Saturday, February 27, 2010

Love Letter to Atlanta

I'm listening to The Bird and the Bee right now, which is how I arrived at my blog post title. That and the fact I will be headed back home tomorrow afternoon/evening. Long drive, here I come; I can't wait to get back home to my awesomely awesome wife who is super awesome. Want some blog post theme music?

Yeah, I've been raving about this band for a while, but I can't seem to get myself sick of 'em...yet.


Here are my two latest 2010 poem-a-day challenge poems:

057-The animal world

Let me speak of the world outside
as if it is an animal
scraping the back door and howling
into the wind, "Let me in; let
me in." Dare I rise and open
the door? What if the animal
is hungry and wants to eat me?
What if it leaves without me? Will
another come to take its place?

058-Young general

Remove the heads
of toy soldiers
because they won't
argue their fate.

Demonstrate your
blunt knife, how it
must cut until
something is done.

Always, there must
be something done.


If you write (and when you write), do you do so with an audience in mind? I always write with an audience in mind, but that audience changes depending upon the goals I have for my writing. For instance, I write newsletters for and Poet's Market with an eye toward helping writers get their writing published (and, of course, to highlight the benefits of using Writer's Digest products and services). When I write my poetry, I am most concerned with what amuses me. In other words, I am the audience for my poetry. That said, I don't try to publish most poems I write.

When I try to place poems, I essentially try acting as a matchmaker between my poems and an audience that may be receptive to them. I don't think any poets (not blinded by their own delusions of grandeur) are ever 100% sure that what they've written will be well-received a publication's editor and/or readership. But I do wonder how many poets think about editors or target audiences as they compose their poems.

As mentioned earlier, I do picture a target audience when I write nonfiction, but I have trouble doing the same with poetry. Is it because I view poetry as art? Maybe.


If you want, you can easily follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Interested in publishing your poetry? Check out the 2010 Poet's Market, edited by me. (Click to continue.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tomorrow's just a few minutes away

Today was a day in which I came armed with a To-Do list, and a determination to hit the ground running by crossing things off my To-Do list. Unfortunately, our servers were down when I got into work this morning and the one program I needed to work to do more than half my To-Do list didn't get operational until literally minutes after I left the building (I just caught up with my e-mail using our webmail system). Ugh!

But such is life when you work for a media company, and if you're serious about doing a good job, then the only thing you can do is let go of Thursday and attack Friday with a renewed sense of purpose. Because Friday is the only thing between me and another weekend with Ben and Jonah (and then, a--hopefully--uneventful trip back down home to Duluth, GA).


Picked the boys up from their busstop today. They were super thrilled to see me. Then, we went out to see a movie, which was a nice treat (both for them and for me). We watched a Jackie Chan family movie (think it was called The Spy Next Door maybe?). It was cute.

While I was waiting for the boys, I read from an advance copy of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Ecco), which is due for release March 2, 2010. This is really an awesome anthology--with poems from all over the world (from Pakistan to Chile and from Poland to Korea)--and it includes known (to me) quantities like Lorca, Neruda and Milosz, but then also so many who I have never read before.

In fact, this anthology inspired my poem for today:


The deeper
meaning is this
bare tree branch
that lost its leaves.

Now snow swirls
around the branch
but its leaves
will grow again.

The exposed
nest will hide and
hatch bird songs
for spring once more.


If you want one more person to follow on Twitter, find me @robertleebrewer


If you're interested in becoming a writing VIP, click here to learn about the best offer Writer's Digest has ever made.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

15 Poems & other stuff

Wow! 15 poems in one post? I have been writing my poem-a-day for 2010, but I didn't realize I was neglecting to share them that much. Apparently, this will be a chapbook-length post. But first, I wanted to share a few tunes from a band I'd never heard before last night. They're called the Mystery Jets, and I like these two songs from them: "Young Love" and "Two Doors Down."


