Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Year End Condition

Tuesday evening and it's time to head to the confessional for the last time this year.  Join me as I unload what I've been carrying around.

Dear Reader:

It's been two weeks since my last confession. I confess I was a slacker over the holiday.

It's funny I generally approach each year end wanting to shake the dust of the past year from my feet. Usually I can not wait to put it behind me focusing on all the bad things that are lingering in my memory. I usually figure whatever the new year brings can't be worse than the one just past.  This year I confess I can actually think of some things that have gone right for a change.

I have to say that I am thankful that we managed to get the required work done on our water meter line of font done without having to bring in outside help. This was a big savings.

I'm thankful that I have had a very successful year of Submission Saturdays. This was not something that was just good luck, but a determination on my part that has turned something I dreaded into a habit. A good one. And the results have payed off with more acceptances - getting  homes for my work. It makes writing so much more enjoyable when you know others will get to see your work.

We were able to reclaim our garage and park our car in it. This has been awesome this winter already.

I was also able to move back into my home office. I think it has been beneficial to my writing and writing related tasks.

Those are a few of the positive things but I confess there are things that have been struggles.  Sadness also seemed a be a theme this year as we lost three beloved pets. Our dog Mo and our cats Autumn, and Abby. Also, my son lost the his Mastiff named Church. I confess that I don't deal with the loss of pets well. They are family members. They also remind me of our own human frailty and mortality. Obviously I could really do without any more in 2014.

I confess that 2013 was also the year of binge TV for my wife and I. Yes, we did 8 seasons of 24 - all 196 episodes. Then we tackled Glee all past seasons and followed the current season. Then we too on Bones - watching all past seasons of it. Honestly some days we would do like a 6 episode marathon. No everyday, but I won't deny that it happened.

Now I could say that  that was a lot of time wasted. But honestly, most of that I confess to having enjoyed.

I've probably read more this year then most past as well. That can't be a bad thing.

As we get ready for the new year I've been busy assessing some things. Taking an inventory of what I would do the same this year and what I might do differently.

Besides writing I've started painting in acrylics and water colors. I'm not professing to be great at it but  it is relaxing and I'm hopeful that my skills will improve. I feel like it is just an extension of exercising the creative mind. I hope to keep up these activities in 2014.  I'm also wanting to start playing  my saxophone again. I've done a little in 2013 but  nothing consistent. So this is another creative activity I hope to infuse into my routine in the new year.

Submission Saturday was such a success it will continue.

I confess I did not get out  to read or to other readings nearly enough this year. This is something I need to be more committed to. There was a time when I was reading every month and sometime multiple times but that has been so long ago.

I need to work on some of my ties with other poets. I believe community is so very important for writers and I've not focused enough on this the past couple of years.

If this sounds very random, that's because my mind is feeling pretty random right now.  The thing is I have in my mind some things I want different, but I confess can't say that I have any defined new years resolutions.  
I suppose I have a few hours left...

Happy New Years to all of you!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Journal Bits.....

I've not done a slice of my journal post lately so I thought  I'd feature some bits since December 15...

  • 12-15-13 - New journal with clean passages for me to fill. Always a good deal of hope, anticipation and adrenaline (associated with).
  • 12-18-13 - There is the here and now with all the talk and no proximity. I am a party to this but not a part. 
  • 12-18-13 - "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." - Rachel Johnson from Notting Hill, Actually.
  • 12-25-13 - "Chekhov is the poet of melancholy and isolation and wishing  you were somewhere else than where you are." - Salman Rushdie
  • 12-25-13 - nigh comes we drive to the utmost extreme of the city - where the suburbs have ended and the city really isn't anymore.
  • 12-26-13 - Traditions seem to be my friend. I'm most comfortable in (the) throngs of tradition. I suspect this is a Capricorn thing. 
  • 12-27-13 - Distant train whistle/tracks rumble in my head/hot steel searing thoughts/cauterized-

Submission Saturday....

It's my last Submission Saturday of the year and I will be sending out material but also following the advise of these guys... how about you?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Publishing Poetry Need Not Be The Swimsuit Competition

It has seemed to me that I probably read more women poets then men. I thought I would explore that possibility by pulling a random sampling of poetry books from my library bookshelves. Nothing scientific about this sampling... I reached without looking and pulled. If it was a book about the craft of poetry or a critical review I sat it aside and continued until I had 10 books. I carried them to my desk and went through them to determine the gender of the author. The results were 4 men and 6 women. Actually I might have thought it would be more lopsided in favor of women but I guess I was pleasantly convinced that as a reader of the poetry arts, I'm probably  more balanced then I thought.

In case you are wondering, the titles and authors are as follows:

  1. Atlas by Katrina Vandenberg
  2. Wolf Watching by Ted Hughes
  3. On Days Like These - Dan Quisenberry
  4. Factory of Tears - Valzhyna Mort
  5. Small Knots - Kelli Russell Agodon
  6. Conamara Blues - John O'Donohue
  7. Nine Horses - Billy Collins
  8. The Seven Ages - Louise Gluck
  9. Forms of Intercession - Jane Pupek
  10. View With A Grain of Sand - Wislawa Szymbroska

Because in many instances I have multiple titles by the same author I was pleased that none of the random pickings resulted in more then one book by the same author. 

So the point of all this? I read Kelli Agodon's blog post today - Support Women Poets: No More Measuring Bathing Suits.   Kelli's piece centers around thoughts on discussions that have transpired as a result of  this article from the New York Daily News. Two comments made by men are as follows... "Does one write better with fewer clothes on?" To which another replies, "That's the first thing I thought of..."

I saw nothing wrong with the attire any of these women were wearing. Even so, they were photo shoots. Nothing suggests any of these women look like these photos pulling a late night witting session amid papers strewn about an a half full cup of now cold coffee. I could only hope no one would judge me on what I might look like at 1:00 a.m. working at my laptop. If Larry and Mitch ( presuming these are their real names) were the subjects of a news article would they show up disheveled? Would the photo journalist have gone with such pictures?  

