Make yourself at home. Put your feet up. Grab your favorite beverage and prepare to enjoy the reads.



From Mirror

Photo Art
by Elizabeth Munroz

Evade your eye.
Try to see as others do
what is desired or refused.
What went wrong.
Or right, then wrong.
Objectively, what hangs.
Pull yourself together.
Years are neither kind
nor cruel. You drag on.
The girl is gone.
Consider that it might be time to call in
a professional. Blood is fearless, runs
to meet a touch, indiscriminate, remembering
the first time it fell in love with the world, unaware
that now you are alone.

Karen Solie

From "Mirror"



Big Sur Coastline, California Highway One facing north near Bixby Bridge
Photo by Elizabeth Munroz

February 8 - 10, 2013
Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA

This workshop will help keep the channels open. We will evade, elude, and distract the censors that silence or limit us. We'll approach our experience from new angles to find the story or poem within the events of our lives. We'll question the stories we think are true and experience the power of not-knowing and discovery. For more information, click here. To register, call Esalen at 831-667-3005.

May 28 - June 2, 2013

Taught by Dorianne Laux, Marie Howe, and Ellen Bass
Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, NM

Marie Howe, Dorianne Laux, and Ellen Bass are poets who work to tell the truth in ways that show us the beauty of life, even in the midst of heartbreak and loss. If you want to encounter more truth in your poems, to express it in the most beautiful way possible, to craft poems that reflect the inextricable marriage of truth and beauty, love and death, the luminous and the ordinary, please join us for this special workshop. For more information about this workshop, visit the page here. To register, email Jen Petras at jpeachtree@yahoo.com.

with Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar
August 4 - 9, 2013
Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA

There is a world inside each of us that we know better than anything else, and a world outside of us that calls for our attention. Our subject matter is always right with us. The trick is to find out what we know, challenge what we know, own what we know, and then give it away in language. Mainly this will be a writing retreat—time to explore and create in a supportive community. Though we’ll focus on poetry, prose writers who want to enrich their language will find it a fertile environment. For more information, click here.

September 28 - October 5, 2013
La Serrania, Mallorca, Spain
In this small, intimate workshop, you have the opportunity to create writing that is more vivid, more true, more complex and powerful than you've been able to do before. This will be my seventh year teaching at La Serrania and it's always a deep pleasure to return. La Serrania is remote, gorgeous, and inspiring. If you'd like a chance to sink deeply into your writing, enjoy delicious food, go to sleep in a simple, yet elegant room, wake to sheep bells, this is the place. For more information,click here. For information about La Serrania, visit www.laserrania.com. To register, contact La Serrania. If you have questions, you can email Ellen.


"Oh, No!" She cried in the midst of her dream.

Oh No! awakened her, without the memory of why the foreboding and despondency was coming through her in waves like nausea.

The mirror told it all. The dark circles. The sleep tangled hair. The frown frozen on her face. The dried salt rimming her eyes. Telltale signs. Had it been a long dream? It had been bad?

What was it? Seeming to be her mother? Looking back against time? Regretting and understanding the missed opportunities for cherishing the joy? Instead dying into the darkness?


The awakening to the sense of the glass is half full. Half full with a cesspool of dark liquid threatening to suck her into the burning acid of heartache. It tortures her soul. She clings to the side of the glass. The fragile glass, like herself, ready to crack under the weight of pressure.

The cup of tea, the piece of toast, the swallowing of pills. Nothing to detract from the sensations of the dream still enveloping her.

Hang on! Hang on! It will go away!

Wash a dish. Feed the cat. Pace back and forth. Clean a cupboard. Keep distracted. It is like a persistent oily, ugly debt collector his foot well placed in the door. Hold him back! But, he has gained entry, and now inside, is at the shoulder, leaning his face too close, breathing stale air.

No escape! Grab a banana. Turn on the TV. Make some pudding. Clean off the counter. Put a banana in the pudding. Add some walnuts. Yes. Food will put it off. It used to do that so well. Like an alcoholic with the relief of a drink. But, no. Food doesn't do it anymore.

The grip is in the stomach. The eyes are tight. The forehead crinkled in pain. The cheeks begging for release of tears. The prayers for comfort. But, it does not work. So, it is another bad ride.

All she can do is wait it out.


1955 Grand Canyon Kids

I’m so hot and sweaty. It’s so stuffy in the car. We are so cramped and have been traveling so long. I hate the desert. It feels like the sand is in my eyes and every breath I take smells of dirt. I sure wish I could take a long bath. 

