Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Which poetry book should you be reading

Ok, now I am going to offer you something useful. After taking a bunch of quizzes on people’s blogs only to find out I am an over-the-top Christmas sweater, 63% weird, a classic Coca-cola, etc, I have made up my own quiz. Answer the following questions and I will recommend a book of poetry for you to read.

1. You’re expecting a baby girl. Which of these names would you choose for her?
a. Lilian b. Abagail c. Siena d. Cody e. Deborah f. Maria

2. Beatles or Stones?

3. Which of the following would be your choice of pet?
a. Beagle b. Siamese cat c. Mynah bird d. Seahorse

4. If you could change careers, what would you like to be?

5. Which of these mostly closely matches your present mood?
a. distant b. volatile c. content d. exuberant
e. preoccupied f. melancholy g. dissatisfied

6. Which city would you like to spend a year in?
a. Amsterdam b. La Paz c. Athens d. Chengdu e. Paris f. Honolulu

7. Name three of your favorite words.

* - * - * - * - * - * - * - * -* - * - * - * - * - * - * -
You are a sensual person who desires closeness and understanding. You have a sense of humor but don't like funny business or too much kidding. Your reading prescription is Adelia Prado's "The Alphabet in the Park."

You have a slight fear of closeness. You take life seriously and enjoy a touch of humor to take the edge off things. You'll take wit over hilarity and plain over fancy. Your reading prescription is David Ignatow's "Against the Evidence." Here's a poem of his from 1972.

You value tradition and straight-forwardness. In others, you look for empathy and humaneness. Despite the desire for clarity, you have some inclination to the mystic. Your poetry book is Marie Howe's "What the Living do."

Given the choice, you would be a night owl but you're just as at home in broad daylight. Under a layer of worldliness is a sensitivity many don't appreciate. You are astute and discerning. Your book is Robin Becker's "All-American Girl."

You are patient and disciplined, which helps you handle anxiety. You have an appreciation of beauty in both the sublime and the sensual, and you like to linger there. Your book of poems is Jane Kenyon's "Otherwise."

You don’t mind not always being in step with the rest of the world. The opinions of others are relatively unimportant to you when making a decision, but you’ll go out of your way not to hurt someone’s feelings. You have strong powers of concentration. Your book is Agha Shahid Ali’s “The Half-Inch Himalayas.”

Although an upfront kind of person, you do have some doubts you don’t tell anyone about. You were born under a good star and are considered by most to deserve the good luck you’ve had in life. Your book is Pablo Neruda’s “100 Love Sonnets.”

If people only knew about those soft spots you’ve got under the mask of the quotidian! You don’t always work well with tension. Your curiosity and openness to new things have helped and will help you in life. Your friends appreciate your warmth. Your poetry prescription is Diane Wakoski’s “Emerald Ice.”

You have the gift of great resilience. You’ve been around the block but not without your principles. You have never been the type to laugh when someone falls down, unless you didn’t like them already. Sometimes you find you need help in the enthusiasm department. Your book is Brenda Shaughnessy’s “Interior with Sudden Joy.”

You are basically a stable person but have recently gone through a somewhat schizophrenic period. You are exactly 89.341% weird (if you had been an actual librarian the score would have been higher). You need a bit of grounding now, and nouns more than adjectives. Your prescription is Bob Hicok's "The Legend of Light."

Your book was hard to find. Stella asks “are you sometimes wearing a mask?” Sometimes you feel like you need a good stiff drink, but really you need spiritual food, and a little more earth under your fingernails. Your book prescription is Gloria Fuertes’ “Off the Map.” You can read three of her poems here.

Kate’s husband,
Sometimes you feel like breaking loose, a feeling that can leave you exhausted. You need to take better care of yourself. You would have made a good professional dancer. The tomcat is your patron saint. Your book is Russell Edson’s classic “The Tunnel.”

The past year has filled you with a new ambition. Sometimes you are too nice to people – you should let them know your limits, especially those who try your patience. A little travel –alone- would do you good. Stay away from prescription drugs. The book for you is Joshua Beckmann’s “Things are Happening.”

