Okay, since I am a TMI Texas girl, I’m sharing something here. Most know me from social media, and know about my journey over the past 14 years (more if you count drama from childhood until this point). It’s been a battle, life is a battle at times. Alcoholism, mental health, CHD-heart disease in a child, abuse, and so much more crap I cannot even begin in this post. Poetry in a way has been a way for me to express myself. I also paint, sculpt, complain, yep I said that, and love just as passionate, it’s me.

I found out I have diabetes last October and it was a do or die situation with my weight gain. I’m not going to blame anyone else but me. I worked as a chef and binged on alcohol after my daughters death. It’s time to move on…(you never move on from grief, just an expression).

So here is my first entry into a new lifestyle, a major one that took me four years to decide, and I’m going to do it November 19, 2014, bypass surgery. I will post once a month until I lose the weight. I’m also doing a workshop, for writers and poets in April 2015, at Classics Rare and Used Bookstore & Gifts (4 Lafayette and Warren Street) as well, so here’s to getting in shape!

Inspiration Pops

October 22, 2014

I need to work on more drafts, because I just got a invitational call for submission from a well respected journal. I need to write more, but even tonight I’m distracted by my son’s excitement for an upcoming trip to Peru in 2015, and jabber in the kitchen about beer from my two men. Sigh.  But I try to slip in the muse when I can.

The title is not set in stone, it came from nowhere like a lot of poetry does, and I like where it is going…

 

Uncomfortable, Before And After

Opening up a book a friend handed me
I listened as she awkwardly said her mother
meant for me to have it.
She followed my posts (stalking grandmother?)
and was responsible for considering books
in her day job.
It was assumed I would enjoy the content.

Memoir caught my attention. Not the chubby girl
on the beach, it didn’t quite reach my consciousness.
My own journey of sharing overshadowed
the stirring of a writer’s mind.

Everyone has a story, a face—chubby, skinny,
hallow, broken, sad, happy, aging, and gone.
The body comes in all shapes and sizes, even the mind.
Economic, mid-size, to luxury models.
And all in our own individual colors—no duplicates.

I appreciated the thought of self-help on the friends’ part.
But what most don’t realize (excuse me for this judgmental blurb),
is it’s not just about pushing the plate away.
“What I cannot remember, however, is the decision I made
To eat the whole (birthday) cake”—It Was Me All Along, pg. 1.
Myself, I was born a bean pole.
Most of my life was eating my weight in food, and never gaining a pound.
Until I had my own children, it happens.

Like my Dad’s metabolism, the idea of food did not scare me. My mom,
however, was born chunky, and went to her grave morbid obese. She
was an emotional eater, and it showed throughout my childhood.
We all ate our plates clean.
Her mother was overweight, what they once called healthy. Her sister was,
and their children did not hang, all skin-and-bones.

Lanky, stalks me, like an empty corn field in October.
Rain falling, collecting in the grooves of the dirt.
Mud forms in the cold, full of minerals and nourishing elements.
I drive past them all, each day; each hint of wheat color remainders,
broken off at the beginning of its growth, jagged reminders
growing smaller in the rear view mirror.
The window wipers grind, back and forth in unison,
clearing yellow, orange and browns, remaining greenish,
a few crumbling edges break away.
They fell and drop with seasonal showers—debris clears.
Every day we cannot experience warm and fuzzy.

I haven’t been on Amazon.com too much, outside of looking for links to books, but I found this gem of a review for my own book. And how wonderful this one is. I am going to seek these people out and hire them to write reviews for Red Dashboard Publishing…

Before you go to Texas, do yourself a f(l)avor and read Stelling’s debut poetry collection, My South by Southwest. In this book she doesn’t mince words but barbecues them till they’re glazed and bubbling off the page.

On the surface, this is a poetry collection about Texas but it’s only the backdrop in which Stelling paints her portraits. She takes the landscape and brings it to life with her unparalleled voice for capturing the world around her. She employs the landscapes tastes, music, history, and language and weaves it into her poems. Her skies are denim-blue; her barbecue is cooking up ribs, steaks, pulled pork and shrimp, and her men have six shooters and tin stars.

She takes the simple and not so simple joys of the human experience and spins it like a coin leaving you wondering if you’re going to land on you A$$ or fall on your face.

The collection is an intimate look at her upbringing, recollecting emotional moments in unusual ways. She retells the stories of her youth, her family, and how the landscape connects and changes her into the woman she is today. In “Cowtown, Texas, 1975” she writes a poem about first love that ends with:

Does she know you plan to break others like us –
leading each one out to pasture
to chew on your words?

“Hearing the N Word in 1966” is a powerful poem about a girl bringing home a colored friend to play and her momma stopping it from happening. The poem ends with the child growing up and finding out her paternal grandparents were Native and African American and had fallen in love in the Alabama tobacco fields. The poem ends perfectly with:

Now that was something calling, many
years back from the dead,
their own kettle black.

