Saturday, December 26, 2009


It has been a hell of a year 2009! Without going into great detail there has been some ups and most notably enough downs to last me for a while.

If you would have opened up my brain in the beginning of the year and shook it the collage below is what would have fallen out. But instead it was emptied out in one of my blogs whether here, myspace, authorsden, facebook or a few other places.

I haven’t determined yet if 2009 was a good writing year but a few interesting pieces came forward and out to the world. If you missed any of them you can find everything from this year here:


Buckle up and hold on tight for 2010! Tags: ,,,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lights! Camera! Action!

Have you ever watched a film where the plot is so familiar you’re thinking that “I’ve seen this movie before” but haven’t? You may have thought this due to the fact that many, many of today’s releases are adapted from a book. From the storyline a screenplay is cropped out to fit the allotted time and budget of the film. Also in some cases the story is changed to create a more “dramatic” product, which seems to be the case with horror / slasher films.

For those of us with a few years under our belt we could name off quite a few books that we had read that are now movie hits or movie flops. Let us take one writer for example.

Stephen King is one of the most “movied” authors that I know of. Growing up I read everything that was released by him and found his writing to be excellent. See if you remember any of these early titles that went from book to film:

Salem’s Lot
The Shining
The Dead Zone
Children of the Corn

The adaptation of the stories themselves has always been limited due a number of obvious things such as budget, time and it isn’t reasonable to expect every word in a book to be in the film. Not to mention that we as the reader create in ourselves differences that make the experience of reading the story unique to ourselves. Not saying that the movies don’t have their moments:

And for those who would rather watch the movie over reading the book, just remember that you are missing elements of the story. So many times we have heard how the book was what brought us to the theater only to be let down, disappointed that the film did not fulfill the expectations we had in reading the story. So it is safe to say that we can never expect the movie to be better than the book.

It is the “film” that unravels in our head while we read the story that makes it so real. For some it may take months to get through a novel but when you read the words on the page throughout those months you have a chance to relive it and formulate your own scenes and characters into your own film.

Not taking away anything from the movie makers but just my take on books versus movies and experiencing both. In my world the written page rules, though a good movie can bring the words to another level, for example “My Zinc Bed” was a great film, intelligent dialog and one I will never forget. Here’s a sample:

So the reason for the blog is to encourage reading over sitting and watching. Keep the mind working and re-inventing the storylines that can impact us in so many ways. Imaginations can’t die out. If they do…all art is doomed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The High End of Low


Review written for


I am not a Marilyn Manson fan. But I have always kept an open ear/mind on any music, no matter who the artist may be. With the release of “The High End of Low” I have found a disc I can appreciate from Marilyn Manson where it is filled with strong music and equally strong lyrics. The tracks “We’re From America” and “Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin-Geddon” are classic Manson anthems with their hard hitting, gutsy lyrics.

But my favorites have to be “Four Rusted Horses”, “Wight Spider” with my number one favorite off the CD being “Running To The Edge Of The World” more so the alternate version. This track has a huge lyrical attraction and the melody, though simple, strongly backs up those lyrics.


Not being a follower or a hater of Marilyn Manson, this is a disc that can attract those caught on the fence for this artist. Personally I have slipped off the fence of indecision and loved this CD.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Only Tonight


Artwork by Joleene Naylor


Only Tonight

In the night sky
roman candles came alive,
illuminating our passion
to burn inside the other,
love hotter than July’s breath.

And your body—
outlined in chalk,
softens in the shadow
as I hold you, trembling
fearing it has gone too far.

With Midnight’s kiss
upon your lips,
wet with words, whispering back
warm breaths caresses my neck,
making me pray again.

But along with passion
comes destruction—
your faith broken,
scattered around our feet,
as you promised yourself forever
to another, unlike me.

So we live for the evening
not thinking about tomorrow,
with its uncertainty—
but grasp each other’s heart,
holding on for dear life, if just for tonight.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009





Floating out
into the deep green sea—
watching comets pass by
through Orion’s belt,
pulled by the evening’s tide
…away from me.


Can you touch the fabric of Heaven?
If only once, would it save you?


The Sea salts your soul
preserving memories of our love,
its waves covering you
a seabed full of treasures,
rusted and old
but none less, treasure.


Where did it go wrong?
What storm washed you all away?


Your imprint remains in the sand
as the Sea exerts its voice,
whispering lullabies of sleep
a rhythmic call of desire—
to rest in forever
within its glimmering bed.


Will it warm you so? As I did?
Can you dream between its sheets?


And as you stare at the tiny diamonds
high above, twinkling bright—
Will you remember me?
Perhaps not as your first love,
but the one who showed you
how the sea captures all.