Determination is your strong point - only in love have you sometimes beat around the bush. You are steadfast and resilient. Remember that forgiveness is key to peace of mind – on both ends. Stay away from technology stocks. Your book is Alan Michael Parker’s “Love Song with Motor Vehicles.”

Nate’s Friend,
You’re a down-to-earth person who doesn’t like artifice. You can be mercurial but are a reliable friend. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Your poetry book prescription is Micheal Ondaajte’s “The Collected Works of Billy the Kid.”

Your strong points are loyalty and curiosity. Fate has been good to you, although it’s given you very little psychic ability. If you let your newest project sit a spell, it could turn out radically different, and better. Your book in Kay Ryan’s “Elephant Rocks.”

You are generally upbeat but there's always room in your imagination for something somber. You are attracted to myth and color. It’s all in how you stir the soup. Your book is Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s “The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earheart.”

You appreciate nature and relish the occasional indulgence in luxury. There is a good night’s sleep in the offing. Go with your instinct and set yourself free. Your poetry book is Patrick Philip’s “Chattahoochee.”

You prefer the questioner to the authoritative voice. Beauty, even violent beauty, brings you solace. Remember the Yiddish proverb – “Bygone troubles are a pleasure to talk about.” Your book is Pier Giorgio di Cicco’s “Living in Paradise.”

In some ways you’re a true stoic. You like a direct statement more than a teasing meander. Some of the prejudices you’ve developed in reading are worth having, but don’t let them imprison you. Your book is “Forty-four Ambitions for the Piano” by Lola Haskins.

You have perhaps spent too much time smoldering. Go with your gut, darling - it’s that simple. Your book is “The Random House Book of 20th Century French Poetry,” edited by Paul Auster.

You are drawn to the visual and have enviable gifts. Get in touch with your inner Chinese. Your book is the anthology from Copper Canyon Press “The Book of Tongues.”

Nate’s wife,
You have a number of attractive quirks. Few high-powered executives have mynah birds, so you may have to choose (go for the mynah!). Keep in mind what many an Italian grandmother would tell you: “To a quick question, give a slow answer.” Your poetry book is Laura Kasischke’s “Gardening in the Dark.”

Whenever you are near an aquarium, you experience a familial affinity to the fish. Converse more with your partner. Don’t forget God gives every crazy bird a worm, but He won’t drop it in the nest. Your book is Martin Espada’s “City of Coughing and Dead Radiators.”

You are not the type to lie on your resumĂ©. You like voices than have an oracular character – even the ocean once spoke to you! Your book is "Songs of the Simple Truth" by Julia de Burgos.

Sometimes you frighten children. Your element is dionysian. There is a book calling your name and it is David St. John’s “Study for the World’s Body.”

You would have been right at home in the wild west, had you been born a man. Avoid unnecessary travel. It’s time to switch from consonants to vowels. Your poetry book is “Lorca & Jimenez,” translated by Robert Bly.

As they say, it's never too late. You’re drawn to the passionate and shun the mediocre. You’re family oriented. Among the animal signs, yours is the marsupial, and your patron saint is Noah Webster. The book for you is Tomaz Salamun’s "Four Questions of Melancholy."

You are seeking balance in life. Your approach is rational but you have a mystical leaning. You would not make a good hedonist. Your book is Wislawa Szymborska's "View with a Grain of Sand."

You strive to keep your house in order but don't always succeed. Women find you very attractive, but you've never been the type to take advantage of people. Your book is Norman Dubie's "The Mercy Seat."

You're drawn to the odd but have a firm grounding in reality. You are polite and disciplined (enough), which can help you achieve your goals. Even so, don't neglect the spontaneous impulse. Your book is Peter Pereira's "Saying the World."

You have a hard exterior but there is a secret marshmellow inside you. You laugh at your own jokes, but not alone. Remember what someone's Chinese grandmother said - "When the cup is full, carry it even." Your book is Marie Howe's "What the Living Do."

