Rogue Homilies by Deidre Price

a study of life that smacks of the divine

Author: deidreprice (page 1 of 8)

At Least You’re Not Lonely Alone

I am never alone, and I don’t mean in the Jesus way.

Someone is always touching me or talking to me. I mother two monkeys five and under and have a fifteen year old who is, comparative to her peers, overly physically affectionate, and so they are on me, beside me, or about to be all day long–the little ones up with the electronic roosters we pretend are in our alarm clocks, and the big one up until the pages put her to sleep.

I take a mom break at work, but at work, I’m still the center. Because so many contemporary students have developed unfortunate, chronic allergies to professors’ office hours, I cannot get from the door to the desk in my classroom most days without having to barrel through a veritable obstacle course of questions, excuses, and comments as though I am the nerdy version of an American Gladiator.

The end of class would offer a retreat, but I land in my office (a.k.a. the makeshift faculty lounge because I have one of “those faces” and am an accidental marvel at active listening even when I do not mean to be). I once joked that one of my fixer-colleagues would find on her headstone, “Whaddya need?” Meanwhile, mine, across the mausoleum hall, would read, “Gosh, that’s so hard. I can’t even imagine. What do you do?”

The people find me in every shape I’ve ever been. They ask. They share. They commiserate. I identify. Again, “That’s so hard. I can’t even imagine. What do you do?”

A woman told me today she was lonely.

Lonely.

The word felt foreign and kind of awkward in the air. How, I thought, can anyone be lonely in a season like this? We’re all so . . . peopley.

I started to say, “That’s so hard. I can’t even imagine—” but the trouble was I could, imagine.

A life change in our household has left me feeling a bit like a roommate some days. I used to joke, as my daughter would come to ask us to keep it down a little so that she could sleep, that Jonathan and I had unknowingly enrolled in what had become the world’s longest-running summer camp.

But sometimes we’re here but not here, you know? And it’s so hard as you can imagine.

I resent talking about tasks we must share. Talking about adult things makes the house sound as though a bolt has come loose in the washing machine. I turn ostrich sometimes and just hope that the clothes will come out clean enough, noise be damned.

I’ll even say sometimes, “I feel like I haven’t seen you in days,” to which he’ll respond, “What are you talking about? We just watched four Mindy Projects.” And I’ll say, “Exactly,” and he knows what I’m talking about because your best friend from summer camp always does. He hears you even above the sound of the bolt in the washer.

I don’t know how to fix my friend. Be around more people, I want to say. But that’s dumb because I have people to spare, and I feel the same way she does sometimes.

I want to tell her, Think quality, not quantity. Ditch the numbers for the value. I love Shauna Niequist’s concept of the home team—our nearests and dearests who love us fiercely and hold us daily. I’m bad at that, too, though. I feel like I have so little to offer in this season that I’m a taker, and I don’t want to be like that, so I shy away from the closeness almost hoping to insulate my loves from the vortex of neediness I am these days.

I wonder sometimes if I miss myself or if my friend misses herself. In the selfie culture, it sounds like a vapid, horrible thing to say, but what if it isn’t? And what if it’s a real, live cause of loneliness—or at least that sense that you’ve been run over slowly and no one’s come to check your vitals.

What if it’s the little things like being able to pick the pizza toppings? What if it’s the luxury of having enough rest to finish a chapter in a book the next night? What if it’s closing your eyes and their not burning from exhaustion for once? What if it’s being the one to drink the last of the milk so that there’s no surprise that there isn’t any the next day?

These are small things, but what if the big things are made up of the small things?

What if we creators who used to paint and draw and make beauty where beauty was not feel as though our last good palette is drying up, and we’re powerless to preserve it? What if every little comment someone made about our shortcomings had somehow made its way into our pockets and begun to aggregate and weigh us down? What if we didn’t even notice they were there? We just felt slow and heavy and believed it was our fault.

I wouldn’t know where to begin to find myself anymore. I’m too many people to count. One ‘self’ isn’t possibly enough to contain me.

And maybe you wouldn’t know where to find yourself anymore either. It’s possible we’re both precisely and perfectly at a loss together—and something about that notion comforts me as though I’m Emily Dickinson and you are Nobody, her celebrated dear.

