Tuesday, September 29, 2009

so help me rhonda

I wrote a short piece on Mairéad Byrne’s offbeat book of prose poems “Talk Poetry” for ReadWritePoem today. I highly recommend the book, which is occasionally wild and often hilarious.

At the last minute I emailed to ask if RWP needed a photo of the poet. To my relief, the answer was no; they’d be using an image of the book. Personally I can be put off by poet photos, especially when it’s placed right next to a poem. It disturbs my reading. I’m easily influenced, and people often look confusingly different than what I want them to look like.

Here some famous writers, looking sensitive: Exhibit A, B, C, D, E.
(This is the interactive part - put them in order: Louise Glück, Ian McEwan, Lola Haskins, Schiller, Kathryn Harrison)

That said, I’m usually more than happy to provide a photo of myself if a publication asks. Maybe because I’m a cross between knock-out gorgeous and hillbilly fugly, and I’m amassing a middle-aged roll in my middle which never appears in the photo, and if there’s a camera around I either address it or avoid it, but don’t stand still and gaze longingly towards the horizon.

If you’d like to see a moving picture of Mairéad Byrne with a poem coming out of her mouth, click here.

serial comma

The neighbors all said he seemed like a nice enough guy. If you went by his yard when he was out mowing the lawn, sometimes he'd wave, or shout "hello!" or "have a good one!" But mostly he kept to himself. One lady remembered he came to a barbecue two summers ago, bringing with him a real nice layer cake.

Friday, September 25, 2009

They say I shot a man named Gray

Blue is widely accepted among men and is considered a masculine color. It is associated with stability and is the color most often chosen for corporate logos: Cobalt– Baby Blue – Cadet Blue – Blue Chip

Blue represents the sky, sea and all bodies of water, symbolizing depth and striving, faith, confidence and truth: Aquamarine – Sky Blue – Azure – True Blue – Sapphire

Blue is considered salubrious to body and soul. It slows down the metabolism and exudes calm. It is associated with serenity and spirituality, quietude and boredom: Cerulean – Pale Blue – Indigo – Pacific - Kansas Blue

While often used to connote health, blue also suggests psychological sadness and depression. It is also the color of illness affecting the respiratory tract and sinuses: Moody Blue – Chronic Blue – Fluesy Blue – Bell Bottom Blues

Blue is not tasty. Liquid, yes, but not juicy. Blue suppresses the appetite and should not be used to promote cooking and food. Blue sits at the right hand of God and that is why God created no blue foods. (For food, please refer to the chapter on deep reds and gold/brown.)

Blue is the color of trust and bonding, determination, strength and endurance: Steel Blue – Bondage Blue – Black-n-Blue – Backlash Blue – Blue Velvet

Blue is the color of drunkeness and stupor: Frost Blue – Vodka – Periwinkle – Nocturnal Blue

Blue is suited to promoting products relating to cleanliness and comfort, like cleaning fluids, air conditioners, spas and sparkling water: Turquoise – Blue Green – Ultramarine – Mineral Blue

Blue is the color of mystery and of sleep, both soft and profound: Powder Blue – Cornflower – Midnight Blue – Bluesuede Blue – Smoke

Blue is a conservative color and can represent jingoism and an inability to change: RedWhite& Blue – French Blue – RedWhite&Blue – Navy – RedWhite&Blue

On the color spectrum, blue epitomizes cold, especially as it approaches white: Arctic Blue – Bluelips Blue – Icicle – Blizzard Blue

Blue is the color of innocence: Alice Blue – Robin’s Egg Blue – Lapis – Faience

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

i've taken up with the shape of the grass

The new issue of Right Hand Pointing is out, which includes three short poems of mine: Library, What I Read in the Paper and Infidelity.

