Popcorn thoughts of kindness

I’ve been doing a bunch of bits and pieces of things over the past week, I feel very scattered. I haven’t really had time to sit down and write much. This is OK. Life happens. I do have a lot on my mind these days.

I had some blogworthy tidbits I wanted to jot down, but they were not worthy of single posts…kind of like kernels of popcorn that presented themselves.

National Poetry Writing Month is just around the corner. I last participated in 2013 (I think). I proudly completed the entire month for the first time. Well, I’m committing to do it again in 2015. It’s a good way to stretch your poetry legs, gets some things written down, try new forms, and shake out the dust. If you are a poet, and are participating, let me know. So we’ll see how this goes.

A reminder, my very first chapter book Accidental Songs is available on Amazon. I self-published this collection. I invite you to check it out, purchase it :)

Spring is getting its claws in the seasonal change, judging from the number of robins that I’ve seen recently, the rapid changes in weather that are apparent, and my allergies ramping up. I’m looking forward to the green landscape though.

I happened to read this quote in my twitter feed this week,

“We’re all smart, distinguish yourself by being kind.”

This was posted in a twitter account entitled “ShitAcademicsSay”. I don’t know the origin of the quote, and have been looking for it’s primary source. The original context apparently has to do with academic publishing and review, but I see it as a more universal restatement of the golden rule. I like it.

I heard Nat King Cole’s version of Smile a few weeks ago. The music by Charlie Chaplin, John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954. It was a mantra for a few days in the bleakness of winter. I love how a verse, a song, a quote, or even a picture can present a moment of beauty and relief.

That’s it. Popcorn’s done.

If it weren’t for poetry

If it weren’t for poetry
I think I might sleep better
and disregard those dreams
that alliterate the night,
and ride around looking –
looking for new vistas in the dark.

If it weren’t for poetry
I could just look at
red glass bottles and ignore
what hides behind
the refracting light.

If it weren’t for poetry
I might walk on the cool
morning grass, but never
look up to see the sun.

If it weren’t for poetry
words would never project
what I dream or see.

If it weren’t for poetry
I would not awaken.

If it weren’t for poetry.

sevens

Stop and hear the hornpipe and jig
as the springtime rolls in, pushes away
winter’s white cloak.
It draws the living from their depth
to click heels – stomping the last
of the chill- pointing to summer’s thrill
as it leaps and bounces and reels.

**************
Something for the emergence of spring, also in keeping with the recent St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

A Study in Charlotte -3 Cinquains

Charlotte,
prickling leaves while
her reclining posture
whispers an invitation, told
of truth.

The wind
awaits her voice
that mocks despair, her tree
ruffles yet remains quiet, and
steadfast.

Damsel,
in blue gingham
by angel’s wings she sings –
broken, igniting fierceness,
she mends.

***********

Some observations about this poem. I’ve never personally known or physically met anyone named Charlotte. I follow a couple of blogs and have read several other blogs this week written by women named Charlotte. It’s coincidental, yet fascinating to me that so many Charlottes present their writing on blogs that I should read in one week. I love the sounds the name makes. It’s a name made to be whispered.

And here we go….

For a few months now, I’ve been been collecting and reviewing, editing and reviewing, fretting and stewing, anxiously awaiting reviewing. I’ve been putting together my first collection of poetry. It is a chapter book that is my first attempt at widespread publication, entitled Accidental Songs.

It was both exhilarating and frustrating. The selection process for poems in a collection lays bare all the insecurities that I had in writing them in the first place. I believe that some of them are great poems, some of them are not that great. Some had to be cut altogether, others were recut and reformed into something that fit the overall idea for the collection. But as the sum of the whole, I think they all contribute something to the collection, and that was what I wanted.

I want to thank Sarah Wesson and Sherry O’keefe for their time and valuable comments during the manuscript review.

And I want to thank my wife for being the incredible supportive spouse she is. Thanks babe.

