Friday, November 11, 2016

What Has Happened to America...

This week something happened that has shaken the very foundation around me and evidently that of countless others.

I have voted in 12 presidential elections in my life time. I've had my share of winning and losing candidates I've experienced disappointment and since there are always winners and losers it stands to reason there always has to be some people who are on a losing side and wake up disappointed; assuming the mad it to bed at all.
It was during my morning drive that it occurred to me that that something major had occurred. Something that left me feeling  like an expatriate; removed from the country I love. The feeling was surreal. Clearly I had only left my home and was driving I-70 to my office. I had gone nowhere beyond my normal daily routine, yet I was in some altered universe. I had not left my country but rather, my country had left me.

You see my country spans across a continent with two great oceans on either side. On the east - stands a monument overlooking  New York City that was a gift of France. It  immortalizes the promise of America to the world.  "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" - words of Emma Lazarus, a New York poet best known for her poem The New Colossus from which these lines were taken. On the west, the great city of San Francisco whose Golden Gate Bridge is spans across the San Francisco Bay and is another great landmark for those arriving from the Pacific side. But the promise on  Lady Liberty in the New York harbor extends to those arriving from all directions.

And my country not only welcomes persons from other countries, other nationalities, other races, and any religions, it affords these persons who come to this country for a new life, for safety, the protection and freedoms and dignity afforded all of us. By extension, unless we are Native American, we have all made this journey in the past.

But back to my drive...  I know that  as I make this trip, today  and in the weeks ahead a new administration will take shape that has made as the counterpoint of it's campaign promises that threaten to shake the very foundations of what has made this the greatest nation. The role model for the rest of the free world and hope for those oppressed everywhere.

The future in this country is bleak for persons of other nationalities, for Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Asians. For gays, lesbians, and trans-gendered people. Even women, who are not in the minority are open game for discrimination, sexual assault, and misogyny. The new leadership is not committed to protecting these people and in fact they have real reasons for fear. Already Black churches have been torched. Muslims have been assaulted, or shot and killed walking down the street. Promises of mass deportation and families broken up.  And the hard fought promise to make medical care for millions a reality as opposed to a matter for the privileged teeters on the brink of extinction.

This is not the America I know. This is an America that is broken. The idea the these things will make America great again, flies in the face of Lady Liberty. Perhaps she should be returned to her original benefactor


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Time in a Bottle

Won't you come with me to the confessional?

Dear Reader:

It's been a week since my last confession and I am frankly amazed that I have been better about the regularity of this Tuesday ritual. Woo-hoo!

Sometimes when I am thinking about time I think of the Jim Croce and his song, Time In A Bottle from 1973. Perhaps for different reasons their are lines from this song that I relate to but I think the one that most often is looping over and over in my head is... "But there never seems to be enough time/To do the things you want to do, once you find them." I confess this truth is of the great cruelties of life.

Like so many people I sometimes would like a re-do button. I think of the past how I would have approached certain aspects of my life differently but if I could go back, would I really change anything. Lewis Carroll in Alice In Wonderland  reminds us that, "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person them," and true that is.

There were things I did in my youth that I definitely would not change. Those things that relate to my family, I would not want to erase any of that. No do-overs on who I married, our children, but I wonder, would the me back then even entertain things that the me right here in 2016 thinks he would want to do differently?

How much have I changed? How have those changes occurred over the years?  Of course I have to confess that I don't  have answers to those questions. Not really. I could wing it, give you some answer that might encompass some half truths but we are dealing with human nature and the scientific aspect in that field is, well non-existent or at least above my pay grade, as in God speak.

Perhaps too, I can confess that thinking about  life do-overs are another reason I have come to love writing. We can create people and breath some of ourselves into them. We can control their fate, what makes them tick. Change them on a whim in so many ways. It is perhaps the only control that I can exert over  things in any reality other than writing.

Until next time, may all your minutes be rich...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Confession Tuesday - I Have My Two Buddies Edition

Dear Reader:

Won't you come with me to the confessional.....

Reader, it's been one Chiropractic visit with Trigger Points, one visit to mom's, one documentary movie, one dinner out with my sweetie, one meeting of K.C. Metro Verse, two Power Ball tickets, two new poetry drafts, one vacation day and one trash day since my last confession.

