Don’t be afraid to submit

Three out of five isn’t bad.

In the last couple of months I’ve submitted five pieces to contests and anthologies – mostly at the urging of my recent poetry instructor, Thresha Haefner at The Poetry Salon. And I found out that submitting really pays off. It’s like lottery tickets. If you don’t buy one, you have no chance of winning.

In all I submitted three poems, a poetry chapbook, and an excerpt from my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. Two of the three poems were accepted – one is still in review, and the excerpt was accepted to appear in a suicide loss anthology. Unfortunately the chapbook didn’t make it, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. I’ll submit it again and again to wherever seems suitable.

And so as not to keep you in the dark, here are the two poems that will come out soon: “Stop and Go” will appear in Yellow Chair Review’s In the Words of Women anthology, and “Remnants” will appear in the 2016 Porter Gulch Review.

Migrant Woman by Dorothea Lange

Migrant Woman by Dorothea Lange

Stop and Go

On the drive up the coast
I pass through Vista del Mar
with the Pacific Ocean on my left.
This morning it looks like silver glass.
I get on the 405 chugging along
through the construction at Sunset
the Getty, Skirball and the depths of
the San Fernando Valley.
It is alternating stop and go
with bursts of 80 mile an hour straight-aways.
My mind wanders, not paying enough
attention to my audio book,
Mary Coin, about that
iconic Oakie lady,
gaunt and gray,
taking a sit-down
by the side of the road
while photographed
by my favorite Dorothea Lange.
But this is fiction.
No one knows the real Mary,
or even if her name was Mary.
I keep going
moving my feet about the floor
one pushing down on the pedal
the other pumping in and out
trying to soothe the vague pain
in my left calf.
I press my hands on the ceiling
one after the other
but my car has no room
for a full stretch.
Once I pass Santa Barbara
the hills are vast with mustard,
the sky stormy,
overcast with lingering clouds.
I turn off the radio
relish the silence
of driving alone thinking
about getting to Big Sur,
my calming and writing place
and try to forget last week.
I had a blood clot ruled out.
The same day my husband had
carpel tunnel surgery,
the next, a seven-foot hole
that looked like a grave
was dug in my garden
to replace a broken pipe.
Saturday night I served dinner
for ten friends.
We ate sushi, tzatziki, chicken,
swordfish and my mother’s peach ping recipe
made from this season’s sweetest fruit.
We talked about six degrees of separation,
who do you know,
what a small world this is
while I tried desperately
not to think of Cynthia’s
recurring cancer,
her sad, scared eyes,
gazing at the white lilies
adorning the table,
her thin body looking thinner yet
in all black,
as I hope someone
somewhere will find
her a miracle cure.

My dad with baby Paul

My dad with baby Paul

Remnants

My father sold upholstery and drapery textiles.
He’d use his shears to cut tapestries,
antique satins, Jacquards, raw silks,
and sheer voiles to size.
He’d call what was left the remnants –
the remainders,
the throw-aways,
the leavings,
all the bits that went into the trash,
gone, forgotten,
making room for the next better piece of material
to come along.

I’ve been thinking about the remnants of my life,
the little pieces left behind long ago:
childhood girlfriends like Phyllis,
who walked to school
with me on tiptoe in first grade,
holding hands, carrying little purses,
pretending we were grown up enough to wear high heels;
my favorite uncle killed in a plane crash when I was nine,
leaving me forever longing to tell him goodbye;
getting rid of my baby fat when I was twelve;
falling in love with Eugene
with the gorgeous blue eyes in eighth grade,
who threw me over for a girl he met at camp;
the family house sold and swept clean of old books and toys –
even my first diary with a lock and key – gone,
and my family’s move from the Midwest to California
without ever looking back.

Through the years more went by the wayside:
a house in Riverside CA with a view
of orange groves out the kitchen window,
a short work stint on a Pacific island
with my husband and our two little boys,
a job working on proposals
in the aerospace business,
teaching engineers how to write –
and more friends coming and going,
more getting ill and dying
now than ever before.

Also gone are my son Paul and his things:
his old plaid flannel shirts,
Levis with rips in the knees,
Doc Martens worn ragged from his long walks
to escape his demons,
cuttings from his last buzz,
synthesizers,
recording devices,
computer,
records,
and books.
Yet I still have some remnants:
a poem he wrote just before he died,
a memory of how he looked his last night,
his piano now refinished,
and his last bedroom
that I turned into my writing room
where he resides as my muse.
These are the remnants I don’t throw in the trash.
These are the bits I save.

 

full-halllight-1

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