Thursday, December 5, 2013


the end that we fear
is coming
on cold breath and silent feet
don't listen
the whisper of foretelling
cannot be heard
no ear attuned
to the sound of finality exists
don't look
for it is invisible
just somewhere
at once
don't touch it
it can't be felt
but inside
where the knowing grows
an uneasy peculiarity
is hiding in the shadows
waiting for the moment
we forget

Monday, August 12, 2013

What Kind of Writer Are You?

I have asked myself this question many times, taken online quizzes and submitted samples for analysis and at the end of it all I’ve determined that I don’t one hundred percent know what kind of writer I am.  I should know.  Shouldn’t I?   I know what I like to write.  I like to write poetry when I’m particularly stressed or emotional.  I write quickly without any rules and let the words arrive of their own volition.  There was a time when I wrote a poem every night before bed.  I wrote them all at once, without stopping to edit or revise or allow myself time to think about it much.  And I found this kind of writing gave me a tremendous sense of release.  Other times I write in vignettes painting a picture with broad gestures and very little shading. These stories usually arrive as a whole at inopportune moments and I find myself scrambling for some paper and a pencil and write until the story is done or my brain kicks in and puts an end to it.  Sometimes I write historical fiction.  I like the narrative, the flowery prose, the use of language.  And I like to write for children.  
If you asked me what kind of a book I would most like to publish, the genre I would most like to be known for, I would have to say that I would like to be known as a children’s author.  I’d be over the moon to be able to tell a story like Kate DiCamillo does or Roald Dahl or Brian Selznick or J.K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman.  I love the imagination behind children’s fiction.   I love the idea that parents are flawed, that animals talk and that little boys can live in clock towers or become wizards or be raised in graveyards.  It is a magical genre and I want to be a magician.  
Writing for children satisfies the part of me that is unwilling to grow up.  Or is it unable?  When I sit down to work on a children’s story I feel a certain sense of melancholy.  It’s painful.  I think it’s fear.  I’m afraid that I want it so badly that I’ll never get it.  I feel like I’m 12 years old with my eye on a new bike and only 3 dollars in my piggy bank.  I want the bike, I’m working for the bike, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll ever get the bike.  The thing is that if I don’t do the work I remove the possibility.
Possibilities are what children’s books are all about. 
Today I watched Neil Gaiman’s 2012 commencement speech ‘Make Good Art’.  He talked about worry and how it kept him from enjoying the journey some of the time.  It’s keeping me from enjoying the journey as well.  Not that I’m in the same stratosphere as Mr. Gaiman as a writer but he is also a human who worries sometimes.
I’ve decided that I am a multi-faceted writer just as I am a multi-faceted person.  I don’t have to pick one.  I just have to make good art. 

Friday, May 17, 2013


a single bloom
red upon stone
afraid to pluck it
in case there are no more
it withers where it grows
instead of spreading seeds
just a momentary thrill
amidst the cracks
out of place
and ill suited
dried up and then forgotten


Unable to bridge the gap
between longing and outcome
I lie transfixed
by the ceiling and the way the gray light
leaves smudges in the corners.
Wanting isn't enough
to pull the curtains
let the light in
face the day.
It's not enough
to get out of my own way.
And so the wanting sits
like a parasite to my host
feeding from within
and laying waste to desire
leaving only the burning.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A new take on Maudlin Manor

Once upon a time ago
There lived a pair of twins
 Rotten little apples
Stuck their dolls with pins
They looked like little angels
Wrapped in silk and pearls
But they were rotten little devils
Masquerading as little girls
They lived in the house called Maudlin
A family name I suppose
But suited to the children
So very lachrymose
They have a nasty habit
Of staring straight ahead
They may have been alive once
But now they’re very dead
They haunt the Maudlin Manor
Walk the creaky floors
Open up the windows
Slam the wooden doors
Take things that they shouldn’t
And hide them where they can
Walk from room to room
Always holding hands

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Story of Maudlin Manor Pt. 1 - 3

Once on a night of cold regret
As I walked a country road
I met a man who offered a ride
Said that it was warmer inside
Said to get in out of the wet
He’d take me as far as I wanted to go

I looked at the man and took his measure
And he seemed a decent chap
The rain beat down in quick succession
Led me to take his proffered suggestion
I shook his hand and called it a pleasure
And then removed my cap

