Writer’s Digest November Poem-a-Day 2017 Challenge #20. Theme: What I Learned

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What I’ve Learned (so far)

What I learned from Creative Writing is that you don’t take it with the notion of learning how to get published–you take it to learn how to become a better writer so that you will have a better chance of getting published.

What I learned from Computer Concepts… Well, that would be nothing. Nothing at all.

What I learned from Ethics was “The Silver Rule” (or what I call the passive rule, as it concerns not doing something), and that I can Kant.  (I also learned that I love philosophy.)

What I learned from Poetry was that rhyme is limiting (take that, Robert Frost–I play dangerously without a net!), and that a person who wears a “Make America Great Again” hat wants to discuss more than mere poetry. I also learned that with workshopping, it’s wise to abide by the admonition of Cinderella, which is “to have courage and be kind.”

What I learned from English Composition II was how to write a research paper on a subject I knew nothing about (i.e. horses) and that Shakespeare is more fun to discuss than read. (I also learned that ratemyprofessors.com is pretty accurate.)

What I learned from Intermediate College Algebra was that I was not necessarily brilliant, but persistent enough to not allow the fear of algebra keep me from finishing college a second time.

What I learned from Security Awareness (besides finding a cure for insomnia) was that I could go viral (if not bacterial) on YouTube and make lots of money producing cat videos.

What I learned from Contemporary Literature is that a playful syllabus is indicative of a chill professor. (And a chill professor won’t take it personally if you kill him off in one of your stories. He just might laugh!)

What I learned from College Publications, Reporting, and working on the student newspaper is that I can make 24-hour deadlines. I learned that being a humor columnist would be my dream job (as I will never have a passion for reporting “ticker-tape news,” but for what comes after).

What I learned from medical coding classes what that I hate medical coding, but in learning that, I also learned that no education is ever wasted, for it took a wrong turn to get to the right one.

And what’s more, I learned that with a career and a family, it will take me longer to finish my education, but that’s okay, for as my college newspaper adviser says, “No one has ever asked me how long it took to get my Ph.D.”

There is time.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2017-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-20

 

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #317, Theme: Remember

This is more like prose, well, it is prose (which is really non-rhyming poetry, right?).  It’s sort of based on the theory that there is no reality, only perception, and on this quote I read about memoir writing.  Though we remember things that actually happened, we all remember them differently, just like no one reads exactly the same book.

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That Fuzzy Gray Area Called Memory

Remember when I was born and you were so happy?
I remember when you were born.

Remember your first day of school and you were so excited?
I remember being excited about leaving.

Remember when you were trying out for baseball and how hot it was?
I remember it being hot all the time.

Remember when you ate that hot dog and threw up all over Grandpa?
I remember throwing up all over Grandpa,
and not being able to eat hot dogs for a whole year.

Remember when you blew a bubble and got gum all in your hair?
I remember Mom crying while she shaved my head that time.
Are you sure it wasn’t a lollipop?

Remember when you graduated from high school and you were kind of sad?
I just remember being happy.

Remember when you went off to college and Mom was sad?
I remember being scared.

Remember when you met Anne and it was not quite love at first sight?
I’ve always loved Anne.

Remember your wedding day, and you were so nervous?
She was the one who was nervous.

Remember when you almost fainted while Marie was being born?
Guys don’t faint.

And the moral of this prose is simple:
This is why perfectly true memoirs are impossible to write.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #313, Theme: Evasive

I wrote a paper on medical emancipation last year for my Health Care Law class, and so evading aggressive, unnecessary treatment was the first thing that came to mind (well, besides taxes).  I don’t know how appropriate the title is, but I went with it, as sort of a play-on-words, even though this poem is of a serious nature.

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Taxing Treatment Evasion

The best years of my life
will not be my last.
It is not that I want to die–
I just don’t want to live this way.
I have not given up,
but given in.

I will die with as much dignity
as those that pursue treatment
that only prolongs,
but cannot cure.

My days will be fewer,
but the hours longer,
for I will walk in the cool green grass
of the evening at twilight,
rather than the cold, hard tile
of the floor of the hospital.

I will sit in my hammock under the shade tree,
drinking sweet tea or lemonade,
smelling the barbecue I can no longer taste,
rather than the odd odors of the oncology wing.

