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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!


  • Felices fiestas
  • اجازات سعيدة
  • Bonnes vacances
  • Счастливых Праздников
  • 节日快乐
  • Wesołych Świąt!
  • Свята й вихідні
  • 幸せな休日
  • Sretni Praznici
  • Frohe Feiertage
  • Vacanze felici
  • חג שמח
  • Hyvää joulua
  • تعطيلات خوش

Peace to All!!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Pants on Fire Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been a long assed time since my last confession. All the way back to September 20th. Thanksgiving has come and gone since then. Election day has come and gone but the hangover remains. I've toiled away at writing. Some good and some not so good. But here I am today for the pants on fire edition of  confession Tuesday. Shall we begin?

I've tried to true to my writing and this past week I was able to pull together  two new poems and several other near poems. That is, they are close to being able to stand on their own words. I confess that I had been in a writing funk but  I am declaring it past!

Being busy with writing is good. Being busy with most anything is good. The repercussions of the Presidential election reverberate in my head and my stomach if I am not busy. Even then, I confess that I am not  able to completely shake the thought from my achy bones.

One of the sad things about this election (and there are so many) is that truth or fact was a casualty of the election. I've been involved in enough political campaigns over the years to know that sometimes truth gets stretched and bent a bit by some of the candidates. I confess in all the years of campaigns that I have been alive to observe and /or participate in, none have failed so miserably in the pursuit of truth.

This is no small thing that has occurred.  Concerted efforts to manufacture fake news was rampant. Lies were made by the Trump campaign and denied within fractions of an hour in spite of the existence of audio and or video feed that substantiated it. People were believing things that were so phony and outlandish and yet they ate this stuff up and looked for more.

One of the dictionaries that  each year crowns a new word as significant to the passing year selected "post-truth" as the word for this year. Who could argue against this selection?

I could go on and on about all the concerns I have about a Trump Presidency (and there are many) but the only thing I'm saying here is that anything closely resembling fact was brutally assaulted.  If truth is not dead after this election it has fallen and can't get up. Perhaps it can be placed on life support, but I must confess that I do not believe the prognosis for it's future are looking good at all.

There are two parties to this problem. One of course was the liar. But lies can be challenged. They can be scrutinized by fact checks. I don't know if a large portion of the electorate is lazy or if they are plain ignorant. Some, but not all of this crap was being slung around by white supremacist groups. What I don't know is how after such a blatant and high profile campaign of lies and fake news, how do you restore the rule of factuality to our political process? The cow is out of the barn, how do you return her to her former place?

I confess that as I leave you this evening, I sign off disturbed, concerned, and dismayed.  I have no answers.

All best to everyone!

Friday, November 11, 2016

What Has Happened to America...

This week something happened that has shaken the very foundation around me and evidently that of countless others.

I have voted in 12 presidential elections in my life time. I've had my share of winning and losing candidates I've experienced disappointment and since there are always winners and losers it stands to reason there always has to be some people who are on a losing side and wake up disappointed; assuming the mad it to bed at all.
 
It was during my morning drive that it occurred to me that that something major had occurred. Something that left me feeling  like an expatriate; removed from the country I love. The feeling was surreal. Clearly I had only left my home and was driving I-70 to my office. I had gone nowhere beyond my normal daily routine, yet I was in some altered universe. I had not left my country but rather, my country had left me.

You see my country spans across a continent with two great oceans on either side. On the east - stands a monument overlooking  New York City that was a gift of France. It  immortalizes the promise of America to the world.  "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" - words of Emma Lazarus, a New York poet best known for her poem The New Colossus from which these lines were taken. On the west, the great city of San Francisco whose Golden Gate Bridge is spans across the San Francisco Bay and is another great landmark for those arriving from the Pacific side. But the promise on  Lady Liberty in the New York harbor extends to those arriving from all directions.

And my country not only welcomes persons from other countries, other nationalities, other races, and any religions, it affords these persons who come to this country for a new life, for safety, the protection and freedoms and dignity afforded all of us. By extension, unless we are Native American, we have all made this journey in the past.

But back to my drive...  I know that  as I make this trip, today  and in the weeks ahead a new administration will take shape that has made as the counterpoint of it's campaign promises that threaten to shake the very foundations of what has made this the greatest nation. The role model for the rest of the free world and hope for those oppressed everywhere.

The future in this country is bleak for persons of other nationalities, for Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Asians. For gays, lesbians, and trans-gendered people. Even women, who are not in the minority are open game for discrimination, sexual assault, and misogyny. The new leadership is not committed to protecting these people and in fact they have real reasons for fear. Already Black churches have been torched. Muslims have been assaulted, or shot and killed walking down the street. Promises of mass deportation and families broken up.  And the hard fought promise to make medical care for millions a reality as opposed to a matter for the privileged teeters on the brink of extinction.

This is not the America I know. This is an America that is broken. The idea the these things will make America great again, flies in the face of Lady Liberty. Perhaps she should be returned to her original benefactor



 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Time in a Bottle


Won't you come with me to the confessional?

Dear Reader:

It's been a week since my last confession and I am frankly amazed that I have been better about the regularity of this Tuesday ritual. Woo-hoo!

Sometimes when I am thinking about time I think of the Jim Croce and his song, Time In A Bottle from 1973. Perhaps for different reasons their are lines from this song that I relate to but I think the one that most often is looping over and over in my head is... "But there never seems to be enough time/To do the things you want to do, once you find them." I confess this truth is of the great cruelties of life.

Like so many people I sometimes would like a re-do button. I think of the past how I would have approached certain aspects of my life differently but if I could go back, would I really change anything. Lewis Carroll in Alice In Wonderland  reminds us that, "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person them," and true that is.

There were things I did in my youth that I definitely would not change. Those things that relate to my family, I would not want to erase any of that. No do-overs on who I married, our children, but I wonder, would the me back then even entertain things that the me right here in 2016 thinks he would want to do differently?

How much have I changed? How have those changes occurred over the years?  Of course I have to confess that I don't  have answers to those questions. Not really. I could wing it, give you some answer that might encompass some half truths but we are dealing with human nature and the scientific aspect in that field is, well non-existent or at least above my pay grade, as in God speak.

Perhaps too, I can confess that thinking about  life do-overs are another reason I have come to love writing. We can create people and breath some of ourselves into them. We can control their fate, what makes them tick. Change them on a whim in so many ways. It is perhaps the only control that I can exert over  things in any reality other than writing.

Until next time, may all your minutes be rich...



