Tuesday, December 10, 2019

2020 A Year of Perfect Vision

As a poet I know said upon learning I got a Mac Book, "Michael, you've come to the dark side." Said poet has for years been singing her praise/love for her Mac Book. I finally decided to find out what I've been missing.

The learning curve has not been so bad up to this point. I've not pulled any hair out of my head as of yet. 

It's silver in color but I have and orange shell case for it  (It's a SF Giants thing) and I love how thin and light weight it is. Right now I am downloading word to it. I was not that impressed with Pages and I don't much care for having to convert to doc file which of course I need for writing.

The year is fleeting  like the air from a ballon with a pinhole. I like the thought of taking the Mac Book into the new year. Over the weekend I was thinking about the coming year. All the projects that I want to do, to start or the ones I need to push to the finish line. I realized that 2020 needs to stand for perfect vision. What I want, what I need to do, requires me to see 2020. This is a year in which my vision needs to lead me. The irony of having just come off of cataract surgery this fall was perhaps what brought 2020 into my mind as being a year for perfect vision. This time next year I hope to have a lot proof to show for the combination of vision and work.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Dark Pillows - Impeachment - Yoga - and Poetry drafts.

Dear Friend: 
It is again that time. Fess up time.  The time to take account of the good the bad and the ugly.  Won't you follow me to the confessional? 

It has been five straight days of yoga, a gazillion eye drops, more impeachment hearings than I can recall the number - maybe 5?  And it has been 1 week since my last confession. 

Tonight as I left work downtown the sky was buffeted with dark pillows. It was a sight most surreal. 

I wanted to just stand and look at it but I had not been feeling well all day, was already leaving late and I the desire to get home won out. 

It's my 5th straight day of yoga tonight,  even as I don't feel well.  It's the coughy - runny stuff. I confess that I would like to stay home tomorrow but we will see how I am in the morning. I have started some Clairton - D so maybe that will help. The coughing has brought on chest pain. 

I was telling someone the other day that it did not know if yoga was making me a better writer, but it sure was making me a less stressed writer.  I am hoping that over time that will translate into better writing. I confess that hope is a good thing. 

This past week I have been spotty as far as writing. No, I confess I have not written daily. This is the ugly truth. I say that because I know all too well how important it is to do so. I do have a new draft that I will need to work on more, so this has not been a total loss of a week. 

My cataract surgery is, of course, all history now. Still pushing the eyedrops as I have been instructed to do. My eyes will still need some correction adjustment but they will take a look next month to see what my vision is like. My vision is brighter. I suspect I will still be wearing glasses but they will be different from what I am wearing presently.  I have noticed that I have not been squinting so much on the computer at work. 

I am looking forward to a Mala making class this weekend.  I also got out my manuscript draft tonight and left it on my desk to start toying with this week so I guess I have some things to look forward to. 

Until next time - be safe and live poetically!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Confession Tuesday: My 2019 Poet Crush Six Pack

For several years I have selected a number of poets that are currently rocking my world. Over the years it was capped at 6 and became known as my  Poet Crush Six Pack. This year I have struggled, in that there are so many really good poets out there that are writing remarkable material and speaks to me on some level.

My familiarity with them has come from reading their work or meeting them and hearing them read in person or both. [A little secret - many of my books have been bought at readings or ordered just afterward]. It is always extra special when I discover that their poetry not only rocks, but they are great literary stewards that frequently are giving back to the greater writer community. Several of these are such stewards. So, I give you my 2019 Poet Crush List. I confess these poets are rocking my world. 

Katie Manning is the author of a poetry collection titled, The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman which I read this year and found intriguing. Her writing reminded me a bit of Magdalene by Marie Howe another awesome poet who was selected for my Crush list in the past.

 In Portland for AWP19, I met Katie and picked up a copy of another of her books, Tasty OtherThe second book was very different. This book was entertaining. It made me laugh and had just a touch of dark humor. Loved the poem Belly of the Whale, and the attempt to make Jack Nicholson look less creepy. My favorite was a series of 10 vignettes of a statue of Mother Mary on Johnson street that comes to life in various situations. I love that Mother Mary was humanized in these poems. Katie addressed experiences of pregnancy, motherhood, and parenting with humor and realism. 

On a final note, Katie is the Founder & Editor-In-Chief of Whale Road Review Additionally, she records short video reviews of other people's work, and that is so cool.  Follow Katie here.

Jennifer Moore is the author of The Veronica Maneuver, which I have read and What the Spirit Said, which is on my list buy and read soon.

I discovered Jennifer at AWP19. I have no idea if she was in attendance, but Mary Biddinger and Akron University Press were. I always, always check out Akron Press because they have consistently feature outstanding poetry. Mary made a couple of book recommendations and that's how this all happened.  

The Veronica Maneuver opens with, In the year of our Lord the Electric Chair and it was there she had my full attention. Jennifer wrote with a splash of mystery, which I loved. The poems were transformative. There was calm, there was chaos, there were Christ's face and a bullfight. It was marvelous how it all came together. I look forward with much anticipation of reading more of Jennifer's work. You can follow Jennifer here.

Melissa Studdard's I Ate The Cosmos for Breakfast has made me hungry for more of her work. She quotes Wallace Stevens, "The poet is the priest if the invisible." Studdard is that High Priestess.  Whether it is revealing the invisible to the naked eye or her copious attention to detail, to texture, and to metaphor. There is a touch of eroticism, feminine mystique, that is divine. Each time I read one of these poems I feel like I've learned something else, or else I come away with a curiosity for questions I never before entertained.

Melissa has been involved in VIDA - Women in Literary Arts. Melissa is rocking the poetry Cosmos! You can follow her here

Jericho Brown in person is one thing. Charming, 
outlandishly funny and occasionally
sarcastic. At least that has been my experience seeing him at multiple AWP conferences.    In his word, I see a much different man. Yes, there is sarcasm, but with a whole different intonation. He has championed a darker but no less real side of life. Cynical, yes, but squarely attuned to the unmistakable divide that festers in America.

Jericho's Louisiana roots never quite seem to be far away. His book, The New Testament kept me asking myself over and over sometimes uncomfortable questions. It also left me wondering how to get this book into more widely read. He has a newer book out that I have not read. but have added to my ever-growing wish list.  You can find more on Jerico here.

Anne Barnsgrover wrote in her debut book, with simply smashing imagery. "I feel like a wasps nest nailed to a door, all the stingers dried to rose thorns."  This was another Mary (knows how to pick them) Biddinger find. The book, Brazen Creature.

Loving, losing,  and all that happens in-between in these poems. Each is bold and unapologetic. Each is brazen. It could be in some ways a feminist manifesto. 

Metaphor is not lost on the revenge of the brown recluse. "Our hearts are nothing//but lies and lilac bruises. Old friend, we both want/each other dead tonight." This collection of poems was like an emotional workout. I want more of her work to read!

More on Anne Barnsgrover found here.

Martha Silano is one of what I refer to as the magical Northwest Poets. There are a number of them in the greater Seattle area that are incredible beyond what any single geographical are should be entitled to. Could it be the water?   She has five collections of published poetry. I have four of them. I've met her at AWP two or three conferences and my knowledge of her and her work go back a number of years.

In Martha's most recent book, Gravity Assist, published by Saturnalia Books,  she toys with all things relative to our orbit. The seen and unseen. Forces and things nearest to us and the way out. Jealous of that star in Orion that isn'tstare without resentment.  

The collection moves quickly and touches on Gerbils in space and wings that were not given. Of course, there is your favorite and mine, Autocorrect! Someone, I don't recall who said there was math in poetry. Yes, it's there. Oh, the things Martha orbits around in this book. She tries to outdo gravity, but the words fall to the page anyway. 

But alas, the first book I read of Martha's remains my favorite - Little House of the Immaculate Conception. That's why I keep buying her books and continue to be amazed. 

More on Martha Silano found here. 

There, you have it, my Six Pack of Poet Crushes for 2019 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Between Two Eyes Edition

Dear Reader: 

Let's go to the confessional.  It's been one cataract eye surgery,  California burning, the smell of impeachment appears stronger, the World Series is split  3-2 in favor of Astros, Sylvia Plath would have turned 87 if she were still alive, and it has been two weeks since my last confession. 

My left eye surgery is done and I've given up a week of yoga at Doctor's request. I thought it would be longer from what other people have told me but I confess a week is still too long.  I am slated to go to Core Balance for a session tomorrow evening.  However, I will be doing the right eye on November 5th, so I will be off the mat another week then. 

I confess I don't presently see any major changes in my left eyesight. I'm just saying. 

Writing lots the past three days. I believe there are some possibilities from this rough work. I have hope.  Plath reminds me of the importance of writing daily. I confess, she still has power from the grave. 

