Category Archives: Poetry

White Horse Stampede

Laid out on the page like the players on the pitch, Laura DiNovis Berry’s  first poem, “Meet the Players”,  in Egg Shaped Ball  published by Indies United Publishing House LLC, is a map to women’s rugby. We see where each stands and we learn what kind of women play:

12) Insider Center: Less /woman, more wild horse. /She tramples, charges, bucks

14) Right Wing: She is like/ a bolt shot from a crossbow,/ an uncatchable foe

I’d never considered sports as poetry before reading this volume of poems. In fact, I’d rarely considered sports much beyond a way to hang with my ice hockey loving college boyfriend—we never missed a home game. Now I have a new appreciation for not only sports, but women’s sports. These poems focus the tension, the tests, and the triumphs of women’s rugby.

Comet

The lingering trail of fire is mesmerizing.
How can you look away from her?
A comet scorching earth,
destroying every body in her trajectory.
She combusts at her destination,
appearing as a constellation of triumphant stars. 

Laura’s team is named White Horses.  Sounds pastoral, serene. Think again! “the ensuing  stampede is always unexpected”—hooves score the earth. The game is brutal and the women must play harder than men to be recognized.  “First Contact”—Shoulder breaks into/ spongy flesh above the hip/. . ./ Crashing down into oblivion . But the poet assures us “It’s true, we can serve cold punishment too./ A hard shoulder drive, some nice footwork,/ but we must be clever, quick -/wily.” from the tongue-in-cheek poem: “A Rugby Player Scoffs At Victim Blaming After Being Tackled Repeatedly By The Men On Her Team. ” According to Laura, “Bruises are Medals”, 

Masochists:
Bruises are medals and badges we flaunt.

Sadists:
Our hearts are full of sneers./The scrum of flesh becomes a battering ram. 

 The poems tell the story of “the pain of the biting, pounding fray,” the exhilaration of the  play and the  pride of the win. They also depict the debilitating defeats and the fight  for the right  to play. Title poem, “Egg Shaped Ball”, a prose poem, says it all: You would have seething before. Back in the days when you’d first gotten your hands on that egg shaped ball and felt something click into place with a snarl. Fighting for the privilege to be smeared to shit on a dirty field meant everything.

This collection is a passionate view into a world few of us know. It’s a collection of strong action, physical duress, joyful wins and deep introspections into a topic of timely import: women’s sports. Told in vivid language from the pitch and Laura’s poetic heart, it is at times  bold and prosaic and other times lyrical with unexpected rhythm and rhyme—something like White Horses galloping across a plain.

About the Poet:

After having once been forced by circumstance to ignore poetry, Laura DiNovis Berry has since dedicated her life to it. She has fallen madly, deeply in love with this craft. Inspired by all the ridiculous, frightening, wonderful, and adorable things she has discovered during her time on Earth, Laura DiNovis Berry writes what she hopes will be wonderful things for others to discover.

In addition to writing poetry, Berry also provides​ ​free reviews at Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews for her fellow poets in hopes that modern poetry can be shared with a wider audience.

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The Witness Protection Program Poets Chapbook Launch

You’re invited! The Witness Protection Program Poets request the pleasure of your company at the LAUNCH PARTY for our new Chapbooks on Tuesday, May 18th at 3:00 PM. Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85937283823?pwd=TW1Kc005aVh1dS8rU1J0Y2ljZzZtdz09 FUN Please keep your microphone muted upon entry.

The Witness Protection Poets Chapbook Collective Presents

Lies and lockdowns

     elections and insurrections

uprisings and upheavals

     fires and floods—it’s been a world of dread

and extinction     hard pressed to find distinction.

     Yet

with changes and challenges 

inspiration    often perspiration

     always motivation—

 this group of poets has grabbed

     the bad

 turned lemons into sweet, sweet      pies.

                                                                                                                                                           

On Mayday, the Witness Protection Program Poets exchanged their first ever collection of chapbooks. Seventeen  writers dug deep into their hearts and souls to make sense of the world around us—for the happier or sadder, the bolder or the fearful, in awe or anger. 

Take founder Nick Triglia‘s 21 Reasons to Slit One’s Wrists— “2.                    ”  ( you fill in the blank!) in The Backroom of the Believe It or Not Museum of Prose and Poetry,   or  Betsy Roman’s, A Chronicle Through Chaos: A poetic preservation of unhinged history sifted from the debris of Election 2020— “Black lives    white lies    orange skiesperfectly sums it up.  

