Written by RitaC on August 19th, 2021

I had a little bird, it’s name was Enza, I opened the window and in flew Enza. Jump Rope Rhyme 1918-1919.

Spring 2020

Lockdown begins.

Where is this deadly virus? Will I get it? Will I survive? My husband, my family, my friends?

With schools closed, I’m no longer a Nanny Granny.

I open the kitchen blinds in the morning, feed the dog, feed the cat, feed the rabbit, make a cup of chai, turn on the news. I’ll probably dress. I might take a shower.
I close the kitchen blinds in the evening, feed the dog, feed the cat, feed the rabbit, make a cup of chai, turn on the news. If I’ve dressed, I’ll put on pajamas.

A gray pall drapes itself over my insides. Empty roads are eerie, deserted.

New words emerge: social distancing, lockdown, shelter-in-place, PPE.

My spouse works at home, his silver hair begins to curl over his collar; his white beard overruns his chest. We have a leisurely breakfast every morning and meet for lunch and dinner.

Learn how to wash your hands properly if you never knew. Repeat, repeat, repeat . . .

Search for hand sanitizer, find it in another local, country town, homemade and mint green.
Search for toilet paper anywhere, big grocery, small grocery. Score occasionally.

Make new TV friends in the morning: Gayle, Anthony, Norah; then Gayle, Anthony, Tony;
Norah, in the evening.

“We’re all in this together” becomes a mantra. I feel as isolated as everybody else.

Find masks. Our barista makes ours.

Create new conversation starters: “I like your mask? Where did you find it?”

Curl on the couch when Italy explodes with Covid; we were there last fall, walked the Coliseum, gazed up at David, walked through the ruins and restoration of Pompeii.

Spray keys and credit cards with sanitizer kept in the car after a trip for essentials.

Watch Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s briefings every Tuesday and Thursday.

We listen to our PugZu continue to bark at perceived danger, real or imagined.

Attend zoom meetings.

Call or be called on Messenger video every Sunday for a family reunion of Arizona and Ohio.

Stock up on pot pies: chicken, turkey, beef.

View clips of nationwide protests against mask-wearing, following the leader.

Watch gas bills drop to nothing: we don’t go anywhere.

When toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer appear on shelves, buy quickly; it sells in a snap.

Arrange the eggs in a symmetrical fashion in the carton.

Dress in garbage bags to greet the grandchildren, initially.

Eat Easter dinner in the garage, socially distant and masked.

Awake with permanent, partial vision loss in my good eye. Take high doses of prednisone to protect the other eye from Temporal Arteritis. Learn to live with no peripheral vision on the left.

On my daily walk, I pray for all who are affected by Covid, the entire world.

Watch a documentary on the 1918 epidemic, 50 million deaths.

Flip all the light switches in the same direction.

Feel punched in the gut by the rising numbers of Covid deaths.

Operation Warp Speed begins.

Witness a murder in Minneapolis on TV when Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneels on George Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes and asphyxiates him.

Cumulative Covid Deaths May 30, 2020
Worldwide 388,113 United States 107,248

Summer 2020

On my daily walk that usually takes an hour, I begin to slow until I’m at an hour and twenty minutes, with a cane.
My sacrum breaks, an excruciating experience. I drag myself to the bathroom with canes or a walker, then to the couch to watch national protests and riots over racism and police shootings.

I am numbed by opioids, muscle relaxers, and nerve pain meds but continue to feel the weight of tragedies.

The swing on the deck, padded with pillows, offers early morning birdsong and mild temps.

I order groceries online.

Somehow, we have accumulated seventeen bars of bath soap.

I suffer from chai latte deficiency, unable to drive to the local café; I say this with a grin.

No one we know has contracted Covid.

Every Sunday, my family bubble, grandchildren, daughter, son-in-law and, occasionally their vocal dog, a hoot, gather. Fortified, we survive another seven days.

Wince, feel visceral pain at hearing a new high number of fatalities

Cumulative Covid Deaths August 5, 2020
Worldwide 742,524 United States 154,000

The promise of vaccines grows closer and closer, maybe late October, maybe November.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is my new science idol. When he laughs, which isn’t often, a dimple appears to the right of his smile.

My pace of living slows to a speed I’ve always wanted. But not for this reason.

Fall 2020

The 6 pm stomach grind signals another long evening, as the days darken earlier and earlier.

I undergo hand surgery for a damaged tendon from leaning on my walker and canes while I recovered from my broken sacrum.