One of the most exciting things that have happened since my last confession is that  I have made contact with a cousin on my father's side of the family.  This is significant because of the lack of Wells family members I have contact with. Grandparents are deceased. My father and uncles on his side of the family are all passed on.  So I was able to make contact with a first cousin, once removed. This is pretty cool as she has helped me with some family history questions.  I am hoping at some point to be able to write an oral history of the Wells family. I confess that I have been feeling like a dying breed. 

When I am able to restart yoga after my next eye surgery, It is my intent to do a stint of 30 consecutive days of yoga. 

Impeachment of the President is seeming like closer to reality. I don't know if the Senate can muster the guts to do the right thing, but once the case is more in the forefront of the American people, we will see if the Senators will scramble like roaches for the molding. 

I read a poem the other days that was not totally new to me, but I think after reading it I felt a newness to it. I realized it closes with a line I had heard as a quote from W.S.Merwin in the past.  The poem is titled, Berryman: 


I will tell you what he told me
in the years just after the war
as we then called
the second world war
don't lose your arrogance yet he said
you can do that when you're older
lose it too soon and you may
merely replace it with vanity
just one time he suggested
changing the usual order
of the same words in a line of verse
why point out a thing twice
he suggested I pray to the Muse
get down on my knees and pray
right there in the corner and he
said he meant it literally
it was in the days before the beard
and the drink but he was deep
in tides of his own through which he sailed
chin sideways and head tilted like a tacking sloop
he was far older than the dates allowed for
much older than I was he was in his thirties
he snapped down his nose with an accent
I think he had affected in England
as for publishing he advised me
to paper my wall with rejection slips
his lips and the bones of his long fingers trembled
with the vehemence of his views about poetry
he said the great presence
that permitted everything and transmuted it
in poetry was passion
passion was genius and he praised movement and invention
I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can't
you can't you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don't write

This was shared this month by the Poetry Foundation at this site.

And last but not least, I watched Meg Eden in the Poets in Pajamas
reading series. She was reading poems from her new book coming
out from Press 53, titled Drowning in the Floating World.   The
collection of poems is themed to the nuclear power plant disaster in
Japan. I recommend checking it out. 

Until next confession, stay safe - Peace!

Michael Allyn Wells

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Searching for Authenticity

Dear Reader:

It has been so long since I have indulged in a Confession Tuesday that I am not even going to count up the weeks, it would only inflame any anxiety that may be lurking about.

Here is what's been going on:

  • I have been trying my best to live in the present. Yoga is teaching me that now is more significant than yesterday. That tomorrow is no guarantee and the breathes we take now are where we live, the present!  This is not easy for me, because I believe history is significant to today and any future we have.  That planning is okay, even advisable. Still, our emphasis on life should be the present. That is where we are. I have been introduced to Dr. Brene' Brown who stresses living authentically - letting go of what people think of you. I will confess that I struggle with this at times.  She also is a strong believer in cultivating self-compassion. My instructors at yoga are reminding me that I tend to be hard on myself so I guess I am failing there. I've pretty much been this way about my writing over the years so I suppose this is pretty well ingrained in me by now. 
  • The things that I care about, family, friends, our pets (which are really family too), Things that sustain me and allow me to feel, to see, to touch the present - music, art, poetry  Here I seem to be on track with what Dr. Brown teaches. because she emphasizes laughter, song, dance, creativity & play. 
  • The scariest part of Dr. Brown's recommendation is embracing vulnerability.  If this is how we become authentically ourselves, then I confess it is frightening. I can handle it in small doses, but the larger the chance of feeling like I am making a fool of myself, the harder it is. 
  • Another writer friend of mine was asking me why with all the writing I have been doing, that I have no book. I've toyed with a manuscript - I've even entered one, maybe two manuscript contests. So I have gone back and looked at a lot of my poems - especially those that have been published. and I put them together struggling to see clearly a theme. Feeling that perhaps I am too close to this, I sent her a file with the collection I pulled together. We had spoken about this in advance and I already knew that she was willing to look at it. This was a big step - exposing the very vulnerabilities that have been holding me back. I confess that now, I am happy I did this. Going back over all these years of work reminded me, I got Poetry!. 
  • I have a stressor that I am struggling with that is coming to a head next week. Cataract surgery.  I confess that one of the reasons I am dreading this is the time that it will take away from me my yoga routine. Currently, it includes two formal weekly studio sessions, augmented by what I do at home.  I'm told I will need to be away from it for two to three weeks after surgery. We are doing one eye at a time so that will stretch it out. I imagine my writing will take a tole during part of this time as well. 
Today I am thinking about joy and the role it plays in the day to dryness of life.  Can I find joy in embracing my vulnerability?   Let me close by saying I am thankful for another poet who has encouraged me,  even over fear and so today  In the present, I am claiming joy!

