You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2007.

Every now and then, a writer writes something another writer covets.  I read something like that today on Ken Otterbourg’s blog.  He said,

“Have a safe and fun Labor Day. Don’t drink and drive, and if you drink and grill, please use a potholder.”

Read “Three-day Weekend” here.

When we look critically at the many thoughts and feelings that fill our minds and hearts, we may come to the horrifying discovery that we often choose death instead of life, curse instead of blessing. Jealousy, envy, anger, resentment, greed, lust, vindictiveness, revenge, hatred … they all float in that large reservoir of our inner life. Often we take them for granted and allow them to be there and do their destructive work.

But God asks us to choose life and to choose blessing. This choice requires an immense inner discipline. It requires a great attentiveness to the death-forces within us and a great commitment to let the forces of life come to dominate our thoughts and feelings. We cannot always do this alone; often we need a caring guide or a loving community to support us. But it is important that we both make the inner effort and seek the support we need from others to help us choose life.

After careful deliberation, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature has nominated the following writers and poets for Best of the Web 2007. Check out their fine work.


Clamming in January” by John McCaffrey

Death’s Janitor” by Andrew Killmeier



Among the Missing” by Pris Campbell (scroll down)

Fireflies” by Jenni Russell (scroll down)

Ghost Child” by Jayne Pupek (scroll down)

Lunch” by Carter Monroe (scroll down)

reflections on artistic inspiration gone awry” by Terry Lowenstein (scroll down)

Mountain Verse” by Sam Rasnake (scroll down)


According to the rules, each poem or story must have been first published or appeared on the web between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007.

God says, “I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

“Choose life.” That’s God’s call for us, and there is not a moment in which we do not have to make that choice. Life and death are always before us. In our imaginations, our thoughts, our words, our gestures, our actions … even in our nonactions. This choice for life starts in a deep interior place. Underneath very life-affirming behaviour I can still harbour death-thoughts and death-feelings. The most important question is not “Do I kill?” but “Do I carry a blessing in my heart or a curse?” The bullet that kills is only the final instrument of the hatred that began being nurtured in the heart long before the gun was picked up.

for Tony’s cousin,
who“ made it” out safely

Frustration as old as New Orleans,
where race was the unspoken issue, keeps
those who could not leave, after Katrina.

Shame grows
among the masses,
huddled in the mud and the urine,
the stench of death in torrid attics,
impatience and hunger, amid
the beatings and the suicides,
(to say nothing of
the drownings, explosions, and fires).  Too much water:
Humiliation floats in a woman’s hurried pee—

on the sidewalk, where she’s hidden only by a dying plant,
and a gentleman, whom she thinks to thank,
diverts his tired eyes, in the begging for
a bottle of water for one’s dying father, who is ninety,
only to be denied, lacking his physical presence,
and in the floods that glisten in the sun while being
transformed into sewer-water.
The poor left their everything at the levee,

that is, if they could leave, they left everything—
in the place where their ancestors were beaten,
after being “sold south,” then freed but given
nothing but Jim Crow. And now there’s nothing
but heat and shit here by the river’s mouth.
Somehow the hell goes on and on.  (Hell
being three babies, dying in the Superdome.)

Did folks not deserve better than
the armed police, who waved guns and
herded them like slaves or black pigs?  A bus
overturned on its tardy way to the Promised Land:
Redemption being, once again, denied.  But somehow—

somehow the folks who make it will “make a life”:
Find purgatory where there used to be hell.
In the Big Easy (after many prayers),
they knew that life was good,


first published in Washing the Color of Water Golden: A Hurricane Katrina Anthology

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too.


Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe can.


i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are,the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef,but the wrod as a wlohe.Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.


found on The Candles, so go ahead, copy it from me.  🙂

Dwayne Dail declared innocent

Dwayne Dail

News-Argus/Bobby Williams


Innocent – After 18 years in jail

“No more shackles, no more bars, no more waiting.

Dwayne Allen Dail is a free man.

This morning, more than 18 years after the Goldsboro [North Carolina] native was incarcerated for life after being convicted of first-degree burglary, first-degree sex offense, first-degree rape and taking indecent liberties with a minor, in connection with the rape of a 12-year-old girl, Wayne County Superior Court Judge Jack Hooks said the phrase Dail has longed to hear since March 30, 1989.

“Mr. Dail, you are a free man,” Hooks said.

And then the reaction came.”

Read the rest of the article.

Now seee what DNA testing can do?


I’m busy.

We are planning a trip to Missouri to visit my family. We plan to rail fan on the way there and back. On the way, after a possible stop in Knoxville, Tennessee, we plan to begin rail fanning in West Memphis, Arkansas (just across the Mississippi from the famous one in Tennessee, where Martin Luther King Jr. was martyred, Elvis still lives, and Beale Street sings) and work our way up to Thayer, Missouri and spend the night in West Plains, before heading west to Springfield and then Joplin.

After six days with my family, we plan to head north to Paola, Kansas (a few miles south of Kansas City), sit in a grave yard all day photographing trains, and then east through Missouri and north to Iowa, where we hope to see a windmill farm as well as train activity. (Michael Czarnecki has a picture of the windmill farm on his site. Scroll down. ) Then, veering off to the south and east, we’ll head home, through Missouri and probably back across part of Tennessee. Details are not complete. Dates are vague on purpose. If you have the need to know ahead of time, I’ll let you know.


Today I wrapped Christmas presents to take to Missouri. I still have two to buy, but the rest are wrapped and packed in two plastic bins, ready to pop into the car. When we get to Joplin, we’ll put them in the cabinet above the closet in the room I shared with my sister growing up. I also wrapped the one for Mummy’s box. I’ll give them to my sister-in-law to be included with theirs and my sister’s for Mummy to open Christmas morning. I got a lot done.



And since I’ll be gone for a couple of weeks, during which I hope to use zero computers, I’m working on submissions for the fall (November) Dead Mule. It will be another strong issue. In fact, that’s all we plan from here on.

We (Valerie MacEwan and I) are also working on the Mule’s nominations for Best of the Net 2007. We just about ready to announce the six poems and two stories we have chosen to nominate. More about that, probably on Friday. There are still some writers we haven’t been able to contact. But we’re trying.


I’m working on a new manuscript, whose working title is WITNESS. I’m not posting poems from WITNESS, so I can send them out for consideration for publication. One will be published on Saturday. Don’t worry; I’ll blog about that. Some of the others are just not ready.

In the meanwhile, if anyone out there is just dying to publish Prayer In the Fog, feel free to leave a comment.

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” —John Lubbock

Do you see how these four quotes are connected? And anything else you might want to say.

“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” —Frank Lloyd Wright

“To say yes,
you have to sweat
and roll up your sleeves
and plunge both hands into life up to the elbows.
It is easy to say no,
even if saying no means death.” —Jean Annouilh (Antigone)


“All the way to heaven is heaven.” —St. Catherine


“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” —Oscar Wilde

August 2007