Wednesday, August 30, 2006

unknown to exaggerate

dear charles simic,

i love you. i love your name.
i love your hair. i love your trousers.
do you even have hair?
and do you have a glottal stop?
i'll love that, too.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Sara Kearns tagged me into this book blog. I think just about everybody has given it a go... and it's a nice reminiscence...

Name a book(s) that changed your life.
Lao Tzu “Tao te Ching”
Chuang Tzu “Basic Writings”
Freud’s “The Future of an Illusion”
Freud’s “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”
Freud’s “Totem and Taboo”

“We may be inclined to suppose that savage and half-savage races are guilty of uninhibited and ruthless cruelty toward their enemies. We shall be greatly interested to learn, then, that even in their case the killing of a man is governed by a number of observances which are included among the usages of taboo. These observance fall easily into four groups. They demand (1) the appeasement of the slain enemy, (2) restrictions upon the slayer, (3) acts of expiation and purifcation by him and (4) certain ceremonial observances.”

Of course there are more.

What books have you read more than once?

Aside from poetry books, which are meant to be read over and over, I’ve read at least twice JD Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” W.Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage” and Aldous Huxley’s “The Doors of Perception.”

“I was way early when I got there, so I just sat down on one of those leather couches right near the clock in the lobby and watched the girls. A lot of schools were home for vacation already, and there were about a million girls sitting and standing around waiting for their dates to show up. Girls with their legs crossed, girls with their legs not crossed, girls with terrific legs, girls with lousy legs, girls that looked like swell girls, girls that looked like they’d be bitches if you knew them. It was real nice sightseeing, if you know what I mean. In a way, it was sort of depressing, too, because you kept wondering what the hell would happen to all of them. When they got out of school and college, I mean. You figured most of them would probably marry dopey guys. Guys that always talk about how many miles they get to a gallon in their goddam cars. Guys that get sore and childish as hell if you beat them at golf, or even just some stupid game like ping-pong. Guys that are very mean. Guys that never read books. Guys that are very boring – But I have to be careful about that. I mean about calling certain guys bores. I don’t understand boring guys. I really don’t.”

Which book would you want on a desert island?

If I have to choose one, an unabridged English dictionary.

sus'lik n. (Russ.)--1. a small gopher or ground squirrel, Spermothilis citilis, of north-central Eurasia; a spermopile. 2. its mottled, grayish-brown fur.

Name a book that made you laugh.

“A Confederacy of Dunces.”

“Who took you off the streets and gave you a job when the cops was about to lock you up for vagrancy? You might think about that sometime when you’re goofing off behind them goddam glasses.”
“Goofin off? Shit. Goofin off ain cleanin up this mother-fucking cathouse. They somebody in her sweepin and moppin up all the shit you po, stupor customer drippin on the flo. I feel sorry for them po peoples comin in here thinkin they gonn have theirself some fun.”

Name a book that made you cry.

Mr Ives Christmas,” by Oscar Hijuelos. It wasn’t a great book, but it was tender.

“With eyes that invited pity and a sad smile, Ives was a fine example of “a poor poor thing.” On one of those visitors’ days, around Christmas, he found himself standing before a well-dressed, middle-aged gentleman, whose own eyes were sad –the older Mr. Ives- who placed his warm hand on the boy’s face and kneeling before the lad, took a long, long look, making his decision.”

I wish I had written?

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” by Annie Dillard.
or “The Da Vin$i Code.”

“I want out of this still air. What street-corner vendor wound the key on the backs of tin soldiers and abandoned them to the sidewalk, and crashings over the curb? Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal, who laid a bullock on a woodpile and egged Baal to consume it: “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talkig, or he is pursuing , or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” Cry aloud. It is the fixed that horrifies us.”

I wish had been written?
The one about how Israel came to live with the Arab world in relative peace, how global warming was halted, how all people decided nuclear weapons were insane, how a down-and-out doctor found a cure for cancer, you know, that kind of fantasy book.

I wish had never been written?
There’s a lot of inconsequential bullshit out there clogging the population’s brains. Many many “self-help” books, the fucking chicken soup series, the 5 guys you meet in Heaven, Tuesdays with Moron, all that stuff.

