A Stitch In Stress

Life does not always co-operative with my goals or my attempts at serenity. Sometimes I have days or weeks where I’m not very creative. One of my practices is to embroider one thread a day.
I’m working on a tablecloth–mundane, printed, a kit. Cross-stitch. It’s big. Sometimes I imagine that at the rate I’m going I’ll never finish it. I gave up on following the suggested colors years ago. I’m just filling it in with blocks of whatever strikes my fancy. As cross-stitch, it mostly all goes in the same direction, until dyslexia strikes.
Really, I don’t want to finish it. It’s going to be a pretty goofy tablecloth and I suspect too large for my table. Plus, I just like cross-stitching it.

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Letter To My Younger Self by Cheryl Marita


I have come back for you.  I know you.  I am you. I love you.
You don’t know, at ten, what you will know at seventy, that you are lovable,  capable of loving others.  At ten you only know rejection by your birth parents, by your adopted  alcoholic father and your angry mother, by kids who ridiculed you as they called you Cheryl the Barrel, by nuns who stole money from you and lied to your family.   
You don’t know at ten that the rejection, with all of its limitations,  will be the building blocks for you to stand on as you grow into a woman with resilience.  The limits that were set pushed you farther into books, into the library, into a fantasy land where you were safe.  You didn’t know, on your sixteenth birthday, the day you got your first job, that you would learn how to navigate a world you would live in for 50 years, years to develop wisdom and gratitude. 
The building blocks that you toiled under at ten taught you to be a lifelong learner, to push past the restrictive beliefs of adults in your neighborhood.  You stood on those blocks  to raise yourself up out of a life of fear.  Those blocks became the foundation of a life of success, caring, and ultimately, a pursuit of what you wanted a ten, to be a writer. 
The books,  the bravery you want at ten are what you will enjoy at seventy.
You will be loved, by family, friends, animals. You will love.   You will develop strength and  stamina.

You will be Cherished Cheryl

Monday Feature by Michaela Kahn: A poem for 29th August – the UN designated: “International Day Against Nuclear Tests”

A poem for 29th August – the UN designated: “International Day Against Nuclear Tests”

Hades Waits

Because last night they were running the nuke tests again and I huddled in a deserted drive-in movie parking lot behind the screen. No time to make it inside a van or a bunker. And the shock wave felt like an electric shock. Skin rippled, mercury blood. It’s already too late. It’s in the marrow — dna spinning out skeins of new code: A lobster, a seal, a rooster, a human, a stone with a heartbeat.

Because somewhere inside this Hades waits. Folded hands and bracken crown. On his throne of pale gray metal. He is smiling for us. He is shining in us. He is a million micro-curies of dust blown round the world, nesting in the smallest niches of the alveoli, settling in the ocean-bottom of the bones.

Because he is a sign written in a language no longer spoken. A salt cave slowly melting beneath rusting barrels of discarded plutonium.

Because he promised us a cold cloth for our foreheads, and the pomegranate seeds exploded on our tongues.

Because he is the planet at the edge of our sight, the shadow in our memory, the word made stone.

Because he comes as rain, as ash, as the chariot that bursts from autumn earth, trailing arcs of smoke and fire.

My sister will not move her family to southern Utah – too much fallout from tests with names like Ranger, Teapot, Nougat, and Sunbeam. In the 1950’s the mushroom clouds could be seen from hotels on the Las Vegas strip – a tourist attraction. 928 tests in Nevada alone.

Because once Hades has anointed you with a touch of his burning cold hand – there seems to be no other way to get warm.

