Sweet Little Nothings

We're all stories in the end just make it a good one! chocolate

Her life began as a brief birth announcement,
followed by a series of Owen Mills poses,
blurry candids,
& unfocused, jittery videos.
Then there was the grainy color newsprint photo in The Patriot Press
of her holding up a certificate
& wearing a medallion
for placing first
in a Constitution calligraphy contest.
For many years,
that was akin to her 4 touchdowns in 1 game.
She never got a write-up in the arrest records,
for that was a legacy she didn’t want to leave;
rather, she lived up as a subject
for several human-interest stories—
as the girl who sold 6701 Girl Scout cookies
because of a YouTube video
that turned those processed disks
into decadent desserts;
as a college graduate who crowdfunded her way
into creating an endowed scholarship
for creative writers in memory of her sister,
whose memoir, Lessons from Mother Goose,
gained notoriety posthumously;
in her silver-haired, golden years,
as a woman who made old tee shirts
into rag rugs for the homeless,
in memory of the brother she’d lost to addiction,
whose inward riches had turned to outward rags.
And then she finally told her own story
by writing her obituary,
for she always had to have
the last word.

The Grammar Girl Returns

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Today is the day I start my Baccalaureate program as a Creative Writing major.  I was fortunate to be able to take two months off from work to read, write, and spend time with my family; I even got to catch up with friends.  I got back into the habit of strength training (as weightlifting doesn’t sound very feminine) and took up water aerobics; I’ve also focused on updating all my online presences (including my portfolio), professionalizing them for potential employers as well as uploading my resumes to all the usual suspects (e.g. Indeed, Glassdoor, etc.).  The university I am attending also provided invaluable feedback on my resume and cover letters.  

After refreshing my Upwork account, I was hired as an independent contractor to proofread documents submitted by Grammarly clients.  Even though I work from home, the job has a very Silicon Valley startup feel, which I love.  I am learning so much already; it’s a great gig.  Though there is nothing quite like being able to set your own hours, walk into the next room to go to work, and never answer a telephone, I will always be the type of person who has to have an outside job where I communicate face-to-face.  I’m a people person who also happens to be an introvert.

In addition to my jobs as an office assistant at uni and as a professional writing tutor, my plate will be full, but it will be full of things I enjoy, and that makes all the difference.  

Writerly and Grammarly,
Sarah Richards, Class of 2022

She’d graduated a Titan
before The New Millennium,
watching her training grounds
as a gladiator
in the public school arena
disappear.
Loosely prepared
to become a Pirate,
she laid down
her educational armor,
only to pick it up again
with eyes wide open,
diving head first
into the land of magnolias,
with their spinach green leaves
& mascarpone white petals.
Now, well-prepared
to become an Argonaut,
her armor fortified
with precious mettle,
she dove once more,
under graying canopies
of Spanish moss.
As a Titan,
she had brought home
the bronze medallion;
as a Pirate,
the silver chest;
but as an Argonaut,
she would put upon herself
the Golden Fleece
& battle with her wits
that had no end.

Micropoetry Monday: Self-Reflection

Reflections, Saint Patrick's Day

She tried to have it all,
but when she saw the long hours
her husband worked &
the times he was away
from her & the kids,
she realized that no one could have it all,
all the time,
for even as there was a place for everything
& everything in its place,
there was a time for this,
& a time for that.
There was no time for everything.

When she’d thought she wanted the job,
she didn’t get it;
when she didn’t want the job anymore
(having seen what it was all about),
she got it.
Even though she was glad to get it,
having learned so much from it,
she was going to be gladder to get out of it
& take what she had learned from it
to use elsewhere.

She saw, in these 5 teenagers
who crashed the park,
a little of what she had once been—
hanging out with friends every weekend,
rather than on the rare times
when she was able to pull herself away
from her responsibilities,
of walking the streets at dusk without worrying
about anyone’s safety but her own.
When one of the girls smiled her way,
she wondered if she had ever looked
at a young mother like that—
like she couldn’t ever imagine being one someday.

The Ten O’Clock Scholar

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She was Sarah Lea Richards,
the wife of Brian,
the mom of Hannah,
the daughter of Phil & Betty–
an accidental scholar,
a poet who read novels,
a poet who wrote short stories.

She was the blogger,
the humorist,
the bookmaker,
the pink-collar worker
in crimped hair & red lipstick–
a hot mess sometimes,
but never a cold dish.

She was a punster
who loved the Oxford comma,
the em dash,
& sometimes semicolons;
she was a wordsmith
who hated adverbs &
needless words,
but loved words like topsy-turvy &
helter-skelter–
just because they made her smile.

