Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Honoring the Light and Love in You

Friday, July 26, 2019

My Summer Witting Playlist on Spotify

Rx for Writing:

Coffee or Wine (depending on the time of day)  


Monday, July 22, 2019

Assimilation of Yoga , Writing, and Life in General

I am trying to achieve some assimilation of yoga into my daily living, and into my writing. 

Yoga takes discipline for starters. This is something that would likely help across many areas of my life. 

The byproduct contributing to a calming or peaceful presence that allows for a more meditative state of being; where yesterday and tomorrow are pushed aside to make way for being in the present. That is where we can find ourselves, stripped down of the weighted anxieties that we tend to carry. 

I'm not able to say that I have my meditative practice perfect. Still, I believe that I am becoming more receptive that inner silence and where that might lead. It seems kind of like nibbling on a cracker when wine tasting. A way to clear the pallet for the next new taste.  In this way, I can be receptive to the experience of new ways of bringing fresh material to the page. 

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Poem finds Home Edition

Dear Reader: 

It's Tuesday once again. A weekly occurrence and while my Confession should be weekly as well, I sometimes fail. Hey, I'm human!

On the way into the office this morning I was looking at the sky and reflected on the color variations and thought I should write something about this. But I didn't.  I'm not sure that I had anything remarkable to say about it, but I really didn't try and that is precisely what I want to talk about. 

In recent times I have thought about writing, mine at that of others. I've also thought about those who don't as a rule sit and commit ink to a page. I think sometime in the recent past (though I can't pinpoint exactly when or what caused me to think about this, it occurred to me that everyone has a story to tell. I've heard that said before but I never really thought it was meant for me. I always think when you are telling a story that you are making something up - something fictional or you are relating an actual event that you are sharing with others. I don't know why, but I never really accepted the fact that poets had stories to tell. 

I think of world travelers with unique experiences having stories to tell. Or, persons who have survived some illness or torture, or with some remarkable life discovery having a story to tell. I think it all boils down to is this a story worthy of being heard? Sometimes I think about memoirs that I have read that had very dysfunctional people in them. I think about what caused me to consider such a story worthy of being told, of being read.  I don't think we always can know what another will be interested in, but if we write, and write with a creative flair that makes what we say interesting.  Sylvia Plath used to say that everything was writable. 

What I wonder today, is what stories that are waiting to be told at our southern border? What stories need to be told? Who will step up and fill this need? I confess that I think about this and it troubles me.  [long pause for reflection here]

On another note, One of my orphan poems went out into the world this spring and has found a home. I pleased to share with you this poem that just came out yesterday in the Remington Revied - Summer Edition.  

Keep[ing It] Going

I throw another log on the fire.
I have one left that I am saving—

Alone; I keep practicing.
One day I may get it.

Tolstoy said The strongest of
all warriors are these two—
Time and Patience.

I know if you were here
you would applaud, well done!

And maybe I am better,
but you were kind
and always saw something
fly outside the picture frame.

You had the eyes—
they were plugged into your heart,
a strong heart. A sharing heart
that sometimes would pump
for both of us.

This log has been burning all night
now. It shows no sign of extinguishing

itself. My practice continues.

May you all have a safe and enjoyable week ahead. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Chinese PEN Center reprints Tiananmen Mother

The Independent Chinese PEN Center republished my poem Tiananmen Mother on its site. I feel honored.

A Little Slice of Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader: 

I know it's Thursday and I have missed the customary Tuesday Concession.  (hanging  head low)  I hope you will accept this late and tiny slice of my recent life.  It's been a week and 3 days since my last confession. 

It's also been one debate of 10 Democratic candidates for president last night  (another one with 10 more will be held tonight. It's been a Father's day since my last confession, and it has been a jumbling of many books that I am reading at the same time. (That's how everyone reads, right?) 

Summer is officially here and we have colorful plants blooming to show for it.  Cathy gets truly excited with plants in summer. I think she gets that from her grandmother - who was affectionately known as granny. When I leave in the morning or when I come home in the evening I am greeted by colorful unfolding nature before my eyes. I confess I love this. I love knowing that she loves gardening with flowers too.  By the way, we have tomatoes on our tomato plants (our one cash crop). 

I had a rejection of poems in a contest since my last confession.  I don't often dwell on rejections. I am sure this was a form one too. But it did happen to be the same place that  I once received a form rejection with a handwritten note that said,  "you were close."  But, I digress, the part of this rejection that caught my fancy was as follows... "We strongly believe that a poem's value is not determined by its publication, or by the selection or non-selection by a limited group of readers. The editors urge you to wholeheartedly reject this rejection, and send these poems out again and write some new poems, and sent them out too."  I confess this made me smile. 

Watching the Democratic candidates debate on the first night, left me feeling a little empty. Of what I saw I was most impressed with Senator Tulsi Gabbard, Julian Castro, and Cory Booker. Elizabeth Warren after a strong initial exchange sort of went to sleep. What she said was pretty much her normal stump speech I've heard countless times. The only negative was that she took a position on health care that would be unattainable as the way the laws are written now, hospitals would have to close their doors over authorized payment amounts. I suspect she would ultimately look for a fix for this but it did seem like a big gaff.  No one shined. I expect the bar will be higher tonight. 

Another confession, I am working on my annual Poet Crush list. (link to last year) It should be out this month, but I have read so much this past year, I am having to do a fair amount of weighing those being considered to keep it at 6. Hopefully sometime in July? Maybe, Hopefully. 

That's it for today~

Be safe and of much joy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Confession Tuesday - One Less Orphan Poem.

Dear Reader: It's been a relatively normal week of weather since my last confession Little bit of rain but mostly nice sunny and comfortable temperatures. So close to normal it's almost scary.