It's pretty obvious that in the publishing world there are many hurtles that women writers have to overcome to get taken seriously.Any number of publication statistics will  on an increasing basis bear this out.

Larry and Mitch may have just been trying to be cute, I have no way of knowing. Still their words underscore a very real issue for women in many areas not just writing. That issue is being taken seriously. 

I've read many women writers who bring incredible power and voice to their work in poetry.  We are not a gender blind society any more then we are color blind. Sadly, there are avenues that greatly ignore many women poets. I think the same can be true of many older poets. Sure there are the Ashbery and Merwins, but there were not always older. I'm talking about older writers there are newer to writing but already past their prime. Ashbery and Merwin made names for themselves while they were still quite young. It's hard for a fifty or sixty year old poet that has only been writing a few years to maneuver the publishing landscape as well. 

But Agodon makes a valid point that some critics of women writers will find whatever avenue to discredit them that  they can. Too slutty, not attractive. If you don't like their work talk about  where you find it falls short. People, it's about the writing! I can't imagine many men who could stand to undergo the scrutiny many women go through over their appearance.  

I suppose over the years I've become a bit of a male feminist. I have 3 daughters, I wonder how that happened? But feminism isn't  radical. Not really. It's about sensibility. 

I love poetry. Well written poetry. Poetry that makes me thinks. That moves my inner core. I like it  regardless of the gender of the poet. I know many people don't like lists. But maybe I should do another  post on some of the poets that caught my fancy during 2013. I promise it would include men and women. 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Oxford Dictionary will provide you with a word that came into the being the year of your birth

Your OED birthday word is: 
frenemy, n.
Meaning: A person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry; a person who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy.
See the entry in the OED to see a quotation of its first-known usage

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lowering my expectations for the night

  Sinus issues really suck. I've taken taken my Claritan D.
Going to take a book and go read. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Overdue Books Edition

Well, it's been one Holiday Luncheon, 7 more days without Diet Coke, and a new journal refill since my last confession. It's off to the confessional.

Dear Reader:

This week seems strange for some reason and I confess I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's the goofy weather changes from one day to the next. Perhaps it's the holiday season craziness. Or the full moon. Perhaps it's none of these and I just haven't paid enough attention to realize what it is, but things seem different. I know every day is a new day but I am used to sort of patterns that cycle throughout the year. This just feels different and I can't say why for certain.

We had our office holiday luncheon today. I did good. I had a Caesar salad and Lasagna. I cut the Lasagna in half and brought half home. I passed on dessert in spite of the fact they had a something with maple, butter cream and some kind of crunchy topping. I confess that I'm wild about maple. I mean when you have maple how can you go wrong? Same with bacon. And it you happen to have maple and bacon together, OMG!

No word this week on any of my many submissions floating around out there. No good news, no bad news. Some have been out long enough it's starting to bug me. Do any of you get wacky crazy over waiting  for word on submissions?

I confess I have overdue library books but don't tell the librarian. I think they are 4 days overdue.
I kind of remember when I was in high school (yeah my long term memory is still pretty well intact) I think it was actually considered some kind of badge of honor to have overdue library books. It may have secretely been a control issue. I have these and if someone else wants these they have to wait until I'm ready for them to have them.  I know several librarians and at least one of you is going to scold me for this or maybe put out a contract on me.

That's about all I got this week.  If we were playing poker it would be such a lousy hand I'd have to bluff.
Hope you all have a happy and safe week. - See you next Tuesday!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't Stress...

The page is blank... what are you waiting for? 

Are You Writing Today?

A vacation day from my 8 to 5 job and yes, I will be in my home office writing today. Hey, it's my 6 to whatever job...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Confession Tuesday Cold Turkey Edition

Another Tuesday has come and is quickly vaporizing before me. Won't you follow me to the confessional?

Dear Reader:

It's been three more submissions, one more completed poem, a partially painted canvass and no Diet Coke since my last confession.

That's right, I stopped Diet Coke cold turkey the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. If you own shares in Coca-Cola I apologize. No doubt their profits have taken a dive. So tomorrow will make it two weeks. Don't get me wrong, I'm not professing that I have given up Diet Coke forever, but for now, I'm off it. This past weekend was hard - especially Sunday I could easily have caved in and stopped for a 54 oz. at Quick Trip and I confess I thought seriously about it, but I didn't give in.  I confess that so far I've only been a little cranky.

I will be taking a vacation day tomorrow. I pretty much have to or I will get truncated vacation this pay period. I confess this is a relatively common problem for me as I am usually close to my maximum allowable accumulation and I earn another 7.something  each pay period so when it gets like this I almost have to take a day weekly or I get back to the max in no time. This is a problem I know many would like to have but honestly, when I take a week or more off - it almost isn't worth the break when I come back to a desk fill of work.

It's funny the little things one comes to appreciate. When my daughter moved out into her own home it freed up space in the garage for me to park. It's crazy how much I have enjoyed having the car in the garage when I leave of a morning. I confess that sometimes the simplest things become meaningful.

Another dilemma (besides vacation days) is that I am reading a bunch of books all at once and I want to focus on one and finish but I can't decide which one to plow ahead into.  Most of the time I don't mind being between several books but for some reason I'm wanting to wrap up another one quickly. I think it has to do with finishing another one before the year is out. If I would just pick one and stick to it  I might have time to finish two. I tend to go in spurts. Sometimes I will read only about 30 minutes a day.  When I'm reading poetry books it's another story. If it's poetry that I'm really into I will sometimes finish it  in one day or two. I will often read them multiple times.

I painted some this week and I may paint some more tomorrow. I confess that I like it better then it likes me. I'm hopeful that with time I will improve. I think many different arts complement each other and lend to our overall creative quotient. Sometimes thinking about a picture or certain music seems to open up my writing possibilities.

I confess that I'm confessed out and I'm off to read.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Mag 197: Aerial

From The Guardian, Eyewitness


Copious triumph overhead
the conquest of sky by sea gulls

who blend into the blue gray skies
and abruptly are everywhere.

A sneak attack on the beach head.
A monumental event – bombarding

the shoreline with an ugly grace.
Only God could engineer aerodynamics

on such a gangling bird. Feathered wings
on a lunchbox.

