Stop Making Scents

We live in a world with so many artificial things.

Reality TV that is as far from reality as it is possible to get.

An American dream that is more marketing than reality.

A cloak of “security” that allows for a police state.

A health care system that doesn’t promote good health.

Artificial flavors, corn syrup, chemicals, scents, “clean.”

I am scent sensitive. Perfumes, colognes, cleaning products, fresh scents… All of these can give me a headache and make me feel loopy.

Yesterday at work, someone mopped, fyi I work in a basement and it really got to me. Huge amount of scent that went up the stairs. And irriation to my mouth, nose, and generally not feeling right.

Makes me wonder about all the crazy chemicals in our society. A better living through chemistry. The Orwellian Pure Food and Drug Act that allows for substitutes for food. Used to be that mayonnaise was simply eggs and oil, that’s not the ingredients in Hellman’s anymore.

We need to change things. Monoculture agriculture that has a ton of chemical inputs. Roundup ready corn, an industrial product that is not good to eat and allows spraying of a useful chemical which generally kills any plant.

Massive farm subsidies that make it possible. Some of the best land in the world eroding away in huge square miles of corn that is used for animal feed, corn syrup, ethanol and industrial use.

Farming should be pretty simple. Good land, good products, being watchful. Mixed produce that allows different uses for the land. Letting some of the land be fallow and regenerate with the weeds of the area.

Joel Salutin, one of Michael Pollan’s heroes said he’s a grass farmer. The cows trim the grass, poop, and move on to the next area. The poop makes the grasses grow taller and rejuvenate the land. The circle of poop.

We need to respect dirt and the land more, and chemicals less. We live with massive amounts of antibiotics in our food so we can have massive feed lots using all of that subsidized industrial corn.

The purpose of government is not to give corporations tons of money. It’s not a massive drug war that throws millions of people in prison for a consensual “crime” where they hurt no one but themselves. A war of terror that creates a security stste. A war on poverty and welfare reforms that looks so hard for fraud it makes it worse for people in need.

I just want to see the world get saner and simpler again. I hope the that’s not too much to ask.


Death Card

A few weeks ago before Lanna got her new job on our tenth anniversary on July 3rd, I went to Pinecone + Chickadee in downtown Portland and got some random Portland Pins from the gumball like machine. One was death with a nautical image.

I asked Lanna what it meant and she said in tarot it’s a symbol of new beginnings. From this Tarot site it states:

Death is symbolic of the ending of a major phase or aspect of your life that may bring about the beginning of something far more valuable and important.

My first thought was to be frightened but I didn’t know it was the symbol of good change. It’s been a difficult few years. I lost my dad on April 1st, 2013 and had a major mental health crisis and breakdown a couple weeks later where I ended up at Spring Harbor. Manic depression is indeed a frustrating mess. Dad’s was a long departure which I talked about extensively on the blog. I am still recovering 15 months later.

Lanna’s died just a little over a year before in March, 2012. His departure was fast. From seeming pretty healthy and in good spirits to gone not long after.

I feel like I have grown as a person. Learning to mediate, accept my many weirdnesses, learning patience, writing, interacting with words. Maine has been good to me. Maine has been very good to me.

Especially with the patience and perspective of just getting by with life. And that there is nobility to just living. You have a house, you have family, you have food, you are doing alright. Ayuh.

Moving to the Shelton, CT area for Lanna’s new job, she leaves today to start her new job tomorrow, feels like coming home in a way. I grew up in Central NJ in Montgomery Township, just a town north from Princeton up 206. Shelton, CT reminds me a lot of Bridgewater, NJ. Green, bucolic, with huge office parks and lots of money. And I am guessing a lot of the same attitude of not being satisfied and always wanting to have more in life. There is something beautiful in having enough.

