• blogs,  Female Poets,  National Poetry Month,  Poetry,  Poetry blogs,  writing

    Gwyneth Lewis, Poet

    This month, I’m taking part in Blogging from A 2 Z April Challenge where each day, writers use the letters of the alphabet as a prompt. The main theme of my blogs for the challenge are to write about female poets as this is National Poetry Month. This is also a great way to learn more about poetry.

    I wasn’t familiar with any female poets whose name began with the letter “L” so I searched through a list. I also wanted to stay within the not too distant past so research would be easier. The list of female poets begins in antiquity! Gwyneth Lewis caught my eye. When I read one of her poems, Gleision, I knew I had to write about her! The poem gave me chills with its imagery of frightened families waiting and hoping near the entrance of the mine for word of their loved one’s safety, or worse, death. “The cave’s an open mouth whose words are men who work their mountain.”  The open mouth of the cave has black breath. Those waiting there must not ring the bell anymore or the mouth will swallow the miners trapped deep within the mountain. Lewis uses the literary device of personification to write about the accident. By writing about the mountain with its open black mouth with evil, monster-like characteristics, the poet creates emotion for the reader to maybe experience the deaths in sympathy with the families. Instead of reading a dry news account with facts, poetry is art through which a reader can be part of the story. I live in a mining town where many of my family members work, and this poem especially resonated with me. The mine employs thousands of workers, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say the whole town works there. We all have such images of disasters in our minds but push those images far back.   http://www.gwynethlewis.com/news.shtml

    The website Literary Devices https://literarydevices.net/personification/ explains the term as “Personification is a figure of speech in which an idea or thing is given human attributes and/or feelings or is spoken of as if it were human. Personification is a common form of metaphor in that human characteristics are attributed to nonhuman things. This allows writers to create life and motion within inanimate objects, animals, and even abstract ideas by assigning them recognizable human behaviors and emotions.”

     

    Gleision 

    Tops of trees, their roots in seams
    Of dark. King under mountain.

    The cave’s an open mouth whose words
    Are men who work their mountain.

    Pine, larch and oak. Don’t touch the bell
    That tolls from out the mountain

    Or he will stir, and miners die
    Like light inside a mountain.

    His breath is black and marks each face
    That seeks beneath the mountain.

    Leaves drift down, but they won’t heal
    The sentence of the mountain.

    It’s time to lose all hope and seal
    The grave. King lies in his mountain.

     

    “The cave’s an open mouth whose words are men who work their mountain.”

     

    Bio

    Poet Gwyneth Lewis was born in 1959 in Cardiff, Wales. She studied English at Cambridge University. Lewis also studied at Harvard and Columbia, was a Harkness Fellow, and worked as a freelance journalist in New York. Gwyneth Lewis was Wales’s National Poet from 2005-06, the first writer to be given the Welsh laureateship. She published eight books of poetry in Welsh and English, with a ninth forthcoming in October. Gwyneth’s first non-fiction book, Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book about Depression (2002), was short-listed for the Mind Book of the Year. Her second, Two in a Boat: A Marital Voyage (2005), recounts a voyage made with her husband on a small boat from Cardiff to North Africa. In 2014 she was Bain-Swiggett Visiting Lecturer of Poetry and English at Princeton University. For the last three years, she has been Faculty at Bread Loaf School of English, Vermont, USA, and was the 2016 Robert Frost Chair of Literature.

    Poets Statement

     “Please don’t let all that suffering go to waste […] People who ignore depression are the ones who go mad, not those who go through it and treat it with the respect it deserves.”

     

  • Female Poets,  National Poetry Month,  Poetry

    Jane Kenyon, Poet

     

    Jane Kenyon, Poet

     

     

    I chose Jane Kenyon for today’s post for A2Z April Challenge. Her poetry can be both simple and profound with its images of domestic life in rural New Hampshire. She suffered from depression her entire life which she in turn employed as inspiration for poems. Use of literary devices such as metaphor and description are evident in her work. Details of the land and family relationships are beautifully woven into her writing. Kenyon’s work is worth studying. We are fortunate to have access to her poetry collections. I intend to read more of her beautiful poems. 

    Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks

         By Jane Kenyon

    I am the blossom pressed in a book,
    found again after two hundred years. . . .
    I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper….
    When the young girl who starves
    sits down to a table
    she will sit beside me. . . .

    I am food on the prisoner’s plate. . . .

    I am water rushing to the wellhead,
    filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .
    I am the patient gardener
    of the dry and weedy garden. . . .
    I am the stone step,
    the latch, and the working hinge. . . .
    I am the heart contracted by joy. . . .
    the longest hair, white
    before the rest. . . .
    I am there in the basket of fruit

    presented to the widow. . . .

     

    I am the musk rose opening
    unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .
    I am the one whose love
    overcomes you, already with you
    when you think to call my name. . . .

                                                          

    BIOGRAPHY

    Jane Kenyon was born on May 23, 1947, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in the Midwest. She earned a BA from the University of Michigan in 1970 and an MA in 1972. That same year, Kenyon married the poet Donald Hall, whom she had met while studying at the University of Michigan.

    Kenyon published four books of poetry during her lifetime: Constance (Graywolf Press, 1993), Let Evening Come (Graywolf Press, 1990), The Boat of Quiet Hours (Graywolf Press, 1986), and From Room to Room (Alice James Books, 1978), as well as a book of translation, Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova (Ally Press, 1985). She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1981.

    In December 1993 she and Hall were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, “A Life Together.” She was named poet laureate of New Hampshire in 1995 and died of leukemia on on April 22 of that year.

     

    Poetry Foundation’s biography page for Jane Kenyon has an analysis of her work.      

    “Despite her relatively small output, her poetry was highly lauded by critics throughout her lifetime. As fellow poet Carol Muske remarked in the New York Times when describing Kenyon’s The Boat of Quiet Hours, “These poems surprise beauty at every turn and capture truth at its familiar New England slant. Here, in Keats’s terms, is a capable poet.” Indeed, Kenyon’s work has often been compared with that of English Romantic poet John Keats; in an essay on Kenyon for Contemporary Women Poets, Gary Roberts dubbed her a “Keatsian poet” and noted that, “like Keats, she attempts to redeem morbidity with a peculiar kind of gusto, one which seeks a quiet annihilation of self-identity through identification with benign things. Kenyon explored nature’s cycles in other ways: the fall of light from day descriptive skills… as notable as her dramatic ones. Her rendering of natural settings, in lines of well-judged rhythm and simple syntax, contribute to the [volume’s] memorableness. to dusk to night, and the cycles of relationships with family and friends throughout a long span of years brought to a close by death, and her work in this regard has been compared with that of the late poet Sylvia Plath. Comparing the two, Breslin wrote that “Kenyon’s language is much quieter, less self-dramatizing” than that of Plath, and where the earlier poet “would give herself up, writing her lyrical surrender to oblivion,… Kenyon fought to the end. In Otherwise: New and Selected Poems (1996), a posthumous collection containing twenty poems written just prior to her death as well as several taken from her earlier books, Kenyon “chronicles the uncertainty of living as culpable, temporary creatures,” according to Nation contributor Emily Gordon. “

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/jane-kenyon

     

                                                                             

  • Female Poets,  National Poetry Month,  Poetry

    Jennifer Wong, Poet

     

    Blogging From A2Z April Challenge

    What better way to begin the Blogging From A2Z April Challenge than to tie it in with National Poetry Month. Okay, I started late so today my first blog post begins with the letter J. I plan to go back and write the complete April challenge with more posts for the entire month. I love poetry and look forward to April every year when there’s so many activities revolving around poetry. I’ve written poetry since I was twelve and have several poems published.  I’ve written a poetry manuscript which I’ve submitted to a publisher. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Rejection is so terrible but as a writer, you just have to keep going. Never stop writing! 

