Sunday, January 14, 2018

Happiest in Tucson (from Poets & Writers  Poetry Prompt, 2.12.18)

Yesterday my friend and I
spent the day wandering through
downtown and beneath
the mountain where
over 2000 years ago,
Tucson became a living place
for humans.

They joined the coyotes,
bobcats, mountain lions,
lizards, butterflies and
birds who thrived along
the rushing waters of
the Santa Cruz River.

Corn was planted,
homes were formed out of mud,
shade trees softened the
Much later,
a mission was built,
bringing the word of God
to those already living
the Word.

Today, we saw a few
hard-working young women
and men working the fields of
Tucson's Mission Gardens,
hauling compost, digging holes
collecting brittle stalks and leaves.

With the workers then and now,
I embrace our living history
filling me with stories
of the place I call home.
And where I am the happiest.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Alicia Frame story completed and now being edited

by Edgar Degas

I met my goal of 15,000 words for my first attempt at a long(er) story and exceeded it: hitting 20,040 on 12/2.  Now I begin the editing stage for "The Bare Things" and plan to have a finished version by the end of January 2018.  I learned a great deal about writing and about myself during the #nanowrimo2017 experience.  I wouldn't have done it without the challenge to Write a Novel in November and our online community of global writers.  While 50,000 is the word count for the goal for a novel, I went for a more modest one, a long short story or novella--yet still a bit leap from my poetry and flash fiction genres.  

While I develop the story in the next phase, I will keep learning and will let you all know when the story is completed and how to access it.  My intent is to share it first with the few donors who supported NaNoWriMo and then with all who are interested in reading about Alicia and the other characters in the story.  This includes Madame Celeste Bonne who was once a milliner as pictured in the painting above by Degas. She becomes a key ally to Alicia and her quest to leave Paris for a life in America. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

My protagonist comes to life

This painting, probably by Modigliani (according to NYT story) is the image I am using to "frame" my protagonist, Alicia Frame, on my first short story/novella/novel "The Bare Things".  I am writing almost every day, averaging 600 or more words as part of #NaNoWriMo2017, National Write a Novel in a Month.  Joining other writes around the globe, I even put up a fundraiser for this non-profit effort, and it was interesting to see which (a few) Facebook friends decided to contribute. 

My story is set in Paris, 1925, where American writers Hemingway and Fitzgerald hung out at cafes, bars, and partied in jazz clubs until dawn.  As I deal with a personal health issue, I am finding that writing this story helps me detach from my everyday life and escape.  It's good for my soul and I may even be crafting a story worth sharing!!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Scene from my Office: Writing Prompt

I am in my office space/former bedroom that houses and has housed Community Renaissance, Do Happy Today, BuildUp^ Tucson and Beyond, and my (newly let go of) volunteer projects—TENWEST, Tucson Valley of the Moon, and TEDx Tucson.  I am looking out the only window which faces west and from it I can see doves swinging in the bird feeder.  I only have the tan shades up ½ way in the morning and pull them down a bit further when the afternoon sun comes in and makes the space a bit too warm for my liking. The room is white with the window edges painted yellow.

On my desk, besides the laptop and its accoutrements, I have old discs that I don’t use, some trinkets, various colored and sized post-its, pencils, pens, day planner, a photo of Aron, me and Jim Laue’s dog, Spicer, in northern Virgin, circa mid 1980s, Aron’s high school grad photo, circa 2000, and his Hacienda Chef serving brunch photo, probably around 2015. I have an Italian marble tile I “borrowed” from Lowe’s to hold my glass of fruited water. Also on my desk, is a vintage wooden drawer (similar to the old library cards drawers), with a porcelain knob and it holds a collage block plus electronic cords.  I have a stack of work papers on my left and right, three file cabinets with work files (and holding boxes on top with current mail, business cards, a candle that I don’t burn), seven standing files, two of which are for my writing magazines, three for current financial and health program info, and a portable table with art supplies I don’t use often enough.  I have a few hats and an antique wooden tall drawer that holds a few vintage books. I have wooden stool with dried flowers in a glass vase, a photo of our beloved Lia-dog, a framed Cezanne still life print, and red metal basket with lotion, lavender spray and personal business cards.

