Letter from the Other Side of Halfway

Western Meadowlark

For Robert Okaji

Dear Bob: In one of my former incarnations
as a starving, family-less, twenty-something Grad
Student, well before the advent of emails & texting,
when handwritten sentiments on stationery were still
in vogue, I certainly sent my share of “Dear Bob Letters.”
The recipients thereof, on the whole a far cry from being
remotely “Bob-like,” included a number of real posers,
some of whom now strut & crow on Facebook like
the ancient, hoary roosters (read: cocks) they clearly are.
As for the others (more of them than you might imagine),
they’re all dead, several by their own hands, even—a stone-
cold statistic (the seeming synchronicity of which is tough
to ignore) I frequently grapple with, sorting through conjured,
a posteriori details & associated, surreal imagery by day, &
chasing after egotistical ghosts in my über-symbolic dreams
by night, always with the conviction that some message for me
yet lurks in the dry lakebeds & sunless recesses of the Nether,
a realm to which the tips of my toes & then some are no strangers.

The only window-treatment manning the threshold between
me & my secrets is a translucent-pink swath of chiffon,
which I’m afraid doesn’t leave much to the imagination—
so consider yourself warned, amico mio! Against the current
backdrop of imbecilic plutocrats, psychopaths on trains,
& every other persuasion under the sun, hardly to be tempered
by the incidental, decent soul, it would not take a discerning
eye long to know me better than I know myself, which is just
about the only thing I know anymore…

In my attempts to locate myself, I often look to nature—
these days, it’s among the imposing Sequoias we boast here
in the Northwest, along with the showy cottonwoods, as fertile
as they are indiscriminate, stripping off their seed-fluff every
chance they get, a prospect that doesn’t seem to bother
the scrub jays deigning to my level for a squawk now & then
before ascending to a higher branch. Whatever folks might say
about birds of a feather, well, after a number of my earnest stints
shadowing local hens— their distinct way of wearing those vibrant
petticoats tucked underneath their brown slickers, & their biting
commentary having seemed uniquely suited to the cold & rain—
I’ve yet to locate my flock, & the search has turned southeastward:
Taking a tip from the meadowlark, I veer for the high desert,
my flight path crossing the sagebrush-dotted, volcanic 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; as exile, it would seem to me,
involves the condition of having at some point belonged
somewhere. Having spent a lifetime “standing out in my field,”
I’m not very handy at extrapolating any other kind of belonging,
& feel I ought to find out what I’ve been missing, here,
on my side of halfway.

So, I’ll be headed out past the Cascades & the swaggering
sage grouses of the eastern uplands, reaching for that horizon—
green seeping to red, “clouds feathering in” no further from us
than one step beyond our any given station—where you can be
sure I’ll always be no more than a step away from you, & ever
your honest friend, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Letter from the Other Side of Halfway” was first drafted during the May 2017 Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, and though it has since undergone a few revisions, the sentiments it contains—and the friendship that continues to inspire them—have endured, for which I am immeasurably grateful.

 

elegy (20171129)

Out of the ashes of heartbreak rises the phoenix of poetry. A brilliant piece by the illustrious Charles Payne on the recent loss of his pooch, Bodhi.

Words and Feathers

i pass through a cold spot
the paranormal experts
tell me this is a sign
some formerly corporeal being

is absorbing energy because
it wishes to communicate
or otherwise engage
with a world of mucus-leaking
sacks of wobbly flesh

who’s a good boy?

i don’t discourage the flickers
at the edge of my vision
the sound of jangled tags
the clacking of long toenails

happy to ride a bus
i’ll get off only when they make me
without a known destination

still

lately i gaze
out the window at a soft horizon
and feel the need for heaven

View original post

Lynne Burnette’s New Poetry Chapbook!

Congratulations, Lynne!

I’m so pleased for poetess extraordinaire, Lynne Burnette, that her poetry chapbook, Irresistible, is now available for pre-publication order at Finishing Line Press! Check out Lynne’s gorgeous poetry on her blog, HERE, and please consider ordering your very own copy of her book!

