Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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.

When the temperature hits 80, I switch to white because
while I have two rivers running in me, in summer I need three.

The third flows, as da Vinci says, like hair. Mine plaits, glacial,
blonde as Sauvignon, braid traipsing into whisker, turning drip to lurk.

White alleviates the heat, strikes a fire the size of a pearl,
summons slumber sweet as an infant’s arm, and that long.

Summer demands drastic measures.Heat on, I switch to diminish,
maneuvering a sieve to excavate the last cork bits, my rivers dwindling.

The bigger bits of world crumble outside without me, ice caps I can’t trap
in glass, in retreat beneath a ceiling fan invoking scope scope scope.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I put on Shalimar this morning.
It takes a lot of nerve to put on Shalimar before going to work.
In the morning!
But I did. A drop here, a drop there. Ping, ping.
As far as I'm concerned there's nothing more I have to do.

Monday, June 28, 2010

bundle up

Last week of school!
Is this good? I think it’s good. It means no more schoolwork, i.e. a six-week respite from striving, nagging, reminding and helping kids study for tests with generally little payoff. No more going upstairs to wake everybody up, then waking them up again, making them coffee and/or cereal and looking for their books, jeans, notebooks, plastic jesus, shoes, keys, etc. No more needling them to brush their teeth and having to police that action. No more 2 euros for this, 4 euros for that, 12 euros for the class trip to whatever, and writing “please excuse” notes for whoever was poorly or late or forgetful. No more strict bedtimes complete with nagging about brushing their teeth, preparing their backpacks, getting off the horn, brushing their teeth, putting rubber bands on their braces, getting in bed n-o-w. Did I mention toothbrushing? IT IS THE LIFELONG MOST IMPORTANT THING!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Try to understand me.
It’s because I just gave up smoking.
I suffer from blackouts.
It was the booze talking.
I was prescribed the wrong meds.
I was abused by my mother/priest/other children.
I was raised by celebrities.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

the gradual nap

On the couch I embarked on a gradual nap.
It began with the typical resistance of struggling to reopen the eyes.
The book I was reading was interesting, but not unsleepably interesting.
So I decided to go ahead and comply.
The eyes get tired you know, doing that reality check all day.
But first I put the bookmark in and put down the book.
I felt good, but soon got more serious.
I pulled the throw blanket over me and tucked it in, thinking,
as I always do at such moments, of that scene in The Naked and The Dead
where a soldier with bad kidneys has to sleep on the cold ground.
(This makes me thankful for the blanket.)
Then I moved the pillows from behind to the side of me,
being careful not to wake myself up as I keeled over.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The river was getting ahead of itself

The new Prick of the Spindle is up and includes four of my poems: Clothespin, Dance Machine, For a Woman Who Hates the Word 'Moist' and Chowder.

Kathleen Kirk also reviews my chapbook in this issue! Click here and scroll down. I was very relieved that she liked it. She asks me some questions about the poems, too, over at her blog. Thanks, Kathleen.

Prick of the Spindle has a bunch of books available for review, mostly poetry. They’ll mail a copy to you – check out their list.

Elsewhere, Bateau has accepted my poem Dictionary Illustrations, a topic I’ve blogged about. And I have received rejections recently from 32 Poems, Front Porch and Cerise! Back to the drawing board.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I've failed at triumph

I thought The Diary of a Country Priest was one of those books that comes with a “guarantee.” But of course no book comes with a blanket guarantee. Still, I’d read only glowing reviews and boy was I ready for a “triumphant experience.” But on p. 26 I couldn’t make heads or tails of what I was really reading about. On p. 54 the voice of the innocent and well-meaning young priest began to irk the shit out of me. On p. 55 I skipped ahead to see if anything would ever actually happen to dilute all the fluffy introspection and it didn’t look promising. On p. 64 I took the kitty to the well and drowned it.

