Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for X-rated . . .

Don’t look,
writer at work,
netbook balanced on her lap,
wires everywhere,
story unwinding,
connected, disconnected:
the sun shines bright
through the motel window,
early morning quiet
after a night of strangers
talking loudly down the hall,
bumps and thumps through the wall,
X-rated, some one else’s story.

Read what others have written for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge HERE.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Wander . . .

When Wonder Bear 
and Charlie Chicken
out the door
and down the dell
far, far away,
I could not hold that moment
in my hands;
even though my fingers curled tight,
I could not call them back.

Photo by Pete Toscano (Flickr)

Read what other A to Z Bloggers have written HERE.

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vietnam . . .

This morning, I saw Pammy Pam's post on V is for Viet Nam, listing books about that war for younger readers. Throughout the day, I've thought about that long ago era when young men were drafted into the Army and went to Vietnam as they were told -- to contain communism.  

Here's what I know.

Those who were drafted were impossibly young.
Many were black and Hispanic and poor.
Some were patriotic. Some believed they were doing the right thing, that their government needed them.
Maybe they dreamed of being soldiers.
Atrocities occurred. Not all were reported.
This was a real war with guns and blood
and war crimes. We used napalm
that fell on soldiers and civilians.
We used saturation bombing.
We sprayed Agent Orange on the jungles as a defoliant, so the enemy could not hide its troop movements.

Some men in a single moment called up bravery somehow,
when a decision to shoot or not shoot meant death.
Many of those who served came home with nightmares
and a distrust that has been very slow to heal, 
nearly 50 years later. 

At home, a very few protested against that war. 
They faced repercussions, 
sometimes the loss of family, friends, and country. 
My sister attended a peace rally in Los Angeles; 
she saw protestors arrested and bludgeoned by police.
I read that 125,000 left the U.S. for Canada.
Their protest began maybe
because they refused to be drafted, 
or because they believed this war was wrong.
The protest became a national movement and helped 
to end American involvement. 

Since the Vietnam war ended, so has the universal draft;
these facts should be remembered:
Average age of soldiers during the Vietnam Era: 23.
Of the 1.5 million Americans who served in Vietnam between 1963 and 1973, 58,220 were killed; 150,000 were wounded.

We withdrew from Vietnam in 1973.  
We lost that war. We did not stop the spread of Communism.
South Vietnam reunified with North Vietnam. 

Numbers of Vietnamese exposed to dioxin/Agent Orange: 4 million. Effects of our use of dioxin continue today.
We can only estimate the numbers of Vietnamese
(and Cambodians, and Laotians) who were killed and/or wounded during this war, or whose lives were transformed,
as the lives of our soldiers and their families 
were irrevocably affected. 
I would rather write about peace, 
I would rather believe that peace is possible,
but today, V is for Vietnam.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Unreliable . . .

I have unpacked once again,
arranged all for that ultimate
sense of home,
flowers here,
bed there,
a kitchen of sorts along the wall,
a door of cardboard, all utterly
manageable, not quite
the utopia we talked of,
our futures blended, 
unreliable, unknowable.
Spent, we face each day,
upbeat, making order out of chaos,
seeking beauty in the smallest kindness.

"Homeless" by Ryan (Flickr)
We have much to be grateful for every day, well past the essentials. So as we wind down to the end of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, this poem came along, a celebration of the letter "U". Sometimes I think we don't realize how close we are to living homeless.

Read what others A to Z Bloggers have written HERE.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Tangent . . .

Shall we travel to Tangiers
and sit again in that roadside cafe,
sipping hot mint tea?
Or drive along Tortola Boulevard
near the tar pits, the oil
coating the back of our throats,
the sunset murky red on the horizon?
Or watch that blonde tarantula in Tucson
go hunting for a mate,
right on the sidewalk in front of us;
he'd strayed there from the desert,
but he owned that sidewalk.
Or shall we wander down the streets
of old San Telmo in Buenos Aires,
the music of tango tempting us 
once again to sway to the beat
set by accordians,
perhaps to dance.
My suitcases stand by the door.
I am more than ready for a tangent.

I taped these three street musicians playing Klezmer on the streets of San Telmo in this 11-second clip. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Someday . . .

