Black Raspberries


Mom filled the white bowl with black raspberries.

I pour Bossie’s white milk over them,

watched it form a pattern,

flowing around the raspberries–

a design in deep purple and white.

I thought it almost too beautiful to eat.

I was seven.

Now I rarely find black raspberries.  Red ones won’t do.  They lack intensity, the beauty.  Every year we went to Hunt’s Orchard north of Amazonia, Missouri, to buy black raspberries, took them home, sorted to discard the imperfect ones, then threw them way behind the garden next to the timber–huge trees, oak and hickory.  Eventually, these imperfections transformed into thriving black raspberry bushes.  We had our own patch, created from the discarded, the imperfect.

Mom fed us fresh raspberries for a few days.  The rest she used to create her famous pies, froze a freezer full.  Baked, they transformed a winter kitchen into the warmth and sweetness of my mother’s family devotion.

I bake pies, many kinds of pies.  I have never made a black raspberry pie.

 

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Note:  this will be published in an upcoming publication by the Story Circle Network.  In July my daughter, grandson, and I went to Hunt’s Orchard–yes, it still exists.  I asked about black raspberries.  We were too late; the season was over.  The timber behind the garden area was to the right in this photo.  The person who bought the land years later bulldozed down all the big trees.

April 18 – Star


I wrote this poem several years ago. It was republished today on One Woman’s Day by the Story Circle Network.

One Woman's Day

by Juliana Lightle

The phone rings.

“Star’s dead. There’s blood everywhere.

He’s hanging from the gate by one hoof.

Blood is all over Rosie’s face.

It’s dreadful.”

A tear choked voice.

“You can’t bring D’mitri home.”

D’mitri’s nine.  Star belongs to him.

Shock, tears, disbelief.

Last night Star ran, bucked, reared,

chased around, playing.

How?

The pen’s all pipe, no sharp edges,

nothing harmful, consistently inspected.

lightle

D’mitri goes home with me.  He says,

“Nana, I have to see him;

I have to know what happened.”

Slowly, in dread, we walk behind the barn.

Star’s hanging by one hoof in the three inch

space between the gate and fence,

ankle broken.

The blood covered fence, gate, and ground

stare at me.

It’s hot, his body’s stiff.

He must be moved.

Coyotes will come in the night,

drawn by the smell of blood, of death.

The neighbor brings his big red tractor;

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Women Writers and the Story Circle Network


More than twenty years ago, I coauthored a book with an attorney.  Not only did it get published, it was also translated into Spanish.  The topic, the momentum for its topic, seems basically gone now.  Some technical and business magazines published a few articles I wrote.  I wrote some safety manuals, other technical stuff, rather boring, uninspiring.  Then I discovered the Story Circle Network.

The Story Circle Network inspired me to write creatively again–once upon a time in high school my poetry was published.  Then I quit writing for years.  When I started again, it was technical or business writing.  If you want to write your stories, read other women’s stories, just explore fiction, poetry, travel writing, you name it, join this organization.  It changed not only my writing life, but my life in a broader sense.  Through it I met not only other writers, I also became a board member, made new friends who write and share. This inspiring organization not only provides classes, publishes, but also hosts various writing contests and a biannual conference.  In the middle of April, I will head to Austin for the conference.  The keynote speaker is no other than Brooke Warner, the woman who founded She Writes Press.  Go to http://www.storycircle.org to learn more about the conference and the just announced winners of the Sarton Women’s Literary Awards, become inspired, create, publish, grow.  Without this organization, I seriously doubt I would have written my book of poetry, published by Uno Mundo Press in April 2014.

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Because of comments from readers of this book, inspiration from friends, and personal interests, I am now working on another book.

I offer thanks to the Story Circle Network for renewing my writing life.

 

 

 

