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

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!

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Publishing Contract

I just signed a publishing contract with Unsolicited Press out of Portland Oregon. I'm so excited! It's a long process and the novel won't be published until early 2024. It seems like a long time, but I know that is to be expected. Out of the thousands of submissions they received, they said mine was one of forty projects they seclected for publication in 2023/2024. 

I wanted to share this with my blogging community, and expressly today with Poets and Storytellers.  Many of you have been so supportive over the years. You know who you are, and a huge thank you goes out to each and every one of you. And remember,  the only failed writer is the one who quits. 

Here's a toast to poets and writers who never quit!




"What do you plan to do with your one wild, precious life?"

                    -Mary Oliver


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Writing Life (and garlic addendum)

Okay, for those of  you who are wondering, the garlic was a failure. My oven's low temp of 170 farhenheit was too hot. I'm blaming my oven. The chopped-up garlic turned brown, which it mustn't do, brown and hard, yet still gummy on the inside. A dehydrator is a must and I have one somewhere in the cluttered closet of my writer's room, but for now I'm turning my efforts elsewhere: to Old German tomatoes and Italian roasting peppers for salsa, chop chop chop, basil and parsley and....oh, yes, of course garlic! Good thing I have 15 pounds set aside for my October plantings. Then there's my grandma's dark fruitcake to make, no candied fruit, just dates, figs, dried apricots and cherries. Wrapped in brandy-soaked cloth for weeks and week. (Use a low temp for  long baking, not NOT 350 F. my mistake). I have oven issues.

Getting out of the kitchen, I have some writing news. Perseverance pays. My poems (two!) are in the new issue of The Slippery Elm Literary Journal 



And in the new issue of the Midwest Review  (number 9) which will soon be showcased on their site. The Review publishes work from writers in or from the midwest region from where words percolate in obscure places.  


I have more news on the horizon about which I'm excited beyond words, so who needs a dehydrator when Indi publishers and small university journals are flourishing and our libraries are opening to stretch and stir from their pandemic lockdowns. Perseverance is my word of the day. All you writers out there, never never never give up.

Now why on earth is that rooster crowing when there is no tinge of pink in the sky? What is he crowing at? Orion charging across the sky in his new change-of-season finery? I know...he sees the light in my window and thinks I'm about to throw open his door and sow some oats.

Not even close. I have a dehydrator to find and words to write and coffee to brew. 

Over and out
for now.
Thanks
for 
reading
this
impromptu
post.


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Garlic!!

My hands smell like garlic. I've chopped and chopped, chopped the house awake. Time to get up! The sun is shinning through the evergreens, cones hanging like coconuts from the top branches. One of our trees lost its top in a straight-line wind two years ago. It's big but no longer the biggest.

Back to garlic. 

Well....I've dried parsley before in the oven, so I know this can be done, this dehydrating process. Thirty minutes at the lowest temp (170 for me) then stir, reset the timer, and repeat.  Repeat until dried and crumbly to the touch, however long that takes. Will it get crumbly? You tell me. Then I'll grind it up (to make my bread)  in my food processor to have my own garlic, um powder? Or just minced dried garlic to put in spaghetti and meatloaf and lasasgna and minestrone and bean soup with pig hocks and all those other things we turn to for comfort when the weather turns to winter.

Check out Poets and Storytellers: "The Season Turns" for seasonal thoughts from Down Under to "Up North". And I'd welcome any suggestions that will improve my chances of success on this Sunday Funday.


Thursday, September 2, 2021

God Loves Texas

 

They want to write Thomas Jefferson out of history.

Delete him like a dark chapter

from the annals of American History.

He who coined separation of church and state

is a sword in the side of righteous

who bleed, but not of wine.

 

The Dark Ages weren’t as dark

as the house their Board of Education wants to build.

With the buying power to control content,

America’s children will read what

they want them to read.

 

They soften the image of McCarthy—

His motives were pure.

Switch Jefferson for McCarthy.

There’s only so much room.

Motives justify methods

because God loves Texas.

 

To defame a person,

first misspell his last name.

Sow seeds of doubt.

Rearrange his words and cast credit elsewhere.

Remove Monticello from travel guides

and besmirch the gardens—

the vegetables he grew,

amazed at the temperate zone of a new world.

 

While at it,

rearrange the heads of the founding fathers,

Was that really John Hancock’s John Hancock?

Like the 12 apostles at the dinner table,

Mary Magdalene in the shadows.

            Rub her out

Misquote Paine to justify your actions.

Who will bother to verify?

 

While at it,

rid yourselves of those onerous voting laws

and put the pesky women in their place.

Texas needs more babies brought up right—

            In the spirit of the Lord, white seraphims on high.


Purge history of he who dared to separate

the church from the state.

As if one could take guns from the righteous

guards from the gate

inmates from their prison.

God out of Texas.

 

.

 

 Connected to the Open Link Night at the Poets Pub where the opportunity resides to wax poetic and drink ourselves into the bliss of poetry. 

 


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Good Neighbor

A wooden fence encloses her Sacramento yard
and every time she considers it
the vein in her forehead throbs
in thinking of the other side.

The neighbor’s trumpet vines climb the slats
poke through the cracks and cascade over the top,
wild, free, and untended.

His garden was once on a magazine cover,

the cornerstone of neighborhood tours.

A quiet neighbor who kept himself to himself

but passed her tips and cuttings from over the fence.

 

It was spring when he left the gate unlocked.

Her irises were in bloom, rain in the air,

the day she arrived home to yellow tape  

wrapped the length of their adjoining fence.

 

Policemen with dogs stomped the herbs

and the baby’s breath and traumatized the cat

lying in the sun on their dash across her yard

to follow the killer's path lest the trail

grow cold and dissipate like the promise of rain.

 

She walks her paths through autumn color,

checks her locks and eyes the roofline.

She tore out the grass in front and converted

it to a rose garden—a white border of shrub roses

and statuesque teas of yellow, carmine, and pink.

Waist high, they point their thrones skyward.


The prompt today from Claudia at the Poet's Pub is to write a poem about gardens and/or gardening. How could one resist? It's summer and it's all I do, even when I'd rather be writing. Thank you for reading about the good neighbor who is a no-more man and the woman who prevails.



 


Monday, May 31, 2021

Snake....a beginning

Snake climbed the ratline and glassed the ocean. A black rim of land inked the horizon. It was time to make his escape.

He wouldn’t be free until his bond was paid, and he was too young to pass time this way—blisters on his fingers, brine on his lips, and tar under his nails. He’d been wagered into servitude in a high-stakes game. He didn’t blame his father. Everyone had their vices. It amused him that they thought he’d been worth so much.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

In The Tall Grass

I met a snake on the garden path. He was green with a yellow stripe down his back, like a garden hose. He slithered across the path and into the tall grass, his head waving above the grass as he weaved his way towards the creek and disappeared. I gripped my hoe and proceeded to pick my way down the path, eyes darting to the left and to the right for the telltale ripple of another.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Allesandro of Albola


led us down the steps
into the cellar.
What the Tuscan sun began
the oak will finish.
In a separate room
racked bottles are covered in dust.
It protects them from light, he says.
He wishes to visit California
to learn more about wine.


This is a quadrille, a poem of exactly 44 words for dVerse and their prompt to celebrate wine and incorporate the word. I had no problem with this one! There is also a link there about the wine windows of Florence, invented during the bubonic plague and resurrected in  the pandemic. Allesandro gave us a private tour of the winery, (back when we could travel). He was very knowledgeable and we found it puzzling that he would want to move from the center of Tuscany to California to learn more about wine making.