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A long time ago I read “At the Core,” a story by science-fiction author Larry Niven. (Fate-of-the-galaxy spoiler alert.) His protagonist Beowulf Schaeffer was hired by an alien race to pilot a superfast spacecraft to the galactic core. As Schaeffer gets closer he sees a lot of radiation. And as he gets closer yet he discovers that the galaxy is exploding, and in about 25,000 years the deadly radiation chain reaction will reach what is called “known space,” where humans and all aliens that humans have encountered dwell. Soon after Schaeffer reports this to his alien employers, the entire alien race prepares to leave the Galaxy. Schaeffer at first shrugs–who cares about 25,000 years from now?–but then wonders if the aliens, who are considered cowardly, might not be more courageous than we are. At minimum they recognize without denial the danger that they must face, and the sooner the better. Niven ends the story by having Schaeffer think, “Maybe it is the humans who are the cowards–at the core.”

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The ceramic piece with the triangle cutouts was made by me in 2007. The chapbook was made by me, with help from my friends Steve Boyle and Genny Edge, in 2008. I gave both of these creations to my mother soon after they were made, but and they were hers till she died on December 11, 2020, and now they are mine again.

I don’t even remember making the vessel, though I do remember that i did a whole series of cutout pieces back in the day. One of them graced my deceased friend Karen Wilkinson’s front-room table for several years. As for the chapbook, it was a labor of love and I remembered it well, and am grateful that this copy yet exists.

Both works now make me feel strange, and strangely hopeful.

I’ve been doing Title Tuesday, first on eons.com, then on Facebook, for more than ten years. I did one again this morning, but for the first time I asked the poets to try my specialty, which is ACROSTIC Poetry, a genre favored by Lewis Carroll, the author of some of the Psalms of the Old Testament, and many others. So this week’s feature included a primer of sorts. Here it is in its entirety.

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Title Tuesday for March 2, 2021: Acrosticon

Friends, today I want to welcome you to my world, that of acrostic poetry. So we’ll have FIFTEEN titles today, for Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced acrosticists.

Beginning: Single Acrostic

The first letter of every line will also make words. Might be fun to warm up with an acostic that is also your name.

Gary

Gosh gee whiz
And this here is
Rejoicing to be
Yes, so much to see

Titles:

Mama
Loving
Anteater
Gadzooks
Filibuster

Intermediate: Double Acrostic

This time not only the first letters, but also the last letters, form words.

Kind Lady

Keep a thought that all be well
In a moment sound the bell–a
Nest of goodness C.O.D.
Delivers her love blissfully

Notice that the end of Line Two is really the beginning of Line 3. Sometimes I “fudge” like this when the end letters are hard to rhyme.

Titles:

Good Deed
Early Start
Iron Mine
Hurry Worry
Studebaker Deliveries

That last one will, I hope, be an irresistible challenge for our Stude Stud, Bob Kabchef​​.

Advanced: Triple Acrostic

In this one there will also be a middle column of letters.

Aye Luv Yew

Auld Lang Nay
Yet Unto Joe
Each Veil’s Glow

Joe is, of course, our own Joseph Arechavala​​.

Notice the more columns you put into your acrostic, the trickier it gets, and the “fudgier” you may have to be. But that’s not a bug; it’s a feature. When creativity is demanded of you, the more stubborn you are, the more creative you get.

Titles:

Take Bake Make
Mama Papa Baby
Try Vie Cry
Truth Truly Dares
Guitar Fender Bender

Seem impossible? Not so. If three poets are fearless enough to try even one of these, I will do all of them by midnight.

Have fun, Friends.

“You know you have to go through hell before you/Get to Heaven.” Steve Miller, “Big Old Jet Airliner”

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I had two artichokes that weren’t getting any younger. Right now I don’t have a pot big enough to cook them, but an experiment begged to be tried. Let’s strip a bunch of outer leaves off both and throw the stripped leaves in the pot too. Also, since the ‘chokes still have portions above mean high water, let’s turn them constantly.

It wasn’t the best brace of artichokes I ever had, not by a long shot. Even flawless cooking could not improve the meat-to-leaf ratio, and the stripped leaves had hardly any meat at all. And the thistly, bristly fiber atop the hearts didn’t want to yield to the spoon pull/scrape technique–five more minutes of low boil might’ve helped.

But nothing beats an Artichoke Heart. Whether your dipping sauce of choice is Garlic Butter, Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil, or (the way I was raised to enjoy it) Mayonnaise, there is always a little bit of heaven at the Artichoke Heart of Darkness.