The Poetry of Christina Strigas


I set out to write a review on here of Christina Strigas’ debut poetry collection In My Own Flood (she had a recently-published chapbook as well entitled Your Ink On My Soul), but I found that I could not write a review of that book alone. I want to write about her poetry in general, all of her published poetry and what she also posts on her website and on social media. She is also the author of a paranormal romance novel entitled Crush (and available here) and a trilogy of nonfiction novels about a Greek-Canadian model that she co-authored with Zaharoula Sarakinis (available here), but that’s not why I’m here. I don’t know if Strigas would agree with me on this point or not, but I consider her first a foremost a poet.

StrigasI encountered Christina Strigas, a Greek-Canadian dwelling with her husband and kids in Montreal, online in 2015, and was immediately taken in by her writing. She displays an honesty and grittiness, but she’s also a romantic (whether she would admit to that or not, I don’t know). She loves … love. She writes of passion and lust and longing with a force that moves the reader, that pulls the reader deeper. She writes proudly of her Greek heritage and of her memories and family in such a way that you felt as though you’ve also known them, as if you also visited her cousins in Greece or sampled one of her mixed drinks of Greek coffees. She is a personal poet that writes comfortably enough to allow the reader long looks into the exquisite cave of her life.

Her chapbook Your Ink On My Soul (available here) was first released through 451 Publishing, but after parting ways with them, Strigas re-released her chapbook on her own, and I think that was a very wise move. It pairs wonderfully with her brand new poetry collection In My Own Flood (available here). I re-read her chapbook when I got my new edition and moved right into her poetry collection. It flowed like a single cohesive work. Her poetic brand is evident in both works, and if I read one of her poems with no author noted, I would know a Christina Strigas poem just by it’s format and tone and themes alone. That’s a difficult thing for a poet to get across to the reader. All the really great poets have it, their own unique brand that is unmissable. And Strigas is a great poet.

During the course of my conversations with Strigas, I’ve deemed her my “Poet Hero”. She is unafraid of expressing herself through poetry, even if her words are vulnerable or deeply personal. I’m amazed and humbled by her lines that appear simply-composed but are actually saturated with poignancy and depth. Strigas has an unbelievable talent for writing the exact thing that must be written. She’s a Hemingway-esque poet, but writes verses proudly emblazoned with femininity.

Strigas was recently interviewed on a radio show and along with many others, I got to hear her read aloud one of her poems, “1973”. Head here to read “1973 on her website. This piece, my favorite of hers, is a vivid and stunning example of what I’m trying to impart to you about the significance of Christina Strigas’ poetry. If you like what you read, and I sincerely hope that you do, please check out her website and please purchase her chapbook and her debut poetry collection.

Her writing is so utterly worth it.

A Little History

River Ram Press #InspireWriters #InspireReaders

Nick Trandahl- 'A Little History'

I’m an  avid fan of all sorts of contemporary poetry, especially free verse shorter pieces that manage to condense something very potent and significant into just a few lines. I like poetry that packs the honest punch of Hemingway, Jim Harrison or Raymond Carver. I want to feel the point or theme of a poem suddenly and simply. There’s elegance in honest and simple poetry.

Being such a fan of that style of poetry, it should come as no surprise that over the years my own writing has also been purified into a similar style. My first book of poetry, Lost Yellow, published by Swyers Publishing and available in paperback or kindle here, began as the desperate poetic scribblings of deployed U.S. soldier caught in the tight spin of a downward spiral. The poems of Lost Yellow were largely angry and soaked in depressive imagery and themes, and they…

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Who Will Love the Crow by Miriam Dunn

Ever since I first directed my hungry gaze at Winter Goose Publishing, I’d been reading as many of their books of poetry as I could afford. That practice, even after being fortunate and persistent enough to sign with WGP, never ceased. I’ve never encountered a publishing house with such an arsenal of really good, solid poets. It’s kind of shocking! Every collection I’ve read from WGP has been exquisite. And that holds true with the latest offering I’ve had a chance to read.Miriam_BW

Who Will Love the Crow by Miriam Dunn is that poet’s debut with WGP. Dunn resides in eastern Canada, and that Atlantic air has seeped into her prose. This collection (and be patient; I’ll get to how amazing it is in a moment) is available for pre-order here.WWLTC_FlatforeBooks

It seems redundant to call a poetry collection “poetic”, but that was the first word that came to mind when I read this collection. Dunn is a poet of immense talent, and she utilizes several different poetic tools with her work. There are several pieces with rhyming, which seems to me to be a rarity in much contemporary poetry. It causes her work to seem traditionally-inspired and cerebral. Dunn also utilizes the standard haiku form on occasion, and most of her poems are comprised of short lines. These poems are concise and beautiful. They’re gorgeous themes and imagery elegantly packaged into a readable contemporary form that hearkens also back to romanticists. Her work is also rife with sensuality and tension. They’re brooding and also hopeful.

It should also be noted that throughout the collection, gorgeous photographs are perfectly-paired to several poems. You reach the end of a particular piece and behold an image that brings the whole piece together. Come to find out, these photos are done by Dunn’s daughter. It looks like there’s creativity aplenty in that family.

My favorite pieces were “Crows”, “Undressed”, and “The Ocean is too Big”. “Crows” is conversational in nature, written as dialogue. It almost reads like flash fiction. “Undressed” is very pleasurably suggestive, as several of Dunn’s poems in this collection are. My favorite poem in the book is “The Ocean is too Big”. It contains my favorite lines in the whole collection:

The ocean is too big

but still I find you.

Miriam Dunn is a remarkable poet, and Who Will Love the Crow is a remarkable collection of poetry. Pre-order it ASAP. Read it. Discover why Winter Goose Publishing is at the pinnacle of contemporary poetry.

I Have a New Publisher!

