Getting There

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The idea for this poem originated from a blog post written by The Taler called Found Poems. In it the author explains how one can take an excerpt from a written passage and create something different, for instance a poem. In my piece I’ve chosen words from Dennis O’Driscoll’s No Thanks and Frank Horne’s Walk. Mixing phrases around like a bag of scrabble letters, I’ve managed to come up with a somewhat different context, which I must say was fun!

Franks Horne’s poem Walk may be a challenge to find online, but I was in love from the  first stanza:

I am trying

to learn to walk again…

all tensed and trembling

I try so hard, so hard…

 

O’Driscoll’s  No Thanks  became my mantra years ago, and I chuckle at this poem every time I read it. You should read it, too.

 

Your Turn:  Take a passage and ‘remix’ it. Feel free to share under comments or via a post. And if you want to up the ante, take several passages and see what you can mash-up.

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From the Archive: Five Years Ago

Where did you go, you know, the person?  Not the one we see but the you inside.

Where did you go?  You let them strip you of your joy,  your energy, your light.

Lose who you are and you become a collage of everything and everyone else.

 

Feeling some sort of way that I can’t define. Is it depression? Frustration? Inertia? My writer’s brain says “caged” but that’s a bit dramatic. It’s a long story that I suppose my conscience has nudged me about before. Something has been trying to tell me something for years.

So when do you say, enough is enough? When do you just…free fall? Is there anything besides concrete down there when I jump?

The abridged version of this story is that the current circumstances aren’t working, at all. However, being the overly cautious thinker I am, I’m reluctant to just open a window and plummet.  It seems impractical to starve while happy, and yet it’s crazy to make money while sacrificing one’s self, family, and sanity. Tis the world we live in. We learn to become collages.

I eventually retired from retail in 2012 due to health issues and a couple of surgeries, one of which didn’t go well.  Now, because of more life changes, I find myself at yet another crossroad.

True, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of being fully present when it comes to family. And in hindsight, things happened that I don’t know if I could’ve dealt with while working full-time–serious illnesses, the death of my father, marital separation.

It baffles me that I got more writing done while working thirty to forty hours, with two small children, than I do without a binding schedule and with kids old enough to occupy themselves. I’ve enjoyed watching them grow, I’ve also missed the security of steady paychecks.  I’m saying this to say that happiness doesn’t come from circumstance. Happiness is a state of mind, period.  But we have to figure out who we are, what we want, and how we’ll balance our true callings with the titles society places upon us.

Who are you? Where did you go? Lose who you are and you become a collage of everything and everyone else.

 

Your turn:

In definition of “inner calling” how would you define yourself?

In terms of societal titles, name at least three that describe you.

If you’re not being true to yourself, what’s the reason?

Map out a way to get back to the real you 😉

 

F.Y.I

In definition of inner calling, I’d define myself as: a writer, an empath, a peacemaker

In terms of societal titles, I’d describe myself as: a mother,  an estranged spouse, an introvert who knows how to play it off when necessary

I’m not true to myself because: I’m not a fan of failure, abstract ideas, or what-ifs

And yes, I’m mapping out a way of getting back to the real me 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AS SOON AS (AKA AS WE PREPARE TO WRITE)

As Soon As

  • I can afford another chair, a “real” chair, preferably non-rust, indestructible, with arm rest and the option to lean back, forward, or twirl around as I deem fit.

 

  • I land 12 hours of restorative sleep

 

  • I create THE perfect  playlist

 

  • Fridge is fully stocked with Coke and my mouth with Hershey’s candy

 

  • I complete to-do list. Yes, all seven days worth of must dos (except writing, of course)

 

  • I surf websites I don’t care about

 

  • Clear inbox(es)

 

  •  X out  parts I don’t like

 

  • Put everything back

 

  • Decide for the umpteenth time (because I really thought I had) what to write and how to write it

 

  • Make another list

 

 

Your turn. What are your top five excuses when preparing to write?

