Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft from Dec 28 on Dec 30 (New Year's Eve Eve)

If all the world's a cage let's all be pests
and he who's bitten is he who stops and sits.
Or maybe it's a farm and each of us an acre
or a fabric store - we're canvas cloth or satin
or a high school test and I am false and true.
Genesis supposes we were sculpted out of clay
though we may be notes or numbers on a scale
and what I've written no more mine than rote.
We are colors (don't be blind) and my tone
a sunny bronze, yolk yellow three minute eggs
a beggar's bowl, tap dancer's shoe, Zap
comics frame, Waldo but its you that's hid
or me. Or a jail cell in which we all atone
or senses - you be friction and I'll see.
If we're foodstuffs then Im instant cocoa mix
physics equations - I'm opposite your speed.
Goddesses straddle continents. Your Thor
grabs my hammer, boar chases colt
earth ablaze and bruised from our ideals
we'll sign any declaration you have wit
to set beneath our pens, so many
flapjacks so few short order cooks.
Your aura more satsuma than ugli fruit or lime
we detest time though not the tide, mere
meercats more our speed than lynx, akin
our feelings now to all that's gone before.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Daily Crossword Puzzle Draft for Christmas Eve Eve

As we get set to eat what's fare
we know what's fair, what isn't.
Taught as children not to stare
we don't know how to look. Oh Adam.
The homeless sweep the street
we hoard baubles, tell them shoo.
We don't know what to do, delete
our care, righteous as red states.
Hectored with hatreds we don't aim
but scatter-shoot axioms and err.

--

No nom de plume I give my name
though you pronounce it badly.
how many guineas for this ride?
Coal in socks but merry as Cole
wishes ask beggars to hop in
as once as often as if.

---

Old King Lear wasn't merry, leered
into the storm, sky gone crimson riot
Odysseus lashed to hear the siren
no Lord Byron, no date palm
but everyone so tan.

--

Depp vamping a Mad Hatter
Downey's Sherlock Holmes
Oh happy happy season.
REALLY REALLY FAST CROSSWORD PUZZLE POEM DRAFT FOR 12/16/09

you laugh but you could die amongst the suds
a fall a mop a mid night bozo
its often here on earth that we feel Orkan
who break and break even at our apex
no mystery we want to flee from here
try not to hear and be select
but death comes to us even as we yes
affirm our life force, slash the years
with exercise, no duck a l'orange.
With pluck we rise like Rosa
we're dropped to seats, no elite
for sythe. As god is my witness O'Hara
stamped her foot, but mazel tov
my dear for all we have we spend
and at the end there is no cache.

--

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14, 2009 Daily Crossword Puzzle Draft

As Disney taught, to right things you'll need a wand
to stave off women grown gargantuan and mean. Waive
your right to choose an ending without goo that's icky
Life is trickier than what we knew at nine, when aloe
was a tropical impossible to grow. Reciting Ogden
Nash was all the glamor I clamored for. Ah step
in it the shoe store's fluoroscope's no more no no
than m&m's. She's shrunken now my mom, stews
hot but vague. Remade histories fade to pretty
now I'm farther from seventh grade than seventy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for Tuesday, December 8 on Friday December 11
because I cannot complete Friday's puzzle. Okay? I just can't.

Seattle's famous blue sky is poised to sag
Columbia Tower shrouded in ceo motto
and cloud. Bon star on Macy's, new crop
of crap in windows ho ho about as pure
as valentine's guy all nudeness and arrow
sagas, epics, legends, myths all redo
colorized as high colonic (I overdo a tad.)
Ahem and god rest ye and pull me a slice
of mandarin, regard me from behind epee
whoopee our eyes all sugar plums we boast
and toast and roast turkey from the deli
krumkake, berlinerkranzer, deserts
taste who we are as we await the storm
reweave the passing year in print
hint only. Rules are rules and shhh
to all who break them. Holly teasets
like Venus on the tissue, holy drapes
under creche, French horn for carol
peace prize are we 1984 at war?
Feast time baby bathed in tiny lights
is it alright? we search our faces
this Claus who may be saint or ogre
we knew in October we couldn't pare
ourselves away. God rest ye merry
dears, let nothing ye dismay.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft, 12/7/09

Is your time here more than zigs and zags?
Tell me the chance of yes is more than slim
biding awee in our plush appointed Alamo
you nod your head, you say I see
hey,who's Goliath and who's David?
who's on first, who's on the Nina?
My friend hates "tissue" I hate "cram"
we both dig Sam I Am, so score.
Snore until she leaves, cat burglar
we're all a flock of stinking ewes
have paid our dues unsheathed epees
whose dullness means we don't need EMT's
all that glitters is not the palest
put on more clothes and get less coverage
my overage I'll divy out in lira
or krona if you think they're nicer.
oh my ram my drunken Aries
we have been smitten, bitten, lost
wear shorter skirts as evenings lengthen
as if to strengthen what? Were you raised
like mammals or like roe?
to know the tactics of talc
or metallic-tasting cage?
I panic beneath rabbit ears
test pattern Indian headdress array
to start the day and then we iron
burn away whorls, default on the lease
all that glitters? Remember, its mine
is there time to buy more gear?
All that glitters? My dear it fades
as I'm the seer swirling in this eddy.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Rejected by Nimrod - what a passel of nimrods!
one rejection means send out two more submissions
my poetry mathematics.

One of my favorite students at the far south school has been ejected for lack of performance.
How much of this is racism? How much of this is his fault? How many kids wander away down the road into oblivion, their absense unrepented? Unatoned for? This is a bright kid,
hear the echoes, a bright kid, a promising kid, a mind a heart a spirit meant to fight for.
We should all be fighting to keep these kids' heads above water.
We should be asking questions like why do tribal kids duck heads and drift out of high school before graduating? It is not enough to send them off to the "alternative high school" which I know as a circle of overweight native kids smoking cigarettes by the streetlight in the gravelly area between the community center and maq laq's center. They look depressed and sidelined. They don't look well served or happy or functional or loved. Most of all they look dejected and unloved and like they know they are beside the point. How do you keep on when you are seventeen years old and others have concluded you are beside the point? Wouldn't you feel like the used snow shovelled to the side of the roadway? Wouldn't you feel like playing video games all night is about all you're good for? If you write a story where a teacher kicks you out of class for speaking in your native language that nobody on the planet is fluent in anymore and your teacher calls it racist where do you go? If you are a kid of color and you write about race, are you a racist if your white teacher thinks so? Are you just being provocative? Are you trying to understand something? Are you trying to find a place in the world for you with your heritage and your love of the land and hunger for connection with thirteen thousand years of family in one place and a twenty first century fractured life? Now that your grandfather is dead, is it your job to embrace and extend his connection to your ancestors or what is your job? Who has use for you? Who are you connected to now?

Friday, December 04, 2009

we live by what we're dealt
like smelt we shimmer, flim flam
sharp as clove-poked hams
imagine mental prowess slaves to urge
and smells, fringed as Dale Evans
achante we say as if we'd gone to Eton
we're not beaten beneath eagle nest
or snake to send us packing
we've endured our minds if not the lash
we never spit at wine tastings, totter
on Monolos, green and greasy as Rudyard
warned us elephant children. Alas,
and we stare upward on slim
chance planes have answered in the sky.


