One of my favorite Luther Burbank quotes.
— S. K.
One of my favorite Luther Burbank quotes.
— S. K.
A badass poem about the polar vortex, defined as “a low pressure area—a wide expanse of swirling cold air—that is parked in polar regions.” We know it as the force that wreaked havoc here in the U.S. last week.
Tricia Knoll first published Pola Vortex as part of a “poetry marathon” put on by Tupelo Press, an indie press that publishes books of poetry. It was part of a 30-30 challenge—30 poems in 30 days.
The poems will be up through February here.
Thanks, Tricia, for sharing this one with us.
I am the witch’s tit.
You people never get me right. My bitch bra is made of silver, not brass. I make mirrors and hand you froth. I go by many names, but call me Pola. The lusty wind diva. Cringe all you like.
Be warned: Jail break! I am no longer stuck to the cloverleaf of north. I swoop down to kick ass on your sad little towns, clog your straight-arrow roads, shiver your timbers, and kill your weak. ICE? You ain’t seen nothing yet. I lock you homebound.
I rub you raw. Push me with plows? I keep coming. I’m higher than your kites, clouds, skyscrapers and drones. My slip shows – flakey lace. White and quite long-wear-you-down. Hah! I’m a swirling hurl-a-girl layback spin, skating your way every chance I get on ice-sharp blades. Flashing my flowing skirts – silver thaw and midnight blue.
You ignored me. You favored rant-chants about warming. While the sea beneath me went soft. We are going to dance, you and me. Like it or not, I lead. Buckle up your boots. Snowshoes. All-wheel drive and all-weather coats.
You don’t have time to tame me. I’m counter-clockwise. Pola revolutionary.
Fools unlocked the gate. I’m no more stay-at-home dame. Good times Pola Mama. You get what you deserve.
My memoir is coming out this month!
Yes, I know. I announced that it was coming out “soon” in JUNE (over six months ago). This baby is late, very late. As some of you know, I’m a self-taught publisher. Over the last eight years, I’ve published six issues of Greenwoman, a YA novel (Zera and the Green Man), a book of short stories (Fifty Shades of Green), a few e-books, and many articles and posts. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with many talented writers of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. I’d published so many things, but I’d never published a memoir—so here, once again, was another huge learning curve.
I thought I had all the material, all the stories I’d written over the years, and it could be easily put together. Oh, ha ha—wishful thinking! Luckily, my daughters (thank the heavens for them, always bringing me back to reality and keeping the bar set high) told me that the first draft was too incomplete and too inconsistent.
Those were not words I was hoping to hear.
My daughters urged me to rewrite several of the stories in past tense. A significant undertaking.
Then I discovered that the book, about our menagerie of pets over the years (among other things), really needed a story about our dog Chancho.
More importantly, the book needed an “origin” story.
That story took another month of writing, but first I had to time-travel back twenty-five years. (And let me tell you, time-travel is not easy!) The process was difficult emotionally, reliving those days, the tough times back in the early days, before all the fun started with raising kids, chickens, and a garden. Andy and I were just starting out in business and in parenthood, paying student loans and the mortgage on two houses for an entire year, living paycheck to paycheck (having to borrow money at times from his brother Danny to keep the utilities on), as Andy worked seven days a week to fix up a beautiful yet humble home with (finally) a space to garden . . . Oh, and did I mention I was pregnant with Lily and we had no health insurance?
I wrote the origin story. We went over the manuscript, again. And then again, reading it aloud this time and making over 600 more editing changes.
Two days ago I received what I hope will be the final proof. One more fine-tooth comb reading and a only a few (I hope!) minor edits.
I was reminded: Anything worthwhile takes time and thought and care. More than you imagine!
But today, finally, a sneak peek! Here she is. Almost born!
(Consider this an invitation to the baby shower.)
Now for the backstory on the title, because some of you might remember that it was going to be titled The Chicken Chronicles. A good friend alerted me (thank you, V. G.!) that there was already a memoir with that title, by the illustrious Alice Walker (the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Color Purple). Her book was also about chickens. So . . . I had to think of another title. Not easy, as that was my “working title” for years.
For a while I was stuck on Mother Hen . . . but no one seemed thrilled about that one, and the only male beta reader (hello, Geno!) gave it a thumbs’ down in appeal to male readers. A clever friend (again, G. V.) , suggested a few alternatives. Her favorite was Chicken Scratches, which had its charms, but as I always prided myself on good penpersonship, it didn’t connect with me the way it needed to.
Sidenote: Wow, while writing this, I just thought of another title . . . Clucked Up. Ha ha! Maybe that will be the title of the sequel! Goodness knows there have been many more challenges and harrowing adventures this last decade— and especially these last two years!