I'm currently reading?
The dictionary. The last “reading book” I read was John Banville’s “Athena,” which was excellent.

I've been meaning to read?
“John Henry Days” by Colson Whitehead, which my stepbrother gave me a couple years ago at least.

Oh, and my father’s last book.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Goodnight Mood

In the great green room

There was a cigarette

And a vinyl stool

And the body of –

A mother getting over a mood

Thursday, August 24, 2006


There are some great t-shirts and such at Reckon's shop over at Etsy. Besides cummings he's also got - anne sexton, robert creely, sylvia plath, allen ginsberg, wm. blake, dylan, leonard cohen, pablo neruda, gertrude stein, and a lot of other art, music and literature figures. i've spent hundreds of my imaginery money at etsy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cell Phone Etiquette 101

I’m at the Acme.
I’m on the train.
I’m at Stonehenge.
I’m stuck in February.
I’m at the bottom of the ocean.
I’m under the thumb of a bluebird.
I’m halfway through Proust.
I’m in my pajamas.
I’m in the middle of my animal sacrifice,
call later.

thanks to s.ward for the photo

Monday, August 21, 2006

I can't stop washing my hair

The suspect in the child murder case, K., slept exactly 7 hours and 14 minutes Sunday night in an LA jail, where the low overnight was 63 degrees. Northwest winds were calm. K.’s cell is 6 x 9 feet, with a standard metal bed and a porcelain toilet flushable from inside the cell. Further investigation is needed to ascertain the presence of a sink. For this reason we do not know if K. brushed his teeth in his cell or what brand of toothpaste he chooses. K. appeared rested upon waking. The quality of his sleep was judged “adequate” by guards who wished to remain anonymous. Psychologists report that K. sleeps in fetal position, which they consider intriguing but not incriminating. Sitting on the edge of his 5.5-inch-thick mattress, K. was observed to yawn twice in English. Going to the lidless toilet, he commenced to take a shit expected to last for months. His breakfast arrived in the meantime, consisting of blah blah fat blah crap blah spam blah mash and blah. More later.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

John Banville's "Athena"

The narrator was not sympathetic, and he was presumptuous. He begins by bemoaning his loss and I'm supposed to care already? I couldn't figure out the plot. I had to go back and re-read passages to check I hadn’t missed something. I hadn’t. Still, the language was gorgeous, such sentences! And there were funny moments, and 2 or 3 characters I enjoyed hearing about. But the sadness was not sad. Mostly the sadness was maudlin and posed. The joy could hardly be called that. It was trying too hard. Soon I was thinking about that documentary on koala bears we saw recently… how cute they were… or the laundry… global warming. I began to skip whole paragraphs, just scanning for key words. I found out the book is part of a trilogy or something and I was supposed to read another first – yeah, good luck. I was only plugging away because of the prose, which was sublime. Not plugging away without complaint, of course. But things eventually picked up, if not in an entirely healthy way. The puzzle is solved at the end. And it all turns out to be fascinating. And the sadness is not sadness and the joy is not joy because overall the book is preoccupied with authenticity. It was marvelous!

But read the other book(s) first.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What is the world coming to

Dear Editors,

I’m writing to express my concern about your rejection of my poem “This Leaf Breeds Safekeeping.” I think you are making a big mistake.

It occurs to me that you have missed the premise of my poem completely. Morgan, the speaker, is not a florist – she just dreams she is. In fact she is an avocado pit propped up to grow in a glass of water. That should help explain the “toothpick bit” you refer to. I thought it was obvious!

Further, the segment in the past tense is a Flashback. That’s why it’s in the past tense! The rest of the poem is in the present tense.

You will be glad to know my poem is still available. I have changed the title to “Tooth for a Tooth,” so you may want to reconsider your tart rejection.

