Fare Thee Well: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 31

Photo by Anders Jildén on Unsplash


Wind scatters petals
sighing perfumed memories
as they fly away.
Still, I am grateful for spring
and the sight of the full bloom.

This poem is linked to the Tuesday Platform over at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads.



Liner Notes for this Groove: Someone who has been a dear friend to my husband and me since college is going to be moving away this week. Logically we know this is the best thing for him and his family. The cost of living will be much less, there are older relatives there who need care, and littles who will be adored by said relatives. But even though we live in a golden age of communication, we're still really going to miss the whole family.  

We got to spend some time with them before they headed out on Sunday. First we did Chinese buffet and as Ella Leya said in The Orphan Sky, “The conversation ran as fluidly as the tea out of the samovar’s crooked nose.” Then we hung out in our mutual friends' arcade and played like we were still all college kids (until the aforementioned little ones were ready to drop). It was one of the best ways to say goodbye that I could have imagined. 

Here's to Woody and his family...safe travels, best of luck. House Driks will miss you.

Song Choice: Saying Goodbye from Muppets Take Manhattan

Negative Feedback and the Nerd Girl


So if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably already know I’m kind of a nerd. Like many people who were overachievers in school I got used to the high of a sweet, sweet A+. Maybe a little too used to it. Those hits of external validation become life.

But external validation makes pretty poor armor against negative comments when they come. And they always come, no matter how many honor rolls you were on or AP classes you aced.

Lisa Simpson is not impressed with your negativity.

I’m not going to lie. It’s still not easy for me to handle external criticism, especially if it’s about something that brushes up against a core perception I have of myself. I don’t think I’m alone in that though. I’ve seen some pretty chill people lose it when a soft part of their underbelly gets prodded.

So what do I do when the inevitable negative criticism is lobbed my way? First, I take a deep breath. Then, I’ll call/ PM/ hang out with a member of my personal squad if one of them is available. I have a wonderful inner circle of friends who are kind about letting me vent, while not letting me get stuck in self-pity mode (and good about being caring but honest when I've missed the mark). I try to remind myself that part of being smart is being open to learning. Only an idiot thinks they have nothing more to learn. So what does this negative experience teach me? 

Eventually, I do get to a calm enough place to be objective about the event. And if it the criticism has a valid point, I try to honor that and change.

Of course, there are times I just laugh about it and practice my Spanish cussing with my friends too. Hey, I’m not perfect! ðŸ˜†


Song Choice: All Star by Smashmouth

This blog post was created for Poets United's Moonlight Musings: The Interactive Edition 1.

Bridge Out: Blogging Around with Rommy, Week 30

Photo by Giancarlo Revolledo on Unsplash


I can't build bridges
when people steal the supplies
and hit me with them.

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



Liner Notes for this Groove: One of the casualties of 2016 was my patience. Before then, I prided myself on being something of a bridge builder, of being open to hearing a wide range of views.  Like David Stuart Davies wrote in A Taste for Blood, "I'm anybody's for a cuppa and a biscuit.” Or at least, so I thought.

I still aspire to that some days. I want to engage in respectful discourse where the point isn’t to “win” a conversation, but to reach an understanding. If I have the emotional energy for it, I will. Because despite how angry I can get, I still think that it’s going to be well-nigh impossible for society as a whole to move forward if more of that doesn’t happen. *rubs her temples and reaches for ibuprofen when she thinks about all the times people were quick to mouth off instead of paid attention to the actual words exchanged* 

But my time is too precious to engage with the willfully ignorant, with those who can’t be bothered to fact check. I’m not going to go out of my way to keep people like that in my life or spend much time with them either. My mental health is also too precious for that. 


Halved


Grief ate half my heart.
Rage consumed half what was left.
What remains of me?

Song Choice: She Used to Be Mine from the play Waitress, performed by Sarah Bareillis 

Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash
This poem was created for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toad's prompt, Just One Word: Halved.

Exhausted: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 29


Don’t know if I can
shake off soul deep exhaustion,
when breathing feels brave.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toad’s Tuesday Platform.



