Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Poem: Father 1

I had a father (he died on my thirty-ninth birthday) and am a father, but this poem was surprisingly difficult to begin to write.  However, once I began, the words flowed from my heart, down my arms, out my fingers, onto the keyboard, and up onto the screen.  Here's to you (and me), Dad.

Review of "Hope, Shattered" by Brian R. McDowell

"Hope, Shattered" by Brian R. McDowell appeared in Daily Science Fiction on February 28, 2013.  "An android goes through the birthing process as a surrogate mother for a human."

There is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that must occur in order to enjoy fiction, particularly science fiction.  While the concept of using an android as a surrogate mother is acceptable, having that android actually deliver the baby in a human manner--complete with IV lines, "contractions," pushing, and severe pain, not to mention needlessly endangering the baby--is beyond belief.  This glaring flaw forced me to give this otherwise well-written, at times poignant, and even thought-provoking tale 3 out of 7 rocket-dragons.

Review of Tis Late by April Bernard

Tis Late  by April Bernard was offered by's Poem-A-Day on February 28, 2013.  The backstory to this poem (outlined in the poet's notes) is more interesting, perhaps, than the poem itself.  I found the poem to be a little preachy, blaming "democracy" and "capitalism" for the poverty and homelessness of the subject of the poem.  However, as the poet wisely opines in her notes, "We are all of us only one or two steps away from the street."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Poem: Sisters 1

I don't have a sister but imagined what it might have been like, and Sisters 1 resulted (and I am happy with the result).  The poem is meant for a greeting card to be exchanged between sisters.

Review of Poem Entering the Apple Valley Target by Lynn Melnick

Poem Entering the Apple Valley Target by Lynn Melnick was offered by's Poem-A-Day on February 27, 2013.  In her notes, the poet reveals that she is somewhat of an agoraphobic.  Her poem captures the feeling of being overwhelmed by today's shopping experience.  I feel her pain.

Review of "Hazel Tree" by Melissa Mead

"Hazel Tree" by Melissa Mead, appeared on February 27, 2013 as the next installment in Daily Science Fiction's every-other-Wednesday fairy tale offerings.  "A wicked step-mother and her two natural daughters make life miserable for a girl who consoles herself by planting a magic hazelnut tree and baking hazelnut concoctions from its fruit."

There is a variant telling of the old household tale, Cinderella, in which the unfortunate step-child plants a hazelnut branch on her mother's grave which then grows into a magic hazelnut tree.  The same thing happens in Ms. Mead's tale, only her telling is punctuated by asides from the author that, while meant to be humorous, interrupt the flow of the story.  3 out of 7 rocket-dragons.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Poem: starling flock

European Starlings change their appearance in winter.  Gone is their colorful iridescence, replaced by white speckles on otherwise black plumage.  Even their beaks change color from gray to yellow.  I have seen flocks of Starlings large enough to darken the sky.

Starling flock is a mainstream, 5-7-5 haiku inspired by these interesting birds.  Many birders chase them away, but they will always be welcome at my feeder.

Review of Base Camp by Tom Healy

Base Camp by Tom Healy was offered by's Poem-A-Day on February 26, 2013.  The poet reveals in his notes that his poem was inspired by a one-month journey across the Himalayas.  The harshness of that environment is apparent in his imagery, and a mood of fear and adventure is woven into the poet's philosophical musings.

Review of "The Small Print" by Amy McLane

"The Small Print" by Amy McLane appeared in Daily Science Fiction on February 26, 2013.  "A young lady sells a memory to a man who extracts them."

This story reminded me of other memory-themed science fiction stories, particularly of "Ivy Rose" by Dan Hart which appeared in DSF and was reviewed in Songs of Eretz December 18, 2012.  "Small Print" is well written and paced, but does not provide enough of a twist on a tired theme for more than 4 out of 7 rocket-dragons.

New Poem: Daughter 1

I had an easy time writing a greeting card poem for a daughter, as my daughter is such a delight--a ready Muse for the father who loves her.  Like her mother, she lights up every room she enters.  And she can give me a good chess game--that was a surprise.

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Poem: rosy house finches

House finches visit my backyard feeding station year round, often in flocks.  Descendants of a few pet cage birds let loose in New York City about a hundred years ago, they are ubiquitous now.  In warmer weather, I'll sometimes sit outside on my deck to read or write, and along will come a band of the fluffy, chirping fellows.  As long as I remain still and quiet, they will munch on birdseed from a feeder only three feet from where I sit--wild yet in this way still tame.  Hopefully, my haiku inspired by them captures some of their magic.

New Poem: predatory bird

This mainstream, 5-7-5, bird haiku was inspired by a sighting of a Broad-winged Hawk.  I looked out of my kitchen window this morning, and there it was on my deck, mere feet away from where I stood.  According to The Guide to Kansas Birds, this hawk is rarely seen and then only during migration and then typically not until April (perhaps this one is a harbinger of climate change).  Its majesty took my breath away.

New Poem: Son 1

My latest greeting card poem is for a father (or mother) to give to a son.  This one came easily, as I have a wonderful son--a gift to society.  An artist, he is strong, handsome, intelligent, kind, gentle, creative, and fun.  He is everything I would have been had I been raised by me.  Seventeen, he has his whole life ahead of him.  Such adventures he will have.  Far from being jealous, I am proud.

