Canyon Haiku

Ranger Diana and hubby

I’m back from two weeks exploring canyons in the American West. Now I need a vacation to rest up from my vacation! As I work my way back into the daily routine, I hope you enjoy a few photos and some canyon-inspired haiku.

parched earth, dry with dust

the white sun bakes a blue sky

a spring desert blooms

arid land fractured

by a river’s slow wander

through five billion years

golden canyons cleave

ancient swirls of earth revealed

smoothed by the winds’ breath

spring cold and waist deep

rivers lead around the bend

carved canyons beckon

uplift of the land

seas recede, plates in motion

beauty wrought by time

***

I also read 11 amazing books and will share my reviews shortly.

Enter the Sacred #TankaTuesday

Sunlight filters through tidal barriers of air and water where animals bloom from salty rocks with the permanence of plants, and gardens wear the guise of animals in this place where swimming is soaring from the edges of canyons, hiding in coral caverns of this wondrously alien world, secretive, and brimming with creatures, some tempered by timidness, others leaping and diving from blue to blue.

enter the sacred

domain of eels and turtles

world beneath our world

taught by schools of parrotfish

to touch a dolphin’s wild joy

 

***

Denise Finn chose the wonderful prompt for this Ekphrastic challenge (poetry based on a visual image). If you click on her name, you can read her entry. As a scuba diver, I’m entranced by the underwater world.

My poem is called a “tanka prose,” a bit of prose followed by a tanka with a syllable count of 5/7/5/7/7.

The weekly #TankaTuesday syllabic poetry challenge is the brainstorm of Colleen at Wordcraft Poetry. Think about joining in. It’s great fun.

A Learned Girl #TankaTuesday

The Crystal Ball painted by John William Waterhouse

(A short break in the TBR Challenge reblogs for a little poetry)

A Learned Girl

She is fortunate to read at all. Her slender fingers stray from the pages, unblemished but for a random papercut. Beyond her window, other women toil until their skin toughens into leather, and raw knuckles wear down to bones. Their spines crack beneath the weight of necessity, poor lots destined from the day they were born. She is privileged. This she knows. Granted by happenstance her wish to learn the arts of anatomy and history and politics. To peruse through pages of poetry and philosophy, to dip her quill and tally accounts. She will excel in the learned world of power. But she is still a girl.

studies surrender

lost in red velvet daydreams

murmurs of passion

love’s silk breath blushes her cheeks

wishes in a crystal ball

*

Thank you to Colleen over at Wordcraft Poetry for the lovely image to use as an prompt for this week’s Ekphrastic poetry. Ekphrastic poems respond to a piece of art. I went with a tanka prose poem. It has one paragraph and one tanka with 5/7/5/7/7 syllables. 

The Lady with Too Many Books

In response to the TBR challenge, here’s a totally delightful poem from Kay Castenada. I giggled the entire way through. Enjoy.

***

The Lady With Too Many Books

There once was a lady who read and read

anything with words to her family’s dread,

memoirs love stories spies cops and killers

kings queens and handsome prince thrillers.

Books on the floor the bed the tables

up to the attic the rafters the gables

Libraries  yard sales airports vacations

all you can carry store liquidations.

Her family, her kids, her friends got worried,

that look in her eyes and off she hurried…

(Click here to continue reading at Kay’s Bookplaces)

Writing Challenge – The TBR Pile

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I don’t know anyone who owns a Kindle (or other ebook reader) and isn’t buried in books. We groan as we add more to the stack… then laugh about it and buy more! That’s my situation anyway.

I thought it would be fun to start 2022 with a writing challenge:

Write a story or poem about your TBR pile.

If you want to play, here’s how it works:

  • Deadline is January 23rd
  • Post the story or poem on your blog
  • Link back to this post or leave your link in the comments below
  • Keep it family friendly
  • I will reblog as many of the entries as I can through the end of the January
  • I’ll close comments here, so readers will head your way to comment.
  • In early February, I’ll post a round-up with links.
  • You may use the (attribution free) pixabay image above if you want to
  • And most of all, Have Fun!

Happy Writing and Reading!

