Monday, December 22, 2014

Poem: I saw them as well

Those crows you spoke of --
I saw them.

Winging agitatedly
across the graying mackerel sky.

I did not see the wounded raven
or the family of rabbits.

Because I had no dog with me
as you had
pulling and scenting and chasing.

So I have seen what you saw.

I wonder why the crows
cawed so loudly
why the darkening day
sent them
flying back and forth
their shadows dotting the winter sky.

I do not wish to see them again.
Whatever their purpose
I do not want to know.

Nor do have I cause to find the dead raven.
Nor do I want to see the limping hare
hobbling toward its family in its hutch.

But I wanted to tell you
so you would know
that I'd heard you
and your sleeptalk of the crows.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Poem: Watching Lee Jun Ki dance

So then...
if we stand outside of an ugly emotion

and peruse it

without guilt,
without self-recriminations
without moralizing

We can see the need
that birthed it.

So then...
this bitterness, this envy 
-- and do not tell me
that suffering makes the soul purer.
It does not!--

this bitterness, this envy
rose and continue to rise
from a pure need.

Again, I will not judge myself.
I only wish to be well.

Today I saw a body move effortlessly
across the dance floor
a beautiful body full of life and joy.

I fought against envy.
Being old, I fought against despair.
Being sickly, I fought against envy and anger.

I sat and watched
and managed to rejoice
in that one's lightness and youth.

I couldn't quite hope.
But I didn't hate either.
And I managed to smile.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Poem: Ten poems on Lee Soo Hyuk (my ICB)

Yesterday, early-early, I opened my computer:
you were there.
A glimpse, merely
But later, all my thoughts were of you.

Men should not be so beautiful
Or old women so lustful.

As a teenager, I loved David Cassidy,
Edward Albert Jr, Martin Sheen, Jan-Michael Vincent
Forty years later, I'm scouring websites
for stories of you
If I had a grand-daughter, I would steer her to you


I want to be a vowel in your mouth: caressed

In the teaser,
You walked across your studio,
eyes moist from welling tears
On the window pane raindrops trailed;
Teaser indeed:
I wished you were not for me.

You make me smile
Jae-rim makes me laugh;
why should i love you so much
you who only make me smile?

A fragile delicate beauty
milk-white skin
some hidden unspoken pain
eyes that become narrow slits when you smile
and I am suddenly lost.

I did not like suits
until you wore them
you've made me shallow.

Surrounded by your friends
all as young as you
all as beautiful
but even there you stand out:
why has my heart chosen you?

My friend asked me what "ICB" meant:
I gave her the literal definition
"Imaginary Celebrity Boyfriend"
The metaphorical meaning
only old women understand.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Poem: Crying for myself

This morning I cried for my life
and how the body betrays --
that the soul wants so much to wander
but the physical body cages.

Once I envied the sprinter
the casual ascender of many stairs
the dancer
the mother who chases her errant child
down rows and rows of city blocks without apparent fear

while i dreaded to rise from bed
fearful my heart would fail

I am so tired now, frail
but no envy
just grief, grief, and regret
that thirty years have been spent in illness.

Thirty years too soon.
Sixty years too soon.
I should not have gotten so old
at such a young age.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Poem: Fall comes suddenly

In the five years since you've moved here
your steps have gotten slower.

All evening, I kept looking at you.
There must've been pity in my eyes.
You walked so slow.

I turned to look at you last night
in the parking lot.
The air was so crisp last night
the leaves swirling about in eddies around our feet

Twenty years we've known each other;
Please live another twenty.
I want my friend always at my side.
In twenty years time, will I be as frail as you?

Remembering how you turned the steering wheel
I think of how relentlessly time turns.

I want to shout to your children:
Be careful with her, she's getting old.
But I can't do that.
You might hear. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Poem: The Princess and the frog

Some frogs do not become princes
no matter how long the kiss
how deep the love.

We must tell our daughters this
especially if they are kind-hearted
especially if they are loyal.

Some fairy godmothers
must challenge us
and lock us in chains
to prevent us from attending the prince's ball.

We old women must acknowledge this.

This is not something that can be told to princes
They don't listen
And they rarely believe that they were truly frogs.
And they tend to believe in their supposed transformation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Being both a Reviewer and Author

I have a somewhat harsh review coming out next month on Fantastic Stories of the Imagination 

Well....harsh for me.