I received good news on Monday. Another orphan poem of mine found a home. Picked up by Remington Review. This is the third time they have taken one of my submissions. It almost feels like family. I lover their format. They always put together a nice issue. So the new poem will be in the Summer edition.

I confess that I feel like I need to be a bit of a hustler. Hurry and get more work submitted. I try to balance writing time with administrative things, like submissions, notes, and reading. I need to learn to transition from one to the other better. It's like yoga for me as a newbie-  Learning the individual poses is one thing. It's another whole challenge to learn to smoothly flow from one position into another and another. I confess that when I have an acceptance or rejection I always feel the need to immediately make sure I have more work out there. There was a time when I had a lot of poems floating around between various venues but as I work harder to satisfy myself with each poem, the time spent increasing  my vault (so to speak) of material that is available means I am adding to it at a slower pace and therefore feel the pressure to increase material available for submission. 

The news of a hung jury in the Scott Warren case was reported yesterday. I confess that while it was a hung jury 8 to 4 for acquittal, It is a reassuring statement on humanity. 

That's it for this week's confession. Be safe and live on the edge. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

I Interrupt Confession Tuesday to Remember Tiananmen Square 30 Years Ago

Thirty years ago a young man stood in defiance of Chinese tanks at Tiananmen Squair. The photo of this single person in street clothing and clutching two shopping bags, standing face to face with a tank, is widely recognized and associated with the student freedom movement. The man and the massive machines of war catapulted itself to become an icon seen around the world.   It was June 5th, 1989 when "Tank Man" was photographed in the aftermath of a deadly government crackdown to clear Tiananmen of young protesters. 

At home, however, China was attempted to scrub this image from the public minds. They once used it to demonstrate their need to use force, but the picture hardly served that purpose well.  Generations of Chinese youth have been largely sheltered from this picture and the deadly government actions 30 years ago. 

In 2005 I wrote a poem the poem that follows -  Tiananmen Mother  - dedicating it to a Communist Party official that broke with the government and tried to warn the protesters of the coming violence. As has been the case with others, he was ostracized.  Beyond that, I believe the poem speaks for itself. 

Tiananmen Mother

for Zhao Ziyang

The Beijing breeze whispers
mournful strophes.
Tears like the mountain rains
follow slopes

to tributaries until they become one
with the rippling waters of the Yangtze.

I am a Tiananmen mother.
My eyes have swelled
with this sadness before.
The wetness follows a path
well rehearsed.

My nights are immense.
I am but a lone bare branch
in a cold, dark world.

They replicate
that June night
etched in my soul
over and over.

My son stood
in the Square
armed only
with a vision
and they came-
The People's Army.

My son stood
in Tiananmen Square,
amid a sea of other
sons and daughters
and they came-

armored tanks
clanking along the streets into Tiananmen
driven by fear, ordered by paranoia.

Our sons and daughters
toppled to the earth
at their hands.
Crimson crawling into every crevice
Of these ancient Chinese streets
A stain still upon us today.

I cannot count the nights
I've wept for my son since.
Today, I weep for another.

There is no official news
but the Beijing breeze whispers again.
This time for the death of the old man.
There are guards of fear
stationed outside my door.
The lump in my throat is big,
I cannot begin to swallow,
that is how I know the truth.

Guilt always gnawing at my heart.
I could not help my son that June night.
Again as I am helpless.

I want to pay my respects
to the old man who stood up
for my son and others
massacred in Tiananmen,
but the thugs watch
my every move.

I am a Tiananmen mother.
It is my duty to weep
for the lost ones.

© 2005 Michael A. Wells

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Confession Tuesday - If I'm Still Here in the Morning Edition

Dear reader:

It's been a week since my last confession. A week of rain and tornadoes. A week of abysmal baseball by my Sf Giants. (I still claim them as my team0 A whole lot of rewriting on my part and Submissions over the weekend.

Reader, we have tornado weather here in the Midwest again for like the 13th day. I confess that I believe this is what climate change looks like to us. Bigger and more frequent tornadoes. I personally am in no imminent danger but parts of our county are under a warning - we are still in the watch mode for now. Most of the shit seems to start on the Kansas side of the state line and comes over here to Missouri. Relying strictly on the literary perspective, I blame the Wicked Witch of the West on these. Having lived in Missouri my whole life I have been used to summers with tornadoes. Sometimes we would have a couple bad days in a row but this has gotten ridiculous. I confess I like tornadoes in literature a lot better than in real life.  I'm praying for those in the path of tonight's tornadoes regardless of where you are. 

A shout out here to poet Victoria Chang! She has been selecting the poems that for this month that are showcased in the Academy of American Poets poem-a-day.  I confess that I have found her selections extremely good reads for me. She has selected work that sometimes has shown innovation, challenged my thought, made me smile or in the alternative mad me sad. It's been an exquisite blend of reading. I must confess that  I would love for her to create my reading list from here on out. Yes, that would be a lazy way to go. You would hear no complaining on this end.

My copy of December 30.1 arrived this weekend and I have dipped into it a bit. I cracked up when I brought the mail in and the wife says, "anything interesting in the mail?' My reply, "Just December in May." Tonight I saw that Ronda Piszk Broatch just heard she has two poems that will appear in the next edition. How cool is that!

I have procrastinated (isn't that what writers do?) for a week now - putting off a review of a book that I need to do. Of all the things I can procrastinate about, writing reviews is right up there high on the list. And yet, I believe it is an important function of writers. Additionally, I always feel excited upon finishing a book and wanting to talk about it. It's that point where the pen and the paper come in that I want to stare off into the galaxy in hope of finding, oh, I don't know what. Maybe motivation?

Does anyone else have a list of journals they'd like to crack into? Who do you want to be published in but have not achieved yet? I mean, besides the New Yorker.

