nan lundeen

ice storm

by nan lundeen

 

dogwood by Ron DeKett
dogwood by Ron DeKett

The weather’s unsettled on Easter Eve

like a restless cow about to calve,

the land licked clean by heady winds.

By early evening

sleet takes the land

collects on branches

slicks old snow

burdens old limbs—

conquered

they conjure thunderous cracks

like mindless destruction.

Lights flicker off

a match flares

a kerosene lantern

a smoke-smeared chimney.

The dark kitchen presses

in on Mother, Daddy, and me

huddled in a puddle of light

over eggs, the tang of vinegar

in cups of

rose

blue

yellow

green.

One by one

we balance them

on spoons,

lift them into the night.

she of many names

by nan lundeen

Quan Yin
Quan Yin

She is called Quan Yin,
She is called Tara,
She is called Mary,

Hers are the believing arms wrapped around a raped teenager
Hers is the cool night blessing a disturbed mind
Hers is the today no of the father who turns down a beer

Hers is the mercy of the last breath
Hers is the forgiveness in a lover’s heart
She births the hope in every soul.

We are She.
We are One.
Glory be.

the death of coulda-shoulda

Mountain View Cemetery in snow by Ron DeKett
Mountain View Cemetery in snow by Ron DeKett

Trucker stalled on expressway being interviewed on NBC news during snowstorm: “You gotta take what the road gives you. Go slow, be patient, and you’ll make it through.”

I’m sure there’s a country-western song that says, “You gotta take what the road gives you,” and if there isn’t there oughta be.

Do you have couldas and shouldas you’d like to join me in burying? If you’re willing to share, please comment at the end of this blog.

At this stage in my writing life, I look back now and then and wonder at my choices. My love of poetry started in my Iowa childhood when I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses to my mother while she milked cows. In grad school, poetry saw me through tough personal times. Throughout a long journalism career, it gave me an outlet for my artistic freedom, denied by the rigors of objectivity and fairness. My task was to blast out inches to fill newspaper columns. “How many inches?” was a daily question I asked my editors. At times, I felt like an automaton.

When I went freelance for a time, my mother admonished me not to try to write fiction because I’d never make a living at it. Maybe I shoulda been an English teacher? Maybe I coulda been something better than I was?

Now in retirement, I remember a few things I did as a journalist that were useful, such as a series of stories in Michigan revealing contamination of local residents’ well water by a county-owned landfill. Public water lines were laid for those whose wells were polluted. The residents sent me flowers, which I had to give away, of course, but I remember how welcome they were.

Yes, maybe I coulda, maybe I shoulda, but I do know that I dida at least that one thing that was good, so I’m burying the couldas, the shouldas, and I’m happy for what the road gives me. Just today I received an email from a reader I don’t know who asked permission to use one of my poems from The Pantyhose Declarations in a Becoming Women of Wisdom group. She made my day! Here and now, the road gives me a sustaining community of writers and artists who help me believe every day my life is worthwhile.

Moo.

the end is in sight!

art copyright Cynthia Morgan
art copyright Cynthia Morgan

 

Hi! I’m Nan Lundeen’s Moos. We have been very busy, she and I, rewriting and editing our handbook, Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential. She asked me if I’m familiar with the concept of eternity. I was not until she explained that’s how long this end process is taking. We started the final rewrite/edit in August of 2013. The Spartanburg Chapter of the SC Writers Workshop critiqued it chapter by chapter. Whew! Then, the Moo critique group in Greer critiqued the rewrite chapter by chapter. Then her friend, Mary Ellen Lives, critiqued the whole book again. In between, Nan published her book, Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir (after tons and tons of proofing and correcting). Nan’s husband, Ron DeKett, read Moo rewrites until the cows came home! We were getting mighty tired of the process. Good thing I’m a laid-back cow and able to nap while Nan works. She woke me yesterday to tell me she’s sent the final-final-final-revised-revised-revised ms. to John Adam Wickliffe, our computer guru, who designs, paginates, and does all sorts of useful stuff to get it off to CreateSpace, our print-on-demand publisher. Goodness only knows how many proofs from CreateSpace Nan will read before she finally launches this handbook at Joe’s Place in Greenville. I’ll keep you posted. Oh, and she says thanks very, very, very much to all the critiquers! Please leave us a comment. Adamy Damaris Diaz of Artistik Dreamlife, our talented administrator of this site, has changed the rules so folks can comment without registering. We’d all like to know if that works. Moo.

a walk in the woods on winter solstice

Winter Solstice Tree at Paris Mountain  by Ron DeKett
Winter Solstice Tree at Paris Mountain
by Ron DeKett

Appreciating the sacred is for me a walk along a path at Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, SC, meeting the occasional mountain bicyclist, the occasional friendly dogs walking their person, listening to a woodpecker hammer at a tree, keeping my photographer husband Ron DeKett company, and observing the gems nature offers such as this little pine tree that could have been decorated by Charlie Brown and friends. As often happens, my time close to Mother Earth produced this poem (in the middle of the night) to accompany Ron’s photo of a Winter Solstice Tree. Click on the poem title to read it and see the photo. Winter Solstice Tree. Blessed be.

