New book: “Volume 2: Shift Key” published!


I’m happy to announce that “Volume 2: Shift Key” has been published by CreateSpace and is now available on Amazon in paperback (and for Kindle). It has over 350 pages of poetry, haiku, and commentary from 2017 that I posted here on WordPress. If you feel so inclined, buy a copy to read at your leisure. Here is the link: Vol 2: Shift Key on Amazon.

And don’t forget that my first poetry book, “The Boy in the Mirror,” is also available on Amazon in paperback (and for Kindle), full of original poetry that I wrote from about 1970 to 2011. (Only in book form; not on my blog.) This poetry collection was described as follows:

“Alan L. Slaff’s poems read like tiny stories, and his ultra-descriptive images transport readers to the scene and inside his thoughts. His collection of poems causes the heart to fill with empathy and the soul to connect with a kindred spirit. This rich journey includes poems Slaff wrote from 1970 to 2004 and from 2004 to 2011 for this expanded 2nd edition.

From his father’s distant nature to the laughter of children in the streets of Vietnam, The Boy in the Mirror covers the entirety of Slaff’s experiences, whether agonizing or ecstatic. In telling, through verse, of his feelings and thoughts, he highlights the emotions and needs of all people in both mundane life and in the deepest places of the soul.

Whether the reader follows his poems to a diner, where a lemon served with tea becomes a connection to customers with a life he envies, or to the unbearable flashbacks of sexual abuse that he describes in the title piece, Slaff conveys his feelings in a fiery, affecting manner.

Shorter works include ideas that punch through in creative terms, and his longer poems offer narrative-style takes on divorce, passion, death and the purpose of living. Slaff creatively ties normal routines with life-changing events.

A childhood of dysfunction, assignments abroad that taught many lessons, and terrible heartbreaks that left everlasting marks all contribute to the impact of this remarkable work.”

Although I Can’t Write Sonnets


I don’t know what prompted thoughts of you;
no, wait, I do know. I wanted to write something
different. Your sonnets came to mind, as did

Your stare…

your poems, your book of letters, your biography,
your fall down the stairs and death in 1950. Your
books were behind the left door on the third

shelf. I put them on my desk. That is when I
caught you staring at me from the cover of your
Early Poems when you were young; as was I.

The 1941 photo on Collected Sonnets beguiled
me just like when I was a teenager. Whatever
you did to me then, you still do. I spent the

afternoon reading your works just like I used to
to do. Remember what happened when I was in
high school reading your book of letters? I do.

Remember? I read your love letters to the man you
were going to marry, you know, what’s-his-name.
I slammed the book shut and never read it again.

I continued to read all the poems that touched
me, meant so much to me then. I actually
thought love might be possible for me.

You in 1941

I’ve never stopped reading your poetry or loving
you from afar. For me, love has been painful, or
elusive, or both. Pain isn’t a requirement for love.

I’m learning that there is beauty and love in the
saddest poem; that there is beauty and love in
the saddest life. So, there is hope love will come

although I can’t write sonnets.

New book: “Volume 1: Shift Key” published!


I’m happy to announce that “Volume 1: Shift Key” has been published by CreateSpace and is now available on Amazon in paperback (and for Kindle). It has over 300 pages of poetry, haiku, and commentary from 2012 through the end of 2016 that I wrote here on WordPress. If you feel so inclined, buy a copy to read at your leisure. Here is the link: Vol 1: Shift Key on Amazon.

And don’t forget that my earlier poetry book, “The Boy in the Mirror,” is also available on Amazon in paperback (and for Kindle), full of original poetry that I wrote from about 1970 to 2011. (Only in book form; not on my blog.) This poetry collection was described as follows:

“Alan L. Slaff’s poems read like tiny stories, and his ultra-descriptive images transport readers to the scene and inside his thoughts. His collection of poems causes the heart to fill with empathy and the soul to connect with a kindred spirit. This rich journey includes poems Slaff wrote from 1970 to 2004 and from 2004 to 2011 for this expanded 2nd edition.

From his father’s distant nature to the laughter of children in the streets of Vietnam, The Boy in the Mirror covers the entirety of Slaff’s experiences, whether agonizing or ecstatic. In telling, through verse, of his feelings and thoughts, he highlights the emotions and needs of all people in both mundane life and in the deepest places of the soul.

Whether the reader follows his poems to a diner, where a lemon served with tea becomes a connection to customers with a life he envies, or to the unbearable flashbacks of sexual abuse that he describes in the title piece, Slaff conveys his feelings in a fiery, affecting manner.

Shorter works include ideas that punch through in creative terms, and his longer poems offer narrative-style takes on divorce, passion, death and the purpose of living. Slaff creatively ties normal routines with life-changing events.

A childhood of dysfunction, assignments abroad that taught many lessons, and terrible heartbreaks that left everlasting marks all contribute to the impact of this remarkable work.”

Part 2: Commentary on Driving to the Airport, Our Blogging Culture, and a New Book


(Continued from Part 1.)

The day she left I started my project. I’ve wanted to do it for a long time but didn’t. This was the time. It became clear to me on the weekend that I could really finish the book before she comes back on Tuesday. I tweaked the final manuscript, designed the cover, and submitted it for approval last night at 19:48. I got a reply from the CreateSpace checkers today. I spaced something really important. I knew the book size was six by nine, but I submitted it eight by eleven. So, an easy fix. And I had to crop some hidden edges on my cover photo.

Changing page size, margins, and making a few tweaks on content worked fine. What wasn’t easy was this! I can’t afford Office anymore, so I’ve been using LibreOffice on Linux. I needed to start page one in my footer on page seven. I wasn’t going to number the front matter. LibreOffice couldn’t do it. Only page one could be different. I spent twenty years solving technical writing dilemmas; it was my bread and butter. I read a few forums that confirmed it is a design limitation. No can do. Then the light bulb went off.

