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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Elements of The Soul: A Review of the Anthology

So, there's this writer's forum I'm a member of named Accentuate Writers Forum at: Out of that forum came two anthologies titled Elements of the Soul (available at
 and Elements of Time (available at

Elements of the Soul

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed every story and poem, I feel compelled to provide a review for each:

“Jasper” by Lucinda Gunnin is the first entry in “Elements of the Soul”, an anthology of short fiction and poetry published by Twin Trinity Media.
Good whodunit. Made me glad I’m mortgaged, no landlord comes knocking on my door! 

“Cicada Song” by Randy Barefoot, the first poem in the “Elements of the Soul” anthology, sings to me like a lullaby whisper from a most leisurely moment of a child’s being. Material toys are forgotten. Time stands still to make space for a time long gone, a time so imbedded in memory that it transcends to the present and makes a mist of the future.

“The Fire” by novelist Jennifer Walker is the second short story offered in “Elements of the Soul”. “The Fire” captures the reader’s heart even as the author provides scraps of education on interacting with horses (how to calm them, how to lead them, how to love them) and why a horse without a saddle makes for a very uncomfortable ride.

“Flames of Love” by Susan Sosbe is the second poem in the “Elements of the Soul” anthology. The poet leaps at love’s promise, feeding the look, touch, scent and kiss of a vampire mistaken for soulmate. Love is consumed by a ravenous taker and miserly giver. By the time the mesmerizing one is satiated and departed, the host, though not dead, may as well be so.

“Last Caress” by Steven Thor Gunnin is the third short story presented in “Elements of the Soul. Gunnin knows how to excavate the most altruistic and most putrid instincts of people barely holding on to physical, emotional and mental survival. Mary wants to be left alone to steep in her shame and what ifs. Frank desperately struggles to hold on to his sense of purpose in life. Mike may be more of a contagion than the undead lurking outside the walls of his parasitic existence. Each of the three desires some kind of intimacy with one another, if only to feel some solace, acceptance before the end. Frank wants to touch Mary’s soul. Mike wants to stroke and penetrate Mary’s body. Mary only wants to feel like a woman again. Steven Thor Gunnin peers microscopic into his creations with the knowledge of just what frightened creatures we all are.

“Rise” by award winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis, is the third poem offered in “Elements of the Soul”. “Rise” speaks of the heat of the day, the chill of the night, of love maintaining and surmounting all discomfort, all weaknesses. Love dares to embrace the return of embryonic total dependency, melting and flowing into a single whole river of Life, ever rising above the banks, flooding and making whole all the poet’s world.

“Love and Loss” by Lindsay Maddox, the 4th short story offered in “Elements of the Soul”, spins the ghost of O’Henry into a tale that is so emotionally crippling it will haunt the reader forever. The gun Lindsay Maddox aims so sure at our hearts makes certain, no matter the number of times “Love & Loss” be read, tears will swell the eyes and drop, like from dripping faucets, down your cheeks, even while your heart cries out for mercy.

“The Voice of Violence” by Angel Sharum. is the 4th poem offered in “Elements of the Soul” and packs a cornucopia of emotions: regret, relief, sorrow, loss, resentment, acceptance and horror. Here fire not only destroys a house and the lives trapped within, but reduces to ash the home’s sordid past, liberating the survivor to pursue an existence free of family shames, but, also, devoid of the few “treasures” clung to before the inferno. For the poet, a buried past offers a reincarnated future: a fresh chance of a better life for the one who can turn, walk away and forget.

 “Healing Scars” by Jo Brielyn is the 5th short story offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”, an appropriate pause to reflect after reading witness to the internal wounds festering in the lives of those portrayed in stories and poems already read. “Healing Scars” shuns pity, patronizing, and the darker elements of revulsion and shocked stares. It is a Christmas story, after all: a time to appreciate things could be worse, even when they are.

“Autumnal Reverie” is is the 5th poem and the 2nd by award winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. Wind whips down through the forest roof, rocking the dangling multi-colored leaves and stirring the fallen that carpet the floor. In the rustling, does the poet feel and smell the breath of angels? In her place of worship, the poet walks on holy ground, inspired to reverence, allowed in Eden until the gates close.

“Troy Spencer” by George Kramer is the 6th short story offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. After a five-year failure to communicate, Troy and his sister Joan are forced to open a dialogue with one another upon the death of their mother. Troy is determined to learn why Joan hates him so much. Joan, however, tries her best avoid the discussion. The reader will be surprised when Joan’s reason for the estrangement boils to the surface, resulting in an unanticipated reversal of reader sympathy from brother to sister.

“Heat from the Road” by Felicity Tillack is the 6th poem offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. The poet’s soul has self-committed to prison Earth: a “muddy slog” where Life is a dirty “job” and locked, single file, to the chain gang of the filthy masses. The poet cannot ignore her psychic sense of being a stranger in a strange sun-baked land. The planet is Hell; all walking nowhere, their feet only digging themselves deeper onto a “dingy hole”, hope for escape only in death.

