Give me a break

Sometimes I have an urge to use big words I don’t yet know the meaning of, or better yet to make up new words to describe certain perfections, like this dawn when the sun rose into a fog-shrouded sky at the exact moment the mist receded. For one instant the dark flared – gilded with stars – then gave way to morning.  The camera was no match, nor really is this description.

I’ll remember the moment, keep working to get it right. And then I’ll drub it up against something rugged to set the beauty in relief. “No threat, no poem” is a truism we poets abide and practice and teach. As Dave Smith writes in his essay “St. Cyril’s Dragon” The Threat of Poetry:

Great art intends threat…The good poem destabilizes, unbalances, stirs up, digs down, demands feeling in exact circumstances…No poem succeeds without threat, implied or explicit. Threat manifests what is important to know. Threat engineers the struggle of self to come into being.

That’s all well and good, but the constant struggle takes energy and it’s necessary for me, for you, to take time to revive.  Whenever I forget to build rest into my schedule, the universe has a gentle way of reminding me. The cast of characters hanging around La Jolla Cove this weekend taught infinitely wise lessons with their presence.

Seal with ballJPG

Play whenever you sealTake care of your own.

full beach

It’s great to hang out with friends.

two sleeping

But having someone special is the best gift of all.

Now before you think there’s no threat here, consider. The La Jolla Cove seals are no stranger to peril. Tourists and restaurateurs complain about the stench of too many seals too close to town.  Conservationists and environmentalists clash with businesses to protect the seals. You can read a roundup of the controversy, or crisis as some call it, at the Seal Sitters link here.

Or you cannot. Sometimes it’s alright to take a break from crisis or controversy and simply enjoy the beauty right in front of you.

And that, good readers, is the last word on the March of contrasts.

Sealed with a kiss

p.s. When you are revived and ready to seriously consider how addressing the threat can create a fine poem, do revisit Dave Smith’s essay, “St. Cyril’s Dragon” The Threat of Poetry.”  In fact, you might even sign up for Poetry Daily. From the “About Poetry Daily” page:

Poetry Daily is an anthology of contemporary poetry. Each day, we bring you a new poem from new books, magazines, and journals.

Poems are chosen from the work of a wide variety of poets published or translated in the English language. Our most eminent poets are represented in the selections, but also poets who are less well known. The daily poem is selected for its literary quality and to provide you with a window on a very broad range of poetry offered annually by publishers large and small.

The Lowdown on Low Contrast

IMG_8010locontrastThere are days when the weather is not perfect, surprise! It may be cloudy or hazy or foggy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take photos. You will get a different look to your photos those days. They will have a low contrast dreamy look to them because the sun is diffused which creates a more even lighting. The dark black shadows and bright white highlights are tempered.

IMG_2496 lo contrast.JPG I find I gravitate to coastline landscapes on these days, maybe because the fog we so often find ourselves enshrouded in here creates the low contrast lighting and there is a sense of mystery to a foggy coast.

IMG_9227locontrastI have also noticed many catalogs and wedding photographers are using low contrast lighting in their photography. One way to achieve this is to shoot towards the sun and expose for the model which often creates an overexposed background or by adjusting the contrast and brightness in post processing.

IMG_8000lo contrastSimple subjects or scenes tend to lend themselves to this type of look.


Photography using low contrast is yet another method of conveying a mood or feeling to your photos and is fun to play around and experiment with both on location and in post processing.

Dreamily searching out diffusion this week,

~ Susan

Weekend Dish – Chicken Lettuce Wraps

IMG_7943chick let wrapThe chicken lettuce wrap is another study in contrasts. The warm chicken mixture is the perfect foil to the cool crispness of the lettuce, which is enhanced by the savory saltiness of the chicken mixture contrasting with the relative blandness of the lettuce. It makes a healthy, low carb and gluten-free appetizer – sure to please a varied crowd, and in the words of Lucy Ricardo, “it’s tasty too!”  They also make a yummy after school snack if you’re feeling ambitious – or happen to have some leftovers, which is highly unlikely. I discovered this the other day when making these for this post timed out perfectly with my daughter’s arrival home from school. She was thrilled and appreciative.

