Aerial View of Camden, New Jersey, 2012

benfranklin bridge

“In a dream I saw a city invincible.”

-Walt Whitman
(inscribed on the walls of Camden City Hall
where the great American poet spent his final years.)

View of Camden, 2104

From an aerial view, the city appears blighted
gray smoke from the Ben Franklin Bridge south
even Philly, north, fares better, those sharp-witted
lights of brilliant history.

Boarded row home. Poppy packs powder in zip-locs,
loads them into his son’s backpack, soft and squishy,
explosives up middle-school noses. Says don’t come
home without the money. Daughter struggles with
homework. Poppy says don’t bother. Not necessary.

Red brick school building. Demolition red. Teacher sets
a timer, gestures students back to their desks
for silent independent reading. She pulls out her
own Sue Grafton novel. Teacher example. Yolanda
swears in Spanish. Home language so teacher ignores.
And reads on….

Kinsey Milhone, lady detective, draws her gun
and foils the robber’s break-in…

Quason grunts, takes out his high interest, low-level
book. Snorts from the rest, but they follow…

Kinsey drives her Volkswagon down a Santa Barbara
sea side road. Wind sprays the ocean, colors are warm golden hues…

Someone passes gas. Laughter shatters, fingers pinch noses.
Teacher rolls her eyes, keeps reading. Flies swerve around Joey’s
book bag. Teacher wishes to be Kinsey.

For twenty minutes sixteen troubled students pretend to read,
sleep, swat flies. One teacher gets lost in a world where
lady detectives solve all the problems.

-Leigh Mackelvey



Saturday Strem of Conciuosness Prompt: Get-a-Long Little Doggie

socs-badgeToday’s Prompt given by Linda is the word “go”

Please see her page for Rules and Join Us!

Get- a-Long Little Doggie

Not dog poop in  my yard,
Not dog poop anywhere at all.
If it’s fresh, the odor calls,
let’s one know where not
to let your foot fall.
Old poop gives no hint,
no print, no reason
to sprint far or
to avoid to aim
your handlebars.
So go away, please don’t
play in my nice yard,
disregard my garden chard.
Get-a-long little doggie,
and when you go,
don’t bother to send
a good-bye card.

When Sister Mary Prays



Never take your prayer for granted.

I’m at my computer praying right now for God to write through me. I often pray that it will be what He wants me to write, not what I want to write.

To ask Him to write through me simply means that because I’ve accepted Christ,  a part of God lives in me. Not that I’m a “small god” or anything like that. His  love and His power through His spirit is in me to help guide and protect me while I travel through this thing called life. I’ve accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He died in place of me because I’m not holy enough (no matter how many sacrifices or good works I do for God on my own) to deserve His forgiveness. The thing is, Jesus came to die for me and for anyone on this earth who desires forgiveness because He is the only perfect and holy sacrifice. He is worthy .He came to give us the news that God loves us enough to save us through His son. We don’t have to earn His love, or to be good enough to go Heaven. None us can ever be good enough. It sounds much too simple, and it is to a point. See, when I accepted Christ in my place and was forgiven by God, I was given His grace and mercy. Not to mention eternal life. God’s mercy, His grace, and the fact that I will someday die physically, but will live eternally with God and not apart from Him in Hell,  is a HUGE THING. And I can’t just go on living willy nilly,…being the same old me. If you really accept Christ, you no longer want to be that same old me….or you. God’s love in you gives you a desire to love others, to do good works, to obey God…not to get to heaven, but because He is changing you to be more like Christ. One of those changes is to ask Him continually to live His life through you. And to get where I want to get in this blog ( finally) I did some explanation before getting around to the reason for this specific post.

But it’s all for good, because I wanted you to understand why things happen when Sister Mary prays.  She has faith in the power of prayer because  she accepted Christ. She prayed for the suffering and the sick people of her community. God’s love inside her gave her a strong desire to pray. Because she prayed, thousands of people in her village in South Asia were led to Christ and their lives were transformed in many different ways. It started when God healed Sister Mary’s of a painful stomach disease. She experienced God’s power to heal and she just had to tell others. And…to pray for them. She didn’t take her prayers for granted. She knew God heard them all.

Mary, a simple wife and mother, tells her exciting story in the video below. I invite you to hear how God works in His people.

“When Sister Mary Prays” Video:

Your prayer can also transform lives. Pray for the peoples in Asia who are widows, orphans, children. They need your prayers and your help. Remember, too, if you have never accepted the simple Gospel of Jesus, along with living a not so simple life on earth for Him, you can come before Him at any time, and anywhere you are. Ask for His grace and mercy by admitting that like me, you are not holy enough and that you need Jesus. He will be Holy in your place!

Find out more ways to pray for South Asia at



On Writing: Revision is Good for the Soul




“This morning I took the hyphen out of Hell-bound and this afternoon I put it back.”

                                   –Edwin Arlington Robinson



You have to get the words right. EASY? HARD.   Right?