It’s putting it down on paper sometimes that’s the prescription that steadies the hand.

Let this confirmation be a beacon to buy us time.

 

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How to Make Peace, in Five-Year-Old Terms, in the Age of Trump

At the end of every soccer game last season, my son and the opposing teams of five year olds lined up and held out a hand, palm open. They passed as swiftly and evenly as they could, each player serving as a segment in twin human centipedes, to the friendly sound of cascading high fives, each miniature clap as happy as the biased parental ones coming from the sidelines at the sight of a scored goal.

I remember thinking how civil it all was, how they were more focused on the juice boxes and allergen-free snacks to follow than they were the outcome of the game, how they would at times stop playing altogether, forget the color of their shirts, and sit and play in the grass, dissecting dandelions.

These images come to mind again as I think about the past political season and how I wish at moments that we could all ‘be five’ and take a respite from it all. I wish this were all a game. It’s anything but. But I can’t help feeling like we’ve each spent time in some game, that we’ve been players and pawns for too long these past several months, that we’ve lost sight of the faces and focused on the jerseys and the sounds of the sidelines instead of our own consciences.

At every turn this past year, I felt as though I were arming myself with information. Reading for education or amusement no longer happened. We were on teams and then, after the primaries, we entered the finals, many of us disgruntled and begrudgingly adopting new colors. We wore them anyway, even if they didn’t flatter. We ran toward opposing goals, and our feet moved in the direction our coach had told us to. We ran, head on into others, swept a leg if needed.

We played dirty.

The game ended, our arms too loaded with equipment to manage a single high five. Our mouths remained full of arguments we hadn’t even gotten to yet.

I feel sure that politics has always made a mess of people, but this past year, we felt the stakes were higher, dived in willingly, and some of us threw our children in, too, even in places where it was too deep.

My hope this year is for us to take off our numbers and stop using the language of labels. My hope is that we’ll work on looking one another in the face and have more conversations in person than in online forums.

We are engaging between commercial breaks and relying on microwave media, sustaining on sound bytes. We are in such a hurry to get to hate. We’ve become our own click bait.

Many have lost friends in this election, and odds are the opinions these loved ones held had been held for some time before this past year made them transparent. With all the typing and clicking and tagging and sharing, it’s become harder and harder to insulate others from our dissent, and it’s become easier and easier to see the lines that were already, albeit more politely, traced in the ground between us.

Now we’re open 24/7 with green dots beside our names as though they were neon signs. We are always “Hot Now.” We are always open.

You’ve heard it before, but put the phone down. We’re fueling our own neuroses. Find something beautiful, and stare at it.  Find someone beautiful, and be with them.

Eat something that looks like an encounter with God.

Visit libraries, read every book, and use up every last ounce of your days to teach your children all the big lessons about big love.

Have tea parties at every age. Throw your doors and arms wide open and let everyone in. Shove down for love.

Be near to what’s going on in the White House, but cling nearer to your neighbor. Be present for your families. Notice your friends without any and adopt them in. Set the table and sit down. Break bread and keep breaking bread all the days of your life because we were made for times like these.

At the end of the day, I know exactly who we are and what we’re about. We are made of much–enough even–to make it through even a season of this much division. I think we had an amalgamation of good intentions gone horribly wrong, but that, at our core, we still, collectively, hope for good in the world, and we’re willing to work for it.

I’d like to think that, deep down, maybe we’re just dehydrated from all the back and forth. Maybe we need a nap after all the late-night tweeting.

Maybe, in the words of that precious Hook child, we “need a mother very badly.”

I’ll go first. Then you.

Here, love. Have an orange slice.


  Deidre Price, author and speaker, is a mama of three and lit Ph.D. Her most recent work appears in Boxcar Poetry ReviewThe Healing Muse, The Penwood Review, and The Mighty. Find her latest poetry chapbook, Lie/Lay/Lain: The Body in Tenses (Rogue Homilies Press, 2016) on Amazon.

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Rogue Homilies – Fall 2016 Issue Is Here!

 

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Oh, family. You’ve waited and loved well, and I’m happier than anyone to announce that the first issue of Rogue Homilies is here. Thank you for sharing your stories and your lives in these pages. You’re a generous people.

