Monday, March 31, 2008

Flu Thru the Weekend

My best bird has three-souped me and taken care of my illin' self. I missed class today and am so tired.

Birds Again by Jim Harrison

A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I miss Ethiopian food. I miss Maurice Manning singing Tecumseh Valley into the thickest Alabama night-air. I miss the sky's color earlier when it was all kinds of purpley-blue. I miss fresh figs & fireworks & homemade marshmallows & a big silver cat I loved so much and a big cowboy tomcat I also loved. I miss Riverside Drive and all of its various warmths. I already miss Middleton Avenue and the outdoor grilling that hasn't even happened yet this season but will pass quickly into a new life and one that the New Life Red Rover Kids keep calling me out to but I'm just not yet ready to shake this chain of hands and run forward, let alone fly through. I miss last fall and the one before and that big snowfall three weeks ago. I miss too much.

Like a name like

flower. Like a

country like the

sound of a state.

Once we drove

in a small car

through a field of

tulips so red so

red the sky had

to leave. The sky

was not itself and

all that was left

was gray so gray

that red could

seem more red

than anything. That

day so many cars

stopped, people

ran into the

field and made

intonations to the

tulips. It was

February. A good

month for tulips.

In a small country

with a view of

the ocean.

Amanda Nadelberg's

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Just like a progressive ad

I was sitting at the light, on the corner, on the telephone with some tall, dark boy or other when a giant noise came at me and I realized I'd been hit right there in front of the fire station and on the way to a job interview for summer. It was really scary. Also, we all know that I love my silver dovemobile and though its injury was pretty minor and my acheyness will likely subside, the shakey tenuousness of a given moment was not lost on me. Scary. But it makes the world's good things stand out: my good friends, the phonecalls from that Big Colorado Spectacled Bear, my BFF and his get-well Korean food, lunch with dear L-Bo tomorrow, my good black cat-girls, (and even the ever-annoying Shorty and Bronte--my oldest friend in a shrug of fur and some serious mats), my IPOD and its ever-growing library of best songs, the Springsteen concert I just attended and Girls in Their Summer Clothes--a song that destroys me in the best way, homemade oatmeal, golden raisins, good mail (yes, Bear, I know,) and poems like the one below:

Poem for the National Hobo Association Poetry Contest I will not be there with you but think
of all the misery we've yet
to romanticize. Think of the train cars
rattling all night like the bones
of an epileptic. Think of the song
your mother sang to soap
and how her words drained away
with dirt. Think of the door
that screamed its rusted
warning each time you entered
and the last time you left,
your life knotted up in a red bandana on a stick.
Think of St. Louis, frozen
in April. Think of the girl
who does not know she existed,
that she throbs like a nerve exposed,
that she drains away
each night. I will not be there
to learn your names
or hear of the strange happinesses
beneath the sky
or to swear to return
but think of your feet by a mythic fire warmed
and the orchard around you
pelting the night with apples.
Think of those immense barges
singing like baleen whales
and think of your escapes,
which are legend,
of which I will someday hear.
And thinking of you
in winter the river
speckled with snow
will not be the slab where your body last lay.

Paul Guest

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

O Boy

If you heard this speech and can deny that we have an opportunity to choose a president that is more direct, more honest,brave and real than any we've had any chance at it for a long, long time, then you deserve the tacky, corrupt and self-interested leader you will choose.

I have never heard anyone speak better to the complex and often uncomfortable shades of grey within these issues and do so with more command and an intricate, intimate understanding of the ways race is a tangled and unsimplifiable issue. It requires admitting that some of who we are and some of what we love is complicated by race and indeed, racism. It is difficult to admit, as Obama says, "in polite company" but race, race "priveleges," any advantage or disadvantage that is impacted by race im/ex/plicitly brings things out in each of us that require re-examination and sometimes taming and tailoring. Instead of suggesting that everything or nothing is or should be about race, gender or sexual preference, Obama is candid enough to admit that we do contain all of the things that we contain--genetically, biologically, historically, intellectually, culturally and emotionally--and those things bump into each other in the dark hallways inside us and that is undeniable. It's what we do about them, the rooms we assign them and the ways we direct them that make the difference between truly being and acting in ways that help us to evolve into a "post-race, post-gender" place. But whatever I can say is nothing next to what I've just heard. I love that, like L-Bo, I can be made to cry over a speech by someone alive in my moment of living and the chance to really make something truly inspiring happen.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Tiger said why are you
so pretty. I have seen you in pearls
and laces. At night
kissing each part of your nothing.

