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Friday, February 26, 2016

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: February 2016



Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.



This month I read The Best American Travel Writing 2013. Like last month, since I am still working on As Far As The Eyes Can See, I wanted to read travel pieces to help inspire my poetry. While these are articles and not poetry, the different stories did help inspire me. I can honestly say the stories about traveling in Cuba when it was still illegal for Americans to travel there, the woman journalist that went to Egypt and the year someone didn't travel were my favorites.

The Cuba story has inspired me to eventually write a poem about the one time I dressed up as Fidel Castro in 10th grade to deliver a report I did. I was the only one in the class to dress up as the historical figure I did my report on and I brought food: Cuban sandwiches mom made. The sandwiches were a hit. Ever since that day in April 2006 when I dressed up as Fidel, I've always wanted to meet him. I'd like to travel to Cuba, now it's legal for Americans to go there, and see if it would be possible to meet Fidel before he dies. Probably not, but it would make a good poem methinks!

However, the Cuba story was sad in a way. While tourists of other countries do visit Havana, the US's embargo against Cuba has destroyed many small towns. People in Cuba still drive cars from the 1950s, trains in small towns are few and far between, and the way of life seems sad. Most from the small towns either go to Havana or Miami when they are old enough. The writer could go to Cuba in 2011 because he married someone who has Cuban ancestry. Cubans and families of Cubans are granted special visas to visit family in Cuba.


I really liked the Egyptian story because I've always wanted to travel to Egypt to see the pyramids and all the history that surrounds Egypt. I would also go to use my Arabic skills - I think it would be awesome to talk to the locals in their native tongue! However, the writer found out that men love to oggle at women, she felt overwhelmed. One day she decided to buy a burqa and go to the souq with her other Western friend in full burqa to just disappear from all the scrutiny of being watched. I loved that aspect of the story - it felt exhilarating.

I love this series and it truly does help me with my poetry for my upcoming book.

Here is a poem I wrote about going to a Civil War site in 2010. I'm looking for a title. Thoughts?

Welcome to the Civil War trails - follow gals and boys!
Can you hear the guns shooting in the background,
drums beating, Confederates advancing so coy?

Maples and poplars hide, Yankees can't be found,
the prison in that old barn over there-
can you hear the guns shooting in the background?

Scribblings for help on that cement wall never fade or wear,
cries so loud, the torment, the death is vivid in the 21st century-
in that prison in the old barn over there!

Yet in the distant town, happy dances to Dixie,
women in their Victorian best, soldiers kissing their goodbyes,
cries so loud, the torment, the death vivid in the 21st century1

Bayonets and muskets, gender and birthdate lies-
for Dixie, for Virginia, for Southern rights!
Women in their Victorian best, soldiers kissing their goodbyes.

And here we are as tourists, learning and viewing the fight,
welcome to the Civil War trails - follow gals and boys,
for Dixie, for Virginia, for Southern rights,
drums beating, Confederates advancing, so coy!

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