Author Archive | Contributor

The Rules by Fran Hutchinson

Airplane taking off at sunset

smiling, smiling
when at last we meet again, hello

smiling,smiling
juggle time again
goodbye, too fast
and then you go

but well enough i knew the rules
and still i was fool enough to start

so it’s smiling, smiling when we meet
and smiling
slightly faded
when we part

Photo: satit_srihin / 123RF Stock Photo

About the author: Fran Hutchinson

Fran HutchinsonCurrently a resident of New Bedford, MA, Fran Hutchinson experienced a “poetic incarnation” while embedded in the 80’s folk scene in Boston.  Occupied variously as live calendar producer for WGBH’s Folk Heritage, contributing editor at the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston’s monthly Folk Letter, artist manager and booking agent, and occasional concert producer, she was surrounded by exceptional music and musicians, including those she had long listened to and admired.  The result was a rich source of inspiration for verse, of which she took full advantage. No longer writing poetry, Fran has recently been the recipient of a surgically altered back and two new knees, and spends her time reading and listening to music (natch), texting and emailing long-distance friends,  and hanging with her posse at the Community center.

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Eyes on the Enter-Prize by Theresa Reed

Although I hire people for various tasks, my business is a one-woman show. I manage all the main details myself. Partly because I like being in control, but also, because of the nature of my work, strict client confidentiality is a must. Which means: I cannot have someone poking around in my inbox.

I do a pretty good job at managing all the different aspects of my work but over time, I began to feel overwhelmed. It’s a lot to handle and made even harder by my tendency to be an idea machine – cranking out posts, podcasts, and new offerings in record time. When you add that aspect on top of the daily grind, you can guess how tough it is to maintain at that output level for long.

This winter, I did myself a little favor. I took a short weekend break in the middle of January to attend the CEO Retreat, hosted by Rachael Cook, a business coach that I admire. This was a big leap for me – I never travel in winter due to weather fears but also: it’s the heart of my busy season. That being said, the stars were aligned (yes, I always check what’s happening in the cosmos before making a business decision) so off I went.

It turned out to be just what my business needed.

For one, I was able to spend time with successful female entrepreneurs, something I crave. Also, that time-out from work was a much needed break in a jam-packed schedule. But the most important thing for me was getting someone else’s eyes on what I was doing in my business.

The exercises that Racheal lead us through revealed something that I needed to see: I was doing too many things and my calendar for 2018 was beyond ambitious. It was outrageously full with too many ideas that I wanted to pursue. The risk of shiny object syndrome, or in my case, shiny idea syndrome, threatened to take me down a path that would have left little time for breathing room – or work that paid. This was no good.

I ended up scrapping 90% of my ideas.

I’m not kidding. They went back into the vault, where I could check back on them perhaps at a much later date.

This simple act freed me up more than I could imagine. No more wasting my time or energy on situations, products, or services that didn’t make sense or pay well. I’m crystal clear on my right audience and perfect offerings.

Better yet? I have time to do things that I haven’t been able to do in a while. Like finish a stack of books on my shelf. Take more cooking classes with my buddy, Jackie. Talk on the phone with friends that I haven’t spoken to in a decade. This is essential stuff that I often neglect due to work.

Sometimes you need to get other eyes on your business because you can’t always see what is plain as the nose on your own face. I’m happy that I took the weekend to look under the hood of my business with the support of someone who knows how to see the forest though the entrepreneurial trees. If you’re running a business and  perhaps running yourself into the ground, you may also benefit from getting an expert opinion on your business.

Another pair of eyes sees clear.

About the Author: Theresa Reed

theresareedTheresa Reed (aka “The Tarot Lady”) is a full time professional tarot reader. She’s also the author of The Tarot Coloring Book an illustrated romp through the tarot cards, and The Astro-Biz Digest, a weekly astrology forecast subscription service for entrepreneurs.

In addition to doing private Tarot readings, teaching Tarot classes, and speaking at Tarot conferences, Theresa also runs a popular website—TheTarotLady.com—where she dishes out advice, inspiration and tips for Tarot lovers of all experience levels.

Follow Theresa on Twitter and Instagram for her daily “Six Second Tarot Reading”—plus photos of her extremely handsome cats, TaoZen and Monkey.

Top and bottom photos by Danielle Cohen. Middle photo by Theresa Reed
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Distance by Lisa Zaran

My mother makes diacritical marks
over the language of my heart:
acute, grave, double grave.

Twelve years old, I do not think
about blooming into a woman.
I only wonder where she is,

what her mood is like, whether
she’ll come home that night,
if there’s light at the party.

hook, horn, rough breathing.

Like any requirement I love her,
in vertigo, in run-down weekly’s,
riding shotgun in her hatchback

as she drives us out of town at 3 a.m.
hiding yellow hair beneath
a tie-dye kerchief.

macron, dot, circumflex.

At a rest stop once in coconino
county, just shy of sheep gulch spring
she betrayed intimacy.

I was waiting for her, like always,
seated on the hood, my back
against the windshield,

her, scooting up beside me,
a cigarette between her lips.
On the inhale, short and quick

she pointed out Gemini, the twins.
On the exhale, she said: that’s us.
Which was and still is the closest

exclamation of love I’d ever received.
My heart festooned there,
white tiger, vermillion bird.

A laurel of hope, promise with the sound
of wild horses, want as white
as the moon, every bone glowing.

ring, comma, inverted breve, smooth breathing.

About the Author: Lisa Zaran

LisaZaranBioLisa Zaran is the author of eight collections of poetry including Dear Bob Dylan, If It We, The Blondes Lay Content and the sometimes girl. She is the founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices. When not writing, Zaran spends her days in Maricopa county jails assisting women with remembering their lost selves.

I Want to Remember by Michelle GD

I am keen on the little bits that make up life, and I explore them with camera in hand.  Certainly, there are the photographs of my growing children and the holidays and the vacations.  But what intrigues me most are the pieces of all that…the pile of shoes left by the back door, the crushed candy cane spilled on the table, the afternoon light streaming through the window on our second-last day of vacation.  That is what I want to capture.

And I find the search for the bits and pieces appear in my self-portrait work as well, quite literally at times.  I might take a traditional shot of my face.  But the shots I really love are the ones that capture pieces of me.  Glimpses.  Those are the shots that remind me what I was doing on a given day; those are the images that trigger memories of what I was feeling that day.

Like many of us, I am generally the person taking the photographs of everyone else.  And that suits me just fine.  Truthfully, the reason I turn the camera on myself is not so much so that I appear in an occasional family shot – although that’s nice.  The reason I turn the camera on myself is because I want to remember.  I want to remember me.  I delight in making photographs of everything that shapes my life.  But, even in the delight, there is the potential for getting lost.  I do not want to be lost.

And so I turn the lens.  It’s not every day, but I make an effort to position myself on the other side of the camera on a regular basis.  It’s a practice I’m developing and, though I’ve been doing it a couple years, I am astounded each and every time by just how healing the experience is.

My shots reflect wherever I am on a given day.  Sometimes they’re playful in nature; sometimes they’re restrained; rarely are they staged.  But when I look back at each of them, I say to myself, Ah, yes.  That.  Me.  Then.  It’s powerful.

It’s not about a good hair day or showcasing a perfect life.  Not at all.  It’s about looking, with intention, at where I am in my life.  Where am I standing in the midst of all my little bits?  What am I feeling?  What am I holding, literally or figuratively? How am I doing…for real?

Because I want to know what I’m doing and how I’m feeling, for real.  I want to understand how I fit with the other pieces of my life.  Self-portraiture allows me a process for exploring that, for celebrating that.  It allows me a means to express what otherwise might get trapped inside.  I want nothing trapped inside.  I want to see and understand, as best I can, all the pieces of my life.  I want to remember the shoes and the candy canes.  I want to remember how the afternoon light fell through the window.  And I want to remember how that light fell onto me.

Editor’s Note: *text previously published in Bella Grace, Issue 4, 2015

About the Author: Michelle GD

Michelle GD is an artist living in Virginia. Using writing and photography as forms of meditation, she explores the connections between the beautiful and messy bits of life. You can find her at MichelleGD.com.

Walk a Mile by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

 

Today I walked that mile and more
other mothers have walked before me.
It doesn’t matter that my child
is long grown, long flown.
When the verdict came of only weeks
to live, he was still my baby.
I walked those miles, cell phone to ear,
as arrangements formed, road miles
swept past. Then I walked more miles
along hospital corridors
and around his bed in hospice.
I expect to put further mileage
on these worn-out shoes
grappling with the sorrow
of a child leaving
before his mother.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Mockingbird by John Grey

Sure I know it’s a forged song
but that doesn’t stop me listening.