She was a mathematician when she had to be,
who, if ever in Rome,
would write in Roman numerals.
She was a poor person’s philosopher,
an even poorer person’s astronomer,
& the kind of statistician one would get
if they were being served by a public defender.

She was one of Jamey’s angels
who had yet to earn her wings.
She was the newspaper jefe,
whose sense of humor
sometimes rankled her adviser.

She was the Writing Lab tutor,
who knew that subjects & verbs
had disagreements,
but what about?
She was the boomerang child of Building 4,
the work-study gal
who made good.

She was a reliable narrator only
when on the beat,
but in the realm of fiction,
she was as unreliable as they came.

She was the family historian & documentarian,
for as everyone was the hero of their own story,
they were characters in hers.

She read people like books,
judging them not by their cover,
but by their content.

She was a woman of liberal arts &
conservative values.

She was a Health Info Tech major,
who saw it as a means to an end–
an end which would come in words,
rather than the alphanumerics
that comprised medical codes.

But such an endeavor,
so against her sense & sensibilities,
had not all been a waste,
for it had led her to here,
which would get her there–
even if there was still here.

Writing prompt:  The art of the autobio

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I haven’t posted a writing prompt in quite some time, and as I was going through all my old Facebook page posts to schedule this summer’s Weekly Writing Workshops, I remembered I wrote this autobiography in verse form a couple of years ago while I was taking our local Poet Laureate’s Poetry class at my alma mater.

Let me just say a few things about that class:  It helped me explore different ways of poeming (I fell in love with the pantoum), which was like discovering a whole new palette of colors.  I also learned that you really get to know people not just by reading their poetry, but by listening to them read it; they will reveal more about themselves in one poem than they will in a whole semester of conversations.  What’s more, taking a college level poetry course deepened my appreciation for works not my own.

This writing prompt is on making an “autobio list” (i.e. a list poem about you), which is a great form of freewriting, for you will find that as you recall one memory, another will be jarred loose, and memories will be tumbling over each other so fast, you will be scrabbling to get them down before they fall through the wrinkles of your brain.

“Slow-Speaking Lady” was originally going to be a Shutterfly book, but really, it was more of a writing exercise, modeled after Anne Waldman’s Fast Speaking Woman—one of the required texts in my poetry class.  Anne’s “break” stanza (i.e. the centered stanzas that break up the litanies) was “water that cleans/waters that run/flowers that clean as I go.” Do I get it? No, and I probably never will, but I am learning to appreciate things I don’t understand.  I already like that “Dominique” song by that French nun, and I don’t understand a word of it—I just like the way it sounds.

Without Waldman’s influence, I would’ve never written something like this, so she helped me think not so much out of the box, but to step out of the box completely.

That said, this is the kind of poetry that is better read aloud, as it is more like a chant.  It wasn’t until I watched Anne’s performance of her piece that I got more out of Fast Speaking Woman.  “Slow-Speaking Lady” would make a great YouTube video, but I’m not ready to put myself out there like that just yet.

So this prompt is to just write down everything that you are and categorize accordingly.  I guarantee that if you write one of these every seven years, they will be very different.  

Free your mind!

