Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Could James Brown and Gerald Ford Have Known?

That they'd be strolling into the next days together?
Today's poem was no great find on my part but on the part of Poetry Daily.


My little lack-of-light, my swaddled soul,
December baby. Hush, for it is dark,
and will grow darker still. We must embark
directly. Bring an orange as the toll
for Charon: he will be our gondolier.
Upon the shore, the season pans for light,
and solstice fish, their eyes gone milky white,
come bearing riches for the dying year:
solstitial kingdom. It is yours, the mime
of branches and the drift of snow. With shaking
hands, Persephone, the winter's wife,
will tender you a gift. Born in a time
of darkness, you will learn the trick of making.
You shall make your consolation all your life.

Amanda Jernigan
Volume CLXXXVII, Number 3
December 2005

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Channukah!

A new pretty clock with numbers that hang in the air.A banner of red, glittery, light sprinkled through a dark kitchen and you Bird, you cause some eerie glowing everywhere you go.
Night Four--the middle candle of the week and a deeply-cool surprise from a favorite person. (If this were a grade-school valentine it would read: I love "keeping time" with you, Valentine!)
Efharisto, Andra.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

January's Wild Light Come Early

If the wild light of this January day is true
I pledge me to be truthful unto you
whom I cannot ever stop remembering
J. Ashbery

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Keeping-Place

All this studying of poetry makes me crave a keeping-place for my favorites. This is what I do like about blogs--the keeping. Today's post is stolen from Teresa Ballard's blog and I mention that because she is my new find. Her poem in Best New Poets 2006--yum! (available now and containing also one of the most beautiful poems you'll ever read--not surprising in that it's written by Steph Rogers). If you buy this anthology and come to AWP with it, I can arrange your copy be signed by Ms. Rogers. I think Eduardo Corral is there, and Amanda Auchter, too? Just the rumor of those people should get your cursor heading over to Barnes & Noble.

Little Things

After she's gone to camp, in the early
evening I clear our girl's breakfast dishes
from the rosewood table, and find a small
crystallized pool of maple syrup, the
grains standing there, round, in the night, I
rub it with my fingertip
as if I could read it, this raised dot of
amber sugar, and this time
when I think of my father, I wonder why
I think of my father, of the beautiful blood-red
glass in his hand, or his black hair gleaming like a
broken-open coal. I think I learned to
love the little things about him
because of all the big things
I could not love, no one could, it would be wrong to.
So when I fix on this tiny image of resin
or sweep together with the heel of my hand a
pile of my son's sunburn peels like
insect wings, where I peeled his back the night before camp,
I am doing something I learned early to do, I am
paying attention to small beauties,
whatever I have -
as if it were our duty to
find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world.

- Sharon Olds

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

At the Annie-Fest

Mr. Mine

Notice how he has numbered the blue veins
in my breast. Moreover there are ten freckles.
Now he goes left. Now he goes right.
He is buiding a city, a city of flesh.
He's an industrialist. He has starved in cellars
and, ladies and gentlemen, he's been broken by iron,
by the blood, by the metal, by the triumphant
iron of his mother's death. But he begins again.
Now he constructs me. He is consumed by the city.
>From the glory of words he has built me up.
>From the wonder of concrete he has molded me.
He has given me six hundred street signs.
The time I was dancing he built a museum.
He built ten blocks when I moved on the bed.
He constructed an overpass when I left.
I gave him flowers and he built an airport.
For traffic lights he handed out red and green
lollipops. Yet in my heart I am go children slow.

Anne Sexton

Let me be ten

Angel of blizzards and blackouts, do you know raspberries,
those rubies that sat in the gree of my grandfather's garden?
You of the snow tires, you of the sugary wings, you freeze
me out. Let me crawl through the patch. Let me be ten.
Let me pick those sweet kisses, thief that I was,
as the sea on my left slapped its applause.

Only my grandfather was allowed there. Or the maid
who came with a scullery pan to pick for breakfast.
She of the rols that floated in the air, she of the inlaid
woodwork all greasy with lemon, she of the feather and dust,
not I. Nonetheless I came sneaking across the salt lawn
in bare feet and jumping-jack pajamas in the spongy dawn.

Oh Angel of the blizzard and blackout, Madam white face,
take me back to that red mouth, that July 21st place.

Anne Sexton

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Little Fudging and Voila!

I have seen much stronger renderings of Chicky's great assignment. But since my fellow reindeer are not writing their promised poems, I feel free to improvise.
Calling the following carabou out to join me: Wanda, Steph, Kathrine, maybe Natasha? Other KSU kittycats? And you, To--you've got thirty seven sexy things to say soon. Say them this way?

