Other Things Sweet

This past weekend my step-father-in-law passed away at the age of 79. I’d known Bob Bruss for just over twenty years. In that time we’d shared many conversations about marriage, life, in-laws, and a thousand other things that I’m not always sure how to quantify.

And we talked about writing.

He was always supportive of my writing, even if it was not the type of thing he was into. He wasn’t a big science fiction or fantasy type of guy. He preferred his made up stories to have some level of history to wrap themselves around. Still, he’d ask me how my current project was going, and I appreciated it.

I’m not sure when I found out he was a writer as well. Instead of prose, he focused on poetry. He would jot notes down about life, growing up, and places he’d seen. Over the years he might mention having written a new poem here or there. And at some point, either Courtney or I mentioned that he could potentially take those poems and publish them. I’m not sure if he felt like it might be too big of a task or if he wasn’t sure how to begin. A few more years went by and then Courtney gave him a gift for Christmas that said we’d help him compile everything and get it published.

Which really meant, I’d help him gather up his stuff and get him published.

We’d started the process just before Covid hit. And while 2020 wasn’t great for anyone, for Bob it was a spiral downward as his health began to really deteriate. We’d joke privately that we needed to be extra diligent as if COVID got anywhere near him we knew that would be the straw that broke the camel’s back for sure. He landed in the ICU for 14 days at one point.

Suffice to say, he wasn’t really feeling working the book. Suddenly I was worried that we might never finish it before he passed away.

And then, he rallied. As 2021 came on, he seemed to be more like his younger self. And with that came a flurry of emails with notes and thoughts about how to present the poems. He enlisted my mother-in-law, Bonnie, to help type them up, and sure enough we managed to get everything out there and publish it on Amazon.

Bonnie told me later that he was so proud once he held a physical copy in his hand. And as someone who has been lucky enough to have that moment a couple of times… I understood.

Now that he’s passed on, I found myself thinking about that process. That had we not gotten another two years he wouldn’t have been able to see his work out there. Wouldn’t be able to see others read selections. Or even have one of the poems turned into a song.


I figured he wouldn’t mind if I shared one of my personal favorites here. Given that I sometimes (always) have a hard time throwing things out, this one really spoke to me.


Image by tookapic from Pixabay

My Favorite Old Chair – Bob Bruss

(from Other Things Sweet – A Collection of Poems)


Once I had a favorite old chair
It’s where I would sit and never share.
It was made of green leather and had a high back
The arm rests discolored and turned shades of black.

The cushion was crushed and it sagged where I sat
It was really quite comfy; and I liked it like that.
Under the cushion, down in the cracks
It held all the crumbs I had dropped from my snacks.

I liked that old chair, it fit like a glove
The feelings I had seemed to border on love.
I’d sit there for hours while watching TV
And bask in the comfort of its arms around me.

But all good things must come to an end
The time had come to say goodbye to you my friend.
My wife was insisting, the chair had to go
I can’t face the fact, please say it’s not so.

The chair now resides at the home of a friend
I can’t face the fact that it’s come to an end.
But still on occasion I go visit there
And take a few minutes to sit in my chair.



If you wanted to read his work, you can find his book here.


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Finding the Words

I’m not a writer. When it comes to writing anything, even an email, I put a tremendous amount of thought behind it before I begin. I’m the same with talking. There is always far more I’m thinking than saying. This is who I am. Don’t be mistaken. I have the ability to talk for hours with friends on a topic I find interesting or one that sparks my passion, but sitting down to write a blog post… I’d rather go back to my drawing or painting. What do I have worth saying to the world? I find it easier to speak through art, or poetry, because in truth I have simple loves in life.

Photograph by Amanda Makepeace

Photograph by Amanda Makepeace


Satin soft petals reaching toward
the clouds, sway aloft sturdy stalks–
To and fro, to and fro.

They lure me with luscious hues
To places unknown, and
Capture me with Spring incense,
A meadow inside my soul.

Lay me down midst the Aster and Sage,
So I may rest, may dream,
If lucky, live again.

