Poem: She Burned Bright #Mondayblogs #poetry

The following poem was published on The Community Storyboard way back in June 2013.  I confess this re-post is in part because I’m at a loss for new material.  The well runneth dry at the moment.  But another reason is because I’m preparing to take a free online class on how to write poetry.  The course is through the University of Iowa International Writing Program.  You can find more information about by clicking here.

This poem is in memory of Wendy BishopShe was my mentor when I began my master’s in English program back in 1990.  I had a teaching assistantship and she was director of the teaching program, so we had frequent meetings.  I recognized a kindred spirit in her: we had both lived on the West Coast, we both had liberal views relative to those in the region where we now lived, we were close in age, and we were introverts.  But I was intimidated by the depth and breadth of her ever-growing portfolio and shied away at times when I should have been close at her heels.  We kept in touch off and on over the years until she died from leukemia at the young age of 50, in November 2003.  She was always incredibly busy, but always, always smiling and writing.

I miss her still.

***

They laid their hands side by side

She marveled

At how much alike they were

The one near death

The other nearest life

The one near death

Burned bright

With beach-bleached hair

Sandy skin

A smile an ocean-wide

She burned bright

And hummed through

Dot-matrix printers and laserjets

A low constant hum of life in words

Paper cascading from their mouths

Laid end to end they would circle the earth

And wrap it tight like a silk girdle

She burned bright

Writing more in her one-half-century

Than most could have written in two

She burned bright

The one near death

And marveled at her daughter’s hands, so like her own

She burned . . .

. . . out

And grown men cried

And grown women sighed

And I

who so wanted to be like her, she who burned bright

Stopped breathing

***

 

Ten Things Not to do When Changing TV, Phone, and Internet Providers

1WriteWay:

Thinking about changing internet providers? Read this list of what not to do, courtesy of John Howell. Heed his warnings and you might avoid accidentally going off the grid.

Originally posted on Fiction Favorites:

This list has as inspiration recently changing phone, internet, and TV providers. I wanted to get higher speed internet, and the local phone company had nothing faster, so I had to go to a new supplier. I bought a bundle including phone, internet, and TV.

a cable install

Ten Things Not to Do When Changing Entertainment Providers

10 If you are changing entertainment providers, do not expect anything to work that day. If you do, at best you will be frustrated. At worst, you will need someone to apply some electroshock to bring you back from the heart attack.

9 If you are changing entertainment providers, do not let them touch anything until verifying the price. If you do, at best the price will be the same as agreed. At worst, some clod in the sales department quoted you a price on just half the equipment, and now the COD charge is twice…

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Book Blitz: Small Talk by Robert T. Germaux

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Small Talk Cover

About the Book:

A serial killer has the people of Pittsburgh on edge, and Detective Daniel Hayes and his hand-picked Special Assignment Squad are working feverishly to solve the case before more innocent lives are lost. But the killer proves to be a formidable foe, whose viciousness appears to be matched only by his ability to elude capture.

Throughout Small Talk, the reader is given glimpses into the mind of this cunning and sadistic murderer, an individual who seeks a face-to-face confrontation with his pursuers, a confrontation Daniel is only too willing to provide.

Read the first seven chapters of Small Talk

About Robert Germaux:
Robert Germaux Author Photo

Robert Germaux and his wife, Cynthia, live outside of Pittsburgh. After three decades as a high school English teacher, and now a good many years into retirement, he is beginning to have serious doubts about his lifelong dream of pitching for the Pirates.

Small Talk is Robert Germaux’s second book. His first book, The Backup Husband, is a contemporary romance novel, available on Amazon.

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway to win a copy of Small Talk.

*******

Live on Amazon Kindle: Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue by Charles E. Yallowitz!

LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE:
SLEEPER OF THE WILDWOOD FUGUE
LIVE on Amazon Kindle!

The final champion stirs and reaches out to any who can hear her voice. Yet all who heed her call will disappear into the misty fugue.

Awakening their new ally is only the beginning as Luke, Nyx, and their friends head south to the desert city of Bor’daruk. Hunting for another temple once used to seal Baron Kernaghan, they are unaware that the game of destiny has changed. Out for blood and pain, Stephen is determined to make Luke wish he’d never set out to become a hero.

By the time the sun sets on Bor’daruk, minds will be shattered and the champions’ lives will be changed forever.

Don’t forget to mark it as ‘To Read’ on Goodreads too!

Charles E. Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz

About the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: Legends of Windemere
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

Read the Previous Volumes of Legends of Windemere!!!

