“Why the Frogs Sing” Accepted by WhimsicalPoet

My mom and her dad. Unknown photographer. Not sure when this was. 1947? ‘49?

Many thanks to Sara Altman, Editor of Whimsical Publications, for accepting “Why the Frogs Sing,” which is about my reaction to the death of my mother. When I got the call telling me she was dying, I had an odd sensation of lightness. Later, I woke up when it was still dark. It was a steamy Southern night, and the frogs were chorusing.

A few years ago, I heard a story on NPR about how frogs in a lake (as I recall) near the Atlanta airport were unable to chorus due to noise pollution from the planes. Because they could not produce their intimidating group noise, owls were picking them off.

My imagination connected the image of frogs borne upwards to the lightness I had felt when I first heard Mom was going. I felt many confused things about Mom’s sad life and her death during, but apparently not from, COVID. I thought of the abuse she had endured as a child, and of how hard she had tried to escape the mental illness that landed her in a home far away from me, and of how hard she had found it to socialize with us even for a short time the last time we saw her.

It seemed to me there was a parallel between the frogs’ short, desperate lives and our own, between their singing to cheat death and our efforts to give our lives meaning, and between their ends as they were borne aloft in the owls’ talons and the feeling of a lightening of burdens and at the same time an emptiness that i imagine death brought to Mom, and that I certainly felt.

This is what I tried to convey in the poem. Again, I’m grateful Editor Altman found it suitable for WhimsicalPoet, and I look forward to familiarizing myself with that publication.

Escape Wheel Has Arrived

Escape Wheel

Photo: Escape Wheel. Taken by me.

Today my copies of Escape Wheel, the 2020 anthology from great weather for MEDIA, arrived. The cover is unexpectedly lovely in the same way the poems of the preceding volume, Birds Fall Silent in the Mechanical Sea, are. I have been savoring those poems while I awaited the release of Escape Wheel, and I look forward to savoring this volume now it is on my coffee table.

I wrote about Escape Wheel and the poem I have in it, “Elephant in the Room,” here. It is appropriate that it arrived this week, just after my mother’s death, because it is about death (a significant elephant in all of our rooms) and the passing of generations. At the same time, it is strangely fun and whimsical, often recalling childhood play. I felt I took a lot of risks in writing it, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had had a hard time finding a home. I’m thankful to the readers and editors at great weather for MEDIA for embracing its eccentricity, and I hope readers of the volume will follow suit. 

“Etheree for Heather Heyer” Reposted to Honor the Struggle for Justice

5.30.20_black_lives_matter_protests_charlottesville2c_va_29Photo credit: Jake Vanaman, George Floyd protests in Charlottesville, Virginia featuring Black Lives Matter. 30 May, 2020. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Just a note to say how honored I am that Poetry South has reposted my Etheree for Heather Heyer as part of the journal’s show of support for our current national protests for justice and equality. I have written about this poem herehere, and here.

This may be a good time to add that although Heather Heyer’s is the only death connected with contemporary protests that I have written about, this is not because I am privileging the plight of white women like myself, but because I am not presumptuous enough to try to capture the pain and struggle of Black people in this country and around the world. It is truly an endless, staggering history of wrong. 

 

 

“Theda and Me” Due Out Friday, 12/13

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Soteira Press promotional photo for Horror USA.

I’m pleased to announce that my story, “Theda and Me,” which I posted about here, will be out in the anthology, Horror USA: California, from Soteira Press, on December 13th. Ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers will be available through Amazon, and possibly (via distributor IngramSpark) at other venues, though the hardcovers may be delayed.

This is the first time I’ll have been between hard covers, so that’s something. Also, though “Theda and Me” falls under the general umbrella of horror, I think of it as primarily an allegory and also historical fiction about Hollywood. The fact that the story is part of this volume tells me that the editors were eclectic in their selection, and I look forward to seeing what everyone else did. 

