Patti Writes

Hello Readers and Bloggers and Writers:

I’m taking a bit of a break this month-end to prepare for my Lit Salon Talk: Reading and Writing Historical Fiction, featuring my novel, Prairie Madness, Conspiracy at Fort Union.

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On Sunday, July 24, 2022, 4 p.m MST, the Las Vegas Literary Salon will sponsor what I hope and plan will be a lively Zoom discussion of the genre: its forms, content, excitement, frustrations, research methods, rewards … (You may fill in your own experiences as readers/writers.)

Hope to hear from you on July 24, with your questions and comments. The zoom link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4635856164. Registration is not required but helpful. Go to this link to register https://lvnmlitsalon.org/events-2/

Edwina Romero aka Patti Writes


I plan to attend
Lit Salon Talk: Reading and Writing Historical Fiction


Patti Writes: A Circle of Light

“Is it time yet?” I whisper loudly. ‘In a stage whisper,’ Nanna would say.

I am poised with the red table lamp, its cord dangling from the outlet between the two kitchen windows, in one hand, and my library book under my arm. In the small bedroom off the kitchen, Ma is crooning gently to Denise, the baby. Ronnie’s silence means he is staring intently at Ma’s lips. Denise babbles. Then a sigh, like at the end of a long hard day at the factory. And Ronnie whispers ‘good night, Mum.’

Soon after, Ma slowly backs out of the ‘kids’ room, silently closing the door to within the width of her hand.

I know not to breathe or the spell will be broken.

Then, I scramble through the open window onto the screened-in back porch, while Ma pours two juice-sized glasses of milk, then assembles our butter and saltine cracker sandwiches. I set the lamp on the box between two low-slung beach chairs. The cord is just long enough, actually, taut, and I switch on the light. My job done, I lie back, book on my lap, and watch the outlines of the houses on Marion Street melt away, and dots of lights appear in their windows. As darkness claims day, the lamp’s bulb creates a bright circle of light, an oasis, big enough to include us, our snacks, and books. I love this.

Balancing our goodies on Nanna’s old wooden tray, Ma enters the porch through the doorways—kitchen door to back-hall to porch door to porch. She transfers plates and glasses to the box and returns to the kitchen. In my mind, I see her stack the tray beside the toaster and begin the search for her book.  

I wait.

She returns.

We establish ourselves in our chairs—scootching around for comfort. It is hot summer in East Boston and sticky humid. “Not a breath of air,” Nanna’s voice says in my head. City sounds are lazy—a dog bark, a car horn, a kid’s laugh, the brief smack-thud of a moth trying to get through the screens.

My mother always claimed she was tricked into agreeing to move to this flat on the top floor of my grandfather’s three-story apartment building on busy Meridian Street. As she told and retold it, she and Daddy stood in the empty kitchen with its brass fittings and grey, double soapstone sinks, and Dad said, “Look Reta, a big back yard for the kids.”

“It was dusk,” she’d say to me. “No screens. Who could tell that our so- called big back yard was actually the neighbor’s?” Our flat had only this back porch, screening added later against the moths, overlooking the back yards of other houses.

 Our building had no back, side, or front yard. But we had this circle of light and reading, reading in the night on the back porch together.

This memory sustained me through entrance exams, essay tests, comprehensive exams, dissertation defense, and even conference papers as I adjusted the microphone and the reader’s circle of light on the podium.


Read here to learn more about Las Vegas Literary Salon’s Elmer Schooley Short Story Prize writing contest. Cash prizes of $300 each to the top three submissions and an opportunity to be included in the contest’s short story anthology of qualifying entries. Download Submission Guidelines here. Short Story Contest submission deadline changed to July 1.

Patti Writes

Here we are. Poetry Month 2022.

This is a poem I “keypunched” when I worked as a keypunch operator at Harbor Service Bureau, Wilmington, CA; circa 1968. Using simple number coding, I punched cargo data from a ship’s manifest into the keypunch cards.The punched cards were then “verified” by another keypunch operator by re-entering the data into the cards I had punched. Once verified, the cards were fed into the computer, which filled an 8 by 4 foot “Computer Room” and ultimately created a detailed cargo print-out for unloading the cargo. 

Clearly, I felt as though the keypunch machine was in charge of my life. When all six of us were keypunching, it was very noisy. Also clearly, any subject can be fodder for poetry.


PATTI WRITES

A FEW FAVORITE WORDS ABOUT WORDS

Helen Keller sums it up: “Literature is my Utopia.”

Carl Sagan amplifies:

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic. (Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory, 1980)

From a Poet: “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and look at it, until it begins to shine.” Emily Dickinson

From a Master of Suspense: “She was fascinated with words. To her, words were things of beauty, each like a magical powder or potion that could be combined with other words to create powerful spells.” Dean Koontz, Lightning.

Many thanks to David Pascale for sharing his collection of words on words.


PATTI WRITES: Edwina P. Romero is a founding member of Las Vegas Literary Salon. She has authored several books including her novel, Prairie Madness, Conspiracy at Fort Union. For more about Patti, click here.

The Transmogrification of My Hands

Edwina P. Romero                                                              

Once nimble-fingered, strong, and knuckle-crackable, my hands have become autonomous lethal weapons always at the ready to attack my sense of self, to confound me, and to turn an innocent, heretofore intuitive movement into a booby trap.

