Friday, November 26, 2010

Ought To Bees ~ a monologue

I hate the Ought-to-bees! Church folk at Belle Chasse Baptist always talk about how I ought to be. Like, “You ought to be a better role model.” Half of them think I really am a role model! Like, they pray their kids turn out just like me and hold me up for an example. You know their kids hate me for that. Shuh! And other half? They call me a problem child in need of better home training. Whatever!

It is so hard being the Pastor’s daughter. Like, it’s hard just to make friends my own age. Take Shane Guidry. I mean, we are friends. I just wish we could be better friends. Shane Guidry is smart, like me. At Christian school, we’re both way ahead of everybody else in our workbooks. And Shane's always neat. He keeps his shoes as clean as his Bible. But even though we’re friends, still, he’s kinda stand-offish.

Or take that Vardimin Huckabee. Puh-lease! I trust Vardimin Huckabee about as far as I can throw him. And that ain’t far. Ok, there was this one time I thought we might date, but that was a whole year ago! I was twelve! No uh-uh, not anymore. Vardimin’s mean. He always did play too rough. Like this one time, when we was all seven-years-old—that was our first year at Christian school—Vardimin Huckabee put sand inside my panties. Boy, was my mama mad! Everybody was in trouble with Mama that day. Even my daddy was in trouble. And he’s the Pastor! Oh, Mama was all shouting about “boys need better male role models!” So whatever was going on between Vardimin and Shane, I know it’s rough. And I just think, well, Shane has had enough rough in his lifetime already.

I mean, I already know the truth about Shane, despite all my protestations to Daddy, Mama, or anybody else at Belle Chasse Baptist. Oh I can still hear Sister Charlotte Purtell—she’s my mama’s best friend—teasing me, "A pastor’s daughter ought to be selective about whom she chooses for her first beau," she says. "How ‘bout that cute little Brother Shane?” She looked at the other church women and laughed. “I hear tell he’s a faerie nice guy!" Sister Charlotte’s sense of humor really sets my teeth on edge. She always teases me like that, boyfriend jokes, in front of other church women whenever Mama's not in earshot. 'Sides, there's nobody at Belle Chasse Baptist I want for a first beau.

So I nurtured my suspicion about Shane and Vardimin all last semester at Christian school. And then, when it was time for Spring term crawfish boil, I confronted him. I don’t know where I got the gall, maybe it was adrenaline, but I dragged Shane into the church side-yard where I could ask him privately about what was up with Vardimin. “Are y'all sexual?”

Shane denied it, vehemently, but eventually he broke down, all harried by my persistance. I get that complaint a lot. But finally, Shane confided the truth to me. “Don’t tell your daddy!” he begs, all panic-stricken. Like, why would I tell my daddy?

So I don’t know, maybe it was adrenaline, but I just asked him outright, “Shane, does your father ever beat you up?” I mean, Shane always seems so scared, like he winces whenever church men shout "Amen!" too loud. But my friend would not even answer that question at all. Clamped shut his jaw. I stood by and watched the vision in Shane Guidry's hazel-green eyes turn inside. I tapped his shoulder. “Bubba, what is it?”

Well once I got at home, I decided to talk to my daddy, the Pastor, anyhow. I changed out from my good Sunday jumper my mama made me, and put on a boy’s tank top and culottes. Daddy doesn’t like me to wear tank tops; but Mama says it’s ok because I haven’t developed my boobies yet. 

Then I tip-toed into Daddy’s private retreat, his sanctuary, his home office in the tool shed. I felt just like Queen Esther, fearfully entering the court of King Ahasereus in order to save my people. I guess it was adrenaline. Cuz with the same gall I had confronted Shane about his father, I now beseeched my own father to intercede on Shane’s behalf.

Daddy was leaning sideways in his office chair, the one with the missing wheel. His big head cocked to the side listening to me in disbelief like I was Balaam’s talking donkey. And when I finished talking, Daddy just shook his big head slowly side-to-side. “That Shane Guidry,” he says, “sure is one confused young fella.”

But I blurted out in Shane’s defense, "You would be confused too if your father hid behind the door when you got home from Christian school and surprised you with a weight lifting belt!"

Daddy sat bolt upright, despite his leaning chair. “Now Sharon Rose Buchanan,” he tells me, “Brother Guidry is just more strict as a parent than me or Mama. Some parents use corporal punishment to teach their kids right behavior. That is their prerogative. But you and your brother Bobby, y'all never get spanked. Mama and me don’t believe in corporal punishment. So of course you think spanking is abuse.”

