Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop - Book Review

The Little Paris BookshopThe Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title is too narrow for all that this book encompasses. Though it begins with the quaint bookshop on a barge in the Seine, it rapidly expands beyond it, to the charming setting of the French canals, and then further south to Marseilles and Provence.
My critique of the book, however, does not stop with the title. Thought the writing is exquisite – truly masterful and lovely in some places – my frustration stems more from annoyance with the outdated notion that a man must complete a woman, or vice versa, in order to find happiness. In fact, the number of outmoded, non-progressive sex roles disheartened me, leading me to wonder if it is, perhaps, a cultural phenomenon. Do the French actually, readily embrace the Nina George's notion that, to paraphrase, 'women are horses that must be tamed by men, who must likewise use the rider's crop of their words and actions to soothe and cajole a woman's emotions?'
These narrow ideas about women and men triggered my involuntary gag reflex. That said and aside, the central relationship of the novel is surprisingly liberal. The author flirts with polyamory as a panacea of the romantic ills of the three main characters. Even at the end of the book, there is the suggestion of unfulfilled hopes and compatibility, so that in spite of its lock-step with present social roles and relationship dogmas, the author hints that there is a potential better way – more open, more accepting, and more forgiving.
There was nothing wrong with this book. It's a fine book with a fine plot. The characters live, love, and breathe within the boundaries of its pages. The only thing I disliked, apart from the  vaguely misleading title, was the somewhat cliched romance of its central plot.


View all my reviews

Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Parents' Patio Re-Design, Finale

My parents came home this afternoon, and we had almost finished the patio project. All we need now is lighting, mounting fixtures for the wall art, and wind chimes (must have wind chimes).

Here are the pictures of the finished project:




Dexter approves.


My Parents' Patio Re-Design, Part Three

Yesterday, my parents went out of town for a sort of family reunion. The moment they were out the door, we did this:






We cleared away the furniture and swept the concrete. We then scrubbed with our old favorite: bleach and water. 



 

We painted the couch and ladderback chair. All of this furniture my Mom bought at various garage sales over the years, with the exception of my Dad's rocking chair, which I bought with my first paycheck from Walgreen's in 1991. It's actually my Mom's rocking chair, but my Dad sits in it. I used custom-mixed Olympic exterior paint for the blue and Valspar Cherry for the red chairs. 

For the metal accessories, I decided to use spray paint. I took apart the little glass-and-metal table to repaint, only to find that the glass wouldn't come out of the metal frame. 

\
Not a problem. I cut out a mat of wrapping paper, taped it over the glass, and painted the metal frame with the exterior paint. 

In the next post, I'll include the photos from the completed patio project. Click here to see them!

My Parents' Patio Redesign, Part Two

My Mom's Love Language is Acts of Service. My Dad's Love Language is Quality Time. When we decided to re-decorate my parents' patio, we realized that it was a way to show them love through both of their Love Languages.

We started by cleaning all of the wooden patio furniture. I used a bleach/water solution in a spray bottle. Fortunately, the weather had done a good job of smoothing all the edges, leaving the surfaces soft and porous enough for painting.


My Mom said she liked these cushions on a random shopping trip, so I went back and bought them:


And we used these cushions as the basis of our color scheme. We wanted something bright and lively, that would also incorporate my parents' favorite colors: red for my Mom, yellow for my Dad (and blue for me, just because).

(Painted with the blood of our enemies)

After painting these chairs, it proceeded to rain every day for three weeks. Oh yeah, welcome back to Texas, where the weather does whatever the heck it pleases.

To see the next step on our patio re-do, click here

My Parents' Patio Re-design, Part One

When my daughter and I moved to Korea last fall, I thought that my parents would be fine. Sure, yes, we have a very close relationship with my Mom and Dad. They are good people, and everyone who knows them adores them.

But when my Grannye got sick and we came home, we moved into my parents home, ostensibly until we could find another place. It became clear, though, that both of my parents were suffering from degrees of depression -- my Mom due to the grief of losing her mother, and my Dad just continuing with his life-long battle.

Mom and Dad asked us to stay with them, to help take care of them. Generously, they have given us a place to live for the last four months. Even more generously, they refuse to accept money for rent.

Back in 2004, when my parents built this house, they spent a lot of time on the back patio, drinking coffee and smoking with my Mom's sisters, the Aunts. Mom has since given up smoking (yay!!) and the patio's popularity has sadly waned. But it is a lovely space, full of good energy with a view of the trees and the neighborhood park. We wanted to give back to my parents, and quickly decided that re-vamping the patio (in secret) would be a good way to do it.

Here's a before video of the patio, taken about a month ago:

Before link, click here.




Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Thirty

Prompt for Day Thirty:

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Bury the (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Some possible titles include: “Bury the Hatchet,” “Bury the Body,” “Bury the Past,” “Bury the Hate,” and “Bury the Acorns.”
This is the last day
I have written my poems
Now I get to sleep

2015 Poem A Day, Day Twenty Nine

For today’s prompt, write a what nobody knows poem. It’s easy to write a poem about what everybody already knows, though it may be difficult to write an interesting poem about such things. Still, use today’s prompt to explore things people may not know–secret stories, locations, and so on.

Little Lies

small
truths hide
in small places,
like beneath a sink
where he slept at night
what no one knows
is that he
did not
sleep.

lies
hide, too,
in the open
where we can see
bites marks on his fingers
but he said he
bit his nails
and we
believed

bigger
lies leapt
in flying fire
like tempers tossed, hot:
it was the rats biting
and so he hid
his tiny hands
from us,

too.

2015 Poem A Day, Day Twenty Eight

Prompt for Day Twenty Eight:
Here’s the final “Two for Tuesday” prompt of the month:
1. Write a matter poem. Matter is what things are made of.
2. Write an anti-matter poem. The opposite of a matter poem.
Matter

Wide are the skies
within your eyes.
Endless, the world
in your mind.
Medians and means
and in betweens,
Of mosts and leasts
and obsoletes
You are above and
beyond these things.
Nothing the while
can reconcile
with the honesty
inside your smile

for my Dad

Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Twenty:

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “My (blank), the (blank),” replace the blanks with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “My Dentist, the Torture Expert,” “My Lunch, the Thing I Got Out of the Vending Machine,” “My Father, the Comedian,” or “My Life, the Punchline.”

I am playing catch-up, so this one of the two poems I wrote on Day Twenty One. It wasn't finished on the day, so I'm posting it for Day Twenty, because I couldn't feel that prompt.

This was inspired by a conversation with a friend with whom I'd stayed up way too late.

I Am Not

I am not your princess
I am not your muse
I was not put upon the earth
to aid and comfort you

I am a human being
I have got my plans
They have nothing to do
with your boring, idle hands

I don't care if you are listening
I'm not worried if you care
I'm a woman, goddammit,
Walk beside me if you dare.


2015 Poem A Day, Day Twenty Seven

For today’s prompt, write a looking back poem. Of course, some people just glance over their shoulders, and others stop and turn all the way around. Some look back in time and weigh their successes and failures, evaluate things they could do better. Some claim they never look back. Whatever your stance on looking back, capture it in a poem today.

This is for my parents, who have been married for forty years. I'm trying to reflect how their love has grown and changed over time. I hope I hit somewhere close to the mark.

A Year, A Life

our love, in barefoot splendor,
traipsing through thick viny trails
cut off shorts and halter tops
dandelion born on gales

our love in springtime formals,
reveling in orchid blooms
a rich and gauzy fabric
full of softly fragrant plumes

our love, dressed in winter's clothes,
bundled tight against the cold,
a woolly warmth protects us,
never let the chill take hold

now our love is autumn's cloak
gathered across our shoulders
at campfire's side, side by side,
while life's long ember smolders

Sunday, April 26, 2015

DIY Recycle Project

One old pillow.


One adorable thrift store skirt daughter still loves but can no longer wear.


One very helpful cat.

A roll of thread and a whip-stitch later:


Cute bohemian throw pillow!

2015 Poem a Day, Day Twenty Six

Prompt for Day Twenty Six:
For today’s prompt, take a word or two invented by William Shakespeare, make it the title of your poem, and write your poem. Click here for a link to some words coined by Shakespeare, who was baptized on this date in 1564. If the link doesn’t work, here are a few: advertising, bloodstained, critic, dwindle, eyeball, hobnob, luggage, radiance, and zany. He invented more than 1,700!

I went off prompt today because I was toying with the idea of making a puzzle poem yesterday, and this one came alone. The missing letters make a phrase. My brain was very entertained, and I hope yours is, too. (I put the answer in the tags...)

Missing Persons

I knew
when you d_d_'t look back
we were done
Two years of maybes
_wo months of p_omises
Yo_ wouldn't kiss,
not in public
no_ in the s_adow
of outs_ders you woul_
never see again.
Y_u stood in the security li_e
and I watched and wa_ched
and hoped
but
you never once
looked back
and you grew
smaller
and
s_aller
unt_l
there wa_
nothing
left
to _ee

Yesterda_
is the gh_st

of _s.  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Twenty Five

Prompt for Day Twenty Five:
For today’s prompt, write an across the sea poem. This could be a love letter, an electronic submission through cyber space and time, or a travel poem (by air or sea, though probably not car). Modern travel or back in the days of rugged explorers. Wandering or wondering, your choice. As always, the prompt is just the springboard to your poem; feel free to bend and break.

