Saturday, July 23, 2022

Last Days of July

Flowers blooming, garden growing-- summer in full swing. Earlier this week, we had a long soaking rain, from 3 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon. This rain has been the necessary elixir-- everything benefits from steady gentle rain. Now we are entering our third day of steamy heat. Trying to get outside chores done before it gets too hot. It's hard to believe that two months have sailed by since the end of the Spring semester. Looking forward, the Fall semester will begin in approximately 5 weeks. So much to do in the next five weeks. I'm still trying to write every day. So far, I have been successful with a fistful of poems and 100-word stories. Earlier this week, I began a working list of prompts that trigger memories for me. I am currently reading Joy Hargo's memoir Poet Warrior It's a gorgeous narrative, braiding poetry and prose. Reading it has made me feel connected to this life. Harjo's storytelling captured my attention immediately. I literally devoured 100 pages in under three hours. A voice kept telling me to slow down, but I couldn't. It's breath-taking. Making summer jams. Two batches of strawberry done in late June. Now thinking of apricot and raspberry. Getting jars ready to be filled. Something wonderful about jam and toast and a breakfast mug of Irish tea or coffee. I am a creature of comfort habits. In garden news, the yellow squash has exploded with its good fortune. Picking this bounty young captures its best flavors. We're eating more and more vegetarian meals. For me, I feel like I am eating the sun. I am satisfied and feel healthy in my choices. We are going to have a huge crop of cucumbers this year. last few years we have failed miserably. I have the vines growing vertically, up a fence, which will keep the cukes from getting lost on the ground. Hopefully, this works. My grandma Iuppa had a vertical garden in her back yard. She lived in the city, where properties were close together. I loved her garden. It was magically for me, watching her work. I wonder what she would say about our struggling blue lake green beans. This year's plants have struggled from seed. This never happens. Our dry beans (pintos, black, red) are off and running. It's so strange. Tomatoes are growing by leaps and bounds. I have "saved" at least 20 god-given tomato plants. Hopefully, there are orange and yellow tomatoes in what I transplanted to rows. We'll see. The cherry-size tomatoes are starting to produce. So sweet. Something wonderful about popping them in your mouth and letting them meltdown to that squirt of sweetness. So, so good. Now to enjoy every minute of the next five weeks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

June 2022: 100 Days of Healing

Planting Garden (50x50) Summer 2022

 Garden Update:  Thus far, I've planted  sunburst and sweet 100s cherry tomatoes; Ancho peppers, Marigolds and Italian eggplants in complimentary growing; marigolds keep those pesky tiny beetles from eating the eggplant leaves to lace.Sweet bell peppers, red, orange, yellow, green; beets red, orange and candy cane; carrots: Little fingers and Sci-Fi blend, and yellow squash.

A lot more to plant, and I will move along at my daydreaming speed until the whole garden is complete.  I have hopes that this year will be a perfect growing season.


Writing update:  Since the end of the semester, I have been trying to settle myself  into a routine of reading and writing and creating. Last night, I attended poet Michael Czarnecki's weekly poetry sessions.  This session, Michael read a selection of his spontaneous poems and the opening of his lyrical memoir; then opened the reading to an open mic.  The poets and friends who attend these weekly sessions are some of my favorite people. Their poetry is stunning: lyrical narratives that embrace, history, mythology, identity, travel, cultures . . . I get goosebumps listening to each and every one.

I am so grateful to this community.

Since end of May, I have been writing every day.  Have a fistful of poems now, a few 100 word stories, too. I think beginning each day with the intent to accomplish: gardening, writing, drawing, walking, daydreaming will restore my soul that has been banged up in the last 100 days.  

Last night, Michael Czarnecki explained  his 3-sided (pyramid) POV.  One side is the natural world (inspiration); 2nd side is creating, and 3rd side is people.  He feels that this approach has allowed him to be his true self.

 Down the Rabbit Hole:  I  have been watching (binge watching) the following shows: 3rd season of Barry (HBO/MAX), and The Anatomy of a Scandal (Netflix). The Anatomy has been haunting me.  It has trigger topics (rape, infidelity, fraternity,  and so on). It has made me very thoughtful.

Currently reading  American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Happy New Year!


