Monday, April 30, 2012


I don't know what happened to this week. Here we are at the end of National Poetry Month, and I only managed to write anything within the last week, like a reluctant IV drip. Because of my trip over the ocean, I also didn't participate in any giveaways and wish I did. So here, with my last opportunity, I'm offering a couple of copies of my chapbooks (=2 altogether) to whoever is interested. Just tell me if you have one or the other and leave your snail mail and I'll choose at random, provided someone answers....

On that topic, Dave Bonta the other day reviewed Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair. Thanks Dave. Elsewhere earlier this month, a poet talked about my Book of Hours Ghazal at her blog. Thanks to her too!

Tomorrow is May Day in Germany, which is labor day, and I look forward now to a long sleep.

Monday, April 23, 2012


So where wasn't I? Montana, for one, and also Maine. But I did all the states that start with 'New,' including the southwestern one, and some one-word states, too. What did I learn on my traipse through the states? Mostly that crazy is given way too much air time. And that air time in general, even the supposedly serious talk shows, are against the serious.

On the upside, Americans love to interact. They gladly enter conversation. They stop your daughter on the street to say they like her hair, or lack of it. They ask you where you got your shirt. They call you darling and honey. Sometimes their zeal gets the better of them, as with the man who woke me up on the flight from Albuquerque to Houston to ask if I'd ever flown United. Well intentioned, I am sure. Even headphones could not stop his heart surgery. On another flight, after a guy across from me complained to the stewardess for the fourth time about the way she phrased something(!), the guy behind me told him politely to shut up.

I have been away. So long! I didn't get a chance until now to mention that I have three poems in the spring issue of Menacing Hedge: 'Snow Globe Shepherd,' 'Village' and 'Crepe Paper Body.' Like the label on the bottle in Alice in Wonderland might as well have said, "Read Me."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Set your monkey free

1. I always sleep alphabetically but last night God forgot and removed the W. I was sent back to sleep twice through the V.

2. In some parts of the world, the clocks are set back an hour at three in the afternoon rather than three in the morning. People sit back down to tea, and all the children who finished school at 2.30 are required to come back.

3. It’s an old story. I was in love but found the object of my desire terribly fickle – one hour cool, one hour on fire. Only at the bullring did it become clear that the matador with the floppy bangs had a twin brother.

4. As Chuang Tzu says: ‘To wear out your brain trying to make things into one without realizing they are all the same – this is called “three in the morning.” What do I mean by “three in the morning?” When the monkey trainer was handing out acorns, he said, “You get three in the morning and four and night.” This made all the monkeys furious. “Well, then,” he said, “you get four in the morning and three at night.” The monkeys were all delighted. There was no change in the reality behind the words, and yet the monkeys responded with joy and anger. Let them, if they want to.’

5. The year I spent in China was more like three years. At first the days were all equal, but soon moved unevenly as wheelbarrows pushed by a child. Pollution and endless exertion aged me threefold. The only way to offset this effect was to sleep all day, one brushstroke at a time. But once the Tiananmen Square massacre happened, time had spun out of control. When I set off for home it was as if one year were three. But three that flew by.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tears, who needs them

Cedar smells better than lilies, and does not sicken the audience as it fades.

Camus suffered from tuberculosis for years on end, an ailment compounded by heavy smoking, but a car accident killed him within seconds.

Exercising one's willpower over a bad habit just for the sake of saying so is exchanging one weakness for another.

In the barracks of Russian labor camps, those who had memorized stories were the most prized inmates.

What could ever be objective about choosing between the last names Motherwell and Frankenthaler?

I considered learning Spanish to read Garcia Lorca, but if I pursued that line with consistency I'd also have to learn Portuguese to read Pessoa, Polish to read Szymborska, Serbo-Croatian to read Vasko Popa, Russian to read Akhmatova, etc. etc. und so weiter.

The bulb throwing its dim light down the steps like grey fur.

Misread "abominable teeth" as "abdominal teeth."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I went to the Strand bookstore yesterday equipped with a notebook page of 55 writers' names - from Samuel Beckett to Marguerite Yourcenar - all from my Good Reads to-read list. For some of them I noted a particular book, but mostly I was going for anything. Due to time constraints, and various family members pursuing me, I made it only to fiction and poetry. 19 of the authors I looked for weren't there; another seven I found and decided against.

I came home with seven books, each the first I've bought by the respective writer. 

1. Wonderful Wonderful Times by Elfriede Jelinek. "It is the late 1950s. A man is walking in a park in Vienna. He will be beaten..." (I would have preferred The Piano Teacher, but they had this and Greed.)

2. The Nervous Filaments by David Dodd Lee. "Imagistic, passionate and uncompromising ... transforms the harsh realities we experience as brutal and permanent into transient informative moments of release." (The volume I wanted.)

3. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen. "Louis Drax is a boy like no other. He is brilliant and strange, and every year something violent seems to happen to him. On his ninth birthday, Louis goes to a picnic..." (I wanted The Ark Baby, but happy to give this a shot.)

4. Reader's Block by David Markson. "In this spellbinding, utterly unconventional fiction, an aging author who is identified only as Reader contemplates the writing of a novel. As he does, other matters insistently crowd his mind -literary and cultural anecdotes, endless quotations attributed and not, scholarly curiosities- the residue of a life's reading, which is apparently all he has to show for his decades on earth." (I wanted Vanishing Point, but no go.)

5. The Tanners by Robert Walser. "(Walser is) the dreamy, confectionary snowflake of German-language fiction." (I would have taken anything.)

6. The Garden Going On Without Us by Lorna Crozier. The poem 'Onions.' (Exactly the book I wanted.)

7. The Quincunx by Charles Pallier. "A remarkable book ... in mood, color, atmosphere and characters, this is Charles Dickens reincarnated. It is an immersing experience." (The book I wanted.)

Monday, April 09, 2012

from The Catalog of Swallowed Objects

Safety pins
Straight pins
Toy opera glasses
A quarter
Radiator key
Tin steering wheel
Umbrella tips
Toy dog
Burnt matches
The letter Z
A half-dollar
Beaded crucifix
Toy goat
A medallion that says 'Carry Me for Good Luck'

a book about the man who removed the objects
Related Posts with Thumbnails