Prerogative? Shuh! I knew better than that. “A weight lifting belt?! I know what that’s called!” I was just besides myself, trying not to cry. “Daddy, I’m scared for my friend. Can’t you do nothing?” 

“Like what could I do?,” he says. Daddy seemed harried by my persistence too. 

I faked a smile, holding back my tears. “You’re the Pastor," I said. "You influence people. You could talk to Brother Guidry?” Underneath my fake smile though, I prayed Daddy would see the real distress I felt for my friend. I wanted him to pull me by the waist into a hug like when I was a little girl.

But he didn’t do that. Daddy didn’t hug me. He just thought for a while. “I tell you what," he finally says, "here’s what I will do. I will write a Bible study for this Wednesday night, explore the topic of corporal punishment, using scripture.”

I wailed. "Spare the rod?!"

“Yes!” Daddy says, definitely harried. “But other scripture too, like provoke not thy child to wrath. I will debate the topic of corporal punishment from the pulpit, both sides, with scripture. Try to set some reasonable boundaries.”

I winced at my own gall. “Will you mention the weight lifting belt?” Even Mama knows to back down when Daddy has that look in his eyes, like King Ahasereus, or Moses.

Through tight jaws and clenched teeth, my father just says to me, “I will be very, very clear, my dear." And then, he turned me around by my shoulders, pointed me out the exit of the tool shed, and swatted my butt.


Well I’m thirteen now. And maybe I don’t always know how things ought to be. And maybe I never will become the best role model in the land. But I do know one thing for sure, that's how to be a good friend. And right about now, I think Shane Guidry sure could use a friend.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Final .2 Miles

This is a newer draft of a poem I began during National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) in April. You can see an earlier draft in the blog entries below. This poem still needs work, but it's approaching what I intend:

The Final .2 Miles
The modern marathon is more than 26 miles long.
It is 26.2, to be precise. The .2 added
because a young queen wanted to greet the runners 
of the first modern marathon at the ornate gates of Buckingham palace.

Flash-forward 50 years. Hawaii, 
inside the chain-link fence enclosing Moana Loa shopping center.
where 26 thousand anxious runners are lining up in the pre-morning dark of pre-morning
hopping in place or rolling shoulders 
under the tendrils of falling sky flowers, the opening ceremonial fireworks.
Speeches I do not hear, crunching my first handful of Cheerios.

At the mile 6 marker, I am holding steady,
happy in my selection of moisture-wicking socks.
My feet fall into that familiar rhythm that I recognize from training.
When all of a suddenly, that shoeless Ethiopian who soon will win the race,
is already returnsing in the opposite direction, already at the mile 20 marker (for him)
grinning as he passes, his bare feet flapping on the sticky blacktop.

But Yet for me, yet, are two times over Diamond Head, our only hill, 
a volcano really, and then an the eternal stretch of featureless sky and Pali Highway and sky.
Porta-potty stops, more water and , more Cheerios.
Beide the Pali Highway, Llocal Hawaiians cheer us on., handing us banana halves and cups.
Someone hands me half of a banana.

In my imagination, I throw a giant rubber band around a faster runner 
up ahead, herding his momentum with my mind, 
to pull me forward on the confidence of his stride.

Hours later, my turn finally arrives to pass that mile 20 marker for myself,
Momentary elation and relief are swallowed by the realization 
of not jut 6 more miles to run, but 6.2.
of 6.2 miles yet to go. And then at mile 26, still another .2 miles!

But everything I had apportioned out to sustain me over 26 miles,
is used up already, good intentions long-since gone, 
both water bottles empty. All my Cheerios are consumed.
Physical stamina? Depleted; and I run solely on emotional energy now, 
and that too wanes. My stomach, painfully bloated, sloshes with its own acids.

In my imagination, I throw a giant rubber band around a faster runner 
up ahead, herding his momentum with my mind, 
to pull me forward on the confidence of his stride.
But the rubber band, or my imagination, stretched beyond the limit, 
snaps. And I am hurtled backward by impact with The Wall.
My left IT band is tearing away from the knee.

What fuel is left that I can use?

A whisper, the slightest suggestion inside me: Rage? 
Oh right. Raging against the dying of the light!
So many times in my life before, rage has served me well. 

Can rage carry me now, over what feels like 
the final .2 miles of life?

