Thursday, December 20, 2012

The dark that lives inside.

Once again, Jimmy Blackwell and I worked on another shared writing prompt. He tackled seeing the light that lives in the dark (which you can read here) - - and I took on when darkness hides inside the light. I've got to say that this was a tricky prompt for me and gave me more than a few shaky moments. It has honestly taken me waaaaay longer than the allotted two weeks to get this far. This is rough and raw, so be gentle...I am an optimistic person by nature and discussing darkness is tough for me. Makes me go to a place that is uncomfortable to some degree. Like that saying "hurt so good"? Something like that. It's not that I won't go there or don't want to go there - it's just a touch difficult. But good for me. So here it is:

Together
We looked so damned beautiful together.
Friends wanted to be us.
Around us at a minimum.
Our picture perfectness was awful.
Horrible.
Intolerable at best.
Our bright shiny smiles full of too many white teeth
blinded them to these many many faults.

I wanted your love to hold me up
but your thoughtlessness brought me down.
Your doubt stole my confidence,
this anger robbed me of my pride,
and lies were feeding our mutual loathing.
Nothing was fine. It was not going to be alright.

I knew it. You knew it. No one else saw it coming. 
Those days of happy mornings and shared glasses of orange juice
turned to lonely nights and far too many bottles of whiskey.

The empties laying around the floor like pieces of a sacrilegious Lenten calendar. Counting down to our end.

My beatific smiles turned deceptive.
They were hiding these fang-like teeth.
My words sounded soft at a distance. Soft through the phone lines,
but up close they lashed at your skin.
I wanted that. To hurt you. To make you feel something.
Pay attention to me.

Sometimes love is toxic.
Too much of a good thing can go to your head.
Unreasonable expectations, so high above
can only cause you to fall so far down.

When a love burns this bright we must be vigilant.
To touch the flames knowing we’ll end up scarred.
To go on the journey knowing we’ll get lost.
We are born with the instinct that tells us inside every person lives good and bad.
We grow up and forget that behind every brightness follows a shade and shadow.

Every flashlight will eventually run out of batteries.
Each sunrise is followed by a sunset.
Inside every shining light is a waiting dark.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Graveyard.

Remember how I went off on a rant about how I hate going back to my "Graveyard" folder and looking through shitty old poems? Well, apparently I challenged myself. A double-dog-dare, if you will. Stupid me.

I took three of the poems that were in the The Graveyard and resurrected them. Just plunked all of them "as is" into one document and went to work. This is what happened. My own little Frankenpoem...not sure I love it, but I don't think I hate it.

I've titled it, "The Graveyard Revisited":

My broken pride drove me home this morning. The radio massaged into my brain
endless lines and lyrics of love songs, until my pain puked me into slumber.
Cuddled so close to nightmares of things I could have, would have, should have said.

But, you do not know how to operate a touch tone phone.
So instead, my confused confidence will hide out in what used to be your spot on the couch.
I'll keep sleeping on this couch. It'll keep warm from the tears that I should have stopped crying for boys when I was fourteen.
Why must I make myself wait for the phone call you and I both know isn't coming today.
Or tomorrow.

These dreams are itchy, scratchy, and don’t fit my body very well.
Watching my generation cheerfully become sedated by over the counters and
self medications.

Where we tally your lost loves by counting sexual partners.
Learning to live lives through weekly sitcom situations.
Setting our low standards by the cheap advertisements inside expensive magazines.

Walking aimlessly up and down the same old streets, searching for something,
someone,
new.
Anything to take away from the tedious task of trying
so
hard.

These sleepy eyes
veiled with thick lashes
hard to see my lies through this scope.

I can only make out the shape of it, but next to those shadows
lives the best kiss I’ve never had.
Definitely.
Maybe.
Yes, the best kiss I’ve never had but always knew I’d never get.
 



Monday, October 29, 2012

The silver lining...apparently it's my "thing". Sometimes.

It has recently been pointed out to me that I am that terribly annoying person who is constantly looking for the good in every situation. Gag, right? I know. Alas, this is another one of my "things" that I do. Car broke down? No problem, your new adventure will be riding the bus and making all sorts of fun friends. Washed your wool sweater in hot water and it shrunk? Who cares! Now your doggy has some trendy new apparel.

The only time this is not my "thing" is when I am reviewing some of my older or unfinished poems that I have relegated to my "Graveyard" file. I have a very hard time going through those old poems already deemed craptacular and finding a solid nugget to work with. This is unfortunate because I write half started/finished poems down all of the time. I enjoy it. I like getting the brainwaves going and the words rolling off of my tongue and there is never a better feeling than knowing you are just absolutely knocking it out of the park and not being sure of how you got there. But sometimes I don't like how the words hang together, don't like how they sound, don't like how they look on the page, and despite my best efforts I cannot save them. I just let them hang out in a folder I rarely revisit because it depresses me. Perhaps I am my own worst critic and these things are not as bad as I think they are. Or maybe they really are and you are really lucky that I am not subjecting you to read utter crap.

