Review of Scraped Knees by Kristine Brown – Michael Rush

Michael Rush has written quite a thorough review of my collection of poems and flash stories. I give Mr. Rush and Forage Poetry great thanks for their time in receiving my work and sharing the goodness others create. Forage just released their last issue. Please give them a visit and peruse the entire archive. The showcase is truly something.

Additionally, if you’re interested in purchasing a signed copy of Scraped Knees, feel free to let me know. Again, thanks for your support. Happy Monday.

++++It would be easy to label Scraped Knees as a collection on growing up. It would be easy to see its poetry and prose about someone finding their voice, then connect it to your own upbringing and drift back into personal moments of discovering the world. Yet for me Scraped Knees is much more; it is a book of contrasts. A collection of poetry and prose which can speak from the perspective of the young, but do it with a more mature voice. Wonder is mixed with rationality and realism. Expectation mingles with disappointment. We experience some lighter moments, but there is a weight to carry with us both before and after that lightness.

++++Anemic Disappointment would be an example of that weight as the speaker’s uncoordinated efforts are further highlighted by her Mother’s reminder of her own athletic exploits. Yet it’s not the rebukes or even the…

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at the office

“I’m intelligent. I listen to Bach.”

And so the ridiculous could never touch you.

It wasn’t so long ago, when you sat on a couch with cushions left sticky. Your mother’s planner poked out of her medium handbag, cyan Post-its murmuring dates upon dates of appointments you both wished weren’t necessary. Your laugh rang clear while her face remained blank and still like the walls that stood for nearly four decades. Still unattended. No one in town knew how to paint.

The TV lodged in the dustiest corner played Chicken Little on repeat. It didn’t annoy either of you, because only someone who was hopelessly out of this world would disagree that the sky was falling. Your mom tapped the pen against her cheek, resolved to prove that one day, you would become more than the world while of course, you knew everything about what it could offer.

Does the child show a fixation with violence and gore?

She sighed and you counted the ant bites around your ankles. A big red marker might’ve worsened the itch. You loved connecting the dots. You loved drawing dashed lines on faded corduroy. Somewhere at home, she kept your drawing stashed in a folder. The teddy bear resting on dehydrated clouds.

The more she circled “yes” to all those questions, the louder you laughed when she walked away. You expressed, but you did not speak. You heard, but you did not answer.

Eventually, she talked to more people, hope wilting like wet shoestrings.

This Smug Rainfall

She’s lying if she says she doesn’t wonder about you, or whether your pillow’s damp as an old napkin hosting a slumber party for a fourth mug of hot cocoa. Yet she doesn’t hold back to discuss how bad it would look in the papers (if it really deserved mentioning) should some Land Rover speed through, kitten whiskers and threads of a bracelet conceding to rubber’s burn.

The sky seemed fine until a quarter after two, when men bought their lattes and murmured “resume” a good five times before she reminded herself that the novel about the Russian Mafia could wait up to a week. She placed it inside her wilted banana peel of a handbag, buckles chipped like her front teeth before a neighbor gave Mom some Avon magazines. Laughing ladies on every page convincing you it’s fine to eat lipstick.

She didn’t reach for the umbrella too soon, toes trusting the softness of cheap flip flops as others jaywalked, a construction site on the corner offering shelter and hazard. Arcade Fire drowned for several seconds, revived itself to remind her that lies ignite most everything. She pressed the button, apologizing frantically as a woman got up from the parking garage, chin brushing against torn, pink polyester. Both their mouths copied puffer fish trapped at the local aquarium. Awed, not by the children standing near, thumbs smearing a shared iPhone.

Ask her if she thinks about how it feels when the sky’s everyone’s phone charger, then shake your head.

Scraped Knees by Kristine Brown

Hermione Flavia at CravenWild has written a lovely review for my collection, Scraped Knees. She hosts a blog ample with feedback on books, cosmetics, and more. Stop by at CravenWild on your next coffee break, and feel inspired!

CravenWild

Poetry is a funny thing. It’s kind of forced on us in school, and becomes something we love or hate, something that bores us to tears or moves us deeply. It’s also something that, well, a lot of modern hipsters like to think they’re poets, right? Poems are a lot like man-buns, lumberbeards, Mac laptops in Starbucks and toting copies of Nietzsche that you’ve never read.

But poetry can also be Wordsworth, Byron or Maya Angelou. Or Eminem for that matter.

Kristine Brown, to get to the subject at hand, sent me an email asking me to review her little chapbook of poems, Scraped Knees, published by Ugly Sapling. I got the good vibes from her, so I said yes, though I don’t normally deal with poetry in this blog. I do happen to quite like poetry.

The book itself you can see in the picture above, it’s a neat…

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Scraped Knees

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

“I felt she was bringing me closer to God.”

I think I heard Ryan Burns correctly, though years after, I still watch footage of the Arias trial, hoping to understand more about the murkiest depths of human dysfunction. I know none of these people, so placing any conclusions on the table leaves me stumbling for solid words. So I write, my tasks scrawled on neon Post-it notes, and I look to the door at the slightest “Where’ve you been?” that I hope won’t explode like old baked potatoes in a silently twirling microwave. On the couch, Mr. Burns didn’t seem to expect she’d explode.

