Writers’ Showcase, Spring Edition: Lynn Braz

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Lynn Braz

Lynn Braz’s work has been published in Philadelphia and Cosmopolitan magazines, The Dallas Morning News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and USA Today. Lynn is an adjunct writing instructor at Lackawanna College and an M.A. Creative Writing candidate at Wilkes University. She is a flying trapeze artist and instructor whose book, Flying Free: Life Lessons Learned on the Flying Trapeze, details how an acrophobic middle-aged woman turned her fears into thrills through embracing a natural high. Lynn is a featured writer in the in the upcoming Writers’ Showcase: Spring Edition.

Lynn contributed a teaser to her essay, titled, “Kashmir.”

Kashmir

Imagine being a goddess. Don’t think about the adoration and the power. Try not to let the glamour of being the source of constant attention and fascination seduce you. Imagine what being a goddess is like in reality. The enervating pressure. The enormous responsibility. The stress of maintaining grace and dignity in speech and behavior, every day, all day, even when you’re hungry. Imagine having no friends, no peers, no one who doesn’t want something from you. Imagine the loneliness of being a goddess.

I was a goddess in Kashmir for exactly nine days.

It was January 2007, pre-iPhone, when travelers still went places for the experiences rather than to snap and post selfies. I’d been backpacking around the Indian Himalayas, mesmerized by the majestic snowy peaks, when I was overtaken by a powerful urge to ski. Never mind that I’m a terrible skier. I’d heard the Kashmiri ski village, Gulmarg, had some of the best powder on the planet and was the perfect resort in which to learn how to ski. Lift tickets cost five bucks. Private ski instruction was seven dollars a day. And due to recent terrorist activity, the lone luxury hotel was holding a fire sale. As a canny budget traveler, a bargain trumps everything, especially common sense.

My enthusiasm for a bargain did not fade even after receiving the ominous email from my ski guide: “Despite what you’ve heard, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists live together in harmony here. You will probably not die.”

Come hear the odyssey of an American Goddess in the center of the conflict in Kashmir at the The Writers’ Showcase. The Writers’ Showcase is an event that features readings of poetry and prose from Pennsylvania based writers. The Writers’ Showcase: Spring Edition will take place on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at the Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W Market St. Scranton, PA from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Admission is $4 at the door.

Love Bites: “That One Time” by Ali Pica

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Photo by Connor Wells on Unsplash

Today’s contributor for “The Obsequious Pen” is our own columnist and creator of Thirty-Third Wheel, Ali Pica. Her poem is titled, “That One Time.” She will be reading her works alongside other local writers at this Friday night’s “Love Bites: Writer’s Circle” reading at the Game Chateau in Wilkes, Barre, 7:30 p.m. and at the Writers’ Showcase, next Saturday at 7:00 p.m. This poem was inspired by the song “Two Blue Lights” from Songs: Ohia on his album Didn’t It Rain.

That One Time

I think of you
That one time
You held my hand—
For sentimental reasons
I rejected the possibility of stars
Being born
In this universe.

I saw you smile
That one time
Through the haze of your smoke
And self-deprecating humor
Intertwined in the binding
Of literary analysis,
You lit up a ring of laughter
Underneath the flood lights.

We joked
That one time
I thought you were into her and
I was invisible as an auditory hallucination,
Now,
When I listen to your voice,
I know you know I am real.

You listened
Every time,
That one time
I thought I loved you
And still do—
Don’t know what to do
That one time
I will have to.

Ali along with other local talented writers will be reading their love-scorned works at the “Love Bites, Writers Circle” reading, Friday, February 23, 7:30 p.m. at the Game Chateau, located 1112-PA 315 Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702. The cover is $5 at the door.

Want to be featured in our column? E-mail us: adawnpica.ttw@gmail.com

Don’t forget to check out our playlist! You can find it here and on Spotify: thirtythirdwheel

Writers’ Showcase, Spring Edition: Joe Weil

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Joe Weil

Joe Weil is a poet, musician, and activist, whose work has appeared in National Labor Forum, Boston Review, Saranac Review, On PBS, and Verse Daily among many other publications. Joe is a featured reader in the upcoming Writers’ Showcase: Spring Edition.

Joe’s featured poem is called, “A Litany of Questions.”

A Litany of Questions

Whose house are you?
How many days have you
rolled up the scroll of your being?
And if the hour should come,
come like a procession of
dignitaries, like a parade of
paupers, like something set
loose upon the grain fields at twilight,
what will you say to each room?
Will you say I was a house but
for whom I do not know?
Could you smell the scent of dirt
on the night’s cracked hands?
Was jasmine your concern?
Did the peepers singing in the wet marsh
receive you? How many years more
did you hear them? Were you
my house? Did I walk beyond
the lintel of your doorway, and sit in the near
dark, listening to the susurrus of
wind through your walls? And how did those
whispers accompany the first feint stars?
Was that a fox in the field or only the last
light scratching its back against the stones?