As a reviewer and an author, I'll just say:

1) I hate being given a bad review. But if it's a bad review, I like it if the reviewers actually offer constructive criticism. I tend to do that when I review. I like it if a reviewer is fair and knowledgeable about themselves and their own biases (especially when it comes to race, sex, and religion.)

I've challenged reviewers about three or four times. All  those challenges I considered valid:

I once had a white reviewer lecture me on what Africans really think and why my story Changeling  was so bad and so entirely wrong for Griots, the african anthology it was in. Apparently I -- a black woman-- didn't know African culture as well as she --a white woman who had travelled to Africa-- did. All the Africans I knew loved my story by the way. In addition this reviewer named what she thought was the best story: the only story written by a white woman. I answered her review/bog and said it was interesting that the story she considered the best was the only story in the african antho that was written by a white woman. She didn't know the story she loved was the only story written by a white person but I could only think that she had been trained to like certain types of writing and was unaware how deeply inculturated she was while she was challenging me on culture. So I had to call her on it.

Another reviewer (Neth) hated one of my novels (Wind Follower) and said he couldn't finish it because nothing happened in it. He said among other things he was tired of women being saved by men. I answered him that it isn't a good idea to review a book one could not finish, that the format of that novel was a romance and romances had different rules, and reminded him that just because he wassick of women being saved doesnt mean blck women are sick of it. Black women saved by heroic princes was new for us. We were always the mules of the world and our vaginas were not on pedestals. So should minorities who are now just getting their literary voices shut up because white folks have"already said that." I was right but I shouldn't have done tht because some bloggers like seeming important. To this day this blogger/reviewer posts my comments everywhere. I've been told that other bloggers dislike him because he likes to feel important and probably loves it that an author challenged his review.

One reviewer said she would "anthropology geek" me and correct me about Wind Follower and various folklore issues. She began complaining about what was wrong with my anthropology. I just said no! She concluded I was touchy about my writing and said, "Well, some writers like being told where their mistakes are so they don't do it again." But the truth was that if I create a fantastical world with its own religions, cultures, histories, and social mores -- how can someone come in and tell me about folklore when it's my anthroplogy in my own created world was wrong?

The last reviewer I challenged hadn't been so bad at all...he had "kinda liked it" but he was still dismissive about the writings of a black woman fantasy writer and I hated that dismissiveness. Moreover, I had been so suicidal and depressed while writing that novel that it hurt to see someone dismiss the novel (Wind Follower) that had helped me commit to live.

So I try my best as a reviewer to remember how a bad review feels. I critique many stories by writer friends and I am a tough critiquer. So when I review published books I tend to fall into critiquer/beta reader mode. The trouble with this mindset is that the book I'm reviewing is already published by the time it's in my hand. When I find myself getting annoyed with the book's editor for not helping the writer, I feel the harsh relief is valid. Because I know I care about the writer's future books.  Will see how it all comes out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Speculative Fiction Blog hop catch up

Yep, i totally need to catch up.

Amelia Smith 
Amelia is working on a five-volume epic fantasy series with an allegorical slant. The story follows a group of friends as they grow up in a world falling apart. Book One, Scrapplings, starts just before the main characters meet and covers their first season together.

Here's the link to the whole post:

S B James.

SB, who is a steampunk author, blogs about her writing process and her series, The Inventor's Son. SB is also planning to do a mash-up of zombie tropes. Bring it on!

Here's the link to the whole post:

Dean F. Wilson.

Dean is the latest author to take up the story of his writing process.

Dean is the author of the fantasy series The Children of Telm, and short stories about The Memory Magus. He is now working on a steampunk novel (yay!).

Says Dean:
I write in the fantasy genre because of the freedom it gives me to tell amazing stories that are, on the surface, fantastical, but underneath explore real human issues.
Here's the link to the whole post:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Poem: How to speak to the dying

Do not tell them, "You will live."

They have already seen utter darkness or glorious light

and they will despair and fall inside themselves

because they are not believed.

People don't like being disbelieved.

So you must acknowledge that they are ending

and put aside your own comfort and your need to comfort

and hear them out.

But you must not sit there like a log either.

You have a heart; engage.

You must talk as well.

This is important whether or not the dying is able to speak.

If they are awake or in a coma.

