Monday, March 31, 2014

Words that Evoke Blushing

Today I happened to come across a nostalgic article by author Kelly Corrigan, "Apparently, My Mom Was Once a Girl." Her story of the day that she discovered the girl her mother had once been, via old letters between her father and her mother, reminded me so much of a poem I wrote years ago, when I was in my 20's and made a similar discovery about my mom. Here's the poem:

by Susan L. Lipson

Mom? Blushing?!
"Bobbi!" (He calls her "Bobbi"?!)
Then this apparently familiar stranger
Who obviously wishes to hug her,
But doesn’t—
Probably notices me,
Notices our resemblance
Ogles her and sighs,
“You look just as gorgeous,
as you did…what is it now…25 years ago. Wow." 
That was before I even knew her,
before Dad even knew her--
Dad, who never calls her "gorgeous."
Now she's giggling. Really? Mom?!

"Remember when...,"
he reminds her,
and she beams,
And this "Al" smiles at her appreciatively--
up and down--
and she lowers her eyes demurely,
but almost smirking. Mom?!

But who IS he--rather, WAS he--to her,
this giddy, blushing "Bobbi" girl,
a.k.a. Mom
a.k.a. Barbara,
a.k.a. Dad's wife?

She's laughing now.
Flirting? Nah.
Smirking again. Mom!
She's red,
and I'm green,
in every sense of the word.


Do you remember when you first "saw" your parent as her/his former, single self, the object of someone's romantic desire, someone other than your other parent? Remember that day in words and write your own memoir or poem to capture that life-altering moment. 

Monday, March 17, 2014



"Wow! I never would've thought of that!" he gasped, his eyes aglow.


"Wow. I never would've thought of that," he sighed, the light in his eyes dimming.

So similar are these experiences, and so dependent on how we look at them.

Through what kind of eyes--glowing or dimming--do you see your realizations, whether they are enlightening or disillusioning? Our perspective determines whether we will grow from realizations, or become paralyzed by them.

Both enlightenment and disillusionment catalyze change, and the positivity or negativity of the changes depends entirely upon our reactions.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Whimsical Thoughts Hatch a Poem

          I stepped outside my front door to relish the sunlight glowing on the winged reader statue who sits in my garden. As I poised my camera to take a photo of her, I moved closer, quietly, and then asked myself, "Wait--why am I creeping up on her as if I'm taking a picture of some wild creature? It's not like she's going to move!" After snorting at my own silliness, I suddenly imagined that the book in the statue's hands was my own novel, now in submission to agents. What if this reader were my Muse, pondering my pages--pages she had inspired? What if she were making a routine landing to check up on my progress, and then she would leave the book on the pedestal, to allow me to etch more words for her next visit? Or maybe she'd fly off with my pages, to inspire a reader (maybe an agent or a publisher) by carrying my words into their hearts and minds. Suddenly, I thought of this poem, and then ran back inside to write it: 

To the Muse in My Garden
by S. L. Lipson

Soften your heart, my Muse;
Look up from the words I've laid in your lap,
Smile, nod, gather my pages to your heart,
Then leap up and fly away with my treasure,
To land in the garden of another dreamer,
Waiting to be moved, too.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Write Songs, Too--My Most Memorable Words of All

Okay, I've always felt funny calling myself a songwriter since my songs have never been published, except for two, "If Everyone Lived Like the Tree," which appeared as a poem in my second book, Writing Success Through Poetry, without any sheet music or link to a recording. The other song appears in my ebook, The Secret in the Wood, as sheet music for kid readers to play, to enhance the reader's experience of sharing the protagonist's emotions. I've performed "If Everyone Lived Like the Tree" at various assemblies, and have posted a recent video of such a performance on my Facebook Author Page. My daughter Lainey, a singer and actress, recorded the song from my book, "Dance of the Trees," with an accompanist on piano (Chase Pado), and it appears on my website as an audio file. But other than those songs, the only ones I've shared publicly have been within my religious community--spiritual songs, mainly--and tribute ballads at funerals. See why I've hesitated to call myself a songwriter?

Anyway, I've decided to start recording and adding my songs to my previously private Soundcloud page--even if they're mostly a cappella, rough versions--to force myself to take more seriously this gift that I've been given. I don't mean to sound arrogant when I say "gift"; on the contrary, I mean to sound humble, since the way my songs come to me is not something I consciously work at or even feel I can take credit for, as it really feels as though I'm channeling them from some distant muse. To clarify, I'm not calling myself a psychic, but my songwriting process is this: I'm hit by a tsunami of emotion, either painful or joyful or insightful, and suddenly I hear music playing in my head, and I jot down words as they flow out of my mouth along with the tune I'm hearing. Many of my songs have flown along with tears, rolling out of me as they drip onto the page, in many cases. Others have flown from me while traveling, either by car, train, or plane--there's something about traveling that sparks songwriting for me, along with grateful feelings and/or epiphanies about my small part in the vastness of this world. And some songs have grown out of pondering the emotions of others, via books I've read or movies I've seen, or even other songs that have moved me profoundly. Some I've adapted to fit my current novels-in-progress, hoping to use them to enhance my marketing efforts once those books are published.

I'd like to say that all of my writing comes to me as my songs do, but that's not true. I'm consciously thinking about these words, for instance, as I write them. I ponder, write, backspace, delete, add--just as I do when writing fiction. Even my poems don't always flow magically, but require reworking as I go. But my songs, they come from some other place in my creative spirit. I am now taking the risk of inviting you, my readers, into that place, by sharing some of my rough, mostly unaccompanied, vocal recordings. I have dozens of songs not yet uploaded to Soundcloud, still jotted on papers in my files and on cassette tapes, from years ago, and I will continue to add them to my Soundcloud page, because, well, it's time.

If you like my songs, you can leave comments here or on the Soundcloud page, and maybe your words will inspire me to get some of these professionally recorded. By the way, it costs you nothing to join Soundcloud, and it will open your ears to many new, undiscovered musicians. While you're on my page, check out my son's songs posted there, by Ian Lipson and/or Wistappear, his band.)

I will exhale loudly as I hit "Publish" for this post and declare myself a songwriter, even if only an amateur one.