I’m trying something new this week. It seems a bit ridiculous to me as well as extreme, but if it works, I will love it. It is the second day that I’ve packed up my “stuff” and set up to write at the local library.
Home is just so cozy and delicious. Food and beverage, fireplace, books, garden, friends…not to mention countless, non-writing-related tasks to take care of. You know, like laundry.
So yesterday, I stuffed my laptop, a spiral notebook, and my writing day planner into a tote. But I wanted both water and coffee. I couldn't put those with my laptop. Does the library even allow coffee? I decided it wasn’t an option. I put both the travel mug and travel cup into my purse, along with a small square of chocolate. I knew I’d get hungry, but I was already running late.
I’ve not spent much time at this fairly new, extremely efficient neighborhood library. It’s about five minutes from our house in low traffic. I had to ask a few questions before finding the study area. It was SO QUIET! I might not speak loudly, but I am otherwise impressively noisy. Everything I did seemed to echo – unzipping my bag, setting my beverages on the table, arranging my laptop and its charger. I even peeked around wondering if a librarian would approach and ask me to please settle down.
And the librarians! The ones in this little library are at least a couple decades younger than me. They patrol, put books away, and are frequently at their computers. What are they all doing, I wonder? Some research, sure, but what else? Hmm? It fascinates me. I’ve always thought I would enjoy being a librarian. Much as I love the outdoors, I find great libraries, churches, and museums restorative in a different sort of way.
Of course, I felt hungry early on. I ate my one chocolate in the first hour, drank my coffee, sipped some water, and well, after all that, I had to take a little break. Once I was in front of my computer again, I put my head down and worked for almost three hours. Then a new noise disrupted the quiet. My stomach began growling.
I tried to ignore it and worked for another 45 minutes. But I was distracted. My daughter-in-heart had given us some of her fabulous chicken tacos the night before and I knew there was still one waiting for me at home. On my way out of the library, I stopped by the front desk, interrupting the young librarian.
“Can we…we’re not allowed to eat in here, are we?”
What did I expect her to say? I knew the answer.
She looked apologetic. “Not inside, but we have a little courtyard outside with seating.”
Today, I wanted to bring a peanut butter sandwich but again ran out of time. I have another chocolate square, a Kind bar, and a banana stuffed in my purse. I do not doubt that I will make an inordinate amount of noise unwrapping the sticky Kind bar. They'll probably throw me out. I wonder if I can eat a banana in here without anyone noticing? If I didn’t like the windows so much, I’d sit in a cubby. Surely no one would catch me there!
But some writing will get done. Some, as you see, already has. :)
Here's to a week of productivity and more!
I don't have a bucket list, per se, and I do NOT approve of skydiving. I get it. It's safer than driving, yada yada, and you're going to do it whether I approve or not. None of that means I have to like it when you jump out of a plane.
I'd always thought to go hang-gliding, though. It never struck me as particularly dangerous and enjoying an eagle's eye view of the mountains I love held great appeal. So when Joseph announced that we should go paragliding in Turkey, it wasn't in me to seriously object.
And there is that something about challenging yourself to do something at least a teensy bit out of your comfort zone.
It was a cool, cloudy, November day in Oludeniz when we went, and we had to wait for the clouds to disperse a little. We trusted Birsen and Kerem, our guys from FlyLiberty, so we weren't worried. And oh, it was so much fun!
I admit, as we drove to the top of the mountain (thousands of feet), I began to feel a little anxious. We just kept going -- up, up, up -- and I'm a little uncomfortable with heights. I joked that I would just stay in the van. I believed I was voicing more concern than I felt in order to amuse the others. In retrospect, looking at the photos, I probably was as nervous as I thought I was pretending to be. I'm holding on tight and don't look that comfortable. As to that, I wasn't comfortable! My coat was bothering the heck out of me. Next time -- and we hope to go again soon -- I won't wear a coat or anything so constricting. Or sunglasses! Kerem insisted I wear his, but I don't think I needed them, especially on a cloudy day. But I digress. In short, Joseph looks relaxed and competent in his photos. Born to it. Me, not so much.
Despite that vain displeasure, I found it a refreshing experience. Does that sound odd? For one thing, it's fun. And then, there you are, high above the forest and sea, a sure, cool breeze blowing... Everyone has asked me how it feels to jump down or jump off the top of a mountain. I don't feel that I did. We backed up, ran a little, and jumped -- up. I never experienced a feeling of falling. Kerem skillfully maneuvered the parachute and the wind took us! It was smooth sailing with spectacular scenery. Eventually, we glided gently to the ground.
Would you prefer something less soothing, more exciting? The experience is, of course, tailored to the customer. I expressed anxiety and, I realize now, was clearly nervous, so Kerem took it easy. But they do stunts and loops and all sorts of things if you're up for it. Maybe next time.
I'm really glad that we did it. It was a fun experience to share with my sweetheart. He didn't rub it in that I was the poster child for awkward and afterwards we celebrated with a beautiful dinner in Fethiye.
Many thanks to everyone at FlyLiberty. Oludeniz, I look forward to seeing you again!
Happy New Year!
Before diving into the new, it's not a bad idea to review the last. I'm not saying to dwell on the past, but to just take stock, make notes, cry a few tears if needs must, and hopefully enjoy a few smiles.
Last year, our house was hit hard by the historic deep freeze and subsequent bursting of pipes. But it also got renovated and we love the improvements. And during the renovation period, we enjoyed bonus time with our children and grandchildren.
There were a few other things that didn't go our way, to say nothing of the precarious world situation and politics. We had cause to worry about some of our loved ones -- still do -- particularly my beloved, elderly father-in-law. But there's a beautiful new baby in our extended family, and we are more grateful than we could ever express that everyone made it through the year without serious illness.
Travel was limited, but we did get away. New Mexico's mountains were beautiful last summer. We visited Turkey's Mediterranean coast and paraglided in Oludeniz.
We watched our grandson play baseball. We saw our granddaughter bloom as a young artist.
I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press.
For me, looking back has reminded me that things can change very fast and made me realize that last year wasn't all bad. Not at all.
So, what of this year? I have so many ideas! Remember that I said some things didn't go our way? Einstein's quote has lodged itself into my imagination.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I've resolved to do things differently this year. I always make resolutions and review at the end of the year. I didn't do badly last year, but my resolutions were too broad for them to be truly effective.
This year, they're more specific.
I'd like to mention one because I think you will be interested. I hope to read at least 12 self-development books and share about them with you.
I wasn't going to sign up for any reading challenge but Goodreads. I weakened and signed up for Cruisin' the Cozies again because that was just fun and I'd like to read 40 more cozies this year. As for my Goodreads' Challenge, my goal is 130 books. That's approximately two and a half books a week. I hope to more than meet that goal. Working with that number, I've created my own subdivisions, one being 12 self-development/personal growth books. I'm excited!
In the few quiet times during the last days of December, I listened to Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I liked it so much that I want to study it further, memorize a bit, so I've ordered a hard copy. This week, I will be reading that and listening to Oliver Burkeman's Four Thousand Weeks, Time Management for Mortals. I will review, update, and generally keep you posted.
