We Once Knew Purity

Like that elegant lily
white and tender — soul
bared in vulnerability.

We once were tender
white-skinned fragile,
our tiny souls groping for
and gravitating toward
all that was fresh and beautiful,
unaware of dark clouds
drifting toward us, storms
and deep-black-rain-caused
mud. Streaking, splotching —
baby-tender opaque skin —
our souls trapped in a
place of harsh-red silence
covered in deep-dark pain.

We once knew purity
and a place before sex,
lust, violence, rape. That old
white candle flickering
inside opaque souls, we
held the light tighter
with each day passing,
terrified always of a time
when lights were snuffed out.

Like that elegant lily
white and tender —
denied water under
a harsh orange heat.
The slow-burning death —
crinkled-black-brown
burning, until an almost
desiccated-withered brown flower falls,
from yellowed-drought-stem to ground.
We once were tender
white-skinned fragile
child-bodies. Bloodied
bruised to brown-purple,
rag-mouthed crusty blood
spilling across dollar store
dirty-worn sheets.

We once were like
that elegant lily,
white and tender souls,
and we sang, laughed,
cried, survived
that slow-burning death,
bled-out innocence marking
sweated-on, dirt-covered
dollar store sheets
in a virgin-red smear.

 

~July 2012

 

Artwork: Gladis110 at Photobucket can be seen here.

Memory of Fire, 1976

journey-svetlana-novikova

Two fireplaces remain
in this house, built in the Twenties.
Their elegance long-lost,
forever-gone,
each leftover mantel
a home for knick-knacks, small
framed pictures, newly received letters.

The living room boasts a fancy
oil heater – modern,
square box of fire —
heat roaring behind tiny doors,
the ring burning bright.
Brown-box filled with fresh oil,
proudly standing
on the hearth, winner
over the old fireplace it hides —
Better than wood and coal,
used sparingly – this precious oil –
on the coldest of days.

Loyal, old dinning room stove
stays true to plain and useful.
It’s black-iron belly – gorging
itself on wood and coal,
a ritual breakfast-dinner-supper.

Each day – You
hot-top, flat-for-use practical friend.
You, I loved and understood,
as you joined me in play —
melting-and-mixing crayons
in old tin cans. Trying to find
that certain-perfect and unique color – Like
a favorite pet: I fed you, cleaned you, played
beside you on cold winter nights . . .
anticipated your warmth
on cold winter mornings.

No fireplaces remain
in this ghost of a house
wavering and faded in my old child’s mind.
Each mantel long gone,
along with the heart pills,
chipped collectable plates,
half-cut school pictures, and
several frayed pieces of unfinished-hand-tatted-lace.

 

~July 2012

 

Artwork Credits: Special thanks for the use of Journey by ©Svetlana Novikova. Please visit the artist at her website or at Fine Arts America to find out more about her work, or to purchase a print, poster, or greeting cards. Also, you can see her information on our Featured Artists Page.

 

Photography Prints

picture with Kathy, 1970’s

We are both dressed
in matching-tan-wool coats
topped-off with elegant tams.

Standing together on stone steps —
green grass thriving at our feet,
buds and blossoms from the rose bush
showing in the corner of the frame.

We are playing “dress-up”
(blistering hot and sweating
under the heavy-wool-weight),
in the famous June heat —
smiling on cue, as grandma snaps our picture,

with an ancient box camera
and old, arthritic hands.

~June 2012

nilsy art

Image by geirt.com via Flickr

Other Reading:

like books

I.

I have been reading
books about people
since I was ten. Then —
comprehension expanding — 
growing, to become
understanding of
people like books
since I was twenty.

At thirty, I could find
the villain in the story —
the hero
always a too-pristine-
perfect-caricature
of reality — the bad guy
realistically-real.

At forty, I picked you
off the shelf
of the world, opened
the last page
and started
reading the story
backwards.

II.

Playing at detective,
sifting through
the last pieces of familiar
before they start to fade.

Not so much
sentimental-nostalgic . . .
those people
those days
that life

forever gone – old ghosts
attached to my shoulders.
Muscles strain, dip
under the weight
as old smiles fade.

When the answers come
I will be
too old to live them.

