Friday, November 19, 2010

Second-Hand Risings

Found the ingredients to begin to shape my plum cake recipe. I am still deciding whether a chocolate cream cheese icing would be too much or just what the damsel plum ordered. Anyway, I completed my china pattern, a simple pattern I chose when I was only fifteen and attended a Greek wedding where the bride had registered for the reasonably-priced and kind of innocent pattern (a white rose on white background with the hint of blue shadow to its folds). It's a little fifteen year old me still, but I love that this late date from then I still like it and that it isn't the dumb 24 carat rimmed Lenox show-off china that so many other of the brides chose that year, primarily for the fact that it was the most expensive (and least interesting) of the patterns.

Thanksgiving is shaping up nicely, thanks to etsy, some thrifty runnings-around but little actual thrifting. That's the thing: I am taking a kind of mostly-haitus from thrifting, that delightful verb that makes a Friday afternoon into a treasure hunt. Because I am good at few things, and because I was trained by the best (Thanks Bear!) a professional antiques picker and my co-seller on an old ebay shop that made grad. school bearable and even at times, deeply elegant, I rarely go into a thrift store and don't score or as my friends Kyle & Russel used to say: "swoop!"

It's an urban treasure hunt says my friend, and he's right. That's why I'm not playing right now, it's back to that quiet (and the novel-writing I've been sneaking in b/w unpacking and holiday-planning). I am trying not to feel the rush of the find, trying not to feel "better" because a thing plugged up the lacunas-various that make me feel like I need to feel. And there is something to be said for leaving someone else space to have things that he likes and space to be filled-in with our shared-finds. There are only so many cutesie things or gorgeous scarves or dresses so pretty that I never wear them for fear I will ruin them, or dresses so numerous, I forget I have them until some wrong season or other, I move and find the summer dresses in the late fall or with my many summer moves: winter clothes that make me prespire just to look upon. I love the stories inside them, the fabrics that lay colors alongside one another in ways that seem fresh because they're not, new because they are so old.


tulip set
by the window

in its vase
of dusk is like
aflame. You

cannot help
but say — no.
Because a

tulip caught in
that glass is
a flame —

and once you
have said it how
to return to

bloomed stem
or soft spike
of anther

where now
is fire? Words
burn — bridge

colours away
from colour — so
while one

tulip flares
we lay waste
to night and

our reddened
names — the way

cannot bear to
end — or as you

take your leave
of Mario that

so missed and
strange. And you
sputter so

fierce with it
that you say it
again —

that this gift of
tulip is un-
like any

other — which
fires my lips
with a glow

already half
subsiding as you
turn to gaze — to

look with a mind
on the very point
of opening.

2010 Mario Petrucci

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

After Praising Silence, Two in One Day

Because I meant to talk a little about assembling a home. About an umbrella I saw today with one of my most stylish students that caused me to think "what is yellow like that?"

I have my first grown-up kitchen, after scouring most of High Street, and ending up purchasing from Grand View Mercantile a sideboard and a china cabinet, both wonderfully 40s with little deco-like green designs and a wonderful oak with yes, chrome legs. Then Clintonville to find a table, that quite nearly (and to the detail)matched the atomic, rustic thing that my kitchen begs to be. Really, it's a kind of vintage country at the end of the day. I have favorite High St. shops and my collection of thrift stores that I stalked, inclusive of Flower Child and my beloved Mary Catherine's, one shop that I found great finds at but no longer visit as the owner and I find one another's presence less than pleasant, and a great little bank of North high shops where I found a stoneware bowl that I still dream of owning and a blue-mirrored table to match my coffee table. We looked and looked for a couch that met the criteria for somewhat divergent aesthetics, and the salmon-velvet couch I loved lost out to a big, new couch but with my upholstery picks and my mid-century accent chairs:one coral clam-shell back herculan beauty with day-sky of silver-threaded stars to its sun-setting sky and one torn to bits chair that had crossing legs on the side and made the upholsterer declare that for all the antiques he'd seen, he had never before seen a chair like this. It will come home all olive-velveted up with a throw pillow of fuchsia carved velvet and little chartreuse leaves.

What's interesting about any of this? To me, it's home, the first one I've ever really made, and the first time that if I paint a wall, it's my wall. If I find something major to buy for it, it comes from some place I love to support and it is a gift to the home and to time itself, not forever but long enough to warrant the look-ahead. How long has it been since I could say as much?

Teaching lately has been really wonderful. My lit. class is full of some very special and especially bright students who are full of life and make me feel as if they are getting as much a kick out of the class as I am. My fiction workshop was so savvy and on in their assessments of one another's stories today that I felt like I was sitting in a grad. workshop.

Body of the Hour

To say, the soul

is like saying, the clock
lost its body and went on ticking.

Shadow-body, this one
who lived behind the bat-faced
bone of the pelvis

raised in the slicked-back hackle of blood . . .

To say, comfort me now in the hour
of my loss is

to be the hour, always.
To be Lord Almost.
Mother So-Close.

To be this time each time
you stop—put down the fork
or turn the page and look up:

The meadow in a lather of white
four-o-clocks, the birthmarked
butterfly moving

as if written—erased—written . . .
I remember once in this world
I was an absence,
like you. Like you.

Beckian Fritz Goldberg

Where Have I Been Lately?

The obvious answer is Shawnee Hills or New Home or Revising My Life. But that last one is apt enough to move me into today's post about not posting, not engaging, listening more, talking less, and the quiet of the new place I live that makes every sound significant. This, in striking opposition to the narcissism-dial to which our American radios are too often set.

I think I wanted this quiet for my novel, my poems, for the kind of serenity that me and mine can enjoy over our shared love of great music, books and the decor and wardrobe that were stuffing the draughty holes of me up, much in the shabby way that my old apartment's ticky-tack winterizing functioned (or didn't) so that I could stand in my bathroom, put on my lipstick on a windy day and look as if I were posing for a magazine with my hair blowing back slightly in mid-December, with closed windows. The people I really admire, really want to be like when/if I grow up, have things to say that are related to something beyond themselves and the world's perceptions of them. An old boyfriend of mine once said that people often grossly overestimated their looks--believing every good, inflated thing that they heard or tried to pull from people, and too, their sense of how interesting they were. He didn't say, but I went on to consider, that this often takes place in inverse proportion to the amount of chatter of the self or rather prattle about oneself in which a person engages or indulges him/her/self. I read for a time, the journals and poems of May Sarton, and from her I learned about looking outward, keeping the internal internal and watching birds and plants to deal with some of life's more intimate griefs. It isn't that she doesn't tell, it's that she doesn't make it the point of things.

I have been trying to keep what's mine inside and leave some room for steeping things up for the page. I guess I'm saying that it keeps me from this blog where I had the sense that one or two people that I might know in some way read me and that others might swing by and read something that would help to make them or me feel better understood. I had little life in Columbus outside of school and work and this was a way to have holidays with, if not friends, then company of some sort.

Now there are birds whose names I don't know that flicker in and out of branches and a new all black cat that I think I'll call Loretta after my favorite Cher character in one of my favorite movies of all time or Marlo or Ann Marie for That Girl and how I love her or maybe Romany because I don't know where she comes from and I love that word. And there are streets I haven't wandered and neighbors I haven't met and there is the real time to consider and how fast it is flying by.

This Is Not My Story

cereal boxes in the kitchen

cupboard nibbled through
the sudden appearance of

droppings, a mouse in
the house, her lover says
it has a very tiny heart,

you need only chase
it until it tires; he knows
the hearts of small creatures

having chased down a few
chickens in his youth, accustomed
to how birds wear out

easily — the human heart is
a wholly different animal,
we must sense when to give in

before the other gives up

Shin Yu Pai

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Autumnal Rumination

It is a grey day, the yellow trees standing out against the misty landscape as if they were dressed in something loud for a sixties theme party. I'm going to wear my new grey sweater bought on major sale at the E. Bauer warehouse and my navy shirt, all care of The Boy and our shopping trip yesterday for the "outerwear" sale. He bought the softest olive parka, a(nother) black fleece vest, and a grey down parka vest that makes him look all Redford and frosty. But it's not all that shopping that got me to thinking, but the sweet phonecall from my best friend and his comment that our night sounded really nice and the plan to barbeque together after we sign on the new place and that all that I have really loved is still here and that it just keeps getting added on to. My good New York friend (and first love) off to Berlin and healing after losing his wife two Thanksgivings ago when we cried on the phone together at 6 a.m. and I was brand new to Columbus and so alone that I went to Barnes & Noble when they opened and walked around there, lost, grieving, so lonely for four straight hours. And of course, there is the Bear and the baby bear and the cherished Juniper and her mother, J that have become dear to me, too. Not to mention the great friends that have offered to help move me to the new house, have offered us all kinds of help in building and repairing and how J brought boxes and M offered to dress like cat burglars for Operation Terracotta and it goes on and it's true what my friend said about an average Monday night when me and mine tried on clothes for each other and then went to the Y and then home again for our bevy of shows before the sleep that comes from the new chill of fall, which is also warm and extraordinary.

