The Best Way Out–

A political dramedy in Seussian verse

Here’s an excerpt from my ten-minute play that depicts the Cheetoh-in-chief’s first day as president.

DONALD TRUMP:
I’m huge with the good people in this great nation. paul-noth-trump-oath-cartoon

You could see them all at my inauguration. 

Millions were there to see me take the oath. 

And I used two Bibles--I needed them both. 

My hands are not tiny like some people say. 

In fact no part of me is, by the way.

If you enjoyed this snippet, here is a link to the whole play: best-way-out

And I couldn’t resist including this Paul Noth cartoon from the New Yorker.

Another Christmas season has come and gone

This is my annual holiday poem.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Xmas 2014

On 12/23 we filled bags with sand

And dropped in some candles we had on hand

As sunset approached we lit them all up

Dave made spiced cider—we all drank a cup

 

The flickering light put off a soft glow

A few caught on fire—which made quite a show

Old and new neighbors chatted together

Outside in the mild, warm Berkeley weather

xmas tree napkin

On Christmas Eve, we ate vegan cheese

And Dave turned all of our napkins to trees!

We drank Ritz cocktails and had some mulled wine

And then the five of us sat down to dine

 

We ate spinach salad, we ate mushroom crepes,

We drank champagne made from fermented grapes

Almond asparagus, carrots, and rolls

Food for our stomachs and wine for our souls

 

Julie brought dough, which we were all lovin’

We got to eat cookies straight out of the oven

Then Rachel arrived, and we’re so glad she came

We played Loaded Questions, our favorite game

 

Amanda stopped by while we sang ancient songs

But she’s not a singer and did not stay long

The kitchen was messy, but we went to bed

While visions of dishwashers danced in our heads

 

On Christmas morn we had waffles and fruit

Then opened our stockings to see all our loot

Santa had left lots of chocolate and liquors,

Artisan paper and all kinds of stickers

backpack

Then we moved on to the gifts ‘neath the tree

Where a black leather backpack was waiting for me

Dave got some books and some bicycle gear

Kylie now has enough socks for a year

 

Cartwheel got a toy, and Rufus got bones

And everyone got mini-chargers for phones

We were too hungry to wait for our suppers

So we ate some Chinese food as picker-uppers

xmas day P.I. walk

Then we all went for a walk with Rufus at P.I.

The air was warm and there was not a cloud up in the sky.

Dave began sautéing leeks to make his famed soufflé

To take to dinner in Marin at Chez CCGK

 

That’s Caroline, and Christopher, and little Ginger pup

And Kai is there, though just part-time because he’s growing up

Everyone is happy, and look—Aida’s here!

And it’s good to see Carina whom we hold so dear.

kylie & CAP xmas dinner

Asparagus and Yorkshire pudding—mmm, I couldn’t wait!

The homemade eggnog, leek soufflé, and roasted lamb were great.

Candy, cookies, and ice cream made our tummies merry

And Christmas ended with a rousing round of Pictionary

 

 

Poetic pursuits can be playful

A friend introduced a new game to us recently. She didn’t know the name of it, but I’m calling it Poetic Pursuits.

Each person (we had seven, which worked well) takes a sheet of paper, writes one word at the top, and passes it to her/his left. On the second round each person writes two words below the first one, then folds the paper so that the third person only sees what the person immediately to her/his right has written. This continues around the circle with three words, then four, then three, two, and finally one. Each time the person writing sees only what is just above and no more. After the seventh word is written, everyone takes turns opening up the collaborative poems and reads them aloud to the group.

I have to admit that at first I was skeptical that we’d come up with anything but nonsense, but I was pleasantly surprised by some of our end products. Here are a few from that evening.

blood

bound by’

limits of time

are immeasurable because they

keep on expanding

till daybreak

again

Timely

moments forgotten

are rarely very

tumultuous, even on Sundays

and their lives

flowed on

still

exuberance

for trying

not to blink

when any man would

offer his own

forlorn perspective

emptiness

Swooning

beyond breakdown

she rose up

to honor the memory

of everything sublime

and baffling

everyone

So what do you think? Is there a collaborative poetry fest in our future?

Gift guide for writers

go-away-i-m-writing-mug

So you have a writer in your life, and it’s that holiday season when you have to start thinking of gifts. Well, you’ve come to the right poem, my friend!

Gifts for the Writers in Your Life

Need a gift for writer friends? Here’s how you will succeed

(’Tis an easy task because there’s so much that they need)

You could get a coffee mug with words that he might say

Like “Can’t you see I’m writing? Why don’t you go away?”

Magnets for the frig can please the nerdier of folks

Ones that tell us “Don’t verb nouns!” or make bad grammar jokes

A mouse pad with a writer’s quote could be the inspiration

That prompts her fingertips to type a stunning new creation

We all know that raw talent takes the writer just so far

To supplement, he’s going to need some liquor from the bar

Hemingway and Faulkner knew the power of a drink

You need enough to lubricate the mind so you can think

The other liquid gift that helps the writer reach her goal

Is java by the pound to fuel the body and the soul

So whether she’s a Starbucks fan or in the camp of Peet’s

She would welcome coffee alongside some tasty treats

fountain pen

Then there are your journals and your fancy fountain pens

Which some will like, but others won’t—it really just depends

On how much he or she embraces new technology

They might just want a laptop, which of course is far from free

Reference books are practical, and they last a while

Get the latest version of Chicago Manual of Style

A thesaurus would be nice, or perhaps a dictionary

Although the ones online are so much easier to carry…

Once the novel’s written, there are how-to books to buy

The Idiot’s Guide to Publishing is one that you might try

Or Publishing Made Easy or How to Write a Query

But be forewarned that reading these may make a writer weary

If you’re feeling generous, you could make the offer

To dig a little deeper in your Christmas-giving coffer

Send her on a dream retreat—the kind that writers take

Where she can write for hours or just walk around a lake

xmas stocking 4 writers

I wish you luck in shopping for the writer in your life

Whether it’s your brother, husband, daughter, or your wife

It really doesn’t matter what you spend or where you look

Writers have but one wish—land a contract for their book

Literary Death Match Is LitQuake Highlight

Layout 2

Last year I kind of went LitQuake crazy, and I had planned to do the same this year until I was struck down by a nasty cold. My calendar was marked up with ten of their events, but this year I only made it to two.