____

so anyways, does anybody have a clue why or how a site gets tons of traffic? How is it mine has increased exponentially when I've done the same or less than usual?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem 12/3/09

You on your bajaj chetak me on my vespa
we'll make it to vespers or leave the road aloft
alone and all that pap, a couple of alien
visitors here where masks mask the ill
and nobody sees things sunny side up.
Where are the rickshaw taxis of elsewhere?
We watch each other like we're at the zoo,
drink our triple shots, despair of Eden
in our time or when the civilized gazed
at pepper, cinnamon, cashews and sesame
stole them with their estimable hautier
like Elgin slipped the marble in his ship
the rest of us too mild mannered
to stop the thief. We thought him chief
and others too, who landed here and Eire.
Let's zip away I'd rather that than rile
myself with righteousness, Raymond Burr
bravado slaked with quinine, gin and lime.
A fine time to bring in Mr. Aesop
with the ants, brer anybody, a spool
of thread, a tailor, a lady or big cat.
Ah literature! All life on flat and due to
reasoning not mammal grunts and baas.
Stay close, the curves can kill you cara,
but so can standing still.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

All is not lost, I floss.
for every sailor, there's ahoy
for every drunk a tap,
attendant rushing down your aisle
and all the world to pave.
Behave. Enthuse at sunrise hues
offer your brain to let.
The future before you lies
your senses an idea
in a snow flurry,
a box of cheddar nips,
an iron-on patch, so easy
for Leonardo. Oh gosh
your gums sadden
thin men of Haddam, their furs
blurry, a plane lift from luau,
another save-the-date.
She who cracks eggs stirs,
the baby in a jumparoo or arms
that made the men the sires.
All play for pay in far Ohio
your diamonds gone to paste
that legendary wealth a myth
and how we miss the dodo
cheering for the Rams.
Dynamite the dams, reopen
flow for all that can endure
the salmon and the soul
palms and people on a roof.
When breathing's too much bother
lie down in winter rain as if
to float, open coat a bat,
head a golf ball core or piece
of lint, a dust moat on a sill.
And still salvation's in the lore
or so we wish as we enroll
in MFA's, read Cather in the rye
staccato hot to sear
lava through all that's stony.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy my birthday to all!


Eat more yams, fewer marshmallows
hugs to all your folks and fellows


When I was four, my mother hugely pregnant with my brother-to-be
we had Thanksgiving at our neighbors' house, where my friend Katie
was excited about the turkey bird, turkey bird, turkey bird, until
Mr. Simon cut into it. She screamed and ran ran ran - struck crazy sad.

Happy feasting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Daily Crossword Poem Draft

Let he or she cast a stone who's never erred
or watch us goofy apes in play and grin
have you a pet iguana? I have pet peeves
which I will share for chips you saved from Reno
or let us fly to Lanai and compare leis
or sing them, lays I mean, I think. My deal.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Seattle staring into the alley behind my house from my writing room
stacked with boxes from nine weeks in Chiloquin. I have put books away,
washed clothes and put them away, cleaned nine weeks of grime from
kitchen surfaces, spent a joyous family evening with both daughters,
their sig others, their in one case dog in the other case human infant.

I need to take a shower, I need to restore order to this room,
I need to sit alone and weep a moment. I do not do transitions well.
I need to write the word "I" several more times as though that will
restore my self. How long does it take for a soul to complete a journey
it takes a body 8 hours in a car to travel? A writer whose name escapes
me gave a reading at the UW probably twenty years ago. He posited
that human souls couldn't travel as fast as airplanes and so those who
travel often are often soulless. He wasn't a spiritual writer, born-again
but maybe he was nuts. I (there it is again, look back, yup, another I)
feel oddly absent and so feel a kinship with the soul-travel idea.
In my mailbox yesterday a rejection from Hayden's Ferry Review, with
a "Thank you Laura!" perkily placed at the bottom of the quarter sheet.
Next to "The Editors." Longer than "Onward ho!" from Zyzzyva. This one
could go into the "mixed-message rejections" folder if I had one.

This paragraph poses the question: "Why does my grocery store have
living orchids in boxes on the floor of the flour aisle?"
and "Why does my local City Peoples have orchids 20% off?
Why so many orchids here? Why ANY orchids? Aren't these orchids
destined to brown and die on the coffee tables of Madison Park? Why?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Got to school early to be sure we were set to use computers - it says in my contract I have access to 40 computers. This is fiction and I haven't even signed the contract yet, didn't even read it till after I couldn't get more than 10 computers reserved for kids to type. Got to school, it was dark, dingy, dismal, unlit, cold and teeming with excited teenagers, the entry way that doubles as cafeteria. They were trapped. The metal floor to ceiling gates, identical to baby gates except metal and floor to ceiling, blocking them from entry into the halls. No power. No computers. Maybe no school. The power came back on five minutes into first period, but the power had been diverted in the neural pathways of the kids, who did not return to school for the rest of the days, some of them via turning away and wandering off to somebody's house, some of them though physically present, psychically, emotionally, mentally on short break and short fuse. Tonight is the student and community culminating reading. Who will come? I have no idea. The rain is raining all around, and beginning to turn corn snow ish. By tonight it may be snowing. This is not a limiting factor here where the snow sits six feet thick in winter and school trundles merrily along. Merrily is not the way I am doing anything at the moment. I will go home, eat stew I made last night and listen to Seu Jorge sing David Bowie songs so beautifully in Portugese. I do believe, I do believe, I do believe. There are kids who earnestly asked me to help them look over their poems and kids who cut into pens with scissors and acted like I was a piece of dog crap, though I showered this morning and smile at the kid and like him. "Loveable asshole" is the way the teacher describes him.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chilly at The Daily Grind in K Falls,
day sunny and cold, coffee gone.
I am unequal to the Saturday
crossword puzzle, which I misuse
for poetic muse. My talent unproven
my work rejected by VOLT
Why Poetry? my students ask
though become smitted by Matthew
Dickman whose work and swearing
smote their distance, their remove,
they love me for introducing them
I'm poetry go-between, gateway drug
all dullness scoured from the hours
we spent in Bend befriended by
poetry and Sherman Alexie. All
was golden and I'm beholden to many
for the money honey and now must
do the diligence as penitence for forging
forward without forethough, collecting
cash before considering consequences
other than happening our trip. I've made
a grid with addresses and amounts,
have downloaded donations from PayPal.
My extemporaneous accounting amounted
to more than anyone can count. Peace out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is important? What is worth putting energy into? If you could sit in a chair with your iPod earbuds in your ears, leaning back, room hot and dry from the radiator and redolent of skunk, wouldn't you lay down your work ethic and take a seat? If you could get away with it, wouldn't you color another person's pumpkins or draw them a haunted mansion? If you could sit with nothing to do, wouldn't you? If you were sixteen, seventeen and you had a school project the teacher wasn't going to enforce that you work on, wouldn't you claim to be doing it at home? Would you wear a blinking minor's lamp on an elastic strap around your forehead? Would you cross your arms and doze? I mean if you were sixteen years old and tomorrow was a no-school day on account of Veterans Day, wouldn't you just chuck today's work? If nobody was twisting your arm, wouldn't you let it hang down below your chair seat with the other one? Wouldn't you talk about basketball line ups? If your assignment was to make a kids' book, and you couldn't draw, would you accidentally not hear the teacher ask if you want some help downloading images in the room with internet access? Wouldn't you, given a choice, write ambiguously pornographic statements on the white board with a red pen? If your last football game of the season ended in a 42 - 0 score, and your team was the 0, and you were on the team, would that make you nobody? If you were given time, space and materials, would you put yourself into your project or would you stare into space? If I mean you were a boy sitting next to the cutest girl in the school? What if you forgot your work at home? What if you convinced even yourself that you had left work at home? When is the deadline? How many hours have we devoted to it in class? What if there were little dinosaurs lost in the forbidden land? What if a scuba diver was looking for a pineapple in the Mariannas Trench? Could the Gorse save Christmas? What if Death and a guy played checkers and Death chopped the guy's head off - would it make Death's jaw drop if the guy stayed alive? Would you be able to draw that picture? What would a were rabbit look like? If you had a hickey red as a Christmas bulb on your neck, would you turn your head so the teacher couldn't see it? What did you ask me? What are we doing? Can we go to lunch ten minutes early because we were so good?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

At night I hear the calling of the Great Horned Owl
woods flight, talon drop to limb, My Gramma Jo
hunched and quilted. Card shark on the weekends
her hose rolled below her knees, set a gruesome
painting of our suffering lord on her trestle table,
I ran outside. Lurid Geographic painted Aztec
no stranger. I feared danger and the dark, horses
teeth and shaming. My parents hooded raptors,
I met nobody's gaze, more mouse than anything
aloft. My husband longs to fly, I shut my eyes.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Oregonian Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft



Once I'm unliving will you remember all I left undid?
Boxes emptied of tea and cereal, microbrewed ale.
Born November, shriveled to an apple doll by April
My corpse adrift in a flaming flimsy boat, Norse-
like, as moon and mist and all that shivers rises.
I'll have stiff upper lip by then, jacket like Nehru
and all you'll have to do is shove my love or sit
while all you've loved burns out, tears seared.
You say you forgive me always but life's a maneater
we lose to it limb by cell, slump into our serapes
too soon our boom goes bust and all our rooms relet.
I'd not have missed your smile, our child, for all my noise.
Though I falter on the icy edge, there's little I would alter.

