a hard remembering

Hampton III Gallery

 Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with  us. – Oscar Wilde

 Memory is the fourth dimension to any landscape. – Janet Fitch

November is a time for memories. Some are   easy and some are not. We gather around tables   or feel the tug of past meals in our guts. We repeat what we are grateful for and hear the faint echo of what we are not grateful for, that we would let fall away from us like leaves.

In this week’s group, we examined all of it. Some writers wrote about who they missed most or who they missed least. We talked through the scents and smells of our memories, how they all have the power to pull us back in time.

In the pieces below, you will read all these perspectives.


The rain, the start before the storm,
the high before the low,
the blue sky to the dark cries.

The nights you could not see my cries inside,
missing the nights we held each other tight,

the nights the drops fell from my face,
thinking about our last embrace,

the rain from the bright blue skies,
no longer is their hurt in my eyes.

No longer do I need your embrace.
The rain has done, erased.
LB Continue reading

our november


There is October in every November and there is November in every December! All seasons melted in each other’s life! ― Mehmet Murat ildan

I have come to regard November as the older, harder man’s October. I appreciate the early darkness and cooler temperatures. It puts my mind in a different place than October. It is a month for a quieter, slightly more subdued celebration of summer’s death as winter tightens its grip. – Henry Rollins

After a long conversation this fall concerning the personal and political, we have returned to more seasonal subjects, sharpening our writing skills by staying in the present moment, acutely describing what we see, and letting our minds flood with names and memories.

We read, “November for Beginners” by the indomitable and brilliant Rita Dove though, when it comes to November, no one in our circle this week is a beginner. We explored what we let the world call us and what we call this time. We discussed traditions and weather patterns and we taught each other new words for ice and whisper (rime, susurration).

In the pieces below, you will read true and personal accounts of names and seasons, each more personal than the next. Read all the way to the end and you will be rewarded by this week’s found poem – all our words woven together to leave our impression behind, a mirrored impression of what November has done for us.


My mother’s name is Dawn.
My father’s name is Larry.
My sister Megan was born in 1990.
I was born October 1991.
My father named me Katelyn
after his oldest brother Clayton.
My middle name Louise after my great grandma.
My daddy called me Weezy.
He would pick me up in his arms
and say, “Pop goes my Weezy.”
The smile was on his face
was the highlight of all my days,
‘til one day mom took me away.
I was so broken,
so much self-loathing,
a confused 7-year-old,
going through the emotions:
betrayal, abandonment, fear, loneliness.
What can I say? Daddy was my king
and I his princess.
Lord knows I loved him so very much.
He tried to be there for me.
Mom made things so difficult,
always putting me in the middle,
as my father faded from my life.
No one called me Weezy anymore.
And as I grew into my teenage self,
people took to calling me Katie in its place.
No one in high school really liked me.
I was angry all the time,
would be a bitch to guys.
I didn’t want to be bothered.
I just wanted to left alone to the sorrow inside
to drown in the pool of anger surrounding me.
I started cutting at age 16.
By 18 I was dating a guy who beat me
and cheated on me!
He called me Kate.
In now 26,
my father died when I was 19.
Suicide, my mother and I don’t really talk
and my sister and I grew apart.
My brother lives at home still at age 21.
I had a kid at 21,
didn’t want to be a mom.
The father of my kid was extremely boring,
so I left him for my ex
who I never got over to begin with.
He calls me Katelynn,
treats me like a woman.
I tied my soul to this man
when I was 24 years old.
He makes me better,
but here I am in trouble,
incarcerated for letting this anger control me.
I wonder if I’ll ever fully recover,
probably not.
All I can do is go on with life,
try to be better,
for my husband and child!

KS Continue reading

still i rise

Moonlit Inspirations – blogger

Keep your face to the sunshine
and you cannot see a shadow. – Helen Keller

Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

This week we read Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” It continues to be a powerful poem within our writing circle. Every time we read it, the power of the writing increases. We all get  bolder. That is the power of great poetry. In a single page, one listening, we are all just a little stronger than we were before. You will see in the pieces below.


