Concern Over the Housecat

Photo of a cat with its tongue curled up.
by Megan McClain/Unsplash

Sometimes when my cat looks at me, I wonder if she ever imagines leaping on me and sinking her fangs into my flesh, for although she is a housecat (and a cute one at that), maybe there’s a flicker within her of wildness, a pinch of inheritance passed down through generations from ancestors who lurked in tall grass toward prey, crouching in careful and delicious anticipation, then leaping from their hiding spot and chasing antelope (or other creatures) and tackling one and sinking their fangs into the flesh, because surely that pinch-flicker still remains in my cat, and that opens the possibility of it growing into flames with which the tyger burns bright in the house of the night, burning so bright that my cat attacks me and gets to feast upon fresh meat for once, not food from a can or pouch or bag, and would the headline of my obituary — DIED FROM HOUSECAT ATTACK — cause horror or humor in readers, or a bit of both?


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Fountain Wishes and Memories

The locals scurrying about
see it as a thing they’ve seen
a thousand times before.

The tourists gawking agog
see it as a charming thing
where they toss pennies
and silently make wishes,
shelving the experience
as one among many on their trips.

As I sit on the fountain’s ledge
I remember some
of the wishes I made
as she and I strolled by it
after dinners in restaurants.

And I wonder about the wishes
she made, as she
never told me any of them.

Those wishes evaporated
since she left,
leaving memories,
but at least I still have those.


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Book Review: ‘Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings’

front cover of book. The background is a painting of the back of two women. They are nude and gazing down.

Before I get to the review, Gabriela Marie Milton is holding a poetry contest around her new book Woman: Splendor and Sorrow. Head on over to her blog post for details!

Now on to the review of her previous book…


Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings by Gabriela Marie Milton

Let’s say you’ve walked through a few houses with blank walls. Maybe these are show houses in a new development in town. The blankness of the houses reminds you of routines: doing the same things every day, eating the same foods.

Then you enter a house with tapestries hanging on the walls. The tapestries are filled with vibrant images and suggestions of senses. That’s the kind of feeling given by Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings. Each poem is like a tapestry. 

You walk up to each tapestry and absorb the images woven into the fabric. Some images give the suggestion of aromas (cinnamon, “braid my hair with smells of lavender and roses”). Some images invite touch sensations (wind, “running barefoot on cobblestone streets”). Others conjure sounds (purring cat, whispers, “you make pianos sneeze old rhapsodies”). Others serve up tastes (passion fruit, “destinies melt in the taste of coffee and mistrust”). Others give glimpses of places around the world (Florence, Granada, Rio de la Plata).

The poems are celebrations of language, locations, emotions, and senses. These are Flamenco dancers, characters from myths, kisses, flowers, wooden beds, a woman being called Beatrice and wishing that was her name, “pigeons guide ships lost at sea,” wine, dreams, and a lot more.

The poems invite you to take in the images from those tapestries. Remove each tapestry from the wall and wrap it around you. For these bright emotions and senses enrich our lives. These keep our lives from become stale, monotonous. 

Most of the book is comprised of Ms. Milton’s poems, but there are two other sections. One includes poems by Flavio Almerighi, and these are split into columns: English translation on the left and the Italian version on the right.

The final section includes prose poems and flash fiction. The rich language continues in these, now with more narrative to sew together more concrete scenes. I enjoyed the poems in the book, and I enjoyed these fiction pieces more. I felt the fictional pieces were easier for me to enter the scenes and take in what was happening there.

This is a lovely book that’s like taking a vacation from the ordinary.

You can by this book at Amazon here.

More of Ms. Milton’s writing is at her blog.

Three Siblings on a Pier

Final toast to the lake. The three of us laugh at memories of contests: swimming, diving, watermelon seed-spitting. Humorous attempts to ease the sadness of losing the family’s lake house. With frail parents and our money spent on raising our own kids, we can’t afford the property. We had a wonderful run, though. Time for another family to create new memories.


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Book Review: ‘Parable of the Sower’

Front cover of Parable of the Sower. There is an illustration of a Black woman wearing a pink and orange dress. Around her are small shapes, like seeds.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

If you like dystopian fiction, I highly recommend this novel. 

