Sunday, February 28, 2016

WICKED - A Poem: Who Causes the First Stirrings?



21
WICKED 

Rain on my feet creates a
cool sensation. A breeze
whispers under gun metal sky
lined with telephone wires
where birds offer songs
to wake the neighborhood. 

It is peaceful here on my lanai
before morning traffic
fills the boulevard
with restless thoughts.
Bloated, useless, wicked.
Hearts become heavy
under the burden. 

I wait out the feeling as skies
tinge with blue. Light sprays up
from the horizon, while tires
spin on pavement.
Birds perched on wires above
set the mood for the day.
Nature unfolds at its own pace.
 

I once read that birds perch on telephone wires in a musical pattern. The article also stated that a musician created a score from the birds’ positions and then played the music. I immediately went outside and took a photograph of several birds in formation on the telephone wires stretched along Kapiolani Blvd. They definitely reminded me of musical notes.
 
This poem reminds me of that scene, and it started me wondering just how much of my writing is influenced by memories of old photographs.
 
About the poem itself, I find myself drawn to the final three lines. Birds perched on high wires in the morning tend to appear lethargic, almost as though they are only just beginning to come alive; not so dissimilar to coffee drinkers savoring their first cup-a-joe. Then a noise or sudden gust sends the birds soaring, the starter-gun signal that the day has begun and the world is off and running.
 
Nature does unfold at its own pace, and the poem implies a gentle start to the day. But nature’s pace can at times be hectic. The wickedness of restless human thought may cause hearts to become heavy under the burden. But is it possible the atmosphere of nature has caused the first stirrings?
 
 

Friday, February 26, 2016

DEVIL'S GATE #FridayReview of Underwater #Adventure

DEVIL’S GATE by
Clive Cussler
and
Graham Brown

Devil’s Gate features protagonist Kurt Austin in an adventure classified as a “novel from the NUMA® files. Mr. Cussler has written over twenty Dirk Pitt thrillers, many of them set in underwater locations so familiar to the author. Now Dirk is Kurt Austin’s boss. 

The ongoing action and high level of tension maintained in Devil’s Gate gives the reader little incentive to set the book aside for any mundane reason such as eating, sleeping or performing one’s own career duties. 

The relationship between Kurt and his sidekick, Joe Zavala, is reminiscent of that between Dirk and Al. Ironically, they are serving to Dirk the same headaches he and Al once showered on Admiral Sandecker. This time, a million-dollar undersea vessel seems to be expendable. 

If you are a writer, looking for examples of keeping your protagonist’s situation ever worsening, this is an excellent model. Mr. Cussler and Mr. Brown have the ability to escalate danger and then find an impossible means of extracting the characters by the skin of their teeth without resorting to the use of a dreaded deus ex machina solution. Although it is at the expense of the reader’s nerves.
 

Next up for review:
The Messenger
by
Jan Burke

 

 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A POEM WITH NO PURPOSE . . . just fun


20
Rest
 
Why did the gecko cross the road?
 
Not every poem has deeper meaning, or even a purpose other than to entertain. While writing my collection of poems, many days I allowed my inner muse to determine which direction my emotions would take. A humorous muse took over this day, suggesting a word puzzle of sorts. The idea appealed, with this the result:
 
None for the weary, for some
it brings peace. Assurances promised
to put doubts at ease. 
Prosecutors and laurels,
in common with
minds,
Many laid to it in History’s time. 
Words will not make this
poem more explicit, but to complete the thought:
There’s even less for the wicked.
 
Children love word games, little puns or plays on words that make them laugh. Knock-Knock jokes, especially silly ones, tickle their fancy. 

“Knock, knock.”
Silence
“You’re supposed to ask the question, ‘Who’s there?’”
“Why?”
“No, who.”
“Who what?”
“No, just who.”
“Just who who?”
“Just ask the question!”
“Who’s there?”
“Yes.”
(By this time, the kids are rolling on the floor, laughing way too hard to continue.) 

Simple question/answer jokes are fun, too. Remember these?
“What’s black and white and red all over?” “An embarrassed zebra.”
“What is blue and smells like red paint?” “Blue paint.”
(I thought about this last one for days before I realized it really is funny! Guess I’m still a kid at heart.) 

Word games are good for the mind even for adults. Keeping the mind agile through your seventies, eighties, and nineties is an admirable goal. If you plan to live to be 104, as I do, it becomes imperative. Sudoku is my puzzle game of choice. I’m also hooked on solitaire games and have mastered Microsoft’s FreeCell so I “win” every time! 