In me, rises hope, happiness, and peace – to live long, laugh often, and love strong.

That what gives me the power to rise is Jesus, God, and Holy Spirit, my older daughter, granddaughter as well as music of any kind that moves my heart, soul, and body to point I cannot be brought down by anyone or anything.

We all have the power inside us to rise, we just have to tap into it.

[side note: Life is a herd of purple tunafish running through a field of green grass Naked.]



Sweet, fallen angel,
just like me, a fallen angel with no wings.
We live in a pain that cuts and burns deeper than
the cracks of Hades.
I thought together we would rise
from a past rooted in pain,
just like moons and suns.
Who cares if we’re fallen?
As long as we had each other
nothing seemed to matter.
With your bitter, twisted lies,
did you want to leave me broken?
Clawing out my eyes,
waterfalls of blood streaking down my face
like never-ending tears,
I fall to my knees to let out a scream,
but there is nothing left to feel.
Silence is all I hear,
so I stitch my lips up.
Now when I see you through these veils of blindness,
you cut me with those eyes,
kill me with your hatefulness.
As if it matters, there’s nothing left to me—
A soulless, empty zombie,
I’m nothing but a black ocean,
leaving behind nights of terrors and fears
buried within myself,
protected with an armor shield against you.
I’m a ghost!
Nothing, but a memory.

KS Continue reading

everyone needs a good story


 “expect sadness
 you expect rain.
 cleanse you.”
 ―Nayyirah Waheed

IF I WERE A PHOENIX – found poem 9.28.17

Lighting a flame within me, all-consuming
like a candle to a mirror, a dark burning,
every step is an agony against the hands
marked “Justice.” I may know the dance
of destruction and whispered venoms.
I know the ropes bites. A spiritual battle,
I say to myself: Free me from this cage,
toward a brighter future and the woman
I was meant to be. I thought I’d lost steam,
was long down and out. But I can feel
the sweetness of breaking surface.
I only have the faintest notion of what
I’ve done. I will make it through this alive.
I feel like I’m praying from the Earth’s beginnings.
The body I live in, the only light for miles.
The motivation: that you do not burn me,
but that I burn myself. Fine. I fill this vacancy
with light. With my last breath, I tell myself
to survive. – mr

We’ve been working for the past few weeks on the personal and political. As we attempt to let the two cross over one another, we realize that there is a point where we just want to tell our own story – to let the personal be personal and sort out how it links to others, to the body politic later on. Mostly though, we just wish to be heard.

In the poem above, a found poem written from the lines of CRCF writers and facilitators, we see a speaker settle into their identity as a phoenix. The burn and resurrection occurs without apology. The other night, the writers at CRCF told their own stories without apology. They wrote and answered one another by just listening. Here are those stories, that you may listen too.

The beautiful, extraordinary tired I have felt and known my whole life…

All started when I was a little girl. My parents got divorced when I was 2 which left me to live with my mom but visit at my dad’s every other weekend. I hated going to my dad’s because his new girlfriend and her 3 sons were so mean to me and my sister. Those boys, which become my stepbrothers, used to play pranks on my sister and I. I can specifically remember them lining up tacks outside my bedroom door so when I walked out of my room I stepped on them. Or like the day my dad finished making a tree house for us and boys took it over and kicked us out by throwing chairs down at us so we couldn’t climb up! I was soo tired of going there. THen we found out that my oldest stepbrother molested my sister. My mom took it to court and we could only visit my dad if it was at his mother’s house, my grammy! This was much better until he started drinking and leaving us at Grammy’s. Can you see the pattern already? I never really realized how young it started with me. Men always absent, violent, and/or addicted to something. So then, I got older and didn’t want to go to my grammy’s no more so I stopped going. During all this I began having boyfriends of my own that I thought at that time were serious relationships but now as I’m looking back on and writing about I can see that none of them were serious relationship nor were they healthy. Once again, more men that were controlling, addicted, and violent. I was so tired! Now I’m senior in high school, damn, graduating, and I was still searching for that man in my life. This is the time where I found myself with a guy who I was with for seven years. I had 2 children and a miscarriage with him. This is the asshole that got me addicted to drugs. This is the guy that hurt me sexually, physically, and emotionally. He’s the man that got me charges! At this point in my life, I didn’t think I could get any more tired than I already was. Next chapter in my life is when I met the man of my dreams! He is the father my kids needed and the man that I’d been searching for my entire life! We’ve been together for three years, got married last year, and we had a beautiful baby boy! He’s never hurt me and he takes care of me and our 3 children! And just when I didn’t think I could be anymore tired, we both got arrested and ended up here in jail.



