Movie Buff by Ivan Jenson

Ivan Jenson is a fine artist, novelist, screenwriter, and popular contemporary poet who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Movie Buff

by Ivan Jenson

We aren’t that very
different you know
we all turn into
Jimmy Stewarts
at first snow
and become
Judy Garlands
when we witness
a rainbow
our past
is always
black and white
our present
technicolor
our future only
William Shatner
truly knows
and when time
like Brando
makes us
that offer
we can’t refuse
we become
dynamite in
William Holden’s hands
with a burning fuse
by then it’s already too late
to ask why oh why
as we blow up
and topple down
like the bridge
on the River Kwai

###

Ivan Jenson is a fine artist, novelist, screenwriter, and popular contemporary poet who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

His artwork was featured in Art in America, Art News, and Interview Magazine and has sold at auction at Christie’s. Amongst Ivan’s commissions are the final portrait of the late Malcolm Forbes and a painting titled “Absolut Jenson” for Absolut Vodka’s national ad campaign. His Absolut paintings are in the collection of the Spritmuseum, the museum of spirits in Stockholm, Sweden. Jenson’s painting of the “Marlboro Man” was collected by the Philip Morris corporation. 

His novels, Dead Artist and Seeing Soriah, illustrate the creative, often dramatic lives of artists. Jenson’s poetry is widely published (with over 1,000 poems published in the US, UK and Europe) in a variety of literary media. He has published a poetry book, Media Child and Other Poems, and two novels, Marketing Mia and Erotic Rights. 

Mundane Miracles, his critically acclaimed poetry collection, hit number 1 on Amazon in American Poetry.

East of Ivan, his memoir, has continuously been on the Amazon Bestsellers list since its release.  His new novel, The Tigress, has also charted on the Amazon Bestseller list. 

Ivan Jenson’s website: www.ivanjenson.com

Twitter: @IvanJenson

The farthest thunder that I heard XXVI by Emily Dickinson

The farthest thunder that I heard XXVI

by Emily Dickinson

The farthest thunder that I heard
Was nearer than the sky,
And rumbles still, though torrid noons
Have lain their missiles by.
The lightning that preceded it
Struck no one but myself,
But I would not exchange the bolt
For all the rest of life.
Indebtedness to oxygen
The chemist may repay,
But not the obligation
To electricity.
It founds the homes and decks the days,
And every clamor bright
Is but the gleam concomitant
Of that waylaying light.
The thought is quiet as a flake, —
A crash without a sound;
How life’s reverberation
Its explanation found!

Analysis 

Central Metaphor:

The lightning bolt serves as a metaphor for those sudden, unexpected moments that profoundly impact and alter one’s life. The reference to being personally “struck” hints at pivotal moments – falling in love, experiencing loss and grief, achieving a long-held dream. The poem suggests these moments reverberate through the rest of one’s life.

Tone:

While the tone contains awe, there is also intimacy in the speaker’s personal confrontation with the lightning. This mirrors the intimacy of experiencing a life-defining moment. There is also nostalgia in “rumble still,” hinting at remembering a pivotal instant years later.

Theme:

The transformative power of sudden moments is the overarching theme connecting the poem to the human experience. Additional themes that relate to life include the foundational role certain experiences play in constructing our lives and identities, and the ripple effects from impactful events.

Imagery:

The imagery of a lightning strike parallels the imagery one might use to describe a life-altering event – being “struck” by something with force, being rattled, having your whole world illuminated. The “clangor” and “gleam” suggest the noise and brightness of pivotal moments. Thunder echoing for years mirrors the longevity of these moments.

Overall Message:

The poem is emphasizing how brief, potent moments can define our existence – striking quickly yet impacting all the days that follow. Like lightning, these experiences are central to human life and development. The poem is a tribute to these flashes that explanations and words fail to capture fully.

Guided Questions for The farthest thunder that I heard XXVI by Emily Dickinson

  1. How does the imagery of lightning work as a metaphor for a sudden life-changing experience? What parallels can be drawn?
  2. The speaker says the lightning “founds the homes and decks the days.” What does this suggest about the importance of pivotal moments in our lives?
  3. The reverberation of the lightning is compared to “life’s reverberation.” What do you think the poem is saying about how impactful experiences continue to affect us long after they’re over?
  4. The speaker says “I would not exchange the bolt / For all the rest of life.” What does this convey about the transformative power of lightning/pivotal moments?
  5. The last two lines say these moments provide “explanations” for our lives. What explanation do you think is being referred to here?
  6. The last line describes lightning as a “crash without a sound.” Why do you think the poet chose to describe this destructive force in this unusual way? What meaning are they trying to convey?

Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions! Analyzing poetry more deeply often requires slow, thoughtful reflection and discussion.

Biography

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was one of the most famous and influential American poets. She led a very private life, rarely leaving her hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts, where she pursued her passion for writing poems that broke conventional rules of style and theme.

Though she wrote nearly 1800 poems, less than a dozen were published during her lifetime. She was known for being reclusive and eccentric, interacting largely through letters. Her poems reflect deep insights into death, religion, nature, love and other weighty topics.

After Dickinson died, her sister discovered the enormous collection of unpublished poems and and wanted them published.. Emily Dickinson garnered recognition for her innovatively sparse, untitled form as well as her symbolic richness and bold questioning of core beliefs and doctrines. Her body of work became very influential for modernist and contemporary poets.

Today, Emily Dickinson is considered one of the towering figures of American literature. Though she never formally studied poetry and had little exposure to literary society, she is now studied globally and continues to inspire writers with the intensity and enigmatic beauty of her small yet profound poems.

Because I could not stop for Death by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was one of the most original and influential poets in American history. Though she lived

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ‘t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

###

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was one of the most original and influential poets in American history. Though she lived a largely reclusive life in Amherst, Massachusetts, she produced a body of work consisting of nearly 1,800 poems that contained unique creative expressions and broke from conventional writing styles of the 19th century. Dickinson was ahead of her time, pioneering unconventional capitalization and punctuation that gave her poems deeper layers of meaning. Though less than a dozen of her poems were published during her lifetime, Dickinson sent hundreds of poems to friends and family via letters. After her death, her pioneering style and mastery of themes like life, death, love, nature and spirituality cemented her place as one of the most important figures in American letters.

What Did I Love About Being Hungry by Fran Schumer

Fran Schumer’s poetry, fiction, and articles have appeared in various sections of The New York Times; also, Vogue, The Nation, The North American Review, and

What Did I Love About Being Hungry

by Fran Schumer

 

I fell in love with a kind I could cure
dreaming of Keebler cookies
in the aisles of Waldbaums
the happy elf on the package
my happy mother pushing the cart
with such force, such energy, such ardor.
She bowled cantaloupes down the counter
with an energy I lacked, me —
a stick in a sweater, my arms and legs blue

in the refrigerated aisles, me –
a size two in the puffy, expensive coat
the women bought to keep me warm
when I went away. I never came back.

My sister-in-law said I was spoiled.
She was right. Who would ever love me as much?
The tragedy of first, floating, amniotic love.
I never tasted those stupid, stale supermarket cookies,
fudge, peanut butter, plain, dumb vanilla.
Wanting is so much better than having

All my life I wanted her –
and all that remains is this hunger.

Fran Schumer’s poetry, fiction, and articles have appeared in various sections of The New York Times; also, Vogue, The Nation, The North American Review, and other publications. She won a Goodman Loan Grant Award for Fiction from the City University of New York and in 2021, a Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing poetry fellowship. In 2022, her poem, Memento Mori, was a winner of the Martha’s Vineyard Poet Laureate’s 2022 Contest. Her Chapbook, Weight, was the first runner up in the Jonathan Holden Poetry Chapbook Contest and was published in 2022 by Choeofpleirn Press. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., she studied political science at college but wishes she had spent more time studying Keats.

Can You Eat the Ashes? by Ericka Clay

Ericka Clay is a published novelist and poet. As a former atheist turned believer, she seeks to write raw, real, relatable books that have

Can You Eat the Ashes?

by Ericka Clay

Pigs and pearls
and little girl dreams
and the nothing
more than what I’m not.
And you,
a
sharp-mouthed
word
birthed by an
empty
belly.
Your flint tongue
set the
grass on fire,
but can you
eat the
ashes?

