Wednesday, June 27, 2012

june '74

Why is the owl & pussycat's boat pea-green? Is it made of bamboo? Has moss grown on it?

What is a bong tree? Is it in the south pacific? Is it gong-like, or hollow like a hookah? 

Why honey? With what? 

If there’s plenty of money, why offer the piggy-wig just a shilling for the ring? There seems little else to spend it on.

Why did they sail for a year and a day, or 366 days? Is it because even numbers are more harmonious?

With the delightful picture of marriage portrayed in the owl and pussycat, why did Edward Lear never marry? Is it because he entertained a number of pet peeves, including noise, gaiety, and hens? "When I go to heaven, if indeed I go -and am surrounded by thousands of polite angels- I shall say courteously, 'please leave me alone.'"

Monday, June 25, 2012

sex, death

One regret I have about not having been born a man is never being called a gentleman. 
I think of menopause as the end of biological usefulness. The dizzy faltering, the ache, the everything. 
Cesar Vallejo expected to die on a Thursday, as he wrote in one of his poems. But he died on a Friday, Good Friday, “aching without explanation.” 
Every year when my kids’ birthdays arrive I remember the German word for placenta is “Mutterkuchen,” literally ’mother cake.’ 
If I were a man, my pants would be waiting for me when I woke up. Right where I left them. Rumpled on the floor. 
Forming a church. Maybe a steeple. 
My mother finds it a tragedy when a man goes bald. She never fails to comment - ‘Oh him, he went bald.’ An old boyfriend of mine, a client at her firm, has not escaped this fate, she tells me. Rather, she whispers it to me, as if I were in on a joke.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

from the Varieties of Pain long list

in the right hands, the harmonica
in the wrong hands, the harmonica

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Reading this book is like being waterboarded with truffle oil.

Reading this book is like seeing the ripples widen after a stone of great consequence has been cast into the waters of history.

Reading this book is like watching a bunch of self-absorbed narcissists trying to talk over each other about who the biggest drama queen of them all is.

Reading this book is like receiving a shamanic healing limpia over and over again.

Reading this book is like sitting down to a big round table full of the best food you ever put in your mouth.

Reading this book is like opening a folding table after closing a door.

Reading this book is like switching from a fuzzy, black and white television screen to a full color, HD portrayal of Jesus.

Reading this book is like eating good bonefish.

Reading this book is like listening to a personal CD, a compilation of songs (singing drives away sorrow, as they say in Spain), with music by the Ronettes.

Reading this book is like sipping hot cider in front of a crackling potbellied stove.

Reading this book is like watching a three-dimensional person gradually unfurl from a mouldy seed, almost the personal equivalent of the Big Bang.

Reading this book is like reading all 320 books that Dayna has read.

Reading this book is like witnessing a debate with the resolution that reads: Be it resolved, that men are descendants of monkeys.

Reading this book is like meeting each animal and getting the chance to ask them your most pressing questions.

Reading this book is like shaving with a cheese grater.

Reading this book is like traveling to an older culture and going to a village where women are not wearing miniskirts, for example.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday arrives

I slept like shit, but so it goes. At least it is Sunday, and my blackberry is kaputt. I am the featured poet in the new issue of Avatar Review, meaning I’ve got a boatload of poems over there, and even videos. I wish I could make a video I didn’t have to be in, but I am not that learned yet. 

A couple days ago I had another poem, a fragment, up at Utter, a new online magazine. It looks good, so give them a try if you’ve got wares to peddle. My fragment is named ‘Grace,’ appropriate for Sunday.  

Also inside me it is Sunday, the last day of the week or the first, depending on whose calendar you look at. Vague and blurred blue. I went back to the cemetery to read but first spent 15 minutes peeling moss off someone’s grave: Gustav Horwarth, 1905-1986. Didn’t fall in either war. Nice little plot he had, and his rent paid.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

the dickens

Reading Little Dorrit is like having your own portable fireplace to cozy up to. It’s also huge, like a log or a brick. At 1,000 pages, if you set it on fire, it would burn for a long time. But I don’t mean it that way. I mean reading Little Dorrit makes you want to take off your shoes, don your housecoat and lean way the hell over the open pages, soaking up all that homey tenderness.

Reading Little Dorrit is like suffering the ritual of birthday cake. It’s also enormous like cake is enormous, heavy and sticky like children’s fingers. But with the ritual I mean watching the cake float towards you in the dark, luminous with spindly candles. You want to lean way the hell over it and, soaking up the glow, make your best wish, blow, and collapse into all that icing. 

Reading Little Dorrit is like being dragged off by your parents to a revival festival teeming with tents and strange people. By dragged I mean you used to like going but now think you’re too old for it. You wander around -it’s on the edge of a forest- and you like the smell of the pines and campfires but you stick to the parking lot where some other characters share their six-packs, and there’s a puddle of rain and spew and you lean way the hell over it and see your reflection.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


You think of a mouth as lips and tongue but it is just a vacant piece of real estate. You notice when the police talk about finding the body parts of some poor victim or other strewn about town they never mention finding the mouth.

