Ashtabula

I’ve never heard of Canadian folk singer David Francey before yesterday but apparently he has heard of my boyhood hometown of Ashtabula, as he sings about it in this lovely song of his.

I also learned yesterday that his tour will bring him to my Southern Pennsylvania manhood hometown in October. How cool is that?

Very.

davidfrancey.com

 
 

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When the Witch of November Comes Early

It’s hard to believe that it has been forty years since the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a fact still memorable to so many, I’m sure, only because of Gordon Lightfoot’s beautifully haunting ballad about it.

Maybe it’s because I have always been so close to the water, both physically and spiritually – I am from a state with a name that translates into English as “providential river;” I am from a Lake Erie coastal town with a name that translates into English as “the river of many fish;” my elementary school mascot was a dolphin; my junior high school mascot was a raider; my high school mascot was a mariner; my college mascot was a terrapin; and I worked at a marina before joining the navy and becoming a sailor for life – that this tragedy, and especially this song about it, has meant, and always will mean, so much to me.
 


 

I know I’m getting old but I cannot help thinking how much of a simpler, more thoughtful time it was back then (the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon not withstanding)…

But can you imagine, in this all-things-perishable day and age, someone penning such a well-received, enduringly beautiful song for the El Faro, the cargo ship that just sunk during Hurricane Joaquin?

Yeah… me neither.

 
 

Haiku You, Haiku Me – A Newsletter Love Contest of Sort Selection and Guest Author Presentation

Icy white mountain
Snowflakes gust to azure sky-
singing flock of doves.

As announced in Newsletter Love 004-15, this visually beautiful and flowing haiku is our selection for what came to be known as the inaugural (which suggests there may be more) Newsletter Love Haiku Challenge, formally entitled Haiku You, Haiku Me ~ A Contest of Sort.

Our contest of sort had seven participants, each submitting their work in an effort to fulfill the spirit of the contest, which was to “write a haiku that focuses on the temporal nature of all things material.” This challenge was met effortlessly by all the participants, their haiku transcendent and unique each in their own special way.

While all participants easily met the spirit of the challenge, Shmatala, Esq. with her visually beautiful and flowing haiku was able to conjure within me “that same sense of connection to the Elements, to the Earth, to the Universe, as I [feel] when I walk my country roads during the cold, when the snow swirls across the fields like tornadoes in miniature and with the sky so blue in its surreality. And I hear those same singing doves come spring. It is in both the morning and the evening that their song of mourning calls.” Consequently, it is her haiku I was compelled to select.

There is so much I would like to say about each haiku entry, but, as I am eager to introduce Shmatala, Esq. and her moving essay, I will simply say to all participants, thank you from the bottom of my heart. What joy and inspiration you all have brought to our little salon-like space of a newsletter full of love, and to me.


Shmatala, Esq. is a self-described quintessential Canadian, who over the past decade has went from Halifax to Vancouver and, now, back to her hometown of Montreal. She is a lawyer by profession but had to give it up for the time being to care for her father – and his business, which is in the “rag” trade or “shmata” in Yiddish. As is evidenced by her website’s powerful and socially aware haiku and other poetic reflections, we take her completely at her word when she tells us that “I am doing my darndest to bring some light into this world any way I can.”

It is my pleasure to present to you more of the flowing power and grace with which Shmatala, Esq. is lighting up our world.
 

SUBLIMATION
Shmatala, Esq.

All things are temporary. Eventually we will loose everything: all the immovable and movable property that we collect, everyone we know, and ourselves. The only certainty is change but many, on a fool’s errand, try to resist or avoid change in pursuit of certainty. We try to convince ourselves that we have some form of permanence by collecting as much as possible, imagining that our existence will extend if only we collect enough money, notoriety or Facebook friends. We hold on to everything tightly, convinced that we can control everything and some how guide change (or maybe stop it altogether) through our stuff. Ironically, ceasing to change is, literally, to cease to exist.

We can see this struggle in our political landscape. We so fear the flow of change that we have managed to keep the same people in power, the wealth in the same pockets, and the poor, mentally ill and destitute in their place and generally out of sight. We do not trust that tomorrow will still come, that there will be more (at this point, we have enough resources on the planet so that everyone can eat and become educated), but we are afraid to pull the trigger, afraid of loosing, afraid of what’s next and that we might be left behind.

Existence in a cycle of sequential endings and beginnings: Constant change. One thing must end to give rise to the next. Winter turns to Spring, the solid mountains of snow and ice will melt into the earth, nourishing new seeds. Shorter days will become longer, new life will come. One period must end for the next to begin. At the end, when we cast off our physical forms, we will all fly away, singing our freedom, cascading over a cold morning sky, redeemed: a flock of singing doves.
 

Please visit with and follow Shmatala, Esq. at
writofrags.com

 
 

THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA – The Big Reveal!

In my view, it’s always pretty awesome around here, especially since we kicked off the Indie Author Book Selection & Review and Relating to Humans features a while back. But this week has been especially awesome. For this week we have witnessed the original thinking, compelling insight, and unique writing style of Indie Author Paul Xylinides with his essays TOTAL WAR OR TOTAL PEACE, a Relating to Humans Political Issues contribution, and Covered in Fish Oil and Honey while Sitting in a Public Toilet, his Guest Author contribution.

And it’s quite obvious to me, and empirically so, that you all think Paul’s essays are pretty awesome, too, judging by all the “Likes” you’ve given them, and the interesting comments you’ve left in response, and, especially, by all the page views they’ve received.

I must say, I wholeheartedly concur with your assessment.

Now, admittedly, I have an occasional tendency toward hyperbole, but you can take me at my word that, after reading Paul’s interesting essays, I was very excited to receive his book THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA, the IABS&R Volume 2 selection.

And so, it is with great pleasure that I present and proudly reveal to you Paul’s donation to me, his book THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA.
Continue reading “THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA – The Big Reveal!”

In Honor of All who Serve in Defense of Freedom & Liberty

On Sunday, the fam and I visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

It’s a beautiful place.

Spiritual.

Haunting.

Usually when we go there it’s almost always on a whim, a spur of the moment thing.

As if its spirit overcomes us and compels us to visit.

But on Sunday, we wanted to go knowing that Veteran’s Day was forthcoming.

And we wanted to put ourselves in the presence of the most honorable of veterans.

True heroes fighting for the truest of causes.

But we also went knowing that it wasn’t just a reflection for today, the day my country honors all who serve and have served in defense of Freedom & Liberty.

We went knowing that Sunday was Remembrance Day. A day which our good friends in the United Kingdom reserve for reflecting on the sacrifices of their heroes.

During my years of service, I was fortunate enough, honored, to be able to serve closely with many fine soldiers and sailors, veterans in defense of Freedom & Liberty, from the United Kingdom. I made many good friends.

I also served closely with those from Canada, Australia, Japan, and other countries. I made many more good friends.

I am a lucky old sailor who is honored to have served with such honorable men and women from all over this fine yet feisty planet of ours…

It’s not much, but to honor all veterans around the globe who serve in defense of Freedom & Liberty, I offer my novel THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR and LEAVE: A SHORT STORY to all for free. The novel will be available for free until Midnight tonight (PST) and the short story will be available until Midnight tomorrow night (PST).

Those in the United States can get their copies here

All others around the world can get theirs here

And you can always find a free selection of stories right here

PEACE …through superior fire power