I have a new day planner and wall calendar. I trust them more than my phone app, although it certainly has its uses. I have new hopes and plans and dreams.
Is there anything that you'd like to share?
All the best in 2022!
We had such a great time in Turkey. The people were great, the food was delicious, and the scenery was amazing. We spent most of our time along the coast or coasts -- both the Aegean and the Mediterranean. We learned a little history, enjoyed a few adventures, and relaxed on a pebble beach.
We visited resort areas, but we did not stay in resorts. The ancient, bustling cities have seen so much history. I got the distinct feeling they will continue to do so. The whole trip was every sort of amazing, not to mention inspiring.
An Autumn Scarecrow
If my song for you is Autumn
From the roof I shall sing to a soft chill
My voice is an earthquake quivering out
these little sonnets and trails of letters
Coming down faster than the snow
We soon stand still in the early season blizzard
It will blade through all of the farmland
The prairies ruined with guillotined scarecrows
bleeding straw like a hydrant
This is our beauty, this is our moment
Will you say I love you back from this Midwestern view?
And we can warm each other in praises
In the hills of sleet where we shared our first kiss
your hair falls over my body like the stars tonight
And magnetizing our hearts together in our newly found love.
Let us birth the Winter Solstice in the death of leaves
I really never cared much for all the scarecrows
they were nothing but a lie
To keep the dying birds on the street
I know, I know I can love you
At least for awhile in this arctic shift
as my heart beats lazily the colder it gets
Well, do we escape together?
Before all the tornadoes of Spring
hunt for fresh meat
to begin the hunt for a new shelter
Share this breath with me a little longer
before I have to think of the potential hazards.
-- David L. O'Nan
I love poetry. It's hard, in the wild world that is publishing these days, to know where to look to find poetry that stirs your soul. David L. O'Nan has not only written volumes of poetry and short stories, he seeks creative expression, drawing together poets, artists, musicians, and more. To be inspired, to perhaps share your work, or if you're searching for something new, drop by his website, Fevers of the Mind.
Welcome, David. I have so many questions. It was hard for me to know where to begin, but I think it must be with yourself and your poetry. You know (of course you do) that the name of your website and press – Fevers of the Mind -- grabs a person. It certainly caught my attention, and I wondered how you’d come to think of the name/title. That was before I’d read much of your writing. Now that I have, I think I understand a little better. Your poetry is astonishing, beautiful, and more often than not, heart-wrenching. What it’s not is light or simple.
So, David, what is poetry to you?
Poetry to me is an expression of art through words, it is a therapy for me, poetry is just a rattling compulsion of words that train through my head and purges its way to forms controlled, hazy, or whipped around tornadic.
When did you start writing poetry?
I began writing poetry in phases. First, I would listen and read what my older brother wrote when they were a teenager. I would always be a sucker for lyrics in music. I grew out of the Everybody Dance Now and Metal music from the 80’s and began listening to The Beatles around 12. I wrote 2 blah songs around that time, that in retrospect might have been okay for a 12-year-old boy.
How has it changed through the years?
I wrote many goofy, weird dark humor and otherwise nonsense short stories through high school, which when I would turn in during “Creative Writing” some English teachers didn’t understand. Around 18 I began to feel a little more depressed, frustrated by how my single life was going so I would right more angsty, frustrated poetry. Eventually, I began writing more serious, tapped in imagery material around 23 after another relationship, and then becoming entranced with another which I was unable to fully materialize due to circumstances that were out of my hand. Since then I’ve written on and off for years. I took several years away from writing and then the passion fully came back when my father passed away in 2016 on Christmas Night. Since then, I’ve written more and finally put out through self-publishing work from years before.
Digging even deeper, your poetry is complex as well as profound. Emotions often tangle, even emotional extremes. Do you draw from inner or outward observation or both? Please, tell us more about yourself and your work.
My poetry isn’t complex to me. The words and imagery may not be there at all at times, and other times it rushes out in a hypomanic story that has to come out quickly. With Generalized Anxiety/A.D.D. and whatever else I encompass all of my emotions at that time to the highest degree my mind will take me without (for me) being over the top. Sometimes the poem will be there ready for me to add in imagery, and other times I will have to refocus my mind to that energy through music or thought. I will form short stories that become poems (or forms of writing) and will work some real life feelings and in other moments I will add in how a character in my poems would feel. It is psychological really. I am a natural empath and can pick up on emotions well and it affects me in one way that in a poem usually that comes out.
I’ve been reading The Famous Poetry Outlaws Are Painting Walls and Whispers. I don’t read books of poetry all at once. To me, that’s usually counterintuitive. What I’ve read so far is fun and – this is not flattery – brilliant, but… I wouldn’t even call it dark humor. Sometimes, it’s just dark. Is it that I don’t the right sense of humor? Or is it, in fact, meant to be dark? What are your own thoughts on this wild ride of verse?
Well, the first thing I want to say about this book is I re-worked this book this year (2021). It has been scrambled about since I first put it out in 2018. I have updated to look almost like a Coffee-table sized book. I have added photography to the poems and some have been updated since the original incarnation of the poems that were published years ago.
I try to stay thematic in putting together a book, but that is when my attention deficit issues might strike. This book is meant to have some dark undertones of confused humans, the characters in the poems could almost come across as selfish or wannabe heroes. It is a book about confusion in life. To not be sure if you’re doing the right thing, or maybe have a very hard time doing the exact right thing because you’re always trying to make yourself better or a different version of yourself. Sometimes that is scary, sometimes it is humorous & sometimes it is in between. If you can’t decipher who you are, the hope is that someone cares enough about you to decipher your coding enough to carry you through our current infinity while hopeful for what is after.
Beautiful. Thank you.
Inspiration... Clearly, Leonard Cohen’s life and work has inspired you. Am I correct in my understanding that you are compiling a Part 2 to Avalanches in Poetry, Writing, and Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen? Will the collections remain only online? Do you find it hard to believe that there are many people out there who don’t know about him? What about his life’s work is so special to you?
I sort of learned more about Leonard in my early twenties. For awhile it took me awhile to get him until I really began reading his books and his lyrics. I wasn’t fully sold on his songs post 70’s and that was what I was mostly first hearing outside of Suzanne. Then I really began soul searching during some hard times and meditated in his “Songs of Love and Hate” and they tapped into my current emotions at the time, and over time I became infatuated with his whole story and his first 4 albums often resonate with me the most. I feel like a misplaced in time soul and he puts me there through his words. That is what I strive to do when I write. To put the people reading it into the mindset of a time and place. As of right now the Second part to the Avalanches in Poetry Series is only online on the www.feversofthemind.com website in blog postings. They are usually titled “Before I Turn Into Gold” in lieu of Avalanches in Poetry 2 however, since I had thought about putting a personal book out before with that title. A line from “A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes” by Leonard Cohen. My anxieties currently are too much for me to handle curating in a book form of this at the time. I also have a full time job, being a father of 3, and a husband without a vast amount of time to fully put my creative endeavors on the forefront. I am also hugely influenced by music, retro culture in general. I have always been a fan of The Beatles esp. John Lennon & George Harrison, Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits (mostly earlier work), Bruce Springsteen, Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell, Prince, Elliott Smith and thousands more. I think people don’t fully understand the poet that Leonard was. They focus on 3 or 4 of his songs and to them that is it. They think of covers of Suzanne, Everybody Knows, Hallelujah.