I’ll be blogging the story of how this magazine came to be in the coming week and hope that you’ll return for that piece, as it shares a story of stories, really, and preaches the goodness of community–even a community of veritable strangers that come together even just on the page, or just online, and maybe just for a little while.

I have few words left except to say that I’m so grateful for the experience of building this magazine. I hope that you’ll honor each author and artist by moving slowly through its pages. There hasn’t been a time I’ve sat down to edit or design and haven’t teared up. It’s been an humbling process to have my hands on others’ writing in this way, and each time I return to this project, it moves me in incredible ways. I hope it moves you, too.

xo,

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HOW TO DOWNLOAD THE ISSUE

To download the issue, click here: Rogue Homilies – Fall 2016 Issue.

 

HOW TO LISTEN TO FEATURED ARTIST GILEAH TAYLOR’S SONGS

 

“The Emergency” by Gileah Taylor from Songs I Have Sung

 

“Cheap Paper Phone” by Gileah Taylor from What Kind of Fool 

 

“Going Home” by Gileah Taylor from Songs for Late at Night, Vol. 2

 

 

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Call for Submissions

rogue homilieslife that smacks of the divine

Rogue Homilies originally started as a blog featuring vignettes about life and love and God–you know, pulpit things I’d say if I were a preacher. I’m not, hence the ‘rogue’ part of it.

It turns out, there are many of me among you: would-be Pulpit People with Christ in your life and art in your bones. This publication creates a space for you: authentic voices telling stories (in whatever genre or medium) about life that smacks of the divine.

Submissions are currently open for poetry, songs, stories, creative nonfiction, personal essays, art, and multimedia. I invite you to submit your work for the premier fall issue.

The theme of the 2016 fall issue is RESTORATION.

HOW TO SUBMIT

Writers, artists, and filmmakers can submit their work for consideration by July 31 to roguehomilies@gmail.com.  

Acceptances and rejections will be sent within 6-8 weeks. If you do not hear back within two months of sending your work, kindly follow up with us to ensure we’ve received it.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Writers, please include your work as a Microsoft Word attachment (.doc or .docx) or as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file. Please use Times New Roman 12 pt font and single space your submission. Include only the title of the piece within the document, not your name. Type the genre in your subject line (Poem Submission, Story Submission, Creative Nonfiction Submission, Personal Essay Submission, etc.), and include a cover letter and 50-word biographical note within the body of your email. Submit your work to roguehomilies@gmail.com by July 31.

Artists, musicians, and filmmakers, please attach or link to your work. Type either Art Submission, Music Submission, or Film Submission in your subject line. Include cover letter and 50-word biographical note within the body of your email. Closed-captioning will be required to supplement film and lyric submissions. Please include a transcript for any lyrics or audio submitted as a Microsoft Word attachment or a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file. Both the title of the piece and your name should appear within the file. Submit your work to roguehomilies@gmail.com by July 31 for consideration.

Multiple and simultaneous submissions in all categories are accepted. Please let us know as soon as your work is accepted elsewhere. There is not currently a limit on lengths of pieces or numbers of submissions. In the poetry category in particular, writers are encouraged to submit between 3-5 pieces for consideration.

Writing should be previously unpublished, including being circulated online in public forums, but art, music, and film will be considered even if previously published or circulated.

Rights revert to the authors and creators of the work.

 

Have happy lives–and write/create/sing/breathe/love in the meantime!

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“Jonathan’s Arms” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

Jonathan’s Arms

I’ve had them longer than I haven’t had them,
my husband’s arms.

They found me first at seventeen
outside Ronald McKinney’s parents’ house after curfew,
our toes numbed by Florida grass at a February midnight.
In the cornflower Crown Victoria, he held one hand
as I twisted the elastic of the air freshener with my other hand
as tight as it would go then let go to watch it spin,
again and again and again to release my own tension,
a cardboard top suspended in air
as we must have been.

Those arms found me and loved me well:
white roses,
water crackers,
mononucleosis,
Fudpucker’s shifts,
fortune cookies
and boom
they found our daughter and loved her well.

His right arm shared a rest with mine
while Vegas-bound
where we’d promise to share armrests and center consoles
for better or for worse.

His left would find my right in restaurants
where we’d sit out of order and bump against one another
as children who could not keep our hands to ourselves
and hence the son and second daughter.