The Constellation Orion


Writing this reminded me of The Cure’s song “From The Edge of A Deep Green Sea”

I found the live video:


Monday, September 7, 2009





A familiar nursery rhyme,
when turned clockwise
clicks away the words in my head---
am I dead? blynd-in-the-box once said.
Again in the corner, just by the bed
do you hear it? is it bleeding red?

Pressing it all in,
to cover all my sins
wanting to pop out---
can you feel it?
Turn the crank slowly,
anticipate my release.

But it never happens,
for my spring broken---
in a thousand ways,
turn, turn, make the melody burn.
Inside the box pushing
hoping release from the things I learn.

The Monkey chased the Weasel
round and round,
turn the handle, making sound---
empty the box unless I drown.
The edge of this World
finds us all, only to push the thin cover down.

Pretend with cheery color,
red, green and blue
inside is the true image---
black, black, as a heart attack.
If you tear it open
you will see it isn’t just any ole Jack---

But inside is the Devil,
hiding within paper skin,
easy to tear, easy to bear
easy to believe in this child-like nightmare.
Turn, turn, the crank some more
as each of us can, when we close the door.

Can you hold my hand just this once?
we can pull down our socks,
chase the little Devil down,
dance to it in your evening gown.
Lest we pray, for a different day
I can’t spring out, but only fade away.

“All around the Mulberry Bush,

The monkey chased the weasel.

The monkey stopped to pull up his sock,

Pop! goes the weasel.”


Origin (Jack-In-The-Box)

The first mechanical or wind-up toys were made back in Grecian times - but the art was revived by watch makers and clock makers during the 1400s. Early in the 1500s, a German clockmaker named Claus made a box for a local prince whose son was about to celebrate his fifth birthday. A simple wooden box with metal edges and a handle, and with a turn of the crank produced a simple tune and out popped a 'Jack,' a Devil, a comical version with a leering smile. Other nobles took note of the child's toy and the idea spread. Technology by the 1700s meant that it was a 'common toy' or novelty often in use for all ages. It was around this time that the image of a devil in a box became cartoon fodder for rouge politicians and other public figures held to ridicule.

Another theory as to the origin of the jack-in-the-box is that it comes from the 13th century English prelate Sir John Schorne, who is often pictured holding a boot with a devil in it. According to folklore, he once cast the devil into a boot to protect the village of North Marston in Buckinghamshire. This theory may explain why in French, a jack-in-the-box is called a "diable en boƮte" (literally "boxed devil").

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Had A Job

“Today I wrote a little poem for all who have been affected by the economy and from that, lost their job. And even to those of us “lucky” enough to still be employed I think could relate to this”.


I Had A Job

I had a job
that I hated—
full of stress,
backstabbers for friends
quick to climb the ladder of importance.
Commuting each day
dreading what Today would bring
unhappy clients,
attitude from workmates,
mediocre pay—
a slice of my ego,
never enough done,
late hours bought, keep the change
finally to leave,
unfulfilled and empty.
Wondering why…
today I miss it so.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vacation 2009: Fort Macon

Today was our trip to Fort Macon. Here there is a ton of history, on 389 acres, which has been standing since 1834 as a barrier to naval attack. To get a full history of Fort Macon I have supplied a link which covers the years the site was a military installation.

Fort Macon: History

We arrived in late morning and it was already well over 90 degrees and a bit humid. But after arriving there we didn’t notice the heat much as the structure was an impressive site.DSC03824 Here is a shot taken from the inner wall which encircled the inner courtyard. The masonry was impressive and you will be informed of how they built the fort in its entirety. You also have the opportunity to walk through the different segments of the structure so you get the true feel of what it must of been like to be stationed there.

Another shot I took was in one of the vaulted rooms which were used for different purposes but they had some potential for some great shots. Here MDSC03848eg hides in one room which was taken with night vision photography. Each of the 26 casemates surely had some story to tell. And even though it was day time you had to wonder if anyone from the past still walked these rooms.

It was great to take pictures in using different lighting, angles and anything else your imagination could come up with.

Once the crowd was out of the way I was able to get this shot which captured the doorways that enabled you to get to any one of the rooms in that section. The small barred DSC03852 window at the end of the walkway gave the shot an eerie T.A.P.S. kind of feel. Here and there someone would walk passed the window and gave it even more of the ghostly appearance.

We continued on throughout the rooms learning about life at the fort and was instructed on how the men ate and slept, carrying on their daily routines as enlisted men protecting the coast from pirates and the threat of the English invasion. One can only wonder how they endured the heat and humidity in these damp dark rooms waiting for something to happen.