Keeping secrets is a hard thing to do.

Especially when the secret is that I’ve signed a contract with the extraordinary folks at Winter Goose Publishing! You’d be hard-pressed to find a more enthusiastic supporter of contemporary poetry than WGP. I’m an avid fan of many of their writers, and I count many of them as friends and acquaintances. And now … family. Check out my author page on the WGP website right here. And while you’re there check out all the great authors that have a home under the wing of Winter Goose Publishing.

The reception of the welcoming author family at WGP has been phenomenal and the feedback and enthusiasm displayed by my readership since this morning, when the news of my signing with WGP was announced, has been outstanding. It makes this a secret that was worth the wait.

Winter Goose Publishing will be putting out Pulling Words, my collection of poetry, in 2017. My poetry has really evolved from my angsty grim writings back in my debut collection of poetry Lost Yellow (released by Swyers Publishing in 2013 and available here). My writing has become quieter and I’ve injected honesty and serenity into it, a lot of it being inspired by my memories and surroundings and my recent marriage. I’ve also been heavily-inspired by all my favorite poets and writers, in particular Raymond Carver, James Salter, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, and Jim Harrison.

With my upcoming book, Pulling Words, you’ll read of melancholy and tranquility; snapshots of a life wandering between bucolic rural Virginia, the epic enormity of the grasslands and mountains of Wyoming, quaint New England, and the desolation of the Middle East. You’ll read of love and life, honed with truth and respect for experience.

My poetry is blooming now, more than it ever has. And I’m so thankful to Winter Goose Publishing for trusting in me and my words.

This is just the beginning.



A Short Story by Nicholas Trandahl


It was late April.

I was in bed in the middle of the day … again. The lace curtains of my bedroom window were drawn. However, their feeble density did little to hold back the luminescent tide of afternoon sunshine. The deluge of light seeped hotly into my bedroom and it filled up the space within the four walls, spilling across the floor and across my thin deteriorated form that was discarded diagonally across the rumpled expanse of my queen-sized bed.

I sensed the light through my weary eyelids; I felt the heat on my gaunt features. A pair of pink lace panties were balled up in my weak fist and I held them near my face, letting the faint aroma of my ex-fiancée drift into my nose. My mouth salivated.

When we had still been together, we had been so in love, so enamored with one another. When Ivy was in Boston, presumably fucking the guy that she was to leave me for soon after, I took my favorite pair of her panties out of our shared underwear and sock drawer. I stuffed them into my pillowcase so that I could smell her in an intimate way when I missed her alone in bed at night.

In truth, the panties smelled like clean laundry more than anything else, but they gave my imagination a glimpse into the parts of Ivy that it was their clandestine duty to conceal. If I tried very hard and I let my overactive imagination play around a little bit, I truly believed that I could still smell her in them. It was very faint but I could swear that it was there.

She was there.

When Ivy eventually left me and our home for Mr. Boston, I remembered with an unhealthy and contrasting blend of melancholy and relief that I still had that special pair of her lace panties stowed away in my pillow. I didn’t let her in on my perverted secret. I didn’t throw the panties in Ivy’s face like she deserved when she so callously let me know that she didn’t love me anymore and that she had found someone else. I kept them.

I suppose that I kept Ivy’s panties so that I could touch them, smell them and taste them, and in doing so I could touch her again, in a way. I kept them so that I could remember her. That was the initial reason for having them around. As I let my senses wander about the rosy fabric, I was reminded of Ivy’s pale nude form, small breasted and thin with her head of very short, brown hair. I remembered her crystalline blue eyes and that smile of hers that could always make me lose my breath.

Those lustful and passionate, and admittedly sad, initial reasons for hanging onto Ivy’s panties eventually shifted into something resembling more of a mindless addiction. It became more like muscle memory to touch and handle them. I couldn’t enter my bedroom or lie down to go to sleep without first touching them.

And so as I was draped across my bed that afternoon in a flood of uncomfortable sunlight, I drank deeply of the scent that I probably imagined inhabited those pink panties. My eyes were closed. With a sigh, I let my arm fall to the side. My cold fingers loosened and the balled-up underwear tumbled slowly and silently from my palm and onto the orange bedspread and the white unwashed sheets.

“Ivy,” I wheezed into the bright emptiness of my bedroom. “Ivy,” I repeated a moment later. “You fucking suck.”

My eyes eased partially open. They beheld the lace curtains that were doing a piss-poor job of holding the light back. My face fell to the side and I looked at the pink panties laying on the tips of my outstretched fingers.

“I’m disgusting.”


“Charlie, I don’t get why you guys moved to Franklin County. If it was for Ivy … well, she’s gone now. You should seriously come back home.”

It was early evening, and I had finally developed the ambition to slide from my bed and into my bathroom to take a shower. That’s, of course, when Marie, my older sister, chose to call. Inconvenience was a trait that heavily-polluted the river of Oake blood that flowed within the veins of our family tree.

Standing there in the threshold of my small bathroom, towel gripped around my narrow waist, I scratched the longer reddish-brown hair that crowned my head. I looked absently down to the phone that was resting on the bathroom counter. Marie was on speaker, and I could almost feel her penetrating gaze awaiting some sort of feeble response from me. I followed up the head scratch with a chin scratch in the nest of short, red whiskers that I was lazily cultivating there.

In response to my sister, I simply made a noncommittal noise.

“Listen,” started Marie, “you can write books here in the Berkshires as well as you can in Appleham. And you won’t be so separated from everyone.”

“Yeah. Well, I think I’d rather stay here.”

A pause. “That’s dumb.”

I snorted humorlessly through my nose. “How are my nieces?”

“Fine,” she answered shortly. And then, “They miss their uncle.”

“John’s there, isn’t he?”