Eclipsed

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Gabriela Marie Milton, poet and author of the best-selling book Woman: Splendor and Sorrow, hosted a poetry competition that concluded a few days ago. She challenged us to write a poem inspired by one from her book.

I chose her poem “The Moon and I” and wrote about the phases of a woman’s life: child, lover, wife, mother, and wise-woman/crone. The feminine connection to the moon is deep and abiding and threads through generations of time.

My poem, Eclipsed, won third place in the competition, and I couldn’t be more grateful or honored. A link to Gabriela’s book is below, as well as links to the winning poems. I hope you take a moment and enjoy some inspired poetry.

Eclipsed

The moon and I trade glances beneath the light of ages
reflections of our phases, we traverse boundaries of shadow
the birth and death of stars adorns our voyage
my course uncharted on a shoreless sea.

She is the sand-dollar storyteller of sirens and undertows
hidden caves beneath blooms of coral, troves of stolen gold
a moon-faced child unblemished by the salt of tears she weaves
tales of faithfulness sung to the sea’s rhythmic strum.

A seductress, she trades in the caress of madness and liquid kisses
when a timorous heart flares and passion burns by torchlight
skin and wings consumed, I surrender to the mariner’s lure
drown in the tide’s curling crush and gull’s lonesome cry.

She is the gibbous years, molding castles of compromise
sand towers dripping through faults in cupped hands
I comb the half-moon beach for luminous abalone
craft a chime of common jingle shells, all that I find.

She is the windborne balloon of my daughter’s dream awakening
a boy fishes upon the crescent of her smile
sea-smoothed glass tumbles at their feet for sorting, for choosing
for all my devotion, iron ships founder like paper-sailed toys.

She whispers a harmony of waxing and waning
an old crone’s serenade in her waves’ refrain
when sea thrift and violets yield petals to sheer bluffs
she chants from the conch cupped to my ear:

You are the nautilus spinning outward
eternal feminine on a string of pearls
iridescent ’til the sun succumbs to midnight deep
when a silken wind sweeps over lunar dunes
erasing your footprints
rolls you into darkness
eclipsed.

***

#1 Bestselling New Poetry Collection by Gabriela Marie Milton

Brian Geiger, editor of Vita Brevis Press: “Woman: Splendor and Sorrow…is an arabesque of womanhood, depicting the broad strokes and finer details of love, identity, and femininity. With vibrant imagery and fresh ideas, Milton’s poetry and prose explore these topics with passion and sincerity. There’s something here for all readers.”

***

To read the poems of the winners click Here.

Congrats to:

First Place – Virginia Mateias

Second Place – Ingrid Wilson and Eric Daniel Clarke

Third place – Timothy Price and D. Wallace Peach

To read the poems of the Honorable Mentions click Here.

Congrats to:

Joni Caggiano, Cindy Georgakas, Jeff Flesch, Karima Hoisan, and Carrie Yang

Hawaiian Haiku

While visiting my brother in Hawaii, I couldn’t resist a little haiku based on the beautiful island of Oahu.

aquamarine sea

wind-stippled sparkling silver

laps on silken sand

tricksters somersault

sailboards soar with wind-borne kites

breathtaking in flight

We visited the memorial at Pearl Harbor

sacred burial

Battleship Arizona

beneath azure waves

Hawaiian sunsets

eruptions of vermillion

cauldrons in the sky

We hiked to the sacred ruins of the queen’s summer palace through a bamboo forest.

ruins in the jungle

bamboo clatters in the breeze

musical pathways

Thanks for taking a poetic journey with me.

And this is what I arrived home to:

My backyard.

everywhere we roam

a precious world awaits us

where beauty abounds

NaNoWriMo Update:

NaNoWriMo, (or as my husband calls it, Ninny Rhino) is going well. I’m ahead of schedule, though that probably won’t last. To everyone who’s writing up a storm… keep going! To everyone else, take advantage of the month of light blogging, enjoy, and relax!

September Book Reviews

September flew by, didn’t it?

These are all great reads, so don’t ask me to pick a favorite. Enjoy a beautiful October. And Happy Reading.

