"Two wrongs may not make a right but a thousand wrongs make a writer.”

Monday, September 26, 2022

The Story Of Little One Leg

With drenching skies overhead and gusty wind rattling the windows, it's a good day for a story, and a good day for soup. 

After soaking in a saltwater brine overnight, little One Leg is in the pot. He lost a leg while just a chick, but he was a survivor, a gutsy little fighter.

Earlier this summer, we had a racoon problem. The crafty creatures with their long fingers (five, mind you) could reach between the small openings in the wired sides of the pen to grab vulnerable baby chicks by the legs or wings. We had several dismembered in one night before we could reinforce the sides of the pens with a second reel of wire.

Most of those small birds died, bleeding out, but little One Leg somehow healed and thrived. Our daughter grew fond of his plucky endurance and catered to him, making sure he had food and water and named him (first mistake) One Leg. Even so, he never got over three pounds after his traumatic start in life. She doesn't know he's in the pot.

Growing up on a farm, you become accustomed to what humans see as nature's cruelty. But mother nature is smarter than we. It's all in sync and, perhaps, beyond our understanding, but my daughter grew up in a town before moving to a city, and then to a bigger city, so the transition back to the farm for what was supposed to be a relaxing summer sabbatical has been a trying one. But........

she loves homemade chicken noodle soup. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

A Dark Shining

Headlights pierced the gathering fog
and swept the side ditch and the

barbed wire fence.

 

Hypnotized by the sameness of nothing—

the fallow fields of winter—

I reached for the radio dial when out of the gloom

a lurching figure appeared.

 

All legs—a wendigo?chase curtailed?

The headlights pierced the jellyfish eyes

of the crazed creature, its back legs snared

on the barbed wire of the fence.

 

Hung with weight, the doe lunged for freedom

over and over like the pendulum of a clock.

Her companions having long since

cleared the fence.


It's open link weekend at Earthweal  and the forum stays open until midnight. Lots of time!

Happy Sunday Funday from the sweltering Thumb of a changing world. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Patty's Spaghetti

It's the heart of tomato season with a hint of autumn on the air, and once again I find myself making Patty's Spaghetti. I first posted this recipe during hunting season in 2008, and I figured most of you didn't know me when.

After walking down our gravel road with gunshots going off in the woods all around me and a bowl of spaghetti under my coat to deliver to the folks, I decided to write about the experience and share my mother's old recipe.

At the time, I clearly remember wondering, if you are hit by a bullet, do you feel it? Does it hurt? What if one hit my bowl of spaghetti, sauce down my coat and in my hair. What would they eat for dinner? 

PATTY'S SPAGHETTI SAUCE

1 handful of sliced fresh mushrooms
2-3 cloves of garlic (as much as you like)
2 large onions, several stalks of celery
diced and simmered in a stick of butter
until translucent.
Add 2 quarts of canned tomatoes
tomato paste
1 bay leaf, 1 t. oregano
2 t salt and 2 t pepper
Homemade meatballs.
Or you can chunk it up
with winter squash if you don't have
a good local source for pastured beef. 
Simmer all day on the stove,
stirring frequently (don't burn it like I just did)
Your sauce will thicken as it simmers

addendum:
Best with real garlic bread made with minced garlic drenched in melted butter and toasted in the oven. Don't buy Texas Toast. Ewww look at the ingredients!

Monday, September 12, 2022

No Bullshit. Just Books. And Farming......

 Because it seems the only writing I have time for in the summer is my farm newsletter, I feel compelled to share part of one here. My blog needs entries and followers and more attention then I can properly give it.  But first, an important caveat, meet my publisher.  UNSOLICITED PRESS.   "No bullshit. Just books." For all you poets out there, they publish a good deal of poetry. And, of course, cutting edge fiction.

Now, for the dirt.

                                                               Sister

                                            Earlier Tomatoes

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. The rain in the Thumb falls mainly elsewhere. Sister swears there was a sprinkle in the night, a mist, a dewdrop, a splattering of wind, a phantom in the night on a whoosh of vapor.