“Flood of Tears” by M. Lori Motley is the 7th short story offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. There is evil in the belly of a small town. One evil has been removed, quarantined; yet more festers beneath the faces of those who judge the innocent as well as the guilty. Human decency breaks down like a crippled old truck in a deluge of rain.

“When the Rain Comes” by Jo Brielyn is the 7th poem offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. The poet speaks of the storm within expelled; the released storm darkens the sky even as the poet’s soul becomes brighter. Thunder shakes the earth, but the poet’s soul no longer trembles. Lightening rips apart the sky, yet her soul’s ragged edges soften until returned to the smoothness of its youthful, innocent incarnation. Tears escape her eyes and are recycled, multiplied in billions, to make the rain, all whipped by the wind born of her discontent. For a moment, the poet can relish being free of the storm, revived as the rain whips against her face on its journey back to the deepest depths of her soul.

“Purgatory” by Steven Thor Gunnin is the 8th short story offering in “Elements of the Soul”. Once again, Gunnin (author of “Last Caress”, the 4th of the stories offered in the anthology) sets a small stage (this time The Body Shop Saloon), where four huddled characters are gathered around a table. Gunnin opens the tale like a campfire story, with a circle of drinks substituting for flames and long draws on cigarettes for the glow on faces. The storyteller is an orderly in a morgue—and, man, does he have a story to tell his nervous audience—reserving his vengeful plans for them all to the very end.

“Summer Heat” is the 2nd short story by M. Lori Motley and the 9th offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. In her previous “Flood of Tears”, Motley tried to balance the worst instincts of her characters with a few decent souls. “Summer Heat”, however, is devoid of any characters the reader can find sympathy for. Thieves, bullies, animal abusers and unsolved murders are the ingredients for a this hot Motley soup, best enjoyed with crackers in bed.

“Love Burns” by Lucinda Gunnin, the author of the first offering (“Jasper”) in the anthology “Elements of the Soul” begins the anthology’s 10th short story with all the joy and innocent dating opportunities of a teenager oblivious to the possibility of recklessly gambling away her young life. No doubt, some married readers of “Love Burns” will find the tale touches their own lives too intimately. Not-yet-married readers may find a warning that echoes with a sense of unease about their current lovers. Sometimes the cover of a romance truthfully speaks of the wonders inside. Sometimes it lies.

“Guilty Pleasure” by Angel Sharum is the eighth poem offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul” The poem is short, but blunt to the unmistakable point that the ecstasy of elicit love under the moon is worth all the risks faced in the mundane light of day.

“The Darkest Night” by Susan Sosbe (author of the poem “Flames of Love”) exposes a mystic secret in the 11th short story offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. Sosbe’s elderly narrator, Alyse, is dying, though, she knows, neither for the first time nor for the last. She only mourns the loss, years before, when a much younger Alyse defied, out of a driving hunger for vengeance, a firm rule of the cosmos: The harm done to others, no matter how justified, will rebound ten-fold on the one whom inflicts that harm. Young Alyse called upon evil to destroy its own henchmen; yet knowing, by so conjuring, she was jeopardizing the lives of her deeply loved and loving husband and their children. In “The Darkest Night” the price of vengeance kills more than the avenger ever intended.

“Earthbound” is the 3rd poem by award winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis and the 9th poem offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. Reborn in the merging of her soul with her lover in “Rise” and made holy in the Eden of “Autumn Reverie”, the poet, now, pleads for transcendence, rescue, in “Earthbound”. All to be desired has deserted her. Poor and defeated, she has come to feel the pain and the entrapment of gravity’s invisible chains, pulling her onto her knees, compelling her to pray to “the ones” who exiled her here, “Please, take me back.”

“The Assignment” is the second short story by “The Fire” author Jennifer Walker and the 12th offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. Forced by her mother, under threat of tuition cut-off, to complete a 1500 word essay, to not fail college English again, the narrator complains, “Why can’t she understand I’m a free spirit and I have to go where my muse takes me?” “A free spirit should not be confined by anything as mundane as homework. A free spirit should not be confined by grammar rules and quadratic equations. It’s my participle. Sometimes it dangles.”
“The Assignment” brings out the reader’s affection for the hapless narrator. The reader will laugh. The reader will be gleeful for each and every word the narrator carves out to slowly whittle down 1500 words to 1455. The reader will remember this story as the one to revisit whenever a smile is needed.

“Kleio” is the sole short story by award winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis and the 13th offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”. The story is about found treasure disguised as an earth-crusted piece of junk. Surely most who read this story have experienced “the find”: from find-a-penny-pick-it-up-all-day-long-you’ll-have-good-luck, to a lost ring in a sofa, to something forgotten in the attic. Marney finds her treasures at a favorite flea market. Pushing a baby’s buggy that holds her finds, Marney discovers, under a junky assortment in a box, Marney discovers a mysterious dried muddy baby rattle. Rescued by Marney for a dime, she nurses away the rattle’s layers of gunk and takes the readers on a treasure hunt centuries back in time.

