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Welcome to My Writer’s Blog!

Hello! I am a writer and I guess you could say my stories use magical realism and cultural farce to find the remarkable in the quotidian, simple everyday actions that hold meaning behind the obvious. I love creating new worlds that explore the minutiae of how we relate to one another. How we accept and reject others. The struggle to convince others and ourselves that we belong, and need to get along, despite our perceived differences.

There are learned disabilities (not learning disabilities!) that infect people’s thoughts about who is acceptable, who should be included and excluded in their group of friends, their neighborhood, their society, their country. And many times, we exclude ourselves from a group or activity because we’ve determined somewhere along the path our lives have followed that we are undeserving. Come on, haven’t you ever felt that way? I’m not smart enough, not good-looking enough, not athletic enough, whatever. I remember taking my parents to dinner one evening when we were visiting them – the restaurant we chose was reasonably priced, but it was located in what my father perceived was an upper-class neighborhood. “We don’t belong here,” he told me. “And why not?” I asked him. “Is there a sign that says, ‘Keep Out?'” “Not one you can see,” he said.

So sometimes the feeling of not belonging comes from within ourselves. The children’s story I am working on reflects this. Sometimes the feeling of not belonging is imposed on us by others. My adult story about an immigrant woman who cannot fit in her neighborhood is a reflection of that. My advocacy writings are a reflection of both.

My poetry tends to veer either toward humor or serious introspection, I never know until I put pen to paper!

Until next time!

~ Linda Drattell

“Paddington Park” Included in Viewless Wings Publisher August 2022 Poetry Podcast

I’m very excited that “Paddington Park” has been included in Viewless Wings Publisher’s August 2022 Poetry Podcast. I am featured along with four other poets:

Paddington Park

We lived for a time in London’s Marylebone neighborhood

On Chiltern Street, a stone’s throw from Paddington Park

It rains most of the time in London regardless

of the time of year—my husband says this

is what he loves most about London

you appreciate when the sun

does come out

Our dog loved our walks

through Paddington Park probably

because of the other dogs he’d meet

A variety of roses grow robustly there, probably

because of the incessant rain and the city’s tending

Benches are dedicated to people who have passed away

who once declared this to be their beloved park, probably

because they took refuge there from rushing to work, rushing home

On one of our strolls through the park I noticed a heavyset man

slumped on one of the benches, his eyes closed

his body rumpled beneath a pressed shirt

I thought he was sleeping, perhaps he

had grown tired from walking

Then I realized

he had died

Two police officers

arriving at the same conclusion

tried to waken him—one left to seek help

the other sat next to the man as if they were friends

solidarity through gentle touching, shoulder to shoulder

a macabre camaraderie, the deceased unaware of the living presence

How lonely the man must have been when he chose to sit on that bench

I looked away and continued past the rose bushes and other benches

past a children’s play area, exited the park, strolled along

Marylebone High Street and stopped by a café

drank a cup of hot tea at an outside table

my dog patiently curled by my feet

thought of the man on the bench

How lonely death is

no matter the

setting

“The Sparrow and the Oak” published by Wingless Dreamer Publisher

My poem, “Sparrow and the Oak,” published in Wingless Dreamer’s “Ink the Universe” anthology!

I had actually written this poem when I was a teenager and let it languish in a drawer for decades. When I found it, I made a few edits and then sent it to Wingless Dreamer. Very pleased they accepted it!

The Sparrow and the Oak

Sparrow called to Oak in plea,

“Let’s swap places, you and me.

Consider the opportunity,

With your strength and vitality

An eagle I would be,

And you, with my agility,

Could as the beautiful willow sway.

Let’s change places for just one day!”

Replied Oak to Sparrow,

“I, catch the beauty of the willow?

You, the path of an eagle follow?

This far-fetched fancy rings too hollow.

Instead of glory we might wallow

In quirky traits we’ll have to swallow.

What if, instead, my wide roots you earn

And I, your feathers receive in turn?”

“Please, let’s try,”

Said Sparrow, “How I’d fly!

“It’s natural to reach for the sky.

Come now, let’s agree, you and I.”

“Hmm,” Oak answered, with a sigh,

“Neither you an eagle nor a willow I.

Though the willow’s plumed joy I would love to taste,

Fanned branches beckoning lovers’ embrace.

All right, fine Sparrow, let’s try our chances.”

They swapped places, exchanged furtive glances.

Oak’s trunk shriveled, his leaves thinned and fine—

To his chagrin, he became a pine.

