It was nice to wake up to see that this one was featured on Spillwords.com today. If you go, don’t forget to vote!
“Do you solemnly swear before the everliving God
that the testimony you
are about to give in this cause shall
be the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth?”
“No, I don’t. I can tell you what I saw
and what I heard and I’ll swear to
that by the everliving God but the
more I study about it the more sure
I am that nobody but the everliving
God knows the whole truth and if
you summoned Christ as a witness
in this case what He would tell you
would burn your insides with the
pity and the mystery of it.”
In the poem of collections, “The People, Yes”. 1936, Harcourt & Brace; 1990 First Harvest Edition.
“…And may you lie in a bed of white clouds.”
The white clouds float over the mountains of Chu–
As over the mountains of Chin.
Everywhere the white clouds will follow you on.
They will follow you on everywhere–
With you they will enter the Chu mountains,
And cross the waters of the Hsiang.
Yonder across the waters of the Hsiang,
There is a cloak of ivy to wear,
And you may lie in a bed of white clouds.
Go swiftly home, O my friend!
translated by Shigeyoshi Obata
Happy birthday, Bill.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Cicadas, and the birds that hunt them.
A neighbor’s lawnmower.
The whisper of the maple leaves in a cool morning breeze.
A dog, barking for show somewhere over there.
A catch in the air, ever so faint, a momentary pause.
News of the first real cold front coming down out of Canada.
The fat rump of late summer has settled in, humid and hot.
But if you listen–and if you tend to see the rain cloud in every silver lining, like me,
You sip your morning coffee and listen harder, feel the breezes more,
Because we know in our bones that everything moves on,
That only a fool would have lived his life in hard pursuits
Without realizing that all those moments, like this fleeting one,
Only come once and are gone, as surely as heavy ol’ Summer
Will rise one day soon and move on south, making room
For other precious and holy moments that need attention, as this one does.
The sea moves always, the wind moves always,
They want and they want and there is no end to their wanting.
What they sing is the song of the people.
Man will never arrive. Man will always be on the way.
It is written he shall rest, but never for long.
The sea and the wind tell him he shall be lonely, meet love,
Be shaken with struggle and go on wanting.
‘I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”
~ Brené Brown
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Original post: http://wp.me/p2Dfus-1eT
The dead need light,
As much as the living need music.
They crave the kind of light
That brings babies’ faces to mind again, and
Spring blooms, and waves dancing on a beach they once knew.
Eternity is a long, long time,
The darkness is all.
But still… they remember
The way the stars sweep across
the sky on a clear night,
the way a bumblebee looks as it
lumbers around, amazingly.
They need the lights of Paris,
twinkling with promise
drawing a halo of innocence around
young lovers by the river.
The dead crave to see, again,
your two eyes, open, soft and
moist with tears, catching the light
of a streetlight in
breathtaking flecks of gold and green.
The dead remember, with a hopeless ache, the way
moonlight played on the lover’s
hip as you slept, a fleeting memory of touch
burned forever in light,
of no more than a hand lightly stroking
just to make sure you were real.
(Posting again. We seem to need this…)
“Fair goes the dancing when the Sitar is tuned.
Tune us the Sitar neither high nor low,
And we will dance away the hearts of men.
But the string too tight breaks, and the music dies.
The string too slack has no sound, and the music dies.
There is a middle way.
Tune us the Sitar neither low nor high.
And we will dance away the hearts of men.”
—Sir Edwin Arnold, “The Light of Asia” (often misattributed to a saying of Buddha)
It’s not Friday, but feels like it should be.
Maybe its the wine. Always blame the wine when you’re feeling low.
Get a little drunk and go off and read your favorites,
And thank the good Lord that there’s video.
Enjoy this little offering. And have some wine.
By Jim Harrison
I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake
in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools,
the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic,
used tires, taverns, saloons, bars, gallons of red wine,
abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves,
gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls
who haven’t quite gone totally wild, river eddies,
leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil,
turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages lost in the woods,
the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands
of birds I’ve talked to all of my life, the dogs
that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow
me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose,
the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see
from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling
to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot.