Moral of the story: I am sure that there is a silver lining for every situation. Except for truly shitty poems.

This is me looking over some poems that are beyond saving.  I believe the face says it all...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A list of songs that give me "the feeling". (Not that feeling. Seriously, stop being a perv.)

I know I have talked about "the feeling" before.  You know, the particular tingle that starts at the top of your head and moves down to the nape of your neck, out through your shoulders, and ends up as goosebumps all along your arms? "The feeling" that reverberates through your spine and ends somewhere around your tailbone? This is the feeling I want when I write. Sometimes I can bait the feeling with music. What songs specifically, you ask? Well, I've got a short list right here for you! No, I didn't go all "High Fidelity" and rank them and group them by category. It's just a list, in no particular order...

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
Wonderwall - Oasis
The Light - Common
Tattoos on this Town - Jason Aldean
Love Like You - Paper Tongues
Closer to the Edge - 30 Seconds to Mars
To Make You Feel My Love - Garth Brooks (yes, I did mean this version, not Adele)
Fall to Pieces - Velvet Revolver (No, most definitely not the Patsy Cline song)
Drive - Incubus
Some Nights - Fun.
Beautiful Girl - INXS
Lightning Crashes - Live
1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
Gigantic - The Pixies
Once in a Lifetime - The Talking Heads
Nothing Compares to You - Sinead O'Connor
Shadowboxer - Fiona Apple
Blackbird - The Beatles
Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks
If it Kills Me - Jason Mraz
Only the Good Die Young - Billy Joel
Mona Lisa's and Mad Hatters - Elton John



Friday, September 21, 2012

Realizing you are a storyteller (despite your best efforts).

So, while having a quick chat online with Jimmy Blackwell (...go ahead, click on it and check out some of his writing. Do it.) about writing dialogue for fiction pieces, he said/wrote this particular phrase that jumped up and punched me in the throat. He said, "Rather those who possess the skill to tell a captivating story have the power to tame the world". WHOA! Even though I am total crap at writing dialogue, I know when an opportunity for a poem is knocking on my door. I did what any normal girl would do and proposed that we each take that line and come up with a piece based on it, and then see what happens. We gave ourselves a week.

Well, it has been a week and here is my piece titled, The Storyteller:

Storyteller. Yes, a story yeller.
From the rooftops to the rocking chairs.
I am.
The believer, doer, knower, feeler.
Dream painter, heart healer
risk maker, and love taker.
I am all of this and so are you.

Words falling from my mouth like rain.
Catch them on your tongue; taste my smiles
for they should not be given in vain. Drugged as you want to be.
Numb. My words
are equal to and greater than novocaine. 

Hands failing around. Directing this choir of old stories
to be heard by your ears only. Fingertips punctuating each secret
and every joke. Telling you things
I wish you wouldn't know. Didn't know. Won't care.

Story of her and them; but mostly of us.
Of full truths,
half lies, mighty tries, of burgers and fries.
Of then and now.
Where and how.
Wasn’t it just like you were there?

Let me tell you one more story. I’ll share,
if you’ll stare
at me just like that for 15 minutes.
This story is like a coat to wear.

I promise. 
Something to hold. 
Keep out the cold.
Like the greatest story you never told
me.

And never will. 
 
Storyteller with magic in my hands.
But the
truth is in your eyes
and
anticipation in your heart.
With
out these stories, these memories
I find it hard to trust
that cosmos giggle
that ghosts float
that angels descend
and that lives are lived outside the lines of my college ruled paper.

Won't you let me spin you a tale
using my hair as the fiber that binds us together
like bad magic.
You sing.
I’ll dance.

Just for tonight.

(Here is the link to Jimmy's piece: "More Than Words")

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Creative Writing" (No eye rolling or sighing implied)

Do you ever get the feeling that when people talk about creative writing, they are implying air-quotes? Like "Creative Writing" (sigh, eye roll, air quotes)? As if it is something to be mocked?

I really don't think they understand that creative writing is much more than sonnets, soliloquies, and iambic pentameter. It is song lyrics, movie scripts, and stand up comedy routines. It is fortune cookie slips, advertising copy, and op-ed pieces.

Know what you don't ever hear: "I'm sorry, did I hear that correctly? You're a rocket scientist? How useful is that in everyday life? I can't believe your parents supported that college major!".  Sheesh. To each their own, right?

Yes. I am a writer. A creative one at that.

A friend of mine found this on the interwebs and sent it to me. Yes, she was also an English major in college. How'd you guess?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zodiac Exercise #7 - Cancer


What a way to spend my lunch hour, eh?  Here's the seventh part to my Zodiac writing prompt exercise titled, Contra:

Your memory is uncanny. How do you recall these details?
The extra fine curves and lines of the lies we happily told each other.
The way you can describe our first meeting makes me nervous.
I remember it much differently. And with difficulty.

