Friday, December 31, 2010

last day of the year

last day of the year
outside on the porch swing
watching the clouds pass
last day of the year
sixty-three degrees
portending a storm
last day of the year
intermittent showers
and the windchimes
last day of the year
poinsettia flag
furling, unfurling
last day of the year
on the euonymus
a jay and a squirrel
last day of the year
the clouds have gone
now,the sun's brightness
last day of the year
the last day of processing
Kodachrome film
last day of the year
two hours of outside work
before the rain
last day of the year
discarding credit card
c 2010 by pat laster, lovepat press

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011. Hoping one of your resolutions is--if you haven't already done so--to read my first novel, A Journey of Choice, available at b&

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Even more kind words for A Journey of Choice

My sister-in-law caught me before I left the organ at church this morning, saying, "I've read your book and finished it, but I didn't want to quit reading. Get another one going."
Lew Taylor, Stillwater OK, to me
"I finished subject; all in all a masterful job,well researched and well written. The format, or presentation, is new to me. I do not know if it is original, but it is not mainstream....As I said, a masterful work, which you no doubt know better than any one else. I wish I had the energy."
In a couple of Christmas cards:
"Enjoyed your book. It cries for a sequel, so get busy!" - from friend, Pat Guthrie
"...I just love your book...." Anne Beyers, friend and neighbor
from Doris Wood, a high school classmate:
Pat, finished reading your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I realize that
Liddy comes from another time and place. However, it was difficult for me
to understand why she would stay with a husband all those years without
love or the warmth of companionship. I'm glad she ended up with Tom. I
like happy endings. Congratulations on a good read. Wishing you much
success in promoting the book. There's a vast audience who would read
your book if they only knew it existed. Good luck (have you got another
one in the hopper?) dw
Deanna to me
"My sisters-in-law all enjoyed your book and want to know when you will write another one.Three of the five finished the book in one sitting." - Deanna Dismukes,a friend who wrote a blurb for the book's cover.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 's nearly gone

In the sun,
swirling steam
of coffee makes
ever-changing designs
on the liquid surface.
Two more
rusty cuphooks
coming out of the old
house's doorway-without-a-door--
for several days,
my car's windshield reflects
the details of a maple leaf
with veins.
concert--how could
they stay away from their
cell phones & iPods for ninety
mid-December's cold
a mockingbird eating
keeping the birdbath leaf-clear
and full of water
c Pat Laster, author A Journey of Choice
lovepat press,
December 15 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More kind words for A Journey of Choice

Dorothy Johnson (Little Rock) to me

"Glad you liked the pictures and, of course, you can use my comments. I did enjoy your book. Liddy probably represents a good number of young women who struck out on their own without knowing the ways of the world. In every age, there are takers like Heth who leave a trail of hurt behind them, good men like Tom who pick up the pieces and folks like the doc who mean well but shouldn’t always push their solution to the situation."
Kitty & Ray Barton (Benton) to me

Just wanted you to know how much we enjoyed your book.
We wrote a short review tonight on amazon.
Kitty and Ray"
Sandy Raschke(Madras OR) to me

"Hi Pat,
Journey arrived yesterday, and I want to say thank you for the lovely inscription and acknowledgment. I-Universe did an excellent job on the printing and packaging, which is really important nowadays. I sat down last night and read the whole thing! The one thing that could have been expanded upon was Heth's stay with the gypsies, as I thought your original version was one of the highlights of the story, but I realized, since you had changed the structure of the novel to have each character speak in his/her own voice, that shifting that episode to the gypsy leader made sense.
I guess you'll be selling up a storm, especially in light of the holidays. Danielle Steele--move over!"
Book signings: Thursday, Jan 20 - 6 -7:30 Saline Co. Library - Benton
Tuesday, Jan 25 - 6;7:30 Saline Co. Library - Bryant
See Library Newsletter for information on author and library.

A Journey of Choice - Pat Laster available on and barnes&

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Into Advent and beyond

Advent began this week. Last year, the church and tone bell choirs presented a Hanging of the Greens service as our seasonal “program.” But this year--I retired last December--the minister decided against the long-established service.
Sis Barb, a church musician in Arlington VA, who was to fly out of Little Rock at five pm on Saturday, didn’t leave until seven, due to mechanical problems on the plane. She missed her connecting flight from Dallas by fifteen minutes and had to spend the night at a Dallas Hilton – without her toiletries or fresh clothes. She did not make her church service, and no organists were available to sub. None of us is indispensable, of course, and church went on anyway.
So far, during these three seasons--Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, I've heard the Henderson State University choir, which includes my grandson, sing Messiah. Other concerts I want to attend are Amahl and the Night Visitors and Bach to Christmas by the AR Chamber Singers.
Those, and the local church choir concert on December 15 may be the extent of my traveling around for music's sake.
May you each strive for peace as you prepare for the seasons of Advent and Christmas. #

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More good words for A Journey of Choice

"I just finished your new book and the saddest chapter at the end--said THE END. I wasn't ready for that.
Lay down everything but your pen and paper and write!!!! You so nailed the time period and the charactors were so vivid. What a nice thing to do for future generations and even current folks to let them peek at a life style so true and pure. I know it was fiction, but I expect to run into those folks around
the corner.
The book reminded me of one written long ago by Christopher Morley, KITTY FOYLE, it was good but I liked yours better. Jessica Lange, the actress said Kitty Foyle was the best book she had ever read. Jessica lives in Stillwater, MN and an actress I admire.
You have to write another soon, so I can get those poor folks off my mind. I loved your format, but will settle for any---just write!!!"

