BONUS POEM: “i wandered carefree as a weed”

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com
i wandered carefree as a weed(a lyric in honor of my lawn--as well as Wordsworth’s I wandered lonely as a Cloud)

I wandered carefree as a weed
that floats through clouds and skies of blue,
unlike the golden daffodils
landlocked in groups of ten and two,
narcissus bent faces downcast
despite the sunny bright forecast.
 
the daffodils herald spring days,
the dandelions announce them too,
but one lasts weeks, then petals shed
must twelve months wait until renewed,
while hardy yellow lion’s teeth
dot greenery, rebirth, unsheathe
 
after a short time within
their green leaves folded over blades
the hue of sun transmutate
to angel wings of snowy grace 
while daffodil’s corpse litters ground
the lowly weeds’ freedom is found
 
the cultivated daffodil
lives lonely, keeping company
with others of its kind plus one
red tulip flushing prettily.
vanity did isolate it,
its love is unreciprocated. 
 
meanwhile the humble sunlit weed
keeps face upturned to heaven’s vault:
the azure skies, the cotton clouds,
even the thunderstorm’s assault
of mowing blade now sharp and cruel
that can’t defeat this disdained jewel 
 
Often I lie upon my bed
and wonder that resilient bloom, 
its color bright, its upturned head,
survives despite the farmers’ doom.
Daffodils may dance sublime,
but me? I love the dandelion.  
 
 
#

This poem is posted in honor of the 30th Annual Dandelion May Fest, which takes place this weekend. If you’d like to read about my progress and plans for this year, you can subscribe to my Patreon and support my work for just $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!

POEM: “watercolors”

Photo by Beckett on Pexels.com
watercolors” 

practice trains you
to observe everyday details
the exact blue of heaven isn’t blue
it’s cobalt, azure, gold and scarlet,
rose blooms into violet,
silver marbles the horizon
before blackest night

awash in color
Rorschachs blossom
my mind’s edges cauliflower
errors discover possibility
fill each canvas with pauses
lightening then brightening 
always saving the darkest for last
nothing cannot be adapted
to something new, sometimes better
forgiveness is pigment 
forgiveness is water, brush, paper
always ready to soak up excess
or spread radiant hues

ad libbing elements
an individual choice
     ships may soar dew-kissed sky
     clouds break like china cups
     black holes rip gaping edges 
     in the empty vault of heaven
     ready to swallow all

#

Next Friday, I’ll also post on my Patreon.  If you’d like to read about my progress and plans for this year, you can subscribe to my Patreon and support my work for just $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!

*inspired by several YouTube videos on watercolor, as well as a watercolor class I took at the North Canton Public Library led by artist Jack Fetzer.

CURRENT EVENTS: Books Read in 2021

photo inside of A1 Bookstore: 6067 Navarre Rd SW, Canton, OH 44706

Happy New Year! 

It’s that special time of year again…you know what I’m talking about: January! The month to make and break resolutions, recover from holiday hangovers, and of course that most important event of all–reviewing the books I’ve read in the past year! You know you’ve been waiting for it. 

Seriously though, several years ago I started keeping a list of the books I read as part of a local library challenge to read fifty books a year. For every fifty books, the library would put your name into a raffle to win a gift card. I’d never bothered to count the books I read before, so I started keeping track to enter the raffle, and lo! a post-holiday tradition was born. One of these days I’d like to be able to enter twice!

So, I hope that by sharing the books I’ve enjoyed–and a few I didn’t–you might find your next great read! I consume books in multiple genres and formats, so I’ll indicate which ones as well as link to where you can find them:  Amazon, Audible, local sources, or free/low cost downloads from other places. Since my appetite for books exceeds my ability to buy all the ones I’d like, many on my list are library holds, while others were purchased from local authors or indie presses; I try to spend my dollars where they’ll have the most impact and support content creators. Enjoy!

BOOKS READ 2021:

1 Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler (ebook via Humble Bundle)

2 Naked Toes: second edition by Sara Minges (Trade paperback)

uplifting and personal collection of poems about inner strength

3 Jacaranda by Cherie Priest (ebook via Humble Bundle)

4 Evidence of Starving by Sandra Feen <ebook unavailable. Email author at poeteach@msn.com to buy a paperback copy for $7 (postage included)>

moving and vulnerable poems on the theme of consumption

5 Erotica Romana by Johann Wolfgang Gothenburg (ebook via Overdrive)

6 A Little History of Poetry by John Carey (ebook via Overdrive)

7 Paradise Lost by John Milton (audiobook via Overdrive)

this epic poem, arguably the best poem written in the English language, needs no introduction, so all I’ll say is if you haven’t read this yet, READ IT. It’s staggeringly beautiful.

8 THE GREAT COURSES: Life and Writings of John Milton (Prof. Seth Lerer) via AUDIBLE

9 City of Truth by James Morrow (ebook via Humble Bundle)

10 The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (ebook via Overdrive)

11 The Witcher: The Last Wish (short story collection) by Andrzej Sapkowski (ebook via Overdrive)

12 Black like Me by John Howard Griffin (ebook via Overdrive and The Ohio Digital Library)

13 In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan (audiobook via HOOPLA)

14 Galactic Pot-Healer by Philip K. Dick (ebook via Overdrive)

15 The Prestige by Christopher Priest (ebook via Overdrive)

16 A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (ebook via Overdrive)

17 Limit Theory by Ronald E. Holtman & illustrations by Amanda Vacharat (hardback via Ohio Center for the Book at Cleveland Main Library)

18 Lock In by John Scalzi (ebook via Overdrive)

19 Head On by John Scalzi (ebook via Overdrive)

20 Damned novel by Chuck Palahniuk (ebook via Overdrive)

21 Doomed novel by Chuck Palahniuk (ebook via Overdrive)

22 The River Styx, Ohio, and Other Poems by Mary Oliver (hardback via Library)

23 I Bring the Fire: Wolves by C. Gockel (ebook via NOOK)

24 I Bring the Fire: Monsters by C. Gockel (ebook via NOOK)

25 I Bring the Fire: Chaos by C. Gockel (ebook via NOOK)

26 I Bring the Fire: Fates by C. Gockel (ebook via NOOK)

27 Whiskey Sweet by Sara Minges (poetry collection, ebook ARC via author)

28 Iliad by Homer (audiobook, 1st part of Audible book HOMER translated by WHD Rouse, read by Anthony Heald, ILIAD AND ODYSSEY)

29 Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara (AUDIBLE audiobook)

30 I Bring the Fire: Warriors by C. Gockel (ebook via NOOK)

31 I Bring the Fire: Ragnarok by C. Gockel (ebook via NOOK)

32 Ten Days in a Madhouse by Nellie Bly (ebook via Manybooks.net)

33 On the Bus with Rosa Parks by Rita Dove (hardback via Barberton Public Library)

34 Head to Toe of It by Rikki Santer (Trade paperback poetry collection)

35 Metamorphosis by Ovid (AUDIBLE audiobook)

36 BEASTARS VOLUME 1, story and art by Paru Itagaki (Graphic Novel via Library loan)

37 Dreaming of Babylon by Richard Brautigan (audiobook via HOOPLA)

38 The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (ebook via manybooks.net)

39 Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (ebook via manybooks.net)

40 Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (ebook via manybooks.net)

41 BEASTARS VOLUME 2, story and art by Paru Itagaki (Graphic Novel, paper)

42 The Prince and The Pauper by Mark Twain (ebook via manybooks.net)

43 THE GREAT COURSES: English Grammar Boot Camp by Anne Curzan (AUDIBLE audiobook)

44 Ancient Greece 101: Greek History, Myth, and Civilization by Christopher M. Bellitto (AUDIBLE audiobook)

45 My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

46  300 by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

47 No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (Book Analysis): Detailed Summary, Analysis and Reading Guide (ebook via HOOPLA)

48 Y: The Last Man, Vol 1: Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

49 Y: The Last Man, Vol 2: Cycles by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

50 Y: The Last Man, Vol 3: One Small Step by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

51 Y: The Last Man, Vol 4: Safeword by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

52 Y: The Last Man, Vol 5: Ring of Truth by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

53 Y: The Last Man, Vol 6: Girl on Girl by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

54 Y: The Last Man, Vol 7: Paper Dolls by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

55 Y: The Last Man, Vol 8: Kimono Dragons by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

56 Y: The Last Man, Vol 9: Motherland by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

57 Y: The Last Man, Vol 10: Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

58 The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country by Amanda Gorman (hardback via library checkout)

59 The Good Place and Philosophy: Get an Afterlife by Steven A. Benko (ebook via HOOPLA)

60 Feminism in Greek Literature by Frederick Adam Wright (audiobook via Librivox.org)

61 The Bible Repairman and Other Stories by Tim Powers (gifted paperback)

62 Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes (ebook via Overdrive)

63 BEASTARS VOLUME 3, story and art by Paru Itagaki (Graphic Novel, paper)

64 The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (ebook via Overdrive)

65 Hesiod: The Works and Days/ The Theogony/ The Shield of Herakles by Hesiod (audiobook via Librivox)

66 One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (ebook via Overdrive)

67 Gawayne and The Green Knight by Anonymous/ Charlton Miner Lewis (ebook via Project Gutenberg)

68 College Hacks by Keith Bradford (paperback)

69 Evidence of Starving by Sandra Feen (paperback chapbook)

<Even though I read this in January as an ebook, I’m including it again, bc it’s a different format and therefore a different experience. Email author at poeteach@msn.com to buy a paperback copy for $7 (postage included)>

moving and vulnerable poems on the theme of consumption

70 BEASTARS 4 by Paru Itagaki (Trade paperback)

71 Swim by Faryl and S.T. Hoover (ebook via Kindle app)

–(from my Amazon review) “This is the book I was reading when my son told me, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but stop reading and watch television with the family!” It’s absorbing, mesmerizing, and hard to put down.”

72 The Philosopher’s Apprentice by James Morrow (ebook via Overdrive)

73 Poetic Memoir Chapbook Challenge by Barbara Marie Minney (misspelled on cover as Minnie)

74 Whale Day and Other Poems by Billy Collins (hardback)

75 Storm Front: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (ebook via Overdrive)

76 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (ebook via Overdrive)

77 Dear Youngstown by Karen Schubert (paperback)

78 Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (ebook via Overdrive)

79 Working Hypothesis by Charles Malone (paperback)

80 Playlist for the Apocalypse: Poems by Rita Dove (ebook via Overdrive)

81 Woman with a Fan: On Maria Blanchard by Diane Kendig (paperback)

82 Versed in Country Things by Robert Frost (Photographs by B.A. King) <hardcover>

83 Miracles: The Wonder of Life by Walt Whitman <small hardback>

84 A Threadbare Universe by Jason Baldinger (paperback poetry collection)

85 I Will Pass Even to Acheron by Amanda Newell (chapbook via Rattle magazine subscription)

86 The Just City by Jo Walton (ebook via Overdrive)

87 Fool Moon (Dresden Files #2) by Jim Butcher (ebook via Overdrive)

88 Grave Peril (Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butcher (ebook via Overdrive)

89 Summer Knight (Dresden Files #4) by Jim Butcher (ebook via Overdrive)

90 Death Masks (Dresden Files #5) by Jim Butcher (ebook via Overdrive)

91 Stopover by Rikki Santer (perfect bound book)

92 Blood Rites (Dresden Files #6) by Jim Butcher (ebook via Overdrive)

#

CURRENTLY READING

Dead Beat (Dresden Files #7) by Jim Butcher

As you may have noticed, I’m hooked on the urban fantasy series,the Dresden Files, which I started a month or two ago: Harry Dresden is a wizard working openly in modern Chicago while facing all sorts of supernatural threats and cracking wise. It’s packed with action, adventure, and a fair amount of silliness. Harry Dresden is a rogue that’s both action/superhero and comedian. The novels are mysteries that unpack a fantasy world that gets more complex with each novel. They’re so much fun. I love them!

