#Micropoetry Monday: Love Story


She went to Utah, to seek her fortune in a husband,
but found misfortune that would keep her single
for the man who would someday understand her.

Divorce lawyer by day,
matchmaker by night,
Gwyneth Kate found her mate
in a client,
her client in a mate.

She was a movie star,
he was a stage actor,
Her legacy survived through celluloid,
his, through the cells
that made up his son.

Sir Evan was a quiet man who grew beauty,
capturing it with his camera.
His soft-spoken ways spoke to Moira Ma’am,
a white lily who grew in his heart–
a lily he made dewy.

She’d loved a 0,
a 10 had loved her,
but because the 0 had come first,
she lost The One.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book


He did not drink coffee or sweet tea,
but his eyes melted the ice;
his words blew the steam from my cup,
only for me to see it was half-full.

I liked Elder Roberts,
Caitlin liked Elder Johnson,
but my mother loved them both,
for they represented to her
something she’d once had & lost.

She never spoke of them;
it was as if she’d only lived
to give life to me,
but she told the elders
of her pre-Katryn existence—
a fantasy.

Clean-cut & -shaven,
they didn’t smoke or swear.
They were the wheat
once the chaff had blown away—
a kernel of what all were,
absent the world.

We never touched,
but I fell in love,
for he unearthed something inside me
I’d not known existed—
that spiritual essence David had buried.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #394: Repair



I’m a porcelain doll,
all cracked up.
I’m a rag doll,
the stitches loosening
from too many washings.
I’m a paper doll,
all torn up.
I’m an Amish doll,
my face sometimes blank
when someone says two words
that sound like one.
I’m a Barbie doll,
all glammed up,
carrying two heavy weights.
I’m broken,
in need of repair.
Who can fix me,
but the one who collects dolls
and puts them in his dollhouse—
so pretty to look at,
for no one else to touch but him?


#Micropoetry Monday: Weapons, & Things that are Hard


The rock was used to kill,
the paper, to destroy a reputation,
the scissors, to maim—
all were equal as weapons.
All can kill the spirit,
but the rock alone,
the unrepentant soul.

She was a ruin—
jagged-toothed &
draped in moss,
till the rock collectors came,
& she was made better
than the sum of her parts.

Water was her weapon—
boiling water pouring on the body,
icicle piercing the heart,
saltwater filling the lungs—
no fingerprints left,
DNA washed away.

His affection for Lila #9’s
soft curves was hard.
She fulfilled his every need,
yet did not get pregnant.
He loved her like a real woman,
until she conspired with the one
to whom she sold his sperm.

*In John Updike’s story, “A&P” (http://www.tiger-town.com/whatnot/updike/), he does something unusual:  He implements a long adjective using hyphens, describing a grocery aisle.  My ENC1102 professor had us come up with our own; the weapons in the “Clue” board game came to mind.


Conference and Conversation with Rheta Grimsley Johnson


Two of the intangibles I’ve gained since becoming a college student in my thirties are confidence and perspective; I’m not sure that would’ve happened had I continued with my original plan–get my degree in Health Information Technology and be done with it.

The semester I took a Creative Writing elective, I began to seek out more opportunities to enrich my college experience, which included participating in poetry readings, writing for the student newspaper, and work-studying in the English Department.  Attending events, such as plays, art shows, and Book Talks, broadened my experience even more.

The best Book Talk I’ve attended thus far was given by columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson (http://www.timesdaily.com/life/columnists/rheta_grimsley_johnson/rheta-grimsley-johnson-make-much-of-something-small/article_ab2398fa-af14-56c5-b20c-22eeeb51902b.html).

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Rheta Grimsley Johnson is a lady one might mistake for a schoolteacher, with her pearl necklace and long dress, and pleasant voice with a Southern lilt. “You can make a living as a writer,” she told an audience at Pensacola State College.

As many lovers of words are wont to do, she quoted Robert Frost, who said that writers “write about the common things in an uncommon way.”

