By The Light of The Moon

LPTrends Short Fiction: By The Light of The Moon.

by Kathryn Mattingly

I remember lookin’ at Tom sittin’ there lickin’ his paws contentedly and thought about when the monstrous black cat first graced me with his presence. He wasn’t really my pet. Tom wasn’t anybody’s pet. He simply became a fixture in the corners of your life as it suited him, before moving on. I knew this about Tom because one day he just showed up. I opened the squeaky screen door on a muggy July morning to retrieve a fat Sunday paper with the colored comics stickin’ out in a tempting anticipatory manner, and there he was, sprawled across my porch swing meowing crankily.

I asked him who he thought he was, layin’ there on my porch swing like that, but he only pushed his nose up into the thickly humid Illinois air and squinted his big yellow eyes at me. Tom was purring in a most flirtatious manner and was quite receptive to my sensual stroking of his sleek black fur. As if knowing I was a young widow without a soul to care for, he took full advantage of my pampering services.


I didn’t have to say here kitty twice when laying a dish of cream at his feet. After he’d licked the blue china bowl clean, he claimed the porch as his own for the morning. I felt obliged to give him left over catfish from Friday night dinner at noontime, with some more of the cream.

That was the last of it and there was none for my evening coffee, so I mozzied on over to the market later that afternoon where I picked up a few cans of cat food too, just in case Mr. Tom was still around when I returned.

He was. I all but charged him rent on the front porch after that. My flowery pillows on the white painted slats of the porch swing became covered in short black fur. Tom hollowed out a nest in the foliage by the railing, where sometimes he curled up in a ball and hid from the bothersome busyness of the day. Only in the dead of winter did he come inside to claim my rag rug in front of the toasty fire for long cozy naps. Weather permitting, when shadows of night fell to the ground like heavy dew, Tom was gone. Not to be seen again until well past dawn. As long as crickets were chirping in the thick grass out back, or a frog was heard ribbitting down by the river over yonder toward Lilac Lane, he was nowhere near.

One day a woman from Scarlet Drive came by selling raffle tickets door to door for her church. “Where’d you get that cat?” she’d asked.

“I didn’t get him. He got me. Just showed up one day and decided to stay for awhile,” I replied.

“I had me a Tom like that one.” She nodded toward the swing where Tom was perched like a king on the flowered pillows watching her. He did have a knowing look in his glowing gold eyes, and was switching and twitching his tail, which was not at all his usual bored demeanor for my guests.

“He went and run off on me one night after a full blown harvest moon so big and yellow you could sort your socks by it. Truth be known he ran off on me every night, but this time he didn’t come back,” she added, staring at him all the while.

“Tom’s been here going on a year now. When’d you lose your cat?” I asked, hoping the time didn’t match at all.

“Oh, it’s been about that long,” she offered up. “How’d you know his name was Tom?”

“Well, I didn’t. But he looks like any typical ole’ tomcat to me, so it fit.”

“Ain’t nothin typical about that cat,” she scolded. “Look at him, lying there like he owns the place. That’s one pristine pampered animal for an alley runner. Don’t look like he’s ever met his match in a feline scrape.”

“Yep, he’s a big healthy one for sure,” I agreed. “Did you get your Tom as a kitten?” I asked, wondering if my Tommy had ever been a kitten, he seemed so ageless.

“Nope. My Tom showed up looking for a free meal all growed and sassy, and took over my tiny fenced yard as if he ruled it, sleeping in the petunia beds whenever he wished.”

I sighed with relief when she left, and hadn’t bought a raffle ticket, hoping she wouldn’t come back. I’d grown rather fond of Tom and didn’t want to lose him to Scarlet Drive, whether he’d wandered over here from there or not. I decided that my Tommy most likely had a whole slew of homes he’d borrowed until boredom or more pressing feline matters summoned him.

I realized one day he would no longer grace my porch either, lickin’ cream off his chin with a long scratchy pink tongue, or batting flies after a good days napping, just prior to his running off to romp down by the river, slinking between thick reeds along the bank, catchin’ any number of interesting critters for amusement.

I heard once about cats dancin’ by the light of the moon. My Auntie Jane told me the story when I was just a child. She said as a little girl she followed her calico kitty one day down to the river. The harvest moon was full and bright, and she knew those riverbanks like the back of her hand, so she wasn’t scared at all. When she got to the clearing around the furthest bend it nearly took her breath away, all the cats there meowing long and low to the moon, rolling around in the grass like they was playin’.

