Verse on Groundhog Day

Lake Michigan Feb. 2, 2017
Six More Weeks
Hope peeks for cloudy skies;
Fearful of sun’s reach
To cast one’s own darkness.
Ugly. Timid. Rodent.
Watchful for the brightness,
Frightened by his shadow,
Turns inward for a stay.

A Word on Wednesday: Sum

The Latin sum (rhymes with room) translates to “I am.”
Sum is “a state of being.”


This is not to be confused as a verb such as
Today —
I am writing.
I am eating healthy foods.
I am loving my family.
I am packing for a family trip.
I am having a romantic dinner.
I am taking a walk.
I am enjoying the view from here.
I am grateful for this day
I am.
Regardless of if you are a mother, father, sister, brother, writer, accountant, teacher, child, black, white, rebulican, democrate, christian, muslim, greek, swimmer, runner, or any other affiliation or designation. Sum is simple entire.

I am.
That is all.
A complete sentence.
A complete thought.

A Word on Wednesday: Present

When the words present and presentation are brought to mind, images of light shows, power points, lectures, and other performances surface.

However, the verb present (pronounced pri-zent) means to furnish or endow, to bring, to give, to hand over, to introduce, to come to show. In the purest sense of the word, presenting is simply a notion of bringing ideas into someone’s presence. 

Present, used as a verb, is a combination of Old French and Medieval Latin influence. The word marries the ideas of offering and presently.

Writing is merely a presentation. Words are committed to page as an offering to a reader.

The work one does is what is presented to the commonwealth. Indeed, the involuntary act of living is a presentation. One’s life can be noted, bookmarked, remarked upon, remembered, ignored, or bypassed.

A Word on Wednesday: Will

Today’s post is about the word will when used as an auxiliary verb. An auxiliary verb is used in forming tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs. Will moves an action to the future.

After we collectively counted down the last minutes of 2016, we embarked on 2017 with its promise of 365 unwritten days.

With articulated resolutions told with varying conviction, we believed in the power of positive change. Resolutions are by definition set in the future: will lose weight, will quit smoking, will go back to school, will ask for a promotion, will pay down my debt, will attend more concerts, will make a new friend, will read twelve books, or will finish writing that novel.

A friend, who died last month at the age of 39, often repeated this common sentiment: “There are only two days that nothing can be done. One is yesterday. The other is tomorrow.”

I have come to loath the word will  in both my writing and my thoughts. No longer do I have the luxury of ignorance of immortality. There is no time to will. There is no value in saying “I will write tomorrow.” or “I will hug my loved ones tomorrow.”

The helping verb will is dependent on assumptions. The assumption of a future. The assumption of a second chance. The assumption of endless mortal days.

I challenge myself to learn from literature. I challenge myself to avoid wishful thinking. I challenge myself to avoid will my action verbs to an uncertain future.

I act today with purpose. I postpone only the least important items. Laundry may never be complete. My floors may never be those to eat upon.

Yet, I promise to eradicate the helping verb will from my vernacular. I promise to live today.

I also vow to avoid the helping verb will in my poetry and prose. Few novels are written in future tense. (If you can think of one, please let me know.)

*Note: I know not why this friend was called early and I was given more days on earth. I miss her. Her mantra was “Loving Living Life 2Day.”

Live well my friends. Live well.


The 2017 Word: Crescendo

It is time for a crescendo!

So …
This is the year, get loud.
In music, a crescendo is a gradual steady increase in loudness or force. This is a controlled set of bars, increasing the volume of an arrangement. A crescendo can wake both an artist and audience.

The internet is a buzz with picking a single word as a mantra for 2017 to replace the practice of setting goals and resolutions. 

I choose crescendo as a verb without an object, thereby, “to grow in force.” 

Rather than shout or burst, I slowly and gently summit to full capacity. With clarity, I deliberately turn up the volume in 2017.

A word: Onward

You will not find
on a compass rose.
No one is sure
where it goes.


Yet, I find
each time I
move in its
is often
and always
the only
way to go.