  • I've been using a Bullet Journal for something like 8 months now. The thing about it is that  it remains in flux. I'm still making  modifications in exactly how I use it. I confess there is a bit of redundancy in it because I still sink my  digital calendar and use a Franklin Planner at my regular job. Still, I do believe this has been helpful in several ways, not the least of it is giving me a quick visualization of where to go next in my tasks during the day. I am thinking of gravitating away from the BuJo for my regular work stuff and focusing more on the intersections of my writing and personal life. But hey, I may change my mind on that - like I say it's a process, everything is in flux.
  • I am not generally one of these people who blames all kinds of shit on the media. I am a firm believer in a Free Press and I believe it's a hallmark of any democracy. I have become somewhat cynical of so called news these past few weeks and while I blame some of the mainstream press, it has occurred to me that one of the prices we are paying for the internet is the blurred lines from what is news and what is pure made up shit with absence of sources. Places like Breitbart News, and there are a host of others that routinely carry some of the most bat shit crazy stuff that has no reputable citation to back it us. Additionally, there is often not a shred of common sense involved in the stories. What irritates me is that people tweet and Facebook many of these stories and the get reported over and over until half of the non-thinking population sincerely believes the shit and are basing their November vote on it. I confess that there is truly no safeguard in democracy for the participation by persons that don't know their brain from their ass hole.
  • I confess I've had some heightened interest in Memoirs of late. I want to read the book The Art of Memoir - Mary Karr 
  • I feel blessed tonight, both Silas and Madison are in my studio as I write this,  Just chilling out with me. I confess that Cathy is probably enjoying quiet time watching TV without the trying to climb all over her. 
After a brief shower, I believe there has been a break in the rain and I probably should run these two dogs out to do their business for the night. 

Until next time, live in the now, and be safe! 

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Chocolate M&M's are Dead to Me Edition

Dear Reader:

It's been umpteen games of Words with Friends, 3 watermelons, two submissions,  28 pages of journaling, three bags of Booterscotch M&M's, one dental cleaning,  too many insect bites and three weeks since my last confession.

  • I realize that there are certain things that  are synonymous with the process many writers have and these typically include the ingestion of certain drinks such as coffee, wine, tea, or other libation. Also, among the solid foods group a premium seems to universally  be placed on chocolates, Girl Scout Cookies, Oreos Cookies, etc.  I'm here to tell you that while Chocolates in general are still on my list, M&M Chocolate candies are dead to me. That's right. Deader than a dead poet. But what M&M's have going for them is a new special edition variety called White Boo-terscotch.  I confess these are to die for!  They are only available at Target stores and my guess is that M&M Candy Company is planning them to be only a fall variety. My recommendation is for them is to keep them after fall, Change the name simply to White Butterscotch M&M's and distribute them across all their markets. I'm telling you, No more Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut, Chocolate Almond, M&M's for me.  The Peanut Butter have never been able to compete with Reese's Pieces.
  • This week I began keeping better tabs on the actual time I spend writing. I confess that I can't tell you what I've done since my last confession but I can tell you that I spent 5-1/2 hours this week ending today. Not quite happy with this amount though I know the most important thing is the quality. Still, you have to get words on a page to get quality stuff. 
  • I confess that  I have spent this past week doing the comparison thing to other poets and I am very aware that  this is not a good thing to do, but sometimes it is just so hard not to. 
  • As I am writing this tonight, Silas, my German Shepard is curled up beside me on the floor in my studio. Often, it's Madison, my long haired Dachshund who keeps me company when writing so I have to confess this is kind of a treat to have him here with me. 
  • Cathy is out tonight helping a friend and will not be home till late. I made her Gluten Free Brownies as a treat for when she gets home. I confess that I hope they are editable. I've never made them before. 
  • I am so tired of insect bites this summer. Someone once told me that a lot of them are drawn to people with diabetes. I have no idea how factual that may be but I confess I am tired of just going out to bring the dogs in from out back feeling a whole new crop of bites each time. 
  • I've been trying to read some new to me, more obscure poets lately. I confess it is always exciting to find a new gem among them. 
  • I believe I'll have a couple Butterscotch M&M's and call this done!
Thanks for stopping by.... until next time, be safe and joy life!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Long Assed Time Edition

Dear Reader,

Shall we head to the confessional?

It's been two weeks and one 30 year anniversary since my last confession.

I confess it has not been quite 30 years... but it will be on the 25th of this month. None the less, yesterday I was given a pen commemorating my 30 years of service at work. While I admit I consider thirty years working one place a pretty significant chunk of time, it didn't hit me until it was pointed out that  few present would ever achieve such distinction. Given my job is basically crisis driven, I confess that it does give me pause to consider  how I have made it this long and kept my sanity about myself. I also wonder if I have actually  lost my sanity some time back and have just been oblivious for a number of years. I've had the good fortune to work with a number of really good people over the years. I confess that it has made to longevity on the job much easier. I'm thankful for each of them.

The month of August is half over and I am not particularly happy with the number of hours I have written this month. I confess that I know it's not always about how much as it is about how good and I do feel that  I have put together several really strong  drafts. That said, I hope next week to be back in the confessional box acknowledging that  I have met or exceeded my number of hours writing for the week.

I got totally excited recently. When good things happen to other  poets I'm one that is inclined to celebrate their success, so when I saw that  Beth Ann Fennelly was named Poet Laureate for Mississippi I wanted to do cartwheels. Beth Ann is among my favorite poets. She has been doing some fiction recently and I hope this will set her on a course of a new poem or two from time to time.