I thought you wanted only yourself for company. Possibly your scotch.
That I wasn't good enough. Not funny enough. Not clever. Not captivating.
Now I find you wanted me as more. As all. As yours. Definitely not his.

Living inside past memories and dreams of the future is dangerous.
(For both of us.)
Why remain silent about the here and now?

I am not a bird in a cage to set free and watch.
Not serendipity in human form. Arms out and fingers grabbing for chances.
If you want me, show me. Come and get me

As a woman, I may be a contradiction.
But you, are just plain contrary.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Honesty is the best policy...

...unless you are going to say something negative about me. Then you can just keep it to yourself.
No, no. Seriously. I need to be honest here. I have not submitted a single piece of writing since June. There, I said it.

It seems like I have been writing some new stuff and editing some existing pieces, but I have simply been too lazy to submit. That is all there is to it. I am not nervous about submission and am not anxious about rejection letters - I am just being lazy. This is a seriously sad state of affairs because I will certainly never get published if I don't submit. I recognize this vicious circle and have instead opted to watch episodes of Weeds on Netflix.

Well, no time like the present to make some changes. Guess I'll go look at my submission spreadsheet (Yes, spreadsheet. Don't judge me.) and get my ass in gear.


Here is my dog Jasper being as lazy as I feel. It is possible that his reluctance to help me fold laundry is due to his lack of opposable thumbs. 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Walk right in, sit right down


So, there I was, walking around the neighborhood and minding my own business when I saw this old blue chair stashed in the way back of a yard. It wasn't too far from my house so I hustled back and grabbed my camera. This blue metal chair looked to me like something that belonged on a movie set somewhere down south. I'm thinking on the bayou, maybe? It looked like a chair that I should sit in and think about things. Every-little-thing. All of the things.

At any rate, I got to thinking and you know what happens then...either awesome things or terrible things...In this case, it turned out to be just mediocre things. However, some of those mediocre things might make for a good poem some day. Here are some of the lines and phrases I thought of:
  • Sucked into a pull with no control - can't push. But these reflexes are simple: fight or flight.
  • Flayed by the sharp lash of your tongue and scarred by the daggers in your eyes.
  • Is it really and truly a second chance when you never wanted to give the first?
It is a good chair. Now that I know it exists, I see it everyday on my way to the bus stop. Everyday it makes me think about poems, traveling to Louisiana, maybe learning French, and about the merits of a good chair.

Looked like a good place to sit down and do some thinkin'. Photo credit: Jennifer Klein 2012.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This is gonna be so rad. (Yes, I said "rad".)

I am trying something totally new. You see, I have this very dear friend of mine, Zachary Chipps, who has started a non profit organization called, RISE. He and his friend Thomas Brown are bicycling their way across the United States to raise awareness about suicide, suicide prevention, and the healing power of art. I am not going to go into too much detail about them and their mission, but if you want to know more please visit their website, look 'em up on Facebook, Twitter, and/or YouTube. Seriously, it's pretty impressive what they've done and are continuing to do.

Okay, I am digressing. Sorry.

As Zak has been riding his way across the country from San Francisco to New York, I've been listening to his story over the phone, on Skype, and by picking up little bits and pieces through the blog, videos, and Facebook posts. I am literally writing as they are riding. Trying to capture the nuances of their ups and downs, successes and let downs as they go. The awesome thing about this particular writing process, is that I cannot move forward until they do. I honestly do not know what is going to come next. They plan to wrap up their ride on September 30th, 2012.  I have about another month and a half before I can think about finishing this particular piece. Crazy, right? Especially when you realize they started on March 1st, 2012.

I am so anxious to figure out how this particular piece is going to end!  Gah, the suspense is almost too much...but no worries, as soon as it is done I will absolutely post it here or link to it or something. I'll figure that out later.

Here is a picture of Zak and I at a wedding reception for a friend of ours in April 2012. Seriously guys, we've been friends for 11 years. For someone to tolerate me that long who is not my parent, sibling, or husband? Must be a great friend, indeed. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Zodiac Exercise #6 - Gemini

Well, July happened. So, there's that. Hello August - may I introduce you to my next writing prompt? Excellent. Here it is...titled, "Twin Curiosities"

Discussed, dissected, and doubted.
I've learned this is how you like it.
To be talked about, fawned over, leaned on, learned from.
Center of it all.

Twin faces in the mirror of watchful gazes.
I can see both of you at a glance.
But when I squint my eyes - just as if I were looking at the sun -
- that is when you come into focus.



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Because it's hilarious, that's why.

Okay, let me give you a little bit of back story. My friend (and coincidentally, my cousin) was able to secure some tickets to a Counting Crows concert and she ever so graciously invited me to attend with her. We arrived to the outdoor concert area a touch early to find good parking and pick up our tickets, so we killed some time by meandering around the park.