The Writers’ Showcase is an event that features readings of poetry and prose from Pennsylvania based writers. The Writers’ Showcase: Spring Edition will take place on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at the Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W Market St. Scranton, PA from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Admission is $4 at the door.

Answer

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Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Today’s song is “Answer” by Phantogram on their album, Three.

It is what we owe each other. Not what you or I are owed: we are owed nothing.

Or at least that’s the way it should be.

I used to be bullied all of the time as a kid: I was called names, had garbage thrown at me, and had been threatened from time to time. In my adult relationships, I was verbally, emotionally, and physically abused. I used to absorb the hatred and blame myself. Now, I vow to take in hate and produce love like a tree takes in Carbon Dioxide and produces Oxygen. I give air for people to breathe to the best of my ability.

Gestalt theory states our whole perception is greater than the sum of its parts. If we apply this concept to society, shouldn’t we be greater than just the sum of individuals? Then, what the hell is wrong with us as a society? Why do we treat each other the way we do? Why are we so selfish?

I used to think in terms of what I did or didn’t “deserve.” It’s not about me anymore or any of us, specifically. Our world is too fragile to distribute “just desserts” all of the time.

I had an intense discussion with my college students yesterday about the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Gun control aside, I asked them, as mental health advocates in training, what are we going to do to help prevent these tragedies? How do we identify those suffering and stop them before they cause destruction? How do we heal those who have survived? They discussed how they felt unsafe on our campus—a place I see so picturesquely serene and isolated from the world. I vowed to do something to protect it, to protect us, but I don’t know what it is yet.

It is each of our responsibilities to be a part of the solution. We need to stop focusing so much on ourselves to the point that we destroy the people we love or let them succumb to the evils of this world, like self-harm. We may feel as if we do not have control; however, we do. We can love the people we care about so much it hurts. We don’t have to love everyone, but we don’t have to hate either. Hate is a choice.

So, what are we going to do about it? We need an answer.

Always,

A. Dawn

Check out our playlist! You can find it here and on Spotify: thirtythirdwheel

15 Seconds of Art: Chris Hodges

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Drawing by Chris Hodges

Chris Hodges is a talented emerging NEPA based artist. He describes himself in the following:

Born in England I drew on and off for fun as a child. After being told I had a good eye for art I started to apply myself. I recently gained enough confidence to start displaying my work in public. I have been painting for about a year and drawing for several years. I enjoy trying new mediums and pushing myself out of my comfort zone artistically.
I will be showing at as many venues as I can get into locally this year and will be trying to get more exposure in the coming years.

You can find Chris Hodges’ work on our Instagram: thirtythirdwheel

Want to have your work featured in our column? Send us a message at: adawnpica.ttw@gmail.com, Instagram, or Facebook.

An Illustration of Loneliness

Photo by Christian Gertenbach on Unsplash

Today’s song is “An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)” by Courtney Barnett, from her album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.

It’s that time of year again, the Hallmark of b.s. holidays we fall for every time we see it, like a horrible ex, who was great in bed: Happy Valentine’s Day! We spend money on wilted flowers, sparkly mushy cards with professions of love that read like a word salad, lard churned drug-store Whitman’s Sampler chocolates, and overpriced-under portioned dinners at restaurants where we are sardined in a can, hoping to get something in return.

I may be a little jaded, but I would rather take it all back. I would rather drink with my friends on Galentine’s Day. Or any day, really.

Consequently, Valentine’s Day has a way of nagging away my painfully single human existence, just a little bit. It’s only painful if I cared. Then, I reminisced lately about the past as if it were something great, someone great. The thoughts would ebb and flow as I zoned out to whatever I have been binge watching all week.

I recollected my past relationships and romantic encounters as if I were trying to remember what to buy at the grocery store.

I got a text last night, which read, “I was thinking of you and just wanted to say hey.”

“I’m thinkin’ of you too…”

I didn’t actually text that in response. I said something like, “same here” as to be slightly vague and sarcastic. He knew what I meant. We both stay in touch randomly, which I suspect is to ease his singledom. It doesn’t matter to me.

His random text made me think about how a few years ago I had a different life. I would have dates booked back-to-back on weekends, and went to upscale restaurants, roof-top bars, and concerts. I was always surrounded by people, but somehow felt even more lonely? Did I not appreciate it?

As I shift back to the present, I think I would rather bury myself in my hoodie and watch Rick and Morty than deal with the constant search, the mind-numbing dry-wall conversations, the awkward good-byes. Rinse and repeat.