We break the window
before he can.
His snowball his weekend
turning to weekday.
He laps up the water from our gloves,
too full to lick the temples.
Leaves our house lightly
like a man who has forgotten.

It is not a straight line.
It never has been.

The flowers you made for the goat
are eaten by your roommates
who feel like fruit.

A walk in shallow water?

Further than the spirit trembles
they are eating snow on the moon.

In winter we lie
in the curious river
without matches.

Only the chain is broken,
not the pendant.

Who laughs so fluently?

The mate is a flute played in the wild.


Down to the Last Few Bites

of so much that I love. I'm banqueting on poetry b/c it feels like I'll be living in skyline of essays and service and such. I'm banqueting on an afternoon in milkish light with Drusilla asleep in the curve of my legs and the way they make a C meant just for such a shape. And there's the rub of it, the C and sea and seachange and all the acres of always I wanted to devour. It's Monday, I'm sleep-deprived.

The Touch
I want to hear the slap
of your shadow
as it hits the floor,
the pins and needles
of water falling
tap to tub. I'm tired,
and what you know
about me will soon be written
on a postcard and passed
in the night.

We're down to the last few bites.
Those who are in the habit
of eating parsley off their plates
will not help us.
Wine has cast its blood-shadow
across our cheeks.

I've come in off the street
to confess these crimes.
We have several mothers in common,
and while they plot our deaths
I want to give them something
to talk about.

I've misspelled my own name so many times
and still I remember every syllable
of every spell.
Still I remember you humming
along as the ghosts
drank water in the kitchen,
as our mothers counted our fingers and toes.

Jen Currin
The Sleep of Four Cities
Falling Asleep to the Sound of Rain
Understanding where you live is first of all
knowing its noises which are memorized
without you knowing that they are, for instance

weather: starting after midnight after stillness
is the clink-clink Irish rain makes on its journey in
a garden in the suburbs, falling on out of season

jasmine then iron railings between
my neighbor's house and mine; which began at sea.

I loved small towns—they seemed to come from
a kinder time: shop blinds lowered on weekday
afternoons, peaceful evenings with beds turned down,

shoes gathering, two by two, under them and in
the cellars of nearby farms, stopped up, ready
to be sold on market day, oily, sharp cheddars,

getting sharper, growing older. But the truth is
there is no truth in this. I never lived there.

What would it mean, I used to wonder, to leave
everything you knew, leave it altogether, never mention
memories; start again inside that reticence?

I once drove into Tarbert at dawn. Everything was gone.
No distances; no trees. Only imagined ones.
I had to begin making my own pageant of

small hawthorn flowers, elderberry. We love fog because
it shifts old anomalies into the elements
surrounding them. It gives relief from a way of seeing.

It is the gift of sleep or the approach to sleep,
to make component parts of place and consciousness
meaningless and, as breathing slows down,

to do what water does, announce a source in cadence,
repetition, sound, allow a gradual dissolving of
boundaries between the actual and evident and still,

when all that is done, I know there never was
a single place for me. I never lost enough to have one.

I want to live where they refused to speak—
those first emigrants who never said
where they came from, what they left behind.

Their country was a finger to the lips, a child's question stopped.
And yet behind their eyes in eerie silence, was an island, if you
looked for it: bronze-green perch in a mute river.

Peat smoke rising from soundless kindling.
Rain falling on leaves and iron, making no noise at all.

Eavan Boland
Domestic Violence

All the light was north, snow on skylights,
the year I lived in the painter's studio.

Scrub forest behind the dunes, a litter
of deer tracks and shotgun shells.
I tied an orange bandanna around
the husky's neck.


I knew the dark place was wrong. I walked the letters
of my name, which I did not recognize spoken.

Low corridors.
Me. Her. The I
I could not find.

All the trees had fallen the same way
in the storm. A landscape pointing.

Anyone could happen like that.


The husky ate a bee
out of the air, snapped herself shut
on compound eyes, wing-blur, button
of darkness and buzz.


A rabbit streaked from under my feet.
Its nest fit my loose fist.
A cup of winter grass, still warm.

