Monday, April 29, 2013

ROW80: Guest Post Up and Running . . .

Do you ever wonder what pushes you to write? 

Check out my guest post over at the ROW80 Blog and comment, if you would like, for I'm wondering what impels YOU to write!

And we have a WINNER for my Rafflecopter give-away of The Mermaid Quilt & Other Tales. 

Congratulations, Karen Rice. I'll be contacting you by e-mail for directions on how to send you your copy of The Mermaid Quilt.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 28: Blue, baby, blue.

As blue as my sister's dress,
Frida Kahlo's vest, 
a kitty mermaid floats
on a wall nearby, 
a placemat quilted in blue 
geometric on my desk,
a rocking chair worn blue,
books, even The Mermaid Quilt
a study in blue waves,
and I wear a shirt of blue,
soul blue, spirit blue,
that color between violet and green,
hummingbirds quiver: Picasso blue,
don't-step-on-my-blue-suede-shoes blue,  
blue, baby, blue.

Today's poetry prompt from NaPoWriMo has asks us to look around the room we're in and noting everything that is our favorite color .  . . and so my poem came along. Apparently nearly half of all men and women prefer blue. 

What color would you choose?

Today's the last day to enter my give-away for a free copy of The Mermaid Quilt & Other Tales. I want to say the odds are looking pretty good right now.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Project X and Xeroxed!


I remember putting my face close 
to the glass plate in wonder
and pushing the button.
What image would appear?
My boss pulled me away 
from the new and very large xerox machine: 
 "You don't know what that . . .
machine will do to you," he said.
I wish the incidental exposure 
to that bar of light 
was the worst that happened then.
My home office now sports
a desktop photocopy machine.
The bar of light yet moves across a glass plate.
but I have covered it over
with a bright Guatemalan weaving for
I have learned how to use the cloud.

DL Hammons asked writers today if they have a PROJECT X, that kind of nagging project that we're not currently working on but that we may write  . . . someday. The project that both inspires  and scares us, that challenges our skill and vision, that one day may take us where we haven't been before.

I have four such ideas in various stages, each one would take me in an entirely different direction. If Years of Stone is finished by June (yes!), then one of these ideas will move to the forefront. So, which one? I truly cannot decide. 

Should I finish this trilogy with Rivers of Stone (volcanoes, Hudson's Bay Company, Hawaiians, Native Americans, and Scots in the 19th Century)? I've got a very rough outline, about 20,000 words of a head start (and a pile of books). 

Should I finish Mothers Don't Die which tells how a woman survives being kidnapped by a serial killer? Here I'm working with a first rough draft of about 70,000 words. Have I learned enough to finish this story?

Or I could write a story about how how the Bayeux Tapestries came into being (royalty, romance, religion, and the big "M" -- mystery). I visited the Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris and came away with an entirely different interpretation, based on what I saw there and then later the tapestries at Stirling Castle in Scotland and at the Cloisters in New York City.

The last idea that won't go away involves a small-town quilter who discovers a murder. Did I ever mention that I quilt?

Just as DL Hammons asks, I'm wondering too. Do YOU have a Project X that won't go away? I know I have to decide, but if you comment, which of my four projects appeals most?

Read what others have written for NaPoWriMo and the A to Z Challenge.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for WOWSER -- A Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Well, today on the A to Z Challenge, we have reached the letter "W" and are nearing the end of April. 

To celebrate gaining over 20,000 hits on my blog AND to say thank you to you, dear readers, I'm offering one paperback copy of The Mermaid Quilt. This is an experiment. I've never used Rafflecopter before. This raffle program is free and supposedly easy. Enter, and if you win, I will alert you by e-mail and snail-mail you my book.

But this doesn't mean we're off the hook for a poem for "W". Here's today's effort.

What? You want to WIN?
Wasn't it enough that spring has finally
shaken winter cold from your bones?
That violets bloom purple-red and pink?
That cherry blossoms now pull
birds from the sky with promises
not yet kept?
Even I, standing to the side,
straightening my glasses in sun's glare,
all too aware of the season's turn,
would like that sweet moment of heart's ease.

Read what others have written for NaPoWriMo and A to Z Challenge.

So I'm really curious. Did you enter the contest?

Apple Blossoms (Camp 2013)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vexing . . .

