Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Between The Lines

"Sometimes my doctors tell me that I understand something in a poem that I haven't integrated into my life. In fact, I may be concealing it from myself,while revealing it to the readers." Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

If a person reads something into a poem that I have not intended to convey, who is the wiser? It seems to me more and more that static poetry might as well be prose. Not to say anything is wrong with prose, only that there is a reason for the differing literary art forms.

If twenty people read a poem I have written and and nineteen see and feel something close to what I was saying, then hooray for the one who saw something different. We've evidently had different life experiences. They see something I don't.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Friday, November 26, 2004

And This Is What Turkey Will DO To You

I spent some time this morning working on some cases from the office. Yes, on a day off. Blame it on the turkey.

I'm reading The Death and Life of Sylvia Plath by Ronald Hayman. Finding it quite interesting. Previously having read Rough Magic with I believe was a very balanced biographical book. In the early chapters of Hayman's book I am struck buy some of the material on Aurelia Schober, Sylvia's mother. So much is made of the relationship between Sylvia and her father and then the relationship between her and Ted Hughes, but there is no denying that Aurelia Plath had a significant impact on the formation of both positive and negative attributes where Sylvia was concerned.

In reading Letters Home (edited by Aurelia and published after Sylvia's death) there is a continual picture of an upbeat young woman who all but worshiped the ground that her mother walked upon. But there is some indication that several of Sylvia's poems were about feelings that reflected a different view of Aurelia. Hayman selects two "simplistic and misleading" ways in which this mother daughter relationship can be summed up:

"A virtuously unselfish mother has an ungrateful and vindictive daughter who not only commits suicide but leaves behind her poems and fiction which portray the mother in an unfavorable light and go on plaguing her for the rest of her life." Or, Sylvia can be seen as, "the helpless victim of a woman who makes important demands not only on herself but on everyone involved with her." But Hayman suggests that "[both] were victims, but neither was a helpless victim, and it's easy to understand why Sylvia had so much difficulty in holding a balance between positive and negative emotions towards Aurelia."

I will likely visit the Plath topic again. I am anxious to get my hands on a copy of Ariel: The Restored Edition.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

It's here...

Winter came to my fair city in the wee hours of the morning. It dumped about six or seven inches of snow on us. The snow is wet - the kind that packs hard and it has taken over the trees, bending their branches in subordination the its will. They have a stark beauty to them. A quiet resolve.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Clearing his throat, he speaks....

Ah.... Ivy Alvarez has a wonderful contribution to MiPOesias. Ok, wonderful is such a blah word.... I don't know the word at the moment I'm looking for but I can tell you this poem speaks to me about hope where fear once lived. A mixture of joy and loss at the same time... and the ability to touch another human being and reaffirm life. Actually, the piece is itself - reaffirming. Oh, and how cool the people in Dublin hold poets in high regard. Suppose that is a genetic condition? Can we replicate it somehow around the rest of the world?

Eileen Tabios - the talented one know as "Moi" is correct when she noted I was speculating on her in Blogshares. But just to be fair - I have hoarded lots ofshares for poetry blog sites. I mean when you amass several billion on blogshares, what else you gonna do with your change? Besides... Just think if her Meritage Press had landed Britney Spears' poetry. We'd all be setting pretty. Ok, at least in a fantasy world.

Tonight I'll be at the WRITERS PLACE - 3607 Pennsylvania Kansas City MO 64111 for Open Mic at 8:00pm.

Forced myself to write a sonnet this weekend. Ok, it's not like I tied my hands behind my back or anything. After all, I usually have to wave them around in the air when doing something in a structured template. Sort of like wailing in anguish. It wasn't that bad. The experience anyway. I'm not discussing the poem itself.

There... I was about due for a post.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Book Review - "Fair Territory" by Jilly Dybka - Bear Shirt Press

Review by Michael A. Wells

In the fall, the days grow shorter and the season comes to an end. The baseball season that is. Two truths that every fan knows. Some relate seasonal affective disorder or SAD to the fewer hours of sunlight. Perhaps, but every fan has to feel that emotional tug that comes with the close of the season. That feeling that is best summarized in A. Bartlett Giamatti’s "The Green Fields of the Mind." I think it is no coincidence that this period overlaps the SAD time of year.

