The Work of Woman

The world is forever ending,

every generation chasing the same

catastrophes and atrocities their parents

learned before them. Migrating in search

of herds of hatred, anger, and fear to feed upon.

 

But for each inky night that swallows up hope,

there is a woman who stands up,

though her soul is broken,

and crosses the room to light a fire

and places a potato in a pot

or the very last grains of rice,

because stomachs must be fed

and laundry doesn’t care for cataclysm.

 

A woman who, in her grandad’s pickup truck,

her forehead resting against one chapped hand

as she mouths the music on the radio,

drives to the bank for the loan,

because the chemo won’t pay for itself.

 

A woman who rises early for work at the factory

and pins a yellow Star of David on her coat,

because the rent is due, and it’s been almost a month now

since they took father and Misha away.

 

A woman who has watched a thousand men

ascend the ladder ahead of her, but who shows up,

measures her smiles and speaks calmly, firmly,

because her message is important and must not be dismissed.

 

A woman who weeps and arranges the shattered

pieces of her heart into the shape of a poem

to send out into the crumbling world,

because somewhere in the desolation

are the ears of others listening for signs they’re not alone.

 

A woman who leans over the cradle of an infant

she did not birth and will not raise,

but who she will pick up and comfort and feed,

becoming for only a moment a mother

in place of the mother who didn’t make it through the night.

 

A birthright, this numb inertia

that keeps life slowly wading forward

through the scalding lava of destruction

as the world ends

and ends

and ends

work

The Work of Woman

Twitter Tips for Writers: How I went from 80 followers to 1800 with 8 simple strategies

twitter logoTwitter is an essential part of any writer’s platform. But it can be a daunting place to try to figure out. Which is why I, like so many writers, made an account then promptly let it lie fallow for years.

Last November, with 80 followers, I finally realized that in my pursuit of book publication, Twitter has the potential to be a powerful ally. I started working to cultivate a larger following. Here’s what has worked for me:

1. FOLLOW BACK! — The number one rule of Twitter is reciprocation. Unless you’re Beyonce  or Neil DeGrasse Tyson (and who among us is?) then almost no one but porn bots, sales bots, and your mother will follow you just for being you. Take time to follow the real people who take the time to follow you. (Don’t follow back the sales or porn bots though. That way lies doom).

 

2. Identify your communities. Think about the topics that you most want to tweet about. For example, I tend to tweet about writing, motherhood, Alaska, food, art, sex, and current events. Look for and follow people who are tweeting about the things you care about.

3. Use hashtags. Identify some of the hashtags associated with your communities and start using them. The topics themselves make a good start for hashtags. For example #food will attract people from the #foodie community.

hashtag4. Find the community hubs. Community hubs are accounts that are centered around a single theme and promote people within that community. For writers these may be indie author promoters, literary journals, agents, etc. They may also be readers who have an enthusiasm for particular types of writing such as erotica or flash fiction. Hubs generally have a lot of Followers, a lot of people they are Following, and tend to tweet or retweet people who are actively promoting. These are a great resource for finding new writers and readers to follow.

5. Watch your ratio. Keep your Following number higher than your Followers number. But not too much higher. 10-20% is a good number to aim for. Do not follow anyone who’s Following number is dramatically lower than their Followers number. (Unless it’s NDT or Beyonce, and you’re following out of genuine interest). Having uneven Following/Followers ratios is a red flag. It tells you that the account is not reciprocating when followed.

6. Make a routine. Set aside a time on day or two each each week (I do Sundays and Wednesdays) to search for people to follow, cull people who haven’t followed back, and follow back people who have followed you. Allow yourself 20 minutes or so for this.

7. The Mute button is your friend. As your Following/Followers grows, use the mute button to control what appears in your timeline. Obviously it isn’t possible to listen to 1800 people all the time. Be selective about what you hear by tuning out accounts who you’ve Followed back, but who don’t necessarily have the same interests as you. For example, if you write historical romance, it might be okay to mute some of the sci-fi writers in your feed, and vice versa. Don’t worry, if you’re in the same communities, their most liked and retweeted tweets will still get through to you via the networks you’re engaged with.

twitter-mute

 

8. Use pictures. As writers, we tend to forget that not everyone gets as excited by words as we do. But we still want to be read. So use a visual to draw attention to your tweet.

Attention-Grabbing-Headlines

Twitter Tips for Writers: How I went from 80 followers to 1800 with 8 simple strategies

First Tooth

Mother and Child by Mary Cassatt

First Tooth*

 

A poem shimmering forward

like the mirage of human form

awakens me from tattered sleep.

 

Before I’ve reached my pen,

she’s awake again and wailing.

 

The shard of bone gnawing

through her gum claws

closer to the surface, aching

to erupt. We rise, unrested.

 

When I lift her, she tries

to scale me like a mountain.

 

I make coffee while she

worries her toothlessness

like a splinter or a pebble in a shoe.

 

We maroon ourselves

on the living-room floor,

on an island of brief sunlight.

We won’t leave the house today.

 

Through steam-stained windows,

the naked trees are vague.

The sidewalks are phlegmy with ice.

 

Winter grinds its fist into the city.

 

Naptime – she refuses to sleep unheld.

My shoulders ache from stillness.

I search for the image that woke me.

