52 Photo Challenge: Week 16-Flat Lay

“Hark, now hear the sailors cry,
Smell the sea, and feel the sky,
Let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic.”
—Van Morrison

This week my assignment for the 52 photo challenge was to create something with a flat-lay setup. It’s supposed to be an image where you lay objects out on a flat surface and photograph them from above. I wasn’t thrilled about this idea, especially since I was spending the weekend along the beautiful California coast. So, you will see the first few images are sort of my attempt at this (the sand is a flat surface, right?) #4 might be the closest I got and it’s not my favorite.

Instead, I offer you mostly shots from my weekend away. Let me know if you have a favorite and thanks for the birthday wishes. I’m feeling full of saltwater kisses and ocean breezes.





















  • Photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D and edited with ON1 Photo RAW
  • If you want to join the 52 Photo Challenge, you can find all the information at nicolesy.com

52 Photo Challenge
Week 1: Bokeh
Week 2: Silhouette
Week 3: Black and White
Week 4: Motion Blur
Week 5: Texture
Week 6: Framing
Week 7: Leading Lines
Week 8: Negative Space
Week 9: Patterns
Week 10: Symmetry
Week 11: Green
Week 12: Sidelight
Week 13: Sense of Scale
Week 14: One Lens
Week 15: Series

poetry: transmogrify me

i’ve been to this beach before
but i’m thinking of that one
time when i cried into the wind 
begging spirits to save my trapped
soul and something answered. not mermaid

goddesses wrapped in shimmery light, but
a sea hag draped in foggy 
sadness. “you want out?” she hissed
through cracked lips. i nodded feeling
the air leave my lungs. slippery

quick, an eel through water, my
knees buckled as knarled hands placed 
a rotted seaweed crown upon my 
matted hair. “i deserve nothing but
pain,” i managed to say. manic

laughter roaring with the waves, calling
me a liar. red-bearded pirates
pointed rusty blades at my pale
neck. i ran. and ran. for
years. and years. jellyfish growing fat

within my belly. sharp spiny barnacles
grow under my breasts and between 
my thick thighs. ice forming heavy
around my heart, protecting soft
starfish memories from spilling. but now

oh now

my seaweed crown is slipping. walking
in my old footsteps, i sing
“you are special” under my breath
wondering if i believe. a lilting
voice joins mine and I follow

into a narrow rocky cave. here
a siren gently whispers seashell songs
which vibrate through my body, rocking
me like golden sunset waves. warm
fingers find my face. “you are 

loved,” she sings. “time to forgive
yourself.” salty tears fall from hazel
eyes as slimy seaweed slips onto
the cold sandy ground. i see 
not her beautiful garments nor her

phosphorescent glow, but feel her spinning 
me around. and around. strong hands 
pluck hardened crusty foulers from
my body and smashes them hard onto 
the uneven stone walls. powder turns 

powerful. light burns brighter. i shudder
as the foggy vines the sea 
witch weaved deep within me unwind
faster. and faster. healing. releasing. forgiving.
without a word, the siren leaves.

lavender flowers fall around me. “goodbye”
i say under the golden sky.
four sandpipers watch me walk across
the beach. lighter. they don’t run
but i do. time starts again.

sandpiper friends.

my cave.

the view looking out from the inside of the cave. do you see the siren?

Note: I celebrated my birthday today by spending hours wandering the beach taking photos and writing poetry. I hope you enjoy this poem of healing and that it helps you too.

The song I was singing is “Special” by Lizzo. Watch the music video. It will do your heart some good.

52 Photo Challenge: Week 14-One Lens

“Behind the camera, I was invisible. When I lifted it up to my eye it was like I crawled into the lens, losing myself there. and everything else fell away.”—Sarah Dessen

This week my assignment for the 52 photo challenge was to use one lens. I only have one and was originally going to try and modify the challenge by setting it at only 50mm. However, once on the trip, it felt like one too many things to worry about. Instead, I focused on capturing things I love—lichen, moss, and the dark greens of the Oregon and Washington coast. I spent time as a fairy sitting in the woods and as a romantic staring at the ocean waves.

