Sunday, December 31, 2017

Confession Tuesday on Sunday 2017 Wrap - Wild Things Edition

Dear Reader:

I'm overdue for Confession Tuesday so I thought I'd get in one more confession before the new year.

It has been a dip into arctic temperatures, one DNA sample, one visit from fat man in red (not intended to be a disparaging comment on physical looks - just a plain old adjective), one homemade Giants card from a poet friend, one lost diamond stud earring (in the house) one new bookcase in and an old one out, many more claims there is no  collusion with Russer, many more indicators otherwise, one dog escape from the backyard, some stuffy and crusty nose stuff, an immeasurable amount of stress, some weird dreams, three weeks and 5 days since my last Confession Tuesday.

I confess that the end of the year is always fraught with a tugging and pulling over resolutions for the coming year. This year is no exception.  I find in part that resolutions for a new year seem to automatically come with the caveat that they generally are broken. So, once again making resolutions seems like an exercise in futility.

Frederick Nietzsche points out that the major distinction between humans and other animals is the ability to make promises.   He notes they are often broken but insists we should keep making them least we lower our selves to the animal level. It's an interesting argument but one that only adds the stress of not only keeping your promise but uphold the decency of humankind by making them to start with.

I feel what works best for me this year is to be more general in my resolution rather than saying I am going to submit 125 pieces of work this year, or my goal is to get 100 rejections or write X number of new poems a week, my resolution should maybe look something like this:  In 2018 I will live a life of poetry, looking for the rhyme and reason to life. Informing myself of the many works of others and finding the value in them. Be authentic, in that I can appreciate other marvellous poets, both living and dead, that I can learn from them, but in the end, I cannot be them. Accept my own uniqueness and, endeavour to bring writing/poetry into the world that reflects this.

There is always the other important general stuff like being an advocate for peace, justice, for those with whose voice is ignored or lost in the world.

I confess that I love mail. Mostly I never get any bills any longer by mail. I still get a lot of junk mail and that I could do without, but when I order books and they come or some other surprise is in the mailbox, this is really cool.  Recently another person, knowing my passion for the San Francisco Giants sent me a homemade Giants card.  I was amazed when I opened it.  I wish more people exchanged snail mail.


One of my Christmas gifts this year was an Ancestry DNA test.  I confess it seemed a bit gross spitting in a tube and mailing it off.  Still, it's not quite as disgusting as some of the smears that the doctor has had me mail back to the lab.

I'm keenly interested in my heritage and for some reason, I think everyone should be. I confess that is probably a bit of an overreach on my part. I just think there is some comfort in knowing more about where you came from.  This, in my estimation, is one of the great travesties of slavery. It makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for many slave descendants to be able to take that linkage back very far and that is

Awaiting the results of the DNA testing is both exciting and torturous.  I have certain expectations and to some extent, they are based on some things I already know about my own genealogy. I am anticipating that I am descended from a mixture of  Irish, Scotch, Welsh and English heritage. I'm expecting that there is likely some western Europe influence - though perhaps lesser, I'm totally prepared for surprises.


I confess that I am thankful for being a part of the spring session this year of Writer 2 Writer mentoring program through AWP. Thankful for my mentor Ken Waldman.  I'm also appreciative of being able to work recently with Ivy Alvarez.  I confess I never want to stop learning.


I confess that this year has been difficult for sustainability. Selling our home and moving was traumatic and really still is. My mother's passing in November added a new layer of emotional challenge. Sometimes it seems these kinds of years give you something to write about, and to some degree I have. I just have not found a theme in which to begin to pull it all together. I suppose there is loss. So much has already been written on loss. I guess I deep down want to be found.


My biggest disappointment is perhaps that I did not publish more this year.  I confess that I did not submit as often as I normally have. I've been expecting more out of my own work before sending it off and for the most part, raised the bar on who I send work to.  That means I especially hold the key to that success or lack thereof. No blame on this press or that journal. I confess it's me and I know what I need to do.


Finally, I confess that you are never too old to appreciate the Wild Things....  Above right is a picture of one of the Wild Things overlooking my desk. Just one of my muses.

And with that, I've performed my last Confession Tuesday for 2017 being fully aware it is actually Sunday.  Forgive me.  ;-)

Wishing you all a very happy new year - May 2018 bring you ample supply of peace, love, joy and hope.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Confession Tuesday - 100 Years Edition

It's confession time, won't you come along with me?

Dear Reader:

It has been one low key Thanksgiving, one house lockout, one damaged book from Amazon, untold breaking news stories on the investigation into the Russian influence on the 2016 campaign and  Trump family, et al., another guilty plea, a promise this will all be over by the end of the year and Trump cleared (I have some prime swampland for sale at bargain price), the end of the cleanout of mom's apartment, one Super Nova Moon and two weeks since my last confession

I confess that I missed a week, that just gives me more to work with today.  I'm home from work taking a half day vacation. I have this problem that requires me to do this from time to time. I have accrued nearly my limit in vacation hours.  To go over means I will be truncated. In other words, I lose any new hours acquired during that pay period in order to stay at the max. When this happens I get a little note from our office manager telling me to take some time off,  or sometimes she just writes GO HOME! on the vacation and sick day form, we get bi-weekly. It seems I am the only one in the office with this problem.  I will use a bunch of hours in March when I go to AWP18.

So going back to Thanksgiving, it was low key this year.  My wife and I had a small no-frills meal together and in the late afternoon, she left with two of my daughters to drive to Tennessee to see my third daughter for a few days. I enjoyed our time together. I confess I missed not having a pecan pie, but who would not miss one if they didn't have one.  So, I was mostly home alone for the holiday. at least the extended portion. I managed to find interesting things to do, like lock myself out of the house. It's a long story and I confess that's all I'm going to say about it.

Then, I confess that there is so much I want to say to Donald Trump's face, but I won't go into details. Let's say that none of it would be friendly or in any way complimentary.

I confess the Super Nova Moon was awesome. I told my wife in the car the other night that I believed the moon was God's gift to poets.I know that so many poets have written about the moon that many believe it is overworked in poetry.  That may be, but it is up there and it's like a mirror in the sky and it is so fucking inspiring sometimes. Say what you want about the number of moon poems, but the best one has never been written yet...

You already know that my mother recently passed away (if you've been reading my confessions) and in addition to that a former boss of mine died rather unexpectedly at the end of November. John was 69 years old. I confess, as I've mentioned in the past, that I have been compulsively obsessed with the combined elements of death and time.  This started sometime between age 20 and 25 but was certainly blow wide open at 25.  I think it's roots were probably bedded in the "quarter-century what have you done" complex.

In more recent years say maybe the past two, I've dwelled upon this much less. Almost none. But here I am again, back for more punishment.I suspect I have the recent deaths to thank for that.  The Five For Fighting song, 100 Years keeps going on in my head. I like the song but it's somewhere between nostalgic and melancholy.  But it's when I'm obsessed with death that I feel the most pressure about writing. The feeling that I am up against a clock ticking till the end and when it comes, that's it. What I've got, what I've created, achieved, that's it. That's what I leave behind. A really burdensome thought.

