My friend, Bob Okaji, has won the 2021 Etchings Press Poetry Prize with what figures to be a poignant set of poems, titled My Mother’s Ghost Scrubs the Floor at 2 a.m. Get it from the University of Indianapolis now, and we can compare notes on this sure-to-be meaningful and affecting collection.
I’m delighted to report that I’ve been named the winner of the 2021 Etchings Press Poetry prize! The publication date for My Mother’s Ghost Scrubs the Floor at 2 a.m.is May 5. Etchings Press, a student-run publisher at University of Indianapolis, is offering copies for $10.00.
Many thanks to the Etchings Press staff, and to The Indianapolis Revieweditor Natalie Solmer for publishing the title poem in fall 2019, and subsequently nominating it for a Pushcart Prize. My new home, Indianapolis, has been very kind to me!
It’s day whatever of the coronavirus pandemic in the States, and I scurried out into the apartment complex to get some jogging in on our deserted tennis court. There’s only so much I could do to maintain fitness in our small apartment. Here are a few shots from that excursion, including the pollen goblins clinging to my little Tardis car.
When I first jogged out my door and into the parking lot, I thought “oh, look, some kids have used yellow chalk on the sidewalks, and the rain’s washed it away.” Nope, it wasn’t synthetic art—instead, pollen had pooled on every surface. In the near term, Nature continues on, unabated. With or without humans’ direct involvement.
After jogging, I mooded out to RUSH’s “Losing It,” which has always been poignant but is now . . . what with Neil’s death and coronavirus and climate change and everyone seemingly imperiled (if nothing else, financially) . . . deeper than ever before. As a gig and part-time worker, I got the late word just today that I may not work again in the office until who-knows-when.
It’s easy to give in to unhappiness. As a person who’s warred with depression for decades, I almost want to quit. But I’m trying to beat those devils of despair away. For me, movement (physical, intellectual, emotional) often does the trick.
And so, I remain hopeful. I greet most passersby and feel bolstered when I see “everyday people” calling to each other with a smile, a wave, or a kind greeting— all of us from afar. It is the walkers’ and joggers’ version of singing from our balconies. We dispel the loneliness through kinetic motion. Plus, there are so many professional and amateur “helpers” out there (as Fred Rogers liked to say), that I can’t (won’t) let myself mope too much. My static grief does not help.
We can do this. We will do this.
Finally, one almost last message (for today) to any who may venture here: Stay well and keep writing, making music, drawing, painting, playing board games with your kids, dancing like a goofball (if you’re as ungraceful as I!), and helping one another out.
In Scottish, Irish, Manx and Gaelic mythology the goddess of winter is known as the the Cailleach, Beira or theCailleach Bheur, which means old woman or hag. In Celtic mythology she had a similar role to Jörð in Norse mythology and Gaia, in Greek mythology.
Donald Alexander Mackenzie
The Scottish folklorist Donald Alexander Mackenzie (1873 – 1936) wrote frequently on the subjects of mythology, anthropology and religion and developed a theory that there was a matriarchal society spread across Europe in Neolithic times.In his book, Myths of Crete and Pre-Hellenic Europe (1917), he argues that these early societies were gynocentric and matriarchal venerating goddesses above gods but during the Bronze Age a patriarchal society evolved supplanting it. Mackenzie called the Cailleach Bheur by the name of Beira, Queen of Winter.
He saw her as a giantess with a single eye who had her…
“Just one more pinch, et voilà.” Evie shrugs out of her Neptune-blue glove. “Our little omelet. Not edible of course.”
“She’s as lovely as her mother.”
“Mothers, plural.” She winks back at me.
Note: I wrote this microfiction piece for a call for submissions under 50 words and in which each word had to be seven letters or fewer. Originally, there was no title. Being who I am, I chose the science fiction or speculative fiction route, plus I’ve added this working title. It was not successful in the fray of competition, but I had fun writing and tweaking it and thought someone in the Great Out-There might enjoy reading it. I hope that that someone has been you.
