Friday, February 29, 2008

friday confession: oops

I came back from walking the dog. There was a tissue on the table, perfectly new from the pack, so I used it to wipe my nose. I wadded it up in my coat pocket since I had to go back out and could re-use it. Later when I took it out to blow my nose I noticed there was some black pieces or something in it, so I unfolded it thinking I must have a coal-fired power plant booming in my nose. In fact the black was three scribbled lines of Italian, a poem that my husband, lacking paper, had apparently jotted down, turned over and left on the table.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

a dab'll do ya

Well, this was fun - Sam's tag:

How to play:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

The nearest books I had were a stack of Pebble Lake Review, none of which made it to page 123. Beside those was Roget's Thesaurus, which did not consist of sentences, but I did check out page 123, which was wonderful, running from "Deathless" to "Debt."

Next within reach was Eclipse by John Banville, which I'm now reading. Here are the requested sentences:

She attends to the task with stern consternation, dabbing and smoothing with her little brush, careful as a medieval miniaturist. Often when she is finished she will hold her hands splayed out before her and, spotting some failure of execution, some flaw in the glaze, she will wrinkle her nose in annoyance and bring out her bottle of remover and wipe off every speck of the polish she has just finished applying and start all over again. She pays an equal attention to her toes.

I tag Laura, Dave, Nic, Valerie and, in a futile attempt at resuscitation, Carl.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


My dad comes to visit this week. Also known as Diety, which is how my step-brothers always said I pronounced “Daddy.” Also known as Warren, Warbaby or Juan. And also Pops. But most famously known as Papabunny. Once I had a boyfriend (and once was enough) I was crazy about, who one summer got dysentery. Since he couldn’t do much but suffer, I read to him. One day I read Eudora Welty’s “Why I Live at the P.O.,” which, too bad, turned out to be hilarious, and left aforesaid boyfriend cramped with laughter. Anyway, the grandfather character in the story was called Papa-Daddy. So when I had kids and we wondered what sobriquet to stick on grandpa, I promoted Papa-Daddy. Except the kids couldn’t pronounce that.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

instead of church

I dreamed about Jesus, the baby Jesus. Mary was in it, too, looking very much like Joni Mitchell. There was also a Rachel, as in the sister of Leah in the OT. Anyway, baby Jesus was entrusted to me and I was taking pretty good care of him. I left him on top of the washing machine at one point so I could take a dip in an indoor swimming pool. He was fine, but Mary came back all hell on wheels. She was not a fit mother. I knew my time with Jesus would be short. I left him in his carseat on top of the washing machine, yes, but absolutely nothing happened to him.

Friday, February 22, 2008

friday confession: dna

I keep my kids' baby teeth in my change purse.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


"No one, in his lifetime, set foot inside his room, not even that large and splendid concierge, against whom his only complaint was that she tried to force the door one day when she was worried, knowing he was ill and hadn’t been seen for a very long time! It was an extraordinary room, and the life he lived in it smacked of magic.
"It’s enough for me to say that when Milhaud, Roger Desormiere and I, with his brother Conrad, got into the room to try and sort out the layers of papers and objects covering the floor, we couldn’t begin until we’d sent two cartloads of rubbish to the public tip in Arcueil! So long after the event, I can say now that I discovered, all along one skirting board, numerous lumps of excrement, hardened and blackened with age, which I hastily stuffed into newspapers so that Satie’s brother shouldn’t see them.
"The man who emerged every morning from this unbelievable slum was the same man we saw strolling around Paris, looking stylish, full of energy, cheerful, spruce and clean, except when one of his long walks had left a light covering of dust on him."
-from Satie Remembered

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I have a poem up at Wheelhouse Magazine called Luna di Miele. This is really an interesting online magazine and I hope you'll take some time to read through it and look at the artwork, too. And check out their Project Paragone, which looks like fun.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Somebody's Tried To Break My Spirit in This Room

Somebody's tried to break my spirit in this room.
They're not going to break my spirit.
I'm going to continue to go out
And do the things that I love to do,
And try and be honest and genuine
To every person I can be.
It's the way I was brought up.
It's what I know.

—Feb. 5, 2008, deposition

I missed this the other day. Slate rearranged some of Roger Clemens' statements into poetry. The 'break my spirit' one is my favorite. I have to say, though, that Clemens' poetry can't compete with Donald Rumsfeld's, whose "Glass Box" is one for the ages.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I lift my chin like a midget pony

I got my copy of Barn Owl Review today and I want to say it is way wonderful. I always trip over myself in enthusiasm in this way, before I've had time to read everything or wallow, but I wanted to say anyway how much I loved the poems by Debbie Yee, Brent Goodman, John Guzlowski and Amanda Auchter. I'll stop there though I could go on. I also loved Alex Lemon's poem "Yet I Ride the Little Horse," which you can read at the website. I suggest you do.

I got a postcard from The Iowa Review today asking me to renew my subscription. The front says "The Iowa Review STILL NEEDS YOU." The back says "Please don't leave us." My daughter was very concerned about this.