Because you can never get too much Carl. #Sandburgforpresident
“There is a wolf in me . . . fangs pointed for tearing gashes . . . a red tongue for raw meat . . . and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.
There is a hog in me . . . a snout and a belly . . . a machinery for eating and grunting . . . a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.
There is a fish in me . . . I know I came from salt-blue water-gates . . . I scurried with shoals of herring . . . I blew waterspouts with porpoises . . . before land was . . . before the water went down . . . before Noah . . . before the first chapter of Genesis.
There is a baboon in me . . . clambering-clawed . . . dog-faced . . . yawping a galoot’s hunger . . . hairy under the armpits . . . here are the hawk-eyed hankering men . . . here are the blonde and blue-eyed women . . . here they hide curled asleep waiting . . . ready to snarl and kill . . . ready to sing and give milk . . . waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.
There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird . . . and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want . . . and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.
O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.
The eggs fry on the sidewalks Mother Nature has a fever Dismayed am I at the abyss That is my empty freezer On days like this when forecasts for The week just say ‘real hot!’ It seems a bit of ice cream would Be best to hit the spot So off in my jalopy I […]
I love this one. Part of my “quotes from better writers” group.
by Joyce Sutphen
When I was five, my father,
who loved me, ran me over
with a medium-sized farm tractor.
I was lucky though; I tripped
and slipped into a small depression,
which caused the wheels to tread
lightly on my leg, which had already
been broken (when I was three)
by a big dog, who liked to play rough,
and when I was nine, I fell
from the second-floor balcony
onto the cement by the back steps,
and as I went down I saw my life go by
and thought: “This is exactly how
Wiley Coyote feels, every time!”
Luckily, I mostly landed on my feet,
and only had to go on crutches
for a few months in the fifth grade—
and shortly after that, my father,
against his better judgment,
bought the horse I’d wanted for so long.
All the rest of my luck has to do
with highways and ice—things that
could have happened, but didn’t.
“My Luck” by Joyce Sutphen from First Words. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2010. (buy now)
Dusk in August under a crescent moon.
People in the neighborhood walk their dogs,
Hurrying, because they have work tomorrow.
But the air has that special kind of softness that
Makes people stir inside, think alarming thoughts.
Her house in the woods is empty tonight.
No kids, no neighbors, no husband, no plans.
So, after the dishes are put away, and a few emails read,
She looks out and sees the moon over the dark woods.
She steps out of her clothes and onto the deck,
Opens her arms and lets the pale light electrify her skin,
Feels a movement in her womb, just as in ancient times,
And she makes of herself an offering, in freedom—
An exhausted suburban wife with laundry to do—
To something primal that she had thought was dead.
I’ve cut back on posting a bit as I’m working on a longish piece and it’s a little out of my comfort zone, so I tried to write a Haiku to grease the chute and…. nothing happened. This from February sums it up.
So strange to hear that song again tonight
Traveling on business in a rented car
Miles from anywhere I’ve been before.
And now a tune I haven’t heard for years
Probably not since it last left the charts
Back in L.A. in 1969.
I can’t believe I know the words by heart
And can’t think of a girl to blame them on.
Every lovesick summer has its song,
And this one I pretended to despise,
But if I was alone when it came on,
I turned it up full-blast to sing along —
A primal scream in croaky baritone,
The notes all flat, the lyrics mostly slurred.
No wonder I spent so much time alone
Making the rounds in Dad’s old Thunderbird.
Some nights I drove down to the beach to park
And walk along the railings of the pier.
The water down below was cold and dark,
The waves monotonous against the shore.
The darkness and the mist, the sea,
The flickering lights reflected from the city —
A perfect setting for a boy like me,
The Cecil B. DeMille of my self-pity.
I thought by now I’d left those nights behind,
Lost like the girls that I could never get,
Gone with the years, junked with the old T-Bird.
But one old song, a stretch of empty road,
Can open up a door and let them fall
Tumbling like boxes from a dusty shelf,
Tightening my throat for no reason at all,
Bringing on tears shed only for myself.
“Cruising with the Beach Boys” by Dana Gioia from 99 Poems. © Graywolf Press, 2016.
