Saturday, February 28, 2015


Soon after I posted this, I decided to revert it to a draft. There's something about it that I don't like.

 Perhaps it's because I have two entirely unrelated subjects in juxtaposition. Perhaps it's because I'm getting extremely tired of writing about the snow. Perhaps because the old poem that I resurrected is lousy and was rendered even worse with revision - -  and the ancient family history is nobody's business.

At any rate, I'm posting it again against my better judgement. And then I'll move on.

"When I move to Tennessee my adventures will be over. I won't have anything to blog about."

That statement, which I made last October, has come back to bite me in the ass. I've only been here a couple of months and the adventures never end. Eventually they will kill me. 
Texas put the nails in my coffin. 
Tennessee has a burial plot waiting with my name on it.

Actually, things are improving. It got all the way up to 15 degrees last night. Even more exciting - - dramatic drum roll here - - the temperature soared to 35 degrees today and the sun appeared! I broke out into a cold sweat. Had to pinch myself. Thought I died and went to heaven.
Me? In heaven?? No way......

The photo above is not my burial plot. It's a statement of triumph that I made today - in honor of having survived this latest blizzard.

Of course, I'm still in a helluva lot of pain from falling on the ice and I'm still snowed in and I'm still without water due to a broken pipe. But - hey! It could be worse. 

All right - enough of this Pollyanna crap. Since "Pessimism" is my middle name, I'll let you know how I really feel. I shoulda moved to the Sahara!!

Jon, control yourself! There are respectable people out there.

I keep hearing that this brutal Tennessee weather is extremely unusual. "Worst winter we had in 200 years."
Yea, right.

Native Californians tell the newcomers:
"Wow, this 9.3 earthquake is so rare! We've never had one like it before."

The Ozark hillbillies told me:
"Wow, this F-6 tornado is so rare! We've never had one like it before."

And so it goes.....

This afternoon
blue skies

The title of this post, Spring Thaw, has a duel purpose. 

I am yearning for a spring thaw, of course. But last night, while in the process of editing a new version of my poetry book, I found this poem entitled Spring Thaw that I wrote when I was in my early 20's. It was published in a literary magazine and then quickly forgotten.

I had never explained why I wrote it, and never wanted it published again. After finding it last night, I've decided to include it in my new book along with a dedication. It's certainly not a good poem but it's interesting for a personal reason.

Spring Thaw
(In memory of my Great Grandmother Sophia Horvath)

In April 
they dragged the river
for her body
waiting patiently under the ice
for months.

She yielded reluctantly,
still obstinate
after all these years.

On the muddy banks
of the Raritan
yellow wildflowers
nodded rumors,
raising their heads to see.

I never knew her.
I only know the stories
told in sporadic whispers:
that she was beautiful
had several husbands
many lovers
and never smiled.

The lonely turbulence
of her shadowed existence
finally unraveled
like a carelessly abandoned
mourning shroud.

When she finally emerged
from the tomb of thinning ice
some say
her lips bore traces
of an intended smile.

She was my maternal great-grandmother, my grandfather's mother. I never saw her. There are no existing photos of her.

When my mother was a little girl she saw her once. Only once. My Mom remembered her as being quiet and cold - -  tall, slender, very well dressed, and extremely beautiful.
It is said that she resembled my mother. 

Everything about my great-grandmother was mysterious. She was possibly murdered but most likely committed suicide. My grandfather's surname was Knoll. Horvath was probably the surname of one of her husbands - or perhaps her maiden name.

I had never thought about her much, but now the great mystery of her haunts me.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


When we last visited Jon, the newly initiated Tennessee mountain man, he was wallowing in abject misery - - being held hostage in his shack - - oops, we mean mountain retreat - -by a series of endless blizzards, being in agonizing pain due to a stupid -- oops, we mean unfortunate - - - - nasty fall on the ice, and being completely without water due to a busted bursted or broken pipe.

In a valiant attempt to temporarily expunge the harsh, grim reality of his dire situation, he wrote a scathing review - - oops, we mean lengthy assessment - - of the recent Academy Awards, followed by a self indulgent - - oops, we mean extremely interesting - - account of his early days in Hollywood.

