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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Irony in GOP Election Hypocrisy

For some time the Republican party has systematically sought to enact stringent Voter ID requirements state by state. They have argued this is to stem voter fraud in spite of the fact that independent studies around the nation have uncovered no evidence that this has in fact been a problem.  These changes have in fact been sanctioned by the Republican party for one purpose only: to suppress the votes of voters such as the elderly, minorities and students, all of whom traditionally have been Democratic constituencies.

Okay, if voter fraud were a real concern for Republicans you would think they would have adopted more stringent safeguards for next week's Iowa Presidential Caucuses, but not so. Since this has never been about voter fraud  the GOP will again not bother to make Iowa Republicans show such ID before voting in their caucuses.

Both the Republican and Democratic Parties control their own nomination process rules and this is not left to the whims of legislative bodies so in Iowa this hypocrisy is directly within the Republican Party control. Seem strange to you?

Oh, and before you say oh, such requirement isn't really a deterrent to anyone casting votes, check here and here and here.  These are real people, real voters.

natural energy resource

Poetry is a natural energy resource of our country. It has no energy crisis, possessing a potential that will last as long as the country. Its power is equal to that of any country in the world. ~ Richard Eberhart

A Blog post worth reading! Reasons to be thankful!

Kelli Agodon on Thankful Thusday - some real food for thought!  If you don't think you have cause to be thankful read this and think again.  Thanks Kelli for the eye opening post!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2 for 1 on Creativiy

A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something. ~ Frank Capra


~0~



A wonderful emotion to get things moving when one is stuck is anger. It was anger more than anything else that had set me off, roused me into productivity and creativity. ~ Mary Garden

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Confession Tuesday


Dear Reader:

It's been one week since my last confession. Christmas has come and gone. So has Festivus and Boxing Day. Of course the last two aren't on my radar for celebrating but I really feel like Christmas passed me by this year. Thanksgiving too. Illness visited me for not just one but both holidays. I did get out to a couple of holiday events but really overdid it at both. I was back at work today but I confess I'm still not 100%.  Do I dare hold out hope of feeling well for New Years?

I confess that today I started thinking about a Subway meatball sandwich as early as 1 p.m. (my lunch salad just settling in my stomach)  By 4 p.m. I called my wife at work and asked her if she'd like to stop at Subway on the way home for dinner. I'm not a big Subway fan so this probably came as a shock to her. She was up for it so we did.  It was ummmm - good!

The Iowa caucuses are one week away and while I've been following  closely I admit it seems so totally foreign because it is all about the GOP.  Iowa is a neighboring state and there are many times I've joined others who have migrated to the state to campaign for candidates in advance of the caucuses.  Each of these have been for democratic candidates and so I confess that thinking of Iowa void of early Democratic battles is surreal. 

I confess that after paying 2.85 recently for gas my stomach did not make it's traditional growling sound. I have no delusions of it lasting.

Yes, it's Resolutions time again.  Will I have some? I confess I'm split over it even as the year is ticking away.  I will settle on an answer by New Years and let you know.

May the rest of your 2011 keep you safe and see you into the New Year!









Sunday, December 25, 2011

In the Spirit of Giving and Taking....

I have only the faintest delineation of Thanksgiving 2011 and Christmas 2011.  This emanates largely because I've been ill during both.  Not quite the same illness but I'm sure one is related to the other so like everything else presently the lines seem a bit blurred.

One thing that has seemed permanent during this period is my writing has been best described as ill as well.  And there I go... the better or stronger adjective surly is sick! See what I mean?

Over and over I've tried kick starting stuff with free-writes, prompts you name it. I pretty certain the the Grinch stole my creativity. He sucked it right out of me!

So the past couple of days I've stepped back and taken a look at creativity and writing in general through the eyes of others.  This is the "taking" part and sharing it here with you is the "giving."

Robert McCrum writing for the Guardian in his Fifty things I've learned about the literary life had a few interesting point to ponder.  Some of the ones that struck me as the most interesting are:

  • Less is more. Or, "the only art is to omit" (Robert Louis Stevenson). This is probably even more relevant to poetry. *Note to self: stop over writing.
  • A great novel can cost as much as a pencil and a pad of paper – or a whole life.  *I think the same can be said about poetry books.
  • In writers, vanity is the cardinal sin.
  • Keep a diary. It might keep you.
  • The "overnight success" is usually anything but.
  • Literature is theft. *This has to be true... I've heard so many variations of it.
  • Ebooks are not the end of the world. Ebooks are not the end of the world. Ebooks are not the end of the world. *Okay, if you say so. (heavy sigh)
  •  A secret is something that is only repeated to one person at a time.
  • Everything is fiction. *Even confessional poetry. By the same token, all poetry is true (in some contest)!
  • Amazon is not "evil" (J Daunt).
  • Poets are either the lions or the termites of the literary jungle. * While I have no idea what he's suggesting here, I liked the way it sounded so it makes my list.
Other things that I've come upon in my search for greater wisdom in the pursuit of creativity in my writing:

According to psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein, "External factors such as stress play a much heavier role in determining innovation than anything intrinsic."  Have I been stressed out lately? Do bears shit in the woods?

I ran across three quotes that all hit home with me.  Only one do I actually know the author of and I hate to post something without attributing it to it's author (so if anyone knows the source of these please speak up):

"It's not what you look at that matters it's what you see."  - unknown

"When you are stuck walk away from the computer. It will teach you how to see."  - Gerard Huerta

And lastly - "Art Is what you can get away with." - unknown

After all this I get the feeling that successful writing is really pretty simple. That is not to say it is easy, but simply. Perhaps the hardest part is to not overthink. To simply be quiet and listen to yourself, be observent and open it new and different views. Actually write and do so often but be willing to step back as needed and allow yourself to see the view through an different portal.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

deja vu all over

Sick through Thanksgiving and a resurgence hitting me ahead of Christmas. I went to the doctor this morning and returned home for bed rest. I'm feeling the Grinch has stolen my health for the holidays.