Liner Notes for this Groove:

“I don't want tea, I want justice!” ― Ally Carter, Uncommon Criminals

To say I’m emotionally drained after this weekend is an understatement. I was already feeling a little less than my perky self when I got involved in a conversation that started when an extremely stupid clueless woman tried to appeal to my husband to agree with her that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not a racist. (It was, however, more than slightly glorious to watch her shock as my normally soft-spoken husband told her where she go with her nonsense.)

Then I heard about the shooting. And the reason why the shooter did it. There is something profoundly unsettling when you know that you are part of the group a gunman in a recent massacre was hoping to target.

There’s a lot I could blather on about. A bunch of small things I hoped would go my way just didn’t. I could say that’s what’s bothering me if people ask. I probably will use one of those as an excuse, depending on who's doing the asking. But it’d be a lie.

Can't lie to myself though. It's not terribly helpful in the long run. I can do neither more or less than let myself acknowledge what I'm feeling, and work through it as best I can.

Artwork by Cristal Gutiérrez.
See more of her gorgeous art on Instagram and her Etsy store.




Something True

Later she wondered how the needle came to her in the first place. Surely something that powerful would never have been tossed in the trash. Was it an accident? Still, she had never heard of any Legitimus wielding power like this. The theory that made her smile was that maybe it was a combination of the needle and some spark in her, something more powerful than even a Legitmus could wield.

She found it on a cold night, rummaging through the trash. Shouts of ‘Mendacium’ were accompanied by the usual hurled objects and she fled, taking what she salvaged, none of them big enough for a blanket. Then she saw the needle. A pull on a ragged edge got her the thread she needed to stitch the bits together. The resulting blanket was the warmest she’d ever felt.

Next she tried making it into a coat. It was more beautiful than the blanket. She wasn’t surprised when a Legitimus accosted her, demanding to know how trash like her had such a thing.

That’s when the true power revealed itself. A portion that was part of an animal pelt tingled. When she struck back it was with a lion’s paw, leaving a bloody claw mark on his chest. She didn’t remember too much afterwards, but when it was over she sewed in new bits of cloth and bone. Those made her stronger too.

After that, she started frequenting the fight arenas. There was no shortage of cloth and bone there. She wept over the discarded corpses, but took the choicest scraps—skulls, wings—even an ogre’s eye and a lion’s head to match that first piece.

She knew when Legitimus mothers whispered to their children about a monster they were talking about her. Good. She understood there had always been fear behind their contempt. But now here was something true for them to fear.

Emperor of the Dawn
Quincy Washington
Used with Permission



This flash fiction piece was created for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads' Art Flash 55 and Poets United's Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero

Excavated Magic: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 28

I could not begin
to feel my buried magic
until I saw it
as beautiful as a star,
at home in her precious dark.

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



Liner Notes for this Groove: When I was a kid, I didn’t see myself too often in art, and not at all in the fantastical imagery I loved so much. There’s a lot that’s wrong with this era we live in, no question. But some of the little joys are seeing a.) the rise of indie artists and b.) that more and more of them feature women of color.

This isn’t something I like discussing too much at all, but I will say that when I was young, I was often reminded features like mine were not the ideal. So when I see pretty art celebrating looks like mine, I kind of have to buy it. Part of me feels a little vain for indulging in it, but the part of me that’s still an awkward 9-year-old girl is over the moon. Natasha Porter once said, “If life is a cup of tea, gratitude is the honey that makes it sweet.” I’m very grateful for these bits of beauty in a world that really needs it.
Art work by Don Martin.
You can purchase more of his fantastical art in his Etsy and Red Bubble shop.
Follow him on Facebook or Instagram.


Song Choice: Soy Yo by Bomba Estéreo 

Waiting


The cicada calls crest and wash over me.
Their high summer drone is not loud enough
to compete with the din in my head.

They will be hushed soon
when the world holds its breath
between dark and light.

But the sun moves slowly
and the wind is too tired
to move the heavy air around me.

I am grateful for the heat at least
that will keep so many inside
while I keep my vigil.

I am waiting for the stars
hidden by daylight. Logic tells me
they have not disappeared.

I need to remember 
what it means to shine, 
even when clouds dim the light.

Artwork by Shelle Kennedy.
Find more of her art on her blog, her Etsy shop, and Instagram.


Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was created for the Weekend Mini Challenge at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads, Let Evening Come.




