Poetry Prompt #76 Thirsty Thursday

Maybe because it’s Thursday.

Maybe because I’m thirsty.

Maybe because water isn’t cutting it, I recollected a play called The Drunkard by William Henry Smith, which brought to mind the song cowboy song Cool, Clear Water, you know the one: “Don’t you listen to him Dan/He’s a devil not a man/and he spreads the burning sand with water/Cool, clear, water….” Thus today’s 7-Minute Poetry Challenge.

Poetry Prompt #76

Thirsty Thursday

Draw inspiration from the title, Thirsty Thursday, write a poem about thirst using as many “th” words as you can throw into it.

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

Here’s to You! & Your 7-Minute Poem!

When you’re finished reward yourself with a nice tall glass of something cool. Cheers!

Thirsty Thursday Playlist:

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge more than 1037 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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Preflight: The Impetus for Change

Chances of flight delays must increase exponentially the more one flies. No doubt someone has calculated the statics.  Still, I'm always surprised and irritated (to put it mildly) when it happens to me.

“Remember when flying was glamorous and sexy, even fun?”

Village Life

“It Takes a Village…” Bless Hillary for coming up with that title.

Fish Dance!

Fish Dance!

Like Harper Lee, I have files... While preparing for Not Norman's birthday celebration (break for Glugs and a happy fish dance!)

I happened upon this unpublished post. Portentous in that I'm making travel arrangements and filling in my 2015 calendar, to DO IT-the whole Why? How? Will I? When? Waaaaaaa!-AGAIN! 

July 24, 2014: I’m just back from a month long visit with my village. My children’s book writers & readers village. It’s a mobile village. A global village. Despite that, connecting isn’t always easy. Especially living as I do with my feet and heart in many places: TT, WHB, NYC, TUL, RNO, CA, JKT . . .  And while techno innovations have made staying in touch, connecting, even face-to-face almost-like-being-there conversations possible, virtual can’t compete with actual.

Alicia Johnson, a long time friend and champion arranged this visit to Conroe Central Library

Alicia Johnson, a long time friend and champion arranged this visit to Conroe Central Library

First came the Why? Kids!!! 2 days of Library presentations at Conroe Central Library, organized by my friend and children’s librarian Alicia Johnson, let me get up close and personal with a couple of hundred children of all ages—all meaning 3 months to 20 years! Stand outs: 0-6 year olds: After reading NOT NORMAN we sang the “My Pet Says” song, which had us all wagging our tails, barking, clucking and almost left one little guy in tears because he wanted us to sing about his horse that said “neigh, neigh, neigh (no worries, we made him happy by singing one last verse just for him!) 6-9 year olds: Nothing better than that finger shaking No Bite! VAMPIRE BABY Chorus and loads of hugs after; creating a mystery with the teen group—which we got so caught up in that we ran over and they had to practically, physically pull us out the library so they could lock up but not before we managed to convict the chameleon and restore Mouse’s pilfered diary; and last—maybe best—Ideaphoria with 9-12 year olds who don’t let you get away with anything!

Don't be fooled by our demur pose: Wylld imaginings are in progress.

Don't be fooled by our demur pose: Wylld imaginings are in progress.


Then came the How? 4 days of intense picture book lock-down in Idywylld with 3 writer buds, Marty Graham, Sarah Tomp and Andrea Zimmerman, aka "The Wylld Bunch," which despite our names only had time to have wild imaginings.



After came the Will I?  Back to VCFA for the Alumni Mini-Rez and retreat. As we have ever since they kicked us off campus a few years back (that’s another story) my classmates, The Unreliable Narrators, have rented a house where we all bunk up, plug in and recharge each July.

Summer of 2014 Unreliable Narrator retreaters (The rest of the pack missed out on the lips)   L-R: Kerry Castano, me, Katie Mather, Tam Smith, Cynthia Granberg, Cindy Faughnan, Trinity Peacock-Broyles

Summer of 2014 Unreliable Narrator retreaters (The rest of the pack missed out on the lips) L-R: Kerry Castano, me, Katie Mather, Tam Smith, Cynthia Granberg, Cindy Faughnan, Trinity Peacock-Broyles

This year our guest of honor was Katie’s son James. At 17 months, the toughest picture book judge ever…

James lounging with his UN posse

James lounging with his UN posse



When Jame's mom was napping, I used him a guinea pig (I started to type “lab rat” . . . Katie would have laughed, but I wasn’t sure anyone else would have.)