    My favorite poets are women. I studied poetry in college and became fascinated with learning just how much women have contributed to the world of literature. We have copies of poetry from antiquity to current times. I discovered a list of Female Poets that I am using for research. Since I’m retired, my main project is studying more about poetry. I have several favorites that I intend to keep learning about. Reading about how women speak through the written word is something that never gets old to me and helps with my own writing. 

    Today’s female poet is Jennifer Wong. I am featuring one of her poems GLOW that evokes such vivid images in my mind. 

     

     

     

     

               GLOW

    By Jennifer Wong

    In the old days everyone there knew
    how to make ice lanterns: filling
    the barrels with water from Songhua
    and leaving the blocks to freeze.
    They lit and hung the lanterns outside houses.
    But as time passed they grew
    more ambitious with their craft:
    to carve a dragon’s whiskers and scales;
    a lotus pavilion, goddess kwan yin,
    and the Great Wall of China
    for the brave-hearted.
    Look at the children laughing
    and skating away.
    The crystal palace beckons to you.
    You remember how far
    this water has traveled.
    The amusement won’t last.

     

     

     

    Jennifer Wong was born and raised in Hong Kong. She studied English at Oxford University and earned an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She has a creative writing PhD on Chinese diaspora poetry at Oxford Brookes University.

    Wong is the author of the poetry collections 回家 Letters Home (Nine Arches Press 2020), which was the PBS Spring 2020 Wild Card Choice; Goldfish (Chameleon Press, 2013); and Summer Cicadas (Chameleon Press 2006).  She has also published poetry in journals, including Stand, Magma Poetry, World Literature Today, The Rialto, Oxford Poetry, Asian Cha, Voice & Verse and anthologies, including Eight Hong Kong Poets (Chameleon Press, 2015) and Becoming Poets: The Asian English Experience (Peter Lang, 2014). She is a book reviewer and translator, and her work has appeared in Poetry London, Poetry Review, Pathlight, Modern Poetry in Translation and Asian Review of Books, among other publications. She has taught creative writing at Oxford Brookes University and courses at the Poetry School and City Lit.  

    Wong lives in the United Kingdom.  

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/jennifer-wong

     

     

     

  • crime fiction,  crime thrillers,  undercover cops

    Who The F*ck Am I?: Steve Regan Undercover Cop Book 1

    I don’t usually read crime fiction books, so I didn’t know what to expect. After reading Who The F*ck Am I?, I can say that I was entertained and couldn’t stop until the end! The character of Steve Regan as the laid-back undercover cop was perfectly described. I like to see images of characters in my mind as I’m reading and the author used vivid details for the people and action. The internal struggle of Regan as he’s assigned a case involving a Bolivian cocaine cartel, and whether he should give in to the lure of easy money, makes the character more personable. I liked the fact that Regan considered his life and how his actions would affect his mother. I don’t like to read about characters who are one-sided. Loves his mom but likes to fight the bad guys, Regan is one attractive fictional character. Author Stephen Bentley uses his experience as a former undercover detective in the U.K. to give the reader insight into the criminal world. This is Book 1 of his Steve Regan Undercover Cop Series. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series!  5 stars!
  • author interviews,  author's life,  cop memoirs,  crime fiction,  crime thrillers,  fiction,  Reviews,  the writer's life,  undercover cops,  writing

    Steve Bentley Author Interview-The Writer’s Life

    The Writer’s Life

    Today for the series The Writer’s Life,  I am featuring an author interview with Steve Bentley, former undercover cop and barrister now a freelance writer and bestselling author and HuffPost UK Blogger.  Steve is the author of the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers, the Detective Matt Deal Thrillers, and Comfort Zone: A Tale of Suspense; a different type of mystery that features a conflicted character who suffers PTSD from war. He wrote his best-selling memoir Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story: A Gripping True Story of Britain’s Biggest Drug Bust, which will be made into a movie.