In one room there was an oven which I had Meg open on a video clip because it was in night vision and the sound of the squeaky hinges was too good not to record. Below is the clip (sorry it is sideways…I will fix it later:

Here I added a few more shots of the fort:

The MOney Shot 
The Money Shot”

Remnant of Confederate Flag”

After our tour of historic Fort Macon we drove over to Beaufort and walked through the various shops looking for a souvenir to keep the day in our memories. After an hour or so we realized we left our precious daughter at the fort…lol.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vacation 2009: The Beach


When you wake up with the sound of the waves hitting the shore you know it is going to be a good day. It is Monday morning, and after a small breakfast and a few cups of coffee on the deck overlooking this scene of a single beach chair waiting for its owner to again claim it for a day of sun worshiping, I was ready to start the day.

It took a few trips to set up our “base camp” of two umbrellas, four beach chairs, a cooler full of beer, a few books, a number of MP3 players, towels, boogie boards and some writing material (for me). But it didn’t take long before we all wanted to jump in the salty ocean and ride the waves.

I took a number of pictures showing what we all do here on the beach. This obviously doesn’t exclude anyone here. The number one activity if you haven’t already guessed it is being in the water. OnceThe Beach2 you get used to the salty taste and the burning sensation when the water goes up your nose, it is all good.

The waves today were big enough to body surf and the ocean floor was all sand which most times you are walking through a patch of seashells of all sorts.

Here I am after a body surf attempt getting back out to where the waves come crashing down. It is a blast and when it is really hot out you keep to the water as long as possible. Today it was in the upper 90’s, but with the cool sea water and a refreshing breeze coming from the east off the ocean it was great weather.

The second most popular activity is reading that novel you bought specially for the trip.Day2 095 And it is totally a given that at some point you do this because with the sound of the waves in the foreground you can so concentrate on the book.

This is a random shot of one of our condo neighbors relaxing and enjoying a book. And yes it is a girl as I am not too keen on taking photographs of guys. What would you think of me? Does it look relaxing? Feet buried in the sand and the waves flowing through your toes and a good book makes for a day of total downtime.

I also wanted to post a shot of the condo we are staying at. Not the fanciest or the most extravagant on the island but I love it here. It is a perfect setup for what we plan to do here at Emerald Isle.Day2 083 We chose the top floor for a number of reasons. The number one is the view. You get a great look up and down the coast. At night it is easy to view the stars and if your lucky, as we have been, you find yourself witnessing a meteor shower over the ocean which is a memory to cherish.

I could post a hundred pictures for the first day on the beach as I do literally have that many, but it is time to wrap this up. Tomorrow we plan to visit Fort Macon and do some souvenir shopping to get that out of the way before we dedicate the rest of the week to resting here right on the beach.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Vacation 2009: The Arrival

We made it to the east coast!

The remainder of the drive was good, with minimal traffic and great sunny weather. The morning portion of the drive was again very cool going through the mountains of Virginia in the early morning, witnessing the morning fog being burned off the trees.

It was a quick move into the condo (though everything needed to be carried up five flights of stairs) and all the provisions were put in their place. THEN it was time to relax on the deck, listen to the waves and enjoy the scene. Here is what I see from our deck:


After the first beer it was like being at home, enjoying the ocean breeze on my body as I sat on our deck. Love the smell of the ocean! It was like being at a new place but not as we have rented this particular condo a year ago and fell in love with the whole set up and the location. It didn’t take long before I spotted one of my favorite reasons for being here on the beach:

Arrival girl

What? I’m a guy all right! And for you guys reading this, I can’t stress the fact enough that this is a place where the girls are really HOT! Not that they are all from NC but they come in with their families and enjoy the same things I do…sun, waves and a chance to get away from the everyday life we all lead.

After a few cocktails, we ordered a pie from the Pizza Inn, and I recommend them because their pizza is very, very good. Especially after six or seven Miller Lites.

Our group enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on the deck and a walk on the shore at dusk. If you’ve never had a chance to walk the beach at dust in August, with the ocean breeze gently caressing your body and the warm waves at your feet you haven’t lived life to its fullest. My opinion, but I highly recommend it.

Meg (my official photographer) took this shot of me coming from my first walk off the beach:


All in all it was a good arrival day. I can expect now a week of relaxation and with a little luck some words to pop in my noodle to write about.

Oh, I almost forgot! The sunset was brilliant! Yes the advantage of the setup here is you get to witness the sunrise and the sunset from the same deck! Life is good…at the moment.


