#Micropoetry Monday: Strong Women

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Mrs. Richardson lived a life of sticky notes,
monthly planners, & endless to-do lists,
& was often bombarded with emails & texts
for the times she couldn’t be there
or they couldn’t be there.
She spent too much time
trying to coordinate
a fraction of time
that didn’t conflict with jobs or classes
or anything else.
So she looked forward to the incredible luxury
of a career that wouldn’t follow her home,
but could,
nevertheless,
buy her one.

Marnie Owens spent her days
slaying needless words,
knocking out commas,
& stopping run-on sentences
in their muddy tracks.
She even killed
a story or two sometimes.
Her evenings were spent
moonlighting
as a Math Lab supervisor,
yet she didn’t know
a differential equation from
a non-differential equation
& thought of cube roots
as the 3-D version
of the square root.
She was no Charlie’s Angel,
but she managed to work
on a novel in her free time
& make it home in time
to read her little girl a bedtime story,
for such was all in day’s work.

Melody Doremi was a fashion dessert plate,
every piece she wore making a statement.
For some,
the message was a little too hot,
for others,
a little too cold;
for others still,
it was total umami.
Weary of the coverage,
she ditched her clothes altogether,
only to realize there was no longer
a way
to cover up the tattoos that said it all.

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #468: Note

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Taking Dictation

She had spent her middle school years passing notes
on wide-ruled paper with the fringe that came
from being ripped out of a Lisa Frank notebook,
her girlish cursive in shades of pink
that she liked to call her invisible ink–
strategically chosen to impair
Mrs. Sikeston with her 20/100 vision.

There were the notes she took in high school
on unlined, “open-ended” printer paper–
filled from corner to corner
with concrete poetry and spirograph designs
that she wheat-pasted to the walls of her room.

There were the notes she left for her mom on the kitchen counter
where she would see them,
letting her know where she was and with whom.

There were the notes she wrote in everyone’s yearbook
that year of 1999 at William J. Woodham High School,
telling them that if they ever came across the name
of Lauranne Huntington,
they would know that she had made it as an author,
for she believed that Lauranne–
not Laura–
was destined for literary greatness.

There were the notes she took in college–
of biology and anthropology,
and every other -ology–
her streams of consciousness sometimes
drowning out the drone of the professors
who taught in the physical and biological sciences department.

There were the notes she took when she
interviewed faculty and students
and covered events for the college newspaper,
with bold circles wherever there was a
Who, What, Where, When, Why, How,
for every question had to start with one of these.

There were the Post-It notes she left all over the house
when she was practicing her Spanish,
the magnetized letters on the refrigerator that spelled “Want Sex”
(which was more of a warning than anything).

The pink had deepened into red by then,
even as she had deepened into whom was meant to become;
just as her haikus–
once so abstract and emo–
had deepened into the personal narratives
that were as concrete and real as she was.

There were the rejection slips
that she tacked over the old poetry
in her childhood room
where the walls and furniture were as white
as the curtains and bedspread were pink–
this place where she would still come to write
while her mom and dad watched her girls.
The notes she took at the monthly board meetings
helped her learn to listen while writing–
to listen more and better.

The notes she took to remind herself how to do something
helped the next person not have to learn the hard way,
for every position she left,
she left behind an account of everything that she had learned
and everything that she knew they would need to know.

The notes her daughters brought home from school
let her know the things she should notice
but didn’t always have the time to;
and then there were the notes she took,
reminding herself to take the time to notice.

There were the notes she wrote in the Christmas cards
she made out of scrapbooking scraps and brown paper bags.
The messages in the numerous thank you notes she wrote–
both on the job and off–
they were all her handwriting and her handiwork.

She never became Lauranne Huntington,
but rather the Laura Hunt
that people felt they knew–
the Laura Hunt they wanted to know.