IMG_7919chicken let wrapsNow let’s get to it. . .

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 pound ground chicken breast (some stores carry this, if yours doesn’t, I have put boneless pieces of chicken breast in the food processor and chopped fine)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup chopped water chestnuts
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 thai chili pepper finely chopped more or less according to taste


  • 3 Tbsp tamari soy sauce (to make this dish gluten-free you must use the tamari gluten free)
  • 1 Tbsp black bean sauce with garlic
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp mirin
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Combine all in a bowl and set aside for later.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, when hot add the canola oil and then the chicken. Cook and stir while breaking up with a spoon until the chicken is almost no longer pink and add green onions, carrots and mushrooms stirring for about one minute or until the chicken is no longer pink. Next, add the water chestnuts, garlic, ginger and chili and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Finally, add the sauce and stir to incorporate and cook about a minute more.

IMG_7922chick let wrap

Wash and prepare lettuce leaves, I like to use endive because they are tender yet crisp and a nice size, butter lettuce or romaine or any lettuce you prefer can be used. Then, either serve all ready assembled or with the two components separate and let your diners assemble for themselves.

IMG_7938chick let wrap

May this weekend find you with some lucky diners at your table.

~ Susan


Life after death

Dear One,
Last time we met, 40 years ago, you were five, maybe seven? Would I recognize you today if we passed on a trail?

I hear yesterday from my father – still close with your father who passes along your news – your husband is dead.

I dream you last night. I see you far off, vulnerably alone, head hunched against a great grey howling landscape.


I didn’t know your husband, don’t know your children, can only impose any understanding of your grief based upon imagination and experience losing others who are not my husband.

So, why write now? I have no balm to erase pain.

I do have one small wonder to offer. Have you ever, as mother, as teacher, observed how very much we are already our one true self in childhood? As we age we grow longer legs, big teeth replace baby teeth, our noses broaden a little. We learn about history, mathematics, physics, and literature.  What I’m talking about though, is that flickering now, flaring then, essence of our true being that burns through the years of a life.

I vividly remember an essence of you: your all out glee when playing Hide and Seek, as if the thrill of returning to base, of throwing yourself absolutely into the game was the secret to staying alive; the way you measured both sides of an argument and implored us squabbling playmates to just get over it; your unruly hair and dirty knees when there were hills to charge or mud to tame; the way you begged us to play wedding and house. You loved those games more than the others and cared for dolls and the mop-stick man with fierce fervor. I love you forever you’d say to the wooden handle. You’d swoon and we’d giggle until breathless.

When we lose someone, I know it is the person we miss. We miss their laugh and their warm hand, their scent, and voice, and the way they break into a smooth slide and spin us around the kitchen on a Tuesday night for no reason. I love you forever.

But more than that, there is a singular way we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of a person who absolutely knows us and loves us in spite of all we are. We simply are with some people in a way we aren’t with the rest of the world.

Your husband isn’t here to look at you that way now. Unfathomable.

But I see you, that fiercely strong and passionate girl. There are many others who still see you with love and caring. We reflect your deep goodness back upon you. We are here, not in your kitchen yet here, a steady presence for you and your children, holding you up in our hearts while you tumble upon grit and boulders. We will wait with you through the grey.


With gentleness,

p.s. There is no one way that grief happens, though many doctors and psychologists refer to its five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  Whenever I hear this, I imagine a five ring circus. The audience is an assemblage of family and friends peripherally affected by the grief waiting and watching for signs that the new widow, the newly one-child-less parent, the orphan, will make it through a little tap dance, a little hissy fit, a little barter or a wailing upon a stage set up in each ring before being allowed to exit stage left and reenter The Land Of Normalcy.

I don’t know what to do.

I hate being audience. I hate doing nothing. I write.

I offer Mary Oliver‘s book Thirst, a collection of the most achingly beautiful poems written by a poet in a state of grief.


That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.

Splash of Color

Color contrast adds visual interest and impact to photos. When looking at a color wheel, you notice that one side contains the warmer colors the reds, yellow and oranges and the other side is where you’ll find the cooler colors: blue, green and purple. The colors opposite from each other are considered complementary colors and as such are pleasing to the eye when used in combination. Red and green are an example of a complementary pair of colors.

