Category Archives: poetry

What’s In a Name: Part 2 Burros and Miracles

Early on

The Mazatlecos, they said, buried their dead on the shore of the sea and not on sacred ground; they did not baptize their children, they did not consecrate their marital unions religiously; they did not celebrate the Catholic holidays; and, only a few went to the Masses celebrated upon a portable altar brought to town. With all its wealth this was, at first, a town without a name, without law and without god.

It is interesting to note that in early Mazatlan, the names of the first streets  reflected their usage. For example, the streets that  bordered the old Barrio of Skulls (Calles Leandro Valle, Carvahal and 21 de Marzo) had Spanish names meaning “Ditch” and “Jail.” (Notice the brevity of language, the “bare bones” descriptions).  As the city expanded, tombs, graves and bones  were dug up and moved further away from the city center to Municipal Panteon No 1. The new place was designed for Protestants, Catholics, and non -believers (with some sort of  division) and it had a nickname: “The Plazza of the Burros.”

In the good old days, people died of many things : disputes, love gone wrong, ambushes, firing squads and war, cholera, childbirth, political ambition, poisoned food and water, yellow fever,  the plague and accidents due to rapid expansion and bravado while under the influence. This picture by Peter Brougel (Dutch painter in the 1500s) sets the tone for the move to the “Donkey Plaza” from the “Barrio of Skulls.”

What’s In a Nickname?

Pushing the limits of Google Translate and Babel Fish, our team researched Mexican historians, such as Lic. Oses Cole Isuna, Lic. Enrique Ayala, and Antonio Lerma Garay. Bette Schwarz consulted other sources,  and we reveled in discoveries that left us more confused than ever. Nevertheless,  here are several plausible reasons the plaza got it’s nickname. You decide.

In the newspaper El Correo de la Tarde,Julio 7 de 1899, there appeared this explanation and tribute to the lowly burro: In the early days, the dead  were first brought to a coroner by mule or donkey where  they were examined as to the reason for their death. If no one showed up to claim them, they were sent to the graveyard on a cart pulled by a burro. The “donkeys” or burros were the economical hearses carrying the bodies of those who had no one, were unknown, etc..”buried on common ground,” “often stacked  in one large coffin wearing nothing or only the rags in which they died.” The placid donkey accompanied them on this, their final trip (final— until they got moved again to Panteon No. 2). Indeed, a burro was the last companion of the dead, and sole witness to an end of days.

As you can imagine, a true historical detective like Bette Schwarz was bothered and unable to  sleep until she could  crack the mystery of “why the nickname?”

*And then the break through!!!Bette read that at the beginning of the 19th Century, “donkey’s on vacation” or enjoying R and R could rest and frolic in a place adjacent to the plaza later named for burros. “Yes. That’s it!”

*Next, we discovered that In 1925, a year after Governor Angel Flores died a terrible death due to poisoning (rumored as  the unfortunate result of his political ambition to be President of Mexico) Mazatlan City christened the plaza and school after him.  Earlier, when commanding General Flores,  President Obregon (a fellow citizen of Sonora) had honored him with the title of “best soldier of the revolution.”  It was rumored  that naming the plaza after Angel Flores was an opportunity to upscale the plaza that had fallen into ruin.

*Soon there was a rumor that the name “Plaza of the Burros” had turned “derogatory” and was “maliciously aimed” at this “named best soldier”  who had fought with and under the revered “Pride of Mazatlan, Sinaloa,” the local, more humble, and better loved Juan Carrasco. This “vile and hateful”  rumor was aimed at another rumor that Angel Flores had conspired with General Obregon to kill Juan Carrasco (note the use of flowery language that developed with the importance of politics and politicians). Of course non of these things could be true. 

Poetic Truth

            The Donkey
         By G.K Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things. 

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.


Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet.
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

And Justice

“The one who comes to a good tree, a good shadow shelters him,” says an old refrain. And strange as it seems  a donkey proved this adage true.  Gavilán was his name. He was a rich reddish color and sported a white nose. The multimillionaire Lloyd Rawlins bought him in 1895  to labor in his mine San Luis, of Dimas, Durango. Soon Gavilán became the millionaire’s preferred means of transportation in his wanderings in the Duranguense Sierra. But one day Mr. Lloyd decided to return to his home in Los Gatos, California, leaving behind his donkey Gavilan. After awhile however, the  millionaire missed the braying of his former partner.  “Surely the burro deserved a better deal than he could receive in the mines. Hadn’t he always served  willingly?” And so, Mr. Lloyd sent for his donkey to travel first class by ship to San Francisco.

The ship carried  2130 boxes of tomatoes from the Mazatlan region, 70 giant loggerheads that had been trapped in Magdalena Bay, and that donkey from the Sierra de Durango. The millionaire pensioned his loyal donkey. Never again did the cruel weight of cargo rest on Gavilán’s reddish back. Indeed, the happy burro lived out his full life of 50 years in luxury as an esteemed member of Lloyd Rawlins family—  and as his friend.

A miracle you say? Stranger than fiction perhaps? In two weeks on a Tuesday,  we will see how donkeys figured in the Mazatlan waterworks, learn what happened when the town got religion, and  just in time for Holy Week, begin the story of the Miraculous Chapel and Her procession.


Buy Now:

Hotel Belmar: the Ghost Has the Key

is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats at: https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI



ISBN:978-0-6921 139820 https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

The Author will have books at the First Friday Art-walk in Mazatlan. May be sold at Saturday Market.  Click here to read reviews.

Until then, going fast. Call 981-8072.

Other books by S.K.Carnes

ISBN:978-0692-84685-8 amxn.to/2nasO9S
Click description 

ISBN:987-0692-85172-2     

 http:bit.ly/SoldiersJourney     

Available in paperback, as an audiobook and e-book.  Silver Medal from Readers Favorite
ISBN:978-0-9718600 2008 Golden Moonbeam Award.  Available from author Click on the word description 


Mazatlan’s Unsettling Beginnings: The First Street

New Recruit Cheryl the Walker D Angelo and myself are off to investigate the Barrio of Skulls , the Chapel Miraculous, ghosts, rumors and tales. We have our marching papers,  Chief investigator Bette Schwarz has sluiced the Con Agua Report from  the internet in her relentless search for the truth. She also holds dear several books by Oses Cole that are probably priceless by now.

As we trudge along, I explain to Cheryl that me and “Babel Fish” aim to unravel  research written in Spanish in hopes that  our visitors will be dazzled by  “tidbits of history” we extract.  How great to expand the mind!  I’ll say, “Guess  what happened here?” And everyone will love it. Right Cheryl?

When I use that line with Bette, she scolds me about my ghost book, saying  “if you torture the data long enough, you can get it to confess to anything! Ghosts even.” I remind her that I am from Friday Harbor. I grew up listening to Joe Friday. “Just the facts Maam.But I say it with a wink. Bette has her eye on me—you know, she likes to tell it like it is. And was!

The Grid? What Grid?

“ Cheryl points out “that the streets we are walking along curve, and some of them disappear all together because they are not laid out on a grid but follow the mud line of high tide in the estuaries and the beach.  Never fear, our gal Cheryl has her feet on the ground. She has been reading a fascinating thesis written by Dr. Leticia Alvarado Fuentes and is fast becoming an expert on  how the original streets were named.

The Midas Touch Wins Out

Yep-Mazatlán  was great for hiding pirates, treasures and a specialized type of antelope called “hooded deer”almost extinct now. At the beginning 17th Century attempts to settle in however were twice abandoned,  the hills and estuaries dubbed “unlivable. “Historians say the soil was salty, the water was “not acceptable as water goes, lest to ingest it “and it smelled bad too. Dangerous bugs, monsters and rats lived in the estuaries. Floods and YEEK! HURRICANES! But in the late 1500’s, silver and gold had been discovered in the foothills to the East. Overland transport to the Port of Acapulco was dangerous and expensive.  Mazatlan’s harbor was world class and deep enough for any boat in the 1600s. The place lacked water but had the “Midas Touch” so of course there was another attempt at settling in, and this third time was the charm.