Barbara Stefan to Pat:
"I can hardly put your book down to go to work!!! Almost finished, then I'll write more." XOXO Barbara

Barbara Stefan to Pat:
"I came home at lunch yesterday to finish your book. I only have one question: WHEN IS THE SEQUEL COMING OUT????!!!!
I liked the chapter lengths, and the way you skipped forward in time, plot twists. I do not like the cover - too modern a dress, confusing.
Hope you're getting lots of royalties! Book signings? You WILL sign mine!
Love ya, famous Hoochie!" Barbara

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mid-November already?

Autumn is my favorite time of year. That is, when I can get out in it. And so far, I've been outside much of November. One of retirement's perks is the freedom, the leisure to bask in the luxury and ambience (or ambiance, if you prefer) of nature. Not only do I read the paper, but I can also observe the constantly changing landscape that inspires haiku, cinquains or tanka.

Six cats
gobble cheap food
from the sides of a cake
pan. A kitten plops down in the
four identical
coal-black cats with yellow eyes
my son calls The Moors
mild autumn morning
changing my writing venue
to face far-off woods
a flock of blackbirds
suddenly settles into
yonder hayfield
and just as suddenly rises
to glean another place
looking through
red-berried holly
to see fall's foliage
a cloudless fall sky
large, leafless hackberry
allows bird sightings
a sprig of pink mums
and three azalea blossoms
close enough to touch
sun warming my back
hackberry's yellow-green host
and haven to birds
c lovepat press November 2010
Pat Laster, A Journey of Choice (Amazon/ B&N)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More readers' comments on A Journey of Choice

My blog is nothing if not a place to brag, blow-your-own-horn, and share what others say -- in this case -- after reading my first novel, A Journey of Choice, (available at Amazon.come and Barnes &

Pat C. said, "The Journey finally came yesterday and I've already finished it. I really enjoyed it, and was fascinated how it has changed through the years." (She was in a critique group that read many of the early chapters.) "I'm so glad Meddie is now Liddy. I can relate to her better.I like your including recipes. Is that really how southerners make dressing? (Yes.) You said that the first paragraph and the last paragraph made the book -- well, you did a great job and I think your ending calls for another book about Liddy's Journey. Congratulations!"

One more -- from Betty H. "Your book is so..............good! I started reading to determine what I thought about it and I decided to keep reading it and stop reading the one I was on. I can't wait to get back to it."

Remember to set your clocks back tonight, Saturday, Nov. 6 '10

Pat Laster

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dairy Hollow Writers Colony in the autumn-by Pat Laster

Once again--but the first time during the fall--I reside (for a week) at WCDH in Eureka Springs AR.
At the end of three sessions, the new Haymaker Group has dispersed after critiquing each others' poems to make them stronger -- the purpose of a critique group. The last two sessions were held in the Great Room here at the Colony. Meals were at Myrtie Mae's and Sparky's, both delightful respites from the happy "work" of critiquing.
I have the rest of the week to delve into my next one-or-two projects, now that the long-in-progress novel, A Journey of Choice, has been published (available at and Barnes &
I have two choices: a book of short stories--which allows me to stay in the weekly Hot Springs Writers' group--and a Compendium of Journal Jottings for the Central AR Writers' group that meets monthly.
In the meantime, here are a few more poems.

crow flies to a limb
jumps higher, then higher still
before flying off

maple leaf drifting
into the lemon-juice-laced
water for peeled pears

on the front porch
sunglasses needed against
the rising sun

at the tearoom: two ladies
talking stocks and bonds

moving the porch chair
to watch the full moon
rise through the oaks
insects singing
this late-October dusk

~~ c lovepatpress 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The new book is here, but October marches on

A Journey of Choice by Pat Laster, is available at and Barnes & Two book signings scheduled: At Piggott, November 2, and near the church library at Salem UMC November 7 after the traditional morning service.

Meanwhile, the season is amenable to haiku, senryu, sen-news (my terminology) and a cinquain.

Three Sen-News
the hum of failure
Baghdad's electricity

the blue Danube
now red with alumni sludge
from a breached dam

matter of balance:
right of privacy versus
subway safety

Three Haiku
hungry cats
gnawing on ripening pears
during the night?

younger cat
head-butting the older
in play

yellow butterfly
on a red cypress-vine bloom~
the mailman cometh

Three Senryu
passing a book
from Pat through Pat to Pat
on Poetry Day


one more rusty nail
from the forty-year-old

south this autumn
morning, I see roses;
north, a reddish sassafras grove.
I smile.

c lovepat press 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Readers' comments: A Journey of Choice by Pat Laster

Just finished the book and it was GREAT! Where did all that come from??? - Did you pull any of it from real life? I loved it. I could never do that. I just don't know how. I don't have enough imagination and not enough of real life experiences. Congratulations! I 'm so glad you finished it while we are still going to retreat. It is proof that it can be done with lots of hard work. love ya Rita

