Thursday, December 07, 2006

How to talk with kids, have kids write and feel safe about how children are affected in the world by war and the nasty ways of adults? It is true they know about the cruelty, inequity, unfairness, ugliness of the world. It is true some are living with these things in their homes. It is true that the human story if full of the suffering of innocents. We are so quick to sully innocence, as if we don't want anyone left unsmeared. THAT would be too painful. I think children want to, many of them, most of them, want to do good in the world, make the world a better place, help the world (we are the world we are the children blah blah blah.) Here's the thing: children are not short adults and what they know is not the same as what they have been exposed to - okay that is the case with adults too. What do they though these kids I work with, what do they understand or internalize about the world that bombards them constantly? INTERNALIZE! HAH! How much space do we allow for that in the wasl world? That is what I try to offer - a space to write and think and be and question and free to be you and me hi marlo! This is going swimmingly well I think.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

awake in the night thinking about what I am going to teach, what I have to teach, what I can bring to sixth graders that might wake them up that might make a difference in their lives that might hit them as my daughter says in the demographic thinking about what their teacher who is quitting teaching because she's discouraged because her feelings get hurt because the kids are careless the kids are thoughtless the kids disregard adult feelings are disaffected are disinclined to behave are left out are in public frigging school where so many decisions have been made to diseducate disenfranchise discard them because they go to frigging public school what she said the teacher what she wants which is for me to make some sense of a story that is the basis of an international project called machinto based on a picturebook that tells the story horrific and inappropriate for children but which is based on true events and tells the story of a three year old child eating a tomato when the a bomb hit nagasaki who dying with mouth full of tomato tells her mother i want more so her mother combs the devastated city looking for more tomatoes her daughter's voice crying i want more returning to find the child dead but a bird lifting over the city crying i want more which is heartrendingly awful and i am supposed to come up with something a writing prompt a series of writing prompts to connect the kids with this horror and this pathos and this longing and all of this with life affirming lilt and optimism the last part because i will inflict optimism and uplift and possibility that is my job

Saturday, December 02, 2006

windows open
even when they don't

newage flute on the stereo
my mind in a tight fist

skylight over my left shoulder
blue sky and cobweb

my dog is 10 years old
my daughter's dog is dead

my green tea mug reads
santa's spirit santa's spirit santa's sp

get out of my own way get out of my own way get out of my own way get out of my own way
i want my own way.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I remember writing poems

Poem: "Yes" by Catherine Doty, from Momentum. Copyright Cavan Kerry Press. Reprinted with permission. (that is to say, Garrison Keillor has her permission. I copied Catherine Doty's poem off my Writer's Almanac email. People are writing poems every day, just not me.)

It's about the blood
banging in the body,
and the brain
lolling in its bed
like a happy baby.
At your touch, the nerve,
that volatile spook tree,
vibrates. The lungs
take up their work
with a giddy vigor.
Tremors in the joints
and tympani,
dust storms
in the canister of sugar.
The coil of ribs
heats up, begins
to glow. Come

-Catherine Doty

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In arctic Seattle, waiting for the next blizzard to barrel through
what is there to do but dance dance revolution?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

  • Happy Thanksmas from Scooter, Age 18

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Radish King rules! (I work with middle school students. This is how I roll.)

If you missed Rebecca Loudon's reading Monday night on the blackout stage at Hugo House, I am sorry for you. She's a poet's poet boys and girls.

In other news, I am swamped with too many commitments, too little in the way of organizational skills, in addition to which (IS it okay to begin and end a sentence with prepositional phrases? I did not go to Catholic school and so am flummoxed by all grammatical issues) I am in the midst of grieving for no lake rides at 5:30 am Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. If you have made your way through that last sentence and are still with me, you must be avoiding what you have to do today too.

I'm off to edit my craft talk essay for the It's About Time's website, off to teach 5th and 6th graders in Kirkland, off to prepare for the parent volunteer meeting for the 8th grade short story book project, off to email a teacher about coming to his classes to prep for an elementary poetry assembly, off to work on class books for three different classes, off to prepare a sequence of lessons that will parallel and enhance kids' experience of reading a book about the Bosnian war, off to oh gawd lie down and whimper in a corner, but just for five or six seconds.

My mother is having a shunt installed this morning so she can get chemo weekly beginning today for the tumor on her eye. If chemo doesn't show signs of stopping the cancer after a month, she'll have radiation treatments. Gilda said there's always something. Bless your eyes, ears, feet, hands, brain, heart, life, life, life.

Writing reminds me to breathe. Writing returns me to being here. Here. Here. Yes.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I Love Coconuts
Mixed Up World

Jim is downstairs trying out rings for his new phone, has just discovered he can record his own, plays back, "Hey Jim, answer your phone," in his voice.

Rumsfeld is out, and, as Jon Stewart said Thursday night, "the democrats are going to fix everything that's wrong with the world." I'm ready.

This evening I am going to Hugo House to hear Rebecca Loudon read and to buy Radish King, her exciting new book. I already have Radish King, the matchbook, which really is a matchbook, very very very red, with Radish King printed in black on the outside, "Poems that Burn" printed inside, facing the matches. I'm terrifically excited to read Radish King, the book.

Friday, November 10, 2006

WET WET WET WET and COLD rowing this morning out of the UW boathouse - very exciting and nerve waggling - so much to think about, so many fast rowers, fast talking coxswains, millfoil around the edges, wind, rain, currents. We rigged our boats outside in the dark and lost no nuts no bolts and I am only short one wrench, 7/16". First time ever I would be coxing through the cut into Lake Union to the University Bridge and the coaches weren't going out with us in launches, just three long skinny boats with 8 rowers in each, three drenched coxswains pledging to meet by the houseboats the south side of the bay during warm up, being blown while waiting for the other two boats towards the houseboats, an opportunity, sure, to see inside, but at risk of boat and rowers not a terrific idea. I've lived around these bodies of water, even been on these bodies of water in motor boats, in sailboats, but never at the controls of any boat before this morning. The entrance to the cut from Portage Bay is deceptive, I was too far north, might have been winged by a motorboat had there been motorboats other than coach launches and police boats out at 6:30 in the morning on a gloomy windy, rainy morning. A police boat whizzed past as we warmed up through the cut gifting us with wake from where you'd expect it and many directions other than that direction due to the narrowness, the cement walls. I urged the rowers to swing through it and they kept their swings long through the water though every instinct says hunker NOW! On the way back through the cut time two two men in an outrigger canoe paddling their buns off decided to angle right (excuse me, starboard) in front of us - I steered port, kept the rowers on the power, figured I'd have steering challenges equal to or more frazzling on Sunday, so this was practice. Second time through the cut I moved us closer to the wall, oar blades within 6 feet of the wall which had seemed impossibly close first time through. I will be working to keep the long view on race day, working to sound calm in the boat, which apparently I do, partly because I have the novice's naivete about what to be freaked out about, partly because I spend many of my days in classrooms full of middle school kids, so what is there to phase me? Nobody that I know of was muttering "fart" or farting for that matter this morning, nor were they passing notes or drowsing. For Sunday my mantra is to settle down and steer - safety first, counting second, motivational speechifying a far back third. Who knew I would find this an exciting, frightening skill to learn and apply? Who ever thought to find me in the stern of a boat, feet underwater, in hypothermia conditions, concentrating with all my attention, enjoying myself. Certainly not anyone I went skiing with in my twenties when clothing did not keep the cold and wet at bay and when, in the video that will be shown as I ask admittance at the pearly gates (hold your breath for that one, god believers,) I pounded the snow with my sodden gloves and yelled obcenities at the mountain because I had fallen again, had to take my gloves off again, had snow down my back again, and was frigging freezing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why I am Grateful for Sixth Graders

Recipe for Peace

assemble justice and experience,
compassion and hope in large bowl

mix until well blended

sift perseverance over these;
fold in half of your forgiveness.

add determination by teaspoonfuls
until mixture holds together

fold in second half forgiveness

bake until hope bubbles to the top
drizzle with affection

serve garnished with joy.

