Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Sunday, December 14, 2014
|photograph by Robert Doisneau|
Oh, for war's sweet end,
to be grounded in home,
freed from the smells
of gore—I mean glory.
We kiss and
and would do it again
do it all over again,
not me, not us, but them
they'll do it again
for there's always a them—
a new wave of them
who yearn for the glory
of the lock and load,
for the trill of the bugle
and the fame of a kiss.
This image comes from Magpie Tales, the blog dedicated to honing the pens of poets and writers.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
I recently found an old journal from a creative writing class in college in which I jotted down everything that teacher said. She told us that the highest form of art is literature and all art is about loss. I didn't understand that at the time, but I wrote it down, sitting on the edge of my seat and taking it all in. It seemed deep, like the Albert Camus novel,The Plague, which my sister gave me to read when I was only thirteen. She had high hopes for me, and I knew I was supposed to like it, but I didn't understand it.
When my brother's house burned to the ground, I wrote a poem. When we found out a family member had cancer, I wrote a poem. When my mother broke her leg and my father couldn't get out of his chair, I wrote a poem. Driving home from the hospital and forgetting the order of the Sorrowful Mysteries, I wrote a poem.
I just found out this morning that Galen Hayes, known in the blog world as Mr. Knowitall, the host of the Friday Flash 55 I participated in for several years, has died. In one of his last posts he wrote, "Thanksgiving is not about Black Friday sales, or kicking off the Christmas shopping frenzy, it's about family, friends, and the joy of living." I did not know Galen personally, yet felt I did. I sat here and cried for this man I never knew but who touched my life and encouraged me to write my best. I would write an eulogy in 55 words but it seems this would cheapen the loss his family must now live with.
I feel guilty, relying upon tragic events for inspiration, taking advantage of misfortune to compose a sonnet, using the pain of others as fodder for my writer's ambition, my selfish dream of one day being remembered. Must we experience tragedy and hardship to write anything worth writing? Can a youth unbowed by life write anything that will last beyond their years?
And what about memoir? After writing one, will your family still talk to you? Will they smile when they see you, or will a cloud of hostility color your gatherings, making you an outlier at the table? As a writer, if we aren't telling the truth, is there any point in writing at all? In the back of this old bedraggled journal I'd scribbled, "Write the truth as you know it." With memory such a fickle creature, that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Then there is also what Emily Dickinson so wisely said, "Tell the truth, but tell it slant." I like that. Goodbye Galen. I will miss you.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Sunday, November 2, 2014
The pavement is littered with salt crystals
embedded in the asphalt like diamonds.
The salt will drain off into the sewers
and end up in surrounding wetlands
and ground water, like toxic deicing sludge.
We walk the parking lots looking for trouble,
stare at people with our theater eyes.
I'm happy to make it back into a Flash 55 community, thanks to The Imaginary Garden With Real Toads who picked up the mantle when our Mr. Knowitall (Galen) dropped it to reclaim his offline life. I've missed the 55's so thanks to all of you Toads!
If anyone has a piece of fiction in 55 words they'd like to share, go to the link above and proceed from there. I must confess, this piece, while fiction, is loosely based on facts.
Hope everyone is having a creative weekend.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Boys pace the pavement
in sweat darkened T-shirts.
Girls with pink hair huddle on the curb.
In The Country
She wears red fox around her neck
to keep her warm.
She drinks wine with musicians in the mountains
who make music that will outlive them
and the fire they sit around.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
The image prompt comes from Magpie Tales a blog dedicated to honing the craft of writers and poets and keeping the muse alive, even when it has been ignored and neglected. For me, this image was fraught with contradiction from the barren landscape and barbed wire to the casual expression on the face of the runner, as if someone had just called her name, or asked her a question. She isn't dirty and she isn't sweating, yet she runs. Like a poem, or a short story, it leaves us half circle. The ending is ours to compose.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
On the first warm night of the cool summer she wore the sarong she bought in Venice where everyone was beautiful. The fabric was soft as a sigh and brought back the surf that smelled like seaweed and the beach littered with what the ocean didn't need and the muscle volleyball game and the blackest man in America who mimed on the boardwalk. Candle wax from the last time she'd worn it had hardened in little droplets down the front. She could get it out with an iron and a piece of paper towel. But it would have to wait.
The rain came across the fields like wind through corn and what had to be done because he was gone overtook the carefree evening. She took off the sarong and hung it back in the closet, changed into jeans that fit and pulled on the tall rubber boots that didn't.
note: I was going to add one of my pictures but then decided I didn't need one. Couldn't find one that fit this little snippet of life. Couldn't find a picture of emotion, couldn't take a picture of the wind, only the effect it has on things. What am I trying to say?
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
So I hung my garlic "over the drive" from the top railing on the third floor, climbing the steep staircase on your right. The old steamer trunk that sits behind the railing against the back wall is empty. I wonder what happened to the contents. Did I imagine them from my childhood?
and the winter squash and potatoes flourish.
