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One or the Other: A Play
By Emily Vieweg

Place: (Director's choice)
Casting: Gender Neutral

ONE: knows he is insane, but expresses self as rational, stable, the reason why doctors would believe he is sane

OTHER: believes he has a pretty firm grip of reality, tries on occasion to maintain conversation but loses focus, the reason why doctors would believe he is insane

"SCREAMER" (optional)

SCENE: ONE and OTHER are speaking to each other, but we are also looking at the inner-workings of random thoughts. Do not play as "insane." These characters are quite aware of reality, but repeatedly get lost in their own worlds as they contemplate waiting. This could be considered one character's inner conflict, played by two actors.

---------

ONE
Crazy I tell ya, crazy! No, this is not a slapstick film noir of the 20s or a Bogart film from whatever decade he was popular, this is just me being odd, well that's what they tell me. No, not the voices in my head; that would be cliché for sure.

OTHER
Just the "them" in the room, in life.

ONE
They tell me it's like a Bogart film. (short gasp) They said don't say that in public

SCREAMER (shrill scream, honest fear) (Scream can be from ONE or from offstage, but it must be live)

ONE
I'm the weirdo - that's what they call me.

OTHER
The one who peed his pants

ONE
Because I wanted to NOT leave class because I couldn't ya know?

OTHER
He couldn't leave without asking permission, right?

ONE
Anyway I'm weird. Weirdly odd, strangely amazing.

OTHER
That's what he says. (pause) Green
(pause)

ONE
I don't know why I like that word, it ends up in every random thought. Just . . .

OTHER
Green?

ONE
Not like envy, more like . . .

OTHER
"New" or a clichéd-innocent - I don't know.

ONE
Purple's another one.

OTHER
Not violet

ONE
Not blue-red-violetta, just... purple -

OTHER
Green

ONE
New

OTHER
Bored

ONE
Bored

OTHER
Alone

ONE
Green (LONG PAUSE) Strangely new, despite my blue-idity

OTHER
That's not a word

ONE
It is now!

OTHER
(long pause) Persnickety -

ONE
That's a word

OTHER
Yeah, I'd say that's me. But not about THINGS . . . about body space.

ONE
I must have an arm's length on my right, especially in an audience.

OTHER
Gotta be on the aisle, but not on a plane. Give me the window - that's where the world space explodes.

ONE
Even though it does become
(One beat. Both turn to full profile facing each Other.)

BOTH
Really bright above the clouds (one beat) where the birds fly -

ONE
Without the fear of frightening lightning.

OTHER
I have to close the window shade so I can sleep. Then I have to grin and grind over the bodies of two people next to me so I can make it to the blue water behind the plastic door

ONE (matter-of-fact)
Stewardesses are brave now. Now they're flight attendants. Now there are men.
(long pause)

OTHER
(look at ONE, slightly confused)
When I was a kid they were women and other "esses"

ONE
I don't know why I hear these things in my head. I told you they say I'm weird

OTHER (interjecting)
I'm a crazy anal speller and grammar Nazi.

ONE
Jesus, what's wrong with me I have no idea
(the list below should be read quickly back and forth, almost causing the audience to "watch a tennis match")

OTHER
My shrink gave me meds for anxiety. I don't think I'm anxious I mean hell, all I am is 30

ONE
A mother

OTHER
A father, a daughter

ONE
A son, a worker

OTHER
An assistant

ONE
A manager

OTHER
A household doofus

ONE
A clean freak

OTHER
Or not

ONE
An owner of two cats

OTHER
And a hamster. They

ONE (interject, to audience)
The cats

OTHER
Tear up the kitchen and climb on the stove that's

ONE
Luckily turned off

OTHER
But still I have no clue why Brian wants to be near me

ONE
Is Brian a man or one of the cats?
(Pause)

OTHER
What is wrong with him that he thinks I am normal? What thefuck?

ONE
He needs to go if he thinks you're normal

OTHER
There must be some sadistic side of him that wants to make me stranger than I already am

ONE
Jesus how am I supposed to function if I can't manage another life

OTHER
Cats, kids

ONE
Creation, complaints

OTHER
Compromises, killing sprees

ONE
Knees on fire from rug burns on Saturday nights

OTHER
A killer riff on Guitar Hero

ONE
My kid is a whiz on bass, by the way

OTHER
But for some this is normal

ONE
For some this is stable

OTHER
For some I am okay

ONE
I am steady

OTHER
I am successful

ONE
No I'm not. I'm fucked up and in - and on - and Christ I'm crazy.

