January 2016 started with one of my poems chosen as a Goodreads poetry finalist  (five finalists).   It was such a lovely surprise!

I did not win, but placed right in the middle.  I will spout a familiar line, “I am honored just to be nominated.”  True.  The winner’s poem, Rose Mary Boehm’s  Absence deserved the win, and  I’m happy to be a hand-maiden.

Here is my finalist poem.

The Music Collection

I pulled out all of your records.
The soldier-straight rows collapsed and left
a half-life disintegrating heap of cardboard sleeves.

I stacked shiny slivers
silvered music re-mastered tinny girl songs
Joni Judy Carol Carly.

Her guitar strums and echoes
until echoes stripe the white hallway.
She would use the word wistful or wishful,
wouldn’t she?

Tremolo, tremolo
Doppling wide, wide, wide, wide.
How far does sound travel before it shifts to gone?

Late afternoon shadow
leans into tomorrow.
I miss
the scritch of the needle.

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Yesterday in a meeting I observed that my anger has been “chocolate covered rage.” I think that’s a pretty common maladay.  That’s the root of the “obesity epidemic” people!  http://dayswithoutpirateattack.com/2015/08/11/pirate-emotions/

I’m not one to miss an opportunity to capitalize on a good turn of phrase, but I just can’t quite get it yet.

best I’ve got so far is a haiku:

Chocolate covered rage

coated smooth so dark and sweet

bite down what’s inside.

My New Year’s resolution this year was to send two postcards each week.  I have kept up with it.  Each Friday I send one to my friend, Janet, and one to someone else.  The someone else varies each week.  I’ve even sent them to random Waunakee addresses. nouvelle images tea

This week’s card is one of the beautiful postcard images from Nouvelles Images.

Each week I add a line from a poem or a quote that reflects the image.

This week I wrote a haiku:

A blue teapot still

warm from the stove and your hand

witness to our stories.

Time to go mail them.

Poised at that moment

when you have the cupcake

but haven’t taken a bite

leaned in for the kiss

but haven’t quite touched

don’t ridicule the junkie

forever chasing the high

you do it, too.

I’m typing a poem.  I write a line long-hand in the notebook I carry with me so I don’t forget it.

I just realized

I have loud hands.

They amplify my voice.

I came on to my blog site this morning and noticed a post on my feed.  You must read this!

1.

When I was a little girl, they held my hands down in tacky glue while I cried.

2.

I’m a lot bigger than them now. Walking down a hall to a meeting, my hand flies out to feel the texture on the wall as I pass by.

“Quiet hands,” I whisper.

My hand falls to my side.

3.

When I was six years old, people who were much bigger than me with loud echoing voices held my hands down in textures that hurt worse than my broken wrist while I cried and begged and pleaded and screamed.

4.

In a classroom of language-impaired kids, the most common phrase is a metaphor.

“Quiet hands!”

A student pushes at a piece of paper, flaps their hands, stacks their fingers against their palm, pokes at a pencil, rubs their palms through their hair. It’s silent, until:

“Quiet hands!”

Read the whole post here:  https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/

It’s poetry.  It’s amazing.

Today I tripped across the Futility Closet created by Greg Ross, awesome editor and compendiator.  I worked with Greg years ago (Yikes!  15 years ago!!) at UNext.com (where we were a good decade ahead of the internet’s time).  It is so wonderful to see this blog and the books he’s published since then.

Just in time for April and Poetry Month, he has a podcast on a little-known poet’s skill.  Enjoy!

Podcast Episode 51: Poet Doppelgängers

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Goethe_1791.jpg
In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll look at the strange phenomenon of poet doppelgängers — at least five notable poets have been seen by witnesses when their physical bodies were elsewhere.

and you always know it when you see it.

Enjoy Connie Sun’s daily cartoon posts.  http://www.conniewonnie.com/

writing and healing

I tripped across this beautiful, well-constructed website http://writingandhealing.org/ that brings poetry into the self-awareness and healing process.  The Healing Poetry page provides great examples for trying moments.  I enjoyed the reminder of “The Peace of Wild Things.”  Since I’m lacking a woods, my version of this is to sit on the front porch steps in the dark of one in the morning.

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

When I write – especially poetry – I always seek to use “power verbs” wherever possible.  It’s never, “I was angry.” I’d wait for words like froth, seethe, frizzle, clench, etc. to come to me.  After listening to a TED talk while out on a walk today, I recognize that verb tense – especially the subjunctive – can wield great emotional power.

Think of the line, “I coulda been a contender.”  Sure, Brando’s intense delivery iconized it.  Brando2But imagine that same line if it had been written, “I was never a contender,” or “I wasn’t a contender,” or “I never saw myself as a contender.” Even tripping from Brando’s lips, they don’t have the same power.  There’s no wistfulness, no regret, no loss, no ‘what might have been’.  That emotion all comes from the world “could” (the subjunctive tense) in there.

In the TED talk, I learned there are many languages that have no subjunctive and it likely influences those cultures and their beliefs.  Since we (English-speakers) do have the  woulda-coulda-shoulda, what has that done to us? I wonder if I were to keep my thoughts in simple tenses, will it affect my ability to stay present?  Ha!  pun.

Last weekend a writing group friend, Bob Kralapp, and I did a poetry reading at Clare Bridge in Middleton. Clare Bridge is a “memory care facility” and, from what I could tell, a very nice, caring one. When you’re buzzed in, the front room has a fireplace burning, comfy couches and wing chairs. There are framed photos of residents in various activities in perched on tables and the mantle. Also very obvious was the lack of smell I’m going to just call “disinfectant” — that smell is what actually kick-starts the fear in your lizard brain. That smell transports you back to the time when you were little and went to visit Grandma in The Home, or had to go to the hospital when you broke your collar bone or sit in the waiting room while your Dad went to visit Uncle Bob at rehab. . . It was so not there, that I noticed it.

Some residents were waiting for us in the activity room when Bob and I came in. Most were ambulatory and sat in chairs with walkers parked at hand. A few were in wheelchairs. Most of the women were dressed specifically for Valentine’s Day in pink or red, with heart-shaped jewelry.

As we read, they were (mostly) quiet, but sometimes commented randomly. Not all that different from a coffee-shop poetry slam now that I think of it. One resident did call me “ornery,” though. I’ve tucked that away for some future poems.

Here’s a poem I read for them:

 

This Winter

This winter is the winter I catch him.

What? You don’t believe that old myth, do you?

 

I’ll layer up and slog through snowy drifts.

Zillions of snowflakes dizzying down around me.

Everyone else will be inside cupped around cocoa

and melty marshmallows, but they’ll miss the clues.

 

This winter I finally know when to catch him.

It won’t be during an early November or even December snow.

This winter, he’ll wait until late,

when our backs are achy and

even the snow angels have gotten up, dusted off,

and left for choir practice. Read the rest of this entry »