Micropoetry Monday: Children of the Blue and the Grey

Children of the Blue and the Gray

The Shutterfly edition

It wasn’t that she wasn’t adventurous—
it was just that she lived all her adventures in bed—
under the covers & between the pages,
where she didn’t have to worry about dealing with anti-Americanism,
language barriers,
or diseases she’d thought didn’t exist anymore.
She was dust jackets,
they were bullet-proof vests.

After a childhood of climbing over mountains of forgotten Amazon purchases,
wading through an ocean of every free tee-shirt they had ever received,
walking through the labyrinth of towers of cardboard boxes,
& pushing aside stacks of unopened junk mail
to find a place at the kitchen table for the TV dinners they never ate together,
Pamela Comstock eventually tunneled her way out—
only for her husband to never understand why
his wife was always throwing things away—
receipts in the store rubbish before the groceries even made it home,
cardboard boxes he tried to save for their next move,
& junk mail he never got a chance to look at.
He never understood why they had to give away an old sheet set
whenever they bought a new one,
or why they could only have 8 forks & not a tine more,
& why reusable gift bags gave her anxiety.
He did not understand her addiction to containers
for those things she could not give away—
clothes for the next baby,
non-virtual photo albums,
& Christmas decorations.
For Pamela spent her time not acquiring things
but stockpiling memories, stories, & experiences
so that her head became that place
where she dumped all her clutter—
a place where no one could see
& no one could judge.

He was a book reviewer,
she, a food critic.
He loved trashing the words of others
with his own,
she,
their food,
with words of her own.
But when the writers threw their words
back at him,
& the chefs turned the dining tables
back on her,
they discovered that he couldn’t write
any more than she could cook—
that they were nothing but alphabet soup
right out of the can.

Summer mini-writing workshop: More writing truths (with examples)

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Just as Studs Terkel wrote about average folks who worked lowly jobs, write about the relatable. We all love stories about the everyman or everywoman. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/10/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-9-theme-work/

The how behind something can be even more entertaining than the why. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/10/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-10-theme-how-blank/

For better or worse, from every relationship, we can find one takeaway. https://sarahleastories.com/2016/04/28/poem-a-day-2016-writers-digest-challenge-28-theme-important-blank/

Sometimes, the real story is what happens the day after. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/12/29/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-333-theme-exhaustion/

Listicles are more likely to be read than an essay. (My condolences to English professors everywhere.) People like their information to come in tweet-sized packages. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/09/29/10-myths/

Headlines are deadlines, the stories, the lifelines. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/11/28/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-27-theme-leftovers

Sometimes, the story half-writes itself. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/05/01/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-30-theme-bury-the-blank/

Our environment has a profound effect on who we are. We all absorb our surroundings—we just internalize them differently. https://sarahleastories.com/2017/04/01/poem-a-day-2017-writers-digest-challenge-1-theme-reminiscing/

Love stories don’t have to involve romance. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/11/15/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-11-theme-animal/

We’re often nostalgic for things that were wonderful in their time but are relics in retrospect. Shared nostalgia illuminates a generation of people. https://sarahleastories.com/2017/11/30/writers-digest-november-poem-a-day-2017-challenge-30-theme-back-in-the-day/

There is a story behind every recipe (or in every recipe). https://sarahleastories.com/2017/11/27/writers-digest-november-poem-a-day-2017-challenge-27-theme-blank-of-blank/

Even if a word doesn’t have a place in your speaking, it just might have a place in your writing. https://sarahleastories.com/2018/04/25/poem-a-day-april-2018-writers-digest-challenge-25-theme-intriguing-seldom-used-word/

Micropoetry Monday: Children of the Blue and the Gray

Children of the Blue and the Gray

The Shutterfly edition

They were the invisible children—
these homeschoolers that came in a batch
known as a baker’s dozen.
Under an opaque bell jar,
numbered like players on God’s team,
they were but paper flowers
left in the attic to disintegrate.

She had come from a broken home
of broken bones,
& when she conceived,
she feared for the softness
of those bones,
& hardened her heart
so that she could give
those bones away.

The parents sacrificed themselves,
so their children would have a better life,
even as those same children, like adults,
sacrificed the future for their convenience.

Summer mini-writing workshop: Writing truths

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Save everything. If a stanza doesn’t fit in one poem, don’t force it in. That’s the beauty of mitosis. Not every piece has to be part of the same puzzle.

I’ve often found myself writing backstory on my characters, only to cut it all out and paste it elsewhere (or not). You don’t have to use everything you write or know about your characters. Sometimes, that’s just for your information.

Well-told stories, however fantastical the circumstances, if written with believable characters, become part of our alternate realities.

I love a story chock full of symbolism, but never make any literary device (or gimmick) more important than the story itself. It’s either about the characters or plot, or, ideally, both.

When you have daily deadlines, and you can’t let your piece marinate, read it aloud.