So if you are a horror aficionado, or know someone who is, I hope you will pick up a copy. And as always, if you read my story, let me know what you think.

 

“The Case of the Careless Cat” Is Up at Mysterical-E

52605293_1919167438208792_7056661564027305984_n                                          Photo credit: Our cat, Merlin, taken by me.

I am happy to report that my cozy, The Case of the Careless Cat, which I wrote about in my last post, is up at Mysterical-E. I invite you to go enjoy it–it’s free. I am grateful to the editor, Joseph DeMarco, for selecting it and being patient with me in the editing process.

Mysterical-E is an eclectic collection of different kinds of mystery stories, book excerpts, and columns on mystery-related subjects. I look forward to diving into this issue, and I hope you will check it out as well. 

 

“Theda and Me” Accepted for Anthology of California Horror

1280px-1933_Bugatti_Type_59_Grand_Prix_34Photo credit: 1933 Bugatti Type 59 Grand Prix. Sfoskett~commonswiki (assumed). Ralph Lauren Collection, Boston Museum of Fine Arts. 17 June 2005. Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0.

I am pleased to announce that my story, “Theda and Me,” has been accepted by the new publisher, Soteira Press, for their two-volume Horror USA: California anthology. The story is about a screenwriter who has a strange relationship with a mysterious silent-film vamp. I like the story, but it is not a typical horror story. It is also historical fiction and a philosophical meditation on the meaning of life and death. At least one place I sent it to didn’t seem to get the allegory. Hmm, “Theda LaMorte.” I wonder if that could possibly have any symbolic significance?

The most fun part of writing the story was researching early Bugatti automobiles. Just in themselves, those things were terrifying. Ettore Bugatti’s own son died testing one. If you want to see what they’re like to drive, check out this episode of Jay Leno’s Garage (he has more than one episode on Bugattis; I wanted the oldest models). Second most fun was finding out all the dirt on early Hollywood–things haven’t changed much at the scandal factory of the stars.

Anyway, I am grateful to Soteira for finding merit in the story. I will post again when it is published, and I hope you will have fun with it as well. In the meantime, I will be  enjoying familiarizing myself with the press and reading some of its output. 

 

 

 

 

 

Two More Can Poems and a Senryu up at M58

Spin—an_aggravated_stall_and_autorotation.

Graphic I created for my can poem, “Can #10: spindrift Sparkling Water”

I am happy to report that two more can poems and a “Trending Facebook Feed Senryu” are seeing the light today in M58. Many thanks to Editor Andrew Taylor, another voice pushing the poetry envelope.

This batch includes my least favorite can poem, #10, and my current favorite, lucky #13. For #10, I felt there was barely enough material there, and I feel certain some readers will come away feeling it says nothing much. Still, I think it does enough to qualify for membership in what I hope will become a chapbook of twenty-five. #13, on the other hand, has action, rich and inventive imagery, and story. Thank you, Progresso Bread Crumbs, Italian Style.

The third poem literally popped up in my Trending Facebook Feed, back when Facebook had that. I couldn’t pass up its rich, though loose and open-ended, associations.

That is the little family out today, and I am happy to think of them rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jeff Bagato’s conceptual nonsense poems, A616’s intriguing video about the Lea MarshesHolly Painter’s inventive “Cryptic Crosswords,”  and John Cope’s “Vine Stalk Poem after Camilla Nelson.” 

So if you feel you need something new in your life, head over to M58. Enjoy the poetry buffet there, and don’t forget to let the “crispy casseroles” of “Can #13” “toss your seas.”

 

Two Can Poems Out in Clockwise Cat

clockwisecat

I’m pleased to see my poems, “Can #6: Pet Pride Shredded Chicken & Salmon in Gravy” and “Can #11: Clabber Girl Double Acting Baking Powder,” out in Clockwise Cat. “Can #6” was first published in ShufPoetry and republished as part of “Erosion” in Malevolent Soap (now defunct). “Can #11” is one of my favorite can poems and says a few important things about how women are treated/constructed in America.

