Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet and writer. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, Raven’s Perch, and by Cleveland State University among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals. Her chapbook, Liquid Rubies, was published by Pudding House. The Volume of Our Incongruity was published by Finishing Line Press. Diane’s essay, “I Will Sing for You” was featured at the Cleveland Humanities Fest in 2018. Her novel, The Desire Path can be found on Amazon. She is a graduate of Kent State University and holds an M.Ed from Cleveland State University.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In The Waiting Room

a young couple
re-entered after their visit
with two feet of
black and white shadows
on a strip of paper.
They sat close in chairs,
heads together,
smiling, giggling,
glancing at each other
then back to the
sonogram images,
pointing at their favorites.

Then they sat quietly,
her hand on the
small mound
of her belly,
as if they already loved
this baby,
as if they already knew
this child.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Prone to Wander

This morning I sang a solo in church. It was an arrangement of one of my very favorite hymns - "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Besides the lovely melody I sing it for these lyrics:

Prone to wander Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, O take and seal it.
Seal it for Your courts above.

That's the life of faith in a nutshell. We are prone to leaving, prone to messing it up, imperfect and human, but God still loves us and is able to seal our hearts for Him in eternity.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson

Being a blogger, I have to say something about Michael Jackson today. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for him - for the little boy looking for his lost childhood and the man looking for love that wasn't predicated on his bizarre fame and fortune. My own opinion is that his parents did not protect him, but used him as a moneymaker when he was a child. Michael Jackson, in fact, was a child prodigy in his musical talent and style. He was born to perform, but I do not believe that human beings are born to be idolized and worshipped. It is not normal and it is not something that the human spirit knows how to handle. We've seen it time and time again. No human is God - and yet how many child celebrities have gone on to lead weird and dysfunctional lives and early deaths.

Michael Jackson was close to my age and I remember watching the little boy on TV singing his heart out with joy and style. I thought he was adorable. I actually remember the Mowtown 25th anniversary show in the early 80's when he danced the moonwalk and blew the crowd away. I always admire originality. Lots of us thought he was odd, but I don't think you could say he was stupid. He knew exactly how to make himself a star - and he did. But being a star of that magnitude stresses the body and spirit to the breaking point - and that is probably why he is dead at age 50. I think Elvis was 42.

It's a sad story of American pop culture and one full of pathos for me. I pray that he rests in real peace and won't know about all the future sightings and rumors of him not being dead that will surely crop up in the near future.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A (Hopeful) Writer's Life

I don't know why I've written a second novel. I have worked and reworked it for several summers. It's much different than my first one and I truly love the characters that came from some mysterious place in my brain. I remember sitting on my deck one July afternoon and the voice of a young girl started speaking through my pen. Then came her mother's story of having her as a teenager and the voice of the gay man that becomes the third member of their loving little family. But the reality is - is it just another novel. The publishing industry has taken a hit just like all the other institutions in this country. I do not think I'm being pessimistic in saying the chances of someone publishing this novel is miniscule. Even before the recession of the American economy it was next to impossible. A writer will get dozens of rejection letters that state that the publisher or literary agency receives something like 12,000 query letters a year and they publish 10 books in that year. You do the math.
I am not a celebrity that can draw attention to a book cover and I do not know anyone in the publishing industry so I am screwed just like thousands of other sincere and hard-working writers of fiction.
Yet, today I spent another entire day of my life printing out query letters with specifications for each publisher or agent. Each one - if you do your "homework" as you are required to do - is different. One agent wants the first 10 pages, one wants the first 3 chapters, another wants a short synopsis, another wants a long synopsis. You must type the cover letter, or query, directly to a specific person who would be extremely interested in your type of book (again, homework ahead of time is key). I have had three agents express interest this past year. One asked me to send her the entire manuscript. I spent about $20 on copying it and another $5 mailing it. I lovingly sent my precious work off to California - and never heard from her. That was a year ago. Another agent actually called me and spent about 45 minutes discussing my first chapter with me. She liked it but required some rewriting. Of course, I immediately got to work. (Ask my writing group - I HATE rewriting!) I sent it off and - you guessed - never heard from her again. Another agent asked to read more, I sent more, but it was a no-go. (At least she responded.)
What is the point of all this whining? I constantly ponder this desire to write and tell stories. This crazy notion that I have something to say in a unique way. Why? When it will probably never amount to anything, compared to the countless hours of work I have put into it. A writer can spend years writing a book and then more years doing what I did today. Now I've discovered that it takes $30 to copy my complete novel. I spent $30 copying chapters to send out to 11 agents/publishers today and another $20 mailing them.
This is my third round for this novel. I've read time and again that PERSEVERENCE is the key to success - but I've done all this so many times - how long is long enough??? I think that if nothing comes of this day of effort I may just suck it up and self-publish again. Of course then there is the problem of marketing your own work, which I suck at. Maybe I'll just order 10 copies and hand them out to passing strangers on the street.
My daughter read my new book and names it as her favorite book. Maybe that's enough.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thought for Today

Evil is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.

Shakti Gawain

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Oddity of Nature

This morning, while leaving on my 7am walk, I noticed that these little webs were all over my front yard. They were not there yesterday or now. They look like spider webs, but when I searched the Internet for a name I couldn't find anything that looked the same. My hubby said they were tent caterpillars, but (he's almost always right) the description I read did not fit. Can anyone out there solve the mystery?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Daddy's Girl

This poem was published in "The Storyteller" in 2006. Happy Father's Day to my Dad.

