Sunday, December 31, 2017

My poem "The Pond" @ Right Hand Pointing today

I have another poem published in Right Hand Pointing. It's called "The Pond" and it's the first poetry I've had at RHP since way back in 2010 when they published a poem of mine called "Phantom Limb" and also named that issue (issue 34) after the poem, a true honor. So follow the links and have a look.

Others with work in this issue include the incomparable Howie Good, along with Kathy Douglas, David Gale, Mark Seidl, John L. Stanizzi, Josh Wetjen, Joanne Jackson Yelenik, and Mark Young.

Lantern Lit Vol. 4 Has a Cover Design

In January, Dog On a Chain Press will release Lantern Lit Vol. 4, a collaborative chapbook of poetry that includes work from William Graham, Mat Gould, and myself. Yesterday publisher and writer Beasley Barrenton sent a wrap design for the book that is just beautiful. It's the handywork of Ryan W. Bradley. Ryan is a good friend of mine and has designed two of my four book covers over the years so I was mighty pleased to find he had put his unique touch on this. Beasley said the chapbook will likely be published in mid-January.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Novel Published, Now Available at Amazon

To the left is a screen captured image of my new book Alice and the Wendigo. I don't have an actual file to share so you can see some badness there at the bottom and in the upper left corner. I can live with it.

This new book had been released earlier this year under the title A True Story: A Novella but I pulled it from publication and entered it into a contest which I did not win. So, it's back in circulation again with the shiny new title and cover (a stock cover from Kindle Direct Publishing because that's how I roll and also because, again, I can live with it).

Some good folks had some good things to say about the novel when it was published before and I'll include some of what they said here to give you a feel for what the book's about.

Below is the description and blurbs from the Amazon page where you can buy it:

Compton's fourth book is a fabulist adventure love story about death and life after death that follows Adelard, who starts off dying and spends a long time in a strange gray world of undeath searching for his elusive and magically shapeshifting wife, Alice, before ultimately battling the mythological Native American beast the Wendigo. Along the way he spends time trapped as a hungry ghost, a bored immortal, and, at times, the Wendigo itself. Alice and the Wendigo is an imaginative exploration that also blurs the lines between myth and fact, what is imagined and what is true, and the artistic lie of fiction in getting to a deeper truth. 

"Held in a cryptic in-between place fraught with many Alices, new bodies that struggle to know hunger and monsters that once were men, Compton's Alice and the Wendigo boldly unfurls itself. With every sentence a poem and its vibrant imagery, Compton completely captures." - xTx, author of Today I Am a Book

"Wild as a charging boar and tender as a raindrop, Sheldon Lee Compton's Alice and the Wendigo is a surreal sleepwalk through a world in which love is a storm and death is a question. It will wake you with a jolt." - Meredith Alling, author of Sing the Song

"Poetic, strange, mythic, and true, this work by Sheldon Lee Compton will take your breath away. It's life and death and love and loss. It's survival and transformation. The artistry is reminiscent of Matt Bell, but it's Compton's inimitable voice that shines through each and every page of this novella." - Kathy Fish, author of Rift and Together We Can Bury It 

In addition to these wonderful blurbs from wonderful people, a few fellow writers wrote reviews of it at Amazon and Goodreads. Here are those reviews:

"I know it comes off as insincere for one indie writer to post five star reviews for other indie authors. I tend to read one to two books a week, and the truth is Mr. Compton's writing strikes a chord with me.

This work reads more like an epic prose poem than standard prose, blending narrative and lyric.

The story is one of horror and beauty. It is like it is narrated by a long-dead cadaver remembering what it was like to be alive, explaining what it is like to be dead, and confronting a dark and foreboding presence that threatens to kill that which is already dead.

If you are expecting a linear narrative, it may not be for you. But if you are ready to kick up your feet and spend a few hours on the astral plane, give it a go." 
- Amazon User in KY

Another review at Amazon from author and friend David S. Atkinson:

"This seems like such a thin thing at first glance, so few words, but you pick it up and bite down to chew and you're chewing and chewing and never seem to grind it down. There's just so much there to work through, so much that is enigmatic and puzzling, this desolate and harsh waste that is at the same time tender. I'd get so focused that I realized I was holding my breath unintentionally, that pulled in. Wonderful stuff. Reminds me in various ways of some of the things I liked best about books like Matt Bell's "In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods" or "We Make Mud" by Peter Markus." - David S. Atkinson

Over at Goodreads (where it's still listed under the old title and cover design) writer and friend Kenny Mooney had this to say:

"Part lyrical prose poem, part allegory, Compton's novella is a magical, weaving tale of guilt, remorse, and love. There's some really great language in this, and some story telling that is satisfying and fully realised. It's a raw examination of a man, dead and drifting through a surreal afterlife in pursuit of, and pursued by, his wife Alice, as well as the various demons of his own; demons that take various shapes and forms: monsters, omens, sinister symbolism, that in the best surrealist tradition, pose questions and then let you put the pieces together, rather than really spoon feeding you all the answers. I was fully engaged with this from the first few sentences, and read it in one gulp. Captivating, sincere, and beautiful in a literary and emotional sense. A fable. A magical fairy tale." - Kenny Mooney

So I'm lucky. Lucky to have a fourth book finished and out there in the world and lucky to have knowledgeable people saying good things about it. 

If you want to get a copy you can do so without much trouble. I wanted to make it free but KDP required I at least put a $2.99 price tag on it. But it is free to those with Kindle Unlimited. On a related note, it's only available in Kindle. This is because I tried to create a paperback option along with the Kindle at KDP but failed. Three times, I failed. It's okay, I can live with it. 

But anyway, yeah, you can pick this one up for not much, but only on Kindle. Okay, here's a link to where you can get it if you want:


Thanks in advance, everybody.


Friday, December 29, 2017

New Reading Plan for 2018, or Proust is Insanely Boring

Here's the situation: Proust writes beautifully but he writes too much. And it's super class heavy. Like middle class and upper class and generally topics I don't care one twit about. Occasionally he writes about art and writing itself and so on, but it's in between. In between parties and who knows who and how much this person needs to be invited to this person's house.

It's boring.

And it's a paragraph that consists of 7,219 words when 25 words would have said the same thing.

I can't take another second of it. Not one more sentence. I read half of the second volume of Proust's In Search of Lost Time and the entirety of the first volume and now I'm effing done. I just cannot read this stuff, the classics. The boredom is overwhelming. It's a thickness that suffocates. It's a dagger pulled from the muscle slooooowly.

