#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

There was Brigham Young University, singles conferences, Institute—so many ways to meet our eternal companion, which was about creating more tithe payers for future generations.

My life had been built in Green Haven; Mother wanted me to rebuild it in the Mormon Mecca. My life would be deconstructed in the Deep South, where it would rise again through Reconstruction.

Donna was a MINO (Mormon-in-name-only) because she was into NCMOs (non-committal making-out) sessions.

For him, I’d been willing to give up my family, but he hadn’t been willing to give up his Church. For him, I’d have given up everything, so he would have had to give up nothing.

A man could have a career & family, but a woman had to put the 2 together, so that they became her one & only purpose, for there was no purpose for a woman outside her family.

Donna had said make-up & pantyhose was like a Mormon burka, for she saw all that separated her from being a man as a form of oppression.

My awareness of men had been awakened in Elder Roberts the boy, but my sexuality would be awakened in David the man.

Mormon wives came in 2 forms: corporate & hausfrau. Though they looked different, in their hearts, they were 2 sides of the same feminine coin.

Life as a Mormon wife would be full of Sunday services, domesticity, & children. It was their ideal, but I wasn’t sure it was mine.

I was a romantic idealist who found the Mormon ideals neither romantic or ideal, except for those who’d been raised to believe them so.

Poem-a-Day November 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #29. Theme: Remix

From Within

God was there between them,
sturdy,
holding both their shaky hands.
Crumbling was that faith
that marriage was forever,
but when they looked at one another,
seeing one another the way they did,
they saw from their reflections
in the windows of their souls
that God was the fulcrum,
and she, the power suit in her marriage
and he,
in his birthday suit,
was a kept man.
But for this practice of self-reflection,
of seeing themselves obstructed in the beam
they saw in one another’s eyes,
they also saw that he needed her
as much as she wanted him.

*For this poem, I used every word from this one: https://sarahleastories.com/2018/11/28/poem-a-day-november-2018-writers-digest-challenge-27-theme-sturdy-shaky/

2018 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 29

 

Poem-a-Day April 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #16. Theme: Love/Anti-Love

Life is Loving Things, Hating Things

I love men clean-cut & clean-shaven;
I hate man-buns & gauges.
(Less hair, more flesh, please.)

I love older men,
not old men (in “that way”).

I love mint-green MINI Coopers;
I hate smart cars.
(They look dumb.)

I love my womanly curves;
I hate that one of those curves isn’t concave.

I love epidurals;
I hate contractions.
(Except when I’m trying to reduce my word count.)

I love the Bible;
I hate some of the things in it.
(God as Bad Cop, Jesus, Good Cop.)

I love humanism;
I hate feminism.
(But femininity rules.)

I’d love to write for Harlequin;
I hate reading Harlequin romances.
(But such is called research.)

I love linguistics,
I hate statistics.
(One is a carton of pretty lies,
the other can be a pack of damn lies.)

I love it when people make an educated argument;
I hate it when they copy-and-paste.

I love conducting interviews;
I hate cold quoting.
(I am not a “Woman on the Street” type.)

I love Valentine’s Day now that I’m married;
I hated it when I was single.
(Still think it’s stupid, only I get stuff now.)

I hate things about this life,
but I love my life,
& live without regrets,
for to change the smallest thing
might have changed everything.

2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

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.

Makeup on Empty Space: Poetry Reading Night

“Poetry can be a transmission to help you notice things.”
–Anne Waldman, 22 April 2017, Pensacola State College, at The Lyceum

Last night, I attended a poetry reading by poet, Anne Waldman, whose workshop I attended Friday.  I don’t write about these things so much to report, but rather to highlight the impact the event had on me.

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Anne’s son, Ambrose Bye, played the piano, which added to the ambiance, and behind them, flashed images of what she called a “family album”, or “honorary album”–pictures of poets, brain diagrams (which the medical student in me appreciated), indigenous peoples, nature (and perhaps environmental devastation–I’m not sure), so one could say that Anne had the three “poeias” down (words, music, images). 

One of the lines that captured me was “her century needed her to see above the height of the grass” which conjured up images of antitheses to anti-Christs (the latter who may always come in the form of a man).

Her poetry was written (and performed, rather than recited) in a woman’s spirit.  It wasn’t even her words so much that moved me, but the musicality of her words.  At heart, I am a storyteller; I like characters, and so many of my poems read like stories, so I saw, or rather heard, the expression of poetry in a new way.

The only thing that wasn’t for me were the chants, because it reminded me of speaking in tongues (except hers weren’t creepy).

She opened with singing the “Anthropocene Blues,” which sounded like an old-time religion church hymn.  (Btw, anthropocene is the name for the geological time we’re living in, where mankind has a significant impact on the environment.)

She also spoke on the theme of “archive,” which she defined as “an antithesis to a war on memory.”  We are living in a technological age where our words will be out there forever, which makes me very happy as a writer, but probably wouldn’t if I were a politician.  Politicians often wage a “war on memory” by trying to con their constituents/employers, saying they never said (insert inflammatory statement) if they did, as there is usually video to back it up.

