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Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Discussion That We Are Not Supposed To Be Having

What do you say after something like this?  What can you say that has not been said before?

Another campus/school shooting with 9 victims & one shooter dead. But the devastation doesn't stop there. There were additional victims wounded - some with very serious life altering injuries. Then there are the families. The wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, aunts & uncles and so on...

Some will argue this is not the time for this discussion. I know this because I have heard it ad-nauseam since 1968 when Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. That was the year I realized America had a problem with guns. Not simply because of these two deaths, but they shined a light on a growing problem. I began looking at the costs to this country for our easy access to firearms. That problem has only escalated exponentially as the numbers of guns have grown in this country. As concerned as I was back then, I never dreamed it would grow to the level we ave reached today. I believe those who say this is not the time are right. That time has passed and so this means we are late to the discussion. That means it  is appropriate to engage in it now.

I realize that the the issue of gun ownership is a nuclear-hot topic. I realize there are people who fear that the government is coming to take their guns. I also realize there are persons who are hell-bent on continuing to propagandize this idea, and even more people paranoid enough about it to take it to heart. This leads to a few observations:

  • That some pro-gun people/groups/lobbies actually want to perpetuate misinformation about guns in order to keep this nation at each other's throats. They believe as long as some of the most ardent gun owners ate vocal and out toting there guns in public, they control the message. 
  • That many gun owners look at the issue only in absolutes. 
  • That the second amendment is the most supreme law of the land and it supersedes any and all other laws. 
On the first point, it is well documented that the NRA and gun industry lobbies and spent insane amounts of money to propagate a variety of messages, drop money into the pockets of lawmakers and in general intimidate the body politic during each election cycle.

The fact that gun owners look at the issue in the form of absolutes leads to these types of responses to the overall discussion:

  1. You want to come at take all our guns away. I know of no serious legislative effort that envisions that. It is not even practical.
  2. Even with background checks, waiting periods, etc., there will still be deaths. You can't prevent them. This is a very narrow argument and again reflects an absolute ideology.  Of course it will not stop all deaths by guns, If it will somewhat stem the tide of gun proliferation it will save lives. If it will keep a firearm out of the hands of someone who should not have a gun, it will save lives. Those saved lives are important even if they are some faceless fixture in this debate. They could be a gun owner's niece, daughter, or other family member. Some will argue that we will be defenseless as a nation. That is what standing armies are for. We had no standing army when the second amendment was written. 
  3. That brings me to the second amendment... Some treat it as an absolute. It is the only license they need to be armed even in public. The second amendment should not supersede another persons right to life and liberty. I'm not advocating it's appeal, but understand that it is an amendment to the constitution (an afterthought) and it could be repealed. The 18th amendment to the constitution was repealed. Further, courts (including the U.S. Supreme Count) have indicated that it is not an absolute and it does not prevent the exercise by government of reasonable controls, restrictions, or regulation. The term "well regulated" is in fact embodied within the  amendment.  

I don't want to ban guns. I know we cannot prevent people from killing other individual even from guns or other means. I also know that the law does allow us to make reasonable regulations.
This discussion needs to be had with legislators on state and federal level. We've not really had that discussion in recent years mostly due to political  intimidation from the NRA and industry lobbyists.

If gun owners don't want to have the conversation and be a part of the solution (the NRA has already proved it doesn't) then the rest of us need to have it with our lawmakers. I know many gun owners are actually with us. I know the NRA (which one had a positive mission) no longer represents the wishes of many gun owners.

We are no longer at a point where we can just shove this under legislative carpet. This is a violent bloody mess and it has to be cleaned up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Confession Tuesday - I Can See Clearly Now Edition

Dear Reader:

So, it's been one new pair of eyeglasses, five new books, one trip out of town and a week since my last confession.

I confess that I have plenty of new reading material that I am making my way through. I will let you know more about my thoughts on these books soon.

I confess that I have started writing in the Daily Poet Journal that was published by Two Sylvias Press. A year long journal and I am committed to writing a poem a day in it for the next year.  It's late tonight, I've been at a baseball game and I still have to write my poem but it will get done yet tonight!

