Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paul Klee "Mask of Fear"

well, it doesn't come in on little cat feet does it?
Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft 9/30/08, First Go
When even peacocks dress in drab
come in from damp
office days in a daze no craze for debs
to don what they do not have. Aloe,
as they say on phones in India. Ill
winds blow or was that trickle down?
Nero never learned to fiddle, Rome
burned. Ideas too and passions, our
urge to act up or whine like nine
year olds when you don't send me
where we wanted to go in our Volvos.
Oh we're drab enough now that hope
has fallen in the dunning ditch and
which of us takes the blame? Have
we grown this tame, heads hung low
and laughing all at once as though
the curtain doesn't billow for me
and you. Too. Rub our heads for luck
till we go bald. Trim our sails
for diapers. Should have kept the van
fantan man. TV shows for true
but we are here or were and near
to seeing or we will before we set.
And yet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Rising Sun" Paul Klee

Sun rise isn't sunrise but who's quibbling
I nibble life's dry crackers at the edges
and leave the brie to ooze across the plate
as shadows lengthen, mountains loom,
a man imitates Bud Lightyear across
the English Channel and seven hundred
billion is all we need to save us all.
Welcome Fall.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Portrait of an Artist by Paul Klee

A Coney Island of the Mind
Poem 15
Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of day
performing entrechats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence
-Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Klee and Ferlinghetti together, this makes me happy!
Last night a shot in the arm to innoculate me against my dis-ease
with my own poetry. Thank you Rebecca, Beth, Martha, Pat, Kelly.
It is so easy to get lost and give up. Nothing like Anisakis worms
to perk a girl back up. I don't want to die anymore. I acknowledge
my slow fevered grinding, taunt night and star-shove my head through.
Thank you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paul Klee, Battle Scene from the Comic Fantastic Opera "The Seafarer" 1923

From the Comic Operatic Fantasy The Seafarer

It beguiles--
This little Odyssey
In pink and lavender
Over a surface of gently-
Graded turquoise tiles
That represent a sea
With chequered waves and gaily
Bear up the seafarer,
Gaily, gaily,
In his pink plume and armor.

A lantern-frail
Gondola of paper
Ferries the fishpond Sindbad
Who poises his pastel spear
Toward three pinky-purple
Monsters which uprear
Off the ocean-floor
With fanged and dreadful head.
Beware, beware
The whale, the shark, the squid.

But fins and scales
Of each scrolled sea-beast
Troll no slime, no weed.
They are polished for the joust,
They gleam like easter eggshells,
Rose and amethyst.
Ahab, fulfill your boast:
Bring home each storied head.
One thrust, one thrust,
One thrust: and they are sped.

So fables go.
And so all children sing
Their bathtub battles deep,
Hazardous and long,
But oh, sage grownups know
Sea-dragon for sofa, fang
For pasteboard, and siren-song
For fever in a sleep.
Laughing, laughing
Of graybeards wakes us up.

-Sylvia Plath (1958)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Mariners won last night, 9 to 6. It was a good game, runs from both teams, fielding from both teams, minor errors either side. The Mariners hit the ball, got on base, loaded the bases. Their pitchers, even J.J., threw men out, swinging and looking too. It was cold, but not cold enough for the blanket we had brought. We ate Thai Ginger curry and phad thai and drank beer with lime wedges in plastic glasses. We shelled pistachios and plunked them into Cracker Jacks, and discovered the pistachios had been spicy brined only after we had nestled them among the caramelled corn with the pencil topper that is always the Cracker Jacks prize in recent memory. There were no train horns until the 6th inning. The sixth and seventh innings were the best for Mariners' fans, with the team loading bases and scoring seven points over the two innings. Shawna, Jim and I threw arms around each other, stood, swayed and sang "Take me out to the ball game" for the seventh inning stretch. The team has lost 99 games this season, and this might have been the headline game, but instead the Angels and Mariners played baseball under a cloudy sky that threatened but did not deliver rain.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Insula Dulcamara (1938)