 Thank you, dear reader, for joining me. Until next time, I'll just be looping this song in my head...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Confession Tuesday - First Class Fantasy

Another week already?  How does that happen?  I'm off to the confessional, come along.

Dear Reader:

It's been two surreal weeks since my mother passed away, one new released book review, another poetry book ordered, countless poem drafts written, one submission deadline overlooked, a free bottle of Chardonnay and a major pain in the neck since my last confession.

Last week I mentioned how my mother's death was like fake news. Yes, I was there and witnessed the final breaths, but everything since has been surreal. She did not want a funeral, was cremated per her wishes, and so it is like I just walked away from her that evening and that was it. I confess that I remain bothered by the fact that nothing has changed two weeks later. I don't think there has been a real outlet for grief and that seems like it's never going to happen and that feels totally awkward, unnatural, fake. It's like her death is fake news. Unreal.

So, I've got to do better, A submission deadline for some work I've been tinkering with came and went on November 15. I thought I still had plenty of time (which is partly because I still can't believe it is November already) until it hit me today that we've passed that already. The thing that sucks is that this is among my favorite journals and I always try to submit to it each year. Yeah, I don't have to confess that I'm not especially organized at the moment, but I'm definitely trying to get there. I will be making better use of my planner, that's for sure.

It seems the more I write, the fussier I get about my writing. So, I've been writing up a storm and I confess that you could say that I'm not too pleased with the weather.

I got a bottle of 2016 Lamoreaux Landing Chardonnay that one of the bosses brought in the other day. He had been to a wine event and came back with a number of bottles of wine and sent out an email saying they were here for the taking, one per person. When I was able to get away and check it out, there were only two remaining bottles left. One was Chardonnay and the other some red that I would never drink. I confess I am a Chardonnay person so this match was meant to be.  I haven't opened it yet, but I will when I'm relaxing over the holiday. I'll pop the cork, pour a glass, and snack on two Biscoff cookies and pretend I' heading somewhere fun - flying first class.

Evidently, I slept wrong the other night because my neck has been tormenting me daily since. I confess that it cracks and pops so loud it scares me sometimes. That can't be a good thing. I'm just saying.

Until next time, may your week ahead be better than the one that just ended.

*Note - My review of  Thrush by Heather Derr-Smith can be found here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Confession Tuesday -- Fake News Edition

It's that time again. Won't you come with me to the confessional?

Dear Reader: 

It's been one new issue of AGNI, one paid vacation day, one new poem draft that has promise, two back to back dreary days, and a surreal week since my mother passed away.

It was my mother's expressed wishes that when she died, she be cremated and that there be no funeral service. Her wishes have been honoured. So a week later I sit here feeling the whole thing some kind of a dream. I was the only family member present at the time of her death. My sister had just left maybe 30 minutes earlier and was to return. So, while I am the only family member who witnessed it, it still seems totally unreal. I confess that at various times of the day I think about it and it just all seems somehow less than real. I've had people inquire as to if I'm doing okay like my boss did today. I just shrug and say something like I guess so. I'm relatively certain that I have not really experienced any grieving period. I think I would know if I had.  I've felt sad, but not like any other family member's passing. I feel like her death should bother me more than it has. Mostly I have been bothered by how I watched her die and it still seems like her death was, I don't know, fake news?

Once again I have to confess that  I had a good day at the mailbox.  I pulled out a book-sized envelope and there was Issue #86 of ANGI.  Anytime a book arrives or a lit journal, I feel like doing an Irish Jig right there at the curb by the mailbox. It tends to brighten my day immensely.

Brightening my day was a great thing upon arriving home this evening because I have felt the last two days were pretty gloomy. I know the weather is part of the problem. I do suffer from SAD and it is that time of year. I confess that baseball being over for the year doesn't help. Sylvia Plath one time said, "There must be quite a few things a  hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."  I could substitute hot bath for a baseball game.

I think we have this stationary weather thingy hanging around over us so I can almost be assured that tomorrow will be another gloomy day. I confess what would really make me feel good about now is more indictments in the Russia/Trump matter.

May your week ahead be better than the one you left behind!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Confession Tuesday -- Writer With A Untold Story Edition.

It's been more visits to a hospital and a care facility than I can recall off the top of my head, the death of a family member and two weeks since my last confession.

Come along, let's get started.

Dear reader:

I confess that processing much of this is still a matter of digestion.  My mother passed today at about 3:33PM after a very short but fatal fight with cancer.  A small brain tumor was discovered - thought perhaps early, however it was very aggressive.

There are lots of things that are floating through my mind. My relationship with my mother is a complicated one. It seems we are always hearing that about mother-child relationships. Much of the complication in this instance is related to life-long family dynamics. My mother was divorced from my father as I was an infant. I learned in my adolescence that unbeknownst to me, my paternal grandmother had been writing letters addressed to my mother and me.  Through the years she had kept these from me in spite of a desire by me to locate my father's side of the family.

I confess that there developed over the later years of my life some ambivalence towards mom as a result of those lost years of opportunity to connect and finally the difficulty to know how to establish anything close to a normal relationship. I can't say that I didn't love her. Hate was never an emotion associated with her personally, though I did hate that I was prevented by here from establishing earlier contact with the Wells side of my family. This had a circular impact on the family dynamic as it did circle back and cause some feelings of ambivalence at times.

I confess that I am experiencing sadness as an emotion.  I think one the saddest things  I'm feeling right now is that I know one of the things she wanted to do was write a memoir on her days of nursing that went back to the old General Hospital. Mom had written some short fiction - stories, nothing longer.  She often talked about the memoir. My wife even offered at times to assist her while she dictated. She had a laptop, her ability to utilize it seemed challenging to her. I cannot believe she has much if anything started on it.

She was quite proud of graduating from General  Hospital's Nursing School and working at the hospital. I confess that I am sad that she was not able to realize the completion of her memoir.There have to be few things in this world sadder than a writer with a story to tell that goes untold.

Until next time -  love, peace & joy!

PS~ One of the positive experiences of the past few weeks I owe to Maggie Smith.  One evening while she was lucid I read Maggie's book Good Bones to her.  She like the book very much. Would comment on the poems and was especially interested why Maggie was drawn to write so many poems that contained references to hawks.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Wednesday Style / screaming light!

Dear Reader:

I'm a day late already for confession so I must hurry along. Follow me to the confessional....


It's been one week and one day since my last confession. I'm seeking special dispensation for being a day tardy and I hope it is granted. I will make no flimsy excuse, at least once last night it occurred to me that it was that time, but somehow it simply did not get done.  I confess that I must do better.

Postseason baseball has not gone well for me so far. Now that the World Series has started and it's between the Dodgers and the Astros I naturally am hopefully of an LA Dodger loss Go Stros! I confess that any SF Giants fan worthy of the orange and black would be rooting for the Astros.

This weekend I believe  I had some positive results from my writing. Will be talking soon with my mentor about it so I'll see what she sees in it.  I confess that I have been brimming with writing ideas. Kind of scary since sometimes I hit a wall and well, I have to put all the pieces back together before I can get going again.

