Hearing Myself Think

After a week of rain

I’ve had a lot of negative self talk lately.

A lot of negativity, period.

When I decided to eat gently

without a scolding diet,

and to move around gently

without punishing my form,

some things began to shift.


I remembered I no longer have a garden.

Sometimes I stay inside all day,

sitting in a chair

scrolling to no end

farther than a short term task list

getting something (and also nothing) done.


I heard myself tell myself,

“You’re too fat for food.” That

I don’t deserve to eat because

I’ve become so soft and round.

That conscious cruelty to me, by me–

I don’t remember hearing it so loud.


We’ve had a week of rain;

a terrible fight on our anniversary;

an awkward coupling and too much wine.

And then the sun came out;

it’s sixty-three degrees in June.

I came outside to listen and learn.

I think some things are boiling out.

  • Defensiveness
  • Labels
  • Incongruent Truths

Grace is like a slotted spoon,

Gentleness, a gear in my transmission,

slowing me down long enough

to hear.

After a week of rain

Jacksonville had a record breaking cool snap of dry air and lower temps, unheard of in June.

The Back Roads of Georgia

Day 64 of 100 Happy Days

We all got in the car

-the kids and I;

he was in Baltimore to see the baby.

We left Florida after 8,

past painted signs calling out summertime peaches, and

the boys pointed out a beaver dam built up in a swamp outside of Folkston, right there,

right next to the road.

Tufts of cotton caught in roadside grasses blown loose from harvested fields looked like snow.

After Tifton-

purple acres of cabbages and then-

the kids favorite-

rows of what looked like tiny trees, a miniature forest, that

turned out to be broccoli.

“Albany is halfway” Erin said.

Pecan plantations, groves of women-

nut trees always look feminine to me, strong

torsos with arms reaching, ballet positions,

fingers extending the line of the wrist,

thighs strong enough to stand steady while bearing down a birth roar.

It’s hilly here.

Pie spice colors: cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon.

The towns have glitter garland holiday swirls over the streets.

Turned around, wrong turn, right turn into

farmland, green fields framed by wooded windbreaks.

Starling murmurations, pulsing clouds of birds

sweeping against the blueness of this autumn sky.

The border town, southern gothic, hanging moss and

enormous porches. Tree lined avenues with manners, even just passing by.


is not meant for making great time, this trip

was for taking the time that it takes.


Day 64 of 100 Happy Days

Day 64 of 100 Happy Days

The Tuesday Before Thanksgiving


draft- Tia Levings, 2015


That room was a mess.

So full of broken furniture that I couldn’t see the floor, with

no pathway to walk.

Tchotchkies, curios, knick knacks, dust beams vaguely illumined by sun,

no hope of ever crossing the room,  of cleaning the window

pane on the far side, no

muslin curtains filtering lemony summer light, no

jar of daisies to draw the eye away from dandered  cobweb corners.

I may have forgotten to tell you-

there was no way to do that.

The remarkable thing was-

when I finally showed her, was that she only said,

“There’s a lot here. Tell me about this bench.”

The piece nearest her, nearest the door, and

it startled me.

I couldn’t tell if she teased…. or,

maybe this one preferred to wait like an oily cat, slice

with the precision of shame. Only-

“tell me the significance of this bench.”

She didn’t call it a pew.

To focus on just one thing settled a sigh, trust

breathing a cool morning mist over a fevered pond, and

I could see plain the first time

he crammed it into the room, or-

maybe the room crammed around it-

until cat feces piled in hidden places, and

spider tents draped the spindles, and

magazines curled with dark mildew, and

crates of bottles came marked, “Poison. Do not eat.”

But sometimes I did, and

sometimes I served them for dinner, and

saved the vomit in boxes for later.

This bench, now that I look at it-

smeared grime waxed into the grain,

lacerations sharp with slivers, ready

to pierce the soft flesh of my thigh, its

scarred veneer-

this bench is not useful to me anymore.

I don’t need it, and

that’s how we started. She

didn’t tease and didn’t shame and

never left my side.

She held my hand, we’ve

cleared the room. Dropped-

all of it over a cliff I think. Just-

let it fall off the truck,

behind me now.

It’s been 12 weeks, but

I can see the floor.

St John's River  from Mandarin Pointe

St John’s River from Mandarin Pointe

The Second Day of Thanksgiving Week


Leftover Apple Dumplings, it turns out,

make a good breakfast. Heated warm

cinnamon caramel sauce melting in hot tea, melting

in my mouth,

pomegranate tang.


My scratch crust, it turns out,

came out perfection. Salted

crisp flakes holding crunchy exoskeleton, hug

pillowed soft apple flesh,

Pink Lady tart.


Four of my children, it turns out,

enormous newborn adults, all

long bodied loud laughter petitions, sighs

“life’s exhausting,

Mama Pie.”


Hot Apple Dumpling Night


The First Morning of Thanksgiving Week

Reflections on water migrate, I think


even if the light is constant.