Matcha, Hot: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 27

“When the going gets tough, the tough go to tea.” 
― Js Devivre, The Tea Traveller's Constant Companion: Oregon



Art brewed in the blood
won't lose sharpness or flavor
at temperature's whim.



Liner Notes For this Groove: I take the majority of my tea lessons in one of the prettiest places I know, Shofuso (the Japanese house and gardens in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park). But this last weekend wasn't the best time to practice there. More than half of the USA was going through a scorcher of a heat wave. I wasn't sure if lessons were going to be cancelled outright, so I emailed my teachers to ask if the small utility room we sometimes used in the winter might be a better choice. They thought that was a good idea, so lessons were on.

Even with the venue change, I didn't expect too many people to make it. It was still a nasty day and the room's air conditioner could best be described as well-meaning. But it was a pretty full shed house, with a bunch of newer students (I was actually the most experienced one who showed). Even in a stuffy room, humid enough to make the tea clump and the tools stick to your hands a bit, we all enjoyed our lessons.

So dear Groovers, how was your weekend? Hopefully it was less melty than mine! Let's talk about it in the comments section. As always, feel free to drop a link to your cyber home if you'd like to continue the discussion there.

Song Choice: Just Can't Get Enough by Depeche Mode

Appetizer

Indigo sky witnesses

the scarlet gift
I bestowed upon your cheek.

It is only a trinket
expressing my pleasure in this dance.
My real tribute to your skill will come later.


Song Choice: Bailando by Enrique Iglesias ft. Sean Paul, Descemer Bueno, Gente De Zona


Photo from Pexels.com


Liner Notes for This Groove: This cherita was created for the Weekend Mini-Challenge at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads. Magaly asked us to go back and pick two prompts to combine into a short poetry bit (senryu, cherita, or elfchen). I chose Bits of Inspiration ~ You Write the Color and Just One Word: Trinket.

Reconnecting: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 26


I remember singing you
a mermaid’s melody,
not too far past a child myself.

Fourth of a set of seedlings,
bringing petals and rings
on an overcast day

where I was too busy smiling
and waltzing with my daydream
to care too much about a little rain.

I’m glad I stopped by
to see you at almost the same moment
where I was when I met you.

You’ve already started dancing
to your song. No rain will stop you
from being the queen in your story.



Liner Notes for this Groove: I am finally back home from Maine! The ride home was made easier thanks to a small side trip to visit a niece I hadn’t seen in years. We were much closer when she was little, but life and the busy nonsense that consumes so many of us kept throwing up roadblocks to staying in touch. I was so happy to get to know her (and her husband-to-be) again after such a long time apart.

When I realized that my teas were packed in such a way that it'd be difficult to get them out of the rooftop carrier without fully unloading, I asked her if she happened to have any tea at her place--and resigned myself to be content if she only had coffee. Instead she showed me to her well-stocked tea collection and we caught up over some lovely English Breakfast in the morning and Jackfruit Honey Black in the afternoon. Robert Godden once wrote, “At Christmas, tea is compulsory. Relatives are optional.” Hopefully she’ll make it to the next family Hanukah gathering and we’ll share another cup of tea then too.

The niece I visited (left) and another niece, her older sister (right) at my wedding.
I have seven biological nieces and three so-close-they-may-as-well-be-family nieces.


So have any of you ever had the opportunity to reconnect with a relative or old friend? Talk to me about it in the comments or just start up a chat on how you've been doing. If you want to take the conversation onto your page, don't forget to drop a link.


Rebel Ace: Blogging Around With Rommy Week 25


Play
time takes
so little effort.
Why not just enjoy
fun?

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



Liner Notes For this Groove: If, as Alice Walker said in The Color Purple, “Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors” then vacation to me is just a chance to get my nerd on. Don’t get me wrong. I love rambling on the rocky beaches, watching the ocean, and taking in the gorgeous scenery. But if the day is stormy, the mosquitoes are vicious, (or let’s be real, I just feel like it), I love indulging in some geeky games.

Last summer, one of my husband’s friends introduced us to the X-Wing Fighters minatures game, based on the Star Wars movies. I hadn’t had a chance to play since then, and there’s been a few upgrades to game play, allowing for an option to run it something like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. We get to be Rebel Alliance pilots and fly missions against the Empire.