-Laura Gamache
in 6th grade classroom
(I am older than 11)

Recipe for P.P. (Peace Pie)

First, have a mixing bowl ready. Show some love by sprinkling it all around the bowl. In the inside, take all the hatred, anger and jealousy and beat it to dust. Share what you’ve learned about forgiveness and friendship to replace the hatred, anger and jealousy. Sprinkle a half pint of loyalty on the inside. Let it sit cold for 10 min. by pouring little cups of cold, solid and straight beauty. After that, put it in the microwave for 10 min. at 360°F so it can pop up like popcorn. Take it out of the microwave and let it sit on the windowsill with the window up.
Now let the fresh smell of peace pie fill the world with peace.
F.Y.I. Don’t eat it!

-K.T., age 11

Peace Like Water

2 cups of love that’s what you will
need maybe 3 cups I don’t know, you
need a lot, maybe 5 or 6, I don’t
know. You can try, but I know you
will need belief in yourself and
others. Like I said, I don’t know.
The more you add, the more you
get because that’s how peace works.
Maybe some things you don’t add,
some things you will, but I know it
will be good, it always is. You
will need help, friendship and more.
You can add all you want, but
remember if you add bad things
it will not be peace. So beware if
you love something that’s bad, it will
not be peace.

-S.R., age 11

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's a good thing that babies don't understand the concept of "clumsiness," or else they'd never learn to walk.
-Alan Ziegler, The Writing Workshop Vol. 1

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reading highlights of ten important books
in the lastest AAP Review, I come upon
Floyd Skloot, the Helen Keller of our age,
his poetry a triumph of will over infirmity,
but isn't that how it is for most of us?

Saw Stephan King last night at Benaroya Hall, a special event for Seattle Arts & Lectures. When he walked on stage the bulk of the audience rose to their feet with cheers and thunderous applause. He gauged his audience, he tilted back his head and he delivered: naughty swear words and references to TV shows. He worked the room like a lounge comic, talked about writers as "famous people", generally played to the lowest common denominator to guffaws and applause. "Don't be a snob," said my husband at one point.

King was horrifying.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scripture for Our Time

A Chapel Talk

William Stafford

at Lewis & Clark College

1 Mar 1962

Sometimes listening alertly to Scripture, I am touched with a flickering realization of how it might be to live in times when Scripture is lived and write. Think of coming alive to participate in human events so important that they connect with the everlasting. How would it be to know that what you did, what you said, what you wrote, how you responded to others was crucial?

I love this sly guy William Stafford, copied this exerpt from the typescript of the chapel talk when I was at the library at Lewis & Clark College this last Sunday. Here's some more:

...and I think steadily about our own times: there should be writings so coercive that all in our time yield to them. Maybe our crisis is an art crisis: people must come to believe art, and art must come to be worthy of belief.

Yes! Yes! And keep talking, Mr. Stafford:

...An ultimately responsible writer could feel this way: things happen the way they ought to happen when people know enough - and soon enough - about their own situation. When people want what the world will give them, and in terms they live with, then they have balanced their culture.

Yeah, as Wayne said, and monkeys will fly out my butt, but also, yeah, and why the heck not?

I would like to be an utimately responsible writer, and an artist who creates art worthy of belief, just as I hope that I am worthy of belief from the kids I work with in classrooms. Am I a writer? Yes. Do I believe that reading and writing can change or even save my life? Yes. Do they believe me? As much as I live it, yes.

I don't know what the chapel looked like. By the time I attended Lewis & Clark, beginning August of 1970, there was a brand-new round rather Native American looking edifice that was the pride of the campus. One anti-Vietnam-war protest began with a prayer vigil in this chapel, when my Yeats professor, John Callahan, read "Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen" by W.B. Yeats, and catapulted my socks into orbit around a distant star. John Callahan later became literary executor to the estate of Ralph Ellison. In life, they were great friends. Callahan has endured some rather unfriendly "you are not Black, you have no rights" derision, but has carried on as his friend asked him to with the business of Ellison's literary legacy.

I dropped out of Lewis & Clark one quarter and seven weeks after beginning, mostly on the basis of being so far over my head in Callahan's senior seminar on Yeats that I couldn't even open my mouth for air when I surfaced in his little quanset hut office. Humiliated that I had no idea what the 22 year old literary lights were talking about in seminar, being 18 and fresh out of high school, I couldn't face my first academic defeat and hitchhiked away from school with a friend of a friend who claimed to be hitching to New Jersey, which I thought was funny; everyone was hitching to California at the time, good drugs, countercultural correctness. We did in fact hitchhike to California, Santa Cruz. Excrutiatingly predictable.

My daughter graduated from Lewis & Clark, and had John Callahan for teacher in her freshman "Imagining America" mandatory philosophical college grounding course. Love that school.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Subjects in Email Inbox this Morning:

space probe capture spreads

Mary Poppins Canceled(sic) Dollar

I've been here at the vaulted ceiling

said Leslie Looney, who

Home-based positions for you.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Going to see Henry Darger exhibition at the Frye today. Probably. I'm leery. Saw a couple of big panels a few years ago. Saw the movie made about his life.

Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. I want to live unobserved and unquestioned, untended and left alone. I want to do absolutely nothing but sit in a large chair and declaim about all that is wrong with the world and basically morph into one of my elder relatives. Obviously I share their dna as I am participating in their particular dreamscape. I have a sore throat. I want to be put in a darkened room and fed triangles of cinnamon toast while I read books piled beside me on my bed. Jim asked me yesterday what I wanted to do, and I said I wanted to lie around a read books. What I ended up doing was taking the book I'd told myself I would read only to myself, Thirteen Moons, and offered to read it aloud. With the sore throat. Part of me imagines I will be sainted for this. The same part of me that goes into resentment autopilot any time anything is not the way I'd like it to be. Leaves on the deck, "That Jim..." No toilet paper, "Jim again..." Which is a bunch of hooey but if you took a reflex hammer and tapped just behind my left temple, the resentment reflex would pop the hammer out of your hand. I spent my twenties learning a different way of being, but when I am tired I limp and go into that old reflex craparoni in my head. Luckily my mouth has a shutoff valve.

