The Poetry Marathon Anthology 2017 Now Available on Amazon

poetry marathon anthology 2017

Once again, I’m so privileged to be included in this gorgeous anthology of crazy poets who challenged themselves to a frenzied mad dash marathon of poetry, a poem an hour for 24 hours. My poem is on the very last page.

Buy it here.  You’ll make someone happy for the holidays when you give them the gift of poetry while supporting poets and poetry (what the world needs now more than ever).

In the beginning, there were words: Ten for Today

I’m tired of beginnings. They’re exhausting, and it’s awfully hard to get them right. There’s nothing worse than starting something with a “meh”. Like reading a listicle that starts with a question: Are you getting enough vitamin B in your diet? Well here are 7 sources of that … blah, blah, blah.

 
I’m guilty of that sort of thing. It’s trite and boring.
 
Opening lines, like handshakes, create an impression. In grand literature, they’re extraordinary, memorable, once in a life time handshake that keeps on gripping you. Even my little-read college students have heard the line, “It was the best of times…” But Dickens is not alone or even the top of the greatest hits of first liners.
 
I like intriguing first liners like Philip Roth’s one about awakening one day to find himself an enormous breast–“It began oddly.” Or short punchy ones, like “I am not a total idiot.” I actually don’t remember the author of that one, but the line has stuck with me. Maybe that’s just me, and what sticks is random.
 
It’s challenging to be unique, innovative, and first in language. After all, we have only 26 letters at our disposal. How different can we be? Haven’t all the possible letter combinations been tapped? Is there still some one-of-a-kind combination yet to be splayed linearly across a page? Maybe that’s why I’m so fond of making up words that seem intuitively and associatively clear.
 
Though I suspect you don’t have to go that far to pen something new. Memoirist Patricia Hampl claims describing what you see, what you know, from your eyes alone is unique enough. No one’s lived your life or sees things precisely the way you do. Perspective. Lens.
 
It may not be a new alphabet, but it’s vision–and all that we’ve got.

Writing my way into the merry-go-round oblivion

January 13, 2017


Friday, the 13th. A writing day. All day. Buried in cybernetic space, capturing words and ideas like butterflies to the net, I emerged this evening disoriented. Have I been gone all day? Did I leave the house?
 
When I used to write papers in college, I’d experience that world spin standing still feeling, like just getting off the ferociously spinning playground merry go round where obstreperous middle school boys spin captives sick or flying. I’d spread papers out over the long, royal blue shag carpet of my apartment floor in the days before personal computers (gulp). I wouldn’t even get out of my pajamas for an entire weekend. Just staring at endless scribbled words. That was when I could write in nearly legible cursive penmanship.
 
I’d shuffle papers, pages and pages of written approaches, starts and stops, fits of penetrating insight overlaid with banal truths and just plain shitty prose. I turned and tossed the visions of literary geniuses and abstruse philosophical stalwarts of literary theory over and over in my head, never coming to a conclusion, never quite figuring it out.
 
But the stretch, though painful, felt like progress, growth and expansion. I felt my brain swell with inflammation and information. It hurt so good. I hated it. Loved and hated it.
 
The struggle is not the same now. I read better, comprehend more. Though merely a comp. lit major, I can write a short white paper section on patient warming techniques in the operating room through radiation, convection and conduction devices, condensing thermodynamics, biology and quantum physics into 750 words, like I did today. Before that I wrote about patient engagement strategies in healthcare, and after that I wrote about 5 superfoods for longevity.
 
No, the struggle is not so much in comprehension anymore as in attention span and endurance. I mean it’s all fascinating and boring at the same time. The process, the mechanics–blind fingertips smashing keys. But the flow–the lost time in some other realm–that’s what keeps me coming back for more.
 

Image: Rusted-playground-merry-go-round/pixabay

The 2016 Poetry Marathon Anthology


Now available on Amazon. My poem’s on page 80.

My second year taking part in this beast, a hell of my own making but a great creative distillery, I managed to squeeze out one worthy poem at least. I’m grateful for the Jans’ generosity in hosting this annual event and in compiling this anthology of selected poems from the event. 

Peace (and purchase :)). The proceeds go to the next year’s marathon.