Yesterday I was thinking about a quote from Pablo Neruda - "Every day you play with the light of the universe."  I'm still thinking about it today. I think of it as an affirmation. It's not played - past tense, but "you play!"  I also think about the universe as a constant stream of light. Even at night, the stars are screaming light at us.  It makes me think of the universe as a playground. A continual source of inspiration and creativity. Kind of a simple but awesome concept.  Anyway, I'm embracing it.

Till next time--  Go Astros!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Maple Leaf Edition

Dear Reader:

It has been one fall week since my last confession.

I confess that when I get new reading material (especially poetry) in the mail I get crazy happy.
This week Laura Kasischke's latest book "Where Now" arrived in my mailbox. This was cause for some dancing. I did it inside so the neighbors did not think that I was crazy or at least confirm their preconceived notions.

While we are on the subject of things that add a smile to my face, it's fall and I love the bright orange and red Maple leaves. And as I mention this I confess that a bit of sadness comes over me as I realize that since we sold our home and moved, I will no longer have the two surprise Maples in the backyard to admire. They were a daily infusion of joy. The Iris flowers did the same for me, but that is another season. They will be missed as well.

During this past week, I had some worry about  Silas, our rescue German Shepard. He was not keeping food down and had diarrhea.  I am happy to say that he seems on the mends. 

Like I suppose everyone else, the disasters - Hurricanes, tropical storms, earthquakes and most recently the California fires have occupied my mind. (at least that part not consumed by our moronic President) These disasters underscore just how fragile life can be. I know so many people that were within the striking path of the fires in northern California.  The many of you have been on my mind and in my thoughts and prayers. I confess that it seems totally incomprehensible what life for those in the path of the horrific fires. Not only lives threatened but homes and whole communities. It is times like these that you wake up, inhale and count your own blessings to be alive.

I think art, writing, music & especially poetry are the medicine for our souls. I confess that in these times, the arts seem less like the luxury some believe they are and more like an essential ingredient ofday to day living.

If you are reading this, you may be suffering in ways that none of us can imagine. For those, I know your pain is real and you have my thoughts and prayers. But if you are reading this, you also have life. I hope you will rejoice in that fact. We have ourselves & we have each other.

Until next time - be safe!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Confession Tuesday - I know who the moron is, edition.

Dear Reader:
It has been seven weeks since my last confession. These things happen. You get busy, you get tired, you find yourself in a trance, or lost in a poem whose end has not been written yet and you don't know how the hell to get out of it and seven weeks have passed and you are asking forgiveness for being such a lousy confessor.  

I guess seven weeks ago I was marvelling at the sight of the solar eclipse. Today, I confess I'm just happy the sun came up on another day. This causes me to ask a serious of questions that I can't believe I even have to ask... Like:
  1. Why do we need a president anyway? 
  2. Why is he hell-bent on constantly keeping us on the brink of war?
  3. Why has he sold out to a foreign adversary?
  4. Why does he coddle Nazis and white supremacists?
  5. Why is Trump more immature than the average 4-year-old? 
  6. Why is he challenging a cabinet member to an IQ contest to prove who the real moron is? 
  7. Why is all this for real and not reality TV?  Why can't we just turn it all off and make it go away?

I have started working with another poet who is mentoring me specifically towards more impactful poetry. So far I believe that there are some positive developments in the way I approach my writing. I confess that it is too early to see the changes I want to achieve but I feel good about it and that is a good starting point. 

I have a reading at the end of this month and I confess that I want to read some new stuff that no one has heard yet. This means reworking several drafts that I have been sitting on. 

Trying to be a better writing steward I have agreed to work with other mentees from our Spring W2W session to help facilitate discussion among the Fall W2W session mentees on Facebook. I confess that I enjoy seeing the excitement that these writers have for their particular genre. I think it's infectious. I believe this is something you would want to catch. 

Ivy Alvarez turned me on to the poet Brigit Pegeen Kelly by introducing me to the poem "Song" I confess this is one of the more powerful poems that I've read for quite a while. 

It turned cooler last night. It's feeling more like October. Oh, and there is fall ball!  While I miss my Giants - I am happy the Indians have played a great season and right now they are tied with NY in the divisional series. Fingers crossed that they win the world series this year, I confess my eyes are crossed too but that may be because I'm especially tired. 

Until next time, be safe and stay sane. Someone has to. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Confession Tuesday - The Totality of it All

Dear Reader: 

It has been precisely one trip to the butterfly gardens and one total eclipse of the heart - I mean the sun since my last confession. 

I confess reader that I don't have a lot to talk about this confession, but what I do have to fall back on are positive confessions. 

First, my wife, granddaughter, and niece all did an outing to Powell Gardens for their butterfly garden.  It was my first trip the butterfly portion but I have done other events there in the past. Harper, my granddaughter, had a delightful (albeit hot) time. We all sweltered in the sun and humidity but the event featured in addition to butterflies - a whole host of flowering plants and greenery.  I think we all felt that we would be inundated with butterfly clouds about our heads but this was not the case. There was, however, a good number of them and we or at least I was well pleased with the exhibit. 

It was funny because they had a buffer area in the entrance where you walked in and closed a door behind you, then opened another and proceeded into the garden area. Upon leaving we had to stop and turn around to be checked for any butterflies that might be trying to elope with us.  I thought they were going to pat us down and check our pockets too. 

This brings me to Monday. The day of goofy glasses. When I left the office in the morning it has been raining. The prospect of seeing any sun, much less the eclipse seemed remote.  As the morning progressed, we would check out the windows from time to time and alas it looked like we might be in business. I confess I had been wildly anticipating this event. 

I have always held the moon in high mystical esteem. The sun and moon eclipsing was like two opposites attracting and coming together in a dance. I have indulged the concept of great romanticism associated with this event. I had, in fact, hopped that my wife and I might share the experience together but I confess that was not to be. 

The sun goddess looked favorably upon us because the sky mostly cleared and just before totality a stream of clouts momentarily threatened but quickly moved on.  Hazza! A magnificent halo around the moon with a tiny spot that had a starburst creating a wedding ring effect was before our eyes (covered with protective glasses of course). 

Now I admit that for days I've had Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" going through my head. I've always been fond of the song but it's looping in my mind this very moment. 

Am I any different from this experience? I confess that I believe these two celestial bodies coming together made me feel more in communion with the universe. That's belonging t something really big!  

I think the eclipse was meant for the poet that resides in every one of us.  Including the ones that don't know it or would deny it. 

Until next time - be safe & Peace!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Got Respect edition

Dear Reader:

It's been one house sale, several rejection letters, the Giants have gone 16 -21, North Korea has launched 2 ballistic missiles, and the President has given aid and comfort to neo-nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK and 6 weeks have passed since my last confession.

Follow me to the confessional:

My dear readers, the very thing has happened that I so mentally fought for all of this past year and a half. Our house sold. Actually, it sold the first day on the market. But it is done with now. I confess this has been an extremely unsettling feeling and I loved almost everything about our home. The layout, the location, the Great Room, the trees in the yard, the Iris that came up every single spring, except this one for some reason (I think they knew we were leaving) and openness around us.  I won't pretend that I am okay about this for now because it is not that easy.

Through this, I learned a new word. Hiraeth is a Welch for which there is no direct English translation.It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire to return to a place you can never go back to. I believe this experience will very likely inform my poetry writing for a long time to come.

