Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Coming Home from Work


When I come home from work

the sky is already grey,

            brindled, flocked with clouds

a right turn out of the parking lot,

            down Central Park

to the busy intersection of Grand River Road

where I bump onto the sidewalk paralleling

four lanes of divided traffic

            in a couple minutes I turn again

into my complex

stop by the bank of mailboxes

to see if anyone knows I’m here

            then on to my townhouse with

its bench by the door

which I crank open in order to get

my bike inside before releasing the latch

            turn on the hallway light—

as shadows begin to lengthen.

 

Shut the blinds and eat dinner.

Outside, in the woods it is darker,

the leaves blackening the ground.



Monday, October 18, 2021

Miles From Motown, book review

Miles From Motown
Lisa Sukenic
Fitzroy Books, 2021

I remember moving in the middle of 4th grade—it’s the main reason I still stumble in multiplication. We were somewhere in the times table at one school and near the end at the next school. Thus, a gap.

Making friends was always hard for me, much easier to find books to read—so I usually ended up in the school library. Where I discovered a book that helped bridge the gap in my heart between old and new:
The Wonderful Year by Nancy Barnes

For many of us who value story as a way to understand the world, there is such a book. I believe Lisa’s book will be just that.

Miles From Motown is an ode to Detroit, the Motor City—and more, it is an ode to a certain time: where the Vietnam War is waging, the Blue Flu is infecting the police department, where “White Flight” is taking place as minorities exercise their right to move into the suburbs. We get the sense that Detroit and Georgia Johnson are on the cusp. Of painful decisions, of facing life’s hardships.

But, for now there is only the hurdle of moving and fitting into a new neighborhood, of rearranging her life to meet this new situation. She does this by journaling and composing poems. Before leaving her old classroom Georgia signs up to participate in a city-wide poetry contest to be judged by the poet Gwendolyn Brooks. The only problem is that she is about to move out of the Detroit school system and technically would not be considered eligible for the contest. She contrives a lie and uses her aunt’s home address and submits her poem, “The Spirit of Detroit”. Her poem is about the resilience of a city about to undergo great cultural and societal change.

Even today we see the scars of Detroit on TV news.

This book is about the best of memories growing up in a close-knit family and neighborhood where people help one another and diversity is not something to resist but dwell in. The story written in prose verse moves the reader closer to acceptance of whatever the future may throw at us. With friends and family, all things can be met with courage.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Out Now, new writing

Check out my essay, Books as a Signpost of my Life is in the current issue of Superpresent https://superpresentmag.com/current-issue/

As I lay in bed I tried to think back as far as I could, exercising my memory as if it were a flabby muscle. Pictures spindled across the photo album of my brain. I leaned forward and squinted my closed eyes trying to decipher them. Book jackets. Freddy the Pig, Barnyard Detective. Charlotte’s Web. Little House on the Prairie with the Garth Williams’ illustrations. Little Women—I actually saw the chapter illustration where Jo peers into Beth’s trunk and is overcome by grief.

WordPress.comWordPress.com | Superpresent

Current Issue

Click on the image to view online.

Click here to download a free PDF

Superpresent Issue 4US and Canada – shipping included $21.95

 

Also, coming next month my essay series in The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose, & Thought

ANDDDD out soon a piece called A Whole New Recipe in Dove Tales, 10th Anniversary Issue

Whew! And soon check here for further announcements—writing-wise, until then . . .



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

I thank God

Window open to the night

a candle flickers,

  burns

on the small end table beside my bed

Tonight I feel blessed

  fed

heightened by some kind of glory

and self-confidence

I tell myself: live

in this moment

  bask

in the light of the shuttered moon

  until . . .

I remember I need a flu shot and

I have no health insurance and

I’m old and all alone

 

  Then

I go back to the start

to the slant of moonglow

creeping across my covers and

settle in for     slumber.



 

Monday, October 11, 2021

In Michigan

 "Up in Michigan" is a short story by American writer Ernest Hemingway, written in 1921 and revised in 1938.

A quiet moment

at last

since getting off the train

it has been non-stop

packing, scheduling,

meet-ups, goodbyes—

 

Right now sitting

outside, listening to

birds calling, tweets

There is a bird, I recognize

its sound, like the

squeak of a rusty swingset

when the glider goes

back & forth, that reminds

me of Lake Erie, of

vacations there. Indeed

I am reminded that there is a

lake nearby, not even a quarter mile

away, Lake Lansing.