Home is the first everywhere,
the place we go out from.


The bee flew lower. Pollen graining its legs
drizzled onto linoleum shine. The room

was a different color for each of us. My shadow
bright blue-green in bee sight.

How could it not recognize the window
colored open?


I longed to be among trees. They wavered
beyond glass, beyond wire. They could not
be changed into words. They could not be changed
into anything. Even a camera couldn't see
the thick air around them, how it carried
sounds whole like water does,
how it supported slow birds.


Bee against pane, translucency
of wings. Centuries flew
against the glass. Then we found
the larger place: earth, that blue ark
afloat in the wilderness of space.

We cannot count ourselves out.


How beautiful it was
before we knew. How sweet how

A faint music falls from the stars—

no it does not.

Pamela Alexander

Slow Fire
Ausable Press

Monday, March 10, 2008

And Love for You Too, Frank

For Grace, After a Party
You do not always know what I am feeling.
Last night in the warm spring air while I was
blazing my tirade against someone who doesn't
me, it was love for you that set me
and isn't it odd? for in rooms full of
strangers my most tender feelings
writhe and
bear the fruit of screaming. Put out your hand,
isn't there
an ashtray, suddenly, there? beside
the bed? And someone you love enters the room
and says wouldn't
you like the eggs a little
different today?
And when they arrive they are
just plain scrambled eggs and the warm weather
is holding.

Frank O'Hara, of course
L,O,V,E and the Other Twenty-Two
Without you,
an ass would be just
a snake, amore
would be too demanding,
and there’d be no
Love is one person
in two bodies.

Not quite a ring—
more like a Cracker Jack prize
or meeting the parents.

Divorce: B loses
its better half.

Almost B, but not quite.
Or perhaps B,
unbuttoned for a while.
Keep watering
and it’ll grow
into something sweet-smelling
that we can call B.

Closer to the gold band
than C— met the parents,
now moving in together.
Eyes locked,
yet a handshake
that’s merely political.

All brain, feet,
and business—
no time to be a poet
or lover.

Add some mascara to I—
wink those lashes.
You’ve caught his eye.

Unrequited love.
J, turn away.
Play hard to get—make Jove
follow you to over to Love.

Mars denies
Venus is imbedded in his self,
even as her slim waist
is in his arms.

I’ll lead the dance
toward Z, falling
and bringing you with me.

The ring that C
aspires to be.
Caution: D only
a straight line away.

Formerly B,
now a poet.

Love can grow
and grow,
but don’t let it stray
outside the O.
The poet
attempts to repair B
and again.

When you dance like that,
wearing close to red or nothing,
you almost look like B.
You make love true.
Then again,
I feel that way
about R, U and E, as well.
But I suppose only you
have that kiss.

of Willendorf.
Venus of Willendorf
was too lonely
to eat. She became
an inverted Aphrodite,
now solitary only
when Mars is red.

Venus wages fierce kisses
on her husband, temporarily
forgiving his polemic demeanor.
Knees weak,
K finally gives in
to a kiss.

Playing footsie
over a martini.
N, with feigned left feet,
half dancing, half falling
towards bed.

Jeanette Marie Sayers
Virginia Arts of the Book Center

Friday, March 07, 2008

Ah, Calgone Take Me Away

Thanks to my favorite bird for pretending to be tolerant, if not amused at my new crazily-strident streak. I will leave today's comments to Mr. Chait and with luck, after a big, deep breath, I will switch back to the poetry program. It's aswarm outside with winter and I am going to eat Vietnamese food and then slide back home in the slush of it all.

The New Republic

Go Already!
by Jonathan Chait
Hillary Clinton, fratricidal maniac.
Post Date Thursday, March 06, 2008


The morning after Tuesday's primaries, Hillary Clinton's campaign released a memo titled "The Path to the Presidency." I eagerly dug into the paper, figuring it would explain how Clinton would obtain the Democratic nomination despite an enormous deficit in delegates. Instead, the memo offered a series of arguments as to why Clinton should run against John McCain--i.e., "Hillary is seen as the one who can get the job done"--but nothing about how she actually could. Is she planning a third-party run? Does she think Obama is going to die? The memo does not say.

Cohn: How Much Should Obama's Delegate Lead Matter?

