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!

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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.

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: “Orpheus the Coward”

pompeii-statue-childs-lips

Orpheus the Coward

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I didn’t tear apart my broken heart,

show its bloody pieces to the world

 

unless you count my music.

In that I laid myself bare,

my grief as exposed as an infant

left on a lonely hill

for beasts to feast upon.

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I didn’t choose to die,

to trap us both in that deep darkness,

breathe the earth above our heads

as we quake in Hades’s rich domain,

both doomed to finally drink

from that fatal river that makes us forget

each other.

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I chose to run to hell

to bring my love to life,

to calm the viscous demon-dog’s rage,

to bring salt tears to the icy cheeks

of Hades and his Queen,

to rescue my wife of a single day,

to bring her back to that same day’s sun.

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I chose to lead her back

from those cold depths,

feel her silent steps

behind me but never look to see.

The price of her freedom

my uncertainty.

 

But the Fates are bitches

that toy with human lives:

my feet touched earth,

yet still I looked back too soon.

She remained in darkness.

I lost her at the border

between life and death,

dark and light, fear and hope.

Her fading farewell,

as translucent as the hand

I reached for

but could not grab.

 

No second charm would work

on Hell’s cold denizens.

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I sat and thought and tried

to find a way through the fog

of my brain to win her back again.

None came, but as I struggled

to compose my next hopeless plan,

alone with my lyre,

just me and my pain,

I was torn apart,

my body as broken as my heart.

 

I did not kill myself for love,

but I was not sorry to go.

 

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Thank you for visiting my blog! The above poem was inspired by the Speech of Phaedrus in Plato’s Symposium in which Orpheus was dubbed a coward because he did not die for love like a more traditional hero. 

Wherever you are, stay safe, stay well, and read often!

 

*Image courtesy of www.publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons License.

POEM: “Achilles, the Heel”

wellington-monument-in-hyde-park-1476431884x7m1144218186226525214.jpg

Achilles, the Heel

 

Greatest of Greek warriors that fought

upon the soil surrounding distant Troy,

you fought with the strength of a demigod,

yet what you are most famous for is your

weakest part.

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As always, I will post here again in two weeks, and my Patreon posts once a week. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know in the comments, and have a great couple weeks!

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*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Universal License.

 

Friday Flash: Trapped

The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.

Trapped

From my pilot’s seat, I watch the contents of the aquarium tank strapped to the plane’s inner wall. My cargo’s withstood shipment far better than I anticipated. Mermen bodies are less valuable dead than alive, so I’m glad I took extra precautions to ensure this package is cared for properly. Thank the gods I took him to the vet and had him sedated before shipment. Though the tank is shatter-resistant, I wouldn’t want to test it, because if he becomes violent, he might damage himself.

Usually, men alone track mermen, but their rarity coupled with their ferocity makes capturing them almost impossible. No one expects a woman to bag such a vicious creature. But it pays to know the science. By synthesizing mermaid pheromones, I’m able to use them to my advantage. I’m actually surprised how easy it was to lure the thing into a cage.

Still, he is a handsome beast. The way his emerald hair floats in the tank’s water, the way his sea-green eyes sparkle–

He’s watching me.

He’s watching me, capturing me in the depths of those startling eyes.

I feel myself change course, away from land and back towards the sea. My hands are moving; I feel the plane’s weight shift now that the nose is aimed for those beautiful, calm waters.

The merman lifts himself from his tank. I smell salt air and realize just how wrong I’ve been about everything.

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

** I used a random word generator to get the three words I used as prompts: trap, weather, runway.

Friday Flash: Tempting Fate

The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.

lightning-2a7z

Clotho inhaled, enjoying the heady aroma of roasted beans and caffeine that permeated the small coffee shop. The temptation to step inside and grab a cup was irresistable. She didn’t know if mortals could actually smell caffeine, but it gave the goddess a deep sense of satisfaction–almost like the burnt offerings humans used to offer the gods in the past. But not now. Now, if they burned her coffee? Well, she’d be pissed.

What’s the worst that could happen?

A little chime sounded on the Fate’s cell phone. In the old days, there had been an actual tiny bell that would appear and disappear, but she savored the advancements that came with the passage of time, just as she savored a good cup of joe. She also liked the little bell sound. Best of both worlds, really.

And why not? She wasn’t trapped by linear time the way mortals were, but she enjoyed watching its passage from their perspective. She sipped her coffee, sighing with pleasure. The little bell chimed again.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Long ago, she’d put a filter on the alert, only taking note of those “great ones” who tempted Fate with those fateful words. Great ones? Ha! Just another term for “more fun to mess with.” As if politicians and celebrities held more sway over the tapestry of life than she and her sisters–or even wandering beggars in the right circumstances. Just pull the right thread, snip another, and whole swathes of cloth would unravel, only to be rewoven in the pattern of their choosing.

Even the gods themselves knew not to tempt Clotho and her sisters, for while they could be generous, they also found a challenge hard to resist.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Let’s see. Buddha and Christ had both been beggars who changed the world for the better. Would she be that generous this time? She checked her notifications to see who had tempted…er, challenged her so often in the past few minutes. Upon seeing the name, she scowled and decided that perhaps this time, she and her sisters would not be kind.

She texted Atropos and Lachesis about their latest challenge. Their reply?
This will be FUN.
Clotho chuckled to herself. Two more mochaccinos suddenly appeared on the counter in front of the startled barista; the goddess grabbed the white styrofoam cups, tucked her cell back into her earth-friendly tote, and headed out the (now) automatic doors.

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com.