If you haven't read it, you should. It will enhance your life with almost unbearable enchantment (previous post)

As we return to Jon and his miserable plight, he is still snowed in and experiencing new, previously unknown, levels of wretchedness:

Pine tree in my back yard
(photo taken this morning)

Well, if I survived that introduction, I can survive anything. No, I haven't lost my mind (or what's left of it). I'm just using cheap ploys in order to pique your interest. 

The good news is that I'm still alive (more or less). The bad news is that I'm still in an enormous amount of pain from my fall on the ice, I'm still snowed in with no way to get out, and I'm still without water due to a broken pipe (after an entire week).

I was surviving on a few cans of Pepsi and a case of beer. I eventually ran out of Pepsi (I still have most of the beer) and had to eat snow for moisture. I didn't have any liquids at all for three days.

The phone lines were down, all the roads were impassable, and the power was out everywhere. Fortunately, the power here in the mountains was restored much more quickly than the power in town (imagine that!).

With no water, I've been forced to use a makeshift outhouse in the woods. Last night I was compelled to go out there at 3:00 am and a roving band of coyotes came by and howled. Scared the shit out of me. No pun intended, of course.

About two days ago (or three - I can't remember) my cousin and some others were able to get out of their driveways. They brought plenty of water and other supplies and literally saved my sorry ass. Due to the snow and ice, the supplies literally had to be dragged by hand up to my house. I now have enough things in order to survive until the predicted thaw next week. And, believe me, I'm eternally greatful. My cousin is a saint.

Trying to get a plumber here to fix the pipes is an impossibility. One promised he'd come (a week ago) but never showed up. Another one never answers his phone. And the others ignore my messages. I'll eventually have to fix it myself, but I'm presently in too much pain to be crawling around under a house.

Despite the pain, however, I did manage to grab a shovel and knock a lot of the ice and snow off the roof today. And I fed the birds and the muskrat. The muskrat resides under my back porch. I didn't encourage this, but now that he's here I can't turn him out.

I'm keeping occupied by blogging (as if you didn't guess) and editing two books - which hopefully will be on Amazon soon. 

After I post this I'm going to make dinner and watch the silent 1921 version of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (it's on YouTube, with the great Carl Davis musical score).

It's late afternoon as I'm writing this. The sun has finally appeared. 

Do we dare assume that this is a ray of hope?
Tune in next time, for another exciting episode of
Jon - Tennessee Mountain Man.

My front porch this morning.
I'm in no mood to swing.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


My recent blog posts have been ladened with dreary accounts of Tennessee snowstorms and dangerous ice. As a change of pace, I'm turning my attention to Hollywood. Glitz.. The Oscars. And the time I crashed the Oscars when I was eighteen.
Readers of my previous blog Lone Star Concerto have heard the story before. This is for those who didn't.

The 87th Academy Award extravaganza was held last Sunday and my interest was minimal. When I was young and lived in Hollywood I was obsessed with the Oscars and knew every minute detail of the entire procedure. I loved Hollywood and was completely caught up in the stardust.

Those days now seem like a different era on a different planet. Here in a modest shack on a frozen Tennessee mountain, I'm about as far away from Tinseltown glitz as I could possibly get. I miss my turbulent, exciting youth. I miss Southern California. But I've moved on. 

Every year, the entire concept of the Oscars seems more and more trite and irrelevant. Despite all the media hype, the true golden era of Hollywood is long gone - and glamour, as it once was, is nearly dead and buried.

Old Hollywood, of course, was tainted and only had a grand illusion - but the illusion was created with style and panache. Most of the glamour was genuine. Most of the stars had at least some degree of talent and class.

Nowadays, trash and crass have replaced class. The Academy Award ceremony has diminished into nothing more than a political format and an opportunity for drug-glazed gaudily-attired Hollywood Bigwigs to thumb their noses at us and symbolically pat each other on the ass. 

Today the term star is used much too loosely. Everybody is a star. Motion pictures come and go so quickly that they leave little impact. It seems like movies are released in theaters on Monday and become available on DVD by Friday. Soon they're completely forgotten.
Who the heck can remember last year's Oscar winners?

 Jon - you're living in the past. You're getting old and cynical. Glamour isn't dead. Hollywood is still alive.

Wrong, Kemo Sabe. Hollywood is on a respirator, waiting for somebody to pull the plug. The golden past will never be resuscitated.

So, what's my take on last Sunday's Oscars?
I'm in a rotten mood, so this is going to be vicious.

First of all, who the hell designed the sets? Looked like an explosion of leftover Christmas decorations from the K Mart "reduced item" bin. 

Doogie Howser as host????

I always wondered who could be worse than Ellen Degenerate. Oops, I mean DeGeneres. Well, they found him. Neil Patrick Harris is a mediocre actor (at best), can't sing, and isn't funny. As the host of a major award show he didn't hold my interest for thirty seconds. Not even when he appeared in his Fruit of the Looms. What the heck did he stuff in his crotch? A pair of socks??
His body looks fake - - like he had lypo suction, or some of his ribs removed.

Well, I'll give him one thing - - I envy his flat stomach.

more of Doogie
than we really wanted to know

The mentality of the Academy Bigwigs is this:
Let's use an openly gay person as the host. It'll be politically correct and Hollywood will blow a fairydust fart in the face of the unsuspecting public.

What's the matter, Jon? Are you some kind of homophobe?

Hey,bucko, call me that again and I'll slap you silly with my hanky. Then I'll deck you with my signed copy of Tales of the City.

If I ever revealed the kind of debauchery in which I indulged when I lived in Hollywood it would make Oscar Wilde faint - - and it would make Doogie Howser and his husband look like rank amatures.

Of course, the Hollywood libs never fail to use a public moment as an opportunity to force-feed us their personal agendas.

Patricia Arquette bitching about the fact that women are underpaid. 
"I paid more money to my dog walker than I got for Boyhood," she complained.

Here's a flash, sweetheart: most of us plebeians can't afford a dog walker.

Sean Penn, putting his foot in his mouth......but we're used to that....

And John Travolta - nuzzling up to Idina Menzel in a feeble attempt to pretend he's not gay. 

Three hours into the agonizing Oscar Ordeal, Lady Gaga appears out of nowhere, waving her tattooed arms, and bursts into a medley tribute to The Sound of Music. She's no Julie Andrews, but she saved the night nevertheless. She does have talent and.....well, class.


So, what's all this about your affair with Oscar, Jon?

 My first encounter with Oscar night is my favorite, because I managed to really get up-close and personal. That was way back when the Academy Awards used to be held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the L.A.Music Center.

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, L.A. Music Center

I was eighteen-years-old and a helluva lot more brash and adventurous than I am now. To shorten a very lengthy story, I managed to sneak into the Music Center (I was very familiar with it) on Oscar night and watch part of the show. 

How did you sneak in, Jon?

I was familiar with every aspect of the Music Center. And I was fast. I used a side door that was a musician's entrance. Security was lax and I had no trouble at all. I sat way in the back and only stayed for about fifteen minutes. I'm sure I could have stayed longer but I was fearful of being caught and tossed out on my ass.

Later that night I befriended the chauffeur of actress Helen Hayes and watched the rest of the Award show on a small TV in her limousine. Afterwards I met numerous stars, including Sammy Davis jr., George Hamilton and his then-wife Alana. Sammy Davis was extremely nice. Hamilton was somewhat of a snob.

This was an extremely abbreviated account of a long and memorable night.

Several years later, when I was more established in Hollywood and knew some quasi big-shots, I attended a private post-Academy Award party at a posh mansion (very near where Burt Reynolds lived). Courtesy of too many drinks and drugs, I wound up having sex with someone under a grand piano in the library! Not one of my proudest moments, but reckless fun nevertheless. Kinda like an Academy Award bonus.....

I have numerous other personal stories about Oscar night, but I'll spare you. At least for now.

A rare (and pretty bad)  photo of me
when I first went to Hollywood.
I was twenty years old and should have
been shot for wearing that shirt (and Billy Jack hat).

I had "crashed" the Oscars a few years earlier
when I was eighteen.

