Tagged Writing

January “A River of Stones” Poetry Tweets Wrap-Up @JadeBlackwater

Last month I participated in A River of Stones (#aros) writing challenge. I heard about #aros just before the New Year via the venerable Crafty Green Poet, Juliet Wilson.

The #aros project is curated by UK writer/artist Fiona Robyn and her partner Kaspa. Their invitation to writers begged daily tokens of small stones, which they define as “polished moment[s] of paying proper attention.”

I enjoyed this daily meditation not only as a part of my journaling routine, but also for the pleasures of hopping in the stream, splashing around with a few fellow writers, and listening to #aros flow.

UPDATE March 3, 2011: You can now purchase a book of selections from the January 2011 #aros project, in which my contribution “slender moon […]” appears: pay attention: a river of stones.

Below is the tributary of small stones I shared via micropoetry tweets @JadeBlackwater throughout January 2011. Hashtags have been retained to show the texture of the day when each stone was palmed. Line breaks have been restored where ‘ / ‘ was used in the feed.


6:45 AM, Dec 31st


morning star



old moon



6:46 AM, Dec 31st

a shimmering


in the blackness



in silence



6:46 AM, Dec 31st

I shade my




still no




6:46 AM, Dec 31st

but wait!

a tree-line


a sliver

of late flame



8:33 AM, Jan 1st



fan and glow

dusty blue


year dawn blooms



1:22 PM, Jan 1st


the pink



the brown

darting blink



7:48 AM, Jan 2nd

settled cold



steams over



mercurial gems



2:37pm, Jan 2nd

late light

low white

catkins waggle

tides of birds

pluck, repluck



7:48 AM, Jan 3rd


dons the morning



of frosted


too icy

for my





6:32 AM, Jan 4th

burn ban in #kitsap

I pine for my stove

bundled in the dark


3:56 PM, Jan 5th

praise for overcast

skies! greys, sweet eye-balm

slathering quiet



11:43 AM, Jan 6th

flash of black

alighting raven

breaks concentration


10:23 AM, Jan 8th

great blue heron glides

afore the windshield

six fixed eyes follow


5:17 PM, Jan 9th

slender moon


between power lines


8:40 AM, Jan 10th

morning news


rock on sis!


10:40 AM, Jan 10th

hilltop snow

sunrise sleet

rooster crows


6:47 AM, Jan 11th

dreams defrost

crackling and snapping

icy stars



2:46 PM, Jan 12th

iced streets slush

in morning hush grey

ribbons wring across foothills


12:28 PM, Jan 13th

soft forgotten words

practiced syllables

tonguing memory

ichi ni san shi

go back through the draft


7:17 AM, Jan 14th

rain rattle

shake the world awake

drip tempo



1:00 PM, Jan 14th

hemlocks hurl, howl, sway

scrub and brush awash

with windy dewlight

#windstorm #powerout #kitsap


4:56 PM, Jan 17th

“Now rose-pink!” cries the painter

“now mountain cobalt-white!

now scoop away all color

make room for coal-dark night.”



6:02 PM, Jan 17th

beckoning sketchbook

cedar fingertips




8:35 PM, Jan 18th

glowing yawn

chilled shadow

full tremble



7:06 AM, Jan 19th

lunar mischief lingers on

morning breath exhalations

smoke detector reveille




2:42 PM, Jan 25th

red alder

your swelling catkins

in first blush



5:12 AM, Jan 28th

morning wind

chimes a new system

brisk star chants



5:16 AM, Jan28th

roof spine crack

early notebook ink

stray door draft



8:06 AM, Jan 31st

dawn blossom

sweet low hanging fog

rose-colored grasses


Literary Journal Review: A cappella Zoo Issue 5

A cappella Zoo – a journal of magic realism and slipstream: Issue 5, Fall 2010

Editors: Colin Meldrum, Michael James Wilson, Amanda DiSanto, Micah Unice

The hardcopy of A cappella Zoo Issue 5 for today’s review was provided by the editors at A cappella Zoo.

Read selections from A cappella Zoo 5 here.

Follow @acappellazoo on Twitter

(And for more fun, read an interview with Editor Colin Meldrum by Jim Harrington at the Six Questions For… blog.)

If I had to describe a theme or a common thread for A cappella Zoo (AZ) issue 5, it would be this: voids, and that which fills them. AZ5 reads like a volume of the Never-Never Encyclopedia of the Esoteric: pages of places both peopled and unpeopled, people without places, people displaced. The contributors for this issue ponder voids of unknown, and speculate on the voices heard within. The result is a collection of literature which ultimately places the sketchbook and pencils in my hand this week – these works are adequately vivid and tangible to fuel your own creative engine through those long, dark nights.

The curtain opens with Showtime by Nancy Gold, winner of the Apospecimen Award for Fiction. Gold’s piece sets the tone for subsequent selections by deftly weaving emotion and imagination with a spindle of belief – the belief that we can be more than the sum of our parts; that our hearts are vessels meant to be filled. This is the first of many pieces which playfully create images that are both impossible and perfectly conceivable. (Read Showtime and just try not to look at your ankles and ponder a few tiny wings about their knobbly bones.)

