Friday Fun Poetry Challenge: Fall and Try

This feature was created by Colleen Chesebro. For guidelines, click here.

This week’s words are “fall” and try.” I decided to try my hand at a Tanka this time. As the guidelines suggest, I used synonyms of the words, “tumble” and “attempt.” See what you think.

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When first I tumble,

I rise, re-attempt my feat.

I am successful.

Failure will never stop me.

Quitting isn’t an option.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

 

Thursday Book Feature: Breakfast at the Good Hope Home

Breakfast at the Good Hope Home

By Mike Bayles

Copyright 2017

 

Through prose and poetry, this novella describes how a young man deals with his father being placed in a nursing home after he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. In ninety-six pages, the author details the last eight years of the father’s life and how the son and his mother cope. Besides the story and poems, all told from the son’s point of view, the book also includes historical and other information about Alzheimer’s Disease.

When I first read an interview with Mike Bayles on the blog, Scan, in which he talks about the book, I found it intriguing, having once been a registered music therapist working with nursing home residents afflicted by dementia. I was disconcerted by the fact that none of the characters have names except for Becky, the certified nursing assistant at the Good Hope Home who cares for the young man’s father. Then again, this story is short. It only took me about an hour to read with my Amazon Echo device. That doesn’t give readers a lot of time to connect with characters, so I can see why the author didn’t name many of them. Since nurses’ aides in skilled care facilities play a more pivotal role in the care of such residents, I can understand why Mike Bayles gave her a name.

Eight years is a long time to watch the slow decline of a loved one with dementia, so I’m glad this story is mercifully short. I recommend it to anyone dealing with Alzheimer’s. It would also make a great training tool for health care professionals learning to work with such patients.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

Thursday Book Feature–The Star-Spangled Banner: Cornerstones of Freedom

The Star-Spangled Banner: Cornerstones of Freedom
by Deborah Kent
Copyright 1995.

This is a chronicle, for young readers, of how our national anthem was written. The author starts by explaining how an elderly doctor in Maryland was arrested for mistreating British soldiers when he refused them wine and ordered townspeople to arrest them. She then describes how Francis Scott Key, a lawyer who wrote poetry on the side, came to represent the old doctor and ended up on a small boat tethered to one of the British ships during the battle at Fort McHenry near Baltimore. She talks about how Key was inspired to write the poem, as he observed bombs bursting in mid-air and marveled that the flag remained at full mast until dawn when the British retreated. She then explains how the poem became a song and how the song eventually became our national anthem. The book includes the lyrics with all four verses, a glossary, a timeline, and other information.

Since Deborah Kent was a recent guest speaker at a meeting of Behind our Eyes, a writers’ group to which I belong, I thought it a good idea to read one of her books, which are written primarily for children. This book’s language is such that it can be appreciated by adults. Being a poet and a musician who has performed the national anthem, I was intrigued by how Francis Scott Key jotted the poem on a piece of scratch paper while watching the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. Although this song can be difficult to sing because of its wide vocal range, I can see now how fitting it is as our national anthem. This book not only teaches young people about that part of our history but can open their eyes to how a poet is inspired.

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Now here’s a little treat. Click this link to hear me sing our national anthem.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Thursday Tidbit: Prologue–My Ideal Partner–Excerpt

Today, I’m trying a new feature. I normally post book reviews on Thursday, but since I don’t always have books to review, in that case, I’ll toot my own horn instead of that of another author. Today’s tidbit is from My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

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This couldn’t be happening, I told myself, as, in my underwear, I paced the upstairs hall in Grandma’s house between my aunt’s old bedroom and the bathroom. It was the afternoon of September 10, 2005. In the yard, I heard strains of music from the string duo my father hired for the occasion and the chatter of arriving guests. Soon the ceremony would start. Would I have to walk down the aisle on my father’s arm in my underwear? Where was my sister–in–law, Kathleen, who agreed to be matron of honor?

She was probably still at the motel with my brother, Andy; their two sons, Dylan and Tristan, ages eight and six, who were to be ushers; and their two–year–old daughter, Isabella, who would serve as flower girl. Not only were we missing ushers and a flower girl, but my dress was with Kathleen at the motel, or so I thought. Why wasn’t she here?

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Now, here’s a recording of me singing a song I wanted to sing at our wedding but didn’t think I could without losing it.

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annie’s song.mp3

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For more information about My Ideal Partner and ordering links, click here.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Running Through the Sprinkler (Poetry)

The following poem was recently published in The Weekly Avocet. This is a haibun, a poetry form that combines a paragraph of prose with a stanza of haiku. You can click the link below to hear me read it.

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running through the sprinkler.mp3

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RUNNING THROUGH THE SPRINKLER

I stand on the sidewalk, a jet of cold water in front of me, my impaired eyes unable to find a way around it, as cars whoosh by on the busy street. The ninety-degree sun beats down. A tepid breeze caresses my face. I remember how fun it was to run through the sprinkler as a kid. Why not, I think. With a hearty “Yahoo!” I dash into the water’s inviting coolness.

a hot summer day
cold water sweeps over me
I’m a child again

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What did you do to cool off in the summer when you were a kid?