I Give Thanks

by Nan Lundeen

For wind that wailed,
for cold that bit into bones,
for skies in summer that flickered

heat lightning,

I give thanks.

 

For fear at bedsides,

for faith that held

us all in sturdy arms

even when we cried,

I give thanks.

 

For school folks,

for church folks,

for the music of perking coffee

during the last hand of cards,

I give thanks.

 

For two old elms

creaking outside my bedroom window

leaning toward each other

like old women telling stories,

I give thanks.

 

For a kitchen swelled by the smell

of baking bread,

for Grandma’s feet treading

the Singer sewing machine,

I give thanks.

 

For kerosene lanterns

when ice storms rattled the house,

for the wall phone’s melodious ring,

for the angel of mercy

ending suffering at last,

I give thanks.

 

For the wonder of library books,

for teachers who were kind,

for a dog to keep me company,

for parents who loved me,

I give thanks.

 

For tornadoes, for hailstorms,

for blizzards and sweltering summer days,

for the sweet rich soil of my youth,

I give thanks.

work in progress blog tour

cow3

What are friends for? Well, apparently one wonderful perk is being invited on a Work in Progress Blog Tour. What is it? Heather G. Marshall invited me to participate in a tour. Her superbly written novel, The Thorn Tree, delivers to the reader an intimate feel for the Scottish landscape while telling the story of three women for whom family comes to mean everything Read her blog post here.

As part of the tour, I invite four other writers to post information on their Works in Progress on their blogs and link back to the person who invited them. Meanwhile, I am to write a blurb about my Work in Progress & post the first sentences of my first three chapters. Here goes:

Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential

Moo of Writing is a succinct how-to-write handbook offering fledgling and practiced writers a process to beckon more creativity into their lives. Moo writers will become productive ruminants like laid-back dairy cows who produce five gallons of milk every day.

Moo is:

1. Short and whimsical.

2. Backed up by cutting-edge scientific research. Combines practical techniques with spiritually-inclusive inspiration.

3. A threefold process: exercise, relaxation, and meditation. At each chapter’s end, you’ll find writing tips, writing exercises, and a meditation.

Chapter 1 – Get Your Moodle On

“Cows are Zen masters, writers benefit when they behave like them, and science concurs.”

Chapter 2 – Moo with the Habit Loop

“Cows must be milked every day.”

Chapter 3 – The Moo of Me

“Memorable writing engages emotion.”

I nominate the following writers to share their Works in Progress. Check them out!

Cynthia DeKett – http://reademrysia.blogspot.com

Jenny Munro – http://jennymunrowritingphotos.wordpress.com/

Julie Jordan Avritt – http://wildtobewreckage.wordpress.com/

want to share a spot of shade?

Sandburg goats
Sandburg goats

Lilian Steichen Sandburg was famous in her own right as a breeder of goats. These goats are enjoying a spot of shade under the structure that holds hay in their barnyard at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site at Flat Rock, NC. The site offers visitors not only shade under gorgeous old hemlocks it offers a spot of peace. Lilian, known to Carl as Paula, believed goat milk helped settle her long-time digestive problems. She began breeding goats to improve blood lines and milk production in 1935 when the couple lived in Berrien County Michigan. They were not to move to Flat Rock until 1945 when she was 62 and he was 67 years of age. A social activist, he was a journalist, a poet (Pulitzer winner), a hobo, a world traveler, a biographer (Pulitzer for a history of Lincoln), songwriter, writer of children’s books, and troubadour. Whether or not you love poetry, this home that Lilian and daughter Margaret helped the National Park Service preserve to truly carry the spirit of the “Poet of the People,” is worth a visit. Say hi to the goats for me.

Happy writing!

Nan Lundeen

www.nanlundeen.com

the power of creative collaboration

The book's cover. Photo by Ron DeKett, design by Kristin Toney.
The book’s cover. Photo by Ron DeKett, design by Kristin Toney.

