Saturday, February 10, 2018

THIS WEEK: A Poem as Reminder to Self

Yeah, Valentine's Day has not been among my top holidays, and it always seems like my feelings of being left out are greatest at this time of year. It's not just about romance. It's a sense of "me also" that creeps into different sphere's of my life until I suddenly sit back and go "what am I doing? Why am I so vulnerable?"

So while working on what was supposed to be this week's story, I had to stop and slap myself.  Out came a poem as a reminder.  Almost every time I get in this mindset, I end up disappointed by what I thought I wanted.  So much of our current culture, through social media, is infused with "look at me!" (she says just before she pushes this post out on it - gack!)

Still, writing the poem was cathartic. It was a good reminder that at the top of my Valentine's Day list should be remembering to love myself, and check that proverbial glass - remembering to note the part that is full, not just the other bit.


Reminding Myself
by Judith Cullen

A conversation,
a convocation,
a somewhere that you are not.

A conflagration,
of contemplation,
you should be there, without doubt.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

THIS WEEK: A Poem about NOT Writing a Poem

It seems an odd thing to say, doesn't it?

I truly began the week with a poem roiling inside of me - heart, head, and gut. It claimed it wanted to be written, but it would not take on any form or direction. I couldn't grab hold of enough of it to begin to see its shape. It kept running around, and around with no resolution or purpose. I fear I am not skilled enough to write wild, free range, circular verse.

When the wanna-be poem came round again - dashing by and blowing raspberries as it passed - I finally grasped just a shred of it.  It struggled and jeered against my tentative clinch, and the thought hit me, "Some poems are private."

PING!  A poem inspired by not being able to write a poem.


Secret Poetry
by Judith Cullen
© 2018

Some poems are public.

Open declamations, innermost
extrapolations, interpreted candidly
for all to experience.
Amplified pronouncements
of passionate embraces, or losses.
Over sights bare for scrutiny.

Some poems are private.

Never fashioned for liberty,
wrapped in lavender scented tissue.
Dubious rhymes sliding
securely beneath stacked socks.
Free verse that you rehearse
for an audience of no body.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

THIS WEEK: A Moment of Danger and Grace *New Story*

A new story for a chilly winter, this week . . .

One More Night
by Judith Cullen
© 2018

It was freezing cold, and the windows rattled as the wind ricocheted down the street, bouncing off every house and shaking every tree.  Freezing was not an exaggeration.  This was the American Mid-west at winter's height, and Dee only had to get within a few feet of any window to feel the deep chill.  In her little apartment, a few feet from any window didn't leave much of a warm zone.  Still, it was warmer in here than outside.  She rummaged through the small cupboard and the old fridge for soup makings, listening to the rock and roll of the wind.

When she'd come here for graduate school, she had chosen not to live on campus.  Dee was ready to be independent.  She'd come over 2000 miles to make an everyday adult life of her own, while she studied.  It hadn't worked out like she'd hoped.  Her "convenience" apartment was only slightly larger than her dorm room had been in undergraduate school. The convenience, Dee mused, was that you weren't more than a few steps from anything.  You had to go outside to change your mind, she liked to joke.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

THIS WEEK: A Poem Inspired by Virtuality

I have been active in virtual worlds for nearly a decade now.  They are great palettes for creativity, a great way to extend your reach, meet new and different people, play, laugh.  And they have saved my sanity more than once in what has been a pretty challenging ten years.

But like any online experience, there are pitfalls: not everyone is what they seem to be, and not everyone has the same ethical standards. You tend to color the outline of who someone is from your own crayon box, which isn't always relevant to who they really are. Some people are outright frauds - people who are actually role playing without warning you that it is a game to them.

In many ways it is everyday life, distilled and intensified, with a convenient (but not terminal) log out button in the upper right hand corner.  Because while the following poem was inspired by my virtual experiences of the last decade, I have also met people in everyday life who are not what they seem, who play a part, whose ethical standards are not the same ones I hold.  It's just harder to maintain the illusion in the cool, clear air of reality.

The Rules of Roleplay
by Judith Cullen
© 2018

There are always rules,
for any given role play:
specific points for specific play.
These clothes, but not those;
Roles can do this, but not that;
I know her, but never him.

There are always rules
to the way you role play:
Public is always "in play";
back line is for personal,
the private place for real,
for stepping aside.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A NEW YEAR: New Stories

A promise to myself whose fulfilling has begun: write. I begin this still fresh and shiny new year with a brief musing on the nature of gifts.

