Become a Better Writer: Fly Fishing Artist Date (A TWEETSPEAK PIECE)

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things—trout as well as eternal salvation—come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”  ― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories


On the slick underside of cool river rocks, the sow bugs hide. I turn stones over, watch one scurry for cover under the stone next door, watch its brother try to burrow deep into the mud. I reach into the shallow water, grab a fistful of pebbles. Opening my hand, mud spreads across my palm; pebbles fall from the edges and splink into the water. The sow bug, known more commonly as the “roly poly,” is there, exposed. He has rolled into a ball, his best attempt at hide-and-seek, his attempt to look for all the world like a perfectly round pebble. The ball-like symmetry of his curled exoskeleton gives him away, though.

I grab him between my thumb and forefinger and fling him into the channel. He is my offering to the keepers of this stretch of river, and before I can count to two, I see the metallic flash of trout against the morning sun. The rainbow trout is a magnificent mirror when turned at the right angle, its pink and silver side throwing light back past the surface.

The rainbow trout is the most magnificent of God’s creation, I think. He is a slender fish, long and lean with a feminine fancy for pink. He is a fighter on the fly line, will hold his breath and dive up through the surface, will thrash his head to shake a hook loose, will run till he is wooed to the bank by the gentlest fisherman. He comes into the angler’s waiting hand with delicate reluctance, almost in reverence.  ... Continue reading at Tweetspeak Poetry.


Image by Michael/Literary Mind. Creative Commons license via Flickr.


The Girl With The Peony Tattoo

Ownership of cyber real estate has its privileges, among which is affording the owner the right to scrawl about that which he likes most. Granted, if one is attempting to build a steady flow of high-volume internet traffic, it's best to write about provocative things, or things for which one might not care so much, or things that are tricky, or witty, or snarky and such. This inevitably brings the people back for more, so I am told, and I confess that there is a grand and high art to the practice. My artistry in this manner lacks, however.

This being the case, I'm opting for something a bit different, at least for today. Today, I'm stretching into beauty--only beauty.

One thing I know: when you're exploring beauty, it's best to start with the most beautiful thing you know, the measuring stick, if you will. For me, that's an easy call.

amber-tattoo-300x214Yes, that's my wife. I've written about her a lot here. Some may get tired of it, but, again, I'm here to write about that which I like. Among all people, places, and things, I like her best. (Note, I say "like" which is intentional. Anyone can love his wife, but like? Now, that's a gift.)

Today, visit me at Tweetspeak Poetry where I write about Amber's peony tattoo, the way it is a metaphor for her, the way she is a walking poem.

And, as always, thanks for following along with me in this space.

The Opalescent Swallow

As you have no doubt figured by now, I hold down a steady gig with the good folks at Tweetspeak Poetry. I don't always cross-post to my stuff there, but I was particularly fond of today's piece and thought I'd share it. (By the way, thanks for bearing with me during this moving phase. The Haines house is neck deep in foam peanuts.) In Randy Laney’s field, the grasshoppers and katydids rubbed leg against forewing, and wing against wing; their songs were the rising crescendos and falling diminuendos of one thousand cabinet doors creaking opened and closed, and opened and closed again–all in rhythm, ad infinitum. In the center of the field, from the knee-high grass, rose three poles, which climbed some twenty feet to their terminus where the Purple Martin tenements balanced. The homes were white-washed over winter because, as Randy Laney said, the miniature siding was beginning to splotch green with age and the Purple Martin is a well-to-do bird, a passerine with no fancy for the unkempt.

The male Martin perched on a white-sheathed wire connecting his condominium to the next, the opalescent swallow gleaming as if freshly oiled, as if being greased to slide through the remarkably undersized front door of his summer home. He clung to the line, chippering and cheeping toward us. It was a welcome, not a warning.

Continue reading at Tweetspeak.  Photo by  Jenny Downing, Creative Commons via Flickr.

Battle of the Beverages (Another Coffee Prompt)

coffee poetry promptThere is no doubt, we are becoming a coffee culture. Across America, soccer moms have traded Diet Coke cans for paper cups of their favorite double-shot lattes. Working stiffs pull single servings of barely palatable stuff from the Keurig. Hipsters eschew all other permutations of joe for a mug of single-batch Harrar (chemex brewed, of course). It's intriguing, I think, the way our various subcultures have adapted the drink to their own particular styles. This nationwide trend is felt acutely in my medium-sized university town, where we boast no less than thirteen coffee shops, the majority of which opened their doors in the last ten years.  We have local artisan roasters, expert cuppers, and graduate students who prepare well-researched papers regarding the socioeconomic effects of corporate coffee plantations on local farmers. Here, the university has influenced us, so we mostly take our coffee with a bit of cream and a spoonful of pseudo-academic sweetener. And we take it by the jugful.

*If you ever enjoyed a writing prompt, today's your day to participate. Visit me at Tweetspeak for more. (This is a fun one!)

How Do You Take It? (A Coffee Poetry Prompt)

coffee poetry promptThere  is  a man who beats me to the local coffee house at least once a week.  He's rugged, wears flannel and combat boots. His beard, unkempt and longish. His eyes, deeply inset. The barista asks him whether he'd like room for cream. He tells her cream  is only good when it's fronted by Eric Clapton, and catechizes that...

For the rest of this piece (and a bit of a writing prompt to boot), follow me over to Tweetspeak Poetry for our Coffee/Tea prompt series.

Photo by John Pastorello, Creative Commons via Flickr.