Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader:

It's been one week since my last confession. One week that was shifter to create a 3 day weekend.  Let me start by confessing that yes I think all weekends should be 3 days long.

To the right is a picture taken recently of Barry on a walk with me. It's not a great photo but it's a family photo. This brings me to my first confession tonight. Okay, it's really my second for admitting what should be the obvious... 3 day weekends rule!  But back to the photo thingy.  All my life I've been fond of photos. During my teenage years I started a practice that continued for years. I would shot a roll of film (you remember rolls?) and pitch it in a drawer. This would be repeated many times. Seldom did I unload the camera and run to have it developed. We wouldn't want to do anything rash!

So periodically I would reach in a drawer - usually under some entirely different pretense, but pull out a roll and get it off to process. The beauty of this approach is you were often totally surprised at what you got. Sometimes pictures 4 to 7 years old. Yep! I was that bad.

Imagine how excited I was with digital photography. The only problem is that I recently though about it and I have not been good about pulling all these photo files into a singular location. I'm sure I've lost some on computer drives I no longer have available to me. Or phones... though I think most of them recently I've been able to back up.  But this whole worry over photos came about as I was reminiscing recently over photos we shot as the kids were growing up. I confess that I not only want to pull all the digital stuff together, I'd like to (cough!) get hard copies of many of them printed and organized in an album.


While I've fallen the last 45 days off the submission wagon (this is a confession) - I began my rebound over the weekend.  And I've already received a rejection!  I think it hit me in the but when I turned around.  Alas, I will be sending more this week!


I spent some time this weekend cleaning out e-mail. Yes, I admit I am an e-mail hog! I confess that I keep e-mail I should delete and it grows overnight in my inbox. I swear it reproduces!  Every once and a while I will do a tidy up - but I admit, I would do well to delete daily.  Sometimes I just think I may need to go back to something so I don't immediately deal with it. I think it's disease.


I was at a similar today so I've actually been out of the office since Friday.  I confess tomorrow looms intimidatingly close. (sigh)

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week and may your e-mail be under control!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Journal Bits May 8th to May 29th

An overdue sampling from my journal:

  • May 7: "The summer sun ray/shifts through a suspicious tree,/though I walk through the valley of the shadow/it sucks the air /and looks around for me" from Noon Walk on the Asylum Lawn - Anne Sexton
  • May 15: The evening feels like it is sagging under some melancholy weight. I think about pictures of our past. Pictures in the dining room on Baltimore of Cath and the kids making chocolate candies in the molds.
  • May 15: I want sidewalks of ribboned parchment where people stop to take note of thoughts. - I want a big dark riped Black Diamond watermelon for a buck ninety-eight.
  • May 17: I confess I'd like to do a writing residency but I don't see that happening anytime soon. ...I would surely be a basket case being away from home.
  • May 17: His sigh became mine/in this we found common ground/mine was round and hollow/ringing true to the exasperation...
  • May 21: Listing a few words that I'd like to incorporate into writing soon- pollen / flicks / abrasive /preens / condense / peril / khaki /muzzle
  • May 22: there was a browning/of mountains that/marched downward...
  • May 25: There isn't time to percolate/there's calamity in the cosmos/we should walk it off/crying is for sissies
  • May 29: We followed the almanac/in the night sky   except/for the ten days we could see/nothing but overcast smokers//breath...

Capturing that Childlike Wonder

"It would not hurt that we live our lives with childlike wonder. Have you asked yourself lately: "When was the last time I saw something for the first time?" ~ Cecilia Borromeo

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Place to Kill Some Time. You Won't Regret It!

If you are looking for some awesome poetry to read / listen to - I have just the recommendation. Today I settled in and took in Nic Sebastian's Forever Will End on Thursday .  Just as Nic had done with the audio of poems by many others, she delighted me with her readings.  The writing is strong, the reading is captivating. I've heard so few people even come close to adding such a positive dimension to any one's work orally. Some people are more into spoken word poetry. I don't considered myself one of them. While I personally do enjoy giving readings and going to readings-- if I had to choose between the written word and spoken word I would choose written hands down. I'm pretty visual about poetry in that I like to see how it fills the page. That said, Nic has the ability to make the words on a page mystical.

By the way, one of my favorites among her poems as part of the link above is Oboe. In the Poems II section there are three poems that are titled  Places of Happiness (followed by three different places) each of these have such a bright lyrical quality.  I can't really do any of these poems justice here... go and listen for yourself!  Which ones speak to you?

An Editor's View

We sometimes received - and I would read - 200 manuscripts a week. Some of them were wonderful, some were terrible; most were mediocre. It was like the gifts of the good and bad fairies. ~ Marilyn Hacker

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Magpie Tales 67 / Poem: Dangerous Liaison

just past the hour of lunacy
I made love on my Mandolin
melody riper then the grapes missed
on the vines

bread  broken and settled
the talk fallen to slumber
women seriously quiet
music all there was between us
fools we were drunk on our own
magical creations

2011 © Michael A. Wells

Magpie Tales 67

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader:

It's been one week since my last confession. One week of monstrous tornadoes. Here I am tripping over the clock to make it to the confessional before midnight.

