Monthly Archives: January 2014


I sat down to write and assess a poem of great
inspiration and importance, and when I stopped
I counted all the syllables and found that most
or twelve of them were simple prepositions or
articles, and I relied upon them to string
together phrases, much like threading popcorn or
construction paper chains, and putting a green one
in every twelfth link (so I know how many there
are); this could apply to knitted scarves that could go
on and on and on forever. But then how could
someone even use a scarf that was twenty-four
miles long (a distance that’s really arbitrary).

Continuing, I found myself too obsessed with
the structure and detail of it, (the poem) lacking
any sense of pull with the “normal” sentiments that
inspire: sun, moon, stars, ponds, anyone and no one,
love and death on diverging roads, alas music
not even present and accounted for in this
catenation. Such admiration I hold for
them who check and recheck the number of items
from sun up to sun round in continued amounts,
like counting the grains of sand at the oceanside,
which seems different on each day, but really not,
and you wonder if anyone would notice thirteen.

This was an experiment in both stream-of-consciousness and attempting to maintain a structural theme of sorts. Also, just some blathering…Creativity should be nutured. Incidentally, I looked up at one point while typing, and WordPress had saved an interim version at 12:12 PM…Oh to have finished this at that point. Thanks for reading.

Etude triste

when you love her,
and practice different words
between the silences,
ascending in chromatic notes
to tempt her fortress
until the muscles betray the bones.

yet, lamps smother their song
and I hear a mandolin
when she says,
“it’s too soon for another forever,”
words that are too soon splayed
for another poem.

What I was thinking…better metaphors

I thought it would be fun useful cathartic to summarize a collection of thoughts/experiences that occupied my brain the last couple of days. brain

What I’m thinking –
My wife and I listen to entertainment/talk show radio on our commute to and from work. We get a dose of top 40 music and sophomoric humor in the morning, and sports talk radio in the evening. I was actually paying attention to music one morning, when I heard Katy Perry’s Dark Horse featuring rapper Juicy J…specifically this lyrical gem in the rap section:

She’s a beast
I call her Karma (come back)
She eats your heart out
Like Jeffrey Dahmer (woo)


Now….I am, admittedly, not a big fan of rap, though I understand the phenomenon and the urban appeal. It is a form of poetry(rhyming, meter, metaphors, alliteration, etc). I admire certain artists’ ability in rap…both in writing and performing (eminem comes immediately to mind).

But, not only is this example in poor taste…it is just lazy writing. To trivialize a serial murderer in a song lyric about addictive love/lust…surely someone could have come up with something better than that. I’m not a lyricist, and I don’t make a living as a recording artist, but I hope that we as a society don’t reach the callous point of integrating our worst examples of humanity into pop culture throwaway lines…like that.

What I’m reading –

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m a slow book finisher, and I tend to have several books going at once (probably around 5 right now, at last count). Most recently, I just started Robert Edsel’s The Monuments Men , in anticipation of the movie that going to be released soon. That one has me intrigued, particularly because the book is very factual and dry at this point, like a history lesson. It certainly has the makings of a great war time adventure story, and I will finish it. Incidentally, the last two books I finished were Graham Moore’s The Sherlockian and Dan Brown’s Inferno, both of which I finished within a couple of weeks of each other last summer/fall, which is some kind of record for me.
Things that I’m writingwriting

I’m writing alot these days for work: technical reports of various thus and so. I enjoy putting together different ways to discuss trends in data, make predictions, and discuss what observations/results mean or extrapolate to other conditions. It is not surprising then, that for poetry, my inspiration comes mostly from observation. My most recent poem vignette is the result of me staring at a picture on my wall (of twirled poppies) that is located next to a window (where, conveniently this time of year, I can see winter/snow). The symbolism in this poem is not lost on me, as poppies symbolize sleep, peace, or death; these are beautiful and yet, being stuck in a frame, they appear to twist and strain to see the bitter cold and and peace of snowfall.

Things that I wonder aboutcogs

I like statistics and trend relationships. The stats functions here on WordPress tell me something about my readership.
1. Someone in India really likes my poem, Respite, I get a hit from India every couple of days. Whoever you are, thank you for visiting…let me know what you like about the poem.
2. I don’t get many visitors for non-poetry posts. But, I will continue to write things as I feel inspired to.
3. NanoWriMo 2013 really boosted my readership, coinciding with Freshly Pressed, but I don’t think many of them returned after last April/May.
4. I get the highest hit rate when I write romantic or stylistic Romantic poetry. My take is that people like poetry that makes them feel good. But, still, I get very few actual comments (I’ll harp on that some more).

