Poem: this is somehow sad and beautiful

Photograph by Aleathia Drehmer

This is somehow sad and beautiful

I realized no one has missed me
or my words as I faded from the poetry scene
silently as I arrived.
                No one noticed I was gone
                no one knocking at my door
                  or requesting anything of me.

I had settled into my life before
where poems rushed out
because I would die if they stayed;
                no longer writing to be seen
                  or heard, after so many years of invisibility.

I miss them sometimes,
the writers and the connection
and the sense I belonged
to something greater than myself.

Most of them are in the same place I left them,
huddled in a café reading or putting out meager books.
                No one has made it
                    like we all dreamed we would.

Book Review: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Photo from James Clear website

I suppose I am late to this pandemic party in a sense. Being a nurse has had me on the front lines the whole time. Shelter in place happened only four days a week for me and then I was at work the other three. I maintained a partial normalcy as far as that was concerned. All my social outlets were changed, but I was still leaving the house.

Living in New York State has had its advantages. Our Governor locked down the state rather quickly to help decrease the spread and we opened much slower than any other place. Despite this, I am starting to see increased cases in our rural community because many people don’t feel the threat is real. They walk the streets without their masks on because they don’t want to ruin their makeup or they are too cool or they just don’t care. Meanwhile, I have so many people that I worry about who could catch this virus and die.

What does all of this have to do with James Clear’s Atomic Habits? I thought you’d never ask. At this stage of the pandemic game I have lost my usual habits. Time has become strange and marked only by the days I work and Tuesday when I have my group meeting online. I started to lose interest in the things that bring me joy. I lost my schedule basically.

I am also dealing with a teenager who we discovered recently is high functioning ASD but has a hard time making routines and doing things they liked before due to focus issues and some changing health issues. When scrolling through the available audio books at my library, Atomic Habits popped up and as it is only a five hour listen, I thought I could squeeze it in.

This served two functions. I could learn how micro changes effect your habits and it has me back into audio books which had dropped off my radar during the height of the pandemic because I was no longer driving long distances to work and I couldn’t concentrate.

The book is full of very simple and helpful tips on how to build good habits and he has several different ways you can achieve these things depending on the type of learner you are. The rules are very simple and easy to manage. I did find the book a bit over plugged. After each helpful thing he announced you could find it on his website and then listed it. It was repetitive and clearly a marketing strategy which I know works. Kudos to him, but it didn’t get by me.

There are a lot of helpful resources on his book page that could steer you in the direction you need if you are having problems keeping up with your good habits or trying to build new ones. It was worth the listen or read, whatever you’re into.

Publishing Updates

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

I don’t have any official links to share with you at this time, but I would like to put a bug in your ear about upcoming publications I will appear in.

My poem “You Don’t Get to Win This Time” will appear in the inaugural edition of Misfit Quill.

My poems “The Language of Flowers” and “The Night Tiger” will appear in the inaugural edition of The Last Day of the Year Poetry.

My poems “The Fine Line” and “Filthy,” as well as my short story “Rancid Meat Fingers” will appear in the inaugural edition of Rogue Wolf Press. I will also have several photographs in that publication.

I will be sure to do official postings once all of these are live. Support small press and small press writers. We all want to swim in the big pond someday.

Writing: Knowing When to Step Back

This is my note wall which houses editing ideas for my first novel, The Secrets of Womanhood. It also has filled in with ideas for my second novel, The Hunted & The Hidden. What you can’t see to the right is another wall full of sticky notes for all the other projects I currently have my fingers in.

Let’s just say it is all a bit overwhelming.

I finished the first draft of my novel The Secrets of Womanhood on March 31, 2020. This novel was over ten years in the making. It was something I pulled out every year, added a few lines, felt discouraged and put away. Last year when I started going to a writer’s group, I began working on it in earnest. The problem with this novel was that in its first draft is more fictionalized autobiography than fiction. The story arc isn’t where it should be. The characters under developed because of one personal issue or another.

By the time I started the second draft, I was no more sure of what I needed to do to make it better. The pandemic was in full swing and I used this time to write a collection of poetry with a friend, I took poetry workshops online, and I proposed a fresh novel idea to my small writing group. The proposal went well, and it fell into a brainstorming session that set me on fire.

For seven weeks, I wrote a chapter a week. Sometimes a chapter in two days if that was all the time I had with a busy summer schedule of work, new kittens, and disc golf. This week I hit a plateau in my desire to produce anything. I think my over productive tendencies have finally caught up with me in the worst way. I spread myself too thin, and now I lack the momentum to get going again.

Much of the problem comes from not wanting to be a disappointment. I love my small writing group because they elevate my writing and they are two tough cookies with editing. They don’t let me get away with anything. We are brutal with each other and then also caring and tender.

(Shhhhh, don’t tell Jerry I said that. He hates feelings.)