Anyone have a really good poem to recommend, by someone besides a celebrity level poet. Is there such a thing, or did I make that up?  I guess poets like Billy Collins, Sharon Olds (I adore her), Claudia Rankin, Natasha Tretheway, Mary Jo Bank, Marie Howe, Jane Hirshfield, Terrance Hayes, Tracey K. Smith,  Ocean Vuong, Jericho Brown, Louise Gluck, Naomi Shihab Nye.  Yeah, I'm sure I've missed poets that maybe should be on here or you may think some should not be considered celebrity poets. I confess that is always the danger with lists of anything. Including shopping lists.

Enough for tonight! 

Be of good cheer and be safe~

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Clumsy as Newborn Colt Legs - edition

Dear Reader:

There have been four SF Giants wins and 5 losses, scores of rainy days, one mother's day, One Poetry reading, numerous yoga sessions, one Republican Congressman's call for Donald Trump's impeachment, more China tariffs and 12 days since my last confession.

I hope the Rain-god and God are not the same because I confess right now I really want to hurt the rain god. That is all.

I've been reading What You Have Heard is True by Carolyn Forche' is a memoir of Carolyn Forche's journey to El Salvador as a very young woman to witness the struggles and oppression that would bring bitter conflict to the country.

Much about this book is amazing to me. Not the least is the amount of danger that Forche' placed herself in, at first perhaps naively, but there was a point that this had to be so obvious.  I confess that I have come to a realization from reading this book, just how much travel can play a beneficial roll in the life and work of a poet. Forche' is actually very well traveled. and it seems that this has informed so much of her poetry. It doesn't hurt that she writes a lot of witness poetry and her travels have informed her world view and created the ability to count on so much opportunity to tap into her experiences when writing.

I confess to having never traveled outside of the United States and I do confess that I actually feel this is limiting as a writer.

On a bit of an odd note, I have realized that I wish I could dance well. I wish I had danced well. When I was in Junior High and we had sock hops, I was one of the kids with zits and legs like a newborn colt that stood on the sidelines and watched and then promptly joined the other socially awkward kids that went to the alternative site, a classroom where games were played.

By High School and after meeting my High School Sweetheart and wife to be, I did go to Proms. Still, I admit I did not dance to the proficiency displayed by my wife. We have danced since, though not often. I love music and I think that is why I always wanted to dance well. I saw it as becoming one with the music besides your dance partner. There was the INFJ screaming make yourself small and don't do embarrass her. Anyway, I confess I have just revealed a deep dark secret.  Sometimes this makes me sad because I feel like life itself should be a dance.

Friday, May 17, 2019


A whole world all wrapped up inside a person. A world that wants to be let out. The anxiety over the need to release pressure from this couped up world; a pressure cooker spewing steam from the cover, seemingly on the verge of explosion.

Sometimes, a writer has to find a place to jump in and start writing when there is such a tussle of atoms bouncing around off of each other ricocheting off the sides of the skull.  So much information. So much turning and spinning - trying to figure what word the pen will draw from first. That critical first line. A first kiss? A first plane ride? A new friend? A lost friend? A job ending? What will it be?
How to break the silence?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day


Your Clothes

Of course they are empty shells, without hope of animation. 
Of course they are artifacts. 

Even if my sister and I should wear some, 
or if we give others away, 

they will always be your clothes without you, 
as we will always be your daughters without you.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Time Machine to the 80s Edition. Pssst! That's why I am late.

Dear Reader: The Giants have gone 4 and 3, I've had a reading  rescheduled, written, edited, written edited and written some more, BBQ twice, celebrated Cinco de Mayo at home with floutes and flan, did 3 yoga sessions, watched with dismay as the President fucks up everything he touches, and I visited the past - going back 30 years, and 9 days have passed since my last confession.

Follow me - I'm two days late for the confessional.

Reader: I confess that  I love music from my high school days. if you are counting that would be late 60's to early70's. But honestly, that period plus the rest of the 70s, 80s, and 90s produced some kick-ass sounds. Chicago, Air Supply, Three Dog Night, Foreigner, rocked my world. But so did Tiffany and Debbie Gibson in the '80s.  So I got all crazy excited and went to the Mixed-Tape Concert in Kansas City Tuesday night. New Kids on the Block were not my draw but the whole night was entertaining and the two girls, both I believe in their late 40's were awesome. The remake version of "I Think We're Alone Now" is even better than the first. I don't know what it is that makes me feel really good when I visit that time period but maybe it is the antidote for all this bull-shit crap we are going through in this country. I admit I'm all about nostalgia.

Where has this week plus gone? I feel like I've been writing it away. I confess that is not a bad way to pass through a week. I'm getting some more of those abstract urgings in my writing. "Let the poem speak for itself," says the poet. Ha!

My Facebook poet page had added a number of "likes"  in the past two weeks. I'm getting so close to the 100 likes mark. I think I'm either 3 or 4 short the last time I looked.  I know it's just a number but I confess reaching 100 right now seems to be a pretty big thing to me.  Anyway, I hope by next Tuesday I can report I've reached 100.

I need to better organize my writing. As it is presently, I confess it is many files on my computer with less than and rhyme or reason. I guess the rhyme isn't a big deal with me, but the reason is.

I don't  really know who to attribute this to, but it summarizes how I feel~

Some days I wish I could go back in life. Not to change anything, but to feel a few things twice.

That's it for this week folks.  Be safe, play hard, enjoy your life! 

All Best!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Confession Tuesday - OM to the Goats Edition

Another week already? Come, follow me to the confessional.

Dear Readers:

It's been one more democratic candidate for president, one Goat Yoga event, 1,471 stupid violations of the do not call list on my phone, a Sunday without Modem Secretary,  3 more wins and 3 more losses for the San `Francisco Giants,  another book read a week of tinkering with rewrites.