April winds down,
and I find myself adverse to verse. 
No found poems,
no verisimilitude, no vaunting
of vectors. Not even a tangent;
writing is simply vexing.
I view what others have written,
a voyeur perusing other 
un-vanquished poets. "Volta! -- turn about!"
Spring vibrates in each 
apple blossom outside my window,
victuals for my soul that's 
vegetarian at heart,
no meat, no blood, no bones,
no violence. 
I'm safe in this third-floor
apartment. Not even the fire department
could break down my door.

Ha! Did it! Day 25. Now off to read what others have written.
NaPoWriMo asks you to write a sea chanty or a ballad and A to Z Challenge closes April with encouraging words.

Just for fun, here's a sea chanty I wrote for Years of Stone (1840s Van Diemen's Land). It was fun to try the rhythm of a work song, and I'm ready to jump back to the writing . . . for real!

‘Oh, say was you ever in Van Diemen’s Land.
Down by the Derwent, the girls take your hand,
You’ll forget the storms and the rising seas,
When Sally and Sue come sit on your knees. 
Dance down the night, boys, till the tide turns,
For yer bound ‘round Devil’s Point, n’er to return.’ 

Devil's Point is now called Ship Stern Bluff, a most dangerous place in Tasmania where wave tossed surfers gather, where ships once sailed, and where the great white shark yet gathers.

Ship Stern Cove (Wikipedia)

U is for Useful . . .

Tonight I lean my face
against the glass of our bedroom window;
apple blossoms just outside
glimmer white in the moonlight.
I smell spring 
as I fold winter laundry.

#   #   #

Sweet apple blossoms
glimmer under a spring moon,
while I fold laundry.

Tonight's two poems (just barely past the midnight deadline) experiment with two forms -- the first, an open form, and the second, an experiment in haiku  (first line 5 syllables, second line 7 syllables, and last line 5 syllables). 

As neat as the haiku form remains, it relies on the reader to add reaction, interpretation, meaning. The first haiku I read long ago presented a lovely scene of a pond. The last line went something like this: "A green frog went plop!" And that last line suggests the surprise or moment of awareness of the 'now' that haiku can bring.

Do you agree? Which form do you prefer? Open? Haiku? Is poetry 'useful'?

Thanks always to NaPoWriMo and the A to Z Challenge.

Apple Blossom (Wikipedia)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Turkey . . as in Turkish Carpets

I will always remember being pulled off the street in Istanbul, just around the corner from the Hagia Sophia with its haunting portrait of Christ, for tea with a very smooth Turkish carpet seller. These Turks have been traders for millenia. Their sophistication shows in their gregarious chatter, their sweet, hot tea served in tiny glasses, and their tightly woven carpets shining with silk threads.

This most famous painting, "The Ambassadors" by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) is but one of many examples by Western medieval and Renaissance painters where the Turkish carpet is displayed somewhat casually to show the wealth and status of the patron. These carpets were also commonly painted near or beneath the throne of the Virgin.

"The Ambassadors" by Hans Holbein the Younger (Wikipedia)

But Holbein's "The Ambassadors" has a 'trick of the eye' to remind the reader of death. That funny squiggle that seems out of place and that runs counter to the bottom of the painting is actually a skull, when seen from the side of the painting. When we see the skull, we are to be reminded of the shortness of life, especially true in the Middle Ages.

So today's poem is a homage to that visit to Turkey, a country rich with culture and history:

I visited the Bosphorus once
and watched boats cross her blue waters,
much as they did hundreds of years ago,
when one could only enter the palace of sultans
if invited and if of the proper rank.
Thousands prayed here in the mosques;
thousands more worked along the narrow market streets,
the Street of the Tentmakers yet remains,
one small shop a tent itself where young boys
sit cross-legged the whole day to sew
intricate appliqued patterns into wall hangings
or wedding tents. What was once carried
on the Great Silk Road to China,
we tourists take home to cherish.

Wall Hanging from Street of the Tentmakers
Istanbul (Camp 2010)

Read more about Turkish carpets, Hans Holbein, and the Hagia Sophia.

Or read what others have written to celebrate April, National Poetry Month
A to Z blogging challenge, NaPoWriMo

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Starry, starry night . . .

