Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Gratitude List

2, honesty
3.  friends
4. for knowing when to quit
5. love of self and others
6. amends
7. energy
8. hope
9. family
10. a talent for writing
11. the church I attend
12.the gifts of the program
13.a marathon today
14.the concept of "keep coming back"
15.a chance to rest son and daughter in law
18.poetry of Richard Blanco friend Beverly in Durham
20,my church
21.Joy in Oregon
22.April in Pennsylvania
23.for having submitted a manuscript
24.for the expectation of spending time with my little grand niece and nephew
25.for my parents because without them I wouldn't be here.
26.for seeing 3 people from church today
27.for my friend Rhea in NY
28.for coming back
29.for Netflix
31.dinner tonight
32.for nice dreams
33.for the writers' conference I went to
34.for the memory of lying on the beach 2 weeks ago in my swimsuit when it was 75 degrees
35.for moderate meals
36.for NC State
37.for Franklin
38.and his wife and children
39.for dark red cherries
40.for writers
50.for having a potential buyer for my house
51.for being open to change
52.for looking at a condo today
53.for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and time spent relaxing
54.for a good night's sleep
55.for a good book to read
56.for energy
57.for connecting with my cousin
58.for a good belly laugh
59.for love in my life

The Pinto Pony

The pinto pony 
turned from an elm tree
and sauntered over 
to nuzzle me.
So still she stood,
noble and proud,
that I could scarcely
believe when i said out loud,
"Her name will be Willow
not Star and not Maude.
For she reminds me of grace,
and especially of God.

If Only

If only
it had been raining that day.
If only someone else had
gotten in the way of the bullet
that sped
directly toward his head.

If only
the bubble to had been
in place
to block his face.
If only the car hadn't slowed down.
If only his head hadn't been turned just so.

If only someone had just
looked up,
and seen the open window.
What then?
What then?

We would have gotten a little
more time in Camelot,
and a perhaps a quicker end
to the blot of war.


I don't wanna
see a giant vagina.

or a child molester,
only things that attest to
 people in their best moments.

Things that are up-lifting and kind, 

I don't wanna
hear about your latest operation
or your Rio vacation.
Not your heart on your sleeve,
just what you believe.

Whirling Dervishes

In silken shirts,
one hand to heaven, 
other to earth,
dervishes are spinning
in their feverish meditation.
I wait.
I watch.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Wind chimes are
humming in the background
like a Tibetan chant.
The rain makes a gentle patter on my roof
like a thousand tiny footsteps. 
Fig preserves are fresh on my tongue.
A story by Flannary O'Connor is fresh in my mind.
I'm leaving everything else
behind for now,
like prepping the house.
Those things can wait till tomorrow.

The Influence of Flannary O'Connor on Bruce Springsteen

     A lot has been written about O'Connor's influence on artists:  Bono, Springsteen, Dylan, Keottke.

The following is an article that really articulates how O'Connor impacted Springsteen, who is also Catholic.

Re-visiting Flannery O'Connor

I'm reading "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and am struck by the vividness of O'Connor's characters.  Especially the boy Bevel in "The River," the second story.  I'm remembering the conference I went to in Millegeville in 93 at Flannery's college.  So many people there, and from all over.  Sweden, LA, but not many from Georgia.  Leo Keottke was there.  Lee Smith.  All to pay tribute to O'Connor.  I read recently that Bruce Springsteen was highly influenced by her.

I like this description of the location in "The River:"  "Across the river there was a low red and gold grove of sassafras with hills of dark blue trees behind it and an occasional pine jutting over the skyline.  Behind, in the distance, the city rose like a cluster of warts on the side of the mountain.  The birds revolved downward and dropped lightly in the top of the highest pine and sat hunch-shouldered as if they were supporting the sky."  She certainly had a way with words.

I emailed my poem of Flannery to Toby Aldrich, the resident curator of the Flannery O'Connor childhood home.  He said he's seen Flannery as a child several times and that once she woke him up.  Said it didn't scare him a bit!  It sure would freak me out tho.

It would be interesting to visit the O'Connor conference again.  Last time, they showed films of her books that had been made into films.  Wise Blood, for example.  It would be great to see her childhood home also, as well as Andulusia.  That would be a great vacation!  I could even ask to overnight at her home in Savannah to see if she might pay me a visit.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I'm back home now,
after four days at the Writers' Conference.
My cat, Annie,
greeted me anxiously,
then tore
out the door.

I bring in my luggage,
Business cards.
Read some poems by Makuck.
(Man, can he write!)
You feel your life richer,
after reading...
My brain is reeling
trying to find the poem
about an ocean rescue.
How Makuck swam out to sea
to help a boy who was drowning.
I cannot find the poem
in the Long Lens of verses.

Every poem is a revelation.
Reading them, I wonder
if I missed my calling.

I scan the things I've unpacked --
a lush magazine called Salt
with an article about a woman
who prints from a 1907
printing press,
and another one about an artist
referred to as the Mystical
Queen of Cape Fear.

