Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Confession Tuesday - 100 Years Edition

It's confession time, won't you come along with me?

Dear Reader:

It has been one low key Thanksgiving, one house lockout, one damaged book from Amazon, untold breaking news stories on the investigation into the Russian influence on the 2016 campaign and  Trump family, et al., another guilty plea, a promise this will all be over by the end of the year and Trump cleared (I have some prime swampland for sale at bargain price), the end of the cleanout of mom's apartment, one Super Nova Moon and two weeks since my last confession

I confess that I missed a week, that just gives me more to work with today.  I'm home from work taking a half day vacation. I have this problem that requires me to do this from time to time. I have accrued nearly my limit in vacation hours.  To go over means I will be truncated. In other words, I lose any new hours acquired during that pay period in order to stay at the max. When this happens I get a little note from our office manager telling me to take some time off,  or sometimes she just writes GO HOME! on the vacation and sick day form, we get bi-weekly. It seems I am the only one in the office with this problem.  I will use a bunch of hours in March when I go to AWP18.

So going back to Thanksgiving, it was low key this year.  My wife and I had a small no-frills meal together and in the late afternoon, she left with two of my daughters to drive to Tennessee to see my third daughter for a few days. I enjoyed our time together. I confess I missed not having a pecan pie, but who would not miss one if they didn't have one.  So, I was mostly home alone for the holiday. at least the extended portion. I managed to find interesting things to do, like lock myself out of the house. It's a long story and I confess that's all I'm going to say about it.

Then, I confess that there is so much I want to say to Donald Trump's face, but I won't go into details. Let's say that none of it would be friendly or in any way complimentary.

I confess the Super Nova Moon was awesome. I told my wife in the car the other night that I believed the moon was God's gift to poets.I know that so many poets have written about the moon that many believe it is overworked in poetry.  That may be, but it is up there and it's like a mirror in the sky and it is so fucking inspiring sometimes. Say what you want about the number of moon poems, but the best one has never been written yet...

You already know that my mother recently passed away (if you've been reading my confessions) and in addition to that a former boss of mine died rather unexpectedly at the end of November. John was 69 years old. I confess, as I've mentioned in the past, that I have been compulsively obsessed with the combined elements of death and time.  This started sometime between age 20 and 25 but was certainly blow wide open at 25.  I think it's roots were probably bedded in the "quarter-century what have you done" complex.

In more recent years say maybe the past two, I've dwelled upon this much less. Almost none. But here I am again, back for more punishment.I suspect I have the recent deaths to thank for that.  The Five For Fighting song, 100 Years keeps going on in my head. I like the song but it's somewhere between nostalgic and melancholy.  But it's when I'm obsessed with death that I feel the most pressure about writing. The feeling that I am up against a clock ticking till the end and when it comes, that's it. What I've got, what I've created, achieved, that's it. That's what I leave behind. A really burdensome thought.

 Thank you, dear reader, for joining me. Until next time, I'll just be looping this song in my head...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Confession Tuesday - First Class Fantasy

Another week already?  How does that happen?  I'm off to the confessional, come along.

Dear Reader:

It's been two surreal weeks since my mother passed away, one new released book review, another poetry book ordered, countless poem drafts written, one submission deadline overlooked, a free bottle of Chardonnay and a major pain in the neck since my last confession.

Last week I mentioned how my mother's death was like fake news. Yes, I was there and witnessed the final breaths, but everything since has been surreal. She did not want a funeral, was cremated per her wishes, and so it is like I just walked away from her that evening and that was it. I confess that I remain bothered by the fact that nothing has changed two weeks later. I don't think there has been a real outlet for grief and that seems like it's never going to happen and that feels totally awkward, unnatural, fake. It's like her death is fake news. Unreal.

So, I've got to do better, A submission deadline for some work I've been tinkering with came and went on November 15. I thought I still had plenty of time (which is partly because I still can't believe it is November already) until it hit me today that we've passed that already. The thing that sucks is that this is among my favorite journals and I always try to submit to it each year. Yeah, I don't have to confess that I'm not especially organized at the moment, but I'm definitely trying to get there. I will be making better use of my planner, that's for sure.

It seems the more I write, the fussier I get about my writing. So, I've been writing up a storm and I confess that you could say that I'm not too pleased with the weather.

I got a bottle of 2016 Lamoreaux Landing Chardonnay that one of the bosses brought in the other day. He had been to a wine event and came back with a number of bottles of wine and sent out an email saying they were here for the taking, one per person. When I was able to get away and check it out, there were only two remaining bottles left. One was Chardonnay and the other some red that I would never drink. I confess I am a Chardonnay person so this match was meant to be.  I haven't opened it yet, but I will when I'm relaxing over the holiday. I'll pop the cork, pour a glass, and snack on two Biscoff cookies and pretend I' heading somewhere fun - flying first class.

Evidently, I slept wrong the other night because my neck has been tormenting me daily since. I confess that it cracks and pops so loud it scares me sometimes. That can't be a good thing. I'm just saying.

Until next time, may your week ahead be better than the one that just ended.

*Note - My review of  Thrush by Heather Derr-Smith can be found here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Confession Tuesday -- Fake News Edition

It's that time again. Won't you come with me to the confessional?

Dear Reader: 

It's been one new issue of AGNI, one paid vacation day, one new poem draft that has promise, two back to back dreary days, and a surreal week since my mother passed away.

It was my mother's expressed wishes that when she died, she be cremated and that there be no funeral service. Her wishes have been honoured. So a week later I sit here feeling the whole thing some kind of a dream. I was the only family member present at the time of her death. My sister had just left maybe 30 minutes earlier and was to return. So, while I am the only family member who witnessed it, it still seems totally unreal. I confess that at various times of the day I think about it and it just all seems somehow less than real. I've had people inquire as to if I'm doing okay like my boss did today. I just shrug and say something like I guess so. I'm relatively certain that I have not really experienced any grieving period. I think I would know if I had.  I've felt sad, but not like any other family member's passing. I feel like her death should bother me more than it has. Mostly I have been bothered by how I watched her die and it still seems like her death was, I don't know, fake news?

Once again I have to confess that  I had a good day at the mailbox.  I pulled out a book-sized envelope and there was Issue #86 of ANGI.  Anytime a book arrives or a lit journal, I feel like doing an Irish Jig right there at the curb by the mailbox. It tends to brighten my day immensely.

Brightening my day was a great thing upon arriving home this evening because I have felt the last two days were pretty gloomy. I know the weather is part of the problem. I do suffer from SAD and it is that time of year. I confess that baseball being over for the year doesn't help. Sylvia Plath one time said, "There must be quite a few things a  hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."  I could substitute hot bath for a baseball game.

I think we have this stationary weather thingy hanging around over us so I can almost be assured that tomorrow will be another gloomy day. I confess what would really make me feel good about now is more indictments in the Russia/Trump matter.

May your week ahead be better than the one you left behind!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Confession Tuesday -- Writer With A Untold Story Edition.

It's been more visits to a hospital and a care facility than I can recall off the top of my head, the death of a family member and two weeks since my last confession.

Come along, let's get started.

Dear reader:

I confess that processing much of this is still a matter of digestion.  My mother passed today at about 3:33PM after a very short but fatal fight with cancer.  A small brain tumor was discovered - thought perhaps early, however it was very aggressive.

There are lots of things that are floating through my mind. My relationship with my mother is a complicated one. It seems we are always hearing that about mother-child relationships. Much of the complication in this instance is related to life-long family dynamics. My mother was divorced from my father as I was an infant. I learned in my adolescence that unbeknownst to me, my paternal grandmother had been writing letters addressed to my mother and me.  Through the years she had kept these from me in spite of a desire by me to locate my father's side of the family.

I confess that there developed over the later years of my life some ambivalence towards mom as a result of those lost years of opportunity to connect and finally the difficulty to know how to establish anything close to a normal relationship. I can't say that I didn't love her. Hate was never an emotion associated with her personally, though I did hate that I was prevented by here from establishing earlier contact with the Wells side of my family. This had a circular impact on the family dynamic as it did circle back and cause some feelings of ambivalence at times.

I confess that I am experiencing sadness as an emotion.  I think one the saddest things  I'm feeling right now is that I know one of the things she wanted to do was write a memoir on her days of nursing that went back to the old General Hospital. Mom had written some short fiction - stories, nothing longer.  She often talked about the memoir. My wife even offered at times to assist her while she dictated. She had a laptop, her ability to utilize it seemed challenging to her. I cannot believe she has much if anything started on it.

She was quite proud of graduating from General  Hospital's Nursing School and working at the hospital. I confess that I am sad that she was not able to realize the completion of her memoir.There have to be few things in this world sadder than a writer with a story to tell that goes untold.

Until next time -  love, peace & joy!

PS~ One of the positive experiences of the past few weeks I owe to Maggie Smith.  One evening while she was lucid I read Maggie's book Good Bones to her.  She like the book very much. Would comment on the poems and was especially interested why Maggie was drawn to write so many poems that contained references to hawks.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Wednesday Style / screaming light!

Dear Reader:

I'm a day late already for confession so I must hurry along. Follow me to the confessional....


It's been one week and one day since my last confession. I'm seeking special dispensation for being a day tardy and I hope it is granted. I will make no flimsy excuse, at least once last night it occurred to me that it was that time, but somehow it simply did not get done.  I confess that I must do better.

Postseason baseball has not gone well for me so far. Now that the World Series has started and it's between the Dodgers and the Astros I naturally am hopefully of an LA Dodger loss Go Stros! I confess that any SF Giants fan worthy of the orange and black would be rooting for the Astros.

This weekend I believe  I had some positive results from my writing. Will be talking soon with my mentor about it so I'll see what she sees in it.  I confess that I have been brimming with writing ideas. Kind of scary since sometimes I hit a wall and well, I have to put all the pieces back together before I can get going again.

Yesterday I was thinking about a quote from Pablo Neruda - "Every day you play with the light of the universe."  I'm still thinking about it today. I think of it as an affirmation. It's not played - past tense, but "you play!"  I also think about the universe as a constant stream of light. Even at night, the stars are screaming light at us.  It makes me think of the universe as a playground. A continual source of inspiration and creativity. Kind of a simple but awesome concept.  Anyway, I'm embracing it.

Till next time--  Go Astros!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Maple Leaf Edition

Dear Reader:

It has been one fall week since my last confession.

I confess that when I get new reading material (especially poetry) in the mail I get crazy happy.
This week Laura Kasischke's latest book "Where Now" arrived in my mailbox. This was cause for some dancing. I did it inside so the neighbors did not think that I was crazy or at least confirm their preconceived notions.

While we are on the subject of things that add a smile to my face, it's fall and I love the bright orange and red Maple leaves. And as I mention this I confess that a bit of sadness comes over me as I realize that since we sold our home and moved, I will no longer have the two surprise Maples in the backyard to admire. They were a daily infusion of joy. The Iris flowers did the same for me, but that is another season. They will be missed as well.

During this past week, I had some worry about  Silas, our rescue German Shepard. He was not keeping food down and had diarrhea.  I am happy to say that he seems on the mends. 

Like I suppose everyone else, the disasters - Hurricanes, tropical storms, earthquakes and most recently the California fires have occupied my mind. (at least that part not consumed by our moronic President) These disasters underscore just how fragile life can be. I know so many people that were within the striking path of the fires in northern California.  The many of you have been on my mind and in my thoughts and prayers. I confess that it seems totally incomprehensible what life for those in the path of the horrific fires. Not only lives threatened but homes and whole communities. It is times like these that you wake up, inhale and count your own blessings to be alive.

I think art, writing, music & especially poetry are the medicine for our souls. I confess that in these times, the arts seem less like the luxury some believe they are and more like an essential ingredient ofday to day living.

If you are reading this, you may be suffering in ways that none of us can imagine. For those, I know your pain is real and you have my thoughts and prayers. But if you are reading this, you also have life. I hope you will rejoice in that fact. We have ourselves & we have each other.

Until next time - be safe!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Confession Tuesday - I know who the moron is, edition.

Dear Reader:
It has been seven weeks since my last confession. These things happen. You get busy, you get tired, you find yourself in a trance, or lost in a poem whose end has not been written yet and you don't know how the hell to get out of it and seven weeks have passed and you are asking forgiveness for being such a lousy confessor.  

I guess seven weeks ago I was marvelling at the sight of the solar eclipse. Today, I confess I'm just happy the sun came up on another day. This causes me to ask a serious of questions that I can't believe I even have to ask... Like:
  1. Why do we need a president anyway? 
  2. Why is he hell-bent on constantly keeping us on the brink of war?
  3. Why has he sold out to a foreign adversary?
  4. Why does he coddle Nazis and white supremacists?
  5. Why is Trump more immature than the average 4-year-old? 
  6. Why is he challenging a cabinet member to an IQ contest to prove who the real moron is? 
  7. Why is all this for real and not reality TV?  Why can't we just turn it all off and make it go away?

I have started working with another poet who is mentoring me specifically towards more impactful poetry. So far I believe that there are some positive developments in the way I approach my writing. I confess that it is too early to see the changes I want to achieve but I feel good about it and that is a good starting point. 

I have a reading at the end of this month and I confess that I want to read some new stuff that no one has heard yet. This means reworking several drafts that I have been sitting on. 

Trying to be a better writing steward I have agreed to work with other mentees from our Spring W2W session to help facilitate discussion among the Fall W2W session mentees on Facebook. I confess that I enjoy seeing the excitement that these writers have for their particular genre. I think it's infectious. I believe this is something you would want to catch. 

Ivy Alvarez turned me on to the poet Brigit Pegeen Kelly by introducing me to the poem "Song" I confess this is one of the more powerful poems that I've read for quite a while. 

It turned cooler last night. It's feeling more like October. Oh, and there is fall ball!  While I miss my Giants - I am happy the Indians have played a great season and right now they are tied with NY in the divisional series. Fingers crossed that they win the world series this year, I confess my eyes are crossed too but that may be because I'm especially tired. 

Until next time, be safe and stay sane. Someone has to.