Saturday, April 29, 2017

Two Lists and Six Haiku, by Caroline Gates-Lupton

I Miss . . . .

I miss
When ten o'clock was late at night
Star gazing in the hammock
Having no responsibilities
"Ice skating" in rain boots
The cats: Allie, D-Max, Priscilla, and Max
Sliding down the space between the wall and my bunk bed
My dad's wild, dream-filled stories
Playing hide-and-seek
Her blonde hair and the way she called me sissy
Being the tallest
When the biggest decision I had to make was whether or not to have mac and cheese for lunch
Making up games that lasted for hours

I Don't Miss . . . .

I don't miss
Being too little
Being called "bossy"
Feeling outcast from my siblings' games
Not being allowed to stay home alone
Not knowing how to ride a bike (and earning scraped shins and bruises in the process of learning)
Not having 24/7 access to a kitchen
Being pooped on by a bird
Having almost no independence (and wanting none)
Hanging out with a girl whom I liked, then disliked, then despised
Strangers walking through my yard
Being terrified of the unexplained noises I heard at night
The way the bathroom door stuck
My aunt
Ladybug infestations
Never having enough socks

= = =

brother and sister
mistaken for twins
i'm two years older

mother and daughter
reddish hair
different eyes

father and daughter
i looked like him
when i was born

sister and sister
best friends
we talk (she talks) nonstop

cat and girl
she likes to touch
her head to mine

me then, me now
two steps away
i'll reach back for you

Friday, April 28, 2017

List of Lists, by Rob Sullivan

top 100 rock songs
sweetest desserts
languages spoken
dances done
favorite times on clock
best temperatures by season
baseball cards I've known and loved
coolest cars of our youths
words for snow
concerts that transcended
movie scenes to cry for
countries on the bucket list
garden tools
friends down through the ages
fiends, boogeymen, and monsters
acts of random kindness
messages that come from our heart of hearts
favorite dogs of friends
moments of ecstasy
times of sorrow
foods foodies favor

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Was It When, by Barbara Anger

When was the time I woke up
Without a rock in my hip
A knotty stick down my spine?

When did my neck reach like a horse
Or my hair trail in the wind
While my nostrils reached for breath?

Was it when I rolled out of bed
Leapt barefoot to the light
And crowed with a chicken?

It was between then and now
Galloping on without fear
Feet kicking louder than life.

It was in tomorrow’s dreams
Left on the breakfast table
For me to take a big bite.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My Snapshot Life, by Patti Witten

1. I was born in a house full of music made or silenced, and several big secrets

2. Three sisters, me in the middle, bickering or absorbed in play; summers at the beach where the art of rowing and the power of storms was learned

3. Adolescence spent in defiance and alliance, fighting for permission to wear jeans for god's sake, and breaking other rules

4. Forcing myself to experience sex, drugs, and risk but finding no joy in it, feeling betrayed by false promises of becoming a normal woman, a pretty girl, of being accepted by the cool kids

5. Drinking my disappointment

6. More of this, for years

7. First short marriage ending in separation, then his sudden death and my guilt

8. Second short marriage ending in self-doubt and fury

9. Four abortions; three without remorse

10. My father's death, such a blow, followed by a decade of courage marked by a brief music career that was incredibly hard and at times incredibly rewarding

11. A bunch of part-time jobs

12. Caretaker for my elderly aunt who taught me that care is not the same as love

13. Suddenly I am the oldest in many social and work situations

14. The inner life swells as the active life diminishes, but there is always Netflix and Facebook to distract me. Memory and mental agility decrease along with increase in arthritis and insomnia

15. What next? I am a little scared to find out


NOTE: This piece was inspired by the poem "Curriculum Vitae," by Lisel Meuller

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Collective Happiness List, by 39 contributors

Happiness is having multiple unabridged dictionaries in my room

Happiness is playing a song without missing a note, and maybe playing some new notes that are just right

Happiness is walking through the woods, grateful for my feet, my eyes, ears, and breath

Happiness is removing stones from a garden plot and readying soil for spring planting

