The Woven Thread, Issue 2

Hullo all: just a quick post today.

The second issue of The Woven Thread was just sent out. It’s a good issue this time, with some very good poets writing for it.  Some shameless advertisement: if you’re interested in receiving The Woven Thread, just email or leave a comment on this post with an e-mail address, and I’ll make sure you’re added to the distribution list.

If you’re too ambivalent to click the link on your left to get to the actual page, The Woven Thread is a monthly newsletter and poetry anthology, aimed at a workshop setting. You can submit one poem a month, and it will get in to the Anthology automatically. You’re only obligation afterwards is to choose two other poets from the issue and respond to their poems via e-mail, thus establishing not only a good anthology of poetry but a dialog about the poetry as well. How delightful.

I like to point out that, because of the nature of the newsletter, it’s great for writers who aren’t necessarily full time poets, but just like to putter around with the art. You can get and give feedback, and it’s a place to get published without having to worry about impressing anyone. If you yourself are thinking of giving poetry a try, go ahead and sign up. If you don’t like poetry, but you might be interested in seeing what we’re doing, there is going to be material for non-poets as well (editorials, writing resources, and the like). If you don’t want anything to do with us, but have a friend who might, point them in our direction.

And now that the shameless plug is out of the way, I’ll go to sleep.

Thanks everyone,



The Bluff

Ideal, for a kid,
About a mile back in the forest.
Easy to find, if you know the way,
Impossible, if you don’t.

It’s along the trails, out in the woods across the house.
Past the ropes course, and past the lean-tos.
The forest opens up, along the east side of the trail,
And there used to be a dropoff there, probably 10 feet
Shows off the opposite side of the valley,
Green or flaming or bone-white, depending on season,
And the cracked ribbon of road, Rt. 19,
Where everyone has to drive to get in and out of town,
Unless they know the back roads.

Place’s got a fire-pit already made,
Don’t have to search for stones,
And there’s logs already around it,
Starting to rot a little, but
I don’t mind dirty jeans.

And spots for tents,
So that in the summer we’d come up
With hot dogs and sausages and mallows
And stay up all night, pretending to sleep,
And when the sun would come up,
We’d all sit on the ledge of the dropoff, wait until
The sun rose from the opposite side of the trees,
And then all burst, and the top of our lungs,
The opening of the Lion King,
Spouting our own Swahili mumbo-jumbo
Cause we couldn’t remember the right words
And wouldn’t know what the meant even if we could.

Each year, I’d go back, there was a little less of the Bluff there,
Rain and animals and stupid kids like us kicking at the ledge,
Didn’t realize that the dirt that fell down wouldn’t come back up.

Some years come by, whole trees had slid down the hill
(It’s a hill now, the cliff crumbled away)
Roots and all, taking little islands of dirt with them,
Clutching at anything to help them stay upright,
As their foundation crumbles from underneath them.

And we’ll still go camping—come by with sausages and
Mallows and chocolate,
Pitch our tents about ten feet further back than we used to
Because where we used to isn’t there anymore,
And spend the night pretending to sleep,
(Thinking about the years, sliding away like the trees).

And then, we would go out,
Sit on the ledge, which is more like a steep slope
And as the smallest sliver of tomorrow slipped over the valley walls,
We would breath and sing at that fiercely rising sun:

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!
Here comes a Lion, Father!

No Real Substance

Artifice.EXE – Current word count: 1747

It’s slowly going up. This break, I’ve managed to make a post on this blog every day, and write a little bit on Artifice every day. Things are going well, but then again, I don’t have school work or anything of the like to worry about right now.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to maintain this work during the last several weeks of school.

I need to be writing even more though: several hundred words a day doesn’t quite cut it. I’ve been reading on what other writers prescribe as good wordcounts  for a day’s worth of writing, and get different numbers from everyone. I’ve known people to say they go for three, solid pages a day: that’s 1500 words, thereabouts. A little more. My writing professor says that’s entirely too high, and that I should focus more on quality then quantity. But he’s a poet, so I’m not sure his vote counts.

Terry Pratchett says that writing a novel takes being alive for fifty years, plus four to six months of frantically scribbling words on a page. I like that idea, even if I’m short the prescribed time by about thirty years or so.

I think the simple answer is, at this point, to simply get words on the page, and try to do more today than I did yesterday. That should be a good enough goal.

I’m going to stop talking now, though, and go write something of substance instead of blogging.


Flower Gardens

I had a good laugh today. It was a beautiful day out, and I enjoyed the ability to run around to some flower gardens.