Hubba hubba and hurdy gurdy !!!!! delightful thus far - I've only gotten to chapter 13. Hubba hubba and hurdy gurdy have a blessed day! ! ! (Will I find out what it means?) Has a happy little ring to it - we may have to adopt it as a little line! - Carol

I've started reading your book ... actually I'm more than halfway through it ... and I'm REALLY enjoying it. You did a great job!! And I'm truly sincere about that. I'm trying to figure out how it will end, but don't know yet, though I think Tom may play a bigger role in Liddy's life. Don't tell me if I'm wrong! I've been talking it up. We met Nolen's cousin and his wife in Branson this past weekend and she wants a copy. (They live in Sioux City)
Thanks for writing the book ... and I'm waiting for the next one!!!!

A Journey of Choice is available at and B&

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Birth of a new book --A Journey of Choice is online

THE BOOK IS OUT~!!! THE BOOK IS OUT!!! Finally, the pregnancy is over and the baby is here. Both author and book are doing fine.
Apparently it is selling well, according to friend and editor Sandy R. who lives in Oregon.
My Pasadena CA brother's clients are--to hear him tell it--buying it. One even showed him his name as listed in the Acknowledgments page. He gets his copy tomorrow.
Amazon and Barnes & Noble have it listed and for sale. Soon, I'll have other copies myself.
Word has gone out to all the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow (Eureka Spgs. AR) alums. I heard from one in Chicago today.
The local newspaper called wanting information and photos for an article in Friday's paper.
No book signings scheduled locally since I have yet to receive my book order and my complimentary copies. Stay tuned. Er, online.

Pat Laster, new (and excited) author

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sayonara, September

cleaning the closet
in an Easy Spirit shoebox
our mother's keepsakes
to a station never watched
she gets a free mug
State Poet Laureate
Late, she
swept in and waved
like Queen Elizabeth,
missing my speech on 'poetic
leaving the deck chair
to raise the umbrella
red wasp takes my seat
first day of autumn
blowing snow and icy roads
close the interstate
one persimmon falls
then two more ... clumsy squirrel
or over-ripe fruit?
crisp autumn morning~
white umbrella mushroom
in the dried, cut grass
"You're out!"
the newly-fired umpire's
last call
cool temp and a breeze
foretell the changing season
bee at the seed stalk

c 2010 lovepat press, Pat Laster
author, A Journey of Choice

Friday, September 24, 2010

Impending birth of A Journey of Choice

Two and 1/2 more weeks, she said, and my first novel, A Journey of Choice, should be ready to order at In two more weeks, it should be available at and Barnes&Noble.
The writing part took long enough--from 1998 to 2010--that's the "art," someone said.
The publication--the "business" part--from the day I submitted the manuscript, June 24 of this year till the day I hold the finished book in my hand will have taken a little over three months. And close to $2,000, counting the reading fees I willingly gave two of my friends.
Oh, iUniverse set the prices for the books, not me.
A friend who heard me read two chapters to her study club told me it reminded her of "...that Portis guy, what's his name?" Great praise, comparing my book to Charles Portis of True Grit fame.
We'll see.
Pat Laster, Benton AR USA

Sunday, September 19, 2010

As a 70-something, I participated in my first church mission trip

Nine-and-a-half hours in a 15-passenger church van with eight other missioners on a hot September Sunday took us through the south half of Arkansas into Louisiana, thence to the southern town of Baldwin,which was close to Morgan City, New Iberia, Patterson, and Franklin.
Our point of departure was Salem United Methodist Church north of Benton, AR, and our destination was the Sager Brown campus of UMCOR, a United Methodist Committee on Relief depot. Here, volunteers sort through hundreds of health and school kits that had been put together in churches all over the nation and shipped to the warehouse. Flood or cleaning buckets also needed packing--all of these for use in any disaster anywhere in the world where they were asked for.
In future posts, I will be more specific about the week's experience. Till then....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sanguine September

the station asks
for a money donation
I ask for a mug
(ugly, baby-poop yellow
made in China)
three huge projects loom
yet she sits outside and reads
the morning paper
lying face down,
flat in the road, squirrel slow
to stir in August's heat. He rolls
over. (from Ron Wolfe, ADG)
bluejay and starling
face off for the fallen seeds
late summer shower
Mom...gone these four years
still, she gets address labels
from Feed the Children
I'm still outside
but outside, it's not still
welcome summer breeze
not resting on Labor Day~
breeze through the windchimes
combat forces gone
but two US servicemen
killed walking to talks
on the porch swing
driven inside
by blowing rain
c September 10 2010 lovepat press
Pat Laster

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Learning more about blogging at WCCW conference