Now, did you find seven aphorisms relating to the word “Rest” embedded in the above poem?
 

 

Friday, February 19, 2016

DAMNED IN PARADISE/THE MASSIE CASE #TrueCrime #Murder #Mystery


Damned In Paradise, A Nathan Heller Novel by Max Allan Collins is a fictional accounting of The Massie Case. Though no more or less dramatic than the true crime stories written about the case, it is easy reading, very true to “fact” as the facts are known and recorded, and includes an alternate suggestion for a possible outcome, also based on recorded fact. My time was well-spent reading this novel. 
 
Other stories relating the same researched details of the case include:
Rape In Paradise by Theon Wright, with intro by Glen Grant;
Something Terrible Has Happened by Peter Van Stingerland;
Local Story by John P. Rosa (copyright 2014) examines the events from
a new perspective raising questions involving universal awareness;
Hawai‘i’s Scandal by Cobey Black; and
Honor Killing by David Stannard. 

Finally, there is The Massie Case by Peter Packer and Bob Thomas copyrighted 1966 when information was released, though it had always been available. This true crime, uncensored story tells in detail the known facts and speculation of an alleged gang-rape in the Hawaii Territory in 1931-1932.
 
 
 
The authors used all information available to them and published their accounts of racial violence and murder, the actions of a husband and mother to avenge a hateful act, and the defense presented by a world-renowned attorney, Clarence Darrow. 

The Massie Case was released in 1966 along with two other books (Rape In Paradise by Theon Wright; Something Terrible Has Happened by Peter Van Stingerland;) relating the story in similar fashion. The words “notorious” “sensational” and “controversial” accurately describe events surrounding this series of tragedies, but the reader new to this tale may find their application unexpected and shifting. 

What did happen that late night in 1930s Waikiki? 

Was a young married Caucasian female raped multiple times? By a group of local boys? The ones she identified? What circumstances led up to whatever did happen, and why did someone else have to die before an uncomfortable peace was established? 

Whether you read the true crime stories or the novels, the facts shimmer and shift equally. And unless you have ice water in your veins, you will develop opinions and draw conclusions. The events that became known as “the Massie Case” is that kind of a case.
 

Next up for review:

Devil’s Gate
by
Clive Cussler

 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

HISTORY OF LOVE: Looking to the Origin

First, let me wish everyone a belated Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you enjoyed a relaxing day, a fantastic meal with your favorite beverage (mine is still diet cola!) and a good movie. If you are far more active than me, you may have gone surfing, jogging, hiking, climbing, or golfing. More like me, back to the movie thing or reading or writing. Whatever your pleasure, passion, or mystery, I hope you found time to indulge.

While Valentine's Day has evolved into a celebration of love, the story of Valentine himself tells of learning to believe in something strongly enough to risk your life for that belief. One version of the story (there are always many, aren't there?) is here: http://www1.cbn.com/st-valentine-real-story


ANOTHER NEW BEGINNING
70 Poems for 70 Days

Poems #18 and #19

Today I am posting two poems from Another New Beginning. Poem #19, REVEALING A SOUL, seemed more uplifting than #18, RIVER OF MUD. Maybe the diverse emotions reflect the original and the evolved perceptions of St. Valentine's Day. To keep my posts of the poems in order, I am including both.

Neither poem appears to reflect the purpose of Valentine's Day. With photographs of pink hearts and red roses floating around on Twitter and Facebook and Google, there seems little room for thoughts of "Rivers of Mud" or even the more lighthearted "Revealing A Soul".

18
RIVER OF MUD


Walls fall
Houses crumble
Cars float downstream.
Winds howl
Skies blacken
Children cling to worried mothers’ skirts. 

Men nail boards
Across window panes
While roofs detach and concrete cracks.
Pack and drive to safety
Leave mementos
Bring water. 

She comes with fierce determination
Taking homes and claiming lives.
Anguished cries of man and nature
Die away
Revealing only tortured souls. 


 
While my thoughts were on Katrina’s destruction of New Orleans, these words can easily cover the devastation of many areas of life. 

Walls fall Houses crumble” when a family is ripped apart by divorce or lingering illness. 

Winds howl Skies blacken” during many dangerous weather conditions. This can also describe the inner turmoil of a person during a rape and the unending pain in years to follow. 

Men nail boards” could refer to Christ’s crucifixion or even the slamming of a prison gate, figuratively being nailed shut behind a prisoner. 

