I’m Supposed to Be a Poet

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Storm and corn field, Eastern Oregon

I’m supposed to be a poet, I said.
Well, be one, she replied. Be one.
Rip the flesh away, use a figurative spoon,
everyone has figurative spoons, use one,
and walk around in your ridiculous bones.
What sort of advice is that?
It’s my advice, she said.
What does it mean?
It means eat a lot of grapes.
Are you sure?

If you can’t glean meaning from a moldy bit of advice,
then yes, it means to eat grapes.
You can’t eat grapes if you’re dressed only in your bones.
Sure you can, she said.
You can mash those grapes against your ribs,
smear them on your cranium,
tuck them into your eye cavities
and pretend you have eyes.
I find I am out of whimsy these days.
I know, she said.
Maybe you should try being a poet.
I hear that helps.

 

Something I found tucked away in a file. 

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Death Rattle Cat Rant

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Death Rattle, Nampa, Idaho Oct 4-6, 2019

October. Halloween. We’re approaching my favorite holiday. My pumpkins were eaten alive by bugs. It’s cold here.

And I will be mingling with other humans this weekend. Dread is my main emotion, frankly. I have pretty much turned into cat lady practically sealed inside a dwelling with her stacks of TV Guides from the 80’s. Remember those???

You could read, ahead, what was gonna be on TV! Do the crossword puzzle. I don’t know, it’s been a while. Remember magazines? Ah! The only reason I actually go to a doctor is to sit and read Sunset or Reader’s Digest. What are they wearing in Aspen for the 2002 Fall season? Laughter really is the best medicine. So why am I here when I can cure whatever’s wrong with my heart rate by just laughing at it?? I’d save myself getting weighed, then having to wait for whatever pills big Pharma…Anyhoo!

Oh, cat lady attempted joke. Then distracted by TV Guide nostalgia. Then dad jokes about magazines in general. I am so woke. 

Dread in dealing with others.

I will have to do small talk, maybe. If I talk to anyone. I might not. But I am manning a booth. [Womanning?] I’m selling, I’m a salesperson for a few hours this Caturday.

I don’t have a cat, I should not make cat jokes.

I haven’t even seen any cats about, we used to have them all over. There used to be cats that lived with us. I remember a cat of ours that got trapped by the hammock. That was one mad cat once we got it cut out of the strings.

Another cat from way back adopted my mother at a sale barn where she was buying pigs. It brought my mother her kittens. People were glaring at her cause this calico kitty was VERY LOUD AND INSISTENT that my mother was its goddess and reason for being. Alice lived with us for many a year, the best mouser ever. She lived outside. I don’t remember if she got spayed, she probably did. Our animals did not go about having loads of babies when I was little or when I got older.

Spay and neuter. I worked in animal shelters. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR GODDAMN PETS. PSA over.

Well, as this post will get maybe just me ticking it as a ‘like’, thank you for reading.

I think I am actually ready for this coming event hawking my wares to the truly indifferent public. I looked up how to get there—it’s just a street over from where I was last year, so that’s good and nice and good. Same exit and everything. Score! My anxiety level will creep high and higher yet as the week winds down. But it will be over by next Monday and then the anticipation and dread of the Mountain Home reading.

I will be in Nampa, Idaho this weekend!!! Road trip! 

I will be shilling my books and some art, and then reading a flash fiction piece on Sunday about a naughty computer program called the Fish Whisperer. Naughty in the PG sense, not X. Sorry.

The Death Rattle Writer’s Festival starts this Friday, runs through Sunday. Okay. Bye!

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from Flickr. Downtown Nampa, Idaho. This is where I will be. Looks like a movie set, almost. Almost. 

 

 

Death Rattle Writer’s Festival

I will be attending the Death Rattle Writer’s Festival in Nampa, Idaho, this first weekend in October. I will be reading a flash fiction piece and manning a booth. I am attempting to SELL STUFF and this time, plan to offer some painted objects as well as my books. I plan to get the bank app on my phone as no one carries cash anymore. Except, um, me. And some business cards! I tell ya, I’m almost a competent adult this time around. 

So plan on my writing about that experience and how it goes.

If you happen to be in Western Idaho and wish to attend:

https://www.deathrattlewritersfest.org/

Nampa is next door to Boise, by the way. Idaho is right next to Oregon. [Some might not automatically know where Idaho is. I get fuzzy on the what states are what back east and geography in general. I am so very American.] 

Some pics of my wares and of course, my two novels are available for e-readers and your real life bookshelves. Cheers, all! And thanks for reading, as always. 

