love letters

Mrs. Parker

I’ve Planted Roses

I’ve planted roses in my bones,
and left the ashes of those years,
in an urn mixed with tears,
lit on fire with my fears,
disintegrated, gone away,
I couldn’t live with them any longer,
I don’t know if it made me stronger,
holding on and out for hope,
I’ve planted roses in a kaleidoscope.
Revealed a thing I didn’t want to see,
I couldn’t escape it and now I’m free,
it’s what they say the truth will do,
not the kind they thought they knew,
a rainbow through the looking-glass,
in every color, shade, and hue,
I’ve planted roses for me, and you.
I’ve let my hip bones turn to wings,
I’ve let my heart remember things,
I thought would break my soul in two,
I’ve planted roses and now I’m through,
With the thorns she gave to me,
I’ve closed the window. Shut the door.
I can’t hear her anymore.
I found a love that lets me be,
I’ve planted roses in my bones,
in among the sticks and stones,
in the tall grass, among the weeds,
I’ve planted roses, I’ve planted seeds.

 

Teri Skultety, 7/1/18

A Letter to a Lover Parting Ways

It was the two of them, together. It always had been. I’d seen it and not let myself believe it, because I thought so little of her as a person. Because I saw her as pretentious, shallow, snide even, because I saw through her, and had seen him as a hero. But then why shouldn’t she be snide, he’d chosen her, after all, to be his new girl. They would have five kids together, and it would make her even more unbearably smug. When you truly love someone, you wish them well, even if that happiness doesn’t include you. I wanted to be angry, to hate her. But I don’t. I wish them well. I really do.

I went to this party once, always the same party, where I didn’t fit in. The party where I am ever on the edge of belonging, quietly hoping for a rescue that I’ve realized, perhaps, I don’t quite believe in. Always the same party where he chooses her, whoever he is, whoever she is, she wears colors I won’t, or can’t bring myself to anymore because I’ve lost the ability to be unchanged by the experiences of my existence, she can still bat her eyelashes in a way I never could manage and perhaps envied in some regard while also finding it to be reprehensible, she is the one who can still muster the moxie to say she likes all the things I don’t, whether it’s true or not, … and I say… Oh well… and I… wish them well. I go my way, decide to quit standing around holding the building up, waiting for the mythological hero to make the first move, to notice me, to see what he hasn’t seen. Because it took so many years to learn the pleasure of waiting for a man to ask me to dance, instead of crossing the room headlong and asking him in some brazen way, impatient and not knowing any better. I leave the party. I rescue myself. I’ve gotten quite good at it over the years but I do admit that sometimes now I shudder at wondering if I will always be able to. Which is to say I am uncertain as to whether my resilience is resilience, or merely a product of my youth, now fading in degrees. I rescue myself, at least, emotionally. Somehow, that makes me infinitely more interesting than I was when I was waiting, if only for a time.

What good is any of that? I wish them well.

 

TS

 

 

 

I was getting a little out of practice with the flash fiction.

The Edges of the Rain

Some thoughts on current events in the world, I don’t know how other people deal with trauma, cope with reality, with being in the world. The doors to madness are too much reality, and not enough of it. The doors into madness are laced with too much philosophical contemplation about existence, not enough letting one’s self be. What that means is, each of us is finding our own way. I hope we can all do that with as much decency and kindness as possible.

Work continues on the sequel to The Slick Furies. It’s slower going than previous writes as I am plucking all the good bits from other beginnings of this novel. This book has a different tone, historical, a different degree of seriousness. Certainly there will be humor. I’m not in a rush with this write, it’s important to me to get my vision of this book, this story, onto the page as I’ve imagined it. As with any sequel, building on the first book’s history, characters, some of the emotional bonds are deeper. I feel like, think, The Slick Furies really had a sense of connection between the main characters. It’s important to me to make sure that carries on, that I capture that with this second book as well, though some of the dynamics have changed, and that’s what keeps stories like this interesting. These characters aren’t stagnate, they’ve been affected by the events of the story of their lives.

