A Good Day to Work

It’s a good day to be working hard.
He rubs his hands on fabric.
Work pants, they call them.
He doesn’t have much use
for anything that doesn’t work.

His cigarette dangles at the corner
of his mouth. Like an old cowboy
on those black and white TV shows,
he likes keeping things simple.

The thump, thump, thump of a hammer
held in a hand that left behind a digit
in payment on a project paid for years ago
is all the music he needs to keep him company.

Stepping back to take a look at his work,
he notices the burn creeping over the brown
he has built up with this season’s work.
Nothing to get too concerned over,

then the neighbor-lady comes out
off to do an errand before the kids come home,
and he takes stock of his appearance
as he admires hers.

Still strong, with most of his hair,
still savvy, smarter than the young man he was.
Maybe his middle pulls on his shirt
a little more than last year.

In a voice more Romanoff than Roy Rogers
he says, “Good morning, miss. You are looking very well today.”
Doris Day’s voice answers with Rita Moreno’s smile.
“Why thank you. Though I'm more ma'am than miss.
Working on getting the house ready?”
“I’m always working,” he answers.  

Song Choice: Hard Hat and a Hammer by Alan Jackson

This poem was created for Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads Weekend Mini Challenge: Portraiture and is linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry 481.

One Seed, Ten Thousand Seeds: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 18

The shade of a blessed tree watches over the seedlings that came from one righteous act. One of six thousand good deeds seems so small against the six million lost in lightning and storms, in the showers that choked. But to see the seedlings growing strong and true to their roots, in this place where my grafted limbs have been trained to do justice to the sublime green—this sends a fresh seed into my heart for me to treasure when I am weary in the fight for the soil I’ve been planted in.

A modest hero
defined by quiet resolve
and strange defiance
inspires my jaded heart
to go and resist again.

Liner Notes for This Groove: I was so very honored to be part of a special friendship tea ritual Urasenke Philadelphia held in honor of the son of Chiune Sugihara (a Japanese diplomat who saved 6,000+ Jews during WWII) and the son of one of the people he saved, Rabbi Shimon Goldman. I’ve often had reason to agree with the quote “Where there is tea, there is hope” by Arthur Wing Pinero. But I felt especially hopeful serving tea that afternoon.

This was the set up we used for the ceremony. I know it isn't very visible but the script on the tea container translates to "One Seed, Ten Thousand Seeds." Tea tools are chosen very carefully to suit the occasion. I think that this was the perfect tea container for that day.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform.

How's your week been dear Groovers? Anything making you feel a little hopeful? Catch me up with your world in the comments section. And feel free to work in a link in your comments if you want to take the discussion onto your cyberhome.


We live in trying times.
Who cannot help but feel overwhelmed
by the vast array of wine options
we can pair with the intake of news?

Thank goodness for versatility.
We have eighteen noble grapes
disposable to work overtime
for eighteen million ignoble news items.

Pair a pale Pinot Noir
for stories of crime where the true villain is obvious
but the law doesn’t care.

Gewürztraminer’s ginger spice
is the right sort of exotic
to assimilate with stories of foreign pain.

The floral notes of a Viognier
covers up the stench of diseases
left untreated by destitute workers 
so that the shareholders can congratulate themselves.

Learn to love the ripe, chocolatey finish of a Malbec,
so well suited to ladies’ nights after work
to help them pretend its heart red hue
won’t be the only color they’re allowed to wear someday.

And don't forget a dry Chardonnay
for when the waters start rising
and kill off vast numbers of the population,
thus reducing the number of troubles we have to drink to.

Song Choice: Here Comes a Regular by The Replacements

Liners Notes For This Groove: This poem was created for the Weekend Mini Prompt: Oh, the (Poetic) Irony over at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads. It is also linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry 480. I tried to incorporate bits of all three comics provided, but the main inspiration came from this last one:
"Remember when we drank coffee with the paper?"

I actually am not much of a wine drinker at all (tea's my thing) but I picked up a thing or two from friends and relatives, and got a lot of help from this article about the eighteen noble grapes.