Geez! Guess I'll have to rename my blog--and make other changes. That is, if I listen to Linda Fulkerson, Blog Coach and Internet Marketing Advisor, (see who spoke at the White County Creative Writers (Searcy, Arkansas) conference yesterday.
From notes I took as she barreled through her allotted time with hardly a breath, I learned that:
(1) My (anyone's) blog should contain "excellent content about solutions to a specific problem the public has or on subjects the public is interested in. A blog should be relevant, authoritative.
(2). A blog should foster activity. Ask a question at the end of your posts. Host guest posts. This is another way to "network."
(3) Linking: Swap links. Your blog is your face to the general public, she said. Get your name out there as much as possible.
(4) Blog at least twice a week. Oops! for sure, that's a change.
~~~ Pat Laster, author of the forthcoming novel, A Journey of Choice.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Old journal yields unrecorded poems

In searching for something else, I found several poems written in August 2008 but not transcribed to 3 by 5 cards as has always been my habit. (When I transcribe, I put a check mark thru them in the journal.) Here are the five I found. The others are current.

green beautyberries
turn purple

A piece
of mail for each:
college boy gone two days
and Mother, who died two short years

cat in the dry leaves~
low-flying helicopter
usurps thunder's noise

butterfly bush blooms
the same day I see
a hummingbird

cat risking wet paws
searches in the unmown grass
for whatever moves
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

coffee tastes better
when sipping from Wedgwood~
a hot wind blows

The night
of the second
day of school, a fight breaks
out involving guns, teens, several

retired director-
cum-choir member forgets
hides gum in her jaw

roadside grass crispy
a vine completely covers
the YIELD sign

c August 2010
Pat Laster, lovepat press

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The August heat wave

Three Heat Haiku

chrysanthemum buds
brown before opening
in the prolonged heat

three cups of coffee
I still nod off mid-morning
in this year's heat wave

cats sleep in the shade
on the concrete window sill
is it cooler there?


out the purple
beautyberries, a small
woodpecker. Then, a hummingbird

(my concoction: part haiku, part senryu, part news)

storm-damaged, empty
the cypress-plank home
an egret rest stop

c 2010 August, lovepat press
Pat Laster, Benton AR USA

Saturday, August 14, 2010

John Wells*

They called him "the hunter"; his name was John Wells.
The long, black, straight hair was bast-tied.*
His hunting shirts, leggings and shoes were all
fashioned of brains-watered, smoky tanned hide.*

One day while the family was working inside,
a strange voice called, "Hello the house!"
They welcomed their guest, for to do any less,
the wilderness code disallowed.

The men talked of redskins and cowbells and fences,
and government land that was free.
"I see you're a hunter; you'd find work in Texas,
though you'd have to watch for Pawnee."

A day or two later, John came in to eat.
"I'm going to Texas," said he.
"A long time I've wanted to see for myself
what others 'been sayin' they see."
* * * *
The winter was lonesome, eternity-long,
then dogwood and overcup bloomed.
Corn planting and harvesting time came and went.
Had John Wells got caught in a flume?*

Meanwhile, Mister Mawler, the stranger, became
a neighbor along Fourche La Fave.*
"I reckon John's coming back's possible still,"
he told Betsy, John's wife, who'd been brave.

Year after year went by, four and a half.
Resigned that John surely was dead,
the woman--with blessings of her teenaged sons--
and Mawler decided to wed.

Bill Mawler commenced fixing up his new farm.
One fall day, a stranger stopped by.
"Whose farm is this?" "Mine." Is your ol' lady dead?"
She's helpin' the neighbors nearby."

"I'm John Wells from Texas." Bill's carving knife fell
to the floor as the door opened wide,
as wide as the eyes of the woman who spied
her long-dead-and-gone husband alive!
Old habits kicked in as though John never left,
but settlement fences were jammed.
When neighbors suggested they move Texas-way,
John answered them, "Texas be damned!"
*from a story by Friedrich Gerstacker, In the Arkansas Backwoods: James Miller, translator, editor

bast -long strips of hickory bark used for cords and ropes
brains-watered - tanners used deer brains mixed with water as an early step in tanning. Smoking the skin at the end of the process guaranteed softness no matter how many soakings they got
flume - a deep, narrow valley containing a stream or torrent
Fourche La Fave - now simplified to Clear Fork creek, a stream flowing into the Arkansas River around Perryville AR

~~~~~by Pat Laster

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Nice long post about pears that vanished before saving

The last time this happened, I was able to find it, but this one must be somewhere in the ether. It's not in my trash basket. Where do blogs go when they disappear, I wonder.
I'm also wondering if these things happen for my good: was the blog too wordy? Is there a blogmaster somewhere that I don't know about?
Let's see if I can condense the lost piece into a tanka: "summer wind/a loaded branch of green pears/ wrenched to the ground/ shall I try to salvage them/ cook them down into pear sauce?//
That's what I'm doing as I write. Later, pl

Friday, July 30, 2010

Found Poems - Part Two or Three

Though the purists among us will likely raise eyebrows at what I call "senryu," others (generalists) will not bat a critical eye. These poems were written during the Augusts of several years, and are based on information/ images from my reading.

mint 'shake
an Arctic breeze across
a summertime mood
(Jack Butler)

the farmer
checking his drying corn
his tape-measure braces

to find a thistle
in his cleaned pasture

when thistles bloom
and seeds blow ... neighbor
turns on neighbor

"Motivational Speakers"
... self-important
professional lightweights
from faraway towns ...
(Pat Lynch)

"By Age Seventy ..."
...round shouldered
from having rolled
with the punches
(Edw. Hoagland)

the fourth day this week
that he's been in the obits
(a hundred bucks per ...)