It's difficult to focus on anything - head hurts from all the coughing. I go from chills to hot. I want to sleep but I'm tired of sleeping.

Writing and reading are easy with my headache and my eyes feel strained without even trying to read.  It's not a pretty picture. 

If you were looking for an uplifting post, you came to the wrong place. But there is hope... maybe tomorrow or even Saturday things will turn around.I may not be flat on my beck for Christmas as I was on Thanksgiving,  My fingers are crossed. I'd cross my eyes too but it hurts too much!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Star’s Top 100 Books of 2011 - KansasCity.com

The Star’s Top 100 Books of 2011 - KansasCity.com

Among the Top 100 the Star select the following Poetry Books:

  • “Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems,” by Mark Jarman (Sarabande Books). Following the development of Jarman’s poetry and his uncompromising vision of poetry-making as sacred work, our contributor, Michelle Boisseau, found herself amazed again and again at how the unaffected discipline of Jarman’s craft helps him plumb the reaches of human experience. One of the most moving and exhilarating experiences she had this year reading poetry.

  •  “Anthony Hecht: Selected Poems,” edited by J. D. McClatchy (Knopf). Hecht, who died in 2004, was a poet of technical brilliance and terrifying depths who made unforgettable poems that have achieved permanence in the American canon. 

  •  “Space, in Chains,” by Laura Kasischke (Copper Canyon). It takes a poet of Kasischke’s extraordinary gifts to render fragmentation and loss with the intense clarity of dream in her eighth collection. • “The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry,” edited by Ilan Stavans (Farrar Straus). Work by 84 poets from 16 countries, translated (by the likes of Elizabeth Bishop, Samuel Beckett and W.S. Merwin) from Portuguese and Spanish as well as from languages like Mapuche and Zapotec. This thrilling, dynamic multilingual anthology includes monumental figures like Borges and Neruda and introduces to wider audiences indigenous poets like Elicura Chihuailaf and younger poets remapping the New World.

  • “The City, Our City,” by Wayne Miller (Milkweed Editions). The muse of this exquisite collection is an imagined contemporary metropolis (with flashes of Kansas City, Miller’s current city) that thrives simultaneously with the lost cities it has risen from and falls toward, allowing the poet’s urbanites to grasp the continuity of human tragedy and joy. 

  •  “Taller When Prone,” by Les Murray (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). In the newest of his 14 poetry collections, the brilliant Murray crosses the globe and his beloved and infuriating Australia, leveling his muscular wit at our foibles in poems that are inventive, tender and water-tight. 

  •  “The Wrecking Light,” by Robin Robertson (Picador). Coming from a place along the icy fathoms of the North Sea, the currency of this major Scots poet is spare, heart-rending lyrics and haunting narratives that suggest the salt glinting from the granite.
Read more here

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Confession Tuesday - One of those moments

Tuesday again... how does this happen?

Come with me to the confessional... 

Dear Reader:

It's been one week since my last confession. One circular week I fear.  Between yesterday and today I fear the pneumonia is trying to make a comeback for the Christmas holiday. Tried to get in to see my doctor and can't be seen till Thursday morning (sigh)  I confess that this is disheartening because it takes a lot for me to reach the point of wanting to go to the Doctor. Damn!  Psyched up for nothing and I'll have to do it all over again tomorrow night in order to be ready Thursday morning. Assuming I'm still alive!

Now there is a much bigger confession coming.  One that has had my family laughing.  During this past week my daughter called one afternoon and asked me to take Gabe out for her. Gabe is a dog temporarily in residence with us. I went down to the family room and retrieved him from his kennel and escorted him up the stairs and out back. After doing his business I lead him back downstairs on his leash.  We walked right past his kennel and I opened a door to the utility room. Inside I turned the light on with the pull chain. Then stooped to open the door to the front load washer wider. Looking back a Gabe I saw a dog with the most contorted quizzical look on his face looking at the opening and them back to me. It took me a moment to realize what I'm sure Gabe already knew...  And now you know too!

May you know the dog from the laundry in the week ahead!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thought for the Day

"A man's life is nothing but an extended trek through the detours of art to recapture those one or two moments when his heart first opened." ~ Albert Camus

It's In the Mail This Week

I love it when I get mail that relates in some way to poetry. It always beats the electric bill or any other for that matter.

In the mail this week I received my Jan-Feb issue of Poets and Writers magazine. Yeah!!!  I also received a Holiday / New Years post card of sorts from a poet friend.

No rejection letters this week but then no acceptances either.

I've already alluded in an earlier post to the fact that the latest issue of Poets & Writers is awesome. If you don't subscribe to it, pick it up off the shelf. Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do Not Miss the Jan-Feb 2012 issue of Poets & Writers

I've had a peek a the Jan-Feb issue of Poets & Writers magazine and it looks like a wonderful issue. First of all it has the 7th Annual look at Debut Poets.  I always love his feature and have sometimes in he past known one o two of the poets. Even so, it's always fun to see things like their age, experience, time spent both writing and then finding a home for their book, advice, etc.

There is a special section in this issue that is on inspiration.  Several articles that deal with things like:
  • Clearing some of the stumbling blocks to creative thinking
  • Opening your writers mind
  • Inspired reading
  • Inspired revision
to name a few.  Some pretty interesting stuff to think about in this material.  Reading the fist one on stumbling blocks to creativity opened my eyes to some things and also reinforced some notions I've come to on my own in recent times.

