Tag Archives: Judy Dykstra-Brown

How to Write a Blog with Bite!

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How to Write a Blog with Bite!

Have you ever had a hot dog without mustard, onions, relish?
What is a hot dog, after all, but something to embellish?
The same is true of blogging. It has to have some spice––
an interesting title is my opening advice.
Remember your first sentence should invite us in.
An opening poorly stated? The worst blogging sin.
Don’t start you blog apologizing you have naught to say.
If you have nothing for us?  Just don’t write today.
Make your first line snappy, original and clear.
Don’t show your indecision, for you’re the expert here!!!
Nobody else can possibly know where you’re going to go
if you write about a topic where you are in the know.
Hook them with your opening–confident or funny.
Your readers are the buzzing flies. Give them a little honey!
Start right in with your topic with no wandering around.
We shouldn’t have to search for where the real message is found.
A blog is like a fine-tooled belt that you have carved from leather––
not just a pile of sentences that you have heaped together.
Do not use tired comparisons that you have heard before.
Each sentence that you write should be like opening a door
and finding yourself in a world that’s fresh and new and bright.
And then you’ll have a hot dog blog that we will want to bite!!!


Here are some links to just a few of the exceptional blogs that never give short shrift.  Read them every day and their excellence will pull you along with them. Set your standards high and you will soon have a readership that will make you want to excel,  just to keep them happy!! (photo is a stock photo from shutterstock.)

https://redswrap.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/the-old-days-of-big-wine/

https://alotfromlydia.wordpress.com/

http://teepee12.com/

https://momshieb.wordpress.com/

okcforgottenman.wordpress.com

https://ourrumblingocean.wordpress.com/

https://yournibblednews.wordpress.com

https://helenmeikle.wordpress.com/

http://thegadabouttown.com/

 

 The Prompt: What’s the key advice you would give to new bloggers:?

Time’s Fool

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Time’s Fool

I’ve labored now for many years trying to make time stop,
thinking if it just would pause, that I could cross its top
and go into the future or go into the past––
passing back and forwards over timelines that are vast.

For years I used up all my time thinking about this.
I never had a child or even a first kiss.
I thought if I made time my slave, then I’d have time to do
all those wished for “one day” things I’d added to the queque:

dating, travel, games of chance, gardening and cooking––
all the things that others do while I have just been looking
for the perfect formula to take me back in time.
(Or traveling to the future would be equally sublime.)

But, for my whole life, you see,  I’ve been no place but here,
fiddling with gadgets and sitting on my rear.
In trying to trick time I fear that I’ve tricked only me,
for life itself is time travel, and the cost is free!

I do not mind the cash I’ve spent.  I don’t regret the cost.
The only thing that I regret is all the time I’ve lost!

Pick Your Gadget: time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only have one. Which of these do you choose, and why? https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pick-your-gadget/

Accident

The Prompt: Tell us about a time you should have stopped and helped someone but didn’t.

DSC07911Accident

When I rise at seven to let her out,
she’s in a hurry, without a doubt,
for I see only a streaking blur––
a tip of tail and whirr of fur.
As she rushes out to pee,
the shame is not on her, but me.
I heard her bark an hour ago,
but it was only seven and so
I thought I’d just go back to sleep
and she made no further peep.

Now I see the pile upon the floor
just inside the open door
held as long as she was able,
then hidden underneath the table.
Not the first time in twelve years
that she’s caught me in arrears
in opening doors to let her out,
yet it is true without a doubt
that she has never erred before
and made a mess upon the floor.

I know that she is feeling shame,
even though she’s not to blame.
For once she is not under feet
as I prepare something to eat;
and when I call, she does not come.
She’s in the garden, feeling glum.
She feels she’s done a shameful act
devoid of training, breeding, tact.
She does not know that I’m the one
standing here with smoking gun.