I carry this
fatalistic understanding
tossed over my shoulder,
held tight like books,
in a coarse-woven rucksack. 

~Winter 2011

 

 

Derivation

I grew up in a small town.
Southern – reserved countryside
where even the roses said grace.

Each fragile part of life
exposed in natural hardship
of daily living. For years

I would believe the old adage:
Everything will be okay.

But, it wasn’t, couldn’t be,
and you knew time marched
hard forward. The end
coming on a mild February day.
Your promise to never leave me —
broken.

Three days later in a silk-lined
casket, your final sleep.
Lowered, leveled, the dirt
softly rolling down
to cover you. This deep-dark
iron-fed earth your final home.

The beat of my heart, flesh-torn,
forever changed, a murmur
of loss traceable — back
to the day of your leaving.

~June 2012

Your Hands

Harvey and Irene Gosnell
(My Maternal Grandparents)

After all these years,
a quarter-century past,
there is a printed-off copy
an old black-and-white photo
holding your images,
sitting framed on my desk.
I pick it up —
So genuinely the two of you
in looks, posture, characteristics
that I am
brought to heated tears —
as I hold you in my hands

Three generations
of daughters grown to life
in the house with a garden,
tea-cup roses, gladiolas, daffodils,
and tiger-lilies painting
the vast-long days lived
held in your hands.

I’m the last
almost-daughter
of your ancient, dark days —
(One born of blood-love,
One born of mercy-love,
One born of sorrow-love.)
Fifty years of little girls
becoming women
becoming lost — slipping
from your hands — but you

planted the seeds becoming traits
that would manifest and bloom
over time
like the much-loved roses
down the side of the yard.
We were all cultivated
in the same love,
the same soil.

I hold you in my hands
suddenly notice
that your hands look worn
old and tired
from all the years spent
planting and harvesting.

~May 2012

In the Dark of My Soul

Dusky non-dark lightness 
the kind that comes only
in those no-name motels, 
secret places of meeting
where the darkness
of strange rooms is muted by
lined-orange curtains, 
where parking-lot-lights caste 
ethereal shadows: 

you come quietly to bed 
like nothing uncommon exists 
in my being there drowsy 
head on your pillow,
clothed in your shirt. 

Your body, stiff in the act 
of lying down, carefully 
trying not to wake me 
from my almost-dream-state 
sleeping. Your 
warm-volatile 
spark-laden energy 
forced 
into submission -- still atomic: your skin, chest warm, 
hips touching -- 

rolling, turning, wrapping 
myself around you -- 
normal-necessary touch, 
like a moth to flame -- 
the burning-shock 
epiphany moment, 
in an old motel room --you, 
a bright-white imprint 
in the dark of my soul.

~May 2012

 

ky

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ getting yanked from some library shelves

I’ll never accept or agree with banning (burning) books. What I read is MY CHOICE – parents can prevent children from reading inappropriate materials, but “banning” in any fashion is government control over our freedoms (what few remain?)…

 

 

E L James’ kinky bondage-themed Fifty Shades trilogy is still finding a massive audience — the three books currently occupy the top spots on The New York Times best-seller list — but if you live in Wisconsin, Georgia, or Florida, you might have a harder time finding the titles in public libraries. Counties in those states, including Brevard County in Florida and Gwinnett County in Georgia, have pulled the “mommy porn” books from its libraries, deeming them “too steamy or too poorly written,” according to the AP. Other states and areas are expected to follow suit.

the type of man sex came to possess

~for MG

I thought of sex
when I first met you —
deep strides, dapper dress,
piercing eyes —
it all resonated, a chill shiver
down the depth of me &
warmth spreading deeper
with my crimson thoughts
because you are the type of man
sex came to possess,
own — carry
into closed rooms, silk beds.

The glass of wine
sparkling amber, glass bubbles
move in the glass,
the world rattles on around us
while your words fall
on the table between us
and then,
I am stunned
by the words, their rich
deep colors, meanings
moving into an acid-like Trip
in my brain. Stunned!

You have amazed me!
My words turn
around, crawl back down
into the velvet parts of me

as I realize
what you don’t –
I am too naive for this
conversation. Too distracted
with the thought of undressing
you to understand beyond lust.

Why do your words
keep spilling down, around, rolling
across the table, tumbling
to the floor
to lay like marbles
on the gleaming wood?

