Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Seems like the right week for a reprise of this little ditty (as I once again file an extension).

Letter to the IRS

Every year I promise myself and the government that I will not file an extension.
That I will be a good citizen and get my taxes in on time.
Every year, I make the same promise.  Every year, I file the same extension.

Dear IRS,
I had every intention . . .
I was bent to the task,
pen to the paper,
face to face with those forms –
And then sang a summons, such sweet invitation,
Algerian finger chimes, fairies, ethereal pipes.
A daydream come to dance,
holding warm cups of wonder to pour on my head.
"Not now," I said.
Bills piled in baskets, receipts on the floor.
I never take calls when the bottom line's dead at the door. 
I implored that dream --
Come, take my hand, dance me, not lightly, sure palm at my back.
Let’s stomp the lights black and blue, bop bip be do,
swing song some slow notes, swollen long low notes,
hold along oh notes, slowly with me.
But after I scour the mail for what's been bought where
for how much and how many.
After all dues and subscriptions are entered, recorded with salaries, commissions.
After I've checked each check’s balancing act, please –
Blow bliss down my back till I rise and arch into the soft kiss of maybe.
Whisper my ears,
run your hands down my sides
till I reach for the moon.  Soon.
As soon as I stack and arrange last year’s leftover dust,
gather the details the daily dog scattered beside of his bowl.
Counting in columns, red and black slaloms down dry paper crinkles,
straighten the wrinkled statistics, specifically –
Closer, come closer, sweet, delicate breath on my face
help me erase all this data,
after I cross
this desert of detail –
douse me with moisture,        
corsage me, delight
            Not till I’m finished
            then –
take me lavender dancing, scarves in the wind
Hold me with honey, all the law will allow.
Move me.  Moonbeam me.  Fudge sauce, whip cream me.
Dance along dream me.
Hold me.
            Not now?

©1999 Sara Holbrook, Isn’t She Ladylike, Collinwood Media/Bottom Dog Press ALL RIGHTS RESERVED                             

Sunday, October 04, 2015

From the Park Bench Book Release


“Sara, how you doing?”

A complex question. I was sitting in a nice house with no job, two kids, and I’d just received the bad news that my former husband was also unemployed so there would be no more health insurance or child support coming. I’d just sat my stunned self on the sofa when the phone rang. Tony Moore was a partner at the second largest law firm in the world, one of two African American lawyers working there at the time, and he didn’t want to hear all that, so I said, “Fine.”

“We (Jones Day) have been doing some pro bono for CMHA (housing authority) and their new director Claire Freeman needs some PR help. Would you be available?”

It was 1991, I had just started visiting schools with my new self-published poetry books and this was the phone call that would change my life.  You don’t have to be schizophrenic to work all day in the hood and in impoverished schools and come home at night to your hot tub, but it certainly helps. I started hearing voices, lots of them.

From the Park Bench is a book of poems in multiple voices that has been 25 years in the writing. I don’t have much explanation for myself about that, just that over the years, through conversations with kids, teachers, CMHA residents and co-workers – I took a lot of notes. 

There is never one side to any story, and what I have learned is there are rarely only two sides to a story.

This afternoon I will be signing and introducing From the Park Bench, published by Red Giant Press from 4-6PM at Guide to Kulcher Bookstore, 5900 Detroit, Cleveland, OH. Joining me will be Michael Salinger who will be signing the paperback release of his book for teens, Well Defined, Vocabulary in Rhyme (also Red Giant).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bridging into Fall

I just sent a finished (I think) manuscript off to my editor, I accomplished my first 30 mile bike ride, and had our first school visit of the year at Chardon Middle School, right in our back yard. The leaves are feeling crackly, the temperature is dropping and evening is crowding the daylight hours.

I am embarrassed that I have taken such a long to visit this blog. My excuses are long and take me from Vietnam, to Hong Kong, to Nansha China, Canberra, Australia, Houston, Columbia, SC, Missouri (twice). And then I just needed some downtime. Healthy eating, bike riding, friend chatting, downtime. I mean, I really needed it.

Oh, and I needed to finish my new book. Very exciting.  The Enemy, a middle grade novel set in 1954 in Detroit. Themes are bullying, immigration, post traumatic stress (even though that term didn't exist back then) and women's issues. Oh, and the cold war and book banning. I am so excited about this book (Calkins Creek) and the incredible direction I've received from my editor Carolyn Yoder.

Next week we are off to visit Ruamrudee International School, Bangkok, Thailand. Looking forward to meeting new friends and writing with the students and teachers there.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Valentine's Day Story

Okay, his name was not Jim, but other than that, the following poem is a true story.  Hard to imagine any boy wouldn't have gone for those bangs and too young for braces buck teeth. I wore extra petticoats because I wanted hips like Annette Funicello, but instead I was shaped more like Pinocchio.  The only thing missing in this picture are the black cats' eye glasses that I needed to see the blackboard at school.  Irresistible. 

So, in the old days kids didn't have to bring valentines to the entire class.  It was possible for one girl (Bernadette Sehi) to get 35 valentines and the girl sitting next to her (B.O.Ploe) to get none. It was a day filled with high anxiety and kids consoling themselves by overdosing on little candy hearts. I suppose I was kind in the middle in the whole "who got the most valentines" contest. I don't remember, really.  But I remember a boy who was not named Jim who crumpled my valentine in his pocket and laughed with his friends (at me?).  It wasn't the worst thing that ever happened to me, and you'll be glad to know, I did not injure myself or others despite the murderous, vengeful thoughts going through my head at the moment I tried to capture in the poem. But 50 years later, I still remember.

On Valentine's Day, be nice.


I gave Jim a valentine.
He stuffed it in his shirt,
then stood there in the hallway
with his jerko friends and smirked.

I must be dumber than a doorknob,
but I thought I'd take a chance.
Now, my foot is itching in my shoe,
it wants to kick his pants.

My hands are searching
for a hiding place.
They want to choke his throat.
He thinks that I'm some joke.

One day I hope he feels
what burned is all about,
and he will learn too late

that love's too fine to be crumped out.

©1996 sara holbrook ALL RIGHTS RESERVED