Because I am finishing this race! I have traveled too far--
600 miles in training and then 2 separate jets!
I endured the headaches and Plantar Fasciitis,
low blood sugar depressions, and the body certainty 
that long distance goals are really short distance goals 
when taken daily, one step, and then the next. 

Yes, rage! Even if I drag my bloody stump 
across that line, I will finish strong. I am a Finisher.

Although, I have not finished yet. I still earn 
every painful step of those final .2 miles 
before I will be greeted at the scrolling gate of an eternally ancient queen.
The marathon extends beyond my reach. But I know that sometimes
just maintaining forward momentum has got to be enough.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Genius in My Livingroom

Publication, it would seem, is a secondary concern
that a writer should consider only after
actually writing.

But validation, admiration, respect?
I mean, how long must I remain content
just a genius in my living room?
And love? Who does not want love?

But if love can be won, I haven't won it yet.
Validation, yes, some respect, and even admiration.
Plus head-wagging a-plenty. But love?
Really, I should look elsewhere.

Validation, admiration, and respect then.

To feel a part Of It All.
Not just feel, but to believe it.
To sit, crowded at the table with the other
VIPs, the other hungry young celebrities,
all of us scanning the ballroom, looking outward
instead of in, anxious to see and be seen, anxious
to feel Chosen, for someone to call
our names.

Friday, July 2, 2010

On Bayou Lafitte

The floating lands, folded by a storm surge,
rebounded with tides too saline
for Giant Blue Irises to thrive.

Yet these blue tenacious flowers do survive,
roots clutching at the certainty that change
is the nature of Nature, and that 
even Giant Blue Irises can rebound.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Musical Debut

Tonight is Dress Rehearsal for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the Musical". This show marks my musical theater debut in New Orleans, this coming Friday night. I'm excited and proud to have come this far. Dress Rehearsal. I expect things to be harried and confused tonight, but overall very well-done. We've rehearsed our songs, practiced our set changes, lighting cues, and choreography. We're in good shape.

Me, I'm in good shape too. Dancing does wonders for my body and stamina. I feel pretty good. And proud to say I'm hanging in there with REAL dancers, some in their late teens. Fortunately, there are 2 levels of choreography in the show: REAL dancer choreography and simplified, mostly upstage in the back choreography for me and the other singer/actors. I rely on my female dance partners to guide me around, signal the next change, and maintain tempo. But otherwise, I'm DANCIN'!! In a show! Not bad for 42 years old.

There's a poem about the experience of dancing starting to form...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NaPoWriMo ~ Week 4

A poem a day is a chore, but overall, I'm happy with my progress. Even on days when I do not publish a poem, my mind is writing.

If you are reading this on Facebook, my revisions make a lot more sense on the actual blog ( where you can see the colors at work. Bold white text is the original impulse on a particular day. Green text is revised after the first day. Gray text is deleted.




cloud of Sweet Olive


change is the nature
of Nature

~ Bayou Lafitte

The floating lands,
folded by a storm surge,
return rebounded with tides too saline
for gGiant bBlue iIrises
to thrive

And yet they Yet these tenacious flowers
do survive,
clutching to the certainty knowledge
is the nature
of Nature

And that Giant Blue Irises
can also rebound.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

NaPoWriMo ~ Week 3

Week 2 started strong, but then seriously dropped off. The poems were longer, more noticeably structured, and located firmly in New Orleans, sights and recent experiences. But then, nothing. Or perhaps I should say, too much. Too many thoughts swirling inside my head like a carousel, but no gold ring to grab hold of. It's times like these when my pocket-size notebooks are really handy to jot down snippets.

DAY 7 ~ Genius in My Living Room

How long can I be content
being just a genius
in my living room?

I know, pPublication
is a secondary concern for writers
after writing.
But validation, admiration, respect?
Love? Who doesn't want love?

But if love can be won,
I haven't won it yet.
Plenty of admiration though,
some respect, more copious eEncouragement, yes,
some respect, and even admiration. And yes
a bit of plenty of head-wagging.

But love? Really
I should look elsewhere.

Validation, admiration, respect...

To feel a part Of It All.
Not just feel it, but believe it.
To look outward
instead of

CTo sit, crowded at the table with the
other VIPs
with the the other, hungry young celebrities, all of us
scanning the ballroom, looking outward
instead of in, anxious to see
and be seen, anxious for someone to call
our names.



