Saturday, November 19, 2011


A crowded room   
            conversations spilling out   
                        along with cleavage   
Eyes meet   
            smoldering glances from afar   
                        lashes lowered as blush spreads   
Tongue tickles upturned lips   
            in sensuous play   
                        bottom lip captured in a pout   
Maneuver clockwise   
            lean closer   
                        breath a whispered touch   
Here and gone   
            like smoke   
                        before the fire   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Friday, November 18, 2011

"You're Not What I Want"

You strut into my life, mirrors for your eyes.   
Bragging on your style and worth, all to cover lies.   
          You demand worship, attention thrown your way.   
          Staging life’s events, you’re an actor in a play.   
                    You’re not what I want, so I’m stepping away.   
                     You’re not what I want, so I’m leaving you today.

You take and take cruelly, all that I can give.   
Draining all my love from me, just so you can live.   
          You see no one else, feed only your dark needs.   
          Ignoring all the hearts you break with your selfish deeds.   
                     You're not what I want, so I'm stepping away.   
                     You're not what I want, so I'm leaving you today.   

You expect to hold the world’s blind devotion.   
Feigning love and care, your spirit lacks emotion.   
          You think I should thankfully kneel at your feet.   
          Allowing the abusive cycle to repeat.   
                     You’re not what I want, so I’m stepping away.   
                     You’re not what I want, so I’m leaving you today.   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

I was listening to a cd the other day by Suzette Lawrence and The Neon Angels and started wondering what type of song lyrics I would write. I thought of some of my broken-hearted friends, and the self-centered men they'd dealt with, and "Not What I Want" resulted. Maybe it needs to be read with a Texas twang!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

“Downtime Guilt”

         I couldn’t wait to start my first job as a teenager because I needed to save money for college. Somehow, that job turned into the school-work-school cycle for six years. Basically, that translates into going to school or working for more that forty hours a week. When I landed my position teaching seventh grade English at a junior high, the “spare time” I thought I’d have never occurred. Educators work constantly, and English teachers have it really rough because of the extensive amount of grading. My shift into full time employment still meant evenings and weekends tied up and very little time for “play.”
         About the time I hit my stride in teaching, my son came along, so having time to piddle dwindled to occasional evenings or a Saturday afternoon. I loved my busy life until I had my fortune told at a friend’s birthday party. The card reader’s uncanny ability to hone in on everyone’s life amazed me. She talked about one friend’s love of travel and predicted this woman would continue to voyage all over the world. She saw the tight friendship between my son and his best friend, saying they were like water and earth. Imagine my excitement when I finally sat at her table to have my cards read to me. I leaned forward in eagerness as she turned first one card, then another, and another.
She looked up at me and said a little sadly, “You work.”
“Yes,” I nodded my confirmation.
She shook her head, “No. You don’t understand. You work. That’s all I see in the cards. You work all the time. Very hard. You’re good at it, but it’s all I see.”
Tears welled in my eyes, my throat constricted. I mumbled something unintelligible even to myself and moved away from the table to let the next person hear her good fortune.
I started crying the moment I got into our car an hour later. I cried all the way home.
“What kind of fortune is that?” I sobbed. “How could there be nothing else?”
But I knew the truth. I did work all the time. I couldn’t pick up a book to read without thinking, “Hmmmm, could I use this section with my classes?” I analyzed every movie I viewed or every song lyric I heard for the possibilities of classroom application. And, if teaching didn’t take my time, housekeeping (with all endless chores) took what remained.
After that woman’s revelation, I began reading novels loaded with sex or violence. Things I couldn’t possibly use in the classroom. I didn’t bring home work every night. My students heard the phrase, “If it takes you two days to write this sucker, I should get at least that long to grade it.” I spent a great deal of class time at the beginning of each year teaching my students how to grade using rubrics, and I made them responsible for peer editing and grading. I still read every paper written by every student, but I found scheduling a few days for one-on-one conferencing actually went faster. I’d sit and chat with my students about their writing, we’d chart their progress, and I retired the red pen forever.
Little changes added up to less time spent at home grading. My obsession for a spotless house faded away in favor of evenings spent with family or friends. The good thing about children is that they actually mature into taking on more responsibilities around the house, and eventually I started having a life.
When I retired, everyone who knew me well kept predicting I’d get bored. Taking on the role of my mother’s caregiver blew that forecast into a million pieces. What I do get, though, is “downtime guilt.” My mother’s routine consists of many hours of sitting with her. We chat. We watch television. We piddle. After so many years of scheduling my hours and days, spending most of my day idle makes me feel guilty. Over the next few months, I want to relearn my attitudes about doing nothing. I want to embrace indolent hours. I want to practice laziness until I perfect it’s every nuance. I want to eradicated “downtime guilt” forever. 