Welcome you reading!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

1 of the 1,000 Pieces of Bullshit You May Have to Eat Before You Die

I was reading a wine column the other day and this guy wrote in for advice about a wine he found in his deceased uncle’s cellar, saying what year it was, which region, which grape and which vintner, and asking all worried like whether the wine expert thought it would be okay to drink. It sounded like he’d been pondering this for weeks if not months. The columnist replied with his well-considered opinion, as well as two book recommendations and some lore about the vineyard the wine came from. Jesus, I thought, what is wrong with you people? Yadda yadda.

Taste and see.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Death of the Marlboro Man

His wounds were sewn with smoke. His coma embraced the smell of suede and anise, cordwood, and all the stars stuck in tar. The prognosis was not good: one moment he’d look sound, the next he’d vaporize. The cowboys gathered round his bedside couldn’t know that just then he was having the sweetest dream; his stitches scarcely twitched to show it. Mist tangled the valley grasses. It nested in his beard and mustache; it permeated his pelt of hair, settling around him like ropes. Those old boys left the room, teary-eyed, switching off the overhead on the way out. From behind the curtain, the nurse spoke. “Let me tell you about my addiction,”she said, patting her book of matches, drying her hands on a side of beef.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Mr. Swayze was a balletically athletic actor who rose to stardom in the films “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost,” and whose battle with pancreatic cancer drew wide attention. – NYT

Balletically? Is this a word? I guess it is now. But it’s a goofy word and I promise not to use it. I’m sure the French won’t touch it either. I’m with them. What’s really sad about this supposed word is you are now forced to pronounce the /t/. Ballet. This is wrong.

Are you balletically inclined? Balletically oriented? Balletically pathetic?

I asked my colleague Geoff if balletically is a word. He assured me balletic is a word, but that balletically is not. I didn’t want to believe it, but Webster’s backs him up on both counts. Another online dictionary acknowledges balletically. Either way, I agree with Geoff when he says: “The question is not whether it’s a word. The question is whether or not the NYT can’t express it less awkwardly.” Thank you, Geoff. (Who then sheepishly added, “I guess he had the time of his life,” and ran off.)

It’s no surprise that words morph, and what was a noun is suddenly a verb (I knifed him) and vice-versa (That’s a miss), which then becomes an adjective (The poem is wordy), then the adjective becomes an adverb (just add -ly), or an adjective becomes a noun (My bad!) and so on. The surprising thing in terms of balletically is this usually happens at the vernacular level through the speech of ordinary people. Who are not often discussing ballet.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

of cummings

wild trump of April, sudden parody of snow,
currency of faint cities, dangerous looseness of doom,
thin despair of violin, undream of anaesthetized impersons,
measureless cool flames of making, early flowers of all things,
bulge and nuzzle of the sea, picker of buttercups,
subliminal fern of her delicious voice, rubbish of human rind,
soft adventure of undoom, frown of the grave great sensual knees,
tiny hinge of flesh, long flower of unchastity, lump of twilight,
cadence of our grey flesh, dooms of love, dooms of feel,
peaceful theorems of the flowers, god of everlasting war,
tree of jubilee, cheerfulest goddamned sonofabitch,
chuckling rubbish of pearl weed coral and stones,
treasure of tiniest world, time of daffodils(who know,
genuine delusion of embryonic omnipotence, depths of guess,
cringing ecstacies of inexistence, whisper of a whisper,
strictly scientific parlourgame of real unreality,
sharp soft worms of spiraling, Big postmaster of the Art of Jigajag,
the top of notwithstanding, power of your intense fragility,
white eyes of elsewhere, dim deep sound of rain, broken odds of yes,
new england fragrance of pasture, lucky fifth of you,
virginal immediacy of precision, busted statues of your motheaten forum,
leaping greenly spirits of trees, nobel mercy of proportion,
all matterings of mind, echo of the flower of dreaming,
ghostly nevers of again, bliss of one small lady,
din of wallowing male, (children of)dirtpoor (popes