I will look upon the faces of my children
under the light of the golden sun,
rather than under long bulbs of milky light.

I will sleep to the sounds of crickets and bullfrogs,
and music on the patio outside my window,
rather than to the hum of machines,
the clack-clacking of carts on wheels,
the soft laughter of nurses in cheerful scrubs.

I will not give up the ghost in a gown
of hospital issue,
but I will embrace the Light
in satin and lace.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #312, Theme: Dead

 

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Dead Air

It was when the world went dark,
silent, but not still,
like the holding of a breath
during a home invasion,
seven something years ago,
that I was on my way to work,
listening to Dave talk about debt.

It was a day like any other,
but aren’t they always?
I listened to dead air
for thousands of seconds
before I turned it off,
so used to the voices was I–
the voices that made me feel
like I was a part of something more
than just my own life.
I was sharing in the joy of another young couple
paying off more debt than I could make in ten years.

It was August in Florida,
and when I got out of the car,
I felt like I was walking through a steam bath.
I used my cell phone to call my husband,
but there was no signal.
I picked up our landline,
but there was no dial tone.

I turned on the television.
Nothing.
I turned on my computer,
but again,
nothing.
No connection.
Communication was lost.

It was like “The Birds”,
this absence of technology–
like some kind of fog had flown over our town,
creating this quiet chaos.
Without constant communication,
it was like we were asleep,
like in “The Village of the Damned”.

The world as I knew it,
died that day,
but I wouldn’t know it for hours.
I suddenly felt very afraid,
for always before, anyone I loved
was just a phone call away.

When you came home,
you told me there would be no more
electronic communication for a long time,
if ever.
I thought of all my friends on Facebook–
some I couldn’t even remember where they lived,
and I felt they were lost to me forever.
It had been a long time since I’d ever really had to remember anything–
an address,
a phone number,
the meaning of a word.

The newspapers still managed to run,
but gone were the talking heads,
telling me how to think about what I heard.
I think I saw things as they really were for the first time.
Like the veil that we pass through when we’re born,
so that we forget from whence we came,
the veil of instant communication was parted that day,
and then disappeared like the mist.

Neighbors began to meet for coffee,
and there was a resurgence of books and poetry.
I saw teenagers playing outside,
and I rushed inside to grab my camera
to capture that perfect moment.
We began to relearn things we thought we had forgotten:
counting back change, cursive writing,
reaching out first in person without the screen-to-screen icebreaker.

The information superhighway was a pile of virtual rubble.
The news sites were replaced with newspapers,
the e-mail, with a handwritten letter,
for it seemed pointless to sit at a computer,
talking to no one.
I had to ask my husband where to put the addresses,
where to find the stamps.
I spent time looking across to the neighbor’s yard,
and saw children playing—
teenagers, no less.

Suddenly, the world which had seemed so small,
seemed so very large.
The other side of the world was like a dream
I could no longer imagine.
My children have never known a world like the one I had,
and I’m not sure they ever will.
Communication with a text,
a tweet,
is gone.

We speak now with our eyes,
our words,
our gestures;
not in memes,
or in 140 characters or less.
Characters.
It means what it used to mean.
I write a letter now,
the imprint of third-grade cursive
still engraved in my memory;
then I go to dust off the dictionary
to look up a word,
and I see not just the word I searched,
but the next word,
and the next,
until I have gone through all the C’s.

Somehow, a friend of mine found me,
and we managed to locate some of the rest.
Not all of us exchanged letters,
and even those that did began to feel so very far away.

The world I once knew is gone,
but this other world,
where the old has become new again,
is otherworldly.
I try to think when it was I stopped waiting,
hoping for the old way of life to return,
but I can’t remember;
I only know that it isn’t as bad as I would have thought,
for we humans are resilient.
We adjust,
we adapt,
we persevere.

Phoetry: Words and Pictures

My husband and I recently watched a movie called “Words and Pictures”, and it was mildly entertaining.  I am always interested in checking out a flick if one of the main characters is a writer, but you can’t beat “Misery”.  However, “W&P” was different.  The plot was about a male English teacher, and a female art teacher at a preppy high school, who start a war over words vs. pictures, which is more important?  Of course, there’s the whole “A picture is equal to 1000 words”, and an asinine love story (only thing I liked about it was that the woman was disabled and the man, though highly intelligent, was otherwise an average Joe).  It was one of those movies that focused more on creating quirky characters than characters you felt for, related to.  It was supposed to answer a question which no one asks because we all know the answer to it:  They are both equal, but different (like men and women).

