Feeding the Masses
by O.P.W. Fredericks
Little red wagon in tow, crazy Mabel
seeks the safety of shadows.
Teetering on a four high stack of pallets
under the stark white of security lights,
Mabel reaches into the dumpster,
finds a half good bag of pumpernickel,
a lump of bologna, a dented can of yams,
and wiggles a crushed box of Cheerios
from beneath the two rats she greets
as they feast on two spotted brown bananas.
Having served their purpose, pallets
now snap between her gnarled hands,
kindling for the fire.
At the foot of the Grocery’s steel steps
beneath a locked steel door,
a brown bag reads, Happy Easter, Mabel
atop the milk crates marked Expired.
She pulls a jug with yesterday’s date
and does the math; twenty plates at least
from the bagged canned ham.
The spired steeple now in sight, Mabel
climbs a hill and makes her way home.
She bows her head in passing,
mumbles a few words to a prayer
she can’t quite remember,
as she turns the corner. Muffled mews
and yips greet their host as squeaky wheels
cross the threshold.
A pitted pot simmers in the shadows
of St. Francis. Mabel portions her sunrise
supper for the masses on scavenged
pie plates. Finger tips pass from lips
towards the rising steeple
and Mabel thanks the Lord
for their bounty.
Happy Easter to all and please remember those less fortunate and those who care for animals in the name of St. Francis of Assisi.
Dr Charles, his nom de plume, is sponsoring a poetry contest (link below).
From Dr Charles:
“An award will be given to the writer who submits for consideration the most outstanding poem within the realm of health, science, or medicine.
The contest starts today and ends September 31st, 2011. The winners will be chosen shortly thereafter by an elite group of 8 judges (other doctors, friends with literary training, and select bloggers).
The contest is open to everyone.
1st prize – the prestigious, and still pretentiously named, 2011 Charles Prize for Poetry, $500.00, and a homegrown cherry tomato from my garden.
Runner Up – $100.00, and lots of admiration.
Honorable Mention – a commemorative t-shirt, which will probably be funkier than you can imagine.
Poems should be related to experiencing, practicing, or reflecting upon a medical, scientific, or health-related matter.
Last year’s contest was a great success, with over 125 poems submitted for consideration. I received requests from readers to “publish” all the poems as we went along, and so as an improvement this year I’ve established a separate blog (charlesprize.blogspot.com) to share all these great poems. Some highlights will also be posted here on theexaminingroom.com.
So have fun, find inspiration, and send your entry to:
drcharles.examining *at* gmail.com
Your poem must have a theme of medicine, science, or health.
You may submit up to 2 poems.
You can submit poems that have been published elsewhere, if you’ve retained the rights.
You can write under your own name, a pen name, or anonymous.
After you enter a poem I will ask your permission to repost it on the blog. You can say yes or no, and this will not affect your chances in any way. You can also ask me to take down a poem at any time and I will. I assert no exclusive rights to the poem whatsoever.
I know there are some extraordinary words waiting to be written, so best of luck, and let the contest begin.”
2011 Charles Prize for Poetry Contest
Zachary Robert Warnock, son to my dear friend Larina and her husband Mark, and brother to Deanna, Shyla, and Kurtis, left his life with us this past June 18.
I struggled for the words to say to Larina as she told me that morning on the phone that Zachary had died, but I failed miserably. What words can one speak to someone who has lost her child, over the phone, nearly 3,000 miles away? Simply, there are none.
As the days passed, I remembered the many phone calls Larina and I shared over the past four years. I remembered Daniel’s and my brief, several-hour meeting with Larina in Philadelphia last summer when we met her in person for the first time. We walked the isles of the Farmer’s Market, sipped coffee outside a Starbuck’s, and sat together over dinner in her hotel’s restaurant, talking about everything and nothing in particular. We talked about Zack, and Deanna, and Shyla, and Kurtis, and Mark, like friends do; we talked about our families. In just about every conversation we’ve had, Zack was a part of the conversation, if not the main topic. Over the phone, often I would hear Zack’s soft giggles in the background, and I would comment to Larina how happy he sounded.
During the past four years, Larina has shared many of her writings, both poetry and prose, about Zachary with me, and we published several of her pieces in Touch: The Journal of Healing: “A Little Perspective,” “Hospital Hush,” “The Light at the End,” “They Said,” and “Autumn 2003“.
I have many more of the works she sent to me, either for critique or just to share, saved on my computer and on paper.
For many people who didn’t know Zack and his family, I can imagine they would have found his life to be one that would be dreaded, a life filled with difficulties, hardship, and turmoil because of his disability, but then they wouldn’t have know the Warnocks. I don’t know many families who I could say are as dedicated to each other as the Warnocks, though I know they aren’t unique, as far a families go who have one or more members with disabilities, but in these families, like the Warnocks, who I do know, they are stronger than most because of that dedication.
Above all that Zack faced, his life was filled with love. He not only received it, but he gave it through his smiles, his twinkling eyes, and his soft giggles. Larina often spoke and wrote about these qualities in him so, though I never met him, I felt as if I knew him. After many days of trying to write something about him for his family and failing, I was directed to his obituary, written by Larina, in their local paper from a link on a website the day before his memorial service. In it, I came across the phrase “shades of joy,” and all became clear to me. These three little words are a perfect characterization of Zack’s personality, and I began to write what turned into a poem with that title.
It is a simple poem, purposely written in the tone of a child’s nursery rhyme to honor the innocence of childhood, though the tempo of the poem is meant to be read much slower with longer pauses at the commas and line breaks for emphasis, with reverence and tenderness. It is one of the few poems I’ve written in just a few hours that I’ve ever allowed anyone to see before it has gone through many, many revisions over the course of days or weeks, or longer, and the editor and critic in me sees many places where it would benefit from more work, but it is as it is, and it will remain unchanged from how it was when I sent it to Larina.
