Friday, May 31, 2013

Letting Go - Poetry Jam

Letting Go

A thumb unfurls
Fingers slack
The other grips
Pulls a bit back

The arms are near
The steps in sync
No words to hear
No gazes meet

The city hums
The street is loud
The cars rush on
The masses crowd

One turns aside
Speaks a word
Breaks the stride
Wrenches free

The other stops
Looks on until
She turns a corner
Starts up the hill

His vision mists
He moves along
The motion assists
The letting go

The letting go
Is the easy part
Though moving on
Breaks the heart

She will come back
The mantra starts
She will come back
The paces continues

She will come back 
She will come back
She will come back
She will come back ...

Parting from a loved one is not always saying goodbye forever, is it ?  And yet, parting from a loved one is so unsettling sometimes. It leaves one off balance and unsure and emotionally panicked.  The rhyme pattern in this poem seemed unbalanced when I put it together, but on thinking about ‘saying goodbye’ I left it (for the time being) so as to convey that back and forth, topsy-turvy feel of parting when you don’t want to part …

This poem is being shared with the writers that contribute to Poetry Jam - this week's theme is one of 'goodbyes' ... I hope you read others' poems and share your thoughts. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summertime Creep Out ... Under The Dome Read Along!

It takes a group of readers to bring me back to Stephen King. I haven't picked up any of his fiction since The Stand because that particular novel scared the living bejesus out of me so much that I had to put it down. King has such a way of creating really sinister and creepy characters that get under my skin and make me jittery ... and I don't like jittery. Heck, I don't even like the jittery that three cups of coffee can bring on!

Natalie, blogger over at Coffee and a Book Chick must like coffee jitters AND Stephen King jitters, as she is hostessing a summertime reading of his novel, Under The Dome. This is just in time for us to get the story straight before the television mini-series adaptation hits the tube in June. Well, I'm trying to expand my genres, so I thought I would give thriller/horror genre another try and why not go all out with the king of the genre?

Stephen King and I have funny past. One of my first experiences reading King was with Salem's Lot. The summer that I was nineteen, my family vacationed on Cape Cod for two weeks. Salem's Lot was my beach read. My younger brother, jokester extraordinaire, knew that I was creeping out on the vampire thing and came to the outside of the screen window of my bedroom one night while I was curled up reading . He scratched on the screen and stood there with a blank zombie look while I had a heart attack and screamfest. The creep ... I have never lived it down. Yeah, Stephen King has definitely made an impression ...

When I came down with a severe cold and respiratory infection while reading The Stand, it became too much. I put that book down and never looked back. So coming back to Uncle Stevie is a huge thing for me. I read his memoir On Writing earlier this year, just because I am so curious to see what goes on in that mind of his. Now, I think I might be ready to come back into his creepy fold for a while.

I can't promise I'll make it through this tome, but I'm giving it the old college try! So ... off I go to dive under the dome with the rest of the readers .... I have a funny feeling that things are going to get real weird, real fast!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Fortress of Solitude - Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem's book about young Dylan Ebdus and his life-long friendship with Mingus Rude made be cringe, shudder, shake my head in wonder, and finally, sigh in resignation. The book is touted to be a 'fictionalized autobiography' of Lethem's years growing up in Brooklyn during the first throes of 'gentrification'. It is a relentless slog through a childhood lived from the apartment door through the gauntlet of the streets to  'P.S. # Whatever' by a nerdy little white boy with a half-cocked mother and a nerdy little white boy artist of a father ... poor kid. He gets a world class introduction to the art and music of the era, but lacks any real family connections that extend beyond the apartment walls. To boot, his mother abandons the family while Dylan is still a young kid, leaving his detached father to raise him ... or let him survive among the other detached souls in Gowanus. Dylan builds his fortress of solitude year after year, developing a keen mind and an alleycat's instinct for survival. He becomes a social chameleon.