 

 

 

 

 

“Ode to the Liquor Store Lady” by M.D. /Writers I Like

I wonder sometimes if she sees their pain …all of our pain. What kind of job it must be to hand out the poison that ruins every other patron. Is she a home-wrecker? A murderer? An abuser? She’s just doing her job. We are the ones so willing to walk through her doors & waste away an entire paycheck on that sweet nectar that rots our minds. The housewife with her Sunday wine. The college kids with their vodka & Redbull. The awkward first-timer perusing the wares. The homeless man counting his pennies for some gin. Everyone has their story, why they’re here. Why they can’t look her in the eye. I’d like to blame her for all the misery. ‘Why do you do this to me?’ when I really want to ask ‘Why do i do this to myself?’ That must be one of the worst jobs in the world. To see the best of people with the worst of intentions go in & out – in & out – day after day, week after week … until one day they don’t show up anymore. Jail, rehab, death? Where did they go? What path did you lead them down? – the drunks, with their pursed lips & dry hands. The ones who are too weak or too strong to make it through their days. How many families have you ruined? How many hearts have you broken? Jaws have you broken? Cars wrecked? Thank you for your services, liquor store lady. You are the kindest of doctors. The sweetest of anesthesia. The warmest of fires & the Queen of the Drunks.

Artist & Writer: Monte Robinson

I have shared several of his poems and essays on the blog–BROKEN DOLL, GIVERS VS TAKERSINCOMPLETE; we’ve collaborated on a few projects, or at least tried (FREESTYLE); and now, Mr. Robinson, aka The Writerly Genius, has finally granted an interview.

Do you agree with the cliché that creative types are misunderstood?
​I do​ agree with that statement, because of personal experiences and scientific research. Artists are often stereotyped as weirdos, and I think some of that perceived weirdness derives from the creativity we hung onto and expanded throughout our lives. We do not quite fit into the box of what is considered “normal” due to our natural born talent.
I draw, paint, write short stories, and dabble in poetry. Those things require me to think differently than the average person. I think all artists think differently than the average person, which can lead to us being misunderstood. In many cases, I just experience the world in a way that others do not. When I look at real life landscapes, I see them as two dimensional like they were on a canvas. At random times, lines and stanzas just pop into my mind.
From an educator’s standpoint, how would you encourage a young person interested in the Arts? How would you  encourage your younger self?
Usually when students tell me they cannot write poems, short stories, or plays, I reassure them that they have the ability, and they just need to tap into it. Generally, they are afraid that it will not be good enough, so I explain to them that “good” is relative. Some may like it; some may not, so write something that you will enjoy. My mother was very supportive of my artistic side, so I would encourage my younger self the same way she did.
We often hear the term “natural-born talent”, do you feel we have innate gifts, or is creativity one of those things learned over time?
​I believe we are all born with creativity. When left to their own devices, kids come up with some creative – sometimes crazy – stuff. I think some of us are more developed in specific areas than others, also. My mom said I started drawing at age 3. I remember being in Headstart at age 5 and drawing my own cartoon characters on the back of the pages they gave us to color. I think schools, adults, and the need to fit-in kills the creativity. ​
You’re both an artist and a writer. Which of these was most dominant in your formative years? In later years? Are there similarities in each field?
In my formative years, I was more of an artist. I did not think of myself as a writer at all. I still don’t. Looking back, I realize that I used to tell short stories to entertain my cousins. It was usually silly stuff, but it fit my age. I really enjoyed drawing, and it garnered lots of support, so it was much more of a factor for most of my life. I only started writing within the last fifteen years after I stopped drawing and painting. It started with blogging. I had a way of getting my point across in story form and that eventually morphed into writing short stories. My ex-wife was a poet, so I kind of started messing around with poetry because of her.​​
The similarities between the two are that I am trying to tell a story. The differences are – besides the obvious- I have to find just the right way to tell my story in a single image while drawing versus writing​​ ​where I paint the picture with as many or as few words as I like.​
Imagine you have time to pursue a creative project. What would it be?
I would write a novel. For years now, it has felt like something I was destined to do. It is hard to explain. It just feels like the next step.​

In one word. Writing is _____________

​Unpredictable​
 
                sketchII

Bring On the Words Winners: Will Neill

SECOND PLACE WINNER

51 Hill View Street

A short story by Will Neill

Just like it says on the post mark, my house-51, sits top of the Hill, and yes I do get a good view of the valley. Bin livin’ here oh, must be nigh on 60 years give or take a month or so. Me and Gracie we moved in here new just after the war. Summer of 1946 to be exact. Boy were we excited, new home and a baby on the way. The big ash tree that’s just at the side of the house, the one that blocks out the sun each afternoon was no more than a sapling back then. You can’t miss it once you turn in from Hill Avenue; that big ole boy sits high above the hill’s crest, poke’ n skyward.

