Collaborative Book with Mom

After making books with Blurb since 2006 I’ve finally done a first draft of a collaborative book with my mother. Now, before I explain this you should know that from 2006, when my mother saw her first Blurb book, I had her convinced I was the ONLY one who could make these. I did this to elevate my sibling rank within our family. My sister is rotten, my brother is worthless, and I am clearly the ONLY one who matters…..
Mom thought the book thing was native to ME. For years it worked perfectly.

But then mom asked “Why don’t you make me a book of my poetry.” To deflect this I fed her the line that makes many people cringe. “Sure, I’ll make you a book just as soon as you edit your work to the best twenty-five poems.” She responded as I expected her to. “Narrowing to twenty-five is impossible,” she said. I said, “Well, when you get there let me know.”
As expected, she was slightly delayed with this process. After six years, my ranking within the family had plateaued. I’m still, by far, the most important sibling (wink, wink) but I wanted to put the final nail in the coffin of my brother and sister, so while at my mother’s house a few weeks ago I made this first draft.

I’m not stupid. I didn’t tell her I was making the book otherwise we would have had MASSIVE creative differences in regard to which poems best paired with certain photographs. I just did it. I also just did it because I knew it was a first draft. I do this all the time with books, but I’m amazed at how many folks I run into who either never think of doing this or are convinced they are going to make a perfect book the first time out. The odds of their doing so, in most cases, are very slim. I’ve found that doing drafts takes all the baggage associated with making books and throws it out the window. My question is “What is the downside?” I’m on the hook for ONE copy and when I get it I live with the good and bad,and I learn from the draft and make a better, more polished book the second time around. Sometimes I even do three or four versions before I’m happy. Yesterday I was faced with someone wanting a signed copy of this thing, which caught me by surprise, but I explained this was only flavor number one and there was a subsequent flavor on the way.
There are things about this book I like. The overall dark and somewhat edgy feel. The portrait format. And I also love the puzzle you are required to solve when you combine seemingly RANDOM imagery with specific poems. I LOVE certain spreads. I don’t love page numbers. I love the mixture of image and border sizes. I don’t love the size of the copy. I also should have used charcoal grey or black end sheets and NOT the light grey, and I don’t like the final image in the book, it’s just too obvious. I do like the scanned, blank 4×5 negative I used in the front, and I REALLY like the spread with title page on the right and definition of inertia on the left. Imagewrap worked well although this is only a stand in cover image. I’ve got another image, very similar to this one, that has a different meaning to me and version two will see this new image on the cover. I think twenty-five poems is a good number and a roughly 60-page overall book is good and fits the attention span of the audience of this particular publication. I also see a series of these books which is why this one will be titled “Volume One.”

Version two will be pretty solid I think. This book is not for sale, nor will it ever be. It was not made to make me famous, or her. It was not meant as a barometer of my talent, or hers. It was simply an exercise, and a record of her work and mine and how those two things play together. This book alerted me to the fact I’ve been missing an entire genre of books. There is much to do….

Poem from Mom: Ten Cents a Dance

needing someone
her blue eyes wishing
looking for love
in the empty faces
of strangers
dance hall music
promising romance
shimmering lights
dancing around the room
as the mirrored ball spins
sweeping her up again
her choice
of who will touch her
hold her tenderly
closed eyes pretending
music returning memories
as they dance
swaying to and fro
through her dream field
quieting her lonely fear
answering her call
for 10 cents a dance

Poem from Mom: Hummingbird Chili

“Hummingbird Chili”

the dreaded tap on the cabin window
just above the bench where the cats sleep
they leap for the birds that fly into that window
I run for the door leaving my pot of chili simmering
HELP ME LORD! get to that bird before the cats do
TOO LATE! there stands my beautiful bobtail cat
with a yummy dead looking hummingbird
clenched firmly in her mouth
BUT WAIT! is it REALLY dead
or is there a miracle nearby waiting to happen
I left the grocery bags from yesterdays shopping
hanging on the inside of the porch door
I grab them and throw them fast and hard at bobtail
who is giving me a dirty watch your step mama look
PRAISE BE! she drops the tiny destressed bird
I carefully quickly pick it up
the hummingbird sits in my hand recovering
blinking its eyes and changing its footing frequently
for the rest of its handmade hospital stay
as we sit in the morning sun pondering
this tiny beautiful trusting creature
makes me realize how fragile we are
how much we need to look out for each other
how much we need to trust and love
as I return to the chili to give it a stir
a hummingbird feather
slowly falls off my flannel shirt sleeve

and drifts into the pot

Poem from Mom: Rules


there are many rules
new ones and old
we have to choose
what we are told

you can’t do this
you can’t do that
you must be thin
you can’t be fat

where am I to look
for me myself and I
up in the sky
or in apple-pie

chance filled choices
creating whats new
hearing your voices
what you will do

do not fret get
live life well
the best is yet
time will tell

Poem from Mom: Slot Machine

Slot Machine

slot machine life
all those days gone by
stacked like stairsteps
stored on slot machine like film
running through the annals
of a 72 year old mind
like watching a movie
with no beginning
and no ending
starting and stopping at random
unorganized pictures
holding on to each other
to keep the present coagulated
laughing and crying
until the pictures stop
and I drop another coin
into the slot