Last weekend I sat in boats and steered them around while stronger women with hip joints not made out of titanium pulled on oars to move the boats through Lake Washington while the sky attempted to send Lake Washington amounts of rain down on us. Many other people in other boats did the same. It's an annual regatta called the Tri Mountain Regatta. This weekend some of the women in my crew went to Boston to participate in the Head of the Charles Regatta. I didn't get to go because of the many many bridges, many many boats and many many ways in which to run afowl of the many many rules for how boats must behave while going under the bridges. It is not unusual for boats to capsize. Love that dirty water. Oh Boston. Maybe next year.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What does it take for us to not take our spectacularly unprecedented selves for granted? Me, I am talking about here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Violoniste Bleue by Marc Chagall
I'm reading tonight at Ravenna Third Place Books with three other Finishing Line Press Poets: Jane Alynn, Donna Frisk and Carlos Martinez. We'll be setting the night on fire, so come on down. 7:30 pm. No dress code. In the back by the espresso machine. cshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Circe Invidiosa
In the 3rd through 5th grade classroom, where 3rd grade boys have a wee fascination with violence or at least an interest in testing the poet in residence, I read from Homer's Odyssey, not from the Illiad and not the Odyssey scene where Circe warns the crew about Scylla and Charybdis, but the scene where Circe turns half the crew into pigs. When I was done several kids wanted to get hold of this great book. One girl asked if I could photocopy the whole thing for her. Homer lives! (I read in English not ancient Greek.)
I read Homer today to fifth graders - the section where Circe warns Odysseus about the sirens Scylla and Charybdis. A couple of kids had encountered the sirens in video games.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Public Service Restaurant Review

In the lively new trendy happening Green Lake neighborhood that houses Tangletown and a block and a half worth of eateries and coffee houses there is eva. eva dissappointed Saturday evening, but at least I have come away with a new verbed noun: "to plate", as in, after our table had been waiting over an hour after ordering our meals, our wait person informed us our dinners were being plated. Electrostatically? we wondered. Plating took another twenty minutes. Plating as in to put onto a plate. What was put onto the plates tasted a little burned around the edges, as if a creme broulee torch had been engaged not so light handedly for the task. Sauces were tasty. Featured crustaceans, fish or meats were perched pertly atop vegetable mounds and had to be deperched to be eaten, but that was fine. Because we are a group of indefatiguable in for the duration kinds of people we ordered coffees and desserts. Time ticked away. The conversation turned to disastrous restaurant experiences we have known. A member of our table was delegated to ask the kitchen for an eta on the ice cream and flourless chocolate cake. They were. astonishingly, being plated.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Abecedarious for Condoleeza Rice

Abracadabra! Magic opens its arms,
brash actor that she has become,
commits your face to memory,
decides your future before you blink.
Entertainer, evangelist, devil-elf, she
flings favoritism, forgets you,
goddess in her way, your way.
Hocus-pocus howler of no pity,
igniter of basest instincts, careless
juggler of all you value most,
kite raiser, curtailer, your
last best hope,
maternal and just as cruel.
Neither Nymph nor Narcissus
ordered you around like this,
pinned you to foam core, made you
question yourself, all qualms, no
reality or race card to
silence her silky tongue, her red
tonsils coming closer,
uvula trembling over our heads,
vicious and victorious as
W would have you imagine him, that
xenophobic embarrasment, empty birdcage,
yellow feather drifting past your ear. You're
zealous you say? Spare me.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Web is wonderful, except that you cannot touch anything.
This is one of the handmade books entered in a contest called "Abecedarium" - featuring paper made by the artist and the earliest written cuniform for letters. No matter what groovy idea you think is original to you, it ain't baby.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I'm having all kinds of adjustment issues - it's fall, but feels like summer again, I'm in the classroom wondering whether I'm offering anything unique to the kids (4th graders and 8th graders at the moment, in different classes on different days.) Outside I am whacking away at the really horrible looking crocosmia. During late spring to early summer crocosmia send their dark greens up up, like bunch grass but with wide wide blades. As summer moves along, the crocosmia starts leaning downhill, and by the time it sends out its clusters of orange (mine are orange, there are also red ones) flowers in Late July, it is nearly horizontal to the ground, and since the stuff self propagates like mad it forms a nearly seamless mat. Then comes September and it turns brown. Brown matted bad hair all over the hillside. I hack at it till it looks like the hill has a bad (or super trendy) haircut. My lavender don't get enough light now that the quaking aspen (typed quacking, deleted it, but now it's back so you can enjoy it too) has grown up up up and filled in, blocking all the light lavenders need so that the flower stalks fling themselves wildly like alien antennas or on the courses I used to send my yoyo when trying to do around the world. September is also when the blackberries send their ground runners stealthily along the ground (hence the name) - when they're covered by crocosmia for example they can get pretty far before I spy them and whack them to the property line. My next door neighbors have a native yard, a native bird sanctuary yard. They have a certificate to prove it. They have accomplished this by ignoring their yard except for brief forays through the thicket with sharp pruners (typed prooners. Must be the fourth graders.) I hold no grudges. They are great people and have made a trellis so that the kiwi from our yard can grow on it. More than a year ago one of our kiwi vines made its way into their house. They kept the window open all winter (it's a high window) - it was a weird sight to see green green kiwi leaves inside their house when the rest of the vines, including that one were bare outside. Botanically, I don't quite understand how this was possible, except for the fact that kiwi are from New Zealand.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Big meeting of writers who teach yesterday. 8:30-4:30. I am unused to being out in the peopled world for that long especially in an "on" context and feel tremendously blessed to possess large blocks of solitary time in my ordinary life. Greeting gray today I would rather pull the covers up around me and read than teach three classes and participate in another beginning of the year orientation.

Seasonal transition to darker, wetter days has me a little down. Also the moisture ants now mustering not only along the kitchen counter but the downstairs bathroom counter too. One of the writers, young, newly engaged, will spend the three darkest months in Arizona this year. Such brilliant planning ahead, such lateral thinking. I am teaching too many classes to go anywhere unless my sig oth gets a gig in London in which case I'm off off off.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ninetieth Post

Who doesn't think I take seriously my obligations as a literary blogger? Huh?

Getting ready to enter a class of fourth graders this morning - we'll be playing Acronymble, a game invented by a friend of a friend (both of these people highly dedicated writer-types) wherein you draw x number of Scrabble tiles from a bag and must make up an acronym to go with those letters in the order they were pulled out of the bag. Example: r, m, d are drawn from the sack. Reckless misogonystic dromedaries is a legal acronymble. Marvelous dandelion revelations is an illegal acronymble. After we play a few rounds of A., we'll write lunes from the words in the games (each kid will have their own cache of words, though we'll all have played from the same x number of letters. I have no intention of talking in this blog or in the classroom about crookneck squash, although if letters come out C and S in that order you can bet that combo will show up on my paper.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Gregarious, Hilarious, Precarious

Last night I gave the "Craft Talk" at It's About Time Reading Series at Ravenna Third Place Books - it was reading #209, I THINK. Featured readers were Murray Gordon, Allen Braden and Gerry McFarland. I was psyched to hear Allen Braden read and was rewarded as were we all. He spent July at a writer residency in downtown Chicago, where I guess it was cooler than in Seattle. I liked his postcard poems and his what he called "Lazy Sonnets." I nodded like mad as I write lazy sonnets too - no iambic pentameter or rhyme scheme for mine. Sometimes I think he stuck with rhyme, maybe all the time so I win for lazier sonnets, some of which I am toying with calling sonnetinas, particularly the two or so that are five syllables per line. Murray Gordon, who came in second in the Bart Baxter Spoken Word competition this year and in 2004 definitely has taken performance poetry to his heart, and beret and cargo pants. He was a kick. Sadly, Gerry McFarland was intensely difficult to hear. His voice was faint, even miked, and the help- yourself refrigerators of pop off to the left went into heavy humming mode so that I was about to check to see if their doors were open. The open mics were fab. My talk will be posted on the It's About Time website in the next few days.

