Print: Wednesday’s Workshop

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Print, Printing, and Prints
Wednesday Workshop

Tuesday evening’s Gents Night Out started with John and I, on our own, and after our usual jovial salutations, we talked about putting things into print.

Print

John visited me last week and guided me through the placing of Monkey Temple on CreateSpace at Amazon. Then, when it was up, he talked me through the placing of the same text on Kindle. Now both are available online. He has read Monkey Temple and was kind enough to give it an online review (and a 5 star rating). He tells me it is his favorite among my books. Julie Gordon, another good friend from an online writing course we shared, has also read Monkey Temple, and she gave it another 5 star review, so it is doing well. Only one poem from Monkey Temple has appeared on this blog, Monkey’s FAQs. With it already in print, I may add an occasional poem to the blog, but I will not run through the whole text.

Though Lovers Be lost is also available on Amazon. John’s teaching was good, as I told him in our conversation, and I put TLBL up on my own. However, it is not yet available on Kindle, but it will be available soon. Now, Though Lovers Be Lost has appeared here on the blog in toto, so, if you, dear reader, have followed the blog and would like to contribute a review online … well, I would be very grateful.

Printing

I am just tidying up The Empress of Island and that manuscript, together with the flash fiction of Bistro, should go up on Amazon very soon. Two separate books, I should hasten to add. Again, with the amount of text from both that I have posted on this blog, if you have followed them, then please consider posting a review.

John himself is preparing yet another novel for publishing. We discussed the timeline and the structure of this novel, his twentieth, or twenty-first. He is trying to schedule gaps in the text of five years and ten years and is working out a plan to have all the characters age over those time spaces, not an easy task, as you can imagine, but then, John is a very good novelist. He gave me a signed copy of his novel, The Caroline, available online at Ex Libris, and Clare and I will be reading that, one after the other, if not together. You can find John on Amazon at John K. Sutherland, incidentally. You can find me most easily under my name and the book title: Roger Moore: Monkey Temple … that gets me every time. If you just type in my name, there is more 007 material than even James Bond and 100 secretaries could account for, all paid On Her Majesty’s Most Secret Service.

Prints

 A knock at the window of The Second Cup, right behind me: John points over my shoulder, it is Kevin, come late, with the most attractive … now, you really don’t know what I am going to say next, although you think you do, … nine week old Habanese puppy in his arms. Of course, she can’t come in, so we go out to greet her. What a darling … I refused to touch her. Puppies are catching and I don’t want to catch one: too much bending and house training at my advanced and creaky age. If I can’t tie up my shoelaces, I can’t clean up after a poo-pee — that’s the French for a puppy, la poupée, oh no, my mistake, a poupée is a little doll — just what Kevin’s puppy is.

Kevin left the dog in the car — in the shade, windows down to give air circulation, cool evening — John and I lectured him — he didn’t need the lecture –. and we discussed Kevin’s week. Things are going well and he is juggling work, writing — he is finishing his first manuscript and has a contract — wow! — I look forward to giving news of the publication of his book on a future Wednesday Workshop — and he’s also working on a new and very secret PROJECT — about which we can say nothing except ssssh!

Footprints

Kevin didn’t want to leave the poo-pee in the car for too long, especially since she was fond of climbing her way into the driving seat — remember Clyde? — oh no, not another Clyde! — and so we all soon made footprints. Alas, Chuck’s were covered with dust and sand and we didn’t see him this week. He is busy with a building project and also with his fourth novel — The Underwater Road — for which he, too, has a contract. His other novels are doing well. I have only read Steal It All … but I must say that Chuck Bowie is a master of mystery and intrigue, as I said on my online review.

So, this Wednesday’s Workshop is a potpourri: lots of announcements, friendships, changes in momentum, new editions, and new additions, and not so much literary criticism and theoretical musings. Ah well, life’s often like that.

See you all next Wednesday!