 

I woke to a full moon, the light shining on the plastic of the high tunnel stretched taut across the braces. The air is still and the crickets chirp. I step outside to test the air, the dampness on the wide walk, a trace of rain in the night. The moon rides high in the sky, a beacon over the Earth, and a car passes swiftly on the road. The eastern sky is bright with the new day, yet still the moon outshines it, high above the highest tree that banks the creek bed. The rain gauge measure three-tenths of an inch. We've been extremely dry so count the tenths as a blessing.

 

Thus begins the day—coffee time, writing time—till the rooster crows, the cat jumps on the windowsill demanding breakfast, and the corgi thumps up the stairs, all thirty pounds of him, wanting outside. He likes to chase the chickens, but with the new poultry fence installed none are getting out, and his fun has been stymied.


This week our CSA contains our second planting of cabbage. We planted more lettuce and hid it from the rabbits. The summer has wearied us with his weirdness. In checking last year’s garden log, I pulled all the winter squash between Sept. 1st and the 8th. Here we are, as I write this, on September 12, 2022 and none appear ready. I thump the watermelons with my knuckles waiting for the hollow drum sound, I turn the acorns in search of the telltale ground spots. I wonder what imp stole my eggplant for surely there had to have been more. We pull onions to dry and wonder why they are small. We pray the peppers will turn red before frost. Our major successes have been our beets, chard, tomatoes, and garlic. What garlic is left must be saved for replanting, and we need speak no further on the tomato bounty.


For those of you who don't know (or care?) the tomato harvest has been phenomenal. Heirlooms can be finicky, but this summer's heat has agreed with them. Even the Costoluto, the Italian heirloom that craves Mediterranean heat, has been happy here in the Great Lakes Basin. 


Now, back to writing before I have to pick up the hoe.


Over and out and hoping for comments. I insist, some day I'm going to be famous. 😃📖📖

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Good Day For A Burning

Grass won’t grow where the barrels were stored.
Three seasons gone; it wasn’t easy.
But then it wasn’t hard.
He cleansed the ditches with burning
And crossed the Rubicon.

Three seasons gone—sprayers, masks, drums that bled.

He took back the cultivator for weeds that don’t

glow in the dark—stooped into his father to embrace

the old ways. With each sluice of the plow

clean dirt is turned. But nothing will grow

on the north side of the shed.

 

Trees denuded by a weakened sun

are stripped bare as the arms of a refugee.

Unplucked apples, like rosy knuckles,

drop to ground and cling

to the bank of a dry creek bed.

 

We warm our hands at the burn barrel.

The jovial days of fall—

the kicking up of leaves—

passed in the night some nights ago.

It was a good day for a burning.

 

But nothing will grow where the barrels were stored



Posted with thanks to Poets and Writers for the writing community they embrace and Earthweal for their open link weekend prompting us to post a favorite poem.  I wrote this while my father was still alive. He liked it. 


Monday, August 8, 2022

What Summer Makes Us Do

Beets simmer in the pot
as the sun burns a path
through the archetypal mist of dawn.
Ferns hang limpid in the dew
and cattle low from the hilltop.
Mary hangs sheets from the line in her underwear
slapping out love from the folds.


Penning a poem of just 44 words to make up a Quadrille for dVerse, the pub where poets hang out. 
For Quadrille #157 the only other requirement is the inclusion of some form of the word type. I may  have stretched that a bit. Check out the pub!!


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Submitting to Literary Journals

I just received an acceptance notice for a short story in Ohio's very own Slippery Elm Literary Journal. Founded in 2013, the Slippery Elm is distributed nationwide and internationally. It's name is taken from ulmus rubra, the unassuming yet versatile hardwood that flourishes in Northern Ohio. The name feels fitting, don't you think? Writers need the same  traits, in addition to having the endurance of a hardwood.