And then my Auntie Jane says she must have fallen asleep, ‘cause she remembers hearing fiddle music all of a sudden. Coming from nowhere really, but so loud and sweet it made your soul ache. And before she knew it those silly cats were twisting and turning into lords and ladies, looking so fine in their silky gowns and satiny tuxes, tall and slender, every one of them pretty as a picture. They were elegant and all in tune, partnered up and swirling about.

Auntie Jane says she must have been dreamin’ there in the dewy grass, exhausted from chasing down her calico pet, ‘cause several of those handsome people were young adults she knew to be deader than doornails. One was Carly Canton, who had drowned that summer at sweet sixteen. Carly’d been a bit of a wild one, with long freckled legs and wavy red hair. As red as Calico’s brightest patches of fur, Auntie Jane had observed, which might have contributed to the dreamin’ and all, she admitted.

Poor Carly was caught by an undertow and everyone believed it was shameful what with her having been drinkin’ that cold frothy beer at her tender age. No excuse just ‘cause it were hotter than blazes, all the adults had said. Never, never drink and swim!

Auntie Jane especially remembered that summer when Carly died, ‘cause the calico cat appeared not two days later. She’d cheered everyone up a little, playing with the dozens and dozens of butterflies flitting about in the fields. Auntie Jane had begged please mama let me keep her until finally her mama had said alright then Jane, just quit a pesterin’ me!

“Billy Mosier was one of them lads in the stylish black tuxes, out there dancin’ like a jitterbug on a tree stump,” Auntie Jane had said. “He’d wrecked his suped up sports car at not quite nineteen that very same summer. Wrapped it clear around a big oak tree just outside of town. Billy was a looker, and all the girls mourned his death for quite a while. He had a way about him, what with that dark silky hair fallin’ over thick lashed eyes,” Auntie Jane admitted to me with a sigh. “He always dressed in black, from his wrangler jeans to his shiny leather jackets and polished boots. ‘Cept in summer. Then he drove the girls wild with his sleeveless T’s, showing all them muscles on his big strong arms.” Auntie Jane laughed when she told me that.

Can you imagine such a dream where all the young people, whose lives were cut short by an untimely death, turn into finicky felines and frolic about under the harvest moon? To think they became human again for one night of romping good fun down by the river! My Auntie Jane was a wonder with her tales of such silliness. She never lacked for imagination, and yet I believed she had her wits about her more so than those that would say otherwise.

Tom came crawlin’ back after the last harvest moon plum tuckered out enough to have been dancin’ all night for sure. Lookin like something the cat dragged in, I told him, but he only closed them bright yellow eyes to my smart-alecky tone. If I didn’t know any better, I’d believe the entire tale Auntie Jane told me, ‘cause that tomcat barely woke up long enough to eat for nearly a week. No more roamin’ the hot Indian summer nights after that either, just rolling on his back in the dewy grass out front, and batting an occasional firefly.

This particular summer my niece Lillian Landis graced Tom and me with her presence. Her mama done had it with Lillian, and I thought a cooling off period might not be such a bad thing. I offered to take the rebellious teen into my home for a spell. My sister, Rosie, was grateful to send her to me so she could make it through a day without tears and trauma. Sis knew I couldn’t keep that child from her evening escapades with all the other teens in town, but I did promise to make the lovely Lillian compromise between cautious conduct and careless carousing.

She was a lovely sight, that girl. Missy Lil had attributes to match her name, being a delicate child with smooth lilywhite skin, and a fragile sweetness about her despite the rebelliousness of late. One night I prepared to follow Lil out the door and down to the river, where I’d heard them naughty young folk were skinny-dipping and laughin’ up a storm on these hot muggy nights we’d had of late. The river backed up into one big pond by the cliffs and it was there I could see them all clearly in the light of the near full moon. They were lyin’ about real snuggly like and kissin’ between drinkin’ and smokin’, and jumpin’ into the water to cool off their sweaty skin. Probably more overheated from all that kissin’ than the suffocatin’ weather.

I decided right then and there that my niece would not be returning to the banks of the river where sin was runnin’ near amuck amongst our wild and willful youth. The only thing keeping me from draggin’ her sorry self home right then was the mere fact of rapid waters between us flowin’ steady and strong along the banks of my field and the cliffs of her rompin’ grounds. By the time I would forge my way to the other side, she would surely already be headin’ home.