Ant Cthulu: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 17

I always joke about my black thumb, but I happen to have two orchids that I’ve kept alive and in relative good health for years. They’re actually not too bad to care for. Just let them soak in a sink full of water once a week for at least 10 minutes and make sure they get fed a little too. So when I left for my vacation I figured the orchids would be OK while I was gone.


So when I went to give the smaller of my two orchids its weekly soak, I was completely unprepared for a swarm of ants to emerge from the recesses of the potting mix and start going everywhere looking for drier ground.

Good thing for me, I don’t squick out over bugs easily. And it wasn’t like they could go anywhere, surrounded on all sides by water. Truth be told, I felt a little bad for the suckers. They had no idea they would face an apocalyptic deluge when they got up that morning. Victoria Schwab once wrote, “The bodies in my floor all trusted someone. Now I walk on them to tea.” I’m sorry they felt my samurai orchid was a safe place to camp. But they had to go.

Although I wasn’t scared of them, I also had no desire to have them immediately race up my hands and fingers when I picked up the pot. First I made sure the front door was open. Then I grabbed one of the husband’s t-shirts in water, dunked it in another sink until it was sopping wet, and used that to airlift the pot to the outside, while I shouted “Leeeeeroy Jenkins!

I don’t know if there was a smarter way to do it, but not too many ants were willing to make the crossing onto the wet t-shirt during the space of time it took me to get the pot out. Once I put it down on a grassy spot in my yard, the survivors streamed out the side. I gave them all night to clear off. In the morning I poured off all the water, carefully wiped the outer pot with vinegar, and moved it to a sunny spot near my computer so I could keep an eye on it. So far, so good. I hope they find a better home. But it better not be in my other orchid.

Ants keep to the dark
knowing that the large don’t care.
The small step lightly
to reach safety in the loam
where some control is achievable.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform.

Art work by Gina Morely, hostess of Daydream Believer
She created it as part of an on-line class she took (Beautiful Bugs) through Willowing Arts.

Patience's Price

I knew before I left
that I might not find you easily
in a kaleidoscope world

that only doles out little teases of you
refracted then spread out in the open…

the mischief in your eye,
the way your hair falls just so
waiting for my hand
to push a rebel strand back into place…

fragments of you everywhere
making me yearn all the harder
for the whole of you,

though I had resigned myself
to patience. I grit my teeth
enduring counterfeit shades
and the tedium in between false glimpses.

Those will never satisfy me
when I know the true taste of you
will be savored when the time is right.

Contact by MagicLoveCrow
See more of her enchanting art at her blog and her Etsy shop.

Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was created for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads' Weekend Mini-Challenge - Just One Word: Apart. I've also linked it to Poets United Poetry Pantry 479.

I Brought My Heart to San Francisco: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 16

Hello Groovers! This post is being birthed at 30,000 feet in the air, somewhere over South Dakota. My husband and I are just getting back from our vacation to San Francisco. This is the first time we’ve been on a plane without our kids since our honeymoon!

To say we’re a bit different from the twenty-somethings we were back then is an understatement. While the hubs is still very much a foodie, we’ve had to plan meals very carefully around his diabetes. And though my city-walking skills are still pretty strong (thanks to skills honed when I visit a certain Marine in her NYC home), those San Francisco hills are no joke. Also my right shoulder gets achy if I try carrying anything on it for too long.

This picture does not do the insane angle of this street justice, but you get the idea.

But one thing we still do pretty well is respect each other’s needs and compromise where we can. My husband’s shoulders were well equipped to carry some of the fun stuff we bought when my shoulder was screaming “Uncle!” His legs got tired more easily than mine, which meant we had to scrap some of our more ambitious walking trips this time around. But since our hotel was in the heart of Japantown, we made plenty of visits to the local shops (I got some nifty tea dogu).

The door to our room at Hotel Kabuki

He got to have what he called the best cup of coffee he’s had in his life at Café Trieste after we paid a visit to the famous City Lights bookstore (of course I got a book of poetry). Dodie Smith once wrote, “I shouldn't think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.” It wasn’t the poshest Saturday night ever, but it was a really pleasant one, topped off with good conversation with friends we met up with while there. With such lovely simple pleasures to enjoy, in such good company, what more could I ask for?

