Tuesday, June 24, 2008

seemingly reasonable desires

a little peace and quiet
whole milk instead of skim
a restaurant that doesn’t keep red wine in the fridge
a lunch break, occasionally
an optimistic fortune cookie
colleague not talking while I’m talking
absence of ant infestation the day before going on vacation

Monday, June 23, 2008

Any Major Dude

I dislike going to work because it means you have to get prepared. Besides getting dressed, which must be preceded by selecting appropriate clothes, if you are conscientious you will also need to brush your teeth and wash your face. Maybe there’s shaving; maybe there’s makeup. We’re talking time.

(I’ve promised to use at least one semicolon every day, by the way. Sometimes when I'm talking.)

What makes me feel bad are the people going to work who apparently think they’ve done okay but who have failed dismally. This morning I saw a woman whose blouse didn’t sit right. I think she must have pinned the blouse above the top button but mis-measured before fastening, making the cloth into a peephole. Looking in one direction seemed fine but when she looked in the other direction the cloth opened like the mouth of a fat slow-swimming fish. She’ll be walking around all day like that and when she gets home she’ll probably forget the pin and tear the blouse trying to get it up over her head. That’s what I do anyway. I always pull the blouse up over my head when undressing. I never unbutton it. That’s because, of the two kinds of laziness, I belong in the avoid-spending-time lazy category rather than the avoid-trouble lazy category. I’d rather climb the fence than walk around it. This made me an outcast in my family. And means I spend a lot of time waiting for people who walk around the fence. Which is why I always have a book along.

My thoughts about laziness are many, but I digress.

There are plenty of people walking failed into the morning. It’s easy to fail when you’re half asleep. The guy in white socks. The bling people. The woman in the very wrong outfit. And all the people, myself included, pitifully overdressed for what awaits them.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


We’re off to Sardinia for a two-week vacation on Wednesday, to Cagliari, Carlo’s hometown. We’ll be staying outside the city at the beach. I’m sure it will be warm enough to swim, not like last year’s vacation to Denmark, where the only one with nerve enough to brave the cold was the dog. We haven’t been in to Sardinia in a long time. Carlo’s brother recently visited us, so the kids and I are all polished up on our Italian.

Most important is my reading list:

1. Personal Memiors of Ulysses S. Grant. I’ve been very very busy not reading this very very slowly, but plan to see it through, probably with copious skimming.

2. Epitaph of a Small Winner by Machado de Assis. I’m about a quarter of the way through, and enjoying this. The beginning was not particularly promising, then the narrator began hallucinating.

3. The Best American Short Stories 2002. I especially like reading short stories in summer, and especially on vacation. I’ll also bring The O. Henry Awards from 1998, which has been on my shelf ten years. I’ve read a couple of the stories in there but just notice it includes "Brokeback Mountain," which Laurel insists we all read. I’m trusting her.

4. The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand.

5. Either Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose or Ward Just’s The Weather in Berlin. Decision deferred until I’m walking out the door.

6. Poetry is up in the air at the moment. I like to take a big anthology for variety, but the ones I have I’ve pretty much devoured already. I may have to take The Random House Book of 20th Century French Poetry, though I’ve got it nearly memorized. I really could use some recommendations on anthologies. I'm reading one at the moment - Language for a New Century - which is just not doing it for me.

I think I’ll also take Jay Hopler's Green Squall, Pier Giorgio di Cicco's Living in Paradise and Mercy Seat by Norman Dubie, three of my favorites. I’ll need something by Lucie Brock-Broido and a couple journals, too.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Confession: Late Sleeper

You’ll never find that line in my bio "she was born with a pen in her hand" or "she has been writing for as long as she can remember." I didn’t write a poem until I was 38 or 39 years old. I was born with a pen in the back of the bottom drawer of my desk.

My bio should say something like "When she began writing it was about 7 o'clock in the evening."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

doorstop and spitoon

What is it with journals that don’t take simultaneous submissions but also don’t send rejections – only acceptances? And on top of that don’t indicate how long their response period is (for accepted pieces)? What do you do? Grow cobwebs?

And ezines that only take postal submissions? The word that comes to mind is hypocritical. I understand the logic of this policy, but this policy is selfish.

I prefer if journals allow electronic submissions. I live in Germany, modestly. It gets kind of expensive. Don’t even ask about SASEs.

I also like journals that answer me in one or two days, and the answer is ‘yes.’ Call me if you know any of these.

Speaking of ‘yes,’ I love the last passage of Joyce’s Ulysses: and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

I also love Aretha Franklin singing "I Say a Little Prayer." That is hard to beat.

I do enjoy fat novels, too. Anna Karenina, Les Miserables, Bleak House, Cloudsplitter, Daniel Deronda, The Stand.

Don’t tell my colleagues but I like the coffee from the office coffee machine.

I am extremely fond of Paul Klee’s painting Fish Magic. It’s in the Philadelphia Museum of Art where I have seen it many times. Paul Klee is one of my favorites. I once seduced a very handsome man by talking about Paul Klee. It wasn’t my intention when I started talking. Other Paul Klee paintings I like are Landscape with Yellow Birds, Pastorale (at MoMA) and Vocal Fabric of the Singer Rosa Silber (MoMA).