HAPPY DIA DE LOS MUERTES!

BONUS FILM REVIEW: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
The wild things fuzzy feelings
too enormous to handle
for one small Max who cannot
rule them and so sails home.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thursday right after school I drove just under two hours to Ashland to see Mark Doty. Culture shock just to drive from my little left-out town over the mountains to the mini-urbanity in muted toned nubbly fabrics of Ashland. Let alone going to see a major poet. How frightening would that be, to be written about as a major poet? Last year I went to Ashland to see Li-Young Lee. It's hard to think though since I'm sitting in the town library where a skeleton hand with a little speaker in its wrist and a motion detector somewhere laughs in a scary Halloween voice every couple of minutes. The motion detector is broken, it isn't that there are dozens of passersby at the desk. The librarian's smile has gone a bit grimace but she's game enough to keep the thing on, which draws the kids wandering around every so often so she can tell them about the free movie (Monsters vs. Aliens) at 2pm in the big room here at the community center.

Which reminds me of how Mark Doty's reading began, after the interminable fawning introduction that drew attention to the fact that the speaker whoever she so prettily was had heard him first at the Geraldine R. Dodge poetry festival. Finally, he walked on stage, they sorta hugged, sorta shook hands, he said a bit of a syllable (sorry, I don't remember which,) and then a prerecorded woman's voice boomed from the speaker above his head, telling us to keep our feet off the seats in front of us, this being the high school's very beautiful theater, and then the regular stuff all theaters remind us about. It'd have been nice to have done that bit before or perhaps during the stint of the introducer.

Doty opened by celebrating the broadside the one letter press printer in Ashland made for his reading, which I had bought before going in in the lobby for $10 (a bargain.) Before reading his poem he read the poem that he said it sprang from - "In the Same Space" by the Greek poet (I always think ancient Greek when someone says Greek poet, but I caught up) C. P. Cavafy. Here's that poem:

IN THE SAME SPACE

The setting of houses, cafes, the neighborhood
that I've seen and walked through years on end:

I created you while I was happy, while I was sad,
with so many incidents, so many details.

And, for me, the whole of you has been transformed into feeling.

-C.P. Cavafy


Doty said the last line over again, and we knew this line was what carried him into his poem of the same title.

He read in that markedly slowed down manner that puts me off for about a poem and a half and then draws me into the words. Jane Hirshfield does a similar thing - when I heard her last year my first thought was "how affected," but then I was transported. Ditto Doty.

The couple to my right just moved to Ashland from Zila, near Yakima. He was a journalist, she a children's librarian sucked up into management. They were so pleased with their relocation. Ashland has a cultural life, from the Shakespeare Festival to the Varsity Movie Theater to the Bloomsbury Bookstore, and the Chautauqua Series that brings poets like Mark Doty, who not only read at the evening event but work with the kids in the high school. No wonder they're pleased. It's also physically beautiful, and whatever my meaner thoughts about the slight affectation of the gentlefolk farmers in the vicinity, there's lots of wonderful local food, including artisan cheeses.

And now the librarian is talking with another local who brought in an unwatchable DVD he'd checked out, returning it now unwatched, complaining "you know how people are around here." Sigh.

Doty read a handful of new poems, one of which, about being greeted by the emissary goat from a herd, I really liked. He told an anecdote about Stanley Kunitz at his 98th birthday, then talked about his puzzling over Kunitz hitting his poetic stride in his 70's and 80's. "I think it's because of his garden," Doty said. Kunitz loved all phases of the garden - all year, from upsurge to rot. Like most of the rest of us, Doty said he struggles with any kind of acceptance of mortality. He read his poem "Heaven for Paul" wonderfully - it's set in an airplane about to crash, and features his partner Paul going glowily beatific facing death while he panicked. I liked his talk about Kunitz better than "Heaven for Stanley," but that's just me.

During the q & a, which I'm always grumpy about, the questions usually being more along the lines of "LOOK AT ME!" than sincere questions, someone asked about how Doty got started writing prose. He said after his lover died in 1994 he couldn't write poems - what he was going through wouldn't let him make poems. He started writing in sentences, then paragraphs, in prose. He began looking at them, thinking, "now, that sentence there could be better..." He said that opened an aesthetic distance, paused, then said, "Aesthetic Distance can Save Your Life." (caps mine.)

Afterwards, I wandered the lobby watching folks lined up to have their books signed. My broadside had come presigned so I didn't have to stand in the line. I hate standing in the line, forcing the exhausted poet to engage with WHO? little me there with my book out wanting his actual hand on my paper. Pah! And the fear I'll say something. If I could just thrust the book forward, stay mute, I'd avoid the possibility of blather. Kiss the anti-blarney stone before standing in a signing line.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm jangling - we asked for money for our trip to Bend and have gotten LOTS of money for our trip, which has made me weepily grateful and worried that some of the seniors are trying to not go because. I don't know why. Because we are old people. Because we (the teacher and I) are white. I know in one case that is probably true. BORING and STUPID and TRUE. Ok, I'm using boring the way the kids use boring. I don't understand what's going on and I want it to go away.

I must email the teacher to see how we can be sure everyone is on board we want to be on board. I worry we'll have fewer Tribal kids than the college has assigned Tribal guides. Isn't that dumb of me? But at this point I feel we OWE everyone who has donated our absolute danged best to SHOW THE HECK UP!

Which is the theme pretty much of a well-lived life: SHOW UP. Goof up. Mess up. SHOW UP again. Sometimes don't trip over anything or say a spazzy thing or spill coffee down the front of your white shirt. SHOW UP the next time. Say "I wonder what blah blah will be like?" and SHOW UP. Get nervous. Chew your nails and the inside of your face but SHOW UP. Wear what you wore to bed last night trying to keep warm but SHOW UP. Hitchhike. Scramble through the brambles, the sage, take a kayak, a bus. When your car breaks down, stick out your thumb. When you get bad news, grieve, and then, put on the walking shoes and SHOW UP.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I read two Matthew Dickman poems to the seniors today, as preamble to our trip to Bend to see him read with Sherman Alexie and Karen Karbo. The first poem I read was called "Amigos" - over a page long, single spaced. The second poem, "Love", I was afraid to photocopy and pass out due to its adult subject matter - sex. Sherman Alexie's young adult novel was banned a hundred miles from here because the narrator says (this is a paraphrase, but pretty accurate,) "I masturbate. I admit it. I'm pretty good at it. I'm ambidextrous." In "Love" Matthew Dickman (coincidental last name) mentions a woman having legs around someone's waist, and oral sex. Though three junior girls spent fifth period discussing anal sex, I'm probably not allowed to knowingly expose the seniors to any sexual references. Oh well, oops. I told them I was going to read them a poem probably inappropriate to school and that I was only going to read it to them once. Then I made copies and handed them out.