It is during that bleak period between the final out of the season and opening day for the next one that fans like me look for any chance to feed our poor ravenous baseball souls. I found such an opportunity in Fair Territory, where poet and baseball enthusiast Jilly Dybka has fashioned her collection of baseball sonnets into a splendid winter diversion.

Fair Territory is a chapbook of 22 delicious takes on the game of baseball with some history, a dash of trivia, as well as a view of the poets own memories related to baseball.

I’m not one who must have my poetry delivered to me in strict form but I am open to such writing if it holds my attention and speaks to me. Dybka succeeded on both accounts.

My personal favorites from the book are Mudball (with it’s analogy between dirty little baseball lore and roughing up the balls before every game with ball prepping goo) and New Haircut, looking back through a child’s eyes. Plus Opening Day has a brilliant politically humorous twist that I also loved.

Fair Territory is chapbook that will pack a therapeutic punch each off-season. I plan to keep it handy on those nights that I long for the smells of grass and beer and hotdogs under the lights.


If enter Tom's contest (see earlier post today) and write a poem in the persona of a girl/woman/female - will I be gender confused and want to wear dresses when I am finished?
Hum... Shades of Spurger, Texas.

Thursday So Soon?

I want to take a moment to plug Jilly's baseball poems...

OMG Katey - you didn't know? Ok, you've been busy writing lots and lots of poems. Right?

BTW, I keep meaning to say how cool it is that Ivy got a Didi Menendez portrait! Of course I have absolutely no idea how good a resemblance it might be, but it is cool just the same.

I read at the Barnes & Noble - Zona Rosa Open Mic last night. Light crowd 15 or 16. I truly need to create some more new material. Had a few new pieces to share, but when you are reading a couple times a month in the in the same two venues it puts pressure on you to produce. Hard to argue that there is anything wrong with something that reinforces that kind of work ethic, but it can make you sweat.

I've been thinking that maybe I need to try to whip up something to send to Tom at Unprotected Texts. He wants poems... ok, here is his own words on the subject:

Unprotected Texts wants you to submit an original,
previously unpublished
poem about being the opposite sex for a day or

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Gene Pool Is Murky

Delana Davies is a 33 year old mommy who felt the need to protect her 9 year old son and 4 year old daughter. The rest is quite amusing. Well, in a twisted sort of way.

You see, Delana Davies' children go to school in Spurger Elementary (150 miles northeast of Houston) and the schools have for years had a "TWIRP" day in conjunction with Homecoming week. 'TWIRP" stands for "The Woman Is Requested to Pay" and it gave boys and girls a chance to reverse social roles and let older girls invite boys on dates, hold open doors and pay for sodas. During the week, students would cross-dress on one day as part of this tradition.

A concerned Ms. Davies - fearful that such "cross-dressing" was more than a silly Homecoming Week activity and felt it had something to do with homosexuality. With the help of the Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute, she took on this tradition and it has been replaced with something much more wholesome.... "Camo Day". Now Ms. Davies little darlings can dress in black boots and Army camouflage. Thanks to Delana Davies, "Cross-Dressing Day" is gone and with it all those homosexual overtones. No telling how many gay and lesbian Texan people it was responsible for over the years - perhaps generations that it has been going on.

Excuse me, I feel a poem coming on...

Monday, November 15, 2004

If I May Say So...

You see, today's post by Eileen is just one reason you gottta love the lady... she knows it is not all about the money - it's about the peeps... and Lord knows the girl has peeps!

Ivy, you impress me with your attitude! And where do you find those great quotes? Like...

"Writers like teeth are divided into incisors and grinders." —Walter Bagehot

Enjoyed James' Moral Christian.

Yesterday was Katey's birthday. She got a new digital camera - I feel a lot of photos coming on! Happy birthday - a day late.