It’s a snatch of titmouse, a little ambulance,
some Sinatra through a window,
and the opening bars of Fur Elise.

That’s not a bird singing
from the chimney-top
but the world’s first sampler.

Like me,
it has no tune of its own,
must borrow, steal,
and hope the mishmash
is unrecognizable to its source.

Out of bed I get,
drink coffee as the commercials say,
kiss my wife on my cheek
as my father did my mother before me.
I shower for no reason
other than I always do.
I wear what my job demands.

Off I go into the world,
whistling something
I must have heard
somebody hear somewhere.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

For the Love of Bread by Joy Plummer

I first made bread in 1994. I bought a bread machine from a friend for $75. I made one loaf, and it came out perfectly. I made a second loaf, and it was about half right, half edible. The third loaf was completely wrong and inedible. I had no idea why.

[interior crumb of sourdough]

At the same time, my mother gave me an old hippie cookbook called Laurel’s Kitchen, a vegetarian cookbook published out of Berkeley in the mid-1970s. The vegetarian recipes were awful – way too bland for today’s palate. But the bread recipes were wholesome and excellent. While I was failing with my bread machine, I started attempting bread by hand. It was awesome! I made whole wheat bread, rye bread, and I don’t even remember what else, but it was all so good. I sold my bread machine for $75.

sliced multi-grain with cranberries

When my oldest daughter was born, I found freedom by carrying her everywhere in a Baby Bjorn. I remember the first time I decided to make challah. I put Sophie in her carrier, and mixed my dough. I remember kneading the dough on the counter, and noticing that the gentle rocking, back and forth from my heels to my toes, had put Sophie to sleep. It was, indeed, entirely soothing to me, too.

sesame challah

And then, I discovered a bread revolution happening around me. Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread method started sweeping through the DIY foodie community, so of course, being somewhat undaunted by the bread process, I tried it. CRUSTY BREAD!! And it was so easy and OUTSTANDINGLY delicious! I joined a bread group on Facebook, and someone recommended Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Yeast Salt. Now this was serious. I read every page and followed the instructions exactly as written. And I was becoming more advanced with every boule I made.

4 boules of sourdoughThe next big step was attempting sourdough. I’ve failed many attempts at growing things. I used to say that I could grow anything, as long as I could nurse it. But again, I followed Forkish’s instructions, and I made sourdough! I was making bread rise with a precious mix of flour and water!

3 seeded boules

I noticed that every time I put my hands in dough that any tension, stress, or frustration I had, dissipated. I was calm, focused, content. Making bread requires presence. All the mathematical calculations (it’s a ratio, yo), the weighing, the testing, and then working the dough to where it feels right, feeling how it changes over time…. You breathe into the process. It’s a meditation.

twisted chocolate challah

Now, I’m a member of a global community of people who nerd out on milling grains into flour, trying different kinds of breads from all around the world, and who strive to perfect our craft. But bread people are also generous and kind. Someone posts a picture of a crusty boule that pancaked when they put it into the oven. “Does it taste good?” That’s all that matters. Everyone makes a loaf that doesn’t perform the way you expected sometimes. It doesn’t matter. Try again.

baguettes

I started selling bread to friends less than a year ago. My first week, I took 25 orders. The week before Christmas, I took 73 orders. Every week since I began, I have gotten one to two new customers. People are hungry for fresh bread. People are so happy when they get bread from me. Bread is goodness. Bread is for feeding your body and your spirit. Bread is for feeding your family. Bread is for sharing. Bread is love.

English muffins

About the Author, Joy Plummer

Joy PlummerJoy Plummer has been working in the food industry for seven years as a baker, caterer, and personal chef. A desire to set boundaries on food intake led her to a brief 2-year stint as a vegan, but she decided that she loved food adventures and her zaftig body more. She continues to serve personal chef clients, but bread is her true love. She plans to open a bread-centered restaurant in 2018. Joy lives in the San Francisco metropolitan area with her husband and three kids. Learn more about her on Facebook.

In Theory by Æverett

Open Book

I have faith in impossible things.
in angels and airwaves and mystic tarot.
angels with black wings and blacker eyes.