Monday, May 29, 2006


hey, not to be morbid or pessimistic, but doesn't it seem sometimes like there can't be too many people in Iraq left to die? i mean, for chrissakes already.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Out of Order

Out of Order

Apparently, the rat poison.
My slumber button. The mafia.
Low-alcohol beer.

My darling’s instrument.
Without question, the weather.
Southern California.

The elm’s own plastic bag.
Certain starlets. Bagpipes.
This freaking phone booth.


Got a rejection from Coconut. Oh well. I still love Coconut. Some of the poems are plain clever and not suited to the size or shape of my brain, but most of it is wonderful and refreshing, especially issue #2.
Submitted: May 14 Reply: May 23

"Dear Sarah,

I'm sorry to pass on these poems--we've been receiving tons of great work. Thank you, however, for thinking of us and sharing your poetry--I'll hope you'll keep reading Coconut. All best wishes for your writing and submissions.

Bruce Covey
Coconut Editor"

Friday, May 26, 2006

The End of May is Nigh

Did you know...

May is . . . . Better Sleep Month, National Good Car Care Month, National Photo Month, National Salad Month, National Egg Month, National Barbecue Month, Revise Your Work Schedule Month, Date Your Mate Month, National Hamburger Month, and Fungal Infection Awareness Month...

I confess I haven't been aware enough of fungal infections this month.
I await even bigger surprises in June.

thanks to s.ward for the photo

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Chapter X, in which our hero overcomes all obstacles with hardly any hoopla at all

Well, what’s there to say today except “Happy birthday, Bob.”

My favorite bob dylan songs (today) are:

1. Idiot Wind (from the Bootleg series, not the "Blood on the Tracks" one, though that’s good, too) Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats,/Blowing through the letters that we wrote/Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves/We're idiots babe,/It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves.

2. You’re a Big Girl, Now (but from “Biography,” not from “Blood on the Tracks” but hey I really do love “Blood on the Tracks”)

3. Meet Me in the Morning (from "Blood on the Tracks!"): Meet me in the morning, 56th and Wabasha

4. New Pony: I got a new pony, she knows how to fox-trot, lope and pace/She got great big hind legs/And long black shaggy hair above her face

5. Tomorrow is a Long Time: If today was not an endless highway,/If tonight was not a crooked trail,/If tomorrow wasn't such a long time,/Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all.

6. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine: I dreamed I saw St. Augustine,/Alive with fiery breath,/And I dreamed I was amongst the ones/That put him out to death.

7. Maggie’s Farm: I wake in the morning,/Fold my hands and pray for rain./I got a head full of ideas/That are drivin' me insane./It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor.

8. Visions of Johanna: The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain

9. Like a Rolling Stone: You thought they were all a-kiddin' you!

10. When I Paint My Masterpiece: Got to hurry back on to my hotel room,/where I got me a date with Botticelli’s niece

11. I’ll Keep it with Mine: Sorry, it would be really unfair of me not to slip this one in. C'mon, give it to me, I'll keep it with mine.

I stole the photo, by the way, from www.slopbucket.com, where you can make sure you know the words.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Can you believe it's still raining? it's gorgeous. like grey fur. so i won't have to mow the lawn today. and i probably, as long as this keeps up, won't have to be a soccer mom. lawd!

It did manage to stop raining for a couple hours yesterday. i took the kids to the zoo. I love the zoo. My favorite are the seals, but also the orangutans, chimps, bird sorts, the tarantula and turtles. We also saw some ponies. One had such a large penis that a crowd of children drew around it. luckily there was a fence. I mean, this was the petting zoo section! Of course I was asked to explain this phenomenon. And of course I said the pony must have laid down on something sticky that other things kept getting stuck to until the tubular formation was achieved. just kidding. the kids were molto impressed. there was such a hullabaloo i dropped the camera.