Until next time, may you thrive daily in the present!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Assimilation of Yoga , Writing, and Life in General

I am trying to achieve some assimilation of yoga into my daily living, and into my writing. 

Yoga takes discipline for starters. This is something that would likely help across many areas of my life. 

The byproduct contributing to a calming or peaceful presence that allows for a more meditative state of being; where yesterday and tomorrow are pushed aside to make way for being in the present. That is where we can find ourselves, stripped down of the weighted anxieties that we tend to carry. 

I'm not able to say that I have my meditative practice perfect. Still, I believe that I am becoming more receptive that inner silence and where that might lead. It seems kind of like nibbling on a cracker when wine tasting. A way to clear the pallet for the next new taste.  In this way, I can be receptive to the experience of new ways of bringing fresh material to the page. 

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Poem finds Home Edition

Dear Reader: 

It's Tuesday once again. A weekly occurrence and while my Confession should be weekly as well, I sometimes fail. Hey, I'm human!

On the way into the office this morning I was looking at the sky and reflected on the color variations and thought I should write something about this. But I didn't.  I'm not sure that I had anything remarkable to say about it, but I really didn't try and that is precisely what I want to talk about. 

In recent times I have thought about writing, mine at that of others. I've also thought about those who don't as a rule sit and commit ink to a page. I think sometime in the recent past (though I can't pinpoint exactly when or what caused me to think about this, it occurred to me that everyone has a story to tell. I've heard that said before but I never really thought it was meant for me. I always think when you are telling a story that you are making something up - something fictional or you are relating an actual event that you are sharing with others. I don't know why, but I never really accepted the fact that poets had stories to tell. 

I think of world travelers with unique experiences having stories to tell. Or, persons who have survived some illness or torture, or with some remarkable life discovery having a story to tell. I think it all boils down to is this a story worthy of being heard? Sometimes I think about memoirs that I have read that had very dysfunctional people in them. I think about what caused me to consider such a story worthy of being told, of being read.  I don't think we always can know what another will be interested in, but if we write, and write with a creative flair that makes what we say interesting.  Sylvia Plath used to say that everything was writable. 

What I wonder today, is what stories that are waiting to be told at our southern border? What stories need to be told? Who will step up and fill this need? I confess that I think about this and it troubles me.  [long pause for reflection here]

On another note, One of my orphan poems went out into the world this spring and has found a home. I pleased to share with you this poem that just came out yesterday in the Remington Revied - Summer Edition.  

Keep[ing It] Going

I throw another log on the fire.
I have one left that I am saving—

Alone; I keep practicing.
One day I may get it.

Tolstoy said The strongest of
all warriors are these two—
Time and Patience.

I know if you were here
you would applaud, well done!

And maybe I am better,
but you were kind
and always saw something
fly outside the picture frame.

You had the eyes—
they were plugged into your heart,
a strong heart. A sharing heart
that sometimes would pump
for both of us.

This log has been burning all night
now. It shows no sign of extinguishing

itself. My practice continues.

May you all have a safe and enjoyable week ahead. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Chinese PEN Center reprints Tiananmen Mother

The Independent Chinese PEN Center republished my poem Tiananmen Mother on its site. I feel honored.

A Little Slice of Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader: 

I know it's Thursday and I have missed the customary Tuesday Concession.  (hanging  head low)  I hope you will accept this late and tiny slice of my recent life.  It's been a week and 3 days since my last confession. 

It's also been one debate of 10 Democratic candidates for president last night  (another one with 10 more will be held tonight. It's been a Father's day since my last confession, and it has been a jumbling of many books that I am reading at the same time. (That's how everyone reads, right?) 

Summer is officially here and we have colorful plants blooming to show for it.  Cathy gets truly excited with plants in summer. I think she gets that from her grandmother - who was affectionately known as granny. When I leave in the morning or when I come home in the evening I am greeted by colorful unfolding nature before my eyes. I confess I love this. I love knowing that she loves gardening with flowers too.  By the way, we have tomatoes on our tomato plants (our one cash crop). 

