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Showing posts from April, 2014

National Poetry Month: Final Issue

Closing out NPM with another poem from the guy we started out the month with, Mario Medina.

On Some Remote Hillside*                 by Mario Medina

A big  beautiful house in Malibu
burned down in the fires
about ten years ago
Never to be rebuilt
Replaced by an old trailer
With all its imperfections
A fortress of solitude
In a much warmer climate

Just thought it would be interesting to
live in a trailer
on some remote hillside

*Previously published in Zen and the Art of Lackadaisical Deconstruction

I want to thank all who have visited the site during poetry month. It has helped me to dive back into some classic old poems as well as some new, brilliant poems from local poets. Thanks also go out to all who contributed: Mario Medina, Kathie Giorgio, Marie Loeffler and Karo Barsamian. You people help me keep it real.

Blogging off...

National Poetry Month: Issue 22

Two days left in NPM. Another poem from Richard Brautigan. Some of his poems were dedicated to various women in his life. This one is for Marcia. I wonder where Marcia is today?


I Live in the Twentieth Century*                  by Richard Brautigan

For Marcia

I live in the Twentieth Century
and you lie here beside me. You
were unhappy when you fell asleep.
There was nothing I could do about
it. I felt helpless. Your face
is so beautiful that I cannot stop
to describe it, and there;s nothing
I can do to make you happy while
   you sleep.

*Previously published in "The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster."


Blogging off...

National Poetry Month: Issue 21

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We're nearing the end of NPM, and I'm out of user submissions, so I thought I'd dig deep into my literary archives and pull something from another Southeastern Wisconsin poet, Jeff Poniewaz.

Back in my bachelor days in the late 80's when I was living on the east side of Milwaukee, Jeff Poniewaz and another poet, Antler, were up-and-coming in the poetic ranks. Their poetry was political, edgy and powerful. I still have Poniewazs' collection titled Dolphin Leaping in the Milky Way, and so I thought I'd bring one of his poems forward into 2014. This one is a humorous poem about a serious subject. Jeff always cuts right to the core.

The Last Endangered Species Glass*                  by Jeff Poniewaz

Three years ago two friends gave me
a set of six Endangered Species Glasses,
each glass etched with the picture and name
of one of the species near extinction.
The Oryx was the first to bite the dust--
a friend laughed so hard at something I said
it slipped full of win…

Character Peek: Episode V - Rob

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The Sunday edition of "So It Goes..." has been dedicated to providing peeks into the characters that are in my forthcoming book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir. In these peeks, I don't reveal too much of what is in the book, but rather, I try and reveal more about the person and their relationship to me. This week I'll talk a bit about my brother Rob.

Rob was two years younger than me and second from the youngest in our family of seven kids. Complications at birth caused him to lose most of his hearing. I speak to this in another blog post on a blog I contribute to as a guest writer. His deafness made for a lifelong challenge for Rob which he took in stride and overcame in his zest for living and loving.


He is a central character in Dirty Shirt for much of the book. Next to me, he is the most prevalent character in the book. I've said many times on this blog that the two of us were very close. We grew up together, hung out together in our college years and…

National Poetry Month: Issue 20

National Poetry Month.
Mario Medina.
Short poem.
Enough said.
Roll the tape.


Update 12.1.2*                          by Mario Medina

Still vexed in the duality that
is my existential misery.
I lie between a pillow and a grave.
It's all built the same.
There is no cure today.


*Previously published in Zen and the Art of Lackadaisical Deconstruction.


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National Poetry Month: Issue 19

National Poetry Month is crawling toward the end of it's 2104 term and I have another poem by Mario Medina. This one comes from his chapbook called The Buddah Beef Junky. It outlines the struggle many of us have had with trying to decide what we want from a career.

Hand and Hammer (I've Got Work To Do)*         by Mario Medina

I want to drive trucks,
work at a slaughterhouse,
or be a clerk at the Post Office.
I want to drive nails into planks,
or install someone's electricity.

I want to find out what
it really takes to be a garbage man.
And I want to work a job,
just to be fired.

I want to pilot a New York City cab,
work out in the vegetable fields,
or even be a longshoreman.

I want to work a job
that has livable wages.
I never want to be rich.
Being rich is for suckers.

I've poured coffee,
washed dishes,
stocked shelves,
managed a few warehouses.
I've even been a courier.

The smartest man I've ever met was a janitor.

*Hand and Hammer was previously published in…

Not Handy. Not.