I’m about to begin proofreading, making corrections to, “The Edges of the Rain.” This is one of the novellas I wrote in 2011, rewrote earlier this year. It was easy to write, I wrote the original draft in two weeks. It was tougher after the fact when I read it and realized what I’d written. I’m hoping to release it this fall. This book is a psychological thriller, a nightmare of greed, a horror story of human nature, and all the ways we compartmentalize ourselves. I’m ready to get to publishing it, to be moving on to other things. So, there will be updates on this book as things progress.

 

Those two books should keep me busy for the remainder of the year. I haven’t been able to really write for a few days after crashing my bicycle, one of my better spills, jammed both wrists/hands, one side of my body is dinged up. It hurts to ride. It’s always something. I get up limping every day as is. But, if I give in to all the hurts and park it on the sofa indefinitely, then I’m done. So I do what I feel like I can, as I can. Living with the arthritis for as long as I have, it’s a balancing act of rest and motion, when possible. The last few days, not so much doing. I say that not in complaint, but as statement of fact and appreciation for those things I can do when I can do them. Something I’ve learned from this, is that in all our commonalities, the things we can empathize with another about, there’s very rarely any actual comparison one human to the next, what is the same about each of us is that we are individuals. Part of why I don’t ever compare what I can do ( or be) on any given day, or ever, to anyone else. ( At least, I try not to.)

Rest in peace, Margot Kidder, Ms. Lois Lane. A story about her from someone who knew her for a time was making the rounds, said she loved the wolves inhabiting the area around her Montana home and would regularly leave meat out for them. According to this chap, she said she hoped that when she died, her friends would find her, tell no one, put her on a bed-sheet and drag her up the mountain so she could be the last meal she gave to the wolves she loved. I don’t know if I’ll ever be quite that at peace with myself in this world, but that’s one of the coolest stories I’ve ever heard.

TS

The New Covers

 

 

The new covers are completed. It will be a few days before all of these titles are once again available. I am still editing some of the stories in “GRAIN.” “The Slick Furies” is at the beginnings of an overhaul, and I’ve no idea when those edits will be completed. I’ve come down with a cold, am tired, and finishing the last two covers, for “Thelxiepeia” and “Red Line Wine,” brought me to tears. The original covers never met my expectations. I resolved myself to the thinking that it is the words that matter, and it is, but of course, honestly, I wanted the covers to look better. They were as good as the tools available to me, that I knew of, and what I had time for. I shall compare it to the early writers of hieroglyphics, to those crafting early cave drawings, discovering (creating) a paintbrush. The cover of “Thelxiepeia” took about four hours of meticulously layering elements, messing with filters, spacing, and colors. I have a copy of beautiful edition of “The Rubaiyat” by Omar Khayyam that I love the overall look of that served as the inspiration for the cover design of “Thelxiepeia.” I love beautiful, antique, books. I wanted the cover of “Thelxiepeia” to have a vintage feel. The cover of “Red Line Wine” is an old drawing I did when I finished writing that book in 1996. Obviously I’m not an artist, and yet the drawing, filled with so much symbolism from my youth, is a perfect cover for that book as it contains my beginnings as a writer. Really, I didn’t think it would work but sometimes things are just “right” and you know it. To be able to finally put “Red Line Wine” together this way, well, I’m still fighting the tears. It’s been a lot of years from those beginnings to now. I’m equally happy with the new back covers. My take away from this is don’t quit. I’ve done the best I could. I’ll keep doing the best I can at any given moment. I hope to keep learning, and to keep getting better at all this. I’m also inspired to get to work on the next book(s) and editing updates now knowing that I have these other creative tools available to me. Right now though, I think it’s time for some steaks, some movie watching, some tending to my aches. I can honestly say that I like these book covers that I’ve created, and  couple of them, I love.

