Category Archives: Poetry Wednesday

A poet’s view …

Today, I  return to my writing prompt challenge and fall back on the familiar standard of Poetry Wednesday

Before you dazzle me with your wit, please enjoy this selection from my journal, Mad Mother From Brooklyn, the summer of 1976 …

Memories …

I’ve tucked all the corners
Tight
Trimmed the edges
Brushed away the dust
That fell in the space you
Used to fill

Still you have not come

If it’s night and horizons dim
Softly melting into
Blue and gray

If it’s warm inside and
Ovens bake
Dipping into
Sticky and sweet

Where is the sight of it
The taste of it
To fill a hungry soul?

#############

A Silver Web …

I’ll practice every day
Until it becomes natural

Take up the task
Working harder each time

Obliterate every thought
Of you
And your real world

Until it intrudes on some cold
Morning when the dream has forgotten
The purpose and lets it in
Shattering the fragile silver web

###########

Untitled …

Inside of me there is an
Un-Godly animal sound

It moans all through the night, Mama
And it keeps me running passed the boundaries
And over the fences

‘cept I don’t know where to, Mama
Where to ?

################

When we love …

When we love I am standing
Before a stranger
Awkward in my nakedness

The plans of each act
I have memorized
Scatter about the floor
With my garments
And I am left
With the finest performance of all

The improvisation of this one
Sweet moment

So nice to feel creation
Building
A mountain with bare hands
Beneath me

##########

There is no purpose
To this

Mean block of time

It screams naked through
The cold city streets
Leaving a trail of useless
Rubble in its wake

Naked woman of bones
Finding no fat
No lean
Moving on

Finding no shelter from
The north wind
Tireless and howling
Long wind traveling
Through a silent night

Naked woman of bones
Finding no fat
No lean
Moving on

To a time
That has gone
Beyond her reach

############

By definition …

The length of “flash” fiction differs depending upon where you do your research on the internet.

Both “flash fiction” and poetry challenge the writer and the reader to complete an entire story in the shortest time possible. While there are epic poems that are thousands of words in length, i.e. Waste Land by T.S. Elliot or Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, the genre lends itself to short, sweet, snippets … a love story, a sad tale, or if you prefer a bit of tragedy, The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.

Flash fiction is a style of extreme brevity. “There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as three hundred words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction. Wikepedia  

The roots of short fiction can be traced back to Aesop’s Fables and has been used by such noteables as Anton Chekhov, O. Henry, Franze Kafka, Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut.  One example of this style in modern classics is In Our Time, a collection of 18 very short pieces in Hemingway’s first short-story collection.

Also called sudden fiction, short/short, postcard or micro fiction, the standard lengths of these stories are as short as 150, but no more than 1,000 words.

Access to the Internet has had an impact on the awareness of flash fiction, with websites and zines such as Flash Fiction Online being devoted entirely to the style. Find and like them on Facebook.

Flash fiction (also called micro fiction, sudden fiction, or short short stories) refers to fiction stories of around 700 words or less. The qualifying standard for flash fiction varies among organizations, with some setting the maximum word count as little as 150 and others raising it to 1000, but the exact word count matters little. The idea is that flash fiction, being so short, encompasses literary theory quite differently from traditional short stories given that the physical boundaries for flash fiction preclude otherwise available options. This is not to say flash fiction subscribes to a rigid formula – just the opposite. Forms of flash fiction tend to vary markedly, and resemble anything from prose poetry to grocery shopping lists. “Part of the fun of writing [flash fiction] is the sense of slipping through the seams,” says Sudden Fiction author Stuart Dybek. “Within the constraint of of their small boundaries the writer discovers great freedom.Read more.

The experts might differ in terms of length, but one thing they all agree upon, is their assessment that “flash” is fun.

It is the best of  fun to create a whole story in short stacks or micro minutes that leaves the reader wanting more and can stay with them for hours afterwards.