OTHER
Crazy, I tell ya, crazy.

ONE
Like Bogart would say.

OTHER
Bogart.

ONE
Film noir

OTHER
The falcon... the bird...
(LONG pause)

ONE (to audience)
Why don't they believe that I'm crazy?

OTHER (to audience)
Why don't they believe that I'm sane?

ONE (turns, honestly connects with OTHER for the first time)

OTHER (matter-of-fact)
Kellen thinks you're crazy.

ONE
Who's that?

OTHER
He's my brother.

ONE
Does he know me?

OTHER
No

ONE
What does he know?

OTHER (looks up to ceiling, slow breath)
Everything.



The End

Abergwesyn Chapel
A Writing Prompt
By Lorraine Voss

The first task is a piece of nature writing. So we will sit outside for 20 minutes and write, not just about what we see, but what we feel hear and smell.














     Peeking like a March Hare, dark eyes underlined in stone, face half veiled by privet, toup? squiff and cable curls resting on a pallid magnolia brow she squats, awaiting unavoidable tumbledown. Her poorly uniformed, wire-strung fence posts and rusted wrought iron gate stage a lazy defence while ray and raindrop peer and pour through the threadbare edges of her Betws slate bonnet. The lack of deciduous leaves sets the date as early April and in a quilt of surrounding fields the gambolling lambs seem happy to corroborate.
     An audience of meadow grass, bowed in quiet reverence as evidenced by this still shot, was seen to dance and sway on the morning of day of my description. More Gospel than Methodist in its madness. More Screaming Lord than Terfel in its chorus. The natural symphony defied simple description. An audio hyperbole; its component parts too complex and divine to disassemble. For fear of an injustice I shall only say the whistle of the wagtail, the wind and the blackbird; the skiffle of raindrops on those dark and glassy eyes; the percussive river beaten pebble verse; a list of sounds unmentioned and a few with anonymity, made me smile.
     The cheer however, was brief. The scene for some simpering, soul felt reason, left me maudling. I placed all blame on the shoulders of aging decay and turned to go. Luckily, as I left, a baker's batch of head bobbing daffodils, egg yolk sunny and cymreig as cawl caught my saddened sight. 
My final parting thought was, delightful!

Same task, but in verse:

Poem Version

Peeking like a meerkat, dark eyes underlined in stone,
face half veiled by privet,
toup? squiff
and cable curls resting on a pallid magnolia brow she squats,
awaiting unavoidable tumbledown.

Her poorly uniformed, wire-strung fence posts and
rusted wrought iron gate stage a lazy defence
while ray and raindrop peer
and pour through the threadbare edges
of her Betws slate bonnet.

The lack of deciduous leaves sets the date as early April
and in a quilt of surrounding fields
the gambolling lambs seem happy to corroborate.

An audience of meadow grass, bowed in quiet reverence
as evidenced by this Fugi still shot,
was seen to dance and sway
on the morning of day of my description.

More Gospel than Methodist in its madness.
More Screaming Lord than Terfel in its chorus.
The natural symphony defied simple description.
An audio hyperbole;
its component parts too complex
and divine to disassemble.

For fear of an injustice I shall only say
the whistle of the wagtail,
the wind and the blackbird;
the skiffle of raindrops on those dark and glassy eyes;
the percussive river beaten pebble verse;
a list of sounds unmentioned and
a few with anonymity,
made me smile.

The cheer however, was brief.
The scene for some simpering, soul felt reason,
left me maudling.

I placed a weight blame
on the shoulders of aging decay
and turned to go.

Luckily, as I left,
a baker's batch of head bobbing daffodils,
egg yolk sunny and cymraeg as caul
caught my saddened sight. 

My final parting thought was,
'Quite delightful!'


The End

Click on the cover to order from Barnes and Noble

The Nest: An Anthology of the Unreal
by Jade Miller (Editor), Julie DiNisio (Editor), Christine Stoddard (Editor)
Imaginary. Nostalgic. Otherworldly. These are the words that inspire the creators of Quail Bell Magazine every day. Since 2010, The Quail Bell Crew has explored the arts,history, folklore, and other oddities through a variety of fiction and non-fiction forms. This anthology represents a sampling of their favorite essays and articles from 2010-2012.


