Sunday, December 27, 2015

SOURCE OF PLEASURE: A flowing river . . .

Source of Pleasure

A flowing river
gains strength
from the depths. 

Placid or rippling,
a lake’s life-forms
maintain its balance. 

Ecosystems flourish,
Becoming a source of pleasure
for those who thrive
on fresh water. 

Depletion is not an option for
Nature’s one true elixir.
None of the photographs that accompany these poems were chosen until after the poems were written. If I had any image in mind when I wrote this particular poem, it would have been the one enclosed here. I took the photograph during my vacation in Alaska, and it is my favorite from the entire trip. I have no idea which river this is, but it flows somewhere on the outer rim of Anchorage. 

Originally, I used the picture for the cover of my next novel. The main plot of the story involves a river’s rapids. Ultimately, though, this scene appeared “too busy” for a book cover. Interesting to me is that, as I continue to look at the picture, the “busy-ness” is also what I find calming. 

I can hear the water rushing over hidden rocks, feel the breeze that contributes to the rippling motion of its surface, smell the scent of pine needles in the air, see the sun glaring off the snow along the banks, and imagine the taste of wild berries. 

The fresh-water supply of the USA is largely found in the Great Lakes. I grew up in a small town that extents seven miles into Lake Michigan. To a child, with the lake stretching beyond the horizon on all sides save the beach side, it was no smaller than the world’s oceans combined. It was easy to take fresh water for granted. 

Only now are we becoming aware that it is time to reconsider the abuse of nature’s one true elixir. 


Sunday, December 20, 2015



If you’ve ever enjoyed a Chinese New Year’s lion dance, you will understand the necessity of working together to accomplish a difficult feat. The task of moving dragon-bodied lions along a parade route is difficult. As the animal’s head is raised and lowered in rapid succession, you wonder where the marcher gets the strength to remain in perpetual motion. After a period of time, the performers switch places. The energy expended is tremendous and such action cannot be safely sustained for long periods of time. 

Along with this coordination of efforts, each performer supporting the lion’s body works in sync with the others to produce an undulating motion. All this occurs while the pageant moves along its route, keeping the character dancing to elicit smiles. The red donation envelopes of good-luck help keep the energy level high. 

A writer’s goal is to offer readers this same level of entertainment. She develops characters that appeal to the reader’s senses and emotions, much like the colorful and expressive New Year’s lion. The writer works in solitude environment, venturing out only for hands-on research or a bit of fellow-human contact. She uses the muscles of her mind, exerting great energy to create setting and characters; tension and excitement; plot and climax. This collaborative effort is meant for the reader’s benefit.
Once the hard work leads to “society’s pleasure” the writer stands, mouth agape, waiting for the good-luck dollar!

Writing is a solitary activity,
sitting alone for hours
at typewriter or computer
with a tablet or notepad.
Inside the author’s head
drumming up ideas
scenarios, settings
a plot slowly forms.
Characters dance and
story line develops.
Everything comes together
to build tension and
create meaning.
To tell an engaging tale
and elicit smiles, or tears.

 A solitary pursuit evolves
Becoming society’s pleasure.



Sunday, December 13, 2015



No war, no pollution
Not global arming*
Or racism
Nuclear threats, bigotry,
High cost of living,
      And joblessness

 Nothing will be resolved
Until the madness of
Self-loathing and
Bloated egos ends. 

Denial of equality
Continues to
Generate war, pollution,
Racism and bigotry. 

Stop the denial and know:
I am you
You are me

*Global arming: This began as a typo but seemed even more appropriate than the intended: global warming.
Speaking of bloated, this might be a good message for the bloated field of presidential candidates hoping to win a spot on the final ballot. Neither this poem nor any portion of this book is meant as political commentary. However, suggesting that everyone work together for a safer and happier world sounds like a good idea. 

About “self-loathing,” I’ve found that an insecure person might quickly berate another. The intention is to lower the perception of the other person’s status, thereby elevating their own. 