the mind
shielding us from our worst
(Renee Schafer Horton)

needs a new set of hands,
according to coach
(Wally Hall)


Friday, July 23, 2010

For the second time, my book manuscript is at the publishers

When I sent it the first time (June 24), it was to take 2-3 weeks for a professional evaluator to read it, make her (I'll use the feminine, but I don't know which gender the evaluator was) marks, then fill out a form (2007 form). The form was in several sections and there were several questions under each heading. Two columns were YES and NEEDS WORK.
Out of 68 questions, she scored my mss with 46 YES and 22 NEEDS WORK, a fact I took great initial pride in. Is this the way skaters and gymnasts feel when they see their scores on the board?
BASICS:She felt that the word "romance" should be added to "adult" and "general" fiction. I wasn't surprised.
TITLE: She said "A Journey of Choice" could apply to a wide variety of fiction or nonfiction. Instead of changing the title, I added allusions to "journey" in at least three other places. I've lived with that title so long that no other choices seem right.
MARKETING TEXT: Lots of suggestions in the business of selling the book. I improved it as much as I could. I've heard/ read that the writing is the art and the publishing is the business, so I wasn't too surprised.
OPENING: all "Yes."
BASIC PREMISE AND TONE: Two-thirds "Yes." The words, "believable," "unique," and "appealing execution" garnered, "Needs Work."
STRUCTURE, PLOT AND PACE: Seven out of 10 "Yes."
SETTING: All "Yes."
CHARACTERIZATION: Six out of 10 "Yes."
DIALOGUE: All (8) "Yes."
BASIC PUNCTUATION AND GRAMMAR: Three out of 4 "Needs Work." And Dot and I worked all weekend on that area. It should be clean.
Today, I resubmitted it under the heading UPDATED MANUSCRIPT. In 3-10 weeks, I'll have a product--a book. I must keep breathing until then.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New July poems

July 7
third cuppa coffee
still outside reading paper
in July's coolness

son's "Happy Birthday!"
greeting two days early
at least the right month

July 8
at home, reading news
from a South Carolina
paper bought last week

July 9
outside, nothing moves
but then, a wasp sips a bloom
of beautyberry

treat for my birthday:
frozen yogurt for breakfast
for lunch and dinner

July 10
Hilton Head Island
only shells I saw? bottled
in souvenir shop

July 15
looking for dishes
and dirty clothes, I end up
cleaning the boy's room

Thursday, July 8, 2010

While on the East Coast - our Sisters' trip--Pt. 2

On Wednesday, I sit out in morning's cool
on deck (of postage size) that overlooks
a tree-filled space. Diagonally, a slough

of sorts holds Alligator Annie (Al?).
(State law forbids their feeding, else a fine
--for feeder--death for animal that's fed.)

The wrens and crows and squirrels and unknown birds
cavort and call in nearby trees, and moss
--ubiquitous--hangs almost close enough

to touch. No breeze, but sounds of fountain, air
conditioning mingle. Two of four ride bikes,
all three work hard at forming daily plans.

Not me--I'm just along. I'll go along.
By Thursday, we were zombies! Two whole days
of shopping, tours: Savannah trolley ride,

narrated by a Yank from Jersey, through
the myriad parks, their ancient live oak trees
with beards of Spanish moss like spectors. Greene,

Pulaski, Rebel soldier facing North
to guard against returning redcoats. Homes
of famous people--Mercer, Low (the Girl

Scout maven), Sherman--more I can't recall.
A trip to Tybee Island where my vet
and family were to spend this week, of all

coincidences! Sunset cruise to see
the dolphins followed food at dock-side place:
a salmon BLT for me, crab cakes

and calamari, chicken nachos, drinks...
On Friday, trip to Charleston, SC,
where we enjoyed a carriage ride with Jon

and Jake, the strongest breed of horse there is.
We sisters--last ones on--sat aft of Jake,
our front row seats kept children from their view

and mother had to scold the pouting boy.
We ate at Poogan's Porch, friend Sandra joined
us from her work three blocks away. A dish

of shrimp and grits, a steak (fried chicken style)
with mashed potatoes, long green beans and tea,
two sandwiches--one, chicken salad, one

a grilled pimento cheese--with fries of sweet
potatoes, rounded out the entrees. Talk
while waiting, eating green tomatoes (fried),

pimento cheese balls (also fried), but best
of all, large, fluffy biscuits. Afterwards,
one dish (5 spoons) of pudding made with bread.

Then back to Hilton Head mid afternoon.
The air was cool with low humidity,
a slight reminder of the coming fall,

though summer'd just begun. And now, we're home
in Arkansas. The trip holds pleasant thoughts
enough to last until this time next year. #

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Adventures of three sisters in route to Hilton Head Island

A travelogue of sorts in blank verse

We set off on our yearly sisters' trip
in Honda hybrid. Baby sister, soon
to hit the 60 mark, behind the wheel.