Review of The Objectified Mermaid by Matthea Harvey

The Objectified Mermaid by Matthea Harvey was offered by's Poem-A-Day on February 25, 2013.  It is a prose-poem, more prose than poem, about a sort of mermaid supermodel during a photo shoot.  The poet achieved her goal of taking all the magic and wonder out of a mermaid tail ahem tale.

Review of "Living With Trees" by Geetanjali Dighe

"Living With Trees" by Geetanjali Dighe appeared in Daily Science Fiction on February 25, 2013.  A planet survey cadet from a post-apocolyptic earth faces a dilemma concerning his duty to report the existence of an earth-like planet covered with a sentient, collectively conscious forest.

I have seen science fiction stories like this before--Nemesis by Isaac Asimov, and "Surrounded by the Mutant Rainforest" by Bruce Boston (appeared in DSF August 16, 2012 and reviewed in Songs of Eretz August 20, 2012) come immediately to mind.  There is also a Star Trek TNG episode (whose title escapes me) about a planetary consciousness.  Ms. Dighe's story is certainly well-written and well-paced but does not offer much that is terribly new on this theme.  4 out of 7 rocket-dragons.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Poem: grand geese

From time to time, Canada geese fly over my house in Kansas.  I usually hear them before I see them.  Their trumpeting honks never cease to thrill, and their perfect V formations never cease to fascinate.  Grand geese is a mainstream, 5-7-5 haiku inspired by these amazing creatures.

New Poem: crimson cardinal

Northern Cardinals visit my bird feeding station almost every day year round.  Usually a female accompanies a male--probably a mated pair.  Last summer, many juveniles came by in addition to the adults.  Crimson cardinal is a mainstream, 5-7-5 haiku inspired by my bright red avian friends.

New Poem: Brother 1

My latest greeting card poem is meant to be given to a brother (by either a sister or brother).  This one came easily to me--I have an amazing brother who I dearly love.  He will be forty-six this year, but he'll always be my little brother.

Review of O by Mary Sidney Herbert

O by Mary Sidney Herbert (b. 1561) was offered by's Poem-A-Day on February 24, 2013.  It is a prayer in the form of a rhyming poem, full of word inversions.  Word inversions were a common practice of the poets of ages past but are generally frowned upon today (or at least in today's poetry markets), variously seen as forced, pretentious, or old-fashioned.  Alas, I love word inversions, and much of my poetry, particularly my rhyming poetry, includes them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

New Poem: Friendship 1

My first poem for Blue Mountain Arts on friendship consists of 12 lines of free verse arranged in 3 stanzas of 4 lines each.  The poem could by given to a friend regardless of the sex of that friend.  It was difficult for me to write at first, but once I realized that friendship is a kind of love, the poem came easily.

Review of A Billet Doux by George Moses Horton

A Billet Doux by George Moses Horton (b. 1798), the "Black Bard of North Carolina," was offered by's Poem-A-Day on February 23, 2013.  The piece begins as a beautiful prose-poem love letter and ends with an equally beautiful, 15 line rhyming love poem.

Mr. Horton could have kept pace with any lyric poet of his era.  What makes his achievement so amazing is that, according to his bio, he was the first African-American to publish a book and the only one to do so while still a slave.

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Poem: Missing You 1

Off to a good start, I just wrote (and sent off) a "missing you" themed poem for Blue Mountain Arts.  I took the advice in the guidelines and thought about how lonely it was for me when I was serving in the Air Force in Indonesia.  The deployment was full of amazing and meaningful experiences, but every day, no matter how interesting, was touched by an undercurrent of sadness, longing, and loneliness.  The nights were worse.  I tried not to dream too much as the USS Abraham Lincoln (on which my team was billeted) gently rocked me to sleep.

Retail Poetry: Blue Mountain Arts

I discovered an interesting new market for poetry, the greeting card company Blue Mountain Arts.  The company is constantly on the lookout for poems (sadly, not rhyming poems--my specialty) to use in its greeting cards.  BMA publishes holiday cards as well as cards on the usual themes seen where such cards are sold (missing you, birthdays, love, friendship, get well soon &c).

The market for poetry is at best difficult, and payment for poetry is typically low, often as low as a few dollars for a poem that might have taken hours to write.  To add insult to injury, most poetry markets do not allow simultaneous submissions to competing markets and take weeks to months to let the poet know yea or nay.  In contrast, BMA pays $300.00 for poems it chooses for greeting cards and $50.00 for poems it chooses for one of its books of poetry.

My goal is to write a poem for BMA every day.  If I have only a five percent success rate, I'll make enough to make it worth my while financially and, at the end of a year, I'll have enough for a nice collection.  An ambitious goal for sure, but I'm going to do my best to realize it.

Songs of Eretz Passes 10,000 Views

Dear Readers and Followers:

I am pleased to announce that Songs of Eretz has passed 10,000 views since its humble beginnings in April 2012, and on the heels of reaching the 5,000-view mark just over two months ago.  In reaching this major milestone, the blog has been recognized by the editors of Daily Science Fiction as a source for reviews of its stories, hosted a rousing debate among members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association over the 2012 issue of Dwarf Stars, and I finally became a published poet.

Please accept my heartfelt thanks for your faithful readership, recognition, and thoughtful comments.  It is not easy to maintain the discipline to keep a daily blog.  Your readership drives the engine of motivation that keeps me going.  Keep reading and keep those comments coming!

Kindest regards,

Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD