Saturday, May 28, 2011

Got Stories? Tell 'Em.

It's been said by some that a writer should write about what he or she is familiar with. For I suppose there's nothing quite like life experience as a rich resource for the tales we tell. The life experiences each of us has, add depth to a story. And it is the unique interpretation of those experiences that make those stories our own, told like no one else would or even could.

Each of us captures the world around us through our own particular set of sensory stimuli. And even when faced with the same view of the world before us, we may process the information differently and act on it differently still. Will the fact that I am color blind mean I will miss some things or see them in a different way than others? Do I have a high pain threshhold, making me indifferent to those more sensitive? Was I an only child? The oldest, youngest or somewhere in the middle?

Have I broken an arm or leg, had surgery, been lost? And what if I haven't yet or maybe never will? Have I ever been truly hungry or felt fatigue or cold down to the bone? Have I ever wanted to kill---or had to? Have I had a story to share and should have but didn't?

"Who knows?" you ask. "Perhaps there won't be anyone interested." But if the stories aren't told, we'll never know who might have learned from them or simply loved the listening. So, tell your stories. Write them down or simply pass them on as folk tales or oral history to be recounted again and again. For one day, without our knowing when, the time will pass and the untold stories will fade from memory.

It is the charge of writers and tellers of tales to not let that happen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hudson Bay Expedition

Today's post on my writing blog is not really about writing at all---although it might provide the seeds for some great stories yet to be written. Instead, this is a heads up with a URL to take you to another blog where you can track the progress of a group of four intrepid wilderness adventurers. The group left by canoe from northern Minnesota on Monday en route to Hudson Bay. The trek will take over 80 days.

If you are a paddler, backpacker or other wilderness afficionado, this trek will put a gleam in your eye. The first URL which follows is to the daily blog. Copy it into your web browser to check out the adventure.

The second URL below will take you to the Voyageur Website that describes the route, gives the itinerary and provides background about the trek and the members of the expedition.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Poem A Day Challenge for April 28 - 30

At last, I'm caught up. Today's blog entry wraps up the April Poem A Day Challenge with the last three days of the month. This year the challenge seemed more difficult than in other years. There was more of a feeling of being disconnected with the topics and even with the writing of poems.

Looking back on the month, the most I am taking from the effort this time around is that I now have 30 poems to play with. Some are not bad and many others clearly need attention---maybe even a good toss in the round file. But in the end, that's not a bad starting point. So, herewith are the final three days of the month and the poetry challenge for 2011 is a wrap.

April 28—Write a "the world without something else" poem. If you remember on Day 3, I had everyone write a "the world without me" poem. This prompt imagines the world without something else, whether a person, place, thing, etc.

The World Without Nature’s Wrath
By Bill Kirk

The world without tornadoes—
Would it be a better place?
Or would the absence of whirling storms
Be replaced with something worse?
Were hurricanes off the map,
Would the oceans be as rich,
Left un-recharged by surface turbulence
Which feeds the depths below?
And what of quakes and volcanoes,
Tsunamis, cyclones and monsoons
That shake the very foundations of our
Puny “indestructible” creations?
Would we end those cataclysms at our own peril,
Knowing full well Mother Nature’s wrath
Is key to our long term survival?
Perhaps our best course is to
Celebrate our good fortune in the moment,
And keep our heads down when
Nature’s destructive power makes its
Inevitable mid-course corrections
In ways we can’t imagine and
In hopes we’ll never see it—
Yet knowing that we will.

April 29—For today's prompt, write an ode. I'm thinking of odes in the more contemporary sense of being a praise poem, though if people want to get all old school with it, then that's fine too.

(Note from : An ode is a poem that is written for an occasion or on a particular subject. They are usually dignified and more serious as a form than other forms of poetry…. There are several versions and differing opinions on what the rhyme form for an ode should be.)