Check out Catherine Meng's Duct Tape. I love it!

Great link from Stephanie's Blog... By the way, I'm so impressed. She is doing The Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Poetry blogland

There are a few poetry related blogs that I take in on a regular basis. Chatelaine's Poetics, Ivy, One Good Bumblebee, Poetry Hut, just to name a few of the first ones I tend to go to. Another that has been a staple of my regular poetry blog diet until recently has been Victoria Chang, at least until she moved away from posting her witty and thought provoking commentary and decided to post only sideline news items about her work, etc. I still went to the site every few days, but it was just not the same.

Victoria's decision was hers to make and I cannot fault her for it. I posted a comment on her blog as did many others indicating we wished she would reconsider, but alas, I can understand her decision. I noted yesterday that Victoria's blog is gone completely. This is a loss.

Blogs come and blogs go. Life moves on. Still, Victoria Chang is a bright young poet who I am sure will continue her passionate writing. It is however disappointing that those of us who read her blog on a regular basis will not have the benefit of her intellectual contributions that were often a part of her frequent posts.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Accidental Poetry

" A poem always has elements of accident about it, which can be made the subject of inquest afterwards,but there is always a risk in conducting your own inquest: you might begin to believe the coroner in yourself rather than put your trust in the man in you who is capable of the accident." -- Seamus Heaney

It was not long ago that I did a minimalist poem that I was rather pleased with upon completion. Completion being such a final word and I so often have the problem of accepting that a poem, any poem I write, is finished. On occasion I'll read the work of someone else and think of modifications. I don't do that often. It is far easier to see someone's work in print and accept that as final. My own is another story.

It is the fact that I could sit back with some sense of satisfaction that allowed me to see this particular work as in completion. I posted the poem to a form I participate in and no one commented on it for days. When someone did, there were two back to back. One loved it and offered no changes, questions or suggestions whatsoever. The other commented one a line break they felt was rather cleaver and offered a couple of other ideas they had.

In reading these posts, I went back to the poem and found that I saw it in a different light. I had no desire to change it. I just felt it was saying something else to me. I have come to accept the possibilities that poetry opens up even to the poet him/herself.

Beaded Vase

More of my wife's artwork... The Girl Is Good!!!

Beaded Vase  -CJ Wells artist
Beaded Vase - CJ Wells artist
origional bead artistry by CJ Wells

Bead Artistry -CJ Wells

Bead Artistry -CJ Wells
Originally uploaded by stickpoet.
A short while back, I promised to post some of my wife's work. I finally was able to get some photos that hopefully will do it justice. This piece, as with most of her material was of her own design. The detail involved here is exquisite and most of her work is done in tiny seed beads which require among many things untold patience.

Isn't she great? I'm proud of her work!

I'll post some additional angles maybe later today, yet another piece of her work.

Beaded female torso - CJ Wells artist

Bead Artistry -CJ Wells

Beaded female torso - CJ Wells artist

Bead Artistry -CJ Wells

Bead Artistry -CJ Wells

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Poetry for Your Mood

The Guardian has a fun test that will provide you with a poem suitable for your mood. Go here and take it. I did, the results follow:

You're experiencing a bit of an existential crisis, aren't you? Here's a poem to help you through your long dark night of the soul.


No matter what I say,
All that I really love Is the rain that flattens on the bay,
And the eel-grass in the cove;
The jingle-shells that lie on the beach
At the tide-line, and the trace
Of higher tides along the beach:
Nothing in this place.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1950)

Friday, November 05, 2004

From "Exposure"

An excerpt from a new poem tonight - titled EXPOSURE

A short sleeve shirt
in true to life
form, is a flirt.

Chew on this one a bit....

"A man does not get old because he nears death; a man gets old because he can no longer see the false from the good."
-Charles Bukowski
Wow... I'm not even going to tell you what is going through my mind as I think about this Bukowski quote, but I am seeing a lot of red.

