Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Looking Back

A  Looking back on the year ending ....
We said Hello to

  • Health Care Reform
  • Inception
  • Toy Story 3
  • Ipad
  • Chevy Volt
  • Groupons
  • Glee
  • Hot in Cleveland
  • Rand Paul
  • Bailouts
  • John Boehner 
  • Tears
  • Orange skin tone
  • Joe Miller
  • Scott Brown
  • Lady GaGa
  • Katy Perry
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Body Scans
  • Branding (not cattle)
  • Cupcakes
  • Jerry (Moonbeam) Brown - again
  • Redistricting
  • Borrowing from China
  • Tax breaks for the wealthy
  • Bill Clinton - again

We said Goodbye to:

  • Joe Miller
  • Witches
  • Christine O'Donnell
  •  Toyota
  • Texting while driving
  • San Diego Padres
  • Texas Rangers
  • Sheen in the Gulf
  • Crashing State Dinners
  • Tom Delay
  • Jobs
  • Failed Banks
  • Privacy
  • Trading Chickens for Health Care
  • Census
  • Immigration reform
  • Swine Flu
  • BP
  • Hallaburton by any name
  • Dick Cheney
  • Don't ask don't tell
A Few People Who Passed On in 2010

  • Barbara Billingsly
  • Art Linkletter
  • Tony Curtis
  • Eddie Fisher
  • George Steinbrenner
  • J.D. Salanger
  • Joan Southerlans
  • Edward M. Kennedy
  • John Forsythe
  • Lech Kaczynski
  • Lynn Redgrave
  • Lena Horne
  • Peter Graves
  • Tom Bosley
  • TeddyPendergrass
  • Bella Akhmadulina
  • Robert Dana
  • Andrei Voznesensky
  • Robert Byrd
  • Lucille Clifton

    Your List? - Who and What did I miss?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Magpie Tales 46- Poem: No Choice

No Choice-
You left me
like a hand removed
from gloves—
flat and limp.

What could you do?
The bird had no tweet;
the stem lacked any bud.

I was poison;
you water—

you could only dilute me
but always there would be venom.

2010© Michael A. Wells

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Confession Tuesday - It's Right Where I Put It Edition

The year is nearly over.  This will be my last Tuesday of 2010 at the Cyber Confessional.

Dear Reader:

For a long time I would save my floating holiday for the 29th of December to be able to have to day off to celebrate our youngest daughter's birthday.  Since she is out of the area now, there is no need to do this. I've taken it already this month.  So tonight I set here reflecting upon the fact that her mother and I won't see her tomorrow and I confess this leaves this year ending on a flat key.

Year endings often seem melancholy to me. It's seems like it has been a while since I recall feeling upbeat about a year that has passed or particularly excited about the new one we are embarking on. 

I confess that I try to approach each new year walking a fine line between seeking to improve myself and yet shying from specific New Year Resolutions.

I've talked before about my obsession with organization and my challenge turn it into action.  This year I hope to tackle one thing at a time get things in better order.  Starting with cleaning up my laptop and better organizing the files on it, especially my writing files.  I also want to organize my paper files better.  But these are just starting points.  I confess that I often put things in places where I think I can easily retrieve them only to find that I can't quite recall where that place was.  Ugh!

Tonight I checked out the annual debut poets roundup in the latest edition of Poets & Writers.   This is one of my favorite features in P&W because I'm always interested to see if I know anyone who made the list. This year none of them were familure to me.  Still, I enjoy reading the little bullet information about each one of the. How old they are.  How long they were working on their manuscript. How long it took to find a publisher. Number of contests, etc. Their advise to others. I confess that reading these makes me wish I had started writing at least 15 years earlier.

Wishing my daughter happy birthday! Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year.   See you at the confessional in 2011!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Crumpets and a Movie

Sunday morning, someone is drawing bath water, the dogs are quiet and my stomach to talking to me. I hear, but ignore.

I haven't blogged in days. I started to late last night  but ended up deleting before I was finished and went to bed.  That's kind of how I've been these past four days. Sort of here but not really.  I have not felt well and until Christmas eve I was in denial that I was sick (a common defensive tactic of mine) and simply wrote it off as sinus related stuff - but I've decided now it's some kind of upper respiratory thingy.

