Friday, June 23, 2017



 
--SOMETIMES THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS ARE ENTIRELY ACCIDENTAL

               
I Promise

 
And the night is sometimes like this,

cloudless, barren and naked,

same as a nervous girl

disrobing for a boy the first time.

Look, even the stars are

too shy to show themselves tonight.

Somewhere an owl is watching,

pensive and patient,

but what use is that?

Or the temperamental moon,

nodding its head northward,

space a never-ending shall?

You merely want what other people have,

dreams that make no sense,

an evening without waking and

wondering why love has

abandoned you this way.

But listen, sometimes the night can

no longer keep secrets.

It needs attention, too,

someone to seem interested in it,

as fickle as anyone of us.

There will be other evenings, though,

I promise, when love will arrive

like a hot seam of wind through a closed door,

wrapping its flesh-filled arms around you,

it will caress your face and smooth your hair.

It will say you’re beautiful and be truthful.

It will answer every mystery and riddle

you’ve ever had.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017


 

--THE HAMMER IS NOTHING WITHOUT THE NAIL
 

…I am home from having been down south a bit at my second home.  (It’s not really my second home, but might as well be.)

I spent the good chunk of a day walking downtown Portland.  It was lovely and mesmerizing, and in some respects similar to San Diego.

I started at a coffee shop called Mug Shots were they played Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal” and Hard Fi “Hard to Beat” (who even knows Hard Fi?) and my favorite Cure song “Close To You.”

I was in Powell’s for well over an hour.  I got a bag of terrific books.  Made me happy.

I saw a shoplifter being chased out of vintage clothing store.  The manager was on the heavy side, so  she gave up quite quickly.  The thief had four pair of pants with the hangers still on them tucked under his arms.  While I don’t condone his actions, he really looked like he could use some new clothes, that and a good meal.

It’s hard not to run into homeless people in Portland.  I decided I would give some money to whoever asked.  I gave away a lot of money.  But that’s okay.

I found this artist sitting on the sidewalk outside some store with her work displayed and I bought a really cool piece.  She was so proud and happy, so of course that made me happy.

I saw a scraggly looking young guy, maybe twenty, pushing a stroller with a toddler inside.  The scraggly dude crossed Broadway in bare feet, smoking while singing to a Green Day song and still somehow managed to get that stroller across the street.

I had some fabulous steak and eggs for breakfast and some delicious sushi for early afternoon Linner (lunch and dinner combined).

I saw some really unique and compelling retail.  I took a ton of pictures, even of odd random things that were artistically appealing.  People would stop and wonder if they shouldn’t be taking a photo as well.  (It’s not too difficult to get me excited about something—just splash some multi-colored paint on an old Schwinn bike and I’ll be clicking away.)

Places I walked by had very fresh, fun names:
Garnish, Fringe, Potted In Portland, It’s All Good, Bamboo, Largo, Zeus Bar, Quick Fish Poke Bar, Self Edge, Wild Fang….

Oh, and I bought some handmade soap (another thing I’m a sucker for), some cool cards and some jewellery.

In case you can’t tell, it was a fantastic day and the night was even way, way better…

...Here are some things to ponder on a Wednesday evening: 

-"I will make love my greatest weapon and none on who I call can defend against its force....My love will melt all hearts liken to the sun whose rays soften the coldest day." Og Mandino

-"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time." Betty Smith

-"Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly." Robert Schuller

-"At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable." Christopher Reeve

-"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." Walt Disney


Saturday, June 17, 2017



 
--GOT TO KEEP IT TOGETHER WHEN YOUR FRIENDS COME BY

 

…I’m headed down south to Portland early tomorrow morning, back Wednesday, so thought I’d post now.

…The day before yesterday I got an email offering me discounted belly dancing lessons and today an email came through with the header: Awesome Wood DIY.  Made me laugh.  I don’t really need any help giving myself awesome wood.

…As I write this there’s someone swimming the length of the lake.  Brave soul.

A little farther down, there’s a stream of thirty geese floating away because I just yelled at them after they were destroying the lawn next door.

…The downside to running long is it sucks the life out of you and there’s scant creative energy to muster.  But don’t most good things have a downside?

On a related note, I definitely have the ugliest toes on the planet.  We’re talking Neanderthal feet and toes.

…My boy has a new song out and I don’t think I like it much:


…What I do like is So You Think You Can Dance, which is literally poetry set to motion.  I wish more people watched it.

Here are my two faves from the recent episode:


(This guy was on all kinds of violin scholarships we he discovered dance and gave up everything for his love of it)


(These two are from Russia.  Never seen anything quite like them.)

…So Happy Father’s Day if you are one or have one.  I hope you have a great day reveling in love.  I’ll be reveling in a little mischief, not a lot but hopefully some.
,
 

 

Friday, June 16, 2017


 

--I KEEP PICKING FIGHTS WITH MYSELF

 
                                                                  The Psychic                      

My mother says her friend is psychic, that she can predict the weather and impending divorces, so when the woman comes to visit I’m just as nervous as I was when Doc gave me the news.

            It might not have been so awkward if Mother had been with, but be that as it may, I offer “Coffee or tea?” and the psychic says, “Yes, black,” which throws me even more off balance because it could be either, right?

            While I fill a canister with tap water, she slinks up behind me like a cat as her supple hands move across my little bump of a belly, threads of electricity humming from her fingertips, taking measure, reading signs, tapping here and there the way you’d test a melon.  I wait a good long time before I finally say, “Well?”

            She removes her hands and dusts her palms off, a baker done for the day, and says definitively that it’s a boy and that he’ll look just like his father but be as destructive, too.

            When she’s gone, a scalding coil of guilt sluices through my gut, and still I look up the number and place the call.  I’m as strong as the next woman, yet, warned or not, there’s only room for so much evil in this world.

 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017



 
--THERE’S A LAYER BENEATH ALL THE LAYERS I KNEW

 
…I have a nice mention in the fifth paragraph of this interview with David Galef.  I’m also featured in his book, BREVITY and will be doing a panel with him and two others at next year’s AWP:


…This book is coming out on September 8th.  It’s always a big deal in my world, and this year I’m actually in it.  Yay.

The Best Small Fictions 2017 Guest Edited by Amy Hempel Series Editor Tara L. Masih

The Best Small Fictions 2017 offers readers 55 exceptional small fictions by 53 authors. This acclaimed new annual series, hailed as a “milestone for the short story,” continues to honor contemporary masters and emerging writers of short-short and hybrid forms from across the globe. Guest editor Amy Hempel chose the winners from a pool of 105 finalists: “They conjure and seduce, they startle and haunt, they are funny and searing, short and shorter.” The 2017 volume includes Pamela Painter, Brian Doyle, Ian Seed, Frankie McMillan, Karen Brennan, Stuart Dybek, and W. Todd Kaneko, and spotlights Joy Williams and SmokeLong Quarterly.

  “I believe The Best Small Fictions . . . is an extraordinarily important literary event.” —Robert Olen Butler

“The Best Small Fictions . . . could be at the forefront of a burgeoning cultural movement.”  —The Newtown Review of Books

“It will be well worth your while to spend a minute or 60 with some of the brightest concise writing available today.” —NewPages

“The Best Small Fictions has its finger on the pulse . . . each little gem contains a universe, teeth bared. Explore them at your own risk.” —Prick of the Spindle

“In this extraordinary collection of small fictions . . . readers are gifted with stories that slap wings onto their backs or drop anchors into their hearts, oftentimes both.” —The Small Press Book Review

“Super-short stories . . . have exploded in popularity. Where should newbies start? With Best Small Fictions . . . [r]eaders will be introduced to a wealth of fresh and existing talent. . . . Discover some haunting voices for yourself this fall.”  —BookTrib

Featuring small fictions by
Nick Admussen ~ Nick Almeida ~ Lydia Armstrong ~ Matthew Baker Amy Sayre Baptista ~ Karen Brennan ~ Larry Brown ~ Randall Brown Erin Calabria ~ Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello ~ Carrie Cooperider Emily Corwin ~ Christopher DeWan ~ Brian Doyle ~ Stuart Dybek Kathy Fish ~ Sherrie Flick ~ Scott Garson ~ Jesse Goolsby Michael Hammerle ~ Hannah Harlow ~ Allegra Hyde ~ W. Todd Kaneko Joy Katz ~ Jen Knox ~ Len Kuntz ~ Tara Laskowski ~ Oscar Mancinas Ras Mashramani ~ Frankie McMillan ~ Heather McQuillan ~ Cole Meyer Eugenie Montague ~ Pamela Painter ~ Alvin Park ~ Kimberly King Parsons Gen Del Raye ~ Mona Leigh Rose ~ Na’amen Gobert Tilahun Cameron Quincy Todd ~ Matt Sailor ~ Rebecca Schiff ~ Robert Scotellaro Ian Seed ~ Alex Simand ~ Julia Slavin ~ Michael C. Smith Phillip Sterling ~ Anne Valente ~ Harriot West ~ Joy Williams Keith Woodruff ~ William Woolfitt

 
…This is a little quiet at the beginning, but stick with it to the end.  It made me laugh:


…This is a little long, but it’s God talking about receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature:


 …This is a very long, but very touching story about adorable Chika:


…And lastly, here are a few things I like in the middle of the week:

-“You have changed the way I think about love.” Jack, “This Is Us”

-“You have all these things in life that are really fickle, but in the end it’s really about the relationships we have.” Bear Grylls

-“Remember, we only really start living when we do whatever we can to help other people live a better life.” Bear Grylls

-“One friend with whom you have things in common is better than three friends with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.” Mindy Kaling

“I haven’t given much thought to regrets.  When I get through living, I may go it then.” John Haws, 102 years old

 

 

Monday, June 12, 2017



--EVERYONE THAT GREETED ME WAS MOVING SLOW AND DRINKING FAST.  I WAS LOST INSIDE A PAINTING ON THE WALL.