In fifth and sixth periods the students are making books. They're in the early getting it together phase, so I did a show and tell of book making. A few are interested in pop-up books, so I'll see what I can put together for Thursday's show and tell, including a storyboard for planning. We're out of my expertise area, but what the heck, I like to wing it and see where we go. I love to explore the intersection of word and image. The important thing is for me to stay on track and not confuse those who need more structure by heading off in many possible directions. "What am I supposed to do?" they ask. And they want one answer.

Friday, October 16, 2009

In answer to a question from one of my students, Sherman Alexie replied, "A successful literary career is mostly about postage, and I guess email now." In which case the last two days I have been mid-very-successful-literary career, having sent out probably 13 submissions, not counting the book manuscript I sent to a contest. Now that I've reproofed (I reprove myself for not having done this BEFORE sending to the contest having caught several typos from what I thought was a 100% clean manuscript) the book, I might as well send it off to some other book contests. I've duct taped the big flapping lips of my inner critic and set her out in the bike and kayak shed to entertain the clumsy and loud-walking ground squirrel with her deep sighing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The teacher's back! Yay! All of us need his structure and that feeling of purpose that comes with it. He's younger than my younger child and so much older than the high school kids. Luckily I stopped aging when I gave birth for the first time.

The sophomores, here in this rural school where everyone is Indian, white or maybe Mexican, did not like Amiri Baraka's "Bang, Bang, Outishly (for Monk.)" How is this poetry? They said. I wouldn't download it for free, they said. I'd played them a little Thelonious Monk beforehand and that didn't seem to register - the connection between the music and the poem. Such a different response than from an urban classroom. Is this relevant? I don't know. I do know these kids are very afraid of what they don't know or understand, that is not already in their world. Maybe part of it? I played the Monk quietly through the period while we wrote poems - today we wrote "Where I'm From" poems inspired by last year's poems from our book THE NEWS FROM CHILOQUIN and a little bit by Georgia Ella Lyons' poem which had started those last year poems. I'm trying to heavily insert the reality of the book into proceedings. Thursday will be revision day.

I forgot there is break after second period and walked out of the class when the bell rang since the teacher had left, saying something about coming back. I didn't realize the break mistake until I was driving towards, nearly to, the library where I now sit typing instead of talking about syllabi development or going to meet with the principal to see if we can take the seniors off on an overnight trip to Bend. HA! No issues there. None. Zip zilch, cannot think of a way things could tip off the high dive into the deep end there.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

10/7/09 Daily Crossword Poem Draft


I advise you buy the bag with clasp
not one sagged open that says naif
or nothing in your wallet, Euro earl
noble pearl, ramparts tumbled, vent
to sky events, sleet, drizzle, rain, etal
Rochester, the moors, and heather
in the flu borne English weather. Nod
and hope I'll lope along and leave you
to your purchase, hie me home to sew
or show whatall I know to one who
isn't you. Dispense with talk as you
disburse to buy that purse I bet
I'll bless you yet and yet I'm double
parked, my tires marked, the chalk
but not the ticket. Oh sticky wicket
I'll call you at home another day
cut crusts away and harvest cress
your guess as good as mine for
who am I to say or bless unless
that fanny pack's zip has broken.

---

Third teaching day without the teacher in the classroom - Thursday, Tuesday, now this Thursday. Six days and maybe counting he's away and all his order and purpose far away and how many days will that take to rebuild? I pick up litter, put the desks back in order, shelve the books and still he is not here and tensions and chaos rise. Today's sub was a stickler writing referrals right and left, making good she said, following through she said, but breathing discord in this room where trust was building block by stick by gluey mortar, now a tumbled heap. There's a history here of teachers, English teachers, fleeing. The kids feel uneasy. "Is he in the state?" a teacher asked in the teachers' room. A question. He's been on the phone or email calling in his absences. I want him to come back, a student says. I want him to come back.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

October 6 09 Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft


I collected postage stamps from Chad
that came in glassine slip covers, rode
the bus to school, strapped on skates
to circle the basement, drew hula
dancers on construction paper, aped
my elders, made a plaster of paris tibia
took in TV from Miss Elaine to Igor.
National Geographic meant the Nile
and piles of sunken gold refound, the
flu was more TV and toast and jam
but here I am and I am groping
not to scream, my mother phoning
news that she is old and failing. I let
her worry, as I always have, aloud,
which worries me but I don't dare,
I spin my skate wheel, still eleven.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Here in Chiloquin the Shell Station gets the Oregonian newspaper, except on Sundays and Mondays. The mail people bring the paper, so it makes sense we can't get the paper Sundays, but the Monday missing paper is a mystery. The clerk behind the counter with the plastic wrapped muffins on it told me sometimes the Oregonian doesn't get here cuz the Oregonian people are late and the mail people can't wait.

September 23, 2009 Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

Scared to be paired, you stomp
the street in your ratty coat, owl
hoot out the back window, awl
in your hand, not ready to accede
to what you don't understand:
area of Mobius strip, weevil path.
You don't believe in evil, sky
brightening, door bolted, humanity
on the other side of the road. Is art
the only answer you have? Pascal
in velvet cloak, no camera snap,
but you're held rapt by any story.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunny and warm in Chiloquin, Oregon,
I'm once again at the back table at the library
checking email and listening to conversations
between the librarian and whoever comes in.
I arrived Saturday, in time to meet my landlord
at 10am. The new house is on Agency Lake.
ON AGENCY LAKE. Out my window are
cottonwoods and beyond them AGENCY LAKE.
This morning I took out one of the kayaks -
sadly the one branded "Emotion" is too large,
but I wore the radiation yellow life vest
and once I was afloat - butt in the boat,
then feet tucked in and no turning turtle,
I was level with abundant water bird life
and the whutter of wings as flocks lifted
to set down further from my whisper paddles.
I set off towards the Wood River Wetlands,
until recently somebody's farm reclaimed
from wetlands, water drained and a dyke
put in place which was dynamited to restore
the wetlands - "Only in Klamath County"
my informant told me. Ah but the result!
I paddled over algae green water, then
over water browned by peat, keeping my
eye on the broken peak that once continued
up as Mt. Mazama. On the water were
what looked like two rafts of white pelicans
so far and so immobile I began to doubt
and thought them first duck blinds and
later chalk graffiti, though they were
two rafts of white pelicans, dozens in
each, and three posed on an underwater
island closer to me, one of which fumbled
into flight and joined one of the rafts.
I didn't get close enough that they would
all take wing, deciding to leave them
to their fishing and visiting, while I
turned back to my house. I panicked
momentarily. How would I recognize
where I'd come from? I remembered
the large green house I'd walked past
yesterday, very close to shore. If I
got to that I'd know I'd gone too far.
It took me nearly an hour to reach
the pelicans, maybe twenty minutes
to get back to the cabin, where I
successfully disembarked without
falling into the lake, losing neither
kayak nor paddle.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scattered every which way
every room humped with mess in progress
brain hot with synapse fire
mired mainly in too much to do
no time to see it through (no will
most of the year to do) And how
are you?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is there a wonderful new feature on blogger that disallows you to copy and paste, even from your own blog, even when logged in? This will reduce my paranoid fantasy that other people are copying my blog poem drafts, recrafting them and making millions in the frenzied money making world of international poetry. Someone has written a book entitled FINANCIAL LIVES OF THE POETS. Jess Walter. Coming to the U Village Barnes & Noble on September 22. I'll be in Chiloquin, Oregon. But you could go. Will he speak about Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot? Period? Subtitle: The Music of Failure. An actual book. My current favorite title. Not about poets and finance. I was going to quote myself from early 2006 but I'll leave this.

Texas Crazy Ants aka Rasberry ants are real. Also Caribbean Crazy Ants. Their generic names: paratrechnia species near pubens and paratrechina pubens. See their blog.