Is anyone besides myself tired of calls telling you how good your credit is, there are no problems with your account (well duh) and them the robocall pitches consolidating your loans?  Or want to interest you in some senior product or service. I confess I wish bad things to happen to these people. Well, not like death or loss of a limb or something. And I'm not talking about the caller so much (on live calls) as the company owner or manager. Like your toilet #4 on the third floor over Flows and drips down all three floors, plus the basement, and ruins your dining room table and antique oriental rug. Yes, that is me. I admit it. I didn't say I was proud, just overly irritated.

While I am a bit cranky - let me mention that Sunday nights are for my wife and me to watch Madam Secretary. Then the gods of TV land interrupt that schedule at least one of us and sometimes both of us will get cranky. This happened last night.

I confess that I love finishing books because it gives me a chance to move to another one on my to read pile. That pile grows like the National Debt. But I've finished another and will be looking to start another. I 've finished reading The Veronica Maneuver by Jennifer Moore.  I will be doing a review of the book soon. (adding to my growing to do list).

Goat Yoga. There is such a thing. I kid you not. (no pun intended) Yesterday I joined others at Paradise Park for a session of goat yoga. My thanks to Stacy Walsh, our yogi for the session. She comes from Core Balance in Lee's Summit.  The cute little things wander around among us and challenge our focus. They will occasionally have accidents. My mat was missed by inches. Their poop looks like Raisinets.  See photo to right. Aside from, the experience was fun and we did get some light yoga in, which at this stage is about where I am at in the yoga experience overall.  Anyone who knows me well quite possibly knows my affinity towards goats.

It's raining again here today and I feel my head is like a heavy sponge that is pulling all the rainwater from my feet upward. We've had so much water that it just stands in the yard and has no place to go. I went to let Silas out this morning he looked out the door and just stood there like, ugh, this shit again!  I feel ya, Silas!

That's all I got for this week. I need to look and see who is accepting submissions and make a list. Until next time, be safe, of good cheer, and watch out for the Raisinets.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Good Week for Writing & Stakes

Dear Reader:

It has been two home grilled stakes, one fixed flat tire, a new draft poem, one book review written, another book finished, the riding lawnmower fired up for the first time of spring, two Giants win and four losses, one dream with a visit by a poet, a not so good week at weight watchers, a family Easter gathering and one week since my last confession.

I confess I almost forgot how good home grilled steak can be.

On the writing scene - I've read a lot this week (reading in several books at a time) but finished In The House of My Father By  Hiwot Adilow - Published by Two Sylvias Press and winner of the 2017 Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize - judged by Kaveh Akbar.   Published by Two Sylvias Press and winner of the 2017 Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize - judged by Kaveh Akbar.  I Wrote a new poem draft that I believe has promise, however, I am still working on rewrites - yesterday's was like a 4th and it still needs more work. I confess that I always get giddy when I receive a new Poet's and Writers, The Writer's Chronicle, or one of my journal subscriptions in the mail. P&W came this past week but I have not had time to read it - just thumbed through and I looks like a pretty good issue. Maybe I can start reading it today at lunchtime. So I have to say that I am happy with my writing exploits this past week.

I had a slow leak in a tire that I have filled up several times over the last couple of weeks. I bought a portable tire inflator - but also took the car back to the tire store and they found a nail in it and fixed it. Since I have the inflator I probably won't need it anytime soon. That's what happened with buying a snow plow this winter after several heavy snows. We bought and used it on the last big one and then they all stopped. 

I confess I am feeling a little down about my Giants but I am also tired of all the disparaging comments in line by so-called Giants fans. Team fams can certainly be disappointed by the performance on the field but comments like treading the entire team are neither realistic or helpful. I've been a Giants fan for maybe 35 years and they have had some awesome years and some less impressive, but I am still a Giants fan.

The Grand kids cracked me up over Easter.  Participated in so many egg hunts I don't know how they kept up their energy. The younger tagged along behind her bigger sister and gladly took the cast-offs of big sister  (who doesn't care for chocolate or white chocolate).

So last night I had a dream that  I was visited by another poet. We drank wine, overindulged in pastries. Chatted with my wife. Listened to music and I must have taken my blood sugar three or four times in the dream. Talking shop might have been fun but we didn't do that.  I don't often have poets invited into my dreams for some reason but when it happens it is usually a delight. I confess usually there is something a bit eccentric that happens.

It seems that living in the now becomes harder with all the stuff in the world going on. It's not at all easy to do and not think about worldly problems.  I hope to immerse myself more into reading and writing in the week ahead.

Until next time~

Peace, Joy, and good writing.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Tears for a Fire

Dear Reader:                                                                                                                                               
It's been one lost pound, one poetry book read, one haircut, numerous new poetry drafts & rewrite,  two yoga sessions, one massive 800-year-old Cathedral burned down and one week passed since my last confession.  Please, to the confessional we go.

Reader, yesterday, I watched like so many around the world as raging fire destroyed the bulk of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I've never been there. I have two daughters who were fortunate enough to experience it. The Cathedral has been perhaps the world's most famous. Besides the center of Paris, it is a significant landmark for Catholicism and contained many artistic treasures. Fortunately, many of those pieces of art, as well as church icons, were removed and saved. But Notre Dame was a cultural icon as well. It has been featured in untold pieces of literature and appeared in countless movies. Additionally, it was an architectural expression of the gothic style and a tourist magnet.

But those are all nuts and bolts talk. I found myself wondering why was I genuinely not only sad but deeply emotional at seeing the flames of a structure I had never been to?  The church had been there for such a long time, I think my feeling is rooted in part to humanity that it represents, on one hand, and man's acknowledgment of a God on the other.  How many people toiled over how many years building this structure? On one hand, a structure grand in size to reach and pay homage to a higher power and on the other - a temple, a holy building that people over centuries have come to worship in. Human lives at work, at worship, a tribute to man's resourcefulness by the had of God.

