Shared Sunsets by J. E.Cook, read by John Kavanagh, live

I would like to thank John for picking my poem to read this Sunday and doing it so well on his live show that he hosts every Sunday on Facebook. 

Give a listen here and take in the lovely poetry shared live with a poetry community of caring individuals. 

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St. Paddy’s Day with Poetry on the Dear John Show~

This one (below) by me was read by Nina Thilo this Sunday on the show.  She does such an excellent job of reading my work live. 

 

The Small Town Life of Rae Michaels

Cigar boxes, old trailers, and

a Texaco station

Past the Gardenia patch,

Skipping through the woods

On the dusty path,

Watching a group of tramps eat out of cans

By the still tracks,

Rae was restless and she wanted more

Than this small town gave her,

She thrashed in her cold sheets

This morning,

Rising early to greet the bluebirds,

Bucky right at her heels,

Scaring those little birdies away,

 

Her hands were empty of silver coins,

She wanted more from here,

Gleason’s Barber Shop was

Hopping with male chatter,

Her daddy was fixing stuff again

Outside the garage doors,

Bucky still by her side

With his tongue hanging out,

Jimmy across the street collecting

Nehi bottles in his wagon,

Hardy walking with him,

Telling him about the weather

Down South,

Curls & Stuff Salon

Full of ladies under pink dryers

With glam magazines in their laps,

And a cup of tea or coffee

nearby them,

Why couldn’t she find her

Happiness here?

 

Miss Martha lets her

Hangout at her place,

Her son a bit slow in the head,

Wears his hair clipped short

Because his mom wants it

That way,

She brings him sweets from

MacAlister’s Drug store

And Miss Martha

Always treats him like a baby

Still at the age of eleven,

Wiggly in his seat on the porch,

They watch the silos being filled

Together while Bucky naps near,

Mac arrives clutching his ball and bat

Against his chest,

Asking them to join him at the park,

Rae sits aside her book in her lap,

Miss Martha is inside making fudge,

Rae puts her nose to the screen

To tell her they’re leaving,

They race across the open fields

Of mustard and tall grass,

Bucky chasing them from behind,

Another afternoon in the sun

With friends on the baseball diamond,

The gang is there,

Daisy, Alice, Teddy, and Sam.

Rae decides maybe, life isn’t so

Bad here after all.

The game starts and she finds

Herself lost in the gathering of

Friends as the sun beats down on

Them together in the dust, the heat,

And the beauty of sharing with close

Friends and also competing for just a little while.–J. E. Cook © 2019

Listen to the show here:

Special Thanks to Nina Thilo for reading my poetry again this weekend! Always a pleasure to be featured on this live show with John Kavanagh as the host.  

Ali Cobby Eckermann wins $215,000 literary prize~Unemployed Indigenous poet~ Some Dreams do Happen.

The Windham-Campbell prizes are unique in that authors generally have no idea that they are in the running for one. Administered through Yale University in the US, they do not have an open submission process but take nominations from appointed members of the literary community.

Ali Cobby Eckerman

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/01/unemployed-indigenous-poet-ali-cobby-eckermann-wins-215000-literary-prize?fbclid=IwAR2NR9ORkWDXrx0c1WXNGQuAg7X7uqwFiEz0RljDHdb4JHDVGuTgNacpZV8

All information from the link above.  Just passing it along for all poets to read!

Her words:

“My son and my grandsons are moving back to South Australia in the next few months, and it will just allow us some stability to grow up together under the one roof,” she said.

“I haven’t really had that option before in my life. Just the thought of maybe being able to purchase a home or rent a home, and for us to be together and have that stability is something pretty new to me.

“I’ve been so grateful for the recognition of my work so far, and could never have foreseen something of this magnitude.”

The awards will be presented in September in a ceremony at Yale.

“It also feels like an award that is honouring my family’s story, and the three generations of us that didn’t grow up together,” said Eckermann.

“I want to accept this award on behalf of my grandmother who walked out of the Maralinga bombs [the British nuclear testing that occurred near Maralinga, South Australia, in the 50s and 60s to the great detriment of local Indigenous people] with her little children, and then my mother was taken from her – to my grandmother and my mother, who were so dignified in their pain. Life changed so dramatically for them, and they stayed really dignified and that’s the legacy they’ve given me.”

I love it when people are given a chance to be something better because they worked so hard for it, and finally, it pays off, even though it is their passion to create instead of working in some dead-end position where they will never bloom into what they dreamed of being during their lives.

Image may contain: Josie Cook, smiling

Pacific by Tom Drury

Pacific

Well, I have read two of his books back to back.

