Held

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HELD

Standing on a wall,

taking in the sound of nothingness,

tossed toward the ground,

and a whisper climbs toward the shadow myself has laid down.

I wonder if it is God who speaks to me in the silence of a breeze,

I wonder if it is God’s palm that steadies me.

I wonder at the unchanging rhythms of the sea.

I stand on the wall between yesterday and tomorrow,

starlight sparkles like small diamonds at dawn.

Moonlight shadows the forest like the soft footsteps of a fawn.

I look up into the expanse of the universe and search for God,

search for answers hidden within my heart.

Like an actress on a stage I ponder the meaning of my part.

I reach my arms across the earth,

and my spirit steps off the wall into tomorrow,

never far from shifting sands,

but also never out of reach of God’s protecting hands.

 

Copyright 2019, Jenny W. Andrews

Remembrance of Mama-Gracie Lee

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LOST TREASURE

At the corner of Bull and Broughton Street,

Mama waits, turns her head, reaches for my small hand, we hurry across that intersection head west towards Kresses.

Time tips over, spills like lost treasure, evaporates, ebbs away.

At the corner, I wait, watch the four o’clock rain scatter, splash off the brick facade of what remains of that memory.

Mama turns to me, tunnels through that darkness in my soul.

Summer day 1973 and 2017 collide with a crash at that Savannah intersection.

Me, as a young child pause, reach up to grab hold of the edge of Mama’s dress.

Me, as a middle-aged woman pause beneath the Starbucks awning and grapple with the pursuit of Mama’s ghost rounding corners, retreating from me with each footfall, with each year, with each turn of the earth, this parched landscape.

Bull and Broughton Streets intersect like roads wrapping up lost lives.

I cannot connect those disappearing dots, darkness drowning me-sunlight-Mama runs by.

I race behind her, I bury my face in the mounting moments-turn my chin upwards like a stone statue, stare beyond the passing away of that piercing pain.

Mama is gone, but her shadow falls across the sidewalk, turns to me. The rain fails to wash away her shadow trapped like a hand print upon the earth.

Copyright 2017, Jenny Andrews

SPIRIT CHASER

Those things we left behind that late summer evening.

Us-defeated, trudged, zigzagged, through brambles in that overgrown garden. Weeds and broken sticks-futile, slow. We pilfered our youth-casualties we became.

Shadows of our great-grandma’s spirit shifted through slats in the sod hovel.

“Spurious, unctuous” were words she had scribbled across great-grandpa’s photo-his broad face turned ever so slightly away from the camera’s focus.

No sunlight filtered through the open chimney space,

azure sky faded to deep gray.

Cycle of life, those things we left behind.

Great-grandma’s sod hovel in the middle of that overgrown cotton field.

Great-grandpa’s broad face

Unctuous

Spurious

moved slowly across the room.

Closing the door.

Patter of summer rain, cooled us.

Those things we left; those things we lost haunt us, seep into us, saturate our spirit, drown us with each drop of rain.

Copyright 2017, Jenny Andrews

 

 

 

 

 

Turning Towards a New Dawn-2019

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That’s my brother Harold, Cousin Libby and me on Christmas Day 2018 at my house. My brother has stage three lung cancer as I have mentioned in my previous blogs. This may very well be our final Christmas together. My cousin Libby is a cancer survivor, having had cancer nearly forty years ago, so there is hope for survival. There is always hope as surely as the sun always rises in the morning and the sun always sets at night. Hope.

As I turn my face towards the coming year 2019, I reflect on the previous years that morphed into decades. Some of those whom I loved are no longer with me in this plane of existence, but as surely as God is in Heaven I truly believe that I am not alone, that my loved ones are eternal-that this life is about so much more than we see in this plane of existence. 

Love is all that truly matters. Our compassionate relationships to those whom we love (and those who are difficult to love) are all that truly matters.

As 2019 dawns and 2018 fades away, I look forward to spending as much time as possible with my family. Life is too short and it goes way too fast. I don’t plan to waste a minute looking back. The past cannot be changed.

A quote that I find very helpful:

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”- Mary Robinson

2019 will be filled with challenges of that I am certain, but I have hope that God will be with me regardless of the storms I will face. 

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

As I turn my face towards 2019 I reach for God’s hand and I will not be afraid to move forward. I will not be afraid to make a new beginning. I will not be afraid for He is with me and I am not alone.