I had a blast with this new version. My character (who I named Calamity, after Calamity Jane) took down five ships and easily scored the most points (a mighty 13). Jokes were made about the Imperial fleet running away when they saw the X-wing with the anime pin-up boys start flying through their sky.

There she is, mighty Red 27.

Of course I wanted to play again as soon as possible. The next game I wasn’t so lucky. We all rolled poorly, barely escaping the Imperial Forces, and I had to eject and leave my trusty X-wing behind (weeps). But I totally want to keep playing. Heck, I wonder why I don’t play more games like this at home. I know life can get pretty hectic and I need to work on self-care. But self-care doesn’t always mean taking a bubble bath. Sometimes it means taking a couple of hours, goofing around, and high-fiving the husband on that sweet, sweet shot I made on an Imperial Interceptor.

So do any of you Groovers like playing games to de-stress? Or have you done anything fun recently? Talk to me about it in the comments section and feel free to drop a link to your cyberhome if you want to continue the conversation there.


Song Choice: Many jokes were made about Calamity needing a theme song. While I had fun making up alternate lyrics to Bodak Yellow (I’m an ace, you a nerf-herding wimp. I make bloody moves), I think the first song I thought of was the best one, Shoot to Thrill by ACDC.


Starting Over


Emilio’s hair was thinner than Rina remembered, but he still had Papi’s smile.

“Will you be in town long, hermanita?” he asked as they stood outside the funeral home.

“Just until the burial. You know how it is owning a business. Thanks again for the loan.”

“Please, I’m happy to help family. You seem happier owning a coffee shop than you did in an office. And much happier single than married to that cheating sinverguenza.”

Rina smiled. “Thanks for having my back. That’s more than some people did.”

“Speaking of which…”

“No, don’t bring up Angi, Emilio. Mami’s death was hard on all of us with Papi being gone less than a year. Her trying to spin my marriage problems as trivial next to one mediocre college grade was bullshit.”

“That was a long time ago. She’s married with a child now. Look.” He took out his phone and showed her a picture of Angi’s family. “Anna should know her aunt.”

Rina saw the concern in his eyes. “Is everything OK with them, Emilio?”

“Angi and Fernando are fine. It’s just—Anna reminds me a little of you when you were young.”

Ah, the Gutierrez gift for understatement. Rina couldn’t resist pushing. “In what way?”

Emilio reddened. He darted a look back at the funeral home. “Magdalena Fuentes helped when you were having a hard time.”

“According to Angi she’s why I got ‘spooky’.”

“You were always spooky,” Emilio whispered. “But you’re family. Anna needs someone like you.  Please think about it.”

Rina sighed, but promised.


When Rina returned to her hotel room, Magdalena’s ghost was waiting for her. “You're far from home, Rina.”

“That’s the reoccurring theme of my life.”

“So is finding ways across improbable divides. Call your sister.”

“I miss you.”

“I miss you too, but Angi’s alive and I’m dead. Call.”

Rina picked up her phone and dialed.


Liner Notes for this Groove: This short story was created for Art Flash 55 over at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads.  The image of Life and Death in balance made me think of Rina, a character that appears in my short story collection, The Trouble with Wanting and Other Not Quite Faerie Tales. Rina has always had to live with an internal balance between the two. Sometimes that pushed her family away, and sometimes, like in this case, it helps her find her way home. More about her and her gift can be found in the the short story, "Her Homesick Spirit", in my collection. I am also linking it to Pantry of Prose, Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero at Poets United.  

Just the Basics: Blogging Around with Rommy, Week 24



My family is as drawn to the ink-blue bays of Maine as surely as the mosquitoes are drawn to drinking our blood. But any space not reserved for bug-spray is at a premium. We are four travelers with interests that accumulate stuff—stuff to entertain ourselves and stuff to share with the near-family that meets us there.

My husband’s hoard glitters with dice scattered over decks stacked with monsters and mountains, resting on a foundation of books that have helped him build adventures with stranger things. My son dithers in deciding which author will be his tour guide during the moments not filled by games and exploring the shore. My daughter is ever prepared for microdisasters. Her bags hold the bug spray and band aids. She is keeper of the snacks, plotter of bathroom breaks, and monarch of the mundane but easily forgotten things.

