Submission: Tribute to “The House at Pooh Corner”

Winnie the Pooh and all his friends are copyrighted by Christopher Robin, A.A. Milne, and Walt Disney–who have kindly shared them with generations of people. Thank you!]

-Chapter 12-

In Which Pooh Waits

Pooh Bear was sure a lot of time had gone by, because he had had a lot of wishes. They had the odd habit of drifting away from him, getting replaced by other ones, and coming back like red balloons blown by the wind. Pooh could not keep them organized as friend Rabbit could organize his garden, but he did know what most of them were about, more or less. A great many involved honey, and those made his stomach all rumbly.

A great many more wishes involved Pooh’s best friend, Christopher Robin, who often went off to do something other than nothing—and to learn about things like Kings and Queens and Electricity. Christopher Robin would go to a place called school and disappear for wishes upon wishes.

But Christopher Robin always came back.

He had always come back, and on those afternoons the boy and bear would play in the Hundred Acre Woods atop a knoll called Galleons Lap. From up there it was possible to see the vast spread of forest all the way past what either one could see. They would sit on the green grass in the shade of a large tree, have fun doing nothing, share honey, and simply be together.

When the moment came for them to part again, Christopher Robin would always say, “Pooh, promise me you’ll come up here sometimes, so I can find you when I return?”

“I promise, Christopher,” Pooh would always answer. “I’ll wait here forever and ever.”

“Oh, Pooh,” Christopher Robin might then add.

So Pooh would come up to Galleons Lap sometimes, and Christopher Robin would come sometimes. Even though the amount of wishes between their times together kept growing.

At first, that did not worry Pooh. The passing seasons brought little to no changes for Pooh and his other friends. They went about their daily lives as they always had, untouched by the world beyond the Hundred Acre Woods. That meant Pooh was all right with waiting just a few more wishes for Christopher Robin to come each time. But after a while, Pooh noticed a season or two would pass between one visit by Christopher Robin and the next. And when that happened, Pooh began to wait at Galleons Lap almost every afternoon, in case Christopher Robin came on an afternoon Pooh might not have been there. He thought that was a clever plan for a bear of very little brain.

Finally, a point came when Pooh did not see Christopher Robin for seasons upon seasons, and wishes upon wishes. Yet he still came to wait at Galleons Lap every afternoon.

On occasion, Pooh’s good friend Piglet would join him, bringing along a picnic basket filled with haycorns and honey. Other friends from around the Hundred Acre Woods did as well. Tigger liked to bounce about the knoll with Kanga and Roo, Rabbit enjoyed discussing his latest vegetable harvest (usually accompanied by various relations), Owl perched in the tree to tell long stories about his family, and even Eeyore made appearances (to grumble about things like his worn knees). Those were wonderful times, but they were never the same as those Pooh shared with Christopher Robin.
Now Pooh sat alone atop Galleons Lap, hopeful this would be the afternoon Christopher Robin returned. A heavy mist crept in across the Hundred Acre Woods, hiding everything until Pooh could barely see the large tree under which he and Christopher Robin used to sit together so often. The large tree had lost its leaves, sprouted others, and then lost them again. The leaves had done this over and over again, in a similar way to the wishes Pooh had tried to count.

Perhaps wishes and tree leaves were the same things. Pooh considered it for a while, tapping one paw against his head, as if he were in his thoughtful spot elsewhere in the woods. “Think, think, think,” Pooh said. But even then he could not figure out if wishes and tree leaves were the same or not (though it could have been because he was in a place other than his thoughtful spot). Finally, Pooh decided to ask Christopher Robin about it the next time he came.  To pass the time, and perhaps hold onto his thoughts about wishes and tree leaves, Pooh made up a poem:

“Wishes and leaves come and go,

Come and go,

To where they go,

Where they go,

I want to know,

Want to know,

When they return are they the  same,

They the same,

As when they went away?

They went away….

Pooh paused here because the poem stirred a peculiar feeling deep in his stuffing. It was warm and tingly like love but reminded him of empty honeypots instead. The leaves dropping from the tree had the same effect on him, as did the wishes. He did not know what the peculiar feeling was, but somehow he began to worry Christopher Robin might have forgotten where Galleons Lap was, or even how to get to the Hundred Acre Woods.

When Pooh thought of what would happen if Christopher Robin had lost his way, the feeling like love got worse. He did not know what to call it and hoped Christopher Robin could explain it.

“But . . . what if Christopher Robin gets so lost he cannot come back and explain it at all?” Pooh shuddered. “And if Christopher Robin is not here—” He trailed off, hugging his empty honeypot and aching terribly from the feeling like love. “Oh, bother, I think I understand what it’s like to be a tree with no leaves.”

