The long exhalation of winter descends on my bones. Leeching the life from my blood until I’m left as barren as the land.
The quiet hush of snow covered ground hides the impatient musings of my mind as I seek a way beyond the bland limitations of this body.
A fierce squall emerges from the darkness.
It feeds upon itself as it builds into a formidable wall of ice and protects the fragile being lost in the abyss
Snowflakes drift by, oblivious.
by Michelle Murray
This poem was inspired by an in-class activity for the writing class, From Mundane To Miraculous with Maisha Manson. We were asked to write about a season that correlates to how we feel in the moment. At the time I was in a great deal of physical pain with the cooling weather. As a person living with chronic pain, winter is a difficult period. There are many parallels between winter and chronic pain and this poem is my way of merging the two in a way that expresses the difficulties and realities of both the season of winter and the seasons of pain. Yet despite the cold and barren starkness of winter, there is a certain beauty and strength hidden beneath the fallen snow. People who live with chronic pain also carry it with a quiet strength that is unseen by those passing in and out of our lives.
Perfectionist that I am, this headline from The Seattle Times caught my attention. The photograph grabbed me first and then I noticed the error. This is not meant to embarrass or shame anyone. We all make mistakes. Instead, I consider this a lesson in cooperation.
‘Snoqualmie Tunnel is the subject of an eerie reader’s photo’ As this headline is written, the reader, whose name is Nick, is eerie, and he may very well be, but it is the photo in this instance that is eerie. So the headline needs to be rewritten, moving the word eerie. Snoqualmie Tunnel is the subject of a reader’s eerie photo. Nick is no longer eerie. His photo is.
Putting out a newspaper is a monumental task and it takes a group working together to pull it off. Writing is a key component of that effort. That is why there are proofreaders and copy editors and, for writers like you and me, friends willing to help and critique. One of my newest “friends” is an app I recently installed called Grammarly.
It is a terrific tool. It works very much like Microsoft Word, underlining in red words that need help. It helps me a lot in correcting mistakes, and I make plenty. It also has helped me in writing better and in learning the English language more completely. I am a bit better now at commas.
Anyway, for the writers out there, I want to encourage you. That is one of the reasons for this blog. Write something and post it! There are no worries here. There is no judgment. Mistakes are normal. Do not worry about making them. Even the best writers on the planet make mistakes. We want this to be your sandbox, to play and to create as you see fit. I want to read what you write!
Years ago, my father and I had a fight — nothing physical — while doing some yard work at my brother’s new old house. Dad has a strange obsession with work. Workaholic does not describe it accurately. I describe it as puritanical. But even that word does not seem to fully envelop it.
Anyway, I walked off after telling him that I never wanted to see him again. This became even more uncomfortable because I was staying at my parents’ house. I made some desperate pleas to friends looking for another place until leaving for Seattle but I could not find any options and I didn’t have the money for a hotel.
Since then my grandmother has died, which left us an opening for reconnecting. She was suffering from heart failure and Dad had called to let me know that she did not have long. Unfortunately, she didn’t. Thankfully, however, I spoke with her a few times before she passed.
The last time we were together, I was spending the night because she did not want to be alone. Her new husband, who my father hated, was in the hospital. Casablanca with Bogart and Bergman was on TV so we sat chatting and watching. I love that movie. I have so many fond memories of her.
I am glad she lived so long. Living in Seattle and with some serious health problems myself, I did not have the chance to visit her and other relatives in Oregon much, as I did when I was younger.
I did get a few chances to talk with her about Dad. Why was he so violent? Did Grandpa ever hit him? Only once, she said. I have been trying to unravel this for years.
Then my younger brother relayed a story to me. He was in a car driven by our uncle and he shared how our Dad would beat on him when they were growing up. Our uncle described him as the neighborhood bully. And then it all made sense. My father was a bully. He had never grown out of it. He had never grown up.
Now, I had been bullied in school year after year. I was considered a nerd and unpopular. I had friends and a happy-go-lucky attitude so it wasn’t hell per se. I would do my best to laugh off anything negative. And it worked most of the time.
