Monday, April 27, 2015

We could be heroes

A woman missing inside her home for more than 48 hours was found Monday morning when she emerged from the front door for work. It was unclear whether she’d been hurt or was deliberately missing.
She described the ordeal when she arrived at the office. The woman, the mother of two children, said she survived on food she found in the house.
“I could only eat what was left in the fruit bowl or the refrigerator,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if I was getting enough from all the different food groups, but I’ll look into what those groups are now more closely in case this happens again.”
Apparently the police were not involved in any search. The woman’s daughter came in at one point on Saturday, dashed upstairs to grab her phone and left again. The daughter couldn’t recall if she saw her mother during the 2-minute visit.
“I think I called out ‘mom?’ but I don’t remember if she answered,” the daughter said. “Wasn’t she just in her room?”
One neighbor recalled the woman going into the house on Friday evening around 8.50 pm, dressed in yoga clothes.
“I had no idea what was about to happen,” the neighbor said.
The woman said she didn’t consider herself a hero when she emerged from the house.
“There was one time when I wanted to drink cold water from the tap but at first only warm water came out,” she said. “I just kept running the tap hoping it would get cold.”
Luckily she was awoken by daylight on Monday morning.
“I was like, whoa, better get dressed,” the woman said.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Last week

Listened to: Vogliatemi Bene, Un Bene Piccolino (Madame B)
Read: Paul Hostovsky’s poem “Man Praying in a Men’s Room

Saw: Photography Forum exhibition ‘Augen auf!’
Watched: Dressed to Kill with Michael Caine & Angie Dickinson (Brian De Palma) 

Laughed: The End of the World news bit
Cursed: Long, unproductive conversations 

Nay: Overcrowded yoga class
Yeah: Poem accepted by Gravel Magazine

Acquired: It was a low-spend week. I bought a magazine.
Discarded: Uneaten food gone bad

Visited: The mountains
Learned: Most refrigerators are set at too low a temperature to keep meat until its ‘best by’ date

Ate: Blueberry pie
Drank: Coffee, coffee, coffee 

Word of the week: Small, as noun (the small of the back, the small of the valley, would you like to try a small)
Pithiness: Language most shows a man: Speak, that I may see thee. - Ben Jonson

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Offending Animal

I’m still participating in the Scout poetry challenge with Found Poetry, though not daily. Today’s task was to gather questions from a text and use some to write a poem. The first attempt I wanted to develop further and decided not to post it. Ditto #2. So the poem I posted, “The Offending Animal,” was not my favorite, though I enjoyed writing it and am not un-fond of it. To be honest I didn't think the questions I found - which were all so particular - would ever compose a poem.

My source text was “Great Pictures, As Seen and Described by Famous Writers,” edited by Esther Singleton. About 82% of the poem comes from one essay in the book by William M. Thackeray. Searching online for the painting in question, “Banquet of the Arquebusiers,” I came across this strange portrait of a child by Gerard ter Borch. The child, Helena van der Schalcke, is the new mascot for The Rain in My Purse. Other than rain, what would a child carry in a little bag embellished with black lace? 

As to the poetry challenge, unlike the 2013 Pulitzer project, poets aren't obliged to post a poem every day. And some days I can’t manage it. Then on days like today I did three, though not all in one day of course. The problem with seeing any promise in the poems you post is that technically they are already "published" in online poetry terms. 

Monday, April 20, 2015


The morning walk to the tram.
Downhill. Sunshine.
The construction site. The chestnut tree lopped smaller.
But not dead!
Thank god.
The difficult corner, visibility-wise.
Tempting death, like everyday. Tempting being a verb or adjective.
The Doktor’s house, painted pale lilac.
His ivy, his wood deck, his miniature pond.
All pleasant for the patients.
And everyone else.
Fences, fences, dog feces.
Der kleine Park ist schön.
Nice spot for a smoke, if you smoke.
Pigeons. They call this a cluster flock!
Spring gives everything its own frisson.
Even the enormous white portal of the cemetery looks like a dollop of whipped cream.
The foot descending to meet its shadow, and pulling back again.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fresh supply of rainwater

