sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Posts tagged ‘Michele’

What I’m Grateful For

Early November through December is the time of year I used to spent locked in my own padded cell of emotionsMichele1-1
. Soured holiday cheer, reminder of what wasn’t right in my life and the world.

. . . Survivor guilt at not dying when I was twenty; if I had, my father would have been sent home from Viet Nam early. A month in the hospital saved me and destroyed the family, when he died under strange circumstances three days before he was to return home. . . . Less than a year later, more guilt at finding the love of my life, my exact opposite, who’s lived with me and my insecurities for more than 45 years. . . .

Steve Jobs noted our inability to connect dots of experience prospectively. We cannot determine until well after events how they link, what their impact is, and how profoundly our lives change as a result.

“But for . . . ” my illness, and my father’s death, I never would have met my husband.

“But for . . . ” NOT getting a job I wanted, I was able to retire much earlier than would have happened if I’d been selected.

“But for . . .” putting myself in the right place at the right time, I’d never have met Carolyn Howard Johnson, which began my poetry-writing in earnest, and the discovery of the Muse OnLine Writers Conference in 2006.

“But for . . . ” that conference, I would not be writing this post today.

I sit here today, grateful for the people in my life, my personal safety and security, my needs met. As much as I complain  about — and fear — the growing list of health issues I’m battling, I’m grateful to live in a time that provides me with care unheard of even a dozen years ago.

I’m grateful for my confidence that ebbs and flows, how I am learning incrementally to trust myself, test myself. I’m grateful for the clutter that drives me nuts at times — what I can share, what it teaches me.

I’m grateful to live here, in this country, despite all our problems and issues. I feel truly blessed to be able to write what I choose, vote as I choose, and speak — or remain silent if that is my choice.

I live the American Dream:

~daughter of a first-generation girl-child born here of stetl dwellers who left the “Old Country” with nothing, before WWI;

~ able to trace my father’s family’s journey on the Trail of Tears in 1839.

~”But for . . .” the holocaust and horror of WWII, these two souls would never have met at a USO dance in Chicago in 1943. Lost and found each other again. Lost each other for good 25 years later, in the next ripping war in 1968.

~ First of my family to attend college, and later graduate.

~ Connected in recent years to extended family I never really knew earlier.

My first post on our Poetic Muselings blog was just over three years ago. It was my introduction to you, our readers and friends. I’m reissuing it here, today, because it struck me as true, still, and what I’m trying to share.

We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. May you find that spark, that “something” to give you peace of mind, courage when you need it, and lots of joy.

Michele

Turning Over Rocks

“Why be difficult
when you can always
be impossible?”

My family’s motto,
when I was growing up.

We lived in clouds,
ephemeral universe,
all or nothing mind-set
badgered us into paralyzing inaction,
circular conundrums,
promises meant to stop questions,
not solve problem

“Don’t answer the phone!” admonitions
when I was home alone, sick,
escaping whatever had me
in its grip that day or week

Blame and shame
games and names
hiding in books read
by shadowed night-light
to tame the monsters
lurking under my bed,
in the closet,
beyond the toys
strewn across the floor
beyond the closed door
to my personal space and mind

Child of parents
whose fractured worlds
never resolved enough to give them
strength to shelter their offspring
the way this one needed

But I was loved
and encouraged to dream big,
reach beyond what was,
by my father
live his words
not the life we had

I gained my own,
tiny shard by shard
years later, loved,
protected, cherished,
with someone who believes in me,
loves me
without needing to understand
more than he does

learn to trust,
push past fears, worries
I’ll never be enough, do enough,
justify my own existence

Learn I have to prove
nothing to the world.
I have the right just to be,
eclectic, whimsical,
inconsistent entity
in love
with my life
as I inch
toward myself

Ⓒ Michele M. Graf
11-7-11

 

 

EAR-WORMS! Lyrically going mad . . .

November is Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day Challenge Month, among other intense writing options. Mary, Anne, Margaret, and I are diligently writing to the prompts, with a goal of something wonderful to publish at the end.

One of my favorite aspects is to see how differently we grab the prompts — or how they grab us. The poem below was written as a “together again poem”.

This post is adapted from one I recently published on my blog,  ship-of-dreams-artimals

RoadWriter: 
Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges . . .
A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

 

When I first heard of “ear-worms”, I felt vindicated. Others heard them, too — I wasn’t alone. Or nuts.

Never heard of ear-worms? I bet you have heard ear-worms many times in your life. Snatches of song lyrics (especially), bits of melody, or conversations playing out over and over and over in your head. They worm their way into your ear and then your brain.

No way to make them disappear. The harder you try, the louder — and more insistent — they get. You cannot win the fight against an ear-worm. You can only distract and/or overcome it by replacing it with something else.

Then, of course, THAT ONE becomes the ear-worm. And so it goes . . .

PAD 2 – 11/2/14 Ear-Worm Imbroglio (a together again poem)

What gibberish pokes
through mind brambles

  • Oh, Sinner Man —
    where you gonna run to?