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Confession Tuesday - I Have My Two Buddies Edition

Dear Reader:

Won't you come with me to the confessional.....

Reader, it's been one Chiropractic visit with Trigger Points, one visit to mom's, one documentary movie, one dinner out with my sweetie, one meeting of K.C. Metro Verse, two Power Ball tickets, two new poetry drafts, one vacation day and one trash day since my last confession.


  • I've been using a Bullet Journal for something like 8 months now. The thing about it is that  it remains in flux. I'm still making  modifications in exactly how I use it. I confess there is a bit of redundancy in it because I still sink my  digital calendar and use a Franklin Planner at my regular job. Still, I do believe this has been helpful in several ways, not the least of it is giving me a quick visualization of where to go next in my tasks during the day. I am thinking of gravitating away from the BuJo for my regular work stuff and focusing more on the intersections of my writing and personal life. But hey, I may change my mind on that - like I say it's a process, everything is in flux.
  • I am not generally one of these people who blames all kinds of shit on the media. I am a firm believer in a Free Press and I believe it's a hallmark of any democracy. I have become somewhat cynical of so called news these past few weeks and while I blame some of the mainstream press, it has occurred to me that one of the prices we are paying for the internet is the blurred lines from what is news and what is pure made up shit with absence of sources. Places like Breitbart News, and there are a host of others that routinely carry some of the most bat shit crazy stuff that has no reputable citation to back it us. Additionally, there is often not a shred of common sense involved in the stories. What irritates me is that people tweet and Facebook many of these stories and the get reported over and over until half of the non-thinking population sincerely believes the shit and are basing their November vote on it. I confess that there is truly no safeguard in democracy for the participation by persons that don't know their brain from their ass hole.
  • I confess I've had some heightened interest in Memoirs of late. I want to read the book The Art of Memoir - Mary Karr 
  • I feel blessed tonight, both Silas and Madison are in my studio as I write this,  Just chilling out with me. I confess that Cathy is probably enjoying quiet time watching TV without the trying to climb all over her. 
After a brief shower, I believe there has been a break in the rain and I probably should run these two dogs out to do their business for the night. 

Until next time, live in the now, and be safe! 

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Chocolate M&M's are Dead to Me Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been umpteen games of Words with Friends, 3 watermelons, two submissions,  28 pages of journaling, three bags of Booterscotch M&M's, one dental cleaning,  too many insect bites and three weeks since my last confession.


  • I realize that there are certain things that  are synonymous with the process many writers have and these typically include the ingestion of certain drinks such as coffee, wine, tea, or other libation. Also, among the solid foods group a premium seems to universally  be placed on chocolates, Girl Scout Cookies, Oreos Cookies, etc.  I'm here to tell you that while Chocolates in general are still on my list, M&M Chocolate candies are dead to me. That's right. Deader than a dead poet. But what M&M's have going for them is a new special edition variety called White Boo-terscotch.  I confess these are to die for!  They are only available at Target stores and my guess is that M&M Candy Company is planning them to be only a fall variety. My recommendation is for them is to keep them after fall, Change the name simply to White Butterscotch M&M's and distribute them across all their markets. I'm telling you, No more Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut, Chocolate Almond, M&M's for me.  The Peanut Butter have never been able to compete with Reese's Pieces.
  • This week I began keeping better tabs on the actual time I spend writing. I confess that I can't tell you what I've done since my last confession but I can tell you that I spent 5-1/2 hours this week ending today. Not quite happy with this amount though I know the most important thing is the quality. Still, you have to get words on a page to get quality stuff. 
  • I confess that  I have spent this past week doing the comparison thing to other poets and I am very aware that  this is not a good thing to do, but sometimes it is just so hard not to. 
  • As I am writing this tonight, Silas, my German Shepard is curled up beside me on the floor in my studio. Often, it's Madison, my long haired Dachshund who keeps me company when writing so I have to confess this is kind of a treat to have him here with me. 
  • Cathy is out tonight helping a friend and will not be home till late. I made her Gluten Free Brownies as a treat for when she gets home. I confess that I hope they are editable. I've never made them before. 
  • I am so tired of insect bites this summer. Someone once told me that a lot of them are drawn to people with diabetes. I have no idea how factual that may be but I confess I am tired of just going out to bring the dogs in from out back feeling a whole new crop of bites each time. 
  • I've been trying to read some new to me, more obscure poets lately. I confess it is always exciting to find a new gem among them. 
  • I believe I'll have a couple Butterscotch M&M's and call this done!
Thanks for stopping by.... until next time, be safe and joy life!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Long Assed Time Edition


Dear Reader,

Shall we head to the confessional?

It's been two weeks and one 30 year anniversary since my last confession.

I confess it has not been quite 30 years... but it will be on the 25th of this month. None the less, yesterday I was given a pen commemorating my 30 years of service at work. While I admit I consider thirty years working one place a pretty significant chunk of time, it didn't hit me until it was pointed out that  few present would ever achieve such distinction. Given my job is basically crisis driven, I confess that it does give me pause to consider  how I have made it this long and kept my sanity about myself. I also wonder if I have actually  lost my sanity some time back and have just been oblivious for a number of years. I've had the good fortune to work with a number of really good people over the years. I confess that it has made to longevity on the job much easier. I'm thankful for each of them.

The month of August is half over and I am not particularly happy with the number of hours I have written this month. I confess that I know it's not always about how much as it is about how good and I do feel that  I have put together several really strong  drafts. That said, I hope next week to be back in the confessional box acknowledging that  I have met or exceeded my number of hours writing for the week.

I got totally excited recently. When good things happen to other  poets I'm one that is inclined to celebrate their success, so when I saw that  Beth Ann Fennelly was named Poet Laureate for Mississippi I wanted to do cartwheels. Beth Ann is among my favorite poets. She has been doing some fiction recently and I hope this will set her on a course of a new poem or two from time to time.

Color me perturbed tonight.  I picked up a bottle of  Gold Peak tea at the store and while I intended to get the diet tea, I took a big swig as I got ready to write this and realized I had inadvertently picked up unsweetened.  Yuck!  Alas, I've added Splenda to it

I confess that I am hopeful that I will have some good news to report in the next couple of weeks. That's all I'm saying on the subject.

And last but not least... I confess that I redid my web site and have a new domain name The new site is at michaelwells.ink  and the other  domain michaelawells.com has been redirected so that it will load to the new domain.

I confess that's all I got the week!

Be safe!

Michael


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Where is the Year Going Edition

 Dear Reader:

It's been 8 weeks since my last confession. Really? Yes, sadly it has been that long.