But the notes that truly captured the essence of who Laura Sawyer (nee Hunt)
were not these,
but were the music notes that the man she loved placed together
in memory of her.

https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-468

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #467: Expectation

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A Twentysomething’s Expectations, a Thirtysomething’s Reality

She’d thought she’d be married by 22;
she married at 31,
when a baby made her much more willing to take that leap.

She’d thought she’d have at least 3 kids;
she has one (so far),
sweeter than she could’ve ever imagined.

She’d thought she would’ve published her book by now;
only her short pieces have been published (and by other people),
which was even better.

She’d thought she would’ve finished school long before;
she is only a third of the way there because she liked it so much,
she wants to learn more.

She thought she would’ve been working as an editor by now,
but rather, she is writing and doing things she doesn’t know how to do
and is still learning to do.

Her expectations hadn’t been greater than her reality,
for what was real and not imagined
was better than any dream.

https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-467

 

The Ten O’Clock Scholar

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She was Sarah Lea Richards,
the wife of Brian,
the mom of Hannah,
the daughter of Phil & Betty–
an accidental scholar,
a poet who read novels,
a poet who wrote short stories.

She was the blogger,
the humorist,
the bookmaker,
the pink-collar worker
in crimped hair & red lipstick–
a hot mess sometimes,
but never a cold dish.

She was a punster
who loved the Oxford comma,
the em dash,
& sometimes semicolons;
she was a wordsmith
who hated adverbs &
needless words,
but loved words like topsy-turvy &
helter-skelter–
just because they made her smile.

She was a mathematician when she had to be,
who, if ever in Rome,
would write in Roman numerals.
She was a poor person’s philosopher,
an even poorer person’s astronomer,
& the kind of statistician one would get
if they were being served by a public defender.

She was one of Jamey’s angels
who had yet to earn her wings.
She was the newspaper jefe,
whose sense of humor
sometimes rankled her adviser.

She was the Writing Lab tutor,
who knew that subjects & verbs
had disagreements,
but what about?
She was the boomerang child of Building 4,
the work-study gal
who made good.

She was a reliable narrator only
when on the beat,
but in the realm of fiction,
she was as unreliable as they came.

She was the family historian & documentarian,
for as everyone was the hero of their own story,
they were characters in hers.

She read people like books,
judging them not by their cover,
but by their content.

She was a woman of liberal arts &
conservative values.

She was a Health Info Tech major,
who saw it as a means to an end–
an end which would come in words,
rather than the alphanumerics
that comprised medical codes.

But such an endeavor,
so against her sense & sensibilities,
had not all been a waste,
for it had led her to here,
which would get her there–
even if there was still here.

The Year in Review: 2018

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Twenty-eighteen was the best of years and the worst of years.

This year was my first Christmas without my mom.  I think of all the conversations that we never had about all the good things that were happening in my life, all the stories of mine she had yet to read, all the books and meals and time with Hannah we had yet to share, all the Christmas shows we had yet to binge-watch together (like the “Bob’s Jelly Doughnut” episode of “Wings”)…

But I know she was there–I just wish I could see her being there.

*

This December, I graduated with my A.A. and my A.S. and got a full-time job I enjoy at the college just before graduation–a job where my creativity is not only appreciated but encouraged.

The A.A. was what I wanted, the A.S., what I felt I was supposed to want.  I will go for my Bachelor’s in Business (with a concentration in Graphic Design) in the fall at the college that has been like my second home (as well as my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing at The University of West Florida when I can swing it).

It was my work on The Corsair designing recruitment ads, as well as making Shutterfly books for Christmas gifts, that led me to seeking a degree in the graphic arts.  (Besides, I can also use whatever I learn to make this blog better.)

My “passion for the college” was what got me the job (my supervisor actually said I had this thing called a “skill set”–something no one has ever said to me before), and it did not go unnoticed by me when I went in for my first day of work and saw a few or more copies of the newspaper scattered, opened to my farewell letter: http://ecorsair.com/letter-from-the-editor-in-chief/

How easy it is to have passion for something that has given me so much:  friendships, scholarships, a quality education, and numerous opportunities to become a better writer (and not always with a grade attached).

