Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #490: Comics Character

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Comic strips are the most conservative medium–virtually unchanged from the 1920’s— Scott Dikkers, founder of The Onion, January 24, 2019

Children of the Corny

There were Saturday morning Looney Tunes
& Sunday color comic strips–
where you could be blown up in one scene
& put back together the next,
where Blondie never aged,
Beetle never wised up,
& Dolly, Billy, Jeffy, & P.J. remained children forever.
She traveled from The Twilight Zone
to The Far Side,
living in an alternate reality
where the spaciest (both outer & inner) scenarios
made perfect sense.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 490

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What I am Living For: A Fourth of July Message

Postage Stamp Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/personalized-postage-stamp

A few weeks or so ago, I was so inspired by a piece I read on The Saturday Evening Post (https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2019/06/what-i-am-fighting-for-my-home-and-yours/) that I was inspired to write my own version of it. I simply changed “I’m” to “I am” and “fighting” to “living”; I, however, kept the last line.

I guess you could say my version is the homefront one.

In the wee hours of the morning, while everyone else was in bed, I was writing this and realized that it would be a good Fourth of July piece. Mine, of course, is not as eloquent as Sgt. Pappas’s, for I’m not a warrior but simply, a writer.

I am living for that big enough house with the wide front porch and Adirondack chairs facing the white picket fence–the house I live in after being touched by homelessness. I am living for the breathtakingly beautiful beaches that I seldom see and the shady, grassy parks with the rusting playground equipment where kids still play and the towns where I planted memories and the town where I’ve replanted myself. I am living for my daughter–the special one with the incredible memory who understands so much more than she may ever let on. I am living for her children and for those who will look out for her when I am no longer here–those people who may never touch my life but who will touch hers and she, theirs. I am living for the husband who is who he is and who takes care of things while I am away and the things I don’t like when I am there.

I am living for those churches that still exist, not to just be good but to do good–both the traditional and the non-traditional–these churches that I don’t attend but am glad to know are there. I am living for the schools that have not become factories, the college I graduated from with the creamy white magnolias that perfume the air and the loquat trees with the fruit that rots in the lower Alabamian summer, the university with its painted benches and the abundance of Spanish moss, the home with the bunny dollhouse and the never ending stack of children’s library books and the freezer full of novelty ice cream, the television where we watch “Wheel of Fortune” that has been part of my childhood and part of my adulthood, the computer where I can pound the keys instead of the pavement, and the Monopoly game under the coffee table I use to teach my daughter about taking turns when all she wants to do is try to fit the cat into the thimble and the dog into the shoe.

I am living for the house I have now and the house I will have, my town and any other place that may become home, be it for a day or till death separates me from it. I am living for the chance to travel to Iceland and Australia and wherever else English is spoken because that language bespeaks of home. I am living for the country we have now–this land that so many still want to come to.

I am living for the America that will prevail no matter who is in office.

I am living for the right of Americans to separate the powers of the news media from their minds and make up their own, to live the lives they want–not for their children but for themselves, to work the jobs they need to so that someday, they can work the jobs they want.

I am living for the right of Americans to be left alone.

I am living for the freedom we have to eat, drink, and wear whatever we want, to worship or not to worship, to enjoy that freedom we had before and after 9/11. I am living for my faith in an unfair God–unfair because He freely gives us what we could never hope to earn–a life of second and third and seventy times seven chances. I am living for the continuous and fruitless pursuit of the balance between freedom and equality, and for my belief that even when things happen for a bad reason, we can find meaning in what happens and make something good come of it.

We cannot lose.

Mrs. Sarah Richards, “What I am Living For,” July 4, 2019

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #484: Summer

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Summer is Longer Here

She is the interlude who dances between the equinoxes,
her breath hot,
humid,
floral.
She is the intermission between grades–
not an interruption of education
but a continuance of all that is learned
beyond the glossy walls covered with old tape and dirty fingerprints,
of thin carpet pebbled with dried glue and freckled with chalkboard dust–
all of which make up the little factories that teach every child
like he or she was the same child.
She is the time for sleeping till not sleepy,
of standing in the rain without catching a cold,
and making messes outside that don’t have to be cleaned up.
She is the time for playing in the sun and sitting in the shade,
of lemon icebox pie on little saucers
and raspberry mint lemonade in tall glasses,
with more ice cubes than ade.
Then it is time to grow up,
and life is no longer measured in spring breaks
or summer vacations,
passing grades
or failing semesters.
Times such as summers gone by no longer come in huge swaths
but in moments strung together.
These former children find themselves wishing
they had enjoyed those summers even more,
but they did not know what they could not see
and now,
those moments stolen from themselves are spent
making their children’s summers everything they will remember
and one day long for.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 485

