Friday, September 24, 2010

New Book

I'm so pleased to announce that my new book of poetry, The Slow Talk Of Stones, is now available for pre-order sales from Finishing Line Press at their website at from now til Nov. 10th. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to view my book and order your copy. I'm always happy to sign one with a personal inscription. All orders ship On Jan. 7th. I know it's a bit of a wait, but I do appreciate your patience. I would even throw in a nice houseplant or homemade cookies if I could, but you'll have to come here for those.

I thought I would give you all a sneek peek at one of the poems, set in Eastern Kentucky:

After The Mines Came

Briars stitch into the hills
where we once watched morning slip over
easy as a promise.
And I think the earth has grown spined and calloused
saving itself against us
and I see the eyes of Hazel Mott who lives down the ridge
a face that impales the eyes of anyone
who peers into the memory of a son
who fell into the belly of the world
when the car snapped its cable
and they pulled out his bones in a sack,
only to re-bury them
as if once was not enough,
that the earth wanted to suck out the marrow,
grind his skeleton to dust
between teeth of stone,
seal the ghost of him under dead words
spoken in a registered letter the coal company sent -
a lapsed policy,
bounced check,
would she please pay the service charge
by September 1st.
We're so sorry.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blooming Thieves

One afternoon, I watched someone admiring the hydrangea bush in the front yard, look to her left, then right, snatch off a bloom and scuttle down the walk. I wanted to chase after her, but I was on the phone discussing something too important to drop. I knew she lived in the neighborhood, thought I'd wait till she walked by again, try the shame game on her, let her stick that in her corsage to display. Now, I know it's just a bloom taken, not something of great value like for instance, my truck. But the point is, the act of taking what isn't ours. And I'll be danged if not an hour later, another woman sharked around the hydrangea bush, yanked away another bloom. Foolish mortal. This one was not getting away. I sped out the door, caught her at the roses, said, "Hey, I"m happy to share. All you have to do is ask". Well, you would have thought I was speaking a Martian from the way her face scrunched up like tin foil, unresponsive, letting someones words fall out of the phone slipping away from her ear. Perhaps two conversations was too much stimuli, too much coordination required to function- a stolen bloom in one hand, phone in the other. I thought her head might blow up like one of those Fem-bots, bless her heart. This was getting fun. "I saw you rip-off that bloom in your hand", I said just to be clear. She finally responded, phone hanging from her ear like toilet paper stuck on a shoe. "Do you want it back", she asked? "No, what's the point in that?" "I'm sorry", she said, busied herself away. But her words were mouthed like a fish sucking air- useless.

Now, as a kid, haven't we plucked a bloom for our mothers, wild or from someones yard. We innocently thought, it's only a flower, or, it's a living thing. How could anyone own that? No one would mind just one bloom. And likely, most folks wouldn't mind a kid gathering affection for their mother. But the two folks in question were grown women, well-dressed, not stealing food to survive. Thieves in other words. I hate thieves. I work hard for what I have. Iv'e been robbed six times over the years, nearly mugged who knows how many. Last year, someone even stole the Buddha off the porch. Go figure.

I thought about boobie-trapping the hydrangea, waiting till the neighbor comes strolling up the walk towards my house , then put my boa constrictor in the shrub. But, snakes have such a bad rap as it is and Iv'e worked hard to change that image. Nix that idea. My sweetie suggested a recording of a Rottweiler having a hissy. We could tape the show, put it on UTube. I'm sure it would go viral. Wouldn't that be fun.
Instead, I made a sign - Flower thieves will be pruned, impaled it onto a bloomless stem. From where I sit, I can see everything that goes on in front of my house. Not that I planned it that way, it's simply a matter of practical furniture arrangement. Iv'e seen a couple of folks read the sign. It's sad, the lack of humor in this neighborhood. Maybe I WILL get that Rottweiler after all.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Feeling Squirrely

This morning, I noticed one of my cats sitting in her spot at the window, indulging in a morning bath. Not four feet away, perched on a fence rail, sat a squirrel grooming itself too, in full-view of the cat. At first, I thought the cat hadn't noticed her bathing partner. I anticipated the sound of plants crashing down from their stands when kitty happened to look up and see her favorite outdoor toy and charged along every window in the house in full-pusuit.
But, to my astonishment, she acted as if she didn't care about the squirrel when she saw it. She simply continued with her bath. The squirrel continued with his. Usually, the sqirrel teases poor kitty from its spot on the fence, seems to laugh as she smashes into the window, skids off the ledge and repeats till the fuzzy-tailed rodent strolls away. But not today. For a reason unknown to me, it appears a truce has been decided upon. Kitty glances up at the squirrel again and I know there is no mistake that she sees it. She leaps down from her spot, off to other important things like climbing the bookshelf. All the more reason to aquire more books, fill up the empty spaces for kitty's safety.
A few moments later, squirrel wanders off to pursue squirrel business. Probably to tease the neighbor's cat. Last winter, I watched two squirrels tag-team three cats from our dogwood tree. Surrounded by felines, the tree-rats took turns creeping down the trunk, daring a cat to chase them up. With no takers, one pushed the envelope and came down from the tree, ran a circle around one of the cats that finally took the bait and chased it up another tree. Kitty seemed stuck, unable to keep up, at a loss for what to do next. But, the squirrel knew. It brushed right past poor kitty, down to the ground, past the others and back up the dogwood with the other cats in pursuit. Both squirrels leaped onto the power-lines leading across the street, disappearing into the deep of a large pine. Game over. Rodents- 1, felines- 0.