Occasionally, my daughter or my husband drives me to the grocery. On a scooter, one-handed, or walking as well as my legs can track that day, I don’t dawdle. Any one could have Covid: that young, blonde woman with a cart stacked with kid cereals and gallons of milk hurrying past me; or the senior couple stopped in discussion about pancake mix.

One Friday night in October, I reach for a dustpan just beyond the pet gate at the top of the basement stairs. It gives way and I fall down the stairs, breaking ribs and my collarbone, seriously hurting myself.

Body pain beyond measure racks me for a number of weeks. Back to opioids, muscle relaxers and nerve pain pills.

My husband’s hair is so long he can wear a man-bun. He won’t of course. His white beard is a wild Santa Claus.

Cumulative Covid Deaths October 19, 2020
Worldwide 1,170,656 United States 220,868

Is hope really coming soon? Is there really light at the end of the tunnel that doctors and news anchors espouse?

Our black mini-bunny continues to hop, shake her ears, and flip her back legs when she is happy; when she’s not, she grunts and runs at us.

Winter 2020

I plead in my mind for travelers to stay home for Christmas. Would I if I were them?

The Christmas Cactus produces one bloom

One vaccine is approved. Hallelujah! When will I be able to get a shot?

My daughter buys a frother for me and a 1/2 gallon jug of chai concentrate with a pump. I stop going to the local coffee shop and learn to make drool-worthy chai latte.

What if the vaccines run out? First-responder, nurses, doctors, staff, rank first, of course.

I stop taking all medications for broken bones.

On live TV, I watch an insurrection at the US Capitol when it was attacked by hundreds wreaking deaths and injuries on police and ransacking the building.

We move the bedroom downstairs. PTSD from my fall plays out in a terror of stairs, horrific nightmares, extreme anxiety.

The winter gray cloaks the pall of the pandemic. Will this never end?

I never think of buying a bouquet of flowers when I order online groceries.

Cumulative Covid Deaths January 24, 2021
Worlwide 2,198,057 United States 427,203

February! I can receive a vaccine Feb. 4th.

What if I arrive for my appointment and there are no more vaccines?

My lips tremble under my mask as I register at Kroger. After the shot I feel euphoric, yet guarded.

A few days later, I remember my 50 pairs of earrings I’ve not been wearing, just alternating the same two pairs over and over.

I remember how to laugh uncontrollably at some joke, some play on words

Our black, once-feral cat continues to instruct us in his care at 70 decibels.

The days lengthen, the crocus and hyacinth and daffodils emerge from the warming earth.

I still watch morning news anchors Gayle, Anthony, and Tony; in the evening, Norah, and all the correspondents and crews. They’ve become distant, trusted family.

My broken bones are healing enough to clean the kitchen windows.

My second vaccine is administered on March 4 and I remember all my necklaces in the armoire I have not worn for over a year.

I begin EMDR treatment for PTSD.

Spring 2021

I name my indoor plants: Nuclear Sister, Dad, Cinderella, Lord Christmas, Vera Allen, Jana, Mickeys, Clark, Audrey, Spike, Cindy, Eustis, Flora, and Mathilde.

The Christmas Cactus produces over 50 blooms for Easter. Her name is Elise.

My husband’s hair is shorn, 4 inches off the back, and his beard is tamed.

I buy a dozen, perfect red roses, place them in a cut-glass vase on the pass-through between the kitchen and the living room.

Over 50% of the US is vaccinated.

A deadlier Covid variant, Delta, decimates India, the smoke of cremated bodies filling the skies in New Delhi.

I open the kitchen blinds in the morning, feed Boo Boo the dog, feed Beaky the cat, feed Nova, the rabbit. I make a cup of chai with froth so high it topples off, and sit beside my husband for the morning news.

The Delta variant is expected to reach the entire US and peak in July and August. The youngest in our tribe is nine and unvaccinated. We change our vacation plans for his safety.

In the evening, I sit beside my husband and watch the sun set in peach and mauve hues, make the same cup of chai, know the belovedness of life, possibly watch the news, and close the kitchen blinds.

Cumulative Covid Deaths May 30, 2021
Worldwide 3,655,575 United States 594,268

All statistics are courtesy of Johns Hopkins University.


2nd Monday at Woodbourne Library

Written by RitaC on March 1st, 2020

Each month, Woodbourne Library, 6060 Far Hills Ave. Centerville, OH 45459, offers 2nd Monday, a book signing event hosting 2 authors and their books.