Letter To My Younger Self by Heidi Vanderbilt

Kid, some advice.
Don’t pretend things are okay when they’re not. Watch your temper. You look sweet, ringlets, ankle socks, but you can hang on in a fight until the other guy chews his leg off. That makes you think you can stand anything, but you can’t. You won’t forget your parents slamming doors. He slams. She slams. The full length mirror shatters to the floor. You cut your foot. Your bi-polar mother throws her best friend out of the car to walk home. Your mother throws you out of the car to walk home. Her lovers. His lovers.
Don’t find the worst thing ever and invite it in, marry it. Ditch the guy with fists. Lose the stoner, singing’s not enough. Wait. 
Don’t believe you’ve got life licked, got it worked out, that you’ve arrived. You will never arrive, trust me. You’ll never feel comfortable for long, no matter how much you want it. You’ll never feel safe. You’re someone who waits at stations, misses planes, sleeps rough in stables. You smile at the hobos that live beside the tracks at the foot of the hill. Through campfire smoke, they smile back.
At twelve you run away, take a bus to to Penn Station, sit on a bench all night then walk home in time for breakfast, broke. At thirteen you’re auditioning for shows. At fourteen you‘re on tour, playing the younger sister in a loving family. The cast, drinks between shows, runs wild through a cemetery, vomits on gravestones, sleeps with each other in twin beds, four to a room, on the couch, the floor. All night, the Kingston Trio repeats itself: Lemon Tree; Five Hundred Miles. You can hear the whistle blow. You steal his undershirt to keep his smell close to you. Back home when the tour’s over, you kick your way through Central Park barefoot. Strangers yell at you. “You’ll cut you feet  without shoes! Stupid girl! Where do you live? Where are your parents?” By sixteen you live alone in lower Manhattan,a special kind of lonely. Deadbolts, incinerators, switchblades. At night you climb to the building’s roof, bend back over the parapet, turn the sky upside down. 
Don’t fall. 
I wish I could help you, tell you that the feel of the park path on your soles, rough, hard, dry, or wet with sooty rain and dog piss, will carry you through the rest of your life. I wish I could tell you while you’re still a kid that when you’re old—and you will live to be older than I am now—it won’t be the sulfurous urban night sky you’ll recall as you drift off, nor your view dangling from rooftops, aimed at the street. Instead, you’ll draw stars up through gnarled feet, through the misstep into dog shit, skidding off rocks in the Rambles between mating men, horse drawn carriages, and cops. 
Wade into the boat pond, Heidi. One day you and your husband will teach your son to sail.

All The Poems Fit To Print–new e-zines and work

There are so many wonderful e-zines out there right now. It is hard to keep track, but each new gem is a find. Plus, I think as writers we really enjoy the immediacy of seeing our work posted—often quickly and in fresh visually interesting formats. For readers, a snack sized dose of poetry is a click away…with whole magazines to peruse at leisure. Today I’m re-printing two newly published poems with links to more work. The first is by me at Fourth and Sycamore (what a cool name!): https://fourthandsycamore.com/2016/08/19/to-embark-iceland-poems-by-miriam-sagan/
They did a lovely job. Take a look for more poetry and more photos of Iceland, actually shot from the air by Isabel Winson-Sagan.

A Rainy Thursday in Laugervatn

wind comes off the water
trees–generic because I am a foreigner–bend in it

and the umbrella I transported for thousands of miles
turns insideout

shows its ribs
like a beached decaying pilot whake

small black ducks at the edge of the lake
pea plant gone saturated blue in the northern light

and although I praise and soothe the sheep
they turn fat furry tail and run

off on their little legs
like time, like wavelets on a shore

and reading a saga
in the hotel eadda

and waiting for lunch
I feel as if I were (although I’m not)

sitting in a ferry terminal
about to embark

bad news from far-away
god news up close (raindrop, birch)

and the artist tells me
if I understand correctly

that her great grandmother
is the one who carved this gigantic statue

of the tall woman
with enormous outspread wings

Miriam Sagan


I love the two poems published at Soul-Lit by Michael G. Smith. He is a frequent blog contributor, and the poem copied here has that “feels true” chime to it. Let me say, though, the other poem of his up on the zine is complex and awakens the inner philosopher, so do check it out at http://www.soul-lit.com/poems/V13/Smith/index.html

Silence, a Verb
In the work of silence
there is nothing to be
gained or possessed.
Silence, a verb, what
do I hope
to achieve
winging thoughts
across paper,
the path walking, too
beside the mountain.

