August, that Drama Queen/ start of “August Shadow People” poem

I ran across the roughest of drafts of a poem recently about the high almost comedic drama of August in the Midwest. So much sun.  So many insects. And those dramatic clouds! The drama of the clouds alone could give us whiplash.

Just a few snippets from that time ten years ago, since I am submitting a revised/ edited full version for publication and don’t want to have this considered published.

Further down the path
our necks nearly snapped
off our barely- there shoulders

I know autumn is behind this all and is not worried about arriving.  These photos were snapped using my little phone camera.

 

Thanks for reading.

Learning from Garbage Day

bicycle pexels    You need help, was all he said.

I had just come home from visiting a dear friend, and was making three trips from the curb to the car to the house–taking in emptied garbage cans, my purse, etc. I think I was limping a bit, leftover injury that’s so much better now, but still a limp at times.

He was a boy of 11-13, just riding his cool stingray bike around the block, around, around, around. I noticed him circling, looking bored. He seemed to be new to the neighborhood. Maybe he was checking out the middle school nearby.

After my second trip, a wheel on one of the garbage cans fell off.

You need help, he said, loud enough for me to hear him. No yelling. No gestures that would raise alarm. He stayed on his bike. A kid.

You need help.

Excuse me?

You need help?

No, thanks, thanks a lot though. You getting ready to go back to school.

Yeah, he said, sounding a bit sad.

And he rode off.

In another world, I would have said thank you , what’s your name, here’s $5 to carry this stuff in for me.

In this world, I wish I could have told him, someone taught you manners, and that’s great. But in this world, we don’t talk to women we don’t know for it scares them and we women tend to mistrust many males, even boys of 12-13.

And as a teacher, I would be very reluctant to accept help from ANY youngster not known–and I mean parents knowing ME.

If I see him again when I’m with the Big Guy, I will say hello and thank him for the offer.

But in this sanitized and isolated suburbia, we pay for help we cannot do ourselves. There is no community. None. We are advised to socialize out back, not in front. Nothing in front of the houses. No bikes, no lawn furniture.

Make it look like no one lives here but trees and shrubs and garbage cans.

I think I’m right that this was a boy who was taught to help the elderly.

Lesson learned, we are no longer than country.

We are the country of no guns allowed signs on schools, churches, etc.

We are the country of ever smaller nuclear families.

We are the country of cars and garages and where simple courtesy can be seen as dangerous. By children or adults.

It made me glad somehow that he asked, nonetheless. I salute your parents for teaching you manners. I hope I thanked you with a sincere smile; I didn’t have the heart to tell this middle-schooler that we just are not friendly to strangers.

I did look for this boy, but I never saw him again.  I hope he is still willing to help out older folks, and hope his heart is still so good.

 

Poetry or Fiction: Genre Decisions/ Rough Draft

Can any topic be used for a poem? A narrative of a father drunk vomiting… agreeing to drive daughter to work during a winter storm–how can that be in a poem? I’m feeling the story wants to be a poem–or am I being influenced too much by Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays?”

Because I have been reading poetry and keep coming back to  “what did I know” This father is not a farmer, but a father who wasn’t always drunk and sometimes tried to help his daughter get to work so she could save money for college.  (When he wasn’t waiting for her paycheck to “give it home,” if he was drunk on payday—before direct deposits.)

Because no, maybe fiction would be better. The father heaving, vomiting between telling Lo he will, he should drive her to work in a storm, not to walk in the storm. Lo wondering… can she trust Da to drive her?

Fun to explore the decision of what genre would be best for a narrative. Interesting to learn what these characters insist on–poetry, my usual genre, or fiction?

img_1235-1 

Da Girl

Da, girl says
Are you sure you can drive?
Five minutes, he says.

Tap-water instant
Coffee effort Not doing it.

Can you boil water, Lo,
can you?

Five minutes more, he says,
Don’t walk, I hear
The storm.

Da, she whispers,
I’ll lost my job,
Searching the sideways blizzard.