“Fly” by Rissa Watkins is the 14th and the last short story offered in the anthology “Elements of the Soul”.  Watkins opens “Fly” with a past event, and then fast-forwards the years to complete a circle. The past and the present becomes a singular moment in time, paused only briefly in a kind of game of musical wheelchairs. It is always sad to confront the decline of a once lively mother or father, when roles reverse and the child becomes the parent and the parent the child. Watkins, however, spins the adversity of the situation into an uplifting conclusion that both teaches and gives hope.

“Mahingun” by award winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis is her 4th poem and the last in the Anthology book "Elements of the Soul"  “Mahingun” earned first place in the 2010 annual Preditors and Editors readers poll.
Does the poet confess in her poetry to spying through the eyes of a forest creature on her fisherman? Illuminated by the moon’s own reflection in the frigid water, he stands, knee-deep. Only a visitor to the wild, the fisherman belongs to the poet and will soon gather up his gear and return home to her. Until then, does the poet stand guard over her manly man inside the mind of a bear?

And so, the reader closes the cover of “Elements of the Soul”, somewhat sad that the adventures in reading are over. What a wonderful collection of stories and poems. The reader hated to be left behind by the writers, but their book will rest in a place of honor with the classics, sheltered behind the glass door of a bookcase bordering the fireplace. The cherished memories will be revisited from time to time, until the reader finds in his mail Trinity Media’s second anthology “Elements of Time”. The reader looks forward to the second “elements” volume, the reunion with now familiar authors (Maddox, Steven Thor & Lucinda Gunnin, Brielyn) and making acquaintance with the new (Nancy Smith Gibson, Linda St. Cyr, Opher Ganel, Cathy Graham and Andi Caldwell). Waiting is always the hardest part of living.         

Elements of Time: A Partial Review of the Anthology

So, there's this writer's forum I'm a member of named Accentuate Writers Forum at: Out of that forum came two anthologies titled Elements of the Soul (available at

Elements of Time:

“Second Chance” by Lindsay Maddox is the premier short story offered in the Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time”, the follow up to “Love and Loss’ for those who have read Accentuate’s first anthology “Elements of the Soul”, and both stories incorporate how much better dreadful lives can be when fated an opportunity for a fresh start. Where “Love and Loss” was rooted in real world maternal love, “Second Chance” seeks to rescue a most unfortunate life by diving into the Karmatic waters of “you reap what you sow”.

In “Second Chance” Wyatt is a hapless schmuck. His whole life of early tragedy and present day failures all seem to have all been caused by some mysterious fault within himself. In desperation, he seeks answers from an unorthodox therapist who forces him to confront and rectify crimes he committed long before he was born. Changing the past rearranges Wyatt’s present.

Who among us would not desire to reach back and stop ourselves from committing a mistake that severely impacted the quality of the rest of our lives? How would we feel to learn we were led to those mistakes as retribution for bad acts committed by our past selves, lives lived just before or long before our present existence? Would we brood over the unfairness of it all? Or would we send our souls back with powerful will into the minds of errant past lives and alert them to stop before they infect how we live now and will tomorrow?

“Second Chance” is our second chance to be swayed by the imagination of this wonderful writer, Lindsay Maddox. Take that chance. It just might change your life.

“Catch in Time” Speaks of Butterfly Memories
“Catch in Time” by award-winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis is the premier poem offered in the 2nd Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time”. As in the first Accentuate anthology “Elements of the Soul”, Darroch-Meekis presents 4 of her poems in “Elements of Time”.

Thoughts form in the present and dissolve into the past so quickly for the poet that she panics to hold what pieces she can. But the fragments are as fragile as butterfly wings, and as rapid in flight. Does she feel a slight tickle from the fluttering in her mind? Is the sensation oddly comforting, pleasurable—or is it a fearful sign of decline in remembering precious things?

Yet, memories return ever so briefly, and, like ghosts, appear and disappear: flashing lights on the wings of butterflies reviving wonder in life, in truth always residing within, but sometimes hiding until needed.

The poet only has to summon them and those memories will reappear clear as when first born. Like a restored favorite picture or cinema, Past and Present become one; comfort and regret share the same space and are equally embraced. “What a ride it has been,” the poet may muse, “and what an astonishing life is mine.”

“Ex Post Facto” Is Retroactive Terror
“Ex Post Facto” by Steven Thor Gunnin is the second short story offered in Accentuate’s 2nd  anthology “Elements of Time”. Readers of the first Accentuate anthology “Elements of the Soul” will remember Gunnin’s “Last Caress” and “Purgatory”.

