Sunday, December 13, 2020

New Kieran Shea at BEAT to a PULP

Kieran Shea is always a joy to publish because of his unique perspectives and professionalism. His latest  "The Way Of Our Now" is available to read at the BEAT to a PULP webzine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Western Fictioneers: Mrs. Sundance (1974)

Western Fictioneers: Mrs. Sundance (1974): Etta Place holds a fascination in American folklore for good reasons: she was the girlfriend of the Sundance Kid (Harry Longabaugh) and rode...

Sunday, December 6, 2020


Some good news around here that I could definitely use. My 14th poem, "Sandpiper," will be published by Live Nude Poems in the near future. Thanks to exceptional editors Rusty Barnes and Heather Sullivan for having me back. My last poem to appear on their site was "The Inconsiderate."

Wednesday, December 2, 2020


At one point this afternoon, the deaths from COVID were counting at 272,479. 

At one point this afternoon, my Aunt Pat died. 

The number, as I write this now in the evening, has jumped to 273,170

Deaths so far today, 2,528 

I'm devastated. I'm angry. 

I look to a favorite poet for solace, when Maya Angelou had said: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." 

Aunt Pat will be remembered for making others feel joy and warmth, to feel special and always welcome. She had a beauty inside and out that reflected onto those around her. One thing she once said has stuck with me for many, many years now, when a family visit came to end and we were parting ways for another extended period of time, she threw a hand back with flourish and dramatically, but gracefully, said, "Until we meet again." Yes, Aunt Pat, bless you, and 'Until we meet again.' Rest in peace.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Church at Auvers (1890) by Vincent van Gogh

The Church at Auvers, an 1890 oil painting by Vincent van Gogh. In a letter to his sister he revealed some of his creative process:

I have a larger picture of the village church — an effect in which the building appears to be violet-hued against a sky of simple deep blue colour, pure cobalt; the stained-glass windows appear as ultramarine blotches, the roof is violet and partly orange. In the foreground some green plants in bloom, and sand with the pink flow of sunshine in it. And once again it is nearly the same thing as the studies I did in Nuenen of the old tower and the cemetery, only it is probably that now the colour is more expressive, more sumptuous.

Trivia: And Doctor Who aficandoes are well aware what lurks behind those stained-glass windows.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Westerns, Poems, Hope

I'm doing a post for the Western Fictioneers blog on an old televison film about what happened to Ms. Etta Place, a Western enigma. That'll be coming up in a couple of weeks. Until then, I believe I haven't shared here the link to my last WF write up on Scott D. Parker's Empty Coffins novel. In the review, I also tease an upcoming project both Scott and I are working on (hint: Cash Laramie, Gideon Miles meet up with Calvin Carter).

Also, a couple poems of mine have been published at Punk Noir Magazine. These make a complete baker's dozen of my verse to be published over the last two years. Here are links to some of the others I'm partial to: 

Hugh Chaffin

The Long Return 

The Killing of Jamal Khashoggi 

The Inconsiderate 

Dead Burying the Dead

More importantly, thank you to all who've reached out to me about my Aunt Pat. She was recently taken off the ventilator and transferred to a rehab where they will try to wean her off the oxygen. She's not out of the woods yet but there's hope on the horizon.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

My Aunt Pat

Everyone still washing hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask? Yeah, me too. The reality of COVID-19 has struck close to my family, again, with my Aunt Pat in the hospital with the virus and pneumonia. I have to tell you that my anger swells as I see so many people who continue to disregard preacautions that would help to stop the spread of this infectious disease because of their ignorant belief that wearing a mask is a political statement, or they have the idiotic notion this is no worse than the flu. Infuriating. But back to my Aunt Pat, if you have some extra room in your prayers or good vibes, please send them her way. She's a wonderful, caring person with a special warmth, flair, and grace. She and my mother were born in Guyana and came to the US at different times in their lives to raise their families, and they both showed a great love for this country.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Nightmare (1781) by Henry Fuseli

A 1781 oil painting by Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) influenced many writers like William Blake, Mary Shelley, and Edgar Allan Poe whose narrator in "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839) says, 
An irrepressible tremour gradually pervaded my frame; and, at length, there sat upon my very heart an incubus of utterly causeless alarm. Shaking this off with a gasp and a struggle, I uplifted myself upon the pillows, and, peering earnestly within the intense darkness of the chamber, hearkened --I know not why, except that an instinctive spirit prompted me --to certain low and indefinite sounds which came, through the pauses of the storm, at long intervals, I knew not whence. Overpowered by an intense sentiment of horror, unaccountable yet unendurable, I threw on my clothes with haste (for I felt that I should sleep no more during the night), and endeavoured to arouse myself from the pitiable condition into which I had fallen, by pacing rapidly to and fro through the apartment.
According to Wikipedia, "Poe and Fuseli shared an interest in the subconscious; Fuseli is often quoted as saying, 'One of the most unexplored regions of art are dreams.'"