Condolence Note: Los Angeles

The sky is desert blue,
Like the pool. Secluded.
No swimmers here. No smog—

Unless you count this twisting
Brush fire in the hills. Two kids
Sit, head-to-head, poolside,

Rehearsing a condolence note.
Someone has died, "Not an intimate,
Perhaps a family friend," prompts

The Manners Guide they consult.
You shouldn't say God never makes
Mistakes, she quotes, snapping her

Bikini top. Right, he adds—You
Could just say, He's better off—or
Heaven was always in his future.

There's always a better way to say
We're sorry that he's dead—but
they're back inside their music now,

Pages of politeness fallen between them.
O do not say that the Unsaid drifts over us
Like blown smoke: a single spark erupts

In wildfire! Cup your hands, blow out
This wish for insight. Say: Forgive me
For living when you are dead. Say pardon

My need to praise, without you, this bright
Morning sky. It belongs to no one—
But I offer it to you, heaven in your future—

Along with silent tunes from the playlist,
The end-time etiquette book dropped
From the hand of the young sleeper.

It's all we have left to share. The book
Of paid respects, the morning's hot-blue
iPod, sunlit words on a page, black border.

Carol Muske-Dukes

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

There's something about weeping cellos and willows

that my student said today and something about red taffetta and how September is a fragile month, palming a blown-glass carousel. Or it's not. Fragile. Blown-glass. What it is clear, intricate, wonderous and so on. Last month I started another blog, a secret place for trying on ideas, essay bits, a place to explore what it means not to perform or to perform anonymously like whoever left that painting against the telephone pole last month and what in me wanted to drive back for it--floral-beauty of a thing and what in me said "leave some pretty for someone else" so I did.

M makes me think about identity, how much people hang themselves out of windows and say, in essence, "look at me" but with no real art to it. Just talk and show. Just desparation so loud that it is hard to really look at. Facebook does that. The status updates that I too, indulge. How many bits of what I might be able to call literature lost themselves to the wasted moments of gossip, trivia and time-wasting and now, here, how I linger when I was just preparing manuscripts and which I will again soon. With luck, the little fragments I am shoring up will soon be stories, poems, essays, novel and will make of my time a worthwhile sacrifice. For now, back to it. But not before I share a pretty.


The throaty jangle of pennies against
pennies against the porcelain belly
of a dressertop pig, or a train ticket
slipped into the space between book pages.
A sweater stretched across an empty seat
in a concert hall lit with pinball chatter
before the house lights dim. Pickling jars
on a pantry shelf, gold-lidded terrariums
to preserve the seasons: crooknecked
cucumbers, drifty layers of lemon wheels,
round red beets. It's time to reset
all the clocks, create a new architecture
of daylight and dark. It's time to stand
in the sun and stain our shoes with
cemetery dirt. Now we're parceling
the contents of the house, what's left
in this shingled shell. There are colors:
the plump yellow sofa, the empty gray
coatsleeves brushing against each other
in the hall closet, the fleshy deep green leaves
of the jade plant, stout stacks of white
dinner plates. There is a full set of sterling,
a pair of Eames chairs. There are old letters
softening in shoeboxes, there is everything
suspended in ink, and everything that is not.

Copyright © 2010 Alison Doernberg All rights reserved

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blessed Be & So on

which run together just reads soon. By which I mean not a moment too

I walked down to the reservoir today, by this I mean: I walked through a house at the edge of the woods overlooking a body of water that will soon find me and mine on a boat of some type looking down at ourselves to see that this is really us, this is me, everything I couldn't have even known to want and at long, precious last.

There is no month more beloved to me than September, and to have it announced like this, against a sky that called a heron and its mate off the water's edge and mirroring one another from lake-skimming flight to sky-topping soar in a wonderful parallel symmetry was almost overkill on the pretty and the right.

If this were a beaded bracelet there are beads to ward off the evil eye: breaks in the pattern, deliberate fate-tricking "mistakes." We haul our big personalities in wheelbarrows and sometimes we bumper-car them about. We need open country and unassuming horizons to remind us how good the quiet and calm, how illustrative.

Soon I find what lives in 1965 again, what shares space with a curved countertop and a wood-burning stove with its ceramic starburst tile in every shade of mod. But not before we Tampa and parent-meet and Evan-celebrate. Such good verbs this life.

I am afraid of how good it feels to be this very me this very month.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Good Mail

Imagine a package with a packet of columbine seeds and bachelor buttons, a little Chinese envelope tied with delicious coral ribbon and containing a pair of cloisinne Chinese fan earrings, a drawing of the most vibrant butterflies rendered in the most magical of magic markers and flying against a yellow construction paper sky. Imagine a little handmade card that accordions out and contains the most incredible little drawings. Between that and my recent addiction to Alberta Hunter and my late-to-the-game discovery of the newly-late Abbey Lincoln, it has been a week of gifts.

Stone Seeking Warmth

Look, it's usually not a good idea
to think seriously about me.
I've been known to give others
a hard time. I've had wives and lovers—
trust that I know a little about trying
to remain whole while living
a divided life. I don't easily open up.
If you come to me, come to me
so warned. I am smooth and grayish.
It's possible my soul is made of schist.

But if you are not dissuaded by now,
well, my door is ajar. I don't care
if you're in collusion with the wind.
I wouldn't mind being diminished
one caress at a time. Come in,
there's nothing here but solitude
and me. I like to keep the house clean.

Stephen Dunn

Almanac Magic
for John Wood

Believe in the bounty of drought,
of fire and locust. Count on
jackrabbit luck to grow your seed
and the tip of a dipper for rain.

If the man in the moon is late arising,
and your wife swells with your future,
she'll be craving clay and kneeling down
to eat that dirt from the root cellar.

But know your future will grow up
to leave you, to follow the magpie
with a song of honey and foil
from city neon alive in its eyes.

You stay to plow through days of sod and rock
and pray the rusty dray outlasts the harvest.

Let the wild oat drill into your hands
crooked from handles of shovels and hayforks.
Read your future in the cracks of this land,
in the bumble of tumbleweed and the stir of the hive.

Now listen for wind to shush your wheat asleep
and the scythe as it whispers its name to the sheaves.

Copyright © 2010 Allen Braden All rights reserved
from A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sometimes a day rotates on its axis and where we were
becomes a shadow of where we are, the day rotates, the axis
holds the place but we are cast across the room from ourselves
former or otherwise and we are cast in bronze, out of Eden,
off like a bad wig, in a role all wrong for us
but begin to occupy it, shout its bad lines with so much
sincerity, we forget the selves across the day from us
and then days gather so fast. We are matter's playthings
we are matter's peacock pyrite, dumb, pretty stones
all color in enough light, but where do we ever find
enough light to give the stupidity of stones insight?

Sometimes we pass a costume shop on a Sunday, Cleveland
where things are often set for the nonstatement of middle America
but in this case, the window, the closed costume shop and the boa
cheap feathers but regal somehow makes us want to break glass
in what really is Cleveland, Ohio, mid-August and on the run.
The car, black, being driven by someone we imagine into the rest
of our lives, and the boa, a blue like the blue that the Blue Men
honor, a blue so thick with a cobalt-intensity, nearing violet
but holding-off so that the punch of it hits miles after
we pass the thing and know that alone we would have found
a way to bring that blue home,us it against one a.m.
when the someones all sleep us off. Elegies are wasted
on the dead and the living alike.


Friday, August 06, 2010

After the rain, trees burn with monarchs,
come this winter on dust-and-paper bodies.
Some of the dead cling to trash on the road,

frames of wings like frames of broken windows.
You say you never saw anything like them
in China, though you cannot say for sure.

As a girl, you leashed crickets with ox hairs
and baited bees with sweet tomato flesh.
But nothing like this, you say, like this orange.

This monarch generation lives three times
longer than its parents, than it would without
a migration to complete. They are given

time to break their bodies over mountains
and heave themselves onto warm trees
so they all might survive. Are you wondering

how much more time you have been given
to learn a language and forget a language, to break
your body over an ocean for this pale

redwood dusk and this daughter?
I know you were not drawn here to save
yourself. I cannot tell you that I have

nothing to save, nothing that waits for me
to be drawn, nothing that says, you must,
you must break your wings for this.

