Poetry 1-26-2023 (a collection)

I was supposed to write something wonderful today, about writing or marketing or something akin.

I was supposed to sell my books to you today and tell you how much you’ll love them, and how fun my writing is. I was supposed to remind you to submit, to tell you to check out my social. To connect to me in a thousand different ways, and hey–leave a review if you can? And tell me you’re favorite romance trope…

But today…is not that day. Today the poet sits in the captain-of-my-soul chair. Today I want to connect to you with words and not flashing scrolling reels. Because today, grief and loss are sitting heavy in my soul. Because I’ve crossed over a line I cannot travel back over. Because I have lost so much of myself. And I am tired. Today I am tired. And I’m full of heavy words and thoughts.

So– I’m not going to sell you my books, or my enemies to lovers tropes, or my poetic tomes. I’m not going to sell you myself today. I’m just going to gift you a piece of my heart, while I still have some of it to call my own.

Photo by Vera Silkina on Pexels.com
Rooted

I fell
a lone tree in the woods
not even the soft whisper of leaves
touching ground
to announce my end

and now, even slain
recumbent on the forest floor
my heart continues on
in irregular beats
a strange, sad creature
gnarled and stubborn
a stump not removed,
rooted too deep 
a fixture of these 
dark woods

you cut into my core
the center rings
the childhood yew
the heart of my heart
cleaved in two
with such a cruel and easy
grace

I am no fixture to you
no rooted thing
you see forests,
not me
a weeping willow, 
scythed down, 
with one stroke 
of your sharp
and pitiless
tongue.



Found
 
when they find me

i will be alone

the questions and headshakes
directed in quizzical depths
to the loam and silt they cannot sort through
no reasoning to be caught
in bucket or screen
 
when they find me

dressed as animals are
in the skin i was in
the day i roared into the plain
i will shock in cold white
filled with trout breath
and minnow kisses
 
When they find me
broken shell
battered 
lovely in purple and blue
head struck rock 
knee scraped branches
lips in shades to make 
mountain bluebell envious
they will lament
such wasted splendor
 
when they find me

the questions of why
i was lost to the brine 
a jointer to the self-takers before me
whispers will static the air
of all the ways i failed
and too long loitered in futility
 
when they find me

they will burn the empty package
while I sneak, 
soul-snake in water
down river bends to the sea

never to be found again


This Isn't a Poem for You

So this isn’t a poem for the broken hearted
it is not for those who were left behind
or ghosted
or dumped
or abused
or disregarded

This is a poem for those who watched
as another soul walked away
sat in their silence
was released from another person’s life
faced pain at their hands
or were simply ignored
into nothingness…

You are the warriors of time
you, who have felt the sting
of heart break 
and disappointments

you are the carriers of grief
and the bodies made of scars
and you have lived through
every burning cut
and every lonely night

This is not for the soul they broke,

this is for the you that survived.

This is not a sermon from some high tower
that you are stronger for it
that you are braver because of it
that you are a better person
a heart bigger, 
with these new and ragged cracks 
to let the light in

I will only tell you what I know

You survived.

you packed up your heart and your mind
and you moved on
you accepted their silence
you treated your wounds and closed the door
you started paying attention to yourself 
when they no longer did

and that carries weight

self determination
and the ability to move past
the fickle and soft-seated lies,
of a love always perched to flee 
the very second things got hard

Your feet remain grounded
and you outlasted

You heart is a seasoned warrior
and it may never let another in

but it doesn’t have space anyway
because in their absence
beyond the echoes of their abuse
the pain of their mistreatment,
you’ve filled your heart
with the unfaltering love
of yourself

they can’t ever move back in

there isn’t room any more.




Soul Care

I’m not sure it’s a good sign when my first blog post of the year is late, but I think it’s probably an honest representation of my life. And let’s be fair, it’s only late by a few hours.

I had a busy year in 2022, and some of the seeds I planted are now bearing a shit-ton of fruit (mostly in the form of edits, publishing, book panels, and conferences) so I’m finding I rarely have time to brush my teeth, let alone keep up on my extraneous writing, teach my classes, love on my kids while I still have them around, and walk my dog. (sorry River, you great house hippo) but I’m not complaining.