 

 

***And a link to Hayden’s poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46461/those-winter-sundays

Little Sister-Rough Draft

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Just something I found on an old flash drive.  Will edit, revise, see where it goes.

Just a few snippets from that time ten years ago, since I am submitting a revised/ edited full version for publication and don’t want to have this considered published.

Little sister
you are not alone
sometimes I am
in your dreams
purring
a pink cat who speaks.

And sometimes
I am at the top of the stairs
thrusting
limbs forward
as a shield.


Little sister, sometimes
I am in between the lines of
words from decades ago
straight to your mirror.

 

 

 

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“Devastation” Published at Headline Poetry Today

Happy to have a poem published today (“Devastation”) at Headline Poetry.

The history of the poem arises from when I taught ELL years ago.  It was around 2002.  I taught with a colleague who was a refugee from Sarajevo. She survived the siege–and the stories she told still haunt me.

saravejo siege

Thanks to the editors at Headline Poetry.

 

Photo credit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Destructive Age of Urban Warfare; or, How to Kill a City and How to Protect It

John Spencer | March 28, 2019

 

 

 

 

Moth Mate/ Rough Draft

Just a few snippets, since I hope to submit a revised/ edited full version for publication and don’t want to have this considered published.

Moth Mate

Moth to a
Fake flame

Candle, lit
To accompany

Mid summer’s night
Solitude

White flint
Small gold flutter

Before any

Dawn songs.

 

img_5737

 

(I wanted to see what I could do with this learning and healing time. Can I observe more? Can I see what I don’t really see on a busy workday? What do you do, what do I do with those middle of the night silences? The crickets have stops singing. The cicadas have not yet started their trilling. And I am waiting to learn when the robins start their dawn songs.

I shall find out soon.

I hear frogs now. They’ve joined us.

And I’m trying to find out what can I do with my limited mobility and access right now to Technology.

This was created in the hopes of making meaning out of silence and pain.

Dare I send from my iPhone? So unliterary.

But this to me also speaks of the power of literacy to sustain.

I turn to words.)

sent from my iphone

Publications

 

pexels-photo-997721 Publications, Laura Lee

Some of my poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles are included online and in print books and magazines published in the UK, Greece, India, New Zealand, and the United States. Many thanks to the staff at these publications. 

“Devastation,” a poem, August 2019, in Headline Poetry.Details to follow. 

“Havishammed +1,” a poem, August 2019, online and in print edition available through amazon.com and at High Shelf Press.

“Where You Are Not,” a poem, June 2019, Esthetic Apostle.

“Swamp Pearls,” a poem, May 2019, here at: Prometheus Dreaming.

“Not Sleep,” a poem, in Cagibi: A Literary Space, April 2019, here: Cagibi.

“The Professor and the Gravel,” a poem, 2019, at Wingless Dreamer.

“Saltwater Faces,” an ekphrastic poem inspired by paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, High Shelf Press, 2018, https://www.highshelfpress.com/saltwaterfaces.

“Click,” “The Night is our First Language,” and “They Left the Bed,” poetry published in The Poetic Bond VIII print issue, December 2018. Available at Poetic Bond VIII.

“Moving Gravel” a short story at Crack the Spine – Themed Anthology Submissions, “Routine”, print edition, 2018. Available at Crack the Spine Anthology.

“Walk with Child” at https://www.snapdragonjournal.com/  September 2018 Issue, “Here and Gone.” http://pub.lucidpress.com/9b90935e-82ec-4edd-a09e-725a9cf574b8/#Vu72fBijlewR

Coffin Bell Journal,2018, “Herstory,” October 2018. https://coffinbell.com/herstory-lesson/

Spillwords Press, “Stopped,” 2018, http://spillwords.com/stopped/.

Tuck Magazine, June 2018, “Teach to Kill” http://tuckmagazine.com/2018/06/06/poetry-1528/.

