I’ve occasionally tried to explain this to people, and failed. My friend Tracy Ewans–at From The Laundry Room– succeeds.

Originally posted on From the Laundry Room:

I am a writer.

When asked, upon meeting someone new, “What do you do?” these four words are tough for me.  Lately, I’ve been wondering why.

“I am a writer,” sounds silly, whimsical, not quite, “I’m a circus performer,” but close.  They are fine words, even great, when I am in front of my computer, or when I close my eyes at night and wonder what the hell I’m doing.  I tell myself, “I am a writer.”  It’s what I do, but it doesn’t seem to ring glorious and confident out in the world, the real word.

The declaration, “I’m a writer,” is often met with, “Ah…” or “Really!?”

See?  Sort of the circus performer or the ballerina response.

After the initial surprise, the next step is what I call The Legitimizer.  People need to know if I am really a writer, a legitimate writer, and that always revolves around…you guessed it.


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I Get My One Phone Call Three Times

Yowza! Talk about your quick turnovers! Less than a week after submitting work to Your One Phone Call, I receive an email advising me that they’ll publish all three pieces submitted. I almost fell off my chair.

I sent them “Empties” (a poem about alcoholic siblings), “Appraisal” (aging), and “Breathless.”  Not the most upbeat topics, I suppose but, hey, there’s more to life than limericks and pop tunes, eh? 

Not sure yet what order they’ll go up in, but they’re scheduled for June 18th, July 2nd, and July 16th.  Don’t worry, I will be back to remind you.

Meanwhile, they post new stuff every day.  You should check them out: 

 Your One Phone Call.




News Guy tells us that in trendy Stowe,
in April, the local sugarhouses open up,
invite the public for sugar-on-snow, served up
with freshly home-made donuts and cider
and a pickle on the side to cut the sweetness;
and then there’s champagne and chardonnay
while the locals provide the entertainment:
madrigals on hand-made dulcimers and harps.

But over here in the Northeast Kingdom
we do things a little differently. Oh, there’s
sugar-on-snow with cider and donuts, and
pickles on the side, but later in the day
we know how to get the party started:
someone always breaks out the boom box,
and we pass around the whiskey jug.

Beth You Do Not Frighten Me…

Beth You Do Not Frighten Me
As Almost All The Others Almost Always Frighten Me

nor freeze me into lockjaw
drive me inward and away
nor staple my gaze to floorboards

soft your eyes draw me out
untie my tongue, unglue me

nor do I constantly think, near you:
perhaps I should not say
perhaps it’s this that I should do
perhaps say this and not do that
nor stop to think, nor rush to think
what is the why of this or which the way

tell me about the first green car you ever owned
and all the passengers it ever carried
and its many destinations
and I’ll be one of them and glad
and I shall make us into poetry

Monday. October-hearted I am
out the door and down the steps alone

sleep sleep coffee sleep wait remember hope

Thank You Very Much, Mr. Ferlinghetti

Today is Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s 96th birthday.  If you’re unaware of exactly who Lawrence Ferlinghetti is, you can read all about him here.

I pretty much owe my birth as a poet–oh, so many years ago–to my first encounter with Mr. Ferlinghetti’s work (specifically his book A Coney Island Of The Mind) when I was still just a high schoolboy. 

Here’s my poem, Grace, which was published almost a year ago in Clapboard House.


Thank you, father, for all that hash when I was
just a high schoolboy;  and for all those girls,
their cute little pink feet and silver toe rings
up on the dashboard, Stones on the radio,
calico dresses in the wind, tanned legs, hot
nights, warm flesh, and all those summer
sunstruck mornings waking up with no idea
whose house I was in, whose bed,
and not a second’s thought about how it’s
only Tuesday, smoky and unknowable.
Thanks for the moon reflected in windshield
raindrops, and for midnight mushrooms,
Day-Glo under blacklight, mescaline boogie,
acid rock,  and acid.
……………………………But mostly thank you
for ’68: Danny Riley and his floral necktie
finishing up his student teaching,
smiling and handing me books, saying
Oh man, you should read some Ginsberg, or 
Brautigan, maybe.  No; here, I got it.
For you, Ferlinghetti.