It’s a glorious morning, sunny and not-too-hot. But you youngsters won’t get this one. You will, some day, if you’re lucky enough to survive your youth.
When we are old
we begin to contemplate the future
something it would have been good
for us to do while we were young
But you know youth
It has no patience with contemplation
Everything is all about the moment
and when the moment is past
Well it’s already another moment
Yesterday is irrelevant
Now where was I
When we are old
we begin to contemplate the future
Weigh what we think our quality of life
will be in 10 years or 5 years or 6 months
Hell let’s be honest
Do you really want to end up in a
nursing home wearing diapers staring
out the window at passing cars waiting
for someone you can’t even remember
to come read to you about your options?
Heaven seems to…
View original post 75 more words
Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots.
“Why won’t the saints look at us?”
“Even saints need a break sometimes, Honey.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Yeah. Try a long walk. They’re saints. They’ll be back.”
“I hope so. I’m not sure I would.”
“Me, neither. There’s always a first time, I suppose. Try not to think about that. That path through the woods to the lake is your best shot. Take your time.”
Reposted. Just because…..
I won’t lie.
We like the slope of a shoulder, the lips, the eyes, the breast, the neck, the legs. We like the way your hips flare and grab our attention as you walk away with that special, unconscious sway. The glance, the flush of emotion, including anger or pain, the smile, the look that says “You’re full of it,” but doesn’t wound.
The elegant, subtle variety of the female form is intoxicating. There is no one perfect one; each is her own expression of the grand design. And…. Ah, what a grand design it is, too.
But there is more, when you let us see it. It can be frustrating, or enchanting—or both. …That surprising way your mind works, the way you see things we don’t—which is sometimes inconvenient, sometimes infuriating, but never boring.
When you live from a confident core, when this is all natural and unforced, it is the most enchanting thing of all.
It is after the nights, a week, a month—sometimes—
After I flirt with silly half-assery and questions.
After I get lost, a little. Lose the plot, the scent, the signal…
(When you take the road less traveled—
Which is the only one that really interests me—
Sometimes you don’t know where the hell you are.
The street signs are all different.)
I stop, wait, put my good ear to the ground. Sniff the wind.
Maybe hitch a ride, hop a freight, wake up
In the damp air of new places, strange mountains, different accents,
Maybe it’ll be beignets and chicory coffee in N’awwlins; maybe
It’ll be the call of an elk, or the tang of the pines
In some high, wild place;
Maybe it’s a street under the clatter of the EL in Chicago, or maybe it’s
Feeling the sizzle of the naked sun on my back,
Building fence in the high desert in July.
After all this time I just know that I
Can only ride out the nonsense,
Embrace the nothingness, hug it tight
As the other half of meaning.
I’m impatient; I worry I’ll run out of time.
But this runs at its own pace.
For just as quickly, despite the trivia and side trips, and
Without warning, a sudden dawn will burst up like thunder,
And I’ll be back in tune, but maybe on a different road.
Hello, sweet August. You’re looking pretty good in that summer dress.
Let’s take a walk, talk a little. Maybe fool around like kids.
It looks like it’ll be a nice day.
What say we go get in a little trouble?
“Follow Your Bliss-krieg”
When we grow skeptical of the comfortable
And slip under the velvet ropes of fear
sliding out over darker waters,
But still afraid, that’s when we grow.
Three times three times three,
Nine times nine times nine,
These are the inexorable multipliers of change.
There is no way to connect the dots looking ahead.
We can only connect them by looking back
At our footsteps in the shifting sands.
Our timid selves, still digging their toes in the sand and calling to us,
Seem safe, but choosing safety only is always a kind of death.
But…. It looks so much better there on shore.
But those who stay on the shore will never know the thrill,
Out on the deep waters where there is no bottom,
Where we realize that we’re not sinking, even though
We cannot yet see a visible means of support.
This is such a good metaphor for the job of poets and writers generally: snorkeling between two tectonic plates. Speaks to the job of exploring places where big forces grind together, places where it’s sometimes hard to breathe.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
This is what I wish I had as a writing shed.