Monday, February 23, 2015


I had planned on posting some of my personal Hollywood stories this week in honor of the Academy Awards (like the time I single-handedly crashed the Oscars when I was eighteen).

Instead, I'm delivering boring updates about blizzards, disasters on ice, and raw survival in the Tennessee wilderness. Nobody wants to hear about pain and misery. Nobody wants to get too close to my foul mood. It could be contagious.

So, are you feeling any better today, Jon?

Let me put it this way:
It took me half an hour to crawl out of bed and another twenty minutes to inspire my legs to take steps. I looked like I was playing Clara in an amature production of Heidi.

I thought I was doing better, but I still ache all over and get agonizing jolts of pain in my back, spine, and legs every time I move - -which is quite often.

Is the weather improving?

Definitely. Instead of heavy snow, hurricane-force winds, and temps of minus 15, we're now blessed with light snow, occasional arctic gusts, and temps above zero.
I'd call it progress.

I still have broken pipes (well, not me, exactly) but no plumber in his right mind could venture out here without a sled, a team of huskies, and an Inuit guide. 

I have food, but I ran out of water yesterday. The only liquids I have left are two cans of Pepsi, a little ginger ale, and a case of beer.
And the tears I've been shedding at the prospect of perishing here.

I've been filling pans with snow and heating them for water. I've been mixing half milk and half snow to make coffee. It's not half bad.

Yesterday morning I was out gathering snow and almost slipped again. I did a reasonable facsimile of a Hamill Camel and managed to slide in the back door.

A glimpse of my front yard:
somewhere under the ice
is a way out

My driveway is solid ice, so there's no way I would attempt to venture into town. Well, actually, it's not a driveway. It's a long unpaved trail of gravel and mud that even scares the shit of me on sunny mild days.

Well Jon, you moved to Tennessee so you could experience new adventures in the wilderness.

Yea, right. But I had visions of Bambi, Old Yeller, and the von Trapp family singing Edelweiss. I wasn't expecting the Donner Party.

On the bright side - I looked with a magnifying glass and found one - the electric power here in the mountains was restored in one day. The power at my cousin's house (who lives much closer to town) wasn't restored until a few hours ago. Her cell phone is resuscitated and we spoke earlier today. But her driveway is blocked with fallen trees and ice.

One way or another, I'm going to be forced to drive into town soon. I'm running low on supplies and can't wait until the August thaw.
I also have to petition a plumber with a personal plea (or bribe) to come to my house and fix the pipes. I figure tears might work - - if I have any left by then.......

The title of this post is misleading, but it's all I could come up with. My creativity is frozen.......

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I hate updates, but thought I'd write another one just to confirm that I still have a pulse. Weak, but discernible, nevertheless....It's just after midnight, officially Sunday.

First off I want to thank everyone for being so kind, wishing me well, and sending warm thoughts via your comments. Your warmth is truly melting the snow. Heartfelt thanks!

I've always depended on the kindness of strangers.
(delivered with my best Blanche DuBois southern accent)

Words can hardly describe the sensation of colliding with solid ice. I had hurried outside to turn off the water before further flood damage occurred. The water meter is far enough away to induce fatigue and breathlessness. I had just reached it when both feet flew out from under me and I was literally body-slammed into the ice. Right on my back.

 My breath was knocked out. All I initially remember seeing is stars - - and my cowboy hat launched into orbit. I was so stunned and in so much pain that I just laid there. It was ten degrees. I knew that if I dallied for too long I'd freeze to death. I thought of scrawling Help! Dial 911 in the snow - but who was gonna see it? A moose?

I swear this is the gospel truth - I crawled on my hands and knees back to the house, and it was uphill all the way. And all I kept thinking was Wow,cowboy boots don't have any traction. 

I'm walking again, but it's more like a very painful hobble. Every part of my body is bruised and battered from the ice fall. Every movement is excruciating. Coughed up solid blood yesterday morning. My fingers are cracked and bleeding from the cold.

Tonight I crawled outside (crawled, I'm not kidding) with some pans to gather snow. I'm boiling it for water. I scared a 'possum that was on my back porch.