I didn't get feedback on my talk last night because I'd thought the reading began at 7, but it started at 7:30, so I had to sneak out at the end of the last open mic to get home in time to sleep enough to be able to get up at 4:45 this morning to steer a long, long boat with four very experienced rowers in it, all of whom, sans me, will compete at Head of the Charles Regatta next month. A very technical race, I am assured, with eight bridges you cannot pass another boat under and many opportunities to run into other boats, capsize, and generally freak the heck out. I'm told its a race that frazzles the most experienced coxswains. So I'm satisfied that they are telling me the truth when they, Sara and Julia, the coaches, say that I'm progressing well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I woke up thinking numinous omnibus would be a good title. Sometimes I wake up thinking there is too much dog hair on the stairs.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Abecedarious One

Additionally, and because I care
Be especially brazen about expressing whatever
Causes your blood pressure to sky rocket,
Doubtless due to your deep heart and
Earnest wishing for everything to be okay
Forgetting that in these times everything is
Garishly not fine and what they want you to forget
Has tipped hellishly into the time we should all
Invade the streets of anytown, your town, Georgetown.
Justice, babies, we are so far behind that ball, but
Keep the faith as we used to say in the bad old
Lazy 60’s when we thought we were
Matriculating to the Age of Aquarius,
Never mind our knee jerk counterculturalism that
Operated to close minds like the author of Alley Oop’s,
Parents', people of differing opinions and etcetera.
Question: what do you want to do with your
Rambling, ramshackle righteousness?
Someone must step up and save us.
Truthfully, we don’t have much time. Things are
Urgent. More urgent than even the daily emails from
Various groups that want your money
Will worry you with, not willing to lose
Your dollars through their yammering. Ah for a
Zeus to rain down thunderbolts, jar us awake.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

For You, Fellow Paddler, And For Me

This from Kenneth Koch, who continues, in "The Art of Poetry"

To look at a poem again of course causes anxiety
In many cases, but that pain a writer must learn to endure,
For without it he will be like a chicken that never knows what
it is doing
And goes feathering and fluttering through life. When one
finds the poem
Inadequate, then one must revise, and this can be very hard
Indeed. For the original "inspiration" is not there. Some
poets never master the
Art of doing this, and remain "minor" or almost nothing at
Such have my sympathy but not my praise. My sympathy
Such work is difficult, and most persons accomplish nothing
In the course of their lives; ...

Let your language be delectable always, and fresh and true.

-Kenneth Koch

I'm thinking about revision, about talking about it in front of people, calling on Koch and Denise Levertov and Stephen Dunn and Jane Hirschfield, who I believe will help me to frame what I want to say, and give me some punchy quotations. I'm also reading poems and marking them with yellow post-it notes. Whether or not I will use any of the poems or many of the quotes I don't yet know. I'm circling around the idea of revision, bumping into thoughts and projects as I go, knowing that as I think and don't think and read and write some sort of sensible sounding or helpful theme will arrive and I will follow it around until I have something coherent to say, rather like a dog turning around and around to flatten its bed before lying down.

Kenneth Koch delights me - his high toned mock formality covering a deep seriousness.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Identifying More With the Pigs

DESPOT- absolute ruler
DEM- people
CARDI- heart
STA- to stand

Where am I going with this?
Imagine this was a subversive poem.

Taking a break from working on my essay about revising a poem. I decided to list the poetic devices I used from draft to draft, documenting the increasing density of poetic diction.
The poem I chose to write about has purposeful line breaks, a nod (fourteen lines, the last two heading off as envoy for the poem into the lived future of the reader with any sort of luck) to the sonnet form, active verbs, personification, rhythm of a personal persuasion, and the neat trick of addressing the poem to its subject, a gorilla, which (who?) I have personified.

I am fond of this poem. I feel proud of having written this poem. Writing about the process of making this poem is making me question my authenticity as a poet. Where are the metaphors? alliteration? assonance? Cases could be made, but truth would be stretched. I probably was about what I am often about when writing a poem, which is to say taking a large shapeless blob of pen scratching and prying off more than half the words. I never know at the outset what I mean to do outside of move the pen across paper to see what shows up. Like the lemon juice writing that magically became visible when your mother ironed the paper. With any luck you had not written "I hate mom" or actual swear words. No worries about me, I was very careful. I am no longer careful with words onto paper. I get it all out there. Easier to x something out than coax a thought into the pen with the pigs already snorting and rolling around. I don't think about my process so much as slosh through the mud taking inventory and throwing the inedibles over the fence. I guess I identify more with the pigs than their keeper.

Writing about my process makes me see that I believe things about making poems:
remove all unnecessary words
use the most accurate word
even if I don't stick to a particular meter, I make decisions based on the rhythm of the poem as I say it aloud.
I make line break decisions based on rhythm and suspense, not, "uh, this looks long enough."
Words have meanings but they also have size and shape and sound and history and all of these qualities influence my choices.
A poem is a piece of visual art.
The title matters.
A poem is no place for an instructional filmstrip or power point presentation.
A poem should have music in it and mystery and intuitive leaps and it should be somehow beautiful.
The poem should read as though it was made effortlessly but put a hell of a lot of effort into making the poem that sounds inevitable.
Be as concise as possible without sacrificing any music. Turn up the music.
Don't allow your reader to believe you think she is an idiot.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fibreglas resin: it isn't just for patching your boat anymore

"Boy", fiberglas resin sculpture by hyper-realist sculptor Ron Mueck, part of the Millenium Exhibition in London.

I Stopped Waiting for Godot at Intermission

DATELINE: Santa Cruz, California, May, 1971
A stunningly defiant and revolutionarily brazen production of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" took the stage at the UCSC Little Theater this evening. Vladimir and Estragon were absurd as ever, but played by women.

One of my housemates photographed the actors in costume in our yard for display in the theater lobby. I, who did not go to school and did not go to work, was recruited to black the edges of the card stock he mounted the photos on with a Flair pen. I felt connected to the production, and was given a free ticket for my artistic contribution, so I went. By myself. The story of why I, nineteen years old, was not in school, though registered for that semester at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon, is theater of the absurd in itself. Depressing theater of the absurd. I would argue there is no other kind of theater of the absurd. In fact, the point theater of the absurd wants to rub our little noses in seems to me so intuitively obvious and as foregone as conclusions go that it is pointless. Ha!

Vladimir and Estragon stood around, spoke their bits, waited. I squirmed in my seat. The lights went up and I walked home. My housemate commented later that my leaving at intermission was wise as the second act carried on pretty much the same way. I had thought the play was over.

Prior to that time I had imagined myself an intellectual. I had read every book in my parents' bookshelf, including 1984, but excluding most volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica, by the time I was in 8th grade. Samuel Beckett felled me. Why was he doing what he was doing? Well, yeah, that absurd thing, but why was he belaboring the point? Was he good? Why was he good? Why didn't I get him? I was proud to see women play these famous roles, but what was the point? If I took not having a point as the ground we stand on in life, which I did, why not do something else with work we create? Is this not a bit like pathetic fallacy? Or that other idea, where the writer mimics an inadequacy of some kind, let's say the production of boredom, to make the point that people were bored, which is supposed to be a writing deficit not a part of writing, I thought, to celebrate.

Years later, friends and I went to see "Texts for Nothing" at the Seattle Rep. These texts were not intended for the stage, Beckett had thought them "abortive," but Bill Irwin and his collaborators brought four of these to the stage. Bill Irwin is a terrific physical comedian with a lot of verve and wit, and I thought if anyone could guide me into an appreciation of Samuel Beckett he could. As we walked to our seats, my sig oth said, "uh oh," and pointed to the hole center stage. "You know that where he's going to end up, just a head sticking out of that hole." I was enjoying a bit of twilight sleep by the time Bill Irwin was neck-deep in that hole.

Is this a personal failure? I signalled my peers that I was intellectually precocious by reading Albert Camus's The Stranger in ninth grade, no comment on our chief of state overtly intended. Let it wobble in your near consciousness. For further exploration of that topic I recommend Adam Gopnik's "Talk of the Town" piece in last week's New Yorker.