Slow-Speaking Lady

I’m a diamond lady, but a flawed lady.
I’m a ruby lady, a ruby-slippered lady.
I’m a sapphire sea lady, an emerald coast lady.
I’m a pearl with cameos lady, a blue moon lady.
I’m a rose gold lady, a silver lady, but not a gold-&-silver lady.
I’m non-pierced, non-tattooed lady.
I’m a soft-hearted lady, but not a bleeding-heart lady.
I’m a hard-headed lady, but not a soft-boiled lady.
I’m a red shoe lady, a flip-flop & bikini top lady.
I’m a glossy red-lipsticked lady, a freckled-face lady.
I’m a barefaced & barelegged lady.
I’m a brunette in a redheaded body kind of lady.
I’m a lady on a mission, but not a missionary lady.
I’m a spiritual lady, but not a churchgoing lady.
I’m a lady with many questions, a lady who questions God.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a wifely lady, a motherly lady.
I’m a wannabe breast-feeding lady.
I’m a lady with a seedy Mormon past, a fruitful post-Mormon present lady.
I’m a minimalist lady, a mindfulness lady.
I’m a retro lady, a vintage lady, a modern lady.
I’m a board game lady, a head games lady.
I’m a gift-bag giving lady, a wrapping-paper receiving lady.
I’m a porcelain doll, but unbreakable.
I’m a gift card lady, not a greeting card lady.
I’m a French twist-braid-pastry lady.
I’m a cooking with electric lady, not a cooking with gas lady.
I’m a nut-loving, dark chocolate noshing lady.
I’m a truffle-making lady, not a Christmas cookie baking lady.
I’m a lady of many tastes, a lady of good taste.
I’m a Southern lady, a lady who loves everything fried.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a Scots-Irish lady, a Black Irish lady, a Northern Irish lady.
I’m a white lady, but not a colorless lady.
I’m a fast-typing lady, a slow-writing lady.
I’m an introverted lady in person, an extroverted lady on paper.
I’m a left-brained lady, a right-brained lady.
I’m a right-handed lady trying to be a left-handed lady.
I’m a typesetting, if not a trendsetting lady.
I’m a lady with a past, a lady with a future.
I’m an in-the-moment lady, a lady who daydreams.
I’m a have-it-all lady, not a do-it-all lady.
I’m an event lady, not a party lady.
I’m a creative mess lady, a clutter-free lady.
I’m a modest lady, a wandering eye lady.
I’m a fallen lady, a lady who’s been lifted.
I’m a cameo lady, a lady with the face of a cameo.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a clothes lady, I’m a naked lady.
I’m a cold-natured lady with bare shoulders, a hot-natured lady with a sweater.
I’m a satin-edge blanket lady, a cotton sheet lady, a matching pillowcase lady.
I’m a paisley pattern on my bed, not on my person lady.
I’m a controlled water lady, not an uncontrolled water lady.
I’m a mechanically-disinclined lady, an artistically-inclined lady.
I’m an acoustic guitar lady, a folk-song loving lady.
I’m a country music loving lady, a lady who doesn’t say y’all.
I’m a printed book reading lady, an online research scanning lady.
I’m an Instagramming lady, a telegramming lady.
I’m a grammarian lady, a Shakespeare-making-up-words lady.
I’m a dictionary lady, a thesaurus lady.
I’m a bleeding through the page, gel pen lady.
I’m a serious in-person lady, a comedienne on paper lady.
I’m a lady who takes her work seriously,
but a lady who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a beignets on Christmas morning lady.
I’m a cake lady, a frosting-hating lady.
I’m an al fresco dining lady, a Wheel of Fortune watching lady.
I’m a picnicking in the park, a barbecuing on the beach lady.
I’m a mixed drink lady, a mix-&-match lady.
I’m a plaid lady, a polka-dotted lady.
I’m a thigh-high, not a waist-high lady.
I’m an open-question lady, with a mind at half-mast.
I’m a conservative lady mind-wise, a liberal lady heart-wise.
I’m a Bible-reading out loud lady, a praying to myself lady.
I’m a Christian-y arts lady, an artsy Christian lady.
I’m a play-by-the-rules in life lady, a breaking the rules in print lady.
I’m a spiritual lady, not a religious lady.
I’m a Jesus-loving, God-fearing lady.
I’m a lady with issues, a lady with values.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a twilight lady, a lavender & periwinkle lady.
I’m a nurturing lady, a nature-loving lady.
I’m a day-outdoors lady, a night-indoors lady.
I’m a slow-running lady, a fast-walking lady.
I’m a firefly lady, a lightning bug lady, a barefoot lady.
I’m a fire lady, an ice lady, a sun lady, a moon lady.
I’m a rising lady, I’m a setting lady.
I’m the lady in red
I’m a champagne-drunk lady, a soda-sober lady.
I’m a couponing lady, an extravagant lady.
I’m a soft fabric lady, a durable goods lady.
I’m a button-loving lady, a zipper-hating lady.
I’m a twenty-seven-toothed lady.
I’m a long-haired lady, a shaved lady.
I’m a glass lady, a clay lady, a wooden lady, a woman of steel.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a Roman numeral clock type of lady.
I’m a shabby chic lady, a distressed lady.
I’m a candle-burning, lamp lighting lady.
I’m a letter-writing lady, a cursive-writing lady.
I’m a film noir lady, a Technicolor lady.
I’m a memory-making, memory recording lady.
I’m an Arial lady, never a Times New Roman lady.
I’m a nostalgic lady—for times gone by, for times that never were.
I’m a lady who loves Comic Sans for children’s books.
I’m a children’s poetry lady, an adult-story lady.
I’m a fighting-with-words the other doesn’t know lady.
I’m a deconstructed lady, a reconstructed lady.
I’m a compassionate lady, a passionate lady.
I’m an enchanting lady, a disenchanted lady.
I’m a lady inside one man’s head.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m an introverted lady.
I’m a type A lady, a type B lady.
I’m a wandering lady, a stay-at-home lady.
I’m a fast-eating, slow-food lady.
I’m a fact-finding lady, a making-it-up-as-I-go lady.
I’m a breakfast for dinner lady, a dinner for breakfast lady.
I’m a bread & butter lady, a toast & jam lady.
I’m a lady who doesn’t procrastinate.
I’m a crayon lady, not a colored pencil lady.
I’m a get-it-done-before-I-forget lady.
I’m a day-dreaming lady, a night-fantasizing lady.
I’m a bra-hating lady.
I’m plain lady, a fancy lady.
I’m a black lace lady, a pink satin lady.
I’m a crafty lady, but not a lady of the craft.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck,
on myself.