A question and an answer

Question: I am curious if you’ve ever had any of your short stories/poetry published in any lit. mag? I’m wondering because I am travelling down that publishing avenue and looking for advice when pitching to literary magazines. Although the general consensus seems to be that it’s a wholly tough market to get into!
Tales from the Trunkhttps://trunktalessite.wordpress.com/

Answer: I have published about 135 poems in literary magazines, mainly in Canada. This happened mainly in the ’80’s and ’90’s when the market was probably a little bit easier to break into. I have also published 14 or 15 short stories (and won some awards and honorable mentions, same with poetry, too, incidentally).  It seems to me that there are two distinct ways to go: (1) Submit, submit, submit: paper your walls with reject slips, keep going, keep improving, no matter what, don’t give up, ever. You must be stubborn and believe that your work is worth continuing with and BETTER than what those who are rejecting you think it is. Mind you: listen to them, keep reading, check your markets, revise your work in accordance to what editors think (if they make suggestions), and, above all, be as stubborn as a mule or worse. I did that for years and then I started to take route #2: (2) Go Indie and publish your own work. With route #1 behind me, I knew who I was and what I was writing. If other people didn’t like it, that was their problem. Sure: I am a Welshman, writing in English, in Canada, about Spain, Mexico, and Wales … duh … so, as they keep telling me, it’s just not marketable. Why not write about the Maple Trees turning red and Maple syrup … duh … going Indie led me into two further directions. (A) I published my own collections, paid for them myself and, in a fit of pique, gave them away free to my friends, “because my poetry is too precious to sell for money”! NB I had a full time job and could afford to do this. (B) I am now publishing via CreateSpace (Amazon.com). This is for free and easy to do. There are other options out there. Some ask you for cash up front …. I wouldn’t pay for their services. Others are free and excellent. I also recommend Smashwords or is it Wordsmash? Anyway, it’s also free and you can control where your books go and what they do. I chose Amazon because I had a persuasive friend who talked me through the process. If you have someone who can talk you through the process, any process, of publishing online, that helps. If you have a writing group THAT IS HONEST WITH YOUR WORK — that is essential. You must have some reliable readers who can step up and say: “No, that is not up to your usual standard” or “No, you can do better than this.”Good luck and best wishes, and yes, if I can answer your questions and help, I most certainly will.

Empress: A Survivor Contemplates

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A Survivor Contemplates
the Crucifix on the Point
Ste. Luce-sur-mer

Christ of the Rocks
hanging here on the point
from the crucifix
with your open eyes:

do you see, out at sea,
where gray waves cover
the graveyard of the Empress,
at rest, her passengers,
caressed beneath shallow waters.

They have gone on before me,
those friends I numbered,
their piercing eyes
lie covered now.

Splayed toes:
last night’s footprints
erased by wind-blown
dust and sand.

 Dry crunch of skull and skeleton
crushed underfoot by sea boots
ascending, descending
the beach’s gentle slope.

Unknown,
these lands around me:
emitte lucem tuam /
send forth Thy light!

 Unexplored,
these mountains that surround me:
ipsa me deduxerunt /
such things have led me on.

 Unsolved,
these mysteries that confound me:
in montem sanctum tuum /
unto Thy holy hill …
in nomine Patris /
… in the name of the Father.

 I wander from grave to grave,
reading the headstones:
quare me repulisti? /
why hast Thou cast me off?

Coarse grass weaves bindweed
with columbines combining.

Incessant mourning of glove grey
morning doves,
drawing tears from dawn’s face:
quare tristis incedo? /
why do I go sorrowful?

 Verdant stems,
unsophisticated flowers,
weeds dark between stark
granite stones.

 Names!
Whose names?
My long lost brothers’ names,
Eric, Phillip, Peter,
not yet carved in stone:

 non in tabernacula tua /
not yet in Thy tabernacle.

 This churchyard,
will it always be
as steady as a headland
even in a storm?

 Here, the terrestrial
centre is stable:
quare tristis es, anima mea? /
why art thou sad, oh my soul?

 The ark on the waters
moves from side to side,
lulled by the sea waves,
up and down.

 On the altar,
a gilded chalice,far from the far flung
malice of the sea:
quare conturbas me? /
why dost thou disquiet me?

Empress: Graveyard on the Point

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Graveyard on the Point:
A Survivor Remembers his Catechism
Ste. Luce-sur-mer

The survivor at the cross roads,
wreathed in his personal storm:

et discerne causam meam /
… and distinguish my cause

de gente non sancta… /
from the unholy nation.

Rising waves:
bells on buoys
peal out sea warnings.

Tonight there is a grief across the grève.

Sa griffe / his claw,
ma griffe / my claw
homophonic puns

scratching at reality’s surface,
hiding inner meanings,
leaving the depths unplumbed.

Did he really paint
the reality of the shipwreck,
this Magritte?