I must admit, I love Hallelujah. Are there any other inspirations that you'd like to mention?
I almost forgot to mention how the poetry of Plath and Sexton developed my early writing. Also, reading Kerouac and Ginsberg helped me transition from diary angst poetry to more storytelling. confessional poetry & character driven work. Two poems in the Famous Poetry Outlaws book actually derived from a novel I had written a few hundred pages and then gave up " The Bible Belt Bachelor" circa 2005. This was heavily influenced by Kerouac's "On the Road" and "Dharma Bums" with some Salinger " The Catcher in the Rye" thrown in.
You share your appreciation for artistic expression through your website and anthologies. You and your wife HilLesha are the editors of the anthologies. Would you call yourselves co-editors? That is, do you work on the same project at the same time? Do you always agree on what’s to go into a book?
With the anthologies my wife has a lot of input with imagery of how the look of the books are presented. She has been a blogger/writer for 20 years and she knows what looks well cosmetically for book covers with our photography as the cover art. As for all the editing of poetry lines and inclusion into the books that would be me mostly. My wife has a few poems in the anthologies as well. Her poetry is usually vision of dreams that she puts to words. I wished to dream my poems and able to remember the details she can for her dreams. I often dream too convoluted dreams that make little sense to put to poetry though.
The latest anthology, Overcome, is a response to the pandemic. Would you tell us about the compilation? What were you looking for in the submissions?
Well, Overcome, which is the 5th edition of Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Art Anthology Digest, basically was an evaluation of poems that had already been submitted to the site throughout the year by several very talented writers & poets that thematically came about since we all are fresh in this pandemic and often pandemic style poems will be a fresh strawberry on the top of our dome. The compilation includes photo accompaniment to many of the poems to accentuate the point. The poetry was submissions of not only pandemic themed poems, but social justice, hope for a better future (the hope for an ending to this plague) The picture we chose for the cover of the book is a walk down a long road, there is a curve and perhaps on that other side is where the dawn returns and we leave that dark terrain. For a list of all the poets included in this anthology I will provide a link. This link also lists all the poets in all the anthologies Fevers of the Mind has put out. http://feversofthemind.com/2021/08/27/announcements-fevers-of-the-mind-issue-5-overcome-anthology-is-out/
You do so much for the creative community. Is there anything new on the horizon or anything else you’d like to share with us?
I am beginning this week on an online exclusive write as I go blog book called "Before the Bridge Fell". It is a brand new idea. It will be made available through postings on www.feversofthemind.com and then I may print off some small books to hand off at shows I hope to perform at next year.
David, thank you for your generosity of spirit and for gifting us with your time and talent. Thank you also for sharing a few of your poems with us.
Poems and links follow.
The Poetry of David L. O'Nan
Ripped Off My Jean Jacket
As the symptomatic leaves begin to fall
I watched noiseless waterfalls -
drink in the deranged and lame
Our bodies are blush,
decorated into these parks
by the stabbing strokes of a paintbrush
Brush away these harsh devils
Wiped away all of my tattoos
My head is clammy and sweating
Watch the stars penetrate the heart
From the moon,
I have become the decorous
the ultimate gentleman -
to all that is blind
whip-in the inhales
And shoot the arrows to the waves.
If I am uncovered,
if truths are found to be false
I will carry myself like a casket
and image myself as the lifeless wooden doll
to the thundering faint, to the floor
I ripped off my jean jacket
the wild, the seeds plucked to be reborn
Long nights listening to this same rain falling
the owls are silent in their hoots
the traces of our footprints -
are known to be crazy
we are picking the serpents from our boots.
So, is this the white noise?
I live in either gray or electric shock
an impulse is easier to swallow
but sin takes time to regurgitate.
Oslo in the Heart
It was 4 seasons in Oslo
Where they greased the wheels for our eyes
when they bleached the brides
my skin has turned to purple veins,
locked my mind inside a wall of chains
all the Norwegian women bled like rubies
over a beach of shells
Candlelight on the bones inside the moon
cooking the peasants in a witch's ritual.
Oslo was in my heart
when we wed
Winter crosses full of wet lead
tuning my mind to a dripping paint
and rippling vapors whip in every corner.
Oslo was in my heart that day
we danced a fandango
through the avalanches lay bare sleighs
the mountains had broke for all the old anger in the stones.
Oslo nights in wonderfalls
heartbroken men and shallow women calling
for the moneymen to come from the big U.S. city
the commercial life
the vacations and all the models
bankruptcies in graveyards
the drifting of the wind.
You walk the streets like you are still in Tabriz
You miss the Iranian Summers
While fumbling full of wine
you feel the prickly goosebumps from the breeze.
And we begin to walk with a squint
as the sun masks the city
and quivering drunk lips.
You desire the kiss when the night stirs
dressed in scarlet red
looking for that efficacious effect
We are like the stars in the sky
celebrities in meteoric flash
We are just lost
from the waste to the lakes
trying to unlock the code
to flee us from the beams of Heaven's Gate
We can wish on these wine bottles
throw in the pennies for a little luck
we can invent beauty
out of the contagious Shenandoah muck.
Our city is just a bullet town
Our love will fall like tramps in the rain
with our hands becoming umbrellas
trying to protect us from the downpour
awake our celestial shine with this oncoming train.
And here come the dollies
and all of the sheepmen
who gather ours fossils
and they use them for swanky chaotic sin
our rose is a misery
burn the shell right off this redolent city.
The streetlamps are as dim as a yellow puddle
with a hint of chickweeds growing around the blacktop tumors.
And all we can talk about all of the music,
and hum until poetry rifles through our brains.
Studying the fallen art stuck to the limbs of trees
On the edge of what was Calliope.
When all was tame and flowery,
The strong was not frail without a care
Our frames were not broken, just skeletal grey
And we would dine on evening air
and dance to the melody of church bells
the hymns were our parade.
Drinking Blue Moons
I was burning through the poker chips
Looking eye to the cavernous eye of some demon
I see all the misleading in your passions.
If all your passions are the flaming dollars
and all shoes want to dance for the triumphs
You have a Malibu boy doll home
with wives that sashay in the golden fields
beautiful gardens and thrusting seeds
water this, burning just a little.
And we all want your suits and all the glory
the perfect hair and the ungodly White teeth
Maybe the jealousy lives in all of us
but we know you're as fragile as a toothpick -
when your way begins receding.
Drinking Blue Moons when the red wine runs low
You begin pacing like a war of pistols
when the bombs begin flashing your photos - to the world
we know you, there are truth whisperers
Your flavor of the month decisions
begin to disease with constant new kisses
After dark in powder kegs
love hearts dancing around the bones
to erode them
three sheets to the wind
and your toy world is for sale and crumbling.
