POEM: “Blessed Milk Thistle” *AND* Current Events

The lovely month of May brings dandelions (my favorite flowers), free comics, and nerdtastic holidays, but it’s also full of personal milestones as well. My anniversary, my son’s Prom, and his graduation all happen in the next few weeks!

I’m also really excited about upcoming poetry events this weekend! First, this Friday at 7pm, at Hackenberg Realty Group in Canton, I’ll be competing against the esteemed John Walters in my second Writing Knights sWord Fight! I’ve created a promo video for the event (above); it’s suitably serious. The other event I’m really excited about is the Hessler Street Fair Poetry Competition this coming Saturday evening.

For now though, I’d like to share a poem with you.

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Blessed Milk Thistle

Your bright purple blooms
so reminiscent of dandelions
and other maligned weeds
guilty of growing
where they shouldn’t–a blight

to urban gardens, but a delight
to lovers of wild things and bright
colors exploding against green grass

a boon to herbalists, home cooks,
pharmaceutical companies,
and mothers presented with
fiery bouquets picked by small,
chubby fingers and presented
with a smile.

Upon your spiky green leaves,
gardeners wage eternal war.

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Upcoming and Current Events:

Friday, May 10th (7pm – 9pm)

Writing Knights sWord Fight poetry competition is a monthly event where poets compete against each other via verse. This is my second time participating; this time I will compete against poet John Walters. Come by, and wish us luck!

 

Saturday, May 11th (7pm – 9pm)

I’m so honored to be a finalist in the Hessler Street Fair Poetry Contest. I will be competing in Cleveland against the other finalists. Come and hear some great poetry!
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Wednesday, May 15th (7pm – 9pm)

Latitudes Poetry Night is every third Wednesday at Compass Coffee (Akron) from 7pm – 9pm. There is usually a featured poet, followed by a short break and then an Open Mic.

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Thursday, May 23rd (6pm – 9pm)

The Write Stuff Authors’ Group meets monthly at the North Canton Library to workshop WIPs before adjourning to TD’s Grill at about 7:30pm for general literary merry-making.

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Saturday, May 25th (all day)

Towel Day! May 25th is the fan-tastic holiday for fans of the late great Douglas Adams. Every year my son and I celebrate by taking photos of ourselves to post to the Towel Day Flickr group, watching a Douglas Adams themed program (such as the BBC Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy mini series), and attempting a Terran non alcoholic version of the universe’s most alcoholic drink: the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster! The drinks are almost always terrible, but that’s in keeping with the effects of a drink that’s the equivalent of  “having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.” We often attempt Vogon Poetry as well, but then again, we like to live dangerously.

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Now that National Poetry Month is over, I’m returning to my regular schedule of posting every other Friday. I plan to continue to include a poem and/or short story each time, as well as updated current events. If you are interested in keeping up with my appearances and other poetry events, I suggest you check out the Cleveland Poetics Calendar (page link at top) or my social media accounts (on right).
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In the meantime, I wish for you a month filled with poetry. Thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope to see you at one of these events soon!

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POEM: The Ides of March

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The Ides of March

I knew his time was short:
his suffering would end

beginning another,
shoved into the dark
dusty corners of my mind.

Beware the Ides of March,
for when a life ends
others are changed.
Knowing it’s coming

does not lessen the pain.

*Today’s post is dedicated to my father, who died three years ago today.

POEM: Patterns

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Patterns

Bare trees branch the sky

like branchioles in lungs

 

like nuerons in brains firing

the smell of scorched spark plugs

 

Like water falling from a mountain

both divided and united, a spreading cooling fan

 

Like skyviewed landmasses seem rock

lined waves weaving through water as thread through cloth

 

Find these patterns with searching eyes and fingertips:

these Fibonacci fractals, this mathematic beauty

 

Underlying sounds pinpoint the reasons

wind sings through the leaves and rain

patters like feet running over wet stones

 

Pictures painted by one poorly versed in higher math

inspired by nature’s geometric beauty

 

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Since I’ve been posting so much about my book, I wanted to post an actual poem. I hope you enjoyed it.*

I was thrilled with the response to the cover reveal of my poetry book, Soul Picked Clean! Now, online only, the book is available to order for the low, low price of only $12!

But wait! There’s more!*

Also, Soul Picked Clean is only $10 to buy in-person, and I will donate 10% of that purchase to Project Gutenberg!* So, a new book, a chat with me, and a donation to something awesome. What are you waiting for?

Current and Upcoming Events:

Wednesday, March 20th (7pm – 9pm)

Latitudes Poetry Night: This Akron poetry event meets monthly at Compass Coffee, and usually features a guest poet reading, followed by an Open Mic.

