Writing: MA Paper Trail Trip, Part 1

I’m still processing the best trip of my life, honestly.  Here’s a quick overview of how Days 1 and 2 went down!

  • FRIDAY: How does a toll road work?
    • I  hardly slept Thursday night, which meant I was TIRED.  Excitement, and a dirty chai were the only things that kept me awake, probably.
    • I  got stopped at airport security for having a roll of quarters in my purse for  the Massachusetts toll roads.  Turns out, all rental cars at Logan have  an electronic iPass, and they just charge your card on file with how  much you get in tolls over the trip.  Super convenient.  Man, travel has changed.
    • Flying is not as terrifying as I remember it being.  I  still don’t like it, but in-flight entertainment was standard?  That  was cool.  I wrote poems to Sappho trying to describe what flight was  like.
    • I named my blue Nissan Versa Blue Julius Frérot;  Frérot  meaning basically “little brother” in French.  This is what Louis XV  called the Madame de Pompadour’s brother.  My own car is named Julian,  and so the whole name is pretty much to me “Julian’s blue little brother.”  Can you tell how I name things?  (NERD)
    • I got to write while sitting on a reproduction couch in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study!  Dear reader, I fangirled so hard!  That whole house was an inspiration, but this was its high point.  The table he wrote Nature on was right in front of me!  God, I wanted to touch it so badly, and see if it had any wisdom to impart.
    • Emerson  also had handles built into his bookshelves, so he could take entire  sections of his library with him on his travels, or so he could more  easily rescue his library in case of fire.  I love this man, so much.
    • Walking  through Concord, I saw a small historical plaque under an oak tree next  to a parking lot.  It was the plaque commemorating the jail that had  been on the spot, where Thoreau was imprisoned in 1846.  This imprisonment inspired his work, Civil Disobedience.
  • SATURDAY: Sometimes it’s nice to get lost.
    • I  got to Walden Pond early Saturday, before the crowds.  Good call.  It  was a beautifully sunny day, and by the time I left, the whole world was  trying to fit in the swimming area.
    • The  secondary trails at Walden are not well marked.  I got lost.  I have a minor in Geographic Information Systems, so the fact that I could not  read a map properly was slightly embarrassing, but it was a beautiful path to be lost on.
    • Once I got to the cabin site, I was blissfully undisturbed by any other human for 10 minutes.  I sat down on the hearthstone, discovered during a 1950’s archaeological exploration, and I WROTE.
    • I  picked up a slim volume from Margaret Fuller, a contemporary to Emerson  and Thoreau in the bookstore at Walden’s visitor center.  Where has she been all my life?  What a revelation.  I  identify with her almost more than Emerson, in just a few short days even.  She’s tumbling around in my soul, and I am so glad for it.
    • Haddock fish and chips at the Brewworks in Salem has RUINED me on other fish  and chips.  That is some kind of final meal, if you ask me.
    • I cried at the Salem Witch Trial Memorial.  Nobody asked me if I was okay.  I was also the only one crying.  I didn’t expect to be that  moved, but here we are.  Expect essays, eventually.

Writing: MA Paper Trail

When I heard the news that Mary Oliver had passed away, I laid my head in my arms on the desk at work and tried very hard not to cry.  I had found her works, on recommendation of a a fellow writer, in late 2017 and she had immediately become my favorite living poet.

Now, she was gone.

She ranks up in the top tier of writers I admire, writers whose works I tenderly underline in their books I own.

It hit me, sitting there morosely that cold day in January, that Mary Oliver had the distinction none of my other favorite poets had; she had just been alive.

If I wanted to, I could go right out to where she had lived her life, lived during my lifetime!  And I could walk where she had walked and see what she had seen, very close to how she would have seen it.

In the past, I probably would’ve quelled the rising tide of impulsive thought in me, but I had just had a weeks-long discussion with a friend about taking life by the horns and living, and decided that by the gods, if I’m not going to do the living while I’m young, someday I’ll be too old to enjoy it.

So I pulled up a calendar and began to plot.

January seems like it was just yesterday, so I have no clue how I’m here, in late May, in the actual week of my departure date for what I have been referring to as my Mary Oliver pilgrimage.

My practical self has spent the last four months yelling about fiscal responsibility and how this definitely is NOT (I have been paying it off in chunks, and will be paying it off in chunks for a couple more months).

My soul self has been desperately trying to smother those war drums with the largest freaking pillow it can find.

This is so much more than a trip, and so much more than me paying my respects to Mary Oliver.

I found Emerson when I was 16 and have not looked back since.  Oliver’s works are coming with me on my tablet, but the one book I am going to cram lovingly into my carry-on is my absolutely battered, annotated, well-read copy of my first Emerson anthology I got for a quarter at a used book sale.  I am going to his house, sitting on his front porch, getting a selfie for posterity, and I am going to read.  I can guarantee I’m going to cry.

Can one be in Concord and not go to Walden Pond?  Guess where I’ll be.