Melody S. Gee

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The patio door keeps flashing silver and it seems all Hopkinsesque to me, that shining, that shook foil of night on lake and the rumble that makes all the plants on the patio smear themselves against the backdrop of gunmetal and blown-lace sky. Everything's in motion out there and sleep seems to be tearing through the night too, swinging through those trees like a little boy playing Tarzan or like something called to the window by the lost boys and asked to fly the nightsky. Three flashes of light just made the trees shake-white and inside one girl types by the rectangular light of a screen and one boy turns over to a blank patch of sheet and pillow and wonders why that girl sleeps so little. It's nice to have a sleeping someone to curl back into and nice too, to trip words out on the wide water of the night, like flat-stones meant for such gliding.

Tomorrow marks the final day of my final summer course. I am a little weary. This one was an emotional wring-out in a lot of ways. There will be too little recharging time before I'm back at the gates and someone pulls the trigger and for so much less cash and three times the teaching, I am galloping, hanging from my weak arms by the horn of the saddle. The thunder is tripping alarms all over the parking lot and I am reminded of my deaf student on the day the alarm went off at school. Everyone in the room grimacing and her laughing as I walked in and she gestured to me a sign that I understood as alarm and she was enjoying being the one to translate the chaos that she knew I could hear too loud and too well and that she was mercifully-spared.

Take that, she might have said to music and the good noise of the spheres. Which is kind of me just now in ways it's hard to explain. There is so much scattered just now. Too much matter to shuffle about but the true matter lies miraculously in the next room and the prayed-for-this is not lost on me.

I am working on a first poem for Evan. Something about the way he waves goodbye as he sees the wave, at himself. How there is not greater thing to teach him about that. His whole life he will be trying to remember that that is how goodbyes work, your own hand facing you and the fingers opening, closing in a gesture that could just as easily be come here if the intention was not farewell and that farewell never so much directed as anything as back at yourself.

He is all joy, that baby, and all gift and the ten childrens' books I send along to him soon are what this aunt can most give: words and the way that at 3:35 a.m. even if someone you love dearly sleeps through the storm and to your peripheral right, seering electricity stabs the night into midday for one jarring millisecond, and you cannot sleep in all that white-heat, words, words, can keep you company for as long as you ask.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Before and after all of this, remember that first fall, fat with colors and the swerves in canyon road that your body took for the car, and unafraid as if your mountain-birth meant mountain rights and your body recalled each jig and jag, each rick-rack heartlining the slope with what could only be a steady pulse. Before and after it all, there is just what you lean into or slow down from fear. I could never ski for this reason: body trust and terror, the certainty that speed craved more of itself and the body accelerated is a brittle, blown-glass thing. I did my extreme sports with my soul, catapulting it here, vaulting it there, the long stretches on French heights, the soul pedalling hard and finishing barely and far behind.
When You Return
Ellen Bass

Fallen leaves will climb back into trees.
Shards of the shattered vase will rise
and reassemble on the table.
Plastic raincoats will refold
into their flat envelopes. The egg,
bald yolk and its transparent halo,
slide back in the thin, calcium shell.
Curses will pour back into mouths,
letters un-write themselves, words
siphoned up into the pen. My gray hair
will darken and become the feathers
of a black swan. Bullets will snap
back into their chambers, the powder
tamped tight in brass casings. Borders
will disappear from maps. Rust
revert to oxygen and time. The fire
return to the log, the log to the tree,
the white root curled up
in the un-split seed. Birdsong will fly
into the lark’s lungs, answers
become questions again.
When you return, sweaters will unravel
and wool grow on the sheep.
Rock will go home to mountain, gold
to vein. Wine crushed into the grape,
oil pressed into the olive. Silk reeled in
to the spider’s belly. Night moths
tucked close into cocoons, ink drained
from the indigo tattoo. Diamonds
will be returned to coal, coal
to rotting ferns, rain to clouds, light
to stars sucked back and back
into one timeless point, the way it was
before the world was born,
that fresh, that whole, nothing
broken, nothing torn apart.

Ode to The God of Atheists
Ellen Bass

The god of atheists won’t burn you at the stake
or pry off your fingernails. Nor will it make you
bow or beg, rake your skin with thorns,
or buy gold leaf and stained-glass windows.
It won’t insist you fast or twist
the shape of your sexual hunger.
There are no wars fought for it, no women stoned for it.
You don’t have to veil your face for it
or bloody your knees.
You don’t have to sing.

The plums that bloom extravagantly,
the dolphins that stitch sky to sea,
each pebble and fern, pond and fish
are yours whether or not you believe.

When fog is ripped away
just as a rust red thumb slides across the moon,
the god of atheists isn’t rewarding you
for waking up in the middle of the night
and shivering barefoot in the field.

This god is not moved by the musk
of incense or bowls of oranges,
the mask brushed with cochineal,
polished rib of the lion.
Eat the macerated leaves
of the sacred plant. Dance
till the stars blur to a spangly river.
Rain, if it comes, will come.
This god loves the virus as much as the child.

Wild Strawberries

Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep
with a girl your daughter's age, her breasts spilling
out of her blouse. Or your wife
will remember she's a lesbian
and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat—
the one you never really liked—will contract a disease
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
every four hours, for a month.
Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you'll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn't plug her heart
into every live socket she passes,
you'll come home to find your son has emptied
your refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
and called the used appliance store for a pick up—drug money.
There's a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
and climbs halfway down. But there's also a tiger below.
And two mice—one white, one black—scurry out
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
She looks up, down, at the mice.
Then she eats the strawberry.
So here's the view, the breeze, the pulse
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you'll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You'll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.

Ellen Bass

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Days on Water, Babyskin, Grilled Lobster, Mirth Kitchen

Days on water, on air and two if by landed, at last, albeit gently but arrived. Some holidays remind you why you live. Three sisters dancing with one baby boy in a kitchen full of so much warmth and not because the days touched the near hundred mark or the cooking. This what being alive was meant to be I felt as that little babyboy dancing with us and laughed and each of us, for once, had all this plus good love in our lives. It felt like the pay-off for years of work. Three sisters so happy and the husband/brother-in-law all we could wish for in chosen family and my boy: a perfect, beautiful fit and hit with everyone.
For our one beach night, we chose St. Petersburg instead of Treasure Island, and the water bathy and the sand a pristine white and in the mornings there were two ribbons of amazing seashells to be gathered. One so large and intact,rusty-striped, that it looked like I cheated and bought it from one of those seashell shops.

Days in water, the heat so heavy that there was only to submerge: a swimming pool lovely and fountained, an ocean with white sands and clean warm water and so much splashing and laughter that the days could not contain more, though they tried.

Back in Ohio, I keep dreaming Florida. How relaxing and easy it all was. How crazily right my life became all at once and without warning.
Now to teach and then to try packing some things. I don't know what my new address will be yet, but the adventure of that, plus days up in Dublin with a swimming pool and workout area on-site, plus the best garden patio, are things to be savored right now.

My sale-hydrangea is yet-blooming and if it hangs in with me, I will be planting it in the soil of a home I can call my own for a long time. Right now, it hangs on a third floor balcony over a lake loud with Canadian geese and teeming with ducklings and the background of only water and sky. Bliss.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Two Oh Seven A. M. is For

If not looking into the darkness and finding it line-broken, the caesuras and commas most of what life is: waiting rooms. The waiting takes more as the days get shorter and after reading Jackie Osherow's God's Acrostic again, and after considering all she says about how maybe God has hidden things in plain sight, down the vertical margins of our seasons and science and our eyes, dutiful drones, glide left to right while we lose the most pressing part of the message.

It's two a.m. again and I have been up twice since I went down. I sleep too little and fitfully, but there is good in this here insomnia and there are dreams. Just now I am thinking a student's after class conversation about how "whatever it is: fate or God or the universe, I feel like things are floating all around me and just when I need them, some drop down and into place." Never have I been more susceptable to such musings as this year, this everylargethingatonce year. The new babies in my life, the maybe-house-buying, and all the love, in various and unexpected forms but there and with people magical enough to know what it is and to tend to it.

The line breaks give the line another way of meaning, I told my class today. A visual moment of holding a thought and then, like breath, releasing it to the next unit of attention. The line breaks give a poem a way of being art with the strings of beads and the pattern of any given musical line of design, a way to pause for a minute and "hold that thought" while a line of prose would be lost to the paragraph, the line break allows that linger--however momentary and un-slowed in the reading--to give the eye a small trinket as it leaves the one line and serpentines down to begin the next. Only a poem does that, and sometimes, when we're lucky, a day.

In a few days, I hold Evan again and my sisters meet the boy and the beginning of the kind of unity of all that matters to me continues and there will be the sea too, some rented convertable and a stretch of stupidly-clear sky. What clouds find us, find us laughing.

For now, sleep.


She writes with lavender ink on cream vellum. A crow
takes roost in the monkey puzzle, is lost

in its formal bracts. It rains; the rivers rise.
Clouds drifting east swell with the monsoon

flooding Thailand; the woman weeps
as she writes. A cargo liner headed seaward

escapes the tip of a triangle. Fingers of rain
point down. A foghorn declaims the enormity

of ocean, its black fathoms. In a small town
on another coast, a man checks the sky,

puts on his raincoat, opens his mailbox — galvanized steel,
flag for rural delivery — inside, an envelope

that he slices with the knife he folds
and pockets before removing her letter.