I insulate myself from my inner beast --
blur my vision, hear the Muzak, practice scat.
You sing me Cain and what he did to Abel
as if we never had a dealing with Jack Welch.
I remember Carolyn and her mother Cora
Dore and throw them in my brain in front of Tito
but what do I know, I hear the crowd aroar
there's more to cooking geese than ovens.
Do we remember what we must not do unto
the meek? You tell me I am ... breaking up.
Cats extend their knives, the birds flock, etc.
USA Today has no pie chart for this, no arc
that makes any, ...can you hear me now?
I sing I love technology, loud and yet again
while nonsense calls me like a loving Dada.
Ostriches and chickens offer eggs, in coop
or praire what they give are ova over arias
unt uber allas what do we know but Mt. Etna
every one Vesuvial, every Dick and hairy Tom.
Beauty was a wall flower, her petals open
bruised and underused, our disapproval tacit
a tisket a tasket, you say, ...I didn't catch that.
The lights are bright at MSN and AOL
and do not make them diamonds, mhyrr, ore,
yet all you say to me ..., I'll try redialing.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I made the mistake of looking at the site master - I love to look at the world map and see where people live who visit my site. I made the mistake (I, I, I, think Emma Thompson in Angels in America,) of looking at "details" and discovered that most people who come to the site leave within one second. I am not apparently an enormous hit with the googlers, who probably find me via the crossword puzzle link and are puzzled in a not-fun manner. Clicking "ranking" and expecting it to give me my rank among blogspot blogs (300 millionth maybe, so I could lord it over the person ranked 300 million and one,) I discovered that 49 people (highest number) came to my site looking for Paul Klee, who I did write about one day, and whose paintings I admire along with them. I think I will shamelessly use Paul Klee painting titles as my blog titles from now on. But first, off to Tacoma in my yellow Beetle with its brand new Les Schwab tires (with no siping,) so we will not slip off the road surface due to bald bald bald tires. No, we will grip the slip slidey oily rainy freeway all gleeful for art and openings and Don's first catalog, which I will buy tonight.
It's raining and just over 50 degrees farenheit but I've taken off my jeans and warm boots and put on my salwar kamez to go to my friend Don's opening at the Tacoma Art Museum tonight.

The last time I wore this outfit was to feed Indian food to my daughter and her husband this spring. My daughter wore her salwar kamez too, Jim wore his long blue kamez and Todd wore the caftan a friend brought back from Morocco. Will I look ridiculous tonight? Who cares! People wear all kinds of weird outfits to art events, and this is designed to be incredibly staid (and, being silk, a tad hot in southern India.) The event on the other hand will not be staid. It will be fun, and involve a spice tasting and some sort of dancing I have forgotten because I haven't looked at the invitation for a couple of days.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So if you're reading this and will be at the orientation this afternoon, no surprises for you, so stop reading now if that's the case. You know who you are.

I've changed my title to Reciprocal Syllabus Development, though I just typed "Strategies" rather than development, so perhaps that's what I mean.

I'm thinking about my philosophical stance, my reason for going into the classroom. Is it to "Teach poetry" - no. Lots of kids slumber through school, and how do you learn anything this way - sleep learning with the book under the pillow in "The Shaggy Dog" notwithstanding - ! I think lots of teachers try to work around the banking model of education, the filling the vessels angle, that one way top down flow that prepares kids for assembly line work by treating them as objects on an assembly line. BUT, an artist enters the classroom with no WASL scores hanging over her head and a passion for her art. One teacher I work with says "I can't be passionate about one thing, what a middle school teacher has to be is a good manager." Enter the artist. But what do you believe about the kids you will build a writing community with (or fail to)? Will you teach them to make haiku or pantoums? What underlies this teaching? Why would they want to learn it? I believe that most if not all kids have inner lives they can give voice to if we listen, offer tools, and keep listening as they use the tools. But they won't use the tools if they don't care, not really use them if their motivation is points, is extra credit, is no recess if they don't buckle down. I approach my students as a fellow traveler, bungler, failer, attempter, questioner. I offer small gestures. If they respond to a gesture in one way, I will go that way, if not, I'll offer another small gesture. Perhaps the gestures get larger and more complex. Even if the gestures are tentative, I'm asking the kids to risk, to try to do something I haven't exactly defined because I want them to do something never done before, how can it have a definition? I believe that each person is unique in the history of the universe and that the more closely a person describes what she sees the more unlike anyone else her speech will be. This is why cliche is a problem - you sound like everyone else using a cliche, hiding your uniqueness behind the bland generality. What would you say if you said exactly what you mean? I hope I help at least some students try to find out. It is exciting to say something you didn't know you could say, find out something you think through writing it. I believe in the writing brain, in the fingers as savants. I believe with Brenda Ueland that "everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say."

