Saturday, September 29, 2018

A (Political) Poem

Sorry to inflict my poetry upon any hapless soul who wanders here, but "inspired" by yesterday, I wrote a poem. I make no claims to quality.
You've been warned:

The United States of Beggary

This is what we’ve come to in the United States of Beggary.
Brown people begging at the borders to see
their brown children one more time.
Begging to hold their little brown hands.
Begging to be allowed to take their little brown selves
back to the misery they were trying to escape
And away from the horror they had found
In the United States of Beggary.

This is what we’re reduced to in the United States of Beggary.
The sick scrounging for healthcare
Asking for help in the land of the free
Turning to an app called gofundme.
Begging the country to come to their rescue:
“It’s UnAmerican to want us to help you -
“That’s not what nations are for, son –
“What are you? Dumb, son?
“No reason why accident or illness or emergency
Shouldn’t lead you straight to bankruptcy –
“In the United States of Beggary.”

This is what we’re down to in the United States of Beggary.
Women in elevators begging the elevated
To hear them, to see them, to
“Please, oh please, oh please don’t force metoo”
Live in a land where the judge is a rapist.
Just that.
“Don’t make me live under the rule of a rapist.
“I beg.
“A minute of your time, can you spare a dime,
“Could you at least look at me?
“In the United States of Beggary.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Why We Will Invade Iran...

Fantasy Scenario #1 – Iran

Looking at the Cabinet picks and wondering out loud….

So the president-elect hates Iran and thinks they are trying to build a nuke. In fact, they were recently trying to build a nuke and possibly other Weapons of Mass Destruction (I’ll call them WMDs for short). And perhaps, if sanctions are re-imposed on them they’ll go back to building a nuke.
And the President-elect goes on TV and says “Folks, they’re building a nuke. We’ve gotta stop them, there’s nothing else we can do… Bigly.”

And he happens to have a very capable DoD chief in Gen. Mattis. But he’d need a National Security Adviser who will believe anything he reads online, someone soft in the head, and it would help if this person already believes that Iran, being full of Muslims, is therefore full of terrorists. Mike Flynn you say? Nah, he wouldn’t want a job where… Oh, Okay, Flynn it is.

Now, the president-elect being a businessman would need to think there was some monetary advantage to invading Iran… for instance, if he thought that we’d be within our rights to keep their oil. He’d need people in his cabinet who know oil.

At home, of course, there’d be protests. A cynical person might think these protests could be best controlled if Muslims – most likely to protest – were all required to register as such: “Folks, we have to do it. Bigly.”

And maybe Shiite Muslims need to be rounded up for their own protection. “Folks, you know. Bigly.”

And maybe other Muslims, too. “Folks, bigly.”

Or maybe a single plane with a single bomb flies over Tehran and puts a mushroom cloud where it used to be.


Of course, I’m wrong. I’m an English professor, not a strategist, not a political type. Fine tune the fantasy. Give me facts. Please show me why this could never happen. 

Friday, August 19, 2016


Sooo much writing. Not to say publishing. That's different.

Wrote a Precinct Puerto Rico short story. Took a long time. Started it about 3 years ago, then stopped. Backburner. Then picked it up again and took it from about 1,500 words to 6,000 and the end.

In the same vein, I've been poking along on a Precinct Puerto Rico novel and a Lucy Cruz novel. Has anyone in the world asked to see these? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, publishers would, I'm almost certain, be indifferent. But Jennifer Jordan mentioned (a year or two ago) that Lucy Cruz deserved a second book. I agree.

And over the years people have asked when the next Precinct Puerto Rico novel would be out. The series did get some starred reviews to go along with lackluster sales, so another book is not out of order... just not likely to be profitable. Ah well.

Wrote my first comic mystery with real high hopes of making a sale. Can't even tell you the premise because, like Donald Trump, I'm afraid you'll steal my ideas, and then there'll be no reason to elect me president...

This was another case of starting the story years ago and returning to it. Stuck at about 1,000 words and ending at about 3,000,

Are there other projects I'm working on? Of course. I don't even know how many open projects I have. Is my writer's block gone? No idea. Hope so.