Tachyon by William F. DeVault

The other book I am currently reading is Tachyon by U.S. Beat Poet Emeritus William F. DeVault. He writes romantic poetry that’s strong on form, beat, rhythm, rhyme, and imagery. Each poem is exquisitely crafted, and since I’ve loved his poetry in the past I know that I’ll love this book as well. I’m only a little bit into the book at the moment, since some poetry takes me longer to read than others. In general, I read poetry more slowly than fiction, because with poetry it’s important to savor the lines; good poems benefit from multiple readings. Fiction can be approached the same way, but poetry focuses on the form and nuance of individual lines. However, fiction is usually more concerned with plot and character. There is overlap too, which is always enjoyable! 

*

Next Friday, I’ll also post a companion piece on my Patreon, listing my favorite reads in the past year–including some I didn’t list here because they were not read from start to finish. If you’d like to read it, you can subscribe to my Patreon and support my work for just $1 a month! Until next time, stay safe and well, and read often!

*photo taken by myself of A-1 Books in Massillon, Ohio. The bookstore is located inside an old gas station and shares the building with a towing company.

First Two Chapters of Pinholes as a FREE audio!

Pinholes book cover

As a New Year’s gift to you all (which has absolutely nothing to do with book promotion), I’m making the first two chapters of my latest book, Pinholes: Traveling Through the Curtain of the Night, available as a free audio! Here is the link for its Internet Archive page below. Enjoy!

FREE AUDIO LINK: https://archive.org/details/pinholes-promo-podcast-2chapters-released-january-2022

*

If, after listening to the first two chapters, you can’t wait to find out what happens next, you can buy Pinholes: Traveling Through the Curtain of the Night as a Kindle ebook for only $5.99! And if that still isn’t enough for you, I’ve included obligatory legal information to read below. You’re welcome.

*

*The sound effects were provided by Zapsplat.com.

*The music was used via Free Music Archive: Kevin MacLeod’s Aurea Carmina and his Impact intermezzo via Creative Commons License. Both the sound effects and the music were modified for this recording, and their use does not imply endorsement by the creators.

*The book’s cover image was included purely for promotional purposes.

Cover Art: Stars Forming Like Pearls In A Clam https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=151450

Cover Artist: Nona Lohr https://nona-lohr.pixels.com/

CURRENT EVENTS: New Year’s Resolutions Past and Present

In the grand blogging tradition I’ve observed the past several years, my December post will be solely about my New Year’s Resolutions: how I did (or not) accomplish my 2021 goals, what my plans are for 2022, and reflections on what I’ve learned. Hopefully, you’ll find my experiences helpful as well!

MY 2021 RESOLUTIONS:

Finish compiling my second poetry collection.

SUCCESS. I completed this goal midway through the year, sent it out to a beta reader for feedback, then re-edited the manuscript based on feedback. It’s currently being considered by a publisher. I’ve gotten favorable indications but no definite commitments yet.

Submit my second poetry collection to a publisher.

SUCCESS. I queried several indie presses and also investigated literary agents. As I said, it’s currently being considered for publication, but I haven’t gotten a definite acceptance yet.

Regain my former schedule.

MODERATE SUCCESS: Sadly, this was not possible due to circumstances outside my control, although I did do several in-person readings. Considering the limited venues this year, I count this as a limited success.

Do things that scare me.

SUCCESS. Again, due to circumstances beyond my control, the venues I scheduled were mostly solo–which makes me more nervous than usual before a reading, as the spotlight is solely on me. I also stepped outside my comfort zone to read in costume at an unusual event, Zombiepalooza! I experimented with face paint–another new thing for me!–and went dressed as a zombie unicorn from my short story, Quietus. That and other selections are found within my short story collection An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories!

Honestly, I was extremely nervous for this one, as I didn’t know what to expect. It turned out that the audience was really too young for the zombie stories I had picked for the venue, so I count this one as a learning experience.