"Starry Night Over the Rhone" by Vincent Van Gogh (Wikipedia)

Even after all these years,
I cannot listen to this song
without tears.
I remember waiting in line for hours
to see an exhibit of paintings by you, Vincent,
and at the end, in the last room,
we stood silent,
for there was nothing to say
before or after or since:
Your paintings in a museum,
your letters preserved,
your anguish even now
barely understood.
Yet this song celebrates it all:
paintings, letters, anguish,
for all those who
make some thing beautiful,
for all those who have eyes to see.

"Vincent" by Don McLean
Slideshow by Anthony di Fatta

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Relief . . .

The cherry blossoms on the tree outside my window
are just ready to open, the pink petals poke through green;
I am relieved for it has been a long, long winter.
Sometimes I sense the whole earth rising into another round
as it spins forward on a journey no one quite understands,
maybe god-driven, maybe an accident of molecules.
No matter. This year, many have suffered,
and we have suffered with them,
fueled by newspaper headlines and our own tragedies.
I can’t say we are indomitable because we all
face down dark moments. Some few act out in violence,
that Shiva-splintering, limb-tearing, death-reeling moment
that destroys the universe we hold within our own awareness.
But this morning’s newspaper speaks of celebration;
I will sink into meditation, grateful again
for all those who act out of goodness,
true to some moral code,
some awareness that our hearts beat as one;
even for the most anonymous among us.

Last night in Boston, a neighbor looked under a boat cover to discover hiding there the man the police sought. That neighbor called the police, and this morning we celebrate an end to the blockade, the lock-down, the door-to-door, the invasion of everyday life the police made to end the terror. But the neighbor could have cowered in his house, could have refused to act upon what he learned. He also could have helped that blood-covered man. But he chose to call the police, though he must have been terrified. At times in our lives, we are required to look directly at danger and to choose. We may choose out of a sense of obligation or a love for others, but our choices then shape all else. May we always choose for the good.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quilting . . .

Grandmother’s Quilt

She pieced this Double Wedding Ring quilt
for my aunt on her third wedding.
The quilt lasted longer than the marriage,
tossed in the back of the car for the dog to sleep on,
and so it came to me, sun-bleached and worn,
with all the fabrics of the 1950s,
calicos, ginghams, the binding torn,
my grandmother and aunt long gone.
I put the queen-sized quilt away,
well-wrapped in a pillowcase
for a decade or two.
Now I sit mending that binding,
turn needle and wonder
where I will find those well worn fabrics
to patch each missing square.
In the morning, my grandmother’s work
greets me, her arthritic hands are now my hands,
and I make quilts for my daughter.

My Grandmother's Quilt c. 1955 (Camp 2013)

Read what others have written for the A to Z Challenge and NaPoWriMo.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Putti and . . . Raphael

Raphael: Putti , detail in Sistine Madonna (Wikipedia)

. . . And the angels watched
as you came into being, sweet maker
of words and art and all things good,
you died at 37, some say
of excessive sex, far from angels and popes
and salons, and the jealousies of 
Michelangelo who painted the Sistine Chapel
while you worked nearby and
sneaked in at night to see his work;
forever transformed, you borrowed,
smoothed out the rough edges,
painted with classic clarity,
and just as briefly, 
enjoyed all the pomp and circumstance
Renaissance Italy offered;
you never married,
no children, perhaps only putti remember
your short life, fragments remain
of what we know;
all else is forgotten truly
as we stand today before your masterpiece
and see it yet again,
fresh and whole, a homage
fixed in time, discovered anew
each generation and . . .

Raphael: School of Athens (Wikipedia)

I woke up dreaming of angels and thinking of my friend, Linda, who also writes a poem a day for April. I wanted to begin with one of her favorite pictures, a popular painting of putti by Raphael, and, being a new grandmother, found the picture had new depths, for babies are so innocent of what is to come. When I found the image that Linda loved online, I rediscovered Raphael.

The NaPoWriMo prompt comes from Cathy Evans who prompted us to write a poem that begins and ends with the same word. I chose "and" but I'm not sure it quite works, though that sense of something being interrupted could work as a metaphor for Raphael's life.

Now it's time to see what poems others have written for the A to Z Challenge.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

'O' is for Oblivion . . .