In the interim between when these can poems were accepted and now, I have been familiarizing myself with the previous issue. Editor Alison Ross collects energetic, cutting-edge pieces that have something critical (in every sense) to say, and say it in a challenging (in every sense) way. It is bracing and sometimes a little scary.

In addition, Ross is paying tribute–briefly in the current issue, fully in the next–to the late Felino Soriano, whose life was cut short at 44. I am not familiar with Soriano or most of his poetry, but, having now read a little of his work, I can say I deeply respect his quest for inventive poetic idioms for our time, and particularly his allegiance to the bond between poetry and music, which is ever-present in my own mind as I write poetry and too often lacking since the days when recitation was still part of every school child’s cultural education. I also know that he generously assisted other poets, including Heath Brougher, who in turn generously recognized my own work and published it in Luminous Echoes (which I discussed here, among other posts).

I am grateful to be in the same company with other poets who are pushing the poetic envelope and paying tribute to those who did so. I look forward to inspiration, encouragement, and a little intimidation from this issue of Clockwise Cat, and I encourage everyone to plunge in with me.

Photo credit: Giftgarden Black Cat Wall Clock Home Decoration for Pets Gifts. 27 Feb. 2017, Flickr Commons. PD.

“Etheree for Heather Heyer” Out in Poetry South

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Unattended pushcart advertising “frankfurts” with sauerkraut or onions, ice-cold soft drinks, and pies for 5 cents on a rain-soaked wharf.

I was pleased to receive a wonderful holiday package in the mail today: four copies of Poetry South, with my Pushcart-nominated “Etheree for Heather Heyer” among many other works I am looking forward to reading.

In the interim between my nomination and the arrival of the journal, I have been reading poems from 2017 that are published at Poetry South’s website. They couple a dreamy, lyrical sensibility with a sense of the urgent and ominous in a way that seems at once traditionally Southern and reflective of our current fraught moment in history. Although I was born and raised in the North, my mother was originally Southern, and I seem to have, perhaps through her, a taste for lyricism and a sense of tragedy that fit with strong themes running through Southern literature, from Faulkner through Tennessee Williams, and again, in different form, in Poetry South. However I acquired these, I am happy that my poem partakes of them and is out in strong, distinctive company.

Photo credit: Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Overseas Operations Branch. New York Office. News and Features Bureau. Picture Division. Exhibit Section. (1942 – 1945). Unattended pushcart advertising “frankfurts” with sauerkraut or onions, ice-cold soft drinks, and pies for 5 cents on a rain-soaked wharf. Ca. 1939. image.png PD. Wikimedia Commons.

Pushcart Prize Nomination!

Unattended_pushcart_advertising_frankfurts_with_sauerkraut_or_onions,_ice-cold_soft_drinks,_and_pies_for_5_cents_on_a_-_NARA_-_535710

Unattended pushcart advertising “frankfurts” with sauerkraut or onions, ice-cold soft drinks, and pies for 5 cents on a rain-soaked wharf

If you remember, my poem, “Etheree for Heather Heyer,” was accepted by Poetry South and will be out this month.

I am still reeling from the news that Poetry South has nominated me, along with five other poets, for a Pushcart Prize! This is the first time I have been nominated, and I am deeply grateful. The murder of Heather Heyer,  who was extraordinary yet unassuming in her kindness, is tragic both in itself and when viewed as a synecdoche for all the needless suffering under our country’s current regime. I hope this recognition of my small tribute will lead to a few more people reading it, and perhaps feeling afresh all we have lost.

 

Photo credit: Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Overseas Operations Branch. New York Office. News and Features Bureau. Picture Division. Exhibit Section. (1942 – 1945). Unattended pushcart advertising “frankfurts” with sauerkraut or onions, ice-cold soft drinks, and pies for 5 cents on a rain-soaked wharf. Ca. 1939. image.png PD. Wikimedia Commons.