Monday, November 24, 2008

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft 11/24/08

Lassitude palls along the loch
dense and airless as fog truck DDT
chilled lungs, sleeve from a slung on robe

Friday, November 14, 2008

What the heck is sangfroide? It came to me on my walk the other day, I wrote it down in my little notebook.

"self-possession or imperturbability especially under strain" says Miriam Webster online, with "equanimity" as synonym.

I could write an essay on my need for that quality, especially 6th period with the new feral ninth graders. But I promised I wouldn't write about my teaching residency on this website since kids might google me and find it and hear and mess with me because of what I say here.

I have pink eye! Conjunctivitis! Wow! It sounds pretty but is goopy and droopy in actuality. I look my age! My left eye nearly smeared shut with goo yesterday when I drove directly from school to a free clinic in Klamath Falls 30 miles away (the clinic is on the other side of town - if it had been by the library it would have been a scant 26 miles away.) I drove directly into the sun for part of the trip, mainly the part where I was driving along Main Street looking for the clinic and barely making out the traffic signal lights for glare and eye-squinting. At the Fred Meyer to get my prescription filled the pharmacy guys kept paging me back to the counter. My insurance company claims the prescription benefit ran out in March. We didn't have this coverage until March. I paid and took the receipt, wanting to get the first two drops of magic elixer into my eye with no further to-do. Since I am here in Chiloquin with no family or intimates from home, I entered the house and regressed to six years old. I wanted cinnamon toast and old movies on TV. I made myself salmon from the Fred Meyer and a cheddar quesadilla and opened the new bottle of Australian Malbec, which was the first bottle of decent red wine I've purchased since coming here. Anything on the satellite TV that looked good was something my satellite subscription doesn't cover. My (inherited, purchased by my landlord and actually a gift not a right) satellite coverage covers only heavily advertising-laden or Christ-filled or infomercial fare. I pressed one channel that said "Fabulous Boot" thinking it might be a movie, perhaps a sequel to Das Boot? and a woman's voice accompanied by a hand fondling a fur-lined shortie boot came into view. The boot was ugly and in an ugly shade of anemic taupe or I might have continued watching.

The light dims here in the community center - the curator has gone home and locked the doors, so I am deliciously by myself in the space, which never happens so that I am loathe to leave as the protagonist in The Piano Tuner might be wont to remark. Really, I am more 19th century than 21st except for the under and outerwear.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I love that Brok O Bama!
"To the Best of Our Knowledge" on my transistor radio
Patricia Smith, whose Blood Dazzler is on the National
Book Award short list, Jay Parini who quoted Auden
like mad, and Australian poet, Les Murray, fathered by
a man with "an addiction to grief," who said, "I abhor
anything that demands human sacrifice." Last night,
in Chiloquin, Oregon, where we do, yes we do, celebrate
culture and poetry. Jay Parini, a poet, has written a
book called Why Poetry Matters and reminded me how
it does. Patricia Smith led with a poem about a girl
whose mother was known as a drug addict who asked
her to help her write a poem about her mother - dead -
that celebrated the person who sang while braiding
the girl's hair. The question Patricia Smith asked those
Miami-Dade County kids, was, who knows someone
who is dead. "I do," forty hands shot up, "I know a
dead person." Parents dead of AIDS and friends gone
to violence, and six year olds in need of voices, and
she realized that writing poetry is like having a second
throat, and that we poets, climbing to the lectern,
composing our poems, wield a very real power.

Friday, November 07, 2008

This is just to say
Barack Obama
has taken
the presidency
for the people
of the United States
as far as I
can see
and I
we're up
for doing
the work.



I am the woman behind you in the check-out line
who leans in intimately, whispers, "my son is
dying." You're next. The other lines is longer.
You have to get home befor eyour kids do, your
rollicking, exhausting, robust, healthy daughter
and son. You look away, a social cue I do not
read. "The cancer," I tell you, "is eating his
parietal lobe." "Next!" the clerk says. You have
piled your canned goods atop the whole wheat
bread and your fingers fumble for the keypad
pen. My poptarts, HoHo's and M&M's topple
forward as the clerk lifts the divider with
cigarette ads on its faces. You pass through
the automatic door, see me through glass,
clerk's hand clamped in mine, my mouth moving.
I do not have a son.