When I read this prompt, I thought, "Across the sea... acrostic." I chose a phrase and this followed: 

Across the Sea

Summer skies filled with rain
Everyone dashed inside
Only we stood
Under the clouds,
Laughing

To have known you has
Opened my eyes

Spring hills filled with flowers
And I'm missing you, my friends
Never forgotten

Maybe one day you will come
Across the sea
Remember our Soju promise:
Come see me! Come see me!
Over here in Texas

Still welcome, still in my heart.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Failure

We have failed in our efforts to help Aunt Ava quit smoking. Last night, while we were working on school work, she sneaked out and bought cigarettes. We were so engrossed in Katrina's assignment, we didn't even notice our aunt had gone.

She was doing so well.

We need to re-think our game plan. Our family is coming in this weekend to participate in a celebration for our Grannye who died in February. Maybe together, we can come up with a few ideas.

Wish us luck.

2015 Poem A Day, Day Twenty Four

Prompt for Day Twenty Four:
For today’s prompt, write a moment poem. The moment can be a big moment or small moment; it can be a good moment or horrible moment; it can affect thousands or matter to just one person. Some moments happen in crowded rooms; some happen in the most quiet of spaces. Find yours and write a poem.

The road leading to my Aunt's house was, until very recently, quite rural. We used to live across the street from her in what is still my favorite house ever. Surrounded by pastureland on three sides and a kind of reclusive farmer we call the Donkey Man (he has a donkey) on the fourth, we used to see a lot of deer, roadrunners, foxes, and once, a ring-tailed cat.  

In the last two years, in spite of a report from the TNRCC stating that it's a bad idea to build apartments atop a cave formation, developers constructed a massive student housing complex across the road from Aunt Ava's house.  

I always worry about the little animals. It troubles me that they've been forced into smaller and smaller habitats. Sure, there's parkland nearby with lots of green space, but considering the acres and acres of open land they used to roam, we've left them with scraps. My brain tells me humans have to have some place to live. My heart answers with the truth: there are plenty of abandoned buildings we can refurbish closer to town. We can build up instead of out. We can be smarter and kinder at the same time when it comes to protecting the creatures with whom we share this world. 

Hello, soap box. Where did you come from?

Anyway, as I came home from my run last night, I crossed paths with a fox. There's a family of them in the empty field, and they are beautiful. This poem is for them.

Out-fox

A cutout shape:
ears and tail
you whisked
across the path

Wild and cunning,
this mother fox:
black and silver
soft and sharp

Our road,
once your
open field.

Our powerlines,
once your
stream and trees

Still you prowl,
you hunt,
and slink,
bright eyes
and starlight

And you watch me,
keen, calm, alert
You were here before
You are here now

You'll be here
tomorrow,
when we burn
ourselves out.

2015 Poem A Day, Day Twenty Three

Prompt for Day Twenty Three:
For today’s prompt, write a historic poem. It could be a poem about a landmark event, specific battle, an era in time, or whatever you consider a historic happening.

This one's far from finished, but I like the use of toes and foot. I'll revisit this one next year, perhaps.

History

the mice made homes
in the toes of shoes
at the foot of these hills


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Operation Smoke Free, Day Four

Another long day on the smoke-free front. My Aunt admitted to smoking once per day each day we've been here while she took the dog out for a walk. But, she got an eCig today, and it seems to be helping her a great deal with her cravings.

I did not write my poem today. I did get a good run in (8 minute miles, yay!) and I wrote 1,407 words on the novel. I'm closing in on my goals on both fronts: Three more running sessions to go to make the 12 I need. I'm about 6,000 words or roughly one week away from making the 72,000 word goal I set when I started writing this novel in December.

That's good news.

I'm behind on poetry, but I feel confident that I can catch up.

Just not tonight.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Never start...

If anyone ever had a need for reasons why they should never start smoking, let me tell you this: withdrawal from nicotine sucks. My Aunt Ava has been irritable, nauseated, itchy, angry, and dizzy all day. Normally, this is the kindest and most gentle soul. Today, however, she told us all to "Shut up and go to hell." This is just day two.

I mean, look at her.


She's hilarious. I hate to see her going through this.

We are exhausted. We followed her around all day. Hopefully she will feel better tomorrow.

Poem A Day, Day Twenty-Two

Prompt for Day Twenty-Two:
For today’s prompt, write a nature poem. For many poets, the first thing that may pop to mind includes birds, trees, waterfalls, rivers, and such. But there’s also human nature, nature vs. nurture, and other things natural, including natural selection and being a “natural” at something. Let your nature take it where it will today.  

This one is a seasonal poem, more than a nature poem, though there is some overlap. I chose haiku because they are traditionally written about nature. I usually write punny haiku, but I almost refrained from that this time. Almost.

Spring

With eyes like orchids,
her gaze sweeps across the fields
pink and gold and blue.

Summer

Rough hands and bare feet
where the ocean meets the sand,
he waves his hello

Autumn

Cinnamon sweetness
caramelized on his tongue
hides the scent of death

Winter

Whisper on her lips
A snowflake or a promise:
I am leaving soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Twenty-One

For today’s prompt, we’re dealing with our third “Two for Tuesday” prompt(s):
     1. Write a “what you are” poem, or…
     2. Write a “what you are not” poem.