Teri Skultety

 

One November, I Published Two Books

I’ve worked hard the last couple of years to get some books published, I’m thinking of them as there were “the first five,” and now there is “the magnificent seven.” I also have stories in three print anthologies, and I’m going to get those linked up with cover pictures, as well as having been published thirteen times various places online during the last six years. In the spring of 2018, I hope to release another collection of poetry, tentatively titled “Thelxiepeia”. After that, well I wouldn’t say what was next even if I had figured that out. I am a prolific writer, and that has always been the case.  Even when I think I’m not really writing much, I’m always really writing something. I had a tremendous back catalogue of manuscripts, books, to publish. “Thelxiepeia” is work that was composed from 2011 to 2012 or thereabouts, so I’m getting closer to being caught up.

The books I’ve released in the last week, “Gold Mine” and “Maybelline Raven and The Wolf”, both came out of a nervous breakdown that began in 2008.  Fact is, I’ve gotten a lot of writing, stories, out of that breakdown though I’d just as soon not got through anything like that again.  “Gold Mine” is really, I think, something that was written, compiled, jammed together, like a panic attack during a panic attack in 2009. That book was very much the moment at the beginning of an avalanche. The title “Gold Mine” came out of some remembered fragment that life experiences are a writer’s gold mine, to which I thought “go mine your own business,” and then thinking that I might have thrown a gold mine worth of writing into a fire. “Maybelline Raven and The Wolf” was written during the first months of 2014, when I was recovering from the worst of it all and really at the beginning of sorting things out. Most people cannot put their house back in order in the middle of the storm. I’ve said before that much of my work is catharsis in that it is something of a coping mechanism, as much as it is a way to dream, it is also a way to understand things, to reason things out in some way, and sometimes, it’s very much a way to get rid of the poison. I’ve written some horror stories that aren’t anything I want to read, writing horror was way outside of my comfort zone as a writer, so if someone tells me they don’t like horror, I can respond honestly that I understand that completely. I’ve also used the “input/output” analogy on that one, the world isn’t always a nice place, all my experiences in this life haven’t been good, sometimes the writing is way to git rid of bad emotions or baggage, we’ve all got stuff. I’ve written some super hopeful, sappy, in love and in love with life stuff too. We learn to appreciate the balance between the “good” and the “bad,” to understand that sometimes those things change, and to sift the wheat from the chaff.

“Maybelline Raven and The Wolf” began as I started to sort out my own ancestry, to research my own family tree. One of the biggest lessons to come out of that has been not to jump the gun. I started out with family stories, finally got to the 100% bottom of some things, researched the actual genealogy and family tree, did a DNA test only to then further read that such a test might not tell you what you want to know or even reveal the truth of your lineage because with each generation the bloodline thins, so to speak, and people migrated and mixed and so on. I learned that the descendants a person can verify and trace are generally the best indicator. I am of English, Irish, and Cherokee descent. It was ultimately easier for me than some as my parents are no mystery to me and I did grow up with a grandparents who were interested in the family history though there were discrepancies and oddities to be sorted out. For example, I grew up with a story that we were related to George Washington, as well as to an “Indian Princess,” to which my grandfather would say, “She wasn’t a princess. That wasn’t her real name.” When you hear stories like that as a kid, it’s ridiculous. Yeah right, sure. In researching the family tree, I found a George Washington, not thee George Washington, but a George Washington. From there I thought, “Okay, what other of these stories are true, and what have I had wrong?”

On my mother’s side of the family, I am able to trace back to the 1500’s in England, to Scotland and to 1800’s Ireland and a young man named Joseph Creighton, aged thirteen years, traveling alone, who arrived in New Orleans in 1847 aboard The Berlin, to Reverend David Caldwell and the Revolutionary War, and to Civil War soldiers who fought on both sides of the conflict. On my father’s side of the family, I am able to trace my ancestry to 1500’s England to Sir Robert Bell, Speaker of the House of Commons, to 1600’s Colonial England to Thomas Burgess whose affair with Lydia Gaunt led to the first ever divorce in Plymouth and to Cherokee Chief Doublehead ( a sixth great-grand-father), whose daughter, Cornblossum (Princess) Doublehead married Big Jake  Troxell and  their  daughter, Margaret Troxell married James Bell in 1809, whose great-grandson, William, a great-grandfather, who married Lena Burgess, one of my great-grandmothers, and the sixth great-grandaughter of Thomas Burgess and Lydia Gaunt. There were also family stories of a relation to The Younger Brothers, of the James- Younger Gang by the marriage of a cousin, connected through the Carson family, though I was unable to verify those stories.