Should that last sentence be IN the poem?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Presidential Election Day and I woke up to snow
transforming everything, which I take as talisman,
as omen, as foreteller: the transition is upon us -
Obama will be the next president of the United States,
changing the American narrative forever. AMEN.

I am wearing red, white and blue bracelets. I was
wearing my Hawaii sweater, but its wool and too
warm to teach in even on a snowy morning with
that special cranking radiator heat that plagues
our public schools. Yesterday I picked up on what
someone said, "The Short Bus", liked it - it seemed
appropriate for elementary school but the kids
laughed and turned their faces - turns out those
are the buses assigned for special ed - not here in
Chiloquin, but these guys watch TV, they know
the lingo I don't know. Here in Chiloquin it's hard
to get the news - on Sunday when I can get no
internet access I also cannot get the Oregonian,
let alone the New York Times. The Shell Station
has a placard in its window "The Oregonian on sale
here" but the truck doesn't come out on Sunday.
I read the Klamath Falls Herald and Snooze,
and have now fed most of it into the maw of my
wood stove. Let's pretend this is a poem since
I'm giving it a narrow margin. Oh I hope Obama
wins by a margin wider than we've seen in decades.
I want definitive, I want instant confirmation. Jim
said, "I have a meeting at 6pm, I'm afraid it'll all
be over before I get home." I envy his confidence.

And here's Walt Whitman, who as E. Ethelbert Miller
said on Jefferson Public Radio (NPR) to LeeAnn
Hanson on Sunday, "no matter how we see ourselves,
as red or blue states, Whitman saw us all as one."


I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on
the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon
intermission or at sundown,
the delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
the girl
sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to no one else.
The day what belongs to the day – at night the party of young fellows,
robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

-Walt Whitman

I hope to be singing tonight!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

At the counter in the library
a man says "I'm 79, guess I've
got another twenty years to go."
Coughs. He and the librarian
chat about cancer and dead kin.
The acoustics here are bright
and his voice bounces off
blonde bookshelves, reaches
me as though I were wearing
an ear trumpet. "It was '54,
'55, something like that," he
says, chuckles, blows his nose.
The kids along the wall get
to jawing, lined up
at the free public use computers.
"I could tell you a bunch
more stories," the man says,
the librarian says, "I bet."
A kid from one of the carrels
comments loudly. Someone
else turns up the sound on her
computer. A truck blats past.
The man hawks volubly, it
bounces between the science
books and the plays. A boy
pushes back his chair, it rasps
and his friend says, "lays an
egg," which is unrelated. "That
right?" says the libararian, and
"yaaah." "I thought that was
ridiculous," the man continues,
"You take care," the libarian says.
"I'm doing what I can," he says,
and then they get to repeating
goodbyes, he isn't leaving and
she isn't shelving books.


Saturday afternoon, November 1st at the Chiloquin Library.
Last night more trick or treaters than I've seen in five years
in Seattle. I went back out to the store to buy more candy,
bought the last two bags - a KitKat and a Baby Ruth. The
remains I brought with me - they're now in the libarian's
basket on the check-out counter. Last night I watched TV,
first time since I got here - Halloween and Jim called from
Shawna and Todd's - Todd had made Jim a Vampire Blood-
tini, and they were about to watch "Shawn of the Dead."
I have lots of remotes, but can't figure out how to play
a dvd. "The DaVinci Code" was on what turned out to be
a Christian focus channel - one ad was for a five day pray-
a-thon the station will be broadcasting next week, over-
lapping voting day and its aftermath. The ad breaks
were long and I ate a lot of mini KitKats and Baby Ruths,
not even tasting them - greedy, needy and insatiable.