What I'm beginning to sense is that there is too much good writing of bad stories. I had been sensing this for a good long time but only got confirmation after Etgar Keret said basically the same exact thing. He said:

"In America, where writers are preoccupied with the craft of writing, I always try to introduce this concept of the badly written good story. Turning the hierarchy around and putting passion on top and not craft, because when you just focus on craft, you can write something that is very sterile. It looks beautiful, but soulless. So I warn them that, often in writing programs, articulation and clarity are more important than what you actually say. Sometimes you have, like, New Yorker stories—there’s a couple, they’re on a cruise, he’s becoming senile, he doesn’t want to acknowledge it, when the woman mentions it to him, he becomes really angry, but in the end he admits it and they sit on the deck, she closes her eyes. And you say, “It’s so well-written, but who gives a fuck?” For certain, the guy who wrote it doesn’t give a fuck. It’s not something that has to do with his life; it’s just something well-written and illuminating, and writing is not about that. The best stories you usually hear are stories that people feel some type of urgency about. Nobody else in the world would look at writing as craftsmanship—it’s totally this Protestant hardworking ethic. You go into this kind of infinite space of imagination and you fence yourself in with all kinds of laws. Why do we have to keep playing this strange game?"

Dude makes scary sense.

So I'm ditching reading the boring stories and I'm going to go with good stories, even if the writing is bad.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2017

Alright it's time for end-of-the-year reading reflection.

I don't much dig long preambles before giving top books lists so here's the ten best books I read this past year in no particular order.


Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

I'm going to read anything Adam Johnson writes ever. He's some kind of literary savant and I didn't even know that was a thing. Read his work (especially this book) and you'll see why. One of three short story collections on the list.

Homesick for Another World by  Ottessa Moshfegh

If I'll read anything Adam Johnson writes ever, then I will actively try to get inside Ottessa Moshfegh's mind and try to read words she intends to write before she ever writes them always. This is her short story collection but I also read her novel Eileen this year. This collection is so so much better but got a lot less attention. I mean it got a lot of attention, but a lot less than Eileen, which won some little award called the MAN BOOKER PRIZE.

Nothing but the Dead and Dying by Ryan W. Bradley

This was a re-read but it's going on the list because I didn't have a list last year. Ryan opened his chest and pulled parts of his heart muscle out and placed them on paper in this collection of stories. Each one is as hard and honest as the Alaska he writes about it in them.

Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins

The only poetry collection on the list. Michael Robbins is a genius, and the only poet I've ever been both able and compelled to quote. Most often quoted line: "I feel ya Ophelia, I said to my nuts."

Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Comic book? Graphic short story collection? It's something but all of that's labels and doesn't matter because of that. This was a beautifully bleak and strange and exotic reading experience. I didn't put these in order but if I had this one would have been really in the running for top of the list.

Gisela by Marcus Speh

Marcus Speh was huge in the indie lit community for a long time and then he kind of went dark zero for a bit. And it was completely worth it. Among many other projects of which I'm sure we'll soon be able to enjoy, Marcus wrote during this time this addictive mosaic novel of historical fiction. It's rich and complex but wonderfully accessible. Based on the historical figure Gisela of Bavaria (ca. 985-1065 A.D.)

2666 by Roberto Bolano

Bolano is one of my favorite writers and I'd read a few other books of his but I knew this opus was lingering in the shadows. This year I took advantage of a one free book giveaway when I signed up for Audible and got 2666. It felt a little like cheating but, unlike when I read The Savage Detectives, I feel like I got this full experience listening to this being read. It's got a lot of murder and death and dead women but there's so much that Bolano is doing with that and then he's also a full-blown literary genius. Read it. Stop putting it off. Listen if you got to. There's no shame in it.

Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck: Rejection Letters from the Eyeshot Outbox by Lee Klein

One of two books by Lee I read this year. His other, a novel based on the Jersey Devil, was good, but this one is great. It's a collection of some of his intensive rejection letters from his time editing Eyeshot, one of the earliest online journals. I'm not sure there's anybody with more craft knowledge than Lee. His rejection letters read like writing workshop lectures from Iowa Writer's Workshop (which Lee is a graduate of, no surprise there). One of the best books on writing you'll ever read.

Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy

This one maybe shouldn't be on the list because it's only 57 pages long which puts it officially in the realm of short story but I'm putting it on the list because it feels like a novel. It should definitely be placed in the realm of novella because of this. But enough defending. This story is why Tolstoy, for my money, is to be remembered for all time as a genius (this word keeps popping up but it should in this kind of list). Now I've not read his great books and I'm going to remedy that this year but this story, wow, this story makes me want to be a better writer or just quit.

Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story on a Postcard by Michael Kimball

Michael Kimball has cropped up on my best of lists many times. The first time was back in 2014 when I was blown away by his book Galaga. This book was one I'd heard about and heard about (along with Big Ray) and had really needed to get my hands on. I finally did and it was great. It ran the risk of being gimmicky but in Michael's hands there's never a worry of slipping into that kind of thing. It is his tribute to fellow writers and weirdos and it is beautiful.

The Reading Plan for 2018

This year I'll be doing less writing and more reading. My total for books read this past year (as of today, Dec. 17) is 90. I've read 90 books and that's great. But I always sort of torture myself by wondering if I'm reading the right books. You know what I mean, the idea that there are core books that everyone should read at some point. My issue becomes that I really prefer contemporary literature, books written by my peers, etc. But how much am I expanding myself by reading mostly new work? This is a question that sticks around in my mind a good bit.

So all that is to say that I've decided what can it hurt to devote one full year of reading to the classics. It's just one year and it'll be interesting to see how much ground I can cover in 365 days.

I'm going to start with Within a Budding Grove...

Wait a minute...I just realized that it'll probably take me all year to read this one book. I won't be covering much ground probably, now that I think of it. But I'm still doing it.

So yep, Within a Budding Grove. And here are some others already on my shelf that I hope to get to this coming year (but probably won't be able to because I read slower than anybody I've ever met).

* Dante's Divine Comedy

* Crime and Punishment

* The Metamorphosis (yep I haven't read it I just realized this week)

* Don Quioxte

I doubt I'll get to even one of these others because DQ will probably take the entire year. But that's my list for now.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Airgonaut - 2018 Best Small Fictions & Pushcart Prize Nominees

I nearly forgot I had nominations to make before signing off from The Airgonaut entirely. My last act as editor gets to be about the most rewarding thing an editor of an online indie journal can do - sling some love.

So the nominations are in and are as follows (with links to stories chosen):


Nina Sudhakar - Memento Arbori

Donora A. Rihn - The Astronaut

Geordie Flantz - Serengeti


Julia Patt - The Girl in the Deer

Michael Díaz Feito - Pentecost

Lynn Mundell - The Story of Three Metals

Santino Prinzi - These Are the Rules of Our Canopy Shyness and Life

Matthew Lyons - Metastasis

Robert Boucheron - Honalee

A hearty good luck to all nominees. I would sincerely love for each of these stories to be chosen and included in the 2018 installment of both of these series.

And a word about the selection process: It was well beyond difficult to narrow favorites down to only six choices for the Pushcart and a mere five choices for BSF. I can truly say that each story I published at The Airgonaut this past year was, in my heart, as good as any published this past year at any journal.