A Cherokee fable:
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between 2 “wolves” inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
by Cesar Vallejo
It will not be what is yet to come,
but that which came and already left,
but that which came and already left.
translated by Clayton Eshleman
Reblogged from Leonard Durso
by Maxine Kumin
Blue landing lights make
nail holes in the dark.
A fine snow falls. We sit
on the tarmac taking on
the mail, quick freight,
trays of laboratory mice,
coffee and Danish for
Wherever we’re going
is Monday morning.
Wherever we’re coming from
is Mother’s lap.
On the cloud-pack above, strewn
as loosely as parsnip
or celery seeds, lie
the souls of the unborn:
my children’s children’s
children and their father.
We gather speed for the last run
and lift off into the weather.
“Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief” by Maxine Kumin from Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief. © Penguin, 1989.
From two years ago. I wondered, but I can still say it: Yes. What a ride it’s been….
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
~ e.e. cummings ~
by Ron Koertge
Poets can’t wait to bury their fathers
Mine wanted no part of that.
I thought he meant later,
I dialed his cell. The reception
“What am I supposed to tell Mom?”
“You’re the writer,” he replied.
Gather ’round children.
I’ve something to say,
And the chance may not come ’round again.
You may not believe me,
But someday you’ll see that
This life is a joke in the end.
Oh, don’t get me wrong,
I love it, and you, and
Wouldn’t know what I would change.
I just remember, when I was like you,
All the certainties and plans I had made.
But it’s what happened instead—
In the spaces and cracks,
Through sorrows and losses and gains—
That finally taught me, until I awoke
And the picture of me made me laugh.
I have traveled my path, for better or worse,
And looking back I must smile.
I was so serious, so certain, so utterly dumb,
I knew everything, so it seemed.
But life is nothing like what I foresaw,
The twists and the turns, the raw surprises and all.
I don’t mean to tell you
A plan that will work,
Because that is the joke, don’t you see?
There ain’t no such thing as a stone cold sure prize,
No guarantee, contract or spin.
It’s good to have goals, but remember one thing,
The pros learn to go with the flow.
We do what we do, we try as we must,
But the real point’s so easily missed,
The touch of a lover, the smell of the sea,
The taste of food cooked with love,
These things are the purpose, my foolish young fools,
The meaning, the spice, and the heart.
So have no regrets, let them go, and move on.
Let’s go now and soak up the dawn.
After all, my young friends, today is unique, and
It’s the only one like it we’ll see.
We all have themes we revisit over and over as writers. This is one of mine.
Republishing to add a painting by a friend.
I came from a place where men were reasonable and tall,
Where people knew me by who my grandfather was, and his,
Where farmers didn’t plant trees by their houses
Because you needed to see at a glance from any
Window how the corn was growing, the soybeans,
Whether the needed rainclouds were gathering in the west, yet;
Where cemeteries had outlived everyone who cared and the raspberry bushes
And groundhogs had taken over;
Where being a child meant living outdoors, year-’round.
Where you waved at a passing car, not because you knew who it was but
Just in case they knew your parents:
You didn’t want to hear about being rude at church on Sunday.
I came from a place where my nearest playmate was a cousin, a mile away;
Where going to hang out meant
Pumping hard on my bike, the old fat-tired-hand-me-down from my brother,
That had one gear: my legs…
And popping the tar bubbles on the road on hot summer days,
Smelling the fumes and feeling the sucking oil from Arabia;
Watching the big grasshoppers and flies whiz by,
the birds calling from the trees,
Watching my dog chase another rabbit. Sometimes she caught one,
But mostly not: she just loved the chase.
I came from a place infused with the spirit of the land,
of deep roots back five generations;
Where uncles and aunts would come for summer dinners after the milking,
And sit outside after dark in our yard talking;
My cousins and I would race through the darkness, making up games
Hiding in the bushes and the darkness on the edge of safety, screeching when found
And thrilling to the freedom to roam, to be ourselves, to be children;
In awe when the fields and grass would
Erupt in a billion fireflies, and we would put dozens in quart canning jars
And study the mating calls of yellow-green magical light.