And Sparrow’s feet, with similar luck,

Grew wide and webbed as those of a duck!

My poem, “The Vet Who is also the Dentist,” published by Wingless Dreamer in their Vanish in Poetry anthology!

The Vet Who is Also the Dentist

Hmm,

Not my stall 

Nicer wood

No kick marks like in mine

Shavings are clean

As if no one stays long enough to leave their calling cards

There’s water

No hay 

Ah, a vet visit

To what do we owe the pleasure?

Pat on my neck

Yeah, yeah, hello to you too

Now I’m in cross-ties
Why’d she do that
I’m not difficult
She says it won’t hurt
Feel the prick of a needle
Oooooooooooooh
Where was I
Hmmmmmmmmmm
So drowsy
What was in that needle
I’d love to lie down

She’s asking my owner for help
Keeping me from hanging my head too low
But I can’t help it
Go with the flowwwwwwww
The vet is putting a contraption around my mouth
Hey, get out of there

cold metal against my tongue

soapy taste
What the heck…
Gggrlrgggrrrrllllaaaaaahhhhhh
Not the teeth not the teeth not the teeth
I have very little left
What did I hear?

No more hay?
Forget the grass?
Like hell I will
Oh, I can have more sweet grain
Lots and lots and lots of grain
Well okay
I can live with that
finally done
Wasn’t too bad

Flower Heads Torn

The following is a community-created poem started on my Facebook page regarding the most recent massacre of innocent children at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The contributors are from all over the country, one from London. We hope you will share it.

We are writers, poets, teachers, mothers, fathers.

The invitation from Linda Drattell’s Facebook post:

The news has been devastating. How do we cope with mass shootings? Our community writing a poem together, where each of us adds a line, might be helpful. It doesn’t solve anything, just helps us cope. Maybe someone in power will eventually read it and be moved by it.

Flower Heads Torn

Flower heads torn, young leaves shorn

Blood on the floor, shock at the door

Only thing left is families who mourn

While we cling to hope that things will change

The madness goes on and on out of rage

Lives stolen, hearts broken

Rage hollered, grief unspoken

Thoughts and prayers looked upon as tokens

Guns win, no change through the commotion

Hearts bleeding, children weeping, life forever changed

Mental health now the sole blame

Political invasion, lost equation

smoke screen evasion as guns reign

Children’s fears in the classroom

Haunt me as guns destroy freedom

So horribly unnecessary

Police simply emissaries

Of bad news

What’s America coming to?

Could be your child, your neighbor’s, your niece

With gun laws let’s end the unbelievable grief

Action, not thoughts and prayers, brings permanent relief

Need policy change to end gun violence

Not silence, not silence

Hearts are shattered and families mourn

Laid to rest, so recently born

This community poem was created from submissions by: Linda Drattell, Rachel Zemach, Evelyn Marie Ruhlman, Edgar Palmer, Lisa Harbour, Julie Rems Smario, John Garvey, Cynthia Moynihan, Eunhee Soh, Helen Schreibman-Smith, Marilyn Dykstra, Marsha Kopp, and Linda Moore Marple.

When Your Heart No Longer Beats

(Published in Wingless Dreamer’s “Field of Black Roses Anthology)

I know one day you will take your last breath

Leave me and grasp the cold hand of death

I want you to touch me as you pass on

Leave your fingers’ impress after you’ve gone

Pillows behind you

Quilt on your lap

I’ll stroke your head gently

Pretend it’s a nap

Your head will nod slowly as if you agree

I cannot survive this—it should have been me

To go first.

I should have been first.

I Imagine Him Saying Thank You

“I Imagine Him Saying Thank You,” is now published in Las Positas College’s Literary Journal, “Havik:”

I Imagine Him Saying Thank You

My horse gave me a funny look today
As if he felt he just had to say,
“Again, you carry my manure away
Such doggedness and care you display

And I want to ask you­—Who gives a shit?

You watch me eat, measure my weight
Act enthralled to see that I ate
You ask, Enough? when I stare at the gate

Is this a natural human trait


Really, I ask you—who gives a shit?

We’ve one shot at life yet you share yours with mine
carrying buckets and shovels seems fine
I don’t really care how you spend your time
But yes, without you, my health would decline.


So, thank you—now get on with your shit.”

“Old Man” Poem Published!

“Old Man” was published online by Viewless Wings Publisher: https://viewlesswings.com/2021/11/30/the-value-of-poetry-workshops-and-coaching/

Old Man

White hairs pepper his sepia forehead below a thinned black mane.

