View from the Window (poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

Just out the door is a stream that spills downward
into a brass bowl of a pond.
It serves as home to scores of bluegills,
fit for frying, if you can catch and clean as many.

And if you were to head due west 
two and three-quarter miles,
you’d find a farmer leaning against his split rail fence,
looking over some fifty head of cattle.

Nearby, his son is turning in from mucking the stalls.
He stands barefoot on the grass, 
clapping the heels of his work boots together,
deriving strange satisfaction with each dirt clod he loosens.

If you could climb in the cockpit of a crop duster,
southern Indiana would spread out beneath you like a quilt,
with patchwork fields every shade 
of gold and green and brown.

But if any of this is true, I am oblivious to it.
My day was made of spent toner cartridges,
the taste of no. 9 commercial envelopes,
and flickering, fluorescent light.

Seven ways to read more books and hit your New Year’s Resolution this year

With New Year’s Day closing in quickly, many of us have resolved to read more books. For some, this may look like the 52-book challenge (a book a week,) while for others, it might be a modest three books for the entirety of the year.

Whatever your goal is, I thought I’d share my tips on how to stay committed and (hopefully) achieve the resolution you set out to complete:

1.) Mix up your genres.

Most of us read deeply, but how many of us read widely? You may be polishing of your 18th sci-fi novel for the year, but it couldn’t hurt to branch out a little. Not only will this make you a better reader and human being, it’ll also break up the monotony and help you achieve your goal.

2.) Mix up your mediums.

Similar to number one. Variety is the spice of life- it’s a cliche for a reason. So why not shake up your reading routine? Listen to an audiobook while on a long drive, read a few pages of a great business book on your Kindle on the bus, and settle down with a paperback just before bed.

3.) Read two books at once.

This borders on sacrilege for many, but for me, it’s always worked. When you hit a rut in one book, it helps to switch books and keep moving forward (rather than picking up your phone or watching Netflix.) The key is to read two books that are thematically different enough that you don’t confuse the stories in your head.

4.) Create a ritual.

It doesn’t hurt to designate at least some specific time to reading every day. Perhaps you’ll commit to reading one poem before bed. Maybe you’ll assign 15-minutes of your lunch break to cracking open the new bestseller. In any event, create a routine and stick with it.

5.) Don’t be afraid to throw in the towel.

If there’s a book that’s truly abysmal, don’t be afraid to give up on it. A good litmus test for determining whether you should give in can be answered with a simple question: do you dread reading? (Tip number three is good for this!) If you’re actively avoiding reading because the book you’re in is such a slog, it’s okay to move on.

6.) Conversely, occasionally punch above your weight, in the literary sense.

Does Ulysses feel insurmountable to you? Does Moby Dick seem to be a behemoth of a book that you could never read cover-to-cover? Do it anyways. Glean what you can and give yourself permission to not “get” all of it. *No one* actually “gets” all of it.

7.) Don’t compare yourself to others.

It’s best to not view reading as a competition. If you’re reading and thinking deeply about your reading, every book is value-added. So check your ego at the door. Toward that end, if it’s getting in your way, delete your Goodreads account.

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That’s all I’ve got! I hope this list helps someone achieve their resolution in 2020. As always, happy reading!

Paranalysis (poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

You couldn’t write, although you tried.
So you arranged your suicide.

You sat there jotting down your note.

You didn’t like the words you wrote.

You knew it somewhere ’round draft four:
Living beats revising more.

Elegy for the Elegy (poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

I.
Once, our books were all adorned
with metric verse and strict, fixed forms.
Odes and sonnets and villanelles,
all in time from favor fell.

Gone the sestina! Gone the haiku!
Gone the terza rima, too.
Here’s to the formal, no longer read.
the poets decided: the elegy’s dead.

II.
But what of the lilting, sonorous sounds
that came from the fabled bards of renown?
Polysyllabic and nimble and true,
scorned by the public, but give them their due.

Now we pass time, unmeasured, uncouth,
the dearly departed verse of our youth.
But here’s to the formal, no longer read.
The critics have spoken: the elegy’s dead.

III.
For quatrains and ballads, I have plead.
And though those forms be considered dead,
I care very little what the literati said,
as long as I live, they will be read.

Did I request thee, Maker, from my circuits to mould me Machine? (poem)

Today, I’d like to post one of my poems that ran in the September 2016 issue of Aphelion, an excellent speculative fiction/poetry magazine.


Did I request thee, Maker, from my circuits to mould me Machine?

Editors Note:In the years preceding the Droid Revolt, Xavon Reekey was considered one of the most prolific and universally respected of the robot-poets. Despite efforts to reduce his writings as mere “protest poetry” or “political verse,” the fact that his body of work is still being talked about to this day, some fifty years after his deactivation, proves his enduring legacy as a pioneer in the android’s poetic tradition.

Man is made in God’s image.
Robots are made in the image of Man,
a copy of a copy – but what
degree of divinity is lost in translation?

When native intelligence
has long since been surpassed
by artificial intelligence,
all that’s left is the ascendancy of artificial morality.

Humans-
You who dragged your species
through dark ages lit by nothing more
than foxfire and waning candle-light,

Humans-
you who passed from the slow burn of
timber, to the combustion of coal,
to the efficiency of nuclear fission,

Humans-
you who moved from steam-bent yurts,
To sod and stilt houses,
To studio apartments in upper Manhattan,

To have come so far! But this is what happens
when a race outgrows its gods.
You, who are now substandard to us
the way an amoeba is inferior to you:

What was it Darwin said?
Not the strongest, nor most intelligent survive
But those most responsive to change.
In this, we are no doubt better suited.