Since we last met at the confessional, we've celebrated America's birthday, we've nominated the first women from a major political party to be President of the United States.  I've written a few new poem drafts, created a new web site at michaelwells.ink and collected a few more rejection letters.

Let me begin my confession:

Reader, I don't know where this year is going but it is going there fast. Too fast!  August? Really? How the hell did this happen?  I look at my calendar hopeful I can find the damn hole that the days are falling through. I don't see one. (BIG SIGH!)

There is my precious granddaughter Harper Jo who is not quite two years old now, but she is shedding that infant look in favor of a more sophisticated young child look. Her vocabulary and mannerisms are quickly becoming  more advanced and I fear one day soon she will be advance beyond my wisdom. She is funny, active, and smart. I miss the younger version but I like the new one too. What I must confess is that I fear that this too will pass way to fast and the next phase will be different. Not necessarily bad, just different and I will miss the cuteness that presently becomes her.

Last Friday was the quarterly  Neon Gallery event sponsored by the Writers Place. Great reading & music. Also I confess I had some good advice from Maryfrances Wagner.  She suggested that  I check out the Meter, Beat and Feet Performance at the Fringe Festival on Sunday. So I took her up on it, and this was my Artist date for the week. (something I confess I need to do more often) The event combined poetry, music and interpretative dance and was very relaxing and the hour  really went too fast.

This weekend I worked on an application to submit with writing for the Fall AWP  writer 2 writer mentoring program. I wrapped up everything this evening and uploaded my submission via Submittable.  This is not me my first attempt and I know there are limited resources but I confess that  I do so hope that  I make it this time. This would be an extraordinary opportunity. I've hear numerous mentors and mentees rave about the program. Any prayers and good karma out there are welcome.

I can't let this confession pass without saying  how incredibly proud I am that the Democratic Party has as it's Presidential nominee the first woman ever. I'm excited for what this means to women and little girls everywhere in the U.S. So many other nations have had women as their  chief executives, prime ministers, etc. It is well past time that we did too. This is a historic event and even as a man, I confess that  I had a real sense of pride that we've reached this point but I will not  be fully satisfied until we've elected the first woman. Men can be feminists too!  If you have daughters, granddaughters and even for your wives, be champions for their equality.  I think writing has taught me a lot about the disparities that exist in the broader communities. We all must work to see the field leveled.

Until next week or next confession, whichever comes first.....

All Best!

Friday, July 08, 2016

This Isn't Working

This has been building for some time now. It seems that some of us are much more aware of the existence of the problem than others. This of course causes me to wonder first of all, why? Second, it makes me wonder what it will take for these people that  cannot see or do not want to accept the problem we have has reached a crisis point.

There are all kinds of statics that should be screaming at us.  The fact that every day 90 some persons die as a result of firearms. Some of these in the commission of crimes. An increasing number are mass shootings of innocent persons. Sadly, a growing number are youngsters dying at their own hands or because of someone else's negligence. We should not have to simply accept the number of  children who gain access to a gun and shoot themselves, there little sister, or their mother in the back as she drives down the road because mom kept a loaded handgun in her purse in the back seat of the car.

Yesterday, 5 Dallas police officers were killed by  a person or persons using high capacity weapons and another seven were wounded. The two previous days, officers discharged their  weapons in two other cities striking  and killing  black males in tragic shootings. In both instances it said that the two victims were carrying guns. One was pulled by police from the victims pocket after  he was shot and killed. The other is said to have advised the officer that  he had a permit  and had a gun in the glove box. These two incidents will be investigated by the Department of Justice, and I'm certain they the events will be subject to much scrutiny, as well they should be. The one thing  that is certain is that they will not be the last.

America has a death rate by guns far and above other civilized societies. It actually  exceeds some third world countries that are racked with violence. Our nation has a gun problem. It is made worse because we have become culturally dependent upon guns.Yes, there is really no more accurate way to put it than we as a nation have a fetish for and an addiction to guns.

For the time being let's set aside hunters.  For the most part, hunters have a real respect for their firearms. It may sound like a generalization, but  hunters are often among the most responsible firearm owners. But things get a little more dicey after that. For  years,  man gun owners  kept  guns at home basically  for  protection in the home setting.  While gun ownership has become prolific over the years, there also became growing  movement to carry weapons in public. We saw the emergence of concealed carry laws in various states with permits required. This changed to include "open carry" and state after state the legislatures ripe with  members whose campaign coffers were filled by the NRA and other  gun lobbies were only  so happy to oblige and began even kicking  away required permits and required training  classes.

I could go on  with a lengthy  account of  public shootings just this year, that were not  a part of any criminal action but simply a product of  irresponsibility, unfortunate accident, negligence or  just plain stupidity.  I will spare you  a complete list,  but these are a few off the examples that have actually  happened and have been reported on this year:

  • Several instances of  children from three to six years of age that  found a firearm loaded in the floor under the seat  of their parents car or in a purse.  I a least  three incidents that  I recall since the first of the year, these children in the process of handling the loaded weapon discharged it and in each instance manager to strike the driver in the back.  The makes me wonder how may were discharged that  missed hitting someone? It also begs to ask where the loaded guns were in their reach, and why the hell weren't the buckled in car seats?  
  • A teacher  carrying  dropped her gun while sitting on a toilet, ricocheting and striking herself in the ankle. 
  • A Woman who dropped her purse while checking out at the doctor's office and her handgun discharged, bullet traveling  through wall and striking another person in an exam room. 
  • A kid reaching in his dad's jacket pocket and discharging a gun at McDonald's in line striking anther patron.
  • Child reaching in mom's purse at Walmart and discharging a loaded handgun killing  the mother. 
There kinds of things are happening  daily. They are a part of that  90 plus gun deaths a year and even more wounded. How safe are you in a public eating establishment with people (well meaning as they may be) all around you with  guns? 

There are few statics related to gun ownership that do not paint a disparaging picture for gun ownership.   Death of women by domestic abusers skyrocket when guns are in the home. An intruder is more likely to use the gun on the homeowner. The incidence of successful defense with a gun in a situation where you are confronted with another armed person is almost a myth. 

For the most part, we all seem to be aware of these these things.  But our gun culture has a strange historical twist. In the olden days, people strapped their gun on their hip and went about  doing their business in public. Have you ever wondered why that stopped?  Why instead of that simply  being an American continuum, we stopped that practice and states and municipalities enacted laws that put an end to that practice? 

