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Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Web Page Is Down AGAIN! #@&%!

My regular web site michaelawells.com is down again. The first part of the month I discovered it offline and as best I can tell it was down for at least parts of three days. Looking at my stat counter it's had no hits for 12 days so it seems like it's been this way a while. It's being hosted by MyDomain.com. I've been with them for several years now and my renewal is up in July so I'm thinking a change is in order.  I've never moved a site before. Any recommendations as to where to go? How much of a pain is it to move a domain name?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Two Judges Say Go Deep - Don't Play It Safe

I read two blog posts today that touched on poetry contests and I noted a similar view help by two people who have been contest judges and I thought they were worth mentioning.

I have note entered a lot of contests - I maybe average one to two entries a year so I'm one one who has a lot of personal experience with the contest circuit.

One of the two pieces that I'm talking about was an interview in Ploughshares of Mary Biddinger by Victoria Chang. I've met Victoria at a reading in Kansas City I believe in 2008. I've read two of her books Circle and Silivinia Molesta. I enjoyed both but was much impressed by Circle as a first book.  Biddinger I've never met or heard read but I have her book Saint Monica which I was so in love with I I can hardly contain myself in wait for her next book O Holy Insurgency. She is the queen of Catholic poetic culture.

The second piece that I read was a blog post by Susan Rich. I've never met Susan either but have her book The Alchemist's Kitchen. One thing that I've appreciated about Susan is that she is a poet who not only has a strong social consciousness but will on occasion allow it the gently permeate her work.

So insight of interest did I glean from these two sources? Rich pointed out, "...all the poems that were sent on to me were quite competent. However, competent is not enough to win a contest. The poems that startled me, that made me want to read then and re-read them, the poems that could not be nailed to a chair in terms of their meaning."  Her advise specifically was to, "Choose to send your poems that take risks."


Mary Biddinger said  she loves  "Poems with teeth... poems that aren't afraid to use their teeth." For Biddinger, she would rather see "a manuscript that makes a few missteps, but dose so with bravery, versus a highly-polished competent, yet safe collection."


If you take to heart what these two poet/judges have to say on the subject, it comes down to being willing to take the risk.  I suppose this really should come as no surprise because it really is the poem that stands up and dares to be different that gets noticed. I can recall shuffling through pages of work in the past and  pulling from it the pieces that seemed the most polished. I will try to not make that mistake again.

Today In the News Headlines

The court ruling fails to ease doubts
firefighters search door to door for bodies

Consumer confidence declined in June
S & P 500 caps best June since 1999

Tatum puts critics under their spell
Cruse-Holmes divorce

China's first female astronaut returns
earth adds leap second

Hillary Clinton attacking
man plagued by porn-induced headaches

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Confession Tuesday on Thursday

Dear Reader:

It's Thursday -  9 days since my last confession. Nine mostly hot days. Today stretches the concept of hot as it reaches 105. I am not amused.



  • I confess that I missed confession Tuesday and hope that by making it up on another "T" day I can be afforded special dispensation.
  • I confess that special dispensation seems redundant to me. If you receive dispensation isn't it speal in itself?
  • I confess that I am sipping on a diet cream soda and fruit punch flavored Vodka. (I didn't use much Shannon) My defense is rooted in triple digit heat.
  • I confess that any time the San Francisco Giants beat the Dodgers is a good day but when they beat the Dodgers and move into a tie for first place is crazy assed exciting!
  • I confess that I had a bad case of methodical today. I suppose this was not really a bad thing because I had a lot of really detail orientated stuff to deal with at the office today. 
  • I confess the heat was so bad today that spending the night at work didn't seem all that bad... but alas I did come home.
  • I confess that I was pleasantly surprised by the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Health Care Act.
  • I confess that even with the horrible heat, most of the people that I have come in contact with the past couple of days have not been grouchy but rather very respectful and courteous.
  • I confess that I need to write yet tonight, therefor I'm confessed out for this week. 
Hope you all stay safe and cool where-ever you are!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Reflection

It's only June and the a/c struggles - what is July and August going to be like?  I'm just saying...

