Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thirteenth and Final 13x13

ed & of of no be he so us an an do by

kale dark heliotrope in terra cotta weighted
with Martha Washington geraniums &
the hanging pot that offered its bounty of
languid lobelia as down the alley men of
rhythmic insistence pounded plastic pails of
drywall mud and too wide trucks with no
consideration blocked my car but I had to be
gracious as I was brought up to be unlike he
who pounded oblivious as flowers so
I stared at leaves and blooms, no us
to intrude on solitude this pounding an
irritation like drizzle or an
unlit road where there's nothing to do
so you wait, wait, wait, stand by.


I am not entirely pleased with my 13x13 experiment but committed to it and now am done and truly. There's something to tout, shout about, whatever clever me.

House of women this week, husband in another city at his company's monthly "Programmathon" for extended time, my sister here this week to begin her distance learning information science masters program at the UW, my daughter here to work till her husband sells or rents their Boise house so they can move here.

Today is my planning meeting for a big teaching residency that will determine my holes for the year I can then fill with writing, including residencies elsewhere, which I crave.

A little dulled and padded in cotton wadding, mirroring this Seattle fall day of bland cloud and muffled sounds out the window, dreary with the waning light. This far north the light wanes early, all day on a cloudy day like this one.

Tonight is poetry writing group. Do I have a poem to take? I have these 13x13 pieces, one of which might do. Or not. I don't recall there was an assignment, haven't gone to group nearly all summer, but I'll go with whatever I have that's new if not all that good. What is my fricking project now?

Waiting to hear back about my two chapbooks, and about my fellowship application.

Ah and in other news, I went to the optometrist yesterday. My sister wears glasses that correct for astigmatism and distance vision. When I tried them on, I saw more clearly, which led me to make the optometrist appointment. As I have uncorrected lazy eye in my left eye, which as I recall from my childhood has 20/400 vision whatever that means, I did very badly on the left eye eye exam and took it as a personal failing. I could not tell the very nice technician which of the lenses between my eye and the vague wall sharpened my vision. I had to bring my adult to counsel my inner child that I need not feel ashamed not to be able to see, even to fuzz to black (not Amy Winehouse's black) most of the grid I was supposed to see with or without wavy grid. I saw a black circle instead of most of the grid with my left eye. A brain tumor, obviously.

The kind tech left the room to consult with the optometrist. When she returned she told me he'd explained that the condition I have made further exploration of my inadequate vision unnecessary. I hadn't been able to accomplish binocular vision while reading a card of poorly constructed and predictable sentences of decreasing size through the giant owl eye device. She then put yellow eye drops in my eyes to numb them so she could put the glaucoma testing devise to each eye. I didn't believe her when she said she had touched the surface of each eyeball with it. The cylinder shape that approached my retina was fascinatingly blue. I am easily amused. I had enjoyed the air balloon in blue sky scene she showed me at the beginning through the owl eyes device. There was a flattened polaroid camera with two eye pieces I held at one point, as well as the plastic spoon disk to cover one eye and the 3d movie glasses with pinpricks and a little lever to close the pinpricks off one eye at a time. I also looked through something that had a series of red concentric circle circumferences like a portal to another dimension in a sci fi movie.

When the optometrist met with me he pooh poohed any weirdness about my left eye, focusing (ha) on the very little correction I might need to see better with my right, which does have mild astigmatism and a bit of distance vision difficulty. He said my problem with blurry vision after reading with my reading glasses (1.25, from the drug store) is not due as I thought to aging lenses unable to adjust quickly (I imagine attempting to adjust a rusted old fashioned camera lens)but to my straining my eyes with too little correction and suggested I try 1.5 reading glasses. "I think you'll be amazed at the difference," he said, adding that I will feel far less fatigued. I think he was talking only of my eyes, but I have a certain zesty hope that I'll feel more bouncy overall.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

13x13, Day 12

You led with both ursas. I thought not
bad, showed you orion's belt. I stared
beyond for effect, which wasn't what
did you in. You had to have me always,
my honking laugh, bitten nails, odd gait,
and lazy eye my mother mentioned
and you smiled out of politeness
her eyes on you like headlights to your brain.
you had no idea where we would take
you nor had I, who thought only of myself,
fly on fire on the dashboard
none of my business.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