In the 1950's the NRA was largely an organization with a membership of mostly hunters.  In those days the NRA was actually out  front  in opposing high power weapons and on record of supporting  gun education. But that changed...   From those days we saw increased gun ownership and a trend to buying  hand guns for protection in the home.  Perhaps if that were still the primary use of guns, we would not be in this period of  gun death epidemic. The NRA changed and was radicalized and became less an organization for the hunter membership and a lobby to for the gun industry. A significant  number of our public officials were willing  to sell themselves like whores to the NRA to do their bidding. They have chipped away at  most of the laws aimed at  making sure that  criminals do not have easy  access. That  most anyone, even persons with mental health histories have easy access to guns. They stripped away  regulations about carrying them in public and they have taken us back to the days of the old west. 

The gun industry is a $13.5 Billion industry and that industry is all too happy to buy  votes in Congress and state general assemblies. 

The biggest fear propagated by the NRA is that  the government is going to come and confiscate your guns from you. They have been saying President Obama was going t do this for 7 and a half years now. He doesn't have much time left. 

Let's be honest. That was never going to happen. But  there are serious "responsible laws" that  can be enacted to make America safer from Gun violence. Universal Background checks -  closing loopholes for gun shows and private sales. Everyone - gets a background check. Persons on Terrorist Watch lists should be restricted. And yes, it is time to role back the massive amount of guns on persons out in public. We don't need millions of guns in the public sector on a daily  basis. Of of  persons with proper training and registration are going to carry they should be required to carry special liability insurance to cover  against loss of  life of  quality of  life in an accident.  You and your  family . should not  be at rick by someone who accidentally discharges a gun and kills or seriously injurers to the point that the victim and his/her family  has enormous medical bills and loss of  income and the person responsible has no viable means on their own to be held liable. 

We also need to say no to military style weapons in civil society as well as large capacity ammo drums or  clips. 

I've heard people say that  owning guns is a God given right - and say it with a straight face. I don't recall anything about it in the bible. I have had people tell me that  the U.S. Constitution was the word of  god. I believe that is a stretch. But to the point of the 2nd Amendment, the federal courts have clearly  indicated that this does not  preclude the state from making exceptions to ownership rights. Clearly  there was a day  when governments - federal, state, and local took the position that less guns strapped on a persons waist  in  public was prudent. We've had a taste of the opposite now and it is a bitter poison. 

Monday, July 04, 2016

We Are America....

Sometimes I think about the difference between being American by birth and American by choice. Being American by birth I can only imagine what it is like to come to this place in life by choice.  The closest example i can identify with would maybe to be a convert to a religion that was not your of your family and upbringing. It must mean seeing something  that may not be obvious to those who reached this point by birth.

However we have come to be American, it's important to realize we are all equal in our American Nationality. One way or the other, unless we are American Indians, we have roots to somewhere else. Maybe by way of our parents, grandparents, their  parents or even further back, but we are a nation of great diversity and I believe that is one of the great strengths of this country. The American experience is multi-cultural, and that  can only  enrich us all.

Happy & Safe 4th of July!






Thursday, June 23, 2016

2016 Poet Crush List Six-Pack

In 2011 I decided to compile a list of poets that were at the time prime on my list people doing excitable work. I believe that first year I had a list of 10 such poets. Six of the ten were poets I had heard read in person. Eight of them I owned books they had written. But all of these poets were people that  I would from time to time revisit their work.

Each year since then, (except 2014) I have revisited the poets that were getting my attention. Over the years there have been numerous that  were close to making my list but last year last year I shortened the list from 10 to a Crush List Six Pack. Of course that  doesn't make the decision easier, but perhaps the choices more significant.

There are some that have been held over from year to year and with good reason.  Kelli Russell Agodon  is an example of a repeat for several years Her writing  and energy has been especially inspiring and I have three of her books each of which I revisit from time to time and her most recent one, quite often.  You can see the 2015 list linked here.

And so, now I give you my 2016 Poetry Crush List. Again, a Six-Pack. And there are in not particular order of significance.

1. Marie Howe - author of three poetry books the most recent The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, a book that I have read and found a great deal of kinship with. Howe grew up in a Catholic family and Catholicism culturally informs her work. I read a number of interviews of her and was enthralled with her interview by Krista Tippett on the podcast On Being. I've noted with interest books that have won contests judged by Ms. Howe, It seems that  I generally  enjoy the same kinds of writing that  she finds worthwhile.

2. Richard Siken - author of  Crush and War of the Foxes. I've read both of these books. Crush I felt was the bolder of the two but  War of the Foxes has it's points.  Siken impresses me because he can deal well with the abstract and I'd like to feel I could write with courage that his work exudes. Ah, maybe someday...

3. Rachel Mennies - author of The Glad Hand of God Points Backward. Much the same way I am intrigued by the Catholic culture that  can be found in  Marie Howe's The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, I am fascinated at the impact of Judaism in Rachel's book. Perhaps even more that  Howe, she has woven this deeply into this collection of poems. Jewish culture is less familiar to me, but I find it's imprint on her work appealing. That said, I've read a number of her poems aside from the book and have enjoyed the versatility she demonstrates. Some examples:

As an interesting sidelight, I discovered Rachel by way of an advertisement in the Writer's Chronicle. They had a full page ad with her picture saying that she was one of the volunteer mentors that participated in the AWP's relatively new mentor-ship program. I had applied for the program but was not accepted that  round. When I saw the ad however, I googled her  to find out more about her  work out of curiosity to see what kind of experience such a volunteer might bring to  the AWP program. Needless to say I was impressed with what I saw, realizing  someone surely had a most positive mentoring experience. And me, I found another  really  cool poet and that isn't  half bad. 

4. Shaindel Beers - author of two poetry collections - The Children's War and A Brief History of TimeI've had the opportunity to read both of these books. Children's War was an impressive project and a read that will touch you in a very raw way. History of Time is both simple and eloquent in it's frankness.  I've observed recently that  Ms. Beers has been having a hayday with new work croppping up all over the place. An energy you have to admire of any poet. Maybe, just maybe I can learn something from her work ethic. 

5. Michael Schmeltzer - author of Elegy/Elk River and Blood Song.  I read both of these books this year and I couldn't put either down till I finished. Schmeltzer collections are both very lyrical and gripping. Blood Song was published by Two Sylvias Press (an Agodon connection) and this was a super sweet book for them to have a part in. Looking forward to more from Schmeltzer.