I was particularly interested in the author's citation of some of the material from Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. For example his 5 stages of creativity:
  1. preparation
  2. incubation
  3. insight
  4. evaluation
  5. elaboration
Most of these really require some shield from the bombardment of simulation hat comes from outside interferences/influences like you would have while exposed to an Internet connection.  Csikszentmihalyi talks also about the 4 obstacles to creative accomplishment.
  1. Psychic exhaustion
  2. easy distraction
  3. inability to protect/channel creative energy
  4. not knowing what to do with energy
These articles would be a great read during the holiday beak in advance of the new year and (gulp) need I say resolutions?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Confession Tuesday - one click mistake edition


It’s Tuesday but feels to me like it should be Friday. Come with me to the confessional.

Dear reader:
When it’s Tuesday night and you feel like you’ve already endured a whole work week this is not a good thing, but I digress.  It’s been a week since my last confession. A week of coughing each morning and thinking that tomorrow I’ll be better. I confess that I thought I would be more on the mend by now.
I recently bought a poetry eBook by accident. I was on my Blackberry and from my Kindle app I was trying to download the preview. If I liked the preview I would likely buy the title as a real book. By accident I clicked the wrong link (they were next to each other and on the phone app it’s hard to tell which is highlighted).  I realized it immediately and contacted Amazon. I never opened the download and it remained in my archive until they did a refund. I decided with my Amazon account set on one click purchase I needed to change this. You ask, “Why are you telling me this?”  Ah yes, that would be my confession. I cannot see me buying poetry in eBook format.  Maybe a novel, maybe non-fiction, but poetry, no!
I like my poetry in print on a page. If I look at a poetry book and I like it, I’m probably going to read it over and over. Many of my copies are ultimately autographed by the author. Do that on your eBook reader!   So am I just a crazy old guy that refuses to change?  Don’t feel obligated to answer that.
In spite of the week feeling like it should be over I confess I have no idea how we got to the 13th of December already. I think I’ve missed a lot of opportunity this year.  I started out like gangbusters submitting work but cooled off late summer to a crawl.  A lot of my writing plans went by the wayside this fall but I don’t really want to lament – I’d prefer to think about next year since it will be here lickity split. Besides, 2010 was a dry year for publication and this year I did have successes. There is that to be thankful for.
What are you thankful for this year?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Little Butt Crack Showing...

I couldn't resist this. A picture I shot a while back with cell phone mid-day as I stretched my legs over lunch hour. Some days I actually have a humorous streak.



Thursday, December 08, 2011

Foxtrot - appearing in WestWard Quarterly Fall 2011

Earlier this fall my poem Foxtrot appeared in WestWard Quarterly.  Since this is a print publication there is not link to it but now that a little time has passed since the publication I have included now on the published poems page - see tab above or click here.

Magpie 94 / Poem: LUNCH



Lunch

Clock ticking
1800 seconds and ticking
rows of busy heads
bobbing and chewing
throats likes snakes
swallowing a rabbit
whole-

chatter
to a minimum-
like they each have some place
to go-
they do

half an hour for lunch
the the rest of their eight hour day

it's robotic-
circuitous               each day 
the same         each day
           the same



Michael A. Wells


Magpie 94


* photo credit - Lunch, George Tooker, 1964, Columbus Museum of Art

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Knock My Socks Off Wednesday





Just one poem today...  but one awesome poem that knocked my socks off!


Enjoy Fire and Ice  by Lucy Biederman  - appeared in No Tell Motel

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Dance edition


It’s that time again – Mind if I eat my lunch in the confessional?

Dear reader- I’m eating Turkey Chili with beans for lunch all he while I confess that my mind is centered on the nachos with jalapeños I had a the hockey game Friday night. I’d much rather be enjoying those again rather them Turkey Chili form a can.     

Speaking of Friday and the game, I went with my daughter Shannon and two of her friends.  We had just gotten out of the car in the parking lot, traversed a few steps when this van pulls in with music blaring. I don’t exactly know what possessed me (and possessed is the story I’m sticking with) but I confess  that I broke out dancing as did Shannon though I don’t believe either was aware of the other until people started cheering, applauding and I’m pretty sure there was some laughter mixed in there too.  We both looked at each other and realized what was happening and of course in our moment of supreme embarrassment both stopped at once.  

I confess that the first thought that entered my mind was finding out the next morning that the dance routine had been taped and went viral on you tube.  In my defense, this culminated a period of  lots of bed rest and I can only surmise I was overly anxious to hit the streets.

Finally, I confess that I recently went more than a week without any Diet Coke.  Those who really know me will say I had to be sick. I was

Ted Hughes Honored Today

 
Ted Hughes (left) is honored today by his inclusion at the Poet's Corner in the South Transept of Westminster Abbey.  The practice of honoring  the greatest poets with a tomb or stove is a 600 year tradition in Britain.  (pictured on the right is photo of some of the markers)

The list of those honored before him include the likes of Dryden, Browning, Tennyson, Shelly, Keats, Blake, Hopkins and Eliot.

Hughes' inclusion came after some heavy duty lobby  by a number of poets including Seamus Heaney and Simon Armitage.  Britain's Poet Laureate from 1984 till his death in 1998 on might have though Hughes o be an early lock for the honor.

I've read a number of Ted Hughes' published works. While his first book, Hawk in the Rain is outstanding and won critical acclaim  when published in the late 1950's it is Birthday Letters, published the year he died that I most remember him for.  This work forever links him and his response to the final work of his first wife Sylvia Plath.