But what’s the point of the mundane every day? I make it sound as if I am as lonely as a microwavable dinner, but I am lucky for what I have. It’s not all bad. I enjoy loving myself and others in my life, even if it’s not the romantic love of partner. I love my spending time with my family. I love having close gatherings with friends. I can talk to anyone if I feel like it or choose to simply be. I love making people happy even if it’s just cracking a joke to make my students laugh, because they had a bad day or listening to a stranger’s problems, because I “seem like I am a good listener and won’t judge. ”

No matter how alone we feel at times, we must remind ourselves of how we fit into the universe and that there are people in that universe, too. Our actions can have a ripple effect on others, good or bad. True happiness comes with self-acceptance in numerous ways. I accept that although I will be single on Valentine’s Day, I am not alone. You are not alone either. And sometimes if you are physically alone, it can be a good thing. Take some time for yourself and enjoy your place. Remember: “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.” It may not be a life-changing quote, but it can get us from the present to the future. It may not be a great place where we are, but remember, there is a possibility it can change for the better, tomorrow.

Truly yours,

A. Dawn

Check out our playlist! You can find it here and on Spotify: thirtythirdwheel

The Obsequious Pen: Monica Noelle Simon

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Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Today’s featured contributor is local writer, artist, and activist, Monica Noelle Simon. Monica wrote the following about herself and her work:  

Monica Noelle Simon is a poet and visual artist residing in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She explores the world through written word, spoken word poetry, acrylic paint and ink and paper sketches. In 2014, she created #BeKindScranton, a grassroots campaign to bring more compassion and kindness to Northeastern Pennsylvania. Her writing has been published on Elite Daily, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Burningwood Literary Journal, Commonline Journal, Poets of NEPA, and HelloGiggles. Her work can be found at: http://www.poetrybymnoelle.tumblr.com.

 

Here is her poetry:

 

Alligators

Alligators are no joke
They will jump out of the swamp
While a horse peacefully drinks water
And take his whole life under
It seems the horses are just naïve
Almost blind to it
And I guess in the end
The alligator isn’t hungry anymore
But ask me any day of the week
And I’d still rather be the horse

 

Storms

all you need to be a scientist is yourself
and maybe a theory
and maybe a way to test it
to be clear: i never asked for the storm
but i wanted to learn
to test its power, its strength
match it up against my own
so while they all hid in basements,
shouting their warnings from tiny windows
begging me to come inside
i sat still and watched,
a lonely endeavor,
stubbornness masked by science
i am here to learn
maybe it would’ve been better if he reverted back to sea
or if i’d just let the rain suffocate the side of the house
while i sat inside, warm, drinking tea
instead i became the continent
with bustling cities, intricate contidictions,
and i wanted to prove that even after he came,
i would still be standing, and i was,
with a heart collapsed, brain shaken up
inability to tell right from wrong
maybe i never asked for the storm,
but why did i have to wave it on from the shoreline?
and afterwards the people, all dry and warm,
came out from their houses,
all arms with hoarded hugs,
surprised i’d survived it, unsurprised i wasn’t the same
helped me clean up, even among their resentment
i just had to experiment, i just had to observe
a scientist curious about things bigger than myself
always explaining, excusing,
“hey, i never asked for his storm”
and as we wander among the rubble
shattered glass, leveled towns
the question remains…
did i learn?

 

Unsettlement

the unsettlement
… of reading tragic poems laced with love and ugly, the likehood of Ginsberg, Plath, Bukowski, Kerouac. All destined for death, as everyone else. All martyrs and depressants, gasoline added to hearts already on fire–

the unsettlement
… of an apartment much to quiet, air rationed and used up with panic demanding more attention than a lightening storm in February, with ghosts packed in, all faces of people I recognize but don’t know–

the unsettlement
… of the stark difference between the narrative and the reality of burning buildings, flood waters leaking pain and poison all over the goddamned place–

the unsettlement
… of waking up when you’d forgotten, forgotten all of where you’ve been, wondering if you were ever even there. men with theories on philosophy, political climates colder than poles, tricks and treats and trollies, rolling away like runaway cars–

the unsettlement
… of questions never asked, answers flashing like a lighthouse after you’ve already crashed into the shore. summer with it’s long days of playfulness, my atoms bouncing in the heat, I swear I’ve forgotten how to properly breathe. him a problem I’ve grown to love, as if being lulled to sleep by the sound of termites using their teeth, expensive repairs budding from senseless hesitation–

the unsettlement
… of cars and paint and floors speckled with the residue of tears with no label– why was I crying? of murder and suicide, the destination of death and the value of the visit. itineraries and lectures, cookies tasting of magic, secret dances on the beach throwing stones into the waves, proving anything can sink if it’s heavy enough–

the unsettlement
… of what comes next. timelines dissected with joy, happiness, and raw red pain. a blank canvas, we all just wait for life to throw paint. we all just hope it turns out pretty.

 

Monica Noelle will be reading her works alongside other powerful female writers, performers, and musicians at Grrrls Night:  The Galentine’s Edition, this Friday, 2-16-18, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Ale Mary’s, located 126 Franklin Ave. Scranton, PA 18503. There is no cover charge, but a suggested donation to the NEPA Youth Shelter