My Creative Projects, Stories

A Seussian Red Cross

For our most recent staff retreat, I was given the opportunity to write a poem, in the style of Dr. Seuss, about our team. What other workplace asks you to write such fun material? 🙂 Enjoy!

 

Seuss

A Seussian Red Cross

In a land of nonsense, quite grand they do say,

Where children and grownups quite ridiculously play –

The Who’s & the Horton’s, Sneetches & Zax,

Grinch & Lorax & Cat in the Hat –

 

There’s only one group to handle that clatter,

One crew enough to tackle the matter.

The Seussian Red Cross jump into the fray,

The Seussian Red Cross will save the day.

 

We’re led by our captain, the Betsy of Pratts,

While Amber and Bryan have Betsy’s back.

 

The Grinch stands no chance with Crystal around,

Sending cards & good cheer to all soldiers’ towns.

 

When Thing One and Thing Two muck up the house,

Alyssa’s team shows them what we’re about.

Providing for needs, while home disarrayed,

Working hard to ensure the family is safe.

 

When Green Eggs & Ham cause a terrible slump,

When “in a box with a fox” causes a bump,

When Sam-I-Am has no clue what to do,

Traci’s team brings calm to the hullabaloo.

 

And while the medics of Seussville need quite a lot,

The Blood Services team transports blood on the spot.

 

What a crew, what a team!

But don’t forget behind the scenes.

 

Eileen’s got a group drawing Who’s far and wide,

To help out the town, in blue and grey skies.

We can’t do this alone – not if we tried.

 

This they know, as do Lyn’s own patrol,

Who wrangles the money from high and from low.

 

Then there’s Brooke and Biz Ops,

Her behind-the-scenes team.

They help with buildings and fleet and little big things.

 

Oh the Places You’ll Go, thanks to Beth in HR,

Oh the Thinks You Can Think if you travel so far.

She gives money and vacation and holidays too,

Our own personal genie in this land of Seuss.

 

We can’t deny, it takes a full crew,

And Trish spreads the news with gusto renewed

By coffee and lattes and java and such.

You really just can’t compete with this bunch.

 

There’s so much about Seussville to love & to cherish,

But the Seussville Red Cross is greatest of greatest.

 

Red Cross

 

 

 

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My Creative Projects, Relationships, Stories

Poem: Happy UnBirthday

With recent birthday celebrations, I thought I’d share a little poem I wrote awhile back for some friends’ birthdays I missed. I make belated birthday greetings all the rage 🙂 Let me add that this is even more brilliant when spoken aloud in a ridiculous voice!

Happy Unbirthday

Happy Unbirthday to You.
I speak to all of us here of course,
But specifically Amber & Kim who
I really wish a happy unbirthday as a matter of course.

You see, while all of us have an unbirthday today,
Amber & Kim celebrated their un-unbirthday not long ago.
So while we all can celebrate our unbirthday in some way,
Only Amber & Kim can celebrate it today so close –
To their un-unbirthday.

Here all us unbirthday fellows sit around,
In joyous occasion of our recent un-unbirthday comrades.
And really us unbirthday folk celebrate year-round,
Except for one un-unbirthday a year we celebrate scads.

And now, to the recent un-unbirthday two
Present and accounted for.
We almost got to enjoy the occasion with you,
But now we’ll just have to wait 364 – or 348 – unbirthdays more.

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Mental Health, My Creative Projects, Showcasing other Creatives

What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You

The past few weeks, my friend Maggie and I have collected responses through social media of what hurtful words made you who you are today. We loved the feedback, and hope to get even more on our next collaborative project. See all of the responses here, and check out Maggie’s blog for some DNA word art she created from this project. Like my Facebook page or Follow me on Twitter to get in on submissions next time around 🙂

ohf1p

 

 

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“I’ll never be against you.”

“There’s no cure.”

“Live on your own to make sure you can do it. Just in case.”

“You won’t regret it, I promise.”

“I doubt anything will change my mind at this point. Only someone better before you.”

“We have nothing.”

Someone told me once to stop just thinking of myself and think about others and how they feel for a change. It hurt but made me realize that I need to spend more time doing things that will help and serve other people.

“I’m done trying to convince you that I care.”

“You gotta try more from the salad bar. Get more experience. How do you know what you like until you try it?”

PUSH Pray Until Something Happens

“You are worth waiting forever for. I’m saying I won’t wait forever.”

“Get your foot in the door.”

“Your intent wasn’t to build up, it was to cut down.”

“I don’t do what you’re doing, because it’s of the devil.”

“You need to not be so sensitive.”

“There’s no thing that can be taken as a reason why we’d be together.”

“Be an active listener. It matters when you make eye contact and pay attention.”

“You’re always crying – do you need to see a doctor?”

