Saturday, April 14, 2018

Much about Spring

Much about Spring
has already been said
by poets greater than I am.

So, I only want to ask this about Spring:
how does a mother dove
make a nest
to withstand
wind gusts
of over
per hour?

And when
it blows
why does
she risk
her life
to rebuild

I know:
she is

Sunday, April 8, 2018

More than an Obituary for Ginny Dobbs

More than an Obituary for Ginny Dobbs (based on the 4/8/18 obituary of Genevieve “Ginny Dobbs/Steed-Gideon, Arizona Daily Star)

Ginny and Tom had a dream and ran a motel by that name, Dream House.  Still located on Miracle Mile, back in the late 1940s it pulled in a steady stream of road trippers.  Maybe a few babies were made on the bed sheets Ginny washed and dried; maybe a few lovers hid behind the curtains she sewed.

When the freeway was built, the motel income faded along with the bed sheets and curtains.  So Ginny and her husband turned to other small businesses; they always ran them smart.  Tucson was a growing town and folks needed furniture and cars needed repairs.  When the repairs couldn’t keep cars running, a wrecking yard stocked with vehicles, broken concrete and spooled wires was the next venture for Ginny and Tom.

Gifted with a business mind, bouncy smile and sparkling eyes, Ginny could warm the hearts of customers and sometimes charm them with freshly baked goods.  After her Tom died, Ginny kept busy with cooking, sewing, and tending grandchildren.  Never one to be idle, she managed the family businesses and became an admissions clerk at St. Mary’s Hospital.

She lived a long life of ninety-four years.  Probably not a remarkable woman in a large sphere of life, but her face in the local paper’s obituary column pulled me in and my eyes set on the pearls in her ears, and the pearl strand around her neck.  Maybe her husband gave her that matching set for an anniversary gift.  I can see her touching them like a rosary before she put them on for church or special occasions.  They would be precious to her for decades, but now they lie in a green velvet box, in a drawer, covered, like a shroud, by one of her pressed cotton handkerchiefs.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Back story sketch for "The Bare Things" Part 2

I am slowly restarting, expanding my Alicia Frame story, thanks to encouragement from most of my beta readers.  I need to do a mind map for Part 2 since that really helped me move forward with the first part (novella) in November.  Here's what I have sketched out, so far.

NYC late winter 1926/Alicia Frame setting
Streets stuffed with men in long wool coats, bump into each other and don’t tip their hats.  Instead, shoulder to shoulder they eye each other, grumble a few words best not repeated in a lady’s company and shove until one of them backs off and moves on down the street.

A delicatessen is open 24 hours a day.  When Alicia first arrives this shocks her.  In Paris, the baker wakes early to make the baquettes, roles and pastries, but he closes shop by 5 p.m. and goes home to his family.  Here, she finds, it is a city that never sleeps and everyone who wants to get ahead, move faster than the next person, cuts hours at home, carries more than one job if necessary.  And, if a person is running a place where folks needs to grab a bit as they rush off to work or after late hours, then it is open 24 hours a day.  Thus, Alicia’s neighbor, Mr. Brumbinski, a recent immigrant in Poland, works the midnight to 7 a.m. shift at the corner deli, then works at a sleeve factory from 8 to 4, goes home for a quick meal made by Mrs. Bumbiniski, sleeps until 10 and then goes to work.  He does this five days a week and has one day off from the sleeve factory, Saturday.  Since most in the garment district are Jews, he and Mrs. Brumbinski go to the Temple and now Alicia, reclaiming her familial faith, often accompanies them to the midday service.

By that time, she has partially recovered from her long Monday-Friday days at Scribner’s that run into the early evenings.  She hopes this is going to change when, in late Summer, Philippe will bring Emily to join her.  It didn’t take Alicia long to discover that rooming with Miss XXX wasn’t going to work long.  A bit of a New York Party girl after work, her roommate liked to dine and drink and arrive back late.  This disturbed Alicia’s usual Parisienne lifestyle of early to bed early to rise—particularly when she had become a mother.  So looking for her own place which would accommodate Emily and, perhaps as she had promised Emily, a small dog, was how Alicia spent her Sundays.  After a cup of coffee and semi stale pastry that Mrs. Brumbinski would salvage from her husband’s take home on Friday, Alicia would borrow their Sunday paper and read the ads for apartments for rent.  She hadn’t found a place yet, but, in her rapid adjustment to America, she was becoming more optimistic by the week.