Monday, December 4, 2017

New story published today @ Vestal Review

I'm awfully happy to have a story called "The House in the Northwest Corner" in Issue 52 of Vestal Review.

It's the longest running journal of flash fiction and has been the home of numerous great writers including Steve Almond, Aimee Bender, Sam Lipsyte, Stuart Dybek, Robert Olen Butler, Pamela Painter, and many more.

Mark Budman has edited the journal for an outstanding 17 years.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Relax, It's a Lit Roundup 5

It's been awhile since I've shared some cool stuff from the lit world. As usual, I'm going to get out of the way and go ahead and start the list.

* Vol. 1 Brooklyn has a pretty good preview of books coming out this month.

* Kevin Sampsell has a fine short story called "Out of Nowhere" at Tin House.

* I only recently jumped in and read Bob Schofield's first two books. Really cool and dreamy material. With that in mind, you should know you can preorder his new book The Burning Person. It has a release date set for December 15 from 2FAST2HOUSE.

* For a few months now I've meant to get on here and drop some love for Robert York, writer and curator of The Dreadful Point. His work is hard to categorize or pin down, which, of course, makes it brilliant. Head over and spend some time reading.

* I interviewed writer Fin Sorrel over at Enclave not to long ago. Now I'm reading his new story collection Caramel Floods. You should, too.

So link it up and check these out as soon as you can. And take a minute or two to find a way to let the writers know what you think. Most of us ain't making money doing this so hearing from readers goes a long way.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Books I'm Reading Now

1. The Cosmos Trilogy by Frederick Seidel

2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

3. Journals by Kurt Cobain

4. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

5. JRZDVLZ by Lee Klein

6. Caramel Floods by Fin Sorrel

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Titles of Stories I'm Working on Now

1. The Sun Appears and the Sun Goes Away

2. Two Negatives

3. To the Cherokee Strip

4. The Judas Steer

5. Donna & Morris 4-Ever

6. The Corn Dolly

7. The Shootist

8. Dove/Serpent

9. You Should Always Call a Mountain Grandmother

10. Typhon's Broken Heart

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Post with No Structure, Part of an Ongoing Collection

Home alone today...for awhile at least. My father in law is bringing me lunch in an hour or so and my daughter will be coming by to see me later this afternoon. My great love Heather is back at work after a week and a half off with me for the surgery. I miss her and the house is quiet and lonely and strange.

It's been a couple of hours since I started this blog post. I've had my lunch and now I'm watching Criminal Minds in that binge kind of way I tend to do when I need my mind fully occupied. Talked with Heather a few minutes ago and I've got a plan to talk my family doc into signing a release for me to return to work with no duties. That kind of thing. I'd do better sitting at work and talking with my friends and being able to see Heather than I am sitting here lonesome and feeling strange and out of sorts.

Well, this isn't very interesting, I imagine. It's recovery rambling without purpose. Been doing a lot of that here lately. What can I say? Not much in the mood to write pieces that have essay-like precision et cetera. Not really sure I can do that or ever have. Doesn't matter.

Doesn't matter. Yes indeed. That's something that's happened since my heart surgery. My lifeline has been shortened. Well, it's been lengthened. But at the same time I have to face the reality that I have a bad heart. A really bad heart and a blood disorder that makes it even worse. I'm not going to trying to figure out what to do during my eighties. Let's put it that way. But the doesn't matter thing can be summed up by saying that with certain perspective a sizable chunk of worries and concerns just sort of slide away. A person begins to focus on the really really big stuff, the important stuff. Family, loved ones. A sense of purpose, of place. The little things really and honestly do not matter all that much.

Rambling again.

Okay, so I'm going to sign off for now. I've got another episode of Criminal Minds coming up and I'm due some Tylenol, as my sore and aching chest and heart muscle has been telling me for the past hours.

Monday, November 27, 2017

JMWW Nominated "A Sensational Tale of Symbolic Patricide" for Best Small Fictions

So Jen Michalski and the rest of the wonderful editors at JMWW nominated my short story "A Sensational Tale of Symbolic Patricide" for Best Small Fictions today. I've been reading JMWW for nearly ten years and it's one of my favorite journals. I hadn't submitted anything to them in a long time when I sent this story their way. It seemed to have that JMWW feel to it, seriously. I guess it really must have. They published it fairly soon after accepting it and now it's up for inclusion in BSF. I'm so grateful to everyone there, but especially Jen, Linda Simoni-Wastila, Kristin Bonilla, Kristin Bonilla, Becca Borawski Jenkins, and Jolene McIlwain.

Below is the link to their announcement. Congratulations to the other writers listed!

Our 2018 Pushcart and Best Small Fictions Nominations!

Checking In All Journal Style

10:20 a.m.

There's no way I can make it another four weeks out from work. I need my routine back. Bad. I see now why people who are 97 and still working basically refuse to retire. It's all over after the routine is gone. I bet it's just a matter of days after that. Feels like it would be.

I've been checking out some really cool online journals I'd forgotten about. Most of the morning I've been traveling around reading from these. I'm definitely going to be sending some work to them soon.

It's pretty much time for my a big ol' nap so I'm going to do that. I've started thinking about cigarettes again and I can't believe I'm doing that. It's ridiculous. I know if I go back to smoking I'll only live maybe another three years. That's crazy. Addiction is crazy. I'm rambling. I know I am. But I'm okay with that. Okay, so I'll check back in later.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

It Was a Stranger Things and Sixth Sense Kind of Morning

It's been a good day of recovery so far. I've spent some good time with my Great Love this morning. We watched a few episodes of season two of Stranger Things and enjoyed it. Enjoyed enjoying the time together. I had some kind of flashback thing happen shortly afterwards where I started worrying real bad that we wouldn't have much more time left together because of my heart not being healthy. It got me in a real real bad way. But before that an episode made us want KFC chicken bad and we went down the road and got a big bucket. Came home and ate like a king and a queen. I think that was what made what happen happen, because it was such a great morning in that way. Simple and wonderful and all because I was spending it with her. I just can't handle the thought of leaving her, the thought of her feeling anything but happy and peaceful. I just can't handle a thought like that anymore. She's been through so much.

Now I'm watching The Sixth Sense. I'm just on week two of a six week recovery and I don't know how I'm going to do it. Heather goes back to work in two days and then I'll have my daughter and my mom here staying with me some but it will also be a lot of time when I'm just here alone. I can't do that very well. I used to could, but not now. I guess I'll read and write a lot, watch a lot of tv. Those are the things I've done before when I couldn't do anything else. But yep The Sixth Sense. An absolute classic and maybe the straight up best horror movie ever made. Hard to argue. Really hard to argue.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

With Great Abandon and Courage

Watching a Coltrane documentary. Wow, him and Davis and Dizzy and Charlie Bird. That whole event that happened on the planet at that time. It was an event. I suppose there are those kinds of events in all endeavors - art, literature, science, technology - but somehow this event with these guys seems to have the most magic of them all.

