The Obsequious Pen: Tara Lynn Marta

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Tara Lynn Marta

Tara Lynn Marta is a local NEPA writer who has read her works locally, including the Writers’ Showcase. Tara Lynn writes about herself in the following:

Tara Lynn Marta is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been published by Aaduna, Inc., The Humor Times, PoertySoup, The Gorge, and Heartaches to Healing. Tara is a graduate of Wilkes University where she earned an M.A. in Creative Writing. 

Tara Lynn Marta’s short story is titled, “The Diary.”

Inside the red Oldsmobile Cutlass was a secret hidden beneath the layers of clothes that were strewn over the backseat – a secret that Rebecca and Charlene inadvertently learned after agreeing to clean out their grandmother’s house. Grandma Jean had been dead nearly a month and the girls decided to relieve their grief-stricken mother from the task of having to clear away all of Jean’s personal belongings.

Rebecca rummaged through closets and dresser drawers, while Charlene battled cobwebs in the basement. Then it was on to the attic where both girls needed flashlights to light the way through the dusty upper level. Boxes were scattered across the attic floor, some piled one on top of the other. The girls patiently emptied the contents of each box and sifted through their grandmother’s things.

“Can you believe she kept all this junk,” Charlene said, amusingly.

“It obviously meant something to her,” Rebecca shot back.

Charlene reached into a large cedar chest and pulled out a metal box marked “personal.” She couldn’t resist opening it now that her grandmother was no longer around to stop the intrusion. “Wonder what’s inside?” she said, as she used a small screwdriver to pry open the locked box.

Inside was an embroidered brown leather diary with a tie wrapped around it. “Grandma kept a diary?”

“Don’t read it, Charlene. It’s private.”

“Grandma’s dead, Becky. She had to expect someone would read it after she died or else she would have gotten rid of it.”

Charlene untied the diary and sat on the floor leafing through her grandmother’s private thoughts. There were entries about birthdays and anniversaries, and notes about her children and grandchildren. But there was one entry Charlene did not expect to stumble upon. Charlene read with fervor before letting out a gasp.

“What?” Rebecca yelled.

Charlene read her grandmother’s words aloud:

Monday, March 1, 1947

“The baby is due in seven months. Joe has been good about the whole ordeal. Oh, I do care for him. But I have much guilt that he has agreed to raise a child that isn’t his. Joe always was a dear friend. He didn’t judge me the way others would if they knew the truth. He wanted to marry me in a hurry after I confided in him that I was pregnant. I know he will be good to this child and love it as his own. And the baby must never learn that Joe isn’t her father.”

Silence enveloped as both girls remained in dismay. “Grandpa wasn’t Mom’s real father! We have to tell Mom,” Charlene announced.

“We certainly do not. It’s not our business, Char. Let it lie.”

“She deserves to know, Becky.”

With that Rebecca charged at Charlene, grabbing the diary and heading for her car. She threw the tattered book on the backseat, then piled clothes on top of it.

“We’re not telling Mom,” Rebecca said. “Nothing good will come of it after all this time. Nothing good at all.”

Just then, Charlene’s phone rang. “Hi, Mom,” she answered, giving Rebecca a sudden look of angst.

“How’s the packing going?” her mother said on the other end.

“It’s going,” Charlene replied. “Mom, there’s something I want to talk to you about.”

Rebecca waved her hands in the air, cautioning her sister not to reveal their grandmother’s secret.

“It’s like this, Mom,” Charlene continued before being interrupted by her mother.

“Oh, sweetie, guess what I found in my jewelry box? The locket that Grandpa Joe gave me for my fifth birthday. Oh, how it takes me back. So many wonderful memories. He was the kindest father any girl could have asked for.”

Charlene removed the phone away from her ear and closed her eyes. Her mother’s words echoed in her mind. Her grandfather had been good to her mother and always regarded her as his daughter, not with words, but love.

“What is it you wanted to say, honey?” asked her mother.

Charlene brought the phone back to her ear. “It’s not important.”

And it wasn’t. Charlene realized that it wasn’t the blood running through one’s veins that brought people together. It was the love between them.

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.