We are still children who cannot keep our hands to ourselves.
His arms find me nightly as though we are bunkmates telling scary stories
about cubicles and mortgages, taxes and our health insurance–
we laugh about monsters, idiots, Joel Osteen,
holding books and babies better than our tongues,
keeping one another at arm’s length always.

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“A Pro-Con List for a Scientist’s Honeymoon” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

For April 5th’s prompt, I was tasked with thinking of a crisis, and of course, I can think of no greater crisis than an elementary school science project the day before it’s due. I was then tasked with choosing 5-10 words for things involved in that crisis.

I chose instructions, trifold board, pens, lima beans, zip-top bag in a windowsill, damp cotton balls, artificial light, beaker, hypothesis, lab reports.

The final step was to take those words and put them into a poem about an entirely different event, so I chose a honeymoon.

Clutch your pearls and enjoy.

 

A Pro-Con List for a Scientist’s Honeymoon

On the plus side, I’d get instructions, maybe even in two languages,
deconstruct his wardrobe easily enough in the artificial light.

We’d say, “Beakers up!” and sling carbonated celebration
to the loud sound of twin hypotheses backed by empirical evidence.

He’d see scatter plots made from petals on the bedspread,
then pull the comforter down in thirds like a display board.

We’d experiment.

But what of this experiment?
Would he calculate the velocity of my lips? The agility of my hips?

Would this be peer reviewed?

What if one night I found pens in the pillow?
A lab report beneath the mattress?

What if, in my eyes, he saw but lima beans,
sprouting under the promise of his damp cotton balls,
and thought of me as a specimen slide,
a zip-top bag for a windowsill,
just another plastic dish.

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“Der Zeitgeist” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

April 4 NaPoMo Prompt: Write a narrative poem from the point of view of someone else. The less they are like you, the better. The entire poem should be in that person’s voice. Give your character a life and a story.

Der Zeitgeist

Here’s a trip:
All the humanities people they could pick for Interim Dean for however long–
and I told them if I had to take it I was going to keep my hair.
The hair would be a deal breaker for sure.

They said yes, but I had to start wearing pants,
and you know, I’ll never understand why what a man wears matters so much.
I’m basically a chest and a desk, you know,
one of those brains in a vat, and it’s like they want to pick what color goo I’m stuck in.

They know I like cargo shorts. They know.
They know I keep a box of chalk in one pocket and my morning cigarettes in the other.
They know I can’t carry that and carry my coffee. But it’s fine. It is.
I did buy these Italian shoes. I liked how they were pointy. They’re like ‘shoes, shoes, woah!’

Oh, and I got one of those nice briefcases with the netted pockets inside–
they’re just like the ones on my cargo shorts, you know–
so I’m carrying that around for my chalk and my cigarettes,
and it’s actually kind of cool because I can carry two packs of each at the same time.

And what kind of professor needs a briefcase to teach an intro philosophy course?
You know, that’s something that should cause alarm–
one of your PhDs headed into an intro lecture with a bunch of notes in a box.
I mean, what are they going to learn from a bunch of notes in a box?

I’ll spell the German and Greek words out sometimes,
but I’m basically just talking to them like they’re people–
because they are, you know, like people.
And I don’t know, maybe that’s why they want to pull me out to do their dirty paperwork.

I could see that. I could see them pulling me out to distract me, you know.
Wouldn’t that be a thing, if they got word that I was onto something–
or thought I was on something?
And then they just pulled me out and gave me a dean job because I’d, like, figured something out?

No, I give them too much credit. They’ve been gone too long.
They don’t see what I see–the ideas moving in the room as I crack open these kids’ heads
to try to get the brains moving again. And they do.
You can’t do that as Dean of anything. Everyone in the room is already too far gone.

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“Breakfast with Lorraine Hansberry” by Deidre Price

Breakfast with Lorraine Hansberry

 

Because you asked what the light looks like during my favorite meal,

lies clamber over one another to defend my domestic honor:

High pitched and head tilted, “She cooks,” they say.

It has been so long since I’ve prepared a meal for my family,

even my lies are lying these days.

 

I’ve even stopped scrambling eggs.

I hear Walter Younger echo in my kitchen: “Damn all the eggs that ever was.”