Oh how I longed to see her lilywhite face by midnight, which was our agreed upon curfew, but she didn’t appear at that hour, or the next. Finally I called Rosie and the police. They showed up at dawn with Tom, who was dismayed to come home from his prowling about only to find a parcel of strangers on his coveted porch. At noon Rosie and I sat on the swing exhausted from worry. Tom was curled up tight nestled in the foliage beside the porch rail. Nothing was stirring but the bees on the honeysuckle.

A squad car pulled up and my heart near leapt into my throat as the officer approached us. Sure enough our Lillian had been found, her sweet little body all mangled like a crushed flower, fallen over the cliffs by the river. Lots of alcohol was found in her blood after tests determined she had stumbled to her death. Rosie was overtaken with grief and there was nothing I could do to help. My own sadness made me restless as a cat; pouncing on anyone who dared knock at my door for weeks after the funeral.

I had almost forgotten it was time for that bright harvest moon again, until it slowly began to rise one night, the sky all-aglow from its shimmering haze. Tom slinked off with a decidedly perky prance that evening, his sleek black fur nearly standing on end. For what I wondered? I thought about my Auntie Jane and her crazy story of the dancing cats turning into lords and ladies, takin’ on familiar faces of the young and foolish, whirling about in the light of that big yellow sphere, defying their tragic deaths. What nonsense it was, but still, it soothed my aching heart to think that just maybe my Miss Lil could be all footloose and fancy free like that for a full harvest moon, despite the fall that brought her future to a sudden halt.

I snuck down to the river that night, and was able to see every plump ripe blackberry on the bushes along the bank, that moon was so bright. It did take awhile to reach the shore, as I’d near forgotten what a hefty hike it was. Pantin’ up a storm I peeked through the reeds and wondered what them teens from town were doing on the other shore, by the pooled up water near the cliffs. I soon forgot about them entirely, as my eyes beheld a feline fantasy. Every cat imaginable was lying about, swishing their tales and licking their paws, as I lie in the cool grass and watch through my bed of reeds. Next I cannot be sure what happened. I suspect I fell asleep from weariness and dreamed the dreams of Auntie Jane long ago. For soon every cat began twisting and twitching about until their bodies slithered into fancy gowned gals and gussied up suitors.

I watched them dance eloquently and became mesmerized by soft melodies on a faraway fiddle. Shadows moved across a voluptuous harvest moon, and kept in motion with the haunting tunes. I dared to believe I saw our Miss Lillian, all titillating in green taffeta, her emerald eyes set off by the stunning gown. She danced with an alluring young stranger who could have been Billie Mosier, what with his dark tousled hair tumbling over thickly lashed eyes.

I awoke, at just past dawn, with the field before the flowing river clear and void of all movement, cat or ghost either one. Dazed, I stumbled home and slept til well past noon. When I slid open the squeaky screen door to glance about for Mr. Tom, he was nowhere to be seen, but I had to look twice upon the gently rocking swing, for its yellow flowered pillows held another feline now. A dainty white cat lay there all prettily perched upon her back haunches, whining a high-pitched meow at me. I near stared right through her glowing green eyes and then quickly went to fetch some cream.

A few weeks later Rosie came by, her first time out since dear Lillian’s death. She asked me who was playin’ queen, lookin’ all pampered there on the porch swing. I told my sister I had no idea where that Tom had run off to, or why the white tabby now fancied this her home. Rosie asked what was I gonna call the cat, for Tom would never do.

I came and stood beside my sis there at the door and gazed upon the sublime creature that had left her queenly swing every evening to carouse along the river.  I shrugged an indication of not having bothered with a name, and Rosie took it upon herself to call the fluffy feline Snowball. T’wasn’t a chance in hell the rebellious bundle of fur would allow for such a silly name. My choice was more fitting, although I was quite careful not to mention it around my dear sister, who packed up and moved to Florida in order to forget her pain.

My new feline friend and I have snuggled up every morning since then on the white slat swing, where I read the daily paper and my delicate Miss Lily drinks her cream. I’ve seen Tom on several occasions, hangin’ about when the shadows fall sideways and evening dew begins to gather. He sits off aways in the distance beyond the picket gate and waits for Lily to finish grooming her dainty little face with her sticky pink tongue. When finished, she bolts from the chair in a most graceful manner and is off with her tomcat, who has come a callin’ …to roam along the river in search of whatever it is that can only be seen by the light of the moon.