Another part is I think the pandemic is finally taking its toll on me. I can do more social things, but not the social things I want to do. It has taken me a long time to curate friendships and I miss the human connection and the freedom to connect that we had before all of this started. We are all staying safe, but it makes me feel lonely sometimes. I find it very difficult to produce enjoyable work when this happens.

Today, I passed out on the couch for an afternoon nap. I rarely allow myself to “waste” free time, but the air was cool in front of the fan and I had a kitten curled up behind my knees. The sky was brilliant blue with cotton candy clouds. The recipe was right for recharging. It is hard to recognize in this age of instant gratification, perfection, over-production that we all need to slow down and take a break. Re-cooperation is what drives meaningful work. Go ahead, give yourself a free pass. You deserve it.

Collaboration: Poetry and Art

It’s no big surprise that my pace for posting has slowed down because in the last few months I’ve had the incredible opportunity to fall in love. Gasp. I know. I had written it off, to be honest. So many failed attempts made it harder to see hope. The interesting thing is that I wasn’t looking for love. I had gotten right with myself about being alone for the rest of my life. I figured if my grandmother could do it, so could I. She was one of the strongest, kindest ladies I ever had the pleasure of knowing and loving.

In a previous post back in April, I am sure I mentioned that I was doing something new for poetry month. I collaborated with another poet by using their overall theme and then their daily prompts. It took me exactly 27 days to fall in love with him. Romantic and silly, right? That about sums me up, anyway. When the month of poetry was over, we decided that we weren’t ready to let go.

Each day has been an adventure. We write poems separately now and I continue to work on both of my novels. We inspire each other to write better, to reach farther, to try new avenues. This is the best part of collaboration. Along with all of this, we have taken to writing each other love letters which we send the old-fashioned way through the mail.

This spawned a poem by him about a 4th century Prince and Princess. He asked me to write the second part of this series. It was a bit of a reach for me, but I did it. As something special, I had sewn, quilted, and beaded a piece to go with the poem. His work inspired my work. I can’t wait to see where it all goes.

Here is my poem in the series:

Amor Aeternus, PT. 2

The season pass so slowly
it hurts to breathe
as I sit by the window
waiting for my prince to return.

The memory of his gentle fingertips
trailing the edge of my cheek,
the way his eyes pleaded forgiveness
as he left the castle, haunts me still.

At night, sleep eludes me, calls up my ghosts
as I walk the cold stones to the tower.
I call out to the moon, tracing the sky
and it’s barely visible constellations.

With the sunrise on my face
I yawn like a cat soaking in the rays.
We share seemingly different worlds
and I pretend the warmth of his body covers mine.

The strength in his eyes carries me through
the days, follow me in every shadow.
The damp fog raises the imprint
of his kisses upon my neck.

I’m filled with longing, a deep impatience
though there is nothing to be done.
There is no salve to cure my heart,
no way to close the distance.

The kingdom grows restless in his absence
as they look to me for guidance.
My leadership half-hearted 
and I feel the wolves closing in.

I stare at the horizon for his hopeful return,
the chair an uncomfortable punishment
as I stitch another patchwork with nimble hands.
They automatically flesh our hearts into the fabric.

Oh eternal love, come back to me,
I whisper into the wind, hopeful
my words will find his ear
and bring his safe return.

Aleathia Drehmer 2020

Micro-Fiction: The Love Child of H.G. Wells

Photograph by Aleathia Drehmer

Time moves slowly in the desert propelling me at half the speed of light without stealing the memory of time travel from my sun-bleached gray matter. In my state of disillusionment, I find my cold body in the same place I left it; my brain having traversed the expanse of a million years of untouchable land coveting layers of history I shall never have access to. I have to live with this knowledge tucked behind the soft curves of my ears, always whispering at high decibels absorbed by silence.

Ideas: The Untapped Potential of Dreams

Photograph by Aleathia Drehmer

I have had a lifetime of powerful dreams. Many of these I can still remember in detail from twenty or more years ago. There was a time in my life where this ability was heightened and my recall fantastic. If I look back on these times it is usually when I am under great emotional duress.

Recently, I have not been under such stress and the dreams fade away without being remembered. The ones I do remember I interpret as I believe our own minds do try to tell us things. This isn’t a post about dream interpretation though, it’s about how some of those fantastical things can be turned into short stories! Think of the potential.

I’m going to share a dream from June of 2017 which was a very hard time for me. This will eventually become a short story along with the others. Maybe it will be a book of short stories. The world is wide open.

