what memories you gave me,
Mother, speaking in your own
Indiana way, your
Dutch coal miner Dad and
printed on your face
and mine for all time
in your dying days you
prayed to a formless, weightless
God whom you loved
because Daddy did
but never spoke of, as if
telling would erase Him
like the face of unknown stars
in the garden now so odd
without you in it, cactus
and alien grasses carry on
in the warm, Texas breeze like
your own breath was
I smile and remember that
before speech stopped, you
spoke in a tongue only
small creatures knew...
we looked at you, puzzled,
but the pets and great-grands
you lingered amid
utmost years-long suffering
with only your fate
as a pillow; we held you,
tried to comfort it all away,
and then, in our arms, you
smiled and softly met death,
so silent, so strange
--Jo VonBargen 2012
Huge thanks to Laura Zera for her gracious request for a piece on "what I would want said to me on my 80th birthday"! I am indeed honored to do so! Laura says Booktrope is organizing a bunch of guest blog posts in support of Write for the Fight and I'm delighted to contribute in small part to this very crucial effort to raise money for breast cancer research.
Go here to read my guest blog at Laura's. Enjoy!
Laura's wonderful essays appear in the book at left. Click the pic to go to Amazon.
Best selling author Tess Hardwick of Seattle and Tracey M. Hansen of Florida, frustrated by the pain and suffering breast cancer has inflicted on their loved ones, determined to take action and put their talents to a good cause.
The result of their creative energy is WRITE FOR THE FIGHT: A Collection of Seasonal Essays, crafted from the hearts and souls of thirteen unique and inspirational writers, for which all author royalties will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The writers each respond to personal, thoughtful questions about the seasons of life we move through, from the age of five to eighty.
Published by Booktrope, it was released as a NOOK Book at Barnes and Noble in March, and for the Kindle at Amazon in early April. It will also be available in paperback at both sites at the end of April.
Thanks again, Laura, for inviting me, and here's rooting for huge success in this collaborative effort to find the cure!
Go here to read Laura's brilliant guest post on Chick Lit+
Okay. I am done! I've written a new book, posted it (see bottom of page), I've gotten all the new book covers posted and now I'm gettin' under the kivvers for a week! #whew
I was finally convinced after reading all the articles lately about the importance of covers. #whattheheckwasIthinkng Why did it take me so long? I love the new look of them and could kick myself for dragging this out so long. I'm hoping readers will like them, too, and perhaps hang around and get the urge to hit One-Click!
Well, I do have to brag a little here. I made them all myself, cropping royalty-free stuff I found, then layering on text using a couple of the free logo generator sites. To me, the best ones to use are cooltext.com and flamingtext.com. Then I used my paint.net software to tweak or change the colors, and to layer stuff onto the 500 X 800 cropped wallpaper background, then saved to .jpg. Now mind you, it was very labor-intensive and not everyone has the time or patience it takes, but it was certainly free in terms of dollars, if not in time and trouble. I did learn an awful lot about graphics in the process.
I had so many visions of what I wanted in ebook covers, but explaining those to a hired graphics person would have been impossible, so this was the best route for me, personally. The new covers are posted on the right side of this page; each is linked to the Amazon site where listed if you wish to read descriptions. I'd be happy for you to critique them if you'd like. No thin skin here! Always looking to learn and improve. Thanks so much, my lovely friends, for taking a look!So here's the new book in the lot...finally! My fans have been after me to do a collection, so that came together as well. That was grueling, too, so maybe I'll get under the kivvers for two weeks! Here 'tis:
"It Ain't Shakespeare, But Oh, How it Glows" is a variety of prose and poems taken from a large body of work done over thirty years time. Several themes run through these writings about human spirit, not the least of which is love, albeit failed love. The importance of these writings is to illuminate the power of love, even when it is love spent without return or love bestowed beyond all prudence. That power manifests as strength, resilience, wisdom and a strong determination to overcome. As such, unconditional love is its own reward in a world where, sadly, millions of women are subjected to being used and abused because their naïveté and kindness is mistaken for weakness...or perhaps because cultural, religious or familial ties require that they endure it. Some of these poems and essays exist to shine a hard light on these unfortunate and dreadful circumstances, if only to light a candle in the shadowy places where truth often hides. The hope is that there is enough beauty, contemplation and #inyourface rant scattered throughout so that the reader's experience isn't rife with gloom, depression and scattered entrails!