In “Ex Post Facto”, Gunnin seems to change course from his prior studies of desperate and doomed lives. “Ex Post Facto” opens on an airplane, the start of a long overdue vacation for the perfect family. But one in the family is not perfect, is, in fact, so self-deluded that a crime and its horribly dehumanized victim was long ago discarded from memory as casually as one might forget what was eaten for lunch a day or two before.

Stunning in its sudden turn from merry expectation into a scream echoing from a disgracefully disassociated past, “Ex Post Facto” will make the readers question their own past, the truth in what is remembered and, based on that digging, if we have really been as decent in our own lives as we believe. What history have we forgotten or revised in order to move through our lives without shame?

Steven Thor Gunnin is a writer who, once introduced to a reader, won’t be so easily forgotten.

“Numbers: A Parable” of Unintended Consequences
“Numbers: A Parable” is the third short story offered in Accentuate’s 2nd anthology “Elements of Time” and author Nancy Smith Gibson’s debut in the anthology series.

Gibson offers as parable an island of indigenous people isolated from the rest of the world. The islanders economic system of barter is confusing, leading to quarrels and often escalating into war until a savior lands by helicopter to give them the gift of numbers. The Parable reflects all the great religious texts, and their common accounts of divine intervention and the harm of unintended consequences.

With “Numbers: A Parable” Nancy Smith Gibson undoubtedly is commenting on our modern society, fractured by multiple interpretations of morality, each segment zealously certain of what be truth from what be false views about that long ago visit and sojourn of the man who came from the sky.

Numbers, decimals, addition and subtraction; algebra, geometry and trigonometry: all critical to advancement of a civilization; yet what good or evil may come from them depends, across Nancy Smith Gibson’s once-upon-a-time island, on who is doing the counting.

“In the Round” Explores the Tick-Tock, Tock-Tick and Tock of Time 
“In the Round” by award-winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis is the 2nd poem offered in the 2nd Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time”.

The poet marvels how a thought can encompass all three dimensions of past, present, and future, when a memory can define her present and, in a moment of brief clarity, reveal a time she has yet to live. In the mind of the poet, a moment born dies instantly, when present morphs into the past instantly; curving until linked to a future moment to form a circle: then all time becomes one. This is nuclear Time, a final moment that explodes and disintegrates the illusion of physical reality and reveals to eyes open in the holding of a breath the meaning of Life itself. Yet, when the eyes must flutter and a quick breath be taken, revelation escapes and is absorbed by the past. The circle breaks and begins to curve again. The poet’s intuition struggles to help her remember her future, but is overwhelmed by the force of Time’s steadfast onward march into her past…until the circle be unbroken, momentarily, again.

Tick-tock-tick-tock. Or is it tock-tick-tock-tick? Or only tock?

“The New Age” Mimic’s “1984”

“The New Age” by Steven Thor Gunnin is the fourth short story offered in Accentuate’s 2nd anthology “Elements of Time”.

It is risky for any writer to attempt his or her own version of George Orwell’s “1984”. The caves of the mountains of the Land of Forgotten and Never Read Stories, Teleplays, Screenplays, Play Plays and Novels must be full of such manuscripts. Gunnin’s totalitarian/one religion society is a nice try, but even the highly imaginative, insightful and skillful writer Gunnin's "The New Age" can't pull it off,  too close to melodrama and cliche in this reader’s opinion.

Nevertheless, “The New Age” is a Steven Thor Gunnin story, and all he writes is worthy of being read.

“Love Always, Jake” May Explain That Stalker
“Love Always, Jake” by Lucinda Gunnin is the fifth short story offered in Accentuate’s 2nd anthology “Elements of Time”. Readers of the 1st Accentuate anthology “Elements of the Soul” will surely remember Gunnin’s  “Jasper” and “Love Burns”.

Have we all had moments sprinkled throughout our lives when we walked into a convenience store, a restaurant, church, even a bar and realized a stranger was studying us more than suited our comfort level. Or have we, at times, been the longing observers?  Do I know him? Do I know her from way back past a time when a memory was buried? That stranger, something about him or her makes the room feel too warm; yet the heart yearns to approach, to remember all that was forgot.

Lucinda Gunnin’s “Love Always, Jake” will make you recall such moments. Maybe the read will make you relive the regret all over again for never having stepped forward to say, “Hello, have we met some place before?”

“A Day at the Museum”: A Quiet Stroll Down Memories Lane?

“A Day at the Museum” by award-winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis is the 3rd poem offered in the 2nd Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time” and 3rd for Darroch-Meekis.

The reader is very aware of the quiet in the galleries the poet strolls through. She is in no hurry, deep in contemplation of the message immortalized in each of the long ago strokes by geniuses of portraiture, landscapes; perhaps even the surreal and abstract. Who were these subjects posing for visionary masters? She wonders. Pointillism creates a “sunny day in the park”, yet the overdressed women of over a century ago sport umbrellas where there is no rain, perhaps fearing the tan much coveted today by their descendants. Oily death, though, is portrayed as it was and always will be, the variety only in the spirit of horror or embrace, the deceased object of mourning and, sometimes, studiously sliced open in the name of science. Then Modern garbs have aged into costumes last seen in some cinematic spectacles of the lives of kings and queens. Parlor décor of decades ago is now priceless sunflowers, still-lifes of fruits and vases and a cornucopia of unrelated objects on a clothed table, bathed in a ray from the same sun piercing windows today.