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft, 9/18

I didn't ask for your curriculum vita, pass the pita
out like a lion but don't imagine I'm in like a lamb
don't count your fingers before you go to Tel Aviv
aswim, on a train, by bus and checkpoint car, alar
but someone always catches someone in the act
even fellows we know like so many Valentinos
in sheety splendor running sheeply cross the lea
like you and me they hunger past dense entree
we're grown for greed always certain we are needy
wading with our microwaves and Dells. Even so
we know we get our just desserts from Vixen,
Comet, Cupid all the rest for all we give and gave,
glory moments on TV on field, on clay, on mat.
Every Tom and Dick responds to bugle, RCMP
Do Right. Each has born heat from Wolf, the Aga,
done some unsung deed and toasted self with ale
oh heroes pale before our unknown Bobs and Iras
though none espy our capes our heroics solo.
You walked into this store for milk and gum,
when by the cheeses you grow larger than your past.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

As I start my day, begin to foment my tiny daily resolutions if not revolutions, if not responsible restitutions and etc., I think about what the hickety hell I do in the classroom. What keeps me going back? Keeps me from repeating myself? It's who's there, who might be there, who might speak, might say or write something surprising to wake me up. Structure and surprise? What is art? What is teaching? Who teaches? Who listens? Looks inward? Looks outside? RUNS?? I've said I'll run a session I've given the title to so I have no excuse for not knowing what I mean. But, I wonder what I mean, and if I can talk about "Organic Syllabus Development." Holy crickets. Do I mean look around the room for clues to how the class runs and run another way? Do I mean listen to the students? Teacher? Myself? I was thinking it was funny, OSD so like OCD and other educational/psychological TLA's, how meaningless in all their vaunted shorthand meaning. I have a habit of sidestepping deep crevasses in favor of muddying puddles that are easier to recover from. Walk towards the roar of the world the man said the other day on the radio, Michael Meade I mean. Oh, I like that as a mantra and stance, but do I do it? I'm talking about high minded classroom philosophical stance while meanwhile going into school today to repeat a lesson I've taught a dozen times before. Do I let myself off the hook by saying but I will pay attention to what the kids say and write? Is this an easy A? I am shamelessly, have always been a good student, someone who picks up on what the situation calls for and provides it. Is that even true? Am I too hard on myself? I am tired and discouraged and not so jazzed even with this amazing weather.

This weekend, Jim and I drove onto (on to? to? on?) the Edmonds ferry to Kingston, crossed the Hood Canal Bridge and drove to Port Townsend, where we ate dinner at Silver Water Cafe and stayed at the Water Street Hotel with a bathroom down the hall. We ordered the appetizer with chantrell mushrooms, figs, goat cheese and bacon blanket on a skewer. From Port Townsend, we drove to Sequim for breakfast at Gwennie's Cafe. We didn't intend to go to Gwennie's, just to breakfast. Sun everywhere. Warm. September. Our waiter was mid-sixties, male and gay. My father says he has/I have relatives in Sequim. I don't even know what their last name would be, though maybe Peak, since my Dad's mom's maiden name was Peak. Brownie Ethel Peak. Huh. And my dad and aunt look Makah. Huh. He says he's always suspected he's part Mongolian. Huh.