I of course have my realm of tea.  Noel Coward’s fearful question “Wouldn't it be dreadful to live in a country where they didn't have tea?” hovers over when I pack. It would be dreary to go two weeks without my favorites, and I cannot disappoint my near-niece and god-daughter and leave their preferred blends behind either. Fortunately for me, my words travel well, even to places with lackluster wi-fi. And that ink-blue bay works wonders for my inspiration.

Two weeks of life crammed
pell-mell onto a car roof.
I unpack it all,
brewing my words and good tea
steeped in the sight of the sea.

I always look forward to the view from the cabin every summer. Is there anything
you are looking forward to this summer dear Groovers? Let's talk in the comments. 



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

Saved By Found Words: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 23


This weekend I was lucky enough to attend a local Pride festival. It was a smallish one, but still very lively. Of course, even a small Pride Festival attracts a certain type of pest.

No, he’s not the pest. He’s awesome
You know the type. The knowledge that someone, somewhere is living a perfectly happy life (that has nothing to do with their lives) drives them insane. So they are compelled to grab a microphone and start babbling about Certain Doom. Somehow they always work in the word “love” but their idea of it sounds about as appealing as Goblin Tea.

“Goblin tea resembles a nice cup of Earl Grey in much the same way that a catfish resembles the common tabby. They share a name, but one is a nice thing to curl up with on a rainy afternoon, and the other is found in the muck at the bottom of polluted rivers and has bits of debris sticking to it.”
― T. Kingfisher

Seriously, their version of love seemed pretty toxic and emotionally abusive to me. It also sounded quite annoying as they were rather loud at times. The friendly Bee Guy had things well in hand, leading the crowd in cheers, keeping things light and funny, and occasionally doing a little preaching on his own about a far healthier sounding idea of love. However in the middle of the hullabaloo, one of the pests managed to press a tract into my hand. When I realized what it was, I was disgusted. Then I asked myself, what would the Bee Guy do? The result is my latest bit of found poetry.


Love who you are.
No ancient abomination
can obligate sin into hearts
rejoicing in identity.

Discern and learn…
ALL consensual love is allowed.

So they really did manage to save me…save me some trouble in finding words for this week’s poem and Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads' Tuesday Platform

Did you do anything fun last week Groovers? Talk to me about it in the comments. As always, if you want to continue the convo on your blog, drop your link in there too.

Song Choice: I wanted to pick a less well known LGBTQ+ anthem. Closer by Tegan and Sarah really captures the upbeat feel of the day, plus it’s a super cute video featuring all sorts of couples being adorable. Dare you not to dance.

Un-Remembering Banished


I know the angle of the roof
though it’s hidden by the blossoms.
I know the feel of the blossoms
though none have fallen on my sleeve yet.
I know the way the wood will creek under my feet
though I haven’t stepped inside yet.

It is curious
how  I’ve forgotten less than I thought,
even after trying to stop thinking
of a place that was no longer mine
to call home.

In some ways it hurts more
to see what isn’t mine to claim,
ready to welcome others who stop
to seek sanctuary under these trees
that are every inch as much as an expatriate as I am.

Is there space
under the weeping cherry blossom tree
where I can close my eyes
and find out if it smells like home too?


View of Shofuso by Matthew Meyer from his Views of Philadelphia Series
Matthew also runs Yokai.com, one of the best resources of Japanese mythological critter lore that exists out there.

Song Choice: Once Upon a December from Anastasia

This poem was created for Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' prompt, Kerry Says ~ Human-Landscape Interactions. It is also linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry 484.

Liner Notes for this Groove: I hope Kerry will be kind enough to forgive me, but I bent the rules a tiny bit. The voice in this poem does not belong to a human, it belongs to a yokai (a blanket term for mythological Japanese creatures that have a lot in common with the tricksie ways of old school Western faerie creatures). The yokai in question is Yuuki, a kitsune (Japanese fox spirit) who has several short stories starring him on this blog, and one in my collection, The Trouble with Wanting and Other Not-Quite Faerie Tales.

I've long been enchanted by Matthew Meyer's Ukiyo-e style Views of Philadelphia, and thought of them immediately when I read Kerry's challenge. Of course, the one of my beloved Shofuso (this is where I take most of my tea lessons) grabbed my eye. I know what I think of Shofuso, but I wanted to explore it from Yuuki's view in poetic form. I suspect I'll be tackling it in prose form too, and he will exchange words with a certain faerie who has been the guardian of this area since her cousin, the Faerie Queen of Philadelphia, granted it to her not too long after the American Revolution. But that summer solstice meeting will have to wait for another time.

