It is not about me…

I was, I noticed, seeing my writing for the very first time, looking foolish and feeling sad.

5 Overused words in Fiction, an article by by Kelsie Engen, posted by A Writer’s Path, which I encourage you to read.

Show and Tell

A writer can tell a story or show it. One example, Kelsie Engen gives is:

E.g.  “Tom felt so sad.”

E.g. “Tom’s eyes brimmed with tears, his chest jerking up and down as he fought to control his sob.”

Example 1 is telling. Example 2 is showing.



Let it snow

Oz lives in a city where the winter snow falls rarely.

The temperature may dip into the teens for days, the ponds and lakes may freeze, but the snow does not seem to want to come this far, to this place, leaving its snowy white blanket on the Colorado mountains, or the plains of Nebraska and the Dakotas. The trees here, naked and open to the elements, shiver in the wind. Older now, Oz knows the cold is hard on the body. It stings the face, the ice that forms on the sidewalks and roads is an ever present hazard, a fear of a fall and a broken leg or arm.


Oz recalls younger days, other places where the snow showered the land and blanketed the earth. When snow flurries swirled about. Oz stood in a snow globe world. It was a lovely thing.

Certainly, for the reason that school was cancelled, but also because it transformed the land into a wonderland. There was sledding, snowball fights, building snowman, and the general beauty of seeing a familiar world transformed into an unfamiliar one. When a snowball in the face sweetly stung. When frostbitten hands and feet were ignored as long as one could stand the pain. When falling off a sled was a source of amusement to one and all.

Let it snow. The father or mother of the child knows, that at the end of the day, the child will sleep.

On a more serious note, one recalls standing in the snow alone watching the flakes floating like feathers to earth. A child lifts his or her head to the sky, opens his or her mouth, and goes about the task of catching a flake upon the tongue, experiencing the momentary thrill of the cold before the flake transforms into water.

Let it snow again, a child remembers simple things.

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and dead.” James Joyce’s The Dead.


all theory is gray

Oz is sipping his coffee and watching the sun rise in the east. In the matter of a few minutes, the color of the sky, first inky black turns to crimson red, then orange and yellow and blue.

Oz was thinking of gray, the color the sky was all of yesterday. Then, it was, that Oz chanced to come across a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, from Faust: First Part.

“All theory is gray, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.”

Goethe was German and wrote the two lines as one:

“Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.”
Faust 1, Studierzimmer. (Mephistopheles)

Language and grammar, and the human capacity for understanding restrict our ability to experience thoughts and images. Alas, it is what it is, it is what it seems, and therefore “gray” as Goethe remarks.

Weeks earlier, Oz came across an obscure piece of writing about the weather, gray skies, and how we perceive the same day differently. It was written in 1906. Little can be found about the author, Susan Hanna, other than that she was business manager of the magazine, The Mount Holyoke. One must assume the magazine is associated with the college Mount Holyoke in South Hadley, Massachusetts, the oldest of the Seven Sisters, the female counter part to the Ivy League schools.

The world is the “same old place” my dear friend and here are Susan’s thoughts:

“Yesterday was dark and cold and dreary. The sky was gray, the snow was white; the trees black against the gray and white. The wind came around the corners with an angry cry, and whipped the dry bushes, and swept the snow across the path. The world was angry, it knew not why. It was tired of the ceaseless tossing and motion; tired of being the same old world forever.

Today is different. There is the same white snow, the same sky, and the same trees. But today is not yesterday; for the wind swirls the snow in a circling dance; it draws the bushes and twigs out from their hiding places. It bends the trees in rollicking laughter at the very joy of living, – of being the same old world, in the same old way.

Today is not yesterday, but why is today, today?”

Today the sun rises in the east to chase the gray away. The sky at night was inky black. At morn it turn to crimson red, then orange and yellow, now blue.


To those who love to walk and talk


An auto is a helpful thing;
The way it goes, the way it comes;
It saves me many a dreary mile,
It brings me quickly to the smile
Of those at home, and every day
It adds unto my time for play.