 

 

 

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My Creative Projects, Stories

Shovels & Ash

Caila has travelled to and fro to scatter wishes. Village, city, forest and field, a wish in every place her feet would touch. She would wish on that first star every night, she would wish with a tap of her heels, and she would wish by meadows of clover and weeds. The wishes piled up, yet the fulfillments dwindled.

But then an idea quite greater than a wish presented itself – hope. Be it a whisper of fate, a cry of desperation, or another chasing after the wind, Caila added hope to her wishing, and her seeking altered. She sought, not for a far-off needle in a multiverse-spanning haystack, but for the tangible surrounding her. And hope gave her wings, literal wings that wishing had never granted. Who needs love and wealth and purpose when one has wings? It was a glorious sight, an angel on earth, and Caila adored herself and her long flowing wings that spanned the earth and sky alike.

Yet all was not perfection still. Large cities barred their gates, and villagers shook their heads at her audacity. Dreamer they called her now, the Dreamer who burdened the world. When she danced through the streets, the wings would knock over boxes, loads, even animals. She apologized in course, but is apology enough when the action continues?

So Caila took to the sky – she could with her wings – and as her body wearied of fighting gravity, she in time recalled a story. A boy with wings that flew to the sun. The ending, rather than a word of caution to her, was a word of possibility. So she flew up and up, until the sun set fire to her wings and she plummeted to the ground – the wings were mere ashes covering her body now. She had found freedom – no wings to hold her, so she danced through the streets once again.

The ashes tumbled from her sleeves, her hair, her shoulders, and began to cover the world following her travels. Caila, the ashen dreamer, roamed the earth, though neither Caila nor Dreamer was she named now. Ash, they called her, the whole world. Towns shooed her away with the brooms they swept up her ashes with.

Of course one day, Ash came upon a shovel – it was bound to happen after roaming the entire world. She scooped up a pile of dirt, reached out her hand and sifted the dirt through her fingers. Not unlike the ash, she thought. One scoop of dirt was not enough for the shovel nor Ash, and soon there was a gaping hole in the ground. The hole stretched through, all the way through, into the depths of the earth, out the other end, through the sky and stars and planets and galaxies, to a world that Ash wished she could know – a world full of shovels and wings and wishes.

Ash touched the ledge with her toes, then her heel, and finally she felt no ledge at all. Her body fell down the hole and found no end. Always plummeting, much like Alice, only never to stop. After a time unknown, she looked up the hole she’d made and saw that her body had not moved from its original leap. She reached up and climbed out of her determined hole, defeated. She plopped herself down next to the hole, and her mind roamed where her body no longer dared to go.

About the world she imagined, person after person scowling upon her dreaming. Her body may fit in a room, cabin, village, forest or sky, but her spirit was much too large to squeeze into the place. “Admit it,” Ash whispered. She was always at her essence the same person living the same life with simply a different way of striving – her name changed, yet always left the same dissatisfied her. Caila looked down at the hole that was no longer there – it had been filled over by her ashes as she sat.

She traced her fingers through the grey ashen circle that clashed with the surrounding brown dirt. Her fingers, then her hands, finally her arms joined with gentle strokes of her hair, until the whole story had been written in the ash, a tale of a dream. Haybales, sun, brooms, shovel, all of it lay before her a piece of art, while the breeze slowly tugged it out of legibility. For that moment though, no one could touch the truth that had been proclaimed here, none could deny the reality of a fairy’s tale.

Caila hinted a smile, then opened her mouth as agape as her jaw would allow, and screeched. All of the pain left, hidden in that screech, as it slowly transformed to a squeal, a joyous sound that scattered the ash – tumbling away in an instant, and all the ash, the wings, the desire, the dream – none of it mattered anymore. She laughed and, though it was no melodious laugh – yet neither was it a horrendous guffaw or braying – it was a song in its own right. She found something of far greater worth than her own name, her own tale. A song of a journey, a journey forward.

My Creative Projects, Stories

Flash Fiction: The Sandman’s Falsehood

 
The Sandman is taking me. He unscrews my hands, my feet, my ears, my nose – whatever is in reach. Then the dreams – I enter my dreams and am falling apart. Why does everyone stare? What are they looking at? No, not a human. I’m nothing but an abomination now, an automaton. He did this, emptying my eye sockets, cleaning out my soul.
 
 
There was love, at least the option. I could have been the talk of the town in an entirely different way. People flocking and I had eyes for only one. That’s how it was. He wasn’t all the others were, but he worshipped me and that was enough.
 