Did some office work I carted home today.  Also some writing as well as other tasks I had on my calendar for today.  Read a little of the poet Marilyn Kallett. The poet Joy Harjo calls Kallet a romantic sensualist.  I've heard Kallett reading live at Rochkurst University a few years ago.  Returning to her work was an experience as she is a bit of a break from much of what I've been reading lately.  Bring some variety into your reading experience can be a good thing. By the way, I'm reading How To Get Heat Without Fire.




Thought for the day:   In the United States, though power corrupts, the expectation of power paralyzes. - John Kenneth Galbraith




MAG 123: ONE MAN'S RELIGION



Photo of Orson Welles provided by Tess Kincaid at THE MAG


Along an egregious path 
beset with noisy sociopathic notions,

came a man with the raspberry blue sugar sticky 
of cotton-candy smeared about his face.

One hand groping his wants
the other loaded with Jelly Bellies—
practicing  his holy belief of entitlement.





© 2012 Michael A. Wells



The Mag 123




Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Night Jazz

Really fun night out with wife at The Phoenix Jazz Club - with Lonnie McFadden on the horn and Tap Dancing!  Great Anniversary Celebration. As we walked out of the building the weather was surprisingly comfortable.  Bright sliver of a crescent moon hung in the sky. Could not have orchestrated it any better.  


On another front, rejection letter from Indiana Review arrived. Second this week.  Week ago I did have a piece accepted though. According to to my Duotrope Submission Tracker my acceptance ratio is 7.9% which it tells me is above the average rate. There is that to be thankful for. 


Had a breakthrough idea related to manuscript this week and for that I'm pleased. All together it's been a good week. Very busy at the office but I can usually count on that. 






Celebrating 38 Years of Marriage


Before I retire for the night I feel compelled to say a few words about the number thirty-eight. Poets normally deal with words but at the moment it's the number thirty-eight that pretty much sums it up.

It was thirty-eight years ago on the 22nd of June, that my wife Cathy and I were married.  We dated for three years prior so really our lives have been entwined for essentially 4 decades. No one lives 4 decades without trials and tribulations and we have had ours; but I cannot think of having gone through my life without the partner I've been privileged to have by my side.

Through numerous endeavors over these years I have been blessed by her support, her faith in me, and her gentle encouragement at times when I have needed it the most.  I'm not an easy person (I'm a poet for God's sake) at times. She has tolerated the many flavors of idiosyncrasy that I tend to embrace. Overlooking faults and bring out and celebrating the best in me at times when I have trouble seeing the best myself.

~0~

Love you Cath!!  Looking back all these years later I might have done a lot of things with my life different, but not you. I would do this all over. Here's to a long life together!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Confession Tuesday - Bacon Edition

Another week has come and gone.  It's been one week since since my last confession. Let's get started.


Dear Reader:



I confess I love bacon. I mean who doesn't? But tonight I made a run out to get a Bacon Sundae.  I know it wasn't something that I really needed but it did hit the spot. I actually would like to hit it again with another one right now but I will restrain myself and not go out again. I have to say the combination of bacon, caramel, chocolate and vanilla ice cream is Walla!

I confess that I was really tired today at work and every time I turned around someone else was yawning. This only accentuated the draggy feeling. It was kinda weird because I slept really well last night.  Maybe I'd be better off if didn't sleep so well tonight.

If you read yesterday's post you know of my writing related fear that I've been struggling through. I confess that I wished the post has not sparked some discussion but last night I pulled out some old journals of mine and found some earlier stuff that was worth reworking. So this has given me a  momentary relief from stressing.

I confess that I'm glad that some of the shows my wife and I like to watch have started back up.  Rizzoli & Isles, Franklin & Bash and Suits are three of our must see shows. 

I confess it's 11 PM and time for me to hit the sack. Have a great week!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Fear of Irrelevance

I've realized I have a new fear...   It happens between the pen and the page. It's not really the fear of writing as much as it is the fear that what I write becomes too predictable. Stale I suppose would be another word. 


