Waxing Poetic

A Time for Everything

With Fall, comes the harvest—
an inspired ministry,
a reaping of souls.
The Lion will not rest till Winter.

With Winter, comes the wither
of the Rose of Sharon—
a crucifixion of the Lamb,
for the Lion and the Lamb are One.
Petals fall like sparrows;
the Shepherd is shorn,
and placed upon His head
a crown of thorns.

Then it is Spring—
a time for new life,
for resurrection—
a time for singing.
The sting of death
has been swallowed whole,
and put in its place,
an everlasting hope.

This Root of Jesse
springs up into the Branch of Righteousness and
into the Tree of Life.
This Vine, this Rose,
is known by many Names,
is sweet as yesterday’s tomorrows,
though He be a Man of Sorrows.

Then comes Summer—
the season of the Ascension—
the return of the King of Kings,
the Prince of Princes,
to His heavenly reign.

Hidden in the green

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #312, Theme: Dead

Because the Writer’s Digest Poem-a-Day challenge in April was so enjoyable, I decided to participate in the Wednesday Poetry Prompt challenges, as well, partly because I don’t always have an idea for a new blog post, and who doesn’t love poetry?  Besides, I gained roughly a third of my followers in that one month of April (and my blog has been evolving for a couple of years now).

About the prompt:  When I think of dead, I think of nouns that have expired, but I wanted to come up with something beyond the obvious.  Since I love talk radio, the term “dead air” came to mind.  This is sort of a futuristic poem with a commentary on how telecommunications has become so tightly woven into the fabric of society.

Dead Air

It was when the world went dark,
silent, but not still,
like the holding of a breath
during a home invasion,
seven something years ago,
that I was on my way to work,
listening to Dave talk about debt.

It was a day like any other,
but aren’t they always?
I listened to dead air
for thousands of seconds
before I turned it off,
so used to the voices was I–
the voices that made me feel
like I was a part of something more
than just my own life.
I was sharing in the joy of another young couple
paying off more debt than I could make in ten years.

It was August in Florida,
and when I got out of the car,
I felt like I was walking through a steam bath.
I used my cell phone to call my husband,
but there was no signal.
I picked up our landline,
but there was no dial tone.

I turned on the television.
Nothing.
I turned on my computer,
but again,
nothing.
No connection.
Communication was lost.

It was like “The Birds”,
this absence of technology–
like some kind of fog had flown over our town,
creating this quiet chaos.
Without constant communication,
it was like we were asleep,
like in “The Village of the Damned”.

The world as I knew it,
died that day,
but I wouldn’t know it for hours.
I suddenly felt very afraid,
for always before, anyone I loved
was just a phone call away.

When you came home,
you told me there would be no more
electronic communication for a long time,
if ever.
I thought of all my friends on Facebook–
some I couldn’t even remember where they lived,
and I felt they were lost to me forever.
It had been a long time since I’d ever really had to remember anything–
an address,
a phone number,
the meaning of a word.

The newspapers still managed to run,
but gone were the talking heads,
telling me how to think about what I heard.
I think I saw things as they really were for the first time.
Like the veil that we pass through when we’re born,
so that we forget from whence we came,
the veil of instant communication was parted that day,
and then disappeared like the mist.

Neighbors began to meet for coffee,
and there was a resurgence of books and poetry.
I saw teenagers playing outside,
and I rushed inside to grab my camera
to capture that perfect moment.
We began to relearn things we thought we had forgotten:
counting back change, cursive writing,
reaching out first in person without the screen-to-screen icebreaker.

The information superhighway was a pile of virtual rubble.
The news sites were replaced with newspapers,
the e-mail, with a handwritten letter,
for it seemed pointless to sit at a computer,
talking to no one.
I had to ask my husband where to put the addresses,
where to find the stamps.
I spent time looking across to the neighbor’s yard,
and saw children playing—
teenagers, no less.

Suddenly, the world which had seemed so small,
seemed so very large.
The other side of the world was like a dream
I could no longer imagine.
My children have never known a world like the one I had,
and I’m not sure they ever will.
Communication with a text,
a tweet,
is gone.