Color me perturbed tonight.  I picked up a bottle of  Gold Peak tea at the store and while I intended to get the diet tea, I took a big swig as I got ready to write this and realized I had inadvertently picked up unsweetened.  Yuck!  Alas, I've added Splenda to it

I confess that I am hopeful that I will have some good news to report in the next couple of weeks. That's all I'm saying on the subject.

And last but not least... I confess that I redid my web site and have a new domain name The new site is at  and the other  domain has been redirected so that it will load to the new domain.

I confess that's all I got the week!

Be safe!


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Confession Tuesday - Where is the Year Going Edition

 Dear Reader:

It's been 8 weeks since my last confession. Really? Yes, sadly it has been that long.

Since we last met at the confessional, we've celebrated America's birthday, we've nominated the first women from a major political party to be President of the United States.  I've written a few new poem drafts, created a new web site at and collected a few more rejection letters.

Let me begin my confession:

Reader, I don't know where this year is going but it is going there fast. Too fast!  August? Really? How the hell did this happen?  I look at my calendar hopeful I can find the damn hole that the days are falling through. I don't see one. (BIG SIGH!)

There is my precious granddaughter Harper Jo who is not quite two years old now, but she is shedding that infant look in favor of a more sophisticated young child look. Her vocabulary and mannerisms are quickly becoming  more advanced and I fear one day soon she will be advance beyond my wisdom. She is funny, active, and smart. I miss the younger version but I like the new one too. What I must confess is that I fear that this too will pass way to fast and the next phase will be different. Not necessarily bad, just different and I will miss the cuteness that presently becomes her.

Last Friday was the quarterly  Neon Gallery event sponsored by the Writers Place. Great reading & music. Also I confess I had some good advice from Maryfrances Wagner.  She suggested that  I check out the Meter, Beat and Feet Performance at the Fringe Festival on Sunday. So I took her up on it, and this was my Artist date for the week. (something I confess I need to do more often) The event combined poetry, music and interpretative dance and was very relaxing and the hour  really went too fast.

This weekend I worked on an application to submit with writing for the Fall AWP  writer 2 writer mentoring program. I wrapped up everything this evening and uploaded my submission via Submittable.  This is not me my first attempt and I know there are limited resources but I confess that  I do so hope that  I make it this time. This would be an extraordinary opportunity. I've hear numerous mentors and mentees rave about the program. Any prayers and good karma out there are welcome.

I can't let this confession pass without saying  how incredibly proud I am that the Democratic Party has as it's Presidential nominee the first woman ever. I'm excited for what this means to women and little girls everywhere in the U.S. So many other nations have had women as their  chief executives, prime ministers, etc. It is well past time that we did too. This is a historic event and even as a man, I confess that  I had a real sense of pride that we've reached this point but I will not  be fully satisfied until we've elected the first woman. Men can be feminists too!  If you have daughters, granddaughters and even for your wives, be champions for their equality.  I think writing has taught me a lot about the disparities that exist in the broader communities. We all must work to see the field leveled.

Until next week or next confession, whichever comes first.....

All Best!

Friday, July 08, 2016

This Isn't Working

This has been building for some time now. It seems that some of us are much more aware of the existence of the problem than others. This of course causes me to wonder first of all, why? Second, it makes me wonder what it will take for these people that  cannot see or do not want to accept the problem we have has reached a crisis point.

There are all kinds of statics that should be screaming at us.  The fact that every day 90 some persons die as a result of firearms. Some of these in the commission of crimes. An increasing number are mass shootings of innocent persons. Sadly, a growing number are youngsters dying at their own hands or because of someone else's negligence. We should not have to simply accept the number of  children who gain access to a gun and shoot themselves, there little sister, or their mother in the back as she drives down the road because mom kept a loaded handgun in her purse in the back seat of the car.

Yesterday, 5 Dallas police officers were killed by  a person or persons using high capacity weapons and another seven were wounded. The two previous days, officers discharged their  weapons in two other cities striking  and killing  black males in tragic shootings. In both instances it said that the two victims were carrying guns. One was pulled by police from the victims pocket after  he was shot and killed. The other is said to have advised the officer that  he had a permit  and had a gun in the glove box. These two incidents will be investigated by the Department of Justice, and I'm certain they the events will be subject to much scrutiny, as well they should be. The one thing  that is certain is that they will not be the last.

America has a death rate by guns far and above other civilized societies. It actually  exceeds some third world countries that are racked with violence. Our nation has a gun problem. It is made worse because we have become culturally dependent upon guns.Yes, there is really no more accurate way to put it than we as a nation have a fetish for and an addiction to guns.