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Did I mention that I'm not handy?

Well, I'm not. At least that's what my brain keeps telling me. I seem to prove it otherwise more often than not, but frankly I don't want it to get around that I know which end of the hammer to use. It only causes more work.

My latest not handy endeavor was to put a new back screen door on. Our old one broke when the wind caught it one day and, well, it worked, but it looked like crap. I measured it, went to Menards and bought a new door.

After putting the project off for a couple of weekends, I set to it on Saturday about 10:30. My goal was to have it done by 12:30 or so. Bahahahaha!

Didn't happen.

First thing I find out is that it's about an inch and a half too long. What the heck? I measured it didn't I? I bought the only 30"X80" standard size door they had. What gives? This leads to my first web search of "Can you cut a vinyl/wood back screen door using a saw?" It turns out you can, so after measurin…

National Poetry Month: Issue 18

In a rush, a poem from Richard Brautigan from, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster.

A Good-Talking Candle                    by Richard Brautigan

I had a good-talking candle
last night in my bedroom.

I was very tired but I wanted
somebody to be with me,
   so I lit a candle.

and listened to its comfortable
voice of light until I was asleep.





Blogging off...

National Poetry Month: Issue 17

National Poetry Month continues. I'm looking for more entries to fill out the rest of the month, so if you're a poet, or know one, send one or more along and I'd be happy to post them.

Today I'm featuring one of my own favorite early poems that was featured on Heavy Bear online magazine. This piece is an interesting take on the stifling of expression and it's effect on our health. Nothing proven, just postulation. Makes one think.

Doctor Recommended*                                 by Jim Landwehr
What if they discovered that the stifling of self-expression caused the early onset of disease?
That if everyone who ever had a song in their heart, but did not dance, set the stage for an aneurysm at forty-four?
Those who wanted to sing at the top of their lungs in the library but didn’t, generated cancerous cells?
Or if not hugging your father, or not crying for fear of ridicule, jump started your own arthritis?
What if we could live to be 140 if we took that guitar lesson, got that t…

National Poetry Month: Issue 16

Taking a break from all the local poets I've been posting, to feature one of my favorites, Richard Brautigan. Every time I read his stuff it bends my mind. This one is from The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster. (It even has a reference to my book hidden in it. Ha!)

After Halloween Slump               by Richard Brautigan

My magic is down
My spells mope around
the house like sick old dogs
with bloodshot eyes
watering cold wet noses.

My charms are in a pile
in the corner like the
dirty shirts of a summer fatman.

One of my potions died
last night in the pot.
It looked like a cracked
Egyptian tablecloth.

Blogging off...

Character Peek: Episode IV - Pete

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This week’s character sneak peek is Pete, a friend from high school who makes his appearance in the first part of the book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir. I first met Pete as a freshman when he tried out for the freshman football team. Over out four year high school years, we became pretty good friends. We worked at the same restaurant together, hung out at his house quite often and were pretty much inseparable during high school. There was a core of five of us friends who were really tight. As far as high school “cliques” go, I guess we were probably classified as “the straights.” We weren’t angelic all the time, but for the most part, kept our noses clean.

Like Pat, there are some classic car stories that happened with Pete behind the wheel, back in the day. The one I like the best involves a beautiful white Corvette.
Pete’s father was an esteemed attorney with his own practice at the time. Well, one time he and his buddies went on a big vacation and left all of their cars…

National Poetry Month: Issue 15

When I first started my writing class at AllWriters', the last thing I ever expected was to write poetry. I went in with the purpose of writing nonfiction and pretty much nothing else. Well, people like Mario Medina and a couple other classmates inspired me with their poetry, and I decided to start writing it myself. I didn't know where it would lead, but thought what the heck? It's just like a really, really short story.

"I tell you we are here on earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different." - Kurt Vonnegut
So, I started farting around with poetry. I didn't really know what I was doing, but it was a nice diversion. Before long, I submitted the poem below to Verse Wisconsin and, lo and behold, they accepted it. It was a great feeling and I daresay was the inspiration to my "push to publish." Writing is one thing, but I started submitting because it is a really cool to have someone say, "this is good; I like this".
Li…

National Poetry Month: Issue 14

As you might recall a few posts ago, I rambled on about people who are talented across multiple artistic disciplines. I went on to describe Mario Medina, an accomplished guitarist who also writes pretty mean poetry and some really good video production. Well, today's post features Marie Loeffler, who I would put into that same category of cross-disciplinary talent of poetry and music.

