Member Monday: Cory by Deborah Gilson

Welcome back to Member Monday!  Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Cory

by Deborah Gilson

Life would be critical if I didn’t get another bunch of bananas today. I needed one to take to the YMCA for that night’s work out. I moseyed into Safeway for all the items on my list, paid for them and walked out.

I noticed a handsome man in his early 20s sitting on the sidewalk holding a sign reading: Hungry and Homeless. I grabbed a banana from my bag, walked over and sat down next to him, “Hi, I’m Debbie. Wanna banana?” He gently took the banana from my hand, peeled back the skin and said, “Thank you, Debbie. I’m Cory.”

Curiosity took over and it wasn’t long before I asked about his plight and how he’d become homeless. He said he’d been married and his wife’s father owned the apartment complex where they lived. Once they divorced, Cory was told to leave and explained he couldn’t afford the rent on his own. I asked whether he could get a room-mate for another unit and he said he wasn’t from the area and therefore, didn’t have anyone he could ask. He said his biggest lesson is he relied only on his efforts with his wife believing they’d be together forever.

I asked whether he could save up money from where he worked and he let me know he worked for his former father-in-law who let him go. He confessed after so many personal set-backs, he sunk into a deep depression and only had the energy to sit with a sign.

Cory said he didn’t have a place to shower and by now it was no longer the first thing on his mind anymore. I told him he was a decent looking person who only needed a little touch-up. He smiled and exposed the whitest, straightest, cleanest teeth in a most brilliant smile. My eyes flew open wide and he pulled out a toothbrush from his back pocket. I told Cory his teeth would get him through his darkest hour.

I handed Cory a $20.00 dollar bill and said I really didn’t care what he did with the money, however, I suggested he purchase an inexpensive, disposable, plastic razor. I told him to keep his blond hair combed and out of his eyes. I gave him a laundry list of things to keep in the forefront of his mind and to sit up straight when holding his sign.

Cory gave me an education in the hour we sat shoulder-to-shoulder. I told him I’d wondered since I was a child how people became homeless. I’d seen panhandlers in the streets of San Francisco since I was high enough to see out the back window of my mother’s car. Ross, my younger brother, and I would push out button noses to the window and watch them as our car drove past. Cory needed only one person to believe he was worth being a part of functioning society again.

I told him I’d come by next week and I’d better not find him sitting here because I knew he was going to make it. After my workout at the Sequoia YMCA the next week, I slowly drove into the Safeway parking lot fearing I’d see Cory sitting there still, however, his spot on the sidewalk was vacant. Although I was disappointed not to have another visit, I was relieved he knew someone believed in him.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

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Success Story Saturday: Ken Levens

Welcome back to Success Story Saturday.  As often as possible, we’re featuring Writers Forum members who have been published, won writing contests, or have otherwise found recent success as writers.  

Today we celebrate playwright and Writers Forum member Ken Levens for his recent play As You Wish, starring Writers Forum Treasurer, Jennifer Levens.  Writers Forum Program Chair, Sharon Owen, and Writers Forum Membership and Hospitality Chair, Jennifer Higley, are here with all the details.

Shakespeare’s Wife Sets the Record Straight in As You Wish

 by Sharon Owen and Jennifer Higley

Riverfront Playhouse was recently the scene of a laugh-a-minute production of As You Wish, starring Jennifer Levens and Chad MacFarlane.  The two-act, two-character play was written and directed by Ken Levens and ran as a fundraiser during the January 10-12 weekend.

In the production, Levens portrays Shakespeare’s wife,  Anne Hathaway, sent forward in time to set the record straight about her marriage. MacFarlane is a contemporary young American man who fancies himself an expert on Shakespeare. He is simply referred to as American Guy.

Sparks ignite quickly when Mrs. S and American Guy meet and begin a dialogue about The Bard.  The play is a delicious repast of clever one-liners, salted with literary allusions and peppered with zinging puns.

Mrs. S confuses her anagrams, referring to Americans who go “driving around in gas-guzzling STDs.” She berates Walt Whitman, saying his work is “just one long run-on sentence,” and attacks opera, calling it “Italian for death by music.” And the female half of the audience was partial to her quip, “If the world were a logical place, men would ride side-saddle.”