The Principle Way

We are crossing Calle Belisario Dominguez,  aptly called “Principle”. This first trail  began with a nascent farmhouse called Puerto Viejo on San Felix Bay (today North Beach)and crossed Mazatlan to the sheltered inner harbor,  where tree trunk boats, each carrying up to 5 tons of fruits, seeds and livestock, plowed the estuary trade routes. Villa Union (where the first would-be settlers had built farms) and many other places where there was good water and rich soil for growing things, supplied  food and water to Mazatlan. It was a time when the estuaries were primary routes  for communication and supplies between tribes and towns. Everyone pitched in, the slaves and Indians that worked the fabled mines married in, and the First Town took the name: Mazatlán de los Mulatos. In distant Spain, visitors brought alarming news of  disorder, chaos, and terrible living conditions, but like a bad weed, the city sprang up. Urban sprawl spilled fast and faster across flood zones between the watchtower hills manned by the “brown Militia.” It was an out of control race, a material boom-time to “hurry-up” before Mexico thought about regulations and taxes!

Mazatlan! Mexico’s Fabulous Port on the Pacific

People called “mules” were bent double under the weight of precious metals headed out to the world. Every language was spoken except religion.  Not a lot of that. Nor was there reliable water enough to sustain a big brawling city. The early folks were not so interested in planning a great city as they were in “getting rich” and maybe “getting out” if need be, especially those from other nations. San Felix was crowded with ships coming mostly from Europe, Asia, and North America; proudly waving flags of England, France, Italy Holland, Spain, the Americas and Ecuador. Commercial houses spawned fabulous fortunes  from trade in silver and gold, opium and contraband. And the characters that came to Old Mazatlan ?  Salty, uncivilized, fearless, heroic and legendary! I remind myself that they walked these very streets and shiver to imagine such ghosts as they would be. By 1855 the very diverse population of Mazatlán was 6773 . Regional markets had grown to include the States of Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Nayuarit, Baja California and Alta california. Until the railroads gave ease of transport to inland cities, Mazatlán was Mexico’s most important Pacific port.

What’s Next?

Bette Schwarz is researching the water systems that served Mazatlán . And the streets? Cheryl says she is “On it!” Stay tuned to hear some tales about them as we head for the center of the old city and the Barrio of Skulls. As for me, I aim to solve the mystery of how that neighborhood got that name. Tune in next week for answers. Just the facts. Well, maybe a little fancy to add some flourish.

NEWS FLASH: The City is going to restore Panteon No. 2 to it’s original glory. Congratulations go to Joaquin Lopez Hernandez for his “Graveyard Tours” (called by fellow historians “stupendous citizen efforts”) that inspired Gringos, tourists and the Powers That Be!!!!! Hooray.  A city justly proud of Her History!!!!! Mazatlán!

I have written a song to celebrate!

You Do Not Walk Alone

Along avenues of heros
'N Streets that sing of praise
Watch tall waves on the seaside
Drench the sunset colors blaze

El Faro beams and flashes,
And the moon and streetlights glow
Walk the sacred streets at twilight
Walk deep purple streets at midnight
And you do not walk alone

Rolling echoes of the canons
Searing fire from the shells
Rise up nation bent on freedom
To the tolling of the bells

El Faro beams and flashes,
And the moon and streetlights glow
Walk the sacred streets at twilight
Walk deep purple streets at midnight
And you do not walk alone

The green spark of salvation
Whirling skirts and stamping pride
Fiestas loud and merry
Jest that no one ever dies.

El Faro beams and flashes,
And the moon and streetlights glow
Walk the sacred streets at twilight
Walk deep purple streets at midnight
And you do not walk alone

Buy Now:

Hotel Belmar: the Ghost Has the Key

is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats at: https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

ISBN:978-0-6921 139820 https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

The Author will have books at the First Friday Artwalk in Mazatlan. Click here to read reviews. Until then, going fast. Call 981-8072.