An even bigger problem, however, was my father. He was violent. He was abusive, emotionally and verbally. He stands tall. He is a huge, intimidating man. He remains intimidating to me to this day.
Learning that my father was one of these bullies was a revelation. I pictured Dad as one of the bullies I had experienced in school. He was one of the bullies who targeted people like me. He IS one of the bullies who targets people like me. It is his nature. That is who he is — his natural state, like a wild bear. Of course, this does not excuse his behavior. He needs to act like a man, like a father, not a vicious animal.
After repeated episodes of hitting her and his own damn kids, Mom gave him an ultimatum. We kids did not know that she had. Stop the violence, or she was leaving him. I wish she had. But her threat did the trick. He reformed himself. The transformation was remarkable. He became a better, different husband and father. He stopped being violent with us. His attitude was mostly better, but he would sometimes revert to his old nature. The farther from that ultimatum, the worse he gets, I think.
Unfortunately, he also relapsed into the physical violence a few times, conveniently when Mom wasn’t around. The last time he hit me was August 25, 1993. I made a mental note of that date. I still do not trust him. And the sound of his voice grates on me. I do not like the way he treats Mom. He is so damn condescending sometimes. He can be an arrogant son of a bitch.
I sent Mom flowers and good wishes on Mother’s Day. But I remain confused on what to do about my bully Dad. I cannot stand him. But should I at least send him a card or something? Life is so messy and so damn confusing.
I am an Ambidextrous Painter, Scientist, Step-Mother, Lover of Lady’s & their Others. A Whore a Coward, Liar a Judas A Free-dome seeking Teacher of Our collective Futures Made to own Our GrandCestors spaces reinterpretation of Shape, Sound Frequency, re-speculating the birth of WE I am the Word & World created on a stage, page, tone or face Representing, & recreating a state of a Mind, for the race to BE Human. I am Preaching Precious Story’s Mirrors we’re constantly living up to reflecting on, Herstory’s. Infinite iNtelligence too deep to be Respected all to make rhyming come back like when the Last Poets just met When lazy Saturdays meant SMURPH’S Prince had not yet worn their bottomless pants I am UN-comforting white pages turned brilliant With beats on the backs of breakdowns An Ali of mental graphics Shakespeare of word gymnastics To art like butter to fat is No attempt, just doing I.t. ashe
Childhood… for some a gleeful, loving time. For others, endless trauma and despair.
Like childhood, a swing can be a reflection of pure joy, letting a child soar into the sky, believing they can sweep their hand through the fleecy, luminescent clouds. For some children, however, joy is overshadowed by anguish and pain. There is no lasting happiness, only the dark, dripping wet swing mimicking the suffering that marks their daily existence. The swing hangs still, a cold rain dripping despair onto the iron ground.
The joy has vanished like the child who, instead of transforming this scene into a gleeful moment, has been swallowed by the shadowy forest dominating the background.
Artist Statement: “In Samuel Corales’ Interactive Creative Writing Class this past quarter, he asked us to list three things that we would take to another planet and three things we would leave on Earth.”
I have three Amazon Echo smart devices, and I would take them all with me to another planet. The first thing is a regular Amazon Echo smart speaker. The second thing is an Amazon Echo Show screen. The last thing is my Amazon Fire Smart TV. This is not the 19th century anymore. It’s the 21st century. This new planet is as futuristic as can be. It keeps tabs on everything that goes on on other planets, including Earth. My regular Amazon Echo smart speaker can allow me to listen to all the music and radio stations on Earth. My Amazon Echo Show screen allows me to do that, and watch TV on Amazon Prime Video and IMDB TV as well. My Amazon Fire Smart TV is the same thing, only in magnified form.
I also have a facial hair trimmer, but I would leave that on Earth. My mom used to force me to shave every morning before I went to school. She didn’t want me to look older than I actually was. However, my skin is very sensitive now, and I can grow as full a beard as ever. On this new planet, it will seem like it’s November forever. My point is that looks aren’t everything. Mr. Rogers and Martin Luther King once said that it is nothing specifically immaterial that should drive you to like a person. Rather, it is the content of their character.