Because in times of less time, I’ve discovered that I’m forced to let go of something. Sometimes it’s something I really wanted to do, or have, or pursue…but sometimes we have a brilliant opportunity to let go of something we’ve been holding on to for far too long that has been wasting our precious time and effort. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I will say it is worth it.


Think of this as your beginning of the year pep talk, not just for writing but for living.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Arrive gently into this year, or arrive like a fucking lion, all I ask is that you arrive. Be your own biggest advocate. If something has been weighing you down, impeding your growth, causing you to lose sleep or pick up the bottle a little too frequently, that thing does not deserve a place in your one precious life.

Take a deep breath, and take stock of the things in your life worth holding on to. You only get so many trips around the sun so travel light.

Are there relationships or situations that poison you? Where is the toxic pull coming from that robs you of your sleep, of your ability to regulate your emotions without coping mechanisms? What is the root of your distress and unease? Who or what is draining your energy?

Because the truth remains that whether you are seeking peace or a revolution you will not find either if you’re expending your energy in undeserving places.

Self-care is important but even more so is soul care (I’m not talking taking yourself to church and repenting—you sassy heathen *kiss*). Soul care means that you don’t accept things, people, situations, or habits that destroy, harm, or otherwise dull the luster of your soul. We all were born within the brilliant light of opalescent divinity, and darlin’, you were meant shine.

So when you drive to work and feel your stomach tie itself into knots. Or go out to meet that friend and feel your teeth clenching. Or look at all the diet books on bookstore shelves and feel the heaviness of trying to make yourself small. Or when you sit down with that one family member, or across the table from your partner and you feel anything but calm, loved, inspired and supported then it’s time to let go.

This requires trust. Trust that the universe has a BBP (bigger, better plan) for you, and it’s your job to start taking steps towards it. Towards what makes you happy. Away from that job, that friend, impossible and disgusting expectations and judgements, relationships, projects, whatever. Whatever the weight. It’s not meant to be carried anymore.

You’ve been around long enough to know that you ARE enough and you deserve love and respect.

You do not need approval. From. Anyone.

Your purpose does not require permission.

You are steeped in the sensual glaze of wisdom and confidence.

You do not have to continue on any path that doesn’t serve your happiness.

There is no requirement to stay somewhere or with someone who does not help your divinity flourish and grow.

So this year I urge you…rather than starting off the year with outrageous and unrealistic expectations on yourself (that have probably been placed on you by a society of consumerism and vapid body shaming) to take stock first. If you are nervous in the gut, triggered by people and situations, lying awake at night or drinking too much just to numb all of the other feelings that jostle around in your brain…find the root of this dis-ease.

And find a way (therapy, journaling, communication with friends, your faith, saying ‘fuck it’ and moving to Cabo, whatever your go-to catharsis) to dig it out and plant something better.

Because time is non-refundable, and your life is not replicable or renewable. This is it. The one we get. I beg of you, do not spend it somewhere that doesn’t deserve your brilliant, opalescent divinity. Shine. As you are meant to.

Submissions, Rejections, and Moving On

I feel like this is a post I’ve probably written before, in one manner or another. But the truth is, that if you’re a writer, actively seeking to publish your work and/or build up your resume (let’s call it a ‘platform’), you’re going to have to deal, at some point in your process, with rejection. Hell, humans in general have to deal with it in all facets of our lives, and as we mature and gain experience we learn (or don’t learn) how to cope with it and move on.

*I should add a disclaimer: I’ve seen it happen, on the rare occasion that someone’s first draft of their first novel gets picked up by a publisher, right away. I’m happy for those few among us, but they are very rare outliers. The exceptions. The kid that blew the curve in class. And since they’re probably not in ‘need’ of writing advice–they can go on with their charmed lives. This post is for the rest of us*

A rejection letter for our artistic work (the meat of our souls if you will) is often harder to take than getting passed over for a promotion or shot down by that guy at the club (or wherever a person tries to pick up someone–I’ve been out of that game for many moons). Writing is, in many cases, a work of heart. And it takes guts and faith, and an ounce of reckless stupidity to throw it out into the world for other people to read (judge, pick apart, mock, etc.) So when we put our (he)art on the line and it’s returned with a swift and almost cutting “thanks but no thanks” it can often feel like we’re getting a red pen mark right through our soul. They didn’t like it. They don’t like me.

