Well, I survived the hurricane. I live in one of three counties in Florida that was basically unaffected by Irma. Having lived in Florida for just over a year, it was a new and sobering experience for us. Back home, we had tornadoes and winter storms. With winter storms, people stock their pantries and hunker in-- no one wants to run to the store for milk when the roads get bad. But if the electricity goes out, all you have to do is pack your perishables up so critters can't get at them and pack them outside in the snow. With tornadoes, there is even less preparation. The sirens go off, you get in the basement, and wait it out. That's it.
Here, the hurricanes advance with strange, sinister slowness. Even the natives freak out. There was a run on the gas stations. Long lines formed at the Tom Thumbs and Cefcos, filling up their tanks and containers so they'd have enough to evacuate, or to run their generators. In a blink, all that was left was premium and diesel fuel. The grocery stores were worse-- all the bottled water and canned food disappeared, along with any kind of survival gear, matches, flashlights, canteens, that sort of thing. It was surreal. My heart goes out to the places that were devastated by Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. I'm donating to all the fundraisers that I can. I hope you are too.
On the writing front, I did an interview at Snowflakes in a Blizzard on West Side Girl & Other Poems. You can read it here. I'm honored to say this is my second feature on Snowflakes, a rarity because the editor, Darrell Laurent, prefers not to interview the same author more than once. Big thanks to him for taking an interest in my work.
Also, this month, my poem "Arrowheads" will appear in the latest issue of The I-70 Review, published annually in my hometown of KC. Unfortunately, they don't post any of the contents online, so only subscribers can read it.
"Arrowheads" was the first poem I wrote about Florida. We live right next to Eglin AFB, which is home not only to air force, but to army special forces. I've never lived in a military town before, so I'm experiencing a sort of dual culture shock here-- the military and the Deep South. Virtually all of the neighbors in our apartment complex are military or ex-military. "Arrowheads" was inspired by a neighbor we had, a disabled vet with brain damage from an IED. Collecting arrowheads had been a lifelong hobby of his. The first time I read the poem at a poetry open mic, of course, there was a vet in the audience, and I made the poor guy cry. There's always this peculiar mixture of guilt, anguish and triumph of creating something that can affect others so profoundly. So, men and women of the armed forces, consider this your trigger warning.
For the second month in a row, I've hosted Off the Page, an open mic/literary salon, held on the third Thursday of the month. If you ever happen to be in Northwest Florida and are interested in attending, hit me up. I'd love to see you there. It's not just for poetry, either-- all writers and appreciators of the written word are welcome.
And finally, tomorrow is Poetry Under the Stars, the 100K Poets for Change event in Pensacola. I plan to attend. Come out and have a listen!