Sunday, October 07, 2018

Miracle Mind

It sits deep inside my sister's mind
that bloody wound
while someone and someone and someone and so many someones
are all calling to her. I believe that
Karen hears the sound in a growing whisper. 
This now is the prayer,
this is how we plead:

 
we beg you not to listen to
the doctors who have little hope.
Focus instead your eyes here,
On this Burning Bush,
On the parting of the Red Sea
on every miracle Moses witnessed
and each and every gem and blessing
that is every moment of every single day.
This is how to live:
above all else,
give yourself and others love and love and love
and heavenly vision.
Don’t just recite poetry
eat it morning, noon and night.
Feed too on divine light and breathe 
your mind and heart right into hers.
As I write these words, a new flock of birds has settled on the limestone rocks.
There is a curious golden color coating the underside of their wings.
And a splash of white on their tails.
They slip in and out of view
And land on the trees like woodpeckers do.
And you too, your eyes slip in and out of view
But today I’m taking take comfort in this:
Both your eyes opened, over and over again, and when you beheld your daughter, you vise-gripped her hand. 
That was yesterday.
And today is still one more day for miracles.

October 7, 2018

Friday, September 28, 2018

I Dreamt About Them Last Night!

By Richard Kirsch

I dreamt about them last night, their faces rising in my dreams and each time I awoke. Hers – sad, powerful, dignified. His angry scowl barely hiding a smirk. 

Can you imagine if she acted like him: raging, crying? What they would say about whether an hysterical woman has the temperament to be on the Court?

She answered calmly, quietly. Reliving her nightmare with dignity. Asking for the truth so it could help her be of more service to her country.

He bobbed and weaved, evading questions, attacking his questioners. Angrily denouncing a great conspiracy. A conspiracy of truth? And he has a judicial temperament?

He was silenced for a moment when Senator Durbin asked him whether he personally believed there should be an FBI investigation. Because he knew the answer was yes –  he also knew it wasn’t up to him, because he had to kowtow to the orders of the President and Republicans in the Senate. Showing himself to be the political hack he still is, even as he sits on a federal court.

Where do we look for hope? Yes, in her heroism. Yes in the millions who declare they believe her and other women. And men. Yes in the movements we have seen surge around the country these last few years, movements that were rising even before Trump’s election. Movements rising more and more since.

Does the moral arc of history bend toward justice? I often ask that when I’m looking for hope. When I’m looking to spring from the anger of injustice to the activism that powers my life. Anger the trampoline. Hope the sky above. But does that sky really have a rainbow bending toward a moral pot of gold?

Yes and no. Yes, over time the world has become a more just place. But not as an arc. More like a lightning bolt – zigging and zagging from the deepest most awful periods in which tyranny and cruelty and hatred and the cowering, scared, tribal, awfulness of humanity dominates. A lightning bolt of fire and destruction. To periods when justice and solidarity and love and people and our governments acting out of the profound understanding of our common humanity triumph. A lightning bolt of progress that transforms lives for generations. 

But today I’m sad. Their faces haunt me. As the faces of children separated from their families have haunted me. And the faces of families fleeing war in Syria have haunted me. As …

I’ll have to sit with that. 


Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Grey Morning With Nothing to Say

This morning when I went into the forest to collect the words
I found that they were grey and damp from the cold autumn rain.
I picked up an armful of dark phrases from the forest floor, and carried them back to the house.
I set them there beside the hearth and wondered once again
how can I possibly light a fire or write a poem without kindling or paper or the possibility of matches?
That was the moment you poked your head in the door and said no matter that it was 53 degrees, you were going to dress in winter clothing and sit with your rainbow hat and the prayer beads out on the deck.
Why do I need reminding that I too can aspire to some kind of peaceful start to the day?
Or at least, I can sit calmly, my hands covering my heart, my mind like a squirrel flittering over the rocks, and me lifting my eyes and staring out into the battleship-colored clouds.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Of Hummingbirds and Lions"

Two Drops of Ink, one of the most popular on-line writing sites, has published my poem, "Of Hummingbirds and Lions:"

"Two hummingbirds come to the weathered rail of the grey porch, poke in and out of the red boxed flowers, back away.  