I may not be expressing myself well, but I think my emotions are rooted in the alchemy of man and God. That is what I see when I see Notre Dame.  That is why I feel a sense of loss.

But reader, I have other things I must confess.  As hard as it may be to accept, I have never watched  Game of Thrones.

I confess to reading Tasty Other by Katie Manning. Poems of pregnancy, and birth, along with swollen ankles,  lactation, weird dreams, and urges.  You might think it would be a book that maybe guys might not quite get the full benefit of.  Maybe being a father of four (albeit grown) kids, who has been in the delivery room for each, or that is it well-written poetry, or more likely both, but I liked it, a lot.

I confess that I am reading several other books, yes at the same time.

It's National Poetry Month and I confess I did not write one poem this past week. (Insert bad poet award here)  I did revise and work on several drafts. (insert special dispensation from the higher poet here).

I did two yoga sessions this past week. I can do better.

I lost a pound. If you've seen it, I don't want to know.

That's all I've got this week.

Till next time--

Be joyful & be safe.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Confession Tuesday - So Many Books To Read

Dear Reader:

It's been 2,259 frequent flyer miles, one published poem, a ton of new books and literary reviews to read, one reading in Portland, an introduction to yoga and one month since my last confession.

It's National Poetry Month. Take a poetry pill for your anxiety. It's good for you and will do you no harm.

It's been a busy month since my last confession with AWP at the end of March,. I confess that seeing Portland for the first time was interesting. The scenery and topography were surprising to me. I must confess I  had visited Oregon numerous times in the past on the Oregon trail, but I don't think Portland as such existed back then. I was usually running low on supplies and had lost other people in my party to dysteria.  That's what I remember most about it.

I did not get a lot of sightseeing done. What I did see was from the apartment complex where we were staying and the view was hilly and rustic in the distance. Also, riding the Max into the city took me mostly through what seemed like older portions of the city. I could tell the city itself was pretty densely populated.

One of the nice aspects of the conference was seeing IRL some people that  I have been acquainted with from social media. Some for quite a few years but in all instances, it was exciting to meet them just the same.

Kelli Russell Agodon had been over the years one of my very favorite poets. I confess that after meeting her I worried that I had babbled on, but oh well.  Jennine Hall Gailey was another first time to meet. Michael Schmeltzer, a first. I have books by all three of these people.

Marianne Mersereau AKA Wild Honey from Seattle was there Friday and Saturday. We hung out together at an off-site reading Friday Night. We have corresponded for a number of years and I have one of her poetry books as well. We had a great time - it was an awesome reading. On Saturday, she came and supported me at my reading, on-site, for which I was very appreciative.

I got to meet Katie Manning for the first time. I already had her latest book but was able to pick up an earlier one titled "Tasty Other" which she signed.

The more you go to AWP, the more you realize just how impossible it is to meet everyone you want to. I confess that  I disappointed to miss Carolyn Forche last year in Tampa, but was able to pick up her new memoir that I am currently reading and get her to sign it.

There are always disappointments. I had hoped to meet Francesca Bell. I did get her new book but  I rushed as fast as I could from my reading Saturday to her table and evidently just missed her.

It was nice to see Martha Silano again. Always enjoy seeing Mary Biddinger. She always has book recommendations and her record for picking out books I end up liking is like about 95% - but then Akron Press always publishes really good poets.

I missed seeing  Shaindel Beers, Rachel Mennies (who was not at the event) and Jessica Smith (who did not attend also), Kaveh Akbar and Maggie Smith. So you can see, many time we are all like ships passing in the night.

Overall, Portland was a great conference. I Confess that  I loved the presence that Writer-To-Writer had.  We were all over the place. Our Director Diane Zina Pettyjohn worked very hard with her staff to get W2W the exposure it so deserves.

That's it for now. I'm sure I left out people,  This is a confession. Hopefully, I will be forgiven.

Now if you will excuse me, I have so many new books to read.

Be safe~

Saturday, April 06, 2019

A Carryover from AWP19

I have decided to try making yoga a part of my daily routine. The Yoga session I attended and the panel on yoga and writing have together allowed me to see a clarity of focus that seems on the surface to provide both benefits to the body and writing s well.  

I got a mat on Tuesday and I started with a video session today.  Anyone that has a particular video or YouTube that they really like for Yoga, I'm open to suggestions. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

AWP 19 - Post Script

I've arrived home from Portland. AWP19 is history. It always seems like we run on pure adrenalin. It's like moving forward simply on the inertia that has been building and then, it all comes crashing down after it is over. I think this year was more emotional as it closed out than normal. I had a lot more commitments dictating my schedule and yet I feel it was one of the best.

There was a very big emphasis on the Writer to Writer program this year. We had the normal alumni reception. I spent time volunteering at the booth. We also did an on sight reading of published work by mentee alumni. Several of us talked about planning for future readings at upcoming conferences.  Then there was the Braver Together Gala - a fundraiser for W2W. I was later to it due to volunteer commitment, but it was just one more way the AWP mentorship program was putting itself out there.

One of the fun things about the conference is always the swag.  Who will have the best each year?

Always buttons. One of the most often commented on was the campaign like button for the OXFORD COMMA - 2020!  Actually, this button has been brought out in other years with only the year modified but  I got more comments about it.  Various tens, note pads, notebooks, funky sunglasses, a coffee measuring cup, Temporary Tattoos galore.

I added quite a few books to my library this year.