I also feel this desire to work in counseling, mental health, anti-drug war and anti-prison efforts. I had a conversation just last night about trying to get people with mental health away from prison. Considering going into mental health work, maybe as a counselor maybe even as an NP. Although I still don’t like blood. I feel like I need to help people directly. As someone with creativity, mania and mental health issues, my current job in a medical call center has helped me gain patience. Listening is a powerful skill. Simply letting people get out what burdens them, helping them get to a nurse or doctor for advice.

Feeling grateful that my job can go with me and I can go remote. It’s one big less stress for this long move.

Feeling happy to unburden myself, I keep way too much crap. Let it go. Let it go.

Happy to have the kitties for support.

I’m going to miss my wife this week and a half. She is going to start in CT for a fortnight on the new job, and I am going out next Tuesday. It’s going to be strange, we are such strong partners with the 11 1/2 years we have been together (met in mid-January, 2003).

I am excited, and daunted by my next step in life.

Also looking forward to a cleaner house and having a place for people to stay. Our moms, our friends, etc. Good friends in good spirits is all it really takes to be happy. I was reminded of that last night at a wonderful party.

To new beginnings. As scary and daunting as they can be.

How We Do by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is easily my favorite writer and poetry discovery of 2014. I started with her last book “The Year of No Mistakes” which includes this poem “How We Do”. I have also read her first three books My Future Boyfriend, Hot Teen Slut and Working Class Represent. I will admit to having difficulty spelling her name, but she is fantastic and funny. “Hot Teen Slut” ***** is easily my favorite book so far this year. Bawdy, hilarious, raunchy about a recent college graduate and virgin who works as an editor at the porn industry. It’s fantastic and captures a lot of the awkwardness of porn, being a college graduate and the bizarre and short lived culture of the 1990s internet boom. It is easily the funniest book of poetry I have ever read. “Dear Future Boyfriend” *** is about being young and awkward. It’s amazing that Ms. Aptowicz even started the Urbana Poetry Slam in New York City at age 19, that one the 2000 and 2002 National Poetry Slam with Taylor Mali among others.

“Working Class Represent” ***1/2 is about being a young poet with a day job. And includes the poem “Ode to People Who Rejected My Work” which any writer and poet would recognize. And “Ode to My Morning Cup of Coffee” which is perfect for someone waking up at 4am for work (an hour earlier than I planned) and enjoying local Silvery Moon Creamery yogurt (Westbrook, ME) with coffee.

“The Year of No Mistakes” is about breaking up with a long term partner and finding next steps in your life. It shows her growing as a writer and is wonderful. ***1/2

How We Do by Kristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (With Permission from the Author)

I tell my best friend, See?
This is proof of how close
friends we are,

that I am telling you
all this stuff in such
graphic detail!

And she said,
And my proof is
that I’m still listening!


I think we have all experienced this.

You can buy Ms. Aptowicz’s work at:

Her publisher Write Bloody Press:

And I get my copies through Bull Moose a local record store chain (NH and Maine) that started Record Store Day and offers 35% off new books. Hooray for independent bookstores and record stores. Now more than ever. They actually have “Hot Teen Slut” and “Working Class Represent” in stock now. I guess it’s good to buy books through your local shop.

You can also read some of her best poems published by the Legendary. A total of 10 poems.

The first group is from “The Year of No Mistakes”, the second from “Hot Teen Slut” (warning NSFW) my favorite is the “Sass Manifesto”, and the third from I am not sure but I love “Crack Squirrels”.

Her website is:
Twitter is @coaptowicz
YouTube Channel:

This is 40

Terrible movie, waste of talent **.

I turned 40 on June 23rd. Already looking like a very different year. Lanna just got a new job in Shelton, Connecticut, big raise, big opportunity. She is starting there at the end of the month. And we are looking to move completely by September 1st.

Big move for me. Will be nice to have New York City an easy drive or better train ride away. Will be nice to be closer to my mom, Allentown, PA will be 2 hours away. Will be unfortunate to be farther from my mother in law, from across town to 4 hours away.

Maine has been really good for us. Met a bunch of awesome people through work, Twitter, Facebook, poetry, tweetups, church, community.

