Wednesday, April 30, 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...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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...

Monday, April 28, 2014

National Poetry Month: Issue 21


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 wine from her fingers.
A few months later the Cheetah fleeted
faster than my reflex to catch it.
The Polar Bear was the loser
in a battle with an ice-cube tray.
The Whooping Crane flew out of my hand
as I wildly gestured a poem.
The Eagle was the last to go.
I broke it against the faucet
while doing the dishes.
Each time one of those glasses broke
I got a lesson in fragility,
a shattered metaphor for
what extinction means. Now
only the Tiger remains...
and it's chipped.

*From Dolphin Leaping in the Milky Way. 1987.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Character Peek: Episode V - Rob

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 then raised our families together.

In the book I'm working on next, about the house I grew up in in St. Paul, I recount many of the hilarious stories of growing up with five siblings in a single parent home. Here are a couple that didn't make the book.

As many of you know, Rob had Hollywood good looks. Like my father before us, he was handsome and built. I remember a house party I was hosting once in college and, when Rob walked in the door, no more than two of my girl friends came up and asked me who he was. When I pointed out that he was my brother they swooned even more. When asked whether they saw the resemblance to myself, their answers were less than concrete. I assured them that there was a DNA relationship and that good looks ran in all the Landwehr brothers, but by that time, it was clear they were no longer listening to my good looks and were focused on his.

He was a head turner. I used to enjoy hanging around him just hoping to catch some of his cast-offs. Once when we were at the beach on Lake Nokomis, a girl approached me on shore while Rob was swimming. She asked if I would give him a note. After I clarified that it was for HIM, not ME, (She assured me that, no, it was definitely for him), she went back to her towel with her friend. It turned out to be her friend's phone number, who was too shy to approach us.

Snubbed in favor of the big guy again!

I was beginning to see a pattern.

My mom had a big Christmas party at our house one year. In walks Rob and conversation stops and glasses drop. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but not by much.

Rob and I went out to dance clubs a lot in our college years. I held his beer for more songs  than I care to remember, while he was out cuttin' it up with some girl that asked him to dance. Yep, I was that guy. Furthermore, he was confident enough that he could tell a girl no thank you if he wasn't interested in her. This was always a shock to me because, for as little as I may have been asked, I don't think no came up. I was just happy to see interest. LOL.

When he was young, his looks were compared to Tom Cruise (Top Gun) and Scott Baio (Happy Days). When he was a little older, there were times he looked like Robert DeNiro.

Me? Well, I got James Taylor (Fire and Rain) and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future).

But hey, who's comparing, right?

In any case, he ended up with a beautiful wife, Jane, who was as star-stricken upon first meeting him as the rest of them. Fortunately for both, the feeling was mutual and they had many happy, loving years together and raised two beautiful daughters as well.

I too, found a beautiful woman thanks in part to Rob, but that's another story I've already addressed. Click Here to see it.

There's many, many more stories about the fun times Rob and the rest of us shared in the great north woods of Minnesota. Unfortunately, you're just going to have to wait until June 17th to read them.

And I hope you do.

Blogging off...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

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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Friday, April 25, 2014

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 The Buddha Beef Junky

Mario Medina is a musician and poet and lives and works in Waukesha. He has an album, Slouching Toward Nirvana, coming out under his Amps for Buddha label. Check it out at his website.


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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Not Handy. Not.

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 measuring 3 times against the old door, I cut it. I love power tools, but only when coerced into using them

Next I had to cut the aluminum trim. I grabbed my sorely lacking, somewhat dull hacksaw and started in on it. This might have been the hardest part. Not to mention it made the fillings in my mouth hurt.

Then in trying to drill through the aluminum in the door, I break my first drill bit. No problem, got plenty of them. The next one doesn't fair well either as I bent it once it heated up enough to melt metal.


This is why I don't like projects. It's the "sub-projects" that get created along the way.

I replace it again and finish the job. (I break a third drill bit later, but that's another story.

I get the hinge piece on, mount it to the door frame and low and behold...it doesn't close. Luckily it didn't close because of a trim piece that had been put on the last time I replaced the door. So I take that off, and then lo and behold...there's now a GAP!

Oh the humanity. Did I mention I'm not handy?

Well, I must be getting wiser because I salvaged the old trim and was able to reuse it for the area that had a gap. (The house is not flush, built on a hill, by drunkards with balance issues and a 35 inch yardstick. So there's that.)

I re-gap the gap and lo and behold, the door closes flush and tight.