I had a rejection of poems in a contest since my last confession.  I don't often dwell on rejections. I am sure this was a form one too. But it did happen to be the same place that  I once received a form rejection with a handwritten note that said,  "you were close."  But, I digress, the part of this rejection that caught my fancy was as follows... "We strongly believe that a poem's value is not determined by its publication, or by the selection or non-selection by a limited group of readers. The editors urge you to wholeheartedly reject this rejection, and send these poems out again and write some new poems, and sent them out too."  I confess this made me smile. 

Watching the Democratic candidates debate on the first night, left me feeling a little empty. Of what I saw I was most impressed with Senator Tulsi Gabbard, Julian Castro, and Cory Booker. Elizabeth Warren after a strong initial exchange sort of went to sleep. What she said was pretty much her normal stump speech I've heard countless times. The only negative was that she took a position on health care that would be unattainable as the way the laws are written now, hospitals would have to close their doors over authorized payment amounts. I suspect she would ultimately look for a fix for this but it did seem like a big gaff.  No one shined. I expect the bar will be higher tonight. 

Another confession, I am working on my annual Poet Crush list. (link to last year) It should be out this month, but I have read so much this past year, I am having to do a fair amount of weighing those being considered to keep it at 6. Hopefully sometime in July? Maybe, Hopefully. 

That's it for today~

Be safe and of much joy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Confession Tuesday - One Less Orphan Poem.

Dear Reader: It's been a relatively normal week of weather since my last confession Little bit of rain but mostly nice sunny and comfortable temperatures. So close to normal it's almost scary.

I received good news on Monday. Another orphan poem of mine found a home. Picked up by Remington Review. This is the third time they have taken one of my submissions. It almost feels like family. I lover their format. They always put together a nice issue. So the new poem will be in the Summer edition.

I confess that I feel like I need to be a bit of a hustler. Hurry and get more work submitted. I try to balance writing time with administrative things, like submissions, notes, and reading. I need to learn to transition from one to the other better. It's like yoga for me as a newbie-  Learning the individual poses is one thing. It's another whole challenge to learn to smoothly flow from one position into another and another. I confess that when I have an acceptance or rejection I always feel the need to immediately make sure I have more work out there. There was a time when I had a lot of poems floating around between various venues but as I work harder to satisfy myself with each poem, the time spent increasing  my vault (so to speak) of material that is available means I am adding to it at a slower pace and therefore feel the pressure to increase material available for submission. 

The news of a hung jury in the Scott Warren case was reported yesterday. I confess that while it was a hung jury 8 to 4 for acquittal, It is a reassuring statement on humanity. 

That's it for this week's confession. Be safe and live on the edge. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

I Interrupt Confession Tuesday to Remember Tiananmen Square 30 Years Ago

Thirty years ago a young man stood in defiance of Chinese tanks at Tiananmen Squair. The photo of this single person in street clothing and clutching two shopping bags, standing face to face with a tank, is widely recognized and associated with the student freedom movement. The man and the massive machines of war catapulted itself to become an icon seen around the world.   It was June 5th, 1989 when "Tank Man" was photographed in the aftermath of a deadly government crackdown to clear Tiananmen of young protesters. 

At home, however, China was attempted to scrub this image from the public minds. They once used it to demonstrate their need to use force, but the picture hardly served that purpose well.  Generations of Chinese youth have been largely sheltered from this picture and the deadly government actions 30 years ago. 

In 2005 I wrote a poem the poem that follows -  Tiananmen Mother  - dedicating it to a Communist Party official that broke with the government and tried to warn the protesters of the coming violence. As has been the case with others, he was ostracized.  Beyond that, I believe the poem speaks for itself. 

Tiananmen Mother

for Zhao Ziyang

The Beijing breeze whispers
mournful strophes.
Tears like the mountain rains
follow slopes

to tributaries until they become one
with the rippling waters of the Yangtze.

I am a Tiananmen mother.
My eyes have swelled
with this sadness before.
The wetness follows a path
well rehearsed.

My nights are immense.
I am but a lone bare branch
in a cold, dark world.

They replicate
that June night
etched in my soul
over and over.

My son stood
in the Square
armed only
with a vision
and they came-
The People's Army.

My son stood
in Tiananmen Square,
amid a sea of other
sons and daughters
and they came-

armored tanks
clanking along the streets into Tiananmen
driven by fear, ordered by paranoia.

Our sons and daughters
toppled to the earth
at their hands.
Crimson crawling into every crevice
Of these ancient Chinese streets
A stain still upon us today.

I cannot count the nights
I've wept for my son since.
Today, I weep for another.

There is no official news
but the Beijing breeze whispers again.
This time for the death of the old man.
There are guards of fear
stationed outside my door.
The lump in my throat is big,
I cannot begin to swallow,
that is how I know the truth.

Guilt always gnawing at my heart.
I could not help my son that June night.
Again as I am helpless.

I want to pay my respects
to the old man who stood up
for my son and others
massacred in Tiananmen,
but the thugs watch
my every move.

I am a Tiananmen mother.
It is my duty to weep
for the lost ones.

© 2005 Michael A. Wells

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Confession Tuesday - If I'm Still Here in the Morning Edition

Dear reader:

It's been a week since my last confession. A week of rain and tornadoes. A week of abysmal baseball by my Sf Giants. (I still claim them as my team0 A whole lot of rewriting on my part and Submissions over the weekend.

Reader, we have tornado weather here in the Midwest again for like the 13th day. I confess that I believe this is what climate change looks like to us. Bigger and more frequent tornadoes. I personally am in no imminent danger but parts of our county are under a warning - we are still in the watch mode for now. Most of the shit seems to start on the Kansas side of the state line and comes over here to Missouri. Relying strictly on the literary perspective, I blame the Wicked Witch of the West on these. Having lived in Missouri my whole life I have been used to summers with tornadoes. Sometimes we would have a couple bad days in a row but this has gotten ridiculous. I confess I like tornadoes in literature a lot better than in real life.  I'm praying for those in the path of tonight's tornadoes regardless of where you are. 

A shout out here to poet Victoria Chang! She has been selecting the poems that for this month that are showcased in the Academy of American Poets poem-a-day.  I confess that I have found her selections extremely good reads for me. She has selected work that sometimes has shown innovation, challenged my thought, made me smile or in the alternative mad me sad. It's been an exquisite blend of reading. I must confess that  I would love for her to create my reading list from here on out. Yes, that would be a lazy way to go. You would hear no complaining on this end.

My copy of December 30.1 arrived this weekend and I have dipped into it a bit. I cracked up when I brought the mail in and the wife says, "anything interesting in the mail?' My reply, "Just December in May." Tonight I saw that Ronda Piszk Broatch just heard she has two poems that will appear in the next edition. How cool is that!

I have procrastinated (isn't that what writers do?) for a week now - putting off a review of a book that I need to do. Of all the things I can procrastinate about, writing reviews is right up there high on the list. And yet, I believe it is an important function of writers. Additionally, I always feel excited upon finishing a book and wanting to talk about it. It's that point where the pen and the paper come in that I want to stare off into the galaxy in hope of finding, oh, I don't know what. Maybe motivation?

Does anyone else have a list of journals they'd like to crack into? Who do you want to be published in but have not achieved yet? I mean, besides the New Yorker.

Anyone have a really good poem to recommend, by someone besides a celebrity level poet. Is there such a thing, or did I make that up?  I guess poets like Billy Collins, Sharon Olds (I adore her), Claudia Rankin, Natasha Tretheway, Mary Jo Bank, Marie Howe, Jane Hirshfield, Terrance Hayes, Tracey K. Smith,  Ocean Vuong, Jericho Brown, Louise Gluck, Naomi Shihab Nye.  Yeah, I'm sure I've missed poets that maybe should be on here or you may think some should not be considered celebrity poets. I confess that is always the danger with lists of anything. Including shopping lists.

Enough for tonight! 

Be of good cheer and be safe~

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Clumsy as Newborn Colt Legs - edition

Dear Reader:

There have been four SF Giants wins and 5 losses, scores of rainy days, one mother's day, One Poetry reading, numerous yoga sessions, one Republican Congressman's call for Donald Trump's impeachment, more China tariffs and 12 days since my last confession.

I hope the Rain-god and God are not the same because I confess right now I really want to hurt the rain god. That is all.

I've been reading What You Have Heard is True by Carolyn Forche' is a memoir of Carolyn Forche's journey to El Salvador as a very young woman to witness the struggles and oppression that would bring bitter conflict to the country.

Much about this book is amazing to me. Not the least is the amount of danger that Forche' placed herself in, at first perhaps naively, but there was a point that this had to be so obvious.  I confess that I have come to a realization from reading this book, just how much travel can play a beneficial roll in the life and work of a poet. Forche' is actually very well traveled. and it seems that this has informed so much of her poetry. It doesn't hurt that she writes a lot of witness poetry and her travels have informed her world view and created the ability to count on so much opportunity to tap into her experiences when writing.