Copyright 2018, Jenny W. Andrews

 

Despairing

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Autumn brings with it  more cold and  more rain, and a reminder that another year is quickly approaching its ending. Holidays bear down on us with the expectations of joyful Christmas surrounded by family and friends. The expectations are often too much to bear when one is alone, when one is despairing of loss, when one is despairing of the ending of the world as previously known.

Here are some poems I have written with the theme of despair:

DYING EMBER

Jasmine scented September morning; heat lingers at the edge of summer’s dying.

Not defeated this clinging summer sizzling-hanging on, refusal to quit.

At the bottom of my dark tunnel,

I struggle to glimpse the warmth waning like a dying ember.

Copyright 2018 Jenny W. Andrews

LONE SOUL

Despairing of being forgotten by a moving, advancing world.

Alone on a crowded planet. Drowning in the emptiness, reaching for the wind, anticipating rescue,

lone soul whispering, “save me from this nothingness.”

Copyright 2018 Jenny W. Andrews

LOOSE CHANGE

Monday is forever gone; I am not sure if it ever really existed,

or if it is I who have gone away.

I move through time and space and know that I cannot hold onto any of this; I know that it will all blink itself away.

What to do with this restlessness, with dreams I carry like loose change in the bottom of my purse?

Copyright 2018 Jenny W. Andrews

 

During this holiday season reach out to someone who is alone. Not everyone has family; not everyone has happy memories of the holidays. Depression increases during the darker, colder days of autumn and winter. This is a lonely planet. Reach out and make it less lonely.

Blessings.

Jenny W. Andrews

 

DEALING WITH GRIEF

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I usually talk about writing techniques. I had planned to talk about the importance of plot in stories, but I am changing my direction right now. Writing, after all, speaks to the heart, to the soul.  Writing helps us to deal with emotions, such as grief. With all the talk about mindfulness as of late I would like to say that it is necessary to look our emotions directly in the face and deal with those emotions rather than ignore them by breathing deeply and humming. Everything matters: our past, our present, and our future. It all has made us who we are, for better or for worse. To that end, I keep journals. I write and examine my emotions. I be honest with myself. I take backward glances to identify where I went wrong in hopes that I will not repeat the same mistakes again. I plan my day, I look towards my future even when fear tries to hold me back, even when grief seems to want to have the last word. My words within my journals remind me of who I am, where I have come from, and remind me of my dreams, of my goals. My journals also act as memory books to help me recall those loved ones I have lost.  Keeping a journal has been instrumental in helping me to work through grief. When I read my words I recall my mother’s laughter as we window shopped, I recall those days of childhood when my father and I would plant zinnias in our garden, I recall my sister Sara and her annoying habit of telling me what to do. Writing in a journal is a tangible act; it helps with clearly seeing life as it was, is, and can be.

My brother has just recently been diagnosed with stage III lung cancer. I lost my mother and my sister to cancer. My mother died of lung cancer; my sister of brain cancer. Now, I stand to lose my brother to this disease. In my grief, I wondered who to blame. Is it the tobacco companies for knowingly injecting addictive poisons into cigarettes? Is it my sister, mother, and brother’s fault for having chose to smoke? These are questions I struggle to find answers to. We will all die of something, of course. That is the nature of this life, but that fact does not lessen the depth of loss, the profoundness of grief.

To cope with this inevitable loss I write poetry. I write short stories. I am writing a memoir and a novel. I also am a photographer. I want to capture the beauty of this life that is blended with the inescapable sorrow inherent in this existence. To cope with this inevitable loss I spend each day talking to my brother, to my family, to remind them that the love I feel for them is greater than any sorrow that will befall us. Love conquers all. Love defeats the grave. Love is eternal.

This poem is for my brother Harold:

Grief

Uncoils-grief does one section at a time,

soul bound by razor wire; movement impossible, trapped, stunned by the inevitable ending

looming large in the distance, specter of death, heartless, relentless stalks my brother’s shadow.

Cancer lays claim, eats away, takes from him the life God gave.

November day, my brother turns his face to me, sunlight illumines that shadow of our mama forever filling up that space between us.

Brother turns his face to me, his tears are unbearable for me to see.

How do I let him go?

How do I live on without him?

What do I do with this profound loss looming in the distance?

Broken heart of mine shatters completely.

How do I let go of my brother?