Anyway, back to the subject at hand: One day I was rattling off title suggestions to Lily, including “Please Don’t Piss on the Penstemons,” the original title of one of the stories about our dog, Broonzy, and his destructive puppyhood. The back story on that title is that it’s a play on the old book/movie title Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, a work I’d never read, but I remembered vividly from childhood.
Lily said, “I like that one.”
I said, “I do too, especially the alliteration, but . . . I don’t know. It has a swear word. And I think there are a lot of people who don’t even know what penstemons are!”
Lily said that readers could look up penstemons—and that it wasn’t a big deal about “piss.”
I still thought it could be a dangerous move, a title with both “penstemons” and “piss,” so I decided to change penstemons to another “p” flower. What would sound best? We asked friends their preference: poppies, pansies, petunias or peonies?
Now, to take a look at “piss” (ha). I researched: “book titles with swear words.” It seems that it can actually help sell a book these days! Who knew? I brought it up to a media-savvy friend (hello, Mary Ellen!) a decade older than I am. She was, to my surprise, very enthusiastic. She said, “Our book club chose to read The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu because of the title. Do it, Sandy!”
Still searching for a bit more reassurance (this was a big move!), I brought up the subject of swear words in book titles in Facebook-land. My mother immediately commented that she would never have a book with a swear word in the title on her coffee table! (Protecting the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you see. I didn’t even disclose what the colorful word would be, but she was against it.)
So “Piss” it was!
The book is very sweet (and only slightly pissy). More than anything, it is a love letter to our home and garden, our family, and Nature.
I hope you’ll make a note to buy a copy this month. I’ll let you know when she is born!
With much love and appreciation to all who have helped bring yet another dream to fruition,
I saw this quote/image this week on Facebook and shared it. So many were taken with it that I decided to reproduce it here.
The artist Florence Harrison (1877–1955) “was an Art Nouveau and Pre-Raphaelite illustrator of poetry and children’s books. Many of her books were published by Blackie and Sons. She illustrated books by notable Pre-Raphaelite circle poets Christina Rosetti, William Morris, and Sir Alfred Tennyson.” (from Wikipedia)
Jonny Ox is a writer/folk musician who creates “Artistic musings for poetic hearts, playful minds, and deep souls.” (from his Facebook page)
I love it when art and poetry from across time merge into something so relatable.
It’s that time of year again, soup time. This poem, by a brand new contributor (thank you, Scudder!), is about the magic a gardener/cook can create — with only a few of the season’s last offerings and a little imagination.
Too many leeks this year.
A dozen locked in four inches
of frozen, mounded soil, one bin
stacked full in the refrigerator.
And kale stalks like palms
after the hurricane, offering
their small limp fronds before
succumbing to the final freeze.
“Delicious!” is all I can think.
Chicken bones accumulated
in the freezer. Wilted greens
hiding in the other bin. Onions
that won’t make it through
the month—all crying “broth!”
Then add potatoes (with the skin)
throw celery and carrots in.
It is to vichyssoise what
slam poetry is to rhyming
greeting cards. You have to
drink it hot, soak your coarse
bread crust. It’s full of things
that were all but lost,
so ordinary, damaged,
that they seem to have no cost.
* * *
Scudder Parker grew up on a family farm in North Danville, Vermont. He’s been a Protestant minister, state senator, utility regulator, candidate for Governor, consultant on energy efficiency and renewable energy, and is settling into his ongoing work as a poet. He’s a passionate gardener and proud grandfather of four. He and his wife live in Middlesex, Vermont. Scudder has published in Sun Magazine, Vermont Life, Northern Woodlands, Wordrunner, Passager, Eclectica, Twyckenham, Ponder Review, and Crosswinds.
Right now, I hope you’ll join me in making a vow for 2019:
No more tolerance of climate change denial.
No more allowing our media and our elected officials to ignore the problems and run from solutions.
No more running away from hard work – we MUST get INVOLVED. Everyone can do SOMETHING. Very little bit matters and it all adds up!
No more silence. We must say something, we must speak out, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
No more protecting those who have brought this on through lies and deceit.
No more standing still.
It’s time to get MOVING.
The world depends on it.
We have a lot to be grateful for in this beautiful world and we can heal it. I know it.
But we have to start now.
Ladybug, Ladybug Fly Away Home
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.
That last line is up to us, and only us, to change.
I feel this is the perfect post for the holidays, and every day. Maybe when we say we are thankful for our meals, we should think of all the creatures who make them possible. ❤
Millions of Americans are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, and the grocery stores are bracing themselves for the onslaught of customers. The fact that hundreds of millions of people in the US can eat a meal that consists of roughly the same menu on the same day is a miracle of modern agriculture as well as a testament to good supply chain management at that nations’ grocery stores. Have you ever considered how your Thanksgiving meal is impacted by bees? Many of your Thanksgiving favorites would not make it to the table without the pollination services provide by bees.
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