A News-Inspired Poem

On November 1st, 2013, I started participating in the November Poem-A-Day (PAD) challenge on Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides Blog. This involved writing a poem a day for a month, inspired by daily prompts. As I read that day’s prompt, my radio was tuned to an NPR station. The hourly newscast was on, and I heard about an airport shooting in Los Angeles. I don’t remember Robert Lee Brewer’s prompt, but somehow, that news story fit so I started writing and came up with the following poem from That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, my chapbook to be released by Finishing Line Press at the end of August.

LOS ANGELES, NOVEMBER 1ST, 2013

 

In a busy airport,

they appear, running,

amid the sound of gunfire.

Some fall–others keep going,

one dead—more wounded–why?

Have you ever been struck by a news story such as the events of 9/11?

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

 

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A Park for All Seasons

In the summer of 1973 when I was twelve, my family moved from Tucson, Arizona, to Sheridan, Wyoming. One day, Mother took me and my younger brother Andy to Kendrick Park to play. We spun on the merry-go-round, catapulted down the slide, and swung higher, higher, higher with the help of Mother who pushed us. I fell off the swing when it was pushed too high, and I lost my grip on the handholds. Afterward, Mother bought us ice cream at the nearby stand, a chocolate malt for me and a fire stick cone for Andy.

Across the road was a footbridge over Big Goose Creek. We crossed it and stood on the opposite bank, tossing stones in the water. Fascinated, I watched with my limited vision, as rocks soared, then spiraled down to land with a loud splash. This was something we never did in Tucson.

The next day, I got a sense of how small Sheridan was compared to Tucson when I asked Mother if we could play at the same park where we went the day before. She laughed and said, “Of course. It’s the only one there is.”

Through the years, we also enjoyed concerts at the band shell and swam in the pool. My parents and brother played tennis on the courts. As a teen-ager, I walked through the park and up the hill to the high school. When we got a male Irish setter named Clancy, we often took him for walks in the park. Sometimes, Dad drove through the park, letting Clancy run alongside the car, his ears flopping in the breeze, his red fur coat gleaming in the sunlight.

Now, both parents are gone, and my brother lives miles away with a family of his own. I still live here in Sheridan, not too far from Kendrick Park.

I still buy ice cream and attend concerts at the band shell. Instead of throwing rocks in the creek, I walk alongside it on a cement path that winds past houses, a soccer field, and a senior apartment complex. It was here that I came up with the inspiration for two poems from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver: “Ducks on the Sidewalk” and “A Spring Constitutional.”

Sheridan now has other parks. Whitney Common is nice. I walk through there from time to time on my way downtown from the YMCA or to the library. It’s a walking park with a playground, fountain, and small amphitheater.

Thorne-Rider Park has a baseball stadium where the local VFW team plays every summer. My singing group has occasionally performed the national anthem to start a game and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the fifth inning stretch. There are two or three other parks and even one for dogs, but I’ve never visited them. No other park holds the same memories that Kendrick does. What do you remember about parks in your community?

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcomeand How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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My Writing Process

Two authors invited me to participate in a blog tour that involves answering four questions about how I write and tagging them and other authors in the process. First, let me tell you about the authors who invited me.

Traci McDonald lives in Utah and is the author of Killing Casanova, a western romance. Her blog is called Writing Blind. She says, “I have been a writer since I figured out how to make words on a page. I wrote for English classes like most people, but I wrote everything else I could think of in between. I won minor competitions with short stories, poetry, and lyrics before becoming visually impaired. That is just a politically correct way of saying I am blind. I lost my eyesight 17 years ago, but it never stopped me. I have struggled with my health and raising kids, prior to the publication of my first novel.”

Deon Lions is also blind. He lost his sight in 2010 and is the author of Sully Street, a young adult novel now available on Amazon. He is working on a prequel, Goodbye Savannah and has published a second book, Ready, Set, Poetry. He lives with his wife of 32 years in Central Maine. His writing has been published in newspapers and online magazines and has appeared in various publications associated with his writing groups. His work has also been published in local newspapers, and he has appeared on Internet radio shows. With help from family and friends, he hopes to continue moving forward with new aspirations. His blog is called Surviving.

Now, here are my answers to four questions about my writing process.

What am I working on? My chapbook, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press so I’m promoting that. It’s important that the publisher receive as many pre-orders as possible because that will determine how many books will be printed. If Finishing Line Press receives less than 55 pre-orders, they will only do a limited printing with no eBook.

How does my work differ from others in its genre? My poetry is straightforward with few abstract concepts. It’s easy to understand. My late husband was never a fan of poetry, but he liked mine.

Why do I write what I do? As the song goes, “I don’t know why. I just do.”

