Tuesday, September 27, 2016

First debate between Hillary and Trump - Poem: Prayer for Saint Birgitta

Image result for hillary vs trumpShe likes Red and He wears an American flag pin.

If this were a boxing match, she punched him down so many times that he was punch-drunk at the end. His famous arrogance and confidence vanquished.

Began the day by waking up at 8:15, thinking a moment, and then screeching, OMG I've gotta be at the nursing home at 10:30.

I looked up activities for my group of maybe 10 individuals. I'd watched a YouTube video of elders competing over games.

Yes, I thought. We'll play games. I wrote out questions before I left. Then turned on my audio book Call the Midwife. Let's - all 9 of us - take at look at what The World Book - or Encyclopedia Brittanica - or
Diderot's Encyclopedia - says about Call the Midwife.

Call the midwife book cover.jpg  
I submitted to lit journals for hours and hours, sitting on my bun, listening to music to drown out sounds, as I composed, rewrote, and submitted, heart in mouth.

I wrote five short ficcione for Matchbook magazine. Walter - Darlene Come Back - The Duster - Cold - and Soulmates.

Submitted six newly composed poems to "Ink, Sweat and Tears" from London.

"Messages" is the theme. Can only remember a couple of poem names - one is about the train ride to Dachau, another about Dad dying of cancer.

You trim all the fat off the meat.

Will I ever fall asleep, that is the question. When I go downstairs, I hold the banister with both arms - please! not barrister! - banister - and I look straight ahead out the window.

Hey, the streets were shiny.


Gotta hop aboard the arc before it leaves. Just call me Jeanne.

You know what? I made up the name Saint Birgitta.


Holy Saint Bergitta,
Please protect me as I drive to work
Protect me from the idiots who, leaning
on their horns, scare the bejeezus
out of me.

Protect me from the morons
who ride my bumper as if they want to
come inside and make love to me.

Protect me from the audio book I
listen to - Call the Midwife -
to make sure I don't have a
breech pregnancy and drive
into a ditch.

Protect me from my job at
the nursing home. They are
old, with dementia, still
lovable, but for Chrissakes,
they're all gonna die. 


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Neighbor Pete and his Merry Men Tackle the Jungle of my Backyard - Poem: Taming my Overgrown Back Yard

Photos I took and put on FB.... and of course I wrote a poem, which I posted on FB

 Hello, my name is Luka, and his dad is Leo.
 Pete Lytle, who lives a couple doors down.
Luka's dad Leo. They live in Hatboro. Thother guy lives in Elkins Park.

 Hello Jeff! He came in a beautiful red car, a Toyota Versa, I believe.

 Four bags full for takeaway tomro, Monday.
They came for me!

I had a pitcher of cold water for them on the deck.

 You are terrific people, I said. One of Pete's friends is saving money to adopt a child from Africa so I wrote him a check for that.
Antique artifact.

The late Bill Sanders would occasionally cut my grass. Here's his unopened Busch Beer, caked in mud. Very nice man, thoughtful, considerate, could not stop drinking.


dedicated to Pete Lytle and The Gilgal Group

My backyard had turned
into a jungle. All it
lacked was Tarzan and
Jane and monkeys swinging
from the vines.

I sip on peppermint tea
as I hear the impossibly
beautiful songs in my
yard - buzz saws, hedge clippers
electric blowers

And men talk flowing all
around. Once they were
boys, making forts
and treehouses, looking
at the night sky,

counting the stars
and wondering, "Is there
a God?"

I hear snippets of
conversation - Pete's
quick laugh - "Glad
I could come, nothing
better to do on a Sunday" -

"Coming, Luka?" or a
black-haired man who's
gonna start a newchurch
in Norristown,
tools stolen from
the back of his truck.

The luck of the Irish -
or the Jews, was with me
when Neighbor Pete,
who has the energy
of the sun inside him,
volunteered to enlist his
buddies to get the job

It's like living in a park!
Wanna take a stroll with me?
C'mon over and knock on the door.
I'll have lemonade and cookies
waiting on the deck.