At all times you must make your presence known.

Your full presence, I mean.

You must not be absorbed in the television show

hanging atop their hospital bed.

Even if it's the last of the ninth in the world series.

Except of course, if they are absorbed.

And then, if they are watching the game,

You must gauge yourself

match lightness to lightness, frivolity to frivolity, emotional heft.

If they attempt to resolve some hurt between you

be brave and honest and resolve it.

There is not much use holding a grudge against the dead

but be aware sometimes the dying are still selfish

Although they know they should not be

Although they know they are quite wrong

And have perhaps lived cruel lives.

If they continue to do harm

even on their death bed

challenge them;

why should the weak, frail, and dying

still have power to harm you?

But you must not be the one

to dig up old bones

or to remove skeletons from closets;

I see no point in being cruel.

Particularly if the dying are old and set in their ways.

Why do you think your words will enlighten them now

when words have been useless for so many years?

But you must speak of other things,

the good things in your heart

the loss you will feel when they are gone.

And when the dying goes silent,

And the monitors proclaim death's power

you must continue speaking.

For the soul does not immediately leave the body

synapses do not immediately stop firing.

Tell them you will see them again. . .soon.

Tell them to visit you in dreams. . .

Monday, September 08, 2014

Speculative Fiction Writing Blog Hop: Carole McDonnell

Hi all:

I'm up today for the spec-fic blog hop:
Thanks to  Jessica Rydill, author of Malarat and Children of the Shaman  for telling me about this blog hop.

 Here's a review of one of her books: 

The person who came before me in this blogpost was Harry Manners. Harry Manners is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. A Physics student and obsessive reader, his debut release is the epic post-apocalyptic fantasy trilogy, theRuin Saga. He lives in Bedfordshire, England with his family. When he's not writing, he studies Physics at the University of Warwick, reads a ton-load of books, and generally nerds out—for which he is staunchly unapologetic.

His book is Ruin (Ruin Saga 1) and here's the blurb:
It's been forty years since the End. The world lies in ruins; empty, and quiet. Famine is rife, society is on the brink of failure, and the last survivors are dying. When a barbaric horde bands together to conquer the British Isles, those determined to save the remnants of civilisation must stand against them, as the last war of mankind begins. Here is his post from last week

Thanks to all for including me in this blog hop.

My name is Carole McDonnell

1. What am I working on?

I'm currently working on several fantasy novellas and a YA contemporary fantasy called My Life as an Onion. I've been working on Onion for ages. I tend to write epic fantasy. But this urban-fantasy novella popped up and I couldn't turn my attention from it. Onion is my dumpcake novel. I'm dumping all my neuroses and issues into it. I'm also working on a few novels.

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

My work tends to be rooted in Christian cosmology and are about tribal and racial dynamics. Folks who have never read me often think my stories would be exclusionary because I am so concerned with race and religion. But after they've read my stories, they find them very universal. My stories are pagan, anthropological, multicultural, and Christian epic fantasy. Yet they transcend race and religion. My characters are Black but my stories are not really afro-centric, although they have racial concerns. My genre is called sword and soul. Even when I write steamfunk -- the black equivalent of steampunk-- my stories transcend race.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I've always found the world to be quite magical. To write anything that is purely mainstream or which happens in a closed universe seems false and untrue to me. I thought Christian fantasy was too European and white. I thought black scifi was too African. I wrote Wind Follower because I wanted to write pagan epic fantasy. I wrote The Constant Tower because I wanted to write a fantasy that didn't use European archetypes.

4. How does my writing process work?

Sometimes I dream of a character or characters. Sometimes an idea looms in my mind and won't go. Sometimes I get a vague, dimly-seen setting or premise that persists. If the idea persists, I just write and see where the story goes. In the beginning, I trust my subconsciousness, serendipity, coincidence, and whim, to bring everything together. I only start taking control of the story in the editing/rewrite phase...which is after I see how the story is presenting itself.

