Friday, March 30, 2007

my day off

1. In the back, the bushes are high and wild as a green delirium. A boy -my boy- comes with garden shears and cuts a tear-shaped doorway through them, allowing a view of the neighbor’s driveway.

2. On a sunny day, rainclouds appear. More preposterous things have happened. The boy goes into hiding.

3. I receive a rejection from Cutbank, a surprise. Not the rejection. But the fact that they responded 1 year and 4 months after my submission (12/05). That’s the second longest response I’ve ever waited out.

4. I have been wrong about many things. For example, California. Also, Norman Mailer!

5. I’m letting garden shears stand for everything I believe in.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sometimes I miss my country

I put two liters of milk in my cart
so they can keep each other company
so they can keep each other cool
so they won’t feel alone
so they’ll have someone
to talk to about the past
when we leave the store.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The ancient practice of placement and arrangement to achieve harmony

I have a poem - "Feng Shui"- in the new, and final, Caffeine Destiny, one of my favorite ezines.

Monday, March 26, 2007

monday resolutions

1. Moisturize your feet.
2. Visualize the future.
3. Rock the Casbah.


Little world, your afternoons
are losing their edge, wallowing
off in the wheat of long siestas.
How like hallucination, the way
the sun falls on my flaws.
I can’t keep up, trundling down
the moving sidewalk of lawns,
mown beyond comprehension.
The handrail sings; conundrums
come out to tango at random.

Sweet little lack of crispness –
paradise may be built in a day
but the rest takes time. Console
yourself: at least the trees
put up their parasols; at least
the orchards you wear as hair
surrender those damn apples.
World, I forgive the lack of focus.
I know the knob of sun will turn;
even here, I trust clarity
to honor our appointment.

from Pebble Lake Review

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007


Frankly, my interest in haiku pretty much ends in 1827, when Japanese master Issa dies. Ok, I've liked this or that, but haiku does often seem to be just a blow-hole of blah. Don't it?

Resolutions on Monday, confessions on Friday.

Confession 2: When I started submitting, I made the mistake of cluttering our world with more haiku. How godhonest can I get?

bare lightbulb at dusk
resistance is futile,
you stupid moths

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On Monday I made my weekly resolution to avoid the vulgar. To avoid the vulgar and all vulgarity. To avoid in fact anything beginning with “vul-,“ be in the vulva, the vulnerable or vultures, because particularly on Mondays everything with the vul- prefix grosses me out.

But I digress. I ask you: what is worse than being an American abroad and being confronted with vulgar American tourists? Quite consciously and apparently proud vulgar American tourists? I tell you: nearly nothing is worse.

Four Americans get on the train. I guess they’re 18. They’re swigging away at some alco-pops that look like green beer, and planning their week loudly, apparently for the benefit of everyone who delights in the American accent. In the American accent and vulgarity. Their week is going to consist of drinking as much as motherfucking possible. And mac and cheese. And why can’t you buy it in a box in motherfucking Germany? And did you hear about the two guys from Lancaster who dug up the dead body and decided to fuck it? Did you wonder if the body was still warm? Or if it was a young body? Did you ask yourself how long had it been buried? Or where they bought the condoms before they set to it? Har har!

But I digress. I must urgently refresh my resolution eschewing vulgarity, and it's only Thursday. I don’t think getting drunk in public is cool, especially in a foreign country, no matter if you are truly unintelligent or just think it's cool to be stupid. If you are really that stupid you should be in an assisted living home. Vulgarity is not funny or cool, and being regular joe asshole is not cool. And being American is not inherently cool. Um, at all.

I felt like I was in that scene with the frat boys in Borat, except there was no Borat, and no movie camera goading them on.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

ooooh that smell

I've been writing a poem in praise of used books. I think it's coming along after stewing awhile, but the last time I posted it a reader suggested mentioning what used books smell like. That's a great idea, so I set about sniffing all the used books in the house to try to describe the smell.

Carlo: Are you reading that Maigret mystery?
Me: No, I'm smelling it.

In the meantime, someone has created a cologne that smells of books. Mamma mia. I do love the smell but can't imagine it wafting from someone's nape and wrists.

"Darling, you smell like a good mystery tonight!"
"Darling, how strongly you exude the must of the 18th century!"

Check out the perfume brewer's whole shop. It is inspired!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

They Said It Couldn't Happen

When I jump also my nose jumps.
When I sneeze also my arms and knees are sneezing.
I'm a collective noun.
They said my blood could not fly
but jumping from the swing on the uptick
my blood goes flying smack into the woodchips with me.
It’s no miracle. I don’t even need determination.
Put that in your hoity-toit and smoke it.

Friday, March 16, 2007

what do i have to do

to get a goddamned pack of matches in this country? They don’t sell them at the supermarket (like they’re goddamned contraband or something). I have to go to the tobacco shop. So I go to the tobacco shop, and the guy says he doesn’t have any “today.” Today, my ass! Where are the matches?

bombproof your horse

Last week the shortlist of contestants in the Oddest Book Title of the Year award came out. The books are a) How Green Were the Nazis?; b) Di Mascio’s Delicious Ice Cream: Di Mascio of Coventry: An Ice Cream Company of Repute, with an Interesting and Varied Fleet of Ice Cream Vans; c) The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification; c) Tatooed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Daghestan; e) Proceedings of the 18th Annual Seaweed Symposium; and e) Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence.