I went on my first cross-country trip to Mississippi and Louisiana before I was quite two years old, and I remember the highlights, including getting bit by a dog. These stories were swimming around in my head as I wrote the story of Maybelline. Maybelline Raven is a woman who has witnessed and experienced something horrific. As a result, her mind has found a way to compartmentalize and deal with the trauma as she remains terrified and trying to protect her children. Set in 1762 in a fictional village along the banks of the Mississippi River, this story was an important turning point for me, it is a story about courage, about strength, about the incredible power of the mind and the heart to heal, it is a story about resilience, survival, and love. Maybelline Raven is also a story that I believed in so much that I was will to roll the dice on publishing my own books, though it wasn’t the first book that I published. Creating “Maybelline” helped me understand my own processes of coping and healing.

I’m going to be taking a bit of a rest ( I already am, caught a bug, needed to sleep, etc.) and hopefully enjoying the holidays, sober,while trying to avoid eating too many delicious baked goods. I’ll probably be working on something. I’ll probably post again before the year is out, or not. Until then, “Gold Mine” and “Maybelline Raven and The Wolf”are  available on Amazon. The paperback of Maybelline should be available any day now.

Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

Teri

Too, as in, Also…

from  ‘Gold Mine’

_____this true heart______________

I will write your name on every breath from now until forever, forget you never, know that I have not let go of this true heart. Forgiving you and him and them and everyone, everything, sing ever louder, stronger, taking claim of every wind and every rain, rising up out of every flame until my name escapes your lips in your sleep. And you know that I loved you and I loved him and them and everyone I could and everyone who would take it from me and I have no regrets about that. I have no shame. I am seeds in clouds and dreams about to be born again and I am wishes in the fountain and I am the highest mountain and I am Winter sleeping, teardrops weeping for every soul who never knows what I am talking about. Saints and Sinners, fabulous beginners, I am the echoed call to everyone who has ever fallen, praying, saying, in the deepest dark, get up, get up, get up.

Love is not a withered vine, love is not petals fallen, and longing unfulfilled, and love is not what men have willed, love is everlasting understanding divine and mine, oh mine, love is mine, to keep. Rainbows, unicorns, candy cane and fairy tales, artifice too soon to fail. They tell you that you have to sacrifice all to scale the castle wall and I say to you that all you have to do is be true, be true. Let go of all the hatred in your heart, let go of all ill wishes, let go of vengeance, you cannot kill Angels with it. Gossamer is fireproof and Angels own the ceiling that is the sky and everything beyond the dawn and everything you wonder on and everything you think is gone they carry with them in the folds of feathers blue and they do remember you, they do.

I will write your name on every page and wash away your hurt and rage and wash away your ache and heal the scars on your heart you thought were permanent and the ones even you had forgotten in the burden of flesh, until you believe again, in everything you let go of to leave me.

You think you want to hear my battle cry, that it will crack the Heavens, flash like lightning, pound like thunder, but I tell you that my battle cry sounds like children laughing and wedding vows, those kept, and those broken, and waterfalls, and crowds cheering at a home run, my battle cry is every Spring, every green thing that makes it through the snow, my battle cry is the song that makes you sing even though you don’t want to and the Hallmark commercial that makes you call your mother, my battle cry is the smell of roses on the breeze and fireflies in the night, racing to the stars, my battle cry is everything we are and trade for things that do not matter. My battle cry is restoration, resurrection and everlasting, surging out into the farthest reaches of the Universe, there is life here.

