2020 New Year

2020 New Year

It’s official! 2020, A New Year.

Last New Year I shared my resolutions with everyone. I listed five things I wished to accomplish in 2019. I’ll break each down and share how I did.

Resolution 1: Read my poetry in front of an audience.

When I wrote this I had already practiced reading poetry on Instagram Live. It was my practice ground for the real event – a live audience. People in a crowd staring back at me – a scary thought for most people. Me included.

Luckily, I live in Portland, which proves to be a GREAT location to live for a writer. Portland has amazing resources and groups dedicated to supporting writers and the art form of writing – whether it be poetry, short stories, novels – it’s all covered in PDX.

In downtown Portland, Literary Arts hosts workshops, runs the Portland Book Festival, and they also host Slamlandia once a month. The first event I attended at Literary Arts was a Slamlandia Open Mic.

I attended the Poetry Slam intending only to get a feel for it. Figured I would watch and it would warm me up to getting up one day when I felt ready. I sat down, then something inside urged me to get up and add my name to the list to read something.

2020 New Year
2019 New Year Resolutions shared on Instagram

I’m so glad I did! That small tug to get up came from knowing myself. That if I only attended this first time, I may never get up and read. I envisioned myself settling into a habit of staying in my comfort zone as an audience member and knew I needed to rip off the blanket right out of the gate.

Reading and breaking through the fear I had to read my work in front of a live audience was empowering in all the best ways. I highly recommend it. The validation by fellow peers, the relief from the fact that you don’t spontaneously combust when you speak in front of a crowd of strangers, all of it leaves you feeling a sense of satisfaction you can only understand when you get up and read for yourself.

If you’re reading this and haven’t attended an open mic yet – and you’re a poet – I challenge you to add it to your 2020 New Year Resolution list! If you’re in the Portland, Oregon area and wish to attend an open mic- let me know when you go and I’ll try to attend with you!

Resolution 2: Start a group for writers.

Another gold star for me! Yay! I began the Facebook writing group in January 2019 and shortly thereafter started the Eve Poetry Group Instagram account.

Because of limitations on time – that there just isn’t enough hours in the day – I focused much of my effort on the Instagram group. The Facebook group exists and continues to grow, but has yet to receive the attention it deserves.

My goal for 2020 is to delegate the workload to the writing group members and empower them to create challenges, contests and other fun activities for the Facebook group. The group format on Facebook provides easier ways for people to interact and work together.

So if you’re reading this and have an interest in helping with Writers and Poets’ Cafe, please let me know!

Resolution 3: Finish my first book.

Done and done. I wrote my first novel and completed the publication of the first poetry anthology for Eve Poetry Magazine! Woot!

Publishing the poetry anthology was a huge learning experience. I made some mistakes though, like accidentally excluding a writer who I meant to include in the book! Ack! I appreciate your continued patience with me as I learn and grow.

That said, I’m pleased with the finished product. My hope for the next one is to include short stories and more writers, making it a bigger book. I’ll release Volume Two’s theme in February 2020.

Silver Linings Anthology

Silver Linings… By Eve Poetry Magazine

Photo book

Book Preview

Resolution 4: Make plans with close friends & family more often.

Wish I could say I achieved success on this one. However, resolutions one through three consumed my free time, so this resolution remains on my list for 2020.

Resolution 5: Leave room in each day to breathe.

Well, at least I’m 3 for 5! Three successful New Year Resolutions. Two that move to the top of the list for 2020.

My 2020 New Year Resolutions

I’m keeping my list concise. It consists only of two items: Make plans with close friends & family more often and leave room in each day to breathe.

Not to say I won’t have professional goals. There are many things I wish to accomplish in 2020 with writing, etc. They just need to move down in priority.

My principal goal in 2020 must be for self-care and reminding myself to breathe. Allowing myself downtime to clear my head, to rest more, and give myself permission to recharge and be still. I failed miserably at this in 2019. Took on too much.  Wore myself down.  Felt guilty when I became overwhelmed. 

That’s just not healthy. Our health is foundational to everything else. It must come first. Duh, Deanna! **smacks forehead**

Hand-in-hand with self-care are the close relationship we [should] cherish. When we rush around, too busy to nurture relationships that matter, we lose touch with ourselves. In 2020, I aim to prioritize my time for my children, husband, and making plans with family – my sisters, brother, cousins, and close friends.  

Last night, at my Grandfather’s celebration of life, I saw family members for the first time in YEARS. Many of them live only five or ten minutes away. It’s a shame to waste time this way.

What are your 2020 New Year Resolutions?

Please comment and share! I’d love to hear yours!