MY 2022 RESOLUTIONS:

I actually came up with these resolutions in September, as I was planning ahead for the next few months. I’ve come to several conclusions over the past couple years. For one thing, as I’ve grown older I’ve realized the need to pace myself. I also know that if I make resolutions that are too broad, like become more organized, I’ll keep them in the most lax way possible, so this year I thought I’d try something a little different. Also, I’ve learned in the past year how to adapt my goals to changing circumstances.

The following goals for 2022 contain self-imposed deadlines throughout the year, rather than simply saying I want to accomplish them by year’s end. By breaking them into smaller and more specific target goals, I hope to pace myself in such a way that I’m not overwhelmed by the enormity of any single project. 

With that in mind…

CLEAN OUT MY CRAFT ROOM/WORKSPACE BY JANUARY 31st

After completing my first draft of Hera Unchained in November, I want to give myself a month (or two) to let the manuscript sit before picking it up again. My craft room, once my pride and joy, has been sadly neglected and become a catch-all for things-that-have-no-official-spot in my home. So I aim to make this area a viable workspace once again–SO HELP ME, THOR.

WORK ON MY MANUSCRIPT IN TWO MONTH INTERVALS

By allowing myself two months for each pass, with a month-long break between each one, I hope to allow myself a strict enough personal deadline to keep my writing on track while also allowing myself enough breathing room to let the manuscript rest between revisions.

CLEAN OUT MY GARAGE BY APRIL 1st

During my month-long break from the manuscript, I plan to clean out my garage. By clean out my garage, I mean get rid of anything we don’t need, organize things we do by finding space for them, create a better system for storing our recyclables, sweep, and–last by not least–get rid of all the cobwebs! It’s a monumental task, and I fully expect to either be crushed beneath storage boxes, asphyxiate on dust-bunnies, or be found dangling from a giant spider web. However, if I accomplish my goal and somehow survive the experience, I fully intend to…

ORGANIZE BEDROOM JULY 1st

I like to write in bed, since it allows me to sit so that my back is supported. This way I can sit and work for longer periods without throwing my back out. As a consequence of this, as well as other things I store in this room, it tends to become cluttered. By organize my bedroom, I mean clean my closets, sort through my bedside (and other) storage–including my bookshelves. I’ll also dust. I promise.

SUBMIT HERA UNCHAINED TO PUBLISHER BY DECEMBER 31st

My overarching goal for the year. I will adhere to my schedule for multiple (content and grammar) edits, beta reads, formatting, and eventually submit a highly polished manuscript to my publisher.

YEAR ROUND: 

PROMOTE PINHOLES: TRAVELING THROUGH THE CURTAIN OF THE NIGHT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

I will continue to try to schedule in-person events, but barring that I will do videos, podcasts, or other venues. I’d also like to include some promotion for An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days (…), although the focus will primarily be on the newer book. 

KEEP UP MY MONTHLY POSTING SCHEDULES FOR MY WRITING BLOG AND MY PATREON

I post once a month to my writing blog at www.catrussellwriter.wordpress.com as well as a separate post (usually complementary) to my Patreon at www.patreon.com/authorcatrussell.

2021 REFLECTIONS:

This year was better than last, although 2020 did set the bar pretty low. The absence of murder-hornets alone made that an easy accomplishment! All kidding aside, I’m proud of what I’ve learned and accomplished this past year. 

Thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope you’ll return in January. I’ll start 2022 with a post about the books I read in 2021, so maybe you’ll find your next great read! In the meantime, stay safe and well, and Happy New Year!

#

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: Plague of Dragons

picture of fire-breathing dragon on top of a building
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com
Plague of Dragons

the world opens up as a new monster
looms on the horizon, belching fire,
slaughtering victims without thought
to gender, creed, or age: the smallest
of the small, resistant to her older
brother’s charms, no longer spared
infectious breath.

not content to massacre millions by breath alone,
she melts crematoriums whose iron frames soften,
run from the heat of so many bodies burned
in so few hours, days, weeks of death; chimneys
crack from overuse, appalling mockery that mimics
hospital beds buckling from the influx of live bodies
they strain to save and might despite their failures.
Parks no longer host festivals but burning pyres
that brighten twilight like bonfires left behind
by the wyrms’ warm feasting

or colossal candles lit in earth’s cathedral
for each of those extinguished lives, bright enough
to catch the eyes of the gods in their heavens
or the demons down below.

the beast that plagued last year seems tame
beside his younger sibling, the serpent virulent
exhaling flame who does not deign to spare
the lives of children.