I came from a place, a very common place, that had an order
Of season and harvest, planting and animals, birth, death, renewal;
Of learning about sex very early, and stewardship, and death;
Of late nights wading through snowdrifts to the barn in February’s lambing season,
Fields draped deeply asleep in white under hard, cold moonlight and wicked winds;
Of helping with the births—which only seemed to come in bitterest cold— cleaning newborn lambs off with burlap sacks
Holding them under heat lamps until their mothers licked them clean,
Made sure they found the teat and began to nurse, coats still steaming, tails wiggling.
I came from a place that has slowly died since then,
And I feel the ache of the loss of all that gave me my sense of who I was,
Where farms are now owned by Arab sheiks and giga-farms inhaled three or four of the ones I once knew;
Where the invisible glue that once made communities evaporated from
Neglect and globalism and meth and, now, heroin,
Where people stay inside and hide from themselves,
Surfing the web for porn, and never once see the
Fireflies rising up in the June nights, calling children to mystery but with fewer there to hear the answers.
On a brief vacation in Wyoming and Montana. This is the first dawn today, which reminded me of this poem.
by Rudyard Kipling
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' eastward to the sea, There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me; For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say: "Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!" Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay: Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay? On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin'-fishes play, An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay! 'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green, An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat -- jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen, An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot, An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot: Bloomin' idol made o'mud -- Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd -- Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud! On the road to Mandalay . . . When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow, She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-lo-lo!" With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin' my cheek We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak. Elephints a-pilin' teak In the sludgy, squdgy creek, Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak! On the road to Mandalay . . . But that's all shove be'ind me -- long ago an' fur away, An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay; An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells: "If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else." No! you won't 'eed nothin' else But them spicy garlic smells, An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells; On the road to Mandalay . . . I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones, An' the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones; Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand, An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand? Beefy face an' grubby 'and -- Law! wot do they understand? I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land! On the road to Mandalay . . . Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst, Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst; For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be -- By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea; On the road to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay, With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay! On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin'-fishes play, An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
This is not one of my normal posts, but I’m angry. And, I am tired of the placid hand-wringing that infects social media when something bad happens again, such as the recent terror attacks. It feels so pointless to wail “When will this end?”. So shallow. Self-indulgent. So.. immature.
Slowly, surely, inexorably, the reality of what we face after yet another attack is sinking in. All the “vigilance” and “toughness” in the world won’t stop this stuff completely. A guy in a truck can’t get bombs, so he grabs a truck and drives through a crowd. One guy with a grievance and an ideology that made him feel important for the first time in his miserable life. There’s no defense that will work against that all the time.
We Americans are soft and flabby, distracted by shiny things, grown lazy and stupid and corrupt. But as we see more of the terror attacks (and there will be more), we will start to remember we’re not descended from timid people.
I don’t want to have to think like this, but I don’t have the luxury any more. Living in a fuzzy bubble of fake-feel-good cat videos isn’t going to help. They were not perfect, our ancestors, God knows. But they were capable of a cold, resolute and implacable wrath when their backs were to the wall. It has happened before. After attacking Pearl Harbor and launching WWII in the Pacific, the Japanese admiral in charge said prophetically:
“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” –Isoroku Yamamoto
From a new blogger friend.
It always takes a man that never made much at anything to tell you how to run your business. Like these college professors without a whole pair of socks to his name, telling you how to make a million in 10 years, and a woman that couldn’t even get a husband can always tell you how to raise a family.
– William Faulkner, The Sound And The Fury
It is always a new perspective which gives us the edge. We take a look at everything and shape a set of meanings. Then, with that understanding in mind, we proceed.
Everything is personal. That is why we are unable to find the solution. If it is business, we start with reason. The reason is from our own understanding, therefore it’s personal. When another sort of it is needed, we can not find it. Most of us can not be the other…
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He asks me
“how many years?”
but it reminds me
of how I might
want to start a story,
“I cant remember,”
I tell him,
always does this
when I’m there
within his presence,
and to be honest,
it feels more like
where time stops
its just my
because, I really
to help it,
I want to just
scream at this world
who rushes, rushes,
around me now to
in such a hurry
when all I want to do
is have a conversation
about how it felt,
when time stopped
when he entered
Editors read for a living. They read all day long.