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #481: Writer

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Ann M. Martin

Her books were a beloved part of my girlhood.
I remember she loved “I Love Lucy”
& looked like a schoolteacher–
that is, if Ellie Walker from “The Andy Griffith Show”
had taken Helen Crump’s place
before “Helen the Grump” had been written into existence.
I remember thinking her middle name just had to be Marie
because it fit her “That Girl” appearance.
I remember thinking that it must be the greatest job in the world
for one’s books to be adored by little girls all around the world.
I remember thinking of myself as an honorary Baby-Sitters Club member–
the one you never read about but existed nevertheless–
for I wasn’t shy around these girls.  
As I read her bio now,
I learn that she taught autistic children (I teach my own),
that she loved Roald Dahl
& wrote for her college newspaper,
that math was her least favorite subject
& that her fourth-grade teacher (third for me)
told her that she was a wonderful writer.
I think that maybe I liked this lady–
what little I knew from her blurb in the back all those years ago–
because I saw myself in her,
or saw in her,
what I hoped I might
someday become.

https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/wednesday-poetry-prompts-481

Truth is its own magic: A Mother’s Day message

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When you’re a mom, some of the things that come out of your mouth may sound strange:  “Don’t chew on Jesus,” “Will you just hurry up and poop?”, and “Stop putting chicken on your head!”, are some of my greatest hits.

As I was getting my daughter ready for bed the other night, thinking about what I wanted to read to her (praying she wouldn’t mention Minnie, as in The Mouse), the Beatitudes of Jesus came to mind.  I realized then that I’ve spent so much time reading and singing to her and teaching her the things she will need to know to get on here–like letters and numbers, saying “thank you” and not littering–that I hadn’t focused much on the religious part of her education.

Thinking back, that’s exactly how my parents raised me.  For them, church was something you needed if you were an ass.

When I was in high school in the nineties, a lot of kids were self-proclaimed “Jesus freaks,” wearing “True Love Waits” rings and WWJD bracelets.  There was a lot of talk about the rapture and born-again virginity.  Church was their social life, Praise and Worship music their vibe.  Some of them even carried their Bibles around at school.  

Just as Felicity (remember that WB show?) followed a boy to college, I, a freshman, followed a senior boy to his church.  One evening, after service had ended, we sat in a pew as he led me through the salvation prayer, and I was like, “That’s it?  Are you sure? It’s that easy?”

I had been expecting a feeling–a total transformation like Saul’s to Paul–and now I wonder when Jesus told Doubting Thomas that (and I paraphrase) blessed are they who don’t see but believe, that “see” could also apply to “feel.”

Four years later, I joined the Mormon Church.  All the good feelings I had expected to feel when I had gotten saved, I felt then, but who isn’t going to feel good when they’re around so many friendly people who open their hearts and homes?  Even though it’s been years since I sent my name to Salt Lake to be expunged (er, removed) from the records, I will admit that the Church made me a more spiritual person.

In the Church, I was taught that the glory of God is intelligence and yet, according to these same people, for those who had mental challenges, the devil could not touch them. 

To my understanding, a lack of mental capacity (e.g. intelligence) saved a soul.  It seems contradictory, and yet, it somehow makes sense to me.

As I gaze upon my child, I see that light and intelligence.  She knows so much more than she communicates, which can be frustrating, but I have learned to overcome the need to explain why she is the way she is to people who don’t know her–to explain why she doesn’t respond when people ask her her name–but then, I have had several people who’ve taken one look at her and ask if she’s autistic.

I may never know how much she understands, but I do know that I will teach her everything I know and believe, whether it’s that adverbs are the enemy of good writing or that respect doesn’t have to be earned but it can be lost.  (You don’t disrespect people until they “earn” your respect.)

I’ve striven so much to give her a magical childhood through imagination and storytelling.  (Children’s author, Nancy Tillman, is a master at this.)  Nearly every night, since my mom passed from this earth, I ask my daughter to tell Grandma “good-night” and “I love you” and to blow her a kiss.  And then I seemingly catch that kiss in midair, letting her open my hand and take it; sometimes I place my palm on the crown of her head–a blessing from Heaven.

Of course, I don’t really know how things work up there, but part of parenting, for me, has always been teaching truths with just a pinch of magic.

C.S. Lewis did that very thing with his Narnia series, just as I will someday do with mine.

Poem-a-Day April 2019 Writer’s Digest Challenge #30. Theme: Stop/Don’t Stop #aprpad

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The Pursuit of Happiness

Never stop pursuing your passion
because if you do,
it will always be a temptation
that will never be satisfied,
for any writer worth their saffron
will find the time—
even after time with family
& time with friends,
time at work
& time working out,
time with feeding the head
& time with feeding the mouth,
time spent sleeping
& playing
& running errands,
for those who love to write,
there will never be enough time,
but those lovers will make the most
of the time they have—
in the waiting times
& the lunch times,
in the television times
& the alone times—
the last of which they cherish,
for it is in that time
that they don’t feel like
they are taking it
from someone else
who needs it more.

https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/2019-april-pad-challenge-day-30