I tell myself to survive with every breath,
behind these cold, cement bricks,
the cold metal and the anger.

I tell myself to survive with every breath,
the loss of being without my kids,
the days of not being the mother
they need and the stress.

I tell myself to survive with every breath.
It’s almost over. You have made it
almost 2 and a half years. You’re almost done.

I tell myself to survive with every breath.
The doors will open and you will
really leave. You will start a new
begin for yourself and your kids.

I tell myself to survive with every breath.





I love everything about fall,
the smell of cider and apple,
the brisk air of spices,
the fall fashion,
sounds of leaves crunching beneath my feet
as I run into the arms of someone I love.
Leaf-peeping, raking leaves
to watch my child jump in,
costumes of everything under the moon:
skeletons, ghouls, witches, vampires, bees,
bears, lions, crayons, princesses.
Halloween, the day you can be
anyone you want to be.
Forget the somebody you used to be!
Get tons of fun treats.
Don’t forget to stay safe.
Walk on the sidewalk and check all candy.
There are evils in the this world that are not
just Halloween fright.
Halloween, beautiful cabbage babies
born every year.
A time to just let go, be happy!



I dance through life. So many, many dances. A merry, vicious twirl, ear to ear, venom so sweet. Watch the dancers skitter like drops of mercury, messengers themselves. A reel, my own reaction, when life, the universe and everything is no longer 42, but inexplicably 35 or 87. A jig, gleefully exalting to join a new battle, to refuse, hell no, to sit down and be quiet. When my wish is up, oh yes, I dance. A tango, a slide and drag of a seductively pointed leg, and a dance, a teasing, tempting dance is all that’s ever going to be because I will never tolerate a partner who thinks he’ll be allowed to head anywhere besides the dance floor. A mambo, a shimmying cha-cha-cha, bright and bewitching, delighting in movement and my own sense of humor, absolutely disregarding the danceless peons. A bellydance, done in secret to keep up the practice, refusing to let the roll of my hips ossify, the rules of this place and my own rolls or fat to be damned.
And isn’t than more than half of it? Their rules and the remarkably stupid judgment of others try to prevent me from this universal gift of dance, try to keep me from the soulish feast, try to keep me from letting my poor imprisoned heart free for even a time.
The Big Apple, the Charleston, the Jitterbug, a Can-can…I want to kick up my heels and forget, for a time, that I am here and while I’m here my heels and all the rest of me is owned by the State of Vermont and the Department of corrections. I want to pretend – for just a three minute vacation from this ghastly reality – that my life isn’t uniforms and a miserable bunk and lights that never go off and endless, stupid, pointless rules. I want to pretend that it’s dark and brightly neon and gauzily curtained and smoke-filled and rain swept and incense-choked and bright lights over a formica country and checkerboard black and white asphalt tile floor. I want to pretend that my beau has a dime for the jukebox, that he has his sitar and I’ve every intention of seducing him, that he’s bellowing in the DJ’s ear to play my favorite song. I want to escape within the confines of my mind because it’s so much bigger on the inside, because inside I’m not inside these accursed cinderblock walls. I’m dancing.