I was honored to learn that the minister who presided over Zack’s memorial service opened the sharing segment of it with the poem. Larina wrote to tell me that he did the poem great justice and that he seemed to know exactly how I would have read it.
For me, though not mentioned in my little poem, Zack is always present in my mind whenever I see box elder bugs because they remind me of the twinkle in his eyes, though I’ve only ever seen it in photos, and I will always remain grateful to these little creatures for their gift of a memory. If you read “A Little Perspective,” you’ll understand why.
Shades of Joy
by O.P.W. Fredericks
His colors rose October 6th,
in gleeful shades of joy;
he carried them each day he lived,
this gentle, quiet boy.
Among the instruments of care,
surrounding his abode
began the crafted mirth of one
in life, his bliss, it flowed.
And though he fought for every breath
each one he took would count
to bring great strength to those he loved,
they knew he would surmount.
To overcome adversity
encountered by this child,
he bore each pain with spunk and grit
and with it all, he smiled.
In times of strife and heartache too,
his giggles could be heard
from deep within his soul they rose
as lofty as a bird;
and though his time with us was brief
he made each moment last,
and through the many friends he made
his family grew vast.
So even though our memories fade
he gave to us a gift
his sparkling eyes, his laughter too,
he made our spirits lift.
We carry in our hearts each day
this gentle, quiet boy
to hold him close, his giggles, soft,
his gleeful shades of joy.
Our winners for The Big Poetry Giveaway! 2011!
Tawnysha Greene, from the blog, On Writing, will receive How to photograph the heart by Christine Klocek-Lim, Strong Voices: a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing 2010, and Uncommon Refrains by Gregory W. Randall.
Sherry Chandler, from the blog, Weaving a New Eden, will receive Spiraling into Control by Alarie Tennille, Strong Voices: a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing 2010, and Cutting It by Tina Hacker.
Janeen Pergrin Rastall, from the blog, Lessons from the Lakeshore, will receive One Tree Bridge by Dennis Greene, Strong Voices: a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing 2011, and Guitar Without Strings by Larina Warnock.
Donna Vorreyer, from the blog, Put Words Together, will receive A Transit of Venus by Ed Bennett, Strong Voices: a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing 2011, and Preparing to Leave by Stephen Bunch (currently in production).
I wrote down numbers on pieces of paper to coincide with the number of entrants we had in our contest then I drew 4 of those numbers from a bowl. The contest winners were the drawn numbers in the order in which the first of their posts were made.
The Big Poetry Giveaway! 2011 Image
THE CONTEST CLOSED ON APRIL 30, 2011.
Note to The Big Poetry Giveaway! 2011 participants:
Because of the tremendous amount of SPAM posts this blog receives, in order for you to participate in the contest, you must include your name, email address, and website or blog in the required fields above your comment post. You cannot post a comment without these identifiers.
I was alerted to a great effort to promote poetry through the creation of a contest by my good friend and fellow poet, Christine Klocek-Lim who is the editor of Autumn Sky Poetry. It’s called The Big Poetry Giveaway! 2011, and it was started by Kelli Russell Agodon in 2010. You can read about Christine’s participation in her blog post.
Here’s what Kelli wrote about the contest:
The goal is to share our favorite poets with others as well as to visit different blogs and see who others are reading. There is also a benefit for those who participate as it will bring people to your blog and share your work and/or the work of a favorite poet with them.
Daniel and I discussed the contest, and we are enthusiastic about participating because we believe it speaks with great clarity to the missions of both our journal, Touch: The Journal of Healing, and our press, The Lives You Touch Publications. Tremendous comfort and healing can come from the reading of poetry. This is why we publish both our journals and chapbooks.
Here’s an overview of the contest and how our press is going to participate:
After extensive discussion, we have decided that we’re going to give away four prize groups.
Each prize group will consist of three books of poetry; two of these books of poetry will come from the chapbooks we have published by the closing date of the contest and one of these books of poetry will be a copy of Strong Voices - A Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing, two copies of which will come from our 2010 issue and two copies will come from our 2011 issue.
Below you will find an image of the poetry books included in each prize group with links to them or a few words about them.
If you want to participate in our sponsorship of this contest, you must leave a comment by clicking the link below this post.
Be sure to include your name, your email address, and a link back to your own blog in the required fields above your comment post so that we can contact you.
You cannot post a comment without these identifiers.
If we can’t contact you, we can’t send you your poetry books if you win.
Please do not include your email addresses in the comments section when you post.
Personally, I think it’s crazy to post a personal email address in plain view anywhere on the internet.
Remember SPAMMERS can easily get ahold of this information!
Please note all comments are screened for SPAM and must be approved before they will appear on this blog.
Here are the prizes:
How to photograph the heart ~ Strong Voices: a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing 2010 ~ Uncommon Refrains
How to photograph the heart by Christine Klocek-Lim.
Uncommon Refrains by Gregory W. Randall.
Strong Voices - a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing - 2010:
Each of the pieces in this collection has brought to light a unique voice, and each voice has spoken to a different aspect of touch and of healing. From birth to death, loss to acceptance, and from looking within to searching beyond ourselves; through these works, we have traveled many paths. So how did we choose? The answer began with the choice of the name: Strong Voices.
Strong Voices comes from the authors and poets whose works were represented most often, were showcased as the Editor’s Choice, or followed our Publication Selection Criteria the closest. From the first and second of these groups, you will find two representations of these authors’ works. From the last, we found these authors’ works identified perfectly or near perfectly with what we envisioned when we first conceived Touch: The Journal of Healing, even if they were published only once over the past year. From those in this group you will find one representation of the author’s work. Once the selection was narrowed down to these groups, we chose pieces from each author or poet we believed reflected the unique style we’ve come to appreciate in their work.
