Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bike Ride Around America

John Hall is a friend and former classmate of my older brother. I say “older” because, although there are only two of us, I am six years younger and much better looking. But I digress. John’s wife Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer and, thankfully, she is doing very well after a year of treatment. At 62, John is riding 12,000 miles around the perimeter of America to raise awareness about cancer and funds for cancer research. You may make donations to the Lance Armstrong Foundation or the Providence Alaska Medical Center (John is an ER physician who lives in Anchorage) or find out more about John, his odyssey, and his wife by simply visiting his blog at Bike Ride Around America . If you simply want to wish him well or offer your prayers and support, I know he would appreciate a comment on his blog. Although he has a small support team traveling with him, it’s a long journey and will take 120 days. It is John's hope that if he can save just one life by encouraging someone to get a mammogram, the ride will have been worth it. There are links to his site in the sidebar (Support Cancer Research) and link list number two. The first pic is John biking across the Mississippi River, heading into Louisiana. The second is a pic of John. Thanks all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

One Single Impression: Color

red hair on shoulders
the sun speaks copper accents
I study abroad

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hot Green Apocalypse

The road is serpentine,
ten thousand years old
and disappearing into the thicket
of ultimate repose.

It is a bad omen.
Stone and fire
have glinted machinery
from the void,

steam and atoms
spiraling into the hands
of a smith
girding the planet in steel.

The beast has consumed
ribbons of rust,
lapping clouds
of red miasma.

The holy man and poet
die in their caves
while the earth purges itself
in hot green apocalypse.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


First, a little housekeeping. Both Shauna and Bernita are running PAYING IT FORWARD contests at Shauna Roberts' For Love of Words and An Innocent A-Blog respectively. (Charles, I missed yours because I did my taxes at the last minute--mea culpa.)

The following poem was one of my first posts when I started blogging last November. I'm bringing it back now that the blog is up and running, so to speak, and because today is going to be very busy. And oldie and, hopefully, a goody.

Outside, the moon floats through a leafless tree,
riding peaceably the road well taken
through Orion with his boots in the snow.
A mongrel underneath the tree
paws the ground at carp in the stream,
settles composedly in a mongrel’s dream.
Within, the woman turns, unawakened,
leaving the trace of a dream in a sigh,
and draws the patchwork tighter over shoulders and hips
weighted in the furnace hiss that serves as lullaby.
There is no reading to be done,
no study of poets, of Coleridge
contemplating frost at midnight.
Rather, the plumb for stillness wrapped in ice,
the maple sprig glazed by the stream,
is the night itself, dark and frozen,
hanging from the silver throne of Betelgeuse
by a rarefied thread that issues
the sounding of a sleeping world:
life, like the north gate,
is held fast in winter’s skin,
and yet there is the fire of a cold star,
sap-filled roots, a moon riding the sky.
There is a pulse in the stream, somewhere.
There is the trace of a dream in a sigh.

(First published in American Poets & Poetry, 1999)

picture: copyright, William Hammett, 2007.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Afternoon Prayer

I toss a handful of words on the meadow
while pondering seeds and the hidden nature of things.

A stone rolls away from the tomb
as I resume sweeping the porch.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Amazon to Discontinue POD Titles Not Printed by BookSurge?

Angela Hoy, editor of Writers Weekly newsletter, alerted me this past week of news pertaining to the publishing practices of Amazon, which recently bought BookSurge. I know many of you publish with major houses, some with independent presses, and some with POD outfits. As a ghostwriter, I keep abreast of the POD industry since some of my clients are businessmen or women, such as motivational speakers or business owners, who wish to self-publish or use POD to publish "in-house" because they have their own marketing platforms. I thought the following was interesting and so am passing it along.

Since acquiring BookSurge, Amazon intends to gradually disable the "buy" buttons on its website for all POD books not published through BookSurge. (Why Amazon would want to do this is a bit strange since BookSurge, like Publish America, is erratic in the quality of its product and receives a lot of complaints at Writer Beware and other online watchdog groups ... which is not to say that all of their clients are dissatisfied.)

