a reflection on purpose

I’ve been living in a time of export
producing roughly-hewn artifacts, displaying
them like sand-stuccoed magnets for passing tourists,
filming plastic bags twirling haphazardly in the wind
and calling it art

my gardening, utilitarian
fertilized holes filled with seeds whose potential
will feed my family, fill our bellies, nourish
our bodies and offer healing when needed

every writing has had a purpose,
every piece an audience, interactions
with my daughter becoming distilled-down
social media posts to collect followers,
every intimate scene laid across the page
a check-mark in the catalogue of a pseudonym.

What can I make with this?
How can…

For my father, long after his stroke

Photo by lauren lulu taylor on Unsplash

He is the shining knight of my youth,
donning dark blue polyester baseball shorts.
My provider, my protector, in a
pseudo fu-manchu style mustache
dribbling down his chin like
moss on an oak tree.

He is a rugged outdoorsman,
sending me up tree stands and
digging with bare hands in the moist,
crumbly dirt of the garden in search
of worms that twist and writhe when
pierced with the metal barb of a fish hook.

The man who taught me to love
sitting around a camp fire, drinking
cheap canned beer, eating hot dogs…

Begin a novel with poetry

Photo by David Barajas on Unsplash

They are here. Brief, fleeting images poking at me like
impatient children; an antique cadence to the salt air rushing
past, the seductive give of pine needles beneath my feet, a
rumble of fog on the horizon waiting for the call to march ashore.

I witness them all in the moment, but they urge me into
the past, to a story yet written. Forbidden love, desperation, broken
bodies, whispered devotions lost to the tsunami of time. A classic tale
told time and time again — the way they touched in the shadows

of civility, met…

a poem about revenge

Photo by Gary Ellis on Unsplash

Boudicca (also known as Boadicea) of the British Celtic Iceni tribe of East Anglia (Eastern England) led a rebellion against the Roman army in 60 CE after being flogged in the streets and her daughters raped. They successfully defeated (destroyed perhaps is more like it) 3 settlements — not taking prisoners but slaughtering anyone left behind (a total of almost 80,000 people). They were defeated in the Battle of Watling Street, themselves losing about 80,000 people. Boudicca, who had spurred on her troops from a chariot, her daughters by her side, drank poison rather than be…

my personal Dia dé los Muertos story

Photo by Isaac Quesada on Unsplash

I didn’t have time to be devastated. My intended home birth turned into a ‘non-emergency’ cesarean in about two hours. My fluid was very low, and the baby was barely responding. So we took some deep breaths and down to the OR we went.

She didn’t come out crying, and through my morphine haze, I could tell there was some concern. But then they lay my baby next to my face, wrapped snug in her hospital blanket. I spoke quietly to her, and she opened her eyes for the first time.

I held…

a poem, a plea, hopefully some perspective

Photo by M. B. M. on Unsplash

I find the discrepancies between our morals
at times too much to bear

See, I don’t think a child should ever be put in a cage
no excuse or attempted reasoning could ever
light any spark of justification
I couldn’t put my dog in a cage

The moment he raised an arm to his chest,
hand cocked just so at the wrist,
in an angle reminiscent of
poorly told school yard jokes
should have been enough to put you off

When our dignity was assaulted by callous
bragging of where he likes to grab women
a vision of your fist
smashing his…

How and Why to Document These Times

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

We are over six months and far too many deaths into a pandemic, and the numbers are rising. Places that have opened are closing again with this rise. People are out of work, out of money, and quickly running out of sanity.

The United States election is weeks away. Already white boys with guns and big trucks circle peaceful farmer’s markets in quiet northern California towns, a glimpse of the tantrum they will throw if the sitting president has to be pulled kicking and screaming from the White House.

Wildfires are ravaging forests…

Hope can be a passing breeze these days

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

I dreamt of fires and tornadoes
the unsettledness of 2020 seeping deep
into my bones, forecasts of imminent lightning
strikes bearing down on us shadow a birthday
celebration and school year transition

fear, concern, planning occupy my quiet thoughts
I’ve seen enough pictures, heard enough stories,
I can’t shake the images of burnt cars rotting
on roads out of town, their passengers long
since silenced by the flames

mentally, I pack the car, dogs and cats surround
the children, I pray, if it comes to it, the horses
will be calm enough to load, Our essentials exist
in the form of lives, the…

Lessons from the redwoods

here I stand, not unaccompanied, in desperation
of smoke-infused lungs, orange skies, and abandoned
livestock, my youngest could not sleep with her grief
for the chickens left behind

There is no one left to fight this fire.
They are all battling flames elsewhere,

We are all battling flames somewhere,
The world is on fire!

We are exhausted from our fights
worn down with the persistent tendrils of inferno,
everywhere we turn now there are new sparks
alighting the tinder around us
and those who set the match need only
sit and watch
and wait

So I think of the redwood…

Race, the lie, and my role in the fight

Photo by James Eades on Unsplash

My mother-in-law sent me a book recently, Begin Again, a biography of James Baldwin, written by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. The name flittered around in my memories for a moment but came up empty. I never learned about James Baldwin in my predominantly White Midwestern public school.

Usually a fast reader, I am only now an introduction and one chapter deep. The information, sentiment, and history on these pages have already split open a chasm of insight for me into the terrifying resurgence of overt racism on social media, the news, and in the streets. …

Anne Fricke

author, poet, storyteller, podcaster, mother, wife, traveler, questioner annefricke.com

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