You can vote in a poll for your favorite here.

Here are the previous winners. You got a favourite? I think mine is “Living with Crazy Buttocks,” but “The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling” seems an essential read.

Diagram Prize Winners
• 2005 People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It
• 2004 Bombproof Your Horse
• 2003 The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories
• 2002 Living with Crazy Buttocks
• 2001 Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service
• 2000 High Performance Stiffened Structures
• 1999 Weeds in a Changing World
• 1998 Development in Dairy Cow Breeding and Management: and New Opportunities to Widen the Uses of Straw
• 1997 The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition
• 1996 Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers
• 1995 Reusing Old Graves
• 1994 Highlights in the History of Concrete
• 1993 American Bottom Archaeology
• 1992 How to Avoid Huge Ships
• 1990 Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual
• 1989 How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art
• 1988 Versailles: The View from Sweden
• 1986 Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality
• 1985 Natural Bust Enlargement with Total Power: How to Increase the other 90% of Your Mind to Increase the Size of Your Breasts
• 1984 The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today
• 1983 The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling

Thursday, March 15, 2007

From the lake came the increasingly terrific sound of wrenching and ramming and slamming

When I got sick last week and spent a lot of time in bed I started reading Housekeeping. It’s very good – good prose, good plot. I love the sense of place and the atmosphere of the book – the house, the town and the lake.

Robinson is wonderful with onomatopoeia. You’d be surprised at all the sounds a lake can make, or at least evoke. She also makes a character of water, which floods the town and the characters’ house. Interesting is how the water can express something of the characters.

Sylvie pushed at the water with the side of her foot. A ribbed circle spread to the four walls and the curves of its four sides rebounded, interpenetrating, and the orderly ranks of light swept and swung about the room. Lucille stomped with her feet until the water sloshed against the walls like water carried in a bucket. There were sounds of dull consussion from the kitchen….

One thing that doesn’t sit right is the cover. It’s an airy shot of an elevated railroad trestle heading into bright foggy sky. It’s a nice photograph, but I don’t feel it goes well with this book, which is sodden, earthly and leaf brown. I looked back at the previous covers of the book and saw some I thought more appropriate – one with a rocker on a porch, another of a heavy framed window, one simply with a dark house. It’s funny how we sometimes feel about the covers of books. Good skin, bad skin.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

a bit stupified

What do you think when a publication includes poems and/or stories by its own editors? I saw this today an online zine I like (which has rejected me twice). It surprised me. I think it’s a way bad policy. What are they thinking? Can there be a good reason?

In 2004, when I first started submitting, I had four poems accepted at an ezine. Months went by, along with two new issues, and my poems didn’t appear. I wrote to the editor to ask if something was wrong and he’d misplaced the poems – could I re-send them. So I did. I began waiting again and what do you know but the new issue comes out, without my poems, but with his. It was too much a mix of insult with bravado for me, so I withdrew them. It would be one thing to say, jeepers! sorry, there wasn’t room in the issue. But when the editor’s own poems show up, it’s slightly outrageous.

I love mixing strong adjectives with alleviating adverbs.

Somewhat magnificent.
Kind of great.
Slightly outrageous.
Rather comatose.
A bit stupified.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mei capilli sunt flagrantes

After the talk about Latin vs. French last night, I came out in favor of Latin. I mean, if I were going into the sixth grade and had to choose, I would choose Latin.

I kind of wish I were going into the sixth grade.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I have had the worst couple mornings at work. Stress until my chest burns. That can’t be good. This morning I nearly signed up for the Daily Om. I went to the site and tried to calm down. I appreciate the spirit of the place, but don’t think I could take it on a daily basis. Then I took half a Xanax. laugh.

To balance things out, I had some good news poetry wise over the past days. First, my poem “Vestment” (on the morning of my ruin) was accepted at Blood Orange.

Then “Infirmary” (the glass holding rose water is tinged pink) was accepted for In Posse’s “Poetry and the Body” issue.

Then Caffeine Destiny took “Feng Shui” (when the bridge between east and evening/lies down to die). Turned out it was accepted in November, but I never got word. When I wrote to withdraw a poem and ask after the others, the editor, Susan Denning, wrote back saying she’d sent an email months ago. And all this time & I didn’t know how lucky I was. I will think of this when I am ready to jump out the window.

I also got a rejection from upstreet, but oh well.

Tonight I attend a talk at my daughter’s school on the “second foreign language.” In the fifth grade, everyone has to learn English (“1st foreign language”). Next year they start another – either Latin or French. I would rather Luisa took French, but she and her father want Latin. So it looks like I will soon be learning Latin.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I was reading about the tornado that hit Georgia and Alabama and the headline read "Tornado Terrorizes Alabama Town." I hate that headline. It sounds like a gunman, a rabid dog, or a terrorist. To me, to "terrorize" implies volition. And I don’t think that works with a storm (except in poetry & then you’d better be very talented).

Not to downplay the graveness of the story. I was as sorry as anyone to learn of it. I just cringe at the verb. To terrorize and to terrify are not the same thing. “Slam," “pound” or “rip through,” though hardly original, all work better, leaving the offensive personification out.

in case you weren't

March is National Caffeine Awareness Month
National Collision Awareness Month
National Ethics Awareness Month
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month
National Poison Prevention Awareness Month
National Vulvar Health Awareness Month
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