I'm sure a lot of folks have squirrel stories. These critters are obviously smart and enjoy play and monkey mischief creating vast amounts of antics we can't help but observe. My favorite story was told to me by former utility co-workers many years ago. One summer afternoon, a crew truck was at a job, there to repair a leaking watermain. While waiting for equipment, one worker passed the time by chucking rocks at a squirrel sitting in a nearby tree. Finally, one rock connected, beaned the poor creature right in the head. It crumpled into the limb for a moment, sat back up, shook its head and when it regained its senses, eyeballed its attacker. It chirtled its little squirrel sound of anger (I'm sure it was an explitive) charged down the tree in a bee-line at the man who was now frantic to get inside the crew truck and close the door. A second later, the squirrel ran to the other side of the truck where the crew-boss sat laughing, his door open, a snarling ball of fury creeping closer. "Shut the door, shut the door", the worker yelled in terror. But the crew-boss couldn't stop laughing. In a panic, the worker jumped out from the truck, ran down the sidewalk, squirrel in hot-pursuit.
I called him Squirrley from that day on. Did I rub it in? Of course. He just didn't get that it was wrong to harm an animal for his own entertainment. But, I don't think he ever picked on a squirrel. again.

Friday, June 11, 2010

From The Inkwell

As promised, though a bit late, I'm happy to announce my new radio show, From The Inkwell, is now on the air. You can hear it Saturdays at 1pm on 1650 chradio am., or catch it live-streaming at
We are working on getting the shows archived just in case you miss it, so please check it out to see if we figured it out. ;)

The show is an hour long exploration of poetry and prose with guests ranging from writers to publishers, playwrights to booksellers who read and discuss their work and experiences in the literary world. And it's buckets of fun too. Ok, it's mainly a lot of fun. Check it out.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Snail's Pace

This morning, I did as little as possible, having exhausted myself with work, my new radio show, a thousand errands and projects. But, at the insistence of the neighbor's cat that chooses to spend it's time on the porch when the possum isn't using it, I drug myself to the stoop let poor kitty curl onto my lap. Not that I had a choice.
While sitting there, pinned down next to the potted pansies, I noticed two snails cruising the foliage, gliding like whispers across the green. One idled to nibble a spent bloom as the other stretched onto a leaf that couldn't bear its weight and collapsed. The snail clung on, upside down, suspended and to my eye, in trouble. I almost reached out to help it, but then, it took the opportunity to feed on a bloom that was hidden to me until I peered closer. So, I let it be. Maybe the snail isn't so dumb. Just then, a neighbor hurried into his car, gunned the engine and whiplashed down the street.
How interesting that these two polar opposites present themselves together, right in front of my eyes. Patience and impatience, grace and speed, opportunity presenting itself and seeking it out. A lot to consider.
Then, to myself, I chided my neighbor for being in such a hurry, careless of anything in his way. What's all the rush for? And is it worth the risk of missing so much, so much that blurrs by in our haste to get it all done. Is it worth draining ourselves to check a task off of our to-do lists, run as fast as we can, g-force winds flapping in our cheeks like derranged sky-divers?
And then it hit me like a cosmic 2x4- who was I calling an idiot, too worn out to pull a few weeds on such a pretty day, struggling to link words into cohearrant sentences. It's a good thing the porch isn't screened in, else that rock I chucked at my neighbor would have bounced back and beaned me in the head. I like my head, tired as it is, wrinkles and all. So, tomorrow, I'm playing hookey, taking a day off. No work, just lazy. And you can tell my boss, I don't care. Her name is Sheri L. Wright. Having one's own business does have its advantages.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Walking The Sun Dog

This morning, before the acidity of java burned through my brain-fog, I wondered what in the world to write about. It turns out that I'm scribbling about something not of this world, at least to a degree. Ever hear of a sun dog? It's a solar phenomenon caused by sunlight refracting through ice crystals in cirrus clouds, creating a second sun, halo, or patch of rainbow-colored light. Sound boring, like something out of your high-school science book? Believe me, it's not boring at all. Imagine looking into the sky and finding a swatch of rainbow suspended there. Better yet, a complete circle of light, colors prismed around it, a friend to share it with, witness that your neurons didn't hiccup your wild days of experimenting with mind-altering wantoness.

