April is National Poetry Month

I started reading poetry in grade school although I didn’t start writing poems until much later. Once in a while I’d write a poem or two when I was upset emotionally or feeling lonely, but not regularly until after my son’s suicide. It was the only way I could deal with my grief. It still is. Reading poetry regularly is a given. During April, National Poetry Month, Knopf sends me a poem a day, and the website Poem-A-Day sends me a poem every day all year round. Sometimes over a dozen poems are in my reading queue. I also write poems regularly - this month especially since I'm participating in a poem a day challenge. Poetry is my favorite writing genre. It's hard to know if my poems live up to Lori Anne Ferrell’s criteria as discussed in her LA Times Op Ed piece below, but many have been published, so they must resonate somewhere. “A book of poetry that's worth $100,000, and so much more” by Lori Anne Ferrell "A few months ago, I was talking to a former student about how s … [Read more...]

196 total views, 48 views today

Happy sixth anniversary

Our son and daughter-in-law were married in our garden six years ago today. That is significant not only as a celebration of their love for each other, but that they wanted to get married at the sight where my son's brother, our son Paul, took is life in 1999. For a long time Ben didn't want to be here, but that all changed on his wedding day. The wedding was beautiful and the event was not tarnished by unhappy memories. My memoir Leaving the Hall Light On was published less than a year later. It is, as the subtitle says, A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. Although the story is sad, the memoir is also about survival. That said, I decided to end the book with an Epilogue about the Wedding in the Garden, on a very upbeat note. Here is the poem that ended the Epilogue. I hope you'll read the memoir and entire epilogue as well. And if you have read Leaving the Hall Light On, please leave a review here. Five star reviews help t … [Read more...]

2,868 total views, 2 views today

A progress report

In John Lennon’s song, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” he sings: “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_j-tpmdPlI My mother always said something similar: “Man plans, and God laughs.” Well, life was sure happening to me last week. I worked diligently on my book, as I said I would do in my previous blog post, for the first three days, and I actually made some great progress. Then boom! It all fell apart. My husband, Bob, woke up early last Thursday morning with shortness of breath. I took him to urgent care and he got an EKG. With those results the doctor there said take him to emergency at our local hospital. And we were off and running. Two and a half days later and tests to rule out a heart attack, pneumonia, blood clots in his lungs, and congestive heart failure, he was feeling better. So they sent him home. Less than 24 hours later, he was short of breath again – even worse. This time we called his own doctor (who ha … [Read more...]

5,139 total views, 4 views today

I’m writing poetry this month

I'm writing poems while a group of beta readers reviews my  novel draft. And I'm loving it. Again this April I'm taking the prompts from Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem A Day challenge, though not especially concerned about entering the challenge. I'm a little poetry rusty after spending so much time this past year revising my novel. I'm satisfied just to have a poem prompt to write to every day. I'm in it for the practice. That said, here's a couple that might pass muster (with Brewer's prompts). I'd love your thoughts. 4. Write a departure poem. Many people depart to school and/or work every day, and they depart on a plane, train, or automobile–some even walk or ride a bike. Of course, that’s keeping things rather physical; there are also emotional and psychological departures. You may even decide to make a departure from your normal writing style in tone or structure today. The Long Departure On the platform she, in a flowing white dress with gloves, shoes, and hat to ma … [Read more...]

4,638 total views, 4 views today

Meditation practice

I’m meditating again with Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. Their latest twenty-one day series started on August 11 and goes to the end of August. As they say:  “Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience™ makes meditation easy, fun, and inspiring, offering daily guided audio meditations via an online, interactive program. Enjoy easy access to the daily program anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone, tablet or computer. Join our global community on each 21-Day Meditation Experience. Together, we will create lives filled with increased peace, joy, and wellbeing.” I usually meditate before going to bed. It relaxes me and better prepares me for sleep. My husband chooses to meditate in the morning right after he wakes up. But when is not the operative word. What’s important is making the time to do it. That’s what I really like about these Oprah and Deepak 21-day meditation experiences. They get me back into it. Without their prodding, I don’t meditate regularly. After our … [Read more...]