“Silly Old Bear, don’t you remember that you’re braver than you believe,” Pooh heard someone say, “and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think?” He turned in the direction of the words and noticed a dark figure coming through the mist. A blustery wind blew all of a sudden, even though it was not a Wednesday, and someone Pooh knew very well appeared. At least, Pooh believed he knew him well.

“Christopher Robin?” Pooh asked. Christopher Robin wore a brown suit and a tie, which he had never worn on his previous visits. Then Pooh noticed Christopher Robin also had hair on his chin and was much taller. Those changes were even odder than the clothes. But finally Christopher Robin knelt down, Pooh glimpsed the brightness of his wide blue eyes, and he became familiar again.

“Christopher Robin!” Pooh said, rushing over to his best friend.

“Hi, Pooh Bear.” With one arm, Christopher Robin scooped up Pooh into a warm hug. “I’m sorry it’s been such a long time. I was almost thought I could never . . . You really would wait forever and ever for me, wouldn’t you?” His face was moist, and as they held each other the peculiar feeling like love began to make sense to Pooh.

Ah, Pooh thought, the feeling like love had been love, just love which missed a friend. It was love strong enough to hold onto a friend even when he went far away. Then he heard an odd burbling sound.

There, cradled in Christopher Robin’s other arm, was a small happy face looking at Pooh from within the bundled folds of a blanket. The small happy face belonged to a baby with bright blue eyes.

“Christopher Robin, who are you holding?” Pooh asked. “Is he a new friend for me to meet?”

“Yes, she is, Pooh,” Christopher Robin said. “She’s a very new friend for you to meet.”

“Oh. What’s her name?”

“Claire, and she keeps me busy.”

“I like that name, but—” For a moment, Pooh trembled like Piglet. “Does this mean I’ll need to wait longer for you come back next time?”

“No, Pooh. You’re done waiting,” Christopher Robin assured him. “You’re coming with me, and we’ll be together from now on, as we always have been in our hearts. I do have to ask you a big favor, though. A favor as grand as the Hundred Acre Woods.”

“What’s that?”

“Would you promise to be a best friend to Claire?” Christopher Robin gave Pooh a warm smile. “Forever and ever?”

“I promise, Christopher,” Pooh said. “I’ll be her best friend forever and ever too.”

“Oh, Pooh,” Christopher Robin replied with a happy sigh, carrying both Pooh and the baby Claire away with him. Even as they departed the mist continued to clear, revealing the tree atop Galleons Lap.

It had fresh green leaves.

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Submission: Menace in the Garden

Brown snails had invaded her garden. Gloria Verdant found traces of them everywhere she hobbled—in nibbled leaves, slimy stems, and ravished blooms. The sight was enough to bring tears to her eyes, as was the prospect of having to deal with such pests at her age. Few things in the world mattered more to Gloria than her garden, which over the course of forty years had grown from a simple plot into a backyard-wide expanse of worldly beauty, occupied by flowers from all across the countryside. Thriving where many other things and people in her life had dwindled, she felt more than a little protective of it. So despite the aches in her hips and back, she went to bed that night prepared to do whatever was necessary to protect her garden from this menace.

Then the dragon came over the garden wall.

At first Gloria thought he was some type of large green snake. She froze on the wicker chair on the back porch, a cup of chamomile tea raised to her lips. For the first morning in a while, the weather had been nice enough for her to be outside with just a shawl about her bony shoulders. That shawl slid off as Gloria watched the seeming snake start down the wall, sprout legs with crawled feet, and then land with a faint plop onto the grassy below—right between two rose bushes. The creature had orange gecko-like eyes with narrow pupils that gave him an unfocused and slightly goofy appearance. Actually, the possibility he was an enormous gecko did cross her mind for a moment. But she quickly dismissed the idea. Geckos couldn’t grow over two feet tall. At least, she didn’t think they could.

The strange creature sniffed around the grass, his long tail gently swaying from side to side, and then lifted his snout right towards one of her rose bushes. Two little wings opened like blossoms on his back, and the creature opened his mouth to expose rows of sharp teeth, and from between them Gloria glimpsed something greenish and flickering.

The potential threat aimed at her roses, rather than very notion of a fantastical beast in the garden, was what brought Gloria to her senses. “Dragon,” she managed to croak out, “you stay away from my roses, or you’ll be sorry!” Had she been twenty years younger, Gloria would have leapt from her chair and charged at the dragon right then and there. As matters stood, though, she instead creaked to her feet and flung the only thing she could think of—the cup of chamomile tea. It sailed through the air and crashed on the grass feet away from the dragon, but the sound of it breaking and her shout were enough to stop the assault. The dragon turned to look at her, cocked his head to one side, snorted, and then sauntered off towards her tulips.

