Posted in inspirational, social commentary

Balmy Weather

I thought turning off the news would dull the pain
but it doesn’t go away.
A journalist named Foley was murdered–
could not be saved,
might makes right
in a world
where chapters are written in blood-red wounds.

on every street around the world
inside so many homes.
I sit here transporting myself
by traveling in my mind
and reading at my desk where I pretend that my prayers might count,
where I imagine freeing someone from doom
with a miracle
manifested from collective thoughts.

The kidnapped schoolgirls are no longer making headlines.
Tanks on the streets in Ferguson, Missouri remind me of Kent State.
Shoot first, ask questions later
pumps endless adrenaline
into our already overloaded bloodstreams and stressed out lives.
Here in Phoenix, a distraught mother called for help

for her daughter

who had a mental illness
and instead of helping her
the authorities shot the black woman to death.
It’s always the same they say-
we were afraid for our safety.
She had a hammer, or was it Skittles, or perhaps cigars?

the monsoon rains cleanse the dehydrated desert
where the birds are happy, rabbits are bouncing,
the air is scented with sage and blossoms,
a momentary peace
brought on by storms.


Copyright © 2014 by Susan E Rowland

Posted in memoir, social commentary

Talking to Someone About the Last Lap Dance

blue desert sky


I am so sad about Robin Williams.

All the talking heads are yak, yak, yakin’ like hens in a henhouse
and I think of the song
“everyone’s talkin’ at me,
I can’t hear a word they’re saying.”

We know it hurts.
Our filled wet eyes pouring over
like waterfalls in paradise
down and down
into nothingness.

No relief
because there is no more
to express.


Utterances…the insanity
still cluck, cluck, clucking
24-7 on flashy stations-ladies in the
form fitting
little black dresses
perfect legs, sleek and tan.
The men with smoothed heads
bulging arms, t-shirts with honed mounded pectorals shined to perfection
not showing a wrinkle in their shirts,
never a blemish
or a sigh.

Desperate without love because the dopamine doesn’t flow right
and they called you fat
as a child
and who knows what other dark secret never made it
into the healing light of transmutation.

On to the next story
without a break or a pause,
it’s not a cure for cancer
not a happy time,
our national
obsession with appearance…
bigger steroid abs, torsos of steel, flawless skin tone, baby bumps, tight tummies, hot mamas, baby daddies, sugar baby boy-girl-girl-boy
a label to be a brand
a new appendage to hold in your arms like a trophy
until the next break up,
or sensational hook-up
on public display,
toned and tightened
butts and thighs,
muscles and cheeks
it goes on for weeks,
never stopping
never ending
freaky freaks
cashing in on the beat
taking score
comparing types,
always, always focusing on the body.

The GREED monster


Bikini bodies on the beach stalking sweat
and glances for
empty chances,
but something sparkles in the sand
just below your awareness
you are not enough.

Fingers, arms, legs, genitalia
selfies and phones,
everyone talks the same
using that creaky dry throat thing,
that style that sounds like
they need a drink of water
to soften the palate of conformity.
Networks of shame

empty  of innocence continue with reeling in

and going viral.

It’s the definition of obscenity: narcissism bought and sold
in any venue. The body and the girl, barely legal
breaking bad, some stupid drug glorified on television-even if it makes people dump their kids
into alleyways at night
and jam guns into baggy pants in a dizzying rage
and the people watch programs
about orange and black, capitalizing on the woes of jail,
the lock and key of insanity,
the beer and the babe, the car and the broad,
the truck and the dude,
sound bytes selling sex
sizzling sting of decay
with a backdrop down into weapons sales

where refugees wail on a mountaintop

fighting to survive

beguiled tongue
of the devil who is

devoid of integrity.

Endless consumption
of the image-mongers
and the body sellers,

the makers of ratings

by baiting

false admiration
contrite superiority
used to sell cars, bodies, and products,
selling likes and attention

me first-me, me, me
all the way
to hell
for temporary pleasure.

It won’t last.

