Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

After trying this with a post I wrote a while back, I decided to try two or three more posts. The results of the different writing samples were: Vladimir Nabokov, Stephen King, and James Fenimore Cooper. Apparently, I have a split personality as a writer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

a bit more poetry

Much of the poetry I've been writing is raw, emotional, and not really fit for public consumption. The class focuses on the telling of personal stories through poetry. There are two I think I can share here. Both were written during the course of the class and have been whittled and reworked and thought half to death. This one turned out lovely, I think, and brings back sweet, precious memories.


he told me once he couldn't claim to know
the meaning of life but he thought it involves
finding someone who makes happiness real

he told me once he had little idea
if there truly is a God, but he thought
the best evidence is in my dark eyes

he told me once I should live for today
concentrate on being in this moment
because nothing lasts, time erases memory


The memory this poem is based upon is an old one. Even so, the finished poem seems immediate to me, as well as just a bit ugly, just a bit violent.

Seeking Control

She never could stand secrets
tried to strip them from my mind
with tricks, bribes, pointed questions,
searching for answers I wouldn't spill

She crept into my room
dumped my purse on the bed
violated my privacy
as easily as she smiled

Thursday, June 10, 2010

writing poetry

I began a poetry class this week. Like everyone else, I wrote the requisite haiku and rhyming verse in school, but I've never made a serious attempt at writing my own poetry. I've been reading lovely books by people like Lucille Clifton, Robert Bly, Ted Kooser, Dorianne Laux, and Marie Howe. Our first assignment was to write a piece about the way that poetry came into our lives. The first poem I remember really affecting me in an emotional way is a short piece, long since committed to memory.

The Amulet

Your picture smiles as first it smiled,
The ring you gave is still the same,
Your letter tells, O changing child,
No tidings since it came.

Give me an amulet
That keeps intelligence with you
Red when you love, and rosier red,
And when you love not,
Pale and blue.

Alas, that neither bonds nor vows
Can certify possession;
Torments me still the fear that love
Died in its last expression.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I thought about the day I first read this poem and how I came to own the book of Emerson's poetry. It is odd what comes back to you holding an old book in your hands.

"The Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson", Copyright 1900

Mother filled my late childhood
With auctions and farm sales.
She drove miles and spent long hours
Eating cheap barbeque sandwiches
While bidding a few dollars on boxes
Packed with someone else's life.

One hot June day under a Redbud,
She picked among the tables and the piles.
I dragged along bored behind her
Until I saw a box of books near the house.
They smelled of leather and age,
My idea of heaven.

In the corner, covered in brick red linen,
I saw a volume not much larger than my hand.
I was seventeen, immersed in unrequited love.
I opened the linen cover, looked on yellowed pages,
and as I read "The Amulet",
Poetry spoke to me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home Sweet Nowata

I spent the better part of an hour talking to an old hometown friend on the phone this morning. While our conversation touched on home only peripherally, it started me thinking about my recent near-obsession with all things Nowata. I’ve had lunch recently with a couple of schoolmates, ornery boys who’ve turned into wonderful men. I’ve been thinking of Nowata often in the past few months. Perhaps it’s the upcoming all-school reunion and all of those pictures I’ve been uploading from old yearbooks and from inside an old metal box I’ve had since middle school. Maybe it's following what's going on with the children of old friends who live around Nowata, seeing pictures of them going to spring dances, FFA events, showing animals in the spring livestock show, or playing baseball in the frigid Oklahoma spring. Perhaps it’s the contact with so many old friends from home since I joined Facebook last summer to keep up with my lovely daughter as she attends college. I could blame it on Joan-Marie and her lovely descriptions of life in small-town Oklahoma. But honestly, I think I am simply homesick.

Just look at the countryside. Why wouldn't I be homesick for lovely Green Country? There is nothing prettier to my eyes than a pond in a cow pasture when the grass and the trees are lovely and green. Part of what draws me is knowing that underneath that beautiful grass and on the edges of that pond, the dirt is a lovely, rich, dark color. Not red. Dirt, my friends, should not be red.

Lovely old buildings in Nowata are more than just lovely old buildings to me. So many memories float into my consciousness from looking at this picture of the courthouse. My great-grandmother lived down that street to the north when I was in elementary school, right next to Sheila Stinnett, my life-long friend and distant relative. There was an organ in Grandma Bonnie's formal living room that she played by ear and a cellar that I spent many an hour in during the spring, staring at a bare bulb, jars of home-canned fruits, vegetables, pickles and preserves, and listening to an old transistor radio for the all-clear. I obtained my first marriage license in the courthouse after Anita Folk drew my blood out at the hospital, the only woman I've ever known who could do so without bruising or hurting me. Mrs. Folk also happened to be the make-up artist from the dance recitals of my youth and the mother of my old classmate, Dee Ann. Free association leads me to thoughts of Miss Vicki, dance classes in the basements of the Savoy, and Noweta Lodge, a summer writing course with Joyce Hifler in one of the high school annex buildings, and my 1974 red-and-white Chevy pick-up, the one with a 454, chrome running boards, dual wheels, and a chrome cow catcher on the front. I wish I had a photo of that truck. All that from a picture of the county courthouse.

There's nothing prettier than Nowata County in spring. Other seasons have their pleasures, but for me, spring has always been Nowata's best season. Warm days, cool nights, vegetation turning green, the gallardia, butterfly peas, and coneflowers blooming in pastures and alongside the roads, and the daffodils, forsythia, and lilacs blooming in the well-manicured town lawns. Nothing prettier.

I've been thinking about taking a drive north, an hour past Tulsa up Highway 169. There are people I'd love to see, but the main draw this time of year, for me, is the natural beauty of the place where I spent my childhood. There is just something about that little town that's always gotten under my skin. I said to a friend recently that you can't really ever go home again. And I suppose in some ways that's true. But if I ever loved a place and thought of it my whole life through as home, it's a little town called Nowata. It is, simply, home.

*Pictures are all Google images. Really. I just searched Google Images for "Nowata County". Try it. There are pictures of the bowling ball art, the motel signs, Ironman sports, and Main Street. It's kind of awesome.