Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Knock My Socks off Poetry Wednesday

A couple of poems that I've read recently that I especially enjoyed and I feel are worth a read...

Ben Parkers'  Sharing the Task that appeared in Rose & Thorn Journal.

David Oestreich's In Praise of Coffee that appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry.

Getting it Right

A fist—      White knuckled
gripping something

bloodletting and leaches
               a vacation to cryogenic reality

brittle regions of home
               splintered and fractured
lessons of melodious ramblings
in hurtful octaves
breaches – spankings – platitudes
               tomorrow we rehearse

The Moment

"But I don't think of the future, or the past, I feast on the moment. This is the secret of happiness, but only reached now in middle age."  Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Confession Tuesday - coughing up the week

Dear Reader:

It is with a deep breath I come to the confessional. A deep breath because I'm trying to breath big today. It's been actually two weeks since my last confession and it was on the day that I should have been making my last one that I was feeling really crummy. By Wednesday morning I would be well on my way to feeling much worse. Today I went back to work. Only for a half day and I confess that when I left the office at 1 pm, I was pretty worn down. Pneumonia is a pretty nasty thing; of that I’m a believer.  

I took a nap after getting home and feel a little recharged but I kid you not once I put my head on the pillow, I crashed and burned. 

I confess that I have no exciting holiday stories to share. Just the one about the guy who did not travel across town with family to have dinner with other family members and that story is full of coughing up stuff you don’t want to hear about, or while surrounded in bed by dogs who are looking at you like “why must you keep up that annoying cough and by the way, what’s with the piles of Kleenex wads?” 

Oddly it seems there were moments this past week when in my general state of physical decline I had some flashes of brilliance (unless I was being delusional) about several aspects of a manuscript I’m working on.  It seems some clarity paid me a visit. And if they were only delusions I’m willing to except that/them anyway. I vaguely recall someone in the past saying you don’t have to be crazy to be a poet but it never hurts.

So really, with the kind of week I’ve had I confess that you just have to find the silver lining by getting a hold of the frayed ends and pulling on a strand just to see what unravels. 

Oh, least I forget… I confess that I lost weight over Thanksgiving. There is that to be thankful for.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yes, I am among the Living

Rumours of my demise are understandable but incorrect.  While I have no idea where the expression sick as a dog came from, that would be me on the right.  By the time I left work last Tuesday I was dragging and feeling a little under the weather. I attributed it mostly to sinus stuff.  I had scheduled a vacation day for Wednesday. Add that to the Thursday & Friday holidays + another two days for the weekend and Walla! You have five days off!  Wrong... Ok, they were days off but hardly qualify as vacation, holiday, I don't even think you can call it a momentary pause in life. No, Wednesday it became pretty evident things more just under the weather.

Basically the 5 days were spent in bed.  No journey to Thanksgiving with the family.  I only left the house for trip to Doctors and then another trip to the ER.  Results pneumonia.  Checked back in with the doctor today. I plan to go back to work tomorrow - at least for a half day and see how I do. I get worn down pretty easy. I'd like to say that I read a book or two over that time, or wrote a reams of poetry.  I did try some writing but maybe have one worthwhile draft from it. I wasn't in the best mood for writing.
That would also be my excuse for not doing Confession Tuesday or Knock My Socks off Wednesday.

Now I'm going to call it a night.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thought for the Day

A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead.
 ~ Leo Rosten

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Outraged by Brutality Reminiscent of Past

For some days now I have been meaning to take the time to post about the recent string of police and security response to peaceful assembly.  I've seen some footage of incidents on cable news and read a few accounts and I am saddened by the turn to aggression by many of the authorities in the past week.
Even where we have previously seen police take a responsible attitude toward protesters there has been a shift in the response to their peaceful assemble.

Have we forgotten the lessens of the late sixties and seventies? The brutality on the streets during the Nixon years only heightened the tensions in this country. The response with force to peaceful assembly 
(a guaranteed constitutional right) is indefensible.  Spraying protesters who are sitting in rows with pepper-spray and clubbing individuals is only going build a toxic climate in this country.

We seem to growing very lax in terms of many of our constitutional guarantees.  When law enforcement abridges the right of peaceful assembly it is a fundamental attack upon every one of us, not just those in a particular location protesting a particular cause.  We don't have to be associated with that cause to be the victims because the erosion of on person's right of assembly risks the protection of our own right does do so on this or some other cause.

The former poet laureate Robert Hass, was beaten on the Berkley Campus by Alameda County deputy sheriffs.  Is it really necessary to beat a seventy-some year old man who is peacefully assembled? Or a man or woman of any age? 