I finish up the rest of the work and look at the clock.

It reads 3:05

Not a record, but hey, it looks terrific, don't you agree? Not bad for someone who's not handy.



Blogging off...


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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.





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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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 tattoo,
or grew those dreads we’d always meant to?

Maybe if we built more art galleries, concert halls and bookstores,
taught more viola, art history and rumba,
we might do with fewer hospitals and nursing homes.


*Previously published in Heavy Bear magazine.


Jim Landwehr enjoys writing creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. His first book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir will be released by eLectio Publishing on June 17th, 2014. He has non-fiction stories published in Boundary Waters Journal, Forge Journal and MidWest Outdoors Magazine. His poetry has been featured in Verse Wisconsin, Torrid Literature Journal, Echoes Poetry Journal, Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine, the Wisconsin Poets Calendar, Off the Coast Poetry Journal, Heavy Bear online magazine and others. He also has a fiction story published on the Free Zombie Fiction Blog. Jim lives and works in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

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...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Character Peek: Episode IV - Pete

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 parked in the driveway. Pete was put in charge of the keys for all of the cars, in case they needed moving to enable his family’s cars to get in and out of the driveway. Being attorneys, there were some beautiful cars there, including this white Corvette and a Lincoln Continental Mark IV.


Well, Pete hatched the idea that it’d be kind of cool to take the Corvette to school one day. On his way, he picked up Pat and I. Because vette’s are two-seaters, Pat took the passenger seat, and I got the hump in the middle. We were pretzeled in there like clowns in a VW. We tried to look all natural and everything, so as to not attract any undue attention. Because nothing says natural like three seventeen year-olds in a two seat Corvette, right?

There was something so cool about sitting in a car with such power, even if it meant sitting on the hump.
Naturally, the car attracted a lot of attention when we got to school. Literally within the first hour the car was traced to Pete and he was called into the principal’s office to give an account for where he got it. He somehow schmoozed his way out of it, but was told not to bring it to school anymore – that it was a distraction, or something of the sort.

The more interesting story came after school got out. Pete got to the car to find a note from an unknown girl from the girls school across the way. It read something like “Hey, I love your car, and I’d like to meet you. Call me at nnn-nnnn.” I think he got another phone number over lunchtime.

I hate the term, but that car was a chick magnet.

I would like to say that was the end of the story, but it’s not. One night we took the Corvette to a friend’s house in the suburbs of St. Paul. Of course, being a race car, we had to see what she could do. And so, on the 35E bridge over the Mississippi river, Pete opened her up and we managed hit 100 MPH. It's quite a picture.

White Corvette.

Three of us.

Me on the hump.

Radio blaring.

100 MPH

It was a ride, I’ll never forget.

Was it the smartest thing I’ve ever done? No. Would I do it over again if I had the chance? In a second!

You see, it’s called living life and sometimes you have to push the boundaries of safe and rational to really experience it. Luckily I had friends like Pete to bring moments like that into my life. As high school friends we had a ton of memorable moments like these, including the trip to the Boundary Waters in 1979. For more about that trip and my friend Pete, you’ll just have to read the book. In the meantime, if you want another car story about Pete and I, the next time you see me, be sure and ask me about the Lincoln Continental.

Blogging off…

Saturday, April 19, 2014

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".

Like many of my poems, I don't know where this one came from. It kind of brings children's readers into the twenty first century. Sometimes I just start writing and an idea presents itself. Then I just run with it. So, here it is. Here is where all the madness began. Enjoy.



Anyone Seen Sally?                                       by Jim Landwehr

Jane is a divorced single parent
raising two on Kraft and Oscar Mayer.
See Jane Work.
Work Jane, Work!

Dick lives with his partner Tim
and he doesn’t tell Mother.
See Dick Run.
Run Dick, Run!

Puff contracted feline diabetes
from WalMart kitty chow made in China
See Puff Drink.
Drink Puff, Drink!

Spot got mauled in a dog fight
that won Father two hundred dollars.
See Spot Bleed.
Bleed Spot, Bleed!


Jim Landwehr enjoys writing creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. His first book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir will be released by eLectioPublishing on June 17th, 2014. He has non-fiction stories published in Boundary Waters Journal, Forge Journal and MidWest Outdoors Magazine. His poetry has been featured in Verse Wisconsin, Torrid Literature Journal, Echoes Poetry Journal, Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine, the Wisconsin Poets Calendar, Off the Coast Poetry Journal, Heavy Bear online magazine and others. He also has a fiction story published on the Free Zombie Fiction Blog. Jim lives and works in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

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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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday - First Jobs

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 upset. Probably more upset that a 15 year old was in charge of the entire joint at that point, which I was. It was an early lesson in customer relations, one that I'd prefer to forget.