#PoetryLives!

Lynne Burnett

Now available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/irresistible-by-lynne-burnett/
As the pressrun is determined by advance sales, reserving your copy between now and January 12, 2018 would make a huge difference! My book’s actual release date is March 9, 2018.

What they’re saying:

Lynne Burnett is astonishing. I cannot think of another poet who writes with more humanity. Wisdom is a word we seldom associate with poetry, but she reminds us that simply seeing the world the way it is can be a profoundly moral and life affirming act.  It’s what happens when compassion marries irony. The love child is this wondrous little book.” —D.G Geis, author Fire Sale (Tupelo Press/Leapfolio) and Mockumentary (Main Street Rag).

The poems inside Lynne Burnett’s chapbook live up to the collection title. Irresistible. Here is a poet demonstrating her considerable talents. There is much music and rhythm in these…

View original post 341 more words

Beesiness as Usual

Beesiness As Usual_Matthew Harper

One of the many advantages giving birth to and raising a natural-born photographer offers, is that when your debut chapbook of poetry gets accepted for publication nineteen years later (and you happen to have the slightest inkling of how blessed you are), you will already have an “in” with a brilliant cover artist!

I’m so proud to share with all my WordPress Compatriots that this gorgeous photo, “Beesiness as Usual,” by my son, the one and only Matthew Harper, will be gracing the cover of my poetry chapbook, This Being Done (Finishing Line Press). Stay tuned for more announcements regarding my book’s availability for pre-publication order and estimated release date (don’t worry, I won’t let you forget…)!

In the meantime, please check out the following beautiful poetry collections — also forthcoming from Finishing Line Press — and available for order now:

From Every Moment A Second, by Robert Okaji

Anastasia Maps, by Devi S. Laskar

 

Last Day of Pre-Publication Sales for Robert Okaji’s Chapbook

Don’t get left in the cold as Robert Okaji’s wondrous poetry takes the literary world by storm! 🌩 Let’s celebrate the difference that Bob’s vital words have made in so many lives, and take today’s last opportunity to make a difference for him! 😊

O at the Edges

From Every Moment a Second

Today is the final day of the pre-publication sales period for my new chapbook, From Every Moment a Second. If you intended to order a copy but haven’t yet (the dog ate your homework, you had to wash your hair, poetry? you’re kidding, right?), time’s running out. Order here.

Many, many thanks to the members of this blog community for supporting my writing.  I am truly grateful for your wisdom, advice, humor and willingness to help me traverse the strange and wonderful worlds of poetry and publication.

View original post

Day 6/30 of Charles Payne’s Poetic Feats in the Tupelo 30/30 Project (20170806)

Our resident WordPress Corvid is but one small poet, but he’s taking 30 giant leaps for Poetkind! Let’s help him stay afloat while he helps an Indie Press keep poetry vital and accessible! Please consider supporting his cause – a cause which is relevant to all of us! – by sponsoring one of Charles’s 30 poems in the month of August, or by making a donation (no amount is insignificant!) in the name of poetry! Most of all, let’s show our appreciation for all the ways “the stuff that comes out of a bird’s mouth” entertains, inspires, and helps us feel connected!

Words and Feathers

this side of the creek
i dried my socks
and went barefoot…

——

Want to read more? You can. My poem invisible made visible is available to read at the Tupelo 30/30 project page.

Already Day 6, and you may actually be reading this one Day 7. I hope I get better/faster/stronger/6 million dollars worth soon so that I don’t keep you waiting.

Folks, I need your help. Tupelo Press needs your help. More people need to read poetry. I have three whole weeks of sponsorships still left. So why not take advantage of me–I mean, this opportunity. Go to Tupelo Press’ Project 30/30 page for more details.

View original post

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!

 

CuttlefishIntro2

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!