That is when we stumbled upon this little nugget of comedy gold:

Get it? Vanna White? Bahahahaha!
VANNA WHITE!!!!  You cannot tell me this is not hilarious! I am guessing this was but one of the many vans from the opening acts. I absolutely used to openly make fun of those girls in high school who would name their cars. Thought is was hysterical when grown men would refer to their muscle cars with a feminine pronoun - - but all of that pretentious and snotty attitude has been erased! Because this is EPIC.

Well played musicians and concert crew. Well played, indeed. She is a thing of beauty to be treasured always.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dammit. I just need an hour. (Among other things.)

Really, all I ask for is an hour to myself (that and a computer, pot of coffee, music, and my notebook. Okay, and maybe some Chic-O-Sticks.). I can get so much done! For real. I promise.

All throughout the day/week/month I keep tidbits and snippits of phrases and turns of words that I like in a spiral bound notebook. Then I like to sit down at my computer with really loud music and put them into an electronic word document with no thought process - just plain old transcription.  THEN I go back through and edit the shit out of that hot mess and make some poems.

But I just need that one room and that magical hour to myself! For me, this is probably the hardest part of being a poet - finding time for the fine tuning. In the grand scheme of things this seems like such a trite complaint. But dammit, right now I am frustrated and this is what happens: I get to rant about it on my blog. (Isn't that the whole point of the interwebs!?! Well, that and making memes.)

In case you are wondering  - - this is what my current notebook looks like. I feel like Harriet the Spy when I take it out of my bag and begin writing in public. It's pretty awesome.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I shit you not - - it made me blush.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day and somehow we ended up talking about what makes us happy in life (you know, other than the obvious things like our spouses and children). My friend was so exuberant in their passion for art (a fairly traditional "artist" if you will with the painting and the drawing and whatnot). It was infectious and contagious. So I started talking about my writing and poetry and how it made me feel and my hopes and wants and...then they were just staring at me...and then it happened.  I BLUSHED!

If you know me, you know that I cuss like a foul mouthed trucker, have no qualms about a good and perverted joke, and am generally a crass person. But apparently when speaking about my poetry and writing I turn all soft and gooey, and this "softer side" of me is shocking to folks. Seeing this amazement register so plainly on a person's face because they figured out that I have emotions MADE ME BLUSH!

Please keep in mind:
  • I have given birth and an audience of folks crowded around my nether-regions didn't make me blush.
  • On my wedding day, the minister forget my name during the exchange of our wedding vows - in front of God and everyone - and there was no blushing.
  • Awkward conversation with a former governor of Nebraska about the merits of walking in parades and chopping wood? Nary a crimson cheek to be found.
  • When I was 8 years old a bank teller looked at my Mother and said, "here's a Dum-Dum for your son, ma'am." - - Yep, I'm most definitely female and I only remember being happy to get a free sucker. This event simply resulted in a red tongue, not red cheeks.
  • Was definitely busted singing and dancing by my husband and his manly friends as we were painting our house. (If they had been listening to "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson - they would have been dancing, too.) Still didn't blush.
However, when a friend figured out that I have feelings, think about romance, and am generally in love with love? Beet red all over and flames up to the tips of my ears. I shit you not - - I blushed.

What is the moral of this story, you ask? Well, I am not entirely sure. It might have something to do with being comfortable in my own skin. Or possibly not letting folks make me second guess my hopes and dreams. It could even be something as cliche as "don't judge a book by its cover". Whenever I figure it out, hopefully it doesn't make me blush. Cripes...

Even Transformers feel sympathy embarrassment for me...d'oh.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Holy Bananas! Happy Anniversary, Blog!

Well holy shit! 

Can you believe that it has already been one entire year since I started this little blog?  That's right, on May 31, 2011 I decided that I needed a little accountability in my writing world and "loose leaf and spiral bound" was born...

So, I'm sure you're wondering if it worked, right?  As of today, I am happy to report that I have in fact kept the promise I made to myself and have sent out poems each and every-single-frickin' month.  BAM!  That's right folks, I have submitted to eleven different literary journals and magazines and will be mailing number twelve tomorrow (because why wouldn't I procrastinate until the very last minute of the very last day of the month). Again I say to you, and with borderline excessive enthusiasm, BAM!

In all honesty, I am very proud of my meager success.  No, I haven't been picked up for publishing yet (suck) but I have managed to set a goal and keep it (yay). Along the way I have attracted some visitors to this random blog (still stunned by this) and for some reason these people keep coming back (y'all are nuts)!  For this I say, "thank you" and hope you take my gratitude seriously. I know I joke around quite a bit and protect myself with a heavy layer of sarcasm, but I am just an over-anxious, obsessive compulsive woman who definitely worries if she's good enough to make it in the world of Poetry with a capital 'P'. This blog is a small slice of that previously mentioned meager writing success and I am grateful to those who support it by clicks, visits, browses, forwards, links, etc.

