Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Bear in the Kitchen

New collection of some old and some new stuff out with Red Giant Books.

Just in time for me to leave the country for a month - but upon my return in November I will certianly be more than eager to book some readings.

If you're interested in hosting this crackpot poet hit me up salinger@ameritech.net

Here's the title piece:

a borrowed cabin

You don't want a bear in the kitchen
they make a terrible mess
so said the neighbor on the phone
a tiny electronic voice of caution
whose ring we almost didn't answer
because we were so sure it couldn't be for us
this not being our home
it's not their fault, you see
they are so hungry
this time of year
having drowsed through most of the winter and all
and this one's pretty aggressive
busted right into the house
across the creek from you
be careful

What does one do?
when ones place in the food chain
has been threatened
by 328 pounds of groggy
louse infested Ursus Americanus
claws capable of raking through
a refrigerator's skin
as easily as if it were the cake's frosting
the beast smells hidden behind
magnetic weather-stripped doors
canines the size of of a human forefinger
implanted in jaws endowed
with twelve hundred pound per square inch
bite force
tiny squares of glistening safety glass
from an exploded patio door
diamond dusted into matted fur
sparkling like snowflakes
in the silent moonlight
do you go onto the deck?
beat pans and pots together
turn off the lights
hide in the closet amongst the snowshoes
do you pray?
and to whom
what does one do?
when reason
and logic
and your master’s degree
in 16th century literature
are rendered useless
by a confused and frightened carnivore
scratching at
the kitchen door?           

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What comes around goes around…


Okay –

I’m no big believer in Karma – I don’t buy the notion that some blue multi armed statistician is blasting out equations in a cloud of chalk dust weighing our good deeds versus our missteps in some grand calculation deciding whether we come back as an opera singer or a sea slug.

Nonetheless – I can appreciate a good deed.

I’ve got a ring that I picked up in Bali. I wear it instead of a wedding band. A little silver mediation ring with fish skeletons carved into it. The middle spins – I’d say it’s one of a kind, except it isn’t because I have bought two of them from the same place over a couple years.

ringI lost the first iteration of this ring in the jungles of Batam – an Indonesian island off the coast of Singapore while on a mountain biking trip with the teachers from Singapore American School. I was careening through the jungle and came in contact with an immovable object in the form of a giant cluster of tree roots in the middle of the single track path. I jettisoned over my handlebars and soared through the air like an ancient Vimana. It wasn’t until I was taking the ferry ride back to civilization that I realized I had lost the ring.

Fortunately we were headed to Bali a couple months later and I was able to replace the lost ring with what I was told was the only other one in existence. (I’m thinking that it most probably was the only other one in existence until I left the store and one may have magically appeared as Sara and I zoomed off on our motorbike – but who’s to say.)

candidasaLater on this trip we went snorkeling at White Sandy Beach near Candidasa. Thanks to prior experience I had a healthy respect for the miniscule jellyfish that swarmed in clouds over the coral reefs – well if not a respect for the jellyfish themselves I had developed a reverence for their teeny tiny stinging tentacles. So when I encountered a bloom of these little demons in twenty feet of crystal clear water I thrashed my way out of the vicinity as quickly as I could. One can only wonder what kind of life they had lived to be reincarnated as nearly invisible phylum Cnidaria members.

Once clear of the little bastards I realized I had lost my ring.

jellyfish4I floated back to where I encountered the jellyfish – who had since moved on – and swam around peering through my mask hoping that I might see the ring amidst the coral. Unbelievably, I saw it glistening on the sea bottom some twenty or so feet down. I took a deep breath and started pushing down. I was astounded at the pressure and my head began to pound. I thought one would have to be much deeper to experience this. The mask pressed tighter and tighter against my face and my ears felt like they were being filled with that aerosol expanding foam insulation stuff. Another five feet deeper and I don’t think I could have made it – but luckily I was able to grab the ring and bob back up to the surface.

So – imagine my chagrin when, several months later, I left the thing in a restroom on the Pennsylvania turnpike. Fortuitously I had the Starbucks receipt from the Oakmont Service plaza in my pocket when I finally realized I had lost the ring again when I arrived at my Virginia destination. I e-mailed the PA Turnpike powers that be and informed them that I had left the ring in the restroom and figured that would be that and I would be trying to replace the thing the next time I was in Bali.


Well, the next day I received an e-mail reply. I expected it to be an automatic message saying that the PA Turnpike had received my note along with some non-committal promise of action. But, what I got was a real reply with the direct number to the plaza. I called them and someone had indeed turned my lost ring in!

pudgieSubsequently five days later we got off at the Oakmont exit – past home of Pudgie Wudgie, whose story I do not have time to go into, but you would do well to research on your own – and I got my ring back.

It took me a while to track down the manager so I have to assume it took just as long for the individual to turn the ring in to lost and found. I appreciate their effort. Hat’s off to you returner of rings found on toll road rest room sinks - may you be rewarded for your honesty and good deeds. And if I am wrong, and karma does exist – I think we can rest assured your next incarnation will not be that of a stinging jellyfish.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

back in the saddle

This summer has been a great time – lots of cycling – lots of relaxing – lots of fun.
But, it’s time to get back to work and to dust off this blog. I promise to try and keep more up to date and not let Facebook keep me away from here.

Sara and I are so looking forward to getting back into the classroom – we’ve already done some work with teachers in San Antonio –  and now we are planning our return to classroom.

smallbearI will have a new collection of poems under my wing – A Bear in the Kitchen – takes some of my previously published stuff and mixes in some new will be out in conjunction with Red Giant Books.

I’ve also got some new kids stuff that came out in the Poetry Friday anthologies  edited by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell with more forthcoming in Silvia and Janet's Poetry Friday STEM collection.

We also have a new teacher resource coming out from the fine folks at Corwin Press. High Impact Writing Clinics – is a collection of twenty lessons aimed at the teacher looking to improve literacy and writing while still nodding to the CCSS. We even have a Facebook page – swing by and give us a thumbs up if you are so inclined.

But most exciting of all – is we are going to Africa!

Sara and I will be visiting schools in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana and also presenting at the AISA conference (African International School Association). We couldn’t be looking more forward to this.

We take off at the end of the month and spend just about four weeks on the continent – so stay tuned for more poetic adventures.