I have been a Giants baseball fan for in excess of 30 years.  I confess my team which is generally highly competitive is having one of the worst seasons imaginable. Still, I would like the record to reflect that Michael Wells is no casual or lukewarm Giants fan. They are still the team I love even if they are having a crappy season. There will be better days and I will be there still.

I would be kidding you if I said I was not bothered by the increased activity towards nuclear warheads by North Korea. I am after all a cold war kid. Yes, we have lived with a nuclear threat all these years since then but at a substantially reduced risk. What we have not had is a president who in the wee hours of the morning tweets stupid stuff about North Korea and talks about "Fire & Furry like the world has never seen." In return, they have talked about launching ballistic missiles in the vicinity of Guam (a US Territory)  Neither Kim Jong-un or Donald Trump appears to be rational. I confess I don't know how got to this place?
Yesterday was a pathetically sad day for this country. I confess I never anticipated I would see the day that our President would give aid and comfort to White Supremacists, Neo-nazis, and KKK.Trump's words this week in connection with the violence in Charlotteville are despicable. There is no excusing them whatsoever. He has no moral authority as president.

Since I was last here confessing, I acknowledge that I have come across a poet that is new to me and has remarkable ability to write with a level of intimacy and emotion that is rare. There are many reasons this poet is awesome, not the least of which she is non-degreed and in fact did not finish middle school. She is my patron saint of non-degreed poets. Her name is Francesca Bell and you can see her work here Francesca Bell- Poet.So who are you reading that is new to you? Let me know.

Until next time, write, read, be safe!

P.S. - Got Respect? This world needs more of it!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Confession Tuesday Baby - Caroline Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been a a whole month since my last confession. Far too many disgusting Trump Tweets,  too many fucking fireworks going off as my wife is trying to nap and the dogs are going buck crazy with each boom. I'm at wits end myself.  I can only imagine what it will be like after dark. On an exciting note, we have a new granddaughter that arrive just yesterday.

But reader, I degrees....

My head is hosting a giant headache and has been for much of the day. At the same time, I have some neck pain going on. All this was sufficient to leave me feeling depressed earlier.  Fortunately, an alprazolam later I'm doing a little better, except one of the dogs now has been barking for a good 10 minutes straight and it honestly feels like it is going to be a very long night. I confess, I want to strangle some neighborhood assholes engaged in the firework crap.

Yesterday, was an exciting day in the Wells family.  Caroline arrived making a second grandchild for my wife and I. She joins big sister Harper in the Porter household. Above is Caroline in my arms. I confess #2 is just as exciting as the first was.  We've had Harper much of the last couple of days while mom is preoccupied.  It has been interesting to watch her reaction to her new sister.  When we went up to see mom and newborn last night they gave Harper a "Big Sister" sticker to wear. I thought this was really cool myself.

Earlier last week I felt I was back on a spell of positive creative Karma but the past few days I have failed to utilize and sustain it. Now, I find myself trying to get it back. I confess that feeling stressed about it and trying to force and magically wish it to return is likely counter productive. I will try to do some reading from material that I often find helpful in stimulating the right atmosphere for writing, I'll let you know this week how this is coming along.

Have a safe fourth! Enjoy family & friends and celebrate our nation & the things that make us free.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Potter Milestone

Twenty years ago today the first HARRY POTTER arrived in stores. Lot of people have grown up on Harry Potter.

JK Rowling - Author

Friday, June 23, 2017

Poetry Is My Compass

The road ahead is not always sunny, there will be patches of sun just as there are spots of darkness and  splotches of shadows. 

As I get older I believe that poetry - both reading it and writing is informs my life compass. 

If you can see things more than one way, life becomes richer. The moon would be so boring without the sun.  So believe me when I say we need the day and we need the night.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

2017 Poet Crush List 6-Pack

It's time for my 2017 annual Poets Crush List.  There are many in my view writing noteworthy poetry these days that it is hard to narrow this down to six, but alas, this is a Crush 6- Pack.

I will give you a small capsule of my thoughts on why each poet has been chosen for my list. Any time you make a list that takes into account how you value artists there is subjectivity involved. Your own list might look very different.  But if you have not had a chance to explore the work of  these poets, I think they are worth reading. There is no prize associated with this...  aside from bragging rights, to the extent you feel it worth bragging about. The whole point of this list was my attempt to recognize those poets that are rocking my corner of the word.

Maggie Smith  - If you tell me you do not know the poem Good Bones I'm going to wonder what planet you've been marooned on.   But Maggie is not on my list because she wrote Good Bones, though that certainly brought her to my attention,  but I have read many of her poems that can be found on line, additionally I've read her book, The Well Speaks of it's Own Poison.  Portions of this book reminded me so much of Anne Sexton. Particularly her fairy tales. There is a lingering quality to many of the images she congers up in this book.

Smith had a couple of prized winning chapbooks but I suspect a good many additional awards are in store for her.  Her book  Good Bones which contains the aforesaid poem is to be released in September and I can't wait.  The thing about Maggie is that if she keeps writing with the same smart and artistic flair I am going to keep buying & reading her books.

Heather Derr-Smith - There must be some kind of karma associated with the name Smith presently because this makes two in this year's six-pack.  Heather first came to my attention when another local poet told me about her -  and her book Tongue Screw. She was scheduled to read at the Writer's Place here locally and I put it on my calendar. As luck would have it (bad luck) Heather was not able to make it so I ordered the book. Tongue Screw was brilliant! Heather is a kind of an international poet much the same way Carolyn Forche is. Heather  has traveled extensively and that travel tends to inform her work. I was especially taken by her images related to Sarajevo. I am a big fan of the Winter Olympics and back in 1984 when coverage was round the clock and they often did human interest fill storied, I fell in love with Sarajevo from afar.  The poems in this book really resonated with me. In all art, poetry, music painting I am especially drawn to dissonance and Tongue Screw percolated it.  I then followed up reading her book The Bride Minaret  which also has an international flavor.  These two books had elements of tenderness alongside a stark violence. But they also sang. Oh, they were so very lyrical.  And the good news is Heather has another book coming out this fall - Thrust and you can pre-order it  here.

Kaveh Akbar -  I was introduced to Akbar by way of AWP17 in Washington, DC, where I heard him on a panel about the importance of the interview in poetry. He's an Iranian-American poet. When I first met him his hair and voice were what stood out to me. There was an real genuine honesty to his voice  that rang true when he spoke.  As soon as I was introduced to his work, I found that I was captivated by his writing writing as well. Akbar impresses me as a serious artist, both in his poetry and his interview of other artists. His poetry has graced the New Yorker, VQRonline, Linebreak, as well as Rumpus and many other venues. I have added Akbar's debut book Calling a Wolf a Wolf  to my fall reading list. It can be pre-ordered here.

Marie Howe -  There are times when I have had a poet on the list back to back, or come back on again later. Marie Howe is a repeat from 2016.  Some of her earlier work was really spoke to me. Then, 2017 brought with it Magdalene is her greatest work yet in my opinion.  She takes Mary Magdalene and through the magic of her poetry makes her life oh so relevant, I had been anticipating this this book and it did not disappoint. I have read it and re-read it more times than I can tell you. How is clearly still very big on my radar for a second year in a row. Magdalene can be ordered here.

