Red Clay writings + that exciting project I mentioned yesterday

Hey guys.

I’ve mentioned the Red Clay Writing Project a time or two now, and today is our next-to-last day. It’s been a whirlwind, and I haven’t slept or cooked or spent time with Micah nearly enough–but I’m still sad that it is coming to an end.

Like I mentioned before, we’ve pretty much been writing nonstop.  I’ve got a Google Doc now brimming with story starts, scraps of poems, little bits of introspection….and most of that work is unpolished, rough, and completely unsharable.

Other fruits of my Red Clay work are pieces you’ve already seen, like my musings about root vegetables and my ramblings about vision.

Now, if you’ll indulge me, I’ll share a couple more with you.

*   *   *   *   *

The first is a poem inspired by this little scrap of plastic:

Sal L. Russo was my Pappaw, my Mammaw‘s husband and my mom’s dad.
I’ve saved this since I was a little girl.


Stiff, knuckly fingers
took scissors to me one day.
For those fingers,
for the hands and the body
that moved them,
I was the voice that told doctors,
“Yes, you can care for this old man.
He will be paid for.
He is covered.”

Skinny, withering,
wheezing in from plastic tubes,
leaning on a cane clutched tight,
he needed care—
needed me.

In a year, I was replaced
with a copy of myself—
younger, shinier,
not yet thumb-worn at the edges.
Useful, while I was used up.

The old man could have snipped me
into a trash can
like crescents of yellowed fingernail,
silver mustache trimmings,
an expired credit card.

But this old man,
practical as he was,
was also a man of songs.
Aged, bony fingers—
the same ones that wielded the shears—
plucked out melodies on guitars and banjos
as a tiny granddaughter looked on
and listened.

I once was a silent thing in a leather wallet,
only speaking at the pharmacy,
the hospital.
I once was a thing of business.
But now,
I make music.

*   *   *   *   *

The second poem I’m going to share came out of a movement and improv activity that we did in our class last Thursday where one of us would start a scene, the others in the group would join in. It was also inspired by my first date with my husband (six years and three days ago) and our honeymoon in New York City (almost three years ago).

Death-Defying Stunts and Other Human Oddities for Your Amazement.

Remember the fire-eaters,
the knife-jugglers, the sword swallower.
Remember the tattooed lady.
Remember the spectacle, the danger,
the applause of a mesmerized crowd.

Remember the Cyclone,
the old wooden coaster,
rickety click-clacking
up and down
crisscrossed, whitewashed
peaks and valleys.

Remember the Wonder Wheel,
that tilting car on the Wonder Wheel,
sitting with the one
who quickens your heart
and flushes your cheeks,
sneaking a curled pinkie
around his thumb for the first time
and the electricity of one feverish hand
reaching out for another.
You could look across the water,
across the glittering boardwalk lights,
across the popcorn-dusted bustle
of buzzing, bumping bodies,
and see sparkling Manhattan
stretching infinitely before you.

But you don’t.

You are in Brooklyn,
at Coney Island,
on the Wonder Wheel,
surrounded by sideshows and chaotic sweat,
clutching the trembling hand of the man
beside you—
the man who will still thrill you,
still swallow fire for you,
long after
the carnival

*   *   *   *   *

And last, here is the digital literacy project that I created to present to our group this morning and to share with all of you in the blogosphere, too:

The music is a song that our band, Fleet Machine, has been playing together since we formed in 2010. Blake wrote the song long before that, and it’s been performed in many different incarnations in different bands he and Micah have been in together. But this is the version we play, minus the vocals. (If you click the link above, you can hear the song in its entirety.)

The images are Creative Commons-licensed issues from flickr (full image credits here).

And the text, visual effects, and layout/design are all my own.

Thanks for letting me indulge a little.

*   *   *   *   *

Next post: two more recipes for gluten-free goodies. 🙂

Categories: musings | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Red Clay writings + that exciting project I mentioned yesterday

  1. My grandfather passed two years ago, and I’m sitting in his home as I type this. It takes a brave soul to reflect so deeply and publicly. Yours sounds like a creative man.

    The digital literacy project is awesome. After the first couple minutes, I wondered if it would address the economics of “real food.” And then it did. You’re addressing the big question of how to promote the social sea change that shifts priority away from consumerism. I liked the song too (Bernhard Fleischmann’s beats meet Maserati’s breakdowns).

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Cameron.

      Writing and sharing the poem about my grandfather was hard. He died when I was ten and was sick for pretty much my whole childhood. I have no idea how that guitar pick has traveled with me through almost three decades without getting lost, but I unearthed it from a box of keepsakes in our spare bedroom closet the other day and knew I needed to write about it.

      The DLP came out even better than I had hoped or expected it would. There was much more that I wanted to say, but I am proud of how it turned out. The best part was the feedback I got during and after sharing it today. People really responded to it, many with comments about how it made them think about changing their buying and eating habits. That was exactly what I wanted to hear.

      My humble thanks to you again! 🙂

  2. Sounds like an amazing experience!

    Thank you for sharing your poems, your music, and your project. Very, very cool 🙂

  3. Omg. I am in love with your music!!!!!!!

    • Ooh, did you go to our ReverbNation page? I’m so glad you like it. Blake and Micah are the creative geniuses–I just come up with a keyboard part every now and again. 🙂

      • I did! I hope it doesn’t creep you out that I downloaded your songs from ReverbNation too! I just thought they were AMAZING!

        And what are you talking about? The keyboards are what make it!

        Thanks again for sharing with us 🙂

      • I don’t think that’s creepy at all–I’m glad you like the music! Share us with your friends if you want–we’d love to have some fans up your way. 🙂

      • Will do! You guys rock!

      • Thanks! 🙂

  4. Hi Tanya:

    This is all so beautiful. When I first saw that image at the top, I thought to myself “is that a guitar pick, or a shredded credit card?” The way it’s worn at the tip reminds me of so many of the picks my dad had lying around when I was a kid. I loved your poem about your grandfather. And I love that he gave meaning and purpose to something so disposable.

    Your DLP is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing it here. If i haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now – I’m so glad you found my blog so that I could in turn find yours.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words about my writing. I was excited to share the video on the blog because I knew my food-minded friends would relate to it, but I was a little nervous about the poetry because it’s so personal and so different from my usual writing topics and style. It means a lot to me for you to leave such a thoughtful comment as you’re one of the bloggers I admire the most….so, thanks.

  5. Pingback: gluten-free experiments, part two: fruity nutty cocoa bites, cranberry coconut almond muffins, and a bonus recipe: peach & tomato gazpacho! « humble feast

  6. Pingback: supper tonight – 6.25.12 and 6.28.12 – pork (belly) ‘n’ beans – a guest post from Micah – plus 3-ingredient microwave chocolate cakes! « humble feast

  7. Pingback: know your food « humble feast


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