Saturday, May 31, 2008

happy 12th birthday, or enough holocaust already

-I checked two bookshops but they didn’t have the book you wanted. Sorry, honey.
-That’s okay. (sussing out the present with her fingers through the gift wrap.)
-I got two other books I hope you’ll like.
-Thanks. Mom, there aren’t any murdered jews in them, are there?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

the ghost in you

My penpal should be a woman with marvelous handwriting. She should choose her words carefully, even if she makes them up. No one complacent because I like to hear complaining sometimes. (In my letters, I will complain.) No one too conservative or too liberal. No one closed-minded. God help her if she makes judgements she’s not qualified to make, like saying poor people are lazy, as a lazy example. Best is she’s my age and reads good books, no schlock. There should be no enjoyment of schlock whatsoever. Ok, closet schlock. She should not give away the plot. No teetotalers. Some understanding of economics is good because, like libido, economics makes the world go round. Whimsy appreciated but not frivolity. I will gladly read of her sexual exploits, even if they are in the past. Better if they are in the past. Perhaps it’s petty but in letters I appreciate good grammar and spelling. I also appreciate fine stationary. I'm very into that. She should have an active sense of humor. She must understand why Roz Chast is funny and explain it to me. Her letters should contain no text-message type abbreviations. Words were meant to be written.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

enter the octopus

also deciding not to finish a book is a way of reading a book.
also deciding not to read a book at all is a way of reading a book.
also knowing everything about a book without reading it cover-to-cover is a way of reading a book.
also having looked at a book from the day you were born until now without cracking it open is a way of reading a book.

marlon brando, pocahontas and me

Being abroad, I pretty much forgot it was Memorial Day on Monday. I only realized it when I got to work and there was no US news except for barbeque murders and fiery freeway accidents. And of course all that endless relentless undying inextinguishable bullshit campaigning.

In January it always slips by me that it’s Martin Luther King Jr. day. I’d left the country by the time it was instated as a public holiday. I recall that as a kid we had separate holidays in February for Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, and now they’re conglomerated into the generic Presidents Day. Okay, let’s agree that not all presidents should be celebrated.

I said to my colleagues it’s odd the Germans don’t have a holiday for a person. But in fact the US seems to be one of the few countries, aside from monarchies celebrating a royal birthday, that have national holidays in honor of one person. (Of course, I joked that the US just has better heroes. We even took Columbus.) I think Germany should have an Oskar Schindler Day, or something like that. Von Stauffenberg Day. Marlene Dietrich Day.

I'm leaving out Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and all the saints and holy rollers.

Most countries have a Labor Day, a Memorial Day and an Independence or Unity Day. Myanmar has holidays celebrating the full moon. Ecuador has a day in honor of a battle. Japan has Coming of Age Day. And all UK holidays are in honor of a bank. Which bank I don't know.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

things i learned in germany

1. The Rhine flows north, which is why the Swiss feel free to swim in it.
2. An ear infection is best treated by wrapping a halved onion in gauze and pressing the cut side against the ear.
3. A chimney sweep brings good luck, as does a pig.
4. It is bad luck to have a birthday party before the birthday.
5. Say hello to everyone when you get in the elevator, and goodbye when you get off.
6. Ditto the doctor’s waiting room.
7. The most popular German pet name is »Schatz«, which means „dear.“ After that come the animal pet names: Maus (mouse), Hase (bunny or rabbit), Bär (bear) or Spatz (sparrow).
8. Goebbels’ wife killed their children.

Monday, May 19, 2008

so much for inspiration

Lumina: Must be a student, alumnus, or faculty of a graduate writing program to submit.

Friday, May 16, 2008

friday confession

I write because I don’t like television.
I write to get revenge.
I write because it keeps me off the streets.
Because of the goblet and the alphabet.
I write because it makes me late for dinner.
I write because I’m not big on talking.
I write because of that guy waving out the window in the building across from me. Because of his beard and his star sign.
I write because I’m passive-aggressive.
I write because of the drunk’s Labrador.
I write because time tells me to.
I don’t know. Indulge me.
I write because of laundry and froth.
Pillar, plank and slab.
I write because of noodles for breakfast.
I write because who knows what could happen.
I write because what else is there to do.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

landscape with rubberband

In the building across the courtyard, a man waves at me from a conference room.
He has a beard and he's smiling.
I smile back, as I'm expected to.

It is April. It is May.
Then it is almost June.

Friday, May 09, 2008

a small world, small & flawed

My poem "Folk Art" is featured on Verse Daily today.


walking man by bill traylor from the american folk art museum.

friday confession: peeves & italian voodoo

I hate it when people over-pluck their eyebrows. It makes their faces look like fruit.

I hate it when you're taking the clean whites out of the washing machine and some of them fall on the cellar floor.

I don't like dyed or highlighted blonde hair. It's so obvious. Nevertheless, I have often fantasized about what it would be like if I highlighted my mousy brown hair.

I hate that plastic that ob tampons are wrapped in. It sticks to your fingers and won't goddamned come off.

I also don't particularly like the number six. There's something wrong with it.

Bonus! --->
Here's one from my husband. When he was a kid he had an action figure (read doll) called Big Jim. I don't know if this was like Action Jackson or GI Joe or what, but he kept it in his drawer. Before he'd go to school in the morning, he would dress Big Jim in clothes similar to his own.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I dreamed my friend X. had written a marvelous poem, all crafty
and delightful. Towards the end – it was a print-out, not
handwritten – a new stanza began, “Hey, Po…..,” and I couldn’t
see the word right but read it as Pocahontas. It was perfect how
X. slipped in the Indian Princess. On second glance, though,
it turned out to say “Polaroid,” which seemed even better.
I woke up and realized it was a dream, and that I should
quick write down those words, and – it occurred to me –
also the word pissoir.

Monday, May 05, 2008

moss phlox

Photo: AP
Here's more

going nowhere

The only thing worse than having
to run for the train is to miss
the train. Except worse is you run
but miss the train anyway and you
left your book on the table at home.

Friday, May 02, 2008

friday confession: planet of the apes

At dinner I asked how many planets there are in the solar system. No one knew for sure.

Miles said three: earth, sun and moon.

Carlo, intoxicated as he is with the metric system, said ten.

Luisa took the 5th and Alex was almost right, having counted Pluto. I was off by one as well.

Luckily, ignorance was righted by a nearby reference book. We did better on which planet is closest to the sun, and the general order of things.

Actually, now I’m thinking Pluto may have been reinstated. What was the verdict?

Is it just us who can't name and number the planets without a collective effort?

*thx to oh my cavalier for the constellation of bees, which hangs in my study.
Related Posts with Thumbnails