At Play on the Reef

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At Play On The Reef
by Philip Scott Wikel (Waikoloa)

 

A south swell strums softly
across the reef
it’s summer in winter
if only in brief

the coral is tickled
and surfing kids rise
anticipating the rush and
the thrill of a ride

They stand on the tide
the white curling mist
with whistling spindrift
a swirl and a hiss

They giggle and wriggle
and manage the glide
become one with the ocean
and feed their insides

For a child it’s pure
no hinderance of vision
they feel everything at once
and know only their mission

to ride salty waves
to smile and cheer
today is the best day
“the swell is here”

www.mauisaltandsage.com

Puka Hunting

Puka Hunting

by Philip Scott August

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We comb the beach for pukas

we are fishers of shells bound

by love’s umbilical

as we sift, scratch, and dig for treasure

I go to one end

and she the other

meeting in the middle

we find ourselves children again

and blend as friends and lovers

we make a competition of it

and I declare the lead

yet very quickly the duel is lost

to awe, and the exaltation of discovery

she, me, we, sand, sun and surf

the light of the eternal tryst

a fusion in time unbridled

Beyond Illiteracy: Cultural Illiteracy

The-New-Dictionary-of-Cultural-Literacy-9780618226474Sure the average American can read a newspaper. But do they have the curiosity or the open mindedness to read about foreign cultures? Of course the word foreign here is used loosely as, given the diversity of cultures represented in the American population, foreign should not really be foreign to any American anymore.

What I’m saying is: If you’re not learning about “foreign” cultures then you don’t have any idea what many of your neighbors believe in or care about. How can America truly be a “melting pot” if the average American refuses to melt into it?

To say what is truly American has to now mean what do we know about the ever-widening cross-section of diverse cultures in our midst. There is no longer the excuse that we haven’t traveled abroad, therefore we don’t know or understand the outside world. The outside world has come to our doorstep. Will we choose to open the door and let them in or will we draw the blinds and pretend we’re not home like so many recluses who refuse to hand out candy on Halloween?

With the advent of the internet and doing simple google searches, we no longer have the excuse of simple and convenient ignorance. It’s all right there at your fingertips and the excuse of being ill-traveled is no excuse at all.

American ambassadors may have opened doors to the outside world, but has the average American opened their minds to it? If Americans were half as interested in cultural literacy as they are childishly titillated by homosexuality, we’d be getting somewhere.

In The Mind Of Hemingway

ernesthemingwayIn The Mind Of Hemingway by Philip Scott Wikel

I think I’ll go out like Hemingway
no point in being 80
decrepit and dependent
unbalanced life and weighty

I think I’ll go out like Hemingway
before the age decays
me into something that’s nothing
and everything a haze

I think I’ll go out like Hemingway
clean and fast and true
no IV’s or life support
no succumbing to the zoo

I think I’ll go out like Hemingway
a flash and crack of light
involutionary psychosis
be damned to do what’s right

Some of the Books I like, and of course I think everyone should read

C218_great_literature_300x200Some of the books I like, and of course I think everyone should read cuz I’m a book snob like that.

Catcher in the Rye – all time favorite cuz I’ll always be 90% troubled teenager and 10% Adult Moron.

A Moveable Feast – cuz old Hem (I hope you don’t mind I call him. In my mind we’re good like that) is just the most, to say the least. It’s littered with writing secrets and romantic portraits of a simpler time.

The Red and The Black – It’s just an amazing intellectual mind-bender, when I’m in the mood for that (not sure if that mood is a good one). Makes me feel all high-minded and superior.

Winesburg, Ohio – painfully profound depictions of regular folks caught up in the goings-on of real life

On The Road – pure fun and adventure across The Great American Continent. Makes me want to play sax, smoke cigarettes, eat apple pie, hitchhike and jump in a boxcar heading west.

The Great Gatsby – I just love a story about a guy who wants to better himself, no matter how tragic and mixed up his motives are.

Their Eyes Were Watching God – deeply soulful, gave me great insight into the inner-workings of a woman’s soul. Don’t get me wrong, women are still a mystery to me.