“They miss their other uncle, Charlie. The one that paints and writes stories with them. They miss you.”

I paused then. And I swallowed a sudden lump that had abruptly manifested in my throat. I was so damn emotional at that point in my life, likely because of Ivy leaving me. I was vulnerable and sensitive. And, to be completely honest, I missed my nieces and the rest of my family.

“How’s Tim?” I asked after a couple steadying breaths, referring to her husband, my conservative brother-in-law. I’d had a dream about Tim a couple nights before. He and I were loading mason jars of apple brandy into the back of an old truck for some unknown reason. It seemed as though we were working at a moonshine still in the Appalachian wilds. It was a good dream, a peaceful dream. I’d thought about writing a short story about it.

“He’s fine,” my older sister answered. I could picture her flaring her nostrils at me in frustration at my deflecting inquiry. Finally, seeing no forthcoming conversational fruits from me, Marie sighed and said, “Well, I’m going to let you go, Charlie. Give Mom and Dad a call soon. Your situation with Ivy has gotten everyone out here worried about you. Don’t let us all worry too much, okay?”

“Fine, Marie. Bye.”


I turned ended the call, leaned out of the bathroom, and tossed the phone into my bedroom across the hall. The device landed on my bed, bounced once, and was then still. I let the towel drop from my waist and I turned on the shower, as hot as I could bear. When I stepped into the alarmingly hot spray of water, I simply stood there with my head hanging, my back to the blast of hot water. I attempted to let the shower wash away my loneliness, my regrets, and my self-pity.

It didn’t work.

My emotions still felt like shit when I got out of the shower. I dried myself off, brushed my teeth, and strode shamelessly naked into my bedroom. It’s not as though there was someone to see my nudity, was there?

It was almost eight at night, but I didn’t get into a pair of pajama pants. Instead, I picked a pair of my slim, well-worn jeans from a drawer, and I put on some black socks and a soft grey t-shirt. It was an outfit that a person would put on in the morning for a casual day at home or if they were doing something on the weekend. It was not an outfit for dusk on a weekday. I ran my fingers through my damp hair and sighed heavily before I feebly lifted my paperback copy of Capote’s collected stories from the cluttered nightstand next to my bed.

Turning to leave my bedroom, I faced the open doorway that would take me out into the hallway of my little home. At one end of the hall was my living room and kitchen and at the other end, between my bedroom and the bathroom, was the closed door that belonged to my writing office. That door had been pretty much closed continuously ever since Ivy left.

With her departure, my muses had largely fallen silent. Or maybe it was just my ambition that had fallen silent. In that case, my frustrated muses would be crying out, screaming for me to return to my craft and utilize the poignant and delicate emotions that I was feeling in order to forge some marvelous literature. Whatever may have been the true state of my muses, the door to my writing office remained sealed. There were no short stories forthcoming, no poems. The work I did in that office paid my rent and bills, but when Ivy had left, so did that ambition. My parents back west had been sending me some money to help me survive.

I stood there, contemplating going out to my living room to read, but instead I slowly turned back around and fell onto my side on the bed. I propped myself up on an elbow and opened Capote’s stories. I started reading “One Christmas” in the dim light that spilled into my room from the hallway.

On the blurry edge of my vision I noticed Ivy’s balled-up pair of pink, lacy panties. They were like a holy relic left behind by a goddess, some sort of forbidden domestic detritus. I noticed them, set my book down, and then I sighed. My fingers inched out towards them again, ever so slowly.


It was about eleven at night, and I was still fully-dressed. I was also still laying in my bed, eyes closed but awake. Capote’s short stories rested, closed and useless, on my bedspread near me. Ivy’s panties were loosely held in my ineffectual grip. Strangely and quite abruptly, I was overcome with a strong desire for a drink, and that desire quickly narrowed down into a need for blackberry brandy. My mouth watered from something other than Ivy’s abandoned underwear. I had fond memories of blackberry brandy from the over-saturated colors of my early twenties. The nostalgia of the drink sounded appealing and so did the blessed intoxication that it promised.

The social stagnation that I had been imposing on myself since Ivy left me was suddenly beaten temporarily back into the closet of my skull at the lilac-colored prospect of guzzling a traveler-sized bottle of the flavored liquor all on my own. I wouldn’t have to share it with any other soul, and most noticeably I wouldn’t have to share the rim of the bottle of brandy with Ivy and those soft, pink lips of hers that were so damn kissable. I had a sudden vision then of her attractive mouth and I licked my thin lips. I wanted to kiss her and I was disgusted at myself for that.

I staggered stiffly out of bed. My bedroom window informed me that it was fiercely dark outside, and the darkness of the spring night looked cold. So I went to my closet and put on a dark blue zip-up hooded sweatshirt. I zipped it all of the way up and grabbed my car keys, wallet and my phone. When I went outside I discovered that it was warmer than I had anticipated. I had grown used to the cold of early spring. That’s when Ivy left and that post-winter chill saturated my body and soul. She had stained me with the climate that she had chosen as the landscape for her exit from my life. As I marched to my silver-colored sedan, I unzipped the hoodie that I wore.

I made the short, uneventful drive through dark and slumbering Appleham to one of the two or three local bars, and as my car pulled into the drive-thru that was bathed in the orange-tinted, buzzing wash of an electric streetlight, I discovered that the drive-thru window was garnished with a noticeable cardboard sign. The sign stated in the bold black strokes of a permanent marker that the bar was short-staffed and that customers needed to go inside for purchases. I idled there in the drive-thru for a moment, sighing as I contemplated heading to a different bar with a hopefully-open drive-thru. I really didn’t feel like walking into one of these loud, smoky establishments at such a late hour. That was when the unsavory human loam of a diminutive rural community was stirring in an alcohol-emboldened fervor.

