Morning Glories

No luck last year interesting agents in my novel, Tiny House Big Mountain. To prove to myself, if to no one else (and with mixed results) that I’m not above accepting advice and criticism, I’ve both refused to farm out my MS to an editor but have also spent the last month gradually editing down my 110,000 words. Having a year between myself and the novel’s completion makes it easier to edit. I almost read it as written by someone else, and I’ve found lots to clean up. I’m half way through and I’ve already weeded out 5,000 words. That’s just a little here and there, page by page. I haven’t cut any passages but have removed redundancies (the same that I criticize in others); and have removed expository/narrative passages (anywhere from a couple sentences to a paragraph) that add nothing to the plot or momentum. I’ve begun to think that a reasonable goal might be to edit the novel down to that magic 100,000 words.

I’m also going to change my query letters insofar as plot description goes. I hadn’t wanted the novel to be treated as a YA novel, and so when I described the plot I put less emphasis on Cody, the 11 year old girl, than I might have. She is, though, largely the main character and the risk in not emphasizing her is to somewhat muddy the central thesis of the story. We’ll see if I’m right.

I’ve also started my next novel called Stopping by Autumn—a Romance. This time I want to more tightly integrate the poetry into the story’s narrative. The deceased mother of the main character has left behind poetry. I’m planning on twelve chapters headed by twelve poems. I asked myself what kind of poetry the deceased mother would write, and decided she had had a garden and was a fan of Emily Dickinson; and that she would write Hymn Meter in honor of her favorite poet. So, here is the first poem of the first chapter written in 8s,6s or Common Meter.

The Morning Glories may mistake
Whatever wall they try
And in their slow mistaking take
A window for the sky.

They press against the glass and reason
They touch the celestial sphere
(Above Earth’s evanescent season
Divinity is near).

How strange and unaccountable
Is heaven to these flowers—
My indoors unpronounceable
And foreign to their hours.

As if I were a deity
They watch me come and go,
Their guileless spontaneity
More God-like than they know.

These flowers searching the sidereal
For something like perfection
Might almost witness the ethereal
Yet miss their own reflection.

~ Morning Glories
   January 2022

We had a snow storm move through. By Vermont’s standards, not so much—around six or seven inches. The foxes and owls are out. They can hear the rodents tunneling in the snow; and I’ve seen the owl pluck a rodent straight from its mid-field hideaway. Unlike the arctic fox or owl, our foxes and owls still sport their summer coats.

    mid-
       winter's squall—the owl's unchanging
            gaze

    — January 19th 2022

two haiku for the end of the year


    slicing
        a lemon in half—winter nights already
            shorter

    103: December 27th

    going
        where the Milky Way goes after the road
            ends

    104: December 30th 2021 | bottlecap
  • I hope you’ve had a good Christmas and are having a happy New Year. Writing December’s haiku has been like tipping a teaspoon of milk from an empty bowl. By this point I’ve written close to 1,800. Maybe I can save myself from further repetition, if not too much already, by making these two haiku my last. I wish all the best for the coming year.

six haiku for mid-December


    year's
        end and the playground's empty seats— 
            swinging

    97: December 6th

    still
        standing among the stumps—the ugly
            spruce

    98: December 9th


    snow
        slips limb to limb—evening slips
            away

    99: December 13th

    just
        the way her hair turns and twists—
            December

    100: December 16th

    winter
        mists—neighbors' lights barely
            touch

    101: December 20th

    like
        Basho—I begin to think a bowl is
            enough

    102: December 23rd

three haiku for the start of December


    early
        winter's moonlight—the bones
            shine

    94 November 25th 

    leaves
        in the sidewalk's ice—walking
            alone

    95 November 29th 2021 

    one
        crow after another and another—night
            falling

    96 December 2nd 2021 | bottlecap

And a little something for a moment’s meditation:

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four haiku for late November…


    snow
        falls whispering into the whispering
            brook

    90 November 11th

    under
        her umbrella—evening folds into 
            night

    91 November 15th
    un-
        wanted—her doll's button-eyes still
            shine

    92 November 18th

    still
        leaning sunward—the withered wild-
            flowers

    93 November 22nd 2021 | bottlecap

haiku for the close of October

    children
        gone to bed—a jack-o-lantern's grin flickers
            out

    86: October 28th

As I was walking along minding my own business, a couple neighbors startled me. They’d snuck under the electric fence (which, to folk like them, is a mere formality).

    apples
        rotting under the tree—for two pigs?
            perfection.

    87: November 1st 2021 | bottlecap

a little journey to the north & four haiku

We went up to Burlington over the week-end. The city was beautiful, as always. We visited our daughter at UVM and hiked along the bike trail skirting Lake Champlain. We also visited an outdoor market in the South End.


    both
        the pumpkin's and the little girl's bottom—
            muddy

    82: October 14th

There’s been a good deal of work done on Burlington’s waterfront during the last thirty years. I remember it’s being scruffy and overgrown but now there’s a waterfront park, museum, a rail trial that can be walked, biked or run with a beach and a skate park along the way. The trail goes to the north. To the south, warehouses have turned into antique stores, bookstores, cafés and restaurants without seeming gentrified. Many of the old railroad tracks are still around, embedded in the roads, yards and parking lots—reminding me of Berlin. A little closer to the lake, the trains still keep busy.


    frost
        at midnight—the moth's colorless
            wings

    83: October 18th

We visited Rockpoint, an outcropping of cliffs and rocky beaches and sand. Just a small walk to the north. Whereas the rest of Vermont has surrendered its green to the pines and firs of the mountains, Rock Point still keeps its summer—warmed by the lake’s waters and long sunsets. The Adirondacks are the saw-tooth ridge across the waters.

The walk back took us along the beach. A handful of seagulls, having nothing much to say, paid no mind.


    late
        October—each day the scarecrow's shadow
            taller

    84: October 21st

 


    bending
        with the weather-vane—the Milky
            Way

    85: October 25th 2021 | bottlecap

4 haiku for the first week of October

  • A few images from New England this weekend. The last is from Katahdin.

    behind
        the tree's unleafing, the wide-eyed
            moon

    78 September

    carrying
        a pumpkin in her shirt's belly—fall
            harvest

    79: October 4th
    

    as
        far as October's winds—the owl's 
            cry

    80 October 7th

 


 
   dreams
        in a yellow field—the tractor at mid-
             night

    81 October 11th | by bottlecap