As quickly as possible, Gloria hobbled into the house, making for the closest near the kitchen in which she kept all her gardening supplies. Her mind was in a whirl. As if brown snails eating up her garden wasn’t bad enough, an actual dragon had now come to incinerate it. The problem was that no gardening guide she had ever read, and certainly none of her fellow gardeners in the nearest town, had ever mentioned what to do in case a dragon invaded a garden. Peering into her closet, Gloria found the tools of her threatened hobby arranged neatly as usual. They were perfect for planting all kinds of flowers and tending to them. Now they would somehow have to help her to fend off dragons.

So Gloria pulled on her gardening gloves, thick and sturdy. She donned an apron and stuffed spray bottles of pesticide in its pockets. She slipped her feet into her soil-leaden boots, grabbed a hoe, and took a moment to regard herself in the mirror on the hallway wall opposite.

She wasn’t exactly a knight errant by any standards. Unfortunately, she had no other choice. So Gloria took a deep breath and marched back outside, down into her garden where the dragon appeared to be in the process of nibbling at the tallest and most colorful of her tulips.

“Dragon,” Gloria called again, hobbling down the back porch steps. “You had better leave my tulips alone, and my whole garden for that matter, or you’ll have to answer to me.”

The dragon once again paused, turned, and looked at her. Once again his head cocked to one side, and then he sauntered towards her right over the petunias—which bounced back surprisingly well. Before he was more than a foot away, though, Gloria had pointed her hoe at him. Perhaps, she thought, it would be possible to gradually drive him over the wall and away from her garden that way.

However, the dragon seemed undeterred by the potential weapon. He just sat there and blinked.

“You’ve given me no choice then,” Gloria said. She would have begun prodding the dragon with her hoe next, but rather than sit there and take it, the dragon jumped. With a little flap of his wings, he came down on the end, forcing the hoe into the soil. “Goodness gracious!” Gloria cried out, as the force tugged the hoe right out of her hands. Then the dragon headed off toward the marigolds.

In that moment, Gloria realized something important. The hoe had been her most dangerous gardening weapon to use against the dragon. But all the dragon had needed to do was basically knock it aside without any problem. Out of sheer desperation, Gloria hobbled after at the dragon, reaching out to grab the beast.

One of its pupils swiveled back to look at her, and just as Gloria reached down the dragon ducked out of the way. She tried again with the same results. “Hey, get back here—you!” Each time Gloria reached out the dragon avoided her. The unfortunate part was that Gloria was running out of steam at a much faster rate than the dragon, who actually seemed to start enjoying this little dodging game.

That was when her foot slipped. Something gave and Gloria crashed down among her daffodils. They cushioned her fall but couldn’t soothe away her shame, especially as the dragon slipped away yet again. Gloria lay there, sighing, when she noticed a brown snail on one of the daffodils not far from her head.

Well, there was another pest that would have a feast at her expense.

Tears stung her eyes then. How could Gloria call herself a gardener if she couldn’t even defend her garden against invaders? Maybe she was just too old. Perhaps she would have to give everything up, and watch all her hard work fall to pieces. She choked back a sob.

The dragon paused, for he had also noticed the snail. He sauntered over wings and mouth opening, just as he had done before her roses and tulips. Gloria noticed something green and flickering stir at the far back in the dragon’s mouth, and braced herself for whatever would come next.

A slimy green tongue shot out of the dragon’s mouth, much like a frog’s, and pulled in the brown snail. The daffodil swayed gently in the aftermath.

Meanwhile, Gloria watched, gasping, as odd little slurping sounds came from within the dragon’s mouth. Then he turned to her and spat out an empty snail shell onto the soil inches away.

“You—you’re—” Gloria fumbled for the right words, watching in astonishment as the dragon turned and did the same for another bunch of flowers. “You’re not interested in my flowers, are you?” Her words sounded as if they came from another person altogether. “You’re interested in the brown snails.” She sat up with some effort, as the dragon went about his business quite happily. “Thank you, Dragon,” Gloria said, tears trickling down her cheeks.

The words of gratitude made an apparent impact on the dragon, who now turned his attention to her. The tip of his tail wagged back and forth in rapid succession, harmlessly fanning the rosebushes. His mouth opened in what she could only assume was pleasure, although his breath smelled horrible.

