By: Cynthia Bermudez | April 02, 2020

Here is a haiku I wrote for the WOK blog for NPM, a poem about our star. Fun facts about our star...it is a G-type main sequence star (H-R diagram), spectral type G-V yellow dwarf. Our sun is half-way through its life. The sun will move off the main sequence in about five billion years.


Red summer sunsets
A large yellow star rages
against the darkness


Happy National Poetry Month!


What are your favorite poems?


Here is one of my favorites:

All For a Day by Robert Sward

All day I have written words:

My subject has been that. Words.

And I am wrong. And the words.

                                                  I burn

Three pages of them. Words.

And the moon, moonlight, that too

I burn. —A poem remains.

But in the words, in the words

In the fire that is now words.

I eat the words that remain.

And am eaten. By nothing.

By all that I have not made.

I love this poem for a couple of reasons. I love the cadence. The way the words flow and roll off the tongue. Also, it's how I feel sometimes when I'm writer blocked. Every writer hates the blank page. Remedies? Reading, re-plotting, and just taking a break and doing something else for a while works for me.

By: Cynthia Bermudez | March 30, 2020

I would love to write songs. Yeah, another goal/thing/hobby/whatever. It's not something I usually tell people. My favorite songwriters are storytellers: Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, and Neil Peart. I have this fantasy that I meet Pink and we converse and she asks me to write songs with her, which the leads to a meet and greet with Billy Corgan and we write songs too. :D


Below is a poem I wrote a long time ago and it's the closest piece I have to a song. The best compliment I received regarding this poem was that it was "lyrical." 


I'm planning to write and illustrate a few children's picture books. I've been practicing with watercolor. I love the look of watercolor illustrations. I'm self taught and am still learning.


Here are two of three of the  illustrations I made for my poem, Pink Bubble Gum. I'm just figuring our how to optimize my scanner. The first two illustrations I sketched, inked where applicable, and used watercolor. The scanner didn't pick up all the color, even on picture mode at 300 dpi. I decided to use plain sketch paper instead of watercolor paper. I sketched and inked and then scanned. I colored in a program on a tablet that is not Procreate. I thought I had this one but I don't. I have an inexpensive Wacom tablet and software that came with it that I'm still learning how to use. 

 

I'm actually pretty excited about making stories this way. :D

 

Pink Bubble Gum

I wanna move away 
to a large city and hide 
in a crowd of people

I’ll bring my string quartet 
and bottles of wine

In my rusty old ford 
with gum covered brakes
and stacks of hay 
that touch the clouds

I wanna sit on rooftops 
and feel the purple wind
singing pink bubbles 
‘til I’m blue

I’ve packed my hats 
in a brown paper bag and 
slung it over my shoulder 
with nowhere to go

I wanna wear my hair 
long and twirled up
leaving the feathers 
for the birds

I’ll bring the mist and fog
in my candy striped suitcase

I’ll bring my steering wheel
and steel toed boots

 

By: Cynthia Bermudez | March 26, 2020

I recently realized I left this story out of my collection (posted below). I will update the collection soon to include one or two stories I left out. This story was almost my first professional sale. I received an email from the editor of the magazine and was informed that I made the top 2% but it was ultimately rejected. The editor asked if I wanted to read their discussion on my piece and noted that at that point, they were looking for reasons not to publish it.


Of course, I said yes to their discussion notes. It was a discussion that was both encouraging and a bit rough. One editor who advocated for the piece noted the character development and the tension building was well done. Another editor felt I was objectifying homeless people. Interpretation is highly subjective. My intention was never to objectify but I changed the title to try to rectify this.


The title of the story changed several times, and even the final title didn't feel quite right to me. Parting Ways and Anything Helps were among the previous titles. 


The story was actually based on a real encounter I had with someone I knew in high school. The story itself and the characters are purely fictional, but some of the emotions I felt were definitely used. Like the awkwardness of the situation. My intention was to convey how much a path can diverge in life, hence the final title: A Yellow Wood, a nod to Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken


Frost's poem, for me among other interpretations of it, speaks to the choices a person makes that lead to a life that is "the one less traveled by." In his case, a successful one. I see it as a positive, inspirational poem. The story is a contemplation of the choices and circumstances that lead to places no one aspires to, a way of examining what it means to be successful and happy, a life full-filled. 

A Yellow Wood by Cyn Bermudez

I tried to avoid him when he bee-lined for me; his, “Excuse me, ma’am,” cut short with a swift no, his hand out like the rest of them who hovered on the seedy side of the downtown parking lot, in the farthest corner near the trash bins. A cart full of treasures in front of him. I clutched my purse. Mall bags hung from my arms.


I recognized his eyes first: big browns chiseled on perfect bone structure.


“Marcus?” My fingernails were still dug into my purse straps like claws, my knuckles stiffened into crooked arches, wrists aching. He looked like a model underneath tattered clothes. Even emaciated, his body stuffed under layers to keep out the cold, Marcus Leva was picturesque. He smiled under leather skin.

“Lara?” He flashed yellowed teeth and came toward me like a bear. “How’ve you been?”

He leaned forward to hug me. My body stiffened, but I hugged him back. The smell of unwashed clothes stung my nose.

“Good,” I said. The old metal shopping cart toppled with trinkets and knick-knacks: blankets and emptied water bottles, canned goods and crumpled old McDonald’s bags, rolled to a stop behind him.