Since the first time I saw a sun dog, I've always kept watch for more. It's a reminder to me that the world is a place full of interesting things, that earth is only the beginning in finding them, and that when we do, they can change us in unexpected ways.
One afternoon, sitting in traffic and impatient to get home, I remembered about sun dogs, looked up and sure enough found one, a beautifuly bright one. I looked around to see if anyone else saw it. No, not one person had their neck crooked up, no smile spread on their face. What a shame. This was too good not to share. I looked to my left, to the car beside me- a middle aged guy, starched shirt, pensive expression. I thought, no, this guy wouldn't give a rats' pitootee about a splotch of light in the sky. Likely, he would ingore me at best, give me a dirty look at worst.
But then, I took a chance. I just had to share this with someone, open the door for anyone to see beauty in the natural world. We do spend too much time with our gadgets, hurrying into cubicles of work and home and solitude.
I rolled down my window, lightly tapped my horn. I got his attention, smiled and pointed to the sky. To my suprise, he did look. And then he smiled. He no longer was the middle-aged guy balding in his stiff shirt, mouth down-turned to the world. He became more of himself. At least that's what I like to think. He rolled down his window, asked me what in the world that thing was. When I told him, I had the feeling he was going to go home and look it up, that he may start to watch the sky as well. I also had the feeling that he didn't see me as only someone in painter's whites, driving a beat up truck that had long lost its shine.
The light changed. Time to move on.
It's a wonderful thing to have one's faith in nature to change us proved in unexpected ways.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Snakes for Goodness Sakes!

Folks have one of two reactions to serpents- fear or attraction. I observe this all the time, from guests in my home who either scurry wild-eyed past the snake tanks, or peer inside for a better look. Many times, someone with the fear reaction, will make efforts to work through it with the help of my corn snake. Bright candy-orange, she looks like a toy. Very threatening indeed. It's interesting to watch their faces switch from tense as steel coils to relaxed and smiling. These people walk away with less of a weight, quite proud for facing down fear. And I know that there is one less snake that could die from being found in someone's garden. I often feel like a mediator between humans and serpents, a role I'm happy to take to shore up a rift amongst species, heal over phobias and mis-information, religious propaganda towards a creature who's only role is to exist with the rest of us.
Now, granted, I wouldn't go trying to make a pet out of a rattler, or think that a 30foot python with 30 feet of attitude would be a loving snuggle-bunny. Some creatures are best left to themselves, especially if they don't like humans. That doesn't take much fatty matter to figure out. But, there are some snakes that get along with us quite well, show emotion, even affection. Suprised? I was, at least to the way it was expressed. And here is where learning something from another being comes in, one of the reasons I have snakes. Although, if I had the means, this place would be a zoo- in a good way.
Shortly after I got my boa and we were still getting aquianted with each other, I took her out for sun in the backyard, draped her over my shoulders while I enjoyed the iris blooms. Then, along came the neighbor's cat wanting attention and treats. Yeah, they all come here. The word is out. Even the possum is spoiled.
So, I'm petting the cat, rubbing it's cheeks while it purrs all over the begonias. Meanwhile, the snake is watching all of this. I know because I'm watching the snake to make sure she doesn't get the idea that the cat is dinner. Suddenly, the snake lifts her head off my shoulder, rubs her face against my cheek, just like I was doing to the cat. I was astounded. But that's not all she did. Just to be sure there was no misunderstanding, she slithered to my left and rubbed against my other cheek. Now, you may not believe that, or maybe you do. And you can make of it what you will. It was simply my experience, and sometimes, that's all that matters to make a difference for us, how we percieve things or even ourselves. I no longer saw reptiles as existing through only a reptilian brain. I saw them as more complex, more feeling. Granted, their expressions of emotion are sometimes much more subtle than ours, since they have no facial muscles to convey feelings. But, for me, that is part of their teaching- to calm our hurried selves down and pay attention. That in doing so, we become more aware and sensitive to subtleties within and without. That we are missing too much by not observing things outside of the farmiliar, and that the differences may not always be so great.
Our complex brains can sometimes make us too busy to realize that we get in our own way. Thank goodness for so-called simple creatures to nudge us back onto proper footing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bad Kitty

Last week, I was challenged to write about the bodily functions of cats, how they conflict with our mental well-being. You folks who plod into the morning, barefoot and bleary-eyed, understand this, deal with the weekly trauma of stepping onto something cold and squishy, something your cat left special just for you, left obviously in your path to the coffee pot. Cats are excellent observers.