The reason it doesn't say is that Clinton's path to the nomination is pretty repulsive. She isn't going to win at the polls. Barack Obama has a lead of 144 pledged delegates. That may not sound like a lot in a 4,000-delegate race, but it is. Clinton's Ohio win reduced that total by only nine. She would need 15 more Ohios to pull even with Obama. She isn't going to do much to dent, let alone eliminate, his lead.

That means, as we all have grown tired of hearing, that she would need to win with superdelegates. But, with most superdelegates already committed, Clinton would need to capture the remaining ones by a margin of better than two to one. And superdelegates are going to be extremely reluctant to overturn an elected delegate lead the size of Obama's. The only way to lessen that reluctance would be to destroy Obama's general election viability, so that superdelegates had no choice but to hand the nomination to her. Hence her flurry of attacks, her oddly qualified response as to whether Obama is a Muslim ("not as far as I know"), her repeated suggestions that John McCain is more qualified.

Clinton's justification for this strategy is that she needs to toughen up Obama for the general election-if he can't handle her attacks, he'll never stand up to the vast right-wing conspiracy. Without her hazing, warns the Clinton memo, "Democrats may have a nominee who will be a lightening rod of controversy." So Clinton's offensive against the likely nominee is really an act of selflessness. And here I was thinking she was maniacally pursuing her slim thread of a chance, not caring--or possibly even hoping, with an eye toward 2012-that she would destroy Obama's chances of defeating McCain in the process. I feel ashamed for having suspected her motives.

Still, there are a few flaws in Clinton's trial-by-smear method. The first is that her attacks on Obama are not a fair proxy for what he'd endure in the general election, because attacks are harder to refute when they come from within one's own party. Indeed, Clinton is saying almost exactly the same things about Obama that McCain is: He's inexperienced, lacking in substance, unequipped to handle foreign policy. As The Washington Monthly's Christina Larson has pointed out, in recent weeks the nightly newscasts have consisted of Clinton attacking Obama, McCain attacking Obama, and then Obama trying to defend himself and still get out his own message. If Obama's the nominee, he won't have a high-profile Democrat validating McCain's message every day.

Second, Obama can't "test" Clinton the way she can test him. While she likes to claim that she beat the Republican attack machine, it's more accurate to say that she survived with heavy damage. Clinton is a wildly polarizing figure, with disapproval ratings at or near 50 percent. But, because she earned the intense loyalty of core Democratic partisans, Obama has to tread gingerly around her vulnerabilities. There is a big bundle of ethical issues from the 1990s that Obama has not raised because he can't associate himself with what partisan Democrats (but not Republicans or swing voters) regard as a pure GOP witch hunt.

What's more, Clinton has benefited from a favorable gender dynamic that won't exist in the fall. (In the Democratic primary, female voters have outnumbered males by nearly three to two.) Clinton's claim to being a tough, tested potential commander-in-chief has gone almost unchallenged. Obama could reply that being First Lady doesn't qualify you to serve as commander-in-chief, but he won't quite say that, because feminists are an important chunk of the Democratic electorate. John McCain wouldn't be so reluctant.

Third, negative campaigning is a negative-sum activity. Both the attacker and the attackee tend to see their popularity drop. Usually, the victim's popularity drops farther than the perpetrator's, which is why negative campaigning works. But it doesn't work so well in primaries, where the winner has to go on to another election.

Clinton's path to the nomination, then, involves the following steps: kneecap an eloquent, inspiring, reform-minded young leader who happens to be the first serious African American presidential candidate (meanwhile cementing her own reputation for Nixonian ruthlessness) and then win a contested convention by persuading party elites to override the results at the polls. The plan may also involve trying to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations, after having explicitly agreed that the results would not count toward delegate totals. Oh, and her campaign has periodically hinted that some of Obama's elected delegates might break off and support her. I don't think she'd be in a position to defeat Hitler's dog in November, let alone a popular war hero.

Some Clinton supporters, like my friend (and historian) David Greenberg, have been assuring us that lengthy primary fights go on all the time and that the winner doesn't necessarily suffer a mortal wound in the process. But Clinton's kamikaze mission is likely to be unusually damaging. Not only is the opportunity cost--to wrap up the nomination, and spend John McCain into the ground for four months--uniquely high, but the venue could not be less convenient. Pennsylvania is a swing state that Democrats will almost certainly need to win in November, and Clinton will spend seven weeks and millions of dollars there making the case that Obama is unfit to set foot in the White House. You couldn't create a more damaging scenario if you tried.

