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

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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,
drowning,
drenched in the languor of
terracotta-tinged Indian summer.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2016-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-23

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.

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http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-357

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

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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,
possibly,
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.

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http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2016-april-pad-challenge-day-30

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
contained—
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.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2016-april-pad-challenge-day-16

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.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #324, Theme: Spectacular

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This Spectacular Age

We are the Age of the New Millennium—
the New Age of Identity,
where you can be anything you want to be,
even if you aren’t and can never be.
We are the Age of Information Technology
that flows at the speed of sound,
depending upon the connection.
We are at the Spectacular Age,
for never before has mankind
seen such leaps and bounds.

The spectacular camera
captures images
that would have been lost in the haze of memory.

The spectacular camcorder
captures a shot of a birthday,
a child’s particular laugh,
a political gaffe.
The camera holder is the apostle
who records the story from his or her perspective.

All is recorded for posterity,
for herstory,
for history.

The electric light drowns out the darkness,
keeping us awake,
aware,
so that we can have pizza
in a brightly lit parlor at four a.m.
Candles are now a novelty—
like a flame of the past.

Books can be downloaded,
uploaded,
and never go out of print—
the words of the authors living long
after they have gone.

I can Skype someone across the globe,
and I don’t even have to wait for a plane,
for I’m already there—
the sights and sounds come through loud and clear.

The feel of newsprint between my fingers
has become a fleeting memory.

Like a Luddite, I go to the bookstore
to open a book the old-fashioned way.
I savor the feel of the slick, embossed cover,
admire the gilt-edged pages,
and delight in the crisp black-and-white.

The clatter of flatware at the dinner table
is drowned out by the clicking of buttons—
the furious sounds of texting.
Conversation is a casualty.

The information superhighway is becoming faster,
like a New York minute—
with so many stops along the way.

I log onto Facebook,
where I go to hang out with friends,
where only those I want can become part of my world.

Then I log on to Twitter—
sending and receiving open telegrams
in 140 characters or less.
I am blitzed by information
that would have taken hours to look up before.

LinkedIn is where my qualifications outshine my shyness.

YouTube is where I watch and listen—
where I can learn everything
and nothing at the same time.

But WordPress—
that is where I tell the world my story,
so that to my descendants,
I will not be a mystery.

I look up from my phone
to find you standing right in front of me,
only to see you looking down at yours.
You do not even know I am there.