On my walls are art works: prints of Paris and Italy and one of Norman Rockwell’s famous LIFE magazine covers “Gossip”, watercolors, embroidered hanging, wooden wreath of hearts, NY Times Arts Section art work of Modigliani, Mary Cassatt, Van Gogh and Renoir. On the rug, I have two wicker baskets with notebooks and greeting cards, most of them from Trader Joe’s.  I have a large Ikea table with in/out files (writing works in progress) and two stacks of orange Container Store boxes (plus one flat box) full of office supplies and Do Happy Today materials.

Behind me, above the closet, is a shelf with a 1980s drawing of me, from the Kettering Foundation, a Navajo sand painting, and small bowl of faux flowers from my distant-past UA College of Ed. office. In the closet, on the shelf are UA/doctoral program books, a photo of Aron and me, a photo of me lifting my skirt with no smile on my face as a two-year-old, copies of my two self-published books, and a black and white Madonna and Child newspaper photo of the Della Robbia sculpture.  Underneath the shelf are three boxes of Do Happy Today files and materials.  On the other side of the closet (usually hidden by the sliding doors) are a couple of suit jackets belonging to Mark, a few pillows and blankets. 

By the door, I have a vintage dresser, painted yellow and white.  In the drawers are some mementos of my mom’s, dad’s and Aunt Mollie’s, along with quilted pillowcases and covers, and more blankets we rarely use.  In the corner, I have a maple rocking chair that my folks bought for me when I was about twelve and I have rocked Aron in it through many nights when he was a baby and toddler.  It has a pillow leaning against the back and a cushion on the seat, with yet another fleece blanket (purple) hanging on the back of the chair and a yellow crocheted (by me) square, draped over the blanket.  A similar crocheted square, colored turquoise, is on my black office chair with a small satin pillow (from Aunt Margaret) to ease my back position as I sit and write.  A few more pillows are scattered on the floor and an easel holds my storyboard that is mostly empty.  I have a bulletin board with various creative images and a one brightly colored sock from a favorite trip to San Francisco.  Above the door, from a family trip to San Diego, is Aron’s name painted by an Asian artist in Balboa Park and, over the door is Aron’s kush-ball basketball net and ball.  On the door are two drawings from Izy, our temporary grandchild from Aron’s now-ended relationship with Laura C.   On the door knobs (inside and out) hang several fabric bags holding more writing materials and used to carry magazines etc. back and forth to Starbucks, bookstores, and meetings.

It is mid-to-now late morning.  A day in early September, still “late summer” at 105 degrees projected for the afternoon high.  But the sun rises later, sets earlier, the shadows are lengthening and tonight, September 6, is the night of a full moon—that one source calls “The Corn Moon.” I am hitting beyond my new goal of 250 words with a word count tipping to 900, so it’s a good day in Tucson so far (a load of laundry is drying), an epic hurricane is threatening to hit the Florida Keys (hello to Hemingway’s six toed cats and hope you take cover and are safe; also protect those key lime pies, folks), and, no doubt, another day of drama will emerge from the crazy-like-a-rabid-fox Trump White House. 

But, hey, I won’t let this end of a negative:  let me include two black and white photos (thanks to Patsy W) of Notre Dame and our 2002 Paris trip and two more standing orange files with spiritual suggestions and the “legacy project” of Maverick Institute-Community Renaissance, The Walkabout Talkabout Book, out soon on my Community Renaissance website

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


This poem was written in response to a Poets & Writers 7/21/17 prompt to look at a photograph from a recent trip and write a poem that "explores the distance between your current self and the photograph, and between an image and a feeling or memory." I visited my birthplace town and home for twenty-one years, Elgin, Illinois in May of this year, taking photos of my first home and my dad's sister's home.  It is dedicated to Linda Sjurset Esposito, who lived across the street from me in Elgin, Illinois.  Her birthday is today 8/29/17.

My first Fonte-Dice home on Melrose, Ave., Elgin, Illnois.  It is a Sears & Roebuck Craftsman house.

Sjurset-Fonte home on Melrose Ave., Elgin, Illinois

My home on Melrose Avenue,
almost two thousand miles away
and sixty-two years ago--

I remember mom, 
standing over the porcelain kitchen sink, 
straining red berry juice through white cheesecloth.

