Mind Fields: People Are Crazy

Mind Fields

People are crazy. Many people who are crazy don’t know they’re crazy. They think that they are right, and that their form of crazy should be everyone’s crazy.

That’s crazy. Right? No one is right all the time; not even some of the time. Everyone is wrong most of the time. We should assume that immediately. If we examine the history of human beings it looks like a traffic jam of midget cars where everyone jumps from the cars as if they got caught stealing them. They shout “That’s not my car! I’ve never seen that car before.”

This is not my planet! I’ve never seen this planet before! The very nature of life on this world is that humans get the wrong ideas about things that should be easy to understand. Those who don’t recognize their instability are dangerous. People who don’t recognize their craziness have few brakes. There are not enough forces to slow them down. At some time or place such people can do terrible harm. They harm people who are crazy in a different way. We can inquire about Germany. In today’s world Germany is known as a refuge for the dispossessed, a humanitarian engine of liberal democracy. Eighty years ago Germany was in the throes of a mass psychosis that turned the state into a killing machine.

This form of psychosis is always available to cultures. It’s there, waiting for the right conditions . It will burst forth and flourish for a while as it does its murderous business. Then it vanishes, only to revive in another time and place. Cultural psychosis is part of the human condition; it’s an under current that feeds on poverty and distress. It thrives on income inequality, builds on the resentment of disenfranchised classes.

We’re ripe for another one. God forbid, as my granma used to say. God forbid we should replay genocidal brutality like Nazi Germany, or Cambodia, Rwanda, Armenia, Bosnia… The United States with its native Americans, The Turks against the Greeks. God forbid.  I pray that I’m wrong but I feel that looming presence, that evil spirit that is like a parasite fattening on its millions of aggrieved Americans who have not a single clue that they are insane. They have nothing to complain about. They are housed and fed, they have health plans, the very poorest of them are better off than anyone was a hundred years ago. You can’t convince them that they’ve got a good deal going. They’re certain that they’re being screwed. We sit atop a festering insanity that has been in America since before its founding, when vast crimes by white Europeans were enacted on the whole population of the western hemisphere. 

God forbid. It’s a comfort to think that things have changed, that maybe a threshold has been crossed by human nature itself, that we’ve learned from our past sins, that we have EVOLVED. 

Isn’t that possible?

I don’t know. I won’t pronounce this salvation as a done deal.  Something IS different. Our children are different; they do things that were impossible. They move their bodies in new ways, they think in new ways. I don’t regard myself as a cynic but I am jaded. I’ve seen too much horror. 

It isn’t one thing or another. We’re neither saved nor doomed. We are continuing the story of life on earth. The planet keeps turning and it will turn for another several billion years. The drama of human life unfolds in its many chapters.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Growing Bookworms – The importance of teachers

The schools in South Africa are racing towards the end of a year fraught with lockdowns, illness and death. My sons have been on-line for long periods twice this year and many of the students have suffered the losses of friends, parents, grandparents, and other important people in their lives. Seeing how happy my sons are to be back at school and watching them forge ahead with their school work as their teachers valiantly try to reteach material and principles that were taught on-line and which the boys have failed to grasp properly, makes me feel more appreciative of their teachers than ever.

Gregory finishes school today. It is his last day of a 14-year journey and it is all rather emotional for the boys and teachers. His preliminary examinations went very well and he achieved an average of 92% for all 7 of this subjects including AP maths. This is partly due to hard work on Gregory’s part, but a lot of credit must go to his excellent teachers who really went all out to help the boys achieve the best they could. Greg attended on-line and in personal tutorials and extra sessions to prepare for his exams and some of them were over weekends during his teachers personal time.

As part of his leaving experience, he was invited back to his old nursery school, which forms part of his current school campus, and his old pre-preparatory school. How lovely it was to walk those corridors again and see the small desks and sinks, the art rooms and to find Greg’s handprint from when he was a 5-year old boy.

I believe that teachers are one of the most important professional groups in our society. They give children purpose, help prepare them to be successful citizens of our world, and help to inspire them to achieve and succeed both at school and in life.

A teacher imparts knowledge, good values, traditions and helps youngsters recognise modern challenges and overcome them.

The role of teachers is often underplayed and misunderstood with parents and others thinking they get lots of free time in the afternoons and during school holidays. This believe is certainly unfounded as every teacher I’ve ever known works a full day and more. They all teach extra murals and many offer extra tuition for students that struggle. Many of the teachers at my sons school are also involved in a community education programme and teach children from less privileged schools and backgrounds during part of their afternoons. Teachers also do a lot of marking and lesson preparation and that takes up a lot of their evenings and holidays. In summary, teaching is not a part-time job.

One of the toughest parts of teaching is teaching children from all sorts of homes and backgrounds about using their imaginations, creativity and challenging them to develop consistency, good work ethics, empathy and emotional intelligence.

I have met a number of wonderful teachers in the blogosphere and I appreciate them all for the wonderful teachers they are. Once a teacher, always a teacher, it’s not really something you stop doing as it is a part of your nature and behaviour patterns.

I am going to end this post by sharing a YouTube video about a special teacher, Jennie Fitzkee, who is a great champion of reading out loud and appeared recently on the Kelly Clarkson show. Bravo to Jennie for helping share the word about the importance of reading and thank you to Kelly Clarkson for raising the reading banner so high.

Here is link to the video: https://www.facebook.com/KellyClarksonShow/videos/1119312005268883

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Writing Challenge: A Fun Exercise in Character Development

This week I thought it might be fun to throw out a challenge to my readers and author friends. When I was earning my M.F.A. in Creative Writing, we were given various writing exercises, of course. To demonstrate an interesting way to develop a character, one of many, by creating a character from the characteristics of an inanimate object. It might sound strange, but honestly I can remember having a lot of fun with this particular exercise. The object I was assigned was a butter knife.