I'm meeting my daily commitment to editing. But I can tell when I'm falling behind, for I don't water my African violets, and they're really pretty. Someone once told me that flowers emerge when the plant feels threatened. Maybe that's why they are purple gorgeous. So, do I water the poor little things or write a poem?

I won't care to write,
but it's not tonight;
the African violets
will have to wait.
Meanwhile, I will ignore
that high-pitched hum, tinnitis, 
for the humming of this story:
my characters battle enemies 
within and without,
ward off omens, 
ignore the raven's last cry,
sail to new lands, 
and awaken renewed. 

My African violets (Camp 2012)

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Restore . . .

I wish I had a button
marked restore
somewhere nearby, 
a simple set point
that would take me back
to certain moments in time:
our first kiss at 3 am
that night we got locked in 
at Ghiradelli Square;
or just holding your hand as we walked
along the wetlands near our house,
the red-winged blackbirds marking spring;
or that moment you sang Brahm's lullaby
when our daughter was born,
and you can't sing.
That point in time wouldn't have to be
memorable. I would start all over again
and cherish each day.

Allen and Beth
Los Angeles, 1975

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quicken

In the earliest days of spring,
winter presents itself, 
the last of the ice or snow, 
tree limbs as sticks into the sky.
My hands and feet are cold,
yet, something quickens,
the first crocus,
the smallest redbud,
the day the robins return,
that stretch of light a little longer
each evening,
and I can put aside those dark thoughts
that come in the months before spring,
before you told me
you carry a child.

Busy week, yet still time for editing and writing. Sundays for the A to Z Challenge, thankfully, is a day without blogging, a day of rest. Read what others have written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge HERE.

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Parsnip . . .

That pale white root
that lays on your plate,
rather like a carrot
left over from winter
that someone boiled
far too long,
disguised with parsley and butter,
a parsimonious vegetable,
knobby and true
to its own sweet self.

Parsnip (Wikipedia)
Still hanging in with a shorter poem today for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Read what others have written HERE.

I was amused to learn that parsnips are actually part of the parsley family -- grown by Romans, with winged seeds. But the lowly parsnip has its dark side; if you handle it too much, the parsnip may give you a skin rash!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Oleander

Sweet smelling oleander,
your fragrance hangs 
on the hot Phoenix air,
your narrow shaped leaves, 
like an olive tree,
Athena's gift
dark with promise.
You are toxic in every part,
like some men I have known,
dogbane to the heart.
I pass rows of you
planted along the freeways,
safely enclosed in my car,
belching out my own poison.

We moved to Glendale when I was a teenager, our house in a run-down neighborhood just outside of Phoenix. The two gigantic oleander bushes planted as guardians on either side of the front door did not protect us. Today's dark little poem came from that long ago time.

I learned that oleanders are the official flower of Hiroshima as they were the first flower to bloom there after the dropping of the Atomic Bomb, thus a symbol of renewal, rebirth and hope, despite its poison.

Oleander (Wikipedia)

Read what other A to Z Bloggers have written HERE.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for napping . . .

Close your eyes,
sink into pillows.
Don't set that alarm. 
Let the sun 
burn a hole in you,
or maybe just roll over,
cat nap the afternoon away, 
a nap without dreams.
Fifteen minutes,
twenty minutes
can make
you whole.

I thought about writing a poem about the importance of saying no, but I'm too tired. Napping sings its own song to me tonight. Researchers add that caffeine and napping can increase alertness and performance, though some look on napping as a weakness, a luxury for children and the elderly. And some folks can only sleep in their own beds.

Read what other A to Z Bloggers are writing this month HERE

Stella the Cat, Philadelphia (Camp 2009)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Maybe

Maybe today is just
one of those days 
when nothing much gets
done. I'll sit by the window
and stare at that blue, blue sky,
one or two clouds low on the horizon,
and the cherry blossoms 
will open, perfuming the air. 
Maybe today,
the hummingbirds will return.
Maybe that little black-banded flicker
hopping in the grass
will build a nest. Maybe
I can trust a night without frost
until the seasons turn.

Cherry blossoms, late spring (Camp 2012)

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Ladyfish . . .