I confess to having never traveled outside of the United States and I do confess that I actually feel this is limiting as a writer.

On a bit of an odd note, I have realized that I wish I could dance well. I wish I had danced well. When I was in Junior High and we had sock hops, I was one of the kids with zits and legs like a newborn colt that stood on the sidelines and watched and then promptly joined the other socially awkward kids that went to the alternative site, a classroom where games were played.

By High School and after meeting my High School Sweetheart and wife to be, I did go to Proms. Still, I admit I did not dance to the proficiency displayed by my wife. We have danced since, though not often. I love music and I think that is why I always wanted to dance well. I saw it as becoming one with the music besides your dance partner. There was the INFJ screaming make yourself small and don't do embarrass her. Anyway, I confess I have just revealed a deep dark secret.  Sometimes this makes me sad because I feel like life itself should be a dance.

Friday, May 17, 2019


A whole world all wrapped up inside a person. A world that wants to be let out. The anxiety over the need to release pressure from this couped up world; a pressure cooker spewing steam from the cover, seemingly on the verge of explosion.

Sometimes, a writer has to find a place to jump in and start writing when there is such a tussle of atoms bouncing around off of each other ricocheting off the sides of the skull.  So much information. So much turning and spinning - trying to figure what word the pen will draw from first. That critical first line. A first kiss? A first plane ride? A new friend? A lost friend? A job ending? What will it be?
How to break the silence?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day


Your Clothes

Of course they are empty shells, without hope of animation. 
Of course they are artifacts. 

Even if my sister and I should wear some, 
or if we give others away, 

they will always be your clothes without you, 
as we will always be your daughters without you.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Time Machine to the 80s Edition. Pssst! That's why I am late.

Dear Reader: The Giants have gone 4 and 3, I've had a reading  rescheduled, written, edited, written edited and written some more, BBQ twice, celebrated Cinco de Mayo at home with floutes and flan, did 3 yoga sessions, watched with dismay as the President fucks up everything he touches, and I visited the past - going back 30 years, and 9 days have passed since my last confession.

Follow me - I'm two days late for the confessional.

Reader: I confess that  I love music from my high school days. if you are counting that would be late 60's to early70's. But honestly, that period plus the rest of the 70s, 80s, and 90s produced some kick-ass sounds. Chicago, Air Supply, Three Dog Night, Foreigner, rocked my world. But so did Tiffany and Debbie Gibson in the '80s.  So I got all crazy excited and went to the Mixed-Tape Concert in Kansas City Tuesday night. New Kids on the Block were not my draw but the whole night was entertaining and the two girls, both I believe in their late 40's were awesome. The remake version of "I Think We're Alone Now" is even better than the first. I don't know what it is that makes me feel really good when I visit that time period but maybe it is the antidote for all this bull-shit crap we are going through in this country. I admit I'm all about nostalgia.

Where has this week plus gone? I feel like I've been writing it away. I confess that is not a bad way to pass through a week. I'm getting some more of those abstract urgings in my writing. "Let the poem speak for itself," says the poet. Ha!

My Facebook poet page had added a number of "likes"  in the past two weeks. I'm getting so close to the 100 likes mark. I think I'm either 3 or 4 short the last time I looked.  I know it's just a number but I confess reaching 100 right now seems to be a pretty big thing to me.  Anyway, I hope by next Tuesday I can report I've reached 100.

I need to better organize my writing. As it is presently, I confess it is many files on my computer with less than and rhyme or reason. I guess the rhyme isn't a big deal with me, but the reason is.

I don't  really know who to attribute this to, but it summarizes how I feel~

Some days I wish I could go back in life. Not to change anything, but to feel a few things twice.

That's it for this week folks.  Be safe, play hard, enjoy your life! 

All Best!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Confession Tuesday - OM to the Goats Edition

Another week already? Come, follow me to the confessional.

Dear Readers:

It's been one more democratic candidate for president, one Goat Yoga event, 1,471 stupid violations of the do not call list on my phone, a Sunday without Modem Secretary,  3 more wins and 3 more losses for the San `Francisco Giants,  another book read a week of tinkering with rewrites.