A good quote to describe Mrs. S in a nutshell is, “I don’t cause commotions; I am one!”

The American Guy has his share of keepers, too. Such as, “All you need to know about love is that women are crazy, and men are stupid.” And he refers to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as a play in which actors portraying Latin-speaking Romans, actually spoke their lines in perfect renaissance English.

Other quotable quotes:

“Love is not like Bingo–you can win at Bingo.”

“King Lear is a warning about not growing old before growing wise.”

Some of the literature, entertainment, and modern issues discussed by Mrs. S and the American Guy were:  Monty Python, Doctor Seuss, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the bees vanishing, GMO’s, fracking, and Lemony Snicket. Other references included Swift’s A Modest Proposal and the classic movie, Soylent Green.

Mrs. Shakespeare’s period costume was beautifully rendered, with décolletage that left little to the imagination where her ample bosom was concerned. By contrast, American Guy’s casual surfer dude costume looked just right for his character. The actors both projected their voices at ideal volume, neither too loud nor difficult to hear at any point in two hours of speaking.

Altogether, As You Wish  proves that playwright Ken Levens knows his literature, from its birth up to the present day, and knows how to serve it up with humor and wisdom.

Writers Forum members, we want to celebrate with you so please send your success stories to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.  

Member Monday: Drumbeat of Hope by Alicia McCauley

1000738_10200332415140013_830753501_nWelcome back to Member Monday!  Today we feature a poem by Alicia McCauley.  She crafted the first draft at the January Writers Forum meeting with Susan Wooldridge.  Alicia is a local teacher and has spent the last two summers teaching Creative Writing in Northern Uganda.  She will return to her home in Uganda in July.  To learn more about her upcoming trip, click here.  Alicia will be showing some of her photos from Uganda (along with snippets of her stories) at U Top It on Churn Creek from February 22nd-26th.  U Top It is donating a portion of sales on the 22nd toward her work in Uganda.  Alicia invites you to come and see the people and the land that have captured her heart.

Drumbeat of Hope

by Alicia McCauley

Africa constellates my dreams.
At night in the clarity between sleeping and waking
I feel the throwing absence
Of being away.

Bombs chant lightning across the sky
Of my peopled plain
The plain where Musee
Gray with wisdom
Picked the groundnuts
That dried in the sun
In circles like prayer mandalas
On the red earth.

I think of the groundnuts
Peanut cousins
Skinned in pink
The color of the kisses Africa leaves on my nose and cheeks.

War was once a horrific abstraction
Far from my Viewpoint house
Where campaigns of summer ants summitted my naked feet
In the grass that I once thought was green.

There is no green like my home in Bungatira.
I am a person of the forest.

At night I listen for the voice
That quells the trembles and the white fear of war
Fear that dampens the feathers in my pillow.

In the dark folds I strain for peace.
I count beads of praise.
And in the shattered sanctuary of night I feel the ache
Of my promise to return.

To Musee’s groundnut mandalas.
To red dirt.
To green forests.
To my peopled plain.

The voice in the night drowns out thundering bomb ghosts
And ushers me back to sleep.
Africa kisses my eyelids
And into my heart she presses
Her drumbeat of hope.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday Call for Submissions

Dear Writers Forum members,

Did your New Year’s resolutions include being more daring in your writing life and actually letting someone read some of the precious words you’ve scrawled in all of those notebooks?  Well, you’re in luck because Writers Forum is here to help you check that resolution off your list.

This year be brave and submit a piece for Member Monday.  We love to celebrate your talent and give you a little free publicity while we’re at it.  I’ve got quite a few Mondays in January and February just waiting for YOU.

So here’s what to do.  If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free.

Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links (like your author website, links to your books on Amazon, etc). Upon submission, the author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter.

Thank you and happy writing!

Fondly,

Alicia, your devoted webmaster

Member Monday: New Year’s Eve by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to feature a poem by poet, storyteller and children’s author, Linda Boyden.  You can purchase a hardback copy of Linda’s newest picture book Boy and Poi Poi Puppy at All About Books.