Moisture Ants Are One Thing

But when Texas Crazy Ants amass
we flee, cow poke congressman or co-ed
grab skivvies and our horn rims
run for the hills "Not it!" "NOT IT!"
we choose our molten thoughts in lieu
of creativity. We'll go you know - atop
the onion domes of former Doodyville
nurse ants ferry larva and we're nada
how's that gotta carve your melon?
You're hell on wheels, ants smile
whether Lancaster and Ewing
you won't be doing what you're doing
when Texas Crazy Ants scramble
like the anarchists they are. Fazed?
oh I suppose. I'm scared
this drama is worse than opera
larvae nurseries in mailbox, vases,
so we retreat with diddly squat
trot off as these ants carom
harem scarem over every place
obliterate your face not even in a rage
I may exagerrate a tad
hordes eat hot dogs and your honey
and also honey bees. Oh, jeeze.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/10/09 Daily Crossword Puzzle Poetry Draft


Ballet pink I find to my dismay is passe
though who am I to know, my toes enclosed
in solid shoes and this a pedicure?
She diligently saws at dried out skin
as I doze, an oaf like hobbit Astin
until the flip flops and I shuffle off
a pretty city girl about to head to RFD
these shrimp boat OPI dyes affect
a happy change from grumpy to belief
I'm just the chick to change the clime
for kids whose crappy hands aren't dealt
for keeps for good and all and all the heft
their tragedies that tend to other ports
than mine and time declares a truce
is there a use in all of this? You bet
or sing me arias from Carmen.
You trip and scramble far as
anyone can go and still you have an ear
for injustice even when it's not sci fi.
But why (we're talking of Antietam)
do the rapists claim the staff of life?
Point at the chart say fish will spawn
again and all your bitching's moot.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

9/9/09 (!!!!) Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

If only life made sense like math
the satisfying grids and graphs
no fool's grin to make you ache
or take you, just one long hora
hour after hour, no Eva or Evita
yelling in your ear, a peer
appearing when predicted halts
and bows and hey it's Parker
or Joe you like or maybe Bob
if you want it snow, no Bozo
Mr. Green Jeans, Captain Kan-
garoo appearing by the Erie
but dearie this ain't true you
got that neurosthemia mold
those Irene blues bed all red
and you know who has landed
your nephew uncle lover son
have done what no man done
before so you're a whore Bebe
Jeeze they'd never if not teased
ah please court date soon in re
who asked you it's after nine
sine wave calculus bestow

---

Some days its yay hurray
others it's oh brother

---

Moving back into our house, this is no poem, it's real and I don't want to strip sheets and mattress pads, sort towels, vaccuum, make sure we're where we should be financially etc. I want to stare into the sky and look at my fingers and have the duties my granddaughter has - just figuring out how to use this amazing engine that runs me. Sigh.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Poem Draft from the Wenatchee World Daily Crossword Puzzle for this Tuesday's WW


Well, I'm finking out on writing this poem, can't stop thinking about other things, especially since the first two "words" across are "kwh" and "tsp" and the third is the flat and unmusical "chow". How now brown cow where's your chow? Chew your chow now, won't thou? Sheesh.

Last evening, moon waxing gibbous (god I love to write that word), over the lake flat as seran wrap stretched over a bowl of really great leftover potato salad, Jim said, "let's take a boat ride," and we got into our boat with UNDERWORLD by Don DeLillo. Duh. We've begun to read it as a read aloud. We've had several halts on the read aloud front lately. The 1951 Dodgers vs. Yankees? Mets? crap, I loved the scene, but baseball team names fall from my consciousness like factual details so often do for me. Every trip down lake is a revelation - I don't remember the coastline, the mountain peaks. I do remember the Seuss house and the house with the Hobie Cats out front, the property with the fussy gazebo and mobile home by the shore. What else do we need to be happy along the lake? I forget constellations and which direction the earth rotates. I have the eye of imagination but the eye of organization has miazmal glaucoma. I'm reading Ruth Gendler's NOTES ON THE NEED FOR BEAUTY, which has a lovely bit about eyes. She cites an essay in Bill Holm's book, THE MUSIC OF FAILURE, which I immediately looked up on Powell's (no show) and then Amazon.com, where it is available for $38. Um, the credit card went back into the duct tape wallet at that point. If anyone owns the book and wants to photocopy the essay "Horizontal Grandeur" I'll pay for the copying and postage! The piece I'm going to quote really hit me since I'm going back to the high plains of Chiloquin, Oregon for nine weeks on the 18th. Here's the passage I underlined from Ruth's NOTNFB:

In a brief, beautiful essay, "Horizontal Grandeur," Minnesota writer Bill Holm distinguishes between two ways of seeing, which he calls "the prairie eye" and "the woods eye." "The prairie eye looks for distance, clairty, and light; the woods eye for closeness, complexity, and darkness. The prairie eye looks for usefulness and plainness in art and architecture, the woods eye for the baroque and ornamental."

Holm describes how someone with a woods eye looks at twenty miles of prairie and sees nothing but grass. The one with a prairie eye "looks at a square foot and sees a universe; ten or twenty flowers and grasses, heights, heads, colors, shades, configurations, bearded, rough, smooth, simple, elegant. When a cloud passes over the sun, colors shift, like a child's kaleidoscope... Trust a prairie eye to find beauty and understate it truthfully, no matter how violent the apparent exaggeration. Thoreau, though a woodsman, said it right: 'I can never exaggerate enough.'"

On the next page, she writes : "Because by nature I readily identify with the eye of the imagination, I have been deeply moved by exercises that strengthen the eye of observation."

It is easy for me to depend on my eye of imagination and my quick facility, but these limit what I write and what I think about - wall off possibilities and make it easy for me to stumble downward into not seeing anything at all. I'm always having to haul myself up out of the awful well I've fallen into because I wasn't paying attention. Did you hear the "This American Life" segment on cruelty? I listened as a man began a story about he and a group of friends out playing, hearing a man weakly calling out, having heard them. He set up how wordlessly the lot of them, after an initial burst of rescue motions, chose not to help him or tell anyone. I couldn't stand listening. The tension was horrible; I could not hang with the story, couldn't bear the thought that man might have died for lack of rescue by those boys. As a little girl I could not watch "I Love Lucy" once the plot began in earnest. I jumped up and ran to my room as my parents sat and guffawed, smoking their headache causing cigarettes, my father in that green chair with the coppery brads making a border up the vertical fronts of the chair arms. Dreading something awful in the offing I retreat. I label myself emotional coward. I am cowed by emotions and events that have nothing to do with me. Worse when they HAVE something to do with me. My father is 84 years old. His doctor recently said, "You look like a man of 60 and you're robustly healthy, outside of the strokes." My father says, "I sometimes wonder what I will be when I grow up." Is it a family trait to put off till tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow since we look so much younger than others our age that we really might have that much more time, or maybe all the time in the world? Maybe we like Highlander are IMMORTAL, though I would hate to have to be on my guard all the time, have to sword fight my way to permanent immortality, the immortality even being conditional. So what you hung out with Mozart? Today I lop off your head and get stronger! I move toward The Gathering getting more warlike every encounter! RARRRR! Immortality does not convey maturity. And see how far I've wandered?

Looking at Jupiter through our bad telescope, we could see one of its moons. Jim said, "people used to call the planets 'The Wanderers.'"

After a meditative moment enjoying that phrase, I thought how I've lived all these years and have never particularly noticed planets. I haven't had to of course, my life doesn't depend on the night sky for navigation by land or sea or even within my imagination. My thoughts garble in the day's news, other people's needs, and I need a post-it note to remind me to look up on a clear night, to lie on the ground and stare into that vastness and marvel if not remember or even note what's up there in a naming/knowledge way.

