Thursday, February 7, 2013

"John T. Williams" Essay Published in Raven Chronicles!

Hi Everyone,

My essay about my experience with the John T. Williams shooting in Seattle is out now, available in the current publication of Raven Chronicles.  The theme of the issue is "Sense of Place."  The publication can be purchased directly from them online or, in the Seattle area, from bookstores such as Elliott Bay.  Here is an excerpt from my essay.  I hope you enjoy it and purchase this wonderful publication that supports local authors.

Excerpt from "Memorial: For John T. Williams"

A body lay on the sidewalk, out of place, in the way of their taping like a wetland in the middle of prime real estate.  Policemen traipsed around it, quick to redirect traffic.  “What happened I asked?”  The woman with the window office answered e-mails while relaying what she’d seen.  “It looked like he was sitting against the wall,” she thumbed over her shoulder, “Then there was a scuffle and he was on the ground.” 
Buildings like mine loomed on all sides, with people behind tinted glass looking down.  That street corner became the center of the universe.  The people in my office worried about how they’d get home.  One of them was parked in that lot.  I didn’t see any reporters.  It had just happened.  I decided to e-mail the news stations to let them know.  But, of course they already knew.  They wanted an eye witness.  “Did you see what happened?”  No, I said, just what my coworker saw.  They called me anyway, and told me to wait on the line, then I was on the radio, patched through to the sound of a helicopter where I heard my name followed by the words: eye witness.  “What happened?”
I told them, “He was sitting against the wall of the lot.  The cops showed up, there was a fight where the police rushed him, and then he was on the ground.”  The reporter described the scene, unable to verify this “wall” I mentioned.  I wanted to say, “He was sitting on the sidewalk.  The wall is only two feet high,” but they said Thank You and I was back with someone in the newsroom verifying the spelling of my name. 
Cop cars flashed, parked sideways at the ends of the two crossing streets to keep traffic out.  The body still hadn’t been moved.  An ambulance hadn’t arrived.  Spectators gathered on the opposite corner with cameras as the frenzy to find out what happened plugged the airwaves.  Online, madly typed reports splashed across the screen, every five minutes a new one was rewritten and posted with ever-inflating evidence based on further and further speculation.  There was one shot, there were five, the man attacked the cop, he was crossing the street, he was sitting down, he had a knife.  Like ripped bank notes, pieces flew through the air as we tried to tape them back together with nothing but our tongues.  I saw a man on the ground.  He was given a wide berth.
This park I frequent is hidden from my workplace, in an urban neighborhood where I know none of my coworkers will come.  The homeless happily populate a section of the park as if they’re under a contract to stay in that area.  The police are a rarity, letting them be.  The rest of the park is utilized by children in the playground.  People play Frisbee in the large central grassy ring during their lunch, sometimes soccer, sometimes yoga.  People bring their dogs, others lay out and nap or read books or study.  I sit at a table by the playground with my lunch, unable to eat.  It’s early yet.  The lunch crowd hasn’t begun to filter in.  I wanted to take the flier off the telephone pole and keep it with me, because I can’t forget the face that looks back at me from the brightly colored flier, the background blue and red, his photo done up in black and white.  There’s a laundry list of organizations rallying this Thursday to march from that corner to City Hall just around the corner to urge for accountability.  By now the reports have stabilized with the information that the man was a local Native wood carver, often drunk, primarily homeless, deaf in one ear, shot to death by an officer who told him to put his knife away.  Wood carving knives are legal on the streets of Seattle one article is quick to note.  His name was John T. Williams.  He sold small wooden totems to stores like Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront.
Through a small v-shaped opening in the foliage to my left I can see a man, curly tendrils of white hair sticking out from a grubby black baseball cap and worn black jeans, skin red and blanched like algae, standing with a crutch.  The seagulls have continued to circle past my head, but they’re not eyeballing my food.  They’re swarming the pieces of bread he has in his plastic bag.  He watches them circle, commenting to his friend who I cannot see that these seagulls aren’t very fat.  He dumps the bag out, giving it a good shake, smiling as he watches the seagulls swoop to the ground.  He puts his crutch under his arm and moves off as they squabble over the biggest pieces.  I leave, my lunch still in its bag. 
When Thursday comes, I block out my calendar between two and four. From the window, I can see people have already gathered. I leave the print job I’m doing and walk out. In my pocket, I feel the lighter and the little tea candle inside the votive holder. The sky is gray and threatening more rain. Drums have started.  Candles are lit and more flowers have been piled atop the cracking white-painted cement of the wall where he’d been sitting. People have left apples, and a slice of apple pie. I move to the center of the parking lot, the one the police circled with yellow tape.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Love Poetry (Fails) has moved to Tumblr

I think Tumblr has a better home for Love Poetry (Fails) - also, people can submit their own easier that way.  So if you've been a fan of Love Poetry (Fails) you can go to the new site that is all about just Love Poetry (Fails) at:

Thanks for tuning in!


Friday, August 17, 2012

"The Boxer (Woof)" by Guest Failed Love Poet, Melanie Harding

This week's installment comes from a guest poet and friend, Melanie Harding, who suggested that others might just have some failed love poems to contribute here and indeed she is right.  And, since this is Week 3 (relatively speaking), it's probably high time I explain what exactly is a Failed Love Poem, if it isn't painfully obvious already. 

Definition: A Failed Love Poem is a poem that one metes out in the darkest of hours, in the night, to express one's exultation for that special someone and in so doing, doesn't quite hit the mark - either undershooting or overreaching, or performing a reach around and coming up short.  If your heart's desire were to read your lofty stanzas of bequeathed adoration and the first two words that come to mind are, Restraining and Order, then you my friend are a Failed Love Poet.  If your soliloquies about how synonymous your lover's skin is to algae, their finger tips like spores only results in inciting vomitous explosions, then you are indeed a Failed Love Poet.  We write because our hearts cannot speak, and unfortunately, our minds are too plugged with dopamine (or other substances) to pen a Yeats-like homage to Love and thus we make do with our poor plumpy-fingered-misguided-snaggle-toothed inner beast that is yearning for communion with another lost soul we desperately hope is out there!

And speaking of snaggle-toothed, I would like to present this week's Failed Love Poem #3:

The Boxer (Woof) by Melanie Harding

While I watched,
dogs fought
without thought.
Their teeth sunk deep
in a primal embrace.
I long to hold you this way.
I need someone like you:
Ever ready to tear me open
with no desire to lick at my wounds.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Love Poem (Fail #2) - Pyro Dreams

For the longest time
All I ever wanted to do
Was make a break for it
Follow you toward the Exit sign
Out the fire doors
Hand in hand –

But I lost you
Somewhere in the building
Maybe between the 10th and
6th floors – I think

I heard your shoes
Running so fast
And the emergency alarms ringing
Like they were saying
This is a portent
Of our wedding day.

And in that moment,
Gasoline in hand,
I knew our future
Would be bright.

*I'd forgotten I hadn't written a follow-up to the previous Love Poem (Fail #1). I think this may become a weekly poetical spit bag.  I can make a one-poem weekly commitment.  And, because I found this next photo so amusing whilst searching for the perfect photo to accompany this poem, I had to share this one done by techate over at deviantart

Monday, March 26, 2012

Steal This Love Poem: Fail #1

I was in the dentist's chair this afternoon when I started thinking about these two characters discussing how they finally got together.  One says to the other:

I thought you were weird -
at first, but then:

You grew on me
Like mold

But a sweet pink mold,
Or would that be mildew?
Like black mold
Infecting my lungs
So I can't get rid of you
Ever -

No matter what I take
You'll always be with me

Eating your way toward my heart

If you're lucky dear reader (I think there's at least one of you), I'll write more terrible love poems in the future! :)

Friday, February 24, 2012