Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Free Range Flash Fiction

thirty short stories a thousand words or less

Available on Amazon
$5.99 + shipping

Available on Kindle
$3.00 at the Kindle Store

Thursday, June 21, 2018

of course i care about the immigration fiasco, i don't post all over my facebook about it, but yes, i dealt with visitors, students, asylum-seekers, etc. for thirty years. on facebook, two different trump-supporters just called me "seriously bent" or something like that, because i said, basically, that the whole thing pushed everyone's nazi buttons. it occurred to me, because i'm seriously bent, that it's even worse than that. here's my theory.

a lot of us leftists, i figure, are reborn from the holocaust. this would explain why everything that trump does that has vaguely nazi overtones, like say that he thinks everyone should pay attention when he speaks, this sets those nazi buttons off. and because we are in numbers, the media begins to respond. so, a grisly picture of a dark wal-mart with bodies strewn about, that looks like a concentration camp, that gets wider press. it presses all those buttons. it associates trump with hitler.

now i realize there are a lot of outrageous claims in here, not the least of which is that there is a lot or reincarnation going on, and most people don't really believe in that. but even if there's not, the rest of it makes sense. we all grew up with pictures of concentration camps, and wondering how normal people could allow such a thing in their midst, and how religion played a role, and how it was all about race. for most of us, it's not hard to push those buttons. but a lot of things that trump/sessions did played right into it. sessions said they'd put the kids "wherever." trump called them "animals" and said they were an "infestation." people rushed around to make sure we couldn't see the inside of those wal-marts, and tried to figure out who was in there, and what exactly was going on. church folks stumbled and mumbled about whether it was ok to separate families. everybody pointed fingers at whoever it was that started it.

to me, it was all kind of like "sophie's choice," one of the most seriously disturbing movies i've ever watched. yes, families get separated all the time. yes, it happens every time there's a crime like robbing a bank, and if you call seeking asylum a crime, then yes. but trumpers seemed surprised that an entire nation would get worked up over his tearing children away from their parents. to him, remember, they're just animals anyway, so what's the big deal? but even his wife got in on the act, and there were political cartoons about his holding children hostage, which, basically, he was. and in return for their release he got to hold them indefinitely...

nazi language is increasingly common. many of my friends just called the "holding centers" concentration camps. it's when i began calling them that myself, that i said, wait a minute. generally i have avoided comparing the everyday to the nazi (for example, what's the difference between trump and hitler? hitler was democratically elected)...such things give people a chill in their spine and make people who are operating in the american arena seem monstrous in a way that perhaps isn't fair. but germany was very normal, normal in the way that we consider today's america normal, and killed six million jews as a product of normal wartime identification of who was "enemy" and who was "german." to say it can't happen here is simply blind.

i bring up that reincarnation stuff because, deep down, i feel like i was there. when i start using "concentration camps" to describe "holding camps," it's very real to me. sometimes i wonder if it's images from sophie's choice, or images deep in my soul, that i'm responding to, but on some level i think it's both. in this world i have always been deeply, strongly, opposed to racism. it kills people. it reduces normal people to people who don't recognize humanity in others. there's already way too much of that.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

you got ten kids in america, father's day is a pretty big deal. i did pretty well in that regard - my kids gave me things, including two videos, and a card which is supposedly in the mail - and treated me pretty well. i have no complaint.

also the weather was gorgeous, but that's based on the fact that i'm way up high in the mountains, and it rained a couple of days ago, and dry mountainsides full of pine trees all of a sudden had their dust washed off, and they were green and wet-smelling. it was gorgeous. we headed out to the land - about twenty miles from town - but had to come back, halfway, because we'd forgotten the key. no problem. it was maybe sixty miles altogether, but about the most gorgeous miles i've ever seen. and the dust, pretty much contained, by the recent rains.

another feature, and that is the young trees springing up on the hillsides. i love to see natural regeneration. fire takes whole hillsides every once in a while - every few years - but it just keeps coming back, the trees that is. lots of natural young trees shooting up and angling for what little rain there is. and those young pines - they smell good, too. it's a gorgeous little five acres.

one thing i like about it is that it's kind of on the edge of nowheresville - way out there. more about this later...