My stories present themselves in little snippets. Usually at night. I go to bed and thoughts come to me about what else to add into the plot. Corrections also come this way. Even if I'm not thinking about a story, my mind often is. I suddenly get informed by my mind that something needs to be clarified, changed, added. I end up with a mental list of stuff to do on all my WIPs.  Sometimes I keep paper and pen by my bedside so I won't forget (and so I can sleep.) In the mornings, I get up and work on a story with the intention of clearing this list. I try to clear my mind of everything that came to it during the night. Usually, the list has ideas for all my current WIPs.  So after I've finished updating one story (with the stuff on my list), I go to the next WIP and then the next...whether a review, a religious nonfiction book, a short story or a novel. After my mind is emptied of all the new twists, plot advances, review commentaries, I continue writing because the new stuff usually has opened new avenues in each of the stories. If I'm writing a novel or story, I often listen to music. I also fill my day with watching korean dramas or listening to sermons on the internet.

After a story has advanced about five or so pages, I go back to see what kind of world i have.

I love worldbuilding. The truest worldbuiling is to make the world similar to ours: for instance re: religion: some areas will be very religious and some areas very scientific where some scientists might believe in magic/spirits and some don't. It's best to make it a world where folks behave similarly to those on earth:

The people to be found in any country include: indigenous population, newly-arrived immigrants, descendants of sojourners/immigrants, travelers on business, travelers for pleasure, slaves from other races/cultures, descendants of those slaves/servants, descendants of conquerors (if the indigenous population aren't the majority population), outlaws/refugees/fringe people/illegals fleeing other countries. Then there are people who are part of these groups but who create a subset all their own..such as the disabled of all races, the poor of all races, the outcast from all races, classes, caste, and status. And, yes...there are also other (non) human races to deal with: spirits, faes, malevolences, things inorganic, organic, living, dead, material, spiritual, in between.

Technology often connects to wealth as well. A poor fisherman in a village might just have a little boat, a rich merchant in a large town: The fisherman can afford a boat that runs on steam... and both would have different or maybe similar ceremonies when going out for long voyages. Depends on their culture, their wealth, their legal status.

I write until the story sorts itself out. I tend not to lay clues, hints, foreshadowing because i really don't know what's going on in my stories. But if I see anything that needs amplifying or correcting or streamlining, as I discover the world I'm building, I tweak. I always try to present all aspects of a culture so when i figure out the religions, castes, clans, class, technologies I try to put in people from all permutations of those castes and religions.

I tend to go where the love is. If i find my heart leaping when a character is mentioned, then I go with that as a main character. Sometimes I realize a character is also a main character or an important character because i love him so much. That's what happened with Ephan in The Constant Tower. Originally he was a warrior, but after I described him I fell in love with him. And when I discovered (in the fifth or so draft) that he was an albino, I realized that this culture treated albinos differently than warriors. But it was Ephan's personality that caused all that.

I also drop into my story whatever might serendipitously pop up in the day. So if i discover a curious fact on the news that day, I slip it into the story, trusting everythng will all come together. I also try to write down every thought that comes to me about the story ...even if it's out of order. So I end up using a lot of placeholder scenes. If a placeholder scene takes place in the "future,"  i write the scene in the end of the document or find a place in the latter part of the story where that scene might take place. Then on that sme day I go back through the draft to plant little references to lead to the placeholder scene. I try to link everything I'm writing to stuff already written, and stuff that is supposed to be written. It keeps me from forgetting plot threads and characters.

In the editing phase, i often reassign dialogues, characters, even chapters because I realize they belong elsewhere. I turn infodumps into dialog, description, internalization. If I've made any generalizations about a person or a world or a situation, i try to make scenes where the generalizations are shown in a specific manner. I try to see if there are missing scenes, or a missing chapter, missing plot threads, or a missing sentence. If I discover lost threads or missing threads, I find a point in the story where I can fix that. Then I layer the new plot-thread into the story, fusing it into the rest of the novel and interweaving it.  I like finding these great moments when the new layer merges perfectly well into the old WIP. That always feels like destiny, as if the layer I discovered had always been there --and was just waiting for me to find it.

After i've written a story, i send copies to beta readers. While they crit the story, I make sure all pronouns are used properly. Words like he, his, this, that, there,  are made more specific so there is no confusion about pronoun referrents. I try to make every setting, person, description clearer.

That's about it.

Next up Dean F Wilson  whose blog  will be up on 

Dean F. Wilson was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1987. He started writing at age 11 and has published an epic fantasy trilogy called The Children of Telm (The Call of Agon, The Road to Rebirth, and The Chains of War), in addition to several poems and short stories. He is currently working on a new steampunk series. Dean has also worked as a journalist for TechEye, VR-Zone, ITProPortal, TechRadar Pro, and The Inquirer.

