What’s There to Say About Coffee?

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Coffee0001Quite a lot, it turns out. Kind of a Hurricane Press has just come out with a 200 page anthology on the subject. 86 writers, plus the editors, are represented. Coffee has a lot to do with daily life and relationships, and there are many ways to talk about it.

A poem of mine, “Coffee in the Cup” is included. My poem is about colors. Have you ever tried to name the color of coffee with skim milk?   I came up with “French beige,” a new term for me this past year, or “taupe.” But is either quite right? It’s a very muted, dull color, distinctly different from coffee with cream.

The anthology, titled Something’s Brewing, is available from Amazon for $8.50, which is a good price for a 200 page book. Kind of a Hurricane Press has anthologies planned to come out about every two months. Submissions for the theme “Candy” are due May 31, for “Amusement Parks” July 31. and there are more to come. Check out: http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com/ for more on submissions or about the coffee anthology.

Another Stage of Spring

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The little mesquite tree in my backyard is leafing out.  I’ve been told this tree knows when frost is no longer an issue.  it is safe to plant out those tender plants now.  P1000064 Of course I am not ready.  The plants I started from seed two months ago are no where near large enough to transplant.P1000072 This mesquite tree is one of the triumphs of my uneven gardening career.  I bought it eight years ago in a seven inch pot.  I can no longer reach the top.P1000068Near the base of this tree I discovered a volunteer pansy.  Very small – it had sprouted with almost no water.  I was not expecting it there at all.  Most of the seeds from plants blow across the yard in the opposite direction. pansy volunteerNow I need to make it feel welcome – even though it is in the middle of a patch of sand.

Issue #18 Is Out

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As one of the editors, I consider this big news. I am proud of this issue, and grateful to Nancy Frost Begin for the cover art and Jenny Torres for the cover design.

Originally posted on Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders:

sf 18 cover0001 Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal # 18 has just arrived from the printer.  Contributors’ copies are in the mail.  Thirty-three writers have contributed to this issue – of which more later.

The cover art is by Nancy Frost Begin.

If you are considering submitting this year and have not been published in this Journal before, we recommend you buy a copy.  The current issue is $8.  A sample from a prior year is $5.  Add $2.00 for postage and send your check and your name and address to:

Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders
c/o DAAC
PO Box 1721
Las Cruces, NM 88004

Then watch this site for updates on submission guidelines.

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Recommendation: Susana H. Case, Salem in Séance

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Susana H. Case’s book of poems, Salem in Séance is constructed around the idea of a séance at which participants in the Salem witch frenzy of the late seventeenth century speak to the author, giving their different views of what happened. And the author sometimes speaks back.

The actors do not appear according to the chronology of the historical events, but in three sections by roles: Detentions, Accusations and Authorities. The characters are a little hard to keep track of, perhaps partly because so many names begin with P: Proctors, Putnams, Porters and Parrish. As a person who likes history I wanted, at first, a list of who was involved to keep track of them all. Later, I concluded that the lack of such a list and the neglect of chronological sequence adds to the impression of chaos and confusion that must have prevailed at the time.

Case weaves texts from the period into the poems, distinguished by use of italics. Her own comments are indicated by italics within brackets. These interjections are used with restraint, which gives them more force; a great deal can be suggested about alternative possibilities and understandings in a few words. Sometimes the speaker responds briefly to the interjection, other times not. These interruptions never bend the story the speaker is telling.

A poem which uses both kinds of insertions is “A Father’s Son.” The speaker is Cotton Mather.

In 1692, my excoriating father, Increase,
finally brings the colony’s new charter
from England.
We can take witches such as have rendered
themselves obnoxious
to trial.
[A Mather through and through.]
I am my father’s son. This battleground
with Satan―accusations

fly unleashed, like my vowels used to whoosh
through echoing rooms, women
on brooms.
[To your political advantage.]
The threat is burning for eternity―
forgiveness is bad for business.

