Tag Archives: Poetry

“To Go From Here” by Michelle Holland

Our little lives extinguish themselves
like lit matches – ephemeral brilliance –
then darkness that can’t be helped.

The match is not meant to burn long,
just a moment in order to ignite
something else – a camp fire,
a cigarette, to sterilize a needle
before the splinter is removed.

We flame up, create our colors,
burn briefly, with just enough time,
maybe to start something.
Another life, a movement, a poem,
a garden, a body of work,
a connection with a network
of family, friends, our momentary mark.

Before Jim died, an arbitrary sequence of events,
his son, our daughter, the threat of fire –
led to their family evacuating
to our big, rambling adobe home,
created a chance to connect,
to get to know his silent ways,
his wry grin, his shaggy, black dog.

Just a guy and his family,
a daughter, young and moody,
whose tears brought him to her borrowed room,
where she let him know she wanted
no part of our hospitality, just wanted
to go home. He listened,
and later she groomed our big, friendly horse.

Her father is dead now; only a couple of days ago
he was alive. Suddenly, his match lost its fire,
whatever he was able to touch with his light
done. A son who wants to fly,
the last ignition of a father who made the connection
real. The fire will continue,
in ways no one knows.

Fathers die. Fathers die unexpectedly,
commonly, on the floor sprawled, unaccountably breathless.
The match was lit, and sputtered to its ashen end,
but everyone else he illuminated continues to inhale,
embrace the connection to keep our flames alive.
resist the breath that will extinguish.


Michelle Holland lives and writes in Chimayo, New Mexico.  Her books include the New Mexico Book Award winning collection, The Sound a Raven Makes, Tres Chicas Press; and Chaos Theory, Sin Fronteras Press.

Enjoy additional poems by Michelle Holland: “Take The Apple”, “Approaching Another New Year,” and “Empire of Dust”.

10 WordPress-Hosted Literary Journals Accepting Poetry Submissions

  1. Dogwood – A Journal of Poetry and Prose: An annual national literary journal seeking works from writers during its fall reading period each year. We publish fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction of both contest winners and other writers in May of each year. The literary journal is produced by the faculty in the Department of English at Fairfield University, and Fairfield undergraduate students gain hands-on experience in helping to edit and produce the journal by taking EN 340: The World of Publishing or The World of Publishing II.                                          
  2. The Magnolia Review The Magnolia Review was born in October 2011 by Bowling Green State University creative writing undergraduates. Suzanna Anderson is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder. Please visit the Submit tab for information on how to submit. While The Magnolia Review will not have physical copies at this time, the editors may compile a print version if funds become available. We publish two issues a year, deadlines on November 15 and May 15. The issue will be available January 15 and July 15 online.                                                                              
  3. The Mantle: Founded in 2017, The Mantle is an online quarterly journal dedicated to contemporary poetry. We’ll publish the most memorable poems we receive. When the time comes, we’ll nominate for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Our first issue releases on August 1st. We are now reading for issue #2. Find our submission guidelines here.                                                     
  4. Naugatuck River Review: This is a literary journal founded in order to publish and in doing so to honor good narrative poetry. We publish twice a year. Our first edition was Winter 2009.  A print issue will be available through this site for purchase. It will also be available for download. Publication rights will revert to the author of the poem and we do not pay for poetry published. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please inform us if your work is accepted elsewhere. Naugatuck River Review is dedicated to publishing narrative poetry in the tradition of great narrative poets such as Gerald Stern, Philip Levine or James Wright.       
  5. Panoply, A Literary Zine: Join us here for a wide-ranging and impressive array of writing. Issue 7 will be a double issue and comes out August 18, 2017.                                                           
  6. Peacock Journal: Have you ever been so attracted to something, you just wanted to be close to it? You just wanted to exist within the same space? Or have you ever seen something so beautiful you thought it might be a door to another world? And all you desired, with the entirety of your being, was to pass through that door, into that other place, and just exist there for a little while? It’s not a separate reality, it’s a heightened, more intense reality, fuller and more complete. Write that and send it to us. It’s really difficult. It’s far easier to write gritty and pedestrian. But try it. Send us something about water and wind and light and the interplay of harmonies between them.                                                                                  
  7. Pearl S. Buck Writing Center Literary Journal: The theme for the Fall 2017 Issue, Volume 2, Number 2, of the Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal is Justice and Mercy. We see a host of possible avenues for writing about justice and mercy  —  the lack of either virtue OR the presence of either virtue. We include both sides of this theme, for, in Anne Kaler’s words: “If there were perfect justice, we would not need mercy.  If there were perfect mercy, we would not need justice.”                                                                                                                                                  
  8. Quill’s Edge Press: QuillsEdge Press is dedicated to publishing the poetry of women over the age of 50. We offer an annual chapbook contest during the fall and winter, and beginning in 2017, an annual anthology of new, emerging, and established women poets called 50/50: Poems and Translations by Women Over 50.                                                                                              
  9. Seshat – A Homeschool Literary Magazine:  Submissions will be open until September 1, 2017. Please review the submission guidelines before submitting your pieces to our email. All pieces will be reviewed immediately upon being received.The inaugural issue of this journal is planned for release on September 15, 2017. Any further news regarding this new release will be updated as time passes.                                                                                                     
  10. Sliver of Stone: Sliver of Stone is a nonprofit online literary magazine. Our editors are the talented progeny of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Our mission is to provide for a web-based environment for outstanding literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from around the globe. We want to expand the influence of these genres beyond their traditionally academic audiences.