Yesterday Jim harvested several of our tomatoes and many of our basil leaves. I'd remembered to buy fresh mozzerella at the Chelan Safeway, so we made caprese salad, mozzerella slab, basil leaf, tomato slice, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, eaten on our deck staring at the placid lake, the wild mountain the other side of it, feeling the air so perfectly the right temperature it felt soft and no temperature at all. And then I awoke to Jim shutting windows and the french door, rain slapping the trex deck, smell of newly wet cement, Thor rolling his bowling balls along the lanes above the bruised clouds.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

September 2, 2009 Newsday Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft


Hey you in balaclava drinking java
thick as lava, wanker' to my banker's urge
one hand is flush with spades and clubs
the other out in orbit or Hanoi
you excavate my foundation
like crustaceon or yeast, no east
to orient your beast, or is it me?
What I say is less than what I see
seems to me wit separates us from nit
but I digress. You bet me odd or even
we both know we'll never be on par
you at the bar me Carrie Nation avid
do you believe in gravitas? At our age
we should rage but we're too small.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Seattle Times Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft
September 1, 2009


As Sly Stone said you don't have to be a star
baby but those were the days before eBay
when you knew a blackberry by the thorn
and porn was Playboy not plastic to ogle
blue lit online. Nobody's avatar sang alto
your identity equaled you tap tap no erase
you knew your place and everybody died


---

for the second day in a row our neighbors at the idyllic *SIGH* lake are having their septic tank pumped. This is very very very loud and my brain is ahum with the thrum of the motor sucking muck from underground two doors down. What an awful soul-snatching sound. Omnipresent as mosquito hum in the middle of the night, reverberating off the mountains on the opposite shore, pounding through my pores like guilt or fear of the dark. They don't admit defeat these neighbors and whatever is wrong with the plumbing - sludge coming up into the kitchen sink or a stink behind the house after a washload - they will wrestle it into submission through whatever noisy and neighborhood disturbing means money can put at their disposal. Disposal is a problem here where nothing untoward must fall into the lake, though make no mistake these folks put plenty they shouldn't into the lake. Their lawn in the desert uplands along Lake Chelan could be a putting green. Men don't only come to mow and loudly weed whack the perimeter, they pour onto it nitrogen and potassium soon to be to dear to add to crops and that other p chemical my mind is too full of hideous hum to come up with. It sounds like a plane coming in to land on a tether to stop it landing so that the jets perpetually fret just above the runway right next to our house.

Friday, August 28, 2009

8/28/09 Daily Crossword Poem Draft


If beauty hired district reps
and all the world was stage
you'd drop crutch and soar
let's listen as we hum our tune
as good for us as daily fiber
so what the traffic's daily roar
they're out for blood? We stroll
and loll and all, we seek relief
from grief and wave our flag
a rag as clean as any and solid
as the scraggy hat we doff
to anyone who stops lenient
as all who lean and loaf at ease
and these are all the arenas
needed. Pines don't cost a cent
and we've sent back the modem

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Daily Crossword Puzzle Draft 8/25/09


In the days when armpits were arid
in all the streams squacked fowls
far away where air was clean and char
was for marshmallows we made
our mothers sent our food to India
davenots and grammas all lace
doilies, arms shivery not to ogle
though we did possessed by demon
and most of my dinner was on me
we wept but kept going
and now it's we who've aged
photobooks yellowing spent
like broken teeth as we reseat
at the hat dance at the fiesta
whoever's at the altar isn't us
and all history is ours to amend
as we attend to other woes than ours
for all we preen we won't be seen
for long so grab your uke
and sing another sec
who wants to find that sketch
he made when you lay nude
and all your bits stood firm

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Participated in a Five Strokes poetry happening (sorry - 60's language, but it WAS!) at SAM Thursday night. Four poets, a stack of sumi painted art critique pages, a microphone, clipboards, blank paper and pencils (no pens in the galleries, alas.) We were situated in the SAM Next room - first exhibit: photographs by Corin Hewitt that resulted from an installation he did for a week in 2007 at the Portland Art Museum. All about gesture and pasta, and I hadn't eaten any dinner.

Writing poems, gesturing towards or in the direction of poems from the words on the art critique pages and the sumi gesture paintings was not a problem, was familiar, was enjoyable. I love to write in company with other poets. We were a bit of an art installation, some on the floor, some on the gallery bench, all hunched over our writing.

Our instructions were to go to the mic and talk about the process we went through to write each poem as we completed the gesture toward a poem. This was complicated. We couldn't then read the poems aloud, but had to lay them on the floor and return to writing. I stood at the microphone, turned it on, looked out and was surrounded by other human beings - audience! - but how to connect with audience with no poem? How to talk honestly about process while trying to connect with audience with no rehearsal, no product to share? Was I supposed to pretend they weren't there? Our commentary was being broadcast in the main lobby. Was my job even to try to connect or only to report? I gave a report. I didn't look at anybody after the initial reflexive hello and smile. I felt guilty having cheated audience of an expectation that I would perform. I felt like a middle schooler. Each time I got up to present, I used larger words to explain my process, at least I felt that I did. I separated. I only marginally listened to my fellow poets present. At the end I read their poems on the floor. I was the only one to gesture at signing my name. I'd signed "lg" to my first couple of poems, then noticed nobody else was attaching attributions, so I quit. I took some of the sets home, they're beside me on this desk. Not because I wanted to save them but because I didn't want Greg to have to fuss with them, get them to recycling. Anyway, here's one of my poems. The epigraph is from the text of the page I was looking at.

"Nothing could be further
from the authentic art
of our time than the idea
of a rupture of continuity."

And I'm delighted to find
a typo on top of the second page
"an" for "and" deflating
scholarly elevation, illumination
under the watchful eye or breast,
scrumbled cloud, perhaps toupee.

***

Ciao for now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Poetry in 5 Steps at SAM last night



celebration of the new moon

silvery white balloons

white horses with baby carriages

white owls with electric eyes

white rabbits, black tuxed people

in white face, all waltzing

Benaroya, Triple Door,

dancing downtown and

uphill - every new moon

somewhere in Seattle --

New Moon Lullaby

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

AT THIS FAR REMOVE





To study Norway's elusive narwhals

scatter white floats along fjords and wait.

When sea water flattens they can't hide,

tricky as they are. It helps you've studied

ballet - learned how to suffer -- so that

when, sea clear as a wild hare, pod

cruising close to shore, you shimmy

into red dry suit, grab a sensor strap,

you won't collapse in tears as they veer,

unicorn horns twisty gleam against

high dry cliffs on the opposite shore.





Daily Crossword 8/18/09 Poem Draft





If I had a new idea would you ask?
Were you the check to my payee?
Mitochondria to run my solo cell?
Who the Great Dane, who flea?
Me? Itch to scratch unstung areas
My tongue along reed, your oboe
A hundred rooms lit by dawn
your chest hairs in my grasp
my whimper and your bang
if your dog had been ring bearer
if I'd baked love charms in the rye
beaten more sponge cakes rise airy
high as shoulder pads, poof hair era
nail bit quick pickpocket on the Metro
if I were Ichiro's knee you'd be the base
or I the ball your bat would hit
I'm two percent and you the Oreo
eye of newt, frog skull, the curse --
the blooming plastic bag, the ode,
your belch my box of chocolates
angle into shore some more, ahoy
I 'm semi conscious, you aren't neat
bicycle bag, slide rule, yesterday's news
you've got tools we've taken orally
Rescued Sara Lees in the sink, age
of silverfish, beer traps, slugs
closer than two smashed bugs
in a rug. Crowbar, SOS for help
sacred narwhal horn wide as Asia
voodoo doll, droop bellied idol
Rumplestiltskin, Cinderella, mend
us like think system in our sleep
bottle or wise orca carries note
to change your life or make it start
my heart my art my clock to set
and as I always say: and yet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Perhaps I can add a stick figure image of my grand daughter (granddaughter?) to this blog. I try to download images from my computer and the command line shows a whirring do hickey while the blogspot drafting board shows a couple of little chicklets lining up along a line with spaces for many little chicklets - I go off down the hall, return to the same scene and conclude that the stick figure or imagination are my choices as far as image goes, at least as long as I'm here along Lake Chelan, far from Comcast's fat fast cable.

