Sunday, March 29, 2015

Grammar comes out of the Closet

Ah. Spring cleaning. When we delve deep into the closet
where the old, the broken and the obsolete are stored.
Underneath those outgrown hockey skates, the defunct breadmaker and 8 dozen tangled power cords lies Grammar, gasping for air but still filled with gumption and conjunctions.

Can we rescue of this Branch of Knowledge that is often feared, frequently abused, and consistently misused?

First we ask, is Grammar even worth fighting for? What has Grammar done for us lately? And more importantly, will it involve diagramming a sentence?

Friends, let me point out that Grammar can be the bridge that unites the generations,
the silver cord that binds mother to son, father to daughter, Republican to Democrat,
the trunk of the Tree of Language where we develop fruitful communication.

In the very language of Grammar, excitement lurks beneath intransitive verbs and comma splices. Grammar, dear ones, is SO 21st century.
Here’s proof:

Where would 13-year-old girls be without exclamation points? The 2-year-old without question marks?  A parent without a ‘That is final. Period.’ Or a busy executive without a dash?  And how could the indecisive and forgetful survive without the ellipsis?
Don’t forget the resurgence of quotation marks “drawn” in air. Grammar flaunts them as the first “virtual” punctuation and brags that they are AKA  “air” or “finger” quotes.

Behold the riches that are contained in the language of grammar!
Passive and Active Voice resonate with every day care worker and dog trainer
Independent Clause: what American doesn’t cherish the word ‘independent’? It gets the patriotic blood a-boiling.
Possessives—a word the socialists among us can cling to. Or spit at.
Gender. You can’t live in the 21st century without running smack-dab into gender agreement.

Abstract nouns appeal to the philosopher, interrogatives ensure that all the police/courtroom dramas exude authority, politicians are forever subordinating (the other guy) or coordinating (themselves)
And no one understands mood better than that 13 year old girl and her 50-something mother.

Grammar isn’t obsolete or broken or superfluous. Take it out of the closet, polish it up and take it out for a spin. It’s the latest word in retro.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Incidental Poetry

by Deb Donahue

I'm not a poet.  In fact, I don't really like poetry that much.  I often don't get what it's trying to say.  Maybe it's me.  Maybe I don't read the right kind of poetry. I prefer writing and reading fiction, building a world that readers can visit and immerse themselves in, just like you might if you physically visited another place or time.

There have been moments, however, when poetry has seemed the best way to express what I'm feeling.  Usually this occurs when what I'm feeling is so intimate, so intense, that I can't really express it, exactly.  It's pure emotion, and the only words that tumble out of me arrange themselves in a form that I can only call poetry.

Most of these I keep to myself because they were written for me, not an audience, sort of like journal entries.  These two, however, written many years ago, seem to fit the season, so I thought I would share.  Are they poetry or just the detritus of the emotions I felt when I wrote them?  I don't know.  Maybe you can tell me.

Dedicate to God the majesty of the sky.
Praise him with ocean‑wide adoration.

The Lord's fragrance stirs the leaves,
Touches a cheek like fingers from the sky.
A shaft of sunlight reaches,
Settles in a pool of warmed grass.
Bathe in the heat of it, face uplifted.

A scudding of clouds frames the heavens,
The splayed lace of a tumbled surf
Tossed upon blue coral boulders.
With pure white radiance
Or as purple dusk‑formed silhouettes,
The spun sugar hovers across the sky.

A disappearing trace of lightening
Explodes soundlessly on a distant horizon.
Yet above, mother moon nestles
Among a spray of star children
Flung across the night sky.

Tears of blood
down his cheeks
raining from clouds
staining the sunset
on my cheeks
my breast
my heart. 

Deb Donahue can also be found at WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Amazon.

Friday, March 27, 2015

National Card and Letter Writing Month

By Robin Steinweg

In three days it will be April, National Card and Letter Writing Month. And why does it matter?

