Sunday, July 31, 2011

Magpie Tales 75 - Poem : Cycles Sirius

All she ever wanted
was to ride
to let her hair down
to be a human streamer
on a world stage
far from her tunnel

ride she did
a circus act
big as the night
she was Sirius
brightest of light 

taking the curves
smooth— feral flesh
blinking under a hot blue
sparkler strobe
woman reborn

2011 © Michael A. Wells

Magpie Tales75


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Couple of poems that caught my attention today...

Christine Klocek-Lim - editor of Autumn Sky Poetry has another steller edition.  Two of the poems that particularly caught my attention I have linked here.  Perhaps you will enjoy them as I did or one or more of the others. Happy reading!

Sounds Like A Spot for a Writing Weekend

Among a number of other unique spots featured on AOL I found the Point No Point Lighthouse - complete with a lightkeepers residence this site is available for vacation rental at only $215/night + tax.

The Lighthouse dating back to the 1880's is about a hour from Seattle. It provides a bird's eye view of what goes on in Puget Sound and a view of Mount Rainier.

From a Seattle Times Review it sounds like an awesome place for a weekend retreat for writers.

Where are some places you have gotten away to write at and how did the writing end up?  Tell us about your successes or otherwise....                          

At A Loss

Then it rained
my hair wet
streams pulled it
over my forehead
I gushed with thoughts
I could not keep
soon I was up to my ankles
in loss

2011 © Michael A. Wells

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Weighty Edition

Dear Reader:

To the confessional...  It's been one week of hot-air in Washington, D.C. since my last confession. <sigh>

A confession that I have tonight is one I'd like to just be a secret.  I started a diet on Sunday and I'd just as soon it not be historically recorded on the Internet, but alas I some notion that as I confess it here it establishes some accountability. With that in mind I will swallow my pride and confess that yes, I am intentionally attempting to lose weight - reduce body mass, take up less space, etc, etc. My first weigh in was on Sunday. I stopped by the Y and weighed in again this afternoon. Result - 3.1 lbs lost.  So what did I do?  I went to lunch with out office to celebrate birthdays this month. We went to Winslow's BBQ.

Now you are no doubt thinking.... hum I'll bet he could put the 3 lbs right back on in a place like that. I was a relatively good boy... I skipped any fries opting instead for the BBQ beans and the Smokey Sandwich I ditched the bun on eating only the meat. My drink... ice tea.  Taking everything into consideration I didn't do bed for the day.  I'll try and remember to weigh in next Tuesday as an additional measure of accountability.

Where has July gone? I confess the summer feels like greased pig slipping through my arms. As we are nearly to August that leaves like two months of baseball left for the regular season. Football will soon be encroaching into it. Oh how I hate that!

In the poetry department I confess that I've been hanging onto drafts a lot longer - tweeking - tinkering - turning them around and standing them on end. I confess I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. Yes, we can close the book on a poem and send it out in the world too early.  Sometimes I thing we can tinker too much as well. I think time helps just to allow for perspective shifts, changes can be made without wearing the words on the page out. I confess I am not likely to change how I approach this anytime soon.

That's a wrap for this today... have a great week and see you again on Tuesday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Do no wrong

Writing away - in free write while listening to my playlist. No care given to what comes out - it's choppy and all over the map and that's cool because I will come back to it on another day and mine for gold. For now it's words - phrases and that is  all that matters. I can do no wrong.

Rainy Sunday Morning

Opening the front door this morning I stepped into the heavy smell of rain. The sidewalks still dark gray from the wetness. Sun straining through the moving cloud cover. There is nothing in this picture to suggest  however, the oppressive heat will be moving on.

For a Sunday morning I already feel good about the weekend in terms of
writing. Yesterday I pushed throw a new poem draft and tinkered in rewrite with some other material.  In terms of recent weekends I've felt better in terms of creative mind. I've been able to unencumber it from a lot of recent baggage that has cluttered it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Constantly Comparing Yourself To Other Artists

Before I delve into this, let me reference a post on The Book of Kells where Kelli Agodon shares a list of How to Feel Miserable as an Artist (Or What Not to Do).  There are 10 entries to this list and two that especially jump out at me are numbers 1 & 8.  I'm thinking I will over the next couple of weeks post a response to all of these but for today. Number 1 it is!

When I was reading the list and saw the very first item I thought, Don't we all? Is there anyone who doesn’t compare yourself to other artists? Do I see any hands? I didn't think so. I think I do it in so many ways.... so and so just won the Best Darned Chapbooks Award this side of the Mississippi Award and what have I won lately. Suzy-Q has 7 poems in No-Tell Motel this month or Sam has poems in three journals in a month.... what have I got **heavy sigh**

The inclination is to use others as a yard stick to decide how you measure up. Right now if I list my top 10 favorite poets and you ask me to write next to their name when I think I might measure up to each of them beside their name I can tell you the answer in each case is going to be the same. Never!

