Saturday, May 29, 2010

Awesome mixtape, poem & other thoughts

Hit the Interstate around 7 p.m. Friday night from Duluth, GA, and around 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning arrived here in Kettering, OH. Whew! I nearly got knocked off the road by a wild big rig in a super heavy rain in Georgia and missed a turn in Knoxville (while talking on my cell), but now I'm here and trying to make myself sleepy so that I can catch some zzzz's before picking up Ben and Jonah later this morning.

I don't think I would've stayed awake driving if it weren't for this awesome mixtape (err, mixdisc) that Tammy made for me (all these songs can be found on MySpace and/or YouTube):
  1. "Arcadia," by Ash
  2. "Mixtape," by Tift Merritt
  3. "My Love," by The Bird and the Bee
  4. "Party With Children," by Ratatat
  5. "M79," by Vampire Weekend
  6. "Percussion Gun," by White Rabbits
  7. "Joyriders," by Pulp
  8. "Playground Love," by Air
  9. "Do It Again," by Chemical Brothers
  10. "Id Engager," by Of Montreal
  11. "Strange Overtones," David Byrne & Brian Eno
  12. "Eponine," by Ozma
  13. "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing," by Jack Johnson
  14. "That's All," by Clare and the Reasons
  15. "I Can Change," by LCD Soundsystem
  16. "Harmony to My Heartbeat," by Sally Seltmann
  17. "Imma Be," by Black Eyed Peas
  18. "If I Ever Feel Better," by Phoenix
  19. "Do the Whirlwind," by Architecture in Helsinki
  20. "Never Forget You," by Noisettes

Tammy made the mixtape for me after I created the set list. It's been a while since I've composed a mixtape, and I think this may be one of my favorites. Of course, new mixtapes are almost always my favorites. My strategy is always to have a cohesive mix that changes moods and tempo without having any songs that awkwardly stick out. Plus, I love it when the last track flows into the first track. Anyway, this mix totally received a Mission Accomplished for getting me safely awake to Ohio.


Here's a poem for today (Saturday) to keep the poem-a-day in 2010 going:

149-Don't question your luck

Kiss on the mountain top;
kiss on the counter top.

Then, drop to the kitchen floor;
shed your clothes and kiss some more.

Don't say another word;
don't tell her what you heard

about her reputation--
block out communication.

Just get another kiss;
just give another kiss.

There's time for talking later;
don't be a player hater.

Just let your body move
and feel her body move:

what you want--now you got it;
don't try to use your logic.

Kiss on the easy chair
and kiss without a care.

Take it all and then give it.
Not dreaming if you live it.


Observation #1: There were like a million troopers outside of Dalton, GA, pulling speeders over left and right. I've driven hundreds of thousands of miles (seriously, I have), and I've never seen so many troopers lined up the way these were. In fact, I was speeding in that area and felt kind of like R2D2 and C3PO in Star Wars: A New Hope sneaking past undetected.


Observation #2: I noticed several cars heading out of Georgia with Ohio license plates or Gwinnett county GA plates. Since NCR recently left Dayton for Duluth, I imagined all these Ohio and Gwinnett GA plates belonged to NCR employees heading back up home for Memorial Day weekend. Made me feel a little less lonely driving up this time around to think I was part of some kind of Duluth-to-Dayton caravan.


Observation #3: This is something I've been noticing for a while, but the billboards seem to be getting emptier and emptier along I-75. Not sure if this is a national trend and a move away from billboards for advertising, but it's interesting anyway.


Observation #4: Last one for this post, but Lexington, KY, smelled like either a sweaty sock or a cigarette--or a combination of the two unique smells. It was not a pleasant area to be driving with the window down, for sure.


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Friday, May 28, 2010

28 Poems!

Here's my progress on my "write a poem each day of 2010" resolution. Please let me know if any stand out for you.

121-To bed

I heard you. Hush.
I told you, "Shush."

Shhhh and shush;
now don't you fuss.

Please don't riot;
just be quiet.

I love you too;
now don't you move.

Yes, I've seen it;
Stop! I mean it.

Don't be weepy;
just get sleepy.

122-Undiscovered poets

I guess we knew no one cared,
but we pushed on anyway,
because we had nothing else,
and besides, our health wasn't
anything to brag about
or you know we'd be bragging,
because that is how we are,
and it's how we'll always be,
even if you'll never read.

123-Then that

The one thing I believe:
the ebb and flow of momentum.
I won't point my fingers.