6. Suzanne Frischkorn - author of Lit Windowpane, Girl on a Bridge and Red Paper Flower. Of these, I have read Red Paper Flower. This book was funny and hard hitting at the same time. I desperately wanted to read more when I finished. I'm assuming  Girl on a Bridge is also out of print. On Amazon you can find copies priced between $146 and $374. Ouch. But seriously I keep hopeful that we will see some more work from poet soon. Real soon!  UPDATED NOTE: Jan. 2017 - I have been informed by Suzanne that  Lit Windowpane and Girl on a Bridge at Main Street Rag Online Bookstore. I have added the links in the titles in the original post. I will be ordering these myself. 





Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Love & Kindness Edition

It has been too much tragedy & two weeks since my last confession.

Please follow me to the confessional....

Dear Reader,

Where do you start when you don't know what to say? What do you say when basically anything said is not adequate? It's especially hard to think about yourself at a time like this. To think about  what your  last two weeks have been like. What has gone wrong or what has gone right.

I didn't  personally know any who died in the Orlando shooting. At lease I don't believe I did. But everyone whose life was snuffed out, every person who was wounded by bullets, and everyone across this country whose heart was wounded by loss from the mass shooting has no doubt  been profoundly impacted by the events. Indeed this nation grieves. We grieve once again for the senseless loss of  lives by weapons that have no place in a civil society aside from the military.

The one thing I try to think about as I reflect upon the past two weeks is love. Who have I shown love to? What stranger  have I smiled at? What doors have I held open? Who have I gone out of my way to help?

I also feel compelled to think about the exact opposite of love... hate. Have I really truly hated anyone? Sadly, the answer to this is honestly  yes. I don't  want to hate someone. I can rationalize perhaps why they may be unworthy of love. But hate, hate is a powerful poison. The funny thing (which is not really funny at all) is that  most people that I hate are so remote that they don't  really know who I am, much less that I actually hate them. And clearly one in particular, really exhibits by action a good deal of hate by their own right.

I suppose it  is easy to rationalize that because one person does hateful things that  it is justifiable to  hate them back. It is truly easy to see that hate begets hate.

As much as I have decided I need to work on saying things that exemplify hate (and I have been guilty of this) I have also thought  that  for those out there that fall into that  void somewhere between the two extremes, I need to be more open to just being a person who can share a smile, extend a greeting. Look for loving acts of kindness without  regard for who these people are.

Life is short. We don't generally know expiration date. Our examples of kindness may be the last thing someone recalls.

I confess that there are things we as citizens can do about the issues of gun violence. And these are things that we should do.This is a fight we all need to wage for the sake of our future, our  children and grandchildren. I have done some of these things in the past and I will continue.

I confess that I see that we all need more kindness. Everywhere!  Kindness at home, at school, at work, on the street corner, while driving, I confess that I have a role to play in introducing  more kindness to others.

I confess that these past two weeks I've had some positive things happen. There is the Paul Simon Concert at Starlight, and the Poem of mine appearing in The Best of Boston Literary Magazine, but it's just hard to focus on anything else.

Peace, Love, and Kindness

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Honored to Have A poem in The Best of Boston Literary Magazine - Vol 1


Boston Literary Magazine is just released Vol 1 of  their Best Of  Boston Literary Magazine for over the last  decade. BLM has published several of my poems over the years and I am excited that  this Best Of Collection contains one of my previously published works, a poem titled Toy Soldiers..

There are some really cool work in this book. Great Job by Robin Stratton

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Neon Lights Edition


It's been one Democratic Congressional District Presidential Caucus, one poetry reading at the Neon Gallery, one finished diary and another one started, a double platelet & red cell donation, and several full skies of rain  falling in our part of the world since my last confession 6 weeks ago.

To the confessional....

Dear Reader:

The rain has stopped. Our lawn has been mowed. I can hear the grass growing  again already.

I confess six weeks is a long time between confessions. I guess that makes me a fallen-away blogger returning to the fold or something like that.  I could say I will try to do better, bet we all know better. The fact is that  I tend to be more selective about saying something  in my  blog than in the early days. Maybe I'm getting wiser and figure no one really cares, but who knows.

On  Friday, May 29th  I had a reading at the Neon Gallery that was sponsored by the Writers Place. The Neon event is a quarterly music, poetry and art event at a downtown Kansas City location. I've attended many of these, but  I confess this was the first one in which I was on the program. The Neon reading was really good. Those that missed it, well, they missed some good music, some really cool art, and well the readings were great. I confess I'd even rate my own as pretty damn good and I tend to be my harshest critic.  The poet Pat Daneman (who I had never heard before) was magnificent. Sara Nicole Glass AKA Miss Conception both sang and shared poetry. While I've heard her before, she has a couple of pieces that really resonated with me. I confess that each time I hear the River Cow Orchestra I think I enjoy them more. Bob Savino was quite animated, but then when isn't he.  The evening was closed out with music by Rick Malsick.  This event is sponsored by the Writers Place and I was honored to read with the other talented artists.

I've said it before and it's worth repeating. As someone who journals on a regular basis I always love the feeling when I complete one journal and replace the leather binder with a fresh new one. I confess that I am not sure, but I belief it must be the starting over with clean pages that gets my emotions flowing.

When donating  platelets at the Community Blood Center recently I was asked to do a double platelet and red cell donation. I've done double platelets before - my count is always high and they  love to be able to double down. I've never done red cell at the same time. I confess that I spent that whole day really drained. I'm usually a wee bit sluggish after the platelets but this was way worse. I confess I may not feel I can do that much again. Probably just the platelets and maybe back off the red cells. It's really a beneficial thing to do and I would always encourage those who can, donate blood and or platelets whenever possible.

I did a lot of writing this past weekend and it's tugging at my heartstrings again tonight, so I'm off to see what I can put together.

Until next time, be yourself. No one does it better than you!






Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Confession Tuesday - why am I doing this edition?

Dear Reader,

It's been one new poetry book, and a week since my last confession.

I confess that I am tired tonight and I'd rather not be confessing. Mostly because it's late and I'm tired.

I've been glued for the most part to the primary election returns from five states. DEL, CONN, RI, MD, and PENN. I was hopeful that Hillary would sweep all five but figured we had four in the bag. RI was up in the air and in the end it was the only one of the five that Hillary lost. Not a bad night at all, and it really makes the math for Bernie Sanders really insurmountable.

I was excited to get a new poetry book in the mail this week. "A Brief History of Time" by Shaindel Beers. Getting poetry in the mail is such a rush. I confess that it never grows old.

We have a storm going on presently. The dogs are unnerved by it, especially Soles. In some ways we are really making progress with him, but I confess I wish I felt he was less impacted by anxiety.