A metric ton of sound bursts overhead, ringing and vibrating and thrumming. Alive. Real. It digs in, it melts, it Becomes. It grows at an exponential rate and tears the flesh before its rampage to shreds. It reverberates and the onslaught repeats. It hums. It swells. It smashes all the windows.
Glass on the floor cuts my naked feet.

 

I believe in heartfelt androids—
he smiles so sweetly, you know.
I believe in Tongues—
it just takes learning.
Saints are just dead men. Don’t worship them.

that’s blasphemy.       It is.

I have faith in impossible things.
in the end of everything and the kindness of others.
a touch on the shoulder…

a gentle kiss—       I miss that.

I pray for impossible things. I always will.
go on, fight me! *thumps on chest*

The book sits there, untouched, and weeping. He bleeds for her. And she doesn’t even care. The ache is raw— and the cacophony is shredding his every. damn. page. Flesh thrown asunder in all directions, splattering on the walls, the ceiling. And the voice laughs. And she echoes it. It’s a friend of hers, and she loves that sound; it always makes her joy. She is, in fact, in love with him. And he is so very jealous. So very, very fucking jealous.

 

He lets it go, lets himself die— And cries with regret when she begins picking up his disparate pieces, still crying with laughter in echo. Crying with laughter in echo.

I love you.
damn do I love you.
Seeing your name on the caller ID makes me so happy.
Thank you for being.

Thank you for being.
On an empty street, I hear a familiar voice. I guess the street isn’t so empty. I follow it, and for the first time, see the face. It echoes in my memory with so many accompanying images. But not this one. Never this one.

Fear. Thrill.

I have never felt unsafe in a dark parking lot. I have always felt the Predator. I am a Predator now. But I will not hunt this. I back away. I watch. And I etch it in my memory— the sound of your laughing and the sight of it leaving your lips. I turn from you, completely unseen, unknown, undisclosed, and I walk away from you.

The sound of laughter chases me.

I will remain undisclosed.
You will never know.
It is my sick little secret.
sick little secret.

Little do I know, you saw me there, watching. And you knew.

You too are the Predator.
Kindred. Trouble.

I have faith in impossible things.
Theoretically, every reality is possible. So this isn’t even irrational.
String theory, man. String theory.
Shut the sound off.
and put the angel to bed—      kiss him to sleep.
And the laughter will never end.
Und das Lachen wird niemals enden.

Niemals enden.
In theory, anyway.

 

Photo by Cathy Mü on Unsplash

About the Author: Æverett

ÆverettÆverett lives in the northern hemisphere and enjoys Rammstein and Star Trek. He writes both poetry and fiction and dabbles in gardening and soap making. She has two wonderfully old cats, and a dearly beloved dog. He also plays in linguistics, studying German, Norwegian, Russian, Arabic, a bit of Elvish, and developing Cardassian. Language is fascinating, enlightening, and inspirational. She’s happily married to her work with which she shares delusions of demon hunters, detectives, starships, androids, and a home on the outskirts of a small northern town. He’s enjoyed writing since childhood and the process can be downright therapeutic when it’s not making him pull his hair out. It’s really about the work and words and seeing without preconceptions.

 

Male Voices by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

That I don’t understand a word
adds to the soaring sound.

I have no need of the richness
of gilded wood and sacred icons.

The male voices exalt
in Russian Orthodox chants and hymns.

Tenors coil crystal chimes,
baritones thread intricate melody,

and the basso profondos
hold the whole firmament aloft.

Their earth-deep, cave-dark rumbles
lodge in shuddering bone,

quivering heart, and deliver me
past the elements.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

The Puppies by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Cleaning house in her nightgown
Donna spots me on my morning walk,
leans out the door and yells,
“Hey, wanna see the babies?”
I do, of course .

We stand over the nursery,
gaze at the ten huddled scraps
of multi-colored poodle puppyhood,
barely four days old,
wearing teeny collars.

First time mama Paris
is surprisingly cool, supplies faucets
as needed to ten seeking mouths,
tolerates giants looming
and fingers poking at her children.

Donna coos, I try hard not to,
and grandpa Shadow keeps an eye on us all.
As he nudges my hand, black and white
stuffed toy in his mouth, Donna says,
“He wanted his own baby
so I bought him one.”

She looks down at her flowered gown
and bare feet, grimaces then says,
“Forgive the mess.”
I don’t see anything
but beautiful babies.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

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