EBOOK MYSTERIES for 5 days FREE!

from the Ellen and Geoffrey Fletcher Mysteries series

April 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th of 2019
Thursday through Monday

free from Amazon.com (links below the cover pictures)
available only in Kindle format
At all Amazon stores, worldwide:
US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy,
Netherlands, India, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Brazil.
People everywhere like free stuff.
Give either or both of these titles a try,
and let me know what you think.
Comment here, or email me at mystery@budcrawford.com.

It’s four years ago, now, that
I was musing on reviews. I’ll stand by what I said.




Every book published, or symphony premiered, every play that opens, lives or dies on its reviews. Sometimes a work survives a spate of initial bad reviews, or the reviews spur revisions that improve it. Sometimes a rerelease catches a better moment in the zeitgeist. And sometimes a piece thrives despite universally bad reviews. More commonly — enough good notices bring life, enough bad ones bring death.

Interwebs

Internet reviews are the same. And different. Reviewers aren’t qualified or institutional, just people who loved the water-proof mascara or hated the salmon on a cedar plank, who thought the treble was set too high or didn’t like how the salesperson talked to her toddler. Good or bad, they’re up forever. A ten-year-old comment might still be on top of the list. Sometimes they generate a spiral, usually downwards, of challenges and replies.

People who use reviews learn to assess the credibility of reviewers and pick up on which ones their own tastes align with. And some sites help by letting you access all the reviews somebody has written or by tracking whether other people scored their comments “helpful.” A long string of 5-star reviews may mark an especially good piece of work. But it may also mean the author has lots of relatives trying to help her out. 1-stars may mean something’s lousy, or show enemies or rivals lurking. A 3-star average may indicate mediocrity or an excellence that not everybody gets.

But it’s all you have, if you’re looking for something new to read, or a new restaurant to try. Your time and money are limited, so you’ll probably check out the higher-rated choices first. Reviews are the blood flow of Amazon: either they bring you some oxygen or your work turns blue. The people behind the work take all the comments personally and feel them sharply. Reviews can validate your efforts or knock you flat. If you’ve spent a year of your life making the best story you know how, hearing “well, that sucked” is going to sting. Obviously he’s an idiot with no taste, but …

Beginner luck

I was lucky, right off the bat, getting strong reviews that pleased me not just because they were favorable, but because they seemed to understood what I was trying to do and thought I had succeeded. But then came some harsh ones, some mean ones. Some wounded because they touched what I thought the weak spots were—ah, got me! Some were annoying because they claimed I had failed at something I hadn’t tired to do, or violated a standard I wasn’t trying to meet. Should you give a bad review to a book because it’s not the kind of story you like to read? Most people let it go, but others are on a mission to purify the world by marking everything that displeases them.

What’s fascinating is when the same quality gets an opposite response. Fit to Curve, my first book, starts slowly as I introduce my main characters to the world; for the series, not just for this story. Part of the craft of the novelist is learning what you can leave out (and for the most part: if you can, you should). But this was my first venture. It was the most common criticism, except for the reviewers who didn’t notice, didn’t care, or thought it was a good thing. My second title, Heart Attack, moves more briskly; it generated a different set of complaints. Here’s a selection of typical comments (some fragments, some whole, mostly from Amazon, a couple from Goodreads). Question: have they read the same book(s)?

Specimen reviews

      Fit to Curve is a skillfully written mystery with complex characters and such a fascinating plot that I’m way behind on my chores.

      This series is a favorite with interesting plots and wonderfully drawn characters. Wish the author would write more of them. The type of book you don’t want to end.

      A bed and breakfast mystery. Super characters, well developed. You are waiting for the other shoe to drop. A mouth-watering, good read. I love the old lady with the sharp wit and mind. I’d like the recipes, too

      I wasn’t sure I’d like this book at first, because the plot builds very slowly. But once I got into it, I was hooked. I liked the characters, and you get a lot of insight into them.

      Good mystery, likeable characters, but overly long-winded. I put it down for days on end because it just seemed to go nowhere at times.

        This is too fine a novel, as a novel, to be mired in the mystery/suspense ghetto. It’s a good mystery, with a complex plot, all the mystery trappings, but the characters are rounded and attractive. The theme seems to me to be a consideration of morality – not just sexual morality (or immorality), though there’s some of that too, for those who like to read such descriptions, but all kinds of morality: for how high a price might you sell your soul?

      It pains me to say I just couldn’t get into this book. I found the characters were well written, and their personalities drew me in. However, with that being said, the plot just moved too slow for me.

      Heart Attack is a great read! Just wish Ellen & Geoffrey weren’t quite so perfect; never do anything wrong, look great all the time, have wonderful jobs, and the only drawback to their marriage … she can’t have kids. 

     This couple are a great addition to the mystery genre. Sharp and interesting with a bit of humor and spice.

      Snappy dialog. Geoff and Ellen are a great team. He has a definite intuitive method of assessing info and arriving at conclusions that baffle and irk his cohorts. Ellen is more conventional and together are a great team. Unusual mystery not easily solved.

      I just read the first few pages and then deleted it from my Kindle. I am not a fan of books with nothing but sex and innuendo for a story line. It might have gotten better as it went along, but I couldn’t get far enough to find out.

The last was my favorite 1-star notice, from Amazon Canada. It’s a little bewildering, I’m really not sure what alarmed her. But it brought a huge brief spike in Canadian sales. Probably also disappointed some readers.

Review review

So, hey, if you’ve got something nice to say, say it. If you’re going to be mean, pause a second: do you need to be? Have you spotted a rotten thing the world should be warned against, or just something not to your taste?

