Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dear publication,

I appreciate your trusting me to be among your readers. However, after careful review of your contents, I have decided your publication does not suit my current needs.

Please know I have been overwhelmed by dozens of high quality publications this month, and my resources are limited. I must often reject journals that have merit.

I regret the volume of publications available prevents me from responding in a more personal manner. I wish you luck in placing your product elsewhere.

Friday, April 27, 2007


In the new issue of Ghoti, I have a poem called Flight, and a small selection of imagined wine reviews that come from reading too many wine bottles with blurbs in foreign languages.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

no bad news

The good news is Stella the Storybook Dog doesn’t need to have braces. Dogs shouldn’t wear braces. They should wear hats.

Thanks to
for the collage.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


My poem Ambien is in Barrelhouse Magazine #4.

Barrelhouse is now looking for fiction and non-fiction about dive bars. In my hometown, I suppose it was the Lakeside Tavern, though it wasn't such a dive, and having gone through many owners it changed character frequently. But it never thrived, and the body of water it stood beside was more of a swamp than a lake...

Monday, April 23, 2007

jar these mountains till they fall

I started reading John Henry Days. I’m on page 24 and have a couple of prose issues, but I am trying to be big about it and continue. Mostly I find it overwritten. Too many irritating and uncomfortable adjectives. But it came highly recommended, and maybe the charm of the underlying myth can save it. We’ll see. There are raving blurbs all over it, and I’ve changed my mind before (John Banville’s Athena, for example).

Consider: He waits for one of those dull marchers to open a fanny pack, turn rigid in horror, and retrace steps to rescue the lost receipt as the wheels of their plastic luggage carve evanescent grooves in the purple carpet behind them. (The poetic "evanescent" irks here, though the sentence was already threatening to reel out of control.)

No one was going to fight him over a receipt lost on the floor, tumbleweeding from gate to gate as footfall gusts urged it to some far corner. (“Tumbleweeding” made me cringe, but the rigid horror of “footfall gusts” nearly made me forget.)

J. sits in the backseat of a car of recent vintage. (Groan.)

It is a time of checking and rechecking of clasps and buckles and latches throughout the body of the plane, an assembly of minutiae that might make a liftoff. He is always up in the air. (The character is in the plane, ok, and you may recognize up in the air as a bad pun.)

Yeager Airport, named after Brigadier General Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager, or so he reads on a well-polished bronze plaque. Chuck Yeager is a native son. No wonder he took flight. (Another amazing pun!)

I am trying to loosen up. I apologize to anyone whose experience I have ruined, and I may soon be eating my words.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

sobbing dog story

The dog’s “braces” detached and it’s my fault. I won’t know for a couple days if it’s money down the drain or if they were on long enough to work. I know dog braces sound absurd. I also thought it was a joke, but Stella’s tooth goes crooked into her gums and the vet said infections could cost more over time than braces, which so far has been 350 euros. Originally we were told 4-6 weeks. Today it’s 6 1/2, but a week ago the vet said we were only about halfway through. So I don’t know if they have to be put back in and will cost 350 euros all over again, or if it will cost less, or what. Shit. I googled “dog braces” and it seems they usually cost closer to a thousand dollars and stay in for months. Arf.

I really hate those braces. Stella hates them even more. There’s a slim metal rod that lies across the front of her mouth held by plastic caps on two teeth. She’s not supposed to chew anything and can only eat soft food. Which means bad breath. Which means the leash. Which means remove anything smaller than a basketball from the floor. I mean, this might work for lap dogs who take 3 5-minute walks a day and eat like birds but Stella is a labrador. She plays hard. She bounds like a horse. She loves balls and sticks. She'd eat like a whale if you let her. So today she picks up a stick and I yank it away and, boink, out came the braces. I really hate those braces.

Still, it’s a beautiful day and we’re invited across the street for dinner. Carlo is jogging. My boy is out boy-ing and through the window I can hear Luisa and a friend glee-screaming "NEIN!” in the next yard where they’re squirting each other with a hose.