Here's to another year of writing and submitting...and (fingers-crossed) publishing.

In honor of celebrating anniversaries - here is a photo me and the hubs celebrating our anniversary.  Awww! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Zodiac Exercise #5 - Taurus

Hey there writing exercise! Long time, no see! To pick up where I last left off - - here we go with #5, titled...

In a bind
You call yourself independent. What you are is isolated.
Never wanting me to take the lead, but never wanting to be left behind.
I can see you debating me, but I cannot see your intent.
Will you love me so fiercely? Push me to be my best for you?
And why? For my gain or your pride?
You expect reciprocity without earning it.
Because you are stubborn...
and foolish...
and dammit, you are loyal.
This loyalty will be the tie that binds. A chain holding me to you.
And you to your independence.



Saturday, May 12, 2012

Reading instead of writing. It's like filling up the gas tank.

I have used the past few days (or if I am being honest, the past week) to focus on reading instead of writing. Sometimes you need to refill the gas tank, right? Right.

What did I read, you ask? Well, I'll tell you...I read the Hunger Games trilogy (yeah, I finally jumped on that train), then I re-read "The Summer of Black Widows" by Sherman Alexie, "Bite Me" by Christopher Moore, and then I devoured "The Gargoyle" by Andrew Davidson (so good!). It's true that only one of those books is a collection of poetry - - but to me it doesn't matter the genre, only that I am reading.

It seems imperative to expose yourself (heh, not like that you dirty bird) to as many different lives, dreams, opinions, and stories as possible. You'll never experience everything all on your own, sometimes you've got to hear it from someone else. After all, isn't that one of the reasons why people write?  To share their story in hopes of connecting with someone else and pulling emotion from a complete stranger?

Monday, April 30, 2012

More than I can hold

Some days I want to write it all down and get it all out because it hurts to keep it all in...whatever "it" may be.

There is significant frustration that comes from not being able to adequately convey feelings through simple words. For every second wasted thinking over synonyms is a second more that the frustration and anger can fill up and take over the original emotion you were writing about. You must bring yourself back to the exact moment you first felt compelled to write, center yourself, and start fresh. There are days when I have more inside my head and heart than I can hold.

It may seem as though I am phoning it in with this blog post - but it's been a struggle to identify exactly how I feel these past few days and what kind of mood this is. It feels like cobwebs on my face and I can't quite pull them away to examine them up close. Once I get it together, there should be a poem waiting for me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sharing the Joshua Tree

Okay gang.  It's been quite some time since I have posted.  No more chit-chat. Here we go.

Once again, I called upon my friend Zak to supply me with a picture to use as a writing prompt. He did not fail me.

So, here is the photo...
"Desert near Joshua Tree" Photo credit: Zachary Chipps 2012

And here is my piece titled, "Sharing the Joshua Tree"...

Deserts are never deserted. This isolation is all in your head.
No one could be alone here.
Not really. Even when you try.
This is the land of solace. No pretenses.
You will be seen, but not judged. You will be weighed, but not measured.
This place doesn't care if you remember your dreams. Only that you have them.
Just open your eyes and go.
Follow the horizon divide, mountainside, or center line. It's all the same as long as you are going.
Somewhere. Anywhere.
I will share my Joshua Tree with you.
Because we are never alone here. Not really.
Even when we try.



Sunday, April 1, 2012

Now I know what is *NOT* helpful mood music

Let me take you back. Thursday night. The plan fell into place perfectly. Serendipity at its finest. Husband left for some night fishing, daughter was doing her nightly reading, the dogs were outside - - all was quiet and well. I thought to myself, "Jenn, what a perfect time to put down on paper all those thoughts rattling around in your head." So I did.  And for 20 minutes it was glorious...

Then I was startled out of my skivvies by the incredibly loud kitchen timer my child sets to indicate she has done her required reading. Yes, my 20 minutes of quiet time were over. That sweet child of mine looked at me with her big baby blues and said, "Is it okay if I watch some music videos on YouTube before bed? I'll keep it down so you can finish writing (blink, blink, smile)." Oh, do you think I could deny her? No. The answer is no.

Usually, I can handle music in the background. In fact, there are times I purposely play music while writing. It can help set a mood or tone for me. Do you know what kind of music does not set a helpful writing mood and is impossible to ignore? DISNEY MOVIE SONGS. That's right. I said it. Disney songs. Apparently I cannot concentrate when "Under the Sea", "A Whole New World", "Be Our Guest", and "Hakuna Matata" are playing. At first, I found my eyes gravitating towards our computer screen. Then I was mouthing the words. Next came the head bobbing. Followed by the "saying" of the lyrics. By the time she was on the fourth or fifth song I had my chair snug up against hers, singing my face off, and my "give a shit" meter was firmly pegged at zero. Ugh. I couldn't even be bothered with embarrassment. Never mind the fact that I was smack in the middle of what could possibly turn out to be one of my better pieces of work to date. Let's stop everything and sing about effing flying carpets and dancing crabs! Alas. This is my life. As the talking candlestick said to the genie of the lamp, "The seaweed is always greener in somebody else's lake,"...or something like that. Whatever.  Don't judge me. Hakuna Matata.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Zodiac Exercise #4 - Aries

Alright, installment number four in my writing exercise. This time I am going for the "stream of conscious" paragraph form. It's a little different than my usual style, but it definitely serves a purpose in a writer's arsenal.

