Thursday, October 3, 2013


I watch
textiled world
dimmed window,
twilight muted; sheer pleated sky
spiraling into night’s music.

I applaud
pirouetting trees.
On point branches, limbs, leaves
arch and pliƩ, furl then unfold lithe,
elated against purpled maroon scrim.
Twirled shouts of orange coil, crescendo, boom, crown;
Gift transcends day and falls silent. 

by S.Nielson

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Of Darning Needles and Dragon Flies

Picture this:
A wonderfully slow summer afternoon and you on a reclining white deck chair, in the shade of the lilac bush rife with last blooms just beginning to fall to the full green grass below. You are nine years old and the promise of June, July and August stretch out before you like a never-ending Slip and Slid. The sky, cerulean above you, is perfect in its blueness except for a few horse-tail wisps of cloud just above the snow-topped mountains to the East, slow to learn the warmth of the season.  You are sticky with a red Popsicle, savoring its sweetness, its coolness painting your tingly tongue, and then letting it drip, drip, drip into your mouth when the tingle becomes an ache. Life is good - perfect really, at this very moment in time.

Suddenly, not too far off in the glimmer of sunglare, you hear an ominous sound...soft to the point of almost not there at all, but you know this sound and it sends chills down your sweaty back. You sit straight up, forgotten Popsicle dangling in your hand, melting into the grass.  You swing your legs over the side of the lounge, ready to run should your instincts be correct.  They are correct, you are confident of their rightness due to early years spent running from this very predator, and sure enough, from around the side of the garage comes the enemy, flashing iridescent wings beating over-fast in their efforts to attack!  It has you sized up and zeroed in on; your ragged breath and chaotic mind, kicked into over-drive, knows the chase will not be child's play.  It hovers, seeming to wait for your move, but you're stuck in a quagmire of fear  and stand stock-still with cherry rivulets running down the side of your leg and into your sandal.  Will this be the day it finally gets you? A zillion thoughts race through your brain, unhappily remembering every lie you have ever told, especially that whopper you voiced last night at Gran's house.  You told her "yes!", over-loud and unsmiling, looking her straight in the eye when she asked if you'd washed as you left the bathroom, water still swirling it's way down the toilet.

It zigs up, then zags down, toying with you. The hellacious, lip-stitching Darning Needle! Horror of childhood horrors! Your fear recedes, along with most of the blood flow to your brain, and you are up and running, Popsicle flung to the winds.  In science class last year your teacher had tried to convince you they were nothing more than Dragon Flies, beautiful and harmless, even going so far as to say they were helpful, providing larvae for fish to feed on and make plentiful our ponds and lakes for anglers.  This was a lie and you didn't buy into it for a minute. You have very wise older siblings and they have instructed you in the ways of the punishing Darning Needle Beast-Bug. You had been warned, more than once, that this devilish insect has been invented to seek out children who lie and sew their mouths shut.  The dreadful Darning Needle's beautiful colors and stained-glass window wings are merely a ploy to pull in unsuspecting youthful falsifiers and fibbers and stitch their lying lips closed forever more.

You are not about to let this happen to slightly dishonest, but mostly just little white lies you! With hair whipping back and forth and pink spittle exploding from your wide open and shouting mouth, you pound around to the front porch, arms windmilling to jettison off any income threats, and slam your way into the sanctuary of the front hall, the door banging with a reassuring thud.

"Whose's slamming doors!" reverberates from the kitchen, where your mom is putting the finishing touches on a Tuna Casserole for Lady's Club.

"Not me." comes your innocent reply.

You're safe....for now.

And so goes my tale...and I'm sticking to it!  Please enjoy all our relay writers.
Participants and posts:
orion_mk3 – (link to post)
Diem_Allen – (link to post)
Ralph Pines – (link to post)
articshark – (link to post)
Lady Cat – (link to post)
U2Girl – (link to post)
MsLaylaCakes – (link to post)
SuzanneSeese –
robynmackenzie –
milkweed – (link to post)
Sunwords – (link to post)
Angyl78 – (link to post)
susanielson – (link to post)
HistorySleuth – (link to post)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pity Party, Ticket for One

       It's been a while,hu?

