Follow by Email

Friday, March 9, 2018

Inspired by Rossetti to Explain Ekphrastic

A friend and I were discussing ekphrastic poetry the other day, but the word ekphrastic had escaped those file folders in my mind. The more I tried to describe what I meant, the more it sounded like I had no idea and my words kept dragging me farther and farther down a rabbit hole. (I even have two poems from a few years ago that appeared in an ekphrastic anthology It's called The Way the Light Slants and it could use a few reviews. Take a look.) Honestly, even though it’s a device I use often, the word ekphrastic doesn’t ring a bell from my memories of high school or college English. According to Wikipedia, “In ancient times it referred to a description of anything,” this of course, I think is hilarious.
 So even after reading the fancy online descriptions about ekphrastic poetry, I’m thinking the word is bandied about to alienate the average poet from those who have a higher, perhaps snobbier idea of literature. Can you hear my audible sigh?

 Poetry should be for everyone.
 By Dante Gabriel Rossetti
 Of course, a great vocabulary can elevate poetry to higher, more sophisticated levels. Readers, who enjoy poetry, are smart enough to figure out what a writer is trying to communicate by rereading the work several times, or by looking things up. Understandably, there are times when the writing is so personal that readers can’t relate. With ekphrastic poetry, they may get a clue. A photograph, drawing or a video is described in detail, as a moment to share, thus making it even easier to understand. In simple language:  it’s poetry written about a picture.

This brings me to the works of Dante Rossetti, an artist who lived from 1828-1882. All his paintings feature women with the most interesting expressions. His paintings remain so inspiring that I think I could write a poem about all of them. He was in fact, hired to illustrate poetry books and he also wrote romantic sonnets. Mere words however, would certainly fall short of his delicate portrayal of
the gorgeous beauties he painted. Still, someday, I’d like to attempt a few ekphrastic poems on the whims, personal thoughts and deepest desires of his glorious subjects. Maybe a publisher should put together a poetry anthology based on this idea because everyone’s perspective on these attractive ladies would be original.
Have you ever written an ekphrastic poem?

Monday, February 19, 2018

To Snuggle or Cuddle? A Post Valentine Post.

We had our 25th Anniversary last October, which to me anyway, sounds like a huge achievement. There are many factors at work here, but one of them might be these darn blanket fairies, because in all this time, I haven't blamed husband for stealing my section of the covers. Actually, I finally said something, for the first time, and then I drew the silly picture and wrote the sillier poem. After all, how can I wake up with icicle toes and not complain? 

Blanket Fairies

The darkest part of winter,
we’ve the thickest blanket on the bed,
they sneak inside our home,
since the year we were wed.

And though they never fail
to toss things around.
It seems quite unusual,
they never make a sound.

Though we shiver,
our toes are cold,
we reach for each other,
a true love to hold.

One night before they go,
after thirty years or so,
maybe we’ll open our eyes and catch them,
pushing our covers to the floor.

Eve Gaal

Have you had visits from the blanket fairies this winter?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day & Happy New Year!

In case,
you overhear me saying:
I love your freckled nose,
your adorable ears,
and those slender legs.

In case,
you hear me jabbering about your whiskers,
your soulful eyes,
and your soft golden coat.

Rest assured the
I'm talking about,
look like this:

or like this:

Because my actual, human Valentine
 hears mush from me every day of the year!
The YEAR of the Yellow dog begins on February 16th!
Happy Chinese New Year!!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Beyond Luck

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Even the most controlling person in the world, say a four-star General or a CEO, knows that you can’t control everything. Americans feel that way about elections. People who work on live television know they can’t control everything. Go to the intensive care unit and talk to a heart specialist or an oncologist. Nope, can’t control the outcomes. Sadly, even pediatric units are full of young patients.

 But take a person to Vegas and suddenly everyone thinks they can control the odds. They are going to win because they are not losers. They have saved and scrimped so they can win a poker championship or slot tournament and yet, most of the time, in the final minutes, something happens that takes it all away. Every nickel, penny and quarter, not to mention dollar, is gone like a poof of smoke in a magic show. And yet, we don’t give up taking risks. We jaywalk, smoke cigarettes and eat fattening foods. Life is a gamble, isn’t it?

I used to think so. Each time we buckled into our cars, stepped off a curb or took a flight. It all appeared to be a game of chance. Every shopping cart is a 50-50 toss-up regarding germs. Would it be paranoid to think that the percentage against me on handshakes could have been deadly? Maybe it was luck. I had to be lucky to have reached my destinations. I even survived some surgeries. So far, I’m half-way through flu-season and the odds are good, but something tells me it’s not about me being Lady Luck. Sometimes I’m lucky but sometimes I’m not lucky at all.  

Of course, there are superstitions that also work on us everyday. What if we’re booked onto the thirteenth floor? What if the saltshaker is knocked over? Or you step on a crack? What if I didn’t wear my lucky necklace? Or carry my favorite purse? These can continue without end: Leprechauns? Angels? Fairies? Saints? Talismans? Gnomes? Odin? I’ve known sales people who had to run home for their favorite pen before a workday could begin. Don’t most of us have a lucky coin? A rabbit’s foot?  Or a four-leaf clover? Add in horoscopes and the Chinese fortune cookies and pretty soon, you have a massive variety of distractions raising the odds.

Or you can slow down and pray, but I doubt that will give you triple sevens. Right now, I’m working on my manuscript, Penniless Souls, which takes place in Las Vegas. My fictional characters are torn between taking chances and having faith in God. As a woman of faith, I have to admit my love for angels. Which means the people populating my book can be as lucky as I want them to be. Or not. 

Human frailty blows away at the first strong gust of wind, but God's will is solid as granite.  He is love, and works in mysterious ways. His will prevails over our measly wishes.

Don't you think that sometimes, what we perceive as winning, may not be winning at all?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

In The Ink--Flash Fiction

I wrote this silly story in 2016 as a visitor to my friend Dan’s blog. After re-reading it, I thought it funny enough to share on my blog.

In the Ink

“So what happened?”

“Not so sure because everything had become pitch black. Frightening at first, the sound of my heart thumping in my ears, my throbbing head, quivering limbs and my mouth spitting up something I took for blood. But as you can see, I’m fine. It wasn’t blood.”

“Yes. And then what happened?”

 “I heard the laughter of children playing outside. I dropped my pen and couldn’t see my hand. A loud mosquito buzzed my left ear. I heard the rustle of trees in the wind and the sound of water cascading over boulders. Even though I love dogs, there was a continuous and annoying barrage of bad dogs barking and filling in all the quieter moments. I heard cries and screams of sorrow. Later, I heard an ambulance and some more sobbing. Footsteps-- hectic and hurried--macabre steps scurried around with important things to do. I heard screams and squeaking wheels. I felt nothing.”

“Did you smell anything?”

“The mild smell of ink maybe—but don’t forget I’m a fiction writer.”

“Interesting. Do you buy your ink at the warehouse club store?”

“Yes, writers need to be prepared. It comes in these large vats. I go there for great deals on mayonnaise too.

“The ink--blue or black?”

“Jet black.”

(Amazon photo)
“A-huh. Do you drink?”  
“No sir.”



“Mr. Johnson, please don’t be offended at my diagnosis. The hospital insisted you speak to me and the only thing I can see is that you fell into your ink.”

“What? $200 an hour and that’s the best you can come up with?”

“I’m afraid so. Get some sleep. Your characters must be keeping you awake. Be careful next time and good luck with your writing career.”

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Amazing Grace

I Once Was Blind but Now I SEE

The other day I related a story to some friends about something that happened during my daily walk. As a person who enjoys poetry, I’m always looking for that symbolic connection and the mysterious meaning behind the vague metaphor. Especially when I’m alone and it feels like a personal message. My friends called this a “God Story.”

Corvids of some sort looked like they were squabbling over a small bottle. At first, I thought it was a Christmas bulb but the bird who won possession flew across the street in my direction. He landed on a tall lamppost that I’d soon be approaching. He made sounds and seemed excited. I’m glad I kept an eye on this wild looking crow, because at this point, he eagerly flapped his wings and even went to the bathroom before I wandered near. At the exact moment I passed the lamppost, he dropped his prize into the gutter, which, had I stopped, would have landed directly next to me. Wondering what type of bottle it was and what it contained, but not curious enough to stop, I continued my journey. Thinking back, it seemed the bird wanted to communicate something.

 Once home, I told the story to my husband. He had a flurry of interesting questions about this somewhat unimportant event, but suggested it needed a conclusion. He asked what I thought was in the container and I said it might be nail glue. Discussing it made both of us curious, so I decided that if the bottle would be there the next day, then I would take a better look in order to answer some of our questions.

There it was in the same place the bird had left it, under the same lamppost. I bent down to see the label and it said: Sterile Eye Drops. And that’s when it hit me. Tears. A bottle of tears.

To me, with so much sadness in the world right now, it sounds important.
Is it a cry for help from the other side?
Could it be a gentle reminder to focus or to keep my perception clear?

What about you?

What if you experienced the same thing? Would you think this means something? 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Happy New Year--Stay Warm & Safe

Finally, there’s some rain in California. Normally this is exciting, wonderful news, but after all the fires, there are now mudslides threatening homes all over the place. And, while I can poetically dive into my daydreams that wax on about the promise of spring around the corner and the flowers that will cover everything in happiness, the television news reminds me that winter still has a few tricks up his or her cold, wet sleeves.

How can I complain when my friends in the East are bundling up like Inuits and snow is covering everything in white?  I have to admit, it looks beautiful from my heated living room. Even nicer when I’m holding a cup of hot cocoa with whipped topping. Sorry.

Wait a minute; I don’t need the television news to remind me of rain and cooler temperatures when I have two pooches telling me to switch channels immediately. What happened to the sunshine they seem to ask with pleading eyes? Where are the patches of warm soil and the cool grass that tickles our underbellies? And what's with the weird sweaters?
 What have you done MOMMY?
Fiona and Pinky 

 Poor pups.

Happy New Year and trust me even with my first name being Eve,
 I have nothing to do with the weather. 
PSA: Please remember, if you're cold outside, then your pets are cold too. Try and take them inside or at least into a garage, shed or barn. They will appreciate your kindness.