It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done

   But he with a chuckle replied

That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one

   Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

   On his face.  If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

   That couldn’t be done, and he did it!


Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;

   At least no one ever has done it;”

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat

   And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

   Without any doubting or quiddit,

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

   That couldn’t be done, and he did it.


There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

   There are thousands to prophesy failure,

There are thousands to point out to you one by one,

   The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

   Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing

   That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.


                          ~ Edgar Albert Guest


Posted in honor of my successful MFA thesis defense at Chapman University today.


"The Matterhorn" by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)

“The Matterhorn” by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)

Cider Press Review, a journal of contemporary poetry, is accepting submissions for its annual Book Award through November 30, 2014.  The winning entry will receive a $1,500 cash prize, publication, and twenty-five author’s copies of a book length collection of poetry.  The winning author will also receive a standard publishing contract.

Eligible submissions for the Book Award must be 48-80 pages of original poetry in English not previously published in book form.  Award-winning poet Jeffrey Harrison is the judge for the 2014 CPR Book Award.

To review the submission guidelines, purchase a copy of the magazine, or submit your work, visit the website at http://ciderpressreview.com.



The Pains of Sleep

Ere on my bed my limbs I lay,

It hath not been my use to pray

With moving lips or bended knees;

But silently, by slow degrees,

My spirit I to Love compose,

In humble trust mine eye-lids close,

With reverential resignation

No wish conceived, no thought exprest,

Only a sense of supplication;

A sense o’er all my soul imprest

That I am weak, yet not unblest,

Since in me, round me, every where

Eternal strength and Wisdom are.


~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge


"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" by John Anster Fitzgerald, 1858

“The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of” by John Anster Fitzgerald, 1858


November is usually such a disagreeable month…as if the year had suddenly found out that she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it. This year is growing old gracefully…just like a stately old lady who knows she can be charming even with gray hair and wrinkles.  We’ve had lovely days and delicious twilights.

~ Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea


"Autumnal Forest with Houses" by Walter Moras (1856-1925)

“Autumnal Forest with Houses” by Walter Moras (1856-1925)

The Moon

Time wears her not; she doth his chariot guide;

Mortality below her orb is placed.

– Raleigh


The full-orbed moon with unchanged ray

Mounts up the eastern sky,

Not doomed to these short nights for aye,

But shining steadily.


She does not wane, but my fortune,

Which her rays do not bless,

My wayward path declineth soon,

But she shines not the less.


And if she faintly glimmers here,

And paled is her light,

Yet always in her proper sphere

She’s mistress of the night.


               ~ Henry David Thoreau


"Moonrise" by Stanislaw Maslowski, 1884

“Moonrise” by Stanislaw Maslowski, 1884


My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,

     Thinks these dark days of autumn rain

Are beautiful as days can be;

She loves the bare, the withered tree;

     She walks the sodden pasture lane.


Her pleasure will not let me stay.

     She talks and I am fain to list:

She’s glad the birds are gone away,

She’s glad her simple worsted gray

     Is silver now with clinging mist.


The desolate, deserted trees,

     The faded earth, the heavy sky,

The beauties she so truly sees,

She thinks I have no eye for these,

     And vexes me for reason why.


Not yesterday I learned to know

     The love of bare November days

Before the coming of the snow,

But it were vain to tell her so,

     And they are better for her praise.


~ Robert Frost


"Autumn" by Carl Fredrik Hill, 1877

“Autumn” by Carl Fredrik Hill, 1877


Four months ago, I bemoaned the fact that 2014 was half over, and I had not written any new chapters (“This is That Summer”). The novel I have been crafting intermittently for the last six years, Time of Death, is also the thesis for my Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Chapman University, so the pressure to finish has been intense, to say the least.

In January, I carefully planned the year, as I always do, dedicating the first five months to the enormous reading load for my last class at Chapman and an overdue and ostensibly quick and simple home remodel. The entire summer, September, and October were allocated to completing and submitting the manuscript by the fall deadline of October 29.

At the time of that post in June, I was fifty-five pages away from finishing the narrative and needed to write a ten-page critical statement of my work, as well.

I dug in.

My writer demon was ever-present, scoffing at every new bit of dialogue and mocking every plot twist. I ignored him and focused on my protagonist, Fawn Evans, and on telling her story. The work has been both exhilarating and excruciating as new chapters were written and old chapters were revised seemingly ad infinitum to achieve cohesion.

Revision, I have found, is an exasperating, interminable process, especially for a perfectionist; I am never unreservedly pleased with any passage, so any declaration of its completion is nebulous at best. Even now, as I admire the bound manuscript I will be delivering to my thesis committee tomorrow, I know that, within the span of thirty or so days, innumerable deficiencies will have been identified and addressed with mortification at their untimely discovery.

That fact notwithstanding, I am proud of this journey to date and excited about the opportunity to defend my work in November. As both the author and heroine of this immense project, I am rooting for Fawn on each page and, in doing so, am rooting for myself.


Paul Hoecker-Vally, 1888

Paul Hoecker-Vally, 1888


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