For those who do not have cats and are considering getting one, beware my friends, beware.

Scenes From The Litter Box

I hear it... blahp, blahp,
kitty puke on the floor,

Sometimes I find it
in the dark.
I don't like finding it.

Kitty thinks I should get up at 5am
to feed her,
tell her how pretty she is.
Bratty cat.
She has technique:
sit by face- stare,
scratch furniture- stare,
rattle blinds with claw,
get claw stuck in blinds
till human gets out of bed.
Except, this time, I went back to bed.
It's 5am.

It is very quiet now.
Too quiet.
Maybe she's tired of her game
and that sausage roll of puke-slimed hair is a trap.
I'll slip and fall.
crack open my head.
She'll have a nice supply of meat,
till she has to figure out
how to open the door.

I think I hear my keys jingling.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I bet that name caught your attention, though it may have tied your toungue into a Gordian knot. And yes, it is a name, an Appalachian home-spun twist on Rumplestiltskin, conjured up by author and Push-Cart Prize nominee, Becky Mushko. Her new book, titled of course, Ferradiddledumday, has been well-recieved throughout the Appalachia/Blue Ridge region for weaving new threads into a favorite story, threads of mountain heritage rooted in Old Country traditions of magic and fey, the dangers of pacts made without understanding consequences, the desperation that drives us to them and the importance of kin to help us through.

Mushko's fresh version is a page-turner for both young and old, filled with the imagery of mountain life and land, illustrations hued with care blended into the ink.
And as a treat, she includes a study and discussion guide at the end of the book, delving into its origins and history.

If you have children, you will want to read this wonderful story to them. But, don't be suprised if they snatch the book out of your hands and read it themselves. Better yet, contact the author to come visit your school group if you live within 200 miles of Franklin County, Virginia at

Monday, May 10, 2010

Iris Show

Can you imagine the scent of iris filling a room, people humming around blooms like drunken bees, too enchanted by sweetness to let a grain of bitter cling to their faces? I can. The memory is like pollen gathered unintentionally by the circumstance of movement through the day, of a moment when I felt a weight clinging, pulling me into an awareness- that everyone in the room was transformed by blooms. Not one up-turned face soured the fragrance of the air. People smiled, talked among strangers like old friends sharing treasure stashed in stalks of color.
The iris club I belong to, Louisville Area Iris Society, recently had a show and sale. I had the privilage of sitting in that room a good part of the day, tending to various duties. It didn't take long to feel my own mood shift, lighten as if I were one of those molecules of sweet floating around the room.
There is an intangible fact about gardeners- they are generous with themselves, their plantings, their seeds, as if sowing gratitude into earth. I think it's because they sow themselves into the day bent on their kness, fingers working through soil like awls -traces left on their hands clasping another's like a gift.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Getting Some Air

If someone told me two weeks ago, that I would host a radio show on poetry and prose, I would have humored their dillusion, then beat a retreat stage left. Well, whaddaya know? Here I am telling you that is exactly what I'm about to do. Things do get unexpectedly interesting, like a stone skipping downhill that hits one little twig along the way, changing its course entirely.

I had heard about a new community-oriented radio station here in Louisville, Kentucky, that they were looking for original material from poets and musicians. Wonderful! What a great concept. A local station that actually gives attention to local talent. We certainly have it in abundance. Why not have a one-hour show that spotlights our poets and writers? The station owner also thought why not, when I suggested the idea. So, here I am, gearing up to be a part of something wonderful in a way that I never would have thought so. I feel pretty danged lucky to paticipate in what I adore, what is creative, sharing it among other people who have fallen in love with words and stories. I am thrilled to get to spend time every week, hearing talented folk read and discuss the art of words. I hope you will be too.
As soon as we get are ready to air, which will be very soon, I'll make an announcement here.
Here's a link to the station: And for those not in the Louisville area, we do have live-streaming.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mudders and Others

