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{March 28, 2017}   Scenic Overlook

view

Scenic Overlook

For some reason I have never been able to find a writing partner, someone who is not too much better than me or no worse than me, someone who writes in my style, who instinctively understands me, or at least wants to understand me. So when I have a bad day, I either put on the fake cheer on Facebook, which is acceptable to most people, or write in a vacuum to get my thoughts and feelings out, producing yet another poem to stick in a bulging notebook of unread, unpublished efforts.

So yesterday was one of those days for me and this is the result. I am taking the leap of sharing my poem here with whatever readers I have left (considering that I haven’t made my blog a priority for a long time or kept up with the people I used to follow faithfully).

SCENIC OVERLOOK

Some would say life has brought me backward.

I grew up poor in a rich town

where I had to hide my dark hair

beneath a golden hat, which only

made me feel hot and awkward.

Now I live poor in a poor town,

a place most of my old classmates

wouldn’t get caught dead in,

but at least I blend in:

another gray wisp of a cloud

on a sunless day,

another brown leaf on the ground

of a winter wood full of leafless trees

in muddy March

when spring’s new hope

feels like a crazy dream…

But I digress.

 

Yesterday I drove through some rich towns —

just looking —

not like an open-mouthed tourist

but like a coroner searching for clues to a death.

I examined the details as I saw them:

the handsome man with the perfect haircut

jogging on my side of the road

wearing clothes that I recognized

cost more than two week’s of my groceries,

(he forced me to the wrong side on a curve).

Then I pulled over to gaze at a view,

and to avoid the impatient BMW surging

at my back bumper, like the rough waves

against at the rocks at the beach

with the “No Trespassing” signs, whose beauty

I had to observe from afar.

 

But I will keep my scientist stance

because I don’t like the flavor

of bitterness.

I theorize the owners of these million dollar mansions

with empty yards would naturally

look like the jogging man because their parents

looked the same, and because beauty and wealth

go together like cut glass and cognac.

Why would hothouse plants live among weeds

that may choke them

to death?

 



{September 30, 2015}   A Wednesday Poem

shadows on windows

On and On

Life has been insistently busy the last few months and I all but abandoned my writing. This morning I pulled out my poetry notebook to jot down a couple of lines that came to me as I drove to the laundrymat, and I found this poem. Appropriately it’s Wednesday. So I thought I would share it. Never mind Mondays, can you tell I don’t like Wednesdays??

 

It’s Wednesday,

my week’s nemesis,

work’s dullest day.

It stretches like a desert

of time, the afternoon

especially dry and arid.

How to prepare for the journey?

What to bring,

not too heavy that

drags me to the ground

in the moisture-sucking air,

but keeps my parched brain

from cracking and splitting,

and able to savor

the respite when it is over?

copyright Susan Desrocher 2015




We are halfway through National Poetry Month and I haven’t posted a poem. Shame on me!

I decided to post one of my own today and share someone else’s before month end! Enjoy…

Clock made of Wood

Roy’s Clock

 

REMEMBERING ROY

On my wall, the clock Roy made

loses time every day, but I dutifully reset it.

I keep it for the picture of my grandmother

he varnished onto the pine wood tree slice

that reminds me of a knotty pine cabin

in the mountains of California she once owned,

a string to a memory of a summer visit there that made me soar with dreams and happiness.

I keep it to remind me of him.

The clock of Roy’s heart stopped long ago

in a tragic way:

he was run over by his own car

as he tried to stop it from rolling down a hill.

Our possessions sometimes betray us;

our death can be entwined with them,

just as our life is entwined with them,

like ivy running wild,

over time crumbling the very bricks

it is attached to.

Roy, maybe you knew this;

you thought you could bypass it

by giving away your dreams:

the bricks of your life repurposed.

I remember the day you turned us loose

in your garage of clocks;

you told us to take what we wanted.

After their crafting was done

and your time was spent,

they no longer affirmed your life

or made money to live on,

just collected dust.

With bitter generosity you let them go

 to pseudo grandkids,

like released birds you had once loved,

with hopes they would soar

somewhere you couldn’t.

Roy, I don’t even know where you are buried,

but across the country your clocks tick in small apartments,

twigs in the nests of lonely people;

where will they go from here?




Donald Hall, "Essays After Eighty"

Donald Hall’s latest book

Why would a fifty-something-year-old woman relate to the essays of an eighty-something-year-old man? Does that say something about him, about me, or both of us? This is not really a review, but a review of sorts; my stream-of-consciousness emotional reaction to his latest book. In all reality, just what a writer really wants…a confirmation of a connection made, not just an intellectual criticism of the writing.