Will she leap across the waters, span
the ocean, leave that far off land
to spread her curse upon
our slowly awakened shores?

Does she await our recovery
only to make her scourge more felt?




#
Thanks for stopping by my blog. If you’d like to read about the crafting of “Plague of Dragons,” check out my Patreon next week for a free technical breakdown of the poem.

I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be reading selections from my book, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, at Barberton Library on Saturday, September 11th at 2pm! I will also be selling and signing copies of the book for those who are interested.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well, and read often!

*inspired by the Indian variant of the Covid-19 virus.

POEM: “last year’s revels”

Photo by Charles Parker on Pexels.com
last year’s revels”

the toddler rolls from bed, 
a ballerina princess excited 
for the special day ahead,
anticipates her long-awaited party.
strawberry-topped chocolate cake 
with a grape soda chaser,
she’s fueled for festivity:
rainbowed streamers wave 
above a table piled with gifts,
sunshine yellow ribbon
seals each shining gold wrapper, 
as storm clouds gather unheaded
outside her window’s thin glass.

she tears a first package apart, 
eager, greedy for its contents,
frowns at the dimestore damsel’s
impossible figure and painted smile,
tosses her aside for another 
bright box’s glinting temptation, 

enchanted to find inside
flint enough to fire her tinder home. 
caffeine-fueled and sugar-dosed, 
she blazes pirouette on tip-toes,
ecstatic homage to firenadoes 
swirling flame outside her door.
she watches in delight, 
her face crimson bright 
as a demon risen to scorch 
this mortal earth with hellfire.

hay-colored landscapes wither, 
flames kindle the world: fireworks 
enough to entertain her swollen 
all-too-childish brain. she collapses, 
in a fit of giggles watches murder hornets 
bloom across the blood red sky.
her joy indisputable on a face free 
from the thin cotton mask she refuses to wear.

she knows these days are hallowed,
these endless nights will last
for years to come.

exhausted from her revels, 
quietly 
     she tears the Barbie’s bloodless arms; 
     the doll’s blank eyes reflect nothing, 
     the hollow chest holds her silent scream, 
     her frozen face beaming 
     an eternally vacant grin.






#

Today’s poem was inspired by a prompt to write a poem personifying the last year. Many thanks to Diane Kendig and Cuyahoga County Library for their Read + Write Poetry daily postings, which included this prompt!

If you’d like to know more about the craft that went into this poem, next week I will be posting a poem dissection on my Patreon–which is free during the pandemic. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, stay well, and read often!

POEM: “masked”

masked


What mask!? Oh, I have so many… Invisible.
Disposable. I Replace each time
the least uncomfortable       Those eyes

I have more than I need given I rarely leave 
I have different masks. One for work. 
Another patriotic. I wear all at different times.

It depends on my mood          hopeful 
sometimes, painful             other times, 
but rarely removed

When customers, friends n family talk to me 
about politics             or the news   
my face is my mask      I put on when I'm depressed

I have playful ones     but for my job, 
disposable            Funny not funny. 
My private one         simple and lovely.

I have so many, but mostly wear 
my Edge of insanity
I have designed these masks

the ones I refuse to wear
hard to breathe
I have a lot of masks

but today it’s this one…
Standard but pretty     on the front.
A smile, nod, wink that says everything’s just fine.




*Found Poem based on tweets found in this thread based on the question, “What’s your mask like?”