100 Things About Me

1. It's All about Diet Coke.
2. Some people would consider me opinionated.
3. I believe Baseball is the closest thing to life.
4. I believe Barry Bonds IS the greatest baseball player.
5. Capricorn.
6. The San Francisco Giants are my favorite Baseball team.
7. I would outlaw the DH.
8. I once had a car stuck in reverse and drove it backwards to a transmission repair shop.
9. I was elected Democratic committeeman seven times to two year terms.
10. I was Democratic County Chairman in a major urban city.
11. When the voting age was lowered, I became the youngest person to file for office in Missouri.
12. I never ate pizza until was a teenager.
13. I have lived my whole life in the same area code.
14. I attended the birth of all four of my children. Hey, it was the least I could do.
15. I would build a wall separating northern California from the southern part of the state.
16. I believe life begins on opening day.
17. I always cry at the end of Field of Dreams. I have to watch it at least once a year. It's like a pilgrimage.
18. I smoked a pipe in High School. (Ok, not literally in the building)
19. I have missed every single one of my High School Reunions.
20. I used to frost my hair. Sometime in my thirties it was no longer necessary as the silver set in.
21. I had my left ear pierced in San Francisco.
22. Starbucks rules. I want one on my block.
23. I do not understand the concept of decaf.
24. I don't do mustard.
25. I don't do cream & sugar in my coffee, but I will drink a latte.
26. If I could do anything for a day, it would be to pitch a major league game for the Giants.
27. I loved Candlestick Park!
28. My first public poetry reading was at Barnes & Noble.
29. I was in the boys room at E.F. Sweeney Elementary School when I learned JFK was assassinated.
30. I fail to understand why people eat mushrooms. They are a form of fungi.
31. If I could talk to any poet who has passed that I wanted, it would likely be Sylvia Plath.
32. I once drove the like the fifth vehicle in a Clinton motorcade.
33. I don't do mayonnaise.
34. Love Cheese Cake - hold the raspberry sauce - Yuck!
35. BBQ rocks!
36. I married my High School Sweetheart.
37. I love to score baseball games on scorecards - even the ones on TV.
38. Chardonnay is my favorite kind of wine. Preferably from northern California.
39. I accurately picked the day the Giants would clench the NL West Division championship in 2000, bought plane tickets and got game tickets and flew out to San Francisco with my youngest daughter to see it happen. Cool huh?
40. Billy Collins rocks!
41. Most of my poetry tends to run either along the humorous line, confessional or serious social comment.
42. I saw the last Giants game even played at Candlestick park.
43. I have a long haired daschund for a pet.
44. I have been known to read poetry aloud to my dog. He's never objected.
45. I would be lost without a Franklin Covey planner.
46. Yes, I admit I believe Kenny G music IS really cool.
47. As a youngster, Mickey Mantle was my favorite baseball player.
48. An a child, my mother would take me to get a crew cut and I hated it.
49. Sometimes we would go to visit my grandpa (a barber) and he'd pay me to let him cut my hair.
50. I don't have any use for Reality TV.
51. I am addicted to NPR.
52. Michael Feldman's "Whad'Ya know?" cracks me up.
53. I was a true fan of "Friends" and I do enjoy "Will & Grace."
54. I believe the biggest flaw Americans have is arrogance.
55. I truly enjoy flying.
56. I have an obsession with organization - yet in reality I am often disorganized.
57. I am more comfortable as a driver than a passenger.
58. I only wear white ankle high socks.
59. I feel Sean Hannity suffers from low self-esteem - that is why he conducts himself unprofessional as a "bully" on his show.
60. I enjoy spaghetti - without "toad stools" of course.
61. Two of my favorite Billy Collins poems are, "Another reason why I don't keep a gun in the house " and "Rival Poet."
62. I am convinced poets have a responsibility to the human condition.
63. Soccer seems like such a tremendous waste of energy. I've never seen so many people run around in such disorganization. The very act of scoring a goal seems like a random molecular event. It is boring.
64. Love the texture and taste of honeycomb on toast.
65. Peanut butter and chocolate together are ok... but Peanut Butter alone is best.
66. I prefer white chocolate Reeses peanut butter cups.
67. I enjoy unwinding to Jon Stewart's Daily Show.
68. I've never been impressed with Jay Leno.
69. As a teenager I though Nancy Sinatra rocked.
70. Rolling up a double-play is poetry in motion.
71. I've only read two Stephen King books.
72. I find Anne Sexton's success in spite of having no academic background for literature fascinating.
73. To me, the group Chicago is the Beethoven of this last century in music - they are a classic among the modern groups.
74. I believe Folgers coffee should have stayed in the mountains.
75. I love the smell of a leather baseball glove.
76. The smell of fresh cut grass is heavenly.
77. I loved Fizzies as a kid.
78. I wish I could read books as fast as my wife.
79. Favorite colors - orange, black and green. At election time, my color is blue.
80. Humor is critical to our existence. I've been laughing at myself since birth.
81. I'm always amused by the following... One in four people suffer from mental illness, if you can think of three close friends who are ok, then you are the crazy.
82. Something I'll always remember my grandmother saying... "I'm not anti-depressed."
83. I used to be able to exist on three to four hours sleep a night. I viewed sleep as a waste of life.
84. I still view sleep as a waste of life, it has just become a necessary evil.
85. Favorite actors... Harrison Ford, Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Richard Chamberlain.
86. Favorite actresses... Ashley Judd, Helen Hunt, Julia Stiles, Julie Andrews, Renee Zillweger, Susan Sarandon, Debra Messing
83. Yes, I have worn bell-bottoms.
84. I've never put my tongue on a frozen pole. I've made mistakes, but that is not one of them.
85. I have been know to slurp my drinks at the bottom. Ok, I almost always do.
86. Always paper at the grocery store - never plastic.
87. My favorite Cartoons as a kid were Rough & Ready and Heckle and Jeckle .
88. Pet peeves - TV Remotes. They are called Remotes - not "losts" We have two lost on a daily basis for the same TV. If I can't see them in the open, I'm not looking for them. What is the point... I can change the stations with the button.
89. While I will sing in the car, I do not sing in public.
90. Though I dislike needles, I do donate blood.
91. I prefer showers to baths.
92. My Best Feature? - I have one?
93. I am an innie.
94. I am not a fan of Oreos.
95. Skim milk. Took a long time, but I am used to it now.
96. I like my stake medium-rare.
97. I hate licking stamps... envelopes even more.
98. My youngest daughter has my sense on humor. I wish she'd give it back! ( just kidding)
99. I'd prefer cold to hot.
100. Favorite slacks - khaki.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Pardon My Decompression