weathered change

landscape images

Brisbane Art

  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for   today, and creates a vision for tomorrow – Melody   Beattie

  At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a   spark from another person. Each of us has cause to   think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted   the flame within us. – Albert Schweitzer

As we’ve continued to discuss the link between the personal and the political, our lives have also continued. We focused our writing attention on gratitude but also discussed the changes in all our lives and how writing and poetry helps us both mark and weather these changes, giving space for our identities to hold these changes and become them at the same time. It’s complicated. Most of the time, we say we’re freaking out. We can all handle more than we think. In pieces below communicate this both through their content and the overall strength of the writing.

I who have died am alive again today

My life is two parts.
I am two people
with two faces,
two hearts,
two souls,
two meanings,
past and present,
before and after.
Then and now…however you like to call it,
good and evil.
It really and truly was, and still is, a spiritual battle.

The past, the before , the then, the evil; still
creeps up and takes the leading role.
The claws of this entity dig deep and direct
my into darkness. It’s defeating and I cry out,
making it known. This is the part of me
I am not fond of these days. At one time
I didn’t mind so much, but I know now there’s
a whole different realm to be a part of. I don’t
have to exist in the darkness.
The present, the after, the now, the good…
this is where I thrive and I am most alive.
You have to understand it was in the darkness
that I have died. That part is gone, for the most part.
With that vacancy, I have filled with light, the most illuminating,
beautiful light. It does not dim. I does not go out.
This will guide my path from here on.
This will show me the way to something greater.
Let my spirit shine.
Let me live.



This is the birthday of life and love

finally being free from this cage
starting fresh with my kids and family.

This is the birthday of life and love

leaving everything in the past
pushing for a brighter future
letting go of the old and looking towards the new.

This is the birthday of life

the feeling of change and triumph

and love.

Time to be the woman I was meant to be.



Dark, burning, lighted the flame within me.
   A canker, a searing, raw, weeping sore
   curled tight and stubborn, shadowed changeling.
Dark, burning, opening my eyes to the flame.
   An acid, burning, corroding, etching passion
   all-consuming and desirous, villainy, and revenge.
Dark, burning, candle to my mirror’s dark.
   Confiscating, glittering, starry-eyed dream of the end,
   perpetual, inescapable companion, twin, twined, mate.
Dark, burning, flaming eyes wide.
   Truth, crucifixion carried daily, shows at 6 and 11,
   rivers run, red and clotted, fish-choking, floating, stench.
Dark, burning, burn it all and watch with glee,
   dance to destruction, partners change,
   blood, wine, and sacrifice, journey never ending.
Dark, burning, blister and char my skin.
   Penalty, penalty, every step an agony, endless litany
   of sin burned into mind and heart and skin.
Dark, burning, ashes and sparks fly free.
   A mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,
   soundlessly screamed by a voice already long gone.
Dark, burning, dervishes spread inferno and children.
   Whispered venom, poison pen, a Google search,
   no starting over, no second chance.
Dark, burning, eyelids seared away.
   Secret places, a room of my own, solitude
   ripped away with peace by hands marked, “Justice.”
Dark, burning, bring me to the stake.
   Make a martyr of one in my own mind
   though you and yours will call it well-earned.
Dark, burning, the ropes will bite.
   Hold me up, display me, my cart through town.
   throw refuse, scream. Sharpen the Guillotine.
Dark, burning, light the flame that burns me.
   This. This is your motivation. Not that you
   should burn me, but that I should burn myself.
Dark, burning, ashes, ashes, cinders, and soot.
   Nothing left, no spirit, no fire, no merry,
   pyromaniacal light in eyes gone dead.
Dark, burning, wind scours runnels in sodden ash.
   Echoes, footsteps, and voices giving voice to long
   dead echoes, the light will burn my eyes.