Give your beloved–or yourself!–a truly memorable #Valentine’s Day present: #poetry from Robert Okaji’s newest chapbook, I Have a Bird to Whistle. It’s available now on pre-order in the U.S. from the publisher, Luminous Press (at Gumroad here: https://gumroad.com/l/KNeFt), and directly from Mr. Okaji if you’re international. Get one before its official release day, Feb. 25th, 2019, when it might fly away forever on the wings of swift sales/sails!
Luminous Press will be releasing my chapbook I Have a Bird to Whistle: 7 Palinodeslater this month. I’ll post links when available. Many thanks to editors Iskandar Haggarty and Julia Ortiz for publishing this collection.
A #weird tales $1.99 pre-sale ends today—so get your paws on the Rabbit Hole anthology while it’s still strange, possibly with faces coming out of the rain, even (here’s a link, as I don’t see the direct link in Sue’s blog post, unless you navigate on over to the Mellow Curmudgeon’s page, which is highly recommended also, but just in case you don’t, et voilà: https://www.books2read.com/u/4jDvXk).
Please do check it out if you’ve got a few extra bucks, knowing that not only have you supported independent authors but you’ve also helped the Against Malaria Foundation and people in malaria-prone locales, because at least a portion of proceeds from this #speculativefiction anthology will be donated. #amwriting #amreading #shortstories #againstmalaria #Halloween2018reads
Halloween is the last day to pre-order this excellent collection of weird stories for only $1.99. (For a taste of their tone, see a few of their blurbs below.) Beginning November 1, the ebook price will be $2.99, or you can have a paperback book to hold in your hands for $12.50.
It will be an intriguing addition to your library, and would make a welcome gift for anyone who cherishes a few hours of escape from Normal — or even the New Normal.
Woop, woop, it’s a Halloween Blog Party!!! Let’s all put on our best running shoes and get to Donna’s house, as long as it’s not on Elm Street, Lucifer Drive, etc. She’s definitely the (g)hostess with the mostest fun!
Bloggers and readers of every age. Wouldn’t you like tosee something strange? Come with me and you will see. This, our blog party of Halloween! Share it once, share it twice. Take a chance and roll the dice. Ride with the moon in the dead of night. Everybody scream, everybody scream!
In this blog party (share your links to your or others blog posts, books, social media, whatever!) of Halloween!
The more the scarier!!! #TheMoreTheScarier
Memories shape our lives and we cling to them as a witch clings to her flying broom (or vacuum). Some memories are comforting, others haunting. Do you remember the first time you heard: One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater? How about Monster Mash? Thriller? Dead Man’s Party…Sympathy for the Devil, Time Warp, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, Devil Went Down To Georgia?Dragula, Welcome to my Nightmare, This Is Halloween…Who You Gonna…
Friend Bob Okaji and others will be providing your soul with a healing dose of what I like to call “poetry Rx” on Saturday, October 20, at Malvern Books in #Austin (Texas). This #poem is an example of his work. Go, listen, learn, enjoy! #poetry #amreading #amlistening
Another word, another bewildered
moment in transition: the phrase
barely emerges from your mouth
before crumbling back into a half-opened
drawer in the loneliest room of a house
that died seventeen years ago.
I nod as if in understanding, and stoop
to pick up a crushed drinking straw,
the kind with the accordion elbow
that facilitates adjustment.
From a rooftop across the street,
a mockingbird warbles his
early morning medley of unrelated
songs, and you say left oblique,
followed by matches, then
collapse on a bench,
winded. I sit next to you
and we both enjoy the warmth
and birdsong, though I know
this only through the uplifted
corner of your mouth, which
these days is how you indicate
either deep pleasure or
fear. I have to leave soon,
I say, and you grab my wrist
and stare into my eyes. Broom…