Monthly Archives: August 2019

The Fisher King: A Poetic Review

Oh! Ménage a’ trois,
In Gay Paree’.

A child’s prying eyes,
Combustion – but sees.

Ran away to be free.
Came back and left wanton baby.

Real family later shows up,
Stakes a claim on the pedigree.

Truths roll out about one who takes care,
Of Sonny’s grandson. She’s left with a stare.

No weapon to fight with; no plan in sight. 
After that curtain tear, no escape in the night.

Sitting still in speechless shame.
Hattie won’t have a stake on Little Sonny’s name!

Fisher King 2

Lynn M.                                                                August 31, 2019

Meeting Paule Marshall


Paule Msrdhsll

Both Paule Marshall and Toni Morrison died within days of each other.  What a great loss for the literary world!  Both women burst onto the literary scene around the time that the curtain was being pulled back to reveal positive black images in printed books.

During the mid-1980’s, we had Alice Walker’s The Color Purple to appear along with her personal endeavors to brush the dust of the works of Zora Neale Hurston.  Thus, there was the introduction of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Then, Toni Morrison eked onto the stage with Song of Solomon, Sula, Tar Baby and a host of other works.  Maya Angelou joined the jambalaya stew with her I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and a long trail of her autobiographical books dotted the horizon.

But, around that same time, I was working as a bookseller at Waldenbooks in Memphis.  I was stocking books on the shelf one day and when I saw this one cover, I stood still.  There was a sketch of this refined black woman holding her purse with pride.  I picked up the book and read the title Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall. 

Praisesong for the WidowI immediately asked the store manager if I could take it out on loan.  We could borrow books because the company understood that well- read booksellers could sell books.  Simple!  So, I rushed home that night with that book in my hand.  That was my introduction to the Author Paule Marshall!

When I finished reading it, I passed it onto my mother.  We always read the latest books together and had hearty discussions.  That was one of our enjoyments and she often accompanied me whenever I went to authors’ book signings.  We often joked and used one of the character’s lines from Praisesong for the Widow.  We imitated Thomasina Moore when she said, “Don’t get my colors up!” That meant, don’t make her angry. Oh, that book left so many indelible marks!

About ten years later, I heard that Paule Marshall would be speaking at a venue in the Chicagoland area.  We had returned to Chicago by then and my mother went with me to the event. I drove all the way from the South Suburbs to see her at ETA Creative Arts Theatre on the South Side.

When we reached the proper area, there sat Paule Marshall  with that beautiful, effervescent smile.  My mother stood to the side and said, “I just want to stand here and look at her.”  I laughed and got into the line for a book signing.

When I reached her, we had a brief talk.  I told her that I had taught her book, Praisesong for the Widow to a racially mixed college class.  Her eyes lit up.  I was telling her about the good but heated discussions that it had evoked and then someone came up and interrupted our conversation.  Poof!  The moment was gone just like she is now gone from our view. But the moments were memorable.

She will always be with us because she followed a Biblical command.  The Book of Habakkuk say, “Write the vision And make if plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.”(2:2)  She left her footprints behind and I will always cherish both her books and being in her presence. I have also read her other works such as Brown Girl, Brownstones and Daughters.

 After her passing last week, I went on YouTube and savored a couple of recorded interviews.  I learned that Langston Hughes was her friend and mentor. Wow! She will forever be a mentor of mine.  She is forever tangible, and her warm humor will be forever etched into my psyche.  I am currently experiencing her one more time as I slowly digest one of her last books, The Fisher King.     

Lynn M.                                                                                        August 24, 2019

Trek On!

trek onThose emotions running high,
Must take time to find a sigh!

Release bottled-up feelings,
Soar again to those ceilings.

Write, converse and talk it through,
Don’t sit and roast in the stew.

Find ways of letting it go,
Trek on. Continue to grow!


Lynn M.                                     August 17, 2019

Peace in the Storm!