 Cette pipe, qui n’est pas une pipe! /
This pipe which isn’t a pipe!

Mi grito que no es un grito! /
My cry which isn’t a cry!

Cette vie qui n’est plus une vie!
This life which is no longer a life!

This littoral bay
no longer a literal bay.

ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me /
from the unjust and deceitful man deliver me.

Over bird frosted rocks,
a ring billed gull cries out whose name
on its early journey to greet pale stars?

 On the beach at the cross’s foot,
a grey robed pilgrim

stands in dusk’s failing light.

et introibo ad altare Dei:
ad Deum, qui laetificat juventutem meam
/

and I will go unto the altar of God:
to God, who giveth joy to my youth.

Mouettes, göelands muets:
sea gulls, silent sea gulls:
white arrows shot over sea wet sand.

He stands solemn before this graven stone
waiting to be blessed:

 sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper /
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be …

The eider duck sigh for their siblings,
tossed from the crèche and lost
in the long low swirl of the sea.

Empress: A Survivor Lights a Candle

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A Survivor Lights a Candle
During the Latin Mass for the Dead
Before the Main Altar
at the Sanctuaire Sainte-Anne
Pointe-au-Père

I am afraid of fire:

 in principio erat verbum /
in the beginning was the word.

 I am afraid of the loud voice of the match
scratching its sudden flare,

narrowing my pupils,
enlarging the whites of my eyes:

 et lux in tenebris lucet /
and light shines in darkness.

Booming and blooming,
igniting the soul’s dark night.

Voice of fire:

et Deus erat verbum /
and the Word was God.

 Flourishing to nourishment,
flames whispering on the flood:

omnia per ipsum facta sunt /
all things were made by Him.

Wool and water,
this sodden safety blanket;
and what of the cold plush

of the pliant teddy bear,
the staring eyes of the doll:

et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt /
and the darkness comprehended it not.

The lashes of their eyes
bound together with salt water,

they were doused in a silken mist:

hic venit in testimonium /
this served as a witness.

 Still the patterns pierce my sleep,
hauling me from my opaque dreams,

holding my wrists in this sailor’s double clasp:

 non erat ille lux /
he was not the light.

Oh! Curse these dumb waters rising!

“Not a hair on your head
shall be harmed!” he said,
hauling my sister up by her hair

only to find her staring eyes
belonging to the already dead:

et mundus eam non cognovit /
and the world knew her not.

Night waters rising.

The moon raising
its pale thin lantern glow:

et vidimus gloriam ejus /
and we saw His glory

 shining forth
upon the waters’
mirrored face.

Dark Night of the Empress

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Dark Night of the Empress

 Her cooled lights drowning now,
fires subsiding, dying under rising waters.

Grit and river-bottom clog the dream:
eyes and mouths wide open, faces blurred.

 Seaweed: mermaid’s hair
drifting slowly before the eyes;

the cold tide sucking in at ankle and heel,
pulling them down.

 Celluloid fictions,
black and white films,
their mouths stretched in a silent scream.

What became of the photographers,
of the men and women who stood their ground
clicking their cameras in unison
as the ship went down?

News!
The air breaks apart:
delirious with dots and devious dashes.

 The lighthouse light goes round and round.

It points a finger of silence at the collier
looming silent through the mist.

What price the black pearl in the oyster?

 What price the nightmare,
cleanly wrapped in transparent plastic,
desperate fingers tearing the see-through
fabric from the face?

 Salt water dashed on mouth and lips,
this dream:
sharp bows, wet rocks, and a tugging tide.

Toys and boys and dolls and girls
and men and women,
their bodies disgorged untidily,
their useless limbs
flopping at the sea’s foamed edge.

 Last night,
mist shredded itself on the sea-cradled headland.

This morning, the spring tide is a gentle hand
erasing life’s autographs from the witnessing sand.

Silence after the storm:

a pocket full of posies
gathered into a dreamless sleep

they have all fallen down ….

Empress of Ireland

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Photo: Museum and Monument to the Empress of Ireland, Pointe-au Père, PQ.

M Press of Ire

 Background and Dedication

The poems that have come together to form the M Press of Ire were begun in Ste. Luce-sur-mer, Quebec, in May 2002.