The cemetery shots are from one of the oldest in Washington State, Oysterville Cemetery. The broken wagon, chuch, bible, and roof photo are from the Oregon ghost town of Golden. It was established in the early 1840s and some of its buildings were restored in the 1950s as film sets for the TV show “Bonanza” and a few Western movies.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every day could be filled with mossy adventure? Let me know what photo you like best and have a wonderful week.







  • Photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D and edited with ON1 Photo RAW
  • If you want to join the 52 Photo Challenge, you can find all the information at nicolesy.com

52 Photo Challenge
Week 1: Bokeh
Week 2: Silhouette
Week 3: Black and White
Week 4: Motion Blur
Week 5: Texture
Week 6: Framing
Week 7: Leading Lines
Week 8: Negative Space
Week 9: Patterns
Week 10: Symmetry
Week 11: Green
Week 12: Sidelight
Week 13: Sense of Scale

Photography: Astoria, Oregon

“It’s OK, you’re a Goonie, and Goonies always make mistakes.”

When I was a small child I’d always watch “The Goonies” when I was sick or sad. It was my comfort movie and I can practically recite it for you word for word. This week I moved my mom from northern California to a small town in Washington very near Astoria, Oregon. When I found out it’s the home to several filming locations for “The Goonies” it felt right. I’m sad and I need my comfort movie.

After taking two days to drive here and get my mom settled in her new place, we spent the day exploring all the filming locations around the area. We had deep conversations about our connection and my mom told me she was proud of me. It feels like a big moment in my life. We always want our mom, but she needs to do this for her.

“Don’t you realize? The next time you see the sky, it’ll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it’ll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here.”
—Mikey, The Goonies

The jailhouse from the opening scene. It’s now a museum filled with artifacts from the film.

I was just a wee bit excited! “Out in the garage, ORV, four-wheel drive… …bullet holes the size of matzo balls!”—Chunk

Chester Copperfield’s wallet, the skeleton key, doubloon, and a Lou Gehrig baseball card.

They had Data’s complete outfit including his pinchers of power! Data is played by Ke Huy Qua who just won an Oscar for my new favorite movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

“Yo. Hi guys. How’s it going? This is Willie… One-Eyed Willie. Say hi, Willie. Those are my friends… the Goonies.”—Mikey

“Goonies never say die!” The actual house. It was less than a minute from our hotel.

This is the window at the beginning of the film where Chunk presses his pizza and milkshake against the glass to watch the police chase the Fratellis.

The building is now a bowling alley and was closed but we all took turns reenacting it on the outside. Isn’t my mom cute?

This coffee shop is featured during the opening scene when Rosalita is crossing the street.

The Flavel House Museum is where Mikey’s dad waves to the kids when they are riding through town on their bikes.

It’s an interesting and slightly creepy house. My daughter did some research after we left and found out they left out some big parts of the family history.

What a thrill to stand here.

Beautiful beach. Not sure if those are the rocks that lined up with the doubloon, but I choose to believe they are.

My daughter and mom.

After our Goonies exploring we visited two spots my mom loves.

Flying together down the path in the wild winds.

  • Photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D and edited with ON1 Photo RAW

Poetry: Dolphins in the Green

within this wild cacophony of silence
sit the words we don’t say anymore
scattered wispy threads of dead conversations
tucked into seat cushions and under rugs

watching with its tranquil virescent leaves 
serenely placed on a lacy white doily
the tenacious fuzzy buds burst forth
to dance and sway as vermillion dolphins

“look at that,” I half-whisper
glowing screen still cradled in my palm
your tired eyes sweep the room
smiling when you see the fresh blooms

are you remembering roaring ocean waves?
swigging rum under the starry night sky?
black stone beaches, curvy thin roads?
slippery volcano hikes amongst the misty clouds?