On Monday, March 9, 2020, I will be appearing with my two books, And Yet, and Mystic Connections. 

Please join me from 1-3 p.m.

While you’re there, enter your name in a raffle for a 16″ x 20″ photo canvas of my picture on the cover of And Yet.  The same photograph heads my website page in banner style. You do not need to be present to win.


The Floaty Life of a Poet: Comments to a College Poetry Class

Written by RitaC on October 4th, 2018

You are a poet.

A poet may be described as floaty: f-l-o-a-t-y. It is a state of meandering, wandering, with no  particular aim in mind. Floaty is being lost in, but not lost with no way out.

In your Inspiration Phase, a phrase finds you. Perhaps you “hear” a string of words. You know you need to write something down. Something has prompted you. Sunlight filtering through a tree canopy pulsing like a butterfly on your half-closed lids; the reverse image of nature in a clear puddle–which is the real image? Spontaneous, mystical, anywhere, inspiration is everywhere.

When I enjoy what I am doing, I “hear” words. This happens a lot while walking, though gardening, cooking, paddle boarding, reading, watching a movie, hearing a snip of conversation, or puttering, with no particular aim, offers a place for words to flow as well.

If I have paper handy, and it’s all over my house in the form of Post-it notes and small notebooks, I write down the words. If I’m walking without paper, I keep the words in mind until I’m home. After a potential poem is hand-written, it goes on my desk. When I type it up it may go in a computer file called Poetic Ideas or it may have its own page with a title that is open to change.

The Crafting Phase begins at the keyboard. I may still be floating but the beginning of structure appears as words fly or crawl onto the computer screen.

This floatiness is a bit different: banks on either side; trees bending over it; a carping critic following in a kayak; a few rocks; a small waterfall; and perhaps some whitewater.

Writing, rewriting, over and over, is key. Don’t be afraid to revise your poem, once twice, five times, twenty times. The poem is coming to fruition as you listen to the sounds, read it aloud, and choose the words for what you want to say. Listen to feedback from trusted others, your class, your writing group, but know you are the author of your poem. Keep copies of your previous versions in the same computer file in a chronological fashion. As the poem comes near completion, sometimes just a word is changed or a punctuation. Finished means you have done all you can do with a poem for now.

Some of my poems have been revised 30, 40, 50 times. One poem, now four years old, is still not “finished.” I bring it out occasionally to work on it. Some poems were valuable exercises, but won’t find their way into one of my poetry books. Not everything I write will be nor needs to be published.

When the time comes to create a chapbook or a poetry collection manuscript, I sense it. By this time, I have a quantity of quality poems that are ready to be put in order. If I didn’t have a theme in mind when writing the manuscript, I need one now. At this point, a second set of eyes proves helpful. It is not the time for suggestions for individual poems. It is the time to find a flow in the manuscript. For some, a class or a trusted poetic friend is needed to help decide the order. For others, floatiness is a way to sequence the poems, placing them on the floor and intuitively finding a sequence. This kind of flow may include a number of branching rivers, erosion that smooths away the banks, or minor flooding.

When the time comes for submitting, do your homework. Stay open to all sources: check the Poets Market from Writers Digest; your teachers’ publishers; local and regional publications; online journals. Where is your friend published? Have your read a new online journal that resonates with you? Do the poems have a similar sensibility to yours? A proactive process saves a lot of time as you submit to publications that are more likely to accept your poetry.

Read, read, read. Before, during, and after crafting. Read all the time. My readings include: books of poetry, mystery, spirituality, nature, the environment, nutrition; magazines such as Poets and Writers, The Sun, National Geographic, AARP, my husband’s Scientific American. I read Wikipedia, Internet Movie Data Base, matchbooks, ingredients in foods I buy, online sources, The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, and Roget’s Thesaurus, to name a few.

On my kitchen table, I keep: a book of poems of Rumi, the 13th century mystic; Daily Joy, a book of photos and wisdom from National Geographic; a Dictionary of Etymology by Robert Barnhart, a thick tome. Because I love words, I want to know about them, their origins, how long they’ve been around, how they’ve changed. I want the most appropriate word for what I mean in my poetry.

For you as a busy college student or perhaps graduating soon, how can you fit in extra reading? Read on the go, snippets over a meal, or specific times for reading. Whatever works for you, do it.