If I were a fisherman,
I'd try to hook you,
you skipjack, tenpounder, 
Spanish hogfish, slick and fat,
a poor man's tarpon at up to 22 pounds,
you bony shrimp eater, 
dubbed by the Greeks a serpent.
Most catch you 
for the sheer pleasure of the fight, 
throw your bony body back,
into murky coastal waters,
not good eating, but
I'm not a fisherman.
I'd rather swim with you
out into the deepest parts of the sea,
and when the babies come, tiny larvae,
transparent, translucent,
I will sing to you, and your
half-eyelids will quiver at the sun.

Read what others are writing for the A to Z Blogging Challenge HERE.

I do love fishing, don't mind getting up very, very early or gutting out a nice salmon, not at all like buying fresh-caught fish from a store. But this poem was inspired by three things: a copy of The Mermaid Quilt & Other Tales sold this morning on Amazon, the word "ladyfish" (really evocative) jumped off the Scrabble list of "L" words, and Wikipedia filled in the blanks. The ladyfish actually is long and skinny and very bony, but to a hungry fisherman, I think it would look sleek and fat.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for . . . Klondike Bar

Everyone should have
some private indulgence,
a bite into chocolate,
sweet as sin, dark, far easier
to surrender, eyes closed, 
to those tastes that distract and delight,
hot and cold, 
than to pitch my book
or stand in front of strangers
and read aloud. I'd rather be 
eating ice cream, out on the back porch,
watching green leaves unfurl
on the tall willow tree.
Wouldn't you?

Today, I'll be rolling downtown here in Spokane to read a bit from one of my books. I thought I was looking forward to this reading, but why did I wake up thinking of ice cream, my go-to comfort food? My favorite? Dreyers's Grand, chocolate with peanut butter clusters. Too bad it melts. I've put it aside for a time, more interested in calories and health than sweets. Actually, I haven't eaten ice cream for several months now, but I still remember the taste. It seems funny to be thinking of ice cream at 6 am, but that's what came along with the letter "K" for the A to Z Challenge.

Read what others have written HERE.

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for . . . Junket

Join me, you jaybird,
sleeping jarhead, I’m jealous.
Bring your jazz-filled guitar.
We’ll jet down to the jetty, you and I.
Don’t jinx this precious day: 
we’ll jam on our jolly johnnyboat,
under the jewel sun, 
drink juleps 'til we’re jittery,
jangled and jawless, 
a joyful, jasmine-scented day.

Just an egret in the bayou, Florida (Camp 2008)

Check out what others have written for the A to Z Challenge HERE.

My other writing deadlines loom, but 'tis fun to play with words. I'm finding inspiration on a list of Scrabble 8-letter words. The sounds of J-words jiggle, jostle, jerk, and just jell.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for . . . Ink

I think
we all recall
that moment when
someone wrote with pen and ink,
wedge-shaped pictograms,
sacred illuminations 
fan-fold codices, 
lemon letters that twist brown by candle,
read backwards in a mirror.
No longer do we sit,
enthralled by elders’ tales;
Guttenburg’s gifts of ink and press
transform us and we transform others
by naming, those words
tattooed on paper, on computer screens, 
on our very selves,

Photo by Christine Mitchell, Flickr.

Read what others have written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge HERE.

Just for today, my book Standing Stones is highlighted on -- check it out! Or, sign up to receive recommendations from for good reads in the genres of your choice.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

H is for Hoarding . . . Books

When did I begin
holding each book close,
books I shall never read again?
How many are enough? 
These books that document 
my life into verse
and chapters?

I bring the quiet of a library
into my house,
arrange my chair just so,
the proper reading light,
sometimes a snack,
and fall into someone else's reality.
Never mind,
it's not my story, 
I'll slide sideways
into someone else's beginning
until the end.

I'm a bookworm, a bibliophile. I love books for what they contain, and I love simply the act of reading. Some of my earliest memories are of reading, sitting in a small children's chair and turning the pages of my own book. When I move to a new town, I don't settle in until I hold a library card, entry to my second home. On a first date with my husband, he took me to a small library in San Francisco to show me where Richard Brautigan wrote his stories. We used to go to used book stores everywhere; now, we just have too many books. What shall I do with the books I collected for teaching? Many are gone now, but boxes remain. As do the memories.

