How to Take an Amazing Photo of a Solar Eclipse

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“Solar Eclipse with Sunspots” by Matthew Harper

 

First,
get knocked up,
plan a wedding in three months
and waddle down the aisle in white pumps
that fit you when you bought them. 

Gain a total of forty-eight pounds
while throwing up for forty weeks,
and give birth to a nine-pound baby boy,
who is bigger and cries louder than any other
newborn in the maternity ward. 

After you blink once or twice,
find yourself moving across the country
for your husband’s engineering job,
with three cats, the six-week old baby,
and all of their respective paraphernalia
crammed into a purple minivan. 

Critical Step: Raising Your Boy
To do this, start learning more about more things than you knew existed;
begin appreciating that this cherubic, gorgeous,
but almost alien issue of your loins
sees individual ice crystals in distant clouds,
hears crickets chirping at dusk
over the sound of rush-hour traffic,
plays the piano with no lessons better than you ever will. 

Have conversations with your boy (that he begins)
about the waxing gibbous moon
when he is still in diapers.

Don’t freak out when he runs to the garage to feel the water main
every time someone flushes the toilet
for an entire year. 

Realize that this otherworldly child means no slight
when the Valentine’s Day card he makes for you in first grade says,
“Dear Mom, I love the plants from Chris Tuffli’s science project.”

Scoop your bottom jaw off the floor
when he inquires about how nerve impulses
not only respond to, but initiate thoughts
(you will have had about seven years
to prepare for this moment,
but your heart will still flutter dangerously). 

Believe that you are the only one who notices
that he has decided not to “turn left”
during the ages of eight and nine.

Get comfortable slinging around terms
like high-functioning autism, echolalia,
sensory integration dysfunction, perfect pitch
and freaking genius.

Find a place deep in your understanding that “gets”
how he is not unloving, ungrateful, or deliberately obtuse,
but admirably, unprecedentedly honest and real.
Become very angry when his teachers and coaches
try to justify being put-out
and dare to assign blame to a child,
rather than consider how they, being the adults,
might assume responsibility
for their interactions with him. 

Fall fiercely in love with your magnificent boy,
so that your heart screams, your scalp hurts,
and your vision blurs
in this unsympathetic, simple-minded world’s injustice.
It will then be easy for you
to put aside your concerns about ruffling feathers,
making waves, and rocking boats.
You will do anything necessary
to arm your son to thrive, shine,
and find his own joy.

Trust in his gift of seeing every moment
in terms of geological time––
of constantly holding the cycles of mountains
rising up and eroding away in his mind’s eye––
and strain in your every breath, step, and toss in your sleep
to grasp
how his world is wholly un-glossed over
by super-imposed paradigms. 

Never try to propagandize him
into a semblance of societal expectation.

Never believe for an instant that you
should temper your awe of him. 

When he is a teenager,
endure an epic tongue-lashing
from your superego,
then fork out the dough,
anyway,
for the camera of his dreams.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

Thank you to Editor Dave Essinger for publishing “How to Take an Amazing Photo of a Solar Eclipse” alongside Matthew’s amazing photo (above) in the 2016 edition of Slippery Elm Literary Journal. This piece is also included in my forthcoming chapbook, This Being Done (Finishing Line Press). I will post information for ordering my new collection as soon as it becomes available!

Matthew Harper is an avid photographer and videographer of wildlife, weather, and astronomical phenomena, the more extreme—i.e., skunks and coyotes, thunderstorms, meteor showers and solar eclipses—the better. He is also an accomplished digital artist and musician. Matthew recently completed his high school studies as a home schooler, and earned a Certificate in Audio Technology from the Oregon Music School of Technology. He currently lives with his family in Hillsboro, OR.

Oh, yeah, he’s a gymnast, too! “Intense Matthew!”

Recording of Robert Okaji’s Poem, “Mayflies”

Hear the words that inspired this artwork for the cover of Robert Okaji’s new chapbook, *From Every Moment A Second* in the voice of the man himself!