Another sister riding in the front,
and eldest--moi--at 15 years beyond
the driver, settled in the back. In route

to Hilton Head we were, to meet the sib
from DC, who drove down another way.
(Of course.) A thunderstorm dumped tons of rain

on Mississippi's highway. Knuckles white,
our driver and the navigator eyed
the fog line, flashers blinking, searching for

a car's lights up ahead. The truckers passed
as if to say, 'Get over it and drive,
you wimps from Arkansas!' At length, the storm

abated. "Whew!" We all relaxed a while,
deciding we deserved a shopping break.
At western edge of Tupelo, we stopped

and asked directions, soon espied the place.
The first booth, first glance at the books, I saw
a title, Liberating Paris, and

it's autographed by Bloodworth Thomason!
I wondered why the "Becky" gave it up.
Then farther on, I found a Cape Cod plate--

a pie plate--unlike any I had seen.
The others came out empty-handed. Rain--
or shower--in the meantime, cooled the air.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

My first book manuscript's at the publishers!!

After 390 hours--logged in 2010--of "work" on my novel, I have just today sent it via the internet to iUniverse (Bloomington, IN)for them to turn it into a solid book--one with creme pages, using Garamond font, 12-point. It will be available in hardback, softback and Kindle, but iU has the say on how much it will cost.
I had seen --and liked the looks of--Sam Taggart's, Joel Cooper's and two of Elizabeth Carroll Foster's books. That's why I decided from the get-go to (ahem) go with iU. I was warned by two colleagues to try another route, but I disregarded their fears. I may be sorry, but if I am, I will spread the news far and wide so others will not be so fast to decide on this company.
What will I do with all my time, I wonder? First, a vacation to the East Coast, then time and energy first on the yard, then the inside of the house. Starting with the back porch, going to the attic, then finishing with the toolshed.
Perhaps by that time, I'll be so tired, I'll want to start another book--so I can rest!
BTW: 390 hours divided by 6 months equals 65 hours per month, which is only around 2 hours per day average. Doesn't sound as impressive this way, does it? pl

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is it still June?

What a long month! And it's only just half over. Why, during this week only, grandson/ward Billy got a job at Target (which meant two interviews and a drug test), took his driving test and passed, got his driver's license, drove to work twice, to the grocery store and to Hastings--all in my 2003 Taurus.

I, on the other hand, have submitted (to iUniverse) my 50-word bio, a 25-word mini-description of the book, a 200-word back-cover synopsis, the marketing phrases, text for the book jacket flaps, and my choices of size, and paper color for the inside. I even got to say how I wanted the cover to look.

I have formatted the 72,000-plus words into a single-spaced document with all print characters shown, first paragraphs of chapters flush on the left (industry standards, you know), and line breaks after chapters. When I'm through proofing for the final time, I will delete the page numbers and submit via email for publishing.

This time next week, I'll be in a Hylander, with two sisters, driving to Hilton Head where we will meet up with the fourth sister for a week's vacation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jam-Packed June, continued

Here I am at Piggott AR, participating in a week's writers' retreat at the inspiring location of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museums. We meet and write all over the hill--some in the education center (where I am), some on the porch of the main house, some in Hemingway's barn loft and others in the work room of the ed center.

I actually finished writing my long-in-progress novel!! I needed only the last two chapters to close my story. Ironically, the finish happened--not on the H-P premises-- but in my room at the Downtown Inn bed-and-breakfast, sitting on the bed, leaned against a pillow, with the laptop resting on a long bolster on my lap. The bolster was long enough to hold my flash drive on one side of the computer and the mouse on the other.

I put my money where my mouth was and sent in all the information forms required by iUniverse Publishing. Today, I received in return, an e- letter from my "Check-in Coordinator," who attached five pre-submission forms/ guidelines.

June 24 is my goal for having all things submitted. We'll see. pl

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jam-Packed June

child's paint water
into brown carpet
gift-plant stowaway
singing all night
in the house
interior designer's
elegant home--
the dusty skylight
successful short flight
from privet to windowsill
two young cardinals
three words
striking fear in her heart:
"It's swimsuit season!"
humid afternoon
the billboard painter
brushing on a smile
middle-aged man
staring into the ocean
shell at his ear . . . no, cell
bereavement lily
its orange fallout
blessing me
the doves' calls
(sounds I always thought were owls)
now in unison
at the auction barn
her only "night out"
~~Pat Laster
c 2010 lovepat press

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Haiku :End of school, Memorial and Decoration Days

the last bell rings
but nobody cheers . . . class
concert not finished
week before finals
uncharacteristic urge
toward spring cleaning
four days of school left
taking his trumpet case
but not his horn
the prom knight
and his lady
dressed in chain mail
teaching the lad
about Decoration Day
son spies a turtle
Memorial Day
her arms full of flags to place
near the headstones
butterfly alights
on the open haiku book~
Memorial Day

pat laster - c 2010 lovepat press

Monday, May 17, 2010

Found senryu

Here are some found poems resulting from items in the daily newspapers. I took the ideas and formed them into these haiku-form-but-about-people-things-events shorties. pl

a balky bolt
interfering with repairs
on the Hubble
(May 18, 2009)
over the planted flatland
Black and White rivers
(May 12, 2000 - Oil Trough (AR) area, 1950)
"If you don't get home
before the streetlight comes on
you get a spanking." (--Keith Jackson's mother's edict as cited in Wally Hall's column on Mother's Day, 2003)
refused the honor
while living; after death
bridge named after him
(Other Days feature: the E. H. Crump bridge (AR)
May 15 2005)
close to the wall
carrying their children
through rising waters
(news picture-Philippines, 1997)