Michael Allyn Wells

The Mag 197

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Book Loving Fool Edition

Dear Reader:

Tuesday has come and that means it's confession time. So if you'll join me, I'm off to the confessional.

It's been one week, a four day holiday, one smoked turkey, and three new poetry books since my last confession.

It's been a strange week because I was out of the office between Thursday and Monday  so when I returned to the office today it was really like a Monday to me. A super Monday at that. Monday I scheduled off to take my mother for outpatient eye surgery and the preceding Thursday - Sunday were Thanksgiving  holiday extended weekend. I confess being out that long makes it hard to want to go back, but being off all those days adds anxiety as I am constantly thinking about work rolling in and piling up on my desk. As hard as it was to put all that anxiety out of my mind, I was pretty good at finding some level of relaxation.

I confess I stayed from the fray of black Friday shopping withe the exception of going to Half Price Book Store 30 minutes before there 7AM opening. Stood in like with other book loving fools to get a $5 gift card, a tote bag and a chance to win a $100 gift card. Needless to say, I did not get the $100 card, but I did get some good deals on poetry books and of course the $5 card.

I confess that my wife and I love going to book stores. Call us weird but we sometimes plan a bookstore trip as a

I confessed I saw what I thought would be a really good movie to watch on Net Flicks and recommended it it my wife not realizing it was French with subtitles. The movie The Intouchables turns out to be about a rather stuffy well-to do invalid in France who finds his life enriched by a black man from the Paris ghettos. Surprisingly after it started and we realized it was subtitled she agreed to stick with it and it turned out to be a very enjoyable movie. Of late, there has been a bit of a joke about my movie choices for movie night.  I think my movie choice privileges have been perilously closed to revocation.

On thanksgiving I scored both turkey wings this year. I don't know if I no one else really wanted them or if they were afraid to grab them for fear of my wrath. Let it be known I did not smack down two wings on Thanksgiving. No, I had one as a leftover on the weekend. I totally believe the wings are the best part of a turkey or chicken for that matter. If someone were to ask me to describe my idea of the best hybrid turkey of chicken it look like two big wings on legs with a beak.

Well, I'm about confessed out. Wishing you all a safe week ahead and all the happiness you can handle.



Monday, December 02, 2013

Lines That Caught My Eye

These are a few lines that I came in contact with this week that could have come from poems or interviews, articles, etc. - but in each case they caught my attention for one reason or another.  It may be because the lines are particularly profound in my own eyes, or because they are lines (we all have them) that we wish we had written, or because they particularly speak to me about writing and poetry.

1.  I want to move figuratively, as waves caress the thoughtless shore - John Ashberry 

2  Our job as poets is to make new what may be old and unoriginal. - Deborah Ager

3. I'm in the mood for a bust-up at the farmer's market, Rachel Maddow is so over me, and you too Pacific Northwest, admit it. - Melissa Broder 

4. A thing too perfect to be remembered: stone beautiful only when wet. - Jane Hirshfield 

5. I am a part of all that I have met. To you, all, whether or not you know, having wandered into the tissue of my life, and out again, you have left a momentary part of you which I will work into something. -Sylvia Plath - Journals

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Confession Tuesday on Thanksgivukkah

I'm cheating here a bit - It's been a week and two days since my last confession so I'm combining my Confession Tuesday with My Thanksgiving Blessings (of what am I thankful for) and because it's Hanukkah as well a tribute to my Jewish friends.

Dear Reader:

I confess that I almost did my Confession Tuesday on time but a part of me was holding back to do it on thanksgiving. Another part of me was feeling kind of yucky so it was just as easy to put it off as not. Okay, it was actually easier at the time. (this is a confession post).

I have Type II diabetes and after battling with some higher numbers lately I saw my doctor and we changed one of my oral medications for a three week trial. The change has in fact brought my numbers down dramatically and on a couple occasions I've had major drops in the numbers to critical levels. So physically my body has been through a lot readjusting this week, That's on top of an especially busy week at the office. I was in the middle of one of those yucky feeling  moods Tuesday night so that made the decision seem so easy to wait with the confession.

Thanksgiving is a difficult holiday for me because it is so food orientated.  I recall one year maybe the first or second year post diagnosis I left the table in the middle of the meal in tears. That hasn't happened since, but I confess that I do find it hard and at times I have thrown caution to the wind.

As I have gotten older I've come to realize why diabetes is a silent killer. You can go through of life absorbing  much of the discomfort and at some point realize the toll it has taken on the body.

So I confess, that today I want to look at Thanksgiving beyond the food. I want to look at it as a break from the office work. I'm thankful for both my job and breaks from it.

As I will see all but one of my children today, I am thankful for my family. I'm thankful for there tolerance (after all I'm a poet),  their love, their support.

I'm thankful for our family pets - they are a wonderful example of unconditional love.

I'm thankful for health-care and I confess that I look forward to the day when we as a nation truly recognize access to quality health care as not something only for the privileged.

I'm thankful that I have found writing as a source of strength. I'm thankful for my wife Cathy for so many reasons, not the least of which is how supportive she is of my writing.

I'm thankful for many writer-friends, some local and some not so local that also provide support and encouragement. I confess that I truly believe that writers need other writers.

I could go on with a list of so many blessings that's I'd be here all day. I think I can sum much of it up that I realize that I was born into a land of great abundance and wealth. While not all Americans are rich economically, we do have so much more then the rest of the world. There are others ways to be rich, and I am thankful that my family and I do experience many of them daily.

To all my friends, I wish you all the blessings of a happy life. To my Jewish friends - a very happy Hanukkah.

Be safe - have a lovely day, and moderation to all!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sing To My Eyes....

“Painting is the silence of thought and the music of sight.”  ~ Orhan Pamuk

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Headless Edition

Dear Readers:

It's been one week, a week of blowing leaves, naked trees, feeling tired and losing my head all since my last confession. 

I confess that  several nights this past week I came home from work and crashed into bed and slept for a while before I could do anything. I've battled some high blood sugar numbers which I suspect had something to do with this. I made a change on my medication and things seem better now. Numbers have been excellent today. 

