Poem-a-Day 2017 Writer’s Digest Challenge #10. Theme: Travel

Considering I just returned from a journalism field trip yesterday (explaining my delay), “travel” was a timely theme.

Sunday and Monday, our Corsair group (The Corsair is the Pensacola State College newspaper: http://ecorsair.com/movie-review-like-water-for-chocolate/) went to Tallahassee to attend the “Word of South” festival and tour the old and new capital buildings. We also got to talk to a lobbyist about guns on campus and educational funding, and visit the Tallahassee Democrat, the last of which was the best part of the trip, as we got to talk to student reporters of the FSView (the Florida State University student paper) and the editor of the Democrat. We also got to see how newspapers were made, and though I love the look and feel of a print paper, I don’t believe print (books, perhaps, but not periodicals) will be around in 100 years.

I learned that degrees matter, but majors don’t have to lock you into a field. Just because I’m majoring in health information technology doesn’t mean I must work in the healthcare field. I would still love to work at Sacred Heart Hospital (I’ve always said I’d rather work in a cold hospital rather than a hot kitchen), but if I could work for a newspaper, writing about the healthcare field (perhaps with a human-interest slant/angle) I would like that even more. People who write don’t just write—they are doctors, lawyers, politicians, pilots, business people, etc. I’m a writer who happens to be majoring in something that is more medical coding than creative writing.

A question I asked on the trip was if this editor only hired journalism majors. He basically said he would hire any person with expertise, provided they could write well about it. (One of the ladies who worked there was a theatre major.) Everyone I know believes I am an English major, and I guess you could say I had gone after what I was supposed to want, not what I really wanted, because I was afraid what I really wanted wouldn’t pay the bills, but this was something I had to find out for myself. I live my life without regrets—pursuing this medical degree has brought me to where I am now, and I love where I am now.

I had this life plan all mapped out, and even though the map is constantly being redrawn, it isn’t frustrating—it’s liberating. Life is a process, always.


Tallahassee, 10 Apr 2017

She thought she had come too far to change her mind,
but the choice she had made for the good of her family,
would not limit the choices she could make;
for majors did not determine the only thing she could do—
it simply paved the way to greater things.



Poem-a-Day Writer’s Digest Challenge #23. Theme: When (Blank)


When in Pensacola…

…do as the Pensacolians do—
wearing trunks with flip-flops;
bikini tops under tank tops.
Getting drunk off the humid air,
sober off the salt air.
Eating fried chicken sound side,
sun browning surf side,
drenched in the languor of
terracotta-tinged Indian summer.


Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #357, Theme: Bigger

Somehow, I always end up entering The Saturday Evening Post’s annual “Great American Fiction Contest” every other year because I tend to get mixed up and miss the deadline.  By the time next year rolls around, I will have two submissions, so I will always be a year ahead and won’t be waiting until the last minute trying to make sure my submission is perfect (as the GAFC one of the select few I enter in which I pay an entry fee).

The following is my “blurb” for next year’s submission, “Her Sidney Summer”.

Karsen Wood drove from the Sunshine State to the Big Sky Country—
to the land that was bigger than her small, childish dreams.
She wasn’t running away, but to something she couldn’t yet see—
to something greater than the life she’d left and richly lived,
and would live again.



Poem-a-Day 2016 Writer’s Digest Challenge #30. Theme: Dead End


Till the Last Cul-De-Sac

“It is a long road spiked with thorns and briars and pitfalls and problems.”  (Spencer W. Kimball, the Twelfth Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on “the road of repentance”)

It took three dead end jobs,
to gain experience for The Career.
It took following two dead end relationships,
to reach The One.
It took the burying of one well,
before another could be built.

Life is a trek, culminating in a cul-de-sac,
until that last stop,
when Death—
like a Gentleman Caller—
comes knocking at the last house on the end.
Your temple is that house.
He comes to take you where you will be most comfortable,
be it North or South.
Your path will be vertical,
and it will have been determined,
at the last twinkling of your eye.

Your life is a roadmap,
drawn by you,
and it is how,
be it Freyja or Odin,
or any little ambulance chaser,
finds you.

Roads of repentance with its sandspurs
and all manner of sharp things,
in which you may travel on barefoot and in sackcloth,
with the taste of cigarette ash on the tongue,
will run through like blue, veiny rivers—
like deoxygenated blood.

The roads not taken will mostly disappear,
for one decision can slice through an artery,
making such a backtrack impassable—
just as one murder can erase an entire bloodline.
Be prepared that certain roads will be known
only through memory as “If Only When”.

Railroad tracks will stamp their way through,
(sometimes underneath the skin via tunnels),
like stiches keeping it all together.
You must look both ways before crossing over,
but often, in a hurry to get where you’re going,
you won’t look side to side,
only ahead,
and you will miss out on the important things
that God has placed in your path.

Sometimes you will travel in the wrong clothes,
at the wrong times,
through dark waters,
over which the Prince of Perdition has limited powers.
Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re drowning,
but if you stop fighting the forces
that are beyond your control,
you will find a way out.