Once a year, Louisville, Kentucky transforms into a raging center of celebrity, lunacy fermenting throughout the in-field of Churchill Downs and oozing into the city to give us locals an excuse for playing dodge-ball in Spaghetti Junction traffic, wearing nothing but UofL colors, the aroma of mint julips. But this year, the amount of rain falling like losing tickets from the Grandstand, has likely made mud-wrestling second only to The Kentucky Derby. Now granted, I wasn't there, but having been a time or two, I've seen, man, have I seen.
A couple of decades ago, when money was an endangered species and I was naive enough to trail it into hazardous regions, I worked as a security guard. One year, my post was at The KY Derby protecting vendors from theft, the tracks' interests against folks smuggling in their own liquid parties instead of buying over-priced beer. Like I said, I was naive.
I got to see the side-show for free- happy drunks flopping under their hats, hats created in the din of 3am, too early for reason to come strolling in at dawn. I watched train-wrecks teetering out of their flip-flops, cleavage smacking us all in the eye before passing out in the bean dip. Yum. But I was young and still saw the humor, at least to a degree.
The cherry on the day, was as I was leaving the track. Mistaken for a cop, a group of 2-3 young people rushed up to me, appearing relieved to have found me walking by. With much concern, they pointed to a port-a-potty set on a sidewalk, said that their friend was stuffed inside, passed out and stripped naked, and that I had to do something. Right. I peeked open the door and sure enough, there was a guy bare to the world except for his aroma. Lovely. Well, what was I going to do about it? Smile. That's all I could do. I had no authority for anything more than seeing the humor of it. The guy still had his brains pickling in his scull, no obvious wounds, friends right there to pack him home. Well, maybe. They didn't seem thrilled about doing so, and likely not without a ding or two. None of them seemed able to comprehend a straight line.
So, I left them to it. Finding a cop to report a robbery in this mess? Ha! Why do you think those kids were so relieved to see me? Yeah boys, sure, I'll call this in.

My last trip to the derby was in 1989, the year it friggin' snowed. Stuck outside along the back-side, cold beer and a wind chaser was the last straw. I didn't care much about betting, poofy hats and crowds sloshing beer onto my day. I'm sure that the perspective from Millionaire's Row is different, cushioned from the fray. But I'm much happier watching spring wake in the woods, rambling for blooms instead of running for roses.

Ditching School

She throws her shoes into the pond-
some fish can make better use of them-
runs across the meadow
soaking in dew filled with morning,
fat ovals of plantain
cooled by moon,
cozy rosetts of mullein
spread like bolts of felt,
nubs of fescue crackle under her strides
charging her to run
till the soles of her feet are stained green
and the earth has sealed itself
back onto its daughter.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Courting Cool

As a 70's era hooligan who blasted obnoxiuosness through the speakers, smoked cigarettes in the girls' room and learned all about the joys of flipping the bird at anyone wearing polyester, listening to disco, or otherwise deemed un-cool, the 1950's homogenization seemed worlds away, a museum exibit at best, a side-show attraction at worst, mocked for its conformity. What did we know, each of us down the line who wouldn't be caught in anything other than blue-jeans. It wasn't allowed if you wanted in the club.
The decade between us and them-the 60's- had loosened ideas, raised hem-lines and lengthened hair. It changed eveything in a big way. But our generation was the remnants of Pandora's Box opened and left with little more to rebel against except pimples and parents who plunged into nostalgia humming doo-wop on an 8-track. We thought we were so hip, set apart from the conservatism adults wallowed in, hip because we sewed patched of Mick Jagger's lips on the asses of our jeans. And to a point, we were, daring consequenses to slap away our freedom, send us to our rooms to think about what we had done (as we smoked cigarettes at the window). It was a progression towards growing away from the assurity of a bed to sleep in, a meal to wake up to, someone to go to if the house caught fire. We never thought the certanty of our cool would fade, that our superiority over repression, greased back in a D.A. or leashed inside a poodle-skirt, would sit next to each other for a beer one day, celebrate the audacity we both had for flipping the bird in three chords.
I think it only took growing into my hormones to see that angst is the same for every generation, that each decade has its own windmills to defeat, real dragons to tame and slap a saddle on for a ride after midnight, after sneaking out our windows.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Voodoo in The 'Ville

There is not one plant that I don't like or can at least appreciate no matter how ordinary or unusual, weedy or weird, or aromatically repulsive. Some species are an aquired taste to say the least. But if we can look past what we consider a negative trait, we may appreciate how plants have developed their own unique stratagies for thriving in environments we wouldn't last two seconds in, much less reproduce our own species.
Some plants, however, are truly an aquired taste, asking us not to simply stretch past our comfort zone, but to leap with abandon into weirdness. One such species is the Voodoo Lily, know botanically as amorophaphallus. What makes this a standout in strange, primarily is it's odor. It's not called a corpse flower for nothing. Believe me. And if you don't, just ask my neighbors. Well, maybe you had better not stir up a stink.
I thought I'd share my upcoming article (slightly tailored) in the Louisville Area Iris Society's newsletter to go into all the gruesome details. And I encourage folks to look around on the web for photos. Descriptions alone just don't do this amazing species justice. You won't be disappointed if you like a truly unusual plant.

