Yes. It’s my birthday today. Let’s get that out of the way. Go ahead… get the singing out of the way. The cheers, the drunken revelry… I’ll wait…

Done? No. Oh you’re too kind. Stop. Really. It’s too much.

Thanks. Seriously, as I’m preparing to make this post go live, my Facebook page is already overflowing with birthday wishes. I can’t tell you how good that makes me fee.

On to the other parts of that headline for this post. FRANK LIVES HERE

I was at DogCon in Philadelphia last year in October. As I was hanging out with some of the other RDSP/DSB authors and poets and they mentioned writing Frankenstein poems. They didn’t elaborate, but I’m assuming they were writing about Frankenstein’s monster on one way or another and I immediately said “I can do that.”

As usual, it wasn’t that simple. I couldn’t find an interesting or inspired twist on the theme, but the idea of Frankenstein poem stuck with me. Over the last few months I’ve been toying with my own version of the idea. Much like the monster itself, I decided to cobble pieces together to make a whole new thing. I reached back into my files and found poetry I wrote when I was just starting out, poems that didn’t work for one reason or another. Some because I was just finding my way as a writer, some that were bad ideas, and some that were just bad. Awful, awful, and they haven’t gotten better with age. The dates on the files showed some had been written or saved in 2005 – well over 15 years ago.

Which of course, led me to think about how far I’ve come as a writer and a poet. Looking at these poems, I could see the history of the last decade and a half and what those years have meant. I found works of love, frustration, fear and happiness. In some I could see myself writing what I thought I was supposed to write. I’d read literary journals and thought I knew what would sell or what would win prizes, but as I put my versions to paper (or in the computer), the work had no soul, no compass to direct them. It was writing because I wanted to be published. As I file0001845175736looked at the dates of these files, I saw my work getting better as I practiced, as I wrote more and as I started writing about things that mattered to me. Yes, that included robots and zombies and green skulls. It was fun taking that stroll down memory lane. It was even more exciting to get to the part of that stroll where I could stop cringing at the work I’d done. Sure, it was all necessary to get where I am, but jeez.

I started pulling individual lines from those poems– lines I liked from bad pieces–and putting them together. It ended up a pretty bad mess. It was a little TOO disjointed. I mean, at least Frankenstein’s Monster still functioned, right? In the end, I took passages from five poems and put them together in one piece. It was still pretty random. But once I decided on a title and a structure for the poem, it made more sense, at least to me. It’s still all over the place, but hey, so was Frankenstein’s Monster, right? I haven’t asked any of the poets at DogCon if this was what they intended when they talked about Frankenstein poems, maybe this was the plan all along, but I like what happened here. It certainly made me examine a few things.

I’m pasting my FrankenPoem below. If you’re so inclined to look back through your own work, maybe you can put together a patchwork creature of stuff that makes you cringe from your formative years. This isn’t meant to be a “look-what-I’ve-done, you-can-too” sort of post. It’s a “look-what-I-learned” kind of post. Ready? Here’s what I’ve learned. Keep at it. Write. Write what you want, not what you think others want. Practice. Try, and keep trying. And when you’re tired of trying. Keep trying. End of advice.


file9601237070445Excerpts from the Memoirs of a Substitute Bingo Caller

Chapter 7
They blamed me when someone beat them
to the cheap Dollar Store prizes.
Grumbled and threw their red
plastic
bingo markers on the table
as though I were deliberately calling the wrong numbers
in order to shorten their lives.
I straightened my shirt and pulled B3.
I repeated it as I scanned the crowd
for a bingo or
a gun pointed at my head

B3?

B3…

Chapter 18
If you’ll take the vests
From the dancing bears
I’ll round up the lions
And we’ll be on our way
To the next place on the list
Toward another set of storefronts
Selling cell phones and lube jobs
Flavored coffee and Chinese take-out
Next to abandoned video stores
on the corner.
Another crumbling parking lot
with faded white lines.

Chapter 34
Pitch-covered rooftops dripped dark in the rain as we drive by.
Children at smudged windows, long-faced to be sitting inside on a Saturday.

Chapter 11
I traffic in black market bananas
stolen pomegranates
and plums.
A purveyor of Fine
Forbidden Fruits
in the streets of town square.

Chapter 25100_0342
Are you still into horoscopes and tarot? Do you read leaves?
Do they help you see the future without my magic psychic brain?

How is your moon today?
Is it waxing?
Is it waning?
Is it in the House of Blues?

Chapter 44
I could be in my car at this very moment
With a foot on the gas
I know the drive by heart
Could drive it with my eyes closed
Sometimes do.