Saturday, December 26, 2009

He Loves Me

He’s seen me without makeup
and still considers me flawless
plus 50 after pregnancy
he still found me sexy
his caress, his touch
never changed or subsided
always gentle, arousing
deliberate and anticipated
seven years later
he still makes me blush
flirting never dies
groping on the rise
attracted, like magnets
thou shall not repel
he’s from Mars
I’m from Venus
but he understands:
my need for affection, today
my need for space, tomorrow
most days I’m sparkling
on occasion, innocently ferocious
sometimes I blow up
he tenderly deflates me
the man who loves to spoil me
but won’t tolerate my mess
the only man
to effortlessly penetrate
my chest cavity
and cherish my heart
no question, our love is pure.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dream Interceptor

There are times I find myself lost in reverie. My dreams are more than a neural process…but a connector to people, my emotions. It’s been said that dreams function like psychotherapy, “making connections in a safe place.” But there are times when dreams aren’t so safe…when dreams turn ugly. When I can’t wake up, I find myself praying for control, control over characters and the environment of the dream…the skill of a lucid dreamer. Perhaps, one day I will master this skill, but for now, I simply intercept…

“Claudia, you really have to stop showing up like this!” Kerry griped.

“I’m sorry. I know, I know. I really can’t control it,” I explained.

“It’s always at the most inopportune time!” Kerry continued as she unloosed her arm from Chris’ hold.

Kerry looked at Chris, closed her eyes, and said, “OK, just one more kiss.” Chris looked at her and then at me and then back at her, totally confused. Kerry opened her eyes and said exasperatedly, “OK, bye, Chris.”

And just like that, Chris vanished. Kerry scrunched her face at me and said, “Umm, you can go now, too. This one is a complete wash.”

When she scrunched her face up like that, she reminded me so much of our mother. Kerry and I are fraternal twins. She looks more like our mom, long, jet black hair with olive skin, short, petite stature. Whereas, I’m a clone of our father: long, dark brown hair, olive skin, and tall. Differing features but definitely sisters.

“You know it’s not that easy, Kerry,” I said.

“Fine,” Kerry said, crossing her arms. “We’ll just both sit here until…” Kerry’s thought was interrupted by a sudden ominous darkness. Water started seeping from under her closed door…and fast. I began to panic, as did Kerry. Her eyes widened and her thoughts were clear: We can’t swim!

“Kerry, what the hell?” I screamed.

“This is reminiscent of a scene from Titanic. I should know; I fell asleep watching it.” Kerry cried.

I ran for the door and of course, it was locked. We banged and banged, in the dark. The water continued to rise. Our clothes were soaked and I could hear Kerry begin to choke. The water had risen up to her nostrils.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Around 6:00 AM, the alarm clock started to wail. I glanced over at Kerry. She was still sound asleep. I silenced the alarm clock and tapped Kerry on the shoulder. She gave me a snotty look and then we started laughing nervously…uncontrollably.

“OK, it’s funny now, but it wasn’t a few minutes ago!” Kerry admitted.

“I had no idea you had the hots for Chris. Since when?” I asked.

“I can’t answer that question because I didn’t really know either. Funny, the feelings that emerge in my subconscious,” Kerry mused.

“The dream world can be like that sometimes. In the future, nix the tragedy romance movies before going to bed. At least until I master the art of lucid dreaming!”

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My Eternal

Looking for answers
that once seemed so far away
right in front of me
water falls from the sky
thirsty for something new
released from a prison
guarded by demons
taking your hand
that holds the key
to a wounded heart
that needs healing
the pain dissolves
you are perfect
my thoughts will one day
mirror yours
walking with you
hardly a sacrifice
forever yours
my soul.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Teenage Woes: Camaraderie

We’ve travelled this path
once before, twice even…maybe three times
Who’s counting?
Never one for mind-numbing streams,
I preferred currents.
Riddled with optimism, dripping with bravery
We didn’t swim.
Across a floating log we crossed, barefoot.
Each time I lost my balance:
I stumbled. She laughed. Into the water I fell.
I stumbled. She pushed. Into the water I fell.
I stumbled. He watched. Into the water I fell.
Same scenario. Different person. Distinct outcome.
Never the one I wanted.
Here I am again,
on this floating log called life, faltering…
Only, this time I’m alone.
Into the water, I fell not.
Across this log, I knew I would cross.
But, I never wanted to do it alone.
Yearning for someone to hold my hand
instead of breaking my heart.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

National Day on Writing

Writing is a daily practice for millions of Americans, but few notice how integral writing has become to daily life in the 21st century. To draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) established National Day on Writing. On Thursday, October 8, 2009, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution declaring October 20 as the National Day on Writing!