PR for Poets by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Elegy in the Passive Voice by Allen Braden

Twice Told by Caryl Pagel

Blood Sisters by  Jenifer DeBellis

A Year of Silence by Polly Buckingham

Gravity Assist by Martha Silano

Bright Stain by Francesca Bell

Body of Starlight by Melissa Carroll

Summer Jobs by John Stupp   --  Hawk Parable by Tyler Mills  --  Timbrel by Marianne Mersereau

What You Have Heard is True - Carolyn Forche  --  The House of My Father by Hiwot Adilow

Tasty Other by Katie Manning and a whole host of Literary Reviews & Journals.


With Kelli Russell Agodon
So this year I had a chance to meet some people IRL that  I've interacted with but never met face to face.  I learned that Kelli Russell Agodon is not just an enigma.

I also met Annette Covey and Michael Schmeltzer.

I met Katie Manning for the first time and got to hear her read at an off-site reading. Martha Silano was reading there as well, though I had already met her IRL.

Marianne Mersereau  AKA Wild Honey and I met for the first time and we attended the off-site reading mentioned above.

Saturday, Marianne was kind enough to come and support me as I read with  other  Writer to Writer alumni at the
Convention site.

With Katie Manning

With Marianne Mersereau
With Martha Silano
There were some very well done panels.  I found Cheating on Poetry to be very informative. One of the presenters was Beth Ann Fennelly, whose writing I absolutely adore.

I had my first taste of yoga with Melissa Carroll. I am not especially bendy but I was able to hang in there. It felt good, after first being a bit painful. Something that  I believe I will benefit from. Both physically and in terms of meditating and freeing myself for better writing.

The most asked question from the conference, came the day I wore the shirt with the octopus riding the bike and holding an umbrella. And no, I have no idea what the significance the octopus has to Portland.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


Good Morning!

It's Wednesday morning and I will be headed into the convention center later this morning. 
I crashed so hard last night that I forgot to take my insulin. It's no big deal because I woke up with a blood sugar of 85 this morning.

The flight was smooth - just a tiny amount of turbulence. Full plane and my wife and I could not sit together. She directed me to an open aisle seat and said she'd go back further. I guess you could say she picked out the seat for me and she did a good job.

There was a young woman in the middle seat with a small child on her lap and a carrier in the window seat for the said child.  A few pleasantries. And settled in. Somewhere over flyover country
I asked if she was from Portland. She indicated no, she was going to a conference. AWP? Yes!  That's where I am headed. (I mean as big as AWP is - where would they put another conference in the city at the same time.  I inquired as to her genre and she said poetry. This was the best random seating pick ever!  Her son was adorable and quite well behaved for his 6 months old and cutting first teeth.  After we landed I gave her my card and said, "I'm Michael." She said her name and we wished each a great conference. I 've mad a new contract in my own genre and haven't even landed in Portland. 

Above you will see a small assemblage of swag  I picked up at either Washington D.C.  or Tampa conference. Swag is one of the fun parts of the conference - to see who brings what. Today, I'm wondering, "who's got the swag? This will be the subject of a future post.

Time to go shower and dress. I will be heading up to midday. I have several hours of volunteer work and them tonight I will go to the  Braver Together Gayla with Cheryl Strayed. 

Thursday is when everyone gets crazy. 

Monday, March 25, 2019



There is writer's anxiety in the air.  AWP Portland is starting Wednesday. So this is the time where I try and get all my shit together.

Fortunately, I have a checklist from the incomparable Paulette Perhach who was offering services on curbing your AWP anxiety.

Okay, I'm not following it 100% - but it helps and even reminds me of some other things. One very important item not mentioned here was taking luggage with room for books on the return trip.  I have a big leather bag that I will sometimes collapse and pack into the suitcase with my clothing. Then I magically arrive with the means to make it home with my stash of books. I mean, who goes and doesn't buy books?


 Paulette also had a list of things to do beforehand.  Some of this I have already done. I have most of my schedule outlined along with a few options.

As for the list of 5 people to meet... I've got  3 times that many. That is not counting on new people.

Three people, who are doing what I'm doing?  By that you mean last minute stressing?  Right!


Everyone loves a game, right?  I've seen AWP bingo cards. Not this time but I am still looking.  Here is a little ditty that Paulette gave us
for further stimulation or perhaps frustration.

These are some of the items that were designed to make our AWP experience both beneficial and fun. She stressed the importance of not trying to be too hyped up to try and do everything. You can't. She suggests a balance between getting something out of the experience but allowing yourself to have fun too.

If you are getting too tired, cut back on a panel.  Maybe go off sight and get something to eat or drink. Maybe ask a friend to join you. Or just hit one of the Dickenson Quiet rooms for 30 minuter or an hour.
Call a friend and see if you can go grab a cup of coffee together.

All right, I still have a few things yet to do including moving  laundry to the dryer,

I will be posting on her daily during the conference.  At least that is my plan. From sitting out a conference a while back I can tell you that you start looking for people to live the experience vicariously through.

Meanwhile, I am going to leave you with this thought ~ Who ill have the best SAWG?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Between Two People....

I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Confession Tuesday Rudyard Kipling Edition

Dear Reader,

Today was a busy day. Not so much that I was overwhelmed with work, though I had office work I did here at home (we are still not allowed back in our building) but around me was a  fluidity that seemed to engulf the day and made my head spin.  So, it's been 5 days since my last confession. Let's get started.

Rudyard Kipling has come to mind and I'm going to borrow the start of his poem "If." If you can keep your head when all about you the commotion is swirling atomic particles pinballing off your head than you are a better man than I. 

So to set the scene, the following converged on us all at once today.  The tree people, Comcast repair and the Sears Repairman for the gas range.  All the trucks and cars out front must have looked something like an operation 100. The tree people were here to deal with many trees damaged during the big January ice and snowstorm and take a bite out of our savings.  The Comcast people showed up to deal with the Cable lines that had been down and across our front yard since the aforementioned storm. As a testimony, I will offer this:  it took two calls to get them out here and during the second call I was told that the ticket from the first call (a month earlier) was closed out without any notion of work done. I said, no lie, they never touched them. The Sears repairman was here to deal with a gas leak in a kitchen range. (I hate gas ranges - I miss the electric range we had in our  home before here) We have been using the microwave and air fryer to coom with while awaiting this appointment. We were anxious to be able to cook something normal, but this is a confession and I need to get to the heart of it. 

