Some Quotations for Thought

Tomorrow is the long day at the university, so don’t expect an entry until late tomorrow tonight.  A friend of mine sent me these quotations from The Secret Life of Bees. I thought I’d publish them.

“I didn’t know what to think, but what I felt was
magnetic and so big it ached like the moon had entered
my chest and filled it up.

“The only thing I could compare it to was the feeling I
got one time when I walked back from the peach stand
and saw the sun spreading across the late afternoon,
setting the top of the orchard on fire while darkness
collected underneath. Silence had hovered over my
head, beauty multiplying in the air, the trees so
transparent I felt I could see through to something
pure inside them. My chest had ached then, too, this
very same way.”

“The world will give you that once in a while, a brief
time-out; the boxing bell rings and you go to your
corner, where somebody dabs mercy on your beat-up

“But the main thing is they (bees) are hardworking to
the point of killing themselves. Sometimes you want to
say to them, Relax, take some time off, you deserve


As I’m sure you heard, Norman Mailer died yesterday. A prolific writer, he also had much to say about topics related to writing and writers. I wanted to include in this post today a couple of quotations from his book, The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing. I had read the book in 2003. I remember I bought the book after hearing Mailer interviewed about the book on NPR.

“Once you are committed to earning your living from your pen, you discover that you can push yourself.”

“It’s as difficult to become a professional writer as a professional athlete. It often depends on the ability to keep faith in yourself. One must be willing to take risks and try again.”

There are many more quotations from this great read I could have posted, but these underlined sentences caught my eye today.

Return from Weekend Signings

Ay, me. I’ve just returned from my weekend of signings. Friday, I went to Bienville Public Library in Arcadia, visited with several ladies of the Literary Society there and with Harold A. Talbert, an Arcadia resident who is SO KNOWLEDGEABLE, and so full of stories of the area. He and I must have talked nearly an hour. From Arcadia, I went to the Barnes and Noble in Shreveport where I had another sell-out of all my books they had in the store. I spent the night in Shreveport, and then drove to Baton Rouge to the Sam’s Club there and had another good signing. Of course, then I made the trek back to Monroe. I’ve managed to stay off the cigs. The drive time is the hardest for me, but I suppose that’s just another habit. While I was waiting for my time slot at Sam’s, I did set up a signing at the Books-A-Million there in Baton Rouge for Sat. Jan. 12, and maybe another new BAM on Sun. the 13th. I’ll keep you posted. Below are two photos of store workers from the Barnes and Noble Signing in Shreveport. The two workers here were most helpful to me the whole evening and I promised I’d put them on my blog. The first is Lisa, and the second is Stevie.

Lisa: Barnes and Noble Shreveport 07

Stevie: B arns and Noble Shreveport 07

Friday Programs

Today and tomorrow will be very busy. I’m on my way shortly to Bienville Parish Library in Arcadia. (For some reason, I can’t go there without thinking of Bonnie and Clyde!) Then on to the Barnes and Noble in Shreveport. Saturday morning, on to Baton Rouge to the Sam’s Club there.   Last night’s program in St. Francisville was fun! Went well and I’ll get some good press from it. I hope to have some photos to post of it soon. Today I decided to post a short-short story, one of my flash fiction pieces. Let me know what you think of it.