DSC_0167contrastThe designers of the 7-UP can know this and here I played up the red by throwing a Coke can in to the mix. Blue and orange are another pair of complementary colors.

IMG_2383contrastThe Caribbean is full of color splashes. The towns are often painted with bright yellows, reds and oranges and many of the locals dress in the same bright colors which all complement the beautiful blue sea.

IMG_3862.JPGcontrastColor can be introduced into a monochrome scene to draw the viewer in to the photo. The players here in the vivid hued shirts stand out against the sand colored building and ground.

IMG_9307contrastThe gloominess of the rainy day is brightened by the umbrellas and shirts of the pedestrians. Color contrast can be added to a photo by either using a splash of complementary color in a scene of a predominate color, such as a splash of red in a predominately green scene, or by adding bright colors into a neutral toned scene.

It’s yet another tool to use when you are composing your photos. Remember, generally the cooler colors harmonize with the warmer colors.

Here a splash, there a splash.

~ Susan

The Weekend Dish-Irish Soda Bread

The song begins the moment first guests arrive, a ditty all four Keefes learned by heart one summer when an Irish singalong CD was our soundtrack while driving backroads from Dublin to Shannon.
(Go ahead, click play and listen while you read.)

At our house on March 17, “there’s a welcome there for you” regardless of where you hail from. We invite the intrepid and seasoned St. Patrick Day’s revelers in for a taste of tradition dating beyond our family trip to the homeland, beyond the Backyard Sisters’ mom making corned beef, back, back to the maternal and paternal grandmothers who couldn’t let a March 17 pass without corned beef and a haunting round of “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby) sung a capella in the kitchen.

At the O’Keefe’s Hooley on St. Patrick’s Day, “whoever you are you’re one us,” ’tis true. But there are three hard and fast rules for being a good guest.

Sing along.
Wear green.

St Pattys Day Maizie Maizie the Wonderlab.  Photo Credit: James Keefe

And kick off your shoes to kitchen jig.

kitchen danceWe take care of the rest by creating a feast based on updated versions of the Irish classics of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes; some sort of green vegetable, an ancient green jello salad recipe, and Irish soda bread.

Table Setting

The corned beef is boiled in the conventional manner, then treated with a catsup, horseradish, mustard, brown sugar, and melted butter glaze which is brushed over the beef, then oven roasted for 30 minutes at 350 to create a savory, almost caramelized coating. Cabbage is oven roasted in olive oil so it browns and remains more crisp than its boiled cousin. Potatoes are mashed, country style with roasted garlic and laced with parsley. Usually by the time I’m finished making all of this, enthusiasm and time left to make soda bread have waned.

And honestly, up until last year, for me Irish Soda Bread wasn’t anything worth troubling over. Some years I whipped up Bisquick biscuits; other times I called Pop ‘N Fresh biscuits Irish, or better yet, I passed out bread duty to guests. As the luck of the Irish would have it, last year my friend Maureen brought the bread that changed my mind about it being a second class citizen at the feast. And wouldn’t you know, this recipe is straight from Ireland by way of her mother.

Soda Bread

Eileen Shea’s Irish Soda Bread. Photo Credit: James Keefe

Here’s the story behind the bread, in Maureen’s words.

The Irish soda bread is a very fond memory from my mom, Eileen Shea. Her parents came over from Ireland and met in buffalo NY , settled in an Irish neighborhood there. My mom had been making the bread for many years, always on St. Paddy’s day, along with corned beef and cabbage if course!  I began making the bread when I had our daughters and wanted to keep the Irish tradition alive for them…. I make it every St. Paddy’s…I hope the girls will carry on the recipe when they have their own families….

It’s funny because I am out here in the desert with my Buffalo cousins , who have kept up the same tradition and actually brought us a wonderful loaf of soda bread on the plane …we have been eating it as we speak, the same recipe that our moms have shared ….