The column that propelled her career as a newspaper columnist was about her dad losing his job. This resonated because corporate America no longer valued loyalty, but was all about hiring younger and cheaper. “My dad was a company man,” she said, and it was like being “bitten by his own dog…this one piece took on a life of its own.” Her editor loved all the letters that came in, in response to the column.

Years ago, she was told by one of her editors not to write about children or dogs. “Don’t write like a girl….don’t write about emotional stuff,” Johnson said. “There was always a dog right there next to me, no matter what was going on in my life.”

Johnson lived in Pensacola as a young child. “I knew even at seven we were trading down,” she says, of when her family relocated from Pensacola to Montgomery, Alabama. She can still remember the first time she heard wind chimes—it was a “magical time”.

In 1989, Johnson wrote a biography of Charles Schulz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. When Schulz complained about the popularity of “Doonesbury,” Johnson asked why he didn’t write a political cartoon. “I want to stick with the verities.” Like Johnson, Schulz sticks with “the human condition” which transcends time.

Being a seasoned writer, Johnson doled out some sage advice: She doesn’t like v-words, like “virtual” and “vis-à-vis”—“fancy pants little words you don’t really need.” “Very” is a common repeat offender and needs to be locked away, brevity is key.

According to Johnson, people have a nine-second attention span (while goldfish have 13), she works hard on her lead.

Like the old-school notion of the three R’s being reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, Johnson says good writing has three R’s:

The first one is rhythm. Reading it aloud is the “best way to self-edit…Good writing has rhythm, just like a song.”

“If you know how to write a short, declarative sentence, you will be sought out… Good nonfiction should read like fiction…good fiction should be as well researched as nonfiction.”

Keeping a journal to jot down things as they come to her is like “having money in the bank.” Having written four columns a week, she says, “Writers block is a luxury.”

The second R was restraint. “Just say what happened.”

The third R is routine. “Try to write in the same place…same time of day.”

Because newspaper circulation is on the decline, she said, “I’m going to completely outlive newspapers…I needed to reinvent myself a little bit.” Johnson has authored “Hank Hung the Moon:…and Warmed Our Cold, Cold Hearts” and “The Dogs Buried over the Bridge: A Memoir in Dog Years.”

“He sang me through a lot,” she says of Hank Williams, and dogs “teach us more than we teach them,” such as taking naps and hiding the best treats.

Johnson’s writing career hasn’t been one of a “front-porch thumb sucker,” but one of getting outside her head and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, 550 words at a time. “You meet the most interesting people at laundromats and bus stations.” Stories are everywhere. A good writer knows it when he or she hears (or sees) it.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book


Mother had long ago accepted Caitlin loving Cara’s mother, for she believed it was she, Laurie Nolan, that she loved as her mother.

Caitlin was like a foundling, still lost in our little family, for she sought the attention I never had to.

Red hair like the Devil was all I remembered of my father. What spell had he cast in his life, so Mother cast out all others after his death?

She looked over at me & smiled, & in that moment, I felt we’d connected. I wanted to hold onto that moment so much, but I blinked, & it was gone.

Whenever David said he didn’t believe in organized religion, the Baptists, who told him he was hell-bound, would say, “What about disorganized?”

Though David believed marriage largely a secular affair, the fact that Mother would marry him for time only & seek eternity with Patrick wounded him.

Caitlin fingered her St. Christopher’s medal as she looked at me. She knew I would never believe but for love—love for Elder Roberts.

I put a hand to my hair, sensing his touch, though it was my mother whose hair he was fondling.

They tossed that which was against the Word of Wisdom—Mother’s coffee maker & sun tea jar, until all that was left were wine glasses for water.

Our home was being Mormonized while David stood there, leaning against the doorjamb, watching my mother’s Catholic identity being erased.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #393: Pieces


The First Mr. DeWinter

His wife had been a mystery to him,
and he searched through everyone she had ever known–
getting secondhand memories that seemed to contradict,
thirdhand accounts of those she had allegedly wronged,
and rumors of those wrongs she had sought to right;
he found himself more confused than ever,
for she was,
to them,
a mystery.