POEM: I Remember

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I Remember

 

Seventeen years ago

the world changed

 

my world changed

 

Seventeen years ago

I held my infant son in my arms

as I watched the buildings burn

across every channel

 

as I watched the planes

hit the towers again

and again

and again

 

as I watched the billowing black smoke

the ash of the fallen

of the thrown

of the incinerated

 

of those who threw

their own lives away

to snatch the lives of innocents

for the crime working in a country they hated

 

I remember watching footage

on tv of people in foreign lands

dancing and cheering at the news of so many lives lost

and wondering why

 

I remember watching the face

of the child in my arms

and wondering

what kind of world he would live in

 

the same wondering I felt

when I had watched the news days after his birth

the news of the newborn babe found in a dumpster

his life thrown away

 

the same wondering I felt

when a gunman shot up kindergartners

looking forward to Christmas parties

and frosted glittery cupcakes

 

the same wondering I felt

when students shot up their high school,

then themselves, shooting

for simultaneous oblivion and notoriety

 

the same wondering I felt

when Batman fans died

crouching on floors and hiding behind seats

for the sin of making it to opening night

 

the same wondering I felt

when a middle schooler one district over

shot himself in his school’s bathroom,

imagining his blood splattered on floors and walls

 

the same wondering I felt

when a couple from my son’s own high school

shot themselves in the woods outside his friend’s home

not ten minutes away

 

the same wondering I felt

when I thought of those other families,

of the victims, heroes, loved ones,

of children growing up without mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers

 

the same wondering I feel

when I think how easily it could be me

 

 

 

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons license

**The above poem is dedicated to the families and victims of September 11th, as well as the victims of violence around the world throughout the years. May your loved ones never be forgotten. May you always be safe and free.

 

 

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Announcement: My Poetry Collection, Soul Picked Clean

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I am incredibly honored to announce that my first book of poetry, Soul Picked Clean, will be published by Crisis Chronicles Press in early 2019!

Crisis Chronicles Press was founded by John Burroughs in 2008. They’ve published writers from all over the world, in every continent except Antarctica, and from time to time give special emphasis to great Ohio poets. Crisis Chronicles recently published their 100th title.

I will also be appearing at the Massillon Library Local Author Fair on Saturday, November 10th from 1030am – 1pm. I will post updates about the book and future readings as information becomes available. Thank you!

POEM: Spread Love like Mustard

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“Spread Love like Mustard”

Spread love like mustard
on a reality sandwich,
Lay it on thick and strong.
Slice time in thin layered segments,
press those moments together
Sweet and sour, tart and spicy
Raspberry preserve minutes on
Sauerkraut days.

Consume all at once or pull off
the bits we like best: Relish them.

Crunch through each delicious layer.
Let each bite fill us, make us whole.

 

*inspired by a FB post on May 1st, 2018 from Kisha Nicole Foster.

 

Book Review: Blood Work by Kisha Nicole Foster

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Blood Work by Kisha Nicole Foster is a thoughtful, moving collection of verse from one of Cleveland’s many great poets. Since her first collection was published, her style has evolved to become more visual, more elegant–relying less heavily on sound and more on the written form. Metaphors rather than multiple rhymes.

These are poems about family: specifically her father and son. However, the loss and regret felt over interactions with family are universal and relatable. The visceral connections of blood are used, as the title implies, as well as other metaphors. For example, she speaks about wooden roller coasters in both “Wooden Siamese Cats” and “I Smiled Back.”

[from “Wooden Siamese Cats”]

A wooden roller coaster

you and I

looping through air.

An unauthorized aerial act

of understanding.

She also references testimony in “Forcing Smiles” and (again) “I Smiled Back”, two complimentary poems placed next to each other in the collection.

[from “Forcing Smiles”]

you said whether you lived or died

you would be testimony

and

[from “I Smiled Back”]

When we talked on the phone,

he told me that this thing was life or death.

That if he lived he was going to be a testimony

and if he died he was going to be a testimony.

I wanted to overlook the death part.

I didn’t really need those words in my ears.

The shared use of key words and images makes the entire collection stronger. All the poems are so connected, each one feels like part of a larger narrative. Her streamlined approach uses straight forward language to eloquently convey deeply felt emotions. I know I felt emotional reading her words, especially the ones about her father, since it connected me to my own father’s loss a couple years ago. It’s beautiful.

So if you are a fellow poetry lover, I suggest you get this book immediately. If you are lucky enough to live in the Cleveland area, you can purchase it from Kisha Nicole Foster directly at a poetry event; otherwise, you can contact her through her FaceBook page. I’m sure you will enjoy these verses as much as I did.

Upcycling Trash into Crafting Treasure

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Bob the zombie pincushion was made with old tshirt fabric, torn pjs, and salvaged stuffing from an old pillow.

Making art and homemade crafts is an exciting way to spend your time, but many people are put off by the mistaken impression they need special equipment and skills to participate. While it is true that some basic tools are required to create certain crafts, most are cheap and easy to find or–better yet–easy to make yourself! The main ingredients for completing any type of craft are creativity and the ability to learn something new (cough, cough, YouTube, cough cough). Crafting is making a resurgence, along with the DIY movement, and what better way is there to spend your free time than creating something original as well as beneficial? It’s a great outlet, relaxing, and it affords you the opportunity to actively use your skills for the common good.

For the uninitiated into the crafty arts, craftivism is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of crafting and activism. Craftivists actively use their DIY talents to try to make the world a better place: from making banners that bring attention to an important issue to leaving anonymous homemade gifts in public places as encouragement that may brighten a stranger’s day. And you don’t need to buy a bunch of supplies to enjoy your favorite hobbies while working toward a more benevolent world.