The title to this rant has a negative connotation...screams poor pitiful me, really, which is a turn-off to anyone who might chance upon it. Maybe that's the whole reason I'm screaming it, just to be left along in my poor, pitiful state of being...or maybe it's because somehow I sense I've hit bottom and I want to bounce back the other way for awhile.  I have to believe there's more to me, I have to hope...

These days are different...these days I am alone, my days full of just me.  I remember when a few hours to myself felt like a Heaven-sent escape; I lived and continued to breath thinking of those quiet times when I could have sound or no sound, sleep or no sleep, goings or comings...any old thing I wanted without answering to somebody else.
But these days are different.  There is no choice now.  I am alone with kids grown and gone and no significant other needing what I am. Now my t.v. runs nearly around the clock so something is making a noise other than just me breathing, rattling around.  It's become a distraction to thoughts that scare the bejebbers out of me, like what if I die in my bed?  Will it be days? weeks?  How long before I am missed? Will I be missed?
Of course I know that's just silliness, I do. I know others are about in this world who know me and even still love me, but when I'm here, alone, night about me like an old gray shawl, tatty and torn with loneliness, silliness doesn't matter.  Silliness becomes defunct, outdated and just another part of me that I don't notice because I won't look...can't look, in case it's not there at all.
Slowly I am struggling to find out who I am again.  There was a time, when I had screaming kids, a husband demanding of me more than I thought I could give, and a life cluttered with confusion and hurry on every side, when I knew I was happy, when I knew who I was and what I could do.  I knew what I liked and how to make life fulfilling for me and those I loved.  I had favorites.  I don't mean a favorite kid or a favorite family member or even a favorite memory, but favorites that allowed me to know who I was: a favorite color, favorite flavor, flower, season of the year, song, food, holiday, place to visit, hobby, shoes, character from a Disney movie.  I was solid with all of those.  I knew I was someone because I had favorites separating me into my own category. I had a place.
Somewhere along the way, while I was encumbered with survival mode, my favorites all fizzled away.  I ate what others liked because I couldn't decide, I listened to music if others turned it on...their music. Seasons became difficult, each with it's own demands, and fall favorite and spring favorite faded into the annals of my job. Their context changed and favorite didn't matter anymore. I found surcease in the favorites of others, because choice became too difficult on top of the required. Truly, I lost my favorites all on my own, allowing them to leave me because I was too weary to notice they were going...I don't even know if they waved goodbye.
Slowly, so slow I'm not sure yet I recognize them, some of my favorites are finding their way home,  I remember I liked to write.  I'm in the process of deciding if it's a favorite...I should know soon enough, depending on whether or not I can sustain it and create with a mind half-blind with lose of self.  I'm not sure all of me has survived, but I find I'm becoming curious. I think that might be a good thing.  I think it was a part of me I used to really like...a favorite.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Some hearts meander
willy-nilly beneath
hatching skies
where Griffins fly
                 and sing.
Some hearts are content
to sit at tended hearth with a smiling
fire, warm
and lasting, always
looking to the leaping flames, the satisfying glow of
low embers
and the occasional, incredible glory of a fast and high flair, bright because of constant
darkness it

S. Nielson

02/14/2012 Valentines day

My poor vacant blog...feeling neglected and unloved.  My new job and sooo many miles on the road have been taking my time and energy.  I am thankful for the work and I am thrilled it's a job I can be happy with, feeling like I'm making a tiny difference in this big old world.  I adore my girl students, even the troubled and difficult ones...oh wait...they are all troubled and difficult! Yet adorable still, and I'm delighted to be in their lives. We have been exploring concrete poetry in class on this Valentine's day,  and I was able to work right along with the girls.  I'll post my poem, although the thing that makes it a concrete poem will not be evident for the most part - its shape.  You'll have to envision it as leaping flames!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Week For the Record Books

