Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brick Walls

My words
fall on deaf ears,
my thoughts forever blocked
by stark constructions laid across
closed minds.

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

This poem examines the frustration that I frequently feel when involved in certain internet discussions. At times, I sense that an encounter such as this is less a discussion or even a debate, and more an opportunity to stand upon a soapbox and present your personal viewpoint to the world. I suspect that attitudes and opinions rarely shift due to anything said during these supposed discussions. And yes, I have been guilty of some of this myself.

Another reality has come to light. I have realized that I think differently, I perceive the world differently, than a lot of other people out there on the world-wide-web. I don't know if it is a situational thing, or a generational thing, or just a perceptual thing, but it has become clear that I tend to view the world through a different lens. In some cases, there will never be a middle ground because I just don't see it.

Differences can be wonderful; after all, diversity is the spice of life. However, strong differences in opinion can lead one into trouble, if one is not careful. And trouble seems to follow me wherever I go.

A final note - one thing I've noticed quite often just makes me want to bang my head against that proverbial brick wall. There seems to be a tremendous amount of splitting hairs out there, and that happens to be a form of twisted logic I simply cannot abide.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Death: It's Finally Happened

More proof (and here) that retail can be deadly work.

They finally did it, those bastards! Those disgustingly rowdy, obnoxiously nasty Black Friday shoppers killed a poor Wal-Mart worker. The wretched rabble broke down the door and trampled the worker underfoot like a herd of stampeding steers. And then they just went on shopping as if nothing happened, as if the tragedy unfolding before their eyes meant absolutely nothing to them.

Let me tell you something - those few dollars an hour were not worth dying for. Wal-Mart and the other retailers should be handing out hazard pay!

Having seen some of it first-hand when I worked in retail years ago, and having heard plenty of horror stories when my wife was a retail manager, I'm surprised it took this long. The wild feeding-frenzy Black Friday produces amongst certain rabid shoppers was always a disaster waiting to happen. Now it has.

And writing is supposed to be as terrible as retail? Sorry Charlie, I just don't buy it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful For...

This year has been a bit rough. The budget has been very tight now that my daughter is going to college, and I've suffered some wild ups-and-downs on the publication front. And the general economic situation is a bit worrisome, especially since we live on basically one income. It will take a lot more work and luck to get a decent income out of my writing and art, if I ever do. And then there have been a few rather minor health problems that have troubled me greatly, like my wrist issues. At times, I worry that these problems will derail my nascent art career.

However, I am thankful for my family. My wife and daughter have been very supportive of my creative endeavours, and both soldier through the rougher times better than I do. And my daughter is proving that home-schooling worked, that she was more than prepared to start college.

I am thankful for my poetry and my art. My poetry has done better than I ever hoped it would. And I've gotten a few pieces of art out there, too. I've even got plenty of art on various pieces of merchandise in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store. The calendar is especially cool.

I am also thankful for the friends I've made over the past year or so. Some of my writer, poet, and artist friends probably have more faith in my skills and abilities than I do. It's nice to know that some people actually appreciate my creative works. Actually, it's a wonderful feeling. Dare I say I even have some fans out there?

So, thanks to all my friends! Now I have to get cooking a turkey. Just a small Butterball turkey roast, so it won't take that long to cook.

Cheers!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Monsters in My Life

Fell beasts
haunt dreamless nights
filled with curses and pain,
coming not from Hell, but from a
bottle.

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Coming from a family of abusive alcoholics, I have experience with the pain and anguish alcoholism can cause even the innocent to suffer. This poem reaches into the darker regions of my childhood and young adulthood, touching on personal anguish and pain that still lingers even today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Mock You With My Poetry: A Poem By a Poetry Snob

Here is a work from a nasty, unrepentant poetry snob. Keep in mind, I'm not speaking in my own voice, I'm speaking in the voice of my imaginary haughty elitist. In the past, I've actually been called a poetaster and a wannabe, so take this more as cautionary verse rather than a reflection of my own feelings and beliefs. Personally, I would rather help other poets achieve great things than tear them down. Always take care when you criticize the creative works of others, or you may just sound like I. E. Loquence. And I hope nobody would want to sound like him (or her - I. E. doesn't have to be a man):


I Mock You With My Poetry

by I. E. Loquence

I mock you, pathetic poetaster,
With my own superior verse.
Your damnable doggerel
And sadly stilted stanzas
Pain my poet's ears.

