Haiku & Other News

There are azaleas bursting to life in the front yard, and an unwanted pond in the back. In the meantime, while my head has been full of finishing THE NOVEL, Daniel Paul Marshall has shared some of my poems over at The Zen Space.

Thank you, Daniel. I adore the photographs featured on the Showcase and can’t wait to devour read all the other poems featured!

Memory Fades

There is a fifth season. Autumn has its golden light and breezes that sift away bright leaves. Winter has its dreary skies, slick roads and frozen windshields. Spring births greenery and multicolored blooms, brand new allergies. Then there is Summer’s damp blanket heat and late concerts of insects wanting more.

Weather forecasters don’t mention the fifth season much, because it is an anomole that can bring itself forth betwixt any of the big four. In the past Mudhole Days have swallowed up entire Tennessee Springs and Summers. Confused Autumn and Winter so badly one year the harvest moon showed up in a three hour long hard freeze and mosquitos swarmed on Christmas Day.

The Mudhole Days have no celebrations, only the solemn rituals of floor mopping and staring at bad hair. Some parents warn their children that this is a time of dreadful suffering, so eat your vegetables or else.

The old folks say that back before the internet happened, one fifth season lasted an entire year. But the weather channel claims not to have any record of such a thing.

How To

How do you get over this? How do you go through the motions of being a responsible adult? Pay the bills, clean the kitchen … carry on as if you didn’t just create a living breathing multi-faceted heart racing story rich with blood and bones and human foibles. How do you step away from the page?

How do you stay with the page and fight off the creeping sensation that you are the only fan of this story? All that will ever be, because it won’t see the light of day. You’ll fail somehow. Fall on your face when an agent rejects it. Maybe never send it to an agent or a writerly reading friend, or anywhere at all.

The story full of fear and hope and shame and memory will sit in a doc file until doc files are obsolete, and you never really accomplished anything other than spending hours, weeks, a year of your life wanting. In between the day job days and the chores and hitting that submit button for yet another of all the online payments in your life, maybe what you really did was waste daylight and ink.

In between sporadic bouts of self-care and wish lists, and allergy attacks, you have handmade characters so real all there is to do is reach out and touch, say good morning. Good night. Sweet dreams until tomorrow. Everything will be okay, eventually. Tell me how to keep them alive.

Tell me how to get to the end. Not THE END. That’s just around the corner. But the end of the process, the culmination of imagination, inspiration, hard work. What’s next? What comes after the end?

How do you say Deus Ex Machina in Gaelic?

Boy howdy! Does Jamie get saved by the hair of that fine, fine chin an awful lot! Sure, he’s suffered terrible treatment over the years, treatment meant to torture the life out of him … but that God in the Machine just keeps on churning out the salvation. (Warning: there are spoilers for Outlander’s Season 3 ahead.)

Last week’s episode was emotional, but I’m not sure it evoked the intended emotions. Fairly certain I hate Claire with a much bigger hate now. But I keep checking that, questioning myself. Trying to (and this may seem a bit beyond the point) see her as a real person, trying to step into her shoes, rather than feeling around the screenwriter’s page for insight. Ok, so let’s think in terms of real life for a moment. It’s true people can over-complicate their situations out of sheer stubbornness, narrow mindedness, emotional pain, etc. True.

Is that what happened with Claire? Why she couldn’t articulate to Frank, hey, I’ve always loved you. When I was stuck in 18th century Scotland that first few months I was utterly miserable and desperate to get back to you, I swear! She’s so perfect in everything except dealing with what’s happening right in front of her face, am I wrong? So there’s poor old Frank dead from drunk driving AND NOW SHE APOLOGIZES? NOW SHE FEELS REMORSE FOR TREATING HIM LIKE SHIT AFTER MAKING AN IMPOSSIBLE BARGAIN?

At this point I can just imagine her going through the stones and reuniting with Jamie only to bitch at him for not coming to find her, or for getting some inlander strange once or twice over the past two decades. Yeah, she’s totally going to find a way to screw that up.

Meanwhile, Jamie’s getting into one near-fatal scrape after another and all the gay boys find him impossibly irresistible. At least the warden wasn’t a sadist. At least. Poor Jamie’s major flaw seems to be his charm. Will it be the death of him before Claire can get there to needlessly over-complicate his life some more?

It seems to me that these characters’ path is twisty enough without the author (or the screenwriters?) creating more perils for them to wrestle out of. Yes, I do prefer a bit of plausibility in my fiction.

Maybe tonight’s episode will convince be, once and for all, if I should succumb to the screenwriters or go ahead and get the books to find out, once and for all, if Claire stupidity and deus ex machina reigned so hard throughout the original pages.

Road Sounds

The dream of small towns being miles off, cities being hundreds of miles off, hearing none of their road sounds or the blustering voices of their inhabitants, that dream belonged to my grandfather. He wanted to walk out onto his porch in early light, sipping coffee, and hear nothing but the occasional noise chickens make when wrestling breakfast from the soft ground above the creek. By then, the roosters would have hushed their wake-up calls and whatever night critters had been scuttling around had long since gone off to bed. His dream was dark nights turned daylight unpolluted by traffic or socializing with people who liked to make traffic. People who liked car radios, guzzled fuel and convenience store snacks, and always seemed to find places to go to later complain about.