Pat Laster c 2010 lovepat press

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To honor our foremothers--not only on Mother's Day

The cast iron cook stove radiated heat
that coolish autumn morning, Mama's day
to bake. Remembering the ecstasy
she'd felt when Grandma brought in coal and set
about her work of feeding hungry men
who'd soon be tromping in from cotton fields,
my Mama figured out a system: start
by baking what produced the lightest smell.
She'd tease us: 'Don't look in, but on your way
out, tell me what you think is cooking.' She
would stand before the oven's glass while six
of us tramped through the warm and homey room,
our noses sniffing for a hint, a scent.

Today's aroma--we discussed outside--
seemed delicate. 'What's 'delicate'?
the youngest asked. 'A light, elusive, I-
can-almost-name-it-flavor, slightly sweet,
not strong and chocolaty like brownies are.'

An overalled, towheaded brother took
a guess. 'It's cornbread!' 'No!' an older child
retorted. 'Mama don't use sugar. Guess
again.' 'It's cake!' a third one added. 'It's
my birthday cake, I bet!' She clapped her hands.

I shooed them off to swings and sandbox, smug.
I wouldn't tell, but knew the smell. The child
was right: strawberry birthday cake for her.
~~ Pat Laster, Benton AR USA
c 2009 lovepat press

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My first sonnet

I Sought You Long, O Love
byPat Laster

Through mocking, taunting games of hide-and-seek
you torture and delay. A challenged sleuth,
I search in crannies vertical, oblique,
for angles, images. Like savage youth,
I rip apart the weedy, matted clumps
of phrases adequate another time.
Your shadow leads me further, over humps
of cliches, scrabbling for a word sublime.
Perhaps my efforts trample fragile seed.
Oh, accents, meter, rhyme, emerge now from
your hiding place. Give up; no more impede
my crazed, frenetic goal to pen a psalm.
The chase was long, through bramble, thicket, thorn;
The prize is won: a sonnet newly born.

c lovepat press, 1994

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Another April in the Arkansas Ozarks

In residence at The Writer's Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs (begun as a bed and breakfast by author Crescent Dragonwagon) for a two week stay during each of the past four Aprils (once, in mid-March), I have written many pieces of short poetry, as well as continued my effort to finish a long-in-progress novel, A Journey of Choice. Below are some of the poems. pl

last week's lively
Lucidity Retreat,
I sequester myself to write
and write.
the trappings of public life:
earrings, dickey, bra
through the latticework
a pair of robins
from who knows where
parking ticket
in this tourist town where I
only sought directions
their gray puffs the only
plant blooming in the untended
front bed.
soon brings into view a white
touring carriage
gentle mountain rain
below rumbles of thunder~
a bird calls at dusk
packing the car~
as if in blessing
redbud blossoms fall

c lovepat press 2007
Pat Laster, Benton AR USA

Friday, April 9, 2010

Already April

A Triolet

An April love burst into my life
to blend with those already there.
Scraping futility's crust like a knife,
an April love burst into my life,
easing the torment of internal strife,
repainting confidence over despair.
An April love burst into my life;
nurture it, fool, for love is rare.
Willow Dancing
(Butterfly pattern)

New willow fronds, chartreuse chenilles,
Like young ballerinas--genteel--
hang motionless
in weightlessness,
Nudged into motion by zephyrs
To dance in slow, even measures.
Early Church
(a Lil-Ann pattern invented
by Carrie Quick, MO)

The park becomes my church this Sabbath day;
no cloistered walls to keep the sun at bay.
Three robins practice trills to vocalize,
while gurgling brook accompanies with grace.
The grackles try their best to harmonize
and peckerwoods show skill with figured bass.
No cloistered walls to keep the sun at bay,
the park becomes my church this Sabbath day.
c lovepat press 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Late March, before dawn...

late March, before dawn
songbirds, rooster and I
prepare for the day
flick of the curtain
all the birds disperse
except the robins
a corner of the home place
patch of daffodils
tiny husks of oak's
new growth anoint my writing,
fall in my coffee
gun cocked...slithering
toward the back-pasture turkey
only a muffler
Mom's clock
doesn't have numbers
it has birds
the week-long school break
and spring begin together
the child's fresh head cold
for his 4-year-old
ruptured aorta...
died at 50...friend's comment:
"He had a big heart."
c 2010 lovepat press

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Michael's: Closed

The doorway dripped hot water
puddling ancient, gaudy carpet.
I sat against the springs-damp wall
and remembered last year . . .

. . . Late, we'd adjourned to the pub
to meet, mix & mingle, as per the schedule.

A cameoed caricature in the elevator
promised a piano bar; the performer
sat uplevel, beseiged by older men
who supposed they were entertaining her.

You smoked, nursed a yellow drink
(screwdriver? lemonade?)
She ordered a scotch and water,
I, a frozen marguerita.

Next evening, we met yet again.
Would piano polish the day's intense poetry wash?

Conversation snaked through chapbooks,
hoaxes on editors, college teaching, demise
of downtowns Des Moines, Detroit, Decatur.

