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I have a poem, “When Trees Pop,” just published if Fried Chicken and Coffee.

See the poem here.

Thanks you editor,  Rust Barnes.

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.

emphasis mine


Through the darkness
We can find a pathway
That will take us half way
To the stars.

Through the rain and fog
We can find a clear day
Shoo the shadows and doubts away
And touch the legacy that is ours.

Yours and mine
And our children’s
For all time.

Just honor him
Honor him
And every fear
Will be a thing of the past.

America, America
We’re headed home
We’re headed home
At last.

Just honor him
Honor him
And on the reefs of despair
We shall not crash.

We’re sailing home
Sailing home
We’re headed home
Headed home
At last.

Written by: Orrin Hatch and Phil Springer

As we grow older we have more and more people to remember, people who have died before us. It is very important to remember those who have loved us and those we have loved. Remembering them means letting their spirits inspire us in our daily lives. They can become part of our spiritual communities and gently help us as we make decisions on our journeys. Parents, spouses, children, and friends can become true spiritual companions after they have died. Sometimes they can become even more intimate to us after death than when they were with us in life.

Remembering the dead is choosing their ongoing companionship.

emphasis mine

File:Ted Kennedy, official photo portrait crop.jpg

“Death often happens suddenly. A car accident, a plane crash, a fatal fight, a war, a flood, and so on. When we feel healthy and full of energy, we do not think much about our deaths. Still, death might come very unexpectedly.

How can we be prepared to die? By not having any unfinished relational business. The question is: Have I forgiven those who have hurt me and asked forgiveness from those I have hurt? When I feel at peace with all the people I live with, my death might cause great grief, but it will not cause guilt or anger.

When we are ready to die at any moment, we also are ready to live at any moment.”

emphasis mine

When we lose a dear friend, someone we have loved deeply, we are left with a grief that can paralyse us emotionally for a long time. People we love become part of us. Our thinking, feeling and acting are codetermined by them: Our fathers, our mothers, our husbands, our wives, our lovers, our children, our friends … they are all living in our hearts. When they die a part of us has to die too. That is what grief is about: It is that slow and painful departure of someone who has become an intimate part of us. When Christmas, the new year, a birthday or anniversary comes, we feel deeply the absence of our beloved companion. We sometimes have to live at least a whole year before our hearts have fully said good-bye and the pain of our grief recedes. But as we let go of them they become part of our “members” and as we “re-member” them, they become our guides on our spiritual journey.

When I got Collin Kelley’s novel Conquering Venus, I told him I’d try to write a review, but I did not promise one.  I  had decided to post a short review (long paragraph) on, but thought I’d first create an account and get the other two reviews I’d written (on Amazon) all together on one page. I had a plan.

I created an account, posted a picture and personal information, only to find when I logged in I couldn’t post a review to the “new” account without first buying a book from”that” account.  Not to be bullied, I figured it would be straightened out by the next day, but no.  No posting without buying a book.  Looks like I have to pay to review Collin’s book!  I think not.

If I had to find a place to publish,  I might as well write a full review, not just a paragraph.  Reviews are supposed to be win-win (good for the author of the book and the reviewer).  I started writing and asked Collin for suggestions as to where I might publish it.  He said Good Reads.  Of course, I don’t have an account there, and I’d already messed up two accounts in two days.  Okay.  Write the review, then figure it out.

In the meantime Val MacEwan, Dead Mule editor, posted on Blogcritics a book review of the book she showed off at the Mule Reading in Washington, Vanished by Joseph Finder.  Hmmmm.  So I applied as a writer at Blogcritics, sent writing samples – links to my self-published online poetry chapbook, Kaleidoscope World,  and my review (go to pp. 71-72) of Scott OwensFractured World, published in The Centrifugal Eye – and finished the review.  Collin thought Blogcritics would be a fine place for a review.  But would I be accepted?

Tuesday morning I found the e-mail in my inbox: I was accepted and was expected to respond when I had read and understood the “rules” for posting at Blogcritics.  Then I was to post with 24 hours.  The printed e-mail was about six pages long, so it took an hour or so to understand the rules.  I sent the e-mail and logged on.

After uploading my picture and bio, I began uploading the review itself.  Blogcritics is easier to use than I had envisioned.  The review looks great.  Proofreading showed only one error (mine) that the editors quickly fixed.

Now I have a home at Blogcritics for reviews or opinions, but Red Room is another story for another day.  My account on Red Room is in very bad shape.

My book review of Collin Kelley‘s debut novel Conquering Venus on Vanilla Heart Press has been published at Blogcritics.

“Shortly after Irene and Martin meet, they “sit on the balcony for hours … discussing art and poetry, dancing around their true selves, the strange desire to confess deep secrets.” (p. 45) But why? Away from the confines of home and with alcohol flowing to remove inhibition, the characters become free to ignore convention. Or are they now free to explore it?”  Read the entire review

Kelley is also a poet.  In fact, he’s been published in the Dead Mule.

Read Collin Kelley’s poems in the Mule.

Somehow it seems a bit ironic—in a country that prides itself with the right to own and carry weapons—that Congress needs to concern itself with injuries from big bags.  If “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” then bags don’t kill people either.

But  Congressman Dan Lipinski (D- Ill) wants Congress to rule on the size of airplane carry-ons.  “Supporters of the proposal say jumbo bags are a safety hazard that could cause injury if they tumble from the overhead bin. And they’re unfair to the final passengers to board, who often find no room left for their own carry-ons.”  Read more

And this from a Democrat.    How about ruling to give passengers enough room for legs and a decent sized bag, since one never knows just how long he/she might be stuck on  plane and need something to do, important medications,  or an extra roll of toilet paper?  Or limit the size and number of guns one can have?  Or pass Obama’s Health Care package?

August 2009