Am I, personally, in denial? Maybe I contribute to pollution or global warming, though certainly not to global “arming”. I know I don’t contribute to the high cost of living, or to joblessness.J And after living in Hawai‘i for over twenty years, I find the greatest social concern, aside from homelessness, is the Sovereignty issue. Yet protests are kept peaceful. Opinions vary, but remain less boisterousness than a discussion about the latest Hawai‘i Rainbow Warriors football game. 

After jet planes became the preferred mode of long-distance travel, people said, “the world is shrinking,” With easy access to the World Wide Web, the world shrunk even farther. When a family increases from two to three or four, adjustments are made to accommodate their growing needs. Applying these adjusted needs to the growth of a nation, and then to world population, is beyond my comprehension.

I can only pray world leaders will come to a workable solution that involves working together.

Friday, December 11, 2015


To say I cut my teeth on Agatha Christie novels may be an exaggeration, although my wisdom teeth didn’t sprout until late. Whether I read Murder in Mesopotamia during my teething years remains a mystery. But when the novel was chosen for a local book club reading, I eagerly jumped in head first. Who doesn’t like meeting up with an old friend, especially someone as masterful a detective as M. Hercule Poirot?
First Edition cover - 1936

One thing that pleasingly caught my attention early was Ms. Christie’s apt use of metaphor to describe an elusive feeling: 

“Nobody seemed quite natural. There was a queer atmosphere of tension.
I can explain best what I mean by saying that
they all passed the butter to each other too politely.” 

With the above statement, Agatha Christie allows her character to simply and vividly depict the atmosphere of the situation. I immediately felt the discomfort around the dinner table. 
As for solving the mystery within the story, it took me some time to eliminate most of the suspects. And while I did have a fairly good bead on the culprit, I couldn’t have told you why other than through the logic of writing a mystery plot. Of course, using “mystery writer’s logic” as a method of deduction can make reading less enjoyable. I tend to avoid this tactic in favor of having the author reveal to me “whodunit.”

Agatha Christie’s straightforward writing style and the personality traits of her detectives make reading her novels a relaxing form of entertainment.


Continuing in 2016

Next up for review:
First Four Virgil Flowers novels
by John Sandford

Sunday, December 6, 2015


To Remain Still

into steaming water.
So relaxed you cannot move.

turn the air white
with swirling feathers.
Ever moving, while you remain still.

of sprouting roots,
you ask forgiveness
And vow to stop the madness.* 

*Does the madness represent society’s expectation that one must always be actively productive? (Or could it be your expectation of yourself?) 


In this world of perpetual motion, taking a break to relax and revitalize has become a forbidden fruit picked from the tree of technology. Wireless frequencies branch out to claim our attention and steal our time. Alarms awaken us to each frenetic new day. Beeping announces a caller on line-one while pulsing sounds alert us to a caller on line-two. Buzzers remind us of scheduled meetings and lunch teleconferences. Emails and text messages update our agenda by the minute. 

It is difficult to imagine taking time to sink into a soothing bath. Or even a few extra moments to allow a refreshing shower to relieve tension and wash away the ravages of our frenzied pace. Is the madness out of our hands? Do others dictate the use of our time? 


Knowing that goals and purpose are important, we’ve made our own decisions. The pace we set can be regulated according to needs. But there is danger in the conviction that activity itself is what makes the goal or purpose important. 

Balance career with spurts of relaxation and recreation. Allow the madness within your personal space to fade. Will that alleviate the madness around you? Not necessarily. 

But it could make it easier to accept or ignore those who thrive on chaos and drama. With your iPhone ringer turned off, your computer shut down, and your e-Reader charging in airplane mode, you might even come to pity those who can’t stop to appreciate the silence. 


Friday, December 4, 2015

ALOHA Where You Like Go? by Cloudia W. Charters #FridayBooks

My goal is to read and review 71 books between October, 2015 and October, 2016. My eclectic reading list includes a wide variety of genres, from first-in-series self-published novels to the classics. At the end of each review, I will list the next book slated for review.

