Sunday, August 30, 2009

the next to last straw

I was sick of being myself so I went to the museum to soak up the old masters. The ceilings were high, the light diffuse and the temperature-test machines were ticking. There was a wonderful Ernst Ludwig Kirchner I wanted to get close to, one of his Fränzi paintings. The problem was the digital cameras. It’s not like the days where someone was taking a picture and you’d politely wait until they got the shot before passing in front of their lens. No. Now everyone is taking a picture of everything. And people are not just doing goofy imitations of sculptures, they’re also taking 12 photos of their girlfriend next to Fränzi. Folks, I don't have time for all this acquisitive art-loving. In trying to save my soul by staying out of everyone’s schlock photo, by the time I went home I was more myself than ever before. So much for that.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Figure, Disfiguring

The candle began as a simple tool, just wick and molded wax, but soon morphed into the ultimate object of contemplation. Long after the electric light and back-up generator, the candle was at work with new purpose. People saw themselves in the flame, the even burn that quickly turned to thrash and panic, the wax relinquishing its form, the good posture collapsing, sloughing off and going cold. Up sprouted candle shops, beeswax farmers, candle match makers, votives, floaters, tea lights, candelabras and menorahs. There were candles for birthdays and candles for the dead. There were candle-making kits for kids, candlelight dinners and Candlelight Drive in Glastonbury, CT. Everyone knows the fascination of fire, but it was more than that. It was a body, the supposedly sole abode, taking itself apart, a controlled experiment in transformation, self-contained, solid to liquid, and back again.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lieber Vlad,

Our Siberian aupair’s year is up. It doesn’t matter: we tied him up in the attic and are keeping him as a slave. Just kidding. He’s bigger than all of us put together. Good old Dmitry. He’s still living with us, doing the Tuesday baked noodle dinner, dog-walking and channel-surfing while looking for a job that will help him avoid the suicidal Russian army. The first thing Dima needs is some money. So what’s the first thing he does? He signs up for exclusive membership at the local fitness club. 70 euros a month. No exit. He tried to explain that he has no income and his visa status is shaky so that free 2-month membership trial shouldn’t have been automatically extended. They didn’t care, just showed him his signature on the contract. I wonder if mandatory fitness club membership is a legitimate reason to be exempt from Russian military service. I could write to Mr. Putin and say Dima is a “required member” at the club. The Russian army is mean but these fitness club instructors are pretty heartless themselves.

Monday, August 24, 2009


the spoon in the knife drawer
with its face punched in.

Friday, August 21, 2009

honey pie

I was writing a poem recently about pain, and the weird similes we reach for in trying to describe it. It didn’t go far because of my penchant for the gruesome. Nevertheless, I got wind of this book The Body in Pain, which I've just started reading. One of the first things the author notes is how we’re largely unable to describe pain without expressions like “as if” or “as though.” There are some adjectives used frequently, such as “searing,” “burning” or “throbbing,” but often we resort to constructions like “It was as though someone stuck a knife in my side and twisted it,” or “It was as if my head were in a vice.”

The Body in Pain also mentions pain scales used by doctors, the most famous being the McGill Index. But I found another related to insect bites from an entomologist named Justin O. Schmidt, which is vivid and whimsical. He rates the pain from insect bites from 1-4, 4 being the worst. It makes you almost want to get bitten. Here it is:

1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x Honey bee and European hornet: Like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin.
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0 Tarantula hawk: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.
4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

unfortunate rhymes

sun - fun!
debt - regret.
together - forever

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

kitsch inventory

- a heart fashioned from a hay with a wooden cutting board plunked down in its center and hung on the wall
- sticks bundled with a bow and hung on the wall
- a collection of beer steins with images of German cities
- silk flowers, with a pronounced proclivity for the sunflower
- an enormous silk sunflower in a floor vase on my husband’s side of the bed that we didn’t notice until I set about making this list
- milk jugs painted with farm scenes (surprise!)
- a mirror framed with ceramic cherubin
- the mandatory regional bank calendar boasting local nature scenes
- hay clustered in the shape of a boy with a burlap cape and hat, hung on the wall
- a mini-sled atop the refrigerator with a hay bale as passenger
- (they really dig hay. as andy warhol said, “This is a tomato soup can; we have to make do with what we have,” or something like that.)
- plywood cutouts in the shape of a teapot and cups, painted blue and white and plonked on the wall
- you’ll find it hard to believe, but another hay heart with a long tail as if to mimic a rug beater, hung on the wall

I shouldn’t be critical, but there was hardly any place to put our stuff down because of the kitsch. And, if forced to choose, I’d choose farm kitsch over the driftwood, lobster shells and bird shit of maritime kitsch any day. Anyway, we had a great time in the Black Forest, which is surprisingly sunny.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


I am vacationing between the layers of a dark chocolate cake.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

yes, we camp

Please check out this very nice review of my chapbook at Rattle!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

you have been named chairman of the board

Oh! My "Monopoly Tokens" is also up at Juked today.
thanks, juked

Hotel Hoodwink

Camroc Press was kind enough to take one of my poems. Red Cap is up today, a poem inspired by Red Riding Hood. Anyone familiar with fairy tales and psychoanalysis knows this is one screwed up story, and that's its whole allure - that flashy cape as prey to carnal urges, the forest itself the sexual psyche.

Speaking of badass forests, we're off on vacation as of Saturday to Germany's Black Forest. It's actually a kind of save-$ vacation since we usually spend a fortune on gas driving to the Alps, or take a plane somewhere. This'll only be 3 hours away, and without a view of the Mediterranean. Suits me. I don't think there will be any wolves there.

If you'd like to see a version of Red Riding Hood that includes a ferocious wolf, check out this one.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

gentle reader

Dear probably-otherwise-nice Man who lectured me about people who don’t clean up after their dogs while I was walking my dog in a very clean fashion,

Dear Murderer who had a difficult childhood about which I am sorry,

Dear upright German Lady who reminded me of the rules of the road while I was riding my bike slowly on a dirt path in the middle of nowhere without another bike in sight,

Dear Decent Writer who is otherwise somewhat of an egoistic foot-in-the-mouth kind of timesuck,

Dear I-bet-the-west-is-wrong-about-you Iranian President,

Dear must-not-get-enough-attention teenage boy who insists on playing his music for everyone in the subway despite being asked politely to turn it off,
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