Dear Ex-Husband by Tara McNamara This poem was published in the Write Angles Journal's October 29, 2016 issue (link)
Although we are still legally married, I am writing to inform you that, Regretfully I will no longer be available to you.
I must gracefully decline your offer Of employment as dishwasher and sock folder. Also, general household maintenance and personal chef, I will not be around to fulfill.
As the benefits that were previously arranged You have failed to provide (see marriage vows).
As for accounting services, You may decide to pay your own bills online, And I do not have your email account password. I believe you can locate it under gojumpoffacliffyoulazys**. com.
In other words, my employment Under the umbrella of “housewife” has expired and No further action on your part is needed.
I am providing this notice to you Because you seem to have forgotten That I left this position last year.
If you are still having trouble filling it, I suggest you take out an ad in the back pages. They do excellent work. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.
With the utmost regards, Me
Anam Cara* By Katie T.
I’m staring at this phrase, “Anam Cara,” and so many emotions are coming up. I have always been extrememly drawn to my Gaelic heritage; I’ve always wanted to know more. I’ve never been able to engulf myself; for some reason I’ve felt inadequate- maybe from the small percentage of me that is French Canadian. It makes me feel like a mutt. But I’ve taken the opportunities to learn what I could: step classes, history classes, trips to Ireland. One thing that’s always scared me was learning Gaelic. “It’s a dying language,” was the rationale I used when I talked myself out of signing up for classes. One would think that would have been just the motivation I needed to jump right in and learn my native language.
My God, just talking about this makes me anxious. I know what’s coming; I know what I’m about to say, and I don’t want to. These days I take pride in the few Gaelic words I know. I enjoy learning more. And it’s because of a loss. Someone had to die for me to look for a perfect explanation of who they were to me. Makes sense it would be in our native language. Irish culture was a source of pride for him - and one of the first things we laughed about. And over the next ten years we would compete over who showed our pride more.
He was a friend - the kind of friend that is thought of daily. The kind of friend that will never be replaced. The kind of friend that reminds you that it is wonderful to be alive and that you’re worthy of being loved because you are you. He is truly “Anam Cara,” a friend of my soul, and he will be missed.
*“Anam Cara” means friend of my soul in Gaelic
Hiding by Shawnees Robinson
Sometimes we hide behind a mask Steady trying to run away from our past When in any single moment Something can trigger A memory We steady run looking for a tonic mix To cure our minds When really all we have to do is Look inside We want our lives to be So neat and complete But if everything was so perfect We wouldn't be who we turned out to be All these demons and monsters that haunt us Only make us stronger in the end We try to be something we're not Because we're afraid to be judged and Considered dull So we act reckless kinda like thunder Never knowing where we are going to strike If only life was more like coffee Where we stir in a couple ingredients And it's Just to our standards But to me in a way it's more like Syrup Yeah! it can be sweet but after that Then it gets real sticky Some people remind me of elephants They look real big and strong But they're scared Of the littlest Thing I know sometimes things get hard Especially with all the buzz But when things get rough You have to keep pedaling on Like you're on your bicycle Riding up on a hill At the moment you feel You're ready to give up Or that you're not going to make it Quickly shift your gears And you'll see how happy You'll be when you succeed
(Included in the chapbook When I Find My Pen, Summer 2013)
Hopes and Dreams From Cyndi Cail, VFI participant – text of speech given on Martin Luther King Day at an American Friends Service Committee Meeting held at Edwards Church in 2014
When I relocated to Western Mass. I was still newly out of jail, and I couldn’t find employment. I got in contact with After Incarceration Support Services and they directed me to a Voices from Inside writing group. That was in 2001. Writing has helped me to find out who I am and what I want. My soul comes out on paper. If I didn’t write, I don’t know where I would be today. Writing has sent me on a completely different journey. It has given me so much wisdom about myself, about my pain and who I want to be. How do you go from being an abused child living in the projects to being o.k. and successful when you grow up? Nothing has given me the satisfaction and self-esteem that writing has.
My hopes and dreams are still the same ones I had when I was younger. I want to go to college, raise a family, be a good example for my son. I want to make a difference. I am interested in social justice. There is so much going on in this world and people are left behind. If you’re poor or not educated or you don’t come from the best of things, you are considered expendable. The cost doesn’t matter. This country could be so great if we could channel and restructure the social welfare system. People are being failed every day. Poor parents aren’t given the opportunity to raise their children. The social welfare system is set up to keep people down. I have felt stuck. I want to do more for myself, but it’s hard. I want to go to school so I can do something to help people know that they don’t have to succumb to the messages they are getting. I want people to understand that even if they are poor they have rights.
I went from ten years of being homeless to being locked up in a cell. I was in jail for lashing out because I was angry about what had happened to me in my past. I was angry because I felt stuck and didn’t know where to go. I had no education. I had nothing. All I knew was drinking and drugging. No child grows up and says my goal is to end up in jail. I believe each and every person who goes in behind the walls of prisons and jails has been affected by some kind of abuse in their lifetime. I think there is hope for most criminals. Our country is letting us down by shoving everyone in jail. For me, writing helped me change, not jail. I strongly believe that programs need to be put back into the system. Whether it’s a crocheting group, a reading group, or a writing group, people need something that will help them feel a bond, a relationship with other human beings who they can trust, who can help them live a life of quality. There are so many people in this world who live a quality life. If one of these people each took on a poor person and showed them compassion, showed them the ropes, we would have a better country.
Feel like doing a little creative writing yourself? Below are some prompts that VFI participants and facilitators have enjoyed.
(Many of these prompts originate with Amherst Writers and Artists and/or its founder, Pat Schneider, author of Writing Alone and with Others.)
pick a word...
How about these different shades of paint chips?
What's happening here?
Collect a number of children's picture books and lay them out. Use the title of any one of them as a prompt.
Keep slips of paper with single words written on them stored in a container. If no prompts appeal, pick three or four words, and write something using them.
Set out a number of small objects--maybe a bottle cap, a coffee cup, an earring, and a penny--and write about one or more of them.
Read the poem Where I'm From, by George Ella Lyon. Now write about where you're from, beginning with the words "I am from..."
Start writing with the words "Let me tell you something."
Get some paint chips--Benjamin Moore paint chips are especially good, because of their color names--and write either about the name of a color or about the color itself.
Write from the perspective of a fictional character experiencing the real world for the first time.
Look at a recipe, and imagine eating that dish with someone you know or a stranger. Or, write your own recipe for something: confidence, friendship, a cosmic encounter, self-discovery, the best rainy Sunday afternoon.