Today, She Swam Again

Dolly swam this morning. Like many mornings this summer. In and out. Smiling as she wades in, wagging her tail until it’s submerged. Smiling as she runs out.

She doesn’t know it’s Labor Day, doesn’t realize the significance of the fireworks that scared her half to death last night. Doesn’t realize that summer is coming to an end. All she knows is that she went swimming.

She doesn’t know that it might be the last time she swims this season. That the cool evenings will give way to cool days. That too soon, the lake will be frozen once more.

Because she isn’t cursed with that knowing, Dolly suffers no melancholy. But she also isn’t blessed with knowing that she should savor every moment because it’s fleeting – and perhaps should linger a while longer in the cool waters of the mountain lake.

I’m both blessed and cursed with awareness that things change; life is ephemeral. Yet I still fought back my desire to swim in the dark blue water under the stars last night.

Tonight, maybe I’ll have another opportunity.

-Patricia A. Nugent, September 2016

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Trump May Do Some Good

This isn’t what I want to be writing about. But I can’t keep silent – not when the stakes are so high.

https://voxpopulisphere.com/2016/08/15/patricia-a-nugent-trump-may-do-some-good/

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No More Time

It was so fascinating that I stayed up until I finished it. Frankly, I didn’t care for it at first, but then I couldn’t put it down. The story about two young lovers in Louisiana during the Civil War unfolded in a very stark yet intriguing way.

Entitled Penthe & Alphonse, the thin book was a gift from my friend Frank. He sent it from the hospice room of the author, Mark Morneweg. A dozen years ago, Frank had logged many hours at my mother’s bedside, generously helping to pave the way for her passing. He was now doing the same for his friend.

“Perhaps you could write Mark about his book, just a few words from a fellow author. It would mean so much to him,” Frank wrote, including Mark’s email address.

I readily agreed to do so – once I had read it. After all, I wanted to be authentic in my review and not just appease him. As a writer, I’m sensitive to the difference between concrete feedback and superficial acknowledgement.

After carrying the book around with me for ten days, I resolved yesterday morning, while traveling the NYS Thruway, to read it that night and respond to Mark. When I arrived home, I grabbed it out of my satchel and placed it in queue for my evening’s activity.

While I was working on my own writing project that afternoon, Frank notified me that Mark had died the night before. Regret flooded my consciousness – regret that I had squandered the privilege of offering a fellow writer some appreciation and encouragement, two things every writer craves – especially one hoping for a literary legacy.

Last night, I read his book in its entirety. The beauty of Mark’s 99-page novel lies not in what he wrote but in what he left out. Much like poetry, his prose painted an image, gave an impression, while trusting the reader to figure it out. That’s a challenging literary device, one that I struggle to master, so eager am I to draw conclusions for readers.

I missed the opportunity on this physical plane to commend Mark for his literary contribution. But I can commend his work to others. And share my oft-repeated lesson that time and people are finite, and we should act accordingly.

Thanks for finding me on the Thruway yesterday, Mark. I hope this tribute finds its way to you.

Patricia A. Nugent
July 11, 2016

 

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Stains

Trump is now trying to re-invent himself to appeal to the general electorate. But he has spilled his entrails all over the globe, and the stain on the American image and psyche remain. The discoloration won’t go away.

Sometimes it resembles purple and green bruises, notably on women and minorities….click below to read more. 

https://voxpopulisphere.com/2016/06/07/patricia-a-nugent-stains/

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Anger on the Shore

White caps crash
Waves slam the sandy shore
Surf chases meandering feet
Back away, she roars
Back away

You’re angry, I say
And why not?
You offer bounty
And we dump plastic
Spill oil
Explode bombs
Poison creatures
Bring on your fever

Back away, she warns
Or I’ll melt my ice caps
Bust your levies
Flood your cities
Kill your food source
Deny you life

I’m angry too, I confess
My planet is being destroyed
My water, my air, my land
My life force

Back away, I roar
Corporate polluters
Over-consumers
Climate-deniers
Military forces
Frackers and drillers
Back away
It’s my ocean too

White caps crash
Waves slam the sandy shore
Surf chases retreating feet
Is the ocean fighting back
Or just reflecting my own anger?

© Patricia A. Nugent
Earth Day 2016

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Women’s History Month – Really?

As time goes on, and inequality persists for women and people of color, I’m finding these designated days and months that “honor” the downtrodden to be not only ineffective but insulting. Why should the local library feature African-American authors in February and female authors in March? Why not honor all peoples’ contributions equally?

Below is a re-post of an article I wrote in 2015 for Ms. Magazine.com on this issue. Sadly, it’s still relevant.

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2015/08/26/weaving-women-in/

“Happy” Women’s History Month….

 

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I Tell My Friends

I tell my friends
I’m afraid.
They tell me
it couldn’t happen here.
They can’t imagine
we’d vote against
our own self-interest.
I tell them we do.
All the time.

I tell my friends
Germany became Nazi Germany.
Germans didn’t see it coming,
couldn’t imagine it.
Nationalism screwed up
the collective psyche of reasonable people.
Code red, white and black.
Code fear.
I tell my friends
a shocking percentage of Jews
voted for Hitler.
Then stayed too long
in a nation going mad.

I recite Anne Frank’s last entry:
In spite of everything, I still believe
people are good at heart…
I tell my friends
she didn’t realize it would be her last,
couldn’t imagine friends would turn them in
three days later.
I quote Reverend Niemoller:
Then they came for me and
there was no one left to speak for me.
I post the quote on my front door.

I tell my friends
I want to be brave like protesters who yell,
FASCIST!
BIGOT!
RACIST!
and aren’t afraid of the goons
who rough them up
while the crowd spits on and kicks them.
I tell my friends
social justice is worth my life.

I need to know I tried
to stop the ascendancy of evil.
Tried to stop good people
from endorsing campaigns fueled by hatred of
women, immigrants, Muslims, people of color, journalists.
Campaigns that appeal to our most unholy selves,
screwing up our collective psyche.
Code red, white and blue.
Code fear.

I tell my friends
if this isn’t stopped now,
there may be no stopping it.
And now I’m telling you
to tell your friends.

-Patricia A. Nugent, February 2016

 

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