Beach Balls for Termites
Let us shout to the sharp clouds
for an answer. Look to bruises
and kisses for clues. These roses
loud colors, beautiful hair,
a word from our sponsors and we’re
there in an old Ford pickup, wearing

out our welcome. In the rain,
we drive ourselves wild, in the rain,
we are copacetic, cool-red
a wavering flame as a lean-to.
We swing like a match to the lips:
smoke this already, or douse

whole cities and their choke-cherry
ways. Sometimes we glue ourselves
to televisions, thin belief,
the sweet glue we peeled back from skin
to make ghost-skin, a half-plastic palm:
lifeline, heartline a fortune snaked-out

Friday, December 08, 2006

Let me say this about that

Lesley Jenike writes lovely poems. I heart them major. And besides all of that, and her matter-of-fact live gorgeousness and great fashion sense, she is generous enough to watch out for my work and give me the heads-up that my poem (written in and of Cincinnati) appears on Verse Daily.
I dedicate today's reading to my mommy--Tall Stacks Collaborator and to Lesley J. because she is. A certain boy-wonder of verse is wound through every couplet, too. A certain wonder keeps the fireworks blooming every day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Glorious Women Gather

Maira wears the ruffled part of December. Something peculiar this season travels
But Maira plays canasta on a floral sofa and marvels at the merry mints of days in their little tin canisters. She happens to be. She happens to be utterly alive. There is truth in every cemetery and it hangs in the trees with the hawks—big as a Labrador puppy—with eyes calmly hungry. There is truth in the burning-hot magenta, in Russian men in big, black coats and glorious women and jam—most of all jam.

Spiked & Strongly Gleaming


I am sorry not to have written you sooner.
We are peculiar forms, like someone's old papers rifled quickly through
But not read before the burning.
How to speak of the icy cave-like place I lately feel,
Its white reluctance dividing me from all things I desire and see.
I think it must often be the case
That one holds within oneself a cold guardedness, expectant, deeply quarried,
The way mistakes grow magnified inside the mind, spiked and strongly

How skilled, how dominant, this white unswaying place.
And I wonder how, bred from our churning, it constructs itself so strongly
Like the crush of light I sometimes at the noonhour hear.

LAURIE SHECK (from Pool's website, while you're there, the ever-great Bruce Smith is not to be missed.)

I Favorited You 433 Days Ago

For what it's worth.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

We Who Move

At This Moment Of Time
Delmore Schwartz

Some who are uncertain compel me. They fear
The Ace of Spades. They fear
Love offered suddenly, turning from the mantelpiece,
Sweet with decision. And they distrust
The fireworks by the lakeside, first the spuft,
Then the colored lights, rising.
Tentative, hesitant, doubtful, they consume
Greedily Caesar at the prow returning,
Locked in the stone of his act and office.
While the brass band brightly bursts over the water
They stand in the crowd lining the shore
Aware of the water beneath Him. They know it. Their eyes
Are haunted by water

Disturb me, compel me. It is not true
That “no man is happy,” but that is not
The sense which guides you. If we are
Unfinished (we are, unless hope is a bad dream),
You are exact. You tug my sleeve
Before I speak, with a shadow’s friendship,
And I remember that we who move
Are moved by clouds that darken midnight.

(I miss you terribly)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

There's nothing wrong with Ohio

Except the snow and the rain... (Bowling for Soup says)

Last night I read for my own Cincinnati peeps and it was a great reminder why I stayed here, the miraculous happenings of my book and these people who are so amazing and so kind, humble, and generous. I'm making like a tree, Dr. A. and I seem to be sapping. So anyway, my friends here--faculty and students--rocketh beyond. Thank you, all.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Small-time Rapture

An Introduction to Devotion

Do you consider yourself adept? The face of

oh my and the body of a wish: this is the error

of sadness. Now you say, don 't implicate me.

Too late, sweetness. As in the Bonnie & Clyde dream . . .

Relentlessly acquisitive. As in, get ready

for us, God. This is small-time rapture. Soothe me.

Or else, I said to no one in particular. Back off—!

Copyright © 2006 Mary Ann Samyn All rights reserved
from The Laurel Review

Friday, November 24, 2006

I feel you Ivan

A Face with a View

A Map Of Love

Your face more than others' faces
Maps the half-remembered places
I have come to I while I slept—
Continents a dream had kept
Secret from all waking folk
Till to your face I awoke,
And remembered then the shore,
And the dark interior.