September book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of poetry, fantasy, western romance, sci-fi, a memoir, and a middle-grade book.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose by Lauren Scott

This highly recommended and quick read is a compilation of a number of Scott’s personal and precious memories conveyed in both short prose and freeform poetry. A lot of those memories come with the luxury of a hot cup of coffee, but not all. They capture bits of time from idolizing Barbara Streisand as a kid to camping in the Sierras, and lifelong encounters with spiders. Embedded within many of the stories are heartfelt relationships with parents, spouse, and children.

Some of my favorite stories were “Silver Heirlooms” about how simple hand-me-downs become filled with meaning, “Ascent” about grief and the solace of nature, “Laughing Spiders” about big hairy arachnids, and “1989” a romantic relationship initiated by, of all things, an old refrigerator.

I’ve read poetry books by Scott in the past, and the poems in this collection are some of my favorites. They follow along the same lines as the prose pieces and are in many cases reflections of the same topic. My favorite poems were: “The Right Time”, “Simple Existence”, “To My Babies” and…

The Teacher

Its canary boldness
rises up to the sun
alone, yet not lonely,
fearing nothing,
but wearing bravery
on each petal –
standing tall with spirit
in lean green attire
as if soaking up the day’s
endless possibilities.

*****

The Prince’s Protege by Deborah Jay

This is the third book in the Five Kingdoms series and like the previous two, the story features a new main character, one who played a small part in the previous books. In this case, Marten, the fledgling king of Darshan. His mentors believe he’s capable of rule, and he’s on his own and unsure of himself. The gods, Chel and Charin, have dual natures, and they’re taking a strong role in a rising conflict between the royal family and several dastardly nobles.

Lady Betha is Marten’s protector and spy, and though she and Marten are highly attracted to each other, Betha’s ability to heal herself (magic) places a wedge between them. Magic is illegal unless it’s a “gift of Chel,” and the difference depends on who wields it.

There’s a lot going on in this book – plots, murder attempts, and those meddlesome gods. Rustam and Risada share the limelight with Marten and Betha, though their story is secondary to the king’s. Between all the nefarious goings-on, this book has a lot of romantic elements that readers of romance will enjoy.

The book starts back in time, prior to the ending of Book Two, giving the reader Marten’s experience of past events before the story catches up and moves forward. It took me a bit of time to warm up to Marten and Betha, but they did grow on me, especially Marten as he rose to the challenge of leadership.

As in the rest of the series thus far, this is a complex and rich world. The pace is steady, the plot full of drama, and the characters true to themselves. Most of the plot threads resolve with a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to the next book in the series. Recommended to readers who enjoy a well-written fantasy series with a touch of romance.

*****

Tumblestar by Sandra Cox

Independent characters, wild horses, gunfights with buffalo hunters who smell like death, and good old-fashioned love. What more can readers of western romance ask for?

When Cooper Malloy meets the stage coach to retrieve his young orphaned niece, Kallie, he discovers that she’s accompanied by his old childhood friend Miranda Lockhart, only Miranda’s no longer a child. Miranda and Kallie take up residence at Coop’s Tumblestar ranch and it’s not long before an attraction blooms. But who has time for romance when a ranch needs running? Wild horses need breaking, and the buffalo-hunting Doolin brothers are out for blood.

This story has lots of strengths from diverse and rich characters with three-dimensional lives to glimpses of life on the frontier to high-paced action with a variety of villains. Cooper is a great blend of grit and fair-mindedness, Miranda is courageous, and secondary characters are as strong as the main. Scenes involving the round-ups of wild horses and the rescue of an injured stallion were some of my favorites. Read and enjoy, but do not try this at home! Except for the romance, of course.

An excellent fast-pace read for fans of western romance. Highly recommended.

*****

Grief Songs: Poems of Love and Remembrance by Elizabeth Gauffreau

This book of poetry is no more than a half-hour read, but what a lovely way to spend my time. Most of the poems are tankas, short syllabic forms of five lines, and Gauffreau is a master of this style. The collection is a beautiful tribute to the author’s family and includes heart-wrenching, poignant, humorous, and sweet poems about childhood, family, love, and loss. Grief is the thread that connects the poems together, sometimes overtly, but more frequently as a remembrance of treasured moments with people missing in Gauffreau’s life.