Copyright 2018 Jenny Andrews

 

 

 

Slaying Dragons

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Last month, I discussed alliteration and imagery.

Right now, I want to talk about tone. Tone reflects the feelings of the writer; it is the particular way the content is expressed. For example, a comedy’s tone can be whimsical and even silly. A romantic story can be melodramatic and fatalistic.  The writer’s choice of words can serve to set the tone. 

For example, let’s consider how a dreary tone can be established through literary devices, such as imagery and word choice. Let’s read my description of a trip I took to Dun Laoghaire.

Stone steps stopped at the heavy wooden doors. Rain, cool like melting ice chips, dripped from the frozen October sky. Splatter of raindrops against the cracked sidewalk beneath my yellow rain boots jerked me to a halt. Upwards, I turned my face. I stopped, felt the raindrops scatter, tickle my face. Just above me,  I turned my gaze to Saint Michael slaying the dragon. Swiping my chilled wet hands against my cheeks, I inhaled deeply and considered that my tears had blended so very well with the tapping of the October rain.

Raindrops, frozen, cracked, chilled, tears, these word choices create a dreary tone. The mood is one of sadness.

Stone steps, Saint Michael slaying the dragon, heavy wooden doors, evokes images in the reader’s mind. The use of  like melting ice chips is an example of a simile and it evokes an image of coldness.

Tone is controlled by the writer. The writer’s use of word choices and imagery sets the tone. In my story,  I chose to emphasize the tone of a sad, dreary day by detailing the continuous rain. In that little snippet of time, I saw Saint Michael slaying the dragon against the church’s stone wall in the rain and the image of him made me stop, swipe at my own tears. In that moment, my tears blended with the rain. His image represented to me at that moment (and even now)  hope that dragons can be slain no matter how dreary the moment, no matter how dreary the day.

 

I sincerely hope that these blogs are helpful to aspiring writers. I absolutely love creative writing. I am currently finishing up a novel. Please wish me luck. I plan to self-publish it. Also, don’t forget to buy my poetry book on Amazon.com/books. It is “Life at the End of the Rainbow” by Jenny Andrews. Thank you so much. Let me know what you think.

Next time, I will discuss plot.

Thanks for reading!

Jenny

ALLITERATION AND IMAGERY

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Alliteration gives poetry its lyricism. It is the repetition of the initial sound of words in a line or lines of verse.

Alliteration is also repetition of both initial sounds and  interior sounds of words. For example, blue-berry. This is known as consonance.

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds within words in a line or lines of verse. It creates a near-rhyme.

Let’s take a look at alliteration in my poem The Not Belonging:

The Not Belonging

The not belonging creeps in like a rash spreads from

blue eyes scorching over me

dismissively.

Inadequacy creeps across my soul, sneaks into my head from the bruised corner of my heart where hurt dwells.

The not belonging burrows into my memory, attaches itself there.

My nut-brown Mama cast a pained glance towards me,

down decades,

defies death’s power to heal all wounds.

Copyright 2018 Jenny Andrews

For consonance I have chosen belonging, burrows, down, decades, defies, death. There is a harshness to the consonance which reflect the imagery evoked by these word choices. In this poem, I have continued to rely heavily on consonance to reflect the theme of this poem. For example, heart, hurt.

Imagery appeals to the senses.

Let’s look at imagery in my poem Foot Bridge:

Foot Bridge

Between two worlds, sunlight splits the water

trickling beneath,

pregnant with little brown fish.

Rocks half-submerged in tree shadows,

beneath cool water.

Mint-green leaves and golden sea grass sway in the cool September breeze.

I am not sure if my mind can be still enough to gather in the coolness of this moment,

if I can quiet my thoughts long enough to let in the chirping of red-faced finches  swooping low, diving into the white lacy flowers of the Eldrum tree.

Copyright 2018 Jenny Andrews

For imagery, I have used color to appeal to the visual sense. I have also incorporated consonance. For example, red-faced finches.

I have appealed to touch-cool September breeze.

I have appealed to sound-chirping.

In poetry, alliteration and imagery can work together to set a tone, a mood.

In post, I will go into more detail about tone and style.

Meanwhile, I hope you have had a chance to order my poetry book LIFE AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW. It is available at Amazon.com/books.  Please feel free to comment here about this post. I would love to get your feedback, comments, questions. Also, after you order my poetry book, please let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Jenny