~ The Final .2 Miles

A marathon is more than 26 miles long.
To be precise,
it's 26.2. The .2 added
because a young queen
wanted to greet
runners of the first modern marathon runners
at the gates of her palace.

At the line-up there are 26 thousand
of us,
hopping in place with excitement,
under the falling sky flowers
of the opening ceremonial fireworks.
Speeches I don't hear. I eat
my first handful of Cheerios.

At the mile 6 marker, I am holding steady,
happy with my selection of moisture-wicking socks,
my feet falling into that pleasing rhythm
I recognize from training, when that barefoot Ethiopian
who soon will win won the race was
is already returning,
grinning as he passesd me in the opposite direction,
flat feet flapping on the blacktop.

And when I finally see saw that 26 mile
marker for myself, my momentary
upsurge of pride,
elation, and relief was are swallowed
by the realization of
.2 miles
yet to go!. Oh no!

But everything I brought
to sustain me for 26 miles
I had have used up already,
all my good intentions gone,
both water bottles empty, and I had
consumed every
bite-sized bit of energy bar
consumed, plus and all the Cheerios.

My physical stamina was is long-since depleted,

and I ran run solely on emotional energy now,

and that too wanes. was waning. fast

My right IT band was is tearing away
the knee, and my stomach
was is
painfully bloated
painfully. What fuel was is left
that I could can use?

A tiny voice inside me whispers, Rage?.
Yes, of course, why not rage against the dying light?.
Like so many other times before, Wwhen all else fails me,
can carryiesd me over what felt feels like
the final .2 miles of my life.
Whatever works.

No one can ever take that away what I have accomplished
so far,
from me, nor the understanding body certainty
that long distance goals
are really short distance goals
when taken daily,
further divisible into
one step at a time,
and then
the next.

I have am not finished yet. I earned am still earning
every painful step of these final .2 miles
before I can be greeted at the queen's gate of an ancient queen.
I still run the marathon, and know that sometimes
just maintaining
forward momentum has got to be enough.




Thursday, April 8, 2010

NaPoWriMo ~ Week 2

I've never written so much poetry at once, not even in creative retreat. I'm more-or-less thrilled with the 7 poems I've written so far. All 7 are in various degrees of first-draftness, but some have potential for further development--after this break-neck pace is over.

Ok, week 2. Inhale. Here goes...

turning tide




DAY 3 ~ French Quarter Fest
Sexy, sexy people
and not so sexy people
dancing, nodding,
rocking side-to-side,
clapping, or doing
the Funky Butt

to a kind of musical hybrid
that can flourish only
in New Orleans:
calliope and the Blues,
Zydeco Bounce,
or the world's premier trio
of steel guitar, sousaphone,
and washboard.

Salt peanuts for sale
or a painted face.
Let's catch that crawfish
eating competition
and then grab a beer~always
a Big Ass beer.

Grateful for sunglasses
dimming the glare
off of the river
but regretting the lack
of sunscreen. Oh well,
you'll look luminous
dancing tonight.

What use are empty hands?

Better for clawing digging up through soil.
No premature graves for me!

Better for cupping water
to my thirsty lips.

Better for reaching out holding hands
with to someone else.

Better for touching,
pushing, throwing
and holding myself together.

Better Good for waving goodbye.
Best for caressing!

DAY 1 ~ Where the Industrial Canal Meets the River
At the point
where waters merge,
green grapples brown,
and breezes buffet my
face and body on all
sides at once.

On the water side, the levee
slopes down to rocks
clashing like Caligula
with the tide.
Foolish kings. Water will
have its way.

But on the levee's
grassy side, the pom-pom heads
of clover, grown high, nod
vigorously with the winds
like a million angels dancing.

And in between both sides,
lies a middle path
paved in
broken oyster shells,
bumpy on my bike, and narrow,
seldom straight.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NaPoWriMo ~ Week 1

April is National Poetry Writing Month, and I'm participating in a nationwide group write: a poem a day for the next 30 days. Hmm... Sounds intimidating. But here I am, tossing my hat into the ring. Check this blog now and then,

Text color indicates work in progress. White text is the original impulse for a particular day. Gray/black text is a deletion. And green text is new since the original impulse.

Where waters merge
green meets brown,
and the breeze buffets
my face and body
from all sides at once.

Clumps of clover grown high
on the incline of the levee
shudder, but on the water side
are rocks
like Caligula
with the tide.

Foolish king.
Water will have its way.

Whispering begins in the raffia friction
of last year's fronds, stubbornly refusing
to fall from the tallest palms.