It's warm and overcast here, and breezy. If you look outside it doesn't look inviting, but the temperature is so pleasant, it's like wading into a sudsy bath. It may rain, may not. Germany is not California. 
Image from Lichtenberg-Gesellschaft 

If you read this blog you know that George Christoph Lichtenberg is my idol. He lived north of here in Göttingen, which doesn't have much to offer except that he lived there. Lichtenberg said of it:

If you want to take the rainwater cure you should come to Göttingen, where there is a fresh supply at all times. 

I wrote a short review of his marvelous book "The Waste Books" for Escape into Life. Go over and read it. If he were alive I would be his agent.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Buying the farm

One day long ago when I was living a lonely and desolate life in Kansas, my jeep skidded on black ice on of I-135 North. I happened to be crossing an overpass at that moment and as the jeep slid right towards the guardrail, I was sure it would topple over and plunge from the bridge to the field below. This all seemed to happen in slow motion, giving me time to recall the euphemism of “someone buying the farm,” and thinking how pathetic it was that the last song I would have listened to in my life was whatever pop song was playing on the radio at the time. I confess I have forgotten it now, mostly because when the jeep finally did slam against the guardrail, it was arrested there, still standing on all four tires, the view of the field below mercifully far away. Oddly enough, at the other side of that field was a Chrysler dealership, and I slowly drove the jeep along the shoulder and down the off-ramp towards it. I was shaking and grateful to still be among the living. The salesmen at the dealership shrugged and dismissed me. I was free to return to my empty life on the plains. It struck me then that no one would have missed me, I had no one to tell my story to, and the life of self-imposed isolation I had chosen had not turned me into a romantic figure, but a sad mass of loneliness.

This poem is two years old, but I remembered it this weekend when a jeep drove by.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

The past week in pleasure & pain

Listened to: Jolie Holland sing Pure Imagination
Read: Novel Interiors
Lorenza Guzman 

Saw: A man in pink pajamas smoking a cigarette and talking on the phone in an upstairs window along my streetcar route. 
Watched: The German movie Kriegerin, about neo-nazis in the northeast. An eye-opener.

Cursed: Fate

Failed: Rejections
Succeeded: Finished a book review I’ve been promising 

Regretted: Offering someone a thank-you gift who proceeded to treat me like shit. At the end of the shit session, she held out her hand to receive the gift, which I changed my mind about (I regretted the offering, not the withholding). 
Realized: Spite is karma's handmaid. 

Visited: Frankfurt’s Palmengarten, the local botanical garden. 
Learned: There is a type of rose named ‘Aspirin.’

Ate: Meatballs, rucola, mozzarella, peanuts, rolls, tomatoes, crackers, cookies, chocolate, octopus, fontina.
Enjoyed: Lorenza Guzman sculptures 

Word of the week: Mazurka, a dark dynamic word that means Polish folk song
Pithiness: The thoughts written on madhouse walls by their inmates might be worth publicizing. - Lichtenberg

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

die Taube

One regret I have about not having been born a man is never being called a gentleman.

On top of regrets about being born.

Marlene Dietrich said of Meryl Streep: ‘In the old days such an ugly person would have played the maid, or not even have gotten a screen test.’

Everyone lives under an assumed name.

The character was described as having “abominable teeth,” which I misread as “abdominal teeth.”

In German the pigeon and the dove are the same thing, die Taube.

When you chose a name for your child, was it a name you once wished for yourself?
 ( luise   gudrun   josefina )

For years after Albert Camus died his car was housed in the garage of a mechanic he’d been friendly with. It was a 1955 Citroen that Camus had named Penelope. 

I told them I didn’t care if he wrote like an angel. An angel wouldn’t write anything I’d want to read.

Everything holds up a mirror, while the mirror holds up a door.

‘Comme tout le monde je m’appelle Erik Satie.’ - Erik Satie
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