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D ESE RT EX POSURE

OCTOBER 2017 • 7

EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK • ELVA K. ÖSTERREICH

Words and Wisdom

It’s time again to showcase our readers’ work in the form of our yearly writing contest.

T

JOKE MAN

continued from page 6 I’m in the mood for a nap. He didn’t seem interested in conversation, so I pulled out my phone and went to @jackiemartling. It’s the Twitter account of Jackie “The Joke Man� Martling. That’s where something caught my eye. “Hey, dad,� I said, “did you hear about the cannibal’s son?� My father reluctantly turned my way. “The cannibal’s son?� he repeated, probably wondering if I was nuts. “Yeah, he got kicked out of school for buttering up the teacher.� My father let out a chuckle. “That’s a good one,� he said. “Now let me finish watching the game.� Only he didn’t say that last part. What he said was, “Tell me another one.� That caught me by surprise, so I quickly looked for another joke I could tell him. “How is marriage like a hot bath? Once you get used to it, it ain’t so hot.� My father chuckled again. Heck, this time he outright laughed. Since I had his attention, I thought I’d push my luck. “What does it mean when a tombstone reads: ‘Here lies a lawyer and

from her heart, is a master wordsmith and technically smooth as she brings together her point in “Wildflowers.� “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: It takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.� — William Wordsworth Contest winners are determined by points which are accrued according to how the judges rank each piece. Earning as many points as “Wildflowers� is the short story “September Song,� by Jo Isacksen. This piece has its own peculiar poetic resonance and ties into New Mexico’s poetic resonance in an “enchanting� way of its own. Contest honorable mentions in the prose division are “Source,� by the indefatigable Tom Hester who has taken a good share of Desert Exposure prize money with his intriguing tales of Silver City and “Rincon,� by Mary C. Smith, a classic look into the mind of a singular old man of New Mexico. Honorable mention poems “New Mexico� and “Ghosts� have a bit of an earie feel. On pages 20-21 of this Desert Exposure, you can find “September Song,� and our poetry winners. Watch the November issue to read “Source,� and “Rincon.� So now that the 2017 contest has been resolved, it is time to move forward and think about the next one. What are you going to

an honest man’? It means they buried two people in the same grave.� Laughing, my father told me, “You’re a pretty funny guy.� Now, how did I manage to squeeze such an unexpected compliment out of my father? Is it because I’m a natural-born comedian? Is it because I keep my funnybone where my backbone should be? No, I couldn’t tell a joke to save my exwife’s life, even if I wanted to, but I can read, and I can listen. Although, if you were to ask that very same ex-wife, she’d tell you otherwise. About my listening, I mean. Toward the end of our marriage, her conversations with me usually began, “You haven’t heard a word I’ve said, have you?� No, I’m not a comedian, but Jackie Martling is. Not only that, but he’s a mighty fine actor, too. If you’ve seen him in Elias Plagianos’ award-winning TV show “Shoot Me Nicely,� then you know what I mean. And if you’ve listened to any one of his comedy CDs, then you’ve probably busted a gut laughing. I know I have. Before I retired, when I was at work pretending to be productive on my computer, I was often at his jokeland.com website instead because I’m a sucker for a good joke. I’m also lazy. I’m so lazy I stick my face out the window and let the wind blow my nose. That’s why I

write next? The secret to writing? After all the advice, quotes, ideas and initiatives, it all comes down to one thing. I am not a reader of advice and how-to books. I can’t think well in terms of what I am told to do, but once I picked up a dog-eared copy of “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul� and read a single story in that book. Writer Bryce Courtenay writes in his story, “The Courage of the Long-Distance Writer,� that the secret of writing a bestseller is “bum glue.� You take your bum, place it in a chair and don’t remove it as you put words on the page. If your fingers pick up the flow, feathery prose glides out onto the screen, great. If it doesn’t, do it anyway. You might be surprised.

Letters We would like to hear from you, so please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts. We welcome letters to the editor including your opinions and feedback regarding news, events and issues published here. Traditional letters to the editor offer an opportunity to start a new discussion, share your opinions or provide information you believe is of interest to other readers Desert Exposure reserves the right to

got on his mailing list, where every month he sends out an email stuffed with jokes. It was easy to get on. I just sent him an email at jokeland@ aol.com. That’s right, AOL. It’s right there, next to the dodo bird. Best of all, it’s free, and free just happens to be my favorite price-point. Don’t look at me that way. What do you want me to do, pay for my entertainment? Ha! Besides being lazy, I’m cheap. I’m so cheap, I go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and lick other people’s fingers. On Oct. 24, Jackie is coming out with his autobiography. It’s called “The Joke Man: Bow to Stern.� I can’t wait to get my hands on



review, edit or refuse letters to the editor. Include your full name, city, state and phone number. Only your name and city will appear in print but we need to be able to verify the author. The views and opinions expressed in letters to the editor published by Desert Exposure do not necessarily reflect those of Desert Exposure or its advertisers. It is the responsibility of the reader to research facts/opinions expressed in the letters to the editor to form their own opinions from an informed position. Elva K Ă–sterreich is editor of Desert Exposure and would love to meet Desert Exposure readers during her office hours in Silver City on the fourth Thursday of the month at the Tranquil Buzz CafĂŠ, located at the corner of Yankie and Texas streets. So head over to the cafĂŠ on Thursday, Oct. 26, to say hello. If that is not a good time, Elva will be glad to arrange another day to meet and you can always reach her at editor@ desertexposure.com or by cell phone at 575-443-4408.

a copy. I don’t usually pre-order books because, like I’ve already told you, I’m cheap, but I went to jackiethejokeman.com and did just that, because I see the book as a good investment in building a relationship with my father. Just today, I walked into the great room. I guess I do a lot of walking into the great room. As always, my father was watching baseball. Personally, I’m not into baseball. There might be someone with even less interest in baseball than me. If there is, I haven’t met him. I sat down in my usual spot. “Hey, son,� my father said before I could pull out my phone.

“Yeah, dad?� I answered, thinking he was going to tell me I was being quiet too loud. “Why do gorillas have such big nostrils?� “I don’t know. Why?� “Because their fingers are HUGE.� He laughed, and so did I. “Good one, dad,� I said. And it was. A man walks into a bar. “Ouch!� he says. Don’t make the same mistake. Go to JimDuchene.BlogSpot. com, RaisingMyFather.BlogSpot. com, or @JimDuchene, where there are no low-hanging bars.

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his year we had such a wide variety of selections, each so different in nature, that it has been very hard for our judges to make the choice. For the first time, in my knowledge, a poem shares the top prize. Poetry! I was told earlier this year â&#x20AC;&#x153;poetry is easy,â&#x20AC;? thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why we get so much of it submitted to the contest. There is a perception that this form of the written word can just be tossed out, like some grass seed or something, and come up green and finished. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think that bad or mediocre poetry is pretty easy to write, actually, but to really create something timeless, with a craft and definite aesthetic, is quite difficult,â&#x20AC;? writes Joe Milford, an internet user in Georgia. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Anyone can put together a stream of easy rhymes, but it is much harder to compose a piece of true literature which can really say something valuable about the human condition and our shared culture. I have studied poetry for decades, and I have an enormous respect for those who can use the pen in such magical and wonderful ways.â&#x20AC;? Our poetry winner is â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wildflowers,â&#x20AC;? by Beate Sigriddaughter. Sigriddaughter works to honor women who write poems on her website writinginawomansvoice.blogspot. com and so it is an honor to announce that one of her own poems is a grand prize winner for us at Desert Exposure. She writes

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Desert Exposure - October 2017