Off The Garden Path

"A Bloom With A Phew!"
Amorphaphallus konjac, sauromatum venosum, dracanulus vulgaris: these are just a few names only a mother could love. But once you see these plants, their monikers only add to their appeal. Commonly known as Voodo Lilies, these members of the araceae family(aroids) will knock your socks off (or it may just smell like it) with their appearance, keep unwanted snoops out of your yard with their noxious odor- the smell of rotting flesh- although they may attract a vulture or two. But hey, consider it your own personal wild kingdom.. Not to worry though, the odor lasts only a few days, while the blooms endures for a week or so, much longer in some cultivars.
And later in the season, when they re-emerge, some, like paeoniifolius, can produce the most unique foliage.
The stalk looks like lizard skin- stippled and splotched green, maroon and cream. I have a bulb that weighs nearly five pounds and produce foliage nearly five feet tall, spanned four feet. I could have sat underneath and dodged raindrops.
There are many varieties of amorphaphallus, most, easy to care for, some hardy to zone five.
Wikipedia and Dave's Garden are good places to start for info and photos. Search the web for prices, availability, ect. Some varieties, such as dracanulus vulgaris and konjac are not expensive, while other more hard to find bulbs will leave you mooching meals off your mama for a while.
Like most arums, many Voodoo lilies prefer shade/pt sun, not too wet or too dry. Be sure to get specifics on care, as some Southeast Asia and have different bloom times, needs, ect. I strongly advise you plant them away from windows and walkways, unless you have a pesky neighbor. Revenge isn't always sweet smelling. 'Scuse for a moment folks-"what's that? Oh, allright." The editor has just informed me to tell you that the sentiments of this article do not reflect those of The Iris Fan and are in no way intended as encouragement to the aforementioned behavior of the author. Party pooper. Moving along then.
Did you know that the tallest flower on earth is a stinker? Amorphaphallus titanum to be exact. It spikes over ten feet tall, the foliage reaching twenty feet into the sky, spanning sixteen feet across. Now that's a garden plant, maybe the ONLY plant in your garden. Now get this, the heaviest bulb recorded, at Kew Gardens in England, busted the scales at 200 pounds. I doubt if it worried whether or not its ass was fat. Just saying.
So, please do have a look around at this fascinating species. As I said, they aren't for everyone, but all who see them are guaranteed to be left shocked and amazed.
Smell ya later.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Into Amazonia

I feel so official now- my new book, The Courtship Of Reason is available on Amazon. My publisher, Finishing Line Press, sent me an email this morning telling the good news. I have to say that it seems a little surreal, but I'm danged happy to have my work out there, come what may. Here's the link and please feel free to add a review if you'd like.

Since I'm shamelessly self-promoting the book, I thought I would post one more piece from it.

At Sea

It takes two thousand years
for ocean currents to rise from the deep,
circle the world

and return ancient sailors lost
though their bones turned to memory
in the brine,

still, they come back to us,
speak to those inclined to the sea
not to worry
if their ships are claimed by elementals,

there is another vessel
for the journey.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I crossed paths with a coyote today while driving a private road in the country. It skuttled away, carrying some prize in its jaws, turned to see if I had a mind to steal it, or perhaps make a meal of its own flesh. I slowed, came to a stop and we both looked each other over for a moment. I had never been so close to a wild coyote before and was thrilled to see one twenty yards away. Its coat was full and healthy, gleaming in the spring sun. It carried itself with intelligence as it watched for my movements while continuing its meal. I won't say anything as cliche'd as "it was a mystical moment". The coyote was only concerned for its lunch and hide. I only wanted to observe wildlife. That was our moment. Then, feeling as if my presence and staring eyes were causing stress, I went on my way, leaving the coyote to go on hers.
What could be considered an unusual experience, is seeing something transformative within the mundane. For me, that transformation is nature chewing into the bindings that constrict awareness, bindings we often coil around us, limiting our contact with even a single blade of grass.
I have aquaintences in Europe who have commented lately on how the skies are quite enough to hear only birds in them, and are thankful to Icelands' volcano for the experience, a likely once-in-a-lifetime experience. I wonder what that would be like, to hear only birds, see only clouds and no contrails criss-crossing the sky like a toddler's scrawlings.
It's easy to get distracted with our gadgets, calendars full as ripe pumpkins, full with the mundane. Now, I do like some of our modern bells and whistles like indoor plumbing, auto-matic drip coffee makers, even this computer. What I feel we forget about is, to sometimes dig around in dirt, plant flowers or seeds that will become your meals, watch a coyote that hasn't forgotten where it is on the earth's skin.

We Can Talk to Foxes Only At Dawn

Their eyes still heavy with the moon,
they will see us as a dream
lost from its sleeper
wandering among whispers and shades,
begging secrets from the living
for paths known only to those who
make their way through undergrowth and shadows,
who know our hiding places
when we have forgotten
the round of our own flesh.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

But Seriously...

