CURRENT EVENTS:  Creative BREAKS and Permission for Self Care

A-1 Bookstore of Canton, Ohio (photo taken by Cat Russell, 2021)

While I’m rewriting my draft for my second novel, Hera Unbound, I’m altering my monthly content from poems to either writing prompts or short posts about current events.  

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CURRENT EVENTS:

Last November I utilized the resources of National Novel Writing Month–aka NaNoWriMo–to create the first draft of my next novel, a retelling of the Olypian coup against Zeus by his wife, Hera, goddess of marriage. Most people who are passingly familiar with Greek mythology only know Hera as the goddess of marriage demonized as the persecutor of her husband’s mistresses/victims. I wanted to tell her story. 

Originally I planned to take a couple months off and begin the second draft in the new year, but my family has been hit by one thing after another and honestly, it just kept getting put on the back burner. I had a couple false starts that didn’t really pan out. Then, after months of triaging my life, I finally decided that instead of trying to edit the original draft, I’d just start over.  I looked over my original draft–including notes on things that needed to be addressed, redrafted a new outline that corrected the previous problems, and started over. I’m currently on chapter two.

WRITER PERMISSION: I’m giving myself permission to ease my commitments to my blog, writing short summaries instead of creating fresh poems for each post, in order to concentrate on this larger project. I also give myself permission to take a step back if and when needed, as many times as needed. I may be a writer, but I’m also a person, and my mental health comes first.

I am including this, not only to reaffirm this to myself, but to tell any other struggling writers out there, it’s okay to take a break when you need one. If you can’t write anything, go work on something else. Or binge The Walking Dead. Do whatever you need to do to find your equilibrium again. It’s not only okay, it’s necessary.

Thank you.

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*image taken by myself in 2021 of A-1 Bookstore in Canton, Ohio.

*Next Friday, I’ll also post a short followup on my Patreon.  If you’d like to read about my progress and plans for this year, you can subscribe there to support my work for as little as $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!

FOUND POEM: “book-wrapt”

Photo by Zichuan Han on Pexels.com
book-wrapt”

The quintessential connection to books
a private sanctuary  programmed
for escapism.

delightful displayed in the home
they work wonders en masse
exuding breath of generations, 
nourish senses, slay boredom   
relieve distress.

read a passage and be inspired
all authors are alive  
where a jumble of books ends

we hold possibility  

as if desperately waiting an unused book
a library is never done




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Next Friday, I’ll also post on my Patreon.  If you’d like to read about my progress and plans for this year, you can subscribe to my Patreon and support my work for just $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!

#*found poem inspired and taken from (Dec 24, 2021) The New York Times article by Julie Lasky titled “How Many Books Does It Take to Make a Place Feel Like Home?

BONUS POEM: “i wandered carefree as a weed”

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com
i wandered carefree as a weed(a lyric in honor of my lawn--as well as Wordsworth’s I wandered lonely as a Cloud)

I wandered carefree as a weed
that floats through clouds and skies of blue,
unlike the golden daffodils
landlocked in groups of ten and two,
narcissus bent faces downcast
despite the sunny bright forecast.
 
the daffodils herald spring days,
the dandelions announce them too,
but one lasts weeks, then petals shed
must twelve months wait until renewed,
while hardy yellow lion’s teeth
dot greenery, rebirth, unsheathe
 
after a short time within
their green leaves folded over blades
the hue of sun transmutate
to angel wings of snowy grace 
while daffodil’s corpse litters ground
the lowly weeds’ freedom is found
 
the cultivated daffodil
lives lonely, keeping company
with others of its kind plus one
red tulip flushing prettily.
vanity did isolate it,
its love is unreciprocated. 
 
meanwhile the humble sunlit weed
keeps face upturned to heaven’s vault:
the azure skies, the cotton clouds,
even the thunderstorm’s assault
of mowing blade now sharp and cruel
that can’t defeat this disdained jewel 
 
Often I lie upon my bed
and wonder that resilient bloom, 
its color bright, its upturned head,
survives despite the farmers’ doom.
Daffodils may dance sublime,
but me? I love the dandelion.  
 
