Sunday, November 30, 2008


It's my birthday and we took a brisk walk through Frankfurt's main cemetery, a huge and fascinating place. We had some friends visiting who used to live in Frankfurt, but they had never visited Schopenhauer's grave, so we ambled in that direction. It's a very unrembarkable grave, actually. There are much grander affairs to be found. I never fail to cry at children's graves, especially if there's an inscription, so I tried avoiding them, but unfortunatley failed. Oh well, I always cry over something or other on my birthday.

I got a couple books. Luisa and Miles made me a little "book" of collages and drawings. I got tea and a scarf. And Carlo printed and framed this photograph of me and Luisa (my newest friend on GoodReads).

Oh, and I bought myself a perfume: L'Heure Bleue from Guerlain. A little old-fashioned, perhaps, but full and soft.

That was about it. I hope.
Back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

my little nut tree

Coffee. More coffee. Coffee with milk, whole milk, no sugar. Also with cream. Coffee cup. Coffee mug. Coffee muck. Coffee with the dregs in it. Ground to pillow consistency, or still resident in the bean. Coffee to go. Coffee to stay. Coffee running in place. Coffee waiting on the medicine cabinet shelf while I shower. Partly cloudy, clear or 10% chance or rain. Kenya, Brazil, Hawaii. No matter. Coffee. More coffee. Sometimes in a bowl, with rum.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

make sure your eyes are doves

For Thanksgiving, I thought I’d post a painting by Irene Hardwicke Olivieri, whose work brings to my mind “bountiful”- richly colored, full of fruit, flora, creatures and sometimes transformation and surreal mystery. She creates her own totems and icons, and paints on whatever seems to be available – cutting boards or other found pieces of wood – in the tradition of folk art.

I met Irene virtually some weeks ago, traveled her site, and put her book on my wish list. I’d put Making You Lovely on my wish list, too, if it were within my means. (Why can't I sell a poem for, say, $450?)

This painting is called Wendy, and I figure Wendy is the somewhat owlish cat and the woman is Irene. One of the things I like about her paintings is how she incorporates words, tatooing people and landscapes. It’s too bad not to be able to see these works in person, where you could “read” the paintings. But even on the internet you can make this one: “Today January tenth two thousand and seven here I am in the center of Death Valley the lowest and hottest place in our country, and one of the most desolate . . . “

In other worlds, of course I called my mother to wish her a happy Thanksgiving. I think next year I'll say so in person.

And in the spirit of gratefulness, many thanks to Prick of the Spindle for nominating my poem "Faucet Song" for a Pushcart this morning.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

millionaire slumber

My poem "Ghazal with Heavenly Bodies" up at linebreak today.
You don't even have to read it.
Just push the speaker icon and it will be read to you!

This ghazal will be in my chapbook, which Tilt will put out probably right after Christmas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

it was the snow that told me

I very much miss real letters.
I've thought of sponsoring their renaissance myself.

From the point of origin that would be fine.

But how would the person receiving the letter feel?
Does putting something down on paper make it seem more recorded?
Will it seem like the writer is trying to make some larger point,
ie have real letters become high-falutin?
Does this matter?

I shouldn't let this stop me.

The only other consideration is that without practice my handwriting has grown hideous.

Friday, November 21, 2008

2 months without reprieve

I’m so tired of the abuse of gloom
economic gloom, investor gloom, consumer gloom, mood of gloom

I found it dozens of times in today’s paper, as if it were being advertised.
Isn’t there another word? Dejection? Glumness? Negativity?
Ok, maybe not.

If you ask me it’s no match for doom, its eternal partner.

Poor gloom, forever being yanked out of the mothballs for some dour purpose
yet so orthographically appealing, proper and symmetrical
able to balance whole worlds on its head

Gloom that foggy-eyed glaucoma
Gloom that wet bread

Thursday, November 20, 2008

what is music

this is a tough one
but it will be on my son's music class test tomorrow.
so if you know, hey, pass it on.

Monday, November 17, 2008

garlic powder

I hoped to write a poem about food today. I picked a kind of food and made a big word list. Most of the words I picked were small but soon they were stringing themselves into phrases. Some rhyming started to happen. I hadn’t wanted that but I somehow also couldn’t prevent it. Sadly, it hasn’t gotten much farther than that. I had to go to work after all, then come home and mom around, arranging bathtimes, homework, dog care, tea and supper.