Air and Fire's Girl: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 22

Air’s girl dances fast,
fire waltzing to a song
she knows in her heart.
Flame and wind will always be
hers, even when she stands still.


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



Liner Notes for this Groove: If I may be permitted to get a little woo…I am one of the airiest earth signs known to humankind. According to western astrology, although my sun was chilling in Taurus on my birthday, a butt load of my planets were hanging around in signs that are associated with the element of air (and I have a couple of things dancing around in fire too). Someone who is an expert on such matters told me that when they first met me, they thought I was a Gemini—until they heard me wax poetic over tea (then I outted myself with my Taurean tendencies).

Whether you place any stock in such matters or not, this much is clear—I have a tendency to want to do things fast. That’s not always such a terrible thing (I’m going to be delighted about that time I got the winning goal in sportsball forever), but in tea ceremony…yeah, it’s not really encouraged, no matter how well you know the moves.

I mean, you could. It just probably won't be right.

Funnily enough I found the answer back in air…in my breath that is. On my teacher’s suggestion I started pacing my movements to flow in synchrony with my breath, so each movement took on a rhythm that was fully mine. Not only that, it was a way for my personal style (LOL, my inner fire for my love of tea) to come through and be seen so much more clearly by guests.

In The Book of Tea Kakuzo Okakura wrote “Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence…It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” I am rather imperfect at being an earth sign, but in my practice of tea I can honor my inner air with my breath and my inner fire with my passion for the art form. My earthy self can take plenty of joy at eating the tea sweets, while my watery side delights in simply drinking the tea.

So dear Groovers, what to you is worth slowing down for? Or what's new with you this week? Let's talk about it, and as always, if you'd like to continue the conversation on your cyberhome, include the web address in the comments. 

A Witch Whispers to a Young Handmaid with a Tale


Dear Not-So-Little-Red, whose dreams are not quite dead (I know because you had enough curiosity to peek at a hawk-sent missive),

I went to bed to dream of better days than my own. I saw you instead, with my crone’s foresight, saw almost won battles still being fought, saw the men who felt entitled to squeeze hearts hard until they pumped in discordant measures, saw it all being done with the excuses that seem ancient even to my aged ears. “This is done in the name of goodness,” they shouted over the whimpers of the impious.

Dear Not-So-Little-Red, for a moment I despaired too. All my proud insurrections, what good were they? I freed my little Lucky from a father who was willing to sacrifice flesh on the altar of respectability. I kept a dozen others from a similar fate, grew them to be true and honor their strength. I knew I might not live to see an era where covetous old men no longer cowed the stupid to keep their power or collected on fear of words they used to condemn those who, like me, dare deviate from their rules. But I had hoped for better for my children.

Dear Not-So-Little-Red (I refuse to call you by a name impaled upon your orifices. I could search for your true name every month to infinity, but you must name yourself in the end. All I can do is remind you that you are more than an appetizer for wolves). I saw you freeze like a hare, when hailstorms of indignities pelted you. They claimed your birth as a less-favored gender was reason for you to bear anything they demanded.

Dear Not-So-Little-Red, believe this old woman, whose womb did not prevent her from becoming the mother she wanted to be—you have a weapon you can use. No, it will not be like what I would choose. We all must fight according to our nature, and you Dear Not-So-Little-Red have a far more tender heart than mine. The path of nightshade and toadstool is not for you.

But you do have the power to birth children that will thwart their plans. It’s in your voice, which you can choose to raise as you’d like. I’ll promise you what I promised the farmer. Your progeny, the tales you can tell, will grow hearty with your pain and anger, get stronger with each telling, until they can raze every building filled with presumptuous old men.

You are free now, Not-So-Little-Red. Do what you’d like. You can pretend you are as powerless as an ant. You can walk away. Or you can sow your words in all the fertile soil that will bear fruit past even the time I can dream of. Set them down so others will know. And even in that time, so far past yours and my own, even if they don’t remember you, they will have the luxury of debate in a world that has no conditions on what it means to be human.

The choice is yours.