Writers Group meets at B's - Ruth, Donna, Marf, Linda and Beatriz - My poem: Movement in Seven Parts

Old photo of Donna's nails. She does em herself.

Am gonna put the text in here and then run downstairs to put in the new photos.

Hold on! Found this short video by writer Ian McEwan on love in writing fiction

Linda and I are always late as we complete our selection for the week.

Linda wrote a terrific poem for her nephew Graham called MY REASON FOR RUNNING. Good lines include "freshly washed sunlight... unrelenting grey rain... blinding light shock of rain."

He'll love it, we assured her. His mom does not appreciate Linda's poetry prowess. She also wrote two autumn poems, one about a Bonfire.

We're a little coterie of writers. We stay in our own world. My family is not interested in my work, with the exception of my sister Lynn, who is one of my "readers."

I also took a sultry photo of Donna

Beatriz wrote one of her essays on a pollinator we'd never heard of.
Image result for crab spider      The crab spider. She showed us many pix of this crafty fellow who camouflages himself like any good soldier would and then springs for his prey. His appetite is rapacious - what mean dat? - and he likes worms, which he divides up in segments, saving them for his little ones.

Donna's new poem BLACK MOON was brutally honest about her family members. Bc she has bipolar disorder, she will not be allowed to hold the new baby.

Cruel and misinformed.

She was just published in Twisted Sister. Look, you can read all her poems here, including Black Moon.

BRUSH WITH HEAVEN was Martha's piece about a close call with death. Dyou believe she had heart failure? Based on a kidney infection that affected her heart.

The Abington hospital docs and nurses were wonderful. And of course her late parents made an appearance. Dad told her Don't give these good people a hard time, while Mom said, It's not your time.

She also brought in a poem. 

  All booted up, I was the first to arrive. Brought Triscuits and Gouda cheese as a snack. B provided banana chips. The word chip referring to the possibility of it chipping your tooth OR continuing with a chip on your shoulder.

The idea for my new short story came while I was in the kitchen preparing my omelet and listening to TIS by the late Frank McCourt.

I would write about life in a nursing home, do it in several parts, before our hero Sean McNally goes to an assisted living home.

The words poured out of me nonstop. So far, it's only two pages. Part One and Part Two. People liked it, tho I haven't reviewed their comments which is important to do.

I'm reading the columns of one Colson Whitehead, author of the new book Underground Railroad. The writing in his columns is divine, but basically a waste of time. You don't learn anything, but he'll give you a good laff and upon occasion you'll learning, such as Get to the point, don't use five words, when one word will do.

Read him here.

 Image result for Colson Whitehead  Colson, I'm listening to Call the Midwife in the car. When I'm finished, your book is next. It's resting comfortably in a little pouch.

The night before our meeting, I was watching the Japanese News called NHK. Some news item showed a man bounding down the stairs. How gracefully he danced down.

Gotta write a poem about dat, I thinks. So for the writers group I wrote six movement poems, but then on the radio last night I heard something about swimming naked in the a lake in Breton. Wow, what a good topic I thought, so this morning I wrote my seventh movement poem.

Lemme know what you think. Now, I'll run downstairs, boot on but feeling better bc I put long pants over it, so it feels more normalized.



Adam, oh, we all like Adam
sits a’chair staring at computer screen
waiting to be interrupted
straightbacked and stiff,
as if there’s back trouble,
it’s only from being in the orchestra pit
of the librarian’s chair. 
“Whazzup?” he asks, a quick
smile lighting up his cheeks
like an apple best eaten slowly.



A far-off lens portrays a man
running down the stairs, outdoor
stairs in southern California, arms
swinging at his sides, as if he has
practiced for years, each leg bending
at the knee and thigh and ankle,
going faster, faster, faster, and
I shout Instant Replay but the
screen has turned black.


A southern belle, forced by her owner
to bloom up here, she caught a cold,
and stood lifeless in the front yard.

She twisted her infected branches and
looked up at the sky. Are ya done with
me? she asked. I've lived here five years
dancing in place to the Nutcracker Suite.