    I first met Steve on Twitter when I noticed the ads for his books. The title Who The F$#@K Am I? was unusual, and of course, I had to find out the answer. That led me to buying the book and signing up for his newsletter and Facebook author group. Steve put out a request for writers to participate in a mystery anthology he was putting together. I contacted him and agreed to submit my work. I’m proud that I published two stories in “Death Among Us: A Murder Mystery Anthology”, a book that features the work of ten international writers. Although I haven’t met Steve in person, I feel like I know him and consider him a mentor and friend. I’m also a member of Steve’s Fan Club. Members have the opportunity to be beta readers and read ARCs plus write reviews. I’ve had the pleasure of reading all of his books that way.

    • Now let’s hear from Steve! Tell us about yourself Steve.  Where do you live? Where did you grow up and attend school?

    Many people know me as Steve, but I use my full given name – Stephen – on my book covers. I have no idea why. I’m a Brit but have lived in the Philippines for the past five years. I grew up in Huyton, Liverpool during the Beatles era and saw them perform live once in the Cavern before they became famous. I consider myself fortunate to have attended a grammar school before they were disbanded in the name of ‘social equality’ which is just a phrase meaning a dumbing down of an education system that wasn’t broken. I didn’t go to university until my late forties.

    • Are you married or single? Any children or pets?

    Happily married with two boys who keep me young and two puppies, Hershey and Cookie.  

    • Are you employed now? Retired? If so, what were your previous occupations?

    Supposed to be retired but writing books seems like a full-time job to me. I was a detective in the UK for fourteen years and then a London barrister for another fourteen years. At various times, I have also worked as a sales manager, truck driver, motorbike courier, heavy plant operator, and hospital porter.  

    • Writers always talk about coffee a lot, even posting memes and cartoons. Are you a coffee drinker? Do you eat any specific food/snacks you while writing? Do you listen to music or need silence?

    Yes, I like coffee, but only two cups per day. Too much caffeine is not a good thing. I don’t eat or listen to music while I write. I’m too busy ‘seeing scenes’ taking place in my mind before I transfer them to paper (Word).  

    •  What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

    I love watching movies and TV shows mainly on Netflix. It’s my way of unwinding at the end of the day accompanied by a cold beer.

    • Would you consider yourself a reader? What types of books do you like to read?

    I am a reader. I enjoy crime thrillers mostly, but I am also partial to good historical fiction or any interesting biography.

    • Have you ever taken any writing courses?

    No. I’m self-taught using online resources and still learning.

    • Can you tell us what are your opinions about censorship and the media?

    As a principle, I disagree with censorship, but I recognize the need to protect minors. I believe in freedom of expression, a free press, and open, transparent society. However, I do advocate that with freedoms come responsibilities. I detest state secrecy and wish I could abolish all freedom of information legislation. Now, there is an oxymoron.

    • Tell us about your books, especially your newest one. Why did you decide to publish it and what was your inspiration?

    My latest release is titled ‘The Secret: A Prequel to the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers.’ I decided to write and publish it because the many fans of the series expressed some dismay at the then conclusion of the series in Book Three of the original trilogy. I’m glad I did resurrect Regan as it has been well-received, and that prequel is now permafree everywhere as an intro to the series. I now plan a fourth book in the series. I also have Book Two in the Detective Matt Deal series – ‘Mayhem’ – which was released November 25, 2020.

    • What type of characters do you enjoy writing about?

    Flawed protagonists coping with their own demons.  

    • What is the theme of your book? What genre is it and who are your readers? Is it set in a certain time period?

    ‘The Secret’ is a crime mystery/thriller set in 1960s and 1970s England tracing Steve Regan’s first involvement as an undercover cop. Type of reader is an interesting question. As a generalization I would have to say mainly women aged between forty and ninety. Yes, I do have some nonagenarians in my fan base.

    • How do you come up with ideas for your book (s)?

    Partly my life experiences inspire a story but also news events that pique my interest.

    • Do you self-publish or are you with a traditional publishing company?