I confess that I have the people of Joplin, Missouri on my mind. And those in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and anywhere else that have been faced with loss of life and property due to the mammoth sized tornadoes that have struck this week - more even tonight.  I've spent my entire life living in tornado alley so I'm not unaccustomed to tornado watches and warnings.  While these were not a threat to our immediate area, when you live in the the states of Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma you never take your safety from such storms for granted.  A good part of Joplin, Missouri was just decimated and the death toll is something around 120 and people are still unaccounted for.  Shocking and sad.

I have to admit I've fallen of the submission wagon. After a really good start to this year I confess I just seem to have fallen and can't get up. Considering I had really good response to my early flurry of submissions it seems like you would think I would learn that submissions are the key to successful publication where as those who don't submit don't publish. Hitting myself over the head - well duh! I confess I need like a week long campaign to get back up to speed. I think I will plan to start that over memorial weekend.

With that affirmation of a plan to do better - I'll call this confession a wrap.

May your week be a safe and productive one.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Under The Influence...

There is a boundary to men's passions when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination.  ~    Edmund Burke
I'm thinking I need to write more often under the influence...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dead Poet Mentor Series Part 3 - Censoring Yourself

This week Anne seems to be reinforcing a notion that is not new to me but one that I still neglect (perhaps intentionally) to adhere to often enough in my writing.

In reading some of Sexton's poems from her book Transformations again, I see a poet (artist) stretching her work in what I must presume to be beyond a comfort level. Sexton is not at this point in her life new to taking her work into what would surely be uncomfortable zones for most people, but for example in Rapunzel she approaches the poem in what for 1970 must surely have been a most difficult light to offer to the general public to read. She writes:

"A woman / who loves a woman / is forever young...
they would play rummy / or lie on the couch / and touch and touch / old breast against young breast"

In a September 22, 1970 letter to her agent Claire Degener, Anne speaks of two of the Transformation poems (Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty) as her best. She tells Claire they have been turned down by the New Yorker. Of course I could only be surmising if I suggested the New Yorker found the poems to have pushed the envelope a little too far for the time.  There could have been any of a number of other reasons that they were not picked up by the magazine, but Sexton was no stranger to them. Sexton had no less they 21 poems published by them making her a bit of a New Yorker hog!

Transformations was published the following year - 1971.  Even a writer familiar with and critical of the work prior to publication came around and decided he had over reacted to it.  Transformations went on to become highly acclaimed in spite of taboo subjects.

Was Sexton brave or simply not at all concerned about public perception?  Did she truly have the discipline as a writer to not self censor?  Whatever the answer is, the fact remains that her body of work exhibits a willingness to take her writing to places that most would intentionally back away from.  And to her credit, Sexton has to be viewed as a significantly influential poet of her time.
Her lesson here... You've heard if form others coaching you.. don't let fear dictate what you might have written, move past your comfort zone.

Dead Poet Mentoring Series:

Part One - My Selection

Part Two - Anne Sexton From Beyond

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Magpie 66 / Poem: Timeline

thoughts to ink
ink to page
page after page
after page

2011 © Michael A. Wells

Magpie Tales 66

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Taco Plate Edition

It's that time again.  Time to head to the confessional...   Dear Reader~  It's been one week since my last confession. One week more work then I care to recount, so much rain that I could hear my grass growing, nights with the furnace on followed by air conditioning... it's all very exasperating.
Looking back on the week I must confess that I was not one who was surprised by Donald Trump's decision not to run for President. I also confess that I'm a tiny bit disappointed but mostly because I would like for him to reach the public realization that he's not all that! If this is mean spirited then I confess to being that too.

Today my wife and I had lunch together at this little authentic Mexican restaurant. The place could politely be described as rustic. Cathy had already eaten there and had been talking it up so I decided to treat her to lunch together so I could experience it with her. I confess that I only needed three tacos but I pigged out with five. That is the actual platter above. She was right - there tacos are awesome.  I also confess that I tried two of their sauces and wished that I had brought my own. Would I be tacky next time to bring a bottle with my own taco sauce?

I confess lately I've had writing residencies on my mind.  I've though about what experiencing one would be like and yet I don't see the prospect of one anytime soon. The other thing that comes to my mind when I think about a residency is that if I was on one for any extended period of time I'd probably be a basket case being away from home. None of this even seems like it is worthy of my time to think about it but that has never stopped me from thinking about things in the past.

I'm about all confessed out for the night... here's hope that your week all that you wish it to be!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Poetry Out Loud and With Distance

 A strange alchemy happens when the poem is read aloud that allows the writer to perceive it more purely, with more distance.  ~ Beth Ann Fennelly

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Magpie Tales 65 - Poem: The Origin

Where do the winds of Assisi
that sweep birds aloft,
dash butterflies gently off course
originate? Winds that kissed

the bearded face of St. Francis
that brought stillness to all creatures
around him. Their assemblage
replete with order.