It was off shore from Ste. Luce, in the early hours of the morning of the 29th of May, 1914, that the Empress of Ireland collided with a Norwegian collier whose bows had been strengthened for ice-breaking. There were approximately 15 minutes between the moment of impact (1:55 am) and the moment the ship caught on fire and sank (2:10 am). Although the disaster has received little international attention, more passengers were lost in this incident (840) than in the loss of the Titanic (832) or of the Lusitania (791).

I read these poems, for the first time, at the University of St. Thomas at Houston, Texas. The Virginia Tech shootings took place on Monday, 16 April, 2007, and I read these poems on Wednesday, 18, April, 2007, while memorial services were taking place on university campuses all over North America. I dedicated that reading to the victims and survivors of the shootings. I now re-dedicate these words to all those who have been touched by sudden loss, shock, and / or grief, and especially to those who have suffered loss under extraordinary circumstances.

Introduction

I first heard those voices in the cries of the sea birds on the beach at Ste. Luce.

Borne on the wind, over the sigh of the waves, they seemed high-pitched, like the voices of children, or of men and women in distress. These were lost voices, the cries of people alone and frightened by the dark. I heard them calling to me.

That night, there were knocks at my cabin door and finger nails scratched at my window. Tiny sounds, almost beyond the range of human hearing: the snuffling of puppies when they turn over in their sleep and tug at each other, whimpering in their dreams.

“Who’s there?”

I started from my sleep. But there was only the wind and the waves as the tide’s footsteps climbed a moonbeam path to ascend the beach. When I walked on the sand next day, at low tide, there was a whispering behind my back. Little voices crying to be set free.

“Who’s there?”

A lone gull flew past my head and battered itself against the wind’s cage with outraged sturdy wings. That night, the mist descended. The church stepped in and out of its darkness and shadows gathered, persistent, at my door.

I walked out into the night and I saw a lone heron mobbed by gulls. It was as if an adult, surrounded by clamoring children, was standing guard over the beach. Then I saw the shadows of little children searching for their parents, the shapes of mothers and fathers looking for their off-spring, lost in the tide mark, among the seaweed and the grains of sand.

Beyond them, on the headland, the church stood tall above the shadows. I saw family survivors, their lips moving in supplication, kneeling before the granite cross that stands above the sea. As I approached, they turned to me, opened their mouths, mouthed silent words, then disappeared.

When I went back to bed, faces and voices visited me in my dreams. When I got up next morning, they came to me in the speech of birds hidden in the foliage, in the words dropped by the osprey’s wing, in the click of the crab’s claw as he dug himself deeper into the sand.

“Release us! Speak for us! Set us free!”

The words of the Empress of Ireland are not my words. They could never be my words. Foundered words, they are, rescued from the beach, and dragged from the high tide mark filled with its sea weed, carapace, charred wood, old rusted iron, and bright bone of long dead creatures polished by the relentless action of wind, sea, and sand.

Monkey FAQs

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I have a busy day today, so a brief post: two poems. The first, Monkey FAQs, comes from Monkey Temple, a book of poems now (or soon to be) available at Amazon. I am also working on preparing the text of Though Lovers Be Lost for publishing, again at Amazon. My thanks go out to all who commented on these poems and thus assisted me in revising them for publication. So, a busy day.

Monkey FAQs
(with apologies to all those who draw them up
at their work place, knowing they will never be read)

“What news from the ark?”

“Only the dark waves pounding the hull, the wet winds blowing.”

“Who placed the whale ribs on this mountain
and called them a cathedral?”

“Sunshine blossoms through hollow vaults and shadows shimmer.
The day is striped across my back
and I bear its weight like a beast of burden.”

“When the anvil rings out, will the armorers appear?”

“When I snatched a blade of grass, its fine glass sliced my finger.
Yet, when I grasped the nettle, its swan-song perished in sunlight.”

 “Who will forge chains for sun and moon?

“The peregrine falcon slices my eye in two and I am a mole,
blind with a weather’s wind.”

“Who will carve a cell door for errant stars?”

“I snuffle round the tightness of the temple clock:
its legion of Roman numerals marches to the beat
of a dull, dry pendulum.”

“Why are there no birds in last year’s nests?”

“The ox tongue sandwich on which I snack
talks back to the lettuce and salt clogs the tomato.”

“Why are you avoiding these questions?”

“Speak up: the wind is high. I can no longer hear you.”

April Fools

When we were young
we used to wake up
at night and
come
together.

Now we are old,
we wake up
at night and
go
together.