For a Soldier


Bagpipes cry over mounds of new dirt
Above the hill, bright skies canopy a mourning family
A procession of black cars winds its way to a uniformed sentry
Far off, horses and carriages wait to carry a soldier home

Ashes sit alone surrounded by thousands of silent voices
Gatherers murmur their goodbyes

One but many
One but many

A hundred times a day

Zombie Writing

I had a good session with one of my writing students yesterday. We’ve been discussing the difference between writing a summary and writing a persuasive essay. He’d recently watched Becket in history class, assigned to complement their study of the middle ages. We worked on a summary of the movie before moving onto “taking a stand,” something he’s asked to do in DBQ’s (data-based questions).

I decided to help explain the difference in the two using The Voice, a quirky television show I’ve become somewhat addicted to. I asked him to summarize the purpose of the show, and then to explain which team is the strongest, using details from the show to back up his opinion.

He hadn’t been watching The Voice, so he found it difficult.

“What shows do you watch?” I asked, thinking we could switch gears.

His face lit up. “The Walking Dead!” he said, starting to summarize the show. “It’s about…..”

Well, you get it. The exercise worked well, and I learned more about zombies than I want to know.



We are the problem

While I’m posting each day for #digiwrimo (*which, I’m thinking, may end for me this week), I’m not spending time on twitter.

This is something I’d normally just tweet, but instead I’ll link to it here. And while I’m at it, I’ll say, I’m totally with Ed on this one.

“Of course, it’s hard to blame the folks at Fox and MSNBC too much. After all, they’re doing what the ratings (that is, the viewers) say they should be doing.

But that’s the most distressing part of all. It confirms the fact that more and more people are living in polarized, ideologically pure silos. They’re interested in reading stories and columns that reinforce their current beliefs. Opinions outside that silo are about as welcome as stinging nettles at the beach.”


*#digiwrimo sounded like a great idea, but I’m throwing stuff on this blog without giving it much thought. I’d rather spend my time revising my poetry, writing Front Porch stories, and reading.

Laughing at Myself

I have to laugh or scream.  Some of you who cook often will not get this at ALL. My husband doesn’t get it. But all I can do is laugh.

We went to a fabulous vegetarian cooking class on Saturday and had melt-in-your-mouth sweet potato biscuits (Shirley Braden’s recipe). I HAD to try them.

The ingredients were easy other than having to drive 20 minutes to buy rice flour at a small grocery story on the other side of town. I woke up early today to put it all together.  A couple of sweet potatoes, two parts rice flour to one part baking soda, a cup of sweetener, a half cup of oil, etc, etc.

When they came out of the oven, they looked just like they were supposed to–orange and kind of flat. I waited until I wouldn’t burn my mouth, and then took a bite.

Arrhhggoosshhee–I spit it out immediately wondering what in the world I’d done! I even tried again, leaving out one ingredient I thought might be causing a problem. No luck.

When my husband came home, I relayed the story. He looked puzzled. (He often looks at me with a puzzled expression.)

“Why did you use baking soda?” he asked.

I paused.

Suddenly, the recipe flashed before my eyes. It didn’t call for baking soda, it was corn starch.

I’d formed an image of an orange box in my head, and instead of corn starch, I’d used baking soda.

He looked at me and smiled. He’s used to this.

I shook my head.

I really don’t know what else to say about that. Except, I’ll try again tomorrow. With the right ingredients.


Thinking Out Loud

I started working on a revision this morning, a piece I’ve been trying to write about my grandmother. I’m struggling with it because it’s personal–but I wonder if this woman had a similar impact on my cousins and siblings.

I don’t want to speak for them. But every time I try to revise, the “I’s” become “We’s.”

This is when a writing group comes in handy. And, lucky for me, my group meets tonight! I am too close to the feelings to separate myself from my words–and that’s important if I’m trying to tell her story.

I have some questions I’ll throw out to the group:

Can I speak for other cousins?
Does the end veer from my main point-that we don’t often know someone until we know ourselves?
Is it her story or mine? Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it?

(I’m reminded here of E. M. Forster’s quote: “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” Works every time!)