The Things She Carried

I've followed the fires in Austin and Bastrop closely on Twitter watching the emergencies as they unfolded. Trying to help, I retweeted every plea and watched miraculously as almost all pleas were answered.  Offers of trailers, pastures and vet help rolled in. People offered feed and bandages. The government focused on getting the people out, while the people focused on saving animals. The first two days of the fire, there was almost zero coverage of any of this. I presume because it happened over a holiday and local news stations were understaffed.  Twitter was the only source of information.

We are in Day 6 of the Bastrop fire.  Now, there are offers from the Texas State Bar for legal help, photographers to help with lost treasured photos, free clean up supplies by Home Depot, low cost or free housing by the Realtor organization in Austin. Offers of still more pastures for horses or cattle and fund raisers by musicians continue to come in.  Church groups went house to house in the Stiener Ranch fire after the people were let back in with offers to take out the rotten food and give them bags of groceries.  (Even those homes not destroyed were without power for a couple of days and in the Texas heat most had rotten food when they returned.)

All of this human trauma had me thinking about one of my favorite books, "The Things They Carried." This thought led me to write the following poem.  I dedicate this to all of the fire victims in Texas.  Life dealt you a rough hand. 

The Things She Carried

The picture of your mother who died years ago
not yet scanned into your computer,
of course, your kitty, Lulu
and your puppy, Maxine.
That drawing by your now grown kid
as a 3rd grader framed in the hall,
the necklace your great grandmother left you,
the love letters from your husband during the war
who died last year.

You probably want some of your makeup and toiletries,
it could be a long night and a fortnight of days.
No time to grab clothes with the fire breathing on you now.
Got to go!
Got to run, run now!
It’s moving so fast.

You tell everyone it was only stuff,
you got your precious pets
no loved ones left at home anymore.
Stuff can be replaced, you say,
as the pictures from your life flash before your mind
and flare up in the house you left behind.
You know you will be okay, at least everyone tells you that you will.
But all you can see are the flames and the smoke billowing into your mind.
You can’t even remember all that you’ve lost.
Oh, you just remembered your teacup collection you’ve saved since you were 17.          

You have your mind
you still have that sense of humor, tinged with tears now
you have your hope, your dreams, your future.
Where do you start to put your life back together at 79?
It occurs to you that you should have grabbed
that pack of playing cards
so you could deal yourself a new hand.

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Changes Coming to Poet on Poetry as Budding Poet With a Demanding Muse Surrenders

Poet on Poetry Muse

I'm in Austin. We have been ringed by fires in and around the city for 2 days.  The good news is my house has been safe even though I back up to 700 acres of greenbelt and given our drought conditions, it is a little scary.  The bad news is I have severe allergies and asthma that had been dormant.  The air quality has affected me. Breathing is much more difficult.  A welcome problem compared to those who have lost lives, pets, and homes. 

Austin Skyline in foreground, Bastrop fire in background

My heart is heavy for the people in Bastrop and Austin, as well as all over Texas.  3.5 million acres have burned since December.  I hope you will all keep my city and state in your thoughts and prayers.  We really need rain and love.

Now on to the changes coming to Poet on Poetry. Between Google+, Twitter, email, Facebook, Poet on Poetry's Facebook page and the blog, Empire Avenue,  viewing other blogs, reading poetry journals and poetry books,  I have little time left for my job and writing.  

With my computers in the shop for over a week and then a short little vacation after that, I've had some time to think.  My thinking led me to restructure Poet on Poetry. My computers are still not acting normally.  Of course, the main one and most expensive one is 5 days out of warranty! How do the virus and Gremlin Gods know that?

The meltdown of my operating systems means that I lost all of my email files, which is where all of my Poet of the Week materials were. My Click-Free says it backs up email, but evidently it doesn't back up my email files.  So, if you sent me POW materials over the last month and I have not profiled you, please resubmit.

Keeping up with the logistics of the Poet of the Week and the duties of the blog have been taking more and more time.  With my job, trying to find time to write poetry and occasionally actually read poetry, and look for a new home, I am losing my focus with too much time on the blog.

I have been hesitant to cut back because you guys seem to enjoy the blog so much and I do too! But, the bottom line is I am a poet and writer, who is not finding time to write poems or anything else. 

The changes will not be drastic:

You can still submit your poems in Your Poetry! 
I will still highlight poets I come across, just not weekly! (I love discovering and highlighting poets!)
Contests and Calls for Submission can still be entered under that tab.
I will still put up my poems under that tab.
There will still be blog posts, just not weekly.

I need to dial it back to let the blog fit around my writing, instead of the other way around.  The blog experts out there say that all of this will hurt the success of the blog.  They also say that you should read other blogs, comment and do lots of tweeting.  All of which take more time. 

I am a budding poet, who found wonderful success with a poetry blog.  I am so grateful for that.  But the time to write has to exist or the budding poet becomes a dried up twig.  I hope you will still want to read poetry and see poets.  Help me keep this baby humming by submitting and commenting.  I'll always try to respond.

You guys have been amazing and I adore you!  Keep an eye out for posts on a more random basis to fit with a poet's random and demanding muse.  Now that I have bowed to her tantrums to give her more time, hopefully she will help me write the best poem that has ever been written.

Are you guys having as much trouble balancing all of the Social Media, blogs, work, life and writing? 

Share your coping tips, let's help each other!

Is your muse as temperamental as mine?
I compare her to a cat who will leave home if you don't give her enough attention. 
Here kitty, kitty, kitty...
Here kitty, kitty, kitty...