The odds are each of them probably can make a similar list and likely answer it the same. In art especially, I'm pretty sure that we do the yard-stick test with others and it is a failing proposition.

Any one of the ten items on the list is probably not a healthy activity but when we start collecting 3 or four or more of these faults, I'm pretty sure that a frustrated if not miserable artist begins to emerge.

When someone I know has a new book come out I try to make a conscious effort to congratulate them. First of all being supportive of your peers is a good thing. But if we don't look at these achievements of others in a positive light I thing the opposite begins to creep in and take over our psyche. We start to feel short changed and even jealous. I have several friends who have new books that have recently come out or are due out in a matter of weeks. It becomes so easy to allow their successes to place you and an important manuscript project you are working on into a "woe is me mode" and then you start to think about it and you say as rationalization, "ah yes, but I'm not that good and I never will be."

I know if you are a writer you have doubted yourself. And probably by comparison to some other writer. So share your secrets... when you realized that you've slipped on this slippery slope how do you get yourself back on your two feet?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thoughts on the Fall of Borders

News that Borders is closing down is no surprise to me.  Anyone who follows the bookseller's industry could have suspected it even long before they began shedding stores a while back in order to try and stop the bleeding. The fact that Borders has not had a profitable year since 2006 is probably due to a variety of factors including but not limited to the current economic climate, a business model that was well behind the e-book curve and competitors that were successfully bleeding their profit share. 

If I'm not surprised I can still be sad. My family and I enjoyed occasional trips to Borders - usually to check out their bargain book tables. I've done a reading or two at Borders in Northland. I'm sad too for the some 12,000 employees that will be without a job as a result.

Some people will argue that this is a sign of the demise of traditional books in our culture. For many who like browsing in a bookstore to ordering online this may have a silver lining. It could be that the loss of Borders may leave a small opening for smaller independent neighborhood bookstores.

I don't deny that I have also been a frequent Amazon customer. They are relatively fast in shipping to me.  Barnes & Nobel and Borders generally don't have new poetry releases when I want them.B & N has had a dwindling inventory altogether.  What I did like about Borders is they did have some more specialty type  titles the B & N ever did.

If the price of shares in is any indication of their health, they are doing quite well. I'm sure their decision and marketing of the Kindle has been a part of their success.  I remain more interested in traditional books. For now, they still meet that need.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Confession Tuesday - #poetparty edition

Dear Reader: It's been one anxiety ridden doctor's check-up, 3/4 of a lawn mowed, a visit from one of my out of town children and one more #poetparty since my last confession.

Sunday I actually made it on time to #poetparty (on Twitter) for what I confess is probably the first time. So that may well taint my representative view of what #poetparty offers, but one thing it usually delivers to me is frustration.

I love the concept of #poetparty (which aside from an occasional virtual piece of cake or glass of wine) isn't really much of a party. What I like about it is that it is a co-mingling of poets from anywhere a poet wants to come from, all assembled in bombarding tweets into smart phones, onto laptops and desktop computers all over the United States if not the world.

Collin Kelley and Deborah Ager of 32 Poems co-host the event. They have effectively drawn together a wide range of poets with various levels of proficiency in the art. I must confess however that I am relatively inept at staying up with the tweets. Yes, I confess that I am guilty of coming late and even at times leaving early, but it is frustrating to me because it seems that so much (or at least to me) is lost by the format. For example there have been Internet meeting rooms/chat rooms etc available for years now and it seems to me they would be so much easier to keep up with. Plush there is that darned hashtag(#). It is sometimes hard to remember that if you don't have the #poetparty in your tweet it just goes out there into twitterland and is lost from the actual party.

If you haven't been to one of these, there are usually a series of questions along a topic line and people respond individually and then there is often some give and take in the conversation. I admit it is a little easier to follow on a computer then on the twitter application on my blackberry. But even within a twitter application like Tweet Deck on my laptop it is no picnic.

So even though Twitter is the newer medium, it seems to me that something as "old School" as an online meeting room might be less confusing. At least to this old poet.

There you have it... I confess I'm inept at something. Shocker!  ;)

Hope everyone has a great week. Stay out of the heat and be safe!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

In an Age of Information Overload or...

Things I learned yesterday...

  • You don't have to get Crabs if you eat at Joe's Crab Shack
  • Kansas City made the 40 Worst Dressed Cities List coming in at #37
  • Price Chopper on 291 has  watermellon slightly smaller the a football for $7 - making their filet mignon appear to be a steal
  • If your dog keeps burping just after he ate his food might soon be found on the floor
  • If given a choice between two things, a kid will make the "non-adult" choice
  • Patience pays dividends
  • You cannot write your way out of being alone

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Going to Poetry the Bigger Picture

The other day I posted a quotation that I came across via a tweet by Terresa that struck me profoundly.  The quote I posted here on Thursday.  I posed the question - why do you go to poetry and so far there has  been not a soul come forward to share their response.  But the quote is worthy of more then just a retweet or reposting. It is worthy because it opens up my mind to larger questions.  So to start with... here is the quote again:

"The reason we go to poetry is not for wisdom, but for the dismantling of wisdom." - Jacques Lacan

Over the years there have been any number of essayists that have tackled questions about to what degree if any that poetry can make a difference in one's life.  I don't imagine what I am going to say is groundbreaking, but the degree to which one approaches the reading of poetry I believe can inform one's perspective on some of the more philosophical questions involving life today.  

Take the business world... Author Tom Ehrenfield writes, "entrepreneurs, like poets, invent new ways to connect people, ideas, and organizations."  It is the inventiveness, the creative approach to things that is perhaps the most important things man has going for him.

Today's economic issues could use some inventiveness.  When certain people believe that the current debt crisis can be simply approached by not increasing the debt ceiling and to cut spending and then think others "stupid" because they cannot see what is so simple to them they fail because the problem is more complex then that and their solution ignores so many factors. These people are probably the first to run from a poem holding hands over their ears chanting loudly I don't want to hear it, don't read it. Considering the many factors in such an issue requires more thought commitment then they are willing to out into the equation.

As a people we have achieved much over the history of man by reason of our creativity. Our willingness to look at things differently then that first one dimensional approach.

Without stretching our mind, penicillin is never discovered. The Wright brothers are grounded indefinitely.  There is no moon landing. Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's will never be cured.

I have read that more and more Fortune 500 companies a looking for qualified employees that have experience/interest in poetry and literature.  It's not because they, the CEO's are looking for someone with such interests to chew the fat with over lunch, but because such people are adept at creating solutions to problems and not just adding 2+2 to equal 4.

So when someone asks you if poetry really matters... if it can save you, the long answer may just be yes!

I submit that the solution to our many environmental challenges, finding cures for many incurable illnesses, solving our economic woes, feeding the world hungry, and living a peaceful coexistence with people people from different cultures around the world all involve the poetics of creativity. Personal enjoyment aside (which I consider one very good reason to go to poetry) its model may very well our very salvation as a people.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Magpie Tales-73 : Poem: Citizen Athlete

White cap waves
Atlantic in origin
breed man's self-indulgence
from biceps digging 
in the waters to full
blown sails pushing waterline
the nonchalant splash and slap
or power about breast
strokes their propulsion.
On the shore the fun
spills over - flat hand paddles
bang out points over
makeshift netting.
By night Martha's Vineyard
crawls with crab meat and oysters
soothing the hunger pangs
of the citizen athlete. 

2011© Michael A. Wells

*photo credit: People of Chilmark, Thomas Hart Benton, 1920

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why we go to poetry

"The reason we go to poetry is not for wisdom, but for the dismantiling of wisdom."  - Jacques Lacan

Thanks to Terresa who lead me to the quote!

Why do you Go to poetry?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Time Edition

Yes, it's that time again. Another Tuesday and here i am at the confessional.  Let's hurry along, I'm not sure how much time I have.

Dear Reader:  It's been another whole week and a whole bunch of emotion since my last confession.

One way or another time has been doing a number on me. I must confess that I have never considered time to be my friend. When I was young it seemed like time would drag on in an eternally slow crawl.  As a kid I was oh so anxious to grow up and decried the cruelty of how long my childhood was taking. 

Somewhere between then and now something changed and time began to move with  breakneck speed.  Like the cautious adage, it to good to be careful what one wishes for. I grew up and have been fighting time every since. Time seems to inform a lot of what I write about.  I confess that too often time creeps into my poetry riding the backs of other topics it will almost always find safe passage past my internal censor. This past week especially, I've thought a lot about time.

The past has been just one aspect of this time obsession.  It has been a series of recent events that has reminded me all too well of a part of my childhood that I was anxious to leave behind.  I confess that I was not prepared and may never be prepared to deal with the combined feelings of anger and hurt that I am reminded of.  This is something I had fairly well buried, walled off and stepped back from.

The surprise recurrence of these feelings manifests itself in several ways.  Anxiety, lower self-esteem, and anger are just a few of the readily identifiable ways it has impacted me. I confess that a big part of the frustration is that  I seemed unable to control how any of this unfolded. 

