Month: October 2016

Film Review: Before The Flood

This film will air on the National Geographic Channel October 30. You don’t want to miss it.

I had the opportunity to view a screening of this fantastic, enlightening, program on climate change at Cornell University, this past week. This is an amazing film. The trailer doesn’t do it justice.

Basically, if we don’t start making earnest efforts at changing our ways of consumption we will all be done; there will be no earth left for our grandchildren. I believe this. There is common sense and science to back claims for climate change. This film shows these facts from all around the world: sand oil in Canada, glacial melt in Alaska, air pollution in Asia, poor drinking water around the globe – in our own back yard. In truth, I think we all know this already. Anyone that doesn’t is deluding themselves, lost in selfish greed.

China is taking far more positive steps in the right direction than is America. Check this film out for information on the actions they are taking for clean air – think solar and wind power.

There is no denying that America, we Americans, are the biggest consumers of the products that are causing the most damage.

This film shows that simply eliminating beef and products made with palm oil from your diet will make a remarkable difference. It’s something that all humans can do right now to effect change on our planet. The gains from this small sacrifice will make a world of difference. None of these food stuffs are healthy: Doritos, Little Debbies, Fritos. Start checking food labels. Don’t buy the stuff.

You can Google “Say no to palm oil” for facts on this issue. And I think anyone who hasn’t heard about the drastic negative affects of factory farmed beef on climate change is living under a rock, but that can be Googled, too.

Spread the word: Mr. Trump and fellow nay saying politicians, Climate change is real. More needs to be done now. The earth cannot wait; it will not wait.

Our voices and our actions will make a difference.


I must have been feeling a little acrimonious when I penned this one.  I’m still trying to decide whether To Verse, Or Free Verse. I think there can be a time and place for both. This poem, however, is just plain, frustrated, silliness.

I’ve been told that rhyming sonnets are about innocence and memory. I’ve  been told that verse,  after the infamous Gertrude Stein, should be left for nursery rhymes. It is true that Mother Goose nursery rhymes are quite easy to remember; they are so sing-song. And a nursery song can lull you to sleep with it’s repetitive comforts. A poem in verse can, also, become a meditation. It doesn’t hurt to be in a meditative state from time to time.

Pulitzer Prize (2011) winning poet Kay Ryan says of form, It’s like “wearing the wrong clothes.”  If not meter, Ryan  does use a lot of rhyming in her poems to give them a pleasing rhythm. Not end rhymes like in the sonnet  I penned below, but very creative rhyming within her lines and throughout her poems in places you’d least expect. And she uses very uncanny rhymes at times, too. If you’ve never read Kay Ryan’s poetry you might enjoy checking out this talk recorded last year at Hugo House titled “Word Works: Kay Ryan on Rhyme.” I really enjoyed listening to Kay; she is very humorous  – a great personality. The interview at the end of her talk is very enlightening.

I Don’t Think So
by Anni Johnson

To sing a sonnet song an easy task?
Our speech, I’m told, is natural to its ways.
If this is so, me thinks I’d rather bask
in book than work in alphabet for days.

While counting feet – da DUM – da DUM – is NOT
for the passionless at heart, a poem by Keats
will tease the mind to try untie the lot.
A successful sound will be found in beats:

A line of five in ten. And then you start
again – a one, and two, and three, and four,
and five. O dear! I fear you’ll think me smart
if I my teacher please with rhymes and more.

What thinks you, mentor? Pray, do tell. Did I
a sonnet bake? Or a poem to make you sigh?

Poem: Why Can’t I Let You Go?

Why Can’t I Let You Go?
by Anni Johnson

Buckled in, sitting with the voice of reason,
silence stifles course sounds on the asphalt –
last year’s ways and means; us just being.

The corner is the limit; a place on the edge
where hushed regimes of disavowal break.

And suddenly, darling said, Did you see that? Driving,
he looked away… while I, lost in the blur,
betrayed by loco-motion,
barely caught the boy in hoodie.

Anyone would ask the same today, as if an auspicious child,
clad in red, flying a dime store kit, might be an extinct animal
out there in silver bromide landscape: a  Minor White
Two Barns and Shadow: a cloddy, forgotten, Appalachian farm.

Was it the March wind rattling windows that woke him to such dreams?

Blazing freedom tenaciously, I joined the boy in image:
alone, so sad, tiny hands letting out the line of a fighter
in gusty winds. Dreamy valor at play.

Blissful Union electrifying world with co-created flight:
aerial ballet – he, his kite, and aberrant thoughts in gleaner’s field.

How did he, so small, untether self from hovering nanny-state?
Last Child? An action-gift? Small wonder, knocking
at heaven’s door? High aspiration – an elevated mind vision?

Game brain in uncanny valley of imperfect play serves
where mothers once raged… and motioned toward the door.
Freedom vector conveys the Victor; a residual image thrown off.

Were you real in Green Time?
Or just an odd man out?
Or maybe a gypsy scale
calling me
to paint my own name
in color-morph form?

Thanks for visiting! As always, leave me a comment; let me know what you think.


