Graduation Revisited

Last year, I shared this poem when one of my nephews and a cousin graduated from high school. Today, my other nephew Tristan is graduating from high school, so this poem is worth a re-post. It’s an acrostic, so you’ll note the first letter of each line, in bold font, spells the word “graduate.” Click below to hear me read the poem and sing a song I remember performing years ago with a choir at a graduation ceremony. Congratulations to Tristan and anyone else graduating this year.

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Graduate

 

Go out into the world–never look back.

Reach for the top–always look forward.

Aim as high as you can.

Dream as big as possible.

Use your mind, heart, hands,

and know you can do anything.

Trust your instincts.

Energize your life.

***

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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.

 

Barfing on the High Seas

One morning years ago at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Los Angeles, while most of my extended family was gathered for my uncle’s wedding, we were sitting around the pool, discussing what we would do that day. The men wanted to go sailing, and the women wanted to see some sights. At the age of twenty-three, I’d never been on a sailboat but had done my fair share of sightseeing, and being young and visually impaired, I didn’t find that at all appealing.

When I invited myself to go sailing with my brother, dad, and two uncles, they readily agreed, and we set off. At a marina, we found a captain willing to take us on a three-hour cruse for a fee, which would increase if we made a mess. Before heading out, we ate lunch at a nearby establishment where I had a cheeseburger with French fries and a Coke. Once we hit the high seas, I wished more than ever that I’d gone to look at museums and other attractions with my grandmother and aunts.

I wrote a poem about this experience several years ago. Kathy Waller’s 100-word short story inspired me to post it. Click on the title to hear me read it.

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THIRTY-FOOT SLOOP

 

In the summer of 1984, my family sets sail

from a marina at Redondo Beach, California.

The rented boat glides through smooth port waters.

 

A college kid, the only woman on board,

once we hit rough waters,

my stomach revolts.

Moments later, while holding the leaking sack

containing what was once my lunch, Uncle Tony asks,

“Will the EPA mind if I throw this overboard?”

 

“No problem,” says Shawn, the captain.

He hands me a bucket,

places a hand on my shoulder

while I let it all out.

 

A helicopter whirrs overhead.

“They’re making a movie,” Uncle Jon speculates.

Oh boy, I always wanted to be in a movie,

I think, huddled over my white bucket,

Barfing on the High Seas.

 

Later, Shawn reminisces about man overboard drills.

Still nauseated, I glance at the water, the shore.

If I jump in, try to swim,

will I make it?

 

After three hours, back in calm waters,

I step onto the dock,

exhausted, sunburned—it could be worse.

***

Afterward, I learned that the women not only saw some sights but also went to an ice cream parlor where they encountered a celebrity from Hill Street Blues. Oh well, some choices we make in life aren’t always good ones.

***

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.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Blog Party Invitation

Thanks to the inspiration of another blogger, on Friday, March 17th, I’ll be hosting my first ever blog party. No matter where you live, you can come to this party from the comfort of your own computer, smart phone, or other device that can access my blog. Bring your own food and drink, and let’s have a great time. Here’s how it will work.

Bright and early Friday morning, I’ll start things off by re-blogging a post from several years ago that will be fitting for St. Patrick’s Day. At that time, you will be invited to select a favorite post from your own blog and copy a link to it along with a description of your blog in the comments field. The post doesn’t need to be Irish-related. If you don’t have a blog, you can choose a favorite post from a blog you follow. Afterward, you can read other postings in the comments section, and you may be inspired to start a blog of your own if you don’t already have one.

The idea here is to meet other bloggers and give ourselves more exposure. Please share this with your friends, using the social media links below or by email. Let’s start the weekend off right with a great St. Patrick’s Day blog party.

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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.

 

Glenda Bealle, An Inspiration

Since 2010, in her studio in Hayesville, North Carolina, Glenda C. Bealle has been teaching and inviting guest instructors to teach classes in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, family history writing, and publishing. Her work has been published in various magazines, anthologies, and newspapers, and she has appeared on The Writers Show in Chattanooga. She has published two books: a poetry collection, Now Might as Well be Then, in 2009, and a family history, Profiles and Pedigrees: Thomas Charles Council and His Descendants, in 1998. She has two blogs: Writer’s Circle and Writing Life Stories. She hosts Coffee with the Poets and Writers at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville monthly and is involved with the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West.

Glenda has worn a variety of hats: painter, schoolteacher, HAM radio operator, caregiver, newsletter editor, Christmas tree farmer, choir member, gardener and public relations and sales person. Having grown up on a farm with six brothers and sisters, she can drive a tractor, a stick shift, and a motorcycle. When she was younger, her favorite activity was horseback riding. Loving animals, especially dogs, she advocates for preventing the birth of unwanted pets by spaying and neutering.

She suffers from MCS, a respiratory disorder that causes her to be sensitive to synthetic chemical fragrances and scented laundry soap and dryer sheets. Most people in public places inadvertently wear such fragrances, but that doesn’t stop her from getting out and promoting her work, networking with other writers, and advocating for clean indoor air.

She loves teaching and helping other writers reach their goals. I’ve never been fortunate enough to attend any of her classes, since I’m in Wyoming, miles away from North Carolina, but her blog posts and other writing have inspired me, and I can imagine what a wonderful teacher she must be. If you live near Hayesville North Carolina, I recommend checking out her studio. If you’re like me, too far away, you can at least visit her blogs and learn more about her published books.

You may wonder why I’m plugging her all of a sudden. Well, she and I follow each other’s blogs, and this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find this post in my email in box. This is one of many articles she has written about me on her blog in which she considers me an inspiration. I’m not that religious, but I’ve always been a fan of The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Not remembering the last time I mentioned Glenda on my blog, I realize it’s now time for me to praise her as much as she has praised me.

In her post, she says I make her feel like a do-nothing person. Okay, she doesn’t travel to nursing homes and other facilities with a guitar when not writing, but she gives in other ways. She inspires other writers, not just those who take her classes. Many of my poems and stories don’t really fit literary markets, but Glenda is well-known in such circles, despite the fact that her MCS makes being out in public difficult. I find that truly amazing. I appreciate her saying how much I inspire her, but she also inspires me. One good inspiration deserves another.

***

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.

 

Scam the Scammer

Abbie-1

Thanks to A. Marie Silver for inspiring another post. For years when I had a landline, I got calls from a gentleman, usually with an accent, claiming to be from Microsoft. He told me he was getting error messages from my computer. The first time he called, my PC wasn’t even on. I hung up, realizing it was probably a scam. Until I had my landline disconnected, he kept calling, and I kept hanging up.

It has since occurred to me that I could have tried to fight fire with fire. Here’s how such a phone call might have gone if I’d been using my head.

***

Me: Hello.

Scammer: Hello, Mrs. Taylor, this is So So from Microsoft. How are you today?

Me: Fine thanks, how about you?

Scammer: I’m great. Thanks for asking. I’m calling today because I’ve been getting error messages from your computer.

Me: Oh really, it’s funny you should call. I heard about your scam, but don’t hang up. I want to help you.

Scammer: Really?

Me: Yes, I’ll give you whatever information you need if you’ll do something for me.

Scammer: Okay, what?

Me: I’m a writer. Surely you’ve heard of me. My last ten books made the New York Times #1 bestseller list.

Scammer: No, I don’t think so.

Me: Well, anyway, I’m writing a book about people like you, social engineers. I need you to tell me about people you’ve successfully scammed and why you did it. This could be another bestseller for me. I could make a lot of money and maybe give you a percentage plus the information you need about my computer.

Scammer: Are you trying to scam me?

Me: Of course I am. How does that make you feel?

Scammer: Well, I’m pissed off. Duh!

Me: All right then, why do you like pissing off other people by scamming them?

Scammer: End call.

***

Now that I just have a cell phone, I don’t receive such calls anymore. I wish I’d thought of the above plan when I had the landline. Oh well, that’s life.

***

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.

 

Memoir Depicts Life of Negro Poet

Abbie-1

The Big Sea

By Langston Hughes

Copyright 1940

 

Through a series of essays, this well-known Negro author tells the story of his life. He describes growing up in Kansas during the early 20th century where his mother waited tables to support the family. His father left for Mexico where he eventually got rich. Hughes talks about how as a boy, he pretended to be saved at a revival meeting to please his aunt with whom he was staying at the time.

Before his senior year in high school and again after graduation, he spent time with his father in Mexico. He describes how he was disillusioned with his father’s big dreams for him and his ineptness at figures. He also explains how he ended up teaching English to Mexican students and how he eventually persuaded his father to pay his tuition at Columbia University in New York. After a year in college, he dropped out and signed onto various ships. He describes his travels to Africa, France, and Italy with periodic bouts at home with his family. In Paris, he worked as a chef and waiter and met musicians, dancers, and other entertainers.

In the 1920’s, after losing his passport in Italy and working his way home, he decided to go back to college, this time at Lincoln University near Philadelphia. He describes life at this black college with all white faculty and the black society in Harlem where he spent many of his vacations. He did some traveling in the south and gives his impressions of how Negros were treated there as opposed to New York and Washington D.C. where his family eventually re-located.

All the while, he wrote poems and stories which were published in various periodicals and a novel. He explains what inspired many of his poems and provides excerpts.

After he graduated from Lincoln University, a white patron offered to provide financial support while he published his novel. After the book was released, he had a falling out with the rich woman when he couldn’t write anything that pleased her. He also describes another fall-out he had with a fellow author he met in Harlem over a play on which they collaborated but was never produced. In the end, he describes his determination to make a living as a writer.

The recording of this book I downloaded from Audible contains a new introduction written and read by Arnold Rampersad, in which he provides a lengthy synopsis of the book plus excerpts. I found this interesting but a bit redundant after reading the book. As far as I was concerned though, Dominic Hoffman, the book’s narrator, was Langston Hughes.

Since February is Black History Month, a friend recommended this book, and I’m glad she did. It reminded me of another book I was required to read in high school, Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, in which the white author describes how he disguised himself as a Negro in order to better understand the black experience in the south. Unlike Hughes, Griffin could walk away from being black, although he was ostracized when his book was published. Hughes had many of the same experiences Griffin describes. I think The Big Sea should also be required reading. The more we can expose our young people to the atrocities of the early 20th century, perhaps the more tolerant of minorities and intolerance of racists they will be when they grow up.

***

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.

 

A Poem Rings True

Abbie-1

I wrote the following last night in light of events during the past week. It was inspired by the song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Click on the title to hear me read it.

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NOTHING RINGING

 

I heard no bells on Christmas Day,

no familiar carol,

no song of peace on Earth,

only bad news:

 

war raging in the Middle East,

a sea plane crash in Russia,

a friend’s canine companion passing,

another friend’s mother diagnosed with breast cancer,

a third’s mother hospitalized with dehydration,

actress Carrie Fisher dead from a heart attack.

 

There may be no peace on earth,

no good will to men,

but hope still lives.

***

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.