That's it for now. Off to plant more beets and lettuce. I just wanted to wake up my blog and say hello to all. How has your summer been?
Monday, June 23, 2014
The fox slip through the poultry fence like eels through sea grass. Nothing can stop them except a ten gauge, a keen eye and a steady finger.The loaded gun sits by the back door, though I don't like it there. We guard the poultry fence towards dusk when the chickens are still outside foraging. We watch the field, the woods, the fencerow.
We can't go to town, or down the road to dinner, can't weed the asparagus or trellis the tomatoes. Here they come across the open field, bolder than fox should be. There one goes out of range at a brisk trot with a chicken in its mouth, disappearing into the woods. Feathers on the ground. Carnage in the fencerow. Buzzards overhead, cleaning up after the fox.
We mull the fate of the birds we've raised, nurtured through winter with heat lamps to ward off the frigid wind, and now move around on open pasture, water and pamper for the eggs they give us. They are just now beginning to reach their peak egg production. All the hard work through winter was just beginning to pay off.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
But wait. The whirr of the gas-powered weed whacker warns of danger. The swoop of the handle cleaves the air, dismantling everything in its path, protective goggles and gloves for the whacker in full-throttle approach. Protection for the cutthroat but none for the poppy. In one fell unsupervised swoop, the poppy is in ruins, flecks of bud (hints of salmon) lie scattered in the grass like fluffs of dandelion.
Sister presented mother with the remnants. Poppy pieces in her lap, like rose petals saved from a prom corsage.
Friday, April 25, 2014
|Willard Asylum - Lisa Gordon|
The walls sweat
like my doctor's brow.
I long to touch dry bark,
rasp my cheek along the flank of a willow,
rest a hip against the oak
at the back of the lane.
They tell me it will make me feel better.
I swallow and nod and try
to get along.
But the walls waver and sweat
like my doctor's brow.
I can tell you how that tastes.
I want the sandy lane under my feet,
sand I can brush off and leave behind.
I wrote this poem for an artistic interpretation challenge from Margaret at the Imaginary Garden. This photo of the Willard Asylum in the Finger Lakes Region of New York was taken by Lisa Gordon when she toured the facility and photographed it. The asylum opened in 1869 and was closed in 1995. During the time it was operational, 50,000 patients called it home. Six thousand died there. Also of interest to me is Margaret's link to an ongoing project by photographer Jon Crispin called "The Willard Suitcases". He is photographing the contents of suitcases left behind by patients of the Willard Insane Asylum.
There are more photos of the asylum on Lisa Gordon's website here, including this one of a patient's grave, marked only by a number plate set in the ground.
|Willard Grave Marker - Lisa Gordon|
Friday, April 11, 2014
|Boat In The Moonlight - Odilon Redon|
and the boat was found
but not the old man.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
but the thaw has begun.
only leaves and corn husks float
in the debris of spring.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Nothing except in things.
So, I've decided to write a memoir, triggered by a contest notice. I'd never thought I had a life others would want to read about, but as I thought this over, I decided that wasn't true and began to dig around in my head for the childhood events that stand out like signposts. As one was unveiled and examined another emerged, like trees in a fogbank.
Do you ever wonder what made you the person you are today? How you got to where you are, why some things matter to you and other don't? What your career choices have been and the people you are attracted to and the ones who repel? Writing a memoir is to take an untraveled road of discovery. And I've had the strangest, most vivid dreams of places and things and people I've not thought about in a long time. Do you wonder at the mother-lode of memory buried in our brains, waiting to be brought to light and shared?
I'm an environmentalist because my father is and my grandfather was, as was his and so on. Though they didn't call themselves that, any farmer who farms the land in a sustainable way and raises grazing animals while adhering to the time-honored practice of husbandry, is essentially an environmentalist. On road trips, Dad was constantly pointing out things of interest, from a herd of cattle to a hawk to the setting sun. He never let nature go unnoticed and while we might have been prone to day-dreaming in the backseat or squabbling about who was touching who, he drew our attention out the window to the vista in front of us or the one behind.
So that is one signpost in the road I've traveled to become the person I am today. But there are things I'm afraid to write about too, as sure as the fog will lift and the noise intrude. It takes a lot of courage to write a memoir and I commend the masters of this genre, namely Jeannette Walls who wrote The Glass Castle. And while I never led that nomadic of a life, it hasn't been one without interest and intrigue.
I've always found the idea of a "residency" intriguing. This farm might serve as my residency, except family obligations and chores always interfere. Life intrudes. That's the beauty of a true residency. Nothing intrudes between you and the writing. Dare I apply for a residency? Could I be gone for two weeks to participate in an endeavor that society places little value on? Many would see it as selfish and self-absorbed. I would see it as the gift and opportunity of a lifetime.