So cheers to you and cheers to Eileen and Maureen and the Buffalo cousins.  “Whoever you are, you’re one of us.”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
~ Catherine

Eileen Shea’s Irish Soda Bread
Preheat oven to 350

  • 4 Cups flour (scant)
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 Cup sugar
  • 3/4 Cup butter (chilled)
  • 1 Cup raisins
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 1/3 Cups buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in butter. Add raisins, caraway seeds, and milk. Turn out on a floured board. Knead about one minute. (Maureen divides dough in half and makes two small round loaves.)

Bake on cookie sheet for 50-60 minutes until brown and crackled.

bread blessing

contrast – CONTRAST

In photography, contrast is one of many tools used to draw attention to your subject while also creating a mood. There are a few different types of contrast. Today, I have tonal contrast on my mind; the difference between the light and dark areas of a photo. When there is a greater difference between the light and dark areas it is considered high contrast and conversely when there is not much of a difference between the two it is a low contrast situation. Higher contrast images tend to be more dramatic and convey a sense of power while low contrast images have a softness to them imparting a feeling of gentleness. There are a few methods we can use to create high contrast images. One is to choose subjects with contrasting colors, such as piano keys.

piano keys Adjusting your lighting is yet another way of achieving greater contrast. In a darker room using a strong light source from the side of your subject will bathe that side in light while leaving the rest in the shadows.

cellofrench hornUsing this technique, you can highlight the area of your subject you wish to call attention to while creating a dramatic mood at the same time. Underexposing your photo by a stop or two, which is similar to adding black to your image, will enhance your shadow areas. If you don’t want such a dramatic difference in your light and dark areas keep your exposure at the proper exposure determined by your light meter.

cello scroll and pegs

french horn

An additional technique for creating high contrast is placing your subject in front of a bright light source (a window or a sunset for example) and exposing for the light source, which results in a silhouette of your subject.

window figure

I challenge you to go out this week and look for the contrast in your world and try to enhance it.

Keeping in mind, “where there is much light, the shadow is deep.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

~ Susan

The Weekend Dish – Brownie Cheesecake

Culinarily exploring this month’s theme of contrast, I hit upon the brownie cheesecake. It is a delicious, indulgent dessert which is a fine example when used as a study in contrasts. The white cheesecake on top of the dark brownie highlights the tonal contrast. In addition, there is textural dissimilarity between the smooth, creaminess of the cheesecake layer and the chewy, dense brownie layer. When these two components are mixed together, the result is sheer bliss.

brownie cheesecakeI had to mute my “healthy eating inner voice” for awhile and turn up the volume on the “oh this is going to be good voice”, (another contrast for me) turning a blind eye to the nutrition information as I added the 4 – 8oz blocks of cream cheese. I couldn’t help thinking of calories as I lifted the 13″ X 9″ pan taking note of the poundage. However, I can report, putting my inner turmoil aside was so worth it. This brownie cheesecake is scrumptious.

brownie cheesecakeI found the recipe on the Kraft foods recipe website but I did make a few adjustments.

Brownie Cheesecake

1 pkg. (19 to 21 oz.) brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli brand double chocolate)
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened. I used two neufchatel cheese (a lighter cream cheese)
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla (I upped this from 1 tsp)
1/2 cup sour Cream
3 eggs
1 cup semi-sweet morsels (Ghirardelli again)

HEAT oven to 325°F.

PREPARE brownie batter as directed on package; pour into 13×9-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 25 min. or until top is shiny and center is almost set.

MEANWHILE, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Gently pour over brownie layer in pan. (Filling will come almost to top of pan.)

BAKE 40 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen sides; cool. Refrigerate 4 hours.

MELT chocolate morsels in double boiler; drizzle over cheesecake. Refrigerate 15 min. or until chocolate is firm.

You may want to slice before the chocolate becomes to firm or else it pops off the top and the presentation isn’t as nice.

I especially liked the Kraft kitchen tip at the bottom of the recipe:

Balance your food choices throughout the day so you can enjoy a serving of this rich-and-indulgent cheesecake with your loved ones.
You will definitely want to share this with your loved ones. I took half of the pan to share with some friends and even though I would love to keep the other half for myself, I dare not.
brownie cheesecakeYou will find me this weekend supplementing my exercise routine by adding another day of walking and climbing an extra flight of stairs or two, also looking for loved ones to share the goodies with and. . .  indulging in a few pieces of rich brownie cheesecake myself; savoring every bite!
Indulgently yours,
~ Susan

Cacti and clouds


I’ve run away from home again in the name of love. Book love.