Love, love, love
is in the twist of a bottle-cap
Love, love, love
Is putting your head next to the ammunition
the boattail bullets dips you in to the a round of ripples
Love, love, love
Your blondes in black in the background crying.
All the women are there
from all your hidden life messages
to a Lucy, an Alexis, a Leilani, an Olivia
From the bedrooms with White curtains
and all that money -
was never his to begin with
Will he rest in peace in a graveyard of suitcase tombstones?
All of the Miles Between Us
There are many miles between ideals
and many indecisions.
Between the straying women
Riding new wheels
and feeling weightless.
Do I feel artistic,
or just punch wildly and swing around to a phantom touch?
How can I be me?
When I am constantly feeling stalked
by the shadows, the voices, and past scars
the new wheels begin to break and roll down the road.
I see you play the actress
You play with the best of them
Just call you Joan Crawford, Just call you Mrs. Hepburn
I can't see myself in these mirrors
past the steam there you may be
Is it the lipstick or the lie?
Just cradle me
you are my melting candle
Like a mind without sympathy
Hear the wails in the air,
I'm constantly in a crawl for you
but you felt more secure by naked irises
and secure by the many miles between us.
On Rippling Streets and Possibly Dying
Inhale, exhale, now uncertainty
awoke or maybe i'm a splattered angel to the road.
In feathers like a cardinal in hot August breath
Burning away to the move of a wicked gravitational spin
I'm on a rippling street,
dust swirling like my head
covered in an old business suit, damp and frail
watching abandoned Subway trains moving once again.
I see a 1940's traveling preacher on the corner.
One moment he's for Jesus, the next he's in it for the flames.
I stare into the hypnotism of a long walk to triumph
I have to face the destruction of regret
and neglect myself in cigarette smoke that wrestles the air -
to the gray we all see in this converging heavens
From this industrial sewage drains to the tobacco fields
the trees lift from the ground funneling energy from the clouds.
I'm on this rippling street
And I think i'm lifeless
a hex to the all the beauty of colour
a hissing in my shoes
they begin to race by you to get to me
Do they see a man, a skeleton, or invisibility?
And the Wolf Shakes
In a camera's view
I am the tortoise
When hidden away I can be the hare
With whistles, dry kisses, and dangerous fixes
I can suddenly be the crushed worm.
I feel the hierarchy of changing
the wind cracks these castles to rubble
And you dream of the vicious
and you dream of the gentle warmth
in the shelters when the wolf shakes.
Eventually, the Winter will slip through
Those cracks and eternally
We feel we become the peasant's meal
The bears begin knocking and Goldilocks is illuminated
Always hiding like the scared child
When it begins thundering the war sirens.
The bullets, the bombs
Squeezing like the boa even when we run
The parades become eerie and the howling sounds like hell
Tight and abusive, the frightening smiles and nods
those demons drink in the rain
and leave us all thirsty
with endless clouds still bleeding.
Imagine the harps and flirtations of the angels
only to be tricked by the chivalry of the devil
I see the spit of poison reflecting up -
from the bottom of a wineglass.
And God can be the illustrator when you are fearful
when tasting of the bread and the Holy Bible is a straitjacket
to whisper you back to sanity.
These wars were made for men
certainly not made for love
the damages have painted a death,
for the wash.
Now the washing away.
The floods finally have come.
Wiping away the hoax of the drifters
in these torrents
to rebuild our trenches
where we can desire to live again
When will that wolf leave.
will the sheep ever get to play?
Leonard Cohen's Ghost
To dance, dance, sway, just sway
with all the Gods, the ghosts, the deities that we pray to.
Restless orbs hovering through my bedroom.
On the walls that they call home.
In their wooden eyes and popcorn ceiling shedding
I feel a leaky roof's carcass form an IV drip of falling rain
On the bed sheets, on my cold Manhattan muscles
with all the holiness, the prophets, and the seers - that surround
Drinking the electricity from my blood.
In my slumbers I see the hereafter
In windows bonded by straps
Paralyze my brain to a schizophrenic trap
Patch myself back with apologies and prayers
the Soul keeps straying to and from this thin layer
between me and the concrete sky
In this room lives the melancholia
Reflections of Orion
and all my visions, Judases, and the disease - in synthesis
My bones fail,
and muscles endlessly ache
they crack and break 'til I cease to be
Being an old man
dressed in yesterday's fashion.
I sleep in my suit, with another suit for pillows to cushion
The opium that fills me begins to possess me when it becomes night.
I may be left abandoned, yet you want to steal my soul.
You reach from the floor and present my death as Christmas Day.
I have your stains in my DNA,
And your perversions scarred in my brain
I looked to you during grief and hunger
And you, the angel, the woman, the saint - the kiss
Gave me a drink from my flask on the worst of days
I retire away from your memory.
Where can I find the safety again of family?
In New York the rats know you by your name.
And you gamble with them in Central Park
Drink your coffee with the visions of Virgin Mary
the herald angels we Hark!
I begin to dream away a crystallizing of waterfalls
the moving mountains on my deathbed calls.
My children have all left the buzzing city
I have grown skinny, skinnier every day
with this beard always itching.
The room feels like it's a melting paste.
And I sketch all the martyrs, my family, and founding fathers
And I pray to a wisp of light that shatters against the lamp post.
In all of its fury, I meditate through this path
I confess to a mass of angels lifting away the flames from my soul.
I want salvation
as I see the jetlines of Leonard Cohen's ghost.
Smoke Halos in Endless Winters
The infatuation with you was immediate
You complimented me on my style, an old shirt.
Your tanned skin danced with the sunlight for the Summer
As I sit in admiration for you in the crackling dirt.
I infected myself,
haunt myself with your routine.
Day after day
the ring on your finger seemed to be on display.
How you cried in your loneliness and longing.
And I wanted to be the shadow that meditates in your soul.
In downtown circlings we roamed
The same crowd of people we knew
I wanted to draw you closer
Your heart belonged frozen to a soldier's march in a sick hue of blue.
Even when he screams
You sat as the trophy on his shelf.
There was a line of men like me
some had love in their mind, others were just bawdy
Many admirers left blushing
at the parties and in the silence
And in the New Year's trips
I was hanging on to my sanity
from the tip of your lips I wish mine were.
And I would cry for your nomadic footprints
That I lost and battled myself to find
And every time I thought you have found clarity
The green pebbles from the red,
Then you became a borderline aurora
My body thrown in the piles of dead,
just another audit for the cemetery.
You would come home in tears, a distance
My arms still open many months for your embrace.
After months of your endless nights and dark mornings
The smoke halos above a frozen bay.
I'd hope for the energy of my heart to be revived
I wanted to charm your broken one from the ashes in your shoes.
I would hint annoyingly trying to drag out a smile.
And you would hide behind a mask of newspaper
I would write you poetry, and I bled out my blues
I would ask for a dance though I didn't know how
I would gladly try even if my legs worn to broken.
If at the end you were the ultimate prize.