Stelling is able to take something as simple as finger sucking as a toddler and turn it into “There’s a New Sherriff In Town”. Her finger sucking becomes the barrel of a smoking gun that her family tries to break with hot sauce and other ‘gross’ stuff. In the end the toddler wins with:

I packed up my rocking-horse and
Its shiny new black saddle
And headed into deep
(under the) cover.

Stelling writes openly in a witty and intelligent style. Her poems are narrative driven and confessional. She lets us see, feel, hear, smell and taste the landscape and even lets us laugh at it. Stelling shows us that poetry is from every place: the heart, the head, the hand, and by God–from Texas too!

Another one mentions ‘Not exactly Cowboy Poetry, but definitely cowboy culture.’, and I know that. But most who’ve met me in the past have actually asked if I ride a horse and where are your boots and hat? Just like I assumed everyone in New York weren’t friend, and New Jersey people were all ganstas, it’s all good, right?

I was talking with another poet friend, “you know reviews”, they are poetry. I might have to publish a book of reviews just to prove that point!

Four poems in one evening, wow, I’m happy…

Brass Knobs Were The Gateway Drug

to tin-can peaches.
Ask any soldier who shipped out east,
rucksack butter cookies and backwoods nip.
He’ll remember, recall the yonder,
before smoke stacks and insulin,
long before litter showed its ugly.
When mother’s sweetened the kiss, his lips;
made a way, a harder path for true love,
and another story all together.
A way to a man’s heart…
Peace or piece,
it’s all cut the same—
a wedge will only entice the hungry,
and an addict reveals no shame.

Tin cans have been bopping and clattering about in my head since I read something about them in my Mystic West book and studies…twice in two poem drafts they clatter and follow…

Mystery in Poetry

September 15, 2014

church

 

I go back and forth on what good poetry is. I prefer story-telling over one or two words on each line, most often flowing down into a long kite tail of mystery. Mystery poetry is speaking in short word lines, only the writer knows what they meant. I’ve gone and made my self believe we need full sentences to make sense.

I’ve also learned, taught myself, that poetry is better if nibbled, take a breathe in between bites, nibble some more, and then digest it over time, it has helped. Sure, I heard it from others, more experienced poets, MFA poets, and well respected performance poets who just happen to have been Laureates and won awards. It really does work, like reading your work after you write it, to check for errors and sense.

Here is a mystery poem draft for you…

If You Can’t Take The Heat

get on off the your high horse,
and let ’er ride.
Most days, I’m on a spit.
Aren’t we all?
Rip roarin’, shoved up my…,
and yes, it hurts, a lot.
There’s no testin’ it before hand;

no higher power roped the wrong steed,
it’s just a ride, a long damned one at that.
How I ended up in the driver’s seat,
beats the heck outta me;

I liked it better in 1966,
when I sat behind Daddy.
He knew where he was goin’,
he most likely knew a destination,
and if anything looked good
before we arrived, we’d stop.
It was more of a feelin’,
and an ‘it’s all good’ experience.

Now-a-days nothin’ makes sense.
The ridin’, the ropin’, the meat—
of it all.
I tried to guide my own son,
show him the way of the land,
a few rules of respect,
and shortcuts, which we all use.
But he does it his own way.
My Son, he’s the driver now.

Most of us only have
a one way ticket—outta here.
No one asked for it;
it was waitin’ when we arrived,
when you woke up from the thrill.
I’m just happy I got to witness
the riders before,
the riders after,
and now I’m callin’ shotgun.

Mystery, or no mystery, most will get the meaning, or make it their own. That’s what goes into poetry, what’s inside of us. When we read poetry, we make it our own. If we don’t get it, then it’s still a strangers words, and that’s okay too.

What the heck am I doing here? Who knows, who cares, sometimes we just like the sound of our own voice…now that’s poetry!

What’s mystery poetry mean to you? Let us into your head, now that you got into mine…

EAS

Lizabeth& Smokey 2

 

 

To be honest, I cringe everytime I read rhyming poetry. Then I realize it gets down to more than the abab aabb cdcd types of word rhyming, it’s the cheesy topics and deep feelings splattered on the page. But I do respect all forms of poetry. I have to, otherwise how can I expect others to take my own new form of story prose poems seriously.

I decided to attend a cowboy poet festival, a celebration of The National Day of the Cowboy event down in Texas. An excuse to return home for some friendly companionship and food I cannot get in New Jersey. And did I mention my own book needed some down home attention?

My company Red Dashboard LLC Publishing has published quite a few cowboy poets on Cowboy Poetry Press, so it was time I dig my boots into what makes this such a popular poetry form in the Southwest. Where did ‘The Cowboy Way’ lifestyle start and find its way into the written form.