My loving wife made me homemade crumpets and ham on Christmas and I watched Il Postino (recommended by Kelli Agodon) - which I enjoyed in spite of following the subtitles in my fuzzy head.  I will watch it again soon and probably enjoy it more if my eyes and brain are working better together.

I've written already this morning, so the day has started well. Holding off on breakfast as long as I can - my blood sugar numbers are a little elevated as a result of being sick.

Have several things I want to get done today - but I don't want to push myself. I really have too much to do at the office not to go in tomorrow, so I don't want to overdue things today.

I pulled my copy of Unmentionables by Beth Ann Fennelly  off the night stand to read a few poems this morning. Feel like a cup of coffee, but not till I have something else in my stomach first.  Off to read now. Maybe, just maybe I'll have something more profound to say when I rejoin the world in another post later today.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


For a writer only one form of patriotism exists: his attitude toward language.
~ Joseph Brodsky

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Confession Tuesday

Tuesday again? How did that happen? I’m off to the confessional.

Dear Reader:

Another week has passed, as well as an office Christmas luncheon. Additionally, Office treats trays and a family dessert gartering. All of these add up to carbs, calories and sugar.

I confess these are trying times for diabetics. A fruit cake arrived at our office last week. You know those things people joke about using as door stops or re-gifting and sending on and on into perpetuity. Well, I confess I actually like fruit cakes. There, I said it! I can already here the Facebook friends unfriending me and twitter followers vanishing into thin air.

During this past week, there have been periods when I’ve found my Blackberry alerts annoying. I confess this morning is one of those times. This is a new thing to me as I am not normally bothered by this. It’s probably an extension of becoming annoyed at getting three and sometimes four e-mails a day from places like Borders, Barns & Nobel, and Bass Pro.

I will confess that I thought this past week about doing one of those crazy year-end/holiday letters. You know the long ones people send out that go on and on about their year in review? It was a devious thought on my part and actually the only reason I decided not to do it was because it would be so pitifully boring unless I made stuff up.

Hum…. maybe I should rethink this idea, the year isn’t over yet.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for listening. Everyone stay safe and enjoy the holiday!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Odds and Ends

A few odds and ends I though of interest~

  • "If I hadn't known lots of beautiful poetry, I couldn't have made it."  That's how 99 year old Evelyn  Vernon describes her survival after being trapped for 22 hours after she slipped and fell in her bathtub. (survivors club)
  • Should poets be lead the charge of social/political change in their work, or reflect thoughtfully on the sidelines? (The Guardian books-blog)
  • The Huffington Post gathered its list of the seventeen "most important poetry books of fall 2010.
  • The media claim the president has "lost control of his narrative." So (The Daily Beast) we asked Margaret Atwood, Sam Lipsyte and other fiction masters to offer tips for the president to fix his storyline.
  • Is your e-reader checking up on you? Creepy! (NPR)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's a Jolly Holi-dog Celebration!

Magpie Tales 45

Blessed Mother, May I?

Called in the midst
of copious play

to draw stick pictures
in the clay.

To share among the masses
a jar of strained peas,
another of carrots.

Then turn the Happy Meals
on their sides - choking sized toys
be scattered.

So much
for a child prodigy
to do.

2010© Michael A. Wells

Poets - Life & Death and their work

"When you’re a young writer, you subtract the birth dates of authors from their publication dates and feel panic or hope. When you’re an old writer, you observe the death dates of your favorite writers and you reflect on their works and their lives. " ~ Gail Godwin

If there is any obsession that has a hold on me, it would be the triangulation of time - death  - life.  That obsession has informed a lot of things in my life. I probably is what propelled me into political involvement at an age when many were dealing with such things as acne and their popularity.  I blame it too for informing my approach to writing in ways I often find frustrating.

Gail Godwin's essay "Working on the Ending - I'm not finished" - New York Times - Sunday Book Review, really spoke to me as she talked about writing and aging. Of course I'm not as old as the writers she references in her essay, but I'm no spring chicken either.  And since I am so good a looking at the ages of writers (especially poets) as they pass on, doing the math (a fact that I'm sure only feeds my anxiety) in my head, well it only stands to reason this all too close for comfort.