In other news, it is cooler today at Lake Chelan, cool and quiet as even when there are folks in the houses along the cove they stay indoors on days like these or go off to wineries or town. Chelan now has its own appellation from the AVA - it is its own region, not a subset of the Yakima Valley appellation as before. Chelan growers specialize in white wine grapes - your Rieslings, Gewurztraminers, Viogners, and Pinots. They import the reds from the Yakima Valley and blend them to make many red wines, some good, all more expensive than the $10 a bottle I keep as my spending limit. I prefer to buy $15 wines for $10 - always look at those bright colored tags meant for those like me and perhaps factual.

I like words for commotion and disorder: hubbub, brouhaha, hurly-burly, hullabaloo, rumpus.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The satellite has no interest in my altering my blog title photograph. Perhaps the photo of one day old Quinn is gone, perhaps a blank space greets you as you enter my blog. In any case, I blog. I change my photo another day, a day when I am not living in Chelan with the satellite that feels reluctance to interact with blogger.com. It has delicate feelings this satellite dish. I don't actually have a satellite in my yard. I do not live on a tiny world sprouting trees the size of the Little Prince.

My daughter's mother in law who left yesterday speaks French, is in fact a high school French teacher. They spoke, my daughter and she, in French. My fellow grandma, memere to my ama, also spoke to the baby in French. And sang.

I should look at the poems I have on paper and type them onto this computer. I am afraid to look at them. This morning I thought of sending out some poems, putting cart well in front of oxen or mini horse. I did the laundry and the dishes. I rode my bicycle along the road for 48 minutes. Nine miles. My husband installed a device that includes odometer (not motor), trip meter, maximum speed, time, and trip timer. My maximum speed this morning was 28 mph. Graciously, it does not record minimum speed, which was 5.9 mph, so now you know.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Feet pad upstairs in a pattern that says someone is making a bed. Ahhhh. There's a bed I won't have to practice my hospital corners on, bending low, scowling, sweaty-browed. It is easy to describe any activity as difficult and joyless though I enjoy doing useful work, especially if it is repetitious and mindless. I like fugue states.

Yesterday six of us played "Scattergories" on the deck looking out at the lake. Seven were involved and five played any given round as Quinn requires a handler, soother, walker, cooer-to, ambulator, personal assistant who is undistracted by, for example, writing down a word beginning with S that is a household device or a word beginning with G that is a Halloween costume. Such is life on the lake on a Saturday.

Poem Draft From Scattergories words to follow.
Woodrow Wilson, Tipper and Al,
typhoid fever to the waffle iron,
wanker or tycoon we judge them.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Someday I'll tell you about my computer inexplicably crashing.
Nothing this time was recoverable from my hard drive.
Before I have been lucky. My husband who is a techie super hero
has been able to go behind a curtain and whirl dials and return
with all my poems and all my emails and all my spreadsheets
but not this time. I woke in a sweat missing the New Yorker cartoon
I used as wallpaper. I am deeply denying the years of poems
I won't be seeing again. Maybe this is for the best. My folders
were cluttered with drafts upon drafts and maybe these were
poems that needed to get written on the way to better poems.
Maybe this silicacious cataclysm is clean slate, tabula rasa,
do over and get it right this time with no evidence I ever flubbed.
Yes and you know what Mike Meyers said when he was not
Bill and Ted but that other duo with that blonde SNL guy - Dana
Carvey. You know what he said even though the fog won't lift
here in Pullman where I'm cobbled onto somebody else's
wireless. Not cobbled. Glommed. It is hot here and I don't
have any folders to browse through and feel smarty smart smart
for making so many folders full of poems that might some
of them have been poems. This will give me a chance to look
at the poems I printed out and decide if they warrant another
look. Today is the first day etc. as the golfer girl said in high
school, the one who collected those sayings in a thick binder
eager to share the sappy wisdom that embarrassed me even
to hear it near me. My legs are sweaty from my daughter's
tan leather couch that is her boyfriend's tan leather couch.
My husband is working on another computer. I am typing
on the tiniest computer I've ever owned, with the idea of
getting to a place where I'll know if I want to keep it within
the fourteen days that would let me get my money back.
I'm charmed by this box the size of a clutch purse (not a car
clutch, even that of a Morris Minor, such as mine.) My
Morris Minor by the way is for sale. Three years ago I said
$14,000, at last month's All-British Fieldmeet at the former
Bellevue Community College, now Bellevue College, I said
$12,000. Right now, I say anything over $9,000 and you
walk away with my car. I'll put in the fuel pump. I mean my
husband will. If he names the tool and maybe draws an outline
of the more obscure ones, I'll fetch them/it for him as he
works, but no I will not do car repair myelf much as I thought
I might when I was a radical woman in the early 70's doorbelling
for the ERA in Olympia where more than one woman told me she would not vote for the ERA because it meant unisex bathrooms. We don't have the ERA honey and we still make 78 cents to every dollar the men make for the exact same job, but hey! we got unisex potties when they're one-seaters.

On my old computer were photographs from the last five years, many of which have no backup as in this digital age who prints? My India photos for example are no more. No pictures from Greece either.

This is what death is. Unique memory gone. And life goes on. Which is cruelty.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Maira Kalman possesses curative powers!

See her Thomas Jefferson post from the New York Times for proof.

This hiatus has gone on long enough. I'm afraid to look at my site minder or whatever it's called. I'm afraid of a lot - other people's emotions, my faults, falling from high places, seeing anybody in a position to possibly fall from high places, how vulnerable our necks and wrists and fingers are to injury, my own ignorance and stubborn unwillingness to change. This morning I went on a long bike ride along Lake Chelan. It was actually a shortish bike ride for me since it was 42 minutes long and yes I keep track in my notebook of the length of my bike rides. They are fun and restorative and sweaty and healthy. But first off they are fun. I love wind whistling through the holes in my bike helmet I am so grateful is light and airy since I did the bulk of my bike riding in the 70's probably before bike helmets had been invented. Jim and I rode our bikes from Seattle to Disneyland in 1977 without bike helmets or diaper pants. I still do not wear diaper pants. I bought a pair without trying them on at REI the last time I was in Seattle. The pair I bought are meant to look like sporty beige capris, but underneath is the thick wadding that keeps the bottom from being in pain, or so I'm told. I bought size large, whatever that means in sport clothing, and each of my thighs looked like the arm of an overstuffed chair so I immediately wadded them up in the back of my closet muttering silent curses that glow on the inside of the back of my skull even now a month later. I did later unwad them and fold them neatly, tags still attached, and set them under two other pairs of pants on a shelf as if I might wear them one day, and maybe I will but not today. I already rode my bike today in a pair of capris without a wadding feature under the rear but with paint on them and also too small but they don't LOOK too small. I found a Scrabble tile with the letter R on it on the cement floor of the arbor on my return, while I was clipping extraneous grape vines with the dullish clippers we keep in a V where a brace runs from top lattice to 4x4 leg. I thought to myself "I have the habits of a gardener," which was a nice thought I thought though not true. In those moments though, puttering with pruners and then weeding on my knees, I was utterly totally all gardener, fused, knees, fingers and mind to the task which is what bliss is.

Riding home, almost hands free, I passed a bank of name signs and actually read them. Name under name under name, SUMMERS, WORTH, name, name, and I grinned and breathed the sage scented morning air and steered and stared out at the lake and felt happy. And then my friend emailed Maira Kalman and soon I'll hold my granddaughter so her mommy can sleep and daddy can work and and and.