ALOHA Where You Like Go? by Cloudia W. Charters
From Survival to Satisfaction by Honolulu Taxi


In this memoir, the author relates the story of a young adult female who moves to Hawai‘i and experiences an unusual “coming of age.” Her story begins on the Kona side of the Big Island, where she expects cheap living in paradise. But, hey, where the beach? What she gets is jungle.
She eventually moves to Honolulu, the state capital of Hawai‘i on Oah‘u, to live and work. Her careers span from nightclub dancer to cab driver. Her life lessons, and the people she meets, are a joy to experience with vicarious reading delight.
The local historical details included in Ms. Charters’ tale are excellent. This is not a travel guide rehash but a “well-researched through living” story. Each chapter includes little known facts used to enhance the narrative.
I have visited and explored many locations on six major Hawaiian Islands over the past twenty plus years. But this author took me to places in Hawai‘i I will most likely never have the opportunity to see or experience on my own. I enjoyed every page of this book.

Next up for review:

Murder in Mesopotamia
by Agatha Christie


Sunday, November 29, 2015

BLESSED SLEEP: Looking For Solutions

Blessed Sleep
With eyelids squeezed tight
you count down from ten
then twenty, fifty, a hundred
to no avail.
Silence begs for shouting
to distract the thoughts
that won’t allow, grant, permit
blessed sleep.
Sirens peel strips of flesh
from your insomniac mind,
daring fingers and lips
to remain still.


While the previous week’s poem Acceptance turned surprisingly pleasant, this poem labeled Blessed Sleep takes its own unexpected, darker twist. I’m not sure where I dredged up the idea of insomnia other than from the contrary title. I don’t recall ever having extreme bouts of insomnia, certainly nothing comparable to the misery expressed in the heart of this poem. 

Having addressed the topic, however, I now have empathy for those who do suffer from such a malady. Not only does sleeplessness rob one of a full night’s Blessed Sleep. It also reaches out to undermine the following day’s pleasures that a person normally expects from life. 

This poem also describes an accelerating reaction, as a taunting voice issues a dare to find peace outside the pain of noisy chaos. This suggests that sleeplessness leads to growing agitation. Worries mount, seeping into the conscious mind. This likely assures that any hope of sleep is futile. 

Is there a solution that doesn’t require the use of unnatural substances? Not only for sleepless nights, but for endless days of questioning and searching for answers. An overactive imagination in the daylight hours, one that conjures up the possibility of trouble at every turn, is as afflicted by insomnia as the sleepless person of the night: both suffer from the restlessness of constant brain activity, whether negative or positive. 

Maybe the solution lies in the previous poem, Acceptance. Or it may lie ahead, in an as-yet unexamined word or phrase. 

Do you have the answer?

Friday, November 27, 2015

DIVISADERO by author Michael Ondaatje #FridayReviews

DIVISADERO, written by the author of The English Patient, has been described as “…one of the most enthralling literary journeys…” and “Hauntingly beautiful…” 

This story, by author Michael Ondaatje, opens with a poetic comment by its narrator, Anna, setting the stage for the artistic prose to follow. Part One of the novel is entitled Anna, Claire, and Coop. 

In the opening lines, Anna introduces Claire, who sits upon a horse that can be “fooled only once a day.” Anna refers to Clair as “my sister.” The details of this remarkable relationship unfold slowly, offering intrigue and delicious family secrets that envelope Coop in the telling. 

This novel captured me with its delightful phrase construction and gentle pace. Having been so completely transported to a world of pain and possibility, I never wanted to leave. I reveled in the intricacies of each chapter, experiencing along with the characters their tribulations and triumphs. 

Although Mr. Ondaatje’s Divisadero begins with Anna’s narration, the story’s point of view fluctuates. But because this is so subtly accomplished, only later did I become fully aware of the shifts from first to third person and back. The author is also expert at setting a scene without an excess of words. One sentence of an historic event flows into the mundane of a current affair without conscious disruption of thought. 

The lives of Anna, Claire, and Coop will always remain vivid in my mind. Not only because the author drew each character in wide, and then intimate, strokes. But because he also told their stories with raw emotion intact, leaving the reader to adjust accordingly. 

Having said all this, my discontent became boundless when Part Two of the story opened and closed with little further reference to characters I had taken to heart. My desire for closure was met instead with disappointment.

