#Micropoetry Monday: Love Story

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When he published his late wife’s book,
it brought back the woman he’d loved before,
& the son he’d never known.
By fulfilling her last wish,
she’d fulfilled his.

His whole married life,
she’d been a mystery.
It was only through her death
that he solved the puzzle she’d been–
realizing that because he’d loved what he’d known,
he could love what he had not.

She had stayed with him through sickness,
he, through health;
she, through poorer,
he, through richer.
The worse was greater than
the better,
& yet she stayed,
for the promise had said “or”
& not “and.”

They changed roles out of necessity–
him becoming the house husband,
her becoming the career woman–
modeling themselves after what worked for them,
& not their Mormon counterparts.

His thumb was green
even as hers was black,
but with his fertilizer
in her fertile ark,
they reproduced one of each–
after their own kind.

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The Processes of Seed and Clay

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In the process of moving and going through old boxes, I found a medal I’d won my eighth grade year for “Excellence in English,” and I thought, Just when was it I knew I wanted to be a writer?

Paper had always been such a part of my life.  Before I was old enough to draw, I spent hours cutting it up.  (I believe snowflakes were my favorite creation.)  Once, while my dad was asleep, I cut up every paper in the house, causing him to throw my red Roger Rabbit scissors against the Butano heater in our Spanish apartment, breaking them.

As my brain developed, I began to illustrate the stories in my imagination, my fascination centering around the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (especially the Hanging Gardens of Babylon).  Then, my third grade teacher, Ms. Cahoon, had us keep journals.  I always wrote about my summers in Poplar Bluff; I was never interested in keeping a diary (I preferred to write creative nonfiction without the gushy stuff.)  I didn’t like writing about my feelings, save through the medium of poetry, so that no one could read this or that and say for sure, “That’s Sarah.”

Through poetry, I could reveal everything in plain sight.

I don’t know when it is that we know what we want to be–whether it’ll be in athletics, academics, or the arts.  I only remember my parents’ encouragement, never their pressuring me to be interested in any one thing (though my dad would only help me with history homework because it interested in him; if it was math or science, I was on my own).  Mom and Dad simply exposed me to what they could afford to; lucky for them, I was always drawn to books, such as the Berenstain Bears, Encyclopedia Brown, The Baby-Sitters Club series, and any books by Roald Dahl, as well as all the Newbery Medal award winners.  Books were my way out of poverty (literally and figuratively).  For years, I fancied myself as Francie Nolan from the movie, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; I could write lies that weren’t lies because they were stories.

I am so grateful that my parents just let me be (I call it the Libertarian approach), which is why most of my daughter’s playtime is unstructured.  I see how she ignores the television (thank God) unless there’s music, during which she is immediately transfixed.  Maybe that’s why I enjoy singing to her so much (though it does get a bit daunting trying to come up with a different melody for every nursery rhyme).

When she starts kindergarten, I’ll enroll her in piano lessons (as music works every part of the brain).  My husband prefers classic instrumental, though I always balk a bit at that, because I’m a writer, so of course, lyrics matter (though I wanted only “Canon” played at my wedding).  I see lyrics as telling a story, the melody, making you feel that story.  With classical music, there is no story–you just feel. 

Poetry, for me, is the flip side of instrumentals.

Everyone should have something–something that encourages mindfulness, something that draws them outside themselves.  My craft does that for me; I will lose myself in it, yet I will find more of myself I hadn’t known was there.

Because I know how much fuller my life is with writing, I want my daughter to have an outlet (so far, it’s ripping up paper).  Children come to us a blank slate, and it’s our job, as parents, to shape them as if they were clay–to mold them into good human beings–but they’re also seeds that need to be watered with nurture so they can reveal what they are meant to become.

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Drawing from the well

Last night, I was honored to participate in a release party/poetry reading for the “Life in Your Time” edition of The Emerald Coast Review.

The poem I’d entered, I’d written for a rhymezone.com poetry contest on the theme of “Community.”  The original title of my narrative was “The Emerald Coast Community,” but I changed it to “Pensacola, 2016,” for this publication.  Ironically, the one piece I didn’t specifically write for “Emerald” was the one piece that was accepted.

I’ve learned that just because a piece is rejected, that doesn’t mean it won’t find a home.  (Just make sure to re-edit it after every rejection.)

I’ve become comfortable reading my poetry in front of people–we all seem to be accepting of one another and are probably more nervous than we let on.  I was blessed to have my support system–my husband, daughter (okay, she’s four and had to come), parents, and grandmother.  One of the women who is in our WriteOn! Pensacola group was there with her husband, so it was great to see someone I knew.

