Poem-a-Day 2017 Writer’s Digest Challenge #22. Theme: Fable

This was a piece to a longer poem (“Strolling Across Campus on a Monday Afternoon”), which is known as a “walking poem.”  My poetry professor had our class go outside and just record our observations in our journal.  We had to choose a line from Anne Waldman’s “Fast Speaking Woman” at random (the equivalent of flipping through a telephone book and blindly putting our finger on a name), and implement it (though I did not include it today).

Since it is Earth Day, I thought this would be perfect, because in Mormon mythology/doctrine (depending on your perspective), they believe in a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother, which makes sense, as in Genesis 1:26, it reads:  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

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Our Heavenly Lineage

The sun is like Mother Nature kissing me,
the breeze,
the brushing of her hair as she does so,
blessing me.

I think of the blue God,
the green Goddess,
coexisting—
our ecological parents—
for are not humans merely water and earth,
fused with a touch of the Divine?

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2017-april-pad-challenge-day-22

Poem-a-Day 2017 Writer’s Digest Challenge #13. Theme: Family

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Family, Defined

“…no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
–David O. McKay, the Ninth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

For the Mormons,
it was the path to salvation.

For the Christians,
it was till death.

For those without,
it was friends.

For those with bad ones,
it was never again.

For those with good ones,
it was often history, repeated.

For me,
it was all of these things
and none of these things.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2017-april-pad-challenge-day-13

Poem-a-Day 2017 Writer’s Digest Challenge #1. Theme: Reminiscing

This “personal geography” poem was originally named, “Life, in Five Acts” (like a Shakespearean play).

The stanzas below were merely abstract introductions to much longer stanzas of a seven-page, narrative poem.

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Timeline

Spain: 1987
I lost half a sense,
which may have saved all the rest.

Saved: 1996
I lived with myself,
and knew not who I was.

Montana: 2003
I was Molly Mormon,
looking for Peter Priesthood.

Utah: 2004
I lost my faith,
but reclaimed my creativity.

Brian: 2013
And so a woman must leave her family
to create one of her own.

Hannah: 2013
I led her to milk,
but she would not drink.

College: 2014
I feared our future,
so I changed my present.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2017-april-pad-challenge-day-1

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

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Because Patrick was not,
David was,
& because I loved what David was,
I wondered if that made me a murderer
in my heart.

I was the result not of 2 people
who fell in love in passionate spontaneity,
but of 2 who were foreordained
to “take one another to spouse.”

When my father had passed away,
Mother’s faith had passed away,
& I had been brought up to go my own way.

I saw Elder Johnson as a brother,
Elder Roberts as a beloved–
as spoken in the Song of Solomon–
but the Sisters as anything but.

She had the body of a retired ballerina,
a toothpaste-commercial smile,
& an All-American youthfulness
that made her competition for me.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

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The distinguished-looking man sat with the woman who would pull the thread that would help me come apart at the seams through an unholy act.

Sister Wiley wore a mask of syrupy sweetness, but the mask didn’t cover her eyes that emitted a cold, calculating glare.

Glancing in Sister Wiley’s direction I saw, as she looked at Mother, something that resembled fear, for Mother’s new faith overshone her old one.

Like the kapps Mennonite women wore, both sexes wore sacred garments under their clothes, where only God could see them.

Mother had never had any use for girlfriends before, & I wondered why she had let Sister Wiley choose to be hers.

I saw something in Elder Roberts then that I often saw in David: tolerance; but it would fail him when I needed it most.

Sister Wiley watched us from across the room, plucking a prune from a pewter platter & taking a bite, smiling that Mona Lisa smile.

David wanted me to go to University, but the Relief Society (or, as Caitlin said, the Sisterhood of the Raveling Dresses) had me rethinking such an endeavor.

The day our Little Miss stopped being a drama princess was the day we would know her personality had finally split.

I’d never seen our secular, nuclear family as isolated, but rather insulated from the world. The Mormons made me see that we were the world.

A Time to Share: Reflections on one stop of my writing journey

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Being a guest blogger for https://getconnectdad.com/ has been a wonderful experience.  I was intrigued by the “52 Traits” we want to instill in our children; writing about them in poetic form has helped me explore such abstracts on a deeper level:  https://sarahleastories.com/get-connected-dad-my-contributions/

I’m a natural born storyteller, and I’ve found that my poems tend to be narratives with strategically-placed line breaks.  With the exception of children’s nursery rhymes, I find myself veering away from rhyme.  I like to say “metaphor is the new rhyme.”

I’ve finally become comfortable sharing my poetry in front of an audience.  My life motto has become “Aw, what the hell?”  I’ve always regretted the times I could’ve read and didn’t, but never the times I did, even if it didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked.

For example, one of my English professors told our class that my short story, “The Punch Drunk Potluck” (about what happens when a prospective member of the Church spikes the punch and brings pot brownies) was supposed to be humorous.  I was thinking, Oh, my god, don’t tell them that.  If they don’t laugh, I’ll be so embarrassed.

Even though “Punch” won first place in the college’s annual literary contest, they didn’t laugh.  That said, I was a bit uncomfortable (I’m sure I was breaking out in hives) during the reading (it was, after all, a super silly story), but I did it, and afterwards, a few people came up to me and told me how great it was.  (People may not always laugh, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t think it was funny; I don’t laugh at every joke I hear on “Cheers”).  One even asked for a copy.

The girl who asked for a copy used to be a member of the FLDS Church (her father had four wives), and so she understood all the nuances of my piece.  I’ve found that of all the different kinds of writing I do, I enjoy writing my humor pieces the most.  Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a funny gal (more just witty), I keep in mind that Lucille Ball was very serious in real life.

Out of the nine readers at the poetry reading at my college, I was the only one who read anything humorous  (“Hanging from the Family Tree”).  I like to say “a little subtlety and a little levity goes a long way.”  When offered the chance to read again, I read a serious poem (one I would describe as “hauntingly beautiful”), but everyone loved the first.  My inspiration for that one?  My family:  The gift that keeps on regifting.  (I was even asked to perform an encore the next day at the office.)

I’d worn my white snood; I decided that would be my schtick.  (When I used to color my hair red, I thought “The Lady in Red” had a nice ring to it; I would wear all red, down to my shoes.)  Since I had to stop coloring my hair when I was expecting (only to find I had gray hairs), I had to ditch that notion, at least during my child-bearing years.  (And have you ever tried finding red shoes?  Especially in a size 10?)

That night of the reading (taking a piece of advice one of the other students in my poetry class gave), I opened with a joke I’d overheard in the English department:

Q:  What does the Secret Service shout when they see a bullet coming towards the President?

A:  Donald!  Duck!

That icebreaker helped dispel almost all my self-consciousness.

My advice:  Don’t overthink it.  Just go for it.

 

 

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

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The elder missionaries were priests;
I was a nun.
We could not touch but through words,
& I felt the trajectory of our family shift,
splintering.

When I was a girl,
I saw Mother marrying David
as keeping him close to me.
When I became a woman,
I saw it as taking him away.

Just as they believed one could be baptized by proxy,
I wondered if, in my own way,
I wanted to marry David, with Mother as my proxy.

For love,
for Mother,
David would love the Church.
For love,
for Elder Roberts,
I would do the same.

He knew himself,
but I, to myself,
was a stranger.