Thursday, September 10, 2009

month of sundays

Saul Foarster is without a doubt one of the most important writers to emerge in the last decade. One of the most important writers working in English, I mean, in the decade that began in 2000. One of the most important writers in English in the decade that started in 2000 who is from the southwest. Specifically, from Mayes County, OK. Of the male writers from there. Hell, you can forget the “one of” – Foarster is the most important mustachioed male writer to emerge in the decade beginning in 2000 writing in English born on a Thursday in Mayes County, OK. In the science fiction genre, of course.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

butta la pasta

In China I knew a guy who was a real foodie, meaning food was pretty much all he talked about. Somehow every conversation morphed into a monologue on broccoli, or parsley, or new things to do with peanut butter. Eventually people started cutting him off. You’d ask him what time it was and it was either breakfast or lunch time, or Peking duck season. I’m not one of those people who think cooking is a work of art, though it’s nice to have friends who do. Mostly I’d rather be doing something else. It’s a let-down to cook for 2-3 hours to have people finish eating in 10 minutes. Then the clean-up. To be honest, I’m not even that much into eating. But I do like looking at pictures of food in glossy cookbooks. It must be akin to what a teenage boy feels leafing through Playboy, and the objects of desire are just as unattainable. Mostly if I don’t have to feed anyone but myself I just take down the box of cornflakes and spread a handful out on the table. No bowl or anything, though I might wash it down with milk. From the carton. This saves doing dishes. I pick through the cornflakes, eating and browsing, searching for the jackpot piece that looks like Illinois.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

friday confession, on saturday

I really like the word dude. I know it reeks of creeps and is mostly a joke, and I never use it, but I think it is hysterical. I laugh just thinking about it. Sometimes when I'm down, I start pronouncing it all kinds of ways in my mind. I would like to use it aloud sometime, but I’m afraid. What if someone thought I was serious?! Sheesh, that would be that! Elsewhere, whenever I go to America I’m surprised how widespread the use of the word awesome is, at least among the under-40s, but also among some over-40s I know. I really don’t like the word awesome. I think it’s hyperbolic and kind of fake, like when you bite into a croissant and all these flakes go flying and you think, well, goodbye, I wasn’t destined to eat you. I guess it’s a generational thing. I have maybe once used awesome as a test. Which is more than I can say for dude. Other than that, I read something recently that said only middle-aged people (and older) use the expression “Jesus Christ!” I have to say I use that expression whenever I need it, but other than in movies I can’t recall any other living person saying it. I must be the oldest person left alive.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


I was practicing my eavesdropping today. It started at the doctor’s office where I went to get my tick vaccination. I was waiting to give the assistant my insurance card but she was on the phone with a woman whose period was one day late. Apparently the woman had forgotten to take the pill every day and with her period one day late she wanted an immediate appointment and pregnancy examination. This must have been a young woman. I felt kind of bad for her having her problem broadcast all over the doctor’s office, but she was of course anonymous. The assistant didn’t exactly generate any warmth, either. She treated her like a dumb cow. Why doesn’t Germany have a higher suicide rate, I sometimes wonder.

My second attempt was on the train. There was a boy of about 9 telling a girl that his cousin had been shot, shot to death, he stressed. He was talking pretty low so I didn’t catch the whole thing and I’d already moved as close as possible without being obvious. But I did find out the two guys who killed the cousin escaped. I also found out that the cousin’s great-grandfather also died, but that he was 100 years old. I found this way of winding up of the conversation - the "light note" - very sophisticated for a 9-year old.

I'm doing this eavesdropping for a prompt over at Read Write Poem. Don’t know if I’ll get a poem out of it, though, despite the decent material.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Two funny brunettes have birthdays today: Lily Tomlin and my dog Stella!

Stella's all of four today. I got her a huge bone that took at least an hour to chew through, working alone and all.

I don't know what Lily Tomlin got - surely something else.

In any case, she couldn't have been as excited as Stella, who was happily exhausted when it was all over.

Stella occasionally turns up in a poem. Although she can be a pain in the ass, in poems she usually appears as a force for good. Here's one in which she's the main figure rather than a supporting actress.
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