Calando–Writer’s 4th Wednesday

I’ve chosen a previously published poem from 2012 in response to my prompt for Writer’s 4th Wednesday over at The Bardo Group. Music lends itself to allegory.

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia


Life lived in a minor key
(not empty)
waiting for the final chord.

You walked alone
and yet the song you sang
(gentle, haunting)

Dolce, my sweet friend
dolente, largo,
until alone, as you lived,



Using musical notation, this brief poem is about a loved one who suffered from agoraphobia. She died a few years back  from cancer. Many have commented on her life as wasted. I chose to believe she had her own symphony to compose, and it was full of a gentle, generous beauty.

Calando-dying away

Agoraphobia is literally translated as fear of crowds. It is a type of social anxiety disorder.

Calando–published in my poetry collection, Jacaranda Rain.

Oh, Oh–Obits! Monday Meanderings

Photo: cbsnews

Photo: cbsnews

I’d like to begin this morbid-sounding article with a few unrelated incidents about obituaries:

• A recent obituary in our local paper, the Reno Gazette Journal, went viral—perhaps you saw it. The children of an abusive woman wrote a scathing indictment of their mother, tracing the history of their life with her, which was one of torture.
• At a writer’s conference I attended a number of years ago, in the poetry breakout session, the poet, Julia Conner, began by asking us to write our own obituary.
• While I’ve always skimmed obituaries, recently I’ve begun to notice that many dates-of-birth are clustered around my own age group. This morning, for example, 30% of them dealt with persons my age or younger.
• Now and again, there are stories of people’s lives that make me wish I’d known them in life. These are the ones that go beyond the facts, successes and CV’s and are able to capture the essence of a person’s humor, joie de vivre or loving nature.

How can an article summarize a life? How can we really get to know the real person?

I attended a funeral once of a good-hearted but psychologically wounded man who was known to be a pathological liar. He was someone I knew so many years, but who I had learned to accept with a bit of discernment. So did most everyone else who knew and, yes, loved him. His daughter, in eulogizing him said, “In his own way, Dad taught us about truth.” Most of those attending the crowded service knew what she was getting at and we laughed. I wonder what the priest thought.

My suggestion for a bit of reflection is to write your own obituary…twice.

• Write one as it would be today in complete honesty, sort of like the brutal one about the abusive woman Her children explained, in a subsequent interview by the RGJ, that their intent was to draw attention to the reality of child abuse. Oh, but please don’t make it depressing. Don’t forget those wonderful things about you you would want others to remember.
• Now, write the second one the way you wish to be remembered. All of us still have time to make those desires become reality.

In the workshop, the poet-leader had us read our own obituaries as a way to introduce ourselves to one another. I’m not asking you to share yours here, though. I’m sure most of us, if we had to post it, would have a hard time being totally honest. Somewhere I have the notes from that workshop. I wonder what I wrote and how it really reflects my life.

I got the idea for this post from a poem I wrote years ago and had no idea what to do with…so, here it is. Not stellar poetry, but hopefully it makes the point.


How to sum up a life
in 200 words or less:
No adjectives
or otherwise descriptive
phrases. Forget those
gone ahead
or somewhat
No room for emotion.
Focus on achievement.
But does that really plumb
the depths of
who you are?
What’s left?
What remains?

Have a wonderful fulfilling week! I’m still having to limit my time at the computer because of a minor health issue (tendonitis). Not a condition that should be life-limiting!

Photo: newsone

Photo: newsone

On Being True to Self–A Writer’s Voice

Photo: Victoria Ceretto-Slotto 2/10

My agent has forwarded me two letters of rejection from publishers–both of them complimentary. They mentioned “smooth writing,” “strong voice” etc. The reasons for both rejections stated something to the effect that there was overwhelming sadness in the story in spite of the hopeful ending.

My initial reaction was, “Well, I’ll do a rewrite and throw in some humor.” My close friend and writing buddy cautioned me against this and told me that it was probably more about not being a good match to the publisher’s list. This gave me reason to ponder–am I so anxious to be published that I will compromise the story I have to tell? I thought about literary fiction that I’ve read and appreciated dealing with painful subjects and reminded myself that my own life of working with death and dying predisposes me to deal with topics of loss, redemption, survival and hope.

The reason I’m indulging myself in this post is that it brings to mind the importance of being true to one’s inspiration and unique voice as a writer. We each have a sacred song to sing and I believe we are called to deliver our message to the best of our ability. My message in “Winter is Past” is that life is precious, live it fully and believe that the heart has room for love.

That being said, while being open to suggestions of an editor and willing to rewrite until I have calluses on my fingertips, I never want to be untrue to the song I have to sing.