Crawling sounds pathetic, but at least I'm one up on the Donner Party - - I haven't resorted to eating anyone yet. Yet.
The three cats will be the first ones on my menu......

The power went off several more times, but now that it's back on I put some dinner in the oven (not the cats.....I had some food in the freezer).

Yesterday morning I was talking on the phone with my cousin and she gave me the numbers for the Red Cross and other emergency services. Ironically, five minutes later the big trees started toppling in her yard and knocked out her landline phone service. Her cell phone is also dead, so we are presently out of contact.
Ten miles away from each other.

At least it's not below zero tonight. And at least I have heat. Now, if only I had water......

My laptop is presently my most prized possession. It's my only contact with the outside world. You can hardly get any radio stations up here. A few Bible thumping Baptist stations accompanied by static........and a classical music station from the University of Kentucky. All the stations are from Kentucky, because I live so close to the border.

I wish I could shave and wash my hair. And bathe and wash my clothes. I'm looking extremely scary. A combination of Jedediah Smith and Big Foot.

I remember a time when I was sipping Dom Perignon with friends in Beverly Hills.

Now I'm crawling over Tennessee ice on hands and knees, gathering snow in pans for water.
Life is one wicked son-of-a-bitch, isn't it? The Gods of Fate are laughing their asses off.

The power is still on and my belated dinner is ready. Adieu, mes amis.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


This isn't going to be one my "regular" blog posts, because I'm in no mood to be charming or witty. It's only an update.
Read my previous post. I'm charming and witty.

I'm presently being bombarded with so much bad luck that I've turned rabid and dangerous. Don't get too close.

The temperature dropped to minus 11 last night. I stayed up until 8:00 am to make sure the pipes didn't burst. As soon as I let my guard down and took a nap - a pipe burst (or bursted???). Major flood. No insurance.

When I went outside to shut off the main water valve (about fifty miles away.......)
I slipped on the ice and REALLY hurt my back  (and neck and right leg and wrists and knee) - - this is on top of the ice injury I got the other night. I presently can't walk and am in severe pain.

Ironically, my Blogger friend Ron in Delaware slipped on the ice the other night and sustained a serious knee injury

A horrendous ice storm and very high wind last night Power was out for 24 hrs. (just restored a few minutes ago) A plumber was supposed to come this afternoon but he never showed. I'm without water and have little food.

Our county is declared a disaster area. Red Cross showed up, along with emergency workers from other counties. Most telephone lines are down. 
Three big trees fell in my cousin Nancy's yard.

I'll blog about all of this in detail with my usual humor in a few days. If I survive that long.

Tonight, however, I am feeling utterly humorless. And I'm in pain!!!!!!!!!!
With no water to make tea or coffee, I've been drinking beer.

Some day I'll look back on this and laugh.
But I sure as hell ain't laughing now

The power keeps going on and off.
I'll post this while I can.

I have no intention of going to a doctor. They'd take a thousand xrays, prescribe a dozen pain medications, and tell me to come back in a week. I've taken that route before.....and it's absolute bullshit.....

If I die, they can bury me in the back yard. There's plenty of room.

If I survive, I'll wait until the snow thaws (probably in August) and then head to a temperate climate - - like Tahiti.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


My front yard property on Monday,
after the first snowfall

I felt really rotten this morning.

How rotten did you feel, Jon?

I felt like Ethan Frome after his last sleigh ride with Mattie. A free-fall with a crash.

Wow. Elaborate.

My day was off to a bad start even before I got out of bed. My eleven-month-old kitty Scruffy always wakes me up. She climbs up on the bed headboard and jumps on me. Today, she climbed up on the headboard and......sneezed on me. Right in the face. A liberal shower of feline germs.

I'm talking abundant liberal. Not politics liberal.

I grabbed my cell phone and snapped this photo just before she sneezed. It's not upside down. That's exactly how she looked from my vantage point.

Get a kitten, they said.
It'll be fun, they said.

Yesterday, I somehow threw my back out of whack. As I was crawling out of bed this morning the spasms were so bad that I fell flat on the floor. 

To compound matters, I've been having severe - and I mean severe - pain in my toes.
Yes, you heard it correctly. Toes. All ten of them.