Allen's passion is travel. Oh, the libraries we have visited and the books we have seen -- original fan-fold codices in Mexico, illuminated manuscripts in England, even a tiny small tablet several thousand years old, with the first example of wedge-shaped writing, a cuneiform, brought out from a back room by a librarian to show us because we loved books.

My favorites, all the libraries in Scotland, the British Library -- so immense; and then in Buenos Aires, a theater has been converted to a grand bookstore -- El Ateneo Grand. After you have exhausted yourself, you can sit at a small table, look at the books you've collected, sip strong coffee, and listen to soft tango music.

El Ateneo Grand (

See more pictures of El Ateneo HERE.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

G is for Greece

Porch of the Carytids (Camp 2004)
We walked along the Plaka,
stopped for coffee
at an open-air cafe
and talked of this and that,
then up the hill
to the Acropolis,
a long walk on old stones
with an early morning crowd,
all marveling
at tumbled stones
and those still standing stones,
arachaic columns,
stylized friezes,
and the Kore,
their calm facades
looking out
from their own temple
over the city
and time, long past.

Kore (Camp 2004)
Below in the museum,
each Kore retrieved,
fixed anew in her own space,
linked to the cult of spring,
once holding flowers or a bird,
followers of Persephone,
down into the Underworld as
the seasons turn again
and again,
Kore (Camp 2004)
yet serene.

Read more of the Acropolis HERE and the Porch of the Caryatids HERE.

Column with Lotus (Camp 2004)

From a little research, the maidens shown on the Porch of the Caryatids are linked to the goddess Artemis and a spring festival where they would dance like "living plants", but their finely stylized hair is echoed by the Kore.

So perhaps the Caryatids is a specific name for when the female sculptures are used to support the building as pillars, for in the article about the Acropolis, the Kore are linked to Persephone. But the academics still argue about this.

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

Sunday, April 06, 2014

F is for First Snow

This year, I am grateful every moment for spring, the first forsythia blooming, the first hint of green on willows. But somehow as I caught up on downloading images from my camera, these photos of a memorable walk last winter in Manito Park linked to the A to Z Challenge (for me, a poem a day), all I could think of was:

First Snow

Our fingers crisp with cold,
we walked through the park,
our footprints, trajectories of hope
on iced pond,
the park bench bare,
shrubs along the path, ethereal,
delicate, etched with pure white.

Further along, we walked
Past a double column of elms,
their branches bare against the sky.

We followed the path under a weathered stone bridge,
sheltered for a moment from winter’s wind,
the path ahead, slick with ice,
as if last year’s long winter were a memory,
as if we could not remember when the darkness began. 

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

Saturday, April 05, 2014

E is for Elephant's Foot

Think Chernobyl,
molten masses melting
at over 2,000 degrees Centigrade, 
then solidifying in layers 
to form a lump of corium 
underneath the reactor,
nicknamed Elephant's Foot.

A poet once said,
we might die by fire,
but ice would suffice.
This is the fire
that will melt our bones.

I would rather watch
an elephant eat the heart
of a baobab tree.

Today's poem is late as I volunteered at a book sale that took up most of the day, and my feet are trash. 

I took this little, 21-second video during a trip to Tasmania in Africa two years ago where we did see this small elephant eating the inner, soft bark of a baobab tree. You can hear our guides talking softly; "Sowa, sowa" means "Let's go!"

The baobab tree is considered by some to be that mythical upside-down tree, for its branches look more like roots, another World Tree that began all life as we know it.

I never thought of elephants as destructive particularly, though we've all heard of elephants run amok, perhaps maddened by restraints. Yet we could follow the path that the elephants had taken, so marked by downed trees.

I'm trying to write a poem a day as part of the April A to Z Challenge. Read what others have written here.

Read more about Elephant's Foot and Chernobyl here.
Read Robert Frost's poem, "Fire and Ice" here.

Friday, April 04, 2014

D is for . . .Deciduous

I would rather be like you, 
oak, elm, maple,
shedding leaves at the proper season,
that flame of red in the fall,
my branches mere sticks in the winter,
when the birds turn south,
lighter somehow
of those night terrors,
able to see showers of stars
through my bones.

