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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Confession Tuesday - The Totality of it All

Dear Reader: 

It has been precisely one trip to the butterfly gardens and one total eclipse of the heart - I mean the sun since my last confession. 


I confess reader that I don't have a lot to talk about this confession, but what I do have to fall back on are positive confessions. 

First, my wife, granddaughter, and niece all did an outing to Powell Gardens for their butterfly garden.  It was my first trip the butterfly portion but I have done other events there in the past. Harper, my granddaughter, had a delightful (albeit hot) time. We all sweltered in the sun and humidity but the event featured in addition to butterflies - a whole host of flowering plants and greenery.  I think we all felt that we would be inundated with butterfly clouds about our heads but this was not the case. There was, however, a good number of them and we or at least I was well pleased with the exhibit. 

It was funny because they had a buffer area in the entrance where you walked in and closed a door behind you, then opened another and proceeded into the garden area. Upon leaving we had to stop and turn around to be checked for any butterflies that might be trying to elope with us.  I thought they were going to pat us down and check our pockets too. 

This brings me to Monday. The day of goofy glasses. When I left the office in the morning it has been raining. The prospect of seeing any sun, much less the eclipse seemed remote.  As the morning progressed, we would check out the windows from time to time and alas it looked like we might be in business. I confess I had been wildly anticipating this event. 

I have always held the moon in high mystical esteem. The sun and moon eclipsing was like two opposites attracting and coming together in a dance. I have indulged the concept of great romanticism associated with this event. I had, in fact, hopped that my wife and I might share the experience together but I confess that was not to be. 

The sun goddess looked favorably upon us because the sky mostly cleared and just before totality a stream of clouts momentarily threatened but quickly moved on.  Hazza! A magnificent halo around the moon with a tiny spot that had a starburst creating a wedding ring effect was before our eyes (covered with protective glasses of course). 

Now I admit that for days I've had Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" going through my head. I've always been fond of the song but it's looping in my mind this very moment. 

Am I any different from this experience? I confess that I believe these two celestial bodies coming together made me feel more in communion with the universe. That's belonging t something really big!  

I think the eclipse was meant for the poet that resides in every one of us.  Including the ones that don't know it or would deny it. 


Until next time - be safe & Peace!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Got Respect edition


Dear Reader:

It's been one house sale, several rejection letters, the Giants have gone 16 -21, North Korea has launched 2 ballistic missiles, and the President has given aid and comfort to neo-nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK and 6 weeks have passed since my last confession.

Follow me to the confessional:

My dear readers, the very thing has happened that I so mentally fought for all of this past year and a half. Our house sold. Actually, it sold the first day on the market. But it is done with now. I confess this has been an extremely unsettling feeling and I loved almost everything about our home. The layout, the location, the Great Room, the trees in the yard, the Iris that came up every single spring, except this one for some reason (I think they knew we were leaving) and openness around us.  I won't pretend that I am okay about this for now because it is not that easy.


Through this, I learned a new word. Hiraeth is a Welch for which there is no direct English translation.It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire to return to a place you can never go back to. I believe this experience will very likely inform my poetry writing for a long time to come.

I have been a Giants baseball fan for in excess of 30 years.  I confess my team which is generally highly competitive is having one of the worst seasons imaginable. Still, I would like the record to reflect that Michael Wells is no casual or lukewarm Giants fan. They are still the team I love even if they are having a crappy season. There will be better days and I will be there still.

I would be kidding you if I said I was not bothered by the increased activity towards nuclear warheads by North Korea. I am after all a cold war kid. Yes, we have lived with a nuclear threat all these years since then but at a substantially reduced risk. What we have not had is a president who in the wee hours of the morning tweets stupid stuff about North Korea and talks about "Fire & Furry like the world has never seen." In return, they have talked about launching ballistic missiles in the vicinity of Guam (a US Territory)  Neither Kim Jong-un or Donald Trump appears to be rational. I confess I don't know how got to this place?
Yesterday was a pathetically sad day for this country. I confess I never anticipated I would see the day that our President would give aid and comfort to White Supremacists, Neo-nazis, and KKK.Trump's words this week in connection with the violence in Charlotteville are despicable. There is no excusing them whatsoever. He has no moral authority as president.

Since I was last here confessing, I acknowledge that I have come across a poet that is new to me and has remarkable ability to write with a level of intimacy and emotion that is rare. There are many reasons this poet is awesome, not the least of which she is non-degreed and in fact did not finish middle school. She is my patron saint of non-degreed poets. Her name is Francesca Bell and you can see her work here Francesca Bell- Poet.So who are you reading that is new to you? Let me know.

