Thursday, May 16, 2024

Bootjack Available!

 I'm happy to note that my first real book of poems--Bootjack--is available for purchase from me or from the South Dakota State Poetry Society.  You can order it here:

It was published in 2023, but I got copies only after the turn of the year, and some of them were badly printed, so the printer ran an entirely new batch, so I have lots of copies, and so does SDSPS.  Contact me if you'd like a copy and I'll send you one, signed if you want!  

The book includes poetry about my family, my mom and dad, who appear on the cover, and about growing up in the little town of Ft. Pierre, SD.  I also write about my travels in China, Europe, and the US, and about literature and literary figures who saturated my thinking as I taught American Literature for over 30 years.  

You can read below from the fine comments that I got from readers who appreciate my work.  

I would love to send you a copy, dear reader!  


Saturday, December 02, 2023

My Poetry Book is at the Printer!

 Yes, I've been publishing poetry in small magazines since the 80's.  I may have been wearing a mullet when I wrote some of them.  And I always dreamed about having a book collection out there in the market, but I never took much action to make that happen.  

But my poetry book, Bootjack, is being printed, or at least in the queue for being printed.  It's the second book publication from Pasque Press, the publishing arm of the South Dakota State Poetry Society.  The book features some poems about South Dakota, but there are also many travel and literary subjects.  It would be great to have that in hand before Christmas time.  Many of the poems are very recent, but some date from those mullet days.  I'm proud to having it come to fruition, and if you're reading this, you'll be hearing more about it soon.  

If you're not familiar with bootjacks, they were a standard item in the houses where people wore cowboy boots.  Bootjacks made it easy to get your tight boots off, which can be tough if you like your boots nice and snug like I do.  And bootjacks were a required project in our high school shop class, so everyone (all guys, back then, no girls), took one home, cowboy boots or no cowboy boots.  

Check out the other holdings from the South Dakota State Poetry Society and the opportunities there at They publish Pasque Petals, a twice-yearly magazine that focuses on poems and poets with a South Dakota connection.  And they host contests and workshops.  This year they're also hosting Poetry on the Road events throughout South Dakota.  If you have a chance to get to one, you'll hear good SD poets and have a chance to read poems of your own at the open mic!  

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Welcome to February, Humans

 It's the last day to submit poetry to the spring issue Pasque Petals, which is the publication of the South Dakota State Poetry Society, and for which I am the editor for the fall issue.  So, naturally, it's time for me to submit some poems.  

Who knows why a person like me, procrastinator extraordinaire, waits through the months and weeks until he comes to the very edge of failure, to finally act?  

Who can say?  Some of us hold on to the idea of possibility as long as we can, releasing it only at the last minute, when actuality is required.  

Monday, January 30, 2023

A Purge

 The wife and I near the end of another successful purge of material items from our home, 496 items, one for every numbered day in the month of January.  One item for the first day, two for the next, and so on through the month.  And they're not trivial items, including some books that were easy to hang on to, hand made ceramics, and irreplaceable souvenirs from trips.  

Have we used the item recently?   Do we need it?  Do we love it?  Most material things, things we keep in the house and ignore for sometimes years, are only burdens, weights on a sense of freedom.  They're things we choose to keep in our care, whether we have to dust them or not.  If we wanted to pack up and move to Italy, for example, we would need to deal with the items, whether we sell, donate, or set them on fire.  

Right now many of the purged items await their fate in our dining room, and there I see some things that were projects long delayed.  Most things have gone to the thrift store; some, gifts from generous friends and family, have gone to distant thrift stores.  

Our 496 or so items are merely a drop in the bucket.  We've had a brief discussion about extending the purge through February, so if you're in the market for a beer-making kit, rarely used, or wine-making items, shoot me a line or watch the online markets.  We might lighten our burdens further.  

Edit:  Shortly after posting the message above this morning, I read an article in the Guardian indicating that Marie Kondo, the Japanese woman known for preaching de-cluttering, has decided she now has other priorities--her three kids.  Now, she says, her house is messy.  So there.  