I'm off prompt today, sort of. This is more of a reflection poem. It's been sitting in the unfinished poem folder for a while, but today when I looked at it, I made a few changes and thought, "It's as ready as it will ever be."

Mirror

A fear:
you will write
about the ways
I have scarred you.
And I have,
it pains to admit.
I have pushed
when I should
have comforted.
I have dismissed
when I should
have listened.
And you will write
about the ways
I have failed you.
All my searching
and running,
all my scattered 
hopes
dropped like 
fragments
of broken
mirror
in your lap.

Operation Smoke Free, Day Two


Though I didn't get my poem done for today, pushing me further from my Poem A Day goal, I did write 1,200 words on the novel. My Aunt Ava and I went grocery shopping, effectively keeping her too busy to worry about smoking.

My great aunt, Avonne (I'm her namesake, hence my penname, Celeste Avonne), lives with Aunt Ava. Aunt Avonne is witty, kind, funny, and thoughtful. She has diabetes and is confined to a wheelchair. She tries really hard to be independent, because I think she is afraid of overburdening my Aunt Ava. Even so, Aunt Avonne needs help. Like this morning, when she was getting out of her shower, her useless bathmat slipped in the tub and she fell.

Ava immediately dialed 911. An ambulance came right out, checked Aunt Avonne for injuries and helped her get back into her chair.

The whole time, Ava was so calm and composed, I felt like she totally had the situation completely under control. We went about the rest of our day as if everything as A-Okay, normal street. And it was. When we got back from grocery shopping, Aunt Avonne was peacefully reading her suspense thriller novel and Katrina was doing her online RPG responses.

I cooked supper - positively Paleo peppers. They were delicious. Then it was time for Katrina to begin her classes (she starts them at 9 p.m. - oh, the benefits of home school!)

Even if Aunt Ava doesn't quit smoking in the next two weeks -- I hope she does -- something else good will come of it in the form of a heightened awareness of what my Aunt Ava experiences day to day taking care of Aunt Avonne. Also, Aunt Ava is kind of a badass for the way she handled that situation with such cool grace.

Wish us luck as we enter day two of the Operation Smoke Free. I still don't have a clever title for this endeavor.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Commitment

For the next two weeks, we will be moving in with our Aunt Ava in an effort to help her quit smoking.

This is our Aunt Ava:


We love her a lot. We want her to be with us for a really long time. She says she feels cigarettes are impairing her ability to live her life, so her idea is that if we are there with her through this process, she will be more likely to quit for good.

Katrina and I will do our best to keep her occupied. We are going to take walks, play games, gorge ourselves on TLC shows, give ourselves mani/pedis, clean out closets and flower beds, and watch American Idol. But our family tells us that we have to be constantly vigilant. Ava is known for being the most addictive personality in a family of highly addictive personalities. She will be like a ninja, they say, so we must always be on our guard. Luckily, Katrina has the night shift due to her nocturnal habits, and I have the day. I hope we have her covered.

I'll be posting poetry and updates from her house for a while as we commit to Operation Smoke Free. I'm working on a more clever name. If anyone has experience with helping others quit smoking, or if you've quit smoking yourself (rock on!) leave any tips you might have in the comment section.

Thanks!

2015 Poem A Day, Day Nineteen

Prompt for Day Nineteen:
For today’s prompt, write an authority poem. Maybe you are an authority on something or know someone who is (or who thinks he or she is). Maybe you respect authority, or maybe not so much. Maybe you are on the run from the authorities, in which case I can only say good luck, but this blog probably isn’t the best hiding place–especially with so many folks poeming away.

I am a few days behind on the challenge now. This one is super-rough, and I'm not sure it's an authority poem. 

Open Carry

I have a policy
for the kids
in my care:
I take you
with me
in my heart,
in my mind
every day,
every where.

Driving home
from school,
you are in the
backseat,
you control
the music
and the air
and the volume,
and the depth.

At night
when I cook,
I worry:
Do you have
what's good
for you?
Do you have
enough?

When I try
to sleep,
there you are,
chatting,
talking,
laughing,
crying.
And I worry.
Into the odd
hours,
I worry.

This is my
open carry.
This is my
weapon
against
crime
and poverty
and cruelty
and hate.

This is
what I have
to give:
openness,
acceptance,
and the
promise:

I carry you
in my heart,
and I
remember

who you are.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Eighteen

Prompt for Day Eighteen:
For today’s prompt, pick 2 vowels and write a poem using words that only contain one or both of those vowels. For instance, write a poem with words that only have a “u” and “o.” Also, the letter “y” is wild–so the words “my” and “gypsy” are freebies. And I’ll allow text-speak (or maybe I should say “txt spk”).

Please

Please
take
the chance,
make
that last
plan
4 me.
When
all
else
falls
away,
save
a day

4 me.

Friday, April 17, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Seventeen

For today’s prompt, write a swing poem. Sure, there are park swings and mood swings; there’s swing music and swing dancing; and there are swingers. Some people swing one way; others swing another. In politics, there are swing votes and swing states. And many people have swung a bat, an ax, and/or a hammer in their lifetimes.

I really have no idea where this came from. I dedicate this to Patty Griffin, who inspires me every day. This is more a bluegrass song than it is a poem, which I suppose is okay. Our family has deep bluegrass roots.

Swing

Not a fighter, but I'll fight
Not a singer, yet I sing
If you back me in a corner
Watch me swing
Watch me swing

Not a poet, but I get down
Not an artist, but I dream
If I find a rope on a riverbank
Watch me swing
Watch me swing

In this life, we've got our bridges
Those are the easy paths to take.
We've got our blue skies
filled up with clouds.
We've got our whole lives
at stake

So if you climb up the mountain
then you might as well scream:

“I am here, and I'm alive
Watch me swing

Watch me swing.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Sixteen

Prompt for Day Sixteen:
For today’s prompt, write a science poem. Your poem could be about science in a general sense, but you can also latch onto a specific field or story. Maybe write a poem about the scientific method, or juxtapose science against another idea like love, war, or cuisine. Remember: Science is the springboard; which way you jump is up to you.

I played with this one a while. It's a bit simple, but I like Fibonacci sequences, so I like this, too. I hope that you do as well.

Fibonacci

One
Person
Looks up
Into the sky
To see the infinite possibility:
A billion galaxies filled with billions of stars
and imagines all of the breath and all of the life contained within.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Fifteen

For today’s prompt, pick an adjective, make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. If you’re feeling stuck on this one, go back through your poems earlier this month and find adjectives you used–if any. Or crack open a dictionary. Or scan other poems for ideas.

This one turned out a little creepier than expected...

Complicit

sometimes there is a shadow
lurking at the door
sometimes it's a heart
beat-beating
in the space beneath
the floor

sometimes there is a spider
tangled up in her own webs

sometimes there is a murderer
buried deep in his own bed

once in a while,
there is a smiling face
peering out
from the mirror glass

and sometimes,
you are the author
of what has come

to pass.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Austin



I love this town.
Spider House
Austin, Texas

2015 Poem A Day, Day Fourteen

Prompt for Day Fourteen:

Today is our second “Two for Tuesday” prompt(s), and here are your options:
               1. Write an honest poem. Or…
               2. Write a dishonest poem.

How is this for a fine bit of synchronicity? Today's prompt is about honesty, and I opened to the first page of Stephen King's On Writing to find this:


My poem for today is very short. I borrowed the title from the page above.


Liars Prosper

The only part that hurts
Is something of a surprise:

It's knowing you're the only one
who believed any
of your lies.

2015 Poem A Day, Day Thirteen

Going off prompt for this one. It was supposed to be a confession poem, but I had nothing.

Instead, I was playing with haiku for Earth Day's nature poem, and I wrote this one. It's not a nature poem, but I like the idea of Rorschach and kaleidoscopes.

But What About Freud?

A prismatic flash
Turning kaleidoscope's wheel
Rorschach would love this


Monday, April 13, 2015

2015 Poem a Day, Day Twelve


For today’s prompt, write a damage poem. Since my baby brother is a storm chaser, my mind usually jumps straight to storm damage. However, there’s more than the physical damage created by things like hurricanes, trains, and war planes. There’s also the emotional and psychological damage we inflict, survive, and conceal. The bright side of any damage is that it can be transformed into a poem.

Fire

A child walked
through the charred waste
of a forest after a fire

She felt the heat
still trapped
within the soil,
and she wept for
the blackened roots
of the tindered trees.

Smoke curled
in wending tendrils,
stinging in her throat,
and he cried, “How
can anything
survive
such darkness?”

Yet on the ground
there lay the seeds
sprung forth from
the coils
of their cones

The rain would come
to soothe the soil
and feed the seeds
released

Tender shoots
will grow anew
and from fevered flame,
reborn

All that lay
in devastation
will see the
sun once more.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Paperback Heart, revised

This is the revised poem, Paperback Heart, now even more like a song. It's been stuck in my head all day. If only I could write music...

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Paperback Heart

How long will I live this
paperback life?

Letters stuck in envelopes
days stuck in strife

I guess I'm always hoping
I'll get carried away

But I'm trapped in this existence
day after day.

How long will I live with this
paperback heart?

All my days the flimsy pages
of someone else's art.

I think I'm always dreaming
of getting out to dance

But I stand against the wall
and I never take the chance

How long will I dream these
paperback schemes?

Choking on the exhaust of
someone else's dreams.

All my notebooks filled but empty
Nothing there but grief and pain

Don't have the guts to burn 'em up
Don't know how to start again.

So how long will I live this
paperback life?

Hiding from the real world,
hoping the fictions aren't all lies

My shelves cluttered with memories
of someone else's strife.