To find out what you can do to help put writing front and center, check out NCTE’s website.

And…consider publishing your writing to the National Gallery of Writing. Choose any piece you’ve ever written, spoken, drawn, texted, or videoed, and submit it to the NCTE.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


57 degrees
still driving with
all the windows down
my tightly-pulled
bun comes undone
but I don’t mind
I welcome it actually
reminiscent of wild coitus
arriving home
rubbing my temples
climbing the stairs
like it’s the green mile
anticipating a hot shower
and washed hair
collapsing on
warm sheets
fresh out the dryer
leaving the windows open
the breeze
is refreshing
cool on my
naked skin

Saturday, October 10, 2009

100 Great Web Sites for Poetry Lovers

Check it out

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
-Dead Poet’s Society

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Scarlet Heart

The tension is so thick
like a callus
protect me
from the constant pressure
I feel
when we’re within
five feet of each other.
Close enough to touch
but we won’t.
Avoiding eye contact
until the accidental
Once black pupils
now red flames
caused by a scarlet
heart inflamed
with pain.
Make it stop.
If only I could.
But, you’re pregnant
with anger
refusing to birth that rage,
denying the flow of blood

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Green Leaves

I, unlock the latches
and open the window
sticking my head out
reaching for the sun.
The leaves,
once green,
turn brown and burnt.
Once infected, now distorted,
wilted, crumpled,
fallen, dead.
But, they still rustle,
dance, and stir
in the day and night,
with each wind that blows,
carrying them away,
emitting fresh air
that permeates
this stifled soul.
A whiff of cedar
wafts by me
almost cosmic.
I need the rush
while I wait
for a warm, wet spring
with green leaves.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Summer of 1995

Who do you love?
Are you for sure?
Who do you love?
Are you for sure?
Who…do you love?
Are…you…for sure?

Hmmm…I love that song
And not just because LL Cool J is the artist
It takes me back
Summer of 1995
Portsmouth Virginia
Old enough to appreciate
the simple things in life
Too young to know that Portsmouth is not

17 and carefree
days consisted of sitting on the porch
with my best friend who
just so happened to be my younger sister
(swatting mosquitos
pass me the calamine lotion)
watching her fall in love
with the boy next door
now three’s a crowd
until I met her boyfriend’s friend

and when the novelty of young crushes
wore off
we formed a girl group with our cousin
practicing dance routines until the
wee hours in the morning
only to come in second place
at a community talent show
still convinced: we’re born-to-be-stars

splitting our $15 winnings three ways at the mall
spotting and eventually shadowing Allen Iverson
ducking behind the clothes racks
whenever he turned around
finally mustering up the nerve
to ask him for his autograph

and when night fell
I wanted nothing more than to win a game
of scrabble against my grandmother
reuniting with my her and my grandfather
after nine years
and meeting my eight-year-old brother
for the first time
wow, he looks just like me

falling asleep in my dead father’s room
finding comfort in the stillness
and the sound of crickets chirping
a summer full of felicity
summer of 1995
one I’ll never forget

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Missed but not Forgotten

Eating lunch by the river
we thought we heard your laugh
that infectious laugh that always forced
us to smile and partake in the laughter
But it wasn’t you because
sometime ago, you departed the ranks
to pursue your dreams and touch the lives of others
Despite your absence, you’ve left
your mark and will always be remembered
as the glue that binds us together
while watching the tiny leaf on drifting water
we ambivalently reflect and reminisce:

There comes a time in everyone’s life
when they meet that person
with a genuine heart in the midst
of a world that isn’t very secure
that person that creates a space
that nourishes and supports
imparting a sense of connection
and resonance
that person who is the big sister,
not in the hazing sense
but in the teacher, mentor, and therapist sense
one that we take pleasure in hanging out with
admiring up close and from a far
leading by example, not my mother
but my close friend, confidante,
and sometimes partner in crime (shhh)
that person who remembered
how much I adored her crystal necklace
surprising me with crystal earrings
for Christmas
that person who completely understood
the frustrations of complacency and
encouraged me to spread my wings and fly
that person who stood by my side
when I lost loved ones and fought for my health…

Eyes fixed on the tiny drifting leaf
Neither of us utters a word
Yet the sentiment is unanimous:
You will be missed, but not forgotten.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Last Night

Last night I turned to you
like I do on most nights
drifting back and forth
between this world and my subconscious
I am unable to sleep
wanting a needed distraction
to drown the chaos down the hall
to calm my trembling hands
(I fear the shadows when the sun sets)
to kill the sensation to cry because
I miss my dead father and
despise the man in the room next door who
gleefully smacks my thighs and pinches my ass
while my mother watches
in angst, later cutting her eyes at me
Damn…what did I do?

