Thursday, September 28, 2017

September 28: The Role of Poetry?

When words emerge
in a certain shape on the page
or rhythm within, close to the sounds
of each vowel of my heart,
I think poetry is a little anchor
to this moment, something small,
so personal that
what remains on the page
is hard to share with others
and nearly impossible to read aloud.

But these words help me recognize
my own white hair in the beginning of winter
in that line of snow birds heading north,
and to see again the ending of summer,
as we walk along this tree-lined path,
leaves above us curling red and yellow to brown.

I do not count words in a poem
or rage as much as I should
against all those worldly wrongs.
Some stories, some poems resonate
larger than life, then slip away,
one line at a time. Like a crane,
Its steady walk profound,
I move without regret . . .
as yet, unfinished.

Today’s poem tries to answer Tamara Woods’ question, “What is the role of poetry?”, in her post for OctPoWriMo HERE. The picture of that beautiful white crane comes from Jeffrey Stemshorn, a Tucson photographer with the vision of a poet who is dear to my sister.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September 27: Follow the Flower that Bends

Even in early spring,
one flower always seems
to bend in its own direction,
as if to say, “Follow me. I know
where I am going.” 

Over the years, I have followed you
here and there, everywhere,
at home in a world of other-ness,
affirming we are one community, at peace.
And then nature blows the flowers away,
the houses, the wires that connect us so well,
bringing death and destruction.
“We know death is
inevitable,” one forlorn wife says,
“But that does not mean
we are ready.”

I am wishing for
that one flower that points the way,
bending slightly to a path
that few follow.
In the spring, we will shake loose routine.
A lot older now, we cannot quite travel
as we once did. But our hearts
are together,
here and there,

Today's poem came early this morning as we prepare for a trip that means we'll be far from internet from October 7 through October 25. Despite my commitment to OctPoWriMo, I won't be able to post that daily poem. But I will write in my journal and post on our return, hopefully with pictures and new adventures to share.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

September 23: Lost in Translation

She stood center stage
and began to sing in Spanish,
that song she wrote over the summer.

I caught a word here and there,
mi amor perdida, a tale
of love lost unfolding,
and I recognized in that lilting beat
set by her hands in tandem,
guitar and voice,
a stylized dance, answer and response,
her voice quavering with passion. 

The audience remained largely unaware
of nuance or pain,
or how much we lost by not knowing the words,
those words that spun away.
She had no CD, and I had no way to remember
this moment of performance,
the young guitarist who sang from the heart,
of her lost love and all
that lay before her.

Today's poem honors the singing and songwriting Brigid Walsh who sang at September’s POETRY RISING gathering here in Spokane, hosted by Stephen Pitters. The next POETRY RISING is set for November 15th, 6:30 pm, Barnes & Noble, Northtown.

Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22: Between

Something of beauty:
Isn’t that what we aspire
to make concrete
the indefinable?
Somehow between and
out of the bits and scraps of our lives,
whether hours in an office or at home,
we do create harmony out of chaos.
Yes, sometimes ‘tidy’ will win.
But, who paints
with abandon at 3am?
Who makes the moment come alive
by tracing a line of pine trees
against a star-filled sky?
Or dreams with the tenacity of a writer,
who word-by-word
builds a poem?

Fall at Finch Arboretum

Today's poem came along because I had no time. Meetings ahead. A long list of to-do, longer than I can do today. So I thought of all the times when we work to make space for others and ourselves, those moments that do nurture us.  And somehow this picture I took at Finch Arboretum talks to me of the change of seasons and what we do 'between.'

Please consider joining the month-long poetry challenge that begins October 1 by writing a poem a day. Find out more HERE for OctPoWriMo

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sept 20: On Rocks and Spines

Who can see the turn of seasons
in the blossoms that turn to brown
here in the desert?
We pick our way past cactus
in every form.
Even guardian Saguaro promise
months of heat ahead
while palm fronds wither.
The rocks remain,
sedimentary in layers,
sturdy, persevering.
We return each year,
snow birds who warm our bones
in this land of rocks and spines. 

"Secret Garden" by Jeffrey Stemshorn

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Today's Poem: "Cosmos"


Sometimes we forget
the stars spin above us.
As we wheel through the sky,
an unending cycle of stars circles us.
We turn again and again,
day to night and night to day.
We burrow into each precious day,
encumbered by schedules and routine.
We take this round of days for granted
until we count the hours to that moment
when time stands still
and we see the stars anew.

Eagle Rock Sunset & Milky Way Time-Lapse

Yesterday's poem "Rockpile" is still at draft stage, but the images in this one-minute video led me to write "Cosmos" as I explored Flickr and found Kevin's video of "Eagle Rock Sunset & Milky Way Time-Lapse."  See more of Kevin's work HERE, including some stunning shots of the eclipse. 

Expect to read more about rocks . . . a little later.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

POETRY on the road . . .

That poetry writing challenge, OctPoWriMo, starts October 1. Am I ready to write a poem a day for the entire month of October? 