Ode To Retirement
By Bill Kirk

Oh, retirement,
Where is thy sting?
Wouldn’t the end of the days
Of tireless working,
To fatten wallets growning thin
And thinner still
Be cause for celebration?

At long last there is no more
Need to feed the endless
Wanting and needing of stuff,
Satisfied only by
Buying and consuming.
These things of times past
Matter no more when we
Walk through the door
Of the pensioning life.

Our day in the sun
Has finally come
And we are free from the
Sting of mortgaging and
Debting for a living.

With the blessings of
Disappearing debt,
Might we not have
A bit more ching-ching
Than we thought we had
To do a little shopping?
Oh, retirement, there is no sting!
With a little prudent planning,
The blinging life survives—
It’s just not quite so demanding.

April 30—For today's prompt, write an "after leaving here" poem. This poem could be about leaving an actual place, a relationship, or even this challenge.

Life After Leaving Here
By Bill Kirk

How a propos, a leaving poem.
For after 26 years in one house,
We are now seriously contemplating
Leaving it behind for another life.
Oh, sure, it may take us a while.
After all, you don’t just up and
Pack out one day like pioneers
Who gathered all their possessions
Into a Conestoga bound for parts west—
The promised land, or so they used to say.

But in a way, there will be
A modern-day covered wagon or two.
That’s right, a brightly labeled moving truck,
Packed to the top with as many of our
Earthly possessions as we think will fit
In the smaller space of our new digs.
Instead we’ll be heading eastward
In stages as we unhitch ourselves
From a quarter century in California
And replant ourselves in Florida.
Gone will be the Sierra Nevada trails,
The Central Valley fog and bounty
And the chilly Northern California Coast.

At long last, the waterfront dream
Will be realized as we trade
Earthquakes for hurricanes
And brilliant snow for
Equally brilliant white quartz
In the Gulf of Mexico on a
Small patch of beach facing south
Across the Inter Coastal Waterway
From several miles of undeveloped beach
On the Okaloosa Island National Seashore.

Here’s hoping for the best that a
Bold move will bring in our
Pursuit of happiness as we
Change the venue of the pursuit
And maybe the nature of the quest.
When all is said and done,
It’s really just all about real estate.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Poem A Day Challenge for April 25 - 27

April 25—Write a falling poem. This could be about the physical act of falling (like someone tying your shoelaces together), or it could be symbolic falling (such as falling in love).

By Bill Kirk

I was
A kid,
I used
To dream
About falling.

The scene had a
Very geometric quality to it—
Dark, with just enough light
To discern a series of
Circular holes appearing
In rapid succession
On the ground in front of me.

There I was,
Running and jumping
From one spot to another
To avoid falling
Into the holes—
Almost as if
Some kind of
Giant cookie-cutter
Was imprinting holes
As fast as
I could jump
Ahead of them,
The next safe spot.
Breathing between jumps,
I watched as the hole maker
Left just enough
curved and roughly
Space in between circles
For my feet to safely land.

Imagine, if you will, Jimmy Durante
Signing off his show.
Remember how he would
Stand beneath the street light
To bid his audience farewell—
All black and white, of course,
As he walked away after saying,
“Goodnight, Mrs. Mcgillocuttie.”

I can’t be sure if it were true.
But in my mind’s eye,
A trail of street lights would
Appear at his feet as he
Walked away into the darkness.
And I carried those early
Black and white TV images with me;
My dreams imbued with
A perpetual falling theme.
Yet somehow,
I always
To avoid
The holes,
Safely on


April 26—Today is the final "Two for Tuesday" prompt(s) of the month:
1. Write a leader poem.
2. Write a follower poem.
I'll leave it up to you to decide what a leader or follower poem might be. You can either lead the way in figuring that out, or follow the lead of another.

Writers As Leaders
By Bill Kirk

Any writer
Must a leader be,
Wouldn’t you say?
For doesn’t the
Writing of a thing
Tend to push it along
To its conclusion,
Either natural or forced?