First, we were ask to do a free write about the object, associating it with characteristics which came to mind. Next, we were asked to create a character who possessed some or all ofthose characteristics, using a Proust questionaire, which is a really good tool, but any means of creating a character profile so that you really know your character would work. As always, the more you know about your character, the easier it is to write them in a scene or a story, or maybe even a series. Lastly, we were asked to write a scene that introduces the character.

You’ll find the scene that resulted from this exercise back in 2013, and I’d love to see the results of any of you who would like to accept my challenge and create their own character and scene. I had a lot of fun with this exercise and I think you will, too. My inanimate object was assigned, but you can pick one from the following list or choose one of your own: butter knife, salad bowl, spoon, fork, spatula, plate, frying pan, wine glass, corkscrew, turkey baster, tea cup, coffee pot, dish towel, broom, feather duster, brillo pad. I chose a bar scene for my introduction, but yours can take place anywhere you like. Explore the possibilities for setting as you work through this exercise in character development.

If you are up to the challenge, pick an object and do a free write about it. Then, create a character and get to know them well. You can even make your own questionaire. What are your character’s favorites: food, color, song, etc…? What do they do for fun? Occupation? You get the idea.

Then write a scene that introduces your character and send it to me at kayebooth@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to tell me what your object was. If I like it, I may ask for permission to share it here. Yours doesn’t have to be as long as mine, just keep it to a single scene that tells us who your character is.

My Introduction to Betty Lou (Butter Knife)

“Come on. Don’t be such a stick in the mud!” Christa said, urging her friend to live it up a little. “One drink is not going to kill you. I swear.”

Betty Lou sat on the bar stool with her legs crossed, hands folded in her lap. Her back was as straight and upright as if she were practicing the principles outlined in Debrett’s Etiquette and Modern Manners, with a book perched atop her head. “Oh, all right,” she said. “But, just one. You’re sure it won’t make me look foolish?”

“I’m sure,” Christa said, waving the bartender over. As he approached them, she said, “Two long island iced teas, please.”

“Iced tea?” Betty Lou asked, with a discernible sigh, thinking anything with iced tea couldn’t be too bad.

The bartender placed two tall glasses of tea colored liquid on the bar in front of them. Christa placed some bills in his hand and picked up her glass. “Come on. Drink up,” she said, talking a long swallow.

Betty Lou picked up her glass, sniffing the pungent aroma of liquor in the glass. “It doesn’t smell like iced tea,” she said, wrinkling her nose.

“You said one drink,” said Christa, placing a hand on top of Betty Lou’s, gently pushing up toward her lips, “Now drink up. Go on.”

Betty Lou took a small sip.

“No…, drink,” urged Christa, tilting her friend’s hand up with her own, gently forcing her to take more of the liquor in her mouth.

Betty Lou choked down a swallow, making her eyes water. “That sure doesn’t taste like iced tea,” she said when she had regained her composure. “Yuck!”

“You get used to it,” said Christa, working on her own drink. “Oh good, the band’s getting ready to start.”

Betty Lou took another small sip, wrinkling her nose once more. She doubted Christa’s statement. How could anyone get used to the taste? She watched attentively as the band members came out onto the stage and began tuning instruments. “Remember,” she said, turning to her friend, who perched a cigarette on her lips and was lighting it, “I’m only staying until ten o’clock.”

“Loosen up,” said Christa, offering her a smoke from her pack. “Tonight could be a whole new beginning for you. Relax and finish your drink.”

“Couldn’t I just have a seven-up?” Betty Lou asked, plucking the offered cigarette from the pack. “I just had a rocky ending. I don’t think I’m ready for another beginning.”

“No way,” Christa said, offering her a light. “You agreed to live it up a little, remember? No taking the straight and narrow tonight. Besides, you know every time one door closes… ”

Betty Lou bent slightly to light her cigarette as Christa flicked her Bic. “Okay. Okay,” Betty Lou said. “But, only until ten. I have to debug a new program tomorrow. I want to be alert. I need a good night’s sleep.”

“Finish that drink and you’ll sleep good, I promise,” Christa said with a wink.

A man stepped onto the stage to introduce the band, as the house lights lowered. He was short and stocky, with shoulder length hair pulled back in a ponytail. The black leather pants and vest that he wore made him look like a throwback from a seventies biker gang.

“Good evening ladies and gentleman,” he said. “Thank you all for coming out.” Whistles drifted up from the audience, as he addressed them from the stage. “We have a great show for you tonight. Please allow me to introduce to you, The Ripe Melons!”

As the band began to play, Christa downed the last of her drink and signaled the bartender for another. She began to sway on her bar stool to the beat of Lynard Skynard’s, Gimme Three Steps, which The Ripe Melons managed to do a fairly good job of cranking out. Wisps of bleach blond hair fell over her eyes and she absently brushed them away.

Betty Lou took another careful sip. Maybe Christa was right. It didn’t seem so bad now. She could feel the vibrations from the music in the floor beneath her. “Do they have to play so loud?” she asked, raising her voice to be heard over the music.

Christa smiled at Betty Lou and shook her head. “Lighten up, girl,” she said. “Let your hair down.” She reached up behind her friend and yanked a pin from the tight bun on top of her head.

“Hey!” said Betty Lou, as her bun unwound and her long black ponytail unrolled and hung straight down her back.

“Come on,” Christa said. “You look so uptight.” She reached up behind her friend and pulled the hair tie out, letting her onyx hair fall loosely, softening her high cheekbones and angular jaw. “There,” she said. “Now you don’t look like you’re waiting for your last rites. You have pretty features when you just ease up a bit. You always pull your hair back tight from your face and it makes you look like your spring is wound a bit tight.”