We speak now with our eyes,
our words,
our gestures;
not in memes,
or in 140 characters or less.
Characters.
It means what it used to mean.
I write a letter now,
the imprint of third-grade cursive
still engraved in my memory;
then I go to dust off the dictionary
to look up a word,
and I see not just the word I searched,
but the next word,
and the next,
until I have gone through all the C’s.

Somehow, a friend of mine found me,
and we managed to locate some of the rest.
Not all of us exchanged letters,
and even those that did began to feel so very far away.

The world I once knew is gone,
but this other world,
where the old has become new again,
is otherworldly.
I try to think when it was I stopped waiting,
hoping for the old way of life to return,
but I can’t remember;
I only know that it isn’t as bad as I would have thought,
for we humans are resilient.
We adjust,
we adapt,
we persevere.

Phoetry: Words and Pictures

My husband and I recently watched a movie called “Words and Pictures”, and it was mildly entertaining.  I am always interested in checking out a flick if one of the main characters is a writer, but you can’t beat “Misery”.  However, “W&P” was different.  The plot was about a male English teacher, and a female art teacher at a preppy high school, who start a war over words vs. pictures, which is more important?  Of course, there’s the whole “A picture is equal to 1000 words”, and an asinine love story (only thing I liked about it was that the woman was disabled and the man, though highly intelligent, was otherwise an average Joe).  It was one of those movies that focused more on creating quirky characters than characters you felt for, related to.  It was supposed to answer a question which no one asks because we all know the answer to it:  They are both equal, but different (like men and women).

I’ve just refreshed my Twitter account (according to most publishers, you need to have a strong online presence with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), and this movie (and this scholarship opp:  http://www.1800wheelchair.com/scholarship/) gave me an idea.  I would combine photography with brief poetry; while my photography is nothing to brag about, it gets the point across.  I do this because we are visual creatures and a phopoem (a poem on a photo) will catch a Twitterbug’s eye more than just a tweet.  I’ve already posted a few plain photos of poems (see:  https://twitter.com/SarahLeaSales), but this is my first “poetic thought” with a background.  I do believe it provides a nice contrast (I’ve always liked newsprint, etc., as a background).

Mightier than swords

Seven Ways I’ve Made Reading to My Baby Even More Fun for the Both of Us

I am not an early childhood education expert, but these are some things I’ve done:

  1. Whenever a word comes up like nose or foot, touch that part of your anatomy of hers.
  2. For shorter books, have a basket of objects close by that are mentioned in the book.  I do believe my daughter has associated the 2-D Minnie Mouse with the 3-D, as Minnie is one of her favorite toys and she gets excited whenever I break out, “5-Minute Minnie Tales”.
  3. If a word comes up that reminds you of a song, sing it.  Incorporating a song within a story breaks up the cadence of your voice and helps keep their attention.
  4. To keep it interesting for you, you can make up little stories about the pictures.  She will enjoy it, too.  You can be as serious or as silly as you like.  Pointing to certain animals and making animal noises is great fun.
  5. Use different accents.  For instance, I always take on an English accent whenever I read a nursery rhyme set there; whenever I sing, “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”, I do my best Irish brogue.  Also, when coming across words like fast or slow, I say the words in fast or slow motion, respectively.
  6. Use objects or hand gestures to help tell the story.  I’ve been teaching myself baby sign language and it really holds my daughter’s attention when I incorporate signs into a song.  I never realized how dexterous a hearing-impaired person has to be.
  7. Let her turn the page.  It’s okay to abbreviate, or improvise a story.  I’ve always been a creative person, but a new side of my creativity has been tapped while doing this activity with my daughter.  Encourage interaction, and take her hand to point to things, to help build those associations.

Reading...