Ericka Clay is a published novelist and poet. As a former atheist turned believer, she seeks to write raw, real, relatable books that have a heart for Jesus. She’s been awarded several times by Writer’s Digest for her short fiction pieces and is working on her latest novel, A Bird Alone (due to be published January 2024). She lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, daughter, and an insatiable need to push buttons, both figuratively and literally.

The old dog on New Year’s Eve by Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a French teacher, translator, recruitment consultant, Indie Film Producer, cinephile and poet residing in New Delhi, India.

The old dog on New Year’s Eve

by Vandana Kumar

 

The old dog on New Year’s Eve
Someday I shall be like that old dog
The one who has seen this city
In all its nakedness
Nothing interests him
He won’t budge
No matter how many times
And which lady of illusions, strips

On those nights of a fading December
I shall be that old dog
Under a rickety bridge
On the verge of collapse

I shall smirk
Seeing fools lined up
Those who think world peace will be sprinkled on them
In some New Year Eve’s confetti that flutters down

Someday I shall be that dog
A little too comfortable
With that worn out rug beneath
And nothing shall push me
To ask questions
From any regime

Someday I shall be that old dog
Not chasing a new car in the block
Someday I shall be stoic
Someday I shall be wise

Today the heart is open
Whimpering
Whining
Yelping
Today the heart is open
And a New Year’s window
Will let in the draught

 

Vandana Kumar is a French teacher, translator, recruitment consultant, Indie Film Producer, cinephile and poet residing in New Delhi, India. Her poems have been published in national and international websites, journals and anthologies of repute. She has been a part of seminal feminist anthologies like the Indie Blu(e) publication ‘The Kali Project’. Her cinema articles appear regularly in ‘Just-cinema’ and ‘The Daily Eye’. Her recent collection of poems ‘Mannequin Of Our Times’ (February 2023) – has been awarded the ‘The Panorama International Book Award 2023’.

 

ULALUME by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an American writer, poet, critic and editor best known for his tales of mystery and horror. He is considered a centra

ULALUME

by Edgar Allan Poe

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crispéd and sere,
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year; 5
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir:
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic 10
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll,
As the lavas that restlessly roll 15
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole,
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober, 20
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere,
Our memories were treacherous and sere,
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year,
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!) 25
We noted not the dim lake of Auber
(Though once we had journeyed down here),
Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent 30
And star-dials pointed to morn,
As the star-dials hinted of morn,
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent 35
Arose with a duplicate horn,
Astarte’s bediamonded crescent
Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said—”She is warmer than Dian:
She rolls through an ether of sighs, 40
She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion
To point us the path to the skies, 45
To the Lethean peace of the skies:
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes:
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes.” 50

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said—”Sadly this star I mistrust:
Her pallor I strangely mistrust:
Oh, hasten!—oh, let us not linger!
Oh, fly!—let us fly!—for we must.” 55
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
Wings until they trailed in the dust;
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust,
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust. 60

I replied—”This is nothing but dreaming:
Let us on by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its sibyllic splendor is beaming
With hope and in beauty to-night: 65
See, it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright:
We safely may trust to a gleaming
That cannot but guide us aright, 70
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.”

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom,
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista, 75
But were stopped by the door of a tomb,
By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said—”What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?”
She replied—”Ulalume—Ulalume— 80
‘T is the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere,
As the leaves that were withering and sere,
And I cried—”It was surely October 85
On this very night of last year
That I journeyed—I journeyed down here,
That I brought a dread burden down here:
On this night of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon has tempted me here? 90
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber,
This misty mid region of Weir:
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”

###

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an American writer, poet, critic and editor best known for his tales of mystery and horror. He is considered a central figure in the American Romantic movement and was one of the first American practitioners of the short story.

Poe was born in Boston to actress Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and actor David Poe Jr. His father abandoned the family when Poe was a toddler and his mother died of tuberculosis when he was two, leaving him orphaned. He was taken in by the wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife Frances in Richmond, Virginia.

Though never formally adopted, Poe took Allan as his middle name. He had a strained relationship with John Allan who did not support his literary ambitions. As a young man Poe attended the University of Virginia but was forced to drop out due to lack of funds.

His publishing career began in 1827 with the poetry collection Tamerlane and Other Poems. In 1835 he became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. He later lived in Philadelphia working as editor for magazines like Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine.

