Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Pirene’s Fountain 2011   Leave a comment

This image was taken in 1986 by Thierry Noir a...

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To read the poem, click here

Middle school is never easy. It’s especially tough when you’ve always been a little socially awkward. As I was. And, ok, continue to be. I think most writers, most creative people, live within their minds to a degree that interacting with other people isn’t always easy. Add to that an embarrassing childhood illness, and you’ve got a made for tv movie in the making.

Or, in my case, fodder for good poetry. A great example is the poem Pirene‘s Fountain published of mine earlier this year, entitled “When the Wall Came Down”. The wall of course refers to one of the big historical moments during my youth, Perestroika, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Also, great fodder. Especially when you combine it with preteen angst.

Today, make a list of all the defining historical moments of your youth. Thinks about where you were, what you were doing, how it impacted you, how it didn’t. Start brainstorming how one thing mirrored the other, how history could be used as a metaphor for the first person you kissed, the bully that pushed you into the mud, the joy of making the soccer team, the defeat of not gaining a part in the school play.

 

The Legendary 2011   Leave a comment

Coffee and Sunshine

Image by Frank Gruber via Flickr

The Legendary had a special Flash issue in March, and included two pieces of my flash fiction. I love being in the Legendary, because every issue is well put together, the stories and poems are always excellent, quality work. Katie and Jim have a good eye, a good ear. Thanks guys!

Male/Female is a flash about the maybes, the could have beens, that occur in our lives every day. A moment between coworkers allows a woman, trapped in an unhappy marriage, to imagine what life would be like with the IT guy. Personally, I’ve known some perfectly wonderful IT guys, and gals for that matter, but none I’d necessarily like to date. At least, not yet.

Hermit is a flash from the mind of someone terrified of the world. Written as stream of consciousness, they go to Dunkin Donuts for coffee, and survive the trip to tell the tale. Again, not necessarily a situation I’ve found myself in. I’ve been at parties where I’ve wanted to shrink into the wallpaper, but never while purchasing fast food.

It’s a fun challenge, writing from a perspective that isn’t exactly yours. Taking experiences, twisting them, expanding them in a way you’d never take them in your normal everyday life.  For example, in the novel I’m writing now, the protagonist is in the middle of a divorce from her husband, who happens to be a zombie. Divorce I’m all too familiar with, but I don’t know many zombies.

Today, try to write from a different point of view. Write from a different race, or gender, from your own. Take something you’ve experienced, and imagine how someone else might handle that same experience.

 

To read these stories, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strong Verse   Leave a comment

CREAM OF WHEAT, BOYS PLAYING FOOTBALL

Image by George Eastman House via Flickr

Strong Verse is an online journal founded by Orson Scott Card, which makes it just that much more awesome that the accepted a piece of mine this year. Ender’s Game was huge for me, many moons ago.

This poem, “Sending the Boys Out to Play”, reflects not on my own childhood, but that of my two sons. There’s eight years between the two of them, the products of two separate marriages, but the age difference has only rarely caused a problem, with the younger toddling after the older, deleting saved files on the Wii, limiting what the older can watch and play when the younger is up. My oldest is, however, extremely patient, and I have the benefit  of an extra pair of hands, another set of eyes, that I can trust. Single motherhood is never easy, you take your blessings where you can.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t still worry a bit when sending them out to play.

All three of my children, my sons and my daughter, have enhanced my life, and my writing, in ways I could have never fathomed. I am always pleased to share a poem or two with the world influenced by these amazing little people. Thanks guys. You are my sun, moon, and star shine.

 

To read the poem, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWRiMo, Day 2   Leave a comment

A Chinese buffet restaurant in the U.S.

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The word today was halcyon, a place or state of calm. I free wrote ideas for a poem during lunch at a local Chinese buffet, which was at that hour quite calm and peaceful for me. Those notes evolved into a poem about zodiacs and grandparents.

I did not get to Cain. Due to a sugar crash from pilfered Halloween candy, I just wasn’t able. I plan on getting to it again tomorrow. One problem is, is that the part I’m working on involves a character I’m just not invested in. He’s quite a cliche, a stereotype, so I’m thinking of cutting the whole section, but I’m not sure. Ergo, no action whatsoever taken.