Hadn’t she already endured the rough and lonely ocean voyage from Normandy to New York? As one of the few women on board who was traveling without a husband or child, she had to learn how to avoid the sneers and not subtle invitations from single men of all ages and nationalities.  She learned to be in the company of the elderly matrons of various countries who were taking the last major leap of their lives by resettling to America.  Some were going to go to New York, but others had family waiting in Chicago, Boston or Philadelphia.  Alicia used this time to practice her English and she gained insight into how these women planned to adjust from their home country to this one.  When they were greeted by Lady Liberty, all of travelers on the rails—first class, second, and third class such as Alicia, cheered and cried.  A new and better life was in front of them and America promises safety, security and opportunity.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Children’s Practice 3/2018

1.      Experimenting with running-on rhyme aka Dr. Seuss
Fish, dish, whis(per), lis(ten), miss, kss risk, tsk, priss

It was dawn when I glimpsed the fish
Jump from the bowl to the dish.
I guessed he was wise about the risk
But then I heard him utter, “tsk, tsk…
I underestimated the risk of the dish,
So would you be so kind as to help me, Miss?
I don’t mean to sound like a priss,
But I need some water dipped into this dish.”
I was surprised at the request from him
To use the dish as a place to swim.
But being a gal who’s inclined to agree,
I nodded and made him a clear blue sea
Of water in his chosen dish.
Now he’s quite a happy dish-risk fish.  3/14/18

2.       Creatures and their actions aka Margaret Wise Brown

Gardenia flowers open one petal at a time.
Each a pearly white, uncurling from her green stem,
Stretching her edges in shadows
Softened by the morning sun
Whose shine shifts its angle by afternoon
When the blossom’s work is done for the day.
Gardenia flowers open one petal at a time.  3/26/18

Friday, March 9, 2018

Learning to write

from Poets & Writers "The Time is Now"  Week 10 prompt for creative nonfiction

Credit is due to so many people in my life for teaching me how to learn to write.  But first, a little blame.  My pre-first grade teacher (or maybe it was in first grade), decided it would be better for me to be a right-handed writer rather than a lefty which is how I started out.  I remember someone tying my left hand behind my back until I got the idea and practice of writing with my right hand.  So that might explain by zig-zag life as it has evolved.  In any case, I write right-handed now when I use long hand and type with both hands--so maybe all's "write/right" with my world, after all.

So that is my first memory of writing.  I next recall Miss Meyers in 3rd Grade who bopped us on the head when our cursive letters didn't look perfect.  I received quite a few taps on the noggin for poorly shaped cursive capital letter "F".  Those green paper letters for print and cursive that lined the top of the blackboard throughout elementary school are burned into my psyche and still haunt me in midnight dreams.  The traumatic memory is so strong that, when I do write long hand notes on holiday cards, I often get a response such as "I can't read your writing, Anita."  So there you go, Miss Meyers,you couldn't bop me into submission.

That is the skinny backstory on my learning how to write--actual content development soared with Mrs. Hanson at Kimball Junior High, eighth and ninth grades.  Even though I struggled to get beyond a "B" on my essays, I had already began penning poetry thanks to the oral tradition of poetry (James Whitcomb Riley and others) passed along from my mom and her mother.  My poetry writing might have been the reason Mrs. Hanson recommended me to honors English when I entered high school.

First year at Larkin H.S. was a partial bust for English class.  My first teacher was pregnant and left early.  I have no memory of her and we had quite a few substitutes after that whom I also don't remember.  But then, after the holidays, we had a substitute that stayed for the entire semester.  I don't recall writing much in class except for book reports.  The glory in that experience was she let me make reports on books that were way beyond my age range.  Somehow, I had been able to convince a librarian at the Gail Borden Public Library that I could handle the content of adult books--mostly biographies on artists such as Michelangelo and Rodin.  Their biographies were rather "racy" for me and introduced me to homosexuality and illicit passions.  I wrote about those themes (and a few details).  The nameless, but important, 10th grade substitute English teacher read the reports and didn't censor my writing at all.  She did correct my grammar and composition and so the world of writing exploded in potential along with the world of reading.

Maybe she knew what was ahead when I entered Mr. Caldwell's 11th Grade English class, followed by Mr. Fuhs' senior year class.  Both challenged our class with Faulkner and Hemingway, Joyce and Shakespeare and more.  They were equally unfaltering in their critiques of our writing and stretched our vocabulary with weekly tests.  By the end of my senior year, I was not only well prepared for college English classes, I excelled.  English Literature became my major and I immersed my reading and writing into medieval English Literature, 17th Century, a semester on Shakespeare, a semester on American writers--mostly Mark Twain.  At my public university, Northern Illinois University, I learned poetry from Lucien Stryk, a poet himself and international translator of Zen poetry.  I joined a writers group and had week night poetry sessions with him a a handful of others "invited" into his dusty living room where we ate crackers and cheese and drank sparkling wine.

The years have passed since then (1971) and, in all of them, I have continued to write and to learn to write.  As I wake each day in my 69th year, I read daily poetry, bits of nonfiction, everyday comics, and nightly fiction that lulls me to let go of reality.

I am grateful to all of my teachers and--through my past years of teaching writing to GED students, graduate students at the UA, and tutoring a family of second language elementary students--I hope I have helped others enter the wonderful world of writing.

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.