24 Mar


By L. Stewart Marsden


You dare demand fair?
All equal and the same?
All share the time and place and then
No losers in the game?
And no one wins?

You dare demand fair?
Where seas are flat and oceans calm
Where winds that blow are soft and safe
And all ships head into the sun?
No waves
No clouds
No treacherous reefs
No storm-streaked nights of gale-sized strife
And all sail easy, harbor-bound
With nothing dangerous ever found?

You dare demand fair?
Where roads and trails are flat and straight
And easy to the leg and foot
Where nothing tests nor challenges
No sweat
No strain
No loss
No gain?
No mountain ranges sharp nor steep,
No pass to wind through valleys deep
Nor vistas gained from thin arêtes?

You dare demand fair?
It would be the most unfair
To make things equal everywhere
And you would never have to dare
Or quake
Or doubt
Or shake your courage up to face
An unfair path
Or stormy sea
Or overwhelming adversity
To strengthen you and your resolve
To carve your character and your fight
So you have victory through the night.

You still demand fair?

 Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 24 March, 2015


When I was a kid …

17 Mar

When I was a kid …

By L. Stewart Marsden


When I was a kid …

We played in the creeks

Where we hunted for tadpoles, and crayfish and more,

And splashed all about in our skinny bare feet;


When I was a kid …

We’d ride miles on our bikes

From dawn until dusk, all over the town

And we rode whenever and wherever we liked;


When I was a kid …

Tall trees were the best

For climbing and building our tree houses and clubs

And eat peanut butter crackers at the top in our nests;


When I was a kid …

We drank from the hoses

Played “King of the Hill” on the steepest of yards

And caught fireflies blinking at night near the roses;


When I was a kid …

We played roll-a-bat

Or Red Rover, Red Rover, or Capture the Flag

And our moms would all holler to see where we’re at;


When I was a kid …

On Saturday morning we went to the movies

To catch up on Buck Rogers — get scared by Lon Chaney

In Wolfman and DraculaReturn of the Mummy;


When I was a kid …

We’d lay flat and look up,

Imagine the clouds were a barnyard of hens

Or a horse or a cow or a quarrelsome duck;


When I was a kid …

Oh, when I was a kid …

The games that we played

And the things that we did …

Are gone now forever and never will be;

How I wish you could live just one single day

When you played and you did all those things

Just like me.


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 17 March, 2015

Say it ain’t so …

12 Mar

The March 16 issue of “Sports Illustrated” arrived today, and on the right side of the cover about midway down length-ways is the lede “Crisis in the Triangle.”

Two articles dig into the latest ACC controversies that effect UNC athletic programs, and Duke’s basketball program. Both are revelatory.

Coach K figures prominently in the report on Rasheed Sulaimon; and the most revered coaches (yes, including Dean Smith) in Chapel Hill history are under the microscope as well.

Of course, all good and true Blue Devil and Tar Heel fans will decry “Foul!” Typical media. Blatant banter.

A quote in the UNC article credited Smith for stating “No matter what universities tell you, they make significant admission allowances for athletes . . . No college team that has made the Final Four over the past 20 years has had a starting team made up of players who got 1,000 on their college boards.”

Surprised? No duh! Big universities. Big athletic programs. Big bucks for the schools. Big pressure.

And I always thought Johnny Dawkins was a Rhodes Scholar candidate.

Who is being hurt? You? Me? Why, a tight Duke-Carolina game is incredible entertainment! ESPN depends on college sports! Restaurants, bars, sporting goods and shoe retailers count on March for a madness that will fill their coffers!

I have a friend I used to work with who would come into work singing his favorite self-written ditty: “I only want to hear GOOD News!”

That’s what we all want. Just a little good news. And now Sports Illustrated has to go and screw it all up.

Duke. And Carolina. My God! Almost as bad — dare I say it — as the ancient ruins of Mesopotamia that are being so callously dismantled by the crazies.

Not really. It is, after all, a matter of perspective. And perhaps our perspective on the importance of mere games is what has got this whole thing so out-of-whack. Like the ancient Romans who filled the Coliseum — let the games continue, despite the effects on society and our culture.

Has the exposé on Ivy League athletic programs come out yet? Just wondered.

How to Publish Your Book Seminar, March 21, 1 to 4 pm

11 Mar


A reminder of the Hickory Writers’ Group free seminar on How to Publish Your Work . . .

Originally posted on Hickory Writers' Group:

Cathy Brophy leads March seminar

“How to Publish Your Book” seminar

Brophy_WarrenPublishingSaturday, March 21, 1 to 4 pm
Patrick Beaver Memorial Library, 375 3rd Street Northeast, Hickory, NC 28601
The free seminar is open to the public. Please complete the form below and submit in order that we know how many attendees for planning purposes.

Cathy Brophy, President of Warren Publishing, Inc., in Charlotte will present how her company works with authors and the various services the company provides.

