Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #340, Theme: “Finally” or “At Last”

Scenic 90 Cafe

The Diner Hour

Once upon a time in Pensacola,
Ella May Cinders—
a waitress of generous proportions—
lived with her evil stepbrothers,
Randy the Handyman,
who was anything but handy,
(just randy),
and Andy Jack-a-Dandy,
who disdained her fashion nonsense.

Jeb, her evil stepfather,
who liked to hedge funds,
had expected her to take over
his late wife’s wifely duties—
save those in the bedroom.

Eking out a hardscrabble existence
amongst the one-percenters that frequented
The Shiny Diner—
known as Scenic 90 Café—
she never lost hope that a single tip
would change her life,
as it was against the law in this parallel universe
for a woman to leave her father
without a husband—
to be “uncleaved”.

Ella Mae’s auto was a Caddy from the last Millennium,
having not seen an oil change in 5000 miles,
the white paint chipping away like eczema.
Her black uniform was soft and thin
from so many washings,
and her shoes had holes in the soles and toes.
She was a mess.

Every day, when she went in to work,
there was Ashton Prince at Table 25,
who was looking for a wife.
Thirty to her twenty,
and a Mormon at that,
he was gloriously unmarked—
piercings and tattoos had he none.

But alas, this prince saw her only
as a server willing to chitchat,
for she was known as “The Comely Backwater Kid”.
Though her hands were clean,
her hair needed a cut,
for the ends split every which way.

Pale and wan,
she was often tired
from cleaning up after her father and brothers.
She never thought of her mother,
who’d only married the miser for his money,
thinking it would benefit her daughter.
She laughed miserably at the irony
that she was poorer than she had been
when her 99-percenter father had been alive.

So there was Ashton,
ordering his usual—
the Steak Diane—
with Rosy, the waitress,
a riveting one, at that,
with her Italian charm and French perfume,
talking him into some dessert.

Ella still had twenty minutes till her shift,
and so she went to the picnic table out back,
where no one was smoking for a change.
She started to cry,
pulling an old napkin—
smelling of brown gravy—
from her apron.

Then suddenly,
a man she had never seen,
wearing the uniform of the diner,
came up to her,
sooty as a coal miner.

“Hello,” she said, sniffling,
and he smiled and said,
“I’m Harry, and I’m here for you.”
Ella looked around,
but he told her not to fear,
for her fairy godfather was here.

“I’m here to make your prince see you
as you really are—the Daughter of a King.”

Since it was Halloween night,
he dressed her up as the Duchess of Cambridge;
her Caddy was now a mint-green Minnie Cooper,
her shoes making her feel ten feet tall.

“T’will be when the diner closes at nine,
the spell will be broken,
and you will be as you were,
so you’ve but four hours to make this man
fall in love with you, Ella unseen.”

He sprinkled some dust,
ground from the seeds of forget-me-nots,
so that none would recognize her.

She walked through the front door—
no longer “the help”—
breezing by the hostess.
She went to the booth where her prince
was soothing his sweet tooth,
and asked, “Is this seat taken?”

So taken with her he was,
over the course of an hour,
and three courses in,
that he pulled his mother’s engagement ring
from his pocket.
“Whosoever this ring fits,
that will be the girl for you,” she’d said.
He let her try it on,
and it fit like a Trump in a tower.

Suddenly, it was closing time,
and she said, “I have to go”,
but the spell broke before she could get away,
and he saw her as she had been,
and as she was now.

“Forgive me, Ella, for being such a dolt,
for you had my heart at ‘Sweet or Unsweet?’”

He took her away from her evil brood,
and they were married in the temple the next day
possible.
She got to know her Heavenly Father,
and knew through Him,
she would be reunited with her earthly father,
and would be sealed for time and all eternity
to her prince in a shining Mercedes.

As for Randy, Andy, and Jeb,
they eventually each ran for mayor,
using the Princess of Pensacola,
Mrs. Ella Prince,
as their claim to the seat.

At long last, Ella was happy—
happy to not endorse any of them.