We drove for a bit in the downpour
And the wipers went to and fro
The night grew deeper around us
The forest began to surround us
I said that I’d been there once before
And I knew where I wanted to go

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Peculiar Playground

a poem in the style of Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

A is for Alice who wanted to play
B is for Bonnie who sent her away
C is for Cathy who tried to fit in
D is for Doris unspeakably thin
E is for Eli who breaks out in zits
F is for Francis falling in fits
G is for Gary horribly fat
H is for Helen attracted to that
I is for Ina talks through her nose
J is for Jimmy with terrible toes
K is for Kristin caught in the act
L is for Larry who helped her with that
M is for Mary nose in a book
N is for Neville most likely a crook
O is for Owen whose hair is all wrong
P is for Polly whose arms are too long
Q is for Quentin thinks he’s a looker
R is for Ruthie a cult finally took her
S is for Susan too full of her self
T is for Thomas who thinks he’s an elf
U is for Uri constantly stutters
V is for Victor mind in the gutter
W is for Wendy who’s absent alot
X is for Xander who’s here when he’s not
Y is for Ying of foreign exchange
Z is for Zoe just slightly deranged

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Excerpt from The Flight of Sebastian Bean

The Flight of Sebastian Bean
A.D. McDowell
Stories like this one always begin in misery.
There was a time when Sebastian Bean had two parents, a beautiful mother and a handsome father.  They all lived together in a tall narrow house on a lovely tree lined street in a fashionable area of a quaint and historic city.  Sebastian had a bedroom of his own and in it he had a wall filled with bookshelves and on the shelves hundreds of books, so many that his father attached a ladder that slid on a rail so that Sebastian could reach the books at the top.    From the long window above his desk he could see all the way to the square in the centre of town where a marble fountain burbled and people fed the pigeons.  And very often in the evenings he would walk with his parents down to the ice cream shop where he ordered a chocolate peppermint cone that he ate with great enjoyment.  At night his mother would come in and kiss him goodnight and before he fell asleep Sebastian would say, ‘I am very lucky’.  And he was.  He was a very, very lucky boy and then all at once he wasn’t.
One Sunday morning Sebastian woke to the sun streaming through his window and the birds singing in the trees.  There was no reason for him to think that it wouldn’t be another lucky day in his very lucky life.  But when he sat up in bed and listened to the house he was filled with a feeling that he was not used to.   Something wasn’t right.  He got out of his bed and opened his door and peered into the hall.  What he saw was his father talking to Doctor  Little.  The doctor shook his head and put his hand on the other man's shoulder and patted it twice.  Sebastian stepped farther out into the hall.  ‘Father?’ he called and in the single word were a million questions.  “Go back to your room Sebastian,” said his father.  “I will be in shortly”.  Sebastian went back to his room and sat on his bed and the feeling that something was very wrong grew and grew until his father came in with the news that Sebastian's mother had contracted a terrible influenza and that he must pack a bag at once and go and stay with his grandmother, Nanny, so that he didn’t get infected as well.  Had Sebastian known how important what he put into his suitcase was going to be he would have packed more carefully.  But he was so worried about his mother he couldn’t think.  His father made him wear a mask across his nose so that he didn’t breathe in any of the germs that had made his mother sick and as he passed the door to their bedroom Sebastian called ‘Goodbye mumma.’  He didn’t know if she heard him and sadly he would never know for his mother died the next morning. 
Over the next while Sebastian was sadder than I have words to describe.  He missed his mother terribly and to make matters worse it seemed that his father had forgotten him.  Sebastian remained with his grandmother and only saw his father from time to time and each time his father seemed more of a stranger to Sebastian.  He spoke quietly and he never remembered to hug Sebastian and always left without taking him back home. His grandmother told him that his father was sad too and that he would come around and that time was a great healer.  The spring went by and turned to summer and then to autumn and finally to winter and spring again.  And then one day when Sebastian and his grandmother were working in her flower beds turning over the black dirt and getting them ready for planting a long black car snaked its way up the drive and parked in front of the house.  Sebastian stood and dusted his hands off on the back of his pants.  The door of the car opened and his father climbed from the car.  “Hello Sebastian!” he boomed in the voice he used to use.  “I’ve come to take you home!”  Sebastian was so surprised that he could not seem to move.  He wanted to run into his father’s arms with relief, but he couldn’t seem to do anything but stand in one spot with his mouth hanging open in surprise.  Nanny stepped forward and placed her hand on Sebastian’s back.  “Well,” she said, “isn’t this wonderful.”  But her voice didn’t sound excited, it sounded very much like Sebastian was feeling.  She was saying the words but still none of them moved.  Sebastian’s father stood there grinning and Sebastian stood in the same place and his grandmother stood behind him.  They may have stood this way for a good long time had the other door on the car not opened with a creak capturing their attention. 
“Arthur,” said a dark velvet voice.  “Will you help me out?”  Sebastian’s father hurried to the other side of the car and extended his hand.  A gloved hand appeared and wrapped itself around his father’s.  As Mr. Bean raised his hand a long thin woman was revealed.  She wore a tight fitting skirt and had an ostrich plume in her hat.  She had a long thin nose to match the rest of her and a wide red mouth.  “Sebastian,” said his father, “there is someone I’d like you to meet.  This is, well it’s your, I should say... my... wife...your stepmother.”  Suddenly the air in Nanny’s yard became very still.  Even the birds were shocked into silence.  “Hello Sebastian,” purred the thin woman.  “It is such a pleasure to meet you at last.  Arthur has told me so many things about you I feel as if I know you already.”  Her voice dripped all over Sebastian and she smiled.  He still had not moved a muscle although his mind had begun to race inside of him.  This person, this stepmother person was going to live with them.  Sleep in their house, in his mother’s bed, use her things, sit in her chair.  No it couldn’t be.  But as he watched his father’s face and saw him smiling at the thin woman he realized it was real.  Horribly, awfully real.  She smiled at Sebastian revealing a row of well manicured teeth and he was somewhat relieved to see that they weren’t pointed.  “I’m afraid it’s come as a shock to you,” the thin woman went on, “Arthur, shame on you.  I told you he should have been warned.”  At last Sebastian found his voice.  “It’s nice to meet you,” he managed.  Mr. Bean stepped closer to Sebastian and ruffled his hair.  “He’s alright aren’t you son?”  Sebastian was so surprised at being ruffled by his father that he, for a moment, forgot to be shocked at the situation that was presenting itself in Nanny’s garden.  It had been so long since Arthur Bean had shown his son any affection at all that Sebastian didn’t quite know how to respond.  Little boys aren’t so different than puppies really.  Even if you haven’t paid much attention to it a puppy will always forgive his owner at the first sign of kindness and that is exactly what Sebastian did.  In that split second he looked at his father and smiled and thought ‘maybe it will be alright’.  Poor Sebastian, he was so happy for a little affection he didn’t even hear the other car door open until a very fat and freckly kind of a voice said, “When is lunch, I’m hungry.”

