Monday, April 29, 2019

la de, freakin’, da


I just heard the news

you got your M - F - A
well, la de, freakin’, da

your commitment to the craft has been cemented
by amassing unbearable, unending debt,
to be endured through a string of dead-end jobs
enabling you to write poems that confuse the masses
while sucking up to annoyingly presumptuous critics

you've got that stash of words
that few understand and fewer use 
to be meted out one or two per poem

faded, forgotten chapbooks
will litter your home, car, and backpack
as you anxiously anticipate the next time
you will see your name
in some obscure, yet thereby elitist, publication
to impress your parents and
be read by those few, now distant, friends 
you met while at school
to get your M - F - A

Thursday, March 21, 2019

maybe nowhere


the shortest distance
may have been a challenge
but was always the preferred
and expected path

cutting yards, hopping
fences, dodging traffic
stealth and timing
were imperative

movements adjusted to
ensure avoidance of hawk-eyed,
cranky, blue-haired neighbors
or the occasional police cruiser

to race or meander
going wherever, whenever
or maybe
nowhere at all

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Y're Out!

Porter was a mean somabitch. Old-timers said he made Cobb look like a choirboy. Put two in the hospital, one ‘bout died. Suspensions, Anger Management, 12 Steps, maybe he got religion. Commissioner said, “Last chance!”

Vegas had a line on how long he’d survive. Late August, he’s flirting with 400. It’s baseball, the world of redemption and miracles.

Blazing, sweaty afternoon. He’s up in the eighth, one for three. Swings early at first and low at the next. Ump calls third strike and is ravaged by a flailing bat. Benches freeze. Cops wrestle Porter off the field…for the last time.


extra info:
My micro-fiction (short, short story) placed 3rd in the Cascadia Weekly 2019 contest (March 6, 2019 edition). For details and more stories follow this link: Cascadia Weekly Fiction 101




Saturday, March 2, 2019

Worry No More


I’m turning 65 in a few, too short days.
Another of those seeming inevitable happenings,
a lesson in the passing of time,
the stages of life,
and, oh yes,
a reminder of my begrudging lack of control.

I stand at the intersection of, “I don’t want to die”
and the certainty that, “I don’t want to live forever.”
You know, trying to choose between my fears of pain
or that dwindling “quality of life” business.

One thing I ask. And I hope it’s not too much.
If there is any possibility,
please, don’t let death have its way
while in the midst of this political sewer.
I mean I’ve got kids and grandkids.
And I’d like to think I could have the peace
of leaving them in a better place,
with a whisper of hope,
when I say that last goodbye
and cross over to that place
where I hope to worry no more.

February 2019

Read at SpeakEasy 23 - March 2, 2019





Saturday, December 8, 2018

2018 in the rear view mirror


Books, movies, podcasts and music challenge, teach, encourage, enrich and refresh my daily life. Following is my attempt to note those that made a difference for me in 2018. Lists are not is priority order.

BOOKS I read by the fireplace in the living room, in bed for a few minutes before falling asleep, at coffee shops, while waiting for appointments and on summer camping trips (maybe my favorite reading setting). Here are 12 that found a way to dig deeper into my skin, psyche and soul. Included is a one-sentence (and hopefully not an extreme run-on) commentary for each title. You follow my reading via Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7794273-jim

Southernmost by Silas House


Southernmost - Silas House. I’m a sucker for a story that breathes the 
There There by Tommy Orangespiritual/faith/life journey from law to grace. 





There There - Tommy Orange. Native Americans on a “I can hardly breathe” quest driven by love, history, family, fear, rage and hope through urban chaos toward an unspeakable conclusion. (NYT Top 10 & Library Journal Best Books of 2018)

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka


Hey, Kiddo - Jarrett Krosoczka. A graphic memoir reflecting on a childhood journey through emotional and physical land mines with the support of (quirky) grandparents toward a (much) better life.
The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton


Sun Does Shine: How I found Life and Freedom on Death Row – Anthony Ray Hinton. A true story (that shouldn’t need to be true) of wrongful conviction, our brutally flawed justice system and gracious, tenacious perseverance to overcome.



      So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

      So You Want To Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo. I have a lot to learn and this book is an amazing teacher.





      Not That Bad by Roxane Gay
      Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture - Roxanne Gay. First person essays that bleed and pulse raw reality through stories often hidden, avoided and ignored. 