I love car riding! I will miss petroleum, though I would never chant "drill, baby, drill". We drove up to Hurricane Ridge in the clear morning air. CLEAR and bright at the lodge and meeting place for a walking tour of the meadow which we took with our young volunteer ranger, Joanna. We each got a card with an animal on it. Our mission was to think about what that animal would find to eat on our walk. I had a black bear and Jim had a coyote, a very handsome upstanding one. I got a little huffy when our guide, who is from Tennessee, presumed to tell us about my homeland. I may become crotchety as an old woman. Stay tuned. My mother now sounds like an old woman on the phone. She's entitled, at 83. The book I'm reading, The Echo Maker, has a fellow of 55 in it who the author, Richard Powers, an otherwise brilliant man and writer, keeps referring to as old, as in quite preoccupied with his end times, as in withered and finished, and what I want to say is, in what universe?!?!?! I am 56, my still-functional hackles up and pointy. But back to Hurricane Ridge, where the view included no fog or lack of visibility whatsoever, a day in a hundred, two hundred, three hundred? Not even the tiniest bit filmy our view. Wow! I pointed out to a couple older than I am something Joanna, not being a native, had missed. A way to tell hemlock from fir is to check for the bent over top. That calmed me down. Really, I wasn't overtly a horrible territorial tourist, just in my big fat head. We drove to Lake Crescent, to Log Cabin Resort, where we spent a night on our honeymoon, and where my family vacationed many times when I was a child. The magic had faded. The counterman at the lodge ignored us. Perhaps he was taking drugs or drinking. Perhaps he was about to go off duty. A woman came into the space as we were leaving, and went behind the counter. I felt invisible or unwanted. Log Cabin Resort used to be privately owned but is now part of the National Park concession. It seems to have conceded and shrunk. It doesn't look in very good repair. Lake Crescent continues beautiful, mysterious and deep. The mountains loom, covered with vegetation. Log Cabin Resort's tacky gift shop had zorries with huge fake jewels carelessly pasted on and two four foot plastic tubes filled with s'more makings, including melted masses of chocolate that once were sectioned chocolatey bars, not Hershey. We took our photos in front of the cabin we slept in 32 years ago, one at a time since the iPhone doesn't have the self timer feature, and drove out of there to find Lake Crescent Lodge on the other side. Lake Crescent Lodge was in much better repair and felt far more welcoming. We sat in Adirondack chairs on the beach. Log Cabin Resort used to have Adirondack chairs on the porches of its cabins, so I spent a moment checking to see if these were stolen. We split an order of fish and chips, which were huge and good. The porches of these cabins had rockers on them. Not those big Kennedy rockers, but little, straight ones. We went on, to Kalaloch. Fog began to filter through the trees as we approached the ocean, and we were happy to see it after so much disorienting sun on the Olympic Peninsula. Kalaloch was booked. Solid. They called ahead to Lake Quinault Lodge "our sister resort" but it too was booked. We drove there anyway, with two hotel names written on notepaper in my fist. There was a cancellation at Lake Quinault Lodge, and we got a room. We sat in Adirondack chairs on the lawn that slopes down to the lake shore with a glass of wine (me) and a glass of beer (Jim). The Adirondacks are far from here, and they were far from McMinnville, Oregon, where my great grandfather made at least two Adirondacks chairs for the family to sit on. The next morning, we rented a canoe for an hour and paddled the glassy west and south perimeter of Lake Quinault.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Word Scrimmage Word Poem Draft (oh how the mighty have fallen)

Spray Shout! across the micropile bath towels
keeper of the keys in the laundry room because
you want to be, your ankle throbbing, a sprain
that eases as the stains do, nice and evenly
as your temperment you share with your
placid father, the one you threw the forks at
trying to rile him as your mother taught you.