I put everything I have into everything I do.  There’s a quote by Mark Cuban I came across once–“Work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a day to take it all away from you”–and maybe that’s why I am the way I am.  I almost lost nearly everything or had it taken away, and the thought of that happening again terrifies me so much, I am hyper-vigilant about being the absolute best at everything I do (except for maybe astronomy or statistics), but it’s also more than that:  I care.

I don’t half-ass things (though the amateur lexicographer in me wonders if the opposite would be “whole-ass”?).  I don’t even read my own work once it’s been published–I just sort of glance over it, afraid I will find a mistake, only to obsess over it. 

*

On Christmas Eve, my husband and I accepted an invitation to a church where we could have a fresh start. There was a woman pastor–something that used to seem strange to me, but not anymore.

That is not a change in values but in perception.

*

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions (I prefer to look back and note my accomplishments); however, I’m always making To-Do Lists (as well as goal lists, be they weekly, monthly, or lifetime) because if I didn’t, I’d simply forget it all.

Because this year has been crazy, and I’ve been spending so much time finishing college while applying for jobs and trying to make a living, I haven’t been taking care of myself or spending as much time with my family as I should.  I’ve still done a lot of writing, but more for this blog and the newspaper than submitting to magazines.

It’s time to read more, sleep more, and even play more (like with dumbbells, if not barbells).  Managing my stress is going to be a large part of my New Year’s health goals, for once I do that, my mind will be clearer to focus on other areas of wellness.  

I drained my batteries dry this past year but was able to sally forth because the light at the end of the tunnel just kept getting bigger.  I feel like I have passed through to the other side, only to find that there are more tunnels.  My community college experience opened those doors; that’s why I never saw them before.

But for now, I am content to just stand in the light.

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Writing prompt:  The art of the autobio

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I haven’t posted a writing prompt in quite some time, and as I was going through all my old Facebook page posts to schedule this summer’s Weekly Writing Workshops, I remembered I wrote this autobiography in verse form a couple of years ago while I was taking our local Poet Laureate’s Poetry class at my alma mater.

Let me just say a few things about that class:  It helped me explore different ways of poeming (I fell in love with the pantoum), which was like discovering a whole new palette of colors.  I also learned that you really get to know people not just by reading their poetry, but by listening to them read it; they will reveal more about themselves in one poem than they will in a whole semester of conversations.  What’s more, taking a college level poetry course deepened my appreciation for works not my own.

This writing prompt is on making an “autobio list” (i.e. a list poem about you), which is a great form of freewriting, for you will find that as you recall one memory, another will be jarred loose, and memories will be tumbling over each other so fast, you will be scrabbling to get them down before they fall through the wrinkles of your brain.

“Slow-Speaking Lady” was originally going to be a Shutterfly book, but really, it was more of a writing exercise, modeled after Anne Waldman’s Fast Speaking Woman–one of the required texts in my poetry class.  Anne’s “break” stanza (i.e. the centered stanzas that break up the litanies) was “water that cleans/waters that run/flowers that clean as I go.” Do I get it? No, and I probably never will, but I am learning to appreciate things I don’t understand.  I already like that “Dominique” song by that French nun, and I don’t understand a word of it–I just like the way it sounds.

Without Waldman’s influence, I would’ve never written something like this, so she helped me think not so much out of the box, but to step out of the box completely.

That said, this is the kind of poetry that is better read aloud, as it is more like a chant.  It wasn’t until I watched Anne’s performance of her piece that I got more out of Fast Speaking Woman.  “Slow-Speaking Lady” would make a great YouTube video, but I’m not ready to put myself out there like that just yet.

So this prompt is to just write down everything that you are and categorize accordingly.  I guarantee that if you write one of these every seven years, they will be very different.  

