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Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

“But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near”

-Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”

I’ve been thinking a lot about time and task lately. Partly it’s because for the past few weeks I’ve been having trouble managing my time to get my tasks done. I suspect this is a common problem for people who work from home, especially writers, artists, and musicians. We spend our days (or nights) trying to fit our assignments, or tasks, around appointments, classes, and events that are scheduled at a particular time. The spigot of creativity and word flow gets turned off, and when it is turned back on, the gush has been reduced to a trickle.  There are times when I hear “Time’s winged chariot,” and I want to be seduced like Marvell’s mistress and surrender to the moment. Forget work. I want to read a novel.

Since ancient times…

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Lonely lunch

Laura Van Prooyen on Emily Dickinson’s “An altered look about the hills”

Voltage Poetry


An altered look about the hills—
A Tyrian light the village fills—
A wider sunrise in the morn—
A deeper twilight on the lawn—
A print of a vermillion foot—
A purple finger on the slope—
A flippant fly upon the pane—
A spider at his trade again—
An added strut in Chanticleer—
A flower expected everywhere—
An axe shrill singing in the woods—
Fern odors on untravelled roads—
All this and more I cannot tell—
A furtive look you know as well—
And Nicodemus’ Mystery
Receives its annual reply!


“An altered look about the hills” at first seems only to present a collage of springtime images, but by the poem’s end, we discover a speaker considering larger theological questions.  The accumulation of observable details and recurring syntactical patterns in the first two-thirds of the poem delay the surprise of the pattern’s dramatic variation in the final four…

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Weasel Words Shape Politics

Call Me Stormy

Not only politicians, but also the media, often use euphemisms to soften the truth and camouflage hard realities. Civilians killed in wars are called “collateral damage.” No one’s rich or poor, anymore. Soldiers don’t suffer shellshock, but post-traumatic stress disorder.

This report from Russian TV examines the bureaucratic  “newspeak,” invoking George Carlin in the process. Of course, Russian politicians and media are just as adept as their American counterparts in lying to the public.

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A Story In A Sentence

I love your stories!

Writing and Works

I have a personal soft spot for flash fiction.


There was no movement or sound, apart from the muted shuffle of feet as the guards beyond the crooked doors moved restlessly.

Cara rose, smoothing her skirts as she did so, pouting as the centuries of dust fell from where it had clung to the fabric. She turned.

The sound of stone grating against itself stopped her from walking away, stopped her still.

‘Petty Princess, Petty Princess.’ squawked a creaking voice. ‘Petty Princess with no inheritance. Come to search, come to seek, she’ll find no gold in the old King’s keep.’

The Great Hall fell silent and the guards stared in, some with their swords drawn.

‘No gold.’ Cara muttered, her face vacant of colour as she began to walk away from the dais. ‘I suppose I must look elsewhere.’


Perhaps not the best piece of writing that I…

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Poetry Friday: Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”

now that’s a poem.

The Importance of Obscenity in Allen Ginsberg’s Poem “Howl”

Mild Musings from a Mediocre Man

Vulgarity and obscenity are two adjectives often associated in Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”.  Many people perceive his use of strong, sexual imagery to be gratuitous and frivolous.  The opinion that this work is more akin to an Alice Cooper, or Marilyn Manson, designed to shock and disgust with little to no merit, is not uncommon.  I, too, have been tempted to dismiss Ginsberg as a “shock jock” of sorts but to do so may be selling this work short.  “Howl” is obscene.  “Howl” is vulgar.  However, “Howl needs to be crass and rude to have the impact that Ginsberg had intended.

To begin, I would like define the words obscene and vulgar.  Obscene, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as “repulsive by reason of crass disregard of moral or ethical principles” (“Obscene” Def. 2c).  Vulgar can also be defined as “generally used” (“Vulgar” Def. 1a), or “of the usual” (“Vulgar”…

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P.H. Davies – A Life of Plath


The 12 Biggest Coalition Cockups of 2012

Pride's Purge

So many to choose from but these are my top 12.

If you think I’ve missed any – feel free to let me know in the comments.

1) Emma Harrison from A4e blamed taxpayers for bullying her into paying herself a dividend of £8.6m from taxpayers’ money despite her firm’s abysmal record for the government’s Work Programme:

Emma Harrison: “Heartless taxpayers bullied me into paying myself £8.6m of their money”

2) The coalition government decided to subsidise massive corporations like McDonald’s and Tesco with taxpayers’ money by allowing them to use unemployed people as slave labour:

Did you know the government is subsidising McDonald’s with taxpayers money – your money?

3) The coalition government finalised its plans for the destruction of the NHS:

Cameron to voters – here’s two pointers why I’m going ahead with NHS privatisation anyway ….

4) There were crisis in supplies of fuel and pasties:

Don’t panic-buy and fill up on pasties, public urged

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Duffy The Writer

Freelance Writer Sydney, Book Reviewer

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