So how was your week dear Groovers? What’s exciting in your world? Talk to me a little bit about it in the comments section. And do drop in a link to your cyberhome if you’d like to elaborate upon it there.

In the meanwhile here’s a bit of San Fran inspired poetic thoughts I’ll be sharing at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads’ TuesdayPlatform.

I’ll bumble my way
buzzing over flowers
I’ve never seen before.

But those can wait for me
to stop and share nectar I've found
from my lips to yours.  

The stripes on my socks made me think of bumble bees.
Of course that could be the jet-lag talking. 
Thankfully I bought a lot of tea to help me through it.

The Cuteness of Corg (Resistance was Futile)

Figures, I thought, staring at the door. He’d use my love of anime to get me to face up to my worst fear. “Well, let’s get this over with,” I said.

Eric attempted to rope in his giddiness, but his glee came out in his voice. “I swear we’ll leave if you get too uncomfortable. It’s not like we’re getting a dog today. What’re the chances there’s a corgi here?” He held the door open for me to walk into the dog rescue center.

When we first started dating, I thought the differences in our religions would be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. Nope. Eric was a dog lover. A raised-one-from-a-pup, had-wholesome-adventures-together, hard-core, unabashed dog lover.

Me? Well, a neighbor dog jumped on me when I was 4. I knew now that the face licking meant he was happy to see me, not taking a taste test. But you couldn’t tell 4-year-old me that. Since then, I had a hard time not running in the other direction, screaming as if Cerberus himself were about to drag me into the netherworld, if I saw so much as a chihuahua.  

But Eric was persistent. I got to be comfortable with a dog walking on the same street as me. When I said the dog on the anime Cowboy Bebop looked cute, he claimed victory, researching that type of dog and extolling their virtues with all the zeal of an infomercial spokesman.

I walked through the doors, ready to bolt if it became too much. And there, in a cage right in front of me was a tiny corgi pup, shivering next to a St. Bernard. The attendant put her on my lap, we both looked at each other and stopped shaking.

“We are not leaving here without her,” I said.

“What are we naming her?” Eric grinned.

“Faye Valentine, like the anime.”

This was my Faye. We had twelve really great years together. 
Thanks for making a dog lover, sweet girl.

Liner Notes for this Groove: This non-fiction prose piece was created for Pantry of Prose over at Poets United.

Eye of the Tiger: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 15

That sound of howling you heard on Monday morning coming from Bucks County, PA was not the sound of White Walkers descending upon one of our scenic castles (seriously, we have a few of them). It was the noise I made when I realized how many things I had to do and how little time I had to do them. One of these things was exercise.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I am working hard at keeping up an exercise routine. Last week was a perfect storm of craziness with my birthday, my dad’s birthday, getting my son home from college, getting the house ready for Passover, putting the house back together after Passover, and NaPoWriMo. Also I have hit the Plateau of Nothingness as far as gains from exercise go. So did I blow off my routine?

Nope. I modified it, getting a little extra in on days I knew would be less intense, cutting myself a little slack on days where I felt more confused than Alice at the mad tea party. And I got my goal of 5 workouts a week in. If it’s important to me, I’m going to get it done. Writing works the same way. There were days in April it was tough to stick to even my modified NaPoWriMo schedule (yay, stomach flu). But the 15th blackout piece gone done and here’s the 15th expansion:

Carelessly sown seeds
need extra safeguards or else
death comes suddenly.
So I protect my passion.
I’ve seen weakness kill a dream

This blackout piece comes from the galley proof of my book,
If you've read the book, you might recognize this as Lynna's sea-glass pendant.
This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform.

And now I’ve finished up my writing goal! *happy dance* Wilkie Collins once wrote, “My hour for tea is half–past five, and my buttered toast waits for no one.” It is a little past when I normally work out, but I drop my goals for no one. Yeah, I think I can get a good half hour in.