Spiraling into Control ~ Strong Voices: a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing 2010 ~ Cutting It
Spiraling into Control by Alarie Tennille.
Cutting It by Tina Hacker.
Strong Voices - a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing - 2010. (see above)
One Tree Bridge ~ Strong Voices: a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing 2011 ~ Guitar Without Strings
One Tree Bridge by Dennis Greene.
Guitar Without Strings by Larina Warnock.
Strong Voices - a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing - 2011. (In production)
A Transit of Venus ~ Strong Voices: a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing 2011 ~ Preparing to Leave
A Transit of Venus by Ed Bennett.
Preparing to Leave by Stephen Bunch is forthcoming.
Strong Voices - a Year of Touch: The Journal of Healing - 2011. (In production)
Here’s some information About me.
BIG POETRY GIVEAWAY! ~ Participating Blogs:
The list will be updated every few days.
Book of Kells: Kelli Russell Agodon
Jessie Carty Blog: Jessie Carty
November Sky Poetry: Christine Klocek-Lim
Being Poetry: Erin Hollowell
WordGathering: Margo Roby
Danka’s World: Danica Grunert
Utopian Fragments: Guy Traiber
Ribbons of Intonation: Jim K
Wait! I Have a Blog?!: Kathleen Kirk
Latoyalikestowrite: LaToya Jordan
Modern Confessional: Collin Kelley
One Poet’s Notes: Edward Byrne
Tribe of Mad Orphans: Ren Powell
Ophelia Unraveling: Carol Berg
The Scrapper Poet: Karen J. Weyant
The Alchemist’s Kitchen: Susan Rich
Matthew Thornburn Blog: Matthew Thornburn
Naming Constellations: Joseph Harker
Drowning the Field: Katie Cappello
Who are “They” & Other Writing Advice: Laura Moe
Red Lion Square: Amy Watkins
Poet 2.0: Iris Jamahl Dunkle
Art Happens 365: Margaret Bednar
Alphabet Soup: Jama Rattigan
The Lizard Meanders: Luisa Igloria
Fredericks’ Reflections: O.P.W. Fredericks
One Man’s Trash: Justin Evans
Joe’s Jacket: Stephen Mills
Myself the only Kangaroo Among the Beauty: Sandy Longhorn
Risa’s Pieces: Risa Denenberg
Ghosts in Parentheses: Barry Napier
Notes fro the Gefilter Review: Jehanne Dubrow
A View from the Potholes: Marie Gauthier
Habit of Poetry: Rita Mae Reese
Desire Seven Small Delicious Fruit: Cati Porter
The Graphic Haibuneer: Cindy Bell
Dear Outer Space: Laura E. Davis
Lorna Dee Cervantes Blog: Lorna Dee Cervantes
Jeannine Blogs: Jeannine Hall Gailey
Kristin Berkey-Abbott Blog: Kristin Berkey-Abbott
Writing With Celia: Celia Lisset Alvarez
Weaving a New Eden: Sherry Chandler
Rachel Dacus: Rocket Kids
Poemeleon: Cati Porter
Brian Spears Blog: Brian Spears
On Writing: Tawnysha Greene
32 Poems: Deborah Ager
Put Words Together. Make Meaning.: DJ Vorreyer
Shiva’s Arms: Cheryl Snell
Proof of Blog: Luke Johnson
The Monster’s Flashlight: Nancy Lili
Frontal Junkyard: Marie-Elizabeth Mali
Feather’s From the Muse’s Wings: Odilia Galván Rodríguez
Pokey Mama: Amy Dryansky
One Hundred Forks: Tess Duncan
Universe of Sound: Mary Virginia Cooley
The Perpetual Bird: Joseph Hutchinson
Battered Hive: Shawnte Orion
Natural Parents Network: Lauren Wayne
Elizabeth Austen Blog: Elizabeth Austen
Life is a Patchwork Quilt: Valerie
Selvage: Linda Dove
Hobo Mama: Lauren Wayne
I don’t remember why I followed a link to Whale Sound yesterday morning, the internet site by Nic Sebastian, and I’ll leave you to explore it for yourself, but I want to share this site with everyone who reads this note.
I don’t know Nic personally, and I do not have any poems of my own on her site (I’ve had so little of my work published that I’m sure it’s been lost to the black hole of the internet), so I have no professional connection to her whatsoever.
I’d like to ask you all to take a moment and visit her web site even if it’s to listen to her read just one poem, I don’t care which poem, just listen to one. Her voice haunts me. There is a lyrical, lilting quality to her softened, British accented voice that adds a degree of reverence and sophistication to each word she reads. She feels the poems she reads, and it’s obvious she believes in them.
If you take a moment to listen, you’ll feel them too.
Our first poet published by The Lives You Touch Publications, Christine Klocek-Lim has an interview with Didi Menendez on WordPress. The reason I wanted to publish Christine’s work was because she is one of the greatest contemporary poets I have ever encountered. I can only hope that the coming years will bring her the recognition and accolades she and her work so justly deserve. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and visit the WordPress site to read her interview. It will me time well spent.
Speaking personally for a moment, I must confess that over the course of the past three years she has also become a trusted and close personal friend in addition to a revered poet and editor to whom I have turned on occasion for advice on poetry, editing, publishing, and life. There is no greater proof of our friendship than the kindness and support she extended to me during the winter and spring of 2008 when my world was turned upside down and ripped apart by forces beyond my control. For days, weeks, and months on end, she was always there to offer an ear or supportive words that helped me to know I was not alone. It was during this time that I realized the poetry she writes comes from the core of her being. If you have read any of Christine’s work, then you know the soul of the poet she has become.
I can only imagine where her journey will lead her, and I can only hope that in the coming years the world will learn to trust her words as I have to learn the importance of relationships and to cherish those we have in our lives.
How to photograph the heart by Christine Klocek-Lim is now in print and available for purchase from The Lives You Touch Publications.