I have always liked Donald Hall’s poetry, and when I read John Freeman‘s well-written interview with him in Poets and Writers (Nov/Dec edition) and read the excerpts from the book, Essays After Eighty, I was burning to read it. So off to the library I went.

Sitting down to read the first essay “Out the Window,” (without a window in sight) I can see what he sees — the old barn, the snow falling, the birds at the feeder — because he describes his view in vivid language, in a poet’s way. But I also feel what he feels — the isolation of New Hampshire in winter (having just been through the worst winter in my life in MA), feeling unable to do what used to be easily accomplished, and feeling abandoned by contemporaries and left to spend time with the ghosts of old ancestors (those to be joined sooner rather than later). His writing just seems to add credence to what I already know…why? Because my best friend right now is my mother, who is 86. I talk to her daily. She watches out the window when she can and has dreams of cooking and cleaning and doing things she can do now only with difficulty, so I understand the mindset and the feelings. That, and the fact that timing and circumstances took me out of challenging but ultimately satisfying work too young; I have felt abandoned by a changed world that no longer values my skills and my abilities ($9 to $10 an hour to proofread…really?), and no longer believes in my beliefs.

Donald Hall describes old age and aging as “…alien, and old people are a separate form of life. They have green skin, with two heads that sprout antennae…If we forget for a moment that we are old, we are reminded when we try to stand up, or when we encounter someone young, who appears to observe green skin, extra heads, and protuberances.”

And though I have some decades to go before I officially get to his age, I feel the separateness as he describes, as if I went to sleep and woke up on a planet I didn’t recognize, where I was suddenly an outcast, where suddenly people could see my antennae.

Well, that is easily rectified you might think: study the creatures of this new world and remake yourself to be like them. Hide those antennae or — better yet — cut them off. But I can’t do it, ugly as they seem to be, all of my beauty is there. And all the positive personal development books I read tell me to value them. They represent that last crumb of hope I still possess that someday another alien will show up at my door with their own antennae displayed in all their glory, smile, and come in and sit down for tea. Maybe that being will tell me of a colony of others like us, which still exists, and that my isolation has kept me from finding. And we will set out together, where the warm sun and exercise will make me feel 50 again. The gears of my mind will squeak and groan, at first reluctant with pain, but begin to chip off the rust and neglect, and then revel in something too long lost and left behind. But I digress…as old people do.

The book also contains an essay entitled “A Yeti in the District.” Each of the essays in the book ends with Hall’s tongue in cheek, a wry twist on what has come before. This one made me smile from ear to ear. Its truth reflected in my librarian’s reaction to my checking out of the book.

Mr Hall reminisces about trips he made to Washington DC over the years, including the year he was Poet Laureate, and the most recent trip to receive a National Medal of the Arts from President Obama. Let me be clear: the author is “scruffy” in his advanced years, but it doesn’t bother me (he looks much like my own brother!) In the “Yeti” essay, the author writes of the picture published in his local paper of him receiving the Medal. “Top of the first page was a photograph of the President looming over me, hanging the medal around my neck. My mouth is open in life’s widest smile as I confront the neatly dressed Obama in my sports coat and khakis, with my frizzy hair and reckless beard.”

He goes on to tell of the picture then being picked up by a blogger for the Washington Post named Alexandra Petri. “She identified me, called me a poet, and assured her audience that I was not a yeti. She announced a contest for a caption.” But of course in this age of Internet bullying, the picture brought in entry after entry “…gleeful with ridicule. Then there were reactions. I was praised and Ms. Petri was scolded. I was defended as a poet, and flattered despite my appearance.” He ends the essay with this: “…With our increasing longevity, Ms. Petri should live to be a hundred. May she grow a beard.”

Now back to my librarian. She handed me the book and said, “That’s quite the cover art,” with what I sensed as some distaste (and perhaps a little insult to me for wanting to read it??) I said, “well, yes, it is a bit of a close-up.” I chuckled to release the sense of “judgement(?)” I felt. And she went on, “Yes, I wouldn’t want to put that on my bedside table.” (I hadn’t read the book yet or I would have questioned whether she knew Ms. Petri?). This time I didn’t answer. And she still went on, “Yes, I wouldn’t want to put it on my bedside table because I would feel like someone was watching me.” I then made a judgment on her in return…You are a librarian and you are passing judgment on a Poet Laureate and Medal of the Arts winner???? But again, I digress.

Bottom line is that I enjoyed the book because I enjoy Donald Hall’s writing, his irreverence, and his sense of humor. I’m glad that after eighty he is still writing. And I hope there are plenty of people who won’t judge a book by its cover!




