Friday, October 31, 2008

Old-School Activism


[This week's prompt at Sunday Scribblings is "scandalous." This family story is what immediatly came to mind.]

Old-School Activism

My mom grew up in the Depression, though she reminds us that as kids they didn't know that they were poor because nearly everybody in town was in the same way. So partly because of the era and partly because there was no money, it was up to the kids to make their own fun. My mom was sandwiched between two brothers and it sounds like the kind of fun she enjoyed a lot of the time was physical. She loved to run.

I guess it was natural, given the kind of play she liked, that she took to wearing her older brother's denim jeans. He was just two years older and he didn't like it, but it didn't stop her, even though she had to roll up the bottoms and belt them really tight. At school, though, she had to wear dresses or skirts. All the girls did – it was a rule.

As I hear it, though, my mom wasn't content to let that rule stand. As I remember hearing it (and I'm sure my family will correct me if I'm wrong) my Mom was just a year or two into high school when she decided to do something about the "no pants for girls" dress code. She counted up the number of girls in her class. She figured if they ALL wore pants on the same day, there was no way for them to punish them all.

So on the appointed day, nearly all the girls showed up in slacks instead of skirts. And as Mom had figured, there were too many for them to send home to change (the usual approach). And the rule came tumbling down. I'm sure some thought that was scandalous.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Judgment of the Moon


[Cafe Writing prompted me to write some fiction about a night when the moon is howling... ]

Judgment of the Moon

I was cold. Not shivery-fun cold, like when the snow crunches under your feet and you know cocoa is waiting at home. This cold was damp and ran right through me as I stood in the woods and listened.

Or tried to listen. It was hard to listen to nothing. No breeze moved one branch against another. Not a single mouse scurried. The dead, wet leaves had compressed into a spongy mat that swallowed the sound of my boots. This was a night when even the trees held their breath in fearful expectation and only the clear, empty sky rang aloud with the howl of the moon.

The giant, yellow eye unblinkingly spied me cringing in the shadows. Passion-full it searched my soul and judged me wanting. I held my breath in dread at the sentence, unable to image the payment it would demand.

Then the wind sighed and the moon shed a tear, and the howl was in my own throat and I was sentenced to live.

One Knife


[It looks like 3 Word Wednesday is on a Halloween bent this week with the words corpse, damage, and knife. I couldn't resist.]

One Knife

Who knew that one knife
could do so much damage?
The crystal block of ice was now
a perfectly-rendered corpse.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008



[Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect set a Monday Poetry Stretch to write batty poetry. As in real bats. Here's mine. Check her site at the end of the week to see what others might have come up with.]


In the darker, shallow end of the pool we
lounged in summer-heated liquid and watched
insects swarm around the lights at the deep end.

Bats darted and wheeled, flying bug zappers,
sometimes dipping low enough to sip
a chlorinated nightcap to chase their midnight snacks.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Not Jackie or Marilyn


I love quizzes. Those short little things in magazines or on-line. I find them quite irresistible, although I don't pay much attention to the results. I just like taking the quiz. Maybe I just like being asked my opinion.

Today I saw that Janet at Fond of Snape took a quiz "Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn? or someone else?" She pointed me at the site and I took the test.

As it turns out, according to the quiz, I am not a Jackie or a Marilyn (which doesn't surprise me). Instead, it says I am a Grace. I would not have compared myself to Grace Kelly but there you go. Here's what they say - for what it's worth.

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Grace!


You are a Grace -- "I need to understand the world.

Graces have a need for knowledge and are introverted, curious, analytical, and insightful.

How to Get Along with Me
* Be independent, not clingy
* Speak in a straightforward and brief manner
* I need time alone to process my feelings and thoughts
* Remember that If I seem aloof, distant, or arrogant, it may be that I am feeling uncomfortable
* Make me feel welcome, but not too intensely, or I might doubt your sincerity
* If I become irritated when I have to repeat things, it may be because it was such an effort to get my thoughts out in the first place
* don't come on like a bulldozer
* Help me to avoid my pet peeves: big parties, other people's loud music, overdone emotions, and intrusions on my privacy

What I Like About Being a Grace
* standing back and viewing life objectively
* coming to a thorough understanding; perceiving causes and effects
* my sense of integrity: doing what I think is right and not being influenced by social pressure
* not being caught up in material possessions and status
* being calm in a crisis

What's Hard About Being a Grace
* being slow to put my knowledge and insights out in the world
* feeling bad when I act defensive or like a know-it-all
* being pressured to be with people when I don't want to be
* watching others with better social skills, but less intelligence or technical skill, do better professionally

Graces as Children Often
* spend a lot of time alone reading, making collections, and so on
* have a few special friends rather than many
* are very bright and curious and do well in school
* have independent minds and often question their parents and teachers
* watch events from a detached point of view, gathering information
* assume a poker face in order not to look afraid
* are sensitive; avoid interpersonal conflict
* feel intruded upon and controlled and/or ignored and neglected

Graces as Parents
* are often kind, perceptive, and devoted
* are sometimes authoritarian and demanding
* may expect more intellectual achievement than is developmentally appropriate
* may be intolerant of their children expressing strong emotions

Thursday, October 09, 2008



[I don't know if this is prose poetry or maybe something else, but it started out with a prompt from the Monday Poetry Stretch at The Miss Rumphius Effect (to use cup, gate, and sea) but it also seemed to satisfy the Totally Optionally Prompt to write about "discoveries." ]


She found the once-white cup, chipped
and dirty, dull red rust peaking through where the enamel gave way long ago. Full of dirt and dead leaves and sticks, and probably a bug or two, but its handle was still solid and it wanted to be found. From the hole at the base of the tree, she took it to the creek and washed away years of abandonment and promptly filled it with big, fat acorns that littered the path.

Her steps carried her away from the trees at a stately, measured pace. With her eyes closed she saw the aisle of the church, decorated with flowers to match those her sister had pinned in her hair. She replayed her movements, slow and careful, following the instructions to drop just one petal at a time from her basket. One by one the acorns fell, bouncing on the pavement, rolling to one side or the other, and one wobbled its way into a pothole in the street.

When her fingers brushed the bottom of the cup, she pulled out the last two acorns and rolled them around in her hand, like the silver Chinese balls that her grandmother kept in a red silk box on the shelf by her bed. They were awkward to hold and so big that she nearly dropped them.

The old wooden bridge, just wide enough for one car to cross at a time, had gaps where you could look through into the water below. She dropped one of the acorns through one of the holes and watched for the splash, but she couldn't see if it sank to the bottom or bobbled its way toward the sea.

Cup in one hand and the last acorn in the other, she skipped toward the big houses. The grand Victorians seemed palatial, but maybe not as nice as they might once have been. Like the cup, they were neglected, with weeds and bushes taking over, with paint peeling from the siding (where there was any left at all), and lopsided shutters hanging on out of habit. The wrought iron fencing was rusty and showed only a passing acquaintance with paint. The clanking rattle was tremendously satisfying as she raked the cup across the iron rails until she got to the empty space where the gate yawned permanently open, sagging deep into the soil of the yard.

She tucked the remaining acorn in her pocket and raced herself down the sidewalk to the beach where autumn's chill had finally chased away the summerfolk. The cup was perfect for digging in the dunes, and for carrying water to newly-minted moats, and moving a pile of mussel shells to the back of the castle.

Eventually she headed back home, to the secret place in her yard where she kept her treasures safe from the growups who would call them junk. She tucked the cup and acorn in next to the pieces of beach-glass and the yellow feather, beside the coin with a hole in the center and the green plastic turtle, inside the blue pottery saucer that was only chipped in one place.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Camp Iroquois


[Totally Options Prompts challenged us to revisit a place, person, or idea that was once familiar and that you haven't seen in a long time. This is what came to my mind.]

Camp Iroquois

He saw it clear and sunny,
fresh as honeysuckle vines.
The fresh air of New Hampshire
lighter than a Brooklyn summer,
even with trips to Coney Island.
Color wars and war canoes,
camp crafts and camp fires,
swimming in the lake and
hiking the nearby mountains.
And, oh! those wild strawberries
and low-bush blueberries!

The summer we looked
at colleges for me we plotted
our trip to take us nearby,
thinking we'd stop by and see
the camp, ask politely at the office
to look around, for old time's sake.
We knew we were close and finally
we stopped to buy maple syrup
and ask if they knew
where Camp Iroquois was.

It was closed, they said, but
directed us there anyway, where
we parked and wandered
into the wilderness, grown up
around crumbling foundations.
I think our hearts broke
when we found the skeletons
of the mighty war canoes,
spread wide and bleached in the sun.

[Effective 30-April-2015 I have turned off comments on this post.]