Tuck Magazine,  May 2018, “Refuge,” http://tuckmagazine.com/2018/05/29/poetry-1511/.

 Southernmost Point Guest House (UK), poetry.

Journal of Modern Poetry 21 (Volume 21), “Hell, No,” a poem at JOMP Volume 21 Dear Mr. President.

Journal of Modern Poetry 20 (Volume 20), “Moonlit Awakening,” JOMP Volume 20 Poetry Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Journal of Modern Poetry 18 (Volume 18), The Official Poets Guide to Peace, two poems: “Open” and “After Poetry Class.” 2015. Purchase here.

Journal of Modern Poetry 17 (Volume 17), JOMP Volume 17. 

Cram Volume 12: “White Board Clown,” 2011. Chicago Poetry Press 2011.

Magazine (New Zealand) , Raewyn Alexander, Publisher, nonfiction and poetry.  Raewyn Alexander NZ.

Fiction in: http://staxtes.com/2003/ “Between the Sunlight and the Skipping” in English Wednesdays

Poetry in: https://poetsagainstthewar.org/ archives.

Illinois English Bulletin, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, nonfiction article about teaching in an alternative education program.

 Poetry in Marginalia, Elmhurst, IL.

Poem Being Published in Headline Poetry Soon

512px-Sarajevo_Skenderija_Sniper_Intersection    I am pleased to learn I will have a poem published in Headline Poetry soon, a poem I’ve been writing for years and didn’t want to let go of…for years. It’s a dramatic monologue–in two voices.  A double dramatic monologue if you will. 

Thanks @headlinepoets
More to follow.

And while I am not very radical at all, here’s what the journal is about:

Headline Poetry

Current Event Inspired Poetry, and other radical artistic commentary

 

Photo:Christian Maréchal [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

 

 

 

 

Jab of Feral Cat

red cat picture from creative commons

A few years ago, I saw a male cat at my patio door. It was a loud August day, full of cicadas trilling.  I could hear them, but not the cat-sounds.  I could see his mouth move, and I think he was mewing.

It was high August, a loud fierce time of blasting summer heat, sounds, images.

As to the cat, whom I called Big Red?  He looked bad—had been in some type of fight. He was skinny, losing weight. I’d been noticing him for years and grew to be fond of this fighter—he had challenged a coyote and won!  He would fight younger, stronger male cats.

And he would eat from anyone who would feed him, learning quickly that the back patios were home to older ladies at home who loved cats.

And I am writing about a cat, but also poetry. Because I could not hear him.  Because the words “pane” and “pain” came to mind, and boundaries and borders came to mind.

I jotted down some ideas on my phone in Notes.  And just found them years later, since I had posted them on Facebook—yes Facebook—so I could find them again. They came up on my timeline, so it worked.

Just a cat poem rough draft.   I want to see where I can go with this with language, can I create a real poem?

We shall see—maybe that jab of feral cat will come alive.

Just a few snippets from that time ten years ago, since I am submitting a revised/ edited full version for publication and don’t want to have this considered published.

ROUGH DRAFT–partial poem

jab of feral kitten
black, white, orange
crust on nose and mouth
up to glass door
paw up to glass he
mewed silently
all that pane
between cat sounds
and my world…

 

 

(picture from the creative commons–Big Red does look like this, only bigger, furrier, and much older)C5438C4D-7EFC-4B03-8398-D253E9D9DDE8

I Won’t be Going “Back to School” in the Fall

        insprie teacher change     For the first time in 28 years, I won’t be going “back to school” in the fall. I need to take some time off to recover from an annoying injury, and I plan to return in the spring session.

To say I am disappointed is very true. This is the first time in my working life–going back to 1969!–I had to say, I cannot do this right now. Not there anyway, with the mile long parking lots and the super long walks to the classes. Not yet.

 I love teaching, and I will miss it a lot this fall term. 

So… if you hear my brains rattling or if you hear some whimpering on my part, give me a nudge and remind me there might be life outside of teaching.

Or just tell me to get to work getting better.