Every bit of blame is mine,
for Frida’s former record is fine.
For twelve long years, she never peed
upon the roof in time of need
even when we didn’t know
she was locked up there and so
there is no need to hang her head
in shame of what she’s done, and dread
of being scolded or being blamed.
I am the one who should be shamed!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sorry-im-busy/

Beyond Forgiveness

                                                              Beyond Forgiveness
Version 5

The Prompt: Do you hold grudges or forgive and forget quickly?

With 18 people coming for lunch tomorrow, can you forgive me once again for sending you to an earlier poem I wrote on this same subject?  Go HERE to see my response!!!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/i-cant-stay-mad-at-you/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/i-cant-stay-mad-at-you/

“The One Who Got Away” Devil #3, Part II (Conclusion)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Helpless.” Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it? This is the conclusion to a true story that was begun yesterday. I don’t think you want to read the ending without reading the beginning first.  To do so, go HERE.

“The One Who Got Away”

Devil #3, Part II

Perhaps if I acted normal, it all would go away–
this little game they’d started that I didn’t want to play.
I said, “Please let me out right here, a friend lives down the block!”
But silence met my pleas, as though they couldn’t hear me talk.
As the three of them kept talking about which way to turn,
the man I’d danced with quickly turned cold and taciturn.

He had said he was a stranger who came from the east coast,
yet he didn’t ask directions of the one who knew the most.
“Which way should we go, man?” He asked the one behind
as though there was a certain road he wanted to find.
Of me they took no notice–as though I wasn’t there.
The driver just looked straight ahead with a hardened stare.

My life’s worst fear had been to be in someone else’s power,
so the thought of what was happening made me want to cower
and beg and plead and scream and cry; but I did none of that,
though I felt like a bird first toyed with by a cruel cat.
My heartbeat raced but my thoughts raced ahead of them to find
escape from what must have been planned by his devious mind.

They took the road past houseless land—a golf course and a farm.
I knew the way led out of town—a cause of much alarm.
“Turn right here,” I said as we approached a lighted junction,
but as he turned left I knew that there would not be any unction.
I won’t go into all the times I pleaded with them to stop.
“My friend lives down this road,” I said, “Just leave me at the top!”

“Are we heading out for Casper?” said the stranger on my right.
I wondered what would happen if I chose this time to fight.
To slug him once and climb over to jump out of the car,
but with three of them I knew that I would not get far.
I also knew the stretch of lonely road from here to there.
The bodies found along that road—and knew how I would fare.

When I had left my house a party had been going strong.
I wondered who would still be there for I’d been gone so long.
Yet it was a plan and there were neighbors who might hear my screams,
so I gave them an alternative to their frightening schemes.
“It’s so far to Casper,” I said in a normal voice,
“Perhaps it would be better if you made another choice.

A good night’s sleep and food and drink is what might serve you best.
I live alone, my house is near. Why don’t you come and rest
and start out again tomorrow for wherever you are going?
If you are strangers here, then you could have no way of knowing
how far it is to Casper with no place to stop for gas.”
My suggestions fell on deaf ears. No one answered me, alas.

Once on the open road I would have no chance to escape,
What would happen next? Would it be Torture? Murder? Rape?
In less than a mile we would reach the Interstate–
the beginning of the ending of this ill-fated date.
I thought of all the stories where women were abducted.
It was a grim sorority into which I’d been inducted.

How would they tell my mother, my sister, my best friend?
Would I be another story for which no one knows an end?
I tried to think how I could end it, but could see no way.
No knife, no gun, no poison to aid me on this day.
I looked at the glove box. Was there a gun inside?
Was there at least one bullet in it? Enough for suicide?

Years ago when I first worried how I’d fare if I were one
of those unfortunate women snatched for a sadist’s fun,
I thought I’d get a capsule of cyanide that fit
on a chain around my neck in case I needed it.
But that seemed so excessive, so improbable and crazy.
Now I chided myself for being too damn lazy

to cover every angle to protect myself for what
I realized was happening –and this was the cruelest cut.
How did I feel? Not panicked, just the deepest sort of dread
of all that they could do to me before they left me dead.
Though I’m brave, I don’t do well with pain, so I have to say
I’ve always known if tortured, I’d give everything away.

There was no chance these men’s intentions were anything but grim,
so I kept my eyes upon the road and never looked at them.
Then I shifted to the dashboard. Was there any help for me
I was overlooking? And then I spied the key.
What if I grabbed the keys out and threw them in the air
into the grass beside the road. I wondered, did I dare?

Then I saw two headlights in the mirror, far back, but coming fast.
At nearly 4 a.m., I knew this chance would be my last.
As the truck got nearer, I reached out for the keys,
ripped them from the ignition, and then fast as you please,
hurled them from the car into the tall grass by the side.
The car came to a rolling stop as the engine died.

The man next to me grabbed out for the handle of the door,
but the driver screamed out to him with a mighty roar.
“Don’t leave the girl,” he said, and then he told the other guy
to hop out and find the keys—and then I knew that I would die
if I didn’t make a move and so I wedged my back and feet
and catapulted from the front right into the back seat.

I rolled over the car’s rear trunk and it was just my luck
that I landed in the road just as the headlights of the truck
came up behind and brakes went on and I went running back,
pursued by all three members of that frightening pack.
The driver of the truck was young—twenty-two or twenty-three
I beat upon his window, saying, “Help me! Please help me!

These men are trying to kidnap me! Please, let me in your truck!”
By then my former “savior” had arrived to try his luck.
“Don’t believe her, she’s a con artist. She’ll hit you in the head
and make away with all your money. Leave you in the ditch for dead!
She tried to do it to us, man. We were trying to find a cop
when she grabbed the keys out of the car and brought us to a stop!”

“My name is Judy Dykstra. I teach English at Central High.
Please don’t leave me with these men, for if you do, I’ll die!”
The driver then called out to him—angry to the core,
“You’re making a mistake, man,” as he opened up the door.
I ran around and climbed inside. The last things we could see
were three backsides in the grass, searching for a key.

We knew they couldn’t follow us, but still he floored the pedal
while I went on and on about how he deserved a medal.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I said three times or more.
Then, “Why did you believe me and open up the door?”
“Because two of those characters looked so low down and crass,
but mainly ‘cause my sister had you last year for a class!”

This story that I’ve told you could have had a different end,
But as it was I spent the night with a longtime friend
who persuaded me that I should never ever tell
what happened on this evening, for it had turned out well.
“Do you know their plate number? Can you describe their car?
Could you tell their face descriptions? Do you know where they are?

And even if they find them, what could you possibly say?
They’ll say that you were just a girl picked up along the way.
They met you in a crowded bar. You asked them for a ride.
They walked you to their car and you chose to get inside.
You asked them all to stay with you, but they all said no.
Then you suddenly got angry and said you had to go.

They didn’t want to let you out and leave you all alone.
They said that they would rather take you safely to your home.
But you were drunk and even though they all said, ‘Lady, please. . . ‘
You reached out and suddenly you grabbed for the keys.
You threw them in the tall grass and jumped out of the car
a totally different person than that lady in the bar!

You convinced some poor kid they were kidnapping you.
And there was nothing else that they could think of they could do!
They didn’t try to stop you or to argue if you please.
They simply went back looking to try to find their keys.
Can you imagine in a trial what they would make of this?
You know you are the sort of person that they love to diss.

A female teacher out at bars who had been heavily drinking,
closing down the barroom. What could you have been thinking?
Your friends all say that when they left, you just didn’t show.
So you left the bar at 3 A.M. with someone you don’t know.
You get into his car with two more men you’ve never seen
For a teacher you appear to be other than squeaky clean.

You could lose your job for this, and your reputation!”
She ended her soliloquy in a state of great frustration.
So tell me please what do you think, was I right or not
In not reporting these three men, so they were never caught?
All I can say is that I wonder to this very day
how many other women died because they got away.