I don't believe texts are for nothing. Who cares if there is no guiding hand up there to grant us meaning with a wiggle of his/her disinterested pointer finger? "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" is where I go with absurdity. Absurdity = given. What can I do with my time that makes sense to me? A sense I create out of a hierarchy of goods and needs that has human basis - ah secular humanist blast blast blast - but wait, not for Godot, who isn't coming even in the second act, but, oh and then there are those who are lit by evil - yeah, six year old girls, say, or world domination, or destructive fires, but let's say I give you a test and you pass, so given that you are this good kind of no evil doing person, then I say get out there and try out your voice on the world. I will too. Ready, go.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Materialism and Hip Surgery

In 1994, my sig oth and I were traveling in England. We had happened upon Charles Ware's Morris Minor Centre in Bath, England, where I went into paroxysms of bliss at the sight of dozens of Morris Minors: Travelers, Saloons, Lorries, Convertibles, unexpectedly and beside the main road to Brighton. Unable to produce sounds identifiable as words, I gestured wildly until my sig oth turned our rental car back around so I could walk among the field of cars. Dorothy and the poppies.

A couple of days later in the Lakes District, my shrewd sig oth said if I would go ahead with the hip replacement surgeries I was putting off (fear of losing consciousness and my real bone femurs, etc.) he would buy me a Morris Minor, and not make any negative remarks about the uselessness or danger of the car. He didn't articulate that last, but I have known this man a long time. Called Charles Ware nearly immediately, but the dove gray saloon I felt especially blissed over had already been sold. We returned to the US, I scheduled the first of my two hip replacement surgeries, and began a series of wish list faxes to Bath. March 13, 1995 I had surgery. A week later, my car arrived at the Port of Tacoma, where it was put into seven day quarantine by the Department of Agriculture. I think it was the Department of Agriculture. I was on three weeks of house arrest, but when Morris's week was up, we went to get it. Better than I'd imagined. Shinier, cuter, entirely mine.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Making Ready to Part with the Maroon Saloon

I have put an ad on the Classic Cars part of the Auto Trader website, so have seriously launched the process of selling HAM. I had a seven day free ad on Craig's List which brought one lookilou to my home to grind the gears and nervously steer my little car around a couple of blocks while I nervously sat in the passenger seat wanting to yank the controls away from him. We had a conversation about old British cars and braking before he had to apply brakes, so that went swell. When we got back to my carport he invited me to return HAM to its slot, which was a wise decision, then made noises about getting back to me.

Yesterday, sun out, chores done, I set off with car and camera to document HAM's charms in alluring locales. That house I covet on 39th Avenue! I parked HAM in front of it and shot a couple of cute ones. The Arboretum! Many stops in there, including the parking lot of the visitors center where I would have liked to pull up to the door. Every parking pull out in the Arboretum has a prominently displayed and large forest green garbage can with its white plastic slip hanging out between can and dome lid. I wanted to park directly in front of the handsome old Tudor style building on the upper campus of Bush School, or "Helen Bush School" as we knew it when I was a child, when it was an unapproachable upper echelon facility. My best friend's mother sewed the blue sailcloth jumpers Helen Bush School girls wore for uniforms, which was as close to association as I came then. Yesterday there were orange traffic cones barring access to the driveway. I continued on Lake Washington Blvd. to where it intersects with Hillside Drive and got a shot there with a smidge of pocket park foliage and wink of lake beyond.

But now there is an ad seriously posted and I have received my first bogus offer to purchase, which read:

Pls i want to confirm if your car is still available for sale,so if it is get back to me with your fime price for my husband view and payment to follow asap.
Mrs Jones.
SENDER'S NAME: Berty Jones
TELEPHONE: Buyer did not Provide

The wonderful world of internet commerce. I wouldn't reply even if I knew what a fime price might be.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Correcting an Error and Feeling Willing to Make More

On this day in 1875, Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Channel. In twenty-one hours and forty-five minutes, he swam from Dover, England, to Calais, France. Nine years later, he drowned in Niagara Falls, trying to swim across and under the churning water.

I realize I do not know how the rate is related to strokes per minute, but will post this finding once I learn as I know closet coxswains are taking notes as they dream of sitting in the stern of a very long narrow boat with eight (or four) tiring rowers eager to hear encouragement, cajoling, counting, anything actually to distract them from the number of minutes left to row as arms, backs, legs talk with greater and greater urgently about the need to cease punishing them and let up, please let up.

I ran us into zero, zilch, zip buoys today. There were boys out in a motor boat, one in the water, sometimes waterskiing, at which time the boat offered us its wake to wobble over, sometimes gawking at us as we passed on either side, two coxed eights intent on our south homebound course. Water was flat, weather warmish, sky clear, Mount Rainier's dome poked out of a cloud bouquet like a cauliflower in its nest of large ruffly leaves. I didn't hear the coach say to head toward the fishing pier, made a wavy motion with my hand to say I didn't hear when I should have put hand to ear so she though I'd heard then talked to me through the megaphone as I headed us dumbly home rather than back north again. All was resolved. Someone in my boat said, "you're her mom, tell her to be quiet!" which made me chuckle but not do any such thing. We learned how to do a river turn - rowers called it a "chop turn" but Julia said if we wanted to sound like we know what's what, we should call it a river turn. In a narrow place, for example a river, you spin the boat by dropping the oar in, lifting it out, tediously and together for a very long time - turning in a port direction you would have ports to back, starboards to row, but rather than backing and moving in a wide circle you pivot tightly and by wee wee increments. I got to conduct with arms out, but we all got bored and exhausted about a third of the way around and returned to ordinary spin so we could head to the dock where there was no wind and I got to steer us toward the north end of the south dock with very little difficulty. Next will be getting into my mind who I want to have tap their oar to move us in the direction I want on short notice so I don't have to say crew-confidence-deflating things like, "I have just gone brain dead. I want to move the bow to port, now what?"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

SCRABBLE Scramble in the Newspaper

Attempting this morning to do the scrabble gram in the newspaper - coming out with 69 points I see that a "par" score is 140-150, with a doozirama 100% score of 220. Absolute despondence. I mean it was upsetting to read again that we are fracking the hell out of foreign lands and that a Canadian-born wife beater released from jail intends to reunite with his beloved so bludgeoned she has no memory of him, but word games are meant to buck us the heck up and restate that all is well with the world if we can whisk letters around briskly (time limit of 20 minutes) and succeed ever so individually on this completely and totally nonessential level, allowing us to face the day smugly and securely, our private gold star pinned to the inside of our jacket (it is cool today) for protection.









