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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Say It Succinctly with Six

EDITED - 1/25/09

Just got an email from the assistant editor on the Six Word Memoir site. They will be featuring my submissions on the front page for at least a day. YAY!


* from a prompted writing exercise at A Cup of Words, Monday night Writers' Group

Six Word Memoirs - Not Quite What I Was Planning

I free wrote several of these, then arranged them into a couple of makeshift poems:


Stranger stares back from my mirror.

I look younger and feel older.

I am learning to let go.

When I wasn’t looking time flew.

Wonder whether you really see me.


Give me pen and I’ll write.

Ink like blood flowing from pen.

A blank page is an invitation.

Stories captivate and draw me in.

I hear voices, I talk back.

Hot tea, black ink, white page.

I like words better than candy.

Words like succinct make me smile.

My muse hates deadlines. She hides.

One more line, and I’ll stop.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


*From a writing prompt, Monday night, A Cup of Words writers’ group.

Peeling an orange for me has become a sort of challenge, as I pierce the thick skin with my thumbnail and carefully tug away the outer layer, to reveal the sweet, juicy fruit beneath it.  I try to remove the skin in one, whole, unbroken piece as the pith stains my fingernails yellow, and that citrusy spray fills the air with pungent scent that reminds me of Christmas morning.  Throughout my childhood, I can’t remember a Christmas when we didn’t get a stocking stuffed with oranges and apples, mixed nuts, in the shell, and old fashioned ribbon Christmas candy.  Mom told me recently, that Mimi used to put the orange in first, way down in the toe of the sock, so that it stretched out long and she could stuff in all sorts of goodies on top of them.  That’s how I remember it, too.  I’d dump all that stuff out and reach my hand way down into the bottom, to get to that fat, heavy orange.

Today when I peel an orange, I lay out a napkin on the table, and go at it like it’s a science experiment.  I inhale the aroma of the fruit, and peel in circles around and around, careful to make the skin into a spiral.  If I’m lucky, I end up with what looks oddly similar to an orange-peel-snake, coiled on the napkin before me.  I feel like I’ve really accomplished something when I succeed.  Yes, Mama taught me to celebrate the small victories.  The love of orange smells is something I’ve carried with me, into adulthood.  My kitchen deodorizer spray is orange-scented-citrus-something-or-other.  It’s a brand I can only find at May’s Drug store.  I learned from Mom as well, to put orange peels down the garbage disposal, letting the blades chew them to bits in order to freshen up any lingering odors in the sink. 

I’ve recently developed a love for the aroma and flavor, of orange spice tea.  In fact, I found a tin at Akin’s the other day.  It’s small and round and pocket-sized, made by The Republic of Tea.  I love to sink a round, unbleached tea-bag into a mug of boiling water, and watch it turn from pale to amber in just a few moments later.  There were six bags in the tin when I bought it.  I’m down to two now, and I catch myself pulling the tin out of my pocket to pry it open and inhale the aroma of cinnamon, cloves and orange peel.

I tried the peel-in-one-piece feat with a hard-boiled egg once.  I’m still working on that skill.  But you can’t make boiled-egg tea, or spray egg scented room deodorizer in your kitchen.  I don’t think it would have the same pleasing effect.  So, maybe I’ll just stick with the orange.  It’s always been good to me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sensory Spill?

*from a poetry exercise during Monday night's writers' group  


corner made of

blood red walls

splashed with light

Illuminated photos

in white and black

of coffee mugs

Red, brown


book store

coffee shop strangers

quiet and thoughtful

loud and talkative

whisper soft and

resonate loudly

see me hear me!

don’t look at me!


sounds of Russian

in the distance?

near the magazines

short man bearded

brown and scraggly

‘neath a black knit cap



overhead in neon

the café sign

a coffee cup

orange and white

will it spill

hot coffee out

over magazines

and patrons

how to say

a Russian ouch!?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Overheard at a Coffeeshop II

*from a poetry exercise during Monday night's writers' group.


nights are so cold

can I have

a glass of water?

one cup of vanilla

one cup of hazelnut

would you like

whipped cream?

you’re welcome


I was trying

to beat the elevator

we should probably

press the button

right above it

now that you’re gone


can you read this?

but you can’t look

inside of it

it’s for girls

is it about snakes?

okay so, whatever!


I think

we should talk

because nobody

is talking

lets see if there

are any others

It feels like being

left behind



Monday, January 5, 2009

. .i think of you and i wonder

(an almost total re-write of a poem i did at writer's group)

you lie with me in the darkness of the day
leaning on my chest, cuddling close
i cup my hand over your head
and draw you near

your hair feels so rough, not at all like you
sharp to a point, pointing to the sky
i love the rebellion i feel in it
even as it shies away from me

i accept its difference, just like i accept you
you understand me, even when i don't understand myself
you're patient, kind . . .cute
and your words still surprise me

there is nothing you do that doesn't
amaze me
thrill me
make me love you more

can we be so different
and yet yearn to be together?

will all that's crazy in me
take away all the love that's in you?

can i still be me,
loving you
and have you
accept my love
as mine?

i can never let you go

Friday, January 2, 2009

the road is long (allegory most foul)

(i'm trying out "the daily writer" by fred white. it challenges you to write everyday, and learn something as you go. day one was "write an allegory, fool." well, the fool did it.)

into the mist walked angela.

she felt herself going higher and higher. the air around her grew thin, making it harder to breathe. she stumbled to the ground crying. this was way too difficult for a small person.