They hover beside my ear, wings beating the air, bringing the only hope of a breeze.
 
Beyond the sharp beaks, pointing, lie blonde hills topped by smoky blue haze.  The tawny mountains drop, disappear imperceptibly into the ocean..."

To read the entire poem, check out
 Two Drops of Ink.

To order
 Sister Mysteries, my new novel, go to claudiajricci.com or Amazon.com. 

It's no coincidence that the setting of the new novel is the same golden California hillside that appears in this poem. I wrote the poem while at a writing colony in California. And I wrote a lot of the novel at the same colony.

Readers are giving the new novel high praise:


“Ms. Ricci writes a real page turner; I found it challenging to put this book down! The immediately-engaging characters of Sister Renata and Gina develop a complicated relationship across time that sweeps the reader up in the dramatic events of the story that turns out to involve them both. In addition, Sister Mysteries is a wonderful fugue on the power of writing and also the power of music--a lot to accomplish. The author does this with seeming effortlessness--Bravo!” 

"Just an absolutely amazing piece of work. The vivid imagery, the poetry, the artistry.  Her writing has a flow and cadence that penetrates and turns the reader into a fellow traveler. I can't wait to share this with others."

"
Claudia Ricci is an amazingly gifted writer. Beautiful, painful, torturous, true, mysterious, provocative and healing -- a story of courage and friendship in the face of greed, power and betrayal."

"
Her descriptions are so vivid and the story itself is so intriguing."



Sunday, September 09, 2018

"A Real Page Turner!"




You spend what feels like an eternity writing a book, and then, once it’s published, you wonder, are people going to like it?

But when readers start sending in reviews like the one below, a great weight is lifted.
“Ms. Ricci writes a real page turner; I found it challenging to put this book down! The immediately-engaging characters of Sister Renata and Gina develop a complicated relationship across time that sweeps the reader up in the dramatic events of the story that turns out to involve them both. In addition, Sister Mysteries is a wonderful fugue on the power of writing and also the power of music--a lot to accomplish. The author does this with seeming effortlessness--Bravo!” 

For those of you who have purchased the book, a hearty thanks. Are there one or two friends to whom you might recommend the book? Are you part of a book group?

Discounts apply, and I would be happy to visit with the group for a discussion.

To buy the book, please visit my website, www.claudiajricci.com, or go to
 Amazon.com for either a paper copy or an ebook.

 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Flamenco guitarist Maria Zemantauski plays at the book party!

Maria Zemantauski is a virtuoso guitarist and composer, and -- I am very fortunate to say -- a good friend.  She was kind enough to drive an hour and a half on Sunday to come to my party celebrating Sister Mysteries. The book revolves around flamenco guitar, and practically everything I know about flamenco I learned from Maria, during many years of guitar lessons. A more patient teacher I’ve never met. Nor have I ever met anyone more passionate about music and the deeply  important role it plays in human life.
If you like classical guitar, you will love her music. I highly recommend all of her albums; the newest, entitled "Maria Zemantauski," and available on her website,
is a compilation of songs she’s written or arranged in the last 20 years.

She brought a very special energy and flair to the book party; the guests were enthralled with her spectacular playing, as are all of her thousands of fans worldwide.

A special thanks to her. And thanks to all of you who came to the party and purchased the book. 

Another special guest was my cousin Barbara Sergio, who made the drive from Connecticut. Barbara was for many years a nun, and on Sunday she told me that one of the nuns in her convent was named Sister Renata!

Meanwhile, readers continue to praise Sister Mysteries:



"I just finished reading Sister Mysteries. From the very beginning I loved Sister Renata. I really liked the Gina sections too — I like the way Gina is trying to write the stories. I particularly liked how Gina moved across time — sometimes she is with Sister Renata and then sometimes she becomes the nun. I also like how Señora moves across time. It has a magical realism quality that makes sense for the entire novel. It reminds me of Isabel Allende's writing. I also like how the book is really about the power of writing — writing saves Sister Renata because it brings Senora to the courtroom. Writing saves Gina too. The book is great!!!" 