 
Then the dreams came, falling always falling, drowning but in air not water, and tearing, ripping, gripping for the parts of me that fell away. My heart, see I still have my heart, in my grasp here. Pounding ‘til the drumbeat woke me to twisted sheets and twisted arms. I’m awake. I’m together. The falsehood of dream is gone.
The stares continue, but the glares escalate. My melodies are no longer a siren song, but an omen – first to strangers, my father, my love. No, I’m here, I’m still here, don’t you see. But that’s not my voice, listen to me, listen. Return my eyes and I can show you where I am. Please, the Sandman has me, it’s the Sandman, not me. I’m awake, I’m together, the falsehood of dream is gone ‘til the sun leaves.
 
 
The Sandman presented himself at last – a menacing beast of a creature, black of soul and body, but my eyes – he had my eyes! Don’t you see, those are mine, but there went my hands and feet next, and I was losing every piece little by little, and who am I, Klara, Olympia, I can’t remember, tell me who I am. And all that was left was my heart, pounding. I’m awake, I’m together, the falsehood of dream is gone….
 
 
The heart beat down the street, safe within my false body. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t feel the touch of my distant love. Up the tower, higher and higher, I’m still here. I’m here, can you hear me? But now there is nothing to do but leap, into the air and let the ground prove my life as it takes it. Am I awake yet?
 
 

My Creative Projects, Showcasing other Creatives

Collaborative Writing: Apollo’s Prophecy

My friend Doble and I are collaborating on a fairytale. And by “are” I mean “were when right out of college, then she left the country to get her masters and we put it on pause, now she’s back and we’re starting it up again, but soon she’ll be leaving to get a doctorate and who knows.” It’s just for fun for us, but involves classic, modern, and lesser-known fairytales, fables, and mythology. My current favorite character is the Pied Piper, but I’m pretty sure the Dread Pirate Roberts or Mnemosyne will grow on me. Anyhow, today I thought I’d share Apollo’s prophecy we created to kickstart the epic quest. Enjoy!

 

When the ciphers gather

where Beauty sleeps eternal,

the mortal fate of one

fulfills the balance of favor.

Resist temptation,

and consult the old woman under the oak

before the ocean’s crossing.

By turning around here,

one can walk back, safely,

and will lose no face.

But those who continue the quest,

that which they seek, the Book of Spells,

grants the possessor what is requisite.

When legend is obtained,

the quest reaches its end,

and the world will pay the price.

 

***Note: A brief portion of the prophecy is a quote from Neil Gaiman’s writing. We know! Neil Gaiman is a part of the legend in our story. No plagiarism is intended (I don’t imagine anyone could successfully steal Neil Gaiman’s work), as this story is just for funsies for us, and all of that portion is credited to his writing within our story. ***

 

My Creative Projects, Stories

Turn the White Snow: A “White Winter Hymnal” Story

Like many this year, I was introduced to the Pentatonix version of “White Winter Hymnal.” I fell in love with the song and wondered about the story behind it.

 

 

What had happened to Michael? Why was everyone wearing red scarves? After much googling around, I found out the original version was by Fleet Foxes, and was excited to know it hadn’t come from an already-existing story….I decided to create my own 🙂 Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

 

Turn the White Snow

I was following Michael to the schoolyard, sludging through the snow. Little Mary trailed behind when she fell on a patch of ice. It wasn’t too big of a spill, ‘cept her red scarf shuffled to the side and she gasped, froze. “Mary,” I teased, “keep careful or you’ll lose your head.” I knotted the scarf ‘round her neck one more time to calm her. She beamed up at me, and I returned a reassuring smile. The extra knot was all it took for her to sprint ahead of us, though our legs were much longer to catch up.

The schoolyard was covered in packed snow, but Michael took the side route with hills that splashed with powder from less traffic. All the students were bundled up in line for class. We took our spaces in line too, and Michael and I followed our pack to one side of the yard while Mary’s took the other. She was carefree now with that extra knot; she could leap and bound and – well sit still for the lecture as she was told – without a care in the world since her sister had given her that extra security. I reached up to check my own knot in the meantime, tight and unyielding.

Silly superstition, really. Some braver kids, like Michael, would just wrap the scarves haphazardly ‘round their throats of course, but mother was always cautious to check that our scarves were knotted, and sure enough Mary and I were of the more timid type of student that instinctively grabbed it in any bout of uncertainty.

Michael was the daredevil – always finding the highest pile of snow to slide down, always questioning the superstitions, always telling some outlandish tale. The other day he had told me that the ground used to be brown like the logs for our fire, and the brown ground would grow food called strawberries as red as our scarves, and even more colors we had never seen before. Silly notions he came up with from listening to the loons, yet still he dreamed of proving it one day. That was Michael, always wanting to make some life-altering discovery – though he said convincing me would be an acceptable alternative.

