Friday, April 25, 2014

Happily Ever After

According to some calendars, tomorrow is Tell-a-Story Day in the US and UK. Well, EVERY day is Tell-a-Story Day here at The Mind’s Elbow, but still…

The holiday does serve to remind me of the kind of storyteller I was back when my children were little. Yes, as you can probably guess, I was the type of mom who just couldn't leave some things well enough alone. Take those fairy tale endings, for example. Well, “happily ever after” just didn't cut it for me.

So, when it was my turn to read, Sleeping Beauty married the prince and then worked her way through medical school to help those afflicted with narcolepsy.  Snow White and her prince developed a crackerjack cleaning and cooking service aimed at mining bachelors lacking such skills. And of course, the girl who released the frog from his spell became a fabulous veterinarian, while her prince helped develop research projects addressing the major causes of amphibian decline.

Back then, I was making a point that I wanted my children to remember —
there is much more of life to live after a matrimony ceremony. Pursue your passion — your personal story does not end over a little piece of wedding cake.

These days, I still change endings. But now there’s a different point that I want my children to know — there is much more of love to live after the pomp and party.

And so my latest endings go something like this…

 And so it came to pass that Cinderella’s memory became as slippery as a fish. At first it was small things… like the date of the month or where she had hidden her secret stash of chocolate. But after a few years that horrible fish had eaten the names of her children and even the husband who had rescued her from a life of servitude. So Cindy simply took to her bed where sometimes for days on end, it was her very own name that swam from her grasp.

Ah, but it was then during those darkest hours of the darkest days, that the old prince-now-king would totter into her chamber. And with twisted hands gnarled from arthritis and rheumatism, he would take the glass shoe from its locked box and carefully slip it upon her withered foot…

just to see her eyes crinkle, and the corners of her mouth twitch…

into an open and glorious smile.

PROMPT: What does “happily ever after” mean to you?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What’s in Your Pocket?

If you’re averse to this pocket,
you’d better put a verse in yours!

Today would be a great day to heed the warning from Dr. William Carlos Williams.


Because it’s National Poem in Your Pocket Day!

And you thought you’d missed it.

Yes, it's that festive time of the year when you’re supposed to carry a favorite poem in your pocket (hence the day’s clever name).

Then, when family and friends least expect it, you are to pull it out and recite, recite with all your might.

Fear not  everybody knows about this holiday, so you won’t receive odd looks or get hauled off for a mental evaluation.

I've even heard that a good recitation can get you out of a speeding ticket.

Um, regarding that last bit, Whovians take note 

The Doctor lies.

Well, I prefer to call it fiction.

PROMPT: DO NOT be a LOSER like this guy:

No Poem = LOSER!

Put a poem in your pocket and participate!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No Place Like It

  Home is the nicest word there is.
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Yes, it’s where the heart is.

So, it should come as no surprise that thoughts of the old homeplace can make even a Commander-in-Chief wax poetic…

My Childhood Home I See Again
by Abraham Lincoln
My childhood home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There's pleasure in it too.

O Memory! Thou midway world
'Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that's earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle-notes that, passing by,
In distance die away;

As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar--
So memory will hallow all
We've known, but know no more.

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I'm living in the tombs.

Well, on that cheery note…

Here’s another take on the subject —

Give a listen to "The House That Built Me" written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin, and recorded by Miranda Lambert.

Dang, that’s a weeper, too.

It’s the “live oak” line that gets me every time.

I've got one of those. Do you?

PROMPT: Now it’s your turn. Create a poem to write home about… featuring the old place that put you together. Weeping and/or singing is optional.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Love Your Mama

Earth, that is.

Yes, it's that special day of the year we all own up to the fact that when it comes to planets, we've got a favorite.

Sorry, Mars and Jupiter, you’re swell…

but you sort of suck at sustaining human life.

So, it's Earth Day all the way for those of us who have a thing for oxygen, water in liquid form, and banana slugs.

Yes, this special celebration was the BEST thing to come out of 1970… Well, that and my fabulous brother, but that’s a different story.

If you weren't there, let me give you a little snapshot of the year and you’ll see what I mean 

What we lost in 1970:

Jimi Hendrix
Janis Joplin
The Beatles

What we had:


Need I say more?

Trust me, if there was ever a year we needed SOMETHING to celebrate, it was then.

So we decided to celebrate what we had. And that was…


And dang it, if that didn't make us all feel a whole lot better.

For those of you who were there, you might be feeling an urge to hold hands right about now…

Because Earth Day would not be complete without a good old-fashioned 70’s sing-along.

If you’re of a certain age, I’m sure you can guess the song.

Here’s the link.

Go ahead…

You know you want to.

PROMPT: Celebrate Earth Day with some nature writing… an ode to a banana slug or badger, a dirt-y limerick, or an essay convincing Kermit to quit his bellyaching. After all, being green is not so hard if you've gotta lotta love for this little blue world.

Monday, April 21, 2014

This is Just to Say…

Yes, we're still celebrating National Poetry Month! And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.
I love to use poetry to jump-start my writing day. Here’s how you can, too:

Step 1) Pick a poem, any poem.
Step 2) Read and enjoy.
Step 3) Rewrite it  your way.

That’s all there is to it.
Today let’s take a look at William Carlos Williams. Remember him? I love to use his poems for this exercise because he wrote of everyday objects cut down to their bare and beautiful bones.
I also love the fact that he was a busy physician who wrote a lot of his poetry on prescription pads.
One of my favorites is “This is Just to Say”. It’s written as if it were a note left on the refrigerator. As I don't want to infringe a copyright, please take a quick click and read it here.
Now that you've read and enjoyed (Step 2), it is time for the Step 3 rewrite...

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the chocolate
that was hidden
behind the mason jars
and under the matches

and which
you were probably
for some emotional emergency

Please don’t kill me
it was delicious
so smooth
and so sweet

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to rock and write! But first…

PROMPT: Try it! 1-2-3 instant poetry! Visual artists can do this, too. Simply paint or sketch whatever your chosen poem brings to mind. Check out Charles Demuth’s
I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold that was inspired by… wait for it… a William Carlos Williams poem! Go figure!