Wednesday, February 28, 2007

february made me shiver

Hoped to submit some poems today but too little time to mull it over.
* * *

Dinner with company folks tonight. A rare thing though I guess not rare enough.
* * *

Of course I want to write better poems. I also want to read better poems.
* * *

Embrace the marvelous, folks!
* * *

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

drum roll

I’d like to thank bedthings.
I’d like to thank good manners.
I’d like to thank pasta with approximate cooking times.
I’d like to thank law.
I’d like to thank the IBEW.
I’d like to thank ee cummings.
I’d like to thank drinks on the house.
I’d like to thank my sister's early fashion advice.
I’d like to thank the biggest dictionary.
I’d like to thank Volvo.
I’d like to thank winter for Christmas.
I’d like to thank these scissors.
I’d like to thank pizza delivery.
I’d like to thank free public restrooms.
I’d like to thank eat your heart out.
I’d like to thank toys without batteries.
I’d like to thank Robert Mondavi.
My mom, too. My God!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

i love the great indoors

I think I got too much fresh air today. We went to the Nidda river which has a big park area mostly for dogs. It was wet and windy, kind of nice but also a bit insane. I slipped on my ass and it still hurts. I sang a Yoko Ono song for Luisa and we agreed it was bad. But worse is this fresh-air headache. When we got home I took a shower with my pants under me in the tub since the back was mud-crusted from hem to waistband and Carlo starts calling what’s wrong with the dog what’s wrong with the dog and the dog is going crazy gnawing at her paws spinning in circles scratching at rugs rags couches and blankets. So with my hair soaking wet I take her out to see if maybe she has to shit or croak or whatever but no she just wants to lose her mind and I don't think it's my Yoko Ono imitation.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

sitting in the kitchen

this morning shortly after 9.30, I finished The Gulag Archipelago!

And it is a horrific story, full of despair and disgust. Still, there are moments of nobility and brotherhood that assure you the human race is sometimes capable of heroism, and doesn't always collapse with fear, denial of the conscience, power mongering and greed.

in case you forgot.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Did you ever get a rejection you were so sorry to get that you hardly got beyond the second sentence (which couched the news)? Then you flew over the rest, and rapidly scratched the submission from your list of those outstanding?

Then, maybe four months later, or five, or a whole year, you went back and read the letter again, and realized it was in no way harsh, and maybe even kind?

And did you feel like an oaf, or an egomaniac, or a pair of idiot mittens?

And was that worse than the humiliation you felt for being rejected in the first place?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I spent yesterday evening finally reading some of Best American Poetry 2006, which I bought last fall. And this morning first thing I did was order two books by foreign poets. I guess it is kind of a statement, although I didn’t connect the two at first.

I don’t mean to be snarky – I enjoyed a number of poems in BAP. I read more today. Of those (about 40 of the 75), my favorites were, in order

Joy Katz’s “Just a Second Ago”
Mark Pawlak’s “The Sharper the Berry”
Christian Hawkey’s “Hour”
Megan Gannon’s “List of First Lines”
James Tate’s “The Loser”
Vijay Seshadri’s “Memoir”
Stephen Dobyns’ “Toward Some Bright Moment”

There were a number of poems I felt lukewarm about. For example, the Charles Simic and Franz Wright were in no way outstanding, though they are two of my favorite poets. Simic relies on image in his poetry, and I found the final image of “House of Cards” anti-climatic. I also felt that, though Franz Wright spends his life writing the same poem over and over (and I like that poem), the version in bap 2007 wasn’t that strong.

There were some that left me shaking my head like a pharisee. The “Briefcase of Sorrow” poem, for example, seemed gimmicky. And the Ilya Bernstein poem “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” didn’t do anything for me but give me a “so what?” kind of feeling.

I would really like to hear what folks thought about individual poems in this volume.

What I ordered:
Vanishing Lung Syndrome by Miroslav Holub
Night Mail by Novica Tadic

These are both part of the Field Translation Series, which is without exaggeration a service to mankind.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I’ve been reading about the controversy surrounding the children’s book “The Higher Power of Lucky,” which just won a Newbery Medal. Some librarians are upset about the use of the word “scrotum” on the first page, where the protagonist hears the word used when a character describes a snake biting his dog on the scrotum.

Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much,” the book says. “It sounded medical and secret, but also important.”

Heck! I thought that was a great sound impression of the word. And scrotum isn’t a “bad word” – it’s the name of a body part. How can you not talk about parts of the body with kids? It’s not like the author chose “balls” or "the family jewels.” The book, by the way, is for grades 4-6, ie ages 9-11. I’m kinda thinking they can handle it.

More dangerous are those truly repulsive words like nostril, armpit or buttock. The word gland has also always grossed me out, and I insist we protect children from it. It threatens to destroy society.

Monday, February 12, 2007

your green apples leave me bitter

This weekend I had two poems accepted by Ghoti Flight and From the Shelves of a French Supermarkets. Four others were taken by FriGG The Persian’s Reach, From Train 21, Station Evangel and so what’s it like living in Germany.

I was glad of it. I wrote The Persian’s Reach some time ago and am fond of it (surprise!) but it is a cat poem and that’s a hard sell. At the same time it’s about longing for the unattainable, ending -
...will the dark, too,
fly over?

Also American Poetry Journal took Europa, which begins -
your green apples leave me bitter.

I had to pull Europa and French Supermarkets from Diner, which wrote back to decline the other three poems I'd submitted. I can’t complain, though I would have liked a free copy of Diner. Smile.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

There's a poem in there somewhere

My favorite Bushism: Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat.

I laugh every time. It's amazing.

Friday, February 09, 2007

book of right-on

it happened again. I'm listening to music and the husband asks "who's that, yoko ono?" And it's joanna newsom.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

late-blooming resolutions

1. clobber the tyrants.
2. don't take any shit.
3. write what you want.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I woke in the gloaming, brooding

I must admit today is an especially big hate-myself day. Luckily my books arrived. I got Elaine Equi's Surface Tension & Martin Sorescu's Hands Tied Behind My Back. This was the Equi poem I opened to:

When The Moon Is Full
It's not unusual
for the face
to fill with liquid
or the hair
carelessly pinned
to grow wet.
When the moon is full
we often dream
that the dead
are back among us
and dying again.

Then I wrote that letter to the Academy of American Poets asking why Elaine Equi doesn't have her own page on the site. I tried hard not to sound like a dope. I think I avoided saying things like "Equi kicks ass," and "In a fight, she'd beat you bad." I'll let you know what they say, or don't.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

waiting for ellen

locust –-> custard --> retard –-> ardvark --> art-card –-> cardomom
--> mommy –-> myannmar --> marvel –-> velcro --> crocus –-> locust


It bugs me when in one of the short bios that appear after a poem, the poet seems to list every journal and magazine that ever published them. I read a bio the other day where the poet listed 14 publishing credits. (Then also she listed her degrees, fellowships and awards.) This was an ezine, a good one, a monthly with five or six other poets in the issue. Still. It's not like you're applying for a job. Or accepting the Nobel prize. I felt she was daring me not to like her poem, which I didn't have any more time to read.

In other news, I'm still reading The Gulag Archipelago. It's long.
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