I’m too afraid to ask anymore
with the ghosts of words dancing about
so instead I silently smile back
staring at the plant by the window

The Octopus in the Room | A Short Story

“Healing winds with all their might 
reveal an eight arm gift of ancient sight.”
-The Secret Guide to Ocean Magic

Tracing the dark blue waves stitched onto the white comforter with her pointer finger, Meri takes a deep steadying breath. There’s nothing to do right now but rest. She did everything she could. It’s not her fault.

There’s a sense she’s forgetting something, but the smell of peppermint tea distracts the feeling away. Dressed in warm, soft pajamas of pale pink, she rises from bed and slips on a pair of matching fur-lined slippers. Her arms and legs feel heavy and weak.

She’s in a small, square room with no windows. There’s a large blue octopus painted onto a white brick wall. An unknown wind blows her thick brown hair about her face for a moment before sticking to her damp, pink cheeks. She closes her eyes tight and a murky image slowly comes into focus.

There’s a golden chandelier, a dance floor of soft brown wood, and a jazz band playing in matching maroon suits. She’s wearing a midnight blue silk dress with her hair piled in ringlets on the top of her head. She feels far more grown-up than ever before. This is what her life will be like now. A life she can create all by herself far from the reach of her abusive parents. She gets to call the shots.

“There’s a forest of life inside your green eyes,” a young man says while holding Meri in his arms. Handsome and tall, she can feel his strong heartbeat against her palm. His lips are plump and pink and his hair is long and golden. “I’m lost when I’m with you.”

Dressed in a sparkling silver dress, a beautiful woman bumps into the young couple and drops her cocktail drink to the floor. Its pink liquid sloshes all the way to the wall, pooling along the edge. The floor tilts further sideways and someone screams. Meri opens her eyes.

There’s a delicate teacup covered in tiny pink starfish steaming on a wooden end table across the room. Beside it sits a thick book with a deep blue cover and a pair of golden brown reading glasses. She takes a wobbly step toward it.

“Well, I suppose I could do some reading.”

Her voice sounds crackly in the quiet room as if her throat is swollen. Has she been screaming? Questions waft away before answers can be formed. The sound of waves lapping against wood can be heard in the distance.

Meri sits in a white cushioned chair and covers her legs with a heavy wool blanket which smells faintly of saltwater and is the dark green color of wet seaweed. Her long brown hair feels matted and dirty, but when she runs her fingers through it she’s surprised to find it silky and soft.

The book has no title and no author. It’s a picture book of sorts but seems unbound by the conventions of normal storytelling. Instead, it meanders between two stories, both of which Meri finds herself getting emotionally invested in within moments.

The first story is of a tiny piglet, the runt of the litter, who lives in a petting zoo in the middle of a noisy town. This plump ball of pink with a curly tail dreams of running away to attend a summer camp near the ocean so it can swim with dolphins. He tries various ways to escape but the evil zookeeper always catches him and throws him back into his metal cage.

The second story is of an immortal being living in the deepest, darkest part of the ocean. A creature of eight who spends its days hiding alone within a cave of bright silver coral created by collecting bits and pieces of shipwrecks and hammering them together. Annoyed by the noises and pollution of the world, it lives a solitary and peaceful existence. It floats gracefully in the icy waters often dancing among its garden of tiny phosphorus plants cultivated through years of careful nurturing.

On a particularly busy weekend at the petting zoo, the piglet sneaks into the backpack of a small girl with bouncy blonde pigtails. Within hours, the small animal finds itself off on a grand adventure aboard a giant white ship headed into the vast ocean. Its happiness, however, shifts when a terrible storm rolls across the glittery water, turning the soft smooth surface into terrible walls of white that crash hard into the sides of the ship. The girl tries to hold onto the piglet, but it slips from her grasp and into the choppy sea.

Meri shuts the book with a snap. Her body feels terribly cold and she looks around panicked about the wall of white and the piglet. Instead, she sees the muted lights of the room blink softly and feels the chair beneath her roll from side to side. It’s only a story, she tells herself. She stares at the white brick wall with the octopus. I’m in a room.