I will write your name on every breath from now until forever, because if all of this suffering was somehow right, to anyone, then there can be no end to the love that is needed to heal and it will start with me. And someday, maybe, we can talk about bravery and change and freedom. Freedom, that I’ve paid for in some way every time I’ve exercised it. I will love you in every word, every ache, in every break, in every breath and everything that I can, and hope and pray someday, you understand me, and you.

(Written 2009)

 

Psalm

Lead us into hands

That will care for us and keep us safe

Onto paths that know the way,

When we are lost and cannot find it on our own,

Keep us in the light,

Or light the dark we wander in

Enough to see,

Save our souls from lingering

Too long in places where we shouldn’t be,

If it were possible to be such places,

bring us back

From edges we’ve been lured to

From lies we hoped too long were true,

Open up our eyes that we might see the beauty

Of the heart

Broken down the middle clean

Stripped of artifice, laid bare and lean,

Exposed in sentience for a world to better know

The soul that dwells within

Lend us the courage to grasp

Whatever threads are left to us,

Of gossamer, of silver fine, quick spun,

A life of shadow finally in the sun,

Each of us a part of One,

Returning to the source,

Let us hope and hope to find,

The bitter root can still be sweet,

In memories of better dreams to keep.

 

Teri Skultety

Coming soon…Red Line Wine

 

I’m working on the final poems in a collection or poetry and prose titled, Red Line Wine, that I first put together in 1996. These are the poems and prose of my youth, of first love, of heartbreak, of dreams, homesickness, longing, of hope, and believing that anything is possible. I’ll have a little more to say about this work when the time comes, for now, I put together a book trailer for Red Line Wine, using one of poems from the collection, “The Knights of Stolen Roses.”

I hope that you enjoy it!

Teri Skultety

 


THE KNIGHTS OF STOLEN ROSES

Locked within the walls of the past, 
The shadows and secrets of living too fast,
the memories bond the quiet heart,
to the moments when the Knights did part...

From the Top of the World the sun slid down,
Darkness descended on the Court Jester Clown,
Tinker Town in silence, forever fog bound,
Distant trains and the haunted sound,

The souls of seventeenth Summers,
the beats of distant drummers,
the heroes of war, or simply romance,
for those who dared to take a chance,

The midnight moon and shooting star,
knowing when to push it too far,
armored machines of lightning speed,
testing the limit when feeling the need,

Heart beating fast, living to tell,
the days when Knights were raising Hell,
A sweet little princess, and maybe, she might,
Roses you steal in becoming a Knight.

Trust was shared and rarely spoken,
A promise made was rarely broken,
Reaching for that shining brass,
Good and Evil, through the looking glass.

Dreaming of their future days,
When Knights must go their separate ways,
Only to dream of going home again,
For boyhood Knights, make the strongest men.

...A shade, or two, will always remain,
By which to know a loss, or count a gain,
Fiery Red and Forever Blue,
In everything you say and do.

Much more than medieval fantasy,
they wrote their own codes of nobility,
Knighted, by their own free will.
Is the Knight within you living still?

Teri Skultety
Originally composed, March 25, 1987

 

Dear Lover.

Why should we pretend we are not devastated? These lives, these loves, the lovers into friends, and friends, into lovers? Why should we pretend our passions do not drive us to distraction?

Because these pretensions are the foundations of the world.

What is the world, that we cannot take it, and have it and keep it? What is the world but someplace to paint our legends on? A canvas unforsaken like the dawn of ever after, it is ours but here we sit and ponder it, and do not live but die a thousand times a day for want of all that more that is no more than love and feeling home within a lovers arms, and on clean sheets, and driving ’round familiar streets, we long for safety. Oh, but then to look into your eyes and know that you are mine, and there’s some understanding, but I can hear you laughing, because is it as serious as all that?

It never is in the beginning, the sinning, but then is that even what it is? Should we pass judgment, or should we just live, and love, the way we want to? I dream a better dream, with you next to me.

We seek a comfort and a shelter from the world, in each others arms.
We seek a fortress, in the dark.

~ Teri Skultety