Happiness is when my children are happy, when they do not fear, when they honor my advice, when they do not live in my house, when they do live just down the block

Happiness is eating a succulent mango, and avocado-on-toast

Happiness is seeing a smile on your face, what a gift that is

Happiness is staying home when I feel like it and going to work when I want to

Happiness is a slight change in the day that I notice but don't cling to

Happiness is tossing a blue Frisbee

Happiness is finding just the right size box for sending a small pile of gifts out in the mail

Happiness is knowing that I have enough time to really enjoy what I am doing

Happiness is getting words on the page that reflect how I feel and what I think

Happiness is setting a boundary that doesn't harm another person

Happiness is knowing that my mother loved me

Happiness is the moment I realize that I have given everything I have to give

Happiness is going to the edge and a little bit over, losing balance just enough to fall but not crash and burn

Happiness is the moment when I see the line of your back, from neck to waist, and it undoes me

Happiness is when I see you at the top of the stairs, pulling on your socks and boots, and just after that instant of intoxication I find myself relinquishing . . . dissolving

Happiness is when chaos is nullified and order takes its place

Happiness is when dust and dirt are removed and cleanliness reigns

Happiness is accepting what is, and what might be

Happiness is  looking out the window the same second a woodpecker appears

Happiness is having no particular place to go but still going anyway

Happiness is watching a muted football game while listening to a Verdi opera

Happiness is a new haiku — yours or mine

Happiness is rain, just enough, followed by sun

Happiness is when the primrose decides — finally — to re-bloom

Happiness is knowing there is enough yummy leftover casserole for tonight's supper

Happiness is finding a parking spot right where I need it

Happiness is feeling arms around my legs — a surprise hug from my five-year-old grandson

Happiness is beating my youngest sister in a game of Words With Friends

Happiness is riding my bike downtown, no parking worries

Happiness is opening the computer and finding an e-mail from a young friend in Vietnam

Happiness is discovering I think I can do better — and then doing better

Happiness is plowing through dozens of cookbooks, food magazines, and recipe cards and stumbling upon something unexpected

Happiness is finding the last two scoops of coffee — enough for one morning cup

Happiness is going to the mailbox and seeing a handwritten letter from my sister

Happiness is seeing the tulip buds in the garden and knowing I'll be there tomorrow to see them bloom

Happiness is seeing deer hopping over a fallen log

Happiness is spending time with a good friend, in a quiet restaurant booth

Happiness is having a breakthrough in my thoughts and then sharing that with someone who really understands

Happiness is realizing that it doesn't matter why something makes me happy, it's enough that it just does

Happiness is being woken up by my granddaughter and her huge stuffed Easter bunny

Happiness is drawing stick figures on the sidewalk with egg-shaped chalk

Happiness is having at least four murder mysteries sitting on my shelf, waiting for me

Happiness is greeting strangers with a smile and a few friendly words, and realizing that this is a good trait I've inherited from my father

Happiness is knowing I won't have to wear heavy wool socks again for at least six months

Happiness is a good hair day

Happiness is rain on the roof, a cat in your lap, a new notebook, and a working pen

Happiness is knowing the maidenhair fern will soon re-emerge

Happiness is sloshing through mud and not caring that my shoes are getting dirty

Happiness is walking across the grass and realizing that I'm no longer sinking in mud

Happiness is listening to Brazilian music and watching children dancing

Happiness is not something I take for granted

Happiness is finishing a project I've been working on for months and discovering that I like the way it turned out

Happiness is eating a wonderful piece of Swiss chocolate that has a surprise filling of raspberry jelly

Happiness is finding that someone else has done the laundry, and left it  — clean and folded — on top of the dryer

Happiness is the sight of buds opening on the maple, and the unexpected appearance of tulips

Happiness is being the favorite uncle

Happiness is seeing my lover's smiles after a month of frowns

Happiness is knowing that everyone who should be home, and asleep in bed, is

Happiness is the smell of lemons

Happiness is sitting on the porch in the sunshine, drinking bubble tea

Happiness is when a friend recommends an author and I read the first book in a series, like it, and discover that there are eight more books I can now read