Seven people stuffed in a car is too much. I hate sitting next to my baby sister. She’s salty from crying and she smells like she peed in her pants.. I knew Dad should have stopped at that last gas station like we asked. I wish my mother could stop griping. Her voice grates on my nerves.

Even with all the windows open, it’s so hot. The sun burns through my eyelids. I can’t even shut out it’s evil fire. I don’t care if we are going to see the famous Grand Canyon. I have seen enough and traveled too long.

Finally! We are here and us kids pile out of the car. Uncle Caz wanders off quickly to take a million pictures. I’m so glad that old man’s onion breath is out of my face. I’m getting out of here and away from everybody to explore.

But, no, Me and Dave have to watch the kids while Mom and Dad sit in the car and talk. For once my big brother takes up on my side. We are NOT going to watch Wendy. She might fall in the canyon. (I might want to push her, maybe). Okay! Hooray! We don’t have to take her.

We run. We run so fast. We leave little Roger whining in the dust. Ha! Ha! But, he’ll catch up! He’s a big boy He can handle it. He won’t let us get away with it.

Ooooh! What’s this? Wow, Look at that mistiness. So magical, like the world isn’t quite finished up here, yet. Purples in the trees and orange canyon walls. All rosy, and...Hey! it’s not so very hot and stuffy anymore. Feel the breeze! Pine trees. Oooh! Smell the pine trees.

“Let’s stand on the railing, Roger, then you can look down. Down, deep into the bottom of the world.”

He looks at me and I realized he wants to know just how deep into the bottom of the world. “No, that’s not where the devil lives..... Look. There’s a river down there. See, the green, sparkling ribbon?”
Roger and I are on the railing. The metal feels cool as we lean our bodies against it. Dave points out the beautiful rainbow across the way on the north side of the canyon. “It must be raining over there.” He explains. I proudly think to myself, my big brother knows everything. He walks away to investigate something else.

Suddenly, my scalp feels, like someone is tickling me. Then, it feels like little bugs are crawling. “My hair! Oh, my hair, It feels so funny!”

“Ha! Look at you!” Roger says. “Your hair is standing up! Straight up,  in the air!”

“You, too!” I laugh. He squeals and giggles. I feel so buzzy, so vibrant, so tingly, so....What is it? This is a new feeling. I have never felt this way before. So strange! It is like a million butterflies are fluttering their wings all over me.

“HEY!” Dave shouts in his scary voice. “Get off that Rail! Right NOW! A deep chill of fear runs down my spine. Something tells me Dave’s command is an emergency. We run like wild Indians, back to the car. 

Dave scoops Roger up and runs with him, as the lightening strikes the very spot where we just took our last breath.

What Marriage is Not

What Marriage is Not 
by Elizabeth Munroz

These are my opinions based upon 65 years experience and more than one legal marriage. My happiest and longest relationship is not blessed by a piece of paper or a representative of any religious affiliation.

Marriage is not living happily ever after. Happiness comes from within and can be experienced by anyone married or not.

Marriage is not sustained by romantic love, as that can fluctuate naturally and often disappoints those who expect it to remain steady or constantly increase.

Marital bliss is not based upon who takes out the garbage or washes the dishes. Household maintenance is necessary in everyone's life to whatever extent they choose. Negotiating these chores by agreement is great but there always comes a time when one needs to take out the trash at midnight in a snow storm. If the person whose "job" that is happens to be sick or not home, the other person can do it with resentment or love, or just common sense the job must be done.

Marriage is not uncomplicated.

Marriage is not resentment free.

Marriage is not disagreement free, or turmoil free or argument or angst free.

Marriage is not static. Like any aspect of life, the relationship constantly changes. Expect to deal with it.

Marriage is not a clear contract with all the rules written in stone. People's interests change as they mature.

Couples need to negotiate how they live with one another when those changes occur.

Marriage is not about honesty. It's not always best to tell the truth. "Your hair looks awful!" "I hate that you shaved off your mustache!" "Honey, I had a one night stand while you were away last year." "Dearest, I did too, and I will tell you all the details, whatever you want to know."

Marriage is not where each person can be expected to live by the "rules". There's always the chance the beloved will find interest in another no matter how perfectly in love the couple may be.

Marriage is not about reading articles on how to improve the marriage, unless both agree to read and learn from and renegotiate based upon the information provided.