 
A Necessary Thing

 
Remember that time you thought you might actually be a vampire, a werewolf, a normal person
Remember that time you met your first monster face-to-face and it looked very familiar
Remember that first time you heard them, and then all the times after that, how it never got better
Remember that time you saw the window explode, the stubby end of an arrow stuck in a sprocket of glass like symbolism
Remember that time you swore you’d never drink coffee or beer, never take drugs
Remember that time you told God to Fuck off and weren’t scared in the least
Remember that time you said God if you’re real please don’t let me die
(Why’d you do that if you’d already told Him to Fuck off)
Remember that time you fell asleep on a makeshift raft and almost flipped over the falls
Remember that time you cleaned every surface because your parents were screaming and it seemed like a necessary thing to do, something that might help repair them
Remember that other time when your mother led the herd of you through a night of sleet and snow saying about your father We’re out of here I hate that sonofabitch
Remember that time you were nine, when everything became real and true, and you walked bare-chested in the rain trying to be brave because you were anything but
Remember that time you had nothing to say so you made shit up just to be able to have a conversation with the woman who was your mother, who made you, who made dinner and sometimes breakfast, who wasn’t a very good mother at all, sorry to say
Remember that time you were a Peeping Tom and got an eye full
Remember that time you got an eye full when you were actually looking the other way
Remember that time a pheasant flew into the picture window and you ate it for dinner
Remember that time the police came and you were happy to see them, said Stay a while Let me show you around
Remember that time you thought dreams could be had and you pasted posters on the walls when you ran for President at age nine
Remember that time at age nine
Remember that time at age nine
Remember that time at age
Remember that time later when you saw the first crease of skin and mortality introduced itself, offering a shifty grin, like it knew so many scary things about you
Remember that time when you confused birth control with Aspirin, thought they were taken arbitrarily, realizing the girl was just a girl looking for a lay, not a soulmate, and it broke off a piece of you
Remember that time a friend grabbed your shirt collar and yanked you backwards so that city bus didn’t flatten you
Remember that time
Remember that time
There are so many times to remember let’s just jump ahead shall we
Remember that time you were a very bad dog owner
Remember that time you were a very bad person
Remember that time you (actually) said I love this company the way a man loves a woman
Remember that time you emailed at 3:11 am and got one back saying you were more or less stupid
Remember that time when you said sleep is overrated
That time I wished I’d had more kids
That I’ve had a good life
That I could die tomorrow and it would be okay
Do you remember any of that stuff
Maybe you should revisit it
It’s not too late
The sun’s coming up tomorrow
Just look out the window
And see if it hasn’t already bloomed
Staring back at you for an honest answer

  

Friday, June 9, 2017


 

--AND ALL I CAN DO IS SAY PLEASE, PLEASE, BABY PLEASE
 

…It’s Friday feeling like it’s Saturday not wanting to be Monday, though maybe it actually does.

…Today, already, I’ve seen every kind of cloud.  Early on it looked like a war was happening in the skies, everything sooty gray and claustrophobic, clouds with terrific wingspans, clouds wearing 1980’s shoulder pads, one cloud after the other trying to crowd out the next, like the paparazzi or groupies desperate to make it inside the room.

When the rains started everything lightened, not totally, mind you, but a little.  It felt like a release, like popping a ripe blister on your big toe.  The clouds looked like tattered sheets, like old garage rags washed and dried yet still lightly stained with grease.

Now the clouds are swimming overhead, acres of white pillows, cotton-headed with billowed bellies and the chubbiest ankles you’ve ever seen.  They’re kind of adorable and most definitely entrancing.

Clouds are like fish tanks or lava lamps or a campfire.  It’s easy to stare at them for hours.  There’s no need for narcotics when you have clouds like these floating out your window.

Come have a look…

…I had this happy poem published in a really wonderful journal which uses very slick and intriguing art with each piece they publish:


…And the other day I got a contributor’s copy of the new Slag Journal.  I’m guessing only 30 to 40 people read the magazine, which is very sad, because it’s one of the best journals out there, lovingly done, with heavy paper stock and artwork that stuns.

I have the first two (happy) poems to lead off the issue.  I may have posted them before, but if not, here they are:

 
Menagerie

There is seam in this bottle
Straight as a cesarean scar
Where the two glass halves kiss
I would like to be constructed like that
Bound and connected to another thing so perfectly
Outside on the dock by the lake hatpin skinny girls
In string bikinis absorb midday sun
Believing it will cure something
Camouflage or strip away certain sins
So boys will see them differently
I’d like to tell them not to be so foolish
That perfection is a manmade hoax
A menagerie in photo-shopped magazines
But then I shouldn’t even be looking their way
Men under twenty maybe yes
But not a derelict fifty year old like me
The sexiest thing close at hand is
This table littered with drained Coronas
And an ashtray without ash
Gleaming like a colorless eye
Empty but for a discarded wedding band

 

Fishing

This is the perfect place
For drowning
Have you noticed?
It’s deepest in the cove
Where someone demolished
The beaver dam of evergreen limbs
Laced like arthritic fingers
Beneath the green-gray murk
Take the chain and tie it around my waist
Synch it tight because
I’m so thin now that people think I’m dying
Toss me overboard with an anchor
Count to one hundred backwards
Then float to the other end
Where all the really big fish
Are bored and biting