It was during this time that Poe established himself as a critical reviewer and published many of his most famous stories, including “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

Known for his Gothic, macabre themes and melancholic tone, Poe pioneered the modern detective story and helped define early science fiction. He married his cousin Virginia Clemm in 1836 who died of tuberculosis in 1847. Poe himself died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40 in 1849.

Though not widely recognized during his lifetime, Poe’s stories and criticism have had a profound and lasting influence on American and international literature. He is now considered one of the most significant writers of the 19th century.

The Death of the Old Year by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)

Alfred Lord Tennyson is considered one of the greatest English poets of the Victorian era. He was born in 1809 in England. His early poems

The Death of the Old Year

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year, you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take ’em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I’ve half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o’er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he’ll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
’Tis nearly twelve o’clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we’ll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.

Alfred Lord Tennyson is considered one of the greatest English poets of the Victorian era. He was born in 1809 in England. His early poems were largely influenced by the times—his famous poem “The Lady of Shalott” is set in King Arthur’s Camelot, showing his early interest in medieval themes. Tennyson continued writing and expanding his catalog of poems. In 1850, he was appointed the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland. Two years later, upon the death of William Wordsworth, Tennyson officially assumed the role of Poet Laureate. Some of his most famous poems are ‘In Memoriam’, ‘Idylls of the King’, and ‘Tithonus’. While Tennyson garnered fame and accolades in his home country, his reputation eventually spread across the globe. Much of his poetry focused on grief, loss, doubt, and faith. Despite periods of deep sadness, Tennyson maintained an unwavering faith throughout his life. His poems explore complex themes in mystical ways, allowing readers to uncover new interpretations with each reading. Though he passed in 1892, Tennyson’s works continue to inspire and connect deeply with readers over 150 years later.

The Magi by William Butler Yeats

The Magi

by William Butler Yeats

Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary’s turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.

###

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was one of the foremost poets of 20th century literature. An Irish poet and playwright, Yeats helped drive the Irish Literary Revival and co-founded the Abbey Theatre. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.”

Yeats was born in Dublin and spent his childhood between London and County Sligo in Ireland. The Irish landscape and folklore of his youth informed much of his poetic imagery and nationalistic sentiments later in life. Though he trained as a painter initially, Yeats turned fully towards poetry in his twenties while becoming involved in occult circles in London. He published several poetry collections in the 1890s as well as plays rooted in Irish mythology.

Alongside Lady Gregory, Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival aimed at reviving native Irish language and culture through art. As a playwright, he co-founded the Abbey Theatre with Gregory and others as a home for Irish drama. Over his long and prolific career, Yeats cemented his legacy as one of Ireland’s most revered writers, noted for his imaginative lyricism and powerful vision infused with Irish politics and mythology. His poems of unrequited love, Irish rebellion and the arcane remain widely influential in modern literature.

Christmas Comes Again by Elizabeth Stoddard

Elizabeth Drew Stoddard (1823 – 1902) was a poet and novelist who brought fresh perspective to New England life through her Gothic-inspired writings.

Christmas Comes Again

by Elizabeth Stoddard

Let me be merry now, ‘t is time;
The season is at hand
For Christmas rhyme and Christmas chime,
Close up, and form the band.

The winter fires still burn as bright,
The lamp-light is as clear,
And since the dead are out of sight,
What hinders Christmas cheer?

Why think or speak of that abyss
In which lies all my Past?
High festival I need not miss,
While song and jest shall last.

We’ll clink and drink on Christmas Eve,
Our ghosts can feel no wrong;
They revelled ere they took their leave—
Hearken, my Soldier’s Song:

“The morning air doth coldly pass,
Comrades, to the saddle spring:
The night more bitter cold will bring
Ere dying—ere dying.
Sweetheart, come, the parting glass;
Glass and sabre, clash, clash, clash,
Ere dying—ere dying.
Stirrup-cup and stirrup-kiss—
Do you hope the foe we’ll miss,
Sweetheart, for this loving kiss,
Ere dying—ere dying?”

The feasts and revels of the year
Do ghosts remember long?
Even in memory come they here?
Listen, my Sailor’s Song:

“O my hearties, yo heave ho!
Anchor’s up in Jolly Bay—
Hey!
Pipes and swipes, hob and nob—
Hey!
Mermaid Bess and Dolphin Meg,
Paddle over Jolly Bay—
Hey!
Tars, haul in for Christmas Day,
For round the ‘varsal deep we go;
Never church, never bell,
For to tell
Of Christmas Day.
Yo heave ho, my hearties O!
Haul in, mates, here we lay—
Hey!”