A family photo precedes each poem, and the combination of the two adds depth to both. Though the poems are intensely personal to the author, it was easy to relate many of the experiences to my own family and the universal human journey that families undertake. I jotted down my favorite titles and suddenly realized I’d written down half the book. I highly recommend this short collection to readers who enjoy poetry that speaks to the heart.

Clam Bake

clam bake on the beach
driftwood fire crackles, smokes
Michael row your boat
Mummy sings, guitar strumming
five hundred miles from our home

Sixty Years of Katharine

sixty years safe under glass
minutes tucked into envelopes
decades left in dresser drawers
held in thrall, left behind
her blue eyes bright with wonder

*****

Blackened Rose by Cage Dunn

In a way, I’ve become used to expecting the unexpected from Dunn’s books. They’re all so different. This one starts off with some riveting darkness. The main character Mr. Black is an enigma, a problem-solver of the dangerous kind. He’s approached by Liana Benit. Her father died after being falsely convicted of a high-profile murder. It’s not a case he’d usually accept, but something about her intrigues him—he feels her probing inside his head.

The POV’s (both Black’s and Liana’s) are tight, so the reader has to figure out what’s happening without much backstory or explanation. I like how that creates mystery and suspense, but it also requires concentration. Both main characters held my attention. Liana’s ability makes her unique while her emotions make her relatable. That said, I especially enjoyed being inside Black’s scary thoughts. He’s not evil, but he borders on amoral and has no qualms about sticking to his contracts. Like Liana, he has an unusual ability, as does the dying woman Rose at the core of the story.

This is an intriguing read, but it’s not a light one. Dunn’s staccato writing style creates tension which balances nicely with believable detail. The story settles in at about the 25% mark, and the pace is just about right. The culminating psychic battle, for me, ran a tad long, but it was also very well done. Highly recommended to readers of dark fantasy and horror.

*****

Meno – What?: Memorable Moments of Menopause by D. G. Kaye

I tried to read this book in bed before nodding off, but my husband made me go downstairs… apparently my laughter was keeping him up. As someone who’s gone through “The Change,” I found this book highly relatable and, at times, laugh out loud funny. Kaye recommends laughter as a way of dealing with this shocking stage of life, and her account of her own battle with menopause and post-menopausal changes demonstrates that conviction.

Kaye gives an overview of the biological changes, reminds us that she isn’t a doctor, and clarifies that every woman will experience this misery in different ways. Besides offering plenty of opportunities for laughter, she provides suggestions for ways to manage our changing bodies. I especially related to her discussion of post-menopausal changes that begin with a stage called “What the Hell?”

Her anecdotes are relatable… the covers on/covers off routine… opening the car window to let the snow blow in… “alligator” skin… sagging, spots, you name it, she covers the gamut and all with sardonic wit, disbelief, good sense, and a determination to fight back. This book is a memoir but one that doubles as a guide for women during their menopausal journeys. Highly recommended.

*****

Woman: Splendor and Sorrow: Love Poems and Poetic Prose

Best-selling poetess Gabriela Marie Milton is making a name for herself in the literary world, and it’s easy to see why. Her free form poems are rich with imagery and emotion, gently loving, full of longing and loss, and sometimes shining with personal strength. In every way, this collection captures the diversity of experience that comes with being a woman.

The book is divided into two sections—the first titled Love Poems and the second Poetic Prose.

Many of Milton’s love poems have a dream like quality. The lines of poetry are as beautiful for their words as for the way they flow. Some of my favorites were You in Another Life, If only…Autumn, Son of the Desert, Night Poem, The Moon and I, and Bring the Summer.

Excerpt from The Moon and I:

In the green meadow by the lake,
the moon and I knit poetry like silk,
the language of the birds sleeps in the trees
like ripened fruits
your eyes are closed and faraway
the world rotates between two cherries and a kiss….