Friday, June 15, 2018

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

lookin' kind of ominous out there, overcast, with thunder and rainstorms passing through the area. we've all been kind of on edge, hoping for rain, as we generally don't get much this time of year, not until maybe july, so the sheer dryness of everything is kind of driving everyone crazy. people snip at each other over whether it's ok to fire guns randomly at this time of year; firecrackers are a huge issue, as they are generally banned altogether, though some people insist on firing them off anyway. just about anything that burns can pretty much catch the whole mountaintop on fire, so we're especially wary of tourists, or people who don't read signs, or in some cases, people who are both at once. but the locals are probably just as likely to endanger us as anyone.

an elk hit my truck last night; i was driving slowly, windows down, on a mountain road coming into town near big daddy's. someone was coming from town and rustled this elk out of their eastbound lane and right into my driver's door. he put a dent in it but didn't ruin it or make it so it wouldn't shut. the guys in the other car stopped to check it out and said the door could probably be popped back in place; having figured out that we (i) in the truck were ok, and the elk was gone (he bounded off, wounded as he was), the guys left; they were mountain kids, vaguely familiar, respectful. it was our surprise that the elk had hit me, that i hadn't hit it; but, that's the way it was.

nothing worse than having a kid that goes off his meds, maybe because he thinks he doesn't need them, or just because his life is in such a place where he doesn't care. people love him, and know, even from a distance, that things are disjointed, not right, all is not well. one can read it in his posts, which have an edge, but no grammar, no complete thought. just the edge. the hard edge, the raw feelings untempered. that's the kind of feelings that can get you in a fight, get you beat up, ruin you. of course we're all out here going, take your meds, take your meds. get this back under control. nothing worse, than being so powerless, sit way out here, hope your kid gets his head back.

we can feel the rain coming; it's come up over the valley now, and there's thunderous sounds of imminent water. there's been no rain to speak of for months, maybe a few drops here and there. i brought in what i could but a huge sheet of plywood remains up on the road; i'd brought it from the country, to make sure we could get the refrigerator down the steps and past the place where the plumber, in desperate fury, tore up the walk trying to find the leaky water main. the water main busted because we put a huge wall in, to keep the road from caving in toward the house. it's all a big one-thing-after-another kind of drama that might take up my whole summer.

started putting my haiku up on twitter randomly, just whichever one had an edge, whichever one might catch someone's eye. one day i'd do idaho, another georgia, and after the haiku i'd link to the haiku site which of course now has about sixty for each state. most tweets fall randomly into the sea of extra words but i thought maybe the visual nature of haiku would be like a stone in a pond, it would make a blip, maybe somebody would notice. turns out, new jersey noticed. on that site, where it tracks visitors, it got over a hundred on that day.

such is life; it goes on, and we wait for the rain.

Friday, June 08, 2018

the clouds came over and dropped about four drops of rain in our yard; I happened to be there, because I happened to step out to pee at about 5 45 am. this is because the water has been shut off here for about two days. we have four kids at home, two more who are more or less staying here most of the time, and a refrigerator that is not quite operating up to task, but the water leak was almost the last straw. all of a sudden all this ivy that is on the wall, that keeps the road from caving in on us, is doing so well; it's bright green, and seeming to get an infinite supply of water somewhere. well, that's our water bill, some rusty old pipes that come down from the street down into our house, that run our systems, most notably toilets, showers, dishwasher and laundry, well, all that has ground to a halt.

but those four drops, to tell you the truth, didn't amount to much. there could have been a few more, sometime in the middle of the night, or maybe afterward, and i wouldn't have noticed. in fact it probably could be said that a few clouds have passed through and possibly dropped a few here and there, over the course of the last week. a couple of days ago my wife and daughter were out at a trailer, about four miles away, and experienced a few drops out there, while there was nothing here. yes, that's possible. fire danger is still extreme. it's still important, we are told, to keep all fires indoors and avoid smoking anything outside.

when we go down into the valley, we go from about eighty, which is tolerable, to about a hundred, which makes us want to turn back around and go back up the mountain. the firefighters over in mescalero are probably operating in about ninety degree heat, without much water, but with the benefit of helicopters dropping slurry around the perimeter. i'm not sure exactly how this works. is slurry a kind of wet, muddy stuff that won't work with the ashes to ruin the surroundings? who knows. i wish them well out there. we've got firefighters from the surrounding states, from all over, coming to fight this particular fire. we don't hear much about it. yes, it started in soldier canyon, not far from the town of mescalero, in the middle of the mescalero reservation. it was human-caused. it was set somewhere behind what's called the "ceremonial grounds" of the mescalero res. it's up to 2500 acres, but they said that the same night as the fire started. what's unusual to me is, there isn't much public information that really keeps us updated about the containment, about the wind, about how large it is now, etc. they know all this stuff, they just consider themselves too busy to share it with the public.