BEGINNING OF A HERO

PRODIGY OF RAINBOW TOWER

ALLURE OF THE GYPSIES

FAMILY OF THE TRI-RUNE

THE COMPASS KEY

CURSE OF THE DARK WIND

Short Short Story: Unraveling #Mondayblogs

Following is a bit of short of fiction that was published last year in The Paperbook Collective (Issue 7).  The issue itself is available here.  It contains plenty of good fiction, poetry, and photography for your reading pleasure.
***

Maggie tossed the gray mess to the empty spot beside her. She rubbed at her eyes, crushing the tiny bits of “sleep” that had crusted in the corners. Her OttLite floor lamp, tall, skinny and utilitarian, hung over her, shining a pool of white light on her hair which made the auburn and gray strands pop. She sat up straight and pulled her thick unruly hair away from her face, winding it into a knot at the base of her neck. Times like these, she thought, she was grateful that her hair was wiry enough to hold together without pins. That knot, as variegated as her favorite skein of yarn, would stay at the base of her neck throughout the night and perhaps even into the next day.  She reached for the clump of lacy gray alpaca yarn that she had just tossed aside. The wooden needles clicked together, still sheathed in the stitches of the “shrug” she had been knitting. Maggie wanted to shrug at the idea of knitting a shrug. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. She had drooled over the picture of the sweater in the catalogue, a bolero style with a paneled back that curved at the sides. It looked simple yet elegant. Much the way Maggie wished her life was.

Maggie had the simple part down pat. She lived with her cousin, who was more introverted than she and thus the perfect roommate. She had inherited her house and only had to pay taxes, no mortgage. She managed a yarn store that had already been in business for twenty years and had devoted customers when she took it over. There was very little effort she needed to make to get through her days. Her life was very simple. But there was no elegance.

Maggie knew that the lacy lightweight shrug would turn into a frumpy cocoon the minute she put it on. Everything did. She had a thick mane of hair she couldn’t control, a pear-shaped body that no clothing designer cared to design clothes for, feet that had gotten wider over the years, and she was a klutz. She could not chew gum and walk at the same time. She had to use the wall whenever she attempted Tree pose in her yoga classes. And she was lonely. Loneliness felt very inelegant to Maggie. Loneliness was simple but there was no style to it, no way to make it appear refined.

When Bobby, her husband, was still alive, she had knitted scores of hats, scarves, socks, and sweaters for him. Although she was already a fast knitter, she had wanted to be even faster to ensure that he always had an ample supply of woolen garments to see him through their long, cold winters. So she learned to knit the Continental style, with the casting yarn on her left hand and picked up with the right-hand needle. The Continental style also looked more elegant.

The problem, she thought, as she looked critically at the knitted fabric that hung lifelessly from her needles, the problem was the purling. She hadn’t gotten the hang of purling in the Continental way. For twenty-five years, she had knitted American style, using her right hand to throw, or loop, the yarn over the right-hand needle. With the Continental style, she ran a greater risk of dropping stitches since she was now “picking” them instead of throwing them. And once Bobby was gone, she hadn’t needed to knit fast anymore. Her knitting slowed as her world contracted to this small spot on her couch, where she tried to knit for herself.

The longer she sat there and fussed over the shrug that was actually almost complete, the more she worried. Could she unlearn the Continental? She wanted to ask Bobby, but he wasn’t there. He wasn’t even a ghost in her house, since they had been living in a small apartment the day he died. Maggie turned to the empty spot at the other end of the couch. She imagined that it would have been his spot. She could almost see his thin frame propped up with throw pillows, his long legs stretched out on the ottoman. He would be sipping hot tea, and he would offer to read to her while she knitted. She stared, forcing his image to come into focus. Was he actually looking at her now?

Maggie’s hands moved slowly, sliding the stitches off the thin needles. She wrapped the loose yarn around her fingers. She kept staring at that dark empty spot as she started to unravel.

***

Top Ten things Not to Do at Whole Foods

1WriteWay:

John Howell continues to turn his wry humor to the delights of shopping: in this case, shopping at Whole Foods. Each of the ten items just “sprouted” from his imagination, organically, no doubt. In real life, shopping at Whole Foods is a natural, unadulterated pleasure.

Originally posted on Fiction Favorites:

The inspiration for this list came during several visits to Whole Foods. None of these circumstances were as a result of personal interaction while shopping there.

a whole food store

Top Ten Things Not to do at Whole Foods

10 If you are at Whole Foods, do not think you are at a discount outlet. If you do, at best your heart rate will hit a never before achieved rate at checkout. At worst, you will have to do the wait of shame while the checker calls the stock person to return everything you were forced to give up at the checkout.