As consolation (to me), I have a poem up at Qarrtsiluni about nuclear power!

Friday, November 14, 2008

care & feeding

On the way home from work I bought three kinds of cheese:
Stilton, Delice d'Argental and K├╝ssnachter.
So it is a relief that my poem Bad Toothbrushes is up at Juked today.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

rum being a condiment

my daughter is so wrong
yesterday I quizzed her on the continents
and she guessed one as "Equator"
she also said that previous black presidents
had all been either attacked or assassinated
she wasn’t sure, she heard that at school
and then today she tells me Pierce Bronson
is better looking than George Clooney
I mean come on

Monday, November 10, 2008


Thanks to Laurel for letting me know my poem "Curtains" is up at Verse Daily today!
A nice start to a Monday for me.

Friday, November 07, 2008

if only i'd known

This may well be already dated, but it's still funny.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

too sexy for iran

Publisher's Weekly has a list of its best book choices for 2008, which is dominated by fiction, but also includes a few poetry books. Two of them are on my wish list: the new WS Merwin and Kevin Prufer's National Anthem. The list is here.

When the hoopla went down about the Swede who disparaged American literature as being too tangled up in its own mass culture to deserve a Nobel Prize, I immediately thought of WS Merwin, who is timeless, concerned and perfectly pitched. When I read him I feel as though a ghost is passing through me. Later on I also thought of Cormac McCarthy and a couple other folks. But I also think there is a lot of poetry and "literature" out there that's too hip for its own good.

I can't believe November is already ticking. I'm going to start my own best-of list soon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

what came from the warm mud

One of the many delightful things about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is that the writer has named the chapters. When poets don’t title their poems, they are suspected of not caring enough, but how often do contemporary novelists name their chapters? Seems rather a rare thing. But Murakami does this, and he does it with pizazz.

These titles were sweeping around my subconscious, until the whole entitling phenomenon burst into consciousness in the dentist’s waiting room when I arrived at the chapter called “No Good News In This Chapter.” Well, I loved that. And I was glad to be prepared. Indeed, there wasn’t much good news in it, on the surface anyway. I don’t know, the things that happened in this chapter didn’t seem soooo bad, but I’m projecting. If they happened to me, I wouldn't find them so bad, but I get where the protagonist is coming from. Read the book and find out.

Anyway. Other choice chapters include:

Six Fingers and Four Breasts
On Horses Dying in the Stables
Culverts and an Absolute Insufficiency of Electricity
Death in the Bathtub
Just a Real Knife
Is This Shovel a Real Shovel?
Jellyfish from All Around the World

Saturday, November 01, 2008

more than anything i hate golf

People like – or dislike – words for the way they sound or the associations they conjure, but some are also influenced by the way a word looks.

For example, many find something humorous about the letter k.

Pickle. Dunk. Monkey. Kalamazoo. Yank.

Funniest is the initial silent k, as in knackwrust or knuckle. What is so funny about that? I don’t know, but there’s an air of stupidity about it, no? To get really stupid, when someone wants to make a joke of his shop, he screws the spelling to include k: Kwik Kleaners or Kute Gifts. Poor k!

I like a doubled vowel, as in leer and deep. Even better than the double e is double o. To some extent, it’s also funny. Think of the word tube. It’s not funny. But the word loop is. Since tube and loop have the same vowel, it’s not sound here, it’s spelling. Other double o’s are also funny, like doodle, toot, boob, poodle and oodles. And why is cartoon not cartune? Because!

You’d think double o words were formed for the sake of a laugh. But there’s another class of double o words that ooze of mystery and have nothing funny about them. Think room. Such a big little word. Also smooth and broom and groom. Cocoon. Soundwise, it helps if the double o is followed by a vocalized consonant. But it isn’t absolutely necessary. I find a weird spaciousness also in root and soot, for example, and soot isn’t even pronounced with the long /u/.

Somewhere the buried knowledge of how the word is spelled affects me even when I’m neither reading nor writing it. As much as I dig root, route leaves me lukewarm. And while I like June, pursuit, newt and chute, they’d be different altogether with a double o.

One might say it’s only because the double o looks so cool. But that’s not it entirely. Also leer is more interesting than, say, near. Wheel is more intriguing than weal, and between would beat betwene, even though there’s something sweet about the latter. Dopey and sweet.
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