Milton’s prose reads like poetry but without the form, and much of it seems to be a reflection on aspects of the author’s personal experience or her thoughts about subjects such as poetry, feminism, identity, and again, love. Some of my favorites were My Name is Gabriela, Of Wounds, Creation, and Who Am I?

A highly recommended collection for readers of poetry who enjoy flowing imagery, beautiful words, and a deep dive into the soul of womanhood.

*****

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind by Darlene Foster

I happily dived into my second Amanda-adventure, and though it’s a middle-grade book, I selfishly read it in preparation for a trip to NM. It’s full of wonderful detail about the Taos area including its history, art, architecture, sights, culture, and… ghosts! The details seamlessly weave through a ghost story as Amanda and her classmates explore the city and countryside.

Amanda’s friend Cleo is afraid of ghosts, and she not only insists that she sees them but that they are causing some mischief. Amanda worries about Cleo’s mental health, until she too starts having strange experiences. The “chills” factor is perfect for middle-grade readers, and the mystery kept my nose glued to the book, which I read in one sitting.

I found the open-ended conclusion intriguing, satisfying, and worthy of further conversation. To that end, the author includes questions for discussion at the end of the book. Highly recommended for middle-grade readers, light history buffs, and anyone interested in traveling to New Mexico.

*****

Breathing Space (Sunblinded #3) by S. J. Higbee

I thoroughly enjoyed Books I and II of the Sunblinded Trilogy and decided to jump into Book III without delay. Lizzie, the main character, steals the show as usual. She’s unbelievably tough, emotional, competent, and when given the opportunity, she has a kind heart. Just watch out if she’s crossed.

She’s the chief of the Peace and Prosperity mercenary force policing Sector Two, dealing with politics and plots like a pro. Yet, almost from page one, she’s faced with a major catastrophe, instigated and carried out by her estranged and psychotic brother. Yes, Eddy is back and ready to take revenge on Lizzie for all the miseries of his life.

As in the previous books, the world building is exceptional, including encounters with aliens and alien technology. It was great to see the core of characters again including the sarcastic ghost of Jessica who talks in Lizzie’s head. Several characters from the first book return, and I enjoyed the way they tied the beginning of the story to the end. A few surprises too!

The author does an excellent job of wrapping up all the loose ends for a satisfying conclusion. The pace is excellent, the plot holds together well, and the sci-fi elements are believable, including spacer lingo. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy hard sci-fi, rich characters, and a tough female protagonist.

*****

Dead of Winter: Journey 9, Doors of Attunement by Teagan Riordan Geneviene

Journey 9 begins with Emlyn, Osabide, and Focia stuck in another dimension in the lost library. They’re trying to return Zasha to her body as well as find their way back to the rest of the Deae Matras group. This novella-length journey expands on Emlyn’s ability to pass between realms, and they learn more about the dire condition of the veil that separates the dead from the living.

As always, Geneviene’s episode is full of luscious details about the world including stairways that seem to lead nowhere, runes that turn cold, and magical staffs that hold the key to power. Some of these story elements feel random, but they do enhance the mystery and adventure, and there’s a chance that they’ll tie together at some point.

There are lots of mysterious characters, some helpful, some malevolent, and a few who could go either way. Little by little stakes are rising and the Deae Matras are in the thick of it. I look forward to continuing the fantasy adventure.

Happy Reading!

Winter Calls

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Winter Calls

We flow into autumn

from summer’s embrace

when twilight hastens and the sun rides low

ripening abundance

a gilded farewell

Quilted paths of crimson

through colors we roam

mugs of cloved cider and a cinnamon moon

our pumpkin’s grin candled

memories loosen

When scents of woodsmoke curl

on crisp, crackling morns

will you weave me a shawl from skeins of soft wool

hold me warm by the fire

for my winter calls

*

This poem is a double ennead – a syllabic form consisting of three stanzas of 33 syllables in a 6/5/11/6/5 pattern for a total off 99 syllables. The challenge is hosted by Colleen Chesebro over at Carrot Ranch. It runs once a month and I invite you to check it out. Colleen’s prompt this month was “Autumn” and she encouraged us to use our senses. Happy Writing.