So what’s new in your world Groovers? We can chat about exercise or just tell me how your week is going. Want to keep the conversation going on at your place? Make sure to drop the link to it somewhere in your comments.

Wearing Midnight: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 14

I cast-off clothing
made of other's expectations
once I learned
wearing midnight complimented wild illusion.

It is a malleable material
conforming to all the dimensions of me
that I wish to express.

"Wearing midnight complimented wild illusion."

Blackout madness continues. This page came out of "Kindred Steel", 
one of the short stories in my collection, 

 This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads' Tuesday Platform and Poets United's Poetry Pantry 478

Liner Notes for this Groove: I have a birthday coming up this weekend! In my travels on the internet, I've run into several articles with helpful (not) suggestions of what a mature woman my age should and should not be wearing.

To those articles, I respectfully blow a giant raspberry. 

Oh I understand that it's probably not a great idea to wear a bathing suit to a formal winter wedding, but just because I'm closer to the big 5-0 than 21, it doesn't mean I'm giving up my blue jeans and nerdy t-shirts.

Like with most things, I try to find a happy balance. Arnold Bennett once wrote, “The proper, wise balancing of one's whole life may depend upon the feasibility of a cup of tea at an unusual hour.” One must be as wise in selecting their outfit as they are in selecting the right tea for the right moment. There's a certain decorum that must be observed in the office for instance. But there's nothing to say that office-appropriate dress can't have little Captain America shields tucked away as part of the pattern, or a print inspired by the Rebel Alliance logo.

So Groovers, catch me up on what's going on with you. As always, if you'd like to continue the conversation in your cyber-residence, mention it in your comments below.

Song Choice: Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu

I Know Normal: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 13

Another blackout/ found poetry piece from the galley proof of my short story collection, 
To see the whole series, follow me on Instagram.

Normal is as sturdy as a paper doll
battered about in a summer rainstorm.
Sunlight shows its patched-up edges
and moonlight reveals it for what it is.

I know normal,
but it’s already scurrying away,
the way most lies do
when confronted by truth.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform.

Liner Notes for this Groove:  Dostoevsky once said, “I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” I feel that way not just about tea, but also about Philadelphia's yearly Sakura festival. Rain or shine, I'm there. The gray skies may have kept away anyone who was afraid of being rained on, but I positively enjoyed myself. The light winds kept a steady sprinkle of cherry blossoms going throughout the time I was there. And patches of fog made my mind turn to things like yokai creeping around Philly.

So dear Groovers, are there any fans of rainy or overcast days out there? Or are you a fan of something a little strange or unusual? Tell me all about it on the comments section, or feel free to catch me up on your week. The floor is yours. Also, if you want to continue the conversation in your cyberhome, be sure to include that with your comments.

A Gift of Moonlight

I drew my first breath
in the land where the wild things are.
Things are different on his side of reality.

He can exist only in a small wrinkle in time
of my life. I don’t want to think about
the one hundred years of solitude
that must follow once that wrinkle is ironed out.

But in this space, in this time
where we exist together
I want to do right by his heart,
as tender and fast burning as it is.

I can’t—won’t—change my nature.
There is too much moonlight in me.
But in the time we do have
my moonlight is his.

Song Choice: I'll Stand By You by The Pretenders

Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was created for the Weekend Mini-Challenge at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads: 1 Poem, 3 Titles. I used the titles Where the Wild Things Are, A Wrinkle in Time, and One Hundred Years of Solitude. This also is an expansion of a blackout/found poetry bit that I created using a page from my short story collection, The Trouble with Wanting and Other Not-Quite Faerie Tales. Since this piece comes from the story, "Make Mischief, Not War" I wrote it from the point of view of a character in the story, Cordelia, a relatively young fae girl who is bored by the idea of human wars, but is willing to go along if it means keeping her human friend, Gwydion, safe.

This page comes from the story "Make Mischief, Not War"
To see more blackout/ found poetry, pop over to my Instagram.

All Winter in a Day, Blogging Around with Rommy Week 12

The glitter-glass water fell last night
in a melodious hushing shush
I strained to hear over your snoring.