Previous Posts: 

Jessica Rydill:
Jamie Maltman:
Marilyn Peake:
Nic Wilson:
David Pagan:
Travis Hill:
Cherise Kelley:
RJ Crayton:
Sandra K. Williams:
S. Elliot Brandis:
Elle Chambers:
William D. Richards:
Michael Patrick Hicks:
Cat Amesbury:
Heidi Garrett:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Poem: The dark

I fear it's the same as in the old days
Do Jamaican parents still delight in terrorizing their children?

I'd like to forgive it
to say that my mother and her siblings were country folk
so as they laughed like idiots
at making their children tremble in fear
they were ignorant --
not aware that they were building a cavern of fear in our souls.

It's hard, though.

I can forgive the lies they told.
Yes, they were conscienceless in the way they
told self-serving stories to keep their children in line.
I can forgive that.

I can forgive their beatings
and the belts they named:
Stinger with its metal-tip,
Scorpion with its cruel sting.
I can forgive that.

Because they were country folks 
and whuppin was what they did cause they loved you
and wanted to set you on the right path.

But the fear and trembling I strive to forgive.

Because there was spite in their cruel power
when they told us of cruel ghosts inhabiting the dark
when they lay in wait behind walls -- belts in hand-- ready to strike
when they told us what happened to little girls
who do not listen to their mothers and who did not wipe their hands properly

because they had such petty joy in creating terror in us,
because surely there was some other way to make themselves powerful in their own eyes --
other than stampeding kids' hearts.

Because even now the cavern of fear they built inside me
is still operational
when the phone rings
when the mailman comes
when I feel some sudden change in my body.

Because these are seeds 
my mother, aunts, and uncles planted in me
and all that terror
all that fear
is still ingrained
and ever blossoming in me.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Poem: Spin

I'm not wise enough

or insightful enough

to see beyond

the web of the cultural narratives

being spun above ny head!

I cannot push an envelope

if I'm unaware of its size

or go outside a box

if I don't know its shape

but I'm wary of

how certain stories are framed --




I cannot, will not, challenge.

I wouldn't know where to begin.

Nor am I particularly argumentative...

but yes,


I suspect Spin!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

poem: the ones who bring us joy

In the sermon of an ancient writer, a Puritan,

we are commanded

always to pray

for those who entertain us:

the lovely, the witty, the beautiful.

For they give us joy, he said.

It's true.

We use them.

Their wit, their prettiness.

Then we go on our way.

There is someone, very lovely,

beautiful to look at,

whom I have loved.

He lives in my daydreams

and sexual fantasies.

An object.

And I must rememdy this.

Because the beautiful are not made

to inhabit my fantasies.

They live and breathe and grieve and fear.

So, yes, beginning today

I will begin to pray for this person

this lovely beauty

who has

for six months

been my object of desire,

my  desired


Monday, August 11, 2014

Poem: The nakedness and helplessness of sleep

And nightly,

the nakedness and helplessness of sleep


shed ourselves of clothes and fears.

lying in bed

blankets our only cover. . .

we unarm ourselves of

day's vigilance. . .

our eyes and ears

put away

like sentries removed from duty.

letting go

of self-care. . .

trusting that we're


into invisible but capable Arms.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I must learn this

A writer friend I greatly helped and whom I taught has betrayed me. She who I introduced to editors and publishers and whose work I pored over to help her perfect it. She is the one who has betrayed me.

I see her work everywhere now, in anthologies and on websites; Her name is praised on the lips of friends who know nothing of our falling-out. I must keep silent. It's the way of the world. To speak up against her would be considered bad form...perhaps even petty. So the thing will go unknown, and she will continue to use and break more hearts and backs.

The world is full of injustice but I remind myself that it is also full of grace. I'm glad of this grace--this world where undeserved favor flows out from God without care for holiness.

"Solomon wrote that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong or bread to the wise nor riches to men of understanding but time and chance happens to them all."... I've been blessed in many ways that I honestly don't deserve. So, all Praises to our gracious God.

I must try to see clear..that I may clear my heart from this bitterness. The world is full of false friends and smooth betrayers who have convinced themselves that all we have is rightly theirs.

Therefore -- with regards to grace-- we are like them, and they are like us.

