From Guest Post

No More Hallelujahs

by Mark Kodama

photo credit: pixabay

No More Hallelujahs is a beautiful and ruminative work of memory and emotion and of lost chances and hopes by poet Ann Christine Tabaka. It is her tenth book of poetry.

Although at times melancholy, the twenty-one poems of the chapbook seem to me to be an honest and truthful look in the rearview mirror of journey we call life. They are great stories that speak to our deepest selves.

One of my favorite works was “Be Who You Are,” which takes the standard cliché on being authentic and standing it on its head into a wonderful paean on aspiring to be something greater than oneself:

“Be who you are” they say.
But who I am
is not who I
want to be . . .
dream to be . . .
need to be . . .
I desire to be so much more.

I also enjoyed the haunting rhythmic sadness of “Beyond the Pale”

Truth that tells beyond the telling,
A past that fades beyond the past
Turning away from myself,
I hide within my skin.

Here is “I Remember Her” about the author’s mother. I love the wonderful details:

She held no malice,
spoke no hate.
though tortured was her lot.
She faded from existence
just as she arrived,
alone and unnoticed
by all but me.
I remember her
standing there
with outstretched arms.

Perhaps that should be all of our epitaphs in these days of celebrity worship and narcissistic self-gratification. We all can aspire to making this a better world in more modest ways and it would be an additional bonus to be at the same time truly appreciated by at least one person.

Here is another piece called “Forgotten Man” that I found particularly moving. The use of metaphors and the imagery was absolutely magical:

Dust motes dance on sunlight
streaming through a dingy window.
Rusty mailbox, empty, always empty.
Cadaverous cobwebs mocking
back at him from a peeling wall.
He sits alone in his room, sifting
through dim memories of a once
vibrant life. His wife is gone, adult
children too busy to visit, friends
moved far away. Yet in his hands
proof that his life was once
real . . . .”

If you love poetry I think you will love this chapbook. I close with “Lessons Learned”

I live my life in lonely solitude,
Remembering what could have
been, if only I knew then . . .
never let go of what you love.

The chapbook is published by Allen Buddha Press and available through Amazon.

Short Story Lovers: the Inner Circle Writer’s February Magazine is Full of Fresh, Exciting Stories

Reviewed by Mark Kodama

I just finished reading the Inner Circle Writers’ Magazine’s debut edition released by Clarendon Publishing House in February, 2019.  It is the best single magazine edition I have ever read on the craft of writing.

The magazine was written by the Inner Circle Writers’ Group and edited by Grant P. Hudson.  The magazine features articles by Steve Carr on his life as a writer of short stories and getting published, Dennis Doty on avoiding the shredder, Warren Alexander on writing humorous pieces, Gary Bonn on character development, and Samantha Hamilton on commas and a critique of two poems about London by Grant Hudson.  The magazine also has a nice review on Southern writer Eudora Welty by Copper Rose and a poem about poetry by Shawn Klimek.

Steve Carr lives in Richmond, Virginia and has recently published four short story anthologies: Sand, Heat, Rain and The Tales of Talker Knock.  Carr seems to have done everything: Army and Navy, playwright and author.

He recently released his book Getting Your Short Stories Published. “For most of us, there’s a place we fall in love with – South Dakota was that place for me.  While in classes, I was studying English literature and theater; outside of school whenever I had a chance I was hiking the plains and forests of the western part of the state.  The images of the scenery and thefeel of South Dakota has remained with me from that time . . . .”    

The magazine, brimming with stories and writing advice, also features unforgettable stories by David Bowmore and Jill Kiesow, as well as by authors previously mentioned. These are modern contemporary writers of the fine art of telling stories.  My very favorite was “The Coyotes,” by Kiesow – a short story that equals any story done by the ‘short story masters’ Jack London, Steven Crane, Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Alan Poe:

“She almost smiled, but it was too solemn of a rite, this holy gathering of magical creatures: part modern dog, part antiquity, part madness.  These resourceful individuals were those tricky enough to escape man’s reach but still feed on his land and take advantage of his backbreaking work. Opportunistic bastards, her husband and neighbors called them.  Miracles of nature, Celeste would counter, clearing her throat and forcing herself to stand taller under their disapproving glances.”

Master storyteller Gary Bonn’s short story Still Alive: “He is watching Isbell.  She’s been here a long time and has settled in completely.  She’s racing through the water, plunging over a fall, crashing among the rocks, shrieking with laughter – showing the other children what to do.  Showing off kindly.  She becomes the motion, the speed, the roces at one moment chaotic and in the next ordered.  Tangled and untangled.”

There is also great art by Anja Hata and Grant Hudson who drew Macbeth in a Marvel comic strip-like form and sketched the author J.R.R. Tolkien.  While some purists may be offended by seeing Shakespeare in comic strip form, I loved it.  It is a great form to make Shakespeare accessible to the masses and especially to children and child-like adults.

For those that love the word as I do, you will be pleased to know the art of the word is still alive and embodied in the works of these very gifted writers. The magazine is available on line at Clarendon Publishing House.  I cannot wait for the second month to be published.  I hope that the Inner Circle Writers’ Group can sustain what it has started.