I have to say that while Hughes is a masterful poet, I have often wondered how long i would have been before his talents were truly recognized without Sylvia.  I was her belief in Ted and her dogged work typing manuscripts and sending them off that netted his recognition  for Hawk in the Rain. I have always seen Ted as the more laid back Brit and Sylvia with that American ambition driving him forward.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

From the Hard to Believe Department

It's hard to believe Catch 21 is 50 years old.  I tried to recall my age at first reading it  and it threw me me.  I read it in the very late 1960's Probably '68 or '69 and did not realize that it was not not fresh off the presses then. Or maybe I knew but have forgotten.  It just seems that in my mind it was so relevant to the time.  Realizing that Joseph Heller actually began writing it in 1953 makes the story line even more remarkable to me.


also, a couple of notable local events...

Coming up: Sunday, December 11 - 2 p.m.
Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Guy Masterson: Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales

Welsh-born actor Guy Masterson reads A Child's Christmas in Wales, one of the most popular works by Welsh writer and poet Dylan Thomas.

And at The Writers Place: Friday, December 16, 2011 7:00 pm
Holiday Holiday Reading and Party with the Music of Jim Abel and Kevin Hiatt
Readers will include Shawn Pavey, David Hughes, Michelle Pond, Martha Gershun, Tim Pettit, John Hastings, Lindsey Martin-Bowen, Carl Rhoden, Tina Hacker, Eve Ott, Susan Peters, and Phyllis Becker.
All donations will go to the Phil Miller scholarship.



Company Policy or Simply Hate?

U. S. Crane, LLC is a company with it's Corporate Headquarters in Waco, Georgia. It's principal business is Overhead Crane and Hoist Sales as well as replacement parts and Structural and Electrical Engineering for such products.   They recently made the news because the have promoted their stated company policy on bumper stickers which they have placed on the fleet of vehicles which the company operates in for their business.
As seen at the right, the bumper stickers read:  NEW COMPANY POLICY - WE ARE NOT HIRING UNTIL OBAMA IS GONE.  I don't know about you but I've never worked for a business in my entire life who put company policy on bumper stickers. In Human Resource memos, in Company Handbooks, but never as bumper stickers on vehicles.  Of course the use of bumper stickers for political discourse is widespread and time honored.  That is what really is the heart of the matter here with U.S. Crane.

Bill Looman, the owner of U. S. Crane would have you believe that he is just an American Patriot trying his best to save our economy from the President.  He has indicated that he wants to hire everybody but just can't afford to because of Obama's policies.  But Looman's motives actually go beyond the scope of any policies.

In a Facebook post-  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 5:30am, Bill Lomman, III says of President Obama, "HE HAS BEEN TRAINED FOR THIS AND HE IS A MARXIST/ISLAMIC TOOL TO TEAR APART OUR ONCE GREAT NATION." 

His Facebook post is titled DARE TO PREPARE AND WHY?  In it he goes one to list a series of steps he feel necessary for him to take.  The list is as follows:

  1. START SEEKING AND NETWORKING WITH PATRIOTS OF LIKE MIND.
  2. SEEK OUT AND FORGE FRIENDSHIPS WITH SURVIVAL SKILLS. THIS INCLUDED GROUPS SUCH AS OATH KEEPERS, MILITIAS, AND POLITICAL GROUPS THAT APPEARED TO HAVE OUR FOUNDING FATHERS CORE MESSAGE AND CONSTITUTION IN THEIR BASIC PHILOSOPHY.
  3. BUILT AND STOCKED A FISH POND.
  4. STARTED STORING FOOD.
  5. SELLING WEAPONS THAT WERE COOL BUT WERE ODD CALIBERS AND WOULD BE HARD TO GET AMMUNITION FOR.
  6. BOUGHT NEW WEAPONS TO REPLACE THE ONES I SOLD AND STOCK PILED AMMUNITION.
  7. HONED MY HUNTING SKILLS AND LEARNED HOW TO COMPLETELY PROCESS ALL MY CATCH.
  8. PERFORMED NEEDED MAINTENANCE ON MY HOME.
  9. BECAME POLITICALLY ACTIVE IN MY COMMUNITY AND STARTED TO FORGE FRIENDSHIPS WITH OLD AND NEW FRIENDS THAT HAD SKILLS THAT MAY BE NEEDED IN THE FUTURE.
  10. STARTED FURTHER TRAINING OTHERS AS THEY APPEARED WAKE UP TO PRESIDENTS PERCEIVED INTENTIONS WITH MARKSMANSHIP TRAINING, POLITICAL DISCUSSIONS, AND YES, EVEN RELIGIOUS DISCUSSIONS.
  11. DIVESTED IN STOCKS AND PURCHASED MORE PROPERTY.
  12. DIVESTED IN RETIREMENT FUNDS AND MOVED THE MONEY TO SAVINGS TO PROTECT AGAINST WALL STREET VOLATILITY.
  13. PURCHASED AN EMERGENCY POWER SOURCE AND AND FUEL TO SUPPLY THAT SOURCE. THIS POWER SOURCE WILL BE USED TO DRAW WATER FROM OUR WELL AND KEEP OUR COLD STORAGE RUNNING FOR AS LONG AS FEASIBLE.
My question is, after reading this, do any of you think this sounds like an individual who is especially
focused on his business operations and development of company policy?  It appears that so much more going on here some business' Human Resources policies on hiring. Sadly there are people who continue to drape themselves in the flag and religion to mainstream their ideological hate - and attempt perpetuate it and grow that hate.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Denise Duhamel - No Home Wrecker

Denise Duhamel is a poet whose wit and craftiness caught my attention a long time ago. Ooops, mayby it was not that long ago. Or heck maybe she was in grade school when I first read her poems. (How's that for a save?)  Anyway, she is the featured poet on How a Poem Happens for today.

In the interview questions by Brian Brodeur I especially enjoyed the question about inspiration and her comment about meting the muse halfway.  Great post!!

