To Ana on Prom Night

It’s that time of year again, believe it or not. I was inspired to write the following poem when my sister-in-law posted a picture of my niece and her prom date. You can click on the title to hear me read it.

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TO ANA ON Prom NIGHT

You two are a striking couple,
standing in an embrace, smiling,
dressed in your junior prom finery.

Was it just yesterday
when your mother and my brother
posed for a similar photo on their wedding day?
At fourteen,
you were the maid of honor, remember?

Now, you’re growing up fast.
Before we know it,
you’ll be attending your senior prom,
then graduation, college, life
with so much ahead.

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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: The Poetry of Billy Collins

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’m reviewing two collections by one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins. . Some of you may remember that I reviewed The Rain in Portugal last year, but I’ve since read it again, and it’s worth a second look.

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Aimless Love: A Selection of Poems
Copyright 2012.

The poems in this collection provide slice-of-life and often humorous reflections on such topics as nature, religion, and other poets. In “The Revenant,” a deceased dog talks to his owner from the grave. In “The Lanyard,” the author describes how he made a lanyard for his mother, who did a lot more for him. In “Suggestion Box,” he considers writing a poem about all the people who give him poem ideas. The title poem is about unconditional love. Some poems here are previously published while others are new.

If you’re a poet, Billy Collins might inspire you. After reading “The Revenant,” I wrote a poem in which one of our cats speaks to my father from her grave. “Istanbul,” in which the poet shares his experience with a Turkish bath, inspired me to write about a similar experience I had in a California spa run by Koreans. Even if you’re not a fan of poetry, you might enjoy Billy Collins’ work, since most of it reads more like prose, although it looks like poetry on the page.

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The Rain in Portugal: Poems
Copyright 2016.

In the author’s usual humorous style, poems in this collection reflect on jazz, writing poetry, and other subjects. In “Lucky Cat,” Collins suggests betting with other humans on the actions of felines. In “Only Child,” he longs for a sister to help care for his aging parents. In “The Bard in Flight,” he imagines what Shakespeare would do on an airplane. The collection’s title comes from the poem “On Rhyme,” in which he reflects on such common sayings as “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”

I heard about this latest collection when he appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. . Of course he read a few of his poems, and I was hooked. Needless to say, I downloaded the book and spent a delightful evening reading the poems aloud to myself.

According to an author’s note at the beginning, the electronic version of this book is designed so that formatting isn’t affected when the font size of the type is changed. Words at the ends of lines that are moved down when text is enlarged are indented to indicate they’re part of the same line. This didn’t make any difference to me, since I read the book in Braille, but I’m glad those with low vision can enjoy the poems the way they were written. These poems are meant to be recited, preferably by
Billy Collins, but I enjoyed reading them aloud.

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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: The Imortalists

The Immortalists
Benjamin, Chloe.
Copyright 2018.

In 1969, four Jewish children in New York City visit a psychic who tells each one of them the day he or she will die. These children grow up, all the while aware of their predicted death dates. The two youngest, Simon and Clara, move to San Francisco, where Simon, who is gay, becomes a dancer, and Clara becomes a magician, marries, and has a child. The next youngest, Daniel, marries and becomes a doctor, and the oldest, Varia, becomes a scientist.

I read about this book on an email list. One thing I didn’t like was the author’s shift between present and past tense. She uses past tense mostly for flashbacks, but at times, I wasn’t sure if she was flashing back or in the present. As a writer myself, I prefer the use of past tense only with flashbacks perhaps told in the past imperfect tense.

Otherwise, I found this book fascinating. I like the way the author explores the question of to know or not to know when you’ll die. It also makes you wonder if those children’s lives would have been different if they hadn’t visited that psychic and heard her predictions of when they would die.

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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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Stay Away from My Tree House

Last year, a day care center opened next door to me. One day, I overheard one or two children admiring, from afar, the tree house in my back yard. The following poem was inspired by one of those “what if” moments I get as a writer.

What if one of those kids sneaked into my yard, climbed my tree, then fell? What if I wasn’t home, and the child lay injured on the ground for hours before help arrived? What if his parents sued me? The tree house has since been taken down due to concerns about the tree’s stability.

This poem was published in Mingled Voices 2, an anthology produced by Proverse Poetry of Hong Kong. You can click the link below to hear me read it.

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stay away from my treehouse.mp3

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STAY AWAY FROM My TREE HOUSE

Little one, it looks inviting, doesn’t it,
a house nestled in an old oak tree?
It’s far from homey.

It came with this house I bought ten years ago.
I don’t know how long it’s been there,
wooden ladder rickety, perhaps unstable.

If you manage to get to the top,
who knows if the structure would bear weight?
Like the cradled baby in the treetop,
you and the house could tumble down, down, down,
land on the ground all broken.

The ambulance would take you away.
Wearing a body cast from head to toe,
you’d spend weeks, months in the hospital.
Unable to do anything
but lie there and watch television,
you’d long to be outside with your friends.
Dora the Explorer would get old after a while.

Your parents would sue me.
I’d have to sell my house
in order to pay your hospital bill,
move to a senior apartment complex,
where I could no longer enjoy my own back yard,

so you’d better not climb into my tree house
if you know what’s good for both of us.

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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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Re-Blog: Full Worm Moon of March 2nd

Happy Easter and happy Spring. Today, I’m re-blogging a post by fellow blogger Lynda Lambert, who encourages poets to submit a poem about gardening to The Weekly Avocet as part of its gardening challenge. This morning, I wrote an acrostic poem about gardening, which I plan to submit. I triple dog dare any of you poets out there to try your hand at writing a poem about gardening, if you haven’t already done so, and submit it to The Weekly Avocet. Today is the first day of National Poetry Month, so start scribbling. Now Here’s Lynda’s post.

Full Worm Moon of March 2nd

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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: A Broom of One’s Own

A Broom of One’s Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning, and Life
Peacock, Nancy.
Copyright 2008.

In this funny and inspiring memoir, acclaimed novelist Nancy Peacock shares experiences from her days as a housecleaner, an occupation she undertook to support her writing. Each chapter tells a different story about her interactions with one or more of her clients. She describes what it was like to work for people in a gated community she calls “the promised land.” She touches on her relationships, interjects stories about her writing life, and provides advice to other writers. In the end, she explains how and why she finally quit the housecleaning business and started teaching and keeping her own house clean.

This book was recommended on a blog I follow, and I’m glad I picked it up. I laughed at some of her anecdotes and sympathized with her in many situations with clients, who appeared to be mostly rich snobs. The way she was treated sometimes, it’s a wonder she continued cleaning houses for as long as she did. I think anyone, not just writers, would find this book an interesting read.

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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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Reblog–Why Do David Baldacci and I Write?

It just so happens that one of my book discussion groups will be talking about one of David Baldacci’s books next month. Naturally, I was curious about why this author wrote. In this post, Kathy Waller provides quotes from this and other authors on why they write and presents one of the first things she wrote when she was a kid. Enjoy!

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Why Do David Baldacci and I Write?

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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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