13x13, Day 11 plus Alice Walker heals what ails you

only then here will have take than they feel were who him fall
Only when our feet touch earth
then we breathe and remember we are
here and see green and babies, have
will to wonder at willows that
have a place here with us though we
take ourselves more seriously
than eternity calls for given
they sway with underground water
feel atmospheric pressure and
were here before us
who think we are precious, me,
him, you, all of us so puffed up who
fall down so soon so soon
Alice Walker read her new children's book WHY WAR IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA at Town Hall last night as well as her last children's book THE FLOWER ON THE END OF MY NOSE IS SMELLING ME as well as being being being in our presence so that I relaxed and spent those hours there with her, crying when she talked about walking with her overweight lab and many other times from being touched not tough, my sister beside me here from San Francisco to begin a distance learning graduate program at the UW, and so apprehensive about it. Both of us nervous about how to be with one another, both of us given this lovely lovely oasis of calm and presence in experience of joy and of difficulty. Who cares if I sound frickin newage?

Monday, September 24, 2007

13x13, Day 11

only then here will have take than they feel were who him fall

Only you and I rise at five

then as cars drowse

here and no birds sing but

will for joy of new light

have a place on this lake

take fish rather

than frogs from shallows

they dive as we

feel to avoid where geese

were as you who shoulder boats

who lug armfuls of oars no

him among us breathe

fall adjust stretchers and row


guten morgen and off to find an optometrist covered by my new insurance

Sunday, September 23, 2007

13x13, Day 10

Can doesn't mean will

but won't is unsatisfying.

Say you want

but you don't know what.

Hot resentment burns

sun-like and you

see everyone so clearly

for what they short shrift,

the unfit shirt gift,

ant trail on the counter verge.

Was this what you hoped?

Get your own life going.


Happy Sunday of marshmallow sky above the big leaf maples beyond my urban chicken farming neighbors' white house.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

13X13, Day 9

Almost makes me want more, or less
though I'm prone to temporizing though
always makes your reader confident
through your certainty
behind which who knows who they
believe you are not waffling
woman of bitten inner cheek but
bloom of hothouse
season immune
flower of
eternal persimmon
tomato gorgeous harvest


off to breakfast

Friday, September 21, 2007

13x13, Day 8

Between is not
morning. I want
summer sandals,
birthday candles,
freedom from ghosts.

Another says
weather passes,
puddle famous
goddess of my
promise, promise,

murmur sweetness,
together or
monster, be. BE.

Thirteen four-syllable lines. After grading two classes worth of setting descriptions from the five senses. By eighth graders. Oh, and ordering Sally Foster Fundwraps on the internet to benefit the school. And depositing my first teaching check of the school year. And having lunch with my daughter. and especially after sitting in the stern of a long narrow boat steering and talking while eight other women rowed. That was pretty glorious as the sun rose through the partial clouds over the sleepy lake.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

13x13, Day 7 plus hairtastrophy

Echoed Hit Parade

sweet the singer and the song they say of
spring or said so long ago we've only read
would love we thought to live with no
winter of word solace to rue
which we do as when we're rude or
dream of being who we're not in that
garden of perfection we wouldn't have to weed
nature of our nostalgia no scent of dung
happy love more happy happy love or
month of merry may with flowers this
world will never seed you
laugh and I as summer verdigris our
shrubs as grubs fatten in loam shade


whoopie and hydeho she's still got it I crow for no
one this felt sky morn as another prius this one red
rattles out the alley for the owner's day away
and I prepare my fiction lesson for 8th graders and now this is prose and I'll continue in this vein till I have to quit and enter figures in quicken, pay bills online from my bank's website, take a moment to book travel to Boston because I have committed to coxing the Head of the Charles race, the 8 we've added having won the lottery so that there'll be three Conibear boats on that river, two bow coxed fours and our eight and I'm not yet mentally or physically prepared for this rash leap of rashness rashly promulgated entered into etc by me yesterday morning when I was so happy to see everyone at the boathouse and they were happy to see me and there we go I do still and all want to be within the web. We're spiders now, but in the next paragraph we'll go back to I singular who I hope will morph human.