*

For Red: The Summer Home

The Summer Home

Decaying Farmhouse in Missouri Soybean Field

Photo by okcforgottenman, aka flycatcher

THE SUMMER HOME

When my dad bought the land
where the Big White River and Little White River joined,
I couldn’t believe that we owned land with trees on it.
While he plowed the small field,
I walked the woods and found the abandoned shanty.
Its door was open; in fact it could not shut.
Inside was a mysterious, sweet and fecund smell–
a mouse smell new to me
that I couldn’t stop myself from breathing in.
The mildew and the dust,
the musk of warm linoleum,
every new smell and sight was magic.

I was enchanted by this house emptied
of chairs and tables and beds,
yet full of the accumulated energy of past tame lives
and present wild ones:
the moving of leaf shadows
across the chipped linoleum of the L-shaped kitchen,
the dents on the floor where the kitchen chairs had set,
as though someone had taken care each day
to line up the legs in their holders.
Upstairs I found crayon scribbles halfway up the wall–
the arm reach of a three-year-old.

When I asked about the house,
my dad said that it was our summer home,
and the next time we went to the field,
I brought a broom.

I cleaned out the mouse droppings and the tumbleweeds.
I collected the peeled tile fragments,
imagining gluing them back again.
I washed out a quart canning jar at the pump
and filled it with spring water
and sweet clover,
putting it on the floor
between the kitchen chair holes
in the exact middle of the vanished table.
With the old shirt I found in the corner,
I rubbed mud and river sand
from the linoleum counter tops.
More sand worked as Ajax to scrub out sinks.

All summer long I worked on our summer home,
and for that summer and many summers to come,
I waited in vain for our move to the river house.

I sat on its screened front porch.
Outside the screen grew spearmint and peppermint.
On the top leaf of the tallest branch was a grasshopper,
the kind that left tobacco stains in your hand
when you held it.
All around me were the trees–
the swaying shedding cottonwoods
and scrub chokecherries.
It was a wealth of trees I’d never seen before
in the town where we lived on the bare prairie
nor on the roads we traversed for hundreds of miles
to see a movie or a dentist
or to buy clothes.

Around the screens buzzed the heavy flies,
their motors slow in the heat of July–
all the flies on the outside
wanting to get in
and all the flies on the inside
pressing the screen to get out–
like I longed to get out
to the freedom of trees
where black crows
and dull brown sparrows
rustled their wings
and flew from branch to branch.

In the distance, meadowlarks called
the only birdcall I ever recognized.
No squirrels, no chipmunks; but, rabbits? Yes.
My father said no bears,
but he’d told me the story of Hugh Glass,
mauled by a bear,
walking this river for a hundred miles
past this very joining of the Big and Little White,
in search of help;
and I could imagine one last bear or two
hidden in my woods.

So at night, at home in our winter house in town,
when he told the story I loved the best,
I was the one who discovered the bears’ cottage,
and the cottage was our summer home.
The chairs–too hard, too soft, just right—
I sat upon in turn,
taking great care every time to nestle each leg
back into its correct place on the kitchen linoleum.
And when I lay in the perfect bed of the little bear,
I could touch the crayon markings on the wall.

So when the three bears found me asleep
in the little bear’s room,
they weren’t really very scary;
but I ran anyway,
into my dark and shadowed owl-calling woods,
my woods still echoing the day lit fluted calls of meadowlarks,
their music shaken from the snarled leaves
in the evening breeze.
I ran to trees–
their leaves frosted by moonlight and the Milky Way,
vibrating with the power of the Big Dipper and Orion,
the Seven Sisters and the North Star.

Into the trees
to where I stored my memories
in the frog-croaking depressions under clumps of grass,
in the tangles of Creeping Jenny
and the fluff of dandelions,
in the sand hollows
that crept up from the riverbanks,
in the cocklebur and the chigger-infested grass,
in the crooks of cottonwoods and caves of thickets,
in the tiny cupped palms
of sweet clover and purple alfalfa,
in the wheat grass and the oats and trefoil.