Word on Wednesday: Fun


Let’s plant some seeds and grow some fun. Fun online, fun in person. Fun exchanging clever gifts, fun writing parodies to familiar songs, fun with twister or catchphrase or any other party game. Fun watching “Elf,” fun singing “Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer,” fun “Rocking around the Christmas Tree.” Fun under the mistletoe, fun making silly face photos, fun with egg nog, fun with candy sprinkles, fun in the snow, fun wondering how the heck you roast a chestnut anyway, fun sharing Santa stories, fun singing off key or in harmony, fun recalling the bloopers of holiday past, fun gabbing with gal pals, fun meeting the latest significant other at the dinner table, fun dancing, and fun laughing with that guest who ate the most fruitcake.

Every man, woman, and child can grow fun.
If you are unsure how,
Ask a grown up or ask a kid!

A Word on Wednesday: Vacancy

Generally, the modern use of the noun vacancy is only considered in context of its opposite: “No Vacancy.” And, No Vacancy seems preferred.

Vacancy means there a room at the lodge, an empty office for rent, an unassigned seat on the bus (or the supreme court), an open position at the firm. This common use of vacancy developed around the mid 1950s.

However, a British dictionary first defines vacancy as “the state or condition of being vacant or unoccupied.” This seems close to the archaic definition: “absence of activity, idleness,” which originated from Medieval Latin.

Americans are used to operating at capacity.
Our days, closets, vacations, and hearts are full.

Vacancy is a rarity, at times, it’s created only by a cancellation.

“No Vacancy” is celebrated with every yes to an invitation, to an extra project, to bids from a neighbor, friend, or family member.

With urgency, vacancy is extinguished every day with busyness. Get a second job, learn another language, get the advanced degree, participate in secular and religious practices, cook seven days of meals in a single day!

Carpe Diem. Live life to the fullest.

However, please reserve space for vacancy this winter.


A Word on Wednesday: Hope

 The abstract hope cannot be illustrated beyond the four letters it contains.
Hope, when used as a verb, is seemingly without action. We cannot see someone hoping. Hope doesn’t sound like much more than “wishful thinking,” which cannot be measured or observed.
The expression, “all we can do now is hope,” marks this action as one of last resort. When all efforts to control a situation fail, only hope remains, until even that is sometimes lost.
What if we started with hope?
As a noun hope is confidence in the future. The word’s actual synonyms include courage, optimism, expectation. Its opposite is despair.
In contrast, a wish is more of request or a bid, and dreams are imaginings or visions. Likewise, to want is to yearn. Hope, though, steadfastly remains a reasonable assurance, just as it was at its origin in Old English, c.1200.
Hope, then, becomes the action of the strong and resilient. In silent elegance, one can hope with just a breath.
I close with these words from John Lennon, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”


A Word on Wednesday: Chapbook

A few chapbooks in my collection by Wisconsin poets:
Jean Biegun, LaMoine MacLaughlin, and Stephen P. Mickey.

The noun chapbook was coined in the early Nineteenth Century by combining the words chapman and book. This small paperback book, oftentimes just a mere pamphlet, is likely as old as print itself.

Historically, it contained tales, ballads, or tracts sold by peddlers or merchants. Later, its content was narrowed to selections of short fiction or poems. The publication and its distribution fell out of favor.

Today, few prose writers create chapbooks.

Poets, however, remain drawn to the form as a vehicle to publish.

Typically, chapbooks are independently published. Although, there are imprints, such as Black Lawrence Press, that publish the peripheral collections.

The selection of poems is generally tied to a theme or a poetic form. Yet, there are no hard rules or guidelines. Some include illustrations; others don’t. Length varies from as few as fifteen to as many as thirty. The process of creating a chapbook allows a poet to think about the organization and merit of her verse.

Most writers were first poets — composing frenzied lines of free verse to purge an emotion or, more favorably, deliberately playing with language to capture a moment of truth.

Left raw, these drafts remain the practice of an amateur. Left alone, they lack context and purpose. Individual poems fall short of significance.

Working on a chapbook makes way for clarity by forcing discovery of a reason for the practice of writing at all. Each poem must be examined for precision and clarity. Tied with a unifying thread, chapbooks brand a poet’s observations and construction of thought.

Chapbooks indulge the poet’s audacity, allowing her to print her name on the cover and own the lines inside. These, inexpensive stapled sheets of paper, are bids for attention to a writer.

“See me. Notice me. Give my work a look.”

The peddler, cloaked in the smug light of literary culture, whispers politely those desperate pleas.

Disclosure: My first chapbook, “A Stop Along the Way,” will be released in early 2017.