Amazon Product Description:
"Why do some people with a life-threatening illness miraculously heal? Callie Morrow wants to know. Unwilling to undergo traditional medical treatment for cancer, she bets her life on finding another way. Within her eclectic group of friends, three come to her aid and point to possibilities: Dr. Josie Walker, a disenchanted internist; Mary Chang, a restaurateur and longtime student of Taoism; and Joe Kuptana, a world-class Intuit artist. Ancient philosophies mingle with new world science to create a unique vision around health, healing and well-being, one that a struggling, frightened yet determined Callie engages in her attempt to save her life."
Recently, I was privileged to read what I believe is a book of enormous import to the world of readers and seekers...oh, hell...to all of us. As I came to the end of Christina Carson's "Dying to Know", I sat in stunned silence for quite some time, mulling it over. Then I gleefully shouted to the empty house, "Well butter my ass and call me a biscuit!" The light was blinding.
Now I'm dying to know how I will ever get "Dying To Know" out of my head. Between this book and a wonderful experience recently of Oscar Sparrow's poetry, I can feel my mind expanding, changing, healing... It is very clear to me that loving emissaries from the Universe itself have been wondrously placed in my path...and I shall never be the same.
It's been a long while since I read a book so thought-provoking and relevant to my own life. Ms. Carson is a story-teller of unequaled talent; I've read other writings of hers and always come away taller, more peaceful and imbued with a greater sense of dignity than before. Having grown up in the Southwest, I hail from a beautiful tri-culture that allows me to see her writing in any format as being deeply infused with what I call "coyote wisdom" (about soul and mind), as she brings us along on a journey filled with insights and images that break us out of our frozen-heart places and fully transform our awareness. Hers is truly a deep and profound intelligence.
"Dying to Know" provides insights into a person's hidden fears and hurts that often underlie and contribute to or even cause the development of many physical and psychological problems, and also suggests a variety of ancient and timeless solutions which inspire hope that change is possible. Her characters are richly believable and worm their way into your heart with total ease. The author guides us like a life compass, showing us what's good and lasting about our own selves as well as about humanity. In reading the book it reaffirmed my belief that we are all interconnected...and that brought me comfort. You will probably find yourself highlighting every other paragraph as I did. She is a soft-spoken sage, and in the undercurrent of the story, the careful reader will see the struggle with the paradoxical world and the taffy-pull of the scientist with the philosopher.
I leave you with a quote from the book which spoke deeply to me: "I must believe we can survive our parents and the bizarre tangle of needs they sought us out to meet, little children at the mercy of adults’ deep hungers and fears." Indeed. And another: "It is difficult to recognize the error of something we have always done wrong."
Christina Carson has gifted us a very beautiful, touching and life-altering book. I have hope we humans will make the choice made in the book and grow meaningfully into love. Her words are indeed a lamp unto our feet.
--Jo VonBargen 2012
Where to begin? There were so many good things about "Southern Investigation" by Bert Carson, that naming just one, or even naming a few, feels completely inadequate. I won't be giving another synopsis here (you can read the one from Amazon below) and at this point I can’t possibly talk about the plot without giving too much away. Apologies in advance for that.
Amazon Product Description:
"Southern Investigation – Bill Simmons, David Hendricks, and Robert Hightower served almost three years together in Vietnam, leaving only when they were “wounded out.” They, along with Shirley Jacobson, a widow whose husband was killed in Vietnam, formed Southern Investigation, a commercial private investigation company. David, seriously wounded when he and Bill intervened to thwart a convenience store robbery attempt, required a helicopter evacuation. That was the beginning of Southern Investigation’s involvement in a POW rescue that involved the DEA and President Ronald Reagan. Southern Investigation is the story of Vietnam Veterans facing the effects of the war – building meaningful relationship – and experiencing advanced esoteric teachings..."
