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Gene's photos 10-3-13 008Welcome to my writing blog. Please note that all material is  © Gene Twaronite and The Twaronite Zone. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gene Twaronite and The Twaronite Zone with specific direction to the original content.

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Stop the Idea Killers!

When does personhood really start? Some say that it starts with the beginnings of self-awareness, especially when your new baby sister arrives and you suddenly realize the world is not all about you. Some say it starts with a viable fetus that can exist outside the womb. And some insist that it starts at the moment of conception.

But it really begins much earlier. For each of us is not just physically conceived, but mentally conceived as well. We literally begin as an idea. It may be the earnest discussion that precedes the procreative attempt, or merely the idle thought of someday having a child. It may be no more than the twinkle in your eye or the come hither look from your spouse. The very moment of this idea—the conception of a future potential reality that is you—is when human life truly begins.

It is a most precious thing, this idea. Nothing must interfere with its sacred goal. Every part of this conception, from the first hazy notion to the final design plan, must be nurtured and protected from all harm. And it must be accorded the full measure of human rights.

Recent efforts to pass so-called Personhood Amendments to state constitutions are a step in the right direction. The problem is, such amendments don’t go far enough. By defining human personhood merely as the moment when physical conception occurs denies the far more important mental conception that precedes it. Without this first conception there is none of the other stuff. It is the exact moment of that thought which defines us in the most basic human sense.

And since the federal constitution along with the U.S. Supreme Court have the final say in such matters, state-level amendments just won’t “git ‘er done.” What we need is a federal constitutional amendment—one that goes all the way to that first moment of conception—a Conceptual Personhood Amendment.

Such an amendment would redefine those three important first words of the Constitution—We the People—as We the People, from our first idealized conception. This would leave no doubt in anyone’s mind just who or what a person is, and when that person begins.

But there are those who would deny these rights of the unborn. They claim that just thinking about having a child is not at all the same as actually having a child. For them only a real child will do. But what of the imagined child? In their bias for the real, these idea killers seek to nullify its existence. This distinction between potentiality and actuality is the same tired argument used by some to argue against defining the beginning of human personhood as the moment of physical conception, since the child has not actually been born yet.

But just because the idea for a child is not acted upon is no reason to deny it full rights under the law. There are many reasons why some of us never achieve the physical birth our parents dreamed for us, and it is not the government’s or anyone else’s business to pass judgment. It is the idea that counts. The U.S. Constitution speaks for all of us—the born and the unborn, even the unborn thought.

Irreverent Musings on Nature

Print cover frontHere’s a new review of The Absurd Naturalist, posted on Amazon by writer, editor, and reviewer Don Martin. Like all authors, I enjoy reading reviews (especially good ones), but this one is particularly entertaining in the way it creatively weaves together some of my essays in a playful, irreverent tone befitting the essays. Thanks, Don!

on August 16, 2015
This handsome volume contains 43 essays tangentially related to the subject of naturalism, or if you prefer, the avocation of being a naturalist. I use the term ‘tangentially’ very loosely here, because I am just not so sure. Maybe if you stretched it a bit, but that would be fine because the stories are quite good.Where else might you read about the evolution of the toaster oven, and which naturally-selected physical traits you should look for when considering a replacement model? Or, have you recently considered the question of same-species marriage? No matter where you come down on the issue I think we’d all agree that procreation should be limited to an intra-species affair. When you start to cross-breed, say, people and cats, or maybe dolphins and polar bears, you can never really be sure what you’ll get. And the author treats us to what he claims is the first X-rated naturalist essay, which would be an oddity indeed! Unfortunately he strays badly afield and we never really get to the juicy good parts.Perhaps you may be considering becoming a naturalist yourself. Why you would ever want to do that I just don’t know, but no worries! Contained herein are two companion essays, ‘The Well-Dressed Naturalist’ and ‘The Well-Equipped Naturalist.’ Careful study of those chapters will allow you to at least pretend to be a naturalist, and do a convincing job of it, even though you probably have no formal training in the science and have certainly never studied it.And, of course, you’ll need to know how to keep javelinas out of your garden, which you can never actually do, so the best bet there is just to peacefully coexist with them. Which is not the recommended approach when it comes to packrats. Packrats mean an all-out war, man on rat, to the death! You will not win that one either. After considering the various animal species you will certainly, as a pseudo-naturalist, want to move on to the world of plants. And you’ll certainly need some legal advice on how to file wrongful-death lawsuits on behalf of your dearly departed zinnias. You know those ones. The ones who looked perfectly green and healthy at the nursery, but which suddenly expired of some mysterious ailment as soon as you bought them, brought them home, and lovingly planted them in your garden?