I confess that in all of this pinball game going on around us, the trees were taken care of. Comcast got it right after the second call. But the stove, I confess remains a problem (insert gritting teeth here).
The serviceman arrived without a meter to check for gas. I tightened a coupling and said there you go and there he went. Still smelling gas we call it into the gas company ( they had red tagged it and left instructions on what needed to be done (which we gave the repairman) Wouldn't you know it his meter went off like a Giger counter at Chernobyl.  So, I don't have very high marks for Sears service.

On the positive side, I have gotten 30 minutes on the treadmill already today. Giants pitchers and catchers report tomorrow for spring training. I swear baseball and poetry are so alike it isn't funny. Note to self - summer writing project on this topic.  

I've read two books this week. Arab in Newsland  - by Lena Khalaf  Tuffaha ( this was a re-reading ) and How To Know The Flowers by Jessica Smith  - This book just released. I confess it feels good to read two books in a week and I'm all happy now except I am also hungry and need to go eat which brings me back to the kitchen range. Grrrrr.

All best!

Be safe and full of joy. 

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Confession Thursday - Water, Water Everywhere, But Don't Drink A Drop Of It

Not a picture from the courthouse -  Just for optics.
Dear Reader:

I confess I am late with Confession Tuesday. I confess the picture on the left is just to set the tone for this post.

I confess that to find this picture I googled water break.  What I got was a number of pictures of very pregnant women. It did not occur to me that this is what would pop up. I also confess that this is not one of those pictures related to water bag breaking during pregnancy.

It's been two hellacious ice storms, some reading, some writing a lot of anxiety and even more water since my last confession.

The be more specific, on January 31st a major water break flooded both City Hall and the Jackson County Court House. I can't vouch for the status of City Hall, but the county courthouse has not opened since then and will not be open I am told till February 19th.

One report said there were 10 ft of water that flowed into the basement area damaging many of the operating systems and destroying others.  After a few days of dealing with this, the water was restored, but the pressure blew out pipes on the 7th floor or somewhere thereabouts and for some 12 hours that the building was shut down the water cascaded to floors below.  This leads to more problems and now it looks like we will be out of it till the 19th.

What does this have to do with my past week?  This is where I office. Or did. Now I am working out of my home and traveling to Independence for court hearings instead of riding the elevator to the 9th floor for court.

This has lead to numerous additional logistical problems like the creation of digital files to upload to legal file, having no office phone and having to rely on my personal cell for work calls. As in the case of this morning, I had to take my work and laptop and drive in ice covered roads to the Independence Court House for a 9AM hearing. I confess the fact that most of the city seemed to has stayed home meant the roads were not crowded as there were only a few idiots like myself on them.

One of the things that have to happen before the building is open again for business is an environmental inspection has to be conducted to make certain there is no hazardous contamination. I have been in the building with some of my coworkers to retrieve necessary items for our work. We had to wear hard hats and neon vests. I confess we were quite stylish. The neon was kind of retro.

I have to say, that I have been holding up pretty well given the various nuanced intricacies of my day that have required some degree of creativity to make things function. See, and you didn't think I would get anywhere near art with this did you.

I confess that you don't often think about just how beneficial it can be to think outside the box. I admit I haven't had many drive time sights that carried my mind off into a creative whorl whipping of lines or phrases that would later find their way on to the page. But  I have had to think about how I can do things differently to arrive at the same outcome. I have read articles about large corporations that have put a premium on creative capacity of individuals and I can see why.

One of the other pieces of all this that have hit home is how much it means to be around your co-workers until you have really limited interaction with them.

I am a person that likes my space. My personality is that of an IMFP.  I am supposed to thrive, to recharge, to flourish in solitude. I confess that even being alone with yourself or in this case, myself, can get on your nerves.

I suspect that somewhere in this is a silver lining.  Maybe a poem or two about interactions or challenges, or just damn water, water everywhere. Yes, I have thought of the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and wondered who shot the albatross that cause the flooding in the first place.

It's early yet, tonight and I have poetry to write, and court tomorrow.

Until next time, be of good cheer and stay safe.

P.S. Don't  disturb the albatross,

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Tsundoku - Pronounced sun-do-ku / Illness or Healthy?

Dear Reader:

Federal workers have started back to work, Trump's poll numbers are in the tank, Roger Stone was taken into custody and indicted on seven counts, I'm still weighing my options on panels to attend at AWP19 and another week has passed since my last confession.

I confess that I don't speak Japanese.  I don't was that as a shortcoming.  I'd like to. And about  5 or six other languages. But the reason I mention Japanese in connection to the literal meaning of Tsundoku. I know the word is pronounced as though the T is silent and it is something like sun-do-ku.  I also know that it has to do with books. Lots of books. The ownership of perhaps more books than you can or do read. I'm a little uncertain if it is a noun or a verb but a cursory search on this point indicates it's used in both capacities.  Still, when it comes to translations, I hesitate to maintain this is correct, but I can tell you I have seen it used in both fashions.

According to Wikipedia, The term dates back to the late 1800’s – early 1900s. It combines elements of Japanese characters  for "pile up" and the character for "read"

Alfred Edward Newton, author and book collector (Not to be confused with Alfred E. Newman of Mad magazine fame)  is quoted as saying, "Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity ... we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access reassurance."  In this context, Tsundoku appears to be a positive thing. Alternatively, I have heard it used to describe book hoarding. The latter is a less flattering description of the pastime.

