With Apologies to Poets Great – A Poem

A while ago I created prompts for my writing group using lines from famous poems. Just a line here or there to just get you going. Well, this last Saturday, feeling uninspired, I pulled out almost all of those prompts and came up with this little number of a poem that, well, I give apologies to the greats. I took your words and mashed them up into a, well, mashup. It was fun, it got a laugh and it flowed, surprisingly enough. All without adding in much more than just a few little articles and where’s and when’s and I’s. Enjoy.


It happened on a whim of an Autumn evening and in the morn,
when shadows, and the sun falls in little sprays to be picked by anyone
when the golden mists are born
that I traveled to Ithaca last night
and I will be in Syracuse at noon;
But it was in Cedar Rapids tonight that
I found myself, walking in Dragon street one
fine August night, and I just happened to meet
a man whose eyes where midnight shames the sun
Hair of night and sunshine spun
And he had a mermaid on his arm
an anchor on his breast
He had the looks of a man that books take ages to tell
And he told me how he fell far through
that pit abysmal, a nameless one
Indolently dreaming, puzzling till there
came a great voice to the sound of thunder
like the ancient gods
“O Lord he will hang upon him like a disease
as she doth teach the torches to burn bright
Let there be wings and yellow dust and the
drone of dreams and honey…”
And when he woke, the stars were the only
ships of pleasure at night when reddest flowers
are black, a slash of blue, a sweep of gray
Some scarlet patches on the way
And he asked me if when I go up through
the mowing field, smooth land like thatch
with heavy dew, if there is a garden,
grey with mists of autumntide where
ornamental clouds compose an evening song
And I said here lies a poet who would not write
To which he asked,’Have you forgotten
how one Summer night we wandered
forth together with the moon to
a land where the morning mist is curled
and I pondered on the complacencies of
you in your peignoir, and late coffee and
oranges in a sunny chair
And you told me the Frogs got home last week
As we sipped and ate toast and marmalade
for tea contemplating ships upon the sea…

My apologies to the poets and songs in order within the poem: P.B. Shelley, M Strobel, Philip Booth, e.e. cummings, A.C. Swinburne, Langston Hughes,  Mika, e.e. cummings, J.C. Mangan, C. Reznikoff, Shakespeare, Carl Sandburg, Elizabeth Bishop, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Walter de la Mare, Rilke, Stevie Smith, Christina Rossetti, Robert Penn Warren, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, and the song Toast and Marmalade(a classic song)

I have pulled out my poetry anthology from Poetry magazine, years 1912-2002, marking lines that I have plans to type up, on the Royal, to add to the prompts. It’s rather fun to dabble in poetry this way. Totally nonsense, but fun. I have one other member in the writing group that has taken my prompts, not just poetry ones, and created some beautiful words. Short vignettes or poems. She’s brilliant.


Let Me Occupy Your Mind As You Do Mine – Flash Fiction

A darker version of a similar idea for Bookends bookstore.

A darker version of a similar idea for Bookends bookstore.

Rafe Simon sat at the small table that separated Bookends from The French Press coffee shop. It was both the most unpopular table, from eight in the morning till two in the afternoon, or the most sought after table, from two-thirty to five.  It became a very popular table mid afternoon when high school girls would fight over the coveted table just to have the chance to watch Jeff, Mia’s Elvis Costello wannabe assistant, working in the bookstore. Personally, while Rafe enjoyed chatting with Jeff, he couldn’t quite understand the girls’ fascination. Especially the floppy hair, skinny jeans, and thick, black, plastic-framed glasses.

Currently, though, Rafe’s view of the shop was quite improved as he observed Mia unloading a shipment of books at the front desk. The Devil’s Food cake slice added to the sweetness of his view, the cake moist, and for once, more chocolatey than most. The lyrics to the song playing in the shop didn’t hurt either. Gotye was eerily singing “Let me occupy your mind, as you do mine….”

Mia glanced up and at Rafe just at that moment, a frown between her brows before it lifted and she smiled. Rafe jerked his head in a hello and he watched her duck her head still grinning. Mission accomplished. Now he was in her mind.

About bloody time, he thought to himself. The woman hadn’t left his thoughts since meeting her two weeks ago. She had taken up residence and while he was loath to kick her out, she did make life rather distracting when it was as if she was twirling her finger in the hair near his ear while he went about his days on holiday. Bloody woman had to be his mate’s girl as well.

Rafe sipped his coffee and watched as Jeff came to take the stacks of paperback books Mia was setting out on the counter. She stopped and grabbed on, flipping it open excitedly.