From what I can gather it was about moving forward without a plan and discovering that which can be great. I think it's why Ondaatje chose Buddy Bolden as a subject for Coming Through Slaughter. Ondaatje is a guy who, as he says, "casts his line out into the dark." I love that. He moves ahead with no plan or plotting, only discover. I've always done the same thing with my stories. Sometimes it pays off other times it doesn't. But when it does (and those are the only ones we keep, right?) it really really does. I couldn't imagine sitting down and plotting out a story and then getting a laptop out and typing it all out like I was taking diction or something like that. A writer might as well give up storytelling and become a court stenographer.

If you're out there and jumping ahead with great abandon and courage, telling a story you're not sure will come together by the time you get to the next page, I praise you as a high and mighty true practitioner of the craft.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Heart Surgery Chronicles - Day 7

3:15 a.m.

I've developed an early routine here less than a week into recovering from surgery. Whenever I wake up (this morning that was 2:50 a.m. or thereabouts) I put on some coffee and start an episode of Cheers. I ease into that head space, a kind of mixbag of 80s and 90s love, and then start with whatever story I'm working on at the time.

This morning that story is one I've been calling "Food in Jars". But that's not going to be the title. It'll be something else entirely for sure. Yesterday morning the story was one called "Causality Dilemma" which I had already finished (I thought) and had submitted to around ten journals or so. Well, it needed work so I withdrew it and did the work and send it the same journals again. I know it's better now but maybe not good enough for any of those places. I don't mind it so. Writing it was the main thing for me.

I may check back in again today but who knows. If I do I'm only going to add to this post. I'm off to try to find the penultimate scene for this story so I can then immediately start working on the next one.

8:40 a.m.

Communication breakdown. I'm running out of pain medicine and will soon be without any at all and suffering. I think the way I'll deal with that is forget that it's coming and enjoy however many pain-free moments I have left before it all goes sideways.

3:35 p.m.

Just had some pineapple upside down cake with milk. And, before that, turkey, mashed potatoes, baked beans, and rolls. Thanksgiving leftovers. Not much going on besides that. I wrote a rare post on Facebook concerning agents and Tyrant Books. I'll probably go and delete it in about fifteen minutes.

5:06 p.m.

I've worked since about four this morning on a short story and just trashed about 90 percent of it. The 10 percent I'm keeping is good though. I think I can make something of it. I like the title really well at this point - "Donna & Morris 4-Ever". The small bit I kept had to do with the many ways Donna wants to kill Morris. Such a thin line.

After today I'll be out of medication for pain. It's going to get pretty intense so be on the watch for that. As of this moment, I'm ready to settle in for the night with a good movie (Life, the one with Ryan Reynolds, etc. that's about a little critter turning into an alien or something like that) and a good book, one my daughter gave me yesterday called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Wish me luck as I let these two entertainments drift me off into sleep. When I wake, the whole deal will be much more painful.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

It Only Hurt When I Breathed

So I'm hurting this morning. The pain medication wore off sometime in the night. The sac that my heart hangs in is inflamed and swelled. Whenever my heart beats (or more accurately, about every three to four beats) there is a spear of hot pain that runs through my chest, mostly my heart. It finally got bad enough that I gave up trying to sleep and got up about thirty minutes ago.

Percocet. Colchicine. Zofran. Bottled water, room temperature. Seedless grapes.


Resting means writing, today and likely every day for the next five weeks. I've got a pile of books I want to read while recovering, but writing will be the key. Writing is always the key. Among the books are Amelia Gray's novel Threats and Frederick Seidel's The Cosmos Poems. After that it's a couple of Bolaño's I've been eager to read  - Distant Star and By Night in Chile.

The meds are working good now and the pain is gone for a bit. I need this for more reasons than simply to be free of pain. I've had a bit of trauma I'm working through, too. My medication Antabuse (used for alcoholism but also opiate addiction) was in my system at the time of my surgery. I had taken a couple doses within the time frame that it would still be present and I hadn't remembered doing so. Couple this with the fact that the surgical staff had no idea about it either, and you've got a torturous situation worthy of Hell itself.

Post-op I felt everything, was there for every single second of it. Pulling the drain tube from my chest. Check. My deflated lung pushing against my ribs whenever I took a breath. Check. All of it. It took twenty-six hours for anyone to figure out the Antabuse had effectively blocked the pain medication. I took shallow breathes that felt like knife wounds for that entire twenty-six hours, and that's all I did. I couldn't eat, couldn't drink fluids, couldn't sleep. For one day and two hours my entire existence was pain.

When the medical team did figure out how to help me (which included, among other things, an epidural along with a couple nerve blockers) I could only wait for it to start up again. It hasn't yet, but I'm scared it might, so I wait. I read, I write, and I wait.

At least I'm alive to do it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

That Human Magic

Shooting for Zen, settling for a peaceful two minutes.
Where do I start? With the heart surgery I guess.

I had a rare, minimally invasive bypass surgery this past Friday. It was the first done at the hospital where I had the operation. The local news ran a story about it. The surgery team was on electronic billboard ads outside the hospital the next day. My feet were there, under a green prep sheet, sticking out from the lineup of proud medical professionals posing for the picture.

Basically it was a whole thing.

And it saved my life.

In addition to this fare of poor health was a CT scan result of my lungs that showed some opacity and air pockets. These disturbing scans were found to be perfectly normal for a person who had smoked for as long as I had.

Two huge scares dealt with and done this past weekend. And it's not been the case without some good old fashioned human magic.

I've had so many writers and genuinely good people reach out and offer good vibes and prayers and positive words over the past week. To each of you I say a grateful thanks. If you only knew what I endured post-opt you'd know that every single bit of that human magic was needed. Put simply, I'm literally lucky to be here. And lucky to have people who continue to hope that I am.

Look for some upcoming posts detailing those post-op hours. They were the hardest of my life so far.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Great Jones Street Left Me Speechless & JMWW Made My Day

It has been a really good writing week for me so far. It couldn't come at a better time as I'm about to go into surgery. My spirits couldn't be any higher.

To begin with, Great Jones Street featured a story of mine yesterday and then also informed me this morning that they've launched a "Sheldon Lee Compton Week" there. I'm nearly speechless. It kind of blows my mind.

Before this, a couple days back, I received an acceptance from the top of the line lit journal JMWW for a story called "A Sensational Tale of Symbolic Patricide". When this story hit their website I started getting a lot of responses from people saying how much they liked it. In some cases, going so far as to say they loved it. That kind of thing can put wind in a writer's sails for months and months. Years even. For this I have the following editors to thank at JMWW - Jen Michalski, Linda Simoni-Wastila, Kristin Bonilla, Kristin Bonilla, Becca Borawski Jenkins, and Jolene McIlwain, who all hit the thumbs up button on this story and made my day. Not to mention the artwork they chose is absolutely bullseye.