I added up max scores given what I thought were the rules and came up with 76 possible total points, NOT 223. Reading more closely, I see that if you use all seven letters for any word you get 50 bonus points. Aha. I'm in with the in crowd even though I did not ever use all seven letters. I have also never pummeled anybody nor told the State of Washington my spouse had MS, therefore they should pay me money to take care of her, let alone not allowed them in to my boat, let alone come out of jail and declared I want what she wants and that she wants me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Slightly At a Tilt

Into the fours this morning, three of us coxing (one per boat) and it was thrilling really to be each by each by each, rowers pulling like mad, boats riding high atop the early morning chop on Lake Washington, our points set to where the floating bridge meets the shore of Mercer Island, clouds low and protective over our heads, coach whizzing alongside in her launch urging long strong strokes through her megaphone and keeping us advised of rates as none of the boats seemed to have a working whirligig underneath the stroke seat that keeps counts of rates. The one in the boat I persist in remembering as being named the Blue Thunder which I know is wrong, registered rates, but veered crazily from 18 to 49 from catch to catch so that I only payed attention to it for the charge of reporting to the stroke, who is a long time rower with a metronome in her head, that she was doing 37 strokes a minute in an informational tone of voice. A far better day on the water than last Friday, when an experienced coxswain showed up to cox too and I showed my competitive mettle by pouting and messing up. My whole boat was out of it, the stroke not usually a stroke, the rate counter not working, the workout being all about keeping at 16 strokes a minute then 18 strokes a minute alternating for two minutes each for a period of 16 minutes. Both the stroke and I were out of sorts, not to mention that she is short, our bow seat is tall and she kept trying to row as though her arms were half a foot longer. And then it turned out the experienced cox had never been in a bow load four and got claustrophobic being down in the hold out front and had to sit up because she was scared. Meanwhile I ran my ports' oars into a buoy with minimal warning, though I apologized afterwards. Huge lake, but I ran them into anothe buoy this morning trying to keep from running into another of the boats. We'd been told to stay together and we were being obedient. Next time I'll have the rowers ease off so we'll have room and not bang into anything, boat or buoy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Boating with Plywood

Our friend grew up in Wisconsin where when they get bored with waterskiing they cut a sheet of plywood into a disk shape and get onto it to be pulled behind the motorboat. Additional props are necessary, such as the resin chair shown in the photo above. Each of the three participants in the plywood derby this weekend went into the water with disk and chair and two of the three managed not only to sit on the chair on the disk while being pulled behind the motorboat, but stood up on the chair on the disk and then turned around backwards, while continuing to be pulled along behind the motorboat.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Paul Klee Rock

Lake Chelan,
Fields' Point
walking the dog. The renters down the dirt drive encountered a skunk the other night - their dog was sprayed, they chopped its fur into a punk do. I suggested tomato juice. Bears have been eating the bird feeder food at another neighbor's place. I've seen the skat, large plops and much smaller ones so that yesterday morning, 6am, I sang and clapped and walked fast through the section of our walk during which the dog and I heard branches crunching in the woods.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Poetry Inventions, with Apologies to Bernadette Mayer and Johnathan Mahew

1. write apoem composed entirely of New York Times headlines
2. write a poem composed entirely of Weekly World News headlines
3. write poems composed of words that begin with "st"
4. write a haiku every morning for a month then make a book of them
5. handmake a book especially for each poem you have written
6. memorize your poems. if you don't love them, who will?
7. make a poem entirely from lines from junkmail you receive in the mailbox today
8. make a poem entirely from subject lines in your email inbox
9. write in a form that begins with the same letter as this month. You might have to make up a form.
August, Acrostics, Alphabeticals,
September: sestinas, sonnets, succotash poems, sea shanties
October: octets or Operatic Verse
November: Nine Line Poems (from Poetry Everywhere), Nocturnals
December: Definition Poems, Deconstructions, Dada, Dictation
January: Jacobean verse, Justification of Existence Poems, Jewelbox Poems
February: Fraidy Cat Verses, Foreign Language Poems, found verse
March: Misnomer Poems, Memory Poems, Metered Verse
April: Architectural Poems, Accidental Verse, Annotated Verse
May: Mock Heroics, Medicine Bottle Label Poems
June: Juice Box Poems (will fit on sides of), Joy & Jubilation Poems, Journal
July: Jealous Poems, Joke List Poems, Junk Drawer Poems
10. Write a book of invented poetry forms
11. Send out one poem a day to a different journal every day for three months
12. Give an impromptu poetry reading for your pets. Dress up.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sending the Children out onto the Road

I sent off five poetry bits to A.K. Allin/Matchbook Poems/403 Roy St. #26/Seattle, WA 98109. Today, Tuesday, August 15, 2006 is the deadline day, though the email I got Sunday said send an email if you want to send and can't by the 15th. Since I know there are dozens of you reading this and not commenting because you're shy, I'll put the email address here: so you can email right away. I sent some of the ones I wrote about and took portraits of, but made a couple of changes, since, having written about not being able to be thoughtful, I was a little bit more able to apply my brain in making decisions about what to send. I ditched: "Steakhouse truth:/some are hungry." Now I think that was dumb.

On Labor Day, two of my poems will be part of "Simultaneous Systems of Notation and Representation," a poetry, dance, music and visual creation by Linden Ontjes for Eleventh Hour Productions. Go to Bumbershoot's website to learn about when and to the link on that page to read again the phrase "The Poetic Forms Council for Coffee" one more time. Tatiana Michel and Linden Ontjes will read poems by me, Kary Wayson, Linden, Tatiana, and Jennifer Foster.

Why I Have Trouble Submitting My Work

Someone has a cool new poetry idea: put 1-4 lines of poetry on the inside of a matchbook (I'm assuming it's a blank one, custom designed to highlight poetry, not just pasting poetry lines into existing matchbooks. I want to send them some options.

My first misstep was to spend time obsessing about what the editor meant when she wrote :Grab a matchbook. Flip it over. Now imagine your poetry there on the cover."
Does she mean flip it OPEN? I spent far too much time thinking about this.

Next, I began looking at poems to find lines to send and discovered that nearly every line of my poetry has more than 25 characters in it. Each line submitted must have 25 or fewer characters. It must also "explore language, live outside the mundane, evoke color and sound, convey mood."
None of my work does any of this, I respond from a cowering posture, recover, copy out lines, and type them up.

I find five matchbooks in the house and paste the five bits I've chosen inside the covers, so they can be seen when the matchbooks are flipped open. I flip them open and imagine whether or not they "spark poetry in unconventional circles" as the editor hopes seven submissions will.

I'm pretty sparked by:

The formidable now
shrivels jokes.

from "Perils"
Her pencil sharpened
her wits

from "Self Portrait #2" is okay.


Steakhouse truth:
some are hungry.

from "Feeding Tube Blues" is best when it has from "Feeding Tube Blues" below it. I don't know if it has a high enough smoldering point standing alone.


your ski rhythm tightened
through your ankle --

from "A Tentative Mathematics of Atonement" is sensorally interesting whether or not sensorally is an actual adverb anyone else will recognize.


my fingers fast in gloves
brazen among dog turd
and blackberry

from "Fighting Entropy, September" may just be gross. Maybe I should go with the last two lines, leave the gloves out of this?

And here is where it goes to hell and I second guess myself to the point where I say "what the hell?" and shove the undeserving into an envelope and out into the world because my brain shuts down, refusing to choose, to judge, to look critically but without meanness at my writing and make intellingent decisions. This is an area of difficulty for me, probably my next largest area of difficulty after procrastination. My critical ear, choice-making brain, poet's sensibility, they all say, we're out of town, we've left no forwarding address, don't call us, we can't be reached and so my disbelieving self-sabotaging idiot self is left to submit the work. She has absolutely no sense, being one of the monkeys not allowed to sit on one of the hundred stools in front of the hundred keyboards whose job it is to type randomly proving that written beauty can be produced ala typing time. My monkey picks her nose and dips her tail in the toilet. And she's the one I call on to send my work out.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

If we're only molecules huddled to foil entropy, so what?

Oars, people, boats, all minor things, but when they all pull one way, thats the way the water flows. (with apologies to Bill Stafford)
oar carrier, rigger & derigger,
wrench wielder, bungee afixer,
trail enforcer, freebie hoarder,
soggy sock carter, encourager,
race watcher, photo taker,
cox box carrier, sunglass wearer,
boat walker, occasional talker

Fourth and final day of US Rowing Masters Nationals at Green Lake.