I confess that it was fun visiting Marceline, Missouri the last Saturday. It was a quick trip up and then we drove into Bucklin to visit the grave site of my Grandmother and Grandfather as well as Great Grandfather and his wife. I was especially glad that we added the extra little drive to pay respect to them. Also, we drove by my grandmothers old home. I've known that it was renovated by someone who had purchased it and actually has traded hands a couple of times and additional upgrading done. In a strange turn of events, we met the present owner and he gave us a tour. I was absolutely astonished by what they had done to the house. It grandma and grandpa could see it today they would not believe their eyes.

Tomorrow, I have a dental appointment in the afternoon. I confess that I am feeling yuck about it.

Reading has been so much more enjoyable since I got my new glasses. It's amazing how much difference it makes. I had been getting so tired even just reading short periods of time. That has changes. I confess this has made me so happy and I am very thankful for them.

Until next week, stay safe!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Book Bonanza in Wednesday Mail

Yesterday mail was exciting. Four books arrived. Pictured to the left is The (hefty) Daily Poet Companion Journal. Yes, I am committing to writing a poem a day for the next year.

On the right is Crush by Richard Siken. I first discovered Siken's work at AWP15 in Minneapolis earlier this year. I've heard a lot of good things about this book and just thumbing through it last night added to my excitement about it.

Below in the left is My Feelings by Nick Flynn. I've read a few poems by Flynn and I have to say that I believe I am going to like this book as well.

And last but not lease is Louise Gluck's Faithful and Virtuous Night. A National Book Award Winner that received much attention earlier this year. (seen below)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Confession Tuesday - I Dance for Books Edition~

Dear Reader:

It has been untold weeks since my last confession.  I truly have been a fallen-away blog confessor, but I'm back.

I confess that as I write this, I have a handful of Brach's Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn.  I recall a brochure in today's mail from my health insurance provider suggesting it would be a good idea to add just one more veritable a day to our meals. Candy Corn qualifies as a vegetable. Right?

Since my last confession I attempted to update my eye glasses, now several years overdue. Upon going to the eye doctor they decided that I needed some holes in my eyes to relieve pressure to help prevent angle-closure glaucoma. This procedure was done with laser to make tiny holes in the iris. This procedure pushed back a couple of weeks getting new glasses. Now I am awaiting my new ones to arrive any day. I am anxious because reading with my currently outdated glasses makes my eyes tired and that sucks when you want to read a good book for very long.

Yesterday, I was elated to receive a copy of Ada Limon's new book Bright Dead Things in the mail.  I was first introduced to Limon's poetry a couple years back via an NPR segment that featured her book of poetry titled, Sharks in The River. I very much loved the title poem from the book.

As an extra bit of excitement, I saw last night that Bright Dead Things was on the list for National Book Awards for Poetry. How cool is that!  Congratulations Ada Limon!

I have 4 more books that should arrive from Amazon tomorrow. I confess that I have become spoiled by Amazon Prime; especially since I waited over a month recently for a chapbook direct from a press. I would be on cloud nine if my other books and my new glasses were to both arrive tomorrow. I think I would be downright giddy with excitement. If you see me doing the Snoopy Dance, you know they came.

So, I suppose you have heard that Facebook is getting a Dislike Button. I recall in my early days on Facebook I so wanted a Dislike Button. Hell, it seems like everyone did. But I grew out of it over the years. Or, maybe I'm just so tired of the fact everyone seems not to like this or that, or this person or that person and after a while I just get drained by all the negativity.  I've been an opinionated person all my life. I suspect I verbalized which baby foods I liked and disliked with great expression as an infant. Well, it wouldn't surprise me. I've been a politically active and engaging person since even before I was voter age. I follow issues especially those on a national and international level.  I confess that this election cycle that is unfolding is one of the harshest I've ever witnessed. I'm not even talking about "dirty politics." No, what I am referring to is simply how negative some candidates and voters are in terms of some hot button issues. With all the various problems facing America today, to invest such negativity and hate in the direction of immigrants is sickening to me. This whole mindset has me wondering how likely I am to go nuclear with a Dislike Button.

