Thursday, July 30, 2009

wino haiku

scorching day
the corner winos
switch to white

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Like most people, sometimes in solitude I talk to myself.
Sometimes it’s something significant like “I’ll never do that again.”
Or other times it's a revelation like “No time!”
It could be coupled with a grand gesture, or just shaking my head.
I do think mostly all this is not “talking” as much as “remarking,”
although I do sometimes ask myself an important question:
Do I want to eat the rest of this?”
Sometimes I’m just looking for a little companionship.
I say to myself, “It’s raining pretty hard out here.”
And I answer, “You are right.”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

First Lines of Favorite Novels

Men can do nothing without the make-believe of a beginning. (Daniel Deronda by George Eliot)

It was a pleasure to burn. (Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)

In February 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in Prague to harangue hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in Old Town Square. (The Book of Laughter and Fogetting by Milan Kundera)

Dora Greenfield left her husband because she was afraid of him. (The Bell by Iris Murdoch)

One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me. (The Lover by Marguerite Duras)

First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. (The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien)

When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along to an FM broadcast of the overture of Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta. (The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami)

In the town there are two mutes and they are always together. (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers)

Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. (Waiting by Ha Jin)

A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. (A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O’Toole)

The station wagons arrived at noon, a long shining line that coursed through the west campus. (White Noise by Don DeLillo)

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. (100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Jacob Dietmahler was not such a fool that he could not see that they had arrived at his friend’s home on a washday. (The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald)

This movie I’ve been seeing all my life, yet never to its completion. (Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates)

please feel free to chime in...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

hey bulldog

I’ve got two poems up in the new Scapegoat Review: No Stars Tonight and When Wonderful, Add Water. “Welcome you enjoy!” as we used to say in China.

Alongside a couple other diversions, I’m reading Memoirs of an Anti-Semite by Gregor von Rezzori, a collection of five short stories from the point of view of the same man in eastern Europe between the wars.

The gulf between Jews and “goyim” is clear in the first story. You encounter Jews as lice-ridden children, but also as bold intellectuals in the person of a young devil-may-care pianist. I’m into the second story now. The narrator does talk about Jews and he himself incorporates the negative attitudes towards them, but this doesn’t quite consume the book, and you don’t hate him for his hate, really; he is self-aware and intelligent. He is an anti-semite but not in a rabid way. Still, in the book, what you can assume is a ubiquitous repulsion is about to turn the world upside down.

It’s one of those books that I remember having in my bookbag and I’m not terribly drawn to it, but once I start reading again, it’s very engaging. It’s not a compulsive read, but worthwhile and evocative.

I still have a four books from my challenge to read this year, and of those I plan to get to the Jim Shepard stories and Butcher’s Crossing this summer.

Thanks to Kavel Rafferty for the Saucy image.

Monday, July 20, 2009

both sides now

You know the repulsion that stuns you when you take a sip of some drink you think is going to be something else?

You expect coke and get milk?
You anticipate milk and you get white wine?

It goes beyond disappointed expectations; it’s not just taste but texture.

Isn’t it somehow like drinking the expected and the unexpected beverage mixed together? A sudden fluid pollution, as if you’ve poisoned yourself?

Sunday, July 19, 2009


lived in a town
where everything was an absolute riot.

A funeral’d go by and George’d say
Heh heh did I ever tell you about the time

Heh heh
Heh heh heh heh

Friday, July 17, 2009

your lordship's leather sandals

The best thing about school vacation is there’s no school! There’s no homework. No forcing people into bed right this minute, and back out in the morning like strips of bacon. There’s no math test or Latin vocabulary. No long-assed parents’ night. No has everybody got lunch money? No piano lessons or gym clothes. It’s as if part of my superego has gone to sleep, or is off jet-skiing in the Caribbean. I get up in the morning and close the shades so no one will wake up!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

the pain in my side helping me forget the pain in my teeth

I got a rejection from a big name journal a couple weeks back. I wouldn’t even mention it since it’s not a surprise that I’d get a rejection from a big name journal, but aforesaid big name journal actually solicited poems from me, and then turned them down, making for a very sumptuous session of humiliation.

Oh well. I hadn’t submitted anything in ages, but over the past three weeks or so I sent out a number of poems so that, aside from aforementioned big name humiliating journal, I got some acceptances, too.

First, Barn Owl Review took a poem called Unseen for its 3rd issue, which I’m really happy about, both because of the poem and the journal.

Then Juked’s poetry editor came back from vacation and took two more poems from my last submission, a poem called Despair and my little series on Monopoly Tokens, a couple of which have appeared here.

My poet friend Robert MacDonald has told me he stalks out my publications and then submits to the same journals (with great results) and now I’ve turned tables by submitting to Apparatus Magazine. They took two poems and a fiction piece called Tinder Box, which I'd submitted as a poem. The editor thought differently. I said I didn’t care how it was categorized. Check out Robert’s poem in the premiere issue.

Finally the very exciting Scapegoat Review took two poems for its next issue, expected up this month – No Stars Tonight and When Wonderful, Add Water.

So, in the scheme of things, I should come out positive, and thanks to daydreams in which I'm smoking cigarettes and drinking port in Lisbon in the body of a 23-year old man, I do.

& this cartoon made me laugh today.

& thanks to DoubleParlour for the illustration!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Please Remove My Name

Downtown there’s a man who will write
my name on a grain of rice for 5 euros.
I’m sure he’s a decent man who could use
5 euros, but what would I want with that?
Please remove my name from all grains of rice.
I write my name on the dirt in the eaves.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

instruments of torture

Daniel Pennac’s 10 Inalienable Rights of the Reader:
You have
1. the right to not read,
2. the right to skip pages,
3. the right to not finish,
4. the right to reread,
5. the right to read anything,
6. the right to mistake a book for real life,
7. the right to read anywhere,
8. the right to dip in and browse,
9. the right to read out-loud, and
10. the right to be silent and not defend your tastes.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

the sky today

When I was four or five I was standing in our gravel driveway on Marlboro Ave. The sun was shining like a good example and at the same time it began to rain, but only on half of the driveway. My mother said this was a called a sunshower. And I said, ok, now I’ve seen it all.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


I should be sipping chardonnay with you,
watching the candlewax build its limestone quarry.
But I itch all over.

It’s hard to be inhibited when a belittling affliction
salts the wounded scalp like some medieval torture.

I get more primitive by the minute.
Mmmm, to scratch is natural.

Will you squat behind me, apeman,
and ogle my follicles?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

As god is my nightlite

I’m reading Manhunt, a book about the chase and capture of John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices after the Lincoln assassination and attempted murder of Sec’y of State Seward. Even those without a special interest in Lincoln would enjoy this book. The beginning, especially, is so compelling that I had to talk to myself to keep from yelling and protesting. Even though you know the outcome, there is Booth climbing the stairs in Ford’s Theater, and it’s almost as if you could prevent what’s about to happen. Very exciting book and picture of the bygone.

Photo by Thomas Allen, a man who likes to conjure the characters out of the books by cutting them loose from the covers.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

car keys to moderation

some die of heartbreak
some die of loneliness
some die of an overdose
everything you die of is an overdose
an overdose of tuberculosis
an overdose of choking
an overdose of ocean
an overdose of accident
none of this is the least bit funny
said the man who died laughing
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