It's also a strange marketing move on the part of Amazon since, while the average POD title only sells 148 copies, Amazon nevertheless sells tens of thousands of POD titles every year.

The Washington State Office of the Attorney General has received numerous complaints from both POD companies and individuals. The Attorney General's office believes that such a move by Amazon may well constitute "monopolistic practices" and has referred the issue to its anti-trust division. Links to the Writers Weekly article and the response by the Washington State Office of the Attorney General are provided below. The Writers Weekly article has internal links for anyone who wishes to register a complaint with Amazon.

It's true that most POD titles are poorly written and edited, but not all. But that misses the point. People should have an outlet for their work, and let's face it: while there are other online sellers, such as B&N, Borders, Books-a-Million and a hundred others, people gravitate to Amazon for books like shoppers gravitate to Wal-Mart for laundry baskets and kitchen utensils. With traditional publishing being very hard to break into, I also think it's a bit Orwellian to start limiting the ideas that can reach mass circulation.

Writers Weekly article: Writers Weekly: Let BookSurge Print Your Books--or Else

The Attorney General's Response:
Washington State Office of the Attorney General

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Dead Are Forever Writing Letters

The dead are forever writing letters,
their bodies mulching into leaves.

Maple parchment tells me a young bride
was killed by the undertaker’s son.

Snow and dirt and time
archive the words we choose in death.

Free verse or rhyme,
we are all published in the end.

Monday, April 7, 2008


at last I stand on the savannah

the sun carries away
the final day

the flat acacia supports twilight

all others have gone
into the long night
of a thousand years

over at last
the millennia

crickets smooth the grass
with song

the last word
or the first

I raise my arms
to become
the mountain in some new creation

Eve steps lightly from behind

this time she will not charm
or listen to the twisted vine

Friday, April 4, 2008

Stream of Consciousness Friday

One can't have too many reminders that this is Autism Awareness Month, Please check out the blogs at snoopmurph and also Mother of Shrek to find really great info on autism, as well as blogs authored by parents with the most loving of hearts. I know there are many more such parents--if I have forgotten you, please forgive me.
As many of you know, Dave Kuzminski at P&E is being sued by a publisher and two agents because he had the audacity to do what he has done best for approximately a decade: tell people who's honest and who's not. He doesn't deserve this and is considered one of the straight shooters in the writing community. He is asking for help with his legal defense. You can click on a DONATE button at Preditors and Editors. Even A-list agents don't always act professionally, and Dave's source of info is invaluable.

I started posting some flash fiction a month or two ago, and at the time I supplied a link to the work of David B. McCoy, who, like myself, is a fan of quirky short fiction. Since 1978 he ran Spare Change Press. David emailed me recently after a Google search turned up his link on my blog and told me about his other work. Anyone interested in some good short fiction can find more about David B. McCoy at David B. McCoy and Origami Condom Issues and finally The Book of Scars.

Stream of Consciousness Friday

today we’re playing for a sunbeam grilled cheese maker … friday’s quiz: how many people know what etaoin shrdlu means? … true story: i once almost killed a groundskeeper the only time i played golf … some guy dove behind his truck just in time … an errant ball … speaking of errant balls … better not go there … hello would you like to go to the errant ball tonight … go red sox … i’m not an actor but I play one on tv … mark twain said opera isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds … like most libras i don’t believe in astrology … i once almost had the fillings slapped out of my teeth many many years ago when I decided to see if the produce section really was the place where singles met … “how can you tell if they’re ripe?” says i … i wonder if she knew how to make errant melon balls … let’s have some animation again … enough with the pixar stuff already … well, the nurse says I have to go to the day room for my meds … so long until next post … good night errant good night john boy

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


[For latest prompt at One Single Impression]

They are the guardians of color,
the avatars of belly flop
and gargantuan guffaw.

With rainbow frizz
above flat feet slapping laughs,
they embrace the innocence of all mistakes

as they pratfall into dreams,
greasepaint smiling like a loon
or a drunken Christmas aunt.

Only after years have made mockery of play
do we turn away from the bulbous nose,
cringing from the funhouse echo of facade.

Pic: public domain