Wednesday, February 22, 2012


This is not in response to any challenge. I wrote this a few years ago in memory of my brother. Still a work in progress.

David Lauble, 1952-2008

Ash Wednesday:
                the sky weeps,
and the loved one lost
recedes behind the gray.
No consolation on this day
                that begins the time of grief,
                the celebration of sorrow.

Black thumb brushes the forehead—
                we are all complicit.
The one who is lost to us,
                the one we need to find—
Black marks on foreheads
solemn procession in the nave
a low ache behind the eyes.

Fasting, abstinence—to go without:
                meat, forgiveness, love
When one you love is lost to you
                crucifixion looms,
                a black cross against gray sky.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do Over?

Do-overs? I’m having one now, and it’s kind of a humbling experience.

My best client e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago, asking if I could edit the second edition of a book I had edited for them back in 2001. Technically it’s not really a do-over but a do-again, as the authors have made changes and added new material.

In professional and scholarly psychology books, references are done in what’s called the author-date style. In the reference list, authors of sources used in the book are listed as “Smith, J., & Jones, T. (2007)”. When the book author cites this source in the book text, he or she cites it as (Smith & Jones, 2007). Part of the copyeditor’s job is to make sure that all text cites match the references they refer to and that every cite in the text has a matching reference in the list at the end of the book.

In the first chapter I found eight “floating” cites—text citations without a corresponding reference. And when I went back to the published first edition, I found that they were also floating in that one.

I took a huge gulp.

Now there are three possibilities:

1. I completely missed all of these when I copyedited the first edition.

2. I marked them all for the authors to fix but they ignored my notes.

3. For some reason the cites were inserted after copyediting but before publication.

Number 3 seems the least likely, and of course I would like to believe that number 2 is correct. For one thing, I can’t believe I would have missed that many orphaned cites spread throughout a chapter. It’s sometimes easy to miss errors that are clustered within a short passage; paying attention to one can take away from your attention to the others. But over multiple pages? and the same kind of error?

Of course, there is still a fourth possibility: that is that my skills have improved over the past ten years. That’s a much more pleasant thought. After all, this client has continued to give me steady work, as well as compliments on my work. Besides, the rest of the text that I previously edited is in very good shape, so I must have done that well.

Maybe it’s a good thing that life doesn’t offer us do-overs. We might find out that things were far more complicated than we remember. Maybe the mistakes of our past should stay buried--if others don’t remember them, why should we?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Three-Word Wednesday

This is my first try at Three-Word Wednesday: http://www.threewordwednesday.com/

The words this week are angelic, foster, ruin.

I decided to try it twice. Comments are welcome.


Fate, the foster child of heaven,


just when we may expect it

to lead us to ruin

will suddenly turn

and play an angelic chord.


No. I reject your angelic smile

and your eyes that foster trust.

I won’t be trapped by perfect love.

I’ll remain forever free.

You won’t ruin me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Winter Walks with My Dog

On a cold bright pre-Christmas morning

the sun is irresistible.

It draws us, we walk toward it as though into it,

although it blinds us white.

A luminous milk-spill running along the sidewalk.

It entices her: she stops and sniffs at a spot of bright,

as though she could lick it up or dig herself into it.

It skips along a bare branch, she thinks she sees a squirrel,

and she yells and leaps, but it’s only the light,

the truth and the illusion.

At bedtime our walks

feel somehow less cold,

as though the darkness protects us like a wrap.

The city street is quiet as a country cornfield,

only a lighted window here or there

offering a sense of comfort in the life it holds behind it.

We are strangers in an old tale,

wandering through a wood,

hoping to come on a candle in a cottage window.

A friendly hand, a meal, a warm bed.

She and I move faster at night; there are no squirrels to distract her;

only the occasional stop to sniff at a bare patch of ground.

A subliminal hum in the air

only seems to deepen the silence. Maybe traffic on a distant road

or generators from the school building

or a transformer on an electric pole.

A blue light far in the distance, a lighted wreath hanging on a fence.

The traffic signal blinks, red, red, red.

A silhouette walks around a corner; the dog goes alert

and gives a little whine. An interloper on our serenity.

The world is deep at this hour.

We turn back for home, at peace with the night and the season.

[[All images from MorgueFile]]