He will know the spidery purple, the fine cream,
the strokes that slope left, slightly. See, the ink

on the letter is smudged, I just need to know
you are there, the envelope, rain spotted.

Copyright © 2010 Diane Kirsten Martin All rights reserved
from Conjugated Visits
Dream Horse Press

Thursday, July 08, 2010

How Swiftly Fly the Days These Days

Teaching all summer and gratefully-so but the days are gone before I know it and the things I meant to do gone with them. A special stolen afternoon with dear Les and the laughter from that and her good brain and heart and the wonderful "buddha bowl" of my old north star made an unexpected treat of the afternoon. Sad began it, her worries and devotion over her dearest friend, but the time itself was good I think, and I was grateful for it. Tomorrow I meant to Yellow Springs, to watch a movie in the art theater there but I may just meander here, make some time for the pool, pack some boxes, get my life into a portable mode.

Tonight I am enjoying the few minutes before I turn in and the last few weeks in this place and in my own place, too. We're off to new adventures. My adventure is the "we" of it and the address, and the house or the symbolic commitments to a place, a set of walls, a bunch of what humans do to say "permanence" while the seasons and the gods laugh. But aren't we pretty to think so? And aren't we beautiful in our attempts? In the face of so much that says no, not bloody likely, as my beloved-boy would say, we say, "if you don't mind, I'll try just the same."

I mean, I believe in the goings-ahead and I am thrilled to be up to the task for the first real time in say, nine years. I am excited to have a yard where what I plant grows and what gets buried can be decorated with my homegrown flowers. I am happy for all that has had to change and be grown and buried to make this new now possible.

Echoing Canto of Fixedness

The effort made by stars
to move for us is massive:
from our fixed point

looking up through crevice
or canyon, at the vast and intricate
patterning, appraising

from a cleared or blank space,
is frightening. `Miracle'
of tawny frogmouth,

aesthetic as torn wood
in its belying swoop, distending
mouth swallowing pinpricks

of gnat-light, is nudged
aside, or magnified if waxing
spirits move the display,

intensity of mortality,
to account for fireworks:
intertexts and skyshow.

Copyright © 2010 John Kinsella All rights reserved

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Time to Make the Doughnuts

It's 3:00 a.m. and I am awake only because there was iced coffee today and as much of it as I could down despite knowing tonight would read something like this.

Life is good at Intaglioville. Life is drastically-revised. By summer's end there will be new dwellings, a luscious new room-mate and happiness, laughter every single day or maybe I mean now on those last two.

Back from visiting the family, the roadtrip to Denver and now the big plans, including a visit to the sun and sea of some place I have never been. I will try to post something poetic soon.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mostly Southern Appendages

Today I was offered a list of payphrases, which I declined, but not before looking them all over. I love language.

Oh Poems, how I have failed thee. Still there is one coming for Matt G. that begins with "I have these feelings about spatulas." There are others. The world is a weird kind of poetic lately. I feel settled and un in equal measure.

But I am eyeball-deep in interesting reading. And I have no need to go scrambling about in the most mundane of activities, the most soul-stealing and futile (dating). So there is space, calm and some kind of simpatico to my see-saw.

More when I come up for air. For now, I grade and class-plan and wish to finish some more writing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A zillion poems behind

blame it on Denver, the catch-up of returning, the emotional exhaustion (for life-revolutions don't come cheap) the so-much to do and so-much that matters.

Plus, two poems that I can't post. They are not only my stories to tell. Even w/o those, I am behind.

I have begun a number, completed some little ones and kept up on much of the prose-intended. I have promised my California-ed away sweet-chimp that I will have fifty pages of consecutive text ready by the weekend.

For now, a little taste of Day 5/TMI, with apologies to GML for his cribbed-idea and stolen memory. I promise to share many memories to even the score. More than a few weeks or months can hold.


He rakes the yard and gets angry at snapshots
blown from the trash and down the alley:
turned into a corridor
of personality and look-at-me,
wonders what happened to decorum,
or dated-though-it-sounds, modesty.
Wednesday his wife changed her status
to it’s complicated, today’s Friday
and she’s asking to separate. Four hundred
thirty-seven people knew as much two days
ago and he wonders when friend became a verb
how and when she unfriended him and a faded
shot of a Ford Taurus blows into the tam or the fitzer
he’s never sure which,a picture of a German Shepherd
posed in front of a cape cod in the middle of Ohio
appears against the chain link, somebody's swingset,
somebody's clothesline billowing with unmentionables
photographed, no doubt, for the way wind
blows up a garment, lends it form,
blows down the alley end over end.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

April Prose Posies Days Three and Four

Sweetbitter unmanageable creature who steals in let’s call you memory and be done with it. But I won’t be, won’t be done waking to the thought of climbing those back stairs again, the black matte linoleum I painted to match the kitchen caught somewhere between a moment in 1930 or reawakened into the 50s, the mint green cabinets and the plastic utensils I spray painted around so that throughout the black background, it appeared that murders had taken place and the chalked-out bodies were those of forks, knives, spoons, all haloed out in shades of white, red and mint. The creaky wooden back steps and then bursting into this room, Sam there at the counter, Hey Annie, and it was all there: the things I couldn’t conjure up if asked, the blender here, coffee pot there, what ever happened to that pitcher—the one with the handle re-glued after the cat threw a bowl off the high shelf like a bomb to it. Sam there pouring the morning into our matching cups, Sam there, tall, cheerful, Sam there…and I’m stuck in that place in time again.

I am stuck in that place for a minute like something locking up a gear. What I know of love and memory are gears, how they grind things up or are only stopped by finding what to lodge in their workings.
(from Season of White Flies)


Partly Due

to seven seasons since the satanic ritual
we called changing-my-life

to timing—as with automobiles, air travel,
fertility, comedy, marketing and yes, love.

yes, Love, partly due to the dew itself clinging
like a real diamond on a blade of grass;

partly due to all the cubic zirconias, bad flashy
rhinestones, paste sparkles and cloudy stones.

Partly due to death--its morning breath reeking
up the new day. Ask anyone: things die

you will and so will I, we are partly-due
for bliss in some fashion. Partly due to war

that nonstop party, partly due to the diminishing
honeybees, the vanishing gorillas, the faces so human

one can read the elegies inside their dark, wet eyes,
the requiems they compose across their own brows.

partly due to somewhere, in some language,
taking hold and letting go must be one in the same

partly due to a newfound fluency and passport
in need of renewal, a globe spun like a girl

whirling her frothy dress around just before
a dance, a thrill in wherever she’s going next.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Day Two April Poem by Guest Poet G.M. Lear

You're supposed to every day drink a lot of water
I know it's very difficult, but you oughter.

Friday, April 02, 2010

April Day Two Brewer

Geese scream the pond’s surface out of smoothness
a hand re-wrinkling the bedsheets.

To skim the season off the top of the lake
and hang it in the panes for a way to look out.

To look-out from the balcony to any god’s hand-mirror
and see the sky’s jigsawed countenance on the ground.

The rainfall that fell there, falls up, regives.
What isn’t earth, isn’t air, isn’t fire is.

April ala Brewer Prompts Napowrimo

Not the Same as Being Alone

The wild geese collide with you
outside the window where she sleeps
and does not sleep alone
yet still you’re there, too.

Why here again, why now? If he’s there, again,
then how? So many places need you
more: country music’s lost
without you, love songs, too, a tumbleweed dress
falling hem over neckline and hem again,
an appaloosa tearing wild down a prairie. The cattle low
at twilight, where a woman does not sleep

solo, yet you: wandering as a cloud, a state of being
they believed left behind, come in now,
settle-down, lovers have always shared a bed with you.
April Flowers

If not, winter remains, a stain where whiteness is the stain. If not, starlight intrudes on the dark, spots it, light dribbles down the nightness, bleached. If not, winter to skid Sam out of the living and into the otherwise. If not speed’s black ice or the seasons worn, not on the highway but on the blank stare of the impossibly-old woman who pulled out onto the interstate without imagining that what her peripheral vision missed and what she did not turn to see was my husband bound for groceries like any-husband but transformed now to involuntary stuntman, an Evil Kneivel who never trained for the moment when he’d swerve to save her antique bones and make of his body a kind of figure of resurrection, rising like a circus-Messiah sprung from a cannon but the funny part, the bent knee bounced down to the ground, the perky jump up to show his form and intention, that part got skipped, if not for that, what would remove him from me, I wondered. Not time, for the widowed never imagine that their love would end lamely, a cute bank-teller, a telling bank statement, a night at a hotel so extravagant, no wife imagines her body ever sliding down the luxurious length of such-bedding again.