The series

FitToCurve

Asheville Williamsburg Charleston Atlanta

Chunk of a chapter, WIP: Just Rewards

“If you had WMT, what would you do with it?” Oskar Lindland’s butler had just brought a bottle of champagne, poured two flutes, tucked the bottle into the cooling stand, bowed, smiled, and left. Oscar tucked his legs under himself and reached for a glass. His legs were short, his arm were short, but his fingers were long and slender and his eyes sparkled. “Really, Mikala, if you were in charge?”
“Now we’re both millionaires, I suppose we can have champagne every day.” Mikala Banh was a foot taller than Oskar with sharp handsome features. He took a small sip and set the glass on the table beside him. “First of all, I intend to accomplish exactly that, as I suspect you know. Or, as I know you suspected. Are you running against me?”
“No, absolutely not,” Oskar said. “I’ve got a contract to assist through my merger, for eighteen months, just as you do. Then I’m gone —grab my money and run. There’s a dozen ideas I want to develop, not one helped by the encumbrance of a ten billion dollar ball and chain. I can be completely self-funding now, which means I won’t have to be. Liberty, my brother, ceiling unlimited.”
“I’m not seeing WMT as an encumbrance. For me it’s a force-multiplier. I’ve enjoyed being a one-man show and it’s been good to me. But when you paddle away on your single-seat lifeboat, I want to be standing at the bridge of the ship.”
“I get you, I do; but it’s the last thing I want. I work and play best alone.” Oskar said. “Have you considered what you’re up against? This has been a family company for a hundred ten years, give or take. Fifty under the redoubtable Gustav, then sixty of no-less-redoubtable Galliana, who also, effectively, owns the show. When she dies, which can’t be much longer, her shares will not come to you. You’ll never have control the way she does: executive authority plus private ownership. You’d continue at the pleasure of the board, day by day, if you did pull off the miracle of getting the job.”
“You know the basic ownership structure,” Mikala said. “You and I just got a mess of preferred shares as a positive alternative to non-compete clauses. Our fortunes are forever tied to the fortunes of WMT. But actual ownership, actual control, is entirely held by the Wallner family.” He finished his flute and refilled it, topped off Oscar’s. “But do you know the whole reverse tontine deal from 1957, from Gally’s ascension?”
“I thought it was a now-I-have-to-kill-you family-only secret.”
“Supposed to be,” Mikala said, “but I’ve put it together from: here a piece, there a piece. And, you know, analytics. Until Gustav set up the new deal, he owned all the shares, 100%. A few lenders held preferred shares, but Gus had all the common stock. On his death, he decreed each of his four kids would get 20%, with another 20% reserved for the CEO.”
“So Gally has 40% plus 20% from her ever-compliant sister, total control as long as they agree, and they always do; and the two brothers just 20% each, at least Vernon does. I assume Beale’s widow has his share?”
“Except for the other provision.” Mikala was enjoying the unveiling.
“What? Your shares go back into the pool when you die? That would be a tontine, right, last one standing gets it all?”
“I said reverse for a reason. Control doesn’t concentrate, it dissipates. Each child that’s born to one of his children gets 5% of the parent’s share.”
“So Gally, with three kids,” Oskar said, “has lost fifteen of her twenty. She’s down to 5%?”
“Five plus her CEO twenty, plus Lisette’s twenty. So she’s at 45%. Her three children plus three nieces and nephews, six in all, are five percenters. That’s 75%. The remaining 25% is with the brothers: 15% with Beale’s widow, 10% with Vernon.”
“So Gally can be outvoted if everybody gangs up?”
“Her three children have 15%, so two of them would have to join the gang to make 50%. But the CEO’s the tie-breaker. So she’s pretty much impregnable. Unless she was obviously demented and they all wanted her out, something like that.”
“Then the kid’s kids, do they get 1%?” Oskar asked.
“Nope. Stops with Gustav’s grandkids. That’s one reason they’re all on the boat. It’s been fifty years—time to revamp the structure, as provided in the original deal. They can do anything they want by majority vote. Up till now, they needed two-thirds to change anything.”
“According to the original contract, could the CEO shares go out of the family? Like to you?”
“See, pretty fascinating, right? I don’t know.“ Mikala twirled his champagne flute between his fingers. “I don’t have that piece. Maybe it was never considered. But I’d say yes. If Gally had been voted out, say ten years ago, in favor of one of her brothers, it’s clear the brother would have gotten the shares. Goes with the position.”
“Or to a kid of the brothers? Aren’t they the main contenders, besides you? They’d have their own 5%, plus the 20%, plus the parent’s and/or other sibling’s combined 15%, for 40%. If the parents and other kids stuck together. Meanwhile Lisette quietly still has 20% and no heirs. If they could get her agreement, they’ve got 60%. Meanwhile, even if you got Lisette on board you’d still be down at 40%.”
“But add two kids, or one brother, and I’m at 50%. It’s doable.”
“Well, good luck, I suppose. Unless I’m encouraging the one man who could sink a hundred-year-old enterprise with his fatally flawed vision. That would kill my shares, too.”
“I’m a succeeder, my friend, all my life.” Mikala tossed back the last of his champagne and set his flute on the end table.
“So, what would you do?”
“The 21st century, that’s what I’d open up. It’s what I know, obviously, but the machinists of the day after tomorrow aren’t people, they’re robots. It’s already happening. That’s not at issue. We need to make brilliant robots who can run any machine put in front of them, or brilliant machines that operate themselves.”
“WMT folks will tell you, I’ll tell you, ‘yes, but.’ For small applications, simple tasks, short runs, where you don’t want a ten million dollar tool to have consumed all your capital, maybe a lathe is good, a planer, a boring machine.”
“You know the ports on cars, where mechanics plug the diagnostic link? Put one of those on every lathe. A human can still run it, but so can a robot, 24/7, without paying three shifts or overtime. One year, you use the guys in the aprons, the mechanics. Another year, the mechanicals, if your situation warrants. Point is, build no more tools without AI capability.”
“What happens to this model,” Oskar asked, “when my printers replace all the standard tooling processes?”
“Well, you won’t be competing with me, right? So we’ll be making your printers specifically to handle materials other company’s printers can’t. That’s what Gally wanted you for, machine-tool-capable printers. We can go printer to planer or traditional tools to planer, as tolerances demand. We’ll be in front with both because we can print the hardest steels, the toughest composites and because we retain the capacity for purely mechanical build outs.”
“Don’t under value that retro market, Mikala. There will be backwaters around the world, or within developed countries, or again with the small/simple/short jobs. Some customers will be snowed by the grand vision—keep the mechanics and mechanicals bit, that’s good—and some will simply cost it out. The 100k tool versus the 5m tool, the operator salaries versus technician gods, adapting basic machines to different tasks versus .”
“We won’t kill the retro machines, of course not, not immediately. But I’m talking brilliant, remember. Touchscreen controls any fabricator or plant manager can operate, with no further human brilliant input required.”
“You’re not wrong, Mikala. But my advice to you would be, speaking as the WMT shareholder most important to me, don’t get over your skis.”
“It’s not just Europe, Oskar. The revolution is global, and it’s already happening. Japan’s the current leader with a lot of this stuff; China is itching to leapfrog; Russia is dying for a chance at the front of the pack; Israel’s ready; the Arabs are watching, Africa will be behind for another century if they don’t grab the ring, but they can truly take off if they do. Oh, did I mention Europe. And the US.”
“So, today a billion dollar operation. Ten years, ten trillion?”
“The future got here fifteen years ago. We’re just beginning to wake up to it.”
“Man, you’re good. You’ll need some kind of shtick, like the black turtleneck or the gray t-shirt. Five years to the IPO?”
“I’m going to make you so stinking rich, old buddy.”
“Watch your tips, Mikala. And don’t oversell. Too manic a push will call up every retrograde instinct in the very people you have to persuade. WMT is staid, they’ve got to a hundred-ten by a dogged pursuit of mechanical perfection, not by revolutionary leaps.”
“Come with me, Oskar? I need somebody who gets both the inevitable future part and the grounded present reality part.”
“Thanks; seriously, thanks. But, no. I’m finished with industrial fabrication. I’m looking at bioengineering, medical devices, cultured or printed organs, enhanced human performance, extended life, GMO gene printing. My head’s popping, same as yours, but different stuff. I can’t wait to escape the clutches of WMT and get started.”
Mikala refilled their glasses. “Toast, then. To us, to the future, to WMT with me in charge and you set free.”
“Salud, my friend. L’chaim!”