She is to busy too play with me,
so I wander outside,
dragging my Buster Brown shoes
over the newly-mowed grass,
up to the border 
of the street-forbidden-to-cross.

I gaze longingly
at the black asphalt
and spy my cousin sitting on the steps 
in front of her house.
We wave at each other, 
our late summer smiles
bridging the boundaries
between us.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


Sunset Crater, July, 2018, photo by Anita C. Fonte

At evening, the distant lowing of some cows on the horizon beyond the woods sounded sweet and melodious….  Walden, Henry David Thoreau, p. 87.

What is such solitude to me?  When and where do I experience it? How does solitude help or hurt me?—These are questions that a Poets & Writers prompt from March, 2017 poses and it has taken me four months to go back to this section and compose my responses to it.  Just lately, in honor of Thoreau’s 200th birthday, I pulled out my Signet Classic edition (probably from college 1967-71 since the cost of the book was fifty cents and there is no publishing date listed), and began reading it a few paragraphs at night before I go to bed.

His time is not my time.  He rallies against trains and not cell phones.  For me, the culprit of my “noise” is television where the daily dramas of Trumpland as reported on CNN or MSNBC becomes a Greek chorus as I do online tasks.  I do turn it off for “writing” and/or escape to my local Starbucks where, in the past, I could expect a decent degree of solitude.  But, as I write this, there is one heavy haired female who ignores my annoyed glances and talks on her cellphone as if this were her private office!  This kind of partial solitude is unhealthy for me and it’s becoming so common at caf├ęs that I have been thinking of what else can I do to find/create solitude?

In the distant past, which I recall in the quote above, I experienced quietude and solitude at my Grandparents’ farm on Randall Road.  They didn’t raise cows, but their neighbor did, and the black and white Angus breed would linger by the wire fence, chewing their grass and plopping their cow pies on the picked ground.  Sometimes I would hang in the branch of an oak tree, or lie on the soft hill and chew on a blade of wild wheat.  I was content—a feeling I rarely have in my sixth decade.  I do not often experience contentment to that depth.  

Of course, my memory may be faulty.  Maybe, even then, I was anxious about school (probably) or fearful about what mood my dad would be in when he picked me up from my grandparents.  My dad might have been bipolar, and definitely had Italian son-of-an alcoholic behaviors plus WWII PTSD, so life was daily drama with him at home.  My maternal grandparents who had the farm, were Cherokee, Scots-Irish, German and stoical Methodists.  My mom was much like them.  And there was a part of her girlish charm that couldn’t cope with my dad’s complexities.  So that farm was my refuge and the symbol of my childhood contentment and happiness.

Sometimes, living in the desert, looking at the night sky, I experience moments of bliss, thinking about how the sky is bigger than I can see: a great “out there” that holds mystery and magic.  And the mountains are places where I can sometimes escape to feel similar moments.  But I am usually with someone, not alone, so solitude isn’t part of that kind of escape.  When I go to the Botanical Gardens, I am often alone and I feel safe.  

Aha! Now there’s a place where I can cultivate more healthful solitude. And when I read a good story I am into a transitory solitude; that kind of aloneness inspires me to write or convinces me it is futile to write at all. It depends on the mood I am in going into the story.  How can I encourage myself to be more “in the mood” of being inspired and not discouraged?  Maybe, before I read, I can pause and make the intention to be open to inspiration.

So what just happened as I write this?  Either the noise around me drowned out the annoying talker behind me (she still is gabbing), or, for just a few lines, I was lost in the flow.  So a small miracle can happen, even among the noise. 7.27.17e the intention to be iin more " Either the noise around me drowned out the annoyiomeone, not alone, so solitude isn'

Monday, August 7, 2017

Erasure Poem: Bottles, Twigs, Cans and a Piano

I try to (occasionally) practice the erasure poem genre as described and demonstrated by Austin Kleon in his book Steal like an Artist.   Here is my latest, prompted by an article in the New York Times, "Bottles, Twigs and Trash Cans (and Mozart)", by Anthony Tommasini, Music Review  8.5.17

It was an unusual sight, 
the Hall crammed with a motley assortment
of corked wine bottles, four gleaming trash cans
and small piles of twigs.

The members began to snap the twigs
and dump them on the floor.

stretching of jumping rhythms
played by tapping
on a coffee table
as well as the outside
and inside
of a piano.