Friday, December 30, 2005

US wiretap leak inquiry launched - Financial Times -

US wiretap leak inquiry launched - Financial Times -

The arrogance of power in this administration continues. There are serious constitutional questions about the authority the President has to undertake domestic spying and yet the Justice Department is looking for a whistleblowers?

Second Annual New Year's Day Readings

THE WRITERS PLACE will sponsor the Second Annual New Year's Day Reading with hostess SHARON EIKER on NEW YEAR'S DAY (not New Year's Eve) January 1, 2006.

Below is a partial schedule of what will happen throughout the day. If you're interested in reading, and have not been given a time to read please join us, as after 9pm the mic is open to all that would like to read their work (please limit your reading to a 3-5 minute duration.

Noon -1:00pm Social Hour
1:00 - 2:00pm TWP Board Members and Friends
2:00 - 2:45pm DJ Sweeney Trio
2:45 - 3:00pm Break
3:00 - 4:00pm KC Writer's Group hosted by Judith
4:00 - 5:00pm Collaborators hosted by Phyllis Becker
5:00 - 6:00pm KC Poetry Society hosted by Missy Rassmussen and MichaelWells
7:00 - 8:00pm Latino Writers Collective hosted by Angela Cervantes
8:00 - 9:00pm Open Mic Regulars including Music by Joe Schnebelen
9:00 - Mid-Night -- OPEN MIC anyone is welcome

Attendance cost is on a donation basis, suggested donations being $3 for members and $5 for non-members.

Chili supper on going. $5.00 for bowl that can be refilled.Soft drinks, Beer, Red and White Wine will be available for a donation of $1 to defray costs.

The Writers Place is located at 3607 Pennsylvania - Kansas City, MO 64111

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Gift from Wife

For Christmas my wife Cathy, gave me a beautiful leather journal by Oberon Design of Santa Rosa, California. The one she selected was the forest pattern.

Cathy said one of the reasons she selected this one was that she liked the historical note on the significance of the forest:

Forest - The forest is a refuge. In this realm of green half light one cannot define distance, only the mystery of the moment, the discovery of what is near but hidden. In human history the forest has always represented the psyche, a place of unknown dangers or initiations. It is a safe and beautiful place for those at ease with solitude and quiet, the hermit or forest dwellers, friends of creatures great and small.

I too found this this interesting. Certainly writing poetry often is about discovery and finding the hidden inner voice. At any rate, it is indeed a gift I will get much use out of as well as treasure. The journal allows for inserts so once it is full, I can simply pull the old one and replace it with the new one. I have found in recent times I am starting more of my first drafts with pen and paper as opposed to on beginning them on the computer. This of course lends itself well to that practice.

This causes me to wonder how many poets still utilize pen and paper for early drafts as opposed to computer. What are some of of the favorite utensils of poets for creating their work?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The afternoon of the night before Christmas

It's a quiet moment... well, nearly. Wife is on the tread mill behind me and hast the TV on the food channel, but I am relaxed and feel apart from the recent frenzy. Sipping my diet coke, the shopping done the rat race over. We'll go to my son's house this afternoon to celebrate the Christmas holiday with him.

There were Cardinals visiting the bird feeder this morning. It has been rainy here. It is like a stationary front just stopped over Kansas City. I guess that is what stationary fronts do. The sky looks like it could just hang here like it is for days. The rain is like big splotches of water. If this were to turn to snow, I believe we'd get tons of it.

I haven't written since Thursday, and that was just to journal. . But I'd like to. Just haven't had the time, so this is sort of my journal substitution today.

Read a couple of blogs today.... Ivy, Eileen, Christine. By the way - Christine's The Salt Daughter is out. You can buy it here. I've read it and if you enjoy Christine's unique voice, you'll love this book. It is so classically Christine!

In the news, more on the Bush Spy machine here where U.S. companies were helping cultivate data. A San Francisco Chronicle editorial is sharply critical of the Bush administration on the point of domestic spying.

Well that's it for the afternoon.

Here's wishing all the Stick Poet readers a very enjoyable and safe holiday!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

True Poets

"The true poet is all the time a visionary and whether with friends or not, as much alone as a man on his death bed." ~W.B. Yeats

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ivy Responds

Ivy responds to the five random facts.

