Comment on Writing

The first time I entered one of my poems for possible inclusion in an anthology, fear ensued. Would anyone think my poetry was worth reading? I had been writing poems occasionally since I was in my 20s. I had never referred to myself as a poet, of course. My mother had written a few poems in her life, as well, but never called herself a poet, either. I was following in her silent footsteps.

When three of my poems made the City of Oakland’s annual senior anthology, I was elated. Finally my work would see print. I could not attend that year’s awards presentation, but made it to the following year’s event as more of my work was subsequently accepted. Walking up on the stage and reading one of my poems gave my heart a flutter. I was not sure I could do it. I was not sure I could share my deepest feelings through poetry in front of a hundred or so strangers. But I did. The experience only emboldened me. I added “poet” to my business card.

I created a poetry blog — La Vue de rue Sleidan — and started sharing more poems online and in other anthologies. Thus far, my poetry has appeared in five different anthologies published by the City of Oakland and the Tri-Valley Writers’ Association in Pleasanton, CA. Now it is time to venture out on my own.

While my readers may not have seen much published on my blog in recent weeks, it is with good reason. I am organizing my work into a book of poetry all my own. Now and again, I will post a new poem or other idea on the blog. Many other poems remaining in the draft stage or even finalized will appear in my first book. I hope you will enjoy the book. Actually, there are two different poetry books I am working on — one having to do with grief and the other with love. I will keep my readers abreast of a publish date, hopefully later this year.

In addition to poetry, I am working on two other book projects: (1) an historical non-fiction detailing the life of Tom Davis of Butte, Montana, who served in 1941-1942 as president of Rotary International, and (2) a creative non-fiction on the failures of the California judicial system.

Fiction? Yes, I do write fiction. In one of the many journals sitting on a shelf in my house, there is a list of ideas numbering around 27 for fiction novels. I am wonderful at generating ideas and characters to match. I have written story after story, most of them unfinished. Why do my stories never have an ending? One of my goals is to write the endings.

I did write a short memoir entitled “The Grey Envelope” that appeared in a writers’ book by Julaina Kleist. The true story was one I had told countless times to friends and acquaintances. Finally the print version arrived.

For four years, I wrote a magazine column for the now defunct “Life on Foothill Road.” Another of my book projects is a compilation of all the magazine columns, each of which shares a short vignette about life. Meeting the publication deadlines for all those monthly columns gave me a reason to finish each story. Hurrah!

To those of you who read my posts routinely, I thank you. I also thank those who only stop by the blog now and then. I realize when there is nothing new to read, you might be disappointed. Know that my hands continue to draft new work that will some day be good enough to meet my publication standards. Please keep on reading.

Couples

Cup without a saucer
First name without a last
Activist without a handmade sign
Monkey without a banana to eat
Home without a state
State without a name
Hand without a finger
Nowhere is home
No place is mine
Where a heart resides in peace
Accepted by rulers
who prey upon strangers
and do not tolerate salt
without pepper.

—Victoria Emmons, © 2018

A Different Kind of Playground

Toes have lost all feeling.
Trigger finger feigns sleep
as night approaches for
the fourteenth time.
No relief.
We wait.
Wait for something new.
A stir under a bush,
light in a wet jungle
unwilling to relinquish
its charm,
hidden eyes revealed.
A faraway cough
threatens my dreams
of playgrounds and
laughing children.
A flash of fire
disrupts the cloud of
greenfinches bedding down.
All Hell awakens.

–Victoria Emmons, © 2018

Missing

A missing appendage
Makes it hard to type
Close a button
Pick up a dime

The departed pointer finger
Lost to a sharp buzz saw
Building hearth and home
To keep a family safe

Lost, but found, the finger tip
Still feels, still grows its own claw
Offers refuge for gnawing concerns
That cloud a hectic day

Gone, but not forgotten,
Memories reside in time
Within an absent piece of flesh
Imagined to be whole

Finger the missing edge
Feel it, love it, massage
Its invisible core
Until it reappears

Make it whole again
Make yourself whole
Resume your heartbeat
Nothing missing

–Victoria Emmons, copyright, 2017

Mostly Me

Frankly it was summer
and hot.
Air wouldn’t move
and fences were blocked
so no one could enter
even if you didn’t
want to go inside.

I did. I wanted to see
what his world had been like,
all hundred or more years of it.
There he was, a stone general
frozen in thought
astride a white mount
blackened by time.

The pressure
weighed upon him,
I am sure of it.
Please the family,
children need bread,
a new nation cannot breathe
without a leader.

Easy enough to live
on a peaceful farm,
ignore the critics
and haters,
ones who shame
into leadership
those who might win.

Oh, cousin, why did
we fight to defend
a way of life
gone for the ages,
too radical
for our time,
but not yours.

Conflict need come
to an end, they say,
no war between us
or remains of vast
valleys full of blood,
soldiers no more,
only crosses on a hill.

You watch from atop
your loyal stead
new soldiers who
never learned history,
nor learned from it,
mistakes made and
lives lost, teach anew.

They do not listen,
nor will they know
that you remain a leader
teaching lessons from your day,
remind them of wrongs
gone by, not wiped away,
remembered for a reason.

Dear cousin, show them
from your Traveler’s perch
so no one will forget,
that our battles
from home to home,
brother to brother
must surely end.

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

Weeping Redbud

Weep not for me, sweet redbud tree,
Thy leaves will take no chances
Each heart resides most playfully
Upon thy silken branches

Dangling in the wind they sing
Hearts ready for damnation
Search for love against the wind
And hope for procreation

Young ones be the shiniest
Deep ruby red reaction
Thus what creature dare resist
So lovely an attraction

Seeds strewn about with local help
Assures that love will grow
New heart-shaped leaves thus soon to sprout
Come melting winter snow

Wouldst that my own heart sing so loud
And dance to its own tune
While suitors called upon my door
In light of harvest moon

These ruby lips await the kiss
That stirs my dormant soul
Much as the weeping redbud waits
‘Til she achieves her goal

Be patient, she advises me,
Love grows at its own pace
The kindest words, a gentle touch
That make a red heart race

When redbud leaves remain too long
Their red begins to fade
In favor of a dulling green
That hides beneath the shade

Younger leaves retake the stage
Flash colors in the sun
As older ones accept their place
Their usefulness now done

Yet hidden behind a shady branch
Old lovers rekindle a flame
Dull green, a few new dents perhaps,
Still loving all the same

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

While visiting friends in North Carolina, I discovered a Weeping Redbud tree in the yard. The tree’s red, perfectly heart-shaped leaves fascinated me. Then I noticed the older leaves were solid green, having lost their brilliant, red color. It reminded me of the joy of finding love.