The poet ponders the steady hands of the masters; their stamina to even lay hours on their backs to paint a heavenly scene on a cathedral ceiling. Art imitates other arts in paintings of graceful, ballerinas, so delicate as must have been the fingers that had applied those thin strokes of color, gently buffed and blended to shade; to shape the flat to create the illusion of volume, spirit, life.

Exotic garbs and faces seem to most mesmerize the poet, creating daydreams of being there, wearing that; posing for the someday revered masterpiece. Soldiers guard a small child throughout the night. Why? Who would want to harm a sleeping child? And does the poet’s heightened fascination lift the veil just a little, to disclose a morsel of old memory that still vibrates beneath the thin layers formed by more recent cycles of livings? Does she peek into a fracture in time? Feel a sense of being in many places and their times all at once?

“A Day at the Museum” may well be the poet’s quiet stroll through all the days and nights of her lives

“Angelo’s” Whips Up A Great Truth.

“Angelo’s” by Nancy Smith Gibson is the 6th short story offered in Accentuate’s 2nd anthology “Elements of Time”, and author Gibson’s 2nd in the anthology published by Twin Trinity Media.

In “Angelo’s”, Gibson presents a little story with a big lesson in how happiness, worry and regret may be determined by whether a person mentally lives in
(1) the past
(2) the present
(3) the future
(4) none of the above.

Kitty is a waitress at Angelo’s Bakery & Lunch. Narrator Kitty navigates the reader first to a elderly couple, devoted to each other: check number 2, the present, because one in that couple never recalls Kitty nor ever having been in Angelo’s before, though she has come every day with her husband for years. The old lady is always cheerful because she remembers no yesterdays, is cocooned by a repetitive present; and worries only when disturbed by an unwelcome what if of a compacted future.

The reader is swiftly moved into the back of Angelo’s, where married co-owners Joe and Angie anticipate the regulars’ usuals and, because Joe lives in fondness for his navy past and Angie in worry of an always direly envisioned future, they cannot hear one another in an invisable present.

Nancy Smith Gibson appears to have mastered the writer’s art of the subtle to unmask a great truth: where our minds are in Time determines our happiness level. Too much lingering in the past or too much contemplation of the future leaves little space for enjoyment in the present. Those who live exclusively in the present enjoy a kind of utopia, when every day is a first day; when every experience is a new experience—like in the mind of an old woman with no past and no future.

“Jeremy’s Haven” Blossums from Terror

“Jeremy’s Haven” by Jo Brielyn is the 7th short story offered in Accentuate’s 2nd anthology “Elements of Time” Brielyn’s debut was in the 1st anthology published by Twin Trinity Media “Elements of the Soul” with the short story “Healing Scars” and the poem “When the Rain Comes”.

In “Jeremy’s Haven” the reader is introduced to Luke as representative of the thousands of runaway kids rescued from the sordid world of street life survival. Counselor Jay is attempting to break through Luke’s defenses, so necessary in order to convince the boy to embrace the help offered. Luke is a bigger challenge than Jay had anticipated. In order to achieve a break through, Jay must disclose his own dark past to Luke.

There are few surprises for the reader in “Jeremy’s Haven”, but Jay’s past is riveting and recommended reading.

“Lost or Found” Resurrects Our Dreams

“Lost or Found” by award-winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis is the 4th poem offered in the 2nd Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time” and 4th for Darroch-Meekis.

The poet this time ponders a universal question of those who, like in those Kubler-Ross “five stages of grief’, are about to enter the last stage of acceptance that youth has been conquered by middle or old age: Am I what I dreamed my life would be, even close to what I expected or at least hoped for? The emotional flow of the poem may suggest sadness, disappointment; regretful surrender—due to our own soft, almost whispered response of no, made tolerable only in belief that very few could honestly answer yes.
Darroch-Meekis, stands defiant against acceptance that time has run out for her youthful hopes and expectations and, by example, attempts to rescue the rest of us from the lure of such defeatism. Our dreams cannot die unless we give up on them, the poet teaches:
“When you turn your back on those who sneer,
And keep you off track,
When you strive, be who you should be,
When you keep your head held high.”

Reader interpretation:  As long as living and breathing creates the time, and if we choose to ignore the doubters and the quitters, those dreams for ourselves may still be realized, one focused step at a time.

Hopefully “No Time Like Now” Won’t Be Too Late

“No Time Like Now” by M. Lori Motley is the 8th short story offered in Accentuate’s 2nd anthology “Elements of Time”.  Motley’s debut was in the 1st anthology published by Twin Trinity Media “Elements of the Soul” with the short stories “Flood of Tears” and the spell-binding “Summer Heat”.