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vacation 2009: The Drive (Revised)


Well today we left for our trip to Emerald Isle NC. And obviously driving the 16 hours today was filled with…well, nothing but looking at the scenery and watching the cars and trucks roll by. Yeah…pretty uneventful.

I am reporting from Huntington WV in one of my favorite hotels with a full stomach and a bottle of Miller Lite to help ease me to sleep.

Tomorrow will be a similar day but the drive will be reduced from 16 hours on the road to approximately 8hrs. and the anticipated arrival to the beach condo.

No more to be said.

Since I posted this i have to revise it because I did state that there was no more to be said…but there is:

At 1 am I was awaken in my plush hotel dreaming state by one of our group having a allergic reaction to something or another. This lead to a trip to the emergency room (not to mention the drive trying to find the hospital), the subsequent two hour wait to be seen and the drive back to the hotel. By 3:30 am I was back in bed trying to get the remaining 2 hours of sleep that I desperately needed. Who knew being a passenger for a 16 hour ride was so taxing.

This did make the “drive” eventful I guess, but obviously not something one would want to happen on the first day of vacation. The goal is to write about all the good/happy times in this east coast paradise, to memorialize the trip for when I am too old to make it even to the little boys room on my own.

I think that now our “one” incident allotted per trip is used up and the rest of the week will be another awesome experience.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Below The Surface

annes pic

Below The Surface

Below the surface
I fear things,
like,  who am I?
and the future, more than the past.
But I can hide here,
inside, below the surface
away from their words,
apart from their scandalous innuendos
trying to seep in as some sewage.
Footsteps above, creaking dead wood
reminding of old bones,
piles, hip deep in a dream
dead bones, of living hunger
possessing its sickly odor.
In summer, the sun creeps in
pushing away sleepy somber,
awakens lust, filthy desires painted black
an animalistic urge to peel back skin,
showing you the inside,
how I really feel, below the surface.

My first thought at the picture was to paste “The Dark Cage” there as it is such a fitting image for it. But I didn’t and came up with “Below The Surface” hoping to capture the same essence as “The Dark Cage” but with a 2009 look. Once it was finished, I realized nothing has changed…nothing.



This picture has always intrigue me just by the sheer power of the sea. A great image to use in our challenges. In getting the image I came across this clip on the same subject…very cool.



The desire overwhelms me
to welcome her touch,
though it is a dark, icy grip
giving cover to all she embraces.

Bless the keeper of the lighthouse
never failing to burn,
a wicked lantern, posed in death
to summon like moths of cloth.

I fear the bottom of the sea
a coffin of many voyages,
brave souls, called to duty again
pretending a purpose imaginable to God.

It calls me, her salty kiss
to play a game of chance,
beyond all that feeds me, the light
just to float, an embryo of nothingness.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sitting On a Fence of Indecision


Sitting On A Fence of Indecision

Perched atop a fence

I contemplate the world’s woes,

a visionary of sorts.


Affixed safely on this rail

waiting, anticipating my next move

as to which side I fall today.


The wrong side foreign,

because I time it so—

deciding just in time, to be on the right side.


But the fence has failed me,

through season and shame

collapses beneath my weighing pride.


Neither this side or that

can I make my choice right—

for now I lay aground.


Worried, consumed by doubt

I cannot decide what to do,

what to say, opinion escapes me.


My fence has fallen,

decrepit due to ignorance—

rotting away the stand I thought was mine.

Innocent Things That Frighten Me

Sometimes the most innocent of things by day can be the ultimate terror in ones dreams.



So cute in their lifelike appearance. A choice for numerous film makers to uncover the dark side of ever little girl’s companion. Examine the image above. If you look closely, the small doll is looking back at the girl. Thus it enters her subconscious and the genocide of peaceful sleep has begun.

One of my favorite poets also included the inanimate plaything in his body of work. Ted Hughes animates the doll in a terrifying manner that keeps me up at night:

Ted Hughes

The Ventriloquist

By Ted Hughes


We caught each other by the body

     And fell in a heap.

Your doll in the dark bedroom woke

     With her scream a whip.


With your arms around my neck

     I ran through a thorny wood.

The doll screamed after us, to the world.

     Daddy was no good.


You sobbed against my chest.

     I waded the river’s freeze.

The doll had put your Mummy on show—

     The Kraken of the seas.


As you lay on the bed

     I leaned to lock the door.

The doll sat on the roof and screamed

     I was with a whore.


The doll broke in that night

     Killed you and was gone

Screaming at the stars to look

     And see Justice done.