This book grabbed me by the gut, but the reason for that is as much about what it does as a piece of storytelling as it is what it does thematically. It’s as much about the characters and how I grew to care about them as it is the questions the story asks, and how much these matter to my life – to all of our lives, really. The fact that I can’t really separate my emotional and my intellectual responses to this story speaks to how excellent it is.
Obviously I know this is a book , but my emotional investment is such I just can’t quite analyze it as a piece of fiction – not just yet. Don't you love when this happens? When a story feels so real that until you finish it you walk around in a daze, worrying about the characters? The story is well crafted with all the twists, turns and clever moments of the best thrillers. It’s charged with suspense, wonderful humor...and rife with sparks of unpredictability. Best of all, the author's incredibly warm humanity and personal senses of loyalty, honor and harmony with the cosmos lend their lambent glow throughout.
The careful reader will notice how dispassionately the author describes events that happened in Vietnam, revealing a level of acceptance of things as they are, not as we wish them to be...keeping it real, so to speak. This acceptance, as we later understand in the story, underlies the reason that seemingly impossible things can happen when we release our old belief systems and hang our expectations one notch higher onto another plane entirely. It's truly heady, mind-growing stuff, and not in a pesky dogmatic sense, but in a perfectly natural, quiet, unassuming unfolding, which is key to opening the realm of possibilities.
The author basically nails everything. There is not a false note in this whole incredible book. His storytelling capabilities are finely honed and we are helplessly caught up and carried like leaves on a gurgling brook.
I strongly encourage everyone to read this book, in fact all of his books. There is so much depth to what is written here, that you will find yourself thinking about it long after you put it down. Bert Carson is obviously one of the most soulful, selfless, incredible intellects you could ever come across, and he has truly given the world a great gift with his works. See if you don't agree.
--Jo VonBargen 2012
The night of that day was perfect, the moon beaming on every US city and on all the bookshelves and all the silverfish slipping into the book bindings to eat the starch….oh, perfect night…perfect night of the worst, worst, worst day of my life.
Sitting in the dark, the moon lit my hands, like his hands minus the liver spots, soft bruising and root-like veins texturing the surfaces. Much more like him than my Mother, we butted heads all my life yet loved each other fiercely.
Funny thing about high intelligence…in his case, at least. There was no ability to hold opposing ideas in his mind and still retain the ability to function. A retired engineer, tops in his field at the height of his career, his ego would not allow him the fact that he was now only a feeble old man in a retirement home, so he cracked up. Really.
No longer mobile, except for his wheelchair, he had planted himself at the East Wing nurses station and prepared for the siege. World War III was upon us. The potted plants were wired with explosives, any strangers walking by were spies, and the north wall was going to come crashing down any second.
He built little piles of paper trash all over the room and begged people to set them afire so he could guide the planes in. He wore all his seven caps at once as a makeshift helmet. Somehow the sight of his tall, tall head was not at that moment particularly amusing.
Earlier, he had used his manicure scissors to cut off his 24 hour heart monitor, had sprayed his whole can of shaving cream all over himself and his shoes and cut up a tube of denture cream. Camouflage, I'm guessing.
I held his old, bruised hands in mine and gently tried to bring him back to the now, but he wasn’t having any of it. He wanted me to leave before the bombing started. I tried to wheel him toward his room and he plunked down his foot, refusing to let us move. "Go home now, darlin'", he said, "I can't let you stay here and get hurt."
He was a canary in a cage, not willing to let me cover it with dark cloth. He wanted to rant, to cry and husk seeds and toss them on the floor. Yet in spite of his madness, he still wanted to protect me.
The doctor eventually called with med orders. The good stuff, the hard zombie-making, drooling-mouth problem-fixer. And so he sat, day after day, too feeble to stay awake more than a minute, hunched over in his chair, a problem to no one.
Sleeping fitfully, I awake to find myself still trying to hold his dream-hands, as if to somehow go back and help him find his way out of the cold and foggy drear.
Sleep will not return even though this night is perfect, like that perfect night of the perfect moon, on the day his perfect shadow passed out of sight into that dark, dark place where engineers must sadly go, when they can no longer engineer or navigate or accept that it is so, to simply wait and wait til time and breath run out.
--Jo VonBargen 2012