Call for Submissions

Well, I wouldn’t have seen this coming back in the 2014 when Word Fountain, a lit mag for a library more than an hour away, across Penn’s Woods, accepted two of my poems for what I later thought would be their last issue. But here I am now, working as a branch manager for the library and finding myself in the serendipitous position of leading a team of editors into bringing the project back! And while it’s a local, small lit magazine we are looking for diversity in writers, and that includes geographic diversity. So, you might consider clicking on the link to check out our guidelines and see how you can submit.

Word Fountain

1225151548The long hiatus has ended, and a new editing staff is working toward a spring relaunch of Word Fountain, the Literary Magazine of the Osterhout Free Library!

We invite emerging and established writers to send us fresh stories, poems, flash fiction, essays, brief memoirs, and other short pieces. Our submission deadline is April 1st, 2016.

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‘From the Womb to the Tomb’ – at last a title. Now to get writing…

Early 19th C Apothecary and apprentice

How cool is this? My dear ol’ blogging/poetry buddy, Suzie Grogan is writing another book, and her publishers actually liked my idea for a title! Now if only a publisher would like one of my chapbook titles enough to get a collection printed!


But seriously, check out Suzie’s blog, where you’ll learn a lot about the intersection of the arts and mental health, as well as the art of persistence when it comes to the work of writing. Oh, and of course, you’ll find a lot of Keats!

Read the blogger formerly known as KeatsBabe: ‘From the Womb to the Tomb’ – at last a title. Now to get writing…

Skiing, Surfing, Journal Searching, and Jennifer Bullis

Jennifer-Bullis_sq-672x372So, since our gathering here to sing “Auld Lang Syne,” I’ve been working on one of the chapbook manuscripts. Last night I sent that out, after editing and paring it down from 20 to 16 more solid poems in a better order. That’s two chapbooks out there circling the contest world, and one more in the works. That’s good, Self. Very good. Keep at it.

Also good is the fact that I’ve been working on some new writing. I can’t say I’ve actually finished any new poems, but I have several new lines and stanzas that I am chasing around my notebook pages, hoping to see some things come together.

So I haven’t submitted to any journals in the last couple of months, and I figured I should be doing more research to that end. I’ve liked Cider Press Review when I checked it out in the past, so I returned to it last night and serendipitously found a poem there written by my poet-blogging buddy Jennifer Bullis–How delightful! Good job Cider Press Review. I approve.

Click here to go to Cider Press Review, where you can imagine “Skiing” with Jennifer.


Auld Lang Syne, the Original Words and Tune

English: Ellisland Farm Robert Burns,(1759-96)...

Ellisland Farm. Robert Burns,(1759-96) farmed here from 1788 until 1791 where he composed, “Auld Lang Syne.”(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How is this for a Flashback Friday? Happy 2016, my friends. If you sang this song just after midnight last night, my guess is that you didn’t sing all the original words (though if you did, I want to know–that’s fantastic!), nor did you sing them to the original tune.

I’m not sure about the details of how and when this changed, and I am too busy relaxing today to look it up. If you care to do the research, please give me some sources in the comments. I’d love to read more about it (later).

But this lazy first day of 2016, in which I rest with coffee, leftovers, notebooks, and music, I wanted to share this lovely version, sung by Paolo Nutini. I love the harmony, and the multiple instruments involved. I’m not sure if the video was made to look old  or if it was just poor picture quality (something else I am too lazy to look into just now), because Nutini is rather a new-ish voice, since he was born about the time I graduated high school.

By all accounts this is the original tune that Robert Burns used when he turned this old poem into the beautiful song lyrics we sing each year. has a nice write-up including the original words, and Grammarly features a pretty fair modern translation.

It’s been a hard year, and a good one both, each for many a reason. But here’s to making 2016 a year of peace, of joy, and of achieving our dreams. Let’s get to work, shall we?

Christmas Songs, Spongebob–and a Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

I’ve been going back over some of the holiday posts I’ve made on this blog since I started it back in 2008. What follows here is an adaptation of one from two years ago, that is worth coming back to. Besides it sort of ties into the one a couple of days ago about not asking a certain questioncropped-cropped-2005christmas019.jpg

Avoiding that question is just another way to be kind and aware of the needs of those around you.  Though it is probably asked with the best intentions anyway, out of a sincere desire to just make conversation and show interest in others, it so often backfires because it highlights the guilt and misery many are apt to feel for not living up to what they feel is expected of them.  Is this being overly sensitive? Maybe.

But this is about making some deliberate decisions to be kinder this season. We really do create some unrealistic standards for ourselves as well as others. And while I don’t wish to pile on more guilt, I have to ask, how does that tendency toward high expectations help bring about peace and goodwill? Granted, we should practice kindness whatever the calendar says, but there is a unique pressure that is often felt this time of the year. The desire to create a Christmas that is like “a picture print from Currier and Ives,” is often accompanied, or followed by, feelings of depression for failing to do so.

Christmas isn’t supposed to be stressful. Having been in our new home for exactly two months as of today, I keep reminding myself of that fact. “Who cares that the place isn’t a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. You don’t even like Norman Rockwell anyway!” Maybe it stems from just wanting to create those warm feelings that I had with mom thirty years ago, when we put on some Nat King Cole and Burl Ives, and proceeded to sip hot chocolate with all the lights off except the ones on the tree.

Nothing wrong with that. But where do you find time for that in the unrealistic pace that we have set for ourselves over the holidays? Just like the covers of magazines that make us feel we need to have beach-ready bodies by May, or at least be appropriately disappointed in  ourselves for not trying, the pictures of holiday perfection need to be tempered with the reality of peace and love. Peace means loving yourself too, cutting yourself and others some slack. And that unconditional love we often talk about involves accepting and loving the skin that we’re in too.

Below is a video of a song from Spongebob Squarepants that my sons and I have been singing each season for years. I think it’s still needed.

And then for contrast the same subject is covered in a more serious manner from poet Naomi Shihab Nye in her piece, “Kindness.” It’s not a Christmas poem, but maybe it should be.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Kindness”
from Words Under the Words:
Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995
by Naomi Shihab Nye.