New Year’s Eve

By Linda Boyden

The year hangs on
like a ribbon dangling
from its paper spool,
tasting the swing
and sway of freedom,
yet with one end
tethered to the cardboard.

There are hours left
before the year can rest.
How to spend these
precious minutes?

Visit a forgotten soul.

Sweep away doubts.

Abandon regrets.

Mend a quarrel.

Overlook misfortune.

Accept grief but bury it.

Today will tick by
and the year will sigh
at its job well done
as it waits to be tucked
on the shelf of history.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Treasured Possessions by Darlene Keppler

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to feature a piece by member Darlene Keppler.  Welcome, Darlene.

Treasured Possessions

by Darlene Keppler

In this day of instant communiques it may seem trite to suggest we’ve lost touch with our families. We can pick up the phone in a moment and hear a loved one’s voice across the miles. But a personal letter, handwritten, disclosing thoughts and feelings seems to belong to a bygone era.

If you’re a sentimental pack rat, like me, maybe you have a drawer full of ribboned letters preserved over the years, hoarded as “pearls of great price.” My missive jewels are not kept because of their grandiose verbiage or literary style. Many are simple, thoughtful jottings to say, “I care.” Yet with each reading I laugh, or cry, and reminisce as I take mini-trips into faraway past.

I prize a letter postmarked October, 1940 and handwritten by my Aunt Agnes to encourage me in my new spiritual commitment. We are told in the Bible, “to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.” Aunt Agnes did just that.

APO #824, postmarked September, 1945 by my brother-in-law during World War Two, is another treasure. Just days after the birth of our daughter, he wrote, “September 14 was a day of moment in the Keppler family. Somehow-it must have been against great odds-a girl was born in our family.” (Before, all boys had been born.)

Our daughter, her husband and our three granddaughters spent six and a half years m Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea. There was no e-mail in the eighties, so we kept postal routes hot with an ongoing weekly log of activities. Diane, our daughter, always began her epistles, “Dear Ones,”-miles apart, but close in spirit. After the first year, I typed, xeroxed and bound those precious first impression letters from Ukarumpa, PNG. I entitled it “Dear Ones”, a gift to treasure of friendship, chuckles and fond memories.

When grandchildren beg, “Grams, tell us about the Olden Days,” maybe it’s time to get your pen and tablet out. Tell them about their roots. It could become one of the family’s treasured possessions.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Happy New Year from the President

I hope that everyone not only survived the holiday period, but survived with fodder for writing. I know did. I am bursting at the seams with possibilities.

Our holiday readings at the last general meeting were awesome; great variety of writing and food! We had new members join so that they were guaranteed a reading slot.

It was mentioned the laughter at our Board Meetings could get us kicked out of the library (not really, but we do slide out of our chairs, roll on the floor and turn red). The board members have elected to roll over their terms, but if anybody is interested in joining this raucous group, they are invited to attend one (held the Thursday before the 2nd Saturday-General Meeting, the next one is January 9th). If we don’t scare you off, you are invited to contact our nominating committee chaired by Deborah Gilson to have your name added to the slate for upcoming elections in March. Below is how it is “officially” IAW our Bylaws.

5.8 Officers and Directors shall be nominated by a Nominating Committee …

At the meeting immediately preceding the March annual meeting, the Nominating Committee shall present the slate to the members. Other nominations will be received from the floor during the March annual meeting, at which time the vote shall take place.

5.9 All nominees must be members in good standing.

5.10 Officers and Directors shall be elected at the annual meeting each March by written ballot, except a written ballot is not required when only one person is nominated for an office. Only members in good standing are eligible for office. Election shall be by majority vote.
**Complete Bylaws are on our site as a PDF at Bylaws
.  

We have some fantastic upcoming programs. Our Website now posts all upcoming programs, not just the immediate one. Please visit our new page Upcoming Attractions.

Until next month, keep your pen to the paper or your fingers on the keyboard.

Larry Watters
President