Winter’s Revelations

IMG_1359Winter reveals the

wonder of trees –

lacy limbs dividing,

then dividing again,

branches curving high,

arching and bending,

narrowing into many

sturdy brown hands and fine fingers –

held open as if to

bless the wide blue sky.

 

Winter reveals the

beauty of breath –

frosts the steamy workings of

our hidden inner tree –

bronchi dividing to bronchioles

branching off,

finer and finer,

until the microscopic alveoli

perform their miracle –

lungs transform air into the blood,

praising in every breath,

blessing us with life.

How to Spot Positive Signs

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I’ve seen some folks’ troubles here and there across the Internet in the past few days. I’m here to help you start the New Year right by helping you to watch for positive signs.

Sometimes it’s in the way the fast-food server remembers to hand you a plastic knife. Or in the casually discussed weather report, drifting from the next table over.

Signs that things might be looking up, when for a time they have been not, are found in this recent poem of mine — Upswing. Thanks to the folks over at Lief Magazine for publishing this broadside last year. It’s worth a read, with a cameo appearance by Jerry of Culvers, West St. Paul.

Happy New Year. And remember not to be too hard on yourself!

How to Spot Positive Signs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sometimes it’s in the way the fast-food server remembers to hand you a plastic knife. Or in the casually discussed weather report, drifting from the next table over.

Positive signs that things might be looking up, when for a time they have been not, are found in this new poem of mine — Upswing Thanks to the folks over at Lief Magazine for publishing this ebroadside.

Happy New Year. And remember not to be too hard on yourself!

When Art Resembles Lief

Jeanne Lutz’s commentary about last night’s LIEF reading at SubText: a bookstore (“fifteen of the most eclectic writers out there read their work as part of LIEF Magazine’s debut celebration”) recapped the event so well that I won’t do more than you refer you to it, especially since it included a bonus picture of me wearing the “best glasses ever“. You be the judge of both the glasses and my eclectic piece (included below) – and I thank Jeanne for including my effort and glasses in her review.

This event delivered more than a pleasant reading by St. Paul’s finest poets. In the basement bookstore’s comfy, mismatched arrangement of chairs, the Lief Troupe never got bogged down in heavy-handed seriousness, even though some of the poems were serious, some sad (mine was).

The arrangement of voices played like a fine chamber orchestra, each player’s spirited solo complementing the player before and the one after, as well as the rest of the ensemble. I had a smile on my face the entire time (that is, after I read my piece – see below) and particularly enjoyed the quick humor of the emcee. I’d as lief have every reading go the way of Lief’s, with that same kind of insouciant, light hearted attitude.

The reading reminded me of what I like about writing, and I needed that reminder because there is often so much I hate about writing: it requires hours of work, results most often in rejection/criticism, and success is typically rewarded with little to no payment. The very definition of #insanity.

My best work comes when I work in good humor, off the cuff, with no other intent but to play and enjoy what comes of it. Write happy to be happy. Be as Lief. I’m going to do my best to keep to that. That said, here’s my Lief poem, a bit mournful, bittersweet. I played viola.

Vivian, in her grief

Vivian, in her grief, lost her singing voice so she turned to tuning pianos to make her living — she lived hand to mouth — mouthed the songs sung by beggars — begged for answers to her prayers, for release — released her coil of once-lustrous hair — hair gone pearl gray at her temples, scarcely waving now it was so thin — thinned her window-grown seedlings so the strong could survive and grow — grew whisper thin as the years passed —passed by in the streets unnoticed — noticed how the snow banks sunk into gray shanks of slushy foam — foamed mute with fury when they took her toy poodle to the pound — pounded incoherent on her ex-lover’s door though he’d died so many years before — before, she had inspired everyone — everyone who had loved her now-lost naive luster — lusted no more for her when the loss drove her mad, from his death-bed — bed to bed — to bed every man, though not a one was like him — he had gone off to war and died, taking her song and leaving her grief — in her grief, Vivian turned to tuning pianos to make her living.

Summer Storm

Summer Storm

(Inspired by the cadence, common words and basic rhyme scheme of  the children’s book/poem “Goodnight Moon“)

The day was hot

Anvil clouds shot high

Thunderheads popped

The wind whipped by

 

Our weathervane

Spun round and round

Then lightning struck

And the rain came down

 

The sirens blared

The dogs bayed and quivered

The kids got scared

The windows shivered

 

The thunder crashed

Hail fell all about

Some cars got mashed

Then the lights went out

 

Our lawn chairs flew off

When the wind suddenly gusted

They never were recovered

And our patio table busted

 

It was dank, it was dark

In our cellar room

Our flashlight died

We felt full of doom

 

And then in a moment,

It was quiet at last

The deluge was over

The storm had passed

 

The dogs were walked

When the rain went away

The dog walkers talked

There was so much to say

 

Rottie’s roof was pierced

Teacup’s car was crushed

Maltese’s tree fell down

The lab’s sidewalk heaved up.

 

The chain saws came out

Cleared all the trees away

The power crews arrived

And got the power back to stay

 

And by and by

Life went back to the norm

Though it wasn’t quite the same

After the summer storm.

There Once Was A….

….limerick winner named Susan! My limerick won a contest at lulu, the publisher of the anthology Let Them Eat Crepes  (the book Melissa and I edited and published in late 2010).

Check out the lulu blog to read my winning entry, which earned me a Barnes & Noble Nook and a $100 credit for the lulu website.

In case you aren’t familiar with the limerick, it’s a poem that follows a strict form:

  • AABBA rhyme scheme
  • five lines
  • a galloping meter (typically)
  • humorous, and sometimes obscene subject matter (lulu asked us to keep our poems family-friendly)
Despite the very clear contest requirements, there were many submissions that didn’t even come close to specifications. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am a girl who follows directions, so I found it surprising. It’s not surprising that my day job involves following directions to the T.
We were allowed to enter more than once, and I became obsessed, even though my first entry was declared the winner.
I am glad there was a limited time that entries could be submitted. My obsession resulted in a collection of five limerick entries, the last of which made a nod to my obsession.
I learned a lot by self-publishing a book on lulu. And everything I learned has helped me with my traditionally published mystery, Washed Up (available everywhere).  Not sure yet which is harder, writing a book, or promoting it. Only time will tell…..