Don't know, but here's a warm-up poem inspired by Daily Write:

On the Road

Slam shut that lock on the suitcase:
We’re ready for another trip.
I don’t care.
Just shake the dust
off those tired beds
that slant to one side,
those early mornings
that roil with routine.
Am I too old to travel without a destination?
Don’t think so.
We’re all headed to our own unique ending,
with or without grace,
as fast as we can go.

from Daily Write

Sign up to participate in OctPoWriMo by October 2  
(or learn more about this poetry challenge)  CLICK HERE

Friday, September 15, 2017

Taking a risk: Radio Interview!

Stephen Pitters, congenial host of Spokane Open Poetry (and sometimes prose), kindly interviewed me today for his radio show on KYRS! This half-hour show features poets, writers, and musicians and is broadcast locally and world-wide through Radio Free America.

I showed up with notes and printouts ready, uncertain as to what would happen, for this was my very first radio interview.

Stephen invited me to sit in front of a massive microphone as he tested my sound levels.

"Louder!" he said.

"Like I don't want the back row to fall asleep?" I replied.

We laughed.

Stephen's friendly welcome put me right at ease. His interview format, a balance of chitchat alternating with my reading made that 25 minute recording session fly by.  I read a short story, "The Last Mermaid," and three poems from a soon-to-be published poetry chapbook. He was a wonderfully appreciative audience. This reinforced my sense that Stephen Pitters works hard to create a nurturing environment that promotes art and culture right here in Spokane. What a wonderful resource.

Stephen's interview with me will air Saturday, November 18 on KYRS from 11:00-11:30 am.

You can also listen to his interviews (including mine at some point), right on his Open Poetry Spokane webpage at:

Some tips Stephen shared with our local authors' group, Spokane Authors & Self-Publishers last month:

  • Listen to the show ahead of time to get a sense of tone, substance, and style.
  • Avoid date stamps when I talk (since the interview would be broadcast at a later date).
  • Use those filmy paper protectors for your script to avoid paper rustling.
  • Lay out your script (printed in a BIG font; I used 16) in the order you wish to follow.
  • Use family-friendly vocabulary or risk getting bleeped!
  • Consider what listeners would be interested in and select readings that let the listener know why and how you write, what you write about, and hint at my storytelling style.
  • Bring a little more than you will use for the time (approximately 25 minutes) and include a short piece for the very end of the program.
So, how did I really do? I loved sharing my poetry and short story. The interaction with Stephen was so very comfortable. His focus made it easy for me to talk about what inspires my writing. I forgot a few things . . . like including my website or that my books are available on Amazon and Smashwords. Bottom line? I feel welcomed into a new community of people who love poetry.

Just in time for next month's poetry writing challenge hosted by Morgan Dragonwillow, October Poetry Writing Month OctPoWrMo, in which we try to write a poem a day . . . Why not join in?

If you are in the Spokane area, why not join Stephen Pitters as he hosts Poetry Rising at Barnes & Noble, Northtown Mall, on this coming Wednesday, September 20th, 6:30-7:30pm. This reading features Laura Read, Spokane's poet laureate.

Friday, September 08, 2017

IWSG: Have you ever . . . ?

September's question from the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

'Tis true. I've always written something, and I've often been surprised by what I write. Poetry. Short stories. Flash fiction. Not until I retired did I begin writing those longer stories that turned into books. But I still like to play with genre fiction, science fiction, thrillers, even as I commit to writing historical fiction, a process that typically takes me 3 years to finish one novel.

So now, when I'm very close to finishing the last (and third novel) of a family saga, I'm feeling a bit itchy. So many directions are possible . . . and yet, how will I know which is the 'right' one for me?

Don't you admire those writers who find their niche and simply tell wonderful stories that lead from one to the next, seemingly so seamlessly?

That's not me. Just as much as I love traveling and living in other countries whenever possible, I enjoy playing with words and contexts that don't really seem to have much to do with each other. Well, except for the previously mentioned three-novel family saga set in Scotland, Australia, and Canada.

For example, when we traveled in Turkey for a month, we discovered two pillars from the Roman era hidden in an out-of-the-way waterworks in Istanbul. The head of Medusa instead of being at the top of the pillar, was now reversed. Her eyes blank and unseeing, her hair of twisting stone snakes. And her story not known.

This next month, I will finish Rivers of Stone. Perhaps I'll be writing a poem a day (or a flash fiction a day) for the month of October. Maybe it's just OK to work a little on this or that, knowing that one morning, the story that began as a thread of an idea will take me on an unexpected turn. 

For I believe that IF Medusa was once a girl with dark eyes and beautiful long hair who bewitched all who saw her, that she never expected to find herself so feared and, finally, upside down and hidden deep in a cistern in Istanbul.

I'm not feeling so insecure about where those next writing ideas will come from or what I'll be writing next, for each morning begins with promise. For now, I appreciate those writers and readers from the Insecure Writer's Study Group who blog about what we all care about: the process of story telling. 

May you all have a good month. And a special thank you to this month's IWSG's co-hosts: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure!

You may read more about Medusa from the Smithsonian or from my own Travel Blog