Betty Lou was stunned by her friend’s boldness. Would she be undressing her next? She took another sip of her drink and smiled just a little, as the image of Christa reaching over and unbuttoning the top buttons of her blouse flitted through her head.

But, Christa’s hands stayed to herself as she downed her second drink and crushed out her cigarette in the ashtray. “Let’s dance,” she said, sliding down from her barstool.

Betty Lou shook her head adamantly. “No, you go ahead,” she said. “I’ll wait here and finish my drink.” She looked down at it, noticing to her own surprise, that it was almost half gone.

“Oh, come on!” said Christa, grabbing ahold of Betty Lou’s hand. “You need to get laid. Let yourself go a little.”

It took effort to stay upright on the barstool with Christa pulling on her like that, but she managed to pull her hand away. “No, really, I’m fine,” said Betty Lou. “I’ll just watch you.” She took a rather large swig from her glass as if that might convince her friend to go without her.

“Suit yourself,” said Christa, heading for the dance floor.

Sipping her drink, Betty Lou watched Christa as she approached a handsome guy with blonde, feathered hair, sitting in the second row of tables. She bent down and said something to him, then he stood and walked out onto the dance floor with her. Betty Lou couldn’t believe how bold Christa was. She could never be that forward. Even when she’d been with Matt, Betty Lou had always let him take the initiative. She had always followed his lead. They had been the perfect pair. That seemed like another life now.

A hand on her shoulder startled her out of her reverie. She turned to find herself face to face with the most gorgeous man she had ever seen. He was tall, maybe even taller than her own 6’3’’, with a muscular build that said he didn’t sit behind a desk all day. His brown hair matched the brown eyes that she found herself staring into.

“Would you like to dance?” he asked, smiling a smile that would melt any girl’s heart.

She straightened her back. Her heel began tapping on the rung of the barstool, making her knees bounce. “Uh—me?” she asked.

“Well, yes,” he replied, glancing to either side of her. “You’re the only pretty girl I see in the immediate vicinity.”

“Um…, I couldn’t,” she stammered, “I mean, um, well…”

“You don’t dance?” he asked.

“No,” she said, feeling her face flush. “At least,… not very well.”

“May I buy you a drink then?” he asked, raising a brow.

“Oh,… thank you, but I have one,” she said, holding out her glass, only to realize that it was empty.

He smiled at her again. “Looks like you need another,” he said. “May I?”

How could she refuse? “Uh,… sure,” she replied. How wishy-washy that sounded. She did her best to save face, adding, “That would be nice.” At least, it didn’t sound quite as lame as her stammering all over herself, like a school girl who’s never talked to a good looking man before.

He flagged the waitress over and ordered them each another round. Betty Lou was surprised at how at ease she felt as she sipped her new drink while they talked. Normally, when talking to members of the opposite sex, especially good looking ones, she could feel the tension build inside of her, materializing on the outside as sweaty palms and stiffened muscles through her back and neck, but she felt none of those things now. It must be the alcohol. Up until tonight, the strongest thing she’d had to drink was a wine cooler. She wasn’t used to the strong effects of hard liquor, even in a mixed drink.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to dance?” Kyle, which is what his name had turned out to be, said. “You can step all over my toes, if you like. I walk on them all day anyway.”

Betty Lou started to decline once more, but then his corny joke registered and she burst out laughing instead, the most recent sip of her drink spraying out over his pants. “Oh, fiddlesticks! I’m so sorry,” she said, grabbing her cocktail napkin off the table and dabbing at his pant leg. “This is not a good beginning, is it?”

Kyle chuckled and took it all good naturedly. “It’s okay,” he said, taking her hand in his own and looking into her eyes. “But, now you have to dance with me, even if you have two left feet.”

feltBetty Lou gazed into those big brown eyes of his, noticing a few flecks of gold in them. She’d never seen eyes like that before and now, she never wanted to look away. He offered her his hand, and she took it, letting him lead her out onto the dance floor. He pulled her in close to him and held her there as they began to sway to music. Betty Lou laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes, allowing him to lead her. It felt good to be held against him so firm, heat flushing through her body, as she felt his stiffened member pressed against her leg. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad beginning after all.


The Many Faces of Poetry: Poems Never End

The Many Faces of Poetry

Safecracker

The woman is talking to her shopping cart;

or: she’s talking to the stuff IN the shopping cart, it’s hard to know.

She doesn’t have a home.  Maybe she’s talking to her home, that makes

a bit of sense.

I was there, for a part of my life.

I didn’t know where I would sleep. 

An unlocked car or truck, maybe.

It was horrible; I was always scared.

I had a friend, one friend.  You’ve got to have someone

at your back

when you’re low on the pole. If you’re lucky

that person won’t take your stuff

and vanish.

My guy was an ex and future con named Roger.  We liked the same drugs.

If I scored, Roger scored too.

You’ve got to have something to do

when you’re homeless.  Copping drugs

fills the day, occupies the role of job and family.

I was better at copping than Roger.  For him, I was a profit taking venture.

He probably wound up in jail again.  He did time at Arizona State Prison

for cracking safes.  He was bound to get busted again.

I wasn’t. I didn’t.

Photography

“We haven’t earned the right to forget”. Guy Le Cuerrec

IF you think the gate is in front of you

look to the side.

If you think the gate is behind you

look ahead.

If you think a window is closed

in your room, it may be open but

hidden inside the closet.

If you think there is a closet

think again

there is a closet.

Surprised

I didn’t expect

to have to be this brave

to live in the world.

I had no idea.

I didn’t know what I would need,

how much strength it would take,

how deeply I would fail,

how inadequate I would feel.