Do you believe in inspiration? How much of this poem was "received" and how much was the result of sweat and tears?
I do believe in inspiration and the muse. But I also believe you have to meet her halfway, show up everyday whether she shows up or not. As a writer, you (I mean, I suppose, I) have to be there to receive her whims. I write a lot of pages that never wind up in poems. When I reread my free writing, often a draft of a poem is there proceeded and followed by gibberish or cliché or nonsense. Then I excavate the draft and begin revising. I don’t believe in sweat and tears associated with writing because I love writing so much. I think of it as high-octane play and fun.

Catch the whole poem and interview here! 

Magpie Tales 93 / Poem: How Size Matters





How Size Matters

a time
a place to stop
a sofa
against a rock solid platitude
on the main street of a life
of obligatory divestiture
of  inflexible options
of throwaway propositions
of too big to fail
of too small to matter


Michael A. Wells

Friday, December 02, 2011

spiraling words

Words can have no single fixed meaning. Like wayward electrons, they can spin away from their initial orbit and enter a wider magnetic field. No one owns them or has a proprietary right to dictate how they will be used. ~ David Lehman



 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Knock My Socks off Poetry Wednesday

A couple of poems that I've read recently that I especially enjoyed and I feel are worth a read...

Ben Parkers'  Sharing the Task that appeared in Rose & Thorn Journal.


David Oestreich's In Praise of Coffee that appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry.

Getting it Right


A fist—      White knuckled
gripping something
               anything

bloodletting and leaches
               a vacation to cryogenic reality

brittle regions of home
               splintered and fractured
lessons of melodious ramblings
in hurtful octaves
breaches – spankings – platitudes
               tomorrow we rehearse

The Moment

"But I don't think of the future, or the past, I feast on the moment. This is the secret of happiness, but only reached now in middle age."  Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Confession Tuesday - coughing up the week


Dear Reader:

It is with a deep breath I come to the confessional. A deep breath because I'm trying to breath big today. It's been actually two weeks since my last confession and it was on the day that I should have been making my last one that I was feeling really crummy. By Wednesday morning I would be well on my way to feeling much worse. Today I went back to work. Only for a half day and I confess that when I left the office at 1 pm, I was pretty worn down. Pneumonia is a pretty nasty thing; of that I’m a believer.  

I took a nap after getting home and feel a little recharged but I kid you not once I put my head on the pillow, I crashed and burned. 

I confess that I have no exciting holiday stories to share. Just the one about the guy who did not travel across town with family to have dinner with other family members and that story is full of coughing up stuff you don’t want to hear about, or while surrounded in bed by dogs who are looking at you like “why must you keep up that annoying cough and by the way, what’s with the piles of Kleenex wads?” 

Oddly it seems there were moments this past week when in my general state of physical decline I had some flashes of brilliance (unless I was being delusional) about several aspects of a manuscript I’m working on.  It seems some clarity paid me a visit. And if they were only delusions I’m willing to except that/them anyway. I vaguely recall someone in the past saying you don’t have to be crazy to be a poet but it never hurts.

So really, with the kind of week I’ve had I confess that you just have to find the silver lining by getting a hold of the frayed ends and pulling on a strand just to see what unravels. 

Oh, least I forget… I confess that I lost weight over Thanksgiving. There is that to be thankful for.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yes, I am among the Living

Rumours of my demise are understandable but incorrect.  While I have no idea where the expression sick as a dog came from, that would be me on the right.  By the time I left work last Tuesday I was dragging and feeling a little under the weather. I attributed it mostly to sinus stuff.  I had scheduled a vacation day for Wednesday. Add that to the Thursday & Friday holidays + another two days for the weekend and Walla! You have five days off!  Wrong... Ok, they were days off but hardly qualify as vacation, holiday, I don't even think you can call it a momentary pause in life. No, Wednesday it became pretty evident things more just under the weather.


Basically the 5 days were spent in bed.  No journey to Thanksgiving with the family.  I only left the house for trip to Doctors and then another trip to the ER.  Results pneumonia.  Checked back in with the doctor today. I plan to go back to work tomorrow - at least for a half day and see how I do. I get worn down pretty easy. I'd like to say that I read a book or two over that time, or wrote a reams of poetry.  I did try some writing but maybe have one worthwhile draft from it. I wasn't in the best mood for writing.
That would also be my excuse for not doing Confession Tuesday or Knock My Socks off Wednesday.

Now I'm going to call it a night.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Thought for the Day

A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead.
 ~ Leo Rosten

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Outraged by Brutality Reminiscent of Past

For some days now I have been meaning to take the time to post about the recent string of police and security response to peaceful assembly.  I've seen some footage of incidents on cable news and read a few accounts and I am saddened by the turn to aggression by many of the authorities in the past week.
Even where we have previously seen police take a responsible attitude toward protesters there has been a shift in the response to their peaceful assemble.

Have we forgotten the lessens of the late sixties and seventies? The brutality on the streets during the Nixon years only heightened the tensions in this country. The response with force to peaceful assembly 
(a guaranteed constitutional right) is indefensible.  Spraying protesters who are sitting in rows with pepper-spray and clubbing individuals is only going build a toxic climate in this country.

We seem to growing very lax in terms of many of our constitutional guarantees.  When law enforcement abridges the right of peaceful assembly it is a fundamental attack upon every one of us, not just those in a particular location protesting a particular cause.  We don't have to be associated with that cause to be the victims because the erosion of on person's right of assembly risks the protection of our own right does do so on this or some other cause.

The former poet laureate Robert Hass, was beaten on the Berkley Campus by Alameda County deputy sheriffs.  Is it really necessary to beat a seventy-some year old man who is peacefully assembled? Or a man or woman of any age? 