Anyways, at last sighting, the guy was outside the wash fiddling with his ornament trying to make it face forward. Looking back, it was a real first world problem and kind of funny - for me at least. Hood ornaments were such a big thing for a while, which I think is a sign of a depraved, sick culture, but I digress.

I think my time at Tu-Way was only about 6 months or so. Thankfully, track started up at school and I had the perfect job-quitting excuse.

A year or so later, I started working at The Lexington restaurant, a fine dining establishment. Because most every High School kid that worked there started as a dishwasher, that was where I started. In the area where the dish trays were brought in, there was a long counter with a trash bin type slot so you could just pull off paper products, ash trays, and other garbage that could not go down the garbage disposal. Every once in a while a smoldering cigarette butt would slip through the process and we'd end up with what we affectionately called a "bin fire". They were usually small, smoky affairs but kept the night interesting.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the kitchen got quite busy. We'd get trays in faster than we could clear them. (I always hated the busboys when they'd start swamping the dishwashers.) Eventually things went down the garbage disposal that shouldn't have. The occasional bone, a bottle cap or spoon. The creepiest thing I ever pulled out of it though was a set of dentures. Yuk! (My first thought was, "Where'd the rest of the guy go?") When you're dealing with hundreds of pounds of garbage a night, stuff like that tends to slip through.

Eventually I moved up to Salad Prep. Lots of good memories of working alongside my friend Pat in that spot.

After a short stint in that position, I again moved "up" the corporate ladder to busboy. The funniest tragic story I have from my days as a busboy involved a set of automated doors going into the dining room. If you didn't hit the right spot on the floor, the doors wouldn't open. If you hit the spot wrong, they would only stay open briefly.

Well, I had a whole tray of French Onion soups one evening, heading out to the party room. I hit the floor trigger, but not good enough, and the cursed doors closed on my arm, trapping it and forcing the tray to tip and slide all the soups to the floor. While this was certainly tragic from my end, I can't help but thinking of what it looked like from the dining room vantage point. An arm and a tray squashed between two doors. I imagine it was quite a sight.

I was not the only victim of those doors. They took many, in different ways. Evil doors. Hated the doors.

There were a ton of other untellable tales from the kitchen of one of the city's finest restaurant. If you get me alone sometime over a malted beverage, ask me about them sometime.

As my son begins to look into getting his first job, he's got these kinds of things to look forward to. I always said, that it's good incentive for finishing high school and college. Because, arm-crushing soup spilling's a helluva way to make a living.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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 director and founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, an international creative writing studio. 

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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 better if he had put down the bottle before it was too late and begun to write about his new sober, reflective life?"

or this one,

"You cannot drink yourself to greatness, but many greats drink themselves into the grave"

It's a great article in a quality magazine. I read The Sun from cover to cover every month.

Here's another of Karo Barsamian's poems. (Formatting may not be true to original)

Sitting in Church                   by Karo Barsamian

Touching my leg where the bristle turns to down,
I think of the reflective surface of my mother's legs,
their glare and properness beneath a Sunday skirt.

The perpetual smoothness of my father's hand
never brushed against it in the pew,
while other men touched their wives' kneecaps like a scepter,
fingertips articulate on the skin.

I think of the untouched perfection of my mother's legs
while feeling the roughness of my own.


Karo Barsamian's bio information was not available at the time of this post.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

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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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Character Peek: Episode III - Keith

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 and Keith were best friends. They were always together and got along great. Keith was always a pretty quiet kid, I would daresay quieter than me, which is pretty quiet. There were times on camping trips and other social situations when you'd forget Keith was there. I don't begrudge anyone their inner introvert so I was fine with it. Keith loved being around people, and because he doesn't drive, he was just glad to be there most of the time. I could always tell he was having a good time despite his low key. He was like me and kept a stoic demeanor most of the time. (Unlike me, his was framed as more of a smile, than my straight lipped, unemotive look.) He was a cool cat anyways so, less was always more with him.

When he graduated from NTID/RIT Keith decided to move to Minnesota and find a job. The fact that he and Rob were such good friends played a large part in this. Paul and I were pretty good friends with him as well. He liked our whole family and was always invited to family gatherings. He was like an adopted brother. We called him our brother from another mother. That about summed up his fit in our family.