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I lay prone   
            nose to mother earth   
                        a worshipper submitting   
                                    passion and passiveness     
                                              flowing into her with each drop of rain   
I roll   
            onto my back   
                              opening up   
                                 matching my heartbeat to the sky’s percussion

I sit   
            offering my face     
                        to wind and rain   
                                    drops melt my sorrows away   
                                              purifying me with the holiest of waters  
I stand   
            with arms outstretched   
                        conducting lightning like a symphony   
                                    waves and waves roll over me   
                                                cleansing me of life’s dust and debris

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

“is it real?”

is it real?   
the glowing smile in every photograph   
the arms thrown casually around your husband   
frame after frame   
the friendliness you casually offer to everyone   
the show of happiness you radiate in public   

is it real?   
the vanilla personality that never offends   
the perfect hair, make-up, and outfit   
the gym toned body that defies gravity   
the soccer Mom carpool     

is it real?   
the eyes that don’t shed tears of grief   
the temper that won’t explode   
the heart that can’t break   
the cool reflective surface that never ripples in a breeze   

is it real?   
the excuses for his infidelities   
the acceptance of abuse   
the tolerance for his cruel and belittling words   
the immaculate life with no imperfections   
is it real?   
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, November 14, 2011

"The Artist"

We began like an artist,observing the scene,   
watching each other from afar.   
Carefully, we began to     
sketch a rough outline   
of things held in common.   
Cautiously, we touched brush to canvas—   
                                    a first dash of red, a gentle blue.   
                           Here a sparkle of green leaves in the sun,   
                                    a glint of mahogany.   
                           Then a slight sliver of silver on black—   
                                    the light of a summer’s moon.   
                            There the dusky grey of   
                                     twilight; the orange splash of   
                                               the rising sun.   
From the first we were   
careful to explore   
each new hue.   
Trying to create,   
with strokes of the brush,   
a life together.   

Copyright 1978 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

I wrote this poem soon after David and I met. We knew, almost from the first, that we'd spend our life together. Often people ask me what's the trick to a long, successful marriage, but I don't have an answer. Love, commitment, friendship, determination, acceptance, compromise, respect--key components to any relationship. I do believe, though, that too many people throw out the canvas after a mistroke of the brush.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

“Food for Thought”

Saturday’s savory scents carry on the breeze. One neighbor, a chef at a Thai restaurant, fires up his grill and spices up the air. Our other neighbor, windows open to fall’s coolness, teases me with the fragrance of a baking cake. Sandwiched between the two homes, I raise my nose like a coon hound and sniff the scintillating aroma. My stomach rumbles in dissatisfaction, nagging me that baby carrots and tuna noodle casserole cannot compete with the tempting fragrance floating on the wind.
         “Why is it that other’s cooking always smells so wonderful?” I muse.
         I love cooking and baking. Once upon a time, friends and family looked forward to the holidays because of my homemade breads, thickly rich fudge, and nutty peanut brittle. My hollandaise sauce dribbled over Eggs Benedict has delighted many discerning palates on Christmas morning. I can bake any bird: chicken, turkey, duck, goose. My pie crusts flake, and my cakes rise.

         When I first retired, I revisited my favorite cookbooks and searched the web for new recipes. I kept a little record of dishes I cooked or baked with notations:  takes too long, substitute something else for mangos, simple and delicious. A star rating meant I’d make that recipe again, refine it to our taste if it needed any adjusting. I didn’t mind chopping, slicing, dicing and marinating if the end result meant discovering a wonderful new combination of spices for a delightful new taste.
         As my mother’s Huntington’s Disease progresses, I’ve noticed myself avoiding the kitchen. The more foods she cannot eat, the less I want to putter around the stove. I realized that I now do the old reliable dinners that I know won’t give her any trouble. I make huge batches of spaghetti and freeze individual servings for her. A Sunday pork roast gets divided into four tubs and popped into the freezer. She loves hamburger gravy on top of a baked potato, and can still manage meatloaf with our special baked beans. The other day after struggling with a minutely chopped chicken breast, Mom suggested I buy legs or thighs. She cannot eat the meat from the bone, so I haven’t purchased either one in a while. Tonight, though, we baked thighs with our own special sauce, deboned the meat, and watched as she ate everything effortlessly. The dark meat proved much easier for her to chew and swallow.
         As the holidays approach, I’ll look for something less traditional for our celebratory meals. The food I prepare won’t matter since the true joy comes from being together for another season. We may have a wide variety of side dishes that my mother can easily eat and enjoy. I do know that she’s still able to enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie loaded with vanilla ice cream. Maybe we’ll just have desserts!

 Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman