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Remember the day God created the world?

We were all there

           dancing

           in glory

           like children

           our beauty

           like flowers

           whirling

           in the wind.

Then God spoke a word.

We first saw it

           a small dot in God’s hand,

           we all gathered around,

           What is that?

Then it exploded

           caught those of us

           too close

           into itself

           into whirling

           scattered

           seeds

           of

life.

 

© 2017 David W. Jones

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Just finished reading Gail M. Baugniet’s short story contribution to the anthology, “Controlling Destiny”. (Gail’s many other contributions such as coordinating the anthology, mentoring authors and editing, doing the design and layout, planning the marketing, etc, while simultaneously being Sisters In Crime chapter president AND managing her own career as author of the excellent Pepper Bibeau mystery series – are astounding!)

It’s possibly the best written of all the stories. Despite including much more than most of the stories, it’s very tightly done. Not a wasted word anywhere.

The narrator, a freelance journalist delightfully named Cacao (as a chocoholic, I heartily approve!), briefly meets a homeless woman (Remy) who is murdered a day later.

The mystery isn’t about the murder. Who did it and why is perfectly clear, with the perp in jail pending trial. The fact of pending trial makes Cacao’s investigation much tougher than the usual PI investigation because NOBODY will talk and risk tainting the trial.

The mystery is about how the homeless woman ended up on the streets. The answer isn’t any of the clichés or stereotypes about homeless people. Read this story and think about it before you go believing the crap Fox News and the malignancy known as the Republican Party spout about the homeless and the poor.

It’s set in a very realistic contemporary Honolulu, including how our local newspaper monopoly refuses to pay its reporters living wages. (Speaking of the poor.)

There’s a nice thematic connection between the end of Remy’s family, Cacao’s own extended family, and what might someday turn into a relationship/family of her own with a local police officer. Being set in Hawaii, where family and extended family is very important, added a cultural background that made this come through even more for me.

So go buy a copy of Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha, and enjoy this story. And ping a thanks to Gail at her blog, Gail M. Baugniet – Author.

This being National Poetry Month, I visited Poets.org and subscribed to their Poem-a-day email. They send out a wide range of poetry – everything from the 1700 up to the very present day. So I’ve read a poem each day.

Most of the poetry was contemporary, in a variety of styles. Pretty much every poet was a college professor who makes a living by teaching poetry. And pretty much all of the poems were – in my opinion – deliberately written to be obscure, inaccessible, even meaningless to ordinary people.

Just like the poetry written and published 40-50 years ago by the professors I studied with back then.

I think I understand why the “professor poets” were so jealous and angry when Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for poetry. Dylan’s poetry is for ordinary people.

The High Academics of Poetryland, dwelling at the peaks of their isolated towers, don’t want the lowly peons from below to have poetry. They write poetry for each other, the few people worthy of their exalted, refined, infinitely unpoetic poetry.

Therefore they’ve set out to strangle or stomp out any poetry that springs up outside their towers.

Bah. Poetry that requires page after academic page of exigesis to communicate its meaning to a reader – is dead.

So – advice to poets. Read even dead poetry. But WRITE LIVING POETRY!

Since I wrote this story, all I’ll say about it is, it’s clearly the most GLORIOUS story in the anthology. Anyone in their right mind will agree. (If they don’t agree, they aren’t in their right minds and probably voted for Trump, anyway, so they’re hopeless in darkness and do not have the Light of Glory dwelling in them, anyway.)

So go buy the Dark Paradise anthology in paperback. Then you can read and annotate this thoughtful, complex excursion into the darkest parts of the human psyche, that has much to say about the complicated relationship between the individual and the moral code forced on us by our society. (Remember, we learn our culture’s behavioral codes before we’re even conscious. Anthropology 101.)

You’ll want to stand the paperback copy up by your bed, open to this story, so it will be the last thing you see before sleep and the first thing you see upon waking. (Building a shrine and making offerings is optional.) Then go buy the ebook and consult it for wisdom and guidance throughout your day.

Thereby will your life be transformed, and that of all those with whom you come in contact be made GLORIOUS, forever and ever. Amen.

Unlike “Drifting,” the people in this story are going somewhere: crossing the channel from Molokai. One is swimming, the other two are escorting him.

One main thing I liked about it is that its core is a man-woman friendship. A friendship, not a “turning into a romance”-ship. Refreshing against the popular backdrop that the only relationship between men and women is sexual.

The style is very clear and involving, the characters realized in depth. The mystery isn’t so much “who dun it” as “how will the bad guy do it”. You try commiting a murder at sea between the islands without being spotted!

So go buy the Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha and find out. You won’t regret reading this story

Now this one I have some issues with. It’s rich and detailed and the main character (and narrator for most of the story) is uniquely himself. There’s a murder in it (but little mystery). The end wasn’t a surprise for me; it was inevitable.

My issues? It presents the main character (a mentally-challenged, perhaps autistic, man) as stupid and murderously violent. It presents a “surfer dude” as even stupider. It has a local man make fun of the main character as a “pupule haole” (crazy white) just because the main character looks at the local man’s daughter.

Perhaps the story is meant satirically, but to me it’s one bigotted, malicious clichè after another. And that’s what made the ending inevitable.

Don’t agree with my ‘issues’? Go buy the anthology, check this story out for yourself, and see what you think. There are many stories in the anthology worth reading, so feel free to skip over this one.