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.

       winter's squall—the owl's unchanging

    — January 19th 2022

two haiku for the end of the year

        a lemon in half—winter nights already

    103: December 27th

        where the Milky Way goes after the road

    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

        end and the playground's empty seats— 

    97: December 6th

        standing among the stumps—the ugly

    98: December 9th

        slips limb to limb—evening slips

    99: December 13th

        the way her hair turns and twists—

    100: December 16th

        mists—neighbors' lights barely

    101: December 20th

        Basho—I begin to think a bowl is

    102: December 23rd

three haiku for the start of December

        winter's moonlight—the bones

    94 November 25th 

        in the sidewalk's ice—walking

    95 November 29th 2021 

        crow after another and another—night

    96 December 2nd 2021 | bottlecap

And a little something for a moment’s meditation:

For blockprints:

And for more reels:

four haiku for late November…

        falls whispering into the whispering

    90 November 11th

        her umbrella—evening folds into 

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

    92 November 18th

        leaning sunward—the withered wild-

    93 November 22nd 2021 | bottlecap

haiku for the close of October

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

    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).

        rotting under the tree—for two pigs?

    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.

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

    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.

        at midnight—the moth's colorless

    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.

        October—each day the scarecrow's shadow

    84: October 21st


        with the weather-vane—the Milky

    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.

        the tree's unleafing, the wide-eyed

    78 September

        a pumpkin in her shirt's belly—fall

    79: October 4th

        far as October's winds—the owl's 

    80 October 7th


        in a yellow field—the tractor at mid-

    81 October 11th | by bottlecap