By The Light of The Moon has twice received recognition for excellence and is published in 2 different anthologies: WomanScapes by DLSIJ Press and Internationally Yours: Prize Winning Stories by Joyous Publishing. 

Other work by Kathryn Mattingly: The Stein Collection



Filmmaker Travis Andrade Dreams Big

#LPTRendsFilm: Interview w/Travis Andrade. An online database and mobile app to experience histories greatest…writer Kathryn Mattingly takes you a journey of dreams, clouds, and talent as she introduces you to a filmmaker we know you’ll hear more of, and just one more example of innovation and creative intelligence at work in today’s technological wonderland._______________________

“What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.”

                                                                                                                         ~Victor Hugo

Recently I went to the CloudBiography website looking for information on Ghandi and there it was – at least all the important stuff. For my purposes that would be the highlights of who he was and what he did, and when he did it… rather than the nitty-gritty details of his every angst from birth to death.

You might say the video on CloudBiography kept my head out of the clouds – where daydreaming happens if bored to death by pointless details. The short films are stimulating, interesting and a far cry from high school history class! No monotone voice to deal with either. It’s a pleasant accented gentlemen you can easily envision sitting beside on a hot day while sporting khakis and leaning against some ancient stone wall, pondering the mysteries of life. Or should I say pondering the mysterious of those who lived life so beautifully out-of-the-box?

“All of these historical figures, for better or worse, changed the world.”

                                                                                                            ~CloudBiography

Travis Andrade and his masterful team founded this online database, comprised of short videos on approximately 80 worthy historical figures so far. They plan to have hundreds within the year. You can find these informative clips on the well-known greats at: http://www.cloudbiography.com/

Everyone from Beethoven to Karl Marx and the Wright Brothers are there. I learned more from these ‘video cliff notes’ (as Travis fondly calls them) than I ever did in school. Travis and his team successfully raised funds through Kickstarter.com (an online fundraising platform for entrepreneurs) to build a mobile app for their site. Because of this app, Travis and his team have reached several hundred thousand people in over 150 countries between their website, blog and YouTube channel Cloud Bio.

The Interview

I recently asked Travis some questions about the past that formed him, the present that drives him – and the future he’s planning.

I know that you’re originally from the Bay area, but where else have you lived and where are you presently located?

I live in Brooklyn, NY. At 13 years old my family moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Memphis, Tennessee. I attended High School in Memphis and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University, which is located outside of Nashville.

When were you first interested in history?

I think my interest in history evolved as a byproduct of diving into countless period films and documentaries. I enjoy the experience of witnessing character drama that unfolds as a result of any cultural implications that may serve as story anchors. I find this both in fiction and nonfiction. Even when these stories are of some ancient or medieval culture, the drama still manages to feel fresh and real.

Who are your team for the CloudBiographies website and how did you meet them?

Val is one member of our team whom I met in film school. She’s a filmmaker and web designer. I had the opportunity to make a short film and during post-production in Rome I taught English, both privately and in a few elementary and middle schools. That experience led me to become friends with a married couple who are both teachers. Tim is originally from England and his wife Anne is from New Zealand. About 9 months after moving to NYC, I contacted them to see if they were interested in working with me on a website that hosted short video biographies of historical figures. They both live in New Zealand now, but fortunately we’re still able to work quite well together. We speak so frequently through Skype and email that I sometimes forget they’re thousands of miles away.

What inspired you to research, write and edit short video biographies of historical figures? 

I’ve always liked to read biographies of historical figures. Sometimes I had trouble finding a reliable source for this information that was visual and relatively consistent. I wanted the bullet points, the “cliff notes.”

I decided to create a place where people could go to watch a short video of a historical figure that would more or less be a highlight reel of their accomplishments and overall influence.  I wanted to keep the videos simple and succinct.

CloudBiography.com is a jump off point and perhaps our site can help people understand who and what they’re looking for.

Are you planning on doing more ‘video cliff notes’ or do you have other interests in mind to pursue?

My real pursuit in life is filmmaking. In LA I worked mainly in the camera department for film and television. I wrote and directed a short film, which shot in Tuscany, Italy in 2010. “Viola” went on to win the Rome Independent film festival. It also played at the Manhattan Film Festival here in New York as well as a few smaller festivals. Here’s the IMDB link http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1734564/

I did watch a clip from your film and thought that it was very well done – suspenseful, dramatic, really perfectly timed and artistically directed. When did you know filmmaking in general was the line of work you wished to pursue? 