I’ve just refreshed my Twitter account (according to most publishers, you need to have a strong online presence with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), and this movie (and this scholarship opp:  http://www.1800wheelchair.com/scholarship/) gave me an idea.  I would combine photography with brief poetry; while my photography is nothing to brag about, it gets the point across.  I do this because we are visual creatures and a phopoem (a poem on a photo) will catch a Twitterbug’s eye more than just a tweet.  I’ve already posted a few plain photos of poems (see:  https://twitter.com/SarahLeaSales), but this is my first “poetic thought” with a background.  I do believe it provides a nice contrast (I’ve always liked newsprint, etc., as a background).

Mightier than swords

Submission for the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize

So I am working (feverishly–after all, isn’t “genius” 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration?) on finishing up a collection of “medical poetry” for the aforementioned contest (I found it through a scholarship website, but I don’t think you have to be a student; it’s not a lot of prize money, but the entry is free).  The submission had to fit a theme, and since I had the most poetry written about medical anomalies, I went with it.

I’ll admit, I’m not much of a “theme” person–I like to just “write whatever” (as evidenced in this blog), but this was a real challenge and I love challenges (writing ones, that is).

The collection must be at least 20 pages, so this, I believe, would cover it.

Complexities of the Mind and Body

Table of Contents

The Last Dance (Huntington’s disease)
Petals in the Wind (Capgras delusion)
The Moon is Blue (depression; lobotomies; electro-shock treatment)
Raining Bullets on the Fourth of July (PTSD)
Ace in the Hole (compulsive gambling)
Jeremy Johnson (autism)
The Memory Thief (Alzheimer’s)
The Hells of St. Mary (multiple personality disorder)
The Daily Mirror (body dysmorphia)
The Annexation of Angela (chimeras)
Her Fearless Symmetry (OCD)
The Color of Happy (synesthesia)
Seven Beautiful Days with Genevieve (bi-polar disorder; suicide)
Chasing Summer (seasonal affective disorder)
Waiting for Huntington (self-explanatory; I did a lot of research on this disease, and there was enough material for a book of poetry)

Poem-a-Day Writer’s Digest Challenge #30. Theme: Bury the (blank)

Hooray!  Today was the last day of the poetry challenge, and I managed to (during finals month, at that) complete a poem every day on the day the assignment was given.  My last poem for this challenge was basically “Clue” meets “The Seven Deadly Sins”.  It’s a bit silly, but I had fun with it.

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Bury the Bodies

In the Lounge, Miss Scarlett clutches her Revolver,
the odor of gunshot residue following her to the Study,
only to find Professor Plum, her lusty lover,
sporting a necktie a lovely shade of hemp Rope,
his wrathful face wretched and ruddy.

Miss Peacock, her green-eyed mother,
who tried to kill her while she was eight months along,
is lying in the Library, next to a Wrench,
pieces of her brain matter decaying,
creating a monstrous stench.

Reverend Green, her uncle,
is crumpled in the corner of the Conservatory,
next to him, a Lead Pipe dripping with blood,
his pockmarked bald pate his distinguishing trait,
now surely dancing with the greedy in purgatory.

Mrs. White, her housemaid,
and her maid of dishonor,
who was lazy and fat with gluttonous sin,
is slumped over the console in the Hall,
Candlestick bent, with her head caved in.

Colonel Mustard, her second cousin,
whose pride was in big game hunting,
has a Knife broken in his chest cavity,
and is bleeding out in the Ballroom—
the epitome of depravity.

When she gazes into the mirror,
she sees all her different personalities–
the family members she murdered years ago at a party
fueled by their unfettered criminality.

She, having finally slaughtered them
with the weapon of her choice—
having heeded the voice,
runs to the Billiard Room to take her cue,
only to see that under the influence of a hot toddy,
she, with a bullet to his spine,
murdered poor Mr. Boddy.