Tuesday, March 17, 2015

again and again

My thoughts over the course of the afternoon and evening after reading this

Initially upon reading what you did, I thought that you read the whole autopsy report, with no editing, or "massaging" just the words on the clinical page.  Words that described the last moments of a young man's body, after a traumatic death.  That would have been enough.  I'd argue that would have been a strong performance poem.  Taking news facts and broadcasting those the news reporters usually don't report. To use the clinical report to show the loss of the man, Michael Brown.  A contrast between the man and his horrible death, an indictment perhaps, of the true loss.

Then I realized that is not what you did.

More facts came to light.  You started with a massage, and ended with commentary on a penis.  A dead black man's penis. 

Given the racist stereotypes about black men's genitalia, the fact that you end your poem on the autopsy comment that those genitalia were "unremarkable", makes them remarkable.   That you chose to end on that fact, not the actual ending of the report, brings the stereotype full circle, back into racist ground.  For me that was where your theoretical intentions, to maybe show the true loss of the man, falls to the ground.

Massaging words.  We shoehorn words, we smooth words, we revise and edit words, and maybe, though I wouldn't use that term myself in this context, massage words. 

Words have meanings.  I'd say we all agree on that. They bring to mind other words.  Metaphor, allusion, revision and choice, all methods the writer employs to get their meanings across.  Multiple meanings.  For which the writer is responsible.  Brown was unarmed then, and he is unarmed now.  But this time, we know his name.

The Body of Michael Brown.  Massaging as verb.  Unremarkable.  Then throw in a Latin quote to balance it all?   I don't know.  If there hadn't been editing, redacting, rearranging, maybe I could have trusted you. 

My overriding thoughts were for Michael Brown's family, and their thoughts on the use of Michael Brown's Body for this endeavor.   They've probably seen the report.  Its horror is not as bad as their dead son or the suffering he endured.  It's not as bad as the life they will have to live without their son.  It's filled with words on a page.  Words up for grab, apparently.

But what I'd like to propose, is that you use your words to write to them to explain your intent.  How what you did in that poem would help them, or Michael Brown for that matter.  It's not just a conference playground.  Massage your words, that aren't from an autopsy report, to explain.  Because words have meaning.  The words you chose to read have meaning.  And if the life of the man, in your poem, Michael Brown the poetical device, has any meaning, it is one that their family should be able to hear.

By adding yourself to that report, feeling that your choices made for a better poem, made literature, or a better performance, then you should use yourself to explain.  Use yourself like you used him.  Behold the man, but which man?

I've read my son's autopsy report.  It's factual and clinical.  But every scalpel slice described was through my son's beloved skin.  Every organ removed, his heart especially, became fodder for that report.  My infant son did not die in the way Michael Brown did, so I will never understand how his family feels, but I understand how I would feel if the clinical documentation of my son's body, so personal to me, was made public after his death, and was used by others. 

It is personal.  Part of writing poetry is to elicit a response from the reader.  You achieved that.  Now you will have to hear those responses.  I hope your intentions for this poem equal the weight of the response to your selection of those words.  Full circle.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Wish me luck!

11th time, baby!  /Austin Powers' voice

(Heh, I should write all the poems in his voice.  Or not.)

Sunday, February 08, 2015

ready set...

I've reached the point in revision, where I want to get some cash, and ship the novel off to someone who will do all this editing for me.

I started the fifth revision, and I'm so blah on it all.  I'll put it away for a bit, and then start it up again.

What it did make me do, was open another file of the novel that would be up next.  Haven't read that in a while, and see both opportunity and more editing.  Tis the way it is.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Return to Deathlehem!

I'm thrilled to be included in this charity anthology, my first short story publication!  Go check it out!  Return to Deathlehem, An Anthology of Holiday Horrors to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Apparently Norman Mailer said, "Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing."

Maybe or maybe not.

Writing books is like having a 9 month pregnancy.  Finishing the first draft is like the final push birthing the child.  Editing and revising is like raising that child until he or she is 18.

I'm sure I could go on with this analogy...

19 minutes agoWriting books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

It's been so long....

I'm on my fourth go round with the long story.  I'm using Word for this revision, as yWriter seems be more cumbersome for editing. Most of the major changes are done, as far as I can tell so far so there isn't moving around of stuff.  That is why I liked yWriter, it allowed easy access to the parts.  

I'm using this link and this one too to help guide me.  I'm sure there are several others that I can't find right now.

Still waiting on word about two story submissions.  That'd be nice, you know.

I'm of the opinion that writing the first draft is the most fun, and then righting all the others is the work.  Heh, see what I did there?


I'm hoping to get at least three more chapters done this weekend, then I won't feel so bad when I don't get any done after work because I'm so bone weary that I can't manage any.  It is what it is.

I will end on a quote I found today, that is just yummy in so many ways:

Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. …If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.
Nikki Giovanni

And as I said elsewhere, that is why it is hard to kill your darlings.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

re the novel

There had been a certain scene that I've been avoiding/not knowing how to handle pretty much since I started this thing.  Last night it came to me.  So I wrote it.  Weird, adding stuff to the earlier parts of it.