Michael G. Smith

And some great poems by contributing writer Devon Miller-Duggan at https://broadzine.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/doors20163.pdfEnjoy!

Monday Feature by Michaela Kahn: Can Poetry Save Lives?

Can Poetry Save Lives?

Maybe a poem isn’t going to knit a broken bone, or sew up a wound … but I wonder – can poetry save lives? In those dark hours full of complicated questions or those lonely moods that can swallow us like a fog, in a time of serious decision … can a poem find its way to us, let a color or complexity in?

In some of the darkest times of my own life, poetry has been a life raft. And in the times even worse than that, my own demon has actually, actively kept me away from poetry – a sort of self-starvation in the midst of my depression or grief. That’s why I believe in it. Because when I could finally get myself to the place where I could sit down and read a poem … perspective and equilibrium weren’t too far behind. It wasn’t about the poem solving anything … it was about finding a way to return to the world.

Anyway, survival requires more than just a beating heart … the heart needs something to beat for.

Here is a poem that works this kind of magic for me.

“O Taste and See”

by Denise Levertov

The world is
not with us enough.
O taste and see

the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination’s tongue,

grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform

Into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince
living in the orchard and being

hungry, and plucking
the fruit.

Letter To My Younger Self by Tracy Moore

Dear Past Self,

I’d like to talk to you about what love is, and what it isn’t. As you go through the next few decades of life, many things are going to be said and done which will cause a lot of confusion for you about what it means to receive and give love. So many times, wounded parents fill their children with feelings of fear and rejection due to their inability and/or unwillingness to cope with their own problems. Their words sometimes leave behind even bigger bruises than their hands do.
The most important thing for you to remember is that your presence in this world is not something which you should ever feel guilt, shame, or regret for. As you get older, you will have a lot of things to heal from, and it may take a long time for you to realize that no one deserves to benefit from the fact that they have created fear or feelings of inadequacy in you. No, not even your parents. You will have grown so accustomed to walking on eggshells and feeling as though you can’t do anything right, that it may be difficult for you to create healthy relationships for a very long time.
Do not feel guilty for this either. Be gentle with yourself as you unlearn just about everything you’ve been taught about what it means to love and be loved. Give yourself the gentleness which you have deserved from the day that you entered this life. There are many stages to go through as you move through the upcoming healing process. You will feel anger, resentment, shame, guilt, fear, and uncertainty as you make your way toward wholeness. All of these feelings are a normal part of your experiences. Remember that you have been taught to question your every feeling and action. You no longer need to do this to survive.
It is normal too, to desire love and acceptance so much that you can be drawn into relationships of all kinds which are not healthy for you. This is because you have nothing to go by when it comes to recognizing healthy exchanges and fair treatment. No matter how hard this might seem, the first relationship which you will need to build in order to form a good foundation for all of the rest to come is the one with yourself. As time goes by, you will eventually reach this healthy stage in your life. Take the time to enjoy it. Savor the freedom which comes from letting go. Remember all of the obstacles you’ve made your way through over the years, and keep your eyes open for people who are in the position where you used to be as you were beginning to heal. A few kind words or a little reassurance from you can give them a jump start on their path.
Do not, however, take their burdens upon yourself to the degree that you are not living your life or dealing with your own stuff. This too, is a common thing which happens to people who have been through some of the things that you have. While it is good to care, you have to be aware of how much of what you do might be a distraction from dealing with your own issues. There is a lot of trial and error coming up, but you will realize that there is a difference between caring and avoidance, or even co-dependency. We do not have the ability to “fix” anyone other than ourselves. When the time comes that you find yourself thinking that you need to sacrifice parts of your very being in order to love someone enough-know that this is not true. Have faith in yourself. I do.

Your future self


Tracy Moore