His sword is rusting in its sheath,
His flag furled on the wall;
We’ll twine them with a holly-wreath,
With green leaves cover all.

So clink and drink when falls the eve;
But, comrades, hide from me
Their graves—I would not see them heave
Beside me, like the sea.

Let not my brothers come again,
As men dead in their prime;
Then hold my hands, forget my pain,
And strike the Christmas chime.

###

Elizabeth Drew Stoddard (1823 – 1902) was a poet and novelist who brought fresh perspective to New England life through her Gothic-inspired writings. Born into privilege as a member of Maine’s wealthy Collins family, Stoddard had creative ambitions from a young age. After marrying famed poet Richard Henry Stoddard, she began channeling her skills into both poetry and prose.

Stoddard published her first poem in 1852, quickly earning acclaim for her lyrical verses meditating on love, death, morality and the human condition. Her work appeared in prominent literary magazines for decades, targeting discerning intellectual readers rather than the masses. Stoddard’s distinct poetry was finally compiled into the 1895 collection Poems, featuring favored pieces like “A Presence,” “October,” and “Three Loves.”

In addition to poetry, Stoddard produced three insightful novels between 1862 and 1867. Her debut The Morgesons (1862) painted a stark portrait of a unraveling New England family weakened by societal pressures and inner turmoil. Stoddard expanded her scope with Two Men (1865) and Temple House (1867), probing religion, morality and community identity across Massachusetts, Maine and the isolated Temple House island monastery. More mature editions released in 1888 earned Stoddard’s novels, commended for their psychological depth and regional accuracy, greater readership. Stoddard also tapped into her reservations about strict Puritanical principles through the lighthearted children’s tale Lolly Dinks’s Doings (1874), chronicling the adventures of an irrepressibly free-spirited young girl.

Christmas Greetings by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, born in 1832 in Cheshire, England. Best known for his whimsical children’s stories

Christmas Greetings
[FROM A FAIRY TO A CHILD.]

by Lewis Carroll

Lady dear, if Fairies may
For a moment lay aside
Cunning tricks and elfish play,
‘Tis at happy Christmas-tide.

We have heard the children say—
Gentle children, whom we love—
Long ago, on Christmas Day,
Came a message from above.

Still, as Christmas-tide comes round,
They remember it again—
Echo still the joyful sound
“Peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Yet the hearts must childlike be
Where such heavenly guests abide:
Unto children, in their glee,
All the year is Christmas-tide!

Thus, forgetting tricks and play
For a moment, Lady dear,
We would wish you, if we may,
Merry Christmas, glad New Year!

Christmas, 1867.

###

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, born in 1832 in Cheshire, England. Best known for his whimsical children’s stories Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Carroll was an English writer, mathematician, photographer, and Anglican deacon. As a mathematics lecturer at Christ Church college, Oxford for over 25 years, Carroll had a natural talent for puzzles, logic, and fantasy that was woven throughout his literary works. His creative children’s stories featuring Alice exploring nonsensical dreamworlds became beloved classics of imaginative literature. As an early photography enthusiast, Carroll frequently photographed children in his life, including the daughters of friends that inspired his character Alice. While Dodgson lived a rather reclusive life devoted to academia and creative pursuits, his alter ego Lewis Carroll became one of the most popular children’s storytellers of the 19th century, with imaginative tales of fantasy exploration that continue to captivate readers young and old.

Dreamland by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an American writer, poet, critic and editor best known for his tales of mystery and horror.

Dreamland

by Edgar Allan Poe

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule—
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of Space—out of Time.

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the dews that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters—lone and dead,
Their still waters—still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,—
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,—

By the mountains—near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,—
By the gray woods,—by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp,—
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,—
By each spot the most unholy—
In each nook most melancholy,—

There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the past—
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by—
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion
‘Tis a peaceful, soothing region—
For the spirit that walks in shadow
‘Tis—oh, ’tis an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not—dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only.
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.

1844

###

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an American writer, poet, critic and editor best known for his tales of mystery and horror. He is considered a central figure in the American Romantic movement and was one of the first American practitioners of the short story.