My first job was at a movie theater in Collierville, TN when I was 15 or 16. I worked there part-time for roughly 4 years. That experience had an enormous impact on me.  Then I worked at a production company in Nashville while in college.  I met a Director of Photography on a music video shoot who was working on some big projects.  He was an LA guy who had this unapologetic swagger about him. We were on lunch and he said to me, “So what do you wanna do in film dude? Do you wanna shoot?” (Shoot, meaning be a DP.)

My response was about how I like cameras, but I’m really interested in screenwriting and directing. He kind of smirked at me and finished his lunch. What I didn’t realize at the time, as the words were falling out of my mouth, was that a huge DP was extending his hand and I smacked it away by telling him I wanted the other guy’s job. I felt deflated later when I saw how well he directed his camera crew, how loyal they were to him and how they broke their necks to create the scene he and the director had envisioned.

This and many other experiences all sort of culminated in a decision to go to film school.

Researching and writing about historical figures is a lot different than writing a screenplay. What possessed you to tackle the screenplay for Viola?

Funny enough, I graduated from college with a degree in Journalism, but decided to study cinematography in film school. I didn’t really get into screenwriting until later. There was a SAG strike and a WGA strike when I got out of school. The first few gigs I had were in reality television because the shows I was on were non-union. The technical experience was great, but I was coming home a little unsatisfied. An early draft of my first script was almost entirely written in the early hours of the morning, after I got home from the set.

Do you plan to write more screenplays?

I’ve written scripts for others in the past, but have at least two of my own that I hope to make someday. Screenwriting is essential for absolutely any young director. At the studio level the jobs are often separated. In indy filmmaking it’s crucial to have a hand in creating the characters and their respective paths. It will only help you to realize those characters as you communicate the story to producers, actors, the director of photography, the production designer and other essential crew personnel.

What were your biggest challenges filming your first movie?

With any film the biggest challenges will always be time and money, regardless of scope. We certainly struggled with both of those things.

Did winning the award for your short film open the door for any future opportunities?

To some extent, yes. But I can assure you that the experience itself was far more valuable.

What will you do differently based on what you learned filming Viola?

There are probably too many things to list… but next time I’ll try to relax and have a little more fun!

What are your future goals with movie making?

I’m interested in both feature film and documentary film. My next immediate project will be in the fall. I’ll be shooting a documentary in Burma/Myanmar. We’re planning to begin in a little border town called Mae Sot, in Thailand – and will then head west.

The documentary will focus on the youth of Burma and how they perceive their world to be changing as the National League for Democracy, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, struggles to instill democracy in Burma. This change, however slow and painful, is happening organically. Our goal is to take a brief look at the generation that will make that change possible. We’ll be there to observe and document during this critically significant time.

Did you have any especially inspiring teachers or family members who helped shape who you are today as a person?

My greatest teachers are my experiences. But that goes back to both of my parents who gave me every opportunity and always insisted that I dream big.

Travis is a perfect example of how dreaming big can turn into successful achievements. You can find CloudBiographies at: www.CloudBiography.com and on facebook: www.Facebook.com/cloudbio or at twitter: www.Twitter.com/cloudbiography. A clip from the award winning film Viola can be viewed at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1734564/.

Author Jeremy Trimble is a Dream Runner

From Kathryn’s desk…

“Monsters hunt through people’s dreams. They’re called phantoms, and they’re nearly unstoppable. They slip into realities between night and morning when their victims are most vulnerable. The dream runners once fought them and protected humanity. Now Mike Carpenter is the last dream runner. He is alone. But he doesn’t stop hunting the phantoms. He’s lost everything he loves and refuses to yield even as the phantoms grow stronger and begin to show signs of intelligence.” (Quote from Dream Runner by Jennifer Tess AKA Jeremy Trimble)


Jeremy Trimble is somewhat of a dream runner himself  – he is running toward his dreams at quite a fast pace with all the enthusiasm and determination you see in his fiction characters. As a new and upcoming author he is benefitting greatly from the recent explosion of e-book sales. He writes for young adults, who have a large appetite for fast paced fantasy. The combination is putting Jeremy on the reader charts at #62. Not bad for a post secondary English instructor who dabbles in the stock market.

