Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Never Saw It Coming

I Never Saw It Coming

Mind matter rat-tat-tatting
rushing, pushing, clock on the run,
responsibility wails.
Destiny calls
and the car pool cometh.
Screen door creaks wide
to reveal obstinate lingering stars
amidst frowning moon faces.
Stretched to attention
I remain oblivious
to humid air assaulting my face
in discontented slaps.
Mind matter rat-tat-tatting
rushing, pushing, clock on the run,
until a graceful nudge
of warm light hovers 
next to my shadow pulsating
with daybreak tremors.
I never saw it coming.

©JO Janoski 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let Us Be Like Children at Christmastime

William Bouguereau-Angels Playing Violin

Let Us Be Like Children at Christmastime

Children watching night skies lit with hope's light
while angels watch, their hearts ablaze with love
bestowing magic on this special night.

Oh wondrous eve when angels sing above
of sweet rewards for children, young and old,
of innocence maintained for all beloved.

Rewarded with children's joy to behold
in their laughter gifted by angels near
Christmas magic through children's voices told.

©2008 JO Janoski

A WordCatalyst Workshop Prompt

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturdays Are For Singing

Hein Van Den Heuvel - Forest Path

Saturdays Are For Singing

Saturdays I gather up my music
like broken glass off the ground
where it's been scattered
by those other days
of numbing voices
that punch
in solid thumps that
bully and break fragile things
into exploded parts.
I follow yesterday's shards
to Saturday sanctuary
in a still green forest
where nature's heartbeats hum
scattering sunlight pulses
like soft music
punctuated by green leafy dancers
racing along rustic bark scales
in a symphony of glorious joy
where I may humbly join the chorus
to sing again.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

A WordCatalyst Workshop Prompt

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Duck Who Couldn't Swim

Mother's Helper by Henry G. Plumb

A children's story for a Word Catalyst prompt.

The Duck Who Couldn't Swim

Charlie jiggled his turned-over straw hat above the water barrel with quick, gentle movements. In a flurry of white feathers and orange beaks and feet, two more baby ducklings plopped into the water. One last bird remained in the over-turned hat, that 'quacker' edging backwards to avoid a tumble to the cold water below. Charlie shook the hat with more vigor, but the duckling remained clutching the hat innards for dear life.

"Hey! What are you doing?" the little duck squawked, fluttering and struggling to cling to the prickly straw.

"I'm fixin' to teach ya how to swim!" the boy replied executing more strenuous attempts to dislodge the bird.

Mama Duck stood by, a disagreeable expression on her face, not that we humans can see different expressions on duck faces since they basically pretty much all look the same to us, but other ducks know. Not to be ignored Mama rustled her feathers with a vengeance that almost toppled her off the platform where she stood. The boy ignored her.

"Hey! Leave my little Fuzzy alone!" she finally screeched, flapping her wings for emphasis.

The boy looked back with wide eyes, his face etched in innocent lines. "I thought you said I could teach the kids how to swim."

"Yeah, but Fuzzy is different. He's afraid of the water!"

"Pfft! That's stupid! Whoever heard of a duck that's afraid of water?"

Little Fuzzy, hearing this, stiffened his feathery little body while stifling a tear. "I can't help it!" he whimpered.

Mama Duck shot him a concerned smile, then turned to gaze again at the boy. Fuzzy's brothers and sisters giggled as they paddled around in the water barrel. His oldest brother, Chester, flapped his webbed foot and splashed water on Fuzzy's face. This erupted a new round of laughter from the ducklings as they paddled faster and showed off.

"Children, stop it!" Mama Duck hissed. She turned her attention back to Fuzzy and Charlie. "What Fuzzy needs is a gentle touch."

"Huh? But this is how my dad taught me to swim. He pushed me off the pier and said, 'Swim, boy! Swim or die trying.' He told me some things just come natural."

"Oh, how ghastly!" Mama Duck turned a paler shade of white, not that we humans can tell when a duck turns a paler shade of white since different shades of white on ducks look basically pretty much the same to us, but other ducks know.

"Don't I get a say in this?" Fuzzy asked.

"Mmmm, no, I don't think so. My pop didn't let me say anything. He just pushed me in the water and that was that."

"NO!" Mama Duck flapped her wings again. "Let me show you! Get out of the pool, kids!"

Fuzzy's brothers and sister scrambled to get out of the water barrel as Mama Duck flapped up to roost on the barrel edge. "Now, Fuzzy, you jump on my back."

The little duck obeyed.

"Now I'm going to ease into the water and you can watch how I paddle my feet to swim. Ready?"

Fuzzy trembled in fear and his pretty feathers turned that paler shade of white, the one we humans can't discern because we're not ducks. Mama duck paddled in circles like the pro that she was. Fuzzy held on to her back for dear life, fearful he would fall off.

"See, Fuzzy! It's easy. Now I'm going to dip down and set you off on your own so you can try."

"Mama, NO!" Fuzzy flapped his wings and got so excited he almost fell off Mama's back.

"Are you sure that duck's not a chicken?" Charlie asked, hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels as he chuckled.

"My Fuzzy is a brave little duck!" Mama Duck squawked.