In order to get the words right, revision must become an integral part of your writing process. Experienced writers understand that writing is not all luck and talent. The turning of early drafts into worthy works requires a certain power. The power that lifts those early drafts off your desk and raises them into published poems or best-selling books is …you guessed it…revision.

I love the definition of revision that was given to me by a writer I admire. I’m sure he got it from another successful writer. He told me that revision is re-seeing. It’s taking a new look at your work and trying to see it a different way. It’s seeing the problems and solving them. It’s taking a good page of prose or a stanza (for poets) and seeing it better. Do you want to start with that first paragraph or do you want to start with the third paragraph instead. The first paragraph is well written, but is it necessary? Maybe it was good for the scaffolding of the piece, but can it be torn down now because the real structure begins with the third paragraph? You needed the scaffold in order to build. Just like the scaffolding you see around houses or buildings. When the house is ready to be sold, the scaffolding is torn down. The scaffolding of your writing was necessary, but go ahead and tear it down to make the writing a finished product.

I find it hard to eliminate words or paragraphs or even whole parts of my writing.  I’m primarily a poet. When I ask someone to give me constructive feedback of a poem I’ve written, I cringe when they suggest that I really don’t need that first stanza or that extra word in the second stanza. I don’t think  writers really enjoy getting suggestions of change, but we know critique is critical. You take the feedback with you back to the revision table and weigh it by re-seeing your writing as you use the feedback. Does it help or not? It’s the writer who, after trying out the feedback, decides…not that fabulous person who was so kind to read your work and give you suggestions. It is always great when you can find someone you trust who is willing to read and give suggestions and I always thank them. Most of the time I see that they were right, thus making my poem more powerful or more lyrical or clearer than it was.

It’s okay to revise as you write. Unless…you’re freewriting first. Freewriting is for jotting down all your thoughts and words without stopping to revise. I free-write using pen and paper, not the computer. I will post about freewriting another time, but just briefly this: My bachelor’s degree and teaching certification is in Special Education. Many of my students have learning disabilities. I was trained in the left brain/right brain functions. I learned a technique that calls for a student using the right hand (of left, depending) to stand before the chalkboard or white board and write circles, then letters by taking the chalk (marker) reaching from left to right or vice versa. The point of this is that something in the motion of writing using your hand and arm causes stronger, more creative writing to occur. It acts on the language portion of your brain and strengthens it. So when I free-write using pen and paper, I am somehow subconsciously strengthening language and creativity. I will revise or write my first draft on the computer.

Lots of writers think awhile before they start. This is where revision occurs before words are written. By thinking, the writer is trying out lines and paragraphs in their heads. They think while they lift weights, wash the dishes, read books or talk to friends. They gain and throw-out ideas and structure before they even write one word. This is the also a part of the revision process. I do this, but I also do it after I have written a first draft. I wait for a few days or even a week by putting aside my draft. I continue to revise in my head while doing daily chores. Sometimes something wonderful in the way of language comes while I’m making my bed!

“I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first draft. But I’m one of world’s great rewriters.”      -James Michener

How many times does one revise? I know writers who revise at least 15-20 times before they are satisfied. I don’t have the patience, but I’m working on it.  If you have a beauty of a first draft, maybe you don’t need to make a lot or any revisions. But you need to at least re-see your work. It’s also best to find someone you can trust to read and give feedback. Perhaps it’s not going to be a family member. Sometimes family will look at what you’ve done, and love it every time because they love you. If you know a writer you respect and admire, maybe you can partner up and read each other’s work. A writing group is a great way to become a member of a writing community weekly or monthly. You will learn to know who in your group will give valuable critique and to filter out.

“There are days when the result is so bad that no fewer than five revisions are required. In contrast, when I’m greatly inspired, only four revisions are needed.”     -John Kenneth Galbraith

Hemingway: I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms 39. The last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had you stumped?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.

Yes, it’s that simple, yet, that hard.

Following are some things to consider when revising a piece.(adapted from Writing True  by Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz)

*Adjust the Voice: Read your piece aloud to detect an inconsistent or unconvincing voice.
*Face the dragon: Is there a dragon, a conflict, a critical revelation, that you’re avoiding Do you skirt around the central issue instead of facing it?Have you tacked on a happy ending rather than clos with a truer sense of ambivalence or argument
Sharpen the focus: Does your piece have a central focus, or does it split into fragments. What is the is piece really about?
*Tune your language: look for clichés and truisms and reach for fresh, originals ways of saying what you mean.
*Write for your toughest reader: Imagine a reader who is discerning but fair, curious and rigorous. (I have been told that when you think of whom your audience will be imagine that they are a least as intelligent you are—this from me, not the authors above.)
*Copy-Edit with care: use spell check or have someone proofread. Pay attention to subject/verb agreement, correct punctuation. This line-by –line editing should come after more substantial revision is finished. 