Other books by S.K.Carnes

ISBN:978-0692-84685-8 amxn.to/2nasO9S
Click description 
ISBN:987-0692-85172-2 http:bit.ly/SoldiersJourney Available in paperback, as an audiobook and e-book Silver Medal from Readers Favorite
ISBN:978-0-9718600 2008 Golden Moonbeam Award. Available from author Click description 

 

ISBN:978-0-9718600 2008 Golden Moonbeam Award. Available from author

On Laureates, the Sungod and Trees!

The above picture is a composite of polkadotedflower.deviantart.com and Franceso Albani from 1615.
Hooray! Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon is finally formatted in paper and available on Amazon.com. Whew. It is great to have completed this, my third book and second novel—a daunting task. And now that I have made an audiobook of The Way Back. A Soldier’s Journey, I know I can make Epiphany an audiobook too. I crown myself “Laureate of the Highest Order I Have Reached Yet!”
More crowns ahead.  I want to transform-branch out-radiate! I am not ready “to rest on my luarels.” Like I do when I write, I looked up the meaning of said saying, and found that I want to be like Daphne who originated “the look.” A good look for me! But let me explain. I hope you love stories like I do.
It seems that Apollo, the pre-Christian Greek god, loved the nymph Daphne who turned into a Bay Tree when he reached out to her. Voila! He embraced the plant, cut off a branch to make into a wreath to wear around his head, and declared the tree sacred. Of course such wreaths were given as accolades for lauded deeds like winning an Olympic game. Hence “laureates are recognized for completing some kind of wondrous task—like writing a novel. Resting on your laurels means laying back on what you have accomplished. Laying back does not thrill me.
I am hooked on rising up, Daphne style. Like a tree, I like to branch out.  Yep. It’s a fact that when a tree stops growing it begins to die. So, having tasted some success looking back on my own life, making sense of it and honing the skills to communicate my story, it is time to shift gears and begin again. Why? Because I want to be like Daphne the nymph. As long as the sun god shines on me, I am going to bloom. I like my companions in my writing group-their challenge, their support, and I know I belong because I can still give them something from my experiences to help them grow too. And then there is the excitement of researching my subject and putting together the ideas and stories around me into something new. And what I am not good at—the technology, the social networking, the marketing etc. etc.? Well that just means there is room for growth. And oh the view, the contacts, the heady warmth of Apollo coming close, the rays of the sungod shining through me—embracing me. Oh. What fun to learn.
No, the book is not the destination, but instead it is the funny thing that happens along the way to finishing it. Like the going is the getting there. Got it? Get  growing!
And just for the “lovely of it” here is the whole poem by Joyce Kilmer about a tree. The writer was a Daphne lover!
Trees  
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
 ___________________________________________

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back,
recently released in all e-book stores.

cover of The Way Back
New novel: The Way Back. To find it on Amazon Kindle at  http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney
Also as an Audio book at adbl.co/2f0UeOp      Soon to be Published in paper.
finalist-shiny-web5star-shiny-web

Legendary High Flyers

Above image: massively.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/riders-of icarus
I remember the story of the bird that stopped singing when put into a cage. With that in mind, I want to write about those who let their spirits soar, smashing through limitations. They walk among us!

HIGH FLIGHT

By John Gilesppi McGee Jr.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gilesppi McGee bounded from the cockpit of his plane with a scrap of paper in hand. The 18 yr. old American pilot for the Royal Canadian Airforce had jotted down a poem he called High Flight. It began,”Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth”  Young McGee wanted to fly in the Battle of Britain so much that he illegally crossed Canada’s border and began flight training for World War II. Three months later the young pilot/poet was dead, tragically killed test flying a super marine Spitfire.
I first heard McGee’s poem recited by the President of the United States following the tragic loss of Challenger 7 and her legendary crew.