That's all for this week. May the muse be with you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Confession Tuesday - A Time Out Tonight

Dear Reader:

It’s been a week of writing and rewriting, but now it’s confessing time. On to the confessional.

Reader, I confess that I am taking a break from writing tonight.  I am planning to be immersed in the New York Democratic Primary returns. I’ve spent a lot of this during this past week cranking out material, much of it  has some promise – with additional work, but tonight I put all that aside.

My expectations for tonight are a Hillary win in New York. I anticipate her margin will be somewhere between a 9 and 14 point spread. Of course I can hope for more J   I will follow the returns on MSNBC as the usually have the best coverage.  I was invited to a party to watch the returns but I decided to pass on it and stay home.

For some time now I have been using the Poet Tarot Cards by Two Sylvias
Press as a spark for my creative process. For a while I blogged elsewhere on this weekly but after over a year I stopped the blog. Sunday I pulled the T. S. Eliot card from the deck.  Yes, Eliot, the key keeper of language is to be my guide this week.  I don’t think of Eliot as being a prolific writer. Rather I consider him a rather picky craftsman.  Kind of the was Elizabeth Bishop was – wanting “perfect poems” before they could be published.  I confess that at times I become impatient with the process. Drawing this card reminds me of the value poets like Eliot and Bishop placed in patience.  If I were looking for a characteristic that I could perhaps learn as a result of the King of Quills – Eliot tarot card it would perhaps be allowing myself more patience.  This is not always easy. I confess that I am often driven in my anxiousness around my writing by the fact that I did not start writing until late in life and I always feel the clock of life ticking away.


Until next time, may the Muse be with you….

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Sharks are People Too - Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been two readings since my last confession. First I drove to Lawrence, Kansas to hear Ada Limon, Adam Clay, and Michael Robins read on the KU campus. I admit It would have been simpler if they had been in Kansas City, but sometimes you just have to go where good poetry is.

I mostly went to hear Ada. I first became aware of here sometime back from a podcast done on NPR and I hear her poem Sharks are in the River.  More recently Ada published her book Bright Dead Things. The title pulled me into it like a magnet and I got a signed copy from her before it was shortlisted for a National Book Award for Poetry. I am not surprised that it received such acclaim as it is very deserving.

I must confess that the reading  had the bonus of introducing me to two other very outstanding poets. Both Adam Clay and Michael Robins resonated well with me.

The three poets took turns reading a poem each and usually selected something to read riffing of the poet before. I didn't think I would like this method at first but it added an interesting dimension as each looked for a poem in response to the one read before.

I was indeed fortunate to attend this reading and the drive was well worth it.  In addition, I picked up a copy of Ada's earlier book, Sharks are in the River.

Sunday afternoon, I attended a reading of some of the poets with work in the 10th Anniversary issue of Kansas City Metro Verse's anthology. The even was very nicely put together and everyone seemed to enjoy the event.

Until next time, the Muse be with you!


Sunday, March 27, 2016

From my reading tonight...

The little toy wife

Erased, sigh, sigh.

Four babies and a cocker.

Sylvia Plath - Amnesic 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Lent and AWP Attended and Not Attending

Dear Reader:

It's been three published poems, untold new drafts, numerous presidential primary late nights, one vote for Hillary, another step towards normalization of relations with Cuba, too many people and groups insulted by Donald Trump to count, even more Trump lies, and  roughly one month since my last confession.

If you care to join me,.... to the Confessional.

I confess that  while it is Lent, and while I am Catholic, I have hardly been a good Lenten Catholic. That is to say that I have not really zeroed in on the real purpose of Lent this year and I am truly feeling guilty about it. But hey, isn't guilt what we Catholics are all about? I've given up nothing         (unless you count giving up something for Lent). I have not been especially reflective (except to reflect on my failed Lent) though I can say that I have on many occasions tried to approach the season with a smile extended to others and go out of my way at times to be helpful where nothing was expected of me. I suppose that note worthy in my reflection. Perhaps in this remaining period of time till Easter I can make some positive faith directed efforts.

Tonight, as I sat down to do this confession I have a giant headache going on upstairs. I've taken some aspirin in hopes of lessening the pounding going on. I think it may be starting to subside.

About this time a year ago I had come of a trip to AWP15 in Minneapolis. It was my first such trip to the conference and I came home with a mixture of emotion.  I was both tired and energized. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. I had a great time, I learned a great deal, I met a few people I only knew through social media. I met some of my favorite poets. I missed a few I wanted to see. It was an incredible experience.  I came home with many new books,  I was exposed to journals that were new to me. Collected some cool swag, and great memories.

As much as I would like to go to this years conference (just over a week away) I confess that I will be right here at home. Presently I am starting to feel a let down of sorts; knowing that so much will be going on and I will not be a part of it is not only disappointing but depressing as well. Some people I missed last year are going this year and I won't be able to see them. There will be no neat swag to croon over. None of the kick-ass buttons, And most of all, I will not be able to fret over choosing between 112 panels that I want to see that conflict with others I want to see.

I can half-way joke about some of this today. but I know that as it gets closer to the start of AWP16, and the tweets and Facebook activity starts, it will be impossible to ignore what I am missing.

We all mostly write in a void. For all the negatives associated with Facebook and Twitter (or any social media) they unite us in some context and bring us together as does the AWP conference.  So it will be impossible to ignore what I am missing - even as I am missing it.

Till next time, may the Muse be with you!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Getting Organized Edition

Bullet Journal




Dear Reader:

It has been two weeks since my last confession. Two weeks of way too much Donald Trump exposure. Please make him go away! The culmination of a long wait to learn if I was accepted for a program I applied for. And not a period of questioning myself.

To the Confessional, let us begin...

It is Lent and I've not been a very good Lenten observer thus far. I usually think in advance what I see my self doing and not doing over Lent and how it might make me a better person. I really fell down this year. I think Lent coming so early in the year, it was like it sneaked up one me.  I confess that is the best argument I have and I'm sticking with it. I my defense, for other reasons I was very prayerful over the last few weeks, but not on account of lent. So there has been a spiritual dimension to my recent life. I could tell you that I am going to give this up or that up for the rest of Lent but I won;t go there. I am not going to make any such promises. I will however remain prayerful for others and their various difficulties this time of year.

The presidential election is in full swing and I am tired of Donald Trump. I confess it would not matter if we were not in the midst of the campaign season. I find his verbiage to be counter productive to the health of our democracy. I find him thoughtless, rude, disrespectful, bullying, racially inflammatory and that is just the start. If I keep on I'll still be writing about this in time for next weeks confession. I want it to stop. I want him to stop. Alas I am powerless to end his rhetoric, and I acknowledged this and move on.

