Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: gnarled oak

Gnarled Oak: A New Start

I used to have two blogs, but a few years ago that stopped making sense. At the time, I could barely keep this one going so I closed up a gnarled oak and started publishing my micropoems here. After two years, I’ve decided to do something new with the site so I relaunched it as Gnarled Oak, an online literary journal:

The idea developed as I was putting together a new poetry collection, and while proofing the acknowledgments page, I realized that most of the journals that had published some of the poems in that collection had shut down: qarrtsiluniouroboros reviewBolts of SilkThe Houston Literary Review, and a handful of stones. Literary journals are often transient things, but some of these were true favorites, and a handful of stones was where I got my first acceptance for a poem.

Now, I don’t know if the world needs another online literary journal, but I’m pretty sure it won’t hurt anything to add a little literature, art, and beauty to the web, and anyway I had this site and URL doing nothing, so I figured it might be fun and worthwhile to see what might grow here at this old Gnarled Oak. And if I can do this even half as well as the editors of the above-mentioned journals did, I will be very happy indeed.

I hope you’ll check it out and consider submitting. I’m reading for the Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 issues. The first issue will be a micropoetry, microprose, micro-whatever issue. Go, on, now. Check it out.

Plunging Back into the River of Stones

I saw this video Beth Adams posted at Cassandra Pages a month or so ago and keep coming back to it as I start off on another River of Stones challenge. I began 2011 the same way and resolved to maintain the daily practice for a full year, at least. I made it to August 23 and then… school started, I ran out of ways to say the drought was slowly killing my state, it was too hot and the air too full of smoke and ash to want to go outside. Other things to do, and then, the world just went right on. It started raining (not enough, but it did) the weather cooled, I started sleeping again and then the year was at its end.

For the previous two years I’ve picked some favorite stones and made them into a chapbook to give away, but there wasn’t one for 2011. I just didn’t have time, couldn’t make the time (but mark did and he said his lovely Postmarks chap was partially inspired by my gnarled oaks) and then… I don’t know, I just wound up feeling like I’d let go of something important that I hadn’t meant to let slip and that was the practice of seeing, paying attention, and then recording my observations. I don’t know if it makes me a better writer to do this, I suppose it does, but I do think it makes me a better, or perhaps, more thoughtful person. As I’ve done before here, I paraphrase Pirsig in Motorcycle Maintenance: you are the cycle you’re working on. Writing stones isn’t about the writing, it’s about growing by connecting with a world spinning so fast as to seem out of control.

We have bags of clothes our six-month-old has outgrown. When we went to buy him some new clothes, we were shocked by how small all the three-month-old clothes were. Was he ever really that small? Where did the time go and how on earth did it disappear so quickly. It was only just July.

So, marking time, reflecting on it and slowing it and me down enough to really reside for a few moments in its stream… those are good reasons to start afresh observing and writing stones. As the video above reminds us each year is a collection of days, each kind of the same but passing quickly, sometimes too fast for the eye to take much of it beyond the larger picture. Thus the beauty, the importance, of small stones and the kind of awareness they engender when we set out to really pay attention.

Thanks, Fiona and Kaspa, for the river. I’m eager to dive back in.

I post my stones at my other blog, a gnarled oak. Please stop by and hopefully I’ll make it beyond August 23 this time out.

A Texas Highway in Springtime

The soaring hawks who patrolled this highway
through the winter watched as wildflowers grew.
As if the sky were napping on the earth,
the fields in spring explode in deepest blue.

Fields mirror sky and fill with the shadows
of hawks and vultures flying through flowers.
Bipedal hairless apes swarm through the fields,
teeth bared, pointing rectangles at each other.

In just a few more weeks, the bluebonnets
will wither and be swallowed by the grass.
Then the soaring hawks will get their fields back
as, ignoring green, the apes just drive on past.

This was first published at Bolts of Silk (thanks, Juliet!) back in May 2009. I figured I’d share it here now since it’s springtime and our awesome Texas wildflowers are starting to show up along the highways. Also, I’m busy and getting over a cold so it’s a good time for posting reruns of a sort.

Caroline at Caroline at Coastcard [Land & Lit] wrote some very nice things about last year’s gnarled oak chapbook. They’re all gone now, but you can still read them online (though apparently not if you’re using an iphone).

Dave Bonta is running a cool little contest over at Moving Poems wherein contestants will produce a videopoem using Howie Good’s poem “Fable.” I’m almost done with my entry. Deadline is April 15. Check it out.

2010 Gnarled Oak Chapbook

What you see above is the electronic version of last year’s a gnarled oak chapbook. I made one as a holiday gift in 2009 for family, friends and lucky blog readers. It went over so well, I did it again last year. I was surprised to see how many people actually liked getting a handmade book of poetry and when I offered it to blog readers, I was again surprised by the response. Who’d have thunk something this simple could would go over so well.

The experience of making and then giving these things away has been so rewarding, I wish I had more to give, but 50 is the number and when they’re gone, they’re gone. I have just 3 left. If you want one, let me know. They’re free and I’ll send them anywhere.

Two blogging poets whose work I greatly admire were kind enough to write nice things about it on their blogs. First, Fiona Robyn wrote about it on her Writing Our Way Home blog (and gave the post a title that would make any longtime Austinite smile). Be sure to check out Fiona’s new (and free) e-book How to Write Your Way Home. Also, Sherry Chandler wrote a very nice post about it as well. Make sure you check out Sherry’s wonderful e-chapbook at Dead Mule School of Southern Literature: Firing on Six Cylinders.

Update: …and they’re gone.