Went to Philadelphia a week ago. Had last been there in the 1970s on a day trip with my 4th grade class. I liked it then, and I liked it again.

The Museum of Fine Arts is spectacular - a world class collection, especially of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. Nude Descending a Staircase? Amazing. Three Musicians? Awesome.

The Franklin Institute still has the giant heart you can walk through travelling the circuit your blood takes through that muscle. My 7 y.o. wanted me to go with her. I can say it is made for the 7 and 8 y.o. set, not their parents.  There's also a Brain Games type exhibit that my daughter enjoyed. (Not to say I didn't -thought it was quite cool.) And a lot of the interactive stuff that computers make possible.

We also visited Betsy Ross' house. Very learnifying. Daughter came away thinking she'd actually met Betsy Ross - why else would the young lady reenactor say she was Betsy Ross?

Down side? Two things. First, plenty of homeless people living on the streets and in the parks. As a New Yawker born and bred, this wasn't a problem, but you'd think Philadelphia would have a plan. Of course, Ben Franklin himself slept on a church pew his first day in Philadelphia and drank water from the river...

Second, my wife and I have figured out the  bus and train systems in NYC, London, Paris, Madrid, Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, etc. without a hitch. This time around, we couldn't even find the train, couldn't figure out the buses, and were advised by the front desk people at our hotel to not bother. I wouldn't have thought that from a town that has everything it needs to be a major destination town.

Overall, 4.1 out of 5 stars...

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly - Angel Zapata's "Chalk Dust" & "Housekeeper"

Okay, so first you might be thinking "Who is this Torres fellow telling us what poetry to like and what to dislike?" But I suspect it will take you only a few minutes to realize that a) I'm more than qualified to talk about poetry - I wrote a poem just last year, and b) you shouldn't let your negative attitude keep you from reading two excellent poems.

Angel Zapata's contributions to "The 5-2" are mini-masterworks. The ending of the first I'm talking about here will move you if poetry can do that sort of thing to you (that is, if you have a soul...). This is "Chalk Dust" and it imagines a pair of siblings going to visit the site where their father wound up becoming a homicide statistic. My own father worked in a not-so-pleasant part of the South Bronx back when the South Bronx was notoriously bad and twice had guns put to his head. I imagine for a moment what it would have been like to lose him that horrific way...

Then "Housekeeper."  You read these two poems together for best effect. This one also is a father child relationship though in this case, it is a relationship that is revealed to have been a little warped, maybe a little cracked. In any event, see for yourself. I've provided the links, the poems are short, and it's Sunday when this gets posted so really what excuse do you have?

Angel Zapata has other works available to you for free, just head on over to his blog.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

97 Days of Writing

And I write short stories as well... I've got about ten stories that need finishing. I'm literally half way through writing these stories. Here's a snippet from a story I'm calling "The Care of Widows and Orphans." It's a Luis Gonzalo story if that means anything to you...

“It was never me!” she screamed.
She sat with her back against a half-rotted wooden toolshed, in a pool of rainwater mud and the blood that streamed from her face, her scalp. One leg was straight out in front of her, the other twisted back behind her, her arms almost useless, almost motionless at her sides, her shoulders slumped. A broken doll, tossed to one side. The only part animated was her face as she screamed.

The general premise in the story is that in Puerto Rico there are communal walking paths passing through private properties and the land owners have to maintain these paths. but, as you can imagine, landowners may not be keen to do this and, in fact, may buy properties without realizing these paths exist. In this case, a dispute about one of these paths has gone too far. Way too far.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

98 Days of Writing

A bit of poetry today. Not much of a poet. Wrote a good sonnet back in college days. Wrote a funny-ish poem about a year ago. Trying for another one now. Anyway, here's the start of it. It's called "Diagnosis" and has seen no polish:

"Except for the vice of poetry, your son checks out just fine.
He doesn’t smoke or drink or drug himself beyond the odd iambic line."

Well, like i said, I'm not one much for writing poetry...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

99 Days of Writing

Today's focus was more on removing snow from around the house than on writing, but I did get some writing done. More LUCY CRUZ novel #2. I finished one chapter and started another so that was nice - both a sense of accomplishment and a sense of direction for tomorrow's writing.