Gaze

Digital Art and the Word Drop


That poet last night set spin wheeling nouns and verb sighs.

Just one.

His verses coursing by pleasurably permeable, sealed lids,

Just zero.

Shuttering a head hollowed of word, notion or expectation.

Just one.

Emptied, spaciously awaiting fellow travelers’ souvenirs.   

Just zero.

“Hear with eyes closed and you’ll see,” you once told me.

Just one.

Fluff-sniff uttered tears, sentimental notes on napkins, he

Just zero.

Etched lines pressed hard, full hearted and tritely delivered.

Just one.

 

But none, no magical words soothe-slid my ear’s tongue.

Just zero.

Like a sketched sea on an amber lit canvas of indigo waves

Just one.

You once cyber brushed in digital smears, dot and stroke,

Just zero.

In feathered illusion, simulations of depth, heat and space,

Just one.

But shallow and frail–less breath, less truth, less warmth–

Just zero.

Your screen nearly lifted me, lying flat across atoms and time:

Just one.

No light, no touch, no sight, no rhyme, no texture, no heights

Just zero.

Writing the Divine (Ten for Today)


August 8, 2016
 
I stuck a three-fold brochure entitled “What is Vedanta?” inside my book on writing. It’s a book mark but also a reminder. The pairing is everything.
 
The Vedanta is a philosophy based on the oldest scriptures of India, the Vedas. The basic premise teaches the divine in all of us, and the pursuit of the divine is all there is. Writing needs no definition. Most everyone writes.
 
But writing for some is more than communication, practical missives that need delivery to complete some operation, some function of human existence. Some of us write because it’s what we do to reach the divine in us. I’m not sure I’m including myself in that “us,” but I’d like to consider that conviction more.
 
More than God and the divine, the Vedanta embraces all other belief systems whose end goal is reaching the divine. In other words, it makes no difference the words or way, it’s making the journey that matters. And that’s sort of my approach to writing. I write. Every day. Some of it’s good, some not. No matter, it’s the doing that counts.
 
Some days writing is therapy. Some days it’s meditation. Others it’s creation, while still others–struggle. Writing is life. It’s all we do. Some of us.
 
The finest and lowest moments connect to writing: that painful process of birthing a poem, a story, an article, a listicle, even, like molding bramble, hay and rocks together to make a statue of the Mona Lisa. And then the miracle of finishing with something approximating Da Vinci’s girl, or even pretty damned close–well, that’s heavenly.
 
The struggle to achieve, find, see and discover the divine of us in, by, through and despite the Vedanta continues moment by moment. It is the ever-present, ever-elusive (seemingly) goal. Writing is the mock up. 

Twelve Minutes at the Bar


Perfect. I’ll do my ten-minute write here, a place I haven’t visited in a while. The last time I imbibed here–my usual IPA per the bartender’s suggestion–I wrote a piece that my editor thought worthy of publishing. Perhaps inspiration will visit again. 

Swallowing quickly the two offered shot glass sampler selections, surprisingly I choose the Pale Ale. It’s smooth and hoppy, more like an IPA than the IPA the bartender had me try.

I have not been here–a place exactly five minutes walking distance from my house–because I drink beer here, always drink a happy hour beer here, and I have not wanted to anesthetize in beer-land for a couple months or so. But today feels like the day. There is nothing to hide from, just the spirit of the day I nod to in being here.

Tomorrow I will embark on a road trip up to the far up north, another soccer tournament. With three soccer 17-year olds and a commiserating partner in tow, I will head for Davis and watch the road blur by as I gaze out the window and ponder the big and small questions: What did Jack Kerouac do on the road when he wasn’t taking notes for his novel? How many almond trees are actually out there in endless rows? Will I have time to yoga? Will she play well? How did pioneers foot and horse all of this, leagues and leagues of open vistas, dirt, dust and brush?

My eyes welcome open spaces, too often closed in confined spaces of the classroom, bedroom, kitchen, grocery store and local restaurants for a bite. Change of scenery flips the creative thought channels. Floating. Not like a pc drags me through the cyber-sphere.

The ten minute timer went off, but so did my notification buzz for a text message. She got a haircut and lost ten pounds. She looks the same–memory mine. 