Friday, October 30, 2020

Close To The Bone

Four new poems, of mine, are published at the Close To The Bone webzine. Many thanks to this outstanding publishing team, and, especially, poetry editor Stephen J. Golds. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

"The Replacement" by Nikki Dolson

I've published the latest Nikki Dolson (ALL THINGS VIOLENT, LOVE AND OTHER CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR) short story called "The Replacement" over at the BEAT to a PULP webzine. If you've never read Ms. Dolson, you are in for a treat. The rest of you, I'm positive, have already clicked away to read. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

“Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" (c. 1818) by Caspar David Friedrich. One of my favorite oil paintings. From Wikipedia: “He looks down on an almost impenetrable sea of fog in the midst of a rocky landscape - a metaphor for life as an ominous journey into the unknown.” This iconic image is one of the inspirations for the latest series of poems that I’ve written, that will be appearing at the Close to The Bone webzine October 31st.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Catching Up

 A wind shear knocked out our power, a week ago, and it was fully restored today. So a few catch-up links of what was happening while I was away include my article Modern Western Films Written Better Than Ever at LitReactor. And remember I told you I had more to say about MAN OF THE WEST? Well, here I am at the Western Fictioneers with an appreciation for the Gary Cooper film along with a new poem. Lastly, speaking of poems, Close to The Bone webzine announced that they will be featuring four of my poems in what they are calling the 4.4. Very honored to say the least.

Okay, now I will zip around your blogs and see what I've been missing. 

Friday, October 2, 2020


Western Fictioneers: NEW RELEASE: UNDER WESTERN STARS: If short stories are my first and best love, then short westerns are that magical summer affair that seems all too rare and fleeting. Firmly...

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Writing to Music

I write to music, as I suspect many others do, too, and perhaps not just writers but anybody at an office, garage, warehouse, etc. where the drudgery of the day needs a little relief. Recently classical music has taken over for my standard go-to jazz or rock categories. In particular, my charmer introduced me to Erik Satie's "Gnossienne no. 1" which is a moody, gorgeous composition. This particular piece plays as the soundtrack in my mind when I think of the gothic poem "The Long Return" that I wrote about a missing person.

What is your preferred musical inspiration while the job is getting done?

Monday, September 14, 2020

Man of the West (1958)

I saw MAN OF THE WEST (1958) starring Gary Cooper for the first time, unbelievably, last week. An extraordinary Anthony Mann film based on THE BORDER JUMPERS 1955 novel by Will C. Brown. Its theme, one of redemption, has much in common with Shakespeare's KING LEAR. And that cast! Julie London, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Lord, John Dehner, and Robert J, Wilke hit all the marks, and then some. I'll be writing more on this gem at some point in the months to come.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Move It On Over

Thanks for stopping by but my latest post titled Forgotten Western Classics: The Spikes Gang (1974) is at the Western Fictioneers. C'mon, lets head on over there together.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Buddies in the Saddle: Ron Scheer

I finished my first Cash Laramie short story in over seven years and before I crossed the finish line, I spent some time with an old cowboy friend of mine named Ron Scheer. I met Ron online, here at Blogger, over our mutual appreciation for the Western genre. Before he sadly passed away in 2015, I had the distinct privilege of publishing his three volume series How The West Was Written with BEAT to a PULP. The third volume contains colloquial words he had found in the numerous classics he had read, and it was an indispensable resource while working on my latest hardboiled western. Thank you, Ron, for sharing this gem not only with me but with everyone.

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Hired Hand (1971)

Somehow The Hired Hand escaped my viewing until now, and that's peculiar because I'm a Warren Oates enthusiast (The Wild Bunch, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) and enjoy other films where he teams with the underrated Peter Fonda (Race With The Devil) who also directed this 1971 revisionist western. The running time is brisk at just over ninety minutes and that works to the film's advantage because the plot is straightforward, building on character development and eschewing gratuitous action scenes. Fonda plays Harry Collings and Oates is Arch Harris, two drifters headed for the California coast when Harry, weary of the meandering lifestyle, decides to return to his wife and daughter that he abandoned several years earlier. Arch counts Harry as a good friend and because of his easygoing demeanor tags along.

Hannah Collings (Verna Bloom) gives her wayward husband a justified cold welcome assuming he will once again leave her. She's a progressive thinker and has done quite well without him once she got over the initial hurt. Hannah allows Harry and Arch to stick around to work as hired hands, maintaining her distance; still, the married couple eventually find a route back to each other's hearts. Arch realizes he needs to move on since not only is three a crowd but he finds Hannah attractive as well. Ms. Bloom dominates every frame she's in, building a complicated, nuanced character. But this is still a Western, and there's a violent shootout after Arch is kidnapped by some thugs who he and Harry had run afoul at the beginning of the story. It's about one of the most realistic, choreographed gun plays I've ever watched.