 

5 Really Cool Things About Kindle

  1. Free books.  I don’t consider PDF downloads “real” books, but I love the free ones (especially on writing) offered on amazon.com.  It’s a great way to connect with other authors and learn something about the craft.  (I highly recommend “How to Write Poetry, by Cynthia Sharp; it’s not free, but it was well worth the $2.99).  I already have a free e-book idea of my own I am developing (writing prompts with examples), as a way to gain followers, and perhaps even contacts.
  2. Samples:  I can sit anywhere (like in bed) and read a sample of the book before I buy.
  3. Instant gratification:  I don’t have to wait for a book in the mail.
  4. It’s minimalist.  I hate clutter (I can count on both hands the number of DVDs I own, and there is a cap on how many of anything I allow myself to own); nothing looks junkier than a bunch of dog-eared paperbacks.  Plus, the electronic device is also much more sanitary than a used book that someone may have read while on the can.  (Hey, going to the bathroom is boring.)
  5. I can send documents.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email.  This is my favorite feature, because I’ve been wanting to print up a booklet of all the kids’ songs I sing to my daughter (as I haven’t learned all the verses to them yet–even the lyrics I wrote myself), but now I can just send a Microsoft Word document with all the songs as an attachment to my Kindle e-mail.  I can also read my own work, thus saving ink (but I can’t edit it).

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There are a few drawbacks to an e-reader, like not being able to give away a book you will never read again.  (I don’t pay $3.99 for a book to just delete it.)  A few of the authors I read, like Lisa Jackson and Sandra Brown (mainstream fiction authors, whose focus is on plot, unlike literary fiction, where the focus is on characterization), I won’t read again.  I know the plot, and the characters aren’t compelling enough to revisit.  (I like to compare mainstream novels to milk chocolate, and literary novels to dark.)

Furthermore, I was under the impression that Kindle books were cheaper, but they are not, considering I rarely ever buy a new book.  I generally by “Like New” books in hardcover, or, unless they are by one of the authors I mentioned, I buy a cheap paperback.

Also, there is nothing like browsing the bookstore for an hour.  It’s one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon (usually with a coffee).  I say, I will never buy an illustrated children’s book on any kind of electronic device.  My daughter likes turning the pages, and I like the aesthetics of a shelfie.

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So, I am what I call a hybrid reader–beloved books will still have a place on my shelf, but pure escapism can be relegated to my Kindle.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #339, Theme: Anticipation

A Life of Days

Sunday, September 13, 1981,
I was born at Lucy Lee,
wrapped in a quilt of many colors,
blessed with the ancestral name of Sarah Lea.

Saturday, March 16, 2013,
I was married at Grace Lutheran,
my ring a simple band of rose gold,
as uncomplicated as I am not.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013,
my daughter was born at Sacred Heart—
a little copy weight of me,
but as light as I am dark.

So many other dates I anticipate—
lovely memories yet to be made—
and faith tells me they will be wonderful.
I hold out my arms with my eyes closed,
like a child expecting a present
too large to hold for long,
knowing the best has yet to come
and will come again.

So many dates I anticipate,
save the last on the timeline of my life,
for there will be stories that could’ve been,
but will have to remain untold;
for these stories are mine,
and no one else can tell them in the way
I could have done.

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #338, Theme: Stained

The Stain of Inhumanity

Though her sheets had been as white as snow,
they were stained with the scarlet sins
of Dr. Krueger—
with the sins of the donor fathers,
who had never looked upon their Sleeping Beauty.

Asleep, she proved her usefulness,
for such was greater than her wakefulness—
her unwillingness—
to collaborate with the devil M.D.—
to create a master set of keys
that would unlock the world powers.

Her empty vessel was filled
with clumps of cells that would grow to form
a single function—
like little Romes, or rather, Dresdens—
each unique,
and carefully selected;
each conception immaculate,
even sterile.
She was the garden from which his
little flowers would grow—
a bridge to the sun.

Violations by dozens of men,
all the way from Denmark,
are imprinted on her memory,
the results of each planting,
another loss of autonomy.
She has no voice but Sister Augustine’s,
whose powers are limited on this earth.

Her body is not her own,
for it was bought with a price.
Dr. Krueger was her savior,
even as he is her imprisoner,
having harvested her from the trash
that was her family—
the plot of an evil stepmother
with a rotten apple.

Stockholm Syndrome, they call it,
for he preserves her life,
even as he denies it to her.
The news of the world beyond her windows
filters in secondhand
through this haze of semi-consciousness.
She cannot make sense of it all.

This incapacitated princess cannot love them all,
any more than the princes of Scandinavia,
can love their all.
Through not one,
but many like her,
will spring up kingdoms and principalities—
light in color,
but dark in intent and purpose.

“You will be a queen,” he says,
her throne a hospital bed,
her crown a tangled mass of hair
the color of golden raisins,
her glass slipper a yellow sock with a
puffed smiley face on the bottom.

