Tag Archives: #poetrycommunity

From Anne Lamott’s Pen

Following a writing prompt requiring the poet to pull words from a published book, I ended up with this poem. I wish I could remember which prompt I used–and how much I varied or not from it, but it was a couple of months ago. And these months have been full of work stress, so my memory looks moth-eaten.

The book I used was Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a popular “writing text.” The subtitle is “Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” and I would say that the instructions are more on point for life–and maybe that’s why it is so popular!

 

WHAT TO NAME A CAT

(in the voice of Anne Lamott)

 

Find God

Propmaster

On Loan

Crazy Clocks

Special Effects

This Effect

Ring True

One Door Shut

R&B

Therapy

God’s Home

Samuel Beckett

Dirty Feet

Tiny Word

Redemption

One Leaf

Wordsworth

Rumi

Personal Drama

Delusion

Gorgeous

Pure Radiance

Way to the Truth

Present Moment

Home

Each one of these names resonates for me with what cats mean to me. Gosh, that sounds like an essay assignment for fifth grade. A fun assignment!

Maybe you can find a name for your next cat from my list haha.

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The Cat of a Thousand Expressions

This one is going to be short because I am burdened with too much work-work lately. But I wanted to let you know that my dear darling sweet Perry might have something serious wrong with his heart. He has to have an echocardiogram. I will report in on the findings, but the test isn’t for a little while, although my vet seemed anxious for him to get diagnosed ASAP so he can start treatment.

Has there ever been such a unique and special cat? The answer is no. His face shows almost a thousand more expressions than those of other cats. These are subtle, complex, and always in flux expressions. He had a little test at the vet, and he was soooooooooooooo good. And when she asked to see inside his mouth, he opened it up wide for her. No, this is no joke. (Let me remind you they thought he was feral when we first found him hahahahaha).

Pear Blossom is taking Clavamox for yet another UTI, poor girl. She had to have an anti-nausea shot because after a week of that medicine, her GI system has had it. She takes it for 3-4 weeks at a time. Pear is 19 and has medical issues, but we’re enjoying our time together.

Tiger is struggling to keep her weight up. She might have a pancreatic issue. Right now, I am trying to keep her at 6.9 pounds. She no longer looks like the chubby little sweetheart she did a few years ago. I can feel her ribs.

The other cats are vying with each other for attention . . . .

***

I thought you might like a little Facebook tip today. Do you know how to delete a group of posts on your timeline all at once? Or hide them from your timeline? On your wall, turn to the “grid” view, then click manage posts. Little white boxes open up and you check the ones you want to either hide or delete. You can do up to 50 at one time. Then click next and you can choose whether to hide or delete. What you need to know is that if the post was originated by someone other than yourself (you can see the tiny profile pic in the top left corner of the post image) you can only hide, not delete.

***

Make it a good week. You are loved!

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Brainstorming Instagram


Do you like social media? I don’t mean in an “all in” sense or that you view it through rose-tinted glasses. You can accept its flaws. But in spite of its flaws, do you like it?

I really like Instagram. I wish I could “share” Instagram posts from other accounts to my own without using an outside app. But other than that I like it because it’s very visual. That means it is pretty like Pinterest is pretty. And it doesn’t have a lot of opinions ricocheting all over the place like Facebook does. Trust me: I have my own opinions. I don’t need everybody else’s.

More literary magazines are developing a presence on Instagram, and I like that, too. And more poets and writers. But are we making the most of Instagram for our words?

I’d like to put words with images in a more productive way on Instagram. For instance, tiny poems or micro stories.  Have you seen the like? If you do something like this yourself or have seen it done, please share with me usernames.

A concern I do have is that lit mags and writers are posting quotes from new poems and stories on Instagram, and the writing is not tight enough for that purpose. The shorter the piece, the tighter it must be. Here’s an example of what I mean. “The morning sun trembles on the horizon at 7AM.” I made up that lousy sentence, but see how the time is mentioned twice? That is the kind of loose writing I see in some of these quotes.

Next question: I don’t usually post my blog post photo on Instagram when I publish a post. Should I do that? Is it good to do a tie-in like that or is it boring to see too much of the same thing?

One thing about Instagram as social media: I think it might be less social than some others. There doesn’t seem to be a good means for more than two people conversing about a post. You can horn in on someone else’s conversation, but it’s not really in the way you can discuss on Facebook or Twitter. In this way, again, it feels more like Pinterest, which feels the least social of all.

