Rim to River, River to Rim

My sore legs bear witness that I hiked 7.3 miles down the South Kaibab trail of the Grand Canyon, spent the night at Phantom Ranch and hiked 10.1 miles up the Bright Angel Trail the next day.  YES! And I couldn’t have done it without the following, in order of importance: the prayers of some wonderful people 🙂 two fabulous friends for companions a sense of humor that would make vinegar taste like sugar, and a pair of sturdy hiking poles (oh yes, very important!) We met up in Phoenix on the 13th of June and drove to Grand Canyon Village that same afternoon. There, we checked into our room at the very rustic and cozy Maswik Lodge. After a short but restful night, we set out down the South Kaibab at 5:50 AM, about thirty minutes after sunrise. Suffice it to say the South Kaibab is a perilous trail with a steep grade and brutal switchbacks (Wikipedia it for more!). What adds to the excitement is that there is no shade and no potable water the entire 7.3 miles of the trail. So each of us carried 6 liters of water and enough food to last us all the way down.  The views of the canyon are spectacular from this ridge trail. We encountered a pack mule train just past Skeleton Point, and dutifully stepped aside to let it pass. It took us six hours and twenty minutes to get to the Colorado river where we spent a good hour soaking […]

2014 Chaining Project Unveiled at Madame Zuzu’s, And Another Open-mic

Last night was the unveiling of the 2014 Chaining Project conducted by the Highland Park Poetry Chain Gang. I was at the event held  at Madame Zuzu’s Tea shop and Art Studio in Highland Park. It was enjoyable to hear the chain begin with Arthur Rimbaud’s Time Without End, navigate through verse describing a hike in the woods along a polluted stream, and culminate in defeat at a ball game :-). The open-mic that followed was more interesting than usual. I performed Take Heart, Cabbage Wisdom, and One-Dream Child.  Also it turns out Madame Zuzu’s is owned by Billy Corgan, once frontman for the Smashing Pumpkins. I read some excerpts from his anthology titled Blinking with Fists. Not bad at all. About the tea served at Madame Zuzu’s… well, the water was certainly hot.

Published in the Society of Classical Poets Annual Journal 2014, Volume 2

Earlier this year, I learned that my entries were selected for publication in the 2014 Annual Journal of the Society of Classical Poets, Volume 2. In this latest issue, the journal features the works of the top fifteen poets judged in the last competition held by the society. So this is an honor for me, having been published in the previous issue of the journal as well. I recently got my copy and was very impressed with the quality of all the poetic works. I feel honored to be counted among those who were recognized. Get your copy on Amazon, and please support the society for the good work it does in reviving and promoting classical poetry. My thanks and admiration go to Evan Mantyk, President of the society, for his efforts to this end. -KM

Finished My Second Book

This story took me a little over a year to finally get done. It is called Kindred. It is about 55,000 words. I have it out to three first readers at this time. I hope to open it up to a group of second readers in the coming weeks. I am yet to work on a query letter for it. I also hope to start on my third work of fiction drama shortly. I have included a small chapter below by way of an excerpt. 5. The Third of July      Ray sat on the steps of the porch watching Blain Travers assist a neighbor whose home had suffered significant damage from the quake. He didn’t particularly care for the cup of heavily sugared chamomile tea his grandfather had forced into his hands, but he couldn’t deny the calming effect it had on his nerves. He thought about how the bitterness in the strong brew seemed to overtake the sweetness in it as the warm liquid gently swirled up into his palette with each sip.     It reminded him of the events from two days ago, bitter-sweet in so many ways: his impulsive decision to run, against all odds, into the cave, the upbeat mood of the group as it followed his lead, the shock of realizing one of them was left behind, the relief at finding Nabeel alive and well, the frantic pace that he and Nabeel worked at as they moved the fallen rocks in the hopes of finding Cory. All of it played back in […]

Won the “Lighting of the Fire” Poetry Contest

Good news for me. I recently learned that my entry was placed first in the “Lighting of the Fire” Poetry Contest sponsored by Highland Park Poetry and the Ravinia Neighbors Association. I have been invited to read it at the November 22nd Centennial Celebration of the Ravinia Village House (that’s Friday night). Here’s an article talking about the upcoming celebration. http://www.ravinianeighbors.org/ravinia-neighbors-association-blog/your-invitation-to-a-once-in-a-century-event And here’s the winning poem. http://www.highlandparkpoetry.org/home.html My sincere thanks to the Ravinia Neighbors Association and Highland Park Poetry for this recognition. I’ve pasted the poem below in case the above link expires :-). A Spark and a Fire I often set to wonder why We take the stands we take; What makes us rise from where we lie, And stirs our hearts to wake When forth, the ever silent, speak To light a tiny spark That burns a flame by which we seek To drive away the dark; Like planters of the olive tree, They never taste its fruit, Which, like the one who eats from it, Knows nothing of its root. I think the answer might well be The courage of a few Whose grit, resolve, tenacity, And other virtues too Deliver us to light again This fire that will burn In honor of their service then, An honor we return.

Wrote My First Book

There! I said it. And I said it with all the mediocrity I could summon into my fingertips. Now, don’t get me wrong. It is a big deal, or rather it was when I finished the manuscript. But I am trying to make a point in this post, and to get to it, I must dwell on the title line a bit. So I’ll say it again. I wrote my first book. Yes. I wrote it in January of 2012. It all happened quite suddenly, and very unexpectedly. I was with my family one Saturday morning brunching at the Egg Harbor Cafe in downtown Naperville. We were just making small talk when my wife brought up the topic of schooling in India. Before we knew it, somewhere between the belgian waffle and the cheese grits (if you haven’t, you’ve got to try their cheese grits), the conversation whittled itself into a long and slender bamboo cane – one that graced the hand of our high school headmaster. No, we’re not that old, but we did go to school in India, and back when we were in school, about twenty-five years ago, getting your daily stripes courtesy said bamboo cane could easily become an everyday ritual, albeit a painful one. So as we whittled the proverbial cane of our conversation into dust, I said to my wife (and I paraphrase): “Hey, maybe I could write a book on this. You know, about oppression at two entirely different levels. There’s the headmaster […]

Published in The Society of Classical Poets 2013 Annual Journal

Four of my five submissions were published in the 2013 Annual Journal of the Society of Classical Poets. The works included are: Children of the Year Jameel and Jameelah On Cancer, Guns and Hit ‘n Runs The Ever Rising Tide This is a real honor for me considering only forty poets were selected from over 600 participants, and the journal has about seventy-five poems in it. Very heartening for me and my work. Thanks to Evan Mantyk for his consideration, and for his zeal in keeping the tradition of classical English poetry alive and thriving. -KM

Inspired by the ‘Dedication’ of ‘Bismi And The Secret of The Kohinoor’

I really like this story, and the author’s Dedication note is touching. It inspired the below. I thank His Grace for you, my dear, For you, my dear, have taught my heart To spring a fount of love so clear, That falls unto your garden green, Unstrained and unabated, pure, And washes all your flowers clean; So flourish under summer skies, Where drops of morning dew reflect The colored wings of butterflies. And this, beloved, is my prayer That such a love spring from your heart To wash another garden fair Before it leaves the verdant scene And flows into the ocean love Of Sayyidi al-Mursaleen. sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam