Sep 30, 2011

The Challenge to Write Fearlessly

I have been challenged by Kellie Elmore from Magic in the Backyard on her Free Write Friday to write on subjects that are thought taboo. They are subjects that might make me cringe or withdraw from approaching creatively.  I have written on many things I have thought taboo and placed them in a folder in my computer. Perhaps it is time for me to take one out of the file, dust it off, and submit it here. She has a quote on her blog that has touched a chord in my creative restraint. "Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination." Mae Jemison (astronaut)

I have been on a journey to explore my writing seriously since the end of 2009. I take huge steps forward in believing in my work and then stumble back from insecurity. I may jump into the fire, but you cannot take your dreams to fulfillment if you don't take risks. So here is my "risk" of the moment. This is my fearless

Breathing  Life With the Fingertips

Hands take a slow journey across the skin,
a feathery caress of sensual awakening
breathing in life with the  fingertips,
eliciting a response in their exploration.

Hearts beat faster as the touch
intensifies yearning.
The tension of life slipping away
replaced by the tension of desire.

Hands sensitive as they touch palm to palm,
feeling arousal’s heat warming them.
Lying heartbeat to heartbeat
desire builds yet waits, reveling in anticipation.

No longer able to hold passion at bay
bodies join in a lover’s communion,
giving and taking pleasure in a dance
of erotic consummation .

©Susie Clevenger 2011


Sep 28, 2011

Stepped into a Painting

There was one time I experienced beauty so profound it felt as if I had stepped out of the natural world into a painting. It was spring of 2001 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I had gone to see the azaleas in bloom at Woodward Park. It was so breathtaking. I am not sure I can describe it. That is why I decided to let the pictures speak for me.


There were artists everywhere. Each one seemed to have hope they could capture the magnificence of the blossoms with paint and brush stroke. Even the water could not help but try to capture the magic for a moment in reflection.
This bridge looked over the stream below. This magical crossing could lead right into a fairy tale. Can't you see the princess standing at the railing waiting for her prince? If you look closely, you can see a fairy stepping onto a petal raft to carry her across the water.
This bride in white lace and dreams stood waiting for a photographer to capture that perfect moment to place in her wedding album. Her cathedral was decorated in pink and white. The trees hung leafed chandeliers with flowered accents above her.
Pink blossoms exploded from delicate limbs. Each one appeared to be enamored with the sun and raised their petal faces seeking a kiss.
Yellow blooms hung with their morning drink resting on their petals. Sunlight was caught in each blossom and heaven lent them its perfume.


I couldn't help being overly romantic when writing this. Each photograph spoke its own beauty. I did feel like I had indeed stepped into a painting that day. Perhaps God had painted me with his divine brush to walk in the glory of his garden. 

Sep 27, 2011

Red Skelton

Gentle humor,
a bumbling clown,
infectious smile,
his desire to amuse
never at the cost of another.
My childhood filled
with memories
of Red Skelton.

©Susie Clevenger 2011


My Thoughts Always Seem to Tangle

Have you ever noticed the moment you take off your earphones and lay them down they become a tangled mess? It only seem to take a seconds to create a web you must work through to straighten out the next time you want to use them. It always frustrates me although it shouldn't. It would be easier to just untangle them without complaint, but there is that grumble that emits from me each time I pick them up.

It appears my brain works the same way. My thoughts are always tangled. Sleep should be a time of rest and rejuvenation, but I suffer from insomnia. When I do lie down for a few hours of sleep I wake up to muddled thinking. I place my feet on the floor; walk to the kitchen with blurry eyes, and wade through twenty different avenues my brain tries to walk.

I will try to give examples of this confusion, but even the attempt raises the internal argument as to how best to state it. So here goes. As soon as I open my bedroom door the cats are begging to be fed, I walk to turn off the security alarm and do a detour on the way back to check my e-mail. Complaining cats return my attention  to their food. While feeding them, coffee pops into my brain. On the way to the coffee pot I wonder if I have any text messages. Coffee can in hand I search for my phone. In the midst of messages I remember the coffee. Pouring water into the coffee pot reminds me I have a challenge to write a haiku about water. I pick up the pen to scribble a line. Turning back to the coffee pot I realize I don't have a filter....  This is a tiny sample of my day. Perhaps it is ADHD or I am simply disorganized.

I spend my waking hours working through my tangle of thoughts. I have even taken a notepad to write down my itinerary for the day, a strategic, scribbled plan for organization. The plan works smoothly until I misplace my notepad. If my brain was the island where a group of survivors would have to see who could outwit, out play and out last, I imagine the players would be vying to be the first one voted off.

Sep 24, 2011

Those were the days

I don't know if everyone looks back at their past and yearns for that glory that seems brighter with memory, but there are days of retrospect when I wish I had that free spirit. I suppose many would say I still do, but there is something about the bravery of youth.