For the time being let's set aside hunters.  For the most part, hunters have a real respect for their firearms. It may sound like a generalization, but  hunters are often among the most responsible firearm owners. But things get a little more dicey after that. For  years,  man gun owners  kept  guns at home basically  for  protection in the home setting.  While gun ownership has become prolific over the years, there also became growing  movement to carry weapons in public. We saw the emergence of concealed carry laws in various states with permits required. This changed to include "open carry" and state after state the legislatures ripe with  members whose campaign coffers were filled by the NRA and other  gun lobbies were only  so happy to oblige and began even kicking  away required permits and required training  classes.

I could go on  with a lengthy  account of  public shootings just this year, that were not  a part of any criminal action but simply a product of  irresponsibility, unfortunate accident, negligence or  just plain stupidity.  I will spare you  a complete list,  but these are a few off the examples that have actually  happened and have been reported on this year:

  • Several instances of  children from three to six years of age that  found a firearm loaded in the floor under the seat  of their parents car or in a purse.  I a least  three incidents that  I recall since the first of the year, these children in the process of handling the loaded weapon discharged it and in each instance manager to strike the driver in the back.  The makes me wonder how may were discharged that  missed hitting someone? It also begs to ask where the loaded guns were in their reach, and why the hell weren't the buckled in car seats?  
  • A teacher  carrying  dropped her gun while sitting on a toilet, ricocheting and striking herself in the ankle. 
  • A Woman who dropped her purse while checking out at the doctor's office and her handgun discharged, bullet traveling  through wall and striking another person in an exam room. 
  • A kid reaching in his dad's jacket pocket and discharging a gun at McDonald's in line striking anther patron.
  • Child reaching in mom's purse at Walmart and discharging a loaded handgun killing  the mother. 
There kinds of things are happening  daily. They are a part of that  90 plus gun deaths a year and even more wounded. How safe are you in a public eating establishment with people (well meaning as they may be) all around you with  guns? 

There are few statics related to gun ownership that do not paint a disparaging picture for gun ownership.   Death of women by domestic abusers skyrocket when guns are in the home. An intruder is more likely to use the gun on the homeowner. The incidence of successful defense with a gun in a situation where you are confronted with another armed person is almost a myth. 

For the most part, we all seem to be aware of these these things.  But our gun culture has a strange historical twist. In the olden days, people strapped their gun on their hip and went about  doing their business in public. Have you ever wondered why that stopped?  Why instead of that simply  being an American continuum, we stopped that practice and states and municipalities enacted laws that put an end to that practice? 

In the 1950's the NRA was largely an organization with a membership of mostly hunters.  In those days the NRA was actually out  front  in opposing high power weapons and on record of supporting  gun education. But that changed...   From those days we saw increased gun ownership and a trend to buying  hand guns for protection in the home.  Perhaps if that were still the primary use of guns, we would not be in this period of  gun death epidemic. The NRA changed and was radicalized and became less an organization for the hunter membership and a lobby to for the gun industry. A significant  number of our public officials were willing  to sell themselves like whores to the NRA to do their bidding. They have chipped away at  most of the laws aimed at  making sure that  criminals do not have easy  access. That  most anyone, even persons with mental health histories have easy access to guns. They stripped away  regulations about carrying them in public and they have taken us back to the days of the old west. 

The gun industry is a $13.5 Billion industry and that industry is all too happy to buy  votes in Congress and state general assemblies. 

The biggest fear propagated by the NRA is that  the government is going to come and confiscate your guns from you. They have been saying President Obama was going t do this for 7 and a half years now. He doesn't have much time left. 

Let's be honest. That was never going to happen. But  there are serious "responsible laws" that  can be enacted to make America safer from Gun violence. Universal Background checks -  closing loopholes for gun shows and private sales. Everyone - gets a background check. Persons on Terrorist Watch lists should be restricted. And yes, it is time to role back the massive amount of guns on persons out in public. We don't need millions of guns in the public sector on a daily  basis. Of of  persons with proper training and registration are going to carry they should be required to carry special liability insurance to cover  against loss of  life of  quality of  life in an accident.  You and your  family . should not  be at rick by someone who accidentally discharges a gun and kills or seriously injurers to the point that the victim and his/her family  has enormous medical bills and loss of  income and the person responsible has no viable means on their own to be held liable. 

We also need to say no to military style weapons in civil society as well as large capacity ammo drums or  clips. 

I've heard people say that  owning guns is a God given right - and say it with a straight face. I don't recall anything about it in the bible. I have had people tell me that  the U.S. Constitution was the word of  god. I believe that is a stretch. But to the point of the 2nd Amendment, the federal courts have clearly  indicated that this does not  preclude the state from making exceptions to ownership rights. Clearly  there was a day  when governments - federal, state, and local took the position that less guns strapped on a persons waist  in  public was prudent. We've had a taste of the opposite now and it is a bitter poison.