Did that need an amen? ahem, to continue:

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle 9/12 Poem Draft

Today in Sports

Go panthers! devilrays! cowbows! hawks!
swell in your padded suits until you ebb
inevitable as all that flows. You must avail
yourself of everything you can, yes sir,
for unto you will come the day when yea
you walk through the valley, no Delta
to carry you across and safe. No Clooney
with tongue in cheek could save Lenore,
your only hope for praise to save
your name for Google search. No Tao
you walk will lead you from an Usher.
Do it now for one day what you lack
trumps what it doesn't take swami
to remind you will ensue and freeze
what's left. Oh you can build a baffle,
but we all lose the raffle, aren't risen.
We're flat crackers, bulger wafers
and even wide receivers get stomped
as if I know a football thing dear ref.
So as you trade your Prius for Mini
and hang your bike in your garage
I'll take your photo like George Eastman,
stay at the Heathman, but we're timed
and primed to go not come for as we are
will alter crack and dribble like an egg
in cardboard cradle, wear like agate,
slink through dumpsters like the rats
we mostly are as sad as Norma Rae
though once again the Tour de France has Lance.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sheffer Crossword Poem Draft 9/11

In Fall when school work adds
its meetings and traffic jams
I miss Moses hefting slabs,
Della Street, Paul and Perry,
rocking hammocks, amber ale.
In other days we'd dance hula,
chant bula bula, driver's seat
the only clear place in the car.
Once more into what's akin
to give it up to disembark.
But hark, we praise valets
in black with ties and vests
to stick an elbow in or bow.
Some launch the boat, oars
out, while on the ottomans
lie those on the road to Rio.
Once there were amps
where now the hunting owl
drops talons and besets
living things with too much
self esteem to cower. I teach
in one more hour. Would
you leave me for Oahu?
More beaches for more tar!
Squirrel in dogwood minus ego
is not like we are drawn to neon
I would go on another eon
but you're restless in your pew.


ok, not a poem draft, but a linkage of words brought on by across words from today's crossword. My daughter's birthday today. YAY! Happy birthday Julia!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seattle Public Toilets on the Move!

African Queen

a couple of scrawny cast-aways
but I said Katherine Hepburn and
Humphrey Bogart and you read their
names in lights all bright and gone.
Their teeth huge white in those soiled
faces, the one driven mad by insects
the other by leeches with those clean
underbreeches weeks gone in East
Africa fighting their private war
and winning in the end. Oh my friends,
how happy this morality tale makes
me, so comforting this end.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Shefer Crossword 9/8 poem draft

Oh give me a poem where the buffalo roam
and don't stand by their meat for sale sign.
I sing of this place where the buffalo pace
though Durangos are clouding our days
Home, home in the dome
the kingdome that's blown all away...

I've lost my nerve. failure of verve. oy.

Another blue blue day with deep pigment green
warning us it won't be long till November darkens
our skylights with leaves large as eviction notices.

another false start. faint heart.

From the groaning table fall more crumbs
and the bums have chosen Sarah Palin
to suck out all the oil. They think they foil
our democratic urges I'm already singing
dirges to an early seen awakening.

alak aday our hope has passed away.

Ahoy! I see the ship Euphoria
do you spy it too? are you my mate?
or do you love to hate never abate
in greed instead of seeing need
succubus spouting ugly screeds.

Monday, September 08, 2008

It's room temperature around here, sky of blue, trees that deep almost too green September green. I received another rejection today, by email. So ephemeral, email, I can almost believe I dreamed it, like the last one, which was from Bat City Review. Oh, they say, we received so many many poems from so very many earnest diligent talented (more talented than YOU) poets working in far more interesting and involving ways, and etc.

I'm a tad discouraged about my poetry writing career. I think this is slightly funny, given that I will be going on a writing/teaching retreat for nine weeks this fall. I like to totally blow myself out of the confidence water so nobody will think I have a swelled head. You can tell where this is going so I will stop.

Sheffer Crossword Puzzle 9/5/08, a poem draft

At the antique/junktique mall I bought a short pew
with gum varnished tight to its underside, the sum
of my religious observance. Sitting there, alas alack
does not transport nor titillate my tongue. Like beef
I lack a home in Jesus here in the hallway, the urn
with my dog's remains beside me no Ouija accessory.

The antique/junktique mall moved farther out
soon after I moved farther into town. I wanted from
it what I never discovered though I uncovered
Franciscanware in bisque and taupish pink and blue
and bought it wouldn't you? and a pitcher stamped
with Shirley Temple's face. I liked that place. I liked

the junk that made me sneeze, dust furze on plates.
Logic asked for none of this accumulation, nobody
would make a million dollars from this place. The
town moved into wealth and million dollar condos,
we moved away. Crystal amber glistens on the gum
I never chewed. Was this about religion?

Friday, September 05, 2008

I've got my Ughs on, the ones I bought for January in St. Petersburg Russia. My feet are still freezing, the sky glows gray, it doesn't seem like it's going to hit any eighty degrees today. I'm preparing to go south to Oregon to reach high school kids with poetry, change their lives with poetry, fire them up, wake them up with poetry, but my feet are cold and I have to go to the bathroom. People I do not know have been living in my house for weeks, several groups of them. What do I think about this? I feel invaded, but squelch that since there is money in it, since my husband has relaxed into thinking about what he might like to do instead of what he must to keep us afloat, working a job he's grown to hate. I just read on the heel of my lambswool boot that I'm wearing Uggs. I prefer Ughs since that's how I feel about cold feet. I have such cold feet.

Last night my friend told me about getting radioactive iodine treatment for her thyroid cancer. She always used to be cold - wore her wool coat in restaurants in summer. After the 18 hours she spent in isolation in a room where everything was covered in paper so she wouldn't irradiate it, where another woman stood six feet away and pointed a geiger counter at her, where she sat behind the yellow danger! radiation! tape, she isn't cold anymore. She wanders her living room on cool days in a tank top and shorts.

Here are my last five poetry postcards for the August Postcard Poetry Fest:

I remember whe I wanted
to read every book in the school library
I remember I couldn't carry ten books myself
I remember I wanted to eat a Woodland Park
Zoo at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor - thirty
scoops of every ice cream flavor drizzled
with hot fudge, caramel and
marshmalow cream
I remember when I believed my desires
fired the whole world.


I have seen the Paris scene
at night, all those white lights,
driving where revolutionaries
and the cast of Les Mis piled
tables and barstools in the streets
burning down the unworkable
to find a path to the new
before Claudia fronted Vanity Fair
before the twenty-first century,
before we thought
it meant progress to be self aware.


I am leading a quiet life
in my place every day
waiting for inspiration
waiting for Godot
waiting for the mail
and all that ails us
makes us wail to be gone
I am leading myself into
temptation to forget my own
legs, my own heart, my own
miraculous ability to speak.


I tried to pay attention
watch the Republican Convention
listen to Sarah Palen speak.
I wanted to know who she was
and if anybody would be fooled -
believe the jive live at five.
Walk, someone told me, into
the roar of the world. The crowd
roared, lifting patriotic balloons,
the old man still a POW
roaring now in my ears
all these long long years.


Not a single one among us
knows what this is about -
we tell our own stories
try to plot what comes next
read the stars and name them
for our sons and daughters
point our boats into current
faces squinted with sun
try with all our force
not to break sweat and run.


Farewell August
Hello back to school.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

As sun dims and shimmers, razors
miss and blood stains trouble others too.
You grimace from cold or memory, a-okay
from behind the boat, another agony
hushed in wake. We know emergency
room, vet, Benadryl, bandaids, litany
of cures, sign of the cross. Remember
when nobody's child took meds?
We down brownies, empty wine bottles,
rue the cut that will not close, seek grace
in a badminton swing, floaties on the lake.