I tape a package and tape sticks to my thumb; I pull gently at the vacuum cleaner, it leaps forward tangling its own cord into a heap of spaghetti. I grasp my well-worn, familiar mug and fingers miss the mark, shooting mug and coffee forward, out of reach. Singling out and retrieving one sheet of paper has become a major and arduous accomplishment, often concluding with several wrinkled, unusable discards.

As in a possible episode of “The Twilight Zone,” my ladies’ hands metamorphosed into independent claws disconnected from my autonomic nervous system. Once involuntary actions, such as rubbing my eye, now require detailed planning so as not to run the risk of poking out my eye. Now, I consciously think out the steps, the route, my hands, thumbs, and fingers will take in order to perform the rubbing of the eye successfully and without pain.

Typing, (currently referred to as ‘keyboarding’) a learned skill similar to playing piano (hence ‘keyboarding’), has become anxiety-provoking torture. For way over 40 years, I relied on this skill—without thought—while composing such documents as scholarly papers, creative mish-mashes, memoirs, and reports. And, having reached the typing speed and accuracy worthy of an Executive Administrative Assistant, I embraced a false, oh very false, sense of security. I believed that skills once-learned and heavily practiced achieve a sort of permanency.

However, my newly evolved fingers no longer strike the intended keys, indeed these alien claws play dirty tricks—creating such abominations as wrrd, or rwod for word. How do my fingers do such things? They race ahead, lag behind, or enter mortal combat with each other and my thumbs; they jump together on one key; they ignore the space bar; they skip over whole words.

These hands and fingers that I once trusted to steer a car, comb my hair, tie the string on my baby daughter’s bonnet, no longer can be relied upon to do my bidding. And, sometimes, just to be perverse, they ache.

These hands, fingers, thumbs, knuckles, and wrists don’t even look the same. They are spotted, wrinkled, and bent into odd shapes. I no longer recognize these hands, nor can anticipate their next movements.

Yet, these are small betrayals. Not cancerous or gangrenous—only mind-boggling—minor irritations reminding me that I am organic. So, when my hands trp me up [as they just did with trp not trip], I shall recall that all transformations may not be spiritual.  

TRY IT: I wrote this essay in response to a one-word writing prompt: transmogrification. Try it, or chose your own word.


Edwina P. Romero is a founding member of Las Vegas Literary Salon. She has authored several books including her novel, Prairie Madness, Conspiracy at Fort Union. For more about Patti, click here.

Patti Writes

APRIL IS FOR WORD LOVERS

The Las Vegas Literary Salon joins the rest of the country in celebrating the joy of poetry. The Academy of American Poets – https://poets.org/national-poetry-month – designated April as National Poetry Month recognizing poetry in all its forms and styles from rhymed verse, to free form, experimental, cowboy and cowgirl poetry, prose-poetry, and on and on.

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Poetry provides us all – even those of us who do not think of ourselves as poets – with the means to express strong feelings through imagery, rhythm, and sometimes a special, concentrated language, a language we do not use in our daily communications. People who write poems write from the heart.

When my daughter was born, my mother — not a writer or a poet and not a high school graduate — wrote:

Rarest of children, child of my child
Angel on earth with a heavenly smile
Cherub to cherish although far apart
Here or there you are still in my heart
Eternally I’ll love you never forget
Love is the answer give and you’ll get.

Poetry gave my mother the means to express her deep joy at the granddaughter born a thousand miles away. 

I think you’ll agree we can all benefit from spending time with poems. So please – forget politics and pandemics – join us for an hour of non-stop poems.

THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 2021, 6:00 – 7:00 PM via ZOOM
for THE FIRST ANNUAL Las Vegas Literary Salon
Open Mic(rophone)Poetry Event

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4635856164

DROP in and –
• READ a poem or three – your own work and/or your favorite poet’s,
• HANG OUT quietly and listen,
• SEND COMMENTS (not required),

Please join us.


Call for Submissions – Tapestry: Tales, Essay, Poetry.
Find out more here. Deadline for submissions, June 1, 2021


Patti Writes

PHOTO: DAVID PASCALE

Hello and welcome to Patti’s blog – all things [except for the occasional digression] books, reading, writing… Yes, I am one of the founding members of the Las Vegas Literary Salon (LVLS). One – maybe distant – day, we will bring Salon activities, i.e., book fair, salon talks (with refreshments) to the streets, or at least one of our streets, or maybe a store front… And, coming soon, the LVLS publication: Northeastern New Mexico Tapestry: Poetry, Essays, Tales. See Call for Submissions here. In the mean time, be sure to join us for Visits with the Author via Zoom, each fourth Sunday at 4 p.m.

Today’s blog features a sampling (Tiger’s Pics) of books by and for Las Vegans. Yes, Tiger was born and abandoned somewhere on the outskirts of town.

Some books are about Las Vegas, some are not. Troll through and find your pic. Many are available locally.

Paper Trail, 158 Bridge St., (505) 454-1337; Books of the Southwest, 247 Plaza, 505 469-0517; Brotique 505, 707 Douglas Ave, www. Brotique505.com.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, Douglas Adams.
Patti