It is common for us to use the things that create images of love and hate, beauty and ugliness, the bizarre and the serene into our words. It is these images that truly exposes the inside of us, the writer, whether for himself or to be printed for all to read. Imagination cannot be stifled.

Encourage our young people to exercise that imagination through music, art, photography, poetry and the like.

If we let it die, we die…inside.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Journey With A Strong Walking Stick


Pulled back black, silky sweet

a hunger grows forth red,

pouting words, imagery defined

blotting out the sun.

Benevolence shown, reaching me

touching scars, old and cracked--

healing all things, many things

hidden beneath life’s ocean deep.

Shed no tears for me,

as I am a wreck, lost yet free

telling untrue fact,

listless within my own dark vanity.

It is in the forest, dark and cold

we seek the Trillium, alone in its bed

hungering and thirsting for love

finding none yet three.

I feel you, I hear you

much like a rainbow, vivid and clear

waiting for the day it fades away,

as the sunshine warms my face.

Picture challenges can be difficult yet it can direct the subject matter in a way that stirs up the “stuff” at the bottom of the can, like a paint can. Once mixing the bottom pigment the full color comes to life and the end result is the desired shade intended. This was interesting to write.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nine Minutes and Forty-four Seconds With Anne Sexton

By now all of you who reads my blogs and/or knows me, can gather I am a serious fan of Anne Sexton’s work. I continue to search out new material that opens the door to her as a writer foremost, and also as a human being so I can attempt to get a better understanding behind her work, from the perspective of Anne Sexton.

Below is a clip I discovered which has some candid moments through which Anne Sexton shows who she is as a person, real and alive.

The clip here and the few clips I have found on the internet can give us, who did not have a chance to know who she was, a lasting impression on the writer, her life, and the webs in between. Below is one of my favorite Sexton poems:

by Anne Sexton

Some ghosts are women,
neither abstract nor pale,
their breasts as limp as killed fish.
Not witches, but ghosts
who come, moving their useless arms
like forsaken servants.
Not all ghosts are women,
I have seen others;
fat, white-bellied men,
wearing their genitals like old rags.
Not devils, but ghosts.
This one thumps barefoot, lurching
above my bed.
But that isn't all.
Some ghosts are children.
Not angels, but ghosts;
curling like pink tea cups
on any pillow, or kicking,
showing their innocent bottoms, wailing
for Lucifer.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pull Up The Sheets

The most interesting thing about dreams is you get to experience all the “stuff” with seemingly no consequences, commitment, etc, etc and so and so forth…you get the picture.

But there are times you dream something you want to keep. You want to be able to reflect back and say, yeah, I was there, or I did that. In those cases I am usually left with a distinct feeling inside. And though I rarely remember anything other than the fact I know I dreamt something, it is these cases that the dream is vivid and sticks inside my noodle as if it was the marinara sauce.

Here it is:

The dream is at a writers conference, which is in the near future. So I seem to be dreaming events that have yet to happen. This conference is special because I plan on meeting a fellow writer and close friend at the conference. Though I feel I have known her for a bazillion years we have yet to meet face to face.

So the dream progresses where I am in the big ass room where the event has been going on. The place is full of poets and writers from all over the state. It is your typical seminar/conference atmosphere with people mingling and making small talk, discussing the poet’s frame of mind, the angle of the prose and all that good stuff we talk about. The weird thing is how I can remember this after dreaming it 3 days ago.

Walking through the crowd I suddenly realize that I have yet to spend any time with my friend whom I so wanted to get together with for so long. I become frantic and increasingly stressed knowing that it is the last day of the conference and I have wasted the opportunity to sit face to face with my long time writing twin. And twin is a good term I think. As the years have passed, her and I have almost consumed each other’s brain I feel, so that we have similar thoughts, can understand each other’s frame of mind, that kind of thing. Almost like a marriage, sorry to use that term, but as some people confess that after so many years you have that invisible umbilical cord connecting you together, not in a restrictive way, but in a good way.

So here I am running through this sea of writers in search of my missing friend. CAN’T FIND HER! Now I am to the point of really freaking out as I know the time is short and I wanted to spend every possible minute with her. I don’t know what to do. Suddenly I see, my Dad. Yes, my friggin’ Dad is at the conference! So I ask him where is ****? Like he is supposed to know who that is. And as her and I have discussed yesterday, I may need counseling due to the fact my Dad is in this dream at this particular moment. Not sure where that came from and not sure I wanted to know. Well he doesn’t know and I continue to search the conference area trying to find her. Never did.

To end this dream story I woke up incredibly stressed out and had some anxiety the whole day because the dream was so vivid and the feelings were so strong.