Consequently, young Dylan observes the goings-on in his neighborhood - the young kids making their way on the sidewalks and in the alleys, playing ball, learning the fine art of tagging, forming alliances that will translate into neighborhood gangs when they are older, dodging the drunks and the druggies, and surviving until they can escape the neighborhood or carve their own turf within its boundaries. Dylan meets Mingus and together, they form an alliance of sorts based on comic book heroes, music, and the basic prurient interests of young boys. Their teen years become a laboratory of artistic experimentation in the development of their 'tag identities', sexual and drug experimentation, and slowly negotiating their future tracks.

I know this is a 'smart book'. It's well-written. It's edgy with its constant referral to the art and music and atmosphere of NYC and its environs during the emergence of soul, disco, punk, and the alternative art scene. It is heavy with local color, the various political initiatives of New York politicos, and name-dropping, the story moves along and my heart aches for Dylan and Mingus and their crony, Arthur. It's everything that a young urban writer might want to put down on paper, but it left me sad and lonely and bereft and thinking of that old spiritual called 'Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child' ... perhaps that was Lethem's point?

Guess I'll go back to a light read after this one ...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Smoke Signals - Mag 170

Ponytail by Last Exit

smoke signals

those early days burnt hot
smouldering experiences
that we banked like coals
saving the memories
grey tendrils curling
upward to scent the air
until we needed warmth
then we each found
coals that glowed
yours in your eyes
mine in my fingertips
just enough heat
to start a fire 
wisps of smoke
from seasoned wood
and then a flame
a fire worthy of
december’s chill

This poem is shared with the writers who contribute to Tess Kinkaid's weekly writing circle called 
The Mag - to see what others have given this week, click the link and read on ... perhaps you will be inspired to join in.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Snapshot - A Couple Of My Heroes and a Story

It's been so long since I submitted a Saturday Snapshot that I am a bit ashamed! I just don't know how I fell off the routine of setting aside a photo and making time to address it for Alyce's photo share! Well, I'm back again and will  try to be more consistent! And it's so nice to see all of you again!

This week, I decided to honor a couple of my heroes, it being Memorial Day weekend here in the States and all! So here we go!

First, this is my Dad, Richard William Miller. Dad's going on 91 and has gotten to be somewhat of a lovable curmudgeon. Back in the day, though, he was the life of the party, a real live wire who was nicknamed Bing. Can you guess why? I always thought he looked and sang like Bing Crosby and seeing him in his Naval uniform makes me think it all the more! Dad was in the United States Naval Air Corps at the end of WWII. Thankfully, he never made it into active combat, but he didn't know he'd be sidelined when he signed up. He was able and willing and he joined up like so many other young men of that greatest generation. What a guy! What girl isn't completely enamoured of her Dad? Of course, he's my hero! Thanks, Dad for being brave and true!

My second hero is actually a deceased veteran of the Viet Nam War. His name is Glenn Andreotta and he was an Army helicopter crew chief. In March 1968, he and his helicopter crew came upon one of the most horrific massacres during the Viet Nam War. The My Lai Massacre became notorious for its level of bloodshed perpetrated by our American troops.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Mag 169 - Down East

                                                                                                                 Lighthouse Dandelions by Jamie Wyeth 

Down East

On golden May dandelion days
we joked about spinning gold.
We’d be millionaires, you said,
if all those flowers could be spun.
Instead, we made wine.

Dandelion dreams took you far
but I am like a bumblebee,
content to ramble o’er our hill
nuzzling clover and comfrey
instead of flying up and away.

I walked down the field today,
nudged the blooms aside and sat,
craning about like Christina and
willing you to bring the wine jug.
Instead, I talked to the bees.

The sun continues shining.
The clouds pass over all.
The waves beat on incessantly.
Our home is just as cozy.
I miss you, dear friend.

Turn your back on golden neon,
towers and streets all straight.
Soar back with the gulls
from the city garbage heap.
Come at spectacular sunset.