Someone explain to me what threat is posed by this assemblage because the threat that is posed by police with batons and pepper-spray on a peacefully assembled crowd, that threat I understand.  The latter risks bodily harm, risks unhealthy tensions between authorities and citizens, and it jeopardizes the very constitutional rights we all  have as citizens of this country.



Above is one video shot at UC Berkley that demonstrates the response to assembled students.
I am outraged by this. I'm old enough to recall the Nixon years when young Americans were coming home from Vietnam in body bags by the thousands and brutality of those times. Do we really have to repeat this? Have we not progressed in the year that have followed?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hemingway on heros

As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary. ~ Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Knock My Socks Off Poetry Wednesday

As I indicated in an earlier post I've chosen Wednesday to call to the attention of others poems that I've found this week that Knock My Socks Off. 


The first one is a poem titled  FAST GAS by Dorianne Laux.  I actually heard this on a podcast from New Letters on the Air before finding it in print. The title threw me because the poem is not what first came to my mind. No, Laux was not writing about flatulence but first love.  A powerful poem worth reading - so very well crafted.


Another poem I was exposed to this week that really did it for me  was  IF I MUST PAINT YOU A PICTURE by Joannie Stangeland.  The subtle turn in this poem left not only kept my interest to the end but also sent me back to read over several times just to appreciate her effective write.


If you have not read either of these poems I recommend you check them out. 


See you next Wednesday when I'll tell you what poems left my feet bare.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Confession Tuesday

I'm tired as it's been a busy evening since I left the office and I'm definitely thinking about bed but it is Tuesday and I have my responsibilities. Come with me to the confessional...

Dear Reader~  Yes another week has come and gone. Let's see where this confession takes me.

Last night I was late getting home last night.  Tonight I did a cell phone switch out for my wife then grocery shopping so again late getting in. It's getting dark much earlier now and I confess this getting dark before I get home is bringing me down. Tomorrow will be another late night but at least I'll be at a poetry event. I guess I can try and suffer through another late evening for poetry ;)

Tonight when I came in my wife was beading. This is significant because she has not been able to for so long because she has had to spend so much of her evening time on work related tasks. She loves beading and is such an awesome bead artist. I confess I am so happy that she is beading again. It's a passion of hers and it makes me happy to know that she is able to pursue this love of hers.

I'm about confessed out - my bead is calling me.  May your week feed your passions.




Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hemingway on words

All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time. ~ Ernest  Hemingway

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Poems That Knock Your Socks Off

I've listened to and read quite a few poems this afternoon. In doing so I've decided that I am going to make a concerted effort to acknowledge poems and poets I've read each week that knocked my socks off. 

It's occurred to me that there are many really noteworthy poets and poems that are not widely read. When you consider that many poetry books total sales may range between a few hundred and a few thousand that means even work published is not exposed to a particularly large segment of the population.

With this in mind, I will be starting a weekly post in which I acknowledge poems that really rock.  I think all poets should become cheerleaders for outstanding work when we see it. Pity the lonely poem that a dedicated poet toiled over to create. Perhaps weak in infancy the poet revisited it and revised it over and over and finally sent it out into the cold world to stand for itself. It the entire life of the poem it may be read a a thousand times or so.  I'd like to feel I can expose that poem to a few more people, even it it's only a hundred or so more.

I do abide by copyright laws here, so you will not see me posting poems without permission. .Where I can, I will list titles and authors and link if possible or tell you where you might find the poem in question.

I've always liked the practice at readings of introducing your audience to a poem by someone other then yourself. I see this as one more way to support the work of other poets. Right now I'm thinking of Wednesdays. Poems that Knocked My Socks Off - Wednesday! 

Magpie Tales 90 / Poem: Company




Company


There they all are
together in their aloneness.
I wonder if they relish company?
I mean aside from the cadence
of the occasional passerby.



Michael A. Wells


Friday, November 11, 2011

11x3

11-11-11   I like the symmetry in the way this sounds. I suppose I should make as wish... can I make more then one? I know, that sounds greedy doesn't it? Anyway, won't reveal wish(es) as that's bad luck which would sort of defeat the karma of 11-11-11.

It's nice having the day off. I suppose there is an irony in having Veteran's Day off seeing how the active Veterans are really never off. But to the active duty and the retired Veterans we all owe then so much. And to their families we are equally indebted. They all make a enormous sacrifice along with the service men and women.

Reading some interesting material these past few days on creating the best lines in your poems some of which is related to line breaks.  I hope to share some more thoughts of this later over the weekend.

I've read quite a few poems on line lately but I've been meaning to mention one that was in the latest Autumn Sky Poetry edition.  If I Must Paint You a Picture by Joannie Stangeland. Joannie has done poetry justice using minimal words - no spare parts. She has captured the moment and made it her own and allowed us to linger in that moment until we are walloped over the head with an incredible ending. My hat is off to her and to Christine Klocek-Lim, Autumn Sky's editor for making a marvelous selection.

Weeks Mail Bag

Nothing new to report through yesterday. Just the run of the mill bills and advertisements, etc. Nothing poetry related **sigh** - same true for email. At least no rejections. I hope to send out more material this weekend. I'll let you know by Sunday night how that goes (my way of accountability).

Off for a morning Chiropractic visit - more later

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader:

It’s that time of the week again; the time when I dig deep into my past week and sometimes yes, even my soul and publically confess something. Sometimes silly, sometimes trivial, sometimes profound, I just never seem to know until I’m done.

