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Autumn update

As Thanksgiving approaches in the United States, I am thankful for many things:

A wonderful life partner

Terrific children

My sweet kitty cat

Good friends, including those of you who stick with my blog

A recent trip to Europe with my sweetheart - it was such a great trip!

Good medical care

Which brings me to my next point: I appear to be starting into a flare, characterized by increased physical discomfort and debilitating fatigue. Not unexpected, as a result of the aforementioned trip, but its onset was so slow that I didn't realize it was here until just now. It is the reason for the recent radio silence, and any that may follow.

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This month, my poetry sisters and I decided to write ekphrastic poems. Ekphrasis is the writing of words (or music) based on a visual image, often a word of art. If you're interested in more ekphrastic poems, you can click the "ekphrasis" link at the base of this post, which will take you to prior posts of mine.

All seven of us based our poems on the same image, which is below, and was found by Tanita Davis. To me, this sculpture seemed a goddess, as you can see. I wish I had the proper photographic credit to let you know whose image this is, but I do not.

Caged Goddess
by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

She is gathering
in the garden,
in her cage,
each moment
more herself,
rough spots
papered smooth,
spaces closing
as seconds pass.

She consents
to confinement,
knows she is
never diminished
by limits or
boundaries that
others impose.
She silently thrives
on her belief
in her own power.

This building
not her home,
this shell not
her essence.
She will not
be contained.
When she wills,
she will walk
free, glass ceiling
be damned.

You can read the posts from the other poetry princesses here, and the rest of today's Poetry Friday posts by clicking on the block at the bottom.

Fiction, Instead of Lies by Tanita Davis.

Writing the World for Kids by Laura Purdie Salas.

A Wrung Sponge by Andromeda Jazmon.

Read Write Believe by Sara Lewis Holmes.

Liz Garton Scanlon's blog at her website.

The Miss Rumphius Effect by Trisha Stohr-Hunt.

You can find lots of other Poetry Friday posts by clicking the box below:

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The lovely and much-anticipated new anthology from National Geographic - edited by the inimitable J. Patrick Lewis - finally arrived on the market this month, carrying inside it two of my poems: "San Francisco, Any Night", which shares a page spread with Emily Dickinson (!) and "Catatumbo Lightning", which is about the incredible lightning strikes that occur nearly nightly in an area of Venezuela. (Sometimes there are so many that one could read a book by it!)

I couldn't resist posting this photo of my cat, Kismet, who was happy to oversee my photography session (literally).

Below are photos of the pages with my poems on them. I am especially pleased to be in the company of so many poet-friends, and each page is a delight to look at and to read.

Jone at "Check it Out" has today's Poetry Friday roundup - you can reach it by clicking on the box below:

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Gleanings - a Poetry Friday post


In the new-fallow field
where husks and stalks lie,
a murder of crows hunches,
seeking sustenance from chaff.

The above is an original poem of mine that first appeared in Chanterelle's Notebook.

Want more Poetry Friday posts? Click the box below to get to today's roundup, hosted by the inimitable Jama Kim Rattigan.

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After - a Poetry Friday post

I wrote this poem years ago, following flooding in the Midwest. I offer it today for my friends and relatives in the South.

by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

I've got peace like a river,
  I've got peace like a river,
  I've got peace like a river in my soul.— African American spiritual

After the storm,
hissing, roiling waters burst through
sandbag levees; the river
brings no peace at all.
Waters carry death and carnage,
waters carry stories and belongings,
waters carry worry and fear,
hope and need and new beginnings.

After the flood,
after waters recede, settling between
banks, whispering of dreams and desires,
even before debris can be cleared,
shoots spring up from sated earth
skyward; like hope, eternal.
New-washed land shows signs of life.
Et in terra pax.

Other Poetry Friday posts can be found by clicking the box below to visit my friend, Laura Purdie Salas:

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Searching for a rhyme

This morning, I baked some cookies and then set to work on a new poem. It is nowhere near finished, and, in fact, I may have to abandon it and start over. What's really bothering me is that it's appearing increasingly likely that I'm going to have to jettison two lines that I really, truly love, because they just don't seem to be finding other lines to work with.

Maybe it's just me (though I doubt it), or just poets (ditto), but there are times when I hit upon a line that really sings. It arrives in all its musical glory, with a metre that just calls out for another line to be its mate. Usually, that signals that the poem wants to rhyme - only in this case, I have two lines that arrived with parallel construction and lovely meter. They don't rhyme, which is okay since they could each have their own mates in separate stanzas.