“O Lord! He will hang upon him like a disease!” she exclaimed, dramatically leaning against Jeff, her forearm pressed to hear forehead.

Rafe chuckled, both at her and at Jeff who had rolled his eyes heavenward and shook his head in mock surrender. “Bravo, Beatrice,” he called, clapping his hands.

Mia blushed and stood upright. “The books for the high school’s play have come in,” she explained. “I love Much Ado About Nothing.”

“Classic play,” Rafe agreed.

“Best play I’ve seen in Ashland,” Mia sighed. She scooped up another stack of books and swirled off, leaving her to occupy Rafe’s mind even more as he pictured taking in a play with her.

the-bookends-love-triangleI started ‘Bookends’ (working title at this point) over ten years ago and I have only recently started thinking of working with it. It’s a love triangle romance with my characters inspired by Colin O’Donoghue, Martin Freeman, and a lovely model from the Garnet Hill catalog.  Like my earlier post about Regina and Luke, this is another Hallmark style story. Granted, in all my original drafts, unlike a Hallmark film, sex is involved. Love scenes are so much fun to write. But as I continue on, I find that sometimes you probably don’t need that. You can add it if it fits the storyline, but it’s not necessary. Unless one is writing a Harlequin Blaze….. I have contemplated that as well.

But at this point, all my stories are a Hallmark style story, and like the film, Love Actually, everyone in every story is connected at some point. Be it best friends each have their love story, or other stories are just connected somehow. One day, ONE DAY, I might have them all written. Sigh. Right now, I play out my characters in my head more than writing them.

Women As Writers – Day No. 10

I had another post planned for today but with it being day ten and being exhausted with the writing, something else came to my mind. Being a female writer.

sad-writerBeing a writer now, especially easy, is a very accepted thing. You tell someone a writer and boom, they are impressed. It’s really hard to believe that it used to be a male dominated world. Poets were male. Writers were male. Playwrights were male. I can probably list on one hand the female writers of the 1800’s. Even into the mid 1900’s there were very few female writers.

Now, I would say that writing is a predominantly female profession. You hear more about a woman writer then male and there are a lot of women writers. More than three quarters of the authors I read are women writers.  They dominate the fiction world especially, throwing in all the romance genre, along with young adult.  Young adult is specifically filled with women writers.

It’s an interesting thing to think about considering most of the classics of old are written by male writers and the books were good. I love some of the classics. I love the poets from long ago. But what I find even more interesting is how much I enjoy the way a man writes poetry or the fiction from ‘long ago’.  I love how women write. I can totally relate to what they are saying, but the way a man writes feels like he’s writing it to me. He is whispering something rather amazing to me.

So while I love being a woman writer, I sometimes feel like I can’t ever express the lyrical romance the way a man can. Now I don’t think male writers of today have this ability. Shakespeare, Tennyson, Scott, Dumas, etc…. Have a way of writing romance that is so perfect I want to spin around in a circle of happiness. I cannot write like that, nor have I ever read anything a woman has written that is like the way they can write.

It’s an interesting thought. I would say the same applies to music. Male singers have this way of singing about women in a pure, poetical way that I never see female singers be able to do. Women never describe men in the completely romantic way so many songs directed at women are done. Male singers just seem to hit that perfection that women can’t or don’t repeat.

So, in conclusion, I think a lot of women writers could learn something from male writers. I also think the reverse could be said in the detail department. That’s another whole post, but male writers, especially now, do not deal in detail….


Reading Classics to Learn About Character Development, and Please Don’t Say We Don’t Need Them

Disclaimer: This may irritate or annoy younger writers. Proceed only if you want to hear my honest opinion.

I started this morning off reading a reaction post to The Ten Most Haunting Male Literary Characters.  See the original article for this story HERE  I was actually quite fascinated with the list and could understand why many were put on this list, specifically, and I stress this, because it was done by the British.  They have their own tastes and ideas and it was a decidedly British list.

What struck me was the reactionary post.  It was written by a blog I follow, from a young author  and I won’t name names because I’m not out to irritate people, but this thought came to me.  How can you give honest criticism about why certain characters are not on the list, if you have not read most of what is on the list? How can you judge whether or not a character from a book you like should be on the list just because you think the character is haunting?

First off, let’s take the word Haunting.