The poetry prompt from NaPoWriMo for Day 16 (“O”) asks us to look up a poem written by a poet in another language. The first poet I think of is Pablo Neruda and I found his poem, “No Hay Olvido” (There is no forgetting . . . ), a perfect “O” as olvido can also mean oblivion.

Our task: to look only at the poem in its original language and to attempt to translate it. And so I began, Spanish phrases turning to English. When I compared my translation to the translation offered online, I learned again that each language has its own patterns of expression, how difficult it is to translate poetry, that very private language; and that perhaps those who translate take license with the original that a casual reader cannot see. 

Here is my poem, for once I visited Santiago, Chile, where we spent an afternoon at Neruda's house, La Chascona, so named for his red-haired wife. 

For Pablo Neruda

You have written "No Hay Olvido," 
there is no forgetting,
but that I cannot do, for I remember well
your house in Santiago, overlooking Bellevista.
For one brief afternoon, we imagined
your respite here, in this multi-level
house built around a garden.
We strolled through nearly empty rooms
filled with colorful glass, Chinese
and Indian art, Bauhaus furniture,
a breathtaking wooden sculpture of two mermaids.
We read your penciled-marked poems
preserved under glass,
those passionate, surreal poems,
fragments of a life between countries,
perpetually in exile;
your great sad eyes saw
political commitments tested,
too much revolution and death.
Yet your poems speak for you,
even in green ink, they speak
of love and hope.

A stanza from Neruda's poem, "No Hay Olvido":

Si me preguntáis en dónde he estado
debo decir “Sucede”.
Debo de hablar del suelo que oscurecen las piedras,
del río que durando se destruye:
no sé sino las cosas que los pájaros pierden,
el mar dejado atrás, o mi hermana llorando.
Por qué tantas regiones, por qué un día
se junta con un día? Por qué una negra noche
se acumula en la boca? Por qué muertos?

My translation:

If you ask me where I have gone,
I must say we have come to the place 
where things die.
I would speak of the ground that obscures stone,
Of the river destroying itself:
I only know those things the birds have lost,
the sea leaves behind,
or my sister crying.
Why all these places?
Why does one day join itself with the next?
Why does a black night pile up
in the mouth?
Why is there death? 

Mural of Pablo Neruda near La Chascona

Read what others have written to celebrate April, National Poetry Month:
Poetry prompt from NaPoWriMo at

N is for nought . . .

There is nought
to inspire me,
no sense of connectedness,
instead I face a blank nothing,
not even a nudge
can push me past the great null void.

Today’s news takes me to non-words,
Nihilism, from the Latin to mean
no-thing, as in nothing at all,
no moral code, no faith, no reality, no knowledge.
This is really the bottom.
The empty cup.
I have lost my way
for I know nothing.
Nothing is far worse 
than anonymous.

The combination of the Marathon bomb and a bad cold led me to this poem. I watch technical experts pick through the rubble. On one level, I wail and wish no one knew how to make a bomb, that no one’s limbs were ripped apart by shrapnel. But I do not believe in nothing. Morning begins each day with opportunity. Those people on the task force are using all their skills to find that bomb-maker; they are doing something.

Because I still have that dreaded cold, I watched a lot of TV yesterday. On Fringe, Peter is consumed with anger when his daughter is killed. Someone warns him, using a proverb attributed to Confucius, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” 

Is that our path? We cannot afford to be weak before terrorists, so we promise revenge. Does that comfort those who lost their child, their loved one? We need to make time for grief and a time for healing. 

I would rather be inspired by former President Clinton’s Global Initiative.  Last night on Steven Colbert, Clinton said if we work hard to improve conditions in the whole world, we are working to improve America, for we are all connected. He called on each of us to make a commitment, to do one thing this year that will make the world a better place. 

These are not empty platitudes. He’s talking about clean water, adequate schools, a safe place for women and children who have been abused, sufficient medical supplies at hospitals. And we can do these things at home as well. What community does not have its homeless, its hungry, those who are alone and fearful, those who suffer loss? We live in a very fragile bubble if we separate ourselves from those in need.

African Violets by my computer  (Camp, 2013)

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Marathon . . .

I'm waiting for news:
Will another plane fall from the sky?
Here and not over there
in some sunburned, far-off land
where people speak an
entirely different language
of violence.