I confess that I have the cutest little writing companion curled up on my left. I confess that Madison makes me smile.... most of the time.  ;-)

Until next time ~ be safe & happy!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Magpie 284 - The Elixir of All Things Living

Magpie 284 writing prompt

we've come to fullness.   We come to the clay shaped 
by the hands of God.      To folds of earth, to mountains chiseled, 
                                                                 to white vapor on blue linen.
        We taste the sky, the earth in alchemy...  
                     salt, the shaker,            the maker of all things green.
The sweetness of grass, 
                        the sent of moss, 
                the raw of iron
             and we taste an elixir of something monumental in the air;
                                                                             sweet nectar of God.  

Michael Allyn Wells

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Labor Day Weekend DIY Writing Retreat

Starting this afternoon I am dog sitting for a family member and starting a Labor Day Weekend Mini Writing Retreat. I have reading material and essential writing material all ready. I want to focus hard on cranking out some new poetry. 

A few of the books I'm taking along...

  • Creative Journal Writing - Stephen Dowrick 
  • Stones of the Sky  - Pablo Neruda  / James Nolan Translated
  • The Children's War and other poems -Shaindel Beers
  • Trauma Mouth - Jessica Smith
  • The Art of recklessness - Dean Young
  • Hourglass Museum - Kelli Russell Agodon
  • The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature
I hope to be able to report this was a success come Monday night.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Summertime & Reading = Poets Crush List Time

If you are looking for poets to read this summer I offer you my 2015 Poets Crush List.  These are poets who I presently cannot get enough of.  I haven't done a PCL since 2013 - for some reason I missed last year but here goes....  the envelope please. (these are in no special order because they are all special.

  • Dean Young - I first met Dean Young in Kansas City as I was monitoring a Masters class at UMKC.  I read is book 2011 book Fall Higher and was very taken by the abstraction of his writing. I was further intrigued by the class which lead me to purchase his book, The Art Of Recklessness. A truly cerebral examination of the art of poetry. I still pick up these books and read from them from time to time.
  • Sandra Beasley - I read Sandra's blog (Chicks Dig Poetry)  for a number of years now. She is not near as active a blogger as she once was but I got to hear her read this spring in Minneapolis where she was a featured reader at AWP15. Upon returning  home I read her book Theories on Falling. This dead to the purchase of I Was The Jukebox, and her most recent book Count The Waves. Her approach to the craft of poetry leaves you feeling  excited. 
  • W.S. Merwin - This man is like one of the Deans of contemporary poetry. A national treasure that I return to reread frequently. He has historical ties to some many ineradicable poets who have since left us. I believe this must inform his work in some way. I own two books of his many. They are Migration and The Shadow of Sirius. His work feels very organic to me. 
  • Kelli Russell Agodon - wow! The energy, the inventiveness, Poet and Editor. She is co-editor of Two Sylvias Press which she claims happened as an accident, This Press is doing some magnificent things including but not limited to the Poet Tarot Cards. But that's not why Kelli is on this list. She has published one Chapbook and three poetry collections. All three noteworthy in my opinion. Letters From The Emily Dickinson Room, her second collection really resonated with me. So much so that as her third collection was about to be released I knew it would be good but could it top Letters. Well it did! Hourglass Museum was an adventure that rocked my world. It's a journey both through her museum between pages but a life study of what it means to be an artist/writer/poet! I wish all good things for her growing press, but I hop it never takes her away from her own writing. 
  • Marry Biddinger - Mary is another editor and writer. I saw her at AWP15 and have three of her books that have been very much to my liking and she has won me over as a fan of her work. The first Saint Monica and the second  O Holy Insurgency grabbed my attention as they both were rooted in Catholic culture which I enjoyed. The most recent A Sunny Place with Adequate Water merged the pas and the present in surrealism. 
  • Jessica Smith - I can thank Jessica for my somewhat new interest in experimental poetry. I own two of her books, The Organic Furniture Cellar and her newest Life-List.  Jessica is also a birder, which is pretty cool. I got an opportunity to meet her at AWP15 as well. 
There you have it.  If you have not read any of these poets or their books, there is still time to incorporate them into your summer reading.