The bright blue cover caught his eye. Lost it fast when he saw the inside (so that’s why they call them picture books?)

Reading to a 17 month old shows why short is best—I was cutting words willy-nilly, and adding sounds—especially animal-ish noises…no wonder repetition is big.

Last came the When?

When will it end? That was definitely the question my family was asking when after the VCFA retreat, instead of returning home, I rode on to Cindy’s house for more. Talk about a dedicated writer. Cindy makes sure she gets those words down every day—and she made sure I did, too.

Best, each night of every phase: How-Will-When came “PUT UP OR SHIP OUT” Time when we read aloud the work we’d done. No way did I want to be voted out, so I worked.

Now comes the Whaaaaaaaaa. I’m back again, facing the blank page, the revision notes, the What! But I’m not alone. . .

Bob Dole thought he was slapping Hillary in the face with it when, during his Rebublican Nomination Acceptance Speech for the 96 elections, he spouted, “I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child."

What is a village if not an extended family? A community of individuals clustered together for similar if disparate reasons. Village. Family. Village.  .  . Potato. Pot-A-toe. Mash um up, add butter, salt, and a dash of pepper and it’s all the same—a blend that makes for good eatin’ and comfort which fosters creative living! 

Village Life Playlist: 

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New Year=New Resolutions=New To-Do List.

Resolutions: We all have them, we all make them. Some of us resolve not to make new New Year's Resolutions. (I did this once. . . ) And then, because setting an action plan is imperative if we seriously expect to accomplish whatever it is we resolve, we make a "To-Do List." And for a few days or weeks, we may even manage to tick off some of those items on that list of To-Dos. Then our resolve fades, or our list is buried under more pressing issues, and we fail....again.

2015 was no exception. We rang out the old year. Toasted the new. And I made one resolution.

Now, three weeks into 2015, I'm happy to say it's a resolution I have, easily, happily, guilt-free-ly kept so far. That alone is worth cheering: WHOOOOOOOO! 

So, it's with joy, pride and the expectation that I will remain resolute, I am sharing my 2015 New Year's Resolution. I Kelly Bennett resolved to:

Say “Phooey!” to Must-Do
”Why?” to Have-To
”How will I?” to Want-To!

Yes, this means I am still creating To-Do lists. However, after I do, I prioritize each item on the list:

Must-Do: Often these are imposed by others and/or come with a heavy dose of guilt which often elevates them to the top of the pile resulting in them being dealt with, done, crossed off first, when our energy is highest. 

Instead, say "Phooey!" Who says I Must-Do this? Then ask yourself, "Why?" Why is now? Why should first, be the time to do IT? If you can't come up with a good reason, then either don't do IT, or, as in the case of "Write thank you notes" "Order new sheets" "Call your mother," move IT down on the To-Do List to a low energy, low creativity time, nothing better I can be doing then, anyway, time. Ie, Write Thank you notes while watching TV and Call mom when you are waiting in line at the movie, or walking the treadmill.

Have-To: The difference between Have-To and Must-Do, is that not doing Have-To items will result in consequences you want to avoid. For example: "File insurance," "Fill out expense report,"do laundry". 

Instead, ask "Why?" What will happen if I don't do IT? If the consequences of doing IT will not hit your where it counts: in the wallet or the heart, then IT is not a Have-To. IT either belongs in one of the other categories, or, IT doesn't belong on your list! 

If IT is a Have-To List, then decide exactly when you will do IT. Allot IT a specific amount of time. Have-To items have to be done. We want what doing IT brings us so we should give IT due respect. Slot IT into your schedule. Follow your schedule. But do not think about IT until the allotted time.

Want-to: Ask, do I really want IT?  If the answer is yes, then it needs to be high on your To-Do list. Put it at the top of your list--in BOLD AND ALL CAPS! 

For every Want-To, ask: How Can I? Once you know what you want. What you really, really want. What will make your IT happen. The next step is to create an action plan for how to do what you want. Position these items--the steps it will take for you to be able to do-get-achieve WHAT YOU WANT!--in high energy times on your calendar. Above the HAVE-TOs, squeezing out the MUST-DOs. Then get to IT! 


Now it's your turn--But only if you WANT-TO, too!??

Pull out your To-Do list. Examine each item and put it in the proper category. Is it a:

  • Have-To?
  • Must-Do?
  • Want-To?

