Tuesday, September 20, 2022

A Poem: Herbalist Breakup (Adult Content Warning)

She left Urtica dioica on the porch swing,
oak steps creaked from her departure
like grandpa's spine under pressure
from grandma's biker boots. Pops of gravel
as she sprinted down the road dissipated
under a nasty moon blushing red with thoughts
of the sun spurting flares across its face. I sat
on the opposite side of the batch of peridot plants.
No mettle to touch them. Burning nettle tea scratches 
my throat like a leopard anticipating love in death.
The barn stretched behind me, bathing me in black.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

When an Editor Uses Your Work as an Example

Writers think of huge milestones when considering our careers: Our first books, our acceptance into that magazine, and prestigious awards. We celebrate getting invitations to read at a festival or our admittance into our dream workshops. But there are a million tiny things along the way to our more dreamlike steps that can help keep us going.

I've barely written anything in months. Blog posts become hip-high mud I wade through. My social media is filled with articles other people write because anything else feels too raw/wrong. Poetry and I are on an indefinite hiatus because I'm currently cheating with the toxic relationship I can't quit... depression.

I pace the Internet at night. I marathon watch YouTube videos until I'm ready for bed. I ask the oracle Google if video games are out I may like, to deliver flash fiction to my doorstep, and if anyone is talking about me. 

A link to a literary magazine I've never heard of came up as I searched my name. More than once, these hits were weird pingbacks to other writers I once shared page space with; I apparently don't publish often enough to always have my name lead to my work. But not this time. Land Luck Review has my piece "The Leavings of Flame" in their Liked Links along with writers such as Charles Simic and Caroline Forché! My work is now an example to future submitters... something I never thought I'd say.

Has your work ever been used as a positive example?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Life Updates

No words have touched this space in a month. A project is brewing, but it is not far enough along for me to post about it... I'd hoped differently. Since I feel it would be foolish to wait another week or so, I'll just give you random updates.

First, my nurse practitioner and I are engaged in Diagnosis Battleship once more. My body becomes the board with a problem I can't see. Each coordinate she calls out is a vial of blood and another test. Diabetes! Miss. Thyroid! Miss! One set of tests has yielded no answers, but another set is on the horizon this month. Where is the battleship? Is there one? Can we sink it before it crosses into friendly seas?

Rejections are hitting hard and frequent... especially for my poetry manuscript. It's getting to the point where I will either have to start paying ($10-$30) to submit or shred my collection. My horror poetry collection already has to be self-published or trashed, so the thought of both books being lost causes hurts more than I'll admit. Maybe I'm not meant to go "the book route". 

The Handy, Uncapped Pen's mentor program can't be saved. I've tried to keep it going, and nothing I try works. The Cripendy Contest flopped this spring as well. After this year, I will see what I can possibly keep. I've given six years to HUP and it's failing. Maybe this is the last year...

Brandon and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage and seventeen years as a couple in June. Sometimes, I can't believe how fast it all goes.

Otherwise, my life is pretty similar day-to-day. I'm writing a little bit more, but each word is hard-won. I've almost completed a diamond painting project, but I'm not crafting much. It's just how things are right now.

How is everything for you?

Monday, July 4, 2022

Otis Nebula and New Things

I have a new poem in Otis Nebula. I was overjoyed after the editor told me the news... until I remembered I'd have to write an Otis. Poetic forms I've never tried always fill me with trepidation, and it spread exponentially when I found out it had to be completed in 24 hours.

An Otis starts with twelve seed words. You can't change the forms of the words and have to use one word in each line of the poem. The words must be used in the order they are given. The poem should be completed quickly. 

I wrote two in the span of twenty minutes because I was terrified of not having it done in time. I submitted one after stressing about spelling and coherence. Afterwards, I found out that it was optional to participate in the prompt. My contribution is the first one on the group Otis page.

The other one I wrote with the same seed words:

You make this walk whimsical.
Water steadily touches the weir
the way you caress me, no maybe
in our patient, relentless love
we can’t squeak a dime through.
Leftovers await us back home,
bulb over the yellow kitchen sink
still broken. It matters not. You're a goof who
dances with me like we're in a courtyard
in Portugal, phantom terebinth tree waving
a hello like reeds in a marsh to frogs.
My worries are a ghost when you smile.

I'm glad I attempted something new, but I don't think either poem is my strongest work.

When was the last time you tried something new in your writing?

Monday, June 20, 2022

Poem from Real Life

Note:  Marrow Magazine recently published three of my speculative poems! Click here to read them.

Poem from Real Life

Beside me, he slept smelling like spoiled milk
and sweetness. His little face turned to mine
found itself lost in dreams while I snapped covert
pictures. His mother, all dark eyes and mood,
didn't want me to hold him—my cerebral palsy
too unstable for comfort. My nephew kept a proper
six inches from his auntie, tiny chest rising
in bread-dough imitation while mine caved in.

A lot of my poems aren't wholesale from my existence like this one. I wrote it years ago after my brother's ex-spouse told me I was never going to have contact with my nephew other than briefly seeing him his first Christmas. It wasn't just a concern that I'd have a spasm during holding him... I was apparently a bad influence. Thankfully, I can still visit him.

I never considered publishing the poem in a literary journal because it's not a strong enough piece. A firm narrative does not a poem make. The metaphors are weak and repetition exists without furthering rhythm, musicality, or layers. It feels more like a drabble or micro-essay. 

How much/often do you incorporate life events into your work?

Monday, June 6, 2022

Now Streaming: Myself!

Do you ever hate the sound of your voice so much you try not to talk where it can be recorded? Me, too. I always think I sound garbled or androgynous (not that there's anything wrong with androgyny if it's what you're shooting for). I'm also worried I'll mess up, so I'm not comfortable talking to the public much... much less somewhere frozen in digital antiquity. 

So, it's by complete shock I enjoy streaming. Perhaps it's the anonymity of an alias. Maybe it's the freedom of being able to swear with gusto without it messing with people's perceptions of my work. It helps somewhat that I'm not on camera.

It scared me at first. I almost didn't attempt it. The thought of no one watching was as bad as a lot of people watching! But I wanted to get better at public speaking and share more aspects of my life/interests while meeting new people. Since I don't go outside much, I have a lot of time to fill.

I'll be streaming for three months on Twitch in a couple weeks. I play games and do the occasional stream on poetry and whatever else I fancy. I have a YouTube channel for archives and a Twitter account. The benefits, so far, are plentiful for me. Hardly anyone comes to my streams, but I still enjoy hanging out. I just hope I don't become obsessed with stats or get entangled with toxic people (which is frightfully common in streaming communities).

Have you ever found yourself doing (and loving) something unexpected?

Monday, May 23, 2022

Deterioration of Us (a Poem)

We hold the coffee-colored
umbrella upside-down
Catching little drips of sweat
from concrete clouds
Blanket stretched tight over sunlight
exerts itself to maintain position

It reminds me of the time
sand, abrading my skin,
embedded everywhere and you,
my shield from the rakish rays,
came away that afternoon with lobster-red
everything, except two pale palm marks
on your back and a matching belt
where my legs were

We walk to the café as opposing magnets
afternoons long settled into starless evenings
More than a table between us, now
Our silence cut by the sounds of cups
and chattering of happy lovers
We hold our world upside-down,
wondering why we exert ourselves to maintain
positions of civility