Monday, May 28, 2012


I've written a series of poems about typefaces, all of which are imaginary (the typefaces, not the poems).  It occurred to me to write these after I'd read a number of books that had "Notes on the Type" at the end,  notes which in some cases seemed longer than the author's own biography.

Tangent: Though I guess if it's in his/her own book, it's actually an autobiography, written in the third person. Something to think about next time you're asked for a 50-word (auto)bio.

Anyway, two of my typeface poems were published today at Used Furniture Review. They concern 'Sognidhia' and 'Dardont Modern.' I hope you'll try them.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

circumlocution office

For the past two weeks or so all I've been able to think about is that I haven't yet read Little Dorrit. I tried to ignore it, but the inner reprimand/promise became insistent. It's got an orphan in it, I understand, and I love stories with orphans.

So I went to the downtown bookshop that has a good English selection and what did I see? A display of Charles Dickens books with bold, inviting covers - a classic dominating typeface dwarfing some poor cartoon-like character.

But of course the relatively obscure Dickens title, if anything by Dickens can be obscure, Little Dorrit, was not among the titles Vintage is publishing with the new covers, and the woman at the bookstore, who looked it up for me, said it looks like there's no plan to do so. Dang, I have read, and own, all these. So I left with my generic Penguin Little Dorrit, and it goddamned better be good.

Friday, May 18, 2012

the woolen crypt

Madrid. If you’d asked me a day ago if I’d ever set foot in the city, I would have said no. But yesterday I was having dinner in a pseudo-tapas restaurant that served Schnitzel and potato soup with wurst, and I remembered Madrid. I could barely recall why I went, or why I spent only one night. But there I was, out alone at 10 pm or so on a terribly busy square, dark and staircased, teeming with families. As the mother of small children at the time, I could only think it was a school night, and how would these children wake up on time. What a world, I thought, take me back to my cobblestones and mittens and punctual bedtimes. The memory was so vague I was almost afraid of it. But it came back. There were people waiting for me in a restaurant. I had a place to stay. It was the year Tom Jones had a comeback hit. Maybe that’s why I was blocking it.

In the less distant past, which I’ve barely had the opportunity to forget, a lot less exotic and mysterious things happened. There was, for example, a supposed tapas restaurant that served Schnitzel, and herring. Still, I do have some poems out concerning plants, birds, sleep and doodling. In honor of control freaks everywhere who like kids to go to bed on time, the Foundling Review has my poem Bonsai. And Curio Poetry published three of my poems, Spinning the Vines (ufos), Snooze Button (utmost reluctance) and Boone Hall (zoning laws). Be sure to read Dan Nielsen’s poems when you’re at Curio. You will be glad.

Song of the day: Sex Bomb

Monday, May 14, 2012

i sing of Olaf

I’ve lived in Germany so long I’m thinking of changing my name to Wolfgang. I like it most because it’s got a wild animal in there, and though you may think it refers to a gang of wolves, “Gang” in English means “gait,” so it is more like “(s)he who walks like a wolf.” Which could practically be a movie.

Not for me Lothar or Uwe or Klaus or Ulrich. As for women’s names, well, there just aren’t any I’m crazy about, except maybe Kunigunde. But the last time a girl was given such a name was around 1230, so it would be difficult to wear comfortably. 

Most people have, at least as children, come up with a name they would have preferred to have. My son, for example, wishes I’d gone with Jack instead of Miles. An acquaintance, whose son’s name is Max, says the boy complains that that’s a dog’s name. 

I have wondered if we give our children the names we would have wanted for ourselves. For me it's not the case. When I chose my daughter’s name, Luisa, it struck me as a dark, sensual name because of the deep /u/, and very feminine. But it was never the case that I said, “I wish my name were Luisa.” And I never would have named my son, or daughter, Wolfgang.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

it will not be a pansy heaven

I called my mom. She wasn't home. We'll survive. I sent her a book as a gift that she got in the mail a few days ago. Of course it's one I want to read, too. As for me, my daughter also got me a book, and my son, well, he was completely oblivious, which we will also survive. It worked for me, since I guilted him in taking the dog out although it was my turn. What are mothers for.

Becoming a mother changed my relationship with the whole world. My ability to empathize exploded, as did my concerns about “the future” of just about everything.

Unlike women who say motherhood gave them something to live for, for me having children gave me something to die for. Not only in that I would jump between them and a hail of bullets, but also in that if they were to die, I would want to die, too. This is clear to me every time they ride the rollercoaster. I don’t want to, but when they get on, I get on. Like I'm going to cushion the crash. Sometimes, though, in a glitch of logic, I send their father.

Here's a poem ee cummings wrote for his mother, read in a not entirely serious way and accompanied by some very low-tech effects. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Tonic observations

I do not live in my dream house.
I do not live in my favorite town.
I do not have the job I once imagined in fantasies.
I did not marry my soulmate.
Surely I would hate my soulmate.
In my inner life I tend to come down on the negative side.
And this has done me a lot of good.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Money talks

One day my friend's car battery dried up, so she approached a man in the parking lot to ask if he could jump the battery. She had cables in the trunk. He said yes, but when he opened his hood he said he'd just bought the car and wasn't sure he would do it right. So he went over to two house painters eating lunch in a nearby van, and asked them if they could lend a hand, which they did. When they were done, the first man asked if they wanted to be paid, and they said no, and left. He, however, told my friend that he wanted to be paid for helping her, as he'd worked as an agent. She gave him $10.

There was a lawyer who worked at my friend's office, who specialized in estates. He was very well off and brought a lot of money into the firm but didn't work there long. While he did, once a week he could be seen throwing bags of trash out in the dumpster behind the office. This let him avoid paying for garbage service at his home.

Another lawyer at my friend's office, another successful and wealthy man in his late 40s/early 50s, one day complained to his father that the family had spent more money on his sister's college education, who'd attended an Ivy League school. He calculated that his mother and father had spent $39,000 more on her education than his, as he'd gone to a school with a lower profile. He felt he was owed that money and told his father as much. The father gave it to him. My friend knows this because the father, who frequently drops by the office, whispered it all down for her.
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