I think I'm always wishing
for my hero to ride in

To save me from this drudgery
Let my fairy tale begin.

But I know that we're just people
And I know that love can die
And I know that I'll keep living
this paperback life


2015 Poem A Day, Day Eleven


For today’s prompt, write a seasonal poem. This should be a snap for haiku poets; after all, inserting seasonal words is a rule for the form. However, you don’t have to write haiku to write a poem that references or happens in one of the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Pick a season or include them all.

I didn't want to write a rhyming poem today, even though that's been the mode for my poet mind since the beginning of this challenge. For this prompt, I opened Writing Down the Bones and read the chapter titled A New Moment. In this chapter, she writes about how it is important not to rest long on our successes or failures, but to keep the pen moving, to keep writing.
I found inspiration in the lines that went: “Continue under all circumstances. It will keep you healthy and alive.”

I love that. Creativity is a force that helps us meet challenges. It helps us work through insecurities and anxieties. It gives us hope and helps us meet our grief eye to eye. Goldberg goes on to write about not needing a reason to continue beyond our own will to create. Creation is reason enough.

So here is my seasonal poem, nurtured into existence by Natalie Goldberg, the small birds nesting on our patio, and a time I climbed Gwanaksan Mountain in Seoul, South Korea.

Each to Its Own

Suns rise
Kingdoms fall
Hearts break
Birds nest

In the spring,
new buds bloom

In the fall,
they gray
and wither

You may have stood atop
Gwanaksan
You may have flung
your arms wide

You may have been
an echo loud
against the wall
of time

It is not the same mountain now

New rains fell
bearing stones
and seeds
and sand

At mountain's base,
the city springs:
Each day new
and tomorrow old.
Yet the young
walk her streets
Alive and amazed.

From space we see
the churning veils
of illusive storms
Our cities etched
in the face of earth
like sandcastles
in the rain.

Season after season
we spin and spin
as we have always spun
in the dance

of the earth and the sun.

Friday, April 10, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Ten

Prompt for Day Ten
For today’s prompt, take the phrase “How (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “How to Write a Poem,” “How Mechanical Pencils Work,” and “Howling at the Moon After Midnight in the Middle of a Thunderstorm.”

I think perhaps this poem, which started out as How Long, aspires to be song lyrics. It's pretty rough and very silly, but it's late and I'm posting it anyway.

Paperback Heart

Waiting for that someday
Waiting to take a chance
Waiting for your heart to break
To finally make a stance

You stand in lace and ribbons
Your back against the wall
You listen to the music
You wait to take the fall.

Why do you hold yourself apart,
When you know you want to sing?

Why do you lip sync in the car
When I know you want to sing?

And how long will you live
in this paperback heart?

All your days
the flimsy pages
of someone else's art?

How long will you live
in this paperback scheme?

Always waiting
always hoping
just a wish
and just a dream?

These are safe
alternatives
to doing the
real thing.

How long will you live
with this paperback heart?

Just another daydream
Waiting for life to start.

2015 Poem A Day, Day Nine


For today’s prompt, write a work poem. For some folks, writing is work (great, huh?). For others, work is teaching, engineering, or delivering pizzas. Still others, dream of having work to help them pay the bills or go to all ages shows. Some don’t want work, don’t need work, and are glad to be free of the rat race. There are people who work out, work on problems, and well, I’ll let you work out how to handle your poem today.

I'm a day behind in the challenge, ironically because yesterday I had to work. I picked up a job as a delivery driver for the local paper. They just switched to a new carrier service, and I acted as the clean up crew – picking up any deliveries that got missed.

It resulted in me driving a hundred miles around San Marcos and the Texas Hill Country in peak bluebonnet season. I listened to the BBC Audio production of Midsummer Night's Dream the whole time, and I rode with the windows down. I got some looks from the locals, but they all were very glad to receive their papers.


I get to do it again today. This time, I'll be listening to The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey. It means I won't get to write again until this evening. It also means that I have successfully funded two more weeks of the writing life, thanks to my parents, who are graciously giving us a home while I write and my daughter attends her online classes.

So I don't have a poem yet for today. I've got fragments of two poems. Hopefully they will become whole and separate soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Work

Today's poetry prompt is to write a work poem.

I haven't written one yet due to work...


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Setback and bounce back

A little bummed tonight. I learned this morning that my claim for unemployment was rejected because I was not fired from my last job. Curse my impeccable work record!

That part is a joke, of course. I value a solid work ethic, but I had the possibility of getting a set amount of money each week for nine months, which meant that we could live our writer's life for the better part of a year. I could work four to six hours a day uninterrupted on writing, editing, and submitting, which is what it takes to really do the writing thing right.

Bonus, though: the editor at Ease Magazine accepted my latest travel article on Disney theme parks. That will be out at the beginning of May, and it's a legitimate paid writing gig that I truly enjoy.

In the meantime, I need to step up my efforts to find work.