I’m not ready.

I look at ways out;

I look at death,

I look at drugs,

I use every excuse

to flee.

I do it every day.

I didn’t expect it

to be this hard.

My imagination was not prepared

to encompass the misery,

the sheer strangeness

of what happens,

what has happened,

what I can’t make un-happen.

I thought I would be protected.

I thought it would be pleasant.

I thought it would be okay,

that I would have a good time,

be satisfied, get away free of entanglements,

leave a nice footprint

that could be seen clearly

down through time.

I am surprised by the mud,

appalled by the blood,

angry with god for letting this happen

to anyone, let alone people I know and love.

I didn’t expect to have to be this brave.

I didn’t think I had it in me;

I still don’t.  But I persist

in spite of every difficulty.

I don’t really know why.

It’s not a matter of a foolish belief sustaining me.

My belief is not foolish.  My belief is my survival.

There simply is nothing large enough,

only God the Unknowable

can hold the grand squalor,

the screaming birth,

the wriggling, enduring heart at the center

of this beleaguered world.

I have no strength, no courage,

I have nothing but strategies to avoid

agony, and they don’t always work.

I survive, for a time,

while the world survives

forever, stronger than

I can be, deeper than I can fulfill,

more powerful than my will,

defiant in the face

of my disappointment in myself.

The world and something loving that redeems

all torment,

survives. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “The Many Faces of Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Review in Practice – Slushpile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected

Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected

Introducing a new blog series

For those of you that don’t know, I am currently embarked on a journey to earn my masters degree in publishing at Western State Colorado University. Some of you may know this because I mentioned it when I posted the submission guidelines for the Mirror, Mirror anthology that we are putting together for our class thesis project. I was really excited about sharing this paid writing opportunity with all of you and I hope many of you will craft out a story that fits the guidelines and submit it. I was recently reminded that the submission deadline is just two weeks away, so get those stories in.

With work and school and trying to write, I’ve been struggling just to get my Monday blog post out. I’ve been blogging here on Writing to be Read since 2010 and it is important to me and hopefully to my readers, so I can justify feeling a need not to drop the ball here even though I’m extremely busy. My solution, which I thought was rather smart, was to create a new blog series, “Review in Practice”, where you can join me through book reviews that reflect lessons taken from books I read as I work to improve my craft and learn the publishing industry. In this way, the books I need to read in order to learn and improve will do double duty as I share them with you here. These reviews will offer my opinion of the book, and also tell you about my experience with it and share what I have learned. I do hope you will join me.

My Review

Reading Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected, by New York Times Bestselling author, Kevin J. Anderson helped to prepare me for the onslaught that is already flooding the submissions box, because it offered me a better idea of what lay ahead. But, this book was written for authors, to give them an idea of what editors are looking for and improve the chances that your submission will read and accepted. It is a brief book, which doesn’t take long to read and the lessons contained within could prove invaluable. As I have begun working my own way through this year’s slush pile, I’ve already learned that the experiences contained within Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected is spot on.

Of course there’s never any guarantees of acceptance, but there are ways to increase the odds. Kevin J. Anderson relates his own experiences from the last two anthologies the graduate publishing program at Western put together. (Yes, he is really my professor. How cool is that?) If you are thinking of submitting a story to Mirror, Mirror or any other anthology, Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected is a must read. I give it five quills.

Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribing to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: A Summer Of Love

Mind Fields

A Summer of Love

or

On The Horns Of A Dilemma

1967.  Muir Beach, California

Robert had taken LSD three hours ago and now he was trapped in the bathroom. It was a small bathroom in a small beach house. The place looked out over the Pacific Ocean and could only be reached by climbing a hundred wooden steps or riding a cable-driven cargo trolley. The place belonged to Linda, Robert’s acquaintance, a woman who made tie dye and batik clothing.

Robert wasn’t a casual taker of psychedelic drugs, but he was with good people: yoga practitioners, Tai Chi enthusiasts. He felt safe. His friend Pam was at the party, and his room mate Steve.

It was an intimate gathering, about a dozen people agreeing to share an experience in a beautiful setting. Linda dispensed a tab of LSD to each arrival. Now it was getting towards evening and the group had settled into serious tripping. There was a bit of talk. Some giggles from a couple on the sofa. It was quiet.

The sound of the surf tumbled in the background.

Robert was hallucinating but when nature called she could not be denied. He viewed the act of taking a shit as a comedic episode, a meeting of the sacred and profane. He made a little mantra from it, mentally chanting the words to a samba beat: how could a thing so huge still have to take a poo. He danced a little samba step as he crossed the room to the bathroom. How could a thing so huge… still have to take a poo. The Huge was himself, in his expanded universe, the hyper-galactic infinite divine. And yet, way way down there in the microcosmic world, his body still had to eliminate the dross from his intestine. It all came down to the most common things.

The bathroom was a cubby hole. It had a toilet, a small window and a wooden stand that held an incense burner and a couple of magazines. An old tarnished mirror hung on the wall opposite the throne.

Before the toilet episode began, Robert had been watching Linda move about, with her bun of blonde hair trailing cute little wisps. She wore a sleeveless batik dress of luminous green and a necklace of silver and turquoise. Robert liked the shape of her. She was well toned, contained in a nice little parcel of soft firmness. Her breasts lifted the neckline of the dress and the effect was mesmerizing. Linda was single, Linda was beautiful, and Linda had given him a smile as she dispensed the tablet of LSD. Robert interpreted this smile as an invitation. He thought Linda was conveying a message. “Ask me to make love,” he thought she was beaming at him, “ask me.”