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Shadows of My Past

Shadows of My Past

Shadows of My Past by Marie Anaïs Tessa L’Etang

It kept on following me
No matter how long or how fast I ran
Pinched myself a thousand times
In hope of waking up from this nightmare
They were out to get me
I could feel the darkness caving in
Soon it was cold, I was out of breath
It caught me, it wanted to kill me
I have been running from the shadows of my past for years
I was finally realising my dream
but the light made the shadows reappear
I was made to remain in the dark,left hopeless and walked upon
That was the message my shadows told me
While stripping myself of all dreams, hopes and life
<strong>Marie Anaïs Tessa L'Etang </strong>
Marie Anaïs Tessa L’Etang

I am from Mauritius.  I’m still in high school, so school and tuitions and studying leave little time for a job or for many hobbies but I write and read every day. Since I was small, writing fascinated me.  It has only been an everyday hobby but I hope one day I can publish a book with poems. Instagram: anais.tessa

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The Gift of Presence

The Gift of Presence

The Gift of Presence by Terra Vagus

My anxieties are always chasing the future.

Frustration grows as I know
I will never leave the present.

I’ll seclude myself from you
to include myself with me.

Nothing exists when I am alone.

I stop time.
contemplate existence.

Nothing exists when I am alone.

But my skin still falls ever so slightly with each thought passing me by.

A cruel reminder that I am wrong.

Even when my clock stops
the world clock tick-tocks.

As I relentlessly obsess over what comes next
I abandon the present.

I abandon the future.

I am stuck in a construct of my own lifeline.

I’m unsure how to see outside this frame of mind.

My ego is my enemy.
My only security.

The present comes packaged with a ribbon
that I don’t have the guts to undo.
Terra Vagus
Terra Vagus

Terra Vagus is an introverted 20-something who resides in the Pacific Northwest. When they aren’t writing, they either have their nose in a book or they are out scouring abandoned and creepy places for anything paranormal.

Terra Vagus is a lover of animals, literature, ghosts and the Earth. 

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I Would Watch My Father

I Would Watch My Father

I Would Watch My Father by Caleb Eriksson

When direction was questionable
And my eyes still impressionable
When porridge
Cemented in grey splodges
to my favourite
Rugrats shirt
I learnt a lesson
I would watch my father
Watch himself
In his three buttoned blazer
He shone as well
As any knight
Pressed and dressed
He would chant to himself
Smoothing out the lapels
His eyes unwavering
His smooth, strong hands
Securing the Adam’s-apple knot in the tie
Strangling with confidence
there wouldn’t be a single wrinkle
Of self-doubt
In his suit
And I thought that was a man.
Do a simple sum
Of a few leaves wilted
And a few flowers bloomed
My direction still questionable
My eyes still susceptible
Over the deafening earbuds
Of adolescence
I learnt a lesson
I would watch my father
Watch himself
With eyes that were deep
Perennial tunnels
His smooth hands calloused
And uncaring to the wrinkles
Plaguing his paint flecked jacket
And the only smile
He could muster
Crunched like a bird’s wing breaking
And I could tell he thought about
The height from which he had fallen
But still stooped to somewhere low
He would lace his steel-capped boots
With an unfaltering integrity
And I thought again
That was a man.
<strong>Caleb Eriksson</strong>
Caleb Eriksson

Caleb Eriksson is a reader, writer, and soon-to-be-librarian. He has had several poems and short stories printed and aspires to have novels published. 

Caleb enjoys the works of Australian authors, especially Candice Fox and Markus Zusak. He currently resides on the tropical east coast of Australia with his beautiful, newlywed wife. 

You can follow more of his updates and brevity poetry @poeticflashcards on Instagram. 

I Surrender to My Darker Self

I Surrender to My Darker Self Illustration

I Surrender to My Darker Self by Joe Volpe

I surrender to
my darker self—

he that purrs
at discontent—

I’ll let him loose
upon the world—

and marvel at
his cruel intent.

And if his acts
return to me—

Cast a pall
about my eyes—

I’ll scorn his truth,
deny his shame—

leave him the one
you crucify.
Joe Volpe
Joe Volpe

Joe Volpe lives outside Boston, Massachusetts with his wife. When not teaching middle school English/Language Arts he enjoys reading, playing guitar, and watching baseball.

He has been writing poetry for as long as he can remember, and he sees it as both a hobby and a means to reflect. You can find more of his poetry on Instragram by following @joespoemaday.

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Thanksgiving 2019

Thanksgiving 2019 | Family, Loss and Forgiveness by Deanna Ramirez

Trigger Warning: Touches on childhood abuse and death.