And I finally reserved a house for July vacation. Denmark! Unfortunately, but as usual, it cost more than I wanted to spend, but Carlo talked me into it. I let him. This of course was before the freaking dog braces fell out – like two hours before. Looks nice, though, eh? I hope there are some poems in those trees.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Road Somewhat Less Traveled

Sam’s tag: Name 5 poetry collections someone may not have read "but certainly must." They should be “off the beaten track,” but needn’t have caused the earth to open and swallow you whole. I had trouble reconciling must read with need not have caused the earth to open. I thought some poets in translation might suit, like Vasko Popa and Novica Tadic, but – can you believe it – when I checked the Amazon sales ratings, they were way ahead of American great Kenneth Patchen, whose wonderful Collected Poems is only the 595,768th best seller! I was beside myself with information!

I decided the books had to have a lower rank than Patchen but not be so obscure that you can’t get a book anymore (like Ingeborg Bachman, in English anyway). I include Amazon rankings just to prove how great I am at using statistics as a crutch.

1. Living in Paradise – Pier Giorgio di Cicco (Sales rank #1,998,074): The head is a paltry matter; feed it a little, it goes / on singing just the same. / Much too much is made of it; / it goggles over a bit of/fresh wind, is perfectly astonished

2. Study for the World’s Body – David St. John (#1,217,673): The orphans of the heart must turn to thee / Byron said of Rome, though he could have meant / The way they turned to you, as easily.

3. Candy Necklace – Cal Bedient (#1,594,095): Desire, say what you want. Your oranges go soft in the bowl. / Your laughter? The squashing sound of tomatoes bursting and spitting out seeds. / Death sits up on your counter, holding a sock by its tail and displaying his beautiful white foot.

4. Selected Poems – Medbh McGuckian (#701,869): They set the whins on fire along the road. / I wonder what controls it, can the wind hold / that snake of orange motion to the hills, / away from the houses?.

5. Voice Over – Elaine Equi (#789,234): Some days I wake up so sad, / ”morbid” you would say, / and not at all grateful for the little things/heaped up in the windows / of antique stores

friday confession

ignored the obvious
freaked without reason
hoped for the opposite
indulged schadenfreude
laughed at my own jokes
missed the point
fucked with the evidence
dug up the hatchet
snitched, wheedled and binged
visualized the lurid
examined the teeth of the gift horse
fed my resentment
exaggerated the positives
exaggerated the negatives
backed down and backed out
tippled, fibbed and littered
went for the jugular

Thursday, April 19, 2007

suit of mail

My poem "Vestment" is up
at Blood Orange Review,
and I am grateful
for the poem's mention
in the editors' notes, and for
those notes themselves!

Blood Orange is open to submissions.

one argument

The argument that if everyone had a gun there'd only be two or three people dead falls on its face for me. It's like saying if every country had a nuclear bomb the world would be a safer place.

The truth is if no one had a gun in the VA Tech case, instead of "only" two or three people being dead, no one would be dead.

i seem to have lost my sense of humor. come back later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


An editor wrote to me today saying that she'd changed her mind about one of my poems, which had been rejected. That was nice. Nevertheless, the poem -Infirmary- had already been accepted by In Posse.

This was the third or fourth time this has happened to me. The twist on this one was the editor acknowledged having rejected the poem; the other times it was as if they'd never corresponded at all. Has this ever happened to you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

VA Limits Your Gun Purchases To One Per Month

Eight years ago this month I was on maternity leave and visiting the U.S. with Carlo and the kids. In those days I still agitated occasionally for a move to America, hoping Carlo would be won over by the good things about it.

One morning we took the kids over to a photographer’s to have their pictures taken for my mother. Miles was 10 months old, and Luisa nearly 3 years old. When we got back in the late morning, we turned on the tv and watched “the Columbine massacre” unfold death by death.