The problem…. that is, the problem before getting trapped in the bathroom, was working up the nerve to ask Linda to make love. Other couples were pairing up and vanishing into various nooks on the property, riding the sound of the mighty surf into psychedelic splendor. 

The party’s social math, the indices of affinity seemed to put Robert and Linda together. Robert had never done this kind of thing before. He had never approached a woman to ask if she wanted to “go somewhere quiet”. The complexities of an LSD high built a scaffold atop Robert’s shyness. How do I do that? he wondered, how do I come right out and ask a woman to make love? He wondered and feared, and wondered and feared, and tried to engage Linda in pleasant conversation but an acid conversation can be very weird. There are multiple interpretations layered on every word and phrase.

If he said, “Hi,” well, okay, there you go. Was he greeting her or was he making an insipid observation on his state of psychic elevation? 

“You’re beautiful” he said, at one point. “You look stunning in that dress.” That was not ambiguous. Linda merely said “Thank You” and the conversation jumped off a cliff and went splat. If only she would make things easier for him! Maybe he was wrong. Maybe she didn’t send the signal he thought she sent. But her fingers had lingered on his hand as she offered him the white tablet. She had given him a deep soulful look.

Then his stomach sent him another kind of signal. The bathroom was directly off the one large room of the house. The room was virtually the entire living space. There was a counter, a kitchenette, and a short fight of stairs that led to a loft bedroom. A thin plywood door separated the bathroom from everything else. 

Robert’s poo was a loose disgusting mess and he was about to turn the flush handle when the thought occurred to him: what if the sound of the toilet flushing sends someone into a bad trip? Or worse, what if it sends everyone into a bad trip? 

The house was high on the bluff and the toilet flushed with a distinct sound as the water forcefully drained. Sploosh! it said, splodda splodda splodda splodda, and all the pipes in the house rumbled and whooshed for what seemed hours.

Everyone is so high! Robert thought. If I suddenly introduce these sounds with all their associations, they will drown out the Ravi Shankar on the record player and they will enter people’s LSD-saturated inner landscapes as a downward spiral that will carry them into the underworld! People on acid are so suggestible! I’ll ruin the party!

He couldn’t look at the poo. He had closed the lid and was frantically using a National Geographic to fan the fumes outside. He was on the verge of puking, which would add another dimension to his problem. There was a box of incense and a pack of matches, which he now used as he attempted to work his way out of this mess.

What am I going to do? What am I going to do?

Another part of Robert’s psyche was laughing at him, saying, oh this is pathetic, you’re wasting your whole fucking trip on idiotic paranoia. Robert fought back. It’s unselfish paranoia! he replied. I just don’t want to send anyone down the toilet. Acid’s unpredictable. It can be a catalyst for deeply buried psychic material. I can’t take that chance!

It seemed that hours passed. Robert fanned fumes out the window, lit incense, lit matches until the pack was gone. There finally came a breaking point.

Fuck this, Robert decided. It’s inevitable. I have to flush the toilet. He reached out and touched the cold metal handle with its contoured shape. He caressed it for a moment. Then, in an act of passionate courage, he pressed down and released the water.

Sploosh! Oh god it was deafening! Splodda splodda splodda, down down and down into the depths of the underworld. The pipes went Whhhsssssh like Boeing 707’s lining up on a runway before takeoff. There were at least eight people just a few feet away from this sonic pandemonium. They might tear him to pieces when he emerged. He, personally, had bummed their trip! They might ostracize him forever, banish him from other weekend retreats at other beautiful houses full of beautiful women.

His heart was beating frantically. Okay, he decided, let’s face the consequences of my irresistible evacuation. Robert turned the knob and exited the bathroom, closing the door with the barest of clicks.

It was almost dark. Sitar music came gently through the speakers, playing an evening raga. Candles were lit and most of the group sat rocking to and fro, lying on beanbag chairs or prone on yoga mats. Nothing had happened as a result of Robert’s flush. Nothing at all.

A candle had been set in the middle of the room. Linda was alone on a cushion, sitting in yoga posture, meditating on the flickering light. Her eyes were open and appeared radiant and enormous. She glanced at Robert without reproach. The whole episode had passed without a ripple, it was a product of Robert’s self-conscious agony.

What the hell, he thought, just do it. He found a cushion and sat next to Linda, replicating her full lotus, displaying his credentials as a yogi. His feet rested easily on his thighs and his spine straightened as he gathered the nerve to approach this gorgeous woman.

Linda’s shoulder looked velvety in the candle light. Robert gently put his fingers on her body, just the four tips of the fingers of his right hand, touching her oh so lightly. He watched Linda’s response. She didn’t flinch or move away from him. Nor did she move towards him. She was set in her own center. That’s okay, Robert thought. That’s okay. Again, his heart beat fast, his stomach turned over with anxiety. I’ve got to do this, he urged himself. I’ve got to break through my fear. You get nothing when you don’t ask. So just ask while you have the chance.

“Linda,” he said, “You’re beautiful. Your skin is amazing.”

She smiled a subtle little smile but remained facing forward. Robert was about to commit himself but he realized that he hadn’t prepared his words. How should he put it? “Linda, will you make love with me?” Or more commanding. “Linda, make love with me.” That might seem too aggressive. How about “I would love to make love to you, Linda.” Oh, that was clumsy. Love to make love. Oh fuck it. He leaned close to her and quietly spoke into her ear.  “Linda, love make me, oh, uh, you know, I really dig you, um, um, this is hard. What I mean to say is I want you to make love to you. I mean me.. I want.to make love to you. There! Whew!”

Linda’s head turned with agonizing slowness. The huge shining eyes rotated until they met Robert’s eyes. She was a sacred dakini, a deva, a goddess!

“Robert,” she said, “you’re sweet, but you’re just not my type.”