I would've danced my tears to a drought
I would've lifted you up above the clouds
And touched the wings of the angels
to revive us from the Earth's shutting crust
And the younger years become a dusting.
And full of those hearts stuck paralyzed.
The strings of years form on my forehead
A husband and a father
And I know you are around
I still feel the fighting of those ghosts
I feel you are battling them also
though the nomadic walks begins to slow.
The footprints of Winter now have a home.
Here are bitly Amazon links to my self-published books & also the Anthologies we’ve put out. Since I didn’t go through college for editing, my books can be raw and have small editorial errors. If anyone ever wants to discuss putting out my personal books edited by someone who can pay attention more fully to the details let me know.
https://amzn.to/3bJsjhp for my revised updated with photo book “The Famous Poetry Outlaws Are Painting Walls and Whispers” with photo artwork by Margaret Viboolsittiseri.
The Anthology link for Fevers of the Mind V: Overcome which is only available on Paperback.
The link to my poetry book (November 2020) New Disease Streets
My book “The Cartoon Diaries” (December 2019)
My book of mini poems throughout the years “Lost Reflections” (2021)
Taking Pictures in the Dark is a book of collected poems (2021)
Our Fears in Tunnels (2018/2019)
The Avalanches in Poetry: Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen (2019) this was the original book. My poetry in this book has been revised is on both my website and some included here with this interview.
https://amzn.to/3kactkC all artwork by Geoffrey Wren whom also was a friend of Leonard Cohen.
Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 (2021) is a huge Anthology book with many great interviews, bios, poetry over the past year of 2020. The book is huge and costly on paperback but is also available on Kindle. Amazon sort of sets these prices that I’d make a lot cheaper if it was just me.
Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Art Anthology Issue 3 (2019) The Darkness & the Light
Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Art Anthology Issue 2 (2019) In Memoriam
The Original first edition of Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Art Digest Issue 1 (June 2019)
To read some of my other work featured check out these links:
https://feversofthemind.com/2021/10/09/wombwell-rainbow-book-interview-lost-reflections-by-david-l-onan-part-one/ This is a several part interview and also has some selections from the Lost Reflections book.
www.feversofthemind.com for many creative poets, photographers, artists, musicians, interviews
Twitter: @feversof and for my personal @DavidLONan1
Facebook Group: www.feversofthemind.com Poetry & Arts Group
(the Quick 9 Interview logo) from Margaret Viboolsittiseri and the wolf design was purchased elsewhere.
Today, I’m honored to chat with JL Rothstein, author of the Heaven Sent series. I’ve interviewed her before, as well as marveled at her first book, Atonement. Since our last chat, she’s been really busy.
Hi, Jen! Welcome and congratulations on your latest book, Hellbound! Your books are now sold in stores! How does that feel? Where can we buy them?
Yes, they are in a couple of independent bookstores, Tatnuck Booksellers in Westborough MA.
And All She Wrote Books in Somerville, MA. Just recently my first book was picked up in select locations of The Paper Store, which is a 95-store retail chain. It was surreal seeing it on the shelves of a bookstore. It’s an amazing feeling. I am humbled by the opportunity. It is difficult as an independent author to get your book in stores. It’s why most choose to go the traditional route, so to have these stores pick it up at all feels amazing.
It must feel great!
Please, tell us about Hellbound! I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Is it as nerve-wracking, hold-onto-the-edge-of-your-seat as Atonement is?
Hellbound picks up right where Atonement left off. It follows Deborah O’Mara as she starts to question the Guardians mission on Earth. She wants to rescue someone and believes it’s worth risking what she’s sworn to uphold. I think it’s an interesting dynamic for her to be in, because she is the sister that has always followed the rules. You’ll meet some new characters, but there is plenty of action.
I don’t suppose you would care to give me a little update on Deb and Marcus?
I won’t say too much, but I will say that Marcus does play a major role in Deb’s journey in book two. I like the idea that we get to see Deb go on a heroine’s journey in book two, there will be trials and tribulations for sure! In Atonement, we had to meet the family under grueling circumstances, but in book two we get to know Deb on a deeper level, it feels a little more focused now that all the characters are known.
It sounds extraordinary. How about the writing of it? How does the (writing) experience compare to the first book in the series? Did any particular part give you a harder time to write?
I think with the first book you spend a good amount of time introducing the reader to the main characters. Where the family is large, there are nine siblings, plus love interests and allies. It’s a big cast. The first book was about bringing the reader into the world/universe that I created. With that done, book two is allowing me to dig a little deeper into the three sisters. What are their motivations, their desires, their goals etc. I hope readers come away knowing them more intimately. I always think the action scenes are the hardest. They are fun to write, but they take a lot of editing and re-writing to make them believable and well-paced. It’s definitely something I continue to work on as a writer.
Emotions – what can we expect from the book? What emotions did you experience while writing it?
I think we are going to run the gamut here. Deb is going to feel loss, betrayal, frustration as well as love and desire. She is going to question everything and when that happens, I think you end up experiencing an entire slew of emotions.
I felt a little spent at the end of book two. My Mom passed away in Dec 2020 and at the time I was going through the editing process, which in and of itself is a tough process. By the time I got through it and launched in April 2021, I was pretty wiped out. It was good having this past summer to try and recharge in anticipation of writing book three.
I'm so sorry for your loss. I know how hard that is. I'm glad you took a little time to recoup and get back to yourself.
You named your main characters after your nieces and nephews. How do they feel about Hellbound?
I think they are thrilled that I did it, and my nieces have told me they are honored by it. Gen and Deb are tied up with being new Moms, but they read book one and are on book two now. It has been wonderful being a great-aunt, so excited to have babies in the family again! Kelly has read both and is very excited for her characters book to come out next!
It must be so exciting for them. And Book 3 is Kelly's story? Yaay! We all love Kelly!
From my point of view, you’ve been something of a pioneer out in the vast open spaces of indie publishing. You’re an influencer on Twitter, you have a youTube channel, and you have a presence on other platforms as well. Do you have one best tip about indie publishing or navigating social media that you would like to share with us?
I’m no different than the other indie authors out there. I’m trying a bit everything to see what makes a difference. From the outside it probably looks like I know what I am doing, but I’m learning as I go!
I think I would tell people not to give up. There will be things that you try that work, and things that are flops. Just keep going, something is bound to break if you keep at it. There is no one thing you’re going to do that will lead to success. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to be patient and understand that it takes time to get your work out there, try and enjoy the journey.
Did I read somewhere that you’re now pursuing a masters or was I imagining things? In addition to writing, promoting, and life in general, you’ve gone back to college? Tell us a little about yourself, about what drives you.
I applied to Graduate school and have taken a few classes. I am not currently enrolled this semester, but I do plan to go back and take more classes. I feel like I need that foundation, others may not. I went to school for finance, and I work in the accounting field. There is a lot to learn about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. I figure anything that helps me get better is worth pursuing.
That's so well said and true for all of us, if only we would recognize it.
Wishing you all the best, Jen. Thank you for sharing your time with us.
Thank you, Anastasia! I so appreciate you sharing this information with your audience.
Hell’s First Army has been preparing a thousand years to reign terror upon this Earth.
For centuries Deborah O’Mara and her siblings have been faithful followers of their brethren in Heaven. After Hell murders an Archangel, Deborah begins to question her very mission as a Guardian.
Rescuing a Sentinel means Deborah will have to shatter The Accord reigniting an age-old Celestial War. She must choose between love & loyalty and find the strength to live with the consequences.
Battling new enemies, forging desperate alliances, and burdened with a soul-crushing betrayal, Deborah is tempted to pursue the path of the Fallen. Her family races to intervene, but they may be too late to stop her from becoming…HELLBOUND.
Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Hellbound by JL Rothstein (Excerpt)
Deb couldn’t remember exactly when she was here last, but she knew it was decades, not years. Hence why it took her time to locate it again. The boarded-up door swung back open with force. The door ricocheted against the stone exterior and snapped back toward those exiting. The young female was unceremoniously being hauled outside by her arm. Even at this distance Deb could sense the male was demonic. He shoved the teen up against the neighboring building’s facade. Deb couldn’t hear the conversation, but she could tell by the tone it was anything but pleasant.
The female held her hands up in front of her face and yelled out.
“Leave me alone, demon.”
The female attempted to shove her attacker, but he towered over her by at least a foot and probably a hundred pounds or more.
The male snickered and goosebumps rose along her arms.
“Your kind isn’t welcome here,” the demon yelled in her face.
The female kneed the brute between the legs and took off running toward the street. The male took only a few strides to catch up to her. Grabbing her, he pulled her up off her feet. Closer to the street,
Deb could clearly see the female’s face. The male had a large chunk of her hair. Tears escaped her eyes as they filled with terror.
She’s over her head, Deb thought.
Briskly, Deb walked across the street and dropped her shield in front of them as the girl hung nearly frozen in the air.
“Why don’t you pick on someone your own size, demon.” Deb’s voice was calm, determined.
The Demon swung his large bulky arm to the left and the female tumbled out of his grasp rolling to a violent stop to Deb’s right.
“What do you want?” he asked. “She with you? You should tell your friend that not all of us from Hell have the same anatomy.”
“I’ll be sure to explain your inadequate manhood to her later,” Deb quipped.
He didn’t retort, he just lunged. His broad shoulders and bulging neck were indications he trained often. The girl scrambled to her feet.
“Look out,” the teen warned.
Deb adeptly slid out of the way, unsheathing the dagger she had stashed in the inside of her raincoat. Before he could recover Deb swung the blade down across his chest. His shirt tore open.
The black patchiness of his skin revealed what he was, a vampire.
Deb hadn’t encountered a vampire for many decades. In her memory, they were fiercely trained soldiers making up Hell’s First Army. Unlike how the humans portrayed them, vampires didn’t have fangs or fear sunlight. They more resembled the Spartan army from the 5th Century BC. They did, however, consume human blood to maintain their strength and vitality. At least they did until the Amendment to the Heaven/Hell Accord was enacted.
The old scars of battle had healed on this vampire, but without consuming the essence found in human blood they were burnt and marred. Deb swung again and managed to break open the skin under the most mutilated of his scars.
He growled and stepped back using his hand to stem the bleeding.
“You’re going to pay for that,” he sneered.
“I doubt it,” a female voice echoed from behind the vampire. “You guys need better lines.”
Deb pushed down the wave of relief welling up. Kelly had arrived further down in the alley. She was wearing all black; Deb had to squint to make out her sister’s profile. Kelly held a knife in each hand, a clear indication she came prepared for a fight.
Glancing back at Kelly, the vampire snickered. “Well, aren’t you a pretty young thing.”
Kelly sucker punched the vampire in the face and then used her left shoulder to knock him into the wall.
Turning to her right Deb spotted Gen standing behind her.
“What’s going on here, Deb?” Gen asked.
“A little misunderstanding between these two, that’s all,” Deb answered as she turned back toward the vampire.
“Someone else is coming,” the teenager announced.
The metal door creaked at the end of the alleyway and Deb stole a glance in that direction.
“I take it there’s a problem here,” the newly arrived male declared as he proceeded to head in their direction.
Kelly turned her back on the wounded vampire to face the entity coming toward them.
“You should go back to whatever cell you just crawled out of,” Kelly warned.
The newly arriving male wore a suit and held his hands up in front of him as if to surrender.
“No need for those, Guardian,” he said to Kelly.
Deb was confused, the male seemed to be attempting to quell the situation. He was as hulking as the vampire, but there were no scars, in fact his face was almost too pretty for a demon. He wore his black hair cropped and he was clean shaven.
“Garrick, go back inside and finish your drink,” he ordered of the vampire.
“She started it,” Garrick stated as he pointed at Deb. “I’m going to finish it.”
“There is no fighting on the grounds!” he scowled at the vampire. “You know the arrangement. Now, go back inside or they won’t be the only ones asked to leave.”
With a grunt, Garrick walked toward the door. He scoffed at Kelly on his way by and she sneered back.
“What are you, the vampire whisperer?” Kelly remarked to the newly arrived male figure.
“No, I’m Ray and I’m simply trying to enforce the rules and regulations. If you don’t know them, then you probably shouldn’t—”
“I thought this place was neutral,” Deb interrupted.
“It is,” the male answered as he lowered his hands and shrugged slightly. “Mostly.”
Deb chuckled sarcastically. “Good to know.”
“I’m afraid you’ll all need to leave now.” He nodded toward the street. “If you visit again, it’s expected you’ll be less, shall we say, aggressive.”
The demon turned and walked toward the door, following Garrick back inside.
“You’re Guardians?” The teenager asked from behind her. “Why did they just leave? What do you mean by neutral?”
“I would like to know all those things and more,” Kelly said, shooting a quick glance at Deb. “Let’s start by making our way back toward the street. I assume this place has cameras since Ray knew to come out and rescue the vampire.”
Deb followed Gen and the teen out onto the street where they turned left and walked a half block up. The teen’s shiny black hair was wet from the rain and hung straight to the middle of her back.
When she stopped walking and turned back, Deb noticed her long black eye lashes and olive skin. She was naturally beautiful, even in casual clothes and an unmade face.
Deb asked the teen a series of questions. “What were you doing in there? Aggressive, what did he mean by that? Did you go inside to start a fight?”
Before the teen could answer Gen interrupted. “Maybe we could start with who she is?” The teen’s big brown eyes swung in Gen’s direction. “What’s your name?”
“Why do I have to answer all the questions first. I didn’t ask for your help.” The teen looked back at Deb. “I went into the club looking for a friend.”
“That was foolish and dangerous,” Deb commented.
“Yes, Mom,” the girl remarked sarcastically. “But, like you, I didn’t have a lot of options.”
“What do you mean, like me?” Deb asked.
“You’re here, aren’t you?” The teen deadpanned.
Kelly chuckled. “Good one.”
Deb smiled and her shoulders relaxed a bit. “I guess I am. I’m Deb and these are my sisters, Kelly and Gen.”