folks are jumpy about fires here. for one thing, it hasn't really rained substantially since about october, so the extreme fire danger level, everyone knows that's justified; it applies to all of us; where there is a lot of underbrush, which is almost everywhere, there is a possibility; it's all a tinderbox, and any given flame could catch the whole valley. And the heck of it is, it does, every couple of years or so. a few years ago it caught the sierra blanca slopes, and that whole valley was just burned up, in days, thirty or forty, or maybe sixty or seventy, years growth in pines and firs, all went up in smoke in days. another year it was the valley our land was in; that might have been 12-15 years ago. whole mountainsides went up in smoke. everyone started over. there are some very tall pines, with branches at the top, that somehow survived; they overlook the new development of small pines that are springing up and making a new kind of ground cover.

in our house, people are waking up for sunday morning. we may have to turn on the water, so we can do a load of dishes and laundry, and people can take showers if they want. it's mostly self-absorbed kids here; they don't know or care about the mescalero fire. one daughter had a birthday, and just got a doll that poops. she's ten, but that doll, angel, is very important to her. i've just finished teaching three classes, early each morning, friday saturday and today, and i do these almost in my sleep, but the last one, actually, is the most lively. those chinese kids actually read books, and live for them, and talk about them, and relate them to their lives. i find this kind of remarkable, and invigorating. my own kids have lost interest in books. they would rather watch some little pac-man type character walk around beeping with the sound off, as this seems more like what they'd want to do for the summer. eighty is just about right, for hanging around the living room staring at one's phone. you have to stay near your charger, and make sure the food keeps on coming, but then, you kick back, and there goes summer.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

got the do-your-own-pr blues. i also feel like i don't have that much out there really. spent my quarter-time, for almost four years in texas, playing music and developing my writing. what do i have to show for it? lots of poetry, which mostly people ignore, five books of short stories, which do ok, quaker plays, and, well, that's about it. my son is off on his fourth youtube channel and each one makes more than all my work combined.

the problem is, when i got into finishing my autobiography, that there are really a lot of choices there, and i hadn't really thought about them. i'd done almost all the writing, in fact, all, so that now, having proofread it, i can say i'm done. there's a few more things i want to put into it, and will; it's about a hundred jam-packed, small-type pages and will probably be more like 180 when it all comes out on a book. one of the choices is, make a proof, and show it when asked, or just publish it? another choice is, include some stuff or not. and finally, it was written over a course of ten years or so, and writing style changed a little. i could update that style - the present version has a lot of dashes, and isn't very formal - or, i could simply sharpen up parts of it so it's a mishmash of different styles, leaning toward the present. i'm leaning toward that second option, because i've called it true stories from out there which advertises, basically, that i wrote them originally here. i did. i wrote them over a period of about twelve years, with a kind of casual, dash-throwing style. and i might want to keep that, if only to say, this is what i've written over the years.

i did that to some degree with the plays. when faced with the option of updating, making them current and the best possible, incorporating all my knowledge of play-writing, still i chose to go with the original format, just proofread it and stuck it in there as it was. there's something to be said for a set of things written over time, and not having the same values applied systematically to all of them, so that one can actually see evolution over time.

in this case there are a hundred chapters. fifty, running straight through, the even ones, are autobiographical and tell the story of my life in order, given fifty different places i lived. because in fact i could only remember forty eight i added a chapter or two, maybe i considered the appalachian trail as a place i lived, as i lived there for about ten days, before moving on. whatever. on the story side, true stories from out there, it shows a little of my geographical orientation as well - not every story has a surprise climax, or even a point. if i think about it, i could probably make it so that it has the best of my stories, of every one i've ever told. some of those are included, in much smaller form, within other chapters. so there are some choices to be made about the prominence of stories.

anyway knowing it was almost done, and feeling a little up by virtue of getting the thousand haiku off my plate, i applied myself to this autobiography thinking that, within a week, i could get it done. it's a week, or maybe two, and not done. and also, i'm a little hesitant about publishing it. ex-wives, people who might object - what does a person do? my goal there was just to tell the truth, minimally - stuff you can't argue about. still it might bother people. my version in some cases directly contradicts others'.