So I am hoping that I am not very good at all at foretelling the future and that at the fall conference we get a chance to catch up and face to face have some crazy conversation that we often do over the airwaves. That would be a dream come true…

Friday, May 29, 2009

Anne Sexton

I have been of late reading the biography of Anne Sexton written by Diane Wood Middlebrook, a gift from another writer friend. I am a fan of Sexton’s poetry, and being a writer myself, obviously I am interested in the inner workings of successful poet.

The biography is quite candid and brings up several questions in my mind and I have heard the same come up among other writer/poets. Is there a link to creativity and internal turmoil? In communications with others it may seem the case but everyone is different inside and different on what goes on outside.

Anyway, where I am going with this is I came across this article and thought I would share it.

November 14, 1994
Exploring the Links Between Depression, Writers and Suicide

When the poet Anne Sexton learned of Sylvia Plath's suicide in 1963, she was horrified. "That death was mine," she said. Eleven years later, wrapped in a fur coat that once belonged to her mother, she sat in her car with the engine running in a closed garage and ended her life.

Literary artists have always been drawn to death as a subject, but a disproportionate number of them have also courted it in their personal lives. In a daylong conference at the 92d Street Y on Friday, several scholars and writers explored the links between depression, creativity and suicide, primarily in the life and work of Sexton, Plath and Ernest Hemingway. The conference,

"Wanting to Die: Suicide and American Literature," was organized by the American Suicide Foundation.

The novelist William Styron recounted his own battle with depression, told in his book "Darkness Visible," and pointed to the warning signs of his illness in his novels. "I now realize that depression and thoughts of suicide have been an integral part of my creative personality throughout my life," he said.

Three of the main characters in his novels kill themselves, Mr. Styron said. Moreover, the depressive mental states that he described in detail from "Lie Down in Darkness" and "Sophie's Choice" uncannily anticipated his own illness.

In rereading his work, Mr. Styron said, "I began to realize all my work was of an incipient depressive personality struggling to prevent the demons of mood disorder from crowding in."

Mr. Styron joins a long and illustrious roster of literary figures who battled depression and despair. Kay Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and the author of "Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament," said writers were 10 to 20 times as likely as other people to suffer manic-depressive or depressive illnesses, which lead to suicide more often than any other mental disorders do.

It is not surprising that these mood disorders seem most at home in the artistic mind. "The cognitive style of manic-depression overlaps with the creative temperament," Ms. Jamison said. Researchers have found that in a mildly manic state, subjects think more quickly, fluidly and originally. In a depressed state, subjects are self-critical and obsessive, an ideal frame of mind for revision and editing. "When we think of creative writers," Ms. Jamison said, "we think of boldness, sensitivity, restlessness, discontent; this is the manic-depressive temperament."

The demons that pursued Mr. Styron gave Sexton her richest subject matter, and eventually consumed her. Diane Middlebrook, the author of a recent biography of Sexton, said that initially she resisted ending her biography with the suicide, for fear that it would dismantle the image of Sexton as a woman who found in the wreckage of her life the raw material from which she constructed poetry of unusual power and immediacy.

In the end, she acceded to Sexton's wishes and, so to speak, assisted in her suicide. "She neither could have nor should have been prevented from ending her life that day," Ms. Middlebrook said. "The best thing I could do as a biographer was honor her intention without flinching."

Herbert Hendin, a professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College and then executive director of the American Suicide Foundation, rejected the notion that Sexton's suicide was inevitable. "This is tempting to therapists and biographers," he said. "It softens the desperation of the act and provides solace for the reader."

Both Ms. Middlebrook and Sexton's analyst, Dr. Martin T. Orne, made the same mistake, he said, in not challenging a central premise governing Sexton's psychiatric treatment, namely that she had nothing to offer but her poetry.

Perhaps more than other artists, writers can be seduced by the attractiveness of suicide as a means of controlling their life story. Several speakers pointed out the tendency of suicide to become a powerful image or metaphor, one that takes root in the mind and flourishes. "Both Sylvia Plath and Sexton shared the notion that a great artist's life must end in death," Ms. Middlebrook said. "You stop before you write more bad stuff. Sexton applauded Hemingway's suicide. She said 'Good for him.' "

Hemingway, of course, was almost programmed for suicide. His father killed himself, and so did a brother and a sister. Evidence of his obsession with death and decay appears in his earliest juvenile writing and constitutes his grand theme in the mature work.