Heck, the last time I ever had pain in my toes, it was because somebody had been biting them. No need to panic, it happened long ago when I was young and soused.
This time, to my knowledge, no teeth were involved. 

I was in such agonizing pain from my back and toes that I couldn't get up off the floor. As I was crawling towards the bedroom door - wondering how I was going to wash my face - Scruffy suddenly decided to play. She grabbed one of my bare feet and dug ALL of her sharp claws into it - relentlessly hanging on as I crawled. My screams of agony echoed through the mountains......and it's rumored that they were heard in Nashville.

After I recovered enough to resume thinking, I realized that my toes hurt because I had been wearing two pairs of tight socks to keep my feet warm.
The socks must have completely cut off the circulation. Fortunately my toes didn't turn black and drop off.

So how are you doing now, Jon?

I'm still limping, but I'm wearing looser socks.

You're weird, Jon.

Weird, but immensely entertaining.

My yard on Monday during the first snowfall
as seen from my back porch

The cold weather is the Big News (capitalized for emphasis). I'm a Tennessee virgin. I honestly hadn't expected the winters here to be so harsh.

Let's see. It snowed on Monday, I think. And Tuesday, I think. And this morning for sure. Eight inch accumulation.The high temperature today was a brisk 16.

Tonight (it's only 8:00 p.m. as I'm writing this) the temperature is supposed to plummet to minus 15. I said minus. That's cold enough to kill a penguin. Or Al Gore. Aw, settle down. I couldn't resist.

Hey, I'm writing this humorous stuff while I'm in an incredibly bad mood. Could you imagine how funny I'd be if I actually felt good?

View from my office window
(one of the spare bedrooms)

This frigid weather is definitely impeding all my activities. I'm not complaining. I've lived through winters far worse than this. I'm just stating a fact. I can't unpack any of the things in the garage. It's so cold out there that I can only tolerate it for a minute. Or less.

Late last night I ran out of kitty litter. Not for me. For the cats. Fortunately I had another big bag, but I'd left it out in the car. And I had to force myself to go out and get it.

The eight inches of snow had turned into solid ice. My entire property is on a steep mountainside. I immediately slipped on the ice and slid all the way down to my car. In retrospect, that's probably how I hurt my back.

If the car wasn't there to break my slide, I would have undoubtedly ended up in Kentucky. The door on my car was frozen shut and I literally had to pry it open, using my fingernails to crack the ice. By then my fingers, toes, and family jewels were completely numb. I honestly couldn't feel my balls for several hours.

Don't try to visualize this. It will corrupt you.

Carrying a 50 lb. bag of kitty litter back up to the house while walking on ice wasn't easy.
I only had two thoughts:

1. God, please don't let me fall again.

2. Those damn cats shit more than I do!

Bosco and Scruffy
looking at the snow from kitchen window

Ever since I started this new blog Lone Wolf Concerto I've noticed that readership is sparse and seems to be dwindling rapidly. Many (but not all) of my faithful friends who used to read Lone Star Concerto have vanished.

 I've thought about abandoning this blog, but I'm addicted to it. I enjoy distributing my thoughts for public consumption - whether the public is there or not. Most of all I enjoy entertaining myself.

Rose from Canada (Life After Fifty) told me that she's been having an enormous amount of trouble leaving comments on my blog. I haven't had any other complaints about this. I checked the settings and they seem to be okay.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Madwoman by the Sea
painting by
Comite Pierre Puvis de Chavannes

Writing and publishing poetry will get you absolutely nowhere, unless you're a Big Name with a Huge Following. I'm a little name with a minuscule following but poetry was one of my (many) passions in my early years.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I read just about every poetry book I could find. Having already been a journalist by the time I was sixteen, I was fairly familiar with the rudiments of writing. For some unearthly reason, I thought that being a poet was a lofty endeavor. To actually be a published poet was one of my main obsessions (in retrospect, heaven knows why).

It didn't take long before I achieved my goal. When I was nineteen, a small collection of my poetry was published in a Los Angeles literary magazine - the name of which I can't even remember (I honestly can't, but I still have a copy of it somewhere).