Last night, I learned my grandfather passed away. I said my goodbye on Monday morning. His eyes, narrow slits, peered at me briefly. I think he saw me, though I don’t know for sure.  

I haven’t seen my grandfather for nearly two years. He and my grandmother lived with my aunt. She and I had a falling out years back.  She doesn’t like me around. So I’m no longer invited to birthdays or holiday celebrations.

Family history

I come from a family of enablers.  Many family members who protect and huddle around those who do bad things.  It’s a systemic issue, starting at the top.  That’s how disease is.  It begins at the pinnacle, then spreads as far as it’s allowed to reach. If nothing fights it. If no one uses antibiotics or anti-viral practices, it spreads its infection everywhere.

The vicious cycle of abuse continues in families so long as enablers are present. So long as enablers don’t acknowledge their part in it. This cycle distanced me from most of my family. Family that I moved to Oregon to be near. 


I wrote a micro-poem months ago and shared it on Instagram: “Silence. The most underrated weapon.” 

I know this to be true.  Sickness. Evil. It flourishes with silence.  In abusive families, it’s silently demanded. My experience with this broke my heart. My family rewarded the silence and shunned the truth when I spoke out. Speaking out, talking about it at all, met with discomfort, curiosity, judgment, and nothing at all.  

As a child, I experienced the worst violation. Never did I speak of it. Guilt and shame kept me quiet. Confusion and the inability to understand why it happened kept me silent too. I’ll spare you the unnecessary private details and include only those aspects surrounding it.

Breaking my silence set me free. And it didn’t set me free. It was not an instant band-aid. Speaking the truth was messy and confusing in ways I couldn’t expect.

In fact, breaking my silence at twenty-six years old led to the destruction of a marriage and my family as I once knew it. Instead of relief, it filled me with a fear of people “knowing”, and many unexpected emotions for me to process.  I didn’t process them. 

The problem with silence is that in its power, it creates a habit of it.  I became great at burying my feelings. Making them go away completely.  It wasn’t real.  I needed to believe that. When things aren’t real, they can’t hurt you. 

Cousins and Truth

A few years ago we had a “cousin retreat” at the beach. I’m the eldest of eighteen cousins, most of which live in Oregon. We rented a large beach house. Many of my cousins and their families showed up, and all was fun and light-hearted. Until…

One cousin asked me about my childhood. About the thing I kept silent about. My stomach flipped when she asked. But I saw her eyes. I don’t know how long ago she learned of it, but she had questions and concern and I could see she needed answers. I did not owe her answers. But I love my cousin and don’t want her to speculate on details of that nature so I answered each question she asked. Other cousins trickled into the room we occupied. They had questions too.

The next day, a family member that wasn’t part of the private discussion said something to me at breakfast. He felt it was inappropriate that I talked about my childhood trauma during our happy gathering. He seemed to think I started the conversation and offered the gory details of my childhood unsolicited. His side remark punched me in the gut and I felt embarrassed and ashamed.

An aunt who joined our cousin beach retreat stepped in to comfort the family member who shamed me. “If you want to talk about it, for some perspective,” she said, concerned. She ignored me standing there in the kitchen. Standing there in disbelief. Everyone else quiet, eyes down at their breakfast.

I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that day. It hurt me deeply. Instead, I’ve only screamed in dreams. Vivid dreams where I screamed everything I never knew I wanted and needed to say. Just writing this – the pain is there still.

Family Shame

Remembering that moment at breakfast with my cousin, whom I love, still makes my heart ache. It chokes me up. How could he not understand? How could he blame me? Why would he shame me by scolding me like that?

It wasn’t his fault. My aunt shielded him from the truth.  A family of enablers protecting the wrong people. In doing so, many of my family members had the wrong information. Can’t fault them for that. 

Still, it hurts.  No family member outside my immediate family (except for one aunt who sent a text message) expressed compassion for what happened to me.  No sympathy or empathy. Only judgment, questions, and now, separation and exclusion.  No invites to Thanksgiving dinner.  

And I buried it. For the past few years, I have replaced disappointment and hurt with anger and no shits given

I’ve spoken of the beach house incident twice to family members. Or tried to.  Always, it came out in this feverish, don’t-know-how-to-say-it way. I searched earnestly for an understanding response. A sign of support. Both times, it left me feeling worse than I did before. Sorry, it was inappropriate of me to bring it up.

Now, I save this topic, in any capacity, for my entrusted circle. It consists of few people. They know who they are. (My sisters, especially. I love you!)

This is my first time writing about it. My vague it. Because I still don’t like to call it what it is.