Back over at Great Jones Street I have three people to thank (to my knowledge, as I know there are probably several more I don't know of. These GJS folks are amazing - Kelly Abbott, Eric Ancker, and Ken Truesdale.

And to everyone who has sent me words of support and encouragement over the past week, thank you. I'm so fortunate to have too many of you to list here without forgetting someone. Just know that you've helped keep me positive by simply a word or two. That's the true power of language sometimes.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Thanks for the Love & Support

I'm so grateful to my family, my Great Love, my beautiful children, my Great Friend, and the many fantastic friends I have in the indie lit community for all the kind words and deeds over the past several days. That kind of love is magical. Thank you all so much.

Friday, November 3, 2017

New Art: Tattoos #8 and #9

Had a couple firsts today as far as my tattoos are concerned. I got my eighth and ninth pieces done this afternoon, the first time I've sat for two in one day, and, another first, they were both color pieces. I'm pumped. Here's a couple early photos of them, all shiny with A&D and a little swollen. The guitar is for my dad. It was important in his life. So much so that he has one on his tombstone. Guy could play. Starting teaching me at age five whether I wanted it or not. The sparrow is for my grandmother Wanda. I have no real reason for this but have always thought of her when I see a sparrow or hear about a sparrow. The word itself has always brought her to mind. So there she is, always visible to me.My plan now is to go back and have color added to all my other tattoos. I didn't think I would be, but I'm a fan of color at this point. So these are the new ones.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Dogzplot is one of my favorite (easily in my top five) online literary journals. Likewise, Barry Graham, the journal's founding editor, is one of my favorite writer people. Just a great guy all around. I've been really pleased to have two stories published there over the past near decade. One of them I'll share here today. It's called "K" and was based on a really good friend of mine, which is to say that a whole whole lot of it is just plain true. Hope you enjoy, and give Dogzplot and its current editor Jesse Eagle some love while you're there.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Three New Poems @ Anti-Heroin Chic

I have three poems appearing today at Anti-Heroin Chic. Many kind thanks to editor James Diaz for again giving my work a home there. It's one of the best around, folks.


"Buddha Rat"


"Filicide Muse"

Monday, October 30, 2017

An October Hello To My Ten or Twelve Readers, or An October Hello To My One Reader

Without using the share option and posting links to Facebook and Twitter, I've found that I have a nice, tidy audience of about ten to twelve people here.

Or, conversely, one person who visits ten to twelve times whenever I post.


Here's a song I think you'll like:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Lot of People Are Too Sensitive

Mixbag - Sunday Morning, 9:29 a.m.

I bought a watch. It makes me feel like it's the 80s again. Anything I can do to make that happen more I will.

I finished a story called "A Sensational Tale of Symbolic Patricide" a couple of days ago. Sent it to a few journals to see if they like it. Now starts the months-long wait. Seems like editors get upset when I talk about long response times. I figure that makes us even-Steven.


I have a sink full of dishes to do this morning and it's the bane of my existence right now. All I want to do is sit here on the laptop and do stuff like write blog posts. I'm lazy. And I'm starting to be really honest about that. I should be writing two book reviews for American Book Review but I can't see myself doing it. I don't like writing book reviews for money. I'd rather do what Rusty Barnes so perfectly refers to as appreciations. I want to read books I like and then if I feel like it write about how much I liked it. Also, I'm lazy. I'm probably not going to write the reviews. I'm certainly not going to read one of the two books they sent me. It's a situation but I'm working on forgetting about it.


I'm trying to watch American Horror Story Cult. I say trying because I can't figure out if it's about clowns, politics, alternate lifestyles, or cult leaders. Evan Peters is great. I grabs up all the attention whenever he's on camera. Every scene. Sarah Paulson is great but her character is kind of whiny in an irritating sort of way. But she did just go off on some people in this last episode. Maybe there's hope. It does have Twisty the Clown from the Freak Show so I guess that alone should make it a win. I'm probably being too hard on it. But the whole Trump election thing feels too soon maybe. Too soon? I don't know. Too something.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lantern Lit Vol. 4 Is Coming Soon

Beasley Barrenton, the mind behind Dog On A Chain Press, asked me a couple of months ago if I had any poems I'd like to send him for a collaborative poetry chapbook made up of work from myself and two other writers.

Would I? Does a hillbilly talk funny?

Of course I sent him the material - fifteen or so of the poems I've written over the past several months. He liked most of them and I sent others to supplant the titles he thought were best left out.

I heard from him today with some updates, the most exciting of which was the names of the other writers who will make up the three-part collaboration. Those will be poets William Graham and Mat Gould. According to Beasley both Graham and Gould also live in Appalachia. This makes Lantern Lit Vol. 4 particularly enticing to consider, he said. I can't wait to see how all this comes out.

Have a look at the prior installments of the Lantern Lit series.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Brad Listi's fundraiser for Matthew and Cathreen Salesses

Brad Listi is doing a really good fundraiser for Matthew Salesses and Matthew's family. Please take part. I am. 

Matthew's wife Cathreen has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Here's the Salesses family.

From Brad:

"Cathreen is currently in Korea receiving treatment. she has their youngest child with her. Matt is currently in the States with their eldest. Needless to say, this is very difficult for them—and is made all the more difficult due to financial stresses that it is bringing to bear on them. With this in mind, I had an idea.over the years, many podcast listeners have asked me to make Otherppl t-shirts.  a good thought, but I was never able to get my shit together to act upon it—until now. Thinking about Matt and Cathreen and their kids, and wanting to help their cause, it occurred to me that I could do a fundraiser. So here I am. For a limited time only, I'm selling Otherppl t-shirts."

The goal is admirable, the shirts are really cool. Go do it, folks. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

FROM THE ARCHIVES: "Gratch's Abstract Action" @ > kill author

I had the good fortune to see two of my short stories published at the once and always stellar online journal > kill author. Everyone who recounts > kill author has only amazing things to say about it. It had mystery (the editors remained anonymous throughout the journal's 20-issue run) and published a ton of really good writers (among them Cezarija Abartis, Lauren Becker, Roxane Gay, Matt Bell, Mel Bosworth, Jimmy Chen, Sean H. Doyle, Elizabeth Ellen, Ashley Farmer, Mickey Hess, Christopher James, Shane Jones, xTx, Lisa Lim, Ravi Mangla.....Well, you get the idea).

You really should take a look at their list of contributors and spend some time reading the work they had published there. And please do also have a look at this one from me called "Gratch's Abstract Action" if you'd like. The story was included in their very first issue, I'm proud to say.

Here's the thing about > kill author: I spend a lot of time thinking about when the next > kill author will show up. I know it will.

Even small miracles are prone to repeat. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Prayed for Something Small and Selfish

I prayed for something today. I pray to the best idea I have for what or who created us or from which we came. I do it with all the faith I have because I do have faith in the concept I just detailed, if vaguely.