FOLLOW ME AT CAT POEMS!

What sort of photos do I usually post?

  • CATS
  • ART
  • NATURE AND LANDSCAPING
  • WRITING
  • FOOD
  • FAMILY
  • FAMILY HISTORY
  • VINTAGE CULTURE
  • ODDITIES
  • DOLLS
  • TINIES
  • TRAVEL

Pretty much my usual topics haha.

Happy Independence Day on July 4th!!!

One of my tinies

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An Elegy for a Beloved Friend

On May 6 I posted about a poem I wrote for a friend who recently passed away. I had written the poem during #napowrimo. Today I am sharing the poem with you. I don’t plan to send it out. Writing it was the most important experience.

However, it has been shared with others. It turns out her husband loved it and published it as the poem for the pamphlet at Nancy’s Celebration of life. The title refers to Nancy’s way of saying goodbye, whether in person or on phone or by email. And for cards and gifts she used to wish “light and love.”

You Are Loved

 

We were sketches

you colored in with

your box of Crayolas

You were the model

we studied for vision

You were a guidebook

we the letters in line

You were music we

turned up on the dash

You were a disciple

You were the doyen

You were walks with

trees and caterpillars

You were the one

whose arms reached

around the universe

and whispered in one

word sentences because

each one was enough

light

love

###

Live this life in light and with love. No comments please.

I’ll see you next week.

 

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Sacrifice and Service

Sorry not sorry for blowing up your readers and/or email with my posts in the past week or so. I’ve never had so many poems published online in such a short space of time. It was just a fluke.

Today I’ll say Happy Memorial Day, but give you a sad Memorial Day poem. It’s by James Tate (1943-20150) whose father was a pilot in WWII. His father was shot down and killed in combat on 11 April 1944. Tate was only a few months old, so he never knew his father. Thus are the sacrifices magnified through families and other loved ones.

The asterisks between stanzas are mine. I placed them there because WordPress wouldn’t keep the spaces between stanzas otherwise. Sigh.

for my father, 1922-1944

*

Your face did not rot
like the others—the co-pilot,
for example, I saw him
*
yesterday. His face is corn-
mush: his wife and daughter,
the poor ignorant people, stare
*
as if he will compose soon.
He was more wronged than Job.
But your face did not rot
*
like the others—it grew dark,
and hard like ebony;
the features progressed in their
*
distinction. If I could cajole
you to come back for an evening,
down from your compulsive
*
orbiting, I would touch you,
read your face as Dallas,
your hoodlum gunner, now,
*
with the blistered eyes, reads
his braille editions. I would
touch your face as a disinterested
*
scholar touches an original page.
However frightening, I would
discover you, and I would not
*
turn you in; I would not make
you face your wife, or Dallas,
or the co-pilot, Jim. You
*
could return to your crazy
orbiting, and I would not try
to fully understand what
*
it means to you. All I know
is this: when I see you,
as I have seen you at least
*
once every year of my life,
spin across the wilds of the sky
like a tiny, African god,
*
I feel dead. I feel as if I were
the residue of a stranger’s life,
that I should pursue you.
*
My head cocked toward the sky,
I cannot get off the ground,
and, you, passing over again,
*
fast, perfect, and unwilling
to tell me that you are doing
well, or that it was mistake
*
that placed you in that world,
and me in this; or that misfortune
placed these worlds in us.
***
James Tate, “The Lost Pilot” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1991 by James Tate. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1991)
###
I tried doing a photo shoot with Kana when she wasn’t in the mood. At first she didn’t actively argue about it.
Then she got crabby.

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My Review of Punishment in Main Street Rag

Main Street Rag just published their latest issue, and in it is my review of Nancy Miller Gomez’s chapbook Punishment.

I’ve had a lot of friends who have taught in prisons around the country, and so when I heard her collection was based on her own experiences teaching poetry writing in a prison, I eagerly signed up to review it.

Here is a copy of my review (starts halfway down the page). Click on the image to read more closely.

Punishment is a Rattle Chapbook Series selection, and you can find links to poems and how to purchase the chapbook here:

Chapbooks: Punishment

I’ll leave you with the first and title poem in the book.

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Perry Como and My Mother-in-Law

Now that National Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo are over, I have been revising poems. Mainly, they have been small changes, so either I did better than I thought last month or (and more likely) I am still not seeing them clearly.

Spring is in full swing in Arizona, and everywhere I look it’s yellow, green, and blue.

I’ve been going through some of my mother-in-law’s paintings that were left over after she passed away. (She died 15 years ago, so it’s time to look at them again). The reason I pulled them out is because my daughter moved into her own place, and I am looking for paintings to bring her for her to choose from.

I wrote about my MIL’s art My Mother-in-Law’s Legacy, Part I and My Mother-in-Law’s Legacy, Part II and My Mother-in-Law’s Legacy, Part III

A lot of her paintings are portraits, and those are more difficult to hang on a wall than landscapes. I thought I’d share one of the portraits with you today. Maybe share some more later . . . .

Because my MIL was hired to paint a lot of celebrity portraits, the ones that are left are often “first drafts,” but sometimes she just painted them because they were famous and she hoped to sell those paintings.

Do you know who this is?

That’s right: Perry Como and his family, wife Roselle, son Ronnie, daughter Terri, and son David. Perry and Roselle were teenage sweethearts and were married until her death at age 84.

I love Perry Como’s voice and laidback coooool style. This is one of my favorites:

And this one, of course:

You might prefer different versions, but he’s pretty consistent, so they are all good!

OK, NOW FOR THE BIG QUESTION. Was Perry my sweet cat named after Perry Como?

Wait for it.

Perry the cat was named for Perry Como and Perry Mason!

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Arizona, Art and Music, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape

Four Weeks of NAPOWRIMO 2019 Accomplished!

This week I produced drafts of these poems:

  • At the bottom of the drawer
  • This is What It’s Like
  • Rondeau of the Tone-Deaf
  • Getting Along Without You
  • Empty Words
  • The Bad Daughter Walk
  • First Kiss

For those of you who have read my weekly updates about NaPoWriMo this year, all I will say is another crap week.

Two days left. Then my company will be gone, too. That’s when I collapse.

The other day the gardener had a bit of a scare. He found a pile of sawdust under a dead tree and an oleander bush. The sawdust had not been there two days before.

Looking up, he saw more sawdust.

The immediate thought was termites, of course. The tree is very close to the house, and termites are a common menace in Arizona.

While the gardener was calling the pest guy, I saw another menace acting crazy near me. It was a BIG bee acting like it was mating with another bee–or was it dying? I didn’t want to get too close.

It turns out that this bee is a male carpenter bee. Males can be gold or black, while females are black. It is their mating season, and guess what they do in mating season? Bore into dead wood and oleanders and create sawdust. I didn’t need to worry about this guy; the males have no stingers!

I’ll leave you with a little Perry relaxation.

He loves to climb onto of me and rub his face all over mine and then turn around and curl up in my arms! He also licks as much as a dog (unfortunately). Here he is as Vlad!

And here he is watching his daddy’s garden inhabitants.

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Three Weeks of NAPOWRIMO 2019 Accomplished!

Arizona Ocotillo April 2019

This week I produced drafts of these poems:

  • Poetry is a Big Noise
  • Behold the Needle
  • Notre Dame
  • That Not Nothing That Is
  • Golden Ode
  • Elegy
  • What I’d Like to Breathe In

I thought last week was difficult but this one was more so. To cap off the week, I took Mom to the ER because she didn’t feel well. Other than minor stuff, she was actually fine, but I think she’s getting a little stressed being away from home. Mainly, she had two problems both related to being dehydrated.

Arizona is very dry at this time of year, and she is from Michigan. I warned her and warned her to drink a lot of water. But she didn’t.

That learning experience cost us all a day (and the next for me because the fluorescents are a trigger for my complicated migraines) and Medicare et al a lot of money. But if I hadn’t taken her, we all would have worried.

Because I had to rush through my poem drafts, who knows if there is anything there or not. I’ll take a look at them later on.

Hope you all had a Happy Easter, Passover, or whatever spring celebration you choose.

Perry is dreaming about you ;)!

 

 

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Two Weeks of NAPOWRIMO 2019 Accomplished!

I kept going this week and produced drafts of these poems:

  • Playing Word with Adrienne Rich
  • Nearest Animal Shelter
  • Dis-Ease
  • Out of the Cradle
  • Travel
  • To Keep Things from Working
  • Meeting the Relatives

It was a tough week because I had to travel for work and still keep up with a poem a day . . . .

As another important component of NAPOWRIMO, I pulled out the old poetry anthology I liked to teach from and started rereading from the beginning.

These poets might seem old school today, but without these poets we wouldn’t have the poetry we have today–written by women OR men.