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Salt clay ornaments.
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Close up of salt clay star ornament. 
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It was windy when I was trying to take ‘artistic’ shots of a few of these. 
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I tried to keep them simple, elegant and sparkly. 
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Some painted rocks. 

 

 

Rejection’s Poster Gal

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Three dogs, one river. Miz Bridge, Jake in the middle and Molly the Chocolate Lab. Owyhee River.

Hello, various readers and passers stopping by on a snowy evening. Some Bob Frost to start us all on the road to hilarity and good cheer.

I’ve lost count of the rejections this week but it’s a LOT. I either need to write up a new batch of stories, poems and plays or keep sending out the same old crappola. Hoping this time. That time. This time over here.

That it will be different.

Except right now, truth is so much goddamn stranger than any fiction I could fart out or compose while munching French pastry and sipping Italian wine. While seated outside at a sunny cafe in Athens, Greece. I’d write longhand, of course. Using my own blood as ink.

Cause I’m a writer, dangnabbit! That’s a word you hear in old timey cowboy movies as they were not allowed to say ‘god damn it’.

Yes, the American political and all other scenes are just rife with WTF, then topped with Is That An Actual Tweet? followed by Don’t Read the Comments Section, ended with I Am So Done With Social Media, I’m Off To Raise Sunflowers To Help Third World Scarf Herders. Then the cycle starts all over again. With variations.

It’s the downward spiral. It’s the we’re imploding and prolly gonna take the entire world with us. It’s…it’s fucking hot right now.

So my thoughts are roughly—it’s hot. I should write something. About. Something. It’s hot.

Being poor, air conditioning is one of those unheard of, rich people inventions that exist in movies. Sort of kidding. I have a tiny fan. It helps. I go outside, throw water on my squash. I dig out weeds. I hear the hawks raising their kids down the road. Noisy bastards. Shut up, hawks! The corn hides the ditch bank road so the dogs have to listen real hard instead of watching to see who drives to and fro on what they obviously consider their bit of territory. Any engine gets them still and holding their breath. It’s rather creepy-cute.

What to write about. My hot take on politics? Nah, that’s just solid cuss words at this point. Eve Carlin, from hell, shouts out, hey, throw in some other words there. Feminist issues that affect us all? Golly, I’m either too much or too little here or…eh?

Oh!! Sidetrack. Here we go.

Saw the Spy Who Dumped Me. We have free Epix, whatever. So, the plot, eh. Some international whatever, been done a gazillion billion times. However, what’s fresh, you ask? Or haven’t asked at all though you’ve made it this far?

The relationship between the two best friends. Played by Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. It rang every true bell. How they support each other, are there for each other, their acceptance of each other’s faults yet the irritation over those faults…it’s all there. I especially found my bell rang over Kate’s character being called ‘too much’ by a lot of people, including the secret spy/boyfriend of Mila’s character. And Mila’s character siding with Kate’s character, then telling her she’s not too much. Ah!! I almost teared up.

As someone who’s been repeatedly called ‘too much’, which I ALWAYS took as—

there’s something very very wrong with me; nobody likes me unless I act quiet and not myself. I am a monster!—

That moment reminded me of what great friends I have.

I could write about my own experiences with people trying to whittle me down to acceptable size.

And never show that writing to anyone because it would be like ripping my face off and gluing a salted strip of razor blades in its place.

How I have the self-esteem of a dead rock and yes, have let other people define me because 99% of those people tell me I’m ‘too much’…!

And when I try to not be a monster, I find that I am silent and limp as moldy lettuce stuck to the gunk under the veggie drawer in the fridge. And that I am angry. Then I explode and people walk about me as if on the most delicate eggshells and…yeah, pattern.

Pattern! Yep. Pattern detected.

So I’ll stick to making up monsters or writing about sexual encounters between dinosaurs and women. Is that still a thing?? What about man’s inhumanity to man?

Oooh! I smell a Nobel outta that one!

I’ll call it Man Being Mean to Men. It will feature no women characters whatsoever. It will just be two white straight guys on a beach arguing over who’s the bigger victim of post-post modern society as the world literally burns. I will use a thesaurus a lot. I will describe their inner penis. A lot.

I suspect if I actually did write something like that, it would probably actually sell.

I’m not bitter.

Nope.

I am. I am so bitter I’m a walking moldy lemon at this point. Okay.