~April 2012 

Reading Billy Collins

Poetry is an...

Poetry is an... (Photo credit: liber(the poet);)

makes those trite phrases
in your poems glare and shine
like fools gold under a Texas moon.

Suddenly, all your poems stand up,
like age-old, long-gone Cowboys,
Yell out to the bartender:

Gimme’ a strong shot a whiskey! NOW man &
a beer for chasing down self-destruction,
to make it easier

to swallow all that black bile
you-they once considered poetry.
Reading Billy Collins makes

those dead-drought moments –
writers panic at a blank page –
rise up to a slop-house surface

in your mind. Mocking voices decry
an untalented impostor, not poet.
And then

the sun shines.
A feather-beam of light
falls across his final stanza

and hope returns — a dove-promise of the future,
whispering of a time to come
when, you too, poet-becoming, will be read.

 

~April 2012

 

Billy Collins is a wonderful poet and served as the United States Poet Laureate from 2001-2003. You can find out more about him at his website. FREE audio downloads from his collection, The Best Cigarette, may be found here

My Five Favorite Blogs of 2012

February is a month dedicated to love. The month we seek out a valentine of our very own, a like-soul with whom we can share joy, hope, and happiness. This celebration of love makes February a perfect month to do a post about things I love. Or, more specifically, the top five blogs that I love. It’s with that concept in mind that I give you My Five Favorite Blogs of 2012 post.

I spend many hours each month reading blogs on a variety of topics from all over the web. Oftentimes it amounts to over a hundred different blogs in a month. Some I read occasionally, but others become a ritual for me (like the morning coffee and daily newspaper). The five blogs below are just a few of the great blogs out there, but they are a part of my “ritual reading” due to their quality and my enjoyment. I like these writers and the stories or information they share.

These blogs are specifically notable because of their high-quality writing and their interesting and refreshing approach to topics. My favorites selection was based on the following criteria:

  • Vibrancy and consistency of voice;
  • Adherence to expectations of theme;
  • Lovely, crafted writing; and
  • Stimulating and/or diverse content.

I hope you’ll take the time to visit these blogs and sample the writing. And, if you’d like, please feel free to share some favorite blogs of your own in the comments section below!

1. 101 Books http://101books.net Author, Robert BruceI’ve been reading Robert’s blog for over a year and am always happy to see his newest post arrive in my Inbox. Simply put, he’s on a mission to read the books off a Time Magazine list (see his description below) and the readers of his blog are involved in an interactive journey with him. 101 Books is a great blog that explores literature in the here-and-now, with direct audience feedback, rolling conversations, and extra fun “tidbit” posts along the way. Robert introduces himself and his journey on his About page:

My name is Robert Bruce, and I’m a 35-year-old full-time writer and former English major who loves to read. I currently live in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m going to read all 100 of Time Magazine‘s greatest English-speaking novels since 1923 (plus Ulysses). I don’t know how long it will take. After all, I’m married, I have a ten-month-old, and I like to train for marathons. But hopefully I’ll get through this list before my eyesight goes bad and the interwebs stop working.

Robert has a friendly, non-assuming guy-next-door quality to his writing that I love. It’s obvious that he’s a literate person, but he never hits his readers on the head with who he is; rather, the reader comes to know him through the warm conversational tone of his posts. He’s a guy you like and trust almost immediately. He’s just a normal guy writing about books he loves (or doesn’t) with a warm, friendly tone:

You might’ve guessed at some point that I’m a white guy. Maybe not. But, yeah, I’m a white guy.

I was born in 1976, when race relations in the U.S. were somewhat improving—at least in the sense that we were past the days of segregation and overt hostility. So when I read about some of the things African-Americans faced in the early part of the 20th century, it’s a real eye-opener for me.

That’s what I love about literature—it has a way of giving you a sense of time and place through the eyes of a character who is experiencing it all firsthand. Richard Wright’s Native Son does that brilliantly. I believe To Kill A Mockingbirdand Go Tell It On Mountain are other great examples of this type of novel.( from http://101books.net/2012/02/21/bigger-thomas-growing-up-in-a-white-world/).