17,218 total views, 2 views today

Memorializing Paul’s Tree

I spent some time today taking photos of the tree we’ve had in our front yard for the last thirteen plus years. We have come to call it Paul’s tree because we had it planted on the first year anniversary of Paul’s death. I’ve mentioned it here in the past after a particularly bad trimming job (see December 5, 2010, June 30, 2012, and July 22, 2012). Unfortunately, I won’t have to complain about that anymore. Next week our gardeners are going to remove it completely, and we’ll replace it with a much smaller and less invasive substitute. I’m also memorialized it in a poem just published in “True Words from Real Women: An Anthology of Life Writing by the Women of the Story Circle Network” (November 2013).     Paul’s Tree   It has to be a climbing tree, I say to replace the one he used to climb as a boy, to remind me of him sitting in the wide Vee of the upper branches smiling and proud of his climbing success. I settle on a small cora … [Read more...]

6,531 total views, 2 views today

A new published poem plus

I’m pleased that the Story Circle Journal has published my new poem, “Writing My Truths” in response to their submission topic Silence. I certainly recommend my women writer friends to look into joining the Story Circle Network: for women with stories to tell. This group has been very supportive of my work. Here’s a little description from its website: The Story Circle Network is an international not-for-profit membership organization made up of women who want to document their lives and explore their personal stories through journaling, memoir, autobiography, personal essays, poetry, drama, and mixed-media. Writing My Truths I have a new room. I write in there alone. I sit at my draftsman table, looking out the bay window to the garden. I see the trunks of the three palm trees, the small cement pond, and the ferns swinging their leaves behind it. Sometimes a bird comes by for a drink, surfing along the top of the pool. Yet, I don’t open the window to he … [Read more...]

2,013 total views, no views today

Jane Shore’s poem about a tree

This is definitely another opinion about how to care and feed and trim a tree. I love this poem. Wish I had written it. Counter-point to my tree-trimming rant.   Willow by Jane Shore It didn't weep the way a willow should. Planted all alone in the middle of the field by the bachelor who sold our house to us, shoulder height when our daughter was born, it grew eight feet a year until it blocked the view through the first-, then the second- story windows, its straggly canopy obstructing our sunrise and moonrise over Max Gray Road. I gave it the evil eye, hoping lightning would strike it, the way a bolt had split the butternut by the barn. And if leaf blight or crown gall or cankers didn’t kill it, then I'd gladly pay someone to chop it down. My daughter said no, she loved that tree, and my husband agreed. One wet Sunday— husband napping, daughter at a matinee in town—a wind shear barreled up the hill so loud I glanced up from my mystery the moment the wi … [Read more...]

2,777 total views, 2 views today

A spring poem

I love Robert Lee Brewer's poetry prompts. He gives one out once a week except during poem a day challenges in April and November. I don't always do them on time or in order, but I eventually get through them. I guess he prompted us to write a spring poem at first bud. I'm a little late, but here it is. I lay on the Pilates reformer and push on the foot bar, in and out, in and out. My feet, first in the second position at the corners of the footbar then in first position at the center with my heels locked tightly together, I keep pushing and pulling. Two red and one green springs determine the weight for these exercises. And as my legs move back and forth the springs squeak, they yearn to stop, they want to do no more work. But I keep going. I don’t listen to their moans never giving those springs a rest. … [Read more...]

2,786 total views, 2 views today

Tree trimming rant – a new poem

Butcher The tree trimming was yesterday. And with his long-handled ax he hacked the trees stripping off leaves and giant birds of paradise until only bare branches and trunks were left. His onslaught hit the ground leaving broken and bent petals, the red succulents flattened and spent. Of course it got its intended result – Light pouring through. I can’t wait for the shade to come back. Coral Tree Before Coral Tree Today (2 weeks after the hack job) Poor Eucalyptus and Palms … [Read more...]

5,461 total views, no views today

Paul and his brother, Ben

Although our boys were very different from one another – Paul was a brainy musician and computer nerd and Ben is a brainy athlete and actor – they always loved each other very much. They respected each other’s differences and talents. I’ve gathered some photos of them together. How could I not celebrate the brothers during this month of celebrating Paul’s life?                     A Poem That Wants To Be for Ben* They are always about Paul, my dead son the one who died of his own free will so many years ago. My hordes of poems go on like a mantra: his mania, depression, his delusions, escapades, his suicide. They never fail to mention his piercing blue eyes, the little half smile that never showed his teeth, the smoky smell and the way he slumped over the piano like the thinker as he played. Paul and his death have been my muse. Ben’s living eyes brim over with love as he looks down an … [Read more...]

2,462 total views, 2 views today