After a long moment, the dragon sauntered over to the hoe, picked it up in his mouth, and came to drop it before Gloria like a large bone. “Thank you,” Gloria laughed, “you silly little garden dragon.”

The dragon chirped like a blue bird.

With much care and trembling fingers, Gloria reached out toward the dragon again, who didn’t budge as she laid her hand on his scaly head and scratched it tenderly. The dragon only chirped again. He came closer and nuzzled her wrinkled cheek. “You can stay as long as you want,” Gloria said.

And the dragon did.

Submission: Cat of the Meadows

“Sometimes the biggest surprises really are in the smallest of packages.” ~Anonymous

[This is a true story told to me by a neighbor my family used to have, who had a deep-rooted love of animals, particularly her cats. I would like to dedicate it to her, wherever she is now.]

The coyote must have felt lucky when he spotted his prey on that summer morning. As a kind of general rule, outdoor cats in the countryside led turbulent and unpredictable lives. Many people in the local community shared the belief that cats who went missing for extended periods had become easy meals for any number of predatory hazards, from sidewinder snakes in the brush to hawks from the skies. But coyotes such as himself were their most common threats and adversaries.

Now here was a gingery, striped tomcat roaming about in clear view, without a seeming care in the world, through the golden meadow grasses on the broad hillside slope, right across the dirt road from where the coyote had his den. He was on the chubby side and waddled a bit as he moved; the woman who lived in the house farther up the slope obviously fed him well. The coyote had nothing against her. She liked to put out bowls of meat and fish bits for the cat to enjoy, and occasionally the coyote would sneak over and steal from them. If he took the cat, those bowls would probably disappear, but the thrill of the hunt had taken him over.

So the coyote crossed the dirt road, creeping among the high grass with his body lowered and tail perfectly rigid. His dusty fur helped him to blend in with the surroundings, and he was careful to stay upwind of his quarry. Even the slightest breeze when he was in the wrong position could betray him, or the smallest sounds.

But the cat simply batted at some grass with a paw, completely serene.

The coyote took this opportunity to begin his pursuit, striding forward with the grace known only to hunters. He closed the distance between them in a matter of seconds, and the cat twisted around to face him.

Usually there was a moment of shocked recognition at his approach, right before his prey registered the impending danger and tried to flee.

The cat did not flee.

Instead, the coyote heard a sudden wobbly, hissing noise like a sprinkler system turning on full blast, mixed with a rattlesnake quivering his tail in sudden warning. It took him a moment to realize the sound came from the small creature before him, whose calm expression had altered with a crazed look in the eyes that drew the coyote up short.

The coyote was a relatively young male, full-grown but still gaining the type of experience only possible from years in the field. Until now his charge attack had terrified almost everything one-third his size—except snakes, of course—which had given him confidence. He had never encountered absolute disdain for it, especially from a cat.

Cats were supposed to run from coyotes. This one didn’t.

And then the cat underwent a rapid transformation. Uttering crackly growls, sharp teeth bared, all his orange fluff stood out like porcupine spikes on his body. In this way he seemed to expand to several times his original size, eyes burning and claws out. His growls turned into a rising manic screech.

Suddenly regretful about the whole undertaking, the coyote might have backed down on his own, except he never got the chance. A second more and the cat had launched himself at the predator, claws swiping at the coyote’s snout, causing him to yelp, twist about, and beat a panicked retreat—pursued by his spitting aggressor. The cat chased the coyote in circles through the meadow grass, up and down the slope, swiping at his sides and roaring fit to make a tiger proud, until finally the coyote regained enough orientation in the heat of the chase to make it across the dirt road and into his den.

The coyote must have felt lucky when the cat stopped his pursuit on the other side of the road, although the victorious feline continued to cry out in rage for several minutes longer before he returned to his usual prowls.

After his encounter, the coyote never chased after the orange tabby cat again. He kept his distance from the hillside altogether and would hasten his steps when traveling pass the property. Out of continued fear, perhaps, or possibly even respect.

As a matter of fact, the woman, who happened to witness the entire encounter out her kitchen window, soon came to realize that all the coyotes in the area gave her home a wide berth. Whenever one of her other cats (she had two or three who tended to stay indoors) happened to slip outdoors for a frolic, they always came back safe and sound, watched over by her little tiger in the grass.