Her poem on suffering was recited in a way that made me think of bullets being shot or bombs being dropped in rapid succession.  No, we don’t want to be seen as the age when people were killing each other or destroying the planet, though every age since the beginning of time can claim the mantle of the former.  We just have the power now to execute the latter.

One of Anne’s refrains was “pushing against the darkness”; I think of poetry as a way of illuminating the world.  It is the color where there is only black-and-white.  (The movie Pleasantville comes to mind.)

She recited what she called a “feminist love poem” about the g-spot (reminiscent of an apostrophe poem), which she described as a “genie trapped in a bottle.”

I concur.

I learned that the manatee is related to the elephant, and what human doesn’t love a herbivorous animal and one that won’t kill you for the hell of it?  She made a good point about man having no use for the manatee, which I took as an allegory for how humans judge one another’s worth–by their perceived usefulness or productivity (even to them).

Because racehorses have use for man, men breed them.

There was a question-and-answer session at the end, and, as Jamey Jones, the local Poet Laureate put it, “Anne really cares.”  She believes in her work, and that poets can change the world.

I will say that it already has, for is not the Bible a book of poetry?  Does that mean something has to be packaged as religion, or absolute truth, to change the world?

Something to think about.

Poem-a-Day 2017 Writer’s Digest Challenge #16. Theme: (Blank) System

The Integumentary System

From ivory to ebony,
it is what the world sees first.
Symbolic of heritage and health,
it advances with age—
the more lines,
the longer the timeline.

Twenty-two square feet of a durable, elastic material,
sometimes marred with scars,
freckles,
or other marks.
It drapes our muscles,
our bones—
a cutaneous covering
that masks the workings underneath.

In shades of white-blond
to tar-black,
it is a glorious crown;
sometimes it’s sensitive
and has a bad day.
Some is fine and straight,
others, kinky,
both enduring color and heat
in the name of beauty.
It frames the eyes like fans,
adding ten years to young men’s faces,
or falls out,
adding ten years to old men’s heads.

It was the glory of Samson,
Rapunzel’s ladder,
Jo March’s independent currency.
It is shaved in protest and
in camaraderie for others with cancer;
it is refrained from clipping for salvation’s sake,
even as it is sold for its preciousness.

The weapons of mass seduction,
painted in assorted colors,
and sometimes the indigestible chewable
of a nervous habit.
Whether weapons in defense of rape,
or the branding tools of mates during orgasm,
they are the crescent moons
that grow from our fingers.

It is the cover we wear—
our identity—
easily changed through chemicals,
contacts,
or surgery.

It encompasses the cup fillings
that nourish the children,
that make children of men—
these soft globes
that must not move
in polite society.

For some women,
it must all be covered,
for it offends the men
who believe in a God
that created such heavenly creatures.

2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 16

Book Review: Little Women

 

1934.jpg

I was around ten years old the first time I tried reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.  I was at my grandparents’ house for the summer, and they had a set of “Reader’s Digest Condensed Books”.  I remember reading a bit, and quickly losing interest.  Then, when I was in my early twenties, I tried again, having just watched the June Allyson version of “Little Women” (1949), but after reading maybe a chapter or two, put it down again.  The story seemed to lack vitality then, and I finally forced myself to read 33% of the book (according to Kindle), though I had wanted to give up at 25%.  I’ve been wanting to write a modern version of the story, and felt I needed to read the actual book, get the big picture, rather than just the details on Wikipedia, SparkNotes, etc.

I am craving a good book right now.  “Little Women” doesn’t have anything going for it in terms of plot, characterization, or even locale (which is why I read Elin Hilderbrand’s books).  Even though we are told (rather than shown) how unique each girl is, they are bland as vanilla pudding, and the moralizing is a bit heavy-handed.  Marmee (what the girls call their mother) seems to have more “teachable” moments with her girls than candid ones.

What killed the book for me completely was all the inanity.  We are barely introduced to the girls before they have one of what one calls their “dressing-up frolics”, and we are subjected to some play young Jo wrote about characters named Roderigo, Hugo, Don Pedro, etc., which we come back to a second time, complete with some odd poem.  I have never been a fan of a “story within a story”—it comes across as padding and is never as interesting as the actual story (and that isn’t saying much).  This goes on for pages!  (Okay, maybe I didn’t quite read 33%, because I skipped through all of this.)

Then we get to “The Pickwick Club”—the girls’ secret society—in which a periodical of some sort, “The Pickwick Portfolio”, is read.  Pages and pages of awful prose.  I tried, but skipped almost all of it.  Every time an author inserts one of these “padding devices”, as I call them, it draws one out of the story—it’s like getting a flat tire on a long trip and having to pass the time by playing “Eye Spy”.

The last straw for me was at the picnic (chapter named “Camp Laurence”) when the guests play “Rig-marole” (where “one person begins a story, any nonsense you like, and tells as long as he pleases, only taking care to stop short at some exciting point, when the next takes it up and does the same”).  Again, pages and pages of painful drivel.  I forced myself to read more after this, but I felt, having read at least a third (probably closer to a quarter because of the portions I skipped), I could write a legitimate review.  After all, if a food critic cannot finish a dish because it tastes so bad, why can’t a book reviewer review a book she at least took several bites (or read several chapters) of?