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Glory Varieties.

The vines have exploded upwards, blossoms abound.

Pearly Gates White — perhaps you’re old enough to remember?

Not quite the Heavenly Blue.

Is a Rose.

Painted, with many brushes.

And with bug, pollinating, or possibly just passing through.

Evening Glory, a Moon Flower, blooms in the near dark.

Just walking the wraparound of porches, the frame of the house.

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Another great giveaway.

Every few months Kindle authors may trade royalties for reaching new readers
from the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands,
Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, Japan, and Australia.

And it’s come that time again for the Ellen and Geoffrey Fletcher Mysteries.

Free for the taking, download to any Kindle-enabled device,
all Kindle readers, of course, but computers and tablets and smart phones,
even to a few of the newest ice-makers and gas grills.

The deal runs from Thursday to Monday,
the 4th to the 8th of October, 2018.

A click on either of the first two covers below
will take you to directly to Amazon,
and a free novel.

Clicking on the lower cover images
brings up a free sample chapter from the newer books.

FitToCurve

SONY DSCComments from readers, culled from favorable reviews:

    Fit to Curve is a skillfully written mystery with complex characters and such a fascinating plot that I’m way behind on my chores.

    This series is a favorite with interesting plots and wonderfully drawn characters. Wish the author would write more of them. The type of book you don’t want to end.

    A bed-and-breakfast mystery. Super characters, well developed. You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. A mouth-watering, good read. Love the old lady with the sharp wit. I’d like the recipes, too.  The plot builds very slowly. But once I got into it, I was hooked. I liked the characters, and you get a lot of insight into them.

    This is too fine a novel to be mired in the mystery/suspense ghetto. It’s a good mystery, with a complex plot, all the mystery trappings, but the characters are rounded and attractive. The theme seems to me to be a consideration of morality – not just sexual morality (or immorality), though there’s some of that too, for those who like to read such descriptions, but all kinds of morality: for how high a price might you sell your soul?

    I think the characters, subtleties, and philosophy make it much more than “just a mystery” or “just a novel”, though the mystery is fine for people who only want that, and the characters and their individual voices or patterns of thought are most thoroughly entwined with with the mysteries, necessary to the story.

    Heart Attack is a great read!

    This couple are a great addition to the mystery genre. Sharp and interesting with a bit of humor and spice.

    Snappy dialog. Geoff and Ellen are a great team. He has a definite intuitive method of assessing info and arriving at conclusions that baffle and irk his cohorts. Ellen is more conventional and together are a great team. Unusual mystery not easily solved.

Ready, but also waiting (the 3rd & 4th titles):

LittleFishes
The Atlanta story.

GhostWalk

The Charleston story.

Fifth and sixth books in the series:
Drosselmeyer Chronicles
 (finished, first draft), the Roanoke story,
Just Rewards (current work in progress, ~70%), the Caribbean story.
Sample chapters available right here, www.budcrawford.com

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Sometimes I have a great notion.

Goodnight Irene

Lead Belly
Irene, good night, Irene, good night
Good night, Irene, good night, Irene
I’ll get you in my dreams
Sometimes I live in the country
Sometimes I live in town
Sometimes I have a great notion
To jump in to the river and drown
Irene, good night, Irene, good night
Good night, Irene, good night, Irene
I’ll get you in my dreams
Stop rambling and stop gambling
Quit staying out late at night
Go home to your wife and your family
Sit down by a fireside bright
Irene, good night, Irene, good night
Good night, Irene, good night, Irene
Songwriters: Huddie Ledbetter / John A. Lomax
Goodnight Irene lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

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The solstitial thickness of peak green.

There are flowers, of course, in all colors,
all around, in pots, and planters, and plots,

but it’s green when you look out or look up,
high in the temperate rainforest
of Western North Carolina.

Drastic escalation this year
in the battle over blueberries,
the outnumbered humans versus the birds,
the jays, the catbirds, especially the thrashers.

We won by draping mesh cages over the bushes
and over ourselves while picking,
four nets 25 foot square,
scheduled to amortize against berry value by 2028.