Most of us don’t have a lot of money to spend on new or fancy supplies, and even if we did landfills are already overflowing with the results of our consumer-driven society. However, if we upcycle our own craft supplies, we cut down on our contribution to those landfills as well as save money and use up things we already have in our own homes; upcycling means taking something and finding a way to reuse it rather than throwing it away. If you have some basic supplies, like scissors and glue (or a glue gun), there are tons of ways to upcycle your own craft supplies. I want to share some of my favorites with you!

TSHIRT YARN:
That’s right. You can take old tshirts, cut across them below the sleeves to make one large loop of fabric, and then by cutting a series of strips from one side to almost the other, strategically cut to make one long strip of fabric. If you pull on the fabric strip, the cut ends will curl up like the fancy chunky yarn sold in craft stores. The video is very precise, and she uses fancy cutting tools, but you don’t need to be precious about it. Cutting freehand with scissors works just fine. Tshirt yarn is great for chunky scarves.
Here is a link to a helpful video illustrating the process: LINK

PLASTIC YARN:
“Plarn” is made pretty much the same way tshirt yarn is made. Simply cut off the bags bottom, cut across below the handles to create a single large loop of plastic. With the same strategic cutting, make one long strip of plastic yarn. Don’t try to pull on the edges to make it curl like tshirt yarn though; you’ll tear the plastic. Plarn is good for knitting water resistant items such as mats and shopping bags. LINK

FREE FABRIC:
This one is a no brainer, but cut up old clothes and sheets and anything else that will give you fabric. If you like embroidery, linen towels make great evenweave fabric, but don’t disregard unconventional ones such denim in old jeans, print from old skirts, or patches cut from old purses and scarves: patterned and textured fabric make for interesting and unique projects. In a pinch, you can go to a thrift store and buy second-hand clothes to cut up. Who knows? They might even have donated thread, yarn, and other art supplies.

 
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EMBROIDERY HOOPS:
This one is a little outside the box (or hoop), but you can convert lots of moderately flat circular objects into embroidery hoops. You can use old bicycle rims as hoops by using glue or elastic to secure the fabric you are working on. You can also use an exacto knife to cut a hole in the lid of a tupperware container, cut off the top section of the container itself, and snap the two parts together to make a fabric hoop. And you don’t need to be limited by shape either; experiment!* Maybe try using an old frame!

 
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THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX:
I know I’ve referenced out-of-the-box thinking previously, but it bears repeating. Do some research by searching YouTube for crafting videos or checking out library books, especially upcycling ones. Add coloring to glue to make textured paint. Cut up old plastic bottles to make everything from pencil cups to Christmas trees. Disassemble that old keyboard before recycling to salvage the keys for beads and the circuit board for other art projects. Spruce up something ugly by decoupaging with cut up comics, wrapping paper, or magazine pictures. A new coat of paint can make something old look like something new–even if you are using up old paint or you scored a great deal on spray paint from the local GoodWill. Why buy new when you can reuse with just a little imagination?

 

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Star Wars themed Christmas tree made with cut plastic bottles scotch-taped to a candle. The lightsabers were made with unused juice straws left over from Halloween.

If you like to embroider, you can make patterns from old coloring books, or simply draw on the fabric yourself; I know you probably already know that, but I’m sharing my favorite methods so get over yourself. And you don’t need to limit your embroidery or other art to just fabric. You can sew on plastic packing sheets (instead of fabric) or use mesh from produce bags for art projects. You can poke holes in photos, postcards, tin salvaged from cans, or other paraphernalia for unconventional embroidery projects. Again, YouTube instructional videos are pretty amazing. Enough said.

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clothespins and plastic bread tabs can be used to store embroidery floss

Some other simple crafting hacks:
-plastic bread tabs for storing embroidery floss
-wooden spring-loaded clothespins for storing embroidery floss
-soda can tabs for jewelry beads or chain mail
-plastic lids for coasters
-pill bottles for storing needles or other small sharp objects

 

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jellyfish created over embroidery hoop with assorted materials: salvaged mesh produce bags, bubble wrap, packing material.

The key to upcycling is the same as the key to crafting: imagination. If you get used to looking at things in new ways, there’s no limit to what you can make! So don’t spend money on any supplies before you’ve looked around your home for things that would work just as well if not better. In a pinch, second hand is better than first as you are not creating a need to manufacture more of an item that already exists and would otherwise go to a landfill.

Until I post again in two weeks, have a lovely life and happy crafting!

 

*Cards on the table, I have not tried the tupperware container one yet, but it looks really cool to me. 🙂

Book Review: CHAPTER ELEVEN by E.F. Schraeder

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E.F. Schraeder‘s Chapter Eleven poetry collection links both the financial and political aspects of health care and other industries with the real people that are effected. Poems like “Stopwatch Medicine” illustrate how healthcare feels like a churning machine to the doctor forced to ration time treating each patient. “For These Reasons” continues the thought of people being treated as cogs in a machine, with brilliant lines like:

Every aisle a staggering surprise of

consumer options that tie my hands

with dish rags (10 for $1!)

to women 12,000 miles away.

The poems within this deceptively thin book detail personal loss, health scares, education, the decline and deaths of loved ones–as well as biting social commentary. She even uses the ready-made metaphor of Humpty Dumpty for her purposes on more than one occasion. For example, in “Almost OK — for Humpty” she turns the nursery rhyme’s disturbing imagery into insights on living as a damaged person:

A certain light still reveals

the shadows of the cracks.

My only regret about this poetry collection is that I can’t give you a direct link to buy it from any of the big bookstore sites.. You can, however, order it directly from Partisan Press, or if you are lucky enough to live near Cleveland, pick up a copy at Mac’s Backs  or Visible Voice  bookstores! Trust me. It’s worth the trip.