My last post leaned toward the heavy end of the see-saw, so as a counter balance, I thought I would write about something lighter. Some of my friends have said this next poem is me in the future. I still think of those folks as friends, that their comments are compliments, that I'll laugh all the way to the sun of my front porch in my retirement, clattering crazy wisdom through my false teeth.

Diehlia Dyer

She soaks her false teeth
in the toilet tank
got tired of knocking the danged things
off the nightstand,
picking out grit all day. Besides,
those blue tablets
that keep the bowl so clea
do a beautiful job on teeth.
Porcelain is porcelain.
Saves a little money to boot.
Not much to go around these days
since doctors have me
eating pills like matinee popcorn.

She uses the twelve dollars
and eighty-four cents
saved from spending on denture cleaner
to buy bird seed, gotta put something back
into the world for being in it.
She watches doves swarm the feeder,
draining three inches of seed in one hour,
pecking up bits spilled below.
Curious, she scoops out a handful
from the bag, pours it into a skillet
of melting butter and saute's
for three minutes.
Hmmm, nutty.
It loosens her up enough
to drop one of her prescriptions-
she doesn't tell the doctor,
it's my body, don't need his permission.
He ain't so smart anyway
if an old woman can cure
her bowls with birdseed.

Every morning, she sits on the porch swing
with her bowl of hot seeds-
sometimes drizzling in honey-
toast coffee, just she and the birds
and the sun
brightening rose blooms.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No Mountain To Sit Upon

Recently, I journeyed with a friend to Eastern Kentucky to witness the devistation of mountain top removal firsthand. Three weeks later, I am still coming out of the shock of it, as if some part of me has been blasted to pieces and shoved over the side with what was once a mountain. And I, like the Appalachians, will never be the same no matter how I seed my brain with forgetting, pretty up the disfigured skyline that remains in memory with a good time shopping at a box-store. Just like the one left where a mountains' head used to be, set on top like a poisoned cherry. And we can all stroll the aisles of affordable living, at least until the slurry pit breaks open from its hold, spills over the mountain, clawing off the eroded sides and poundes them down on top of us.
I won't villify the coal companies. They do that all by themselves. Just ask anyone who has buried their dead or shielded their children from bullets that raged through their windows when they spoke against the destruction, the mercury that leeched into their water.

I can say with certainty that there is no wisdom on the mountain if there is no mountain top. I do understand poverty, that politicians and parasites manipulate our desperation until we want to let ourselves believe that the bones they throw us are feasts, that anything put into an empty belly, will feel as heavy as truth. But, the truth is, we shouldn't be starving for it.

I met many people throughout the region, many friendly and open people. I never felt like I had to second-guess anyone. Those traits seem as endangered as the future of mountains older than any others on this planet. I won't judge anyone trying to make a living. We do what we must. But, as such clever monkeys, can't we find another way, one that doesn't paint us irreversably into a corner, one where all we can do is watch the ground we stand on crumble away, clutching at regret.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


As a research tool, the internet is quite useful, allowing fast access to information we may not ordinarily have. I came across a list of world sayings one day, some hillarious, others profound, but mostly they re-enforced the fact that people are basically the same no matter where or when we are in the world. One quote caught itself in the grey matter between my ears, took root and became a poem. It now lives in my new book, The Courtship of Reason. I thought I would share it with you now.

The Sound of Thoughts

The Vietnamese have a saying:
Child turns three,
whole house talks.
Don't we know
from our own silences
how words cushion echos,
that talk is marrow
to fill the hollows
of bones long buried, mute relics
of voices laid to quite.

Our speak was words like hunt
and death and sun, words lived
and ochered onto walls,
words too big to stay in our flesh.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I'm happy to announce that I will be teaching a poetry workshop on persona poems April 17th in Harrodsburg, Ky. for The Kentucky State Poetry Society mid-year conference. For details, please check their website at In case your'e wondering what exactly a persona poem is, it is a poem that appears to be written from the POV of someone other than ourselves, as if they are speaking to us, telling their story and we are merely taking dictation. The POV can come from anyone or anything, from the famous to mundane to imaginary. For the best examples of a persona poem that I can think of, check out Ai Ogawa, a true master of the form. She writes a wicked piece on Oppenheimer, J. Edgar Hoover and many, many others. I can believe that I'm actually reading words from her subjects.