Some writing lands on their desk in excellent form, but a lot of it requires serious work with the red pen. Generally, editors are happy to help their writers to develop strong narrative arcs and believable characters.
The most annoying thing, though, is when writers fall at the most basic technical writing hurdles. Editors should not spend their time replacing adverbs with strong verbs or changing from passive to active voice. The writer can and should make these edits when they do their own first edit.
Editors have limited time to spend on your drafts, and that time is expensive. Taking a little time for self-editing can impress your editor and prove your writing skills.
Here are six common problems to fix before your editor gets out the red pen:
1. Replace adverbs with strong verbs.
When you write your first draft, it’s more important to get the story out than to get every word right. Wrestling with every word can disrupt your momentum.
So, if you need to write, “Mike drove quickly back to headquarters” while you’re pouring out a scene, then go for it. Your first edit is your chance to figure out how to make it stronger: “The tires screamed on Mike’s beat-up Honda as he raced back toward headquarters.”
In your first major edit, reassess any adverbs you find. Sometimes an adverb will sing, but more often than not, you will come up with a stronger way to get your idea across when you go back and look again.
2. Fix repetitive use of initial pronouns.
This used to make my professor crazy. As a master’s student, I had a terrible habit of starting nearly every sentence with a pronoun. He did this. She did that. It is correct. Boring.
Aim to have fewer than 30 percent of your sentences begin with a pronoun. Vary your sentence structure as much as you can; it keeps your readers’ attention and makes your writing more engaging.
3. Get rid of clichés.
Editors despise nothing more than unoriginality. Clichés, by definition, are unoriginal phrases. When writing fiction, try to come up with your own unique way to describe people or situations.
George Orwell said in his rules for writing, “Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”
Clichés are often the result of lack of imagination or laziness and, as Orwell says, are often “merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves.” Replace any clichés with your own unique phrasing to touch your reader’s imagination in a whole new way.
4. Declutter your writing by cutting redundancies.
Redundancies clutter writing by adding words but not meaning. Every word should be there for a reason. If it’s not needed, delete it.
Some redundancies are so common we don’t even notice them. How often have you heard someone talk about a “free gift”? As opposed to what the kind of gift you have to pay for? The word “free” is redundant in this case; cut it.
Or those organizations that undertake a “joint collaboration.” Unlike all those individual collaborations? The word “collaboration” means people working jointly. Cut the clutter so your editor doesn’t have to.
5. Eliminate your passive voice.
Overuse of passive voice can jump off the page to an editor as a mark of inexperience. Like adverbs and initial pronouns, sometimes you can use passive voice for a specific purpose and it will be perfect, but overuse weakens your writing.
Let’s look at an example:
Active voice: Dave kicked in the door. He hurdled the sofa, shouted a warning and then ransacked the kitchen.
Passive voice: The door was kicked in by Dave. The sofa was hurdled, a warning was shouted and then the kitchen was ransacked by him.
In the first example, Dave is the subject; in the second example the door, sofa, warning and kitchen are the subjects. The second example is not grammatically incorrect, but it doesn’t sound right. Your verbs should refer to the doer rather than to the thing having something done to it.
6. Get rid of sticky sentences.
Sticky sentences brim with glue words—the 200 or so most common words in the English language—including: is, as, the, that, etc.
Glue words are the empty spaces in your writing that your readers have to pass through to get to the meaning. Reducing the frequency of glue words increases the clarity of your writing, which makes your editor happy.
Here’s an example:
Original: Erica needed to get the key to the car, and so she asked for the contact number of the person who was in charge of that department. (Seventeen glue words in a 27-word sentence. Glue index: 63 percent.)
Edited: Erica contacted the department head to borrow the car key. (Three glue words in a 10-word sentence. Glue index: 30 percent.)
The first sentence wobbles around searching for the point, whereas the second sentence is concise and clear, using fewer than half the words. Learn to recognize sticky sentences and rewrite them before your editor sees them.
Give your editor a break. Let her concentrate on making your story more compelling and your characters more believable. Don’t bog her down by forcing her to correct errors that you could easily have caught. You need her too much for that.