The election decompression is still in progress. This is not to be confused with depression, although you can be assured there is some of that. Just regaining some grounding in where we are and what the future may hold is a part of that decompression that follows an election of major significance.

I note that Eileen Tabios blogged some on the election, and need to try digest what she is saying. I will have a postmortem but not today. For those of you that may not be aware, I have spent a good portion of my life immersed in politics. I served for 14 years (7 terms) on the as Democratic Committeeman in Jackson County, Missouri. I was also Democratic Party Chairman in Jackson County between 1988-1990. Enough on this for now, I just wanted to let my readers know that I will not let this pass without comment.

In the meantime. I arrived home yesterday to a pleasant surprise. In the mail I had a CD with 20 poems - recorded live from the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. The CD came from The Poetry Trust. Since two poets I adore are Billy Collins and Sharon Olds, imagine how excited I was to see they each had a poem in this collection. It could not have come at a better time.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Something Seriously Wrong With This ....

Yesterday, a yard sign in a polling place down the block from me at a Church caught my attention. The yard sign was for a Republican State Senate candidate name Chet Southworth. The yard sign read as follows:

State Senate
Pro Life - Pro Family - Pro Gun
oh, he did get beat badly....

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

This Is It...

I've voted, and now I'm off to do my last bit of GOTV for the Kerry Campaign. I anticipate a long day, but I am feeling good about tonight.