Royalties are turning his head from recent publications including:  Dream Runner, published by Malachite Quills Publishing 2011, Poisoned Star, published by Rebel Ink Press 2011, Impulse Control, published by Malachite Quills Publishing 2011, and Infinite, published by Black Rose Writing 2010.

I read Jeremy’s two latest books and found them quite the page-turners. Geared for middle and high school students, the best thing about Jeremy’s work isn’t the fast-paced and imaginative plotting, but the good role modeling. Girls are leaders and hold power right along with the boys – who are always gentlemen, unless evil villains of course. Even then genders are equally picked on.

Romance and wanting to save the world are presented as exciting and admirable pursuits – as well they should be in the minds of young adults. All is never right with the world, but those who truly care take on their quests with serious enthusiasm driven by a desire to make a difference.

“When Mike chases a phantom through three different dreams, he stumbles into the last person he expected. Cora. He found his way into her dream. Except this time something impossible happens. She remembers him. For the first time, he is confronted by the chance that he might not have to fight alone.”  (Quote from Dream Runner by Jennifer Tess AKA Jeremy Trimble)

Jeremy has an impressive list of accomplishments, especially when you consider he is just getting started. He holds an MA in English from Sac State and a BA in both English and Spanish from the same institution. Jeremy is a member of 4 honor societies including International English and Spanish. He has won 7 writing awards for short fiction, expository prose, and essay, and has spoken at 5 writing related conferences. He was an editor for Calaveras Station, a proofreader in both English and Spanish for The National Shopping Service and has taught multiple courses on the subjects of English, literature and writing. You might say the entire subject of literacy defines him.

I asked Jeremy some questions recently about his drive to be a post secondary English instructor, author of fantasy for young adults and part-time dabbler in the stock market.

Why do you use a pseudonym and what was the thought process behind the names you chose – especially since one is female?

I use multiple pseudonyms for two reasons. First, I like to keep my life as a writer separate from everything else. That’s why I use a pen name in the first place. But I have multiple pseudonyms to work within different genres. My writing tends to jump around. My first three books were all romantic in some ways, but the level of violence and intended audience shift around quite a bit as well. And if I’m completely honest, it’s fun coming up with pen names.

Dream Runner (Jeremy Trimble)

“Treya Third has a simple life. She pilots a Poisoned Star, one of the Foundation’s most powerful warships. She lives in space alone where her only companion is her ship’s mind. When the Foundation orders her to kill, she does. When they order her to murder whole colonies, she obeys. Anything else would mean torture and death for her kind.”

“When the human race sends in a fleet to retake one of their systems, Traya’s Poisoned Star is dispatched to destroy them. In every other fight, her warship has triumphed. But Treya learns the humans have a new plan of attack this time when someone sneaks onboard her ship.” (Quote from Poisoned Star by Josh Tremino AKA Jeremy Trimble)

When did you realize that you wanted to be an author and did you choose the genres you write in or did they choose you?

I first became interested in writing way back in 4th grade. My teacher had us do a daily journal assignment at the beginning of each class, and I really enjoyed them. By the time I hit 7th grade, I knew I wanted to be a professional writer.

In terms of genre, I’ve always been something of a geek. I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, and Deep Space 9. Then in college I spent a shocking amount of time playing Dungeons and Dragons. Altogether, this made sci-fi and fantasy a natural fit for me.

“But the stowaway doesn’t try to sabotage or destroy the Poisoned Star. As the hours pass and Treya continues her hunt, she begins to learn more about her life before the Foundation kidnapped and reprogrammed her. Surrounded by enemies, questioned by allies and running out of time, Treya must choose between a mysterious past and an uncertain future.” (Quote from Poisoned Star by Josh Tremino AKA Jeremy Trimble)

Where do you go from here in the way of publishing? Do you want to continue to produce the same type of books?

The last few months have been something of a shock in terms of writing and my finances. Through most of my life, I spent hours of each week writing and made very little. Now the royalties are starting to build up, which does make me wonder where I’m going to go from here. Right now I’m considering becoming a full-time author. At some point, I would like to score a best-selling novel, but for now I’m happy to tinker on with my different projects.

I know you teach English and literature at the college level. Is this as much for the pleasure of it as for the income? What motivates you to teach, in other words, and what inspires you about your students?

I absolutely love teaching. I believe that education is the foundation to a solid democracy and that our republic cannot survive without a well-educated populace. On a purely pragmatic level, I do teach to pay my bills, but at the same time, I like to think I am contributing something to our culture. My students inspire me when they really engage with the material and come up with points I never would have considered.