Robert squeezed the pillow, almost pulling it out from under himself. “Okay, okay, that’s cool, I understand that, it’s just that, well, okay… thanks.”

He stood up holding the pillow in front of his body, then dropped it back to the floor and walked onto the deck. He could see the last of the sun’s rays as they vanished into the starry night. His vulnerable heart opened and wept. After a time, as he watched the sky, he realized that at last he was free from all the ridiculous bullshit he had just put himself through. He didn’t have to hook up with Linda. He didn’t have to hook up with anyone.

The Milky Way was alive, writhing with creative force as gods and Buddhas contemplated the infinite void. The sky was the most beautiful thing Robert had ever seen. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and author Harmony Kent and my review

Today, I am delighted to feature poet and author Harmony Kent as my guest for Treasuring Poetry. I have read one of Harmony’s fictional books and her non-fiction book, Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer: Inspirational Tools to Fire Your Imagination, and they are both excellent. I have read and reviewed her poetry book, Slices of Soul: A Collection of Contemporary Poetry.

Welcome Harmony!

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

VOYAGE

Into the unknown we go

riding the ocean breeze

tacking this way and that

not too concerned with the far horizon

At peace, keeping an eye on the waves

that toss us about now and then

sailing through bright day

and deep dark night

It matters not

what tempest may come

we will weather the storms together

while we wend our way

We’ve lain our course

taken our soundings

and with love at the helm

we’ll keep a steady pace

Call it what you will

scow, skiff, sloop, hulk, schooner, bucket

so long as we caulk the boards and set the stays

we shall not founder

There’s no glory like it

in the heavens or on the Earth

than sailing free into the fire

of the sun as it sets into the glistening sea

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

When I met the love of my life, right away, we both went through some tough personal times. Those hardships brought us closer, and we’ve now been married for two years.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

Some form of Haiku, because it forces me write with brevity and choose my words with utmost care.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

As with my writing, my reading is eclectic. I enjoy a broad range of styles and genres.

What is your favourite poem?