“Damn it,” I hissed quietly over the music that faintly danced at a low volume within my car. A idled there a little longer and then cursed again, at my situation and at my newfound social anxiety. I had recently discovered that I spoke almost exclusively in profanity when I was by myself.

A moment later I pulled the car back out in front of the bar and parked it in a vacant spot on the street. I left the car unlocked and the keys in the ignition because I’d be fast. I still didn’t really trust a soul, but I was pretty sure that the universe wouldn’t have time to spite me by having someone break into my car. I made my way into the smoky, loud din of the establishment and I went straight to the bar counter, avoiding contact and gazes of those that may have been granting me their bloodshot attentions. I didn’t come here for any sort of conversation. I came for booze and booze alone, my goddess for the night.

The red-cheeked and obviously overwhelmed bartender was familiar to me. Most folks in Appleham were familiar to one another. She was taller than me. Sweat beaded her brow, and her wavy hair was pulled into a bun on the back of her head. Her blouse was cut low, and I could see the tops of her breasts jiggling as she marched swiftly over to me. This bartender had always had nice tits. But other than her bust, she didn’t seem to have aged well. Ample amounts of smoking and hard-living hadn’t done her skin or hoarse voice any favors.

“Hi, Josie,” I said when she reached me.

“What do you need?” she asked distractedly.

The fact that Josie hadn’t called me by name or even smiled at me wasn’t lost to my hypersensitive, anxiety-ridden state. At first I thought that maybe she didn’t recognize me, but then I remembered that she had been a local acquaintance of Ivy’s when we had moved to Appleham. She knew me; she knew local writer Charles Oake was. Apparently I had thus been mistakenly branded as a villain by Josie because I wasn’t a good enough man to keep Ivy here with me. To Josie, I was at fault for Ivy cheating on me and moving to Boston. I was instantly furious and equally depressed.

These were all assumptions of course. Maybe she was just having a bad night.

“Uh,” I began, still somewhat taken aback and flustered by Josie’s callous greeting, before I continued, “I need a bottle of blackberry brandy. A small bottle if you’ve got it.”

Josie let out a short exasperated noise and asked irritably, “Fine. What brand?”

“I don’t really give a shit,” I returned with as much venom and loathing as I thought was acceptable in a weak attempt to put Josie in her place. But I chickened out immediately after my response and I smiled like an idiot, blushing and trying to make a feeble joke out of my abrasive reply. Again, she didn’t return the smile, acknowledge my rudeness, nor even the haphazard jest that I’d attempted to glue onto the rear of my statement. What a bitch.

While I was waiting for Josie to return with my brandy, I absently let me eyes drift over the congregation of folks that were gathered in the bar on a Wednesday night. There were so many. What in the hell were these people doing here in the middle of the week? A better and more compassionate person would have probably pitied them or something, but in my over-emotional state I was almost angered at them. Or maybe it was simply that I was angered at myself for being here among them.

When bitchy, buxom Josie returned with my traveler of blackberry brandy and told me the price as she put it in a brown paper bag, I paid her and told her to keep the few dollars of change. I’m not sure why I did that. Maybe it was sort of a lackluster attempt to seduce her out of loneliness. Nonetheless, it didn’t work, and she didn’t thank me or even say one other word to me before moving on to some other drunkenly boisterous patron. I choked down my humiliation and anger, and then I ducked out of the establishment with my room-temperature bottle of blackberry-flavored spirits.

My depression, melancholy, and loneliness were seasoned then with frustration and anger as I drove speedily back to my little, empty house. And I’m more than willing to also admit that on that night my emotions were also stained with a slight dash of misogyny. Ivy had about forced me to do away with my tolerance of the female gender but Josie the bartender had slipped me over the edge. But, in that moment, I think that I still would have slept with Josie if she had offered. Solitude typically reeks of desperation.


I braked hard in my driveway, screeching my tires with a brief jolt, and I turned my car off before heading back inside my darkened home. Without taking my hoodie off, I turned on a lamp in my living room and then twisted the plastic lid off of the top of the bottle of brandy. After taking a long greedy swallow of the purplish-brown booze within, pleasuring my throat with an alcohol-induced burn, I began wandering aimlessly down the hallway. I tossed a brief glance into the bathroom, and then I placed a cold pale palm against the closed door of my writing office at the end of the hall. I could almost feel the quietness and the promise pulse from within. Come in, it said. Write. Write. Write.

The narrow rim of my newly-acquired bottle of blackberry brandy met my lips again as I stood there in front of my office door. I took another long and steady swallow. My mind was dizzy already from the alcohol that I was so swiftly drinking. I used to love having a drink when I would write at night. That was when I used to write at my most proficient, a stiff drink prying out my best words. But those were the days when I had what I believed that true love was an inspirational source.

“Not tonight,” I spoke to myself almost inaudibly. “No writing tonight.”

Using my palm that was resting against the flat, vertical surface of the office door, I pushed myself back from the closed portal and turned to look into my bedroom. My eyes found them instantly, before anything else. Ivy’s pink panties rested in a loose clump next to Capote’s short stories on the unmade surface of my bed. Instantly and without warning I felt my blood boil. My teeth clenched together spasmodically, my hollow whiskered cheeks nearly quivering with rage, and I lunged forward into my room. My talons closed around the panties and I viciously tore the underwear from my bed.

“God damn it,” I snarled. “Fucking bitch!”

I stormed heavily and quickly from my room and marched tempestuously down the hall to my kitchen, partially-drained bottle of blackberry brandy in one hand and the rumpled pair of my ex-fiancée’s unmentionables in the other. When I reached the empty sink, I slammed the panties down into the basin with as much fury and force as I could summon. The soft, ethereal thump that they made when they struck the bottom of the sink was intensely unsatisfying. I wished that the panties would have shattered into a million razor-sharp pieces that would mirror what Ivy did to my idealism, my writing, and my rosy perception of romance.