But more than this I love to walk
Beside a friend and talk
Of things that matter not
To anyone else but us
And if we have little to say
Holding hands will quite suffice

For this is the way the world really is
To those who love to walk and talk

Thanks Edgar Guest for many lines and many thoughts, whose rhymes I ought to write myself, but found it simpler to share.


cars and trucks in Glacier National Park

the mist

The mist is rising off the lake, ghostly white
The sky is the palest blue, the softest pink,
The mist becomes clouds of lavender floating just beyond my touch
Through the trees, the sun is dawning, the night fades, and it is morn
And I descend the path to the lake, as the birds begin to wake
And I feel a peace within me, knowing the world is still asleep
For the moment this place is mine, and mine alone
If one does not include my crowded thoughts


Those who were close to him called him Paul. French poet Ambroise Paul Toussaint Jules Valéry, (1871-1945) said,” A poem is never finished just abandoned.” I suppose that is true, that we are never really happy with the result. It is only weariness or time that moves on to the next thought. Perhaps I shall return as Robert Frost suggested, perhaps not.

Bring in the wine

Oz had a glass of wine, which got him thinking about the Oscars, translation, understanding, and Chinese poetry.

Go figure.

Lost in Translation, one of my favorite movies, written and directed by Sofia Coppola. Insert Oscar shout out here for female writer-directors. The 2003 Indie movie stars Bill Murray as an aging actor Bob Harris, who befriends college graduate Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in a Tokyo hotel. The romantic comedy-drama plays out on many levels while the couple film a Japanese whiskey commercial.

Bring in the Wine, eighth century Chinese poet, Cen Can (aka Cen Shen and Cen Jiuzhou) commiseration about getting old and getting drunk with old friends. The Chinese characters are 將進酒 Jiāng Jìn Jiǔ, which must have been a mouthful if one was already drunk. Kind of like saying, “rubber baby buggy bumpers,” which makes no sense, but it is still fun to say.

You know, we are not so different, Japanese, American, Chinese, then and now… A little whiskey, some wine makes it easier to get along. And the hell with getting lost.

You can check out my translation here.


Ineluctable vs inevitable

When it comes to word comparisons, it is inevitable that I come to this ineluctable conclusion, sometimes something is superfluously said.

adjective: ineluctable

unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.
“the ineluctable facts of history”

adjective: inevitable

certain to happen; unavoidable.
“war was inevitable”
synonyms: unavoidable, inescapable, inexorable, ineluctable;
More: assured, certain, sure, fixed;
fated, destined, predestined, predetermined, unpreventable;

“at this point, war is inevitable”

so frequently experienced or seen that it is completely predictable.
“the inevitable letter from the bank”

noun: inevitable

a situation that is unavoidable.

Look if you dare


To the men who work the docks, coal shovelers, hucksters, women who work for a day, sell newspapers at the ferries, or work in the factories, every child in the alley who does what one can for a penny from the time one could walk.

To the men at their clubs, to the women who shop, to those that dine without a thought of the cost.

Look if you dare
Look at the life of a wage-earner
Where life is lived
The needs so evident, the value of words not at all
Action expresses the heart perfectly
The baby with brother or sister
Each dependent on the other
The child finds that in a morsel of bread weariness
A father or mother in words unspoken
Knows the sadness
And still make
Their ease and their comfort and even their sleep
To provide a home
And what is more important
To nourish the soul

Inspired by author Lillian William Betts, who wrote books and articles about life in the tenements at the turn of the 20th century. The Leaven in a Great City is one such book.


Slumber wrapt


To me in slumber wrapt, a dream divine, ambrosial night Morpheus conveyed to my lips by golden cup, more beautiful than Aurora’s light at dawn when the darkest night turns to the softest blue before the sky glows bright like a summer peach, I slumber still, in peace, with dreams more real than reality.