O at the Edges

“Mayflies” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. FLP is taking prepublication orders here. It was also the inspiration for the artwork gracing the cover. I am in debt to Stephanie L. Harper for providing such a vivid and appropriate piece of art for the book.

Please note:  prepublication sales determine the print run, which means this stage is crucial in terms of how many copies will be printed and the number of copies I’ll receive as payment. So if you feel inclined to help, and are able, please purchase your copy before August 11. Thank you!

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FIVE CREATIVE USES FOR MY BOOK, FROM EVERY MOMENT A SECOND

Hey Folks! Sir Robert Okaji of the Vorpal Pen has now added Trend-Setter and Guru of Repurposing to his C.V.! Let’s just say, Kerouac’s got nothing on Okaji in terms of name-dropping-acquired “street-cred” — not to mention the latter’s impeccable taste in *cover art* 😜!
Bottom line: No home should be left un-accessorized — much less unprotected — by these scorpion-swatting (equally effective on spiders for domiciles of more northerly latitudes) symbols of social aplomb!

O at the Edges

More than just poetry!

So you don’t read poetry? No worries. This book is a multi-tasker’s dream. Buy it and let your practical nature take over. No reading necessary!

1) Scorpion swatter – let the aggressive, pain-inducing arachnid know the full weight of poetry! SLAM! No more second moments for you, scorpion!

2) Coaster – a half-dozen copies of the book will keep you out of the doghouse, if you, like certain unnamed poets, occasionally, and without malice, set sweating pint glasses of frothy ale directly on antique cherry end-tables. Just place a copy of From Every Moment a Secondon all tabletops and flat surfaces around the home, and never worry about marring the furniture. Put your beverage glass directly upon the colorful cover, and let the poetry perform its magic. Who knew that paper was so absorbent!

3) Body armor – well, maybe not. The pen is mightier…

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Recording of Bottom, Falling

Have a listen to Sir Robert Okaji’s impeccable voice — to accompany his masterful, must-own collection, FROM EVERY MOMENT A SECOND, now available for prepublication order (see link below!) at Finishing Line Press!

O at the Edges

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“Bottom, Falling” was published in Into the Void in October, 2016, and appears in my forthcoming chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for prepublication order at Finishing Line Press.

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Cover Art for Robert Okaji’s New Chapbook!

Cover_Okaji

Not only was I deeply honored when Robert Okaji enlisted me to be the cover artist for his new chapbook, From Every Moment A Second, but the task proved to be one of the most inspiring and rewarding creative endeavors of my life.

I call this piece, “Dream of Flight,” after a line from a poem in Bob’s stunning collection, entitled, “Mayflies.” I hope it offers readers a small sense of the ways in which my life will never again be the same for having read this magnificent little collection of poetry!

Click HERE to order Robert Okaji’s beautiful new chapbook:

FEMAS Mock cover

available for pre-publication purchase from Finishing Line Press between now and August 11, 2017, and scheduled to ship on October 6, 2017!

 

Order Link for Robert Okaji’s New Chapbook is Now Up

This sublime, new collection by our favorite poet in this world, Robert Okaji, is not to be missed!

Bob enlisted me to be his cover artist for FROM EVERY MOMENT A SECOND, and the ensuing creative endeavor proved to be nothing short of the honor and privilege of a lifetime, the result of which I’ll be unveiling on this blog soon!

O at the Edges

From Every Moment a Second

The prepublication sales period for my new chapbook,From Every Moment a Second, begins today, June 13, and runs through August 11. The book’s tentative release date is October 6. Please note: prepublication sales determine the print run, which means this stage is crucial in terms of how many copies will be printed and the number of copies I’ll receive as payment. So if you feel inclined to help, and are able, please purchase your copy during this period.Order here.