Come when dandelions nod.
We’ll lie on the hill and
blow wishes to the heavens.
plant seeds among the stars
and sip our wine together.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Cold Harsh Truth of Beauty - Poetry Jam

Frost Feather 3 - photo by Sir Knight Moore

The Cold Harsh Truth of Beauty

What cold remote bitch do you presume to be
Sweeping the catwalk , trailing Valenciennes that
Resembles frost feathers

The North wind that rushes with you
Pulls silver glitter free from your hair
Cold crystals for the masses

Some float free and waft toward the gallery
Riding frigid currents of AC to land
Like so many snow flakes

You look straight ahead toward a star
Cold white light beams pierce blue eyes
Caress that cold brittle shell

No warmth penetrates this arctic blast
Soft ululations like a winter wind
Tap tapping hands like sleet on pane

And you stomp on toward the after party
Waving white arms and trailing lace
Wintery stick branches in the breeze

Cold chemicals can capture blue eyes
White skin, soft lace, hard lips
The cold harsh truth of beauty

What lies beneath the permafrost
Remains a mystery for some man
To unearth when glaciers melt

Inspiration comes from many places. I was looking at a dress ... and the model who wore it.

Poetry Jam is a place for sharing inspiration and its result ... look at what others have gleaned from the challenge to think about crystals ...  

The Last Runaway - Tracy Chevalier

Running away from life, from embarrassment, from cruelty, from pain, from oppression - these are central themes in Chevalier's latest historical novel. Honor Bright, the central character in this novel needs to leave her home in Britain, after being jilted by her fiance. Rather than facing the constant pity of her staunch Quaker community, Honor opts to emigrate to America with her sister Grace. Grace is going to be married to a Quaker shopkeeper in Ohio and invites Honor to accompany her. Quiet, reserved Honor grabs the chance to get away from her painful situation, but when Grace dies from yellow fever before reaching Ohio, Honor is left to her own devices and the kindness of strangers.

Honor's solitary journey takes a new tack when she discovers that there are people in her new community who aid runaway slaves find their way to freedom in Canada. Honor develops a conflicted relationship with a cocksure slave-catcher who pursues Honor's attentions. When Honor marries a good Quaker farmboy, she hopes that her life will return to normal, but no. She is faced with feeling the interloper in the family by her husband's female family members. She sees the telltale signs of runaways as they pass through the fields, hide behind the sheds, shelter in the woods and she feels compelled to help them along in her own simple way. She leaves water and food hidden behind the barn, leaves a shed door open on a cold afternoon, finds ways to give short messages of directions to the next safe spot she knows. In her own way, she is running away from the constraints put on her by her husband and family and defying their authority as a way of asserting her own moral identity.

Honor Bright is a character I wanted to stand by and nurture, as her hat-making friend does from afar. She is a woman who needs the encouragement to be 'who she is', to kiss off the constraints of her overbearing and petty relatives. Her moment of making a stand forces her husband to take stock of his own situation within the family and step out to claim his wife and child and live with more freedom ... at least that's MY take on the story.

So... who is the runaway in the title she or he?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Mag 168 - Terminal Talk

Photo credit: Toga Gokbakar

Terminal Talk

I know you, mein Schatz …
You’re thinking of coffee.
Just smoke your cig, dear!
The stuff in the machines
Would rot a hole the size of
Hoboken in your belly.

How ‘bout we sit ?
No? We can’t sit? No?
These new rules are killers.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know!
You know, we should quit
But then what would we do?

We could hold hands?
You old billy goat, you!
I know you, Liebling …
Just smoke your cig, dear!
We’ll get coffee later,
If the bus isn’t too late. 

Tess challenges us to write to this old couple's snapshot ... others have posted on The Mag . Check it out ....

Poetry Jam - Bees Theme


we wish to flit in sunshine
passing from one sweet face
to another, smiling, passing
peace and sharing a nectar
called tea

instead we skitter like roaches
the moment a hum and whir
of drone nears waiting for the
roar and buzz and shudder
called impact

we hope to send little workers
off to swarm o’er field with
kites and string or strap for
wood or baskets for joy
called play

instead we throw down mats
in corners under walls, behind
rough sheds and draw shawls
and children close in silent wait
called prayer

when will the queen bees wake
from silent slumber mindless
propagation endless sacrifice
buzz forth to halt these hornets
called death

I am agog that we condone a swarm of drones to pass over and amongst innocents, creating 'collateral damage' in an area of the world that we would otherwise wish to calm and repair ... the concept of hive collapse might well be looked at when we contemplate our foreign policy, for doesn't this attack from nowhere serve to blacken the hearts and minds of the very people we wish to be moderate, productive, and democratic? How can simple people understand the higher cause of our war on terrorism when it is their villages and fields, houses and neighbors being blasted by these swarms from out of nowhere?  The ethics and politics of war outrage me for I am one of those simple folk - I just want to be a small bee in my little hive - just like those women so far away.