A handwritten or signed card makes a strong case for the sender’s feelings. The sender cared enough to take time to gather pen and paper or choose a card. They wrote in their own hand—attached a stamp—and addressed the envelope. Not machine generated, but personalized.

This month my father-in-law passed away. Great comfort and healing took place as our family opened and read words of compassion and sympathy or memories of Dad. We learned things about him we’d never heard from his mouth. Good things. Mom died when we were barely out of college, so a lot of it was new to us. Those things become precious family heirlooms.

You might hesitate because you feel self-conscious about poor penmanship. Please don’t let that stop you. Granted, we appreciated when the writing was readable. But as long as we could pick out what was written, we never judged the style. They could print the whole thing, we didn’t care. (Dad himself used to type a short message or a poem on paper, cut it to size and tape or glue it to a card.) Some who brought food to the luncheon or who sent memorial gifts even slapped on a return address label—so helpful to us for writing thank yous! But it was the taking of time that meant so much.

Let’s not lose the art of personal communication. I Write This Letter to You

The joy of seeing a loved one’s loopy or scrawled hand on an envelope—the smile that broadens the face of the recipient from mailbox to favorite chair…

 How many cards or letters will you take the time to write this National Card and Letter Writing Month—and beyond?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Giving All to Prepare for Easter

Easter is almost upon us, that time when we celebrate that the salvation of the world has been accomplished and Christ has triumphantly risen. The book “Ten Days to an Empty Tomb” walks us through the last ten days of Jesus life as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. It explores those teaching moments and turning points through the perspective of verse and makes a good choice for a fresh look at Jesus and yourself this Easter Season.

Before Easter can be fully embraced, we must make God the center, the Lord of our lives. We must put Him first, we must give our all as this encounter between Jesus and the rich, young ruler reveals.


Fine linen billowed in the soft, warm breeze
as the rich young ruler fell to his knees.
“Jesus, you are perfectly good!
If I knew how, I certainly would
do anything to secure heaven’s treasure.
Please, tell me how,
the precise weight or measure.
I’ve watched little children be blessed by you.
If such enter heaven, what should I do?
I’m no longer a child, but I have obeyed
every law, each command
from little boy days.
If the innocent are assured
of their places in glory,
shouldn’t I have the same end
to my life’s story?”
“God only is perfectly good.
Do you accept that I AM?”
(The rich man nodded he would.)
“You’ve done well on your own,
but it isn’t enough.
Come follow me and sell all your stuff.
Give it away to benefit the poor.
Put God first to gain heaven’s rich store.”
With saddened expression
the man rose to explain
how his position, his wealth,
and his family’s good name
must be preserved, it was his duty, his lot.
He’d keep God’s commands
and have faith as a tot,
but he wouldn’t—he couldn’t—
sell all that he owned
and live like a gypsy
without hearth or home.
“It’s harder for the rich
to enter the kingdom of God,
than a camel to push
through a slit in a rod.
It’s harder for them to surrender
without wheedle
than for coarse camel hair
to thread a fine needle.”
We disciples were shocked
and said to each other,
“Who then can get in?
Who’d chance to bother?
Aren’t riches promised
to those who don’t waver?
Doesn’t Jehovah bestow wealth
on those who find favor?”
Puzzled, we finally
worked up nerve to ask.
“God places the meek over all;
those grasping for first shall be last.”

Mary Allen, has authored numerous articles and three books of poems, “Journey to Christmas”, "Ten Days to an Empty Tomb", and “Full Spectrum Living”. She also contributed stories of personal real life miracles to “Kernels of Hope”. Allen was named La Porte County Poet Laureate 2010-2011. Her first contemporary fiction, “A Love Most Gentle” is due for release.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Recurring Dream

In the Halls

Thirty years afterward
in the halls of high school
hunting for my schedule
searching for the room
arriving late to class

Poem by Lori Lipsky, from Recurring Dream Series
photo: istockphoto/janniswerner


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