Monday, October 12, 2020

Haunting Season

Autumn. 

 The time when farmers bring in their crops for harvest. Leaves lose their ability to process chlorophyll and the sugars turn them to brilliant shades of color. Trees shed their leaves and bare their limbs to the heavens in preparation for their winter dormancy. Vegetation decay wafts along the breeze, now chilled by the close of summer and the onset of cooler days. Hunters prepare for their annual field trips into the wild to lay up stores of meat for the on-coming winter. Preparations are made for the upcoming festivals and young people return to their usual scholarly activities.

Fireplaces are swept and furnaces cleaned in anticipation of seasonal use. In the towns and cities thermostats are turned up and across the countryside, wood smoke rises from chimneys in welcome of Fall. But invariably, folks gather around their respective hearths, warm toddies in hand to listen to and tell their favorite spooky stories.

I remember, as a boy, long days in the fields bringing in the vegetables, shucking corn and helping my mother with the canning. Then, with my father, uncles and cousins making those trips into the woods to hunt for game. I didn’t enjoy the work, as a youth. I didn’t understand the necessity of the tasks. But, I sure welcomed the hot meals such activity afforded me and my brothers. We never wanted for food, though we sure worked hard enough to gather it. But therein lies the lesson.

In today’s society, of fast-food and disposable everything, it is easy to forget or fail to consider the effort required to make such a luxury available. Yes, food and warmth are a luxury. But a hard won one at that. And that, my friend, is why this is my favorite time of year. A time for remembering just how fortunate one is to have a home, hearth and food on the table. And friends and family with which to share stories.

To celebrate this season, at a time when we all seem to be locked up in our own demesnes, I have released my first chapbook, "Haunting Season". It contains 39 poems of horror, ghostly tales and strange or fantastical creatures. IT is out immediately on Smashwords and on Amazon in both eBook and Print-On-Demand.

Please check it out and leave a review. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Sci-Fi Adventure Review:
Albert Jenkins and the Lost City
by Lazarus Gray

I am an author who likes to dabble in mixed genres. This can complicate matters as readers like to follow their favorite genres when selecting books to read. Thus half or more than half of my stories may well go unread by those readers. However, when a story comes along that satisfied both the excitement of an adventure story and the technicality of Sci-Fi, it gets my notice. Especially when it blends to two so easily. 

Albert Perkins and the Lost City is an excellent adventure story that marries both the archeological/geological adventure with futuristic science fiction. It sells on Amazon for a very reasonable price and makes for an excellent debut novel by my friend Lazarus Gray. 

It takes place in the Australian Outback and centers on an aboriginal geologist and his two young crew caught up in a major disaster that leads to an incredible surprise find; an ancient city buried beneath the sands of the Simpson dessert. 

His mentor, and chief supporter is a peered lady of England who had taken him under her wing as a boy and fostered his dreams and education. When an earthquake destroys most of Australia, she and her butler, Jeeves (a very likable chap himself) race to the outback to find, and if necessary rescue their friends. 

 What the five encounter and discover in the desert changes them and their lives forever and brings hope for the future of Earth and humanity. But whether humanity embraces the ideal of the "Second Level of Knowledge" or not, depends on the courage and the compassion of the intrepid geologist and his friends. 

Lazarus Gray brings a heartfelt optimism to his story and has produced a genuinely approachable and easy-to-read adventure that mixes genres seamlessly. I look forward to reading more of his work. I hope you do too. You won't regret it.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Freedom

Whispers carry lightly on the wind beyond the village wall.

Boots and buckles rustle in the alley past the tavern hall.

Torches cast a fevered view

Of sea and tea now set to brew.

“For Liberty or Death!” We few

rise up for one and all.

As fire from a Tory rifle fells a youth too soon his due

We stand and answer Freedom’s call!

 

Hounds and trackers haunt the forest searching through the rainy night.

Hunting for a family running from a life of toil and plight.

But fortune, should the weather hold

will favor more than just the bold

and free them from the rain and cold

to break the slaver’s might.

For Friends of Harriet will carry, on the railroad, young and old,

all who long for Freedom’s right.

 

But blood is oft the price to pay to balance what is right from wrong.

To keep the flames of Liberty within the heart still burning strong.

And soldiers come, and soldiers go

And heroes often fall to foe

But hope remains for those that know

the cost, yet strike the gong.

The bell of Liberty will ring as voices raise once more to sow

the seeds of Freedom’s song!

 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Parcours - A New Poetic Form

Parcours

(Journey)

 

A recent literary style of poetry that takes the reader on a journey. Devised in 2016 by poet Harvey L. Covey, Jr., the poem follows a complex pattern of set-up (or stage), run (or journey) and resolution with an optional emphasis that mirrors the resolution.

Rules of the Parcours form

The first lines of the opening couplet or triplet represent the “stage” or “set-up” of the poem. They are structured in iambic form of usually pentameter length, though the length may vary as the poet deems necessary for effect. They are followed by the “run” or “journey”. A triplet of shorter, rhyming lines also in iambic form of typically trimeter or tetrameter length; again differing only as the poet deems necessary. This is designed to give the reader the sensation of swift action. The succeeding lines form the “resolution” and the optional “emphasis” and are structured either with a very short punctuation line that rhymes the first line of the stanza or with the first line similar to the length and meter of the first line in the stanza followed by a much shorter line (one to four syllables) to punctuate the stanza. This punctuation is optional as often it is the need of the form to simply mirror the length of, and rhyme with, the opening lines or rhyme the shorter lines. Using capitals for the longer lines and lowercase letters for the shorter, the form can be expressed as: A A [A] / b b b / a or A b or A or B [/ a or A b or A or B].