Let me say that  I am guilty of having more books that I have read. Or at least completed. I have a fairly extensive personal library. I make no bones about it. 

I confess that I love the feel of books. Not so much the feel of e-readers. I love the sight of books. And yes, I love the smell of books.

Maybe one of the reasons having so many books is not a problem for me is the fact that I have so many friends that likewise have extensive book collections. It also gives me that hope of finding something in each one of them that at some point will be remarkable and worth the wait to find it.

I don't have a count of the number of books I have but three walls of my study have bookcases full. I generally will have some beside my bed on another bookcase.

I recognize the word hoarder is in fact often associated with mental illness. One of the behavioral disorders and not psychosis. I'm a writer, after all, isn't it a given that I will be a little off the wall?  

According to statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb, unread volumes represent what he calls an "antilibrary," and he believes our antilibraries aren't signs of intellectual failings, but the opposite.

Alberto Manguel puts it very lovingly - “I have no feelings of guilt regarding the books I have not read and perhaps will never read; I know that my books have unlimited patience. They will wait for me till the end of my days.”  There may come a day in which I am no longer able to add books to my library. I hope that is not the case, But I keep reading. And yes, buying. For the time being

Until next time, be safe and of great joy. And read a little each day. Write too! 

P.S.  I'd love to know your thoughts on piles or shelves of books still waiting to be read.

All Those Books You Bought But Haven't Read

Why You Shouldn't Surround Yourself With More Books Than You'll Ever  Have Time To Read

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Federal Workers on My Mind

Dear Reader:

It's been two snow & ice storms, four poems submitted to one venue, plane tickets to AWP19 bought,  more presidential candidates announcing than I can remember, lots of reading and lots of writing since my last confession.

I mentioned in my last post my new leather Journal and promised a picture. It is etched with the Southern Pacific railway in the greater San Francisco area. Pretty Cool. This journal will be a companion to my other leather writing journal I have been carrying for years now.

I confess that I waited a bit too long to get plane tickets for Portland and as a result, I did not have good return trip choices. I will do better next time.

Going through another of those writing funks where I am not happy with much of what I put on a page. Of course, this is not the first time this has happened and I confess that I am well aware that it will happen again. I'm writing a lot trying to push through it. It's the only way I know to get back on track. Still, it is frustrating when this happens and you wonder if you will ever put another poem on a page that you are happy with.

Was anyone else appalled at Vice President Pence's lame, comparison of Donald Trump with Martin Luther King? Okay, I confess it was far more than lame. Honestly, it was sacrilege.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the many federal employees that are going without checks. Many, not only with no income but still driving to work every day to do the important things like keeping us safe in air travel, fighting crime, prosecuting criminals, protecting our shorelines and borders. I confess that it makes me angry that the Senate Majority Leader conflates his role with that of the Administration and will not allow for votes unless the president agrees with a particular measure. I confess I want to vote against McConnell a gazillion times. Unfortunately, he is not from my state and even one vote by me against him would be voter fraud.

Tomorrow is my weigh in at WW.  Last week I had dropped 12.4 lbs since I started. I Always feel like I am going to gain on the morning of the weigh-in. I confess that it's probably a paranoia thing more than anything else.

I am still morning the loss of Mary Oliver. Along that line,  I morbidly wonder what other poet greats we will lose this year. I saw a poet tweet from Kelli Russell Agodon this week that mentioned how it would be good to show more appreciation for our poets while they are living.  My reply tweet was, Amen!

Until next time, be safe and be of joy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Confession Tuesday - KC Winter Storm Edition

Kansas City Snow and Ice over weekend causes damage,
Dear Reader:

It's been two bouts of viral crud, I bout of Pink Eye, one massive snowstorm, another in a long string of days thinking about those federal workers that haven't got  checks and concerned for their plight, one new exciting  journal, (birthday gift), speaking of which another birthday, a lot of writing, daily reading, a lot of hand wringing as I decide on airline & flights for AWP conference, and two weeks since my last confession.

So, just so you know it, I don't need any more health issues this year. I think I've had my quota in the first two weeks.  I confess that I am finally on the mends from my second upper respiratory viral crap and my Pink Eye that developed on Friday is now clear.  I've decided that  Grand Kids are the gift that just keeps giving. They visit often and I've had just about everything they have had except maybe diaper rash.

I got an awesome journal cover for my birthday from my wife.  She gave me an incredible leather journal many years ago that  I still carry. The new one has a San Francisco theme to it and I need to shoot a picture of it an post if in a day or two. The first one is not being retired. I confess there is room for two journals in my life.

The weekend storm wreaked havoc on the city this weekend. Lots of tree damage as they were weighted down with ice and the snow dumped on top of that. Lots of broken branches, Power lines and cable down.  The cable between our house and the pole is down in the yard. Still working, thankfully. We have not lost power, but many have. We have more winter storm headed our way and I confess I am saying prayers, crossing fingers, that hopefully, we will not lose power on the next storm through here.

The winter storm has had a captivating beauty to it in addition to the negative aspects. You probably don't need to be a poet to appreciate it, but I confess I am happy to be one just the same.

The weather is good for reading. I'm reading  Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. It is a most interesting read. Written in kind of a monolog form with lots of snippets of researched writing surrounding the day of the death of Willie Lincoln, the son of the President. There is a bit of darkness to this story but I must say that I am enjoying the graceful way that  Saunders has chosen to communicate the spectacle of Lincoln and his dead son's post-death encounters. I confess that there is much about this book that is out of the mainstream but I love it n some quirky way.

Pricing and selecting two tickets for Portland AWP is nerve-racking. There are not enough options on Southwest which is my preferred airline so I am having to expand my search and options. I confess that I am anxious for the trip but not the planning.

That's about it for tonight. Until next time, stay safe and reads lots of poetry.