A plastic bracelet has her name,
but she has forgotten it now,
for it’s been so long since she’s heard it.
She is simply, Another Eve,
and sometimes Mother Mary,
who was overcome with a mysterious entity
called the Holy Ghost;
or was that Ghost,
that vapor,
simply a doctor with a needle
that put the Virgin to sleep?

 

Creative Writing Prompt: Polar Bears in the Desert…

Or, in other words, write a story about someone who is at odds with their environment.  Some examples are a minister in a political race (okay, maybe not so much), a domestic goddess who switches places with a CEO (that one could really be fun), a Millennial hipster stuck in the sixties, to name a few. 

Living in the South, having to deal with Yankees who make a deal about my “yes sir” and “no ma’am-ing”, was the inspiration for this farcical piece.

When Melissa Met the South

Melissa Caldwell blotted her temple with a handkerchief. It was so undignified to sweat, or perspire, as her aunt Addie would say.  Her aunt Addie believed every word had a gender—men sweated, women perspired, men tailored, women sewed, men were chefs, women were cooks.  She even still used the terms male nurse and lady doctor.

It had been more than twenty years since she had seen her father’s aunt. Even though she’d been five the last time she had been in Pensacola, Florida, she hadn’t remembered it being this hot.  The humidity made her feel as if she were walking through a steam room.  She stopped at a café to get a cup of coffee—iced, that is—then realized she was a couple of eggs short of hangry.

“Would you like grits with that?” the server, whose nametag read Mandy Claire, said.

“What are those?” Melissa asked, and this little pissant waitress had the nerve to look at her like she was stupid. Well, at least she wasn’t a waitress; she had gotten an education.

“Okay, never mind,” she said with a wave of her hand and a roll of her eyes. “Do you have anything gluten-free?”

“Gluten-free?” Again, the look.

Melissa blew up her imaginary bangs in exasperation. “You know what?  Just bring me an iced coffee to start.”  Mandy started to walk away, but Melissa called out.  “Oh, by the way, do you know where a good Jewish deli is around here?”

“Publix has a really good deli,” Mandy said, then scurried off before Melissa could ask what in the hell was a Publix.

Melissa took that as an opportunity to fish her cell phone out of her Prada bag and call her best friend, Marisol Fernandez.  Melissa spoke Spanish fluently, so she chose to be respectful of her friend’s culture by speaking in her language, garnering a few glares from nearby booths.  She loved the privacy of being able to speak in code, but she could’ve sworn had she been speaking English, she would’ve been ignored, so she transitioned.  Funny, how they were all about “speaking the language”, yet they couldn’t spell worth it a damn.  The funniest one she’d seen had been on a church sign that said, “Not haven Jesus in this life is hell on Earth.”

“So, how is Jennifer and Kathy’s wedding coming?” Melissa asked her friend.

The waitress gave her a funny look as she set down her coffee, topped with a copious amount of whipped cream. “Anything else, ma’am?” she asked, seeming reticent to disrupt the conversation.

“Ma’am?” Melissa said, mid-conversation. “Please, I’m not even thirty.”  Melissa dismissed her by resuming the discussion on hers and hers bath towels.

The girl looked confused, then went back to work.

~

A group of people were having some kind of Bible club behind her while she finished her coddled eggs (another thing Mandy had never heard of), and it was making her uncomfortable. She turned around, looking aggrieved.  “Would you guys try holding that praying jazz down?  It’s really offensive to those who don’t believe.  Thank you.”  That was how she always got what she wanted—assuming she would get it anyway.

“We’ll pray for you, Sister,” one of them called out, so she sucked down the rest of her coffee, leaving a ten dollar tip. As she looked back, she saw the waitress’s astonished expression.  The girl did need some dental work, after all, and Melissa’s inherited wealth was a bit embarrassing.  She was like the only one-percenter in this greasy spoon.

A young, Mormony-looking couple holding hands walked by her car, pointing and shaking their heads. “Coexist only works if the others don’t want to chop your head off or blow you up,” she heard the man say.

God, what the Christian hell is wrong with these people? They are so paranoid, Melissa thought. This part of the country bled red, so it was no wonder.  She couldn’t wait to get to Aunt Addie’s house.  She’d kept in touch with her lonely great-aunt for the past several years, and she’d always seemed like a fairly rational person, albeit old-fashioned.  She didn’t know how her aunt stood living in a place that was so damn American Gothic Horror.  It was like freaking Pleasantville.

~

When she reached her aunt’s beach house, she was in awe. The sand was as white as sugar, the gulf vacillating between emerald and sapphire.  A wrinkle in the sky divided land from sea, and the sea oats swayed like dancers in love at the end of the night.  She even though she saw a dolphin making a graceful arc.  There wasn’t anything like this in New York.  The Jersey Shore didn’t even compare.