Is anyone besides myself tired of calls telling you how good your credit is, there are no problems with your account (well duh) and them the robocall pitches consolidating your loans?  Or want to interest you in some senior product or service. I confess I wish bad things to happen to these people. Well, not like death or loss of a limb or something. And I'm not talking about the caller so much (on live calls) as the company owner or manager. Like your toilet #4 on the third floor over Flows and drips down all three floors, plus the basement, and ruins your dining room table and antique oriental rug. Yes, that is me. I admit it. I didn't say I was proud, just overly irritated.

While I am a bit cranky - let me mention that Sunday nights are for my wife and me to watch Madam Secretary. Then the gods of TV land interrupt that schedule at least one of us and sometimes both of us will get cranky. This happened last night.

I confess that I love finishing books because it gives me a chance to move to another one on my to read pile. That pile grows like the National Debt. But I've finished another and will be looking to start another. I 've finished reading The Veronica Maneuver by Jennifer Moore.  I will be doing a review of the book soon. (adding to my growing to do list).

Goat Yoga. There is such a thing. I kid you not. (no pun intended) Yesterday I joined others at Paradise Park for a session of goat yoga. My thanks to Stacy Walsh, our yogi for the session. She comes from Core Balance in Lee's Summit.  The cute little things wander around among us and challenge our focus. They will occasionally have accidents. My mat was missed by inches. Their poop looks like Raisinets.  See photo to right. Aside from, the experience was fun and we did get some light yoga in, which at this stage is about where I am at in the yoga experience overall.  Anyone who knows me well quite possibly knows my affinity towards goats.

It's raining again here today and I feel my head is like a heavy sponge that is pulling all the rainwater from my feet upward. We've had so much water that it just stands in the yard and has no place to go. I went to let Silas out this morning he looked out the door and just stood there like, ugh, this shit again!  I feel ya, Silas!

That's all I got for this week. I need to look and see who is accepting submissions and make a list. Until next time, be safe, of good cheer, and watch out for the Raisinets.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Confession Tuesday - Good Week for Writing & Stakes

Dear Reader:

It has been two home grilled stakes, one fixed flat tire, a new draft poem, one book review written, another book finished, the riding lawnmower fired up for the first time of spring, two Giants win and four losses, one dream with a visit by a poet, a not so good week at weight watchers, a family Easter gathering and one week since my last confession.

I confess I almost forgot how good home grilled steak can be.

On the writing scene - I've read a lot this week (reading in several books at a time) but finished In The House of My Father By  Hiwot Adilow - Published by Two Sylvias Press and winner of the 2017 Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize - judged by Kaveh Akbar.   Published by Two Sylvias Press and winner of the 2017 Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize - judged by Kaveh Akbar.  I Wrote a new poem draft that I believe has promise, however, I am still working on rewrites - yesterday's was like a 4th and it still needs more work. I confess that I always get giddy when I receive a new Poet's and Writers, The Writer's Chronicle, or one of my journal subscriptions in the mail. P&W came this past week but I have not had time to read it - just thumbed through and I looks like a pretty good issue. Maybe I can start reading it today at lunchtime. So I have to say that I am happy with my writing exploits this past week.

I had a slow leak in a tire that I have filled up several times over the last couple of weeks. I bought a portable tire inflator - but also took the car back to the tire store and they found a nail in it and fixed it. Since I have the inflator I probably won't need it anytime soon. That's what happened with buying a snow plow this winter after several heavy snows. We bought and used it on the last big one and then they all stopped. 

I confess I am feeling a little down about my Giants but I am also tired of all the disparaging comments in line by so-called Giants fans. Team fams can certainly be disappointed by the performance on the field but comments like treading the entire team are neither realistic or helpful. I've been a Giants fan for maybe 35 years and they have had some awesome years and some less impressive, but I am still a Giants fan.

The Grand kids cracked me up over Easter.  Participated in so many egg hunts I don't know how they kept up their energy. The younger tagged along behind her bigger sister and gladly took the cast-offs of big sister  (who doesn't care for chocolate or white chocolate).

So last night I had a dream that  I was visited by another poet. We drank wine, overindulged in pastries. Chatted with my wife. Listened to music and I must have taken my blood sugar three or four times in the dream. Talking shop might have been fun but we didn't do that.  I don't often have poets invited into my dreams for some reason but when it happens it is usually a delight. I confess usually there is something a bit eccentric that happens.

It seems that living in the now becomes harder with all the stuff in the world going on. It's not at all easy to do and not think about worldly problems.  I hope to immerse myself more into reading and writing in the week ahead.

Until next time~

Peace, Joy, and good writing.