© 2008 -- 2011 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I've spent most of the day looking at online literary journals. In particular, I'm looking at what gets published under the heading of poetry. Whenever I do that, I often come away discouraged about the lack of poetry in the poems that actually get published. Today was no exception. I did, though, find a couple of journals I would recommend. One is Boxcar Poetry Review, which has just published it's 20th issue. The other is Blackbird. I'd recommend spending a little time with each of them. And if you do, come back and let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Harvard Square

At Au Bon Pain the old men sit around
a table, scratch their noses, and contemplate
the fate of kings and queens then demonstrate
their prowess with a calculated frown.

A young musician plays her violin.
Her notes compete with phrases in the air
and foreign words that jostle through the square
like cups and napkins blowing in the wind.

Beside a tree a great dane lies untended,
doesn’t move for a boy with purple hair,
doesn’t mind a woman lost in prayer,
keeps its head down until, its vigil ended,
it rises when its master says, “Come on.”
Old men in baggy pants exchange their pawns.

Originally published in A Matter of Mind, Foothills Publishing, 2004.
© copyright 2004, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

I had a conversation with an artist named Kashley yesterday. He was alone in a gallery in Roswell, Georgia. He had told the owners of the gallery, both of whom had other commitments, that he would mind the gallery for them since he was going to come in and paint there that day anyway. He has a series of limited edition still lifes that are all about cocktails, and he likes to display the original next to the reproduction so that people can see that the reproductions are not digitally enhanced. So he had an original there, and he was painting a new picture.

The pictures are extremely detailed. They include vodka bottles or whiskey bottles. A liquid being poured into a glass. Glass ashtrays. Cocktail glasses with olives in them. I'd seen the work before, and what I admire about it the most is the way he works with the transparency of the glass, the way the light plays through it and then through the liquid, and the way he handles the texture of the surfaces that can be seen through the glass--a table, or a wall, or a fireplace.

It takes him three months to complete one of the paintings. The process begins with staging the still life and taking hundred of pictures of it. Then he takes a month to complete the first rough painting, which he then goes back to and paints over, filling in detail and pulling out color and light. This second painting takes another month. He then repeats the process again, adding more detail and removing brush strokes.

He also does abstracts which grow out of the textures and colors he finds in nature. He's been painting professionally, he told me, since 2006, and he currently has work in galleries in three different states. You can see some of his work on his Web site here, but it's much more impressive when you can see the actual work in front of you.

I enjoy the paintings, and I enjoyed the conversation with him. And I enjoyed watching him work. I have no other reason for telling you about him than that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This Fascinates Me

Ok. Cloudia caught me sitting at my desk and really made me feel guilty with her latest comment on my last post. (If you've never visited her at Comfort Spiral you are really missing something special.)

I promise I'm coming back to the Blogosphere soon. But I have been busy writing articles about the health benefits of having pets, Ewing's sarcoma, DTaP, and the like, and editing articles about things like rheumatoid arthritis or how to get your dog to eat dog food. (My days are simply eclectic.)

But I am coming back. In the meantime I found this little gem by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and thought you might enjoy it. (I was looking for a video of the theme to High Noon, but came across this instead and found it fascinating.) Have fun. And in the meantime, please do not forsake me. . .

Saturday, June 20, 2009


One thing I never shared with you
..........was the moon outside my window
..........when I was a child in August
..........with a chill in the summer air.
It was so clear and white
..........that late at night
..........it had to be closer than it really was.

Published in A Matter of Mind, Foothills Publishing, 2004.
© copyright 2004, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

Some thoughts about other things

My father was an artist. He used to tell me that anyone could draw. Although, he did manage to let me know that he didn't think I did a very good job at it. He also wasn't very enthusiastic about my poetry when I was a teenager.
My youngest brother and my second son got his talent.

I did enter art work in the fair when I was a kid. I got my share of ribbons. But I never felt like I really understood what my father did when he painted, or worked with clay, or did pieces in enamel.