041-Love poem

Something in the way she turns everything off
before she exits the car; something in the way

she uses a hair dryer to warm her feet; something
in the way she sways from side to side when

she's being playful with me; something in the way
her eyes always seem to find mine in a crowded

room; something in the way she reads my words
and makes me feel that her world is on fire,

the flames licking the edges of her skin until
we find each other alone and filled with heat.

042-Black holes

Don't you worry about no
end of the world, no asteroid
hurtling through outer space or
a sun so hot it's ready to pop.


He's getting into everything spotted
& dangerous. They cast spells &
spin webs, stir potions in cauldrons.

044-Hold the handles

He's not happy he's dying,
but he knows he's dying
anyway like an abandoned
house swallowed by nature
he forgets how to fall
in love, but he can still
ride his bicycle around
town at night & pretend
the town needs him--without
me, what can be done--
though he is unhappy & dying.

045-Wanted: Your Heart

I am the can that you crush,
the plastic bottle you deflate,
the newspaper that you fold.


The phone rings because
someone has to answer
or let it continue ringing.

The fog tells him he is
near a river, but the wind
can't whisper inside his heart.

She can call all she
wants; he will only
answer when he's ready.


Ultimately, we
only care about
the whispers of
our own voices
wondering how
they will carry.


In February, everyone wants candy hearts
or a heart-shaped box of varied chocolates,
but by Easter, it's all about those Peeps.
Of course, any time is good for a Hershey Kiss,
and I'm always searching out Appleheads.
Still, it's winter, the season of candy canes,

and I better eat better, or I'll bend my cane
in old age. Plus, who wants to give their heart
to a plus-sized candy eater? I put the Appleheads
down and get down to the sound of chocolate
going into the trash. I'll diet my way to mo' kisses
and late-night parties with my funky peeps

at the club & fall in love with a sweet peep,
because I'm still young & don't need a cane
to get around the dance floor. My soft kiss,
my fully full-fledged foolish and foolhardy heart
will seek out the deepest, darkest chocolate
smile as I lose my fragile, fractured head

for a little while. I'm not talking Appleheads
anymore, man. I'm not concerned with Peeps,
yo. If you don't know the appeal of chocolate,
then I ain't gonna melt it down with candy canes
and pretend I wasn't reaching out for your heart.
Tell me now, have you ever tasted a Hershey Kiss

that didn't make you want another sweet kiss
and then another? Don't bother with Lemonheads,
because they're too sour for anyone's heart.
Start with some marshmallow, a yellow Peep,
then sweep the room for a peppermint cane,
which would actually go well in a chocolate

milkshake. That's right, I said chocolate
is the route you take for a simple kiss,
and if you want more, have candy cane
breath and watch her lose her head.
If you want to talk, don't make a peep,
because words only disturb a beating heart.

So, take her candy hearts and heart-shaped chocolate
boxes, but don't make a peep about wanting a kiss,
because it'll come when her head swirls like a candy cane.


I am the piano
that fell on the crack
& splintered into music
that made everyone jump.


My heart is a snow drift
collecting your smiles. My mind
is a plastic sled sliding for miles
upon the snowy hill of your
heart. Hold my hand and kiss
me for a start. My heart is
a snow drift collecting your smiles.


Not every poem
is a cardinal darting
through snow-covered
branches in February.

052-With me

You don't want to play
just because I make
the rules (It's cheating.)
& it still hurts (So?)
& you are still weird
(I'm rubber; you're glue.)
& I'm through with you.


Think of bunnies (filled with good intentions)
or kangaroos (filled with good intentions)--
think of monkeys (filled with good intentions)
or real bad news (filled with good intentions).

Do you wonder (filled with good intentions)
if I'm thinking (filled with good intentions)
about plunder (filled with good intentions)
or your one thing (filled with good intentions)?

I only ask (filled with good intentions)
because I care (filled with good intentions)
about your ass (filled with good intentions)
in underwear (filled with good intentions).

Come now, baby (filled with good intentions),
let's make babies (filled with good intentions).