We shall never forget them nor the last time we saw them, as they prepared for their mission and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.”—President Ronald Regan

pedro-at-dawnMazatlan has her heroes!  Every morning just at dawn, I walk past the memorial to Pedro Infante, a legend in bronze, that sits on a bluff overlooking the sea and Mazatlan Mexico where he was born. Pedro was an aviation fanatic and died in the crash of a war bomber he piloted. Another bronze statue is set in Mexico City made from the bronze keys of his fans. Two other such statues reside in Mexico. Pedro’s fame increased after his death. As Mexican American author, Denise Chavez, in her book “Loving Pedro Infante” put it humorously, “If you’re a [Mexican], and don’t know who he is, you should be tied to a hot stove with a yucca rope and beaten with sharp dry corn husks as you stand in a vat of soggy fideos.” Why? Because his spirt soared.  He was a high flyer!
new-pegasus I created this image for my soon to be published book Epiphany: Starting Over in Oregon which is about rising above fears.  It is my attempt to describe spirit that won’t be confined, as a silver Pegasus. My next book  will be about Mazatlan’s HOTEL BELMAR— the place of high flyers— fascinating  people who dared much, their fame increasing after death,  for such energy lives on. “We shall never forget them.”
Mazatlan was a favorite destination for Hollywood stars escaping prohibition and watchful eyes. Indeed, the Belmar was the first ocean front luxury hotel in Mexico that catered to the “tinsel town. ” John Wayne kept a room in the Belmar while he worked in Durango making movies. The Matinee idol Tyrone Power, a highly decorated Marine pilot in World War II, often played cards with the locals in the spacious game room.
0vt88-ieuieh1tpk5I found this picture of Errol Flynn high-up the mast of his beloved yacht that frequented the Mazatlan waterfront.  See it at The Hairpin.com: The scandals of Classic Hollywood: In Like Errol Flynn. I am collecting  more  pictures and legends of the Belmar Hotel in Sinaloa, Mazatlan, Mexico to share  in this Blog and in my new book.  Stay tuned…


Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back,
recently released in all e-book stores.

New novel: The Way Back. To find it on Amazon Kindle at  http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney
Also as an Audio book at adbl.co/2f0UeOp      Soon to be Published in paper.
finalist-shiny-web 5star-shiny-web

Endings and Beginnings

Last night, under a full Mexican moon, I watched lusty waves rise up flaunting emerald throats topped in foam, saw each one in turn roll over and crash spilling frothy bubbles a-shimmer in liquid glass onto Olas Altas Beach, as surfers, laughing children, families and lovers played in the ebb and flow of the great Pacific Ocean. Sort of like life. I thought. This place of beginnings and endings and goings on! And then I remembered a favorite song sung by a favorite singer Harry Chapin.

All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls through the nighttime, till the daybreak comes around
All my life’s a circle but I can’t tell you why
The season’s spinnin’ round again the years keep rollin’ by

I thought about the season of winter spinning round again, remembering what I had accomplished over summer. Yes, I finished my book Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon. It is out as a Kindle book:
amzn.to/2bFQnme
A reviewer calls it ” a story of endings and beginnings, heartache and humor, confusion and enlightenment.”

Over summer I learned how to make an Audiobook of my work of Historical Fiction set after World War I on my homeplace in Wisconsin: The Way Back. A Soldier’s Journey
Listen to a sample
Here.

Yesterday, I walked downtown to buy a frame for my latest oil painting. The old frame I found contains a canvas I can use to paint a new picture. I must get out my easel! And, as I trudged along carrying home my find, I thought about a new book rising up flaunting its throat of possibilities in my mind. What will this new season bring? Life is playing in the ebb and flow of beginnings and endings and I intend to jump right in and get into the swim.

And At the Top of My Bucket List Was "Make an Audiobook!"

