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