The number one hundred and twelve flashes golden along the wall and then disappears. Meri rubs sand from her eyes. Terror and sadness flush through her and then quickly dissipates as her eyes fall on the teacup beside her. The pretty cup with the tiny starfish.

Meri takes a sip and tastes strong herbs with just a hint of honey. She’s amazed to find the glass remains hot and full no matter how much she drinks. Feeling warmth return to her body she picks the book up and thumbs through the pages until she finds where she left off.

Yes, the piglet was in the water. Its piercing cry for help echoes through the deep blue waters, a sound that reaches the very depths of the ocean where the creature of eight resides. Immediately concerned by such a plea, it moves toward the surface with flickering quickness. After several minutes of desperately searching, it finds the source of the sound—a small piglet paddling frantically for its life.

“What are you doing here?” the creature asks.

The piglet has tears in its eyes but brightens at the friendly voice it can hear but not see.

“I wanted to swim with dolphins. Are you a dolphin?”

The primordial creature is moved by the sweetness of the young piglet. It’s been through so much already and it doesn’t want it to suffer further. With magic as old as Earth itself, the creature morphs into the shape of a dolphin with a sleek grey body, a pointed nose, and a wide crescent tail. Surfacing, it swims in a circle splashing the tiny pig’s snout and ears.

“Yes! I am a dolphin and I’ve come to rescue you.”

The piglet squeals with delight.

“A real dolphin is saving me! Wow!”

Working together the piglet climbs onto the back of the creature. They swim through the foggy remains of the ship; twisted pieces of metal, empty orange flotation devices, dinner plates, and splintered wood. There are other shapes in the water. Shapes that the piglet finds scary.

“Where are the people?” the piglet asks.

Answering with a series of whistles and squeaks, the creature of eight leaps out of the water skipping from wave to wave as if it’s flying. The piglet giggles and feels the sadness of the moment before fleeing in a rush of warmth and love. It’s going to be okay. There’s nothing to be done right now but rest. You did everything you could. It’s not your fault.

Meri sits the book on her lap again. Sunlight shines through a crack in the ceiling and the calls of seagulls break through the silence of the small, warm room. One hundred and twelve people died on the ship. She was saved by something she can’t see but can feel. Its presence radiates around her like a warm hug. So much was lost, but this creature saved her and gave her a moment of peaceful rest. Gratitude brings tears to her eyes.

“Thank you.”

Her voice sounds stronger now. She takes another sip of the warm tea, stands, and drops the book to the floor. The door opens a crack and she hears voices calling across the sand. Her body suddenly begins to shake as she falls through the door of room 112 and onto the cold, wet sand. Her true love has perished, but she’s still alive.

“Over here!” a voice calls.

“We found a survivor!”

Author’s note: I’ve started a lot of my short stories lately with a made-up quote. It’s becoming a bit of a calling card for me and might prove useful when I begin organizing the best of these stories into a collection to publish next Spring. As I’m looking at healing and transition right now, it felt right to center my story around an octopus as they have long been symbols of renewal and regrowth. I hope this story brings you comfort if you find yourself needing the reminder you did your best and you are going to be okay.

*The photos above were taken at the Lamplighter Inn in Bandon, Oregon. It’s a super cute place to stay with ocean-themed rooms. I’m afraid they don’t actually offer free tea, super comfy pajamas, and magical books. Not yet anyway.

Short Story Challenge | Week 36

Each week the short stories are based on a prompt from the book “Write the Story” by Piccadilly, Inc. This week’s prompt was to write a story that takes place in one room. We had to include the words petting zoo, handsome, unbound, annoy, weekend, invest, immortal, piglet, cocktail, and camp.

