Today was originally known as Armistice Day, a day to commemorate the end of World War I and the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany. The fighting stopped at eleven o’clock in the morning on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Some 20 million people died during WWI. I am also a six year veteran of the seagoing US Navy, so I am honored to pay tribute to the people who take up arms in defense of the United States on this date, but my time in the military rendered me a pacifist addicted to reading, so in my mind, today remains a tribute to peace.
Also on this date, slave Nathaniel “Nat” Turner was hanged in 1831. Turner was guilty of inciting and leading a slave rebellion in Virginia.
And on this date in 1867 Four anarchist labor acivists were executed in Chicago for inciting the “Haymaker” riot.
And I’ll be damned, I’ve put my story Vespers on the shelf once again. It is complete in text and audio, but as a whole, the piece does not yet satisfy. At the same time, I wrote and produced audio of a story I’ve titled The Price of Ursula’s Candy in two days. My faithful readers have already given typically excellent feedback, and I am making final revisons today. This piece is 1075 words and written in the Shirley Jackson form of short short story. I hope to submit audio and text to a pair of literary magazines on Monday.
Long ago when I was a janitor at the Winter Park Ski resort, during my workday, I carried five index cards and a pencil. Writing in tiny letter on the tops of trash cans, I tried to establish and resolve a conflict in the space of five cards. That season I wrote twenty four stories. I know the exact number because I was recently reunited with the pile of cards. A friend was nice enough to store them and lots of other stuff for the past dozen years; so one of the short shorts from Winter Park I am now rewriting under the provisional working title of Mountain Delight.
And yesterday I purchased a book I have long missed, The Book of Forms by Lewis Turco. I loved the book and activity of writing rhyming poems so much, I took Professor Turco’s class on prosody at Oswego State College where he used to teach. Along with all the index cards and other stuff stored in Colorado was a journal I kept for writing poetry back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For a couple years while I taught high school English in upstate New York, I wrote scores of poems in ancient rhyming forms. Poems about pot luck dinners and my wood stove and love and all things close and small, an exercise not to make me a poet but to put me in better touch with the accentual and syllabic qualities of the language and how they work together to enhance meaning. But in a moment of enthusiastic weakness I let a student borrow the book and I never saw an edition of it again until yesterday. I plan to write after dinner and have already identified a few forms to warm up … a two line barzeletta about ice skating … a four line ancient Welsh awdl gywydd about my motorcycle … I am excited to write poems about the pets and neighbors, once again, all things small and close, insider poems only my wife or friends may understand … occasional poems. Because I have no intention of ever submitting any of them for publication, I may occasionally bore you with one or two here. Who knows … I may record a few …