Walden – who the hell hasn’t wanted to cut loose and go it alone in their lives? I spent 4 months living in a tent on the beach and felt very close to old Henry. Wish I could write like him.

Billy Budd – great moral dilemma. This is the kind of discourse that could replace bible study. Supremely didactic and insightful. Oops, there I go getting all opinionated again.

Dharma BumsSee On The Road and add buddhism and the great outdoors.

East of Eden – Another great moral dilemma but spoon fed in a sweeping and pleasant writing style that only Steinbeck could manage.

Continue reading “Some of the Books I like, and of course I think everyone should read”

Ticket to Ride, Chapter 1, full book available on amazon

Ticket to Ride

Prologue

Just Another Day – Livy Tinsley

To lead a better life, I need my love to be here.

– from “Here, There And Everywhere” by the Beatles

As the sun was setting over the Pacific Islands, casting it’s multi-color, thousand shaded dance on the faces of people she would never know, if only through the stories of a future, decade away lover, Olivia Tinsley (Livy) was waking to the new day. North London, having yet shed its coal-smoke past, greeted the morning like a stepmother embracing an unwanted child. But Livy’s spirit was above this, stepmother or not, she was connected to the morning. Her world was never just East Finchley. Hers was all that the equator bisected and all that lay between the poles. And while only a young girl, she knew she would bring them all to see this.

This particular morning, Saturday, December 17, 1967, was Livy’s birthday. She was turning ten today, double-digits, the first step toward young womanhood and the springtime of Psyche.

Trudy would be waiting. And the two friends, connected by a vision that stretched beyond the High street and market day, would walk above what others saw. Today their trek would take them to the Thames, a river which, in both their minds, led to the all of the oceans of the world.

They met at the corner as they did on so many other mornings, liberated from the utilitarian drabness of their council-flat homes. (This drabness should be seen as only the narrator’s point of view because neither girl could be “bothered” with pigeonholing themselves as being poor.) Poverty was something they saw in their parents’ eyes. It scared them, like the [Boogie Man], and solidified in them, a desire to not be poor, at least in spirit, and dreams. Dreams were what they had, a warm cloak against the morning air and their protection against their mother’s insistent urging to dress more warmly. The only warmth Livy needed today was what she saw in the floppy-haired eyes of Paul McCartney. The Beatles were in full force and she saw in them, especially in Paul, the promise of the world outside; a world full of Europe, America and the power of words to make change. Continue reading “Ticket to Ride, Chapter 1, full book available on amazon”

World Leader Pretend

I recently felt forced to defend Ticket to Ride and it came out sounding snobbish and arrogant. If anyone felt put off, you have my apology. Having a popular blog can lead to all sorts of weirdness, like thinking you’re more than just another guy with a laptop. It’s not the first time I’ve taken myself a little too seriously. Perhaps Michael Stipe from REM said it best in the song World Leader Pretend:

This is my world
And I am world leader pretend
This is my life
And this is my time

I have been given the freedom
To do as I see fit
It’s high time I razed the walls
That I’ve constructed

And then there’s this from the U2 song Stand Up Comedy:

Josephine, be careful of small men with big ideas

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Livy, Exceptional or Impossible?

KeiraKnightley3It seems the greatest controversy among the readers of Ticket to Ride is the believability of the first chapter. Without giving away what it is exactly, (I don’t want to spoil the book for those who have yet to read it), I will say there is an interesting dichotomy between the two camps. And I must preface the following statement with a caveat: I mean no offense.

In speaking to, and discussing this topic with, those on both sides, I’ve discovered that most readers with college degrees (and actually studied for them) find it very believable, no questions asked. Those who don’t find it believable, in general, have not furthered their education.