I do think the combination of higher numbers and the normal seasonal blues have cut back on my functionality post work. I've have very busy/productive days at the office but as soon as I arrive home it just seems like it's been easier to just let it all go to hell. If anything has suffered, it's been my writing at home. 

Twice this week I confess that I basically  lost my head after work. Monday I got on the highway and was almost all the way home and I realized I left the bag in which I keep my medicine and my glucose monitor in at the office. I turned around and drove all the way back downtown to retrieve it.  Tonight, I was in the parking lot and I thought I left my phone on my desk, so I trudged back in and was going up on the elevator when I realized that when I had felt me pocket and realized it was not there I did not take into account it was in my other hand with my planner. At least I didn't make a trip like Monday, I just returned to the parking lot and went home. 

As you can see, at quitting time my head has truly shut down the past two nights.  I'm debating  if I will even write tonight after  this post. 

The K.C. Chiefs lost this weekend to the Denver Broncos. A fact that has has sent many at work over the edge. Some feel the the team that was 9-0 for the season is now doomed. It's amusing the fatalism that many people in this city have. It's kind of like the team has been so bad the last couple of years that they can't believe the season is for real. I refuse to get high or low over this situation. I confess I prefer to remain indifferent. I'm like the poster child for apathy. Am I bad for this? 

Till next week.... hang on to your head. Don't be like me.   

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Mag 194

The Letter

The nights are cold without you.
The days much too long.

Distance is measured
by lustful thoughts-
I cannot help.

I send this not to guilt you
but because my lips can reach you
no other way.

I have sealed the envelope
with the dampness of my tongue in hope-
and the stamp a breath & kiss.

Michael A. Wells

The Mag 194

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Case Against Broad Government Surveillance

For a while I thought I might be coming at the matter of government surveillance from a different perspective then a lot of people. I read comments from others who say they are a little concerned but they say they just always figure the government is listening in anyway.

I'm a product of the Vietnam generation and we came to learn that President Nixon had agents going to peace rallies and document participants. Of course their efforts were remedial by surveillance standards today but the fact is they kept file on people they considered a threat to this country because they exercised their constitutional right to assembly to protest our involvement in Vietnam. Think what he could have done with the technology available today? I'm relatively confident that Nixon was so paranoid of average Americans that he would be salivating over what the government is doing today to you and I.

I was both encouraged and discouraged by a PEN America survey of American writers that found 85% are worried about government surveillance and 73% have never been more worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are today. The encouraging part is writers are paying attention. This is a good thing.  Of course the concern doesn't alleviate the erosion of privacy. And beside from the concern there is another down side... it is impacting how writers conduct themselves.

The PEN survey indicates the 28% or nearly a third have curtailed or avoided social media activities and another 12% have seriously considered doing the same, all because of the threat of surveillance. And nearly one quarter (24%) have deliberately  avoided certain topics in phone and email conversations. Another 9% have seriously considered this avenue.

One chilling effect this is having on writers is 16%  have avoided writing or speaking  about a particular topic. Another 11% seriously considered it.

The report goes on....

  • 16% refrained from conducting searches on the Internet or visiting websites on topics they consider controversial.
  • 13% have taken steps to disguise or cover their digital footprints. 
  • 3% have actually declined opportunities to meet in person or electronically with persons how might be deemed security threats by the government. 
In each of these instances there were measurable numbers who seriously considered taking these same drastic steps.

It troubles me that writers, be they journalists or or in the literary arts are finding themselves self-censoring over fear from our own government.

The 4th Amendment, freedom of the press is necessary to assure the survival of the republic against the kinds controls the brought to power fascist governments in Germany, the Soviet Union and China in years past. These are some of the same kinds of extremes we are seeing in many middle-eastern countries as well.

I am not convinced that a more secure America is one in which we are all under the watchful eyes of the government. That is an awesome power and one that can very easily lead to dangers in our democracy right here at home.

The press, the arts were all under watchful eyes in  Nazi Germany. The government controlled the flow of information and yes even the arts. Knowledge is a powerful freedom for people. The control of knowledge too is powerful but in subverts the liberties of people.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Edition

 I'm off to the confessional...

Dear reader:

Two weeks it's been since I was last here. I confess I cannot recall what was going on two weeks ago when I should have been do this , I just know I wasn't here.

It's funny but for some reason I think of the confessional like it's some kind of penalty box. Like in hockey. God would look funny in a black and white striped shirt and black slacks and a whistle ring on his hand, patrolling the rink of life and pretty bad assed on skates.

So I'm in the penalty box until I spill it all. Two weeks worth.

I confess that I could be a glutton for Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Cereal - Limited Edition by Kellogg. I mean this shit is good. Good sized hunks of chocolate, almonds lightly sweetened corn type flakes and chocolate flakes as well. I could easily eat a sinful amount of it but I haven't so far. This is good right?

I confess that recently it seems that I started looking as everyone else as in one age group and me in another. (I'm in the old group) I don't know what this is about. I confess that aging has always been stressful topic for me but it's like as I slowly got older I kept moving the goal posts a little further and so I would think to myself "you are getting older" I would at the same time dismiss it as "well isn't everyone?" That was my fall back. So what, everyone else is getting older, we are just all doing it together. I don't know it this evolves from something in a conversation with my wife recently or what  but somehow I feel like while I wasn't looking  someone did a sneaky and  brought the goal post back to me.  I like to believe you are only as old as you feel. But right now, I feel I'm there. (sigh)

I confess that the K.C. Chiefs are 9-0 and I could care less.

I confess that I've been more diligent about my writing since being back in my office at home. I also confess I probably waste too much time on Facebook and Twitter, still I do find at times that I see things of value on there. Maybe not enough for the time I'm on though. I think it tends to feed my ADD.

I confess as the news of the typhoon that hit the Philippine Islands this weekend seems beyond human comprehension.

I confess I thought  I heard Anne Sexton speak to me this weekend. I wasn't profound... it was something like, "It's all about the words..."  But maybe that's more profound than I think.