"Well, let's see how brave he is!" Charlie said. With one finger, he reached over and flicked the little bird into the water.

Fuzzy couldn't have been more surprised. not that we humans could tell, because duck expressions look all the same to us, as we determined previously. The little bird flipped and flapped and fluttered until he realized he wasn't sinking. He'd begun moving his feet back and forth without even thinking about it. Floating and swimming came naturally to him! He was swimming just like a little duck should.

"Mama, look! I'm swimming!"

"That's my boy!" Mama Duck smiled, not that we humans could tell...well, you already know all about that duck expression business.

"See!" Charlie said. "Some things just come natural."

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Photographing Winter Landscapes

Winter landscapes speak for themselves. Snow filters down in a whisper and paints a sea of lush white. The world is transformed to a wonderland, bringing back joyful childhood memories even to the most disagreeable old fogy. So how do you capture winter's soft-spoken demeanor? Think like an artist, noting shading, light, form, and gesture.

First, the tranquil...freshly laid snow, undisturbed and pristine, soft and quiet...a real heart stopper for the wandering soul who dons winter gear and faces the elements. First, what not to do, and that is to go out in glaring sunlight to take snow pictures. It is loud. it is brass. And it glares, making contrasty pictures that assault the eye.

Instead, I like to choose either early morning or late day when sunlight is soft. In the evening on clear days, in particular, the sun renders a soft orange illumination, which combined with open shade brings the snow to life. If the sun comes out, it is a soft touch, giving the land a glowing new perspective with softly defined lines between sun and shade.

Well, that's what the eyes sees. Bringing it to the picture is not as stellar because that soft glow is lost and flattened in the two-dimensional world of a photograph. But shooting in soft light is always a good thing. In this case, rustic tree bark and sun-goldened shrubbery can take on a detailed, interesting contrast to pure white snow. But be careful with your f-stop. Automatic metering registers "normal" as neutral gray to cover all situations. (Hey, generalization is what automation is all about). So you may want to open up a stop or check the setting on your digital camera for a white balance setting to get sparkling white snow instead of dingy gray.

Second, the harsher side of winter...I like to go close up to emphasize the season's icy aspects. Filling the frame with a twig encased in a frozen droplet or a study of snow on trees or fence posts can produce interesting results. Think like an artist to bring your theme home. A snowy fence post leading into the center of the picture is ultimately more interesting than one which runs across the frame horizontally. Snow-covered trees have form and gesture. Some trees, stately and majestic, hold their own while others speak volumes in groupings that fill the frame like dancers on a stage. My point is looking at this new snow-world has much to offer, not only in the normal view, but also in the world close-up or even impressionistic.

Finally, as the day comes to a close, winter's drama is at hand in a glowing sunset view with long shadows stretched across the snow in a blazing light. The setting sun puts the winter landscape to sleep in a beautiful power play that shows the both of best worlds. Be sure to catch this magic moment, and hurry, because it doesn't last for long.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Friday, December 05, 2008

Brainstorming on a Winter Afternoon

Winter Harmony by John Henry Twachtman

Brainstorming on a Winter Afternoon

Pastel ideas loosely unhinged abound
insouciant parade of hues
set free, not caring to be found

Whirling notions dripping fresh dew
tinting, dabbing inspired rush
in splotches of fresh concepts new.

Glistening swirls soft-touched and hushed
humming new songs heady rhythm
in winter's harmony, unrushed.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

New Prompt at WordCatalyst Workshop

New Prompt at WordCatalyst Workshop--a short story (with poem option) for the first of the month. This prompt runs all month.

Monday, December 01, 2008

WordCatalyst December Issue is Live

A new issue of WordCatalyst magazine is out, with first-rate prose, poetry, art, and photos for your enjoyment. Here is a snippet from my column, Tales of Whisper Gap:


Rain pelted concrete, smashing against stone to send droplets flinging through the air like giggling children at play. But three figures huddled below the underpass stayed warm and dry. They'd built a tiny fire from newspapers gathered at a nearby bus stop, warming their hands under its minuscule flames. A new day was dawning on the city.

"Supposed to get colder and colder all day," Rock commented. "I read it in that paper before we burned it."

His massive hands rubbed together over the pyre with short, abrupt motions. Muscular arms propelled the movement while his huge body strained to stay in a crouching position. As if to prove him right, the rain proceeded to pound harder on the bridge above, as the water transformed to a disagreeable sleet, stronger, sassier than simple rain.

Millie wrapped a hole-ridden blanket tighter around her tiny torso. Her wrinkled hands rubbed skinny arms to warm them, next pulling a filthy knit cap down over her ears. "I'm hungry. My sweet tooth is driving me crazy."

Rock shot her a worried glance. He didn't have the courage to admit it, but the little lady reminded him of his grandmother. She never said why she was homeless, but they'd taken her in and given her a safe haven. Millie remained a source of amusement and cheer in their little group.

Sam, the other fellow, laid down the tattered book he was reading, his face illuminated with an idea. "Is today Sunday? There's a bake sale at St. Anthony's."

Rock kicked the burning embers to reveal the last untouched news pages. He squinted to read the charred pieces, scanning for a headline. "Yeah. It's Sunday!"

"Let's go," Millie said. ...More