Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 5.6.18

Welcome to a beautiful May Sunday, gentle readers.

Grab a hot cup of tea, and kick up your feet. Let's read some good stuff together.

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Advice to Writers: You've Got to Work It Over. Excellent advice from my writing hero Ernest Hemingway.

Go Medieval and Attach a Book to Your Belt. Just go read it. You'll understand...

26 Crime Writing Poets. Oh hell yeah! Did you know poetry was my first love?

Want to earn more as a book author? A male name will help. This story is starting to get old...

Do librarians read all day? Do writers write all day? 🤔

25 Foreign Words and Their Hilarious Meanings. I particularly enjoy #8...

How Fairy Tales Help Us Continue to Think Smarter and Harder. “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”  –Albert Einstein

On Analog Social Media. "The resulting analog social media tended to prove significantly more satisfying and rewarding than the addictive experiences offered through screens by the algorithmic attention economy.

And closer to home:

You need to listen to this Harlequin Audiobook Sampler. If you love audiobooks, then this will be your jam. Featuring wonderfully told tales written by Mary Kubica, Christina Dodd, Hannah Mary McKinnon, Amy Lloyd, and me! 

That's it from me! Y'all have a great week, buy some $8 grocery store flowers and put them in a Mason jar, and we'll talk again soon.



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Celebrate National Poetry Month With Me

Celebrate National Poetry Month With Me

My first love growing up was poetry. Though I had dual majors in college, I was an English Lit major at heart. Politics was fun, and stimulating, and, well, practical. But I reveled in the literature course work. Who wouldn’t – homework consisted of reading. Poetry, the classics – my battered, dog-earned, written upon Norton’s Anthology of English Literature was my most prized possession. It still is.

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On the death of a bird


Last night, a small bird came to our back deck to die.

We went out to grill, and there it was - old, and clearly in its final moments. We brought it some water, which was refused. I said a prayer, and told it not to fight too hard, and we left it to its course, checking occasionally to see if the time had come. It was not a gentle, nor quick death. The birds sang in the yard, a song of silence, and I was compelled to find something to mark this lone being's solitary and inevitable passage. 

This is what I found, and was somewhat comforted. 


Death of the Bird

 by Alec Derwent Hope


For every bird there is this last migration;

Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;

With a warm passage to the summer station

Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.


Year after year a speck on the map, divided

By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come;

Season after season, sure and safely guided,

Going away she is also coming home.


And being home, memory becomes a passion

With which she feeds her brood and straws her nest,

Aware of ghosts that haunt the heart's possession

And exiled love mourning within the breast.


The sands are green with a mirage of valleys;

The palm tree casts a shadow not its own;

Down the long architrave of temple or palace

Blows a cool air from moorland scarps of stone.


And day by day the whisper of love grows stronger;

That delicate voice, more urgent with despair,

Custom and fear constraining her no longer,

Drives her at last on the waste leagues of air.


A vanishing speck in those inane dominions,

Single and frail, uncertain of her place,

Alone in the bright host of her companions,

Lost in the blue unfriendliness of space.


She feels it close now, the appointed season;

The invisible thread is broken as she flies;

Suddenly, without warning, without reason,

The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.


Try as she will, the trackless world delivers

No way, the wilderness of light no sign;

Immense,complex contours of hills and rivers

Mock her small wisdom with their vast design.


The darkness rises from the eastern valleys,

And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,

And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,

Receives the tiny burden of her death.


A burden, and a gift.


The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly Celebrates National Poetry Month

Happy Friday the 13th!

My friend Gerald So runs an amazing poetry site that features original and unique works by many artists - with the lovely added touch of an audio recording of the week's poem. I highly recommend the site. Gerald has asked a few of us to pick our favorite poem from the 5-2, and share it with you.

Since I am so drawn to works about stalkers, this evocative poem by Nyla Alisia completely caught my eye. Look at how the words mingle love and lust. Look at the masterful presentation of the question: Is this wrong? Or is it right? Love allows for all sorts of peccadilloes. If this is a lover, these unknown caresses may be welcome.

But... if this is a stranger, consider the violation, the fear, the very hair-raising quality of these innocuous words, words often used in a very specific context: closer, touching, kiss. It shoots ice water into your veins, doesn't it? It is masterful use of confusion. You cringe, you want more. You fear for the subject's life, you wonder if she allows this behavior.

Good poetry creates questions, as well as guidance. It pulls your emotions every which way. With so many things to consider here, I'll leave you with a simple declarative statement. I love it!


Dark glasses at night,
disguise the unblinking white,
hide well my lover's stare,
that follows you, everywhere.
Your lips move beyond my hearing,
but not for long,
I know it's me you're simply daring,
to just come ...closer,
like when I bend over,
while watching you sleeping.
Some call it peeping,
but what do they know of this?
Over and over,
breath sucked in from an almost kiss,
held inside me
as I stand in the shadows
like this,
and this,
and this.
All night,
till early hours turn late,
the second hand races around the clock
as I wait,
watching till just moments before;
silver handled scissors snip
another lock of your hair,
another night's souvenir.
Then, out the window,
as your alarm clock rings,
I disappear
with only seconds to spare.

NYLA ALISIA is an award-winning poet, performance poetry artist and talk-radio personality. Her poem The Secret Of Me is nominated for the 2011 Pushcart Prize. Nyla is the founder and host of three international poetry radio programs, The SpeakEasy Cafe open-mic poetry radio show, Re-verse and The Inkwell. She teaches Writer's-Block Is Just An Urban Legend and Stop Pissing Off Your Muse, workshops for writers.


The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly is edited by Gerald So. A member of the Academy of American Poets, his poems have appeared in Nerve Cowboy, Barbaric Yawp, Defenestration, Cherry Bleeds, Yellow Mama, Gutter Eloquence Magazine and other provocatively-named venues. He has served as Short Mystery Fiction Society president (2008-'10) and Thrilling Detective fiction editor (2001-'09). After learning how to preserve The Lineup's poetry in ebook form, he published an ebook of his own poetry, We Might Have.

Happy Birthday, Yeats

In honor of Yeat's birthday today, I thought I'd share a favorite poem, one that was instrumental in pulling together the plot of ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS.

I remember reading this as a young girl and loving it, though I couldn't comprehend its meaning at the time. I still love it - the powerful imagery, the horror, the seductive voice... I happened across the sculpture in Rome, at an exhibit on Eros at the Coliseum. Seeing it live was a true highlight of that trip, especially since I had just finished writing ATPG and I'd used the poem as a clue.

Stunning, powerful, evocative - that's my Yeats.


A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?