Years ago when I had to assemble huge documents of different page sizes with high page counts, there was an app I used to use. What was it? Then it came to me. “PDF Split and Merge”—known as pdfsam. The Basic version is free. (Scroll down past the ads to get to all download platforms.) And, it runs on Linux with Java. Cool. I was not disappointed. I exported my content into two PDFs making the first seven unnumbered pages one PDF and the numbered pages the other PDF. Then I merged them in the app. Took two seconds to merge. Done.

Anyway, I should get CreateSpace approval tomorrow to publish. The book size change made my page count soar from 268 to 326! Not bad for five days work! Let me explain. I didn’t write this in five days; I put it together in five days. My Preface of my new book explains my thinking here, so I’m not going to rehash it for you here. I’ll just paste in the Preface. (Hope you don’t mind. I’m winding down from my early airport run and the dinner hour is passing me by.) Plus, the Preface shares my blogging culture thoughts from last night.

It seems to me that the blogging community as a whole moves forward and not back. It is not the same as Googling for something or wading through Wikipedia. The blog writing and reading (or following) culture seems to be in a constant state of living in the electronic present.

To me, the electronic present moves along a time continuum that is always now; blog reading makes what just past into the here and now. But seldom does blog reading delve back in time, e.g., a few weeks, months, or years ago.

When was the last time you read a post that was five years old or was a blogger’s first post? Same goes for me; a few flips forward or back in my reader and that is it. I started my blog “Shift Key” on WordPress in 2012. Without taking a peek back, I can’t remember what I wrote five years ago!

I didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t want it sit there unread in the electronic past. So, I decided to bring my blog content into the present by making it available as an “analog” book. I’m deeply appreciative for my readers and followers online. And I love blogging. Yet, I must confess, there are times when I enjoy having a book in hand, to smell, feel, and turn the pages.

Having said that, my bookshelves are fewer in number these days, but you know what I’m saying, some books are keepers. I hope this is a keeper for you.

This volume contains poetry, haiku, and commentary posted on my blog from 2012 through the end of 2016 in date/time order published.

Thank you for reading—here or online.

Well, this post got longer than I intended. We stopped for breakfast on the way home to catch up and just be together. Food was good; coffee was horrible. Company was fine. Now, she is resting, waiting for me, and trying not to fall asleep early now that she is back on Arizona time. I got a lot done while she was visiting the little ones, but I’m glad she is back home. Life is good. So is blogging, writing, thinking, venting. Life is so good.

Part 1: Commentary on Driving to the Airport, Our Blogging Culture, and a New Book


All the people arriving at Terminal 3 pass under the DO NOT ENTER arch to my left here on Level 3 before they get confused by all the airport construction signs and the labyrinth that awaits them below. She has been flying since three this morning. Due to arrive in about half an hour​. With the time change, she arrives
one hour later than she left. That would be eight my time. I left home about six. What a surprise, not a soul in line at the Starbucks drive through! I usually get the same thing; I’ll try something different.

“Grande Caramel Macchiato hot, please.”

I couldn’t help but overhear her comment to her co-worker, “What is this, Macchiato Day?” Then she turned to me and told me she already had her espresso having been at work since three-thirty this morning.

I told her that I usually get a Grande Hazelnut Latte hot. But not today. Going down the 17 to the airport to pick her up. Need something special so I’m extra alert. (I don’t think she saw my two plain donuts waiting for me on a paper plate on the passenger side.) I needed more time because traffic would be heavy on the 17 and the 10. I didn’t want to be distracted by some gooey cheesy egg sandwich and rear-end someone.

When I drove her to the airport last week, it was also during rush hour, but we made good time in the HOV lane. (Been here for years and still don’t know what HOV means! Ah… thanks, Google. It means high-occupancy vehicle lane.) But now I’m driving alone and can’t use the HOV lane, so it will be nerve-racking stop-and-go all the way. I chugged along in the left lane for about an hour with the exit to the 10 and the tunnel coming up.

I worked my way into the middle lane without getting killed. This put me behind the rug man. His old pick-up and trailer were filled with roll upon roll of heavy rugs. But I had to stay alert because only his right rear brake light on the trailer worked. Sort of worked. The rug man limped his load into the right lane as we exited for the 10. I merged left onto the 10 and lost the rug man. Then, a few miles later I was about to enter the downtown tunnel when the rug man came out of nowhere and pulled in front of me. I had to follow him all the way through the tunnel to my airport exit.

Before she left she asked me what I was going to do while she was gone. I replied simply, “Write a book.”

(Long winded is easy when you are from New Jersey. Continued in Part 2. Thanks.)

 

In the Absence of Time


I never thought of myself as
impulsive. Not my character
flaw. Indecision is one of mine.

There was a time I thought I
was decisive. Probably never
was. Abuse killed everything.

Except for the illusion of life
that suspended me between
heaven and hell like the living
dead.

That is the place where our
fantasies and the lies we were
told meet. That is where I live.

If fear was the father of my
indecision, then helplessness
was my mother; the parents of
my terror within.

My impulsiveness may be
expressed by an electronic
twitch, a press of ENTER or
DELETE in haste.

I’m intimately acquainted with
instant loss in may forms.
Gain is a stranger.

Impulsiveness may masquerade
as decisiveness, but real hope
and faith cannot be disguised.

No matter how bad things seem
your life is uniquely your own
every step along the way.

Give thanks.

Then the worst terror, fear, and
pain are suspended for a moment
in the absence of time.