I recognized a lot of names at the zoo. That is, a lot of Germans have animal last names. There's -
Mr. Bear (Baer)
Mr. Brown Horse (Brauner)
Mr. Black Horse (Rappe)
Mr. Dog (Hund)
Mr. Hedgehog (Igel)
Mr. Mouse (Maus)
Mr. Rabbit (Hase)
Mr. Lion (Loewe)
Mr. Sheep (Schaf)
Mr. Stork (Storch)
Mr. Bird (Vogel)
Mr. Fox (Fuchs)
Mr. Mountain Goat (Steinbock)
Mr. White Horse (Schimmel)
Mr. Sparrow (Spatz)
Mr. Frog (Frosch)

They're all in the phone book. And that's not all. Ok, we've got Larry Bird and Sheryl Crow and Redd Foxx. But are there others? No!

Actually Germans can have pretty wonderful names. One of my favorites is Mr. Holzapfel (wooden apple). Also read about a Frau Wintermantel (winter coat) the other day. And the guy who works at the Foreigner Registry is named Mr. Sorgenfrei (Mr. Carefree). My colleague says that must be a Jewish name. And I said it's a pretty crap name for a German Jew.

something that occurred to me this morning

me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me ME me me ME me me me me me me me me ME me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me ME me me me me ME me me me me me me me ME me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me ME me me me me me me ME me me me me ME me me ME me me me me me me ME me me me me ME me me me me me me

Thursday, May 18, 2006


supposed to rain here all week. i like that. keeps things cool. keeps things quiet. keeps me from feeling i should make something more of it. or mow the lawn. or maw the loan. or maul the now. or own the moan. or lay low in high places.

photo j.burhans

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

finally, that tag

So I finally got around to doing the book tag from Michi. I do believe the books you've read, aim to read, gave up on and plan to leave alone say a lot about you. Better than taking a subjective personality test, which folks should allow a new acquaintance to answer for them.

So, here goes. I grouped my books at the top because I felt like that.
I also added a new notation: the * asterisk is for books begun and never finished.
The other notations are:
Bold for books you've read
Italics for books you want to read
(Parentheses for books you've never heard of)
Strike-through for books you will not read ever
Underline the ones on your shelf
No notation at all denotes neutrality

This list was getting pretty unwieldy. So, to cut down the potential boredom factor, I trimmed a few titles at random.

Independence Day – Richard Ford
Pastoralia – George Saunders
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Parallel Universes – Roz Chast
Bastard out of Carolina – Dorothy Allison
The Drowned and the Saved – Primo Levi
The Seven Storey Mountain – Thomas Merton
Excellent Cadavers – Alexander Steele
Hitler’s Pope – John Cornwell
No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan – Robert Shelton
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
(His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman)
The Life of Pi - Yann Martel*

Animal Farm - George Orwell
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller*
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

1984 - George Orwell*
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-J.K. Rowling

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
(Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell)
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Atonement - Ian McEwan
(The Shadow of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Dune - Frank Herbert
Sula by Toni Morrison
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
Brighton Rock - Graham Greene
Disgrace - JM Coetzee
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
(The Buddha of Suburbia - Hanif Kureishi)
Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake

Ivanhoe - Walter Scott
Patrick Suskind - Perfume
Bernand Shlink - The Reader*
(Father and Son - Larry Brown)
She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb
Postcards - E. Annie Proulx
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (stories) - Robert Olen Butler
(Defiance - Carole Maso)
(Being Dead - Jim Crace)
(And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos, by John Berger)
Holy the Firm, Annie Dillard

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow*
The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus
The Last of the Just by Andre Schwartz-Bart*
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Herzog by Saul Bellow

War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy*
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott*
Anton Chekhov's Short Stories - Anton Chekhov
Roughing It - Mark Twain
A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. LeGuin
(The Mistress of Spices - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni)
The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyesvki*
Grendel - John Gardner
A River Runs Through It and other stories - Norman Maclean
(The Worst Journey in the World - Apsley Cherry-Garrard)