 

The street is lined with flags about

20 yards apart—the route for the

Homecoming parade for this evening.

In the distance the high school

band practices, the big bass drum resounding

across fields & backyards. As much as

I’ve been away from Middle America,

there is far-flung memory of

fall nights, bonfires,

wood smoke, burning leaves

in the air, lingering

brought to my attention

with every flap of the flag,

with every drum beat,

with every call of the birds.

 

This moment, this now

is “Pure Michigan,”

a truck just passed;

the driver waved . . .

 


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Old Stuff in New Places

The type of “new” writing I tend to do lately has been about chronicling my life transitions:

move to Eugene, OR

and now

my move to Michigan

There are mornings I wake up and wonder where I am

Currently even the familiar feels new, as I search for routine

Each task has felt like a challenge, though I’ve done it a hundred million times:

shower

x-stitch

run

watch Netflix

sit quietly with a book

taking out the trash


Nevertheless, it is the first time in my new home in Okemos, MI to have done these things—muscle memory reminding me of their past pleasures.

I want the new to feel old, and the old to feel like home, but right now everything feels out of place.



 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Now: the Big Move

There was a relief to be in a van heading back toward Uptown and my apartment building along the lakefront. I’d retrieved my 2 bikes and checked-luggage and, after cramming it all in the mini-van thought to myself: Oh my God how am I going to move with 100x this amount of stuff in a mini-van?

You see, I refused to acknowledge I had stuff. I’d flown to Eugene in December with a bike and a suitcase and was still subconsciously suspended within that model. Except now, I had 2 bikes and a whale of stuff to transport.

Change of plans.

Let’s just say once I went to my storage unit, I saw the light. I’d need a truck 

So for the past 5 days I’ve been on a treadmill of packing, meeting up with old friends, appointments with bank, haircut, etc. Oh, and plus my Zoom class for Story Studio. I was packing more than just stuff, I was packing life into these 5 days left here in Chicago.

On Saturday I had a full day of storage unit, meeting up with Rian, the friend who came out to see me and bike in Oregon—we biked downtown and chatted, catching up and saying good bye, for now. Then I stopped at Women & Children First for a copy of a book, the author of whom I was meeting up with coffee. Lisa Sukenic and I sat and chatted outside of Kopi’s in Andersonville, talking about her book(s) as well as mine. I’m still trying to find hope after the miserable launch of my last novel, Cloud of Witnesses, which I likened to a turd on the sidewalk people step over. It seemed no one wanted to read it. Lisa tried to persuade me otherwise. Kind of her.

Her current novel, Miles from Motown, and her current work-in-progress all have to do with Michigan. How fitting! I’ll be reading the next one as well!

Finally it was back to my place for a party. A Going-Away to-do. This was a perfect parting. This was in contrast once again from the departure last December in the grey morning when Sandy pulling out of her parking spot and spotting a falcon on a fence post said, It’s a sign

At the time I thought: Of what? What? I had no idea. Of the unknown. Of what lay ahead. Of life.

My daughter was about to give birth. Now I have a grandson. I left lonely and afraid in a pandemic. Now I leave with confidence, covered by love and good wishes, in a pandemic. No longer alone. Just like the theme in my novel, Cloud of Witnesses, I am surrounded, by imperfect people with foibles and fears, but nevertheless great love and courage, with their own stories. We are all on a journey.

At the start of the party I was given and received the Bicyclists Prayer of Safety. Which I thought was a made-up thing, but no!—it’s on the Internet and they printed it off and framed it for me.

So now it goes with me—with ALL the other boxes I’m taking.

 


May the Lord be with you at home and on the road, 

and with you on your journeys.


May God bless you and keep you safe on your bicycle. 

May you encounter the risen Lord in your travels, 

in the freedom of the open road, 

in the fellowship of other cyclists 

and in each person you meet.


May God grant you that which cannot be bought or sold:

appreciation of nature’s beauty

deep breaths of fresh air

    strengthening your heart and lungs

        clearing your mind

space to face and resolve your inner conflicts

bestowing courtesy

a gentle tread upon your path on earth

pleasant memories as you lie down at night


These are the blessings we ask for you.


May God’s mercy, grace and love shine upon you, 

now and forever. 

Amen.


take note of bike specific d├ęcor





those little bikes were laser cut

friends for ever big time