If you are ready to submit your poetry, short stories, or multimedia, consider the Slippery Elm Literary Journal.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads. 

Monday, June 6, 2022

Editorial Calendars and Garden Musing

While I'm waiting for my first edits to come back from my publisher as per the timeline set forth in the editorial calendar, I started querying agents for a second novel. I would still like to be represented by an agent at some point in my career and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to send a batch out. The Blood Red Pencil has an informative post up about acquiring an agent and there are many other sources for "dos" and don'ts", Nathan Bransford and Janet Reid being two of my favorites. 

I also need to start the process of creating an author website. Word Press has good templates and website building is a good accompaniment to the querying process. I already purchased my domain name YvonneOsborne.com so nobody can snatch it up. The plan is to put up pictures of my garden, my cat, my cluttered desk, dad's old Corona, the first strawberry of the season, etc. and start a sign up for my mailing list.

On a different track (warning...and some might find this inhumane and offensive) there was a family of baby groundhogs invading the garden, nibbling on the onion tops and the strawberry plants and eating baby cabbages when the wind blew the row cover askew. This is financial ruin to an organic gardener. You can imagine the time, sweat, and expense that goes into a one-acre garden. To cut to the chase, my sister and daughter, who were weeding the garlic, discovered the intruders hovering where the tall grass grows, but they were too squeamish to knock them over the heads with their shovels. Sister ran off to get her dog, the varmint killer, but Sarge arrived too late for they had all escaped back into the creek bed. All but one. 

An hour later my husband was on the tractor, tilling the perimeter when he spotted a furry creature on the top of the deer fence half hidden by the wild raspberry canes. He called me over to "come see!" There it was with his sharp little teeth hissing away. Hubby said, "I should have had my pellet gun with me." I was like, well knock him down. Do something! He rummaged in the built-in tool box behind the seat of the tractor and came up with a can of WD40. He sprayed the bejesus out of him. I couldn't look, but he said it dropped like a wasp under a stream of wasp spray. The underbrush was too thick to find him, so he didn't know if it killed him or just taught him a lesson.

The next morning I found a dead groundhog outside my greenhouse door. What was this? The mama dragging him by the scruff of his neck to lay him at the feet of the perpetrator?

Anyway, that's it for now. Out and about, over the bend. 


Sunday, April 17, 2022

Prose Before Hoes

I have a new hoe. 

Hoes are essential tools for the organic gardener, from the standard (grandma hoe) to stirrup hoes, collinear hoes, trapezoid hoes and hand hoes, all in different sizes for tackling different weeds. Then, reigning above the affordable, there's the almighty Glaser Wheel Hoe, a 12" oscillating hoe that has always been priced out of my reach. I secretly covet it as I browse early spring catalogs and think golly wouldn't that be sweet?  Did you even know there were so many hoes? 

But even in spring when the garlic sprigs have burst through the soil, promising summer, the pen pulls at my heart.  My take on this popular meme (Prose Before Hoes) often paired with Shakespeare's likeness on shirts and mugs, is literal.  All this cute little saying means to the writers amoungst us who deal in dirt is that instead of toiling in the garden, working up a sweat, we'd prefer to bury ourselves in writing. If we struggling poets and writers/gardeners didn't put our prose before hoes how would we ever have time to write masterpieces and assemble chapbooks? 

I suppose if I devoted more time to seedlings and markets of a different sort, I could  spring for a Glaser Hoe. But then I'd have to enlist more help and reward them accordingly and, oh well, you see the dilemma of a small time gardener who secretly wants to dabble in words the day long and live frugally.

Happy Planting-a-Tree-Earth Day, but other than the 22nd, I'm going to try to keep my prose before my hoe!!

Over and out to the dirt I go.




Friday, March 25, 2022

There There

This is an astounding literary accomplishment I highly recommend. I recently posted a review on Goodreads which I seldom do, and thought I'd share it here.


 "There There" opens with a true account of the so-called Indian Wars. A look at the underside of our rewritten history. You will never again feel the same about Thanksgiving. 