Then into spring which brings
the barest of buds,
through that season of gray rain,
when songbirds return
and build nests in my hair,
their chirps a joyful noise,
as I bloom full summer green,
the round of days before 
and to come:

Japanese Garden
Manito Park, Spokane (Camp 2011)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

C is for Constancy

C is for Constancy . . . 
A paradox, like love, 
that state couples enter,
anticipating decades of happy-ever-after
between thee and me. 
And so I write, 
imagining words do not change 
their meaning over time. 

Instead, each day, 
I construct meaning
out of each breath, each touch
on the keyboard,
each moment held fixed
and changing through
scene, character, plot, setting,
all those tools of a writer,
not the least, heart.

We construct meaning,
you and I, each day:
countless ways I show you 
that I love you yet,

Tyree Callahan's Chromatic Typewriter (2011) 

I did fall in love with this image, found on internet, and discovered the Chromatic Typewriter, created by Tyree Callahan, a gifted painter and creator of the typewriter. Read more about Tyree Callahan in an article by Twisted Sifter and on his blog.

Check out what others have written for April's A to Z Challenge. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

B, Baby, B

When no one quite knows yet
that you are here, 
a baby bump
in the overall scheme of 
everyday life,
riding to infinity,
possibilities streaming
like that dimple in Beethoven's ear,
glorious music
bopping, bursting forth,
bringing hope
with your first flutter.
That's when
I believe, baby. 

Leda at almost 2 (February 2014)
I'm a grandmother and just now I've learned that little Leda Rose will have a baby sister or a baby brother, a few days after Halloween. I say, "Trick or treat!"

And on we go with the A to Z Challenge. Read what those other 2,000 plus bloggers are writing here.  Note: That gorgeous letter "B" is the work of Jeremy Hawkins.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Introducing an amazing cover from Tia Bach

Over the last two years of being active in A Round of Words in 80 Days, I've come to know Tia Bach, writer of paranormal fantasy for young adults. 

Today, I'm thrilled to introduce her forthcoming book and hot-off-the-virtual-presses cover:

Chasing Shadows (Tala Prophecy, Book 2)

Reagan thought one night changed her life forever, but her fate was written long ago.

Merging creature and white blood,
One of flame, one of night,
At eighteen years it will commence,
Spiritual warrior and power,
Will bring an end to the lawless ones.

A war looms: One that pits brother against brother for werewolf supremacy. Angels and demons will each have a say before a victor is chosen.

With her eighteenth birthday only six months away, time is running out. Reagan must find a way to harness the two powerful, ancient bloodlines coursing through her: Werewolf and Wiccan. Then, she has to figure out her role in the century-old prophecy foretold by her great-grandmother.

However, if Reagan can’t save her family from her most vicious rival, Rafe, the forces of Hell will be unleashed and the war will be over before it starts.

For more about Tia Bach, check out her blog, Depression Cookies.

Here's the link for Tia's first book in this series, Chasing Memories

You can add Chasing Shadows on GoodReads 

NOTE: This gorgeous cover was designed by Jo Michaels 

A to Z Challenge: A is for Anachronistic

I unwind into morning,
fingers curled over the keyboard,
too aware of decades lost,
almost anachronistic.
Yet April begins another spring,
I am here, in this place and time,
and I am writing.

April 1 begins the first day of the A to Z Challenge, and I'll join 2,000+ other bloggers with that commitment to write every day, inspired on day one with the letter A.

My themes will be mostly scattered as my office is these days, too many projects -- writing and quilting, but this has been a long winter, and the snows have finally, finally melted. Even my African violets have begun to bud.

I will try to write a poem a day.

I write historical fiction, immersed in mid-19th Century. One novel has been self-published. The second is in final editing. Another awaits in the earliest of reading and research phases. But I begin to know that plot. The characters already have hopes and dreams; their doubts are surfacing. I will do some research/reading, but my primary writing goal for April will be to finish the edits on Years of Stone.

If you are a blogger participating in the A to Z Challenge, may you find inspiration each day!
We each will be reading what others have written, up to 10 each day. Read what others have written here! Or check out A-to-Z on Facebook.