Monday I was biding time waiting for a furnace repairman at my daughter's house by reading a Sharon Olds book of poems when I read something that struck me as so perfectly written that I sank in the couch and thought  what on earth am I doing?  I texted a poet friend and explained that I had read this poem and had written a lot lately but all of a sudden I was like why? I felt so totally inadequate. I confess the friend had good advice and I'm working on it.

I confess that I should be due for an acceptance or a rejection any day now. I can handle whichever.

I confess it's 91 days and 2 hours until pitchers and catchers report to spring training if anyone besides me cares.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Mag 193

Danseuse ajustant sa bretelle, 1895-96, Edgar Degas

 The Ballerina's Private Warm Up

She feels the constriction 
of a cocoon and the solitude- 
therein lies the crystalline craving 
to spin herself free.

A twirl to unwind- to whip-up
the motion to unclog the black and white
all around her-  she wishes for wind

she wishes for a spin-off of gale force
to extricate her from this morose.

She rises on her toes - shaky first
then in a solid stance her arms rise 
overhead with poise a momentary pause.

There is no music, except that alone
in her head- the composition
comes with spontaneity 

Is a powerful turn 
she thrusts herself into a running leap,
long legs scissor in defiance of gravity
then another, and a third
with a solid land- quickly
rising again to a pointe

she spins again 
shaking free of the grayness
her heart pounding
her chest heaves 
as she drops down
arms collapse to the floor
head bowing supplication...

Michael A. Wells


Saturday, November 09, 2013

In Memory of Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton November 9,1928 - October 4, 1974

All day I've built
a lifetime and now
the sun sinks to 
undo it.
The horizon bleeds
and sucks its thumb.
From The Fury of Sunsets

Some time back I selected Anne Sexton as my Dead Poet Mentor.  Sometimes I lose sight of her in all the everydayness that bleeds over into my life. Once in a while I've been hung up on a poem that I'm rewriting and I'll ask myself, What Would Anne Do? (WWAD) If nothing comes to me right away I'll go to my poetry library and pull out my copy of The Complete Poems - Anne Sexton and just open it wherever my thumb takes me and start reading. Sometimes something will speak out to me about what I'm working on.. Other times I just read. But in the end, her voice leaves me feeling that I'm not along. That this is the road all poets go down. Sometimes we struggle for what to say. It isn't easy. Did we ever think it was supposed to be?   

Let The Day Begin

Meeting the morning sun along with a crow that can be distinctly heard from my office. I don't know if he is celebrating the new day or hearkening me to get my butt in here and start my day.

I came home last night exhausted and ate and we settled in to watch a movie and called it a night.  I do feel an energy building slowly like a steam engine in my body and I have the knowledge that having a three day weekend is an opportunity; one I intend to use wisely.

So I start the day... Submission Saturday planning to get my submissions out and get some writing done.  I've got some older stuff I need to work on.  It was Justice Brandeis who said, "There is no great writing, only great rewriting," something I would do well to always keep in the back of my mind as a guide.

As I post this... I say, let the day begin...

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Poetry of Baseball

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops." ― A. Bartlett Giamatti

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Mag 192

Resurrection Reunion 2 - Sir Stanley Spencer

Resurrection Dance

They shake out bugs
the webs
the claustrophobia

the ground  above
has opened
dark loam scattered
among sharp green blades

They link hands
rediscovering touch
 kick up their heels
circle and shout
they are all out!

Michael A. Wells

The Mag

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Finding the Poems You Never Knew You Had

Think of it as a Kick-Starter. The dynamic writing duo of Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano have created a tool that that can prime the ink of any writer. The Daily Poet is chucked full of opportunity, just add yourself to the mix.

The idea for this book came about as a result of Agodon and Silano sharing writing prompts over a period of time. Recognizing the value of this practice to each of their own creative efforts they decided to produce a volume of prompts that will guide a writer through 365 days of spark that can ignite many new poems in the process.

I don’t know if it was planned this way but the timing of the release of The Daily Poet is perfect. In advance of the holidays this book is an ideal gift for the writers in your life. In addition, it is excellent fuel for anyone who might be looking for a realistic approach to a new year’s resolution to write more. With this book you can commit to daily writing and never worry as you sit down – “How am I going to start?”

Each prompt is a trigger to something inside, something waiting to be told.  I’ve reviewed the contents of this book  and tried several of the prompts myself. Any writer regardless of level of experience can find value in these exercises. While there are so many wonderful ideas among them,  a few of my favorite prompts area:

  • January 12 – Letter To An Artist
  • July 27 – Grateful Dead
  • October 13 – Who’s Afraid of Any Author?
  • December 8 – Letter to An Abstract Noun
  • May 25 – Taboo You
  • January 22 – Couplet Lost

Of course you’ll have to get your own copy of this prompt packed book to see for yourself the details of these fabulous exercises and no doubt you will have your own favorites.

I see this as an investment in writing exercises for many years over as you can use the same prompt at different times and find it will take you different places.  It's my recommendation that you add it to your own library and enjoy the journey.

The Daily Poet
Authors: Kelli Russell Agodon & Martha Silano
Published by: Two Sylvias Press

Available in paperback and ebook

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Confession Tuesday on Wednesday

Dear Reader:

It’s been 8 days, two rejection letters, a flat tire and a novel finished reading since my last confession. I’m cranking this out at lunch time so let’s going to the confessional.

I confess I’ve over the unplanned expense of a new tire. I was over the rejection letters as soon as I read them. I don’t dwell on work rejected. I always consider that in order to have work accepted I am going to get rejections so I expect that I will be told no many times and that getting a no means there is a yes coming soon.

This time of year is odd because I enjoy the cooler weather. I don’t like extreme cold but we get some pretty nice fall days. Then there are the rainy ones like today when the coolness and the overcast skies tend to bring you down a bit. I confess days like today I want to stay home and under the covers. Of course I don’t do that but the thought is nice.

It seems like any more it’s always cold and rainy on Halloween here so if today Xeroxes itself for tomorrow it will be right in style. I confess that while I realize Halloween has become almost as much an adult holiday as it is for children, I or we’ve never every gotten into the adult dress-up party mode and so the day seems rather remote for us.We have dressed up the dogs a time or two but that’s usually been with the help of one or another of my daughters.