A friend said she likes the cover of my newly printed book, Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir, and I promised to share the story behind it that illustrates the power of creative collaboration. My daughter Jennifer came up with the idea of a girl’s toes in black dirt as a cover illustration for the book. Then, as a surprise to me, she arranged a photo shoot with Naomi, a girl who lives next door to her in Michigan. Yes, the book is about growing up in the 1950s in Iowa, and yes, my husband Ron DeKett had to buy bags of black dirt to dump in the Michigan cornfield (that’s called poetic license). Southwestern Michigan soil tends to be a bit sandy, not black like Iowa’s dirt. Naomi all on her own dug a lovely family heirloom dress out of storage for the shoot. Kristin Toney designed the cover using Ron’s photo, and John Adam Wickliffe tweaked it before publication. I’m thrilled with the result. There you go, Rhea Lynn. That’s the story. Visit me at www.nanlundeen.com.

rare and common pleasures

For your reading pleasure—a love affair on the page. Carolyn C. Rice revels in the English language. Her poetry is lush and perceptive. “Lost” is her favorite among her poems—”a secret mischief lost.” Read it and wander with her mentally and metaphorically. “Defining Box” is the story of a blues man painted with words such as “his voice sharper than the broken neck of a whiskey bottle.” Is that a peacock behind the wheel in “Peacock Display?” Carolyn shares a sensuality of expression with her readers in “Strawberry Pleasures” and “Pretty Please.” MooingAround.com begins 2014 with a lover of language extraordinaire.

magical prose

Josette Williams Davison
Josette Williams Davison

“Some of the words covered dancing sheets of music, and could barely stay on the pages they were so full of life and longing.” –  Josette Williams Davison.

Josette writes of words and writers, of angels and people, of books and a great man in her essay, “In the Beginning.” She shares her reflections with readers in magical, thought-provoking prose. Click to read “In the Beginning.”

Happy 2014!

Nan Lundeen – www.nanlundeen.com

an impractical writing companion

Jack in Wildflowers by Ron DeKett
Jack in Wildflowers by Ron DeKett

This morning as I was making toast I noticed a tiny, tiny, pale spider crawling across the kitchen counter. I was going to capture her and put her outside, which is what I usually do with spiders, but I realized she would quickly die in winter weather. So, I lured her into an empty toilet paper tube and wedged her new house between a table leg and the wall.

Animals make perfect companions for writers. A dog will get you outdoors for a walk and offers unconditional love. A cat brings her own capriciousness into your writing day, often with delight as part of the bargain. If nothing else, animal companions add a dimension to a writer’s life that is outside the human experience and thus, valuable.

Not all animals make perfect companions, however. Being hidden away in her toilet paper tube, the little spider is unavailable to provide an ear when I’m reading a new poem aloud. Jack, our yellow Lab who passed away this year, used to listen intently. He was wonderfully cuddly. I imagine if I try to snuggle with the little spider on the couch, I’ll quickly lose her in sofa cushions if I can find her to begin with. As far as a leash goes—probably not practical, and if my neighbors saw me walking down the street gently carrying and conversing with a toilet paper tube, well . . .

For now, Bailey, the fuzzy white dog across the street, lets me rub her and gives me kisses. Oliver, a neighbor’s black cat comes to meow and be petted when I step outside mornings. He and Jack used to rub noses, but he seems quite content with human greetings. A silky border collie named Shadow often greets me at the track where I walk. She makes my day.

When you’re a writer, solitude is a splendid gift and often a rare one. Solitude gives a writer time to think, to ruminate, to contemplate, to observe, to study, and to write. Now that I’m retired from the world of journalism, it’s an enormous blessing to be writing away and not be interrupted. You can hear your own writing. For many writers, interruptions can’t be avoided, especially when they involve young children, a spouse, a partner or another family member or good friend. Unfortunately if you believe you shouldn’t feel frustrated, you heap more frustration upon your keyboard which sits abandoned.

An animal friend or two, however, is the perfect companion—I’ll let you know if a whole family of tiny spiders comes marching out from behind our table next spring.

Thank you to all mooingaround.com readers and contributors, and to Adamy Damaris Diaz of Artistik Dreamlife LLC (and a cat lover) for administering the site. We had a great start-up year, and I appreciate all of you. Please contact us with your thoughts and inform us if you have writing to share. Let us continue to build a creative community.

May 2014 bring you solitude and companionship.

Nan Lundeen – www.nanlundeen.com