Now, I’m normally not the biggest fan of flower gardens, because I always find fauna more interesting than flora. But I it was a simply beautiful day out, and it was a wonderful opportunity to go walking with the parents, so I went and enjoyed myself. And the gardens really were beautiful—the azaleas were out in full bloom, and the tulips were just on the decline. It wasn’t the peak for the other flowers, but the garden itself was lovely as well.

It was set up in sections, divided by ivy-covered walls and sculptures. There were nature-poems carved into the rock of the wall. Most of them were romantic, which doesn’t score many points in my book. By and large the sloppy ‘nature is the be-all end-all of existence’ sort of thing. Not much thought, lots of fluffy imagery.

It put me in a cynical mood, but pleasant one—the wort of mood where you’re throughly enjoying being a curmudgeon.

Did you know, for instance, that when flowers are in bloom, they aren’t doing it to be pretty. They’re having sex. Lots and lots of sex with as many partners as they can get their hands on. Plants normally don’t have genders, or secondary sex traits, so they’re not choosy. Walk through a garden in bloom, and you’re walking through a veritable vegetable orgy.

The sculptures I mentioned earlier were almost exclusively the traditional naked-people. The lovers embracing, or the curvaceous nymph dancing amongst the flowers, not much minding that her shirt has fallen off, or the baby cherub peeing in the fountain.

Now, I should point out that I don’t mind nudity in art, and that the sculptures were very beautiful, and that the plant life themselves were simply gorgeous. There were huge Live Oak trees (which refers to a specific breed, rather than a state of animation), which spread out and interlocked their branches, wider than they were tall. They were majestic, and made me feel very small, which most plant-life doesn’t manage to do very well.

Nevertheless, the nagging perception at the back of my mind that I was walking through a land ripe with romanticism, free-love and softcore porn filled me with a certain amount of internal giggling. And then, as we were wandering a small roofed-area of the garden devoted to sculptures, there was one amidst the plethora of Greek goddesses and nekkid fairies, that depicted St. Francis of Assisi. He was in a monks habit, and huddled upright, but in the fetal position. He had a haunted look on his face. And no, I am not making this up.

It was entirely too much, and I started laughing, earning a number of stares and ‘tut-tut’ sort of looks from more civilized people.

It was a good day.

As just a bit of book keeping, I’m about to add a page to the ‘pages’ navigation entitled “The Woven Thread.” It has the information on the poetry newsletter I’m running, so check it out.


A Community of Poets

There was a time, oh, when I was somewhere between seventeen and eighteen, when I was an insufferable know-it-all. Now, this isn’t particularly unusual in a kid approaching the end of his teenage years, but I was probably marginally worse, because I was intelligent—or, at least, I got good grades and I was the son of a college professor, and it’s the same thing until you look closely.

Somehow, despite the fact that I already knew everything (a symptom of a condition I came to realize later was stupidity), I managed to figure out that I wanted to be a writer. It started slow, and mostly stemmed from the fact that I really liked telling stories (read: lies) and I always ended up getting A’s on my English papers, which wasn’t saying much. So I shoved the two haphazardly together, and started writing fiction. Everything I did, for most of that time, revolved around fiction. I wouldn’t go anywhere near anything else, especially poetry, which I disdained.

If I had to blame anyone besides myself, I suppose I’d blame the environment. I didn’t like poetry because I didn’t know what poetry was—there was no community there to show me the way. There no poets, or, if there were, they had no public community.  My total introduction to poetry was being forced to scan Frost’s The Road Not Taken, and if scansion has given birth to a poet even once in all of time, I’ll be impressed.

I recently discovered the community I had missed before. I wrote a poem—not quite on a whim, because I was taking a poetry class in the coming semester, and wanted to at least have tried my hand at it once before I walked in.

I enjoyed it. I wasn’t expecting to.

The class was nice—good fun was had by all. I didn’t realize what it had done to me, though, until the semester drew towards a close. When it had, I looked back and saw that I knew names. I had contacts. I would get e-mails saying, “Hullo, I just wrote this, do you like it?” and I would write back, “Yes indeed, but stanza 3 drags a bit. Perhaps make your language a little more nimble?”

Community got me, without me noticing until it was too late. I didn’t mind though; it was nice.

I had been dragged into appreciation. I listened to my fellow poets, and they listened to me. We respected one another, and our writing flourished. We had our place within one another—an encouraging word, a bit of advice. Poets need to bump heads with people sometimes, and fight for ideas. We provided the heads for each other to bump.

And we found our place among the greater community—the Poetry Universal. We were doing things. We weren’t just smearing words on a page, we were doing something that, if you squinted, looked like art.

Then the semester ended, and the e-mails stopped. No mode heads to bump. No more ego boosts when someone mentioned that they like what I had written. No more community.

And the words stopped coming.