I arrived in Dallas and picked up my little sister, Mary. After careful planning we packed up my rental car and headed 2 hours Southeast. The drive alone reignited my love for the state. I am still thinking about the stops we didn’t make, good photo opps. Dagnabbit! There is always next time!

I had to arrive no later than 3 pm, my author Smokey Culver (pictured with me above) had a 5 o’clock radio interview on KWBY out of Stephenville, and a meeting with a poetry local, Elaine Shields, who had set up the interview/reading.

It was getting hot. I was determined not to be a tenderfoot, I would endure. Thank goodness for A/C and hotels. My sister and I sang, made cell phone videos for FB, and got ourselves gussied up for the newbies. We had  great time, and plenty of great laughs.

I read a few of my poems on the air, we attended a meet-and-greet in Hico, and had chicken fried steak and okra at an old eatery. All good. Unfortunately the next day the turn out for the event wasn’t great, but it was great fun to hang with so many cowfolk. Why even one of our CPP authors, Leroy Trussell drove over from Marble Falls, Texas to meet me and Smokey. I was a bonified celebrity now.

What did I learn about Cowboy Poetry during this visit? Would I feel a closer connection to something I had decided to publish? There is a large market for it. Yes, I could get into it. Study it more closely, and maybe help those who wanted to write it, felt they did, bring them closer to their dreams. Why not. I’m a permanent student of life and poetry, so yes, why not?

A Peaceful Disturbance

Laying in the quiet darkness
of a good book and the living room
I hear a splat in the kitchen.
From around the doorway comes
a husband eating a banana.

He offers it up to my lips, ragged
edges brush, and I ask for a whiff.
Eating these thick and fibrous
fruit are not recommended
so late in the afternoon.

A lover brings his fruit close
almost touching my nose,
I sniff and take in its aroma.
It is one of my favorite flavors,
like love making, early mornings.

He dares me to playfully take it.
Into my mouth it goes
deep, deeper, and then I bite.
Only a small piece of the end, I smile.
Chewing, killing silence, with laughter.

I had just read a poem by a new author, his book sent via snail mail and he had written about something else, a different direction I was going with the draft above…

Laying in the quiet darkness
of a good book and the living room
I hear a splat in the kitchen.
From around the doorway comes
a husband eating a banana.

The peel would lay alone
for days, maybe a month
and begin turning slippery,
black and waiting;
for someone to fall into dangerous

disarray on my tile floor.
So I left my comfort zone
and on the way in my big toe
was caught in the carpet,
ripping my big toenail.

Painfully it flew off only
to land near the trash can.
Limping I returned to solace 
and waited for my son’s return.
Irritated at my request for help

he placed it and the yellow present
into the waste basket near the door.
Muttering as more were cleaned
laid to rest together,
it became a mothers compost urn.

I have to work on it, but I love reading others work and being inspired…

1st Annual Red Dashboard LLC Publishing

July 29th, 6:30-9 PM (food and beverage available for purchase)

Poets & Writers Reading and Gathering

1st Annual Red Dashboard LLC Publishing Reading

The Dream Cafe (in back)

5100 Belt Line Rd

Ste 208

Dallas, Texas 75254

Post on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/1433270026960041/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Whether you are one of our authors or just a writer looking for a venue to share your work, you’re welcome to join us!

I will be in town for a week attending the Hico, Texas gathering on the weekend to support a few of our authors and to promote my own book, My South By Southwest: …Recollection, and will be hosting the above event the next Tuesday, July 29th.

Hope to see y’all there!

E

Elizabeth Akin Stelling, Managing Editor/Educator, Red Dashboard LLC Publishing

Another Acceptance

July 12, 2014

Accepting ourselves is hard most of the time, but waiting on others to accept us, well, our work, it can be grueling. One might forget who they were waiting for…

I’m not sure why it took them so long to email me, but Literary Mama accepted a poem I wrote in the spring 2013, maybe sooner, I really do not remember. I often wonder if I should date my work. It was also an early draft. Poets get antsy and submit before the work is ready to speak. So Surprise! It spoke to someone.

It is due to go up March, 2015- seems like a long way off, but I’ll take it.

The title changed though, and the format, it was ‘Any Given Day’, and now it is ‘Paths That Carry Familiarity’. It appears in my new book, My South By Southwest: …Recollection.

Out of respect for the magazine I will not post the piece, either form, but it was about a moment I had forgotten in the past and a flashing light had it flooding back…

Who else is going to do this stuff for us writers?

I got a message about a review out of Philly, and here it is!

My South By Southwest: …Recollection review by Fox Chase Review

If you have not bought my book yet, but want it signed…all you have to do is ask!

It is on Amazon…

Plus, I’m going to Hico, Texas July 25-27th for National Day of the Cowboy; will be some roping (no roping), music, hell raising (Tex-mex eatin’), and lots of poetry reading. Y’all come on down now!

Details here:

National Day of the Cowboy in Hico, Texas

And

National Day of the Cowboy website 

1900sYoungCowboy