Yosemite makes the

Day more interesting.



Let’s go, poetry!

Reading, sharing, loving it?

That’s the money shot.


Behind the scenes, yo

Slaying rhymes up at a desk.

I’m that freaking cool!

Dallas 5


It isn’t shots of

Kamikaze or Sex on

The beach, but what is?



People are flying

To Chicago but I hear

It might be windy.


Attention, there will

Be a prayer service across

From D-22.

Ten Authors in Frisco, Texas!



2 Haiku


Ocean heard through walls

The slow roll of TV sounds

An inner sadness.


Towels folded like

Sky is indiscernible

But we are nothing.


© Ben Ditmars 2017


Photograph Courtesy of Susie Clevenger


The World Famous Haikube Post

Two weeks ago at IndieVengence Day book signing in Frisco, Texas I asked some of the most talented poets I know to help me write haiku with blocks known as Haikubes. These blocks have words and phrases to arrange into 5-7-5 syllables. I was very grateful for their hard-work and support.



Haikube by Mary Ann Moody


Haikube by Ben Ditmars


Haikube by John M. Moody


Haikube by Susie Clevenger and Ben Ditmars


Haikube by Clay Giles


Haikube by Terri Malek and Ben Ditmars


Haikube with James William Peercy


Haikube by Melissa Miller Zaro


Haikube by Amber Jerome Norrgard



And Now a Poetic Interview with Susie Clevenger!

Susie Clevenger is amazing. There is no other way to put it. She reads and writes with such passion, and is also one of my favorite photographers. In fact, her picture of my book is the header for this blog. Her influence is essential, and I can’t imagine where the world would be without her. But, I’ll let her take it from here…

Me dark2 (1)

Susie Clevenger is an author, poet, and amateur photographer. She was first published at the age of fifteen in Missouri Youth Write. She is author of the poetry collections, Dirt Road Dreams and Insomnia’s Ink. Her work has been featured in the online publications, The Creative Nexus, Poetry & Prose Magazine, The Brinks Gallery, The Global Twitter Community Poetry Project, and Journey of the Heart. She is a member of the Academy of American Poets, The Poetry Society of Texas and coordinator for the Blog Talk Radio program the Creative Nexus Café™. Susie resides in Houston, Texas with her husband, Charlie.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I am a 64 year old poet/author who calls Houston, Texas home. I have been married to my husband Charlie for 45 years and have two daughters. I love blues music, dancing and finding the humor in life. Oh, and I have ADD. I am a blond with a legitimate reason to be referred to as scatterbrained.

When did you start writing poetry?

I started writing poetry my freshman year in high school. After high school I stopped writing it. Why? I don’t know. It was a car accident in 2006 that reanimated the poet in me. A severe concussion + brain damage = poetry.

Do you have a favorite poet/poem?

There are so many wonderful poets, but Edgar Allan Poe was the first poet I was introduced to in my Freshman English class. I had a lot of dark secrets in me and his work helped me to voice it. I like to call him my godfather of verse.

Does music inspire you? What kind?

Goodness, I am not sure where to start with music. I’ve already mentioned blues music, but I love all kinds of music. One moment I might be listening to my friend Mike Zito, the next classical. I actually have Bach playing in the background as I’m writing this. I think because I can’t play an instrument other than my iPod I am urged by listening to music to fill that void with poetry.

Do you write on the computer or in a notebook?

I actually write on both. I have journals all over the house, in my car, in my purse to store thoughts before I lose them. I tweak most of my work on the computer. One reason is if I get stuck in the creative process I can search the web for quotes, photos, music, etc. to break down the wall of writer’s block. I literally have the world at my fingertips.

If you could write a poem anywhere, where would it be?

It would be where I do most of my writing, my library. I am surrounded by my photography, a messy desk and books. It is a little piece of the world that is totally me.


Originally found on my post Writing Spaces.

What do you enjoy most about writing poetry?

It is the freedom to say whatever I want without censor. It doesn’t mean I share all of it with the world. Writing poetry is therapeutic for me. I can “write out” whatever is troubling me. It is the joy of participating in art. I can paint with words what I lack in talent to paint with a brush.
If you could hang out with any poet, who would it be?

I don’t know. I really haven’t even thought about it, perhaps Emily Dickinson. I am a fan of her work and love her punctuation style. I find myself at times following a similar style. It gives a feeling of blank space that teases or encourages the reader to fill in the lines.

If you could physically fight a fellow poet, from any point in time, who would they be?

