Today marks one year of being smoke free for me. Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful not to have that monkey on my back.
The Best of Farmhouse Magazine Anthology Vol. 1 2005-2008
My poem 4-Way Stop at Dusk is included in this anthology.
I read 4-way Stop at Dusk last night at my reading at Casa Azul and it was picked as a favorite by my good buddy Sam R. (age 13) Sam has good poetic sense. Very smart chap that Sam.
The story behind the poem, which I told last night: I was sitting in my car at the 4-way stop at Hwy 92 and Verot School Road with the sun almost completely down over the open field to my right. Against this backdrop, I spotted an American Kestrel on a wire, staring into the field. The bird dropped and skimmed the long grass. I turned left toward home and composed the poem in my head while driving the 2-3 miles home. When I got in the house I transcribed what was in my head and called it done. I squeezed out the metaphor “twilight is a pearl crushed in a raptor’s claw” I believe it to be one of my best. I strive for incisive, poetically-logical, and fantastical imagery. This poem balances those elements.
Don’t think you don’t get bruised or battered writing poetry, or worst killed for your thoughts and words—or have your spirit killed by mean-spirited poet-elites, poet-snobs. About a year and a half ago, mere days before my father died, a self-described “poet-critic” who saw the work told me personally it was nothing more than “prettyword vomit“ and ranted that it was worthless.
Sam’s admiration validated my hopes for the poem, which had been slightly dashed by the mean-spirited gobbledygook pseudo-criticism. Mike Dell’Aquila (editor of Farmhouse and the anthology) assured the poem’s vindication, by first selecting it as an Editor’s Choice nominee and for its inclusion in this exciting anthology.
I am standing on a mountaintop of GOOD.
Last night was my first “feature” as a poet. It was an incredible night for me because I had my family and friends with me to share in a moment that was long-awaited (considering I have been writing for more than 20 years) hoped-for and that at one point seemed highly improbable.
I am publicly thanking Patrice Melnick, owner of Casa Azul Gifts in Grand Coteau, LA for offering me this opportunity, for believing in me. I am deeply grateful. The event couldn’t have gone better, I think. The night before, I opened a fortune cookie which read: “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” There was no way I wasn’t going to try, but the sentiment emboldened me regardless.
I have had several severe nervous breakdowns due to bipolar disease which required hospitalizations and a few “mini-episodes” which required medical interventions. I am on medications to treat my mental illness and will be for the rest of my life. I have shared this before. I am open about my illness because I think if I shirk from sharing the facts of my own bipolar disease I am committing the sin of omission (failing to be honest) and contributing to the misguided fear and shame associated with the disease and misunderstanding of people affected by it.
For many years I have struggled with clinical depressions, misdiagnoses, incorrect medication, and whole host of bipolar symptoms, etc. I still struggle—the illness has not disappeared. Last night did not erase the low points from my history, but the terrible times seemed less threatening, farther away. The significance of my past, of my struggles related to my illness and my personal struggles related to loss, grief (death of a child, death of a parent) made last night more meaningful and precious to me. However I performed, last night was a personal triumph. I gave of myself—I laid myself bare and felt safe. I presented my creative work that has been the core of my life for years and received acceptance (self and other.)
At one point I was reading a love poem (I read a few tame pieces of erotica) and I caught my husband’s eye for a few seconds. He was in the very back of the room and I spoke the words of the poems directly to him. It was subtle but very thrilling. Of course he is my muse, my love and best friend. Oh my lover!
I wasn’t nervous until the second I stood at the podium. I could have given myself a moment to focus but I tore right into a joke. My mother was in the audience. Lordy, she is something else! She joked around and it went over well. The crowd was laughing so it was a good thing.
I was happy to be an audience member too, and offer support to those that performed after I did. It was an amazing night all-around. Many gifted artists shared their talents. Several people stuck around after the event ended, laughing and talking. I left feeling so grateful and honored. I left behind whole chunks of the desolation that has shadowed my heart.
Grace fell upon me. Amen.
What a great night. It went very well even though I was really shaky at the beginning. I pulled it together though. I actually could have gone longer but I left them wanting more. I have to thank Patrice for inviting me to read and my peeps who came to Casa Azul—lili, amy, kara, ange, jo, paige, andy, zeralda, jeanne, bill, sam, jennifer, bill’s mom, my mom, mad, and dean I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone. There were quite a few otherfolks too and everyone was enthused and excited, especially during the raucous and enlightening open mic segment–raucous and enlightening in one sentence–can’t beat that.
The moon was full and lovely. As we were driving to Grand Coteau it rose in the sky above the town itself. It seemed to me a sign that I was called there.
Lift off in less than 3 hours. Feeling good—Fired Up! Ready to Go! Listening to music: Emmylou, Joni, K.D.Lang, Bob Dylan, Pete Yorn, and Lucinda Williams. I’ve changed clothes a few times. I’ve settled on all black with a blood red bead at my neck. Hair done. Makeup did. My mom is so excited. Her ladies at the beauty shop saw my article in the paper and congratulated her. My mom is stoked about tonight! Getting a good grounding listening to Bob–It’s all over now baby blue…it takes me to such a deep place. My baby girl is going to hear me read tonight. She has never heard me read publicly before. I am so excited. I am dedicating the reading to her.
Tomorrow is my 40th birthday. I feel good about it. Quiet celebration with family and maybe a little outing after.
I keep having moments when I break into tears as I watch the crowd gathering in Grant Park. Many-colored faces all smiling, cheering, believing.
Our world is changed. Incredible shifts are hapening–a sea change.
I can’t wait for his speech.
I have not written about my political beliefs in this journal. But I must say that I have not been so politically engaged and hopeful in 8 years. My politics are certainly left-leaning and solidly pro-Obama. So, yes, I have been glued, liked so many, to cable news networks and news web sites following the campaigns. I am so eager to cast my vote for Barack Obama. He is intelligent, thoughtful, a great communicator who possesses the right ideas for this country at this moment in time and I hope he will be elected. I hope he will be sworn in and enabled to express his vision and lead our country. I hope that our citizens will continue to be engaged, and continue in their fervor to shape our democracy. I hope for our country. I hope we will vote, and then unite and move democratically and progressively forward.
Yes we can.
I watched Barack Obama give his last rally speech tonight in Manassas, Virginia to a crowd of approximately 80,000 on C-SPAN and I was weeping by the end of it. If Obama is elected it will be a referendum on our desire for unity (on so many levels) and an affirmation that we can be a unified and dignified people. I am thrilled that Barack Obama has achieved what he has and he will always be an inspiration. Truly, he must succeed. He must. No matter your politics, one must appreciate the stamina, intellect and gift of oration this man possesses. Bless him and his family on the loss they suffered today. He perseveres which I feel his grandmother would have wanted for him. I heard on the news that she had cast her vote for Barack before she died.
I wish to all a good voting day. I wish for all of us to be able to vote who are eligible and for our votes to be counted. I wish for a civil atmosphere at our polling places. If there are long lines and someone behind you is old or unable to stand very long, please consider giving them your spot. Be considerate. Keep your cool. Be prepared. Be familiar with your ballot. Good luck.
I was invited to go to an election night watch party but I need to be here for my girl. Election night will be a school night and I will likely be firmly entrenched in my recliner flipping channels to catch the latest election results and hear the spin. If the results are unknown and I can’t stay awake I will fall asleep in the recliner and maybe when I wake up Obama will be President Elect Obama. I hope so.
Oh and whether or not Barack Obama wins, computer programs must update their Spell Check Dictionaries to include “Barack” and “Obama.”