Since I've come to writing poetry late in life, I already identify with Phillip Roth's remarks to Terry Gross of NPR when asked what he wanted out of writing as he aged.  Roth replied that  he wanted to be as alert and energetic as ever at the keyboard, he wanted to be taken seriously, and he wanted to make a work of art out of his subject.  The part about being taken seriously, I think one of the hard parts for me is that after writing for a shorter period of time then many my age, it seems the entire rest of my writing life will be held hostage by this desire.

I'm sure that I would do well to loosen up a bit and try not to focus on such things as who was just published and how many books is that makes now or what poet just died and how old they were.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Confession Tuesday

It's been a week since my last confession... a cold week at that and it's getting late, so come, follow me to the confessional.

Dear Reader:

I confess that while I'm not fond of extreme cold, I prefer it to hot. But sometimes the cold brings heat along - heat that drys out my nasal passages and when Michael has dry nasal passages, Michael gets cranky.  While this sometimes occurs at home, the big offender is my office. There I have little or no control over the heat, unless and until I can prevail upon building services to come and do something to block off some of the vents or something.   As I type, I have a bottle of nasal spray beside my laptop ready to spring into action on a moments notice. I confess that just having it close at hand may do more for me then the actual misting of my nasal passages, but I'll take whatever help I can - psychological or otherwise.

My wife is doing a sleep study tonight. I did one maybe a year and a half to two years ago.  I didn't want to. It wasn't my idea.  I confess paybacks can be hell. **evil smile**     In truth, I feel for her because she is not crazy about sleeping away from her own bed and she'll be all wired up... It's a pretty intimidating set up, plus they watch you sleep on monitors.  Who knows what they really do when they are asleep?  

I confess too that I miss here not being here.

In the distance I hear a trains whistle.  I confess this takes me back to my childhood when I would visit my grandparents. They lived in a little railroad town in Missouri.  On weekends I'd often travel from Kansas City to to visit them - leaving early Friday evening and getting in a couple hours later. I was fascinated by trains. Enjoyed riding them. But there was a fearful component as well. Grandma and Grandpa lived not far off from a train track. Several times a day trains would whiz past.  I confess that if I were playing outside when I hear them coming, I'd run to the far side of the yard and hold my ears as it passed. It was so loud and powerful and the ground would rumble. Yes, I confess it was a love, hate relationship - trains and I.

The boys are all conked out for the night. Barry, Mo and Klaus. No these are not children's names, but our dogs. I confess seeing them all so very quiet and sleeping is calling me to bed so I guess I'm all confessed out for the night. 

Until next week, everyone stay safe - best wishes!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Five Favorite Poetry Reads for 2010

I've given it a lot of thought and my five best poetry book reads this year are as follows (in no particular order)

I kept wanting to include The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin - a book I return to often but then that would be the case with each of the books above. The thing about Sirius is that I actually read it for the first time in 2009.  It just seems like it should have been 2010.

I intended to write a little about each book but I'm told I'm on short time - have to run.  Maybe later today!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flurries and Wind

From inside the house, the winds whipping against us in gusts left me feeling like we were in a lonely house on the prairie, isolated from any wind breaks.

I had not been out since later afternoon and I just ventured to the way a bit to a local Quick Trip for a Diet Coke.  The snow flurries were moving horizontal with the wind. The temperature is 16 but the wind chill is 3. The snow isn't doing much. It's a fine dry variety and the wind will not allow it to pile up so far it just blows it back and forth across the streets and walks.

A good night to be home inside. I good night to read or write or both. Pizza, movie, that kind of night. I'm not complaining... there are many places where the snow is piling up and creating travel problems. It's cold here but travel is fine for the present.

I was making some notes about some of my favorite poetry books I've read this year.  Trying to narrow it down to maybe my five favorite.  I'll plan to post the list tomorrow.

Miscellaneous mourning mental magnets

Non-Sugar Plum Visions dancing in my head:

  • Much identity to shred
  • Chardonnay past prime
  • Trees flattened and bagged
  • Where do you buy self cleaning windows?
  • Before etch-a-sketch  there was dust

Friday, December 10, 2010

Empty Chair

Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese poet and essayist, is serving an 11-year sentence for penning a manifesto calling for greater freedoms in China. He has not been seen in public since he was moved to his current prison in May.

The Nobel organization, with its long-standing position that human rights are universal values awarded the prize to Liu in his absence.