Next up for review is:

ALOHA Where You Like Go
by Cloudia W. Charters

Sunday, November 22, 2015

ACCEPTANCE: Benefits of Writing Poetry

Poems often start out headed in one direction and suddenly take an unexpected turn. This poem, Acceptance, surprised me because I thought its ending would reveal a difficulty requiring, well, acceptance! Instead, the words led to a more pleasant ending. Of course, the opposite is also possible, a lesson I learned as time went on and more poems took shape. 

One benefit of writing a renshi-form of poetry is knowing how the next poem will begin. By using the final words of the previous poem to entitle the next, the decision is already made. All that is required is to allow the words to flow, to release the thoughts buried deep inside of you without censure.

Maybe that is the Acceptance of this particular poem. Grant yourself a personal form of acceptance, one that will allow you to surrender to indulgence. The conditions listed at the start of the poem, stillness, inner focus, relaxed breathing, feel almost hypnotic in their release of control. Accept this, rather than attempting to maintain a strict discipline. 

The photograph I chose to accompany this poem, from my eclectic and rather amateurish collection, offers a sense of calm that complements the poem’s decelerating pace. I had no image in mind as I wrote the words. In fact, I had no preconceived ideas of the direction each poem would take or how they would tie together as a whole once completed. Had I set such a goal, the collaboration of words, motives, and images, my project would have no end. 

I choose completion over perfection every time.



Lack of motion

Limited sight

Slow breathing

Diminished thought

Absence of concern

Exhalation of relief

All this and more

As one accepts release

Falling gradually,

or fast

Time and again

With ever increasing pleasure

Into nightly blessed sleep.

***  ***  ***  ***  ***

Friday, November 20, 2015

THIS LIFE I'VE LOVED by author Isobel Field

When is the last time you read a memoir, or any book, that made you feel good inside, excited you to action, and entertained you to laughter and tears? THIS LIFE I’VE LOVED created all these emotions in me. 

Isobel Field lived a life we all dream about while we run our daily errands and cook our meals. Born in Indianapolis, Isobel began her travels at the age of four, mostly with her mother. She experienced the gold rush days and the old west in America, became a dancer, an artist, a craftsman. Her life in the theater alone makes a fascinating story.
This was before she relocated to Honolulu and became well-acquainted with King David Kalakaua, the Merry Monarch. The king asked her to design the royal crest of Hawai‘i, as well as the official Hawaiian flag. She complied. 

Isobel moved to Australia at the request of her mother and stepfather, who then established residency for the entire family in Samoa. Her writing of all these events of her life is honest, straightforward, colorful, and most of all personal. I felt included in the many parties, theater rehearsals, and hectic Paris studio activities. I was pleased with her arrival in Belgium, home of my paternal ancestors, and how she spoke of the country’s great painters and hospitable citizens. 

Of Isobel, Irwin S. Cobb says: "Although much of Isobel Field's autobiography is concerned with her stepfather, Robert Louis Stevenson, it is Isobel's own unique story and her vibrant personality that will captivate the reader. Belle was a wonderful storyteller and a writer of great wit and acuity. She was with her mother, Fanny (Frances Van de Grift Osbourne), when they met Stevenson in Grez in 1876. . . 

“A great woman . . . who has lived as picturesque and colorful and useful life as anyone I know." 


Next up for review is:

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Sunday, November 15, 2015

PURPOSE TO LIFE: What Every Soul Needs

The Hawaiian performance, Ulalena, is a Maui Island Cirque du Soleil. With precision, the performers present a dance of visual splendor. The audience has no doubt each actor on stage has purpose. At the end of the day, their reward is not only extended applause, but the knowledge of a job well done. 

Applying this precision to my own life is a commendable goal, more command than able, however. Discipline is not necessarily acquired through routine. Sitting in front of a computer for several hours each day does not guarantee a fully formed manuscript at the end of six months. 

The computer is really the devil in disguise. On the desktop alone is a full selection of solitaire card games, along with an entire folder of photographs meant to be sorted and labeled. Another folder contains countless web articles, saved for off-line reading. The folder icon faces the icon for the power-DVD player. You can see where that’s headed, thanks to Walmart’s $5.00 bin. 