I mock you, wretched wannabe,
With pointed words
And sharper wit.
I cut your work to ribbons
And laugh at the mess.

I mock you, false bard,
Purveyor of indifference,
Meretricious minstrel,
Seller of languid lines
And cheap tricks.

Away, foul prostitute!
Take your pedestrian works
And hawk them elsewhere.
Your pale glimmer fades
Beneath my mighty shadow.

THE END
(of your dismal dregs,
not my fine libations)

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

A Wow Moment

Usually, I'm my worst critic when it comes to my own work. I'm so bad at judging the quality of my artwork, finding non-existent microscopic flaws, that my daughter says I have "artorexia". Things aren't much better for me on the poetry front. I constantly worry that my verse isn't really poetic enough, that it doesn't have enough emotion, and that it exhibits poor structure.

A strange thing happened the other night, and one that probably won't happen again any time soon. No sooner did I lie down in bed then I had sudden midnight inspiration. Arising from potential slumber, I made my way downstairs to jot down my idea.

The fact that I dragged myself out of bed isn't the strange part of the story. I do that all the time. The strange part came a bit later.

A few lines became a few stanzas, which then became a completed poem. Once completed, I quietly read the piece to myself and thought "wow, this is actually pretty darned good". It seemed to flow very smoothly. It seemed to stir the emotions, working on an emotional level. And, it seemed quite "poetic".

Of course, now I have to find out if editors feel the same about this particular work. I worry that I might be jinxing my chances of seeing this one published any time soon. However, I truly feel that it isn't so much of matter of if as a matter of when. I feel confident enough in the power of this particular piece to say that it will find a home, eventually.

It's a different place to be. Maybe I am finally developing some confidence in my creative abilities.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Promotional Illustration

I was asked by Crystalwizard of Cyberwizard Productions to come up with an illustration based on a poem by David C. Kopaska-Merkel to use on material promoting his forthcoming collaboration with Kendall Evans, Nightship to Never. It took me a couple of tries to create something that matched David's intended imagery (blasted misinterpreted metaphors!), but with modifications to my original drawing I eventually came up with something that met with his approval. It was a mildly frustrating process, but all's well that ends well. And thank goodness for digital manipulation!

So, my illustration should appear alongside David's poem on materials Crystalwizard will be using to publicize the release of Nightship to Never. And no, you can't see it just yet! You will just have to wait until Crystalwizard gets around to promoting the book.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blasted Ear Infections!

One of the quirks of my existence is the fact that I am strangely susceptible to otitis media. I tend to suffer from frequent ear infections; something that is more typically a children's problem than an adult one. A doctor once told me it may be due to an idiosyncrasy in my anatomy. My Eustachian tubes may not have developed from a horizontal orientation to a more vertical one like they normally do when children mature into adults. Or maybe my tubes are just too narrow.

Up until a couple of days ago, I actually went several months without ear problems. Unfortunately, my daughter brought a cold home from college. And I caught it. So, here we go again! My nasal passages stuffed up, my left middle ear plugged up, the left side of my face puffed up, and my ear and face became tender and sore.

After suffering recurring ear infections for years, I've discovered most tend to be viral. So rest and time are the only things that will make the infection go away. In most instances, antibiotics are unnecessary. And I don't believe in the unnecessary use of antibiotics. I would rather not help produce super-bugs, thank you very much!

Well, at least I have plenty of books to read. And I might watch a little television, and do some crossword puzzles. It could almost be a nice mini-vacation if I wasn't ill. The general malaise and sore ear kind of ruin the pleasant aspect.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two Poems Accepted at APHELION

I received word that my speculative cinquain "Two-Dimensional Visitors" and my speculative haiku "stark ebon tower" will be appearing in forthcoming issues of Aphelion. One will be in the December 2008 issue, and the other will be in the February 2009 issue. I don't really know yet which one will appear in which month's issue, and it doesn't really matter. As long as they get published, I'll be happy.