Is there a beginning of such grace?
Does it start of nowhere and become?
Is it thrown swiftly underhand
by God himself?

And when it settles—   where
does it go?

2011© Michael A. Wells

Magpie Tales 65

Confession Tuesday

Tuesday brings me to the confessional once again.

Dear Reader:

It's been one office baseball day and another official work sanctioned holiday since my last confession.

No wonder last week seemed to go by fast. Admittedly the perception of how fast the week is going by can have an impact on my general disposition. It's true. For example since we had Monday off it made the weekend a three day weekend form me and this coupled with being out of the office most of the day Thursday for our office Royals baseball event really has impacted my view of both last week and the week. I confess this is however not all good, It make the week seem to go quickly which I love. It can also add pressure to get more done in less time. It's the price you pay for the added value of time away from the office.

Friday night after work I attended the second exhibition of Jennifer Rivera's work at the Apex Art Space in the Crossroads District. This is the exhibition that combined poetry and painting and included two of my own poems along with the artist's painting.  This was an art date for me. A time to spend in communion with art and just take it in. To breath and experience. The first exhibition had many of my friends in attendance and I tried to spend time with each of them. It was and awesome experience but did not give me quite the ability to experience as much of the work. I confess the attention from the first night was nice, but the more reflective nature of this second experience was nice too.  I confess that I need to experience more art dates.

May your week go fast and you find some art in the world to experience!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Hungry Baby

The hungry baby pictured to the right is a baby robin nesting upon the light fixture between our two garage doors. I've been watching the mother for over a week now but this us the first time I've seen the baby. Mom has been especially tolerant of our coming and going in the car and other movement out front - though she draws the line with the garage doors themselves.

It seems we've had a bumper crop of birds this spring. Wrens, sparrows, robins, blackbirds.  Over the winter months there were both cardinals and blue jays. I'm fascinated with birds.  While I've used them on occasion in poems I've written, I don't recall going overboard with them in my writing or particularly writing specifically about them other the the geese that frequent our neighborhood during two periods each year.

It's a warn sunny day today, I have the day off work due to the birthday of Harry S Truman. I've been tackling a number of things today which fits right along with Kelli Agodon's post today. I loved it when Kelli fields questions from her readers. This post is titled: How DO You Get So Much Done?
Check it out!

Anyway, I've got more stuff to do, just checking in for now. Likely will post again much later.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Another First Friday Opportunity - Synesthesia - Poetry and Painting Exhibit Tomorrow Night

In case you missed it last month - or just want to take it in again, tomorrow is First Friday in the crossroads art district and Jennifer Rivera's Exhibition titled Synesthesia is open at Apex Art Space 1819 Wyandotte - Kansas City, Missouri  from 6 - 9 PM. Synesthesia combines the art of poetry and painting. Jennifer has 37 paintings on display along with the poetry which inspired her creation. Two of my poems and her paintings are among them.  Music - Painting - Poetry all make for a fun night.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A Rilke Moment

He reproduced himself with so much humble objectivity, with the unquestioning, matter of fact interest of a dog who sees himself in a mirror and thinks: there's another dog.  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Confession Tuesday - My Cheese edition

It’s been one office move (my wife’s), lots of road construction and an end to National Poetry Month since my last confession.

Dear Reader:

Someone has moved my cheese. There was a book (author’s name escapes me) that came out in the 90’s or maybe it was even the 80’s titled Who Moved My Cheese and it dealt with how people handle change or disruption.

During this past week my wife’s office relocated. The new location is actually closer to my own office and my initial thoughts were this is a good thing. But even changes that are good can sometimes be stressful or disrupt the normal order of things. Some people do better than others with such changes. I confess that I am not one of them. There may be a lot of disorder in my life but it’s my disorder and I am accustomed to it.

The biggest issue with the move really has more to do with orange barrels then anything else. I don’t know about other states but in Missouri orange barrels and road construction are synonymous. Rather then driving in towards town, exiting before we hit downtown and dropping my wife and the proceeding through city streets I’ve driven for years it means we take the highway all the way into downtown. This involves portions of highway that are down to two lanes. It’s slower and sometime akin to a highway parking lot. I confess that right now I see a long summer of Interstate-70 delays.

This last week has also seen a disruption in my writing. Actually two weeks now, I really need to discipline myself better. I feel right now I’m teetering on the verge of being unbalanced and falling. I confess this and my cheese being moved has gotten to me.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Magpie Tales - 64 Poem: Mother

Mountains I remember.
The rocky earth
not that distant
from our splintered cabin
but there is a dearth
of mother in my memories.

I'm told as a baby
I was held a fixture
in her arms, took from her
breast and was lavished
with attention.

A hushed woman
but one to hold
her place
in the rustic life
she was given
until she vanished
from all but the faint
recall of people.

2011 @ Michael A. Wells