Not the greatest Louisa May Alcott fan, but I cannot deny her movement in the Transcendentalist crowds and I have massive respect for her Civil War work, and so of course, I have to at least swing by Orchard House.

On a personal note, I’m swinging into Salem, not for any of the witchcraft museums, but to pay my respects in the graveyard and at the memorial for those women persecuted in anxious and suspicious times for supposedly practicing witchcraft… and to wave at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house.

Once I make it into the Cape itself, my plans become very fluid (I have to take photos of Edward Gorey’s house, as it is three miles from my AirBnB and his work is a favorite of my best friend).

Otherwise, I will come and go and stop as I please.

As long as I make it into Provincetown to explore, to walk where Mary lived, to stand and yell very loudly into the ocean for stress relief and to sit in likely uncomfortable positions sticking my face into flowers and trees and plants I can’t identify but will want to as I write.  As long as I make it up there to pay my respects to a place that influenced so much of her work, I will be content.

This whole trip is an homage and exploration of personally influential writers, who have shaped my world view.

I hope the taps of the muse flow.  May the pints along the way satisfy, the seafood be eye-rolling delicious, and the stress of being me descend back into the Universal Being where it damn well belongs.

Because for five days, I fully intend to go everywhere with eyes wide and enthusiasm completely unchecked to the point of ridiculousness.

If you’re interested in following along with my adventures, my Twitter is the place to be!  My handle is @emsabolcik and the trip will be under the hashtag #MApapertrail (Hey, I thought it was witty)

Poetry: Patience and the Speciation of Desire

Summer’s labors succulent stain

The pop of bold blue bursting

Bittersweet and radiant between

Thin lips and uncommon tongue


Solving for the equation that

Applies the correct amount

Of pressure to an object to

Observe its destruction is


Beyond the way the objectives

At rest stay at rest now

Because sometimes

Surface tension thrives when


The air in ones lungs settles in

Another and the rise and fall

Are the only giveaway that

Sirens are singing lullabies and


Earth is the progenitor

Of Pangaea


Originally published on the Poetry Forum UK.

Poetry: Naming Conventions

Nobody ever called it an Avenue except Google Maps.
I wrote Drive out on every Christmas card envelope.

Just a little niggling point stuck in my mind,
And instead I want to remember this;

The way the bike lane licked the right-of-way
And tried to tidy up the sandy soil in neat lines.

How cars flashed like salmon leaping when they passed,
Bright paints dancing seductively between the white pines.

Our house was seven mailboxes from the subdivision north,
And seven mailboxes from the private drive to the south.

Sometimes, I stood on the double yellow lines and yelled
When Father sent me to get the mail, just because I could.

The oaken crowns loomed over the road like a fantasy
From my young mind and shook their verdancy freely.

Pines standing proud draped their winter coats evenly over their shoulders,
And I think a snow plow only took out our mailbox twice in twenty years.

It’s a peeve of mine that “Lakeshore Avenue” would have two vowels
Backing into each other like awkward teenagers having a first kiss.

Besides, the mail always made it to us on our Drive anyways.
Our tarmac river winding south out of town, grasping the dunes sweetly.

An avenue is laid by the buildings of man and their landscaping.
A drive goes only where the land leads and men follow.

I am always dreaming of home.

Announcement: Patreon!

If you’ve ever wanted to spot me a George Washington in appreciation of my creative pursuits, or wanted to contribute to my Computer fund for the inevitable (my laptop is six years old, now is the time for a contingency plan), follow the link below!

Or, maybe you just like supporting small scale creative minds. That would be awesome too.

Much love, xo

E.M. Sabolcik on Patreon

Publishing: The 3288 Review, Vol. 4, Issue 1

I am pleased to announce my first published piece, Bird Brains, in The 3288 Review, Vol. 4, Issue 1.

I am so bad at sitting on things like this, and I’ve been wanting to post this news for a year, seriously.

The 3288 Review is out of Caffeinated Press in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  A semiannual journal of arts and letters, it focuses exclusively on West Michigan writers and artists.  They had been on my radar for a few years, but I was finally encouraged to actually, you know, submit something tangible instead of trying to telepathically transmit bits of poetry to them through a higher dimension, and I am delighted they took one of my poems for this issue.

I may no longer be on the west side of the state, but having grown up with Lake Michigan just a short walk from my front porch, it has such a fierce hold on my heart.  My piece, Bird Brains, came out of a drive back across the state to my home town, Grand Haven.

If you’d like to support a press that encourages its local talent and gives new writers (like me!) a voice, head on over to the Caffeinated Press website and purchase a copy today! Local presses need support from readership, and having read through the whole issue, there are many great pieces featured besides mine.

Finally, a shout out to fellow writer and friend Mel, whose photos are in this issue as well.  You can check out her blog here.

Poetry: NaPoWriMo, Day 14

Theme: Write a poem about your hometown.