People baffle and frustrate me in ways my meowing roommates don’t. I’m beginning to scare myself a little, taking a pumice stone to the bark on my feet, watching each callus flake and fall. I forget. I need these. So I hobble around, bending down to check that my toes are still straight, that the balls of my feet will thicken in weeks. The sunlight smirking through the blinds reminds me I’ve got work to do. Some jobs are pure dictation. Others are requests to “do what you do.” Improvise, begin, complete, and nod. But don’t squeak back in frustration, and don’t use your scrambled brain as the best you could find in your medicine cabinet after running out of Excedrin.

Trees outside are scantily clad, but the few leaves flatter like an office-worthy blouse. The sky might as well be white, birds on the wire returning, only to fly towards smudged windows, turning right at the very last minute. I’ve got several cardboard boxes. Perhaps I should cut the flaps, run like I’m dreaming all the way down my favorite hallway.

This week, I’ve been happy. Sometimes confused, but happy as I rub some lotion on my knees, for once not scraped.

Ah, those scraped knees. We find them in thousands of pages. Finally, after much of last year, I’ve got my own set of pages. Tomorrow, on Amazon, Scraped Knees (Ugly Sapling Press) will walk onto the scene of atypical experience, sensory dissection, and interpersonal miscommunication. Let’s give it a warm welcome. A slather of aloe vera and bandages that soothe.

Again, thank you all.

An Announcement

Two years ago, around this time, I chose to commit to blogging. Even if I couldn’t post daily, I wanted to make sure I wrote something at least once a month. Since I was fourteen, I’ve started over a dozen blogs, only to abandon them either out of frustration or mere distraction. However, I always wrote poems in a notebook.

I initially started Crumpled Paper Cranes to document both ordinary and bizarre interactions that mostly occurred as I acclimated myself to the delays, sluggish turns, and eccentricities associated with public transportation. Eventually, I decided to shift the blog’s focus to poetry, visuals, and flash pieces. I didn’t quite anticipate the support and readership that followed, though I knew your feedback would be invaluable and conducive to my “staying faithful” to CPC.

I want to take this time to thank all of you, for your feedback, interesting conversation, and some of your own work that I’ve been privileged to discover and enjoy. Blogging not only helped to improve my writing, but it also gave me a sort of flashlight to illuminate my goals. It also prompted an interest in freelancing, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Don’t take this as a farewell letter. It certainly isn’t. Simply, it’s a thank you. Additionally, I wanted to announce that I recently signed a book contract. Scraped Knees, a collection of poetry and flash stories, will be released sometime in early 2017. I will keep you updated as the release date draws near.

Again, I cannot thank you enough for your encouragement. 2016 has truly been a turbulent and eventful year.

Dear Tabby

Dear Tabby: For three years, I’ve successfully sported a pixie cut. I could shower, dash for the closet, slip into something comfortable, and run to work fifteen minutes before eight. Now, I stumble into half-closed elevators, my hair looking like seaweed, coworkers looking concerned. What should I do to simplify?

Brush your damn hair. And invest in some Garnier Fructisse. It pains me to see you use dishwashing soap as you’ve got a way with procrastinating.

Dear Tabby: I sweep my apartment nightly. I also cook on the regular. How do I muster the self-assurance to invite a fellow over for tea?

Are you sure this concerns tea? Whatever your motives are, I’d advise you to first remove that bottle you keep as a centerpiece. You know, the one with all my whiskers I lost while losing weight. That, along with my presence, deters a man enough. However, I implore you to keep me.

Dear Tabby: The man in the elevator had a sizable shoebox. I asked if he went shoe shopping, and he told me that he was carrying around his divorce papers. Then he winked. What could this mean?

It means you should invite him for tea. Was it a shoebox from a past purchase? You know what they say about men with big feet.

Dear Tabby: Whomever should I vote for these upcoming weeks? My appetite for politics has withered.

The one with the good hair. You could always write me in.

Dear Tabby: How do you deal with anger?

Finally, it’s occurred to you that I don’t sleep back spread on your face in the absence of a justified reason. I hate salmon. Stop with your generalizations.

Dear Tabby: Are your whiskers magical? They quiver like a magic wand, like I’m Cinderella or something.

First of all, thanks to your reckless dancing, and running, and coffee table crashes, neither of your feet would perfectly fit any kind of slipper. Secondly, my whiskers are magical, but only in the sense that they ward off pesky hands that sneak up from behind to tickle me. My name isn’t Elmo.

Dear Tabby: Why do cats of your kind have an “M” on the forehead?

Why, because we’re majestic. What about the “K” on your coffee cup? Does it tell me you’re killable?

Dear Tabby: Whole milk, or skim milk? Which is healthier?

I’m not lactose intolerant. Both are good. As for nutritional value, I can’t provide an answer. I can say you’re pretty arrogant in the way you have to relish both in front of my face, petting me at the same time. Humans.

Dear Tabby: My migraines and joint pain are killing me. What are some good remedies?

All you need is me. Now, lay on your stomach and allow my claws to make music on your back. Be sure to moisturize. I hate dust.

Dear Tabby: You mean the world, so much that I’d quit my job to spend my days with you.

Don’t. Food ain’t free.

Join Tabby, and little Batman, on Instagram for weekly adventures.