Seven Reasons Why Brownies Beat Cake (and even Cookies)

  1. The frou-frou factor.  Give me a blondie brownie any day over a fancy schmancy slice of wedding cake.
  2. Frosting.  Brownies don’t need it.  I, for one, hate cake frosting.  The only exception is a very light smear of coconut pecan on German chocolate.  I never buy a cake from a grocery store, because I end up scraping all the icing off (which is more for décor anyway, and justification for charging an exorbitant amount).  Icing, almost always, overpowers the cake, and is almost always too sweet.  (Nuts also taste better in brownies than they do in cake.  They complement, rather than taste like someone’s baby teeth got baked into it.)
  3. Brownies are more satisfying.  They are denser (I never understood why someone would want to make “cakey” brownies).  One brownie=3 cupcakes (on a satisfaction level, according to Sarah’s Almanac).
  4. You can eat brownies with your fingers.  Cakes have to be in cupcake form to even accomplish this and then you’re stuck with the stupid wrapper.
  5. Brownies last longer (than cakes) and don’t tend to burn on the bottom (like cookies).  Cookies have a much smaller margin for error.
  6. You can cut away the edge of a brownie (unlike a cookie).  I get peevish looks when I’m checking out at Firehouse Subs, foraging for the sought-after center piece.
  7. Brownies are a simple melt-and-pour exercise.  Cookies take longer, because you have to scoop them out and sometimes even shape them.

~

Places that have the best brownies:  Firehouse Subs and Steak n’ Shake (just ask for the brownie by itself).  The brownies are pretty much the only thing Steak n’ Shake doesn’t mess up, and that’s because the brownies come in frozen and aren’t made there.

Cake’s sole redeeming value:  You can substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil called for in a cake mix.  I never could figure out why my boxed brownie mixes weren’t turning out until I realized brownies must have oil (however, you can substitute canola or vegetable with coconut oil; just be sure to melt it first).

10 Randomly Annoying Things: My Terribly, Horribly Hot, But Yet Not-So-Very Hot Day

So today was no red-letter day.  It was just a busy one, and whereas I used to go to six stores a day if I had to (and opt for going in rather than going through the drive through), three stores is just about my limit because dragging a stroller out of the trunk and then bending over and down to lift out a 27-lb. toddler gets tedious, not to mention not having A/C (in Florida in June, which may as well be August).  It’s not so bad if you’re on the Interstate with the windows rolled down, but at a red traffic light, you feel like you’re in a sauna.

After taking my husband to work (we share a car), I had to return an A/C vent thingy to Lowe’s (which was about three sizes too small–I really have no perception of size), then to the bank, to pay half the rent.  Because I hadn’t had breakfast, I got a coffee in the café at Target, where I got cash back, then two transactions in the regular line, to get more cash back, then to Walgreens, to return some Excederin (with a receipt) and an Axe scrubber (without a receipt).  The store was gutted, as it was going to be folding permanently, so they had nothing I needed (so I could get more cash back).  I still had to go to the grocery store, and so I grabbed some of my husband’s deodorant (which, oddly, makes me smell horrible), an exfoliating bath towel for me, a few Larabars for my daughter, and a Mylar Minnie Mouse balloon for her second birthday, which I will end up returning because I didn’t get it blown up, which equaled four transactions at the customer service counter, much to the associate’s chagrin.  Of course, after I overshared a bit, he was like, “No problem”.

Then I went regular shopping.  Hannah was getting antsy and so I got her a free cookie from the bakery from some surly associate, and then, at the end, we went to the deli to get some Boar’s Head, where the free sample always goes to Hannah.

So I check out fine on the first transaction, but the second, with just a Mexican Coca-Cola (no HFCS, real sugar), it says my card is not authorized, so apparently, I’ve exceeded my limit of cash backs/transactions on my card.  I didn’t need that Mexican Coke anyway, and because they’d already put it in my bag, I forgot and started to go off with it, and they have to stop me.  I thank them like an idiot, just ready to get out of there and go home.

However, Hannah is hungry, so I go through the Chick-Fil-A drive through, get her a nugget meal with fruit and a diet lemonade, and a board book instead of the regular toy.  (The board books are a lot smaller than I thought they would be, and it turns out to be one she already has.)