Please visit the chapbook web page for information on ordering.
O.P.W. Fredericks, Editor
The Lives You Touch Publications
For me, a successful poem must tell a story so convincingly that I am transported to within its borders to feel, taste, and experience the events portrayed, as much as I must come to know the characters through the skill of the poet’s pen. Such were my travels into the world of four generations of a matriarchal bloodline created by Rachel Mallino.
The stories reflected in the 27 poems of Inside Bone There’s Always MARROW from Maverick Duck Press, May 2009, could have devolved into a journey of self pity on a road to hell and remained there in lesser hands, but this poet explores a reality of a tormented mother who creates a life of neglect and abuse for her child with absolute clarity as much as she reveals a child who possesses an inner strength of character that states, simply, “I choose to live.” As the child moves through adolescence into adulthood, ultimately to become a mother herself, her journey is filled with tumultuous encounters as she attempts to protect her progeny and her life by encasing her own past in self analysis and restraint.
Mallino explores each moment with a keen eye and brutal honesty, yet she treats each topic and subject with respect while she directly explores the issues that traverse her poetry. She takes us to where it all began: “my body: cell, blood, bone / all fortified in my mother’s / brackish womb” (1-3), and to an ultimate understanding: “when a mother isn’t a mother / at all, but a small vessel unfit to carry / even her own posture” (12-14) in the poem that titles her collection.
In “An Explanation of the Tales We Tell,” she reflects on a child’s attempt to protect her grandmother: “O, to make it all bearable: / the wild pack of dogs that chewed / my grandmother’s face to bits; / the icy stare I learned at seven / for anyone who disclaimed / the animal attack / and called it cancer instead” (1-7), the child’s attempt to comprehend: “… the sound / of the blender grinding like / teeth against bone: teeth / once rooted inside her gums” (20-23), and the child’s fantasies and dreams of a visit from the tooth fairy.
Mallino pulls no punches in “An Open Poem To god,” as she reveals the loss of childhood innocence: “Dear god, there has always been this / marrow inside of bone. Those retarded / cells that drive nonage to adultery …” (1-3), “It all boils down to sex: mother’s / bony knees beneath / motel sheets as I stared off / into the bends / of brush strokes …” (10-14), “The anonymity / of those painters, like my mother’s lovers, / became famous to me.” (15-17). Nor can one mistake the demotion of the deity.
A shift in vision occurs as the narrator reflects on motherhood and her own child at book center: “These are the shapes of her world” (1), “Everything now is either straight or round. / Even her heart, its triangle base and the top / round like buttocks” (4-6), “her legs - the shape of a wishbone” (12), in “How My Daughter Draws.”
In her closing poem, “Here’s How It Must Have Been,” dedicated to Anne Sexton, Mallino weaves a skilled tapestry of all the works that precede it, tying together images that parallel the lives of both poets: ” … I imagine, at birth, Anne wailed / to be still-born, maddened by the length / of her mother’s umbilical cord - the possibilities” (3-5), “… No wonder / she kept going back, back to the institution where / dinner bells rang at the nurses hand …” (9-11), “back to distant conversations beneath / the long silence of lithium, back to the steel headboard - / her mother’s hipbone” (14-16).
Mallino’s poetry is a literary dissection into the frailty of humanity as it cuts to the marrow of human relationships with raw revelations, and lays our skeletal core exposed for all to see as we struggle for Grace. No poetry could be as antithetic to the work I publish and try to write myself, yet I find myself drawn to it with a sense of compassion, and a sense of respect and admiration for the strength of its author. I am left completely drained and in awe of how, in the hands of a master, poetry can be the window into one’s soul.
O.P.W. Fredericks, Editor
Touch: The Journal of Healing
The Lives You Touch Publications
In September, I announced the launch of our print publication business,
The Lives You Touch Publications.
Today I’m pleased to announce our first poetry chapbook
How to photograph the heart penned by Christine Klocek-Lim.
When we discover a poet who touches us, we learn to appreciate the skill with which their poetry is crafted, and we marvel at their ability to transport us into the worlds they create.
Appreciation comes both in our comprehension and in our perception of the world around us. We process words cognitively and are also affected by them aesthetically. When I read poetry, it is the aesthetic hemisphere of my brain that takes the lead. It recognizes the beauty of a poem long before the cognitive comprehends why. This is the case whenever I read the poetry of Christine Klocek-Lim. Over the course of the past few years, I have come to appreciate not only her skill as a poet, but also the care with which she treats the subjects of her poetry. She often writes of personal and sensitive issues, of moments filled with struggle and heartache, and of loss; yet in each instance, regardless of the weight, each subject is treated with respect and reverence, and the strength of each encounter is revealed.
Christine Klocek-Lim was born in the coal-mining region of northeastern Pennsylvania. She now resides in southeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. She has worked as an editor, online poetry forum administrator, technical writer, copy editor, proofreader, and documentation specialist.
Christine Klocek-Lim received the 2009 Ellen La Forge Memorial Prize in poetry and was a finalist in Nimrod’s 2006 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Her chapbook, The book of small treasures, will be published in December 2009 by Seven Kitchens Press. Her poems have appeared in Nimrod, OCHO, The Pedestal Magazine, Terrain.org, the anthology Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory and elsewhere. She is editor of Autumn Sky Poetry, serves on the Board of Directors for The Externalist—A Journal of Perspectives, and her website is November Sky Poetry.
The chapbook is now available for pre-publication ordering on our website chapbook page.
After we checked in to our hotel this afternoon, we were very hungry so we went out for lunch. The first place we found that we could both agree on - and our hunger was getting the better of us - was a Chinese restaurant called Hong Kong House at 1330 Pacific Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ.