Jewels of Denial

Liam paused and wiped the sweat from his brow with his shirtsleeve.  After an hour’s climb, he had reached the edge of the vast tumble of granite boulders and he scanned the beach below. It was low tide, and the waves beat the sand with a steady rhythm and the ocean breeze cooled his aching muscles.  He leapfrogged the last few rocks, slipped his daypack and metal detector from his back, sat on the warm sand, and drank greedily from his canteen.  From his research, he was sure that this isolated beach, known as Lover’s Beach, was the location of a vanished 19th century resort along the Atlantic coastline. The terrain practically guaranteed that no other treasure hunters would go to the trouble to come here.
He set the discrimination on his Fisher Gold Bug metal detector and worked the beach methodically in a grid pattern.  He swept the coil back and forth, digging every signal, but found only trash—aluminum cans, pull tabs, and rusted nails. On his fifth pass, the detector gave a strong beep.  Expecting only a bigger piece of trash, he gasped when he dug up a gold wedding band.  He knelt, turning the ring over in his hand. For a second, he thought the stone actually glowed. The inside bore an inscription: Prehende uxorem meam, sis.
Liam was puzzled by the strange words, but at least they had a romantic sound to them. Then it dawned on him: This ring would be a perfect gift for his wife! Veronica nagged and criticized him constantly, and he felt neglected and unappreciated.  She especially hated his hobby of treasure hunting, which she called scavenging.  Maybe the ring would help their relationship.
On his way home he stopped at a bookstore and purchased a Latin dictionary to decipher the inscription.  He laughed out loud when he finished: “Take my wife, please!”
Liam sighed. “If only someone would take Veronica.”
When Liam returned home late that night, Veronica was watching Woman on Top.
“Hey, sweetie,” he said.  “I found a really cool ring today. I think you’ll like it.”
Veronica rolled her eyes and turned up the video with the remote. “Another pull tab, dear?” she said. “More cheap costume jewelry?”
“Hold out your hand,” Liam said.
“I’m tired of the junk your treasure hunting brings home. You should be in the trash business.” Veronica lazily held out her hand, and he slipped the ring on her delicate ring finger. This time, Liam was sure that the stone glowed.  This must be a magic ring! Maybe the legends about rings are true! He watched in amazement as Veronica’s face experienced a metamorphosis. It now glowed with excitement and her earlier cynicism and harshness were gone.
“Why, Liam! It’s beautiful!” she cried.  She jumped from her Lazy Boy chair and gave him a bone-crushing hug. “Thank you! My darling!”
Liam wondered if he had entered the wrong house or if Veronica’s doppelganger had moved in.  However, he accepted the new Veronica gratefully. At last, his wishes had come true. He thought it amazing how this lost ring had changed and energized his wife. Her libido increased so much that he called it the “Viagra ring.” After work, instead of wearing himself out doing his wife’s endless list of “honey-do” chores, he found his feet up in the chair, and Veronica waiting on him hand and foot.  She chattered constantly about his greatness, showering him with kisses, thanking him for the ring time and time again.  Liam thought that f the ring’s effects were residual, he could rent the ring to other husbands plagued by wives who needed transformations.  Men would pay a pretty penny for such power.
“There’s a Latin inscription on the inside of the band.”  He snickered. “I translated it at the library. It means ‘I Love you.’ ”
“How sweet! What would you like for supper, dear?”  She rubbed his shoulders. “I’ll cook that casserole you like so much. And maybe later, I can prepare a very special desert.”  She bent and kissed his ear, lightly biting his neck. “You know what I mean?”  The ring glowed brightly as if energized by her romantic mood.
Liam enjoyed the new Veronica—for about three weeks. There were some drawbacks. Veronica’s intense, doting eyes resembled a creature from Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. She wouldn’t allow him out of her sight, even for a second, following his every step closely around the house.  Worse, she became possessive and jealous, screening phone calls, suspicious of every female voice.  Liam felt smothered.
Liam decided that her Stepford-wife condition must be related to the ring, that perhaps some malevolent spirit had possessed her.  The haunted ring had to go. He wanted the previous, predictable Veronica, not the zombie-like slave she had become.  As Veronica would not surrender the ring willingly, he used subterfuge, attempting unsuccessfully to grease her fingers with peanut butter and slip the ring off her finger as she slept.   When that failed, he resorted to force. One day he tackled her, straddling her arm and pulling the accursed ring from her finger.  He left his traumatized wife weeping on the living room floor, begging him to return the ring to her.  However, an almost immediate transformation took place. Before he reached his truck, the whining had changed to cursing.
“That’s better,” he said.  He returned to Lover’s Beach and threw the glowing ring as far into the ocean as he could. He hoped the ring with its mysterious, dangerous power would be forever lost to mankind.  There were other, safer treasures to find. Turning on his detector, he again searched the beach and almost immediately found a silver bracelet. It too had a Latin inscription: Me oportet propter praeceptum te nocere:  I’m going to have to hurt you on principle. The bracelet seemed to glow as he stuffed it into his pocket.

A Beautiful Thursday

Today is absolutely gorgeous in weather. ‘Tis my second day of cigarette abstinence. Other than causing me to bite and gnaw the bark off a few trees in the backyard, it hasn’t affected me much. Wish me luck.