Meanwhile, on basically the same amortization plan,
but now with a vegetable patch behind it,
our rockwall garden thrives
and we can dial up the sun anytime we want.

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Water under the bridge, the new old wall, and the green grass grows.

That’s water at the top, running under the bridge,
but the bridge hosts a rock festooned with cinnamon lichen.

All that black plastic was a weed barrier
stretched over the bank, temporarily, 30 years ago.
It ripped as time went by,
blew apart, got brittle
while we pondered on the wall we wanted to watch
from the kitchen window
instead of the unstable bank rank with weedy stuff.

In December just past,
a mason began the real work
and three decades vanished in three months
despite dodging the dodgy snows and freezy rains
that have marked our ascent, this year, into spring.

A solid as rocks, the bottom grew up
to a shelf all the way across
with a backing and the beginning of terraced beds.

For spring and birthday and Easter
and a place in one of those beds
a calla lily waits out our most recent freeze.


The plastic, meanwhile, ripped away in minutes,
the rocks set, the beds turned down,
and plant chocolates placed on the pillowed ground.

It’s a matter of mulch, now, and compost, and setting out plants.

Most of the rocks came from the mud-daubed chimney,
a hundred years old when we took it down,
rock by rock, passed hand to hand,
out of the very center of the house,
and piled it, 40 years ago,
a careful heap, become a mine
of flat and stackable native stone.

But a dozen of the stones
are hunks of crystal quartz harvested
from the branch
worked in just for magic.

Meanwhile, the unruly grass rises everywhere
not impressed by late frosts
or a little dusting of April snow.

Ah, but the mower has a new 135″ belt
and I a new shoulder.
We shall prevail,
for one more year.
in one more month.

The axes of political love. And hate.

At first glance there wasn’t much to engage with.
or to care about.

You will have to click on the image to enlarge it
unless your eyes are far better than mine
— possibly in another tab to keep on reading.

Democrats on average like Pelosi and Obama;
Republicans are still fond of Mitt Romney;
nobody doesn’t like nurses.

Quelle suprise.

Belatedly, my two-dimensional sight cut in.

Democrats, in blue below the diagonal, do like Pelosi: well, a 6.5/10 level of like.
Republicans at the same time do quite hate her, 1.5/10 worth.

NRA gets 2.5 from Democrats (really?)
and 7.25 from Republicans.

It’s the political brain of the United States on one chart
pulsating and burbling while you watch.
I’d like to see a few hundred more data points,
but I’m not sure what would become of my own brain.

Thanks to Larry Bartels, Vanderbilt University.

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One shoulder, completely replaced.

It looks like something more exotic,
perhaps more naughty, than it is:
a simple x-ray after reparative surgery.

I am become a compound thing
of flesh and bone surrounding
titanium capped in polished cobalt chrome
on the humerus (arm) side,
while teflon restores the well-worn socket
of the glenoid (body) side.

The brief black line in the teflon
is a metal pin inserted
purely for x-ray reading,
for the surgeon’s reckoning,
because the plastic is, like flesh, invisible.

Three weeks since the surgery
plus three weeks more to go
of wearing the sling, all night, all day.

Three months minimum of physical therapy
and then as good as new, maybe,
at least without the wincing and weird sound
of bone grinding bone, wearing both bones down.

Fascinating and wonderful, it is truly,
and gratitude-inducing
except during sulky bouts of self pity
and instances of genuine pain.

Must I really have to learn so much
it was never my intention to know?

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Pants around their shoes.

Someone in the twitterverse expressed
great pleasure at the thought
of Trump and Putin brought down,
their trousers clumped at their ankles,
by the final straws
of Nastya Rybka and Stormy Daniels.

A piece of history to hold in your hands
like a brick from the Berlin Wall.

Available right now on Amazon,
only in Russian.

How to Seduce an Oligarch

P. S.  I found the tweet I “borrowed” from:

Replying to 

Can’t help but be amused that and
may bring the whole enterprise crashing down around these old men’s ears,
like a pair of crumpled pants around their ankles.

 

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Dear to us.

 


The needle artist changes, now and then,
from inking shoulders and haunches
and text on ribs,
to cotton floss on fabric,
achieves an accidental harmony with oil and ceramic
at the destination.

If there are accidents.

Seven altogether,
but they tuck beside behind each other,
under the hornbeam
testing the english ivy for fodder,
both of the single mothers, as it were,
with the twins and their mother.

Absent from our local herd today, only the buck,
who’s never far but rarely in frame with the rest,
most of whom probably are his progeny.

They are too unafraid of us,
their primary predator,
because we strew cracked corn on the grass,
their primary benefactors,
though it is intended for the five blue-black crows


who do not trust us
because they have not forgotten my bb gun
from 60 years ago
and they do not forgive.

But they’ll eat the corn.

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Scene from the middle parts of “Just Deserts.”

Wärtsilä

“We three queens of orient are,” Kendall said, sing-songy. They were alone in Kendall’s cabin.

“I’ve traversed afar, grant you that,” Ricard said, “but even in my best drag, I can’t be queen, because she’ll always be the pretty one.” He pointed to his twin. They sat around a table, waiting for the delivery of an early lunch. A tea setting had been laid on a few minutes ago.

“Does any of us want to be the queen?” Arona asked. “I don’t. Even if Ric and I partnered it, which would be weird and maybe not even possible, it would be like prison, no let up, endlessly expanding responsibility, always on the edge of catastrophe.”

“So you have talked about it,” Kendall said. “I figured you had. Also the co-ruler thing. Well, not me either, even with Momma’s pitchfork constantly poking my butt. I wish she wanted it for herself, so I could just step out of the way. But she is not, wait for it, ‘Wallner-born.’ Of course, she’s also 77.”

“Has she ever worked?” Arona asked. She sipped some China tea from a Burleigh-made porcelain cup, with saucer. The ship used British tea terms: India and China, instead of black and green.

“Before she married my dad she did, in her twenties, as a legal secretary. She made okay money. Nothing ever engineering-related, which for a Wallner Machine Tool CEO would be a deficit.”

