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