Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Give Me a Book!

Trolling through my Twitter page this morning, I came upon a fellow tweeter (@brendamantz) asking, "What happens if you've given someone a Kindle book as a gift and they already have it?  Can they choose a different book?"  Beside the validity of this question (one I would like to know the answer to), I began to think about the last time I was given a book as a gift.  The unbearably disappointing answer is:  never.  I couldn't believe it.  No one has ever given me a book to read.  (Mom, feel free to interject here...BUT giving me a journal is not a book to read, although I am forever grateful for your gifts of support.)

On my book bag is a quote from Abraham Lincoln:  "My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read."  (Frown and sigh)  I have given countless numbers of books to people as gifts, and I think I was more excited watching them open these gifts than they were to receive them.  I even took the time out to write a little inscription in the cover with an encouraging note and my favorite lines from the book.  What happened to the act of reciprocity here, people?  I am sorry if my gift left you feeling like this little boy: Books for Christmas.

While I do realize that many people do not share in my passion for reading, I still can't believe I don't have one friend who would like to share a book that has touched their life in some form or fashion with me.  Everyone knows I collect books like teenagers collect songs on iTunes, and more in the hoarding sense of the word.  Now I am sounding like a selfish little child on Christmas morning who did not get everything she wanted from Santa, I know.  But, I guess the moral of this little story, or epiphany if you will, is that we need to give more books.  If you don't want to take it from me, take it from these people:

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." - Charles W. Eliot

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde

"The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television." - Andrew Ross

"A house without books is like a room without windows." - Heinrich Mann

"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes." - Erasmus

So, I guess I will continue being my own best friend and buy myself some books.  I just bought my first book for my Kindle on iPad yesterday:  Jessie Carty's touching collection of poems, Paper House.  And I will continue to give books to my friends and family in hopes they will pretend to like them more and maybe even read a page or two.

P.S.  If you have more quotes on books or reading to share, please do!  I would love to read them. :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

 Even Papo (My Grandpa) is here!
 Dad, Myself, and Mom  - What a view she has!
 The Family with Mom (others were there in spirit)
 Dad and Auntie Linda with Mom
Mom getting ready to blow out her candles

And Death Shall Have No Dominion by Dylan Thomas : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.  Click on the link to read the poem...

My family and I went the day after Thanksgiving to visit my Grandmother at the cemetery on her birthday. What a bittersweet moment in life. It strikes you the way a cold gush of wind can take the breath from your chest. The only thing missing was Elvis' "One Night With You" playing in the background, but we were all singing it to ourselves in our heads. At least, I was. This memory is so vivid, and it unfolded itself just like a poem.

My aunt placed yellow roses by the headstone and secured them with a rubber-band, half standing on Mom's (my Grandma's nickname) side and the other half on Papo's (my Grandpa's nickname). I don't think we looked at each other for fear of the tears starting and never stopping. My dad opened up the champagne, laughed at seeing how far the cork flew, and as I was walking back from retrieving it, he poured a little of the champagne out for each of them. Other family members showed up, we made mimosas, toasted to Mom and wished her a happy birthday. We stood around and talked and laughed, all of this feeling so normal, just like we were sitting in Mom's living room. We lit the candles on the carrot cake, sang "Happy Birthday", and I cannot even remember who blew the candles out - maybe we just let them burn. Opened up another bottle of champagne, my cousin had a contest with my dad to see whose cork went the longer distance, and that was the way the day played out. We all went out for a late lunch and spent more family time together over fried ice cream. I feel as if I had two Thanksgivings this year.

"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die, " said Thomas Campbell. Mom will never die, she just gets better with age, something I know she is smiling at as I write it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lyrics, Unfinished (A new poem)

Lyrics, Unfinished

I want to write words
To “Too Young to Go
Steady” and fill your mouth
With poetic relics thick
As peanut butter.  A voice
Trapped in quicksand,
A saxophone of thoughts
All leading back to this one
Memory.  I’ll fill your mind
With words of a lover you set out
To find only you won’t be able
To open your mouth for a kiss.
I’ll drown out the music, hold it
Underwater, as you try to swallow
And say clearly how you loved me
As we hid behind the sycamore tree
In the front of our school waiting
To catch the bus home.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I just enjoyed viewing the slide show entitled, "Prettiest Lighthouses In The World" on The Huffington Post.  I have always loved lighthouses, and being that I have seen only a handful of them in person, I find myself obsessing over beautiful photographs of lighthouses when I come across them. 

Lighthouses have long been regarded as symbols of safety and were credited with helping ships make it out of danger's way and into the safe comfort of their harbors.  They have provided light and direction, and in short, are immovable, with the exception of some grand force of nature.  A lighthouse had always been a constant for those who have looked to them.  Although many lighthouses are no longer in use because they have been replaced by more efficient, modern technologies, they are still figurative monuments in our lives.  Mine:  my mother, my husband, and my poetry and life-in-general mentor, Jack Myers.  Even when I've felt I could not see the light, they prodded me to keep moving forward, and sure enough, there it was:  their light, even if it was just a haze, and beside it, the harbor, be it what it may have been at the time.  Their light still shines brightly for me each day and I am beyond grateful.