Our first clues of the Emperor’s impending wrath should have been the cracked glass door we walked through to enter the restaurant, the lack of patrons in the restaurant, and the cracked glass table tops we passed as we searched for a “hostess.” Our next clue should have been the brown, sticky, greasy residue on the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle on our table, and I should have suspected when I pulled my chair into the table as I sat down only to come up with a gooey brown slime on my hand, and also when I spooned through my serving of Won Ton soup and discovered one of the won tons looked as if it had been re-served from a left over WonTon from the day before that had sat out on a counter over night so that once side become dried, cracked, discolored, and mealy.
Our final clue of our time to come was when we had both eaten less than half of our entrees, and almost simultaneously, pushed our plates away. Even our remaining hunger was not enough to entice us to continue with the meal. By the way, the first ingredient listed on the menu for my entree was shrimp. There were no shrimp in my entree. I’ll give the sullen, dragging her feet waitress credit though, she did reduce our bill by a few dollars when I told her about the absence of shrimp.
After lunch, our stomachs laden with agita, we stopped back to the hotel to change and headed to the beach. When we reached the boardwalk I looked in a few shops for a pair of disposable beach shoes so as not to ruin my dockers. I realized that as we moved from one shop to the next, the farther we moved down the boardwalk and away from the entrance to the beach, the lower the prices became in the shops for the exact same items. I found a pair of plastic sandals for $6.99 and when I went to pay, the shopkeeper charged me $5.00. Post season prices are great!
We walked down to the beach and found a spot well above the waterline where put down our blanket. Daniel headed right for the water, and I walked through the remnants of the waves as they reached their limit on the beach hunting for shells.
Ever since I watched the movie “Jaws” in Ocean City, NJ in 1975 when I was in my mid-teens, I’ve gone swimming in the ocean only once. I would have landed in the lap of the man sitting behind me in the theater as I back-peddled out of my seat when the shark was eating Robert Shaw, had he not thrown his hands up to stop me and yelled, “Whoa Buddy!” The summer between 1975 and now that I did go swimming in the ocean was just before syringes and medical debris washed up on the Jersey Shore. Between the intermittent bacterial count scares over the past dozen years, Stephen Speilberg and Peter Benchley’s creation, and the syringes, I haven’t been in Atlantic water since.
Daniel body surfed for nearly 2 hours while I picked through broken shells, counted waves, seagulls, and pigeons, and took a brief nap - my heavy stomach and agita was getting the better of me. We headed back to the hotel, Daniel with his elbows, knees, and wrists scraped raw from broken shells laying on the ocean floor, with 2 shells each in tow, and not a moment too soon.
We should have paid more attention to the clues we were given before we sat down for lunch. We’re both now paying for it big time. I’m afraid to leave the room, even to go to the lobby. It’s too far from the bathroom.
Oh, by the way, I should have checked the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority web site, they don’t list Hong Kong House as a recommended place to eat.
That Damn is back!
Damn was on the pond this morning at 6:45 when I went out to feed the fish. I yelled so loud, I think I woke up the entire neighborhood. Daniel came running out thinking I had somehow injured myself. The damn bird was perched on the 20′ PVC pipe I had put across the pond to hold up landscaping fabric - to hide the pond from Damn - from dipping into the water. Instead of using the fabric, I had settled for the “cats cradle” arrangement of twine and never took the pipe off. That damn bird found a 6 foot opening in the twine - which is what they need for their wingspan. I haven’t seen the damn thing in over a week and thought I had won the war - little did I know.
So at 7:00 this morning, Daniel & I were cutting 25 foot lengths of black landscape fabric and stretching it across the pond as we tried to find rocks big enough to anchor it with. I ended up having to pull up some of the landscaping rocks I have around the pond edge. By 7:30 we were both exhausted, muddy, cranky, and we hadn’t even packed for the shore yet. The pond now looks like the worst gift wrapped package you’ve ever seen, but I hope it will do the trick.
If I ever do catch that Damn Heron, I’m going to snap off its neck, drive a stake through its skull, and plant the stake in the ground as a trophy for me and a warning to other Heron. TO HELL WITH THE LAW!
Now that that’s out of my system…
Off to Atlantic City!
Early this afternoon, after a little over 12 hours of editing during the past two days, and after we completed the last “Final” edit - I think there were actually five of these - I printed and assembled the first 12 copies of Issue 2 of Touch: The Journal of Healing, September 2009. Have I told you I love my new paper cutter? On Thursday and Friday I was able to finish 35 copies of Issue 1.
Tomorrow we’re going for a short vacation to the Jersey Shore.
The production run of Issue 1 taught me a few lessons.
1. I now know that it takes about the same amount of time to fold and stack a copy of the journal before fastening and trimming as it does for the printer to complete the two-sided sheets for a single copy.
2. The printed sheets of cover stock and the page body require a minimum of one hour to relax and uncurl enough from the printing process before they can be assembled into a book.
3. I now know that when the printer is doing a run of cover sheets, I should not leave the printer unattended - or - have the paper shredder sitting in front of the output tray and turned on. The cover stock is thick and made of 67 lb paper, and once it finishes printing, it has a tendency to push the sheet that printed before it out of the output tray and down onto the auxiliary input paper tray to be pulled back in for a second printing causing a paper jam - or - right into the mouth of the paper shredder, which through its ingenious design of a paper sensor, automatically turns on and makes confetti out of the cover.
4. Once I get a rhythm going, I’m able to fold, stack, fasten, and trim 10 copies of a 36 page book in 90 minutes.
5. You can develop calluses on your fingers in places you never had calluses before.
6. Duplex, wireless, network printing is the coolest thing.
7. I love this business. It’s just so cool to see poet’s words and a photographer’s images lie on pages within a printed book.