What a week, and it's only Wednesday!  Oh boy, what's hiding in the next couple of days, I wonder!?  As some of you are aware, this has been the year of my undoing...out of work, and job after job has declined to want me. I have felt old and female and fat, far more than at any other time in my life. Monday I had yet another torturous interview, complete with an example of my interaction with the students, consisting of 16 clever Jr. High girls in a treatment center.  They were, not so much. I traveled about 120 miles and then back again to feel like a failure! The staff interview wasn't too bad...great people, but I haven't been in a classroom for going on 1 1/2 years and it was tough.
I sent a note to the fellow who arranged for the interview, expressing my thanks for the opportunity and then hunkered down to wait.  Yesterday, after fighting down nerves all day, I got an email telling me the job would not be extended to me at this time.I crumbled, complete with denial, self- reviling, and hostile thoughts of  running away.  Sometimes things just feel too hard to take for even one minute more!  Then, this morning I got a call from the same fellow, asking me if I'd be willing to accept a position teaching English at their sister school, which is a private all-girls high school residential treatment center, with just 12 students. I almost dropped the phone! I HAVE A JOB!
It didn't seem real for awhile.  I'm going tomorrow to meet the personnel at the center and get the scoop on what's up there. Things are going to get complicated for awhile now, because I have a senior who needs to stay here until graduation in June.  I don't know if I can swing two rent payments, but it's got to be better than $25 to $30 in gas every bloomin' day, to say nothing of the hours traveling.  Chris is mature enough for me to leave him home alone four nights out of seven each week, but....sheesh!  Is there never an easy answer to life's riddles?!! One day at a time for now, I suppose.
So anyway...the mood swings have been spectacular, and I'm on a high at the moment.  Chris is at a ball game and I definitely need to celebrate a little.  I have in mind to show off a bit by posting two of my pieces that have won honors and awards.  Hope you don't mind, but my brain is sizzling and needs validation and re-assurance that I CAN DO THIS!

The first one, Vortex, was published in UVU's literary magazine in 2006. It seems fitting for tonight because it makes reference to angels watching us as we spin through our lives down here below.My mind has been on Robyn today and I feel certain she has had a hand in this amazing turn of events, which will impact my life in ways yet to be seen.

The second addresses my hopeless, too-tired-for-words mood of yesterday, but I'm including it here because it took honors and was published in UVU's literary magazine in 2007.  It was selected as the 1st place poem of the year, and I was asked to read it at the award ceremony.  I was very honored and proud to share it with my esteemed peers. It's titled Everlasting, and reflects on feelings of despair and an overwhelming desire for surcease from life's harsh lessons.

And so:


Spin 'round,'round,'round and fall
all giddy-dizzy down.
Hold fast to long slow grass
to keep from slipping off the edge.

Lay back and watch
the twirling whirligig,
pothered wild
sky and cirrus, weird
birds with circling wings,
silver, streaky jets
whose fisted fumes are cracking open
Heaven's floor, enticing angels
to explore beyond
cyclone skies.

Lay back and watch
while Earth and Heaven catch,
collide to stillness.
Earth is turning, turning, turning.
Who is it then,
that lies back looking
as we spin?

Susan Nielson


When death flies overhead
like a bird, when it
circles, sees, leaves
with wings tapered, pointing up,
then forever is a long way down
a slow road.

Ruts have been cut
in the path with pressing
wheels, blundering
along the same weary trail,
no chance for a shift,
always adrift  with the dust,
wind, whatever comes.

The same fixed sun
moves like a drum,
slogging along a hollow,
stuck in it's course,
counting the same stars
over and over.