To abbreviate a tedious story, within a decade I had over 100 poems published in an impressive variety of literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. I received numerous awards for my poetry and recognition that I never thought I deserved.

When I was only twenty, some of my poetry was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize (which had been awarded to such noted poets as Joyce Carol Oates). I didn't win, of course, but it was one helluva honor just to be nominated.

My poetic romanticism eventually dwindled, to the point that I now seldom bother to write a poem (let alone read one). There's absolutely no financial gain in writing poetry - - only spiritual satisfaction. Spiritual satisfaction is wonderful, but it doesn't pay the bills.

Writing poetry is a deeply personal endeavor and one should do it solely for personal enrichment and fulfillment. I find it to be an extremely effective emotional catharsis - as are all forms of writing (or so they should be).

I compiled many of my early poems into a book, which was published five years ago. Love Letters to Ghosts is, probably more than anything, a lament (and a sort of homage) to my romantic and turbulent past. It's largely what I would call an autumnal work -- dark, brooding, and often depressing. It reflects my inherent nature -  - but it's certainly not to everyone's taste.

Upon recently rereading the poems, I feel that a revised second edition is definitely in order. I'm in the process of doing this now - - mostly as a feeble attempt to fulfill my lifelong strive for unattainable perfection. And the fact that I'm presently snowed in.

Who were some of the poets that inspired you, Jon?

I'm glad you asked. Since I lived in L.A. when I began writing poetry, I was initially attracted to California poets - - especially Philip Levine, Gary Soto, David St. John. I also liked John Ratti, Louise Gluck, Lucille Clifton. I loved Carl Sandburg. And when I was drunk and in the mood to go slumming, I savored Allen Ginsberg and other residents of the "Beat" neighborhood. 

My favorite poet and greatest influence was Thomas James (1946-74) whose fiercely somber and introspective poetry collection Letters to a Stranger touched me deeply. I strongly identified with his troubled psyche. I was devastated, but not surprised, when I learned that he committed suicide at age twenty-seven. Had he lived, he would have been an extraordinary poet.

Thomas James influenced me. Sylvia Plath influenced Thomas James. Go figure.......

Most of your poetry is in prose, Jon. Don't poems have to rhyme? 

I've written many poems with rhythmic structure. It's wonderfully challenging, but I find it to be too creatively restrictive.

Isn't it rather - uh, effeminate to be a poet?

Hey, writing a decent poem will put hair on your chest and increase your testosterone level. I speak from experience. And I know some female poets who have balls.
(where the hell are these questions coming from?).

In conclusion (and not a moment too soon)
I believe that poetry shouldn't be over-analyzed. Extract what you want from it and savor the words. Savor the images that they inspire

Keeping in concert with my present Poetry Mode, I'm posting one of my early poems, which is included in Love Letters to Ghosts. 

Mad Woman on the Beach was inspired by a composition by French composer Charles-Valentin Alkan, entitled la chanson de la folle au bord de la mer (Song of the Mad Woman by the Sea).

Mad Woman on the Beach

One of these cold winter nights
she followed the sand
back to where secret lovers
once lingered while watching
a last slice of sinking moon

but the moon and the lovers
were gone, leaving no trace
of their deception. Sightless fog
slipping in from the sea
weaved a pasty net around her.
the bite of broken shells
punished her trek.

Names long forgotten
stuttered under her breath,
faltered on her tongue,
stuck with the salt on her lips
like the dried-out memory
of an ancient kiss.

In shivers of jealous rage
the cold air thickened
and held her tightly,
fearing that she might find the moon
snatch it up
and keep it hidden within herself
from the lies of future lovers.

She struggled against the cold 
anchor of fog,
the dreadful hiss of the waves,
and laughed out loud -

grasping fistfuls of obstinate night,
climbing towards
what might have been sky.

Jon V.
from Love Letters to Ghosts

Yesterday on my previous blog post, someone (name unknown) left a nice comment that somehow wound up in my comment moderation file.
 When I pressed the "publish" icon the comment suddenly disappeared and I haven't been able to retrieve it. Whoever you are, I apologize for this. You weren't deleted deliberately.