I describe myself as the laziest poet I know. Sometimes, I take long breaks, especially in the summer. I write something almost every day, but it’s not always poetry. It could be a grocery or a to-do list. But when I have a self-imposed deadline, a submission deadline, a class deadline, or poems from travels, I am on fire. I journal many days a week, not necessarily every day, and have for 42 years.

What I wish for you is this: write all the time. Write poems. Write on social media. Write an email. Write a letter. Write texts using great vocabulary and fabulous grammar. Write in a group, in a circle, in a class. Cultivate writing friends. Consider what you can contribute to local, regional, even national poetic dialogue. Who would you like to read your work? Can you set up an Open Mic? Go to an Open Mic? What can you do to promote poetry?

Your truths belong not just to you but to others who are waiting to read them in your poems.

Someone very wise once said: Write like no one is watching.


Poetry Reading/Book Signing/ Free Writing Workshop

Written by RitaC on September 24th, 2018

Hello Everyone!

On Tuesday, October 2, 2018,  6-8 p.m., the Yellow Springs Library, 415 Xenia Avenue, Yellow Springs, Ohio, will offer the following event, Celebrating Writing: Poetry and Prose.

This includes a poetry reading from my books, And Yet and Mystic Connections and a book signing from 6-6:30.  A free poetry/prose writing workshop follows. The hour and a half class begins with a writing prompt, writing, sharing (optional), and read-backs, the practice of writing a memorable line or two from each writer’s sharing, then speaking them aloud after all sharing is completed.

Let’s celebrate writing together!


Solstice Poetry Reading

Written by RitaC on December 7th, 2017

Celebrate the spoken word

as the Vernet Ecological Center

 in beautiful Glen Helen opens its doors for the

Solstice Poetry Reading

Friday, December 8, 2017, 7-9 p.m.

Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Open Mic at 8 p.m.


A Book Launch!

Written by RitaC on October 15th, 2017

Hello Beautiful Human Beings!

The time has arrived for a Book Launch!
The official debut of my new poetry book, And Yet, is scheduled for October 22, 1-3 p.m., at Up and Running, 6123 Far Hills. Ave., Centerville, Ohio.

This is a celebration, a time to schmooze and nosh with old friends and new. After months–sometimes years–of writing and editing–the words on my computer monitor have sprung to life on the pages of a book.

Many thanks: to Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, Kentucky for publishing And Yet; to Susie Stein of Up and Running for sponsoring this Book Launch; to readers, writers, book lovers, and  supporters; to my poetry circle for their kind attention to this book.

Oh, and there will be pie.


A Writer Learns to Market

Written by RitaC on July 1st, 2017

I’m a writer. I belong to the solitary craft of writing, sorting out my world and creating art in the process. Open to inspiration, I jot down ideas and lines on whatever paper is nearby. I spend hours in front of the computer, choosing from thousands of words suspended in the universe, ready to be placed in a particular order. The result is one that has never existed before.
This is my life.
Imagine my distress, when I discovered I needed to sell a predetermined number of copies for my new poetry book to be published.
My initial reluctance to advertise my work, which is myself, morphed into the need to schmooz with purpose. Multiple marketing primers from my publisher provided everything I needed to become a marketeer. I adopted the”act as if” attitude, meaning that my poetry book was now a reality. I was bolstered by the thought that if my friends could do it, I could do it.
I began advertising my work: emailing people I hadn’t been in contact with for a while who might be receptive; mailing postcards to family, friends, and writing communities; contacting newspapers and radio stations, posting and advertising on social media (hoping people wouldn’t grow sick of me on social media); asking businesses, libraries, churches, grocery stores, anyone with a storefront to post flyers and postcards; accosting people I knew with the same.
This was and is a side of me that I can “do.” But after 8 weeks, I was done, depleted, worn out, longing for “butt in the chair” time. Fortunately, a vacation afforded a 10-day respite, a sort-of reward for the challenge I had met.
Lest you think I’m anti-social, a hermit in front of a monitor, I’m definitely not. When I’m out and about, I make it a practice to smile a lot. I chat with people about anything. I mentor women in writing, in living. I care-give my two grandchildren two days a week. I attend a writing group in Cincinnati, fall, spring, and summer. I maintain fitness with yoga classes, walking, gardening. I stay current with pop culture. On the Meyers-Briggs, I’m a tad into the extrovert camp, but I love solitude, wandering on and off trails in the woods and in my mind.
I think I was born to write. It is in my nature, my inclination to pause, to absorb, to see, to welcome the current that snakes its way to my brain in introvert fashion.
With respect to all the marketeers who keep this world running, I say, “Carry on.”
As for me, I think I’ll take a walk and settle in my office chair, for another try at finding the right words in the right order.