Rejections fast and furious this week. I’ll not buck up at all. I’ll stew in my own sweat until autumn shows up and it’s STILL FUCKING HOT GOD DAMN IT FUCK FUCK FUCK. But hey, the nights are cooler. I should move to the Artic. Except it’s on fire where they’re not drilling gleefully for oil. Where else is cold?

Minnesota? Maine? Montana? It would have to be within walking distance. How much can I stuff in a backpack? I’ll have to dig up my jars of pennies I buried for a rainy day. Some jars only have one or two pennies in them but hey, that first step, amirite? Amen! A cave, some berries.

I can be the Unibomber without all the baggage.

Holy moley, what a scattershot post. But I felt it important to not write yet another political scream that is only heard by some wide-eyed mice in a deserted choir room.

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I managed to capture an actual bumblebee sampling my lemon balm plant. Isn’t it gorgeous???

My book

Hi. My book, House on Clark Boulevard, is on sale over on Amazon until July 22. Go have a read, leave a review. And thanks if you do. 

Just got a bit of happy writing news so I thought I’d also post that MY BOOK IS ON SALE RIGHT NOW, GO GET IT FOR YOUR KINDLE OR E-READER AND HEY, LEAVE ME A REVIEW. 

Okay!

 

 

Also– try Oregon Gothic. What have you got to lose? Some sleep? Enjoy!

 

 

 

Activities with Rocks

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Early attempts at painting rocks

I wrote a scathing diatribe on the political hellscape that is ‘murica lately. Instead, to welcome yet another interminable month in this interminable slog of a life, I’ll write about rocks.  I’ll mention two novels that will hit sometime that could be any time, really. And something of mine that got included in a literary journal.

Rocks? Wha?

Military parade with a bloated price tag. Tanks. Money to pay for this culled from the national parks and veteran’s programs. With ticket prices, VIP seats! Sumbitch! Kids in cages. But hey, Nike pulled the Betsy Ross flag design and PEOPLE LOST THEIR MINDS CAUSE FREEDOM AND RIGHTS AND HONORING THE TROOPS OR…or…or…mm. Is that blood leaking from my ears? 

Yeah, I’m painting rocks. Badly. But it’s been a long time since I’ve painted anything. It seems a lot of people I know have turned to artsy crafty stuff to deal with…the drumbeats that celebrate the end of my country. With those supporting this screaming that we should get over it. With a ‘snowflake’ thrown in there.

I have friends also painting mandalas on rocks, leaving them places. Or writing some inspirational on a pebble, leaving it where others can find it and hopefully get inspired.

I do have a reason for why I’m slapping cheap paint on free rocks.

Last year, I went to the Death Rattle writer’s conference in Nampa, Idaho. I tried to sell some books. I was ill prepared. I didn’t have the fancy bank transaction app on my knock off Chinese-made phone. Where you can take people’s credit cards, run a transaction. Cause I didn’t even know that existed…I’m woefully behind the tech times. I’m also not up with how to sell your shit in these ultra-modern times. So. Learning experience.

I did get out of the house and mingle with others. Plus right there!

So I will attempt another attempt at a booth. You don’t have to pay a fee. Just apply for a spot. It’s held in a small alley by a bar. You sit there and try to smile and look inviting and friendly. Everyone seems to know everyone else. They’re all old friends or at least nodding acquaintances. But this time, for my wares, I intend to offer some art.

This takes place in October so I have the long hot summer to create. Or try to create something I can display without cringing.

I’ll also make some salt clay somethings. I was thinking pendants. One of a kind, small, tasteful, pretty. As I would love something like that and would scrape pennies out of the cup holders in the car to get one. I could also do some Christmas ornaments or even Halloween ornaments. I do write a lot of horror fiction. And it is my fave holiday.

If I focus on this rather pleasant problem, I do not focus on the crud coating my brain or the GODDAMN FUCKERY THAT IS CHEETOLINI and all that. At least, not entirely.

Also, I find other friends painting rocks or quilting. I noticed that Seth Andrews, who does the Thinking Atheist podcast, among other endeavors, got hooked on the Great British Baking Show. He’s been baking. I know tons of folks who love that show and then try to bake. Like, oh, me. Me, I’m one of those. 

 I am also hooked on baking competition shows.  I find baking so oddly fulfilling. I take raw ingredients, produce something roughly like what I saw. I’ve even managed to produce loaves of bread. I’ve moved from just schlupping the dough into a heated up giant cast iron pot into cutting the lump of dough in half, then placing that into bread pans.

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I made this!