 
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This poem is posted in honor of the 30th Annual Dandelion May Fest, which takes place this weekend. If you’d like to read about my progress and plans for this year, you can subscribe to my Patreon and support my work for just $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!

POEM: “watercolors”

Photo by Beckett on Pexels.com
watercolors” 

practice trains you
to observe everyday details
the exact blue of heaven isn’t blue
it’s cobalt, azure, gold and scarlet,
rose blooms into violet,
silver marbles the horizon
before blackest night

awash in color
Rorschachs blossom
my mind’s edges cauliflower
errors discover possibility
fill each canvas with pauses
lightening then brightening 
always saving the darkest for last
nothing cannot be adapted
to something new, sometimes better
forgiveness is pigment 
forgiveness is water, brush, paper
always ready to soak up excess
or spread radiant hues

ad libbing elements
an individual choice
     ships may soar dew-kissed sky
     clouds break like china cups
     black holes rip gaping edges 
     in the empty vault of heaven
     ready to swallow all

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Next Friday, I’ll also post on my Patreon.  If you’d like to read about my progress and plans for this year, you can subscribe to my Patreon and support my work for just $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!

*inspired by several YouTube videos on watercolor, as well as a watercolor class I took at the North Canton Public Library led by artist Jack Fetzer.

POEM: “morning routine”

morning routine

the kettle calls,
the song of steamed leaves,
sugarcane, and the warm cup
in my hands. over toast
i view the tea warmer's flame,
the hearth and heart of our happy home



Next Friday, I’ll also post on my Patreon.  If you’d like to read about my progress and plans for this year, you can subscribe to my Patreon and support my work for just $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: “paper journeys”

paper journeys”

Long lonely childhood days 
I lounged beneath the mulberry tree,
just Thisbee and me, 
waiting for Pyramus 
to take us away, I'd play 
host to Hermes and Zeus, 
coast wine-dark seas 
devour siren song, 
draw Labyrinthian threads 
through Minotaur’s home, 
and soar cornflower sky
beside Daedalus before 
my waxen wings would melt; 
lofty flight cut short by sun 
and seafoam, left alone 

in my room, immersed in biblichor, 
i buried myself beneath thin sheets,
knowing only myths’ allure: 
my escape into fantasy

i knew no other hope 
for awkward me,
so dreamed gods and heroes 
fell for my charms, left heaven itself
to save me from earthly woes,
protect me from those
i could not bear to face.

those travels served me well,
provided refuge--fiction and facts
to complement the lessons of experience: 
wilder girls braved the unknown;
Lois Lane endured without Superman;
Nelly Bly broke stories, wrote and made
history; the deaf and blind may see 
farther without the gift of sight; 
despite millennia, a woman's verse
survives in fragments of paper mache, 
and princesses are heroes too.

the old saying rings true:
the journey is more important
than the destination, though
each step needed to be 
to arrive at now. i needed 
to grow up to learn 
saviors exist outside books alone, 
adventures are not what we await 
but opportunities we create 
stepping outside our comfort zone: 

the heart of each encounter
when we brave enough
to rescue ourselves.

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Next Friday, I’ll also post on my Patreon.  If you’d like to read about my progress and plans for this year, you can subscribe to my Patreon and support my work for just $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!

*Written for Cuyahoga Library’s Read+Write+Poetry writing prompt for April 2nd, 2021.

**The female heroes I refer to later in the poem (both fictional and real) are Laura Wilder, Lois Lane, Nelly Bly, Helen Keller, Sappho, and Wonder Woman.

**image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

First Two Chapters of Pinholes as a FREE audio!

Pinholes book cover

As a New Year’s gift to you all (which has absolutely nothing to do with book promotion), I’m making the first two chapters of my latest book, Pinholes: Traveling Through the Curtain of the Night, available as a free audio! Here is the link for its Internet Archive page below. Enjoy!

FREE AUDIO LINK: https://archive.org/details/pinholes-promo-podcast-2chapters-released-january-2022

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If, after listening to the first two chapters, you can’t wait to find out what happens next, you can buy Pinholes: Traveling Through the Curtain of the Night as a Kindle ebook for only $5.99! And if that still isn’t enough for you, I’ve included obligatory legal information to read below. You’re welcome.