During the past week I dug out one of my old journals to find poem draft that is over 5 months old. It’s a draft that I’ve had on my mind off and on since I first scribbled it out in long hand. It’s been one my mind for two reasons. The first because I’ve felt it had the making of a powerful poem. When you have written something like that and yet are not finished with it you tend to think about it over and over in your head even if it is tucked away out of sight. Well, I do anyway and I suppose I can’t speak for others.

There is a second reason I’ve had it on my mind and yet at some distance. Each of us it seems write things at some point that others we know read and automatically think you are writing about yourself. Fiction writers write things all the time and people don’t particularly associate the story with the author in a biographical sense but dear God if a poet writes something people you know will automatically think you’ve just revealed something about yourself they never knew.

I confess that this second reason on occasion keeps me from doing my job as a writer in the purest way. There are things (though not many) that I tend to try to stay clear of. This self censorship is a detriment to any artist and I’m not happy that I have to admit I am at times guilty of it. Now the poem at issue this past week actually was not of a topic of my so called forbidden zone. Still as I’ve thought about it all these months I’ve considered that some may wonder about the poem and if it is autobiographical.  The possibility of this has troubled me. All that said, I did tackle a rewrite of my draft and settled upon a final draft that I felt good enough to send out. All this to confess that this was a most difficult decision and the process of going through it was not easy.  It also revisits in my mind how disappointed in myself I am that I am able to let such things dictate what I write and what remains unwritten.

I do believe all poems give up something of the poet. Though not always autobiographical I confess that I think we all have grains of ourselves in our work. That they may not tell stories that are our own story but they do uncover a little of the mask that all of us wear daily.

There… that’s my confession this week. May you have a week of crystal clarity.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Just Saying...

Congratulations to Jeannine Hall Gailey - her book She Returns to the Floating World won a Silver Medal in the 2011 Florida Publishers Association Book Awards. A very well deserved accolade.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

To name something...

To name something is to wait for it in the place you think it will pass.   ~  Amiri Baraka



Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday Morning


the bed amiss
sheet and covers at odds
the morning smug
coffee half gone and cold
to-do list full 
neglect

Friday, November 04, 2011

On Happiness~

"THE ONLY TRUE HAPPINESS COMES FROM SQUANDERING OURSELVES FOR A PURPOSE." ~ William Cowper


Got this from Gretchen Rubin's daily e-mail this morning & thought I'd share.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Confession Tuesday on Wednesday...

Dear Reader:

I missed Confession Tuesday. If you are a regular reader you've perhaps realized this already. I confess I have no excuse.

It's raining and dreary here, perhaps it is in your neighborhood as well. I actually think it is quite November. November I think is perhaps the dreariest of the months.  Baseball season is over. The diamonds go dormant for the winter. The sun seem to be creeping out of sight and then weather like today's just adds to the general melancholy. I confess that I'm not much of a November fan.

November is also the month that you write a poem a day. Okay, some people do. I've done it before successfully. I've also started to do it and failed - falling off the wagon two or three weeks down the road. Today is the second day of the month and I don't have two poems. I don't even have the first.  But I will write here in a short while and see what I can do. But let me confess right now, I'm not going to adhere to a poem-a-day routine this month. I'll do my best to pull together 30 poems or drafts -  but what I am not going to do is stress over having a new one come the end of each day. I have more then enough stress in my life currently and I refuse to turn this already downer of a month into something even more dreary.

I confess that I fell over the weekend and I believe I hyper-extended my left knee. It was about a 9.8 on a scale of 10 in terms of pain. I'm doing better but it man did it hurt during the weekend.

If I get one more solicitation cold call on my cell phone someone is seriously going to have to restrain me. This is both a warning and a confession combined.

I'm trying to cut out as many distractions as I can during my writing time. I downloaded a trial copy of a program called Freedom. They make it for both Mac and Windows. You set a predetermined number of minutes you want to work Internet free and it blocks it. If you have the discipline to just not go there - great! Many of us don't. I confess that while I need at times to research something in conjunction with a particular write, I can schedule to do that during off writing time. I confess I should have started this long ago.

That's it for this week. I hope you can all absolve me of my tardiness. Have a great week ahead. See you Tuesday!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Magpie Tales 89 / Poem: The Gritty Facts



The Gritty Facts


There are vague memories
some fond some not
so. Much has changed.

The delete key absolves
a multitude of sins and wasted
paper. I don't miss

purple hands from carbon paper
if you know what I mean.
My youngest daughter doesn't.

When you were wired (old use of the word)
your hands would light up the keyboard.
The sound had its own poetry.

When you were stumped
the silence was killing.
No music to stream in

the background and shores to surf
at your fingertips. Your world cloistered
It was hard work. Dirty work.  



Michael A. Wells


Magpie


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Magpie Tales 88 / Poem: Espresso Spoiled


Espresso Spoiled


So many angles to consider.
Some within others

and building blocks
to something

bigger down the way
something maybe broken

or maybe just a portion
what we have discovered
of ourselves;

windows to see
what is real
what is fantasy
but the lines
blurred.

Einstein said—  "Reality
is merely an illusion,
just a very persistent one."

If the linear stuff is raised
or lowered on one end
what is the story line then?

You drove me into the city
today for something daring

my two shots of espresso spoiled
with talk of your stained childhood

even if it wasn't so
I wanted to hear crisp clean lines.





Michael A. Wells


magpie88





My Top 10 Living Poets Crush List~

So yesterday I announced a new poet (new to me) to teeter on that threshold of my current favorite poets list. Admittedly it's a list new that is somewhat in flux due to my changing experiences,  mood, exposure to new poetry material and poets. Sometimes poets may move on or off the list in a slow subtle fashion than at other times the shift may be more swift and dramatic.