The rest of the trip seemed to be a blur of funerals for the children and teacher murdered at Columbine. And it was pretty much the end of my trying to convince Carlo to move to the states. Not because I thought I was wasting my breath, but because I wasn’t so sure I wanted my kids growing up in a culture sponsored by industry lobbyists.

Sometimes I can’t remember what the good things about America are. Was it the nature I loved? The friendly, open people?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I am burning poems in the backyard

We’re looking for poems from writers from Big Sky Country, Chicago,
the Plains, the South, the Boston area, the 14th arrondissement,
because these poets have nothing in common with other people;
and poets from California should only be read by citizens of California

send in those poems if you’re gay, overweight, comatose,
addicted, full-breasted, Christian and proud, ambidextrous,
a victim of discrimination,
imagined abuse or rock martyrdom

for an upcoming theme issue, bring us poems
about neil young, halloween, or ye olde Oklahoma rodeo,
coughing at breakfast, cole slaw,
or getting married for the fourth time
what is that like?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Confession

I have never read Vonnegut. Not only that, but even in the hype and tumult that follows an artist’s death, I don’t have a great desire to read him. I’m sure he was a good writer, and I have enjoyed reading a number of his quotes and opinions over the past day, as well as in the past.

But Vonnegut for me is kind of like Los Angeles. It’s probably an interesting place, but I don’t particularly want to go there. One has to make choices! Here it is mid-April and with working, mothering, writing, wifing, dog-owning and doing the mashed potato, I’ve read three books this year (Gulag Archipelago, Housekeeping and John Dollar). Of course I’ve read a lot of poetry, but rarely “by the book.”

I’m glad just to have read two books from my January “to-read” list. And in the meantime, my priorities have changed. I still want to read the Grant memoirs, but I’m skeptical of getting to it this year. Instead, I’m very keen to read The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, which my mother is reading now and then passing along, and J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello. I should also read Mary Gaitskill’s Two Girls Fat & Thin. And Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm. And I should finish Leonardo Da Vinci’s Notebooks, and finally get to Don DeLillo.

You get the picture.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How many puns does a lead sentence need?

not this many...

SHANGHAI, China (AP)-A pair of Chinese middlemen who
thought they could pull some strings to make key savings
on imported pianos have struck the wrong chord with
authorities in Shanghai, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

pull strings?
key savings?
wrong chord?


Monday, April 09, 2007

april is the coolest month

i could try to write a poem a day this month, but up to now i haven't had time. instead, as a start, i made up 30 poem titles.

Pleasure's Last Anatomy Lesson * My Bootheel's 8 o'clock Appointment

The Agony of Fawnbrown Eyeshadow * For Lack of a Sombrero

Twin Superstitions * I Tire Of Hanging Myself To Death

Scrambled Flora of Parsippany * As Smoke Enters My Mustache

The Smell of Burning Brakes * Neon Jesus

The Four Seasons' Bartender's First Wife * The Heiress's Old Hoisery

The Wild Ride of the Duchess Potato * Porcelain Ohio

Swift Mistress of Baguettes * Weariness to No Avail

Monday At 6.31 am It Was 46 Degrees * Timid Cinnamon

A Pre-programmed Fuckup of the Spanish Grammar * Argyle

The Brothel's Sad Aquarium * Buy OEM Software

ok, i still have some work to do

Sunday, April 08, 2007

on the nature of water, from da vinci's notebooks

Therefore it must be said that there are many rivers through which all the element has passed and have returned the sea to the sea many times.
And so it is now sharp and now strong, now acid and now bitter, now sweet and now thick or thin, now it is seen bringing damage or pestilence and then health or, again, poison.
And as the mirror changes with the color of its objects so, too, does the water change with the nature of the place it passes: health-giving, harmful, laxative, astringent, sulfurous, salt, sanguine, depressed, raging, angry, red, yellow, green black, blue, oily, thick, thin.
Now it brings a conflagration, then it extinguishes; it is warm and it is cold; now it carries away, then it sets down, now it hollows out, then it raises up, now it tears down, then it establishes, now it fills up and then it empties, now it rises and then it deepens, now it speeds and then lies still, now it is the cause of life and then of death, now of production and then or privation, now it nourishes and then does the contrary, now it is salt and then without savor, and now with the great floods it submerges.

photo sabrine rothe

my easter thought

Believe me, reading Da Vinci's Notebooks IS better than watching "Friends" reruns.