Happiness is when a postcard arrives in the mail and at first I can't decipher the signature so I have no idea who sent it, but then I look again and it all becomes clear and I re-read the message and like it even more the second time around

Happiness is when the oatmeal turns out just right and I find a ripe banana in the fruit bowl

Happiness is sitting on the beach, watching the sunset, on a glorious Florida beach . . . in February

Happiness is finding the orange and grey striped socks that match my sweater perfectly

Happiness is seeing how the radish sprouts on my window sill stand up tall, to greet the sun

Happiness is my dog, always at my feet wanting a treat, but I believe it's really love she wants; she can't fool me

Happiness is when my students are rowdy and appreciate my humor and we all laugh together

Happiness is when my brother calls on the telephone and we laugh all the way to our childhood

Happiness is seeing a chipmunk and a sparrow drinking together at the bird bath

Happiness is receiving a last minute invitation to join a friend at the movie theatre

Happiness is finding my car in the parking lot at Wegmans

Happiness is the slightly downhill part of a path toward the end of my seven-mile run, where I feel fast and invincible

Happiness is when I have the house (and a whole day) to myself, to do whatever it is I need to do

Happiness is a 10-year-old boy who thinks he is too old to do so, forget himself and grab my hand and pull me across the room

Happiness is laughing with friends over shared mistakes

Happiness is found in the little ritual of making coffee in the morning with my one-cup French press

Happiness is looking forward to going camping again this summer with dear friends

Happiness is spending time with my energetic young granddaughter when she comes to visit

Happiness is going for a morning walk without feeling any back pain

Happiness is seeing a smile on a stranger's face

Happiness is pulling up to the drive-through window at Burger King

Happiness is the purple hyacinths in full bloom outside my window

Happiness is watching a mother robin bring long blades of grass to add to the nest she's building

Happiness is hearing my vet say "she's doing great" when I bring my 15-year-old cat in for her annual check-up

Happiness is feeling a sneeze coming on but before it arrives it goes away

Happiness is making a to-do list for the day and everything on it is something I am looking forward to doing

Happiness is waking up in the middle of the night with a big worry and figuring out a solution right away, and the worry disappears

Happiness is making people laugh, especially when I mean to

Happiness is the feel of a pen in my hand as it moves along the page

Happiness is sitting downstairs reading while my darling takes a nap upstairs

Happiness is watching and listening to a thunderstorm from indoors where it's safe and dry

Happiness is matching a sock in the laundry, or finding a missing glove

Happiness is my solitude, broken only by birds

Happiness is sharing my great joys and discoveries in writing with other writers

Happiness is being understood, despite our differences

Happiness is when my 85-year-old mother makes a great joke

Happiness is when I stop to listen to my heart beat and I know I'm not just dreaming

Happiness is when the stars line up and I can count them forever

Happiness is when I feel my inner demons disappearing

Happiness is when I make soup and my grandmother smiles upon me

Happiness is when I am aching for the words just before they arrive, when they could be anything . . . just the right thing to sweep me off my feet

Happiness is when the sun sets on my lashes and the warmth stays on just a smidgen longer than the light before it

Happiness is when I am dreaming of something new, or attending to something ancient — 865th to touch the wood of this bassinet

Happiness is forgetting hard times while in a snuggle with my pig, with his warm breathy snout against my face, and his happy grunts

Happiness is people-watching in a new spot

Happiness is learning what I have in common with those I love

Happiness is finally completing a long lost project

Happiness is seeing an enormous green snake on the street and thinking "oh no," but as I get closer I realize it's my neighbor's garden hose and I think "phew"

Happiness is taking a walk and the first two lines of a haiku find me right away, and then just as I get to my front door the last line comes to me

Happiness is when a small (but strong) inner voice reminds me to look more closely and to feel more deeply

Happiness is noticing the single red tulips growing in odd places all along my street

Happiness is when one baby sleeps through the night and the other one kicks on the inside, and they both do this quietly

Happiness is when I am chatting with some other moms at baby story-time at the library and suddenly there is my son, running at me, ready to hug me — finding me among all the other moms

