changed, unchanged

disclaimer: This post was originally written about three weeks ago during a trip to florida. There are no seagulls in Marietta, but there are ferns, with fairies in them.

It’s late afternoon on a Sunday; the shadows are long and cooling, and the breeze coming through the backyard makes you forget how hot it was only an hour or two ago. This moment is the perfect climate for me. The brilliant blue of the sky and the yellow-green of newly sprung leaves, the strange mix of the calls of seagulls and songbirds, the shady mystery of the mass of ferns at the edge the yard all too easily tip towards the ethereal. There are probably fairies in those ferns.

With me here are three boys all devoted to their particular interests: the oldest is engaged in repeatedly pouring sand onto the concrete patio and smoothing it with a steamroller to make a road; the middle son has stripped off all his clothes and is sitting quietly in a wading pool filled with water that is probably too cold even for me to brave; the youngest is sitting next to a container of small toys which he pulls out one at a time, inspects, tastes, then throws aside before moving on the next. As he works, he squeals quietly to himself—it’s his way of carrying on a conversation. He’s the first of the boys to do that.

lensbaby plants

 I’ve devoted a lot of time this year to reading more fairy tales, finding they balance a personality that’s too given to cynicism. I’ve been eschewing music that’s intentionally pessimistic and sardonic. This has been out of sheer necessity. You never really think about the worldview behind a particular lyric until you hear your small child sing it to himself. Then you realize the fire you’re playing with in their lives and yours, and you find suddenly that you just don’t have the stomach for it anymore, even when they’re not around.

I recently rambled on the phone to a good friend that I felt like things in my life were becoming “more green and blue”. This doesn’t really make sense, and I realized it after I said it but then couldn’t really articulate what on Earth I meant by it. I’m not a synesthete (though I probably could be if I tried hard enough; F# major is burgundy.) but the Myers-Briggs says I’m intuitive and I suppose that means I occasionally feel things that can’t really be described in words. My favorite colors are blues and greens and have been all my life (except for a brief obsession with pink) so the association is one of returning to beauty, loveliness, and a sense of innocent wonder. I attribute this partially to the fairy tales and partially to the sublime music of a friend, and partially again to the much-needed arrival of Spring and the climate of perfection I described earlier.

I have a board on Pinterest that is titled, simply, “LOVE”. It’s for things that—wait for it—I love. Like really, really love. I have strict rules of admission: I have to literally gasp or hold my breath (I do that sometimes) when I see the image for it to be included on the board. It’s been interesting to see what has been gathered there. There are more bees that I thought, not as many owls as I thought, and lots and lots of greens and blues. And a little bit of pink. Some things don’t really change, I guess.

lensbaby plants-2

I wrote this poem twelve years ago this month. Isn’t that interesting? I had forgotten about it until I saw a link to it suggested under a recent blog post of mine. It’s quite unpolished–I hadn’t ever tried a pantoum before, and the whole thing feels rather rusty (I also messed with the format). Plus I was eighteen. That accounts for a lot.

I climb a winding stair of green
to reach the dome of brightest blue
of all I see below, I’m queen
although I’m only passing through

I reach the dome of brightest blue
and gaze upon the sight below
although I’m only passing through
a sense of longing in me grows

I gaze upon the sight below
the world’s alive, and all is green
a sense of longing in me grows
a song I feel I need to sing

the world’s alive, and all is green
the winding path, the sunlit lake
a song I feel I need to sing
the sun its leave begins to take

the winding path, the sunlit lake
to them, at last, I say farewell
the sun its leave begins to take
as down the mountain path I steal.

to them, at last, I say farewell
and notice where the green things grew
as down the mountain path I steal
what once was green is now grey-blue.

I notice, where the green things grew
as stars come out, the sun is gone
what once was green is now grey-blue
as twilight’s shroud is coming down.

the stars come out, the sun is gone
I think upon the greyish hue
as twilight’s shroud is coming down
I dwell in realms of green and blue

I think upon the greyish hue
that overtook the stair of green
I dwell in realms of green and blue
and of all I see–I’m queen.

changed, unchanged

critics, creatives

I used to write a lot.