The little prince - antoine de saint-exupéry
Lolita - vladimir nabokov*
Making Love - marius brill
(Metamagical themas - douglas hofstadter)
(Neverwhere - neil gaiman)
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
Kassandra - Christa Wolf
Alice in Wonderland
Women who Run with Wolves - Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson
View with a Grain of Sand - wislawa szymborska

Friday, May 12, 2006

There was a Sound like a Mocassin Dropping

Finished the 30 days/30 poems forum today. Hooray.
These were my poems from the second half:

30. Opportunity Knocked (“There was a sound like a moccasin dropping…”)
29. Paradise Found (“Paradise comes straight-up…”)
28. Index to the New Crocker Cookbook (“All the Pizza”)
27. Cape (“The wind is my little cape…”)
26. DJIA (“Monday mornings the market’s always antsy…)
25. Feng Shui (“When the bridge between east and west…”)
24. Some Mornings (“What will it be then, Sunday at six?”)
23. Your World, Lord (“Your stories, Lord.”)
22. In and Out of Character (“It was Tuesday noon…”)
21. Intimates (“Sparrows, all my sympathies.”)
20. The Monarchs (“A kingdom is coming…”)
19. George (“George came from a town…”)
18. Keeping my Cool (“They hoist an outrage to the brim …”)
17. Things my Sister Taught me (“Without factories, there’d be no clouds.”)
16. Bitten (“My thoughts now include the kisses of wild animals…”)

Some of them were real dogs. Most of them were real dogs. But a couple might make it.

My co-poets and poetesses turned out some memorable stuff. Among my favorites: Sharon Hurlbut’s “Post-it Notes From Jesus;” John Vick’s “Ode to a Coin-Operated Washing Machine;” Anne Higgins’ “Write from the Number Six;” Lisa Prince’s “To a Blonde-Haired Girl;” Keith Bris’ “Combat Medic;” David Krilivsky’s “Routine;” Susan Culver’s “Kenny at the Bus Stop;” and Lauren Finaldi’s “First Jobs.”

I do plan to do it again, maybe in mid-June. For now, I have some poems that need more attention.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

bitches and jackasses

Boy was I annoyed yesterday.
Bit of a fit, really. A tiff. A tizzy.

I’m sure you know:
There’s temper, then there’s rancor.
There’s cross, then there’s apoplectic.
There’s mad, and there’s damned mad.
There’s also bristling, which you feel
in your hair, especially in the eyelashes.

But if you’re lucky, you have a dog.
Mine had been sick and listless.
She didn’t even want her bone.
But when I got home, she gave me
the full-body wag. I got the slobber
tug-o-war toy pressed into my hand.

I’m sure you’ve been there:
Relieved, then delighted.
Glad, then damned glad.
Home from work, evening before you.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

from Stirring

What Hitched Me Here

That I worry menopause will kill me
That when I see a plane overhead I forget myself
That when you’re not there I lose the scent
That I can’t rouse the snow from its coma
That I am not smart enough to know what it is
That I lost count
That there is a struggle going on all the goddamned time
That I can’t watch the sleet turn to filth another year
That I can’t explain
That your absence is omniverous
That I have spent my life as if listening to slippers cross a bedroom
That I have distilled the nativity down to the donkey
That to love you I must allow days to lengthen
and dig my fingernails into the night


Friday, May 05, 2006

haiku for tom cruise

Actually, I don’t think Tom Cruise is nuts. I just think he’s a jerk. The site is funny, though as amusing is the creative spelling out there.
Instead of besides --> be sides
Instead of jealous --> gellous
As well as to for too, your for you’re, there for their, and a range of offences against the poor little apostrophe and comma. One commenter leaves a note insulting a previous commenter on her grammar, only to call her “uncomprehensible.” Another makes an allusion to "Dr. Jackel and Mr. Hide."

There’s even a haiku on the site contributed by a reader. I don’t remember exactly but it’s something like…

Tom Cruise is nuts
And cuckoo for coco-puffs
Tom Cruise, shut the fuck up
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