Publication in 2021



“Dwelling, Here” Amethyst Review, January, 2021

“Captivity” Front Porch Review, January, 2021

“Surviving the Fog” The Trouvaille Review, January, 2021

“Left Behind” Bluepepper, February, 2021

“Another Premonition” and “The Elements of Winter” Red Eft Review, February, 2021

“I Have Things to Tell You,” “Every Word,” and “A Growing Compulsion”

Dreich 5, UK, March, 2021

“Zoom Hour” Global Poemic, March, 2021

“Lullaby,” “Casting” “Clear sky” (cinquain) The Bamboo Hut, 2021.

“Surviving the Fog” The Pangolin Review, (reprint) April, 2021

“This is Salvation” Front Porch Review, April 2021

“Plans” Autumn Sky Daily, April 2021

“Barely Morning” Third Wednesday, May 2021

“Today’s Sympathy” Here: a poetry journal, 2021

"Forgetting Everything in the Rush to Get There" The Rail, May, 2021

“Walking in Fog” The Trouvaille Review, May, 2021

“Sinking into the Depths of Noon” One Art Poetry, May 2021

“Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon” Red Eft Review, June 2021

“Almost, Time” Red Eft Review, June, 2021

“Safekeeping” Le Mot Juste Anthology, 2021

“On the Brink of Tomorrow” The Amethyst Review, June 2021

“Looking for the Future” Fireflies’ Light, July, 2021

“Hauling Water” The Trouvaille Review, August, 2021

“Shadow and Bough” Amethyst Review, August, 2021

“In Need of Company” Eunoia Review, September 2021

“Expectations” Amethyst Review, October, 2021

“The Cold Insult of So Much Rain” Right Hand Pointing, October, 2021

“Passing By” The Trouvaille Review, October, 2021

“True Enough” and “The Wind” Red Eft Review, November-December 2021

“One Breath, One Wish,” “Gratitude,” and “Seeking Shelter” SOFTBLOW, December, 2021

“Blue Circling to Yellow” Eunoia Review, January 2022

 2 cheritas (morning & darkness outside) the cherita (UK), 2/2022 and 3/2022

“A Little Space” Eunoia Review, April, 2022

1 cherita (the farmhouse stands) the cherita UK, 6/2022




“White Noise” Milk Candy Review, Winter, 2021

“Up in Arms” and “Yew (You)” Otoliths, Winter, 2021

“Everyday Life” PIF Magazine, February, 2021

“She Would Be Worried” A Story in 100 Words, February, 2021

“Holding, Still” The Dribble Drabble Review, March, 2021

“Early Bird Special” A Story in 100 Words, April, 2021

“Heart(break) The Drabble, April, 2021

“Headlines” City. River. Tree. 2021

“Loose Thread” Eunoia Review, May, 2021

“Spending Time Alone” A Story in 100 Words, June, 2021

“Double Take” Eunoia Review, August, 2021

“Everything Will Be Perfect” A Story in 100 Words, September, 2021

“Cracks in the Night Clouds” Eunoia Review, November, 2021

 “Crazy” A Story in 100 Words, November, 2021



CNF Essays:

“Another Dark Place” Eunoia Review, February, 2021

“In a Silent Way” Otoliths, May, 2021

“This is What I Found” Turtle Island Quarterly, August, 2021

“When the Unexpected Fails You” Otoliths, August, 2021

“Seeking Transcendence” Ovunque Siamo, November, 2021





“Nearly, Magnolia” “Masked” Anthology, Black Dog & One-Eyed Press,

  Nova Scotia, Canada, 2021

“Another Dark Place” Tiny Seed Literary Journal Anthology: Forest, September 2021

“There and Not There” Voices Israel Anthology, Israel, 2021

“I Saw You Crying in Church” Around the World: Landscapes and Cityscapes,

  Sweetycat Press, November, 2021


Books, chapbooks

The Weight of Air, full length poetry collection. Kelsay Books, 2022

Rock. Paper. Scissors., chapbook of 24 100-word stories, Foothills Publishing, 2022


Nominations & Awards

Best Microfiction 2022 nomination from Milk Candy Review for “White Noise” published in January, 2021

Sunday, November 7, 2021

November: Time to Fall Back!