Actually, this was one of the fastest acceptances I've ever received. I send one poem at 3:14 PM and the other at 3:21 PM today, and received the e-mail from Aphelion's poetry editor at 4:57 PM. I guess I sent them at just the right time.

Rollin', rollin', rollin'... (Of course, the roll may come to an end in this coming January, but I'm not too worried if it does. And you never know, I may yet have something scheduled for publication in January.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Life is the Life

My winning poem "Life is the Life" is now on-line in Issue 4.5 of The Monsters Next Door. Congrats to all the other winners. Way to go!

Check out all the winning entries at The Monsters Next Door Contest Issue 4.5.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cinquain Published in APHELION

My speculative cinquain "They've Come For Me Again" has been published in the November 2008 issue of Aphelion. Check it out!

Poem on Schedule at Bewildering Stories

My poem "Peg Powler", inspired by the lore about a water-demon said to lurk in the River Tees, is scheduled for future publication in the e-zine Bewildering Stories. The managing editor commented that it is not a poem one would want to see on a riverbank sign!

This is actually my second poem entitled "Peg Powler". There is another that I posted on a forum or two written from Peg's perspective. The one set to appear in Bewildering Stories is written from the perspective of a nursemaid or parent warning children to stay away from the river, using the character of Peg Powler to scare little lads and lasses in traditional nursery-bogie style.

By the way, here's a reminder to check out my cinquain "Autumnal Woodland Morn" at Every Day Poets. If you haven't already done so, please rate it, and perhaps leave a comment.

Thanks!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Autumnal Woodland Morn" in EVERY DAY POETS

My cinquain "Autumnal Woodland Morn" is now on-line at Every Day Poets here. This is one of my rare forays into mainstream poetry, although I think my speculative roots still show. I'm very proud of my word choice in this particular poem. Everything came together just right.

Go check it out! And please rate my poem. And if you like, while you are casting your vote, please leave a comment as well. I would love to hear what you think of my little cinquain that could.

Thanks!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ahead of the Curve

Apparently, my wife and I were ahead of the curve when it came to calling an end to home school when my daughter turned sixteen, and instead sending her to college full-time. Check out the story I just saw on Yahoo News about New Hampshire's plans to allow tenth graders to graduate and go on to college here.

I obviously thought my kid was ready to graduate after tenth grade. And based on her stellar performance in college so far (four As and a B on her recent mid-term report), I was right.

A Threat to Marriage?

According to the opponents of gay marriage, allowing homosexuals to marry would be a threat to the institution of marriage. Have they looked around lately?

People who marry simply for the big party are much more a threat to the institution of marriage than homosexual couples wanting the same rights as heterosexual couples. People who readily accept the concept of "starter wives" are also a threat to marriage. People who divorce at the drop of a hat, after the first hint of problems, are a much bigger threat to marriage than homosexual couples. And perhaps the biggest threat to marriage as an institution comes from those people who have multiple children out of wedlock with various alleged dads.

The institution of marriage means nothing to some people, and it isn't due to gays and lesbians wanting the same rights as married heterosexuals! Marriage has already been devalued and threatened by other general societal trends. Marriage has been under siege for years.

On my side of the family, there were more "broken homes" than intact ones. A couple of my relatives had been divorced twice-over. Most (including my own parents) had been divorced at least once. There was even a lack of value in the marriages that lasted, legally if not emotionally. My grandmother refused to divorce my abusive, drunkard grandfather even when he lived with his mistress for fifteen years, and supposedly sired at least one bastard child.

I always love the irony of those who claim to be the true defenders of family values. Are they blind to the things I see? Some supposed families I know personally are quite lacking in any sort of real family values.

I see no threat to my eighteen year marriage from others looking for the same rights my wife and I already have, as long as those rights come with responsibilities. As a matter of fact, I support the idea of granting homosexual couples the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual ones. Of course, I would also love to see more straight people put more value on the sanctity of marriage.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not Meant to Give a Poetry Reading

I am starting to think that I was never meant to give a poetry reading. That may be one part of the whole poetic experience I will never personally experience.

A while back, I had sent an e-mail to a local coffee house that hosts quite a few art-related events. I was hoping to set up a poetry reading at some point down the line. They replied only with a form e-mail, so I figured I would just attend one of their open mics before I actually went the next step and gave their booking person a call.