And here's my though about the earthquakes. She is such a world traveler - she's like a moving target! Still, two! Wow, that is incredible? Were they in different cities - I wonder?

Good Poetry

Good poetry is like a good woman. Mysterious, deep with emotion, brilliant in color and self empowering.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Mostly journaling and tinkering...

I did a little writing on the weekend - but not much. Mostly journaling and tinkering with some previously written poems. Sunday evening did family stuff and addressed Christmas cards. Oh, yeah... I squeezed some shopping around all that.

In this rat-race time of year I thought this my be a good quote to share....

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." ~e.e. cummings, 1955

Howl at 50 - dublin - dublin life

Howl at 50 - dublin - dublin life

An Irish Celebration of Howl - January 5th in Dublin

Bush says leaking spy program a �shameful act� - Politics -

Bush says leaking spy program a shameful act - Politics -

Excuse me? The violation is shameful!

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
This is inscribed on the steps to the Statute of Liberty. Words of one much wiser than this President.

Proper Irish wake toasts McCarthy twice

Robert Bly read poetry. McCarthy's longtime friend Louise Klas told a story. A woman who had had dinner with McCarthy and Jesse Ventura -- at the same time -- shared what it was like to sit in a room with two larger-than-life characters. And a Catholic nun who has never stopped preaching against war sang a song of peace.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A spark of madness!

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." ~Robin Williams

I actually think you have to exercise that madness to keep it in shape. Sort of a use it or lose it philosophy.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Maybe I Should Be Reading

The winter chill returned and brought with it more white power today. Not a lot, but enough to require extra care for the many shoppers out and about. I spent the better part of the day out. I have to may yet another trip out tonight.

Juggling some words earlier but I am only half heartedly into it. I want to be more serious, but that is a battle that pits will and mind against each other. That struggle is not often a pretty sight.

Perhaps I should be reading instead.

Oh, I see Cindy posted her random facts. I'm not sure if I am more impressed by no. 2 or no. 5.

Friday, December 16, 2005

You Get To Me

Under my skin you crawl
In a full body takeover
Within the streams of conscious
Even to the tributaries of subconscious
Down to my very nuclear core

Bush Authorized Domestic Spying

Bush Authorized Domestic Spying

The New York Times is reporting President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying.

The news comes as the debate over the reauthorization of the Patriots Act come to a critical point today in the U.S. Senate.

Further indication that Congress MUST have more transparency availability to it where government surveillance is concerned. There has to be oversight to protect the civil liberties of American citizens.

Quoting from the Washington Post story:

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies at George Washington University, said the secret order may amount to the president authorizing criminal activity.

"This is as shocking a revelation as we have ever seen from the Bush administration. It is, I believe, the first time a president has authorized government agencies to violate a specific criminal prohibition and eavesdrop on Americans."


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Five Random Facts

I've been tagged by James

Here are five random facts about me:

1. My Junior and Senior year of high school I would sometimes wear a Suziphone home from school.

2. Since registering to vote at age 18 I have only missed one election and it was a minor municipal bond issue.

3. I married my high school sweetheart.

4. My left ear is pierced.

5. Prefer white wines to red - especially Chardonnay

The assignment is to record five random facts, then tag five people. I made it a little harder by trying to think of things you might not know about me from reading my web-log. The remainder is to tag five additional folk. I nominate: Ivy - Christine - Deborah - Amy - Cindy

Achieving Success at Life

So I get this e-mail from a friend who has picked up a copy of the Park University Scribe and tells me I have four poems in the new issue. Then proceeds to add: "Damn Michael, overachiever."

I found the whole thing humorous. Still, I wish I could plead guilty as charged. My writing and especially my submission of work is just about as disorganized as the rest of my life. I've seen worse, but that is of little consolation. I only acknowledge the fact as a basis for those who don't know me to have some point of reference. I fall somewhere between points A and C.

Looking at my submissions during the past year, they have not been substantially up from the year before. I go in spurts. I do believe my writing overall has become more focused this year and you would think that lends itself to more material to submit.