He wanted none of it. He claimed this was perfection, but still considered moving out past his quiet green hills upon discovering a “neighbor” had gotten the gumption to start building fences and running a tractor just a mile away. We were concerned he wouldn’t get over the insult.

Being out there frightened me, thrilled me, centered me. The trees were full of racket at nightfall, not always musical. And beyond the creek, where sunlight never dared to drip down, came threatening feline screeches that froze my blood. Those screeches made my grandfather laugh softly. Whatever animal could make such blood freezing noise, though unseen, unnamed as far as I knew, gained his admiration. He liked the mystery of it, the threat, and didn’t have to warn me twice to stay within sight of the house. His land was wild, bounding with the kind of quiet he cherished. A property split in half by a skinny dirt road no one seemed inclined to travel, and if they did, oh Grandpa made sure to watch their taillights until they disappeared for good. He’d more likely invite one of those screeching wildcats onto his porch than wave at passersby.

I still remember the scent of the soil. The feel of that creek water, wintry cold even in the leaden heat of August. I remember the feel and scent of sweat wetting my face and forearms as I climbed tree limbs, or tried to walk carefully between the rows of a summer cornfield. To say those memories are precious is an understatement. To say that I still love the scent and feel of rich black soil and my own sweat is absolute truth. How I would love to be there now, as an adult, listening to chickens feed themselves and wondering what thing hid beyond the darkness of the creek bed as I put seedlings into the ground right on the spot where he once had his garden.

I do wonder what Grandpa might think about my equal love for city life. The rush rush and abrupt halts, the voices, the bridge lights and tall buildings and narrow streets. At this moment I’m listening to cars rounding the bend of Riverside Drive, way too fast. Rain has fallen for almost twelve hours, nonstop, and the sound of speeding tire rubber splashing past reminds me of marching band cymbals. Exuberant road sounds punctuate voices carrying from the sidewalks and parking lot, laughter sometimes, sometimes arguments, complaints, conversation via speaker phone. Saxophone music, blues guitar, birdsong, motorcycles growling, the screech and whine of sirens. It’s all mine.

Read To Me – Day Four

To The Whore Who Took My Poems, by Charles Bukowski

some say we should keep personal remorse from the
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this,
but jezus;
twelve poems gone and I don’t keep carbons and you have
paintings too, my best ones; its stifling:
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them?
why didn’t you take my money? they usually do
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner.
next time take my left arm or a fifty
but not my poems:
I’m not Shakespeare
but sometime simply
there won’t be any more, abstract or otherwise;
there’ll always be money and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much

Bukowski is a repulsive liquor-soaked, ill-mannered, crotchety old fart chauvinist railing against the world that’s out to get him. And he is fucking beautiful. If you haven’t yet seen the documentary, Bukowski: Born into This, it’s on Netflix, and it’s worth your time. Especially if you’re already in a bad mood. Hank might just cheer you up.

My contribution to APAD, Day 4 is Secrets.

What are y’all reading and writing?

Read To Me — Day Three

Introduction to Poetry, by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins is one of those rare breeds of artists — he is an intellectual poet with a sense of humor. His poems are quirky, thought provoking, and downright fun. A lot of my own work tends to lean toward the dark side; even so, I wish I could be Billy Collins when I grow up.

My contribution to APAD, Day 3 is Woe — a demonstration of my tendency to go dark. *shrugs* I don’t know… I really do like rainbows and pretty flowers. They just rarely make an appearance in my writing.

Back to Billy: When he made an appearance on Ted Talks, I just nearly swooned.

Brigit’s Flame Updates

Entries for the final March topic, The Devil I Have Not Met, are due by 11 p.m. EST tonight! Part 1 of my own reworked story entitled the same is here. Constructive criticism, or just acknowledgment that you have read, is appreciated!

And, in newer news, there is an Artists & Writers Contest in effect for the coming week. We want your art!


So This Happened …

I’m working like mad on the z-fic and guess what? Another old story starts playing at full volume, demanding attention. At fist I thought, this is ridiculous. Shut up. I’m busy. Then I realized, who am I to argue? So, yesterday I completed a 6000+ word second draft — Part 1 of a story originally titled “The Reaping”.

The star of this story is Grace. Like my girl, Holly, Grace has a fairly specific skill set she must rely on to protect herself from mystical freaks. Unlike Holly, Grace is no warrior, so the Universe sees fit to provide her with one. His name is Gavin.

It’s obvious to me at this point that composing the prompt for Week Four at Brigit’s Flame subconsciously dug up Grace’s story, regardless of the fact that I had no intention to work on it until next month. I won’t be entering the reworked piece in the Just For Fun segment of the contest (since I’m the host), but I did decide to post Part 1 beneath the Fiction tab here on the website for my friends to read.

Working with Grace again has been fun. Here’s to hoping that deviating from my schedule won’t cause me serious delays on getting the collection completed.

What are y’all writing?