I prayed today for the first time about something other than the health, safety, and happiness of my family and myself. The thing I prayed about is almost too minimal and selfish to mention. I hesitate. My instincts are to keep it to myself or risk humiliation. To be clear, if I hadn't already prayed, I would now back out of it. If I could take it back, I would.

It was writing related, you see.

You heard me. I really can't believe I did it. I've always been very particular about what I pray for. Somehow I always felt that it had to be a fairly epic thing to merit mentioning in prayer, for whoever or whatever is God, that is. Epic on that scale. Family, health, safety, etc. Not writing. Not literature. I'm still kind of stunned at myself.

But it's already happened, already been done, and I can't take it back now.

There is, though, a subtle sense of comfort or, more specifically, a reinforced hope that couldn't have materialized without praying. It's a strange feeling. A good one. But here's the rub: I don't have faith that it will actually help in any way. All that can help has already been done - writing the work; it's for others to decide how well I've done.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fail Better: Learning To Let Go as a Reader and a Writer

Tonight I begin again on a book I'm writing that may have no ending at all. And no hope for one.

It's doesn't even have a title. Or a narrative thread. It has characters and lovely sentences and insight and fun and things I find interesting or peculiar. It has death and love and immortality and no discernible purpose. It was started a year and one month ago and have swelled at one time to more than 200 pages and now rests at a much more slim 78. If it gains no more or loses or deepens again to beyond 3,000 pages is something a care not one bit about. Length means nothing, not in literature.

You certainly wouldn't know this to be the case, though. Books like Infinite Jest, In Search of Lost Time, The Instructions, 2666, and on forever are held in the very highest esteem. They are called Opus and genius and all manner of flirtatious nonsense. They are fundamentally good books. That is all. And that is enough. Page number has nothing to do with it. Just as The Great Gatsby or To the Lighthouse or Of Mice and Men or Invisible Cities or The Catcher in the Rye or Coming Through Slaughter. I could go on.

All that matters is the fun and the interesting and the peculiar. At least in my world. And I mean all of these points as they pertain to the writer, not the reader. That's right. Entertain yourself, of course. For instance, I'm writing a short story at the moment that is about a homunculus. I'm having a blast. I think that because of that when other people read it they'll have a good time, too. And that's all I want.

But what of this insane anti-narrative book without a title and with no clear purpose? Oh yes, that's fun, too. No worries. And it will translate to a reader. If (and this is important) they give in to it. That's vital. It's the only way to enjoy a book like 2666, for instance. Or something by Gaddis or Perec. Give in, let go, enjoy. Stop taking everything so seriously. 

It's fun to open your mind as a writer and let the thoughts go where they might without planning, allowing one second of prose to build into the next second of prose and then see what happens. I do this with nearly all my work. The stories in which I have not done this are stories that were never completed. You'll never read them. They went bust a quarter through or half through. That's the risk of writing without a safety net. The project ain't always going to pan out. Big deal. Start another. Fail better, as the old boy said.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Reading is Writing and Writing is Reading

Some reading jots.

I'm reading Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle (checked out from the library because it was too damn expensive to buy everywhere I looked) Unruly Creatures by Jennifer Caloyeras (this one for American Book Review with my review draft due by Nov. 15) and Unpacking the Boxes by Donald Hall (a cool memoir about his life as a poet. Kinda short and it started off a little slow but it's getting better).

Those are the hard copy books I've got working right now in the world of reading. On audio I'm knocking out Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, while on my Kindle phone app I'm reading Get in Trouble by Kelly Link. Which reminds me: I just bought her first collection Stranger Things Happen on Kindle for a mere $1.95. Here's the link to get that, if you're interested:


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tackett Named New Editor-in-Chief at The Airgonaut

Jereny Tackett, Editor-in-Chief
My goodness am I happy to be making this announcement.

The Airgonaut will be continuing and, in fact, growing in wonderful directions with my great friend Jereny Tackett taking up the mantle as Editor-in-Chief. Jereny is a creative mind like no other I've known, and I've known him for more than 30 years, so that's saying a lot.

I've talked with him over the past month about possibility stepping into this role with the journal and it's now a reality. During those conversations I can tell you that he has shared some exciting ideas he plans to put into place. Videos, music, artwork, photography. With his creative vision at play, there are truly no limits.

And Jereny plans to make the transition very smooth. Nothing will change as to how you can send your work in for consideration, and he intends to keep innovation at center stage, hoping to encourage artists from all walks of life and style a place for the unique view of the world.

I can tell you without reservation that I could not have hoped for a better, more suited person to see take over things at The Airgonaut. Jereny has been and will continue to be a selfless patron of the arts in the truest sense of the word.

Stand by for exciting times and please drop by and say hello to Jereny when you get the chance. He's for sure one of the good ones. But you'll learn that for yourself, and very soon.

CLICK HERE to read Jereny's Letter from the Editor at The Airgonaut.

Monday, October 9, 2017

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Bakadewin (Hunger) @ Live Nude Poems

This one continued my preoccupation with the Wendigo. I'm still preoccupied, but this was when I was, too.

Read the poem, and thanks to my friend Rusty Barnes for publishing it.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Oui, mademoiselle Hamilton, je suis ici aujourd'hui.

Learning French. I'm trying. I feel like I've not learned a thing (been studying about a week with an app called Duolingo. I know I've absorbed some of it, but words like are, have, etc. are getting me sideways right now. Sometimes are is somme and sometimes it's etes, or something like that. I need words to be consistent. One word can mean fifty different things and still be spelled the same, but I need the word itself to be static. I need that in my life.

What it is, is I'd like to Baudelaire in the original. In particular Paris Blues. Really that's the only thing I'm interested in with Baudelaire right now. Prose poems. I've had a look at his lyric poems and, as you'd expect, things lose focus real fast.

Charles Baudelaire is not playing around with you. This is effing serious.

But I took some French during my freshman year of high school and somehow a bit of it stayed around. Not more than a few sentences, but it was some at least. I think I'll have a better chance to learn another language now that I've been studying English for many more years now. At the time, I'd only been writing seriously for about two years, so my understanding of the relationship between words (no matter the language) was really limited.


I'm tired of writing about learning French, but I want to keep writing this post so I'm switching subjects in a jarring sort of way.

I'm back to reading southern literature again for the time being. William Gay, in particular. He has these moments when he's describing nature where he gets really poetic and you can just tell he realizes that he's already described the chalky purple of twilight spilling into a copse of firs about four hundred times and doesn't care. I like that part. The part where he didn't care. He liked writing those scenes about that stuff in that way and so he did it. I want to see writers be a little more selfish. Break a wall and step right in as Ondaatje did at the end of Coming Through Slaughter. Describe the sky fifty times in the first half of a novel. I'm not always expecting writers to be perfect, but I do want them to be writing for themselves more than they're writing for me.