Am I Walter with his pocketful of dreams or Ruth, his tired wife?

This writing life turns me to Beneatha, “the one for whom bread is not enough,”

but I’m Mama, and there is God in my house some days, too.

 

I scroll through pictures of other people’s food,

first days of school with chalkboard reminders of who they were–

how tall, what grade, the teacher who will be another mother.

Meanwhile all these mamas keep looking onto other people’s papers

for answers these other mothers are maybe getting wrong, too.

 

I worry sometimes we’ll each find out we all had a different test

and feel regret so deep it chokes us out?

What if these manufactured clouds kill the one apartment houseplant our lives could afford

because we could not move it six inches to the right

because we were too busy making “all the eggs that ever was”?

Cappuccino, donut, eggs, and cheese grits for Atticus because these Legos aren't going to build themselves.

Cappuccino, donut, eggs, and cheese grits for Atticus because these Legos aren’t going to build themselves.

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“The Method to My Madness, or How to Write a Poem” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

The Method to My Madness, or How to Write a Poem

 

For Billy Collins

 

When a poem starts, I start with I.

I follow I with a certain verb–

steady sureness like I know and I am,

abandon my perhapses,

leave breadcrumb maybes in my margins.

 

When a poem starts, the speaker finds me,

tries on my every word, losing lipstick to heavily starched syntax

cast off to the dressing room floor of my page.

She leans into the light until it flatters for me,

the best friend standing by, opinions clenched in fists.

 

I want to see what happens.

 

I quiet as the show begins and silence my phone.

Language takes the stage–adolescent, unruly

with packed pocketfuls of bribes for candy rhymes.

The I arrives and says this music has to die, then Tybalt

stabs the adverbs like Mark Twain told him to.

 

I keep my Descartes close because he tells me what I like:

People cannot tell the difference between the dream and the world,

so we can stop pretending in the distance between them–

and the distance between us.

 

A miniature Anne Sexton descends like Tinkerbell might.

I can see her wires but do not care.

I clap and amen because I believe.

 

A chorus boos my jokes as critics censor from too many front rows.

I hear them backed by half a dozen echoes of dying fathers.

These voices linger, ruthless, proud, like Lost Boys’.

 

Suddenly, I become everybody’s mother.

 

I threaten to turn the poem around so fast their heads spin.

The back seats quiet.

I remember I know all the lines.

 

Sylvia commiserates

then bakes us pies.

 

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April 2

An idiom is a phrase or a fixed expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. An idiom’s figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning. 

The meaning gets lost over time and what was once a new and interesting expression becomes “old hat.” 

You’ve heard them, “A penny for your thoughts, back to the drawing board, devil’s advocate, just to name a few.”

For today’s prompt, take a popular idiom ( or more than one if you can manage it), and recreate its meaning. Make it fresh again.

Share your idiom poem in the comments, and join us tomorrow for another! 

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“Beams” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

Beams

 

My outdoorsy husband’s iPhone charts the stars.

He holds it to the sky, and an app plays

dot to dot with fire suspended in spaces

he’s never been.

 

He dreams of Nashville evenings,

classifies his days as though they are the fine woods

he turns into better things.

 

We want to turn into better things.

 

I dreamed of New York before the children crept

into me. Now every inch of my home is a crawl space

as colored plastic works on my sanity, diligently

as though it will be paid.

 

My days are floors and counters.

I identify stains and know not just that it is urine

but also whose.

 

We sing old songs to fill the air that fills

the rooms between other people’s dreams–

a violin among the dance shoes,

caped costumes and batarangs, 

tea at noon for twelve puppies and an octopus. 

 

The skies come to me these days.

 

As sure as my husband’s astrophysics,

my own sun and moon come bedside, gifts in tow at 6 a.m.–

Lego heroes in need of repair from their long night of sleep,

a sushi backpack full of marbles, missing jewelry, and silverware,

carried in with a blanket, blue as our Florida sky and covered

in white circles our smallest one calls “moons.”

 

We realize new dreams,

beaming at us, always whole.

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April 1

Today’s prompt is “What kind of moonlight comes through your window, covers your lawn or glistens over the last of the snow?”

Share your moonlight poem in the comments, and join us tomorrow for another! 

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