 In 1621 when the colonists invited the chief of the Wampanoags to a feast, it wasn't a thanksgiving meal. It was a land-deal meal. And two years later when there was a similar meal meant to symbolize eternal friendship, "two hundred Indians dropped dead from an unknown poison ."

And so the slaughter begins.

In 1637 several hundred Pequot gathered for their annual Green Corn Dance. "Colonists surrounded their village, set it on fire, and shot any Pequot who tried to escape. The next day the Massachusetts Bay Colony had a feast in celebration and the governor declared it a day of thanksgiving. Thanksgivings like these happened everywhere, whenever there were what we have to call successful massacres."

These are just two examples Tommy Orange relates to shine the light on what really happened four-hundred years ago, continuing (in a more 'civilized' manner) through the nineteen hundreds to present day. His is a voice never heard before.

Writing of the plight of the urban Native American, the story centers around twelve characters in Oakland, California struggling to reconcile their identity with what they know of their ancestral past (this land was once ours). For various reasons, they travel to and converge at the Big Oakland Powwow where their stories connect in a climatic way.

This is a gut-wrenching story that grapples with our painful history in a never-before published fashion, laying bare what was done to fulfill the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. I think it should be required reading in schools and universities across the country.

 

 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Turning Down The Linen


The lost sunrise, rare coin, I now lament.

So too, its flaming slide at end of day.

I can’t escape my farm girl’s sentience.

Unleash me over those fields of fresh mown hay,

Not here, where brick and steel climb up the sky,

Where wren and hawk have flown a quick retreat.

Gray smoke and stacks alike tarnish surprise,

Over a city that rumbles beneath my feet,

That busy beast that swallows every sound.

With clotted breath to water’s edge I’m drawn

Where stars appear from out the black surround.

Like fields of wheat, waves undulate in song.

And then there’s you with power to part the night.

You turn the linens down and dim the lights.


I'm pounding the pentameter for d'Verse, the poet's pub, a top destination for poets worldwide to meet and share their work.  

The challenge here from Ingrid  is to write a poem in the heartbeat of iambic pentameter. da-dum, da, dum, da-dum,da-dum. 

And then order a drink!

Monday, February 7, 2022

Flamethrower Super Heros

Finches crowd the feeders
as a masked man fills the suet
sucking in his own stale air.
We all looked alike for over a year.
Maybe to them we always did.
Masks made from tee shirts,
faded rags from under the sink,
repurposed under the foot
of dusty sewing machines
pulled out of closets.


With thread directed through the eye
of a world that tightened around us,
we grew suspicious and more alone.
In the evening we howled off porches
like wolves at the moon
          (doomed one day to follow them gone)
sang from balconies and from behind barricades
for our flamethrower super heroes
who lived in hotels and slept on cots
to save this suicidal world
from behind their masks.


With these in mind: Absence of Color from Poets and Storytellers and Earthweal (poetry for a changing world), I dusted off an old subject that went and grew legs. 

Friday, February 4, 2022

The Number Two Bus

  

The downtown line

is the Number Two bus.

It lurches forward

and bodies sway with the clutch

of the Number Two bus.

 

Home to the homeless

    (bags of belongings between their feet)

they’re out of the rain for the length of the route.

Seattle is tolerant of her homeless.

They don’t have to pay to ride the Number Two Bus.

 

A homeless man boards with a jug of eggnog

and he holds it in his lap like a baby.

Everyone looks at his gallon of eggnog.

What a sensible homeless man

with a sensible breakfast he grips with his thumb.

 

Commuters and senior citizens,

tourists and homeless all share the bus,

the dependable, rollicking Number Two bus.

 

You dropped your smile, a hard-to-place cad

    (doesn’t fit in a niche)

says to the girl who boards with a backpack.

He smirks as she looks down and around.

 

Unflappably cool, she buries her face in a book

but he got her to look,

and the homeless, the commuters, and the tourists

all laugh as the driver lets out the clutch

of the Number Two bus.