Cartography of Cold

***Warning! Chapbook review ahead***

This post is just to say that I’ve been waiting a very long time for my copy of Joseph Massey’s chapbook, “Illocality,” to arrive.  Amazon = slow-boat. But finally! it arrived two days ago. I thought I’d save reading it for the next run of gray days, but that didn’t happen. I picked the book up this morning, a warm sunny morning for a New York October, and I didn’t put it down.  I devoured a third of the 111 pages, I wanted to save some for later, but I can tell you right now ITS DELICIOUS. And some of the poems are funny in a peculiar way. (Perhaps best described as the clichéd “wry” sense of humor.) For example, here’s a few lines from a poem titled “Route 31”:

Yellow centerline
split with roadkill.

First day of summer – I’ve got my omen –

And maybe it was an omen, because Massey moved from California to the east coast the year we had one of the worst winters in decades: below zero temps for days on end, and no sun for 50 + days at time. (2013-14) Winters like that are hard on everybody, but the nice thing about poets is that they write about it.  And write about it Massey did, with the precision of a Buddhist monk.

“Illocality” starts with a poem titled “Parse” to prepare us for how we should treat the poems ahead. From there, all of Massey’s lines lay like bite size riddles on the page: petit fours at a funeral gathering?

Here’s another taste from “Third Floor”:

Birdsong next door
slipknots construction noise.

The day has its ballast.

But don’t shy away from the “riddles,” he doesn’t make you think too hard – that one is do-able, right? Massey seems to have a tight grip on how far he can push his metaphors. However, there are some poems that appear to parse the “meta- poetic.” “Meta-poetic” meaning poems about poems, or poems about writing poems. For example, in the last stanza of “Third Floor”-

watching the lines
that cross, that stain
and form a field
from the field
I forgot, winter forgot.

The “lines” might be the lines of the poem. And the “field” – paper?

“Polar Low,” which is toward the back of the book, is the poem I am treasuring most, today. This is a poem of terse, Zen like, couplets that pack a punch – think lake effect snow. I’m certain that’s what he’s describing, but you’ll have to get the book to read it for yourself. I like that the yellow trailer  in this poem makes me think childhood words of wisdom: don’t eat the yellow snow. LOL Anywho…

Massey’s poems are deep dives into place like none other. Nothing happens. Nothing moves. We only hear, and see, and think about things both visible and invisible. I had many aha moments while reading: I could see with my mind’s eye the images he’s painted .

If you’re into philosophy and place, I’m sure Joseph Massey’s chapbook is for you. But don’t just take my word, here’s what The New York Times had to say. As for me, More please!

Here’s Joe reading an untitled poem from “Illocality”: (More on Pennsounds)

Into The Mystic

I love that song! I should have named this fourth piece in my Alaska series Into The Mystic. Maybe I’ll dream Van Morrison tonight. But the title for this piece comes from another famous poet, Emily Dickinson – The Warf Is Still. It works, but, darn it, it should have been Into The Mystic.

Here’s a link to Van’s song. If you don’t know it, I think you’ll want to.

And here’s the lyrics:

Into The Mystic

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun

Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic

Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

And when that foghorn blows
I will be coming home

And when the foghorn blows
I want to hear it I don’t have to fear it

and I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And magnificently we will flow into the mystic

When that fog horn blows
You know I will be coming home

And when that fog horn whistle blows
I got to hear it I don’t have to fear it

and I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will flow into the mystic

Come on, girl
Too late to stop now

Written by Van Morrison • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Goodnight, Edie

Warning! Book review review ahead. (No, the extra “review” isn’t a typo.)

I haven’t read a writer that has made me laugh so hard in a very long time.  Today, I came across travel writer Edie Jarolim  while perusing  Ron Silliman’s Language Poetry blog  – he hasn’t posted much this year, but his 13 September post is a real treat (no sarcasm intended); I’m so glad I read it and followed the provided link to  Edie’s website where I found her book.

Edie’s book Getting Naked for Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Tells All  sounds like a super funny and informative read. It’s now at the top of my reading list – sorry Jon, but I did put your blogoir before Kurlansky’s Paper.

I can’t wait for Getting Naked to be released. Sadly, it’s not exactly clear when that will be. I’m on her email list, so hopefully this will be remedied soon. I think she’s trying to raise money to self-publish.

Here’s a quote that gave me a knowing smile:

“Some writers can look back proudly at their literary precociousness. Me, I found several entries in a pink diary dating to the days when the Beatles first arrived in the US that read: “Dear Diary, I love Paul. He’s so cute. I wish he would love me. Goodnight, Edie.” If I’d had the strength of character to love John or even George and the originality to choose a diary that wasn’t pink, I’m certain I would have become a writer far sooner.”

Maybe it’s a girl thing, but there’s much more to muse over and laugh about in her review.  (I went for George, but I won’t hold that against her.)

Here’s another quote:

“We observed a wide range of shapes at the nudist resort, from totally toned to way overweight, and ages, from teenagers to septuagenarians….I was riveted by the display of male genitalia. I felt like I was in the produce section of an exotic supermarket—no poking or squeezing, please.”

And how can I pass up a book that’s blurbed by one of my favorite fiction writers, Lydia Davis:

“I’ve known Edie for many years, and here at last is the book I always hoped she would write–the totally entertaining, often informative, and at times touching tale of her life behind the travel editor’s desk and on the road. This is what happens when a Brooklyn-born scholar of modern poetry goes west and becomes a dedicated and intrepid adventurer, one who never loses her sense of humor (or self-preservation). Funny, surprising, and highly recommended for the armchair traveler.”

I’ll post my review when I’ve read the book. I can’t wait!

Oh! And don’t miss Edie’s blog     How cute!