Spring Break Short Story Recommendation 2023 & Supporting Friends Friday: Stacey C. Johnson’s “Survey of Poetry”

To finish out this year’s Spring Break Short Story Recommendations I’m also reviving (albeit temporarily) an old feature, Supporting Friends Friday.  I’m rounding out my short story selections with Stacey C. Johnson‘s “Survey of Poetry,” found at her excellent blog Breadcrumbs.

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Rest in Peace, Jeremy Miles

Earlier this week, my good friend Jeremy Miles passed away after a struggle with cancer.  Long-time readers will know that Jeremy was a writer and poet, and released several volumes of his poetry over the past few years (somehow I missed his last release, Shadows in Suburbia; sadly, it will be the only volume of his poetry in my collection that will never host his autograph).

Jeremy’s influence in the tiny world of Florence County, South Carolina coffee shops was absolutely massive, to an extent and in a way that he in his self-deprecating humility would never acknowledge.  His poetry captured the spirit of a golden age of open mic music, that glorious period in The Before Times, before The Age of The Virus, when musicians and poets promiscuously plied their creative wares in a supportive and encouraging environment.  His first published collection of poetry, A Year of Thursday Nights: Everyday Poetry, conveys the energy and creative ferment of those halcyon days, all with his sly humor and playful wit.

He was also a good man—a great man.  Always clad in black from head-to-toe, and always wishing it were Halloween, he always encouraged those around him with his gentle demeanor.  He was that guy that looked cool, but was never intimidating or exclusive about his natural coolness.  He was cool, yes, but warm—a warmth that derived from his sensitive and reflective nature.  Anyone was welcome in Jeremy’s circle, and if you could quote Big Trouble in Little China, even better.

Jeremy was moved to hospice this past Sunday, and passed early on Tuesday, 10 January 2023.  I was unable to visit him before his passing.  While I regret that, his girlfriend pointed out to me that now I will always remember him as he was—joyful, funny, ebullient, full of life, a shining beacon of friendship and love, even in all-black.

I regret, too, not spending more time in conversation with him this past year.  He was rallying and even played a few songs with his band, Jeremy and the Blissters, but the cancer—that terrible, wicked disease—won out in the end.

But cancer cannot destroy the culture that Jeremy created.  Nor can it destroy his memory.

I will miss him deeply, as I know many others will.

Rest in peace, Jeremy Miles.

Flashback Friday: Veterans’ Day 2018, Commemoration of the Great War, and Poppies

It is Veterans Day here in the United States, what was once called Armistice Day, the day the cease-fire went into effect, effectively ending the First World War—the “Great War,” as it was then known.  The men that day never dreamed there’d be a Second World War, but in hindsight, it’s easy to see how the cease-fire and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles of 1919 were, indeed, mere stopgaps.  It was a cease-fire of twenty years, not a lasting peace, and the two great, terrible wars of the twentieth century are, perhaps, best understood as being one larger conflict, a la the Hundred Years’ War between France and England.

But I digress.  Every Veterans Day—which I stylized with a plural possessive apostrophe until finally looking it up this year and realizing my error—I repost this short talk I gave in 2018.  At the time, I was involved actively in the Florence County (South Carolina) Republican Party, and would give a brief Historical Moment talk at the start of each meeting.  This speech—from the 12 November 2018 meeting, one of my last with the organization—is the one of which I am most proud, and the one I feel most privileged to have given.

With that, here is “Veterans’ Day 2018, Commemoration of the Great War, and Poppies“:

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Son of Sonnet: The Ballad of Forgotten Dreams

Son of Sonnet—now going by his given name, Michael Gettinger—is back with a mildly post-apocalyptic poem.

The premise is intriguing; Son tells me the request was for “a poem about being a feminist in a world where you’re the only female human left. Every other human is a male.”  That sounds like the premise of a 1970s sci-fi flick!

Naturally, it’s not a great existence, but the feminist seems to realize the error of her ways.  These lines were particularly poignant:  “I learned a lesson through romance/That man may build for woman’s sake.”  How very true—I’ve accomplished a great deal in my life simply because I wanted to impress women.  I think that’s probably true for most men.

