Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier

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Unfinished Poem

All my life I straddle

Between light and shadow

Right and wrong

Vietnamese French

Gujarati English

Yin yang, boy girl

Mom dad

I straddle East-West

Tea coffee

Rice roti

Christianity Buddhism

Teeter tote Catholicism Islam

Saddle love on pointed hatred

Spanning the valley of indifference

Between you me

What could be that were left in the void

Between here and there

tall nose as forbidden as the summit of Himalaya

Skin too white or dark

Food too bland or too spicy

But come to think of it

Your chanting prayers heals deeply

And my singing halleluia gives wings to hope and forever love

You kneel with your forehead on the ground

And I with my upturned grace

That moment we are two spirits united with the Supreme

I am between logic and madness

Formulaic and spontaneously chaotic

I calculate my number of words

Aiming for the cold effectiveness of sentences

to the point

I die every day as I’m living

As I breathe air steadily polluted

My lungs declining with age

I kill in cold blood as I dismiss the Other

Unaware of their need for space, food, love, human connection

I lie as I’m telling the truth

So dark it’s unbelievable

As when I told her

Mom, let go, and die in peace.

I do not know how to draw

But with the alphabets I sketch

I release my balloons of thoughts in clusters

And hope that they carry a message to the wilderness above

I guide them, my children, like kites

sometimes they float so high and travel places

And dance and dip and flutter in the wind above people watching

But sometimes they got caught in tree branches

 dive straight down like a bird shot dead


Pantser. Not Pants, Sir!

Pantser Princess

The other day, at one of our club-sponsored book talk, author Kathleen Harrington mentioned the difference between plotters versus pantsers. You would think she was discussing some sorts of printer used in Manga graphic arts. Ever heard of Pantser Princess?

But the queen of romance, although her job was to paint sexy medieval ladies whose exquisitely-embroidered gowns were meant to reveal rather than conceal, didn’t mean that Pantser. I knew! And if you didn’t, let me speak in plain English. The novelist who plans everything from beginning to end is a plotter. S/he works with an outline, while a pantser is like me. We sit down with nothing concrete and start typing furiously until a story takes form. We are the true artists because our virginal minds conceive from the angels.

Just like what I’m doing right now. I sat down with no preconceived ideas about my blog topic until suddenly, as I and my fingers clickaty-clack along like a choo-choo train through deserted tracks, a form appears in the fog and lies down on those very tracks my fingers are choo chooing along. Kazaam! Unlike the train, I didn’t try to brake. Au contraire! My fingers take off in a hot race against multiple thoughts that threaten to dissolve into emptiness, thoughts that distract as well as interesting ones whose faces I long to uncover, running so breathlessly behind. Clang, clang, my fingers, the three or four that take charge, bounce along quickly across the keyboard, until I catch up to the faceless thought, or thoughts. It will be much more difficult if I catch up to too many of them, because they all turn in different directions, all quivering and wanting to slip away as I’m preoccupied with the other. It is almost impossible to force them to sit down in one group and behave like one loving family. They are a bunch of energetic thought bunnies. Even with seven pairs of hands it would be hard to catch them all and not lose any of them thought bunnies.

But one kicking and screaming bunny is enough to feed my whole village.

In the end, I’ll wipe my greasy hands on my pants and lick my chops satisfied. That’s why they call people like me pantsers.


My Friend the Exclamation Point

PunctuationMy daughter hated first grade. She started out behind in reading, and the work required to catch her up made her miserable. She had extra reading homework every night, and she was pulled out of class every day to work with a tutor. Her teacher saw her reading skills improve dramatically and was happy with her success, but I saw the other side—the tears at night, the stomach aches in the morning, and the refusal to go into bookstores or libraries. Tina never made it to the Christmas break; I withdrew her from school. Continue reading