History of the Parcours form

In the Spring of 2016, the author experimented with the form developing early precursors to the final design. The first poem, The Ghosts of Autumn, shows the early adoption of the methods with some variation from the final theme. Later, My Old Saskatchewan Home, shows a closer relationship with the resolution and the stage sections of the stanzas. The most adherent of the author’s work is easily viewed in his popular, Every Now and Then (Love Letters). Structured as a written conversation between two parties, it exemplifies the Parcours style perfectly.

In the following example, the poet uses the optional emphasis couplet to drive home the scene rhyming the first line of the final couple of each stanza with the first line of the stanza and the second with the fourth.

The Ghosts of Autumn

Harvey L. Covey, Jr. (Spring, 2016)

In a hollow wood filled with gray-white birch

Near a dried-up creek and a run-down church

Sits an ancient graveyard where the owls perch.

Where the snow-white owls,

Ever on the prowl,

With a hoo-whit scowl,

Keep a constant watch and a ready search

For the rats who cowl

‘Neath a long-dead, rotted, old, gray-white birch.

Where the ghosts of Autumn come to haunt and howl.

 

On a moonlit night ‘neath a star-specked sky

One can hear the banshee as it makes its cry.

As it moans its mournful, lonely cry

So, the rats all scurry.

The owls all hurry

After rodents, furry

That are startled, alerted by a banshee cry.

Where the living came to bury

And the long-since-dead now no longer lie.

Where the ghosts of Autumn come to weep and worry.

 

On a still, still night over fallen leaves

Shadows cast their darkness over stones and eaves

And a mist arises from the earth and cleaves

A cold, clammy cling

To the rotted tree swing

And to fur and to wing.

As the empty church and the graveyard grieves.

And a creaking door swing-

ing grants entry to those whose souls were thieved

Where the ghosts of Autumn come to sorrow and sing.

 

Where the ghosts of Autumn come to haunt and hie

One can hear the spirits in the cold night sky

As a wandering north wind whistles by.

The bats, bleak and gaunt

Fly a swift, lively jaunt

Through the night as they’re wont;

Eating creepies and crawlies that skitter and shy.

They eat all they want

And never mind the spirits who go wandering by

Where the ghosts of Autumn come to howl and haunt.

 

 

In the next example, the emphasis couplet rhymes to itself in a C C pattern which causes a slight, though no-less pleasing variation from the model.

My Old Saskatchewan Home

Harvey L. Covey, Jr. (Autumn, 2017)

As lighthouse on a rocky isle amid a stormy sea,

Its timbers were a bastion in the northern winds for me.

When hoarfrost covered field and plains

While winter tapped on window panes

Beneath a sky of slate-grey stain.

Beside the fireplace, brightly lit with mug of steaming tea

I huddled in my mother’s arms protected from the storm.

Within my old Saskatchewan home.

 

When in my youth I dreamt of city lights, sky scrapers, cars and trains

I never thought I’d ever miss the rugged, wild Saskatchewan plains.

Where far as one can cast an eye

The Prairie reaches for the sky

The only structure standing nigh

An old log cabin, built by hand, among this field of grains.

A solid, solitary farmstead standing on the loam

My weathered, old Saskatchewan home

 

Alone upon a prairie gold, washed white by winter winds

My childhood home stands silent sentry o’er my northern friends.

The arctic fox, the snowshoe hare

The ptarmigan that wander where

The grasslands give them cover there

As in formation geese fly over shouting flight commands.

My mind’s reflections bid my heart to turn around and come

Back to my old Saskatchewan home

 

 

In this example, the poems evokes an old-world sense in the syntax of the language. This poems evokes the purest form of the Parcours style with the only variation being the very final emphasis lines in the last stanza which mirror the run and resolution of the whole.

Every Now and Then (Love Letters)

Harvey L. Covey, Jr. (Summer, 2019)

Dear Mr. Birmingham, whilst sitting in my den,

I must report how well I am, with paper and with pen.

Here, glowing city lights a-twinkle

bright like stars at night, they wink,

and bid me stop and, of you, think,

every now and then.

Sweet memories to cherish when two hearts would beat in sync

within your woodland glen.

 

Sweet, my beloved man, I beg of you to know

not for the fail of love for you, I had to go.

But for the hope of dreams come true

amid a neon Xanadu

where people watch and wander through

a skyline all aglow.

With shops, bazaars, caf├ęs and bars, with food and music too,

my heart was forced to go.

 

Nay, my dear lovely man, and here I press the pen

to boldly highlight letter-strokes and make my point again.

I oft recall us by the pond

on picnic or a secret rendezvous

that sets my mind to wander;

long to be back when.

But let me end on this, a kiss, I think on you with fondness

every now and then.

 

Dear Miss Penelope, how great it warms my heart

to learn how well it is, you be, though we remain apart.

The hound, she often looks for you

and I myself, it seems, do too.

Tossed in a bed that's built for two

I oft awake with start

to face another lonely day and wonder what to do

to soothe my aching heart.

 

For while I could not bar your way to follow your heart's star,

I could not leave my home to venture where it is you are.

I look upon my woodland scene

to view the trees and fields of green

and nature's creatures, meek or mean,

how wild and free they are.

And thus, I must content myself that here I shall remain

to love you from afar.

 

Sweet, my love, Penelope, there sitting in your den,

Know that you’re not far from me within my heart and ken.

For none could ever touch my soul

as you or make me feel more whole,

and knowing you are well is all

I need, now and again

to keep my fondest memories

of love we shared that could not be.

What joy to know you think of me

every now and then.

And ever shall I sit a spell and think of you and me

every now and then.