Daniel started his vacation today, although I think it would be more correct to say it started when he got home from work last evening. I spent this afternoon filling another order we received today for more copies of Issue 1 of Touch. I’m very pleased with the appearance and feel of our publication. The cover stock and paper we’ve chosen to use in the printing and assembly process is of a nice weight and texture which gives the books a degree of quality I haven’t seen in many of the chapbooks I’ve purchased over the past two years. I also purchased a business class paper cutter a few weeks ago. It has allowed me to produce exceptionally clean and uniform edges, something I was unable to achieve with the small Fiskars wheel paper cutter I had used in the past on smaller print projects. Even though the Fiskars is rated at a maximum of 10 sheets per cut, I haven’t been able to cut more than 8 sheets of 20 lb paper at a time. We’re using 67 lb cover stock and 24 lb 100% recycled paper for the body pages. Both Issue 1 and 2 have a total equivalent of just over 32 sheets of 20 lb paper, and I can easily cut up to 11 books at a time with the new cutter.
After dinner, we spent the evening discussing a vacation while we looked for a place to go. Daniel’s priority for a location was the Atlantic coast with a beach so he could swim in the ocean. My priority was a hot tub and a high speed internet connection. Both of us surfed the web on our computers as we tried to decide on a town to visit that would accommodate us both. After a few hours we settled on Atlantic City, NJ. It’s only a few hours away and the forecast is for temperatures similar to those of home. After I called the hotel to clarify a few of their amenities, Daniel confirmed the reservation. He’s really looking forward to this time away to have some fun in the sun and surf.
Today we officially began our print publication business, The Lives You Touch Publications, with our first printed copy of Issue 1 of Touch: The Journal of Healing. We are printing copies for the contributors to Issue 1 as a way to thank them for helping us to get started, and more copies for the orders we’ve received for this issue from other folks. Next we’ll begin to print Issue 2 of Touch. Both issues are for sale on the website of the print journal.
Let’s hope so. I haven’t seen him since the 5th and there are no fish missing or new scales on the bottom of the pond or settling chamber. It’s a real PIA getting to the pond to feed the fish and clean leaves off the net - yes the leaves have begun to fall here. We’ve had a few very cool nights and the trees are getting a jump on autumn.
The young goldfish - formerly fry - are growing like crazy. I think they’ve added 1/2 inch in length during the past week. I’ve been feeding them 2 or 3 times a day to bulk them up for the winter. I’ve counted 6 shubunkin’s so far. There’s also about a dozen black comets who will begin to develop their orange color next spring.
I’m still a little worried about Damn though.
Over the past 48 hours, Damn, the Heron appeared less and less until finally over the past full day, I didn’t see him, but…
Occasionally we’d hear cars beep their horns or people whistling from their car windows as they drove up and down the street. We thought it might be someone who knew us or someone looking for a lost dog. We were wrong. At one point today, I was on the porch when a car slowed down to a near stop right in front of the house. People were talking loudly and pointing at something, when I saw him move. Damn Heron was peering in through the hedge at the pond so I ran out and scared him away. Secretly I had hoped he would take flight just as a car passed by and the car would hit Damn Heron and kill him. I’ve had dreams about catching him and impaling him on a stake as a trophy and a warning to other damn Heron not to be confused with Damn the Heron. I know this would be illegal, but I can dream can’t I?
Not to belabor this story…
Over a 24 hour period, Damn, the Heron - I figure if I just write Damn with a capital D, as in a proper name from now on, you’ll know who I’m writing about and it will require less typing, moved to a neighbors roof, then he - I’ve decided Damn is male - seems to have disappear. I haven’t seen him today. In the interim, I’ve created a cat’s cradle kind of contraption over the pond using a huge ball of twine I had saved from the last visit from a Heron. The twine is stretched from the house to the fence, from trees to shrubs and everywhere in-between. Each line of twine is less than 5 feet apart. With a wingspan of 6 feet, the birds won’t land or approach an area to feet that doesn’t have at least a 6 foot opening for their escape, because their wings will get caught and they may not be able to take flight quickly.
Wow, it’s been 6 months since I posted here!
Much has happened in the past 6 months. Not only did our launch of Touch: The Journal of Healing go well in May of this year, it was even better than we had hoped for. We actually received over 120 submissions in the three categories we publish, poetry, prose, and graphics. From all of these we published 25 pieces created by other writers and photographers. We also dedicated the journal to a professional colleague of mine.
Just a few minutes ago, I uploaded issue 2 of Touch. This issue features many new poets as well as several who were published in issue 1.
At this point you might be scratching your head as you wonder what in the world a Blue Heron has to do with Touch: The Journal of Healing. Several days ago I found the bird control netting that I use to keep the koi and goldfish in the pond and the birds - i.e. ducks & geese out - laying in the water. We have a bullfrog who has taken up residence at the pond. He or she has appeared every spring for the past few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the frog actually stays at the pond over the winter because several years ago I found one half frozen at the bottom of the settling chamber when I was cleaning out the sediment before I closed the pond for the season several years back. On occasion I will find him/her hopping across the net. This causes the net to be pulled down into the water, and it happens most often in the evening hours when the frog comes out to feed. The following morning I’ll find the frog sitting on the net sort of wading, but I’ve had this subtle nagging in the back of my mind about a Blue Heron. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve seen a Heron at the pond, and there had been no evidence of one, but I still had this nagging suspicion.
This morning, my nagging suspicion turned into my worst nightmare. At 8:30 AM I went out to the pond to feed the fish and there standing at the edge of the settling chamber - which has no net - was a friggin’ Blue Heron. As soon as I opened the door, the bird took to flight, but it was too late. If you’ve ever seen one of these things in flight up close, you’ll be reminded of a Pterodactyl. As I approached the pond, there on the bottom of the chamber were fish scales. The weren’t big enough to have come from a koi, but I counted the koi anyway. The damn bird got goldfish.