Anne R. Allen had an interesting post, Why You Should be Writing Short Fiction (read post here). This post discusses the resurgence of the short story in today’s market. My comment that week sited the dozens of writers from our past that used short fiction for most of their writing careers. And as I’ve done at least twice before on this blog … it is a question of not when but … when everything old is new again.

change

By the by, since I brought up Walt Whitman, it was common in Great Britain and the United States during Whitman’s time for authors to “self publish.” Clapbooks were often done by those we think of as very successful poets. Many other famous writers of poetry and the short story genre, not only published themselves, they formed “author collectives,” and published each other. Sound familiar?

So the next time you have a really great idea, before you get too excited, do your research and you’ll find … someone has been there and done that.

Sentence prompts ...

Yes Pilgrims, it is that time of the year when once more I challenge you to provide the fodder for my Flash Fiction. So put on your thinking caps (cliché alert) and dig into your gray matter. Leave a sentence in comments and I will give you a story of no more than 1,000 words.

I might also post this challenge on Facebook or canvas my writer’s group. And for those who have contributed in the past, be aware, if you don’t leave a sentence for me this week, I will nag until you do.

Tell me dear ones, who is your favorite poet?

And … can you name one  famous writer

who worked exclusively in short, shorts?

fOIS In The City

Photography from Jen G, my talented daughter.

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Part Three-The Lightest Touch …

In case you haven’t noticed, I love presenting ideas in threes … to this end … I will do three times three with my journals and the bits and pieces of Radio before I travel to yet another location in my mind.

##########

When at last she left her beloved Brooklyn for the hills of Northern Manhattan, her babes were at her knees. Each took a hand which became symbolic of their unity and strength. When life hit hard, each held her solid, reminding her  how fragile the connection of their union could be, and how easily it could be severed. But not yet.

All was possible, all waited around the next bend in the road … white lightning and wine filled the new rooms with delightful delirium.

##########

Music has remained the concrete foundation of my life, the muse fills me with joy and sorrow. Rising to the heavens or crashing to the nether regions of hell. All things are possible through the muse.

These three of The Lightest Touch, carried me on the whine of the electric guitar, the low moan of the base guitar, and the amazing voices of the sisters, Ann and Nancy Wilson, who became Heart.

From Ramblings, 1978, the year we left Brooklyn:

 Snow Bird

Snow flakes are falling in the city
What a wonder to see snow falling in the city

Its white perfection lying softly over
Concrete and garbage
Washing away dust and noise
As it quietly blankets the streets
And the cars
The whore-houses and the bars

A little bird is resting upon my fire escape
Flitting along the flakes of white
She has perched herself to rest
And she makes me smile

Then she if off again

Off into the quiet snow fall
Off to swoop over the trees along the avenue
And I marvel at her strength
And her persistence

To be a bird in this funky city
To be a snow bird in this
Funkiest of funky cities

Surely that is a marvel !

A Christmas present to myself

It’s Christmas Eve and the children
Anxious and gay play around
The tree
Waiting for the bottom to fill up

It is a joy to have children
On this night of all
Nights

Their eyes shine with
The lights of the tree
Holding the gleam ’till morning

And all the day long we
Baked and fixed and sang
Silly songs

Stuffing me like the
Holiday turkey
Spicy and full of wonder

Oh, what is it that makes
Children tick?

What little mechanism
Twinkles like Christmas stars
Up in their tiny heads?

What red, blue, sun-yellow
Wheels
Roll inside their bellies?

Oh, what magic could
I steal
Were I to find the secret
Of the grand machinery
Of childhood

Quiet now …

They are up in their beds
Cuddle soft and candy
Dreams

Crackle fire and
Peppermint spy
Fat ole’ Santa blankets
The bottom of the tree

Leaving behind the gay
Assortment of trinket and doll
And ribbon wrap array

Of little presents to bring
So much pleasure to the
Biggest child

Me!

Untitled:

Many things
Of different sorts

Come flashing
Dancing along
The waves of sunshine

One flicker of sun
Told me of you

I returned alone
As I had gone
Yet not as lonely

##########

From a turning point in Radio:

1952, I hate boys  …

It happened the year of my Holy Communion. Time to learn about sin. Pure-snow-white-angels, good girls don’t have to confess anything. 

There was a lady down the street. They called her Crazy Mary.

Hey Crazy Mary, where ya goin’?  
Goin’ to see my boyfriend.

Grin, Crazy Mary. Keep the secret and grin.   