Submission: Unexpected Music

Sitting in a Study Room
Listening to two students sing
Who are unaware I can hear them

These women with rock-star aspirations
I believe they are trying a karaoke machine
In their small white box with paper-thin walls

What would they think if they knew I had overheard
The way each one broke into laughter after a few words
And commented how terrible they were indeed
Or if they had heard me applaud their efforts

So I will just admire them from afar
Unknown performers to an unknown audience

Submission: A Gentleman of Birds

This past week l met a gentleman

Who carried the songs of birds

Around inside his jean pocket

To take out whenever he spotted

A person in need of a little cheer

“The birds are singing for you,”

The gentleman would proclaim

“They are the happiness birds”

 

Everytime l remember his words

They have a distinct sweet rhythm

At which l always have to smile

 

Maybe l will meet him again

Someday…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writerly Tips: Ekphrasis

Ekphrasis poetry, which includes poems that translate images or similar media into words, is a nice tool to include in your repertoire of writing techniques. I learned about this type of poetry during a translation class in grad school, and it acts as another way to approach constructing poetry, which, after all, can broach a countless number of subjects.

For instance, we got asked to look at Kiki Smith’s sketched picture of “Ideas Are Often Stubborn As Shy Animals” from which to create an ekphrasis poem (and I would recommend that you google it, because it looks really nice); and I came up with this poem:

Kiki Smith

Against a wrinkled white canvas

Four figures stand in firm silence

A menagerie of heights and ages

All with faces that call for attention

Each different yet somehow the same

Vegetables struck with toothpicks hang

From white strings before them

One for every unknown person there

None acknowledges these odd offerings

They stare straight ahead at the viewer

With only the name of “Kiki Smith” known

Yet to whom that name might belong

Or whether it signifies them as a group

Is up for the individual to translate.

 

 

 

 

Creative Submission: It Must be Doctor Who

A while ago , I posted a creative piece in tribute to the Doctor Who series on my DeviantArt account (which I’ve since lost the password for, but really need to get back into again).  So I’ve decided to post it here. I hope you enjoy it!

When a man appears upon your avenue
Traveling in a police box of deep blue
To combat an alien menace that is true
You know this visitor has to be Doctor Who

The man who wears neckties just for the fun
He who carries a screwdriver instead of a gun
Who “lives in the past” if you’ll excuse the pun
And who can advance to when it had all begun

If such a person should ask you to come
Along for the ride where you can become
The Doctor’s assistant far from your home
Just take the chance and enjoy his welcome

Then you’ll travel through time and space
To locations familiar and a few like no place
You could imagine as part of the human race
Oh what an expression should be on your face!

For there is no other man who
Can live exactly like Doctor Who.

 

[Note]: I first wrote the above piece with Matt Smith in mind. However, here’s an interesting piece of news: In an exciting twist in Doctor Who history,  Jodie Whittaker will take over for Peter Capaldi as the newest (and the first woman to play) the Doctor (Yay!).

A Call for Submissions to Literary Serenity: The Grad Edition

Hello, CSUSM students and faculty!

Literary Serenity: The Grad Edition welcomes submissions from any writers or artists who would like to share their work. Here is your chance to showcase pieces online for potential employers to see, build your working portfolio and/or resume, and get encouragement or advice from peers. While this site has only been recently launched and is a non-paying publication, you can get free publicity and share your ideas.

Submissions from CSUSM grad students and faculty members in the Literature & Writing Studies department are especially welcome!

General Guidelines:

-Please keep in mind that visitors to this site might range widely in their ages and backgrounds. So please be sensitive with what you choose to submit. For instance, try to avoid explicit graphic material and pieces with a great deal of swearing. Hate speech against any groups or people is strictly prohibited!

-Send all text-based submissions as a single Microsoft Word document (with each piece on a new page).

-Include titles, or working titles, as doing so will make highlighting your work easier.

– Provide a short biography attached as a separate Microsoft Word (either .doc or .docx) file with your submissions to LiterarySerenity@gmail.com. Place “Submission to The Literary Serenity Blog” in the subject line.

Content Formatting:

-Up to 2,000 words for fiction and nonfiction pieces (excerpts and multiple submissions accepted).

-Up to three poems at a time (must be less than 3,000 words in total).

-Photographs and artwork (please send as .png and .jpg files).

[Note]: If you have creative pieces that fall outside of the above parameters, please feel free to ask by commenting below or sending an email to LiterarySerenity@gmail.com.

 

Since this blog is just getting started, there is much room for growth and the shaping of a unique identity. So you if you have suggestions for helpful articles, links, etc. The Literary Serenity Blog might provide, feel free to comment.

In addition, here is a question for possible consideration: How would visitors to this site feel about me setting up an informal, online creative writing workshop on this blog? In other words, writers might submit pieces for the purpose of getting constructive feedback from other people.

Happy writing!