“Your momma did the company-wife thing hard, though,” Arona said. “Jewell was always there for picnics, holidays, birthday parties. I remember wishing she was our mother, just because she was around so much. Our mom kept her head down doing payroll, earning her own check and issuing everybody else’s, from before we were born until she retired ten years ago as CFO. She never came out for any of the fun stuff.”

“How are you for strategic vision, Ken? Roo and I decided that was our main disqualifier, a pretty completely lack of having any. We know what the company’s done for a hundred years and what we’re doing now. Some of the new stuff is exciting as hell, and some of the old stuff is going to fade away, but please don’t lay all that on me. Are we talking about 3-D printing all our tools? Or turning all our tools into 3-D printers?”

“Exactly!” Kendall said. “And if we choose artificial intelligence as the WMT future, does that mean we all get to retire, except for oiling the parts it tells us to — like the poor guys six decks below us — and wiping up the mess?”

“I think that’s for the robots,” Arona said, “we’ll end up in a habitat somewhere, some grass and trees, a couple of water features, where the bots can come to watch us breed.”

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Musing reviews and a giveaway.

the good news is

MYSTERY EBOOKS 5 days FREE!

We got us a brave new year here,
in this same scary old world;
so run, don’t walk,
to the links below.

from the Ellen and Geoffrey Fletcher Mystery series

January 4th, 5th,6th, 7th, 8th of 2018, Thursday through Monday

free from Amazon.com (links below the cover pictures)
available only in Kindle format
All Amazon stores, worldwide:
US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy,
Netherlands, India, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Brazil.
People everywhere like free stuff.
Give either or both of these titles a try, and let me know what you think.
Comment here, or email me at mystery@budcrawford.com.

 

    

Three years ago, I was musing on reviews. I’ll stand by what I said.

 

 

Every book published, or symphony premiered, every play that opens, lives or dies on its reviews. Sometimes a work survives a spate of initial bad reviews, or the reviews spur revisions that improve it. Sometimes a rerelease catches a better moment in the zeitgeist. And sometimes a piece thrives despite universally bad reviews. More commonly enough good notices bring life, enough bad ones bring death.

Internet reviews are the same. And different. Reviewers aren’t qualified or institutional. Just people who loved the book or hated the salmon-on-a-cedar-plank, who thought the treble was set too high or didn’t like the way the salesperson talked to her toddler. Good or bad, they’re up forever. A ten-year-old comment might still be on top of the list. Sometimes they generate a spiral, usually downwards, of challenges and replies.

People who use reviews learn to assess the credibility of reviewers and pick up on which ones their own tastes align with. And some sites help by letting you access all the reviews somebody has written or by tracking whether other people scored their comments “helpful.” A long string of 5-star reviews may mark an especially good piece of work. But it may also mean the author has lots of relatives trying to help her out. 1-stars may mean something’s lousy, or show enemies or rivals lurking. A 3-star average may indicate mediocrity or an excellence that not everybody gets.

But it’s all you have, if you’re looking for something new to read, or a new restaurant to try. Your time and money are limited, so you’ll probably check out the higher-rated choices first. Reviews are the blood flow of Amazon: either they bring you some oxygen or your work turns blue. The people behind the work take all the comments personally and feel them sharply. Reviews can validate your efforts or knock you flat. If you’ve spent a year of your life making the best story you know how, hearing “well, that sucked” is going to sting. Obviously an idiot with no taste, but …

I was lucky, right off the bat, getting strong reviews that pleased me not just because they were favorable, but because they seemed to understood what I was trying to do and thought I had succeeded. But then came some harsh ones, some mean ones. Some stung because they touched what I thought the weak spots were—ah, got me! Some were annoying because they claimed I had failed at something I hadn’t tired to do, or violated a standard I wasn’t trying to meet. Should you give a bad review to a book because it’s not the kind of story you like to read? Most people let it go, but others are on a mission to purify the world by marking everything that displeases them.

What’s fascinating is when the same quality gets an opposite response. Fit to Curve, my first book, starts slowly, as I introduce my main characters to the world, for the series, not just for this story. Part of the craft of the novelist is learning what you can leave out (and for the most part: if you can, you should). But this was my first venture. It was the most common criticism, except for the reviewers who didn’t notice, didn’t care, or thought it was a good thing. My second title, Heart Attack, moves more briskly; it generated a different set of complaints. Here’s a selection of typical comments (some fragments, some whole, mostly from Amazon, a couple from Goodreads). Question: have they read the same book(s)?

      Fit to Curve is a skillfully written mystery with complex characters and such a fascinating plot that I’m way behind on my chores.

      This series is a favorite with interesting plots and wonderfully drawn characters. Wish the author would write more of them. The type of book you don’t want to end.

      A bed and breakfast mystery. Super characters, well developed. You are waiting for the other shoe to drop. A mouth-watering, good read. I love the old lady with the sharp wit and mind. I’d like the recipes, too

      I wasn’t sure I’d like this book at first, because the plot builds very slowly. But once I got into it, I was hooked. I liked the characters, and you get a lot of insight into them.

      Good mystery, likeable characters, but overly long-winded. I put it down for days on end because it just seemed to go nowhere at times.

        This is too fine a novel, as a novel, to be mired in the mystery/suspense ghetto. It’s a good mystery, with a complex plot, all the mystery trappings, but the characters are rounded and attractive. The theme seems to me to be a consideration of morality – not just sexual morality (or immorality), though there’s some of that too, for those who like to read such descriptions, but all kinds of morality: for how high a price might you sell your soul?

      It pains me to say I just couldn’t get into this book. I found the characters were well written, and their personalities drew me in. However, with that being said, the plot just moved too slow for me.

      Heart Attack is a great read! Just wish Ellen & Geoffrey weren’t quite so perfect; never do anything wrong, look great all the time, have wonderful jobs, and the only drawback to their marriage … she can’t have kids. 

     This couple are a great addition to the mystery genre. Sharp and interesting with a bit of humor and spice.