The state of the union of America is chaos. Like Cormac McCarthy in The Road, Ms. Butler doesn’t dwell long on reasons why American society collapsed. Although, climate change and expanding wealth gap are mentioned here and there in this powerful novel. Unlike McCarthy’s novel, Parable of the Sower includes much information about the effects of that collapse.

Life is dangerous in unprotected places. People are apt to rob, kidnap, rape, and/or kill those who are seen as easy targets. When called, police might not show up. If they do, it could be the next day. You’ll need to pay a fee to the police for them to look into a crime. And there’s no guarantee they will follow through with an investigation.

The book’s main character, Lauren Olamina, lives in a walled community with her family—along with several neighbors—in a suburb of Los Angeles. Their life is safer than outside the wall, yet danger can arrive. Sometimes, thieves scale the wall and steal items the houses. And they steal vegetables from gardens and fruits from trees. In this future, food is scarce—unless you grow your own. Drinkable water is scarce, too.

Lauren’s father is a Baptist minister who who gives sermons in their house. And he teaches his children about guns and takes them for regular target practice. I mention this because of Lauren’s actions. She fires a gun several times in the hostile world to survive and protect people around her.

Also, Lauren develops her own religion: Earthseed. The overall book is comprised of Lauren’s journal entries. Before each chapter is an excerpt of the book within the book—Eathseed: The Books of the Living. One of those excerpts:

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
Is Change.

God
Is Change.

— Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower

Another of Lauren’s inheritances: “hyper-empathy” because her mother used a drug during pregnancy. With this condition, Lauren acutely feels pain and pleasure of other people.

Lauren Olamina makes for an intriguing main character. The book’s beginning has Lauren as a teenager and drama with her neighbors inside the walled community. Then Lauren takes a journey, and she navigates the lawless landscape of California. 

This is a gripping book, for the wildness of its near-future world. The story begins in July 2024, a mere three years from when I’m writing this review. The world in the story is very different than now. Much of society has regressed: slavery, purchase of people, company towns. There’s a new drug called pyro, which makes people stare at fires in fascination, and addicts go on killing rampages.

Octavia Butler has crafted a scary world here. Yet there’s light. That’s a lot of weight on Lauren’s shoulders. Thankfully, she has strong shoulders.

Author Interview: Megan Hinde

3 book covers: The Complete Collection, A Second Helping, and Pieces Fall Together

Fellow writer Megan Hinde offered to interview me, and I gladly accepted (posted here). I suggested that I interview her as well, as I was curious about her background as a writer. Let’s learn a bit about her…


1. What caused you to get started in writing?

Midlife crisis…I turned 40. Honestly it just evolved, I wrote quite a bit in high school and college, I worked on my high school newspaper and my college paper. Once upon a time I was a Journalism Major with a concentration in print media. But then life happens. In 2015 I found underlying creativity that had been lying dormant for a good while. Grace Summers who was a character from a piece of dialogue exercise came out to play.     

2. You’ve published a variety of story types in your books — such as flash fiction, detective, and thriller. What inspires you to write these different types of stories?

Variety is the spice of life. Over the last six years writing short stories has also led to reading more variety. I got into more Agatha Christie and odd short story anthologies. Then the Where, What and Who of Writing came to be and immersed me into Flash Fiction. Which was a style I hadn’t really ever written. 

‘Inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Clue, is my version of Where, What, And Who. I think of these as writing prompts to help get the writing juices flowing. I thank everyone for playing along, and invite you to be inspired by the prompts. Also feel free to suggest a place, an item and a name/occupation.’ 

The Detective Stories are just fun, I may have a slight obsession with classic crime, pulp fiction and serial killers. Which all make for good storytelling. Sometimes inspiration just happens, be it things you over hear, read or watch.

3 book covers: Welcome to Edna's Kitchen, Edna's Kitchen: Holiday Collection, and Edna's Kitchen Presents The Best of Bacon

3. You’ve also published several cookbooks, all coming from “Edna’s Kitchen.” Who is Edna? Is there a story behind why you chose that name?

