View from the Top

I climbed my first tree before I was five. Got stuck. Screamed. Daddy had to walk two miles home from work in the middle of a hot West Virginia afternoon and rescue me. Like a cat, I finally learned not to climb down head-first. For the next XX years (I'd say how many, but no one would believe it) I spent time in the tops of trees, where I learned some of life's most important skills -- and pleasures. I'd say what they were (and are) but that would be telling. And you know what they say -- writers should show, not tell. So kick off your shoes and shimmy on up. Join me here surrounded by blue sky and little green leaves. Bring a book if you like, or a notebook. The apples up here are crisp and ripe and free for the picking.

Friday, October 22, 2010


In Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being she quotes one Ralph Harper as asking, “Why should one not try to imagine his arms around Being?”  And I wonder, How does one come to consider that?

When, in her on-foot exploration of the Mediterranean lands, Dillard discovers the source of the River Jordan, she describes the spot as a “seep at the earth’s crust.” 

“In all this sober glory,” she continues, “something surprising appeared.  I saw something moving.”

Though my curiosity is fierce – what is this Something? -- I lay the book aside, needing to hold the moment, let the anticiipation seep through me, here in my chair. 

My breakfast is on a small table beside me. I pick up my coffee and take a sip, then lift my eyes to find the dog solemnly watching as I choose a slice of banana. 

I notice, in the black fur of the cat in my lap, a sesame seed fallen from my bagel.  The cat shifts, sneezes, settles back into sleep. 

            My own Being.  My own sober glory.  I pick up the book.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I am a fool for story, and so when I was given a small paperback of Carson McCullers’s The Ballad of the Sad CafĂ© and Other Stories, I have been reading them slowly, spacing them out as if they were nuggets of Godiva chocolate. 
Last night there was “Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland,” this morning with breakfast “The Sojourner,” a poignant little piece in which John Ferris, businessman and world traveler, stops to visit his former wife Elizabeth and her family and is struck by the obvious joy and rightness of their lives.  Though the story is flawless -- not a phrase or image too much or too little, no unfortunate slide into sentimentality -- and though at the end I was consumed with longing and melancholy, these are not why I am writing of it here. 
No.  What I felt at the end of this short piece was an overwhelming urge to caress the book itself with its flimsy cover, its pulp pages.  If it hadn’t been so melodramatic, I would have clutched it to my breast and moaned.  Now, I can’t imagine doing that with a Kindle.

Monday, October 11, 2010


“If the road is dark and you have not a light, close your eyes.  Rest them for when the light appears.” 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


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All of your favorite FINISHING LINE PRESS titles, including my own, What I Can Count On, are or will be available at this site. 

To view all chapbookss available from FINISHING LINE PRESS, go to link their website,,  
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