They, like us, have received stuff we do not deserve...while others more talented, holy, wiser than we are have been shafted. It's a shame. But we humans like the idea of worth and deserving. So then I can praise (when the grace is toward me) and weep (when grace is shown toward cruel and heartless people) at unfairness of life, all the time resisting the urge to belittle the undeserving, the lucky, or the blessed. I must learn this.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Impossible Dreaming

Some impossible dreams are hard to even imagine. My mind literally cannot imagine them. And then there are the impossible dreams that can be imagined, walked in, revisited. At nights, I revisit mental worlds I've made. Whether the imagined world was created for a story or as a nighttime sexual fantasy or was born in regret, a might-have-been shoulda-coulda parallel life.

These wishes and daydreams play so easily across my mind's eye. They are so solid that I can enter and leave them at any time, at will. Because they have been my parallel life for so long and are so inhabited and lived in. The strange thing is that these fantasies are utterly, utterly impossible. In them I am usually young and thin, healthy and unencumbered by anything from my so-called "real" life. And even those daydreams in which I allow my present self to roam old and fat, the task of entering the daydream of the alternate reality is eerily easy.Yet I don't expect to see these dreams manifest any time in my life. Because parallel lives are only possible in the mental world, and turmnng back time in order to choose a different not something our physicists have much power over. I may believe in string theory and multiverses but this particular me is physicially locked inside this particular universe on this unchangeable irrevocable path.  The everpresent God alone is capable of being and doing in the simultaneous past, future, and present.

There are impossible dreams thar I cannot even imagine, though. At those times, it's as if my mind cannot, for instance, release itself from the actual to dare to dream or imagine better things. Try as I might, I cannot see myself well. I cannot see my son well. Even to mind balks.  

I sit on my bed and attempt the What-if? Game. What if I were suddenly well? What if my son could talk and suddenly stopped being sickly? What would I do? I try to imagine us bicycling through the town together. I can't do it. I try to imagine him speaking. I can't do it. Whch is strange. I have spent hours in bed daydreaming of parallel lives, of incidents and people who do not exist...of people who do exist but who would never love me...of strange speculative fiction worlds far from earth. I know those strange impossibilities so well.

But to have faith hope for some possible good..some possible outcome of a longstanding, my mind cannot conceive, cannot sow, cannot plant, cannot water..such thoughts.

I'm thinking of a sweepstakes in college and a friend who wanted a blender, the second prize. The first prize was a bicycle. This friend simply decided that she would pray for the blender then believe she had received it. Pics of the blender were all over her house. She talked about where she should put "her" blender. The day of the sweepstakes, all the entrants were in the college hall. Before the winning name was announced for the blender, my friend had already risen from her seat and was walking to receive it. Of course she won the blender! The universe had gotten the word that it was aready hers. Her mind and the blender had become one in God's mind. I've had two other friends lilke that...folks who simply believe that good will come to them because God is taking of them...folks who are constantly winning sweepstakes, getting gifts, lucking out, riding serendipity and coincidences.  

Is this why hope is called a discipline by the saints? Must we train ourselves to daydream good things? Must we gather all our mental strength to simply believe we are loved and made to receive good from a universe with a kind-heart at its center? Is that what the greatest battle of faith is? To trust in a God who has created a world where good flows naturally..if we can only rest in that flow? 

St Paul encourages us to have useful imaginations. But how easy has it been for me to train my imagination to ponder worlds and events that cannot happen...yet to have no skill or discipline to dream that things in this actual world will get better.  Can I attain to the renewal of my imagination and my mind ...even now? Can I learn to sit still and to imagine the far-fetched coming true in actuality? Can I own the skill of willfully erasing all the negative images my pessimistic fears have painted? 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Poem: Sunflowers in Fall


and along the pathway,

the tall once-sturdy sunflowers slump

like weary veterans of some cosmic war.

Some, beheaded in summer,

still seem to beckon to passersby.

Others with drooped heads

seem to mourn their decapitated comrades.


its stem bent twisted because of

so many twistings

and battles against poles and fences that hid the sun,

looks up at the others

like an arthritic pacifist

who stayed on the homefront avoiding war

yet who nevertheless...

is haunted by it. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Like sheep having no shepherd

Every now and then the power of this imagery just grabs me viscerally...the whole lost sheep metaphor for lost humanity.