It would be fine to stop,
not start again,
no sun coming up, going down,
around and around.
Just rest...stillness,
blessed, beyond reach,

while wheels thunder over,
above.  And you,
in your last rut, 
know none of it.

That would be Heaven enough.

Susan Nielson

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the Thirteenth - And the Oscar Goes To....

I took Chris to school this morning and on the way home I happened upon a black cat...

Lucky Me

Coming home,
a smug cat crawled
from knee-high weeds,
and proudly crossed
in front of me.

...suddenly I sat
on velvet seat,
with street-turned-stage,
script written vividly as
I became enchanted fan.

Four practiced feet
pranced fast,
then blurred still faster,
rocky props not stopping
her high-tailed stage routine.

Dramatic black,
like costumed Goth,
her fur spinning silver with tricks
of light, as her act
became a scamper dance.

Her flying exit off-left
lifted me, left me sighing
for encore, but diva disdained
her return, no refrain
for smile-flashing paparazzi me.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Sometimes Strange Things Just Happen... (part 1)

Momma said she named me Susan because my dark eyes reminded her of the Black-Eyed Susans in the little flower bed by Grandpa's big front porch.  The sunny flowers with the ebony pompom centers grew up through the marmalade colored Marigolds and the ruffled purple and white petticoats of the Petunias. I quickly became Susie, not Suzy, kind of plump, kind of plain, with brown hair straight as broom straws, pulled back into a tight, too thick pony tail, crooked bangs sweeping across my forehead.
I was too loud and I giggled entirely too much.  My wardrobe consisted mostly of hand-me-downs, and seeing as how I was fourth down of six sisters, by the time they came to me the dresses were more patchwork than pretty, with sashes torn from their seams. Ree got the dresses second in line and Ree was a tomboy. Schoolyard games of "Kick the Can" or "Red Rover" were death to sashes, which presented themselves as easy targets to anyone gaining the lead from behind. If I did happen to inherit a dress come down from Carol that still had sashes, I made short work of them. Robyn, who was next in line after me, didn't know what a sash was until she turned ten and got a new dress for her birthday. Mary Kaye came after Robyn, poor little thing.  It's a wonder neighbors didn't take up a collection for the sixth girl child!
Momma loved us and told us so on a regular basis.  She also told us She was "gone to China," when she became overwhelmed with our need of her. She never really went to China, but I'll bet she contemplated it nearly every day for many years.
Daddy worked as an accountant and on the side he raised chickens. We had three long wooden chicken coops out back, landscaped with overgrown stink-weeds and haphazard Pottawatomie Plum Bushes.Directly behind the house the egg cellar was build right into the ground.  It's shingled red slope of roof was about all you could see of it. That roof became the ruin of many a pair of pants from the sliding down of it.  The exhilarating, bumpy race down it's sandpapery surface fast became forbidden adventure, one that often got me into trouble and created more patchwork clothes.
We grew up well feed on Momma's ten loaves at a time, smelling like Heaven, home-made bread. Always there were eight for the family and two to share with friends and ailing neighbors.  When she made bread, Momma would let us little ones still at home have a little hunk of dough to make what she called a Henry Loaf.  A Henry Loaf was just like a regular loaf, only baked in a tiny tin that produced tea party size bread.  I loved to be with Momma in the kitchen, the windows frosted with steam, the smell of yeast and browning crust casting it's enchantment.  I felt safe and secure in my perceptions of how things were.
I think back to those easy days of knowing who I was.  I thought I had the answers that Momma sometimes seemed unsure of. Often she would cry for no reason apparent to me, no bruises or band-aids, anyway. I thought I could make her happy if I tried really hard and was a good helper...I thought I could do anything when I was five.  I was convinced I had a pretty good understanding of my sibling-drenched world and how it all fit together.  When I was six there came a prelude to what I came to think of as 'the strangeness." I was grudgingly made to understand how little of the working of my life I had real dominion over.  That's about the time I became afraid of the dark.