      Snappy dialog. Geoff and Ellen are a great team. He has a definite intuitive method of assessing info and arriving at conclusions that baffle and irk his cohorts. Ellen is more conventional and together are a great team. Unusual mystery not easily solved.

      I just read the first few pages and then deleted it from my Kindle. I am not a fan of books with nothing but sex and innuendo for a story line. It might have gotten better as it went along, but I couldn’t get far enough to find out.

The last was my favorite 1-star notice, from Amazon Canada. It’s a little bewildering, I’m really not sure what alarmed her. But it brought a huge brief spike in Canadian sales. Probably also disappointed some readers.

 

FitToCurveSONY DSCGhostWalk LittleFishes

 

So, hey, if you’ve got something nice to say, say it. If you’re going to be mean, pause a second: do you need to? Have you spotted a rotten thing the world should be warned against, or just something not to your taste?

 

 

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Uninvited share.

I watch him climb the porch-roof post,
looping himself around the beam,
then stretch to slide his furry carcass down
and spread his belly across the feeder lid,
comfortably placed to push feed from
the self-refilling bird shelves —
but those pictures are too dark to read.

All done, the feeder emptied,
he climbs back up,
wraps up around the beam,
walks across, then slides down the post
to the hand rail,

where at least some of the scooped-out
birdfeed piled up on a dry flat dining surface.

He settles in to enjoy the fruits
of a well-thought out
and well-executed plan,
until the backdoor latch,
which sounds a little like a rifle bolt
prompts him to bolt.

By morning, though, the rail was licked clean.
I assume despite his fright
he returned and finished dinner.

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For sale, but for you, free.

Every item in our Electric Coop Newsletter
For Sale listing is a story waiting to be told.

Altogether, they’re the outline of a novel.

Hay, mixed grass
55gal aquarium w/lights
Italian wedding jug, bride & groom
Silver soprano flute
2013 Victory Boardwalk
Thule car tow dolly
2 lots Pisgah View Memorial
John Deere D140 mower
VW parts, 70’s & earlier
600 LB donkey
Hand-crafted 2-horse sled
Jazzy Wheelchair
Waterford crystal
Black walnuts, cracked
Oliver horse-drawn wooden beam flat land plow
Line 6 guitar amp
Dirt bikes that need work, trade for firewood

 

Help yourself.

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Far left.

Half the year

green tunnels

enclose the roads

and paths,

surround the fields,

plump the ridgelines,

make forest something

you must enter into,

that you cannot see through;

the fall of almost all

the green

brings back the long lines

and contours of the ground;

and contrary for a month or two
displays all the colors we can see
that are not green.

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Middle left.

Even as the great undressing

has been underway a while

and only bare wood limbs stand

most ways you turn you eyes,

stubborn lingering displays

of bright

and joyful color

defy

the trend

to ground,

for a few days more.

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Left in the woods.

It’s all over now,

rain storms

and windstorms

have stripped the branches

of all these hangers-on

from a fortnight ago

but we were given

a long slow fall

until gravity and the trees’ release
brought all to ground.

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Leavings.

Makes your eyes ache, almost,

nowhere to settle

in the profusion of colors

and textures

extending in all directions.

Your focus narrows to a single specimen

then pulls wide

across a carpeted path

or field

where boggling myriads

of discrete gifts,

display the beauty of a billion little deaths
which enable suspended life for winter survival
whose eventual decay will feed the summer forest.

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Gold bug.

I’m working my passage on a fancy cruise ship
— well, my story is set on such a vessel —
I’m closing on Barbados,
when something flutters, then stops,
out of sight, behind my screen.
I stand and look over.

As liberal shepherds know dead men’s fingers by a grosser name
so do these creatures have a vulgar vulgar name,

but she visits me tonight in a dazzling carapace
specked with gems.

The enemy of my tomato is also my enemy, I know this,
but her brief passage falls outside the usual times and terms.

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Specimen from “Just Deserts.” Work in progress.

“I want you to come with me tomorrow morning to have a talk with your Aunt Gally.” Jewel Wallner Drummond was Beale’s widow. Kendell was their only child, currently Vice-President for WMT European operations, directly under Gally’s son Spencer. There were four other VPs in Hamburg, but they were technocrats, not leadership. “Spencer is a sixty-year-old puppet. If Violette ever took her hand out of his ass, he’d crumble. You are ten years younger and fifty IQ points ahead of him. And I know you’re who really runs things in Europe, in the big picture sense.”

“Mom, quit with this stuff.” Kendell pretended to put her hands over her ears. “I’ll see Aunt G any time she wants. I’m not going to stand around her deathbed for the eenie-meenie-miney-moe. I don’t want to be CEO of Planet Wallner. If Spencer takes over, as he probably will, I’ll likely get his job. That would be great. I know Europe, after 17 years. My husband and my kids are native Hamburgers, they’re happy there. I don’t know Pittsburgh anymore. I don’t want to be the one to choose between making tools for robots and tools for humans, or whether we’ll be producing machinery or computer code. Let Pittsburgh decide, or Gally with her last breath. I’m sixty years old, I get to make my own choices for me and my family.”

“Sweetheart, I own 15% of Wallner, more than anyone but your Aunt Lizzie, when Gally’s gone. I trust you to keep my stake safe. I don’t believe either your cousin or that Czech has the sense God gave a mud hen. Spencer is a fool and Mikala believes robots should rule the earth. I want you in charge.”

“I get that. But you have to get that I don’t want to be.”

“If Gally asked you?”

“That answer’s not going to be different, the 57th time you ask. I’d tell her why she was wrong. If she still wanted me, I’d say, yes. Only then. And this is still not an invitation for you to stage something. However this turns out, I’m good. And so are you. You’re 77, ma, that’s too old for this Game of Thrones shit.”

“What about the witch, the one that shrivels up when she takes off her necklace?”

“And you’re wrong about Cousin Spencer. He’s not brilliant, needs some help with technical stuff, but he’s solid. People trust him.”

“Because they don’t know him. He has a nice smile, but I want a good brain running my company, not good teeth. I’ll talk to Gally tonight, set something up for us.”