Community is necessary for a poet, but it’s fragile. The challenge is to have one that’s not based around something other than what it ought to be. Community based on GPA will dry up once the 4.0’s roll around. Community based on location can get disturbed by anything from an earthquake to a noisy group of kids moving to the table next to yours.

Community—a lasting community—has to be based on something more permanent: the poetry itself, and the poets. Community must be rooted in community, a self-sustaining web of connection.

T.S. Elliot once wrote that this thing we call ‘art’ is not just a lump of all the individual works, but something larger. Each piece of poetry is woven in to fit into a great framework of the stuff. There isn’t a piece of art—of poetry—that doesn’t affect the whole.

The community is the same way. The poets—the integral parts of the community—we’re already here. In a very real sense, the community of poets is already in place, as permanent and strong as the whole of poetry itself.

We just need to reach out and find those connections. If we could…


Creekbed, Dug Three Feet Deep

Hey, Hey,
Meet me down by the creek, okay?
Yeah, down by the creek, where we was yesterday, too.
Follow the path—right?—down to where it cuts across the creek,
Into that little meadow that’s turned sun-touched with dandelions.
Right down there, just a little past the girls’ dorm. 

(But don’t worry, there’s no girls there now.
It’s summer, it’s summer!
They’re all at home,
And we’ve got the creek to ourselves.
But not for long, because it’s August.
They’ll be back soon, so we have to hurry.)

Meet me down by the creek, okay?
Where we was yesterday—by the big rock that’s good to sit on
with sandwiches
without crusts.
We’ll dig some more, like we did yesterday. 

It’s pretty deep now, the pool we made
In front of the dam we made.
I know because
I went down there this morning when I woke up.
It’s deeper than it was, and the water’s going over top
Of the dam, so we can build it higher today.

 And make sure—cause just in case—to bring a long shirt,
Because those horseflys hurt like
Worse than hitting your toe on a rock
Or getting pinched by a crawdad.
So bring a shirt, so they can’t get at your back.
And bring some change, and we’ll go to the store
And get some candy, after,
Maybe some Swedish Fish
Or Sour Patch.

Meet me at the creek. I’m heading down there now,
On my bike,
So hurry up, I don’t like waiting around for you
(Because the girls in the girls’ dorm
Are coming back so soon).

 And we can dig deeper and deeper, and
Pile up what we dig out of our pool onto our dam,
Until our summer is so deep we could dive in headfirst,
And swim and hide from the horseflies in the flowing stream. 

We got to hurry,
Cause school starts up again,
And every year, the dam’s destroyed
As anger management for a freshman
Who’s failed a test.


The first thing I did this morning, after I took my shower and stood with my head leaned against the glass shower stall, scalding water running on my shoulders till I woke up properly, was listen to Eric Whitacre’s choral setting of E.E. Cummings’ poem i thank You God for most this amazing day.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings;and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

How should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt the unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Having listened to that, I attempted to turn on my computer, only to find that it was stubbornly refusing to turn on. I fiddled with it for fifteen minutes, and finally got it to turn on. I printed off my calculus III homework that I was up till four this morning working on, and arrived at class twenty minutes late.

After, I skipped chapel (what a heathen am I?) and instead read the short stories for my fiction class that I was supposed to read last night, when I was working on my calculus. In that class, I sat and listened, because normally I’m very vocal. Everybody seemed to dislike the stories I happened to like, even the professor.

Afterwards, I managed to get sick on a hamburger and a bit of orange soda.

I went on a walk to calm my stomach, and made my way down to the arboretum. The arboretum isn’t a building, like it would be in many places, but a patch of forest sandwiched between Rt. 19 and the campus. It is filled with walnut trees that are just beginning to change color, and the light filters through the leaves all green and gold, like fine jewelry.

I took a quick nap there, waking up fifteen minutes after falling asleep when I rolled my face against a walnut. Now, walnuts, if you’ve never seen them right off the tree, don’t look like they do in stores. They have a skin on them, like leather, just like a coconut does. It’s thick and rubbery, and to break it open you throw one against a rock or the pavement of the sidewalk. The pith of the skin is strong smelling—they use it to stain wood, and it will turn your fingers dark mahogany.

I palmed the offending walnut—it felt full and round in my hand, and got loam into the wrinkles of my joints. I gave it an experimental toss, and by the time it came down into my hand again, I had decided that I wanted to learn how to juggle. I picked up two other walnuts of similar size and shape, and began to practice. I stayed in the trees for more than an hour fumbling out basic tossing patterns, and by the time I came out, I was able to, with reasonable competency, perform something that was in no way, shape, or form, juggling.

