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I know you – see you

Hiding in clever phrases

And a title that commands
The idle browser
To stop and read

I recognize you
Your genius for disdain
Of anything I need
To complete
Deceit cum conceit

Calmly parked in the heat
Smiling white teeth
Biting into
My day

Keeping me
Palmed and esteemed
Under the palm tree
Of the redeemed

Questioning Success: The Art of Rejection


 I awoke this a.m. surveying a heart that was (three months ago) filled with the hope of acceptance. The demon voice of accusation taunts me: narcissistic fame seeker. It is the same hissing voice that tells me I can not and will not rise above my not-quite-poverty stricken beginnings. It was this voice I kept at bay months ago with the simple click of the “send” key.

Now, I am beyond asking what the judges saw – grounded down as I am with a self-acceptance of not (somehow) measuring up – yet again. And all the verbal bromides I lavish upon others who’ve suffered this fate are curled and weak in the face my own despondency. I went out to ride my bike and fell before getting out of the driveway. I returned to bed. No, I am not depressed. I know full well the feeling there; the drain-circling miasma that creeps in quietly on small, cat-feet and sets up housekeeping in a brain ignorant of the heart.

I write because I need to – it is and has always been the way I navigate my world – what I see out my window is fodder – all material. Recognition is secondary. I tell myself that I am only in competition with myself – only as good or better than the last essay, poem, or novel written. I strive for better and once I believe I’m there… then what? Does a runner take to her track to be recognized for last place? Does a politician run for office intent on losing? Does one practice the homework in quadratic equations to settle for terms higher than the power of two?

I read new writing in my beloved New York Times and appreciate the stories served up on platters of Modern Love, The Sunday Magazine- Lives, the Book Review, and any number of columns dedicated to the Boomer File. After reading, I always look at the brief author bio and I wonder  how the number of  published writers who’ve attended the best universities or the best M.F.A. programs, compares to the number  those writers who haven’t? Is it always only about the writing? I hope so.

But I know too there are days when the best query letter, the best first chapters, the best submission – all sent to a prospective agent – will not do – for anyone. So what. These words may not satisfy but the need to write remains the same. Is this the juncture in my life where I need to redefine success?

And I am not without my own successes – I’ve made it to a writers’ base-camp or (for me) Everest – having been published in the very Sunday Magazine that I would drive 25 rural New York miles every Sunday to purchase. I have won accolades in local publications over the years. I’ve had an editor of a major literary magazine tell me he was “sorry” he could “not be the editor to get [me] into print.” But that was then.

Now, as I lose any youthful outlook to a dull recognition of life’s sameness, I know I should listen my inner Buddhist – the one that tells me that if I want to end my discontent I have to give up my desire.

Without desire, do I need to write? This question greets me every morning. And every evening I am no closer to an answer. Part of me believes the question moot and wants to respond like the mountain climber who was asked why she continues in her attempts to climb Mt. Everest  – There are so many small reasons to turn around and only a couple of personal reasons to continue. And so I write on with hope and desire of reaching the summit.

Writing in Key West


Creativity comes when

There is no one you know

At the Parrot Bar

It springs from a

Third ring of loneliness

When the last call

For diversion comes

At 2 a.m.

Leaving you to

Stagger among



To your musty

Garret room

From which you

Hope to issue

The next



July 2nd

It is 7:16 a.m. and the sun is

long view from the porch – into the morning sun

Spilling its diamonds on the soft

Undulations of the lake

Birds chatter

In a tongue

I fail to understand

But enjoy

The grass, taller as

Mower sits idle

Cooler than the neighbor’s

Called into duty at the first

Jagged sign of inequality

Wasteful & Un-greening

The she-cat crouches

In the small clovered shade

A game with the squirrel

And his tree

Today the hunted

Unluckily caught


Lucky enough

His foe responds

To voice commands –

This time

He scampers up the tree

Screaming his coarse poem:

Profanities in his own tongue

Cleaning My Keyboard (Or Why I’m Not fond of Math)

Keys are clean – not so for the tray that holds them – alas

They’re dirty, dirty things

These letters quite inert

Though fingers to life can bring

Stories fancy through the dirt


A gets the most followed close

By E which makes me think

I use an A word however gross

And E Simply works as link

R and T are equal buds

As I scrub to clean & see

The tick that always makes me rub

R when I clearly want T

M is my cushiony base

Providing soft bumps and land

Mad as hell and in your face

M is mud – another stand

Z is clean or fairly so

Left off the qwerty trail

Like Q the pinky doesn’t go

Unless to Quote Zen and rail

Others now sit pert and clean

Capitals all perfect and tight

The numbers I ignore – it’s mean

But they are why I write

Yep, I’m an Author – update

No, an agent has not crawled out of the innards of my computer to tell me he/she has been tracking my fabulous facility with the written word and, by the way, here’s a six-digit check for anything else you might deign to write – on a cocktail napkin say. Such is the stuff of movie scripts, nightmares and daydreams.

But I remain an author. I deem myself so as I follow the dictates of the poster I had posted in my high school creative writing classroom, Don’t leave your story for someone else to tell – they’ll probably get it wrong.  So, here I sit telling my story.

For Sisters Who Pick the Rose is fiction although I do use bits and pieces of my Compton childhood to support my storybook events. I’ve been working on this (my third) novel for two years now and have completed what I believe are five acceptable chapters. I would appreciate constructive input from any and all readers of For Sisters Who Pick the Rose Please find chapter one at my wordpress writing blog:

and if you like what you’ve read please feel free to hit the subscribe button and you will get each new installment in your e-mail.

As Ever,  Gwen