“My name’s Gardenia.” The girl eyed Deb cautiously. “Thank you, you know for stepping in. I didn’t know he was a vampire until I saw the black scars on his chest. It was only recently that I came to learn that vampires were real. Do they have fangs and drink human blood?”
“They don’t have fangs,” Kelly answered. “When they want your blood, they just slice you open. They’re soldiers, or at least they were until the Accord Amendment. Now, they don’t really have a purpose and human blood is toxic to them.”
Deb noticed Gardenia’s sweatshirt was torn and grew concerned. “Are you alright Gardenia? Did he hurt you?”
The girl’s eyebrows furrowed as she looked down at the torn front pocket of her sweatshirt. “This was already torn.”
“Do you want to tell me what happened in there?” Deb asked.
“It doesn’t matter anymore, I found what I was looking for,” Gardenia responded.
“And what was that?” Gen asked.
“A Guardian,” Gardenia replied. “Any chance your last name is O’Mara, and you make your home in Boston?”
“Seriously?!” Kelly squealed.
Deb was taken aback, she had never seen Gardenia before, at least not that she could remember.
Is this another thing I’ve forgotten? Deb agonized. How
many are there? How many more lost memories do I have?
About the Author:
JL Rothstein is a published author. She writes in the Fantasy genre with an affinity for the Supernatural. The first two books in the Heaven Sent series are available for order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target and Wal-Mart.com.
Atonement, the first book in the trilogy is the fictional story of the O’Mara family, nine siblings sent by Heaven to guard humans against the intrusion and interference of those in Hell. Genevieve O’Mara kills something she shouldn’t, thrusting she and her family in mortal danger. Along the way the siblings come to realize the violent confrontations and disturbing behavior they encounter can only be overcome if they have trust and faith in one another.
Jennifer was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She comes from a large Irish family and spent twelve years in Catholic school. Having three siblings herself she understands the challenges, drama, rivalries, and loyalties between siblings.
Jennifer has a BS from Suffolk University and is currently pursuing her MBA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. She is married and now resides in the central part of the state.
I’ve been stuck with the flu this week. Yep, the flu, not Covid, not a cold. I fought it for a few days, finally feeling miserable to the point of tears, and gave in. Time to follow doctor’s orders – that is, my family’s orders as well as a medical doctor’s – and stop everything and rest. I’ve come to realize that for me, at least, that has to include mental as well as physical stillness. I’ve been noticing a particular lack for a while, but this week it’s been driven home forcefully. I’ve come to rarely practice quiet and stillness within.
There’s always something to do, to think about, to plan, to learn, to listen to. As much as I enjoy and appreciate podcasts and audio books, they circumvent a meditative approach to performing chores. I would not give them up, but I should work in silence more often than I have been lately. I even got to the point that I was listening to something most of the time I was gardening. When I realized I wasn’t fully engaging with nature (duh), I stopped, at least for the most part. One small step in the right direction…
This morning, I picked up a book that I’ve had for a few years and never got around to reading, Gunilla Norris’ Inviting Silence. It's good, but so far, it hasn’t taught me anything new. That might only be because I’ve practiced yoga for almost fifty years, and I can surrender myself in contemplative prayer. But I like the book. I think it would be an excellent introduction to meditation for a beginner. Even for someone as old and wise as I am (wink, wink), it offers great reminders.
Influencers and business coaches encourage us to utilize every spare moment with activity. It’s a pro-active, “don’t waste time” mentality. Standing in line at the store? Check your email, engage with social media. In a waiting room? Make lists, review your agenda. In Inviting Silence, Ms. Norris suggests the opposite, using these moments to take an inner break, that they offer small chunks of time to practice inner silence. Just be there. Personally, I don’t love it, but I can see it as a practical and less intimidating approach to meditation, even if you just try it once a day.
Let’s be clear: taking recourse to inner calm is not wasting time.
But why? Why practice silence? Our brains need it. Our souls need it. If we’re always immersed in – and saturated by -- everything else, we only hear a babble in our heads and feel the jangling of our nerves. Pulsing, pulsing, all so fast, nonstop.
It should stop. We should stop – cease thinking for a moment. We deserve to breathe -- long, deep, fulfilling breaths – and experience true calm.
And we need to be able to be with ourselves – only ourselves – not listening to a book or a podcast or music. I’m not talking about relaxing. Or thinking. Send away every thought. Let a fresh, cool, gentle wind fill your head as you breathe.
I practiced this morning. I’m on the mend, and my head isn’t so stuffy that I can’t not think. Obviously. And I have to say, that little quiet, the brief reconnection to my own breath (which is not just physical but spirit) did wonders.
Wishing you abundant peace and joy.
I love Autumn and I love this poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906).
It's all a farce,—these tales they tell
About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o'er field and dell,
Because the year is dying.
Such principles are most absurd,—
I care not who first taught 'em;
There's nothing known to beast or bird
To make a solemn autumn.
In solemn times, when grief holds sway
With countenance distressing,
You'll note the more of black and gray
Will then be used in dressing.
Now purple tints are all around;
The sky is blue and mellow;
And e'en the grasses turn the ground
From modest green to yellow.
The seed burs all with laughter crack
On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
Are all decked out in crimson.
A butterfly goes winging by;
A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
Is bubbling o'er with laughter.
The ripples wimple on the rills,
Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
And laughs among the grasses.
The earth is just so full of fun
It really can't contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
The heavens seem to rain it.
Don't talk to me of solemn days
In autumn's time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.
Why, it's the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.
Today, I’m pleased to welcome Karen Pennington, lay minister, blogger, podcaster, and author. Karen, welcome and congratulations on your recent publication, An Anointed Mess, Discovering the Daily Adventure of Grace.
I just love that title. But before we talk about the book, will you tell us a little about yourself and your mission? You have such a fresh and down-to-earth approach to Scripture.
Thanks so much. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to share my story and my heart.
About me… I have a lot of words, but at the risk of sounding redundant, I could sum myself up using only two of them: anointed mess. I feel very flawed, yet beautiful. I have lots of issues, yet I sense and claim God’s favor upon my life. I am so messy that I can’t even tell you where my iron is, let alone the last time I used it. And yet God continually works this mess that is me into a masterpiece of a life. The key for me is to remember that it’s about God’s the artist. I’m just the paint.
To be more specific, I have four passions in life: The God of scripture, family, friendships and clearance sales, in that exact order. I currently live in Jamestown, NY with my husband of nearly 20 years and boyfriend of nearly 22 years (same guy), Ben. I still think he’s hot. We adore our daughter Ali and her husband Baker. And don’t even get me started on our granddaughter Amelia. She’s just about the best thing ever, or at least the best thing in 2,000 years.
Beautiful -- and I completely understand about grandchildren. They really are grand, aren't they?
I just finished listening to the latest episode of Daily Adventures in Grace. Your podcasts feel so warm, welcoming, and honest. They’re like a cozy chat with a friend and, like the best of chats, there’s always a valuable takeaway. Do you usually plan your podcasts or are they straight off the cuff? Is there one aspect of podcasting that is more challenging for you than others? I feel sure that for your listeners, the topics can be emotional – different ones for different people. Do your podcasts ever catch you off guard emotionally?
