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