Saturday, January 3, 2015

Coffeeshop Writers' Group - Poems: The First Book and Father Ten Years After

I'll tell ya. I feel like I've been cooped up in my house like a hermit. Couldn't wait to go to the Writers' Group in this inclement - but not snowy weather.

First, a shout-out to my friend Roberto! Helllooo Rob! 

As usual, I got up early, read the NY Times online, made my garlic egg breakfast while Anderson Cooper was reading his memoir on an audio book - way too fast, Anderson - and of course I dunno how to backspace.

I did finish Charles Martin's

which had some GREAT SURPRISES in it.

Here's Anderson and his mum, Gloria Vanderbilt. His father Wyatt Cooper died at age 50 during open heart surgery. It was the first of many losses for the sensitive child who is Anderson.

So at 7 am I was lying on this here red couch listening to a short story - it was only 17 minutes long - and fell asleep quickly and awoke when the author was explaining the meaning to us.

Got a phone call yesterday from Marshall Axt, who had called me earlier to say that his wife Susan Axt had died of melanoma. It went to her brain, where she had several tumors, which produced a stroke.

NWS obit Axt Susan and I hadn't been in touch in about 10 years. When we knew each other, she was always ailing. When I painted my outer door red - it was an unattractive brown from when the Travis's lived here

 we talked on the phone the whole time. She had been living in Staten Island for years. Marshall said Susan's mother came up from Florida and stayed awhile as her daughter lay dying. Totally bedridden and helpless. (Cancer also did that to my dad. Read poem later on.)

Marshall called me from the Staten Island Ferry. I never knew this, but Marshall is an actor. 

Last nite I came up with two poems that were on my "To Write" List. Didn't have time to revise them this a.m. as I was running late, as always.

At six pm, I've gotta desert this blog b/c it's

Pizza night!

When I got home from the Writers' Group I was starving, naturally, and began to munch on a new container of cashews.

The container cost nearly $8, so yours truly sat here and ate $4 worth of cashews. Click for benefits.

To me that seems as expensive as noshing on Cavier and Dom Perignon.

Took me about two days to finish the first draft of my short story "Woolen Stockings." The writers liked it pretty much.

Scott emailed me, "Great story! Is that your fantasy?"

In the story an unhappy woman, who just discovers she's been married to a gay man for 19 years, watches a documentary about The Amish and decides to drive her

BMW grey sedan to Amish country and join the community.

Scott and I agreed that we each have fantasies of giving it all up here, in Willow Grove, PA, and starting all over somewhere.

During the group, I couldn't believe my eyes. Look who was shopping at the Giant....

 My grandson Max lost no time climbing up the handicap vehicle. He's a fast one. Nicole and Grace were also there.

 My mother/law gave me these warm fuzzy booties for my b'day. I sleep in my sox, so I don't need em. As always, I stuck my 'giveaways' into a bag to bring to the writers.

Kym said she had just "asked the universe" for warm fuzzy socks. She insisted on giving me a hug. I was hesitant b/c the space between the two of us was a veritable mine field of disasters I could fall into. 
Kym read a gorgeous and passionate poem - Letter to Cancer - excoriating her cancer diagnosis - so many great lines - and ending with

The chemo is starting again
in less than 48 hours and
I'm coming for you.

Everyone in the group was visibly impressed.

Floyd's gift was four Yuengling bottles of beer left over from Scott's party. I will continue bringing em in until there's no more left.

Floyd had emailed us an amusing short story 

                                                                She Said, She Said
                                                            By Floyd B. Johnson                                  

            Two pluperfect, perfect women sit facing each other in the middle of the large conference room in the law offices of Torgunson, Shaw and Jackawakawitz.

He has a knack for humor, satire and choosing of good character names.

Floyd detests lawyers and that's what this story is about. Ever been divorced without attorneys and the exorbitant fees they charge?

Floyd has. Twice.

Beatriz, also fighting the cancer demon and starting chemo next Tuesday, brought us another wonderful pollinator story. "Ancient Blooms, Ancient Pollinators" had many surprises. During the days of the dinosaurs, bees n wasps and the usual pollinators had not yet evolved.

Magnolias and water lilies are among the oldest flowering plants. Insects, the first pollinators, still make these flowers bloom.


Carly reads "The Conversation" while we all scribble notes.

Karen and Beth are lifelong friends. Since grade school.

They converse over the phone, even though Beth stays put in Willow Grove and Karen is all over the western hemisphere. She lives in southern California, in Hawaii, and Albion, Michigan.

Below is a movie theater in Albion. Still there, Bohm?

The story is mostly in dialog, but our Floyd discovered that there's a 5-page gap where narrative takes over.

That man is goooood! Enjoy your beer, Floyd, and don't get a big gut.

The hardest thing, I said, is to know where dialog ends and narrative begins. My story Woolen Stockings faced that same problem.

Beth and Karen converse via phone, and occasionally face to face, during the vicissitudes that take place in their lives. Karen divorces Ronny b/c he's a womanizer. Beth stays married to her one and only.

Since the story is mostly true, Floyd wondered why Carly didn't use real names.

To protect confidentiality.

 Here's a scene from my story Woolen Stockings, where an unhappy woman flees to Lancaster County to convert to Amish.

My story was filled with descriptions of Laura's beautiful condo. To tell the truth, I don't know why I was obsessed with so much detail, but it seemed important at the time.

I think I'll keep most of it in. Shall I, Marcy?

Marce is one of my great readers. She lives in southern California, which is where our Carly is from.

My poem The First Book is about

  Joe Pike is the hero in this police procedural novel.

The second poem is about my dad.

Damn! I mailed it from my upstairs computer to my downstairs laptop, but it ain't there.

Gotta type the whole damn thing in now cuz it's easier than going back upstairs. Actually I've changed it and made it shorter and possibly better.

Wait a minute! The original poem just landed in my inbox. Will print it below. Any preference?  Thanks to Floyd for the last line of poem two.


The day I turned sixty-nine
I took it in stride, though my
sister Donna mourned
her sixty-fifth.
Mom told me the only
birthday that made her feel
old was her eightieth.
At ninety-two, she doesn't
remember that anymore.

Dad, you left us at fifty-nine
disappeared as if ejected into
the clouds, without Canaveral.
I remember standing with you
in your bedroom. We looked at
each other in the mirror
your nose impossibly bent.

Another time on the back porch
I dared to ask you "Do you feel
old?" "Is your mind good?"
"Good as ever," you said with a
rare thin-lipped smile.

A year later you were dead.


The day I turned sixty-nine
I took it in stride, though my
sister Donna mourned at her
Mom told me the only birthday where
she felt old
was her eightieth.

Dad, you left us at fifty-nine.
Disappeared as if ejected into
the clouds, without Canaveral.
I remember standing with you
in your bedroom. We looked at
one another in the mirror, your
nose impossibly crooked.

Another time on the back porch
I dared to ask you “Do you feel
old?” “Is your mind good?”
“Good as ever,” you said with a
rare thin-lipped smile.

You never saw me manic, Dad.
But when I’d get manic I’d look
in the blue mirror at the apartments
and stare at my face. There you were!
“Dad,” I said. “You would not believe
this shit.”

Unconditional love is what you offered
your children. You’d love us still
as we convene right now around the
kitchen table. Mom serves the sweet
and sour meatballs with tiny chunks of
pineapples, and I put a white bib around
Sarah’s and pat my belly where
Dan lives inside. You will drive me to
the hospital, just as we drove to the
very same hospital six years later.
In the Atrium, where the sunset spread
across the sky as if we were in the land of
Jerusalem, you said you would fight this
and win.
You have. 

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