This book sits right on the line between humor and satire, and it sits there very well indeed. Good satire is becoming a lost art, and it’s refreshing to see someone who knows his way around it. I guarantee you that you’ll at least smile as you read these short essays, and I’d be willing to bet you’ll even catch yourself laughing out loud at times. They really are that good! The Absurd Naturalist is quite entertaining, and is very highly recommended.         Buy a copy here: Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Absurd-Naturalist-Irreverent-Musings/dp/1502977281

Fish Bait

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

If I could ask the writer one thing
it would be this: what bait did you use?
Was it a simple hook and worm
impaled with your usual deliberation?

Or was it a fly made from a feather
plucked with due reverence
from the wing of a dead neighbor?

Perhaps you preferred a bait more primitive,
crouching like a raccoon next to the stream,
attracting fish to your hand through sheer will.

For sure you would not have used
one of those shiny metal baubles
favored by today’s fishing dabblers.

No, yours was the direct approach.
I see you not waiting timidly as the stream
passes by, but diving deep beneath
its rippled surface, meeting the fish head on.

First published by Poetry Quarterly summer 2015  http://poetryquarterly.com/poetry-quarterly-issue-22/

From Wherever

My short story “From Wherever” was just published by Bewildering Stories – a weekly electronic publication of speculative fiction   http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue629/from_wherever.html

Those familiar with H.P. Lovecraft will immediately recognize my story as a parody of the writer’s famous story “From Beyond.” Lovecraft had an enormous influence on many writers, including William S. Burroughs, Ramsey Campbell, Arthur C. Clarke, Fritz Leiber, Philip K. Dick, and Stephen King. You can read his original story here http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/fb.aspx  

Shades from the Chasm

Gazing down At Bright Angel Trail, I see no angels here—
only shades from the chasm: hikers dutifully descending
into hells of their own creation, then plodding upward again,
as in a Doré Purgatory; naked terraces laid down long ago
like the backbones of ancient sea creatures; swallows darting
across the layers like thoughts too fleet to recall; splashes
of red in the receding scarps of canyon walls
like wounds of a bleeding earth.

Originally published July 2015, at Wilderness House Literary Review   http://www.whlreview.com/no-10.2/poetry/GeneTwaronite.pdf

Writing Small

It was one of those
early grades when they
still taught penmanship.
I envied the girl
next to me who
wrote in tiny script,
neat and compact.
I copied her style,
made it my own,
writing letters
ever smaller
as the spaces
between blue lines
grew emptier.

One day my teacher
put her foot down:
I can’t read this,
write bigger!

Not wishing to fail
penmanship, I did.
But that girl with her
Lilliputian words
still remained
inscribed on my brain,
leading me to seek
ever more compact
ways of viewing life.
Like the cursive
I copied, small things
seemed more
appealing, whether
a house or a car.
Less surface
to clean and
less to care for.
Economy and
sparseness of form
I preferred
above all else,
extending this
feeling even
to my lovers.
Why not when it was
complete control
I sought in my
dominion of space?

Now I write
in script neither
small nor neat
but in a wild scrawl
that winds across
checks and documents
with a will of its own.
I try to slow it down,
show who’s boss,
but it ends up
looking mangled
and disrupted, like a
watch spring
suddenly sprung.
And in the checkout
line I see at last the
phantom ghost of
control mocking
me from the screen
while my artless
swiped signature
dissolves into
cyberspace.

First published June 29, 2015, at Turks Head Review  http://turksheadreview.tumblr.com/#sthash.SvKDIsQM.dpuf

New Review of The Absurd Naturalist

Check out this new review of my latest book “The Absurd Naturalist.” Available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Absurd-Naturalist-Ir…/…/1502977281
A Fun ReadPrint cover front
By Niche on March 2, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Gene has a naturalist’s focus and curiosity – he combines his observations in nature with wry twists on the wide variety of topics his essays cover. Open this book, pick an essay, and you will find yourself smiling as well as gleaning some insights into the natural world in the process.

The Belly Button Man: A Business Fable

AN TransparentHis only dream was to sell belly buttons. Admittedly, it was a difficult sell when there was no demand for the product. It was a long time ago, when people still came into the world with no belly buttons. Indeed, so long ago was it that people had not even learned to laugh. The only laughter in the land was from the hyena and the mocking call of the jubal bird.