The first time I had met Marcus was in my then boyfriend’s driveway. He leaned against the garage in that James Dean sort of way: one foot up, the other on the ground, cigarette dangling from his lips. He didn’t say hi when my boyfriend introduced us, only nodded and gave me the once over with his eyes. He was gorgeous. Puffed smoke caressed his full lips. He had worn a jean jacket over a collared shirt, ripped jeans tight around his waist, hair slicked back into a duck tail. Now his hair was matted against his head.

“How are you?” It was a stupid question. I wanted to ask how he got like this, if he was okay, was there anything I could do to help. Instead, I fumbled through my purse looking for loose change, careful not to pull out a twenty.

“You know, surviving,” he said. There were lines on his face, hardened in place like broken concrete.

I searched harder through my purse, no longer looking for money, not looking for anything.

“How are your kids?” My cheeks flushed as soon as I said it. Would he know? I had heard from his sister that he had a girl and two boys. The moms were out of the picture; he had trouble keeping a job, something about a drug problem. But I wasn’t close with her. She was just some neighborhood girl who always talked too much, and she was Marcus’s sister. I had played nice, not really interested in conversation.

“They’re good. Getting big, I think. Their moms don’t talk to me,” he said. He looked at the shopping bags that were hanging from wrists, paper handles cutting into my skin.

Marcus and I had become friends quietly flirting in secret. A glance here and there, a dirty word, feet touching under the table. We were joking around. I never thought a guy like him, a guy good looking as he was, would ever be interested in me. What was the harm in a little flirting among friends?

“Shopping. Wedding.” I lifted the bags and showed him my ring. My hand jostled clumsily in his. I tried moving my hand fast, conscious for the first time of its size—because of how big the diamond was. My throat tightened with thirst.

“Oh. Congratulations,” he said. His hands were rough, sandpaper on my skin. His long bony fingers looked like desiccated sausages, dirt embedded deeply under his curved nail growth.

“Thank you.” I gently pulled my hand free.

“Hey, have you seen Roberto?” He winked the same devilish wink I remembered.

It was during the summer before senior year when he had finally seduced me. The way he smiled at me, just a little bit closer each time, until one day he leaned in and kissed me. Roberto was in the shower. The kiss lingered long after. Our glances more clandestine, our words more subtle. But it wasn’t until Roberto was out of town, his grandfather sick, that Marcus and I had turned our teases into long make-out sessions.

“No,” I said. “Not since he married. Someone we went to high school with.”

“Good for him,” he said. He smiled wider this time. His skin splintered, wrinkles split into more wrinkles, each looking aged by the sun. And there were his dimples, still curved in perfect complexity.

A few dollars emerged, tightly held in my fist; the loose change fell to the floor as I handed him the money: “Here,” I said, quickly. “This is all I have… to spare.”

“Thank you,” he said. “Anything helps.”

“You’re welcome,” I said. I didn’t know what to say next. The seconds stretched into a painful and awkward silence.

“You take care now.” Marcus shoved the money in his pocket. He turned and grabbed his cart. The wheels squeaked as he pushed. He moved toward a group of people, his people. I had forgotten they were there, the small congregation of panhandlers holding vigil in the parking lot. There was a woman there. Her hair was greasy, dirty clothes layered on thick, sweatpants stained with dirt. He showed her his earnings—the few dollars from his pocket. She showed him her earnings, too: a coffee can with loose bills and change that clanked when she shook it. Next to her was a sign that said, anything helps.

The full moon sat on the horizon as day faded to twilight. I walked to my car and put my bags in the trunk. I checked my rear view mirror and glanced in his direction one last time. He was walking with the woman, her hand in his. They walked into the McDonald’s. I wondered what they ordered as I dabbed the wetness around my eyes, careful not to smudge my makeup.

By: Cynthia Bermudez | March 23, 2020

Below is a poem that was originally published in Moledro Magazine. And like some of my early works, it was inspired by a prompt for a contest. A flash fiction piece about vampires. I was into The Vampire Diaries. In the story, vampires were not these beautiful, super-human creatures but simply blood-hungry monstersold school. I wrote Forever Children during that time as well, a "vampires in space" comic. Check out a sample in my archive of works (linked). I republished this poem in my collection, The Garden Street Apartments.


The Blood We Taste by Cyn Bermudez


She pulled her hood over her head. A few wisps of hair

waved around the edges of it. She ran her tongue over her teeth,

razor sharp and ready, pain stabbing at her stomach.

It’s not like the stories you know.

There were no super powers, no hypnotic stare or faster 

than light movement, no lifting of a thousand pounds, no 

dodging bullets, or frying in the sun.

Only the hunger, an ever present, ever gnawing desire to feed.

She wore shades even though it was dark; her desiccated face a horrible sight.

No wonder they hide—we hide, she thought.

She saw him in the distance. The young boy she loved in high school. 

His heart pounded heavily in her ear. 

His salty iron scent in her nose, her mouth.

        —He saw her too, in the yellowish night. Why didn’t he run? 

But why would he. He loved her too. 


My writing space. Photo by CynB

By: Cynthia Bermudez | March 19, 2020

photo by CynB

My favorite part of spring are blooming flowers, the variety of colors on the trees. I saw a beautiful tree with lilac flowers. I was driving in my car and my camera was in the trunk. I could have pulled over but the tree was in someone's front yard.


Pink and purple trees are my favorite. The white-flowered almond trees are picturesque this time of year. We took family photos at the scenic Almond Orchards, a local hot-spot for photos.


Here are couple of the photos I took.

photo by CynB
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