I chose The Way Back. A Soldier’s Journey to narrate and record an audiobook. Like my second novel, Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon, it was based on events from my past, but I developed it as historical fiction as well, so that readers would learn about Post Traumatic Stress, the First World War, and the trials, triumphs and tribulations of dairy farming in Wisconsin during and after the Great Depression. But as I read my own descriptions, spoke the dialogue of my characters including my father and mother and myself as a child, and recited the eulogy of the great barn that was the stage for the drama, there happened this miracle. How would I describe it? It was like entering into and directing a dream I once had. And although it took all the brain power I could muster to learn the jargon of audio, taxed the friendship I had with knowledgeable friends, and severely rocked my relationship with my partner who has little patience for me working the computer while he is chopping wood and doing other (what he considers) meaningful tasks, IT WAS GREAT FUN!
I think I finally have all the details correct on this 11 Hr. 10 minute production and will begin uploading it today. Then, there will be 5 to 10 days of scrutiny, but barring a computer crash, The Way Back Audiobook is COMING SOON!

Red-Room.com
Contributed by RedRoom.com

Here is a Review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

 

Metaphors and Layers

Above image from:  http://www.themeshack.net/2010downloads/201001/0110/irene/blowingbubbleswp.jpg

The Audacity of Expression

The onion has many layers on the way to the juicy white heart of the thing. I heard that heaven had seven stories (give or take a few). Multilayering is found in  relationships, a piece of writing, dressing for the cold, meditation, and the metaphor. An oil painting done by a master will have layers of paint rich with colors shining through each other making for translucent opulence. Indeed, if a single flat color is set next to such layering, it might look unfinished but for the shimmer of the paper through it like a hole in a silk stocking. Pulsing. Vital. When one reads a love poem like “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/how-do-i-love-thee-sonnet-43 we discover the layers again. Each layer is important to the overall effect. Even words themselves carry multiple meanings as a dictionary can prove. Rich writing can be appreciated on different levels. An example is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. http://www.angelfire.com/hi/littleprince/frames.html
Life is layered. We can go deeper and deeper into the physical thing, and into the conceptual realm, digging for—digging for—what. Meaning? The essence? Reality beneath illusion? Something solid to have or believe in? And consider the metaphor, the meaning will be on several levels. Is life itself a metaphor?
And so I wrote a poem about my writing/digging/painting. It is a metaphor about the audacity of putting one’s self out there in the hope that, for a precious moment, we can catch a ride on the ebullience that transcends layers. I will remember along with Chief Seattle, that “All things share the same breath.”

Hitchhiking

I am blowing bubbles,
irridescent, and transparent,
trusting the air
to float them up
Rounded moonbeams,
rainbows spinning,
bursting, falling
I try again.
For like the Century Plant,
blooming before it dies,
It is the way for fools like me,
To hitchhike  on a breeze.
But see,
my bubbles catch the light.
That’s my breath
up there
trying to reach beyond myself.
 
All the way


While I chip away at the rock of editing and revising Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

An Oregon Kind of Love

 

As my new novel, Epiphany is being edited, I read and re-read it and let myself sink back into my own experiences that are the basis for what my character, Lori does and feels. My love poem to Oregon  appears on the last page. I wrote it to thank God, Oregon, and the friends and enemies I met, for teaching me more about love. Here are the last two stanzas of

“Love is too Small A Word”
For the gift of riding
Bucephalus unbridled
Singing quicksilver music
Soaring astride freedom
With no strings at all
No strings at all

Love is too small a word
For the light that shatters aloneness
And sets the universe spinning
Desire completing the circle
With no end at all
No end at all

_______________________________________________________

While I chip away at the rock of editing and revising Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

 

Follow The River Out: A Metaphor

Above Image: courtesy of Mark Chadwick on Flickr.