If you read the introduction to Welcome to Edna’s Kitchen you would know. That being said, yes Edna became a creation out of a short story I wrote about my grandparents called After the Glory

‘Mrs. Rachel Darling sat in front of her typewriter working on her next column for The Daily Star, the local newspaper for the area. Her column Ask Edna had recipes, gardening advice and household tips and tricks.’

It has also evolved into its own breathing entity with 16 ebook cookbooks and a recipe blog on WordPress.  

4. What are your favorite meals to cook?

Stroganoff, Spaghetti and Meatballs and Lasagna. Runner ups would be Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots, and Slow Cooked Pulled Pork with Katsu Sauce.

3 book covers: Detective Stories, Descending the Spiral Staircase, and No Rest for the Wicked

5. Do your story ideas start with a character, a scenario, or something else?

Usually scenario, which is why I like the Where, What and Who writing prompts. Some of the combinations just write themselves. Like this one: Airport, Winter Jacket, Martha.

‘Winter Jacket 

Martha stood at the arrival gate in the Kansas City International Airport, clutching John’s dark blue winter jacket to her chest. John had been deployed overseas, it had been the longest six months of Martha’s life. She watched, shivering in anticipation as the crowd of people exited the jetway, waiting to see his familiar face among the crowd. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw him, he immediately pulled her into his arms, the winter jacket being crushed between them. She never felt safer or more at peace.’ 

There is also a little truth in all my fiction, details or characters that come from my experiences in life. A lot of them are inside jokes or references for my entertainment.  

6. Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?

Not really, if the inspiration is there things get written. Coffee is always involved. 

7. Do you ever experience “writer’s block?” If so, what do you do to help ease out of it?

Not so much ‘writer’s block’ as lack of inspiration. Over the last two years the inspiration to write fiction is just not there. Hence the growing number of book recommendations and articles about other writers. Been reading more and writing less. 

3 covers of flash fiction books: Haunted Hydrangeas, Down the Rabbit Hole, and Hat Trick

8. What kinds of fiction do you enjoy reading? Do you have favorite authors?

I’ll read just about anything, if it doesn’t hold my attention I just stop reading it. I go through phases. I used to read  a lot of Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Miller, and James Joyce. Recently it’s been Agatha Christie, and Rex Stout.     

9. What is one work of fiction that moved you deeply? Why did it have that effect on you?

Here’s the thing I read for pure enjoyment. I don’t put a whole lot of thought into what I’m reading usually at night to fall asleep. This is why I was never an English Lit major. Put it this way, in high school I asked my friend how ‘Catcher In the Rye’ was rather than actually read it. 

10. What project(s) are you working on now?

There are always ideas floating around in the back of my mind: Things like do we need another Holiday Treats From Edna’s Kitchen? Does Detective James Andrews need a back story or a continuation of his Detective Stories? Or is it time to walk away and take a break? I don’t have any answers, I figure if inspiration occurs then more words will be written. 


Links!

Megan’s books are available on Amazon.

You can read some of her stories on her blog — along with recipes and photos.

Her Goodreads page is here.

Question of the Hour Presents: Author Dave Williams — cch217

Many thanks to Megan Hinde for interviewing me. The Q&A is now up on her blog…

A twisted, haunting and enjoyable read that dives deep into the shadowy depths of one man’s mind… ‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ is a literal, metaphorical and symbolic title for a unique story that takes readers down the rabbit hole of conscience and repercussion. -Review By Lee Hall It is time once again for an author […]

Question of the Hour Presents: Author Dave Williams — cch217

Children book authors wanted for an underwater themed book — Emotion Doodles

I’m sharing this blog post from Emotion Doodles, in case any one out there would like to take a shot at writing a children’s book with underwater creatures. These drawings are very cute…

In my post Children book authors wanted I announced I was looking to collaborate with people. Your story and my drawings are ready to take of the world, or something ambitious like that 😉 I was lucky enough to had people responding to my post and we are achieving great results, but I am always […]

Children book authors wanted for an underwater themed book — Emotion Doodles