I took another long last guzzle of the liquor, enough to thoroughly push me over the edge into warmth and fuzziness of intoxication. The booze warmed my esophagus and lubricated my anger. I upended the bottle over the panties of pink lace that rested in the bottom of the sink, and I drained every last drop of the blackberry brandy over the underwear. The playful lace textures darkened, as if from blood, and when the bottle was empty I tossed it absently into the other side of the sink. The plastic bottle bounced around noisily until it came to a rest.

Stepping to the other side of the kitchen, I rifled through a little drawer that was loaded to the brim with various miscellanea, and after a while I slammed it shut after I’d located what I was looking for. With a book of matches in my fingers, I returned to the sink and to my brandy-soaked victim that awaited lonesomely within. A match was struck. I held it before me with a manic look plaguing the pallid features of my visage, and I said in an ominous tone that tolled with finality, “Farewell, Ivy.”

I dropped the match. It fizzled out in the wet folds of the panties.

My brow furrowed with confusion. I struck another match and dropped it. Again, the flame was extinguished.

A third time. I was angry now.

A fourth.

A fifth.

Eventually, I had used up the whole book of matches and the black-headed, bent-bodied, cardboard matches littered the bottom of the sink and rested upon the rosy vibrancy of Ivy’s mocking underwear like the corpses of a group of skinny arson victims. “What the fuck?” I finally growled in confusion.

Setting alcohol alight worked in movies, but it wouldn’t work for me that night. Of course I wouldn’t be able to light the liquor-soaked panties of my ex on fire in a satisfying roar of hot destruction. Of course I was yet again helpless, yet again useless and incapable and ineffectual. I now know, in retrospect, that the low-quality blackberry brandy had too low of a proof to ignite by flame, but at the time I was adamantly positive that the universe had it out for me. Physics mocked and teased me. The solidity of all things wavered and fluctuated before the brandy-induced cloud that my bloodshot eyes squinted through.

But it was too late to turn back. Ivy’s pair of lace panties, the relic of my past romance and the cursed artifact of a soured and poisoned love, were ruined for me. I could never touch them with the longing and poignancy that I had before. Only one of us would survive the night, the pink panties or Charles Oake. They had to be destroyed once and for all. And if they couldn’t be destroyed, then I would be.

In a rage I plunged my hand into the sink to grab the underwear, but I smacked my knuckles hard against the bowl of the sink with a dull metallic thud as I did so. With an obtuse ache in my fingers and an acute fury slashing my mind asunder, I snatched them out of the sink and stomped back to the little drawer of miscellanea where I’d previously retrieved my last book of matches. From within the drawer, I removed a large pair of scissors with plastic yellow-orange handles. I stepped over to the small trashcan I kept in my kitchen next to the refrigerator, and I held Ivy’s brandy-soaked underwear aloft over the yawning receptacle.

I started cutting.

I sliced up that sensual artifact that held such power over me. I sliced them to hell. Little chunks and ribbons of thin, elegant, pastel pink fabric fluttered down into the trash, drifting in descent like a celebratory rain. The panties became unrecognizable as the item that they were, and they grew smaller and smaller as more and more of the garment was snipped away to rain down into the shadowed depths of my trash.

Breathing heavy with exertion and the release of adrenaline, I was finally finished. I stood over the trash can, almost panting, and I gripped the scissors painfully in my hand. Below me, a damp confetti of rosy lace fabric was peppered in small loose bunches atop the brown paper bag that was already crumpled within the bottom of the receptacle.

My mocking idol was slain. The unholy relic was destroyed. I felt like an addict that had just flushed all of his pills down the toilet. And, though I was drunk on blackberry brandy, the air in my little home felt clearer. Still breathing heavily, I glanced over to the sink and I tossed the scissors in there alongside the empty plastic bottle. The racket that the colliding items produced was pure and crystalline, the first cacophonous sounds that a newborn baby hears upon being reincarnated back into a world that was unfamiliar but also instinctively familiar. A sighed at the noise with my eyes closed.

It was around midnight. I was mentally and emotionally cleansed. Ivy was gone and all traces of her were now ghosts. I knew that I would now be able to heal. Unprecedentedly, I was suddenly overcome with a desire to go home to the Berkshires and visit my family. Destroying the last clue of Ivy’s romantic crime against me had set me truly and gloriously free.

I staggered into the hallway that was only very dimly lit with the illumination of my living room lamp. I stood in the hall for a minute, looking down dizzily at the grey carpet. My eyes lifted then and looked forward, to the closed door of my writing office at the end of the hall. Even through my drunkenness and the distance between the me and the door, I could still hear the pulse of promise that whispered to me from within.

I sighed wearily, scratching the red stubble that salted my jaw. I can remember smiling then.

Finally smiling.

I was about to step forward when I became aware of a pattern of vibrations erupting in the back pocket of my jeans. My cell phone was always set to vibrate when I had a call. The sound of a ringing phone had begun to cause me anxiety, and so I always had it set to vibrate instead. I pulled the phone from my pocket and, without looking to see who was calling at that ungodly late hour, I sloppily pressed the ‘talk’ button.

“Yeah?” I stated.

“Charlie, it’s me,” spoke a quiet feminine voice. The words were as toxic and as beautiful as an acidic sunrise.

Tagged Q&A

This is my first time dabbling with the “being tagged by another blog to answer questions” game. So time to crack my knuckles and get going!

I was tagged to answer questions by the lovely and talented author, Aila Stephens. You can check out her magnificent and active blog here. I’m very honored to have my little author site here included in Aila’s inquiries. So thanks, Mrs. Stephens!