Write With Us

Prompt: A story pulled from today’s headlines and rewritten
Include: boxer, cherry blossom, magic, implement, artwork, safety, chime, chain link, towel, and ingredient

My 52-Week Challenge Journey

The Broken Shell | A Short Story

Where the rolling sea meets the sand
you will find the ancient ocean man.
Sit still and listen if you can
to broken sea shells in shaking hands.”
-Old Sea Proverb

Vanora squats beside a rotting pile of kelp to examine the tiny insects buzzing around it. The golden tinge of sunset makes their wings appear delicate and translucent. They must be a kind of fly or gnat and she wonders how long their lifespan is. Probably days or perhaps only hours.

A wave of nausea hits and she falls forward in the sand on aching, aging knees. When did she last eat something? Breakfast was a large bowl of fresh strawberries and a cup of weak coffee in an off-white mug with a slight chip along the rim. She’d almost cut her lip but noticed at the last second and turned the mug.

The rest of the day is blurry and Vanora doesn’t like when her memories aren’t clear. Her grey hair smells of coconut shampoo and it’s braided back so the wind doesn’t tangle it. She must have showered and taken a nap. She feels clean and rested in black leggings and a loose purple sweater, but awfully hungry. She probably forgot to eat again.

For most of her life, she’s been a writer, always scribbling herself notes, poems, snippets of song lyrics, and endless to-do lists. Her novels were never on the New York Times Best Seller list, but she’s proud of how they reflect her as a mother and a woman. In the last few years, however, the words won’t come. The notes she leaves herself now are cryptic and upsetting. It’s as if she speaks a different language each day and there’s no global translator.

It’s hard to accept such a drastic change within herself, particularly as most of the time she feels like the same person—viewing the world through a lens of flowery words, colorful contrasts, and abstract connections. Yet her mind doesn’t hold everything at once anymore—sand running through a sieve collecting only the bits and pieces large enough to not fall through. It feels terribly unfair.

Sitting back, she touches the slimy seaweed with her pointer finger and sadness suddenly ripples through her chest, making it hard to breathe. This plant provided shelter, food, and protection to generations of sea life only to be ripped from its foundation and deposited onto the sandy shore like a banana peel thrown in an overflowing trash can. Or like an old woman who gave everything for her family only to find herself living alone in a travel trailer moving from town to town.

Waving her hands frantically to scare off the bugs, she lifts the limp plant up by the bulb, runs to the edge of the water, and tosses it as far as she can. The roaring waves mask any plunking sound but she imagines it’s similar to dropping dumplings into a boiling pot of chicken broth. Bloop.

Her children always loved soup night sitting around the large wooden table throwing crusts of bread at each other. It’s been years since they were all together—scattered now like sand in the wind. Maybe she should call them all to meet her by the sea. Would they come? Life can be so busy for those in the thick of it. This she remembers.

Vanora stands and brushes the wet sand off her clothes as best she can. There’s nobody on the beach except a few seagulls and a scraggly-looking crab missing a leg. She watches him scuttle sideways, struggling to cross the sand, and is struck by how similar they both are. Unable to move as they like. Pondering what’s next. Needing help.

Grabbing the large reddish shell with both hands she lifts the terrified crab from the sand and carries it into the icy water. The cold seeps into her pants and it requires all her focus to keep balanced, but she doesn’t stop until she’s certain the crab won’t be dragged back instantly to shore.

“Good luck, little fellow.”

With a flick of her wrists, she lets it go and it immediately disappears beneath the bubbly white foam. Vanora feels a pang of jealousy and wonders if anywhere will feel like home again. It’s been years since she’s felt the comforting feeling of belonging, but it feels more like decades. Lost memories and lost time. When did loneliness become her only constant?

Finding a large piece of driftwood to use as a backrest, Vanora sits in the sand with her legs out in front of her. The blue of her nail polish has chipped and she’s shivering from the cold. The sun continues to inch toward the water, painting the sky with thick, vivid brushstrokes of pink and gold. Nature’s nightly masterpiece always changes and surprises her.

“Every starry galaxy morphs and sings
caught within its own orbital rings, 
but it’s humans who have the power
choosing how to spend every hour.”