Except that they don't have end-sounds that rhyme particularly well. And what rhymes are available would require lines that are tortured or nonsensical or both.

*foot stomp*

If you need me, I am just going to be over here playing Spider Solitaire to console myself until a new idea pops into my head.

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Tuesday a-afternoon . . .

It is feeling wonderfully early-autumn around here, which makes me all kinds of happy, because fall is my favorite and my best. (Apologies to Lauren Child for semi-swiping from her book title, Snow is my Favourite and my Best, which I highly recommend.)

From across the room, I have art supplies calling to me, asking me to spend a bit of time collaging and painting. Next to me to my right, two books I'm partway through vie for attention, while a third on the coffee table argues with both a notebook and a journal that I should spend time there. On my left, an in-progress afghan wants to be crocheted, and I can hear the call from the other room of my Jane Austen manuscript, which I have started re-reading and making notes and edits in advance of sending it off into the world. I also hear the call of my suffrage project, which is at present three completed poems and a lot of research - some done, some not. Fainter still, I hear other manuscripts whispering in hopes of some attention as well.

Meanwhile, the sun beckons from outside, where the skies are bluest blue and the crickets sing more loudly, sensing the change in the seasons, and I have houseguests whom I would rather not ignore while they are here. The cat is napping soundly, another fine choice of activity.

What is a girl to do, with so many charming options?

In such times as this, I think it makes sense to sit still and quiet for a few minutes, to ask myself two questions: 1) which thing is calling loudest to or pulling hardest at you? and 2) which of these options would bring you the most joy in this moment?

Having made my choice, I am off to join the cat for a wee bit. And then I will see what is next.

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Pride and Prejudice: an etheree

This month, my poetry sisters and I are tackling etherees, an American form poem named after its creator, Etheree Taylor Armstrong. Similar to a cinquain, the etheree is based on syllable counts: it's typically a 10-line form that begins with a single syllable on the first line and adds a syllable per line until it hits the concluding line. It can also be reversed, counting down from ten syllables to one.

I wrote one about autumn, which I didn't love. And then another about true love that didn't really sing for me the way I'd intended. So here is my take on Mr. Darcy's first proposal in Pride & Prejudice, which I am re-reading for the second time this year and have watched thrice in the past month (once for the 2005 movie, and twice for the full BBC series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle).

Pride & Prejudice

walk in,
so sure of
your welcome, so
confident that I
would jump at your offer.
As if I could. As if your
attitude did not matter, your
prior actions did not signify.
Sorry, Mr. Darcy, I must decline.

It never occurred to me that you might
decline my proposal, or that my
recitation of my concerns
might be inappropriate.
I thought that you were on
the same page as me.
I can’t believe
that I may
have lost

Tanita's etherees can be found at fiction, instead of lies

Laura's etheree is at Writing the World for Kids, which has a shiny new format.

Andi's etheree can be found at A Wrung Sponge

Sara's is at Read Write Believe

Liz's etherees are at her blog

Trisha's is at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

You can find lots of other Poetry Friday posts by clicking the box below:

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Thursday morning at Panera, questioning

Once upon a time, back when I started this blog, I used to just type stuff about my day. And then somewhere along the line, I started adding actual content. And then most everyone abandoned Live Journal, and my online community shifted elsewhere and became harder to keep up with, because friends stopped blogging altogether or started blogging on various and sundry other platforms.

I miss them, and the sense of community that used to exist here. That said, I realize my membership fees for the no-ad version and extra user pics is coming due in the next month, and I am starting to wonder if I should move on from this particular island, as it has become apparent that nobody is swimming back, and move on to WordPress or Blogger (where I have a domain with some duplicate content, but as it never autopopulated, I didn't always dupe it).

Thoughts and feelings? Anyone? Bueller?

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Over at Guys Lit Wire

Today, I've got a review of THE BOYS IN THE BOAT: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold by Daniel James Brown. It's a book I read because Morris read it and raved about it. He read it because his cousin Sel put it in his hands after raving about it. Sel read it because one or both of his sons and daughters-in-law read it and raved about it. It's pretty much that kind of book.

If you want an example of excellent narrative nonfiction, this one's for you.

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