A Focused Free-Write Poetry Prompt

For today’s poetry prompt, we will try a focused free-write.

What is a focused free-write, you say?

A focused free-write is when you free-write, in longhand, with a particular passage – or in this case poem – in mind.

And if you’re not sure what it is to “free-write,” it simply means to write non-stop without lifting your pen or pencil or stopping to make any corrections to grammar, spelling, or punctuation, for a set period of time not to exceed 20 minutes.

The idea is to get your good ideas down on paper and capture your inspired thinking.

The focus of today’s free-write is Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope is the thing with feathers,” which I discussed in an earlier blog post. The poem reads as follows:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity
It asked a crumb of me.

Your free-write can focus on any image or line from the poem or perhaps on the abstract idea of hope itself.

Later, see if you can lift a line or two from your free-write and generate a poem draft.

Good luck, have fun, and write on.

 

 

 

Yellow Jackets and the Demons of Indecision

By the time this post appears, it will have been a week since the exterminator came and took care of the yellow jacket problem in my back yard.

I didn’t know the exterminator had even arrived until my husband called me around mid-morning to say he’d received an invoice for the exterminator’s services via email. My husband was in San Diego at the time, attending the Comic Con.

I was surprised because the appointment had been scheduled for 2:00 PM., and  because it was raining cats and dogs when I’d left the house at around 8:20 AM. I was attending a conference in town.

Of course, it makes much more sense to extract a wasp’s nest first thing in the morning. That’s when the nest is most occupied by wasps.

I just hadn’t thought of it.

Still, I was in doubt. I couldn’t  fathom that the heavy rain and wet conditions wouldn’t interfere with the extermination. Honestly, I half-expected the phone call was to cancel.

But my husband confirmed that, yes, according to the exterminator, the wasps had in fact been “augmented” from the yard. It was a sizable nest, my husband quoted the exterminator as saying, probably 500 wasps or more. There is a chance that a few are still buzzing around looking for their home, but they won’t last long without their nest,” my husband continued.

Something about this last observation made me feel cold-hearted.

I’m not confessing a secret love for yellow jackets here, or anything like that, but I have to admit to experiencing some residual feelings of guilt over creating a situation that caused the death of hundreds of innocent creatures. Those yellow jackets were, after all, only behaving as yellow jackets do: making and protecting their home, creating more yellow jackets, and generally building an existence.

It just so happened that their existence was interfering greatly with ours.

Specifically, they made it impossible to mow the yard, first by attacking my husband when tried mowing the back yard before we left town, then attacking a friend, who tried to mow just the front yard while we were gone.

They simply had to go.

Still, I couldn’t help imagining those few surviving wasps, stunned and confused, hovering around the hole in the ground that was once their nest. Couldn’t help but sense their groundlessness.

Such are the thoughts of a writer.

But then I realized that, since the extermination had been taken care of, my afternoon was free.I felt cheered, then, and shifted my thoughts to how to spend the rest of my day.

And this, dear reader, is precisely the moment that the demons of indecision appeared.

A virtual drop-down list of options, including everything from doing homework for the conference to editing my manuscript, finishing a quilt I’ve been sewing to taking a nap with the cat, to going to the gym or staying on campus to work on my syllabus, all popped into my mind.

Good options, all. But together, potentially overwhelming.

Especially since I am apt to paralyze myself with indecision in these moments.  I mean, just making the decision to eat out, for example, can evolve into a mental debate of what and where to eat.

Choosing to write opens an even wider array of menu options: should I write poetry or prose, something formal or informal, personal, creative or academic?  Should I write something new or revise something old? Should I catch up my correspondence by sending cards or composing emails?

Really, the list is endless.

The point is, I tend to put too much pressure on myself when it comes to decisions. I feel I must make the absolute best decision and fear that making the “wrong” decision will result in drastic, long-lasting consequences which I neither wanted nor intended.

Even though this has never happened.

Still, it is true that no matter what I choose to do, I am choosing NOT to do a whole host of other things. If I write, I am not exercising. If I do homework, I am not working on my poetry manuscript. If I work on my blog at Starbucks, I am not working on my quilt at home.

And of course, making no decision at all is a decision in itself.

So it is that with every choice I make, I feel a little bit of grief and a smidgen of sorrow. Like those stunned wasps unhoused by the exterminator, my unchosen options hang around searching for a home – a place into which to burrow and build an existence.

But such are the thoughts of a writer.