To purchase the book, I encourage you to go to my website, where you will pay no shipping fee. You may also purchase an ebook or a paper copy of the novel through Amazon.



Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Readers are praising Sister Mysteries!


The first people to read Sister Mysteries are giving the book high praise:

"
Just an absolutely amazing piece of work. The vivid imagery, the poetry, the artistry.  Her writing has a flow and cadence that penetrates and turns the reader into a fellow traveler. I can't wait to share this with others."

"
Claudia Ricci is an amazingly gifted writer. Beautiful, painful, torturous, true, mysterious, provocative and healing -- a story of courage and friendship in the face of greed, power and betrayal."

"
Her descriptions are so vivid and the story itself is so intriguing."

You can order from Amazon or my website, claudiajricci.com.
 And if you're nearby, you can celebrate the novel this Sunday, August 26th, from 4 to 6 p.m. at 5 General Knox Lane, in North Egremont MA. The driveway has two stone pillars at the top. If you're coming, please let us know. Our phone number is 413-528-4213.
Sister Mysteries, set in 1883 in California, is a framed tale: the inner story focuses on a young Dominican nun -- Sister Renata -- who is accused of killing her cousin Antonie, who writes erotic fantasies portraying Renata as a seductive flamenco dancer.  The web of words Antonie spins incriminates Renata directly in his murder.

More than a century later, a writer named Gina Rinaldi is lured back to the past by Antonie's housekeeper, Señora Ramos. Señora wants Gina to rewrite the nun's story to reveal the truth about Antonie's death. Is Gina as delusional as Antonie, or is she living a past life reincarnated as the nun? Is she whisked back through time on a mission to save her soul, and the nun, or has she begun to unravel?

To buy the book in print, I encourage you to purchase directly from me on my website, via Pay Pal or credit card, as Amazon takes 50% of the book proceeds. And buying from me you pay no shipping fee.

You can purchase an
 ebook or a hard copy from Amazon.

Thanks to all have ordered the book! Your support is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018


It’s here! At long last, Sister Mysteries is between book covers. Besides being a murder mystery, the novel is a 19th century #MeToo tale.

Set in 1883 in California, the book focuses on a young Dominican nun -- Sister Renata -- who is accused of killing her cousin Antonie. This is the same cousin who writes erotic fantasies about Renata, portraying her as a seductive flamenco dancer.  The web of words Antonie spins incriminates Renata directly in his murder.

More than a century later, a writer named Gina Rinaldi is lured back to the past by Antonie's housekeeper, Señora Ramos. Señora wants Gina to rewrite the nun's story to reveal the truth about Antonie's death. Is Gina as delusional as Antonie, or is she living a past life reincarnated as the nun? Is she whisked back through time on a mission to save her soul, and the nun, or has she begun to unravel?

In 
Sister Mysteries, says one reader, you are in store for "powerful drama, passionate writing, well defined and compelling characters, erotic passages, religious fervor, the metafictional presence of the writer and her problems, a heady mix of narratives and voices, suspense...and more."
To buy the book in print, I encourage you to purchase directly from me on my new website, via Pay Pal, as Amazon takes 50% of the book proceeds. And buying from me you pay no shipping fee.

You can purchase an 
ebook or a hard copy from Amazon. You can also purchase a hard copy from The Troy Bookmakers.

For those of you who live near Great Barrington, MA, I'd love to have you join me at a 
book party on Sunday, August 26, 2018, from 4 to 6 p.m. My home is at 5 General Knox Lane, in North Egremont. Please RSVP by August 20th.
I hope you'll join me and Renata in the mystery of the golden hills of California!





Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Brimming

Buttery yellow lilies
glow in the sun.
A lime-bellied,
ruby-throated
hummingbird
thrumming the air,
slips its needle-like
beak into the roaring red bee balm.
Birds are whistling
their piercing chirps
and one makes a metallic
sound like a xylophone.
The morning breeze
floods through the open window.
I sit in meditation,
breathing, my energy brimming,
each cell of my body waking
up to the cool air.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Lessons from the Garden Wilds

By Sharon Flitterman-King, Ph.D.
My flower garden -- overgrown with weeds and thistles, gloriosa daisies, hollyhocks grown lush and wild, roses faded, finished, yet unclipped, and baby’s breath—is teaching me in ways the most carefully tended garden never could.
Last summer, for example, it was home to a family of rabbits. How long it had been a haven, I don’t know. But when I’d finally gotten there with my trug of unused garden tools, I came upon them quite by accident.