POEM: “Inauguration Day”

wilted daisies
Inauguration Day

on the eve of my mother’s birth
and the swearing in of a new leader

last night i dreamed:
i came upon a strip mall
and stumbled upon the store
my father had built from scratch
all those years ago

i did not dare believe my eyes
though it seemed too real
not to be believed i ran
inside hoping for a glimpse
of the man that ruled my childhood
my hero who taught me chess
gave me his own bike to ride

today i thought i saw another gone
silhouette perched upon the windowsill

he died so long and yet not so long
i longed so to see his familiar face
i could not help but catch a glimpse
his bald(ing) head and bright brown eyes

today my mother opens chocolates
“her president” as her present 
she says as each morsel melts washed 
down with a cup of steaming Lady Grey

i couldn’t quite catch a glimpse of another
dear departed, gold fur and eyes brown
as warm caramel, i couldn’t quite help 
but wonder what else dies and is born today

sometimes we need to coat our tongue with
warm sugar, sweeten our swallowed bitterness

is this a new beginning or another end?





**In my previous post I said I was going to resume regular scheduling in February, but since this poem is topical I decided to post it today. Normally I let poems sit between edits, but obviously that would not work for a timely posting, so (although edited) this poem is more raw than what I normally share. 


CURRENT EVENTS: Books Read in 2020

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Happy New Year! Hopefully, 2021 will be less problematic than 2020. 

In the meantime, I’ll share the books I’ve read in the past year. Due to the recent interesting times, many of them are books I’ve read before. When I want a comfort read, I’ll often reach for old favorites: Cyrano de Bergerac and The Walking Dead graphic novels are among my favorites. Since the list is pretty long (I’ll reach 100 one of these years!), I’m listing them by title. If you would like me to go into detail about any of these books, just leave a comment or contact me on social media. I love discussing books!

If you’d like to read one of these selections yourself, I’ve included links. Many of the reads were ebooks and audiobooks via various platforms, often through local libraries. I’ve always loved digital format, but in the past year it’s been more important than ever. Enjoy the list! Maybe you’ll find something you’ll like too.

BOOKS READ 2020:

1 Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters (audiobook via Librivox.org)

So Marvelously Far (poetry collection) by Nick Gardner

3 The Ugly Side of the Lake (poetry collection) by Jason Baldinger and John Dorsey

4 Triple Threat (poetry collection) by John Dorsey

5 The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (ebook via Overdrive)

6 Our House on the Sand by Elaine Schleiffer (chapbook)

7 The Answer Is Not Here by Lisa M. & Sean Thomas Dougherty (chapbook)

8 Jigsaw Con Life 3 via Beautiful Blasphemy (ebook/ mini chapbook)

9 Siron: a Kaiju Thriller by S.T. Hoover

10 Mothmaw by Faryl (Hoover) (ebook)

11 The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (audiobook via Audible)

12 Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (ebook via manybooks.net)

13 Resident Evil volume 1: The Umbrella Conspiracy by S.D. Perry (ebook)

14 Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (audiobook via Overdrive)

15 ODD LOTS, SCRAPS & SECOND-HAND, LIKE NEW Poems by Will Wells (trade paperback/poetry)

16 The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (ebook via Overdrive)

17 Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Audible audiobook)

18 Paradise Lost by Milton (NOOK ebook)

19 The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (HOOPLA Digital ebook)

20 Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (ebook)