An example that has to do with titles:

After the success of Fight Club, Chuck Palahnuik's editors and publishing house, for some reason (I guess because his novels Choke and Survivor did well) wanted him to do only one-word titles. They wanted it contracted. Publishers do that kind of horribleness, press a writer to make all of his or her titles sort of similar so that the way average reader can spot them on the shelf in Rite-Aide or whatever. That's at least one reason. Who knows the rest of it. But he did, Chuck. Lullaby. Rant. Haunted. Snuff. It made me sick to see. It made my writer heart hurt a lot.

So Palanhuik and writers who are doing this thing with titles are not writing for themselves. A title is one of the most important things about a book. No one can deny this. And writers are allowing publishing houses to impose on them these limitations that make it theirs and not the writer's. It's seriously hard to watch.

Okay so I'm off to write my new books The Same Terrible Rain, Brown Glass, and Where Chimpanzees Sleep. You guys have a good one.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I Grew My Mustache Out and Now I'm Thinking About Westerns

Javier Bardem in the best role of his career as Anton Chirguh in No Country for Old Men.

I've got this really good mustache. I mean, I'm going to have to trim it at this point, but it's pretty fantastic. Think Wyatt Earp. Think Wild Bill. Think Sam Elliott. Well, maybe not Sam. But it's trim time, I think.

I'm a mere inch or so from being the dad on American Chopper. It's become a thing. When something steps out of the general realm and becomes a thing - something others would take note of, say, in Food City - it's time to fade back into the obscure. I'm not on the run from the FBI, but it's okay to keep in practice.

But all the Old West thoughts that my mustache has been stirring up in me had me eager to share my list of favorite contemporary westerns. Yes, contemporary. It's time we retire High Noon, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and begin embracing more recent westerns to place within the canon. Here's some of mine.

Unforgiven - Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood. This is one most people are familiar with. It's brilliant.

Wild Bill - One of my all-time favorites. Jeff Bridges plays Wild Bill Hickock and does it in his own special fashion. Historical inaccuracies, but who cares.

Open Range - Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall. It has all the classic tropes and invents some more along the way. And the show down, it has maybe the absolute best initiation ever, cutting away the usual drama connected with that moment.

Deadwood - An HBO series that ran only three seasons and never let me down, not a single episode. Packed full of amazing character actors and written as well as anything on television, Aaron Sorkin included.

No Country for Old Men - Very familiar, most likely. And, yes, it is a western. A damn good one. Bardem owns the world in this one.

There Will Be Blood - Not a western in the shoot 'em up sense of the genre, but set during a time close to the Old West and certainly full of white hats and black hats, both which often blur into gray often enough to be perfect. Daniel Day-Lewis's best performance, and that's saying a ton.

The Proposition - I probably have a bias I should acknowledge in including this one. The screenplay was written by one of my favorite musicians, Nick Cave. But here's the thing...Nick can write. No one should have doubted it to start with. Listen to one song and you'll see that. All the good stuff is in this one, and Guy Pierce is a power house.

Tombstone - A lot of people won't agree with me on this one, but Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday takes this one into the stratosphere. And it's just crazy fun.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - I'd put this one on the list even if it didn't have the most artfully shot and scripted opening of any movie in the past ten years. If you watch that and stop, you're probably not breathing.

Django Unchained - I love a good guy winning big in the end, and Django wins big big in this one. The bounty hunting scenes takes it over the top, though.

Bone Tomahawk - Simultaneously my favorite western and horror movie of 2015. Scenes that will burn themselves onto the surface of your eyeballs. And one of two excellent westerns Kurt Russell starred in that year, the other being The Hateful Eight, which almost took The Proposition's place on this list. Bias, like I said.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Gaze of Genius

Roberto Bolaño, circa 1970

Mental Health Day (Stress Day)

I'm taking a mental health day from work today. I spend my days through the week working as a substance abuse counselor about an hour from where I live. It's a long drive to work and a long drive home. And all the hours there are stressful. Take all of these and then include the fact that I have to get up for work at 4 a.m. and you can see how it starts to add up.

The majority of my stress day so far I've spent sleeping. That's due to the 4 a.m. thing all the way. But I also made some really cool finds at my local library. I hadn't visited there since beginning to read and study poetry, so I hadn't been in that section. There's a lot of nice stuff going on in that section. I checked out Madness, Rack, and Honey today and almost had another heart attack when I came across it in the stacks. There she was, in Pikeville, Kentucky. Sadly, some other folks were not I thought would really be there. But still, a good day at the library. Especially a good day (and I'm adding this on an edit because I forgot earlier) because the librarian invited me to do a book signing there. I took in a copy of my book Brown Bottle to donate, something I've done with all my books so far, and she invited me when she realized after asking my last name to check my account that I had written it. So that was cool.

The only other thing I've did today is write and drink coffee. Brewing a new pot right now. After that, my mental health day ends. I've got to cut the grass (hopefully for the last time until spring) burn some garbage (got to wait until after 6 p.m. to do that because of a burn ban going on right now) and haul some old wood down into the barn. I'll be tired, but I'll be able to go back to sleep in enough time to get back up at 4 a.m. Everything is planned around having to get up at that time when you have to get up at that time.

Coffee is done and I'm going to have a cup. You probably were not at all interested in my day, but I just went right ahead and shared it there.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: "Some Place Like Destin" @ Cooper Street

This story is one that will be included in my new Appalachian short story collection. It was originally published at Cooper Street but had been submitted under a different title. It was originally titled (and will be titled this in the new collection) "How to Get to Destin." I understood the reasoning of the editor at the time but must concede that one is better than the other. Read about a lawyer called Bone and let me know if you enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Work at Ghost Parachute

Thanks to editor Brett Pribble, I have some new work up at the literary journal Ghost Parachute this month. The issue went live this evening and includes my piece "Stress Cardiomyopathy".

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Short Story Time Again

Gonna set poetry aside for now and return to the form I'm really supposed to be trafficking in, flash fiction and the short story. That's where my instincts lie, my raw ability. Every time I write a poem, I feel like I'm pretending. I even wrote a poem called "The Good Pretender" and only today thought about what might have been going on under the surface of my thoughts when I wrote it.

I know I can write short stories. I wrote a novel and it was mediocre. I've written some poetry and it was whatever it is. I don't even know how to judge it. Something's got to give here.

So look for more short stories, maybe here at Bent Country, because I'm becoming disillusioned again with the publishing community. I shouldn't allow rejection to cause this within me, but I do. I'm not even sure I have a choice; it's just how my mind works, a self-pitiful wheel that turns me back again and again to the forms I'm most comfortable with rather than the forms that are fun to experiment with.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Sky is Mind-Blowing and Other Imaginations

Ancient Aliens is a show I watch a lot. Most of the time it's sort of soothing comfort tv thing, background noise I can watch bits of here and there and enjoy. I don't know all the guest speakers on the show by their full names. I call my two favorite Sing Song Dave and Snuff. Snuff is that guy all those alien memes were about. Crazy hair with him holding his hands out and the word ALIENS under him. Variations on that. Snuff is great. So is Sing Song Dave. He talks about our alien ancestors and gets pretty excited, which then makes him speak in these highs and lows that sounds like he's singing a little children's song.