Portland is a fantastic city. Amazing food. Excellent art scenes. Even two poetry slam teams which is just astounding. Tons of theater companies, a great regional art museum, lots of galleries and artists. And it actually is a city in the peninsula. Walkable, interesting, lots of character. Resurgem.

Westbrook I think is still finding itself. A mill town, where the mill doesn’t run the town anymore. It has the advantage of being next to Portland so it has become more a commuter city, but still with a lot of people in section 8 who never recovered from the mill being gone. Happy James Tramontagne is in the city with the Frog and Turtle, I love the Dancing Elephant and I love my local library. I also liked being able to walk in town, but I do wish it had better links to Portland Trails and the wonderful city of Portland. To me it’s still Westbrook it’s there. I expressed my love for the town with my poem “The Smells of Westbrook.”

The Shelton, Connecticut area will be a new adventure for me. Driving around during Lanna’s interview on Tuesday it reminded me a lot of the area I grew up in Somerset County, NJ. Reminded me a lot of Bridgewater. Lots of businesses in huge parks in an area with a lot of trees. A lot of affluence, just very similar.

I look forward to the new adventure and discovering new places. Right now it all feels overwhelming.

40 has come. I think I will really like my fifth decade. I do want to get in touch with as many people as possible in the next few weeks and get a beer, coffee or lunch.

The move feels so fast but it’s a great opportunity and I look forward to it.

Blessed be.


Zen and the Art of Pinball

I’m walking on this beautiful morning.
Up late after a night of pinball.
Given advice.

Not letting the ball flow.
Not letting it go.
Trusting the flippers,
Just having fun.

It’s a game of flow
Silverball through bumpers, drop targets, ramps.

Multiballs fast madness.
When needed
When everything works.

Enjoying the sounds
The mechanics
Underside filled with wire and switches.

But attention
Sometimes bliss.

Quarters draining
The afternoon passing
As you watch the silverball
Fly around the table.

Metal paying
For shiny metal
As the boy in me returns
And I just play.

Gorgeous morning

Lovely morning in Deering Oaks
New flowers of Spring
Green ones have arrived
Greens, honey, eggs.

Watching kids smiles
Talented balloon twister
I know so well.

Blue skies
Green trees
Finally warm
as I sit in the shade.

Poems for May

Did some poetry yesterday:

Here are some tweetpoems (not necessarily haiku but 140 characters or less).

The city sleeps
falls quiet
birds sing their glorious song
Spring arrives in Maine.

Symphony of spring
before the world awakens.

Bad Houses **

Bad Houses by Sara Ryan (story) and Carla Speed McNeil (illustration).

Story just didn’t grab me.

I think there definitely could have been more there.

I think graphic novels are most interesting when they either embrace the spare in a beautiful work like Jeff Lemire’s Essex County. Or if they provide a snapshot of an unknown world in Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang or Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”.J

There is also the power of work like Palestine by Joe Sacco. But for relatively standard storytelling the effect can actually be pretty thin.

I feel like this could have been more interesting in more traditional narrative, like the characters live richer lives that what is shown in the book. The central couple’s story is just beginning in the book, and I think can get richer.

Ok at best. Definitely disappointing.

Reading Poetry for Future Poetry

I seem to be in a reading poetry mode.

Write Bloody Revivals. Bukowski, Franny Choi, David Perez, Robin Merrill Kristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. Misspellings. Amazing chapbooks from new poets like Kirsten Uhde.

Great stuff.


A Hundred Years of Haiku in English… Planning to go to a haiku workshop again in my yearly retreat.

Taking information in. Taking styles in.

It’s future poetry.

Not writing as much as I like but I think it’s coming.

Listening to poetry, reading poetry, writing poetry. It’s a happy circle.

I like narrative poetry. I like clear language. I love hilarious poetry that makes me burst out laughing. A hilarious poem is a great poem.

So the poetry is simmering up. Looking forward to what’s coming and of course reading more poetry.

I hope for the well to flow again.