I missed the morning, our only, race. Now I don't have to go back until 2 to take down the tents, etc. so I have a little time to myself, which is a bit frightening after three days entirely focused on the needs of boats and rowers and in particular the assistant coach, not that she needs my help. I am is it constitutionally? other-focused. Happiest when in the midst of someone else's all-encompassing enterprise. I will weed another's garden, feed another's fish, collate another's chapbook, fetch, worry, carry on for you you you you. My work progresses best when I am able to concentrate one tenth of that much energy and focus on it, which is intensely difficult. My first impulse when alone is to go off the grid, into limbo.

The trick is to stop cooperating with entropy, isn't it? Entropy Co-dependent, the twelve step program.
1. Do not ever accept helplessness and/or hopelessness as your birthright
2. Act from choice
3. YOUR OWN choice
4. choose daily, hourly, minutely
5. tune your mind by using it
6. live in your body and move it
7. love other people
8. love yourself
9. don't worry about what this all means
10. create beauty
11. appreciate beauty others have created
12. do not accept the world as it is

Send $1 million and SASE to me for print brochure

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Rowing Nationals on Green Lake Day I

Big job today keeping groups from congregating on the Greenlake Walking/Biking Path through the regatta area - volunteer gig with blue tee shirt for thanks. Way way out of my comfort zone to tell groups of people I don't know to do something differently than what they are doing. Not to mention the whole issue of right to assembly. I took it on like something that would be good for me. Nobody refused to comply. I asked one group if I had sounded scary enough.

Cool today with some rain in the morning, wind gusting in the afternoon. Glad we were on Green Lake and not Lake Washington.

Nobody needed me to cox today. I took pictures. Did the hour volunteer gig, walking from one end of the regatta area to the other and back again for a little over an hour. Hung around in the Conibear tent, carried oars, watched boats launch, watched boats race, listened to the innane and near constant babble of the announcer, listened to the bad musical choices during his too-brief breaks, bought a hat to cox in that has a cox embroidered on it, felt part of the team, ate breakfast at a restaurant within a mile of the course with my coach-daughter. Long day.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Sadly, I cannot begin with an image, which is the way I like to post. Image, then text. So different than writing poetry, where the text produces images, on a good day. This morning I am sluggish and reluctant. Is this not a fairly common phenom with me? Ah yes it is. I want to have all the goodies in my little bassinett, hold the effort. Thank you. Binkie please!

Yesterday, rather than working on my transliteration poems, which would mean either rough drafting my way through one, two, or three, I decided to make a dummy chapbook of the ones that are fairly on their way to becoming my poems, which is to say, twenty one poems if I cheat a weensy bit. I titled them and put them two to an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet, then printed back to back so that they are in chapbook format. I think this is what is known as end-gaining, but it is also ego boosting and progress marking. Yea me, I have some poems here, go me! That last bit tongue in cheek- ish if you are declaiming this blog aloud.

I read myself everytime I post. Addictively. Particularly when I begin with posting an image.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Adam & Eve at MoNA

During the 2006 Skagit River Poetry Festival in LaConner, the Museum of Northwest Art put up a show of word-based art. Off to the left side of where a panel of three of us poets held forth on women poets (they rock - title of panel and our consensus,) was a grouping of tiles, one set of tiles grouped around the word Adam and one grouped around the word Eve. Each tile had one word printed on it. I don't remember what other embellishments were present, just the words, which I copied down and will reproduce here as two columns without commentary. Let us begin:

dominant nurture
treacherous fecund
rational protective
ideal intuitive
moral destructive
classical mystery
absolute vegetal
pragmatic seductive

Dominant in my response is, vegetal? I can't get over vegetal, but then I cannot help equating Eve with woman, Adam with man. I think the writer of the Bible's chapter of Genesis meant for the reader to identify in this way, so I am going to proceed as though I have made a pragmatic rather than a seductive decision to let this be the ground we walk on for the moment. Vegetal?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Novice Coxswain Juggles Microphone, Steering on Race Course

In my ordinary life as writer, time is not a critical factor. Let's say I need a synonym for the word "forgetful" - at my leisure I can search my own cranial vaults, the various thesauri on my shelves, the hilariously off-base thesaurus in Word, and muse of whichever ones of these seem suitable. Time! Hah! It does not exist for me. I am out of time, beyond time, mini immortal in my lack of dependence on its constraints.
And lo, I have put me in a boat and I have said to the rowers, row, and I have asked them for race cadence and power 10's, have admonished them to give me high 20's and to take their rates up two in two. I have told them weigh nuff, and hold down, have said "spin the boat" and "ports to back, starboards to row," and they have performed these magical requests, on my signal for lo these many days.
Today was my first day on the race course. "Just follow the course buouys as you warm up," said the coach, and I steered wide and warmed them up. We spun the boat. We practiced starts and power tens, up two beats for 10, up two more for ten. We have fussed and manipulated our large boat with its extending oars within the bounds of lane 4. I have stepped from the boat on the water into the launch on the water and then into another boat on the water without incident. I have been handed a microphone with no strap to hold it to my head and I have failed to follow what pilots call the hierarchy of flying which is the hierarchy of coxing which is "aviate, navigate, communicate" and I have fiddled with the microphone that would not hang from my ear of its own accord nor hold itself under my small cap and have swung wildly into lane 3 and into lane 5 and my rowers have soldiered on, heads out of the boat as I have oversteered to compensate. Yikes.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

When You've Got Flow, Go With It

Poem 24: Eeva Kiilpi

Say, how ‘bout dancing
at vagrant homeland motels?
Jazz meds and skat candy, martinis in caftans, faster and harder,
Handel with whiskey and soda, Calypso, stiff crackers,
Beethoven, lingon schnapps,
Med naps not like cadences Shaka Khan
Dewars, Mick and masquerade, hi hat glamour,
thanks to Jagger, one step recovered.
Hear James Taylor’s tidy garish mouth.
Ocher Coburn, a scandal swearer, handstands Hammond,
Natural lignins jaw up Band Aid, Jewel, Neal Sedaka,
Allmans, Hall & Oates, altos, Haydn, Hendrix, life
force at gloaming.

Monday, July 31, 2006


"We actually received a call last week from the 809 area code. The woman said "Hey, this is Karen. Sorry I missed you--get back to us quickly. I Have something important to tell you." Then she repeated a phone number beginning with 809 "We didn't respond".Then this week, we received the following e-mail:Subject: DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE 809 , 284 AND 876 THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION PROVIDED TO US BY AT&T. DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE 809 This one is being distributed all over the US . This is pretty scary, especially given the way they try to get you to call. Be sure you read this and pass it on. They get you to call by telling you that it is information about a family member who has been ill or to tell you someone has-been arrested, died, or to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc. In each case, you are told to call the 809 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls. If you call from the US , you will apparently be charged $2425 per-minute. Or, you'll get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often be charged more than $24,100.00.WHY IT WORKS: The 809 area code is located in the British Virgin Islands (The Bahamas).The charges afterwards can become a real nightmare. That's because you did actually make the call. If you complain, both your local phone company and your long distance carrier will not want to get involved and will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company. You'll end up dealing with a foreign company that argues they have done nothing wrong. Please forward this entire message to your friends, family and colleagues to help them become aware of this scam"Sandi Van HandelAT&T Field Service Manager(920)687-904

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Drive With the Doves

A conversation with Larry Eigner

Larry: Any amount, degree, of perfection is a surprise.
Me: Any amount, degree, of attempts at perfection leave me panting on the fainting couch
Larry: too much of or too frequent a good is distraction
Me: which is why I play freecell rather than writing poetry
Larry: and words can't bring people in India or West Virginia above the poverty line
Me: which I find enormously upsetting. I had an idea as a child that words were exactly what we could use to exactly alleviate poverty, war, racism, idiocy.
Larry: As they come, what can things mean?
Me: When they are overwhelming: Iraq war, Israel making war on Lebanon, Seattle man murdering Jews. More important here to me than meaning is how do we curb violence? greed?
Larry: I feel my way in fiddling a little, or then sometimes more, on the roof of the burning or rusting world.
Me: You are braver than I am some days when I just want to lie in the fetal position in the pantry on the cool cool floor in the dark.
Larry: "to care and not to sit still" Careful of earth air and water mainly perhaps, and other lives, but some (how many?) other things too.
Me: To be alive is to care and then not to care and then care again, to create, then scrub the lawn furniture, then sit at the table with a rose in a vase and write, making a statement that what one person does with the materials of her life and brain and and heart and intuition matters.
Larry: What first (off)? What next?
Me: What to do, what to do? as the babushki say in Russia, but then to let that go, that fatalism, that defeatism, that belief that the horrific news we hear daily, hourly is all the news of the world. Which it emphatically is not.

Larry Eigner's portion of this conversation taken from "Approaching things Some Calculus How figure it Of Everyday Life Experience" from The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Attempt writing in a state of mind that seems least congenial. Bernadette Mayer

Water bugs on the Charles River.

Never listen to poets or other writers. Never explain your work.
-Bernadette Mayer

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The author may plant in his text his enigmas. - Alan Davies

Using a trowel and an eyedropper, I set forth to plant my enigmas.
The enigma may be no more enigmatic to a reader than is the rest of the text,
Alan D.
but, really, what is an enigma, and why is it spelled with a silent g?
The enigma is chosen as a special burden,
Alan D.
Swell. I'll have to pass.
The enigma, cued only to itself, faces nothing.
Alan D.
Which, once again, has me in mind of my mother.
The enigma is impoverished in context.
Alan D.
Ah! Now we're getting somewhere. The little matchgirl, snow, etc.
The enigma does not exist in the tangled limits of nature.
Alan D.
Oh, sorry. No snow then.
An enigma cannot be plural;
Alan D.
This just makes me sad.
The enigma must not be made to speak itself in any direction.
Alan D.
No fun at parties, then.
The enigma is consigned, ordered.
Alan D.
No hot pants, no scotch and sodas at noon.
It (the enigma) does not need to be there.
Alan D.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On the Road

Traveling through the dark under an overpass on my way to Tacoma a few years ago, I heard a gun go off or an enormous backfire, or 270 firecrackers going off simultaneously.

My sig oth keeps asking when I am going to get my windshield repaired.

Even East of Eden comes to an end, eventually, at which time you have to find something to do to amuse yourself if you aren't the driver.

Ste. Chapelle Winery, Caldwell, Idaho

This Just In: Rod Stewart now working as limo driver in Boise, Idaho area. We saw him at the downtown farmer's market on Saturday, then at the winery on Sunday. One of the women on the picnic blanket next to us ran after him to have him sign her breast. My daughter's sig oth overheard him in conversation on a cellphone: "I'm going to work this job forever." See, he is Rod Stewart.

As a baby boomer, I find it difficult to grok that I have a daughter old enough to have a sig oth and old enough to own a house. Both of these are true independent of my ability to process their existence.

Very hot in the Boise area. My daughter's back deck is equipped with misters, devices that spray mist into the sitting area. Just about necessary if you expect to spend any time at all out of doors. Note the trees and shade in above photo.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Villanelle in Celebration of Some Living and Dead Seattle Coffeehouses

Virginia’s wayward appassionato
Grand illusion, motore vita –
Splendido last exit, Van Gogh.

Essential hungry mind, argento
Still life in Fremont, bella
Virginia’s wayward appassionato.

Four angels speakeasy, b & o,
Fuel the local victrola –
Splendido last exit, Van Gogh.

The blue dog Bauhaus allegro,
Perkatory insomniax Panama,
Virginia’s wayward appassionato,

Scooters racer on the ave, Zingaro
Vivace zeitgeist arosa,
Splendido last exit, Van Gogh.

Dharwin fiore neo el Diablo,
Starlife revolutions bacco Messiah,
Virginia’s wayward appassionato,
Splendido last exit, Van Gogh.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Don't Wanna Do What's Good For Me

Line them up, them good words, them healthy words, them big ol high protein high vitamin words and swallow em. They got some poets can down em dozens at a time, can feed them back to you too, tap tap tap on the keyboard, swoosh on paper, they don't mind. They know what's good and they don't fight it. They don't lie down on they little fat backs and scream they heads off. They don't kick they little feet and screw up they little faces. They pull them little skinny books down out of they bookshelves and they lay them out one after the other and they read and they read and they read and then they write. They take they little black ink pens in they hands and they scribble. My how they do. They don't whine that they don't got no good ink or they pens got lost. They don't fret about they too thin paper or they no idea brains. They shame me, they do.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Erging for Coxes

Row in four beats, three for recovery then one for the drive
Sit ready, row
arms, body, legs, LEGS body arms
arms, body, legs, LEGS body arms
smooth it out

Power ten in two
don't rush the slide
up two in two
don't shake your head
fix it on the next stroke
if you shake it, take a power ten
power ten in two
count four beats, three for recovery, one for the drive
keep it smooth
don't shake your head
power ten in two

Thursday, July 06, 2006

If you look at me sideways you'll see Sasquatch

Dithering rather than heading out to get estimates to repair my Morris Minor which was attacked by a falling rock between Alpenhorn and Lake Chelan Yacht Club after my sig oth and I had seen a "Watch For Falling Rock" sign somewhere else two days before and declared that neither of us had ever seen a falling rock. Rock gods must have heard this as a request for experience. Thanks, guys.

The year before, my sig oth's bossy older Porsche was hit by a meteor through the carport roof. Oh yes, a meteor. ite. Someone in his office building had an extra Porsche hood and gave it to him. This is actually an object lesson in "putting it out there in the universe" as the newage (rhymes with sewage) folks say. Ask for a Porsche hood or a falling rock and either shall be granted to you. Amen.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Maroon Saloon Climbs Stevens Pass After Passing Out in Leavenworth

Fell in love, 19, with Morris Minors. Denied a green one by my childish waiting for my father's okay, languished in longing until 1994 when, departing the town of Bath, England, in a Ford Eurosmall vehicle, we came upon dozens of Morris Minors in front of The Morris Minor Centre. Days later, my ability to converse about anything not Morris Minors nil, my sig oth mentioned that if I would undergo much needed total hip replacement surgeries he would throw in the extra bonus prize of one Morris Minor, accompanied by no shit talk about minor issues like why the hell would any sane person desire such a death car, etc. March 13, 2005: left hip replaced, osteotomy. Two weeks later my Maroon Saloon was released from quarantine at the Port of Tacoma, one week shy of my release date from house arrest. We drove to Tacoma and took delivery. January 2, 1996: left total hip with osteotomy. Drove Maroon Saloon over Stevens Pass for the first time that April. Today was the last up and over that 4100 feet of elevation gain. See photographic proof here on this blog. To drive over pass, you need: one pair ear plugs, one gallon water, one quart oil, one full tank unleaded gas, one lead foot on accelerator, one battery and then another battery out of the boat brought to you by sig oth after phone call from Leavenworth where marvelous vehicle equipped with Prince of Darkness (Lucas) electrical system had drunk all battery juice and vigor. The gift of the undependable car is unexpected down time out of ordinary life. I spent my hour plus walking trails in the river park of Leavenworth with my camera.