(please, wake up)

There’s a tingle in my snout
as I dream of little bursts of cold
melting all over my fur and tongue.

(Please. Wake up.)

I hear the barbaric chittering
of my foes, flaunting their villain’s tails
as they revel on top of your car and my tree.

(Please. Wake. Up.)

The slushy crisp crunch of feet
attached to giggles and mittened hands
ready to rub my belly
goes ambling along outside the door.


Liner Notes for this Groove: 

This poem was created for a prompt (created by me) as part of Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads NaPoWriMo extravangaza. I asked people to write about a situation that would scare something they were afraid of as a child. As a kid, I was terribly scared of dogs (alough I'm a certified dog-lover now). I couldn't help writing one of my dog's biggest fears - missing out on winter fun.

I know I've shared this image before, but sadly there is no snow today for Kit to claim.

So Groovers is there something that scared you as a kid that you grew to like later in life? Or how is NaPoWriMo going for those of you who are playing along? Tell me all about it in the comments section, or just talk to me about how your week is going. If you’d like to continue the conversation on your cyberhome, drop the link in with the rest of your comments. I’d love to visit.

Song Choice: FOMO by High Rule


“I’m tagging out,” Oliver said as soon as Isaac walked in.

“That good, huh?” Isaac put down his bag and went into the kitchen to give his exasperated husband a hug.

“I’ve never seen a kid work so hard to swallow their gift. I couldn’t wait until mine came. I ran around like a maniac shooting sparks for weeks.”

“That sure sounds like you. The maniac part I mean,” Isaac said, dodging the flicked towel that came at him a second later with a laugh. He was happy to see Oliver laughing too. “I’ll go talk to her.”

Isaac knocked on his daughter’s door. “Can I come in?”

At the sound of a muffled yes he walked in. He sat down next to the lump under the blankets.

“Sweetie, can you come out?”

Kira’s popped her head out. Isaac could see why Oliver was so worried. He could almost see completely through her.

“Will I disappear forever?” she asked.

“Not at all. This happens when people try to hold back their gift. Have you been feeling any of the signs?”

Kira cried, “What if it’s lamest gift ever and still have to grow up?” She buried her head against his side.

“Did you know I faded a little too when I started feeling my gift? I won’t lie. There’s a lot that scared me about growing up, but it’s worse keeping a part of yourself buried because you’re afraid.” Isaac breathed out a flower and gave it to Kira.  “Why don’t you try letting it out now? I’ll be right here.”

“Can Pops be here too?”

Oliver poked his head into the room. “I was hoping you’d ask.”

Kira took a deep breath and blew out a small golden orb that lit up the room.

“Light, like me,” Oliver said.

“Breath, like me,” Isaac said.

“But the glow is all mine,” Kira said.

Song Choice: Winter by Tori Amos

Liner notes for this Groove: Still going strong with the blackout project on my Instagram. This short fiction was based on a short poem I created from a page of my galley proof of my book, The Trouble with Wanting and Other Not Quite Faerie Tales. It's linked up with Poets United's Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero.

Glow. Hidden glamour is folly.

The page came from Kindred Steel,
my latest Yuuki story

If Poets Did Doodle

I enjoy twisting
feeling into dark whimsy,
sweets taste truer
balanced with the right savory.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform.

Liner Notes for this Groove:

I’ve fully participated in NaPoWriMo only twice. While challenges like that make me a better writer, April just tends to be a busy month for me. I was planning to sit out on this April’s madness too, but then I thought of something fun I haven’t tried yet – blackout poetry. But I’d been hesitant to try it out because a.) while I used to draw a lot when I was younger, I’m really rusty at it and b.) I wasn’t sure what to black out.

Then I noticed two galley proofs of my book laying around the house doing nothing but collecting dust. Heck yes I can work with those! I’m still pretty new at the black-out thing, so I’m giving myself a break and only doing them every other day. The end results will get posted on my Instagram account, though some will show up here too:

This one came from the introduction

OK, it’s too soon to say if that one will be a favorite. I’ll just have to make more to find out. If I’m happy at the end of this month’s experiment, I’ll probably do more of these. Emily Autumn once wrote “If leeches ate peaches instead of my blood, then I would be free to drink tea in the mud.” I’d like to feel free to mix visual art and poetry more, and stuffing a giant peach of practice down the leech of self-doubt’s throat during NaPoWriMo might help me out with that. 