Marriage is not about completely understanding everything about the spouse. That is not possible no matter how hard you try. Even they do not understand everything about themselves. And if at any point they think they do (or you think it) things change. "I will never take a job away from here, we will never move away. I love it here. This place is my soul!" Never say never.

Marriage is not meant as a right to own another person or control another person's thoughts, beliefs or behaviors. Everybody knows this without me saying so. Right?

Marriage does not give the right to punish or get even with the other based upon one spouses standards of expectation. Ditto, as above.

Marriage is not based on unspoken understandings. As romantic as that sounds and as much as some couples may claim it is so, clear communication needs to occur regularly because people change their minds or have new information the other one does not have. It's like repairing and rebuilding a car engine together. You cannot read each other's minds to do the job, especially if you are on opposite sides of the car.

Marriage is not a God Given Gift only available to and sanctified by Christians or American politics. (sorry folks)

Marriage is not made holy by a representative from any religious affiliation, though one may obtain a piece of paper claiming it so.

Marriage is not made civil by any legal representative from any government agency, though one may obtain a piece of paper claiming it so.

Marriage is not just for a male and female of a certain age. This comment is based upon observation, cultural mores, and societal fickleness, and is subject to attempts to change by people elected into the role of lawmakers. Example: Jerry Lee Lewis

Marriage is not just for people of the opposite sex.

Marriage is not just for two people only.

Marriage is not based upon sexual unity.

Marriage is not constrained by the mores of society. If I want to marry my cat, I am marrying my cat without say so of others. (No, I am not married to my cat.)

Marriage is not based upon what the stories in books, movies and on TV portray.

Marriage is not whatever it is we all expect it to be. The reality of trying to live up to an agreed upon nebulous idea put forth by media, family, friends and our local culture is the epitome of incubated failure.

We will find out what marriage is by living under the label of it and each creating what their own marriage is. "Honey, we should always have holidays at my parents." "You're right, I can't stand mine." "Dearest, I like it when you wear leather." "I hate to wear leather. You do it!"

I have more opinions on what I have experienced of what marriage is not, but I have a doctor's appointment and must desist.

Would love to know what you think. Just click "comments" and go to it.


A Little Girl Writes a Story

Once upon a time there was a little boy who wanted a pony.

He asked his father.

His father said OK, when I get the mony.

Good said the little boy.

One day his father had 30 dollars.

One day his father said I got enotth mony to buy a pony.


He name it, Tiny.

His father said what did you name him?


The End


September 1970
Story by Laurie Shuman at age 6

A Blast From the Past - Not that 70's Show

Dear Mommy,

I miss you. I went to Judy's house and to Ricky's house.

I stepped on a nail and I had to have a tetanus shot.

I got the shot in the rump.

It feels like penicillin and it hurts.

I screamed bloody merder.

Carl just pooped in the bathtub.

Mike, My friend and me was climbing trees and Mike feel and I branch tore open his skin and he had to have sticthes, six of them.

I'm not going to climb trees no more he got so mad he kicked the tree.

I am having fun.

I love you. Laurie

Note: this letter was written on newspaper paper with pencil. All writing style, grammar and spelling are exactly as written. Laurie had gone to spend summer vacation in Western New York area with her Grandma and Grandpa. I think it was about 1972. The other children mentioned are Laurie's cousins.

I think it is funny that after writing about all these death defying adventures, she says, "I'm having fun"! I was mortified and worried to death i may never see my little girl again. When I called my mother to give her heck for not taking better care of my girl, she got me to shut up real quick when she said: "At least she got a Tetanus shot. I never did that for you!"

She was right. And just to clarify... it's not that my mother was unkind, just unaware. Back in those times kids got to run around and play unsupervised quite a bit, more so in my generation and considerably more in my mother's.  Today, I think kids don't get quite the enriching independent adventures as we did back then.


Two Bucks

I love to give out Two dollar bills.

 I had a stash of them I'd been saving for family Christmas gifting. I usually put them in with a card attached to a gift. My mother always said they were good fortune lucky money. 
"If you get a $2, put it away in a secret spot, and you will never be broke." Then she would smile and wink.

I never figured out what the wink was for until adulthood it finally dawned on me. It was true. It had nothing to do with luck. It had to do with the fact that as long as you still had that two dollar bill stashed away, you really weren't broke, even if you didn't have another penny to your name!. 

Now that Mom is gone and my children are all grown up, I give two dollar bills to my Grandkids and say the magic words my mom always said, but this generation is too smart to fall for it! They are the ones who wink at me!