What revisions do you strive to make before you send material to your editor?
This article first ran on Ragan.com in Dec. 2015.
Small disclaimer: I don’t feel bitter about my late mother, not like MacCarthy down below there. I had nothing to regret, or at least nothing worth remembering.
But we’re always told how glorious it would be to meet all those who’ve ‘gone on before.’
Or we’re told often enough….
Well, no. Hold up there for a second, mythical platitudes person. There are a few with whom I would not want to spend eternity, if I were to be honest. But then, maybe that would be the final chance to fix mistakes or make amends? A dilemma. The problem is we don’t know which it will be beforehand.
Still…. I’m waffling… like another Irishman, the (late) Spike Milligan, on this question (who must have gotten his wish, as he died in 2002):
‘I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens’
“If I thought that in death I would meet the people I’ve known in life I don’t know what I’d do. That would be the ultimate horror. The ultimate despair. If I had to meet my mother again and start all of that all over, only this time without the prospect of death to look forward to? Well. That would be the final nightmare. Kafka on wheels.”
I am my own worst enemy,
And my only companion.
Running images behind my eyes
Like a manic, runaway film reel.
Nothing complete, nothing but bits and confounding distractions,
Nothing but hints, rushing by, hurried and then gone,
A fucked up flurry of emotions,
Stabbing me with images, sadness, beauty and pain,
Courage and struggle and triumph.
“What is that”? “Who is she”? “What can it all mean?”
Constant frustration, knowing that I cannot
Capture a fraction of it all, standing in the gush of a stream
As salmon leap and surge all around in an orgy of
Need and creation.
And the clock keeps ticking.
The surprised wonder at some unknown beauty or distant galaxy, exploding,
Twisted sandstone canyons, galaxies found in
A young woman’s eyes.
One minute depressed, the next filled with unqualified love, desire, longing, certainty.
If I were to be able to just list this passing parade,
You might turn away, embarrassed or repulsed.
You might hear an echo of your own madnesses and flittering fantasy parade,
Drawn to it, curious to know that you aren’t the only one.
But am I?
“Children robbed of love will dwell in magic.
“Memory is a complicated thing, a relative of truth but not its twin.” — Barbara Kingsolver
If you haven’t had the tests, and want to see how false are the old ideas about race are, it is money well spent. You’ll find cousins in surprising places.
I was moved by this video today and thought I would share. It seems to me that the media, at least here in America, gives much time drawing lines that separate people and races. Some stories build egos and pride while others shame and give a sense of guilt. I love that this video shares the TRUTH.
We are ALL much more connected than we can even imagine.
It’s time to take off the blinders.
Enough of the hate and “I am better than you” attitude.
We are indeed all ONE.
A little reminiscing. Reposting this just because I love this song. It makes me feel good.
“My ex grew up on da Rue Royale, and she had a way of making the word ‘water’ sound SO good. More like ‘Wahrter.’ I love y’all’s town. And the world’s FINEST women come from New Orleans. You may quote me.”
Trying to recapture a feeling…but what do I know? I’m just a white, white boy with too many miles on the transmission who dropped in for a few days of pretend. Nah, I’m just being coo-yon. That place can get under your skin quick. I’ll be going back. Ça c’est bon
“Crescent City,” Written and performed by Lucinda Williams
Everybody’s had a few
Now they’re talking about who knows who
I’m going back to the Crescent City
Where everything’s still the same
This town has said what it has to say
Now I’m after that back highway
And the longest bridge I’ve ever crossed over Pontchartrain
‘Tu Le Ton Son Ton’… that’s what we say
We used to dance the night away
Me and my sister me and my brother
We used to walk down by the river
Mama lives in Mandeville
I can hardly wait until
I can hear my Zydeco and Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez
And take rides in open cars
My brother knows where the best bars are
Let’s see how these blues’ll do in the town where the good times stay
Tu Le Ton Son Ton that’s all we say
We used to dance the night away
Me and my sister me and my brother
We used to walk down by the river
*Cajun phrase. “Tu le ton son temps” (derived from the standard French, “Tous les temps en temps”) translated loosely is “every now and then”