I don't trust buildings
without windows or cars
with windows tinted.

In my dream, she said,
"The world ain't no place
for a good man to live."


I have trouble falling asleep in Ohio,
and everyone knows it has everything
to do with the space between here
and there. Everywhere I go I think
wish you were here. The sound of my
turn signal, the beat of my heart--
when I blink, when I flutter--
I want her to bother to turn me
on or out without whispering why.
Just a touch or a sigh I can
turn into a sign, a reason to sing
or bend with the wind like the world's
loneliest sapling. Distance is sapping
the fun from living, but I know
full well the reason we yearn is so
that we long to someday return.

125-To begin

Push a pen to paper
and expect it to bleed
because that's what happens
when she catches your eyes
like fireflies in a jar
she keeps under the sink
where no light can escape
and the pipes drip slowly
with careful abandon.

126-Initiation Point

too many signs suggest
too many songs to sing

no one said you had to
but you did anyway

fingers on one hand lock
fingers of other hands

one smile leads to one
more smile trailing off

127-Like chickens

I always think
birds like chickens
are mammals, but
they never are.

128-Songs of the tormented

Once upon a night like this--
Once upon a night like this--

and then that ache I felt.

129-Invasion of the poets

We stoned the first one, thinking
it was just an anomaly,
but then, another came and
another. Next thing we knew
they had spread all over
until it wasn't worth
the effort of trying to kill them.
So we hid our daughters and
tried ignoring them, swatting
only if they got too close.


I imagine you imagining me,
but I know there's not much magic here--so
I just let myself sleep, because, you know,
in my dreams, you're standing there with your hair
creeping down your shoulders, and I'm holding
you closer telling you everything.


Sprinkles in a puddle
under the moonlight
makeover of another
Monday in mid-July.
Even he can't bother
reminding her Tuesday

plans on still coming--
offering instead his
ear, his arm around her
mid-section, his lips on hers.

132-Wolf Man

I know what it's like to love someone
who turns into something else against
his own will. I know how that someone

can forget what he's done the next day,
but it doesn't change the facts the sun
reveals. To kill and love the same way,

that man hunts and shakes every fence--
snarl by night and smile by day--
searching for someone to love against.


Let's negotiate. Can I tear out my brain?
I don't want to remember anything, and
I wear my jacket because I'm part reptile,
and I need to control my body heat. That's
why I mind and why I cannot settle down.

134-Babies see black & white

Wear glasses & part your hair
a new direction. Throw
on a cape & tights. Save my
life & pretend we've never
met. I'll love you without
knowing; you'll love me without


The same stream streams
behind my grandmother's house
as when I was a child,
but I've grown afraid
of the water I used
to wade through in summer.

136-Transformation v.2

Every day, I become more aware
every day is one less chance to bear
everyday fears less fair than the fare
every day request for me to care.

137-Transformation v.3

The wasp sting was actually
a paper cut with grass--
so perhaps a grass cut.

Besides, some snakes shed
while other snakes molt;
they all lose their skins.


trees never wander
but still spread
across open fields

139-Our health

Every morning, we rise and
shine slow wondering where our sleep
has gone, wondering how we'll reach
our two destinations on time.

Every morning, we rush and
worry; every morning, we
rub our eyes and wonder how; but
every morning, we make it.

This morning, I drum the steering
wheel and beg the light to change green
just as a cat pounces a bird
reminding me what's important.


My fingers on the coast--
pressure that builds until
something words can't contain
finally has to bleed--
try to do what they can't

141-swallowing air

destroy the farms
without killing
the animals--

that dead oil
drill still bleeding
across the gulf

we knew it was
too good to be
here forever

like holding air
our surrender--
a motorbike

look at that farm--
that factory--
that firm handshake

empty billboards
their emptiness


Radio towers transmit signals: If
you ask for a kiss, they give you a kick.
Does she kick you? That is the love alarm.
Her house caught fire--so she moved elsewhere.

143-The dead are shivering

You've got to be cold-hearted to raise cattle,
to raise pigs. Watch them grow from infancy and
then let the ax fall. A man on a ladder
paints a house white. The beauty of just getting
this moment and the next, a never ending
series of strip malls to pass while thinking
there's nothing you can do to stop the bleeding.


I guess she could tell I was
out of it. Eyes unfocused
and me running into walls,
appliances and her bed
unmade as if that mattered.
A dance is a touch is a
tell, and she's a wild card
who wants me to settle down.

