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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Confession Tuesday

Tuesday evening and I'm here for one reason.... Confession Tuesday.

Let's go to the Confessional.

Dear reader~  Where has the Summer gone? I must confess that the older I get the swifter our seasons seem to come and go.  Last weekend I was in a Target store and heard some teenager telling her mom that "xyz" store already had their Christmas displays going up. Really- before the end of August!!??

I suppose it is only natural that time seems to go faster as we get older. I think as we age and take on responsibilities we must think less about seasons or even months and more about paydays.  We seem to move between paydays swiftly. Like maybe we simply live for the next payday. At least that is what it seems like to me.

I confess I wish for some different benchmark to look forward to. I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Writers Cottage



It’s where quaint and secluded
merge back from the road,
nestled in the verdant treed lot
where even the postman
never comes. It is here

by the fire at night
I read what I wish
till my book falls helpless
into my lap
until supple rays find my face
while birds scold me awake

and with brawny coffee
I embark on the new day
with the purity of paper
void of anything
and my head chasing
transitory images
to pen down on the page.

 
 
© 2010 – Michael A. Wells
 
 
 A part of Magpie Tales 29

A Collision of Past and Future

I read Victoria Chang's second book before I read Circle which gave me reason for pleasant surprise. You could easily be fooled into believing this work is anything but a first book. There is cohesiveness in Circle that many poets have not mastered in their second or third publication.

In Circle Chang embraces an exposition of culture and gender in ways that are not worn or over worked. She demonstrates the spiral collision of past and future. She is often edgy but her word skills have a well controlled precision that can slip a point past you like smooth butter.

I especially enjoyed the following poems: Lantern Festival, Seven Changs, To Want, Kitchen Aid Epicurean Stand Mixer and On Quitting.

Circle was a winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award and was published by Southern Illinois University Press.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Driveway Moment Missed

Just returned from a brisk evening walk with MO (pictured left), the weather is so nice, I hope tomorrow is a xerox copy.
 
Earlier today I had NPR on in the car listening to Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know? and he had as a guest Ayelet Waldman the author of Bad Mother.  It was one of those "driveway moments" or should have been as I had arrived at my destination and really wanted to hear the rest, but couldn't (I'll have to await podcast).  I haven't read her book but she was hysterical on the show.
 
Evidently she was at one tine a public defender and married to a writer she decided whe wantd to do what he does... write for four hours a day and well, do whatever the rest of the day. Of course in order to do that you have to become successful at writing, which evidently she has. Her 2005 New Yourk Times Essay about sex and motherhood opened a lot of eyes. The essay titled Truly, Madly, Guiltily can be read here.
A review of her book: BAD MOTHER A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace published by Doubleday can be found here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Gag Me With A Spoon!

E-books purchased in Apple's iBookstore may soon include iAds. "If you flip to page forty of Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City, you may be served an iAd instead of page forty-one." (CNET)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Keep Language Alive!

"No doubt some languages have died, but we don't know which ones they were." - William Matthews

Confession Tuesday - you are what you read edition

Tuesday again… this time I’m prompt. I actually have to say I’ve thought a lot about this confession so let’s get started.




Dear reader:

 
That sounds funny addressing you as reader when my confession today is about me as a reader. Yesterday I was reading something – I don’t recall what exactly when this came to me as I read a number of articles and blogs yesterday, but I thought back over my own reading past experiences and realized I have a problem.

 
All right, I have a number of problems so don’t go there. The problem I’m confessing is my reading habits. If I were looking at what I read as a menu of food I eat, I would be totally deficient in some vitamins and minerals.

 
My own book shelves basically can be divided into three sections - poetry/poetics, baseball, political - biographical. Actually I have a number of biographical that are linked to poetry as well.

I don’t as a rule read novels. Occasionally I’ve read a science fiction. When I was younger I read fiction and a fair amount of historical fiction but as I grew older most of my reading had a more direct purpose.

 
I confess this is not a totally new revelation to me, but thinking at in the context of contributing to some kind of deficiency is quite frankly a new and startling insight or self discovery. And here is the rub… a part of me says at my age why care? If given the choice what to sit down and read this very afternoon I would likely not stray from the comfort of my well worn path. Yet, there is this part of me that says perhaps I could be a better, a stronger writer if I opened myself to broader tastes in reading. It’s a thought.