054-Oval teen sonnet

You say yes
when I ask
you a question.
You say no
when I don't
even mention--

(I want to be your poetic rock star
& deliver a sonnet to your heart.)

You can talk so fast
& I can walk slow
running out of gas
rambling through snow.

(I just want to be your magnetic guy
holding you to things as if you are mine.)

I know
you know
my eyes like to see you;
you know
I know
you kind of like it too.

So let's just wander
& ponder
our parts,
because February is burning us
& our bodies want to fumble & fuss,
but we won't let them
forget then
our hearts.


"Stop being vile," she says and passes him
her coat, "or I won't stay." "Come now,"
he says as he opens the closet, "You act
as if I'm somehow revolting." She smiles
and says, "Well, there are times you are
completely odious, not to mention simply
objectionable." She sits on the couch, and
he takes a seat next to her before saying,
"I'm glad I'm not repugnant or repulsive."
She scoots closer to him as he puts his arm
around her shoulders. "No," she says. "You
are not unpalatable, but you can be abominable
and thoroughly awful." "Though you wouldn't
have it any other way," he says before they kiss.


Yep, that's a lot of poems. I wonder how many people will actually read this entire post. If you are such a person (or if you're the type who jumps to the end of blog posts) and you want to follow me on Twitter, you can find me @robertleebrewer


If you're interested in making money writing short (ironic plug for this post, eh?), then I suggest you check out this course offered by (Click to continue.) And if you register for the February course, you can save 15% by using this code: FEB10

Monday, February 22, 2010

In Ohio, the sleds are slowly fading

Drove up to Ohio on Friday to spend this past weekend (and next weekend) with the boys. On both Saturday and Sunday, we got in quite a bit of sledding action in my brother David's backyard. My brother is blessed (or cursed, depending upon who has to mow the lawn during the summer) with a slightly steep hill in his backyard that levels off with plenty of room before reaching his fence. Ben and Jonah had a lot of fun; we even made a few ramps so they could get a little (very little) air time.

On Sunday, my mom stopped by, and we all watched my other brother Simon on a recent show he was on for the Speed channel called Dangerous Drives (click here to check it out). Simon is a dangerous driver who also just happens to chase storms. He's pretty good at it, too. Anyway, it's worth watching if you're into storm chasing, dangerous drivers, or young guys with long hair.


Hooray! February is nearly over! That means the tyranny is almost over! The tyranny of February!


Completely unrelated: I love dictionaries! (It's true!)


Somewhat related: I also love exclamation points! (Maybe you noticed!)


Here's some music I've been digging recently (some old, some new):
  1. "Wisconsin Beaches," by Headlights
  2. "Atticus," by the Noisettes
  3. "Love Is Stronger Than Death," by The The
  4. "Shocker in Gloomtown," by the Breeders
  5. "Glad Girls," by Guided by Voices
  6. "No Cars Go," by Arcade Fire


Recent development: Gave up fantasy football and paid off some debt. (Click here to read about it all.)


My positive meter is at around a 9.8 (out of 10) at the moment. If you like being around mostly positive people, then you can follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer. (& be sure to talk poetry on Tuesdays by using the #poettues hashtag.)


While this post seems to be mostly disjointed and fractured, it also has absolutely no point. Guess I'm just giddy that February is almost over and wanted to give a general update of how things are going in this neck of the woods. I'll try to be a little more focused in March.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

All you need is love

In honor of V-Day, I'm going to share a little love, the kind of love that burns bright between my wife and myself. We found each other through poetry, and we continue to write poetry with (and without) words every day we're together (and even when we're in different states, we're together). I thought I'd share a few of those love poems here (we've written so many over the years).

Tammy started it all with this one:

Attachments to Digital Things

For you, it is an alarm
clock, a constant
since childhood, never stopping
or moving fast enough

to get away from his hands.
Children are taught to be still
for fear of breaking something
they're not supposed to touch.
So you dug your feet
into the snow, made a game
of outlasting your brothers in the cold.
It was later you decided to run

cross country, to push forward
alone against the clock, let go
of your legs, your heart
to keep control of your breath

when the alarm fails to sound.
Waking up on your own,
the forgiving sun.