My mom was so lucky ’cause she had two best girlfriends. One of them was my angel and the mother of the only boy I didn’t hate. Her face was round and beautiful and she never yelled or called me names.

The other girlfriend was small and dark and frightened and the mother of the bad boy who made me run home faster than all the rest.

I ran home again. The bad boy pushed me into the alley after school and said bad things. I kicked him and headed home fast as my crooked feet would take me.

She told me not to run up the steps. I didn’t listen. If I didn’t run up the steps one of them might catch me. I never told her the one who caught me all the time was one of us.

The boys wore white too. I hope they confessed their sins. 

Both of my parents had friends they counted as family, friends they cherished like the finest wines. It was a tale told by each of them.

Seven men who came from Carloforte, a small fishing village on the island of San Pietro, seven kilometers off the southwestern coast of Sardinia, left behind their families, went to sea on the tall ships and traveled thousands of miles to find a dream. They fell in love with, and married seven women from Poughkeepsie, the county seat of Dutchess County in the Mid Hudson Valley of New York.

The men spoke a funny language called tabarchin or in Italian, tabarchino, and the women spoke the Italian dialect of Naples. Among them were two brothers who married two sisters. They all brought over cousins and grandmothers, reproduced and multiplied to the tune of fifty-seven varieties to rival Heinz and followed each other from Italy to the Mid Hudson Valley to Brooklyn.

Including the one boy I didn’t hate, the only kids I had to play with came from the same places as my parents and they were all boys. And if they weren’t from the same places as my parents and weren’t all boys, they were sweet little girls who thought I was a freak. 

The two little girls up the block were dark like us and their grandmother couldn’t speak English like Nonna across Fourth Avenue. My middle brother told me they were Armenian and everyone in the entire country had a name that ended with “inian.” They didn’t play with me because I acted like a boy.  

Tom boy, go away. Don’t come again another day.

Aw, who needs you and your “inian?”   

Their crazy grandmother put needles in our Spaldeens but I didn’t care ’cause When I Fall In Love, like Doris Day, it will be forever.

When The Wheel of Fortune didn’t spin out my numbers, I listened to the sounds that soothed me, and escaped with Rosie who could do good things to me ’cause she knew how to belt out the Blues In The Night.

##########

There you have it … the last part of The Lightest Touch.  

What degrees of separation remove you from your fondest dreams?

Your worst moments?

Share a dream or two … better … share two or three with me.

fOIS In The City

All photographs for The Lightest Touch were from my daughter, Jen G, and from the official webpage of Philco Radio.

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Part Two-The Lightest Touch …

She was a young girl … optimistic and unfettered by the cares of motherhood, rent or budgets. Deadlines bored her, responsibilities rarely found her, and if some dark night reality intruded upon her, she blew them off with a song. She learned to have fun with few resources … a radio and an old Remington manual typewriter. The babes, now grown, were the ballast of her otherwise insane life.

She was the dreamer and I loved her so. I wrapped her in sensual silk and satin bottoms, layered with denim, daring cut-a-way, braless and carefree on a fat old bike. And oh, she had the lightest touch. She was me.

Dream Boat Annie, Heart

From the journals of Ramblings:

When we love …

When we love I am standing
Before a stranger
Awkward in my nakedness

The plans of each act
I have memorized
Scatter about the floor
With my garments

And I am left
With the finest performance of all
The improvisation of this one
Sweet moment

So nice to feel creation
Building
A mountain with bare hands
Beneath me

I am awed by the challenge
Climb its rocky
Dazzling heights

Each time I take a breath
I ascent to the highest peaks
Where the purest creation is born

Suspended in mid-air
I descend to earth slowly
More slowly than the time before
Finding solid ground in your arms

Where with a frown
And a sigh of disappointment
We separate and become

Two

Ready to glue back the masks
And button up the costumes

Strangers

Unable to understand
What it is
And how it is

When we love

##########

She be me, you and her …

I am girl/woman/child/femme/fatale/female/feminine/feminist/a fragile/fragrant/feline/phoenix/ rising to the moon/to howl chant/sing/lament/serenade !
Free/falling/fairly/far/into your charms/arms

To/level/smooth/and knead/roll/pounce/plotz
Bake/until well/donecooked/spent
a female/baby boomer/post menopausal
woman

stretching
her imagination
toward the new millennium
seeing nothing but
a blue haze

##########

How is it people always search
Each other’s eyes
Hoping to find the answer
When they haven’t yet learned
To ask the question?