The Bag
by Judith Cullen
© 2018

It was not really what I had in mind when I asked for a small purse.  For years it has been my habit to carry something clutch-sized, smaller when I could, and have a larger bag in which I carried all the stereotypical what-nots that the "prepared" woman is reputed to have at her fingertips: sewing kit, flashlight, Band-Aids, aspirin, tiny hand tools, battery-operated devices to fold space and time.  You know the litany.  I would carry these supposed accoutrements of womanhood in a larger bag - the small purse inside it -  and when I went into stores and such I would take the purse out and only carry that.  Likewise, if I ventured out and was only going to a single store destination, say the grocery, I would leave the bag at home and only take the purse.  This was my pattern: agile and flexible.  I had worn out decades full of large bags, and small purses, with this modus operandi

I needed a new purse.  The current one had been make-do for longer than I intended, and its strap (for wearing bandolier style, my preference) had long since broken.  I never really even liked the color, an unimaginatively dull navy that pretended like it wanted to be a light black.  My larger bag was also showing signs of wear, but it would last a while longer. So, I dared to add the request for a small leather-like purse with a shoulder strap to my Christmas wish list.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

PROCTOR ARTSFEST 2017 ~ Art Inspired Stories

Welcome to this year's stories and poems for the Proctor Artsfest Juried Art Show!

This is year four of this project, and this year I shared with the audience at the reading my goals for Art Inspired Stories: to get people to embrace the experiencing of visual art fearlessly so that every time they see a work, they immediately wonder what's beyond the edges, and what they would do one they arrived there.

There are 22 compositions in this year's series.  Fourteen of them were read at the show on Saturday, August 5th. As always, some stories are more poetry, others more prose.  Some are esoteric or philosophical, and some are just plain silly. Some are simply dialogue.  Some stories shouted at me right away, and some whispered that there was an idea there if only I was brave enough to seek it out.

Stories read at the show are denoted with **

Pieces Created for the Proctor ArtsFest 2017
Juried Art Show
 Note: All Stories & Poems are © 2017 by Judith Cullen
Use of any of the photo images on this page without the express permission 
of the individual artists is strictly prohibited

After Election Day **
by Jillian Fried, Acrylic

It all seemed to clear when we marched,
Image copyrighted by the Artist 
issues were sharply contrasted
I understood the difference
between us and them.

It was self-evident when we cheered,
that the platform defined lines
of black and white
between right and wrong.

Now the cheering and the marching is over. 
The pavement is littered with confetti,
deflated balloons, crumpled cardboard
the ardor of citizen patriots.

The clarity of black and white is fading.
Shades of red and blue mixing to gray
infiltrate my sense of right and wrong
and nothing is quite as clear.

Looking with honest eyes, I don't see
opposition, I see my neighbors.
Our fervor was encouraged to embattle,
and now we are supposed to stop.

Today we are a nation.
What were we yesterday?

Blue Poppy **
by Karen Marie Petrillose, Watercolour

Coryphee of fields
Image copyrighted by the Artist 
wind-bent stems sway together
reflecting the sky

Not painted in hot
like your blossoming cousins
flaming red, orange

Stealthy, you trick us
luring with a modest blue
till we are so close

A burst of stamen
vibrant contrast catching us
off guard with brilliance

While you blithely dance
to a sacred melody
Mother earth sings you

Thursday, August 3, 2017

THE FOURTH EDITION: Art Inspired Stories at Proctor Arts

This is a project I have been doing for FOUR YEARS.  It started at Proctor ArtsFest and I am so pleased to be returning there on Saturday with a new batch of Art Inspired Stories.

In the Tacoma area?  Join me at this year's Juried Art Show for another installment of micro-fiction and poems inspired by works of visual art, in the relaxed AC cool of the Mason UMC Parlor:

Proctor ArtsFest Juried Art Show - Art Inspired Stories
Mason United Methodist Church
2710 North Madison
Saturday, August 5th at 11:30am

Check out the stories from previous shows:
Read all of the 2016 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE
Read all of the 2015 stories from Peninsula Art Leagues 13th annual Open Show HERE
Read all of the 2015 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE
Read all of the 2014 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE

The entire series of stories and poems from this year's Proctor ArtsFest Juried Art Show will be posted here at Noon, Sunday, August 6th