At the Frick

It’s been a while, but I can’t not post anymore. Please take a moment to visit the Bacopa Literary Review Editors’ Blog and read the post for today put up by Mary Bast, the Bacopa Literary Review Editor-in-Chief. My story “Eva” was published in the 2016 issue and was the 2016 Fiction Runner-up Prize Winner. Mary’s been very gracious and generous in her comments to me about the story, and now she’s taken them public. I know it’s not nice to boast, but I feel very honored to have a blog post about my work that starts with the mention of Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Alice Walker (The Color Purple), Russell Banks (The Sweet Hereafter) and  Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale ).  And then while you’re there, don’t just look at today’s post. Spend some time looking around. It will be time well spent.

And now for something different…

The pigeons in the picture are not  at the Frick. They’re part of a fountain at a former convent that now houses a school of art in San Antonio. The Frick is an art museum in New York. The poem below is a repost from a few years back.

At the Frick

In the museum, the bronze statuary,
Small enough to be held in hand, excites
You. The artist’s craft, his love of form both
Transparent, his hand invisible, his soul,
Poured like liquid stone, became these figures,
And we become the air through which they move.

Yet in a poem, I could give you more
Than these perfect bodies. I could give you
All of their warmth, all of their hue, and more.
I can give you the sun in a blue room,
Balconies with no way down, salt-laced rhythms
Of tides, sea birds unreachable. But still
I can never see nor feel in the cold
Dead bronze the things you see, the things you feel.

Originally published in A Matter of Mind, Foothills Publishing, 2004.
© copyright 2004, 2015, 2017 Joseph Saling and The New Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

Am I still blocked? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

green bed

Go ahead — hit that space bar.

I have some writer friends that I know will recognize an exchange similar to this:

“You should get out if these dreary rooms, Henry. They’re half the reason you’re blocked.”

“Am I blocked? I’d just thought of myself as a slow typist.”

“What do you do, hit the space bar once a day?”

John Updike in “Bech Panics” in Bech a Book (1970)

Just my way of saying, like I said in the comment on the last post, I’m coming back. Just watch this space. Things have happened.

Enjoy your day —

 

Lasers Are Overrated Anyway

Who needs lasers? (Hint watch it in full screen in a darkened room. But don’t forget to hit escape and come back.)

Hi. I feel like I’ve been gone forever, even though I  didn’t go anywhere. Well that’s not exactly true. I did go up to Vermont in January — yes it was cold — to see S graduate from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She now has her MFA in children’s lit. You can expect good great prize-winning things to come.

And I’ve had a few more poems see the light of print. I plan to share those here over the next few weeks, so watch (and listen) for them. But, first, below, you can find a link to my latest publication. It’s a short story called “Huntington” in the March issue of Blue Lake Review. That’s an online journal edited by novelist Mitchell Waldman and journalist/poet Diana May-Waldman, both quite talented writers themselves. I can highly recommend Petty Offenses & Crimes of the Heart, Mitchell’s collection of short stories that I’m reading now, and Diana’s strong collection of poems a woman’s song. I plan to add reviews to The New Word Mechanic over the next few months and I’ll tell you more about both of them then. But I highly recommend you make the effort to get to know them and their work yourself.

So here’s the tease and the link. Enjoy.

Huntington (Printed at Blue Lake Review March 2015)

By Joseph Saling

I have this idea about how we live our lives — that there is no such thing as foreplay or afterglow. Not that life’s one fantastic orgasm,  though sometimes it can be — laser light shows, the earth moving, waves crashing on the beach, startled quail, like a fourth of July  fireburst, suddenly exploding from the bush in all directions against  the sky. But for most people, life is simply anticlimactic.  The kind of thing that sputters before you’re ready and doesn’t leave you feeling any different after it’s done. A series of slow shudders that makes you wonder why you even bother at all.

By the summer of my forty-third year, my life had settled into one of those slow shudders…(Blue Lake Review)

© Joseph Saling and The New Word Mechanic, 2015.

Piano Bar Blues

Here’s a little something from A Matter of Mind for Friday night.

Piano Bar Blues

(1)

I’m just a man
like anyone else. I can

Blue Jay

Blue Jay (Photo credit: steveburt1947)

command
respect when I place
myself at the keyboard, face
bathed in blue light.
I do alright.

Not like Mary.
Fell in love with a fairy
used to come in all the time.
His name was Harry.
He’d sit here at the piano making eyes
at all the guys.
Mary never got wise.

(2)

You know
one thing I know
is you
can’t kiss away the blues.

Not the real blues.

Not the hollow note
deep in your throat
kind of blues
that wake you in the middle of the night
because the silence gets so loud
you can hear starlight
fall.

(3)

It’s a job.
Last week some slob
laid fifty bucks beside me.
Forget what you see,
he said. I’m not here.
My wife wouldn’t understand.
All I did was hold her hand,
not like I planned
it or anything. So I fanned
his fantasy for a while,
played My Funny Valentine and with style
closed my eyes tight.
I said, I don’t see nobody tonight.

They go away.
Next day
my wife,
who’s best friends with his old lady May,
asks how’d it go.
Real slow,
I say.
Didn’t see a soul I know.

(4)

I tell people who come in all the time
you can’t kiss away the blues,
not those lonely in a crowd blues.
Those caged bird
wicker domed
watching from a swinging perch
blues.

The kind that weigh
you down even when the door is open
because you get so hungry
not even love
can fill you up.

(5)

You know when I saw you two come in
I felt sick
like I was watching someone commit
sin.
A no win
situation,
like when you begin
a set
and get
an undeniable urge to piss.

Maybe I shouldn’t say this.
After all I see a lot of dirt.
I’ve watched a lot of men chase a skirt.
Jesus, I don’t mean that.
It’s just when you’ve sat
where I’ve sat,

you get tired
of watching friends choose
the place you gotta be to play the blues.

(4)

No,
There’s no way.
You can try,
but you’re gonna lose
because there’s no way
you can kiss away
those blues.

© Joseph Saling and The New Word Mechanic, 2004, 2013.

Now I think I need to hear a little Ray Charles before we go.

For a Few Days More

If you hurry…

…you can still catch my story “Fireflies” in the lead position of the July issue of The Bacon Review. Simply click on the title after reading the editor’s comments on the left side of the front page. If you wait, you’ll still be able to see it, but you’ll need to go to the archives section of the The Bacon Review Web site. Whether you read the story now or later in the archives, there’s space on the site for you to leave a comment. I’d like to know what you think.

In the meantime, enjoy Ennio Morricone’s music.

This is too good not to share.

A big thank you to my son Jason who found this and shared it on his Facebook page. (I’m not at all a fan of Facebook. I joined only so I could see pictures of my grand kids that some how don’t get circulated other than on Facebook. But that’s a subject for another post.)

If you have seven minutes, I highly recommend watching this short film. And if you don’t have seven minutes, why are you so busy? Take time out — soon — and come back and watch. You’ll be very glad that you did.

 

A quote worth quoting

That’s all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones.

Raymond Carver

Quoted on the Stories page at Carve Magazine, a fiction journal S and I just recently discovered. When you get to the site, read the stories. They are true gems filled with the right words. I’ll have more to say about them later.