A Day in the Life…

For over twenty years, I’ve been taking water fitness classes at the YMCA. I once heard that water exercise is better for you than anything done on land because it is low impact, and the water offers more resistance. I like it because in the pool, I don’t feel like I’m working up a sweat like I did when I used to take aerobics classes out of the water. Besides the usual jumping jacks, jogging, and other exercises you would do in an aerobics class, we work with floatation devices and other equipment in the water to strengthen our muscles.

Over the years, I’ve had many wonderful instructors. One of them struck my fancy. Besides teaching water fitness and swim classes at the YMCA, she drives a school bus and manages a farm. Despite everything she has to do, she takes the time to bake cookies or other treats that she brings on the last day of each session for us to enjoy as a reward for all our hard work in the water. Her energy and enthusiasm inspired the following poem from That’s Life: New and Selected Poems.

A DAY IN LORRAINE’S LIFE

Up with the rooster,

she milks cows, feeds and waters stock,

gathers eggs, shovels manure.

After breakfast, it’s off to the bus barn.

She picks up children from other farms,

drives them twenty miles to school.

After that, she goes to the YMCA,

jumps in the pool, once, twice, three times,

encourages adults to jog, jump,

breast stroke while sitting on kick boards,

teaches little kids to swim,

makes sure no one drowns.

In the afternoon, back in her school bus,

she drives kids home.

When she returns to the farm,

there’s milking to do,

stock to feed and water,

more manure to shovel, supper to fix,

and oh yes, she must bake cookies

for her water exercise classes.

Tomorrow’s the last day—

they should be rewarded.

 

What do you like to do for exercise?

 

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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Holiday Hardship

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and like other holidays, it’s not something I look forward to, especially with no close relatives. I’ll probably eat lunch at the senior center. They’re having barbecued pork sandwiches which sounds pretty good. I may run into my former high school English teacher who eats there every day. She was one of those teachers who inspired me to read, and although she’s elderly and forgetful, I still enjoy eating lunch with her.

I remember great times we had on the Fourth of July when I was a kid. In Tucson, Arizona, we attended fireworks displays. At first, I covered my ears to shut out the loud bangs, but with my limited vision, I watched, fascinated, as colorful shapes exploded in the night sky. When we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, there were no public displays so we bought our own fireworks and shot them off at home, although it was illegal. One time, Dad was kneeling in the middle of the street, about to light one, when we spotted a car coming slowly towards him the way police cars did when patrolling the neighborhood. We stood with baited breath, wondering if we would spend the rest of the holiday behind bars, but as the vehicle pulled to the curb in front of our house, we realized it was Grandma. We were never more glad to see her than at that time.

The following from That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, compares how sad holidays can be without close family to how difficult they can be when all the relatives congregate at my house to celebrate. It talks more about Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the concept is the same for all holidays.

HOLIDAY HARDSHIP

 

Thanksgiving is coming.

Already, a friend far away

asks if I have plans.

I’ll spend Christmas

in the tropics with my brother,

but Thanksgiving’s up in the air

with no husband, father, mother.

Other relatives have plans.

 

At least I don’t have to clean the house,

shop, prepare food for twelve people,

pick up after everyone,

deal with leftovers

while men watch football,

women fail to be helpful,

children run around,

scream, argue, cry.

It’s not the same.

What do you remember about the Fourth of July when you were growing up?

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 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

 

Pre-order That’s Life Today!

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

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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Magnets and Ladders Spring/Summer Issue Now Online

Magnets and Ladders is an online magazine featuring work by authors with disabilities such as myself. You’ll find stories, essays, poems, articles about writing, and contest information. Even if you’re not a disabled author, I think you’ll enjoy this publication. It contains, among other things, two of my short stories and one of my poems. I’ll post these works here in coming weeks, but in the meantime, please check out all the wonderful work Magnets and Ladders has to offer at http://www.magnetsandladders.org/wp/.

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

An Encounter with a Drunk Indian

When I was a student at Rocky Mountain College and Montana State University, both located in Billings, I often traveled the 150-mile trip home to Sheridan by bus. Years later, I heard a radio interview with a writer who published a collection of poems based on her experiences traveling across the country on a bus. After hearing her read some of her poems about people she encountered on her journeys, I remembered a particular experience I had and was inspired to write the following poem which appears in this year’s issue of Serendipity Poets Journal.

Intoxicated Crow on a Trailways Bus

December, 1984, in the early afternoon,

I board a bus in Billings, Montana,

for the three-hour trip to Sheridan, Wyoming.

A college student going home for Christmas,

I sit behind and to the right of the driver.

Storm clouds gather, as the bus leaves town.

 

An hour later, he gets on at Crow Agency,

sits next to me, tells me he’s Crow.

I tell him I’m one small part Cherokee,

the truth, but he doesn’t respond.

I ask where he’s going.

He says nothing—we ride in silence.

It starts to snow.

 

In the darkness about twenty miles outside of Sheridan,

the bus is surrounded by white.

The driver, a robust black man, slows down.

Wipers slap their own rhythm against the windshield.

 

The Crow tells me he’s scared.

I ask why—he doesn’t reply.

He stands, stumbles to the back,

returns, places his long legs over my short ones.

 

The busybody behind me asks if I’m comfortable.

I tell her I’m fine—I’m almost home, anyway.

She marches to the driver,

tells him about the drunk Indian on my lap.

After glancing in our direction,

the driver pulls the bus to the side of the road,

approaches the Crow, gives his shoulders a rough shake,

carries him off the bus.

Driver and Crow disappear in the swirling white.

 

I see no buildings, no trees,

nothing to shelter one ejected from a bus.

The driver returns, mumbles,

puts the bus in gear.

Wondering, I disembark in Sheridan

to begin my Christmas vacation.

Have you ever traveled anywhere on a Trailways or Greyhound bus? Did you meet any interesting people?

 

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