I’m not going to tag other bloggers to answer these questions because (frankly) I’m still new to the whole blogging thing, and have no idea who I’d tag. Okay, here we go:

1.) What object is closest to the left of your computer and how could you use it in the zombie apocalypse? Uh-oh. To the left of my computer is a pack of cigars and a lighter. The lighter has some temporary utility I suppose by starting fire and such, but the cigars would (I presume) be used up at a VERY rapid pace during the horrors of a zombie apocalypse. Got to keep those nerves as calm as possible, right?
2.) You’re in the woods; it’s dark. Suddenly a branch cracks on the ground only a few feet behind you and all the little hairs on your neck stand at attention – what is the *first* thing you hope it isn’t going to be? Instantly and without a doubt I choose a little grey alien. Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had a very intense phobia of being abducted by aliens (probably stemming from a childhood fear of getting injected by a syringe). So yeah, if I felt a presence in the woods behind me, I would instantly be hoping so very much that it wasn’t a big-headed, big-eyed alien.
3.) What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Hmm? Not a huge dessert fan, but I would probably say cookie dough.
4.) What known (doesn’t have to be well-known) superhero would you be, and which of their villains would you most want to face? Well, Spider-Man obviously! He’s a witty employee of a newspaper office like yours truly! I’ve always loved Spider-Man comic books and all its spin-offs and variant Spider-Man series. And my favorite Spider-Man villain has always been, hands down, Carnage. He’s so evil and chaotic; there’s no reasoning with him. A perfect enemy to just beat the hell out of. So I’d definitely like to be Spider-Man throwing down with Carnage.
5.) What charitable organization is closest to your heart, and why? My favorite charitable organizations are the VFW Foundation,, and DAV (Disabled American Veterans). I’m an Army combat veteran with a service-connected disability and I’m also a member of the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). These organizations to assist veterans, especially those suffering from mental illness, run very close to my heart. I donate to them and I encourage you to do the same, especially Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide and one active duty service member commits suicide. That is unacceptable. I was almost one of these statistics. It’s an epidemic, and the stigma of seeking treatment and help for your mental illness needs to be eliminated.
6.) What is your absolute favorite thing about yourself? My creativity. Pure and simple. Without the ability to express myself through poetry, fiction, and painting, I would have been dead a very long time ago. Creative expression is the most important value I possess, and it’s the one that I cherish the most.
7.) What is your favorite season and why? Autumn! I look forward to the fall all year long and I mourn it when it hands the year over to winter. The crisp air, the earthy scent of woodsmoke, the riotous colors of changing leaves, pumpkins, Thanksgiving, harvests; I’m an addict for all of it.
8.) Do you have any special talents? I suppose stringing together words into a poem or a short story or novel is quite a cool talent. Also, being able to paint artwork is pretty cool. I also skateboard (though not as well as I did 15+ years ago), I can make delicious and complex cocktails with just about any type of spirits (and especially cocktails that were popular during the Jazz Age), I can pack a tobacco pipe and smoke it properly, I can make repairs and troubleshoot my all-original 1950 Smith-Corona typewriter, and I have a pretty good memory when it comes to literature, history and science.
9.) What were your three favorite posters that hung in your bedroom as a teenager? Man, it’s hard to remember that far back! The three that stand out were a Deftones poster, a poster of my favorite professional skateboarder at that time, Brian Wenning, and also an old poster of The Hobbit from the 1970s or 1980s. Metal music, skateboarding, and books. That was my teenage life.
10.) You’re a guest at a well-attended party, what are you most likely doing? I’d be dressed as dapper as possible with a pipe in my mouth, if smoking was allowed, and cocktail in my hand. I’d be finding other literary-minded guests to talk to.



In vertical pastel hues,

striped with white,

each button-front shirt

hangs in its state

of perpetual dishevelment.

My closet is lined with them,

like articles of pale candy,

like the promise of a trip

to a hot and humid clime

that errant time

has borne me to.


Is my fair frame thus clothed,

in these fantasies,

as I swagger in the Deep South-

where everything is white and green,


slick with a slime

of charm, history, and guilt?

Could I see the Mississippi sunset

that Faulkner saw

as he traded barbs about lexicon

with Papa Hemingway?


Or am I in India,

the birthplace of said fabric

to combat the womb

of all the world’s sweltering air?

Would I be chewing naan,

standing easily on an old balcony,

thinking of Buddha

and all the hungry ghosts

as I stare towards the tall north-

emerald foothills

with ghostly heights beyond them?


Or do I wear them

back to my roots-

to Rappahannock

and the slumbering Blue Ridge,

where I can attempt to discern

who I am-

and why?

Should I be kneeling

before an old wooden fence

that’s completely shrouded

in blossoming honeysuckle vine-

worshiping at the altar

of nostalgia

and trying to find the genesis

of how each of my words

came to pass?


These promises we make-

what weight they carry.

And how unassumingly they hang,

waiting for us to reach out

and finally don them.




Upon awakening, a pearly October fog had enshrouded the contours and structures of some pleasant rural countryside in a beautiful American place. Quaint and quiet. Shapes were muffled, edges dulled and softened as though fingers had smeared them, blurring them mysteriously. Sounds were hidden, their acoustic vestiges frayed and blunted in the pale soupy murk. The fog had a faint hissing quality, barely audible, and one could feel its innumerable fingers touching in a slight ghostly way upon the face and hands; they were still hands, limp hands that were shocked into stillness at the enchantment of dawn in early October.

The fog was beginning to glow yellow-white, an ill-defined blush of faded orange and soft rose accompanying the burgeoning brilliance, and the colors were at their brightest, their most luminous, in the east. And then the sun broke over the cold dry branches of the trees. They were holding legions of leathery yellow leaves aloft in their parched amber manes. The very air seemed ignited by Paradise, by cataclysm. Seen from within, the fog appeared set aflame as one stood facing eastward into the radiant face of the rising sun that spilled over the tops of the cold wraiths of the trees.