Antonia’ Allegra’s ConverSAYtions offers clever word play and solid advice: “Considering conflicting news/rushing at us like/water from a fire hose,/take U and E from FAUCETS/to reveal the FACTS.”  Valli Ferrell’s Lens, tells us How To Be Cheerful,  “Do appreciate/ do say it/ out loud to no one/ to the bird trill in the brittle cold air.” And  Dina Corcoran’s Christmas Cards reminds us: “My life is richer for [our] continued contact. . .[they] are treasures.”

The poems  take us on journeys of discovery, of contemplation, joy and song.  Marianne Lyon Travels with Aruba, her Love-Dog— “Come   love-dog let us take a meander. . . ” Cathy Carsell‘s Of Earth and Sky filled with poetic lyrics and refrains transport us away: “There’s music in the wind/in New Orleans late at night/as it moves through the treetops/on a warm spring night. . .Music in the wind/Listen in. . . .” 

These chapbooks offer us reflections on nature. Marilyn Dykstra writes in Full Circle ReflectionsSycamore Grove Park Haiku #3—”Black ashen earth/Soaked with recent autumn rains,/A green carpet sprouts“.  Nathaniel Winters advises us, “Without the birds and bees no flowers appear/food becomes scarce/animals and man become endangered/love can’t bloom” in Art of Living from his collection, Seeking SunshineAnd from Yvonne Henry’s poems and art work, 6:57 AM “The sun rose slightly/ askew/ causing/ for a moment/ the dove and I to tilt our heads.”

Diego on My Mind, Frida Kahlo

“Ekphrastic fantastic” poet James McDonald reflects on art in Visual Language, “Diego the last thought, always Diego/ my essence reaches out/ for rebirth in the rich soil/ fertile in death/ barren in life/ from Diego On My Mind. 

These writings cause us to consider our losses and our longings—from  “Tangential” by Sarah Miller in Off on a Tangent:  “Like the time my hand brushed her hair/ from her dying forehead/ like you wished you had” or, “Give me back that summer/ even the tattling sister/ once a waterskiing champion, destined/ for deep, slow rotting in her bones.” from “Deep, Slow” in Little Palace of Illness by Ana Manwaring, and from Things I’m Wrestling With , “Miscarriage” by Noel Robinson, “Pregnancy loss does not define a woman. It is merely the involuntary actions of the uterus that brings death to the fetus. If the life inside the mother perishes, she survives along with her dreams and hopes. I know, I am part of the woodwork containing the sorrow of the past. . . .” 

Finally, many of the poems, essays, and memoir written in these chapbooks make us look at our lives and into our hearts to know the truth of our own humanity. Through the eyes and words of others we come to complete ourselves. In the words of Arthur T. Robinson in his introduction to Riding the Goat: An Anti-memoir,  “. . .writers of all cultures , genders, and ages have wrestled with the tricky stance of writing. . . one’s past real, seeking out . . .  patterns, and  deducing vital lessons.”   

Join the conversation—come for the FUN!

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85937283823?pwd=TW1Kc005aVh1dS8rU1J0Y2ljZzZtdz09

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Filed under Announcements, Events, Poetry, Reviews, Witness Protection Program Poets Chapbook Collective, WPPP Chapbook Collective

Predictions of Election Failure by Leona Rice

tonywastall.com
I need to put my energy behind getting civil liberties.
Our party’s candidate does not excite me.
My one vote will not make a difference.
 
My $20 bucks is nothing compared to the millions the rich donate.
I have no time to help right now.
Give to one place, they bombard you with requests.
 
Nothing will change for me.
I need to concentrate on my family.
I need to focus on my work.
 
Politicians are all the same.
I don’t get involved in politics.
I can’t believe either side.
 
Let’s see who endorses them.
I never bother with voting.
I don’t know how to get involved.
 
It’s too early.
It’s too late.
I’ll just sit this one out.
 
He is “old school.”
She has an uppity stare.
They aren’t attracting the young.
 
I have enough with Covid and fires.
I’m too depressed to function.
          I’ll move to Canada.
Former California Assembly Member, Leona Egeland Rice

During her three terms in the Assembly, Leona Egeland Rice successfully championed important legislation to improve children’s welfare, public health, and access to healthcare across the state.

A native of Tucson, Arizona, Leona came to California to earn a master’s degree in education at San Jose State University. She stayed in California as she began her family and her career as a science teacher. *She first became personally involved in the public sphere through her instrumental role in the campaign to build a new sewage treatment plan to prevent ocean pollution. *After three terms in the State Assembly, she became Chief Deputy Director for the California Department of Human Services in L.A. Later she returned to Northern California to work with The Doctors Company, a physician-owned insurance company. She served as Senior Vice President of Government Relations as well as Executive Director of the company’s charitable foundation. As The Doctors Company expanded beyond California, Mrs. Rice developed partnerships with other state governments. Furthermore, she championed the Corporate Charitable program and implemented an Employee Charitable Gift Matching program.*Now Leona lives in the Napa Valley with her husband and writes about her amazing life.

(Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

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Filed under #vote2020, Guest Bloggers, Poetry, Students

The Virus and US by Russell Hvolbek

Miasma—www.stufftoblowyourmind.com

The Virus and US

So, now, a miasma here.

Not only over there, somewhere

backward, but here too in our towns,

gleaning away the soft jostling of

American life; a little money

made and spent, children maturing,

mothers and fathers dying of old age, normal

as it should be, has been, is

normal no more.

The virus roils, exposes our naivety:

Humans have no more purchase of earth

than a virus.

 

 

 

Meet Russell Hvolbek:

Russell Hvolbek is an intellectual historian with a PhD from The University of Chicago. He has written three books, the most recent, Humans: What We Are and Why We Exist, argues that language and the historical fields they produce, brought humans beyond the grooves of nature. Humans came into existence when they became able to name themselves. Humans are a language-historical creation. He is concerned that the utilitarian realm of facts and data have so overwhelmed us, we can no longer ponder what we are.

Russell now finds that people opposed to having to think through difficult ideas are more likely to engage them if they are presented as poetry. He now writes more poetry than prose.
Contact: Russell Hvolbek 818-746-0757 rhhone@hotmail.com

 

On Amazon

On GoodReads

 

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Filed under COVID19, Guest Bloggers, Poetry

Shelter In Place, A Poem

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it across the world. Here at Building a Better Story we’ve been sharing stories and wisdom on the inevitable—aging. Now the universe has tossed a time bomb into our timelines. Instead of aging gracefully, we need to stay alive! I’m asking our guest contributors to share their thoughts on the Coronavirus pandemic. Returning to Building a Better Story, please welcome poet Theresa Ortez with her positive message on the lockdown and disease, Shelter in Place. Welcome back, Theresa!

By Theresa Ortez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you meet on the street
Stay away 6 feet
Cover mouth and nose
Don’t get too close
Stay inside
Seniors should abide
Still, I want to go outside
No handshaking to greet
Can I use my feet?
Stay healthy until we meet
We are in this together
We shall defeat

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Filed under COVID19, Inspiration, Poetry

The Dilemma of the Quercus—or—Oak Erotica

April 2020 might not look like past years: the bright green of new grasses, the pinks and creams of flowering fruit trees, sunny daffodils, Easter-colored tulips. Maybe you haven’t been out to see the lambs gamboling in the country or noticed the sparrows building nests. Maybe that orange  isn’t the blooming California poppies but  the fake tan on President Trump as he makes himself actor, director and producer of Coronavirus—It’ll Go Away Soon so Just Forget It.

 

Even if you’re sheltering in place, you can turn off the horror show, step outside and watch Spring. Pull some weeds or tie up your spent daffodils. Rake up the dropped camellias. Pick daisies. Watch your trees unfurl new leaves. Tweet with the chickadees, listen to the doves. Count the crows—there’s one more than last year. Take a breath, let it out slowly. Feel the renewing energy of the season, and let go of your anxiety. Now find a sunny corner and read a poem. Or better yet, write a poem. It’s Poetry Month after all. Nothing is as healing as a good dose of nature and poetry!

 

The Dilemma of the Quercus—Or—Oak Erotica

You elongate your catkins,

male flowers dangled

from the tips of your naked limbs

in seduction of the wind before Spring

unfurls your pink or chartreuse canopy.

Your few females tuck up at the crook

Nondescript, awaiting the ecstasy of pollen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monoecious yet self-incompatible

you must count on your distant-relations

standing near, and the hillsides

abreeze in ochre, or the powdered

buzz of native bees

to deliver the yellow dust

that pollinates life into your acorns

to grow fine new trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find this and many more poems in my latest chapbook available on Amazon.

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Young Again

 

 

Please welcome talented artist and writer

Elizabeth Stokkebye

 

YOUNG AGAIN

Young again

with a past

that

 was my future

I daydream

and I do

as I please

I flirt

and I dance

and have sex

I dress

in layers

and in colors

I write

with seams

and stratum

I look back

by looking

forward

Time

Is

timeless

Elizabeth Stokkebye is a writer and a painter of Scandinavian descent. She lives north of San Francisco. She holds a BA from the University of California at Berkeley in Scandinavian Studies and an MA from the University of Washington in Scandinavian Languages and Literature.