The one with violets in her lap is the other, or child. The one with violets in her lap is never you again, when wooing has made way for the won-over, the once-over that finds you found. The one with violets in her lap in never wife, but widow, I think, while I take the funeral arrangements apart and throw them all over the living room floor. What I remember are the violets, delicate things we kept on a step-ladder that Sammy and I painted over in leftover colors: honeydew green, sockeye salmon, a color called puce and one eerie blue. We called it the Vomit of Key West but with the violets we tended in their various shades of purple, magenta, and plum, there was harmony to it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

O Bless You & Bless You & A-choo

Spoke with Evan on Skype tonight. He sneezed and his mommy and I both blessed him, which made him strangely-happy. He likes when things he does get response. He claps, I clap, I sing the little Greek song about clapping and braided Greek cookies in paper (koulourakia) brought home by the daddy. My own Daddy taught Evan the song, just as he taught Evy's mommy and her sisters which is yours truly, for one.

Yours truly is watching life steamroll in at the speed of well, something. Things she can't say here and things she can't say yet but there are life revolutions afoot, everywhere.

For now there are words and I have had some rattling around and some falling inkily-thud to the page. There will be more. There will be more. But the blog, is the blog a thing I use to keep things like wildflowers trapped between panes of glass? Is it a place I spoke to/from when loneliest? I am some things more than others but the loneliness tree does not grow tall in me. I can point to where it's planted, it will always stand but... I have lost the urge to say what I can't or shouldn't yet say.

But not to share beauty. My favorite phonecalls are the ones where Kat, Liz or Veace; The Bear, the Spoon, or even the old friend SF used to call in a poem to me. We would find something so urgently-beautiful that we rushed to share it, so pressing was the need to carry it to someone else.

How to Say I Love You
On evenings when my dogs and I circle the block,
if I am guilty of anything,

it's being distracted by the streetlamp.

I am visible in it.

If I look directly at the lamp, I can't see the stars.
I don't need the stars anymore?
I used to think

I'd cavern you, and grotto you, waterfall you,
and immense-rock you, solitude you

until rain Bristled the evening, lit
our roof to singing—

And of thinking too hard about what to say
when we're home from our walk:

my wife: welcome home high-wires
and habitual nightmares, lonely woes
and wooden shoes!

Copyright © 2010 Gary L. McDowell All rights reserved

Monday, March 22, 2010


One of those "Amelie" moments came to me today in the form of an old candy that no one recalled but me.

The scene I am referencing is the one where in a phone booth, our heroine sees to it that the older man finds the tin full of his treasures from forty years previous. My moment was not so large and moving but it was pure nostalgia. As a child I recalled Flicks for their design and the vibrant foil tubes. The chocolate was, in fact, chocolate-flavored and even years ago, it tasted kind of cheap but uniquely itself. But the tubes, like kaleidoscopes in shape, like special, exotic gifts: metallicly-red, gold, green and blue. Stacked together they were a wonderful xylophone or the satisfying cylinders of a pipe organ. In any case, they moved me, reminded me of lives and theatres gone by of Evanston, Wyoming's one Strand Theatre that held all the town's romantic secrets on any given Friday night. Of the young girl always on the outskirts of everything, waiting in line.
Stray Paragraphs, February, Year of the Rat
After Charles Wright

Why we resist coming after, coming second, coming late
but not last
I cannot say, but we seem to, though we should root to, if we
had the sense of a brush pile, or the squirrels.

There are no gifts that are not dowries; etym- and archaeologies
like the first divorce—the division of day from night,
that coin of solace and
precursor to the watershed, to the neighborhood's
downward contours—define where everything runs
and where runoffs deposit their wrack lines.

What accumulates is not a reason, not debris but tablature,
adagia, apologia, full-stops and half-lives along with twigs and trash,
notations scratched-out in unremarkable fashion.
We have commissioned a longitudinal study, so give it time,

but try to avoid that ur-emphasis poets put on being,
where what is best left unaccented they prod into becoming
something else,
a thing at all, that wants nothing anyway, more or less,

like our lost baby, our would-be who would-not-be,
who will miss the seventh moon's scheduled swell
but asks for no condolence.
February, old rite-monger, this is how you will be welcomed,
in the name of those who won't be.

Ignore my firstborn, as I cannot, as he pries up the corner
of the living room rug
to reveal the filthy tape, the wood floor's bright parts,
and nothing else
the naked eye can see, however suggestive.
Even so it ties the room together
in a way you cannot, or will not, willfully bereft
of origins, middle sister who, like us,
awaits recombination, some saving throw, mitochondrial.

Copyright © 2009 John Estes All rights reserved

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sans Loneliness

Have I nothing to say? I would like to think not but it's been hard to keep the blog going. April, with its poetry month challenge, that should get me back. Until then, or soon, or the next pretty I find to share.

Today I househunt, enjoy the sunlight that is, the grief almost blown-over for my Bronte, and how last Saturday she lingered still and I had to let her go.

That letting go seems to be the way lately. Something so long considered and then, a phonecall, a bit of news, a ripe May and so much changes in a day.

Not Yet
Give me, if you will, a little time
To understand how meanings come and go,
Resembling ants converging at an anthill
And then dispersing, each with work to do.
Meanwhile, the anthill rises and expands.
The sun comes out. The days grow ever shorter.

Give me time to sense how meanings perish
Like plums left unattended in a bowl.
Because their lives were finite in the first place,
That spreading mold should come as no surprise.
So it is with meanings, I suppose,
Though how and why I've yet to understand.

Copyright © 2009 Ben Howard All rights reserved
from Leaf, Sunlight, Asphalt
Salmon Poetry

Sunday, March 07, 2010

"In the Middle of the Night

Sam rolled to my side of the bed and I pretended a sleep deeper than the one that I began so that I could feel his extra hold on me, the kiss into my hair that lingered a beat or two longer and said in no-words, I cherish you.

One night he pulled me so tightly against him, I thought he knew something tragic about me, was so close to me that he could see my blood's betrayals, some wild cell marking my demise.

There were whole tiny villages inside me even then, imaginary and dreamed up by imaginary characters living behind my spleen each of which held small flags in the street parades held in Sam's honor--even before his death. I am not worried now that if I should someday love again that the strangeness of the widowed will leave its obsessive fragrance clinging to me in ways that will cause anyone the slightest discomfort. The bond that I had to Sam, preposterous as it might sound, runs umbilical cords made of solid steel from each of the town's residents straight to him even now. They are that removed, those townspeople dreamed up by the dreamed-up villagers living in a burrough behind my real but unseeable spleen, that removed and that constant."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

For Bronte Lynne W. Kartsonakis

Labored breathing in the middle of the night, but morning finds you still here, still drinking all the special-milk I can pour for you. Nineteen years in the knowing. We were both young girls then, our first apartment, Salt Lake City, you: a handful of cat, protecting your brother by puffing up to the size of a large breakfast muffin and hissing with a mouth no wider than a fingernail, but for all you were worth. Your worth: nothing I can measure with your breaths-heavy, and countable but not, and value, but never enough. From Utah to Alabama to two cities in Ohio, I raise today to you and with luck, tomorrow, too.

Dawn terror of songbirds, night-visioned devil,
if there is a heaven for animals, it follows that there be a hell.
And so, at last, I’ll know where to look for you.
There, at least, you’ll appear with wings—
though they’ll be gristly and bloodied in your grinning mouth.
There the nose leather of Cerberus shall bleed into eternity.
Furred city of the meanest fleas, if there was ever some cheetah
under your tabby hide, it died long before you did.
Time had your gold eyes cotton and haze,
farmers kicked and shot at you,
and packs of leash-less dogs put you at bay,
but I will wake in the dark morning one time more,
and tell the mockingbirds, though I do not believe it true,
that Wallace, my own, wakes in the Egypt of some albacore heaven.

Eliot Khalil Wilson
Buy his new book: This Island of Dogs
at AWP 2010 or from Amazon in April.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wonderful weekend

perfection, actually.

The week has flown by. The snow-day probably helped it along. Tonight, I write, work on the apartment, anticipate my Friday night and feel happy. Rare thing it is to feel so satisfied with so much.

Whitman today in the lit. class and for fun, I had everyone read a passage of Song of Myself. I almost teared up thinking how old Walt would have loved to hear the various voices, the genders, races, accents, inflections of the multitudes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Insomnia as Transfiguration
Because the night is a scattering of sounds—blunt
branches hurtling to the ground, a nest stir, a sigh
from someone beside me. Because I am awake
and know that I am not on fire. I am fine. It’s August.

The scar on my neck, clarity—two curtains sewn.
A little door locked from the inside.

Nothing wants anything tonight. There are only stars
and the usual animals. Only the fallen apple’s wine-red crush.

