Wednesday, April 29, 2009

abandoned dancing

books in my bookbag
the book of evidence – john banville (p 91)
the complete posthumous poems – cesar vallejo (“my chest wants and does not want”)
the manifest destiny of desire – jennifer key


yesterday I bought myself the pendant pictured here from a woman who likes to break plates. Here’s her shop. I also like to break things, but lighting my hair on fire often seems more appropriate. Can’t do it as often.

this looks like the 4th issue of sixth finch, but it’s my first. The poetry is good, but what’s really cool about this ezine is the artwork. Instead of combining poems with images, everything gets its own page. I like that. In this issue, I especially like S, J and J. I admit to being lured in by the initials. I like the retro of it, the matte. I like the framing by branches, buildings and water. The temperature looks perfect. But mostly I like the energy. Have these people just been shot? Are they doing some absolutely abandoned dancing? Are they gymnasts? Who the hell knows but pass me a daquiri and I’ll pull up my park bench for the duration.

morning shuffle
the book of right-on – joanna newsom
flowers of guatemala – rem
any major dude – steely dan
who by fire – leonard cohen
motorcycle mama – neil young

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ill fiction

The EU will no longer use the term "swine flu," it says, because it gives the wrong impression about the safety of pork. Okay. This of course has to do with the subsidies poured into the agriculture/livestock industries. Instead they will call it "novel flu." Lame, and apparently they don't give a shit about booksellers.

You will also no longer be able to get the chicken pox, salmonella or bird flu. Scarlet fever will turn some other color, preferably a shade not found in fruit. You'd think they'd devote more time to finding new terms for illnesses that are really offensive, like genital warts.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

switch to diminish

I have two poems in the new issue of Hobble Creek Review - Ghazal at Ebbtide and Inside the Little Picture. Hobble Creek does poems of place, and it's an interesting issue that also includes Rachel Mallino, Nic Sebastian and CE Chaffin. I was happy to have some poems accepted there.

My mother tells me it will reach 88 degrees F over in NJ today, and since heat figures in the poem Inside the Little Picture, here's the top of it -

Inside the Little Picture

In the kitchen, I’m fishing pieces
of cork rot from the bottle’s throat,
as if a little care and precision
could cure the world of its decreptitude.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

coat perfect fits

My poem yesterday was about Monopoly pieces. I still need to do the wheelbarrow, the shoe and the cannon, and spruce up the top hat.

I’ve never enjoyed Monopoly. It takes too long and it’s mean spirited. Nevertheless, on those occasions when I’ve had my arm twisted, my parental guilt stirred, or just lacked an excuse for not being available, I usually choose one of the homier tokens to be me on the board, ie the wheelbarrow, the shoe or the thimble. Of course, pyschologically, this reveals my lack of ambition. I never want to be the cannon because it’s obnoxious. And the iron, although among the homey pieces, looks too fragile. I’m lukewarm on the others. I read on the Hasbro site that the race car was voted the all-time favorite piece. Keep in mind the people who vote on that are the people who like Monopoly.

After the selection of the totem vehicle, Monopoly falls apart for me. It’s no fun unless you’re winning. And if you find winning Monopoly a pleasure, you’re something of a sadist.

When I moved to Germany it was disturbing to find out how the Monopoly street names were German streets! No more Marvin Gardens, no Park Place, no Baltic Avenue. This shouldn’t have surprised me, but it made the game all the less appealing. I mean, if I couldn’t visit the old haunts…

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

the end of asparagus

I have so few poems out, I’ve been browsing around for places to submit. This morning I found an ezine that doesn’t want any “love conquers all” poems. Many journals also warn against sending in erotic poetry, greeting card verse, political rant or patriotic poetry, religious poetry, Bukowski imitations, children’s verse, light verse and genre poetry, such as sci-fi or horror.

Still, it could be amusing to read hybrids. Like a Bukowski imitation with a shot of religion, such as “Shit-Faced with the Big Guy.” Or a Hallmark science fiction poem. Or a political rant for children. Or light horror, preferably involving zombies.