21 ETERNALS by Neil Gaiman (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

22 The Abortion by Richard Brautigan (Audible audiobook)

23 The Walking Dead vol 1: Days Gone Bye by various

24 The Walking Dead vol 2: Miles Behind Us by various

25 The Walking Dead vol 3: Safety Behind Bars by various

26 The Walking Dead, Vol. 4: The Heart’s Desire

27 The Walking Dead vol 5: The Best Defense by various

28 Quintessence by William F. Devault (ebook)

29 Meat and Bone by Sandra Feen (paperback)

30 The Walking Dead, Vol. 6: This Sorrowful Life

31 The Walking Dead, Vol. 7:  The Calm Before

32 The Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to Suffer

33 The Walking Dead, Vol. 9: Here We Remain

34 The Walking Dead, Vol. 10: What We Become

35 A Bullet for Cinderella by John D. Macdonald (ebook read on NOOK app)

36 The Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear The Hunters

37 The Walking Dead, Vol. 12: Life Among Them 

38 The Walking Dead, Vol. 13: Too Far Gone

39 The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out

40 The Walking Dead, Vol. 15: We Find Ourselves

41 The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World

42 The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear

43 The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After

44 The Walking Dead, Vol. 19: March to War

45 The Walking Dead, Vol. 20: All Out War, Part 1

46 The Walking Dead, Vol. 21: All Out War, Part 2

47 The Walking Dead, Vol. 22: A New Beginning 

48 The Walking Dead, Vol. 24: Life and Death

49 The Walking Dead, Vol. 25: No Turning Back 

50 The Walking Dead, Vol. 26: Call to Arms

51 Appalachian Frankenstein Vol 2 by John Dorsey (paperback poetry collection)

52 The Poems of Sappho: An Interpretive Rendition into English (ebook via Manybooks.net)

53 The Walking Dead, Vol. 27: The Whisperer War

54 F**K: An Irreverent History of the F-Word by Rufus Lodge (Kindle ebook)

55 The Walking Dead, Vol. 28: A Certain Doom

56 The Walking Dead, Vol. 29: Lines We Cross 

57 Ariel by Sylvia Plath (NOOK ebook)

58 A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca (ebook via Overdrive)

59 The Walking Dead, Vol. 30: New World Order

60 The Walking Dead, Vol. 31: The Rotton Core

61 The Walking Dead, Vol. 32: Rest In Peace

62 The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (ebook via Overdrive)

63 Wonder Woman volume 4: War (graphic novel via HOOPLA DIGITAL)

64 Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Search ~ Issue 1 (graphic novel via HOOPLA DIGITAL)

65 Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Search ~ Issue 2 (graphic novel via HOOPLA DIGITAL)

66 Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Search ~ Issue 3 (graphic novel via HOOPLA DIGITAL)

67 Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (ebook via Overdrive)

68 The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura (ebook via Overdrive)

69 The Short Stories Volume One by Philip K Dick (ebook via Overdrive)

70 Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K Dick (ebook via Overdrive)

71 Writing on the Wall: Social Media – The First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage (Audible audiobook) 

72 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight / retold in modern prose, with prefaces and notes, by Jessie L. Weston. (NOOK ebook)

73 The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (NOOK ebook)

74 The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (audiobook via Audible)

75 Drop Jaw by Rikki Santer (Trade paperback)

76 Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (NOOK ebook)

77 Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris) by Jim C. Hines (ebook via Overdrive)

78 Unbound (Magic Ex Libris) by Jim C. Hines (ebook via Libby)

79 The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (ebook via Libby)

80 Revisionary (Magic Ex Libris) by Jim C. Hines (ebook via Libby)

81 Orpheus and Eurydice: A Lyric Sequence by Gregory Orr (poetry collection ebook via Hoopla Digital)

82 Fort Pitt Tunnel Blues by John Dorsey (free ebook)

83 Wonder Woman: The Circle (graphic novel via Hoopla)

84 A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen by Kari Gunter-Seymour (Trade paperback)

85 Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (ebook via Overdrive app)

86 Dearly: New Poems by Margaret Atwood (ebook via Overdrive app)

87 i saw god cooking children/ paint their bones by john compton (handcrafted chapbook via Blood Pudding Press with Sandra Feen modeling on the cover art)

88 Trekonomics by Manu Saadia by (audiobook)

89 The Circus of His Bones: Poems by Steve Brightman (Trade paperback)

90 13 Ways of Looking at Lou Reed by Steve Brightman

91 The Divine Comedy by Dante: translated by Clive James (Audible audiobook)

*Currently reading/listening to:

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Lord Byron’s Don Juan (ebook via Manybooks.net)

An Introduction to Haiku with translations and commentary by Harold G. Henderson

If you’d like to hear about my favorites from this list, a free complementary post appears on my Patreon. Until next time, stay safe and well and read often!