Then, a few V-Days ago, I wrote this:

At the arboretum

From his box of Sweethearts, he hands
her candy that reads CUTIE PIE
before eating his own WILD LIFE.
They walk the paved path to a pond
filled with sleeping koi. A sign warns
KEEP OFF GRASS, but she leads him there
anyway. In high school, this is where
he would run across the frozen pond and
wander off the trails and into the summer
creek water. He hands her CLOUD NINE
and pops a CHILL OUT. He remembers
being young and cold in February, but
a sweater feels just right today. He's
not in high school anymore he thinks and
starts to move back toward the path.
But then, she touches his arm, whispers, "Stay."

At some point in 2008, Tammy wrote this poem and framed it for my birthday:

Sea Gypsies

You said you spent 5 minutes of your life
today looking for a staple remover.
Something to do with your job.
You edit, and sometimes
there is a need to pull things

apart. There are mountains
between us, and then a river.
The land swells with seeds
that fall from your pockets,
sewing the distance with deep
breaths, an entire city
in your smile.

I tell you about the Mokens,
gypsies of the Andaman Sea.
How they knew to flee the tsunami
before the first wave tore trees
from their roots, husbands from wives.
When the sky turns to salt, sometimes
there is a thirst. In their language

there is no word for want,
only an understanding
of give and take. You said
I took away your need
and you want

to share water with me.
The ground presses its pregnant
belly against my feet. I am
distracted by squirrels
in the trees. Wind.

I still use my prompt-poems on Poetic Asides as excuses to surprise Tammy with love poems. Here's one of my recent favorites:

I think the world is a pin cushion

There's a space between everyday matters
that makes someone feel every day matters,

a breath or sigh in the darkness. We surround
our time with excuses and distractions, bind

those we love with commitments when we should be
splashing around in dark puddles while the rain

covers us in nothing more than what it is.

Tammy and I have written scores of love poems to each other (and I'm sure we've got about a gazillion more to write), but I wanted to share a little of the love with everyone, because it is--after all--Valentine's Day. So, Happy Valentine's Day!


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Check out the 2010 Poet's Market I edited by clicking here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

February, I Don't Like You

I was going to say, "February, I hate you," but I'm trying to teach my boys not to say the word "hate," so--sigh--I need to lead by example. But seriously, February is always last place on my favorite month list. Blame it on the weather.

I mean, February has Groundhog Day (which I love), Valentine's Day (which I adore), President's Day (hey, I like Presidents, too), Mardi Gras (I am sooooo into food, including cajun dishes), the Super Bowl (I am a football fanatic). I should love February, right? Wrong.

Perhaps, it's the unrelenting cold temps and never ending bombardment of gray skies. Perhaps, it's an impatience for spring, summer, and autumn. Perhaps, it's all just some mumbo jumbo stuck in my head, and I only dislike February because I convinced myself I do. Regardless, I enjoyed today.

Today, it snowed in Duluth, Georgia. I didn't break out the ruler, but it was probably in the area of 2-3 inches, which is not a lot by my Ohio standards, but pretty uncommon for these parts. As soon as Reese got home from school, I bundled up him and Baby Will, and we played in the snow at the park. It was wet snow, so we were able to make snowballs, a little snowman (or snowperson--we didn't really define the gender, I guess), and snow angels. We had a ton of fun!


I was recently interviewed on the Red River Writers Live radio show. You can check out an archived version of the interview by clicking here. I'm the second person interviewed. I talk about how I got started in poetry, read a recently published poem, and share a little insight on how to write a backwards poem.


A novel has consumed me recently--my own. Since I'm a busy guy, I haven't been able to just sit down and write-write-write, but I've been writing in about all the time I can carve out, whether that means writing late at night, while I'm waiting for Reese's bus to drop him off, while I'm waiting for Tammy's bus to drop her off, while I...umm...should be reading a book even. Sorry if that's TMI, but that just goes to show the hunger I have for telling this story.