Until next time, write, read, be safe!


P.S. - Got Respect? This world needs more of it!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Confession Tuesday Baby - Caroline Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been a a whole month since my last confession. Far too many disgusting Trump Tweets,  too many fucking fireworks going off as my wife is trying to nap and the dogs are going buck crazy with each boom. I'm at wits end myself.  I can only imagine what it will be like after dark. On an exciting note, we have a new granddaughter that arrive just yesterday.

But reader, I degrees....

My head is hosting a giant headache and has been for much of the day. At the same time, I have some neck pain going on. All this was sufficient to leave me feeling depressed earlier.  Fortunately, an alprazolam later I'm doing a little better, except one of the dogs now has been barking for a good 10 minutes straight and it honestly feels like it is going to be a very long night. I confess, I want to strangle some neighborhood assholes engaged in the firework crap.

Yesterday, was an exciting day in the Wells family.  Caroline arrived making a second grandchild for my wife and I. She joins big sister Harper in the Porter household. Above is Caroline in my arms. I confess #2 is just as exciting as the first was.  We've had Harper much of the last couple of days while mom is preoccupied.  It has been interesting to watch her reaction to her new sister.  When we went up to see mom and newborn last night they gave Harper a "Big Sister" sticker to wear. I thought this was really cool myself.

Earlier last week I felt I was back on a spell of positive creative Karma but the past few days I have failed to utilize and sustain it. Now, I find myself trying to get it back. I confess that feeling stressed about it and trying to force and magically wish it to return is likely counter productive. I will try to do some reading from material that I often find helpful in stimulating the right atmosphere for writing, I'll let you know this week how this is coming along.

Have a safe fourth! Enjoy family & friends and celebrate our nation & the things that make us free.






Monday, June 26, 2017

Potter Milestone

Twenty years ago today the first HARRY POTTER arrived in stores. Lot of people have grown up on Harry Potter.

JK Rowling - Author

Friday, June 23, 2017

Poetry Is My Compass

The road ahead is not always sunny, there will be patches of sun just as there are spots of darkness and  splotches of shadows. 

As I get older I believe that poetry - both reading it and writing is informs my life compass. 

If you can see things more than one way, life becomes richer. The moon would be so boring without the sun.  So believe me when I say we need the day and we need the night.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

2017 Poet Crush List 6-Pack

It's time for my 2017 annual Poets Crush List.  There are many in my view writing noteworthy poetry these days that it is hard to narrow this down to six, but alas, this is a Crush 6- Pack.

I will give you a small capsule of my thoughts on why each poet has been chosen for my list. Any time you make a list that takes into account how you value artists there is subjectivity involved. Your own list might look very different.  But if you have not had a chance to explore the work of  these poets, I think they are worth reading. There is no prize associated with this...  aside from bragging rights, to the extent you feel it worth bragging about. The whole point of this list was my attempt to recognize those poets that are rocking my corner of the word.



Maggie Smith  - If you tell me you do not know the poem Good Bones I'm going to wonder what planet you've been marooned on.   But Maggie is not on my list because she wrote Good Bones, though that certainly brought her to my attention,  but I have read many of her poems that can be found on line, additionally I've read her book, The Well Speaks of it's Own Poison.  Portions of this book reminded me so much of Anne Sexton. Particularly her fairy tales. There is a lingering quality to many of the images she congers up in this book.

Smith had a couple of prized winning chapbooks but I suspect a good many additional awards are in store for her.  Her book  Good Bones which contains the aforesaid poem is to be released in September and I can't wait.  The thing about Maggie is that if she keeps writing with the same smart and artistic flair I am going to keep buying & reading her books.




Heather Derr-Smith - There must be some kind of karma associated with the name Smith presently because this makes two in this year's six-pack.  Heather first came to my attention when another local poet told me about her -  and her book Tongue Screw. She was scheduled to read at the Writer's Place here locally and I put it on my calendar. As luck would have it (bad luck) Heather was not able to make it so I ordered the book. Tongue Screw was brilliant! Heather is a kind of an international poet much the same way Carolyn Forche is. Heather  has traveled extensively and that travel tends to inform her work. I was especially taken by her images related to Sarajevo. I am a big fan of the Winter Olympics and back in 1984 when coverage was round the clock and they often did human interest fill storied, I fell in love with Sarajevo from afar.  The poems in this book really resonated with me. In all art, poetry, music painting I am especially drawn to dissonance and Tongue Screw percolated it.  I then followed up reading her book The Bride Minaret  which also has an international flavor.  These two books had elements of tenderness alongside a stark violence. But they also sang. Oh, they were so very lyrical.  And the good news is Heather has another book coming out this fall - Thrust and you can pre-order it  here.