Cold showers from the hose bathed her
withered limbs, like Whitman did
the dying. More cold showers up
and down her once famously beautiful
body, the ballerina.

She was tough, she was resilient, she
refused to die. Her beauty's returned
the Belle of Cowbell Road.



How can anyone stand so straight?
How can anyone have hair like that?
White, all white, with a tiny ponytail
peacock-proud to ornament
the man in line.

Tall, he bent toward the aproned
barista. I’ll have Decaf, he
said. Here was a man who would
sleep well at night.

I’ll make a fresh cup, said she.
And I heard all, my head turning
as I waited for my pumpkin spice
latte, which I could barely pronounce.

Later, at table, I sat at a distance
my curiosity aroused like a calico
cat sniffing round the cake plate

Whatever was he reading, as his
white head dipped deep into the
paperback book. A man who
would rouse the stars to dream about.



The line wasn’t long.
I forgot that I don’t have
to be busy every minute
so I stopped reading
the book I would buy.

Real life is more important
than any history book you’ll
buy for your son’s fortieth.

A woman with gleaming white
hair, the color of the noonday
sun, was leaning over, laughing.

Good thing I have insomnia,
she said. There’s a million
cable channels and nothing is….

Yeah yeah. As I read in bed
last night, All the Light You Cannot
See, the Gloaming White was
somewhere in the area, reading
herself to sleep, as Dr Amen, Patrick
Stoner, and Patti Paige sang me
to sleep.



Spider skittered around the
slippery porcelain sink with
its bits of spinach and peanuts
the journey of his life, trying
to get free before more cold
water came pouring down
the spout.

A shroud covered his head,
with quivering posterior
he injected his venom to
no avail, and was thrown
down a high place, tumbling
tumbling, eight legs
a-tremble, no web to
carry him down.




She and he were seen from
the window swimming. The still
moon lit up each naked body.
Look at that slim white arm
curling from the water, up,
then splash, slender as a
ribbon. He was nearby, the
hair on his arms flattened down
like fleece, bubbles spitting
from his mouth. The watcher
goes back to bed, listening
to their splashes – they sound
like celebratory ducks – as
He and She embrace like
majesties, then head for the
locker room on shore.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Visit with the Demings - all 7 of them - Literary Yard publishes me - Mother would have liked you - and The Lottery Ticket

All booted up. Will tackle today's Writers Group later. I am bushed!

 A program where you can build anything called Minecraft.  Zowie!!!
Grace is building a railroad track for Max, who is so tired he's lying in his mama's arms. Grace and Nicole had a big day. Took the train downtown to the Walnut Street Theater where they saw a live play, Beauty and the Beast.

It was good, said Grace, but it wasn't my favorite. They strolled around Rittenhouse Park and enjoyed the downtown area, since they are both city girls.
Nicole is liking her substitute work with autistic and other challenged kids.

 Where's my iPad, Max asked rather frantically after dinner. Figures! It was in the living room on his train set.

Blank has huge green eyes. Old age has made him deaf. There was loudness in the family room and I thot Blank had heard it. But no. It was the vibration he heard.

 Max asked, Bubby how old are you.

I thought a moment, wondering if I should hold up a show of fingers.

70, I said.

And how old is Scott, he asked.

57, I said.

Why was this deep young boy interested in ages.

As a kid, I was fascinated with ages. Great minds think alike.

 Max was lying there and Nicole's feet were sticking out, so I massaged her feet and pretended they were Max's. I thought it was hilarious.

For dinner we had pizza and delicious BBQ chicken thighs and legs. The kids got the sauce EVERYWHERE.
 Who's this? Oh it's Half Cat Half Woman.
Dan got his first pair of Crocs. Good for the feet bc the toes are spread out. No cutting off the toes to make your feet fit, like in Perrault's Cinderella.

Image result for perrault cinderella   Quest-ce-cest?

 On the way home, a train came. Look at the pretty No Turn sign,

And then.... an ambulance sirened by. Max was reading me his Rescue Vehicle Book.

When I first arrived, I heard his barefeet padding to the door, with a new green backload in his hand with huge wheels.

