Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary


April 2014

PORTALS ~ Volume I

PORTALS ~ Volume I

Volume I in the ongoing series “PORTALS” ~ a portfolio of altered photographs that explores doors, windows, alleyways and other openings as passages to other places and times.

Nine Doors

Nine Doors ~ Bratlleboro, Vermont

Through An Upper Window

Through An Upper Window ~ Himrod, New York

Yellow Door

Yellow Door ~ Brattleboro, Vermont

Samaurai Castle Gate

Samurai Castle Gate ~ Matsuyama, Shikoku, Japan


Doorway ~ Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Book Review ~ Everything Neon ~ Bud Smith

Book Review ~ Everything Neon ~ Bud Smith

Everything Neon

Everything Neon ~ Bud Smith (Marginalia Press 2014) is the best book of poetry I’ve read in a long time. Bud Smith unleashes his keen powers of observation and ability to describe contemporary life in narrative prose that takes the reader on a stream of consciousness magical mystery tour.

Rarely do I want to go back and start rereading a book right after finishing it, but I did with Everything Neon. For me it was like listening to one of my favorite vinyl albums that left me wanting to immediately flip it over, lay that needle right back in the groove of the first song, and do it all again.

Bud Smith writes poems that I wish I had written. He makes it look easy. Maybe it is for him, but these are poems that only Bud Smith can write. Bud Smith is a total original who is as comfortable in his own skin as he is with his own authentic voice. He exhibits a high degree of self awareness, but writes with a zen-like unselfconsciousness. The poems in Everything Neon are rendered with unstudied freshness and spontaneity and are never over worked.It’s like he’s on your living room couch and you’re just having a laid back, casual conversation.

Everything Neon is a collection of epistolary love poems and reflections on people and a sense of place. Smith’s poems somehow have a meandering way that manages to transform the everyday mundane into a transcendental experience. Everything Neon contains personal reflections on human intimacy integrated with, and somehow juxtaposed to, the ebbs and flows of living in a present day New York City neighborhood. Bud Smith ruminates on the day-to-day of urban living in the way that nature poets might describe the natural environment.

Intimacies shared with his lover are interwoven with reflections on finding and keeping a parking place or remembering where his car is parked, impressions of living in a pre-war Manhattan apartment building with all its noises and quirks and the idiosyncratic behavior of neighbors in close quarters. It’s also about the interaction of nature with his city; with references to the “moon scraping the tops of buildings”, the “silver river”, the storms of winter, the heat of summer and passing of the seasons.

However, don’t be fooled by what might, at first glance, appear to be minimalism or even simplicity. While Everything Neon may feel as comfortable as your favorite pair of jeans, the poems reveal hidden depth and subtle layers of nuance. Everything Neon is a celebration of being alive and fully present and the work resonates with me for the same reasons as the work of Gary Snyder, and (Hell yeah!) Walt Whitman. The poems in Everything Neon have a funky feel and a songwriter’s soul.

Smith writes with the sensibilities of a photographer and a film maker. Bud Smith’s narrative prose manages to take us inside his head so we can see through his eyes. Everything Neon is also about compassion, humility, humanity, ironic humor, a keen sense of the absurd, and a sense of optimism with hope for redemption. Smith is a prolific writer and a ball of fire with multiple collaborative projects in the works at any given time. You can expect a lot more from Bud Smith, but Everything Neon is as good a place to start as any.

Back Roads and Far Away Places ~ Volume I

Back Roads and Far Away Places ~ Volume I

The first installment in an ongoing portfolio documenting the journey on back roads to far away places.

Street Musician

Street Musician ~ Quebec City, Canada

Dixie Truckers Home

Abandoned Truck Stop ~ Rt. 90 Northeastern Ohio


Waiting For a Train ~ Munich, Germany

Street Scene, Taos

Where  the Buffalo Roam ~ Taos, New Mexico

Back Alley

Back Alley ~ Penn Yan, New York

Walking Home from School

Walking Home From School ~ Matsuyama, Shikoku, Japan



Volume III in an ongoing series of abstract images made from altered photographs of street art, graffiti and signs.


Shibuya ~ Tokyo, Japan

Street Portrait

Self Portrait ~ Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Palm Tarot

Palm Tarot ~ New York City


Television Screen ~ Rock Stream, New York


Arcade ~ Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

In The Studio ~ Volume III

In The Studio ~ Volume III


Volume III in an ongoing series of photographs documenting the work of Daniel Hoffman ~ Luthier ~ Maker Of Fine Concert Violins, Violas, and Violoncellos.