I've written enough stories in my day that I know this one will definitely be a keeper as long as the fire keeps burning this bright. It's one of those pieces of writing that just won't leave me alone; I even have dream sequences that fit into this novel. My only hope is that I'll do the story justice and be patient and disciplined with my revision (when I get to that point).


I mentioned that I write when I wait for Tammy's bus to drop her off. Beginning earlier this month, Tammy has gone green and started riding the bus to work. It's actually faster getting in and out of Atlanta, since the bus can jump in the HOV lane; it also saves money on gas, not to mention the savings in wear and tear on her Subaru Outback; and it even gives her a little extra time to read books again (she just finished Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and is moving on to Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle). So, yay for public transportation!


Here are some songs to get you through February:

1. "Roland," by Interpol
2. "She Sends Kisses," by the Wrens
3. "November," by Azure Ray
4. "Australia," by the Shins
5. "Amsterdam," by Guster
6. "My Love," by The Bird and the Bee
7. "That's All," by Clare and the Reasons
8. "Do the Whirlwind," by Architecture in Helsinki
9. "Id Engager," by Of Montreal
10. "Percussion Gun," by White Rabbits


Comfort food recipe of the month: Ham and Beans

Ingredients: Bag of Dry Pinto Beans (I use 2 lb. bag); Diced Ham (I use 8 oz. bag, but you could use more--or less if you're not into meat, but you'd probably just need to call this Beans); water (lots of water)

  1. Night before cooking, sort the pinto beans into a container filled with water (fill well above the level of the beans); make sure you sort the beans to make sure no pebbles somehow sneak in--I've yet to encounter this problem, but I've heard of it happening.
  2. Next morning, pour beans and water into strainer to drain water.
  3. Put beans in crock pot.
  4. Add ham.
  5. Add water a little higher than level of ham and beans.
  6. Set crock pot and let it cook.

Simple as that, and you get an awesome comfort food that is great re-heated for days to come. If you're into spicy foods (like me), then you can add your preferred hot sauce to add even more taste (I prefer Frank's Red Hot).

This is seriously simple and yummy, which is why I'm passing it on to you.


I'll be leading a webinar on How to Publish Your Poetry Collection on April 29, 2010, at 1 p.m. (Click here to check it out.)

The webinar will cover the differences in chapbooks and full-length collections, getting published traditionally and in a more DIY fashion, and will allow participants to ask questions throughout the presentation. These are usually fun, and people tell me they are helpful. If you're interested, you should totally sign up.


Also, if you're not following me on Twitter, you can do so @robertleebrewer.

Keep it real!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Poems, poems, poems!

Update on my 2010 Poem-A-Day progress (2 weeks of poems even!):

027-State of the ampersand

No skin in January. Fingers forced
into pockets and gloves. Some mittens

even. We avoid eye contact
as our breath makes like smoke.

February will only get worse. More
gray skies & hands held apart

even as we pray for March
& everything that follows after.

028-False Alarm

It wasn't a fire
& it wasn't a drill.

029-Before & after

Before midnight & after noon;
before Xbox & after Atari;
before episodes I through III
& after episodes IV through VI;
before the whole 9/11 thing
& after the Challenger explosion;
before the dominance of Google
& after the decline of card catalogs;
before the end of smoking in small bars
& after the "This is your brain on drugs"
commercial; before the Large Hadron
Collider & after Albert Einstein;
before Nickelback & after Nirvana,
there was a brief moment in which
I felt the world move a little.

030-Searching for hearts

Brave women search
for accommodating men,
who search for accommodating
women, who search
for brave men searching
for brave women.

031-Why I started writing poetry

Say every time a woman looked in your direction
people found you sprawled out in a gutter
muttering, love, by god, love. Say the last look
burned down a house and left everyone
running for cover. Say what you want, because
you can re-build that house whenever you want,
and you want and want and want. The blood
soaks into the bread; you can say so. Say
the sky is empty and you just want it full.
Say the end is too close for comfort. Say
it all began with a girl. Say the words just
came and that they just continued to do so.