Kathryn Nuernberger - Sometimes we don't have to travel far to discover poets whose work we fall in love with. Nuernberger is a Missouri poet and until this year I have not heard of her.  I met her at a reading sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library.  She has two poetry books, Rag & Bones and The End of Pink which was a 2015 winner of the James Laughlin Award.

Her reading style was quite enjoyable. She comes across as smart and a bit sassy. While I have never been one to write poetry laden with scientific language, I appreciate how she is able to pull it off and and hold the readers attention. She instantly had the audience on her side with her wit. I bought the End of Pink on the spot after hearing her read.  I want to see much more of this poet!!!

Cate Marvin -  In her book Oracle the first poem caught my attention right off.  In a poem about the ineptitude of certain Hurricanes I found the poet had no ineptitude for writing long sentences.

The poems in this book were sly. I found yourself being pulled into them and submerged in words. Once I had I felt like drowning, yet I could not stop and fight to stay afloat, I had to submerge in the language in order to take it all in.  It is poetry that pulls me, makes me think, that will most frequently connect me with a poet and make me want more.  Marvin has my attention this year and that's why she is in my 6-pack.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Confession Tuesday - The Need to Read Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been one surrender in world climate leadership to China, continued multiple insults to European allies, leaked inelegance confirming Russia hacked a voter/election software supplier prior to the November 2016 election, one rejection letter, great anticipation of former FBI director Comey's testimony in two days before the Senate Intelligence Committee, contemplation of poets for my 2017 Poet's Crush List, and another week since my last confession.

Let me start by confessing  that I have not been reading enough this past week. Too many things getting in the way; unpacking and arranging my writing studio.  It is maybe two thirds what I had before and at one point this weekend I was nearly rendered frozen by the feeling that the walls were closing in on me.  It just came from nowhere and it was like a stun gun hit me and I could do nothing.

Without  particularly trying intentionally I have been doing some longer poem drafts lately. I confess that  more often than not my lineage is often 21-25 lines or less. I'm happy to see some longer works but honestly I have not set out to do this. It's like shit. It happens.

I'm narrowing in on my Poet Crush List for this year. I will announce it this month. It's hard because I am reading so many wonderful poets during the winter and spring and it's hard to narrow them down to 6. I call it  My Poet Crush 6 Pack.  It is harder for me to narrow down the women then men. I confess this is because I tend to read far more women poets than men.  Two of the six were men last year. I don't anticipate the ratio being  any higher than that this year but who knows...  there were so many really good reads this time it is hard to choose just six.

There are some books that will be coming out later this year that I am really anxious for.... When I know one is being release by an author that I generally have loved their work, I confess I get downright giddy as I know I am approaching a new release... Victoria Chang’s Barbie Chang forthcoming. It's available for pre-order. Heather Derr-Smith has Thrust: Poems  available in pre-order and Kaveh Akbar's book Calling a Wolf a Wolf  will be out this fall as well.  I confess That I am probably forgetting one or two others that ore on my future reading list but that give you an idea that there will be some great reading ahead.

I confess that in the evening when I take Silas out on a leash for his final business trip, I have missed the open sky that allowed to nearly always see the moon and stars overhead. They spoke to me. Now at night I hear nothing up there.... Till next time... stay safe~

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Memory Lane Edition

Dear Reader:

It has been one fucked up Great Room, boxes packed & unpacked, one faux president that left the country, embarrassed us overseas and returned, me reestablishing a writing studio (still in progress) lots of sifting through pictures, etc. (or as my wife likes to say, "we don't have time to go down memory lane." Too numerous things that I cannot find to mention them all here, and of course two fricking weeks since my last confession.

I confess that  emotions and anger  are high.  I was not in favor of selling our home. Nor was I in favor  of moving  where we have moved.  A contractor was brought in to do some things to the house before we sell it.  One of the things I did not want  and was conveyed to Tom the contractor was that the dark hardwood which comprised the bulk of the room itself was NOT to be painted. This was conveyed  by my wife early on. Yet a week ago Sunday we stopped by hand there was bird-shit white primer on all the wooden walls and beams. I'm not talking about some cheap paneling. I went ballistic. It remains one of the most angry moments of my lifetime.  The contractor  was a friend of the family and he had done work for us before including twice painting the exterior of the home. This room is what sold me on the house when we bought it.  Vaulted ceiling - floor to ceiling brick fireplace with built in bookcases of the dame dark wood, floor to ceiling on either side of the fireplace. Seeing this made me both physically sick as well as tremendously angry.

Watching the president  fly off to the world beyond was surreal. It was like good, he's out of our hair. The reality is that he was still on the planet and he could still do damage, act like a complete bully/sociopath that he is and give the rest of the watching world a horrible image of Americans.  I confess, he is nothing  like most of us. And yes, there is the reality that he returned.

Moving is stressful. Years ago I was a Realtor and I recall a reprint from a trade journal that indicated that moving was one of the three most stressful events in life only  behind death of  a close family member and dissolution of a marriage. This move compound multiple elements of disfavor for my part. One is the move itself. I've never liked moving even if I was going  someplace that I had a positive anticipation about. Second is the sale fo the house (which has not yet occurred) - but  I had no interest in leaving this home anytime soon.  I rise every day, drive to the same job I've worked for 30 years. I'm not an invalid,  My mind is fully intact. I loved my home. Why would I want to sell it?
And last, I did not want to move in with another family member. I love my family but I also value autonomy. The house in not in a geographical area I wanted to live in. The house is much smaller, no basement.  Between the humans and pets, it is cramped quarters. I feel like I moved into a Tiny House and I am not a Tiny House kind of guy.  All this I confess increases the stress above and beyond that normally associated with moving.

Honestly, I feel somewhere between a refugee and an Expatriate who can't go back to his homeland. As long as we are confessing, I'll throw that in there too.

On a positive note, I have continued this month to submit work again. Getting back in the routine of Saturday Submissions.  I confess that  I know this is good and in a matter of time I will be  back to getting somewhat regular new pieces of poetry published.

I confess that moving brings back memories. It is bound to. You find and reminisce over old snapshots, Watching a home empty out is like a time laps video o  your life there. That alone uncorks emotions - aged and taking on flavors of the past.

I confess that I am excited that I will be work-shopping writing with some others from the Writer 2 Writer 2017 Spring Session. I'm as anxious to see everyone else's work as I am for them to see mine.
I confess that part is a little scary too.

This past week I had a scheduled Artist Date and I confess I need to be better about doing those. At least a couple times a month.

Over the weekend I enjoyed one of my wife's exquisite dishes that she learned from her grandmother, good old Polish Golumbki.  I confess I could never tire of it.

It also occurred to me this weekend that  June is about here and that means it is time for my annual Poetry Crush - Six Pack List.  I confess I've had names swirling around and some will no doubt rise to the top and - there will be six of them.  I guess you'll have to keep checking back until they are announced later in June. :-)

I feel totally confessed out. I can think of nothing more--

Until next time, stay safe! Enjoy life.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Poetry Contest - Goals - and Trump in Orange Jumpsuit Edition

Dear Reader:

I've entered one poetry contest, sent out 4 poems, all new (meaning they have never been submitted anywhere else before), concluded Module 6 in the Spring Writer 2 Writer program, and there has been a whole lot of shit happening in Washington since my last confession.