How does my writing process work? I do most of my writing on a computer with the help of screen reading software and a Braille display. I could edit, edit, edit until the cows come home, but I probably wouldn’t get anything published. Since my late husband was a baseball fan, I have adapted the three strikes and you’re out rule of editing. Before submitting something, I read it through three times, correcting mistakes and making changes as I go. If I feel I need to read it a fourth time, I will. Otherwise, I spell check it, and then it goes to a magazine or publisher, and what will be will be. Some people may turn their noses up at this, but every writer has his/her own way of doing things, and no technique is right for everyone. With two books under my belt, a third on the way, and stories and poems published in various journals and anthologies, I think I have a lot to show for my writing process.

I invited two other authors to participate in this blog tour, but only one responded, saying she was too busy.  However, I see no reason why I can’t share information about them and links to their blogs. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the exposure.

Alethea Williams is the author of Walls for the Wind, and Willow Vale. You can visit her blog, Actually Alethea, by clicking here. “Western history has been the great interest of my adult life. I’ve lived in Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon. Although an amateur historian, I am happiest researching different times and places in the historical West. And while staying true to history, I try not to let the facts overwhelm my stories. Story always comes first in my novels, and plot arises from the relationships between my characters. I’m always open to reader response to my writing.”

Glenda C. Beall is a poet, teacher, and mentor in Hayesville, North Carolina. She has two blogs: Writing Life Stories and Writers Circle Around the Table. Her poetry chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2009. She suffers from a chemical sensitivity disorder which a lot of people don’t understand, and this is sometimes reflected in her writing.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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In Loving Memory of Dad

My father passed away last year, and I’d almost forgotten about Father’s Day. This morning after reading blogger Alice Massa’s post in which she shares an acrostic poem about her father, I decided to re-blog a post from last year. It’s pasted below. I hope all fathers reading this have a special day Sunday.

Lessons Learned from Dad

My fondest childhood memories are of Dad and me listening to music together. Dad loved to play the old standards on those scratchy long-playing records by such artists as Fats Waller and Nat King Cole. These songs taught me lessons that I’m pretty sure Dad wanted me to learn.

If “The Joint is Jumpin,” you’re going to get in trouble. No man will like you if “Your Feet’s Too Big.” You’d better “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” I also learned to appreciate “Seafood, Mama” but not until I was an adult.

Dad also tried to teach me the value of money. He thought he’d succeeded until I sold my wheelchair accessible van last month because Bill was gone, and I no longer needed it. George, who responded to my ad, asked if I could take a thousand dollars off the price because the switch on the back of the vehicle that automatically opened the doors to the lift didn’t work, and the lift needed to be re-sized to fit his electric wheelchair. Because he appeared to be in desperate need of this vehicle, I agreed. Dad was livid. He claimed that it wouldn’t have cost a thousand dollars to fix these problems, but what he didn’t understand was a lesson I didn’t learn from him.

Although money is important, being helped and passing on that good deed to another is more valuable. Several years ago, Bill and I really wanted a van we could use to go places at night and on weekends when the local paratransit service wasn’t running. We were lucky to find someone willing to sell us such a vehicle at a price we could afford. When George came to my home in response to my ad, I could tell right away he was in the position we were in several years ago. I didn’t really need that extra thousand dollars, and he needed the van.

I leave you now with another lesson I did learn from Dad via Louis Armstrong. Despite the hateful things going on around us, we live in a “Wonderful World.” To my dad and others reading this, I hope you have a special Father’s Day.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Pre-order That’s Life today!

 

What is Love? by Abbie

In my monthly post to Writing Wranglers and Warriors, I included a poem that answers a nagging question I had after my late husband Bill proposed . I’m re-blogging that here.

Writing Wranglers and Warriors

Displaying abbie profile.JPGThis Post by Abbie Taylor

When my late husband Bill proposed to me, it was a complete shock. For two years after meeting through a magazine, we’d carried on a long distance relationship via e-mail and phone. He lived in Fowler, Colorado, 500 miles away from my hometown of Sheridan, Wyoming. I thought he just wanted to be friends so when I received that Braille letter in January of 2005, I didn’t know what to think.

Although I’d had friendly relationships with men over the years, none were romantic, and no man ever proposed marriage. When I read Bill’s words, “Dear Abbie, I’m writing to ask for your hand in marriage,’” I felt as if my world had been hit by a tsunami.

At first, I thought Bill wanted me to move to Fowler, Colorado. I wasn’t about to pull up roots and start over in a new town where…

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That’s Life

Last Christmas while visiting my brother and his family in Jupiter, Florida, we planned a trip to West Palm Beach to see a production of The Nutcracker. My thirteen-year-old niece wanted to go shopping and stay overnight with a friend instead of accompanying her family to some boring ballet. The ensuing argument between her and her mother inspired the title poem in my chapbook, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, due to be released by Finishing Line Press at the end of August.

THAT’S LIFE

For Anna

Oh you of thirteen years,

when told you can’t go to the mall

or sleep over with a friend,

please understand that’s the way life is.

If you grow up thinking

you’ll always have your way,

you’ll be sadly disappointed

so better put on your big girl pants—

deal with it.

Do you remember when you were thirteen? How about when your children or grandchildren were thirteen?

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Pre-order my new chapbook today!