Plans and Proportions

Plans and Proportions

Figured Maple

Figured Maple

Shaping the Neck

Shaping the Neck

Glued and Clamped

Glued and Clamped

In the Front Room

In the Front Room

My Short Story “Bowling For Jesus” is published by Connotation Press

My Short Story “Bowling For Jesus” is published by Connotation Press in the April 15th edition.

From Meg Tuite, Fiction Editor: “The mid-April issue of Connotation Press is up and exceptional! Michelle Messina Reale is our featured fiction writer with three brilliant poetic prose pieces from her upcoming collection. Find out more in our interview. Also we have outstanding work by Michael Gillan Maxwell, Cort Bledsoe, Mike Joyce and Grant Faulkner! Thank you for sending CP some of your beauties!”

I am honored to be in such good company! Thank you Meg Tuite!

Michael Gillan Maxwell
Michael Gillan Maxwell

Love Is Never Having To Change Your Password

Love Is Never Having To Change Your Password

Bleeding Heart

“You’ve got an invalid haircut / And it hurts when you smile / You’d better get out of town / Before your nickname expires” Warren Zevon ~ Life’ll Kill Ya

I’ve been hearing a lot recently about the “Heartbleed” bug, an insidious super cyber thief that invades websites, steals personal security information, passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data. I’ve never changed some of my passwords, ever, since the dawn of time, or at least since my last three computers passed away.

This morning I opened an e mail from a company whose name I did not even recognize informing me that, although they had no reason to believe their security had been breached, they were advising everyone on their client list to change their passwords. I’m on THEIR client list? Who the Hell are these people? This really got my attention since I don’t even recognize their name or remember doing business with them. I have no record of my user name or password with them. However, they remember me, and if THEY have my e mail and other information, I can only assume the situation is far more serious than I even want to know. My cozy little veil of denial dropped away as I realized, that while my slovenly ways in never organizing my sock drawer may never result in any kind of serious consequence, outside of occasionally mismatched socks, THIS could cause some serious grief if left unattended. With a deep sigh of resignation, I decided to go all in and change my user name and passwords for over 32 websites. TODAY. Right now. No more screwing around.

After much pulling of hair, gnashing of teeth and rending and tearing of garments, I completed this odious task. My brain was fried and I was a gibbering idiot, reverting to one finger keyboard pecking and using a cheat sheet. But maybe this is the kind of rigorous mental activity that helps stave off Altzheimers, or causes a complete mental breakdown. Now, If only I could remember my own name….

Many sites have a “password helper” that rates the quality of your password on a spectrum of “strong” to “this really sucks. Why don’t you just advertise it on Facebook?” If you follow their recommendations you’ll create passwords like the rare Enigma machine used by the Nazis to send coded messages. My usernames and passwords are combinations of irrational numbers and Pleadian star language, closely modeled after the nuclear launch codes, and the secret combination that protects the vaults at Fort Knox. The problem is, I’ll never be able to remember any of them. They’re all so counterintuitive that it takes two or three tries for someone blessed with sausage fingers like mine. I feel like I’m already trying to hack myself. This is not good, since many sites freeze your access for at least 24 hours after three bungled attempts.

I’ve already had this error message more than once: “Hey numb nuts! You entered an old password. You changed your password 4 hours ago.”

Old dogs learn new tricks slowly…..

Rock and RollBot
Rock and RollBot



Volume II in an ongoing series of images made from altered photographs of street art, graffiti and signs.

Pro Boxing

PRO BOXING ~ Saratoga Springs, New York

Sidewalk Spill


Tow Away Zone

TOW AWAY ZONE ~ Seattle Washington

Happiness and Compassion

HAPPINESS & COMPASSION ~ Seneca Falls, New York

You Can't Always get What You Want

STAY TRUE ~ Ithaca, New York

In The Studio: Volume II

In The Studio: Volume II

Volume II in an ongoing series of photographs documenting the work of Daniel Hoffman ~ Luthier ~ Maker Of Fine Concert Violins, Violas, and Violoncellos.

Four Cellos

Four Cellos



Varnshing Supplies

Varnishing Supplies



In The White

In The White

Cello Player

Cello Player

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