As poem #5 declares in its first line, every soul needs purpose. Purpose offers meaning in a world fraught with confusion and indecision. Using the GPS in your soul to guide you each day can keep the unsettling moments to a minimum. Choose a direction. If you hit a dead end, turning around is only a matter of shifting your heels and adjusting your nose to follow. 

I’m not as coordinated as the Ulalena acrobats, but I seldom tip over!


On stage after performance
with cast member and Jeanne Miller

Purpose to Life 

Every soul needs purpose
A reason to smile
Reward for a task well done. 
A life lived aimlessly
Wanders through light and dark
Never understanding ease. 

Knowing why I do
What I do so precisely,
Gives weight to each accomplishment. 

Up down, east west
Left right, high low
Balance leads me to acceptance.
 ***  ***  ***  ***  ***


Friday, November 13, 2015

LOVE Beyond Measure / PRISM POISON #FridayReviews

Today I am reviewing two books. Both are written by D.V. Whytes, which is the pen name of the husband and wife writing team, authors Vicki and Don White.

Beyond Measure
LOVE Beyond Measure is a small book packed with heartwarming inspiration. Here is a beautiful reflection on The Lord's prayer, Our Father. Each chapter in this book focuses on a line from the prayer. Each section also includes an interesting story that relates to the lives of Don and Vicki White, writing as D.V. Whytes.

A Safari-Cruise Murder Mystery by D. V. Whytes 
The setting of this novel is Africa. Because I loved the idea of taking such a cruise, but no desire to actually do so, reading about one was an excellent choice. When I read that Vicki and Don White, writing as D. V. Whytes, were actually in Mombasa on the day of the bombing in November of 2002, I was hooked. 

The mystery portion of the story is finely woven into the fabric of interesting events on the cruise and the safari excursions. The movie, Blood Diamonds, sparked my interest some years ago. For this reason, I was fascinated to read so much in this novel about diamond mining in Africa. 

Throughout the story, the narrative exhibits an in depth amount of research, along with personal experiences of the authors. The timing of the novel was also when the world was learning about the terrorist group Al Qaeda. The reader is naturally reminded of 9/11 and the Twin Towers. 

Many lighter moments add a welcome levity to the novel. These scenes involve characters unaware of the novel’s unofficial murder investigation or the diamond smuggling. I also enjoyed the high-seas and grasslands adventures thoroughly, snakes and all. 

It was easy to entrench myself in the ongoing trials and tribulations of protagonists Grey and Hunter Greystone. By the end of the novel, I almost felt as though I had traveled with them to Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kenya; gone on safari in vans and suffered the lack of shock absorbers; and, my favorite, strolled along the banks of the Limpopo and rested under the shade of fever tree.

Next up for review: 
This Life I’ve Loved
by Isobel Field


Sunday, November 8, 2015

AN EXPLOSION OF POSSIBILITY: A Thimbleful of Happiness

Being alive means having the opportunity to accomplish, whether the goal is to sleep through the night or to save the world from imminent destruction. Absence of possibility is the black hole of despair. Accomplishing your goal is secondary - unless the goal involves something comparable to landing an airplane or crawling back out of that darn volcano caldera! 

I need to know that my efforts can produce results. Imagine working toward a goal that is impossible to reach, or that you’ve convinced yourself is impossible to reach (think 5 pounds). That goal sinks under its own self-defeating prophesy. 

But accepting the promise of a “maybe” or a “chance” inherent in hopes and dreams, I am eager to move forward. I continue to strive toward improvement in my craft, my art. Throughout the length of this process, I also understand that the completion of a goal does not deliver unending happiness. Life is a balance, the tragedies giving fuller meaning to the explosions of joy, the success, and the endless possibilities.
An Explosion of Possibility 
Success is a thimbleful
of happiness
A goal met or drawn near 
Promises, layered for buffer
raise hopes
Granting permission to go on 
Wishes meant for more than
empty dreams
guide the way forward 
An explosion of maybe’s;
chances are; and possibilities;
give purpose to life.

***  ***  ***  ***  ***