We endure this new commonplace.
What began with innocence,
an annual challenge,
now neighbors watch neighbor;
we notice with a sharp sense of readiness
when a package is left, abandoned,
and our police and firemen walk
once again into the smoke left by bombs.
We have entered the 
age of the marathon,
no longer does the race twist 
on subterfuge,
a dropped golden apple. 
Instead we light candles to remember the dead
and tell each other: Never again.

When we traveled in Italy recently, we were told not to eat at MacDonald's -- not for the food; the restaurant was a target for terrorists. So, of course, we ate there when we would rather be eating pasta, but we ate there to make a point. That terrorists or the threat of terrorism would not change what we could do.Throughout that short meal, I kept wondering what our families would think if that day had been chosen for an attack. In London, so many bomb threats have been made at Harrods, the famous department store, that people routinely file out at the sound of sirens. Now we have Boston to remember, and I wonder again what changes are ahead.

Read what others have written to celebrate April, National Poetry Month:
NaPoWriMo at
A-Z Challenge at

L is for Lollygagging . . .

If ever warmer days 
finally replaced the cold 
that sinks in my bones, 
I would leap out of my mummy-bag, 
celebrate with a plethora 
of dandy-lions, 
their manes tossing
like tissues as I sneeze 
again and again. 
I would embrace the now! 
Stop lollygagging with the last gasp, 
the last hangover of winter, 
this dratted cold.

Today's poem comes from seeing dandelions yesterday in a very short walk and then 28 degrees last night and waking with a cold this morning. A spring cold. 

I learned that the word dandelion comes from Old French, dent-de-lion (lion's tooth), that dandelions actually are considered a healing herb (especially to soothe the stomach), so perhaps dandelion tea is called for, or a beer at The Dandelion Pub in Philadelphia. 

And, of course, that "L" word, lollygagging, meaning to waste time aimlessly, a goal I have not achieved.

Read what others have written to celebrate April, National Poetry Month:  
NaPoWriMo at  
A-Z Challenge at

Saturday, April 13, 2013

K is for Kafka . . .

I met him when I was twenty,
drawn to photos of his hypnotic eyes, 
his German dark stares,
his incomprehensible twisted tales,
a kaleidoscope of failed endings,
none romantic.
Then I found his letter,
and this has stayed with me, 
that abortive forty-five page typed 
letter to his father, never delivered,
which begins in fear,
later published, for there was 
only one Kafka.
Others now read
what was essentially private,
a moan from the soul
only psychiatrists can decipher,
and English majors.
I met my father when I was near thirty 
and tried to call him "Daddy".
He thought someone on the television
was calling her father,
a voice overlay that made no sense
and then it finally stopped.

Charlton Bruce Camp
The problem with writing poetry is that sometimes the poem explores places the writer does not want to go. But this week's thread, memoir poetry, took me to Kakfa, discovered in college, and my father, a short-lived Hollywood stuntman, bartender, lover of motorcycles, and for a brief time in my thirties, my father.

Read what others have written:
NaPoWriMo at
A-Z Challenge at

Friday, April 12, 2013

J is for Jackeroo . . .

A cowboy wanna-be 
slouched into work that first morning 
wearing chaps the storekeeper said 
all the cowboys wore.
The hands called him a jackeroo, 
inexperienced, but he won them over 
working early-to-late, just one of the boys, 
teller of tales with a guitar, until
he married the prettiest Swedish girl.

They came from miles for Chivaree. 
Nothing to do but smile and nod 
and pass the home-made brew,
Swedish girl shivering by his side,
staring at those cowboys
on horseback, whooping it up,
prancing 'round and 'round
their little wood house, little more 
than a shack. Somehow those hands
wired cowbells to the bed.
In the morning, that new Model-T
was discovered on the roof.
My grandfather never found out how,
but I grew up hearing tales
of cowboys and jackeroos.
Frank and Sigrid Henry
Elk Mountain, Montana, 1915

Note: I borrowed the word "jackeroo" from Australian history, slang used to describe an inexperienced station hand. A "chivaree" is a noisy, impromptu serenade to honor a newly wed couple; cowboys are notorious for their pranks. These stories came from my grandfather.