Poe was born in Boston to actress Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and actor David Poe Jr. His father abandoned the family when Poe was a toddler and his mother died of tuberculosis when he was two, leaving him orphaned. He was taken in by the wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife Frances in Richmond, Virginia.

Though never formally adopted, Poe took Allan as his middle name. He had a strained relationship with John Allan who did not support his literary ambitions. As a young man Poe attended the University of Virginia but was forced to drop out due to lack of funds.

His publishing career began in 1827 with the poetry collection Tamerlane and Other Poems. In 1835 he became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. He later lived in Philadelphia working as editor for magazines like Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine.

It was during this time that Poe established himself as a critical reviewer and published many of his most famous stories, including “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

Known for his Gothic, macabre themes and melancholic tone, Poe pioneered the modern detective story and helped define early science fiction. He married his cousin Virginia Clemm in 1836 who died of tuberculosis in 1847. Poe himself died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40 in 1849.

Though not widely recognized during his lifetime, Poe’s stories and criticism have had a profound and lasting influence on American and international literature. He is now considered one of the most significant writers of the 19th century.

from: In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred Lord Tennyson 

from: In Memoriam A.H.H.

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

XXVIII
The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.

Four voices of four hamlets round,
From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door
Were shut between me and the sound:

Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

This year I slept and woke with pain,
I almost wish’d no more to wake,
And that my hold on life would break
Before I heard those bells again:{46}

But they my troubled spirit rule,
For they controll’d me when a boy;
They bring me sorrow touch’d with joy,
The merry merry bells of Yule.

XXIX
With such compelling cause to grieve
As daily vexes household peace,
And chains regret to his decease,
How dare we keep our Christmas-eve;

Which brings no more a welcome guest
To enrich the threshold of the night
With shower’d largess of delight,
In dance and song and game and jest.

Yet go, and while the holly boughs
Entwine the cold baptismal font,
Make one wreath more for Use and Wont
That guard the portals of the house;

Old sisters of a day gone by,
Gray nurses, loving nothing new;
Why should they miss their yearly due
Before their time? They too will die.

XXX
With trembling fingers did we weave
The holly round the Christmas hearth;
A rainy cloud possess’d the earth,
And sadly fell our Christmas-eve.

At our old pastimes in the hall
We gambol’d, making vain pretence
Of gladness, with an awful sense
Of one mute Shadow watching all.

We paused: the winds were in the beech:
We heard them sweep the winter land;
And in a circle hand-in-hand
Sat silent, looking each at each.

Then echo-like our voices rang;
We sung, tho’ every eye was dim,
A merry song we sang with him
Last year: impetuously we sang:{49}

We ceased: a gentler feeling crept
Upon us: surely rest is meet:
‘They rest,’ we said, ‘their sleep is sweet,’
And silence follow’d, and we wept.

Our voices took a higher range;
Once more we sang: ‘They do not die
Nor lose their mortal sympathy,
Nor change to us, although they change;

Rapt from the fickle and the frail
With gather’d power, yet the same,
Pierces the keen seraphic flame
From orb to orb, from veil to veil.

Rise, happy morn, rise holy morn,
Draw forth the cheerful day from night:
O Father! touch the east, and light
The light that shone when Hope was born.’

LXXVI
Again at Christmas did we weave
The holly round the Christmas hearth,
The silent snow possess’d the earth,
And calmly fell our Christmas-eve;

The yule-clog sparkled keen with frost,
No wing of wind the region swept,
But over all things brooding slept
The quiet sense of something lost.

As in the winters left behind,
Again our ancient games had place,
The mimic pictures breathing grace,
And dance and song and hoodman-blind.

Who show’d a token of distress?
No single tear, no type of pain:
O sorrow, then can sorrow wane?
O grief, can grief be changed to less?{107}

O last regret, Regret can die!
No—mixt with all this mystic frame,
Her deep relations are the same,
But with long use her tears are dry.

CIII
This holly by the cottage-eave,
To night, ungather’d, shall it stand:
We live within the stranger’s land,
And strangely falls our Christmas eve.

Our father’s dust is left alone
And silent under other snows:
There in due time the woodbine blows,
The violet comes, but we are gone.