A few goldfish wash over the spillway between the pond and settling chamber from the spring to late summer whenever they spawn. I leave a few of them in the settling chamber to eat the filamentous algae that grows abundantly and the settling chamber is also where the goldfish fry (babies) grow into adolescence. At no time have I found a Heron at the pond of seen any evidence of one during this year. So during the past two weeks while we’ve been working to get issue 2 of Touch online, one of these damn birds has been visiting.
All day today, this bird harassed the pond. Whenever I’d see it approach the pond. I’d run out to scare it off. Sometime this afternoon, it seemed to come straight down from the sky before I chased it away, so I left the front door open so as not to alarm it for the next encounter and about 15 minutes later I saw it again. After I chased it away, I waited under the porch roof for about five minutes then slowly walked out to the yard as I looked up at the house roof. Sure enough, the damn bird was perched on the front peak of the roof. Here I was blaming the frog for sitting on the bird control netting. Heron usually feed most aggressively at dawn and dusk, so every 30 minutes or so I would go out into the yard to chase it away. After dusk, it didn’t return.
Daniel and I planned to spend this afternoon reviewing the submissions we had received up ’til noon today. The afternoon progressed into evening and then nighttime with a 45 minute break for dinner, during which we continued our discussion. When the clock said 11:00 PM, we called it quits for the day. From the 40+ poem and prose submissions we received, we reviewed 24. It was an arduous task, but it was also a labor of love. I found it humbling to have these writers and poets offer their work to us for review. As we moved from piece to piece, it became apparent how much effort the writers and poets put into their writing, and how different each writing style was. It was a no-brainer when we both rated the same piece with high marks, but when we came to work that we disagreed on, we spent a lot of time discussing why we thought each piece fit or didn’t fit the journal and the merits of the piece.
We will continue to read each piece individually at our own pace, and for the next several weeks, our Sundays are scheduled for the preliminary selection process. The most difficult task is still in front of us, and that will be to select from these pieces which ones will make it into the debut issue. I have gained a new respect for the editors I have submitted my own work to in the past. The selection process is a difficult row to hoe.
Along with submissions from three new poets today - one from out of the country - we received our first graphics submissions as well. I forgot to mention that I added Hanging Moss Journal run by Steve Meador to the Literature Publications page yesterday.
I’ve spent the last few days researching different poetry and literary publications to learn how the editors put their journals together. One thing I’ve noticed is that quite a few use a dark background with white or light colored text to display the poems. I have personally found this to be very difficult to read in the past and I tend to avoid these kinds of pages. Daniel on the other hand likes them.
My next task will be to learn how to create pdf versions of the journal once we approach our publication date to send to the authors. A pdf document of each issue will become available to visitors at the time the next issue goes to publication.
I spent several hours registering Touch: The Journal of Healing at Duotrope this afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from the Duotrope staff this evening advising me the journal could now be found on their site. The information on the Duotrope Editor’s page stated it would take up to two months before a new site - “market” in their terms - would be added.
We received five more poem submissions today, and Daniel and I are going to begin to review the submissions on Sunday. Sunday afternoons will be our review and preliminary selection day.
After serious thought, I’ve removed the Amazon widgets and links from the home page. They detracted from the overall image a visitor would view when they first arrived at the site, and after all, this is a poetry and prose journal. The links can now be found on the Literary Resources page further down the Directory. In addition, I’ve added a few more books written by healthcare professionals and patients to the scroll bar. I personally selected the books (and music) that are displayed after researching them.
The only external link you’ll find on the home page how is for Duotrope
Yesterday morning I made a pot of chicken soup with what remained of the carcass from the roasted chicken from Sunday. There were a few chunks of breast and thigh meat, and I had one slice of grilled chicken breast left over from Daniel’s lunches from last week. I brought the carcass to a boil and then simmered it for an hour while I cut up the left over potatoes, carrots, onions, and apple chunks I had roasted with the chicken. After pouring off the stock I boned the carcass, cut up the meat and added all the ingredients along with more fresh parsley, basil, and rosemary and some dried garlic, sage, and savory along with salt and pepper and the last bit of McCormick’s Chicken Base I had. The stock was already brimming with the herbs I roasted the chicken with, but when I tasted it it seemed to need more. While the soup was simmering, I cooked up some Pennsylvania Dutch fine egg noodles along with a handful of medium egg noodles that I crushed into smaller pieces from a bag that was almost empty. At four minutes the noodles were al dente and after straining off the water I added them to the soup and turned off the heat. Yesterday I had the soup lunch with a roll from Sunday’s baking, and the same will make up my lunches for the next week.
We’re going to have left over Sweet & Spicy Crock pot Pork Roast from New Years for dinner tonight with leftover beans and spaetzle from Monday that I served with grilled bratwurst.
I’m off to work.
Submissions for Touch: The Journal of Healing are slowly rolling in, and I’ve added a few links to poetry journals and blogs I frequent. Of note are Feel Good Lost Blog and Tilt Press Blog, and Tilt Press which publishes chapbooks, all operated by Rachel Mallino. Rachel’s Tilt Press co-editor is Nicole Cartwright.
It’s official, spring is here! This morning I found the evidence:
Our first blooms of the year.
This morning I began to add Amazon.com links to the home page of Touch: The Journal of Healing, but I didn’t like the way the page was laid out. It was very crowded, and Daniel told me it wasn’t balanced. I added the links for two reasons. The first reason is that most of my literature and poetry books purchased over the past two years have come from Amazon. I found it a lot easier to order them online than it to drive the ten miles to the nearest Barnes & Noble or Borders. I’ve gotten some great deals from Amazon, and I wanted my visitors to receive the same benefit. The second reason is, I learned late last summer when someone clicks on a link to Amazon and then purchases something, the owner of the site where the link was posted will earn a small percentage of the sale in the way of a “commission” so to speak. Since August of last year, the fee I’ve received for the link here has come to less than the cost of one month of my website hosting server charge. Now that I’m nearly retired, my income isn’t close to what it used to be, and every little bit helps. I thought if the fee covered the cost of hosting my websites, it would be one less expense I would have to find the money for.