Monday, October 10, 2022

Fall Colors

Happy Native American Day!
It's good to know that South Dakota is doing something right in regard to the fall celebration of Native People, unlike many of the other states that celebrate rather the arrival of Columbus to the continent.  Much more could be done for South Dakota Native peoples, which was in evidence as a friend and I drove out recently to Custer State Park's Buffalo Roundup.  One might comment on the place name changes that have occurred over time to eliminate some egregious choices--for example, Black Elk Peak, the highest in the Black Hills.  How about dumping Custer from the state park roster?  

But I'm thinking more of the abject poverty that still plagues the tribes.  Efforts to lift reservation communities from their struggles don't seem to be doing the trick.  It's still like a drive through an impoverished country when you approach, and then drive through, places like Pine Ridge.  We could do better, both as a nation and a state.   

Sunday, October 09, 2022

Packing the Days

 Yesterday was an example of the kind of days that have been rolling along this summer and into the fall.  One thing after another as I try to get a number of things taken care of and behind me.  The day began with some typical activities, not under any pressure, having some coffee and solving a few puzzles to keep brain fogginess at bay as the brain ages--sudoku, quiptoquip, mini-crossword, wordle.  Then I got on the treadmill and walked three miles, alternating this past week between running a bit and walking versus just walking.  It feels like things are going better and taking off some pounds I really don't need.  Shower.  

Then breakfast and off to the lumberyard to get some drywall to patch the hole I cut for the plumbing repair, which seems to be working just fine, thank you very much.  Then to the hardware store for new guts for the upstairs toilet, that seems to want to stay running after you flush it.  Both projects await.  

Then off to Winfred to help with the harvest, driving a grain cart for Joe and Gary as they reap the corn rewards of summer.  Meanwhile, plenty of messages rolling in from Casualene and others looking to help a family new to Madison and arrange for a refrigerator delivery since I had one to donate.  Other messages to arrange for help moving the fridge.  With harvest done for the day, off to Tom and Karen's to pick up a dolly to move the fridge (with a nice talk with Tom trying to ease more into easier living), then to Howard to get ready to move it, then John arrived to help (with a nice talk with John about random stuff) and off to Madison to deliver the appliance to a trailer court, where I was met by Casualene and her husband Ken and son Isaac.  Got the fridge in the dilapidated trailer as the family and some young missionaries watched.  

I hadn't been through that trailer court for years, and never often, and the state of things in some of the homes made me both cringe and feel gratitude that my own trailer court days are behind me.  There are those who seem to have so little that a dirty sagging trailer serves as a welcome refuge, and I was happy to know that my donation of a fridge I didn't need would make a difference for them.  

Then, finally home to the wife and supper and some pleasant viewing of Derry Girls, season 3, on Netflix.  

Tucked into all this are brief moments in the tractor jotting down some lines and tidbits inspired from harvest action and aimed at a little poetry.  Finally then, finishing my Roddy Doyle novel Love and off to dreamland.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

More plumbing

 Still more plumbing.  I haven't yet been able to identify where the plumbing leak is, and the plumber I called has not responded to a message on his machine.  So currently the upstairs bathroom is a mess, though the shower and sink are still functional.  Today I need to put the toilet back one way or another, whether there's a leak or not.  We've got company coming.  

My niece Tina and her toddler Violet will arrive in SD on Saturday and my sister Rita will pick them up from the airport.  They'll stay with us a couple of days and visit Mom, who has yet to meet her youngest great-grandchild.  She's looking forward to it.  

News today is of Putin's call for more conscripts to fight his losing battle in Ukraine.  News on that fight is front and center of my news consumption, and the uptick in rhetoric about the invasion sent another chill through me as I think about what it all might mean for the rest of the world.  It's a dangerous situation, with one man with a grudge and an ego to match feeling cornered and condemned by the West.  He's got a lot of power over what Russia does, but perhaps his latest gamble will undermine the support he has for his actions against Ukraine.  

So my plumbing problems are pretty small in comparison to the devastation happening in Ukraine, but I look forward to getting that situation resolved.