Good Links (The Pipe and Coffee Edition)

*This Euro-Shade coffee from Onyx Coffee Lab and the hand carved pipe from Uganda (courtesy Mike Rusch) are two of my favorite things these days. I thought I'd share them with you because they're just so pretty. Last night, a small group gathered in the party-room at Copeland's of New Orleans in celebration of Lisa Jo Baker, whose gypsy ways had carried her to Arkansas for a spit. It was a good night filled with conversation about things which I cannot now share, because as my new friend Steve Boss says, Copeland's is the Bourbon Street of Rogers. And as my grandma used to say (long before Las Vegas stole her quip), "what happens on Bourbon street stays on Bourbon Street."

(If you would like, and at some later date, we can discuss how my grandmother first took me to Bourbon street when I was twelve, and can further discuss the efficacy of life lessons learned on that iconic boulevard in my tender years.)

After supper, Amber and I lay in bed sipping tea when Lisa Jo left a message. It went something like this, "I've been traveling, and I'm tired, and I have no words left because motherhood stole them all from me, and would you be kind enough to submit a five minute free write on the word 'visit' in the next ten minutes?"

A Challenge? Why yes, indeed! I love a challenge.

And that brings us to our weekly roundup of good links.


1.  Join me today at Lisa Jo's Five Minute Friday free writing prompt. After you read along, jot one yourself. Not familiar with the prompt? It's simple. Sit and write for five minutes about a particular word of Lisa Jo's choosing. This week's word is "visit." Set a timer. Grab a pen, and go! No editing. No second thoughts.

2.  It seems that Facebook is always tinkering with it's site, always trying to attract more users in hopes that it will not go the way of MySpace. This week, the social media network announced that it would again be tinkering with its page algorithms in an effort to make it easier for page managers to share content. What was the problem? I'm glad you asked. Amber shares in her piece "Advice for Bloggers,"

Bloggers, when you link to a blog on Facebook, add the link using only your right hand to type. The tongue should stick out to the left. Set your laptop down. Do a few pirouettes, and then press Enter. That should do it. My friend Lora Lynn thinks you should also spit, but that’s debatable because she’s from Alabama...

3.  Many of you know of my love for Tweetspeak Poetry. They're bringing poetry back to the people, I say, and they're doing it one challenge at a time. For instance, consider their challenge to the poetry-averse Sandra Heska King,

“We’d like you to read not just a poem a day but a poem from one particular poet a day. (That is, the same poet every day.) And that poet, for reasons we have yet to discover, isT.S. Eliot.

Don't miss this piece at Tweetspeak poetry about the 30 day poetry dare.

4. Finally, this week Grace Biskie asked an important question--"what are you supposed to tell your sons about the Black Woman chair?" What's the black woman chair, you ask? Don't miss Grace's piece this week. It's that important.


I feel so terrible about dropping One Direction videos on the blog this week. I'm here to make up for it. I'm leaving with you a few stellar pieces. I hope you enjoy.

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.

St. George of the Bayou

My grandfather was larger than life. He was equal parts family patriarch, successful businessman, Louisiana conservationist, charismatic motivational leader, and friend to nearly all who met him. When I was a young boy, my grandfather, who was known by some as a master story-teller, would sit for hours in an old wooden rocking chair overlooking the bayou. On occasion, he'd pull me into his lap and tell me the grandest stories. But there was none he loved to tell more than the legend of St. George. "Sit in my lap, boy," he'd say, "and let me tell you about my namesake." He'd lower his voice to a near whisper and start, "once upon a time...."

I'd be honored if you'd follow this story to it's conclusion. But in the meantime (and while you're here) tell me: who was the master story-teller in your family? What made them such a good yarn-spinner? *****

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo by  Caden Crawford, 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!)

The Surreal

Many of you know about my work at Tweetspeak Poetry, that grand website that brings poetry to the people. Every time I pen something for Tweetspeak, I want to shout "viva la revolucion," want to send a note to the ivory-tower poets and tell them that we--the little people--are taking poetry back.

This month at Tweetspeak we're exploring themes of surrealism, which should be both challenging and a good bit of fun. And every month,  I put together a bit of a playlist around the theme. This month's playlist features songs that use extreme juxtapositions or unusual associations. Here is a bit of a sampler.

Visit Tweetspeak for the introduction to the month's theme, the full playlist, and a poetry (or short story) prompt. I think you'll love what they're doing over there.

In other news, I'll probably go a bit lighter on my personal writing this month. I'm still working through last month's prosperity posts, mulling them over. (I hope you are too.) I'm also working on a longer bit of fiction and I'd like to start finalizing a good first draft.

In this quieter season, I invite you to like my Facebook page and/or subscribe to the blog. I'll be dropping updates there (and on twitter) from time to time so that you can know when I'm back here on a more regular basis, which by my estimation will likely be December.

Head on over to Tweetspeak and create something surreal!

Original photo by SPDP, Creative Commons via Flickr.