Daniel told me there should be a option in the software to enlarge the dimensions of the website and sure enough it was there. I didn’t realize the software allowed for changes in the dimensions of a page, and I’d been trying to squeeze everything onto a page that was 700 px wide. The new home page is now 1,000 px wide. I may make it larger, but Daniel told me that 1,000 px is a width that most computer screens can display. After enlarging the page, I experimented with placement of the Amazon links and was able to replace the ones I had with vertical links that fit on the far right side.
Several years ago I asked several poets I know which reference books they had in their library. The scroll bar I added includes many of these titles as well as two poetry books written by poets I’ve corresponded with from Poets.org, The Red Light Was My Mind, by Gary Charles Wilkens and Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree by Steve Meador. I also added in a little Ella Fitzgerald and ABBA music to the scroll, an Amazon search tool, and another poetry/poets book widget.
I haven’t decided whether I want to have these links on the page to begin with. I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with this idea after seeing what they look like because the links detract from the overall appearance of the page, and they could detract from the whole experience of reading poetry. Also, I don’t remember visiting any online poetry journal where these kinds of links are present. Now that the links are off to the side and at the bottom, they aren’t as distracting as my first attempts were, so I’ll have to think on this a bit.
After frying my brain with web design, I decided to do something therapeutic so this afternoon I began to mix a batch of bread dough with the sourdough sponge I set to proof last evening. Daniel had mentioned rolls earlier in the week and I haven’t baked rolls in years. Half way through the kneading, I decided to give the rolls a try, just to shake things up a little. In the photo above, the rolls on the right are Italian-Honey-Walnut Whole Wheat Sourdough and on the left are Italian-Honey Whole Wheat Sourdough.
Here’s the recipe:
Italian Honey Whole Wheat Rolls
1/2 c. sourdough starter
1/2 c. warm water
1 c. whole wheat flour
Mix above in glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap leaving a little space for gas to vent and place in warm spot over night.
Combine above with:
1 tsp. granular yeast - let sit 15 minutes.
1/2 cup EV olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 c. honey
1 tblsp. barley malt syrup
1 tsp. salt
1 c. warm water
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. unbleached all purpose or bread flour
Combine in electric mixer bowl using dough hook or mix with hands in a large ceramic mixing bowl. Divide dough in half and reserve 1/2 wrapped in plastic wrap.
Add 1/3 c. chopped walnuts to first 1/2 of dough.
Continue to mix or knead first 1/2 of dough adding unbleached or bread flour as needed 1/4 cup at a time until dough is the right consistency then knead until dough is formed. Place in ceramic or glass bowl lightly coated with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm spot until double in bulk - about 1 hour.
Repeat with reserved 1/2 of dough omitting walnuts.
When dough has risen, remove from bowls deflate and allow it to rest about 10 minutes. Cut palm size pieces from dough and form into rolls. Place on a floured bakers couche or linen towel, cover with floured towels and allow to rise until double in bulk.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit with baking stones or tiles covering rack at mid level.
Remove roll dough from couche with a metal turning spatula - like what you would turn hamburgers with - and place in a row of 4, spaced apart along the edge of a long wide thin bread peel - a piece of wood 1/4 inch thick x 14 inches long by 5 inches wide. Transfer to baking tiles starting on the right side of the oven by tilting board and allowing them to slide off. Repeat until the oven is full. Spray interior of oven with water from a spray bottle beneath the rack and repeat this every 3 minutes for the first 9 minutes taking no more than 10 seconds each time.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven to cooling rack.
Repeat until all the rolls are baked.
Store in plastic or paper bags until they’re all gone. This bread remains fresh tasting for one week when stored in plastic or zip lock bags.
I’ll let you know tomorrow how they tasted.
The blog attached to Touch: The Journal of Healing is now up and running. As if I didn’t need another thing to keep me busy … At least it will allow me to keep a running dialogue of what I did and when to the journal site. The only problem is that I now feel obligated to post a new photo with each blog entry.
I’ve been going though some cardboard boxes that have been packed away, some of which go back to grade school. In one of these boxes, I came across a small cedar box with brass hinges and inlays that I haven’t touched in over twenty years, and that was only to pack it into the cardboard box I found it in when I repacked it from another cardboard box that was packed when I moved out of my parents house in 1980. So for nearly 30 years, the contents of this small cedar box haven’t seen the light of day. It was locked with a tiny brass key lock, so I started to search through my desk for some old keys I’ve kept not knowing what they were for, but sure they were for something. After trying several very small keys on different rings and fobs that didn’t work, I came across the smallest key in my collection. Sure enough it fit and I opened the box. Inside I found an old metal Sucrets box that had holes punched in it and another small key lock. When I opened the Sucrets box I found two tiny lockets with semiprecious stones mixed in with cedar shavings. I remember the lockets and the shavings, but I don’t remember where they came from. Also in the box was another small lock with two keys, a book of matches, and a piece of paper written with the combination for a lock. The combination was for my old bicycle lock.
All evening I’ve had memories from my childhood return and each memory triggers another memory. I think that’s so cool.
Last week I checked the seven day weather forecast for this week. It said the days were going to slowly warm up into the 70’s by Thursday. No such luck. We’ve been at or just below freezing over night and we hit only 50 degrees on Tuesday, the warmest day of the week.
This past weekend the fish started to become active, sunning themselves in the shallow end of the pond and looking for food, but since Monday they’ve barely made an appearance. The water temperature is hovering in the upper 30’s to lower 40’s, so I can’t begin to feed them.
I do know that spring is coming though. The daffodils and crocuses have begun to poke their head up, and today I noticed green on the lilac bushes where there used to be only buds.
Spring can’t get here soon enough.
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