My personal ear-worms
over and over

  • Snowflakes on roses…
    Whiskers on kittens… 

over and over
over and over

  • I think we’re alone now…
    Beating of our hearts is the only sound…

Until BANG!
Too bad it didn’t work

  • I am the walrus…
    Do do do do, dodo dodo do do do do …

We’re together again
All at once

  • New York hipster,
    Cardiac hero of 2000 years …

Cacophony imbroglio
Madness defined

  • Where were you
    When the world stopped turning…?

 

Michele M. Graf
11-2-14

 

 

 

NaNoWeCanDoMo!

thumb_IMG_0308 - Version 2_1024National 
Novel (Writing)
     (and other things)
We
Can
Do
Month!                             

As Mary explained in her post on November 3, we are engaged in marvelously rebellious behavior, and writing, writing, writing. My Inner Rebel is counting  words in projects 1, 2, and 3 (below), to reach my 50,000 for the month, if needed for number 4.

We’ve each set goals for ourselves. Mine:

1.  PAD Challenge

Robert Brewers’ Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day  (PAD) Challenge, a new poem written each day, from the prompts provided. I posted one already on #2, below, and will share some during November, here.

2.  100 Word Posts

RoadWriter.net, my first site, has been neglected too long. I decided to revive it with a series of short posts, leading, I hope to completing Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges, my years-in-progress book about our decade on the road. Poems, pictures, prose, and lots of memories.

So far, I’ve gone over the minimum on each Post, and am letting the subject matter free-flow. More about this later in the month.

3.  Haiku . . .

Last month, I co-taught a Poetry Workshop at the Eugene Public Library; this was our third year, and a highlight for me. I put together a new unit I called “Haiku Heresy” about variations on the genre — from micro-poetry (Tweetku – yes, haiku via Twitter) through 100+ verses written and shared in real-time. (No, we didn’t actually create these in class, but several University students immediately did their own Tweetku.)

However, I can’t get haiku off my brain, so I went back through my bookmarks on line and dug up Forward Motion’s April Haiku Challenge, and have started adding haiku to my daily exercises. You may need to sign up and log in to reach this, but it’ll be worth it! http://www.fmwriters.com/zoomfm/index.php/forum/focus-april-2014/2888-april-haiku-challenge

4.  NaNoWriMo

The least rebellious action is a new novel,  Resorting to Dreams, officially begun Nov. 1.  Should be fun, since hubby is deeply involved in developing the storyline . . .

I may play with other in-process works if this one gets crazy. Lots of ways to be rebellious on this.

5.  Dream Catchers

In odd moments, finding poems scattered around my office — in poetry journals, Morning Pages notes, backs of envelopes, tiny notebooks carried around over the years, hidden in the deep recesses of my computers, etc. Plus those my Sister Poetic Muselings (like Peggy) have found in our other shared spaces over the years.

Using Scrivener, I want to simply get a copy of each into the program so I can actually account for at least part of my creative crunches.

6.  Stitching my Soul Together

In July, I took an advanced pattern design sewing course, with little advanced skills going in to it. Hardly any, actually. I connected with a wonderful lady to help me prepare for the class, and have worked with her several times a month since then. We’ve  altered a lot of my clothes so the waistbands fit, sleeves don’t hang over my knuckles, hems are where they belong. We have more to do, working together.

I say I’m like the prep chef, washing and peeling potatoes so the Head Chef can create masterpieces. I’m getting very good at potatoes! Much more confident, taking baby steps with the serger and overlock machines; measuring; cutting; pinning. Learning, learning, learning.

We have at least two sessions planned this month. I look forward to that part of my creativity, and know it’s helped wake up my writing.

7.  Big Scary Thing*

Even more rebellious will be to do a weekly Big Scary Thing* — take care of dangling “stuff” that’s held huge portions of my brain, mind, and creativity hostage, while tying up my energy in NOT doing.

Some of these may take up to three or four hours at most to complete, but have been squatting in, and squandering, my life for several years. If I get all four done — one per week — I’ll be soooooooooo relieved.

*idea taken from NaNoWriMo site several years ago, about what we planned to do after NaNo . . . I think they’ve still got a forum for this.

What are your dreams, crazy notions, ready-to-fly hopes for November and the rest of 2014?  Share, please!

Oh, and wish me luck!

Michele

Boldly Going Where I’ve Never . . .

Boldly Going Where I’ve Never . . .

For the first time in my life,
I’m in control of colors that surround me.
Always the good girl in the past,
I chose what seemed right
rather than what made me smile.

For the first time in my life,
I’m responsible — me, responsible —
if it works, is dreadful,
or simply tolerable . . .
such a heavy weight to bear.

For the first time in my life,
I’m listening to that passionate
inner me, the one who wants
brilliance shining, nudging
me to try more scary things.

rose-parade1

For the first time in my life,
my office will have a Rose Parade
red wall, cheered on by dove gray.
I’ll make my own bulletin board as
a canvas to hold treasures.

teal-magenta-gray1

For the first time in my life,
the loft next to my office
will share the dove gray
with Albuquerque Teal
to remind me of joy.