I wrote a story once that walked right off the pages.
Its readers gasped and held strawberry smoothies in hand and in tears
Wondered how the curves of letters could seem like those biodegradable straws
From the local coffee shop, delivering cold and sweet on humid days.

“You didn’t MEAN to remind me how cavernous the rotunda could seem
After hours when you could sit and watch the pendulum swing
Fifteen minutes off the posted time, wondering how the hell
The engineers got that calibration so wrong, did you?”

They still didn’t get my obsession with ships (and still don’t now)
But there’s just something about the majesties of smokestacks and
That red rust paint color so popular on freighters juxtaposed against
Blue waters and bright sky that gets the heart pumping, you know? (No?)

I squeezed the car into the lot behind the comic shop, mid-July,
And walked that 2.6 miles (slogged that 2.6 miles) down the pier
Through all those summer crowds, just to catch the way the lake
Swallows the sun like thyroid medicine, calibrating its metabolism.

(Please stop voting us one of the best beach towns in America;
The tourism is a love-hate relationship, and the historic district
Is lobbying hard against a parking garage. We could use one,
But it would block their sun and impinge upon our Victorian charm.)

I lived in a town once that walked right into my pages.
People sworn it was just the same as it ever was, and what a story that made!
I could still taste the roasted peanuts from the old Italian grocery
Where I cashed in a lotto ticket once and used the winnings on a bottle of Scotch.

Poetry: NaPoWriMo, Day 1

This is the first post in the NaPoWriMo series, where I’ll be posting poems that received commentary from other participants, and the occasional poem I just really like from the challenge.

This first one is a two-fer: I hope you enjoy.  One thing NaPo has definitely shown me is that I can get comfortable with forms after a while.  I’m not the greatest fan of this quatrain, but I just did Day 24’s form, and boy howdy… that one will definitely be up sometime before 2019.  What a jewel.


PS – It’s… raining.  😀  What a delight!  It’s been so snowy lately I can’t stand it!


Form #1 – Quatrain: Inevitability

I felt the autumn aura on the breeze
And watched the snowflakes try in vain
To make a space to live a life of ease
Ignoring all the majesty of rain

The Earth extended chilly arms to greet them
And all her love was too much to deny
Their memories neat stitching along the hem
Of woolen shirts she’d just hung out to dry

The crispy crunch of leaves sing out to me
For at least another day before they freeze
Their siren song has long ceased to be
The sturdy knowing voice that comes from trees


Theme #1 – Halloween: The Worth of Witch’s Wishes

Wished every kid
Knocking at my door
Safety on this evening
When a wish is worth
What witches pay for

Good coinage
For the gatekeeper
Or the storyteller
Both with knitting
In their hands and
That small smile
Which knows more
Than you’ll ever know

Each dollop of sugar sweet
Holds the echoes of
Pounding the pavement and
Nights before I had to
Think twice about personal safety
And the unmarked police car
That now sits at the end
Of my driveway

The tiniest unicorn I have ever seen
Does not care for such things except
That I am a pirate and she stares up
At my tri-cornered hat

Do not worry little one because
Tonight is your night and
They may be burning witches but
You’re being blessed by one and
You’ll be alright

Enjoy your Kit-Kats and sweet dreams
On this Halloween night

Poetry: Along the Nile

Drumsticks lining the cage ache
Tar sticks to rounded tips potent
With lethargy and longing both

Tiny bird not only flutters but
Beats its wings against the bars
With a rhythm wound up in

Silken threads of our last touch
The way your tongue moves
When you say my name and

The tattoo that says
Your own bird longs for
Its freedom too

Grey feathers strangled in leaden
Macramé your deft wit has woven on
Rainy days tasting of bitter roots

The call of the Nile’s horizon line
Could hardly move you to come to
Its river banks except for perhaps

Our two tiny birds resting fearless
In the jaws of a crocodile
Wing beats like snare drums

Incessant and wild


This piece took Poem of the Day for November 13, 2018 on the Poetry Forum UK.

Poetry: Forum Success

Hi all –

Halfway through the month of November, and National Novel Writing Month has not turned out for this year.  I’ve been sick most of the month so far, and the “short story a day” idea has not panned out (though I have written a few).

What has worked out is joining a poetry forum, and participating in National Poetry Writing Month.  Every day during November, they post a form and a theme challenge for members.  I’ve presently written 32 poems this month just from that alone, and have received a few encouraging comments.

I’ve also thrown up a few of my gems that I was holding onto.  If I’m not submitting lately, why not throw some of what I believe to be my best out there and see if other people agree?  I’ve been wanting a barometer and feedback forum to post my works for a while, and after researching, I’m delighted with where I’ve chosen.  Members have an excellent balance between constructive and positive feedback.

Expect a few poetry posts coming, mostly those that received positive feedback on the NaPoWriMo challenge forum… and one that just took Poem of the Day, my first one on the site. 🙂

Much love, XO

(I will try to stop being various levels of sick!  The Boy came home sick today too though… November can be done now.)

What I’m Listening to: June (Instrumental) – Florence and the Machine