You see I've reached that point where I realize that even that killer piece I wrote last October that has been published has to stand alone and what I write today and tomorrow has to be fresh and unique. Even if writing in a themed manuscript (especially if) you have to create from a fresh perspective. 


I guess what this really comes down to is the fear that my writing will become irrelevant. We all have to have fresh ideas or at least fresh approaches. It's one thing for a poet to find his or her voice, but that voice must be able to find a range of fresh ideas. 


So in those few moments when you first pick up your pen, what do you do to take your mind to some new direction?  Any tricks that you have to keeping your work fresh? I'd love to hear from others struggling with this and especially those who have fought this demon and are now secure in their writing as the pen and the paper first meet.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day



I had an opportunity to spend some time over lunch with three of my four children. Only Cathy Ann was not present as she is the only one out side the metropolitan area these days. Additionally my wife, daughter-in-law Claudia and future son-in-law Brandon were along. I just a while ago got off the phone from Cathy Ann and it was good to chat with her if she could not be here in person. 

I've thought about my own father from time to time today. Someone I really didn't know.  Only meeting him as an adult on I believe 4 occasions. He is deceased now.  Still, I think about him and the rest of my paternal side of the family that is principally gone save perhaps some cousins that I really don't know. I don't know any way to explain it other then this void that has plagued my life and I suppose always will.

I looked through a few poems to find one befitting of sharing on Father's Day and I chose the following:






To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.
I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face

– Li-Young Lee, 'The Gift'


MAG 122 ~ Likeness



Puddle, 1952, M. C. Escher







Likeness

A puddle collective on the ground.
Mirror images mired in detail
reflective of all that's around.


Tracks and footprints form the frame
to cup and stabilize the fallen rain
of splendor in a muddy marsh.





Michael A. Wells


Mag 122

Friday, June 15, 2012

In Passing

We ate muffins out of papers;
spoke of logistics only in passing.

You bathed in tepid water.
The phone rang twice - I did not get up.

In the morning you left early-
left a note by the coffee maker

expressing your gratitude for the time
that filled the void.

I held the note for a while...
quite a while I think
but I don't really know time.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Friday Comes Early

This has been a crazy intense week at work and every since Tuesday my mind has been processing over and over one question, "Is it Friday yet?" When the end of the work day arrived tonight you know what? It was Friday. Well, it really is only Thursday still but since I'm at my max for vacation time or it gets truncated, I scheduled a day off for tomorrow. So Thursday is Friday in a manner of speaking. 


After work I drove home, picket up Meghan (daughter) and drove back into the city to a gallery showing of work by the Kansas City area artist Jennifer Rivera.  It has occurred to me that walking around taking in artwork after a long day or series of days is a great way to unwind. A glass of wine and paintings and it takes the handcuffs off your mind. I would say in this case it was therapeutic. 


Jennifer's artwork is extraordinary with textures and colors that can be nova star brilliant or the darkened minor keys in a  Shostakovitch symphony and the many points in-between. There were three pieces on display that I especially enjoyed. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Confession Tuesday - Wizard edition

Dear Reader:

It's been three poetry drafts, one finished poem, a car breakdown and a car repair since my last confession


This weekend our Mercury Sable broke down on the was home from run out to fetch carryout dinner. I was able to get the car pushed out of the way of traffic and with the help of a very nice man in a pickup with his teenage sons. They then kindly offered a ride home- a distance of maybe three miles. Fortunately I was able to return to the car later and it started and was able to safely return it to the home.

I confess that my future son-in-law who is a wizard with all things mechanical especially cars determined that the problem was the alternator and the next day replaced it with one from a junk yard - thus saving us boo-coup bucks. Okay, he's not like a Harry Potter type wizard but just a cool.

I confess that that this weekend I received word a poem I wrote maybe four years ago found a home. Of course I'm always delighted to get an acceptance letter but this one was special because this is a poem that came so easily and was one I always believed in. It was one of those rare instances that the poem almost writes itself.

