Wind chimes serenade our walk
around the garden, dogs sniffing
under bushes and I watering
and pinching plants, scent of
rosemary, basil, mint, I bring
fingertips to nose, inhaling the green
of Earth Mother in a slowing of growth,
a resting time before sleep.
At midnight she sweeps the street in front
of her house, circling around the family cars,
peering in the dimness of the street light
for errant bits of litter and little lingering leaves.
A black cat brushes along a white fender, igniting
a flurry of spraying and scrubbing, a muttering
of fire and flashing of eyes. Unfurling a hose,
she takes aim of the sidewalks for a vigorous washing
from one neighbor’s border to the other, then splashes
the garage door for good measure.
Gathering cleaners, broom, and trash bin, she surveys
her handiwork as she walks to the house, wonders
if every offensive thing has been dealt with, hesitates,
then returns to the car for one more rub.
This was written for the prompt”Border” suggested on dVerse Poets Pub, hosted by Grace. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s about someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an extremely hard thing to live with for the obsessed and their family.
Crepe Myrtle flowers drift downward,
branches releasing captive blossoms at last.
They carpet squares of green lawn,
giving them texture,
a Pollock painting in progress.
There are some fantastic women writers writing interesting, enlightening, bold stories online but, sometimes, its not so easy to find those voices among the cacophony that is the internet. So. I’m going to share four women whose stories and poems stood out for me recently. Oh, I could share so much more but, if you’re like me, posts with a long list of “what I read online” can be daunting. Why not focus on four gorgeous women and their writing?
First up is Lori Sambol Brody, a writer of incredibly good flash fiction that I discovered this summer. Lori has blown me away with her style, her subjects, and her innovative use of language. The story I’m linking to is the cream of the crop, IMO. Do google her to find more of her flash gems.
“I Want to Believe the Truth is Out There” by Lori Sambol Brody in Jellyfish Review
“I will explore the basement of a cabin in the woods, the halo of my flashlight illuminating faint footprints, bleached femurs, vertebrae. I will drive down the Extraterrestrial Highway and sneak into Area 51. I will not remember how many times my memory has been wiped. On on-line forums for UFO abductees I ask: have you seen her?”
Julie Kane is one of my favorite poets and was Louisiana Poet Laureate for 2011-2013. She’s also an incredibly nice and giving person. I interviewed her for my now defunct blog, NOLAfemmes (do click over and read it), and was honestly surprised someone with her chops agreed to be featured in my little blog. I’m linking to her recent piece about studying under the great Anne Sexton. It’s not to be missed!
“Last Class With Anne Sexton” by Julie Kane in The Dark Horse
“After collapsing into a chair, the first thing Anne did was to kick off her shoes. Then, with a husky voice and great cackly laugh, she asked us to go around the room introducing ourselves and reading one of our poems out loud. I hadn’t brought any poems with me that day, so I recited one from memory, about the women in my family at an Irish wake. Anne chortled her approval. But when a classmate’s poem responded to an ambulance siren with the line “that little thrill when they enter your neighborhood,” Anne let out a shriek. “No, no, it’s not thrilling at all!” she protested. “I should know. I’ve been in the back of too many of them myself.”
The next writer is Alexis Rhone Fancher whom I only discovered last week via a tweet. Her poems in Diode Poetry struck me as honest and fresh. Read and see what you think.
Two poems, “The Famous Poet Apologizes For Not Coming On To Me Sooner” and “The Famous Poet Asks Me For Naked Photos”, by Alexis Rhone Fancher in Diode Poetry
“4. The famous poet swears his wife
is cool with his serial betrayals,
that they inhabit different countries
in the same, small house.
But I’ve seen his wife at parties, how
his philandering makes her flinch,
the face of desperation, choked down,
Sylvia Plath style.”
Another writer I discovered last week is Elissa Altman. I don’t remember how I found her and her blog but I’m very excited I did. She’s an accomplished chef and food writer and I’ve become obsessed with reading her blog. I’m going into her archives to read and every single entry is a big wow. My link is to the first story I read and it’s all about letting go of the material stuff on your life and the hurdles we face in letting go. It’s so good.
“Cleaning the house, tending the weeds” by chef and food writer Elissa Altman in her blog Poor Man’s Feast
“After the painters left, we began to put things away. We stopped. It was overwhelming. A week went by. We couldn’t face the task. What to keep; what to weed out.
What are the memory triggers that bend our hearts? What are the things that break them?”
Such wonderful writing and reading is really an inspiration to me as a writer. We can learn so much from these and other writers about the craft of writing. Aren’t we the lucky ones?
Feature photo is a close up of zinnias in my garden.
(A Wild and Unrealistic Dream or Notion)
All I want on a Sunday morning is to
luxuriate in my laziness. I want to watch
old movies with the volume turned up loud,
the newspaper crackling as I shift my supine
body on the couch, the words of duplicitous
politicians and photos of narcissistic socialites
mashed under my ass.
I want to gaze out my window where heat
rises on the street like steam from a gumbo
pot while I lie, cool as a nectar cream snowball,
in my Maggie The Cat slip, painting my toenails
a color called Bad Influence.
I would sip Southern Wedding Cake coffee
from the chipped china cup I knocked off
the bedside table in a moment of
passion and savor a fresh chocolate croissant,
tender flakiness that melts on the tongue like
vampires melt in the sunlight.
As the sun climbs the sky, I’d meander into the afternoon
with the expectation of an early summer storm when
we would go upstairs and slip between our cool, white
sheets and not be heard from again until
Chimera was published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature in 2012.
Nothing was next to enough.
Rubbed the wrong way
Most of all,
conquered worlds prepared her
to live her life
a burned queen
This set of wonderful found poems in Thrush inspired me to go looking for my own.
Walking past a neighbor’s house, I pause
to smell the pine. A pair shoot up into the sky,
their long pliant needles pointing as if to say,
“Look at the sky, the earth, the air full of flying things!”
But, instead, I close my eyes and pull in a deep breath
of the sharp green scent so familiar it’s a part of me.
The sounds of the city fade as a hushed needle-covered
path rises up and I walk into my childhood.
Lucille’s mother was a gifted poet with only an elementary school education. Her poetry was offered publication but Lucille’s father wouldn’t allow it and forced her to burn the poems in the fireplace. It’s said Lucille never forgot it and I’m sure it shaped much of her own poetry. About the incident, she wrote a poem called “fury”:
“her hand is crying. / her hand is clutching / a sheaf of papers. / poems. / she gives them up. / they burn / jewels into jewels.”
She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for two separate books in the same year: Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (1987), and Next: New Poems (1987). She won the National Book Award for Blessing the Boats (2000); the 2007 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize; and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America in 2010, just before her death.
When I discovered Lucille’s work I felt energized. Her messages of empowerment and self-love are lessons every one of us should take to heart and put into practice. How great it must have been to hear her read in person.