I caught, out of the corner of my eye, a quiet scurry as I was tugging through the mass of weeds and vegetation, and looked up just in time to see a tiny, furry bottom—small round end of mole or mouse. Little enough to be a sparrow, except it didn’t fly.

Curious, I crept along the garden’s border, following my sense of where the thing had scrambled, over to the far rosebush. I got down on my hands and knees and peered into the grasses. There, half hidden by the weeds and huddled up against a jagged leaf, I saw a baby bunny holding very, very still. Its ears were two tiny daisy petals, translucent like two small shells, pressed back against its head, a bright white spot as if a bird had left its mark on its tiny forehead.

I held my breath and watched; it did the same. This infant rabbit could not have been more than a few days old—still small and helpless, but old enough to have its baby fur. I longed to reach into the weeds and pet it. But I’d heard somewhere that mother rabbits fear the human smell, and so I crept back to my spot and continued with my tugging—gently now, not wanting to disturb it.

But just as I was reaching in again I sensed another shiver, looked up, and saw a second rabbit (same tiny bunny’s bottom, same bright white forehead mark). I checked on bunny number one, but he was where I’d left him, small and still, tucked beneath a dandelion leaf, brown eyes closed and sleeping peacefully after his big fright. That made two babies that I had disturbed with my clumsy hands and sandaled feet.

I’d had enough—no use causing more distress. I went indoors and fixed some lemonade. I dreamed away the rest of the hot day sitting in the shade of our big spruce, watching pine needles shiver and hollyhocks sway with each small gust of wind.

My wild things keep teaching me each summer—to live at peace with nature’s processes, to recognize its frailness, to be tender, patient. Not to fear. To realize that this nature that we live with—are a part of—has its laws and rhythms, and that we cannot intervene.

These creatures, all unknowing, are teaching me to recognize there’s little I can do about my garden snake, the one I saw last week, jagged into pieces by the mower’s edge.

I felt a sadness when I came upon it dead and quiet in the grass. Mute, I stared at it, half in horror, half in awe, for the life it had lived so vigorously in my garden eating bugs and insects, and weeding in its way. I felt a quiet fascination, a sort of helpless reverence for this also helpless thing.

I’m growing more accustomed to what happens in my garden, more patient, more accepting. Like just this morning when I opened up the curtains in our living room to let in the early morning light and saw a tangled clump of gray partly hidden in the unmowed grass. In an instant I knew it was our oriole’s nest, downed by last night’s thunderstorm.


I felt a little shock as I remembered how I’d seen it every morning before this, hanging so precariously on the edge of a dead branch, high up in one of our old maples, swaying with each ruffle of the leaves. I’d always been concerned when I’d seen this ragged, scraggly thing—wondered over, worried for our brave, bright birds.

But this morning when I looked across the lawn I felt a small wave of relief, because I realized that the nest must have been empty, bright flash of orange and sharp, whistling chirps having been but just an echo these past few weeks.

I start out every summer worrying over wild things—the baby rabbits that we have about, our helpful garden snakes, the nesting orioles whose house hangs by a fragile filament. I think I’m learning, slowly, to be at peace with this precariousness, to love my wild things. To let them be.

I’ve learned to be content with the little that I can do: creep quietly into the house so a small brown thing can nap; gather up my snake and bury it beside a quiet birch; pick up the ragged nest and gently place it by our back step. Watch and wait and feel that thrill of wonder when the orioles return, flashing brilliant in the lilacs, and start to weave again their fragile house.

This piece appeared first in The Christian Science Monitor.
Sharon Flitterman-King, who holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of "A Secret Star." She resides in Hillsdale, New York, with her husband, writer David King.