Friday, May 19, 2017

Plotting vs Pantsing--Today on The Stiletto Gang

Today, you'll find me on The Stiletto Gang discussing writing novels with and without plotting them out ahead. "Plotting vs Pantsing" is a false dichotomy, I find.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Poem for Mother's Day--at The Stiletto Gang

Today, you'll find me blogging at The Stiletto Gang with a bittersweet poem for all who have lost their mothers in one way or another and have difficulties during the big commercial lead-up to Mother's Day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Final poem for National Poetry Month--JOSEPH SLEEPS

For this final poem of the month, I was drawn to a poem from my book, Heart's Migration, a poem that was written when my youngest son was still little. To show how long ago that was, he's now Dean of Humanities at a nearby university, and the George Bush mentioned in the poem is the first President Bush, George H. W. Bush.

Poetry can capture a moment for us so that we can always re-experience its emotions years later. I'm glad I wrote this poem because, even decades later, it brings that long-gone child back more clearly and intensely than any photograph.


his eyelids like a moth’s fringed wings.
Arms flail against the Ninja Turtle sheet
and suddenly-long legs
race time.

Awake, he’s a water-leak detector, a recycling ranger
who bans Styrofoam and asks for beeswax
crayons, a renewable resource.
He wants to adopt the Missouri river,
write the president
to make factories stop polluting.

They’re old friends, he and George Bush.
He writes and scolds
the president, every month or so,
about bombing the children of Iraq
(he made his own sign to carry in protest),
about the plight of the California condor and northern gray wolf,
about more shelters and aid for the homeless.
The lion-shaped bulletin board in his room
is covered with pictures and letters from George,
who must be nice,
even if he is a slow learner.

Joseph is a mystery fan, owns 54 Nancy Drews.
Nancy’s his friend, along with Jo, Meg, and Amy
and poor Beth, of course, whom he still mourns.
He also reads of knights and wizards, superheroes,
and how to win at Nintendo.

The cats and houseplants are his to feed and water,
and the sunflower blooming in the driveway’s border
of weeds. He drew our backyard to scale,
using map symbols, sent off to have it declared
an official wildlife refuge, left a good-night
note on my pillow, written in Egyptian hieroglyphs.

In my life, I have done one good thing.

Published in Heart's Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

National Poetry Month in a Dark Time

It's a dark time in the U.S. right now. There's little doubt about that. Every day, news of several new scandals erupts. Possible Russian agents or assets in power in the White House, entire departments of the federal government essentially wiped out, bans against Muslims, the wholesale rounding up and imprisonment of Latinos, attempts to wipe out health care and health insurance as we know it today (seriously, health insurance that doesn't cover hospitalization???), attempts to wipe out all programs that help the poor, the elderly, children, the disabled, the disenfranchisement of ever more American voters--the list goes on and on. 

Just yesterday, an airline lost almost a billion dollars in share value after it beat up a paying passenger because he refused to leave a seat he'd already paid for to make room for spare airline employees. Then, Eric Trump, the inconvenient, inadvertent truth-teller in a family of pathological liars, told a reporter that the President of the United States sent 59 missiles flying into a Syrian airbase because Ivanka, his much-too-beloved daughter, felt sadness over photos of dead children and told him to do something--and, Eric added, this should prove that his dad, the President, is not beholden to Russia. And finally, on this first full day of Passover, Sean Spicer, the presidential press secretary, said Hitler never used chemical weapons--at least, not against his own people--well, against innocent people--no, he meant against his own innocent people in their homes because he took them off to Holocaust Centers to gas them.

And yesterday was a light day in the dark news department, compared to what has happened lately. Oh, I almost forget in the press of the other dumpster fires, also yesterday, we saw for the first time the FISA warrant obtained against Carter Page, foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's campaign, stating that the FBI had reasons that the FISA court found credible to believe Page was a Russian spy.

When we have possible Russian spies running our government, determined efforts to destroy said democratic government, and a President who wants to become an actual dictator and is rapidly stripping away our rights and protections against that, we live in dark, dark times. In the words of beloved children's book author, Susan Cooper, "The dark is rising." We have never needed National Poetry Month more. So here is a poem for the dark times.


Creator reminds us daily
through the fragrant winds,
the re-leafing trees,
the dark-of-morning bird chorus,
the taste of rain on upheld faces,
that this world was built in beauty,
made for harmony and wholeness.

We must remember
it is we humans
who break what is shining and whole.
It is our species that creates dark times.
We must learn to live
in tune with creation once more. We must sing
balance back into this bountiful earth.

As we work together
to mend the broken world—
against the forces among our own kind
choosing destruction over grace—
may we keep in our imaginations
the ancestral memory
of this world as it was created to be.

May we will it into existence
again. May we move always toward healing
and wholeness. May we never forget
the force of willed action
and words of power.
May we create a blessed light
in these dark times in which we find ourselves.
May we know
deep inside our bones
that, no matter how broken,
our world is always
worth the labor of mending.

© Linda Rodriguez 2017

Monday, November 28, 2016

Final Poem for Native American Heritage Month and Standing Rock

We are ending Native American Heritage Month in a few days, and throughout the entire month, militarized police have been violently attacking the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, leaving hundreds with hypothermia and injuries, especially one elder in cardiac arrest, one young woman with a torn retina, and one young woman with an arm that she may lose, even after several surgeries. This poem is one I wrote about rivers and the concept of river, and perhaps it will offer a different way of looking at these great entities of creation beyond the concept of commodity or barrier to profit. Too often we forget that water is truly life.