One thing I learned:  If there’s a microphone, use it!  The book should not have to serve as closed captions unless you are deaf.

We arrived early (catching a glimpse of an albino squirrel) and found out that security had been ordered, as there’s some burly guy in town who shows up at events and crashes them with his “preaching” (as the policeman put it).  I was already thinking that the subject of my next short story was going to show up, but I got a blog post instead.

As a writer, no experience is ever wasted.  I draw from the well that is my life in this time, in this locale, every day; I like to say that I’m an alchemist who mixes fact with fiction, so that each person who reads my words sifts out their own truths.

I have to say, Pensacola gave me the material I needed to bag this one.

~~~

I’ve lived in this town for thirty years, and written about it from many perspectives.  I believe that’s a gift writers have–we can see the same thing in many ways.  I see the beauty of Pensacola, as well as the ugliness, for it’s as extreme as its weather (which range from freezing cold to boiling hot), along with its rednecks and “country club Republicans,” its plethora of churches and homeless.

So I’ve immortalized Pensacola–this city “not quite confidential” several times.  Here are a few:

Our (Quirky) Town:  https://sarahleastories.com/2017/06/15/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-397-land-of-blank/

Do as the Pensacolians do:  https://sarahleastories.com/2016/11/23/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-23-theme-when-blank/

Haunted Pensacola:  https://sarahleastories.com/2017/07/01/saturday-evening-post-honorable-mention/

Local flavor:  https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/10/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-9-theme-work/

My “hit piece” (for which one local writer “questioned my mental health”):  https://sarahleastories.com/2014/02/19/daily-prompt-west-end-girls-2/

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#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

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Leann was the girl who broke all the rules, writing half a dozen elders in the field. “I’m Snow White, & they’re my 7 perps,” she liked to say.

Kath, Leann, & I were like Neapolitan ice cream—Kath was chocolate, for obvious reasons, Leann was strawberry, for being short, & I was simply vanilla.

Donna Marley was known as “Twenty-Seven and Unmarried,” and often liked to brag that she was the most liberal Mormon with a temple recommend.

Donna considered herself a Mormon feminist, eschewing make-up & pretty clothes. Because Leann loved those things, she was called a fembot.

I’d never been a fan of fairy tales, which had always revolved around royalty. Heidi had been an ordinary girl who loved her simple town—a girl like me.

I was Heidi, Caitlin, Pippi Longstocking. As I looked around me—at all the girls my age in adult costumes—I wondered if we’d grown up at all.

Caitlin hadn’t been spiritually converted into the ward, but she had been converted socially, with flying pink colors.

Kath, Leann, & I hid under the refreshment table to hide from The 3 Stooges (a.k.a. Tony, Mart, & Mick) to listen to polite “locker room” talk.

Before going on their missions, Tony, Mart, & Mick had made calendars of themselves—advertising—like the young women did with their cookies.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #415: I Believe You

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Asking Alice

Looking into that wonderland
where everything is a bit curious,
I say to the girl on the other side—
the only way I’ve ever seen myself—
that I don’t believe her when she tells me
she will not fail;
I can only say
that I believe in her still.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-415

#Micropoetry Monday: Opposite Day

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Scrabble & Sudoku
often got into word fights,
making it a numbers game,
but when they learned how
to relate to one another,
Algebra,
who confounded them both,
was born.

He wrote “How-To”,
she wrote “Who’s Who?”,
so she didn’t know how,
& he didn’t know who.

When Airhead met Egghead,
he put his yolk upon her,
& she whipped him into meringue.

Money was the only thing
that ever came between them:
he made not enough,
& she made too much.

They were two sides of a bad penny—
she was pigtails & ponytails,
he was an unwashed head
of lettuce,
but together they weren’t worth
one red cent.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

Mormoni

I saw, in all the girls,
something I wanted to be.
In Leann,
a family, solidified in marriage;
in Kath,
a funlovingness,
& Donna,
a carefree spirit.

They had Fall Festival,
not Trick-or-Treat.
They had Trunk-or-Treat,
but no Halloween masks—
no frames for the windows of the soul.

Mother toasted to love,
David, to peace,
& hope floated within me
like sherbet in the ginger ale
we drank
to cleanse our palates
from evil.

They had given my mother
a peace she had never known.
What she’d withheld from us,
she gave to them.

Leann was a Southern belle,
Kath, a rodeo queen,
but I was Heidi,
the Church was Frankfurt,
& David,
my beloved mountains.