Archive for the ‘poetry’ 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.

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juked 2011   5 comments

Steacie Science and Engineering Library at Yor...

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To read the poem Between Meals, click here

Getting laid off is hard. Getting divorced, is hard. Put them together, you have the hell that was my 2010.

The lay off was made better, or worse, by the fact that the school system offered me another job, that I wasn’t necessarily qualified for, that I hadn’t spent years and money training for. A job that took me out of the library and into numerous classrooms, with nowhere really to safely store my purse, my lunch, no desk or shelf of my own. Coming from three years of pretty much having a giant library to myself, that was hard. I almost didn’t take it, but had to weigh in the economic needs of my family, including health insurance.

So, I took the job, and this poem is born from that experience.

Happily, another library position became available and I was able to leave that other position, with no regrets. It turns out, this is a better place for me than my old library would have been had I stayed, so the lay off was a good thing. God knows what He’s doing.

Today, write about an unhappy or uncomfortable situation. Between Meals is,  I think, one of the best poems I’ve ever written, that comes out of one of the worst situations I’ve ever been in. Use your own worst experiences to create something beautiful of your won.

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.

NaNoWriMo- Let the Madness Begin!   Leave a comment

Short Story

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There are two months that make the American writer quiver with fear and anticipation, April and November. April is National Poetry Month, and most poets, and not a few people insisting that they are NOT poets, attempt to write a poem a day for all thirty days, scouring the internet for lists of prompts, fellow poets to workshop with, encouraging one another to write just. One. More!!!!!!!!!!

November, as National Novel Writing (Write, Writers?) Month,  or NaNoWriMo to its friends, opens up the floodgates a tad further. In November, the sky is the limit. Not excluding the muse to poetry, many writers use November as the push to get that novel they’ve been dying to write started, or finished, or, (as in my case), started again somewhere in the middle of the beginning. Short stores, flash, and yes, even poetry, are typed, scrawled, scribbled,  or elegantly handwritten in overwrought cursive loops. It doesn’t matter the hows or whys or what, just as long as something, ANYTHING! gets down on paper or drive, one day at a time.

I usually take November off. There’s enough to do with Thanksgiving, Christmas looming. But this year has been pretty productive, publishing wise, and I’ve got a lot of new ideas bottled up, just begging for release. NaWRiMo seems as good an excuse as any.

I’m also studying up for the GRE. If you’ve ever taken it, you know that vocabulary plays a huge part on the verbal section. And so, in the spirit of my Three Dollar Word series, I’m going to take a word a day from the “Hit Parade” lists found in the Princeton Review‘s Cracking the GRE book, and at least write one poem around it. If I’m feeling up to it, I might also incorporate it into a short story, or a work already in progress. At some point during the day, I will post the word I’m using for that day, to help along any other writer out there eager to get something written, but needing a place to start.

Today, the word is Misanthrope. I wrote a poem about a Mr. Misanthrope, and threw the adjective misanthropic into a fresh page of Cain. Go me!

A misanthrope is someone who hates other people. I am not a misanthrope, but I know misanthropes. Oi do I know misanthropes.

Xelas   1 comment

 

Middle East

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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.