but all this isn't the p-r blues. the p-r blues are as follows. i want to take my summer and do the stuff that will make what i've written so far, sell better. and i want to do this without spending money, because i've gotten this principle in mind, that i just don't want to spend money generating sales. i have managed so far, and actually i'm proud of myself, because a lot of people put major investment into generating sales, and generally, i haven't. so what i've got, i got all my myself, in a home-generated p-r system that includes mostly only blogs, amazon and acx, the tools that provide self-made profile sites. now i say this confidently and happily; to me it's a matter of pride. yet i sit here with no sales (or close to none) and get depressed. i sit down to write and, faced with my own life story, can't get past it.

i go outside, and a thick cloud comes over the mountain, but no rain. the clouds gather and pass over, from the south, and later in the summer, i'm sure we'll get some moisture. but at the moment, it's hazy, and cloudy, and nothing. extreme fire danger. no smoking outdoors. brittle as a pile of sticks.

such as it is, i'll just hold the line, so to speak, and carry on.

meet the author

Wed., July 4, 2018
Imaginary Bookstore
Cloudcroft NM

Friday, June 01, 2018

the sun is going down over the hills; i'm a little frustrated with the early parts of the vacation. i finished e pluribus haiku 2018 (see below) and have gone on an all-out publicity venture. after that, though, it's over. i think one can get as much publicity as one wants, and one is not going to sell a whole lot of haiku. no problem, though, i will move along. i will either make one giant haiku book, five or six thousand haiku, including a novel, or at least a plot, with characters, etc., or i will give it up altogether.

my efforts at recording my own book have kind of flopped. here it is, a classic collection of seventeen stories; i have now recorded maybe four of them, and am just not happy with the quality. i need my son to help with the sound, but he's busy, making his own new youtubes. no time for a dad who truly doesn't understand the audio setup. and my voice is tinny, echo-filled, not good; i can't seem to clean it up. maybe i simply didn't understand the mic? not sure, but something didn't work, big-time.

so, in my baby-sitting times, when i'm really occupying this chair, and not trying to record, not doing any of the house projects i'd lined up for the summer, i've done this: proofread just passing through, memoirs that i've been working on for years, and that are also almost finished. those stories in many cases link off the template of this very blog (scroll down), but have been waiting in a side drawer of history for many years, and it's about time i got them off my desk. i have almost proofread the whole thing, but that required me to wallow in my first marriage and other unpleasant circumstances of my past, so it led to some agitation on my part. right now i'm kind of stuck on the amish. for example, i always looked up to them, admired their simplicity and healthy lifestyle, yet couldn't deny the various problems they had as a result of rejecting so much of the modern world. well i actually have all kinds of stuff to say about it but how much really belongs in memoirs? after all i haven't known more than two or three of them, my entire life, though even that is probably more than most people. but i come to this part of my memoirs that is full of snark and i'm thinking to myself, do i want anyone really to have a problem with this? none of the amish ever did me wrong, that i remember, so i guess my answer is, tone down the snark, except inasmuch as it's about my own silly attempts to live simply and humbly.

then, i'm a little frustrated with music. i play the banjo still, every couple of days, but i really only have a few songs on it, and never seem to get beyond those. that's the whole reason i took up the fiddle - yet, on fiddle, i really need people with me, to play anything good, and, by myself, it's even more frustrating. it's not like i pick it up and just play all these cool songs that are in my head. no, now that i don't pick it up, i can't even keep the songs in my head. very frustrating!

with quakerism i'm also frustrated, but there, going online seems to give me enough camaraderie, enough other quakers in my life, a kind of worldwide group of people with the same ideals. it would be good to have a meeting; it would also be good to have an entire community, of people who lived in a given area, who were committed to quaker ideals. i can't wait forever though. there are some in las cruces, and i know them well enough, and i find it difficult to go way across the desert on a sunday morning. but with that, i'm ok with it. after all, i spent much of my life without an adequate quaker community, and it looks like i might spend a bit more like that too. online can make up for it to a great degree.

that's the view from this chair. the wind is howling, blowing over the baking plains and coming up here, to the top of this hill, where i try not to budge, and try to work all this stuff out. it's not all going to be hunky-dory, obviously. no sooner do i take a breath, from finishing a grueling academic year, than i find all this other stuff that needs my attention, and i just don't have all that much attention. i have attention for what apparently might be some rain coming, maybe sunday. that would be wonderful. but we up here in this dry country are used to a little disappointment, too.