People still cried, however, and there was plenty to cry about. But you don’t need a belly button for crying.

The world was filled with stony faces, streaked with tears. People went about their lives each day, performing their duties, and that was that. Things were either sad or not sad, with no in between.

The salesman first heard about the invention from a sailor in the Weeping Dragon Tavern. With many drinks under his belt, the sailor slumped over the bar. Suddenly his shoulders began to convulse. He raised his head and looked at the salesman. The sailor’s mouth started to upturn in a most peculiar fashion. Then he broke out into a strange cry. It started with a series of high-pitched twitters that slowly rose in volume to something that sounded more like the grunts, howls, and choking sounds of some great beast. No one in the tavern had ever heard such a sound before. The sailor began shaking so hard he looked as if he might die. But he just shook his head and pulled up his shirt, pointing to a little spot in the middle of his belly that looked like a button. Then he passed out.

For a long while, the salesman sat and pondered what he had seen. There was something about that sound. It all had to do with the button—a strange-looking thing, though not unattractive. Maybe other people would want one, too. From that moment on, the salesman knew exactly what he must do.

Relentlessly he traveled the world, knocking on one door after another. To the sobbing or stony-faced person who opened the door he would say, “Good day, my sad fellow. May I interest you in a bright new belly button?” And then he would open his large black carrying case to show off the hundreds of different kinds of belly buttons he offered.

But, even though the salesman promised free installation and a ninety-day guarantee, and even though his brand of belly buttons were the finest made, not one of the sad people ever bought one. For the reason belly buttons had been invented was to hold a person’s belly in place while laughing; otherwise, during a belly laugh, or even a hard chuckle, people’s bellies would start to come undone, with regrettable consequences. But because people had not yet learned how to laugh, there was still no need for such buttons.

The salesman tried everything. He offered free home trials. He offered big discounts. He gave out coupons. But not a one could he sell.

He tried repackaging the belly buttons to make them seem more attractive. He offered them, both innies and outies, by the dozen, in assorted sizes and colors, and gave away a free belly button brush with each box. On his very best models he promised a lifetime guarantee. Still no sales.

Then he thought, maybe he needed to change the way he looked. So he dressed up in a clown suit, put on an orange wig and funny hat, and painted his face with purple polka dots. When someone opened the door, he threw confetti in the air and, while squeezing a bicycle horn, shouted, “Hooray, the belly button man is here!” Still nothing.

The salesman, now desperate, changed his whole sales pitch in ways that would have raised a few eyebrows back at corporate headquarters. Instead of just opening his case and showing off his belly buttons, he tried juggling them—sometimes thirty or forty at a time—while riding a pink unicycle. Still nothing.

Finally, the salesman got so depressed over not making any sales that at the next house he rang the bell and just stood there, not knowing what to do. When another stony-faced person answered the door, the salesman broke into a sob, relating every miserable detail of his story while displaying his useless merchandise.

The stony-faced person listened without saying a word. Something about the salesman’s story touched him in a new way. It was more than sad. It was pathetic. Trying to sell something for which there was no need, well, it was absurd. For a moment he thought he was going to cry. But he felt different somehow. Suddenly his mouth began to do strange things. Slowly it turned upward like a crescent moon and began to open. His eyes gleamed with an inner light. Then the man felt a strange twinge. It gurgled up his throat like a trickling spring and came out as a chuckle. He started to laugh and guffaw, until from deep inside him there erupted a laugh like a geyser that quite nearly blew his belly apart.

“Quick!” he yelled to the salesman. “Give me a dozen of your best belly buttons. I’ll give you anything you want!”

From that day forward, people started laughing at all kinds of things, sometimes so hard that they felt their bellies might burst. So, of course, they all suddenly needed belly buttons to hold themselves in place, for matters of both safety and public decorum. The salesman, who later became a great motivational speaker, had no more trouble selling them. He sold so many to people all over the world, in fact, that today belly buttons are far more common in households than encyclopedias or vacuum cleaners, and need no longer be sold door to door.

Author’s Note: Read this and other absurd essays and tales in my new book The Absurd Naturalist, available from Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/The-Absurd-Naturalist-Irreverent-Musings/dp/1502977281

Published in 5enses April 2015  http://www.5ensesmag.com/the-bellybutton-man-a-business-fable/