Three weeks into this new year, and I'm happy to say I've been doing what I really WANT-TO.

What I WANT-TO do is have time with my family. Babying my daughter and brand-new grandboy, Dylan, And loving up my bigger grandboy, Bennett. Dang, is this fun!

TO-DO: WHAT'S IT TO YOU? Playlist:


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Unfold Fate

"There is something in me maybe someday
to be written; now it is folded, and folded,
and folded, like a note in school." -Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds, the first woman to win the T.S.Eliot Prize for Poetry wrote that. It made me think of so many grubby folded notes I confiscated after having rescued them from the dirty clothes pile. Max, especially, was an avid note collector. Out of self preservation, I never read any of those confiscated notes. Not because I was respectful of my children's privacy, but because I was protecting my innocence. What I didn't know couldn't hurt/worry me. . . 

Looks like she     like she wore an Ali   Magraw's    Love Story   -ish crocheted caps, no?

Looks like she like she wore an Ali   Magraw's Love Story-ish crocheted caps, no?

The award was for a poetry collection entitled "Stag's Leap." (Yesterday, Nov. 19th, is Sharon's birthday, which is how the "folded notes" came to my attention--a Goodreads gift) She's a California girl, too, born in San Francisco, maybe that's why she feels familiar.

Folded notes, strips of words, pluck one and see  . . . 

Folded notes, strips of words, pluck one and see  . . . 

Guardian article noted the title refers to "her husband's leap for freedom." (If you Google "Stag's Leap," even with the possessive, a link to the winery of that name--sans possessive--pops up.  I have a sign about that too, it reads, "No good story ever started over a bowl of salad".... I'll leave you to take that leap.

Stag's Leap was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Penned while/after going through her own divorce. Fab interview about it in the Huffington Post.

 Did Sharon dash off notes before? Scribble them during? Crunch them in anger? Frustration? Maybe even hurl them in anger? Were they--those reminder notes--tear stained? How many other ran through the wash? Dryer Confetti?

While searching for the origin of that Sharon Olds quote, I googled "folded note" and up popped a post by John Findura called "Simple Twists of Fate."  The "note" in it turned out to be a folded doctor's note in his father's pocket when he went for his induction physical. His father didn't want to go to Vietnam and fight, he wanted to be a teacher. Though the contents of the note wasn't revealed in the post, I imagine whatever was in that note determined his fate. 

Notes of mine that spring to mind are not all on paper. Some are: to-do lists, story ideas, groceries to buy. Others are piles of stuff mounded and waiting on my desk, the work bench, heaped in the basement closet. More are "want tos" "bucket list" items, waiting...

The mounds of stuff, the lists, the bag of notes can be promises...but are also, often weights. Grounding? Or pinning us down? To keep us from flying? Or keep us from flying away?

What if we pick one from the pile. Uncrinkle it. Spread it out flat. Consider it, and then . . . 

Unfold Fate Playlist:


Guts, Not Buts

She was bashing her forehead against the wall. 

It was the January VCFA Writing for Children & Young Adults MFA residency in Montpellier, Vermont. Ice, cold, snow, fraught with plagues: illness, broken bones, death, disease . . .  

In her post, Uma writes:

Uma's newest title...slightly heroic is something she knows about . . . 

Uma's newest title...slightly heroic is something she knows about . . . 

Give yourself a boost and read at least as far down as that quote in Uma's post. You'll be glad you did.  Here's the link:

Encouragement is something everyone needs all through life. Encouragement is just a damn nice thing to do for another person.
— Uma Kirishwami in her post

Writing, Encouragement, and “Poetry” on Write at Your own Risk blog post. 

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One Candle, My Ferris Wheel, a Potato

Marvelous the way memory works. I think of mine like a Ferris Wheel*. When the music starts, the squeaky wheel spins for a while, slows to a stop, the door on the little cage closest to the ground swings open to let someone--or some memory--out, the door closes, the wheel starts spinning, that cage swings up out of reach, another cage swings to a stop.

I know what's in the cages on either side. I can almost reach them . . . almost

As for those cages way up at the top? If I squint hard, I can see them. But danged if I know what's in them . . . 

A book review of Eve Bunting's One Candle, on Lori Norman's writer blog: StoryQuill conjured a cage that must have been so far up on my Ferris Wheel it was lost in the clouds. It's out of season. Random, totally. But, that's how my wheel rolls: 

The door swung open to a long ago Christmas Eve when in a panic, I pulled off the highway to call Ronnie because I'd forgotten the menorah.