Keith also had a great sense of humor. He had to in order to hang around the Landwehr boys, as we were always pretty hard on each other. The sarcasm and put-downs were always flying around camp and it was only a matter of time before you got blindsided by someone. 

No one was exempt. 
Keep your guard up. 
Bob and weave.

There are a couple of "Keith moments" in the book that I think you'll enjoy. They show off his good natured spirit and his spunk at the same time. Outside of all of us brothers, he was the only friend who made it up north for all five of our trips during those "early years." It speaks of how well we got along with him.

One thing I will always remember about our trips with Keith was Rob yelling at Keith to put his life jacket on every time we got in the canoes. Like me, he was a weak swimmer, and the last thing we needed was to have to haul his (or my) carcass out of the water when he fell in. He knew his weakness too, and was vigilant about wearing it religiously.

We are still good friends with Keith today. He keeps in touch with Paul fairly frequently and I manage to see him a couple of times a year when I get back to the Twin Cities. He's still quiet, still funny, and still a really, really nice guy.

And so, in as much as I can't imagine any of those trips back then without my brothers, I can't imagine them without Keith either.

After all, he is my brother from another mother.

Blogging off...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

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 Tennessee
I could've bought you that diamond ring
For all your jealous friends to see.

But then where would it have left us
Wanting more, down on our knees
You will thank me when looking back
That I gave you what there was of me.

Can't help what happened yesterday.

Wherever you are, I want you there.

Wherever you are; be there.


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

Friday, April 11, 2014

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 from sight
            Motorist killer

Tented angler sentinels
Fish from bucket seats
On desolate ice
            Eelpout and chips

Skiers drive the fifth tee
Down the fairway hill
Into the rough
            Winter’s mulligan

Castles of ice
Carnivals of cold
People of warmth

            This is Minnesota



*Previously published in Verse Wisconsin Magazine


Jim Landwehr enjoys writing creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. His first book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir will be released by eLectio Publishing on June 17th, 2014. He has non-fiction stories published in Boundary Waters Journal, Forge Journal and MidWest Outdoors Magazine. His poetry has been featured in Verse Wisconsin, Torrid Literature Journal, Echoes Poetry Journal, Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine, the Wisconsin Poets Calendar, Off the Coast Poetry Journal, Heavy Bear online magazine and others. He also has a fiction story published on the Free Zombie Fiction Blog. Jim lives and works in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Out of the Box

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 the Twin Cities to visit.

He may kill me for saying this, but during one period of his life he went through a phase where, depending on the situation, his anxiety would kick in and he'd work himself up into a frenzy where he'd puke. Other times it would be a false alarm, where he would say he didn't feel good and he'd eventually calm down and nothing would happen.

I remember one time I took him and his cousin, Erin to Como Zoo for the day. We went on a couple of rides, saw the animals and had some food. Well, then Nick started feeling "not so good" to the point where I had to hold him over the garbage can while he tried to puke. I can't recall if he did or not, but his anxiety was catching because the next thing I knew, Erin said that she had to puke. So I set Nick down and picked up Erin and held her over the trash can to puke. I don't think she did either, but at this point I was beginning to wonder how much more fun we could have at the zoo? It's funny how kids feed off of other kids' emotions.

Thankfully it was a short lived phase.

Another great story about Nick was when he was about 6 years old and he met my fiance' Donna for the first time. He was so possessive of our relationship that when he was told "this is going to be your new aunt Donna," he quickly replied, "She's not going to be MY aunt Donna!"

My wife was feeling the love.

As it turned out, he eventually warmed up to her and realized that, cooties aside, she was pretty okay. Over the years since that day, we've grown closer than ever, and now with his bride Janet, we stand to build an even greater relationship as time goes.

So don't ever discount the time spent with a niece or nephew when they're young. It pays huge dividends down the road. Just be careful to locate all the trash containers at the zoo when you go.

Blogging off...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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 causing. Stress = bad for the heart. And, well, if you read the poem, you'll see where it went. The take away from it is that you should be true to yourself more (with the exception of public displays of white guy, unrhythmic dancing) and worry less about what others think. It might just prolong your life.


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 tattoo,
or grew those dreads we’d always meant to?

Maybe if we built more art galleries, concert halls and bookstores,
taught more viola, art history and rumba,

we might do with fewer hospitals and nursing homes.



*Doctor Recommended was previously published in Heavy Bear magazine.