AT Zuniga
LDM emcee Adrian Todd Zuniga

The celebrity judges were award-winning author of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, Andrew Sean Greer, Beth Lisick, author of Yokohama Threeway and Other Small Shames, and Olympic figure skater, Brian Boitano.

First up were contenders Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jane Smiley and Sam Barry, author Jane Smileyof How to Play the Harmonica and Other Life Lessons, musician, and member of the Rock Bottom Remainders. Jane read an excerpt from a forthcoming book and Sam played some mean harmonica and led the crowd in song. As one of the judges pointed out, it’s hard to compare a reading to a harmonica performance, but the fact that Jane piped up and sang harmony during Sam’s song gave her the edge that put her over the top in the judges’ tallies. Both the passage Jane read and the song Sam played reminded Andrew of his childhood.

So Round 1 winner was the author of A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley.

Sonya Renee TaylorRound 2 pitted local author Seth Harwood against Sonya Renee Taylor, a performance poet, activist, and founder of The Body Is Not an Apology. Although Seth tried to charm judges with his white track suit and bold attempt at a Russian accent, Sonya made her way down into the audience and wowed everyone with her take-no-prisoners attitude and killer heels. And of course both performances reminded Andrew of his childhood.

Winner of Round 2: Sonya Renee Taylor.

The competition was fierce during the literary Pictionary lightning round. Emcee Adrian Todd Zuniga gave volunteers from the audience the titles of books to draw while Jane and Sonya took turns trying to guess. The Road was pretty easy, but I think we were all pretty impressed when Jane got A Confederacy of Dunces from the drawing of cones atop circles.

I’m sure Jane Smiley equates this victory with her Pulitzer.

But even if she doesn’t, it was a lot of fun.

A Word of Advice…

They say it’s not unwise to pause

When fury bares its eager claws

Though one is tempted to lash out

You will be glad you skipped that route

When your anger starts to seethe

Count to ten and slowly breathe

Think it through, plan what you’ll say

You’re sure to regret less this way

Sometimes hodgepodge is the way to go…

women's symbolYesterday our daughter called us at the office (where we both work) to ask our opinions about getting a tattoo of the symbol for women on her neck. My husband responded that since she already had our names on her wrists and a large cherry blossom branch across her back that perhaps another tattoo that wasn’t even connected to the others would seem a bit hodgepodgy but passed the phone to me for my input. I pointed out that it was fairly apparent to all that she was indeed a woman, so there was really no need to don an identifying symbol. She decided not to do it, at least for the time being.

But it got me to thinking about hodgepodges.

I usually try to write posts that have some sort of point or at least stick to one topic. But there are many moments in my day when I think of something that I think might be of interest to readers of my blog, and I vow to file it away for future reference, either to expand into its own post or to tie it in to other items that are related.

But I find myself with a lot of bits and pieces that don’t easily fit into either category.

And this is how a hodgepodge is born. I’ve decided not to hold back these little snippets. I may start sharing them regularly in bunches or I might just publish mini-posts to get them into the world and out of the recesses of my mind (where they may not be entirely safe, given my current issues regarding memory loss). Or they may not last beyond today.

Today’s hodgepodge items include something for everyone (or possibly nothing for anyone, I suppose):

A) By the water fountain at my gym, there is a little shoebox wrapped in cheery blue paper with the sign “Take a Poem, Leave a Poem” and some blank paper. Since I didn’t have a printed-out poem readily available tucked in my sport bra, I jotted down the only poem I know by heart:

Mrs. McTwitter the babysitter—I think she’s a little bit crazy

She thinks that a babysitter is supposed to sit on the baby.

 –Shel Silverstein

Then I took out a poem all typed up (obviously someone came to the gym more prepared than moi) and eagerly read it. It was “Be Angry at the Sun” by Robinson Jeffers, which is, of course quite different from the humorous little gem that I contributed. But it was certainly a fair trade. The poem I brought home was deeply philosophical and evoked big concepts, such as truth, power, and free will;  the one I offered would surely bring a smile to its recipient. Both poems serve worthy purposes.

This made me think about tradeoffs, which will be my second hodgepodge topic.

B) We engage in a plethora of tradeoffs every single day. Here are examples from my own life:

Tradeoff number one has to do with how I spend the hour before I go to work in the morning—writing or going to the gym. One will be more satisfying creatively, and the other will contribute more to my physical health. (Then there’s secret choice number three—playing Words with Friends on my phone while I figure out what to do.)

Tradeoff number two is the continuous conversation in my head regarding what I put in my mouth. Yes, the morning bun is delectable and my tongue will be happy, but the oatmeal will satisfy my hunger for longer and provide more nutrients and fiber. Luckily I can add nuts and blueberries to the oatmeal so that it can also make my tongue happy.

Life is a constant balancing act in so many ways. It’s a miracle I get anything done at all…