The reason I share now, with you…

Because Thanksgiving is a time for reflection. My grandfather just died and my brain is on my family. As death does, it claws reality up to the harsh surface and forces you to face it.

My whole life, people preached grace and forgiveness to me. “Forgiveness sets you free.” “Forgiveness is for you, not for them.” My small, developing brain hard-wired itself to silence. As a child, the only way I could forgive was to pretend it never happened at all. “Forgiveness” is an enabler’s favorite tool. It’s evil’s favorite control device.

Not to say forgiveness has no place. However, if someone violates you, forgiveness is a default expectation. It should not be. We should not force forgiveness down throats of little girls and women, young or old. It’s confusing. It is harmful.

Thanksgiving 2019 – Empowerment

This Thanksgiving I’m taking back my power. Yes, it’s cliché, but dammit, it’s a good cliché!

I’m thankful for the family I have that supports and loves me unconditionally. My brothers and sisters. Mother and stepmother. My husband and children. They know my truth and never judged or shamed me for it.

I believe in forgiveness.  This Thanksgiving I forgive myself. The little girl who silenced herself to survive. 

I forgive the young woman that broke her silence, changing the dynamics of her family forever. I forgive the single mother who believed she failed her children time and time again.  A mother who wasn’t always emotionally or mentally present in the months and years following divorce. 

My forgiveness of self won’t happen overnight.  I type this and share it with you to make myself accountable. I have much healing to do and it won’t be easy. Not with the ease in which I fall back into the bury-it-and-forget-it mode.  Not with the small hurts that occur from extended family who open up old wounds.  My wounds require serious naturopathic therapy.  Deep cleansing and flushing out of toxins.

Forgive yourself this Thanksgiving.

Now that I’ve shared personal information in vague detail, I hope to inspire you to contemplate forgiveness and what it means for you. 

This Thanksgiving, I implore you to focus on YOU.  To those who experienced abuse, for those who suffer in silent guilt, it’s not your job to forgive your offender.  It’s our life’s work to forgive ourselves.  To reclaim our power.  Erase the stigma we have of ourselves. Practice true self-love.  It’s the only way we can be free. And the only way we can truly give love to those around us who deserve it. 

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for you. Thank you for reading my words and my truth. Thank you for your support and love. xoxo, Deanna

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Hold On. Let Go.

Hold On. Let Go.

Poetry by Liz Baronofsky 

It’s hard to explain the part of your journey
You have to face alone
I’ve been dangling on a thread
For a good portion of my life
Hooked by fear
Teetering between holding on
And letting go
Of most things
Of almost everything

I’ve been as close as a step away from giving up
5 steps away from moving forward
10 steps away from running
A mountain away from faith
And at times
Inches away from the edge

(Hold on tight the pendulum is shifting).

About the Poet

<strong>Liz Baronofsky</strong>
Liz Baronofsky

I grew up in a small town, right outside Philadelphia. I am a full-time Mom, Registered Nurse and also own a photography business (B Philly Photography). I spend as much time outdoors as possible and feel most connected and grounded amongst nature. 

Writing has carried me through the best and worst times of my life. I lost my father to cancer at age 7 and when you’re that young you don’t carry the capacity to truly comprehend such a large loss. As I got older, the only way I could give that part of me a voice was through writing. As an adult, right before my oldest daughter was born, I started having debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Writing was one of the few outlets I had to help me process and navigate through those experiences.

Now, with the very recent loss of my sister, I have found that writing has truly been a saving grace for me. I am currently putting a manuscript together for a book. Hopefully, in the near future, it will be published.

You can follow me on instagram @wage_the_war  Instagram

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The #1 Writing Tool

Lost at Sea

Lost at Sea

By Deanna Ramirez

It is though in those years⠀
I was lost at sea⠀

Longed hard for love’s arms ⠀
to wrap warmth around me⠀

Instead glacial glares ⠀
Frost dealt cold as ice⠀

Left to tread frigid dread⠀
Just so you would play nice

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Forgiveness takes time
Forgiveness is not black and white⠀
For layers peel back in their time ⠀
A placid beast of delicate skins⠀
expose deep lesions ⠀
Wounds cannot forgive ⠀
Their sting stirs memory⠀
Only time can heal⠀
Never to forget ⠀

By Deanna Ramirez ©

The Little Shed

The little shed is painted blue
with two old chairs for me and you
We sit and talk till stars shine high
Discuss wild dreams and sometimes cry
The shed is dark and meant for tools
but staged just right for dreaming fools
One day we'll laugh and reminisce
Having checked off goals from
our shed dream list

Dedicated to my honey. ❤
-Deanna Ramirez ©