Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gratitude



Thanks for these gray hairs
Thanks for these weird discolored spots
(liver marks?)
Thanks for my thunder thighs—
They help me to climb the stairs
Thanks for wind in my pipes
(to climb the stairs)
Thanks that I can sing
Thanks that I sing badly
Thanks for stretch marks
Thanks for a great big ass
Thanks for the gaps in my teeth
because without these teeth I would never be able to
Eat Little Debbie Nutty Bars, Hot Tamale candy, and
those addictive restaurant-style tortilla chips.
Thanks for the flab under my arms—
they’re like little bat wings!
Thanks that I’m not dead.
Thanks for one more day
to dance naked.

Friday, December 12, 2014

You Know Summer Is Over


You know summer is over when
—snow piles up on window ACs.
You know summer is over when
—all the swimming pools are empty hulls.
You know summer is over when
—the streets glisten from icy rain.
You know summer is over when
—you shiver stepping out of the shower.
You know summer is over when
—even the dogs put on jackets.
You know summer is over when
—the marigolds die.
You know summer is over when
—they bring the patio umbrella inside.
You know summer is over when
—the mice run into the house.
You know summer is over when
—Starbucks begins to advertise their Pumpkin Chai Latte.
You know summer is over when
—the lake turns green beneath a slate gray sky.


Can you think of a few of your own?
--send them to me in the Comments!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Seasonal Poems from My Boy, James Schuyler

This past weekend I went down to Columbia College (here in Chicago!) for the annual Chicago Book Expo. I'm fairly modest when it comes to purchasing books and journals. I simply don't have the income to buy as much as I want. My priority first and foremost is to support my friends--thus I bought Pig Park while at The Book Cellar. Anyway, I just HAD to buy a journal called the Court Green when I saw that they had a section in a particular volume dedicated to James Schuyler. Fans of this blog know that that's my boy.

It always seems that around this time of year I like to spotlight his poem December ("Katherine going on five" is Katherine Koch who contributed an article about Jimmy in the Court Green) and the Zen-like Advent.

Here is a throwback to an earlier blog: I Just Can't Help Myself, where I have written out part/all of these poems.

--The day looks warmer than it is.
Jimmy and Liz by Fairfield Porter

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This Year

2014 was a momentous one for my critique group. Myself an another member both came out with books. Check out:
PIG PARK by Claudia Gualalupe Martinez

CLICK HERE to order
Aren't we the BEST! 2015 is bound to be even better.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Die-In



Yesterday, Sunday, instead of services, my church joined with other groups across the city and country to protest the recent grand jury decisions and, in general, the increase in aggressive policing tactics. I attend a multi-generational, multi-ethnic church so there are always lots of opinions—in this instance we were on the same page. 

 I was proud of us and the energy that went into the message. There was art, singing, and performance; we certainly got people’s attention. The most powerful demonstration was when we put “bodies”—clothes stuffed to look like bodies out in the middle of the road with sheets covering them. The sheets had names (representing several recent policing fatalities) painted on them in black lettering.

 Now for a self-revelation: I was really uncomfortable during the protest. I didn’t want to walk in the road, stop traffic, or perform civil disobedience. It wasn’t that I was afraid because in a heart beat I’ll speak up or unwisely intervene in stuff happening right out in public, in my vicinity. But I barely could get the words out of my mouth . . .

This discomfort annoyed me. I wanted to be better than this. I wanted to be bad ass. I had to ask myself—don’t you believe in justice, racial equality. Yes, but do we have to make such a big deal about it? Do I need to be here?

I remember having these kinds of conversations with my mother over civil rights. Actually conversation might be stretching it. She usually shut me down straight away by saying this is just what I think or every time I look at him/her I just get sick to my stomach. This is just how it is. Please don’t try to change me. Or, I don’t want to change.

Yesterday I was confronting my past, my family, just how things are, my fears, my prejudices, my brokenness. It wasn’t supposed to be easy or fun. It was meant to bring attention, raise the consciousness/consciences of every single person.

I was part of the “die-in.”

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Sweet Memory


Do you remember these?

Every Christmas all four of us kids would find a Book of candy Life Savers in our stocking. Right away I’d eat my favorites—what were they?—most likely wintOgreen and cherry. Then I’d move onto secondary ones. Until all that were left in the “book” were butterscotch and rum-flavored rolls. They might stay bookmarked well into February or March.

Sometimes my sister and I would make trades. Swap one of hers for one of mine. The boys most likely gobbled theirs down before New Years.

We came to expect the Book of Life Savers. Even the year Mom was in the hospital, we recognized that familiar oblong box sticking out of the cuff of our knit stockings. Even after we left home for college and one or two of us might return home for the holiday there would be a Book of Life Savers waiting for us.

For my parents it might have been a throw-away gift, an easy pick, something they didn’t have to put much thought or effort into. But, for me, in the rearview mirror of memory, it is the one thing they gave me at Christmas that still sticks out. I’d be hard pressed to remember all the toys, games, books and records under the tree. A couple stand out, but, in the end, they became the throw away gifts. Records traded in for cassettes for CDs for downloads. Books traded in at the used bookstores or sold on-line for new ones or left outside in the free box. It got to the point where you couldn’t even give things away. All the useless crap. Especially after my parents moved after Dad retired. I didn’t have room for the stuff Mom had saved in the basement in case we might want any of our childhood “treasures.”

All that stuff is gone. So also Mom and Dad. Just yesterday at Target I saw a Book of Life Savers in amongst the assorted holiday candy that takes up a whole section of the store. Customers rushing around me must have thought I was crazy, standing there tearing up. 

--Remember to remember to download my NEW BOOK

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cyber Monday! Get Affirmed!

NEW from me--in time for Cyber Monday!
365 days of affirmations, positive thinking, and writer prompts.
Check it out here at Amazon.

Having a bad Monday? Get affirmed.