When did the subject slide to relationships?
She talked of husband, children, granddaughter;
I flashed a photo of the newest man in my life,
a 2-year-old grandson, hastening to explain
he was the only man in my life.
You acknowledged a sister who read your poetry,
a brother who did not. (No wife? sweetheart?)

A riveting crash exploded the drum machine,
softened, sequed into a lush piano-soprano rendition
of "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You."

c 2010 lovepat press

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March--a good month for haiku

picking the buds
of the daffodils before
the grandchild does
pear-motif house flag
furls in the gentle March breeze~
green shoots through dead leaves
a sheepish March first
wood violets on the sill
with the Africans
the roadside's
dense blue patches
of Johnny-jump-ups
on each bare branch
of the beautyberry
a goldfinch
the coolish promise
of a starry March evening
our Friday night date
(idea- M. Masterson)
first time to sit out
this spring . . . cloud passing the sun
cools the westerly

c 2010 lovepat press

Saturday, March 6, 2010

March into March-- cinquains and other short forms

Changes (a tripod)
I sit apart and muse
about the puzzling death of our love--
how green can turn to brown
so quickly.
Coincidence (cinquain)
cathedral bells
ring Vespers; far away,
a locomotive blows. Two sounds,
same pitch.
Donald Tatman, Arkadelphia AR
Three books
published after
he turned ninety. Wrote them
out in longhand in a Big Chief
I wondered why the bird fussed
(cinquain sequence)
for patio
picnic, I stashed extra
stuff in the garage. The next week
I found

--to my
dismay-- a nest
in a small watering
can. I looked closer: a long-cold
wren's egg.
Couldn't Be! (limerick)
In charge of a grandson named Fred,
He told me just what his friends said:
"Unless she's a pixie
Your 'Mom can't be sixty.
If she were that old, she'd be dead!"
c 2010 lovepat press

Thursday, February 25, 2010

FOUND poems


one frozen apple
with blistered, shiny skin ~
creek runs under ice
~Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


she trained herself
to live 'in deprivation'
just half-sticks of gum
~Joan Didion on Emily Harris

for being famous:
Anna Nicole Smith
~ from the news

her 88th year
most successful one ever
in winning contests
~Hazel Bell Nicholas, personal correspondence

still out of step
twenty years later . . .victim
of a different drum
~Joan Didion, After Henry

". . . living
past celebrity
to exhaustion"
~about W. Faulkner & E. Hemingway by John Leonard (New Yorker)

using words like surreal--
that's surreal."
~Doug Smith, AR Times

". . . single to married
to single in
thirty-six hours"
~Barry Gottlieb on Britney Spears

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day and Snow

Valentine's weekend
playing in new snow
not far from the Gulf
after a walk
Valentine candy breakfast
melting in my hand
Valentine's Day
on their anniversary
he files for divorce
a lilac sky
this lover's-day morning
but in the west
Valentine's Day
last vestiges of big snow
but more is falling
No Luck
crouches from trench
in the snow, preparing
to launch an attack on a bird
gradual snowmelt
revealing stepping stones'
"Patience," "Laugh"
kittens pushing
"Let It Snow" porch rug
into the drifting white stuff
c lovepat press 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February already?

new snow
on pink japonica blooms~
Groundhog Day
a bird's nest
cradling a newborn
burden of snow
leaving the bus stop
bright light in rearview mirror's
the cold morning sun
the vacant house
filching late daffodil buds
to force into blooms
beginning of Lent
the matte of ashes above
her shimmery blouse
west wind
thawing the thin ice
on the birdbath
30 degrees
only the paperman's tracks
in the ice and snow
c lovepat press 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010


There's a mean cold snap a-comin'
just as sure as my name's Jones.
I can feel it in my neck
and in my back and in my bones.

Oh, I'm ready for the ice, because
I cut down all my trees.
No more limbs and branches breaking
bringing power to its knees.

I've got snowshoes I can strap on
when I go to get the mail
and the papers. Plus, a mackinaw--
protection from the hail.

Bring it on, you old man winter;
test my mettle, if you dare.
I am up to doing battle--
me and my dear woman, Claire.

We've got stacks of cordwood drying;
all our preparations done . . .
Would you look outside this mornin' . . .

Don't that beat all? There's the sun!!

c lovepat press 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


a light snow
doesn't deter the bluebirds
from berry breakfast
nor the kittens
from their play
blue glass dolphins
active ... the north wind
Found Senryu
from house to truck
air so cold your eyes water
and it hurts to breathe

(from J.Tetrault, northwest ND
where the wind chill = minus
52 degrees --AP)
winter morning sky
the ever-changing pattern
of starlings a-wing
between showers
the robins drink from puddles
one finds the birdbath
not deterred by thunder
or the ensuing rain
glass in the old windows
after the thunderstorm
all the doors open
c lovepat press 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


winter sycamore
stands upstretched to catch nature's
coating of snow
brought tornadoes,
murder, floods and snowfall,
leaving us desperate for early
Walking in the Park
walk briskly
to rid themselves
of winter's
(a Sept pattern)
so white and deep,
paralyzes traffic
yet evokes memories of childhood
c lovepat press 2010