Last night I turned to you
like I do on most nights
wanting a friend
needing an ear
I have so much to say
you’re the only one who will listen
when my soul cries out and
the pain is ready to detonate
you never say stop
so I keep going, almost obsessed
flooding your being with my dreams,
sacred secrets, desires, past hurts,
and present triumphs
while blasting Offspring’s “Self-Esteem”…
cathartic release.

23 years later and I never lost touch
How could I?
You were my first and only
guess that means there’s always a place
in my heart, mind, and soul…for you
that place I nurture and turn to when I’m ready
to peel back the layers,
wade through the memories,
heal the scars instead of picking them…
simply express.

Last night I turned to you
like I do on most nights
it was sweet…exciting
and after all these years
I am ready to introduce you to the world
my sun in the midst of darkness
my flower in a weeded desert
in a padded room with no windows,
I still have you…
my gift from God,
my love…
my poetry.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Angel Wings

Fear not the departed
in a world full of mortals
who light flames
to those who are different
once pink with giddy
now gray with despondence
sunflowers once bloomed
stalks now bow with an unnatural bend
taking on a shape of its own
the nemesis has arrived
don’t open the door
depart and cling to her wings
be carried away into the heavens
existence is no longer perilous.

Friday, May 29, 2009

WordWise Series: Women's Voices

Greater Woodbury Arts Council
Wordwise Series: Women's Voices
A Poetry Event at
A Taste of Philly Pretzel Bakery
53 S. Broad Street, Woodbury, NJ
Friday, May 29, 7:45 PM, followed by an open mic

Featured Poets
Tracey Ferdinand
Erika "Sage" Kelley
Linda DiFeterici

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bleeding Fish

It’s dark. I’m scared.
The blood drips from the knife.
The sweat beads roll
down the bridge of my nose.
It’s dead. But still moves.
The flesh on my hands
is cool and now defunct.
I hated it the first, second, and third time.
What would possess you to think
this time would be any different?
Exposure and new experiences…
Next month I turn 12;
so, this must be my rite of passage.
“Quit stalling,” he croaks.
My choices:
slit its throat, cut through the artery, or slice its organs.
“How about lethal injection?” I murmur,
and reluctantly carve through layers of cold tissue.
The blood rains lightly into the water,
mixes with the gray matter under my fingernails,
and spatters on my faded plaid shirt,
with the missing gold button and tiny moth hole
above the left sleeve.
Bloodless and lifeless, the thought of eating
repulses me. But what repulses me even more
are the words, “Now lets get ready to gut it.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

Panoramic View

My lifeless body slouches
on the permanently dented couch
eyes fixed on the glassless windows
360 degree panoramic view
savoring the images
trapped beneath gravity
and sonic pollution
nestled atop cascading optical illusions
vision focused, crisp with clarity
a little girl spins around
all the while tugging
at her pink ruffled dress
stopping abruptly
dizzily collapsing
she begins to cry
a young boy pitches
to his father, maybe his uncle
hits the ball out of the park…home run
excitement met with admiration
a wino clutches his crinkled brown paper bag
sips and staggers…full of umami, concentrated
just what he needs
two twenty-something year-olds
swap saliva under a tree, fingers entwined
one hand under her shirt
the other in her back pocket
young love, all the makings of young lust
blue night emerges, involuntary intermittence
part two continues at daybreak.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Poetry in the Park

Camden County Cultural and Heritage Commission presents "Poetry in the Park" in the Historic Hopkins House of Cooper River Park with Featured Poet Erika "Sage" Kelley, followed by an open mic poetry reading.

Monday, May 11, 2009
7-9 PM

Free Event

Happy Mother's Day

I never imagined that motherhood would be this intense, trying, poignant, fulfilling…lovely.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


WordWise, Spoken Word Event
Sketch Club Theatre
Glover Street, Woodbury on
Friday, May 1, 2009
7:00 to 9:00 PM

Sponosored by the Great Woodbury Arts Council.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Untitled Short Story

Exotic and mysterious, gripped by an unfathomable serenity…surrounded by blue magic. From the moment I saw you, I knew it was true. It’s the depth of your being that captivates so While they’re out to anatomize your molecular properties, I’m desperately trying to reach your core and feel you. Trapped between paralysis and a yearning so strong it burns, I realize I must initiate that first point of contact…that precise moment in time when our worlds collide and that coveted love is unleashed…

Her long dark hair extends past her torso. She’s quite a lovely young woman: olive complexion, almond-shaped eyes, full lips, matched with the most darling persona. Like usual, it’s mid-day and under the cumulus clouds, she strolls freely… enjoying the sand between her toes. She closes her eyes, lifts her head, and accepts the sun’s heat. I know why she’s here. She knows why she’s here. She tries her best to avoid the locals, but to no avail.

“Sirena, why do you spend such long hours on this beach? You should be in the city. Go find yourself a soul mate,” prods a little elderly woman with basket-weaved flip flops and a straw hat.

“Aidia, it’s just so beautiful here,” Sirena explains, drawing circles in the sand with her feet.

Looking up at the sky, Aidia offered, “Suit yourself. Don’t stay here too late though. My hip is bothering me today.”

Raising an eyebrow, Sirena utters an exasperated, “Huh?”

“It’s going to rain before the day is out. Umm hmm…the weather is sure to drop,” and just like that, Aidia walks off, whistling to herself.

Nightfall began to fall upon us, almost methodically. Below the dark nimbus clouds, Sirena quickens her pace to avoid the fast-approaching storm. The cool night air makes her body tremble. The droplets of rain penetrate her skin and saturate her hair. No longer walking, she begins to sprint. Faced with decisions: run for cover or go for it?

Within moments, I am within arms length. Sirena squats down and allows her fingertips to touch me. Her heart palpitates.

“Okay. This is it: the moment I’ve been waiting for,” Sirena declares, almost matter-of-factly.

Instantaneously, she dives and admires her surroundings. She eagerly connects with me. Like a chemical reaction, her transformation takes place before my eyes. Her slender fingers wipe a few droplets from her face. Her legs are no more. She smiles…admiring her shimmering, azure and jade scales, and speckled tail. I hope she stays with me for awhile.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poetry on the Porch: Thursday, April 23, 2009

The New Jersey Chapter of the Younger Women's Taskforce invites you to our "Poetry on the Porch" poetry reading and open mic event in celebration of National Poetry Month.

Enjoy the work of four local poets:

Sandra Turner-Barnes
Erika “Sage” Kelley
Judith Lawrence
Abbie Gray

Sip lemonade and enjoying light refreshments on the wrap-around porch at historic Paulsdale.

6:00-8:00 PM at Historic Paulsdale, 128 Hooton Rd., Mt. Laurel, NJ
For directions, visit:

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Surrounded by darkness
with a strange sense of comfort.

The woods,
the branches
enclose me with their limbs.

Lifeless as it may seem,
is here with me.

As I depart,
I promise I will return
and your presence
will be revealed.

Now that I've returned--
is this the same place?

The sun now shines bright
the woods,
the branches
have opened themselves up
and a whole new world
awaits me.

I never knew
this beautiful, blue ocean
surrounded this promontory.

it's amazing to see
the doves circle the ocean.

Oh, there you are
walking so slowly
on a deserted path.

How different--
in the dark
in the light...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Secret 6: Conquering Saboteurs

“A critical skill for many creative women is discernment – knowing whose advice is from the heart and really meant to be helpful, and avoiding folks who pull you away from your intentions and may be trying to undermine your achievement.”

I can thank my mother for my self-confidence. Self-doubt and self-destruction, saboterus that Gail McMeekin discusses in her sixth chapter of the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor, are saboteurs with which I do not grapple. I speak up for myself and have been dubbed aggressive in the workplace. I would, however, argue that I am assertive, as opposed to aggressive. Writer Rebecca West’s quote really resonated with me:

“People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that distinguish me from a doormat.”

My assertiveness hasn’t stopped from seeking the approval of others though. Through the years, I’ve learned that it’s important to hear other’s opinions, especially those who have expertise in your field of study. I’m confident but not arrogant enough to think that my work and ideas are perfect. So, I typically seek the advice of and input from others before making a major decision. Bouncing ideas off of others has been invaluable in my professional and personal life! What I’ve also learned through the years though, was that some people are quick to criticize and undermine your work/decision without explaining why or offering ways another/better suggestion... saboteurs as McMeekin calls them.

I remember being super-excited about a workshop I conducted. I received really favorable feedback from my attendees. I shared this with my Director and explained that I would like to talk to her about conducting future trainings, especially since I received requests from other agencies to train their staff. Her response: It’s such a small piece in the larger scheme of things, Erika. I guess it’s something we can talk about. However, she proceeded to change the subject. And before I knew it, I was dismissed from her office. Miss Confident Erika’s feelings were crushed. All I could think of was my child running into my room and saying, “Mommy, look what I did! Can I make another picture?” and me responding, “I guess. It’s not that big of a deal though.”

I sulked for a minute (ok, a day or two) and decided I would continue with the workshops with or without the support of my Director – outside of work though! In fact, I’m conducting the same workshop for another agency after hours in early March. Yes, I will continue to seek the advice of others, but like McMeekin points out, “we can listen to everything we hear, but then it’s important to sort it out realistically, learn what we need to do, and discard the rest. Not everyone is going to understand what we’re up to.” My thought is my Director failed to recognize the value of my work and creative expression through the workshop. I refused to allow that to stop me from doing what I love and what I deem as important in helping others in their work. Discernment meets determination!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fear Not...

"Some of us just go along...until that marvelous day people stop intimidating us--or should I say we refuse to let them intimidate us?"
--Peggy Lee, Singer

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cherished Poetry

Poetry is love drifting through the sky
as birds do, when they glide up high.

Poetry floats on the pillowy clouds
not just quiet, sometimes loud.

Poetry opens like a flower on a bright, sunny day.
Feel the deep sadness as poetry fades away.

You can’t imagine that? Funny…neither can I.
Poetry’s hot cocoa when snow’s thrown in my eye.

Poetry’s a cushion when I’ve fallen down.
Poetry’s a presence I need when no one’s around.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Secret 5: Committing to Self-Focus

“Many women fear appearing or actually being selfish if they commit to their creative work.”

I can understand why many women may feel this way. Females are often raised to serve others, as Gail McMeekin points out in the fifth chapter of the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor. She also points out that a creative outlet while raising children protects her and her children from great unhappiness and stress. I would argue that the same holds true for one’s spouse.

When I was on a creative hiatus, I found myself looking to my husband for my overall happiness, entertainment, physical and mental stimulation. On days when he was tired or simply wanted to be alone, I found myself twiddling my thumbs and eventually harassing him, “Are you ready to talk? What do you want to do? Lets do something.” If he didn’t feel like talking or going out, I became bored and annoyed. Not only was I frustrated, but I was aggravating him as well. I learned a valuable lesson: never depend on someone for your overall happiness. Through my writing, especially poetry, I am mentally stimulated, entertained, and often able to release bottled up hurt feelings from my childhood. Who knew, something as simple as writing, could be such a wonderful and healthy outlet.

McMeekin mentions “putting yourself on top of the priority list.” This is the first time in my reading the book that I disagree with the author. As a wife and mother, I don’t deem myself as the “priority.” Instead, I hold each role (mother, wife, individual) with equal weight – each are equally number one priorities. Thus, I ensure that I maintain a healthy balance of mommy-child, husband-wife, and me time. And on occasions when there’s imbalance, my husband and children are sure to alert me, as well they should. Nothing like checks and balances!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Around the globe,
three times and back,
to pursue my love
but I realize I lack

patience and faith
that God will provide
all I desire and need
in this world to survive.

On a planet that's filled
with mystery and revelation,
all I ever wanted was
a little love and dedication

from a man with a heart
that's pure and tender
alas, I have found him
all my love I now surrender.

I am a queen
who has found her king
I sit back and enjoy
all the love you bring
into my life...

Featured in the Poetry of Marriage anthology, a trademarked series of books.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Idiot

By Charles Reznikoff

With green stagnant eyes,
arms and legs
loose ends of string in a wind,

keep smiling at your father.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Circus Monkeys

Not quite best friends.
We don’t share secrets,
play dress up, or bake cookies.
Instead, I am your sparring partner.
And we speak loudly without saying words,
competing for his love and attention
while he tosses us peanuts.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Secret 4: Surrendering to Creative Cycles

“Burnout is the key enemy of innovation.”

The fourth chapter of Gail McMeekin's The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor made so much sense I could barely contain myself! McMeekin covered a lot of ground in this chapter, but what resonated with me the most was the idea that when we have time off and peace of mind, ideas are often born.

I remember going to school full-time and working full-time. I didn’t have a free minute in the day to even think about being creative. On the weekends I was catching up on sleep and studying. And to top things off, I was also planning a wedding! After the wedding came the new job. Then the twin boys. As things slowed down at home, the pace picked up at work. In the midst of the chaos, I was lucky enough to indulge in professional development…in Miami, Florida! My oh-so-wonderful grandmother offered to take care of my twin boys for a week so that my husband could join me. I worked during the day and we played at night. Miami was just the breath of fresh air that I needed to relax my burnout brain.