I am a big fan of thunderstorms, too.

Not to mention Camper shoes.

et Guillaume Apollinaire!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


cinched just enough sleep. pockets of melancholy,
but there’s room for everything.
no appointments today!
it continues to be cool.

* *

last trip to Paris i swear i found the Rue Obscure.
i’ve lived on Marlboro Ave., Ten Eyck St., Baldwin, Main, 21st St., Watchung Ave., Martorff and Parcusstrasse, Adelaide St., Somerset and Nanshang Rd. others, too.
best name was Via Copernico.
there was a fireplace in the kitchen.
how it snowed that year.

Monday, June 16, 2008

serve your notion

K: By the way, H. says 9.00 doesn’t work for him as a meeting time. Better would be 9.07.
A: Well, we could also have it at 9.04 or 9.08.
M: What about 9.05?
K: He has a comment to write at 9.00 and can’t make it. 9.07 is the best time.
A: Anytime is fine, just have to decide, so we don’t stand here waiting.
M: What’s wrong with 9.05?
A: 9.05, 9.10, anytime is fine.
M: How about 9.07?

Friday, June 13, 2008

friday confession: singing in the wires

I like my greying hair. I don't have so many grey strands, but the lighting in my office elevator reveals every one. They're strong and wiry, different in texture than the brown. I'm almost sorry when one falls out, though it gives me the chance to inspect it closely. In all its literal brilliance.

Finding a grey hair always reminds me of when, as a kid, I'd find those colored telephone wires on the roadside. They stood out so sharply against the pavement. I wondered why the telephone linemen would leave those beauties behind.

Monday, June 09, 2008

so as not to lose these

chestnut / odious / apparatus / vellum / nanate? /
bullfight / gypsum / barista / potion / Belair /
appartchik / etiolate / tapioca / sorcery / syncophation

Friday, June 06, 2008

friday confession: half a werewolf

My daughter got one of those girl’s how-to books that has a section on palm reading. She asked me if my ring finger is longer than the index, so I looked at my left hand, which I instinctively look at, and it was. "Good," she said, "that means you're creative." She went on reading and I checked out my right hand, and believe it or not my index finger on my right hand is longer than the ring finger! I never knew this! Right in front of my nose!

Everyone knows if your ring finger is longer than your middle finger it means you are a werewolf, but I figure I’ve come pretty far with my weird constellation and I am half a werewolf. Maybe I am an arrested werewolf. Or maybe I am active already - I do wake up pretty exhausted some mornings without any recollection of what happened while I was asleep. Supposedly asleep.

Anyway, I googled “ring finger longer than index” and found that this not only suggests I may be gay but I am also at risk for “a painful joint condition” called osteoarthritis, which affects the knees and hips. And I am very worried how I will pursue my nocturnal work as a werewolf, possibly a gay werewolf, bounding across moors and forests, leaping from behind trees onto my surprised victims, with bum knees.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

the moon like the rhine moves northward

Splash is a nice word but plash, which means the same thing, is even nicer. I suppose it’s because there’s no initial /s/ to detract from the pla with that long /a/ and the pl of plush, plop and pleasure.

Both words require liquid so maybe it’s the kind of liquid or its consistency that determines if it’s to be splash or plash. Like is it mud or is it ocean or is it 7Up? Or maybe it’s the agent entering the liquid that decides, although strictly speaking an agent may not be necessary. Bubbling hot oil, after all, splashes up like a goddamn. (And this is not a case for splatter, which needs an object. A new white blouse is good.)

Most dictionaries don't differentiate but some suggest it is a matter of degree separating plash from splash. To my ear it sounds that way, plash being a damped-down version of splash. People should use plash more often, helping to prove that -

1. All bath beads dropping into water plash.
2. Cream being agitated with a churn to make butter splashes.
3. Wooden spoons whacking the surface of a thick, simmering pudding plashes.
4. Suicides jumping from bridges into rivers splash.
5. Children playing in a pool plash, until things get out of hand, when they splash.

The boy I love

turns 10 today.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

mix n match bathing separates

i'm writing a ghazal. it's taking a long time.

that said, i’m going to have a poem called “Canaan Ghazal” in the next Unsplendid, i hear. it actually adheres to the form. they are considering another ghazal, too, which semi-conforms.

i’ll have a poem called “Scullery” in the Dossier section of the next issue of Court Green. This is an epistle to a mop, froth, and futility in general, which abounds.

i am not going to have a poem in the next Rhino, which has rejected my submission.

i am going to have two poems – “Why Pregnant Women Don’t Tip Over” and “Reading Kolyma Tales” – in issue #3 of Bateau. I am really glad about that. I am really glad about everything.

i’m going to have a poem (“Hive,” previously published in Boxcar Poetry Review) in an anthology called “Crazed by the Sun” being put together by Lynn Strongin. i do not know how this happened. i was informed.

Monday, June 02, 2008

i hate the smell out today

it's so cellophane tape
it's so old cigar extinguished in Guinness
it's so board the humongous bus to Nowa Huta via Dortmund
it's so mechanic's ass
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