From its start,
Through its middle
And right on to
Its very end,
A story or
A treatise or
A search for meaning,
The writer leads
The way with words
As the tools of his trade.

That’s not to say
Some things may
Never quite seem
To reach
Their end.
But given
Enough time,
Enough study,
Enough reflection;
An end should certainly
Begin to take form.

Stated simply, then,
The writer’s job
Is to stretch
The idea,
The thought
The concept,
The story,
Until it is within reach,
Then pull it all
Fully into the
Imaginative grasp
Of the reader.

April 27—For today's prompt, take the phrase "In the (blank) of (blank)," replace the blanks with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem.

In The Blink Of An Eye
By Bill Kirk

It was just a downward glance
At the phone in my lap—
The insistent ring tone
Made me do it.
Who’s calling, anyway?

It took me a second,
As I tried to focus.
The abbreviated message
Trailed across the
Small LED-lit screen.

Quick glance up ahead—
OK. 100 feet. I’m good.
Damn! The light went off.
Where’s that reply button?
There, I can see it now—tap, tap, tap….
“hey wzup, dude. this trfik is kiln m….”

It was just a split second, really.
In the blink of an eye,
I was dead.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Poem A Day Challenge for April 20 - 24

Slowly catching up. Posted below are my five daily poems from April 20 through April 24. I'm already imagining the editing process on these poems. But for the time being, they will have to do. Consider them simply ideas captured---place holders awaiting final revision. Sometimes that's as good as it gets.

April 20—Write a message in a bottle poem. Imagine your poem is being rolled up and put in a bottle for someone to find and read.

To Whom It May Concern
By Bill Kirk

Hello out there—anyone.
This is my last recently emptied bottle.
I’ve been here a while—waiting.
The days I’ve counted number 173.
But I can’t be certain
I haven’t missed one or two.

Please hurry—well, at least
Get here as soon as you can.

I used to think everyone
Ought to have a chance
To be alone—solitary.
You know, to spend some quality time
Getting in touch with one’s self.
Been there. Done that.
No—Am here. Doing that.

Guess I can take that
Off my bucket list, right ahead of

Please hurry—well, at least
Get here as soon as you can.

April 21—Write a second thoughts poem. You could have second thoughts about something you’ve done or thought in the past. You could write something about someone (or something else) having second thoughts. Or you could even take a poem you wrote earlier in the month and flip it in a new direction.

On Second Thought
By Bill Kirk

Second thoughts have pros and cons;
They have their goods and bads.
A second thought can save the day
Or turn your glads to sads.

Second thoughts for some are weak.
They say we hesitate—
As if allowing time to think
Suggests we’ll be too late.

Others say the best approach
Is leaving ample space,
For second thoughts to bounce around
And win the thinking race.

Just remember, if in doubt,
It’s wise to heed the id.
Its best advice? “On second thought,
Let’s not and say we did!”

April 22—Today is Good Friday and Earth Day. Write an “only one in the world” poem. This only one in the world might be a person, an animal, a place or an object. Think of someone or something else and write.

Earth As An “Only One”
By Bill Kirk

Granted, what I know
Has its limitations.
But wouldn’t you have to agree,
Earth in its unitary form is, indeed,
The only one of its kind in the world,
And that earth and the conditions
That make it possible,
Are universally singular?

In fact, how can it be any other way?
For nothing can be exactly
And precisely duplicated,
On earth or elsewhere.
So, everything
On the earth,
In the earth,
Of the earth and
Beyond the earth is
The End.

April 23—Write a quit doing what you’re doing poem. This could be about something you need to quit doing or that someone or something should quit doing.

Ode To Inertia
By Bill Kirk

Inertia is a funny thing,
Whether a body’s
At rest or in motion.
If inertia comes into play,
By its very nature,
It always involves
The quitting of some particular thing.

For example, overcoming
The inertia of running
Means you will slow down
And maybe stop.
Taking a nap? Time to
Wake up and move,
And so forth and so on….

