Outta Here!

Native Americans flee from the allegorical rep...

Image via Wikipedia

Outta Here!

Choctaw, Cherokee,
Chickasaw, Creek
Tears left along the trail
like breadcrumbs, like blood,
but never leading home again.
Outta here!

Westward ho!
This land is our land.
God planned it so,
His gift to us.
This land is our land,
no longer yours.
Outta here!

Land grabs today,
high noon.
First come, first served.
Outta here!

Pearl Harbor changed it all.
No fun for you,
at these camps.
Japanese Americans
Outta here!

This land was your land
but now it’s ours.
Outta here!
Eminent Domain
back to bite you in the butt.

A darker page in the history of the United States–there have been times when, through government intervention, land has been seized from those who had settled or purchased it. In the 1800’s, the tragic event known as Trail of Tears snatched large areas of land in the Southeast of the country. Five tribes were forced to relocate to areas in the midwest, primarily in Oklahoma. Thousands of Native Americans died during the relocation process. During the same era, the westward expansion forced Native tribes from their land under the doctrine termed Manifest Destiny, the belief that it was God’s intention that the western territories should belong European American settlers. In addition, land belonging to American Indians was opened for grabs (known as homesteading).

During World War II, Japanese Americans and immigrants were forced from their homes and relocated to Internment Camps scattered throughout the West. This was in response to fear that Japan was planning to attack the West Coast.

And now, today, homeowners in our country are subject to Eminent Domain. This means that if their property is deemed useful to the greater good, they may be forced to sell it to the government. While they are afforded financial compensation for their loss, they cannot contest the land seizure.

I wrote this in response to the prompt at Poetry Potluck, to write about history. Stop by for a history lesson at http://jinglepoetry.com

The image (Public Domain) is an allegorical representation of Manifest Destiny

Several Ways of Looking at Domination–Poetry Potluck

Former home of the noted American poet Wallace...

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several ways of looking at domination

i saw two wrens
attack a jay
the urge to protect
overpowers strength

in summer
green prevails
abundant charm

but in winter
green gives way
to brown
to gray
to white

the one who rules
is really subject
to another
we call it

it is a fearsome
polis who rdetermine our fate
cannot control
their weiners

red, not black
dominates color
(sorry, Wallace)*
pulses energy

if it is true
that we create god
in our own image
who’s in charge?

*The form of this poem is inspired by poet Wallace Stevens. This stanza is a response to his poem, The Domination of Black.

Submitted to Jingle’s Poetry Potluck: http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/ for this week’s theme of Dictatorship, Autocracy, and Despotism

The image is of Wallace Steven’s Connecticut home.

Wordsmith Wednesday–A Potpourri of Thoughts about Poetry

Quill etc

While Wordsmith Wednesday tends to focus on fiction writing, from time-to-time I find it compelling to write an article about poetry. This is because many of the people who visit my blog are from the poetry communities I participate in, but even more so because poetry is the handmaiden of superb writing, whatever the genre.

For today’s post, I would like to reflect on a few reminders that can serve poets as well as fiction, or for that matter, non-fiction writers.

  • Don’t shy away from poetic forms. The discipline of adhering to prescribed forms such as those that define rhyme, meter and syllable count can serve as an aid when you run up against a brick wall. I turn to a haiku, an etheree, a quatrain, tercet or any number of “recipes” for writing when it seems as though my muse has gone into hibernation. This has never failed to help me jump-start my writing. There are a number of Internet references to teach you about form. Try Luke Prater’s Word Salad at http://lukepraterswordsalad.com/
  • Write quickly but revise with care. Poetry deserves the same careful attention as prose. Often, words and ideas rush in at you and it pays to jot them down as they come. First drafts of poems will often pour out in mere minutes. I’ve dragged myself out of bed in the middle of the night and jotted down almost-illegible epics that I don’t recognize in the morning. But then the work begins. I once read about a poet who excused himself from a writing conference because he had to revise a poem. He returned hours later and when asked how it had gone told his colleagues that he spent a few hours before deleting a comma and then, a few hours later, added it back in. I hope my days will be a bit more productive than that, but you get the point. I belong to an online poetry critique group and the advice I receive is invaluable. But, as with fiction, remember that you have the final say.
  • Sensory details make your writing come alive. Many beginning poets use their craft to probe emotion, to champion causes, and to express their opinions. Indeed, these are functions of poetry. But to be more effective, it behooves you to pepper your writing with devices such as metaphors or similes that employ those delicious sensory observations that you have picked up in the course of a day. I strongly suggest that you keep your senses, all of them, on high alert and then in the evening, take a few moments to jot down a dozen or so things you remember in your writing journal. You will be amazed at the inspiration you can cull from this exercise–for poetry or fiction.
  • Don’t quit your day job. Most likely you will not get rich selling poetry. You will not find an agent to represent your tome or make the NYT’s best seller list. You will find joy in the writing process. You’ll find that your prose takes on a literary quality whatever genre you dabble in and you can build up a platform for marketing your work if you engage in Internet poetry communities. There are a myriad of these that invite both seasoned and budding poets to post their work. A few of my favorites include Poetry Potluck: http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/; One Stop Poetry: http://onestoppoetry.com/ and Poetic Asides: http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/  All of these sites offer prompts and a forum to post or link your work. I also post a writing prompt on Monday morning which invites both poetry and short fiction.

Doubt–Poetry Potluck


Image by mohammadali via Flickr


Why do wild roses
splayed along the river
go unseen, then die?

How do swallows know
when to return? And salmon,
the place of their gestation?

What causes flashes
of crimson and Parrish blue
to flare behind closed eyes?

Is there pleasure without pain?
And when we try so hard,
how come we fail?

Why do you
abandon us? Or is it
the other way around?

Linked to Poetry Potluck: http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/

Ninety Years of Love

I wrote this poem for my mother’s 90th birthday celebration and am submitting it for Poetry Potluck’s theme: Memories, Photos, Nostalgia. http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/

Just a bit of background info: my mother was widowed at age 23 when my father died in the Second World War. She had a 3 month old baby (moi!) and survived thanks to her strong faith in God and the support of her family. Seven years later, she met a widower who had a daughter and remarried. She has met life’s challenges with acceptance, humor and just a bit of fiestiness! 


Brigid Ceretto 90th Birthday--Photo: David Slotto

 Brigid—Ninety Years of Love
An Acrostic

Beauty within, beauty without
Rarely finds a home so perfect.
Inspired by grace,
Gifted with lovingkindness
Inching toward fulfillment.
Divine flower opening.

Nesting in your garden, a hummingbird brings joy.
Imagine all creation celebrating your life!
Near in mind and spirit, all those you have loved—
Each moment spent in gratitude.
To those of us who love you, every moment shared brings blessing.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow unfold in goodness.

Years ago, when hope was young and
Every day held promise,
All the pain you bore could not erase nor
Rebuke the gift of faith that makes you strong, that
Sustains your courage with its song.

Once again love found you and gifted you with
Family and friends and you gave back in kind.

Lest you forget how much you’re loved.
Only close your eyes and recall,
Valiant woman, the measure of your worth
Embraces God.

(In the photo, Mom is blowing out the ONE candle on her birthday cake!)

I-395 Mojave to Reno–Poetry Potluck

Desert wildflowers

Image by °Florian via Flickr

Submitted to Poetry Potluck: http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/ where the theme for this week is Traveling, Trips, Vacations. This poem was written last year on our return trip to Reno in May.

I-395 Mojave to Reno

Opening lines of poems
I would write
if I didn’t have to drive:

The Artist slopped his paint
across the Mojave Desert…

Purple and yellow, orange and blue,
complementary palettes…

A mound of red and black lava:
a dinosaur slipping into extinction…

Owen’s lake in cool colors:
blue on blue, silver white…

The difference between stark and extravagant =
January + 4 months – winter…

Snow presides on Mount Whitney
while Lone Pine lounges in its shadows…

To be continued
or completed.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Bread–Poetry Potluck

Oats, barley, and some food products made from...

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at Bread

taste buds awaken
to the aroma enveloping our neighborhood
mrs. curry is baking
this morning

staple of generations
“staff of life”
a common denominator
across civilizations

some people
are like bread
a hard outer crust
a soft, warm core

other people
like bread
get stale
if not attended to

dough is sweet
sometimes sour
like people

bread as sacrament
food for the soul
transforming the mundane
into divinity

bread as dough
show me the money

some people are like
unleavened bread
a bit dense

other people
are like yeast
just a lot of hot air
and they know how
to get a rise
out of you

the beauty of bread
is in its texture
and color
like people

bread is a vehicle

bread fills
our emptiness
(for a while, anyway)

people learn
we do not live
by bread alone.

Submitted to Poetry Potluck:http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/ for which this week’s theme is Food, Drink and Indulgences.

This is a poetry sequence: a poetic device recently discussed in The Writer magazine (October, 2010) by poet Marilyn Taylor. She discusses Wallace Stevens poem: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” I couldn’t resist trying this form and hope some of you might enjoy playing with it as well. Other poets who have written poetic sequences include Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sharon Olds, Jane Kenyon, Ezra Pound, William Carols Williams and Walt Whitman.

Saints–Poetry Potluck

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi

Image by larrysphatpage via Flickr

Submitted to Poetry Potluck: http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/ where today’s theme is Idols, Role Models and Mentors


Beneath the scarlet tupelo,
a concrete Buddha waits,
listens to the sound
of falling leaves.

Nearby, a maple reaches down,
shelters St. Francis and the quail
scurrying for seed at the statue’s feet.
The Saint watches.

Wintertime, blanketed by snow,
Francis asks his friend:
“What do you see, Buddha?”

“I hear life surging below.”

“But is there food for my friend?”
Francis begs.

“There is nothing more
than what has always been.”

Quantum Leap

Quantum Leap Energy

Image via Wikipedia

Submitted to Poetry Potluck: http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/  This week’s theme is Cartoons, Sci-Fi and Superpowers.

Quantum Leap

I dreamt
I flew among the stars
   skirted between planets
   cracked open doors
   to distant worlds.

                                       I dreamt
                                       I plunged into the deep
                                          touched ocean floors
                                          sifted through sand
                                          for hidden treasure.

I dreamt
I tunneled to earth’s core
midst roiling, writhing magma
set free the Watchers* waiting
for redemption.

                                         I woke
                                         I drifted toward the sun
                                            and grasped a ray
                                            to turn back time
                                            into my dreams.

*Watchers: From Biblical Apocrypha:

In the Book of Enoch, the watchers are angels dispatched to Earth to watch over the humans.

They soon begin to lust for human women, and at the prodding of their leader Samyaza, they defect en masse to illicitly instruct and procreate among humanity. The offspring of these unions are the Nephilim, savage giants who pillage the earth and endanger humanity. Samyaza and associates further taught their human charges arts and technologies such as weaponry, cosmetics, mirrors, sorcery, and other techniques that would otherwise be discovered gradually over time by humans, not foisted upon them all at once. The Greek myth of Prometheus revealing fire-making to humans without Zeus’s permission is likely a variant of the same ancient legend, and it is possible also that ancient legends among many cultures about cannibalistic giants and pervasive implementation of magical powers (such as in the tale Jack and the Beanstalk) arise from the same ancient mythology that came to inspire the Books of Enoch. Eventually God allows a Great Flood to rid the earth of the Nephilim, but first sends Uriel to warn Noah so as not to eradicate the human race. While Genesis says that the Nephilim remained “on the earth” even after the Great Flood, Jude says that the Watchers themselves are bound “in the valleys of the Earth” until Judgment Day. (Excerpt from Wikipedia)