Happiness is when I'm listening to music on my iPod and the best song of all comes on and it makes me sing out loud

Happiness is when the cookies that I'm baking come out perfectly, neither flattened out nor burned

Happiness is seeing the first sprouts of tomatoes, basil, morning glories, cucumbers, lettuce, musk melon, and moonflowers, all in their starter pots

Happiness is knowing all my loved ones are in good places at the moment and things are going to be okay with them

Happiness is looking around this great wonderful earth and feeling grateful to be alive

Happiness is being in a circle with other writers, everyone recounting moments of happiness


The people who contributed to this collective happiness list participated in Writing Circles on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, during the 3rd week of April, 2017

Thank you for sharing your happinesses:

Annie Wexler
Ari Wunderlich
Barbara Anger
Caroline Gates-Lupton
Cheryl Gallien
Chris McNamara
Christine Sanchirico
Daniel Cooper
Daphne Solá
Fran Helmstadter
Gabrielle Vehar
Gwen Daniels
Jannie Lee Lewis
Kim Falstick
Kimberly Zajac
Larry Roberts
Linda Keeler
Liz Burns
Maimouna Phelan
Marty Blue Waters
Mary Louise Church
MaryJane Richmond
Matthew McDonald
Michelle Kornreich
Nancy Osborn
Patti Witten
Peggy Stevens
Peter Ladley
Rob Sullivan
Ross Haarstad
Saskya vanNouhuys
Stacey Murphy
Sue Crowley
Sue Norvell
Sue Perlgut
Summer Killian
Tara Kane
Zee Zahava

Friday, April 21, 2017

I Used to Imagine . . . by Liz Burns

I used to imagine the meanings of words, rather than take the time to look them up in the dictionary. 

One of these words was peripatetic. It had a slightly anxious sound to it, as if something was teetering on the edge of a table or a cliff and could suddenly fall off.  Or maybe it described someone full of hysteria who could break out into unceasing cackling laughter at any minute.

Another word was redolent. I used to think it meant someone turning red. Then that image changed to someone turning red and holding on to something for dear life, as if they didn’t want to be dragged away from it. 

The word cutlery used to evoke a picture of hundreds of pairs of scissors of all different shapes and sizes, including barbering shears and hedge trimmers. 

When it came to more technical terms, my imagination ran amok. 

When I heard the word sluice, I pictured a long sliding board with grape juice flowing down it. 

Nuts and bolts were what was in the can of Planters mixed nuts on the counter.  

A railroad trestle was a bridge with decorations on i t— a lot of gauze and ribbons that cheered up the train as it went past.  

A manhole was where the street repair guys went to eat lunch, and asphalt and concrete were interchangeable because they both meant streets and sidewalks.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

2 Poems, by Caroline Gates-Lupton

Some Days

Some days
I like to walk along the bridge
the one over the river
beside the corn field.

Some days
I take an umbrella
just in case
the river is in the clouds.

Some days
the river is a roaring thing
turning pale rocks dark with wet
other days
it's nothing.

= = =


The Hour: a list-poem

The hour of not wanting it to happen.
The hour of the ladybugs.
The hour she came back.
The hour between dawn and sunrise.
The hour when nobody moved, not even one inch.
The hour I found you.
The hour of making bread.
The hour of inky hands and pencil-smudged cheeks.
The hour of cinnamon buns.
The hour of turning blue in the sea.
The hour of literary studies.
The hour no one prepared you for.
The hour you wish to forget.
The hour of waiting... forever.
The hour that left you behind.
The hour the clock broke.
The hour of the day of the year you were born.
The hour of evening.
The hour of sitting home with a cold on Halloween.
The hour of bright dresses and fancy hair.
The hour I missed you.
The hour after I meant to wake up.
The hour after the first time you heard that song.
The hour of silence.
The hour that lasts a month or two.
The hour of falling asleep.
The hour of waking up, slowly.
The hour of finding exactly the right kind of food.
The hour you can't do anything right.
The hour of creaky floors and old steps.
The hour the telephone didn't ring.
The hour nobody wants to remember.
The hour we'd all hate to forget.