9 If you are at Whole Foods, do not think the salad bar is a taste first then buy spot. If you do, at best store security will remind you loudly that you are not to eat anything prior to checking out. At worst, you might be asked to weigh in for…

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May Wonders Never Cease to Exist

Although I occasionally write poetry, I don’t make a fuss about it because I so rarely do it.  And because I’m never quite sure if I should call it poetry.  My poems don’t rhyme.  They don’t have a recognizable meter or structure (and I don’t even know what I mean by that, either).  They don’t measure up to the poetry of Luanne Castle or Pamela Beckford.  But I write them anyway.

And sometimes I actually submit a poem for publication.  On a lark, as it were.  As I did with this one poem, When I Said Goodbye.  I submitted it to Tipsy Lit, an indie publisher founded by novelist and poet Ericka Clay.  To my happy surprise, Ericka accepted my poem and recently published it in Volume 1 of the Tipsy 10, available free on Wattpad.

Tipsy 10 Vol 1 Cover

If you want to go directly to my poem, here’s the link:  http://www.wattpad.com/112392439-the-tipsy-10-volume-i-when-i-said-goodbye.  But be sure to read the other poems.  I am honored to have my poem among them.

Top Ten Things Not to do When Taking Family Photos

1WriteWay:

Are you the family photographer? The one who is always asked to take pictures during a family reunion or wedding or holiday dinner? If you are, then read on for tips on what not to do while taking family photos. If you are not, then read on anyway for all the reasons why you should be glad you are not the family photographer. Enjoy, courtesy of John Howell.

Originally posted on Fiction Favorites:

This list was inspired by looking at a number of photos that have been posted on-line recently.

a camera

Top Ten Things Not to Do When Taking Family Photos

10 If you are taking family photos, do not forget the background. If you do, at best you might have a stray person in the shot. At worst, you may have the perfect family park photo with a lovely backdrop of the trash receptacle.

9 If you are taking family photos, do not ignore what each person has in their hand. If you do, at best you’ll take photos which catch a bunch of red Solos. At worse, you may get a fine shot of everyone with red Solos as well as Uncle Jeff and his smoked turkey leg.

8 If you are taking family photos, do not let anyone pose without a shirt. If you do, at best you have to hope…

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On Not Having Children: Childless, Child-Free or Freak? #MondayBlogs #childless

I am the youngest of my siblings: a brother 3 years older than me, and two sisters, 11 and 13 years older.  I didn’t grow up with babies.  While I’m sure I had the standard baby dolls when I was very little, the only dolls I remember are the ones that had boobs.  The ones that were more or less adult, independent.  They had cousins, like me, but no children.  I wanted to be Marlo Thomas, That Girl, when I grew up.

A couple of weeks ago, I read an essay in the Sunday NY Times on choosing to not have children.  “Childless by Choice” is a rather sad essay by Michelle Huneven about she came to be childless.  She had one stark opportunity for motherhood when she was young and single and broke.  I recognized that part of her story because I too once had an opportunity when I was young and single and broke.  Like Huneven, I passed it up.

And like Huneven, I followed with a “series of time-consuming, life-swallowing love affairs” mixed with a fair amount of drinking (and also, in my case, drugs).  We both grew up in families that were short on love and affection, although Huneven’s family far overshadows mine in terms of dysfunction.  As she put it:  “I didn’t trust myself not to recreate the turbulent family I’d known.” And there our stories begin to diverge.  For me, it was more the fear of recreating the turbulent me that I’d known.

When I was younger, I didn’t like myself much, and I didn’t trust myself.  I had flashes of violent anger that frightened me.  For a long time I was convinced I was mentally ill and just got from one day to the next by a sheer will to live.  So the thought of a mini-me running around was horrifying.  But when people talked to me about having children, I would just joke that I was too selfish. I didn’t want to go shopping for anyone but myself.

I would also joke that God neglected to wind up my biological clock.  I can honestly recall only two episodes in my whole 57 years when I even semi-seriously considered having children.  Once when I was 14 and with my first steady boyfriend and we were both saying we wanted to have our own kids as well as adopt a bunch.  Five minutes after that conversation, I remember thinking to myself how crazy that was.  At the time I didn’t even like kids!

The second time was after I had read an essay by Louise Erdrich in Harper’s (May 1993).  She was writing about women’s work, work that includes having children:  “With each pregnancy, I have been thrown into a joy of the body that is religious, that seizes me so thoroughly that the life of the imagination sometimes seems a spare place.”  Erdrich made it sound so soft and fuzzy and warm, an experience that every woman should have.  And I exclaimed to my husband that perhaps I had made a mistake, for it was too late now.