Just a Tributary in a River of Stones

I’m participating this new month in Fiona Robyn and Kaspa’s River of Stones, the international small stones writing month. A small stone “is a polished moment of paying proper attention.” Fiona has been kind enough to publish a few of my stones over the past few years at her small stone journal a handful of stones, and you can go there for some examples. Or better yet, visit the River of Stones and follow the links on the blogroll to see some of the stones people are writing this month.

I’m posting my stones over at a gnarled oak, where I publish my micro-poems. They’re also cross-posted at Twitter, Identi.ca and Facebook. Additionally, I’ll probably post a weekly summary of them here. Maybe.

My stones typically show up as haiku, though not always. Here’s today’s:

The great blue heron
stands in the still creekside grass.
Patient as stone.

Also, I made another gnarled oak chapbook of my favorite micro-poems from 2010. It’s a holiday gift I make for family and friends, and I save a few for blog readers. If you’d like one, use the contact page to let me know and tell me where to send it. I’ve got 10 to give away here. They’re free and I’ll mail them anywhere. Go here to have a look at the digital version of last year’s.

a gnarled oak Review

Poet Sherry Chandler wrote a very nice review of my chapbook a gnarled oak over on her site.

For those who may not know, I made a chapbook as a holiday gift for family, friends and lucky blog readers who asked. It’s a collection of some of my micro-poems that have appeared on my other (micro-poetry) blog a gnarled oak over the past year. I cross post them on Twitter and Identi.ca for those who are into the social web.

Of the ones reserved for blog readers, I still have 2 left. If you’d like one, use the contact form to get in touch and tell me where to mail it.

Sherry posts her micro-poems on Identi.ca under the moniker Bluegrass Poet.

Psst. Hey, Buddy, Want a Free Chapbook?

I made a simple chapbook of some of the micro-poems I’ve been posting on my other blog, Identi.ca and Twitter as a holiday gift for family and friends.

The poems are frequently about birds and were written on (or shortly after) the weekly walks I take on the neighborhood trails, the daily walks I take at lunchtime, or just the goings on in my backyard.

I saved a few copies to give away to blog readers since I appreciate y’all stopping by. If you want one, I’ve got five three to give away here. Just use the contact form to send me a mailing address, and it will be on its way.

Hai(perlinked)ku

gauzy clouded sky,
like ink bleeding through paper
unreadable blue

This week’s Read Write Poem prompt (#74: Hyperlink Your Poetry) was to hyperlink a poem and try to add a bit of depth. I wanted to try to hyperlink every word so I chose a haiku I wrote yesterday. In addition to hyperlinking, I decided to make use of the HTML title attribute so that when readers mouse over the words, there will be something to read that perhaps adds (or perhaps removes) something from the poem.

What emerges is essentially an annotated poem. Mousing over the individual words will reveal one of the following: a related haiku/mircopoem, word associations, a question, wordplay or process notes. Following the links will lead to other (sort of) related sites.

I tried to think of each word individually to see where associations would take me both in terms of what I wrote and the sites to which I linked.

Follow the links, too. Especially that last one.

For those who may want to play with the title attribute, here’s an example using the HTML for the word bleeding in the poem:

<a href=”http://www.xacto.com/” title=”how many times while cutting mattes have i bled for my art?”>bleeding</a>

Haiku (and Haiku-like things) for Spring

Pipevine Swallowtail

Pipevine Swallowtail

A young oak trembles:
the dying gusts of winter.
Flowers in the grass.

An hour before sunrise,
rain drizzles through the trees.
A wren sings nearby.

Swallows fill the sky,
returning on springtime winds,
far above our kites

Just water on the pond—
the ducks have gone north.

Clouds cross a daytime moon.
Jays work on a nest.

At migration’s end,
a scissor-tailed flycatcher
perches on a wire.

I build my garden
and plan my meals.

The birds watch
and plan theirs.

hailstones
rip through trees
and melt

Spring’s first hummingbird
huddles against the cold.
Waiting for the sun.

These are for Read Write Prompt #72: Spring Is Sprung. I’ve been bogged down with other projects (a video, a series of poems, my job) so these are taken from my other blog, a gnarled oak, where I publish haiku and haiku-like things about nature (mostly). I’ve been writing a number of spring-themed poems there so I pulled some to share here. I also cross-post most of these to Twitter, so if you’re into this sort of thing, you can check that out too.

Happy spring!

Spring Flower

My Other Blog: a gnarled oak

I started another blog about a month ago, but kept it under my hat until I had a name for it. The name came this week: a gnarled oak.

It’s from this haiku I wrote last week:

I watched and listened—
a gnarled oak full of stories,
birds turned into words

a gnarled oak is a microblog where I’ll be posting short observational poem-like things mostly about birds and nature.

This started from my experiments with Twitter (you can follow me on Twitter where the gnarled oak stuff is automatically be cross-posted). The notion of posting every moment of one’s life is kind of silly so I just twittered short little poem-things and haiku. I discovered there are a lot of people who do this. Many quite well. I wanted a more personal and simpler space for these besides Twitter, and I discovered Tumblr, a microblogging platform that works nicely for this.

The things I post there are the things that often got written and lost in my paper journals, but after being inspired by a small stone, a handful of stones, The Morning Porch, TWITTERKU, Open Micro, Paiku, Haiku Habits, Full Moon of November, Oversouled and numerous others whose RSS feeds and tweets I’ve been enjoying, I decided to have a go at this style of blogging. Many of these sites are powered by Tumblr and that’s how I found it, so thanks to all of those for inspiring me.

Coyote Mercury is still my main joint, but you’ll find these other bits of writing that seem too small for a “full-size” blog laid out for large images at a gnarled oak where they won’t be overwhelmed and can kind of live by themselves in a simpler region of the blogosphere that lacks sidebars, comments, spam, and upgrades.

Check out a gnarled oak and have a look around. There’s even an rss feed for those who use readers.

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