McMeekin mentioned Entrepreneur Joline Godfrey and her former partner in this chapter and explained how they had a corporate policy of taking at least one week’s vacation each quarter for peace of mind so that ideas could be birthed. Sweet. I don’t have the luxury of taking a week’s vacation every quarter; however, my husband and I schedule at least one day off from work every month. Every once in awhile, one of us will take the children for a few hours on the weekend for alone time. Both scenarios have been tremendously helpful to our marriage, our children, and has positively contributed to our productivity at work! And for me, the creativity is stimulated when I have a clear head coupled with physical and mental rest. I’ve been able to maintain my prose and poetry blog and even initiate great ideas for projects at work.

As McMeekin stated, “We all need time between cycles to rest and fill ourselves up again with fresh dreams and energy.”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Smile and Let Go

By Silfredo Rodriguez, a young poet from the city of Camden, NJ, also a member of Hopeworks, a non-profit organization in the city of Camden, NJ.

I walk this road alone because I chose to.
World shattered.
Heart ravaged by devastation.
My mind knows not the depths of peace nor the
tranquility that lies within.
I was told that once upon a time my transgressions
were paid in full,
that my sins were paid for in full,
that these same sins lay at the bottom of a sea of glass.
If this is so…then why?
Why do my memories still haunt me?
Are these things that I myself haven’t forgiven myself for?
Is it my fault that I am not able to forget?
Is it my fault that the things I have buried in the depths of that
sea have somehow made it to the surface?
Is it my fault that I can’t shake my past?
I look at those sins as vast and numerous as the stars in the sky.
Laying on the surface of that sea,
smile and let go, walking away from them knowing that
I am forgiven.

Silfredo shared this poem at a church last Sunday and there wasn't a dry eye in the place. Poetry can be like that sometimes. It's very cathartic...piercing. As a person that works in the education field, I was pleased at the clarity of the piece. It was poignant with great use of imagery and metaphors. I recently conducted a workshop, "Incorporating Poetry into After-school Programs," and was able to "see" the research that I presented to the group, in this poem.

Research shows that the arts help youth build both basic and advanced thinking skills, and instruct youth in diverse modes of thinking and learning. The knowledge and skills that students develop in learning to respond to, perform and create works of arts constitute a fundamental form of literacy students must have if they are to communicate successfully and function in today’s new media and information society.

I hope more of today's youth embrace the arts!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Alone With You

high above the trees
dodging birds
short naps on the clouds
sun rays bronze
my slightly golden body
night falls
it’s almost time
wind carries me
in your direction
nameless destination
our secret domicile
cozy and quiet
like old times

Friday, January 23, 2009

Secret 3: Following Your Fascinations

My passion meets my vocation…

In my eagerness to immerse myself in all that is creative and literary, I began my journey for a new career path. What I learned during this voyage was that I lacked the writing experience. Sure, folks have told me that I was an exceptional writer, but where was my portfolio? I had two choices:

(1) take an entry-level writing position, ultimately resulting in a severe pay cut, but gaining the experience and building my portfolio in the blissful world of writing, or

(2) write freelance in my spare time, slowly gaining experience and building my portfolio.

Option 1 was my preference, my creative impulse. But as Gail McMeekin’s points out in the third chapter of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor, choice 2 would ultimately negatively impact others…my family, thus a negative, impulsive risk.

“There are two kinds of risks: impulsive risks and calculated risks.”

With childcare expenses that are equivalent to a mortgage payment, it would be virtually impossible for me to take a severe pay cut, especially in this economy. Asking my husband to take a second job was also out of the question. When would he have time to spend with his children and me?

So…I opted for scenario 2. And for the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to obtain several writing gigs that have allowed me to gain diverse writing experiences, while supplementing my income! But for me, it still wasn’t enough. I desperately wanted my passion as my vocation…full-time. So, I decided to take a positive risk, one that McMeekin describes as challenging yourself, following creative hunches, testing your strengths, and initiating a plan of action.

I embarked on a plan of action that would allow me to infuse my creativity and passion for writing into my current position (Program Officer managing the state’s after-school initiative).

First, I thought of ways that I could utilize my writing more in my position (e.g., prepare and disseminate a quarterly newsletter) and shared my ideas with my supervisor. I was also vocal about my personal interests in poetry and the arts (with just about anyone and everyone that would listen). When the opportunity to attend a United States Department of Education sponsored-training on after-school and the arts arose, I jumped on it. As a part of the training, I would be responsible for turn-keying this information to the state’s after-school programs. Of course, I was more than happy to agree to conduct trainings with our after-school programs regarding the importance of arts in education, particularly in after-school programs.