© Amanda Makepeace

A Poem (because I’ve got nothing else)

Wind Chimes

Their notes drift in through the window
Tickling eyelids that refuse to open.
Instead of waking, the melody pulls me
Beyond dreams, a symphony of new beginnings.
I let go my troubles and worries,
Turn away from dark thoughts, those memories
Which haunt my days and loom over my nights.
Away I fly, each clang of the wind chime
Creating an opera in my mind.


© Amanda Makepeace

NaPoWriMo 2012

The Lord of Infinity – A Creative Interview with Dylan Kinnett

This week’s interview is with Dylan Kinnett. He’s a Baltimore denizen and creative writer extraordinaire, and his visit is special for the Tessera Guild. The reason: Dylan is the taller, younger, and better looking brother to J Edward Neill (yep, that’s me.) I was first introduced to Dylan’s fascinating style of writing in his original release of Infinity’s Kitchen. And now that he’s gone global, he’s up next in our ongoing Creative Interview series.

So let’s get started!

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Hey there, latest Tessera victim. Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, and what you love:

Hi, my name is Dylan Kinnett. I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. I’m not originally from Baltimore, but I wonder: after spending 10 years in a place, do you become “from” that place? What does it really mean to be “from” a place, anyway? Does it just mean that you live there, that you’re proud to live there? In any case, the place where you live is part of who you are. Despite whatever repetitive loop you may have seen on cable TV lately, Baltimore is a charming place to be, and I love it here.

In layman’s terms, describe your unique style of writing:

That’s a difficult question because the layman’s terms aren’t particularly accurate for what I’ve been writing lately. If you ask a layman what “poetry” means, they’ll probably describe rhyme, meter, rhythm, and they may go on to say that it’s supposed to be about romantic themes and imagery. I’m trying to avoid all that, and to write something else, something new. I’ve discovered that the laymen are actually quite open to these new things, so long as I don’t use too many confusing old words for those things. Is it poetry? Sure, but I don’t go out of my way to call it that. In general, I’m just trying to do new things. I also like to write short plays, stories, and I dabble in performance art.

Please describe for us your fascinating new release, Litanies and Reiterations:

Litanies and Reiterations is a chapbook, which is a small book of writings. The works within the chapbook got their start as a collection of commonplace phrases. I’d find the phrases in everyday conversation, in song lyrics, blog comments, and catalogs: all over the place, really. Then, I worked the phrases into some writings that are repetitive, reiterative, or chant-like, and that’s what the title is about. One of the pieces, for example, is about how often politicians talk about the world and their work in four-year increments, and about how arbitrary and absurd it is to think about the world that way. Another one makes fun of how many love songs are on the air. It’s a playfully sarcastic little book.

Talk about Infinity’s Kitchen and the interesting things readers might find therein:

Infinity’s Kitchen is a literary journal that I started a few years ago that has grown into a quarterly reading series as well. As the editor, I’m looking to feature works that are somehow the product of an interesting new recipe. In order to contribute to the publication, its website or reading series, authors and artists are asked to answer a question: what is experimental about your creative work or process? The word “experimental” is a difficult one; some examples might help. Some of the interesting things we’ve published include a film and pirate radio project, poems made with Jello letters, and a reading from gigantic broadsheet printings revived from the 18th century.


Do you have an ultimate artistic goal you’re pursuing?

Yes, but I don’t know what it is yet. I’ll create something, it doesn’t reach the goal, so I keep creating.

Creatively speaking, what’s next for you?

I’m on vacation this week, but I do hope to finish writing a ten-minute play that I’m working on. The play is a follow-up to a morbid parody about astronauts that was performed a few years ago, but I’m finding that to be a tough act to follow.

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It’s a real treat to have a talent like Dylan stop by, and it’s especially neat to encounter his awesome style of artistic expression. Here’s a few more Dylan-related tidbits and links for you to devour:

Artistic statement: http://seks-ua.blogspot.com/2013/08/dylan-kinnett-artist-statement.html

His latest release, Litanies and Reiterationsavailable in paperback and in e-book formats from Apple and Amazon.

Infinity’s Kitchen

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Thanks again to Dylan for stopping by!

Everyone stay tuned for the next Creative Interview!

J Edward Neill

Author of the brain-tingling Coffee Table Philosophy series.