“Melissa?” a sixtyish woman said, coming out in a tank, Bermuda shorts, and flip-flops. An ivory Virgin Mary blended in to the landscape, but the “Marriage is Between a Man and a Woman” bumper sticker did not.

Melissa had always been vocal about her beliefs and non-beliefs, but she had never quite pegged her aunt as a Christian conservative, and yet, here she was, welcoming her into the folds of her embrace like it didn’t matter. It was then that Melissa knew she was in very grave danger here—of losing her heart to this place where it was flip-flips and bikini tops all summer long, where it didn’t snow, but rained at Christmas, and where everything was fried (except peanuts, which were boiled); where there was a church on every corner, and a hobo or Bible-thumper on the other.

Yes, she was, indeed, afraid of falling in love with this lovely place.

 

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #337, Theme: Persona Poem

A Persona of Grace

Grace

Grace Anna Goodhue,
a persona of grace.

Twas never church creeds,
but the spirit of the sermon
that lit the path beneath her feet,
leading her in music and song
that were her forms of worship,
education, her edification.

She taught those who could not hear
to read lips—
to learn the language of the perfect pitch.
She taught them how to live not just in their world,
but in the world around them,
so that they could be a part of both.

With an unspoken understanding,
she was to marry another,
but then she met Calvin
whose presence and poise
was most gentlemanly
with his quiet dignity.

She knew he needed her
more than she needed him,
and for seven days,
in the land of Montreal,
the man Calvin proved himself to be
ice to her fire.
She was his babbling brook
that bubbled over his still waters,
which would ripple all the way to Capitol Hill.

With her husband who spoke in silences,
she followed him,
even as he followed her.

As she listened to yarns on politics
behind closed doors,
she knitted away her anxiety,
ticking away the quiet.

The President’s equal, was Grace Anna—
his Florence Nightingale—
this lady with the knitting needle,
mightier than a sword.

She was a kindred suffragette—
a word that had always sounded
like a battered woman in a tattered dress.
When the right was recognized,
giving women the voice of men
to elect those who would rule over them,
she was there,
filling out an absentee ballot,
the flash of cameras dazzling in her depths.

An English rose, was this First Lady,
coming into the bloom of her time,
shining as the morning dew.

Like an archaeologist searching for an ancient language,
digging through tomes,
brushing them off like old bones,
she searched for a slice of herstory—
knowledge about the former mistresses
of the great, White House;
but, like the Bible in ways,
it was about the men who won the elections,
with the wives supporting them from behind,
raising their children,
doing what they did
so that their husbands could do what they did.

Though he never spoke of the issues of women,
he showed his respect in so many words,
in so many ways.
While he served the public,
she served the private,
her influence shielded like the veil of a widow,
a little light filtering through in times of his need.

Threads of conversation would unravel,
and she would pick up the ends,
knitting them back together.
Never did she want another to hear in him
what was unspoken—
a man in the greys of melancholy.

Like Cinderella,
she was the princess of the American palace,
with the mice family her friends—
a love for the underdogs,
be they mice or women.

And then, in July of 1924,
the smallest thing,
unseen,
killed her son,
leaving her with one
who would live to the New Millennium.

It was Grace who would wipe her husband’s tears
with the lace of her handkerchief.

Of an open door, she would write,
her spirituality shining through it,
banishing the darkness that was her grief.

When Calvin said a depression was coming,
she thought of all people,
he would know.

When she became a widow,
spending the next quarter of a century of her life as such,
she spoke no longer of the man
whose voice she had been.

“For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces.” 
–Calvin Coolidge

Source:  http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=31

 

An Open Letter to Sarah Palin

Global Security, Privacy, & Risk Management

Dear Mrs. Palin,

I am a former US Marine and US Navy Officer with a Combat Action Ribbon as well as service connected disabilities. I am also a Republican.  I have also served with, and am friends with, dozens of combat veterans who suffer daily from various injuries and wounds to include PTSD.  I recently read your comments related to PTSD in which you attempted to excuse your son’s arrest on domestic abuse charges and firearm charges by referencing his supposed PTSD.   Based upon your previous comments I am not surprised that you would choose to use this very serious condition as a political football and, once again, attempt to divert blame from your own family’s abhorrent, violent behavior.

In 2014 your entire family was involved in a late night ‘drunken brawl’ at a party in which Track Palin (the accused domestic abuser) was involved in a bloody fight. …

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