Then bamboo rustles her taffeta leaves
as the
pipes that dangle from the eaves
begin to chime.

Wind animates them all,
with desire
at the roots of everything.

Why then should I let go of desire, let go
of it all~to crossover into Nirvana
or some other sweet oblivion?

Who would ever want to leave
these trees, this wind, those chimes?

DAY 5 ~ (Unasked-for) Advice for Writers
You are a writer
only when you write.
You are a Writer
only when you revise.

Learn to write
by writing,
then re-writing,
and by reading the Greats.
Listen when writers talk,
especially about writing.

Don't wait for inspiration.
Find inspiration in your writing.

Don't write to earn
gain love.
Love what you write.

Don't write to be
get published.
Just do your best work.
Have something to say.
Say it well.
But never worry about
Voice. That is a Marketing term.

Write to weave
patterns, to create order,
to construct meaning~
because meaning, like story,
is a constructed thing.

Write because
your days are haunted
by words, images, and emotions~
inside the private theater
of memory.

Write because, like me,
you have no choice
but to unburden yourself heart
of our
aching this barely endurable
love for this our phenomenal

Easter Sunday DAY 4 ~
A Poem by Frederick Mead
cConfessional tone.
sSexual longing.
sSpiritual groping.

I awake every morning
for an angel's burning kiss
or a poem on my lips~
aching to feel Chosen.

And so I start my day
constructing my voice
from all the available accents~
stout-hearted, yet guarded lest
my fragility show, armored
by personality.

I speak
iron, plainly,
volcanic sounds
from deep within my
lungs of fire,
words hammer-forged
inside the cavern
of my mouth.

I make seek
expressing meaning
through rhythm
or repetition,
near rhyme, or
the telling silence,
in structures meant to
and delight

You my
first Muse top banana
of in
my Pantheon cosmology, world order,
even though you might
never grasp my meaning
across the our gap
of language.


Fluttering hummingbird
heartbeats pulse felt

where skin presses
skin, bodies together
in pleasure, beating out the
syncopated measures of
Want, want, I want!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Word Temples

Recently I learned that the Chinese symbol for "poem" is comprised of 2 characters that mean "word" and "temple". A poem is a word temple.


In the beginning is
the deed. For compassion is
is more than a noun, more than
emotion, a brief distress
for the Other's distress
that yet

slyly eludes escapes the ache of insistent ache of
Bodhichitta ~ the that spirit of compassion,
that which yearns only to cherish Other ~
but rather, escapes eludes through the loophole
of misdirected

Instead, lLet compassion become
a verb, a clarifying bell
calling the mind to action, or a gaze
penetrating through to a more pure land,
a New Jerusalem
where compassion and sympathetic actions are the
are the true measures
of righteousness.

For faith without works
is dead faith, a life-less statue
erected in the posture of faith
but worshiped inside
a temple
made of words.

Let compassion fly!
Let compassion be the winged horse
that carries us forward, all of us,
towards our mutual salvation.
All of us,


Word Temple

In the beginning, is
the deed.
For compassion is
more than a feeling,
more than emotion,
a brief distress
for the Other's distress
that yet eludes the aching call
of aching bodhichitta
through the choice of misguided misdirected

Instead, let compassion be
a verb, the clarifying bell that calls
the mind to action,
or the penetrating gaze into
a more pure land, a New Jerusalem
where sympathetic action
is the true measure
of righteousness.

For faith without works
is dead faith, a life-less statue
erected in the posture of faith
but worshipped inside a temples
made of words.

Oh let compassion fly!
Let compassion be the winged horse
that carries us forward, all of us,
toward our mutual salvation.
All of us


In the beginning, is
the deed.
For compassion is

more than a feeling we feel,
more than an emotional state,
a brief distress over for another's distress,
but inhabiting word temples,
confusing evading but eluding the ache of achy

that yet eludes the aching call of bodhichitta
for non-involvement misplaced misguided non-attachment.

Instead, cCLInstead, let compassion be should be
a verb, a the clarifying bell

that calls our minds the mind to action,
a the burning glimpse
into a more pure land,
a the New Jerusalem
where sympathy sympathetic action
is the true measure
of righteousness.

For faith without works
is dead faith, a life-less statue
erected in the posture

of spirituality,
inside a temple

made of words.

Oh let compassion free!

Let compassion it be
a the winged horse
that carries us all forward, all of us,
towards our mutual salvation.
All of us