Only one more bag to unpack --
 books by Egerton,

Reflecting now on my holy
day at Wrightsville Beach.
I feel complete.
Grateful that I took an extra day
to inhale the exquisiteness
of that place.
75 and sunny on the 18th
of November, 2013,
a perfect day.

Now I have seen some beaches --
Del Ray
Santa Cruz
La Jolla

But none so splendid
as this...
except maybe Ocracoke.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Allen Gurganus

Allen Gurganus came to the Rocky Mount library tonight.  He dazzled the audience with a reading from his latest book, "Lost Souls."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NC Writers' Conference

     I'll be attending my first conference for the North Carolina Writers' Network in two days.  It's at Wrightsville Beach.  I'm having some real anxiety over this.  Fear at reading my poetry in front of a group.  Heck, I did it last week-end.  What's so different about this week-end?  I can do this.

My choices are:  "Getting Old Sucks" and "Pink Slip."  Read them both to a friend, she liked them.

My brother, John, has become my muse.  He edited "Good morning, Tarboro."

What will the weather be like on the Coast?  Will the car hold up?  Will I hold up?  I hope there aren't too many poems about death, violence, and suffering.  God!

I just read over NC State's MFA in creative writing program.  It is awesome.  Ten students a year. I dare?

Taking some food on the road Friday....let's see.  Quiche and NUTS!  and fruit!  Just wish I could play some cd's but the danged changer is broken.  STILL!

Tomorrow morning I interview Fleet Sugg.  Recorder's ready and I have my questions.  Planning for 30 minutes.  Deep breaths, and bring on the camomile tea.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Getting Old Sucks" (c)

"Getting old sucks,"
the film star said.
But it's really not so, 
Not if you live
to take care of yourself,
and continue to grow.
Keep learning,
Keep smiling.

Bette Davis
said, "getting old sucks."
But I don't believe it.
And how would I know?
Because of Mick Jagger
and Barry Manilow.
And what about Paul McCartney?
 These guys rock, they don't suck.
They will die standing up.

I listen to rock,
I volunteer,
and create
(I'd rather not hate).
I talk on the phone.

I dye my hair.
Have an affair (or maybe not).

 I like to keep boringness 
out of my life
I seek out those
who are spontaneous.
I stay positive,
Don't put on airs.
(Call me Dana,
not Miss Dana,
not Miss Stone.)

Take a vacation,
find inspiration
in my work.
My work.
I'm worth it.

Why I Drive an Hour and a Half to Church (c)

Sunday morning, and I have my
breakfast of tea and cantalope,
then scope
the forecast for the weather.
I don't know whether
I should venture go or stay,
but hey,
my Sundays are not complete without church.

I don't know many folks
who drive an hour and a half to church
but really -- what difference does it make?
I take
my time...
being certain that the oil in the car
is topped up.
Then I have another cup
of green tea,
taking one cup for the road.
I leave behind names like
Spring Hope,
Red Oak,
as I listen to Leo Keottke
playing on the car stereo.
and eventually find
myself on the way to Durham.
 God, thank you for this day.

I take
a right
as a tape of
my son plays
from 25 years ago...
"Mama, can I please go play on the slide?"
"You know there's not much pollution here."
"Power Rangers!"
"Let's sing Bingo!"
"There was a man who had a dog,
and Bingo was his name o,
(repeat three times.)

Just then I turn onto 177...
almost heaven...
almost there,
a commitment to share --
truly a great day to be alive
and to come to church.

Stephen is greeter
smiles all around--
hugs abound,
life couldn't be sweeter
there are no strangers here.

On the third of November
 I remember
how the fall colors pop.
I stop
about selling my house,
or surgery...
or what's for dinner.

Today, the third of November,
I remember
other Sundays
like the one when
the Emmanuel Youth Choir
"Mr. Jesus,
rain down on me."
And the sermon that day--
"Don't make it harder than
it has to be."
I remember what Amanda had to say.
"God, let me be singing
at the end of the day."

What is Durham Presbyterian Church?
 According to Franklin, "We are a small group of people
loving each other fiercely....
telling God the truth of who we are...
Finding God in pain and suffering.
It's in the places of suffering
and fear that
we find joy."
  One morning,
as Franklin preached,
Jesus came down
to Durham Presbyterian Church
and walked amongst us.
The air warmed and
we felt the peace,
transformed by the moment.

This morning, Angie is back!
The choir's going to sing.
And what shall I bring?
Maybe a tambourine?
Jenna is here.
Jordan too.
Peace be to you, and to you.
prayers for Pakistan...

for the people--
Anna's ministry,
Justin's brother,
Tomi's mother

Scott and Liz may be moving to Idaho.
Megan goes back to school soon,
Carlos is in a New York hospital.

Durham Presbyterian Church
reaches out,
to one another,
to the community,
to me.
The minister said,
"If there is a church that does not reach out to the marginalized,
then that place is not a church."
This Church
has created a bridge to understanding
and hope.
Right here,
in Durham, North Carolina.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"The Night James Brown Saved Boston"

James Brown cooled off the crowd in Boston after Martin Luther King's assassination.  The police came up on the stage and Brown said "wait a minute" and pleaded for order.  The show continued and a riot was prevented.
Credit:  Open Culture

Eleventh Step Questions and Answers

1.  How does step 11 challenge me? 
answer ---  sometimes I still think I'm in control.
Program teaches "to seek more direct contact with God."
Move forward and let go.