Speaking of help and daughter, I left work last night to go to the new home of one of my daughters to help her with the hookup of a washer. I had only been to the house twice and one of those times I did not drive and I didn’t come from downtown so I was trying to get there as direct and quickly as I could in rush hour traffic. I used voice input to put the address into my phone GPS and what should have been the number 68 was understood to be sixty or 60.  I confess I was nearly to the 60 destination before I realized it did not hear 68. I pulled over and restated the address. Again it read it as 60. I tried again annunciating v e r y   s l o w l y and it heard something else altogether that was not a number. I confess at this point I was about as angry as one can get with an inanimate object. This was disturbing to me as I realized how unbecoming it was. No one else was in the car but it did incense my own sensibilities that I was so angry over this. I finally typed it in after numerous voice attempts all failed. I though what a jerk this person is in the car…  I confess he’s not coming along next time.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Mag 191

le Jardin, 1962, by Max Ernst 

Cartographers Woman

He is one given to meticulous detail,
appreciates boundaries, and topography.

He has an eye for cityscapes, rolling hills-
the arches and clefts.

He sees beauty in the world
where others see the mundane.

Everywhere the lines and curves 
converge for him and they come to life.

A rivers path carved out of the land
over time reveals swaying hips. 

In rolling hills he sees the waves of hair
falling over shoulders and too the fullness

of breasts and the cleavage that runs between
the rounded tops that softens out into the larger plains.

In the contours of it all he sees her face, 
her long white legs and feels her every bit alive.

He believes he is the luckiest man for he sees
his woman is everywhere. 

Michael A. Wells

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Safe Place Edition

Dear Reader...

It's been one rejection, one home office reclamation and a week since my last confession.

This morning I stopped for a Diet Coke in route to work and when I cam back into the parking lot and entered my car I looked up and saw the Safe Place sign. I confess I don't know if these exist in other metropolitan areas but here certain public establishments are designated as such primarily for that children facing eminent harm within the community have a very public place to retreat to for safety. The idea is marvelous but that's not my point here.

I confess that as I looked at this sign it caused me to consider the reason we even need a safe places. The sad fact of the matter is that society is so saturated with things that pose significant threats to the safety of everyone.

For instance, many times I see people who are so short on patience with others in stores, while driving, at sporting events, there is a degree of hostility that is so potentially volatile that these very public places seem to breed unhealthy conduct between persons who often have little or no connection in life but decide to spew forth impatience that sparks rudeness and sooner or later people are in each others faces, flipping each other off, and now with most states having concealed carry somebody draws a gun.

Guns seem to be everywhere these days. Children get access to guns at home and tote them to school and the next thing you know we are reading in the paper that three-four or  maybe a dozen or more are dead in some school.

I confess that this sign this morning really brought to mind how many places that are not safe.  We hear of gunmen in Offices, Malls, Theaters and this says nothing of domestic violence in our homes where the perpetrator and the victim actually know each other.

I confess I think of places like Syria and Afghanistan and wonder what they would think about safe zones or houses that people could flea to to safety. Wouldn't they all be there? We aren't a nation at war with an occupying army... or are we? Have we become our own enemy?

What is safe? Where is it? I confess this is becoming  unclear. We are a terribly polarized nation. For a country that is supposed to be a shining example of freedom, so many are ready to tell everyone else what is right and what is wrong. Who we can marry, who we can worship, what personal health care their employees should have. Where we have to pray.

I confess that I have no answer to the question, how do we become a caring and unified nation again? Maybe we never were. Perhaps this nation was all smoke and mirrors. But I do know that it is too easy for people to get their hands on firearms.

I confess that next week I will still likely be wondering about the irony of an America that needs to designate safe places for children to run to. And where do the victim of domestic violence go, where to the children trapped in a room with a gunman go, or a Shopping Mall or a late night movie at a theater?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reclaiming My Office

The past few weeks I have been in the process of reclaiming my office.  This was vacated when my daughter Meghan and her husband Brandon came here post college until they could get work and save for a place of their own.

Note the San Francisco Giants banner - re-personalizing it one of the first acts that has to occur. Actually I plan for everything to be pretty functional by tonight.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Confession Tuesday - On the ledge edition

Dear Readers:

It's been a week since my last confession. I've impressed myself that I'm here on time.

This past week I stepped out on a ledge so to speak.  I've been toying with trying watercolors and acrylics. I painted in oils when I was a teenager but not since them and we are talking  oh about  #@ years.  So I've had material that I purchased about a month ago and I've wavered back and forth between starting with watercolor at one point and acrylic and finally back to watercolor. I don't really have a reason that I can put my finger one for what I decided to start with, but I'm pretty sure that the wavering was simply procrastination to stave off the fear that I had of actually putting  the brush to the paint and then onto the medium.

I confess that when I pulled out the material the week and finally started, I felt a tiny bit of success. Not so much in what I did (generally I am just working on some technique exercises) but I felt some success in meeting my fear head on. This is a good thing. No?

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit unhappy with my writing these past few days and I confess that I am wondering if it is due to divided attention. I suppose it could be, or it could be me just trying whip up another reason to engage in fear.

I confess that I ready to continue to tackle my fears this next week and not let them own me. I will continue to work on some painting and I will write and write and write through this period until I again feel that  what I'm getting on the page is worthy.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

MAG 190

Dog by scavangercat808
My Parallel Universe
another world out there
framed in my view— 
a world of ruckus
fast moving cars
I can chase
only in my imagination 
a postman strolls unflinched
oblivious to my bark
children chasing balls
will pass and give a nod
hey you they offer
no hand to pat my head 
there are noises
I can’t even identify
people   cats   birds
smells the permeate
my universe 
I know these things exist
all beyond my reach

Michael A. Wells

The Mag

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Confession Tuesday - The Naked Truth Edition

Tuesday has come... Hey, I'm on time!  It's been a long day so Let's head to the confessional.