Trophy Bear, Elk Mountain, c. 1922
My grandfather taught my grandmother, raised in Stockholm and Chicago, how to shoot snakes with that pistol hanging from her waist. Later, when he was out riding the range, a bear tried to come in their house. By that time, my grandmother had two little girls to defend. When he returned home, he found his little girls playing with the big "doggy."

Any doggy stories to share?

Read what others have written for April, National Poetry Month:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Indecently Blonde . . .

Blame the Romans. Cowed 
by Celtic women's indecent strength, 
their innards curled to ice; they required
prostitutes to wear blonde wigs 
near two millenia ago. 
Roman women rejoiced
when the Celts were ousted;
insults ended imitation.

Yet we women still color our hair.
In my twenties, I favored Hollywood blonde,
like my Swedish mother,  
and applied for work at a bank. 
The men swarmed out of their offices
on invented errands; I was hired
and then ignored as ash blonde
tangled with illicit brown roots.
Now I would not change a single
gray hair; I've earned them all.

Marion Henry (1941)
My mother, a Hollywood starlet

Today's poetry prompt (Day 10 and the letter "I") came from a visit to 2nd Look Books here in Spokane. Michael showed me a page from Terry Jones' Barbarians which retold how the Romans admired and feared Celtic, Germanic and Viking women for their strength, their fearsome pale beauty, and their furious tempers. Luckily I inherited none of these traits, but I was intrigued by what causes women particularly to assume a mask of protective coloring, something I once did. 

To celebrate National Poetry Month, read what others have written:
NaPoWriMo at
A-Z Challenge at
A Round of Words in 80 Days at

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

H is for hiatus . . .

Hiatus -- that moment between
endings and beginnings,
winter to spring.

Last night the weatherman,
his eyebrows wiggling,
predicted a 'late snow'.
This morning, I see clear sky,
and spring green grass.
White cherry blossoms line up
like popcorn strung
along bare branches.
I pause,
yet between words,
a natural fissure in this day,
content to balance what was
with what will be.

To read what others have written:
NaPoWriMo at
A-Z Challenge at

How would you define 'hiatus'? What happens 'between' that is important to you?

On the way to Mount Lemon, Tucson (Camp 2013)

"G is for Gentle . . . "

The first words that come to me for today's poetry prompt is "gentle" as in 'do not go gentle into that good night . . . '

Who could write anything after Dylan Thomas' 
famous, moving poem:
'rage, rage against the dying light,'
written after his father's death

and yet we turn to poetry
when words fail us

remembered words

to ease our understanding
of grief,
or anger,
of loss
and sometimes joy.

Read Dylan's poem at
Aloud if you can. Think about every line of this lovely villanelle.
A good thing to do for National Poetry Month.

I write this very late,
feeling somewhat gentle as the day ends,
these words here a tribute and a challenge,
inspired by Morgan Dragonwillow's poetry prompt
for the A to Z Poetry Challenge.
Go here to read what others have written,
far more poetic than my effort here,
but I am remembering all those days
when the writing of poetry
led to insight
and a sense of harmony.

Spring in Spokane (Camp 2012)

Sunday, April 07, 2013

G is for 'Good golly, Miss Molly . . .'

Seattle. 1958. Once we were inside, 
past the young men smoking 
and standing by the door in clumps, 
past the lines at the bathrooms,
the cloakroom, down the long hallway 
and into the darkened ballroom, 
strobe lights flashed through the crowd. 
It was never about the words: 
we couldn't start dancing fast enough:
the wailing saxophone, that stride piano,
the drums, everyone pressed close, 
feeling the music, just letting go.

Those were the days of innocence, 
well before marijuana, cocaine or meth. 
Our parents feared rock and roll; 
but we were the baby boom generation 
with pocket money. We bought those vinyl 45's,  
treasured them, traded them, danced after school. 
The music moved us through those teen-aged years 
when hand-held transistor radios were new 
and the sound tinny, but, my God, 
don't move that dial. Listen! 
That's Little Richard right there,
back in the day when we monopolized dial-phones
for hour-long conversations, 
and Viet Nam was a tiny country 
no one had heard of.

Little Richard in concert, 1956 (Youtube)

I'm wondering when did your parents' music stop being your music? What are your earliest memories? Who were your favorites?