Ach! If only I lived near a (English) library I’d run so much less risk of wasting money on books. The back cover says $15.95! I checked my order though, and thanks to Amazon, I paid “just” $11.48 for The Diary of a Country Priest, so I feel a few dollars better already. Plus I ordered it along with The Shadow of Sirius and Blood Meridian, both of which paid off. Sirius cost $10.88 but was really worth about $17.89, and Blood Meridian cost $10.20 but was easily worth $13.86. So actually I only lost 81 cents in this deal, which I guess I could toss in without regret for shipping and handling, making this personal failure easier to swallow.

I’m returning to this century now. Nice to see you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

I am stumped by Rep. Barton's statement yesterday in which he apologized to BP:

I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case a $20 billion shakedown.”

I know I've been away a long time. I'm practically Rip Van Winkle, but what is "the first proportion?" Is there also a last proportion?

I had another "whaaa?" moment today reading a CNN opinion piece:

"Just when you thought Arizona lawmakers couldn't stoop any lower, these cowardly and shameful politicians grab a shovel and put in a basement."

Okay. They get a shovel and put it in the basement.

Are they stooping while they do this?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ye rosebuds

My poem In Frankfurt Cemetery is up at Opium. I love cemeteries, and Frankfurt's is a beauty. Best park in town, really, and no annoying frisbee chuckers. The bad thing about this cemetery, however, is you basically "rent" your plot. That means that 10 years or so after you've been buried, you need to renew your lease. But of course you are dead! They smack these awful "expiry" stickers on the gravestone saying you should visit the admistration. But of course you have already expired! I do suppose there is an eternal deal available, but probably only for the very rich.

Although I didn't submit it that way, somehow my middle name slipped in whole alongside the poem. I kind of like it like that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

I am not a sports buff but I do enjoy the World Cup because it takes my husband and kids off my hands. In fact it takes the whole world off my hands. Despite being a news agency, for example, my office has made arrangements so folks can watch during work hours if it’s an important game (read: Germany is playing).

There was another payoff this morning with a linguistic controversy. Following a goal by Miroslav Klose for the German team, a tv commentator said that for Klose the goal must be an “innere Reichsparteitag.” I thought, “Reichsparteitag? As in huge Nazi gathering in Nuremberg with hyperexcitement and populist adrenaline?”

Yup, the very one. It turns out that an inner Reichsparteitag is when this event seems to take place inside you. It’s a euphoric feeling, a good thing – as long as you don’t say so in public. Because any reference to anything Nazi is a no-no, especially in a way that could be construed as positive. Ok, I get it, but I do enjoy the image of having a crowd whoop it up inside you.

The unfortunate choice of expression was all over the papers and web this morning. I talked to a few colleagues about it, two of whom were shocked to hear it used on tv, another who herself wasn’t sure what it meant. I thought it was both funny ha-ha and funny peculiar, because of that image, and the phrase’s origin and construction.

But it doesn’t matter what I think. What did the Central Council of German Jews have to say? Although they said such expressions rightfully beg examination, they also advised those who were offended “against over-exaggeration and hysteria,” and suggested instead enjoying the German team’s win.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

lunar rover

My prose poem "Can't we put them all there" is up today at Leveler. This site publishes a new poem every Sunday along with a short explication/appreciation of the poem called "levelheaded."

"Can't we put them all there" actually came about one day when I realized how many ladders I'd recently seen serving no obvious purpose. No wall being painted. No painting being hung. The climber, I supposed, might just be visiting the ceiling.

Welcome you enjoy.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Two nights ago we had a big thunderstorm. The whole night it seemed the sky was more often lit up with lightning than dark with night time. But most impressive was the thunder, the loudest I’ve ever heard. Like giant bones breaking. Like boulders hurled at concrete. But the next morning, all along the sparkling sidewalks, there was no real damage to speak of.

