Field Trip to the Rescue Farm

Here’s another old poem of mine from 2009. Funny, I remember the field trip rather well, but I don’t remember writing the poem!

The clapboard farmhouse sighs over the cold
stone foundation, relieved to see our group.

Our guide presents us her rescued charges,
heaping food and praise in equal measure.

The plow came to rest here long ago,
its steel teeth now dull from disuse.

Horses stand idle in the shadow of the barn,
swatting at memories of sweat and cruelty.

Fresh turkeys are spoiling in the sun,
their feathers now dense and unruffled.

Fat-backed hogs sleep like the immortal dead,
living mummies surrounded by their spoils.

And our children flit across the fields like glitter,
sweeping the farm in magical dust.

87017-cowsPhoto credit: WATTAgNet.com, via flickr // CC BY 2.0

 

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All I Want Is …

Here’s another poem from April 2009. That was such a hectic time in my life, I’m surprised that I managed to write anything!

All I want is …

A quiet place for me to write …
A quick retreat from everyday life …

From a washer laden with mildewed socks,
From little boys writing on my car — in chalk,

From dust and dirt and trails of ants,
From missing coats and wrinkled pants,

From a leaking roof and endless rain,
From muddy paws and a stopped-up drain,

All I want is a quiet so deep
That I can pen this poem and get some sleep.

I am a Geek

I’m still sifting through old poems of mine and I came across this one from 2009. Gwendolyn Brooks is one of my favorite poets and “We Real Cool” holds a special place in my heart.

I wrote this as part of a Poem-A-Day challenge at the Poetic Asides blog. I can’t remember what the prompt was that led to this poem. I think we were supposed to spoof a known poem. I remember that I wanted to explore the opposite of the emotions evoked in Brooks’ iconic poem – what it would feel like to be alone, away from the pool hall, knowing that you’d never fit in with the pool sharks.

My apologies to Gwendolyn Brooks for this one, may she rest in peace.

The Lone Child.
One on the Playground.

I am a geek. I
am a freak. I

pick my nose. I
suck my toes. I

don’t like hugs. I
follow bugs. I

run away. I
wish you’d stay.

Evolution of the Poem: charcoal landscape …

If you’ve read my poetry, or follow my Instagram account, you’ll notice that I have an obsession with clouds (see photo above!). Last December, this poem of mine was published in the new Autumn Moon Haiku Journal:

charcoal landscape
a smudge of nimbostratus
on the horizon

I like this poem because it captures the ephemeral nature of clouds. I can almost visualize the artist at the easel, trying to get the effect just right before the cloud changes shape again.

When I was very small, I took an art class and used charcoal pencils. Over the years, I’ve taken more of a liking to pencil sketches, but the technique of shading – or attempting to capture a moment through shading – is similar. For me, this reminds me of smudging and erasing and smudging again, coupled with watching clouds and trying to capture their beauty in words or by photograph.

Now, similar to other poems I’ve explored through Evolution of the Poem, this one didn’t start out this way. An early draft read:

shaded charcoal lines
smudged slightly at the edges …
nimbostratus clouds

In retrospect, there’s a lot wrong with this picture. First of all, there is no picture. What are we even looking at? L1 doesn’t tell us.

L2 doesn’t fare much better. The phrase “slightly at the edges” is wordy and doesn’t add anything to the image.

L3 is redundant. I remember thinking that it was a heavy line, ponderous like a dark cloud ready to rain, but in reality, it just weighs down the poem.

I played around with this haiku for at over three years – and it was rejected at least twice – before it found a home.

Supernatural Tanka

Recently, I saw a call-out for poetry based on the TV show Supernatural. Given that I am a fan of the Winchester brothers, I thought I’d try my hand at penning a few. Sadly, haiku were not eligible for this project, since the poems had to be at least five lines. (You can read some of my Supernatural haiku here.) So, I decided to write tanka (or, at least, modified tanka). Two of my poems are still under consideration for this book  – yay! – so I thought I’d post my rejected poems here. Only, let’s not call them rejected. How about under-appreciated?

ANOTHER DAY

beside a devil’s trap
painted with blood sigils
dusted in rock salt
the Winchester brothers
survive
and endure

FOR DEAN

If I could
I would bake you
a lattice-topped cherry pie –
pit-free, sweet, with no lingering aftertaste –
just the safety and comfort of home.

Have you written poetry based on a favorite book or TV show? Let me know in the comments!

Ten Signs You Were Raised in the Desert

 A few years ago, I saw a call for haiku about the desert experience. Having been raised in California and Utah, I was eager to submit to this anthology. My poem appears in Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga (Dos Gatos Press, 2013):

thermals rising
all across the valley
prayers for rain

When I was working on the submission, I found myself slipping back into my childhood and I wrote up this list. If you are also a desert flower, I’m sure you’ll relate. 

Ten signs you were raised in the desert:

1) You don’t own a raincoat or umbrella, or if you do, you bought them for a special occasion.

2) When you step out of the shower, you expect to be dry before your hand hits the bath towel. Sometimes, you don’t even use a towel.

3) There was a cactus in your yard when you were growing up, or you knew someone who grew them.

4) Your mother worried that you would fall into the cactus and poke your eye out.

5) If you hear the weather forecast calling for any chance of rain, you expect to get damp, but never drenched.

6) You’ve lived through several rounds of water rationing.

7) It seems weird when servers bring out water at a restaurant without anyone asking for it.

8) You can tell the difference between smoke from a wildfire versus a fireplace by smell alone.

9) You’ve been evacuated during a wildfire or know someone who has. 

10) Every place in the U.S. east of Colorado looks too green.

If you can relate, like this post & share it! 

Seneca Creek Crafts

So … I decided to open an Etsy shop called Seneca Creek Crafts. My writing muse has been fickle lately (apart from feeding me plot bunnies for CSI: Miami fanfiction, which is not the most practical thing I could be doing), so crafting has been a nice outlet.

 

As I’ve been designing and creating mini wreath ornaments, I’ve been struck by the parallels between my poetry journey and my journey as a crafter. I began writing narrative long-form poems and wound up loving haiku; I started with full-sized wreaths and now I craft minis. I spent a good deal of my life creatively blocked from writing poetry; I haven’t seriously crafted in the last eight years. The process of finding just the right word to finish a poem is so similar to the act of adding one last embellishment to a wreath. And when the creative process is going well, I derive tremendous pleasure from crafting a finished product – whether a poem or a wreath.   

     

What creative outlets do you have in addition to writing? Does the process of creating in a different area help you as a writer?