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*The sound effects were provided by Zapsplat.com.

*The music was used via Free Music Archive: Kevin MacLeod’s Aurea Carmina and his Impact intermezzo via Creative Commons License. Both the sound effects and the music were modified for this recording, and their use does not imply endorsement by the creators.

*The book’s cover image was included purely for promotional purposes.

Cover Art: Stars Forming Like Pearls In A Clam https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=151450

Cover Artist: Nona Lohr https://nona-lohr.pixels.com/

POEM: “Siren Song”

Siren Song”

      you've been warned
know where they live across open sea
know which sharp craggy rocks they perch upon
snaring sailors on their deadly shore
cracking the bones of sea-faring men
cleaning their flesh from teeth stained 
by a thousand extinctions, they sing
music of the spheres to lure and leech
the lives of enamored audiophiles

       choose another route
sail from those soul-sucking succubi
their heavenly voices and sanguine incisors
      stuff your ears with wax
or blast Bach through headphones
to cancel out their carrion call 
      better to cast eardrums into the Western sea 
than drown yourself in black oblivion

	who would not be tempted 
by them, to hear the complementary notes 
of creation and destruction? 
the voice of god vibrates in the music 
of spheres spinning through the void 
as well as the whisper of autumn breezes
each shimmering fish in the sea.
no need to risk all when 
beauty’s before you.

	resist the temptation
danger loses its allure 
when you’re a corpse: dead is dead. 
sex and danger cancel each other 
when sunk within 
deep ocean 
graves

and yet
      some things are worth dying for,

but
for some 
a simple mutilation will suffice,
or 

maybe something less
like--a pounding head,
    --an eardrum busted 
by noise-canceling BOSE,
    and an enormous credit card bill 





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*inspired by the following tweet by @sentantiq at 6:59am May 13, 2021
“Someone might escape the beautiful bewitchment of Homer’s Sirens by not starting at all, by stuffing wax in his ears, or by turning in some other direction.” #Eustathius

*common sense disclaimer: I am not disparaging BOSE earpieces, just commenting in the poem that blasting music too loud (to cancel out outside noise) through any earpiece could damage your ears.

*note: I am no longer using twitter for ethical reasons (link), but this prompt was written earlier, before I left the platform.

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: “shield”

shield” 

during months or years of peace
his wife has been polishing--the shield 
blackened as it hung in the chimney corner
 
respond to the call to fight 
plain duty admits no hesitation. 
a hard interruption of their happy lives, 
the risk of passing 
from the warm company of men 
to the chill shades of death. they knew bravery 
is not an everyday possession.
highly as they prized it

to warm their hearts for the clash 
most Greek armies 
as they charged,
shouted,
that each might borrow from the general stock 
courage. 

what best suits the citizen-soldier 
battle 
in which one short effort carries him forward, 
in which a man’s duty to his immediate comrade 
best spurs his intent.

during months or years of peace
the shield blackened as it hung in the chimney corner
his wife has been polishing



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--found poem taken from The Greek and Macedonian Art of War by F.E. Adcock. If you are unfamiliar with this type of poetry, it’s a way of collaging the work of another author into a unique poem by clipping, altering, and rearranging pieces into something new.

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: “The Unsigned Letter”





Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com
The Unsigned Letter”

“No need to sign since I give it her myself”
the lie you told, hiding your true feelings
in the pocket nearest your beating heart

she described you perfectly yet you saw no hope, 
seeing beauty everywhere but in yourself,
you lie concealed behind another’s handsome face,
a poet’s exercise excuses your tear-stained words

divinity of form for a form poet: why can’t you see 
the truth of yourself? more than a poem composed,
you are the sonnet that creates itself.

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Thanks for stopping by my blog. Check out my Patreon for more of my writing! 

I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be reading selections from my book, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, at Barberton Library on Saturday, September 11th at 2pm!  I will also be selling and signing copies of the book for those who are interested.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well, and read often!

*inspired by Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac.