Saturday, July 29, 2017

Poetry Prompt #45: Back Porch Poetry

                             Image result for patio view

Don't worry, it's okay if you don't have a porch!  You can implement a patio, a balcony, even a set of steps (or a stoop) with an outside view.  Even a window will do.

This poem is a simple one.  You are going to write about what you see from the vantage point of your living quarters.  Considering where you live, the front of your outdoor living space/area may differ vastly from what you see in the back. Take my town home, for example.  The front allows me a view of a historical home across the street, the back gives way to a small two-lane road that leads into the fading distance of downtown.  I could write about either, or both.

You may have a view of the inner city, or primarily nature.  Whatever it is, concern yourself with the minute details of this environment for which you watch.  Because this poem is significant to your exact location, your poem should be a unique piece of writing as no one else see's exactly what you see from your window, porch, etc.

Choose a sitting spot for observation and take notes about all the things you see.  Write down any ideas, questions, little tidbits of info and visual details you can find in the atmosphere for which you gaze. Make some inferences on the things you see.  For example, if you see a man in a large black hat and an overcoat, perhaps you may question who he is and where he's going.

Observe for 15 minutes or so and complete a list of details.  Think in terms of all five senses as well as whatever cognitive associations you may make as you mentally digest the visuals.  Then, take that list and use it as inspiration for writing.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Poetry By Tina Hernandez


Freckles, glasses, tattoos, alcohol
Turned fragile in the dry humor
Of raw honesty and damning
Superficial judgments - mix to form
One of my oldest friends, a woman
That was a Rocky Horror dream 
When I lived in a floral oldies house. 
Hair dye I could run to 
When I turned the world upside down
For lust and fun and know
She’d shriek and ask exactly
The right questions.
There’s really only one person I can 
Don an evening gown for Denny’s
At 2 am with, whose parenting
Compliments still matter because
The respect comes when it counts.
Ten months can flash by like a slideshow reel,
Then there will be my text
About an outfit walking by at 
Just that moment, as a lead in
To describe the desperation of 
Insomnia, the private doubts
That creep in deep when sleep is 
So far down the list of wishes
That it just doesn’t matter at all.
There is Jess, to plan a New Orleans run
That we swear we’ll fill with firsts -
Her safe because I won’t let her die
And me wild because it’s just her and I.
I’m building a family one friend at a time that 
Outshines anything I was born with, 
And this chick will be a chosen sister
Willing to stand in the dirt and leaves with only a knowing, 
“Are you sure?” as I get married. Jess,
Able to be drug off to church camp
At 15, and turn it into fashion with egg carton
Masquerade masks for the “ball”
Scheduled in the gym.
Sarcasm says more, when tears fall
From laughing so hard.
Fluffy headed naked-eye confusion
On my couch as I changed diapers,
Jess would wait for me to be available.
Hushed voices in someone else’s house
We’d realize five hours had already went,
Spent in a skipping pattern of near interruption and
“I KNOW”, over and over, until even
Sprung from railroad tracks and coldhearted spinsters
As we were, the hugs would come and 
Whatever is next, I’m blessed that
This isn’t going anywhere.

I'm originally from Key West, and am an armchair botanist and a budding herbalist, with hundreds of plants inside and outside of my house. I'm in graduate school for social work, for a bunch of reasons, including to one day be a licensed psychotherapist. I'm also a mother of five kids - they're currently 9-16. That started with an unplanned teenage pregnancy and got off to a bumpy start. I spent a lot of my twenties blogging my way through breastfeeding, sling wearing, and cloth diapering adventures. I also have a book of short stories available on Amazon, titled Twenty Troubled Ladies, that a small publisher believed in. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review: 'Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction' by Carol Smallwood

Review by 
Lara Lillibridge


Carol Smallwood has published numerous titles of nonfiction and poetry—over five dozen according to this book’s About the Author page. Smallwood’s Women on Poetry: Tips on Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching is on Poets & Writers Magazine List of Best Books for Writers. She has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and won the National Federation of State Poetry Societies Award; Franklin-Christoph Poetry Contest Winner; Eric Hoffer Award for Prose; ByLine 1st Place for First Chapter of a Novel. Thirteenth Annual International Ultra-Short Competition Honorable Mention, 2016. (

Interweavings is a collection of 43 essays, organized under seven headings: Visits, The Feminine Side, A Sense of Place, A Backward Look, Things Literary, Strands, and Observations.

The majority of these essays are very short—only a few pages long. Working mostly in first person, Smallwood occasionally delves into the third person as well as she looks back and ruminates on life, libraries, and feminism, among other topics. Her love of books and the writing life is evident in nearly every essay. Fans of her poetry will love the ability to have what feels like a cup of tea with Smallwood—a glimpse into the many thoughts and observations she has on life. As I read the collection, I kept thinking about my mother, who came of age at about the same time as Smallwood, and wondered what discussions they would have if they sat down together.

The tone of the collection is conversational and includes many references to literary works Smallwood has loved. While at times I wished she would linger longer over some topics, the book circles and weaves down many paths and crosses back again, so topics began in one essay are revisited by the end of the book.

While many essays are rooted in place (libraries in particular) “The Avon Visit” is rooted in time, but fluidly nostalgic, as thirty years of Avon catalogs and products bend memory: “When I needed to remember what being in love was like, Honeysuckle brought a hint of the perpetual spring back” (28). I could relate to that transportation through scent—the body lotion my college roommate introduced me to, or my mother’s Jean Naté After Bath Splash.

“Karen’s Visit” was one of my favorite essays for the way it revealed the narrator. I am always struck when a writer reaches those feelings beyond cliché and manages to describe something true—not necessarily a large moment, but those feelings you can’t quite put into words. For example, Smallwood’s line, “Her voice had such sadness that I wanted to show her it was possible to have dreams…” (33).

However, “A Shakespeare Bust” spoke to me the most. I, too, have held onto catalogs, pined over objects for years, and understood Smallwood’s trepidation about the changing world we inhabit, where technology is granting us more access to information than we can ever hope to disseminate. I think my favorite line from the book was in this chapter: “In these days when people are living longer, holding several careers in a multicultural world, we need a bust of Shakespeare on our shelves more than ever” (122).

Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction
by Carol Smallwood
, Shanti Arts Publishing, 2017, $16.95 [paper] ISBN 9781941830468
162 pp.
Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction by Carol Smallwood

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Poetry Prompt #44: Go Read Your Atlas

There's such pregnant possibility in an unfolded road-map or atlas.

As a child I enjoyed folding and unfolding my father's old road-map.  Just reading all the interesting names of towns and roadways sent my imagination down it's own super-highway.  For today, I'd like you to investigate your own map or atlas for a creative spark.

You can even do random searches on the Google Earth map, or do your own internet search for atlases/maps from areas all over the world.  Simply read the names of towns and highways, write down the ones that seem interesting or far-fetched (especially as names for towns).   Then brainstorm for some creative writing.

If you don't have a map for reference, here is a list of unique towns.  Use one as your title and write  a poem, or try to integrate the complete word list into one piece of writing.  Or...just let a particular word take you where it will.

There's no wrong way to be inspired!

Word List of Unique Names of Towns:
Sandy Creek
Snow Camp
Silk Hope
Haw River
Oak Ridge
Clench Mountain
Echo Cliffs
Queen Elizabeth Avenue
Dare County

Friday, July 21, 2017

Three Poems by K.J. Hannah Greenberg

No Need for Chassis

Initially, little was said about the oceanic, rubicund maids, who invested time
In fartlek and gymnastics, no matter the vexatious character of such goings on;
Amidst Potemkin villagers, pulchritudinous others get regularly discounted.

Worldviews changed after Prince Fin swam into the settlement. Rustics, also
Certain “civilized” cousins, i.e. specious, profligate louts, i.e. people of protest,
Weren’t satisfied showcasing him in emerging headlines, photos, video links.

Rather, several times daily, they featured “the invader” as an “item of importance,”
Gave him full consideration for employing reasoning to classifying: parish strengths,
Means for functioning effectively with coworkers, and barters over fungible cargos.

Actually, the foreigner had no idea that local drones interacted when consulting texts,
That gurus fat on regular ignorance, high on frangipani fragrance, sodden by ferment,
Comprehended enough data about dollars/euros/yen, to brashly chide civic industries.

After all, merfolk keep a very low profile, having realized that epistemic semiotics
Slay personal moments, plus that radical orisons, expressly social architecture, fail.
They merely revealed that fish gladly use their free periods to splash inbuilt patterns.

Consequently, popular articulation, in the underwater electoral arena, fossicked
The moral turpitudes of the imported fella (relative to select modern records).
He oughtn’t to have discredited sea anemone, belly dancing, or basket weaving.

Verbiage escaped from his formidable advisors spilled facts on local broadcasting,
Illuminated marine worldbuilding, highlighted effortless defilements by his citizens
(Few of his aquatic fans learned the skills needed to be zamindars or merchants.)

Subsequently, the raider grew anxious when witnessing indigenous, aphotic acts.
His intelligence couldn’t shade most corazón patterns or imprint new online platforms.
Even interdisciplinary approaches to deep sea fishing couldn’t cull enough changes.

Rather than anchor to windward, the aggressor whirled away, leaving behind sensory
Acuity, moissanite smiles, critical thinking circuses, and proprioception colloquiums.
That stupid, rich other never provided dinkum replies to many old gill-bearers’gripes.

Belonging to a Certain Bovine Manager

In belonging to a certain bovine manager,
Select amounts of housing queries
Demanded our denuded fears, laughed,
Allowed no cenacles at designated agoras,

Even after a passing fashion,
Those “vegetarian meatballs”
Permitted no facet of family life,
Not even mismatched mittens.

The last of those older folks bothered
Latching to no permanent job security;
The demise of their horse whisperer
Issued rainbow, unpublished diatribes.

Still, we ought not, never, not even once,
Neglect matters of character, commerce, sex.
Whereas, currently, such items play as daft,
We to use them to attract students, pay rent.

A life devoted to the care of flexible muskrats
Brings, usually, feelings enthroned on a seat,
Half love at half-mast; full love, infrequently,
Occasional piano concertos in the key of C major.

Remembering to pick up random socks, after all,
Proves most studios or classrooms, by discipline,
Full of volunteers to stretch out on bedroom carpets;
Formerly, time shares used to be plentiful, sufficed.

Dogs were pets when men were universally dependable.
Few viciously hilarious cases surfaced psychologically.
Enough folks survived romantic ordeals to couple.
As well, grownups swam in amusement park lakes.

The Local Toadstool Malt Shop Revisited

Cobwebs confounded Elias’ attempts to mix
Linden leaves, under pressure, with ginger ale.
Hortance, warts, slime, bulging eyes, coughed.
(Gotham dude slurped down flies while waiting.)
Finally, music announces Reginald’s arrival.

On gossamer wings, borrowed permanently,
Attached with wire so fine as to be dangerous,
A pimpled gnome floats in from the canopy,
Bows to budgies, finches, sparrows, shares
Brooklyn Elvyn Symphony’s third disc.

Not just music blasts from his body pack; he oozes.
Tamsina shrugs. Wormwood’s amber arsenic drop,
Also a lidocaine ribbon makes that pretty girl’s mix.
Mostly, the she-dwarf, all betrothal petticoat curtsies,
Waits until Sylvester pushes aside the gateway ferns.

She dreams on sipping like folk half as wide, twice dainty.
The war between King Filigree and The Duke of Arteries
Culls more than horses and men; it magics small people,
Transporting them to where gusts expand rulers’ heads,
Where saltpeter bursts viscera of many valiant soldiers.

Young ogre gents, fairies, perhaps harpies, as well,
Fail to return from those far swords and conjuring.
No rose petal brew, no vials poofed by arachnids,
Can counterbalance cold steel’s somnolent power.
Words, hearts, ardor, too, are helpless to avert loss.

Comely Sylvester knew violent rhymed glamours,
Heaved cudgels too great for most bald-pated men,
But harvested no merriment, no early fastening,
Only lingered watching Alexis drink bitter draughts
To regurgitate them hours later in puddle s of sorrow.

Valentines clandestinely pour staunch nothing.
Limitedly, at best, they cushion her prescience.
Elsewhere, honies bleed the field, are trampled,
Skewered. So, she raises her glass to plutocracy
Somehow, staying herself from anzid’s oath.

Opting amnesia beneath fennel and toadstool,
Forgetting blake, scying, battle, love, death.
Tossing gilded bits, ordering further freezes,
Attempting no purchase of new comrades, not

Dreading dangling blood-crusted vestments.

KJ Hannah Greenberg is the author of more than a dozen books. Her writing has received National Endowment for the Humanities funding and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Million Writers Award, and The Best of the Net. Hannah's newest books are: The Immediacy of Emotional Kerfuffles, 2nd ed. (Bards and Sages Publishing, 2015), and Dancing with Hedgehogs, (Fowlpox Press, 2014). Hannah lives and creates in Jerusalem.