The cure for a surfeit of witches is
before a lasting skepticism.

Two dogs full with evil in their eyes
are hanged by the neck
on Gallows Hill.

Selections from these poems don’t convey the full impact, but I’ll include one more short poem which is a good example of Case’s tight, no words wasted, style.


Nathaniel Hawthorne,
of great-grandfather
John Hathorne,
trial magistrate who believed
in guilty
before being proven
guilty, a very religious
man, wealthy,
the only magistrate involved in Salem
not to repent,
restores the w
to his family name
for reasons of dissociation
now that he is done with college,
the w
three hundred years before.

He, as much as anyone,
understands the importance
of a letter.

Salem in Séance is published by WordTech Editions, the imprint which is publishing my book, Made and Remade. I am happy to see my book on the same list with such a well-crafted work.

You can find out more, read more sample poems. or order a copy via: http://www.wordtechweb.com/case.html

Beginning Again, Again


In a recent post, Marylin Warner pointed out that today, March 25, is Old New Year’s Day. She posted this information a few days ago so that readers might think about what they would like to do over from the January 1 New Year. A New Year is an opportunity to make a fresh start, to correct past mistakes and begin again. You can read her post at: http://warnerwriting.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/unfinished-business/

I was aware that March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation, honoring the appearance of the Angel Gabriel to Mary to announce the incarnation of Jesus. What I did not know until I did some research is that there is a direct connection between the Annunciation and the old New Year.

The Christian scholars of many centuries ago understood that the incarnation of Christ marked the beginning of a new age. They set the beginning of this incarnation at conception, nine months before the birth of Jesus. Since a new age began on March 25, so must the year of the new age’s calendar, the Years of Our Lord, from which the suffix A.D. (Anno Domini) derives. To know which year it was required starting the year on the same day as the day of the incarnation.

It makes as much sense to start the year a few days after the Spring Equinox as it does to start it ten days after the Winter Solstice. Any day makes a good day for a fresh start. But I’m glad we don’t start our year on March 25. For me, the Feast of the Annunciation has a different significance. Coming as it most often does before Easter, it suggests to me that things have a way of beginning again before the last cycle is over. This is how ritual includes a whole lifetime in its rhythm of days and seasons. It is also a reminder of our human condition. We believe that one thing should end and then another can begin. Things often don’t work that way.

Whether you celebrate a new year, a new season, or a new day, take time to make something right if you are aware of something that is broken.

Tanka on Childhood


Our dolls and bears
bicker and pout
as we play our way
toward understanding
adult antagonisms.

This tanka is for Sally.  It was sparked by the discovery, last year, of letters from our childhood.  We wrote to each other about the adventures of our stuffed animals, of which we each had a whole community. I put the poem of this long ago experience in the present tense because I hope it continues to be part of children’s growing up.bear party

The picture shows a gathering of my bears and dolls, my brothers’ bears, and my cousin Linda’s bears and dolls.  I have been trying to remember whether she came to our house or we went to hers to create this version of “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”  I’m thinking the chairs must be ours, because my cousin had no siblings, but I don’t recall.  An interesting case of what we remember and what we forget.  And the way photographs both help and confuse the issue.

Goodbye to Winter


After I posted my photos of spring color (March 4) I realized that I had never photographed the flowers which have given me color all winter, a few in my yard and a few by my patio.  As a way of celebrating the end of the season, I give thanks for the blue pansies.  This batch I can see from my study window.

Pansies by the metal lily

Pansies by the metal lily

I learned by trail and error that these traditional pansies are more cold hardy than the fancy varieties.  There is a lovely frilled variety with “antique” in their name, but they are imposters.  I will have some this spring because the ones that died in the cold a year ago left some seeds to sprout.  But these blues have survived every year I’ve planted them.

Pansies by the patio

Pansies by the patio

Happy Equinox to all.  Enjoy the greater energy of longer days.



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