I struggle to dredge the seed from memory,

urge it to burst its smooth skin,

to declare itself.

 

Her cheek against my breast is

firm and cool like rising bread.

 

She wakes again,

and wails her yearning for teeth.

 

I ease her down so I can

stretch the knots from my shoulders.

 

Light gathers in the tears on her lashes.

With a orphaned look,

she reaches for me, both arms up.

 

Her hands panic

like dizzy, breathless butterflies.

 

This is new, this reaching.

 

 

 

 

*Originally published in MotherVerse Magazine

First Tooth

APPROACHING LINDISFARNE*

Another old poem to appease the blog gods. I’m deep into the tenth revision on the novel, so old poetry shall have to sate. Thanks much to Suzi Ramsey Towsley for use of the smashing pic!

 

Courtesy SRT Images: www.SRTImages.com All rights reserved.
“True” Courtesy SRT Images: www.SRTImages.com
All rights reserved.

 

APPROACHING LINDISFARNE

 

born of sky so sharp it cuts itself

and bleeds pink-green light

on coasts of frosted shoal

on labyrinths of ice and stone

they emerge from fog

 

air hisses across their skin

keeping breath with the oars

muscles tighten   reach

creak of leather   wood

the ocean’s bearing

shoulders narrow   broaden   narrow

closing in   they slow

slither-slow and cease

 

they drift

 

silence holds the sky

above conspiracies of wind

hushing pines along the shore

 

they wait   oars aloft

the ocean trembles

 

smoke trickles from the horizon

seeps into a gloaming sky

steel stirs against their thighs

 

their oars   fin-faithful

sink then surface

fast falling   drum steady

rise gleaming   dripping silver

 

plunge toward shore

 

 

 

 

*First published in Cirque, Dec 20 2010

 

APPROACHING LINDISFARNE*

Random nuggets

As you may be able to tell, I’ve been raiding the corpses of my old dead poems to feed my blog.

I found this in a document marked “Exercise” in a folder indicating it was from a 2005 workshop with Arlitia Jones the playwright and bestest workshop teacher in the West.

I don’t remember the exercise that produced this list. I’m almost certain I wrote it. 3, 12, and 18 sure sound like me. (If not, and someone knows what it is, correct me). But some of them made me laugh. 15 sounds like the title of a blues song. Enjoy!

 

  1. a spider on an old man’s beard is like a swallow in a nest
  2. the oars on the boat rowed as if unmanned
  3. nothing was the same, now that it was forever.
  4. the wino took to coma like merlot
  5. the dice rolled out of the cup like Leonard to a hot pussy
  6. a child in sunshine is like a bean in water
  7. puffy clouds in your glass of wine are foaming over in your head
  8. bed sheets like muscles stretched taut over bone
  9. the fog plumed through the gunshot holes in the train windows like a gambler’s cigar smoke
  10. the gray honor walked up the satin plank as if transfixed by light
  11. canceled checks in the abandoned boat seemed to long for currency
  12. if I should wake before I die, I pray I get some apple pie
  13. Alannah poured coffee down her throat as if drowning the donuts might negate their calories
  14. you mine rocks from a quarry. What you get from a quandary is nothing
  15. up is like down when down feels right
  16. Marlene dangled the parson from her question as if…
  17. she held her life in her own hands as if it were fragile
  18. no, no a thousand times no, he said, his hand a battle ax of sincerity
  19. the solution was hydrochloric acid; the problem was therefore how to kill Gillian
  20. love is to open sky as loathing is to rotting wood
Random nuggets

Scrabble Poem

When my husband  and I play scrabble we sometimes like to do different themes. Only dirty words, for example. Or only slang or proper nouns. One time he challenged me to  make a list of our words and write a poem with  them.  The following  poem is the result. I dredged it from an ancient folder titled  BadPoetry. Terrible might have been a better word choice. =)

 

After four, Wall Street

loans it’s suited clan

back uptown. Horny,

hungry, raw, they lurch

back to kip in flats

filled with meds and

bran and brand names.

 

They spend themselves

each day like common ore.

But for half-an-hour, lowered

into earth, they muddle with

those other, human voles.

 

The hag’s voice garbles

through the din of the

subway’s sneeze and choke.

She paces, puns, jives,

her aqua eyes stoned with rage

that she is, and they are here

not listening, not

thawing to her words.

 

Passing, foot by foot

they reascend the stairs.

She tries one last thought

to shackle arms and feet

with all she knows of truth,

“Remember when they

truss you to the beam,

thieves too were crucified.”

Scrabble Poem

POEM FOR A PISCES

Without teeth, without

even an armor of scales

you slipped into life

squirming slick and white,

in a body easily seduced by metal.

Blades often bite at you,

your fins are always tattered.

 

We try to make up for your fishy luck.

You try to teach me the allure

of lures and twine whistling

unraveling, traveling the length of the wind.

But my mind only prowls

the banks in restless pacing,

watching you in water,

unwilling to get wet.

 

I try to keep my knives polite for you

try to never swipe unsheathed,

to bat only with padded paws

and speak with a gentling mouth.

I love the thinness of your skin.

I marvel at the waters you breathe.

 

You travel in currents of kindness

and hover motionless and wise where

I would struggle and be drowned.

POEM FOR A PISCES