No more shall wayward grief abuse
The genial hour with mask and mime;
For change of place, like growth of time,
Has broke the bond of dying use.

Let cares that petty shadows cast,
By which our lives are chiefly proved,
A little spare the night I loved,
And hold it solemn to the past.{161}

But let no footstep beat the floor,
Nor bowl of wassail mantle warm;
For who would keep an ancient form
Through which the spirit breathes no more?

Be neither song, nor game, nor feast,
Nor harp be touch’d, nor flute be blown;
No dance, no motion, save alone
What lightens in the lucid east

Of rising worlds by yonder wood.
Long sleeps the summer in the seed;
Run out your measur’d arcs, and lead
The closing cycle rich in good.

 

Alfred Lord Tennyson is considered one of the greatest English poets of the Victorian era. He was born in 1809 in England. His early poems were largely influenced by the times—his famous poem “The Lady of Shalott” is set in King Arthur’s Camelot, showing his early interest in medieval themes. Tennyson continued writing and expanding his catalog of poems. In 1850, he was appointed the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland. Two years later, upon the death of William Wordsworth, Tennyson officially assumed the role of Poet Laureate. Some of his most famous poems are ‘In Memoriam’, ‘Idylls of the King’, and ‘Tithonus’. While Tennyson garnered fame and accolades in his home country, his reputation eventually spread across the globe. Much of his poetry focused on grief, loss, doubt, and faith. Despite periods of deep sadness, Tennyson maintained an unwavering faith throughout his life. His poems explore complex themes in mystical ways, allowing readers to uncover new interpretations with each reading. Though he passed in 1892, Tennyson’s works continue to inspire and connect deeply with readers over 150 years later.

 

The Pick-up Artist by Karol Nielsen

The Pick-up Artist

by Karol Nielsen

After graduating from the Columbia School of Journalism, I became the managing editor of a Bronx newspaper and my graduate school classmate became a stringer for The New York Times. I wanted to be a stringer, too. I gave him almost everything I had ever published and he recommended me for the job.

I became a Metro Section stringer and I covered a fire, a numbers bust, a gang fight, a gun standoff at Penn Station, the death of a homeless man across from a hospital, and other stories. My reporting appeared in the Times and I always bought a copy of the paper.

Once, a tall, burly man with a baseball cap and thick beard approached me at the newsstand near my Upper West Side apartment.

“Do you want to be an actress?” he said.

“No, a writer,” I said.

He shrugged and wrote his name and number in my newly purchased New York Times—James Toback, writer “Bugsy” and director “The Pick-up Artist.”

“Call me if you change your mind,” he said.

Turns out, he was accused of being a sexual predator who used to target women in my old neighborhood. Luckily, I moved across town and became a writer and never called.

###

Karol Nielsen is the author of the memoirs Walking A&P and Black Elephants and three poetry chapbooks. Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her full-length poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry. Her poem “This New Manhattan” was a finalist for the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.

Road Kill by John RC Potter

John RC Potter is a gay man from Canada, living in Istanbul, and an international educator (currently university counsellor, formerly principal & teacher).

Road Kill

by John RC Potter

I saw a raccoon lying on the side of the road last night
on his back, freshly dead, his paws raised in supplication;
he reminded me of me:
but can the dead still be moved through manipulation?

Whenever I see raccoons lying dead on the road,
they remind me of all those who have loved and lost:
dead and dying hearts on this endless highway of love,
whose owners took a chance but at quite a high cost.

I saw a raccoon dying on the side of the road last night
on his back, still alive, wondering what had happened to him;
he reminded me of me:
just a heap on the highway of love as the light grows dim.

###

John RC Potter is a gay man from Canada, living in Istanbul, and an international educator (currently university counsellor, formerly principal & teacher). He has experienced a revolution (Indonesia), air strikes (Israel), earthquakes (Turkey), boredom (UAE), and blinding snow blizzards (Canada), the last being the subject of his story, “Snowbound in the House of God” (Memoirist, May 2023). His poems and stories have been published in a range of magazines and journals, most recently in Blank Spaces, (“In Search of Alice Munro”, June 2023), Literary Yard (“She Got What She Deserved”, June 2023) & Freedom Fiction (“The Mystery of the Dead-as-a-Doornail Author”, July 2023). John RC Potter – Author Website (author-blog.org

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