In a moment, I’m going to the Post Office to send to my publisher another children’s book manuscript. Wish me luck with that too.  This afternoon, I’ll be on my way to Wl Feliciana Parish Library for a program there tonight. I received an email from the director there yesterday, and she seems quite excited.  Donnie, Kennedy, a devoted Southerner, just left my house. He recorded me talking about my books, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House, and Stories of the Confederate South. He will post what he recorded, plus info on the book and my picture  that soon on a Website that features the signed books of Southern authors.  I’ll be home late tonight and if I’m not too tired, will post an entry about my program/signing tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the Bienville Parish Library in Arcadia and at the Barnes and Noble in Shreveport. Saturday, at the Sam’s Club in Baton Rouge. This means there’s much packing for me to do this morning to prepare for that.  Fall has always been a time when I wrote much poetry, so I thought I’d post one of those fall poems today. I’ve also been reading of the Celts (again).  This produces a strong amount of feeling in me for some reason.

Fall Kisses

I’m your oak,
Sacred tree to the Celts,
Strong, weathered,
Full of ancient memories.
When you’re sad,
My kisses will drift to
Your cheek like leaves,
Stirred, floating on the air.
Clutch my trunk for comfort,
Climb my branches
For a better view of your life.
It is good you’re here with me,
Before winter, for there’s a
Beauty in this fall
Neither of us have ever seen before.
Close your eyes and hear the
Leaves descend, and know
That every leaf will be a kiss.

Wild Wednesday

My schedule is becoming a routine. I’ve been working on editing a book the past few days and am drained from that concentration. Thursday through Saturday, I’ll be very busy again and on the road, and it looks like every weekend will be that way until New Year’s.

Today I’ll be at the college. In my ENG 206 class, I’m going to teach the famous Raymond Carver short story “Cathedral.” In my 102 class at Delta, we are going to continue our study of drama with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as Oedipus Rex and Trifles. Today is really cold. Of course it made me think of winter. I walked outside and saw that some of my Camellias were in bloom, a sure sign of winter, or at least winter coming. Here’s a poem that resulted from some thought about winter flowers.

Winter Flowers

When I purchased my house,
A few Camellias were in my yard,
Were wrapped in vines,
Weeds, and dead branches,
Like mummies waiting for burial.
I cleaned the detritus,
Pruned, and watered them.
Now, they bloom in
Red, white, and pink,
Flowers of my winters.
A gift to America from Asia,
Brought to the West by a Jesuit priest
In the seventeenth century.
I look at those delicate flowers,
Exotic, beautiful in form and foliage,
And I think of you,
How you were,
How you are now,
Blooming in my life’s winter.

Southern Gothic

Maybe it was the proximity of Halloween that revived my interest in the genre of Southern Gothic literature. We are just entering Vol. E of our Norton Anthology for American Literature in ENG 206, and I began with a study of two stories by Flannery O’Connor. I mentioned “A Rose for Emily” by Faulkner and a few other stories as examples of this genre, and the students seemed to immediately sense the ideas behind it. I also illustrated it with movies I consider to be in the Southern Gothic tradition such as Deliverance, Cape Fear, Sling Blade, Angel Heart, Black Snake Moan, The Green Mile, Skeleton Key, and others.

Here is a list of the characteristics of Southern Gothic that I garnered from several sources:

1. Though in some ways it may be built upon the Gothic tradition, Southern Gothic is a distinctly American genre.

2. Characters often are deeply flawed; damaged; disturbing;disturbed, deranged, delusional or diseased mentally; dangerous; and/or deformed in some way. A deep, inner life is usually lacking and they may be broken in body or soul.

3. Plots are built around or at least using the macabre, bizarre, the unusual, the grotesque–things that make us cringe.

4. The humor is a dark humor. Sometimes a mocking humor that attacks our cliches and habits of life.

5. Southern Gothic explores social issues and reveals aspects of Southern culture.

I truly enjoy teaching this genre. If I teach ENG 206 in the future, I’m likely to give Southern Gothic more emphasis.

Sundry Monday Thoughts

My daughter informed me that I’m going to be a grandfather again. I think the baby is due this summer. I really do like this grandfather business. A part of me hopes she moves back to this area.

About New Orleans: When a signing goes well in New Orleans, and the weather is good as it was this past weekend, I’m energized. There’s always something interesting to see. Friday, I watched groups of wildly dressed youths riding bicycles down the street like flocks of seagulls. A lady pushing a baby carriage introduced herself to me as the Jesus type of homeless person, and asked me if I could write a chldren’s book about her babies. “Perhaps,” I said. Well, she wheeled the buggy around and in it I saw a row of dolls. Interesting. As usual, most of the people I sold to in New Orleans were not local and came from all parts of the country.