The Dream (6-8-2017)

In the dream I am standing in a parking lot without cars in the company of unknown people and I look around for someone I know. I don’t see anyone so I go to the side of the lot and start to do yoga. I feel like I am waiting for someone. The parking lot is near the ocean and I can see the sand. I stop doing yoga and go over to the beach and feel the sand under my bare feet. I can see a storm coming in the distance. The sky is dark and grey. I am standing alone. I hear people screaming and feel wind on my back. I turn around to see a tornado coming. People are running. I run from the beach to a long wooden bridge like a boardwalk or dock towards a group of houses. I am running with other people to warn others about the tornado. We run to the end of the boardwalk and there is a house. There are several people who tell me to go down into the basement via a ladder. They tell me when I get down there to move the ice around to make feathers. In the basement, it is a small room like a bunker with a chair and a bed that is made. I move the soft ice around with my foot and make patterns. It is not cold on my bare feet. We stood there for a while with no one talking. There is a dim light in the corner. Someone opens the hatch again and says we can come out. I do not remember climbing the ladder out.

When I am out of the basement, the storm is still going on and I can see two tornadoes. I walk down the boardwalk this time in no hurry. There is a car there which has my clothes in it and I am only half dressed after coming out of the basement bunker so I grab some clothes. I look tattered and disheveled. When we are walking I see a large wooden fence to my right and hear the wind loudly. I feel the wind pushing me from behind and I am watching green trees sway in the wind. We keep walking and on the boardwalk a man who is next to me wants to buy food from a man on the side of the boardwalk. The seller is standing under a white tent. I crouch down to look at what he is selling and it is hot dogs and some other meat. The man next to me grabs handfuls of meat and gives the man money. I buy nothing. I stand up and watch the man walk away with the meat.

Poem: I Never Finished The Green Hills of Africa

Many years ago I got into writing different types of formed poetry. I have always been a free verse sort of girl, but have appreciated what it takes to write in meter or form. This poem is a Sestina. I cannot validate how well crafted it is, but it was fun to write.

The joy of writing for me is the challenge to push myself past the comfort zone. I learn so much about myself when I do this. I gain perspective and open up my mind to being more accepting of different types of writing that I might not be familiar with. This is one of five or six Sestina that I wrote. My process is putting out a call for words and then taking some of them to create the poem. This makes it adventurous. Enjoy.

Photo credit to Ike Jakson

He moved slowly and purposefully through splintered
feelings.  His heart pumping around the protruding tusk
impaled in his chest.  It sang deeply of moon.
It pulsated and vibrated more intensely than the alabaster
skin of her thighs.  How he wanted to blanket
his body with her; how he wanted to shovel

his way to her voice again.  He knelt down, hands forming a shovel
and began digging earth, his mind splintered
into left brain and right with no meninges blanket
to force them to work together.  He felt the tusk
burrow deeper with each movement, its girth of stained alabaster
shining like an iridescent beacon screaming at the moon.

“Burn, burn, burn!!” shouted the wicked moon.
Her rays laser beaming the flesh built shovel.
“I will not let you spoil her alabaster
soul again.  I will not,” said the high, tight voice.  His ears splintered
into a million fragments of universe on the ruined tusk,
laying dimensions of sound over the dirt like a sonic blanket.

It was all so invisible, her hatred, this blanket.
He pawed at it on the sparkled ground moon
forming in the lake of blood dripping from the tusk.
He never meant to lay his hands on that shovel,
never meant to enjoy the wood as it splintered
beneath his palms, as it cracked her alabaster

skull with resonance.  She breathed untouched alabaster
no more; she was damaged.  He had done it and now this blanket
of silence suffocated him as the night cursed him in splintered
tongues.  He stood a devil redeemed under the moon.
The spade lay there detached,  a broken tool, a shovel
no more.  His head hung there now noticing the tusk.

She had closed in on him like lust, arms behind her, gripping the tusk
her daddy had killed for in Africa, its gypsum alabaster
shine his recollection to her beauty that could shovel
away a mountain as easy as folding a blanket.
She had kissed his lips in front of the testament of the moon
and punctured his faith with the ivory.  He was splintered

morbidly by the pointed tusk.  Her lies, an evil blanket
all along—alabaster lies forged deep in hatred by the moon!
He lay his broken hand/shovel down, now numb and splintered.

Micro Fiction: Bones of a Friend

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

Bones of a Friend

The bones feel disconnected in his hands; they feel limp like a sleeping infant.  Barnabus is almost afraid to peel back the silken edges, afraid of what he might find though the linear part of his brain knows very well what he will see. They gleam against the blanket, against the succulent soil in mounds. 

Poem: Thomas Jones, A Wall in Naples, 1782

Painting by Thomas Jones, A Wall in Naples, 1782.

Thomas Jones
A Wall in Naples, 1782

One long white stocking
hangs from the balcony
swinging its toes, brushing
the tree tops, brushing against
the murderous beige wall.

Bricks birth through the stucco,
holes left from weather
and persistent birds
each perforating the sanctuary
of the stocking’s owner.

I wait for her to push through the door.
I wait for the window to throw its sash.
I wait for the sun to cease its brutal pummeling.

I wait for the stars
to give me a taste
of silk in my mouth,
silk tearing
against my teeth.