Now that I was certain my scarf was secure, I quickly tugged on my hat as well. All the other people were the same, only worried about scarves for security, but I was the odd one who had to check my hat as well. Probably most of the reason Michael kept me around, because I was an enigma. Everyone else’s hair was white like the snow or brown like the coats that swallowed us, but mine was orange as the fire. People didn’t know what to think of that, not with the regimen of structure we all lived under. Though most knew I had wild hair from seeing the tufts peep out at the least opportune moment, I still tried to keep it under the hat at all costs.

Today’s lecturer spoke on the scarves – they always do. Red to stand out above all else, for everyone to take notice and honor the life it allows us to live. A life of continuity, of conformity, going from one task to the next in the pack, never side-stepping, never turning. Just as the snow fell from the sky to hold us up, we in turn reach for the sky it lifts us toward – ever close to the white snow, ever closer to the whitest sun. When the scarf was tied on a newborn, the traditionalists would say, “a scarf of red tied ‘round your throat, to keep your head from falling to snow.” The scarf held our society together, maintained the structure, the uniformity of the pack in growing higher towards the sun. The ditty at every birth reminded us of that. I was just old enough at Mary’s birth to remember, and I felt as proud and tall as ever to be a part of something so grand.

When the lecture ended, it was time for recess, and Michael bolted. I trailed behind him, joining the pack of kids in a snowball fight. The lecturer’s eye was following our movements while we scooped from the hills of snow and slammed it into the bundled pack of scurrying kids. We all danced carelessly through each other’s footsteps while Michael raced to the top of a hill and howled like a wolf in triumph. We watched him pile the snow in a ball as large as our coats and roll it down the hill toward us. Trying to beat his own game, Michael jumped in front of the giant pile. We couldn’t scatter, and we waited for the student in front as we leapt away from the rolling mound.

That’s when the wind burst strong and my hair loosened – I felt it kissing my face like the snow as it fell, and I instinctively turned ‘round to keep the others from seeing me adjust my hat. There was Michael right behind me, waiting, simultaneously admiring my bright fiery hair and grieving that I felt compelled to always cover it.

But the snow was still racing for us, and he was still blocking its path. The same darned gust of wind – as if it were meant to curse the lot of us – tugged at his loose scarf as the snow pile slammed into him. Michael had lost his own game. He caught himself barely, but the scarf lightly drifted to the ground and we soon realized the mistake. His head toppled and landed on the ground and his feet gave way. Liquid as red as our scarves poured out of him, turning the white snow red.

The students were only now turning in unison to see the scarf drifting along by the wind, away from the red snow and the white face that lay in it. The lecturers approached and guided the students away. But they had seen me turn, and I was in trouble I knew.

Michael’s body was taken away for a proper burial, swallowed in the icy sea. A lecturer gave me white bags, and lots of them, to swallow the red snow ’til the incident never happened. My shovel dug deep, ever finding more red snow, until it hit hard bottom. I scooped the snow away and there – I saw brown. Neither a fire log nor a coat, but some ungiving ground of brown. My fingernails scraped it, memorized its texture, and I wondered what strawberries were like.

I tried telling the lecturers, but they brushed it away. The next day someone had covered the brown with snow, so I had no proof. I knew the other kids would laugh, but I told Mary and she gave me a hesitated smile.

“Of course she’d believe his superstitions, trying to revive his memory after such a tragic event.” I heard it whispered by my parents, the lecturers, the doctors they sent me to. No one would believe me, the girl with the wild hair and wild friend and wild stories. But I knew what I saw was true, and every night I would crawl between my brown covers, pull out the little white bag I’d saved, and pinch the red snow, imagining he had finally made strawberries.

If you enjoyed this, check out the Fleet Foxes version of the song as well.

 

 

And if you’re a writer, I’d love to hear your version of the tale! Please share!

My Creative Projects

Poem: What’s Your Emergency?

According to my brief look at the weather, it’s supposed to rain every day next week. Summer is just around the corner though….right?! Here’s my most recent poem, actually not written during a thunderstorm, but during a wonderful time of rainless worship at my church.

 

What’s Your Emergency?

The thunder cracked like a whip
and brought a splatter of fat raindrops.
Focus.
Wipers flip-flapped to smear the blobs,
hardly help against the looming thunderheads.
The fujita scale was threatening
as the wind gust tugged and the car lurched.
Focus.
Blackness, blurs of white and yellow,
hinting a stripe somewhere to follow.
Lightning crashed – I could see –
and then I was spinning. So dizzy.
Focus.
I’m lost. Tears mix with the rain.
I imagine them splatting the window from the donuts.
Focus.
Where are you? I’m flipping,
and my stomach flip-flops as if wishing to stay upright.
Focus.
I can’t see. Not through the tears and flips and wipers and stripes.
I don’t want to be here. Come back.
Focus.
Can you call 911? Something’s broken.