JimLandwehr enjoys writing creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. His first book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir will be released by eLectio Publishing on June 17th, 2014. He has non-fiction stories published in Boundary Waters Journal, Forge Journal and MidWest Outdoors Magazine. His poetry has been featured in Verse Wisconsin, Torrid Literature Journal, Echoes Poetry Journal, Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine, the Wisconsin Poets Calendar, Off the Coast Poetry Journal, Heavy Bear online magazine and others. He also has a fiction story published on the Free Zombie Fiction Blog. Jim lives and works in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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 instructs violin through the University of Wisconsin - Waukesha and Carroll University.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

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 previously published in the Lilliput Review.


Biography:
Marie Loeffler has published poems in the Lilliput Review, Third Wednesday, Verse Wisconsin, The Journal of a 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 instructs violin through the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha and Carroll University.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Character Peek: Episode II - Paul

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 Memoir is 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 he was spoiled, because no one in our family was spoiled. With seven kids there wasn't much time or money for spoilage. Equal treatment all around.

While no one in the family ever much excelled in the arts, Paul was the closest thing to the "artistic one" as we came. He got his degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota in the late 80's. I remember some of the projects he had for his art classes and how well he put them together. He had an eye for color, structure and juxtaposition that I just never had. Like most artists, he threw his whole self into his projects and get lost in them. Occasionally he'd realize that it wasn't coming out how he intended and he'd scrap the whole thing and start over. He was a perfectionist with high standards for his work.

I believe the whole idea of a brothers boundary waters trip was spurred by Paul. Like the rest of us, he loves the outdoors and he knew we would be fairly compatible, having grown up around each other with our little quirks and idiosyncrasies. It turned out he was right, and what transpired over the next five years was transformational in bringing us brothers closer together. This idea forms the core of the book.

When I say I didn't really know my father, I need to realize that I have nothing to complain about. Paul and to a certain extent Rob, have virtually no memory of dad. Paul would have been about 18 months old at the time of his death, so he has nothing but pictures and stories of dad to rely on. Perhaps the ironic thing in all of that is that of the four brothers, Mom always said that Paul was the most like dad. His demeanor, his restlessness, and his temperament. She said sometimes when she sees him standing, it's eerie because he even stands like him. A good argument for DNA if there ever was one.

I guess one of the most memorable experiences with Paul would have to be the Landwehr Hunt in 2006 in Dent, Minnesota. The Landwehr Hunt was held every year on this farm in remote northwestern Minnesota. It was a tradition started by my dad and his brothers and, as the brothers started dying off, it was later carried on by the surviving sons. The "Hunt" was a loose term for what really went on. There were years when guns were not even brought up. It was really just a card playing, beer drinking weekend in mid-October every year.

Anyway, the year I went up was a blast. I was new to the tradition, while Rob and Paul had been up a time before that. Somehow after a night in town shooting billiards and telling stories, we ended up in the out-of-use round barn of the Gonya farmstead that was the crown jewel of the property. A beautifully constructed barn with high, vaulted rafters and it's unique round character.

So, at one point we moved to a room that Paul called the "killing floor". He said it was where my "baby back" ribs got their start, and then proceeded to make little piggy squealing noises. Rob and I chuckled and I said I didn't believe him he only made more squealing noises, which brought me to laughing to the point of tears. You really had to be there and part of it was the beer laughing, but it was one of those juvenile, silly, brotherhood moments that I will never forget. It was the culmination of a great weekend with him, my other brothers, cousins and uncles. It was Paul's sense of humor at it's zenith.

I've said it many times that the older I get, the more I realize I'm lucky to have been part of a big family. Paul was a big part of my life throughout my school years and the Boundary Waters trips brought us even closer. If you want to hear more about Paul, you'll have to read the book. His humor, mechanical aptitude and artistic flair are present throughout. I'm glad he brought up the suggestion so many years ago. It was the start of a great tradition.

Blogging off...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

National Poetry Month: Issue 4

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.

http://www.electiopublishing.com/
eLectio Publishing
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 that she loves the craft of writing. She writes in all genres using all styles, thus the name she picked for her studio, AllWriters'. Furthermore she encourages the same from her students. That encouragement was what led me to cross over from creative nonfiction to poetry and, eventually, into fiction.

Here's another poem from Kathie. Because she is a sniggler (and sniggler is a compliment here) for proper grammar, punctuation and English, this is a fun poem about the comma and the importance of its proper use.