    As I write this, I am considering an offer to publish one of my books – my undercover cop memoir. That offer is from a prestigious UK mainstream publisher. There are pros and cons that I need to carefully consider. As for the remainder of my books, all fiction, they are self-published.

    • Writing can be an emotionally-draining and stressful pursuit for many authors. Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

    Don’t write if you don’t enjoy it. If you enjoy it, write, write, and write some more. You get better every time you write a book. 

    • How do you market your books?

    Mainly through building an email list and cross-promotions with like-minded authors. I have also used Facebook ads with some success.

    • Do you have a blog or website? Where can readers buy your book?

    My website can be found at stephenbentley.info. ‘The Secret’ is free to website visitors who join my mailing list. I used to blog there too but lately I found that too time-consuming and now concentrate on writing books. Retail links for all my books can be found at Books2Read.

    • What is one surprising thing you would like your readers to know about you?

    I was aged fifty when called to the Bar of England and Wales.  

    • Do you have a quote from someone else such an author or a quote from a book/song/motto?

    Perhaps this motto – Illegitimi non carborundum (translated as “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”)

    • Please tell us about your book, Steve.

    The Secret: A Prequel to the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers  

    What is the secret capable of destroying a glorious achievement and a source of national pride? A secret so enormous it could not be told for many years, until now. British undercover cop Steve Regan experiences a baptism of fire when he investigates ‘THE SECRET.’ New and old Steve Regan fans can now discover him at the beginning of his crime-busting career in this gripping thriller. Join Regan in this prequel to the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thriller series by tagging along with Steven Hanrahan as a young C.I.D. detective in 1970’s Liverpool until his world is shattered by a tragic event involving a fatal car crash.

    The young detective is hand-picked for a dangerous undercover assignment. On accepting the role, he moves to London – the ‘Smoke,’ adopting a new identity. The legend of Steve Regan is born with a foolproof backstory so he can infiltrate the international crime gang behind England’s biggest sporting secret. A secret so shocking it could taint the image of British sport irreversibly if it were ever divulged. What is that secret? Is it worth dying for?

    •  Where can readers buy The Secret?

    Free on all sales channels and on my website once the reader signs up to my mailing list.

     

    What are the links for your social media and website?

    Facebook

    Twitter

    Amazon

    Thank you so much Steve! I really enjoyed learning more about you and your writing life. I hope you’ll return with updates and news about more books.

    ***More of Steve’s thoughts about censorship and using swearing in writing will be in a future blog. Should authors use swearing or ‘bad words’ in books for authenticity or should they try to please all readers who may be offended?

     

  • Reviews

    Review of Mayhem: A Detective Matt Deal Thriller (Detective Matt Deal Thrillers, #2

    Review of Mayhem: A Detective Matt Deal Thriller (Detective Matt Deal Thrillers, #2

    Writer Stephen Bentley, a former UK police Detective Sergeant, pioneering undercover cop, and barrister has published a sequel in the series about Detective Matt Deal, who is still seeking revenge for the death of his daughter Mercy. A New Jersey Mob boss puts out a contract on Deal for his part in the killings of his hit man. A journey to Mexico finds Matt in the midst of a cartel in the drug wars and face to face with a ruthless capo.

    Bentley provides some back story for those who haven’t read Mercy, although Mayhem is a stand-alone novel. The book is easy to read, entertaining and a fast-paced action story. New characters make an appearance in addition to familiar ones from the first book. Readers of Bentley’s fiction won’t be disappointed.

     

  • Reviews

    Review of Mayhem: A Detective Matt Deal Thriller #2

     

    Writer Stephen Bentley, a former UK police Detective Sergeant, pioneering undercover cop, and barrister has published a sequel in the series about Detective Matt Deal, who is still seeking revenge for the death of his daughter Mercy. A New Jersey Mob boss puts out a contract on Deal for his part in the killings of his hit man. A journey to Mexico finds Matt in the midst of a cartel in the drug wars and face to face with a ruthless capo.