Much of my life is disorganized. It is easy to get into a mode of accepting disorganized. I think there are two reasons. One is my ADD and the other is spending nineteen years in a job that is pretty much crisis driven. I can plan and I do, but I know just as sure as I come to work that a crisis will arrive too. In fact, if I don't come to the office that crisis is still going to arrive. So it is not uncommon for me to lumber through each day just moving from one crisis to the next. It means that circumstances dictate my work habits and being already handicapped by ADD I sort of just get carried through life's stream. Only some days it is more like a river current.
In almost every area of my life I realize I need to find more consistency. I am trying to achieve that little by little.

Maybe I don't really want to be an overachiever. Still, it would be nice to look at my writing, what has been published, the quality of it. The quality of my family life and work overall a year from now and be able to say that I can see an improvement in all of these areas because I found I could be consistent in my efforts and over the long haul, it paid off.

Pentagon accused of spying on Americans |

Pentagon accused of spying on Americans |

Let's see... we went through crap this with Nixon.

This is a classic example of why Congress needs to overhaul the Patriots Act. It should NEVER be made permanent and should "often" be subject to review and scrutiny.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The President Speaks - Anyone Care Anymore?

I sat this morning in the doctor's office awaiting an appointment. A television mounted on the wall was on, and the President was giving his fourth in a series of speeches on the war. I looked at those seated in the room. Not a one of them seemed the least bit interested in what he had to say. There were three women, one other man, besides myself as well as some younger children, at the point in time in which I took note.

As I listened to him, I heard really nothing new. Except he mentioned that our pre-war intelligence had been wrong. I don't believe I've ever heard him admit that as plainly as he did today. Still, he said under the same circumstances he'd do it again and the actions were still justified. As I heard those words a chill went up my spine. Then I thought, I wonder how many members of Congress allow him the latitude to do so... again, under the same circumstances?



"I've got this group of friends that are quite bohemian and we get drunk, get the poetry books out and read. It sounds so pretentious but it's one of my favourite things." ~ Sienna Miller

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Essay and poetry collections leave lasting impressions - The Quad-City Times Newspaper

Susan Flansburg recommends:
Whether the folks on your Christmas gift list fancy humor or sobriety, academia or spirituality, books make thoughtful gifts. Indeed, books of poetry and essays — which bear repeated reading — make lasting and intimate choices that will please both giver and receiver for years.

Emotions On the Page

"How much has to be explored and discarded before reaching the naked flesh of feeling." ~Claude Debussy

Writing when in a particularly emotional ebb, at least from my own experience, tends to produce one of two results, both which are extremes. Vividly succinct images that can take you quickly to a place and time. Or just plain crap. Flat, rambling that seems like a wasted exercise in futility. It seems rarely there is anything that falls in that cavern between these two points.


Monday, December 12, 2005

This and That on Monday

Saturday morning, while shoveled snow from our walk and drive I was struck by the starkness of the sky and the sun trying in desperation to break through a tiny perforation in the cloud cover. The image was so striking that I took my camera-phone and shot a photo of it. The result seen here is very strange.

Last night, I journaled and watched my wife as she sat at the desk beading. She had an assortment of mixed beads and a long metal tool which she used to move beads into smaller groupings based upon the color. It was so cool to watch her because it struck me as through she was a paint artist making very distinctive strokes this way and that. The end result too was interesting because the groupings then resembled a painters pallet.

I am struck by how we respond to things - external stimuli. Each of our senses. Pictures, sights, or even just colors themselves. Smells - there are so many of them during the holiday season that we become accustomed to. And sounds particularly intrigue me. How some music excites us and other we just want away from.

On the drive in this morning, my wife had an Anne Murray CD on. I'm not big on country but Murray is one of those artists that has a style that I think hangs just on the edge of country but is still different. I enjoy her music. One of the songs I especially enjoy is Daydream Believer, first done by the Monkees - and I think that is one of the reasons I like it. It takes me back to "The Time" - and it has always kind of reminded me of my wife anyway. Her middle name is Jean and we were high school sweethearts. Married young, not much money. I identify with the song.

After I dropped my wife off at work - I did change the tempo a bit. Sometimes I listen to NPR when driving alone (a practice that is not sanctioned by the family as a whole) but I popped in a cheap version of The Messiah by the London Symphony Orchestra and some choir. I picked it up for a whole "buck" at Target. Handel had to be just absolutely brilliant. I love the majestic flow of this oratorio - but especially For Unto Us a Child is Born and of course most of all Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipoent Reigneth, otherwise known as the Hallelujah Chorus.

The Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742, around Easter before a more-than-capacity audience. In London, the next year the clergy attempted to close the theater because such music about God should never be performed in a playhouse. Still, the performance did occur. King George II, attending the London premiere and was so moved by the Hallelujah Chorus that he rose and remained standing until its end. This of course prompted the rest of the audience to rise to their feet (it was common that when the King stood, everyone stood as well) and so the tradition carries over to this day when this magnificent piece is played. I indeed get goose bumps and tingles up my spine when I hear this in a large group.

In a final note - I was saddened to learn today of the passing of Eugene McCarthy. He was 89, which hardly seems possible. To many I suspect Gene is simply an asterisk at the bottom of a page in a history book. But it could be argued that McCarthy had a significant impact upon this country. His 1968 campaign for President helped frame a changing view of the Vietnam War into something many came to see as "morally indefensible" (God, the more things change the more they stay the same).

McCarthy's entry into the '68 campaign stunned President Johnson when he finished second in New Hampshire with 42 % to Johnson's 49%. It was such a shock that to this day, many believe McCarthy won New Hampshire.

In his later life - McCarthy turned to poetry. He has already written and published books and essays but became a quite serious poet. The poet Robert Lowell and he became close.
Having been asked at one point to assess former President Carter's poetry, McCarthy said it could only be compared with that of other presidents: not as good as Lincoln's and shorter than John Quincy Adams. He could be brutally honest and of course that with his Irish wit was something to behold.

McCarthy authored a number of books... I recall reading The Limits of Power: America's Role in the World when I was in high school. Funny how much that book seems to make sense today.

A few McCarthy Quotes:

"The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty."

"Nixon is the kind of guy who, if you were drowning twenty feet from shore, would throw you a fifteen-foot rope."

"As long as the differences and diversities of mankind exist, democracy must allow for compromise, for accommodation, and for the recognition of differences."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Creativity Well

Our first winter snow storm hit Wednesday. Thursday was so bad - our office closed. Friday was one of those days you just never want to do because it just shouldn't be allowed to have to go back into the office when you already feel the weekend in you bones. But I did go in and it was a day that was crisis driven. Everyone's crisis was on my desk or the next call ringing. I took an hour and a half vacation time just to get the hell out of Dodge early.

The streets are mostly clear of the snow. Yards are still heaped in dirty mashed potatoes. God, remember the days when you could make snow ice cream without fear of toxic waste.

I've ventured out into the shopping crowds some yesterday with my wife and daughter. We planned well and for the most part avoided the worst of the crowds. Tonight is grocery shopping. Otherwise I've stuck close to home and done chores around the house and little of no writing other than journaling and some crappy attempts at a few things that have popped into my head.

I have some more cleaning to do... I'd like to find our Christmas lights for the bush out front. I have located some of our lights but not the ones I really want for what I plan to do this year.
Perhaps later this evening I can get some reading done or watch Law & Order. That is something we often watch together. Cathy will often watch that while she is working on a beading project.

My creativity well is feeling low at this point and I suppose it will take some priming to get it to flow. Not that I need any pressure but I did want to have six new poems to submit mid- January to an annual lit review magazine. I do have a couple of items I could pull from but I want some new material anyway so there is no point in waiting.

On that note I'll end this post with a quote from Robert Byrne who said, "Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Poetry & Mortality

Recently I discovered an richly rewarding poetry journal online that I wanted to share here. In a day or two when I have more time I must add it to my sidebar links. The Journal Kritya is edited by Dr Rati Saxena a Hindi poet, translator and Sanskrit scholar.

I especially found an interview with poet laureate Billy Collins that was in the most recent issue fascinating reading. In response to a question posed by the interviewer Collins hit upon something that I found a great deal of identity with. I have often talked of the connection between mortality and poetry and the following discourse by Collins I felt was putting the subject in profoundly simple but beautiful terms.

