Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is Heaven? What is Hell?


Here's a link to an article about Hemingway's dreams of hell and heaven.  It's based on a letter he wrote to Fitzgerald when he was 26.  

In that letter Hemingway said, “To me a heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town.”

I thought this description of heaven interesting.  It seemed to be a young man's dream.

A young man's dreams of heaven are  not an old man's dreams of heaven.  

For an old man heaven isn't sports or houses, it's the people he's loved and the people who have loved him.   

Hell is a world without them.

To read about Hemingway's letter, just click here: Hemingway on Heaven and Hell. 

 I almost forgot.  Here's an online anthology I put together of 37 recent poets writing about Heaven and Hell.  Just click here:  Scream online.

And to top it all off an old blog about my daughter Lillian's thoughts about Heaven when she was a child: Lillian's Heaven

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Poem: No Sweet Land

Friday Poem: This poem is one I wrote long ago, maybe in the 1980s, during a really dry summer in central Illinois. People used to joke that the dust clouds blowing overhead were the fields of Kansas and Missouri, turned to dust by the everlasting sun that summer. The poem was originally called No Sweet Land and later I had it published as Drought. 

No Sweet Land

Sarah says

see my little girl
she can read a book

make change for a twenty
tell you what star is what

she doesn't need
school love dolls

she knows winter is hard
beds are soft

grow on vines

she knows
what's useless

the soft spade
the easy turn

maybe in Mississippi

the soil is sweet
ready for asparagus

or juicy fruit
but not here

here the ground is clay
more clay than dirt

here, you see a dog
you know he's leaving


The photograph is by the great Dorothea Lange.  You can read about it at the Library of Congress site devoted to photos of the Great Depression.  Just click here: Migrant Mother.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Poems, Old Poems Published

I've been getting some poems and short fiction pieces published recently online, and I thought that I should probably post links here.  Just to keep track of things.  Some of the work is new and some of the work is old.  The old pieces are a part of a larger project I'm working on.  I want to put together a book of the poems I've written over the last 30 or so year that aren't about my parents and their experiences in the war.

So here are the links.  Just click on the titles of the works, and you should go right to them.  Let me know what you think.

Here are a couple new poems -- "Eye Contact with the Dead" and "The World After the Fall"-- that were published by 2River.   The poems are accompanied by a voice recording of me reading the poems.  Pretty neat.

My prose poem "The Last Day of Life on Earth" appeared in the Atticus Review earlier this year.

The poems "River City Blues" and "Trees in Late February (Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield, Georgia)" were published in Prime Number 37.  Following the poems there's a little Q & A about what I think about the blues.  Don't forget to read that.

"At 40 His Wife Begins to Write Poems" appeared in The Original Van Gogh's Ear Anthology.  Despite the pronoun in the title, the poem is about Linda and these weird dreams she used to have that inspired her to write some really good poems.

"My Mother's Optimism," a poem about my mom and her two cancers, was reprinted in the journal R.K.V.R.Y.  Accompanying it is an interview I did with the poet Anne Colwell.  Following the interview there are links to some other poems I've had published online in the last couple of years.

I had two prose poems in Postcard Shorts, an online journal devoted to prose poems that can fit onto the back of a postcard.  (Isn't that a neat idea!)  The poems are "My Mother's Funeral Service" and "Sometimes," a piece about a Christmas Eve in World War I.

Three older poems -- "My Mother Was 19," "Temptation in the Desert," and "Sometimes I Wish I Had a Theory of Poetry" -- were reprinted in Redux: A Literary Journal.

I was also interviewed recently by Rattle, a really fine journal.  I talk about how I started writing and the style I use in the poems and talking to my mother about my poems.

I've also got some poems coming out that I'll tell you about later.  One that I'm really excited about is called "6 Short Poems about the Monk Ikkyu" that will be in Buddhist Poetry Review.

And I almost forgot, Snake Nation Review just published my short story "Dinner in Wartime."  It's not available online but you can buy a copy at the Snake Nation site.  Just click here to go there.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mountain in West Virginia

Mountain in West Virginia

On the lone mountain
there is only sky above,
and rock below
my hands
and climbing feet

and far below is the forest

its shadows and soft trees
like clouds, like waves moving
with the hot wind from the valleys

rising up the hills with voices

of old lusts   old dreams
old terrors

but somewhere
in the forest the lichen
is green--the creek wet
and cold