2.  What is my belief about recovery through a spiritual relationship with a power greater than myself?
answer ---I can't rely on my own unsteady will power to recover.  I need God's help.  I have to surrender again and again.
3.  In what ways do I actively improve my relationship with an HP?
answer--- I practice Centering Prayer which I feel puts me in direct contact with God.
I ASK   for God's guidance.
I look to God as my strength and guidance.

4.  how important is it for me to have a regular quiet time for prayer and meditation?
answer---  Very important.  I like to do this first thing in the morning.  Centering Prayer for min.
I also try to "check in with God."
I ask for help.  God, help me to do your will.
5.  What do I say when I talk to God?
Whatever feel is right.
Ask God to take away my fear and insecurity
To help me be more trusting.
I say my gratitude
I ask G to help me grow in faith.
I express my gratitude.
6.  Am I afraid to express my honest feelings to God?  When and why?
answer---no because faith is more powerful fear and I ask for G's blessing as I am honest in expressing my feelings.
7.What knowledge do I need to ask God?
answer--for strength to His will for me.
8.When have I felt angry with God?
answer---When my prayers are not answered.  I am impatient.  I've been praying for my house to sell.  It hasn't yet but I continue to have faith.
9.  In what tangible ways can I communicate with God?
answer---what is the next right thing to do.
10.  What is meditation?
answer -- listening to God's voice
11.  What does meditation offer me?
answer--a a chance to be alone with God.  A chance to calm my mind.
12.  How do I know which thoughts are God's directions and which are my own rationalizations?
answer---God's thoughts are encouraging!
13.  How does time spent in prayer and meditation affect me?
answer--  keeps me focused and moving in a forward direction.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Zimmer Knee Replacement

      Zimmer has an answer for women needing total knee replacement

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Graitude for Today, November 2, 2013

This morning I'm grateful for
a patch of blue sky, 
and for billowy clouds
that still remind me 
all is well.

I'm grateful for my gratitude partner in California,
who just texted me these words:
"I'm grateful for the freedom I receive as I 
nurture my spiritual life. In meditation today,
I breathe in God and breathe out ego.
My eyes brighten and my soul shines!"

Lovely words from a lovely soul.

"Letting Go"

I recently came across this paper on Letting Go.  I can't remember
where I got it, but I typed on a typewriter, before I had a

I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have.

To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each
day as it comes, and to cherish myself in it.

To let go is not to deny, but to accept.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but
to allow others to affect their destinies.

To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To let go is not to try to change another, it's to make the most of myself.

To let go does not mean to stop caring, it means I can't do it for someone else.

To let go is to fear less and to live more.

Blessings to all of you

Friday, November 1, 2013

First Fiddle

First fiddle, then fight
Stand firm, and resist the flight
away from yourself,
away from God,
away from the truth
that blocks your 
of where you've been.

You've coped,
you've battled,
you've studied in school,
You're ripe,
and rich,
and somewhat cool.

Stand firm.
Continue to learn,
with new wisdom,
new growth.

I still repeat this old refrain.

Just don't go.
Don't wander far and away.
at least for today.

Bad Boys (c)

Bad Boys
Came to Roberson School,
They had no other place to go.
They couldn't stay grounded,
And all of it sounded 
like the system struck the final blow.
Bad Boys
come through the metal detector.
They're frisked by the staff,
they sometimes laugh,
then become bitter and dash,
down the hall,

leaving behind cell phones and food
 Homework is left behind.
The students are behind.
No Child Left Behind. Ha!
And who is to blame?
Bad Boy --
Called his teacher a bitch.
Another pull the fire alarm.
The principal stood by,
did nothing but nod,
"It seems that they mean no harm."

Bad principal yelled
at the kids in the hall.
"Where is your pass?
I'm going to call
the police.
That will teach 
You to obey the rules."
Bad boys yell back,
and are getting suspended,
a day or a month or forever.
Bad principals stay 
And keep on offending
Good teachers who try to keep the peace.
Good teachers stay,
And keep on teaching
about poets and history and art.
Martin Luther King and the incredible things
he accomplished by doing his part.

His part to bring peace
in a non-violent way.
The letter he wrote on a warm spring day:
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

Some of the best writings have come
from prisons and seem
 to speak
volumes and teach
us to turn the other cheek.

Just like Jesus said.

Good teachers believe
that they plant a seed
then leave for other professions.
They write, they keep teaching,
continuing to make their confessions.

Confessions of how the arts
can transform
and build a nation of readers.
They continue to follow
ideas set by all the great leaders.
Leaders like King,
Ann Frank,
and the student body president killed at UNC.

Never give up,
keep trying and see
how the answers will come, 
whether slowly or quickly,
they will come.

Bad boys go on
and continue to want
a new life for themselves.
Who knows where they'll go.
Maybe jail,
Maybe college.
Maybe to the White House.
Who knows?