You will never again trust
as you did

when Daddy was twice your size
his arms the greatest you knew

they could straighten a baton
or chop down a tree in the front yard

he won every game
and you were his best partner.

Driving home in the Fourth of July storm
your dread of thunder and lightning

abated with Daddy's hands
on the wheel

fearless, you traveled the country
with the deepest knowledge

that Daddy
would bring you safely home.

He never told you he'd give is life
for you, you were born knowing,

you never felt doubt until the day
he held your hands and let them go.

Friday, June 19, 2009

National Flip-Flop Day!

Happy National Flip-Flop Day! Wear them all day. Wear them everywhere! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Written at Walden Pond

One of my lofty goals this summer is to read some classic books that either I have never read or read many moons ago in high school. I began with "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau. What strikes me the most about Thoreau's observations is that so many of them are completely relevant 150 years later. Get this one on fashion and trends:
The childish and savage taste of men and women for new patterns keeps how many shaking and squinting through kaleidoscopes that they may discover the particular figure which this generation requires day to-day. The manufacturers have learned that this taste is merely whimsical. Of course, two patterns which differ only by a few threads more or less of a particular color, the one will be sold readily;the other lie on the shelf, though it frequently happens that after the lapse of a season the latter becomes the most fashionable. Comparatively, tattooing is not the hideous custom which it is called. It is not barbarous merely because the printing is skin-deep and unalterable.

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. (I'm reading something published in 1854, am I not?)

The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Coexist XXIII - Romans 14

In rereading these familiar passages the other day I found them to be an excellent description of COEXISTING, which to me, includes tolerance and respect for differing viewpoints, lifestyles and beliefs without anger and judgment. The following are excerpts from the 14th chapter of Romans (NIV):
Accept him whose faith is weak without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.
One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced of his own mind.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.... if your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, (or replace these words with politics, religion, lifestyles etc) but of righteousness, peace and joy ...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Who Says a Rainbow Has To Be Arched?

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting convenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.
Genesis 9:16

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Good Advice

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Coexist XXII - With Canadian Geese???

Flocked and gaggled
around ponded neighborhoods
squawking at our presence
laughing - haw - haw- haw
at our inability
to frighten them away
leaving soft green cylinders
to decorate our streets
clustered around the brand
new retention basin
and its grassy banks
we all have a way of showing up
for what we need.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My Mother's Art - Harp of Love

Here is my beautiful mother and amazing artist, Martha Vogel with her latest painting entitled "Harp of Love". I am constantly inspired by her originality and awed by her talent. If you want to read a poem about her click HERE.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Words of Paulo Coelho

I just finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It's a philosophical tale about a shepherd boy setting off to find himself and his dreams and all the life lessons he learns along the way. There is a bit of wisdom on just about every page. But I found that I contemplated a piece from the introduction of the book by the author more than the story:
There are four obstacles. First, we are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as ti be invisible. But it's still there.
If we have the courage to disinter dream, we are then faced by the second obstacle: love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream. We do not realize that love is just a further impetus, not something that will prevent us going forward. We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey.
Once we have accepted that love is a stimulus, we come up against the third obstacle: fear of the defeats we will meet on the path. We who fight for our dream suffer far more when it doesn't work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse: "Oh well, I didn't really want it anyway." We do want it and know that we have staked everything on it and that the path of the personal calling is no easier that any other path, except that out whole heart is in this journey. Then, we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though was may not understand how.
. . . .Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives. Oscar Wilde said: "Each man kills the thing he loves." And it's true. The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget about the obstacles we overcame, all the suffering we endured, all the things we had to give up in order to get this far. I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal - when it was only a step away.
This is the most dangerous of the obstacles because it has a kind of saintly aura about it: renouncing joy and conquest. But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In a Child's Words

The sixth graders were given bound journals to write in this year. To most of the students I teach (learning disabled or cognitively disabled) writing is something very similar to torture. I would give them the journals and ask them to write something, but most days I heard I don't know what to write or they would just sit there. I explained that journals were personal thoughts and I locked them up every day and promised that no one would read them, and I didn't.
One of my favorite students this year was a boy I had in fifth grade last year. He had a severe reading disability but a lot of leadership potential and he was way ahead of others in terms of maturity. I could glance his way when the others were being obnoxious and he knew how I felt. I knew he did not get much attention at home. He was being raised by a grandmother and no one ever came to school for any reason in the two years I knew him.
Sadly, he left in the spring and moved away without any notice and I did not have a chance to say goodbye.
While cleaning out materials for the end of the year I saw his journal and decided to look at it. I knew there wouldn't be much written and some of it only a teacher of kids with learning disabilities could interpret. This is what he wrote. I've corrected the spelling so it can be understood:

Dear Diary
When I was 4 years old my dad had passed. I was upset. My mom was upset. He was gunned down. The man who killed him was in jail for one day. I'm still not the same from the day it happened to this day.

To be honest, there's not a lot of hope for this kid. From the stories I heard, no one pays any attention to where he is or what he does day or night. He had street-smarts way beyond his twelve years. With a murdered father, an elderly woman for a parent and a severe learning disability - what will happen to him? He is now in his fourth school in four years. He'll be tough because he'll have to survive. Last year I talked to him about using his potential to make good choices and stay out of trouble - but is there anyone else in his life to tell him that?