Thanks for visiting. And if you happen to write song lyrics, insist on better metaphors.

Acappella Friday: Winding up Winter

A cappella music (without instrumental accompaniment) is particularly enjoyable for me to listen to. As a poet (and an avocational musician), I am drawn to the similarities that poems and a cappella music have. Lyrical phrasing, meter, rhyming, and onomatopoeia mean so much to a cappella music, because it relies so heavily on the human vocal element.


So…winter is in full force, all wound up, blustery, snowy, icy, and *cold*.

A blogging friend posted Shakespeare’s “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind” in her regular Wednesday poetry feature and it jogged a memory. A memory of a song that I couldn’t get out of my head once I read the poem.

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind
(William Shakespeare)

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

I’ve always interpreted this as Shakespeare writing about the nasty part of human relationships being worse than the bitterness of winter. Juxtaposed bleakness with heigh-ho and the holly seems a little tongue in cheek, or is it just him saying “I get it, I can’t depend on most people, but I’ll be jolly anyway.”

Anyway, the song…Again, this is not acapella, and I may have to rename this feature…but the inspiration of poetry to write music is undeniable.

John Quilter (1877-1953) was a composer of songs and light orchestral music in England. One of his songs was a setting of Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind, as part of his Three Shakespeare Songs, Op.6. I recall this song from my college days, either during my short experience in voice lessons or perhaps one of my voice major friends doing this on a recital. But the melody immediately came to mind when I read the poem.

Being in a minor key, the inital verse is conveyed brilliantly by the swirling phrasing, and the heigh-ho section is very different…much more hey nonny nonny no (like a madrigal).

The recording I found was of famed English tenor Gervase Elwes (who incidentally, was actor Cary Elwes great-grandfather) performing the song in 1916. Quilter and Elwes collaborated on a number of songs prior to Elwes tragic death in 1921. This is a great performance. And I love the olde English pronunciation of “wind” – Wynd.

I discovered a second setting of this poem, a choral version written by John Rutter. The choral composition is much more haunting and consistent than the art song version. There are no sudden shifts in style (as with the Quilter version), and the accompaniment adds to the bleak winter ambience. It is very beautiful, mysterious and very Rutteresque, if you are familiar with his choral pieces, I think you’ll understand.

I think perhaps the poem may lose some of its intention in this composition by not contrasting more between the heigh-ho/holly and the winter wind, but it is beautifully written.

Happy 2014 and some other thoughts

As the years roll on, I get to the point where I never imagined their continuation. Like the year 2000. It seemed so daunting in my childhood, to imagine 3 zeros behind a 2. It seemed so far away in 1972, 1976, or 1982. And here we are in 2014, newly minted. I never even thought about this number. What about you? What years were key in your mind as “out there?”

A couple of years ago I posted some goals. Last year I didn’t. This year, I am newly inspired to achieve. And, since this blog mainly contains my writing life, these goals have more to do with writing than other aspects of my life.

1. Attend/participate in a writing workshop.

I’ve always wanted to do this, and have never found the time. Further, it is intimidating to share writing at this level…particularly poetry…which is most of what I do. Perhaps I need to branch out into other forms such as flash fiction, short stories, or something…

2. Restart my poetry submissions for journals – goal of being accepted to a “well-read” print journal.

I stopped submitting poems over a year ago, because, honestly, I don’t enjoy the rejection. But, I’ve found that I still have the itch to “make it” as a writer/poet…though I haven’t quite figured out how one makes a living doing that. (The key…I know… is to not obsess over how to make a living writing poetry, but to LIVE writing poetry. I sometimes forget that, but the fact that I am still trying to write after about 7 years of creating this blog tells me something about myself…and hopefully it doesn’t mean that I’m crazy).

3. Learn how to market myself.

Being an introvert makes this difficult, but I know that any successes in life come with hard work, lucky breaks, and knowing the right people at the right time. I’ve never been good at tooting my own horn, but typically rely on my work to speak for itself. I recognize that people don’t always work that way(though I think that they should).

In the past month, I’ve had some interesting discussions with my new-college-graduate son about following your passion in your career choices. At his young age, he seems to grasp how important that is. I’ve known it, but haven’t always remembered it. He inspires me with his self-awareness.

There are some interesting events planned for 2014, and hopefully these goals will find their way into my plans. And if you have any insight on how any of these goals could be accomplished…help me out…give me some suggestions, actually post a comment. I’d appreciate it.

And to you and yours, I wish you a wonderful 2014.