Imagine in 2000, or 2004, that George W. Bush faced a primary fight that came down to Florida (his November must-win state). Imagine his opponent decided to spend seven weeks pounding home the theme that Bush had a dangerous plan to privatize Social Security. Would this have improved Bush's chances of defeating the Democrats? Would his party have stood for it?

Jonathan Chait is a senior editor at The New Republic.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I too, wish to quit devoting more space to Hillary

(here, here, Crazy and L-bo) but this Starr stuff, it is more dirty politics, more dishonesty, more broad generalization of the variety that leaves nearly as bad a taste in my mouth as the thought of McCain in office. You can bet that McCain was counting on it, that the way Hillary Clinton runs a campaign, the things she says and does recommend him to the most unexpected of voters. After what the Republican party has done to our country over the last eight years, it's hard to even fathom voting for them. But Hillary, her shadyness, her unattractive boundless greed and self-interest makes her "experience" look like one more deficit. Of course, her "experience" is hers alone when it suits her and first-lady behind-the-scenes "decision-making" when that serves her better. I move that we Ouiji board Eleanor Roosevelt into being and ask that she campaign. Better still, I'll write her in. Come on America, the shady, the tacky, the class-less, the lowdown, and selfish--isn't that the president we already have?
BTW: To those Hillarians that enjoy (with the exact same little smirk in voice or text or expression) asking (passively-aggressively as their sorry leader) what exactly makes me support Obama and then wait (ever-so-long-sufferingly) in expectation for me to say "He pretty. He pretty-speak. He rock-star. He c-o-o-l," allow me now to answer: It is indeed Hillary's experience and my experience of her and her absolute un-winning ways and the way she makes the prettiest boutannier on the lapel of John McCain in a shade so vividly right for him, that she brings out his eyes in the most compelling way. I mean, (for I do not want to be accused of using language too effectively as though it is the stuff of laws, bills, and every preliminary and crucial "move" that any president will ever need to make, it is apparently upsetting to some) I mean that I am interested in a candidate that can win this election and one that I am proud to support and endorse. The issues (yes, including that barely-mentioned HEALTH CARE) are not much different and where they do differ, I prefer a candidate that can admit that there will be challenges and he will fight hard to make change and do as he says he will do and not say anything, anything (including Kenneth Starr and invoke SNL to make a serious political point) just to try (however pitifully) to win at any cost to his party and finally, to his country.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Oh Ohio

sometimes you're so slow. That's okay. We'll catch you on up. L-Bo, every spare hour must be spent hitting the streets, those t-shirts, both poet and emu, and anything and everything that can be done to see to it that the candidate I find most representative of my wish for a president has an honest chance at it.


Tonight. Sitwell's Coffee Shop. Me and mine watch what kind of history we're in the middle of forming.

6:30 a.m.

found me at the polls where yes, GIRLS, oh yes, yes, yes, I did in fact vote and vote for Obama.

I felt as near to that sickeningly-simplistic concept of "patriotism" as I have ever felt. Proud to be there. Proud to be in bright, reasonable, considerate and gracious company. Proud of the young woman--seventeen y.o.--who was voting on a provisional ballot as her birthday was not until May. And maybe she was a Hilary supporter or worse...and maybe she will grow up to tell all of her women friends whether or not they are or are not feminists, but for now her motivation, will and momentum exemplify a good citizen if not a good feminist--not for me to say. As an Obama supporter, I feel it in keeping with the spirit of his campaign that I set out to do what I need to do and what is within my power to change and complete. I do not throw stones and I do not resort to every low trick in the book when I am not getting my way. But it has been a bit exasperating Gyrrrrllllssss, a bit wearisome really, the insults, the assumption that me and mine are all lipsticked and oblivious. I have completed all of my artistic goals, I have done so at great personal expense and instead of talking my "feminism" through a critique of other women and how they look or act or love, I have lived alone a long time and have w ith no traditional outs or ups. Having one's own mind means defending it even in the face of other overbearing and self-righteous WOMEN as well as men. It means knowing you are and what you love no matter who questions it.

Give me a bitch I can back, Tina Fey.