COMMA                                                                         by Kathie Giorgio

Through history and lives,
and loves,
in letters, telegrams, postcards,
emails, tweets and texts,
a proper comma keeps thousands
from speaking the truth.
From letting hearts spell
their full request:
Love, Me (we signed)

Love Me (we said)


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 director and founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, an international creative writing studio. 

Author sitewww.kathiegiorgio.org
Studio sitewww.allwritersworkshop.com
Please "like" Author Kathie Giorgio on Facebook, and follow KathieGiorgio on Twitter!
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Friday, April 4, 2014

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. When I presented that scenario to the class, the instructor, Mr. Gallett, the ultimate literary geek, came up to me after class and said "I really enjoyed your presentation, Jim. You obviously put some thought into it. Thank you."

It was that affirmation of something I had doubted was worth anything - my hack-analysis of a cryptic poem - that set the foundation for my interest in poetry for the rest of my life. So, you teachers and parents out there, don't ever discount the value of encouraging words for kids' artistic talents, loves and pursuits.

Today's poem comes from another of those encouraging people in my life. Kathie Giorgio is perhaps the most influential source of my writing success of the past few years. She's what I like to call a critical encourager. When I started in her class, the last thing I ever though was that I would fall into writing poetry, and, well, here I am. She writes a little poetry herself and has provided me some for this blog roll. I'll be posting a few of them over the course of the month.

Here's one for starters as well as more information about her other writing successes.


APRIL FOOL IN FLORIDA                                      by Kathie Giorgio

In front of me
through the window,
a dark-skinned woman
body flowing in a burnt
orange dress   exposed
back   exposed arms
kinked and coiled hair held
back with a yellow silk
scarf
works under the raised hood
of her white service van.
White towels sharp against
her skin, soon streaked black
with oil.


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 director and founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, an international creative writing studio. 
 

Author sitewww.kathiegiorgio.org
Studio sitewww.allwritersworkshop.com
Please "like" Author Kathie Giorgio on Facebook, and follow KathieGiorgio on Twitter!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

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 an accountant/CFO.

I'm not sure what we call ourselves. We refer to it as a book study, though there are days we never crack a book. Our intent is to work our way through a book, usually an edgy Christian book or one that challenges us. At the moment we are working through some Christian blog posts by an author and that has been mind bendingly challenging as well. The group is turning my once nicely pigeonholed understanding of the Bible and Christianity on its head a bit.

And I can't get enough of it.

Understand that some of it makes me uncomfortable. When you grow up looking at your faith and the Bible a certain way and then someone or some contemporary cultural hot-point comes along and challenges that it makes me squirm a little. But this squirming reminds me that maybe I was a little to myopic in my thinking or running the risk of becoming too comfortable or stuck in my ways. This squirming is also where God works, I think.

So we talk about tough subjects. We've been talking a lot about the fury of insanity around homosexuality lately. We've been talking a lot about the literal nature of the Bible, the fact that it was ultimately written by men - humans over hundreds of years, in wildly different cultures and what that means and how to read it as a result. Like I said, it's pushing me out of my comfort zone, and I'm okay with that. I'm learning a ton along the way about the fact that the important part of the Bible is about grace, and forgiveness, and love and not so much about exclusivity and judgement and shame. This has been absolutely freeing to me - almost as much as my original coming to faith. Kind of a rebirth of the reborn.

But it's not always serious talk about heavy things. We discuss our lives and what's going on. For example, one guy showed an email from a coworker that was a tirade in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS that went on and on about how this guy DIDN"T KNOW WHAT HE WAS DOING AND SHOULD LEAVE HIS PROJECT ALONE. We all had a good laugh at that one.

We discuss home improvement projects. We talk about  my book or my buddies CD of music that he recorded. We talk about our wives and kids. We talk about our families and how nutty they are but that we love them nonetheless. We try not to talk about politics because, well, we just don't. I can tell you that this was one of the many things that led me to leave my last "Bible Study" because it became a big deal. Evidently I didn't get the party memo and well, lets just say I like this group a whole lot more - mostly because we don't talk politics.

I wish every man could have a group like this. I come away from the hour long gatherings super-energized and I can't explain why (though I think the coffee's laced with endorphins or something.) It is a great chance to get stuff off our chests, talk about something deeper than sports, and laugh our friggin' heads off in the process. I think God puts guys like this in my life to move me along the spectrum - much like my writing group in a different way, and much like my old Bible Study group met a need at the time for what it was. (Despite its fiery crash conclusion.)

It's a journey that has been really cool and I'm glad to be a part of it.

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