This one is a bit weak at the end, I felt it took another turn towards the ending. There are some crazy twists inside this novel. However, this turn is peaceful with a beautiful view! 

I do admire going back to these characters! I do like visiting them again.

There is a mystery at times, passion in some relationships, there are imaginative qualities, too. Drury’s freeform is something I admire because I use it often in my writing, too. He catches the small town feel, flavor, closeness and it is nice to read here inside these pages. Moral codes are tested along the way as this story unfolds and builds with these characters and their shared connections.

Going back to Grouse County, I love the New Luddites that emerge with Micah as he goes out on his own to another place. Charlotte is an active voice in his world. She seems to ground him.

Lyris is fighting with her ghosts and her past. Tiny is still being the bad guy with his petty movements in this community. Surprises enter and laughs are involved. The Laughing Bandit is exposed in time. A shipping giant is missing nine packages and Tiny’s car drifts along the snow-covered highways. He stops at the tavern and he encounters Sandra Zulma. Then, things change.

Louise is someone I admire and I like hearing her voice. Hans Cook is taking care of her mother by being there. Mary Montrose dreams vividly. Louise has a close connection with Mary. They know what each other is thinking by their connection. They are agreeable in most cases after discussion. Mary saw Louise in her dream and she thought she was a beautiful woman and told Hans this. Dan supports Louise through her loss.

Micah wants to buy a California smoke but isn’t old enough. “I saw you at the marijuana doc’s” (p.171). A man takes a silver case out and hands Micah a joint. Micah thanks him. This man, Mark invites Micah to stay with him and his girlfriend on the beach. She is Beth with the freckles, green eyes, and strawberry blonde hair. They hang out eating curry and drinking red wine together. Beth paints and doesn’t sleep well. Her and Micah connect. They sit on the porch together and watch the moon. “down to the sea”(p.173).

Sandra is seeking Jack in the woods. Lyris is seeking out Micah through Joan. At the beach, Lyris calls his name, and he forgets the lost match. He hugs her. They walk down the Pacific and she enters the water. They wade in the surf together. Lyris’s yellow dress floats on the water’s surface. The gulls are silent but present above them. A ship is on the horizon and they stand hand in hand. The waves hitting them but they are never moving. It is over.

Two different communities brought together here. Haunted souls with promises and circumstances.
But, there is peace at the end.

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I like this cover image; however, mine looked like the above image. 

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Another cover image: I prefer the one above with the colors and bridge!

Sweet & Crazy, A novel by Patty Dann

Sweet & Crazy

 

Many funny moments & many sad thoughts, too.

At thirty-nine, Hanna Painter has returned to her hometown of Ash Creek, Ohio. Her husband, Ed is dying of cancer inside their home. Pete is four when his father passes away there. This is the start of Hanna’s journey without her husband by her side.

Hanna, a young widow and her son trying to go on after the death of her husband. Now, a single mom that had hopes of a bigger family instead of a smaller one. Pete becomes a five-year-old expressing so much laughter while his mother grieves inside for what she had once and it is gone. Her close friends and her dreams are keeping her afloat.

Little Pete tells his mom, “Now you’re a window,” he says this after his dad dies in their home. He is quicky, and a comical boy often during this story.

Hanna is teaching older women to write about their lives at the local YMCA and she also works at the local library. Eventually, Pete starts kindergarten and he quickly finds a best friend, named Omar, the Indian son of Mazur, who runs the local cleaners in a strip mall in their town.

Pete wants to keep of his father’s stuff and he moves most of it to his closet for safe keeping. Their neighbor, Thomas becomes a central person in their lives. September 11 becomes an important topic among these characters as the story unfolds and shows us what they felt about it. Thomas works as a cooper at the eighteenth-century colonial restoration outside of town that he calls The Hill. However, he also leaves town often on business. During one of his road trips, a girl appears in his drive. She is driving a flashy sports car and Hanna sees her from her kitchen window.

Hanna, Thomas, and Pete form a  new family together. The Twin Towers are attacked and changes appear in their community.

Prejudice thoughts are a recurring device towards the end of this book. Mazur and his family are a target in the community and Hanna finds herself puzzled by this and the why behind it. Maureen enters Thomas’s life and in turn, she enters into Hanna’s too. The Hill is a setting where the characters often meet or retreat to during the story. Hanna’s dreams are central, too as these characters grow closer to each other.

I’m on page 144 of 208 of Sweet & Crazy: and, Pete asks his mother about the mailman, “Why is he wearing those special gloves?”

