Monday, January 31, 2011

uncomfortable truths

1. Uncertainty make us uncertain.
2. Crippling cripples us.
3. Hardship is hard.
4. If you get past p. 182 of The Fellowship of the Ring, you are a dork.

I know most of this from experience, and this silly parody makes me laugh, but doesn't dissuade me in my dorky love.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

People I met this week

Conference Room
KD is in charge the new company project. KD is Zen-like. When I was called in for a private audience, he took a quiet interest in my thoughts. Although I think the project is very cool, I really hope my thoughts on it are not that important.

Baseler Platz
Asked me if I smoke. Nope. Why doesn’t anyone smoke, he wanted to know. I said it was the times. Still, even if I didn’t smoke, did I know where there was a cigarette automat? Nope.

Baseler Platz ii
This one had facial hair that seemed almost painful. She asked me something I didn’t understand, but I figured she was asking for money. I went into the bank. When I came out I had money. I knew that. She knew that. I don’t know if she was asking for money but I gave her some.

Office Corridor
As tall as he is, he must often feel left out.

Psycho on the train, blocking the door between cars with outstreched arms. I squeezed under him and watched the other victims come in. What an asshole. “Entschuldigung angenommen,” he kept saying, meaning “apology accepted.” For everyone’s sake, I am glad firearms are not readily available in this country, for there are lots of pissed-off people here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

irish emblem

I learned a great word today, shambolic, meaning disorganized or confused. I like it because it sounds so much like shamanic, and according to the dictionary sprang from the rib of shambles about 40 years ago. But what made it really fun was I read it in the context of the breakdown of the Irish government after the Green party abandoned the coalition, which couldn't help but bring to mind - in two ways - the shamrock.

Sometimes it is easy to make me happy. Not because of the Irish government, of course, but because of confluence.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


If you go to get a haircut with your daughter, it’s nice if they seat you beside one other so you can watch each other’s progress.

But it’s also nice if your daughter is led off to a completely different room where you forget about her.

If you’re in the same room, you’re available to help her when she asks you to look in your purse for stuff she wants/needs, like gum or her cell phone, while the hairdresser is busy with scissors near your eyes, ears and neck.

If you’re in different rooms, you can think about whatever you want. Something interesting like the book you're reading, or what you’d do if you had $2 million dollars.

Of course if you’re in the same room you can get into a four-way conversation with the offspring and the hairdressers about rap music, or the clubs downtown, or, you know, what you studied in school (30 years ago).

If you're in different rooms you might be able to tell the hairdresser what you want done without being distracted.

But if you’re in the same room, it’s nice to look in the next mirror and see your daughter, whose hair is very pretty even though she is not sitting up straight.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

electric slumber

It was my day off and I finished Mrs. Dalloway, which was excellent. I got two false starts in other bad books before beginning it, and it was like a balm on all that awfulness.

I also went downtown and bought some stuff.

When I got back, I had an email from an ezine that uses audio and they wanted to know if Sloat rhymes with goat. Yes, it does! It does, gladly and without resistance.

I have a poem up at Eclectica, along with my friend Toni Clark. It’s a graveyard poem, as always on my rambles through Frankfurt’s gorgeous cemetery.

Otherwise the day went too fast and where did it go? To the minnows and swallows and people who cheat on their taxes. And I did have to make two work-related phone calls. And take two dog walks.

Next up: Schnitzel.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Well I finally gave in a read an article about the new astrological sign and found out I was not only affected but indeed I AM the new astrological sign, the ‘snake annoyer’ or Upanishad or whatever it’s called. Pretty cool except as a (former) Sagitarrius I felt a real kinship with the archer Legolas and always had a good excuse for making a horse’s ass of myself. Alas. Of all that was left I’ve kept nothing, as Pierre Reverdy likes to say.

While we’re at it, we should add a few more signs: the Clonus, who blends in with the crowd, and the Yoko├Ânus, who can be a burden, for example.

I never read horoscopes anyway. Who did? And the only reason Pisces were considered quiet, unworldly introverts was because we have very little experience of the lives of fish, their being underwater most of the time. It isn't a matter of fish-like traits.

In any case, let’s celebrate the demolition of an industry of fraud and mass deception!

Friday, January 14, 2011


An acquaintance (read ‘facebook friend’) recently complained that some of the passersby in some flash mob video just failed to catch the enthusiasm and walked by as if nothing were happening. This particular flash mob was a wedding that “spontaneously” occurred in what seemed to be a shopping mall, complete with jubilant musicians and flower girl. Whatever. I’ve also seen a bunch of Hallelujah choruses and sycnopated dancing and generally loopy skip-to-my-loo.