I’ve been listening to Darrell Scott recently. He is an songwriter with such depth to his lyrics. His song, “Hank William’s Ghost” won Song of the Year ( I think in Nashville). It’s a song about one’s thoughts in the early morning. I don’t have the lyrics yet, and I could not find a site that did. Here is what Darrell Scott said about how he wrote the song:

“A guitar maker friend of mine named gray burchette from north carolina sent a baritone acoustic guitar that he had made for me one august morning—- when i opened the new guitar i started to write this song as if the song were in the guitar and i just had to hang on as it came out—– it was something that had been building up in me to say for a while; basically, the realization that i am as screwed up as can be even though my artsy lofty thoughts allow me to float high above my troubles and shortcomings, sometimes—-but at the end of the day or top o’ the morn, i am as human as they come—– also, i have always marveled at early morning’s meanderings…oh the cruelty . . .”

Schedule This Week: Today is the long day at the college. Tomorrow, I’ll be immersed in an editing job. For those editing jobs I usually vanish to a writing coffee shop or cut off phones, etc. Wedness is college, catch-up, and prepare for another long weekend. Thursday, I’ll be at the West Feliciana Parish Library in St. Francisville. Friday afternoon, at the library in Arcadia, then Friday night at the Barnes and Noble in Shreveport. Saturday, I go to the Sam’s Club in Baton Rouge. Then of course, Sunday will be spent here, catching up and preparing for college again. Busy, but I should be able to post a blog every day this week.

Weekend Report

Wow. It’s been such a busy, intense weekend. I left early Thursday, went to the Ferriday, Louisiana library, and set up an appointment for Dec. 16 to come to the schools there for a program. On the way to South Louisiana, I stopped in at Nottoway Plantation, just outside of Plaquemine. Absolutely wonderful. It is advertised as “The largest plantation home in the South.” You should visit this plantation. My books are now going to be in their bookstore and we are talking about a future signing there. Here is their Website: Here is a photo of the mansion and one of me in the ball room that the grounds manager took.



After that visit to Nottoway, I drove on to Napoleanville and spent the night with my friends there. Friday, I signed books at the Friends of the Cabildo bookstore on Jackson Square. A SLOW MORNING. I thought there’d be more traffic considering the weather was so good. However, my afternoon signing at Tisket-A-Tasket was brisk, and I had another sell-out. I’ve posted below the photos of myself with two book buyerswho wanted to be photographed with me. The first is Sandra, and the second, Charla.



Saturday, I went to the Kenner Sam’s Club, only to find that they had lost my books. After pissing away two hours while they looked for them, (I’m glad I went early) I moved on to the Metarie Sam’s Club where I had a very decent day of signing and selling books. I do love these travels. I always meet so many cool people. I’ll have more to say about my trip, but I’m tired now, so I think I’ll sign off.

Weekend Signings

This morning, I’m packing for my New Orleans weekend and headed down to South Louisiana. I’ve got two appointments, and if I have time, I’ll try to work in some others. Tomorrow, I must get to Pelican early to pick up a couple of boxes of my books, then go to the Friends of the Cabildo Bookstore on Jackson Square, then to Tisket-A-Tasket. Traffic should be high in this busy season with such pretty weather. Saturday will be a long day at the Metairie and Kenner Sam’s Clubs. I’ll end up back in Monroe in the wee hours of the morning Sunday. I wanted to make this post this morning because I don’t know if I’ll get to make another before Sunday. In addition, I need to follow up on some phone contacts, but because cell phone reception is unpredictable on these trips, that may have to wait till Monday.

I have so many projects I need to get to. Just added another editing job last night. Looks like an interesting book though. One project I’ve already mentioned is the collection of poems based on the astrological signs. Another is a new one based on mythology. I recently saw a John William Waterhouse painting and it inspired this poem. There is a great essay on this painting here:

A great site on Waterhouse, where I borrowed the painting below,  is here:

The painting is below the poem.

My Saint Eulalia

Martyred in AD 304,
In the terrors of Diocletian,
She is the patron saint of sailors.
In the Waterhouse painting,
I thought she looked like you,
Her beautiful exposed body
Cast to the cold, stone ground,
Falling snow her burial shroud.
Like her, you’ve been tortured . . .
Your heart torn with meat-hook words,
Your face scorched with fire-brand insults,
No one there wants to listen to your faith,
But we sailors do.

Her bones and relics are still
In the Church’s hands,
Kept with great veneration,
As great as the veneration
I have for those you’ve given me,
Relics that have given me fire and warmth.
With my poems I’ve built you a church,
Erected over the sad bloody ground of our hearts.
I am a sailor, and you are my saint,
Protecting, guiding, inspiring me,
And most of all, loving me.