The Shape of Emptiness, Regina O’Melveny

41tWo62lerLFrom end of life to hope in life, O’Melveny’s collection (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2019) explores the hardships and loss of one generation to the hopes placed in another. At the core, the speaker dealing with the loss of a long-absent father, the death of a mother, the buoyancy in her relationship with her own husband and daughter.

“Grazia’s Teeth” explores a grandmother’s handling of a child’s baby teeth collected and hammered into the grooved wood of a door, likened to “tiny shells, / pearl mushrooms in gray wood, / or half-moons that rise…” In the end, the speaker reflects how her own daughter “…still has teeth / to lose and lives by magic.”

This cyclical, lyrical read will, at times, leave you breathless. From her poem, “Three breaths”

one breath to take
the measure of things
and one breath to carry
down into the yielding
lungs of the sea – a bell
of breath, a lantern of air.

It leaves me to contemplate not only the magic we encounter when brushing up against the wild of the natural world, but the magic we carry within.

Poppy Road Review

Thank you to Editor Sandy Benitez of Poppy Road Review for running “In the Park” on this fine first of September.  It’s the perfect way to initiate a change into autumn, especially after a night of music on the dock at the net mending shelter and a knockout display of aurora borealis.

From Poppy Road Review’s website:

Poppy Road Review is a literary journal featuring free verse poetry, haiku, flash fiction, and occasional interviews with poets.  Journey with us on the road to poems that linger and haunt–discover poems of enchantment, fantasy, fairy tale, dreams, dystopian, flora & fauna, magical realism, romance, and anything located deep in-between the cracks.  

Poppy Road Review

Every Ravening Thing, Marsha De LA O

40945105This is a book that will take up residence on my “keeper” shelf. From cover (bright and wild) to titles (intriguing) to memorable verse, Every Ravening Thing is a read that I’m happy to have taken a chance on. Consider some of this sampling of titles: “Poem for the parched,” “Star Pine” and “Space-time Tsunami.” The poetry is well-crafted and fresh, rife with imagery. The final poem, in perfect placement within the collection, is breathtaking. “To the Grandmothers” includes the epigraph, “Chernobyl, thirty years later” and contemplates the wild space abandoned by disaster and the “Old women with side gardens and jars / of moonshine alone in empty villages…” Each poem included here offers the reader and moment of surprise, if not more. Well worth the read!

Coffee Poems

Thank you to Editor Lorraine Healy or World Enough Writers for including my little tribute to coffee, “Dutch Fry Baby” and “Too Many Reasons Not to Go Home” in Coffee Poems:  Reflections on Life with Coffee.  Lorraine sums up the intent of the publication perfectly in her forward:

What struck me most as I read the submissions for this anthology was the sheer amount of new vocabulary which accompanied that old plain staple of the cafe or the diner, the cup of coffee.  Cell phones and their cameras, roasters, vegan cake, baristas, soy lattes, drive-through windows, macchiato, McDonald’s, Apple Pay.  Maxwell and Folgers turned into Starbucks ubiquity, coffee-pots that wake before us and offer that first hot hit of the day.  As a child moved from the bottle to milky cafe con leech, as a native of a city so imbued by coffee that index and thumb two inches apart signals espresso, it made me wonder about this new age of coffee arabica

227 pages of poetry devoted to coffee?  Yes, please!

World Enough Writers, CoffeePoemsCoffee Poems 2019

Porkbelly Press/Sugared Water No. 6: Cartography

Thank you to Poetry Editor Ashley Blake for including “Katie’s Cabin” in this handbound publication, Cartography.  Inside, a plethora of directional, wayfaring writings.  I love their note just inside a page or two:

If we could candy words, we’d eat them to bellyaches every afternoon.  We carry journals and collect chapbooks like Smaug ripping through a gold-sequin disco.  If we’re lucky enough to leave something behind that enriches the dialogue of writerly types around the world, so much the better.  Send us your stuff — we’ll only hoard it for a little while.


Whiskey Island Magazine

Whiskey Island Magazine is a literary magazine published by Cleveland State University. It is a biannual publication.  While I’ve never been to Cleveland, or really the surrounding area for that matter, I do love the description of place featured on the magazine’s homepage:

It is currently the site of a salt mine, the largest marina on the great lakes, and the last refuge of the Cleveland-invented, industry revolutionizing Hulett Ore Unloaders: city landmarks on their way toward extinction, see 1 or 2. A rich mythology of bootlegging on the island has been unavoidable, along with eponymous burgers at various area restaurants and an array of empty Canadian beer cans.

Whiskey Island (the land mass) is actually a peninsula and can be found at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. A distillery was built there in 1836, hence its name. The island has suffered multiple incarnations: it has been a dump, a US Coast Guard Station, a ship graveyard, and a predominantly Irish immigrant shanty town.

The journal has proven to be the perfect match for a poem I penned last summer for my traveling friend, Karen, titled “Men Who Serve You Coffee.”  Thank you to the editors of Whiskey Island Magazine for giving this one a home.

Lost and Found: Tales of Things Gone Missing

Much gratitude to Editor Terri Karsten for publishing two of my poems, “No Plot of Earth for Me” and “Top of the World Highway” in the anthology Lost and Found:  Tales of Things Gone Missing by Wagonbridge Press (Check out their Facebook page).  The work of 57 writers is gathered here, a healthy balance of prose and poetry.  Terri Karsten held a Facebook launch of the anthology, a great use of social media and opportunity for contributors and interested parties alike to share their thoughts on the collection and writing in general.    The anthology promises to be an engaging summer read!

Cirque Vol 10, No. 1

Cirque is a journal committed to publishing the work of writers and artists from the North Pacific Rim.  That’s the formal description.  The more personal description is that twice a year it offers a reunion among writerly friends among its pages.  I have come to submit with intention work that I think long and hard about, that I revise over and again, because I know that when the final journal arrives in my mailbox, I’ll see in its table of contents mentors, UA faculty, peers, friends, current or former students, writers from Blue Canoe, etc.  There is always a familiar name and Cirque offers a window through which to see what folks have been up to in their writing pursuits.  If you click on the link, you, too, may recognize many familiar names, especially if you dig Alaska writers.

Long live this beautiful publication.  Its editors Mike Burwell and Sandy Kleven gift it with such vision. I thank them for publishing my poem, “Hygge and Sisu in 3 Parts.” My hard copy is scheduled to arrive Saturday and you bet I’m tracking it three times a day in hopes it may land early.

Heather Lende’s Find the Good

Goodreads Review


Loved it! Second only to Lende’s If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name. I actually bought this book four years ago during her book visit to Sitka. At the time I also bought copies for my mom and mother-in-law. Why it’s taken me so long to read? Don’t know, but I devoured it yesterday. I especially enjoyed the essays, “Be Sure Your Dog Walks You,” “Take the Kind of Happiness That Comes Your Way” and “Make It Shine.” The last is about Hilma, a woman I came to befriend during the summer I worked at the Halsingland Hotel in 1994. In fact, I so enjoyed this last essay, that I ran down to Old Harbor Books to pick up a copy for a friend who also knew Hilma that same summer. I think like many Southeast Alaska towns, Haines is very divided. The experience of living in these little towns can be quite individualized and personal. I wonder if Lende’s experience on the local assembly has in any way changed her views of living in Haines and look forward to her next book, whatever it might be. Such a unique walk in such a town – author of obituaries. Such an eye for what matters. I quite enjoyed this read.