032-Don't Panic Just Yet

Every lost cause, every forgotten
commercial song, every dropped
phone call, every doomsday
prediction and abandoned placard,
every mateless sock, every empty
inbox, every unfulfilled promise--
there is always a button to push.

033-To the groundhog

You may have the others fooled,
but I am on to you.

034-Ohio Geography

Zanesville-place to stay the night when lost
Youngstown-pot holes big enough to swallow a car
Xenia-always worried a tornado will hit
Waynesville-antique capital of the midwest
Vandalia-place to visit as a child, forget as an adult
Upper Sandusky-actually south of actual Sandusky
Troy-eat strawberries along the river levee
Sharonville-has a nice park for running hills
Reynoldsburg-wrong side of Columbus
Quaker City-pretty much self-explanatory
Perrysburg-has a water tower south of Toledo
Oxford-attractive college campus and students
New Lebanon-nice town to drive through without stopping
Mansfield-largest all boy track relay meet in midwest
Lebanon-has a horse track and other stuff
Kettering-great place to raise a family
Jeffersonville-outlet shopping madness
Ireland-tucked away in corner no one ever visits
Hillsboro-place to escape after graduation
Greenville-weird circle in middle of town
Fairfield-caught between Cincinnati and Hamilton
Eaton-home of the Preble County Pork Festival
Dayton-birthplace of aviation and Paul Laurence Dunbar
Columbus-the heart of the heart of it all
Bowling Green-flat land with one big manmade hill
Ashtabula-Lake Effect Snow

035-celestial poem

bend the sun
around the moon
like a halo.

tell the other
planets to align
as if blessed.

in the morning
we will search
for the answers.

036-rain poem

let the rain cover me
slide across my skin
connected to itself

let the rain fall on me
pitter patter plink
as if I'm made of tin

let the rain dampen me
my skin is not tin
nor will it rust away

037-moon poem

He pulls the moon
down to the lake
and asks the girl
to lose the clothes
he bought for her.

038-One evening

"I am surprised
you're not in love
with me," he said
as she shifted
in her seat and
looked for the moon.

039-Like branch

This branch
that branches out of this
other branch
branching out of this tree
is like the way
I like your very

040-Love Sestina

She shows me her chifforobe,
but I'm more interested in her pantaloons:
how they make her a hobbledehoy,
a girl traveling a circuitous
vocabulary. The awkward hullabaloo
of my heart, a wooden boomerang

slashing the air. She asks, "Boomerang?
I was only showing you my chifforobe;
why is everything about hullabaloo
with you? Forget my pantaloons
and your lusty, circuitous
cravings. I may be a hobbledehoy,

but I'm not easy." "Hobbledehoy
or not," I say, "I didn't mean boomerang
in that way." My reasoning's circuitous
path, my sudden despair of chifforobe--
maybe I should stop being a pantaloon
and ignore the overwhelming hullabaloo

of my heart! "After all this hullabaloo,"
I tell her, "I feel like the hobbledehoy."
"You wish," she says, "Mr. Pantaloon."
She calls me out, puts a boomerang
to the very cluttered chifforobe
of my heart. "Am I being too circuitous,"

I ask her, "or are you being too circuitous?"
"There you go with your hullabaloo,"
she answers, "always confusing chifforobes
with closets." She smiles like a hobbledehoy
who knows she can hold any boomerang
she wants, and I can't stop her pantaloons

from wandering through my pantaloon
mind. Dirty or not, this is my circuitous
soul! I want to give her my boomerang;
I think she should take my hullabaloo
and declare that she is my hobbledehoy--
throw open the doors of my chifforobe!

But she knows my chifforobe contains pantaloons
of other hobbledehoys; they wander circuitous
trails through the hullabaloo of my boomerang.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Workshop poems online at WritersOnlineWorkshops. (Click to continue.)

Use the code FEB10 during the month of February to receive 15% off registration prices!