Greene County poet writes new book, And Yet


Last Call for And Yet

Written by RitaC on June 15th, 2017

Beautiful Human Beings,
This is the last week I will be a marketer for my new poetry book, And Yet. On Saturday, I will turn my attention, once again, to writing poetry and memoir rather than ads.
The poetry publishing business is made up of many small presses, university presses, and commercial presses. Because of a number of factors–the esoteric nature of poetry and its reputation as inscrutable–poetry books are not best sellers. Publishers, especially small presses who operate with minimal funds, may offer basic marketing and many marketing tools. However, the poet whose book is to be published, by a small press, needs to market by email, on social media, and with every person with whom she interacts. This is necessary for both the poet and the publisher. If the minimum number of books is not sold in the pre-sale period, the book is not published. It is a matter of left-brain business, at which many right-brain poets are not strongly suited.
Since I have no idea how many pre-orders have been transacted, I offer this last call. If you wish to support the art and the business of poetry–because they are intertwined–you may order And Yet through Friday, June 16. The online address for my publisher is Click Bookstore. Search Rita Coleman or And Yet. The cost is $14.98 for each copy plus $2.98 for shipping.
The beautiful cover design by Leah Maines features a photograph I shot in Colorado between Gunnison and Crested Butte. After the pre-sales period ends and I have sold enough books to warrant a press run, I will receive the names of all the book-buyers, At random, I will choose one name and gift a 16″ x 20″ canvas print of the photo to that person.
No poet ever enters the field of poetry with the thought of becoming rich. Most of us keep a day job, unless by some stroke of fortune we win the lottery, inherit funds, or have the support of a spouse, partner, or family. Perhaps,we experience propitious circumstances that are undefinable.
Poets are naturally inclined toward what they do: pay attention and write it down, revising over and over and over. It is a choice to pursue this inherent gift.
I am glad I do.

Yours in words,


The Grace of PR

Written by RitaC on June 12th, 2017

Here’s a link to learn about this poet’s writing process:–literature/local-poet-enjoys-publication-debut-poetry-collection-and-yet/loVm26jDrNZP55A5twm24J/


Alvin, A Mostly-Beagle, and the Eleven Things I Learned from Him

Written by RitaC on June 7th, 2017

When I first met Alvin, he was sitting in the middle of a country road near my house. He wasn’t a puppy, nor was he full-grown. I pulled over, and he ran toward the woods. I sweet-talked him until he lost his fear. He came to me, tentatively. I led him to my car and boosted him into the front seat.
I sensed that Alvin might have come from the house that sat off the road down a long lane. None of us in the rural neighborhood knew anything about the people who lived there, except for what we could see: broken down cars and strewn trash. Much later my pet-sitter told me she had seen others dogs there that resembled Alvin. By that time I knew he had been ill-treated. I would never take him back.
Alvin disliked men in uniforms, children, and all but three adults besides our three family members. He loved us intensely, and we loved him the same way. He walked with me daily on what would become a bike path. Then, it was a train track with a gravel bed, unused for years. Sometimes, Alvin ran off-leash and I would hear his yodel-bark when he had treed something. Once I got between him and a groundhog with a tall, flimsy stalk to separate the two before the groundhog scurried away.
He barked at hot-air balloons and five-gallon water jugs I rolled into the house. When he looked out the windows, he growled and barked at anyone walking on our road up to a half- mile away in either direction.
Alvin was my walking buddy and my writing buddy, napping nearby as I wrote. He was a protector, a job he was born to do.
As dog stories go, he gave us many years of dog love before he succumbed to cancer. His paw prints are imprinted not only on a garden tile but in our hearts.
Here is what he taught me.

Eleven Things I Learned From Alvin, A Mostly-Beagle

1. Sometimes no matter who’s calling, you have to keep
on going the other way.
2. Proceed with an action only after you’ve truly decided
it’s okay with you.
3. Accept and celebrate diversity.
4. Protect those you love.
5. Walk everyday.
6. Live in the moment.
7. Love unconditionally.
8. Break the rules, sometimes.
9. Lie in the sun.
10. Have fun.
11. Take naps.