Random Thoughts

What I Find Fascinating About Poetry

When done right, poetry teaches you without forcing you to learn.

A great poem doesn't try to attach a bridle to the reader and lead them through a desert like a cowboy would his horse. A great poem invites a reader to ride alongside the writer, to travel with them, allows a reader to learn from their insight and see their world via metaphor and musicality.

So…what do you find fascinating about poetry?


Yet another disjointed idea…

…for a poem or story or whatever the hell it will end up becoming.

Please stop – these ideas are arriving too fast for me to handle, especially while keeping my attention deficit in mind. I'm becoming way too disorganized with these scraps of paper, doodles, post-it notes, pieces of napkins, whatever I can jot a phrase down on at the time. Maybe I can put these ideas to good use during April for National Poetry Month…

Flame: The Lost Art of Listening

“The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” –Alfred Brendel

I am usually a decent listener. But yesterday I missed a statement by a co-worker that could’ve saved me two extra hours of work. Which would have translated to more time to write, workout, do errands, etc. I will never get those two hours back.

People don’t listen. They fail to keep their ears and eyes open, and this can leave them out of the game. Listening is like intelligence; everyone thinks they’re above average, even though that’s impossible.

We focus on formulating their response rather than listening to someone’s complete thoughts. Or fidgeting with smartphones instead of committing to conversation. Or passing judgement on the front end of a compound statement, not letting a person get to part where they agree with our sentiments.

I’m not pretending that I’m a perfect listener – as admitted at the start of this post, I fall into these traps, too. But I see this whole thing as the biggest bit of folly in modern society.

I get it - life is busy. It whirls by faster each day, and we never have a chance to catch up. We try to accomplish a billion things at once, and sometimes it works out. But active, effective listening isn’t something you can do on the fly. It requires a devoted, conscious effort.

The point of this rant - I am rededicating myself to shutting up and listening. I believe it will help me in my daily life, as well as enhance my writing. Will you join me on this endeavor?

Flame: The Snare of Style

I don’t want a style. Or I don’t want to be defined by a particular style. It’s taken years to evolve to this viewpoint, but I prefer each writing project, big or small, to invent itself without preset limits.

Once a writer determines what his or her style is, they are finished. Because then they’ve defined their own boundaries and subconsciously resist crossing them. They hear the voice of restriction resonating inside their heads louder than the voice of creativity. At that point they might as well tap out.

So I want to believe that I don’t have a style. I have poems and books and stories and undefined literary blobs that develop on their own and discover their own voice - their voice, not mine. And I want to maintain this blissful illusion until I die.

The Difference Between Honesty and Brutal Honesty.

There's an old story (not sure if it is 100% true, just reciting what I learned from a book) about Soviet and British diplomats meeting in 1941, when World War Two was looking very bleak for both countries. Tensions were running high as the Germans were approaching Moscow and the Soviets were convinced the British weren't sending them enough help.

The British presented their figures on their war production and why there could be no greater help for the Soviets from them that year.

The Soviet response was, "Your figures are lies."

The meeting broke down in acrimony.

When the conference reconvened after the threat of a British walkout, the Soviets presented figures on their own war production.

The British response was, "I wonder if you could check those figures as they don't tally with the ones we have previously seen."

The conference proceeded and the Soviets admitted there had been an “error” in the calculation of some of their figures.

After the conference, the chief Soviet negotiator met with the British representative and congratulated him on the successful conclusion of negotiations. He asked him why he hadn't called the Soviet statistics lies.

“I did,” said the British negotiator.


In writing as well as in life, the difference between honesty and brutal honesty can be the difference between winning a reluctant soul over to your side or repelling someone from your cause forever. Understand the difference, and you can call someone a liar without them even knowing it.


Yet another disjointed idea…

…for a poem or story or rant or whatever the hell it will end up becoming. 

Please stop – these ideas are arriving too fast for me to handle, especially keeping my insomnia and attention deficit in mind. Not to mention the overtime I’ve been working. I'm becoming way too disorganized with these scraps of paper, post-it notes, pieces of napkins, whatever I can jot a phrase down on at the time.


My story is the autobiography of a busted jukebox, with its soundtrack of contemplation and reluctant silence and an unfulfilled desire to croon ballads it doesn’t have the voice to sing. I sit unused in backrooms where jokers are still wild, philosophers sit atop barstools, and bad advice flows sweeter than any liquor poured in excess.

Flame: “How We Write About Love”

Happy Corporate Sponsored Synthetic Romance for Profit Day. Believe me…I'm not anti-love, but I am against the systematic pimping of love to spike revenues for no truly logical reason during mid-February.

On this Valentine’s Day, here are some keen observations on how we write about love, from Daniel Jones, who edits the “Modern Love” column for The New York Times. Enjoy.


Spark: Find a Balance Between the Internet and Life

Bloggers get a plate as Jane Friedman provides some food for thought: “10 Resolutions for a Saner Internet—and Life.”

This piece vividly describes the balance many people seek between the lure of the internet and the pull of our creative endeavors. It is easy to struggle with determining how much time and energy to dedicate to social media, blogs, web surfing, et al. Maybe this article could provide a kickstart for finding your own personal blueprint to an equilibrium between the net and the real world.

Brief Update.

My life has gotten too busy, how about yours? And money’s tight, of course, so I can’t turn down overtime and opportunities at the day job. Writing endeavors have to move over for a little while during weeks like these. So here I sit, constantly seeing things I’d love to spend more time doing and unable to make it happen.

Now I understand why poets and writers are always talking about retreats and colonies and such. One of these days I’m going to apply for one of those things. I’ll put that on my to-do list. Oh look, that makes it number 1,482...

Submission Addiction.

The only news is that I fear I have become addicted to sending poems and stories out. I've been doing it almost every day. I took special joy in sending out a number of print submissions. The downside to all this is that I haven't been writing as much as I probably should.

As in the past, I have rediscovered a bunch of poems and stories that I forgot about after writing. Some of those are getting slapped around a bit and then put into envelopes or emails and shipped away. Hopefully this all results in a lot of future posts about my work being published in journals. A man can dream…