I was a child of the sixties. The hippie community of Haight Ashbury influenced my thinking. I wore peace signs, believed love could conquer everything, and wrote poetry that was social commentary on what I felt was the ills of society at the time. I was a huge Beatles fan. I would listen on my tiny transistor radio to their music every night. Their appearances on Ed Sullivan were as close as I ever got to them. I even gave myself a Beatles' hair cut.
My friend Bonnie and I

 The 60's ended to find the Viet Nam war still raged and the casualties mounted. One of my friends was killed in the war and I remember viewing him in a glass covered casket. Simon and Garfunkel's song Bridge Over Troubled Water was the song of the hour. I wore a P.O.W. (prisoner of war) bracelet. Once it was placed on my arm I continued to wear it until he was released. The prisoner's name was Captain Konrad Trautman U.S. Air Force. He was captured in North Viet Nam on October 5, 1967 and was released March 14, 1973.

Yes, I suppose I look back and say "those were the days" and I thought they would never end, but life moves on. There have been many trials, tribulations, and blessings. I cherish each moment I have been given and pray I will have many more. My love of poetry still remains. I write almost every day. It is my voice to speak what is within. 

There Was A Time

There was a time
I wore flowers in my hair.
believed love
to be the universal theme,
and a peace sign was more
than a fashion statement.

There was a time when
I protested war;
marching in the streets
with signs begging
there be an end
to the carnage.

There was a time
when I wore
a silver bracelet
with the name
of a prisoner of war,
leaving it on my
wrist until he came home.

There was a time
when I was not concerned
with acquiring possessions.
The little I owned
was given to others
when their need
was greater than mine.

There was a time
should not be my epitaph.
there is still a need
for flowers in my hair,
for universal love,
for a peace sign
to mean more than
a fashion statement.

©Susie Clevenger 2011



Sep 23, 2011

Michael Sprouse Art

One of my favorite contemporary artists is Michael Sprouse. His works of contemporary realism are haunting images that are poetry in paint. Each one I have viewed speaks a poem to me. They remind me of the 1930's when depression ravaged our country and prohibition gave rise to big time criminal and small back woods stills. There is not only that historical feel to them, but they have the ability of linking the past to the present.

Each portrait has the distinct style of Micheal Sprouse, but each person seems to be on the verge of sharing some deep part of themselves with you. Seductive eyes can draw you in or an athletic face will have you wondering what sport the subject is engaged in.

Michael's earlier work was abstract art, but in 1999 he began to produce the contemporary portraits modeled after vintage photography. His work has garnered attention from critic to collector. He now also works with digital media.

I am such a fan of his work and thought it would be nice to introduce him to other art lovers who may not have heard of him. The following link will provide a virtual art gallery to view and discover why I have fallen in love with his art.


Sep 20, 2011

J is for Joy

I love photography. I always have one of my cameras close by in case there is something that catches my eye to photograph. One of my favorite things to shoot is wildlife. I seem to have a connection with everything from animal to insect. I have taken some incredible shots where it appeared my subject stopped and posed for me. This hobby brings me much joy. My spirit celebrates each time I have the opportunity to commune with nature and it responds. I have chosen some of my favorite shots to share.
This frog was in my front garden. He reminded me of circus entertainer performing a balancing act.
This was the same frog. It appeared to be having a zen moment. It sat patiently waiting for me to take its picture.
This is a photograph I took in my backyard. The dragonfly seemed frozen. He remained quietly observing as I snapped picture after picture of him.
I have a small protected woods behind my home that attracts all sorts of wildlife. This buck, which I fondly named Pretty Boy, has made regular visits since he was a fawn. One day I put on my zoom lens and he stood still and watched me. He has always been one of my favorite visitors. This was taken in 2007 and he still returns for visits. He has lost his left eye to what I think was a rutting altercation with another buck, but to me he is still beautiful. I have not tried to make a pet out of him. We are just fellow companions sharing a small part of the planet together.
Squirrels can be very annoying, but they can also be entertaining. I caught this one doing its balancing act on the back fence. It had been robbing the bird feeders of food.
A green frog took up residence in a bird house my father built for me. It seemed an odd choice of residence, but it seemed happy with it. The morning I took this it appeared to be saying welcome to my home. It was there most of the summer either hanging out the opening or resting on top of the birdhouse.
I love bluebirds. There are a few that would stop by for a little while, but none ever lingered for long. I was lucky enough to catch this one resting and taking in the view in my backyard.
This was my father's cat. I include him with wildlife because he wasn't domesticated. The closest thing he ever got to being a pet was coming to feed at a bowl my dad set outside for him. There seemed always to be a scruffy majestic quality about him.