Usually Onkar S publishes my work rather quickly. I began to panic when The Lottery Ticket wasn't published within two weeks.

I wrote to make sure he received my work. Finally he wrote back today, apologizing for all the work he had as he has an outside job. He lives in New Delhi and travels extensively.

Me? I travel to and from The Giant Supermarket and my Writing Group.

Click here to read The Lottery Ticket, which I think is rather unusual. I'd forgotten I named the main character Shana.

And my poem Mother Would Have Liked You.

It's about a former client of mine, who I call Evelyn, the toughest woman ever to get along with.

On PBS there's a show about oldies. Here's a couple pix I took.

 The great Debbie Reynolds sings TAMMY. Today, she's 84, born in 1932. View her auction here in 2014. Here's her bio.
Dorothy, Phyllis and Christine McGuire. When I was a kid I loved them and also their names. 
The Dairy Queen is open until 10 30.  I got up and got ready to leave.

What am I doing? I asked. I'm so tired I'm gonna collapse.

Give it up for Tommy Edwards and It's All in the Game. Hmm, he's dead, so I guess someone else is singing this.

Remember the song Lollipop by the Chordettes. Let's find it on YouTube.

Here they are, ladies and gentlemen!!!

I remember lying in bed and listening to my transistor radio. My heart would soar when I'd hear the Four Preps sing Twenty-Six Miles... 40 kilometers in a leaky old boat... Santa Catalina waits for me

And I would dream about this Santa Catalina... how beautiful it was. Listen here

One of the Preps is also in the band THE DIAMONDS of Little Darling fame.

 Pat Boone speaks to one of The Diamonds. Pat had just gotten out of that hot tub he advertises and looks really good. Let's take a peak at his life now,  a Christian. Oh, dear, he's a right-wing nut.  Born in 1932, 83 yrs old.
The Diamonds.

Gonna eat some watermelon now. Will post one of the songsters on FB. Maybe.

Friday, September 23, 2016

What's new in the world of Mental Health

Lots of things are going on, so pick and choose what you wanna read.

Will intersperse with a little levity and photos.

Image result for albert camus  Albert Camus, French-Algerian author, who wrote in the tradition of absurdism, said "Without Work, All Life Goes Rotten."

Here from Abington Patch, is a list of jobs.

My friend CC sent me two articles from Oprah magazine about the mentally ill.

I found these stories really interesting.

Rev. Donna Allen, PhD, a survivor of PTSD and sexual abuse, says it does no good to pray to get healed. You gotta have help to fix yourself.

The Gould Farm in Massachusetts is a safe place where folks with very severe mental health issues may live.  Also in Oprah mag, read about it here.

Image result for gould farm

Thanks, I needed that!

Mary Ann Copeland has regular retreats from her home in Vermont.

Read about her latest program.

Now we're gonna hear selected articles from Susan Rogers and Fran Hazam from their Key Update of the  Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

HHS Issues Game-Changing Rules That Promise Increased Research Transparency
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has taken a step toward creating more transparency in clinical research, NPR has reported. Sharing the article on Twitter, prominent psychiatrist @AllenFrancesMD, author of Saving Normal, wrote,

"Wonderful new rules force much more honest reporting of clinical research so that negative results don't get buried." According to NPR, "Since 2007, scientists have been required to post results of experiments on a government website, https://clinicaltrials.gov/.

But many top universities and drug companies have failed to meet those standards, according to academic studies and investigative journalists." The new rules take effect in January 2017; researchers will have 90 days to comply. For the NPR article, click here

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Read SAMHSA's Suicide Prevention notes here

Report on Smart Solutions to Our Growing Female Prison Population Is Available
The Oregon Justice Resource Center has issued An Alternative to Women's Prison Expansion in Oregon: Presenting Smart Solutions to Our Growing Female Prison Population and Identifying Who Has the Power to Reduce It. 

 "The relentless growth in Oregon's women's prison population over the last 40 years shows why Oregonians can no longer hope to incarcerate their way out of problems such as trauma, addiction, mental illness, homelessness and poverty," the report notes.