That was how she stood.

Catherine held a steaming mug of coffee in her hands as she observed the sunrise through the icy cold shroud of the autumn fog. She cradled the mug gently, like a poem. It was a treasure that was delicate, and she realized that the whole wide world was just then cradling her in that exact same attentive way. In the fog, Catherine felt at the center of her own existence, at the center of it all. The universe was pregnant with her, and she was filled with its primal luster, its beauty. It wasn’t at all far-fetched that everything that ever was revolved around her.

Catherine was bespelled, enraptured by the October fog and the divine glory of the sunrise. God, she knew, wasn’t often found in a church or temple or mosque. He didn’t orate from the altar at Mass, draining his blood and shedding his body to be devoured by his followers. God was in that very morning, and Catherine could see plainly that the sunrise was his face. The woman was humbled as she stood there, but she was also significant. Her soul was glittering, her heart a mass of jewels.

She breathed in the light. Warm hues of illumination. Her spirit was warmed in the way that Dickinson warmed her. But her body was chilled in the thick damp bank of opaque cloud that had settled itself down upon the environment during some cold lightless night time hour. In the ample embrace of her heavy woolen sweater, thick-collared and navy blue and draped below her wide hips, she was outfitted for a cool fall morning. Her autumnal ensemble was further perfected with the addition of a black knitted scarf that was looped several times around her neck and shoulders and by the black leggings and brown boots that she wore. Her dark brown hair was cut very short, like a boy’s hair. She liked that “pixie” cut and Adam liked it as well; he liked to run his run his fingers through her short hair when they kissed, his fingertips tickling the sensitive skin of her scalp and the base of her skull. The soft paleness of the back of her neck was exposed to the chill.

Catherine’s face was fresh and pleasant, cheeks and nose tinted in rose. Her features were alive and glittering in the way that faces are only when they’re cold. Only her hands that cradled the hot mug of coffee were truly warm. She brought the thick rim of the mug to her soft lips and she took a drink. The moisturizing lip gloss that Catherine wore caused her lips to stick slightly to the coffee mug when she removed it. A sigh escaped her afterwards, a satisfied sigh. The new warmth hidden in her Rubenesque belly was akin to that fiery warmth in her soul.

Yellowed leaves, and some that were orange and a desiccated brown, were strewn across the faded brittle green of the grass. The grass was bleached by the sun that had shown fiercely in late summer and early autumn, but the dry green was fresh with beads of cool dew. The droplets glittered purely on the withered blades so that they looked like innumerable chips of glass in the dawn light. The hush was magic.

The leaves were also scattered across the gravel driveway, one end leading to Catherine’s house and the other to an unpaved country road. Most of the driveway, however, was concealed from view in the shifting pale glow of the fog; the house nor the road could be seen through the murk. If her familiar environs weren’t her own, Catherine doubted that she could have been able to say with any surety in which direction the road lay and in which her home lay.

Silence. But within the muting fog faint sounds were strictly separated, partitioned off from one another. Sounds echoed dimly as though they were no more than dreams, no more than leaves falling or mermaids singing in the deep gloom. There was a charge in the air like a sharpened point that pressed against ice cold frosted glass. There was a threat, the promise of release. It was an energy that an observant could sometimes discern in the fall. Energies of different sorts were frequently borne upon autumn’s crisp back, too short-lived and artfully burnished in tones of bronze, gold, and scarlet.

Days such as the one Catherine was inhabiting conjured breathless smiles and ruddy cheeks, lungfuls of delicate crisp air that chimed inside of a person like crystal. Shards of autumnal firmament were swallowed down like spice. These were the days. These were times for sweaters and scarves, for old industrious literature and hot drinks, for full flasks in the hands of dry-faced and sparkly-eyed gentleman with chapped lips and companionable smiles. Aromas of smoke, crushed leaves, leather, and cinnamon. These were times for long walks, alone but for the company of bourbon-colored leaves that filled the trees and fluttered with enthusiasm to the cold hard earth. These were days of cool fog at dawn and dusk, ample skies shrouded in overcast grey.

As the rising sun burnt through the October fog along the very close tree-edged horizon, Catherine’s face tilted skyward, and she beheld through the thinning blanket of fog overhead a bluish tint. There would be no grey overcast sky on that autumn day. It would be a vast sapphire sky. Unseen as of yet, Catherine knew that it would be a cloudless day that would contrast brilliantly with the brown land.

He was then walking towards her through the brightening fog, each of his muffled footsteps piercingly pulled apart from one another in his easy ambling gait. He was coming from the direction that the road lay, and Catherine could hear the faint crunch of small gravel beneath his steps. Adam’s footfalls were softened in the way that the colors were also softened, as were the forms of the dreamlike undersea world that Catherine was immersed in, the timeless enchanted world that was slowed and stilled in the obfuscating shroud of fog. His murky steps within the concealed heart of that realm were like the fine subtle tick of a clock’s slender hands.

Adam had only been walking the dog for an hour or so on that particular morning. He enjoyed taking the dog out just before sunrise, in that bruised pink blush that unerringly heralded the dawn, especially in the antiqued paints that comprised the vibrant palette of autumn. As Adam’s grey form was conjured out of the fog, Catherine could discern the hurried steps of the dog in loyal accompaniment.

He was then removed from the fog entirely, ambling easily in Catherine’s direction, and their Brittany Spaniel trotted excitedly next to Adam, a swaying leash tethering the loyal canine to its master. Adam was wearing a burgundy sweater and a scarf of green and black plaid, and he also wore brown corduroy trousers, and black athletic shoes that were suitable for walking. Through his well-groomed sandy blonde beard, Adam smiled handsomely at Catherine as he came at her through the fog, up the gnarled drive.