As a teenager, I liked to work with chalk and also oil pastels. I liked the feel of using my fingers to blend the colors in a sky and on a lake.

I drew pictures once in a while, mainly sketches and doodles, after I became an adult. But I didn't get serious about it again -- and I'm really stretching it to say serious -- until we moved to New Jersey in 2000. Then I started working with watercolors. They were crude, but S liked them and started buying me more paints, pencils, sketch pads. And I kept it up after we moved to Birmingham, Alabama, a year and a half later. I did more pencil sketches than anything. I like to draw.

Two years later we moved back up to Massachusetts, and I lost the incentive. So the art activity (and the photography I'd been getting more and more into) dropped way off. Now that we live in Atlanta, I'm interested in doing more art.

When I was young, I never thought my father was very successful at teaching me to draw, which was strange because for years he taught art to kids in his home on Saturdays, and a number of them went on eventually to study art and take it up as a career. But now when I do pick up a drawing pencil, I can hear him standing behind me telling me I wasn't doing something right and know that I did, after all, learn something.

If you haven't visited Rene at Not the Rockefellers, you should. I feel like I learn something about writing when I read her blog. And I really like her mission statement: "To inspire and encourage others to write freely." It's followed by a wonderful quote from Martha Graham. Check it out at the top of the left hand sidebar.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In Between

Original artwork by the Grandpa

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Deaths and Funerals

She removes a book
From the broken shelf and lets
An envelope fall
From between pages

Then spreads its contents
Before her and counts, twelve red
Petals with a card,
Its message blurred by

Water from greens. She
Opens the Morning
wanting to read again
His name and feel young

Arms suddenly lift
Here from the floor to sway her
To the melodies
She’d thought she’d forgot.

Originally published in Ohio Journal, Autumn 1979.
© copyright 2004, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

I have a new poem scheduled for publication in the July issue of The Chimaera an online "literary miscellany." The poem is "Captain Lee," and it will appear in the journal's Feature Theme section. The Feature Theme for Issue 6 is "poems in well-wrought form."

Monday, June 8, 2009

I've actually seen worse

[The person who sent this list of hospital chart bloopers to the listserve for freelance medical writers I'm on said she couldn't vouch for the veracity of the list. But believe me, I've seen worse. I'm willing to bet these were actually entered on patients' charts. The comments in brackets are mine. Enjoy.]


Actual writings from hospital charts:

1. The patient refused autopsy.
[My mother once called me and left a message saying that my sister-in-law's breast cancer surgery had gone well, my sister-in-law was doing fine, and they'd have the results of the autopsy in a couple of days.]

2. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
[Thank God for that. Hospitals need all the paying patients they can get.]

3. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.

4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot
in bed last night.
[Probably sprained something.]

5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

6. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.

7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
[You think?]

8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
[It's not me, Doc. It's you.]

9. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

12. She is numb from her toes down.

13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.

14. The skin was moist and dry.

15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
[Sure glad I wasn't the patient!]

18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got
a divorce.
[That's what happens when the guy you marry turns out to be an absolute s***.]

19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

20. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

21. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

22. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

23. Skin: somewhat pale but present.

24. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.

25. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
[I had that once. It seemed to last forever.]

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brandy and Poets

For scrambled eggs and bushy haired poets,
A toast with brandy at three a.m.
For piano players and wooden back benches
Stories we’d tell never again.
Brandy and poets and breakfast in bed.

Dreams and words; how we both did know it
Over stingers and bourbons at one a.m.
Impossible dreams, emotional wrenches,
Stories they’d tell of us time and again
When dreamers and poets both dropped over dead.

Originally published in Post Crescent, March 1975.
Published in A Matter of Mind, Foothills Publishing, 2004.
© copyright 2004, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

(Figure I'd better post something. Yesterday I had 0 page hits.)