So tell me dear Groovers, are any of you giving NaPoWriMo a whirl? Or have you ever jumped into any challenges (either online or in meatspace) as a fun way to improve a skill? Tell me all about it in the comments section, or just talk to me about how your week is going. If you’d like to continue the conversation on your cyberhome, drop the link in with the rest of your comments. I’d love to visit.

Caffeine is Caffeine is Caffeine: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 11

Small sprouts have a lot
to teach stiffened trees about
bending in the rain
and loving the way
water collects on new leaves
to refract the sunlight after a storm.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toad's Tuesday Platform and Poets United 445.

The Liner Notes for this Groove:

It all started with a burst of caffeine. I know I asked my mother-law-for decaf. She swears she got me decaf. But about 16 years ago I knew a few things after I finished that coffee. A.) That was probably not decaf and B.) the expected jitters from said cup of coffee felt a lot more intense around my abdominal region, so even though it was a couple of weeks early I was fairly sure labor had started.

By dawn the next morning I was looking at my new-born kiddo, Rose. I suppose given her entrance into this world it shouldn’t surprise me that she’s become something of a caffeine enthusiast. So is she a coffee drinker like her dad or a tea drinker like her mom? I think Rose would most likely relate to the quote by Abraham Lincoln, “If this is coffee, please bring me tea; but if this is tea please bring me some coffee.” She cheerfully partakes of either as the whim takes her (she had one of each on the last day of being fifteen) because she sees no reason to place limits on enjoying things that make her happy.

As she’s making the transition from kid to very interesting young lady, she is vocal about expressing who she is, from her vivid and unabashedly geek chic clothes to her retro taste in music (on vinyl, if you please). And her joy is infectious. I wish I had felt confident enough to release my inner geek to run free in a frenzy of pixie-stix fueled glory. But seeing her happily embracing her quirkiness is the next best thing. Being her mom has taught me a lot about the magic that can happen when you are fully and authentically yourself, both as a writer and as a person.

I got a small print of this painting, AmanitaTea
when I ordered a larger one from Art by Lady Viktoria, 
and something about it just struck me as so Rose-like, I had to use it here.

So dear Groovers, what’s your preferred method of caffeine delivery? Or do you want to talk about a time when being authentically yourself made things interesting? Make your thoughts known about these questions or just catch me up on your week in the comments section. As always, you can drop a link to your cyber home if you want to elaborate on any comments you’ve left here.

Song Choice: The theme song from one of our favorite shows to watch together, One Day at a Time

From the Other Side of Armageddon: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 10

I’m so accustomed
to keeping my sword sheathed,
that its sharpness unsettles
even me.

This poem is linked to the Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform and Poets United Poetry Pantry 444.

Liner Notes for this Groove:

It’s been a rough week, Groovers. To be perfectly honest, I’m still reeling a bit from fallout after a heated political conversation with someone who (not to put too fine a point on it) frankly should have known better.

I’m aware that a lot of my surface persona (both on-line and in the physical world) is bubbly, sometimes thoughtful, but not obsessed with appearing too serious. One of my college nicknames was “Lil’ Bouncy One”. But people who have known me for a long time are fairly aware I have a bit of a stereotypical temper. I’m not nice when finally angered. If you’re lucky, I’ll just wash my hands of you and never let the thought of your existence bother my calm again. If not, I’ll scorch and salt the earth behind me while toasting marshmallows over the wreckage.

This last time though, has me thinking of the TV trope Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. It’s not that I didn’t mean what I said; I meant every word. And the anger I’ve had over the topic of the discussion has been building for a while. It’s that in the past I prided myself on keeping cool at times like that. I wanted to be someone who builds bridges, not burns them. But (like most people in the US) I’m more than a little tired and angry that I have to keep explaining that people outside your group (however you define it) are still human too.