It IS better for young girls to learn a musical instrument or how to draw than to devote 4 hours a week to cheerleading practice.

If the country caught on fire, what three things would you rescue (besides people)? "The Hunt for Red October," or Paul Klee's Fish Magic?

Hey, I like fun, too, but not more than anything. Humor, yes. Wit, yes. Blond jokes, not that much.

I'm a little early for my Monday resolution, but I am swearing off vulgarity again right now.

Friday, April 06, 2007

friday confession

in cold weather, i sometimes wear the clothes i'm going to wear the next day to bed. usually it's just a sweater, but sometimes courderoys, too. whatever won't wrinkle.

this saves time.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

worm 39

I just read through Worm 39, a poetry zine distributed by email. This issue has 29 poems. Before printing it, I deleted one poem because I could tell by looking at it I wouldn’t like it. I’m allowed to do that.

Another one I skipped because it appeared to be a witch poem, and I don’t like witch poems. Then I decided ok I’ll read it and it wasn’t really a witch poem. Showed me. I also don’t like feathers and cauldrons and cats much. I reserve the right though.

The rhyming poems were good! I’m practically a convert. My favorite among them was “McDarby’s Hymn.” Another, called “Jesus Christ, Superstore,” can be sung. Another, “Humiliation,” has a story behind it I couldn’t totally figure out. And another: “Mother’s Day.” It rhymed and it was short, and I go for short.

There were two poems I stopped reading mid-stream because that was how I felt. They started out fine, but at some point I just said no.

Worm accepts previously published poems. Some of the best in 39 were re-publishers. Despite many editors’ aversion to re-publishing, not everyone has read every poem that has ever been published.

Each of Worm's three editors chooses a favorite poem. None of my favorite three was among theirs. Mine were “Poem for a daughter who did not come home,” “Catastrophe’s Cusp” and “Boots.” I think. There were other good ones, too, like “Dream Song,” and the rhymers.

Michi is also in the issue with a poem called “How much ground would a groundhog hog if a groundhog could hog ground.” I said this to my kids the other day and they loved it.

If you want Worm 39, I can forward it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

the feast season

I was reading Fodor’s guide to Spain this morning (for no reason at all) and it referred to Madrid as a “Moveable Feast.” It seemed an odd label. And I realized, making the connection in my slow way, what a moveable feast really is. . . a "beweglicher Feiertag!“ Also known as a holiday (feast as in "Fest“ or "festival“) that’s not on a set date but changes from year to year. Originally, it wasn’t a travelling banquet à la Hemingway. It was the holidays orbitting Easter, and including Easter, that change dates from year to year. In German the expression “beweglicher Feiertag” is still current. Too bad we don’t use “moveable feast” in English anymore to describe these holidays. Wouldn’t that make them more fun?

And how can Madrid be a moveable feast? Does it change positions according to the lunar calendar?
I have a poem up at Juked today.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Monday Resolutions

1. Resist the idea of the supremacy of money.
2. Resist the dumbing down.
3. Embrace the marvelous.

All that's missing is the exclamation point

Studies recently featured on Yahoo news:

Obese men with prostrate cancer face higher death risk
Survey links binge drinking to low grades
Employees leave jobs for better pay, benefits
Teen gambling tied to other risky behaviors
Taxes favor the rich
Students want prestige, financial aid
Early puberty, older boyfriend increase risk of sex, drug use in girls
Baltimore unprepared for potential nuclear attack
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