A recent favorite lighthouse photograph by Fred Field appeared on the cover of the Spring 2010 issue of The Cafe Review. 
Fred Field has taken other beautiful photographs of lighthouses and beautiful landscapes, and if you would like to view some of his work, you can do so by visiting his website:

Remember your lighthouses, and be a lighthouse yourself, Andrea

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's Never Too Late to Become a Gardener

One of my favorite passages from Ray Bradury's Fahrenheit 451:

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.

It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In Need of Lots of Luck

About a month ago, I enrolled in an online poetry class through Stanford University.  I need to force myself back into the world of poetry and reconnect with one of the great loves of my life:  the written word.  I am looking forward to this journey and words cannot express my excitement and fear.  But fear is good, no?  I find it to be the very foundation of any great success.  James Arthur is my instructor, and I am quite a fan of his poem, "On Day and Night."  A link to the poem:

Please wish me lots of luck and inspiration.  I have a feeling I will need it!  I have received my first reading and writing assignment and am giggling with pleasure.  This blog will accompany me on my new poetic path.

"I write for the same reason I breathe: because if I didn't, I would die." - Isaac Asimov

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

All You Need is Love...

A new friend (@Miridunn) shared a compelling quote on her Twitter page today:  "The world feeds lust and lets real love starve." - Paul Potts  My response to her was, "The world is obsessed with lust, and most certainly because they do not recognize love."

We turn on the news in the morning or the evening and are bombarded with stories of crimes committed in cold blood...we often turn off the television thinking to ourselves that the world is getting worse every day. We allow ourselves to become desensitized and disillusioned about life, love, the meaning of family, friendship, faith, and the list could go on.  What we fail to see because we have been programmed not to notice it as much is all of the love that surrounds us.  We fail ourselves by not taking even a mere five minutes out of our day to look at the people around us and witness real acts of love.

I chose to take this five minutes today and make it a gift of love for myself.  I took time to notice things I would not have noticed otherwise had I not had a purpose behind my quiet sitting.  I told myself, "Open eyes, close mouth."  The couple sitting on my right could not keep their hands off each other, and I lost count of their seemingly endless kisses.  After tending his tables, my waiter kept walking over to the girl behind the counter and tenderly touching her swelling tummy, so happy for the life growing inside of her.  A Harold-and-Maude couple came in, arms around each other as if they would never hold each other again.  He kept his eyes on her and I wondered if I even saw him blink.  She asked him if her Indian headdress was a little much for the restaurant, and he confidently reassured her that no one else would dare to wear such a piece because no one would be able to pull it off the way she did.  After I had paid my bill and started my walk to my car, the girl behind the counter told me to have a great day, I wished her the same, and she responded by saying that she appreciated me saying so.  I decided has exceeded by five minute allocation for observing love in whatever forms I would come across, and satisfied by this time I had spent, began my drive home.  I then realized I could not stop with the experiment.  I was looking in car windows, observing interactions in parking lots, watching people walking out of stores or standing in line at the snow-cone stand.  There is so much love in the world to see if you focus on it.  I renewed my faith in love today.  I renewed hope in my heart.  I will give this to myself every day from now on.

Five minutes...five minutes is long enough to turn a day around and kindly remind you as John Lennon so perfectly penned, "All You Need is Love."

Find love others, find love in yourself.  Love yourself because you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life. ;)  Share it and see it multiply.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Burying the Name

Burying the Name

My name is somewhere
between my hand and my heart.
My name means nothing 
because of where
it comes from,  no familiar
place to find comfort in.

The world echoes 
into nothing but is something.
A world with no recognition
of color, no classification
of death, and streets filled
with people I have forgotten.

I dream up poems thick
as mayonnaise.  Cross my 
heart and hope no one dies 
before they hear the words
I meant to say.

Talking out loud to no one
does not constitute a cleansing
of one's conscience.  I have
relegated the dead into particles
of matter because the dead
were the ones who mattered most.

All these things left 
undone, with no place
to grieve.  Burying
my name was the easiest part.

- Andrea Beltran

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Taking Root

The seed was planted long ago, but was not harvested.  A love for life, for words, for the art that is poetry which is fed from the poetry that is life...I am just now recognizing the need for water and light and am holding fast to a prayer for growth.

In his Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, "...have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and try to cherish the questions themselves..."  There is much that remains unsolved in my heart, and it is through reading and writing that I feel free to embrace the questions and explore their possible answers, if there really are any definite answers to anything.  Questions are branches in my life, all reaching up toward the infinite sky, and if I should touch but one star, I will be happy.

A poem for today written by Jack Myers, a man whom I deeply admired and who taught me more than he would ever know:

On Nights Like This

On nights like this I'm happy
simply being still.
It's a small happiness
like my mother's hand
brushing back my hair.
Even a child's peace of mind
can seem enormous.

When I was a boy I loved to stare
into the velvet-lined cases
of accordions and guitars.
Something that contains music
feels deeper than music,
darker than all the instruments
I threw away.

That left my by myself
wishing the wind would tear
layer after layer of me
into someone's direction.  And I admit once
I tried to throw myself away.

But tonight I'm finding it
in my heart to forgive myself.
God knows why.
I lift the darkness, step inside,
and imagine the sun
hour after hour
slowly brush across the sky
until it's empty.

It's such a small happiness,
so much has passed,
I hold both hands.