The Cherokee call me Long Man,
yun wi gun hi ta,
because my body stretches and unravels
with my head in the mountains
and my feet resting in the ocean.
I constantly speak words of wisdom
to those who can understand me—
fewer every day.
It takes a quality of attention
fit for magicians or poets.
I have much to tell those
who expend the time and energy to listen.
I have seen so many things.
I know the history of rain
intimately, leaning on the world
to feel it on my skin
and take it inside me
to swell my body. Maybe,
they should have called me Long Woman.

I remember when
the mountains were home only to gods.
I knew your ancestors,
now tangled in the ground.
I swallowed my share and more.
I have seen innumerable generations
living into their deaths.
I am acquainted with the bones of earth,
ancient as the word of God
and stronger by far.
Men have tried forever
to change me and chain me,
but I still wander where I will
when I grow tired of being tame.
I remain the promise of tomorrow,
the hope of new growth
that haunts the night with hypnotic murmurs
and softens the edge between act and dream.

When all hope has fled,
come to me.

Published in TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism, 2015

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Poem for Native American Heritage Month--Dreaming Fox

I wanted to put another poem up for Native American Heritage Month, and I decided to post this one.

I’ve always taken for granted that I could see more of the natural world’s plants and animals, even in the city, than most other people I know here, who seem totally oblivious to a pair of golden eagles stunt-flying on the thermals overhead or the waddle of a beaver across a grassy knoll to his creek home. I know I owe this gift to my grandmother and aunt and uncle who taught me when I was young to pay attention to the land around me and its plant and animal inhabitants—and thus vastly enriched the rest of my life.

When the rest of my family erupted in chaos and violence, focusing on the natural world of which I was a part saw me through the pain and desperation. Nothing pulls me out of despair like going to water to see the dawn in and watch the dance of the real world behind the shabby drapery of made-up, pretend, commodified daily existence. 


Early on a Sunday walking
past a bank drive-through on a hill
above a creek running through the city
surrounded by a narrow band of wild growth
I see him and freeze
big dog fox stopped at the sight of me
one foot still in the air
tail of fire just brushing the uphill
shrubbery from which he came
we stand and stare
unable to move or breathe
his eyes staring into mine
against a background
murmur of morning traffic
neither of us supposed to be here
not me at this just-after-dawn-in-summer hour
not him in the middle of the city
curiosity more than fear
behind his big eyes I had always
thought foxes had small close-together eyes
from cartoons or wildlife films or something
like that but his are set attractively
distant from each other
an intelligent face staring
me down wanting me to turn
and run from the predator
he must have a den nearby
with mate and kits so he will stand
against me forever
if need be he must be afraid
he knows humans are dangerous
to his kind especially
if he lives here in the heart of the city he must
dread the moment he will have to take
me on so many times his size
and probably with noisy metal weapons
against his needle teeth and claws
feeble in the world of cars motorcycles sirens
thrown rocks gunshots in this neighborhood he will
do it nonetheless I watch him set down his foot
lightly the muscles of his haunches tense
to spring in one final hopeless suicidal
attack to damage and drive me off
away from the den down among the brush
on the banks of the urban creek
hidden deep among the willows
I wish I could follow him down there
to see his mate and babies
he is right to fear me and attack
that human curiosity impulse to know
to somehow own experience fatal
to him if someone less harmless sees
and follows he hunkers down on his tail
silent no warning growl prepared
to launch himself through the air at my throat
only he will not be able to leap
that high from the lower ground
where he stands he will have to settle
for chewing my waist and legs
taking pity on us both
I back away slowly still
holding his vulpine gaze he turns back
to the shelter of the woods with only
one long look back
to make sure I don’t follow
to make sure I was real
one flash of movement and all trace
of red gone only undergrowth he might
never have stood and stared into my human eyes
so early on a Sunday morning
in the heart of the city
leaving us both to wonder
if we dreamed he of a human
who did no harm me of a fox
who did not run improbable dreams

© Linda Rodriguez 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Native American Heritage Month--A Poem for Standing Rock and #NoDAPL

I've been so frigging mad about the news coverage of the Standing Rock protests. The media, for the most part, can't be bothered to go out and actually investigate what's actually going on. No lattes out on the prairie. So they just take the word of the lying sheriff and governor. After NPR's recently, I just blew, and my poor husband had to listen. Finally, I decided to try to tame the anger in form. So, a sestina for Standing Rock.


I have run out of time
and patience with news coverage so
lazy and biased with a bow
always to
the company owners, powerful and rich,
and to what they want said.

It never matters what my people have said
again and again. Every time
government or corporate forces, so
violent and powerful, require us to bow
in submission, and we won't, the rich
dictate what's broadcast—and written, too.

When I try to explain to
well-meaning white friends, they've said,
“But disorder!” to which I reply each time,
“But oppression!” and sow
seeds of doubt in their comfort. The bough
must break some time and dump the rich

into the mud with the rest of us. The rich
tapestry of cultures that we are can't be reduced to
only WASP—Native, Black, Latino said
to be lesser, negligible, inferior. Each time
I hear this, the fire of anger grows within, so
hot and fierce. It's time for the ruling class's farewell bow.

So long we've stayed peaceful. Soon, it may be time for bow
and lance and rifle, if the rich
can't be compelled to lift the boot, too
sure of their own power to listen to what we've said.
They don't realize it, but they're running out of time.
In arrogance, they rip the fabric of the nation we sew

back together in new, shiny shapes, so
colorful, strange, stronger, tied with the bright bow
of human dignity and rich
gleam of equality and justice. To
those who've always had power and said
to the rest of us, “Give us time
to dole out bits of freedom,” we say, “No,” so...

You've run out of time. Now, reap what you sow.
We'll no longer bow in submission to
the demands of the white and rich. Hear what we've said.

© Linda Rodriguez 2016