Someone explain to me what threat is posed by this assemblage because the threat that is posed by police with batons and pepper-spray on a peacefully assembled crowd, that threat I understand.  The latter risks bodily harm, risks unhealthy tensions between authorities and citizens, and it jeopardizes the very constitutional rights we all  have as citizens of this country.

Above is one video shot at UC Berkley that demonstrates the response to assembled students.
I am outraged by this. I'm old enough to recall the Nixon years when young Americans were coming home from Vietnam in body bags by the thousands and brutality of those times. Do we really have to repeat this? Have we not progressed in the year that have followed?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hemingway on heros

As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary. ~ Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Knock My Socks Off Poetry Wednesday

As I indicated in an earlier post I've chosen Wednesday to call to the attention of others poems that I've found this week that Knock My Socks Off. 

The first one is a poem titled  FAST GAS by Dorianne Laux.  I actually heard this on a podcast from New Letters on the Air before finding it in print. The title threw me because the poem is not what first came to my mind. No, Laux was not writing about flatulence but first love.  A powerful poem worth reading - so very well crafted.

Another poem I was exposed to this week that really did it for me  was  IF I MUST PAINT YOU A PICTURE by Joannie Stangeland.  The subtle turn in this poem left not only kept my interest to the end but also sent me back to read over several times just to appreciate her effective write.

If you have not read either of these poems I recommend you check them out. 

See you next Wednesday when I'll tell you what poems left my feet bare.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Confession Tuesday

I'm tired as it's been a busy evening since I left the office and I'm definitely thinking about bed but it is Tuesday and I have my responsibilities. Come with me to the confessional...

Dear Reader~  Yes another week has come and gone. Let's see where this confession takes me.

Last night I was late getting home last night.  Tonight I did a cell phone switch out for my wife then grocery shopping so again late getting in. It's getting dark much earlier now and I confess this getting dark before I get home is bringing me down. Tomorrow will be another late night but at least I'll be at a poetry event. I guess I can try and suffer through another late evening for poetry ;)

Tonight when I came in my wife was beading. This is significant because she has not been able to for so long because she has had to spend so much of her evening time on work related tasks. She loves beading and is such an awesome bead artist. I confess I am so happy that she is beading again. It's a passion of hers and it makes me happy to know that she is able to pursue this love of hers.

I'm about confessed out - my bead is calling me.  May your week feed your passions.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hemingway on words

All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time. ~ Ernest  Hemingway

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Poems That Knock Your Socks Off

I've listened to and read quite a few poems this afternoon. In doing so I've decided that I am going to make a concerted effort to acknowledge poems and poets I've read each week that knocked my socks off. 

It's occurred to me that there are many really noteworthy poets and poems that are not widely read. When you consider that many poetry books total sales may range between a few hundred and a few thousand that means even work published is not exposed to a particularly large segment of the population.

With this in mind, I will be starting a weekly post in which I acknowledge poems that really rock.  I think all poets should become cheerleaders for outstanding work when we see it. Pity the lonely poem that a dedicated poet toiled over to create. Perhaps weak in infancy the poet revisited it and revised it over and over and finally sent it out into the cold world to stand for itself. It the entire life of the poem it may be read a a thousand times or so.  I'd like to feel I can expose that poem to a few more people, even it it's only a hundred or so more.

I do abide by copyright laws here, so you will not see me posting poems without permission. .Where I can, I will list titles and authors and link if possible or tell you where you might find the poem in question.

I've always liked the practice at readings of introducing your audience to a poem by someone other then yourself. I see this as one more way to support the work of other poets. Right now I'm thinking of Wednesdays. Poems that Knocked My Socks Off - Wednesday! 

Magpie Tales 90 / Poem: Company


There they all are
together in their aloneness.
I wonder if they relish company?
I mean aside from the cadence
of the occasional passerby.

Michael A. Wells

Friday, November 11, 2011


11-11-11   I like the symmetry in the way this sounds. I suppose I should make as wish... can I make more then one? I know, that sounds greedy doesn't it? Anyway, won't reveal wish(es) as that's bad luck which would sort of defeat the karma of 11-11-11.

It's nice having the day off. I suppose there is an irony in having Veteran's Day off seeing how the active Veterans are really never off. But to the active duty and the retired Veterans we all owe then so much. And to their families we are equally indebted. They all make a enormous sacrifice along with the service men and women.

Reading some interesting material these past few days on creating the best lines in your poems some of which is related to line breaks.  I hope to share some more thoughts of this later over the weekend.

I've read quite a few poems on line lately but I've been meaning to mention one that was in the latest Autumn Sky Poetry edition.  If I Must Paint You a Picture by Joannie Stangeland. Joannie has done poetry justice using minimal words - no spare parts. She has captured the moment and made it her own and allowed us to linger in that moment until we are walloped over the head with an incredible ending. My hat is off to her and to Christine Klocek-Lim, Autumn Sky's editor for making a marvelous selection.