In “No Time Like Now” a plastic Barbie shoe makes mockery of a married couple’s prior attempt to escape their debilitating sorrow by cleansing from their home all in life that could spark instant anguish in memories of the liveliness of Missy, their young daughter, before the unthinkable.

No doubt some readers of this short story have suffered through unrelenting sorrow made even more unbearable by guilt over precious moments taken for granted or even stripped of meaning in the day-to-day struggles with work and fatigue. Motley provides  both a window into the regretful soul and a warning to the yet unscathed in the torment of workaholic Allen, who briefly gets another chance to enjoy what he had failed to appreciate enough until gone.

“No Time Like Now” may make the reader cry. Make time for its message to sink in, if it is not already too late.

“Seed” Explores Life after Sex

 “Seed” by award-winning poet Laurie Darroch-Meekis is the 5th poem offered in the 2nd Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time” and 5th for Darroch-Meekis.

With “Seed”, the poet marvels that life begins by passion, the orgasm indiscriminate of love, the tawdry or even a one-night stand. Innocence manifests and grows, isolated but content in spite of the condition of the world it will be born into. Does the developing fetus hear its mother’s heartbeat over the accelerated beat of its own? Did its soul pick that particular womb as most suited to its own plans for its own life?

The path to life, first breath, runs with blood, the poet muses. She knows that first cry heralds many more. It will be identified by gender, then, and for the rest of his or her life: a mirror to the face of either parent, so dependant on the dominant genes.

“I am here,” defines the infant’s cries. “And I intend to stay if you will let me.”

“The Gift” Is Bittersweet

“The Gift” by Lindsay Maddox is the 9th short story offered in the Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time”, and the 2nd by the author of the first “Second Chances”. Where “Second Chances” posited the notion of cleaning up past wrongs to change for the better life in the present, “The Gift” portrays two lives about to expire, hopeless, until love rescues one by the sacrifice of another.

For those readers familiar with “Love and Loss” from the first Accentuate Anthology “Elements of the Soul” and now “Second Chances” in this volume of short stories, you know Maddox’s “The Gift” promises another weeper that stirs the reader’s heart with hope all will end well.

“The Gift” is bittersweet.

“The Ring” Speaks to the Deaf, Dumb and Blind in Love

“The Ring” by Rissa Watkins is the 10th short story offered in the Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time”, the follow up to Watkins’s “Fly” for those who have read Accentuate’s first anthology “Elements of the Soul”.

In “The Ring” poor Ashley loves a man vilified as a criminal, it seems, by everyone except herself and a jury. She’s a stand-by-your-man woman. She’s a woman in love, ready to spit in the eye of society and the lying news media—all who torment a man she knows only as sweet and kind and her fiancé.

A ruby ring will have a lot to tell Ashley.

“The Ring” is a good read about the power of love to strike one deaf, dumb and blind.

“The Night We Met” Shrinks the World to Inches

“The Night We Met” is the 6th poem offered and the premier of poet Jennifer Wright in the 2nd Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time”.

In the dark there is just enough dim light to allow the poet to see the swirls of smoke and the man she dances with. O, what the band’s drums and guitars make her body do when the singer’s voice blends with the cords and booms and penetrates and merges with her soul. Eyes meet mid in the partnered bump and grind, making her smile at his smile. Nothing and no one else exists. The world has shrunk to a few inches of a dance floor. Glorious it is to be dancing with a man who can dance!

“Saligia” Is A Glistening Literary Jewel

“Saligia” by Andi Caldwell is the 11th short story offered in the Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time” and Caldwell’s debut in the anthology series.

And what a debut it is.

According to Wikipedia "SALIGIA" is based on the first letters in Latin of the seven deadly sins: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, acedia: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony, each represented in Andi Caldwell’s exquisite short story by the seven prisoners sentenced to a lifetime of digging coal.

“Right Here Right Now” is a game these prison miners have settled on to make bearable enough what amounts to nothing less than a daily trip into Hell that is the coal mine. Each has his turn to tell the story of his depravity, and in so doing, informs his fellow prisoners and the reader how the sin was so captivating redemption is unwanted. Each would do it all again for the sheer joy.

This reader relished “Saligia” for the glistening literary jewel that it clearly is. Andi Caldwell has provided a suburb introduction to her talent here. I lust for more from this brilliant writer—right here right now!

“Mountain Lady” Shuns the Spring

“Mountain Lady” by Lucinda Gunnin is the 7th poem offered in the 2nd Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time”. Readers of Accentuate’s 1st anthology “Elements of the Soul” will remember Gunnin as the author of short stories “Jasper” and “Love Burns”.

Lucinda Gunnin, the poet, speaks reverently of an angel who sits atop the world. Every winter, the angel collects the snow. In spring she pours the melted snow down the mountain to fill the streams below. Generations have depended on the angel, sometimes abandoning her until again discovered by another population of adventurers. She devotes herself to the winter, but shuns spring; her tears in the waters cascading down the mountain may thicken the melted snow. All her hard work done, she reluctantly takes her leave, to rest until another winter calls her back.     

Mount Shavano in Colorado is famous for the Angel of Shavano, a snow formation in the image of an angel that emerges on the east face of the mountain during snow melt each spring. The poet would want you to not only know this, but go see this mystical angel, too. All poets should be so inspired.

Gibson Weaves Suspense and Mild Eroticism in “Valley of the Gods”

“Valley of the Gods” by Nancy Smith Gibson is the 12th short story offered in Accentuate’s 2nd anthology “Elements of Time”, and author Gibson’s 3rd in the anthology published by Twin Trinity Media.

In “Valley of the Gods”, what appears to be a troop of soldiers in a desolate landscape are ordered to climb another mountain to see what, they are certain, will be only the same rocky terrain hikes up other mountains revealed. They are wrong. What they find astonishes them, yet is only meant for one pair of mortal eyes to have completely unveiled.

Nancy Smith Gibson gives the reader excellent features to appreciate: from dialogue, careful building of suspense, mild eroticism and an unanticipated conclusion. For this reader, “Valley of the Gods” appeared to open in a war zone, like the barren and rocky terrain of Afghanistan. Not until the end of the story did this reader come to admire the deceptiveness of the writer. Gibson permits the reader’s early misinterpretation, knowing how susceptible mortals are to looks that can be deceiving. The author milks this human flaw through the suspicions of her armed characters and their struggles to believe what their eyes see are no mirage. All must be forgotten in the end: one man, one mysterious woman; a one-night stand and, so like a male, he can’t even remember her after.

In “Valley of the Gods”, Nancy Smith Gibson weaves an unforgettable tale.

A Hungry Outsider In “The Family” 

“The Family” by Felicity Tillack is the 8th poem offered in the 2nd Accentuate anthology “Elements of Time”. Readers of Accentuate’s 1st anthology “Elements of the Soul” will remember Tillack’s poem “Heat from the Road” about Life as a chain gang.

The Reader was quite involved by where the poet was going with “The Family”. A family is honeycombed indoors, warm, setting plates, getting ready to gather around the table to eat. Yet, outside this Norman Rockwell portrait is someone estranged, unable to go inside and share the bounty: “gone too long”.  His is a remembered face in the family, but time enough has passed to forget his life. Why is he now uninvited? Did he commit some unforgivable offense to deserve shunning? Or is he a ghost from Thanksgiving Past, confined to the death that forbids intrusion into his old but under appreciated realm of the Living?

He radiates aching loneliness; regret for a lifetime of not valuing what forced separation makes him hunger to be restored to. “Let loose all nieces, their screams and chatters like a long echo, to remind the adults of their story”.

And, perhaps, of his own.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Could Almost Feel the Warmth

The Robert would've like to have been the notetaker this morning at this White House Meeting:

The President met in the Roosevelt Room of the White House with leaders from the United States largest labor organizations to discuss strengthening the U.S. economy, spur growth and create good jobs for the American people, along with other issues of importance to working Americans. Attendees included:AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka
United Food and Commercial Workers President Joe Hansen (Chair, Change to Win)
National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel
United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Gerald McEntee
Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry
United Auto Workers President Bob King
International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold Schaitberger
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Ed Hill
National Association of Letter Carriers President Fred Rolando
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades President Jimmy Williams

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Kennedy Effect

Decades of polling for opinions on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have consistently shown two-thirds of Americans believe Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a larger conspiracy. Who else was involved is a mixed bag: Castro, the Mafia, CIA and even Mossad. It is only the why that blends the usual suspects into a greasy soup of unappetizing contradiction.

For the record, this writer has come to believe, after many years of study of much of the both pro and con conspiracy material—and helped by my own lack of bias toward those viewed respectfully (i.e., Norman Mailer, but sorry Gerald Posner—a plagiarizer must be denied credibility—“Case Closed” ) or branded “conspiracy nuts”, (i.e., Mark Lane and too many before and after him to mention) that Lee Harvey Oswald was no more than he said he was: a patsy.

But, for me, the why is the only key that can unlock the door to truth. To find that key, the search must begin twenty years before Dallas and make a u-turn through time to offer an explanation of the behavior of every U.S. President after.

In 1933, Major General Smedley Butler, at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history, author of the 1935 book War is a Racket, in which he described the workings of the military-industrial complex, testified before a congressional committee of being approached by wealthy industrialists and pressured to take command of a a private army of 500,000 ex-soldiers dedicated to a coup to overthrow President Franklin D. Rooselvelt. The Business Plot, or Plot Against FDR, or White House Putsch are names historians have identified this conspiracy by. Though ridiculed by the Great Depression-era media (so like our current Great Resession media) the congressional committee declared that there was no question that the attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient.

What those wealthy industrialists learned was: (1) their wealth and power shielded them from ever being punished even for treason and (2) to nevertheless avoid a presumtion an heroic and prominent (though outside their privileged class) military man would betray his country for their interests.

No more bold coups. Bribes were cheaper, but a  much slower and tedious approach to achieve over years what they had failed to accomplish in the year of 1933. They patiently began their silent coup through seeking, contributing to and promoting their own candidates and appointments to all three branches of the federal government. First patriotism was abducted and redefined through the invention of a new enemy: Communism, which they milked for all the wealth-building wars (Korea, Vietnam, and the covert Congo, Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc.). By the Reagan-era, they had even kidnapped and redefined Jesus Christ (Ayn Rand’s Immaculate Conception) to revive and entrench the failed army of 1933 throughout Washington D.C. under their syndicated dictatorship by 1983.

George Herbert Walker Bush was expected to fullfill the dreams of his great-grandfather and 1933 coup conspirator Samuel Prescott Bush, but proved to be too sensitive to betray the country he had actually defended in the last World War (perhaps the ghosts of  Radioman Second Class John Delaney and Lieutenant Junior Grade William White, who perished after the Bush-piloted bomber was hit, haunted the lone survivor). Bush raised his benefactors’ taxes. They did not kill him. They replaced him with William Jefferson Clinton, who rewarded them by gutting FDR’s New Deal and with the complete surrender of the Democratic Party to their control.

Class Warfare was finally over, the Middle Class suppressed—and the only shots ever fired in the long war caused but one casualty: John Fitzgerald Kennedy. After JFK, every President understood the message of Dallas. LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton  proved unwilling to die for the unprivilged masses. Bush II completed the work of his great-great-grandfather. Embedded traitors on the Supreme Court made sure he could and, after, banished the Republic to install international corporate fascism as the governing body of the United States of America.

President Kennedy, like FDR, was about to betray his class by scattering into a thousand pieces the instruments the rich and powerful had so patiently planted and cultivated since 1934. The quiet coup had to ratchet into a violent and singularly targeted coup de tat, utilizing all their embedded agents under a plan long reserved and rehearsed for just such a crisis. The 500,000 of 1933 had been reduced to less than a roomful of carefully groomed and rewarded members of the priviliged class and one from a selection of unaware monitored patsies, dependent on location of the President and ability for rapid response.

Kennedy died so that his successors would choose to live rather than be like him.

The warning of November 22, 1963 has worked thus far.

Which brings me to the great paradox that is Barack Obama. Is it just my imagination that he seems like one gone permanently tense, seemingly glancing furtively back over his shoulder, edgy. It is difficult for me to believe him to be less than a fearless man; yet he has uncharacteristically embraced and defended the Bush II wars and much of the horrible measures his predecessor employed. Under a shield of “moving forward”, Obama refuses to encourage investigations of war crimes while he himself shuns torture. He strived to “give something to the American people” by crusading for heathcare reform, but makes us pay the healthcare vultures above fair market value for our own gift. He scorns the criminal syndicate that is Wall Street, yet won’t sentence them to make restitution of the wealth they scammed from us. And now, he has brought the elite into a national debt commission with what at least appears to be for no other purpose but to destroy the last surviving legacy of FDR’s New Deal: Social Security.

Why? Obama does not seem one to value his own life above that of the best interests of his country. What has changed about the manifestation of “change we can believe in”?

And then I wonder: if President Kennedy had been threatened not only with the end of his own life, but that of his wife and children—would he have still stood in defiance of the bretheren of 1933?

Am I just desperate for something to excuse Obama’s luke-warm change of heart? I don’t think so. The fact that President Obama still remains personally popular with the majority of American tells me I’m not alone in instinctively knowing him to be a brave, good and gentle soul, sensing the danger that restrains him. Something (or someones) have given him reason to be afraid. The danger can be holstered by a media whipped mob only feet from where the President is speaking. Who, then whips the media to lather so much press on this vocal and often hateful minority? Who orders the minority party of both houses of the United States Congress to go beyond simple political gamesmanship into cheerleaders for the crazed Birthers, Secessionists, Racists and deluded anti-socialist Social Security and Medicare recipients to overthrow the government? Who fans the flames of treason as the new patriotism? For what purpose?

So much of this dangerous propaganda was in play throughout the Kennedy Administration, leading up to his murder and the coverup of the script that brought forth that coup de tat.

The genetic successors of the conspirators of 1933 are morally empty: Bush I the last still infected with a trace of a sense of right versus wrong. They are monsters these decendents of the traitors of 1933—truly the giant Taibbi squid, sucking all the wealth and life from what was once a great and inspirational nation. Heartless, they know where their prey is vulnerable. So I pray for Michelle, Malia and Sasha, as I’m sure Barack Obama does every night.