 
I’ll let you know where this leads, if anywhere.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

After Work

AFTER WORK

The ringing in my ear
the desk clutter—
post-its, a pile of unreturned
messages, half finished report,
the missing file that haunted me
all the way home—

the stop and go traffic on I-70,
sloshed latte in my lap,
the SUV on my ass,
news of floods, more IEDs,
unemployment, casualties,
mosque, no mosque—

all dispersed in a floral medley
of gentle bath bubbles and oils
nibbling my toes.


© 2010 – Michael A. Wells



Part of Magpie Tales 28

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday Seven Recommended Posts


I have planned for a good part of the day to stop and post today but one delay seemed to lead to another and here I am at 9:30 typing this.  My wife and I did  take time to watch a couple of movies.... Leap Year and The Invention of Lying. They were both enjoyable - not award winners but something to relax to and share time together.

Over the past few days I've seen some really good posts around the blog world and I thought I'd point out a few that I'd recommend.

Happy reading~

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday Thought

The modern artist is working with space and time and expressing his feelings rather than illustrating. - Jackson Pollock

Mid-day

Window view distracts
Progress on work seems jerky
Rather be outside

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Confession Tuesday - better late then never edition...

Dear Reader- I was asleep at the switch. Tuesday came and went and I confess I did not once think about confession. Perhaps it’s because there seemed nothing nagging at my mind. Even now, it seems my confession omission is the most exciting thing to report.


Ah, but there is something people who know me would be surprised to know. The past two days I have actually pulled for the Chicago Cubs to win games. Not of course every game, or just any game, but specifically those in their series against the Padres. This I confess is revenge and preservation. The revenge is for the Padres taking 2 games of a 3 game series against the San Francisco Giants, and preservation for assuring the tightness of the division race in the NL west. This should surprise you because the Cubs are one of a few teams I normally always would root against. I don’t go as far as making voodoo team dolls and trying to render certain teams lame… If they are lame, they are just lame on their own.



I confess I had a really strange and intricate dream last night that I keep remembering bits and pieces of. Could this find its way into a future poem?



I confess that I truly believe that as many as a third of the people in this country have no clue about fundamental issues, history, geography and current events. I also believe that many of these same people comprise a very vocal part of society that tends to consider themselves infallible and anointed with absolute truth. I had this thought yesterday though a less refined part of this assessment has been in my mind for many years now. I do however believe that more of these people are becoming involved. They are drawn to and are easily persuadable by others that can roughly be described the same way. How did we get so lucky? That’s totally rhetorical and I’m not looking for a bunch of comments.



Thanks for hanging in with me. Maybe next week I can be on time.

They're Back!

Yesterday morning as I was leaving for work I was greeted by geese.  We have a baseball field directly across the street from us and during their migration - twice a year we are visited by geese. They are astonishing in flight and fascinating to watch when they stopover to rest on the ball field. There were some 20 birds yesterday. I never know what to expect. Several years ago my daughter and I counted over a hundred of them on the field.
 
If you haven't caught it, Kelli Agodon has a great post on The Art of the Blurb.  She has had so many good writing advise posts to questions that have been posed to her recently so if you haven't been to her blog recently or like ever, I recommend it. Book of Kells.  I'm a pretty avid reader of Kelli's blog and as summer arrives she usually announces that she will be somewhat sporadic in her posts. My first reaction is of course a sigh. But each summer she will field questions and do responses or offer some writerly wisdom on her own.  She may not post as frequently, but the posts are always insightful.  It's no wonder she generally receives so many comments to her posts. 
 
Well, it's hump day and I've sinned. I missed Confession Tuesday. How did that happen anyway?  Well, I will have to collect myself and head to the confessional later today.
 
 

Understanding

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.  -Carl Jung

Monday, August 16, 2010

Revelation on Some Level

Presently the curb doesn't seem quite so fixed
the street lamps reflect pyramids
the pavement is the most permanent
I've experienced since I got out of bed
this morning I had no idea




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Food For Thought

Hunger also changes the world - when eating can't be a habit, then neither can seeing.  ~ Maxine Hong Kingston




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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Music to my Ear

 
This morning I put on a play list of music that I've made specifically to write by. The first notable impact was that time became irrelevant to me. No clock watching was a good thing. It, along with other distractions were gone. Poof!
 
To say that I wrote the best ever would be a stretch but that isn't what is important. I was at ease and I was more productive in the time that I did allocate - which incidentally I ran past without notice till after the fact.
 
