Cassandra on the Island: Wisterias

The following is the second to last section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

Wisterias

Lesson #1 – Find Beauty in the Smallest Things

Cassandra loved her granddaughter’s smile. Granted, if put under the gun, she would praise all of her grandchildren’s smiles, but there was something about young Toni Lyn’s smile that Cassandra found comfort in.

So when Toni Lyn called to ask if she could spend the summer with her on the Island, Cassandra immediately said yes. Toni Lyn’s parents however were less than amused with the idea when they found out. They feared that Cassandra would be a bad influence on their eighteen-year-old daughter’s perspective of the world. It wasn’t because of Cassandra’s past (they never truly knew about her time in Europe. Even for Cassandra most of it had slipped from memory and would only return as dark images in nightmares that left her strangely humming Mozart songs), but what Cassandra had become.

Cassandra had become a rascally old woman.

Cassandra loved to give her opinion about everything under the sun. Her opinions were always unique (and most of the time too unique). It was amazing to her children the change that occurred. It was almost as if Cassandra found a switch or a button that changed everything. Spending time with their mother soon became a chore of having to smile and nod to many strange and unique points.

Peter (the father of Toni Lyn) claimed the change in her personality arrived after her husband’s death. That was not the case. She was like this for at least three years before the good Reverend disappeared from her side. Living with her during that time could sometimes be uncomfortable for him. Where he seemed to fall back on his conservative upbringing and beliefs (and his questions pushed back into the shadows), she went to the other extreme.

By the “Summer of Poetry,” it had been four years since Jonathan’s death and Cassandra felt more alone each day. Her life seemed to follow a simple pattern. Continue reading

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My Fear of Poets

Recently, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing put up a billboard celebrating a local poet. I first saw this sign while driving on a highway this weekend, and afterwards I spent 20 minutes trying to understand what I read and then wondering how that one little sentence exactly was poetry. How safe that was for me or the other drivers is debatable (Considering my driving skills it is always debatable when I am on the roads).

The sign read only this: “Blood beats history as presence.”

Imagine seeing that in big white letters with a black background while driving and you will understand my car’s slight swervings. (I get what the poet is saying, but the imagery being used feels very aggressive to me; “blood” and “beatings,” etc.).

I’ve never really understood modern poetry and the sad thing is I have tried. But like the Freemasons, they have their own secret rules and initiations into deciding who can and cannot be in the club. I was never honored with the customary black turtleneck and ink quill as it were; but, honestly, I never sought it out.

I like classic poetry. I can be moved by a Shakespeare sonnet. I am a fan of the Romantic poets (and have quoted Keats often in my work), but the freedom from the classic rules you find in modern or contemporary poetry is what disarms me. Some I really like (Henry Williams’ work jumps to mind.) Yet, poetry, like modern painting, seems to now exist somewhere down in the stomach as a gut/emotional reaction as compared to something that can be easily analyzed on the page. And if you don’t get it, well, you don’t get it.

Yet, while I can accept that I do not understand most poetry today, I have a deeper reaction to modern poetry than simple confusion… Fear. Continue reading