Thig is, so many Christians think of a lost sheep as someone who is confused about right and wrong. Thus, after they get saved, they don't feel like lost sheep anymore because they now "know" what is right and are now on the "right" path.  Other than this being very close to legalism, there is another problem: the fullness of the metaphor is so shrunk and minimized to mean "goodness" that much of the whole existential sorrow of the metaphor is "lost."

The plain fact is that even when we are no longer "lost" in sin, we are still lost in the world.

The Bible states: "It is not in man who walks to direct his steps." This verse implies that a person is on a path, but even then...we need One who has a larger view of life, time, earth, everything, direct us.

Other verses tell us: There is a way that seems right to a man but the end of that way is death.
And: Lean not to your own understanding.

The picture God gives us of humans is a pitiful one; sheep running hear and there, listening to the wrong shepherds, drinking from dirty water, sheep being pitifully confused.

When one looks at the food industry and the health industry for instance, one sees how pitiful human rationale thought, human comprehension, human history all are. With each generation new "progress" is made which is supposedly an advance in knowledge. Then the great minds of the following decades refute that earlier wisdom.

So in one generation we are told to avoid natural fats like butter and coconut oil and to eat carbs primarily and margarine and trans-fats. Then after all the sheep have followed this worldly wisdom, suddenly...we are told to eat fats again.

Or, one generation is told to always wear sunscreen and to avoid the sun. Then a later generation of scientists tell us that although the sun "damages" the skin, there really is no link between excess sun exposure and skin fact, say these doctors, it looks asthough the folks who get skin cancers get them mostly in areas that rarely get touched by the sun...and people who use sunscreen have the highest rate of skin cancer. One generation says never remove a mold; it might be a melanoma and spread. The next generation says to remove it. One generation says heal epileptic seizures by removing grains, another generation says heal seizures by invasive brain surgery, another generation comes and says heal them by medication, then aother generation says heal them by removing grains. One generation says lobotomize depressed people. Another generation says use anti-depressants, then another generation says use anti-depressants but beware that they can make you suicidal.

This sheep confusion doesn't only affect individual lives but also the life of the earth. One decade, animals/fish/insects are relocated to a new region in order to balance some problem or other. Then two or three decades later, the scientists are bewailing that self-same relocation.

Trusting in human thought is a dangerous thing. We can try our best but we must always be aware that we simply do not know...and indeed, the folks who have created some of the worst disasters (economic, tribal, racial, medical, climatic, etc, etc, etc, ) have been "the great minds of our generation." It's scary to think that not only can we not trust our own minds, but we should be very wary of human reasoning and the many rumors of war (or propaganda) being told to us in the many spiritual,, natural, scientific, medical wars on this earth. We who live at the end of time should also be very aware of the many deceptions, lies, statistics, half-truths, false truths that exist in the media, the churches, the health system, the government, etc. We must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves because our Lord told us "this world cannot receive truth."

God's directions generally do not make sense to the rational human mind. Heck, some of the most spiritual people have wasted so much of their time "understanding" the Bible with their rationalistic minds that they have lost their way.

Human rational thinking fails us, but so does human emotion. All we have left is a purified, sanctified, restored, glorified human intuition. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord and the word of the Lord is a lamp to our feet. We have to understand when God is speaking to us. Whether by coincidence, dreams, or visions. We will hear a word in our heart that says, "This is the way...walk ye in it."

Remember: The Lord had compassion upon the people because he saw them as sheep having no shepherd.

God is not going to be angry with us because we feel idiotic and because we are confused about doing the right thing. He has great compassion. He understands our lives; he knows that we are dust and that we are blown about by every wind of doctrine and every new philosophy or science falsely-so-called that clutters our path.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Crone Poem #5

Empty of flowers,

Overgrown with weeds,

the untended garden is calling to me.

It's mid-summer, though;

Too late to tend it? 

The garden of my body is calling to me.

Am almost sixty;

The stalks sag, the flowers fade.

Weeds are already embedded

Why hope to uproot them?

You've got to die of something.  

The garden of my mind is calling to me.

Overgrown with projects, the soil needs sifting.

Yet new seeds appear, taunting, promising...

Am too busy with old crops to work new ones.

But, my mind, why encourage new growth?

The garden of my soul is calling to me.