Without further ado, here is Zodiac exercise #4 titled, You cannot stand to lose:


Stubborn and stern. Cannot fathom being wrong. When will it be my turn? My chance to steer this ship, my time to plot our course, my right to speak and be heard above your noise. I promise to make a mad dash for my finish line behind your back. Don't blink. It's not that you trust me so much, it's that you think of me so little. Remember: those who go unnoticed are those who move mountains and make your kingdoms crumble. So stubborn and stern. Unyielding and firm. Cannot abide weakness. These things we hold in common. When will you stop talking rather than demand others to speak less. Your single battle is but a sideshow in my perfect war. You cannot stand to lose.  I refuse to fall.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Productive? Maybe. A little. Well...sort of.

Okay, I really did slack off during the month of February in terms of having "submission-ready" pieces, well, ready to submit. Sorry. I suck. It happens and I've already moved on from my guilt.

HOWEVER, what I did do was put out a few good writing exercises, asked a friend to read over some of my work for the first time, and met with one of my former college professors. Both of these things were time well spent and are currently helping me get on track to submit for March.  Perhaps I will take the advice given to me and begin doing multiple submissions. The more pieces I get out there to more places should only increase my chances of getting a "yes", right? Seems logical.

Like I said, maybe not so productive in one area (ahem...cough *submitting* cough), but totally nailed it in others. This trying to get published business is not all frivolity, lattes, and quite moments of epic pondering. It's work...but worth it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Wait. Who isn't concerned about a zombie apocalypse?

I am taking a break from poetry today. Thus the random blog post. Enjoy.

There are quite a few folks out there obsessively planning for impending doom - apocalypse if you will - brought on by zombies.  These folks are planning in terms of weapons and warfare. I am planning in terms of play list. That's right, I am creating the perfect "mixed tape" for the Zombie Apocalypse. I have solicited opinions from friends, co-workers, and family.

Here's the list so far:

Disturbia, Rhianna
Tighten Up, Black Keys
Teeth, Lady Gaga
Feel Good Inc., Gorillaz
Machine Head, Bush
Crazy, Gnarls Barkely
Hard Knock Life, Jay-Z
Tik Tok, Ke$ha
Is There a Ghost, Band of Horses
Sabotage, Beastie Boys
Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry
Lazy Song, Bruno Mars
Rappers Delight, Sugar Hill Gang
1979, Smashing Pumpkins
Rooster, Alice in chains
Blackbird, The Beatles
End of the World as We Know It, REM (...duh)

Feel free to make additions as you see fit.  Let me know what I'm missing...

Photo from icanhascheezburger.com

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Zodiac Exercise #3 - Pisces

Yes, it is that time again. Time for the third installment of my Zodiac writing exercise. (You'll notice that Capricorn was an acrostic poem, Aquarius attempted some mild rhyming, and Pisces will go the sestina route.  Well, sort of. This will be a bastardized version of a sestina.) Okay, I am choosing five words that relate to Pisces. I'll use them in order 1-5 as the last word of each line for one stanza, then 5-1 as the last word of each line for another stanza, then I'll jumble them all up for two lines as my ending. Ready? 

Here are my words:
  1. secrets
  2. dream
  3. feel
  4. water
  5. two
Here is my poem titled, Duo:

Between us we keep space, but no secrets.
Against our skin the world feels harsh; needing the blurred lines of a dream.
Edges are too sharp for touching and I cannot feel.
My tears and your laughter, both flowing like water.
Knowing what comes next is step two.

Knowing the pieces of my whole equals us, just two.
I can easily swim through your thoughts like a fish in water.
You can hear it, but tell me how you feel.
We both hate this dream.
Wishing for youthful secrets.

This secret and lonely dream feels a bit like trying to pour water
from one large pitcher into little tiny glasses without spilling.
A now uncomfortable dinner for two.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Between a rock and a hard place

I took a round about way to fixing my mental block and asked a very dear friend of mine to please send a few pictures that I could use for writing prompts.  He quickly recognized the importance of this request and graciously acquiesced.  What a good friend, eh?  So, here is the photo...

Photo credit: Zachary Chipps 2012
And here is my accompanying piece of poetry, aptly titled: Between a Rock and a Hard Place...