Words can be interpreted in many ways. In the movie, I’M NOT HERE, a reporter says to a character representing Bob Dylan, “…some have questioned … whether or not you still care about people …”
The Bob Dylan character replies, “… we all have our own definitions of all those words. ‘Care…’ and ‘People…’”
“Well,” the reporter says, “I think we all know the definition of ‘people.’”
 
To which the Bob Dylan character says, “Yeah. Do we?” 

Is endless war the answer to the misunderstandings between nations? Between one nation? Is our world a true tower of babel with purpose misinterpreted for all? When ‘she - the river of mud - comes with fierce determination,’ will our answers - anguished cries - appease or anger before they die away? The river of mud, detached roofs, cracked concrete: What destruction will be revealed in the souls of man?


19
REVEALING A SOUL
 
The effort leaves her spent
filled with joy
Breathless.

She leans back
takes inventory, reveals
Satisfaction.

Dreamless, she sleeps,
gaining strength
Healing.

Preparing for what comes next
Already knowing, this child also
Will not give her rest.
 
 
 
The process of using the wording at the end of one poem to create the title of the next meant poems often took an unusual turn. As with many others, I had no idea where I was headed with this poem until most of the words had flowed onto the page. In this case, the effort exerted led to joy and satisfaction, and finally to a touch of humor.

This is for those who have given birth to a number of children. You know babies don’t give a mother much time to relax. Of course, she has already prepared herself for what lay ahead. She isn’t concerned about breast feeding and diaper changes. Or worrying needlessly about skinned knees or school detentions. She nervously looks ahead to the first weeks of dating, the temporary driver’s license, cigarettes hidden in the desk drawer (and other stuff, too!); everything that comes with adolescents developing into teenagers; on-and-on.

If that were the end of a mother’s worries, this would remain a simple, humorous poem. But the ambiguous on-and-on includes releasing your babies to the outside world without further hands-on influence over their daily thoughts, or their actions.

For now though, accept this poem’s originally intended tongue-in-cheek message. The reality of this newly-born child, sleeping so peacefully in its hospital bassinette, is that he or she will soon be capable of creating headaches with endless unanswerable questions; generating colorful drawings on the newly painted white kitchen wall; and displaying a stubborn streak you know with absolute certainty comes from your mother-in-law’s side of the family.

 
 

Friday, February 12, 2016

A VISIBLE DARKNESS by Michael Gregorio A Baltic #Thriller


A Visible Darkness by Michael Gregorio is likely to remain one of my favorite reads in 2015-2016.
Described as a “gothic historical thriller,” this novel offers interesting insight into the history of Prussia’s Baltic coast. I read it as part of my research for a genealogical novel I’m writing (and worked on during 2015 NaNoWriMo.) I discovered the title while searching for fact-based material on Prussia. Although I chose the book as an addition to the bibliography of source material for my project, its entertainment value was an added and pleasantly surprising bonus.
In the vein of a Hercule Poiret-type detective, Hanno Stiffenias is like a dog with a marrow-rich bone. He won’t let go until every last clue is sucked out of the murder case he is investigating. The colorful background information woven throughout enhances but doesn't distract from the story 

The plot includes an occupying French Army and a young woman’s mutilated body found near the Baltic seashore; and a subplot about Baltic amber. Murder, intrigue, and a luscious color keep the story moving forward at a fast pace, dragging the reader quite willingly to a final solution.
 

Next up for review:
 
Damned In Paradise-A Nathan Heller Novel by Max Allan Collins
and
The Massie Case by Peter Packer and Bob Thomas

 

 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

NO KNACK poem #17 From Spark to Bursting Flame


17
No Knack
 
 
 
My Toastmasters speech
a dry run.
Tense, but eager
Using clear, concise tones.

Each word highlighting a point
on how the writing process
flows
from idea sparked,
to bursting flame,
generating a complete and published work. 

Then I swap the breezy artist’s cap
for one of entrepreneur –
and feel the constant drag
like wading through
a cooled pahoahoa lava flow, or
a river of mud.

 


I’ve stood on cooling lava flows when they were still quite warm to the touch. On the Big Island of Hawai‘i, Kilauea is known as the friendly volcano. It has been gently erupting since 1982. 

Walking on the surface of what once was over a thousand degrees of liquid fire, ancient material that flowed up from the center of the earth, is a bit eerie. Pahoahoa lava is smooth, rope-like in appearance. A’a flows are chunky, like oversized stucco. 

Once cooled, lava is rock hard. There is no “wading through” rock. That is my first impression of marketing, an impossible task required to sell a book. 