Donald Justice

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Against Elegies

What if we let you sing first?
What if we look for you with Mallarme’s
blank stare: birds round an empty dish,

stony limbs? To tell the history of our grief
we settle for an empty doorway
and a maple leaf

or a woman with neckcurls, named Jane,
changed by her poetry teacher’s love
to a wren wound in light. Shimmering anodyne.

Elegies so resolute in wood or wings
that we forget the truer
measurements of unfinished things:

the distance between two
disappearing habits; the echo
of a promise lodged in a warbler’s throat;

the length of a dreamy boy swinging
from his favorite limb; the ragged patch
below — our ground for spotting him.

If grieving is a way of working wood,
building thresholds, wrapping birds —
then hands will keep us tending things

too near. What if this June air
should circle, not fall on, our copper chimes
with the passiveness of prayer?

What if the breeze that would carry
a bird’s perfect sorrow were to kneel
at the base of an oak, and refuse to rise?

Copyright © 2004 M. B. McLatchey All rights reserved

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Someone is looking you up on a map, right now

If you were music,
I would listen to you ceaselessly
And my low spirits would brighten up.

If you were a star,
I would gaze by the window till dawn,
And peace would enter my soul.

-- Anna Akhmatova, From March Elegies
Not yet Thanksgiving and cafed in cold Cincinnati across from the coffee and comet-eyed.
The last leg of exam days and no turkey and no peace until they're over. Philadelphia is all kinds of perfect bird (Yia Sou Andras) or will be soon. I am neck-deep in Akhmatova, Stephen Spender and there are worse ways to go. Somewhere and someday: a stone house, light pouring across the kitchen, the certain mornings of tea kettle's whistling and the rustle of still-chilly newsprint. I won't take any of it for granted.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sanguine Hummingbirds, All Manner Pretty Words by Kristy Bowen

& care of Simone Muench, author of The Air Lost in Breathing and Lampblack and Ash--two of the most beautiful books of poetry you'll ever lick off the page.
Speaking of licking, I give you

Not red, not exactly. More like dawn,
or the illusion of it. Hummingbirds, humidity.

Azaleas splitting in your palm. In Texas,

the nights sueded, starlit.
There is no language for the soft
of your hands, their thunderous Braille.
Bruises ripen on my wrists like plums.

Nevertheless, I am sly, scarlet-lipped.
Gathering light in the folds
of my dress. Crossing my sevens
polite and girlish. I still dream

of the desert, the woman you once kept
sleeping in the curve of your body.
She slices peaches, pulls the hair from her face.

She sweetened and full of rain.
Even the coyotes have lost the scent of her.

Friday, November 10, 2006

News to Dance To: The Book of Abe & Caleb's Whereabouts

Word has it that beloved Abraham Smith has a book forthcoming from Action Books.
More information as I get it.

And here is the promised shout-out to Caleb Adler. This shout-out appears as a reward to Caleb Adler for being near enough to shout at. "Hallelujah!"

my dream involves
clay balls placed
at serious intervals
on the woods and
hay mow floor
warm flour hair
love may I
make a bread
of how you run
real birds
soothed in
the soft rock
of your pocket cloth

Abraham Smith (of course!)
from The Diagram

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bird, Bird, I Cannot Get You Close Enough

Ah, Millay... & ah, Ellen Gilchrist for Anna Hand: "I cannot get you close enough I said to him, pitiful as a child. And never can and never will..." and so on.
And ah, to the emuists with their tiny beds and the girls that do not forget them but sleep in the groove of their forms for years after that bird/bed have fled. Anna gets it: why the best girls will curl around the emuist and the memory of the emuist in a bed too tiny for most but a baby bear bed to the right girl. Anna & Edna & me agree: have heart, Sweet-Tart, your Goldilocks is out there.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Every Pencil in Pennsylvania Writes

you a limerick, Bird. Sir Gallivant, your pretty plummage stole the color from Ludlow Avenue and left it just low and anemic besides. This better be worth some cheese steak, some duck (in torn fishnet thigh-highs with a hot-blue garter) an electric storm, a smoked whitefish for two but just you, Bird, can consume it as if it's the end of the world and we're waiting for the spaceship--our fifty pounds of goods--and at l/e/ast in my good dream of your nightmare--a still-shared planet. Ava agrees with me: "It's been nice, Dwight Lionel. It's been everything. ..." Go ahead then: be Philadelphia's rare bird for a day or two.
Catch of the day:

“Prison Song”
My heart is like a prison filled
with zebras, songbirds, white mice,
black gypsies, tandem bicycles,
symphonies, ballerinas, movie stars,
and the world’s largest ball
of red ribbon.