    Bentley provides some back story for those who haven’t read Mercy, although Mayhem is a stand-alone novel. The book is easy to read, entertaining and a fast-paced action story. New characters make an appearance in addition to familiar ones from the first book. Readers of Bentley’s fiction won’t be disappointed.

    Mayhem will be published on November 25, 2020. Pre-orders are available now on Amazon.

     

     

  • Books,  Reading

    Comfort Zone: A Tale of Suspense

    ​I just finished reading Comfort Zone: A Tale of Suspense by Stephen Bentley, former undercover British detective, now crime author. The book is different than Bentley’s previous novels. Comfort Zone is a thriller and a crime story, but not as fast-paced as The Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers Trilogy or Mercy: A Detective Matt Deal Thriller. Comfort Zone is more complex.
    Phil Mercer is one of the most intriguing characters I’ve read about in a long time. Mercer is a British veteran who returns home from the war in Afghanistan and studies law, then becomes an attorney in London. He is also a murderer who is not completely evil even though he’s done evil things.  He defends the poor and underprivileged citizens. Phil Mercer is not a one-dimensional character. The author writes about the humanity of a person who has taken the lives of other people. Like when watching a tragic play, I felt sympathy for Mercer at various times and then cringed at the murder scenes. The novel is also a mystery because the parts of the story come together in the end, similar to how the different parts of Mercer meld into one. I think he comes to accept his fragments and acknowledges them.
    The title comes from the name of a parlor game at a dinner party that Mercer gives for his friends and colleagues in the legal profession. He’s invited them because he wants to show off his cooking skills and to play the game he’s invented. Every detail of the menu, the wines, the guests and the game is planned with precision.
    Phil Mercer suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) from his war experiences. His role as an attorney is stressful, but he’s able to do a good job. The author uses Mercer’s military background to explore issues that many veterans experience such as long-lasting, even permanent, mental, and physical illnesses. Many serious traumas may cause PTSD, but since Mercer is a combat veteran, his wartime experiences continue to influence his life. War always has an enemy no matter whose side you’re on, and Mercer’s nemesis haunts him when he attempts to live a normal life. The opposing roles of Phil Mercer, a murderer given in to the temptation to kill, and an attorney, driven by order, logic, and law, make for a unique protagonist. Bentley does a great service in the way he writes about Mercer’s interior dialogue, hallucinations, depression, and memory problems. He does not make Phil Mercer a stereotype of a mentally ill person. Mercer is a sympathetic character; one who is approachable for the reader. I liked Phil Mercer so much that I can visualize his character in further novels by the author.
    Told through flashbacks, dream sequences, and various points of view, Comfort Zone is a first-rate story. Crime novel fans will be entertained by Comfort Zone. I highly recommend reading this book. I received this book from the author as an ARC.

    The release date for Comfort Zone is August 3.  Pre-order price is 99 cents/pence. Paperback is coming soon.

     

    https://books2read.com/b/4Dygjr

     

  • family

    BEST COOK IN THE WORLD

    mother-and-daughters-cooking

     J. C. Penney used to have a store right on the Circle in Indianapolis. The front was curve around from one corner to the next like all the buildings, a hundred windows facing the street. I counted them, but I could be wrong. Mommy wasn’t sick that day when we rode the bus downtown to the Circle. She had clothes on, clothes to go outside in, not the long gown she kept on all day. And she did not have on the old corduroy robe she wore in the kitchen. We had breakfast that day. Mommy  cooked boiled eggs and made buttermilk biscuits. The table was wiped clean that morning and the place mats had not a speck of food anywhere. The ashtrays were empty, and the vodka bottles were pushed down deep into the bottom of the trash can.

     My little sister Josie sat next to me in her own chair. The big ugly men hadn’t come in the night before to take up all the chairs, to take up all the room. There was no hurry. We had enough food to fill our stomachs-hot cocoa, not warm water in our cups. The neighbors stared at Mommy and me and Josie. Cissy was with us, but not yet born. She was in Mommy’s big stomach.