The whole story is about Hanna and her life. The ending leaves me thinking about some of the other characters and what happened to them. However, I think Hanna finds what she is looking for through Thomas in the end.

Patty Dann’s writing is very poetic throughout this novel and a joy to read.

Sweet & Crazy

The End of Vandalism

The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury

“Rather than writing about international events, I write about individual lives,” –Tom Drury

I think this is Drury’s first novel and it is so impressive!

There are some very sad moments; however, there are also many funny situations, too. The vivid landscape and sense of place are moving as a reader turns the pages. This contemporary story is full of characters so like real life with the daily events. I counted about sixty-eight characters inside this novel and all of them are vivid in their own personalities and their unique flare is brought to life through Drury’s writing voice. His made-up world is filled with these people in their community as they live their daily lives together.

Louise Darling captured my heart as I read her story and experienced her emotional life. She is my favorite character in this book. Her relationship with Dan is eye-opening to what couples can overcome if they stay faithful to each other. I often thought Dan was going to stray or maybe, Louise would move on and never return to her marriage. Their shared loss is the most heart-breaking moment inside this novel but when they reunite it is also the sweet spot of this novel.

I laughed out loud often as I read this one. My first novel by Drury was The Black Brook. Then, I watched the movie, based on his Driftless Area. I loved this movie and bought it so I could watch it again. His amazing storytelling makes me want to read more of his writing.

“I love the way that people speak,” he says. “Sometimes when I didn’t know what was going to happen next, I would bring in a new character and see what they said.”–Tom Drury

This novel has a lot of emotion tucked into the pages! So, the overall experience is somewhat drawn from inside the individual reader’s soul.

“There is elation and sadness, death and birth, love and jealousy, co-operation and betrayal. All the great emotional transactions that happen wherever people come together.”–Tom Drury

The End of Vandalism has a sequel titled, Hunts in Dreams. I am going to look for this one and get it. I can’t wait to read more about these characters and their community.

Drury’s writing reputation is further enhanced by the film version of his novel, titled– The Driftless Area, which he himself adapted for the screen so do yourself a favor and watch it! The movie has an impressive cast that includes Zooey Deschanel, Anton Yelchin, Frank Langella, and Ciaran Hinds. I enjoy watching it again and again!

 

lock and key by Sarah Dessen

 A story about sisters, family, and discovery.  There are keys that fit the locks to open the possiblities to reach your future. Dessen writes about Ruby’s journey to her destination and what it brings with it to help her fulfill her goals.

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

I finished this one and that made me sad because I am still thinking about these characters and their relationships with each other.

This is a beautiful story about relationships in general and learning to trust after being hurt. The story behind the key follows with the reader as this unfolds and it plays a big part in the theme and the progression of these lives.

Dessen crafts a progression of her main character, Ruby with all the facets on display as this young girl develops into a wonderful person with an adult insight into relationships and what is important to a family unit.

“Our definitions were as different as we were ourselves.” (288) Quite a quote to remember and take away from this novel.

Ruby’s thesis on the term family is often a part of this story, too. She becomes a unique student with her goals driving her toward finding the right college or university to attend after she completes her education in a new location with new friends and a new family unit.

I read the paperback edition of this one. The key is a small part of the cover image but I know what it looks like from the description and the big part it plays in Ruby’s life and another woman’s career. Ruby’s key becomes a noted item that helps another character find her success and also helps her find love right around the corner from her where it has always been located. This older character’s progression leads her to love, trust, and letting go.

Ruby’s relationships inside this thick volume are intriguing and she begins to see more inside these people instead of what is only located on the outside of them.

This is one of my favorite novels and I will remember it for a long while. Just like Ruby remembers the boy next door in this story. Supporting characters are apparent and moving.

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Leaving a Legacy of Hope by Mark Gregston

(The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this e-book through BookCrash.)

I recently read this and now, I am reflecting on the material through some noted quotes that I gathered during the reading over time.

Thinking about what it means to be a grandparent is the main consideration as one reads this e-book. The Heartlight center is for struggling teens and it is helping many of them daily. As I read, I took notes, and I thought about these quotes I noted. They were put down because they were important to me and, I wanted to reflect on them later. Then, I included them here because I liked them and admired them. Here they are, and I think you will understand why this volume of writing is an excellent read for grandparents, parents, and the teens out there because this material involves them and their lives.

“Your position is unique. Your relationship is paramount.  Pursue it well. Make the most of the years you have to invest in the lives of your grandkids.” This quote is the most important to me as I think about my grandchildren and their grandbabies in the future.