Oh, My Dear, if only you
could find the key.
from Jukebox Gothic
Alan May (author of the you-need-to-buy-it-now-it's-gorgeous! Apocryphal Text)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tonight I hear the gone in Oregon

or a gun, a loaded, heavy thing. It's cold. Grey. Drizzly. And there should be some tea steeped in terra cotta. This is no night for the warm red clay. The sky's at it again: stony looks and where's the thunder, anyway? Whatever put the no in November, take this dose of Jeni Olin's poems which are sizzling yeses.
Vanishing Point
Depressed like cabin air & passing out
peach-tinted hygiene manuals
on westside highway I lead men on
like the Virgil of the garment district:

Now this lovely structure on your right
is baby’s jeans & a struggling pyramid of girls & oh
well I understand his orphans with my gun like cinema verité

shot through with lower-functioning inmates –
with the “inkings of Scandinavian malaise” & whatnot
I go see art & feel priceless but to be a good sport you have to lose
& lose value like junk bonds he likes to “sit back & watch ‘em grow . . .”

The Met stuffed with alabaster tits I left alone, sexy & mightily unDutch

Mastered, set fire to a batik picture
of Mother Chelsea the Pitiless who wasn’t sickle-
cell white & incontinent & Dia-funded

I stood in his cloud shirt by myself

cursed to stalk the night through all eternity & original so on
through the small ballet company of stocking runs & upset

nuns down Sixth Avenue, John Wieners,
the Americas breaking apart so I can feel this sinuous & partial wind
like lyme disease with a drip in the arm & the sky is falling.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Guerilla Poetics

The very cool and talented Justin C. has brought to my attention: Guerilla Poetics. Check it out. I love the premise of it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


To quote Maggie Anderson regarding the evening with Eleanor Wilner here at KSU, "it was incandescent." And it was.

Regarding the week, the people I've met and every minute I've been here, I could gush on and on, but I'll spare you. I will say that last night, the Venice Bar some Eliot Ness beer, and Eleanor--stunning in her black poncho and so funny and wise--made for one of the best nights of my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Wick family with the anything-but-ordinary Chris as representative, and David Hassler, the newly-awarded Ohio Poet of the Year, and Maggie Anderson: gracious,sharp with "quiet authority." Of course, you Eliot Wilson, generous, appreciated, knowing you only gets better. And to my students here--you were icing to the sweetest "birthday cake" of a week. Here are the links I promised you. (You are already missed--stay in touch.)
(Google searches should get you there until I have time to plug in links)
Born Magazine
The Diagram
Wave Books
Death Villanelle
New Pages Lit. Links
Poetry Machine
Also, for a great sample cover letter check out Pebble Lake Review's advice in the submissions section.

For a great sense of the terms and forms of poetry, check out John Drury's Poetry Dictionary.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I want candy


"A lot of this is really about how frightened we are, as a culture, of pleasure. We always have to make it something dirty and hidden. So one agenda of the book, in that sense, is to allow other freaks out of the closet."

Interview with Steve Almond by Amy Cox Williams

What did I know, what did I know?

Oh how I love Those Winter Sundays. Today is cold and colder still on account of Austin, Texas.

My dear Floridian friend sent me a delicious package of reading: Julianna Baggott & Steve Almond's collaborative novel Which Brings Me to You is pretty & steamy. And Kathrine Wright's winning story in Paper Journey's newest anthology: Blink is worth the whole price of admission. (Lots of other good stuff too including Words on Walls' own Abbe and Tiffany.) Read them.

While I'm at it, let me direct you to anything by Ander Monson. Ander Monson has a brain that's like a rollercoaster all threaded with dollheads and daisies plus some major electricities various. I mean, really, where else can you go for that? Expect some links soon.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Some Thunderless Thursday


What storm, a severed house
with its matched pleats, scattered

breaths of lightning, broken thirds?
What children, double-helix

of limbs, that precision of sleep?
For there is no love

but this: your face, our room
with its parted legs. A darkened city

with papery rain and drawn dusk.
What vagueness, all your force,

but what could we mend
with clarity? You know a body

will move against resistance.
And for this, I have made

our bed. The lamp
has burned intention to a slip.

Come to your place. What solace
is there to outlast this?

I have already left you
as much as I can.

Wendy Scofield
(but I wish it were mine.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Expect Such Breathlessness

The Nearest Simile Is Respiration
To poetry

I was boozed I was doped I was maybe
a floozy before you knew me, loose
leafed like autumn and most of the books
of the Old Testament that fell out
of my father's Bible. I had a body.

