Saturday, December 30, 2006

is there such a thing as sense onomatopoeia?

I find the word obese has a kind of “sense onomatopoeia” in that it sounds like what it is. Of course I don’t mean onomatopoeia in the normal sense of evoking a sound like slurp or thump. But when you look at someone very very overweight the word just clicks. Having studied linguistics I know this is all association with little if anything objective about it. Still, maybe it’s the long O? Or maybe it’s the plosion of –bese, like something being blown up. Or when you see pictures of some poor guy who can't get out of bed and the word obese throws your mind the subconscious bridge to beast. I’m sure I’m offending half a million people. I don’t mean to. Just musing. I hesitate to do this but if you look at these pictures, you can test the idea.

Are there any other words like that? That sound like what they are? Languor is one, in my opinion, and maybe ease and glimmer. Astonish?

Friday, December 29, 2006

90 down

I finished the 30:30 poem-a-day forum at Inside the Writer's Studio. For the 3rd time. Here are the titles and random lines.

30. Year-End: There’ll be no snow this year.
29. Getting Home: spaghetti, that old bastard
28. Recognition: When my time comes
27. Luggage: A woman cheats because of her father.
26. Ghazal of the Honed Knife: Left hand the usher, right hand the groom of her.
25. Bitterness: Now I don’t feel one way or the other.
24. What Does it for Me: Emil Nolde
23. His Distance: I rub up against it.
22. Vidalia: Such food won’t do for cooking.
21. Poetry Overdose: One more invocation of the name Sylvia and I’ll kill myself.
20. Quaker Meeting: God will kiss the back of your head.
19. Etiquette: drinking, quite frankly, stinking bad wine.
18. All Go Down Together: How boring the toil of the meticulous
17. Who’s Who: Sarah, you never climbed that mountain.
16. Consultation: Gregor, I bring you again my lurid heft.
15. Getting There: At last I have given up thinking
14. Submit a Short Bio: His limp is the result of childhood crush
13. Little Fists: pinned to the wall by a slaughter of laughter
12. Labrador: Like God, she’s not industrious.
11. To a Young Man Listening to Techno on his Walkman: Jolt us from the hypnotist of modern pomp
10. Remedy: Brown sugar sucks the fire-bite out
9. Friday Morning: the dull ache, incapable of opening its mouth
8. NJ Transit: You never see a soul out here
7. Dwindling Commodities: It’s not the dearth which makes me bitter
6. Destiny: A man cheats because it is the first day in February.
5. Drawing Exercise: To be truly sad you have to know the right people
4. Distances: Do you imagine misery as vigourous
3. Powerhouse: so much for showbusiness
2. The Suited Accepts: Today I say yes to the mice inside me
1. Brocade Patching: Rain rubs the spoons

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

new purse

It’s the first Christmas ever that I didn’t get any books. That is freaking me out a little bit. Okay I did get a blank book. And despite my advancing age my mother bought me some Mad Libs. When everyone was out today I played a couple pages by myself. It was amusing, but I think I will be re-gifting the Mad Libs to my daughter. My mom also got me this beautiful purse made from an antique kimono. It is very very.

Elsewhere I’m the answer lady today in Very Like A Whale’s weekly questions session. Thanks for asking, Nic.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Favorite Books 2006

In response to Frank Wilson's query, these were my favorite books this year, none of them actually published this year....

Fiction: The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch

Non-fiction: Joseph Cornell's Theater of the Mind: Selected Diaries, Letters, and Files edited by john ashbery

Poetry: Homage to the Lame Wolf by Vasko Popa, translated by Charles Simic

Thursday, December 21, 2006

brown ceremony?

I don't wear lipstick, but a name can tempt me. These are all real.

The Pinks: * Byzantine Pink * Trickled Pink * Pinky Boop * Excessif Pink * Pink Legend * Pink in the Limo * VIP Pink * Pink Fiction * SOS Pink * Pinktastic * Pink Flash * Pushy Pink * Pink to the Club * Interview Pink * Milky Pink

The Reds: * Poppysilk Red * Wet Wet Red * Red Monsoon * Angel Red * Red Licorice * Red Booster * Action Red * Insolence de Rouge * Red and Sensual Java * True Blue Red * Red Interference

Flowers: Tibetan Poppy * Raining Roses * Black Violet * Violet Fashion, not Victim * Night Flower * Rose Defile * Lilac Champagne * Orchid Mist * Toasted Rose * Rose Spectrum * Wow Violet * Waterlily * Cosmic Rose * Foxglove * Larkspur

Fruit (& Vegetable): * 24K Orange * Ripe Raisin * Prune Drama Girl * Plum Plot * Cranberry Lemonade * Tangerine Burst * Plum Wet * Guava Stain * Paprika * Sugared Grapefruit * Remarkaberry * Watermelon * Persian Melon * Apple Polish

Beige & Brown like Me: * Beige Everyday * Box-Office Beige * Wicked Brown * Academy Beige * Brown Ceremony * Double Fudge * Chocolate Drizzle * Amberglass * Earthy * Iced Coffee * Cocoa Mist * Brown Image * Digital Brown