All my love,
Rowena


*sigh* What she said.

Song Choice: Quiet by MILCK

Liner Notes for This Groove: I hadn’t planned on doing a post on Thursday, but Sherry’s prompt for the Toads, Being A Woman in Times Like These, proved too irresistible for words, especially when I stopped to consider how a character in my book, TheTrouble with Wanting and Other Not-Quite Faerie Tales (Rowena from What’s a Little Blood to a Mother’s Heart), might respond to the events in A Handmaid’s Tale. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t have definite opinions about that or the on-going battle to simply declare women as equal to men (yeah Rowena, I’m not thrilled that the ERA hasn’t passed yet either). I imagined this letter as something Rowena might send by magic via her favorite hawk to Offred during the interlude where Offred was freed by the Mayday resistance and before she recorded the tapes.

I have also linked this piece to Poets United's Poetry Pantry 483

Burst

Beautiful book, bursting that magnificent question!
Flabby groupings slinking muscular world
fit this life, undulating those plump words.

Girl Story by Sunshine Shelle



Song Choice: The Knowledge by Janet Jackson

Liner Notes for This Groove: Clearly my will-power was low again this week, because I couldn't resist Magaly's prompt at Imaginary Words with Real Toads: Exquisite Corpse Poetry. Working with random words was fun, but it was trickier than it looks!

Taming of the Food Satan: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 21


Bounty equals bane
when it weakens strong resolve.
Love adjusts its course.

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



Liner Notes For This Groove: While I can’t say I’m in bad physical shape, I’ve been trying hard to get better. I’m becoming a champ at sportsball (scored the winning goal last week). I’m also stronger enough in general that I noticed I’m a lot smoother getting up and down from full seiza position in a kimono. But as everyone knows, no health regimen is complete without taking food into consideration.

That’s where things get tricky. My dear, sweet, loving husband has a dark side. Our friends have given him a nickname to describe it—Food Satan. This man knows what tempts you. He can find a gourmet shop in the wilderness (no really, once on a vacation in Maine, in a cabin on an island where you can go days without seeing anyone who isn’t in the cabin with you, he found a store specializing in fancy food and brought a ton of it back with him). People like putting him in charge of bringing food because not only can he find the tastiest prepared treats, he’s also a pretty amazing cook.

My husband is also one of those people who shows love through food. And if you haven’t guessed by reading some of my poetry, we still really dig each other. So for much of my marriage I’ve been showered in impromptu treats of fancy chocolates, beautifully prepared steaks, assorted rich desserts, and matcha lattes. There have been times, when like Jane Austen I'd declare, “But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.” And he'd return with teaand a caramel-chocolate-nut-carbohydrate bomb that equals half the caloric requirement a woman my size needs for the day.
 
I know this was a goofy meme, but I'd seriously hang this up as a print in my house.

Changes needed to be made.

It is still a work in progress. I’ve had to remind him occasionally that while I love his thoughtfulness, maybe when it comes to food it’s best not to “surprise” me. But this last Sunday when he went out in search for a cup of coffee from one of his favorite shops he asked me if I wanted a latte first. I told him I had already planned to whip up a lower calorie, homemade version with one of my favorite teas as a treat. And all he brought home that day for me was a kiss.

But he the next day he came home with a ton of turkey bacon and lamb steaks. Yeah, baby steps…baby steps.


Muddy


I dream of getting good and muddy
sometimes. When I reach the end of a spreadsheet,
I wonder when was the last time
I let my bare toes squelch around in mud.

I know I did regularly
when I could use the excuse
of having young children, too squirmy
for any tidy activities. A little muddy
play always left them satisfied
and ready to nap afterwards.

I've gotten muddy with guests,
charmed by the sights of my county,
who wanted to feel that famous red clay for themselves.

I’m getting to that glorious age
where I don’t need to find excuses.
Peculiar old women don’t apologize
for a beloved clash of colors or
filling up all of the spaces they fancy.

There’s some fresh tomatoes in the house.
There’s good mozzarella in the fridge.
I have enough to make a sandwich
to take to the creek on my lunch break
so I can play a little in the mud.




Song Choice: Mud on the Tires by Brad Paisley

This poem was created for the prompt at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads: Just One Word - Muddy It's also linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry 482.