Today's poem is about a violin, which she teaches at a couple of local Universities as well as at Outpost Music, in downtown Waukesha. Keeping true to her style, the poem is minimalistic yet still paints a great picture. Thanks go out to Marie for submitting her poems to the April poetry blog roll.

Violin*                          by Marie Loeffler
Its wafer-thin face reminds the little girl of a graham cracker but darker, ruddier, as she gently glides her tiny fingers across the delicate, ebony-pitted wood.


*Violin was previously published in the Echoes 2012 Anthology.
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Throwback Thursday - First Jobs

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For throwback Thursday, I came across this photo of The Lexington restaurant the other day. It spurred so many spontaneous, good memories, I had to save it as a picture of my own. While it wasn't my first job in High School, it was my first long term job. I actually started working as a freshman at a gas station/car wash combination named Tu-Way Car Wash. Gas was .49 a gallon, and an automatic wash was a few bucks. This particular car wash had hydraulic brushes that required human intervention to stop. For some reason, when I went to stop the upper brushes on several occasions, the system didn't work.

Oh yeah, I ripped off a few antennas in my day, lemme tell ya.

Once I had a guy come in with a sweet Dodge Charger or GTO and because these friggin' brushes didn't stop when they were supposed to, I ended up turning his hood ornament all the way around so that the little bulldog or whatever stupid thing it was, was looking right at the driver. Justifiably, the guy was upse…

National Poetry Month: Issue 13

Poetry takes many forms. Sometimes poetry can be quite brief. Other times it can be injected with subtle humor. Here's another poem from Author Kathie Giorgio that us both, as it speaks about a different kind of faith.

FAITH                by Kathie Giorgio
I turn the lamp off by my bedside and the dark closes immediate complete. But I know in seconds I will see again.
Without any light at all.

Author Biography
KATHIE GIORGIO’S third book, the  novel, “Learning To Tell (A Life)Tiime,” was released in September of 2013 by the Main Street Rag Publishing Company. This is the sequel to her first novel, “The Home For Wayward Clocks,” released in 2011.  That novel received the Outstanding Achievement award by the Wisconsin Library Association and was nominated for the Paterson Fiction Award.  Her short story collection, "Enlarged Hearts," was released in April 2012. Her stories and poems have appeared in over a hundred literary magazines and in many anthologies. She’s the direct…

National Poetry Month: Issue 12

Another poem from the land down under, home of one my all-time favorite bands, The Church and another really great one in, Midnight Oil.

Featured again is a poem by Karo Barsamian. Like myself, Karen is a fan of Richard Brautigan's prose and poetry. I have long romanticized his and the other beat generation writers' lives and deaths. Recently I read an article in The Sun magazine about a guy, a writer, who had done the same thing. He in some ways lived a life like Brautigan or Kerouac thinking it was the fate of all "brilliant" creative writers to be anguished, lonely, drifting substance abusers. Luckily, he met a woman and came to his senses. The article was titled Father Junipero Admonishes A Bird, by Poe Ballentine. A couple of the poignant lines from it are:

"I began to reconsider my beloved Jack Kerouac, who was so steadfast in his adolescent stands against society and conformity that he had no choice but to die young and unhappy.Wouldn't it have been b…

National Poetry Month: Issue 11

Today on the National Poetry Month blog roll, I'm featuring Karo Barsamian, a Southeastern Wisconsin poet that is currently living in Australia. She is due back stateside sometime soon, and was gracious enough to send me some poems from the land down under - which is a term she probably hates - but I'm not sure. 
I first met Karen at AllWriters' as a Wednesday night student. Her poetry is beautiful, sensual and wrapped  with emotion. I hope you enjoy her work.

Untitled #1                                by Karo Barsamian When I hug you I like to think about how you're electrical how we're machines with small turbines, 
and we break.
I think eons ahead, where our bodies are not.
Well used. Forgotten.
I like to think about how we're electrical, how we will break.




Karo Barsamian's bio information was unavailable at the time of this post.
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Character Peek: Episode III - Keith

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It is just a little over two months until the release of Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir. It seems like it will never get here, but at the same time, there is much to do yet. I'm still working on scheduling events, signings and hopefully some interviews, so I'm still taking it a day at a time.

