White Trees- Nathalie Handal

Sometimes, poems tell a story that we weren’t expecting. It forces us to make connections and for me it’s a reminder that we can see the beauty in the most unexpected places. Please enjoy this poem by Nathalie Handal. I hope that it gives you a bit of unexpected joy too on the first day of December.

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When the white trees are no longer in sight

they are telling us something,

like the body that undresses

when someone is around,

like the woman who wants

to read what her nude curves

are trying to say,

of what it was to be together,

lips on lips

but it’s over now, the town

we once loved in, the maps

we once drew, the echoes that

once passed through us

as if they needed something we had.

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The Patch

This is an excerpt of a poem that I’ve been working on. I’m not in love with the second stanza yet but I wanted to share a bit of it. 

Enjoy! 

That spot of grass 

Where they laid you 

To eternal rest 

That place lined by towering oaks 

And its carpet like covering of grass

Doesn’t beckon me 

To come visit and tell you everything that’s happened since you’ve been gone. 

It’s not where I go to relive happier times. 

Instead, 

I keep you safe in my memories

Replaying childhood antics, teenaged shenanigans and the ride home from the hospital with your firstborn. 

Nonfiction

This is one of my first attempts at nonfiction which is not my favorite genre. This is something that I had been trying to write since late 2012 but never managed to write until I took a class last year. I am still trying to tweak it but I am sharing a bit of the piece today.

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When asked about myself, I have often led with the fact that I am a mama’s girl. I have always taken pride in being my mother’s daughter. And in the moments on October 11th, 2012 when our family found out that her death was imminent I felt as if I had been struck. The idea that I would end 2012 without her was like a physical blow. I remember bending over her and saying that I wasn’t strong enough to live without her. I didn’t know how, or whether, I would be able to exist without her. She was my first best friend, my confidante, and the barometer against which I measured myself. Although she had spent our lives together raising me to be strong, independent and an individual.

My mother was seventeen when I was born and sixteen when she became pregnant with me. Our closeness was partially a result of that short gap between us and partially because of who she was. I was always inquisitive so I knew when I was fairly young that I was at my mother’s graduation and by the time I was thirteen, I knew that my mother didn’t have to give birth to me. My mom was her parents baby, as the youngest giving birth to a child as a teenager would cause her to forfeit her dream of being an architect. Although, she didn’t become an architect, she wanted me to accomplish all of my dreams. From her hospital bed, she proudly told her respiratory therapist “my baby is working on her second Masters.” She always made sure to let me know when she was proud of me and when I could do better. Our closeness does not mean that she wasn’t a parent to me. She was always, first and foremost, my mother but she wanted me to know that I could tell her anything. When I was in the third grade, I got suspended from school for one day for throwing a workbook at a classmate and cutting his neck. I remember waiting for my mother on out front porch in East Trenton, New Jersey with trepidation. I can clearly recall thinking of all of the things that I wouldn’t get to see once my mom killed me for getting suspended. I would never become a teenager, never have a sweet sixteen, never go to college or get married. When she arrived home from work, she sat beside me and asked what was wrong. I told her in broken sentences what happened earlier in the day. Her response, laughter. “You hit him in the neck? But you can’t throw!” she said between tears. I sat there stupidly looking at her. Here I was thinking that I would never see another day and she was laughing.

 

Work in Progress- New Fiction

Today I’m sharing a bit of the story that I was working on for NaNoWriMo. It has not been edited or proofread so forgive any errors.

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I guess I had forgotten but there is just something special about being back in Schoolhouse Falls in autumn. There’s a beauty that I had always loved even when I was a student here and it probably helped convince so many alum to move back.

I walked down the street heading back to the end of town where the B&B that I’d been staying in since I’d come back. I had a full panel interview later in the week and had decided to stay through Homecoming. The town had changed a lot with the influx of new shops that had popped up and it would change even more with the STEM charter school that was due to open in the next year or so.

I’d spent the morning at the coffee shop just off campus working on my new book and drinking way too many cups of coffee as I pounded out a chapter based on my outline.

I took a sip of my Americano as I strolled down Baiser Street with my leather messenger bag across my chest. After what happened to the kids, I’d taken this semester off and was happily only booked for a few speaking engagements for the rest of the year. Tonight, a bunch of us were getting together to have dinner at Ian and Corrine’s. I entered the stately

“Hey Mick,” she said leaning over to kiss me on the cheek.

“Hey, Lo,” l said as I reached out to take the package she held out for me. I handed her the bag of four lemon curd muffins that she’d mentioned craving this morning.

“Oh my goodness,” she said. “You are the absolute best, McKay

I shot her a full smile and asked her if I could take my lunch out on the deck. It ran along the back of the porch from the sun room. I opened the box lunch Lola had given me and smiled. There was a container of her working man’s pasta salad, a thick slice of meatloaf on sourdough and a Peppermint patty cupcake. I tucked into my lunch enjoying the way that the leaves blew in the wind. As usual, my mind turned back to Sav.

NaNoWriMo Update #1

 

It’s officially November and I’ve been working on this year’s NaNoWriMo project. Today, I just wanted to give a little mini update of how everything has been progressing so far. This is the least planned out writing that I have done in the past ten years (fiction wise). My characters and settings are all over the place and I really have no excuse since these are characters that appear in another story.

By day three of NaNoWriMo, I realized that I might never make it. I did great on the first day and okay on the second but on the third night it took me until well after midnight to get the required word count for the day. Day four was amazing, I made my word count a little before midnight. However, day five was interrupted by my decision to finally dig into Stranger Things so I only wrote 495 words and will be trying to catch up this week.

I have been writing on my laptop and will probably port everything into Scrivener on the last day of November.

I also can already tell that this will be the crappiest, least organized draft that I have ever written.  I will be giving another update later on this month but I hope that the month and the writing is going better for all of you.

From The Dark Tower

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This post was totally unplanned. I was going to write about how I was torn between writing two stories for NaNoWriMo right up until the last moment (aka Wednesday night). One of the things that I am writing is based on characters with names from Harlem Renaissance authors/artists. While I was researching a site for that story, I was reminded of The Dark Tower, the building that served as a literary salon, during the Harlem Renaissance. The building is gone but the site is now home to The Countee Cullen branch of the New York Public Library.  So today, I am sharing a piece from Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen.

As always, enjoy!

 

We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made eternally to weep.

The night whose sable breast relieves the stark
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall;
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.

Scrivener ?

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This is the first NaNoWriMo that I will be writing where I have Scrivener. Unfortunately, I have not used it at all, since the month that I purchased it. So, I’m a bit reluctant to try using the software in November because of that. However, I wanted to try to devote at least two to three days next week to it before I make a final decision. I wanted Scrivener so bad and this would be the perfect time to use it.

I have also decided that I want to write my project on my desktop computer which will make it easier to save (since my laptop has virtually no memory) and to use Scrivener. But on the lazy days where I just want to nap, I know that will be difficult. As a way to combat that, I am going to try to develop and stick to a writing schedule/routine that is earlier in the day around 6-8 pm where I can get my writing completed before I get distracted by the TV or things around the house. That time will also allow me to take a nap after work and still cook dinner and get settled to write.

One of the things that I really love about Scrivener is that I can import notes and scenes that I’ve already written. I also noticed that there are sections for settings and characters. Since the story that I’m planning on working on will be changing to a fictional town in Virginia I am really excited about giving those components a try and having all of my information in one place.

Has anyone here successfully used Scrivener for any of their writing projects? How was it? Do you have any tips or recommendations?