In the works as well this month, continued work on a short story I began a few months ago about a woman divorcing her zombie husband. It’s good, and deserves some face time. So, maybe I’ll get to that tomorrow if I’m still on the fence about Cain’s latest disciple.

Halcyon, it’s a good word. At the very least, use it in a sentence sometime tonight or tomorrow. Find yourself a halcyon of your own to work in. Escape the misanthropes.

Xelas   1 comment

 

Middle East

Image by rogiro via Flickr

 

Xelas is gone. It makes me sad, because in 2008 they published one of my favorite poems I ever wrote, “Because This is Not Baghdad“. A short, quiet poem that captures a moment in time, it says a lot in a very small space.  It’s patriotic, with a twist of irony, a headline you’ll never see in the news.

I wrote this poem on a clear October day, three years ago. I had been listening to NPR in the car, the BBC world news broadcast was on, and as I listened to a story of an orphanage blown to bits in Iraq, I watched a man and his daughter walk out of Wal-Mart, lugging pumpkins in their shopping cart. The juxtaposition was perfect, and sad, and it was a good thing I had a notebook handy.

Because Xelas is no more, I’m reprinting the poem here. My hope is that as you carve your pumpkins this year you will appreciate the peace that allows for tradition to go on unchanged in our country, and remember those in our world, both in Iraq and down the street, who cannot afford such luxury.

Because this is Not Baghdad

A man dances his 7 week old daughter
in The Wal Mart parking lot
sunshine freshly peeled
pumpkins bought up the road
in the trunk, still damp
Mama behind her register, 5 minutes to go
rows and rows of bread, no lines
white– whole grain– wheat

Haruah: Breath of Heaven   Leave a comment

Northern lights on the road

Image by Tom Olliver via Flickr

To read this poem, click here

2007, when “On the Shores of Gitcheegumee” was published in Haruah: Breath of Heaven, seems like a lifetime ago. Even more distant is the even that inspired this inspirational piece about grieving, loss, and hope.

My grandmother died almost 20 years ago, but the trip to Montana my family took is fresh in my mind to this day. Growing up we made the trek to Montana by van many times, but this particular trip was fraught with roadblocks along the way. The minivan broke down in Michigan, the part needed had to be ordered, the only campground nearby with a spot for us was run by a crazy old man who hated kids.  It was like something out of a movie, but the best, and worst, was yet to come.

At weeks end, we sped across the prairies, not stopping at night, my parents taking turns sleeping. During one of the brief stops along side the road so Mom could wake up and take Dad’s place, we were blessed to see the Northern Lights, my sister and I for the first time. The next day we learned that my grandmother had passed around the time we witnessed Aurora Borealis.

My family, my life, have always been a main source of inspiration for me, and this poem is representative of some of my earliest work, drawing on one of the bigger moments. Over time, of course, I have to delve further, draw from memory buried over time, more subtle. It’s nice to look back and remember a simpler, bittersweet time.

How deep into your own memory do you go for inspiration? Have you simply skimmed the surface in your writing, or have the layers slowly been peeled away? Do some free writing, quickly writing down scraps of memory, phrases, words, see what might be hiding, waiting to come into the light.

Inwood Indiana   Leave a comment

William Blake's The Body of Abel Found by Adam...

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You can read “Cain: A Life” and “Mother” here

You can buy a copy of Issue 2, Hawthorn Road here

I have been working on my first novel. Well, not a novel, really. Don’t think I have the attention span for a novel yet. Let’s call it a novella. It’s about Cain, son of Adam and Eve, cursed to walk the earth without rest for all of time. It’s also about the people he meets along the way in modern times, mostly in the midwest section of the United States, and how they react to meeting a man who keeps moving, has no moral code good or bad, possibly no soul, and no goals. Slowly witnessing his emptiness allows them to realize, and to fill, the emptiness in their own lives. It’s happy for them, sad for Cain, who must keep moving and has no idea about the good he has done.