Written on our pre-covid trip to Seattle, which now seems like the good 'ol days, brought out of hiding by dVerse's prompt to write about a smile, (a smirk, a laugh?) maybe my ride on the Number Two Bus fits into the niche. Check out all the talent at dVerse when you have an extra minute!


TGIF!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

How Words Become Swords (to submit or not to submit)

 If in the dark, I can better see, I will sit up all night to decipher the day, write about my failures, from which I can learn (or should). 

So, if you have writer’s block, write about them. You might find you can’t stop. You’ll be like Jack Kerouac with a manual typewriter, a carriage return, and reams of paper on a roll, spewing out failures across the floor and out the door like the meatball that rolled off the table when somebody sneezed. 

The loneliness and ungodliness of the day past with the anticipated tomorrow on the threshold, and, well, shit. Is unholy ungodly? Unholiness. Maybe that’s the word I wanted, Mr. Word. What does Word know as it tries to tell me what is a word and what is not a word. But I love Word. I love words words wordswordswords. See how words become swords? We wield our swords to make a point. We spar and swing and pivot our way across the day and into the night as we search for the perfect word to end a story on. To send on. To enter on. To close the cover on.

********

Adam Feasting:

What if Adam ate the apple?
A rogue deceptor, a muscle man,
who climbed the tree
who shook the limb
who took a bite
and smiled it good.


To write, read and share. Poets and Storytellers. (Feast or Famine)

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

What's For Dinner?

I knew something was afoot when he went upstairs in his barn coat. He came back down with a knife that belonged to his father who grew up in Kentucky where shotguns and knives were all a boy knew. A boy who could knock a squirrel out of a tree with a slingshot became a man who went to war in the first wave. He was in a foxhole when the soldier beside him took a bullet to the head, but he aimed over the heads of the enemy and came home with a purple heart. 

The son of that man stepped back into his boots, worked his fingers into his gloves, and with the knife in one hand and a stainless-steel bowl in the other (my mother’s for whipping up cakes), went back outside in the near dark and bracing cold to skin the kill.

 

A big rabbit lived under our garden shed. I saw his tracks in the snow every morning when I let the chickens out. I knew where his entrance was and I knew his comings and goings. His circle of tracks was like a child’s game of fox and goose.

 

A big rabbit once lived under our shed.



For Poets and Storytellers my New Year's resolution is to try new recipes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Haiku - going micro

 Inspired by the prompt at Poets and Storytellers to go micro . . .

The night bird rustles
m
idst the snow-burdened branches
o
f his hidden home.

 

Smog colored sunrise

of busy men—rich cerise

for their artless ways.


 

On the snow fog morn

white lights dance around the nest

of winter’s cardinal.



A traditional Japanese form, haiku is a three-line poem written in a 5/7/5 syllable count, usually with a focus on nature. Thanks, Rosemary, for including the other forms of micro poetry in the prompt. Less is often more!

 


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

We No Longer Have To Take Off Our Shoes

Doors are left open and the cellar light on
b
ut nobody cares. Booted footsteps echo
t
hrough the empty house, like a burglar on the take
for we no longer have to take off our shoes

Bird at the window, a mirror breaks

broken glass swept into a corner—

seven years of sadness lie in wait

though we no longer have to take off our shoes.

 

Grandmother’s hand at my back as I climb up the stairs.

Drawers emptied of playsuits, notions, and books.

The railing wobbles under my hand as I climb down the stairs

to a kitchen emptied of aprons, lemon drops, extracts and pots.

Efficient emptying. There was no time for crying.

 

Crumbled brick from a sledge under the mantle he set

over the wood stove he filled till he could fill it no more.

The one loose brick that stubbed our toes

lies buried under a rubble we can no longer put back.

But we don’t have to take off our shoes.

 

Cut grass blown against the house clings

like barnacles to a hull, Birdfeeders are empty

and crows fill the trees.The maw from uprooted 

lavender is raw and wet.