Night is falling.

Winter's coming.

Plant only those seeds that will endure.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Memory: Mr Rabinowitz' Toupee

Back in the day, sometime in the mid seventies, when I was in high school in Brooklyn, our class had a favorite substitute teacher. His name was Mr. Rabinowitz. He specialty was word games, particularly Hangman. He was probably about fifty, maybe older, and although he had a very jovial personality and was always cracking jokes, there was something sad and threadbare about him. I think we all noticed it. It wasn't something we spoke about, but it was something always present in our minds. It wasn't that the sole tweed suit he always wore was tattered; it wasn't. But heck, it was his only suit and it smelled vaguely of mothballs, which gave the impression of a lonely old bachelor with no mother or wife to take care of him, of someone who had dedicated all his life to teaching and who had somehow forgotten to live his own life. Of perhaps he had never learned.  

When I said earlier that there was something threadbare about Mr. Rabinowitz, I mentioned the general impression. But there was something else. Something specific. His toupee.

I suppose I should describe this toupee. There really was nothing quite like it. It sat on his head like a bird's nest; very old, very tattered, and very obvious. Even for the seventies, it looked leftover from the rakish fifties. If you have ever seen the Ten Commandments, the scene where Moses and God made the waters of the Red Sea rise up on both sides while the children of Israel walked through on dry land, then you would have a good picture of this toupee. It was rolled up in the front and on the sides and looked like a dense meshy wire of hair. It was as if he had a mini stadium rising from his head.

We never said anything about it to his face but the class bullies -- Steven, Mark, John, Augustine (the same kids who always bullied me) would always comment on the toupee outside his presence.

This went on all the time.

One day, however, Mr. Rabinowitz surprised even the bullies. Mr. Rabinowitz arrived in class with his notorious toupee flipped end over end. The glue, or whatever it is that holds toupees together, had not worked and the toupee sat upside down, wrong-side up, like a hairy-sided tongue on top of Mr. Rabinowitz' head.

None of us said anything. None of the bullies laughed. Mr Rabinowitz was an elder, after all, and not like the younger teachers whom kids generally argued with or continually mocked to their faces. He had obviously dressed himself without a mother, daughter, or wife or even a mirror to help him. Why hurt his feelings? I suppose we thought other adults would notify him of the flapping tongue on his head. I was his favorite student; I suppose he saw something both pitiful and kind about me. But I wasn't going to tell him either.

On the way back home, on the bus, he stood talking to me. The toupee was still on his head --upside down, flapping. No one on that Brooklyn bus said anything.

This is my biggest and first memory of the open secret, the secret everyone knows but no one speaks of. There have been other open secrets since then of course. The teacher with his fly open, the student whose dress was splattered with menstural blood, the secretary having an affair with the married director. But this is the open secret I remember deeply.

I'm not sure if those were kinder times or not. Perhaps no one told Mr. R. about the toupee because they didn't want to hurt his feelings. Perhaps folks just hate discomfort. Perhaps we felt someone else would do it. Those were some of the reasons I never told him. I also didn't want him to always remember me as the girl who made him aware of his embarrasment. Kill the messenger and all that. I'd like to think that he never realized what happened that day or that he only realized this great humiliation when he arrived home and that he somehow convinced himself that it had only happened a second or two earlier and that for most of the day he had been his wonderful, rakish, suave self. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poem: Everything old is new again

Everything old is new again; not good.

I wake and sense the return of the old dread, the grief of helplessness.

This is so not good, I tell myself.

I call out to my husband: Bring my Bible, quick!

I repeat the 23rd psalm,

Loudly, desperately, grasping it

like a lifeline.

This is soooooooooo not good.

The autumnal depression is storming me again.

I try to outpace it

like an orphan on a railroad track attempting to outpace a barreling train.

This is soooooooooooooo not good.

Depression, I'd thought we'd parted ways.

So many more rational griefs had my attention 

I'd forgotten you.

And suddenly here you are again.

A nameless barreling dread.

For no apparent reason

suddenly returned and hovering

seeping into, flodding into 


attempting to conquer me

The fight has come suddenly

I struggle to prepare,

racing about, grabbing armor

like a sentry suddenly awokened out of sleep.

I've said "suddenly" so many times in this poem.

But that's how it feels

this sudden powerful onslaught:

This is soooo not good.

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