Follow me to the confessional....

Reader, I'm tired. moving does that to you. I'm in cramped quarters and started over putting together a writing studio again. I miss my old one. I miss everything about our home. Contractor is doing stuff there now but it's empty and I confess it looks like it is lonely too. Do you think houses have emotions?

I missed last weeks confession Tuesday because life was happening. A lot of life has been happening lately and it seems to get in the way. Still, I've tried hard to get some focused writing time in over the weekend. Worked on one new poem in particular for many hours over Saturday night and Sunday. I confess that it felt good when I included it in the contest material that I sent out.

I don't enter a lot of contests but this one particular one I've done maybe 3 or 4 times. I think this makes 4. It is sponsored by a Journal that I especially like and it is often featuring  other writers I especially  enjoy reading.

In an email exchange this past week with my mentor Ken Waldman, we talked about  goals, both short term and long term. We have agreed to touch base around the first of January to see how the short term goals are going. I confess that I am really grateful for the opportunity that has been afforded me by AWP in the form of the Writer 2 Writer mentoring program. And as for Ken, I cannot thank him enough.

I hate to take a downward turn now but I confess that I am appalled at the behavior of President Trump.  I confess that  I always had concerns about him being fit for the office but I have to say that his behaviors are embarrassing and he is clueless. His ethics are non existent. He is the most childish person of adult age I have ever seen. He lacks to capacity to be truthful. He has the attention span of flea and has put our nation and democracy at risk in so many ways. He has now obstructed justice and in spite of any finding that collusion with Russia goes as high as him, he is now a candidate for impeachment for trying to derail the investigation by the various law enforcement and national security agencies that are investigating the Russia and Trump campaign connection. I confess that I believe we all will be better off when this man leaves the White House and his many business annexes and enters prison in an orange jumpsuit.

That's it for now... I beg your absolution for going political.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Art & Public Opinion

The artist is chosen by God to fulfill his commands and must never be overwhelmed by public opinion. ~ Albrecht Durer

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Elephant in the Room

Dear Reader - It's been a string of rainy days that came and went, I poetry month complete with 30 poetry drafts that ended and the arrival of one new poetry book since my last confession.

To the confessional....

Reader, my life is about to be turned upside down and inside out. We are going to sell our home and move. If there is one thing that I hate more than moving ( and there isn't much) it would be selling the home that  I absolutely love in a hundred different ways.  At one point in my life I was a Realtor. I recall reading an article from Psychology Today that was reprinted in a trade magazine which listed moving  as one of the three most traumatic things a person goes through the other two were death of a close family member and  dissolution of a marriage.  I truly understand that and believe it to be true.

I confess that I have been internally dealing with this for some time but the actual move is imminent. It was the thing I did not talk about on here. The elephant in the corner.Basically I keep telling him to sit in the corner and shut up. This is all that I am going to say about this for now but I suspect over the next few weeks it will likely come up again in one way or the other.

I confess that my creativity has been dog paddling to try and stay afloat. The emotional stuff  has been like rocky waters that I bounce about trying to stay afloat and not  get bashed into.

I do wonder if there is some kind of silver lining in all of this. Perhaps my experience will  me to craft a wonderfully magnificent manuscript as an Expatriate Poet.

Best to all - Stay safe my friends...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Crying over my Beer

Dear Reader:

It's been one book ordered, zero new books arrived, one nail in the Pickup tire, seven more days of the poetry-a day challenge, one Sunday breakfast out with the family and one week since my last confession.

I'm sitting here working on this with about a half a can of Hamm's beer. You decide if it's half empty or half full.  I'm extra tired tonight and somewhat cranky. I will confess that I am completely caught up on my poem drafts (1 per day) for the month. Just sharing that with you makes me feel slightly more up beat but I'm not going to let it go to my head.

Being cranky is probably to several things of which one is I am pretty wiped out.  This and I still need to send out a bio and a photo tonight for an upcoming event, and the fact that I am just flat out sick and tired of the President who ignores every bit of government ethics and is so cavalier about it and is generally on idiot. Today for example, he raised tariffs on soft lumber imported from Canada. He's already succeeded the Asian rim trade to China by cancelling the TPP. So, now let's start a trade war. I could go on with the Trump stuff that has me upset, but I confess I already dwelling too much on the buffoon.

Had a letter from Ken (my mentor) this week - couple more pieces of work that he has critiqued. I have a nagging question that I need to go to him with today or tomorrow. I confess it will probably wait till tomorrow because I want to make sure that I give it the attention it needs before I e-mail him and I would only  rush it tonight. (We are being honest  here, right)

Tupelo Press is having this fantastic sale on books. Like $16 books for five bucks! I ordered one during the past week that I am anxious to read but it has not arrived. I confess Amazon Prime makes you impatient when ordering elsewhere.

I am officially concerned about my San Francisco Giants....  though they did manage a 2-1 win over the Dodgers last night.  Injuries have taken a toll on this team in addition to some players that  they have lost this season to other teams.

I'm starting to feel like a Debbie Downer so I will close for now and finish crying over  my beer.

Stay Safe & live poetically!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Confession Tuesday- The Giants are Coming Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been one Federal and one State Tax Return filed, one phone call from Ken Waldman my  mentor, and another week of National Poetry Month since my last confession.

Let me get right to the failure at the outset here. I confess that I have fallen behind on my poem a day challenge. This weekend was full of things and you all know how things can get in the day.  Things stack up, things will barricade passage and things will keep you from writing. Damn things!  We picked up my mom and drove her to my uncle's house and had a family  get together with super nice weather. Grilled stakes, got full, sat around and talked about this and that and generally had a good time. Since my uncle Dave doesn't get out much he and my  mom seemed to enjoy the reconnect. But back to my writing....

I confess that I will make up the poems so that I am back on track. I will finish with 30 poems because 30 days has April...  I do not consider this a failure, simply a rerouting on the journey!

Ken and I talked by phone, I guess it was Thursday. talked about some material that he looked at and had emailed me ahead of time. Helpful conversation. I confess that it is hard to believe how fast this spring session is going.

I am excited today. My San Francisco Giants are in town to play the Kansas City Royals tonight and tomorrow night. If you  know me this makes perfect sense. If you are newer to this blog you might wonder why I'm in Kansas City and a Giants fan. I confess that  I have been a Giants fan for some 30 years. I prefer National League baseball. I dislike the DH (though we will be playing  with it these two games because when in Rome do as the Romans do.  Too bad because I would love to see Madison Bumgarner hit. They could pinch hit him tonight... they have don that before.  And yes, my Long Haired Dachshund Madison is named after the pitcher, Thank you!

 Telling you, I still get goosebumps when I see the Giants uniforms in person...

Until next time - be safe and celebrate poetry!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Baseball Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been one winning Giant's home opener, 7 more days of Trumpation (Trump centered frustration) that I just want to go away, the start of module 4 on revision, the long awaited Good Bones episode of  Madam Secretary and and another week since my last confession.

Shall we start?