The first poet showcased in this book is Lola Ridge. She’s rarely read today, unfortunately. When she was a little girl she moved from Ireland to New Zealand and Australia, and then as an adult, she moved to the United States, possibly to escape a horrific marriage. She was a feminist and an activist. You can read her bio here. Her first book, The Ghetto and Other Poems, is important for its very modern-like treatment of immigrant life 100 years ago–specifically Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side of NYC. This is the phenomenal section of the title poem that is anthologized in the book:

II

I room at Sodos’ – in the little green room that was Bennie’s –
With Sadie
And her old father and her mother,
Who is not so old and wears her own hair.

Old Sodos no longer makes saddles.
He has forgotten how.
He has forgotten most things – even Bennie who stays away
and sends wine on holidays –
And he does not like Sadie’s mother
Who hides God’s candles,
Nor Sadie
Whose young pagan breath puts out the light –
That should burn always,
Like Aaron’s before the Lord.

Time spins like a crazy dial in his brain,
And night by night
I see the love-gesture of his arm
In its green-greasy coat-sleeve
Circling the Book,
And the candles gleaming starkly
On the blotched-paper whiteness of his face,
Like a miswritten psalm…
Night by night
I hear his lifted praise,
Like a broken whinnying
Before the Lord’s shut gate.

Sadie dresses in black.
She has black-wet hair full of cold lights
And a fine-drawn face, too white.
All day the power machines
Drone in her ears…
All day the fine dust flies
Till throats are parched and itch
And the heat – like a kept corpse –
Fouls to the last corner.

Then – when needles move more slowly on the cloth
And sweaty fingers slacken
And hair falls in damp wisps over the eyes –
Sped by some power within,
Sadie quivers like a rod…
A thin black piston flying,
One with her machine.

She – who stabs the piece-work with her bitter eye
And bids the girls: “Slow down –
You’ll have him cutting us again!”
She – fiery static atom,
Held in place by the fierce pressure all about –
Speeds up the driven wheels
And biting steel – that twice
Has nipped her to the bone.

Nights, she reads
Those books that have most unset thought,
New-poured and malleable,
To which her thought
Leaps fusing at white heat,
Or spits her fire out in some dim manger of a hall,
Or at a protest meeting on the Square,
Her lit eyes kindling the mob…
Or dances madly at a festival.
Each dawn finds her a little whiter,
Though up and keyed to the long day,
Alert, yet weary… like a bird
That all night long has beat about a light.

The Gentile lover, that she charms and shrews,
Is one more pebble in the pack
For Sadie’s mother,
Who greets him with her narrowed eyes
That hold some welcome back.
“What’s to be done?” she’ll say,
“When Sadie wants she takes…
Better than Bennie with his Christian woman…
A man is not so like,
If they should fight,
To call her Jew…”

Yet when she lies in bed
And the soft babble of their talk comes to her
And the silences…
I know she never sleeps
Till the keen draught blowing up the empty hall
Edges through her transom
And she hears his foot on the first stairs.

Sarah and Anna live on the floor above.
Sarah is swarthy and ill-dressed.
Life for her has no ritual.
She would break an ideal like an egg for the winged thing at the core.
Her mind is hard and brilliant and cutting like an acetylene torch.
If any impurities drift there, they must be burnt up as in a clear flame.
It is droll that she should work in a pants factory.
– Yet where else… tousled and collar awry at her olive throat.
Besides her hands are unkempt.
With English… and everything… there is so little time.
She reads without bias –
Doubting clamorously –
Psychology, plays, science, philosophies –
Those giant flowers that have bloomed and withered, scattering their seed…
– And out of this young forcing soil what growth may come –
what amazing blossomings.

Anna is different.
One is always aware of Anna, and the young men turn their heads
to look at her.
She has the appeal of a folk-song
And her cheap clothes are always in rhythm.
When the strike was on she gave half her pay.
She would give anything – save the praise that is hers
And the love of her lyric body.

But Sarah’s desire covets nothing apart.
She would share all things…
Even her lover.

This narrative poem shares as much as a short story in more concise language that vibrates the heart and nerves at the same time.

What you read here is part 2 of a 9 part poem. Although NaPoWriMo wouldn’t be a good time to try it, writing a very long poem like “The Ghetto” would be fun to try if the subject is epic enough. Not a lot of places to get it published, but it could be its own chapbook, I suppose. But what about readers–do readers like to read super long poems?

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