Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life!

On Christmas morning, Tammy snuck a present onto my desk which turned out to be a mix CD with the following poem:

Merry Happy

I know your eyes in the morning
sun. Every streetlight reveals

the picture in reverse. I've been thinking
out loud again & again

& again & again. Feel the city
breaking. If I could touch your body

before this river becomes an ocean.
And fall on my face on somebody's

new mown-lawn. Come on baby
I'm tired of talking. Dancing at discos,

eating cheese on toast. Was it suddenly
I was lost in the lakes and the shapes

that your body makes? You've been
as constant as a Northern Star. The brightest

light that shines. Feeling your sweet
face, buckets of moonbeams

in my hands. That's where it's at.
I think there's something

you should know: Summer nights
and my radio. That's all we need, baby.

This poem (which rocks!) is actually a cento, which is a poem comprised of lines from the mix CD she made me. Here are the songs on the CD:

1. "Stayin' Alive," by Bee Gees
2. "Faith (Remastered 2006)," by George Michael
3. "A Little Less Conversation (JXL Radio Edit Remix)," by Junkie XL
4. "Merry Happy," by Kate Nash
5. "Pumpkin Soup," by Kate Nash
6. "How Deep Is Your Love," by The Bird and the Bee
7. "Again & Again," by The Bird and the Bee
8. "Lasso," by Phoenix
9. "Your Rocky Spine," by Great Lake Swimmers
10. "Freedom! '90 (Remastered 2006)," by George Michael
11. "Daydream," by The Lovin' Spoonful
12. "That's Where It's At," by Sam Cooke
13. "Nightswimming," by R.E.M.
14. "Right Down the Line," by Gerry Rafferty
15. "Summer Nights," by Van Halen
16. "Pretty Persuasion," by R.E.M.
17. "Let Go," by Frou Frou
18. "Buckets of Rain," by Wendy Bucklew
19. "Let's Do It Again," by The Staple Singers
20. "Little Ghost," by The White Stripes

An awesome mix! And while I was listening to this awesome mix (for like the 3rd time) on my way up to grab the boys in Ohio, I decided to write a response poem for Tammy's birthday, which is on December 29.

I can watch a sun set

You, I cannot judge. I know all the games you play,
because I play them too. You can tell by the way I use

my walk. The fear of getting caught, the recklessness
of water. Forever is a long, long time when you've lost

your way. Heaven knows I was just a young boy, and
the mountains said I could find you here. You said it,

and you wrote it down: You might overlook your heart
beating fast and knowing time will pass but hoping

that it lasts. Goddamn, I've been dreaming since I woke
up today. Don't you know I like the smile on your

fingertips, the way you move your hips, that cool way
you look at me? I'm the only one that sees you.

Leave your things behind, your confusion. You know the door
to my very soul. This is my way of telling you

this is stupid and perfect. I just want your kiss,
sweet love in the midnight. The moon is low tonight.


Since Christmas was last week, I figured now was the perfect time to unleash my Top 10 Christmas Movie/Special list. After all, we're all getting together tonight at my father-in-law's house to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve. We're a little late and a little on time.

Here's my Top 10:

10. Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas. Sentimental favorite with awesome music.

9. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This is my favorite of the Rankin/Bass specials, but I love them all, whether it's The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, The Year Without a Santa Claus, or even the wacky Rudolph's Shiny New Year (a good one for tonight actually).

8. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. So many great scenes in this movie and quotes: "Don't throw me down, Clark."; "Merry Christmas! Shitter was full."; and my favorite "Squirrel!"

7. Miracle on 34th Street. This is one of the classics. A man who may or may not be Santa Claus. And it has Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Any Christmas special narrated by Boris Karloff has to be special, right? Well, this one is.

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Everyone knows what a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree looks like, and Linus Van Pelt gives a great speech on what Christmas is all about. Plus, this is a Christmas special in which not one gift is given (though many are requested and desired) outside of a Merry Christmas.