Have you ever been lost and “followed a river out?”
My new novel, Epiphany  is being edited at present, and will be published later this year.  This post is one of several about themes, metaphors, and story structure. Lori our protagonist,  writes poetry filled with metaphors, to bring clarity to her life. What follows is an excerpt using the “Western Star” and “the river” as a metaphor.
Lori has interviewed for a job as a school counselor in the Oregon Cascades. As she waits, hoping to be hired, she writes a poem about leaving Wisconsin and driving West.  The trip, just before Christmas was terrifying. She remembers how frightened she was.
Too heavy my load
Of doubt and disgrace
Too late for me
Fear lines my face
I am a wave
Without a tide
Dust in the wind
Hitching a ride
I sail the seas
Without a tac
Can’t find the wind
That takes me back
Lori had wanted to turn around.  The face of the blizzard at her heels scared her less than going forward into the unknown.  But then her car and trailer spins full circle out of control on Montana black ice.  Panic. The reality is, she can’t go back.
I CAN’T GO BACK
There’s no way back
There’s no home base
I’m out of time
I’m out of place
Lost in the dark!
Which way to run?
Where is my map?
Where is my sun?
How will I live?
Without a man?
Lean on myself?
Make my own plan?
A teamster drives his big Western Star truck up alongside and leans out to congratulate Lori on surviving. “Santa put Lady Luck in yer sock.”
She drives on to Eugene, Oregon, where she walks along the Willamette River, listening to the music of the river and making friends of like-minded strangers. Lori knows she has been granted a second chance at life.
If Lori is hired, she can build this new life in Lucky Strike, Oregon. Her dream is happening. She goes to sit by the river, letting the restorative water wash away her fear of moving on. She thinks about what her father had told her, “when lost, follow the river out.”The last two stanzas of her poem reflect the role of a river as a metaphor for finding her way.
Across the prairies
Ore mountains-crest
Follow the river
On her sea quest
The pioneer spirit
Like Oregon’s rain
Refreshes my courage
To start over again


While I chip away at the rock of editing and revising Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

Invictus: An Epiphany For Holy Week

Photo by Mega Mike  https://www.flickr.com/photos/topick/6342953521

INVICTUS

I am the Master of my fate. I am the Captain of my Soul.”

An unconquerable soul! Now there’s a theme especially appropriate for Easter time! In my new book  Epiphany, (presently being edited) Lori our protagonist, struggles with this larger than life concept. And, in the light of forgiveness, she glimpses the meaning. Sometimes that moment when it all makes sense passes us by, but we remember that it is there—waiting for us to be ready to know it. And so, Lori, obedient to my writing, prints out a card:  I am the Master of my fate. “I am the Captain of my Soul.” and keeps it with her.
Consider this: she has printed out the last two lines, but there is more to this poem and a story about the Author, William Ernest Henley.  At age 12, Henley had a leg amputated just below the knee due to arthritic tuberculosis and his other foot barely saved by surgeries. He lost his father as a teenager.  And so, his poem begins:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Before he knew his real strength, he had been brought down and severely tested. The façade we all live behind, trying to protect our weakness, was broken by the “bludgeonings of chance.” This same sort of thing has happened to many of our great spiritual teachers. Shamans and healers often have suffered near-death experiences before they find their power. Notice the dreaded tarot card the Tower depicting this soul level journey.
tower
It is useful to remember that the Tarot is divided into Major Arcana (the journey of the soul) and Minor Arcana (the drama of the embodied).
The horrific happenings in Henley’s life gave him the experience to  write about his own unconquerable soul, found at the depth of his pain.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Like the captain of a ship is responsible for his decisions: the course he charts, the skills he learns and uses, he must also surrender to the mood of the ocean, the tides, the storms and catastrophes that befall him. But can these things destroy him? Henley says no.
If I were to distill all I have experienced, thought, and written, into a single sentence, the last two lines of Invictus would be it. Indeed, my character Lori keeps these words with her. Yes, the experience that spurred Henley to write this poem is profound, and is still beyond my grasp except as a glimpse. I can thank my own suffering of wrath and tears for this illusive epiphany.  But, I shrink and shiver at the idea of Christ’s crucifixion to rise again. Maybe at the end of days for me,  I can wrap my mind around it. Let it flow through me to hold it tight to me. Ah—the paradox we call life.


While I chip away at the rock of editing and revising Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.