Rabbits hurtle through the dark. Little missiles.
Little fur blossoms hiding from owls. Nothing wants
to be in this galaxy anymore. Everything wants the afterlife.

Dear afterlife, my body is lopped off. My hands
are in the carport. My legs, in the river. My head, of course,
in the tree awaiting sunrise. It dreams it is the owl,
a dark-winged habit. Then, a rabbit’s dash
to the apple, shining like nebulae. Then the owl
scissoring the air. The heart pumps its box of inks.

The river’s auscultations keep pace
with my lungs. Blame the ear for its attention. Blame
the body for not wanting to let go, but once a thing moves
it can’t help it. There is only instinct, that living “yes.”

On Reminding SF that I Am Still Here

I also like sunlight. I am a person who has to rush out of my home every morning into the sunlight to make sure the world is still here.

Harrowing drive back from The Road Trip, but the road, the trip, the West Bank Inn overlooking the snowed-over lake, the makeshift Valentine's dinner of smoked oysters, sardines, braided mozzarella, water crackers and angel food cake mmmwaah.
The fact that it is never a good idea to put bubble-bath in a jacuzzi and always too tempting not to. Sam & Ethels with cakes that look so homemade, a girl contemplates a day when she really will indulge. And raisin pie! Good music, laughter and more laughter. A magical turn-off to a set of graves and a whole glittering sea of whiteness. What heart-shaped, snow-colored days.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thanks Michelle for all things Michelle and this Billy Collin's poem, too


You are the bread and the knife,

The crystal goblet and the wine...

You are the bread and the knife,

the crystal goblet and the wine.

You are the dew on the morning grass

and the burning wheel of the sun.

You are the white apron of the baker,

and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,

the plums on the counter,

or the house of cards.

And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.

There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,

maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,

but you are not even close

to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show

that you are neither the boots in the corner

nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,

speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,

the evening paper blowing down an alley

and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees

and the blind woman's tea cup.

But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.

You are still the bread and the knife.

You will always be the bread and the knife,

not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Lovin' that Lesley Jenike

If you haven't bought her book, you should. If you have, you will go straight to heaven, classier for the reading.

Lost Eyes or The Lost Art of Transcription
for Hart Crane’s mother

To coax out your spirit I left a fifth of Cutty Sark
on the highboy, paper lantern in the cherry tree,

map of indeterminable coast by the bed, borrowed
Tempest, tattersall-covered, in the bed, full-fathom

five, a crushed Mexican lily, born of paper from
our tax holiday you lined the sea with, a stop-gap,

while I sheltered upstairs on a cool wide spread,
waiting for you to die. Love-making was never easy,

but to transcribe it? Minus a mouth, your tear-jerkers
turn to gas and fly. I sink into your syntax one

antiquated line at a time, as if I understand. But I
never did. You are too much for me, even dead

Monday, February 08, 2010

Wondering if any other poetry lovers

noticed this. (Thank you wonderful Kate for drawing my attention to it. I had not seen the game and would have missed it.)

Wedding Vows

Eliot Khalil Wilson

...and I'd like to add that I will mind like a dog. I will wear whatever you like. I will go wingtip. No more white socks. A necktie stitched to my throat, turtlenecks in August. New York gray or black, only colors that dogs can see. I will know of squash, vermouth, and wedges. I will do all the grilling because I love it so. I will drive the wagon, man the bar, weed-whack compulsively. I will make money, the bed, never a to do.

I will build like an Egyptian, a two-mile pier complex, a five-story deck. I will listen like a bat, attend to the birth of sounds in the back of your throat. I will remember like and Indian elephant, recall requests made of me in a previous life. Your date of birth will be carved in the palm of my hand. I will make good. I will do right. I will sleep on the pegboard on the wall in the garage.

I'll have a tongue like a sperm whale, eyes like a harp seal, biceps like a fiddler crab. I will have gold coins, gold rings, stiff gold hair like shredded wheat. I will be golden at receptions, gold in your pocket, Paganini in your pants. Money will climb over the house like ivy. Excellent credit will be my white whale. I will always. I will everyday. I will nail the seat down. I will let you pretend I am your father.

I will be a priapic automatic teller machine, never down, never a usage fee, a stock prophet, a para-mutual seer, tractable, worshipful no matter what. I will always want to. I won't notice what you don't point out. I will entertain your friends, say how your love saved me. I will convince them. I will talk, really talk, to them. Deep meanings will be toothpicked and passed around.

I will need zero maintenance. I will be a utility or a railroad. There will be no breakdowns or disconnections. I will allow you lovers, Moroccan teenagers and Turkish men. I will adopt them. I will not cry. I will respond to grief by earning more. My sweat will smell like drug money, like white bread baking. I will be as clean as a Mormon, wholesome like Iowa. I will lead. I will be a star, a rock, like Rock Hudson.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


which meant too, snowed-in and the roadtrip something yet to look forward to for a later weekend.

What can be said here is that there was no sorrow at the plan-change. There's in fact, little sorrow, save for my uncle's death and my father's sadness at having no living brothers. For today, all that I love lives and breathes and feels close at hand. Plus, were I the girl to believe in answered prayers or that I warrant any such personal attention from something more fantastic, I would say something large about how much I had hoped for so much of what is right and right here.

It is so much harder to write about happiness without sounding like you are naive or walking a tightrope that only the crowd can see is frayed badly at one end. To the first I can say that being happy is some amount of work, in the initial laying of foundation if not in the subsequent care and feeding. To the latter charge, sure, we are all on a tightrope like that, it is called mortality. But for the first time in years, I feel like I really went after what I wanted and trusted myself that I knew what I knew. It's hard to be happy and harder to admit it. It's hard not to feel like fate would like to have a shot at that target you have now named and propped up for display. But it is harder to stay in a state of skepticism, self-sabatoge and chronic waiting for what might ensure more of happiness' opposite or indifference, at least.

Loving this song.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Such a weekend

It has been some time since there has been something I have looked forward to as much as I am looking forward to Friday afternoon when I get to be picked up from school directly and head off on a road trip, carefully-planned to include such perfect picks as a cafe called Sam & Ethel's. Then as dusk approaches, lakes, motels, the perfect meandering to find our way there. There is talk of a hike and farmland, (silos!) and the kind of days I used to seek all through my time living out west. It is no wonder that my favorite kind of soul resonates to the landscapes too, of Wyoming and "gets" the kind of diners and drives that make an afternoon flat-out holidayed. My BFF said that a street in Cincinnati smelled like vacation and this weekend is steeped in holiday.

I am so excited. Tonight, I sleep and tomorrow pack then dinner with my co-road-tripper. I cannot hurry the hours off fast enough.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Watched Oscar & Lucinda and shared my beloved Amelie, and the kind of weekend that makes other weekends jealous. There were floating churches, glass, water, there was good coffee and so much astounding music, parts of me are still singing along.

It is cold tonight where I am and the space heater only agitates the air and moves the chill around. But I am happy and bound for bed and warm, warm, warm.

Good stuff happiness. The best.
Every Little Siberia

Nothing should be so expensive and so cold
when the heat bill arrived and you sat in the last month
of your lease, in your parkas and ski gloves, your knit
scarves and Russian hats. Years later, you would wonder,
if she meant the apartment or you, because death
makes you retrace the years between you, the fortune
of finding her at all, not lost on you, years after
you had both moved and moved on. Nothing again
would hold light as did her eyes during fights
or love. She was not so much a believer as a fanatic
not so much a recollector as a human-instamatic,
her memory of a thing spit back quickly and taking form
almost mystically, rising up from a black square
into the familiar shape of what it was she meant to hold.
The last night, someone told you, she held your severed
ponytail, kept for years in the small wooden drawer
at the base of the folk-lamp you bought her
at the fleamarket, she held the empty bottle of brandy
but not the prescription pills she washed down with it.
They said she wore the brocade jacket with onyx buttons,
and the fabric takes you back to the old place,
freshly-showered: remember her there,
her wet hair: tentacles holding ice-picks.
Her look at you across the bay,
the day, like something that could only reflect up
from water or hell. After the news, nothing will wash
it off: the picture of winter, your words holding
phantoms of themselves against the frosty morning
the light othertimes golden but chilled-platinum
where she stood, where she could have been nothing
less than happy to have met you, nothing more.

Friday, January 29, 2010

HAPPY (dumbly belated) BIRTHDAY KHR!

When I plan ahead, I forget that I am not the kind of girl who plans ahead. So I forget that I planned ahead knowing that JANUARY 24th the day of the birth of a certain very special old friend of mine, would come and find itself all empty of a blog-post, all because I forgot to hit "publish" on that day. SO for that, new post or enhanced anyway.