I confess that this resurgence of residual feelings from childhood at this time clearly means that growing up is not an escape route.  Two other things that have plagued me because of this, battling to keep writing recently from sounding like teenage angst, and speculating every day how old I will live to be.  Both which seem to fail the test of proactive ways to spend time.

But enough of this! Tonight is the All-Star game.  I'm ready for the National League to win! 

May each of you have a winning week too!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wanted - A Radio Station in Kasnas City

Seriously folks, when KUDL 98.1 disappeared from the radio airways early this year - a long tradition of adult contemporary music was lost and the station became 99.7 THE POINT[less] KC lost more then a radio station... it lost a cross-generational entertainment media. What has taken the place of KUDL is a variety of no-name, and lesser-name performers that may or may not be remembered 5 - 10 years  I've tried The Point[less] several times since the change over and  it hasn't gotten any better. We NEED a new station with the old format that was big name music spanning the 1970's through 1990's & contemporary hits as well.

Somebody... anybody - are listening?

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Journal Bits

I'm overdue for my Journal bits post, so here goes...

  • June 23 - "you asked how I felt/about the aggregate-/I tell you that is quite a sum/a lot of cookies/I feel overwhelmed"
  • June 25 - "clouds speak endlessly in a limited vocabulary"
  • June 28 -"I'm stuck at 22 likes on my Facebook writers page - three away from what I need."
  • June 29 -"it's my desire to scream right now..."
  • July 1 - "I would like to have gone to First Friday at the Crossroads but the heat is oppressive."
  • July 3 - "It is the summer of discontent/thick with verbiage that subsides/rolling back in white foam/a quiet lace that always predicts /another round of roaring waves."
  • July 6 - "...I have last weeks register receipts/for no particular reason..."
  • July 8 - "Lunch with an untruth/gimme a stiff drink/should have ordered takeout..."


Against a wall wet with past
she leans- the musty memory
soaks her cloak    and lingers-
days to nights to days
the acherontics shuffles between
them and there is no deviation
nothing tangible to separate
one from the other -
darkness like the husk
of a walnut shell    encases her.
Who will crack the shell?
Can anyone?

2011 © Michael A. Wells

photo credit -  Amanda Slater

Magpie Tales 72 - Poem untitled

Wheat Field with Rising Sun, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

Torrents of amber and goldenrod
highlights wave to the wind
under blistered sky

grasshoppers fleeing
ahead of us the field
ripe for a day of toil

tomorrow it will be
combines and us
against the fever

2011 © Michael A. Wells

Magpie Tales 72

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Strange Correlation Edition.

Tuesday again. It seems like only yesterday. So let's get going to the confessional.

Dear Reader:

It's been one week since my last confession and a weekend of minor explosions in the neighborhood followed by barking. Oh the joys of the 4th of July.

Today, when I returned home from work,  I found my copy of She Returns to the Floating World  by Jeannine Hall Gailey waiting for me in the mail. This was a treat because I had earlier received an e-mail rejection letter so I had a little good to compensate for the bad.

When I went to Duotrope (which I use as a submission tracker) and reported my latest rejection the control panel has a percentage figure of your acceptances in the last 12 months. Following my % number was the following... Congratulations! Your overall acceptance ratio is higher than the average for users who have submitted to the same markets. I confess this amazes me more then it encourages me. And then my mind began to correlate writing to baseball. In baseball a hitter who is batting .300 is someone who reaches base safely roughly three out of every ten times they come to the plate. Such a batting average is considered above average. A good player. Assuming he has other skills, defensive, power or speed, he may be better than good. But flip this around and think about it... that same player fails 7 out of every 10 times he comes to the plate. It almost seems absurd to think that someone who fails 7 out of 10 times is a success, but in baseball, it is just that! Writing it seems is quite the same. I confess it may be in part that chase... that battle with the odds that I actually like.

Well, it’s late and I want to read some tonight in my new book before I hit the sack.  Have a good week.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Reflection on the 4th of July

July 4th is an air born holiday. Fireworks like fireflies dot the night sky and the smell of sulfur permeates the air, strong enough at times to get choked up.

It's a day in which we will often go outside into that summer heat and start the grill and burn burgers and brats, etc. and  hep our plats and dig in. A day families gather and there are so many smells on this day.

Less tangible but more important are the freedoms that we have. Freedoms that have come and continue to be protected at a very high price.

The freedom to express ourselves creativity in all forms of art. The freedom of the press... perhaps the most critical cornerstone of the success of our democracy.

In many places around the world people are not free to practice journalism without fear for their families or themselves.  A free press is a paramount checks and balance to democracy. It's something to celebrate and not take for granted.