Charles Dickens starts The Tale of Two Cities by saying, “It was the best of times, the worst of times...”  It makes me think of these perilous times of major uncertainty and the importance of finding peace and centers of refuge.                       peace

Level-headedness is essential to maintaining a sense of balance as we navigate the abrupt storms on the high seas of life.  We must weather these swift changes and the use of good sound mother-wit can serve as a great aid. I often think of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If.  He wrote:  

“If you can keep your head when all about you.   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”

When things seem to be spiraling out of control all around us, there is still that calm center waiting there in the midst. It would behoove us to hunker down and cleave to it with all of our might. 

Most of us have a place in our homes where we can get quiet.  We may have to minimize the use of social media and the news reports, so our clear thoughts allow our intuition to kick in and point the way.  When there is no music, no television and no silly chatter, we can get in touch with our true selves.  Our thinking crystalizes like a newly-washed drinking glass and the old, muddled ways of thinking are flushed down the drain.

Life is like walking a tight rope so we carefully place one foot in front of the other.  We don’t have the luxury of looking too far down the road to see what is coming because we could lose our equilibrium.  We must take slow, decided steps.

I read a lot because while reading, I must be still.  I am not bouncing and flitting around and spinning my wheels.  It may be an e-book or a regularly printed book but I quiet my thoughts and gain new perspectives at the same time.  I worry less and become like a lily of the field. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.” (Matthew  6:28)

 Cooking also defuses my anxiety.  As I chop each chip of an onion or a bell paper, clarity seeps in and  answers to my concerns trickle onto the scene.  More light is emitted, and I see things from other points of view.  Einstein said, “The problems we face today cannot be solved by the minds that created them.” Yes, it takes new mindsets to solve those old dilemmas.  

Spirit is always nudging and guiding us, but if we are distracted, we miss the directions that can help us.  When attuned, we can hear the warning signs that say, “Don’t go that way today or don’t call that person today.”  Later, we may discover that a disaster has indeed been averted because we adhered to that still, small voice.

Traveling on our personal paths is a methodical process and the Chinese proverb reminds us that, “A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Each single step can lead to more peace and greater understanding if we walk mindfully and take serene reprieves to gather our bearings and stay the course!

Lynn M.                                                                                                                   August 10, 2019


Catching Fireflies: A Book Review

Catching Fireflies book coverTony Rocca and his wife Mira left their London jobs and moved to Tuscany, Italy. He was a journalist and she was a travel agent, but they agreed to leave city life behind, and venture into the quaint countryside of Italy. They purchased an old farm that was in sore need of repair and love with the intent of turning it into a small hotel.

 Sounds easy enough right? Well, not really. The red tape, bureaucracy and mistrust of foreigners combined to make them think that they had made a huge mistake. They lived at another location while the repairs were being made and their landlady proved to be a thorn in their sides for many years to come. They moved into their hotel but whenever they felt that there had been some level of sabotage, they would look at each other and call the jealous woman’s name and say, “Mafalda.”

 However, they stayed the course and after going through a host of workers, they finally got the hotel up and running. There are colorful photographs in the book to show how their beloved Collelungo looked before and after its repairs. They also worked the vineyards on their property and became grape growers and sellers of fine wine. What they accomplished is just short of miraculous!

 Tony Rocca is a very descriptive writer who uses beautiful metaphors, similes and analogies as he makes his readers see and feel the Italian landscape. As I sit here listening to the late summer cicadas sing, I remember Tony writing about the sounds of the cicadas and the light from the illusive fireflies. The Italian children sang:

Firefly, firefly come to me,
I will give you the bread of the king.
The bread of the king and of the queen-
Firefly, firefly come to me.

 Interestingly, our area has an unusual amount of both cicadas and fireflies this summer. One of our local weathermen talked about watching the fireflies light up his backyard the other night and he said that we have more this year because of the rainy spring.

We used to watch the neighborhood boys catch them when I was a child. They put them in Mason jars that had holes punched in the lids so the bugs could breathe. We called them lightening bugs and it was amazing to see how they could they could turn on their lights at will.

Yet, quite like the intriguing yet short-lived fireflies, all good things must come to an end. The bureaucracy and red tape eventually caught up with the Roccas and a long-standing court case brought their Italian years to an end. They had to move on from the Collelungo, but the fond memories are forever etched in the psyches of Tony, Mira and all those that they met and touched during their twelve-year stay!

Lynn M.                     August 3, 2019