My Day 8 Poem for the May 30/30 Challenge is up at Tupelo Press

Dross

Dross

 

When the glacial lake outburst flood first scored

her watershed dawn into the earth’s bones

she was meant to be…

Continue reading here…

 

Learn More about my participation in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project here:

 

These 30/30 poems (one per day for 30 days in a row!) must necessarily be composed and published at quite a frenetic pace, especially for “perfectionistic” (which is a far cry from perfect…) me. I’m revealing some pretty raw stuff, and I deeply appreciate the support of everyone reading along! Thank you so much!  

GISHWHES Highlights

My daughter, Cameren, is a wise, wonderful 15 year-old. By insisting that our family participate in GISHWHES, a world-wide week of shenanigans, she not only gave me the gift of new-found appreciation for my husband and kids’ beautiful, generous hearts, many and varied talents, creativity, problem-solving prowess, and potential for spontaneity–but she also restored my faith in the essential goodness of human beings, and made me feel hopeful for the future.

As we embarked on the week-long scavenger hunt, I was terrified of being faced with impossible and/or ridiculous tasks that would impinge on my life, and I had no capacity to envision whether or how my participation in the event might actually matter. Then, somehow, things just began to unfold, and I was suddenly in the thick of the sheer magic we were making in collaboration with our teammates from all over the U.S.  In one week, our 15-member team completed and submitted upwards of 75 items, including acts of kindness throughout our communities, and raising funds to house, clothe, and provide medical care for Syrian refugee families in dire circumstances (see previous post).

And so, I hope you’ll enjoy seeing just a fraction of the wild and wonderful items we completed in our hunt:

032Create a Vision Board from items found in magazines to represent the things you want more of in your life that can’t be bought or sold.

This item took me about 30 hours over the course of 3 days to complete. Dimensions:  18″ x 24″

 

039b

There’s a lot of hype in the news that undocumented “illegal aliens” are stealing jobs from citizens and overflowing from our hospitals and prisons, but what we should really be concerned about is the burden created by aliens from outer space. Capture a photo depicting this scourge on society, and caption it with a message that emphasizes how aliens are a drain on our civic infrastructure.

This item specified that the space alien costume must be “impeccable” — and it just so happens that we proudly harbor a fugitive, fully-functional, life-sized Dalek (meticulously crafted by my husband, Mike, and operated by my daughter, Cameren). Having a  wonderful neighbor who is a police officer with a penchant for the theatrical, was icing on the cake… 

 

006

Have a child under the age of 6 draw your family’s portrait. Then take an actual family portrait in which you make whatever contortions necessary to recreate the drawing.

For this item, we thank my 5 year-old nephew, Corban, for his inspired rendering replete with labels (for most of us). Cameren is on the top left, my husband, Mike, is seated in front of her, my son, Matthew, is seated beside Mike, and I am the speck in the back. Corban also included an additional family member named, “Sir,” who he said is “the one who tells you what to find in the scavenger hunt.” We figured that “Sir” must in fact be the Grand Master/Brain Child of GISHWHES, Misha Collins, and so my daughter’s best friend, Sadie, wore a Misha mask and posed with us. Since GISHWHES is a (mostly) family-friendly event, posing in the nude (as we were drawn) was not really an option, so we decided to pose in the color we’d been drawn in…

I’d like mention a few other highlights that come to mind, the photos for which I don’t have access to at the moment:

Drone Battle: Cameren and Sadie faced off with my son’s Quad-Copter (which resembled a giant mosquito hawk in the photo) while dressed in battle armor made entirely of kitchen items, featuring a turkey baster and a rolling pin.

Create a Coin worth a Half Penny out of actual metal to commemorate the 7th anniversary of Misha Collins’ on-off affair with the Queen of England. Mike machined an aluminum medallion, and etched the recognizable visages of Misha and the Queen with Ferrous Oxide… This was his plan B, and it worked like a charm.

Depict the fairy tale, Trumpunzel, in an illustration. Cameren showcased her artistic genius and knack for subtlety.  

Badminton Match in a Mall Food Court. Yes, with a net, racquets, and sporting our “tennis whites.” In her badminton debut, Cam deftly served the birdie over the net and into her friend’s frozen yogurt cup!