Silver patches broken only by the breeze, by


the snake bird; slender neck’s reaching strokes.

My skin, bare shoulders, feels


loose wild hair ideas brought me here.

On the far shore I see, a


something was breakfast.

A long distance, a chainsaw


the tree for communion.


November on the pond.

Notes from a week of poetry…

Stinson Park Jacksonville Florida

Tuesday evening, coloring with markers, sweating wine glass filled with melting ice and Pinot Grigio, too hot to have windows open; Krista Tippett’s crisp apple voice speaking with, listening to, Marie Howe. This was my third listen:

“It strikes me that these rituals of ordinary time themselves are a little bit like poetry, these condensed, kind of economical little packets of beauty and grace that carry so much more forward than, than is obvious…..”

“I mean, it used to be that we would attend these things every week that would remind us of these, you know, the sacredness of the everyday. And it’s harder to find it now…..”

“Just tell me what you saw this morning like in two lines. You know I saw a water glass on a brown tablecloth. Uh, and the light came through it in three places. No metaphor. And to resist metaphor is very difficult because you have to actually endure the thing itself, which hurts us for some reason.”

The Poetry of Ordinary Time. From the On Being podcast. August 14, 2014.


Thursday morning, working through this metaphor exercise still. And it’s very hard. And, it hurts. I’m 6 of them in; have only shared one. A buzzed inebriation on words persists; Magdalene- The Seven Devils.

Listen to Magdalene- The Seven Devils, by Marie Howe

Sunday morning, raining, I stayed home to allow space for a coveted adjustment in attitude; newspaper came to the stoop triple bagged and containing a box for the NYTimes virtual reality immersion experience.

“The rapid rise of Instapoets probably will not shake up the literary establishment….but they could reshape the lingering perception of poetry as a creative medium in decline.”

“their appeal lies in the unpolished flavor of their verses…..”

The Web Poet’s Society.  By Alexandra Alter, front page column on the November 8, 2015 New York Times.


All week long, the new job, the fruition of old vines; promoting, optimizing, participating in an endeavor that nurtures a poetic culture for children.

“Once kids realize that paper is a safe place for thought exploration…..Writing becomes a safe playground instead of an intimidating foreign country.”

-Julie Bogart, Brave Writer.

Stinson Park Jacksonville Florida

Stinson Park in Ortega, Jacksonville, Florida

10 Things, Without the Metaphor #2

Stinson Park Jacksonville Florida

Number one, an old man, heavyset, in a sleeveless sweatshirt, standing on his stoop at 6:15 am, looking at the blue light of his phone, not out to get the newspaper, standing there maybe out of habit.

Number two, the busy birds, too many to count, rebounding high pitched tweet-chirp-tweet-chirps.

Number three, the dew on the chair has made the back of my legs wet and the sweat on my hand sticks me to the paper as I write. It’s humid today.

Number four, it’s humid, I said that already, but seriously, it’s November 2 at 6:45 and there are streaks of salty sweat running from my temple and more between my breasts and I just felt a trickle in the little dip of my lower back.

Because Number five, I did go running this morning, just short intervals for .75 of a mile. I walked for the rest of the way.

Number six: a crow calls in 3’s, “caw, caw, caw”.

Number seven: I hear dripping water, soft, intermittent pats, but I see the pond is still. I don’t think it’s going to rain.

Number eight, caw, caw, caw.

Number nine and it’s not too early to hear the whoosh of traffic half a mile away. Commuters I’ll only join for carpool, not to the office. A vehicle without a muffler accelerates hard.

Ten is the memory that it took a chain of changes to make this morning being outside to listen and write at 6:50 on the new Mondayest day of the week. I’m glad I walked bravely into this light.

Stinson Park in Ortega, Jacksonville, Florida

Stinson Park in Ortega, Jacksonville, Florida

Facebook Freewrites

As a way of “killing two birds” I often use my Facebook status as a freewrite prompt. This is usually observation or character mini-study; I also post film reviews in this style. It’s been a good opportunity for casual feedback and I feel better about piddling away time on social media for having been productive.

“Friday, Dear” is a short stanza of status prose. I wrote it after a long week spent inside dealing with dramas I was ready to put behind me for the weekend. I needed some quiet, introverted, restorative time, though the right companion would not have been rejected. As it happened, this was also sort of a prayer and a wish and, it came true.

Friday, Dear, written and posted March 19, 2015

Friday dear, I’d like
a walk in the after-rain air,
in spring time woods,
near trees of many years,
with a friend who is fine being quiet.


Incidentally, I have my freewrites set to public and use the hashtags #5minutewritingpractice and #fbfreewrite. I invite participation in elevating the medium into a place to practice.


Photo Taken on the Baldwin Rails-to-Trails bike path, Jacksonville, Florida

Photo Taken on the Baldwin Rails-to-Trails bike path, Jacksonville, Florida