What frustrates you most about your students?

Many of my colleagues and I have sat around and discussed this question at one point or another. Overall, I think the most frustrating thing about some of my students is the sense of entitlement. From time to time, I get a few students who come into class with the assumptions that education is unimportant because they already know everything. At the same time, I think there’s a parallel belief that has seeped into our culture that all forms of knowledge are equally valid or legitimate. Students seem to be reluctant to say that a piece of information is wrong or to evaluate its potential weaknesses. Fortunately, these are generally minor issues since the majority of my students are willing to try and stretch themselves to learn new concepts and points of view.

I know you like to dabble in the Stock Market. Why and how did this interest develop?

In college, I had a desk job, which required very little effort. This meant there would be whole days where I was stuck in my cubicle with pretty much nothing to do but wander around online. I took to reading a lot of news articles, which in turn led me to the business section. More and more, I started to read how companies were doing, and I started to make predictions. After a while, it didn’t seem so hard, so I opened a trading account and started to buy and sell positions. I’ve been doing it for the last three years now. I enjoy the critical thinking that goes into the stock market to determine what a company is worth and—more importantly—how the company and its price will react to the world as it changes.

If you make you fortune anytime soon in the stock market, or on royalties from your publications, can you see yourself retiring at an early age?

I don’t know if I could ever retire entirely. Since getting my MA, I’ve been teaching about 6 classes per quarter, which makes for a pretty stressful schedule. In time, I think I might settle down a bit. For now though, I enjoy being something of a workaholic.

You can purchase Jeremy’s books through Barnes and Noble bookstores or Amazon, either as e-books or in print.

Poet James Benton: Not All Who Wander Are Lost

From Kathryn’s desk…Part I of a III part series on writer, poet James Benton.

James Benton is a distinguished author of poetry, memoir and short fiction, among other things. His work has appeared in top online literary magazines such as Flatmancrooked, he’s written extraordinary reviews, and was just featured in Poetry Now (Sacramento Poetry Center)

He will soon have his first book of poetry published if the gods are willing. What he says about himself explains his other lives best: “At various times I have worked as a sailor, electrician, nuclear engineer (really), a bill collector, retail clerk, bank executive, night janitor, and private investigator. Tolkien was right: “not all those who wander are lost.”

I agree with Tolkien, because Jim is anything but lost. The depth of his understanding about life is enriching, if not downright fascinating. I guess that’s one reason we read literature to begin with, so we can better understand ourselves by wandering through the thoughts and actions of others. If those characters we read about are lost, they are either found or at least profoundly pondered by the end of the literary piece.

I don’t use the word literary lightly. There is literally an endless supply of less-than-literary stuff out there but you won’t find Jim’s work among the mundane. He recently moved from Sacramento, CA to La Grande, OR. I asked him why he moved and if it was it hard to leave sunny California for well, less sunny Oregon?

“I recently took a position as Instructor of English at Eastern Oregon University. My wife and I graduated from there in 2007 with degrees in English, and so loved it we swore to return if possible. Through a series of serendipitous happenstances, that possibility presented itself last summer, and the decision to move from Sacramento was one of the easiest we’ve ever made.”

Presuming he returned to college for an English degree because the writing bug had bitten him, I asked why did he suddenly want to teach?

“It wasn’t until I returned to college late in life (at 50) that the idea of teaching English and Writing even entered my mind. I became a writing center tutor as a student at EOU, and the first time a student sat upright with that “a-ha!” moment, I was hooked like a fish. After that, my whole purpose has been to make teaching writing and literature the last profession I will ever have. I could do this until they plant me in the ground.”

On that note of being planted in the ground, here is a poem about one of his wife’s pioneer family members that was, sort of, your original entrepreneur – if we are going to define it as following a dream that takes hard work, discipline, and intense focus to pursue. Jim tells me “this man homesteaded 160 acres of hard, rocky Eastern Oregon and made a hard, rocky living running cattle there.” He adds: “In the scheme of things, this homesteader’s tenure was fairly brief. I’ve often wondered how he might feel about the condition of that land as it is today, and so this poem, “Two Houses,” is my attempt to get at that sense of permanence when it has been detoured.”

Two Houses

Within sight of the interstate, Rye Valley,
a house lies down: white shiplap, peeled
paint nine layers deep, nothing plumb,
canted over under its own weight.
The homestead is closed, its keeper a late
arriver and true believer in the code of men.