If someone tells you that you have a dirty mouth don’t believe it. They need to be more specific. 

When it came to washing kids’ mouths out with soap, my nana’s choice was Ivory. ‘So clean it floats.’

She also liked to say, “He’s got a mouth on him.” But whose? His own mouth turned in. 

Orajel. Orafix. Orifice. 

The Chinese word for mouth is “kou,” which looks like a lopsided box. The German word for mouth is “Mund,” which I occasionally mispronounce as “Mond,” or “moon.” 

Shut your moon, for god's sake.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

We 2 kings

May & June are peppered with Catholic holidays, and today was one. Bang Thursday and no work. I decided to take a walk and couldn’t think of a good park so I went down the road to the cemetery. It’s the best possible park, huge and fabulous with trees. Sometimes a person goes by; most of the time not. I chose a bench among the many insects and birdsong and sat reading for over an hour: Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet, which says in section 404 -

To wrap the world around our fingers, like a thread or ribbon which a woman twiddles while daydreaming at the window...
Everything comes down to our trying to feel tedium in such a way that it doesn’t hurt.
It would be interesting to be two kings at the same time: not the one soul of them both, but two distinct, kingly beings. 

To be honest, though, I was on a relatively open path, and worse, I was looking at the back of headstones, and I hate that. It’s like sitting in a restaurant with your back toward the door. If you’ve ever seen a mafia movie you know that is a mistake. So I set out for a more sheltered bench and switched to Little Dorrit, in which Mr Clennam asks, 

“The name of Mr Tite Barnacle has been mentioned to me as representing some highly influential interest among (Dorrit’s) creditors. Am I correctly informed?”
It being one of the principles of the Circumlocution Office never, on any account whatever, to give a straightforward answer, Mr Barnacle said, “Possibly.” 

This was the funniest passage so far, not least because of that name. And so, though I am not truly able to be two kings at once, reading two good books on one afternoon in pleasant weather did give me the feeling I could be two distinct, kingly beings, both, at the same time.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

3 good things

First, my poem “Everything is Taking Entirely Too Long” went up at the Coachella Review. I didn’t know the issue had been up for some days already, and when I went to check today, there it was. I wrote the poem last year in a hotel in New York, and remembering being there makes me as happy as having it published.

Second, I subscribed to Court Green and got my first issue, with its dossier of short poems. Love! Especially good are the poems by Elise Cowen, whom I’d never heard of, maybe because she killed herself before she was 30 and before I was born. Tony Trigilio is putting together a book of what little survived of her poems, set for 2014 publication. 

Third, soccer season is coming up and my colleague asked if I’d bring in some books to get her through since her family is into it but she is not. Suddenly I am the book dictator. I like that. I made a little pile to start with: Waiting by Ha Jin, A Pale View of the Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro, John Dollar by Marianne Wiggins, Stoner by John Williams, Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, and some non-fiction.

Jealous of her, about to read some excellent books. Though I can't complain, being well into Little Dorrit myself. Little Dorrit's given name was Amy, in case you are asked. 

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Much ado

Here’s a question that always fills me with dread: “Don’t we know each other from somewhere?”

Whenever I hear this, I expect a fleet of black-robed judges to spring from the wings, because surely this person recognizes me from my axe-murderer days, or my erstwhile job as a pole dancer, or saw me that time I threw up eggs and whiskey outside my house. 

Ok, it has yet to turn out so badly. But I was in a store the other day in my never-ending search for a decent white t-shirt, and the sales person asked me, “Kennen wir uns nicht?,” which of course means, “Don’t we know each other?,” which for me usually means, "I really hope not." 

You know, another difficult thing about this situation is, say we did know each other once and have no contact anymore - well there must be a reason for that, even if it’s not because we got drunk and slept together 20 years ago and you or maybe even I never called back.... 

Anyway, on the note of sleeping dogs and difficult goodbyes, here’s a funny typo I saw today: “without further adieu.”

Saturday, June 02, 2012

head case

When I see a box the first thing I think of is putting something in there, namely my head. Because it’s safe inside: there’s no news, nothing is broken, no cars or wayward pedestrians. And the intimacy makes me forget my loneliness.

Lost of things come in boxes. Appliances do, and jewelry if it’s properly packaged, and board games, all of which got their start inside someone’s head. 

You know how Emily Dickinson said she knew a poem was good when it seemed to take off the top of her head? For the same effect, just put your head in a box - no permanent damage. 

You don’t have to dress up to do it. You don’t have to comb your hair or brush your teeth, although you should brush your teeth. In all cases, it’s good to have fresh breath, especially inside a box. So I take that back. 

I like the neat quad-ness of boxes. Four walls, four winds, the four noble truths, the four horses of the apocalypse, the Beatles. 

Putting your head in a box isn’t as dangerous as sticking it in an oven, or into a shaft that spits rocks at you and dirt, or a pipe that might be a tight fit. I saw a kid once who got his head stuck between the posts of a balcony, and for all I know he’s still there.
Related Posts with Thumbnails