Of course, I invite you to visit Amazon.com and have a look for yourself. I’m proud that I could accomplish this effort. If you should choose to purchase a copy, Thanks!

Accidental Songs
Accidental Songs

Incongruence, or How to Make a Salad

It was Friday.

A cold snowy day. My wife was home from work, sick with a cold and I was the dutiful caregiver – supplying her with ice cold drinks and extra blankets.

We decided that we wanted salads for lunch. My wife’s favorite salad is a Sante Fe style salad, with chicken, lots of crunchy tortilla strips and usually ranch dressing.

Luckily, I had cooked half of a package of chicken tenders two nights before (when I made a chicken pot pie), but seasoned with a homemade taco seasoning – comprised of chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, red pepper and cumin. These days, I am intrigued by the opportunity to play with the spices we have in our cabinet. Sure, it is more difficult than just using a packaged taco seasoning, but it appeals to the scientist in me.

Anyway, I had cooked those chicken tenders on Wednesday night. They were looking for something useful to do. I cut them into small chunks, and set them aside.

I pulled out a bag of Romaine lettuce. Now, you may ask, why didn’t you use a whole head of lettuce? Fewer things in the kitchen bore me more than chopping and cleaning a head of lettuce. This is interesting, because I will prep and cut onion, peppers, tomatoes, squash, cucumber…even carrots, just about any vegetable. Lettuce bores me.

I poured the precut salad mix into a bowl and inspected it for undesirable components, rinsed it, and moved on. I chopped two Roma tomatoes (see comment above) and added to the lettuce. I grabbed a handful of grated monterey jack/cheddar cheese – this is about a cup – and mixed it into the salad bowl. Finally, I tossed in another handful-and-a-half of tortilla strips.

For the dressing, I mixed 2 parts of Country French with 1 part Chipotle Ranch and stirred. This gives the “right” combination of sweet and spicy. Flavor chemistry is an interesting subject. The Country French sweetness is detected by a combination of receptor proteins in the roof of the mouth and the back of the tongue. These receptors synapse with the glossopharyngeal nerve and the chorda tympani, which means the signals are transferred up the center of the neck as well as along the sides of the skull, through the inner ear.

Spicy flavors, on the other hand, are detected by the VR1 receptors in the mouth. What is interesting is that they are designed to detect heat, such that we don’t consume hot food that will burn our mouths. The detection of capsaicin (the chemical in most peppers) is accidental, but activates the “heat” response of the VR1 receptors.

I poured the dressing over the salad mixture and tossed liberally to coat the lettuce, cheese, tortilla strips and tomatoes. At this point, I heated the chicken in the microwave for about 90 seconds.

To serve, I scooped out a serving (or two) of the salad mixture onto a plate, then topped it with the warm taco chicken. What you get is a delicious, yet incongruous, mixture of ingredients.

Crunchy, yet smooth
sweet, yet spicy
vegetable, yet chicken-y
warm, and cold

Serves 3 to 4 people, was eaten by 2.

So, in summary:

5 or 6 chicken breast tenders, cooked with taco seasoning or similar spices, then chopped
1 bag Romaine Salad
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 Cup Monterey Jack/Cheddar grated cheese
1 1/2 cup thin tortilla strips
2/3 cup Country French Dressing
1/3 cup Chipotle Ranch Dressing

Soundtrack for making the salad:
Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band
Smile – Nat King Cole

second hand

I heard the words
and their correctedness,
in picturesque suffectedness.

She spoke them with such emplity
and vocal resnoguity.

I could not dare not write them down
and use them later for colored sounds

To poke at the sentence
bruskly and paciously,
or converse on the gartan
defendled loquaciously.

And if the strunogrammatic skills that I now display
cause you to mattle or otherwise say,

What silliness falls from there on page?
My stars! This is nonsense.

It’s nothing so sage.

It’s second hand outwisms
pure and just plain.
So read and enjoy it,
my emplitious refrain.