Advise to writers from George Orwell (From Politics and the English Language)

*Never use a metaphor, simile. or other figurative of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

*Never use a long word where a short one will suffice.

*If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out.

*Never us a passive where you can use the active.

* Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

*Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

*Never use a metaphor, simile. or other figurative of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

*Never use a long word where a short one will suffice.

*If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out.

*Never us a passive where you can use the active.

* Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

*Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Finally, learn to enjoy the revision process. Writing is a process. There is much research among scholars on exactly how we process our writing. Learn what works best for you, what gives you the most satisfaction while writing and leaves with a “knowing” that you have created, in fact, MADE something creative. Writing is a made thing, just like a painting is made by an artist,  pottery is made by a potter or a house is built by a contractor. It never “just happens”, does it? Well, it doesn’t for me. We discover tools to use when we make our writing. Best of all, we discover ourselves through our writing.








Inaccesible: Saturday Stream of Conciousness

Saturday Stream of Consciousness   >>>Please join us on the link below for directions!

The Prompt for today is a word that has the prefix -in-.


Discussions of poetry sometimes center on whether the door of the poem is
locked, unlocked, or can be pushed open after some effort?

The preferred door is the one that takes a person of some strength to gain entrance.
I fell over a tree stump and hurt my back
can be unlocked by a small baby, weak and mewling.

Hospital       need     maybe    

                                                Oh, my                 no       help     the heavens open

requires a sumo wrestler to break down the door.

Billy Collins is referred to as an accessible poet.
Anyone can come in,have a cup of tea,
a conversation, and leave with no questions in mind.

Allen Ginsburg will bar the door with a heavy armoire and place
on top three sixty pound barbells.  Streams of consciousness flow
down his paper, rivulets, drops, and oceans undammed. At times, inaccessible.

Ah, but the poem that lets you in the door after a push, takes you to a place somewhere in your life you’ve been before and then leaves you to ponder long after you’ve read ….. that’s the poem all poets strive to accomplish.

This, my friends, was not that poem.


I Need a Drink of Water/Saturday Stream of Consciousness Prompt

Stream of consciousness Saturday: Following a prompt and writing without stopping and editing. Join us! ( link at the bottom)

Prompt for this one was “water”.


I Need a Drink of Water

“Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink.” There was a time when I felt like the ancient mariner whose words Coleridge wrote. Except, it’s not quite true. I had a water faucet, a bottle of water in the fridge. I could “drink”, but my inner thirst for water wasn’t quenched.  What I was panting for was “living water.” I wanted it to be poured down my throat and fill the emptiness inside. Plain old water never really did anything for that ache, that gap, that part of me dying of thirst. Not physically dying, but spiritually…on the way to the grave yard. I now believe that God creates a space, a kind of drought inside us that can’t be filled with things of this world. I sure tried to swallow lust, money, my job, my relationships, but the drought remained for years.

I was searching, following, hunting, for a soothing drink of water that would take away the emptiness. I knew about Jesus and always prayed to God. But I never understood what Christ had done for me. Never stopped trying to be good enough.

I couldn’t be good enough, so I tried being bad. Badness got me nowhere, but into trouble, while the hole inside just got bigger and harder to fill. It was fun for a while, but didn’t quench my thirst. Nothing really did.

I read somewhere that every human being is made up of a high percentage of water. I believe that. I’m  drawn to the ocean, the lake, bays, rivers, and even small ponds where the sun shines on and wind ripples across the surface. I find peace in water. Yet the sun shined merely on the surface. Inside, there was no shining, no ripples, no water.

Finally I searched in the right place. God’s Word, the Bible. Once I understood my relationship to Jesus Christ and that He, Himself, is Living Water, I let Him pour it on me. Daily. I began to feel full. My heart was no longer parched. I began to really live life and to be come alive spiritually. Oh, I still live in a world of circumstances that are difficult, but because that hole inside is filled, I go through to the other side of hard times with more confidence, more joy, and the living water is like a fountain overflowing; washing out all fear.  Though the earth may shake, the rivers overflow and the fire rage, I know God will not move away. He won’t let me drown in the rivers, and I won’t get burnt in the fire.




Join the Saturday Stream of Consciousness prompt. It’s a great way to get the juices flowing every week. Click the link below for directions and to read what other bloggers write from the prompt.



Prompt was bat, bet, bit, bot, but ( this was hard and it’s certainly a free write all the way…I’d change a lot of it!)

Anniversary Dinner

But you never look at me
when we talk
we eat
we go out to a party,

she said and scooped out his eyeball,
plopped  it  onto the olive pate and served it to him.

Bet you still haven’t washed
my baseball uniform
my gym bag
my plaid pants I love,

he said and cut off  her hands
fed them to her one at a time

Bats are more romantic than you
she said and carved out his heart

Bit by bit you’ve torn us apart
he said, took a steak knife and returned the favor.

Bot a ciggie from you?
the waiter asked as he cleaned up the blood,