With my first novel, I had a degree of success. But after writing a second and third book, with research and editing, the publishing process seemed to overwhelm me. Marketing fell to the wayside while I returned to the fun part of being an author: writing. 

Easing back into the marketing arena again, I plan to replace the sense of constant drag with rhythmic rollercoaster action. With hard work, and luck, I look forward to building momentum. My goal is to continue moving forward, slowing at curves only long enough to give myself a breather before heading into the next run. 

If I can turn “no-knack” into no-lack of interested readers, even cooling lava flows won’t detour me from stepping into the overheated arena of marketing.

 

Friday, February 5, 2016

HONOLULU and HAWAII'S STORY Reviews #FridayReads

HONOLULU by Alan Brennert 

This second novel of Mr. Brennert’s Hawai‘i stories begins in Korea, where a young girl, the story’s protagonist, is raised. Her rural village is Pojogae. As girls are not so important, the names they are saddled with are often less than flattering. This girl is named “Regret” which tells its own story. 

A staple of the family diet, served at all meals, is kimchi. This is a spicy side dish made from fermented cabbage, garlic, and red peppers. New brides kowtow to every whim of their mother-in-law. A chogak po is a patchwork cloth (quilt), which I found to be a metaphor for life within the story. These are a few of the interesting facts about Korean history and tradition that I learned from reading HONOLULU. I also enjoyed learning how these traditions translated to life in Hawai‘i. 

When Regret’s father discovers she has learned to read, he becomes furious and spouts a Korean saying: “A woman without ability is virtuous!” (You know a woman who can reach, and is challenged by such a statement, will not go quietly into the night! In this case, she sails to Hawai‘i.) 

Within the novel, the author seamlessly weaves fact with fiction for an entertaining read. As with his novel, Moloka‘i, he maintains a high level of tension which held me captive throughout. 

********** 

Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen
written by Queen Liliuokalani


 
This book was first published in 1898, written in the first person narrative of Queen Liliuokalani: “In my school days . . .” “I especially recall a trip . . .” “my brother,” (King David Kalakaua). She, as the last reigning queen of the Hawaiian Islands, was looking for justice after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy. During her school days, she already experienced the differences between Polynesian and Western values. After her marriage in Honolulu to a prominent Caucasian male, she (a descendant of royalty) suffered the hostility of her Caucasian mother-in-law’s disapproval of interracial marriage. 

Still, Liliuokalani did have many good times in her life, music being a top enjoyment for her. She played many musical instruments, including the organ, zither, and ukulele. She composed Hawai‘i’s national anthem and the noted love song, “Aloha ‘Oe.” 

Of especial interest to me are the several genealogical charts included at the back of the book that begin generations before the birth of King Kamehameha I. 

********** 

Mr. Brennert’s novel covers the hardships and losses of a Korean woman raised in the foreign land of Honolulu, Hawai‘i. This true story of Liliuokalani tells of a woman raised in the land of her ancestors, who suffered the greatest of losses, the ultimate loss by herself and her people of their land; and the loss of her freedom. Hawaii’s Story is also the story of Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalani.

**********
 

Next up for review:
 
A Visible Darkness
by
Michael Gregorio

 


Monday, February 1, 2016

PAYING IT FORWARD: Author Terry Ambrose #MondayBlogs

 
 


When someone develops an idea that will benefit a good cause, and then spearheads the project from napkin notes to tangible product, a rousing "Thank You" is in order. In this case, the project was an idea to raise money for READ ALOUD AMERICA, an organization focused on "building families of lifetime readers."

The project involved an anthology of short stories set in Hawai'i, written by 10 authors who have close ties to Hawai'i. The person who conceived, developed, and brought to fruition the brilliant idea is Terry Ambrose. He gathered the authors, then the stories. He corralled a very willing editor, a book cover designer, and a layout artist. Terry coordinated the entire project right down to the strategic marketing.

Because of Terry's extraordinary efforts, Paradise Passion Murder became a reality, with all proceeds going directly to READ ALOUD AMERICA. The mission of this organization is:

Our Mission
Through the fun of reading and being read-to,
Read Aloud America promotes literacy, bonds families,
and builds communities of lifetime readers.
 
 (You can check it out here: http://www.readaloudamerica.org/ )
 
 
To Terry, MAHALO NUI LOA for your vision; for all your hard work to accomplish this goal;
for offering the opportunity to participate in a heartwarming and exceptionally worthwhile project to a wide-spread group of writers who then evolved into an aloha-filled group of friends.
 
For further information about author Terry Ambrose and the anthology project, please visit:
and
 
 
The anthology is available at Amazon.com