Free your mind!

Slow-Speaking Lady

I’m a diamond lady, but a flawed lady.
I’m a ruby lady, a ruby-slippered lady.
I’m a sapphire sea lady, an emerald coast lady.
I’m a pearl with cameos lady, a blue moon lady.
I’m a rose gold lady, a silver lady, but not a gold-&-silver lady.
I’m non-pierced, non-tattooed lady.
I’m a soft-hearted lady, but not a bleeding-heart lady.
I’m a hard-headed lady, but not a soft-boiled lady.
I’m a red shoe lady, a flip-flop & bikini top lady.
I’m a glossy red-lipsticked lady, a freckled-face lady.
I’m a barefaced & barelegged lady.
I’m a brunette in a redheaded body kind of lady.
I’m a lady on a mission, but not a missionary lady.
I’m a spiritual lady, but not a churchgoing lady.
I’m a lady with many questions, a lady who questions God.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a wifely lady, a motherly lady.
I’m a wannabe breast-feeding lady.
I’m a lady with a seedy Mormon past, a fruitful post-Mormon present lady.
I’m a minimalist lady, a mindfulness lady.
I’m a retro lady, a vintage lady, a modern lady.
I’m a board game lady, a head games lady.
I’m a gift-bag giving lady, a wrapping-paper receiving lady.
I’m a porcelain doll, but unbreakable.
I’m a gift card lady, not a greeting card lady.
I’m a French twist-braid-pastry lady.
I’m a cooking with electric lady, not a cooking with gas lady.
I’m a nut-loving, dark chocolate noshing lady.
I’m a truffle-making lady, not a Christmas cookie baking lady.
I’m a lady of many tastes, a lady of good taste.
I’m a Southern lady, a lady who loves everything fried.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a Scots-Irish lady, a Black Irish lady, a Northern Irish lady.
I’m a white lady, but not a colorless lady.
I’m a fast-typing lady, a slow-writing lady.
I’m an introverted lady in person, an extroverted lady on paper.
I’m a left-brained lady, a right-brained lady.
I’m a right-handed lady trying to be a left-handed lady.
I’m a typesetting, if not a trendsetting lady.
I’m a lady with a past, a lady with a future.
I’m an in-the-moment lady, a lady who daydreams.
I’m a have-it-all lady, not a do-it-all lady.
I’m an event lady, not a party lady.
I’m a creative mess lady, a clutter-free lady.
I’m a modest lady, a wandering eye lady.
I’m a fallen lady, a lady who’s been lifted.
I’m a cameo lady, a lady with the face of a cameo.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a clothes lady, I’m a naked lady.
I’m a cold-natured lady with bare shoulders, a hot-natured lady with a sweater.
I’m a satin-edge blanket lady, a cotton sheet lady, a matching pillowcase lady.
I’m a paisley pattern on my bed, not on my person lady.
I’m a controlled water lady, not an uncontrolled water lady.
I’m a mechanically-disinclined lady, an artistically-inclined lady.
I’m an acoustic guitar lady, a folk-song loving lady.
I’m a country music loving lady, a lady who doesn’t say y’all.
I’m a printed book reading lady, an online research scanning lady.
I’m an Instagramming lady, a telegramming lady.
I’m a grammarian lady, a Shakespeare-making-up-words lady.
I’m a dictionary lady, a thesaurus lady.
I’m a bleeding through the page, gel pen lady.
I’m a serious in-person lady, a comedienne on paper lady.
I’m a lady who takes her work seriously,
but a lady who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a beignets on Christmas morning lady.
I’m a cake lady, a frosting-hating lady.
I’m an al fresco dining lady, a “Wheel of Fortune” watching lady.
I’m a picnicking in the park, a barbecuing on the beach lady.
I’m a mixed drink lady, a mix-&-match lady.
I’m a plaid lady, a polka-dotted lady.
I’m a thigh-high, not a waist-high lady.
I’m an open-question lady, with a mind at half-mast.
I’m a conservative lady mind-wise, a liberal lady heart-wise.
I’m a Bible-reading out loud lady, a praying to myself lady.
I’m a Christian-y arts lady, an artsy Christian lady.
I’m a play-by-the-rules in life lady, a breaking the rules in print lady.
I’m a spiritual lady, not a religious lady.
I’m a Jesus-loving, God-fearing lady.
I’m a lady with issues, a lady with values.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a twilight lady, a lavender & periwinkle lady.
I’m a nurturing lady, a nature-loving lady.
I’m a day-outdoors lady, a night-indoors lady.
I’m a slow-running lady, a fast-walking lady.
I’m a firefly lady, a lightning bug lady, a barefoot lady.
I’m a fire lady, an ice lady, a sun lady, a moon lady.
I’m a rising lady, I’m a setting lady.
I’m the lady in red
I’m a champagne-drunk lady, a soda-sober lady.
I’m a couponing lady, an extravagant lady.
I’m a soft fabric lady, a durable goods lady.
I’m a button-loving lady, a zipper-hating lady.
I’m a twenty-seven-toothed lady.
I’m a long-haired lady, a shaved lady.
I’m a glass lady, a clay lady, a wooden lady, a woman of steel.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a Roman numeral clock type of lady.
I’m a shabby chic lady, a distressed lady.
I’m a candle-burning, lamp lighting lady.
I’m a letter-writing lady, a cursive-writing lady.
I’m a film noir lady, a Technicolor lady.
I’m a memory-making, memory recording lady.
I’m an Arial lady, never a Times New Roman lady.
I’m a nostalgic lady—for times gone by, for times that never were.
I’m a lady who loves Comic Sans for children’s books.
I’m a children’s poetry lady, an adult-story lady.
I’m a fighting-with-words the other doesn’t know lady.
I’m a deconstructed lady, a reconstructed lady.
I’m a compassionate lady, a passionate lady.
I’m an enchanting lady, a disenchanted lady.
I’m a lady inside one man’s head.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m an introverted lady.
I’m a type A lady, a type B lady.
I’m a wandering lady, a stay-at-home lady.
I’m a fast-eating, slow-food lady.
I’m a fact-finding lady, a making-it-up-as-I-go lady.
I’m a breakfast for dinner lady, a dinner for breakfast lady.
I’m a bread & butter lady, a toast & jam lady.
I’m a lady who doesn’t procrastinate.
I’m a crayon lady, not a colored pencil lady.
I’m a get-it-done-before-I-forget lady.
I’m a day-dreaming lady, a night-fantasizing lady.
I’m a bra-hating lady.
I’m plain lady, a fancy lady.
I’m a black lace lady, a pink satin lady.
I’m a crafty lady, but not a lady of the craft.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck,
on myself.