So here’s where I tell you the few things I’ve learned. Not just about in dealing with rejection but also how to submit in ways that will expand your confidence and the chances that your work will be seen and appreciated.

I could pound out a bunch of statistics on how many times major publishers rejected some of our favorite and prolific authors. I could tell you that some of those authors when into their thirties and forties (even fifties) without ever finding success in the industry, and I could give you a sunshine-up-your bottom pep talk about not giving in.

But I’m here to help. And I don’t believe in false praise, false hope, or anything false when it comes to finding the system that works for you. What I will tell you is this:

1.) Rejection is important to our growth and the quality of our work.

And there’s a blade thin line artists walk. Where the sting and wound of rejection can, in fact, topple us over and we may never rise again. It happens. All the time. So, when you think about being a writer—I want you to think hard about this one truth—

Your work will be rejected. Your words and ideas, your stories and the depths of your heart on page, will be thrown back at your feet and declared unwanted. But here’s the secret. It does not matter if they believe in your work. It doesn’t matter if they find it worthy. All that matters, is that you believe.

Your work is not you. So your novel was rejected and, if you were lucky (yes—lucky I said) they gave you some scathing or tepid advice about why. I’m willing to bet the editors did not say “You’re shoes are dumb and your breath smells like coffee farts. Oh, and your momma was a Clydesdale.” And if they did—that editor was having a really shitty day and you should send them some flowers—back on point. You are not your work. Rejection of your work is not a measure of your worth as a person or as a writer. Everything in life that we want to get better at, takes practice, and the best practice includes mistakes and their inherent lessons. Your work is not perfect, but it is changeable. You are not perfect, and you don’t have to be. Rejection of your work means you are out there, in the business building a better story and standing behind it. Don’t take it personally.

If they do offer you any advice, cutting or kind, PLEASE respond with a heartfelt thank you for their time in helping you become better. Assure them that you’ll consider their input and try again as guidelines allow.

And your mother doesn’t look like a Clydesdale.

But she’s a pretty momma.

2.) Submitting your work gets easier.

I remember the first few poems, short stories, and novels that I submitted, and it felt like sending my babies out into a wild cavern full of hungry wolves. It was heart wrenching to wait and equally devastating to hear that they’d been torn apart and spit out. But, with the aforementioned advice on rejection I’ve learned that a rejection notice isn’t a ticket to give up and stop trying. It’s one opinion, it’s one grade, it’s one lesson. And there are too many more to try to waste the time fretting over the one.

So, keep trying–submit like a goddamn machine. Schedule it, prioritize it, research possible avenues for your work. Put aside time each week to find the right places for your voice. Record where you’ve submitted, when, the cost, the call-back date, and the work (this is especially important if no simultaneous submissions are part of the rules *see #3 below*). The more you submit, the wider the net you cast, the more likely you are to catch something. Don’t keep submitting to the same publisher/agent/journal/paper, with the same story/novel/poem/essay and expect different results.

3.) Read the Damn Guidelines and Follow Them As Though Your Life Depended On It.

Seriously, my pen pals, I cannot stress it enough. It irks the hell out of me to have a beautifully written story in a waste pile because you didn’t take the time to read the requirements, word count, genre, or editor’s rules. Sometimes one of the biggest filters any job/class/test/editor uses is the simple test of if the candidate can follow directions. So don’t be the douche that thinks you’re above jumping all the hoops. Show them respect by following the details. Then wow them with your work.

4.) Take the small wins

I don’t care if your local church newsletter published your tuna casserole recipe (how Minnesotan of you, Sarah!) or you had a haiku featured on a blog, or had a guest editorial in a nationally ran newspaper. Take it! Enjoy it, and pat yourself on the back. These are the small steps that help you understand that your perseverance leads to good things and eventually, bigger things. Don’t go resting on your church cookbook laurels though. Celebrate and get back to work.