As I unpack the feelings from the fallout, I’m finding that it’s providing fertile ground for a bunch of poems for my upcoming poetry collection, as well as for my prose writing. I suppose that doesn’t make me much different from other poets or authors. A lot of us work out some of those complicated feelings through our words, right? But I’m not sure I’d do things, well as intensely, if I had to do it again. I may not have started it, but I escalated a verbal Armageddon when I could have chosen differently. Neil Gaiman once famously wrote, “Honestly, if you're given the choice between Armageddon or tea, you don't say 'what kind of tea?” It might have been better for both sides to have had the cuppa of their choice and thoughtfully engage afterwards.

So let’s talk Groovers. Have you ever had an instance when the words that came out of your mouth might've done hurtful things you didn't intend? Tell me about it in the comments or just talk to me about what’s new in your world. My cyber home is open for conversation. As always, if you’d like to continue the conversation in your own cyber home, bring that up in your comments and hit me with a link.

Pride, Procrastination, and Zombies: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 9

My fingers slow down
offering an alibi
to a fear-numbed mind,
until I feel the stories
between breaths freeing my hands.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform and Poets United's Poetry Pantry 443.

Liner Notes for This Groove: I’ve learned to expect its arrival. Sooner or later, no matter what project I might be working on, I get invaded by the Attack of the Creeping Doubts. No matter how often I think I bury them, they crawl out of their shallow graves and come in search of my brain. Not so much to eat it, but to nest in it, carve out a nice little space to live their putrid non-lives in.

I think I’ve made a tenuous peace with the fact they aren’t going lay permanently dormant. After 40 (closer to 50) years of this I know there’s a pattern to this that I can’t by-pass. All I can do is recognize the feelings when they come, stop denying they happen, then progress with whatever it is I’m working on.

When Sen Rikyu, the founder of the major tea schools of Japan was asked about the secret to making tea, this was his famous reply:

“Tea is not but this.
First you make the water boil,
Then infuse the tea.
Then you drink it properly.
That is all you need to know.”

The Zombies of Creeping Doubt are going to troop in and out of my life no matter what I do. But no matter where they are at the moment, I know what it means to be a writer. Pick up your implement of choice and start writing. That’s all there is to it.

by Magic Love Crow
Find more of her art on her blog and Etsy shop.

So dear Groovers, have you ever pushed forward with something when you were a little frightened? Tell me about it in the comments or just talk to me about what’s new in your world. My cyber home is open for conversation. As always, if you’d like to continue the conversation in your own cyber home, bring that up in your comments and hit me with a link.

The Quest for Gronk: Blogging Around with Rommy, week 8

Love’s work
sometimes requires adventures
you’d never dare take on your own.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform and Poets United's Poetry Pantry 442.

Liner Notes for this Groove:

For anyone new to this blog, I ought to point out that there is high geekery ahead. You have been warned.

My husband and I cemented our college relationship with activities like dressing up in medieval garb and playing Dungeons and Dragons together. He was among the first DMs I had (that’s Dungeon Master to you non-geeks. Also that title has nothing to do with any sort of shades of gray, so get your mind out of the gutters🤣). A DM’s job is to create an overarching story/plot that acts as a framework for players to interact with. Being a DM not only requires a lot of creativity (to set up the details of the adventures – what places might they visit, what is the main situation the players have to deal with, who will they interact with in that situation and what are their motivations, etc.) but it also requires patience. Because as meticulously as they might set up their world, there’s always one giant variable – the players.

So on one of our recent morning walks my husband told me about his latest gaming craziness. It seems one of the player characters made some exceptionally terrible decisions and ended up in a hell dimension. My husband expected the rest of his party (the other people playing that particular game) to heroically sally forth and rescue their poor friend. The party took a vote and decided on, “Nah, we have better things to do.”

As you might imagine, the player trapped in the hell dimension was miffed at the lack of concern. He went onto a gaming website, describing his plight and got several people saying the plot sounded interesting enough that they’d be willing to save him if they were playing the game. My husband, who really did feel bad for the player as it was one of his oldest friends, also commented and said he’d be willing to run a side adventure if people we serious about saving the guy.