Naked, or Nearly: * Glistening Nude * Tawny Dew * Nude Renaissance * Blushing Nude * Creamy Nude * Satin Blush * Naked Splash

The Mineral: * Sunlit Copper * Amethyst Smoke * Reve d’Ore * Golden Mink * Metallic Sand * Copper Flame * Bronze Leaf * Liquid Garnet

The Alcoholic: * Dubonnet * Wine Splash * Burgundy Bronze * Plum Brandy * Golden Brandy * Merlot * Vintage Wine

The Mysterious Color: * Rubellite * Sexy Tango * Gypsy Soiree * Shy * Chinaglaze * Exalt Lilas * Regent’s Park * Rendezvous Point * Sunday Bazaar * Loopy* Mermaid * Studio Call * Surprise * Baby Kiss * Pure Posh * Touch * Gatsby * Casino * Discreet * But Officer

Sweets: * Sugar Bean * Sugared Maple * Sweet Honey * Honey Sip * Toffee

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Your Catfish Friend by Richard Brautigan

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, "It's beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,"
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, "I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them."

Brautigan is another good poet for the non-committed reader. The lovely drawing up top is by a girl named Brie Jenkins, who won a 2003 competition for best fish drawing for grades 4-6.

Monday, December 18, 2006

dead pants

It was tote Hose this morning (literally "dead pants", a German expression describing a boring time) so I went browsing through recent poems in Verse Daily’s archive. It struck me how the Black Warrior Review poems outshine most everything there over the past couple weeks.

The first one I read, Factbook, caught me with its image, then kept me afloat with its odd catalog and the idea of “manageable distance” and how it relates to the relationship in the poem. The second, Apples, invited me in with the grackles. I am a sucker for birds. But then it does more, and though I wonder about the somewhat heavy poetry of “I would say bone-light,” and “I would call it wing-sharp,” the weird departure of the third segment blew me away. Thank you. I also liked the voice and stage of the last one, Fisher King. It's buoyant, and has a nice peppery vocabulary.

These were refreshing compared with some of the other recent entries, some by name poets, which burdened me with the abstract gravity of “absence” at the outset, or plopped an lukewarm personification upon me in the first line.

Friday, December 15, 2006

For the Willing if Unenthusiastic

You probably know someone who generally likes poetry, but doesn’t read it much. That’s already pretty good since so many dislike it, are afraid of it or feel alienated by it, or think it’s either all flowers or funerals. It’s true that sitting down to read poetry is an investment of time and concentration and unless the reader walks away satisfied, next time he may just turn on the tv instead.

But there are some poets who appeal in different ways to lukewarm readers. Here are the ones I can come up with. Any other suggestions? (Why can’t I come up with any women here? One might consider Mary Oliver, who's quite accessible, but whether you like her or not you have to admit she is “poetic” in a way that may turn some readers off. Forget Dickinson, forget Plath, forget Olena Davis and Jorie Graham, forget Brock-Broido. . . Ok, I thought of one: Jane Kenyon.)

Edward Lear: Most people read limericks and "The Owl and the Pussycat" and hopefully "The Akond of Swat" as children. I once had friends pass this book around and read limericks at a little birthday gathering (for me) in my office. They enjoyed it. Sincerely.

There was an old Person of Chester,
Whom several small children did pester;
They threw some large stones, which broke most of his bones,
And displeased that old person of Chester.

Charles Bukowski: Funny, raunchy, real life. At least somebody’s real life. Bukowski looks with humor and honesty at ordinary situations. I would advise against reading too much in one sitting, but it’s refreshing in doses. Here's one.

Charles Simic: Surreal and funny, and not unsophisticated. Weird images, personification of the inanimate (“here come my night thoughts on crutches”), and unexpected dialogue. For the unenthusiastic, I’d stay away from his book of prose poems The World Doesn't End, though it’s excellent, and go with any other collection. Here’s the beginning of “Late Call:”

A message for you,
Mouse turd:

You double-crossed us.
You were supposed to get yourself
For the sake of Truth…

Who, me?

Russell Edson: You’d think if someone were insecure with poetry they would be turned off by prose poems. Well, don’t call them ”prose poems.” Just say, I got you this book of weird bedtime stories. I keep “A Chair” framed in a collage near my desk, but if you want an example of an Edson poem with a little more action, try “Fire is not a Nice Guest,” which begins -
I had charge of an insane asylum, as I was insane. A fire came, which got hungry; so I said you may eat a log, but do not go upstaris and eat a dementia praecox. I said, insane people, go into the atic while a fire eats a kitchen chair for breakfast. But fire wanted a kitchen curtain. . .”

Ted Kooser: Accessible, unpretentious language with a positive vibe and democratic appeal. Here are some poems.