The closest I've ever come to a residency was a friend's summer house on a wake-free lake in Gladwin. I stayed there by myself for three days, nothing but loons, lily pads, jumping pike and grazing cattle in a field on the other side. I loved every single solitary minute. I wasn't afraid. I spread my manuscript out around the living room (itself, a luxury) and let it absorb every waking moment, stopping only to eat and sleep. In three days I edited fifty pages, wrote a poem and penned two or three sentences of another idea. Think what could be done with two weeks!
Friday, March 28, 2014
so I labored long over rhythm and rhyme,
Sunday, March 16, 2014
In Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray", many universal truths are revealed between the lines of convoluted verbiage. Just as there were plodding passages I skimmed over, there were glittering sparks of dialogue and introspective pondering, which caught me by the feminine equivalent of "the balls".
I wanted to share a few of my favorite lines that made me stop and think.
- "Each of us has heaven and hell in him."
- "Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man's face. It cannot be concealed. People talk sometimes of secret vices. There are no such things. If a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the molding of his hands even."
- “To get back one’s youth, one has merely to repeat one’s follies.”
- “Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”
- “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”
- “He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.”
- “The lad was premature. He was gathering his harvest while it was yet spring.”
- “No civilized man ever regrets a pleasure and no uncivilized man ever knows what a pleasure is.”
- “He had told the girl whom he had lured to love him that he was wicked, and she had laughed and answered that wicked people were always very old and very ugly. What a laugh she had!—just like a thrush singing. And how pretty she had been in her cotton dresses and large hats! She knew nothing, but she had everything that he had lost.”
Friday, January 24, 2014
and spread it on our bread?
One molecule from plastic
should be their claim instead.
Round-up in the waves of grain
they took her breast by knife.
The deer steer clear of GMOs,
amphibians the coast.
Let’s all melt some Tupperware
and spread it on our toast.
If you like butter on your toast, let the G-Man know!
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Even as a child, she was drawn to the night
when the air was soft and fraught with life.
He, too, a child of twilight—
mysterious boy boomerang in his belt.
Was my father’s, he said,
dog circling, divining the night air.
Fingers entwined, he taught her to throw
so it would always come back.
If it's Friday, or Friday Eve, it's time for Flash, Flash 55. This weekly event is hosted by the G-Man who loves fiction with a plot and 55 words.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
In the midst of this deep freeze, something called me from bed at five in the morning. Minus thirteen degrees outside, and the furance runs without pause. Why am I not still bundled in bed with a pillow over my head? Because of the poem that won't leave me alone?
It's the snow, it's the snow, deep and blowing and more
and the road is not there nor the drive nor the fields
nor silo with its rounded white globe.
The birds have all fled to the wood and the cows
bury their noses in sweet fragrant hay.
The bull dreams of grass and the sun on his back
and the chickens fluff their feathers, heat lamps under their wings.
It came quietly in the night, like pirates boarding a ship,
blanketed the Queen Anne's Lace gone to seed in a ditch
then bestowed billows of white on the evergreen boughs
and laid down ruffles of lace up to their waist.
The car lies like a behemoth under a quilt
and the bird feeders are frozen and covered with snow.
So still, so still.
But then the wind stirred on a rotational pull
and with hackles raised, set off in pursuit.
It rallied the snow, which must be put in its place,
must be molded and banked and taught to behave
and now white is the sky and the roof of the barn
and the house and the field where wheat once grew tall.
A little brown sparrow lands on my sill,
she lands in a candle nestled in snow.
Soft and brown at my window, right there at my window,
this little winged creature quivers and shakes,
under stalks of arugula gone to seed in a vase.
Eyes dart to and fro, tis a mean trickery,
these stems bereft of seeds but decked out prettily
in white Christmas lights.
What’s its use asks the sparrow,
so fragile yet hardy of wing and sinew
It has no seed or shelter, it’s nothing to me.
So wise, the sparrow, poised to leave. To leave.
The Christmas tree hauled outside on the porch—
denuded of finery yet beautiful still—
has blown off in the gale,
but its branches are thick
and welcoming still
as on that night in the lot
when we chose it over
She flies into the winter of my spent Christmas tree,
disappears from sight but I know she's in there.
Then joined by a junco who was lost in the wind
a chubby little junco, charcoal blue and lost gray.
then, look! a fat dove skitters onto the porch,
wings flutter and clap and he joins them in there.
All so hardy and knowing and independent of me.
Thank you for reading my long weather poem. I couldn't seem to stop. But one more thing before I go, from Book Riot, this past week comes a list of ten wonderful Kurt Vonnegut quotes. If you've stayed with me thus far, I would leave you with my favorite.
"The America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries."
Friday, January 3, 2014
Someone poured a stein for the deceased
and set it on the mantle.
It had warmed but wasn’t flat.
The sun danced off the lake
which should have been ice-covered
but was as bare as the hands
wrapped in a rosary.
Let them wonder that you walked
amongst their grieving
and finished your final beer unfettered.
If you ever drank a dead man's beer, let the G-Man know. Write a flash piece of fiction in exactly 55 words and let the most gracious host know. Cut it up right. And have a Happy New Year!