Auguries of Innocence by William Blake

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour

A Robin Red breast in a Cage

Puts all Heaven in a Rage 

A Dove house filled with Doves & Pigeons

Shudders Hell through all its regions 

A dog starved at his Masters Gate

Predicts the ruin of the State 

A Horse misused upon the Road

Calls to Heaven for Human blood 

Each outcry of the hunted Hare

A fibre from the Brain does tear 

A Skylark wounded in the wing 

A Cherubim does cease to sing 

The Game Cock clipped & armed for fight

Does the Rising Sun affright 

Every Wolfs & Lions howl

Raises from Hell a Human Soul 

The wild deer, wandering here & there 

Keeps the Human Soul from Care 

The Lamb misused breeds Public Strife

And yet forgives the Butchers knife 

The Bat that flits at close of Eve

Has left the Brain that wont Believe

The Owl that calls upon the Night

Speaks the Unbelievers fright

He who shall hurt the little Wren

Shall never be beloved by Men 

He who the Ox to wrath has moved

Shall never be by Woman loved

The wanton Boy that kills the Fly

Shall feel the Spiders enmity 

He who torments the Chafers Sprite

Weaves a Bower in endless Night 

The Caterpillar on the Leaf

Repeats to thee thy Mothers grief 

Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly 

For the Last Judgment draweth nigh 

He who shall train the Horse to War

Shall never pass the Polar Bar 

The Beggars Dog & Widows Cat 

Feed them & thou wilt grow fat 

The Gnat that sings his Summers Song

Poison gets from Slanders tongue 

The poison of the Snake & Newt

Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot 

The poison of the Honey Bee

Is the Artists Jealousy

The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags

Are Toadstools on the Misers Bags 

A Truth that’s told with bad intent

Beats all the Lies you can invent 

It is right it should be so 

Man was made for Joy & Woe 

And when this we rightly know 

Through the World we safely go 

Joy & Woe are woven fine 

A Clothing for the soul divine 

Under every grief & pine

Runs a joy with silken twine 

The Babe is more than swaddling Bands

Throughout all these Human Lands

Tools were made & Born were hands 

Every Farmer Understands

Every Tear from Every Eye

Becomes a Babe in Eternity 

This is caught by Females bright

And returned to its own delight 

The Bleat the Bark Bellow & Roar 

Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore 

The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath

Writes Revenge in realms of Death 

The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air

Does to Rags the Heavens tear 

The Soldier armed with Sword & Gun 

Palsied strikes the Summers Sun

The poor Man’s Farthing is worth more

Than all the Gold on Africs Shore

One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands

Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands 

Or if protected from on high 

Does that whole Nation sell & buy 

He who mocks the Infants Faith

Shall be mocked in Age & Death 

He who shall teach the Child to Doubt

The rotting Grave shall neer get out 

He who respects the Infants faith

Triumphs over Hell & Death 

The Childs Toys & the Old Man’s Reasons

Are the Fruits of the Two seasons 

The Questioner who sits so sly 

Shall never know how to Reply 

He who replies to words of Doubt

Doth put the Light of Knowledge out 

The Strongest Poison ever known

Came from Caesars Laurel Crown 

Nought can Deform the Human Race

Like to the Armours iron brace 

When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow

To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow 

A Riddle or the Crickets Cry

Is to Doubt a fit Reply 

The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile

Make Lame Philosophy to smile 

He who Doubts from what he sees

Will ne’er Believe do what you Please 

If the Sun & Moon should Doubt 

They’d immediately Go out 

To be in a Passion you Good may Do 

But no Good if a Passion is in you 

The Whore & Gambler by the State

Licenced build that Nations Fate 

The Harlots cry from Street to Street 

Shall weave Old England’s winding Sheet 

The Winners Shout the Losers Curse 

Dance before dead England’s Hearse 

Every Night & every Morn

Some to Misery are Born 

Every Morn and every Night

Some are Born to sweet delight 

Some are Born to sweet delight 

Some are Born to Endless Night 

We are led to Believe a Lie

When we see not Thro the Eye

Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night 

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light 

God Appears & God is Light

To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 

But does a Human Form Display To those who Dwell in Realms of day

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43650/auguries-of-innocence

Slices of Soul: A Collection of Contemporary Poetry

What Amazon says

Slices of Soul is a collection of contemporary poetry from author Harmony Kent that will both delight and call for deeper reflection. ‘Phantoms’ gives a gritty account of pain that you can never catch. ‘Enough’ expresses the contentment of Zen. ‘Diamonds’ shows the beauty to be found on a drab and rainy day. While ‘The Alchemist’ shows you how a guitar can turn lead into gold. This wonderful arrangement of fifty poems takes you from the abstract of Zen to the melody of music, and will reach into your mind, your heart, and your soul.

My review

Slices of Soul is a compelling and unusual collection of poetry which certainly does give the reader glimpses into the complex soul and unusual life of the poet.

I think it is important to note that the poet spent 13 years living in a Zen Buddhist Temple and that the poems featured in this book were written, during and after this period in her life. I believe that her spiritualism and surroundings had a bearing on the thoughts and ideas expressed through the poems in this book.

The poems are divided into sections: Shaved Head, written during her time at the Zen Buddhist Temple, Short Hair, written during the transitional period of her changing life circumstances, and Long Hair which effectively covers all the remaining sections in the book and were written after she’d adjusted to her new life.

I felt the tone of the poems changed over the course of the book from intense reflections on life, to studies of nature, to fierce expressions of emotion, to gentler articulations of love and contentment.

The two poems that impacted me the most in this collection are from the first two sections of the book, Shaved Hair and Short Hair:

The Path
The ten directions all merge into one
this winding road leads nowhere
and goes straight there

Lost and Found
Deep dark depths
I got lost on purpose
this desolate place
the only way
to get my bearings

Poetry lovers who like poems that make you think about things and see them differently will appreciate this book.

Purchase Slices of Soul

Amazon US

Amazon Author Page Harmony Kent

About Harmony Kent

Harmony Kent

Harmony Kent is an award winning multi-genre author. Her publications include: 

The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved

The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree/New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015

Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015

Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)

Slices of Soul (Contemporary Poetry)

Interludes 1 & Interludes 2 (Erotic Short Stories)

Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)

Jewel in the Mud (Zen Musings)

Backstage (Erotic Romance)

FALLOUT (Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic Dystopia) BRAG Medallion Honouree

The Vanished Boy (Psychological Thriller)

As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow authors. Harmony works hard to promote and protect high standards within the publishing arena. She is always on the look out for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes. Harmony lives in Cornwall, England.

twitter: @harmony_kent

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/HarmonyK

harmonykent@gmx.com

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Mind Fields – Casinos: The Indians’ Revenge

Mind Fields

In spite of a genocide of unthinkable proportions, the Native Americans are still here. They continue to guard and revive their languages, their cultures and traditions. A hundred and fifty years ago, they were snatched from their way of life, their children were sent to government schools and ceased being Native Americans as we knew them. Their lands were stolen, their food destroyed, their self respect slashed, their independence lost, their values derided. 

During the sixties, the hippie movement created an icon of the Native American, made a romance of the tribal and nomadic life. A resurrected spirit began to seep into our so-called civilization. We had killed them off, but they returned. Their ghosts had hovered above the land, waiting for a time when they would be called.          

Now, we are calling them. There’s a pathetic romanticism in this revived nostalgia for an aboriginal lifestyle. It’s pathetic because underneath the sentimental reverence for everything Native American lies a desperate plea for help from a culture that has lost its moorings.

Some people, mixed and full blood Native Americans, remain aware of their culture.  They are working in subtle ways to bring some redemption out of the horror of their genocide. 

Indian ways are viewed with increasing respect and admiration, as the values of our own culture decline, disintegrate and leave us grasping for something that will help us re-design our lives so they make sense.          

It is a painfully barbed irony that many tribes now make their income soaking white people in gambling casinos. This method of making a living may be a two edged sword. It is an industry built on a foundation of vice and the creation of addictions. But consider a quick capsule history: squeezed into reservations by expanding white settlers, Native Americans were put on starvation-level welfare. What lands they possessed were confiscated whenever minerals or anything of value was discovered. In 1934, The Indian Reorganization Act allowed tribes to ‘buy back’ lands that had been confiscated. The capital to purchase these lands they once freely used came in the form of royalties on production of said natural assets. In essence, it’s like a situation where someone steals your car, and then sells it back to you. After all, you needed a car, right? And this car was YOUR car, you liked it, you bought it once, you might as well buy it again instead of buying another car. We’ll just let you pay for it by forking over a fifteen percent gasoline tax, or a ‘transportation tax’, or something that will keep your debt alive and delivering interest to the government.

It could be that gambling casinos are the last but only viable choice of a way to get a return on Indian lands. They are tax exempt. All you need is a parking lot, a building, some slot machines, electronic poker and blackjack, a bar, a restaurant, and you are in tax free heaven.