I’m a bargain hunting lady, a seashell gathering lady.
I’m a winter clothes loving lady, a summer weather loving lady.
I’m a less is more lady, a more is more lady.
I’m an upcyling, if not a recycling lady.
I’m a primetime watching lady, not a daytime watching lady.
I’m a no-sew, no-bake lady.
I’m an ABBA lady, a Tom T. Hall lady.
I’m a Lady Stetson.
I’m a watermelon-scented loving lady, a watermelon-hating lady.
I’m a baking soda bath lady.
I’m a hair-drying hating, sundried loving lady.
I’m a crimped hair lady, a foam curler lady.
I’m a beach-here lady, a mountains-there lady.
I’m a Shakespeare appreciation lady, but not a Shakespeare-loving lady.
I’m a lady who loves to live, but not live to record.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a Scrabble lady, not a Sudoku lady.
I’m a levity lady, not a gravity lady.
I’m a rhyming for kids lady, a non-rhyming for adults lady.
I’m a vegetable lady, not a fruit lady.
I’m an any flavor potato lady, but not a sweet potato lady.
I’m a browsing in the bookstore lady, not a Kindle scrolling lady.
I’m a self-help lady.
I’m a Capri-loving lady who doesn’t wear Capris.
I’m a sock eschewing lady.
I’m a timeless lady, an untimely lady.
I’m a plain paper lady, not a coloring book lady.
I’m a dollhouse lady, a paper doll lady.
I’m a wood burning, rather than a woodworking lady.
I’m a character-driven lady, not a plot-driven lady.
I’m a lady who prefers summer days over holidays.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a thirtysomething lady, feeling a twentysomething girly.
I’m an “I Love Lucy” lady.
I’m a fried chicken on Wedgwood blue china lady.
I’m a windchimes lady, a lullaby-loving lady.
I’m an interviewing lady, no a “woman on the street” lady.
I’m a human-interest lady, not a hard news lady.
I’m a Princess Kate, Grace Kelly, Melania Trump, & Jackie Kennedy fashion lady.
I’m a poet, I’m a poetess, whatever gets me noticed.
I’m a just-so story lady, a shaggy God story lady.
I’m a glossy paper lady, a ripped edge lady.
I’m a dust-jacket removing lady.
I’m a been-there, let’s-do-it-again lady.
I’m a get-in-my-zone lady, a stepping outside my comfort zone lady.
I’m a lady with a double life—a life outside the pages, a life inside.
I’m a lady who loves, a lady in love.