Then I go to the bank, just in time for the second time, and while I’m fumbling around for Hannah’s sippy cup (filled with iced lemonade) that she likes to toss just to watch it fall, the teller is trying to get me to set up an appointment to get an account with their bank.  I tell her I already have a bank account with the college, but that doesn’t deter her.  When I’m finally able to shake her off, I go home and collapse, and watch two episodes of “Medium” on Netflix while Hannah takes a nap, all the while I’m thinking I have laundry and dishes and cleaning to do.

I would simply write a check for rent, but I am very paranoid about bills being paid on time.  I don’t trust the post office with getting it there, and I once had a check written off my account that floated around for weeks until I cancelled my account, afraid it would be run through at an inopportune time.  Besides, as Dave Ramsey says, “Cash is king.”

As I prefaced this post by saying it was no red-letter day (I first heard that saying in “Meet Me in St. Louis”), I have a list of things that I just find annoying and I’m sure you do, too.

  1. The volume level showing up on the bottom of the TV screen rather than the top, where there are no subtitles (I like foreign films).  I wish the volume level would stay exactly the same whether dialogue or music is playing, because throughout the course of a movie, it’s up and down the entire time.  One of the reasons why I love foreign films?  I don’t have to hear every word they’re saying.
  2. When filling out an online form, the Federated States of Micronesia autopopulating rather than Florida.  I mean, really?  How many more people live in Florida than the FSofM?
  3. When I order a salad at a restaurant and it’s served in a tiny bowl, so you can’t evenly distribute the dressing.  Also, being served a salad with giant chunks of tomatoes (okay, one slice of tomato) or a cucumber, etc., instead of chopped up smaller pieces.
  4. When ice moves in your glass of iced tea, causing it to run down your chin and onto your shirt.  (On the flip side, when someone orders a beverage without ice, which causes it to slosh over the rim.)
  5. When people call and don’t let the phone ring more than three times.  Half the time, I’m hunting for the phone.  At least six rings, please.
  6. When creating a new password for an online account, and the site keeps telling you before you’re finished re-typing it, that the passwords don’t match.
  7. Voicemail.  I like one-click conveniences, not these endless usernames, passwords, pins, etc.  I would love to go back to answering machines, just one push of a button.
  8. People expecting to have access to you 24/7 because you have a cell phone.  Half the time I forget it.
  9. When people buy a vowel on “Wheel of Fortune”, wasting money, when they know what it is.  It’s maddening.
  10. Not being able to withdraw more than $400 out of your debit card a day.  I’m all about “It’s my money, and I need it now!”  Have to love J.C. Wentworth.

Submission for the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize

So I am working (feverishly–after all, isn’t “genius” 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration?) on finishing up a collection of “medical poetry” for the aforementioned contest (I found it through a scholarship website, but I don’t think you have to be a student; it’s not a lot of prize money, but the entry is free).  The submission had to fit a theme, and since I had the most poetry written about medical anomalies, I went with it.

I’ll admit, I’m not much of a “theme” person–I like to just “write whatever” (as evidenced in this blog), but this was a real challenge and I love challenges (writing ones, that is).

The collection must be at least 20 pages, so this, I believe, would cover it.

Complexities:
Poetry for a Better Understanding of Illnesses of the Mind and Body

Table of Contents

The Last Dance (Huntington’s disease)
Petals in the Wind (Capgras delusion)
The Moon is Blue (depression; lobotomies; electro-shock treatment)
Raining Bullets on the Fourth of July (PTSD)
Ace in the Hole (compulsive gambling)
Jeremy Johnson (autism)
The Memory Thief (Alzheimer’s)
The Hells of St. Mary (multiple personality disorder)
The Daily Mirror (body dysmorphia)
The Annexation of Angela (chimeras)
Her Fearless Symmetry (OCD)
The Color of Happy (synesthesia)
Seven Beautiful Days with Genevieve (bi-polar disorder; suicide)
Chasing Summer (seasonal affective disorder)
Waiting for Huntington (self-explanatory; I did a lot of research on this disease, and there was enough material for a book of poetry)