145-shopping cart

rattle rattle
fill myself full
of whatever
can fit inside
and then rattle

146-Ways to kill a flower

She loves me; she loves me not;
she loves me; she loves me not;
she loves me; she loves me not;
she loves me; she loves me not;
she loves me; she loves me not;
she loves me; she loves me not;
she loves me! O, marigold!


beat a moon out of the bushes
& into a cage because when
one heart beats another burns white
hot for a chance to chase a sun
as if it's not at the center

148-Is there a fire?

Lately, my dreams have involved me
being falsely accused. Can I
forgive a cross decorated
as a man scaring me? A star
streaks across the horizon and
dissolves into horse shit. Never
said I was the holy spirit,
my face moving over water
and looking for attention, just
a little tension suspending
my belief. Communication
is a means, not an end. Must I
make sense for you to listen? Phone
a friend; get a clue. Do what you
have to do to follow the long
tail of this kite stuck in a tree.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


It's too late for me to be dealing with technology. Time for bed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The last play date

I'm sure Reese (also known as the six-year-old named Reese) will have many more play dates during his time as a kid. Who knows? Maybe he'll even have play dates as an adult. (More adults probably should have play dates, but I digress.) But today marked Reese's last play date with his friend "Eric" from South Korea.

Eric and his mother spent the past school year in Duluth, Georgia, which actually has a very large Asian population--so much so that whole strip malls, billboards and advertisements are in Korean. Apparently, some of the other kindergarteners have done the same thing. They come over for a year to experience America and learn English before growing up in Korea.

Eric's mother set up the play dates at the beginning of the year (through her own broken English), because she wanted Eric to learn English outside of the classroom. So every Wednesday when I haven't been in Ohio, Eric and his mother have met Reese, Baby Will and I at the Chick-Fil-A across the street to play, learn from each other and struggle to communicate through our language barriers. And I think everyone has benefitted.

Eric (and his mother) speaks and understands English much better than he did at the beginning of the school year. Reese has come out of his shell a little more and seems braver on the playground. Even Baby Will has developed physically over the course of the year--developing from the little guy who couldn't walk or talk yet to the little guy who now climbs up on equipment and does a little chicken dance (picked up from The Wiggles). Not all of this development came from our Wednesday meetings, but some did. And we've developed a friendship and familiarity with each other--even as we can't fully communicate what we did over the previous weekend.

In a week, Eric will be headed back to Korea. He already says he's upset and wants to stay in Georgia where his friends are. But some of those friends will be heading back to Korea and others back to Japan. Even Reese will not be coming back to Mason Elementary next year, since we're planning on moving up to Ohio in August to live closer to Ben and Jonah.

On Monday night, the kindergarten classes performed a play that consisted of songs they'd learned over the course of the year. They all did great and made everyone smile. All of these little kids who have grown so much (physically, mentally and socially) over the past several months will continue to spread in different directions, and I hope many of them will remember how alike they are now--not just skin colors and/or languages--but six-year-olds learning songs and coloring pictures and playing at recess together day in and day out waiting for the last day of school and the beginning of summer vacation.


Update on writing a poem a day in 2010: Still chugging along. Will share a big bundle of poems in a post soonish. You can check the Poetic Asides blog for two that I've written in response to the weekly Wednesday Poetry Prompts.


Update on work: 2011 Writer's Market is off to the printer; blogging at Poetic Asides; writing the best newsletter ever each and every Friday; soliciting submissions for the 2011 Songwriter's Market; working (or finished helping out) on the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents and 2011 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market books--both soon to be followed by the 2011 Poet's Market and 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market books. The fun never stops.


Update on living: Tammy, Reese, Baby Will and I are heading up to Tennessee to stay the night with my grandmother tomorrow night. Then, we'll be in Ohio for the weekend and Jonah's 7th birthday party. As some of you may remember, it was on Jonah's 6th birthday (before the birthday party) that I lost consciousness, quit breathing for several minutes, turned blue and very easily could've died (were it not for the cool head and amazing efforts of my wife) or suffered severe brain damage last year. As a result, I feel a weird combination of excitement and dread this weekend. The logical part of my brain knows there is nothing to fear; but the illogical part of my brain is the one pushing the panic button. Poor Jonah! I wish that event had happened on my birthday instead of his.

Also, talked with my storm chasing brother Simon this morning (for literally less than a minute). He has been chasing for the second season of his TV show, and he got three twisters on Monday. It's pretty cool that he's out there doing his thing.


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