Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Mirror Mirror" by Lisa Vedekal

Gently swishing water with beautiful feet. That’s what she was doing.

Sexy. That was the image she wanted to capture.

In public, image was her purpose. In private, she prepared it. Whatever she did, her image was her ulterior motive. She didn't just sit down and dip her toes into sea water. She dipped freshly pedicured toe nails, smooth and shapely feet, attached to smooth and shapely legs, crowned with high-waisted denim shorts into water and quietly posed looking natural, but feeling like a photo in a magazine.

She was aware of the men’s approval. She caught the turn of their heads and lengthened glances out of the corner of her eye. Women looked too, but with envy. She’s so skinny and smooth, their looks said and she imagined they suddenly felt dumpy and unkempt. The men simply wanted to get those long legs of hers apart. Perfect, exactly the reaction she wanted. A surge of power hit her and settled into a steady flow, she basked in the glow generated by their desire to be her, to have her.

Some of the men thought they had a chance, like the one who owned the super luxury yacht. Other men, like the one bringing crates of alcohol onto the deck, knew they didn't. The owner of the boat had been eyeing her up since her travelling group had met up with him this morning at breakfast. He’d held the door for her when they had exited the restaurant and had placed his hands firmly on her waist as he’d passed her in the courtyard. She had to admit the young guy sweating with the crates had something. His muscles rippled under his brown, gleaming skin as he hoisted and carted those crates. And she enjoyed his less refined glances. Maybe she’d flirt with him later just for fun.

She skimmed the water with her toes and leaned back on her slim, toned arms. She tilted her head back because that is what a girl does while sitting by the water, it emphasises your slender neck and long, highlighted hair. A few of the local girls were shrieking and splashing water on one another, chasing and laughing. The water moulded their tops around their breasts, bras and no bras were revealed. She wondered what it would be like to get attention that way without meaning too and in a group. But the ladies on the yacht were her competition, the girls on the dock her inferiors. They’d be the types to get together with the crate boy later and he was looking their way each time he walked by.

She looked down at her feet. Small waves forced water up against her calves. Was the water contaminated she wondered and mentally cringed. She was freshly showered, softened, deodorised and scented. Sterile and sleek. At the salon the day before her flight she’d had a manicure as well as a pedicure, fake tan applied and the show girl body wax. Not just her legs and underarms waxed, but her forearms, fingers, eyebrows, and chin. Lower back, tummy, bum and toes. And her pubic hair narrowed down to a landing strip. At home, she shaved off dark hairs that grew around her nipples. She wasn't ashamed of waxing fingers, toes and back, because all the women she knew waxed there, she’d be ashamed not to, but the nipples. If the thought of those nasty hairs in unladylike places crossed her mind outside of her apartment, it was abruptly banished. Any notion of an undesirable genetic line was locked up in the tower. Feminine women didn't have hair on their nipples, she was sure the other ladies at the gym didn't, but who would ask or admit. The thought, cropping up now, disappeared behind iron bars as she swished and observed and posed. Her make-up came to mind. It was waterproof and had been carefully applied this morning and retouched, she wouldn't need to check on it until they boarded the boat.

The yacht owner was telling the crate boy off for leaving the supplies in the wrong place. They were both good looking, but only one had the assets. By now she’d found out about all about the houses and cars he owned and the success of his business, the influential people he knew. His name was Kenneth. Well, that makes me his Barbie, she thought and a bubble of laughter pushed up and tickled her lips. She struggled to suppress it, not wanting to look weird by laughing all alone. The Barbie image suited her sense of self, she was the gorgeous, glossy woman and he her perfect match. And they both excelled at the ultimate power of their gender. Allure and authority.

An old woman in a black dress and head scarf came into view. She was thickset and hunched over and made her way with a graceless gait. The shrieking girls fell quiet as she approached and spoke to them in a distinctly chastising manner. Barbie girl shuddered inwardly, Yuck, she thought. Could you imagine looking like that. Abruptly images of herself escaped and plopped solidly into her mind’s eye. Her, old, lined and saggy. Shapeless and withered. Or worse, as an old woman still grasping on to past glory, slipping down, clawing the unstable ground as those above looked down sneering. Come on give it up, we all know you’ve had numerous operations. Do you think he’d look at you? And then turning away bored as she fell to oblivion.

Blankly staring, her composure cracking, she barely noticed her surroundings, her admirers, or the girls, now subdued, walking away with their grandmother. Only adverse adjectives rapid firing into her brain got her attention. Useless, shunned, powerless, ignored. Useless, shunned, powerless, ignored. IGNORED. And she saw the hordes of young girls, younger than she was now, arising and arising and arising.

* * *
Lisa lives on the West Coast of Ireland with her East German husband, two teenage sons, two dogs, two cats, three chickens and a goat. But, she has not always lived in the countryside where, if more than three cars pass, she takes notice. Lisa grew up in Los Angeles, moved to London for four years and then spent another four years in Berlin. She has a certificate in Child Care, an Honors degree in Irish Heritage and a Masters in Advanced Language Skills German. She knows, for sure, that we must do what we love and what she loves is writing.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Poetry Prompt #42: Social Issues

Hello fellow writers and friends.  Sorry the post is a day late, had some issues with my internet service provider but hopefully am back in business now.

Anyway, for today I want to encourage you to write a poem about social issues.  I have provided for you a favorite song/poem by spoken word/indie artist icon Ani DiFranco.  She is, perhaps, one of my favorite musicians.  She writes the kind of music that is pleasing to the ear, but even more so refreshing/informing to the inquiring mind.  Many people have said that although they love her voice and the accompanying music, they listen to Ani for her words.  I can't say I disagree.

Listen to the song below and read the lyrics.



They were digging a new foundation in Manhattan
And they discovered a slave cemetary there
May their souls rest easy
Now that lynching is frowned upon
And we've moved on to the electric chair
And I wonder who's gonna be president, tweedle dum or tweedle dummer?
And who's gonna have the big blockbuster box office this summer?
How about we put up a wall between houses and the highway
And you can go your way, and I can go my may

Except all the radios agree with all the tvs
And all the magazines agree with all the radios
And I keep hearing that same damn song everywhere I go
Maybe I should put a bucket over my head
And a marshmallow in each ear
And stumble around for
Another dumb-numb waiting for another hit song to appear

People used to make records
As in a record of an event
The event of people playing music in a room
Now everything is cross-marketing
Its about sunglasses and shoes
Or guns and drugs
You choose
We got it rehashed
We got it half-assed
We're digging up all the graves
And we're spitting on the past
And you can choose between the colors
Of the lipstick on the whores
Cause we know the difference between
The font of 20% more
And the font of teriakiyi
You tell me
How does it... make you feel?

You tell me
What's ... real?
And they say that alcoholics are always alcoholics
Even when they're as dry as my lips for years 
Even when they're stranded on a small desert island
With no place within 2,000 miles to buy beer
And I wonder
Is he different?
Is he different?
Has he changed? what's he about?..
Or is he just a liar with nothing to lie about?

Am I headed for the same brick wall
Is there anything I can do about
Anything at all?
Except go back to that corner in Manhattan
And dig deeper, dig deeper this time
Down beneath the impossible pain of our history
Beneath unknown bones
Beneath the bedrock of the mystery
Beneath the sewage systems and the PATH train
Beneath the cobblestones and the water mains
Beneath the traffic of friendships and street deals
Beneath the screeching of kamikaze cab wheels
Beneath everything I can think of to think about
Beneath it all, beneath all get out
Beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel
There's a fire just waiting for fuel

There's a fire just waiting for fuel 
There's a fire just waiting for fuel 

Now that you have a great example, it's time to write your own poem about social issues.  Jot down a few notes first.  Personally, when writing a social issue poem I like to write about things that I either really, really disagree with or something that I truly support.  I feel that the more passionate you are about the topic(s) the better the outcome of the poem.

Some general ideas would include:   politics, war, the idiocy of most media outlets (I hate FOX news for their biased inaccuracy).  Poverty, inadequate education for rural areas, and bigotry are some other ideas to consider.  Read a few current issues news articles for more specific subject matter.

Make it a poem you can rant about.  Or simply to inform the reader of an issue.  

Whatever you write about, make sure it is something that means something to you.  Make sure it provokes some sort of emotional stimuli, rather negatively or positively.  

Most of all, learn something, teach something, and have fun honing the craft.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Poetry Prompt #41: What Makes You Anxious?

As an individual who has suffered from severe anxiety/panic attacks, my writing has always served a safe haven for which I could throw my fears into.

Anxiety can be debilitating.  Just as much so as disorders like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Bi-Polar Disorder (for which I've intermittently suffered both).

However, those of us who suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or just a problem with over-thinking, or nightmares of our fears, the haunting reverie of bad memories), fears and anxieties can drag us down by our ankles.  A perceived fear, the nuisance of a 'worry' can be just as frightening as the real thing.

As a psychologist, I know these things all too real.  From a personal perspective with clinical insight, I know how fear and anxiety controls, censors, keeps the colors of life from being as vibrant as what they really are.

So for today, I encourage you to write about what makes you anxious.  Write about the things you worry about, the things that haunt you.  Write about what keeps you awake at night while the rest of the world falls into the soft escape of slumber.  Write about the things that have covered your heart of scars.  Write about why it's okay to not always be so brave.  Think about something specific that's really hurting your heart or stealing your thunder....and write away.

I have included this lovely song by Maria Taylor.  It's titled Xanax.  I don't know how many people I have shared this song with and their immediate reaction was, "Oh, that is a song about drugs."  This couldn't be farther from the truth.

Some songs are meant to be listened to for the words, the music accompanying a mere atmospheric background to set the stage.  This is one such song.

This song is a beautiful recollection of one girl's anxieties.  Watch the video, read the lyrics.


By Maria Taylor

Afraid of an airplane
Of a car swerving in the lane
Of a dark cloud too low
Or being swept away by the undertow
Of a building tumbling down
Of the train when it's underground
Of the icy mountain roads
We have to take to get to the show

There's just a time when we must all let go the breath that we hold
There's just a time when we must all let go the breath that we hold
You know, the unknown we have to let go

Afraid when the phone rings
Another breath of life has ceased
It seems it's just lost so easily

Afraid my heart, it beats too slow
Or that I died and just didn't know
Or of a fate I will have to choose
And I'm afraid of how much I love you

There's just a time when we must all let go the breath that we hold
There's just a time when we must all let go the breath that we hold
You know, the unknown we have to let go

It's just now that I've found a place where I can breathe
It's just now that I've found a place where I can sleep
It's just now that I've found a place where I can breathe
It's just now that I've found a place where I can sleep
It's just now that I've found a place where I can breathe
It's just now that I've found a place where I can sleep
It's just now that I've found a place where I can breathe
It's just now that I've found a place where I can sleep

Now it's your turn.  Write your wiles away! I hope you find that writing about your anxieties helps to alleviate them at least a bit.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Poetry Prompt #40: Visual Poetry

Visual poetry is poetry or art in which the visual arrangement of text, images and symbols is important in conveying the intended effect of the work. Confusingly, it is sometimes referred to as concrete poetry, a term that predates visual poetry (Wikipedia).

When speaking in terms of visual poetry, the platform offers a wide variety of composition and assemblage to choose from.  Visual poetry can include anything from poetry for which words and text have been enhanced and typed across a photo (or a series of photos) or it can entail a collage of words and images that work together to portray a certain message.  Anything from geometric representation (poetry that constructs a shape) to video poetry falls into the category of visual poetry.

Consider the following examples:

This poem was created simply by adding text to a photo.

This simple text poem is constructed in such a way that the message seems to be telling us that love is messy, unorganized, sporadic.

This poem incorporates text symbols with an assemblage of images that all seem to relate to women, body image, and the role of women in society (at least that is my interpretation).

What I  appreciate most in my own exploration and practice of visual poetry is the freedom of form.  Visuals and ideas are so much easier expressed with pictures and shapes.  Visual poetry entails such a broad platform (concrete text to image only) that I find myself more freely describing and dabbling in subject matter that I might not otherwise feel comfortable doing with the basic free-verse poetry form.  You can look at one of my own examples of visual poetry here.

Here are some other sites with inspiring images and information on the process of visual poetry:

Women's Visual Poetry (so many amazing examples from a diverse group of women poets)

Try These Quick Visual Poetry Generators

A Downloadable Generator (it's totally safe, I have used this myself)

So, the challenge for this week is to create your own visual poem!  I'd love to see the end result if you feel like sharing.

Until next week, happy and bountiful writing to you all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

5 "Word Remix" Writing Prompts

Today I want to introduce you to a new type of writing prompt:  the word remix.  You can think of the word remix prompt as a more loosely-defined guided prompt.  The significant difference is found in the fact that word remixes appoint a direct subject matter that your piece must be written about (think of this as the theme, or the main idea/event that happens inside your piece of writing); afterward, you'll find a list of words that must ALL be incorporated throughout your piece of writing.  Those are the only two rules!

Use the five word remixes below to challenge your writing in a new way:

1.  Subject:  Vintage clothing
      Words to use:  admirable, festivity, fidelity, allotment, tranquility, alter, altruism, endearment, misfortune, immature

2.  Subject:  sexual liberality
      Words to use:  carnage, partial, placid, disparage, moral, unimportant, accrue, indifference, popularity, erotica

3.  Subject:  Invigorating love affair
       Words to use:  obstacle, formidable, assault, arrogance, suicide, laden, barrier, allied, conclusion, forevermore,

4.  Subject:  Some form of re-birthing
        Words to use:  duplicate, relapse, recreation, diminish, destruction, afterglow, boisterous, seduction, rampage, swindler

5.  Subject:  Reminiscing on your childhood
        Words to use:  intolerable, mischievous, terrifying, manly, godliness, familial, Friday, crisis, first-love, silly 

Remember, these kinds of prompts are volatile enough to practice with any form of writing:  poetry, journal, short fiction, short personal memoir, flash fiction, and much more.

If you enjoy Word Remixes, you may 
also enjoy my collection of creative writing prompts.