I’ve graduated to seeing what I can shape the dough into. Can I braid it or…turn it into something actually pretty or French Bakery-esque?

Yeah, no, not yet. But I haven’t been baking bread for that long and it takes a lot of flour. And yeast. It seems like a lot of people need comfort and an outlet to deal with reality lately. That everyone seems to have picked up some sort of art hobby or baking or throwing away all their stuff in some sort of supercleanse or life enema. I wonder why.  I don’t. That was sarcasm. I don’t wonder why at all.

Rocks.

I feel like I’ve got an actual plan here, planning for a booth space I might not even get. But it’s a long-range plan. Longer than “make it through day.”

Ah, a flash fiction piece of mine, By Starlight By Starlight My Dear, is included in the latest edition of A Door is a Jar literary magazine. I had entered an earlier version of this same one that got soundly rejected, with actual criticism sent my way. I rewrote it. It got better. A Door is a Jar accepted it and there ya go.

Oh, so I think I have two books in editing right now. Alice in Oregonlandia, the not at all anticipated sequel to my dead on arrival House on Clark Boulevard. I kid, I kid! You’re supposed to Always Be Closing. That line from the Mamet play, Glengarry Glen Ross.

It takes up about ten years after the end of House. Alice gets a turn. The fall out of Nancy’s time in that house. Alice discovering a few truths about herself. How Art steps up as dad and caregiver.

Aftermath, which is my take on…wait for it…zombies. I know. I know. But!! It follows Hannah as she finds herself in a world run by zombies, after killing herself because she was trapped in a dead end space by zombies. Hannah tries to navigate her way through a vastly changed world, where zombies run everything and have all the political, economic and actual power. Set in Boise, Idaho, because, frankly, it’s an hour down the road from me. I had great fun writing this. Isn’t that the point of all this?

Thank you to everyone who bothers to read these. I appreciate it. I can be a tedious bore with my depression and endless string of failures. My tiny advances that give me a tiny bit of hope that maybe I should keep writing. That maybe today I can find whatever courage or gumption it takes to just keep plugging on.

Plug on, you dull bit of coal. My shout out to Pink Floyd…

 

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Available in A Door is a Jar, latest issue.
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Miz Bridge and Molly the Chocolate Lab.

 

 

Just Words

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The Carlisle School. Wikipedia. Pennsylvania

You cannot avoid the news. About the American concentration camps housing children in filth, abject starkness, no basic necessities. Like soap. Or tooth paste or a toothbrush. Or diapers for babies and toddlers. Or food beyond enough not to outright starve people.

The GOP frame this as it’s the fault of the Democrats for not funding so and so. That those kids can leave any time. Just walk out. Past armed guards and…go off into the sunset, I guess. That Obama did it first so the GOP and Trump are helpless not to do that as well. The separation of families, the torturing of children, the secrecy and lies. Except it was Jeff Sessions, last year, who put this policy into place.

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From Zazzle

But what do facts matter when brown people can finally be treated as cockroaches again? Or more than usual.

We hear pundits and amateur alike point out how dangerous the language used is. That it hearkens back to Nazi Germany, to Rwanda, to Cambodia, to places where mass exterminations took place.

Dehumanizing others to make it okay to kill them in heart-stopping numbers. Thousands. Hundred thousands. Millions. Rats. Cockroaches. Scum. Rapists. Diseased. They all carry diseases. They’re all gang members and sex traffickers. So it’s good that we’re taking those kids away. Who are all trained to come here to infiltrate us anyway.

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from the Western Rifle Shooters Association

I did read where the Trump Concentration Camps are to be put under the auspices of the military. Which means no oversight. No monitoring. Nobody allowed in who is not authorized. Rather like Guantanamo Bay.

That those kids are being forcibly adopted out, even as parents seek to get reunited with them. Rather like America did with Native American children. Like the Australians did with Aboriginal children. Like Canada did with…There seems to be a pattern here.

The government of the US stepped in, on those reservations. They placed children into boarding schools, cut off their hair, forced them to speak English only, taught them to be farmers or some trade thought suitable to be useful to society. They were not allowed to visit their families. They were not allowed to go home, back to the place they had to call home instead of where their people had been for centuries. As those lands were now plowed under or buried beneath emerging cities. All of this right after the wrenching years of the American Civil War. Once again, the near success of stripping identity and pride away from people deemed less than or not quite human or not human at all.