There is more to living than just growing.
Thriving, defying, gaining; becoming something stronger.
This is bold.

It is not how you surround yourself.  Protect yourself.
More than that, it is where you put down roots.
How far you let them go.
How deep.

Not delicate.  This one, blooming in full sun.
Throwing its petals out, face up, and owning the heat.
Feeling the glory.
A small victory at every sunset.
A new defeat every day.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Zodiac Exercise #2 - Aquarius

Okay guys and dolls, I know that it has been a while since I last posted anything.  Apologies all around.  However, after a busy weekend, I now have a stunning new kitchen so I don't really feel all that guilty.  Alas, I have not forgotten my quest for the Zodiac exercise.  Now ladies and gents, I present the second installment...and I warn you that rhyming is not my strong suit.  (Unless I do it in jest.  Then, I am the best.  See what I did just there?)

Aquarius: a rhyme of moderately epic proportions

I seem to be the beast.  This, my burden to bear.
Carrying a delicate but sturdy jug, brimming with a grandmother's hopes,
a teacher's plans, and a soldier's fears.
My vessel drawn with images of happiness, colored by despair.

Spill not one small wet bead.
As each is a precious piece of more.
Wishes, lies, and fate.
All cautioning to slow down and take heed.

Mustn't resent the work, the load, the responsibility.
It's done for humanity.
My humility.

Cleansing all; wash away these sins of days went by and gone.
My duty lasting from the first peek of the sun, to the full smile of the moon.
For ever after and ever long.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Five. It's not such a bad number.

Yes...five.  The number of rejection letters I have collected to date.  Instead of being upset by this number, I have decided to think of things that are awesome about five.  As in, without it, there would be no high-fives, no five fingered discounts, and no band called "Five for Fighting".  (Though I don't think that last one would pain me so much.)  No Five Alive juice, no Five for $5.55 deals, and no chance to "take five". 

To be honest, I must tell you that I am a little discouraged by getting five "thanks, but no thanks" letters.  However, all it will take is just one "Yes, Please" and all of this will be forgotten...like yesterday's five o'clock news.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Zodiac Exercise #1 - Capricorn

Okay, here's entry #1.  I present to you Capricorn.

Now, keep in mind that I don't love the whole thing overall, but there are a few lines that I like and just might pull out of there and start something new.  I like the way, "careful to a fault, reckless to precision" sounds.  It brings to mind a  very different image.  But, if in nine lines I found one that spurs on something bigger and better, this exercise can be called a success.  BAM!

(Correction: sigh...line 7...*may be plain....this is what happens when you try to make things purty and argue with your child simultaneously.)


"Capricorn".  Copyright - Jennifer Klein. 2012. 


Friday, February 3, 2012

Inspiration is a fickle mistress

I've been struggling with the quality of my writing (or lack thereof) for about a week now.  I still haven't totally climbed out of the dreaded vortex of writer's block and the things that used to be a "can't miss" for inspiration are not even showing up on the target.  Clearly, inspiration is indeed a fickle mistress.  I feel wrong trying to ply her with alcohol.  Even worse when I play songs only for the express purpose of getting her to dance.  (Read: drinking frozen pouches of margaritas and dancing around to INXS will not always bring forth your muse.)  Don't get me wrong, I'm still writing and "dear diary-ing" like an angst-riddled teenager, but I haven't put anything down that gives me the tingles. 

It seems like the new thing to try these days is one of those one-a-day challenges pertaining to your specific medium of choice.  But I don't think I want to jump on that bandwagon.  It seems a bit intimidating.  Perhaps I should start smaller.  I'm thinking the signs of the zodiac will do as there are only twelve of those suckers.  If I churn out one a day, that is less than two weeks.  I can commit to twelve days.  Okay.  Here we go.  Starting on my lunch break today with Capricorn. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Yeah - totally missed the mark on that one.

So, I have joined my office's "100 Days of Wellness" team.  We are supposed to compete with other teams by logging our daily activity minutes.  We really do this in hopes of winning fantastic prizes, and perhaps maybe, we'll develop a habit of exercising.  I decided that I would do a combination of walking and yoga/stretching because a) I sure as shit am not running unless there is a slobbering, foaming, and clearly rabid dog chasing after me, and b) I thought the yoga/stretching would also give me the opportunity to clear out the noise in my head for a bit.  Maybe if I could clear out some of the debris, I would have more room for creative images and ideas.  HA!  Yeah, it absolutely doesn't happen that way for me.  In terms of calm and quiet yoga, that is.  I can walk just fine, thank you very much.

Let me paint you a picture of how 15 minutes of yoga goes for me...

Me: "DOGS!!  Go on!  Seriously, just because I am sitting on the floor does not mean I am issuing and open invitation to lick my face!  GET. AWAY!


Dogs: (sad faces all around)


Daughter: "MOM! Can I have some cereal?"  (Doesn't matter what time of day - this is a legitimate question.)