Weeks Mail Bag

Nothing new to report through yesterday. Just the run of the mill bills and advertisements, etc. Nothing poetry related **sigh** - same true for email. At least no rejections. I hope to send out more material this weekend. I'll let you know by Sunday night how that goes (my way of accountability).

Off for a morning Chiropractic visit - more later

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader:

It’s that time of the week again; the time when I dig deep into my past week and sometimes yes, even my soul and publically confess something. Sometimes silly, sometimes trivial, sometimes profound, I just never seem to know until I’m done.

During the past week I dug out one of my old journals to find poem draft that is over 5 months old. It’s a draft that I’ve had on my mind off and on since I first scribbled it out in long hand. It’s been one my mind for two reasons. The first because I’ve felt it had the making of a powerful poem. When you have written something like that and yet are not finished with it you tend to think about it over and over in your head even if it is tucked away out of sight. Well, I do anyway and I suppose I can’t speak for others.

There is a second reason I’ve had it on my mind and yet at some distance. Each of us it seems write things at some point that others we know read and automatically think you are writing about yourself. Fiction writers write things all the time and people don’t particularly associate the story with the author in a biographical sense but dear God if a poet writes something people you know will automatically think you’ve just revealed something about yourself they never knew.

I confess that this second reason on occasion keeps me from doing my job as a writer in the purest way. There are things (though not many) that I tend to try to stay clear of. This self censorship is a detriment to any artist and I’m not happy that I have to admit I am at times guilty of it. Now the poem at issue this past week actually was not of a topic of my so called forbidden zone. Still as I’ve thought about it all these months I’ve considered that some may wonder about the poem and if it is autobiographical.  The possibility of this has troubled me. All that said, I did tackle a rewrite of my draft and settled upon a final draft that I felt good enough to send out. All this to confess that this was a most difficult decision and the process of going through it was not easy.  It also revisits in my mind how disappointed in myself I am that I am able to let such things dictate what I write and what remains unwritten.

I do believe all poems give up something of the poet. Though not always autobiographical I confess that I think we all have grains of ourselves in our work. That they may not tell stories that are our own story but they do uncover a little of the mask that all of us wear daily.

There… that’s my confession this week. May you have a week of crystal clarity.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Just Saying...

Congratulations to Jeannine Hall Gailey - her book She Returns to the Floating World won a Silver Medal in the 2011 Florida Publishers Association Book Awards. A very well deserved accolade.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

To name something...

To name something is to wait for it in the place you think it will pass.   ~  Amiri Baraka

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday Morning

the bed amiss
sheet and covers at odds
the morning smug
coffee half gone and cold
to-do list full 

Friday, November 04, 2011

On Happiness~


Got this from Gretchen Rubin's daily e-mail this morning & thought I'd share.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Confession Tuesday on Wednesday...

Dear Reader:

I missed Confession Tuesday. If you are a regular reader you've perhaps realized this already. I confess I have no excuse.

It's raining and dreary here, perhaps it is in your neighborhood as well. I actually think it is quite November. November I think is perhaps the dreariest of the months.  Baseball season is over. The diamonds go dormant for the winter. The sun seem to be creeping out of sight and then weather like today's just adds to the general melancholy. I confess that I'm not much of a November fan.

November is also the month that you write a poem a day. Okay, some people do. I've done it before successfully. I've also started to do it and failed - falling off the wagon two or three weeks down the road. Today is the second day of the month and I don't have two poems. I don't even have the first.  But I will write here in a short while and see what I can do. But let me confess right now, I'm not going to adhere to a poem-a-day routine this month. I'll do my best to pull together 30 poems or drafts -  but what I am not going to do is stress over having a new one come the end of each day. I have more then enough stress in my life currently and I refuse to turn this already downer of a month into something even more dreary.

I confess that I fell over the weekend and I believe I hyper-extended my left knee. It was about a 9.8 on a scale of 10 in terms of pain. I'm doing better but it man did it hurt during the weekend.

If I get one more solicitation cold call on my cell phone someone is seriously going to have to restrain me. This is both a warning and a confession combined.

I'm trying to cut out as many distractions as I can during my writing time. I downloaded a trial copy of a program called Freedom. They make it for both Mac and Windows. You set a predetermined number of minutes you want to work Internet free and it blocks it. If you have the discipline to just not go there - great! Many of us don't. I confess that while I need at times to research something in conjunction with a particular write, I can schedule to do that during off writing time. I confess I should have started this long ago.

That's it for this week. I hope you can all absolve me of my tardiness. Have a great week ahead. See you Tuesday!