I’ve never been too keen on fiction, but I wrote. Creative non-fiction, I guess you could call it. And I wrote poetry. It was beautiful. Well, beautiful to me, anyway. I strung together words I found aesthetically pleasing like an accomplished chef tosses ingredients into a pot to make something delicious. I knew a lot of words back then. It didn’t always make sense, what I wrote, but every so often someone would read one of my pieces and get it, and that was the very best thing in the world.

I wrote for myself.


I told my husband last night that my writing muscles have atrophied. We were sitting outdoors with our coffee, the fire blazing in the chiminea making the front of my legs uncomfortably warm, in an atmosphere that, in another time and place, might have spun a web of words in my mind that I couldn’t help but put down on paper. Now the proverbial wheel doesn’t even begin to turn.

In a few months is the tenth anniversary of my Terrible Mistake. That may seem melodramatic, but if you’ve been asking yourself quietly, “What happened to the poetry?” or “What’s the point of all this?” then the Terrible Mistake is your answer.


January 2015 was the second semester of my junior year of college. It was the semester I took Creative Writing.

It’s a good idea, right? You love to write, so you take a class on it. A chance to grow your skills, to exercise your muscles, to compare notes with your fellow students who fancy themselves Poets, to learn from them, to learn from the expert Professor, to learn everything you are doing wrong.



Art is such a funny thing. There is a right and wrong, but then again, there is no right and wrong. There’s a proper way of doing things, but then again, aren’t most of our most treasured artists are prized for breaking the rules? I don’t think having a class where you learn a good and a bad way to write poetry is necessarily a bad thing. Maybe the professor’s attitude was too myopic, his taste too narrow. He seemed to have a penchant for free verse but not much else. Maybe if I weren’t such an over-sensitive person, it wouldn’t have bothered me so much. But somehow, one way or another, the lesson stuck, and I stopped writing.


I am extremely protective of my photography–my chosen outlet–now. I don’t follow any photographers save a handful I know personally and one I find incredibly inspiring. I don’t read how-to’s and I don’t belong to any photography forums. I do my best to perfect my craft while shutting out the elitists, the “you’re-doing-it-wrong”-ers, the Dr. P’s of the world of writing with light. I learned my lesson in the Terrible Mistake.


In Poets as true Genius is but rare,
True Taste as seldom is the Critick’s share;
Both must alike from Heav’n derive their light,
Those born to Judge, as well as those to Write.

(Alexander Pope)

critics, creatives

clive and mims: a love story :: {personal}

Strange companions I must name them
Strange to see their friendship blossom
When she hated little persons,
Or–at least–the ones that toddled.

Long his brother she avoided,
Once he set to crawl and holler–
Once his interest fixed upon her–
Never mind his gentle nature.

But the younger one she shadowed,
Sought him out wherever he rested,
Longed to partake in his rituals,
Photobombed his monthly pictures.

She was here for years before him,
Watched his heralded homecoming.
Many months he passed in ignorance,
Without knowing she existed.

Now he sits upon the carpet
Busy with his toy-inspection;
She will be his close companion
Even though he fuss, and push her.

How is it her patience lingers
While he pulls her tail and whiskers,
While his hands are full of cat-fur,
Laughing at the way it tickles?

Faithfully she waits beside him–
Or sits on him, if he lets her–
‘Till his Mama comes to get him,
Takes him upstairs for his naptime.

Do they know the bond between them?
Can each understand the other?
Does she know when he’ll return, and
Does she miss him while he’s napping?

Does he realize he lacks
Her furry, feline, loyal presence?
Does he hope, while sleep is coming,
She’ll be there when he awakens?

Softly down the stairs he’s carried,
Sweetly starts excited babbling;
Swiftly from her seat she hastens,
Just to sit beside his Boppy.

Solemnly the hours are passing
While they sit and smile together,
Theirs a love that’s fit for lasting–
(‘Til he learns to crawl and holler.)

-e g allis


clive and mims: a love story :: {personal}