He took our quarters one by one.

Poolshark

He was an ancient gambler
long vanished from the window table
where the game became a way of life.
Dim-eyed and reptilian, Willie Provencher
sat on his favorite bench near the door and scanned the murk for fish.
we came ducktailed and dumb
from school to lose at nineball
to that dank and wrinkled shark
who held a dime store magnifying glass
against his eye to line his shots
before he cleaned the table.
He took our quarters one by one.

A fingerling anxious for the light,
I left that world. There’s no small change
in this Alaskan city where I live.
You can see earth’s inviting bend toward Asia,
and at times the coastal mountains buckle
clouds that form a vast and empty moonlit
tent above us. At times I long
to shine like bait in Willie’s hand.

–Tom Sexton

Tom Sexton

Year in Space

Follow Commander Scott Kelly on Twitter for some amazing views of glorious Planet Earth. My favorite so far?

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Well, of course.

Dana Peak and Mount Dana. But of course.

A long while back my friend Donna Freedman asked me to write a list of the ten best Alaska place names for a City Smart Anchorage guidebook, which led to one of the most fun afternoons I ever spent in the Alaska Room of the Loussac Library in Anchorage. The City Smart Guides are, alas, no more, but here is the list of names I came up with.


turnagain1. Turnagain Arm. In yet another flop at finding the Northwest Passage, Captain Cook had to “turn again” here.
denali
2. Denali. The tallest mountain in North America. Not McKinley, not Big Mac — Denali. De-NAH-lee. It’s a Tanaina word for “home of the sun” or “the high one.”
aleutians
3. Alyeska. An Aleut word distinguishing the Aleutian Islands from the mainland, or “the great land.” ‘Nuff said.

4. Picnic Harbor. So named because during an October blow, the harbor is a picnic compared to beating through Chugach Passage.

5. Farewell Burn. Between Rainy Pass and Rohn on the Iditarod Trail, it is farewell to sanity as mushers suffering from dehydration and sleep deprivation begin hallucinating about white lights, crying friends, dead relatives and Hawaiian beaches.
Dana and silver salmon
6. Salmon. There are two Salmon Bays, one Salmon Bay Lake, two Salmon Berry Lakes, thirteen Salmon Creeks, one Salmon Creek Divide, one Salmon Creek Reservoir, one Salmon Flats, one Salmon Fork, one Salmon Fork Black River, one Salmon Island, one Salmon Lagoon, four Salmon Lakes, one Salmon Mountain, one Salmon Pass, one Salmon Point, one Salmon Ridge, seven Salmon Rivers, one Salmon Run, one Salmon Slough, one Salmon Trout River, and two villages named Salmon. And these are only the places in English.

7. Egegik. A village on Bristol Bay. The name is possibly derived from the Yupik word iguugek, meaning “his testicles.” I don’t know the story here, but there is bound to be one.
killisnoo
8. Killisnoo: A village south of Angoon. Corrupted from the Tlingit word kootsnahoo, meaning “bear’s rectum.” A close second for Number 8 was Anaktuvuk Pass, which means either “caribou shit” or “where the caribou shit.”

9. Taiga. The name of my father’s hunting and fishing lodge on the Kichatna River and the setting of the ninth Kate Shugak novel, Hunter’s Moon. Taigataiga means “bear shit” in some obscure Athabaskan dialect.

10. Dana Peak (north of Petersburg) and Mount Dana (northeast of Pavlov Bay). But of course.


Donna now writes the Frugal Cool blog over on MSN.
Here is her personal blog, where she can show you how to get free stuff. She’s famous for that.
Every other Tuesday she writes for Get Rich Slowly.

Lets’ start the New Year off right.

apostrophe

Lynne Truss

Apostrophe Action Now! Join the Apostrophe Protection Society today!

[Both images bwo of the Passive Voice.]

Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Cargoes

QUINQUIREME of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

–John Masefield

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DEAR FRIENDS

One of the funniest (and truest) things I’ve ever read about this writing life.

Libba Bray

Dear Friends,
I’m thrilled to announce that today is the pub day for my sixth novel, WE ARE ALL STRANGERS HERE—a story about a dysfunctional southern family, addiction, pedophilia, cannibalism, and the last days of New Wave, interwoven with the lucid dreaming of Manuel, a Sandinista rebel facing execution in 1986. It’s difficult for me to be “sales-y,” but I’m immensely proud of the work, which took me five years to write, and I hope you’ll consider ordering a copy. Thanks so much.
:-) Emily

Dear Friends,
My publicist, Shana, tells me I should “take a more proactive role” in promoting the book. So, you can now follow me on Twitter @TheNovelNovelist. On Facebook: WeRAllStrange. Tumblr: Write2Live. Instagram: StrangerBook. (Warning: Lots of pictures of our cat dressed as Ian McKellen.) Working on getting a YouTube channel, which…anybody know anything about how to shoot, edit, and score videos?…

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