The Story Circle Network Conference and My Commitment: This Is What I Know


ad_scnconfWhen I first started blogging more than two years ago, I committed to blogging once a week.  That I managed for a year or so and then since that time, it became more sporadic.  Full time job, writing poems for my book, visitors, mini vacations, all sorts of stuff got in the way.  Really, I let it lapse, but refused to give up.  Last Thursday, I drove to Austin with my daughter and grandson for the biannual Story Circle Network Conference.  The plan:  while I conferred, they played.  The Story Circle Network is an organization for women which encourages women to write, to tell their stories, to share these stories, and when possible and desired, publish those stories in various forms from memoir to poetry.  This was my second time to attend and my first time to attend as a new board member.  A former mentor/teacher of mine, Len Leatherwood, facilitated  a workshop entitled “Transforming Your Writing Life in Just 20 Minutes a Day”, the last workshop I attended.  She blogs everyday.  I follow her blog.  No matter what, she sits down and writes 20 minutes minimum a day separate from the writing she does with her students–she teaches writing privately in southern CA.  One of her recent blogs has been accepted for publication–a piece of flash fiction.  She nearly begged us to commit to this kind of writing practice.  Previously, I had refused, flat out refused, partly thinking that if I tried it, more than half the resulting writing would be crap.  Nevertheless, she and her workshop convinced me that at least for one month I must try this.  Now all of you following my blog will be inundated with daily blog posts.  I am filled with curiosity as to how people will respond.  Maybe it will be like my Facebook posts–yes, I am an almost addict–the posts I consider most meaningful for the universe at large are the ones people ignore and the ones I consider personal trivia receive the most response.  Maybe I will track what appeals to my readers.  Some I won’t know because with blogging I share to Facebook and to a couple of professional networks, I have no clue who read what.  Once I received an email regarding a poem I posted. Although it never showed up as a like, the lady actually told me she read my poem in church!  Who would have guessed. I forgot to time myself so have no idea how long I have been here writing.

Here I am writing about why I am writing.  On the stove I smell Jasmine rice cooking.  I love Jasmine rice from Thailand.  I am a very picky rice eater and prefer to mix equally white Jasmine rice with black and red.  For one thing, it looks lovely when done–a sort of dark reddish purple.  Since I sautéd chopped garlic in olive oil, then added the rice and sautéd for about 15 more seconds, then added water and some broth just before I started writing this, the smell of Jasmine rice fills the house.  I piled a bunch of paper towels on the top before I put on the lid or you can use some cloth towel–a habit I picked up from my Iranian ex-husband.  Iranians really know how to cook rice.  I am also drinking a glass of Cupcake Shiraz which I bought on the way home from work.  And yes, Shiraz is also the name of a city in Iran where they actually grow grapes or at least used to. But of course, drinking wine is no longer acceptable in Iran or at least not publicly.  Good Muslims do not drink at all.

I did write something worthwhile while in this workshop and will share–doing this last because it won’t count as my daily writing since I wrote it yesterday.

 

This Is What I Know

 

My parents loved me, really loved me.

My mom was proud of my accomplishments.

Dad gave me a love of books, intellectual curiosity, and a

sense of wonder.

Mom gave me a love of music, beauty, and cooking.

Happiness is a choice.

I do not believe in luck.  You make your own luck.

Life is an exciting adventure.

Horses give me joy.

Singing gives me joy.

Dancing gives me joy even if I rarely have the opportunity.

Family relationships can be distressingly complicated.

I am proud of my children and their accomplishments.

Religion matters much less to me than 99 per cent of the people I know.

Ethnic and religious prejudice distress me and I do not

understand those kinds of attitudes.

I am a good writer.

I want to make a real difference in the world.

I am happy 99 percent of the time.

Blessings flood my life.

My close friends and children and grandson are more

important to me than they know.

Writing has enriched my life.

I have few regrets:

One I have rectified;

the other I cannot–

my dad is dead.

Variety is the Spice of Life


Here I go again taking classes.  This one is Part III of the series on modern women poets taught by Lorraine Mejia-Green through the Story Circle Network.  We read poems by a variety of women and use their works and related assignments for inspiration.  This week features Julia Alvarez and even though I have already read all her novels, etc. and a book of prose poetry, the selected poems are new to me.  It seems I always take a different route from a lot of the others enrolled in the class.  The following show cases draft two of my first assignment:

I keep coming to this part

where I’m happy

95 per cent of the time.

It’s my story

dictated by

ME.

“Variety is the Spice of Life.”

Cliche?

Yes, but true.

Four marriages

Lovers-I lost count

Activist in “love” with

Che and other South American

Revolutionaries.

Feminist for forty years

Up to maybe four careers.

Big city apartments

Ranches

Old houses by the bay

Bricks with arched windows

A tree lined street.

Can I settle?

For what, with whom, where?

Variety is the Spice of Life.

Why I Write


This post continues the saga of my writing for the SCN poetry class.  One of our first assignments included reading Mary Oliver’s poem about why she writes and then write one of our own about why we write.  Unlike many writers, discipline frequently escapes me.  I write when I feel like it or get inspired or have something special I want to say.  What do I care about?  Why do I write and about what?

I want to write about

beauty and life,

wind and flowers,

riding and writing on the rim,

sleeping in the moonlight.

I want to write to

make a difference,

challenge the status quo,

instill a love of wonder,

change the world

even if only for one minuscule moment

in one tiny corner.

I want to write so that when I die, they will say,

“She mattered!”