I want to quote Shawna coming up the stairs this morning who lamented "my hairzaster" and then in front of the bathroom mirror, "this morning's hairtastrophy," because she's off to an architects' conference on green building and all the architects are cool. And then she explained they're effortlessly cool, don't care if they're cool, just are cool. Except they like to keep building more buildings higher and higher all over the city, that's not so cool. The conference is going all day at REI Headquarters which may or may not be a great example of green building what with all the tearing down and building new and not reused and also grand vast and humongous. Shawna by the way is cool.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

13x13, Day 6

green, please, never, above, about, warm, party, juice, peace, name, rattle, moon, work

green paint chip reads "wild asparagus"
please make me gallons, let me
never lose my love for paint names
above all paint fan decks, let me dream
about evening primrose,
warm my roller with Empire Yellow,
party puce,
juice my appetite for Parisian Rouge,
peace rose, cape blue. what's in a
name smells sweet as
rattle of rhubarb russet, sooth of
moon beam on brush, names to
work my imagination away from hock

Monday, September 17, 2007

13x13, Day 5

make, want, when, light, snow, some, cake, from, their, there, leave, grow, relax

make you a bet what I
want and what you want
when night follows
light with shadows across
snow never hail or
some kind of cold
cake smearing
from your mother or
their mother as long as
there is cake we want
leave to be loved and
grow wings we can
relax under

but anyway I feel sadness in this testing and new processes for success climate in schools where who knows if what I can do is raise test scores? I thought the purpose of artists in residence was for kids to see another way to see the world, another way of being, somebody with a passion for something other than rubriks and spelling competencies, someone in my case who doesn't much give a passel what grades you're good for, what portion of the raised wasl scores you have proudly plugged away to earn for teacher and primarily principal to keep her job. I thought what I was good for in a school was a little charge of an undiscovered outside world, the fact there are always undiscovered outside worlds and all you have to do is look out there, all you have to do is live and open yourself to possibilities you have keys to, not teacher, not schoolbook, not laptop or tool. You. Inside that vast mind that everybody is so afraid you'll discover on your own and flee into so you won't buy video games, cell phones, gap jeans but lean into your dreams and into the future you can oh still and yet create.

how much of a future do I have as a writer in the schools? I mean if I don't collaborate unto cooperate unto plough under my own fields and become a member of the borg, another set of feelers touching feelers all of us getting our instructions from the queen who is the only one of us fully sexed and sentient. how sad and wasteful.

I don't feel so much used up as ill used and poorly understood. but it is not the misunderstanding of me that daunts me and makes me crabby, what I dislike unto loathe is the removal of the child from the education, the removal of education from the school, the removal of teacher even for children not disposed to do well with people. set them in front of screens at home and that will be the same and oh dear what is this future going to look like even as I yada yada about disappearing into one's own dream. See I don't much believe one's own dream can emerge from a mass produced anything, even book. Perhaps time alone under stars in a (pervert free) night field would do as much for a child as I can.

and then there's my developmental stage in which I feel uninspired to nurture teachers, administrators, even children. I have little inclination to accomodate. I never much liked the real feel of real public schools though I like many public school teachers and kids. What is it I bring that I can articulate so they can say yea or nay and stop with the prodding of my offering into distorted shapes not so conducive to my communicating what it is that makes it worth anyone's time that I'm there taking time and money from what else they could be doing in classes. I am in danger of waxing nostalgic for the days when there were unworn down un threatened teachers who got what I brought asked for it and thanked me when we were done and kids lifted pens, pencils, crayons and wrote/drew/enthused/woke up/questioned/thrived on a moment's brush with something in themselves that sparkled dazzlingly - and we all saw it, recognized it, prized it, wanted more and more of it. It, babies, is what I offer and what schools don't so much want anymore as it distracts from writers workshop which works so wondrously well with writer testing within the comfortingly uniformly shaped grid of lockstep expectation and realization and I am being unfair here and mean and am guilty of oversimplification but mostly I am bruised and sad and disappointed and not so very driven to fight anyone. we watch as our country, pawn of commerce, descends to third world status, the rich unimaginably towering over the rest of us who toil in shadow and live those lives of quiet desperation while infrastructure collapses and so many toto's tug at the curtain we ignore them and lie under our thinning blankets and mutter our impotent rage into pillows crowded with kapok and dustmites. Can we be stirred by language like Melville's? Bishop's? I say yes, but cautiously. I can be, am stirred by stories, by poems, and believe as my necklace says that reading and writing can save your life, also that reading and writing can be a life. I believe these things even as I feel sad this is not what schools want me to deliver. It's all deliverables, baby.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

13x13, Day 4

grass, come, night, could, bring, shine, every, grow, more, little, good, hope, child

Grass close the stars we
come away from captivity into
night to view, so dark Galileo
could feel at home
bring that crude telescope and
shine wisdom down the future so
every one of us would
grow minds
more free from commandments with
little to do with life, universal
good too vast to grasp in books in hand like
hope in the fist of a

Friday, September 14, 2007

13x13, Day 3

like, cold, how, bird, why, with, time, like, give, blue, dark, that, gray

Like you, I lack life force on

cold mornings, no socks.