5.) Think about your endgame and plan accordingly

There are a lot of readers in the world (Hell, I’m one! I know you’re one!) which means there are eyes and minds out there for every story. Whatever your endgame is for your writing, decide early. Are you doing this to build a platform for future projects? Are you submitting because you love that particular journal? Is it for the love of your story? Or is it for profit or prestige. TO BE CLEAR: NEITHER OF THOSE ARE WRONG. But the path to each will be greatly different. So steer your submitting towards what you want to be when you grow up, whether that’s a world-wide best selling author, a respected indie poet, or someone who’s work affects even just one other person.

Well–That’s all I’ve got this month for advice on submitting. Do it prolifically. Don’t take rejection personally. Stay true to your voice and purpose as a writer and author.

Until next week. Happy Writing.

VerseDay 7-18-19

Last night was my last class, officially, teaching at the karate school I’ve been at for nearly five years. It is a necessary step that had to happen for the health of my heart and mind. I’ll be taking the next month completely out of that world to reset my perspective and see where my love and energy really belongs. Perhaps I will return, refreshed. Perhaps the universe has other plans for me.

This is the way of the orbiting dance of life.

Even when a move feels like the right one to take, it can be difficult. What we leave behind can often open up holes of melancholy and bittersweet sadness in our chest.

So this is for you; those who are leaving, those who’ve been left. If you are in one of the hundreds of delicate transitions that come with the years of breathing, take heart.

And leave heart.

 

UnDeparted

 

I leave behind pieces of myself

In every heart that I have loved.

So that I may live a thousand different lives

And share their journey in a million different moments.

I spread toes in broken sand

and sing with the breath of black loam forests.

Blaze in pursuit of sunsets and stretch,

reborn to every dawn 

 

I leave behind pieces of myself

So that every pulse

in every heart of my heart

Is a star in the sky,

An adventure, 

An eternity

 

I leave behind pieces of myself

In every heart that I have loved

So that I may touch the world with their hands

See the world through their eyes,

Beg them lay still when they need rest

And filter and fiber their blood as they race

down dusty borders of earth and sky

I aid the fire and fever as they fall to love

and mend softly the wounds suffered there after 

 

I leave behind pieces of myself,

In every heart I have loved

So that I may live a thousand lives

Be born and grow old,

Laugh out joy

Cry through despair

 

So if I am far away from you now, 

By streets or by stars.

Know that I am not gone.

I am stitched into your heart

A patch of peace, when the weary world shouts too loud

If out of sight, I am yet undeparted 

I’ve left a piece of myself

In your heart.

 

 

 

VerseDay 5-23-19

Enjoy today’s VerseDay and be sure to send me your poetry, essays, thoughts and musings for consideration in The Beautiful Stuff’s 2019 Poetry Anthology aptly named “No Small Things: The Beautiful Stuff Poetry Anthology 2019.

Send your work for consideration in the body of an email to: sereichert@comcast.net, with “POETRY SUBMISSION” in the Subject line, along with a brief bio and your website/promotional information.

And now this….

 

When you see me again

 

When you see me

Again

I will be much changed.

I will not be the girl you knew

I will be something

Strange and fierce.

 

The calm of sensuality

That you cannot touch

Hunger you cannot satiate

And when you see me,

You will ache to know me

But will not comprehend.

Cannot comprehend

The ways in which I have left this space

 

When you see me

You will know,

The river you cannot swim

The depth of mystery

And love

You only dipped

Fingertip

in

You cannot

Slide across my surface

or touch to feel me

anymore.

 

When you see me

I will have shed you as old skin

Left behind, pinched

between rock and ground

The ghostly outline, honeycombed in dirt

The woman who knew you

Has dropped away the shell of your empty

Affection

 

When you see me again,

You will not know me.

I will be much changed.

Strange and fierce.

An untouchable,

Incomprehensible

Ache