His reviews are well-written – containing relevant, striking excerpts from the texts – and can be emotionally and culturally challenging. I was impressed by his posts about David Foster Wallace to the point of buying and reading Infinite Jest and The Pale King for myself.

Robert offers a little of everything to his readers at 101 Books, using the books and their authors as a backdrop for deeper cultural conversation. The blog serves as a platform for discussion of such topics as literature (as expected), cultural mores, racial relationships in the South, current political issues, et cetera. The blog, 101 Books, by Robert Bruce takes my #1 favorite blog slot for 2012.

 

2. NARRATIVE http://richardgilbert.me Author, Richard Gilbert. There was a sheep farmer from… and so starts the unique quality of NARRATIVE. Its author, Richard Gilbert, did own a sheep farm and is a talented and diverse individual as his Bio explains:

I’m a memoirist, essayist, and journalist whose writing has appeared in Orion, Fourth Genre, Chautauqua, Farming: People, Land, Community and other publications. Two of my memoir essays can be read on line, “Kathy” at Brevityand “My Father’s Tractor” at SNReview. Memoir (and) offers the opening of  “Remembering Paul,” about my helper on our sheep farm in Appalachian Ohio, the complete text of which is available on Scribd. Also on Scribd is my Pushcart-nominated Chautauqua essay “A Dry Year,” about rebuilding a pond during a summer of Biblical plagues—heat, drought, locusts, storm—with a legendary excavator who carried a tragic secret.

I operated a sheep farm for ten years, and for those really interested in animal husbandry, Sheep Canada published my essay on the history of selective livestock breeding, “From Bakewell to BLUP”; the Google reader version of part one is here.

I worked in newspapers and university press book publishing, each for more than a decade, was a Kiplinger fellow in journalism at Ohio State, and earned an MFA in creative nonfiction at Goucher College. I have taught writing at Ohio State, Indiana University, and Ohio University and now teach English and journalism at Otterbein University, on the banks of Alum Creek in Westerville, Ohio. I’m writing a memoir about farming and Appalachia.

NARRATIVE is a gorgeous site that looks like a glossy magazine, feels like a high-brow literary e-zine, and reads like a lyric poem. It’s one of the best websites I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, in both style and content, anywhere on the web. Richard has done a wonderful job of creating a site filled with literary riches.

Richard brings his talent and experience to the pages of NARRATIVE in a way that offers insight, technique, guidance, and inspiration to emerging writer’s and general readers. If you love the art and craft of writing – you’ll love NARRATIVE. If you need inspiration or motivation – look no further than the pages of NARRATIVE. Richard writes in a clear, yet lyrical style. His book reviews and style/technique articles are some of the best I’ve found. The site is a treasure-trove for writers and a sheer pleasure to read for any and all who visit.

3. Mother2rah http://mother2rah.wordpress.com by Siobhan Ironically, though I am a Poet, this is the only poetry blog to make the list. I personally believe it’s very difficult to do a poetry blog well. It takes a strong voice to carry poetry in a way that reaches many people while staying true to itself.

Siobhan is an exceptional poet. Her work is often erotic and tinged with sadness – we feel the depth and intimacy of the human heart beating behind the words. She has a strong voice and her poems remain true to her and themselves while avoiding any sense of triteness or repetition.

Siobhan describes herself and life on her About page in a concrete but mysterious fashion. This same duality marks much of her poetry and gives it a hypnotically transcendent feel:

My verse thrives on the tensions inherent in loneliness, longing, and fulfillment – either through the life of the mind or those moments of life in which our senses are filled with the external to the point where loneliness is forgotten.  I have written poetry for over twenty years. I tend to use verse to deliver my observations on being a woman in the world today.  My work is very personal yet holds a universal quality to which most can relate.  (As an aside – I graduated from the University of IL at Chicago in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, with an emphasis in Business & Inter-personal communications.)
In the last few months of 2008 I watched my life unravel and felt helpless to stop it.  I did my best to remain calm and tell myself everything would be ok; it wasn’t.  So, as 2008 came to a close  I wasn’t entirely sure I’d see very far into 2009, however I made it to the end of 2009 and I am still breathing (albeit painfully at times.)