I’d also like to see unacceptable sorts mixed with acceptable sorts, like a surreal patriotic poem. “My Country At The End Of Asparagus.”

Or experimental greeting card verse. Anything but erotic greeting card verse, which has been done, and badly enough already.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

there goes the neighborhood

This morning in the half-dark of the park, the crazy tin-can man was making the rounds again, rifling through the garbage bins for deposit bottles. As usual he was talking to himself. It sounded like he was saying “Arbeit macht klein” (work makes you small), which I thought was pretty amusing, until I realized he was saying “Arbeit macht frei,” which was still somewhat funny considering the guy was “at work.” Still, a day after Hitler’s birthday, it’s creepy. Then I thought I heard him shouting “Sleep tight! Sleep tight!” but when I looked over I saw he was doing the Nazi salute and what he must have been saying was “Sieg Heil,” which is not only creepy but also illegal. Well, this was a side of the tin-can man I'd never seen before. I didn’t call the police...

This guy used to scare the crap out of me when I was out in the early hours with the dog, then it seemed he was harmless. Now I think I’ll let myself be scared again. Unfortunately the dog cowers behind me when she's frightened, making us strike an even more pathetic figure than either of us could on our own.

Friday, April 17, 2009

what sleep sounds like

I’ve been writing a poem every day and it’s not going so badly. Not that I’ve written anything of much value, but it hasn’t yet turned into fruitless torture. Yesterday I wrote a poem that ended with “Set your pirate to vibrate.” After walking the dog this morning I wrote a poem in which the sound of birds in the park by my house is compared to those big water coolers that light the corners of dusty offices.

I mentioned once before reading a review of a book about a woman who was cured of deafness in her 20’s or 30’s. People asked her what she found to be the worst sound and she said a crying baby. The best was birdsong. My favorite sound has always been the sound of water – either flowing in a stream, or raining, or bathwater sloshing around. I also like the glug glug of the water cooler, kind of clownlike and floppy, and in a weird way a combination of moving water with birdsong. At least that was what I thought this morning walking the dog in the rain.

I’m away for the weekend, listening to the Rhine, which sleep sounds like.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

put your money on orchids

According to my sources, today is Blog Reader Appreciation Day, which goes to show how crazy the world has gone. I've tried to crosscheck this, but according to this site, it's actually National Eggs Benedict Day, and I am trying to remember if that involves spinach.
Nevertheless, thanks for reading my blog. And if you are reading my blog please stop now and go read Nic Sebastian's Very Like a Whale, where she reviews my chapbook In the Voice of a Minor Saint.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My thoughts about boots

My thoughts about boots are this: boots are good.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

rain rubs the spoons

There's a tea shop in town that sells the very sexy teas of Mariages Freres. I visited there often about a year ago just to smell the teas, and rub the leafy crumbs around in my fingers. I wrote some poems about the different varieties, but then threw most of them away, leaving a series of fragments. The short series is up today at Fraglit, a journal of fragmentary writing.

& in case the tea's too bitter, have it with some hilarious cake.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

in which the straw outsmarts us

Expressions let the Germans make the dumb among them even dumber than elsewhere. The most common simile expressions with "dumb" are dumm wie Stroh, or dumb as straw, and dumm wie Brot, or dumb as bread.
Compared to the Germans, the English expressions seem dull. What do we have? Dumb as a post, which nobody uses, and dumb as an ox.
Ok, a post is dumb, but if you put a piece of bread in a bowl of warm water you'll see that it's much stupider. Straw, to take it further, is surely the dumbest of the dumb. It looks dumb, and it just lies around collecting Schmutz.
I find the expression dumm wie Brot particularly hilarious. Do you think one day someone was just staring at a piece of bread and it dawned on him that bread is not very smart?
Of course in English we also say dumb as hell, but we use this noun too much, revealing a poverty of imagination. Hot as hell, cold as hell, expensive as hell, ugly as hell, or, for variety, shit - dumb as shit, ugly as shit... etc! Kind of loses its punch, no?
Of all these -bread, straw, post and ox- the ox must surely be the least dumb. If all these dumb things got together, he'd surely be named leader.
G.K. Chesterton wrote a book about St. Thomas Aquinas called "Dumb Ox." Here's the blurb - notice how straw weasels its way into the story...
'This brilliant sketch of the life and thought of Thomas Aquinas is as relevant today as when it was first published in 1933. It will introduce the wondrous mystery of the man who, after a life of unparalleled genius, was seized by a vision of Our Lord and said, "I can write no more. I have seen things which make all my writings like straw." St. Albert the Great said of Aquinas, "You call him a Dumb Ox; I tell you that the Dumb Ox will bellow so loud that his bellowing will fill the world!"'