-Did you get the postcard from Illonar Review?
-They don't want you to leave. Are you going to leave?
-They want me to renew my subscription, honey, not not to leave.
-Ok, but they need you, so, what? Are you going to stay?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

hey sweetheart

I wouldn't mention the orgy of advertising called Valentine's Day, but with this list of cornball songs making me laugh, it seems hard to avoid. The comments are funny, too, but I warn you not to listen to the music.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

i'm writing about the book i read

At one point in The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion writes about reading an old book of etiquette on how to treat the bereaved, making the point that these days we’re willfully ignorant of death and, though she doesn’t say this, we cheat ourselves of preparation that could help us when our turn comes to grieve or to die. Somewhere along the line the pursuit of happiness became a duty rather than a choice and, as far as fashion goes, white the new black.

She also discusses re-reading the play Alcestis in trying to grasp the grey area between life and death, or if there’s a grey area between life and death and whether we can say things like “at so-and-so time he died.” In the play, Alcestis is with the ferryman crossing the river and shouts back to those left in life as she travels the divide. In the end she’s spared. Didion talks about how she comes back changed, how silent she is. (I couldn’t help but think of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and how the donors, on an expedited track to death, treat the carers, who are not yet on that track, as other.)

I was thinking about the chronically ill and the chronically unhappy and old people who want to die, how in a way they’re in that grey area, and how we try to distract them and downplay their worries and pains, fill them with anti-depressants and pain killers because it’s uncomfortable to have death’s messengers among us, and if they’re not “making the most of it” then something needs fixing. And I was thinking of someone in my extended family who committed suicide and how he was outright denounced for it and how I felt sorry for him and I was thinking of all the families who want to deny that a loved one – a child, a parent – has committed suicide, how it must have been an accident, because we can’t grasp the desire to die, or, worse, we can, or in the case of the loved one, the suicide suggests some deficiency, some insufficiency in ourselves that shows we’ve failed. That happiness fails.

The Year of Magical Thinking was and wasn't about all that. Mostly it dealt on the year after Didion's husband died. I think magical thinking is a normal response to losing a loved one. But Didion told of the experience with such lucidity and candor, and such sanity, that it was exceptional.

pellucid rooms

In good news I got an acceptance note from Blood Orange Review for “Jellyfish” (There are rooms underwater / we can’t imagine). American Poetry Journal is taking “Finishing Touch” (What is it like in your white hair). And Warbler, a start-up, took two poems for its first issue ("Folk Art" & "Out of the Nowhere of Afternoon"). I've linked to Warbler's blog on the left.

I also got my share of rejections, including Flyway, Dirty Napkin and Barnstorm. All form rejections, which frown in their beer.

Amendment: Dirty Napkin did take a poem: "Outdoor Cafe." Because they send a response to every poem rather than to the submission, I prematurely figured the three poems in my submission had been rejected.

Traveller snowglobe by Martin & Munez. More here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

friday confession: damnable

cursed the train
cursed the wind
cursed the clock
cursed my luck

and ate a chocolate bar before 10 am

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

perishable goods

In general Last Orders is a buddy movie/road trip story about four friends who go to throw a dead man’s ashes in the ocean. The back cover says this is “his peculiar last wish: to have his ashes scattered in the sea.” If that’s a peculiar wish, call me Ishmael. The front cover is better – nice picture, no?

I wasn’t wild about this book. It took a while to get into and even then, the story was unremarkable. It wasn’t until page 100 that I felt able to keep the characters straight. Still, I think the switching of narrators/points of view added a lot to the book, Faulknerian in its way, but not as complicated. The male voices were convincing, though at first I had trouble distinguishing them. The voice of Amy, one of the few women in the book, didn’t come off well in my opinion.

The style made the pace seem plodding at first, and the road trip interminable. But as the narrative bore out, I liked the way the pieces came together to tell the life stories of the characters. Life could be beautiful but we make mistakes. Life could be beautiful but we can't get over ourselves and our limitations. I thought the closing scene was wonderful in both atmosphere and wording. But overall it seemed rather weak for the Booker Prize. Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane, shortlisted the same year, was better.

That is the fifth book of six for the Booker Challenge I'm doing. I'm leaving it off for awhile to read Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Friday, February 01, 2008

I Know Every Alp

What is it about IKEA? So many people hate it, but almost no one within driving distance of one survives with a home that’s IKEA-free. The two reasons I don’t like to go there is everyone finds something they suddenly want and you spend more than you expected. And second, of course, most of the stuff is cheap so even if those black chairs looked elegant, two weeks later they’re scuffed and chipped. Or the panels scratch when you’re taking them out of the box. Which reminds me of reason three – it can be such a bitch to put together.

Still, I like visiting IKEA for the people watching. You can tell who’s really an asshole, a dominatrix, a wuss, whose relationship is suffering, who’s bitter about their buying power, and who doesn’t know where “variety is the spice of life” ends and excess begins.

I was with Carlo looking at curtains. I showed him the ones I thought were decent, and he agreed. But none that we found acceptable went with our living room. And even if they did, they were not particularly nice. He pulled out one I hadn’t noticed and, rubbing the fabric, said, “this one is interesting,” and I said “except that it looks like a 10-year old terrycloth towel.” And he laughed, because I was right.

Where we were browsing, there was another couple looking for curtains. She was studying the fabrics and he just caught up to her and, without so much as glancing at the 20 or so curtains hanging in that section, said, “I don’t like any of these.” And that was that. Search aborted.

Anyway, we came home without curtains, but a lot of candles. We stopped at a department store on the way home and went all swoony for curtains we found. Then we found out they cost about 800 euros. So maybe we’ll wait until IKEA gets some new inventory. That’s why I love IKEA.
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