Kaveh Akbar -  I was introduced to Akbar by way of AWP17 in Washington, DC, where I heard him on a panel about the importance of the interview in poetry. He's an Iranian-American poet. When I first met him his hair and voice were what stood out to me. There was an real genuine honesty to his voice  that rang true when he spoke.  As soon as I was introduced to his work, I found that I was captivated by his writing writing as well. Akbar impresses me as a serious artist, both in his poetry and his interview of other artists. His poetry has graced the New Yorker, VQRonline, Linebreak, as well as Rumpus and many other venues. I have added Akbar's debut book Calling a Wolf a Wolf  to my fall reading list. It can be pre-ordered here.




Marie Howe -  There are times when I have had a poet on the list back to back, or come back on again later. Marie Howe is a repeat from 2016.  Some of her earlier work was really spoke to me. Then, 2017 brought with it Magdalene is her greatest work yet in my opinion.  She takes Mary Magdalene and through the magic of her poetry makes her life oh so relevant, I had been anticipating this this book and it did not disappoint. I have read it and re-read it more times than I can tell you. How is clearly still very big on my radar for a second year in a row. Magdalene can be ordered here.




Kathryn Nuernberger - Sometimes we don't have to travel far to discover poets whose work we fall in love with. Nuernberger is a Missouri poet and until this year I have not heard of her.  I met her at a reading sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library.  She has two poetry books, Rag & Bones and The End of Pink which was a 2015 winner of the James Laughlin Award.

Her reading style was quite enjoyable. She comes across as smart and a bit sassy. While I have never been one to write poetry laden with scientific language, I appreciate how she is able to pull it off and and hold the readers attention. She instantly had the audience on her side with her wit. I bought the End of Pink on the spot after hearing her read.  I want to see much more of this poet!!!



Cate Marvin -  In her book Oracle the first poem caught my attention right off.  In a poem about the ineptitude of certain Hurricanes I found the poet had no ineptitude for writing long sentences.

The poems in this book were sly. I found yourself being pulled into them and submerged in words. Once I had I felt like drowning, yet I could not stop and fight to stay afloat, I had to submerge in the language in order to take it all in.  It is poetry that pulls me, makes me think, that will most frequently connect me with a poet and make me want more.  Marvin has my attention this year and that's why she is in my 6-pack.


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Confession Tuesday - The Need to Read Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been one surrender in world climate leadership to China, continued multiple insults to European allies, leaked inelegance confirming Russia hacked a voter/election software supplier prior to the November 2016 election, one rejection letter, great anticipation of former FBI director Comey's testimony in two days before the Senate Intelligence Committee, contemplation of poets for my 2017 Poet's Crush List, and another week since my last confession.



Let me start by confessing  that I have not been reading enough this past week. Too many things getting in the way; unpacking and arranging my writing studio.  It is maybe two thirds what I had before and at one point this weekend I was nearly rendered frozen by the feeling that the walls were closing in on me.  It just came from nowhere and it was like a stun gun hit me and I could do nothing.

Without  particularly trying intentionally I have been doing some longer poem drafts lately. I confess that  more often than not my lineage is often 21-25 lines or less. I'm happy to see some longer works but honestly I have not set out to do this. It's like shit. It happens.

I'm narrowing in on my Poet Crush List for this year. I will announce it this month. It's hard because I am reading so many wonderful poets during the winter and spring and it's hard to narrow them down to 6. I call it  My Poet Crush 6 Pack.  It is harder for me to narrow down the women then men. I confess this is because I tend to read far more women poets than men.  Two of the six were men last year. I don't anticipate the ratio being  any higher than that this year but who knows...  there were so many really good reads this time it is hard to choose just six.

There are some books that will be coming out later this year that I am really anxious for.... When I know one is being release by an author that I generally have loved their work, I confess I get downright giddy as I know I am approaching a new release... Victoria Chang’s Barbie Chang forthcoming. It's available for pre-order. Heather Derr-Smith has Thrust: Poems  available in pre-order and Kaveh Akbar's book Calling a Wolf a Wolf  will be out this fall as well.  I confess That I am probably forgetting one or two others that ore on my future reading list but that give you an idea that there will be some great reading ahead.

I confess that in the evening when I take Silas out on a leash for his final business trip, I have missed the open sky that allowed to nearly always see the moon and stars overhead. They spoke to me. Now at night I hear nothing up there.... Till next time... stay safe~