I have sometimes enjoyed watching these, despite the nagging feeling that they are the utmost in schmaltz, and the fear that pernicious hormones would eventually seize my vulnerable brain.

Not to side with the naysayers, but some of those people passing by without clapping or collapsing in collective orgasm may just be tired of the “Everybody is a Star” mentality and apparently insatiable need for attention that has gripped the population like an syndrome. A rash! An infection!

If someone followed you around watching your every move, you’d freak out a little bit, no? Sure, because it's the legal version of voyeurism. So why on the other hand when a clutch of obviously attention-starved exhibitionists thrusts its amateur theatrics in everyone’s face is it considered “cute?” Even if the naughty bits are left out, it’s a form of exhibitionism that some don’t want to support or participate in, innocuous as it might be.

Some people are just getting on with their lives and errands and worries and personal joys, which they manage through good taste or good breeding or greed to keep to themselves. Oh well, I guess I am a humbug. On top of which, these days, when I encounter a public commotion I run for my life.

On that note, let me point out the terrific collage above by Dayna Thacker, “Breathing Room.” Check out her site, which is full of cool collages using printed matter.

Monday, January 10, 2011

long swim

I've had some good news which is dancing girl press accepted my chapbook manuscript "Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair" for publication. July. I'm very glad.

The funny thing was I got the acceptance notice on Friday, the same day I won a bottle of Rioja in the office tombola. And there is a poem called "Rioja" in the chapbook! There is also a poem about the dictionary, money and riding backwards on the train. And Weimar and bees and reindeer. Poems galore.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


When I don’t know what to do I consult my album of German stamps.

Should I read a book about Chernobyl?
Here is a stamp of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who was raised in an environment “open to the world, with humanitarian values and educational ideals.” Yes, I should read a book about Chernobyl.

Should I take it easy tonight or set my house in order?
Here is a stamp celebrating “Astronomy – 400 years of Kepler’s Laws,” the first of which says the orbits of the planets are ellipses, with the sun at one focus of the ellipse. Whoa! I better get my house in order.

Why does Fernando Pessoa appeal to me so much?
Here is a page of stamps devoted to lighthouses. Lighthouses are those towering shoreline structures that keep the little boats from losing their way in the dark. That explains it!

Will I die in a German nursing home?
Here is a stamp commemorating 20 years of open border between Hungary and Austria. “The wall fell overnight, suddenly and unexpectedly.” I don’t know exactly what this indicates, but it strongly suggests I won’t die in a German nursing home. Hooray.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

with apologies to christopher smart

For I will consider the muse Donald Sutherland.
For he is whiskered as a complete cat might be whiskered.
For though he cannot fly he is accustomed to great heights.
For first he is a mixture of gravity and gangly.
For secondly he walks like a dinghy sinking.
For thirdly he reinvented sprawl with long appendages.
For fourthly he counteracts the powers of darkness with his sandy hair.
For fifthly God has blessed him with a variety of roles.
For he can dangle at all angles at the word of command.
For he is good to think on, if I may say so plainly.

With apologies also to Mary Ellen Mark, whose photo I have stolen and hung by my bathtub.

Monday, January 03, 2011

popgun and cloudburst

I got a black turtleneck for Christmas, a small that can be tucked in in the spirit of all things amphibial. It looks striking against the snow. The black turtleneck goes well with green, brown, tweed, pinstripes and grey. The black turtleneck also goes very well with black.

I made so many Christmas cookies I had to carry more than half of them into the new year: polar bears, sleighs, angels, crocodiles, squirrels, donkeys, Santas, churches and cats. What some of these have to do with Christmas I don’t know.

Like last year, my resolution is to eat more broccoli.
Like last year, this should not be difficult. If I eat four heads of broccoli I will surpass 2010 consumption.

I also intend to read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, War by Sebastian Junger, and Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein. My expectations are not high, a strategy that works for me.

On New Year’s Eve we participated in traditional German molybdomancy, a kind of divination. You melt lead over a flame then pour it into water. The shape the lead takes decides your fortune. M. got a dragon, which means “don’t get all worked up.” C. got a fish, which means “a bath would do you good.” Mine resembled a moon, which means “dreams will be fulfilled.”

It didn’t say whose dreams.

January 3 seems to me completely superfluous. I am wearing the black turtleneck. I would have preferred to stay home to watch 'The Lord of the Rings' triology a few million more times.

When I woke up, I asked, “where am I?,” a trick question posed only for the purpose of raising my bag-like body from bed.
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