“Hey, good-lookin. Good morning. I could smell your coffee.”

“Good morning, handsome,” she answered warmly, smiling attractively. When Catherine spoke the spaniel became excited at her voice and pulled Adam more fervently towards the woman. “How was the walk?”

“Perfect. What a beautiful morning.”

The dog reached Catherine first and licked her hands, nudging them roughly in the process. Some of Catherine’s coffee was jostled up over the brim up over the sticky brim of her mug. “Damn it,” she quietly hissed, wincing slightly as some of the hot coffee spilled onto the pale soft skin of one of her hands. Dark watery drops splattered onto the fine smoke-colored gravel of the driveway.

She caressed the top of the spaniel’s head to calm it as she brought the mug to her lips to hurriedly lower its contents to a more manageable level. Adam reached Catherine and kissed her mouth. The spilled coffee was forgotten. She tasted like coffee and the unbrushed morning, and, to Adam, it was not at all unpleasant. Adam tasted like cigar smoke, and the woodsy aroma was freshly-baked into his beard. He sometimes smoked a small flavored cigar when he went on his morning walks.

When their kiss ended, lips parting soundlessly in the crisp October morning, they both followed their dog down the gravel driveway in the direction of their home. It was still hidden amongst the sea of fog that lay heavy over everything. The dog knew the way home unerringly. It was threaded into the fabric of its being.

“Is there more coffee, honey? That tastes delicious,” Adam asked, smirking as he did so because he referred then to the taste of the warm brew that was hinted at upon Catherine’s generous lips.

“There sure is, babe,” Catherine replied. “I’ve only had this one cup from the pot so far. I slept in a little bit.”

With their next ambling steps, the familiar comfort of their home revealed itself through the damp tide of the fog. Catherine and Adam felt warmed at the sight; it bloomed in their hearts gracefully. They were emboldened and wistful.

It was a quiet autumnal Saturday. They day was gleefully empty.

It was a moment when the world was perfect.


The Scarlet King at Yuletide

By Nicholas Trandahl

Spilled across the gleaming crust,

Lambent in the hyperborean night,

Are smears of color; lights aglow

In red and orange, blue and green.

The township, enchanted and frosted

In weeks’ worth of snow and rime,

Radiates bright Yuletide ambiance

In a whisper of garish-colored light.

A contrast to that wintry land

Is another realm, another scene.

A crystalline void, clear and black,

Is stretched monstrously overhead,

As taut as inky canvas; perilous.

The achromatic gulf, sullen and fell,

Is all aglitter with starry ornaments.

A cardinal, vermeil and brilliant-

Even in this incapacitated night,

Falls out of the delicate glassy sky.

Avian friend, where have you been?

Mysterious bird, an orgulous lord,

Why do you flutter in the ebony night

Instead of roosting in dark warmth?

Have you been harvesting seeds

And crimson berries; spherical and glossy?

Descending out of the Stygian ether,

This red sovereign dances over snows-

Over diamond-encrusted lawns-

Over homes, slumbering and rimy.

Its puissant and feathered frame

Is a fleeting wraith across the hues;

The nostalgic glow of holiday light.

Fly home, cardinal, the scarlet king,

Your belly full of berries and seeds.

Fly home upon the niveous hush,

And into the candy-colored night.


I hope all of you had a fantastic Christmas. Here’s a poem I’ve recently written inspired by the holiday season. It was published in last week’s issue of my area’s local newspaper, the Weston County Gazette.

Have a marvelous 2016. I know I will!

Artwork by Janene Grende.


An incandescent elixir is Sunday’s rich glow.

A bloom of its soft qualities begins to grow.

My soul drinks of it, swallowing deeply,

Using it quietly, wielding it discreetly.

-Excerpt from “Sunday Morning Rhymes”

by Nicholas Trandahl

Autumn leaves. Fog. Being outdoors. Shorelines. Woods. Morning sunlight. The sound of geese high in the air. The Atlantic.

Taking advantage of a mild November Sunday, reading and writing outdoors.

Taking advantage of a mild November Sunday, reading and writing outdoors.

Sunsets. Really good literature. Cocktails. Intimacy. Ambient music. Pinterest. Reading about trout fishing (while not actually fishing myself).

I, like all writers, am filled with creative inspiration by certain particular things. However, for me, few things inject creative energy into me like Sundays. There’s something so special about that day of the week, the quietest of days. Regardless what time of year, or what weather features a particular Sunday is offering up, I typically have a fervent desire to write or paint. The earlier the hour the better.

Today was a mild Sunday here in Wyoming. It was crisp, somewhat breezy, sunny and cloudless. It was still undoubtedly November, but it was a generous day for late autumn. It was a day for putting on a pea coat, lighting up an old pipe full of good pipe tobacco, and sitting outside in the meek warmth of the sun, poetry journal and book of Alice Munro short stories in hand. I was expecting to create something that glistens quietly; some elegant piece of prose that is subtle and well-written. I write a poetry every couple of days or so, and I figured today would bring a decent little poem.

I did write a poem, sitting out in the Sunday afternoon air.

And then I wrote five more!

Now, let me be honest here. I have never written six complete poems in one day. And I didn’t really do that today either. The five that I wrote after the initial poem were largely already created, verses jotted down quickly in haphazard chunks in a note app on my iPhone. I just cleaned up, added to, and improved on the rough drafts of poetry that were in my phone and put the final drafts of each into my leather poetry journal. Nonetheless, … SIX NEW POEMS!

My goal for 2016 is to have a chapbook of my poetry published, but at this rate I may have enough work for two! Or maybe enough for another collection of poetry! Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ll continue to take advantage of all the wonderful things in our world that inspire me. I’ll continue to use these quiet Sundays to their fullest. And, noble readers and writers, I encourage you to do the same.