They cover the nether side of his throat like an old man’s goatee, 

light eyeshadow near dark eyes still large and curious,

a chalky accent along the lean muscle of his neck,

a patch here and there above his fetlocks, the side of one hock.

War injuries, not age, the erectness of his posture suggests.

The winter months are approaching,

a time of year when he quickly loses heft.

I monitor his eating closely, watch him slowly nibble his grain,

prod him to eat more.

His muzzle works methodically,

slipping food past worn molars no longer capable of chewing.

The farrier laughs when she comes to trim his hooves. 

Nothing to trim, she says,

He shuffles like an old man

His hind legs cross as he rambles.

I watch him head slowly to the far corner of the field

then double back at a happy gait,

not exactly a run,

proud of his stride, nonetheless. 

He has a thing for the mares,

neighs, expects them to respond–  

they glance at him for a second, go back to grazing.

He makes an effort to rear up,

tries to jump the fence separating him from them

though he’d been gelded ages ago.

Perhaps he’s forgotten.

He has an agenda.

Dirty old man, the barn manager calls him.

I remember how we used to ride through lush east coast forest,

sail through the air over fallen logs,

pass between trees with barely enough space for his torso and my legs,

eat mulberries from low-hanging branches,

avoid stinging nettle.

Once, we encountered a lone hiker with a monstrous backpack the color of algae–  

a fast lope brought to an abrupt stop,

a surprised hello,

her warning about a copperhead poking his head out of the creek. 

I look at his frail legs and am reminded of the year he foundered,

coffin bone twisted in the hoof,

padded high-heeled horseshoes,

special diet,

minimal exercise.

I remember the lightning complex fires,

his evacuation,

the helicopters,

the pregnant cow escaping the stall next to his.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll have him. 

Arthritis is rearing its own ugly head.

Still, he shows off a feisty side usually kept well-hidden.

Some have suggested I need to let him go,

the winter will be very hard,

loss is a part of life.

He looks up from his bucket of grain,

gazes at me with kind eyes.

A bit rusty but I’ve still got it in me, he says,

give me a second.

He presses his muzzle against my cheek, a kiss.

Old age is nothing, he reassures me

Other poems published in anthologies:

“When Your Heart No Longer Beats” was published in Wingless Dreamer’s Field of Black Roses anthology.

“Compassion” and “The Who That You Are,” were both published in the Las Positas College Journal of Arts and Literature, Havik anthology. Will post those shortly!

My collection of poems, “Remember This Day,” has been accepted for publication by Finishing Line Press.

Very excited about all of this wonderful news!

Best,

Linda

Torrent and the Tree Poem Published on Prompt for the Planet, Displayed at Dublin Public Library, and Featured in Viewless Wings Publisher Poetry Podcast

Check out the online publication of my poem, “The Torrent and the Tree,” in Amanda Gorman’s partnered project with Prompt for the Planet: https://promptfortheplanetarchive.omeka.net/items/show/120. It was also published by Viewless Wings Publisher: https://anchor.fm/viewlesswings/episodes/City-of-Dublin-Poetry-Walk-Read-by-the-Poets-Part-1-e1gee6f

This poem was also included in a Dublin Poetry Walk during the month of April 2022, displayed at the Dublin Public Library, and featured in Viewless Wings Publisher’s Poetry Podcast.

The Torrent and the Tree

Why does it struggle so?

Its branches tremble and shiver

against that which will inevitably

overcome it.

The biting rain flogs its leaves,

the raw wind mauls its branches.

The irate river, pulsing and rupturing the embankment,

whips up slumbering silt and loosens the hold of its roots.

Lawless rapids sweep around it triumphantly,

dragging the tree to a slow prostrate death.

Yet it resists

as if sheer will can repel the forces which

assault it.

A few extra minutes of life, worth the agony.

The tree twists and twines with a pluck it did not know it possessed,

its impaled soul refuses the sweet death that beckons.

It seems to know why it is there.

Its defiant arms are streaked with rugged lines

from splintering cracks,

its trunk scarred with raw nubs

where young branches fanning budding leaves

once grasped the sky.

As it sinks to the will of the aggressor,

the trembling forest bears witness,

comprehends

it is the tree which has overcome the torrential waters.

Its measure,

Now resting in long-overdue quietude,

gazes gratefully at Heaven

for not even Death can erase

those precious defiant moments

it spent on Earth.