4. A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens wrote the essential Christmas story. How many versions of this story exist now? As far as movies go, I love nearly every version, including that cool 3D one that's in theaters now. If you haven't checked it out yet, the Mr. Magoo cartoon version is actually very exceptional.

3. A Christmas Story. Even after this movie played on our television for 24 straight hours, I still love this tale about Ralphie and his coveted Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle. From decoding radio commercials about Ovaltine to receiving major awards (aka, electric sex in the front window), nothing says Christmas like this movie...well, except I like these other two movies just a tad more.

2. Love Actually. Actually, most (maybe all) Christmas movie/special lists exclude this movie, though I'm not sure why. Maybe because it has an R rating. But if you're in the mood for an adult Christmas movie, this is a great one. Multiple plot lines, lots of love, and an ending that makes me tear up.

1. It's a Wonderful Life! The. Best. Movie. Ever. Made. Not only is this a wonderful Christmas movie; this is a wonderful story on how to live one's life. George Bailey always does the right thing, and even when times turn darkest, he thinks of the welfare of others above his own. And then, he gets the mind-sobering gift of seeing what the world would be like without him.

Two bonus Christmas movies: Die Hard and Gremlins.


Since it's New Year's Eve, here's my favorite New Year's Eve movie: When Harry Met Sally.


Great news: I'm going to be the Featured Poet over at The Academy of American Poets discussion forum in January. I'll be answering poetry-related questions on the following topics from 1-2 p.m. on Wednesdays there:

Week 1 (1/6): Writing
Week 2 (1/13): Revising
Week 3 (1/20): Publishing
Week 4 (1/27): Marketing & Other Topics

Check it out by going to the site on the dates above or post a question anytime during the month, and I'll pop in to answer it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bring on 2010!

Okay, it's that time of year many people (myself included) look back and forward to figure out what went right (or wrong) and what to change or attempt next. I'm going to look back in a future post on this blog, since there's still a week left for anything to happen. In this post, I'm going to look forward.

Here are some goals I'd like to accomplish in 2010:

  1. Write at least one poem every day of 2010. I already write more than 100 poems each year for the Poetic Asides blog, but I plan to write and share a poem a day on this blog.
  2. Get a collection of poems published. This goal may be very difficult to accomplish, and who knows? I may even go the self-publishing route if all else fails. But this is my big goal.
  3. Get back into the shape I was in around May. As some of you may know, May is when I was in the best shape I'd been since college. It's also when I lost consciousness, quit breathing, turned crayon blue, and nearly died--for unspecified reasons (the cardiologists thought it was my brain; the neurologists thought it was my heart). Much of the second half of 2009 has been a struggle for me as I've suffered a depression of sorts wondering "what if this" and "what if that," but the great thing about the New Year is that it gets me in the mood to move on and forget the past.
  4. Run a few road races. I wanted to do this in 2009 but only ended up running the Peachtree Road Race (10k on July 4th in the ATL). That was fun, and I want to have more fun running races in 2010.
  5. Improve the quality of Writer's Market and Poet's Market for the 2011 editions. This is always a goal. With a new database that's entering it's first full production cycle, I think this is possible. Plus, I think I've got some great articles assigned for the front of the books.
  6. Spend less time working. I often felt guilty if I was only working 50 hours a week in 2009 and often ended up working as much as 60 or 70 hours a week (and sometimes still feeling guilty when I put in those hours). That's not healthy, so 2010 will be spent trying to be more productive in less time.
  7. Create a website. I admit that I often know the best way to do things, but that I'm sometimes slow to adopt my own very good advice. I should've created a personal website years ago, but 2010 will work better than 2011, I guess.
  8. Write fiction. This (and not poetry) used to be my strong suit. I won cash prizes in college and would spend hours upon hours each day typing and outlining stories, figuring out characters, etc. I have several story ideas stuffed in the back of my current composition notebook that I use for my poetry. I need to write these stories down in 2010.
  9. Create a bookazine on getting published for Writer's Digest. This is an assignment and a goal. I'm pretty excited about putting it together and am sure it'll be the best bookazine on getting published ever released. More details as they come.
  10. Travel more. Tammy and I recently had to abort a trip to Tennessee to visit my mother and grandmother in Dandridge. We ended up in a pizza shop in historic Marietta, Georgia, where we read our horoscopes in a local paper. Tammy's said to look into more education in 2010; mine said to travel. Good idea.

