story

the fly

the fly on the wall

cried when you

turned away

not even bothering

to swat

at her beautiful

iridescent torso

.

she cried droplets

of blood

one by one

but they were trodden into

the library carpet as you

all strode by

an elated erudite cluster

the fly too round

too silent

too obtrusive

the only appropriate

treatment was to

put her on ignore

.

the few small words

she scratched with

unevenly sharpened

eyebrow pencil

appeared to yell so

she smeared them

with the application of a

circus

filter

.

no part of her was fit

for human consumption

this side of the grave

only posthumously

would she be given

a nod

.

.

.

for the author of State of Fragility

(clue to having a fun life: pay attention to the quiet people around you. include them in your games or quiet activities.)

story

Three Girls in a Cherry Tree

As teenagers, my sisters and I picked fruit for summer work near Fruitland, Ontario. We foolishly wore shorts and the backs of our legs burned bright red. Normally, cherries are pulled straight off the stems, but no one told us what to do; they assumed we knew. As a result, we picked basketfuls of cherries with the stems on and the farmer had to sell our harvest at his roadside fruit-stand rather than including the fruit in his shipment to E.D. Smith’s jam factory. We were embarrassed. This poem is written in lower diction as we were young teens.

.

Three Girls in a Cherry Tree

.

We three sisters rode in a truck

To orchards humming honey

In July’s dawn

Three girls

Three ladders

Three baskets full

We sweet fruit savoured

Till our cheeks stained suit

Fingers pulled stems

All day long

Cold drinks from water pails

Tin ladle song

Red fingers

Red lips

Red legs

Red faces

Farmer sold cherries

At roadside station

*Inspired by Theodore Roethke’s writings about his childhood

Photo by Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash

Have fun playing around with words, words from your childhood experiences!

story

Bird Cats

I haven’t written a line of new poetry since last November, but I have spent a lot of time editing poems and submitting them to various literary magazines, online and print, through Submittable. Submissions to some publications are free, others ask for a “tip,” and still others have entry fees particularly if they are calls for contest entries.

Some of the lit mags promise to put your poem or story at the front of the queue if you tip them. I tried this with several poems. The beauty of this process is that you can submit on a Saturday and get rejected by Tuesday. There is less wondering over weeks and weeks.

I am going to see how many rejections I can amass. The tricky part is keeping track of them all. I purchased a notebook for this purpose, but I can’t find it now, so I decided to tuck all of the rejection emails into one folder in my email account. I’m not sure if there is some sort of rite of passage about rejections. If I pass the 100 count, will I get a “Get out of jail” card?

I believe there are many variables to a submission’s acceptance. I think it has to do with who one knows, or the mission and purpose of the magazine, personal taste, what colour the sky is, and of course, which way you faced when you wrote it. [smiles]

Some lit mags are produced by universities and not surprisingly give preference to their own students and alumni. Others prefer to publish those who have volunteered their time with them, or people they know personally. Other than those submissions, editors are looking for work that pops for some reason.

At times, the pop is from a unique voice from far away, from a subtle or not so subtle political position. A pop may also be a shock such as a death (that one has been done to death), or even unique or eloquent word-craft. Lately, poetry seems to be focusing more than ever on how empty space on the page is used. But it has to make sense. Here is an example I wrote as child’s play.

Bird Cats

the cats scratch at the spring door

the warm door

longing to                           B A S K

to   s t a l k

to h u n t

to r—o-am

breaking/with

the imposed winter hiatus and bland kibble

finally

the sun-soaked door opens

they run                                                        in opposite [ directions

                                                       ] directions

one for the robins’ nest

the other for the ravens’ nest

on top of the tree

Only one comes home

____________________

This kind of poem is fun for children to write.

Millie and Bo, my bird cats, as they were.

______________________

Instead of watching the news, read a good book. Who says living in a dreamland is a bad idea?