These are a few of my myriad collection of photographs. Looking through picture files tonight brought back so much joy. One of my biggest inspirations when writing is to search through photographs. I will stop and look at a picture and listen for the words it wishes me to speak.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2011
Photographs: Susie Clevenger
ABC Wednesday Prompt: The letter J


This Relationship Needs to End

Really, why do I have to continue with this relationship!?!  You ply me with tender touches as if that is enough to end the pain plaguing me. I sit down thinking you will be there and find only pieces of you strewn across the room.

I am looking forward to a long term separation. Every time you come into my life there are tears. I sit blowing my nose grieving I am in this position again. I wrack my brain trying to find when and where I allowed myself to be so vulnerable.

I am tired from the long nights, coughs, and chills that signify the need for your presence! I want it over now! This relationship needs to end!!

My humorous way of looking at a dreaded cold. :)

Sep 17, 2011

I should have, but I didn't

Just another day, I got up with the alarm clock playing its tired buzz.  Just once I would like to greet the morning with a smile. Too many days of tossing and turning have added up to me feeling more like a Zombie than human.

I hate sleeping alone. The other side of the bed feels like it has its own zip code. I should be used to it by now. It has been six months since Darrell left me. Each night I think I am prepared to face an empty pillow staring at me, but I roll over and see it and I am back to the first night alone again.

Why didn’t I see it coming? I should have. In retrospect there were so many signs, late nights at work, always keeping his cell phone next to him and out of town trips for work.  I couldn’t see adultery because my eyes were filled with denial. Darrell was good at feeding me what I wanted to hear.

The redundancy of my emotions is like a talk show in reruns, the same people saying the same thing getting the same results. I have to, no I must, move on. This pity party train I have been on needs to stop. I should be relieved he is gone. My life had been spent doing what he wanted. I think it is the unknown that frightens me. I had been too comfortable swimming in the stagnant pool of my marriage than risk the ocean of change with its uncertainty.

This has got to be something other than just another day. My life is my own now. I get to make the decisions on its course. I have had too many days of tears. Perhaps I should let my shower symbolize washing the whine out of my life. Yes, this is as good a day as any to start again. Perhaps I will start by throwing away that damn pillow!

This is a story written from Carry On Tuesday's prompt I (she,he) should have seen it coming. It is fiction, but the emotion is real. I have known too many people who have lived this scenario.
©Susie Clevenger 2011
Written for Prompt #123


I will learn to let go

I have carried the pain too long. This song speaks for me.

Sep 16, 2011

My Freedom

This is my freedom, a concrete sun shining down on me through skyscraper eyelids. I have traveled the world of open spaces where nothing blocks the view of the sky, but I felt imprisoned. I couldn't hear my dreams for the twinkling of the stars.

My spirit dances to the sounds of the city streets. The vibration of the subway traveling through its railed arteries is my heartbeat. Inspiration never sleeps here. I hear it in voices walking the sidewalks, car horns demanding a path to destinations or music escaping the walls of theaters.

Neon dreams flash on the sides of buildings. I envision the day my image will light up Times Square. I can't go home to improbable when the impossible waits in the smog to open opportunity's door. Around the corner I may meet my destiny.

Some say I am too naive, failure waits to find me. I disagree. I know I will make mistakes, but what is a dream if you don't put on your shoes and walk your way through it? I am here New York. Thank you for your welcome!

 ©Susie Clevenger 2011
Free Write Friday: Photograph


Sep 14, 2011

Not So Girly

When I was growing up I spent a lot of time following my dad around. He was a mechanic and I often sat playing with my cars, trucks, and tractors at his feet. The smell of grease was like cologne to me. It was so much a part of my dad.

When I got old enough to actually be of any help, I spent many hours working with my dad on whatever project inside or out that needed a helping hand. Some of the jobs I helped with were  mixing concrete for the supports on our back porch, tearing down old fences, and removing the flue inside the house to prepare for our wall furnace. I was a tomboy and as my mom so fondly said to me, "I was the son he never had."

Even today I like things that are considered more male oriented. I watch American Chopper with my husband Charlie. I love the creativity of the concepts for their client builds. This week was an episode that had Paul Teutul Jr. building a bike for the game company Epic Games. It was for their game Gears of War, a futuristic military science fiction game.

The beginning concept was to build a two wheeled motorcycle, but as they started working on ideas they decided to build a trike. It has 14 inch wheels front and back, reverse, and a push/pull cable system for steering. The scenario for the game has humans fighting huge locusts, so therefore elements on the bike included crash bars, and dual gattling guns. It  turned out to be an amazing work of functional art. With Paul Jr.'s vision his creation became something that could easily be a vehicle in the game

As I earlier stated I am still a tomboy to some extent and the episode is one of my favorites. I actually have a motorcycle background. When I was 21 I did pit crew for motocross/enduro in the Kansas City, MO area. I was the only girl at the time involved in it. There was just something about the dirt, the grease, and the noise that had me feeling right at home. 