With that, here is Michael Gettinger/Son of Sonnet’s “The Ballad of Forgotten Dreams”:

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Poem: The PACs

My call for submissions continues to yield fruit—KC, a regular contributor to and participant in the Dragon Common Room Telegram chat and its various projects—reached out with this poem, which she says is “a satirical take on Dr. Seuss’s poem ‘The Zax‘….”

When I asked KC if she had any biographical information she’d like to share, she said, “I don’t! Sorry!  I’m literally just a bored housewife who writes for fun.”  Then she sent along something a bit more indicative of her talents:  she “is one of the writers of Rachel Fulton Brown’s Dragon Common Room Books; a contributing author to Centrism Games, Aurora Bearialis, and the upcoming Draco Alchemicus.  But mostly she is a wife and mother who writes for the she[e]r fun of it.”

As we head into the election season, this little poem is a fun reminder of the perils of Uniparty politics.

With that, here is KC’s “The PACs”:

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Son of Sonnet: Change

I approached the Poet Formerly Known as Son of Sonnet (PFKSoS), Michael Gettinger, about writing a little something for the slowly approaching autumnality that I crave, and after demurring initially, he popped out this little gem about the changing of the seasons—of the world, to be sure, but also of our lives.

I’m always eager for fall weather, but Gettinger’s poem is a good reminder that we always forget the lows that come with each season, instead focusing on the highs.

Perhaps that’s not all bad; after all, how else are we to endure the heat and humidity of summer if we don’t forget them briefly and think about the pool parties and barbecues instead?

With that, here is “Change” by Son of Sonnet / Michael Gettinger:

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Son of Sonnet: Summer Nights

We’re in the waning days of summer—at least, of glorious summer vacation—and I wanted to commemorate these fading, waning days with some poetry.

Ergo, I commissioned Michael Gettinger—formerly The Artist Known as Son of Sonnet—to twenty-three-skidoo up some summertime poetry.  Of the two themes I requested, the second was “The Hazy Nostalgia of Late Summer” (the first was “Back to School”).

There’s something about intense humidity and sunlight at 9 PM that conjure up heady memories of better times.  Michael captured that beautifully in this poem.

With that, here is Michael Gettinger’s “Summer Nights”:

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Son of Sonnet: For the Chads

Well, it finally happened—Son of Sonnet (now known by his Christian name, Michael Gettinger) has composed the ultimate ode to Chads.

For the uninitiated, a “Chad” is basically a cool dude who is secure in his masculinity and faith.  At least, that’s the flattering definition; it started out as a pejorative term to describe super handsome dudes who get a lot of babes (known as “Staceys”).  But just like conservatives embraced the “deplorables” smear as a symbol of defiant glory, so the giga-Chads have taken to their name.

This website should prove of use to my older, less “with it” readers—ya dig, cool cats?

Now that I’ve insulted the majority of my readers, back to the poetry:  Son/Michael (Michael-Son?) received a request from artist The Republikid to write a poem “For the Chads.”  She’s a pretty dang good artist in her own right, and Michael is a big fan and champion of her work.  He’s commissioned her work, and her material looks great!

With that, here is Michael Gettinger’s “For the Chads”:

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Son of Sonnet: The Mountain

A couple of weekends ago I visited the mountains of southwestern Virginia to attend a memorial service for my great-aunt, who passed away November 2021 at the age of ninety-three.  She was a feisty, fun-loving lady, and the memorial service was a moving celebration of her life.  We also ate KFC and barbecue, which is the kind of send-off I want.

So the mountains were on my mind last week when Son of Sonnet reached out to me, asking me what theme I’d like a poem about.  Naturally, I asked him to write about the mountains, specifically the sweet smell of clover that serves as a sensory touchstone for my youngest memories.  To this day, whenever I smell clover, it takes me to my Mamaw’s house in Flat Gap, Virginia (outside of Pound, Virginia, in Wise County).  That scent is synonymous with her and her home.

I did not tell Son of Sonnet—who is now publishing poetry under his real name, Michael Gettinger—about that sensory relationship before he wrote the poem.  That makes the eighth and ninth lines all the more poignant and serendipitious.

So I am very pleased to present a very special poem from SoS/Michael Gettinger, “The Mountain”:

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