2015 Poem A Day, Day Eight

Prompt for Day Eight:
For today’s prompt, write a dare poem. This poem could be written as a dare to someone. It could make a daring proclamation. It could involve a dare that someone has accepted…or refused. In a way, each day of this challenge is a dare to write a poem. Are you ready for the challenge?
This one was just fun. May you continue to dare, as I am right now with this writer's life!

Triple Dog Dare

When we were kids
it was a taunt:
Get in the water
Jump off the side
Climb into the branches
Don't try to hide.

Teenagers morphed us
into mouthy hooligans:
I dare you to kiss him
I dare you to try.

Then came college,
Then came life.
Then came bills
and marriage
and kids
and bills
and student loans
and heartbreak
and death.

Then it was
a four-letter word:
the dominion
of swaggering
children
and fools

Should I risk it?
Don't you dare.

But I do.
I dare you
I triple dog dare you:
Get out
Get up
Get busy

I dare you to do
what frightens you
I dare you
I dare you
I dare.

This one is for my awesome brother, my partner-in-dare. Love you <3 p="">

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Seven

Prompt for Day Seven:

It took an entire week to get to our first “Two for Tuesday” prompt this year, so I’m going to make it the one that I run every single year:

1. Write a love poem. Yeah, I said a love poem, or, if you don’t like that option…
2. Write an anti-love poem. I know there are some haters out there; go ahead and hate on love and/or love poems if that’s your thing.

Feeling ambivalence toward today's prompt. Having just ended a devastating relationship, I am torn about my feelings toward love. My boyfriend of two years bailed on us in Seoul, but then dragged out our relationship long-distance style for two months before I finally ended it on the night of my Grandmother's funeral, when he blew off being there for me to go to karaoke with his brother.

And yet, I loved him. I was wholly devoted to him, and to our relationship. It took a long time for me to understand that he just didn't feel the same way.

All of that said, I still believe in love. I'm an All You Need Is Love kind of person, and I probably will always be. So I don't want to write an anti-love poem, nor do I want to write a love poem. I'm well aware that there are myriad forms of love, and that on the non-romantic love front I am replete with glee.

So here is my love poem, short and sweet:

Love

All you need is love
and peace, and understanding
and chocolate, too.


Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Six


For today’s prompt, write a things-not-as-they-appear poem. Poetry is filled with metaphors, similes, symbols, and layered meanings, so this should be a softball prompt. If you’re struggling, look at your current surroundings, pick an object, and turn it into a metaphor for something. Or think of somebody in the real world (mail person, gas station attendant, etc.) and make up a secret double life for them. C’mon, you can do this.  

In reading the chapter, Elkton, Minnesota: Whatever's in Front of You, Natalie Goldberg reminds us that, "In writing you can know everything." She goes on to say something so beautiful and true, that it hurts sometimes to remember it: "You can have parts of others live in you."

This dovetails perfectly with today's prompt. Brewer encourages us to look at your current surroundings. Goldberg says write what's in front of you. That is the inspiration for today's poem: Something in front of me, but also a part of me.   

Dragonfly

Bound by beads,
and held in string
the cage of an age:
These dragonfly wings

Once was a button
upon a boy's lace,
but time has altered
how I present this face

Each coil of wire
each bubble of glass
a twist of the chain
held with a clasp

My amber once
a man's domain
how over time
this fate has changed

And I, a necklace,
was once a pin:
such transformations
between women and men

The substance of beauty
no matter the skin
takes to its wings
on what lies within.

2015 Poem A Day, Day Five

This is a place holder.

I took the day off from poetry because I wrote a lot on my novel.

I'll fill this spot as soon as I can.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Four

Prompt for Day Four:

For today’s prompt, write a departure poem. Many people depart to school and/or work every day, and they depart on a plane, train, or automobile–some even walk or ride a bike. Of course, that’s keeping things rather physical; there are also emotional and psychological departures. You may even decide to make a departure from your normal writing style in tone or structure today.

I did not depart from structure today. This is the kind of poem I often write—kind of a Thomas Kincaide type of poetry. There's some imagery (coastlines and harbors, wtf?), there's rhyme and meter, and there's a call to action in the end. Live life! Adventure! Even as I am laughing at myself, I like this poem. It is indulgent and silly (much like me), but the message is good.

Disembark

A ship in harbor blooms
To snare a winsome wind
Its petal sails unfurling
Striking to sea again

Gushing from the tunnel,
Rushing along its track
A train races a coastline
slicing the world in half

Any kind of worthwhile quest
Begins with such a mind:
Cast off all your anchors
Throw off those ties that bind

Be a ship with open sails
Be a train upon its track
Dare to live and love this life,
And never once look back.  



Writing Practice - No Hindrances

For two decades, I have used Natalie Goldberg's book Writing Down the Bones as a starting point for my writing exercises. I will open the book to a random page, read it, and get down to business. It often surprises me that the same pages I've read over and over can strike me in different ways in separate times of need, offering me the precise insight I need to get to the next phase of life and writing.

