Monday, April 30, 2007

I Did It!

National Poetry Month has come and gone, and I have survived the challenge! I managed to crank out a poem a day for every day in April. Quite a variety, from two haiku and a limerick to a longer narrative about my old house. There was a sonnet and a couple of other bits of rhymed verse in there, too. I got some inspiration from all over the place, too, including my wife, who gave me the seed for two poems. The month was overall a pretty good one: I read at three different venues, and I got my copy of The Wolf #14, a very fine poetry journal out of London edited by my friend James Byrne. You can visit their website here:
My poem "Character Assassin" is featured in that issue (print edition, not the website).

Short entry tonight - I'm bushed. I'll leave you with a poem from my challenge month:

George Washington's Teeth

They reside inside a glass pedestal
in the museum by his homestead.
Unlike the legend, they are not wood,
but a discolored composite of ivory and gold,
with spring-loaded jaw hinges.

Were these the same teeth
that pronounced the resigning of his commission,
thereby handing the reins to Congress?
Did these teeth work with lips and tongue
to utter the first oath of office?
Could these same teeth have nibbled Martha’s neck
in a rare unbridled moment of passion?

So help me, I mean no disrespect,
but when I see these antique dentures
they remind me of those windup chattering teeth,
not that I would imagine novelty choppers
inside George Washington’s head.
But I could certainly see them in the mouth
of a certain other president.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yeah, today is number 56 - man, that sounds old! I should be retired from the government by now, but it looks like I'll be stuck here for at least a few more years. At least today will be a good day at work - my friends are taking me out to lunch, I got a few cards, even flowers(!) from a coworker who likes to give everyone flowers for their birthday, and yesterday I got a cake from another friend who isn't in today. Tonight the family and I are going out to dinner.

I've taken up the "Poem-a-day" challenge for National Poetry Month, trying to write a poem a day for every day of April. For some poets that may not be a big deal, but my production and work ethic have been way down lately, so this is a good way to goose my muse. So far I'm 26 for 26 (still have to write one for today). Granted, these include two haiku and a limerick, but they still count. And some of them may actually be of some merit.

I forgot to mention in my intro blog that much of my poetry is available on a great poetry community site called I've been a member almost since I started writing again in 1999, and I am a former administrator (I left that post voluntarily as a personal decision). Not all my most recent stuff is accessible to non-members, but you are welcome to look at my library at If you're a poet, consider joining.

I'll leave you with a not-so-recent poem, but one I'm proud of: it was published by Schuylkill Valley Journal, who nominated it for a Pushcart Prize.

Last Frame

When I go out
let it be as a bowling ball:
sixteen-pound, resin-polished,
black as a January night.

Lob me down
that smooth varnished lane,
hardwood rumble,
a graceful arc –

scattering ten pins with
cacophonous clatter,
valedictory strike,
X in the box, a perfect frame.

Don’t wait for me
at the ball return.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Entering the 21st Century!

Well, I guess it's about time I started one of these things. Although it has the potential to become a diary without a key, I thought I'd give it a shot. Most of the folks in my little poetry group have one, so I figured it was time to join the ranks. As I test-drive this baby, I suppose I'll get more of a feel for it and figure out exactly what I want to do with it. Primarily, I will be discussing and promoting my poetry.

I'm a career civil servant, but I have always loved writing poetry. I wrote a lot in my high school and college days, and had a minor in English at Rutgers. (One of my professors was Miguel Algarin, who co-founded the Nuyorican Poetry movement in NYC, the prescursor to the "slam" movement.) But once marriage, career and parenthood kicked in, I put poetry on the back burner. Then in 1999 I had a "personal renaissance" and started writing prolifically, and within a year I had my first real poetry publication: my poem "How to Peel an Orange" was published by the online journal Stirring: A Literary Collection. (That's the origin of my blog's title.) Since then I've been published in over 40 different print and online journals, and I've won prizes and awards from ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, Writers' Journal, and The Philadelphia Writer's Conference. I've workshopped with such famous poets as Paul Muldoon, Molly Peaccok, and Terrance Hayes. One of my biggest thrills was meeting Billy Collins recently. My poem, "Last Frame", was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2005. I've published three chapbooks of poetry, the latest being Wire to the Heart, which is available from Maverick Duck Press ( I'm currently a member of Quick and Dirty Poets, a very talented group out of Burlington County, NJ.

My other love is music - not so much as performer (unless you count my experience as baritone horn in the high school band), but as an appreciator of fine music. My tastes run the gamut from pop and rock to jazz, New Age, blues, bluegrass, classical, folk and Celtic. I'm not a big fan of rap, mainstream country, American Idol, or most opera. I have an extensive CD collection and listen to them whenever I have a chance. I've published over a hundred music reviews (many of them Spotlight Reviews) on Favorites? Too many to mention, though I'd start with The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, Richard Thompson, Paul Simon, Altan, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Bach, Philip Glass, et al. Some "newer" artists who have caught my ear are New Pornographers, Spoon, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, and The Shins. I'll talk music with anyone, anytime.

I'm also a sucker for games, especially word games and trivia. I love Trivial Pursuit, acrostic puzzles, and games shows like Jeopardy. I have the distinction of having been a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire - twice! Never got to the "hot seat" with Regis, but on the second show I missed it by just 4/10 of a second.

I'm happily married for nearly 34 years to my college sweetheart, and we have four great boys, age 30 to 11. The oldest is finishing his doctorate and just accepted a position at Hofstra University. My two middle ones are graduating from Rutgers in May, and my youngest is looking forward to graduation to middle school.

I guess that's more than enough for now. Watch this space!