Then I got on the internet, and found a nice website that told me how to begin juggling, and I discovered that all I had really gotten out of the afternoon was a sore back from sleeping on the grass, three walnuts in my pocket, and stained hands that smell like wood varnish. I failed my quiz in German, because I was learning how not to juggle when I should have been studying.

But I like the feel of the walnuts in my hand, and life is, for the moment, good.

The Snowball


The snowball—
Rubbed smooth by blood-warmed hands—
Misses its target by an inch
And hits instead a stone-lined wall
With a gentle piff
And an explosion of white.


Notes from the Meijer Sculpture Gardens

Went to the Meijer Sculpture gardens today. I took my little notebook with me, and just wrote at whatever little bits I really liked. Sometimes it was a quick, rough poem, and other times a little narrative entry, and others a whole bunch of I don’t know what.

I think, instead of trying to give an original entry here, I’ll just give you what I wrote earlier. Hopefully some of it is good, to make up for the fiction posted yesterday which was less-than-so.



The Sculpture Garden is beautiful.

I’m sitting on a rock at the edge of a pond, watching the freshly fed goldfish fight over the grains of processed feed still hovering on the surface. They are big fish, dappled with gold and black and white. They make ripples on the surface as they swim, and steadfastly refuse to nibble at my fingers, even when I wiggle them like worms.


Now I look at a monster: some eight legged thing cast in bronze in the middle of a bed of flowers, standing taller than myself. I think of what had happened had Shelob appeared in the Shire one day, hungry. The legs are spindled, and the body is made of wire. There’s no sign of a head, nor sense to the thing.

I like it.


Another piece, called Listening to History:

A severed head.

Rope wraps and wraps around him,

Like a blindfold, and holds to his ear

A book.

His lips are unreadable.

I wish I could see

His eyes!

Is he enlightened,

or merely dead?


Another piece, a 24 foot tall stallion.


Tall and strong,

cast in bronze,


I wonder:

had this beauty launched 1000 ships,

would Troy have been taken

by soldiers birthed from

the womb of a wooden woman?


There’s a kiddie pool. Not a real one, but deep enough to sink your hands in to. It is filled with painted fish and bright plastic boats.

The space is surrounded by sculpted frogs and prehistoric beavers bigger than I am.

If the things of children also please me, am I to come to the natural conclusion, or is there something more profound here?


There are two concentric circles, cast in greening copper, one inside the other, more than eight feet tall. There are gaps in them, where you can walk in.

Their insides are coated with chain, and water cascades from the top down, into the bronze basin floor.

It paints a moving picture, and once inside, there is nothing to see but the ever-shifting steel and water, and blue sky above.

It is like one’s own refuge against the heat of the day: a soft speaking womb from which one is loathe to escape.


There is a false jungle with twenty foot tall bamboo, and sculpted pandas of stone—

they cannot eat a bite!

All there is is a solitary goldfish who lives in a pond beneath a waterfall and hides when people come near, as if to say, I do not live, just like the rest.


Did you find everything?

asks a well meaning sign after a segment of Styrofoam cave built for children.

And then,

Like a cereal box scavenger hunt:


Ant Eggs










I crawled into that space,

Breathed the earth and searched.

I found them all:

even the penny,

even the gem,

even—how rich I became!—the pencil.


Another sculpture, entitled Lady Hare and Mirror.

Lady Hare looked at herself in the mirror,


As humans sometimes do,

expecting perhaps to see some truth:

A jack rabbit stared back at her,

reared up on hind legs,

almost looking like more than it was.

Lady Hare looked down at herself,

and wondered—

what makes me more than animal?


That’s everything that was in my notebook. I really like some of the ideas in there, especially the one about the listening to history.

I’ll try and find a picture and post it. It was a very interesting sculpture.

I have so much to post suddenly. Three book reviews, more fiction which is in the process of being edited, and some other thoughts.

Will probably post something tomorrow.


The neighbors next door
(fifty years old),
Pluck granites from the garden and
Throw them plink into the lake,
Then laugh like young boys. 

There’s a fire in the grill nearby,
Searing the flesh off
Fresh fish and ground venison. 

A girl-cousin, who turned eleven this year
(she thinks she’s twenty one),
Forgets that she is now a lady
And joins her brothers by the fire, 
Stabs at embers, 
Explores dark tunnels, 
And dangles bare feet in water. 

I sit on a stone bench with notebook in hand.
I sigh, and look at the lake.
Clarity is echoing in my mind. 

But then dinner comes and
Girl-cousin remembers her age. 
She eats Dark Chocolate and Mahi-Mahi
(she’s secretly sad that it’s dolphin,
but she’s an adult now).

The next day I hammer a poem
Into Microsoft Word
And wait for lunch
Where I sit at the grown-up table,
Away from young cousins
(who think they’re twenty one).

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