This is interesting to me because I believe it underscores one of the greatest problems we face in the 21st Century: Can we understand each other’s points-of-view if we come from largely different economic and educational backgrounds? Many of you will say: yes, of course, look at the progress we’ve made in terms of the acceptance of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Perhaps the next greatest obstacle will be in America becoming the “class-less” society that is, or was, the ideal of so many early Americans. Can the “blue-collar” class see eye to eye with the “white-collar” class and vice versa? Is the decline of the “middle-class” a factor? Should the “blue-collar” class seek only that level of education that Thomas Jefferson said was “necessary to their station in life?” Or is it that everyone in America could benefit from a classical education beyond our high schools? The next question might be: Would this make seeing eye-to-eye more likely or would further education make the “blue-collar” class feel more deserving, and justifiably so, of a better position in life, and therefore create greater tension? Given the current economic stratification of our society, there is no room for everyone to become a manager, or an owner, or a CEO. So would further education “spoil” those in that part of our society who, by virtue of our society’s structure, are destined to stay “blue-collar” and therefore, by their refusal to accept their station, create a hole that could only be filled by migrant workers or those who shrug off the notion that more of anything is better (in this case education). And given our societal model, someone also has to be unemployed. Who would that be in this new model? Perhaps the shift would be that the unemployed would be made up largely of this newly educated “blue-collar” class who has found no “upward” mobility. This raises two more questions: Might there be room in a future America for everyone to attain the “American Dream?” And further, should we want to attain it? These questions push the discussion into more philosophical waters and the subsequent questions become perhaps more abstract and Thoreauvian, or, esoteric in nature.

Needless to say the question of class is a tough one and, since I don’t have all the answers, and it’s probable that no one does, I will leave you with this: My uncle Russ, God rest his soul, made the following statement quite a few times in my life and the gist of it stuck. He said, (and I’m paraphrasing here), “whatever you decide to do or be in life, try to be the most educated one. Whether you’re a plumber or a carpenter or a chemist or an accountant, always try to better yourself by furthering your education.” Having heard this for the first time probably twenty-five years ago, I still can’t find any problems with his statement.

And it’s really too bad that the average American and, for that matter, the average World Citizen has allowed themselves, voluntarily or otherwise, to become the illiterate majority, not unlike those in the dark ages who could be made content with pretty pictures and the “Word of God.”

And as always, I must say: As much as I appreciate you’re reading my book, bear in mind I receive no royalties from it since the government has seen fit to embezzle all proceeds from all of my creative works via digital syphons.

The Third Time Is So Much More Than Charming

In addition to the blessing of being able to sleep in on Father’s Day, bestowed upon me by my son and, aside from the fact that he’s the best kid in the world, I, yesterday, was also given one of the best gifts a writer can receive. A reader of mine came into my place of employ, and told me that, not only had she enjoyed Ticket to Ride, but had just finished reading it for the second time and was now going home to enter into it for a third.

It’s moments like these that writers live, and write, for. Thank you Rebecca, you made my day, and my week for that matter. I may now have to enter into the daunting task of finishing the sequel. If for no other reason, but that readers like Rebecca will eventually tire of the first. What a wonderful dilemma. This will go along way in dispelling that terrible writer’s disease called doubt. (Please see “When the Amazing Happens” for more about Rebecca).

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The Tao of Now

When writing a story the five most important questions to consider are Who, What, Where, When and Why. And while I feel quite comfortable that I covered these questions, it seems many are getting “hung up” on the When.

Yes, Ticket to Ride takes place in the 70s but that has really very little to do with the What and Why. I originally attempted to make this story “timeless,” meaning, I didn’t want to anchor it in a time period for fear of diminishing the overall impact of the story. It was only in about the middle of the process that I realized that perhaps only poetry can be offered up in this way. Without the When Ticket to Ride would have been quite vague and, for lack of a better word, foundation-less.

In Ticket to Ride there are countless themes and “lessons,” if you will, that are timeless and therefore meaningful to any generation. So as you’re reading please bear in mind that the simple elements of the story like people and names are interchangeable (President Carter, can be substituted with President Obama) but the overriding themes like longing for connection and understanding are timeless. In the 10,000 or so years of “civilization” men and woman have faced the same questions about life and living that we do today. We may have cell phones and televisions and DVD players but our souls and our very existence on this planet remain almost entirely unchanged with respect to our search for meaning.