Dear Reader:

It's been a long day because I left the office and drove to northland looking for a PetsMart before going to a poetry group meeting. Then I made a stop by my office again before returning home.

When I left work I went looking for a PetsMart that I have never been to before. The driving instructions looked easy enough but  the roads were a nightmare, with roundabouts and loops that went in circles.  It was during this state of mental confusion that I realized I had left my cell phone at the office. At this point  I am both stressed that I can't find the pet store AND that I don't have my phone.  While I don't consider myself a legitimate techie I felt like I was naked without my cell.  I considered driving back to the office but that would make me late for poetry so with a big old sigh, I moved on arriving at the group meeting  on time.

Did I put the missing phone behind me once we started? Of course not! Doing that would be a healthy rational thing to do. I confess it is time like this that my body screams stress!!!!!!!!!!

When we were finished, I hit a drive through to get  some food and then to my office. I go through security and take the elevator up and onto a pitch black floor where I play bind mans bluff all the way to the door, insert the key after several tries I'm in. I retrieve my phone that was right where I left it, tethered to my  PC to charge. With the PC off, it was not charging and by now was dead.

I could have put the phone out of my mind during the meeting. I could have even gone one home, the phone would be there awaiting me in the morning but no, I'm not that kind of person. I confess that sometimes I wish I could be that person.

I don't leave my phone behind often and this is a good thing because it truly unnerves me.  I confess that  I know it would probably be a positive thing if I left my phone behind intentionally and allowed myself to simply take a deep breath and let it roll off me.

Do you  have something you find it hard to be without?  I'd love to hear about what leave you feeling  naked.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Mag 189

Photo credit crilleb50
The ticking-
the constant ever after ticking.
I sit for this
I sit for that
it weighs one the mind
it bends at the heart
of it all, I see no reason
I hear no rhyme.
I do not cherish this passage
of time-
after which I know nothing of.
The grass it grows
and flowers and blooms
and goes to seed-
My knees ache
all the while I ruminate;
then conjugate things
of despair-
things I remember
that brought me here-
those that were painful
and some that were dear.
this ticking continues
I suppose that is good-
it's all quite foggy now
like I knew would.  
Michael A. Wells

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Confession Tuesday - The Delayed Edition

Yes, it's Wednesday and I acknowledge, even confess if you will, that I missed the appropriate day for confession Tuesday. Let's get down to business.

Dear Reader,

It's been Two GI prep bottles, 4 glasses of water, a lot of discomfort, a day of strictly liquid diet, one upper, one lower GI scope, one government shut-down, the last episode of 24 and no acceptances and no rejections since my last confession.

Yesterday was a day if prep for a double GI scope which occurred this morning. It's probably been 10 years since I've done one of these before and I forgot how much I hate the prep for them. First there was the liquid diet. It went exceedingly well till oh about 3:30 yesterday and at that point I was craving  something to eat. I didn't know what I wanted (specifically) but I wanted something besides bullion, Gatorade, or White Grape Juice. I might add it's a real juggle to keep your blood sugar numbers steady on a liquid diet if you're diabetic.

On the way home I stopped to pick up a prescription for my wife and was introduced to rows of Halloween candy on displays. I confess I could  inhale the sweet smell of Candy Corn. I was week at my knees with want for it, but of course I was a good boy.  Throughout the evening there would be other foods to crave but today I still crave Candy Corn.

So I've moved past the prep and procedure and am getting back into the swing of things and will return to office tomorrow. I confess I've looked at my office email and can already tell I have a challenging day ahead.

This week our family  lost another dog. My son's Mastiff named Church died without any kind of warning. My son found him dead and his body was still warm. Church was one of Mike's dogs that I would dog sit from time to time when he was away. Church and Hoss were my writing buddies when I would stay over to sit. Both have passed.

I confess that  I'm still emotionally a bit tinder as a result  of the passing of our own dog Mo recently and the news of Church added to my  broken heart. We are dealing with some health issues for my Dachshund Barry  who has been diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and requires special enzymes added to his food in order to derive nourishment from it. He had lost  lots of weight but is coming back slowly.  It's tough when your pets are getting along in age.

The arrival of October  has been hard to believe. I confess that it  sort of sneaked in under my radar. So three fourths of the year is gone. I can honestly say that I already consider this year one of my best for writing and publishing. I believe much of the success is due to my strict adherence to Submission Saturday.
I've sent out  more material this year them any since I've been doing this and the results clearly tell me that if I get my work out there, it  will find a home.

I confess that I am not ready to put a nail in  2013 yet. I've still got nearly three months for icing on the cake.
Two poems that were recently accepted will appear in print in January so I feel like am already loading the bases for next year. Anyway, I confess that it's nice to feel like something is going right and I am ready to raise the bar for the future.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Sometimes Words Just Won't Do

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous. ~Ingrid Bergman

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Will Extremes End The GOP Control Of The House?

I'm going to take a little time and a little space here to veer a bit from poetry. I owe this juncture to the likes of Representative John Duncan (R-Tenn) and Representative John Fleming (R-La) in the House and Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (T-TX) who have been hell bent on playing blackmail with the health care of Americans and risking the stability of a fragile American economy.  

The question I have to ask is this... Are the House Republicans about to go the way of the dinosaur?  As easy as it would be for me to say what do I care...  the bigger question is why do these Republicans wish to crash the stability of this nation's economy or play with the health of millions of Americans. These are the two options they are sending to the President. 

I realize that not all Republicans are happy with that extremes have been brought to the table by those who make up the Tea Party members of congress, but the House GOP leaders have failed to show any sign of leadership in this instance. We are talking about members of Congress that should well recall that impact the last government shut down had on their own party.. The obvious is that the Tea Party members of Congress want something that has nothing to do with keeping the government funding and they are willing  to piss on everyone else to get what they want. They really are the Pee Party... and they just want to piss on the Affordable Health Care Act. 

In this weekend's actions the Republican House added these extremes to a straight up and down government funding bill:
  • de-fund the Affordable Care Act
  • repeal a tax on medical devices that helps finance the health care law until December 15 in order to delay Affordable Health Care Act
  • to allow employers to opt out of women's preventative health care coverage including contraceptives
Quite frankly I'm tired of people in government that are acting like spoiled children.If they want to act like spoiled children within the parameters of their own family life that's up to them, but imposing this behavior on the rest of our lives has no place our government. 