I never read journals front to back, which is why I next bounce forward to Movie Man by Melissa Ross, telling of “a boy born in the projection booth of a tower in the sky away from the Earth as we know it;” first we are cast into the sky, and next drawn into the intimacy of Earth’s shadows.

In Borges’ Bookstore by David Misialowski smacks of one of my favorite Burgess Meredith Twilight Zones: “Time Enough at Last” (see also Jorge Luis Borges). This maze, void of reason and physical law, wraps upon itself into a complete, neat package. Speaking of neat packages, poetry lovers might like to begin with : sign language : by Joseph A. W. Quintela (whose work I seem to find everywhere these days).  The unique composition of this poem is a perfect complement to austere images of solitude, plains, and big, wide sky, cleft open by shared experience.

This completeness is a quality I appreciate throughout AZ5: stories which, while wildly catalyzed, still anchor themselves in some clearly-formed thought. No matter how outrageous our surroundings, each author still affords us a compass with which to navigate the realm. Pestilence by Jason Jordan is such an excellent example: a form of tethered madness.

Many of the AZ5 contributors counterbalance the darker shades of humanity with artful prose and poetry, or a bit of wicked humor. Perhaps the most disturbing yet effective piece is The Crushing by Phillip Neel, which I may have otherwise stopped reading because of the nastiness of the descriptions, had it not been for the clever and poignant entrance to this particular void: that dirty of dirties, the DMV. I’m glad I kept reading – the payoff of this piece is what ranks it among my favorites for this issue.

Similarly The Snake Charmer’s Teeth by Mike Meginnis still haunts me weeks after reading, wherein a cruel story is sculpted with both elegance and requisite gentleness. What the Calf Daughter Knows by Rob Cook is both brutal and beautiful. This persistent poem stands out bone white against the void: completely unignorable.

It’s tough to pick a favorite, especially when I find a journal like A cappella Zoo which is good enough to reread many times. However, the sentimentalist (or perhaps the Japanese lit lover) in me found the deepest connection in A Tale of a Snowy Night by Naoko Awa, translated by Toshiya Kamei. In this story, space is not a function of distance or time, but of empathy. Naoko grounds us in crisp imagery which is as familiar as it is fantastical. Aren’t we all, in some small way, a crate of hopeful apples?

Einstein Plays Guitar by Tania Hershman is also a rewarding read: a well-developed snapshot of those graceful and fleeting whispers of true knowledge. Birds Every Child Should Know by Kate Riedel is another of my favorites from AZ5. I wasn’t sure what to think of it at first; but the more I read Birds, the more I feel the weight of each angelic, warmly feathered lump. In this piece we glimpse the unknown aflutter with spirit, the glittering moments we share with others that spark us on an entirely new path.

Thank you, Theodore Carter, for the tears I cried upon reading the final lines of The Life Story of a Chilean Sea Blob. With much of speculative fiction favoring the apocalyptic, it’s always helpful to recall with specificity that which we might lose in the aftermath.

If you wish to truly be suspended in the void, begin your journey through AZ5 with Sleepmaps by Barry Napier tucked firmly in your back pocket. Personally, I love dream-inspired art; this poem spares no effort in reaching for the most tangible sensations of the dreaming world, such that I too “never want to wake.”

I want to thank the editors of A cappella Zoo for preparing such an effective cross-section of mind-opening literature for issue 5. Each piece is clearly selected for its creation of both precipice and foothold. What I like most about reading specfic – especially GOOD specfic – is that constant feeling of discovery in each page. I love experiments in literature which keep me guessing and thinking and unraveling, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in A cappella Zoo: a bit of the unknown, made knowable.

For Laure-Alda, from Francis

For this July’s Clarity of Night “Uncovered” Short Fiction Contest I created a piece of poetry (with narrative movement to meet the requirements of this contest), inspired by Jason Evans’ image of gemstones here. You can read my entry Forties Club Finalist #22 here.

Laure-Alda and Francis aren’t strangers: they are characters from one of my story ideas. This poem started as a 200-word flash fiction piece written from Francis’ POV. After a few hours I realized that the fiction could be extracted to make a poem or rather, a love letter. I’m using love letters to explore Laure-Alda and Francis, their lives, their friendship, and their current circumstances (such as it relates to the story).

Listen to the audio (MP3 link below), and be sure to spend some time at The Clarity of Night this week – there’s a lot of good reading to be had.


For Laure-Alda, from Francis by Jade Leone Blackwater

*     *     *

For Laure-Alda, from Francis

by Jade Leone Blackwater

If we awoke
clasped in sunlight
and found that the lump in my throat
had burst and broken
birthed a trinity of gemstones
to my dune grass pillow
would you cradle the tokens
to your nose as dew drops in the palm
watch colors radiate along our wrinkles,
remember our love for what dazzles,
burns us with brilliance?

Would you join me at the gorge
gulp turpentine and cinnamon wind
knock the sharp, sacred clap
which calls the rainbow-scaled fish-sage who,
in his high lip-pop dialect,
whispers “Only when the moon is dark,”
until the incantations crack
open our skull caps
into which we’d drop jewels
as cherries to dish, wait
for the western orb to reach the zenith
blaze its beam down and scoop us both moonward?

*     *     *