Photo by MR Tonery, 2020 

This is Charles.


These are the days of Cat's Cradle: Darkness will come earlier now. The air feels significantly cooler.Time to bank fires in the wood stove. Only 4 weeks left in the Fall Semester.  Everything is starting to  pick up and slow down at the same time.  I feel caught in this Warp Speed. Held still in the commotion that circles me constantly.  I am suspended in this hour that promises me a bit more time.   To accomplish what eludes me daily. 

I make lists in my head.  Yesterday was a good day to check things off the list.  I felt satisfied by early afternoon. Now to re-trigger my own creative writing and art making.  The sun is shining today.  Everything thing seems to be golden.  I need to go for a hike.  Get inspired by the nature that surrounds me. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Autumn in Western NY. Gold and Bronze. Time of Reflection.

                       Letchworth State Park: 10/28/2021. Photo by Meghan Rose Tonery

This week (10/23-10/31)began with rain, teeming rain, day into night, into the next day; rain swelling the creeks to overflowing. The foliage this year is gold, bright yellow, and bronze, with dashes of red.  It hasn't been cold enough for the leaves to be dazzling as in the past. However, the season is upon us. The harvest, nearly done.  Storage cupboards and freezers full. We are grateful for this year's many gifts.   I imagine, in winter, when the wind is howling  over Lake Ontario and the snow is fall like arrows, we will be happy to have toast with a dollop of  our Fair Weather Strawberry Jam.  We will close our eyes and savor the taste of summer.


                          October's Field of Sunflowers, Route 19, entering Pavillon NY,

                                                                                 Photo: Meghan Rose Tonery

This has been a season of looking over my shoulder, wanting to take stock in where I have been and where I am going, still going.  I am at a point in my life where everything counts or is being counted, and I don't want to miss those moments of solitude, of taking an easy breath, of standing in a forest, or on a hillside, or in a field, with my arms loose at my sides, and think, This is it. 


                                                       *  *  *

                  And, the Big Chair was Just Right! 
Photo: Meghan Rose Tonery

With real effort and determination, channeling the seven-year-old inside of me, I climbed     up this Big Chair on the grounds near Letchworth Dam. Sitting in this chair, I felt connected to all the others who have climbed up and sat here for a minute or two, or more. There was a warning sign: Do not hang off the back of chair; do not hang off of the arms. But, no warning not to sit here. 

What a thrill to climb up gracefully into this perfect seat.  Queen for a minute.  Then, Meghan asked me how I was going to get down. I thought for a moment ( it was quite a drop to the ground) and decided to re-trace my steps.  Ta-da!  Home free.

                                                    *  *  *

Good News came on October 19th, 2021. Foothills Publishing (Michael and Carolyn Czarnecki, publishers, editors, producers) accepted my 100-word story chapbook: Rock. Paper. Scissors., which features twenty-four 100-word stories. I am so grateful to them, for believing in my work these many years. 



    Letchworth State Park. Photo by Meghan Rose Tonery


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Last Days of August: Looking Back on Summer

Ontario Series, #1, July, 2021

M.J. Iuppa

Over the summer, I made nature collages: stones, shells, sea glass found on the Lake Ontario beaches.  I created scenes, which I hope inspires tranquility. The gift of summer, of being barefoot and walking on the sandy beach,close to the lip of the lake.  I have made four of these so far. Framed them in 4x6 black frames. They are small windows.  Two have been taken to new homes. I was thrilled that they were desired. It made me happy. New skill: I learned how to use a glue gun without removing my fingerprints.

As soon as the Spring semester ended in May, our planting season began.  My husband had great luck starting our plants from seeds in our greenhouse.  He even started flowers: Moon flowers, Lupines, Zinnias, Sunflowers, Marigolds-- all with great success.  Our flower gardens have many colors and have been fun to watch them grow and multiple.

We successfully planted three gardens: North, East and South, which total 5000 square feet. This is a lot to maintain.  Now we're harvesting our efforts.  Canning tomatoes, from sauce to puree, to whole in tomato juice. A steamy process.

