Response to The Sunday Whirl Wordle: June 30, 2013

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Here’s an attempt at a poem in response to Brenda Warren’s weekly word challenge at The Sunday Whirl.

I like playing around with poetry; I believe writing poems sharpens my senses and, hopefully, enriches the language of my fiction.

Brenda’s words this week come from Glacier National Park signage:

bird, bridge, unstable, wild, bend, rock, retreat, bear, lane, fallen, meadow, island

Plus a bonus word: Heaven . . .


Suspended between earth and heaven

the swinging bridge bends in the wind.

You stand still and clutch the ropes

until your fingers numb. You’ve crossed  

here before: the rocking’s wildest

over the middle of the gorge, just

when you’ve come too far to retreat.

Breathe, breathe, don’t look down

to see who might have fallen before you.

How could you bear to know?

Listen to your pounding heart,

the roiling water below,

the flicker and call of birds,

the wind’s dying shush,

and fix your eyes on the far side: 

a single tall palm, a flash of red

in the meadow (bird? bloom?)

where the rutted lane leads out

to the main road, across the island, home.

It’s only one bridge, after all:

unstable, like a life.

To see other folks’ efforts, visit The Sunday Whirl!

Writers: do you enjoy stepping out of your genre occasionally? If so, what do you gain from it?

Sunday Whirl Meets the Memoir Challenge

I haven’t done the Wordle for the Sunday Whirl in a while, but these words leapt out at me. I think it’s because I’ve been immersed in the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge for the last two weeks.

All of you who know me know I don’t consider myself a poet, but here’s what came out of this week’s Wordle list. It breaks the chain of memories by jumping ahead a few years, but it still fits the challenge.

Here are the words: umbrella, deeper, inherit, excuses, stand, become, thunder, childhood, joined, vowed, shifts, light . . .

Wedding March

We needed umbrellas that hot afternoon.

The end of June, thunderstorms were common

but this one didn’t last long. The clouds soon

shifted and light broke through. We would have to dig

deeper for excuses—I in my white dress

and he in a tux that didn’t quite fit.

In an upstairs room I waited, wilting.

My childhood friend pushed back my damp bangs

and grasped my hand, but what did she know

about standing in the church, poised

to be joined to a boy it turns out I hardly knew?

My father waited at the top of the stairs,

and I wondered what would become of me.

Then he walked me down, and the boy and I

vowed to cherish, to inherit each other’s woes.

Wordle 65: A Little Fiction

Here are this week’s words at The Sunday Whirl. Wordle 65 made for quite a challenge, especially one of the words. I bet you can guess which one:

flicks, swells, spray, grittle, gravity, plant, trigger, relishes, chain, crack, humility, refrain, claim

Here’s the result of my playing with these words–a bit of fiction:

Seven Letters, Starts with G

“What’s a seven-letter word, starts with gr, has an l second letter from the end?”

Lori ticked off letters on her fingers. “Grabble? Grapple?”

Harry tried them. “Nah. I don’t think so. Doesn’t work with 13 down. That’s r-a-p-t. Rapt.”

Lori scribbled a few words. “How about griddle?”

Harry chewed the end of his pen. She hated it when he did that.

“If rapt is right, then there’s a t where one of the d’s would be. Gritdle? Gratble?” He shook his head. “You’re no help.”

She flicked the dish towel at him.

“Ow,” he said. “Refrain from the abuse, would you please?” He grinned, and she aimed a pretend gun at him and pulled the trigger.

Pow. See? Rhymes with ow.”

“Ha,” Harry said.

She was finishing up in the kitchen, but he hadn’t yet left the table. He was like a crack addict when it came to his crossword puzzles. First thing every morning while he ate his breakfast. The easy puzzle first, then the syndicated New York Times puzzle edited by Will Shortz. All while she showered and dressed and slugged down coffee and grabbed a Pop Tart before she left the house at seven to go process claims at FiveStates Insurance Company in downtown Ithaca. She hated that job. A computer programmer, Harry worked from home these days. She wasn’t sure what he did exactly. Maybe he worked puzzles during the day, too, but then after dinner, he was back at it.

She wasn’t going to be stuck at FSIC forever. She was writing at night, or before Harry got up, sometimes as early as four in the morning. It was her true work, her calling, the dark, romantic fantasy with a heroine who sprayed diamonds from her fingertips like bullets and whose breasts, Lori had just written a couple of days ago, were like “the swells of waves in a high sea.” She relished those words. She relished that time when she didn’t feel chained to a desk. Chained to Harry.

She shook her head. Had she just thought that? Yes, she had.

She was almost done in the kitchen now. She nested the clean casserole dish inside another, but it slipped and bounced out of her hands and shattered on the tile floor.

Harry dropped his pen. “Good God, Lori! Can’t you be careful?”

“It’s called gravity, Harry. It slipped. It fell.” Her heart pounded. She was close to tears. He’d gone back to his puzzle. Damn you, she thought. She picked up the biggest pieces and dropped them in the trashcan. Then she got the broom and dustpan out of the closet and started sweeping up the glass. She got a sliver under her fingernail.

“Ouch! Oooh!” She was crying now.

“Hey,” Harry said. He got up from the table. “Let me help.”

“I’m done. I don’t need your help. I don’t need you. Why don’t you take your damn puzzles and leave?”

“Leave?” Harry looked stunned. “Uh uh. I don’t think so. You think you could make it without me? I saw that, that novel, or whatever it is you’re writing. I read it. It’s awful.” He took the dustpan from her and dumped it. The broken glass made a kind of pleasant sound going in the trash, a little like a wind chime. I could use that in the book, she thought. A nice detail.

“It’s good, Harry. I know it’s good. I think I can sell it.”

He put the dustpan away. She was still standing there with the broom and her bloody finger. He handed her a tissue. “I’ll say one thing. Humility’s not your strong suit, is it?”

She slammed the broom into the rack inside the pantry. She grabbed her coat off a chair and her keys off the table.

“Where you going?”

Lori planted her feet, squared her shoulders. “Out.” She opened the door, but then she stopped and turned to look at him. “It’s grittle,” she said.

“It’s what?”

“Grittle. The word you couldn’t get.”

He laughed. “Never heard of it. You’re making that up.”

“No I’m not. It means something like a coarse grind, or what you get after a coarse grinding. What’s left. The nitty-gritty, Harry. Go look it up.”

And she was out the door.