I'm hyped, no, pumped, ecstatic because tonight is an event at the Plaza Library where UMKC's Hadara Bar-Nadav and University of Central Missouri's Kathryn Nuemberger will speak WHAT MAKES A POEM WORK. needless to say I am planning to go. I confess that  I am familiar with Hadara Bar-Nadav's poetry and she rocks. I'm hoping for an insightful and inspiring evening. This is a week that I need some creative help!

For some time now I have been jealous of those who have workshop writing groups. I've participated in one several years ago that spanned genres and really was not quite at the level that I was hopping for. There is a promising possibility that some from our Writer 2 Writer Spring 2017 mentee group may undertake such a workshop group. Details are in early stage but there is significant interest from the other mentees. I confess that keeping some of the other mentees involved aside from our spring session is an added benefit to creating such a workshop group.

Poem-A-Day Challenge is draining my brain of subject matter. I confess that  I feel like I need something to shock my brain into high gear.

I am excited about the start of baseball season. I have long believed that poetry and baseball were one in the same. The game has all the beauty and grace of the game. I confess that I am a little concerned about  some aspects of my San Francisco Giants. Their bullpen is struggling. It needs to get it's shit together.

Lots of writing and writing related stuff I need to get done between now and the end of the weekend.

That's a wrap for now. Till next time, stay safe, have fun!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Confession Tuesday- 30 Poems-30 Days Edition

Dear Reader:

Hear I am once again at the confessional. It's been almost 2 regular season Giant's games, 2 Baumgarner homers,  4 day of April and 4 poems, one W2W mentee skpye conference chat, The start of module 4, 7 more days of an embarrassing  president, and a week since my last confession.

Reader, I'm 4 days into April and I'm doing it! Four poems, 4 days! Tonight, I worked late to finish but alas I am ready for tomorrow. I confess today I wrote without a prompt. Some days I want a prompt and some days I am just resistant to any prompt I find.  I don't  know why, just is.

I confess that I am elated that  Kansas City approved a bond issue for a new animal shelter tonight. It is so overloaded. While it's sad that only about 10% voted, I'm proud of those who did for supporting it since it required a super-majority to pass.

I am this week dealing with some real real personal crisis and I confess that  one minute it's had to do things and others not so much. Still I confess that I know on any given moment the emotions will be back and darkness crashes down on me.

I have started module 4 of the Writers 2 Writers program this week and the focus is on rewriting. I ended up feeling better at the end of Module 3 and I am anxious and hopeful about  this module.

I confess that I am still in awe of Marie Howe's Magdalene. What a collection of poems. What a book!

Don't ask me why, but I have been craving a Hamm's beer the last couple of days. I don't drink much beer these days. I'm more of a wine drinker and I don't do that much of it either. I can tell you the last time I had a Hamm's Beer was in Minneapolis at the AWP Conference in 2015.

That's it for this week...  Be Safe - Write or at least Read Poetry.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Baseball is coming you cannot deny.

Dear Reader:

It's been one House Intelligence Committee Hearing, two winning games of Canasta with my mom, one episode of Madam Secretary, one trash pickup day,  a Saturday night poetry reading and an hour and a half phone call with my mentor since my last confession.

One of my highlights of any week is watching Madam Secretary.  The plot is always intriguing and grounded with a touch of reality. I give the writers and the actors a lot of credit. Often it will touch on something that we are simultaneously dealing with in the real world. I confess that is doesn't hurt that Tea Leon is Hot!

The proximity of April closing in leaves me with a decision to make. Do I undertake 30 poems in April. One a day? Sometimes I will make a pledge to do this. Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don't. Then starts the guilt. I confess this decision is a lot like the agony over  New Years Resolutions. Sometimes I just  try to take the pressure off by saying I don't need to make a resolution  to try and have a better new year. Just go with it. I've done the same with the Poem -A-Day.  Try, but don't  hold yourself to it... the world does not hinge on 30 poems.  But hey, I've got a couple more days to decide.

I ordered a copy of Marie Howe's new book, Magdalene. Howe is among my favorite poets and I confess that I am most anxious to read this book. It's release date was yesterday and I should have my copy by tomorrow. I Hope!

An hour and a half on the phone this week in a single call with my mentor and the talk revolved around craft, a particular poem draft I had written and poets read & reading. I confess that I have mixed feelings about the conversation.

Baseball season is closing in fast on us. You know those pictures of a space ship docking with another, or even the space station?  That's what it seems like. Going so fast two two will collide, and then in the end, it all looks like it is so soft and precise a fit together. You just  watch and say wow!  I confess I am in a wow mode!

That's it for this week -  Hope you all stay safe and happy...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Corrosive Thought

Dear Reader:

It's been a couple more Trump campaign  links to Russia, a whole bunch of March Hoops, Two contacts with my mentor, a shitload of writing and maybe two promising drafts  and one week since my last confession.

For some reason the word cohesiveness came to me this week. I confess it was like it came out of nowhere and slapped me in the back of the head. So obviously I had it's full attention at this point.
I thought about what  it's like to be corrosive. I pictured a metal platform being eaten away by corrosive elements much the same way an old car will develop rust spots often called car cancer. Then I thought why a platform and I realized I was standing on it. Something clicked in my head and I decided this is what was holding me up... the platform. And to my dismay it was crumbling under me.

Sometimes I question my personal compass. Am I pointed the right direction? Now my fear was, am I standing where I shouldn't be? Am I not on a good platform or foundation for where I hope to be going?

I've written a lot this past week. I've not liked most of what I've written, and that is okay because that is going to happen. But I do get tired of it when this stretches on for some weeks  (which periodically happens) and it has a way of  making me second guess things. I confess that as the Writer 2 Writer module moves to # 3 where we focus on craft, I think maybe I am supposed to be having these self doubts and asking myself questions. Well, I confess it will give me a reason to talk craft with Ken.

On an uplifting note, one day this week I got a book and went out onto the deck and took in the springlike weather with a nice breeze. I read a while and then just listened to the birds and watched the trees in the breeze with their buds coming out.   On another, in early evening looking out westward I observed the sky as a mirage of the painted desert.  I confess life can amaze me even when I'm on the cusp of falling through my platform.

My best to each till next time...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Trump Sonnets by Ken Waldman

Ken Waldman like most of us was taken by surprise when Donald Trump won the electoral votes necessary to secure his election as president.

We all know that the president-elect wasted no time tweeting to the U.S. and beyond. The results could be described any number of ways but suffice to say they are not positive.

Ken began writing sonnets based on what Trump was saying.  He has published Trump Sonnets Volume 1, a collection of 41 in the voice of Donald Trump and 28 others that are directed to him.

Ken is no novice at this, He previously wrote  As The World Burns: The Sonnets of George W. Bush.  In this book the poet climbs into the head of the President and from that vantage point writes sonnets.

Both of these book were published by Ridgeway Press and the books can be purchased from SMALL PRESS DISTRIBUTION  or of course at

Note:  I have not read As The World Burns but I have read Trump Sonnets Volume 1. I understand he is working on a follow up Volume 2. If you have the heart for political discourse in these remarkably unorthodox times, you will enjoy Trump Sonnets.  

* Ken is currently my mentor in the AWP Writer 2 Writer program.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Find Your Tribe Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been one snow, one melt, one writer group meeting, One Writer's Chronicle with so many great articles, numerous poetry drafts and two finished poems, and one week since my last confession.