In my continuation of the "character peek" series I'm doing I'd like to tell you a little about our friend Keith. Keith grew up in Washington, DC. He met my brother Rob while they both attended the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York in the late eighties. Like Rob, Keith was deaf and raised in a hearing household. I would guess that he had the same level of loss as Keith, but I may be way off on that. They both had hearing aids and with a little bad signing on the part of the hearing brothers, (Tom, Paul and I) we all managed to work together during our canoe outings of the late 80's and early 90's. 
 In their college years, Rob…

National Poetry Month: Issue 9

One of my featured poets for National Poetry Month is Mario Medina, from Waukesha, Wisconsin. Mario is talented artist both in music and poetry, which ultimately go hand in hand anyway. He has some haunting guitar music that if you get a chance you should check out on his Amps for Buddah website. He also is a gifted video producer, having produced a couple of book trailers that are worth checking out.

It's artists like Mario that are talented across the spectrum that make me feel inadequate. If you asked me to paint a picture or play a song, you would be sorely disappointed. I'm a one trick pony - a writer - and despite my claims of having an excellent singing voice, my family begs to differ. I'll keep working on that.

This poem comes from Mario's chapbook titled, Zen and the Art of Lackadaisical Destruction. It speaks about not missing the present moment.

Where Ever You Are; Be There*          by Mario Medina

I could've given you a Cadillac
A brand new home in Tenn…

National Poetry Month: Issue 8

For Friday's NPM entry, I'm featuring another poem I wrote that was accepted for publishing a while back by Verse Wisconsin. It was inspired while I was in Minnesota over the Christmas holiday a few years ago. While I was out walking I came across an outdoor hockey rink. It dredged up memories of my youth where there was almost a hockey rink in every park. Midwest winters are a bear, but believe me when I tell you that I moved here in part to get a milder dose. So far, so good. The poem is about how winter is part of the culture up there and how one trip over a holiday brought back a ton of childhood memories.


Of Ice And Minn*                                          by Jim Landwehr
A mythical governor once declared “A hockey rink in every park,
skating ovals on every lake.”             Skates are standard issue
Snowbanks glaciate into icefalls Bus stop sherpas navigate With cramp-ons and ropes             Baby Hillary steps
Local lore tells of black ice Auto-exhaustion Hidden…

Throwback Thursday - Out of the Box

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I'll jump on the Throwback Thursday bandwagon here, since it seems to be all the rage within the social media circles, especially Facebook.

This picture was taken in the mid 80's sometime ('84?) during our Christmas soiree at Mom's house. The kid sitting on my lap is my nephew and godson Nicolas (Nick). He got this jack in the box for Christmas and we must have popped it 10 times, and each time I faked my surprise to his utter delight. The thing about those toys is that no matter how prepared you are for them, or how many times "pop goes the weasel," you're still just a little bit scared when it finally comes out. Just a little, but enough to annoy.

Anyways, Nick and I were always pretty close, and still are in many ways. I always took the approach that a godson should get extra attention, so made an effort to build a decent relationship with him. After I moved away to Milwaukee, I always made it a point to try and take him somewhere when I came back to t…

National Poetry Month: Issue 7

Being National Poetry Month, I thought I'd share a couple of my own poems as part of the Southeastern Wisconsin poet blog roll. At one time I aspired to be the State's tallest poet, but some guy at a poetry reading I was attending quickly pointed out that (at the time) Poet Laureate Bruce Dethlefsen had me by a couple of inches.

I hate when that happens.

In any case, the poem below was inspired during a walk home from work one day. A really, really good song came on my iPod and I felt the urge to dance. But didn't. It spurred me to ask the question why I didn't (and still don't). The answers of course are simple. What would others think? (Who's that whack-job dancing?, is what they'd think.) The other answer is because no one needs to see someone of my stature dancing, even under the best conditions.

But it made me realize that we stifle so much of ourselves our whole lives for fear of what others think. This stifling and fear of judgement are stress causin…

National Poetry Month: Issue 6

National Poetry Month rolls on. We continue with another poem from yesterday's featured poet, Marie Loeffler. This poem took me instantly to the Chicago hotel lobby. Thanks again to Marie for her participation in the Poetry Month blog roll!


Cape Cod (The Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL)*   by Marie Loeffler

"Lets Get Lost"
lilts from a speaker
as the bartender
shines a martini glass,
and we chat
about Chet Baker's
roiled past,
drinking nothing
but the smooth
brandy of that voice.