Figurative inertia gets even better.
Movement, or lack of movement, notwithstanding,
That meal you are eating or
That game you are playing or
That dissertation you are writing or
That job you would just as soon not be doing
Will hopefully, eventually, end—
Either voluntarily or not.

If all things in life were unquitable,
What a boring life it would be.
So, if you don’t mind,
I will take my leave
And quit doing
What I’m doing
Until, that is,

April 24—Write a prayer poem Your prayer poem could be religious but it doesn’t have to be. It’s completely up to you what your poem is about.

What is Prayer?
By Bill Kirk

What is prayer
But a need, petitioned?
And a petition but a
Declared want?
It has been said,
“Waste not, want not.”
But might we not also say
“Want not, need not?”
After all, were there no needs,
Would there be any need to pray?
Hard to say.
And yet, prayers need not
Only be petitions for desires unmet.
What of the bounty
We have been granted—
Whether great or small?
Are not thanks for good fortune
A worthy subject of prayer?
And the need to express those thanks,
A need enough to pray?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Poem A Day Challenge for April 18 and 19

April 18—Take the phrase “Like (blank)”, replace the blank with a word or phrase and make the new phrase the title of the poem.

Like It Or Not
By Bill Kirk

Like it or not,
My memory is going.
I suppose the good news is
I realize it’s happening,
What with the misplaced
Keys, checkbooks, glasses
(Both of the eye and wine variety),
Not to mention the
Occasional article of clothing—
Nothing critical, mind you.
But you would think a
Baseball cap, gloves or a jacket
Would be relatively easy
To keep track of.
It’s not as if I haven’t worn
Either for six months.
Come to think of it,
I know exactly where
The stuff I used six months ago is.
What’s up with that, anyway?
I’m virtually certain the cause isn’t
Those two or three weekly glasses
Of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin
I’ve been enjoying the past few years.
Guess it’s time to start working
Those crossword puzzles again.
Can anyone remember
A six-letter word for psycho-cyber storage
Of thousands of random factoids
Within seconds of instant recall?
Starts with “M” I think.

April 19—Two for Tuesday: Write a love poem or an anti-love poem. It doesn’t have to be romantic love, whether for or against it. But it could be.

On The Matter Of Abstractions
By Bill Kirk

Does devine love always fall
On the assumed right side
Of human righteousness?
Would God ever favor
Both sides of a fight?
Or always and only
One side or the other?
Does one people have
An exclusive claim?

Could there not be room for error
In our assumptions,
Especially when it comes to
Abstract concepts,
Beliefs and doctrines.

Perhaps He can and does do both
By allowing temporary advantage
To one side while knowing
There will be lessons in loss
As the wronged will at first be broken,
Then healed and strengthened
Sufficient to snatch victory in its time.

Yet how are we to know
Which side in any conflict
Is the absolute purveyor of good
And, therefore, utmost deserving
Of devine intervention?
Might perpetual discord
Be the natural product
Of man’s meddlesome nature,
To be rectified by
The gift of boundless love
Only beyond the pale?

During our earthbound life,
Could the old saw “might makes right”
Indeed make all the difference?

Do conceptual abstractions
Only have temporal value
In the feeble minds of humankind?

Do our human weaknesses
Doom us to perpetual strife,
With brief bouts of global rest,
Just long enough to regroup
For another round of
Self-justified righteous battle?

Does the capriciousness of
Where one is born determine
The national abstraction
To which we will devote our
Loyalty and love,
Defending it to the death?
Is it simply the side we’re on
That puts us in the right?

Should we even allow
Such questions
To trouble the soul,
Knowing the answers
Will always be
Just beyond our reach?

Perhaps pondering
Such abstractions
Is best left to others.
A warrior at the point of the sword
Has little time for such reflection.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Poem A Day Challenge for April 14 - 17

Regretably, I was away from my home base and unable to post my daily poems after April 13. So, now I am catching up and will post three or four a day until I reach the end of the April challenge. Although I much prefer the daily postings, this will have to do....