_______________
Interview with D. Russel Micnhimer
By Nalini Priyadarshni

D. Russel Micnhimer is an American poet and rock art (pictographs and petroglyphs) expert who has been writing poetry for forty five years while working at a variety of jobs and traveling through much of the world pursuing his interests in the archaeology of ancient civilizations and rock art they have left behind. He has authored numerous books including novels, novellas, a poetry collection and a Guidebook to Rock Art locations. His latest book Notes to Be Left with the Gatekeeper by Global Fraternity of Poets, India, won him the title of Poet Laureate at the Dr. Yayati Madan G Gandhi International Poetry Awards. He now lives in a secluded cabin with a two hundred mile view of the snowcapped Cascade Mountains out the front window in Central Oregon and approximately seven thousand volume library he has acquired through the years. His latest books include Lotus Mirage, a collection of 52 new English ghazals, Lotus Mirage and Leaves and Pebbles, a collection of his early poems.

(This interview was conducted via email)

Nalini: You are a writer of prose and poetry. Can you tell us how different are the two medium of expression? Do you prefer one of the other?

Russel: Prose is a much more ordered process; poetry allows more latitude and innovation.  With nonfiction prose one must be precise and do one's best to follow well recognized grammatical conventions and be inclusive by including the transitions between parts.  Fictional prose allows more freedom with things like transitions, sentence structure and the like.  Poetry allows much more latitude and freedom to play with the language.  Sometimes that isn't very pretty in the final analysis, but often it leads to expressions of ideas and images in innovative ways that really make the language vibrate with aliveness.  Since in real life I prefer as few rules as possible, naturally poetry appeals more to my nature.

Nalini: What's your writing process like - an organic discovery or a methodical construction?

Russel: I will speak to poetry here.  It can be both and is often a combination. If one is employing a particular form to write a poem then I believe in adhering (in most cases) to the definition of that form. That is not to say that many forms don't have room for innovation, but I am a firm believer that, unless you know the rules, you cannot effectively break them.  This idea seems to be totally abandoned by many writers these days, I think to the great detriment of the art.

Frequently, even when employing form, the process seems one of unfolding revelations with words often times combining in quite unexpected ways and images rubbing against one another in the unlikeliest of manners.  Many times I simply begin by writing down a phrase or an idea that comes to mind and then just continuing, letting the ideas develop as they will, until at some point they will come to a conclusion. Often I am surprised by the path and the direction and the denouement of a poem-I figure, rightfully or wrongfully, that if there is delight in that process for me then there might also be for the reader or listener.

Nalini: What would you tell your younger self if you could travel back?

Russel: Many things of course, but among them about writing I would say do it more.  Make it more of a steady habit and make it complete whenever possible because for me going back to poems I don't complete at the time is nearly impossible.  They are born of the moment and getting back to such inspired moments, for me at least, is all but impossible. Devise the best system you are able to keep track of what you write-that is easier these days with computers-otherwise you end up with huge piles of paper that it becomes a real task to sort out later.  But mostly I would say again as I learned early on from Joseph Campbell, "Follow your bliss."  And write about the life you create from that constantly.  Oh, and take responsibility for the creation of your life much earlier. Develop a sense of sharing of the beauty and inspiration you find as early on as possible; I derive much joy when I know my sharing has been genuine with someone else. Oh and probably, listen more and talk less.

Nalini: What inspires you - in life and in literature?

Russel: Anything and everything can be inspirational when it comes to writing poetry.  Beauty in no matter what form, human or nature is sure to kindle sparks.  As a student of literature all my life just about anything I can say about literature would be a cliché, however, as a corollary to making a habit of writing, make it also a habit of reading and let your own tastes and interests be your guide rather than relying on lists created by others which is not to say do not pay attention to what those you respect might recommend.

Nalini: Do you have a favorite philosophy? What makes it attractive to you?

Russel: There are many belief systems and most have points that are attractive.  I tend to be drawn toward those that I can practice and prove their worth to myself without needing to attach myself to a belief system.  The Classical Chinese Book of Changes, the I-Ching is probably the one I most revere.  It relies on the methods by which nature functions to teach us of our own nature.  The "sudden enlightenment" school of Zen would probably be the closest I might come to a philosophic discipline-though again, it is not a system of beliefs, but an experiential technique.  If one is to understand the world though I think it is prudent to educate oneself as thoroughly as possible with all major systems by which wisdom is transmitted from generation to generation.  That has been a huge part of my educational process.