"you'll make it, sweetheart."

she looked around. out of the fog, bob hope appeared.

"it's all right. um . .you're gonna make it. sure. i've seen people like you. people walking around blindly with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do, not caring."

"you mean, like democrats?"

hope smiled. "you took the words right out of my mouth. and boy, was i glad to get rid of them."

hope helped her up, and angela walked on.

the only sound she could hear was her own footsteps. the only things she could see clearly was herself, and the land behind her. ahead was darkness . . . fog . . .nothing.

she stopped.

"we could go see what's on the tivo."

angela turned around, and there was dane cook.

"i mean, why go on ahead? there's nothing out there. you got the sun behind you, the popcorn, the cable."

angela wavered . . .

"listen, we're all gonna lie, we're all gonna cry, and we're all gonna take painful craps."

. . .but jolted back to reality.

"um, take a laxative, will you?"

she turned, and walked away.

at a certain point, she started to climb. the rocks she gripped were cold, and slippery. awkwardly she went on, stepping gingerly on.

"here, let me help you."

angela paused. who now?

she looked to her right in enough time to see doris day take off her gloves.

"you can have these. then your hands won't be all slimy."

"thank you." angela was dubious, but once she donned the gloves, her hands felt strong, warm. and very ladylike. "how sweet of you!"

"no problem, angela. good luck!"

"do you think i'll reach the top?"

"que sera . . ." and, in a moment, day was gone.

angela sighed, wishing her hair was bouncy and blonde.

soon, with a lighter spirit, and warm hands, angela reached the top of the mountain. all around was blue skies, green grass, warm sunshine . . .vivid colours everywhere.

she sat in the middle of a field of flowers, thinking. she barely noticed the person sitting next to her, but soon she smelled a deliciously feminine scent.

"what lovely perfume!"

"thank you, dear."

angela sighed.

"you know, it was a long climb up here. rocks. slime. fog. painful craps. was it even worth it?"

"*i* think it was. but, then again, i'm always sure something good will come out of everything."

"i guess you would have to, being you. but what is there here for me? grass? sun?"

"well, what do you want?"

"um . . .well . . .cable tv? great books? wi fi?"

blink, blink, blink . . .as she said each word, the comforts of her world appeared around her.

"oh, great! this . .wait! doritos!"

blink . . .doritos, too.

"and the old mr. pibb."


angela smiled, and sighed.

"how wonderful!"

the beautiful lady stood up.

"thanks for cluing me in!"

"you're welcome! you know, i believe in mind over matter and doing anything you set your mind on. this paradise you're in can be tailor made. it can be whatever you want it to be."

angela nodded at the wise words.

"good bye, angela!"

angela called out, but didn't think she was heard.

"good bye, elizabeth. and . . .thank you."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Grandpa's Christmas Gift

In the early fifties, my grandfather made his living as a painter, and in the wintertime, it wasn’t an easy way to pay the bills.  One year, as Christmas approached, he put off shopping for gifts, waiting for his paycheck on Christmas Eve.  Sadly, that paycheck didn’t come that day, and he headed home with no money for gifts or food. 

My grandfather never liked being in debt.  He has always been the kind of man who pays his creditors first, then buys his groceries, and such. However, on that Christmas Eve night, with two little girls at home, expecting Christmas, his only option was a charge account at the local White’s store.  Similar to today’s Western Auto stores, White’s carried auto parts, appliances, lawn and garden supplies, toys, and a variety of other goods.

Grandpa headed for White’s in search of Christmas gifts for his two young daughters, my mother and my aunt Patsy.  Mama can’t remember what gift she and her sister received that Christmas, but what makes this particular shopping trip memorable is the gift Grandpa bought for his wife, my Mimi. As he headed toward the front of the store to purchase the Christmas toys he’d selected, he spied an inexpensive box of chocolate covered cherries. This extravagance would be the Christmas gift he presented to his sweetheart, when they both knew there was really no money to spare for their celebration.

My Mimi loved that Christmas gift.  I know she did, because every year since that one, Grandpa came home from Christmas shopping with a box of chocolate covered cherries for her.  As far back as I can remember, and even before then, no matter how many other gifts there were under the tree, Mimi always accepted the inexpensive box of candy with tears in her eyes.  Grandpa only stopped buying them for her when the nursing home care team adjusted her diet to keep her from developing diabetes. 

I’m sure Grandpa didn’t know, on that long ago Christmas Eve, what an important part of his family’s Christmas tradition that box of cherries would become; but I’ve watched my own Daddy buy a box for Mama, every Christmas for years.  My own husband too, always manages to surprise me with a box in the weeks that lead up to the holidays.  That one-dollar box of candy has become a way to say, “I love you” every single year.  Grandpa hasn’t bought a box of chocolate covered cherries in several years.  But this year, there’s a carefully wrapped box of them under the tree for him.  It’s my way of saying “I love you, too.”

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