Sep 13, 2011

I is for ideas

I seem to have a head full of ideas. They come in all sizes and tend to keep me up at night. I haven't an off switch to my thinking it seems. With the unfortunate complication of being a tiny bit hyper,well perhaps tiny is too mild a term, I want to act upon each idea until the next one pops into my head. I then leave the first to go to the second to go to the third to go to the.... You can see the pattern.

Frankly I am amazed I can sit down to write something and complete it. Wait, I have a whole folder of uncompleted writings. I refer to them as poetry litter. You know all those starts and stops that fill up your documents folder on your computer. Ideas will flow and then there is a roadblock. I stop with the grand intent that I will eventually get back to it, but another complication arises when I can't find anything because I forgot the title of my last effort. Frustrated, I attempt being  organized by sweeping the unfinished poetry into a file  titled "Poetry under construction." (Probably you have made the correct assumption that it is a large file.)

Yes, my head is full of ideas. Some should get proper consideration, others should just be erased. I seem to not have much control over it. Their are those who have suggested I get therapy, but I refuse. I don't like the "idea" of someone attempting to guide me into becoming normal. 


Sep 10, 2011

Six Word Saturday 9/10/11

I am going to King Biscuit

I love blues music and I am going to the King Biscuit Blues Festival in October in Helena, Arkansas. I will have the privilege of seeing my friend Mike Zito perform there. His song Pearl River won a BMA (blues music award) for song of the year in 2010.

Sep 9, 2011

Autumn and To Kill a Mockingbird

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. Depending on what part of the country you live in it is as colorful as spring. The beauty of the trees as they are decorated by frost in yellows, oranges, and browns is breathtaking. Orange pumpkins decorate tables or doorsteps as jack-o-lanterns. The smell of harvest and the call of crows fill the air on chilly mornings.

I can't think of fall without thinking of To Kill a Mockingbird. I read the book for the first time when I was a child and it just happened to be in the fall. It is one of my favorite books and one of my favorite movies. The story captivated me from the first time I read the book. The character, Scout, is an outspoken tomboy with the ability to find herself in trouble at almost every turn. I identified with her growing up. I even had the same buster brown haircut.

The book had an impact on me. I was too young at my first reading to fully understand prejudice, but I saw it for myself many times. I can clearly remember the day segregation ended at my school. I was in the third grad and our teacher told us we would have new friends entering our class. It was an autumn day when the door opened to our classroom and history was made.

Yes I love fall. It is the time of harvest, color, chilly days, and memories. I will curl up on the longer evenings with a book and  daydream of how far I have come in life and look forward to all that lies ahead.

I actually got to meet the actress who played Scout, Mary Badham at a library in Clear Lake Texas. It was like a dream come true to meet the person who brought Scout's character to life on the movie screen.

Written for Free Write Friday
Celebrating Autumn


Sep 7, 2011

H is for Hello

When have we not yearned for love in some manner? Just to hear the voice of someone we love can break the loneliness. My darling husband is almost always with me. I long to hear his voice when apart, but the voice or should I say voices I wish I could hear are those of my mom and dad.

Both are gone now. I haven't any recordings of their voices. If I could just pick up the phone and hear one of them say hello, my tears wouldn't fall. My advice to anyone would be don't let a chance slip away to hear the voice of a loved one. We are so busy texting, communicating through e-mails, instant messaging to take time to actually sit down to make a phone call or use the wonderful technology such as Skype that allows you to see and hear the one you love. Moments slip away too quickly. Reach out and say hello.

Hello Again

Hello again, hello
Just called to say hello
I couldn't sleep at all tonight
And I know it's late
But I couldn't wait

Hello, my friend, hello
Just called to let you know
I think about you ev'ry night
When I'm here alone
And you're there at home, hello

Maybe it's been crazy
And maybe I'm to blame
But I put my heart above my head
We've been through it all
And you loved me just the same
And when you're not there
I just need to hear

Hello, my friend, hello
It's good to need you so
It's good to love you like I do
And to feel this way
When I hear you say, hello

Hello, my friend, hello
Just called to let you know
I think about you ev'ry night
And I know it's late
But I couldn't wait

Neil Diamond

ABC Wednesday Prompt: H


Letter to a Friend

 Dear Friend
      The sun broke through the clouds
today to shine in my window. The
earlier bleakness had me in tears.
I was missing my father.
     The sunshine reached beyond my
window into my heart.  Joyful memories
of my father filled me.
     I can’t know how your day has gone,
but I know there will be dark days. I hope
when they come you will let the sunshine
inside to push away the melancholy.
     May this note bring a smile when
you need it. You are not alone.

    Your Friend

P.S. I wrote this from my father’s desk. I
am sure he would have stamped it with
a smile also!