Billy Dawson built these houses. Decent man–didn’t deserve to get murdered collectin’ the payroll for his men.  We were the first to get a mortgage from that old skinflint Barney Hightower at the First National bank of Massachusetts; thought we couldn’t afford the deposit see’n as how I was just out of the Marines. Five hundred and sixty dollars was a heck of a lot of money in 1946. Barney was shot an killed along side Billy Dawson when they robbed the bank three weeks after we’d bin to visit him. Some say he got his head blown clean off by a twelve bore. Musta bin true–his widaw Bell and his two sons Tom and Clancy kept the lid on the coffin ‘fore he was buried up in Claymount. I can still see that fat son of a bitch just sittin’ there in his imitation brown leather swivel chair sweatin’ and smokin’ a big fat stoggy while statin’ how things were tough in the world of finance. I sure wiped the smile offa his face when I slammed down my $560.00. He never said much after that, just drew up them papers quiet like.

Can’t say I liked the fella some myself, but Gracie wouldn’t hear me speak ill a the dead, and they didn’t catch those bank robbers either, not that I’ve heard anyhows.  Others say it was an inside job that had gone wrong.  Word was ole Hightower was a gambler–owed a lot a money to Jack Shipton the casino boss who runs the ‘Double Dealer’ over on main street.  Fond of black jack was the word.  Not so lucky at it neither they say–that big guy Shipton, put you in mind of that base-ball player Babe Ruth.  Rumor was he collected what was owed with a base ball bat, called it ‘Darlin’ too, just like the Babe did.  I remember once I was lookin’ out my living room window–the one that’s at the side of the house next to the tree–now I was just standin’ there, suppin’ on a cup of coffee ‘fore I headed off to my evening shift up at the factory, when I see a big ole blue Cadillac pullin’ up  just outside a my neighbor’s house. An guess who was a drivin’? Yup, Jack the ‘Snake’ Shipton.  Now, I thought it wise just to step back a tard into the shadows casin’ he looked my direction. Gracie, she was sleepin’ upstairs with little Kate who had just turned a year that month; so I was being real quiet.

I watched him lift ‘Darlin’ outta the trunk ‘fore he looked the Hill up an down. Next I see him rappin’ on Bobby Deslow’s door like he was a mail man delerverin’ a package.  Soon as Bobby walked out, Jack took the legs from under him with a single side swipe. Poor Bobby go down on his knees; then, in the glow of his own porch light, I saw Shipton crack his head open like a ripe water melon. I heard the echo at the back of my yard. Cool as you like , Jack, he just sauntered back to his car leavin’ Bobby twitchin’ on his drive.
His wife Mary, she kept his casket closed likewise. Never had kids them two. Cryin shame if you ask me. Six months later, the bank foreclosed on their property. Mary went a bit do-wally after that; she spent the next five years up at the sanatorium.

Jessie Metcalf lived across street from me. We met in town one Saturday morning just outside Farnboroughs drug store. “Fine day Bill,” she said pullin’ me into the doorway.
“You heard the news?”
I removed my hat outta manners. “No Ma’am,” I replied, perplexed. She rarely spoke to me, mostly preferring to gossip with Gracie.

“‘You mean you haven’t heard about Mary Deslow?”

“No ma’am I can’t say that I have.”

Jessie, she move in closer, and god help me her breath, it stink like pig shit.

“Gone and hanged herself. Poor woman.”

Now Jessie Metcalf, she look like Betty Davis.  Same sort a eye’s and thin face.  But she dress like an old bag woman, wouldn’t think she be the richest lady on Hillview.  Worth thousands I heard.

“Yes’um Bill, up there at the Sanatorium. She   her done wrapped her bed sheet round her neck and swung from her own door handle.”

I shook my head and said a silent prayer, but I thought god works in mysterious ways. I believe it was him just balancing the books. By the time I’d reached home I was sure the whole town woulda known about Mary Deslow.  Jessie woulda seen to that.

Do you remember me talkin’ about Tom and Clancy Hightower? Turns out, ten years later, after Mary killed herself, them two boy’s musta heard about old Jessie Metcalf’s fortune and went lookin’ for it one October evening .  I recall that time cause we were havin’ one hell of a thunder storm. That night, at about ten thirty, in the cover of the thunder, Tom and Clancy broke into Jessie’s house. Power line’s were down so it was black as coal.  Jessie must a heard them comin’ up the stairs. In between the thunder and the lightin’ flashes, using her son’s service pistol, she put two rounds into Clancy’s chest and one into Tom’s back as he was runnin’ out the front door.