While the place stood, the old man lived
at the top of narrow stairs, light spiked through
loose hardware from beneath the plank door.
The window above the fire escape overlooked
a bench swing, still as the dust-hung air, overlooked
the terraced cattle tracks surrounding it all
cut in from creek-bed to crest.

The old man left a braided whip
coiled like shed skin around a box of shells.
Rows of dog-eared daydreams roast by a wedge of sun
knifing through the window, the print
and their crackled spines turning thin. His hands
rubbed to saddle leather and rope
burns. Salt, bacon, wheat cakes, cattle…
Pungency and pain too baked in
to register in this vast, absorbent turf.

The wind is now the memory of brothers
and cousins, and in-laws, and laughter in August
looping off the porch, sticking
in the low hanging willow.

In the beginning—
a half-day’s walk up the draw—
read by kerosene, sleep by starlight, dream by horsehide,
a shimmer in the ear when knife meets bone,
snake hostel, shotgun zone—its terraced hillside
looks down on the old man rising now and then
as a braided column of sand.

From the interstate, in summer, some might happen
to see great hands reaching
from the rocks where two houses fell,
more apparition than ancestor, proud, defeated:
bent heat
leather gloves
burnt Stetson

I asked Jim if he had any poems about motivating or inspiring us to achieve all that we are capable of.
“I have a poem that ran in Flatmancrooked’s Slim Volume of Contemporary Poetics called, “Oceanus Pacificus.” It addresses the idea of achievement and the spirit of wonder at the vastness of our endeavors.”

Oceanus Pacificus

and see how our long churn recedes

beyond the eye to the goblet rim
who can doubt its curvature

the wavering chop the interzone
of brine and breath luminescent
even below the sun

how broad the chasm of this pinched
perspective we believe our power

enough to preserve us

to deny our nature to fall and
all our effort to remain afloat impaled

upon the grace of an indifferent
sea our boiling tail the trace of our transit
hisses until the last ear

sinks below its unstill yawning
gape hubris rides the slippery spine

world without witness to discover

for once if beyond here dwell dragons

Jim Benton has written a reflective story about losing his son shortly after birth. It’s a very moving literary piece that elevates the experience to something all of us can find significant – in terms of picking ourselves up and moving on when life knocks us down. And it will. That’s when we need to sum it all up by the sum of our parts that mean the most. And he does this eloquently. I asked him about it.

“As you can imagine, that piece has a special significance for me. I tried to write about that experience for more than thirty years before finding the right tone, the right combination of elements, and the right kind of emotional distance. I have to thank Doug Rice at CSUS, and the amazing members of his memoir seminar for helping me find that balance. That seminar was populated with some brilliant and courageous writers, several of whom are now deservedly finding their own wider audiences.”

Flight of Bumblebees first appeared in Ragazine.cc.
You can read it at: http://ragazine.cc/?s=James+Benton+Bumblebees

I asked Jim what his future writing plans are. “I’m looking for a publisher to take my first volume of poetry, sailor. Essentially, it is my master’s thesis, but I’ve made a few adjustments since first approved. I’m also working on my second volume, the theme of which has to do with sympathetic magic. I have a bigger project, a novel called The Green Fog, which is a fictionalized telling of an elder abuse case I worked with another PI in the 90s. What makes that story important to me is not just the elder abuse, which is shocking enough, but the even more shocking ineptitude of the official response to it.”

Jim received his BA from Eastern Oregon University, and his MA in creative writing at Cal State Sacramento, where he received four Dominic J. Bazzanella Literary awards for his writing. Poetry, short fiction, memoir, and reviews have appeared in cold-drill, Oregon East (2007) and Calaveras Station (2009) -literature journals of Eastern Oregon University and CSU Sacramento, respectively. He also has work in: Convergence, Raintown Review, Word Riot, Ragazine.cc, Flatmancrooked, Poetry Now, Rattle and is forthcoming in New York Quarterly. He also serves as a senior editor for noir fiction at Mixer Publishing.

Some of his work can be found on these sites:
http://ragazine.cc/?s=James+Benton+Bumblebees
http://www.wordriot.org/archives/1525

Poetry: The Olive Tree; Karachi; Proof of Ghosts@

c o n v e r g e n c e: LINVILLE 
www.convergence-journal.com
http://www.wordriot.org/archives/1525