Get over it, we’re told,

but the columbine and narcissus are fighting for air.

 

The rose climbs out of it, sturdy as a tree.

It holds on to the house (as old as the house),

roots embedded in the structure.

She trained it that way.

 

The purple body of a nestling

lies crumpled on the sidewalk

and a dead mouse is curled on the cellar stairs,

littered with windfall and careless debris.

 

The bewildered dog lies in the middle of the driveway

and a cat drinks from a puddle.

Hidden hostility punched a hall in the wall.

We no longer have to take off our shoes.



"Passions Stamped on Lifeless Things", so begins the prompt from dVerse  (the poets pub) for us poets and writers to focus on history. To write about any object, ship, house, building, or palace but with a link to history and the past. Notice the Stetson? Another story.



Thank you for reading and thank you Merril Smith at dVerse for enticing me to pull this one out of the archives.


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Pushcart Prize

 What exactly is it and if one gets a nomination is it worth crowing about? 

I received one for a poem recently published in the Slippery Elm Literary Journal. I was shocked, frankly, having thought those were only given out to the highly successful, upper echelon of poets and writers who rub shoulders with the gods of publishing.

I did a little research after I recovered my sense and sensibility, and while there are differing opinions (a grocery cart as my husband cracked), I found the overall consensus to be YES, it's worth crowing about. It honors the best of poetry, creative nonfiction, and short fiction published by small presses. Even though it's "only" a nomination, it affirms modest scrivenors as serious writers to a greater communtity outside the insulated one of friends and family.  

I'm not sure what the final selection consists of or who the obscure judges are, but if it goes no further for me I'm happy to have been nominated.  So.....

in spite of my usual spat of rejections and setbacks, 2021 has been a good year for me and hopefully in 2022 we will emerge from the pandemic smarter and healthier (having learned from it), with success and happiness in the wings for all of us in this small blogging community. Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Walk In The Dark

 In the quiet splendor of a predawn morn
the moon gilds the hoophouse in shiny opulence.

Lace riven configurations circle the sky

with the moon at their apex high above the earth

circling quiet, like a giant snow globe—

how could one ever think this world flat?

And I, an inconsequential ant of a being

Invades the quiet on a shuffle across the frozen grass

in my husband’s boots and a hand-me-down coat

and my daddy’s hat with the flashlight of my mother’s trepidation

in my pocket just in case.

But if you walk in the dark you see the dark,

the dark a friend if you see it thus,

but chickens need light as much as scratch and

I flick the switch in the pumphouse to juice one newly

installed that said husband thinks will fool them

into thinking we've reached beyond the darkest day

but they only blink and murmur and stir on their roost. 


An owl hootsfrom a branch with blood on his mind 

and I stop to gaze upwards in dizzying amaze

at the splendor of this quiet morn there for all to see if we but look up.

Happy Thanksgiving. May it be a peaceful one.   




Reminded to be thankful (and praising) by Brendan at Earthweal, 

with his shared story of the Austrian poet Rilke...

And if the earthly no longer knows your name

whisper to the silent earth: I'm flowing. To the flashing water say: I am.



Monday, October 25, 2021

Feeding On The Dead

 The fires took four houses down last night,

They’re miles away, we’re safe, you set me right
The darkling sky looks like a storm to me.
B
ut still I watch the sky above our game.
Y
ou made a triple word score with a Z
a
nd remind me where we are; it’ll never rain.

People have to have some place to stay—

desert rats without the sense to flee

and water is cheap pumped in from far away

to here where fires feed on the dead and leap the pass.

No looming thunderstorm those kites of black.

You remind me where we are; it’ll never rain.


The fires took four more houses down last night. 

 

 

The one-eyed bird sings

plaintive song from blackened stumps

on the clear-cut plain.



Today it's Haibun Monday at dVerse with a seasonal topic of fear. And over at Earthweal, a challenge approaching Samhein, clebrating that Day of the Dead. Let's!