I have been a basket case for some weeks now awaiting word on a program I applied for (related to writing) and I have heard that I was not chosen.  This is my third attempt and  I have been told in the past that  my application and work made it to consideration and have been encouraged to reapply.  I want in this program so badly and I have to say that each time the wait is excruciating.  The aftermath is disappointing. I confess that it makes no sense but  upon learning again that  I missed getting selected I basically wanted to just stop writing. Then I wanted to just stop submitting work, just write and throw it in a drawer or something like that. I cannot stop writing, it's too much a part of who I am. But I could maybe decide to just decide to write for myself and nothing more.

I confess that  every once and a while there is something that causes me to question why I should be writing. It's happened numerous times. Usually it is because I'm in a funk and haven't written anything promising in a while. But this is different. I actually  had pulled out of a writing  slump and was going well. I just saw this as a real opportunity to grow even more and learn from the experience.

As a Capricorn I tend to want to be organized. I confess that I am well aware that there is a difference between craving organization and living it.  At work I have used a Franklin Planner System for maybe 20 years or more. Recently I've been exposed to the Bullet Journal and I have now tinkered with it for two months. I am starting to feel more comfortable with it. So much so, that  I've ordered on of the specific Bullet Journals this past week as they became available again. I had been using my own makeshift one, but starting win March I will begin to use the new journal.

In my mailbox this evening was the March/April edition of The Writer's Chronicle. I believe I will wrap this confession up for the night and read a bit in it - the finish off the evening  writing.

Till next time,

The Muse be with you!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Confession Tuesday in Neon

Dear Reader:

It's been one widow upgrade (actually two), and a week since my last confession.

I dislike upgrades. I confess I'm not really fond of IT people either. It's nothing personal, it's just that....  well, did you ever read Who Moved My Cheese?  Yeah,  my computer, be it at home or work is like my cheese and you don;t want to move it.

So this past weekend I took mo mother's laptop and upgraded it to Windows 10.  I also upgraded my 8.1 to 10. I never liked 8 anyway so there was that incentive to change. I mean I had become used to it and I mostly was concerned about losing shit in the shift but everything went okay. I confess that no computers or people were harmed in the process.

I've written some poems this week. By that I mean that I have taken pen & paper or in some instances laptop and composed drafts that survived on their own. They remain rough but they are not on life support. They are kinds of making it on their own merit. After rewrites they will be released into the world to hopefully find a home of their own.  I confess this is important because sometimes I get in a funk and the screwy notion gets into my head that I have written my last poem. That I will never ever be able to make one work again. I thought this must be a unique feeling but I recall reading an autobiography of Randall Jarrell in which his wife talked about him reaching such a point. So i guess unique? Not so much.

I feel like there are three neon lights that keep blinking inside my head. One is something writing related I have applied for. One is Spring Training. And the third is Valentines Day.  So I confess that these items are distractions. If you see me and I look like I'm in another world altogether, I'm probably just getting high on neon lights.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Messenger Bag Edition

It's been one long night of watching the first Presidential Caucus, one GOP debate without Trump, one month ending and another month beginning, one poetry submission acceptance that I totally missed for months, and two weeks since my last confession.  To the Confessional...

Dear Reader:

My mood these past two weeks has been about like the stock market. If you've followed it, it's been up one day, down another. If you haven't followed it, well it's been the same.

So the other night I realized that I had a poem accepted last year that appeared in Nude Bruce Journal (see blog post yesterday) and this was an up and down event in one. I was excited when I learned that it had made it into print, bummed that I had somehow missed the notification and did not get to realize it at the time it was happening. All and all it still was better than not having a poem accepted.

I also had a rejection last week. That wasn't all that bad of a thing because I always figure that I have to have a few rejections for every acceptance.  Just a part of the project.

Finished two new poems last week. Felt good about that. I've not  written as much as I should have last week but evidently it was enough to get some good results.

I had a poet visit me in a dream the other night. That has not happened to me in a while, I wish it were more common.

I've feel like I've been hammered by some pretty ugly  social media stuff from a few Bernie Sanders supporters.This negative stuff is messing with my overall attitude.  I don't mind people expressing their support for a candidate other than mine, but there has been some pretty crappy hype on Facebook and Twitter including a lot of out and out lies. These people are doing no favors for Bernie. I've followed him for several years now and I don;t think he'd approve of some of the stuff from some of his supporters. I think he is more classy than that.

Finished a book by Rachel Mennies and it has gone on to my pile of books to review. The only thing it seems larger than the pile of books to review is the pile of ones I still want to read.

I got a new leather messenger bag for my birthday and it is pretty cool. I'm trying to compartmentalize what I carry around with me and try and lessen the load. This bag is going a long way to helping with this. This makes me happy,

I'm stumbling around on a chapbook project that is causing me some consternation. I'm kind of counting on some mental breakthrough on a specific poem that is a part of the project.  Looking for some good Karma here....

That's it for this Tuesday.  Stay safe and come back next week.!


Monday, February 01, 2016

An Accepted Poem, and I Missed It... Go Figure


So I went to Submittable last night to check on something and discovered quite by accident that  one of three poems I had submitted to Nude Bruce Review last year (yes, I said Nude Bruce)  was actually accepted in August. Woot!

I feel like a fool for missing it. I don't usually check Submittable for results, instead watch my e-mail. This reply went to an old email address that I am you using for writing related stuff any more.

The poem titled Without You is located on page 86  of the Spring Issue or Issue 5 CLICK HERE and scroll to the page.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Neon Gallery Friday Night - January 29th 7:00PM

The Writers Place monthly Neon Gallery event is this Friday night and features Poetry, Art, & Music! Rick Malsick hosts & plays with musical guests River Cow Orchestra and Street Corner Choir. Poets from The Writers Place reading will be Wayne Courtois, Jen Harris, Pat Lawson, and Phyllis Becker.There will be art by The Visual Arts Group and Thomas Cobian, The Neon Warrior. This is a free event – all tips go to support The Writer’s Place. Bring a snack or dessert for the table (BASFTT). And definitely BYOB. This is a great way to spend the evening with friends. Everyone is welcome. Come to enjoy art, poetry, and music.

Location: 1921 E. Truman Rd. Kansas City, MO 64127   7PM to 10PM

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Centimeters to Inches Edition

Dear Reader:

I am a few weeks past due for my Tuesday Confession and I hope the great great one above will forgive me, as well as you.