I started writing Cain around the end of last year, but I’d had the idea in my head for quite some time. Unfortunately, I can only work on it from time to time, here and there, before life, or other ideas for other stories and poems, overtake it for awhile. I came to a standstill around the time that I was sending out a batch of work, and decided to send what I had so far out, in the hopes that seeing it in print might encourage Cain to emerge.

So, now that it’s out, I’m patiently waiting. If you get a chance to read it, and like it, please don’t be shy about letting me know. Likewise if you hate it. I want to know what you like as well as what you hate, both will help me out a lot in getting the other 90+ pages written.

Mother is a good scary poem, perfect for this time of year. Especially if you suffer from arachnophobia.

Enjoy!

 

The Cartier Street Review   Leave a comment

Exampled of stippled gingiva,

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You can view the issue here

In 2009 The Cartier Street Review published some of my more experimental poems.  Oral Fixation was written on a challenge, to write a poem about going to the dentist. Most of us within the challenge took on the dark side of dentistry, and I was no exception. But instead of the winding narrative typical of most of my work at the time, Oral Fixation is clipped, short, random.

Night.Mare. has more of a story within it, but is still a jarring, disjointed poem. Based upon an incident in my youth, when my horse got tired and decided to lay down and roll with me riding her, and a confusing, blurred dream years after. Using the symbolic importance most women place on horses in their youth, I managed to touch on the disturbing feeling of puberty without spelling it out literally, the sense of being overwhelmed, confused, and crushed.

Is there an animal that has taken importance at some time in your life? Think there’s something you could never write a poem about, like the dentist? Try writing one or both today.

Out of Our   Leave a comment

Homeless Hoarder

Image by richardmasoner via Flickr

Read the issue here

Out of Our is a great, gritty, print zine out of San Francisco that isn’t afraid of throwing a bit of its grit on the internet as well. In my publishing history I have it down as a 2009 credit, but I actually  had two poems in the January 2010 issue.

Both “The Collector” and “It’s All Over” are sad poems illustrating a sense of loss. The Collector has never had love, and so he fills his life with things, trash picked from the ground, to compensate for the lack of people in his life. Sadly, the more trash he collects, the more humanity avoids him.

“It’s All Over” was written while watching a couple eat together at the local casino. It was obvious that while they were together, they weren’t “together” any more. Both were in their own little worlds, avoiding contact with one another, barely speaking. At that point in my life, I was used to eating alone, and was deeply affected watching this deterioration. I vowed I would never again allow myself to be caught in such a relationship. Sadly, I have not been able to keep that vow.

Today, go people watching. Don’t try to write a poem or story as you people watch, just jot down short notes you can use later. Hypothesize about their lives, put yourself in their shoes. Create.

Girls With Insurance   1 comment

Cigarette

Image by Pensiero via Flickr

http://frsh.in/60

I have worked with a number of great editors in my writing career, bu Dawn Corrigan over at GWI is one of my favorites. She saw great potential in my flash, “Breaking it Down”, but was not afraid to point out its flaws and make suggestions that made the piece even better without bruising the fragile writer‘s ego.

She was also perceptive enough to recognize that not everything in this story is fiction, and asked if I would rather have it published as non fiction. My answer was no, because then the neighbor in Breaking it Down was still my neighbor in real life, and while I seriously doubted she’d be reading the story, there was always the slim possibility that a visitor to my home might shout out to her “hey, you’re the neighbor with the fat shoulders!” if they saw her sitting out on her stoop, paperback in one hand, smoke in the other.

If the story had been published today, I might very well publish it as non fiction. There are fictitious elements to it, yes, but I’ve moved on, both physically and emotionally, from that time in my life,  and am more secure in who I am that I am willing to admit the darker sides of my life, to truly own my life, and not care as much who sees it. Rereading this story after so many months has made me realize how much I’ve changed since then. I get a little thrill of joy rereading it, not just because it’s well written, but because it’s therapeutic to look back, and appreciate what you had then, and have now.

So today, nonfiction. Put real people in your stories, without disguising them, without fear of hurt feelings or recriminations. Let your stories speak freely.