Wednesday, July 30, 2014


We came back today from a short vacation in Sardegna. The weather was great. People, including me, complain about the maestrale wind but I liked it this time because it didn’t spit sand at me, and it brought waves. I did enjoy lounging on the beach, protestations otherwise aside.

I’m sure the highlight of my trip, however, was reading Villette. (Guadalupe, I hate you!) I sent the boys to the beach in the mornings without me so I could drink all the coffee and read and take notes. I really missed my calling as a scholar of Victorian literature. Oh well, I've made this my Brontë year in any case, and am making up for lost time.

As ever, the publisher found a very uninspiring painting of a solitary woman for the cover. It’s called the Charlotte Brontë Cover Art Disease. Is there not a person with another idea?

While I was gone, Escape into Life ran its ‘Dog Days’ summer poems. Thanks to Kathleen Kirk, my prose poem “As Smoke Enters My Mustache” is included. It’s a complaint poem, or rather, a recovery-from-complaint poem. I was lucky to have another canine ode - Song of the Small Dog - at EIL last year, too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Text set in Moog

Before I fly off, here are links to some of the poems I’ve had published lately.

DMQ Review published "The Uppermost Affliction," a sleep poem. The table of contents is here

RHINO published two typeface poems, and is gradually making all of its new issue available online. Here’s the table of contents - scroll down for "Typeface #77 (Moog)." Its partner #71 should be liberated soon, too. 

Frostwriting published two poems from my chapbook Homebodies, "Spoon" and "Steam."

And this isn’t newly published, but Right Hand Pointing nominated my poem "Heiress to a Small Ruin" for Best of the Net. 

On the submission front, I've gotten rejections from Barn Owl and Linebreak, but acceptances from Beloit Poetry Journal ("Inksleep") and Sugar House Review ("Clinic Lilies" & "Schnapps Distilled from the Flight of Doves"). So I'm counting myself glad. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Whose paradise

We leave for vacation tomorrow - a week in Sardegna with our son and one of his friends. I hope it won’t be boring for them. God knows after a week I’m bored as can be, which is why I don’t like going for two weeks. I like the sea and all, but get stir-crazy with nothing else to do. Of course I bring books and write, but I still feel so stranded.

To reveal another negative-energy thing about myself: the vacation starts tomorrow but for me it began Saturday when we took the dog to friends. Like the sea, the dog is nice and all, but I can’t pretend I love coming home after 10 hours of work to cook dinner, clean up and walk the dog. It is just a time-suck, and I feel so obligated.

For a few frantic hours I considered buying an iPad to take on vacation, but was unsure whether I could store documents on it. I want it more for that than the Internet. Although the Apple guy said I could keep documents directly on it with Pages, I was skeptical because my iPad-carrying colleagues said they don’t know how to. With vacation threatening I felt like I was going to buy on impulse without really being informed. 

Then on the phone my mother told me how she was going to save $100 a year by not having caller ID on her phone, and that was what the iPad sleeve alone was going to cost me and suddenly I felt so spoiled and wasteful

So here’s some of what I’m taking on my scenic, calm, non-technological vacation:

Unless by Carol Shields
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
The Captain Lands in Paradise by Sarah Manguso 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

History puts a saint in every dream

My grandfather had a tavern in Scranton, PA, aptly named Sloat’s Tavern. He quit the business and retired on his stock exchange winnings, now evaporated, before I was born, but the tavern is part of the family lore. My father has told many stories about sweeping up there after school.

I remember at the bar at his own home my grandfather had these tall aluminum tumblers in metallic colors like purple and teal, and whatever you drank out of those tasted tall and metallic and cold whether it was cold or not. He kept a gold one in the bathroom for rinsing your mouth.

My grandfather was a Highball man who used shakers and crushed ice and was never in a bad mood. His bar was outfitted with stools, stirrers, a mounted bottle opener and packets of powdered Whiskey Sour mix. My sister Lisa and I used to play ‘bar’ there, you know, it was a like playing ‘house.’

Song of the day: Time 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Little Smoking All Night, or the Week That Was

Ate: Mango, M&Ms, olives, vanilla pudding, mozzarella sandwich, brioche, pumpkin seeds
Drank: Licorice Spice tea

Laughed at: “Get your free American flag with a donation of $25 or more”
Realized: When I was chasing them down for death, I realized it is good that moths can’t scream.

Disliked: Insects of all kinds
Liked: The boychild returned from class trip to Rome.

Saw: A woman’s milk carton burst and spill milk down the aisle of the UBahn
Watched: Soccer, what else

Read: Orlando, finally!
Listened to: “The Married Men” - The Roches

Received: Best of the Net nomination for “Heiress to a Small Ruin
Gave: A damn and went jogging

Threw out: Emergency t-shirt, bought 7 years ago when Alitalia lost my luggage
Bought: Earrings

Learned: There are 115 women for every 100 men in Switzerland
Forgot: To buy a new toothbrush. I gave my son my new-fangled one, which he admired, but was left with his ancient one for days because I kept forgetting ...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

like a lamp / across the field

Some poems I have admired recently:

Emily Bludworth De Barrios’s “Be these omens from heaven or hell,
I love this for the juxtaposition of the old-timey title, taken from a 1764 Walpole novel, with the accessible, conversational tone of the poem, which is almost funny, but of course quite serious, and reaches out to help me in my great envy (of this poem).

Meredith Stricker’s “everything has black sounds
An homage to Lorca, part of a series that weaves news of war with the Spanish poet’s disappearance and death. 

Sarah Messer’s “Not Talking
I love this for those (un)folding chairs, that segue to blossoms. A gorgeous, prickly collection of images swirling and loosening into a cool cave.

Rochelle Hurt’s “In the Century of Mandatory Crying
It was the title that first lured me. I love how this short poem launches from its smart idea, wraps round it, and offers up a simple, subtle rhyme as a tissue to dry the last tear. 

Bianca Stone - 3
I loved all these poems at Souvenir. I’d never read or even heard of Bianca Stone before. But now I have. 

Kathleen Hellen’s “How I came to some advantage
I love this for the surprises and free associations and because the view is the problem with geese. (This was at the top before, but the Swarm link isn’t working, so rather than discouraging readers on the first poem, I moved it down here. Try it - it may have since been restored.)

Monday, July 07, 2014


I spent a night in Berlin, checking in Sunday before it got dark. Since my former boss always booked a little hotel called Hotel Albrechtshof, so do I, and it’s charming. It’s a Christian hotel with a little chapel in the basement. Next to the chapel is an “IT Room,” which consists of a slow computer, and an iron and ironing board. 

Rather than chocolates, there was a little stapled-together book of poems on my pillow. And, unlike many hotels, the windows opened! Which was good, because it was very warm. 

I love checking into hotels alone. Christian or not, a clean, impersonal room makes me feel chaste and contained. The towels are clean. The bedding is fresh. There is a desk. 

I went for a walk while it was still light and found a restaurant with tables outside, where I had a salad and a puddle of Sauvignon Blanc. There was a hipster couple a table over. An American family came in and, after determining the menu would suit everyone’s allergy mix, they sat behind me, where the father immediately cracked open the laptop. He began reading from a webpage about the Berlin Wall & Checkpoint Charlie & daring East-West escapes for the benefit of all nearby diners. 

The hipsters and I exchanged smiles, but really the family was breaking my heart. The teenage daughter was hating it; the mother was trying to accommodate everyone, sending back the pizza because there was chili pepper on it; the boy was the pre-teen variety of indefatigable; and the dad was trying to make it all “worthwhile.” 

It is.

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