April 14—Write an “Ain’t none of my business” poem.

None Of My Business But…
By Bill Kirk

I know you may think
This ain’t none of my business,
But why did you stuff that soda can
Into the planter box outside the restaurant?
Who’s your mother this week, anyway?

And did you figure no one would mind
Your lighting up in the airport bathroom stall?
What were you smoking anyway?

I gotta tell you it was pretty clever
The way you spray painted your name
Halfway up Half Dome—I guess you’re probably right.
If John Miur had had spray paint in his day,
No doubt he would have done the same thing—NOT!

Give me a break! You may think
This ain’t none of my business.
But think again.

April 15—Write a profile poem—a social media profile, your own profile or someone else’s.

(Note: For some reason, this assignment was difficult—just couldn’t get my head wrapped around it. I gotta say, to me a person’s social media profile is not all that poetic. And then there are the dating/matching profiles, the professional networking profiles, author site profiles and the various ISP provider profiles. Nope—those ideas still don’t help in the poetry department. I suppose one could read “profile” literally and describe a silhouette in poetic fashion as a type of profile. I’ll leave that to someone else to try.)

Can You Believe Some People?
By Bill Kirk

Six feet-two, eyes of blue,
MA, PhD or two.
Soon I’ll be in a town near you.

Sure I’m special—sure I rate.
Don’t say no and don’t be late.
Dinner, dancing, it’s a date.

Yep. That’s my photo on the net.
Rugged, slim and trim? You bet!
Come on. Don’t play hard to get.

OK. Tall, may be a stretch.
School and job? I’m quite a wretch.
You saw me listed as a letch?

Whadya mean I have some gall?
You say the date’s off after all?
Change your mind, give me a call.

Can you believe some people?

April 16—Write a snapshot poem—something that makes you think of a photograph.

Flash Point
By Bill Kirk

The old man stands ramrod straight
Behind the proper lady seated
In a white gingham dress
That covers all from her neck to the floor,
But the toes of her shoes.
Their piercing eyes gaze ahead.

A long row of buttons stand out
Against his dark suit.
The brass tips of a tightly woven
String tie dangle nearly frozen,
Swaying ever so slightly;
Her hands shift then settle
As they both take one last breath—
One-two-three, don’t blink.

April 17—Write a “Big Picture” poem (covering big ideas, emotions or concepts).

In Search Of The Next Big Thing
By Bill Kirk

Is it the idea itself or
The thrill of the search
That spurs us on to discover
The next big thing?
Is leaving well enough alone
Ever really good enough?
If it were, would we be
Where we are today?
Or would we instead
Still be mired in a distant past
Unable to see beyond
The current reality,
Thus leaving human progress
Dead in its tracks?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May Is National Bar-B-Que Month

In Honor of National Bar-B-Que Month, here is a smalln offering for anyone who has had the misfortune of losing a hotdog to a roving rover on four legs. Hotdogs right off the grill are just so tempting to man or beast.

What Happened To My Hotdog?
By Bill Kirk
(Published in Wee Ones magazine in July/August 2005)

What happened to my hotdog?
Dad cooked it just for me.
And while it popped and sizzled,
I waited patiently.

When it was done, I fixed it,
So it would taste just right.
I set it on the table,
But now it’s out of sight.

I’m looking for my hotdog,
All plump inside its bun.
With ketchup and some mustard,
It glistened in the sun.

So, where’s my missing hotdog?
It’s nowhere to be found.
Is that a splat of ketchup,
I see there on the ground?

Now, something looks suspicious--
I think I see a trail.
Oh no! There goes my doggie.
He’s wagging his short tail.

“Hey, doggie, is that ketchup
And mustard on your nose?
I wonder how it got there--
By hotdog, you suppose?”

What happened to my hotdog?
I guess we know by now.
My doggie found my hotdog.
And made it doggie chow.