I worked on  completely new material. A project that I've had in mind but had not committed to paper in any way yet.  I started in my journal in long hand. Later in the morning I took it to my laptop and did some early cutting of excess. It's a start but I was very happy with it.
 
Early evening I got out for a photo shoot. Then came home and mowed the back yard.  The weather was nicer today then we've had for a while. It's been really hot here. Much more productive day then yesterday.
Can I have a Saturday do-over?
 
 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Confession Tuesday

Forgive me dear reader, it's late and I'm tired. I confess I seriously considered skipping Confession today but that seemed so lazy and I did not want the guilt of feeling lazy. I've been very detail orientated today at work and I'm more mentally drained than physically tired.  But enough of that,,, it's confession time, let's get started.

A really strange thing occurred today at the office. I confess aging has been a fear of mine since - well since I turned at least 25. Yes, I said twenty-five.  I admit that the alternative to aging (death) is not real attractive either. But I digress-

This afternoon I paused as I was working in a project at my computer and looked down at my hand. I think I recall scratching the of my left hand with my right.  I noticed in the desk lighting that the back of my hand seemed more tanned than I would have thought. upon closer look it appeared to me that my skin seemed rougher... more wrinkled then I had ever noticed. This freaked me out!

I know this all sounds so silly, but somehow what I saw of my hands said more to me then looking in a mirror in the morning, Then looking at any of my recent pictures. I confess I freaked out!

Even as I write this tonight and look at my hands (admittedly in different lighting) they don't seem to freak me out like they did this afternoon.  I suppose this was simply a case of heightened anxiety and I confess that it makes me feel really silly.

Why can't I look at my overall view of aging as just something silly too?






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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Their Hold on Me





They block the solar waves of summer
pounding the earth like arrows
and hold onto me by a plexus mass
spreading like a cancer through me

I'm unable to stop them
all summer long
they are rooted in my memory
and even as the fall turns on them
and the winter harshness beats them
brown and mats them
against my icy black loam
their hold on me is parasitical-
they will be back in spring



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Saturday, August 07, 2010

U.S. for first time sends official representatives to Hiroshima Memorial Service in Japan

Yesterday was the 65th anniversary of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima. In all these years since the event tragically killing some 145,000 civilians, the U.S. has for the first time this year sent a high level American official to the memorial held annually in Japan.  In cities in countries around the wold others too have paused to remember the horrific event. It is only fitting that we join others in recognizing this day, that we may acknowledge risks posed by nuclear proliferation and work to create world consensus to reduce these ricks.







Shuji Kajiyama / AP - photo credit

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Friday, August 06, 2010

I wonder too...

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation. ~Graham Greene




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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Night with Poets

Last night I ventured north of the river to a poetry meeting at the Boardwalk Library. There were quite a few of my friends from the Kansas City Metro Verse group that went to check out a somewhat newer Northland Poetry group and to my surprise the convener, Polly McCann, is the daughter of a couple my wife and I know but have not seen in goodness-  more than a decade!

We shared some poetry from other poets. I chose a Susan Rich poem to read which was kind of fun because it was an opportunity to introduce to the group a poet new to them. Then those of us who had material of our own in draft or finished read these as well.

We wrapped up the evening with a writing prompt.

Polly has apparently been writing a poem a day since January. Her blog can be found here.  I was especially impressed with the photographs of some of her own artwork which graces the blog too!

Good to see Ralph, Pat, Brenda, Becky, and Linda as well.


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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Confession Tuesday - Who am I edition


I get a journaling prompt e-mailed to me each week and it just to happened that the one for today struck me as perfect to incorporate into my Tuesday Confession, so if you’ll follow me to the box, I’ll get started.

Identity - my true identity reveals itself when_________.   Finishing this statement reveals some attributes that are probably quite revealing.

I think my identity is quite driven by those gut feelings that are so strongly associated with my concept of fairness and justice. I confess this all seems to be driven by a passion for order. I don’t mean a clean desk. I confess I am not well ordered in that respect. What I mean is a societal order. Civility, if you will. I confess I am a bit of an Arthurian personality. I would have done well sitting at the “round table” as fairness and justice were the order of diplomacy. I suppose this is the basis for a good deal of my very strong political views. I confess that I’m driven by the notion that fairness and order in society doesn’t just happen on its own. It also, I confess doesn’t always happen when left to the devise of others. I have become more cynical of “others” making good decisions and that is problematic for two reasons. One being cynical leads to frustration and pessimism. Neither of which are good for the soul. The other is that it can create tension when strong passionate core principals seem counter to those of others you come in contact with. I’m not a person who can hide my identity well.