I’m a bargain hunting lady, a seashell gathering lady.
I’m a winter clothes loving lady, a summer weather loving lady.
I’m a less is more lady, a more is more lady.
I’m an upcyling, if not a recycling lady.
I’m a prime time watching lady, not a daytime watching lady.
I’m a no-sew, no-bake lady.
I’m an ABBA lady, a Tom T. Hall lady.
I’m a Lady Stetson.
I’m a watermelon-scented loving lady, a watermelon-hating lady.
I’m a baking soda bath lady.
I’m a hair-drying hating, sun-dried loving lady.
I’m a crimped hair lady, a foam curler lady.
I’m a beach-here lady, a mountains-there lady.
I’m a Shakespeare appreciation lady, but not a Shakespeare-loving lady.
I’m a lady who loves to live, but not live to record.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a Scrabble lady, not a Sudoku lady.
I’m a levity lady, not a gravity lady.
I’m a rhyming for kids lady, a non-rhyming for adults lady.
I’m a vegetable lady, not a fruit lady.
I’m an any flavor potato lady, but not a sweet potato lady.
I’m a browsing in the bookstore lady, not a Kindle scrolling lady.
I’m a self-help lady.
I’m a Capri-loving lady who doesn’t wear Capris.
I’m a sock eschewing lady.
I’m a timeless lady, an untimely lady.
I’m a plain paper lady, not a coloring book lady.
I’m a dollhouse lady, a paper doll lady.
I’m a wood burning, rather than a woodworking lady.
I’m a character-driven lady, not a plot-driven lady.
I’m a lady who prefers summer days over holidays.

Over & over,
I hit the reset button,
but it freezes,
& I am stuck,
stuck,
stuck
on myself.

I’m a thirtysomething lady, feeling a twentysomething girly.
I’m an I Love Lucy lady.
I’m a fried chicken on Wedgwood blue china lady.
I’m a windchimes lady, a lullaby-loving lady.
I’m an interviewing lady, no a “woman on the street” lady.
I’m a human-interest lady, not a hard news lady.
I’m a Princess Kate, Grace Kelly, Melania Trump, & Jackie Kennedy fashion lady.
I’m a poet, I’m a poetess, whatever gets me noticed.
I’m a just-so story lady, a shaggy God story lady.
I’m a glossy paper lady, a ripped edge lady.
I’m a dust-jacket removing lady.
I’m a been-there, let’s-do-it-again lady.
I’m a get-in-my-zone lady, a stepping outside my comfort zone lady.
I’m a lady with a double life—a life outside the pages, a life inside.
I’m a lady who loves, a lady in love.

I am, in all my forms, a lady.

I Am a Slow-Speaking Lady

Reflections, Saint Patrick's Day

I am a slow-speaking lady,
a cracked Southern belle.
I am a Pollyanna at times,
an H.L. Mencken at others.
I am a Christian outside church,
a skeptic, a questioner, inside.
I am a lover of old things,
a user of new things.
I am okay and not okay.
I go by no other name—
no Mrs., no Dr.,
and never Sally.
I am someone’s brown-haired,
less intellectual
Diane Chambers.
I am a Lucy,
looking for her Ethel.
I am a bra-hating
non-feminist,
stuck in a society
stuck on teats.
I am a 35-year-old mama
playing her gender role
to the cross.
I am a black Irish,
white-collar,
working-class gal,
whose freckles
number the stars.
I am an open book,
a woman of mystery—
right down to the
witty gritty.
I am unilaterally deaf,
bilaterally blinded by
what is going on in the world,
for mine is a series of
unnatural disasters.
I am strong as spider’s silk,
as vulnerable as Hitch’s
leading ladies.
I am all these things;
I am more than these things,
for there is no end
to that which makes me,
me.