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Beginnings and Excerpts

Dear reader, won’t you dwell with me within these lines upon the page.  Follow me down cobbled lanes and up the street where fevers rage.  Tiny thieves with clever hands play their games of chance and tricks.  Eyes made shrewd beyond their years, little liars, candlewicks.  Join their ranks or risk the outcome. Learn their ways or spill the blood.  There is no way to leave this burrough.  Unless the bleeders give you up.  Hasty choices led you to it.  Live this life of fine regret.  The die is cast the fate has twisted. Paid in full this pauper’s debt.


....and as I got closer the landscape began dying, trees lost their leaves and the air was frigid.  Suddenly the carriage drew to a halt. It heaved and tilted as the driver climbed down then pulled my bag from its strapping.  “This is as far as I go miss,” he said.  “Stay on the road straight through, it’s not much farther.”  I stepped out of the carriage and into the gathering fog. “Can you not take me the rest of the way?” I asked.  “You’ll not catch me in there,” he said climbing back up into his seat.  He looked down at me and a shadow crossed his features.  Then in a more kindly way he added, “It’s not too late to change your mind miss.  Climb back in.  I won’t charge you for the return.”  I paused without meaning to and then drew myself up and replied.  “You are very kind sir, but I’m sure I shall be fine.  Thank you very much.”  I stepped back from the lane and he tipped his hat and turned the horses.  As they left me I felt the overwhelming urge to run after them.
The branches overhead moved to a breeze that didn’t reach the ground.   It seemed they whispered to me as I began to walk towards what was to be my new home.