Trying to make every day and every moment unique is something I aim for as I spend time with my children and my grandchildren. I try to find a way to make them feel it too by making sure I am engaged with them while we are together and by being happy while we are spending these minutes in each other’s company.

“This is what I concluded: Don’t save for that special occasion because the special occasion is today.”

“Teens now rely more on their peers than they do their parents, creating a blind leading the blind scenario that hardly fosters maturity, barely encourages responsibility, and certainly can’t be a great fountain of wisdom.” I consider this quote and I think about what I have experienced with my own children and what I might see in the future with my toddler age grandchildren when they reach their teenage years. Will it still be like this? I believe with my own children, this wasn’t the case most of the time. I think friends do have some bearing on what teens find helpful and what they decide to follow and address daily. However, if their parents are instilling good values this will not be a big issue. I think in my case, most of the time, my parental guidance won over my child’s friends guiding their decisions and if it didn’t they usually wished it had been their choice in the first place. My children would feel guilty if they did wrong and most likely, they wouldn’t do it again.

“I do believe that parents have to be relational in their approach to their teens. They can’t lead in such an authoritarian way that it pushes their child away.”

Yes, this is the approach, I have always followed and believed in when parenting my own children. I think I will continue to follow it because it has proven to be the right approach in my family.

“Political correctness hampers the ability to speak freely, and the rights of all have so far encouraged more division than unity.”

This is increasing daily in our current period. I often don’t talk about it with family members because it is a harsh point in our relationship. It is a topic to have guidelines in place before even discussing it. If one establishes in the beginning that everyone is free to have their own opinions and choices, I think one might be able to talk about it without being aggressive towards each other or crossing lines that can’t be fixed with each other.

“Teens today are stuffed with information yet starving for wisdom.”

I think everyone now feels an information overload often and it creates unneeded stress. Information must come with breathing room and allow for an expansion in the future at a rate that the individual feels comfortable with learning it and processing it. This rushed society is overrated, and it creates a lot of unneeded havoc over time quickly. The overload and the sense of urgency are often too much for a person to process without leaving out mistakes because they move on it quickly and this wisdom is not a factor in their quick decision like rolling the dice and taking whatever turns up as what it will be. I am finding it hard to keep up lately due to the overload of information and I note that steps are skipped often to complete a task quickly. However, some teens today seem more adapted to this rush and the information overload. Then again, some of them may desire to slow down and take in what their grandparents have to offer them in the way of learned knowledge. I see it in my family, we have teens that love hanging out with their grandparents to learn and share ideas.

“…sometimes we communicate loudest and smartest when we say nothing at all.”

Yes, that silence can say a lot on its own. And, when we come across loud, it doesn’t solve anything. It shows that we let it get to us and we lost it. The control of emotions can be difficult but often it is the key to not saying what we look back on as a huge mistake.

“Positive change rarely comes out of negative criticism. In other words, complaining doesn’t fix anything.” Learning this can become a difficult lesson but it is always a very important one. There are times when certain complicated issues must be addressed; however, how we handle them is so crucial to a good relationship and keeping it.

“The need to have fun together is paramount. How much you laugh together is a good measurement of your relationship.” I think this is true and something that must be put forward before we meet in our inner thinking. Make the decision to be positive and be a leader in making it happen by making sure it is always present in our attitudes towards each other.  Thinking in this manner from the beginning and keeping it in place.

“A condescending and arrogant presence pushes me away. It’s fake and disingenuous. I prefer the presence of imperfect people who allow—no, who welcome and embrace—other imperfect people.” This is another rule to live by in my thinking. It is what I practice, and I don’t tolerate anything less. At this stage in my life, I can’t change what I believe when it is a proven way to approach life.

Of course, there is a lot more in this e-book, and that is why it is important to read it and think about the included observations and the specific relationship information deeper and consider it again. Revisit this e-book, to think about what works and what is a wonderful way to raise these youths together.

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I enjoy starting each day by reading…

Sometimes, it is a book and other times it is a small selection of admired poetry. Here are some of my favorites by poets in time. William Blake is the one I would have to pick if I had to site one favorite poet; however, I have many favorite poets, writers, and authors that I often turn to every morning while I sip my coffee or tea in those early hours as the sun rises and creates an inspiring image on our skies. 

The Garden of Love

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst, 
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.
–WILLIAM BLAKE~

‘Out, Out—’Related Poem Content Details
BY ROBERT FROST
The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside him in her apron
To tell them ‘Supper.’ At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. ‘Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!’
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

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