I am, in all my forms, a lady.

Book Review: What Alice Forgot

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On the surface, this was a breezy, light-hearted romp about a woman who loses the last 10 years of her life via amnesia.

However, once I read past the first few chapters, I realized that it had more depth, though I found myself wanting more out of this book than it wanted to give.

The book’s overall message (to me) was that kids and shared memories are enough to hold a marriage together, even when both parties don’t change anything about themselves, but rather, just accept that such is married life. (And that sleeping with other people while separated is acceptable.  Why are you dating anyone when you’re just starting to get over a relationship, when you’re not even divorced yet?  What is wrong with being single for a while and getting your life back in order first?)

The premise reminded me of my own life, and how different I am at 37 than I was at 27–before marriage and a child–and how horrified I know I would feel to wake up at not only being married to a stranger, but a mother to a little one.

When I was in my twenties, I was rather la-di-da, but once I became a wife and mother in my thirties, it was as if I’d been under a spell that had finally broken.  It was as if something in me had snapped, and I realized I needed to get serious about my life.  My 27-year-old self wouldn’t recognize my 37-year-old self (though I think she would very much approve). 

Eerily, Alice’s progression very nearly mirrored mine.

I thought the mysterious Gina (or rather, the idea of her was more fascinating as she got so little screen time) could’ve been developed so much more, as she had such an influence on Alice.  However, I abolutely hated the parts told from Frannie’s point-of-view; her story (told through letters to her dead fiance) about her new boyfriend was boring as hell and added absolutely nothing.

The relationships Alice had with her husband and boyfriend did not interest me, as those men were crashing bores–bland, bland, bland.

Though I enjoyed Elizabeth’s story (told via letter to the even more mysterious “Dr. Hodges”), I didn’t like that her whole existence was dependent upon someone else’s.  If things hadn’t (magically) worked out in her favor, she would’ve never been able to get it together.

The ending, set 10 or so years into the future, was a nice touch, but rather unsatisfying, as there wasn’t a good case for it to end the way it did.  I felt like the book ended up being more of a “love conquers all” story than a self-love story of how a woman took an unexpected vacation from herself to become her best self.  

Overall, Moriarty gets a B-.  She did a great job characterizing the kids and some of the more minor characters.  I absolutely loved the idea about the giant lemon meringue pie made using construction equipment.

“Alice” just could’ve used a bit more editing and tighter writing.