I had a habit of hauling my telescope
into the outskirts, ransacking all
the toothsome blackness for what: a reason
not to do me in. Proof I was more
than the seasonal ragbag detritus
choking the rooftop gutters, more
than a piece of the cosmic dust
in some ruined philosophy.

I could not be consoled by the universal
Sisyphus in us all, the dung beetle
nuzzling its putrid globe.

I could not hitch my wagon. The stars
and stars abrade my notions of my Self;
tricuspid Eros chewed me raw; Jesus
Christ rubbed mud in my eyes, and I saw
not. I did not see.

But with you! my sweetheart hairshirt,
my syntactic gondolier, ruffian for hire, befoolable
irresolute Chanticleer: with you, I back-float
the massy and heretofore unnavigable childhood
algal blooms, where no fish swam. No fish
have swum that Mississippi.

With you, I forgive my father's notes
to NASA, the self-inflicted swastika tattoo,
my sister's coked-up juggernaut cannonball
into the afterlife.

I forgive the afterlife,
resurrect John Lennon and the jukebox
at the Quik 'N' Hot, infect myself
with a rare strain of tarantism. With you, I dance
the summum bonum. With you, I am greater
than or equal to the lack, and luck is weather
that permits my red begonias.

Ashley Capps
Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields
The University of Akron

(I just bought this book and it waits like a pastry for me to be allowed to read anything not on my exams list. You have no excuse not to indulge.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Light Coming Through the Shape of a Moon

and the man etched upon it, with a book of poems beside
and not one dead letter among them, these are live-wires
and lit-bird these are Alan Mays and loaded weapons

Go here to buy some

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

If you were here, Baby, we'd increase the dose

The thing about Baltimore is it pockets people. Listen Baltimore, you already have the best sign ever made, why so greedy?

In other news: if you were hoping for a little crybaby of your own and had been following the saga of the orphan kitty, I'm sorry to say she's been adopted by a "dog person" no less. I mention this only to warn you that I know cats and if I tell you to check a stray cat out as s/he is extraordinary, you'd best do so. Like my favorite people,I find cats based on some indescribable amazingness and they don't stay on the market for long. Everyone gets jealous of you if you get one.

Better luck next time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I'm Glad I Didn't Die Before I Met You


Monday, September 25, 2006

More drumrolls....

While applauding our lovely and talented Cindy King, I was able to find that Ted Worozbyt from my Alabama days was FINALLY with book. Ted doesn't write an imperfect poem, he's incapable.
And while we're at it, keep an eye on the luscious Paul Guest as he publishes a poem or a book every couple of hours.
Matt Guenette...what can anyone say about Matt G. except read everything he writes with and without line-breaks.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Jones/Bottrell Grant and Update: Crybaby Finds Home!

I have this thing I try to do every year for my late and so-loved cat, Sneakily Jones and for my dear friend Eliot Wilson's late, sexy, macho John Wayne cow-cat, Wallace Bottrell. This thing involves a cat being adopted and my paying for vaccinations or a portion of spaying or neutering or depending on the sweet deal I find us on vets here (not as familiar as I might be) both shots and whatnot surgeries.

A New Peep: Kristi Maxwell

And you're first in line for her forthcoming book Realm Sixty-Four, from Ahsahta Press.

Introducing Stephanie Rogers

If you like poetry at all, or if you like poetry not a bit and are alive and hope to feel even moreso, read Symphony for Red.

And watch for Ms. Rogers exploding on pages everywhere.

L'Shana Tovah, BFF

If you were here, I'd show you the sky.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Current Projects

--Editing with Kathrine Wright.
(Please note that KW is loaded with accolades and online pretties. You'd do well to google her.) I only have so much confetti here.

--Collaborating with Caleb Adler M.D. on emu haiku, pesto-making, donkey-smuggling and all manner madness and literature and their various collisions.

--Celebrating Intaglio:

and The Book of Lila

--Soon to be ordering these books/chapbooks (and so should you!)
Matthew Guenette: The Hush of Something Endless

Lesley Jenike: I Dreamed Last Night I Got on a Boat to Heaven and By Some Chance I Had Brought My Dice Along. If you want to get a hold of one, e-mail me, or e-mail Jenike at ljenike at earthlink [dot] n e t.

Also, Cindy King and her loveliest Small Anything City

Jillian Weise's The Amputee's Guide to Sex.

Anything by Anthony Robinson or Matt Hart will make your life a sweeter thing.