He got 40 responses (DM’s usually run 3-5 people per game. 10 is a lot). The end up is my social media hating husband now is in a Facebook group trying to herd 40 people he’s never met before through a system that is random enough when only a tenth of that amount plays. Well, 40 plus his one goofball friend who should have not messed with mystical items that are known for randomly dealing out catastrophic problems.

What keeps me from laughing too hard at my poor beloved’s plight is that I’ve often bit off more than I can chew with some of my interests. For instance, when my writing partner and I were poking sharp sticks at my latest writing idea, she pointed out that I will need to do no small amount of research to get things right. “Not a problem,” I told her. I love reading up on new topics. Well, my “To Read for Research” list is beginning to resemble starter hoard for a young dragon.

I foresee several afternoons with my husband and I sitting side by side with our laptops, healthy snacks placed between us (we’re old, we can’t pound back chips and soda like college kids anymore), sharing some of the highlights of what we’re currently working on and griping about these damn characters who have minds of their own. Fortunately for both us, we are both fond enough of our interests that we can handle it when they take us on odd tangents. James Boswell once wrote, “I am so fond of tea that I could write a whole dissertation on its virtues.” If he can manage a dissertation, I can do some reading on high renaissance weaponry and do a deep dive into steampunk. We’ll see how the husband manages a 40 person rescue crew. 

So dear Groovers, has what seemed like a simple decision ever led you to bite off more than you could (or should) chew? Or are any of you table top gamers out there? Tell me about a time the game went in a completely crazy direction. Or just talk to me about what’s new in your world. The comments section is open for conversation. As always, if you have a cyber home you want to continue the conversation in, talk to me about it in the comments and hit me with a link.

Diva's Second Act

It took three days for Ai to realize she was a prisoner not a guest. She spent the first day on the shelf trying to shake off the despondency of leaving her friends behind in the attic. What she wouldn’t give to hear Yoshi-kun describe how he lit up a spring festival again. Even Matsu-san’s stuffy war stories would have been welcome, though they always happened during a storm. But what else could one expect from a general’s umbrella?

The second was spent trying to hear any traces of grace in the insensate notes played by children on other instruments. Even the accomplished geisha Hatsuko was a novice once, Ai told herself as she observed them from behind her glass case.

A month later, she could bear it no longer. No one noticed her. No one would ever play her again. Ai swooned. Her neck clicked against her cell.

“What’s this?” Mrs. Tanaka said turning towards the back wall of the music studio.

“Would you believe it?” Trina said. She motioned towards the old shamisen. “I found it with other junk in a client’s attic. They said I could keep it. I thought it looked pretty good there.”

“Hmm,” Mrs. Tanaka said, touching the case. “No bachi. Still lovely though. May I take her out?”

“Sure,” Trina replied. “Even if you break it, it didn’t cost me a dime.”

Mrs. Tanaka reached in. She heard the soft sigh with the first pluck of the string. “How much do you want for her?”

Trina regretted saying she got it for free. She probably could have asked for more. Still, it was money she didn’t have before. She laughed as they shook hands. “You know, sometimes I think this thing is a bit of a diva. It’s always falling over.”

 You don’t know the half of it, Mrs. Tanaka thought, cradling the shami-shōrō.

Ai smiled.

Shamichouro-Kotofurunushi-Biwabokuboku illustration by Matt Meyer
curator of one of the most informative and beautiful sites devoted to yokai lore, yokai.com 
as well as author of two amazing books, The Night Parade of  One Hundred Demons: a field guide to Japanese Yokai
and  The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits: an Encyclopedia of Mononoke and Magic.

Liner Notes for this Groove:

A shamisen is a traditional Japanese stringed instrument. A bachi is a flat, ice scraper shaped object used to play a shamisen. It's a little like a guitar pick in function. A shami-shōrō is a shamisen once owned by a virtuoso player that has attained sentience.

This short fiction was composed as a response for Magaly Guerrero’s prompt Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero:A Pantry of Prose over at Poets United. The poem it was based on was Lament of a Shami-Shoro.