      Educated by Tara Westover



        Educated – Tara Westover. A story of growing up in a family dominated by religious excess, reactive paranoia and cultural escape to finding herself and her place in the greater world. (NYT Top 10)
        The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks



        The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Go ahead, read this book and message me every time you have it figured out…and then, let me know when you are finished.

        Hang Time by Elgin Baylor


        Hang Time: My Life in Basketball - Elgin Baylor. I knew Baylor was a great player, but I didn’t know much of his life both within and beyond the game.

        Disrupting Poverty by Kathleen M. Budge



        Disrupting Poverty: Five Powerful Classroom Practices – Kathleen Budge and William Parrett. “I love this book, it affirms my prejudices.” I have used that line as a half joke for years, no joke this time. (okay, that’s two sentences)
        American Like Me by America Ferrera



        American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures – American Ferrera. 31 essays explore the questions of the day, “Who is American?” “What does it mean to be an American?” and much more.
        Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

        Dear Girl – Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Paris Rosenthal. A perfect book for our annual camping trip of playing, laughing, sharing, learning and growing with our Granddaughters.



        _____________________________________________________

        MOVIES To be honest MoviePass may have enabled me to see more movies in theaters in 2018 than in the past decade. Special thanks to the Pickford Film Center for keeping independent movies thriving in Bellingham https://www.pickfordfilmcenter.org/

        • Eighth Grade I have worked with young people in some fashion for 40 plus years and this movie bridges the current realities with freshness and life.
        • Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Fred Rogers wasn’t perfect, but he was better than we deserved and this film proves it.
        • First Reformed – I worked much of my life in ministries making this an almost too real view of the struggles of life and systems.
        • Crazy Rich Asians – Fresh, fun, warm and engaging for a great date night with Connie.
        • BlacKKKlansman – Perfect Spike Lee story telling with an unforgettable punch that should be shown to every high school student in America.
        • RBG – Wow, long may she live lead and serve!
        • Three Identical Strangers –Complex and compelling with more questions than answers.
        • Christopher Robin – “Say What You See,” has become our new favorite game while riding in the car with our Granddaughter, Kairi. 
        • The Rider – Bloody, dusty, raw, true, human and transcendent.
        • Hearts Beat Loud – Great father/daughter coming of age story, but, “Who is coming of age?”
        • Juliet Naked – Affirms my hope that life is more about redemption than karma.
        _____________________________________________________

        MUSIC I have eclectic interests musically but when it comes to favorites I’m usually found in the Americana, Roots streams with merging of diverse styles. This fusion can be seen by the concerts Connie and I attended this year.
        • Rosanne CashIt was a dream come true for me to hear her, and her multi-talented husband John Leventhal, at the Mount Baker Theater playing a stripped down acoustic set.
        • Bruce Cockburn – We took our sons and daughter-in-laws for a near sacred Schmotzer family memory lane evening.  

        • Mavis StaplesMavis, at 79, took us to church, no it was better than church, well maybe it was what I wish church would be.
        • Taylor SwiftShouldn’t all grandparents take their granddaughters to see Taylor at Century Link? 


        • Lyle LovettWe have cherished memories of seeing Lyle with family and friends over three decades and this, an anniversary weekend and first trip to Chateau St Michelle, did not disappoint.

        • I’m With HerWhen Sara Watkins began collaborating with Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan as I’m With Her I knew something special was happening and this concert proved it true, very true.

        ____________________________________________________

        PODCASTS

        Over the years I transitioned from being a runner to jogger, to plodder and now a walker and my current work includes a daily commute. Fortunately podcast have blossomed in the same era.
        • Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me – Amazing cast and quirky trivia combine for my kind of fun!
        • Malcom Gladwell Revisionist History – Looking deeper into little known or rarely remembered events and situations that have continuing importance and value.
        • Disgraceful – True crime stories from the world of rock and roll.
        • NPR Daily Politics – Recapping the politics of the day, if you can take it (if I can take it).
        • The Bible for Normal People – An attempt to explore the Bible with new eyes.
        • Code Switch – Honest, and at times humorous, examination of race and identity.
        • 30 for 30 – Proof that sports is about people and stories more than points and competition.
        • The Axe Files – Conversations that humanize politicians and politics.
        • You Make It Weird – Let’s see, scatological humor leads to stream of conscious conversation ending with honest exploration of perceptions and practices related to God.



        I wish shalom for you all each new year and each new day.