Next thing I knew, my supervisor approached me about conducting a workshop on infusing poetry into after-school programs at a regional conference! I jumped on that, too. That has resulted in me connecting with other like-minded individuals, along with requests to conduct the same workshop for other agencies. My supervisor has been open to projects surrounding poetry and the arts, as related to after-school programs, especially since national research supports the need for the arts in after-school programs (which I was more than happy to supply to her). Research has shown the arts to have value to learning and academic achievement, as well as to self-confidence and reaching disengaged youth.

So long as I am able to maintain my current workload, I can continue to work on arts-related projects, as related to after-school programs. And that works for me, because it hardly seems like extra work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Beginnings

The sun rises
illuminating the earth
nourishing the vegetation
warming my skin
rose-colored cheeks
my face is flushed
hot with anticipation
it’s a new day
filled with hope
a promise for change
the future is unwritten
I am optimistic.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Writing Endeavors

I am pleased that my article, "Celebrating Twins," was featured in Far Running Fat Man, an online publication.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Secret 2: Honoring Your Inspirations

“If you are out of touch with your inspired self, making a date to connect opens the window.”

So many women have lost touch with their creative voice. Why? In the second chapter of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor by Gail McMeekin, she points out that too many women are overwhelmed by the awesome responsibilities of home, work, and relationships…consequently, losing touch with their creative voice. I found myself among this group of women not too long ago and as a result, I was restless and stir-crazy. While I find comfort in life’s daily routines, without a creative outlet feelings of stagnation and boredom creep in.

So, what can women do to find their creative voice again? McMeekin advises women to reserve at least 15 minutes of quiet time every day to listen to our thoughts in a creative sanctuary. Select a method for capturing images (e.g., writing, taping, drawing, role-playing) and answer the question: What is your intuition urging you to explore or experience?

This “daily date with my creative voice” has definitely allowed me to soar creatively and express what’s on my mind and in my heart. Typically, on weekends, when my husband and twin boys are fast asleep, and I’m alone with my thoughts, the creative waves begin to rise. And I find myself writing about the same topic until I “feel better.”

Writing has truly helped my mind stay alert, aided in managing the stressors in my life, prevented boredom, and has allowed me to strengthen my connection with loved ones. I can tell my husband, “I love you,” but to express to him via poetry the ways in which he is my soul mate has spoken volumes! I can tell my best friend, “work will get better; continue to vent and express yourself.” But inviting her to my monthly open mic poetry group has allowed her to express herself on paper and verbally. In fact, I dubbed her the “secret poet.” She too, has discovered the power of creative expression.

Secret 1: Acknowledging Your Creative Self

My insatiable passion for writing and poetry has been unleashed…

I hear so many women say, “I’m not the creative type.” In the first chapter of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor by Gail McMeekin, defies this statement by touching on two major points: “we have a creative self waiting to be awakened and amplified” and “the creative impulses of too many women are asleep—dormant, or unacknowledged.” So, the question is: how do we tap into this creativity?

Now before I delve into the first chapter, I want to start out by saying that the first thing that grabbed my attention was McMeekin’s use of quotes. Almost every page contains a quote by a writer, poet, artist, etc., related to evoking our creative spirits. The quotes were distracting, in a good way…I found myself peeking ahead to read the quotes! A few that truly resonated with me include:

“What you love is a sign from your higher self of what you are to do.” –-Sanaya Roman, Writer

“Making art is a rite of initiation. People change their souls.” –-Julia Cameron, Writer

“Creativity is like a great receptive womb.” –-Lynn V. Andrews, Writer

So, after I surmounted my fascination with the quotes, I was really able to digest McMeekin’s words, which were very uplifting and truly germane to my once dormant and now restored love of creative expression!

McMeekin explained how her battle with chronic fatigue syndrome actually sparked her interest in art, beauty, and creative expression. McMeekin says she was burned out from too much caretaking. But, I wonder if it’s something about tiredness that correlates with the yearning for creativity? I say this because I stirred up my affinity for creative expression shortly after the birth of my twins. I was consistently fatigued and truly experienced sleep deprivation (feeding twins every two hours…yikes!).

My new role as mother was intensely overwhelming. It was my husband who suggested that I “get out and do something.” He recognized my hunger for (creative) brain stimulation, which I responded to with writing and poetry, something I immersed myself in as a child and young adult. I soon realized that my love of poetry and writing were temporarily concealed as a result of a major transition in my life: motherhood. And interestingly enough, like McMeekin’s “Response to Creative Callings,” I was drawn to color. Most people know me as the woman with the “earth-toned wardrobe.” All of a sudden, I started wearing green, purple, and orange tops! (In fact, today I have on a cranberry shirt.)