Thank God it’s only a bad dream.

lights copy

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E Rowland

Posted in journal prompts, journaling, memoir, poetry, self improvement, social commentary

Mmmm, yeah

Covering five areas:



1) Her voice on the other end of the line is soothing
someone I can really talk to.
She understands if you can’t quite make it on a certain day and she knows you
will try.
With some people you learn to read between the lines
because it’s just too hard to talk about it.
I can hear the mowers in the background in my imagination.
Smell the green colors the earth of little feet and generations

who tell me I did belong somewhere once upon a time,

adorned with hyacinth and lilac.
They’re bringing in the wheat
they had to dig some new lines for the well this weekend.
calendar with tent copy.jpg for blog











2) I love every new month because I have this thing for calendars.

There’s one in every room and I plan ahead each year to find just the right ones.




I analyze and gaze, taking in the composition, savoring the feeling of the colors, the blocks for the days, I look at the numbers,




The times in between the dream and the paint.

Satisfied I organize. I print out my morning pages.

That is the beauty of each new month.


I may not have aced the approval codes the first time

where my little eyes crept towards walls of shame

would Daddy still love me and would I be good enough?

Would I get to be good enough? Would Mama come out from her shell?
but I did

I did when I came back
and attacked it with a vengeance.
I laid it out with their A’s and
with all the self-worth I could conjure for the second time.

to add with honors

And this time I cared. So I sent a picture and went back to work.

I may not have slam-dunked the algebra, but  I climbed your ladder to display the thing.
I never got into debt.
And didn’t spend more than I made.
And I never depended on a man for my sustenance.


When I said I hauled all the water we used
for the babies
and at that time when he left
and I had to do it all myself,
I was long and lean and strong
I did make it from sunrise to dusk


my story is true.
when Grandfather told me about laying 80 miles of barbed wire for fencing that year
his story was true.
and there was a time when the barn burned down.
that was a bad year.
He had to wait another  two years to be able to buy a new overcoat.

3) It’s cliché to wonder where it all went.
How could I not remember that I ran for president of elementary school….
I did?
Yes, you did.
I don’t remember that.
I was your campaign manager.

So memory seems to stick to the bad stuff
and trauma but I’m in a different mode now so I
create miracles, co-create and all that

you know
because this aging is not for wimps.

Maybe it was the year before Mom got sick.
Why wouldn’t I remember that?
What happened that shattered my confidence?
It never left, it just tagged along with Rip Van Winkle
believing some garbage about domestication,
that one’s worth-a woman’s worth  is measured by your waistline,
by your marriage qualities,

the checkbook and
cooking skills-not by the trouble you’d fled or avoided

but they forgot that wanderers, artists, music-makers and dancers, plus
shy people

and gypsies had to pull their carts
just another mile. But I quickly
set down roots and set ’em deep
and quietly buried the afterbirths in a special location

no I freaking did not eat it-get off me-
the old way
they told me
to do this
the ones who didn’t know English , CrowDogs
from South Dakota, the grandmother  said”you know that way,”
so when your children grow up-they will always have a place to go
if they get confused once in a while
or are in  a dark night, kinda blue
or just need to think,
to call on Spirit,
they would know where the tree is
and they could go there and gather themselves.

I did that for my children
so they would know
they always have a home near the tree.



You just tap in and access your pin number to Creator.


the work shed window
4) Spiritual competition stinks worse than crap,
religious wars and power struggles
make people act worse than the lowest animals.



A man took an assault rifle to the airport this week.It was a man with a smirk, a sneer, or was that an over-educated  glare of  contempt?

He went to the coffee shop in the Starbucks of a major busy airport… but he claims he was  just shifting the weapon

when it was aimed at a woman and her 17-year-old daughter. They were frightened-of course. Ignorance is quite frightening!

The man, a “top researcher” with a PhD in neuroscience wanted to make a statement about the right to bear arms. In the news report they claimed he didn’t treat patients at the institute.

Hmmmm, yeah.

At the airport with an assault rifle?  Oh Lord.

Jesus, hold my hand.

No ethnic, as in  professional black person  would have the cojones to do that, and I’m sure as hell you wouldn’t find an Hispanic man in sheriff Joe’s territory trying to support weapons rights by walking up to Starbucks at Sky Harbor with a rifle. Nada.

He didn’t hear about LAX? He hadn’t heard about Sandy Hook?  or even Columbine?