There are shortcuts that aren’t short,
detours that take you where you don’t want to go,
and freeways with too many exits.
There are highways where we have to keep up,
or be steamrolled.
That is when we take the backroads,
unpaved, grassy,
with weeds growing like wildflowers,
is where we take our time to reflect on where we’re going,
but remember that you will finally run out of gas.

Walking through deserts will make you thirst,
and breezing through beaches will make you complacent.
Be content, but always hunger,
always thirst,
just a little bit.

Mountains will form in your path
like doors that are stuck,
and you will have to pray for strength—
not for the door to move elsewhere,
but for the fortitude to be able to get through it.
Sometimes you’ll tire and want to go back down,
but if you keep your eye single to the glory—
if you will endure to the end—
you will reach the summit.
Your perspective will change,
for you will be able to see as far as the curve of the Earth—
the closest to Heaven you will ever be—
far from the maddening crowds.

When you reach your destination,
when you climb down toward something you want,
or think you want,
the wind at your back,
you will be on the other side.
You will either be changed
or you will change yourself,
because you will have come too far.



Poem-a-Day 2016 Writer’s Digest Challenge #16. Theme: About (or at) a Food Establishment

The Cactus Flower Cafe

Gulf breezes,
a sangria with a slice of blood orange,
the placidity of the sound side
at low tide.
Al fresco dining
on the boardwalk,
the music from inside
as I prefer conversation with my dinner,
not noise.

Chile relleno lightly fried,
plump with rich, creamy cheese and
chicken, tender as rotisserie—
a savory molten lava cake.
Black beans, Spanish rice,
salad vegetables like from a hydroponic garden—
a cool bite from the heat and spice.
Birthday girl,
chilled, caramel flan,
enjoyed with a spoon.

Summer is on the wane
by mid-September,
tourists are gone.
We belong.


Poem-a-Day Writer’s Digest Challenge #21. Theme: Strange


I am a Strange One: A Self-Portrait in Writing

I turn my clock backwards
before I go to sleep.
I am a strange one.

I don’t like to sleep on pillows,
but rather between two of them.
I am a strange one.

I set my clock ahead five minutes,
for 7:00 a.m. is too close to 6:59.
I am a strange one.

I am studying to work in the healthcare profession,
but the sight of blood makes me faint.
I am a strange one.

I love to read crime thrillers,
but I love to write children’s nursery rhymes.
I am a strange one.

I read the dictionary for fun,
Hemingway for school.
I am a strange one.

I am a maximumist when it comes to books,
a minimalist when it comes to DVDs.
I am a strange one.

I love foreign films with subtitles,
but close captioning drives me crazy.
I am a strange one.

I love and appreciate fine art,
but have a hologram of a tree hanging in my house.
I am a strange one.

I watch Fox and read the HuffPost.
I love the Shopaholic series, but am a fan of Dave Ramsey.
I am a strange one.

I have seven Rubbermaid Tupperware containers,
and seven Rubbermaid lids.
I am a strange one.

I like Coca Cola from Mexico,
but I would never drink the water there.
I am a strange one.

I don’t love to cook,
but I love to watch cooking shows.
I am a strange one.

I’d much rather “meet my meat”
than cook it.
I am a strange one.

I buy a new fruit or vegetable first,
then try to figure out what to do with it later.
I am a strange one.

I love most everything fried,
but I prefer my fries baked.
I am a strange one.

I don’t like bananas,
but I love banana cream pie.
I am a strange one.

I love the beach and water aerobics,
but I never learned to swim.
I am a strange one.

My dream vacation is in Iceland,
but I hate the cold.
I am a strange one.

I love cat jokes,
but will probably never have a cat.
I am a strange one.

I like to make bars of soap,
but I prefer to use body wash.
I am a strange one.

I am a night owl,
but I hate when it gets dark early.
I am a strange one.

I hate cold weather,
but I love to be able to wear nylons and sweaters.
I am a strange one.

I like to wear socks inside the house,
but not outside the house (with shoes).
I am a strange one.

I find brassieres uncomfortable,
but not bikini tops.
I am a strange one.

I prefer skirts and mittens
over pants and gloves,
because I like my parts to touch.

I don’t like beards,
but I like a man who can grow one.
I am a strange one.

I like a man who wears cologne,
but I don’t wear perfume.
I am a strange one.

I don’t mind loading washers and dishwashers,
but I hate emptying them.
I am a strange one.

I love shopping for clothes,
but I hate trying them on.
I am a strange one.

I live in the Deep South,
but I don’t say y’all.
I am a strange one.

I don’t have a single tattoo or piercing,
yet I love chandelier earrings.
I am a strange one.

I am an introvert,
but I wait tables for a living.
I am a strange one.

My truths may be strange,
but they are not stranger than fiction.
We are all contradictory,
and, at times, just a little bit OCD,
in our own way.

But at least I don’t go to a seafood restaurant
and order a hamburger.

On Books

Open book

Books are little things that lead to big experiences:
They open minds and doors,
they let you live large,
even while of meager means.
You open a book,
you open up a whole world,
wider than you could ever have imagined.
The words on a page
are like a roadmap to discovery,
but the spaces,
that reading between the lines–
that is where the imagination goes to work.