:  that haunts: such as

a :  lingering in the consciousness :  not readily forgotten <the cathedral organ and the distant voices have a beauty — Claudia Cassidy>

b :  having a disquieting effect :  disturbing <from two handsome and talented young men to two horrors of disintegration — Charles Lee>

Let’s take the second definition.  We are not talking villains exactly. Because while Mr. Rochester could be described as the antagonist in the story of Jane Eyre, he is not exactly that.  Nor is Caliban the villain in The Tempest. These characters have a more in depth point to the story. It’s not merely good or bad, but technically grey.  They are not Good vs. Evil.
That being said, some of the characters on the list are evil, but not necessarily so. The word definition is crucial here.
So where am I going with all of this?
I’m finding that younger writers who have not read a lot of classics, nor have they lived unique lives, don’t have a grasp of what makes a character evil, haunting, disturbed, manipulative, psychotic, complicated or whatever adjective you want to address a character. If you have lived within the sheltered pages of life going from high school to college and that is it for your age, really, you have not lived.  And if you haven’t read the classics, or at least a couple of them, I don’t think you have a grasp on some really good character development.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have not read a ton of classics, but at age 13 I read The Three Musketeers and from there on, I’ve attempted to tackle more in depth books.  Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Scaramouche, Jane Eyre (though I have not finished it yet, but saw the film), The Great Gatsby… I’m blanking on others.  But in the past 10 years, I have learned a lot, and I stress LOT, by reading those types of books. You learn that characters are complicated. Sometimes there is no right or wrong, but there is something about a character that is thought provoking. Heck, even Mr. Darcy could have been considered haunting. (not really, but guys need to read P&P to understand why women adore Darcy….though there is Mr. Knightley…)

I don’t see how anyone can really write without reading some of the more famous works. I never thought I would say that you need to read the classics.  My father would kind of shoot me, but I honestly think you need to read some to get even the slightest grasp on character development and depth.  And if you haven’t read most of the classics, don’t even try to complain about why Voldomort is not on a list but Heathcliff is.  Don’t even go there.

And Haunting doesn’t mean evil.  People, remember that!

Side Disclaimer: I have not nor will not ever read A Clockwork Orange, anything Stephen King or anything really disturbing.


Whew! Now that I’m done ranting, I want your input. Are you someone who thinks you need the classics?  Do you think I’m off my rocker?  How do you get your character development? And what do you think of the list of Haunting Male Characters?

Signing off


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The Insane Poet

Okay, after having e.e. cummings’ complete works for three weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that that man was completely delusional.  Oh, sure, I found a couple of his poems that were very cool, Little Tree being one of them, but honest to god, that man was odd.  No, I did not mean to rhyme there.

A bit cracked in the head?

There is something about writers, and I am one to talk, but there are certain writers whom I think are just not all there.  The funny thing is, the writing world, academic world, and hoity toity world regard them as brilliant.  Seriously?  What is it that makes someone brilliant?  You can’t understand a word they are saying?  Is that what determines what a great writer/poet is?

Sure, I have my own ‘insane’ writers.  I am a huge fan of Emily Dickinson.  Most of the time you really can’t understand what she is saying, but there are brief moments you feel you do.  However, can you really understand any  writer?  For what they write, and this is especially true if they are long dead, is it possible to actually know what they are or were saying?  Do we really know what Shakespeare was talking about in his Sonnets?  And only after going through some of them recently have I wondered at his sexual orientation.  You are reading one of the greatest love story writers around, and you are left to wonder, well, was he straight or not?  Because I’m sorry, but some of those sonnets are not to a woman.  I’m sorry, being a writer, and a woman who loves men, I don’t think I could wax poetic about a woman….

Just saying.

I just wonder why we tout these authors as great when in all reality, do we really even know what they were saying?  And I’m not talking  sayings and word phrasing that was used commonly  200 years ago.  Sir Walter Scott is coming to mind and his Lady of the Lake.  Some of it really doesn’t make a ton of sense, but once you pull out the glossary at the back of the book, you get the just of it. 

Before or after you go crazy?

But e.e. cummings?  I’m still wondering on his love of the parentheses and capital letters at random points, not counting all the word sp-
lits.  Yes, that split was supposed to be there to make a point.  Maybe I should add in a few space-less  words. 

The reason I was adventuring into the world of that poet was because of one of his poems I heard, and then he was mentioned in Poemcrazy : Freeing Your Life With Words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge.  Ms. Wooldridge quite enjoys e.e. cummings work.  But then, if you read any of her work, you can kind of see why….  Now I love Poemcrazy.  I just got my copy in the mail today.  Yay.  But  there is a lot in the book I just shake my head at and go, “I do not want to be the crazy lady poet.”  I don’t want to be weird.

Oh well.  This is my own take on it.  Hopefully I haven’t offended anyone by critisizing these authors.  But if I have, well it just goes with the territory.  I’m sure there are a ton of people who do not like Emily Dickinson and Sir Walter Scott.  That’s quite alright.

Signing off