You want to own a gun, you leave that phallic toy at home.


And what about that other guy-the football player.  Ray. Ray, you got to get together and learn to do it right. Don’t waste your life or hurt anyone else. Dr. PHIL!

What is UP with these people lately?


You want to be mad at your wife or fiancé, you take a nice walk and talk it out, fool. Or go talk to your coach or some older dudes who have SENSE as in a BRAIN with working brain cells. You do not hit a woman. No can do.



huh ahuh



unh mmmm






Journal prompt: Try telling a story using poetry or free writing without proper punctuation or grammar rules and spelling etc.  Just get it  written down on paper or put  in the computer. Start in the present and share an event. If you find your mind is wandering, or your conversation diverts, don’t fight it just  now…. let it go where it will…and as you begin to remember other things (association) keep writing. Use short phrases in you need to.

I am using this method to work on my memoir and may do the whole book as a series of poems. I find the poetry method much more intimate and personal when I want to evoke a mood. It is a battle of sorts if you are into poetry and prose.

Discussion: What is your experience of memory? Of course most of us will not remember everything about our lives. Some theorists claim we remember the traumatic stuff more easily or readily. How does not remembering affect you? Does it bother you when that happens?  If you are in a younger age group do you notice things about your aging relatives? What are your thoughts, if any, on aging?

Posted in humor, inspirational, social commentary

To Whom it May Concern: Language Alert!

Blog Challenge /Daily Prompt. Write a “to whom it may concern” letter.

June 20, 2014

To Whom It May Concern,

Isn’t it funny that nobody uses that phrase much? Or even, who pays attention any more? I mean like…really? Have you even watched the news lately? Grammar has gone to the birds. Nobody says “whom.” Um…seriously? Where is the grammar Ann Landers when you need her?

Or, for example, witnesses tell a news reporter about a burglary: “Me and Tony were just standing there like watching and this guy just drives up in a van and um, starts taking stuff- it was like so scary.”

Another thing…the favorite new phrase everyone uses constantly is “as well.” It’s all over the place.  Now every other sentence in the news, weather reports and common conversation includes the “aw” trend.  For example, “there’s a cooling trend in the counties up north, as well.” So what’s wrong with that you ask? Nothing. My point is, why even say the phrase at all? Just say “there is a cooling trend up north.”

Here’s another: I shudder over the ridiculous word, “transparent” It rankles me silly. I just heard, “companies must be transparent.” Can anything be more ludicrous? Companies must be like Saran Wrap, or any other terms you may have learned in high school art class. What’s next? Translucent? How about opaque? It’ll be, “ Mr. Smith’s opaque answer overshadows his previous transparent statement about profit margins.”

I’m worried about our old phrases being tossed by the wayside. What happened to “get a life?” I guess everyone got over it.

Have you even noticed that NOBODY ever said “it’s huge” before the Tiger Woods scandal? Well they didn’t. You didn’t notice until I said something. Admit it. This language trends thing is huge. How cool is that?

And another thing before I get ready to close, nobody….absolutely NOBODY said “look” before President Obama started making speeches. You heard it right here, from me, little ol’ Sue Rowland pecking away at home on her PC. Check out how many people start their sentences, with “Look.” Politicians beware, you are language trendsetters. No, Anthony Weiner, we’re not talking about you. Do not say “look.” Now at least some variety is emerging with “listen.” No, Bill O’ Reilly or  Rush Limbaugh or Carl Rove, not you. Listen, just stop talking. .

A couple more:
Count how many times people say “absolutely” in one day. I mean, really, who does that?

Or how about medical terms for describing the economy? It’s time to stop the bleeding. What is up with that?

How about “a ton?” You wouldn’t pass eighth grade English, fool. Apparently, it doesn’t matter.

So, whomever ends up reading this assignment for WordPress, if you are out there, please teach more grammar and push for individuality and originality in speaking styles, as well. We should absolutely make this language awareness thing go viral and it will bring a ton of attention.

Sincerely yours,

I’m Just Getting Started in AZ

Copyright © 2014 Susan E Rowland

Posted in poetry, social commentary, Veterans, Writing for healing

The List

Amidst the pomp and ceremony
There whispers a voice from the ranks
To battle, to battle,
The hue and cry
Hush, hush, sweet secret
Speak not of lies.