"He blamed his father for committing suicide, because he saw it as cowardice," said Scott Donaldson, the author of "By Force of Will," a biography of Hemingway. "It was not suicide as suicide that got to him, but the idea of a guy running away from a fight." In the end, Hemingway's resolve unraveled as his health failed and he became subject to paranoid delusions.
As a partial explanation of the nearly irresistible pull of suicidal tendencies, Robert Jay Lifton, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the City University of New York, proposed something he called the suicide construct. The construct is an internalized image or idea of oneself as a suicide that often comes from a family member who has committed suicide. "There is also the quest for a future in suicide, the desire to make a statement in a way that the person could not in life," he said. Mr. Lifton described the novelist Yukio Mishima as having a suicide construct so strong that death for him became something like an erotic object.

Plath, like Hemingway, tried to confront her stalker. "She had to go after her dead father and look him in the eye," said A. Alvarez, a poet, critic and novelist and a friend of Plath. "For her, death was a violent struggle with a thug. She handled it with a certain relish and sardonic energy."

Mr. Alvarez argued that Plath's death was the "intolerable cost of a certain type of modernist art." Like Robert Lowell and John Berryman, she used her own sickness as subject matter. "This solitary enterprise, when you push it in a certain way, is a high-risk activity," he said. "The byproduct of her particular form of originality was that she ended up killing herself."

Whatever your take is on the subject, you must admit that many times the inspiration comes from the hurting we have inside. Many of us struggle and pour out that pain.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I saw a hummingbird for the first time this year. Sitting out back on the deck enjoying the afternoon sun, and a cocktail. The only thing to do was to get out the old feeder and make some hummingbird nectar so the little guys stay around the area. Here is the secret recipe:

2 Cups Sugar
3 Cups Water

Bring water to a boil, add sugar and continue boiling
one minute. Cool one hour and add red food coloring
if desired. Store in refrigerator.

This was a recipe given to my daughter Meg when she was around five or so by someone I worked with and his wife. As you can see, not too complicated but a proven mix that attracts the hummingbird and keeps them coming back for more.

This couple, Maynard and Patty, had just built a new log home north of Wausau deep in the woods. Today I couldn’t take you there without getting lost first but it was in an area where the next house was miles away.

We were invited there a few times and our first visit was around the beginning of June. The couple wanted to show us the house now that it was completed except for some landscaping projects. I clearly remember the incredible number of hummingbirds flying around the yard. They had feeders all over the property for hummingbirds, but also seed feeders for most other birds, so you can imagine that the air was full of every kind of Wisconsin bird. It was unbelievable to me as I am a bird nut and could spend hours patiently waiting for any kind of bird to fly up to the feeder.

So every year when the first hummingbird is spotted I think of them and the “swarm” of hummingbirds that they could enjoy on a regular basis. Me, I am just glad to have one set flying within the airspace of my yard here in a small town in central Wisconsin. The small creature adds beauty and grace to an afternoon of enjoying the warm sun, family and the lens of my camera.

Reminds me of a poem I had written a few years back entitled “Hummingbird” which ties the frantic-like search they have for food and our need we have for relationships and love in our lives as if it were food we frantically needed.


The sun shone today,
leaving a ray of hope on the pillow,
caressed gently by the warm breeze,
I pretend to sleep.

Lying here next to you,
I listen, hearing your shallow breath—
content to watch an angel
slowly emerge from secret dreams.

In the distance outside,
past the blue faded window sill,
surrounded by the bloom of the honeysuckle
I hear the hummingbirds dance.

Thirsting for the sweet taste
of a nectar reserved for them—
attracted by the color and scent,
longing for the reward it seeks.

Their beating wings give away the secret,
the intent of their longing desire,
never to tire in the search,
until it has tasted them all.

Laying silently, as if lifeless
a man hoping to believe it has become real,
searching for the reasons why we try,
not understanding this wall we’ve built.

A westerly wind whistles through the screen
moving sheer curtains as waves of the sea.
And as I pray for the sun to continue to shine,
I hear the distant rolling of the thunder.

To end this blog I just have to include the writing on the back of the recipe card that I almost forgot was there. The card was specifically meant for my daughter and the couple thought it necessary to include any insight that would help in the hummingbird world. Here’s what they wrote:

“First time in spring (usually they come back 2nd week of May)
make stronger using 2 cups of sugar - 2 cups of water
to attract them. If you feed them the strong stuff all the time they
may develop diabetes, then their eyesight goes and they fly into
stuff and act hyper…kind of like your Dad”.

So now is the time to get that hummingbird feeder out along with any other bird feeder you have yet to fill and enjoy our feathered friends.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

June Bug

I find more and more ironic-ish things in life that really show I need to keep life itself and all the little things that go wrong in perspective. It appears that we could let the small stuff continually and daily keep us from seeing the big picture and understand today is today, and not to trivialize all the junk that seems to come up.