To the boy who gave me his Tolkein collection, that I have and treasure still, plus Lolita, and Solzhenitsyn, plus days as fanatastic as the word dodecicosidodecahedron
and all its gorgeous angles. To math boys with wonderful libraries, you have set the precedent for my current happinesses, Birthday Boy. Here is hoping acres and decades of the same to you. You have a seat in the road trips of my mind for the duration. Happiest Birthday, Friend.
Not everything has a name. Some things lead us into a realm beyond words.” A. S.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don't stop to think, don't interrupt the scream, exhale, release life's rapture. Everything is blooming. Everything is flying. Everything is screaming, choking on its screams. Laughter. Running. Let-down hair. That is all there is to life.
— Vladimir Nabokov

Lost in the Bewilderness

This girl be sleepy. But haven't we heard that before? Sunday was loverly. Most and truly. Wrote some, sportsbarred a bit and wondered if Brett Favre will ever be okay with those final moments of overtime? Sad stuff as I was hanging with a Favre fan and we lamented that careers so sizzling should not end with that tiny crackle.

New Orleans, city I love, I am torn now. I like a Peyton-boy but as an NBA girl my NFL loyalties are whimsical and move to the beat of things like cities I love or certain players (say Ricky Williams were on either team or the Dolphins--whom I've always loved were one of the Superbowl contenders). These are not the factors we are meant to measure if we be true-followers. But I am not. I drink Becks Light and watch the people watching or the gymnastics or basketball on the other screens, unless I force myself to attend.

Still, I am inclined to go for NOLA and let my viewing partner bring on the dancing horses. (Ponies though they be.) And I'll watch the team of my beloved city where I once actually saw Ricky W. in Pirate's Alley carrying some artwork home.

In the meanwhile, I completed the 24 hour round and ended up with a skeleton for a story that I will like very much one day. I am droopy today, but not without hope.

Where did today go though?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Teaching, then coffee with Ms. Kate and dinner at Betty's. A good line-up of things to look forward to and then tomorrow, breakfast with Krista. (Breakfast is my favorite out-meal--so hopeful.)

And I have yet to Wildflower with my new favorite breakfast friend. That goes on the to-do list. For now, to motivate the body to go into the shower and out into (another?!) drab day. Hey Sky, not loving that outfit, you call that a color? Seriously, let's go dress-shopping. That dirty-sheet-hue you've been wearing for weeks does nothing for your complexion or my spirits.


It is time now to face the dingy day. That's why they make Kates--to jazz things up.
And Betty's with Ross--whom I haven't seen in ages. Then First Watch tomorrow and then before you know it, it's Sunday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rescheduled my evening meeting into Saturday breakfast. So I am curled up, trying to stay warm, having made an early dinner of a sardine wrap with spicy mustard and onions. Yes, it was good, I can hear your white-person-critiques and I care not a bit.

But the thing is, I do. I am happy to say I do. I am happy to say that I had forgotten how fun it was to delight in someone's way of seeing things and to feel happy and not to feel like you're killing time or you should like this or that and to feel sort of greedy, like there isn't enough time in which to revel. Because I have been setting limits, pulling back reins, always being the one to be too busy or too tired or some other time. I am remembering (it has been years and years, really) what it is too be thrilled that something is constructed exactly thus. I am happy to leave all my talking-myself-intos behind if I am so lucky as to be able to do that.

Teaching again and feeling that perfect place to be feeling about that. Lots of new faces and quite a few familiar ones too. Two readings this semester. One daytime one to read creative non fiction or maybe fiction--I can't tell and a set of readings at night. Both on the same day in February. Strange that, but kind of fun, too.

I've been spring cleaning again. People-cleaning. Donating friendships that don't fit anymore. Or just bagging them up for now. There isn't enough time for all that I need to do and all that really matters to me and just now, I am choosing to imagine that a whole bunch more time will be given out to that which makes my days vibrant, delightful, full of light and color and so much laughter, I actually feel healthier--even on days when I am so sick I can barely speak on the phone and I am taken on winter-hike and suddenly feel better than I have in weeks.
These would be the arms.
Plus, what's not to love about that voice?

I walked home in that chilly rain, I am watching the early-twilight out the window, trying hard not to turn in and read, read, read the night away when really, it will only make me wistful. Until Sunday...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Near the window winter
blue light and belief
what happens incrementally
stays. Give her an old-fashioned
bathtub, a cape cod, a big fish story
about the one that didn't get away.
Give her Antarctica, anti-arctic, the melt
after the deep-freeze of the walk-in
at work, where the turnips and the radishes
look like crisp flowers.
This is no last July, no lost juggler,
the things that dance from their hands
make pictures on the horizon then land
again in the net of the palm.
A penny stuck in the sidewalk crack, upright
looks like a sun rising from concrete.
Nothing more, or less fantastic than that.

Monday, January 18, 2010

T'was the Night Before Winter Semester

and holed in upstairs
was one lazy professorina
with one thousand dresses
and nothing to wear....

Anyway, I never claimed to be a formalist and this post is not about me but about one of my favorite and most-admired writers: Laura Kasischke. Seven novels, seven books of poetry, most of which I own, some of which I had to hunt down. For the first obvious reason, I am in admiration: poetry and prose and major respect for both. The second reason requires the reading that a true fan does to see that all that respect is earned. I have read most of the novels and all of the poetry I can find. She has restraint in her poetry with a careful eye toward the lyric. In her prose, she is able to weave in just enough poetic-chops to give the novels, plot-strong as they are, that thing that potboilers or mainstream supermarket paperbacks too often lack: art, an artfulness. And yet, like the best classics, she gives the sense that story is always being considered, and that the storyline should pull a reader in and keep tugging. Because I am reading, at any given point, so many books, it is not good to begin another. I try to limit the novels I am picking at to two, maybe some short stories for the quickie, and poems because they're like air to me. A constant.

A new novel in the house must sit nicely, must wait its turn, but Kasischke's books don't do that. They nag and insist, the linger and seduce.

To see how both narrative and the tiny detail that a poem licks its lips over come together so well in her work, check out this poem from Gardening in the Dark:

Younger Woman Shopping for a Blouse
She holds it up to see it better,
trying to imagine ...

Where did that last decade go?
I remember

driving fast past
the sloppy needlepoint
of lilacs in the breeze,
dancing in a pine-paneled bar.
I remember

sending a postcard to a man
I’d read about in the paper.
He’d survived an ordeal, but what

was it, and who are you? All

this honey all over my hands.
Where did it come from, and what
if a bear crosses my path now?
What if the bees find me?

She cannot imagine herself
in that, and puts it back.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Just Heard About This

A large personality who made a great mixed drink. I spent an afternoon with him as he moved into Tuscaloosa and the Bear and I recalled that bright smile, the force of his presence and how sad it is to know that he died afraid like this.

Off and running

Last year at this time I was the motivated, driven dynamo-of-a-thing.
The week kicks off school on Tuesday and 24 hour later this week, and an attempt to organize my life, the magazine and more manuscripts. The novel progressed over break but is not sent off. There were nibbles here and there and some nice publications forthcoming and newly-in-print (Poem Memoir Story published two older poems that I have long-loved and wished to publish.) There were important finds these past few weeks by way of kindred-spirits with arms full of song and cinema, black silk java floating across rooms and a day spent hiking that I will not likely-soon forget. It was a good break, the year brought in perfectly and yet, I wish I had done more to savor the time. If all goes well, I teach minimester and summer and while I'm thrilled to do all of that, there will be virtually no break for this inefficient bloggerina. But I am going away in April (early and Jacksonville) and later, Denver and before that somewhere, New York (Veace, Spoon, Tom, save a meal-time for me). And maybe the weekend after next or soon thereafter, a Tampa journey must happen. For the Baby Evan gets bigger and brighter daily. Our collective, continual supernova.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lest I not seem ungrateful: part of the wonderful gifts that Boy-Dublin-Patron-Saint-of-Great-Books brings me are new things, wonderful things as well as reminders of things I had loved and lost track of--like Sandra Gilbert.

Her books Blood Pressure and Ghost Volcano were old companions and thanks to my dear book-gatherer, newly-re-gifted me in her collected, re-found. In honor of that and all that is right and more right in my life, this passage:

The meadow's silent, its dead grasses
ignore each other and the evening walkers
who trample them. What will you be,

I wonder, when the night wind rises?
Come back as yourself, in your blue parka,
your plaid flannel shirt with the missing button.

These fields that hum and churn with life
are empty. There is nowhere
you are not, nowhere

you are not not.