How do cougar, salmon,

bird wake with verve?




like us they'll

give way in


dark that fades



onward and upward into day we scrabble.

"Are good writers good at Scrabble?" an eighth grade boy wanted to know on my first day at St. Joe's.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

13X13, Day 2

The Magnetic Poetry word block is 13 words down by 13 words across. Today's list:

our, out, use, you, live, she, are, has, day, this, rain full, ask

Our father who, but listen, there are chickens
out there, across the city alley, and we
use their eggs just like
you who
live in rural places or
she who sells them in a far country where they
are starving, you know, them, and no one
has new anything but all the time each
day to starve never think
this is the first day of your but
rain will fall again and
full the earth might offer what we
watercolor by Sarah Sutro

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poem from

First Column, Magnetic Poetry block from 07 calendar given to me by teacher friend:

love, keep, year, must, easy, after, hard, work, look, sing, melt, man, turn

Art by Don Fels

SAM Gallery Artists on Place, Artist Reception Thursday Sept. 13, 5-7 pm

Love thy neighbor as thy self cannot
keep youth in thrall, as year after
year those happy times ago when
must ran higgly piggly with shall as
easy as milk and mama as salmon
after milt when the world pulsed
hard with crisp apples, a
work in upward progress. We
look now to nostalgia, wanting to
sing for once was. As ice floes
melt we buy away our guilt,
man we bray to muted sky,
turn another sway around the sun.
-Laura Gamache

Rebecca Loudon, Peter Pereira and Jared Leising will be reading at Elliot Bay Bookstore on Friday (THIS Friday, Sept. 14). Read this blurb and GOOOOOOOO! :

Tonight we feature what should be an engaging trio of poets, both established and emerging, creators of some of the better work coming out of this corner of the country. Physician and poet Peter Pereira, founding editor of Floating Bridge Press, will read from his newest collection, What's Written on the Body (Copper Canyon Press). Joining him is Rebecca Loudon, here with two new books, Radish King (Ravenna Press) and Navigate, Amelia Earhart's Letters Home (No Tell Books). Also on tap here is Jared Leising, who teaches English at Cascadia Community College, volunteers for 826 Seattle, and has a chapbook out, The Widows and Orphans of Winesburg, Ohio (Pudding House Publications).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I said I never would again, but I'm teaching short story writing to 8th graders, starting today. After rereading last year's batch, so the parent volunteer designer would complete the book, which he had refused to do due to the awful proofreading, I experienced the truly awful writing my work had not managed to pierce the void of. Perhaps that was a structurally sound sentence. If so, it had ever so much more going for it than the fiction produced by my three classes last year. The constant running through the work was that if I emphasized a don't, as in "be sure not to have your characters engage in an entire conversation, as it's boring," the kids were sure to write



"how are you?"

"fine. You?"

"not bad."

"well, see ya."

"see ya."

I talked a lot about varying sentences, about the power the writer has to control how he/she says things. I got:

"She started opening her birthday present and she smiled at her parents and they had given her what she wanted and she knew it and she couldn't wait to tell her best friend Anne who always got what she wanted and her friend Bob, who she liked but not like that because he wasn't that cute but who was always there for her."

Sentence shortened because reality is always impossible to believe.

This year it is my intention to light fires under their little creative buzzing brains and turn them beyond simmer. I don't have an idea yet how I will accomplish this, but I have until 11:40 this morning to get the cooking pot hammered together.

I am structuring this year to teach one group at a time, never to overlap, even if this means turning down gigs and making less money. I am hoping Artist Trust and WSAC will help me stick with my resolve by giving me a fellowship. I did apply for the fellowship; this is not solely wishful thinking. The idea is that I will be able to concentrate on the kids I am working with in a fuller way, and that they will feel my presence and trust me as their writer-catylist and unleash their hidden genius or anyway abilities to assimilate and copy models which will magically appear in their little hands because I will have, by 11:40 this morning, arranged for this alchemy to happen by providing irresistable models of compelling fiction and a surefire, fool proof, infallible, brilliantly sequenced stairway to short story construction which will be spontaneous, zany and infinitely surprising and delightful. Amen. Especially for the teacher and me to read once the gems have been cut or excuse me to return to our earlier metaphor the souflees and stews have been concocted by each stunningly original and awake young story crafter.

What I also want to do this year is to go away and write elsewhere on multiple occasions. I currently have designs on the Whitely Center at Friday Harbor, Centrum and Hedgebrook. Perhaps I will leave this morning at 11:40.