Last night we had another storm of strong wind and rain. It sounded like we were swooshing around in a washing machine. Not much thunder or lightning, and yet this morning when I took the dog out, fat branches were downed all over the park, and even trees. One that the dog and I visit often was wrenched out of the ground, its roots severed, leaving a soupy black grave. It was sad, I told the dog, and so improbable. I’m going to miss that tree.

song of the day: As

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Barrel Vaulted Room

Most serious readers are likely familiar with the great list of books put out by NYRB – the New York Review of Books. Not only do they have an amazing selection, but their cover design is invariably gorgeous, practically a reason in itself to buy some of their titles. I loved the cover of Stoner and The Pilgrim Hawk and Novels in Three Lines, but the stark beauty of A Sorrow Beyond Dreams tops them all.

The cover is a photograph by James Casebere called "A Barrel Vaulted Room." I’m afraid you can’t appreciate it fully here but the tone is a chalky greenish grey, cool and institutionally atmospheric. It’s bare, monochromatic and somehow sumptuous in its austerity. Even the cot may be made of stone. It looks more like a painting than a photograph, not least because of its simplicity. And weirdly enough, the photograph looks even better with the black NYRB title square plunk in the middle, pulling the shadows in the photograph to the forefront.

A Sorrow Beyond Dreams itself is a memoir of Peter Handke’s mother, which he wrote after her she killed herself at the age of 51. For me, what the cover does in relation to the story is emphasize the solitude and loneliness each of us lives with, how permanent it is. Really a wonderful pairing.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

there's so much sunday

I've got three poems in the new issue of Avatar Review:

On Waking I Think Of Winter
Aunt Bobbie's Almanac
There's So Much Sunday

Avatar, which existed well before the popular film that I've never seen, is an annual, an unusual thing for an online zine. But it is very FULL, so that you could break it up and spend the whole year reading it.

Which I suggest.

I also got word yesterday that Opium online took my poem In Frankfurt Cemetery, one of my favorites. Because I love the Frankfurt Cemetery. It also did a cameo in my poem Despair, sort of, being the eternal resting place of Mr. Schopenhauer.

Friday, June 04, 2010


My dear son turns 12 today. He was born in the morning, by wonderful c-section, like a real king. Due to doctorly screw-up I was completely knocked out, and when I woke up and they finally brought me this fat baby, I said he looked 'kind of blue.' Just another reason to name him Miles.

Miles loves dogs and skateboards and meat and potatoes. He can play piano. He is reading Rick Riordan's trilogy about Percy Jackson and the Greek gods. I'm very happy about that because I spent years trying to get him to WANT to read, including brute force. He falls asleep quickly. He likes to draw. He's into hoodies and watching bugs do their thing. He has just learned to swallow aspirin! I hope he will not have to do this too often in life.

photo compliments of Uncle Thatch

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Outlook Tool

Dear Sir or Madam,
Thank you for contacting me. I am currently having a out-of-office experience. I am floating in a depersonalized state around the office ceiling, soaking up the upward glow of the rows of fluorescent lights. From here I have been able to observe details previously unknown to me: 1) the ficus in reception needs water, 2) there’s a bald spot without pity growing atop M.’s big head, 3) behind the filing cabinet in Dept. 3K lies the innocence I'd assumed I’d lost forever. If I thought of it at all, I thought the office was an empty shell when I was not there, but here it is humming right along. There's a strong gravitational pull near my work station, but today it turns out I’m weightless. Thank you for contacting me. Rest assured that on Monday, fully clothed and back in my physical body, I will arrive punctually at my desk.

song of the day: baby, you're a rich man

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


So it's June and I learned a new word: submersible.

At first I read it as "submersile," which sounds like a weapon.
Then it looked like "summersible," something that weathers summer well.

Breaking it down, I thought I would never use submerse; I would use submerge. That's why I don't like submersible.

The word submersible came up in an article about BP's latest attempt to stop the oil spill with robots. If a robot functions underwater, it is submersible.

I really hate to think too long about what a catastrophe this is, and distract myself with words.

Can something be submergible, alternatively? I'd like that.
And immersible? Must be.

If you take a full-immersion language course, you are that which is immersible.
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