Three of its suggested six "fixes" are "Expanding eligibility and use of the family sentencing alternative pilot program," "Streamlining the clemency process," and "Early release for terminally/severely ill, permanently incapacitated or elderly prisoners." For the other solutions and the rest of the document, click here.

New Resources, Including a Webinar, Are Available from the TU Collaborative on Community Inclusion
The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion has published three new guides: Addressing Sexuality and Intimacy Interests of Persons with Mental Health Conditions: Recommendations for Program Administrators (for more information and to download, click here)

Adding Recreation to Your Coping Toolbox: An 8-Week Protocol (to download, click here), and Peer Facilitated Community Inclusion Toolkit (click here). In addition, the TU Collaborative will sponsor a one-hour webinar, Supporting College Students with Psychiatric Disabilities, on October 11 at noon ET. For more information and to register, click here.

Scientific American Reports on How the FDA Manipulates the Media
A recent report in Scientific American notes that the "U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has been arm-twisting journalists into relinquishing their reportorial independence."

"[T]he FDA assures the public that it is committed to transparency," the article continues, "but the documents show that, privately, the agency denies many reporters access-including ones from major outlets such as Fox News-and even deceives them with half-truths to handicap them in their pursuit of a story.

At the same time, the FDA cultivates a coterie of journalists whom it keeps in line with threats." For the story, click here.

An Opera Based on the Life of Elyn Saks Can Be Viewed for Free Online
An opera about Elyn Saks, the MacArthur Award-winning law professor whose memoir chronicled her recovery from a diagnosis of schizophrenia, is available for free viewing on the Mental Health America website.

Saks co-wrote the libretto for "The Center Cannot Hold" with composer/psychiatrist Kenneth B. Wells. "I am delighted and just a little overwhelmed to have Ken make an opera out of my story," Saks told MHA. "I feel as if Ken has captured my experience and my voice." To view the opera, click here and scroll down to "View the Full Opera."

Y A W N  !!!!!

Snack Break.

Peanuts and Raisins. 


 Rally to Close Rikers Island Tomorrow, September 24, in NYC
Tomorrow, September 24, at 1 p.m., people will gather at a march and rally with the goal of shutting down Rikers Island, an infamous correctional facility in New York City.

As The New York Times has editorialized, "The sensible thing to do with Rikers is to close it." Just Leadership USA, which is organizing the event, is helmed by Glenn E. Martin, who served time on Rikers as well as several years in a state prison and has become a nationally known advocate for criminal justice reform. In a long interview published by The Atlantic, Martin said, "It seems like such an abomination for us to have this facility continue to operate." For the revised details about the event, click here.
And finally a word from State Senator Stewart Greenleaf about Legal Aid 

Numerous people in our group need expensive legal help, so why not try Legal Aid if you qualify. 

When my former husband and I divorced many yrs ago - he lived in Texas - and I lived here - I used Legal Aid as my counselor. Is that the correct term, Ron?

Civil Legal Aid

For those who cannot afford legal representation, there is a state-wide network in place to provide legal aid to resolve critical civil matters such as child custody, illegal evictions by a landlord, or home foreclosure. Today, only about half of the 2 million Pennsylvanians who qualify for legal aid get the help they need. Funding for legal aid has fallen sharply in recent years, even as poverty has increased. As of 2014, out of the state’s 12.8 million residents, 1.8 million were living in poverty, up from 1.6 million in 2012.

With the legal system far too complex for a lay person to navigate, many are left without recourse for wrongs done to them or when they have been denied basic needs. When an individual comes to court without representation, the process can be very long and burdensome to both the plaintiff and the court system.

In 2007, the Pennsylvania Bar Association passed a resolution stating that the Commonwealth should provide legal counsel as a matter of right to low income persons where basic human needs are at stake. They pointed to research that has shown that for every dollar spent on legal aid, there is more than a 10 fold savings in costs of shelter and basic needs.


This note was so much easier to write on my blog than on the cumbersome email marketing tool I use.

Have a great Friday night and weekend!

Ruth Z Deming, MGPGP, Founder/Director
New Directions Support Group since 1986
Donations available on our above website!