Happy New Year and More Faux Haiku


Happy Western New Year! Here’s a sunrise from Clinton, Missouri (Dec. 30, 2016).

I’ve had another faux haiku accepted (see my discussion of haiku here). It will be up soon in Gnu Journal. The reason I have written yet another faux haiku is that a design company who had not gotten the memo regarding haiku purity sponsored a haiku competition requiring the 5-7-5-syllable format. I didn’t win, but I am brazenly unashamed of my effort and happy it has found a home. More when it is published. 

Poetry Reading for Luminous Echoes

Tom Daley, one of the poets published in Into the Void‘s anthology of runners-up from its poetry competition, has volunteered to host a poetry reading of all the poems in Luminous Echoes! The reading will be in Somerville, MA, in May, 2016.

I am honored to be in such good company in the volume and happy to go to this reading. I have not participated in a reading since grad school. Those readings were mostly disasters, but I’m a much better writer now. Perhaps I am ready to hang out with the cool kids.

Poem, “Reflux,” Selected for Into the Void Anthology


Some months ago I woke up thinking about an old flame and wrote it up in a poem. I find it strange how feelings occasionally flare up, refusing to acknowledge “reality” or the passage of time. The poem, “Reflux,” meditates on what motivates this and what purpose it might serve. At the end, I described my last glimpse of the former love speeding away on his bike–hence the picture here.

I submitted this poem to the new  Into the Void Magazine‘s poetry competition for a nominal sum, and though I failed to place in the top six winners and honorables (always a bridesmaid, sigh), they did put me in the top fifty and decide to include “Reflux” in an anthology, profits to go to  Pieta House, a suicide prevention and counseling charity.

On the one hand, I cannot sell the poem to anyone else now, and instead of making any money from my efforts, I will be out the contest fee and, probably, the price of a couple of copies of the anthology, though of course I am not required to buy it. On the other hand, I am sensible of the honor of being chosen even in the top fifty–I’m sure there were many more entries. I also see that Into the Void has received some good write-ups already, and chances of placing “Reflux” in a high-paying journal are slim. Finally, suicide is a terrible thing, and it’s good to be able to help, even in so small a way.

All in all, I am happy to have the poem get some recognition and serve a deserving cause. I look forward to the release of the anthology. 

Photo credit: Sascha Kohlmann, “Man on Bike; Night.” CC. https://flic.kr/p/r5gZjG. Only size has been adjusted.

“Café Noir” Is Up on Mysterical-E


My first mystery story, “Cafe Noir,” is in the latest issue of Mysterical-E. You can read it here. I’ve already talked a little about this story in an earlier post on this blog. It’s an homage to Raymond Chandler, and more generally to the noir genre.

I love noir, but it does feature hidebound gender roles, so I thought it might be fun to try to reverse these. My heroine, Marla Phillips, “barista and private eye,” is tough, no-nonsense, and smart. She’s not attached to anyone, although she is in a “strictly don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship with an homme fatal who has an apartment over the coffee shop she manages.

I chose a coffee shop to update the role of alcohol in noir because people just don’t drink quite the way they used to, and they don’t have the same attitudes toward hard-drinking tough guys like Philip Marlowe. His drinking might be viewed today as more of a problem or a weakness.

But we still love our caffeine, and we tend to view people who drink a lot of coffee as either super busy achievers or people who have a tough job that they are going to do come hell or high water, and who needs sleep anyway? So I substituted coffee for alcohol. 

I don’t know nearly as much about Los Angeles and its criminal underworld as Chandler, so I just went with what I do know, and set the story in an academic community. Also, it’s funny. It parodies noir, though never in a mean way. At one point it satirizes a hipster character. And in implementing Chandlerian metaphors I may have exaggerated their humorous aspects. 

Still, as with Chandler, there’s a murder, no one is innocent, and readers should have a fun challenge trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Enjoy!  

Photo credit:

waferboard, “Coffee Steam 2.” CC. https://flic.kr/p/cirujw. Only size has been adjusted.

Prose Poem accepted by Cacti Fur

In spring of 2015 I had a haiku published in issue 1 of Cacti Fur. I was especially happy that Jim Thompson, the poetry editor, liked the haiku because after I wrote it, I discovered that the world of haiku publications is a rarefied one, in which I felt myself something of an ignoramus. For example, while I was aware that the 5-7-5 syllable rule is a bit silly, since  it does not properly convey the constraint of the form in its native Japanese, I didn’t know that writing English haiku in the 5-7-5 format is considered gauche in haiku expert circles.

Here is an explanation: ” . . .[M]ost haiku poets in North America have become aware that 17 English syllables convey a great deal more information than 17 Japanese syllables, and have come to write haiku in fewer syllables, most often in three segments that follow a short-long-short pattern without a rigid structure” (Keiko Imaoka, “Forms in English Haiku”).

Going forward, I will certainly keep this in mind on those rare occasions when I get a wild hair to write more haiku. But in the meantime, I’m fond of my faux haiku in Cacti Fur, and proud that Jim Thompson sent me an email asking if I might have anything more to submit. For a while I didn’t, but he has now accepted another submission, a prose poem called, “My parents’ books will be the death of me.” I look forward to sharing it when it is up on the Cacti Fur site.