I write this because last year I was witness to something that made me think about this and yet today, continue to bring it up in my head from time to time. It was something that I planned on writing a short story on but as you can tell, never got its wheels going. So I decided to enter this as a long overdue blog entry.

Here it is:

It was last year; I would say early to mid summer. As most American males, and I don’t leave out all the hard working woman of the land, but like most males (in my neighborhood) I trekked out on a Saturday afternoon for the weekly lawn mowing chore. In my backyard I have a shed that holds all of my treasured gardening tools, purchased to ensure my Garden of Eden stays that way. As I walk to the shed I pick up a few lost twigs which the maple in the far corner seems to shed each week and enjoys watching me from above picking up after it. Next to the shed is a rain barrel that is an essential eyesore in my backyard when the dry July/August weeks appear. I have the habit of peering into the barrel every time I walk by due to finding a few dead and rotting corpses floating in the pea green water. The bloated maggot infested gray squirrel was the grossest and by far had the greatest stench.

Today looking into the barrel, no rotting corpse of a tree crawling rodent or a starling that thought he could swan dive into the fifty-five gallon barrel without consequence. But I did notice a lone June bug floating in the center of the barrel, and not seemingly enjoying the chore. I watched him for a moment, really without much thought, and soon went about my lawn-beautifying chore.

I must admit I am a fanatic when it comes to my lawn and flower gardens needing them to look their best at all times. This being said, you can now understand that I may mow my lawn more than once a week just so the clippings aren’t to long, making the backyard look like the hayfields which are prevalent here in Wisconsin. I also have to disclose to you that if I don’t get to the lawn early enough and the clipping become too long for me to tolerate, I have a lawn sweeper that picks them up efficiently and with minimal effort.

Well it is now a week and again I mosey on back to the shed to start up the ole Briggs and Stratton engine to again trim away at the sea of green around my house. And again I look inside the dreaded rain barrel to see what the evil thing has captured this week, hoping it isn’t some decapitated raccoon, or the neighbors constantly barking dog. To my astonishment, I see the June bug floating in the imitation pond, his legs still pumping away trying to find the sandy beach. I remember thinking to myself that this could not be in any way the same June bug from last week. But off I went to trim away at the fine hairs of the backyard, keeping up with the broadleaved assassins who tirelessly try to take over the lawn.

Now it is week three of this little tale. Again it is time to mow the grass. It was a perfect day, clear blue skies and a hint of a southerly breeze that made the trees rustle just enough to make the maple seems alive. As I walk to the shed to retrieve the mower I perform my usual routine and peek into the rain barrel, which is quite full due to the rain that week. And as I look into the barrel I see nothing resembling a lost kitten or small primate that may have been lured into the barrel to meet its demise. But I do find…yes you guessed it! That damn June bug floating in the rain barrel, the water now clearer due to the refreshing rain captured off the roof of the shed. Now at this point I am in awe of this fat, sticky legged insect, for he is still kicking away trying to find some place that he can latch those sticky legs on to get out of the rain barrel. But now his efforts seem lethargic and I notice little clumps of white on his legs, though not sure what that is all about I think it is the same whitening we get when we lay in the bathtub too long, and our hands and feet get waterlogged and turn white.

At this point I am thinking enough is enough. This little June bug has withstood three weeks that I know of, in the rain barrel and is still adamant on getting the hell out. Here is where I decide to get involved and become the June bugs savior. I find a small twig, graciously donated by the maple tree and dip it in the water in front of the floating insect. After a bit the June bug realizes that this could be a good thing for him and latched his waterlogged limbs onto the stick with whatever strength he has left. Happy to help I then take the stick and set it on the lush green grass for him to dry off and get back his strength to continue his bug life for whatever that amounts to.

Now at this point I’m feeling pretty good about the whole thing. A beautiful day, a warm sun with a slight breeze to keep the sweat from forming those dark stains around the armpit area (you know the ones). Collecting my thoughts a bit, I now reset my priorities on the task at hand. Mr. June bug who is now comfortably sitting in the grass seemed to be doing just fine clinging to the green heaven, which I would think it would seem after being in a watery hell for three friggin’ weeks.

Looking down at him one last time and about ready to turn to get some lawn work done, in a split second a crow swoops down and snatches the June bug up and away he goes, into the clear blue sky, drenched by the warm sun, following the southerly breeze just to be eaten in the day of his deliverance. How ironic can that be? Saved only to be devoured by another means. Such is life. Enjoy what we have left of it because at any time, something could change the things we have now, leaving what we thought was mundane into the things we wished we could have again.