Haiku: Haiku are not “hard to get” and are so short they wouldn’t scare anyone away. You don’t get a few lines into them and start wondering what the hell it’s all about or rolling your eyes at the $100 words. I recommend The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson & Issa. Here’s a Basho:

it’s not like anything
they compare it to –
the summer moon.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

what about couples in matching clothing

How come you don’t understand when I’m talking when I’m talking?
If I say I ain’t going to Denny's, I ain’t going to Denny's.
Who you calling an idiot, idiot?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

minor saint

My poem, In the Voice of a Minor Saint, is up at Kaleidowhirl.

is putting your hand close

to your face the secret to looking smart, thoughtful, and poetic?

Friday, December 08, 2006

good clean fun

I dreamed a little man in suspenders appeared at my door with a flyer announcing that everything assumed unsafe and unhealthy is actually fine. All those warnings are a government plot, he said. Just enjoy yourself.

Entering a construction site without a hard hat? No worries!

Smoking two packs a day? Absolutely fine!

SMSing on my cell phone while driving? Go ahead!

Binge drinking? Pure fun!

Using combustible substances in unventilated areas?

Unsafe sex? An oxymoron!

Trans-fats? Delicious!

Drinking llama blood? Null problemo!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

bald-headed woman

It always made me bristle when people sang along to songs and got the lyrics wrong. (Then I married an Italian.) So I found this site of misunderstood lyrics really funny. Some of the entries are clearly made up, but many are hilarious. Here’s a little sampling.

Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clear Water Revival
There’s a bad moon on the rise -->
There’s a bathroom on the right.

Looks like we’re in for nasty weather. -->
Looks like we’re in for mashed potatoes.

Ballad of a Thin Man
– Bob Dylan
Not a mean bone in his body -->
Not a meatball in his body.

Beast of Burden – Rolling Stones
I’ll never be your beast of burden. -->
I’ll never be your bee, Roberta.

Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Surely the mother of lyrical misunderstandings, at least that one line. It’s “The kid is not my son,” but has been understood as “the chin is not my son,” “the thing is not my son,” “the chair is not my son,” and “he’s a jealous rabbi’s son.”

One woman was 7 when the song came out and heard:
Village cheese is not my lover.

And someone claims to have misunderstood this:
For forty days and for forty nights,
Law was on my side
But who can tell when she's in demand,
Her schemes and plans
Cause we danced on the floor in a round

As this:
For forty days and for forty nights
I was on the slab
I flew in sandwiches from Japan
Of steaming lamb curried ants
On the floor In the ground

Cripple Creek Ferry – Neil Young
Hey, hey Cripple Creek ferry -->
Hey, hey purple Greek fairy

Magical Mystery Tour - Beatles
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour! -->
Shut up, shut up for the mystery tour!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Stevie Wonder
Take your pick here:
Science healed the liver, I’m yours!
Five cents a minute, I’m yours!

Rock the Casbah - Clash
He thinks it's not Kosher
Fundamentally he can't take it. -->

This is not Kosher!
For the Mental Retardation!

Brick House – Commodores
She’s a brick, ouch!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Poetry Presents!

I’m sure you’re all wondering what kind of holiday presents you can get this year for your poetry-loving friends. Besides books, I mean. I bought a beautiful messenger bag for my sister for Christmas at Etsy, and while I was there, I saw a bunch of good poetry gifts. So...

You know someone who adores Anne Sexton? The pendant might work. Also check out this almost scary Tombstone Box with Sexton’s “The Truth the Dead Know” engraved on it. I am still getting over that.

You got a little baby? Lucky you. How’s about this Owl & Pussycat onesie?

I have mentioned Reckon’s Etsy shop before with its plethora of t-shirts, totes and pillows featuring folks like ee cummings, allen ginsberg, neruda, bukowski, etc und so weiter.

Edgar Allen Poe has inspired a number of artists – with this very cool candle, for example, and this necklace.

Really feeding the crafty mind engine is Emily Dickinson. And if you don’t like Emily Dickinson there is something wrong with you. I mean, seriously wrong. How about this formal looking pendant, or this collage?

Know somebody who can’t get enough of Sylvia Plath? Seems to be going around.


Anne Carson, for goodness’ sake?

You could also just go with bookmarks.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What You Might Find in Leo Tolstoy


Saturday, December 02, 2006


You know, I’ve always admired this book – its bookness, its rectangularity. Dear Mother of God… so many pages. Within this jacket lie mittens, scarves, snow and mohair. Is that tobacco smoke I smell? Why, here’s the hope I lost in 1975! The trees milled to make this book surely went down singing like divas. There’s something contagious in all this paper, the way its heft surrenders to my hands. Holding it, I fill with this book’s –ishness.
So, what was the plot again? This wasn’t the one with the train station, was it? Ach, hold on a second, how does this end?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bubble and Squeak is Made with Cabbage

Got an acceptance from Stirring this afternoon and my poem, Bubble and Squeak, is already up. Check out the issue, and I'm sure you want to know what the hell Bubble and Squeak is.

Also got a rejection from Mustachioed. It’s an interesting newish ezine – good poems and artwork. Their third issue just came out, so check that out, too. I see one of my favorite discoveries in there, Joseph Bradshaw.

In other new zine news, Umbrella has just debuted with Rob M. as feature poet. Other lovelies in there, too.
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