I'd called from a gas station pay phone because we didn't' have cell phone back then. Rosie (as we called Lexi back then) and Max (ever Max) were especially excited because that year Hanukkah and Christmas Eve were on the same day, so we NEEDED a menorah!

With the last name of Goldman, everyone but the few acquainted with the prominent "Catholic Goldmans" of Tulsa, assumed we were Jewish, and I, a non-practicing anything, with two half-Jewish as possible--considering the Jewish half was not their mother's half--children was committed to upholding all traditions. Fortunately, my dear friend and writing partner, Ronnie, a full-blood Jewess and, as it happens the first women in Oklahoma to have a Bat Mitzvah.

 In addition to baking & decorating the best Hanukkah sugar cookies, was educated enough for both of us. 

 In addition to baking & decorating the best Hanukkah sugar cookies, was educated enough for both of us. 

"You can use a potato!" Ronnie told me. She went on to explain how during the Holocaust, because Jews were not allowed to keep traditions, were, in truth, imprisoned or killed if any religious accouterments were discovered in their possession, they improvised: thus the Dreidel game, a secret way to study the Torah; the common potato, a secret menorah.

We stopped at a grocery story before we stopped for the night. And that night and for the following seven nights, light our potato menorah, said prayers, and opened gifts. 

This photo is not mine, but this is including the birthday candles--sans the gold paint--what our menorah looked like.

This photo is not mine, but this is including the birthday candles--sans the gold paint--what our menorah looked like.

In One Candle, Eve Bunting shares another grandmother's potato menorah story. Hers wasn't a Piggly-Wiggly supermarket russet, hers was stolen from a Buchenwald prison kitchen. Here's a snippet of the review:

With a little stolen butter and a thread from Rose’s skirt placed in a hollow she’d carved out of the potato, and with a stolen match, they made a candle in their barracks on the first night of Hanukkah. ‘It lifted us to the stars,’Grandma says.
— http://storyquill.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/one-candle-a-review/

Up up up to the stars . . . And on the way, nudged my Ferris Wheel. The power of words: it takes so few to coax down a distant cage. 

*Wait! Before the music plays and the wheel spins again: Be sure to check out Dani Sneed's book, THE MAN WHO INVENTED THE FERRIS WHEEL. about George Ferris and his World's Fair Wonder! You and every kid you know will be glad you did.



Thanks for reading!

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Rumors Run Rampant

 As if life isn't exciting enough, . .  when I checked my email, this jumped out at me:

Kelly is this alarming post about you true?

And this:

Harmful and damaging events from your past may have surfaced . . .

Then this:

Things don’t look good for you Kelly
— Charlie???

                                                                             "DANGER! Will Robinson . . . "

Kelly, Deleterious Post About You About To Be Published
— Michal P.

I clicked over immediately. Horror of horrors! Could it be that someone is spreading rumors about little ole me? 

+++++ Potentially Upsetting Information Posted About You ++++ ===========================================================================

Alert: JJ-P-1904127903

Kelly negative events from your recent past may have been posted to your online file
— Reputation Notice (2)

Someone is TRASH TALKING me!!!! Who? . . . Of all the nerve! . . . What were they saying???

You know I was temped to follow the link.  Who doesn't want to know what they --those busy-bodies--are saying about us?

Of course, I know better . . .  (But it was on my mind)

Haven't. . . (Maybe it wasn't even about me. There are lots of people with my name...like that basketball coach. . . and that realtor--)

Yet . . .

But then I got to thinking: That's what they want. For me to follow that link, right?

There are no doubt scads of folks out there who do follow the link. Where does it take them? What horrors are waiting at the bottom of that particular rabbit hole?

or . . . OR . . . (That niggly curious cat voice is what gets us. . . ) 

Sure, I know it's a ploy to get me to click on that link, leading to some sight. But, what if there's a really great PRIZE I missing out on by not following the link???  

To think there are people out there who spend countless hours coming up with ways to SPAM us. What if these same folks applied their considerable creative talents to real problems, To paraphrase Dr. Suess, Oh the things they could think!

What did I do? . . . What didn't I do? . . .  Does he-she-it like me? . . . What do they know? . . . 

What did I do? . . . What didn't I do? . . .  Does he-she-it like me? . . . What do they know? . . . 

That got me thinking. Here's my thought: Let's give them something to talk about


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