On their web site and in flyers on the tables, the coffee house in question claims they have an open mic session the first Thursday of every month. Well, today is the first Thursday of November, so I was all ready to read tonight. Lo and behold! They don't have an open mic tonight.

Bummer!

I understand that there could be a host of reasons why they aren't holding an open mic tonight, including schedule conflicts, but I am still disappointed. It's putting me back into recluse mode. I want to say the heck with the whole idea!

It would be nice to potentially get a little local recognition, but I'm not sure it's really worth it. For living in such a cosmopolitan area, it's proving bloody difficult to find the right time and place for a local poetry reading. I may have to wait until my collection is out, and then see if I can schedule something at one of the local independent bookstores. Even the local Barnes & Noble frequently has book signings by local authors.

Or maybe I'll just sit home and read to my dog and cats! Wuff, meow, wuff! (How do you say "eldritch" in dog?)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

History Before My Eyes

Last night, I saw history being made right before my eyes. The United States elected it's first African-American president. This is indeed an awe-inspiring historic moment, and a barrier-shattering precedent. However, it does make me think of all the other amazing moments of recent history.

Obviously, important events become unforgettable moments in history all the time. And yet, I feel as if I've witnessed (through the wonders of television and then the internet) more than my fair share of "instant history".

I watched the television screen as the space shuttle first took off into history. The day of the Challenger explosion, I viewed the constant replays of that terrible tragedy over, and over, and over again. I saw another tragedy unfold as I watched the coverage of Columbia's doomed re-entry. I witnessed the end of Concorde as Air France Flight 4590 crashed.

I remember the Big 80s, Reaganomics, "Star Wars", Iran-Contra, and the "Evil Empire". I recall the time a woman ran for vice-president on the Mondale-Ferraro ticket. I also remember when Poland became free once more. I recall the day the Berlin wall came down. I saw the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the "Evil Empire", and the failure of the coup that tried to bring it back.

I watched the drama of the impeachment of President Clinton over his criminal dishonesty regarding the Monica Lewinsky affair, only the second impeachment of a president in US history. I can't help but to remember the messy 2000 presidential election, and its outcome. And I definitely recall the day my wife walked in the door unexpectedly and told me the Twin Towers had collapsed. I will never forget the empty skies of a usually busy air traffic hub as all commercial and private planes were grounded. That day I knew the world had changed forever.

These truly are amazing times. Some of the events of recent history have been heartening, while others have been heart-breaking, but all have been incredible to behold. Awe-inspiring indeed!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Niteblade Art Blog Featuring Ciaran Collins

The first installment of the Niteblade Art Blog is now on-line here. In this inaugural art blog I feature the work of an aspiring illustrator from Northern Ireland, Ciaran Collins. I like how Ciaran's art is light-hearted and yet darkly atmospheric. It reminds me of the sort of stuff I adored when I was a kid. Heck, I'm still rather fond of the cute-and-creepy style.

Check it out!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bunch 'O Brags

I have lots of stuff out, or coming out, this month. My poems "Chupa-Chupas" and "Midnight Encounter on Merais Minor", along with my article "Vampiric UFOs", appear in Issue 7 of Hungur. Two of my illustrations appear in the November Issue of Abandoned Towers (print version). "Unicorn Enwreathed" accompanies the story "Minkus, the Masterful Magic-Mender" by Hannah Steenbock, and "The Professor Speaks" accompanies the story "The Mentor and the Apprentice" by Aaron French.

And that's not all for November! I've got more due out later this month. I will have a poem coming out in Every Day Poets on November 9th, and my contest-winning poem will appear in the special edition of The Monsters Next Door on November 15th. I'll post links when they're on-line.

And the roll rolls on...

Contest Winner

My poem "Life is the Life" won in the poetry category of The Monsters Next Door "Through My Eyes" Contest. I'm very pleased by this news. Actually, I'm ecstatic.

This is my first contest win. Wahoo!

The winning entries, including my poem, will be featured in a special half-issue (issue 4.5) of The Monsters Next Door, due out November 15th. I'll post a link to my winning poem when it's on-line.

November is proving to be a very good month. More on that later.