Several years before that essay, and a year before I married my husband, I had my “tubes tied.”  Tubal ligation to be technical.  I was about 30 when my body started spiraling out of control: every month I was beset by heavy periods, knee-buckling cramps, and painful bloating.  I had been on the Pill for 10 years without incident.  My husband-then-boyfriend wanted me off the Pill, concerned that long-term use might lead to cancer.  But what to do?  Neither of us wanted children, at least not right then.  He seemed more uncertain.  My indifference to children in general and antipathy to being pregnant made my decision easy:  I would be sterilized.  That way, if we broke up, he could still have a family.

So there my story again diverges from Huneven.  She seemed to simply avoid chances to settled down and raise a family “until it was biologically impossible” for her to have children.  She did marry (around age 50) and she has enjoyed sobriety for 27 years, but she had to get to that point–the sobriety and the biological impossibility–before she could think that she would be “somewhat willing to be a parent.”  I took a stand relatively early (31 to be exact).  And aside from my brief infatuation with Erdrich’s rendition of pregnancy and motherhood, I’ve never regretted it.

But I know I belong to a club with very few members.  Roughly 80% of women in the US have a child by age 40.  The remaining 20% no doubt includes women who want to have children but cannot.  An article in the LA Times reports, “The percentage of married women ages 40 to 44 who had no biological children and no other kids in the household, such as adopted children or stepkids, reached 6% in the period from 2006 to 2010.”  It is an increase, but it’s still small enough to make me feel like an overlooked minority.

Whenever I meet someone new, whether at work or a social event, I’m inevitably asked, “Do you have children?”  I inevitably answer, “I have cats.”  And I smile.  Often the questioner smiles along with me, but sometimes she also squirms a bit.  I want to reassure her that I’m childless by choice but quickly realize that would make things more awkward.  I am an uncommon phenomenon.

Even when I lived in San Francisco, after my husband and I married and were joyfully spreading the news, people assumed children were in our future.  When my husband told one of his coworkers that we were not going to have children, the coworker retorted, “What are you going to do? Just sit around and stroke each other’s egos?”  Both of us wondered, what the hell is wrong with that?

And for the past 25+ years of married life, we have been happily stroking each other’s egos, with cats the only demands on our time and resources.  I make no apologies.  But after all these years, I still feel a bit like a freak.  If I had had a biological desire to have children but chose not to say, for environmental reasons (e.g., overpopulation), that would be one thing.  If I had had that desire but was infertile, that would be something else.  But there’s been no desire.  Nada.  Nil.  I can’t claim some lofty rationalization. All I can say is “Meh, the biological clock never got wound up.”

A bit of irony comes with this story:  In early 2001, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer.  This cancer is precipitated by an overabundance of estrogen, an overabundance usually caused by early menstruation (I was 9 when I had my first period), no completed pregnancy (there we go with the whole not-having-children thing), and obesity (I was not obese, but I was overweight).  Fortunately, it was Stage 1 and resolved through a total abdominal hysterectomy.  I’ve never needed any other treatment, and I’m considered “cancer-free.”  But it was a slap in the face, to be brought down by that kind of cancer, even when I had purposely gone off the Pill to avoid it, and when I had purposely (and literally) cut off any chance of ever getting pregnant.

I’ve gotten over it, though.  It wasn’t long before the happy realization that I no longer had to plan my life around my periods over-rode any Twilight Zone-ques feeling of Karma.  I’ve never identified with my uterus except to resent it’s monthly bloodly and painful intrusions.  Having cancer was scary, but having children for the sake of avoiding cancer would have been stupid.  And, no doubt, if I had, that mini-me would still be likely to be sending her therapy bills to me.

And all is not lost.  As the percentage of women who choose not to have children grows, we might also see an increase in the percentage of people who understand:  https://motherhoodtherealdeal.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/what-youre-not-going-to-have-children-a-mother-finally-understands-why/.

It’s a start.

 

 

 

Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Are Going to Disneyland

1WriteWay:

If you’ve ever gone to Disneyland, this list of things not to do there is for you! If you’ve never gone to Disneyland, this list will validate why you’ve never gone :) Enjoy, courtesy of John W. Howell.

Originally posted on Fiction Favorites:

This list has as inspiration the idea of spring and trips to Disneyland and Disneyworld

a disneyland

Ten Things Not to do if You are Going to Disneyland

10 If you are going to Disneyland, do not tell the kids until you are there. If you do, at best there will be no hiccups, and you  will get there after what seems like an eternity. At worst, your fight has a detour to Fargo North Dakota because of weather, and the snow will melt in ten days. (And the kids will ask every three minutes when you are leaving for Disneyland)

9 If you are going to Disneyland, do not try to navigate the park without a guide-book. If you do, at best a three-day visit will seem like three years of waiting. At worst, you and all the other uninformed visitors will be arriving at the same rides at the same…

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