Sometimes this writer needs to stop using her wife voice, mother voice, daughter voice, sister voice, auntie voice, professor voice, neighbor voice to recall the voice that sounds most like her inner soul. Her writing voice.

There was a red suitcase involved, a bag of books heavier than a week’s worth of groceries, my cappuccino maker, and a short to-do list.

  • Write the last poem of THE BOOK.
  • Finalize order of poems in THE BOOK. (Yes, this contradicts Item #1.)
  • Edit all poems in THE BOOK.

On Monday, the list felt an awful lot like this:

Western Prickly Pear

The weird thing is, I chose this week, right in the middle of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference, the single largest gathering of writers in North America.  More than ten thousand writers and editors traveled to Boston. I stayed in California.  I haven’t missed a conference in five years. And yet I desperately needed to be alone and write more than I needed to schmooze and buy books and be inspired by what other writers were doing.  I couldn’t afford both a writer’s retreat and to put myself up in Boston, so I chose me.  Alone.

As the week winds down, THE BOOK has been tamed back down to all lower case letters.  Needles have been plucked, rough edges smoothed.

The new perspective comes by paying attention to the Backyard Sisters theme for March: contrast.

low tide rocks

Home. Not home.
Clay. Sand.
Dust. Water.
Omnipresent trail. Tidal path.
Warm toes. Cold bed.

Narrative moves forward, I tell my students, when that which is bumps up against that which is not. The best poetry happens, says poet Amy Newlove Schroeder, when there’s “a yoking together of the concrete and the abstract,” like “blending the perfect martini.”  Last year I had the pleasure of hearing Amy give a poetry talk titled “Concrete Abstraction” at Chapman University.  She urged poets to consider how all language is representational and the most “successful” poetry is that which can translate an experience, an idea, an aloneness, “from the tangible to the real.”  It’s how we don’t die of loneliness, Schroeder suggests.

If you’d like your own university classroom experience, you can view her talk here.  And if you’re anywhere near Orange County, you can catch her at Literary Orange, Sat. April 6, 2013, at the Irvine Marriott, a hotel. Not home.

Leaving. Returning.
Watching the sky. Waiting for tomorrow.
Missing you. Knowing I will miss this.
clouds and oceanWith a skip in her step,


The next big thing

Poet Mary Biddinger has one of those voices that feels like a long lost friend. She’s the author of several poetry books, including Prairie Fever and editor of Barn Owl Review. According to her website, in her spare time she likes “to photograph garbage.” She also has great ideas like starting an author interview series called The Next Big Thing.  This is a chainlinking of writers who are asked to divulge details of “the next big thing” they’re working on.  Sandy Marchetti, poetry editor of Minerva Rising asked me to participate. If you want to learn more about Sandy’s Next Big Thing, you can read her post here.

So here’s the project that keeps Catherine Keefe up at night…

Japan 153

Helen of Troy was here

What’s the working title of your book?
refrain: lost notes from helen’s songbook

Where did the idea come from?
I’ve always imagined all of poetry as one long interconnected verse, printed in a colossal book floating in the ether, bound together loosely with something like strips of dried moose hide. In that lyric, Helen of Troy, is a recurring undersong. Why haven’t we let her go?

This colossal book image came from visiting my grandfather who kept a yellowed collection of sheet music open on his piano. Over the years, the book’s binding loosened. Inevitably when my grandfather played, a few pages fell and slid under the couch or blew out the open front door on a gust of wind.  As a girl I wondered who might find “Que Sera Sera” on their porch and what meaning they would derive from the discovery. Would it even be intact?

As a woman I wanted to poetically play with that lost note idea. Helen of Troy’s myth offers love, adultery and war, a far more interesting story than a girl and her grandfather singing “Give My Regards to Broadway.”

refrain’s poems are framed as if they blew out of the great lyric book by accident. They’re written in conversation with poets who have immortalized Helen, as formal poetry and also as fragment poetry collaged with art reviews, museum catalogs, grocery lists, quotes from other poets, philosophers, scientists, and titles taken from drawings by A-bomb survivors.