Many thanks to the members of this blog community for supporting my writing. I sit alone in my shack to write, but you are there with me, just a keyboard away. I am truly grateful for your wisdom and humor and willingness to help me traverse the strange and wonderful worlds of poetry and publication.

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DAY 30! DAY 30!

This feels a lot more like a beginning than an ending. I’ve accomplished a thing I wouldn’t have guessed I could (though, now I really have my work cut out for me with nearly 7,000 words of new poetry to edit!), and while my eyes are newly opened to the enormous specter of how very little I actually know in this life, I’m feeling eager for the next lesson. I am so humbled by and grateful for your interactions and support this month here on WordPress! From the bottom of my heart, thank you all!

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Letter from the Other Side of Halfway 

…Taking a tip from the meadowlark, I head for the high
desert, my flight path crossing the sagebrush-dotted,
red earth, hoping I’ll soon look down & see you floating
in a sea of ten gallon hats, just beyond the convection
columns braced against the electric blue sky.
I don’t suppose your self-claimed exile looks anything
like I’ve imagined? It’s not with a small twinge of jealousy
that I seek consolation in your brand of solitude on the other
side of that horizon line…

The above is an excerpt. Read the whole poem (and catch up on Days 1-29) here!

Western Meadowlark

Day 28 of 30!

wisteria-vine-wall-wallpaper-1Yesterday, I learned the heartbreaking news of two men who were murdered and one (Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21) who was wounded and is being treated in a local hospital, on the evening of Friday, May 26, 2017, in a brutal attack on a MAX train in North Portland.

The alleged perpetrator (who will not be named on this website) is a known felon, white supremacist, and provocateur in the Greater Portland-Metro area. The three victims involved had tried to intercede between the perpetrator and two young women (one of whom was wearing a hijab) whom the former was viciously assaulting with what was described by witnesses as “anti-Muslim rhetoric” and “hate speech.”

Ricky Best was an upstanding citizen, military veteran, and father of four children. Taliesin Myrrdin Namkai-Meche, a recent graduate of Reed College, was just beginning his professional life, and was adored by his family. Both men are heroes in the purest sense. My heart aches so for their families at this time of their grievous loss.

There is This

Portland, OR
Written May 27, 2017, for Ricky Best & Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche               
R.I.P. 
             
   
On a trellis erected between my west suburb neighborhood
& the nearest MAX station     the wisteria vines burgeon
into dusky purple blooms bursting with the dizzying fragrance
of a dessert wine     but yesterday     while I was out walking
as the early evening heat broke    I noticed those sallow petals
carpeting the concrete in their waning just since the previous day
were already bearing the heavy imprints     illumined by
the sun’s oblique indifference     of commuters’ footfalls
& the signature    parallel furrows of teenaged skateboarders…

Continue reading here:

 

“Trust me, you by yourself are not what makes everything so beautiful. It’s the combination, the coming together of all these different people from different backgrounds with different beliefs coinciding with one another, the interactions between them and the different products of those interactions that’s what makes society so great.”

Micah David-Cole Fletcher, winner of the 2013 “Verselandia” competition, performing and reflecting on his poetry on OPB’s Think Out Loud

Days 26 & 27 of 30!

My Dear WordPress Friends!

Thank you for your continued enthusiasm and patience with me! The joyful interactions that have been happening on this site have served to keep me afloat during what has proven to be quite an extreme challenge for me. You’ve made it possible, and for that I am grateful!

Please take a couple of minutes to check out this AMAZINGLY quirky, inspiring & POETIC video I found on YouTube (link below) to accompany my little ditty on Cuttlefish! You won’t be sorry!

 

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Broken (Day 26)

Your kindergartener learned
a new trick on the monkey bars
yesterday…

Cuttlefish (Day 27)

Watching
the way you negotiate the world
by climbing into platonic forms
to become the myriad     ideal bodies
of the sea floor…

Continue reading both pieces (& catch up on Days 1-25) here!