The year my dad decided to expand the field
on the river bottom,
I pleaded, I cajoled, I promised, I prayed
for the summer home
where I had lived for neither one summer
nor one night, in actuality,
but where, nevertheless, I’d had faith
I would someday live.

Of course, there was no saving the woods
and summer house.
It was rich river land, prime for irrigation.
The trees were a waste of soil.
The summer home–everybody’s gentle joke on me.

After the cats and bulldozers were through,
I went with my dad to see
where trees had been ripped out,
the house burned to the ground,
the soil turned and planted
with crops that would build the land.
Their woods now furrowed soil,
the crows and sparrows
had gone to some other shaded place;
the mice, back to the fields.

My former references of trees forever gone,
the present references of sky and fence posts
too wide and new,
I wasn’t sure where my summer home had stood.
The house’s ghost destroyed by the bright sunlight,
the woodland paths replaced by tractor treads,
I watched instead a meadowlark
soar over brown fields and settle on barbed wire,
claiming the new field for its own.
With no house or forest left,
my only shade was chokecherry bushes,
my only chair, the pickup running board.
And so my summers at the river
vanished in the smoke of my summer home
and smoldering tree stumps.

But every night, my woods again threw still shadows
over the summer house,
and I ran once more the corridors of moonlight
cut through dense trees
like parts in a small girl’s hair.
I ran in the wet dew of the condensing summer heat.
I ran on the fuel of my need for magic
and wildness
and rivers
and trees.
I ran fueled by my need to be with something
that lived outside my window
as I passed long nights in my winter house.

It lay in the dark tapping of the trumpet vine branch
against my window
and the crunching of gravel
as someone walked by on the unpaved street–
out past midnight and I couldn’t tell who.
It lay in the pricking of the hair on my arm
as I stuck it out from the bed
and pressed it to the screen.

Always, in town, it lay outside of me–
except for when I floated the paths
of the woods surrounding the summer house,
joining it in dreams,
night after night and then less frequently
until the dreams came once a month
or once a year–
in darkness, always recognized;
but nonetheless forgotten in the light.

So by the time I saw the river field grown lush with corn,
I was a teenager in my first grownup swimsuit,
floating the milky Little White in an inner tube,
down to its junction
with the clear and colder-running water of the Big White,
my best friend next to me,
our cooler full of Coca-Colas and ham salad,
our conversations full of boys and music.

At the border of the field, to get to the river bank,
we crawled over the border of large tree trunks
laid horizontal, half-buried in sand.
I guess I knew they were the bones of my midnight woods.
I guess some part of me felt
the ghost of my summer house.
But, as I lay on my back on the submerged sand bank,
the warm water flowed so sensuously over my shoulders
and down my legs
that my suit seemed to peel itself
from my shoulders, breasts, thighs, calves.
And in a dream I floated the muddy water
of the Little White,
turning in the current
until the water seemed to flow inside of me,
floating me down
to the cool clear water of the Big White,
farther and farther away
from the summer home.

This poem was posted specifically as a response to THIS post on Red’s Wrap.

“The Summer Home” is excerpted from Prairie Moths–Memories of a Farmer’s Daughter, which is available Available on Amazon in Print and Kindle Versions and at Diane Pearl Colecciones and Sol Mexicana in Ajijic, MX

 

Wheat Cover 34 font

 Just as moths rise from prairie grasses to fly away, so did the author yearn to be free from the very place that nurtured her. Judy Dykstra-Brown’s verse stories and accompanying photographs give a vivid portrayal of rural life in the fifties and sixties, evoking the colors and sounds of the prairie and the longing a child with an active imagination feels for faraway places. From a small child curled up on the couch listening to her father’s stories of homestead days to pubescent fantasies of young itinerant combiners to her first forays into romance in the front seat of a ’59 Chevy, her memories acquire a value in time that she did not acknowledge while living them. Lovers of good poetry and those who miss the magic of childhood will relish Prairie Moths. (Excerpted from a review by Harriet Hart)