With over 27 years in the publishing business, Warren Publishing President Cathy Brophy is the author of six award-winning children’s books. She is also a talented documentary film writer, producer and screenwriter with extensive experience as an Executive Producer of music CD’s. Cathy continues to love the editing process. When possible, she likes to delve into the most complicated manuscripts, medical topics being her favorite. And her background as a successful children’s…

View original 55 more words

The Signal

5 Mar



The Signal

By L. Stewart Marsden


He lit the signal,
the passion of two sticks rubbed frantically,
the small blue smoldering flame blown gently,
wistfully — willing it to take hold and burn,
as his yearning for reprieve overwhelmed him,
like the push of the high tide,
and the danger of its ebbing,
leaving him vanquished, sand-covered
on the isolated island and its beach,
beyond the reach of new hope
and new life;
his last-strife drained
and his sun-scorched skin
dried and leathered
on that endless stretch of shell-cobbled shore.

Will no one find me?
Will no one ever care again?
And from where he lay
and breathed through parched lips
he hoped,
one more time,
for that mast to appear
where sky meets sea
and he
would be
one last time.

 Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 5 March, 2015



Writing coterie participants wanted

25 Feb


Writing coterie participants

I’ve been uploading to WordPress for going on four years by the fall of 2015.

In the beginning, I was a helicopter blogger/writer/uploader. I would upload something and then ping back and forth from my WordPress site and the rest of my life. My great hope was that I would be discovered in a matter of days and that would be it.

I know no one else does this. Just me.

So my stats, owing more to longevity than anything else, continue to grow. For the first-time blogger, they must appear somewhat intimidating. Believe me, it’s all appearance.

Another hope of mine was to receive helpful critique of my work. The wonder of most people who write, especially at the beginning, is whether or not their writing is at all good. I imagined my website would net a vast wealth of criticisms that would help me improve as a writer. A continued frustration of mine is that lack of written, critical commentary of my work.

I’ve wondered why that is. I’ve come to some conclusions over time, however right or wrong:

  1. Visitors to my site are also bloggers/writers/uploaders. Some or most are new at it, even if they are at an advanced age (sounds so much more intriguing and genteel than elderly, don’t you think?). As such, they are prone to gentleness and niceness. The fear of those may well be that you get what you give. Maybe a kind of “writer’s karma” which behooves them to take the edge off their analytic observances of the writing of others so that their writing is not battered by scathing remarks. Vocabulary that these visitors resort to mostly are words like nice!, like, really, incredible, great! The intent is that their writing receive the same type of commentary;
  2. That when a visitor clicks on the “Like” option in response to a work, it is a passive acknowledgment of the piece. Very much like when you were a kid and had to give a book report. “I like this book very much and think everyone should read it.” Not really a report that is worth much. An easy out. And for those serious writers, kind of disappointing when one puts so much effort and energy into whatever is their creation. After all, putting something online for the world to see is a vulnerability worth more than a mere clicking of the “like” option.
  3. Many are actually afraid to leave a comment because of their inability to put a finger on what it is that they like. “This is really good! I don’t know why, and can’t tell you why − but I do.” Again, it’s indicative that we don’t want to self-explore why something gets to us; why a poem or a story or a song resonates with us. Too much work, maybe? Or, I’m a smartphone, Facebook, iPad, whatever kind of person and getting too close to anyone − specially when that person is me, I am taken out of my comfort zone. And we all know our primary goal in life is to be comfortable.

As a result of this ongoing purturbation (look it up), I’ve decided to challenge five readers of this post to make a commitment. First, if you can’t identify with any of the above, move on to something else to read, and please don’t do anything to let me know you dropped by — please DON’T click on the “like” button. I already know that request is futile, and some of you will.

The challenge is this:

Join me in a group of five who are willing to enter into a reciprocal writing relationship, that being to read and critique work from the members, and to submit work for members to read and critique. As there are so many poet groups out there (and I have nothing against poets — I are one on occasion), I’d like to keep the writing within the framework of fiction, and of prose. So, no playwrights, no screenwriters, no biographers or memoir writers (unless it’s fiction, of course). Short stories, novellas, novels, epics are fair game. Genre is whatever you are comfortable writing (although I will stipulate no pornography).

The critical elements of plot, characters, dialogue, conflict, rising action, climax, resolution, exposition, setting, etc. are the pivotal parts of scrutiny.

I’ll set the time of your commitment to be at least six months, with the hope the time will continue as the group gels.

The written and understood agreement of each member is to respect the legal ownership of the works discussed.


How to participate

I will cap the group at five members, including myself. If your interest is piqued, then email me at skiipwrite at g mail dot com. When the coterie of five is complete, I’ll take this post down. I’ll leave the post up until that occurs.

I’m going to ignore replies and “likes” on this post, satisfied you will email me if you have any interest in participating.

The Misrememory

24 Feb

The Misrememory

By L. Stewart Marsden

Oh yes! Oh yes, it certainly was …
without a doubt! Or, once I pause and think some more
perhaps it was …
then again, because it happened long ago,
I might have misremembered so,
no – yes – that’s quite it –
there are one or two or three small bits
of vaguery there – in that hazy air –
not that it alters much overall … where
all-in-all it’s still pretty true …
and you and yours can bank on that!
Oh yes! You can! You surely, truly can depend on that!