Johnny Metcalf served in the 29th infantry Division. Got shot to pieces on Omaha beach; they found him still holdin’ his gun. Never fired a single shot. Poor bastard. Some of his friends brought it home as a keep sake for his mother. I’s pretty sure them was the same bullets he loaded that mornin’ ‘fore he got into the landin’ craft. Jessie was never the same after that; she left and went to live with her sister down in Copertino, California. Willed all her money to her niece Susan who loaned some of it to a collage friend a hers, a fella named Steve Jobs in 1976, somthin’ to do with apples I heard. Just goes to show people must like apples. She ended up a multi-millionaire .

Every so often I kinda think that’s maybe why they never caught them bank robbers.

Yes sir I’s seen it all over the years from upon this Hill. One time Gracie, Kate, and I was up in Texas the day that J F. Kennedy was shot. We was takin’ pictures with Kate’s new camera of the cavalcade when he was hit. Poor man. Never did get that camera back from the F.B.I. Kate took some of a guy with a rifle just behind the wall at the grassy knowl where we was standin’. We was sure it was him, but it turns out it was that fella ‘Lee Harvey Oswald’ up at the book depository.

Kate did well for herself, left college and took up journalism. Got a good job, too, wit the local newspaper. She wrote a piece about the Vietnam War, next thing she knows, some big shot passin’ through town up and read it. Give her a job on Time’s Magazine. He liked it that much. Sent her out there spring of 72′ to cover the withdrawl of troops. The army brought her home in a box that Easter; she got caught up in the 17th parallel when the Viet Cong invaded again. I surely miss my little girl.

Time magazine felt really bad about what happened to Kate; they offered me an Gracie a week-long stay at the Watergate Hotel around June that year. Nice enough place, don’t get me wrong–but we left after a couple of days. The bell hop told us some guys broke in at the office building next door. They must a stole somethin’ real important. Police were every where, makin’ one hell of a racket, so we checked out early.

Me? Well, I worked up in the shoe factory until I was 65. Gracie died that autumn, took a stroke. God I loved that woman! She used to say I was her Clarke Gable. Dunno about that, but she sure looked like Vivian Leigh when we first met. Hard to believe she’s bin gone twenty years. Never thought I’d live this long, no sir. Toni Moreli was the brother of Mary Deslow, he used to own the factory up until I retired; sold it off to two guys for a hefty sum I found out. Toni always liked to brag he was pals with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, but I think their names were Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. Wanted to extend their company that made tennis shoes. They even gave them shoes a name, ‘Nicky’ or somethin’ fool like that. Don’t figure they’ll catch on if you’re askin’ me. Then there was the darnest thing, when them builders, Billy Dawson’s two boys, were renovating the factory for new machine room, they only gone and found a skeleton buried in one a the walls they was knockin’ down. The local paper said it was the strangest thing, it had a cracked skull and, now get this,a base-ball bat was found stickin’ outta it’s rear end.

I suppose I’d better open this letter I just got this mornin’, ‘fore I started strollin’ down memory road. Well, they sure got my name right:
To
Mr. William Willows
51 Hillview Street
Worchester County
Massachusetts

Looks like it’s from the Government, let me see now.
Dear Mr Willows, please find within our compulsory purchase order to commandeer your home in order to make way for the construction of a new highway due to be built next year. The four lane road will run directly through your area making it necessary to demolish all the homes on Hillview Street.
Taking into account your age, and knowing you have no living relatives we have reserved a room at the Mellow Place retirement home. We trust you will consider this offer, you have three months to comply.
Signed Virgil Hightower

‘Oh my!’

Mellow Place Retirement Home, sounds quite a nice place, ifin’ you say it quick enough, but somehow I don’t think it’s for me. Strange how things work out. Must be God just balancing the books again I reckon. Time I was with Gracie anyhows. Bin thinkin’ about her a lot lately.

Better go clean that pistol of mine I kept since I landed on Sword beach back in 44′. Lord knows I wouldn’t want it to go off accidental like.

Will Neill 2013

You can also find Will here

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Despite trying to keep up with several characters, I found this story very engaging. I feel as if I’m on the narrator’s front porch sipping lemonade, listening to him ramble and reminisce as the sun goes down on The Hill.   Kudos to Mr. Neill!