You know how some people don’t like others to know how they vote? People who believe what they do behind the curtain (yes at one time they existed) of the voting booth is a private matter. I’m not quite like that. Yard signs, bumper stickers political buttons have been a fixture of my life since before I could vote. My identity is in much of what I do is an open book. For example, my screen names or nick names online have always been identity extensions of my interests. Highnside came from my love of the game of baseball. Stickpoet, my love for writing poetry. I confess I would not make a good Chameleon. I don’t suppress my identity well. I tend to stand out.



I confess I don’t see what my identity reveals about me as being all good or all bad. It’s just who I am and at this stage of my life I don’t know what it would take to change it if I wanted to.



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Monday, August 02, 2010

Finding the breath in your words

Anais Nim's words I quoted in my last blog post have stuck with me overnight and upon waking this morning it followed me off to work where it nagged at me all day long. I decided her words are worth recall when I sit down to write.


Sometimes picking up a pen to write and committing the ink to the page can become rather automatic and there are times it seems I start without any appreciation for what I may be putting on the page. Getting to that starting point as a force of habit seems to be a good thing, but really having that deep pressing need to breathe through what you are saying or a song to sing or voice crying out is what gives meaning to what one puts on the page.  I truly believe Nim's words speak a truth.


It's my goal this week to do one of these three things in all I write. If I can at the end of the week I can say honestly that I've done this... alleluia!



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Sunday, August 01, 2010

If...

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it. ~ Anais Nin




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Concrete Poetry in rural France

Concrete Poetry in rural France



The international movement of Concrete Poetry is described as ‘works where the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, i.e. the words, the rhythm, the rhyme and so on’ – the words themselves form a picture. The 1950’s pioneers were the De Campo brothers Haroldo and Augusto (who published Teoria da poesia concreta in 1965), and the CDLA exhibition also carries works of Ian Hamilton Finlay (founder of Wild Hawthorn Press, publisher of the Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. periodicals), the French poet Pierre Garnier, Robert Lax, Liliane Lijn, Paul de Vree, Bob Cobbing and Dom Sylvester Houédard to name a few. In an epoch where the world’s publishing industries look to how literature might be played out on new digital platforms, it’s fascinating to see how these poets, typographers and designers from the 1950s onwards were creating these visual feasts using letters, words and poetry – the very page acting as platform


Honduras: Ongoing Attacks Foster Climate of Intimidation | Human Rights Watch

 

Honduras: Ongoing Attacks Foster Climate of Intimidation
Little Progress on Human Rights after Six Months of Lobo Government

July 29, 2010

Related Materials:

Honduras: Firings Undercut Judicial Independence

Honduras: Investigate Attacks on Journalists

Honduras: Investigate Attacks on Coup Opponents

Violent attacks on journalists and political opponents have had a profound chilling effect on basic freedoms in Honduras. When journalists stop reporting, citizens abandon political activities, and judges fear being fired for their rulings, the building blocks of democratic society are at grave risk.

José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch

(Washington DC) - Six months after President Porfirio Lobo took office, Honduras has made little progress toward addressing the serious human rights abuses since the 2009 coup, Human Rights Watch said today. Threats and attacks against journalists and the political opposition have fostered a climate of intimidation, while impunity for abuses remains the norm.  

"Violent attacks on journalists and political opponents have had a profound chilling effect on basic freedoms in Honduras," said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. "When journalists stop reporting, citizens abandon political activities, and judges fear being fired for their rulings, the building blocks of democratic society are at grave risk."

Human Rights Watch called on the Honduran government to provide protection to journalists and members of the political opposition, prosecute people responsible for human rights abuses, and restore the independence of the judiciary. 

A Climate of Intimidation

At least eight journalists and ten members of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP)-a political group that opposed the 2009 coup and advocated  the reinstatement of the ousted president, Manuel Zelaya-have been killed since President Lobo assumed power on January 27, 2010.

There has also been a significant increase in threats against journalists and opposition members during this period, according to justice officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch.