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

reply all

I was at the social security counseling center today. I'd come armed with documents. I had diplomas and birth certificates. I had proof of previous unemployment. I had my American accent and German grammar. I had my residence permit, the deed to my house and all my teeth. Pay stubs. I had my high school transcript. I had the approval for two maternity leaves. I had trouble explaning Italy. I'd had trouble understanding Italy, though there was a shop on the other side of the Via Manzoni that just clicked. I’d brought a picture of me in a bikini. The counseler asked me about my husband. I tried spelling that. Damn, he wasn’t making it easy. He asked me if I was an artist and I asked why that. Because I was wearing the same socks and underwear as yesterday? I don’t change that quickly. Even as we spoke I was racking up brownie points. I didn’t tell him about the poem in my bookbag about a pornographic spatula, and he wasn't bright enough to ask.

Friday, April 03, 2009

now i become scientifically tired

I have two poems in the new issue of Literary Bohemian. One is clumped into one wadded stanza; the other is chopped up irregularly like salad greens.

It was warm here today, but I was dressed nicely in a blouse and my daughter was crying on the phone. I must admit that a little shopping and some jelly beans solved her problems, at least temporarily. That's the way it is with problems.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

get out your apeshit

I don't really care about the vernal equinox or the muds of late March; for me, the first day of spring is always April 1. Of course it's also the start of National Poetry Month, when everybody gets out their apeshit spacesuits and starts writing. I'm hoping to do the same, though I recently finished a 30-day challenge that left me gasping. The Poetic Asides blog is offering an online challenge I had hoped to participate in. But at 2 pm in the European afternoon, the daily prompt had not yet appeared, making mine a poem-in-less-than-half-a-day challenge, which is overly challenging for someone who turns off the lights at 9 pm. The rules allow you to catch up, ie you can post your poem for any (and every) day anytime before New York midnight Apr. 30. But that's not really poem-a-day, now is it?

Anyway, none of this is important. The only important thing in Emmanuel Polanco, the collage artist who provided the image for my chapbook. He has all kinds of ravishing new things up on his site, not the least of which is a series of raven collages inspired by E.A. Poe.

i'm gonna buy you a superball

Whenever I see Hello Kitty I think of the day I spent in Japan. I was traveling from China to New Jersey and my connecting flight got canceled. The airline bussed us out to a Tokyo hotel, where I made the acquaintance of two mustachioed oriental rug dealers who were on the same small flight.

We marveled at the shot-size cans of coke sold in the vending machine outside the restaurant. I really wanted one, full or empty, but all I had was a restaurant voucher.

In my hotel room, when I spread my arms out in bed, I could touch the opposite walls. In terms of floor space, the largest area was under the chair tucked under the desk, where I stashed my purse.

I can’t begrudge the pinch. Of the 16,500 days in my life, I’ve only had room for one day in Japan.

A lot of people have asked what my position is regarding Hello Kitty. To me she is like those little coke cans. One of the rug dealers bought one. Drinking it, he planted his bowtie mustache on its small head. This was the mouth-watering birth of Hello Kitty in my imagination, even though at that time she hadn’t been invented yet.

I don’t know Hello Kitty personally but when I see her on my infrequent jaunts through accessories I think of my tiny night in Japan. Not even room for a comma.
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