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Actual poster from 1870’s-80’s

You hear that Christians built America. You look under that even a little, you see Chinese people laying the tracks for the railroads that would connect the East coast to the West coast. NYC to Frisco. Except you don’t call it Frisco. Those that live there have told me that. But the Chinese were brought over to build the paths for the steel horses, and to fill the brothels and to wash the clothes and cook the food. To be laborers of all kinds, in every way. Families back in China sold their children during that time period, or sold themselves or got on boats heading to the brash new country as there was a horrific drought at that time.

Rather like the Irish and the Great Potato Famine era.

Rather like the American-helped drug wars happening in other parts of the Americas in current time.

Droughts, famines, man-made horrors that seemingly have no end, can and do send people to escape them, outlive them. Refugees. Outcasts. Seekers. They all have individual names. They are all humans. Same as I am.

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This is from a slideshow. I did not put this together. Found it during a search.

There is a massacre of Chinese gold miners in my own back forty, so to speak. In Hells Canyon, the great rift in Northeast Oregon, very western Idaho. A group of about thirty people were slaughtered. They had set up a mining claim on the Snake River, the river that gouged the canyon out of the rocks same as the Colorado did the Grand Canyon. They had some success.

There’s gold yet in Eastern Oregon mountains, streams, lakes and rivers. You can stop and pan for gold alongside the freeway if you like. At least you used to. I haven’t driven up there for a while, it might be gone.

White men crept up on this peaceful group. Killed them, wounded them, took their gold. Some of the men were founders of Joseph, Oregon. Which is named for a Nez Perce leader who very nearly won against the US cavalry. If you don’t know that story, you should look it up. It will break whatever’s left of your heart. But he got a town named for him, set against the truly lovely Wallowa Lake. You can take a paddleboat out on it. You can walk around and look at the art and statues. You can attend Chief Joseph Days. In honor of a defeated cockroach.

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Memorial at Deep Creek honoring those who were murdered.  From the Oregon Encyclopedia

The men who killed the Chinese were not punished. There was a sort of trial. No convictions. Everyone knew they had done this but the Chinese were regarded as a necessary evil, a blight. They were not granted the right to seek citizenship. Their customs, language and way of life were considered disposable or laughable. Bodies of those that had died had to be buried in China or the spirits of the dead could not find rest.

The laws regarding those from Asia said that Asians were not welcome. They had been brought here as children or…what does it matter. I guess. It’s old history. It has no bearing on anything today.

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It seems all I have left is a ghostly wisp of sarcasm. A faint wraith with no power left to startle or actually haunt. I cannot even muster up a good sneer or that dry tone needed to deliver the deft blows of a well-placed absurdity into the squawkings about ‘illegals and gang bangers here to ruin ‘murica’.

I am not surprised that Christians justify what is going on now at the border and elsewhere with those whose skin marks them as targets. That seething hatred to dominate and oppress seems built into the foundations of that religion. It has never been about love. It’s been about domination, conquest and erasing all opponents as ruthlessly as possible. I might be exaggerating. I don’t think I am. 

It’s my religion as well. At least it was. Brought up a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a Protestant. Martin Luther started an actual holy war with the Catholic Church back in 1495 or so. I was baptized. I was confirmed as a member of the congregation. My grandparents were staunch Lutherans.

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I cannot see either of them going along with what’s going on now. Their two sons do. My dad. My uncle. They are both Fox junkies; they shoot up on Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson instead of heroin. They cry fake news in echo of their lord and savior. They go off into that haze, that high, with a blissful smile.

But I cannot see my grandparents, who were alive for WWII, condoning this. I might be coloring them with rosy lights here but I honestly do not think my church-going grandparents who both spoke other languages and were one generation or so from being migrants themselves, would clap and cheer at children in concentration camps.

However, there were Japanese folks in America who were stripped of their rights and everything else, herded into interment camps. There’s even one nearby.

Whatever faith I might have had in God has leaked away like dirty water into the sand. Evaporated. I think today I am finally admitting I no longer believe. It’s been a long time coming, as the song goes. I look at my country. I listen to the people around me grumbling about illegals. About how Trump is trying to save us and the lefties won’t get in line to let that happen.

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1975, Camp Pendleton. Refugees known as the Vietnam Boat People. LA Times. 

My despair is profound, and awful.

There are children being kept in inhumane conditions in overcrowded cages. We are arguing over what to name such a thing. We are arguing that it’s just a matter of Democrats not willing to give ICE some funding or send funds toward the wall. That there’s a crisis at the border and the Democrats want a flood of…

Everything is broken. Another song title from Dylan. But it’s apt here. Never again. Just words after all.

Just words.

 

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