Thursday, November 27, 2014

Two minutes of morning

Going to the UBahn I walk through a small park, too small really to earn the term, it’s more of a pathway with a bench or two, tall trees and what was once a sandbox, which nonetheless offers two minutes of relief from the apartment blocks and monotone of sky. I would call it a glade because of glide and because it’s leafy and keeps a cool temperature, but a glade, if I am not mistaken, intersects a thicker wood and is neither manmade nor even man-fashioned.

Along the walkway leaves have fallen in such a way that they resemble - also because sometimes they are in the midst of tumbling - sunbeams or patches of sunlight on the ground, and when I am close enough to apprehend what they are it’s both a disappointment and a consolation, a let-down because my expectations are dashed, and a consolation because they’re just as luminous as sunshine, and I have been beautifully fooled.

This morning amid the damp ambient of leaves and mud and cobblestone I see my new boots come slicing, the flat heels so comfortable I’d like launch into a run. I think of the saying “fit like a glove” which amuses because we’re talking shoes, and the German word for glove is ‘Handschuh,’ i.e. “hand shoe,” and somehow an item got mashed on backwards in translation, and it’s frosty and I don’t have gloves. 

When I’m walking in the cold thinking of running I remember the essential thing is to breathe. Have I mentioned how my face is falling apart?

Inhale, exhale.

Or had I rather say collapsing? The lengths, breadths and heights of it?

In, hale. Ex, hale. 

For months I have been considering a chin tuck. 


Abstractedly and noncommittally, now running past houses.


Sunday, November 23, 2014


Reading: Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Listened to: Le Tourbillon by jeanne moreau

Laughed: Bible Verses Where The Word “Philistines” Has Been Replaced With “Haters”
Learned: “Humility” and “humiliation” come from Latin “humus,” aka dirt. 

Failed: Went to the Christmas Market, but it wasn’t open.
Triumphed: My chapbook “Heiress to a Small Ruin” was accepted by DGP and will be published next winter. I almost didn’t send it in. 

Dreamed: of an encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness
Realized: Sugar drenches everything

Watched: Memento, a poorly executed psycho thriller
Observed: The introverts seem to have stopped talking about how introverted they are. 

Discarded: indecipherable German snail mail
Received: Dogfight at the Pentagon from a colleague 

Ate: Falafel
Drank: Chai tea, coffee, wine, sparkling water 

Bought: very little
Did without: very little

Pithiness of the week: "There are persons who, when they cease to shock us, cease to interest us." FH Bradley 
Word of the week: Desuetude
“Even when she had to give an armchair, silverware, a walking stick, she looked for ‘old’ ones, as though, now that long desuetude had effaced their character of usefulness, they would appear more disposed to tell us about the life of people of other times than to serve the needs of our own life.” (Swann's Way)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday off

I took the day off because my daughter had an appointment about a retirement account and wanted me along. In the course of the day we discovered she didn’t need this appointment. Since she doesn’t have a job and is just 18 she doesn’t quite yet need a retirement account. Yes, I've said in the past one needs to save for retirement and she should too but I didn’t mean now, and when I said I would contribute to her savings, I meant I'd regularly deposit a small amount in her savings until she is - someday - gainfully employed.

So all day we were waiting for 4 o’clock to roll around and at 3 our limbo ended with this revelation of misunderstanding, and we were relieved to be set free from an awkward appointment with a country bumpkin banker. We celebrated with a very buttery Croque Monsieur. I also did two loads of laundry, read 40-50 pages of Moon Tiger and a review of a biography of Penelope Fitzgerald, paid bills and filled the fridge with groceries.

In other news, I’m happy to say my chapbook, Heiress to a Small Ruin, has been accepted by Dancing Girl Press. It will be published about a year from now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


In the book I’m reading, a character who is much belittled wears the same fragrance I do, and I can’t help but feel insulted. The character, Sylvia, is the sister-in-law of the protagonist of Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively, a novel about a historian ruminating on her past from a nursing home bed. 

Sylvia “has devoted herself to children and houses. A nice old-fashioned girl, Mother called her, seeing quite correctly through the superficial disguise of pink fingernails, swirling New Look skirts and a cloud of Mitsouko spray.”

Mitsouko, I gasp. I wear Mitsouko! And the thing about Mitsouko is it’s ravishing. Ingrid Bergman wore it. Anais Nin wore it. Jean Harlow wore it, and her husband doused himself with it before committing suicide. So, you know, I’m kind of feeling that Mitsouko hardly needs me to defend it. Undeterred by a few raised eyebrows, even Charlie Chaplin was known to splash it on. 

And yet here is Sylvia, the wife of a man who works “himself into the ground, when it is a matter of the intellect. His laziness is more subtle than that, it is a laziness of the soul, and Sylvia is its manifestation. Gordon needs Sylvia like some people need to spend an hour or two a day simply staring out the window…”

Of course I see that Mitsouko was considered part of a disguise, being, I suppose, more sophisticated than Sylvia. Perhaps as the book progresses and the true Sylvia emerges wearing a stodgier scent, I won’t feel so intimately wounded.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Accidental Tourist

I read Villette in Sardegna.
I read Tess of the D’Urbervilles in Bath, England.
I read Chrisina Rosetti in London, England, on the same trip.
I read The Collected Works of Billy the Kid in New Brunswick, NJ, shortly before my maiden voyage to New Mexico.
I read Reader’s Block in Santa Fe, NM.
I read Daniel Deronda in Madison, NJ.
I read The French Lieutenant’s Woman at home in Frankfurt. I think of this book, or at least the experience of reading this book, every day.
I read Under the Skin at home in Frankfurt.
I read The Passage in Frankfurt. It pissed me off.
I wish I could remember even one book I read in Kansas. A year there and I draw a blank. I remember considering reading My Antonia, but deciding not to.
Ditto Milan. No recollection of anything.
I read Voices of Chernobyl at my mother’s apartment in North Plainfield, NJ, where she set up a little card table-desk for me.
I read Dear Sugar at the same card table.
I read Jude the Obscure in the Austrian Alps.
I read Alcools in Davis, CA, while staying at my stepsister’s.
I read The Land of Green Plums at home in Frankfurt.
I read A Clockwork Orange in China, just days before the Tiananmen massacre.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Pure Spirits

To explain the long silence, I've been traveling. New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania. And Toronto Airport, a regular madhouse. 

To catch up on recent poem news, my poem, "Headache, Amen," just went up at Mead Magazine. This journal publishes poetry in the categories of beer, wine, cocktails, etc., though the poems themselves don’t have anything to do with drinking. I was happy to find my poem filed under ‘pure spirits.’

"The Uppermost Affliction," published at DMQ Review a few months back, has been nominated for Best of the Net. 

Finally, "Ambien," about the sleeping drug that induces sleep-eating, has been made into a video by the generous Nic Sebastian. The poem appeared in my Homebodies chapbook. Here it is.

'Ambien' by Sarah Sloat from Nic Sebastian on Vimeo.

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