It's been warm here.  The heat is always expected in August, but this summer was truly pleasant, with many mild days and a decent amount of rain and sun. Perfect for gardens and orchards.  So far, we have stayed ahead of our harvesting.  I think I planted more than 200 tomato plants, cherry to plum to a variety of slicers. Thus far, nothing disappoints.

Besides gardening, I gave myself a writing challenge. To write  every morning, which I did faithfully at the start of summer, and was successful in completing poems, 100 word stories, lyric essays. As the summer progressed, I had to divide my attention.  Big garden commitment.  Of course, the gardens need the care of small children.  I mean things can get out of control pretty fast.  So I fussed over everything every day. You guessed it, in the morning, before the sun got too hot.  A chunk of writing time spent in the garden.  But not lost time, I think I was writing in the garden.  Loose thoughts coming together in my head.  Lines repeating as I weeded.  It was good work.  I am grateful for this life on the farm.  How it restores me. 

A lot of change:  I made the decision to retire from St. John Fisher College after 24.5 years.  It's startling to  realize that I have been teaching there, January 1997 to August, 2021. So many classes and bright students, and papers and tests, and creative writing and visual art, and performances and readings, and laughter and discoveries and collaborations.  I will miss that the most. I am grateful to my many wonderful colleagues (faculty and staff).  I received a lot of support in my efforts to bring quality Art programs to St. John Fisher College. I am grateful for my work experience there.

Now I will continue teaching at The College at Brockport this semester and the next. Closer to home, with three classes to teach. No night classes.  I am looking forward to the start of this semester on 8/30/21.  I taught remote courses all last year.  It's going to be wonderful being face to face in the classroom again. Hopefully, all of us will remain healthy as we navigate through the semester.  It can be done as long as we're aware of what we need to do to stay safe.

Lastly, I wanted to create several manuscripts this summer, and I was successful. I have a micro-chapbook of prose (lyric essays and a prose poem) called In a Silent Way; a chapbook of  twenty-four 100 word stories called Rock. Paper. Scissors.; and my fifth full-length poetry collection called The Weight of Air. I have submitted these manuscripts to chapbook competitions and presses. 

On 8/6/2021, I submitted The Weight of Air to Kelsay Books for possible publication.  It was accepted on 8/19/2021, with publication scheduled for May, 2022.  I am thrilled by this good news. 

Soon, the air will change, and shadows will grow longer, and autumn with be upon us. Another change of season.  

Sunday, June 6, 2021

June 6th, 2021: I have No Idea How It's Suddenly June


Photo: Meghan Rose Tonery, June 2020

Time for Confession?  I Hear Ya! 

Suddenly, It's June.  The work and stress of teaching is like the memory of childbirth.  Already, I have forgotten the intense labor of those last weeks. True, I learned a lot, teaching in the "remote" format, but  I missed being on campus.  I am looking forward to teaching face to face in Fall 2021.

Somehow, I found the energy to do a fistful of end of year reports by their due dates in May as well as  editing the upcoming 2021-22 catalog copy. With each task checked off the To-Do list, I felt lighter and lighter. I have forgotten my high anxiety, which was complicated by the number of hours I spent online.  It's a little nutty how working from home doesn't have the "limits" of shutting your office door for the night or weekend. Instead, work is always there.  I think both instructors and students suffered from this "constant" presence of work to be done.  I am not sure what exactly I learned  this past year. I stepped up; my students stepped up.  We got it done.  Now we're looking around, feeling a tiny bit lost, because we are suddenly free to do whatever we want.   For me, that feeling of being oar-less is disconcerting, but I somehow right myself after two weeks of drifting . . .  Now working on new poems and stories; edited my novella, hoping that it holds up for my readers (we'll see what they say!); sending manuscripts of prose and poems out. It's been 4 years since I've put together a manuscript.  The process requires such concentration to get it just right (we'll see what they say!).  

Of course, time doesn't wait here on the farm.  Our gardens (5000 square feet) are nearly planted to capacity.  We are out there in the early morning, trying to get things done before the sun and its brash white light fries us to a crisp.  It's been plenty warm lately.  Gardens are looking good, too.

My time in the garden is a meditation on whatever I'm writing or editing.  So I can weed a couple hours; then come in and work a few hours on writing projects.  I hope this will be a summer of healing and accomplishment.  Here's hoping we have bushels and bushels of produce!