Seated at the after thought extension of the bar, maybe the disabled low table, the woman next to me, leaving half her appetizer over, declares to the server, “Close out.” I ignored her while I wrote this but meant to pay her a few words of invitation to conversate. Too late, as ever.  But I’m sure her life bends back way past this moment and my feeble speculations about her momentary needs, wants and reasons to be at this bar. Now I’ll just have to create her story without her.

The Poetry of Being

  
The components of being build essences of the all told, acted, sung and noted.

They shake out doings done and yet to come like San Andreas’ fault, not a fault. 

Did we quake? My shoulders shuddered like a surge, a heart murmur or eruption.

No, the inner mechanics of rebellion taking a stand on all things ingest just arose.

When the ear throbbing starts, I know I’m lost to it, going into floated notice din.

My heartbeat declares so loudly inside my ears in its under water muffle-areum.

I doubt creation’s pen then, my mouth moving silently, my hands ripping at keys.

Keyboard fingers fly like the cocaine toad hopping brain’s clicking away at strings.

There’s this word association that bleeds writing, a lapse, slide gurgle into them:

Strung words, the meaning of which is not revealed until they mix and sit together.

They settle in a rhythm and slur, brushed water tinted smears blotting tilted space.

Poetry and being entwine thus: letter, scene, wish, guess all overlaid in blindness. 

Squeezed juice, the nothing of matter becomes me-you, and we polish air’s shine.

There is no Word 

  

A word run rough shod over

centuries long rendering it

nearly vacuous, the emotion

contained within reduced to 

pithy sayings and pathetic poems,

some I have penned myself,

and pretty memes inspiring

less than more by over exposure,

how can this word be explained,

described and painted accurately?

Perhaps a paragraph filled with

affectionate acts is enough:

a driver slamming the brakes

screeching at a near miss cat kill, or

the 80 year old’s collapse at his sixty

year marriage’s cease upon awakening

to his wife’s motionless body, or

the wide open daddy arms anticipating

embrace at the first steps’ trail’s end?

Too Hallmark, Facebook sentimental?

What about soldiers or police officers

arm in arm in solidarity, peril-pals

undying, or prom dates in wide grins,

shy shoulder-slumped and side glance

photos or sunset hand-holding clips

or tears and aching hearts and darkness

as corollary preceded by its inverse,

heart-pounding, heady ecstasy-like

near nausea and enervating hysterical

joy found only in the scent, touch and

sound of the key to a lock match tight,

the yes to the life-long approval sought?

Too banal, trite, common, overblown?

Try this:

What is the square root of a 24-hour

day that begins in darkness with a howl,

signaling the death knell to the dying wish

of a martyr–just one more hour’s peaceful

sleep–a howl that electrocutes nerve

endings everwhere, that only patient 

tender care will quiet a defenseless being

suckling, emitting the sweet aromas of

new warmth baking mother’s milk like 

raisin toast popping sweet and savory,

and a once eyes-for-only lover cum

zombie escaping grey-eyed and sallow

briefcase in hand out the door shut-grunt

leaving only wispy cool air in a dim den’s

stale morning stuffy exhausted eye-burn,

bone-weary sympathy for the life made

and lived now, nostalgia and hope stew 

simmering on the stove daily, all repeat,

all gone now the glimmering show in 

new leather pumps price-tag clicking 

and tailored skirts tucking in silk blouses

hanging dusty in closed closets blear-eyes

catatonically fix on blindly automatonic as

day ends where it began, only now the 

briefcase rests against the chair close

to the snores emitted from the dead man’s

sleep craved more than the man who

made this life leaked out exhaled in the

other’s breath and yours, theirs, ours hourly,

daily, yearly and ever so in smiles and frowns,

razored sight and heart, grim boredom and

coffee steam morning’s quiet contentment

and grasping an idea finally that endings

and beginnings are the same and conclusions

are illusions and passion is stillness while 

death has always meant living, the chaos of

it the only order ever it was, patterning 

a day-long life? The square root of it.

That, my dear, generates, defines and

encapsulates the engine and caboose.
 

Happy pledge, notice and honor to what makes us, us.