So I've thought about his yesterday off and on - even between pitches during the World Series.  What constitutes my say top ten poet crushes currently. Crush being defined here as poets whose work rises to a heightened level of admiration that exceeds the normal limits one expects of most other poets.  A person on the poet crush list is someone you would drive miles out of your way to get to a reading.  You likely own multiple titles of their work or would if you could. You would prefer a hard copy to that is signed then some impersonal ebook pdf. You would love to have lunch with them and pick their brain about anything poetry related. A copy of their work could likely be found on your night stand. -That my friend, is my definition of a poet crush.  Perhaps you would use different criteria - I'd be interested to know your criteria.

With that in mind I give you my current top 10 Living Poets Crush List ( in no particular order):

  1. W. S. Merwin
  2. Sharon Olds
  3. Beth Ann Fennelly
  4. Ruth Stone
  5. Charles Simic
  6. Kelli Russell Agodon
  7. Donald Hall
  8. John Ashbery
  9. Ada Limon
  10. Katrina Vandenberg
Yes... Limon I have decided has made my top 10 list.  There you have it! Any thoughts about what this list says about my poetry tastes? So, who is on your Poet Crush List?

* NOTE~ As I look over this list I'm wondering just how many years of writing experience these 10 poets have accumulated?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Discovering a new poet that you really can appreciate is an incredibly exciting thing. For me, it has a physical and mental component that sort of comes together all at once and is kind of like the euphoric rush of endorphin in your brain from chocolate (with a little more staying power). 

The last couple of days I've  had my chocolate fix from the poetry of one Ada Limon.  She is an increasable talented poet who I heard interviewed on an Arts & Letters podcast by Angelia Elem which then sent me looking for more of her work online. With each read the find seemed to be getting better and better.

Still, there is a disappointing component to this story. I realized yesterday that Limon  was in Kansas City reading at one of our libraries in the middle of last month and it slipped past me. Augh!

She is the author of three poetry books, Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. Of the poems I've found by Limon, some of my favorite are the title poem of the latter book Sharks in the Rivers, Crush, Miles Per Hour, The Weather Reported 
and The Firemen are Dancing.


I'm actually thinking that Limon may be a candidate for my favorite poet list.  I probably should read some more of her work but she is definitely teetering on the edge of my list.  Her work has substance to it. I don't feel it's dumbed down. So far it  all seems to be fresh and not a mess of already hashed over stuff. I feel too that each of these poems are part of a journey that I was allowed to go on with her like she sometimes is discovering something for the first time and I'm important enough to be on that same trip with her. How could your better build an audience as a writer then to create that kind of environment? Wow! 




 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We are limited...

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” 

 Sylvia Plath  - October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963


If you build a shiny new performing-arts center, will the creative class come?

The headline question above is asked by The Atlantic about the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in my hometown of Kansas City.  Read what Hampton Stevens has to say about the expensive gamble by civic and corporate minds that has produced a one of a kind venue for preforming arts. Their may be no better place to hear music and it's here in Kansas City.



Above right an extior view of the center

left and below are interior views.


Read The Atlantic article here




Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Confession Tuesday

It's Tuesday and that means confession time. For some strange reason I feel really confessy today. Let's get down to business.

Dear Reader~

It's been a week since my last confession and I have to say sometimes I struggle with what to confess. I have no idea where this is going but I don't feel that way tonight.  I'm like a champagne bottle about to pop!  So you've been warned...

I woke up this morning realizing from my smart phone that I had a follow up eye appointment.  I gave it no thought all day yesterday and I anticipated getting to work and digging right in on several projects and the the smart-assed phone said something different. I confess that I did not want to go. I didn't want to go because I didn't want to pay another $50 co-pay. I didn't want to go because I had more then plenty of work to do and didn't want to be away from the office. I also confess that my self examination of my eye told me it was doing ok. I know,  I'm not an eye doctor but I did stay at Red Roof Inn last night. Ok, the last part is a fib. I was at home all night.  I used the first and the last excuse on my wife but she would not buy into my arguments so I went. Sigh!

My eye is doing much better. Healing is they way the doctor put it, but she also said I had debris in my eyes. Now when I heard that I thought of lumber... 2x4s and broken pieces of drywall. I confess this didn't sound good but she informed me that it is not unusual. She recommended that I flush it with artificial tears 4 x per day and use a damp compress on my closed eyes in the evening.  At any rate with the news my eye was healing fine I didn't feel any better about the copay.

My wife invited me to do lunch with her and a co-worker today and I confess I was thrilled at the invite, but I had to decline for which I was sad. It was really sweet if her to include me. I confess that even with the disappointment if having to decline - just being asked was an awesome feeling.

On another positive note, the mother-in-law's tongue was been evicted from out bathroom. It is safe to enter again. If you don't know what I'm talking about  read here. I confess I don't want to explain it again.

I confess that after last night's World Series game, in the unlikely event I ever become the GM of a baseball team I will not be hiring Albert Pujols to manage my team. Did he really call for a hit and run under the circumstances?

Another less then admirable side of me showed it's ugly face today. I became annoyed. At least twice that I can recall. Once because for some reason when I am driving and have a passenger in the car they are very often on the cell phone between 90 and 100% of the trip. I don't mind people getting calls or making calls but when you are driving for 20 to 30 minutes of more and they are continually on the cell I feel like a Taxi and dammit I don't even get a tip!

And the second annoyance came when I left the room to check on dinner cooking and came back to find that the TV program I was watching had been changed to some slash and dash vampite or scary show. Said party had just come home and decided to take up camp in my room.  I should have simply put the offender out but no, I tiptoed and let my annoyance grow. Maybe I've learned a lession. Time will tell.

Lastly, I confess that thanks to Governor Rick Perry I have a pretty good idea what desperation looks like.

Hope that wasn't too scary.  Until next week - I'm confessed out!