Knowing me, I may add to this list later, but this seems like a good starting point.


I've been interviewed twice recently by these folks:

Interviews are always fun, whether I'm interviewing or being interviewed. Thanks to Didi and Paul!


Finally, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Unmanly Music: A Countdown (of sorts)

Raise your hand if you like Lady Gaga! Well, I do. (My current faves are "Paparazzi" and "Just Dance".)

Tammy told me this weekend how much she loves that I'm not afraid to like unmanly music. She claims it's because I'm secure in my manhood. I'd agree with that assessment, and, of course, it helps that I'm bigger than most men. So, who's going to say anything if I like breaking it down to Queen's "I Want to Break Free."

Here's a Top 10 list (in no particular order) of unmanly music that I like:
  1. "Stayin' Alive" Bee Gees. Sure, the subject of this song may be a little edgy, but listen to their voices. It's like thinking Mike Tyson is this bulldog in the boxing ring, but then he opens his mouth and sounds completely ludicrous.
  2. "Dancing Queen" Abba. Dancing? Queen? How about this lyric, "You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only 17." Yeah, I don't think too many manly men are going to be caught in public dancing to this. But still, it's catchy.
  3. "Don't Feel Like Dancin'" Scissor Sisters. Actually, men seem to hide from songs with dancing in the title as if they're vampires and dancing songs are sunlight. Most manly men need at least a few brewskies in 'em before they can even think about the dance floor, but I can't help but dance whenever I hear this song.
  4. "Xanadu" Olivia Newton John & ELO. Let's face it. Boys are allowed to hang around skating rinks, but men better be there with their children. Actually, they ought to be dropping off their children and running off to watch football or work on their cars, mess around in the shop, mow their lawns, etc. Gosh, I love this song!
  5. "Careless Whisper" Wham! Straight men can't like Wham! or George Michael, right? It's some kind of algebra problem, right? Right? Well, I never was good at algebra, and I love this song. And for that matter, I love...
  6. "Faith" George Michael. "I gotta have faith, faith, faith--Baby!" Yeah, this song is so freaking catchy and not manly.
  7. "Hollaback Girl" Gwen Stefani. I like this song because I'm a sucker for a good beat, and "I ain't no hollaback girl." Is it me, or is this list getting less and less and less and less...
  8. "Summer Love" Justin Timberlake. Timberlake is like the modern day Bee Gees multiplied by the sum of Wham! and Olivia Newton John. I mean, he was in a band called Nsync, right? But yo, "I can't wait to fall in love with you; you can't wait to fall in love with me; this just can't be summer love."
  9. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" Cyndi Lauper. Yeah, you don't hear this song often in the weight room (wedged between Metallica and AC/DC). Most men don't like songs with dancing in the title, but they loathe song titles that include girls.
  10. "Material Girl" Madonna. Another "girl" song, but darn it, I've always loved this song. And quick confession: I can still remember standing in the kitchen and singing along with Madonna as a boy and telling my mom that I was going to sing like Madonna when I got older. She, of course, told me I would not. And she was right.


I had a great weekend. Tammy and I got out to a Christmas festival in Duluth. This one booth sells some awesome brunswick stew. (If you've never had this stew before, then you're really missing out. I was until being introduced to it last December.) We also got over to a used bookstore and watched a lot of football (both college and NFL).

Speaking of which, my fantasy football team missed the playoffs in our keeper league for the first time ever. Oh well. I knew my streak of making the playoffs would have to end eventually.


Speaking of manly activities, I worked on my poetry quite a bit this weekend: writing, revising, and submitting.

I also started a new hashtag on Twitter: #poetweet

I'm going to start tweeting short poems on Twitter whenever the mood strikes and include the #poetweet hashtag. If you're into poetry, I encourage you to do the same.