Nalini: You are one of those rare American poets who not only write ghazals but have a collection to your credit. Tell us about Lotus Mirage and how it came to be written.

Russel: I made friends with many poets in India and one of them happened to mention the form as being one of her favorites and she told me a bit about the traditions surrounding the form there.  Intrigued, I set out to write her one.  I kept researching the form and each time I did I discovered something new about it.  And each time, I tried to incorporate what I had newly learned into the next one.  This went on for a while until I had a dozen or so and by that time I was hooked.  It was a whole different way of using rhyme and lines than I had run across before.  With her continued reading and appreciation of them I soon had a dozen or so written.  But it was only by then that I figured I really knew enough to aspire to write a good one.  From experience with sonnets and sestinas and other western forms, I knew one does not master a form with only a few tries, so I decided that 52 (one a week) would be a good number to try for.  Time in my life then allowed me to write one a day and it became almost (ha!) totally an obsession.  And before long there were 52 of them.  She was my muse so I dedicated the collection to her and had it published.  As far as I know I haven't removed any "real" ghazal singers from their revered positions-probably good for them I can't sing a note!  I say that tongue in cheek of course, but I do hope among the collection of Lotus Mirage there may be a few that are acceptable.  It was certainly a pleasure to learn a new form.  And my friend liked them a lot.

Nalini: Your book Leaves and Pebbles consists of poetry written between 1981- 2014. Does it trace your poetic journey over the years?

Russel: I'm not sure I understand the question, but, at some point I decided that being a poet was a part of who I am and from then on just wrote poetry whenever it seemed appropriate.  Having studied English literature in college surely gave me the appreciation for what poetry could be and the joy and other emotions it was capable of expressing.  That kind of impact would serve me as inspiration when I did write. How much got written varied considerably depending on circumstance but I always had a notebook near.

Nalini: You are the only poet I know who has written poetry using such wide range of poetic forms. What make them so attractive to you?

Russel: If one has the patience and discipline to study forms and then try to practice them it increases one's ability and adeptness at using language.  Each form forces you to organize language in a different way than "normal". Many forms have different sub-forms and each of those teaches something a little different than the others.  A sonnet is a good example-Shakespearean, Petrarchian or Spensarian-each has a different rhyme scheme and line scheme although they each have fourteen lines.  After a while they just become more and more fun; always a challenge to do well.  And all around the world most cultures have their own forms so it is interesting to explore those.  Once one has reasonably mastered a form by practice, one can begin to play with it and bend or break or modify the rules and make up one's own rules.  All of these exercises cumulatively put a lot more usefulness into the poet's toolbox.  Not only that, when a subject arises about which one wants to write a poem, by knowing many forms, one is more likely to arrive at one that best merges form and content.  But that best answer is because they are just plain fun to write in; and for someone who loves variety in fun, that is of paramount importance.

What is your advice to budding writers?

Anyone can profess to be a poet or a writer. The thing that separates the real ones from the rest is that they write. Write, write, write and then write some more. That and study the craft. It is a craft and many have practiced it before, seek to learn from them. To not due so deprives the poet of a huge arsenal of useful tools that may be employed. Sure, there may be a select few who really do not need education in order to write decent poetry, but they are few and far between. At least that has been my experience. Reading and listening to other poets is something I include in that process of learning. Take note of what you like. Few find their own voice over night; some never do but if you don't keep writing it is guaranteed you never will. Remember too that there is not an editor who is going to come around and ask if you have a box of poetry under the bed that you would like to share. So share it every chance you get.

The End
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Lotus Mirage  
by D. Russel Micnhimer
Fifty Two new Ghazals in English.
Click on the cover to order from Amazon

A New Orchid Myth  
by Helene Pilibosian
A New Orchid Myth is a fantasy-reality tale explores the possibility of a different kind of civilization on the planet Tome from which Mr. and Mrs. Everydream descend to Earth. They find life in New York City puzzling, but extensive travel within the states gives them a broader landscape. Look for the magic of flowers and for the story with an unlikely ending. From Ohan Press, or from Amazon.com.