Lately I’ve gotten suspicious of Native Americans. I think they’re fucking with white people’s heads. It would be typical of their humor to go all Trickster on us. Let’s say, hypothetically, that a white person approaches a well known shaman. White person is seeking knowledge, initiation. Shaman sternly instructs white person: go into the desert and kill a badger with a dinner knife. Eat its liver and bring the pelt back to shaman and await further instructions. White person accomplishes mission in spite of grievous injury. Shaman takes pelt, puts it with inventory of other pelts and brews up peyote tea mixed with Belladonna. Whoo whoooo! White Seeker hallucinates legions of coal-black skeletons dressed in scarlet Nazi uniforms. The shaman puts White Seeker through a year of increasingly bizarre hi-jinks. He bestows dignified Native name on White Seeker: White Seeker. The literal translation in the native tongue is Buffalo Farts.

You get the idea. I saw this in Carlos Castaneda’s work. Don Juan and Don Gennaro were cackling behind their hands. Let’s make Carlos believe that his car has vanished into thin air! Then let’s make him believe something else. Let’s make him believe that an owl is capable of stealing  his soul and trading it to Mescalito for power. How long can we keep this Anglo dangling? Dangling Anglo? Hahahha! Danglo! Let’s pretend that’s his Yaqui name. He’ll go around telling his white friends at college that his name is Danglo. Hahahaha. Pass me some of that mescal, amigo.

I know that Native Americans have been hurt by their casino bonanza. It’s a crappy form of reparation. It generates a lot of cash and a lot of corruption.  I am not qualified to understand the situation. It’s like being paid a cash amount for your soul. Thank you, Mephistopheles, thank you very much.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


September Blues

Michael Daniel Lee Booth

September is always a difficult time of year for me. My son, Michael, died in September, two weeks after his nineteenth birthday, so the entire month is filled with thoughts of him, making it not a very happy month for me. I think about the times we had, and the ones we didn’t get to have. I imagine the man he never had the chance to grow into. It has been twelve years since he’s been gone and I’d like to share a poem that I wrote to him back then, a poem that still holds true today. I still miss him so much.

Just One More Time

Just one more time to hug you close.

Just one more time to see your smile.

Just one more time to touch your face.

Just one more time to feel your style.

Just one more time to breathe the scent of your cologne,

Even though it always made me sneeze.

Just one more chance to beg you

To stay and never leave me, please.

Just one more time to hear your voice.

Just one more time to know you’re there.

Just one more time to share a song.

Just one more time to tousle your curly hair.

Just one more time to say, “I love you”

And look into your eyes.

Just one more chance to say how much you mean.

Just one chance to say good-bye.

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Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show and Images of the Western Frontier

Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show

Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show captured the minds and imaginations of easterners and westerners alike. His show was “the most successful touring show of all times.” (Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Entertainment Holdings), rivaling P.T. Barnum’s Circus at the time (Johns). Many have said that, “Cody did not merely represent the west, but he became the west, in his own mind and in the minds of others.” (Johns) This seems to be true, as his legend lived on in early twentieth century literature. Cody’s exaggerated and theatric portrayals of scenes from the west became the west in the minds of Americans across the nation. They are the images and ideas that “shaped and reflect our history.” (Johns)

The Wild West Show alone could not account for the rapid rise of the mythological west that came to form in the minds of Americans, particularly easterners. The eastern public had “an insatiable appetite…for stories of the west” that was recognized by Cody and author Printiss Ingram who wrote a dime novel series of Buffalo Bill’s  adventures in the wild west, and together, they developed a stage version of the already popular Buffalo Bill myth. When Custer was defeated at Little Big Horn, Cody ended his New York Stage performance with the declaration that he would take a scalp in Custer’s honor. Less than a month later, the rumors flew with the claim that Cody had taken the scalp of Yellow Hand to the Fifth Calvary and myth blossomed into legend. (Johns) His performances portrayed scenes of wagon trains crossing the plains, settlers defending their homesteads, buffalo hunts and Indian battles as events of everyday life in the west, creating a romantic image of adventure and excitement for the public. (Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and Exhibition) In a west that was rapidly changing, many of Cody’s promotions depicted a west that was already dead for the most part, with most Native Americans having been confined to reservations, the Alamo pushing Mexicans back, and the buffalo were all but gone. (Johns)

Presenting himself as the best representative of the Wild West, Cody’s performances emphasized the belief of the Native Americans as savages already held by many, reinforcing stereotypes of the native tribes. To his credit, Cody did promote the Native American as, “The Former Foe–Present Friend, the American” (Johns) and the Sioux warriors that were members of his cast were given status with places in “his ‘Congress of Rough Riders,’ a contingent that represented the finest horsemen in the world.” (Johns), but his portrayals of the American Indian still emphasized the stereotype of the red savage. His show presented the American Cowboy as the real article, and although Vaqueros, (Mexican cowboys after which the American version was fashioned), were a part of the show, they were portrayed more as un-American cowboy wanna-bes. The image of the independent, savvy, confident American cowboy that Cody portrayed was and still remains an American icon. Pheobe Ann Moses’ portrayal of Annie Oakley likewise created an image of the western woman that was nearly as rugged and independent as the cowboy, although they had to be “fallen women” since expectations of the times would not allow for a respectable lady to live in such a manner.

The program that Cody passed out at his show was more than a program, but a source of information, further establishing Cody’s authority on the west. “The program was also a source of information, providing facts about Indian origins of state names, the latest trends in marksmanship, and historical profiles of great Civil War scouts and frontiersmen.” (Johns) In a west that was rapidly changing, many of Cody’s promotions depicted a west that was already dead for the most part, with most Native Americans having been confined to reservations, the Alamo pushing Mexicans back, and the buffalo were all but gone.

References

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Entertainment Holdings Inc. 2004. 21 September 2009. http://www.buffalobill.com/BuffaloBill.02.html

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and Exhibition. 21 September 2009. http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/acs/1890s/buffalobill/bbwildwestshow.html 

Johns, Joshua. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. 11 November 1995. University of Virginia. 21 September 2009. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/HNS/BuffaloBill/home.html

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