Monday, September 29, 2008

Surprise Party

How come every European city has a bar called Café Kafka? Do drinkers especially like Kafka? Do they like a disorienting kind of drunkenness, serviced by menacing bureaucrats? Do bartenders like Kafka, or waitresses? Are European drunks so literate? Of course, Frankfurt has a Café Kafka. I’ve been there. There’s nothing kafkaesque about it. Not that I noticed. Are we all talking about the same Kafka? Part down the middle, big ears? Do all these cafés confiscate your passport as security when you enter? Are they all connected to each other by some hidden door in the broom closet?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

the faucet is the saddest instrument

I have a couple poems up at Prick of the Spindle Rioja and Faucet Song. Rioja is an older poem and the latter is part of my never-ending series of household obsession poems.

Both my husband and our aupair leave the faucet running frequently. They turn it on full blast and leave the room. They say they aren’t “leaving it on,” they’re coming back. It makes me want to scream. Sometimes I do scream, or writhe. It’s really not just plain old vanilla neurosis on my part – it’s blatant waaaaaaaste.

In response to recent submissions, I got a rejection a couple days back from Redactions, but also an acceptance for two poems from Main Street RagThe Conservationist (“… all the ooze and diamonds of the poor …”) and I Have the Feeling You Enjoy Stress (“…slosh some vodka across the stovetop…”).

On Thursday the kids and I leave for the states for the annual U.S. vacation touching points northeast. I’m scheduled up the wazoo, which I don’t usually prefer, but it’s okay – the kids dig it. I think I’m going to have to skip Philadelphia this time and the used bookstore I love. I will try to squeeze in the Strand in NY, though. I hope.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

dear manufacturer trying to sell my 12-year old a push-up bra

Man opens fire, robs bank, cheats welfare
Man threatens teller, resists arrest, blows up bridge
Man insults officer, shoots three, kills one
Man runs red light, poisons neighbor, solicits prostitute
Man loots booty, lights self on fire, throws wife from car
Man drives into crowd, goes insane, defrauds authorities
Man stalks actress, runs amok, kills self

Monday, September 15, 2008

zombie haiku

I've been tagged by Laurel to disclose six unspectacular things about myself. And here they are!

1. I have a mortgage I very much hope to pay off someday.

2. I have devoted hours of my life watching the Lord of the Rings movies largely because of Legolas. I have even considered reading the books, but understand Legolas is not that prominent a character. What can I say? Orlando Bloom makes a great long-haired blond elf, and that is unfortunately about it.

3. “supposing i dreamed this” is one of my favorite ee cummings poems.

4. Now that suicide has pushed David Foster Wallace to the foreground of my consciousness, I really want to read him. Like millions of other people probably. Except I probably will read him.

5. We just traded our used used Volvo (plus cash) for a new used Volvo. When I said to my husband that I would have prefered to shell out the money for something more exciting, he said “Sometimes I don’t understand you.” I’m sure this is playing out in countless used car lots.

6. I really do have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin.

Meme terms & conditions!
1. link the person who tagged you: Laurel
2. mention the rules on your blog: (these are them)
3. list 6 unspectacular things about you: (see above)
4. tag 6 other bloggers by linking them: Laura, Talia, Charmi, Andrew, Dave, Michi, John

Thursday, September 11, 2008

the day arrives like a shipwreck

Yes, I remember. It was more than shock, and more than pain. It was horror.

To me a peculiar thing about it was that at no point on that day did I say “I don’t believe this is happening.” It was completely believable.

As much as it seems like yesterday it also seems it could have happened 100 years ago. Like the Civil War.

Okay, that’s closer to 150 years ago.

Why does that memorial take so long? Was it supposed to take this long? Like, let’s have a memorial ten years later when we’re a little less emotional?

Is it some kind of behind-the-scenes struggle about the depiction of death, or what it is to feel the menace of death?

We all felt it. Every time an airplane passed over. Too close. Too powerful.

I guess the Vietnam Memorial was a long time coming, too. And it’s flabbergasting – low-key and devastating. Go there if you haven’t. Cuts right through the bullshit.

Anything but a light show, a PR event.