I wonder how it feels
To be Atlas
In a time when the world
Is no treasure to hold ?

##########

From Radio:

Your Hit Parade …

To someone on the outside looking in and not knowing the individual players in our tiny theatre, we might have appeared to be blatantly crazy. Since all the men and women shouted the same way in two languages, we thought everyone lived like us, and chaos became the norm.

There were no dads who wore suits and ties to work or stay-at-home-moms who baked cookies for after school snacks. Only Italian-American-blue-collar, wrong-side-of-the-trolley-tracks, working men and women who had precious little time for play groups or little league. 

It was a factory life, which meant adults worked from pre-dawn to late afternoon and kids were generally on their own or answered to some old lady who corralled several of them at a time before the worker’s shifts were over.

Late afternoon meant trips to the grocer, the baker or the butcher. Not much kept in the tiny icebox necessitating daily shopping, which became my “job.”

While my mother turned the groceries into our supper, the big one sat in a corner of the room working on his latest project, and my dad sat next to him reading one of his three daily newspapers.

The middle one sat alone in the outside hall or the bathroom and read everything except his schoolbooks, and I bounced around to each of them to homework to errands.

When the adults banished me to my room, I would sneak over to the French doors in the parlor, listen to the music on the radio and ignore the adult conversations.

There was a guy who called himself the Sixty Minute Man, a concept later explained to me by the middle one. The middle one seemed bent on explaining all the unexplainable things little girls are better off not knowing.  

I sang with Nat King Cole as his sweetheart was Unforgettable and much Too Young for what the Sixty Minute Man was talking about.

 I sat by the front door and rolled my middle brother’s marble collection, often watching desperately as one of his best agates rolled under the icebox or one of the adults slipped on his Cat’s Eye. Mostly I counted them and enjoyed one of Guy Mitchell’s latest hits brought to you by the Lucky Strike countdown on Your Hit Parade.

There was lots of stuff on the radio that the family discussed and argued about besides music. My dad and the big guy had the upper hand in the voting process and before this year, I had learned to like what everyone else wanted to hear.

Radio waves brought us the mystery and detective shows of Ellery Queen, The Adventures of Philip Marlow, Bulldog Drummond, and Charlie Chan, the comedy of Amos & Andy or George Burns, and of course, lots of World News Today.

The stand up Philco provided everyone in the family with their own special kind of show. My mother could not iron all the shirts and blouses we needed unless she listened to one of her soaps or The Bickersons, and my dad never finished a newspaper without a news or sports show.

The big guy liked anything at all that included music. Neither of the boys were much for sports, but the big guy sat with our dad and listened to Red some-body talk about those “damned” Yankees. After supper, we sat in a semi-circle with coffee or cocoa and listened to family comedy, music and big band shows.

Never missing a chance to taunt me, the middle one loved to repeat the more frightening introductions, like that creaking door of Inner Sanctum or the voice on The Shadow … “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! …”

Yeah, and I knew what evil lurked in the hallways of Brooklyn.

It hardly mattered ’cause I had my own personal radio and could listen to any old thing at all, any old-time I wanted.

Among the nice and not-so-nice Italian relative and non-relative males populating my life, was a short, wiry angel-faced boy with a great smile.

Here In My Heart he had a special place even if he wasn’t the first boy I ever kissed. He was smarter and nicer than all the rest and the one who remembered to hold my hand Walkin My Baby Back Home.

He never tried to look under my dress, he didn’t use foul language or try to trap me in the corner of a dark hallway, and he never sad bad things.

He was my best friend, my only friend and the only boy I didn’t hate. 

##########

I’ve searched these pages for the word “look” to satisfy a challenge by my writer friend Sheri Degrom. Be patient dear one, I might find a look or two for you yet.

Do you have secrets you hide …

from yourself or the world?

Tell me … what memories do you treasure?

fOIS In The City

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