For example, José Oswaldo Martínez, a journalist with Radio Uno in San Pedro Sula, told Human Rights Watch that he had received repeated death threats in phone calls, text messages, and emails, including one in July that said: "Because you won't stop talking about that dog Zelaya, we are going to shut your mouth with a bullet."

On June 15, Luis Arturo Mondragón, the news director for Channel 19 in El Paraíso, was shot to death as he left the station. He had reportedly received death threats by phone.

Oslin Obando Cáceres, a 22-year-old taxi driver from Tela who was an active member of the FNRP, has been missing since June 13 and is feared dead. In the weeks before he disappeared, Obando and his family had received repeated death threats for their political activities.

In response to these and other attacks and threats, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has issued 26 "precautionary measures" (medidas cautelares) during the current administration to journalists, members of the political opposition, and their families, instructing the Honduran government to provide them with protection. However, efforts by Honduras to comply with these measures have been "few, late in coming, and in some cases nonexistent," the commission said in a June report.

As evidence of the government's ineffective compliance, the commission cited the case of Nahún Palacios, a television station director in Tocoa, who had been issued "precautionary measures" after receiving numerous death threats. Palacios was killed by unidentified assailants as he drove home on March 14, and the commission strongly criticized the Honduran government's failure to protect him. Several other journalists and members of the FNRP who have been issued "precautionary measures" told Human Rights Watch that the government had done nothing to provide Palacios protection. 

The motives for the attacks on specific journalists are not always evident; some -- but not all -- appear to have been linked to their criticism of the 2009 coup.  However, together with the violence against the political opposition, these threats and attacks have generated a climate of intimidation that is having a severe chilling effect on exercising the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in Honduras, Human Rights Watch said.

A radio journalist told Human Rights Watch that a colleague left his job at their station in July after receiving repeated death threats for his political views. Similarly, a political opposition member interviewed by Human Rights Watch said she felt compelled to abandon her political activities after she and her daughters were accosted by armed men in March. A FNRP member who was shot in the leg during an assassination attempt told Human Rights Watch that he also stopped participating in political activities as a result of the attack. In each of these cases, as well as several others documented by Human Rights Watch, individuals asked that their names not be used for fear of reprisals.

Impunity

The climate of intimidation in Honduras has been compounded by the lack of accountability for abuses committed in the aftermath of the 2009 coup. To date, there has not been a single conviction of those responsible for the abuses documented by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and other local and international human rights organizations.

On January 27, the government passed an amnesty decree for political crimes committed during the 2009 coup. While the decree explicitly prohibits amnesty for human rights abuses, the ambiguous language of the law-particularly with respect to amnesty for "abuses of authority"-leaves open the possibility of overly broad application. Honduras is party to several international human rights treaties that impose an obligation to investigate and prosecute violators as appropriate, as well as to guarantee victims an effective legal remedy, including justice, truth, and adequate reparations.

While the creation this year of a special human rights prosecutor's office was a positive step, prosecutors in the office told Human Rights Watch that the office lacks the resources and personnel needed to investigate the enormous number of complaints it has received. Moreover, victims and witnesses of attacks often prefer to remain silent, out of fear for their security and that of their families, making investigations more difficult.

Firings of Judges

The May dismissal of four lower-court judges who challenged the legality of the 2009 coup has severely damaged the credibility of the Honduran judiciary. 

The Supreme Court removed Judge Ramón Barrios for publicly criticizing a June 2009 Supreme Court ruling that validated the coup. Judge Guillermo López Lone, the president of Judges for Democracy, and Judge Luis Chévez de la Rocha were removed for participating in public demonstrations calling for Zelaya to be reinstated. And Judge Thirza Flores Lanza was removed for filing two legal motions on behalf of Zelaya.

The judges presented challenges (escritos de impugnación) to the Council of the Judiciary (Consejo de la Carrera Judicial), a review body appointed by the Supreme Court, on June 28, and they have appealed to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights to review their case.

Judge López told Human Rights Watch that, since his dismissal, several judges have confided in him that the fear of dismissal by the government influences their judicial decision-making. A prosecutor from the human rights prosecutor's office said fellow prosecutors had expressed the same concern.

"Honduras has made little progress toward restoring the rule of law since the coup," Vivanco said. "The government should protect journalists and political opposition members who receive threats, support the vigorous investigation and prosecution of abuses, and reaffirm the independence of its judges." 

Also available in:

Honduras: Ongoing Attacks Foster Climate of Intimidation | Human Rights Watch