An eerie deep voice crackles beside Vanora and she turns to find a tall, wrinkled man sitting in the sand beside her staring at the sea. His limbs are long and crooked and he’s dressed in only a pair of tattered brown pants. There are tears falling from his pale green eyes, cutting a path through his weathered, sandy face. Sadness, the great connector, erases all traces of fear from Vanora and she’s left with only peaceful curiosity.

It’s as if he’s simply another creature found along the shore—nothing less and nothing more. There’s a slick wetness about him as if he crawled out of the water moments before and perhaps he did. His feet are covered in sharp, white barnacles and his long, grey hair and beard are peppered with pieces of dark green seaweed. His speech is slow and careful.

“Skulls of restless men do lie
beneath the choppy waves and sky,
searching for what they already know
love transcends the moon’s bright show.”

These words are followed by a blank expression and silence. Vanora feels as if she should respond but the man has now opened a tiny burlap sack he pulled from his pants pocket. He unties a thin brown rope and withdraws several shells with long, pointy fingers. Grasping them loosely between his palms, he begins shaking them.

The colorful sky swirls and tilts until everything is cloudy and grey. All sounds are muted except for the shells within the ancient man’s hands. Vanora sways to their rhythm finding herself falling into a sleep-like trance. Images appear dream-like and cloudy swirling for a moment until they flash into vivid, sharp focus. One after another.

Rattle. Rattle. Rattle.

Thirty-five seconds are left on the timer before the roast is ready to be pulled out of the oven. Vanora wipes her hands on her faded flower apron and watches the children rushing around setting the table. The older boys carry the glassware while the little ones help with napkins and silverware. Her husband kisses her on the cheek before washing his hands for dinner. The baby fusses in the high chair.

Rattle. Rattle. Rattle.

Turning off the radio reports announcing another deployment of troops, the family gathers in the overgrown field behind the house in the late hours of the night. Using a borrowed brass telescope they take turns looking at the moon, Venus and Mars. They eat banana pudding and vanilla cookies from a thermos. The little ones pick flowers using a flashlight. Vanora wipes a tear from her husband’s cheek with her pointer finger.

Rattle. Rattle. Rattle.

Walking through the empty house Vanora checks one more time for anything left behind. She doesn’t want to leave her home, but the war isn’t stopping anytime soon and without her husband, she must do what she can to protect her children. Her youngest just learned to walk and he waddles across the clean wooden floors giggling at how much space there is to move. The oldest children fold their arms and scowl. Nothing she can say will fix this for them.

“What you have always given free
I have taken from the sea,
stolen from the ocean’s dark abyss
a broken memory shell to reminisce.”

Minutes pass into hours as the chilly night gives way to foggy dawn. Vanora sits stiffly with her eyes closed, locked in a slideshow of the past. She watches echoes of herself and her children grow up and change through vivid snapshots of her 70 years of life. Meetings and partings. Happiness and grief. Love and loss. Fullness and beauty transform into warming gratitude that radiates like flashing sparks through her tired body.

A hawk swoops across the sky calling loudly. She opens her eyes. The strange ocean man beside her is gone and the world looks bright and hopeful. A broken sand dollar sits beside her and she holds it close to her chest and smiles. Walking back to her small trailer the words flow as they haven’t in years, almost singing themselves within her, weaving with memories unlocked and free.

“What once was taken far from me
hidden inside the Tumtum tree,
this broken shell gimble gave
for might memory now to wave.

With burbling breath and flowing pen
I return back unto myself again,
for within my beating beamish heart
truth whispers of another fresh start.”

Author’s note: I’ve been working all week to get my house ready to host my mother-in-law’s memorial this Sunday and I left myself no time for writing. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if the words would come at all. I stayed up late last night, far into this morning, and this story is what developed. While it may not have stayed entirely on topic, I’m kind of proud of this one. Let me know what you think in the comments below and I’ll catch up on reading everyone’s blogs next week. I miss all your words!

Short Story Challenge | Week 35

Each week the short stories are based on a prompt from the book “Write the Story” by Piccadilly, Inc. This week’s prompt was to write a conversation between artists. We had to include the words skull, galaxy, expression, trash can, deployment, visitor, brushstroke, decade, forgot, and ponder.