Elizabeth likes to tell stories, whether in words or with paint. She draws from fairytales and literature when writing and painting her figures. Her family, ancestry, and history are the foundation from which Elizabeth’s creativity and imagination spring. She combines her love for art and words on her website.

www.elizabethstokkebye.blog

 

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Filed under Aging, Inspiration, Poetry, Students

Bye Bye National Poetry Month—For Now

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month 2019. I’ve enjoyed reading a poem (or two) sent to my inbox daily from POEM A DAY, Poets.org and KNOPF POETRY Poem-A-Day April 2019 (you’ll need to search for Poem a Day to find this and sign up—next year.) I’d feel sad, but there are may places on the internet to find poems. Here’s a couple more addresses:

 

The Poetry Foundation           Loads of resources

American Verse Project          A collection of American poetry pre-1920

Contemporary American Poetry Archive   Full collections of selected poets

Poetry Society of America      Full of great info, readings and a blog

Most of the sites include audio podcasts and blogs. Every day can be national poetry day!  And if you’re reading this blog post, you probably write poetry as well. Have you searched lately for places to publish? There are many. First go to Poets and Writers for extensive listings for chapbooks, calls for manuscripts, contests and conferences. The organization will send you a weekly prompt for poetry, memoir and fiction. And they’ve got great articles, too.

Here are some other places:

Pallette Poetry

Poetry Foundation

Frontier Poetry

The Sun Magazine

Rattle

It’s not over! Read and write poetry all year.

Join a group.         Take a class.       Celebrate a poet!

I’m celebrating the poet and book that set me on poetic fire as a teen:

And Let Our Two Selves Speak

For Lawrence Ferlinghetti at 100 years old

 And I am waiting for a rebirth of wonder

A Coney Island of the Mind in one hand

a cone of sugared churros in the other.

Come lie with me and be my love,

clink our glasses, a bubbling prosecco

at the top of this life

while the dog trots freely in the street

And let our two selves speak

where

a ring dove cooed in a cove

we kiss and take in

all the world offers:

raindrops and firestorms, madmen and kindness,

still deep lakes, and murder, weddings,

hive collapse and high rises, fake news

and novels; farmers and famine; poets

and pundits  and

have you ever stopped to consider

to wonder

the long street

filled with all the people of the world

and all the possibilities of the world

And have enough of kissing me

And have enough of waiting

perpetually and forever

a renaissance of wonder.

We carry it in our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe!

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Just a Little Sky

Poet Donald Turner Joins us today with a little sky ditty.

 

IMG_0396

Ana Manwaring 7/2012

Drifting sky of white on blue

Painted sky in Autumn hue

Sculpted sky in shades of gray

Twinkling sky at end of day

 

photo credits: giphy.com, freepik and David K. Prothero

 

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Firestorm

We’ve seen her brilliant and horrifying photo, now here is Cathy’s experience of the terror of the October fires. Please welcome guest blogger, Cathy Carsell.

Cathy Carsell writes from the heart, taking inspiration from natural beauty and emotional essence. A songwriter, poet and editor, she graduated from San Francisco State, becoming an audio engineer in the burgeoning music industry of the Bay Area. An avid sports fan, Cathy breathes and thrives in the captivating community of the Napa Valley.

fire CAthy

Photo by Cathy Carsell

Firestorm

Mid October night
Especially long hot summer
Red flag warning, trees falling
Alarm bells ring in my head

Wild wind whipping
Power lines snap
sparking dried tinder
from years of drought
Look out, look out there
ridge of flames rises
as we stand on my deck

Alarm bells ring in your head
Alarm bells ring in your head
Send up a prayer for the dead
You know you’re going to find some dead

 

images-10

Fire don’t discriminate
You’re in it’s way you’re done
Faster than a man can run
Run everybody run

Grab your kids and grab your dog
No time to hesitate
No warning it’s too late
Like a tsunami wave
Only your life to save

Alarm bells ring in your head
Alarm bells ring in your head
Send up a prayer for the dead
You know you’re going to find some dead

Five fires in one night
How we going to fight this fight
Wind whips a firestorm
Racing over miles and miles
Taking homes, taking lives

 

images

cnn.com

Check on Grandma
Roll her down
Load the horses, get the sheep
Pray for all our souls to keep
Through hot blazing nights

Alarm bells ring in our heads
Alarm bells ring in our heads
Sending up prayers for the dead
Know we’re going to find some dead

Check with friends and family
tell them I’m OK
I know I’ll never be the same
after these October days

Alarm bells ring in my head
Alarm bells ring in my head
Sending up a prayer for the dead
Glad I’m not among the dead

images-4

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