What genre does your book fall under?
refrain is poetry.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Someone unknown. Someone fierce.

What’s the one-sentence synopsis?
Helen of Troy abdicates role as poster girl for destruction in the name of beauty.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The typical path for first book poetry publication is to win a publication prize established by small presses or literary magazines. I’ve given myself a budget to submit refrain to poetry contests.

How long did it take to write the first draft?
The first draft tumbled out in middle-of-the- night writing frenzies during the nine weeks I spent alone in a writer’s cottage in Port Townsend, WA.  I was interning at Copper Canyon Press, reading some of the world’s best poetry by day and composing by night. Distant foghorns, buoy bells, and Helen’s voice drifted in through the open window.

That was in 2008 (I was the oldest intern.) Since then I’ve picked at refrain but mostly abandoned it to other projects. Helen started invading my dreams recently, so I’m spending time in a writer’s cottage in Laguna Beach to finish and begin to send it out on a regular schedule.  Helen insisted I return to the sea to finish her story. Who am I to argue?

What other books would you compare to this within your genre?
refrain strives for the aesthetic restraint of One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryōkan, transl. by John Stevens.  It’s in the loose narrative model of something like C.D. Wright‘s One With Others or Narrow Road to the Interior by Kimiko Hahn.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Helen’s story, ancient as it is, represents two persistent beliefs I want to test and explore. The first is that war is justified if there’s a perception of being wronged, and that once war is declared, all means to win are allowed.

The word “refrain” is a single phonetic tick from “reframe,” an underlying motif of the book. refrain picks up the challenge Alice Notley issued in Homer’s Art

Another service would be to write a long poem, a story poem, with a female narrator/hero.  Perhaps this time she wouldn’t call herself something like Helen; perhaps instead there might be recovered some sense of what mind was like before Homer, before the world went haywire & women were denied the participation in the design & making of it.  Perhaps someone might discover that original mind inside herself now, in these times. Anyone might.

The other assumption is that love is a single thing between two people, not a universal light that shines upon us all. How do we reconcile the Zen philosophy that we are all interconnected if we are proprietary about the bodies we claim as ourselves and “the one” we love?

I write to inquire. Is there such a thing as enough?  This is one of the book’s fundamental questions; I play with all meanings of “refrain” including the imperative.  Lastly, refrain is the story of yearning to go home, to a place where heroics and tragedies can be laid to rest.  But what if the home door is bolted yet two people stand on either side of the door, hands on the lock wishing to dissolve the barrier, but not knowing how. How do you suspend blame? How do you ask for forgiveness?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
You mean beyond adultery, love and war? Well, there’s spaghetti sauce, cherry blossoms, and a Helen whose voice ranges from Yeats, to Whitman, to Euripides and CS Lewis depending on whose rendering she’s mirroring.

There’s a funny story about Helen’s voice from when I read excerpts from refrain at an Iowa Summer Writing Festival author’s reading.

I stood up and said I really wasn’t going to read something I’d written, rather I was going to read something I’d found.

Scouts Honor, I’d found bits of a journal and this journal was written by Helen of Troy. Does anyone remember who Helen was?

Hands up. Nods yes.

I then read 3 short poems from refrain.  And maybe I was dressed in a long Grecian dress and maybe I added a bit of theatre technique with hand gestures – nothing too over the top, you know, just me talking with my body.

And then the reading was over and two people approached. Both of them both of them! said they very much enjoyed my reading but wondered why I hadn’t read from my own work.  But, that was my work, I said. Helen of Troy didn’t have a journal, and if she did, (and was she even real?) it hasn’t been found. And if it was, it most certainly wouldn’t be written in English.

Both of them both of them! looked at me so oddly, I fled.

Then, I chuckled in my room all night and thought, well, I guess I’ve captured a voice which isn’t my own. Thank you Helen for letting me share your refrain.


Please check in next week when Denise Cecila Banker shares her “Next Big Thing.”