Borrowed Pages – “the last day”

On the first day of September, we ended our long series of “write!” salons at JohnnyCakes Cafe in Nyack, which we “prompt”-ly eulogized in verse. Many thanks to Mary Blehl for sharing her fresh-on-the-page musings.

Our community “write!” salons continue at three other times and places this fall; check our calendar for details.


Last Day Hodgepodge 

by Mary Blehl

 

The last day never happened.

When the Volkswagen van engine blew up

Requiring another four weeks of work to pay for another

Only to have the last day not the last day

When the engine blew up again.

More money, more time.

The last day moved to a day riding with two crazy guys

Across the country

At 100 mph so we could have lots of time to sight-see

And get there in a week.

 

The last day I saw my mother

Fell on my son’s 7th birthday.

“You should go home to Erich,” she said.

I did, and never saw her again alive.

 

The last day of cleaning an apartment

To go to an owned house.

The dirt never stopped—32 hours to get it sparkling.

I wanted that security deposit

And wasn’t taking any chances.

 

The last day of writing in the coffee shop,

Remembering the prompts

Stones—how vividly I recall the family ones shifting and re-organizing

(One is missing now).

The variety of responses to the same prompt,

No repetition anywhere.

Prompts that brought out love, bloody violence, dialogue, gentle reflections, sex, memories of childhood, visual splendors, humor,

And wonder how so much could come from a simple idea.

The Hopper House –paintings and thoughts about Edward looking at the river (David loaned me his notebook).

Another kindness—half a blueberry pancake so delicious it became a poem.

Dishes crashing.

Comfy 50s tables and funky atmosphere.

No formality.

Food surrounds like mother’s milk.

Children’s voices,

Professional waitresses whisking your coffee,

Bright lights – you can see the food.

Does the men’s room also have a porthole window and permanent dust greased in the corners?

The end of something good feels final, unwanted.

Yet other last days exude relief.

Let go of the past.

Yippee! It’s over.

This one may not really be the last.

We carry on…

 

Mother says~

To honor all of our mothers and the start of Mother’s Day weekend, our Friday afternoon community writing salon took up this prompt: “Your mother said, ….” A loving tribute to relationships and many tender stories followed. Enjoy these few borrowed pages from our writers. Happy Mother’s Day!


Come Home When You Can

by Steven Swank

 

Things my mother said:

Be kind to strangers, we are all going somewhere.

Don’t use so much peanut butter….
that jar has to last us all week.

Tell the truth, seems simple enough,
don’t hide your mistakes by making up stuff.

Come home when you can, she said.
Your father and I are here on the farm
waiting your safe return.

I return many times:

In sickness, in health, with girlfriends, without,
with joyous exuberance, burns, injuries, doubt,
from hitchhiking New England in winter or fall
or across the country, I return from them all.

Once with a girlfriend with whom I was living,
we came to celebrate with family Thanksgiving;
the sleeping arrangement raised their alarm,
so to sleep together, we go to the barn.

I think about these things as the coroner
and funeral guys lift her unceremoniously
onto death’s gurney, then wheel her
through the house and out the door.

Continue reading “Mother says~”

Carson McCullers, A Local Centennial Celebration

The afternoon of Sunday, February 19 was unusually balmy, offering a warm kickoff to the centennial celebration of local writer Carson McCullers. River River editors and members enjoyed a literary and musical performance based on the author’s work at Nyack Library, then a sunlit stroll to the historic Carson McCullers house, a white Victorian a short distance down South Broadway, for a festive reception.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nyack Library’s Carnegie Room provided a rich setting for actor Patrick Donovan’s dramatic monologue of “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.“, written by McCullers at age 19. Liliya Ugay followed with a haunting performance of her original piano composition inspired by the story, accompanied by Paul Neubauer on viola.

Continue reading “Carson McCullers, A Local Centennial Celebration”

The Invitation by Jean Marie Donnelly

Jean Marie Donnelly, also a member of Rockland County’s Writing Beyond the Basics, leads River River salons at Cuppa Pulp Writers’ Space. She is at work on a novel set in a dystopian world in which creativity has been banned. The following story, true to Jean Marie’s taste for the weird and fantastical, is based on a prompt called “The Invitation.” We always love a good twist!

~

I stare at the wedding invitation on my kitchen table.  There’s been some mistake.  The invitation looks exactly like the one my fiancée, Declan, and I picked out. I touch it to be sure; rough where the roses belong and pearl smooth around the edges. I run my finger across the raised lettering I had insisted upon.  D-E-C-L-A-N S-A-V-O-Y.  The letters are so neatly spaced out and his name feels so good under my fingers.  M-E-G-A-N L-A-N-G-S-T-O-N.  My finger traces out the rise, fall, crevice, and groove of each letter.  Surely there is some mistake.  Declan and I met during our junior year of college. We’ve been a genuinely loving couple for the last six years.  Why is Megan’s name there? This mystery is not helping the piercing headache I can’t seem to cure.

Continue reading “The Invitation by Jean Marie Donnelly”

Borrowed Pages: A Taste of the Macabre

We know we can always look forward to a taste of the macabre from John, a confirmed horror fan and writer who has been published in California Quarterly, Forge, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. John attends River River’s write! in Nyack, a weekly group that shares a writing prompt and a round of readings, in both poetry and prose. We bring you this unedited excerpt dripping fresh gore…

Writer’s Block

by John Morrison

Henry was frustrated. He wanted to write something down, anything. So he wrote about his frustrating inability to put words to paper. It didn’t help. He threw his pen down on the table, stood up, and grabbed the folding chair he had been sitting on. His knuckles turned white as he lifted the chair and heaved it through the window. The glass erupted outward and rained down on the sidewalk.

Continue reading “Borrowed Pages: A Taste of the Macabre”