 

For the first time in my life,
Victorian shades of magenta, tinged
with orchid, will define my bedroom.
Rich, sensuous, ripe, emotional,
dramatic dancing colors.

bedroom1

For the first time in my life,
the rest of my house
will pull in some glorious greens —
true connection to the beautiful
backdrop we see from all sides.

For the first time in my life,
I am boldly going where I’ve never
gone before. Courageous,
steadfast, scared of my swatches,
I’m a fledgling on a colorful limb.

 

 

 

Lifelines and Apollo’s Lyre nominated for P&E Awards

(Updated with corrected links)

Critters / Critique.org  hosts the annual Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll which honors print & electronic publications published during 2011. (Click here for the official rules.)

DEADLINE FOR VOTING IS JAN. 10, 2012.

Lifelines, our Poetic Muselings anthology, is nominated in several categories. Also, Apollo’s Lyre is nominated in three categories, including Best Poetry ezine — as editor of the poetry column, I’m especially excited. Links and details are below.

To vote in this poll, you must fill in your name and email and the scrambled letters in a “captcha” box — this way they can decide that a real person is voting. You will receive an email with a confirming link to follow, which validates your vote.

Nominees are listed alphabetically in each category, so you can find your favorites that way. We would appreciate your support and your vote for us in the following categories:

Anthology — (Lifelines)
http://critters.org/predpoll/antho.shtml

Book cover, Lifelines, Lin Neiswender
http://www.critters.org/predpoll/bookart.shtml

Poets, Poetic Muselings
http://critters.org/predpoll/poet.shtml

Poetry ezine — Apollo’s Lyre
http://critters.org/predpoll/poetryzine.shtml

There are many other categories being honored. Please check them out including:

Other Apollo’s Lyre nominations are Fiction ezine and ezine editor Jim Harrington   http://critters.org/predpoll/fictionzine.shtml,  http://critters.org/predpoll/zineeditor.shtml

ThePoetic Muselings grew out of the Muse Online Writers Conference, which is nominated under best writers workshops. Learn more about this outstanding conference by following the link with the poll:
http://critters.org/predpoll/writerws.shtml

And we have publishers to vote for, too. InkSpotter, our publisher, is on the list, as is MuseItUp, connected to the Muse Conference:
http://critters.org/predpoll/ebookpublisher.shtml

We thank you for your consideration of us on this poll, and would be happy to hear your comments.

Coming on Friday — the long-awaited results of our contest. Very difficult challenge, but we are ready to post it. Again, our deepest thanks to all of out participants.

What DO YOU think?

Christmas, Hanukkah, or other holiday memories — sights, sounds, smells,  textures, stories you remember  (or have heard so often that you think they might be your own ) — share them in snatches of verse.

We’ve given you ideas in the past few posts and would love more of what makes up your world at this time of year. It’s also time to think about your New Year’s Writing Resolutions. Ready to share them, too?

We’ll announce the winner of our “Favorite poet / favorite poem” contest very soon. We must say, it’ s not been an easy decision. Our deepest thanks go to the brave souls who shared their thoughts.

 

Our Virtual Global Village and Lifeline

It takes a virtual global village for words to become a worthy poem. Ours extended from Australia, Nova Scotia and Montreal, Canada, to Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area — our mentors and Publisher — besides our scattered band of poets.

We must also mention the broader world’s contribution: almost all of our poems started from on-line writing prompts — especially Poetic Asides PAD Challenges (Poem A Day) in April and November 2009, and the April Haiku Challenges at Forward Motion. How they ended up were very different, but that spark and the need to write daily (or as close as we could come to it), shoved our inner critics away and we wrote.

Each of us also worked with local critique groups, who helped hone our words, thoughts, and shared their reactions. Each poem is stronger for that lifeline. One of mine in particular, written when my brother was dying, led to an hour-long discussion with my local group, and several rewrites on my part. So, thank you “P-42” for being there for me, and Scott at Tsunami Bookstore, for hosting not only this poetry group, but all the other community events to support local artists, writers, and musicians. I did my first Open Mic at Tsunami, with an encouraging crowd.

We all applied these insights as we worked with each other. One of the best things a colleague said about one of my poems was that part of it didn’t make sense. After I got over the initial shock, I realized I was too close to it to see what was wrong. That one is not only stronger for the criticism, but is much closer to what I intended to write.

Over the next few months, we will share what we’ve learned about critique groups (on-line and in-person), tips for setting schedules, levels of review, how to ask for what you want in a review, how to give and receive feedback, how we’ve provided each other with encouragement and strategic kicks when needed, and how to work towards goals.

We have many other topics planned, since we come from such diverse backgrounds and interests. We hope you enjoy meeting us, will join in the discussion as we all grow, and encourage you to find your voice and courage to try, just as we did, and are still doing.

We’re very excited that our collaboration has led to this beautiful book, Lifelines, which is now available at Amazon.com (see sidebar). We’re working on ideas to include our local bookstores, too.

If you read our book, we’d love to have you post a review on Amazon.com, and to send us a copy for our blog.  Thank you!

 

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