We sent you off to war
For noble causes
To defend and serve
We trained and prodded and tested your nerve.
We championed your departure
Hearts ablaze, flags waving.

During your service we saluted
Blowing kisses, sending care packages
and prayers,
Proudly displaying our bumper stickers,
And talking over counters at grocery stores.
She’s coming home in August,
He’s just been sent overseas.

Yet you returned disheveled, swollen, amputated.
Your rages sneak out at night uncontrolled,
Your glazed eyes became unrecognizable.
Your name and number, once hailed proudly
Are an annoyance to our current financial plan.
And to the regulatory commission of suited bank-rollers
We stuff ourselves with your pain.
After all, your loss is our gain.

Somehow your names did not show up on the list
of people to be treated, You are not included.
We snuffed you out in our waiting-file film noir
Perhaps your info was shredded in some VA forgotten closet
for months and months, while recruiters
search for fresh bodies, fresh boots
To send out again and again,
While losing your secret files, dismissing your case,
Our motive is purely to win the race.

Posted in Earth Day, natural resources, social commentary

Meanwhile, Back on Earth….

the moonscape


Meanwhile, back on earth, nobody cared much because the people were too busy with their self-importance. It all became inconveniently uninhabitable.


“But Mommy why didn’t somebody do something when the polar ice caps were melting? Why did we all have to move to the Moon?”

“That’s just the way it is, honey. People couldn’t get along well enough to change things. Corporations were only interested in profit. Someday you’ll understand. Now put your gas mask on and zip up your radiation suit. Let’s go see if we can spot a kitty cat. I heard there might be one across the ozone desert. They released a few from the laboratory three years ago. Two survived. Isn’t that exciting, dear? Plus, we have a ten-day credit left on our oxygen card. We’ve got it good!”

Posted in faces, social commentary

Faces of the Unexplained News

Journal entry…

Nobody knows what happened to the aircraft. Families are suffering in agony wondering what happened to their loved ones. I listen to the news, continuously drawing. Who knows what comes forth with all this technology in the year 2014.

What if time is not linear at all? What if life is one big hologram?  One talented psychic medium speaks bravely while the other commentators present the characteristic amused smile. What if they can’t explain everything?

woman's face on yellow legal paper

When another day goes by and there is still no word, a commentator rephrases  what the medium has said the day before. He wants his idea to save the day. We all want to be heroes. But this ain’t no hurricane. The families don’t want theories, they want answers.

The world of the illustrated journal is my way of dwelling in a multifaceted world. Evidence. Reality. Imagination. Vision. I listen to it all. Then the messages come in dreams. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is imminent if the spirits will come to us in our dreams with some semblance of finality.
the face

Posted in journaling, poetry, social commentary, Writing for healing

Asking the Queen after a Valentine’s Verdict

queen nefertiti copy.jpg blog 2014

Beautiful queen
Talk to us today
When we pray for the sun
To enter our sadness
Revealing the light.

Why do another mother and father lose a son
At the inebriated hateful hand of a creature
Called a man?

What secrets do you hold, wondrous beauty?
Will you share with us some glimpse of compassion to consider
This cloudy morning, oh queen.

Tell us of your king
And his vibrant knowledge,
Your conversations, your walks together, and your elegance.
Do you have a potion to soothe the angry seas
Of our devastated souls?

Discussion: I chose to use one of Dad’s paintings of Queen Nefertiti for this post. I miss being able to talk with him about psychology and current events. I was going to do a Valentine’s post but it was displaced by the recent verdict in Florida trial.  Jesse and I discussed our horror and sadness that an unarmed youth, Jordan Russell Davis, was killed by a drunken angry man. The verdict, and now a mistrial, do not allow for any “closure,” so to speak,  in this disturbing story that comes right after Valentine’s Day during Black History Month in the US.

So many are alarmed at the increasing violence throughout the world. I think of how Jordan’s parents and family must feel right now.

Journal prompt: Write about how you sublimate feelings or reactions to things. Do you have any thoughts about current events and jury trials, if you follow them? Do you have any favorite icons that represent beauty and justice, either past or present? What would you ask an historical person if you could talk with her/him right now?