Thank you so much for saying that. I sometimes think of my episodes as a little messy, and I am never quite sure if that comes off as a good or bad thing to those who listen. But it’s important for what I offer to come off as 100% me.
I post every weekday, because my book claims that if we seek out the adventure of grace every day, then God will show it to us every day. So I felt the conviction to do just that. I do not think I have the right to challenge others to seek out God’s grace every day if I am not doing so myself.
I always do some sort of Bible study or devotions right before I record, but that is not always what affects the subject matter. Sometimes the episode content comes to me after a few days of thinking things through as studying, or even as a conclusion after years of study and thought on a matter. Sometimes I read or realize something just minutes before recording, and I get so excited about what God has revealed to me that I just have to share it right then and there. Sometimes- and this sounds crazy- I will pray and begin with nothing more than a sentence or two in my head, completely unsure of where God is taking me. Those are the times I pray a little extra before I hit the record button, and I am often just as surprised as anyone else would be at what God draws out of me. It truly is a daily adventure for me.
Your book, An Anointed Mess is uplifting, encouraging. How did you come up with the title? Was it the first one that came to mind? Like your podcast and blog, the tone is beautifully conversational and friendly. Please, share with us your heart’s feelings about this devotional. I ask because it’s clear your heart went into it.
You might find it interesting to know that I started the first manuscript of the book about 15 years ago. I thought I was done six months later, but God had more to write in me, and I had much more to learn. I thought at first I could use God’s Word to answer some of life’s tough questions. But somewhere along the line it became more about honoring the journey itself, and rather than trying to tidy up life’s chaos, I began to appreciate the mess.
I am not saying that we should not try to go through healing or seek out godly wisdom and understanding. But we don’t have to wait until our life’s problems are all solved (which does not happen on this side of eternity) to enjoy the grace and favor of God, nor to be used by God as an instrument of grace in others’ lives.
The book title changed about halfway through the process. I can remember two distinctive conversations. One friend once told me this: “We woman may be a hot mess, but at least we’re hot.” And someone else commented that I always seemed to be going through some sort of a struggle in life. I think that second comment was meant as an insult, but it inspired me to own my flaws. Right there something in me connected the mess with the miracle. In my mind I linked it with the original biblical concept of anointing, which literally means to pour oil all over the head of someone who has been set apart by God for a special purpose. That’s super messy. That’s extravagantly beautiful. That’s me! I want the book to help other gorgeously imperfect people see themselves there too.
Wow. Bravo! It's beautiful and brave of you to share yourself and your struggles in order to lift up and encourage others. Is there another book on the burner? Do you have special blogs, podcasts, or anything else planned for the holidays?
Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I have A LOT of words, and I use them often. I blog about once a week. I do Youtube posts, which I convert to podcasts, about five times a week. I post daily Scripture verses, midday quotes on weekdays, and a smattering of resources, shares and just plain silly thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkIn, along with the occasional pictures on Instagram and Pinterest.
I just wrote a short eBook devotional called “10 Healing Truths from God’s Word.” It is a free gift that I send out weekly to all new subscribers to my “Words of Grace” newsletter. This book forms the seeds of a longer, more in depth book I am developing called “Not Flawless, but Perfect: A Journey from Wholeness to Healing.” All of this, along with my personal contact information, can be found at my personal website, karenmariepennington.com.
It all sounds wonderful. Thank you.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this interview, I am just so grateful for the chance to share my story and my heart. Everybody’s story matters, and everyone’s life is an adventure, whether they know it or not. And God has amazing plans for everyone reading this. We just need to let God in.
Thank you for joining us today, Karen, and for the wonderful, generous work you do. May God bless you in all your endeavors.
An Anointed Mess: Discovering the Daily Adventure of Grace
by Karen Pennington
Whether our struggles seem big or small, life changing, or merely mildly annoying, we generally just want God to take them away. But what if we changed our mindset to instead seek God’s grace in the midst of these difficulties?
Author Karen Pennington considers grace the key to experiencing God’s victory, transformation, and peace in the everyday chaos as well as in the major life challenges. An Anointed Mess: Discovering the Daily Adventure of Grace will inspire you to not only seek God’s grace but also become a bearer of this heavenly gift, ultimately empowering you to manage life’s ups and downs with joy, faith, and integrity.
Karen beautifully weaves personal experiences with biblical parallels and common burdens of today that intimately connect us with one another, such as anxiety, forgiveness, weakness, shame, and control. Engaging and easy to read, An Anointed Mess will benefit the reader as either a personal devotional or a group study. Each chapter includes insightful questions encouraging you to discover how God’s Word and grace intersect with your own story.
Quotes from the book:
The Bible is the world’s largest anthology of seriously messed-up people.
I love that God’s Word does not merely outline a bunch of spotless, picture-perfect personalities and lifestyles that I could never attain.
But the landscape of life is far richer than the peaks and lows, and the Lord is the architect of it all.
We easily forget that the Lord has an extraordinary ability to bring about the most amazing results out of the most seemingly ordinary circumstances.
I believe that God can grant any of us victory and peace right within the struggle, while at the same time constantly moving us forward in grace.
As we learn to receive and live by God’s merciful power and plan, we become both witnesses to and bearers of heavenly grace.
In fact, it shatters the powers of darkness in unspeakable ways when we choose to persist as warriors praising and worshipping God even when our emotions and circumstances beg us to retreat.
We cannot in any way resemble God if we do not to some degree possess in our innermost core an intense yearning for what is good and right.
As we come to God openly and honestly with whatever we feel, God will be faithful to walk us through it all, and even to work it all for our good.
Sometimes it takes a total break to lead to complete healing and restoration.
Available at Amazon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A devotional blogger committed to seeking the excellence, fun, and wisdom of God in daily living, Karen Pennington also has written and published Christian magazine articles. Her career has centered on education and Christian ministry, including local, regional, and national lay ministries; curriculum development; and conference and seminar planning. Karen now enjoys substitute teaching and serving at her church. She and her husband, Bill, live in Jamestown, New York, and consider church and Sunday family dinners—with granddaughter Amelia (the light of their lives), daughter Aletha, and son-in-law Baker—the highlight of each week. Second to being in the presence of those she loves, Karen’s happy places are the beach and in the middle of a good clearance sale.
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Slowly, slowly the world is illuminated,
silvery twilight revealing
all that was just hidden.
The veil of night, comforting or intimidating,
retreats to the other side of the earth.
What is revealed in me?
Has my darkness also retreated?
It should, for it is a new day.
Is it a gift or a challenge?
Surely, it’s both.
Twilight fades quickly.
The sun, in all its glorified glory,
tells me yes, this day is a gift
and a challenge set before me.
Firmly. Gently. With a smile.
I lift my coffee mug
in acknowledgement and acceptance.
I send up a prayer of thanks and petition.
The sky, all bright dawn, winks at me.
My heart lifts. Another day…
Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy that does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children. – Gibran Khalil Gibran