Here is what came to me this morning:

When you accept writing as what you are supposed to do, after you've tried everything else--marriage, hippiedom, traveling, living in Minnesota, or New York, teaching, spiritual practices--there's finally no place else to go. 
I may be technically homeless and unemployed, but in truth, this lull between traveling and teaching is a gift. There really is no place else to go but to write. I have been running and running from it for years. I sat down and wrote a novel six years ago, and it is collecting cyber dust. The Universe has granted me this quiet time to write, to edit, and to submit (both literally and spiritually).

Goldberg goes on to say: You can't depend on its going smoothly day after day. It won't be that way.

This is also good news. Rhythms may vary. Life continues to happen all around us. Rain storms. Deadlines. Doctor's appointments. Keep pushing. Keep writing.

There is no place else to go.

Thank you, Natalie.


Friday, April 3, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Three

For today’s prompt, write a machine poem. A machine could be a car or a robot, obviously, but simple machines include levers, pulleys, and screws. There’s also “machine learning” and “deus ex machina.” But there are many other ways to come at this prompt as well.

This came to me in bits and pieces during my errands running today. I was partly inspired by a line from My Chemical Romance: You've got a bulletproof heart/you've got a razor wire smile.

Soldier

You've got a
hand grenade heart,
the pin pulled long ago,
and you're just waiting
for it
to explode

You've got a
muzzle flash smile,
a wit like razor wire,
and you keep what's inside
safe from us
outside.

So if you're the hostage of logic,
such a slave of rational thought,
then why haven't you
figured out the truth?

Private, that pin was pulled
so
long
ago
but your heart will never burst

unless you let it go.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day Two


For today’s prompt, write a secret poem. The poem itself could be a secret, or it could be about keeping secrets or, I suppose, not keeping them. Or maybe it’s about a top secret project, or the poem is a riddle with some sort of secret meaning. Or, well, I’ll let you figure out how best to poem secretively.  

Secret

Innocent,
innocuous
just a search—
a scatter
of keystrokes
the letters
of your name
in a window
and then
the pages
pour forth
to reveal:
some truths
cannot
be unseen,
some hurts
cannot
be unlearned

Just a name,
just a search
in a window
late at night
a secret
that shows
how far
you've

fallen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2015 Poem A Day, Day One

Here is today's Poem A Day Prompt:
Write a resistance poem. There are many forms of resistance, including militant resistance, resistance to new ideas, the resistance in exercise, and maybe even a little resistance to starting a new project. I hope you don't resist the urge to write a poem today.

I decided to write a poem based on one by Emily Dickinson. Here is a link to her poem, 

"Hope" is a Thing With Feathers 


Desire

Desire waits with shining claws
It lurks within the dark
And whispers delicious sweetness
And never rests at all

And loudest in the storm is heart
And sure that it is right
That gives up all it once believed
That it might have the night

I've heard him the darkest place
I've heard his subtle voice
That offers everything you wish

As if you have a choice.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Goals, 2015: Return to what you know

Last year's goals, right here: New Year's 2014

As years go, 2014 has been mighty big. We moved to another country, met so many new and amazing people, visited Japan, went to Las Vegas, picked up a steady travel writing job, sold almost everything we owned, and experienced a major career change. We're also learning Hangeul!

I was pretty successful in achieving the goals I made last year. The goal was to simplify, which we did. We now live in a tiny apartment in Seoul. Everything we own fits in this one room (and in my Aunt Amy's storage back in Texas. Sorry, Amy!). We reached our travel goals. I made my reading goal of 50 books. I wrote some, both for fun and profit.

In the Health Goal category, we did change our diet from the western carb-laden fare we so know and love to the more healthy veggies and fish diet of South Korea, and it has made an impact. However, I have failed to find a workout/running solution that works here, so that will have to change if I want to stay fit.

In the Career Goal category, I made no effort to get Reprieve published (sad) and am at loose ends where teaching is concerned. I'm still very unsure about what I want in this regard. Much soul-searching needed in.

2015 began in Japan, but it will end with us back in Texas. This has been a wonderful adventure, but one thing it has certain shown me is that we need our family every day. Every. Day.

Here are my goals for 2015. May everyone be blessed this year, and happy, and fulfilled.

1. Health Goal:

  • Continue eating the Korean diet - more meat, veggies, and fruit. Less bread and pasta.
  • Work on meditating and yoga regularly (three times a week).
  • I love work out challenges, so I'm going to do them!
  • Also, incorporate a reward system. Three workouts = $5, which I can spend on clothing or art supplies.

2. Travel Goal:

  • Save money
  • Go back to Texas

3. Career Goal:

  • Find something that incorporates teaching, writing, creativity, and helping people that doesn't stress me or my family out so much that we can't be happy.
  • Submit my novel to two agencies each month.

4. Reading Goal:

  • 52 books! That's one book a week. Yay!