Izzy Lives! Blogging Around with Rommy Week 20

I dulled my true spark
until I found the right flames
to dance my truth in.




Liner Notes for this Groove:
I am finally back at home after visiting Ms. Wicked herself, Magaly Guerrero in NYC for a long weekend of general shenanigans, including a visit to BookCon.



There shall be cackling! And tostones! 


It is perhaps fitting that the author who pretty much lit the fuse to my life-long love of reading, Mr. C.S. Lewis, once said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” My love for tea is only exceeded by my lust for books. Magaly, her Piano man, and I roved through the con like pirates eager to drag home their weight in books and other assorted booty.

One of the best things about BookCon is bumping into kindred spirits.


No, not these guys, but I couldn't pass up this fun photo op at the Nos4a2 display.

It happened over by The Strand’s booth (the biggest book shop in NYC). I was running over to the pins to help Magaly in her quest for awesome shirt décor when I bumped into a young lady who had come to the con on her own. She was a huge Leigh Bardugo fan, and when she found out there would be copies of her newest book available here before it’d be available anywhere else, she knew she had to get to BookCon. She told Magaly and I about how she saved her money, pleaded with her mom not just to let her come, but to drop her off at Staten Island (which is still a fair distance away from the Javits Center), so she could make her way here to get her treasure.

This isn’t all that unusual for a lot of self-described geeks. (I drew on a pretty similar sentiment when I created the character of Izzy, the hard core book nerd from the short story “Just Perfect” in my collection, The Trouble with Wanting, and Other Not-Quite Faerie Tales). We get pumped when we can talk about our favorite fandoms and authors who we follow the way other people follow rock-stars. At a con, you are literally surrounded with a small mob of like-minded folk, all giddy at the chance to be as nerdy as they want to be.

The geekiness is strong in this one.

So talk to me Groovers—did you get a chance to indulge in something that delights your spirit recently? Was it something mainstream or a little off the beaten track? Tell me about it in the comments and if you have a cyberspace you call home, pop it into your comments so we can talk a little there too.

Song Choice: I’m the One That’s Cool – The Guild

So Sweet, I Could Choke


It started with a scent. I was waking up from winter and had barely begun to bud, so I could only speak in creaks as the wind flowed around my branches. The smell was so heady, it threatened to put me back to sleep. But the buzzing of insects helped pull me from my torpor.

“Bees?” I croaked. “Am I late?” My buds tasted the cool air—no, this was the right time for bees though they never were this attentive so soon after the winter.

“Hush,” whispered a voice already flush with flowers and green. “No, you’re just fine. You can even sleep a little more. I’ll keep you warm.”

The wind blew again, but I was too tired to answer. My branches stirred slightly, and I could feel the weight of growth not my own. The scent flowed around me again, and I slept.


When I fully awoke, I ached to my sap. My promising buds had grown into spotted leaves, but they were strong enough to speak to a thriving patch of green on my biggest branch when the wind blew.

“What are you?”

“I’m part of you.”

“No, you aren’t.”

“Of course I am. Can’t you feel it?” The branch tingled with the flow of energy through filaments binding the new green fast to me.

“You were only a bit of fluff, blown onto my branches last year.”

“And you were once an acorn. Things change.”


Autumn came. I held on to my leaves for as long as I could. I heard the creaky sigh from the new green as the last one fell. It had spread to all my branches by then.

“You are part of me,” it said before we both slept.


And in the spring when the wind moved through the leaves again, I spoke with a voice that was no longer my own.

Song Choice: Circles by Kira

Liner Notes for this Groove: I'm in NYC for a long weekend visiting a dear friend (and for BookCon!). I couldn't help but notice a hauntingly beautiful scent on the wind near one of the city's large parks. When I commented on how lovely it was, one of the NYC citizens informed that it came from a pretty parasite that's been taking over a lot of the local trees slowly, but steadily. They bloom early to get the lion's share of the bees' and other pollinators' attention and spread a lot like dandelion fluff. I was told that the parasite even changed the shape of the leaves of the host tree eventually. When I finish up with BookCon, I want to find out more about this smothering beauty, including its name. But I find an extra level of creepiness in not knowing.

This short fiction piece is linked to Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads Art Flash and Poets United's Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero
Beauty Forgotten in Survival's Eyes by Eli Edward Evangelidis