As a point of reference, the AWP Writer 2 Writer program that I am working in has started its second module. This is significant because it will have some bearing on my  confessions.  The focus of the second module is Community and Connections.

As long as we are being honest, I will confess that I have been looking for a writing tribe for many years. I'm not proud of this fact and I will attribute to the fact that I'm not  totally sure what I want. That's just a bit  embarrassing to me. How do you go for years and want something but  are not quite sure what it is and how to find it.

When I first recall hearing talk of your writing tribe it was from someone I greatly respect as a writer. I way have heard it elsewhere but  this was when it first sunk in. I think that is because again it was someone I respected and also because they made a point of making it seem really important. Find your tribe....  that's what I recall hearing.

This person who was imparting such wisdom has a significant social media presence. What I have gleaned over the years is that at minimum, their time works something like this...

  • They share each other's ups and downs - or I guess you could say they provide comfort and support.
  • They will at times discuss craft.
  • Keep others informed of events, publications, and opportunities. 
  • From time to time they  may share writing prompts and on occasion two or more will get together for a day or an afternoon and write together. 
  • I think  but am not certain that they may from time to time share drafts for comment/work-shopping 
Now what writer doesn't want to be a part of something like that?

Presently I get together with other local writers once a month  locally and have done this for numerous years. These are good friends and I enjoy the meetings, but I confess that it is not a group that works well for work-shopping material.  Few of them submit work to journals. They are always way to kind - so the objectiveness that comes with working to improve a draft - getting that good ear that can tell you if something is working on some level or not. 

In the 2nd module of Writer 2 Writer (W2W) some of us have been talking a little about  community and connecting with others. My own mentor is not a social media person. That said he has over the years made many (to the power of several many) contacts basically the old fashioned way. Personal contact, phone, email, snail mail. He is on the road constantly. He makes a living  full time as both a poet and a musician. It's impressive, but I am a creature of social media. 

I confess that I really want a tribe that  does many of the things I have described above. But I could modify that. for example if there were people geographically beyond my area, short of getting together from time to time to write - the rest of this could be achieved. 

I would agree that I believe every writer should have a tribe. The reason is simple. Writing is by it's very nature a solitary experience. We work hard in our own space, me it quiet or with a music play list or background noise at a coffee shop, but  we really are withdrawn unto our selves. When we are done, we then put our vary private selves out into the public. First to find publication which may lead to rejection but even beyond that we are putting ourselves out in a very vulnerable way. I confess that to me personally, that leads even the introverted me to want to move beyond my solitude and be with others briefly until it is time to withdraw, recharge, and create again. 

So here I am... That's were I'm at. I've solved nothing  except perhaps flushed out kind of what I feel as a writer I need or at least want. But I confess I think it really is more of a need. 

Until next week~

peace, love & be safe

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Late Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been numerous poetry drafts, 4 close to finished, two contacts with my mentor, another book read, 8 more days of that idiot as president, another missile launch by North Korea, and a week and one day since my last confession.

I confess that life is crazy. It's sad, it's frustrating, it's painful, and it's beautiful. The latter is what keeps me going.

I confess that I'm a day late with my confession but that's better than missing it for several weeks. Therefore I'll call it an improvement. I'll also just pretend that today is still Tuesday.

Are you writing more now but enjoying it less? I've written a lot  lately and maybe not enjoying it is not exactly the correct assessment but  truly I've not been ecstatic about the results. I'm getting some keepers but a lot of static as well. I confess that I'm wanting more keepers and much better keepers.

I've had two contacts with my mentor in the past eight days including one yesterday where I had some feedback on writing. We are moving into a new module this week and the focus is changing to Community and Connections. I'm anxious to interact with Ken on this topic because I feel like it is an important one and I confess it is one I feel somewhat inadequate about. I know Ken is not much into social media but he is a hands on person to person contact sort of guy. Exploring this will Ken I suspect will have some challenges because of his absence from social media. We'll see how it goes.

Another 8 days and we still have the idiot in the White House, or he may be playing golf. He does that a lot. Go figure he used to give Obama hell whenever Obama played. If he's not playing golf then he's tweeting. He's definitely our Commander-in-Tweet. He tweets some of the stupidest things.  He also uses it as an extension to his lying and makes him look like a fool.  North Korea lobbed some more missiles into the sea in Japanese water and he is so clueless.  His administration is so stalled up in it's own ineptness and unending string of ties to Russia that are resulting in numerous investigations. I confess I see no end of this in sight.

I seek and am finding things of beauty in this world. Sometimes you have to look hard but they are there. People helping people. Animals around us. Art people are making. My wife is working on an extraordinary beaded neckless with Tigers Eye.  I confess I will continue to seek good, beauty and art in the week ahead.

Until next time, enjoy each day!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Confession Tuesday - Writer 2 Writer Edition

Dear Reader: It's been one a round trip to Washington DC,  more days and nights of anguish over the state of America than I care to count or admit, one AWP Conference, one Rhino Reading and 6 weeks since my last confession.

Please follow me to the confessional....

Reader a lot has happened since my last confession. I confess some good and some not so good.

As I write this tonight I have concluded watching Trump's speech before a joint session of Congress. Yes, I confess I watched it. I also confess that he delivered the speech in pretty respectable form. That is to say that he was more presidential that  we are accustomed to seeing. I believe he came in to this with a pretty low bar and in fact preformed above that bar. That said, he did not woo me with substance. It is clear that his replacement for the ACA, if up to him would not have an individual mandate. This means it is unlikely to provide affordable insurance for those most in need of help. This returns us to a nation where health care is not a right but a privileged.  This is unacceptable,

I won't hammer away at every disagreeable position but I will say that  I believe his budget numbers will be tremendously flawed. I remain concerned about a trade war and he simply is not going to bring back hoards of manufacturing jobs. The misconception is these have all gone overseas. Some yes, but the bulk of job losses in manufacturing are due to automation.That is a reality that is not going to change.  I could go on, but I confess that is not what my focus is tonight.

I confess I remain concerned about the Russia - Trump connection and believe it needs to be fully investigated.

I confess that the AWP17 conference was exciting and draining and that is nothing new. My one previous conference was 2015 in Minneapolis and it too had those components.

Some highlights if the conference were meeting Shaindel Beers one of my favorite poets and one of my 2016 Poet Crush List members, and meeting Martha Silano another extraordinary poet.

There was another part of the conference that  is worth mentioning. Over a period of time I have applied on six occasions for the AWP Writer 2 Writer mentoring program. (I'm nothing if I am not resistant) and I learned a couple days before the conference that I was one of 25 writers chosen out of 400 applications for this session.  I confess that I have wanted this for so long and it has in fact been hard to believe that  it finally happened.

I have been matched with another poet, Ken Waldman and Ken and I were both at the conference and we therefor made certain that we met face to face.

The Writer 2 Writer program is a open to members of AWP.  There is an application process and I believe it is just one of many positive benefits available to writer who are members.  I am just now in the second week of the program and I plan update readers on the experience as I make my way through it. But for tonight, let's just say there has been something good to come out of 2017 already.

Best to all of you & talk to you again soon.