    Doors opened quickly soon as we stepped out on the porch. There were so many curtains pulled back so the old women could watch us on our way to the bus stop. The only one who said hello was Mr. Dombrowski. His wife was dead a long time ago from a disease that ate her brain. That made me feel scared every time he told me. Every morning, he’d stroll by our house and yell to me, “Tell your mother she’s pretty!”, then he’d keep on going. He never came into our house, never slammed glasses down hard on our kitchen table, or never talked so loud that I couldn’t fall asleep.  Mr. Dombrowski  didn’t play the record player loud and he never dropped cigarette ashes on me or my sister. He never burnt us accidentally when we passed him in the hallway with a lighted cigarette sticking out of his fingers. Our neighbor never drank all our orange juice or left stinky whiskey bottles out on the counter. I never had to push his drinking glasses away or the ice-cube trays just a bit so I could use the toaster. I didn’t have to spend many minutes listening to his stories as he clenched my elbow. He had not made Mommy spend all her money for those things they needed for their parties.

     I never had to search on my knees for any of those shiny black capsules dropped on the floor from Mr. Dombrowski.  He didn’t enter our home, so he couldn’t do anything stupid like that. Josie thought the pills were pretty and swallowed three of them one morning that some other man dropped on the floor.  That morning, Mr. Dombrowski held the door open for Mommy as she rushed to throw Josie in the back seat of the station wagon. He sat with me on the steps outside, brought me butter and bread with lemonade, and then a thermos of soup later on for dinner. He made a bed for me on the porch swing with a pillow and blanket until Mommy brought Josie home.

    But that other morning when Mommy took us shopping, he winked at us three girls going downtown to Monument Circle. The old women in their aprons carefully watched us. When we got to the corner, I turned around. Two of them with their tightly-permed curls whispered and pointed in our direction.

    The driver smiled because he didn’t know us. Mommy had on lipstick and I carried my little white purse from Easter. We three were quiet until the bus finally pulled up on the Circle.

    “Watch your step young ladies” the driver called out to us, then we were caught up in the middle of a crowd. They were waiting to get in to the doors of J. C. Penney’s Back to School Sale. Mommy let us choose our favorite candy. She let us eat it in the store even though we were not supposed to. The sales lady measured our chests, our waists and shoe size.

    Mommy said with authority “My daughters each need two new uniforms with slips, underwear and everything. They need new shoes also. And where is the Infants Department?”

    We had more food for lunch in the coffee shop with all the turkey and dressing we wanted. I asked for extra mashed potatoes and gravy. There was chocolate milk and butterscotch pie. The men and women in the other booths talked nice to each other. They told jokes, laughed and grinned at us in a friendly way.

    Our last stop was the sewing department. Mommy bought fabric for new living room curtains. Josie and I sat at the tables flipping through page of patterns for dresses. Josie hadn’t cried all day. I left her for a minute. Those little spools of thread caught my eye. I chose pink, my favorite color and a package of shiny gold safety pins from the display tables. I opened up my little purse and put them inside. Then I returned to Josie still sitting and looking at pattern books.

    Mommy got each of us by the hand.  The bag of fabric dangled from her elbow. At the door, she let us buy gum balls from the penny machine. We stood in the crowd waiting for our bus, the one that would carry us back to our neighborhood. Father O’Brien came up and tapped Mommy on the shoulder.

    “Fancy seeing you ladies downtown! You’re looking fine. God bless you.” He said he had business at the government building, and then he hurried away. But then he turned around, came a little closer to us and smiled.

    “Hope to see you, Mrs. O’Brien, and the family this Sunday.” And he blessed us again.

    It was nearly dark, almost supper time when we stepped off the bus at the corner. Mommy had made meatloaf in the morning. Now all she had to do was pop it into the oven. None of the neighbors saw us come home. I begged to peel the potatoes.  Josie sat at the table with her coloring book.

    “Mommy, shouldn’t you take off your hat to cook supper?”  She came over to me and gave me a great big hug.

    My mother was the best cook in the world.