Thursday, March 28th (6pm)

The Write Stuff This writers’ group meets at @North Canton Public Library once a month. If you’d like to check them out, bring 6-10 copies of something you’re working on. Writers break into groups based on genre and give feedback. I’ve always found it very helpful, and afterwards everyone usually goes to a local restaurant to talk–shop or otherwise.:)

Saturday, March 30th (7pm)

Book Launch party at Mac’s Backs, 1820 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118. Cat Russell and Pittsburgh-area poets Jason Irwin and Jen Ashburn will read.

Friday, April 12th

Aztilude sWord Fight Tournament in Canton, Ohio. I will be a “combatant” in my first live poetry competition. Come by, and wish me luck! More details forthcoming.

Saturday, April 13th (11am – 2pm)

Local Author Fair at Massillon Public Library, 208 Lincoln Way E, Massillon, Ohio 44646. I am scheduled to read briefly, and I will also have books to sell at my table!

Monday, April 22nd (6:30pm)

Cat Russell author talk with music by Ed Amann at the Barberton Public Library, 602 West Park Avenue, Barberton, Ohio 44203.

Saturday, April 27th (9am – 4:30pm)

Western Reserve Writers’ Conference Any writers in the area should definitely attend this free writing conference at Cuyahoga Library’s South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch. I will not be reading, but I will attend, and I’d love to see you there!

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Thank you for visiting, and I hope to see you in the coming weeks at one of these events!

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*The posted poem, “Patterns,” is new and does not appear in the book, although it is a sample of the type of poetry I write. The image is courtesy of BigFoto.com.

**I know, I know, I couldn’t resist. 🙂

***That’s 10% of in-person sales, buying directly from me. This offer does not extend to online purchases or directly from other bookstores, as I have no idea how to arrange that.

****I realize some of the listings are duplicates that appeared in my previous blogpost, but I thought it would be easier for people to follow all in one place. You can also check the Cleveland Poetics Calendar for current poetry events by clicking the link at the top of the page.

 

POEM: Why I Hate Christmas

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Why I Hate Christmas

 

I love brightly colored gifts

with shiny foil ribbons and stockings

filled with tiny plastic toys that make small children smile.

 

I support charity,

the clink of silver coins dropped into a collection can,

donating time to those less fortunate along with extra cans of food.

 

I adore singing songs

unheard in the shower or off-key

at 60 mph as my dashboard thrums to the beat.

 

I crave feasts of warm bread,

family favorites, and sweet steaming pudding

with chocolate skin you pierce with a fork to get at the good stuff.

 

I long for peace on Earth,

wish goodwill towards others;

hold the door open for strangers,

and try to understand my fellow man.

 

But I hate the idea that one time of year

is the right time, the best time, the required time

to do any or all these things.

 

I detest the pressure to sing happy holiday tunes

we’ve heard a thousand times before, loathe the open hand

at every store, the downward glance as you shift by

when you have no cash to give, detest the obligation

for feasts and gifts no matter how thin one’s wallet.

 

Forced gifts aren’t gifts.

A gift can only be given if it’s not required.

 

Give because you want to,

because giving is its own joy.

Sing because your heart is full or breaking.

Bake cookies because you crave sweetness,

because others hunger for kindness.

 

Don’t wait for a season,

make everyday the reason

to feel what you want,

be what you want,

do what you want

to make the world better–

 

or else

what’s the point?

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**I hope you enjoyed my mildly ranty Christmas poem. If you celebrate Christmas this year, I hope you have a lovely holiday!

 

POEM: Mindfulness

“Mindfulness”

the swish of my skirt’s soft fabric
against my ankles
black translucent cloth flowing behind
threads catch upon the rough concrete
as my uneven gait
from old worn sandals
clips and slides along the sidewalk

a cool breeze
softly strokes my hair
like a lover’s caress

my dark reflection
moves aside as the door swings slowly
open, then closes

Does that other me follow me inside with her dark gaze?

 

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Saturday, November 10th, the Massillon Library’s Local Author Fair will feature several Ohio authors between 11am and 2pm. I will be reading from my work about 11:30. Please stop by and find out about the writers in your community. I hope to see you there!

*image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.Net via Creative Commons License.

 

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.

 

 

POEM: Haiking Haikus

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Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum

“Haiking Haikus”

In the forest, the

illusion of loneliness

is overwhelming.

I lose the Spring in

my step somewhere along the

Emergent Tower.

Towering among

the forest canopy, its

wooden bones reach out.

White smoke rises from

above and beyond the tree-

tops: Nuclear steam.

The world sways beneath

my feet. I know it’s better

to bend than to break.

*image taken during the Haiku Hike on May 6th, 2018 at Holden Arboretum