“Stop The Clock” by Bruce McRae

I remember,
you were pointing a stick
at the moon.
It was the day before
the wolf bit you.
Near to that incident
with the toothpick.
You were with a girl
who rubbed brass for a living.
I remember,
you had a signed edition
of a box of bags
and were dating an ex-nun.
Around the time
of the break out.
Sure, and as I recall,
you were studying wych elm,
or was it moonwort?
Either way,
that was the same summer
they moved the graveyard
into the secret forest.
Remember?
You had that awful sunburn
and a lung had collapsed;
the very same day
as the mudslide . . .
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Makes you think
real hard.

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, is a Pushcart nominee with over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His latest book out now, ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ is available on Amazon and through Cawing Crow Press, while in September of this year, another book of poems, ‘Like As If’, will be published by Pskis Porch. His poems on video can be viewed on YouTube’s ‘BruceMcRaePoetry’

 

 

 

Four More Weeks of “Creative Writing Extravaganza” at Bliss!

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As Seen in Natural Awakenings Magazine!

Creative Writing Extravaganza
Tuesdays, August 16 – October 4, 2016, 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Bliss Spiritual Co-op
1163 Pleasant Oaks Drive, off Chuck Dawley Blvd
Mount Pleasant, SC

No registration required! Attend all eight weeks or drop in when you can!

Join us as we explore how the raw material of our life experiences informs our artistic expression and how we can develop them into poems, stories, flash memoir, and more! Each class will focus on a specific sample or style of writing from which students will generate their own work by responding to prompts, engaging in invention activities, and emulating the sample writing itself. Time will also be set aside during each class for students to read aloud from any new work they wish to share (always optional). All levels are welcome.

We will explore:

  • Imagination in prose and poetry
  • The music of the sentence
  • Forms of poetry (and why they matter)
  • Elements of narrative
  • The Lyric Essay
  • Flash fiction
  • Fun with metaphor, simile, and personification
  • Flash creative non-fiction
  • The role of the writer’s journal
  • How drawing helps writing
  • Deepening writing through awareness and meditation
  • Deepening awareness and meditation though writing
  • Establishing a regular writing practice
  • Working through fear of failure
  • Working through fear of success
  • The joy of revision
  • Revising life stories for empowerment
  • Deepening self-awareness and healing through writing
  • Deepening craft through self-awareness

Bring your journal, favorite writing instrument, and inner child!

Organ of the Soul

Iphone Pics and Videos 007It’s cloudy and wet in Charleston today, the air swampy and pungent as is typical of August in this region. While I am still not used to it, I am less unused to it than I was three years ago when I moved here from Albuquerque. This morning, instead of taking my usual stroll around the neighborhood and down the bike path that runs through West Ashley, I opted for the treadmill at the gym where the air is at least somewhat controlled. I even followed up with 30 minutes of yoga before making a quick visit to the chiropractor for some therapeutic attention to what some call my “boulder shoulders”. I am blessed with a Tuesday/Thursday teaching schedule this semester so can look forward to spending my Mondays much in this way — at least until Midterms when grading papers will take precedence over feeling good.

Last week marked the beginning of the fall semester and was filled with last-minute revisions to class syllabi, office hours, and lesson plans. The early semester juxtaposition of high energy and intense focus sometimes makes me feel a little schizophrenic. Though I felt exhausted by the time Friday rolled around, I was charged from meeting this year’s new crop of students. I can already tell it’s going to be a great semester.

I opted to teach two classes this semester so that I might focus on other projects, namely submitting poems and poetry manuscript to suitable markets. Though it means tightening my belt and cutting out quite a few extras (and not so extras), I think that the trade-off will be worth it, even if it’s just more time to write and submit. Up until this year, my submission activity has been pretty light. I will be buckling down this semester and getting my work out into the world.

Meanwhile, poems for the 2017 Zingara Poetry Picks are streaming in at a nice pace and my community Creative Writing classes are going well. It’s great to be back in full-swing again.

I want to share with you a few of the thoughts that are running through my mind grapes this day; little odds and ends – snippets that might deserve further development or investigation:

  1. I think it is Borges who is credited with the theory that the soul is contained in the voice, at least that is what David Isay, founder of Story Corps, said in an interview by Krista Tippet in the May 12, 2016 “On Being” Podcast. When I google the phrase, I also get “the human voice is the organ of the soul” from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I like both of these ideas, especially when  thinking about, and writing, poetry. I’m going to ponder it all this week.
  2. The law of attraction suggests that like things are attracted to one another. In the physical world, this phenomenon is observable in H20 wherein polar molecules are attracted to one another like magnets: water molecules actually glob on to other water molecules. In the world of human constructs, it also seems that wealth attracts wealth, privilege attracts privilege, and power attracts more power. From these observations our culture has developed the theory that positive thinking can attract positive experiences and lifestyles; that we can manifest the life we want. It makes sense that this theory is not confined to what we consider desirable circumstances. Isn’t it also true that poverty attracts more poverty, addiction more addition, and violence more violence? Manifesting something other than what one is experiencing in these circumstances, while possible, is no easy feat. The move from poverty to wealth, for example, or violence to peace, requires nothing less than Herculean effort.
  3. And finally, this : able-bodied-ness is a temporary state for pretty much everyone.

That’s it for this Monday Minute. Leave your comments below and have an interesting, curiosity-filled week.

Z-Poet