Goodnight & Keep Cold

with apologies to Mr.Frost. I am feeling anxious and a bit blue. Odd how that can be after my big declaration of happiness these past weeks. And I am happy. This restlessness feels like a momentary rash. Light, not throat-closing, just itchy and truly temporary but annoying. Like I want to feel something secure in my world, that my time is used well, that I'm feeling and breathing in technicolor. Because a taste of a time that looked like that makes me go all immature-me and want everything to always feel like so much. It can't and it really shouldn't, much of our days are devoted to keeping the lights on and much of our days should be. But sometimes I feel like I want to bask in intensity, or go to New York and let all of its goings-on make me feel like somewhere there are Chinatowns and their color and chaos remind me that I want and don't want so much to be so vivid all of the time. Tonight, I'm unconvinced.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Funny Thing About Happiness

is that it can feel like those days in deepest winter that are muffled once in the blue-cold and again in the white frosting everything, gathering more feathers as they swoop down mutely from a pillowcase sky.

There is a softness to some happiness, something easy and so light in its each individual snowflake that it's hard to believe how much density, how heavy it becomes.

Working on the final bit of the peace poem for Wick. I am sleepy and feeling like an afternoon nap is in order. But outside the sun is making a rare appearance and it seems wrong to crawl into bed, curling away from all that light.

I will be a field
where all the flowers
on my housedress
bloom at once.
--Linda Pastan

Friday, January 08, 2010

Oh the Ways We Deceive Ourselves

I need to work on the Vietnamese Children's Art poem for Wick. I have a start, and two pieces selected to write on, if only I could finish one.

But for the moment, with a tiny imagined audience, I'll post a piece of Season here.
In the background Cohen--low enough so his lyrics don't tangle up in mine. I've forced myself to move the Jim White because I will do as I do with most things--gorge until sick of it. Ask Ryan Adams about our two solid week affair. Then the months of his other cds. Ask Bonnie Prince Billie or seriously, the Old 97s--I have left (in Cher's words of Moonstruck) not even the skin on their bones. The Gear Daddies, Martha Wainwright, everything Laura Kasischke and Melanie Rae Thon have ever begun to write. (One lovely memory of Fellner and I waiting for Barnes & Noble in Birmingham to get those first copies out of Sweethearts. We lived fifty miles away and made an event of getting there, buying the books--full price, hard copy and dining in the city with our fresh copies in tow.) I liked how theme-day and how pump-up-the-drama of that kind of thing he could join me in. Fellner and I have many other memories where his partner, Phil, wanted to forbid us to ever play together again. But this childishness we shared on that bright day was one of my favorite Bama flashbacks.

A tiny Season before I finish that poem, head out for supplies, and make myself shed the laziness that I've been donning day after day this winter break.

The ruined cities inside. Where something lived once and where now nothing can live anymore. I was always looking for the girl that got away as a means of tracking the moment when Main Street filled with broken glass and debris, but with Sam, it was his racing years that occupied the last large love that ever resided inside him. I was relieved, actually. Though I'd taken care to dismantle my cities, to not let anything fill me that was inhabitable, I had left space just in time for Sam. After Sam, he was the city, that city and it's hard to build a city on the steel and wooden skeleton of a city brought down.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Recalling how one student enjoyed all of the prompts posted to our class blog and realizing that my friends and their treasures have already brought so much to my work. I am all alight with music new and old. So in honor of J's striped iceburgs (thank you!) and that student's wish for more to think about and listen to and in crazy appreciation of all the new pretties brought to my attention it's a five youtube post tonight. Hope something ignites something in someone.

Plus thisand this.

Feeling Understood

A lively understandable spirit Once entertained you. It will come again. Be still. Wait.
Theodore Roethke

All the links are repeats, but I can't not think about them and why and how. Watched some wonderful movies lately, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly knocked me out, the privacy and poetry of it. Began O Lucky Man and feel half-inside a perspective unlike anything I'd ever experienced in film before. A little Harold and Maude, a little British deadpan, a little quirkiness and something else, a cocktail of tonal flavors hard to imagine mixed elsewhere or in any other way.

A long walk in Yellow Springs, the snowy gorge, the cleanest air and so much so white, so pure and new and possible.

And today, my head feels heavy and light at once like some fantastic balloon. I'm tracking down songs and singers, movies and books. I feel like a pinata of various new sweetnesses.

It's cold here and the snow seems unceasing. Good sleeping weather.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


A perfect night to post more Season of White...
I mean, it's all alabaster out there.

"Why is it that every time I have to say how he died, not because I want to, but because they ask, I get every crash story anyone's ever known?"

"People are not cats, A. They don't know when to back off."

"Look what someone sent me yesterday," I said, handing him the postcard of the house in the feral house series. Trees were growing almost through it. Shrubs coming from the windows, the porch overrun and penetrated by roots and plants.

It was exactly the kind of thing that I would normally adore: the wildflower beauty of it, the inadvertant, accidental beauty in dilapidation. A stand against the perfect. And the house, so much my kind of house that I might have lived there once, had, in fact, lived there with Sam when we were terribly young and insanely in love.

It's cool. Detroit, you must hate to see what's happening there, huh?

And I'm sobbing, like that, because I have to let Aram know and he will hurt for me and then I'll be sad for his helpless-sadness and for me and Sam, our home, always, until this stupid postcard: our home and isn't this why I left there, not to see this, not to see change which I hated so much that I would rather erase a whole city than change the sheets on the bed we shared? Figuratively, of course, except those sheets, that last set were sealed off in one of those vacuum-sealed bags from the pharmacy. What was us mummified, and thrown in the hatchback.

Oh God, Annie, that was your house, wasn't it?

"Not the final house, no. The house we rented back in college. Our first shared-place, it was cheap because we did so much of the painting, dug a garden, played house before we the real thing. It was some of our happiest days, Sam in the yard waiting for me when I came home, holding a kite and everything in me soaring up to meet it all."

Monday, January 04, 2010

Just a little taste of what I'm talking about here:

Where in the world did you come from my dear?
Did some mysterious voice tell you I'd still be here? I bought this ticket to Mobile, but I been stranded all day...p.a. said the bus broke down ten miles away from the station.
So seldom a seldom a seldom a lock like the love between you and me. But seldom comes happiness without the pain of the devil in the details since I saw the smile on your face as I was crying in a Greyhound station on Christmas 1998.
The burden of love is the fuel of bad grammar.
You stutter and stammer--what a bitch to convey the crux of the matter, when the words you must utter are hopelessly tangled in the memories and scars you show no one. So seldom a seldom a seldom a hit like the hurt you put on me...
from Christmas Day.and

My Kingdom for Some Mint Tea

to go with the bunch of Middle Eastern food that someone had delivered to me.
Lentil soup and hummus. I have the dearest guardian angels. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My George Burns voice and I are already a little healed.

Listening to Jim White's Wrong-Eyed Jesus, about to curl back up with Bud Schulberg's The Disenchanted. The book and the music were Dublin-boy recommended as with the wonderful movie, and yesterday morning, on Tuttle with a full cup of truckstop coffee, the world felt rich as virgin soil and right as rain. Ohio is an odd place for me. Some moments have been the most challenging that I've ever known and others have found me in a jackpot of good people. I'm old enough to know that the is no adding-up, no final tally, not really that things happen for a reason but they keep happening until, like Ohio weather's cliche, if you don't like what you see, wait a few minutes and hang on and just onward and we'll-sees but every-so-cheesy-often with good black silk coffee in your stomach and on the right side of the highway, one feels she can't go wrong as long as she keeps trusting her instincts and moving along. (Chels, are you listening? ;-)

Turns out my food is from House of Cleo on High Street and the soup is just spicy enough to feel like good, winter-take-that food. The hummus is garlicky and so smooth that it feels decadent. mmm... All that, plus they deliver.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Did I mention happy?

Scared to be, but I am

scareder not to be.

I love the way this year beginneth.
Keep up the good work 2010, that's the new little pep rally taking place in me.

A Revisit

Then I suppose the time has come to say:
It's been nice, Dwight's been everything.

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;

Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;

Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:

The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.

Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,

And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars,

And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves

A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,

And slips into the bosom of the lake:

So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip

Into my bosom and be lost in me.

Alfred Tennyson

Ashes Ashes

I decided there was nothing to burn. Not because I have simplified my life down to what a lovely-someone says is the easy platitude of "live well have no regrets" because that, I agree with him, is preposterous; but because I have found my way here this year, where what I call friend and near is where I would like it to be and what I have burned through already is best left back at the campfires behind me, most of which warmed, s'mored and golden.

I just watched the most amazing documentary about musician Jim White called Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Last night found me dining at Cafe Ephesus, watching the documentary and high-fiving January, though it's only just begun.

I am the hopeful, careful, happy thing today.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A maybe-trip to New York and a potential trip to Florida, both a chance to see my good friend and the latter, involves my best new man, Evan George.

It's an ugly color today and I'm feeling a little muffled, too. Maybe some soup later and a video and the contemplation of what to praise and what to burn.


New Year, indeed.

I am liking the looks of 2010 a lot so far. Lovely Ethiopian meal, some Sherlock Holmes and my favorite cheap champagne. Yummy, low-key and sincere.