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 24 February, 2015

Winter of the Best Snow

24 Feb


In tribute of days long-past; of a time long-remembered.

Originally posted on Writing Odds n Ends:


Winter of the Best Snow
by L. Stewart Marsden

Every Wednesday like clockwork for three weeks in a row
the weather forecasters forecasted deep snow.

Six to eight inches, they predicted each week.
The response of each child was a deep-hearted shriek
of delight, for that night in the dark the clouds would roll in
and silently, softly, the snow would begin
to fall to the earth.

School is closed. Locked up tighter than tight
and no worries o’er hist’ry nor mathmatics tonight —
For tonight all our noses are glued to the panes
of our windows and we know that the remains
of the storm — half a foot of white snow
awaits on the morrow for an army of kids.

Oh! Wax the red runners of Flexi-brand sleds,
Dig out toboggans and mittens and dredge
out old sweaters and stockings and stuff
and muff up our ears and…

View original 194 more words

when your child might die

23 Feb




when your child might die

By L. Stewart Marsden


there is no one knows
the empty stomach-pit fit
when your child might die;
there is no source for tears
that tear† through eyes –
but so soon dry and shrivel
like pitted prunes sapped sere by
the hot, ruthless sun;
who knows the throes
of heart and throat –
that ache beyond belief
at how your child might
cease to cry or laugh or wail in anger;
borne away by some horrid thief
that managed to break in
and take the thing –
the one thing –
you ever cared about or for;
there is no one knows,
when your child might die,
unless, of course,
they know.


 †pronounced “tare”
Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 23 February, 2015

My SNL 40th Anniversary Celebration Review

15 Feb

SNL 40 Year Anniversary:
You Can’t Go Home Again

By L. Stewart Marsden

One of the first sketches I remember of Saturday Night Live was a filmed bit Eddie Murphy did of an inmate who had been “discovered” by the art community. “Cil My Landlord,” I believe was the title of the sketch.

It was that perfect mix of satire and contemporary news – of the art community gravitating to the expressions of an incarcerated criminal – celebrating the creative genius of the riff-raff, and patting themselves on the back for their (the art community) sensitivity.

Cil, my landlord.

There’s something about new and breaking-the-mold events that are nearly impossible to recreate.

Star Wars. Jaws. Jurassic Park. Apple MacIntosh. A Chorus Line.

It’s difficult to repeat the same kind of response. The impact. So new. So different. So much beyond and outside the lines.

So, too, SNL.

If you could capture the moment and bottle it – the first “Live, it’s Saturday Night!” – and bottle it, it would have been like the Fountain of Youth; the elixir that would change the world.

The timing, the risk, the veritable uniqueness of the show was a one-time event.

And try as he might, the great Lorne Michaels could not duplicate the atom-smashing moment, and has not throughout the years.

Like so many other attempts: That Was the Week That Was; Hee-Haw; Laugh-In.

The 40th anniversary of SNL simply reminded me of how much time has elapsed. Forty damn years! Most of the stalwarts of the show have either died or gone to Hollywood to star in SNL-type movies – none of which I spent good money to see on the big screen, but waited to see on television. Netflix fare.

There are those I miss: Gilda Radner; the creative Eddie Murphy; the thinner, prat-falling Chevy Chase. Of course, John Belushi.

Now, SNL seems to be the bush league training ground for those who aim for bigger and better, even though bigger and better is relative. Their time at SNL seemingly unappreciated.

Today the humor is strained, at best. Actually, it’s unfair of me to assess it, because I no longer stay up for the show. Most of the times it’s reruns anyway.

The celebration of forty years on television was more of a statement of refusal to die than successful living. Somewhat pathetic. What once was unique and fresh is strained and filled with undo effort, like trying to pass a kidney stone, or correct an impacted bowel.

Tonight the celebratory three-hour telecast was more like a wake without the whiskey. There were laughs, of course, but they tended to be – at least for me – at the first few years. When SNL was new. When no one knew if it would extend beyond its first contract year. When Loren Michaels had something to prove and nothing to lose.

Tonight was almost like a Mad Magazine parody of SNL. All of the famous faces. Some of the funny snippets of sketches. And why the hell put Miley Cyrus as the featured artist, for god’s sake?

It was NBC’s vain attempt to mask the Brian Williams fiasco – even though several people – thank you Jim Carey – asked where Brian was. It was also the night when most sports fans were watching the NBA All-Star game (except me). It was the weekend when winter weather was the prevailing news.

Did you hear the thud?

Alas and alack, the 40th Anniversary of SNL did not live up to the 2-hour hype. Some moments, of course. But mostly, blah.

I wonder what the audience for the broadcast was?

After all, we’ve got the three-hour Oscars coming up. Oh, joy.


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 15 February, 2015

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