This rambling post is offered to the weekly Poetry Jam  ... see what others have written when contemplating the idea of 'bees'.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly

The parallel tragedies of human loss and the spirit's defiance come together in this story of a modern teen's struggle to overcome the tragic loss of her younger brother and her family's disintegration after the boy's death. This modern tragedy is set against the backdrop of a trip to Paris, arranged by her desperate, yet distracted and work-harried father. What happens in Paris becomes a transforming experience for young Andi Alpers - a parental 'putting down of the foot' forces her to attend to a required Senior Thesis that she is required to do prior to graduating from her posh Brooklyn prep school. The thesis, her passion for music, a chance meeting near the Eiffel Tower, her music-loaded iPod, and her immersion in the events of  The Reign of Terror carry her off on a journey of discovery - an inner revolution that changes a forlorn depressed teenager into a more self-aware survivor.

This is a terrific book that is well researched and doesn't dumb down its content or edgy take on modern teen culture for its young adult readers. I have to respect that. It nudges itself a bit more space against the more frivolous teen reads on the library shelf. I can only hope that Donnelly continues to give her young readers more meaty books like this.

Couldn't help making connections to Neil Gaimen's Neverwhere when reading the passages about Andi's tour and adventures in the catacombs ... creepy and reminiscent of Dante's Inferno too.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

What is it about a toxic marriage, strange disappearance, infidelity and police work that is so darn fascinating? I don't have to try too hard to bypass the tabloids,  reality shows, and investigative reports, but a good 'who-done-it' novel will snag me every time. Gillian Flynn has written a real page-turning novel this time around - her newest, called Gone Girl, has been a real bestseller and I understand why.

Nick and Amy Dunne have a storybook relationship ... at first. All the lovey-dovey fades, though, after a few years of marriage, the onset of difficult employment circumstances, and a real come-down in their living situation. Somehow, Missouri just isn't the same as New York City for Nick and Amy. While Nick makes the adjustment by starting a neighborhood bar in his hometown with his twin sister and helps to shoulder the burden of caring for his gravely ill mother and senile father, Amy is at loose ends. She hates small town life, the fact that she's living in suburbia and not cool vibe Brooklyn, and the minutiae of tending house and kowtowing to her in-law's needs grates on her. This does not bode well for the marital relationship and as the 5th anniversary looms, Amy goes missing.

Where did Amy go? Is Nick the hapless and crushed husband of a murdered wife or a conniving low-life murderer? The reader is left to try figuring the angles and coming up with the solution to this thorny situation. Amy's and Nick's point of view is set out in alternating chapters that reveal just how messed up their marriage has become and just what these two will do to push each other's buttons.

I could not put this book down ... and right up to the last few pages, I was shaking my head and wondering how things were going to come out for all concerned. The last book that did this to me was Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent . Flynn's novel can proudly sit next to Turow's on the crimie shelf at the library! Good job, Ms. Flynn!

Now, I hear the movie rights have been bought up by Reese Witherspoon ... THERE'S a perfect role for her! Can't wait to see if she can pull it off!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Benediction - The Mag 167

                                                                                Young Woman Picking the Fruit of Knowledge, 1892 by Mary Cassatt


Cast off the virgin cloak to see
The world –
Pull on a bright white talisman
Of truth –
And on it write all your heart
Craves to know –
Hold close the best and cast
The rest to crows.

See what others are sharing with the writing circle over at The Mag - this image should help bring out many interesting poems! Thanks Tess, for another interesting prompt!