I don’t want a physical fight unless it is a pillow fight. Charles Bukowski would be interesting
to pillow spar with. I imagine he would carry quite a wallop though.

Have you read or performed poetry live at slams or open mic?

I haven’t really done either of those. My public poetry readings have been in a poetry group and sadly at the funerals of my parents and in-laws. Maybe I should try a slam or open mic.

Why does nothing rhyme with orange?

It is a bright colored loner. I suppose it has dared the world to find a rhyming word, but the English language hasn’t taken the bait to spin a new word into its vocabulary

Do you post your poetry online?

Yes I do. Why not? The internet is google exploration. My poetry may be the very words
someone needs. At least that is my hope.

Do you put your writing into pictures to share on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook?

Yes. I often search images for inspiration. I am not very talented in Photoshop, but I like trying
my hand at creating an image to fit my words.

What is the most difficult poetry to write? Are there any forms you dislike?

There are so many poetry forms I find I have no competence with. One of the hardest things for me to do is rhyme. It is always a struggle. I feel the poem reads like someone tried all they could to find words that rhyme. I do have small success when the poem is geared for a child or has a nursery rhyme hint to it.
Do you believe anyone can learn to write poetry? Do you think anyone can enjoy reading it?

No I don’t. I think a passion for the art form is what is required to sustain any effort. Well, I suppose anyone can write a poem, but not all who write them are poets, if that makes any sense. Not everyone will enjoy reading poetry. There are preconceived notions about poetry that turn people away from it. I know I see the letdown in people’s faces when I tell them I am an author. Then there is the question as to what I write followed by the deflated “oh.”

Where do vanishing objects go? Remember to phrase your answer in the form of a riddle.

Seen becomes unseen when toes stand on end to chase what lies on the other side of the fence.

What project(s) are you currently working on, poetry or otherwise?

I am tossing around ideas for my 10 minute spot on the Creative Nexus Café’s blogtalk radio show coming up on October 25th.

Would you like to share a poem with us today?

Sylvia and Wings

“Is there no way out of the mind?” ― Sylvia Plath

I cup the quiet in my palm;
feed it imperfect thoughts,
and wait for dreams
to grow from incapable.

Where is the good witch,
red sequined shoes,
a thrice repeated wish
to take me out of my mind?

Tomorrow is the butterfly I chase.

©Susie Clevenger 2015


Find more about Susie Clevenger:


IndieVengeance Day 2015

Last week I traveled to Dallas for an annual book signing known as IndieVengeance Day. We get together, the indies and I, once a year and hang out. We also sell books: small books, big books, books that climb on rocks. Okay, none of them climbed rocks, but a couple have ghosts, and that’s just as good.


The journey started in the air…


Photograph by Jacqueline Smith

But quickly involved books and stress cubes.


Photograph by Jacqueline Smith

Hey, poetry!


Photograph by Jacqueline Smith


Photograph by Jacqueline Smith

The books and their Davros. Muahaha.


Scott’s fortune cookie predicted a photo bomb.


And there was this yummy croissant.


Photograph by Claudette Peercy

The Justice League prepared to fight evil… and sell books.


Photograph by Claudette Peercy

After Red Lobster. Don’t we look full?


I found this steer at the airport.


My last view of Dallas.


It was an incredible event filled with my favorite people on earth. Once more, my deepest thanks to Amber Norrgard for all the hard work she did setting everything up.

You can find information on the authors in attendance here:

Julie Frayn

James Peercy:

Amber Jerome-Norrgard:

Stacey Roberts:

Paula Walker Baker:

Jacqueline E. Smith:

Debbie Watts Reece:

Susie Clevenger:


Book Review: Insomnia’s Ink by Susie Clevenger


Insomnia’s Ink

by Susie Clevenger

5/5 stars

Susie Clevenger is a seasoned poet, writing with all the force of years behind her. I have probably read this book three or four times already (to be honest, I’ve lost count). There is a high mastery of structure and emotion in her verse from which the reader cannot easily escape. I find myself drawn back to the comfort and truth she delivers so readily. Tremendous poetry for those who wish to understand and feel.


Hard War

caffeine speeds up
a relationship, hard war
engraved in conversation
less vivacious than before
amoxicillin, low-cut
moxie kicking in.

© Ben Ditmars 2015


Photograph Courtesy of Susie Clevenger

Find her website here.


Dirt Road Embers

Listen to me read my found poem composed of various titles. You can find more on Story Time Friday with Rob Zimmermann here.