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Rowland
Painting (study) by Vernon Rowland (1922-2006)

Posted in earth friendly, poetry, social commentary

Post 51

lizard on screen 1

Who speaks up when the cold crashes in

When lizards go down under the earth to dream?

Den dwelling four leggeds fatten to retreat for winter

Leaving the monster man-made machines to roar and rumble

Upon the surface of tierra madre.

Turning cycles are subtle in the sandy-sparkled desert.

Heat departs, we open doors and windows wide

Relieved, appreciating the ending of sweltering temps.

Maybe it is

All about perspective.

the lamp by the adobe cottage


Journal prompt: Write a poem about perspective. Then climb a hill, a tree, or even get up on a ladder and write from the view of elevation. Try the same exercise by climbing down into a lower level; use the stairs, go down into a ravine, or use your imagination to access this point of view. How does it change your perspective?


Copyright ©  2013 by Susan E. Rowland original poetry & photography. All rights reserved

Posted in inspirational, journal prompts, journaling, memoir, social commentary, Writing for healing

Why Not? Ramblings about Writing

                                                 postcard why not

                                               post card from the early 1900’s

“We cannot discover ourselves without first discovering the universe, the earth, and the imperatives of our own being” – Thomas Berry

I found the Berry quote in Poetic Medicine by John Fox. It’s so true. The earth is an integral part of our personalities, even if we are city dwellers. The earth we stand on, the water we drink, and the air we breathe is as real as our own bodies. The fire of  universal themes is shared by all people and cultures.

My FOO, or family of origin, was filled with certain taboos. Issues were often hidden. Things had to look good on the surface, but within that outer appearance was the semblance of safety. Rules were akin to what was expected behavior in the dominant society.   Pull yourself up. Don’t rock the  boat. Don’t talk about religion or politics in polite company. That’s not what I heard late at night when the adults thought the kids were asleep.

 As I grow older, I am less afraid to examine the truth and to crack open what it means to be human.  To say these are my stories and I own them is to expose myself. To tell them is to heal.

At times, writing a “memoir”  sounds so stilted but there is no turning back. There is no  safety zone either. Having a prim and proper critic at your shoulder is so repressive.  The Miley in all of us rebels. It’s human. Let them do their dances. I wanted to do my mine!  Aren’t there worse things in life? Sweating it out, bulges, aches, and stiff joints is part of the process.  What is the difference between raunchy and real anyway? Birth is wide open and so is writing.

Whenever I get stuck for blogpost idea I take down a box of old photos and family stuff. In the box today I found postcards from 1901 or 1907, it’s hard to make out the exact year.  There’s no text on this one cent post card. It must have been mailed to my grandfather when he was in medical school because my father wasn’t born until 1922.

Was this a love message from an admirer?

                                          post with postmark

For me, the Why Not? topic is like finding an old love letter. It’s about continuing to write the whole story unpeeled like a naked carrot pulled from the ground. It’s a bit scary for those of us who are not usually exhibitionists.

Who would want to read my story anyway? Can I really talk about that incident?

As my instructors say, just get the bare bones down. Make an outline. In the book I get to let loose about anything, but certainly not everything. Some significant features in a lifetime are sacred and private.  For those us who create,  it’s in our blood. Not to create is to perish.

Here are four tips for living (or writing) from Angeles Arrien’s,  The Four Fold Way. These four archetypes based on the four directions and traditions of Native American teachings. Each of the four directions is based on method and a sacred meaning and has significance. The archetypes below can applied to writing our stories. See if any of these resonate.

  • “Show up, or choose to be present”   (Warrior)
  • “Pay attention to what has heart and meaning”   (Healer)
  • “Tell the truth without blame or judgment”  (Visionary)
  • “Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome”  (Teacher)

Journal prompt: Dare to write about the thing you would never want to see published. Don’t be concerned about sharing it right now. In fact, keep it private in your journal. Later on, you may have the courage to divulge or figure out how to express that feeling.

Why not? Dare to create from the authentic self.

Within the experience of truth telling is power.

Finding my way

Until next time and thank you for reading,

Happy Journaling!

Copyright © 2013 by Susan E. Rowland All rights reserved