Stone wall

Walls Take Time to Build…and Dismantle

I am now calling myself a recovering writer, and I have photography to thank for it, but I’ll get to that later. Recovering from what you might ask? I have had a way-of-life-threatening case of writer’s block, resulting in my own personal Great Wall of China! The existence of Writer’s Block has been a topic on discussion boards and blogs for as long as they have been around…some people don’t believe the phenomenon exists. I think it does exist for some people and not for others. Some people see angels or ghosts, and some people don’t. I believe in writer’s block because I have unfortunately experienced it.

My wall has been truly impressive: years and years of perfectionism and expectations piled on top of each other, heavy and solid, leaving me unable to pick up my pen, no longer able to put words to my thoughts. Like the Tin Man, I became frozen in place.  My great wall was the physical manifestation of “missed opportunities,” a monument to my failure. Somehow I felt that building this monument was preferable to being mediocre; I suppose it gave me a “heroic” stature in my own mind. And yet… it was making me miserable not to write because it was clearly a passion or I wouldn’t have written all that I have written since a pen or pencil was put into my hand.  I couldn’t seem to resolve this problem. But then…I just walked away for a while; I did something I wanted to do instead of what I felt compelled to do. And now I hear the Ronald Reagan “presidential” voice in my head saying that it is time to “tear down that wall”! And I am seeing some daylight; I pulled out an old poem the other day and worked on it. I sat down to write this post, and not just “toss something out there.”  Thus, the title of “recovering writer.”  Now for the benefit of those readers who may be building their own wall, let me get to the “how” part. Read the rest of this entry »




New Moon Storm

It was a dark and wet ride home last night, a new moon Nor’easter,

But I was tired enough to sleep through the night without hearing it.

This morning the cat was hidden somewhere she thinks is safe;

I’d like to hide myself there too, I think.

But this morning my prayer group email is entitled “Clarity,”

and it seems true.

The Universe seems to be aligned,

I think there is also an eclipse.

Fitting that the trees have been cleared of leaves,

Their structure revealed, a kind of clarity,

My life changes revealed, I feel a surge of creativity.

After months of distractions and busy-ness,

I know what I want to say and I want to blab it!

But I have to work.

Ironically these are the days when it is hardest to work –

High energy days when it is almost impossible to stay where I am,

To sit and stay focused.

I’m like a horse pawing the ground,

Resenting the bridle and the rider, work and responsibility,

Let me go, says the voice inside,

Let me go with the wind and the leaves…

 

P.S. This was written totally off the cuff as a stream of consciousness in response to the Daily Post Prompt: Ready, Set, Done, so excuse grammatical and punctation problems…take it for what it is. It is written like a poem because it seemed liked random thoughts to me as a they came…more like a poem than prose. Hope you enjoy it!



{June 11, 2014}   Working through a Migraine

puddle with pollen

Pollen Murking up the Puddles

I had a rough day at work yesterday; the thunderstorms and weather change brought on a migraine at a busy time. My stress at being unable to control what is happening to me exacerbates it, but it is hard to calm myself down. I know no one on the outside knows what is happening inside my head; I fear they think I am stupid when I can’t get things right. Can anyone relate?

This poem is what I got out of a bad day.

Migraine

When it comes, the torture begins:

I am plunged under water and

struggle to do the simplest thing –

Breath, hold on –

as the numbers and words enter

my whooshing ears,

they are dashed around

inside my head,

flipped over against

the rocks of pain over my eyes;

behind them, I mentally write white

upon a black backdrop

so I can see what I hear,

try to send them in a slow-motion rush

through my hands, through my pen,

backwards like a photo negative,

Black on white –

Make sense, I pray,

please

make sense,

hang on

until you are released

and the water recedes.



{May 19, 2014}   Virtual Blog Tour

My current morning pages notebook

My current morning pages notebook

My friend and incredible photographer, Susan Licht, recently invited me to take part in a virtual blog tour. I first “met” Susan by discovering her beautiful blog and then discovered we had a mutual friend on Facebook! (Despite the massive size of the Internet, it’s still a small world!) We have many interests in common including literature, gardening, music, nature and photography. We could have met each other years ago through our mutual friend, and sometimes I wish we had.

So…my thanks to Susan for asking me to be part of this blog tour and involving me in this slightly different way of learning about other bloggers’ creative processes, of finding some new blogs recommended by people I respect, and of being able to introduce some of the bloggers I enjoy and give them a little extra support.

The “work” part of this blog tour involves answering the following questions about your creative process, so here goes:

1) What am I working on?

