Archive for the ‘parenthood’ Category

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.

Image via Wikipedia

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.

Snow Monkey   1 comment

Photograph of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Image via Wikipedia

http://snowmonkeyjournal.blogspot.com/2010/05/helen-peterson.html

This May, Snow Monkey published my poem, “Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother“. Giving credit where credit is due, the title came from a book I once bought my mother-in-law for her birthday. This was a running joke with us, since she was in her mid thirties when I had my oldest son. Her husband, my ex-husband’s step-dad, was twenty seven, but it’s funny, I never did find a Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandfather book. Freud would have something to say about that, I’m sure.

Anyway, the title may have come from a funny little book, but the body of the poem came from the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay, one of my favorite poets. According to Nancy Millford’s excellent biography, Savage Beauty, when Millay’s mother thought her daughter might be pregnant, she forced her to take multiple scalding hot baths, and ride her horse bareback up and down the valleys and meadows near their home. It was such a crazy contrast to how my own parents and in-laws reacted, it stuck with me, more than anything else in the book, and it was a very good book, worth the read if you have the time and wish to do so.

You may notice, though, that I don’t use Millay’s name in the poem. In earlier drafts I did, added more details specific to her own life. In workshopping, others found the specificity distracting, and so I applied a name I had used before, in Baby Girl poems, the fragile and distracted Sweet Baby. It added another slant to the idea of a mother manipulating her daughter’s body, even after the girl is grown into her own sexuality.

This is just one example of how I sometimes get inspired by the lives of real people, and by what I read in books. Take something you’ve read, that has stuck with you, and use it as a writing prompt this evening. When you’re done, pick up a book you’ve been dying to read.  Begin to read it with an eye for inspiration, as well as for leisure. Taste the words and stories within, mull it around your tongue with the spices from your own life. Begin to read like a writer.

Slow Trains   Leave a comment

Boston Red Sox Cap Logo

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.slowtrains.com/vol9issue4/petersonvol9issue4.html

Haiku is something that all poetry editors dread. Trust me. No, really.  As the managing editor for Chopper Poetry, the two things that automatically got put in the slush pile were the haiku and iambic pentameter. The  thing you want as an editor is the thing that is going to make people think, something they’ve never seen before. And the rules of haiku are so simple, everyone thinks they can write a good one. As my good friend and former co-editor Tom Weigel once said when we got a whole sheet covered with haiku, “that isn’t haiku. It’s a sentence.” Or, a Buzz Lightyear might say, “a sentence.. with style!”

All that being said, yes. I’ve published haiku. I write some haiku from time to time. And, on rare occasions, another editor publishes my haiku. Like the good folks at Slow Trains did this past spring, when they published “Sox-ku”.

Yes, haiku about baseball. Who knew such a thing was even possible? If you know me, you know about my undying love for the Boston Red Sox. NESN is a popular channel here in the Peterson residence. But one night, piling on the couch with the kids and the popcorn, prepping for a Big Papi night, we turned on the TV to discover that while the skies were blue down here in Connecticut, they were gray and pouring in Boston.

So it goes. I switched the TV to Cartoon Network, stole half the bowl of popcorn, and wrote this haiku instead. Anything can be a poem. Dieting, motherhood, and baseball. Sometimes all in the same afternoon. Who knew?

So tonight, on this sleepy Sunday, turn on the TV and write haiku, or sonnets, or even, if you’re ambitious, a sestina or two. Work those brains for tomorrow. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with something different enough to escape the slush.

The View From Here   Leave a comment

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/Issue/78743

In May, in honor of Mother’s Day, The View From Here published my poem The Problem With Mother’s Day. Most of my poems on motherhood have a positive slant to them, this one not so much. There is dark humor here in this  little poem, because a lot of people, especially those that do not have children, idealize motherhood and paint a picture that mothers can do no wrong. Then, when some mother does something truly horrific, it’s plastered all over the news, talking heads decrying the tarnishing of the sanctity of Mother. For a mom who is not going to murder her children or sell them into white slavery, but does have her moments where the makeup isn’t pristine, the children aren’t angels on the playground, and dinner is leftover meatloaf, this idea that anything less than the Perfect Mommy is a sin is an uncomfortable one. So, I wrote a little poem about it, and the folks at The View From Here must have a mother or two amongst them, because they accepted it and published it.

Have some dark days? Not living up to the ideals others plaster all over you? Write about it this weekend, get it off your chest.