These are raw poems with a lyrical beauty. The writing is deeply moving in an emotional sensory-filled way. The poems breath the poet – we feel the wisp of her presence, but nothing heavy-handed or overly structured. The beauty of her voice shines brightly and the work on the blog revolves around intense intimacy and considerations of love. If you don’t like poetry, you should read Mother2rah – you may fall in love with poetry after all!

4. Charles J. Shields at http://www.charlesjshields.com I became acquainted with the work of Charles J. Shields through his book, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. I reviewed the book on this site (go here for that review), and was surprised and pleased when Mr. Shields dropped by and left a comment thanking me for the review.

I started following Mr. Shield’s blog at that time – about the process he was going through writing his new book, And So It Goes – Kurt Vonnegut: A Life. The blog is beautifully written, like his books, and gives wonderful asides and stories not found elsewhere.

I highly recommend the two books listed above, and I’m sure you would enjoy a visit to his site. The site contains news stories, reviews, and stories about Kurt that didn’t make it into the book – stop by for a fun and enlightening visit!

5. Barking Up The Wrong Tree http://www.bakadesuyo.com/ Author, Eric Barker I debated about including Eric’s blog because he doesn’t write as much as he adapts news stories, research, current studies, etc. adding commentary. However, as this is a blog I read constantly and I do love his site…he made the cut!

If you have any interest in Science or cultural insights, then Barking Up The Wrong Tree is the blog for you. Eric gives us up-to-the-minute news and research results in concise, bite-size nuggets. It’s a fun, amazing, and sometimes, very surprising read. Stop by for a visit, and let me know what you think!

Well, that does it, my five favorite blogs for 2012. Please let me know what your thoughts are if you stop by to give them a try. And, by the way, what are some of your favorite blogs and why?

~~~~

Artwork: Notes Forgotten by Bob Orsillo. Please visit Bob at Http://www.orsillo.com to find out more about him and his artwork. Or, purchase his prints, notecards, and more at a his Fine Art America page  http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/bob-orsillo.html

Sell Art Online

 

 

Nellie

white dove snip

white dove snip (Photo credit: oddsock)

Grandmother —
Title, position, duties.
I never knew you
wanted to travel,
went overseas once.
A missionary trip
you longed to make, and
you did. I never knew
this small truth of courage
until your funeral.

How did you carry that
cold-heavy weight
of us on your shoulders
all those years?

Those dark-strong hours,
spent taking care of everyone
as we grew into non-children.
Solicitude, sympathy, tolerance.
Love always the deepest river,
lessons of giving-over everything
almost; and then

there was your God,
some stories you’d written,
a few trips taken —
the talented individual you were,
but all we ever knew
to hold onto
was a name, a presence,
the designation —
Grandma, Momma, Nellie – Love.

~February 2012 

 

Authenticity

Appalachian Mountains

Appalachian Mountains (Photo credit: BlueRidgeKitties)

I can see the bright-white hair

Of the child, bending, fingers reaching,

Trembling down into grass blades

To touch the little bug crawling along.

Mesmerized by moving life, slowly

Touching the tops of its shinny fly-like

Wings. Then, stand to running

across dark verdant grass yard,

Freshly mowed, to chase the butterflies

Across bush-tops around the corner.

I can hear the Appalachian accent laden

Voice of the young woman, screaming

The argument to higher intensity

As if loud will win it. The twirling turn

Of angry body, movement in flash-quick

Motion toward an open door. Then,

Footfall to running across the red dust dirt

And down through the wood path

To cry in solitude, quietly.

I can feel the angry quick vehemence

That becomes a cause becomes a mission

Becomes what will change her into wholeness

While she struggles to leave the dark rooms

of hard memories and tries to help others

never visit those places. The drive to live

after making such an effort to die, rather

than stay in the pain that was nothing

but is becoming, becoming a voice with

purpose. The first letters forming

words forming a poem, forming tomorrow.

I can remember time before it became

Abyss of career and responsibility, before

Manager became a carried title implying

In charge, a time before being diligently dutiful

in taking care of the things Others left

un-taken-care-of.  The twirling turn From art

to actuality, from theory to responsibility.

That has come to feel like a very long version of

A four-letter word said under-breath in madness.

I can still see

The bright-white hair of the child, bending,

Fingers reaching, trembling to grasp life.

~South Carolina, 2009