"The underlying theme of Western poetry is mortality. The theme of carpe diem asks us to seize the day because we have only a limited number of them. To see life through the lens of death is to approach the condition of gratitude for the gift (or simply the fact) of our existence. And as Wallace Stevens said, Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers." ~ Billy Collins in an interview by the Iranian poet and translator Farideh Hassanzadeh [source]

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Great Meeting Last Night at WriterHouse

KC METRO VERSE meeting last night was among our best. There was so much discussion and the elevation of ideas was so refreshing.

Accessibility in poetry and in fact the meaning of art itself was widely discussed.
In addition, we had time for some great poems. I have to say that I only hope that we can continue to have meetings that are this enlightening.

The fact that the members served a German chocolate cake in my honor or that they presented me with a congratulatory card and a framed copy of my poem Coming Out has nothing to do with the how good the meeting was. This was just the icing on the cake.

Tomorrow night is an open-mic at the Plaza Library - a whole new venue. It's sponsored by three organizations and will be an opportunity to present material to hopefully a whole new crowd.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Quote of the day...

"Nations grown corrupt
Love bondage more than liberty;
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty." ~John Milton

afrol News - CIA prisoners "taken to North Africa"

afrol News - CIA prisoners "taken to North Africa"

Following the uproar in Europe over the alleged torture of CIA prisoners in prisons on European soil, Washington is reported to have moved the prisoners to "somewhere in North Africa" well ahead of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to Berlin and Brussels. While no concrete country is named, it expected that the CIA torture victims are now held in Egypt and/or Morocco.

AP Wire | 12/06/2005 | Romania, Poland scrutinized over prisons

AP Wire | 12/06/2005 | Romania, Poland scrutinized over prisons

Romania and Poland, came under increasing fire Tuesday amid widening reports that they hosted secret CIA prisons for the United States renditions.

Bush poem spells trouble for Pakistani leader - South and Central Asia -

Bush poem spells trouble for Pakistani leader - South and Central Asia -

Patient and steady with all he must bear,
Ready to meet every challenge with care,
Easy in manner, yet solid as steel,
Strong in his faith, refreshingly real.
Isn't afraid to propose what is bold,
Doesn't conform to the usual mold,
Eyes that have foresight, for hindsight wont do,
Never back down when he sees what is true,
Tell it all straight, and means it all too.

Going forward and knowing he's right,
Even when doubted for why he would fight,
Over and over he makes his case clear
Reaching to touch the ones who won't hear.

Growing in strength, he won't be unnerved
Ever assuring he'll stand by his word.

Wanting the world to join his firm stand,
Bracing for war, but praying for peace,
Using his power so evil cease,
So much a leader and worthy of trust,
Here stands a man who will do what he must.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Rice defends US treatment of terror suspects



"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities." ~Dr. Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss

Making The Most of It

Sorting out the allegory,
Dividing up the spoils
To which we are entitled
According to some archaic law
Of our own.

These times are not the norm
And we can’t quite recall normalcy
Aside from the time the catfish jumped
A good three feet above the water,
The summer the moon froze in full mode
For two straight months.

I remember old folks telling of strange sightings
In the northern sky, and they claim the winter was harsh
That year and the women all spoke in language
That would have mortified their own sensibilities
Any other time.

It seems we all adjust to these changes sooner or later.
The wind is always shifting and desires are nothing more
Than wants- not needs.

Graphite is a smooth remedy
And taken under strict orders from doctors
It can ease the entry to even the most mysterious
Openings in life.

We all look for our chances.
Opportunity comes and goes
But mostly hangs out
In Jackson Hole.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Duhamel & Carbo - At Butler University Feb 16

Visiting Writers Series

• Poets Denise Duhamel and Nick Carbó, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16, Robertson Hall Johnson Room. Duhamel's books of poetry include, most recently, "Two and Two," which features a long poem about 9/11 constructed from words people posted on the Internet immediately afterward. Carbó, her husband, most recently published "Andalusian Dawn," a book of poems, and edited "PinoyPoetics: A Collection of Autobiographical and Critical Essays on Filipino and Filipino American Poetics."

For more information, call (317) 232-1878

Butler University . 4600 Sunset Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46208

Friday, December 02, 2005


Cast iron rims encrusted in clay
appealing to the masses.
Don't go there-
the crowd caters to the mindset
of Yogi Berra.
I read the boxscore daily.
The body count,
and the game goes on.
We're in extra innings
you know.