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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My Most Precious Possession


During a memoir writing workshop at the Wyoming Writers conference I attended a couple of weeks ago, one of many story ideas we were given was this. If your house was on fire, and all the people and animals were safe, what would you take with you? This reminded me of a conversation I had with my sister-in-law years ago after they evacuated their home in Los Alamos, New Mexico, as a result of a forest fire that threatened the small town. Thankfully, their house remained in tact, but something my sister-in-law said made me want to strangle her.

She explained that since she and my brother didn’t know if their house would survive the fire, they’d crammed as many of their earthly possessions as they could into their mini-van including two small children and two cats. She’d insisted on taking their photo album, although there was little room. I wanted to tell her that more memories can be made and more pictures taken, but you can’t replace yourself or a loved one. Being a mother, she should have focused more on making sure she and her children were safe.

If my house were on fire, I suppose I might try to rescue my tablet and SD card containing some of my writing. Then again, call me vain, and maybe it’s my fear of fire and death that are talking, but my most precious possession is me. Photographs can be re-taken. Computers can be replaced. Writing can be rewritten. You can bake a cake again, even if you don’t have the recipe. Life, on the other hand, is the most precious possession of all.

What about you? If your house caught fire, and all the people and animals were safe, what would you take with you? I hope I’ve convinced you that this is a no-brainer, but if I haven’t, I’d be interested in reading about any treasured items you might try to rescue and the stories behind them. That’s the point of this exercise, anyway. You can share your stories on your own blog with a link here or in the comment field below. In any case, I hope to hear from you.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Thursday Book Feature: Guest Review–When Night Comes


Today, I’m pleased to present a guest review of an interesting collection of poems. I haven’t read this yet but hope to do so eventually. You can also read Lynda’s review on her blog, and it was published this week in The Weekly Avocet. It contains some information about Lynda’s most recent collection of essays and poems and an email address where she can be reached. Enjoy, and happy reading.

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When Night Comes

by Wesley Sims

A Book Review by Lynda McKinney Lambert

I met poet Wes Sims One Sunday morning while reading my weekly issue of a poetry magazine, The Weekly Avocet, published by Charles Portolano, featuring poetry that has a nature theme. In one particular issue, I encountered 3 Haiku poems by Sims. Each intrigued me for he presented new ways of looking at something ordinary. The poems caught my attention. Since Mr. Portolano encourages his writers to drop a note to other poets and to make friends with them, I sent a note to Wes Sims to say how much I enjoyed his poems.

Eventually, I learned about Wes Sims’ poetry chapbook, “When Night Comes,” because he sent me a copy. I’ve enjoyed reading this 28-page chapbook. It is a collection of twenty-four poems.

The chapbook’s cover is a moody black and white photo of a nocturnal landscape by the author. I thought “This is the perfect image for this collection of poems.” In addition to writing poetry, Sims likes to do photography. I found that the all-seeing-eye of the photographer is apparent in the poems, as I read through this collection. He sees and speaks of little details that might go unnoticed. It is in the description of the little things that we are brought into Sims’ world through his poems.

In “How to Use a Shoebox,” Wes Sims gives us his secret and intention for writing: “the impact of little things preserved” (p.4)

The mostly one-page poems are created by building up layers of finely nuanced accumulations. Sims is actively viewing and preserving as he writes the poems. Minute images are intertwined with his personal and private memories as he has known them in rural Tennessee.
Sims describes his world – the present and the distant or even the historical past of his rural landscapes in Tennessee. Reading through the poems brings the reader right into his family circle. This is the place where Past and Present merge. The poem becomes a confluence in which time is collapsed. The individuals he presents are not generalized people, but they are family and they are named: “grandson; grandmother; Mr. Newman; Sister; Dad; Mother; Uncle Bo; Mrs… Engle…” This gives us a feeling that we know them personally or that we have just met them even though many of the people who populate his poems are no longer in this world.
But, more than this Sims gives us a deeper understanding of life as he has known it – and we feel like we, too, have lived this life. In the poem, “Eyes to See,” he speaks of watching a blind man…

“Until one day, when I saw
Him in a church setting
Heard his lips sing out in prayer,
And received my revelation—
I was a blind man, too.”
(from “Eyes to See,” p. 24)

Through the book we see deserted old rundown barns and abandoned empty sheds; time-worn, rarely travelled roads up into the hills; and the last days of people who have passed away. No matter where we live or what our life is like, we relate to Wes Sims and his reflections on particular individuals, rural life, death of loved ones; flowers, dogs, songs, snakes, music, personal memory and history. We know that our lives are enriched by the small things and places we encounter over a lifetime. It all adds up, in the end. Unimportant and trivial things really do matter.

You can find this chapbook for sale on the publisher’s website:
Buy it at Finishing Line Press Also available on Amazon:
Buy it here! or better yet, write Wes at wes4words@att.net

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems by Lynda McKinney Lambert, Pennsylvania artist, teacher, and author Lynda McKinney Lambert invites readers into her world of profound sight loss to discover the subtle nuances and beauty of a physical and spiritual world. She takes strands from ancient mythology, history, and contemporary life and weaves a richly textured new fabric using images that are seen and unseen as she takes us on a year-long journey through the seasons. llambert@zoominternet.net

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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