Over the years, I've read many vignettes and stories about people who lost loved ones, and of course it’s sad. I'll never erase the pictures of people with their "Looking For:" notices. But what I feel more is anger. It’s terrible, I suppose, but even more I feel hate.

Which is unfortunate, because that was probably part of the point – getting everyone all hot-headed and vengeful.

Which worked.

I keep it in check. I'm able to be reasonable. I don't run for public office.

Sure I’m mad at our administration for not preventing it, but not that much. I’m also not mad at a relative of mine for getting raped. In broad daylight. In the company of friends.

Of course I am mad at the administration now. I would like to say "disappointed," but that would suggest having had expectations.

I hate to be cynical. But folks, the chance is coming.

I don't know what to say in the face of it all. That horror.

May it never come again.

thx to erin tyner for the photo.

Monday, September 08, 2008


"Go, balloons. I don't see anything happening. Go, balloons. Go, balloons. Go, balloons. Stand by, confetti. Keep coming, balloons. More balloons. Bring them. Balloons, balloons, balloons! More balloons. Tons of them. Bring them down. Let them all come. No confetti. No confetti yet. No confetti. All right. Go, balloons. Go, balloons. We're getting more balloons. All balloons. All balloons should be going. Come on, guys! Let's move it. Jesus! We need more balloons. I want all balloons to go. Go, confetti. Go, confetti. Go, confetti. I want more balloons. What's happening to the balloons? We need more balloons. We need all of them coming down. Go, balloons. Balloons. What's happening balloons? There's not enough coming down. All balloons! Why the hell is nothing falling? What the f--- are you guys doing up there? We want more balloons coming down. More balloons. - — Don Mischer, 2004 Democratic Convention Producer

Saturday, September 06, 2008

tired of this particular hypothesis

If this were France we’d all walk around half-naked and take drugs
If this were France we’d have better taste and spend all our money on art
If this were France we’d laugh through adultery and fraud
If this were France we’d be on strike
If this were France we’d shower occasionally and smoke all day long
If this were France we’d drink our coke without ice cubes
If this were France we’d speak French and not have the faintest what we were talking about

Friday, September 05, 2008

conversation with a backdoor draught

weird revelation
a few days after I arrived to teach in china way back when I saw a group of retarded people cleaning one of the little city squares. It had never occurred to me there were retarded chinese people. All the chinese people I’d ever seen or heard about or read about were not retarded.

making an assessment
first, are there books in the house. Two, which books. Three, what is hanging on the walls. Next, the layout on the floor. Maybe this is in the wrong order?

no, surely not.

der Mensch ist kein Tier
I read an article the other day in which the writer talked about meeting a certain dog in person.
Recently a number of mosquitos have met me in person, but not the other way around.

the screaming man

camped outside my office building is a guy we call the screaming man. He has a beard. His rage won’t let up but as time goes on he gets less scary. Now you know as much about him as I do.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sherman also came upon the rebel pickets

My au pair is a lunking sweetheart and you'll be glad to know that, while there is no McDonalds in his Siberian city, his mother was fond of Hawaii pizza. He says he's keeping a record of my recipes. I must roll my eyes. I hate to cook, and rather than a cookbook I use whatever I’m reading at the moment in the kitchen, which at this moment is Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs.

When I’m wondering if I’ve put enough salt in the sauce, General Grant notes, “While a battle is raging one can see his enemy mowed down by the thousand, or ten thousand, with great composure; but after the battle these scenes are distressing, and one is naturallly disposed to do as much to alleviate the suffering of an enemy as a friend.” And then I add more salt.

When I’m wondering, though not with total attention, if the pasta's done, General Grant says, “There was about two feet of water in this swamp at the time. To get through it, even with vessels of the lightest draft, it was necessary to clear off a belt of heavy timber wide enough to make a passage way. As the trees would have to be cut close to the bottom – under water – it was an undertaking of great magnitude.” Then I figure the pasta is al dente.

Mr. Grant, I ask, is it better to use sage in this dish, or thyme? And General Grant, later President Grant, says “The Mexicans were very kind to us, and threw no obstacles in the way of our landing except an occasional shot from their nearest fort. During the debarkation one shot took off the head of Major Albertis. No other, I believe, reached anywhere near the same distance.” So I use sage.
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