“Please don’t, ma. Don’t make me tell her I don’t want to see her, because that’s not true. And what about the twins? Why aren’t you crabbing out on Ricard and Arona? I realize they’re working under Aunt G in Philadelphia and Spencer has Europe to himself, as it were. So they’re slightly junior. But there’s two good brains and they work together like, well, twins. And Vernon’s kids have as much claim as I do.”

“Kendell, you’re so far above them. It’s not even a contest, unless you stay under your damn bushel. You need to think about the company first.”

“Why, Ma? Why must I? 70-80 hours a week of my best effort, that’s not enough? How about early retirement instead. I’ve got plenty saved, I could help in Alwyn’s office, we could travel, spend time with our kids, pretty soon grandkids. That sounds damn good.”

“Financial security with an architect in private practice? Right. The next commission might be the one that never comes. Your savings won’t cover the malpractice insurance. It’s like fashion models, they’re hot until they’re not. Wake up one day, nobody wants to see Twiggy’s bony knees ever again.”

“You know, mommy dearest, that you can’t win anything here? You can irritate the hell out of me. You’re getting close.”

“I just want the best for you. Go ahead, sue your mother.”

“You don’t. You want the best for Wallner, which is weird, really, for somebody not born into the thing.”

“A 110 year old company is a ‘thing?’ The largest tool maker in private hands is a ‘thing?’ Twelfth largest tool maker in the world? The seventh largest privately owned manufacturing company?”

“Something like that. I’m sure your numbers are right. But try to remember I was cleaning Wallner offices at eleven, on the factory floor at fourteen, sent to Hamburg right out of grad school. I’ve worked for your company for forty years. I’ve never worked anywhere else. One more little cheerleader happy fact and I’ll slap you.”

“You’re threatening the woman who pushed you into the world? Of course you are. You’re my very own damn darling daughter. I really am not trying to piss you off. I just want … well, you know.”

“Yeah. I know. And you could not love me so much loved you not Wallner Machine Tools more. I forgave you years ago for not knowing that you needed forgiving. All in a daughter’s day’s work. Waters broken under the bridge. I love you, too.”

Lichen on logs.

While clearing the lower logging road
of wind-dropped branches and downed trunks,

 we found some pretty saprophyte shelves,

just perched on logs here,

or on a tree trunk there (one eye kept on us?),

pulling all they need to live

from the air and from the woody stuff

they’ve latched onto
like a baby on a breast,
growing so much more slowly
but just as tenacious, just as brave.

 

Before frost takes them.

Getting ready for it.

With frosts and freezes in the near forecast,
it’s time to close out summer.

The last little eggplant hides shy among
the sweet yellow/green/orange/red peppers
banana variants, mostly,

and the bowl of heat, chilli & jalapeno,

 and sweet poblano.

The last tomatoes on the vine

and unready clusters of red and orange cherries;

while still ripening on the sill, last week’s blacks and oranges.

Rosemary was just going from her summer on the porch
to upstairs winter quarters,
but she shared a few springs on her way,
invited herself to dinner.

Just for drill,
drained the hoses,
drained the valves,
checked the heater in the pump room.

Ready, not ready, I guess.

Winter is icummen in, lhude sing gol darn.

Everything is mowed.

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Worktable dressing.

Sometimes they help with the stories; really, they do.

Even as they’re pure distraction, to rest and pleasure the eyes

for as long as their season lasts,

as long as they are rich and luscious,

and emit from within a plush and regal depth,

every petal sumptuous, every stamen and pistil

glamorous in the infolding fibonacci wound so tight

three dimensions cannot contain their splendor.

 

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October rose.

Some of the bushes have

shut for the season.

But some are not yet ready.

There will be frosts,

pretty soon, probably.

But what are else you going to do

while you wait,
supposing you’re a rose?

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Breakout.

The home tub of this philodendron
is on the other side of the door

across a small landing,
up a flight of 8 steps,

across another larger landing,
and up a flight of twelve steps.

About 28 feet, as the vine crawls.
The self-locking latch was open.

From a FB friend’s postings (Bryan S. Reid).


The end times probably:
we all got to get out of this place.

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Two days more to be free.

Still the irresistible pricing — free for a couple of clicks —

but now just Sunday & Monday to go, October 8th & 9th, of 2017

 

Lucky in life

to be blessed with table flowers

watching me work.

A click on either cover below brings you to Amazon,
and a free novel.

FitToCurve

SONY DSC

Every few months authors may trade royalties for readers
from the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands,
Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, Japan, Australia.

Comments from readers,
culled from favorable reviews.

    Fit to Curve is a skillfully written mystery with complex characters and such a fascinating plot that I’m way behind on my chores.
    This series is a favorite with interesting plots and wonderfully drawn characters. Wish the author would write more of them. The type of book you don’t want to end.
    A bed-and-breakfast mystery. Super characters, well developed. You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. A mouth-watering, good read. Love the old lady with the sharp wit. I’d like the recipes, too.  The plot builds very slowly. But once I got into it, I was hooked. I liked the characters, and you get a lot of insight into them.
    This is too fine a novel to be mired in the mystery/suspense ghetto. It’s a good mystery, with a complex plot, all the mystery trappings, but the characters are rounded and attractive. The theme seems to me to be a consideration of morality – not just sexual morality (or immorality), though there’s some of that too, for those who like to read such descriptions, but all kinds of morality: for how high a price might you sell your soul?
    I think the characters, subtleties, and philosophy make it much more than “just a mystery” or “just a novel”, though the mystery is fine for people who only want that, and the characters and their individual voices or patterns of thought are most thoroughly entwined with with the mysteries, necessary to the story.
    Heart Attack is a great read!
    This couple are a great addition to the mystery genre. Sharp and interesting with a bit of humor and spice.
    Snappy dialog. Geoff and Ellen are a great team. He has a definite intuitive method of assessing info and arriving at conclusions that baffle and irk his cohorts. Ellen is more conventional and together are a great team. Unusual mystery not easily solved.