Here's a snippet:

Venganza ordered me to give him my cameras and whatever film or disks I had. I asked for a warrant. He said something like “obstruction of justice.” I said something like “first amendment.” He said something about me not wanting to catch Adrian’s killer. I said, “get out!” Then there was a little pushing – I did that. And there was some spitting – again me. Then I was face down on the floor with my hands cuffed behind my back.

Venganza is, as you can guess, a police officer, but not a particularly nice man. This is Lucy's first meeting with him and it didn't go so well. 

Have to do some research about being arrested in Puerto Rico. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

100 Days of Writing

If I count correctly, there are 100 days between now and my next birthday. So in those 100 days I'd like to finish several writing projects. Here are a few lines from today's writing on the latest LUCY CRUZ novel:

“I sent him photos; someone murdered him.”
“Those things don’t have to be connected,” Marrero pointed out.
“Adrian thought so.”

In the story, Lucy, our heroine, has photographed what she thought was a simple dismembered body part. Turns out, it's way more than that. Marrero is a local sheriff who might be able to help her figure out what's going on.

This novel is still in it's relatively early stages. About 7000 words into a 70,000 word project. I figure that if I apply myself, I'll be able to finish this story and even add some polish. Maybe even have it ready to be seen by professionals like my agent and an editor or three.  

Of course, if you'd like to look at a finished LUCY CRUZ novel, there's one available as a Kindle file for your Kindle machine or app: LUCY CRUZ AND THE CHUPACABRA KILLINGS.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

New Story

The Time Machine of Isaac Newton. You read correctly. Isaac Newton made a time machine. He had to. Someone forced him to...

The thought came to me a year ago. I was watching some time travel movie - not BACK TO THE FUTURE - and I just wondered what if Isaac Newton had tried to make a time machine. Of course, without a Delorean, he'd be essentially handicapped, but still...

I thought this could be the start of a much longer book. Instead of "The Da Vinci Code," it would be "The Newton Device". Something like that. And who, in the present day, gets to control this device?

So I did the research about Newton himself.

And I figured out why Dan Brown's book does not have scenes with Da Vinci in it. Because that's a bit of a mystery, no? Sure the story about Christ and Mary Magdalene is attractive, but why not toss in some chapters about Da Vinci as well? I'll tell you. Geniuses are attractive. His readers would have been drawn away from the central character - Robert Langdon (unless I just made that up).

Even as a writer, I found myself enjoying writing the Newton parts more than the rest of the story.

So I did the only responsible thing. I jettisoned the rest of the story and gave you Isaac Newton creating his time machine. If you're interested in time travel machine stories or Isaac Newton or just a good historical, give it a try.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

War of Words, A Poem

War of Words, A Poem

Steven Torres

From behind a rampart made of books

I fired my volley of screaming adjectives.

Down to my last hooked preposition

And a knife made of gerunds.

If the quartermaster did not soon pass by

To resupply, it would be caesura for me.

But here he came like a stalking Jove

Or talking dove or like one true love or whatever.

“Whadaya need?”

“Whadaya got?”

“A passive voice rifle with –ly attachment.”

“Oh,” I said disappointedingly.

“Or a metaphor cannon loaded with roaring lions, noonday suns, and hearts of gold.”

“Stale ammo.”


Something like a rocket-propelled simile twanged off a brick of Tolstoy.

“Or an allusion grenade,” he said.

I took that, pulled the pin and threw it over the heads of so many,

Past Dickens and Austen, Shakespeare, Chaucer and Beowulf, both Testaments and Aeschylus.

It landed between Homer and Homer and rolled to the foot of Gilgamesh.

And exploded to no effect whatsoever.

“Anything else?” I asked.

“A slingshot for pebbles of plain speech.”

I laughed a bitter laugh – war with jokers at your side.

The metaphor cannon loaded with dull ammunition

Is all about the rate of fire.

Keep it up and the enemy runs dazzled from the field.

Mix it up and they run the bases for the touchdown –

a rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick.

Then it was hand to hand – face to face, eye to eye and toe to toe.

Just me, the gerund blade, and the preposition.