Score, in more ways than one.

And I'm still mostly happy with it this morning.  I finished the third draft recently, so a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

string you know

I woke up this morning with an idea for tying together my long story aka the novel, even tighter.  It will tie a few characters, and their motivation.  And probably other stuff too that I have yet to realize.  And it won't take much time either.  Probably could do it all today.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30 Heliocentric


If you were Kepler, I would have to move away
from you but my heart would hold the same mass
no matter the distance. 

She was the perturbation around
which I ran, the focal
point of our deceleration.

Your equations curve like my back,
twisting with the loss of function you won’t
solve for me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29 Those Deleted Lines

Those Deleted Lines

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better." -Anne Lamott

What we decide is secret
is up to us.  We can tell,
and often should,
to own the stories.
Warm or cold,
hot as a lead pipe,
still ours to state.

The “when you…”
and the “remember when”
mirror my fingers typing
and my pen flowing
with the ease that comes
with sand dropping.

I gain purchase
like rope around a bollard
at the edge
of the dock,
where stories nestle
around me and slip
off my fingers
like fish off a line.

Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28 Behind The Name

Behind The Name

There are goddesses and victors, all tied
to the first few letters.  Family
mythology was incorrect, a combination
of error, mishearings and stolen wishes

to be royal.  Even further back, death and war
was scribed by years and men with pens,
more translations tumble as time
passed. Maybe temples held the stories,

the echoes of a name heard only upon success,
upon triumph, blazing paths home,
even from wings to angels,
amazing that the family got it so wrong.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 27 Shifting


like the sand under feet
when a wave rolls in,
we got washed away
before my toes gripped
the rose petals on the sheets

Saturday, April 26, 2014

April 26 Not Bethlehem

Not Bethlehem

The two babies were swaddled
in dirty blankets, the blank moldy glow
of the TV lit the dirt stains and the mom
in a slip, and full eye makeup.  Too bad
the door hadn’t opened further
to see the disappeared one,
the one who is rumoured to only sleep.
That manger never looked so good.

Friday, April 25, 2014

April 25 Temperate


Spring is worn already,
the greens are browner,
the browns are muddy
like mixed paint,
with all the life erased
from the day’s palette.  Worn
like the disturbed water
of brushes swooshed at the end
of the seasonal class.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April 24 My Opinion On The Matter

My Opinion On The Matter

A baby is born, stretched
out into the world, its lungs press
into the cry.  His mouth purses
around the imagined nipple, a squeak
that starts the letdown across the room.

The weather cell shows rotation,
the center clears, its areola full
of water weight.  The corn calls
with leaves flapping, dry
soil full of desire, cracks
moaning need.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21 Screens and Skies

Screens and Skies

I watched The Robe Easter morning,
the gold and the blue colored
drama of that Roman tribune
that swung around the story of another.

The tribune was saved
on a sharp cliff by a woman
with a distinctly ‘50’s ponytail,
as a slave girl in Cinemascope Technicolor pink

watched. A slave in pink is hopeful! Not inspired, I looked up
and thought about the blue sky, the golden shrub
blooming in my yard, to the true white
Milky Way from Chile, like the smiling

lips of the Mona Lisa. The golds and blues shimmer
but with much less flouncing, the cool
whites shout softness and shadow,
the black reveals full absence.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 20 Follow Up

Follow Up

Three years on, the carpet of leaves
remain, still presumably staining the wood beneath.

The rust from the chairs they chose has deepened
to the colour of late November oaks.

Every winter what snow we do get
hides the layers for a time, her slow time.

The wind doesn’t lift, wind
that topples both garages and peonies.

I don’t think she has opened
the deck door since he left,
since he built the deck,
set the chairs in their now
permanently embedded place
where they drank wine into the night.
Curtains remain closed like eyelids
shut to the back story
of the time they were open.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19 The Other Pieta

The Other Pieta

I thought it was the real one.  Third
grade and naive, at mass.  All those mothers
holding their dead children, they are all the same.
This one was painted, and reversed,
yet the sentiment was the same.  Longing
eyes and souls as draped in sorrow as the stone, no
recognition erased the fact that they were different.
I could only see the same statue, as it told the same story.
I knew that even in third grade, as I know that now.

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 17 Meditations Between 2:53 and 2:55

Meditations Between 2:53 and 2:55

round belly late
patched steps crumble thaw
quizzical eyeing expectation

virtuous bell resonating attendance
girls yell “spider” and run
marionette callings swell chests

jigsaw pine shadows scent
leaping cargoes
over shredded beds

exhaust scampers rampant
brickwork revealed asphalt
lowered flag rope cut


Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 16 No Forgery and Forgery 4

No Forgery

I’m tired of using similes to venture out a description.

Forgery 4

No skinheads under an umbrella, as it wasn't raining today.

Couple of American Sentences today.  Yesterday, let us say, was full.