As the chapter concluded, McMeekin shared how she reconnected with her artistic, intuitive self: painting, writing, decorating, and gardening. She even sought after mentors of advanced creativity and shares their secrets through this book.

I look forward to reading more about how I can “spread my creative wings and ascend to new heights.”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Blogging Group

For the past few months, I have been posting my favorite music, videos, books, quotes, etc. on Fridays as "Friday Favorites..." blog posts. However, for the next 12 weeks, I will be blogging about The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor, by Gail McMeekin.

The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor (Conari Press, 2000) is an inspirational guidebook that offers 12 practices designed to increase one's creative success and help to achieve one's goals, complete with interviews of Sarah Ban Breathnach, Barbara Sher, Shakti Gawain, Chris Madden, Sigrid Olsen, and 40 other highly creative women.

I'll be reading this book and blogging about it as a part of an online blogging book club. An online blogging book club, huh? Yep. It's a community of bloggers that work their way through a book together, sharing their experiences by posting on their own blog and by reading what other participants are sharing. The blog, Next Chapter: 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, initiated by Jamie Ridler, certified professional co-active coach, is the homebase and will host the blog roll of participants.

I anticipate exploring this inspirational book with like-minded creative spirits! I hope you'll tune in every Friday as I journey through this 12-week exploration of creativity, sharing my experiences and reactions to The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor!

Interested in joining or learning more about this book blogging group? Check out the Next Chapter: 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women blog for the details or contact Jamie Ridler with any questions.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

American Smooth

By Rita Dove From American Smooth

We were dancing - it must have
been a foxtrot or a waltz,
something romantic but
requiring restraint,
rise and fall, precise
execution as we moved
into the next song without
stopping, two chests heaving
above a seven-league
stride - such perfect agony
one learns to smile through,
ecstatic mimicry
being the sine qua non
of American smooth.
And because I was distracted
by the effort of
keeping my frame
(the leftward lean, head turned
just enough to gaze out
past your ear and always
smiling, smiling),
I didn't notice
how still you'd become until
we had done it
(for two measures?
four?) - achieved flight,
that swift and serene
before the earth
remembered who we were
and brought us down.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Remember You When…

Two decades later,
you appear before me.
Seeing you
simply surreal.
No senseless strangeness
or stilted stumbling,
only secured serenity.
Self-evident stunners.

Secrets secreted
from the once-locked closets.
In the midst of our reminiscing
simultaneous sentiments
sadness, solace
seethed slowly within me:
childhood memories.

Succumb spiritedly
to friendship, old and new
versus a moment in my life
sinfully somber.
Strength supersedes
this previously-fragile child.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Writing Endeavors

I am pleased that my article, "Exercise + Nutrition = Healthy," was featured in Far Running Fat Man, an online publication.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fickle Frenemy

Dangerously dangerous,
dutifully devious,
flagrantly fake,
while simultaneously sweet,
confusingly civil,
cordially considerate.
Painfully pricked once,
earnestly embarrassed twice,
three times meticulously met
with warm welcomes.
A gate guards my heart.
Your key can’t unlock.
Unrestricted no more.
Finally, free.
But, baffled by it all.

This is an example of alliteration: the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (e.g., purple plum, clumsy clowns).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Favorites...

"When you write in prose you say what you mean. When you write in rhyme you say what you must."
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage 1988

On this lovely
sun-shiny day
she stands with
perfect posture
poised and acute.
Although, it’s difficult
to concentrate
and remain collected.

The twinge she feels
devours her heart
like a lurching predator
waiting to slay her.

She glances at her watch
again, again, and again…

She continues to wait for sunset
so she can unwind and release
and forget life’s demands!

Yes, nightfall…
the vertex of her day
when she eagerly accepts
her pseudonym: Oenophile.

And suitably so
painstakingly consuming
every glass until
once again…inebriated
inept at walking, yet
effortlessly emaciated.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And the award goes to...

Yesterday I found out that two of my 55 word short stories were selected to be published in a 55 word stoy chapbook. And today, I am happy to announce that I received an award from Chef E!

Thanks again, Chef E!

Monday, January 5, 2009

55 Word Story Chapbook

I am pleased to learn that two of my 55 word stories, Over Starbucks Coffee and I Do It Once a Week, were selected for the 55 Word Story Chapbook, which will be published by Lilly Press! Twenty-four stories were selected in all, based on the following criteria:

Stories are complete with a beginning, middle, and end and are...

provocative, and

Books will be featured on the River Poets website and can be ordered through paypal.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Favorites...

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

A very interesting book about unwed mothers and their secrets and lies in the 1960s...beautifully-written with compelling character study.