For an added bonus this week, here’s a picture of Angelica as a unicorn and me as Raggedy Ann back in the early 2000s. She was simply the cutest. Still is.

Write With Us

Prompt: A story that takes place in one room
Include: petting zoo, handsome, unbound, annoy, weekend, invest, immortal, piglet, cocktail, and camp

My 52-Week Challenge Journey

Photography: Little Whale Cove

She closed her eyes. She drew her shoulders back. She took a slow and steady breath.
There was tension in the air. A weight. A wait. There was no wind. She did not speak. The world grew and stretched tight.

-Patrick Rothfuss, The Slow Regard of Silent Things

There’s nothing quite like standing on the beach at sunset and watching the sky and water play together with a dance of reflection and light. On our recent trip to Oregon my daughter and I sat apart from each other in complete silence watching the sun slowly descend into a bank of clouds. It was slow and sudden—a beautiful, fleeting moment of peace.

Today’s photo selections are of the place my father lives in Oregon called Little Whale Cove. It’s a hidden and magical gem we feel incredibly grateful to visit each summer. I hope you enjoy them!


Stay tuned: Next week I’ll be sharing photos of our visit to the West Coast Game Park Safari.

What to see more?

Poetry: Starfish

clinging to rocks with five arms
the starfish thrives under the sea
bounded by thick seaweed forests
and surrounded by free creatures
living complex underwater dramas
and grasping tightly for survival

diving under I hold my own survival 
like a bawling baby tight within strong arms
made tough by fighting external dramas
created through daring the churning sea
of man to see me worthy among creatures;
equal to those hiding within its dark forests

with wide womanly hips, I dance in forests
singing of my own truth, my own survival 
while being told I’m weak among creatures,
unworthy of spinning with wide open arms
spread like wings deep into the sea
of truth you’ve churned into polity dramas

you try and create new elaborate dramas 
within the shadowy, political forests
telling me my body floating in the sea
isn’t worthy of fighting for its own survival;
instead, you must tie my wide-spread arms
behind me like all wild and crazy creatures

for you know better, you zealot savage creatures
bent on pushing single-minded dramas
held in your pure, pious, and holy arms;
while I must run into the dangerous forests
without protection, fighting for survival
in your newly created shark-infested sea

with wide breaststrokes, I swim out to sea
feeling one with the wild salty creatures
who know the sacred truths of survival;
watching breezy seaweed dramas
dance before me in underwater forests,
hugging myself tightly with loving arms

the tempestuous sea hosts maddened dramas 
of all God’s creatures within wavy seaweed forests
filled with starfish arms reaching toward survival

untie my sweet womanly arms as I float in the sea
or dance in forests with its many feral creatures;
let me control the myriad dramas of my own survival

After spending a few days at the ocean I wrote this sestina to process what’s happening to woman’s rights in this country and ready myself to fight back. I’m not interested in debating the issue and any comments attempting to do so will be removed.

Photography: Dillion Beach

I’ve spent the last few days with my writing partner Anna, her daughter Bella, and my daughter Lola at Dillion Beach. While it’s over 100 degrees back home it’s been cool and overcast here. We’ve had several days filled with talking, relaxing, and writing. Considering the state of affairs in the world right now it felt extra special to be together as women near the healing energy of the ocean.

I struggled to photograph the beach in ways I haven’t before and I’m not sure I was very successful. I included a photograph of a fire truck as yesterday we came across a woman who broke her ankle on the hiking trail down to the beach. Anna held her leg and comforted her while the rest of us flagged down the first responders when they arrived. Watching how everyone came together to help this woman was a wonderful example of kindness in a world that feels a bit scary at the moment.

Thank you, as always, for your support of my blog. I hope you have a wonderful day.


Here’s a bonus photo my lovely and talented friend Anna took of me. You can find her incredible artwork and writings at loscotoff.com.