Monthly Archives: April 2014

How to move through the rain

Into each life, some rain must fall – H. W. Longfellow

Use an umbrella, preferably compact
and easily stored.

Use an umbrella, preferably full-sized,
with a six foot diameter.

Cover your head:
Use the Plain-Dealer
Or the Times-Picayune
Or an old copy of the Post-Intelligencer

Don’t use the Sun-Times
The Sun-News,
Or the Standard-Examiner

Move like Gene Kelly,
and sing,
sing and tap,
and tap and sway.

in comfortable shoes.

Swing at raindrops with a Katana sword.

Be like a petal, opened
and rediscovered
in the spring.

Let the rain kiss you on your head,
as it must,
and even though a-washed in dreary
and cold, silver, liquid drops,
revel in the
-slishity slosh-

Calculate the horizontal velocity and random path
required to pass through a normalized distribution of water drops
at their terminal velocity,
and walk

Avoid the puddles.
Dash through the puddles.

Hold hands.

and watch the water
drip from your fingers.
Down to the ground
and wash away.

Themes from a Writer’s Conference

This past weekend, I attended the Columbus State Writer’s Conference, held at Columbus State Community College (Columbus, Ohio). This was my first visit to a writer’s conference, and an achievement of one my self-improvement goals for 2014. * It afforded me the opportunity to learn, to stretch myself, to people watch, and to improve my writing.

It was a great experience, and I was able to develop some new ideas. Though my self-consciousness seemed to be aware that I was the “new kid,” I didn’t keep to myself too much (that’s difficult – being the introvert). My self-development goal of marketing myself was enhanced by a couple of conversations with some small press representatives and other writers. The observation was made that many of the writers using small presses today don’t know how to market themselves. And I suppose that writers can be an introverted bunch…that’s likely an over-generalization, as writers probably represent many personality types, but the things that make writers write: introspection, long hours focusing on details, developing ideas in their heads…would lead one to think that – yes – many writers don’t self-promote very well.

What they can do, however, is tell their stories.

Case in point: I was perusing the book displays, when I walked up to a table hosted by modest looking grey-haired gentleman and remarked,”This book is titled with a Beatle lyric…how about that?” It turns out that this collection of short fictions, entitled And Your Bird Can Sing, by Robert Miltner, held all works that he had entitled with Beatle’s lyrics. Dr. Miltner then proceeded to eloquently and excitedly explain his writing process for this book. I was enthralled. Not only was this a creative use of pop culture, but he had also mastered the art of story-telling, just to explain to me how this book came to be.

Through the day, I attended several well-done seminars, one on using maps to develop ideas, another on the value of research to flesh out ideas (I’ve decided that to be a research-writer is my dream career – it combines many of the elements that I enjoy most – looking up information, summarizing it, the thrill of knowing bits of trivia, deciding how the information works with what you are writing, developing ideas), how to assemble a chapter book (a challenge that I will be pursuing), and the intersection of philosophy and poetry.

The people watching at this conference was great. So many different personalities were on display, ranging from the typical student (eager, quiet, shy) to the aspiring graduate (well dressed, outspoken, bold), the avocational writer (relaxed, dedicated, inquisitive), the story-teller (gregarious, passionate, opinionated), the publisher (realistic, informative, resigned).

At the end of the day, what you write about and how you write (your process) doesn’t really matter. It is whether your writing is “charged”, and readers believe you, and want to immerse themselves in your “story”. I have to continue to learn about or develop the world as I need/want/wish it to be seen. This is especially true for poetry, because oftentimes we don’t know how a piece will be perceived.

You can give it a sense of place, you can charge it with a feeling that could be familiar, you could even give it something new, or even made-up. As the presenters of the philosophy-poetry seminar said, without “not knowing”, creativity would not be possible…

It was a day well-spent.

* And based on my experience, I’m going to be seeking other opportunities to attend conferences and writing workshops.

As when dandelions bloom

four months from now,
the sun will lie in wait,
hanging in the damp,
and the air will be thick
with summer’s late serenades
that twist
and linger,
before a precipitous
lunge. Time will stand still,
before exhaling at its crest
to signal an end
to an effulgent season,
four months from now.

and so will you, soon

see the world
while walking there, alone;
the sky will open or the wind might blow
and send you forth along
with words and pictures,
clever rhymes and songs.

And the words might fill your soul,
(or send you down a rabbit hole);
or cast your sail into the wind
(then pause in stills, to wait…again)

the song might fill your empty heart
or send you in a deep’ning dark.
a rhyme could tickle, opening up your eyes
(then raise a laugh, with tears not improvised)

While ruminating thoughts echo between
the cascade sounds and tranquil scenes,
this symptomatic curse draws me to a close
and so it will to you,
soon, I suppose.

That’s the allergy meds talking…

I am recovering from acute bronchitis…blech…if you ask me, not very attractive.  I’ve been coughing up from the depths of my soul for about 3 days now.   I feel marginally better today, enough to try to work, as long as I don’t need to hurry around doing anything.  I thought a blog post might be the thing to get the synapses going (trying to move past the 12 hour cough medicine and various allergy meds and general malaise).

This will definitely be filed under the not poetry section of the blog.  Writing a poem seems a bit daunting this morning, but I recall an old one that I might try to find and share…

But first, some general thoughts I pondered during my self-exile.

1.  Baseball season has arrived…and not a moment too soon.  I’ve been making my way through Ken Burns documentary “Baseball” (slowly) since last year’s world series – which I boycotted out of frustration. I’ve watch a couple of episodes over the last week. It is interesting that this sport, which has relied on its public persona as the “pastime” – there is such public love of the game with romance and tradition- has always been surrounded by political gamesmanship and questionable characters. The innocence of back-lot baseball always propels the sport forward; beyond the black sox scandal, beyond bickering ownership groups, beyond the strife of integration, beyond even steroid use. While we will pick apart the personalities and the events, for some reason, at its core, baseball will always hold some fascination with our child-like desire for simplicity. And that will keep it going.

2. In keeping with my improvement plan for this year, I’ve signed up to attend a local writer’s conference later this month. There are several sessions on poetry, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m hoping that some of the blogging poets whose sites I frequent will be there.

3. On a writing note, I’m considering trying to do a chap-book. Does anyone have any suggestions on doing this? Any publishing groups that focus on “not-so-well-known” names? I’m not looking to self-publish, and would appreciate the opportunity to work with someone to edit and group poems together.

4. Things that annoy and confound me: people who don’t provide the necessary assistance when their help is asked for to complete something, but then come around 6 months later and judge/find mistakes in the completed work.

5. It is national poetry month (NaPoWriMo), and while I won’t be participating this year, I do extol the wonderful aspects of poetry. Read it every chance you get and try to write some every now and then. You won’t be disappointed.

And as promised…an old poem from ca. 2005.

The Allergy Express


eating berries
Slopping through the morning, weary.

Roller coaster,
whole wheat toaster,
tastes so friggin’ ordinary.

not colitis,
has me down and out and dreary.

brain demanding
I continue literary

good hydration
for what ails me, I’m not leary.

Need more tissue
not an issue,
sneezes too preliminary.

I am dizzy,
in a tizzy
guess I slowed and became bleary.

In my station,
that the train has stopped.