Take advantage of dead time (e.g., waiting for the doctor). I wrote an entire blog post on my phone during such a time.

“How To” articles are great for work, but “How to Not” is great for play.

Read Margaret Atwood’s essay, “Reading Blind.” Just as we should mostly (depending on the format) write in the active voice, we should develop the habit of active listening, for that is one of the requirements of mastering the art of conversation. I have always learned more by listening than I ever have by speaking (and embarrassed myself less).

Sometimes, you must finish existing projects before starting more, but don’t hesitate to outline future projects, so you can rest your mind about shelving them temporarily.

In every character, there is a story. In every perception of that character, there are at least ten more.

Pages out of history can be the skeleton for your story, but it must be fleshed out with characters. It’s all the difference between hard news and human interest.

Keep everything you write. I was able to use certain lines from an old essay outline to write a poem on short notice for a contest.

A New Way to Blog

I created Sarah Lea Stories in October 2013, and 1200+ posts later, I’ve decided not to publish any more long-form posts on it. Since homeschooling (where I create A LOT of the curriculum to accommodate my daughter’s special needs), having a baby, and deciding to return to university this fall, I no longer have the time to write lengthy posts for free. That time is better spent on writing short stories for paying publications. I now consider my Instagram account (where posts can be much shorter) my new blog. I like that Instagram is free and beautifully formatted, and I can spend far less time creating content for it. Blogging all this time has helped with that—not just with “canned” posts but with writing practice.

I’m also tired of being in front of a screen. Now that I have an editing career that requires me to always be in front of a screen, I need more time away from the glow of the computer monitor.

However, I’ll still be posting my groups of “Post-It poems” on Mondays, my Fiction Friday pieces (which I will eventually format into a novel in verse), and my “Positively Marvelous” things on Saturday.

If you wish to follow me on Instagram (I don’t promise to follow back, but if you’re truly interested in my content), here is the link: https://www.instagram.com/sarahleastories/

Micropoetry Monday: Intimate Portraits of Unnamed Women

Reflections, Saint Patrick's Day

Her life,
that last semester,
was spent in a sleepless blur.
Like a shimmer above hot asphalt
was the filter through which she saw
the endlessness of her life as it was—
as if God Himself had slowed down time
to make it last,
fortifying her to make her last.
She relished the days,
having passed the exhaustion stage,
by knowing that if she could do this much
for so long,
she could do almost as much
for the rest of her life.

She was 30 when she began her teaching ministry—
of life after infertility & divorce with
18 undocumented years “about her mother’s business”—
finding herself resurrected through the youthful hope
of her student disciples.

She was a woman of 20-dollar dresses
& 5-dollar lipstick,
who loved fried chicken & cheap wine.
She checked out novels & rented movies,
her ideal date night a shared pizza
& fresh breath.
Her favorite painter was Norman Rockwell,
her favorite book, Confessions of a Chocoholic.
She was more fiddle than violin,
more Encyclopedia Brown than Murphy Brown.
To her, any meat below well done
was positively revolting—
no matter what the TV chefs said.
(They ate bull balls, after all, so
though they had the latter,
they were still full of the former.)
She didn’t need a big house—
just a bit enough house.
Even if she won the jack of all pots,
she would still come stamped
with a certificate of authenticity.

Letter to my daughter

My epistolary poem, “Miss Amelia Skye” (“Dear Amelia”) was just published in Bella Grace magazine. Amy Krause Rosenthal’s book, Dear Girl, was the inspiration behind the format. I have since created a Mixbook of this poem for my daughter (who will be turning 5 months in a few days); this book will go into a time capsule for her to open at the stroke of midnight in the year 2042 (which will make her 21, if my math is correct). 🙂

Follow me on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/sarahleastories/

Micropoetry Monday: The Writer’s Life

Writer's Life

The Shutterfly Edition

He was pulp fiction with expletives & explosions,
she, Harlequin Christian romance
with exaltation & exclamations of everlasting love.
They gave their fans what they wanted,
& though their work only endured
till the next author came around,
they made a good side income
freelancing for the local newspaper—
he, covering the grit & gristle of hard news,
& she, the cream & fluff of soft news.

When Comma sailed on a scholarship to Oxford College—
in nothing but a pinafore & saddle shoes—
having unearthed her earthly purpose at Harvard,
she discovered her divine purpose through her thesis on clarity,
& thus became
the Oxford Comma.

They Couldn’t Take it With Them

When Miss Grammarly & Miss Writerly—
2 spinsters who unraveled yarns
& whose punctuation rained
on a mathematician’s parade
like music notes in a sour serenade—
passed on to that great Writing Lab in the sky,
they found that their favorite mark,
the non-committal Semicolon,
had not made it past the mother-of-pearly gates,
for when S.C. had reached the end
of its life sentence,
it hadn’t known whether to pause
or stop altogether,
& so it chose to continue
to haunt English majors
& thus remain,
the bane
of their earthly existence.