I aim to make this workshop fun, so be prepared for much sillyness, to forget work is not always hard, and to let someone else share the use of our pens long enough to tell us a story.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Off The Garden Path

One of the reasons I'm doing a blog, is to discuss not only the written word, but any unique and interesting thing I can find whether it's under a rock, on a rock or is, in fact, a rock.
I write a collum for the The Iris Fan, the Louisville Area Iris Club newsletter, which I greatly enjoy doing. They let me write not only about obscure members of the iris family, but also pretty much about any danged weird plant I want to. And let me tell ya, you would not believe the amount of weirdness growing out there, things you will think can't be real or living in places that look like the surface of Mars. I hope that by writing about the wonders of this planet, folks will want to go look for themselves, find joy in mystery, that there own uniqueness mirrors the things discovered by accident - just when they thought it was going to be a boring day.

I thought I would share one of the pieces I wrote from the Iris Fan. Hope you enjoy:

My, what pretty eyes you have! And look at you- a peacock strutting in the sun like Mick Jagger. A peacock morea, or morea villosa to be specific. Bet y'all never heard of that one, did you? Come over here for a closer look. Better keep your sunglasses on though, with the way the blue eyes on these divas irredesce in the sun. I do believe they out-flash Vegas. But that's another story. And it stays in Vegas.
If an indigo bunting were to fly by, it would swoon and court all over these blooms, thinking it was going to get whoopie-bang tonight, mistaking the color of the sheen that radiated irresistable flirtation. And who could blame it? I simply love these South African plants. And we are here, just at the right time, smack in the rainfall area of Cape Province. Now watch your step around this granite slope because I'm not hauling you all the way back up to the flats. Not after that big lunch you had. Oh wait, there are morea growing near the edge too. We won't have to scrabble down the side at all. Seems that as long as they get granite and clay, or a fast-draining soil to slip their feet into, they are quite happy.

I think we should take a few specimens back with us, since they are suitable to our climate. so long as they are kept in containers. Oops, I forgot that this species is near-threatened in the wild! Crap. And doubley so for being depleted like this. We won't be taking any with us, but I remeber seeing these for sale on a website - Telos Rare Bulbs. If you Google morea villosa, I bet you can find it in a few other places like The Pacific Bulb Society. Then, after they have established a nice colony, we can divide them out in late summer, share with friends 'cause you know they are going to want some too. And I hate finding folks digging in my yard in the middle of the night. My snakes are getting too fat to take care of "problems".
And what's even more wonderful, is that by cultivating this plant, we increase their numbers so that even with the loss of habitat, they survive.
If you like, let the seed pods dry and break open on their own, then sow indoors in the fall before last frost. Remember, South Africa is on the other side of the world where seasons are reversed.

If I take my shoes off...wait, wait come back here. Smarty. What I was going to say was, in my stocking feet, morea villosa is nearly up to my chin, 24-36" tall. And unlike our beloved tall beardeds iris, the foliage is evergreen. They will over-winter outdoors in zones 9-10 and like most irids, love the sun. But, these will be happy with part shade as well. Now there are contradictions as to when to cut back on water. Like most plants, they do better if we can replicate their environment. So do your homework folks. These plants are not hard to care for, we just need to know a few specifics which are easily obtained through a little digging, digging well-worth the small effort.

You know, with all the talk about the eyes on this irid, I forgot to mention how full and unique the petals are. Can you pick out which of these varieties of morea are villosa? This lilac one? Yep. The white ones a few feet over? Those too. How about the yellow ones by the puff-adder eyeballin' your big toe? Ha! Gotcha. That'll teach ya to infer that my feet are less than aromatic.
But yes, the yellow one is a villosa as well as that lone orange beauty. Ain't that cool! And lookie, there are yellow nectar guides on the outer tepals. Makes me want to follow it right in for a snack. And what a treat it has been, strolling through clouds of indigo eyes resting on pillows soft as sleep. What a wonderful place for a nap. 'Scuse me...


Hey folks, I've finally figured out all the pedals and gears on this thing, so lets go for a spin.
I'm very pleased to announce the release of my new book of poetry, The Courtship of Reason, published by Finishing Line Press. It's available at Charmichale's Books in Louisville, KY., on Amazon and at Or, if you prefer a signed copy, I'd be happy to mail one to you. I am in the process of setting a book launch in the near future in the Louisville area and will post here as soon as one is confirmed.
This new book is my quirkiest yet, full of people who walk the rim of social standards, for good or bad, often a little of both. It is also an exploration of chance, that they are never too late , even if one comes through our last breath.
Here's a little sample from the book:

The Point of Relief Upon The Dying

It's when striving for worth
against everyone's measures
disolves into one slow stream of summers
and within it flow all the untrue things
as if an unmelted patch of snow
held long in shadow
has finally found light.
And the fears and furies
and sorrows that glaciered over joy
recedes into itself
leaving blooms in its wake.
The last moment
is long and brilliant enough for the dying
to know their own shine,
how warm it feels
upon a face without shade.