Thank you for your time. I hope this helps.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Traveling with my Mother in France

German words my mother knows: Müsli, danke, Gesundheit, Wein, weiss, Weisswein, Brot

French words my mother knows: ballet

Friday, August 11, 2006

Some Similes

Have I mentioned that I love Norman Dubie? A year ago I’d never heard of him. Now, for months, the crowd inside me has been going mad. Among his strengths is his similes. I know a lot of critics don’t like similes. It’s cooler to be into metaphors, more sophisticated, etc. But I might love similes more. I even love a bunch of them thrown unrelated into one poem together á la Anne Sexton. Norman Dubie doesn’t do it that way though. Here are some of his, line breaks ignored:

“He approaches them like a man falling through crust in a snow field.” (Elegies For the Ocher Deer)

“It falls stiff like a drunk, like a drunk falling onto a whore.” (After Three Photographs of Brassai - describing a pencil)

“The first Wednesday after the peace with Germany was like a new brook under the rain, which only rain could make.” (Anima Poeta)

“Milk coming like white hairpins from her breast.” (Pastoral)

“Her breasts filled the window like a mouth.” (The Obscure)

“They are all wired out like flowers.” (Trees of Madame Blavatsky)

“The geese broke from the shadows like handkerchiefs out of the sleeves of black dresses at a burial.” (Monologue of Two Moons, Nudes with Crests)

“The gas jets are on: they are like fountains of the best water.” (Monologue of Two Moons)

“Black water ran off her dress like a lowered hem.” (The Dun Cow and the Hag)

“A trickle of blood at the knuckle of the thumb like the single red thread through the lace hood and jesses of the Medici falcons.” (Groom Falconer)

“The earth like a crust of bread absorbed them.” (The Saints of Negativity)

Got any good similes? I’d love to hear them.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

been searching a to c

What I Sought

affected speech - airport detector wand - anais nin -
arena - ashberry dong with the luminous nose -
athena goddess of - average euro dollar rate 2005

barrow street - basf - beth ann fennelly -
biblical animals - bette davis - bmi rechner -
bonnie and clyde - books about joseph cornell

california barrio - california stereotypes -
candy dots - candy names - carolyn creedon -
cherries nutritional value - crozon, france

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Commute music

Shine a Light – Rolling Stones
Eisler on the Go – Billy Bragg & Wilco
Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinios – Sufjan Stevens
Couldn’t Cause me Harm – Beth Orton

Black&White World – Elvis Costello
Travellin’ on for Jesus – Kate & Anna McGarrible
A Short Reprise for Mary Todd, Who Went Insane but for Very Good Reasons – Sufjan Stevens
Erie Canal – Bruce Springsteen version
Birds & Ships – Billy Bragg & Wilco (& Natalie Merchant)
Sweet Jane - Velvet Underground
Misstra Know It All – Stevie Wonder
If I was Your Girlfriend - Prince
The Boat Family – The Roches

A colleague at my office thought I would like his Sufjan Stevens Album “Illinoise,” and he was right. It’s mostly wonderful. Boyish voice kind of like Jeff Tweedy or Art Garfunkel but more straight-forward. Good music, good lyrics. Dreamy in places. Particular.

At the same time he lent me the eponymous CD "Sophie Auster", daugher of Paul, singing French surrealist poems. Now, I love French surrealist poetry, and I like Paul Auster’s fiction and the life-justifying job he did putting together the Random House Anthology of 20th Century French Poetry, but his daughter is not a good singer, either in tone or in timing. I was sorry not to like her, but so it is.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Time to report that my hair has reached that stage. You know, it has gone to certain lengths. Already a month ago it was screaming “Cut me! Insert scissors!” Now it just says Sad. It just says Slump, and No goddamned way! It has birthed a new beast: the leonine mouse. I’m not sure yet if that’s its name... maybe mousoline lion?

The truth is I don’t believe in the good haircut. The truth is I didn’t have the money before vacation to go through with it. When I went to cheapo, a sign said “closed for renovation” with the dubious caveat of “for YOU, valued customer.” How can it be closed for ME when I am standing at the door? Before I began looking like a reject weeping at the window of a darkened shop, I scurried off. This, I suspect, is when the mouse quality took root.

My hair also says Defeat. It says Bring the fingers. Mostly it speaks an unknown language.

My hair is not long it is not short. My hair is not brown it is not blonde. My bangs hang as notbangs. My hair wants to ponytail but won’t. Neither will it do pigtails, usually reserved for moments of hilarity. When I attempt the ponytail, two wispy quotation marks enclose the nape of my neck. As if to say Kick me.
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