China not only disallowed Liu to attend, it successfully lobbied 18 countries to boycott the ceremony and in China censors blocked international television and websites carrying news of the event.

Not since 1936 has a country blocked a recipient from attending to accept the award. That was Nazi Germany.

For China to spend so much energy to attempt to scrub or censor information about this award to Liu speaks volumes about the paranoia that continues to plague the Chinese government.  It also demonstrates how little faith they have in the Chinese people. 

Those present at the award ceremony were told that it was Liu Xiaobo's wish that the award be dedicated to "the lost souls of June 4," referring to the day the Chinese troops opened fire on demonstrators gathered in Tiananmen Square killing many young Chinese pro-democracy students who were protesting; unarmed.

Skin Orgasms - Who Knew?

Musical chills, write the authors, from the University of North Carolina, are “sometimes known as aesthetic chills, thrills, shivers, frisson, and even skin orgasms [who knew?] … and involve a seconds-long feeling of goose bumps, tingling, and shivers, usually on the scalp, the back of the neck, and the spine, but occasionally across most of the body.”

The scientific explanation for chills is that the emotions evoked by beautiful or meaningful music stimulate the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls primal drives such as hunger, sex and rage and also involuntary responses like blushing and goosebumps. When the song soars, your body can't help but shiver.

Some people report lots of skin orgasms and some people say they never get them, but the personality trait “openness to experience” seems like a good predictor. (By "open to experience" the researchers seem to mean those people who enjoy art, good movies, aesthetic stuff.)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Magpie Tales 44


On the plump white hillside
there was evidence—

scarlet plagued splotches
and the lines of blades

slicing deep— parallel
and linear to a distant apex.

Red molded into the lines
like a train had severed a leg

and paraded the results
proudly through the countryside.

2010© Michael A. Wells

Magpie Tales 44

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Confession Tuesday

Another week has come and gone. Another fantasy football weekend has come and gone. It felt almost like snow. I worked dinner magic from a shrinking pantry and grimaced at world events. It's time again for confession so let's get going...

Dear Reader:

I confess to feeling silly for sitting on the edge of my seat watching the clock and score of the Monday night football game to see if my fantasy team was able to maintain their lead and eek out a win. I mean we are talking football not baseball.  (I did win)

This past week was the fifth week of a six week session of working with another poet on my writing. I confess it has gone too fast and I'm not ready to take the training wheels off yet. I want to cram so much work into this last week - not wanting to miss any opportunity to better myself. This is the second year I've done this and I confess that I believe every writer should block out some time each year to work with another writer.  I'm reminded of therapists who go to therapists and so writers doing sessions with other writers to better their skills makes sense to me.

I noticed that my heel on my right dress shoes seems to have worn down some on one side. I confess that I really like these shoes and this annoys me.  Years ago I used to sometimes put new heels on shoes. I've not done this in a while, in part because I would wear out the rest of the shoe first.  I'm not sure if you can still find shoe repair shops to do this.  I confess I still try to keep one foot in the past. **sigh**

I recently read a Pablo Neruda poem that I really liked. I've read some that I just didn't find very appealing and I was telling someone the other day it has occurred to me that I may have been reading poor translations.  I remember Martin Espada - a Neruda scholar, one time saying there are many translations of Neruda's work - some good and some not so good. I confess that I need to explore some of these translations further. I may like him better then I thought.

I confess It doesn't seem like the holiday season to me presently.

I confess I've been anxious about writing lately.

I confess that right now I want some black walnut ice cream.

Monday, December 06, 2010

He Writes - She Submits

There is writing and there is submitting. One is creative the other administrative.  While I haven't always felt this way, I've come to dislike submitting work. I suppose that is why I found Suppose someone submitted all your poems for you to be a fascinating interview over at Very Like A Whale. 

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Magpie 43

Bridging the Gaps

The space that separates
becomes the mortar that binds—

lava winding through the highlands
of Nepal downward without care

a hardened dental filling
closing the decay

unifying all measure
of humanity.

2010© Michael A. Wells

Friday, December 03, 2010

Recommended Reading

A couple of  things I've read at other sites that I though were noteworthy.

Thoughts on Poets #6

Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.
 ~  Pablo Neruda

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thoughts on Poets #5

Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments.
The intervals are the tough things. ~Robert Frost

Wednesday, December 01, 2010