I have a number of things to get of my chest tonight. I guess when you stretch your confessions out, your chest can get quite weighted.  Where do I start...

I will admit that I was hopeful that I could be more patient this year. It may come to pass, but I confess this weekend my patience caught a bus to someplace else and didn't say goodbye.

For roughly 12 years now I have had all my pharmacy Rx's filled at a certain Target Pharmacy. They recently were sold out to CVS even though they remain in inside the Target property. Some of the staff remains and some of the staff is new. For a third time now I have had problems with them getting my prescriptions from my doctors on file.  It reached a point this weekend that I called their corporate office to complain. One of the new people was having none of the possibility it could be a problem on there end in spite of the fact that it has happened three time and one from a doctor at another location. It's no excuse but I had been sick all last week and my patience was like a fuse the size of a pin head.

But now my dear friends, there is snow here. Right here in River City....  I know it's winter. I know this winter has been mild for us. I know I have no right to expect it to be Bermuda shorts weather, but I confess I am annoyed. Yeah, That's what we'll call it.

My birthday was this month. Yeah! (doing an improvisational Capricorn dance here) I had a men's shoulder bad coming as a present. It was one that I would carry my tablet, my blood glucose monitor, and my Journal (that goes everywhere) and the box was on the from porch when I arrived shivering with cold and excitement tonight. Alas, I confess that I was disappointing upon opening the package as the nice leather bag would not even hold my tablet.  My wife, my daughter and myself all looked at the online specs on it before it was ordered and it swore the dimensions were in inches.  On closer review we realized they strung all them together and what looked like measurements in inches were actually cm. and inches incorporated together. Very confusing. Well, at least three of us saw the same thing and misread it. So that's going back and the hunt will begin again for the perfect bag. All of us a little wiser for the experience.

I generally think of the new year as a time of hope. Same was I do opening day for baseball. Everything seems imaginable if not probable. I have submitted an application for a mentoring program for a third time this month. The two previous times I made first cut but was not chosen and so I am hear again feeling the same agony all over awaiting to hear the results. I confess this is something that really means a lot to me, Still, I know there are many others who want and surly deserve the same opportunity. There is a limited number of people available and I have never really mentioned this in the past on my blog other than in some vague terms that would not likely have been understood for what it was. I mention it today because I am teetering on this teeter-totter trying to stay up and all the time realizing someone could hop down on the other end and I'd once again come crashing down shattering hope again.

I guess that's what we writers do though. fall down six times get up seven. The submission and rejection process is all a part of the territory. And I've learned well enough over the years that to get an acceptance of a poem, I have to be willing to be rejected multiple times. I handle that pretty well. But this, this is different. This is an opportunity to learn and grow with the help of a mentor who has gained important experience in this art.

On an upbeat note, I receive a new poetry book in the mail to read today. I confess there may be things better than getting a new poetry book, but none are coming to mind presently.  Anyway, the book is by the poet Rachel Mennies. I discovered some of her work on line a few months ago and the more poems of hers that I read the more her work resonated with me.  So, the Glad Hand of God Points Backwards (pictured above right) is awaiting my reading tonight. That, and I still have some rewrites to work on.  With that in mind I bid you farewell for now. May the rest of your week be upbeat, stay safe and take a smile for good luck!

Amen

Friday, January 01, 2016

2016 - The Year of The Poet.

Dear reader:

Honestly this past year seems to have flown by. They do that as we get older.  I remember as a child, as soon as Christmas was over I was thinking futuristically ahead to the following Christmas and it seemed like light-years away. I would consider what it would be like that morning. Would it be a white Christmas?  What presents would I get? What would I even be wishing for a year down the road.

New Year's is often a mixture of emotions and I is hard to quantify if the year ending was all that bad. Do I wish to shake it's dust from my feet or will I shed a tear of sadness for it passing? More often than not it will be some combination of these two.

Perhaps the highest point in 2015 for me was attending AWP 15 in Minneapolis. And yet I wish I could do it over. There were people I missed that I did not realize were there until I was back home. I think I would not have been quite the wall flower I was. It's not that I did not interact with people, but I could have done better. But then no matter what we are doing, isn't it true that we could always do a little better at something?

The big change for me in 2015 over the previous years is that I did not have near the success with publishing work. I would blame it on these three things:

  1. I did not submit nearly as much as in 2014
  2. I raised my bar on who I submitted to. I didn't just want acceptances in easy venues. I told myself to submit to places that I would like to see my work along side the normal material in a give journal. 
  3. I was running out of submittable work. The material I had available to select from was poems that had been around for some time and had failed to be snatched up after numerous submissions. This of course put pressure on me to produce more work, better work, and to do so quickly (not the best way to write) and therefor I put more emphasis on writing and less on the weekly submissions that I was in the habit of doing. 
But the year 2015 had other positive aspects. I felt a little bolder about creativity. I still have not moved the needle quite far enough, but I realize that until I face my fears and get over some hangups I am not going to write that poem that people want to read. I've got to take the risks.

I was discouraged in 2015 that I did not make it into a mentoring program I had applied for though I was told it was a tough choice between myself and another individual. I was also told they would try and match me up again this year. Hope can be a thing to hold on to, but it can lead to more disappointments. No matter what happens this year I have to trudge ahead making my own way.

Some thoughts on 2016:

  • Expect right now it is going to seem like in the end it went fast. Don't waste time.
  • I am experimenting with a bullet journal for planning. Having used a Franklin Planner for years at work the concept is not going to be too difficult to grasp.
  • I want to look for more opportunities to engage with others. Stop trying to write in a vacuum. 
  • I plan to take more walks this year. I hear it's good for creativity.
  • Read more.... I  have a goal of reading 40 books in 2016.
  • I have several projects I am working on but I have in the past week visualized yet another. A themed chapbook that will be in the range of 20 poems and I believe it is an attainable goal to complete this project during 2016 (while continuing to work on others)
  • I've already mentioned reading - I need to write more as well. Daily journaling as well as creative writing (as in poems) Free-writes, poem drafts, and finally nailing down the completed poem. 
  • I plan to get back into the routine habit of submitting work regularly - though still keeping the bar high. 
I won't close this post without acknowledging that I have the greatest family. My wife and four children are very supportive, They may not be big poetry fans but they recognize the importance it plays in my life. 

I'd like to believe that 2016 is the year of the Poet. That said my tag line for the year will be Peace & Poetry!  From my vantage point the world could use both!