But I'm an Ancient Aliens fan all the way. I don't agree with most of what they propose, always with that great sort of tagline from the narrator, something a little like this: "Could mummies be proof that aliens visited and gave us the knowledge of reincarnation? Ancient astronaut theorists say yes." Those cats always say yes. It's beautiful.

But tonight while watching another episode that focused on how cultures across time and distance have depicted in their art all these gods with wings, flying chariots, etc. something occurred to me. Instead of aliens visiting us and blowing people's minds, it's really likely we've just always had this crazy fascination with the sky. Imagine what early humans must have thought of cloud formations and the sun in general, or the way the skyline can sometimes turn red at dusk in certain places and a deep blueblack at other times. And that's just during the day. At night, I have no doubt early humans were losing their collective minds. Stars, the moon, sometimes a sky without stars and sometimes with stars. Where did all those white dots go? Hey they're back! I mean people were likely constantly jacked up about all this. Of course the sky, flying, all things associated with the heavens as it were, was the subject of a lot lot lot lot of discussion, myth-making, etc.

Without question, I'm not the only person who's ever thought this, but it seems to me a lot can be explained by keeping in mind the absolute power of the imagination and people's compulsion to explain the unexplained.

But, truthfully, I'm about 50/50 with the whole thing. It's just as likely that future us folk have been visiting here for awhile. Maybe even planted us here to form the seedbed of some kind of insurance for the lasting of the species. Or it could just be the sky is really awesome and always has been.

Cool thing is, there's something that explains all this strangeness. And I, for one, would prefer the answer be incredibly interesting and odd. There's enough realism in the world as it is.

Monday, September 25, 2017

My Poems in a Collaborative Chapbook Series Called Lantern Lit

I hadn't submitted anything in a fairly long time but some of the pieces I had out have been returned accepted this past week, so that's always a cause for celebration. Remember, celebrate your writing victories, always. If even in a small way. It's hard out here and celebration should happen any chance you get.

I'll have three poems appear in Anti-Heroin Chic in late October. Two of the three poems are footnote poems called "Filicide Muse" and "Nokemon". The third poem is called "Buddha Rat". I'm really grateful to editor James Diaz for once again including my work at AHC. My short story "Behavioral Husbandry" appeared there earlier this year.

Also, Unbroken Journal will publish another piece of mine this coming January. The flash story/prose poem was started and honed in The Flash Factory at Zoetrope not very long ago, so I surely thank everyone there for their kind insights and suggestions. The piece is called "Aversion" and, as with Diaz, I'm seriously thankful to UJ's founder and editor-in-chief R.L. Black for giving a chance to be in a journal I couldn't hold in higher regard.

These single publications are always wonderful, but the news I've saved for last is the news that had me wondering if someone was sort of jerking me around. Or that I was asleep. That kind of Twilight Zone feeling.

Sometime in the spring, I think it was, I spoke online with Beasley Barrenton, the founding editor of Dog On a Chain Press, about ISBN numbers. This is the kind of thing writers and editors, etc. can be found discussing at any given moment. But we connected more solidly through that conversation. We talked some here and there online when we could and then a couple weeks ago Beasley asks if I'd like to submit roughly 20 pages of poetry to him for the fourth installment of his Lantern Lit chapbook series. 

I was stunned. But this didn't stop me from responding immediately and accepting the offer. The series publishes a chapbook of three poets, each offering about that 20-page count of poetry for a full-length chap. I'd only started writing poetry this year and now I had the chance to send some work his way and maybe share in a chapbook with some top notch writers. It really was too good to be true. But I reckon it is true. So I'll be sharing updates on the status of that project as things move along.

Like I said, I have a lot to celebrate this month, so I thought I'd celebrate it here, at my bent little home. Okay, see you later. Drive fast; take chances.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

FROM THE ARCHIVES: "Everything After Eddie" @ People Holding

Still celebrating with my little self getting a piece in People Holding. Such a super innovative journal from concept to writing, the whole nine yards.

Here's my story "Everything After Eddie."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Update About the Airgonaut

I've published for the last couple of years an online journal called The Airgonaut. I've placed a submission closed update there this afternoon due to the fact that I'm finished with editing for the time being.

Since 2002 I've been editing literary journals - Cellar Door Magazine, The Wrong Tree Review, A-Minor, Metazen, Night Train, Revolution John, and now The Airgonaut. I think 15 years is enough time for me to have given back to writers by publishing and championing their work.

Now, at 41 years of age and not healthy enough to foresee a life into my 70s or 80s, I'd like to spend the remainder of my time as a writer working on the few of my projects currently on the table.

For the time being, I'll publish the work that has already been accepted at The Airgonaut. This will constitute monthly issues covering October, November, and December. After that, who knows? But it's been fun. Thanks to you all for the solid work and for the chance to share it with readers. That was really cool of you. The archives will, of course, be available from now until doomsday.

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's American Horror Story Time *smiley insane face*

So I just watched the intro scene for American Horror Story season 7 and it's the scariest one yet. The gang at AHS were exactly on target for displaying in fiction the terror of our current reality with that guy as president.

Monday, September 11, 2017

I'm Eager to Read Max Ritvo's Poetry

Because he can do this:

I come from a place where the water’s emptiness
is so savage that  
when you drink it  
the fish of the throat die,  
causing malignant thirst.

See what I mean?

Matthew Zapruder on Poetry

"I don’t know what writers of stories, novels and essays eventually discover for themselves, but I can say that sooner or later poets figure out that there are no new ideas, only the same old ones — and that nobody who loves poetry reads it to be impressed, but to experience and feel and understand in ways only poetry can conjure."

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Frederick Seidel Just Goes To Show You

This anecdote from Frederick Seidel in the New York Times piece on him is hilarious and ridiculous. Just goes to show you.
"Although it would provide a nice causal coda to his time of silence and self-analysis in France, Seidel’s return to Harvard the next year didn’t coincide with the discovery of his poetic voice. He was writing, but “the poetry was not for me very impressive.” He published poems in The Advocate, even one in The Atlantic, but only at the very end of Harvard did one attain a different caliber. Called “The Sickness,” Seidel sent it to The Hudson Review. 'I got back a letter from the editor saying that the poem was brilliant . . . but wouldn’t I consider a number of changes they wanted to propose to the poem’s advantage? So I took a look at their suggestions, hung onto the poem and three months later sent it back to them — no changes whatsoever. Back came a note saying: Wonderful! That does it! It’s just superb.'"

Brett Pribble and the gang are putting together a beautiful art object, the journal Ghost Parachute

I received my contributor copies of Ghost Parachute (a wonderful surprise in the mail yesterday). I somehow wasn't aware I'd get th...