ROW80 UPDATE: From being on the road all last month, I'm somewhat disconnected from my regular routine of writing. This A to Z Challenge (along with a poem a day for National Poetry Month) is taking me right back to the early days of rock and roll. But my office (somewhat messy) presents a fine workspace, and April promises to be productive. Not quite back to routine yet, but today I rolled out of bed at 6 am, ready to work. 

So for this fine ROW80 Sunday check-in, I have little to report but plans, plans, plans. Biggest achievement these last few days -- recovering from that 400 plus mile drive, finishing an 'inspirational' article for ROW80, and finding several resources to build a list of indie publishers. Sometime today (between finishing laundry and replenishing groceries in the empty fridge), I get to read the 7's for ROW80. 

May your writing week go well.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

F is for Fats . . .

They rolled a beat-up piano
right in the middle of the basketball court
in our tiny high-school gym.
You, Fats, banged out stride while the sweat
rolled down your face. 
We danced white-kids' bop not five feet away
and fell in love with your gravel-voice
and your music -- "Blueberry Hill," 
"I'm Walkin' to New Orleans," 
and "Ain't That a Shame."  
I never knew a piano could sing like that.
I didn't really know you were already famous.
Your hands just cajoled that piano,
making music, crossing over, and 
from that moment, I was a fan.

When Katrina came to New Orleans, 
Rumors swirled that awful night and 
the next long, long morning 
that you were gone. I still remember
the photos of your rescue in that dread time.
We went on down to New Orleans,
cleaned books in a musty basement for a month,
and walked through the city,
sweet dixie and blues spilling into the night,
your city, Fats.
I'm only one of many who remember you
and hold you dear.

Today, Fats Domino remains a permanent resident of New Orleans, where his Tipitina's Foundation raises funds for musicians in Louisiana. Read more about Fats on Wikipedia and about Tipitina's Foundation here.

E is for Elvis . . .

Elvis 1968 (Wikipedia)
Screaming teen-aged girls 
mobbed him;
Blues-loving fans adored him;
Guys hated him.
Adults were outraged, but 
Elvis was a soft-spoken 
young man from the south,
a bad boy wearing leathers,
a parent's nightmare
with heavy-lidded eyes,
so nervous when he sang, 
he jiggled his legs;
his cross-over music 
a tribute to the blues, he topped
the charts over and over again. 
I only know when his songs came on the radio in Seattle in the late 1950s, 
everything seemed possible, even love,
and we danced holes in the rug.

We're home, exhausted after driving 430 miles, and I'm late with "E" for the A-Z Challenge, but who could forget Elvis, his raucous break-all-the-rules"Blue Suede Shoes," and his contribution to rock and roll?

To read what others have written:

Thursday, April 04, 2013

D is for Delight . . .

When I write, I relax into almost meditation, a focus on other than myself, the routine of early morning driving the day's writing goals into something that wasn't there before. And so, 

I write in delight,
always somewhat surprised
to see words
arrange themselves
on the page.
Writing drives me to detail
that single, lost Canada goose 
heading south last night in the dusk,
alone, honking, 
as if the sound alone
would bring him back to the flock
somewhere ahead of him,
a plaintive call and yet
spring awaits.
I can see him landing
on a wide, cool pond,
far from human eye,
where there, among the reeds,
he finds his own delight.

Canada geese along the Spokane River (Wikipedia)
Most days I work on editing (and writing) my historical fiction. Only in April do I challenge myself with a poem a day. And now to work! May your week go well.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

C is for Cow-licious . . .

A Swiss Braunvieh cow contemplates nature (Wikipedia)
Let us go to the far hill,
my well-flanked one. 
We'll stand there in quiet.
I'll ruminate.
You'll munch on the grass.
Together we'll watch
the young ones butt heads
and run in circles.
And we'll remember
those long ago days of spring.

Today's poem was inspired by a story we overheard at the T-J Diner just north of Medford, Oregon, as we slowly drive home. A rancher said, "I finally got that motorcycle I wanted. I put four booties on one of my cows and called her a cow-a-socki." 

Maybe some days, it's just OK to have fun with this poem-a-day challenge.

To read what others have written:
NaPoWriMo at
A-Z Challenge at

A Round of Words in 80 Days at

ROW80 WEDS UPDATE: Just a quick update. We're still on the road until Friday night. I'm settling in to reading ROW80 as a first-time sponsor and wishing everyone a great Round 2!