COMING SOON:


Charleston Story: seeking agent.
Atlanta story: final edit.
And currently simmering:
Drosselmeyer Chronicles (finished, first draft), a Roanoke story;
Just Rewards (current work in progress), a Caribbean story.
Sample chapters available, at www.budcrawford.com

 

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Flowers, writes, and leaves.

Just over the rim of my screen

one or sometimes many blooms watch me

build my stories, record the voices.

While just outside the door

voracious virid leaves

pull sunlight

and greenhouse gases

to fuel their roots

and stems


and flowers.

Everything else distracts, the green world settles and binds.

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Free fall.

Irresistible pricing: free for a couple of clicks.

Thursday, October 5th, through Monday, October 9th, of 2017

A click on either cover brings you to Amazon,
click there to download a free novel.

If you don’t have a Kindle Reader, 
free apps are available from the Kindle Store for all tablets, phones, & computers,
so there is no escape.

FitToCurve

SONY DSC

 

It’s the Kindle deal.

Every few months authors can trade royalties for new readers.
It’s (almost) worldwide: US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands,
Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, Japan, Australia.

You never know who’s going to pop up, inexplicable little clusters.

 

Comments from readers,
culled from favorable reviews on Amazon.

    Fit to Curve is a skillfully written mystery with complex characters and such a fascinating plot that I’m way behind on my chores.

    This series is a favorite with interesting plots and wonderfully drawn characters. Wish the author would write more of them. The type of book you don’t want to end.

    A bed-and-breakfast mystery. Super characters, well developed. You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. A mouth-watering, good read. Love the old lady with the sharp wit. I’d like the recipes, too.  The plot builds very slowly. But once I got into it, I was hooked. I liked the characters, and you get a lot of insight into them.

    This is too fine a novel to be mired in the mystery/suspense ghetto. It’s a good mystery, with a complex plot, all the mystery trappings, but the characters are rounded and attractive. The theme seems to me to be a consideration of morality – not just sexual morality (or immorality), though there’s some of that too, for those who like to read such descriptions, but all kinds of morality: for how high a price might you sell your soul?

    I think the characters, subtleties, and philosophy make it much more than “just a mystery” or “just a novel”, though the mystery is fine for people who only want that, and the characters and their individual voices or patterns of thought are most thoroughly entwined with with the mysteries, necessary to the story.

    Heart Attack is a great read!

    This couple are a great addition to the mystery genre. Sharp and interesting with a bit of humor and spice.

    Snappy dialog. Geoff and Ellen are a great team. He has a definite intuitive method of assessing info and arriving at conclusions that baffle and irk his cohorts. Ellen is more conventional and together are a great team. Unusual mystery not easily solved.

COMING SOON:


Charleston Story: seeking agent.

 

Atlanta story: final edit.

Currently simmering:

Drosselmeyer Chronicles (finished, first draft), a Roanoke story;
Just Rewards (current work in progress), a Caribbean story.
Sample chapters available, at www.budcrawford.com

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Falling in place.

Black ball maters turn half red when they’re ripe.

Not quite the season’s last ones, but getting close.

Keeping the path clear, through the hay field,
past the garden shed, to the compost.
Can be seen from space.


Mowing standard: grass no more than one snake deep.


Sterilized old chimney rocks built around the culvert
over the north branch of the branch,
forty years ago, all grown in.

Chocolate veined ferns.

The warning, the promise,

it’s starting to fall fast.

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Leaves not grass.

Stem-fed stem-feeding factories alive in the air
pull energy from the sun
pull water and minerals from the earth

to build themselves

and roots and flowers and fruit.

An exquisite geometry

grooms every petal and vein

fans up in three dimensions

while competing in four

with every neighbor

for airspace and sunlight.

They employ strategies

of shape and color and texture,

delicacy or density,

to finish cycles of a minute or a day or a year
as they thrive
to amaze and delight human eyes.

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Walking the perimeter.

In summer, everyday, all around the house,

in pots, in beds,

on bushes, climbing trellises,

color explodes.

Full sun,

part shade,

all shade,

the white and yellow

and orange blooms


grab human eyes

and pull in pollinators.

Deep red

and rose

and lavender

explode

then slowly fade.

Pale blue

soft lavender,

down,

darker, to deep violet.

No blessing comes to us
as charmed
as a partner who brings forth flowers.

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Shared fruits.

Creatures great and small

tracked the chilies

and cherry tomatoes;
they gnawed the beets and potatoes

and destroyed the sunflowers

before the first bloom.

We lost most of the blueberries, probably 50 quarts, to three avian cartels:
the blue-jay gang, the catbird mob, and the brown-thrasher syndicate.

Some fresh magic comes up free to compensate,
a mushroom with the face of a planet that’s not one of ours,

or a globe of bubble glass.
It’s all still good under the moon.

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From the hot room, in the conservatory of the Biltmore House.

A ring of endless light,

by a yellow thrust shot through with white expostulations,


just across from pendulant nightmare pods

beside a slimy shiny scary hungry thing,

as I look down into the honey trap,
my reflection looks up at lunch


Oh, pretty flowers,

pure sex, no shame.

Delighting dappled things

and purple


 and tan (!)


and deep dappled blue,


plus a pinky purple


over the aisle from red velvet
more thrusters, down and all around sideward


white petals with flower tips bringing on


nightmare again, tumescent reds
converging yellow fronds.


Purple reign looks nice.

It’s time to find the shuttle bus
to parking area C3
unless we stay to find out what happens here in the dark
under an eclipsing moon.

 

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Chance encounters.

Swollen by recent rain
the creek is animal restless
but seldom gets out of bed;
planted hard, but on its way
to pushing Mississippi mud
through the Gulf of Mexico.

Hard to know what he might be looking out for;

not me, evidently, not in any way that matters.

Trying out a new browser
whose eyes look out straight

even eating birdseed from the ground.

She guesses she’ll slip into the trees now
if I’m so persistently inquisitive.

Maybe a little bigger than a fist

probably the one getting through the fence
to eat the beets.

At the bottom of the lawn
we watched the sharp shinned hawk
lunching upon,
as it turned out, a blue jay.