Me: "Seriously? I am trying to do yoga, hence the pants.  Can you wait 15 minutes?  Or better yet, go ask your Dad!"


Me, again:  "For the love of Pete, will someone please put the dogs outside?  For like, 15 minutes? Thank you!"


Daughter: "MOM! Will you play walkie-talkies with me?"


Me: (no words now, just 'the look'.)


Daughter: "Sheesh.  Okay.  Fine"


Me: (finally in a yoga ready position - commencing brain emptying sequence - deep breath....aahhhhh)


Inner Voice:  "You look like an idiot."


Me:  "Can it.  I am shooting for clarity, relaxation, building my flexibility, etc.  It's not about how the yoga pants look on my ass, it's about the yoga."


Inner Voice:  "Riiiigghht.  Also, I am not talking about the pants.  You look like an idiot."


Me: "Zip it, Inner Voice.  Okay.  Breath in... out... in... Sweeeet Caroliiiine (Bah, Bah, Bah) good times never seemed so good....DAMMIT!  Focus..."


Husband:  "Hey!  Have you seen the dogs?  (confused look)  What are you doing on the floor?"


Me:  "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!  I just wanted to do 15 minutes of calming yoga.  Never mind.  The dogs are outside and our daughter would like some cereal."


Husband: "Hey, I like those pants..."


Me: (face palm)


THE END. 

Note to self:  Start doing yoga alone, behind closed doors, while every breathing occupant of my house is sleeping.  Also, yoga may not be conducive to creativity.  At least not yet...

Monday, January 23, 2012

The tricky thing about poetry...

...is that it is all so subjective and relative.  You don't get measured based on a certain rubric when you submit a poem for publication.  The editors don't send back to you a grading sheet that says, "while you meet standard criteria for areas A, B, and C, we found you severely lacking in area D."  Wouldn't that be nice?  To get some specific feedback that you could work with and then be able to make changes that would significantly increase your chances of publication?  Instead, it seems you blindly submit a poem to publication after publication, never really knowing if you should make any edits between submission #1 and resubmission #38. 

A friend of mine suggested that I find a mentor.  Someone who is "in the game" of publishing poetry who would be willing take me under their literary wing and offer constructive criticism as well as guidance.  This is probably good advice.  My road block here is that I don't know where to begin hunting this person down.  Of course I could attempt to be in touch with some of my professors from college - - but those might turn in to awkward little mini speed dating emails.  ("Hi, remember me from 5-7 years ago?  I was a spunky little undergrad who wore red cat-eyed glasses, overalls, and had an unhealthy obsession with the Beat poets?  I'm all growed up now. Wanna help me become a published poet?")  But perhaps the smart move would be to seek a poet who has a similar vibe as moi.  This will be an epic adventure.  Where's Waldo meets Carmen Sandiego, plus I spy. 

Alas.  To distract myself from the self-doubt and oncoming pity party from another rejection letter (#4, but hey, who's counting?), I'll begin pondering this idea of finding a mentor.  Google, here I come...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I think I'd rather dig my eyes out with spoons...

Let me tell you about how miserably I am failing at writing poems of substance this week.

I AM FAILING MISERABLY AT WRITING POEMS OF SUBSTANCE THIS WEEK!  (So. Bad.) 

Folks, I have reached the point where I would rather dig my eyes out with spoons than open up my notebook and do nothing more than stare at blank pages.  Or, open my notebook and force myself to start writing, only to find that I am writing total crap.  I mean, some of the lines I have been churning out read like stuff I would have puked up in the 9th grade after being dumped by a boy with better hair than I, followed by listening to my Lisa Loeb and Cranberries CD's on repeat.  Ick.  Let me tell ya, that is not a good head space to be in when trying to write decent poetry. 

At any rate, I'm going to wrap up this little jewel of a blog post and take the rest of the day off from reading and/or writing poetry.  Perhaps tomorrow will prove more fruitful.  In the meanwhile, imma go dig out my Cranberries CD and "let it linger".  (Yes, I have to.  Yes, I have to.  Yes, I have to let it linger.)  Ahahahahaha!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New year, same old me.

I know lots and lots of folks out there resolving to go the "new year = new me" route.  I, however, am going to go the "new year, same me" route.  It's taken quite a while to reach this place where I am comfortable in my skin and with my thoughts - I'd rather not leave so soon.  Honestly, it's been pretty stressful breaking through the wall of fear and putting my writing out where the world can read it (and judge it), but I don't want to go back to holding it all in.

So for 2012, I am not resolving to change anything.  Not one thing.  I am instead going to stay the course and keep up with my goal of submitting pieces for publication once a month.  That seems like a better resolution to me.  I resolve to be resolute?  Eh, whatever.  Bring it on 2012.  I'm ready.  (You can't see me doing it, but I am giving it the old Hulk-a-mania stance...yeah, you're welcome for that mental picture.)