*Cape Cod was previously published in Third Wednesday


Biography:

Marie Loeffler has published poems in the Lilliput Review, Third Wednesday, Verse Wisconsin, The Journal of Musician, Echoes 2012 Anthology, and the 2013 Wisconsin Poets' Calendar. She has written poetry chapbook reviews for Verse Wisconsin. She also writes freelance interviews, classical music reviews, and articles for Isthmus The Daily Page (Madison, WI). She's a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and SCBWI. She instr…

National Poetry Month: Issue 5

National Poetry Month continues with another Southeastern Wisconsin poet. Today features Marie Loeffler from Waukesha. I first saw Marie's name in a Verse Wisconsin publication a few years ago. Then, it seemed every time I turned around I saw her name again related to poetry somewhere, or another. I finally met her for the first time at an AllWriters' Friday Night Free for All event where she read some of her work.

Marie is a talented musician as well who teaches violin lessons and instruction.  Her list of credits and achievements are included below. It's my privilege to feature some of her poetry on the April poetry blog roll. The poem below is short, in part because it was a requirement of the publication that it was featured in.

Kathak Dance*               by Marie Loeffler
The green silk hem of a sari twirls to the circle of rhythmic feet, gold bangles                that shine from wrist to slender elbow, as her arms embrace emptiness.  


*Kathak Dance was previo…

Character Peek: Episode II - Paul

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As I mentioned last Sunday, I thought I'd take a character out of my book every week and give a little background to them. Also like last week, I'll try not to regurgitate what is in the book about this character, but rather share some personal experiences I had with him or her over the years. Today I'll talk a little bit about my brother Paul. The second section of Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoiris spent outlining trips I took with some or all of them over the years in the late 80's and 90's. Paul was there for those trips, but not for the later ones, so references to his character come and go.

Paul is the youngest of the seven kids in our family, four years younger than me. He always refers to himself correctly as the last of the boomer generation. (Born in '65). Like most families, most of the siblings would say he got away with things they wouldn't have - that they paved the way for him - and to a certain extent it's true. I wouldn't say h…

National Poetry Month: Issue 4

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April is National Poetry Month in the US. Yesterday, while I was at the Waukesha Public Library, I saw a table announcing poetry month with several books of poems laid out on it. As you may know, I'm working on putting together a collection of my poems as my next book project. It is the next writing goal I have, to get a collection of poetry published.

My current publisher, eLectio Publishing does publish collections, so I'm hoping I'll have an 'in' when mine are ready. I have a good number that have been published in a bunch of literary journals, magazines and online, so that's a good start. Publishers want collections to include material that has a proven track record; work that's been vetted by editors elsewhere, essentially.

I want to continue the poetry blog roll with another poem from my friend and writing instructor, Kathie Giorgio. Kathie's preferred genre is literary fiction, but her success getting her poetry recognized and published is proof …

National Poetry Month: Issue 3

April is National Poetry Month. I'm featuring local Southeastern Wisconsin poets on my blog in an attempt to give them exposure and just because it's kind of fun. I remember my first real exposure to poetry from a critiquing or analytical perspective as clear as if it was yesterday. I was in 8th grade literature class and we were all asked to pick a poem and give a critique of it.

On that day, one friend chose Elton John's song, Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding which we played on the monoaural phonograph and was then critiqued. It was as edgy as we got in a Catholic grade school in the 70's; as close to Room 222 or the Dead Poet's Society as you can get, I think.

I forget the poem I chose, some willowy poem about ocean waves and a cave cut into the rocks or some such thing. I do remember reading it and thinking "What the heck?". It was only after re-reading it a second, third and fourth time that I really started to understand the deeper meanings. …

Thursday's Theologians

Thursday mornings have become my favorite morning of the week. Much like Saturday mornings with my wife, Thursdays start with coffee and conversation at a local coffee shop. Unlike Saturdays these are spent at Cafe De Arts in downtown Waukesha, home of the best cup of coffee in Waukesha, in my opinion. The owner Ayhun is a wonderful proprietor and always has my coffee ready by the time I get to the register.

"I saw you coming," he says.

He is also the one who offered his place for my book signing on June 21st, completely catching me off guard. I like to support businesses like his because he really cares about his customers and has a heart for his community as shown through his suspended coffees program. (A sort of pay it forward coffee program for the homeless.)

Anyways, I meet between three and four other men there on Thursday mornings before work every week. Occupationally, we are a diverse lot. There's a metal worker, an engineer who works for GE, a youth pastor and …