Peter Fonda does an adept job of directing though I could do without the slo-mo and the ocassional out-of-focus angles that were all the rage of the late sixties and early seventies cinema. That trivial note aside, this is a fine film for fans of westerns and Warren Oates aficionados alike, especially those who wish to get away from exhausted tropes that plague the genre. And perhaps because of the unorthodox approach, I wasn't surprised to read The Hired Hand was a commercial failure on its initial release—now it's regarded as one of the defining films of the 1970s. I obviously agree, and the next time I'm watching, I'll plan on making it a double feature with another revisionist gem, Robert Altman's acclaimed McCabe & Mrs. Miller that was released the very same year.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Johnny Cash: Love, God, Murder

Johnny Cash (1932-2003) was one of the voices surrounding my cradle. In a small home in Varna, New York, would have been my dad, mom, and sister, and a baritone voice from an 8-track tape player singing about heady topics which I would learn to understand in the years to come. My musical interests expanded beyond country to rock, classical, and my go to favorite jazz. But even today, that deep voice and those songs still capture my attention, and before he died, Johnny Cash gifted us with a compilation titled Love, God, Murder (2000) with liner notes by Bono, Quentin Tarantino, and Johnny's lovely wife, June Carter Cash.

The "Murder" collection of songs has been playing on my Bose nonstop for weeks, whether I'm tinkering with a poem, editing a crime story for the BEAT to a PULP webzine, or riding the killing trail with Cash Laramie, who, yes, I partly named after Johnny. Inspirations abound. Take a song like "Don't Take Your Guns to Town," about a young man named Billy Joe who wants to be respected and rides into town with his guns hanging at his side. Hear that song just once and a movie begins playing out inside your head that could have been directed by John Ford. You see his mom crying over him and that dusty cowpoke laughing him down at the bar. It's not just a song but a narrative that gets into your ear and under your skin, and no matter how much you don't want Billy to make that fatal mistake to draw his pistols, he will again and again.

Another classic, "Delia's Gone," is about an unfaithful wife who's killed by the narrator. Unlike "Don't Take Your Guns to Town," there is no sympathetic protagonist, rather a jealous husband who appears to gleefully enjoy the path he takes—Cash was never afraid to go there in what Tarantino calls hillbilly thug life. I especially relish this particular compilation for the various points of view, whether from people witnessing a president's assassination in "Mister Garfield," a prisoner fantasizing about breaking out of Folsom prison, a man admitting to a murder to protect his best friend's wife from the shame of their affair, or an honest policeman allowing his criminal brother to get away "'cause a man who turns his back on his family ain't no good." That song, "Highway Patrolman," was written by Bruce Springsteen, and it has always impressed me how Cash could interpret other people's songs, slipping them into his own music book for a seamless listen. He's covered songs from a wide range of artists, from Hank Snow to Trent Reznor, with the ability to make them his own. How does he do it? I believe it's because his voice speaks with an authority that seems from The Almighty himself.

Any other Cash aficionados? What's your favorite song or album?

Monday, August 17, 2020

Cash Laramie, The Outlaw Marshal

I'm not sure why Cash Laramie returned, and quite frankly, I wasn't looking forward to it because I thought his story arc had been fully realized. Still, a few weeks ago, the antihero I created many moons ago tapped on my shoulder with a well formed short story. Over the course of an afternoon, I knocked out the rough draft and have been polishing it up ever since. It reminded me that stashed in my coffer was a Nik Morton* novel called Death For a Dove featuring both Cash and his fellow marshal, Gideon Miles, and I immediately began readying that dynamite for publication.  

On Twitter, I teased Cash's return and was astonished anyone had remembered, but many did with enthusiasm. To tease a bit further, my story takes place in 1902 when Cash is fifty years old and has pursued a wanted man from his home base in Cheyenne to New York. Nik's upcoming piece occurs in the 1880's on a riverboat with owlhoots, gamblers, a European princess, and a tiger! I enjoy working with Nik -- besides being a top wordsmith, he's been with me and these creations since the beginning. We've already begun plotting more Westerns for 2021. Well, time to stop yapping and get writing.

*Nik recently wrote about the previous Cash and Miles adventure, Coffin for Cash (2015): Disinterring Coffin for Cash - 1 | Disinterring Coffin for Cash - 2.

Friday, July 31, 2020

The Inconsiderate

My latest verse has been published. I hope you find some time to take a look. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Bloomsday 2020

My minor, but heartfelt, contribution for Joyceans and Bloomsday 2020.