I confess that I found myself looking at an e-reader tonight when we were out shopping. I also confess that I like real books better. I do have Kindle and Nook on my PC and while I have used them I have been a very slow accept them. Poetry books I want to hold in my hand.

It's late and I still need to write yet tonight so until next week - be safe...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mag 121: What I Count On

Still Life, 1670, detail by Jean François de Le Motte


The notes, lists, inventory of thought and miscellaneous,
my refuge for information is all there. I've come to depend
on a singular place; vertical and standing put.  


My mind tends to meander more horizontally
these days and often drifts off path. 


When I need to refer to something important
it is that assemblage of what-not 
stapled to the weathered wall that I count on. 


Michael A. Wells


Mag 121

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Saturday in the Park… I think it was the 4th of July

 In Th Park

No it’s not yet July but for some reason this song has been looping through my mind this morning. Thank you Chicago! I suppose it could be worse, after all I am a big fan of Chicago but I generally don’t like anything to loop through my mind. Certainly that is the case this morning. We have an Ozone alert today so it’s probably not a great day to be at the park anyway.

Instead of the looping, let me turn to my journal and look for a few tid bits from this past week and maybe I can get this out of my head.

  • “The writer, when he is also an artist, is someone who admits what others don’t dare reveal.” - Elia Kazan
  • “All my life famous people have been dying from a distance/up ahead just over the curvature I see the tops of them on approach/the distance is narrowing”
  • “a fan chops the humid air/throwing it back in my face…
  • “This free market thing/how is it working for you?/Mowing the lawn is getting pricey”
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Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Right Person–The Right Time

                                                                                                

NTlaureate
The announcement of the newest poet laureate offers some contrast to many of the past. Natasha Trethewey is by no means the first woman laureate but she joins a rather short list women who have held the post. It is equally noteworthy to me that she is quite young as poet laureates go. At 46 she is actually older then I had thought her to be, still many laureates enter the office in their 70’s or 80’s.

Yet another significant aspect of Tretheway’s selection is the regional flavor her work brings. She is from the South and much of her work is laced in history and people and times in the South. Merwin and Hall for example were poets that had geographical ties but there work could probably be described as more universal.
While universality in poetry is a good thing, some times there are stories to be told that are more parochial. That need to be part of the national dialogue. That without, we as a nation are not whole.Natasha Trethewey is a powerful voice that has been informed by a unique life story.

I’ve read some of her work over the past couple of years and heard much more in her own voice on NPR and the Poetry Hour on PBS. From some of the talk on Facebook I gather she has flown below the radar of more poetry readers then I would have guessed. That being the case, her selection is even more significant because she a voice that is worthy of being heard.


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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Confession Tuesday


Dear Readers:

It’s been another one other one of them… a week.  So here I am before you to offer my week’s confession. To the box….

I confess that this has been an emotional week. My son’s bulldog Hoss was put down. My daughter’s pet rat Mason was put down.  I confess that I don’t like the words put down. The phrase seems quite ugly to me. 

I confess that I went to see Dark Shadows and found it in some respects charming. The music from the 60’s-70’s period was a walk down memory lane that I really enjoyed.

I confess that I’ve grown tired this week of some people that allow their actions to be governed by egos larger then buildings. Adult bullies are no different than young bullies. In fact, there is something really lacking in them, that they reach adult age and have such an inversion of maturity and ego.

I confess that I returned two library books late.  I always want to sneak in and just leave them when they are late which is so silly because I’m still going to pay a fine for them being overdue. I just feel kind of dirty when I’m at that counter handing late books over to the librarian.

I confess that I’ve had several ideas swimming around in my head that want to be poems and that I really need to honor their wish and try to get them down on paper. 

That’s about it for this week…. till next time, enjoy each day ahead!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

For Hoss




If you want to know why a tear is salty—


It‘s because salt is a mineral 
adding weight so tears run down our face
keeping us grounded in times of sorrow.

It’s because salt is a preservative,
a constant reminder what each day
together meant us.

In times of loss, however brave we seem,
the spring within us flows
because it comes from  having known.