The Pee Party Republicans have a one track mind. Stopping "Obamacare" as they like to refer to it. This nation had this debate and it is over. I have been fortunate to have health care coverage for many years now. Delay or repeal is not going to directly impact me,  but I remember the days when my  family and I did not have health coverage. This country has come a long way to get to this point and I seriously am tire of the lies and efforts to stop this from happening. I've heard some members of Congress encourage people not to sign up for coverage. What self-centered assholes. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Removing Obstacles - September 2013

anticipation contains an element of doubt
they agreed not to shake hands
agreement is good - right?

some will always want failure
act quickly - but not too fast
it seems peace often is left
to some degree of chance

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday Confession on Wednesday

Dear Reader:

It's been 3,657 coughs (more or less) one dysfunctional DVR, another child out of the nest, 2 1/2 boxes of Kleenex, one Minsky's Pizza, another season of 24, and two new light bulbs since my last confession.

I confess that I've driven myself over the edge coughing and blowing my nose this week and very likely others around me at the office as well. I'm so ready for this to be over, especially since I have a GI scope next week and I don't want to have to delay it.

We had Minsky's Pizza tonight. Usually I would really enjoy a Minsky pizza. I confess I was so-so about it tonight. Cathy felt the same. She felt there was not quite enough hamburger on it, I felt it was too limp. I confess I do not care for limp pizza.

If I sound cranky, I might be. I mean feeling crappy has been the order of the day since oh, Friday afternoon. I'm thinking that tomorrow when I get up I am going to disavow this sinus crude. I confess that this approach is an exercise of mind over matter (or mucus) but I'm ready to try a fresh approach... a positive one.

Our DVR is not working tonight. it actually stopped doing what a DVR does yesterday. I need to get to Comcast tomorrow to replace it.( New season of Glee starts tomorrow night.)

I'm looking for a positive charge all-around. I'm coming into the blue season. The time when I often feel down even if I'm not feeling sick. It's time to do a head check and try and move forward with a positive frame of mind no matter how things are going. So here's to a upbeat week ahead!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weekend Postmortem

Thursday and Friday were especially grueling days at work. As a result I was so looking froward to the weekend to relax and recharge my batteries. But Friday, my work day was so intense I was only vaguely aware how lousy I felt till I arrived home and the rest of the world  stopped moving a warp speed.

Friday evening it became crystalline that I was being held prisoner by a sinus-mucus-drainage-headache-burning chest, loss of appetite thingy that kicked my ass into bed.

Saturday came, more of the same. Lots of fluids, medicine, Kleenex, hacking (I know, we are getting a little too graphic) but my weekend that I needed to be normal was anything but normal.

By Saturday evening I attempted to work on an essay that I had due but my eyes hurt so much that reading was simply too frustrating and I gave up on the essay that was due by 6AM Sunday morning eastern time.
This left me sick and in a bad mood.

Mid-day Sunday I was feeling better but not especially steady or energetic but I ventured out to help load a trailer with varying furnishings of my daughter Shannon and my wife and I drove them to her new house where the two of them mostly unloaded. We returned and a second load was taken over by Shannon and my wife. I again crashed.

Of course the better part of the weekend is over. My eyes are able to read with out adding to a headache and although my nose is now running like a faucet, I am setting up and able to do this post on my laptop. Clearly the weekend is a lost cause and emotionally I will head off to work tomorrow mostly feeling like no weekend ever happened, of if it did it wasn't  one worth remembering.

 Also lost on this weekend was my submission Saturday. I've been so diligent about it for so many months it feels like another something important is unresolved. I suppose I could try and crank out something yet tonight but I really have been giving a lot of thought to these submissions and I don't want to do something half-assed just for the sake of doing it. Perhaps I can do something during the week to catch up.

I'm nursing a 52 ounce diet coke (which is half gone) and thinking I need to stop and do a breathing treatment. Maybe tackle a little reading before I go to bed and see what the world looks like on the other side.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Confession Tuesday - An Emotional Knot

Tuesday night... It's time to confess again and it's getting late so let's head to the confessional.

Dear Readers:

It's been a long seven days, an emotional seven days, a worrisome seven days. It's also been a week in which I had two poems accepted for publication and another poem hanging next to an awesome painting at the Albrecht-Kemper Museam of Art that inspired the work of art.

I've just come from a Royals - Indians baseball game. I was a bit conflicted because both teams are within reach of the wild-card for post season and the Indians are my second favorite baseball team behind the San Francisco Giants. But the home town Royals have not had a winning season like forever. I wanted to see a good game and confess that I kinda was pulling for the Tribe but wanted it to be a good game - not some blow-out. The Indians came from behind and won 5 to 3. Wahoo!

Some weeks from one Tuesday to the next seem to zoom by and I wonder where it all went. A week ago we were saying goodbye to our beloved dog Moe. I confess this continues to be hard for me to deal with but I'm somewhat sobered by the fact that our long hared dachshund Berry is sick as well. He has been shedding weight like crazy and after some blood tests it appears he suffers from EPI or Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. I confess that the emotions related to Moe's death and the decline of Berry offer a very rocky emotional ride. The loss, the fear of losing another, coupled with cautious optimism  that there is something that can be done for Berry and yet the ongoing struggles to get him eating again and keeping food down. It's this mixture of emotions that has stretched this week like taffy, and me at times to a breaking point.

Friday two good things came my way and I confess that they have helped keep me sane.  The opening of the Jennifer Rivera Exhibit "Between the Lines" Pictures with poetry at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. A poem of mine shares wall space next to one of Jennifer's pieces of art. I am honored to have a poem that is part of this exhibit.  The other positive note is that I heard on Friday that two of my poems were accepted for publication in January in a venue that I've never been in before. This offsets the rejection I received this week.

I confess that sometimes I have be open to looking for the little things. Just as I will be looking for little signs of improvement in Berry this coming week.