Too many things! Recently I had been trying to send out some of my poetry to publications. The last time I had poems “officially” published was in the 90s, though I do support a local poets community and go to open mike events. Although I publish some poems on this blog, I “keep” what I consider the best ones, seeking a more prestigious home for them than my blog. 🙂 I will probably end up self-publishing…sending work out seems to be too much like a dating service. I have also joined some photography groups, hoping for an inexpensive way to learn Photoshop. I take pictures almost every day for Last Train to QVille, though I don’t post every day. I tend to walk in the same area so it is a challenge to find new ways of looking at the same scenery.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Anyone who reads positive self-development blogs and books has probably read over and over that we are all unique. I still struggle with the answer to that question. The easy answer is that I was an only girl growing up amongst 6 boys! But beyond that I suppose part of my uniqueness is that I am interested in so many unrelated things…I have held a lot of different jobs in my life: from working at a movie theater (doing everything from selling tickets to popping corn and cleaning the theater) to working in offices. I worked in the garden dept at Home Depot; I’ve been an usher supervisor for concert venues, a legal secretary, an editor, and now I am working in the wine industry and as a part-time hostess at a restaurant…totally unrelated things. This translates into meeting people from all walks of life, which is a great thing for someone who likes to write.

3) Why do I write/create what i do?

Well, bottom line is that I love to create and I live to create. When I’m not creating, I’m miserable. My creativity most often takes the form of  poems because I have been expressing my feelings that way for over 35 years and it is second nature to me. It is an integral part of the way I process my life and connect with others. And I love beauty and nature, so I take pictures to capture and remember moments in time and the beauty I see daily.

4) How does my creative process work?

I have many different notebooks that I jot down ideas in. I journal every day. I read other people’s blogs and see which directions their work sends me. I write about whatever strikes me on any given day.

NOW comes the best part of this post: my recommendations for other blogs to check out. Another reflection of my eclectic job history and interests, the blogs I read regularly are very different, but all great.

Louisa May Alcatt takes her name from the author of Little Women; her “pub” writes interesting posts about women in history at her blog: Suffragette kitty

Peter S, former ad man chronicles his life as a stay-at-home dad through the antics and eyes of his son, Mr. C.

Queenie, as her name might suggest, is from the U.K., a former dance teacher with a bucket list, a camera and a good sense of humor.

Not sure if any of them will be following through on this tour, though. 😦  I know it is a time commitment that we can’t all manage.

Finally, I’m adding this on my own, one of the bloggers I wanted to recommend had participated in a blog tour right before I could ask her! So I’m throwing in a link to her post for good measure. Meet Beeblu!

Happy reading everyone!



{March 24, 2014}   Daily Prompt: Sixteen Tons

Geez…this prompt gave me an earworm I couldn’t get rid of all day: “You load sixteen tons, whadda ya get? Another day older and deeper in debt…”

I once worked with a guy who put notes to himself on his day calendar every few weeks. Just when he might not be thinking about it, he would turn the page, and there it would be: “You are still there?? Are you kidding me?” or “Do you have any soul left or has it been completely sucked out?” He showed me a couple one day. I thought it was pretty funny, in a dark way.

I wrote a pretty dark poem myself many years ago when I didn’t like my job. I thought it fit the prompt, so here it is:

Monday Morning Hike

 When I park my car

the music stops.

I shuffle to the front door

of my brick purgatory

a little late,

head down,

watching my feet

go through the motions.

At the front steps

a pack is

put on my back–

every soldier’s companion;

gravity pulls

my shoulders earthward;

a groan slips out

as I yank open

cumbrous glass doors.

With every step

down the stale hall,

my pack gets heavier.

I imagine the silent

figures I pass

loading me up

behind my back,

as I struggle along,

bound for my trench.

By the time I reach

that terminus

my canteen is empty;

any weekend peace

it held drained away.

Another deadend

week has begun.




The Daily Prompt mentions dishes, but I don’t mind doing dishes or any basic cleaning. Most physical cleaning chores can be performed in an almost meditative way.

Files

My most disliked chore is anything to do with paperwork and any chores involving sorting, filing, and organizing. I find making decisions about what to keep and what to throw out difficult, tiring and tedious. This leads to stacks of paperwork and canvas bags full of papers that have to be periodically sorted. I have the best of intentions, but I just can’t find time for EVERYTHING I am interested in.

As a writer, I keep every draft of a piece of work (still too often a hard copy), because I can have a tendency to over-edit, or rewrite a poem so extensively that it becomes a COMPLETELY different poem. At any given time I can go back to the original draft and send it in a different direction and create a different poem. And I have to admit, I can become fascinated with analyzing the process.

I know, I should be embracing the electronic age. Technology has been around long enough and has progressed far enough that I should be rid of this paper by now, but I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Weaning myself away from paper products, be they books or notebooks, is hard work. And unfortunately, I suffer from the same problems on my computer…too many emails, too many files, too many versions of things…SIGH



et cetera
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