Monday, June 22, 2009

PARTIAL FOIL
for Odie

She sets a tinfoil square close
to my scalp, separates a hair
section, dips her wide brush
into lavender goo and paints.
Comb for straight edge
she folds the foil, says I
could choose my own name.
I've decided on Ama-
it rhymes with Gramma,
but has way more glamour.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baby Quinn is out of the womb
and in the world and I have made
three lasagnas in three days
which you wouldn't think would
be related except that I'm gramma
not mama so I'm the one with the oven mitt.

I'm in my place. Once again, doing my job that means I try to make it so that I'm out of a job - two mornings holding the baby so mommy and daddy could sleep then this morning I let myself in and they're all zzzing away in the bed so I crept downstairs and washed strawberries and put dishes away as quietly as I could. This is not my dance. My dance card not only is not full my dance card is in a foreign language from the past and my daughter radiates heat and health and smells of mother's milk and beginnings. Her daughter falls asleep at the breast without latching on and has a tiny mouth. A lactation consultant suggested sacro-cranial manipulation for the baby who also has a tight string under her tongue. Like I do. That foreshortened thingy-deal that a doctor recently asked me about. "Did you have a speech impediment when you were young?" No. Do you want a punch in the eye? I didn't really ask him if he wanted a punch in the eye, but I had a reflex inside my mind that said it. My son in law made a jokey fist and waved it at me when I said I have the short thingy deal that has a very official sounding name that people who have normal tongues can remember. Mine is too tied - it's that tongue-tied thingy deal I could probably look up right now on the internet except that my temper like my tongue holder is short and I don't want to and in my refusal is my power. I'm a powerful refuser. That's not such a great skill, really, but I'm good at it. Let us all celebrate and exaggerate what we are good at for at least a few minutes a day. I'm going to add caveats to that one. If you are good at holding back like me that's okay but if you're good at socking people in the nose then just cool it and get some fricking help already.

If you are bearing with me, I will continue about my granddaughter who is a little pea in a pod in her little green swaddling blanket. Her mommy or her daddy hand her to me all pod-shaped with her beautiful perfect little face with eyes like her mommy's and lips like her daddy's and an intensity all her own. She isn't radiating baby-heat yet, so new out of the womb. Her daddy goes downstairs to work, two floors and it's too far away to stay longer than ten minutes, he says. He misses her smell. How can anybody doubt we're mammals? Take OFFENSE that we're mammals? My best friend for eleven years was a dog mammal. She didn't hide her empathy or hold blame or invest a minute of her valuable time on recriminations. She'd have loved this new girl baby. I love this new girl baby. She makes my eyes water just to think of her out here with the rest of us. All of us opening and closing our hands and squinching up our faces, our little chins quivering. We don't know what we want, but we want, we want, we want.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tell Me That You Love Me, Baby Q

Another night with no phone call to come to the birthing center,
My daughter thinks maybe the placenta's gone rogue
My son-in-law undulates an arm, says "One-armed squid,"
we all laugh though my younger daughter, squeamish,
squeezes her face and makes retching noises. That belly
bulges enormous, baby maybe seven maybe nine pounds
and growing. My younger daughter's dog leaps at the bulge -
"Dogs do that," my daughter says. They want to get at
that little being. That little being we want to get at too.
Count those fingers and toes, snuffle that fuzzy head.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

That's what I'm talking about!

A poem that riffs on "Ballad of the Gypsy" by Langston Hughes written by a 7th grade boy, PERFORMED by the boy and two friends at the cafe reading - whose idea? THEIRS!

The teacher said she found the 8th graders clustered around a computer at lunch, thought, "They KNOW they aren't supposed to be playing video games," walked over, found they'd Googled "Bang Bang Outishly (for Monk)" by Amiri Baraka, which I'd had them listen to in class, and were listening to it. OH YEAH!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poem from Daily Crossword 5/26/09

Li Po, Tu Fu, the house of Usher
all those chimneys in their pots
as chins are cleft so treble clefs
will tremble violins, so we stove
the wall sides in. Osage oh Ohio
so all we had to do was Live?
Oh much that would have eased
to know when chaps were worn
and we cast in pantaloons amid
the rumpus and fear our ear
to track as others learning tap
trapped as we escaped by thread
a needle in a camel's eye, a plan
to set for tea or stoop for raid
and all you say to me is "I see."
Never hunt or fish, are urban,
never tendre croppes but items
on a shopping list, cars idle
so do we who peer down alleys
through corn rows to our van.

--

An auspicious day for Quinn to emerge. I was born on the 26th, Shawna was born on the 26th. It's the 26th.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Out my window, dogwood leans
towards rampant kiwi as I wade
into another May day. No pony
for me, one trick or no. No aria
that I can hear. No one will punt
for my points, point perfect toe
and pirhouette prettily. No pest
either or rampant turkeys
on the lawn we do not have. Ten
blinks of an eye. Another mocha.
Your life on Oprah. Hired, fired,
we're hard-wired tired. Oh tenor
Dyer Bennet when all is dire err
and nobody will notice. We span
eras in our careening bobsled.
Go back to bed. What's snapped
has sped. Deny them exit polling
Let's go bowling, eat limes to rind
no one left behind, the doors ajar.
---
Did I say that was a Daily Crossword poem (5/19/09)

--
And today at school we'll poem like ancient Greeks. Eek.
That is to say I'll rip up poems and have them make like experts, like antropological, archeological poetry experts recreating what's been lost like people, maybe poets, did for Sappho. So many ways this will be fun and not so educational but somewhat educational but hitting that other side of the brain, whichever it is, that is the creative, random side. I always forget because, well, you can guess. I'll ask the fifth and sixth graders what the 9 muses were for. That's always fun.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I googled "You are Here image" and got BOOKSHELVES!
I like them though I don't know how, except with rocket skates or suspensors, you get TO the books in the upper left photo.

After long absence, I return to this page, the time between a blurrrrrr of what the heck WAS I doing - putting together books and readings (one my own - at Hugo House with other WITS writers. I sent out no publicity. I am already sitting in a corner,) teaching at two schools, finishing work for two others. It's May, tra la, and while I have woodruff flowering in my garden, I have not gone a-Maying.

Here is a poem draft using the May 13 Daily Crossword. Ahem.

Be glad she'll have a girl, just think of Herod
NSync, Anvil, Woodstock, any band,
or any man with all their plans to blot
a blotch upon the sea or map. Let's evade
GI Joes and wonder if that skirt is boxy
do you want red velvet or the lemon?

--

Here's your chance, one out of ten
so let's begin your easy tosses
hit the running light on this vessel
or miss and we'll whistle and snort.
(abort)

---

Children gather 'round I'm gonna talk like Plato.
You know the joke. The notebooks all say "PlayDoh".
---

From out of where came this Miss Manners-
we do not like her make her leave.
--


Seventh graders wrote like Emily Dickinson yesterday.

Poem 3,462

To make a Poem
you Need a pencil and a Paper
and an - eraser
an Eraser alone - will Do
if paper is few.

-7th Grade Boy

---

The 4th, 5th and 6th graders
write odes to their drawings of Grecian Urns
and I say
More rainy May
more rainy, rainy May.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Daily Crossword Poem 4/24/09

Now that I've become a crone I hoard my cache
I used to scoff as only gone-before, ad hoc
junk that went and then the real that hid
would show and off I'd go like phoenix yawn.
As every hen will tell you no one stokes the fire
but you and if you won't your gruel be thin
your sorry life answers who you've been.
My father chafes when grandson calls his age
and rages I am young. Now there's a cautionary
tale. He's eighty five and still alive though bleery
eyed and fading as am I. So yes I've been twit
and haven't earned a swell obit but lest I bore
you my arms though heavy breach for shore.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

The hail unzips the sky with a sound between moan
and panic attack. My heart brattatats as I copy
notes into a smeared journal. Nothing today lulls
or consoles me. He says "it's not your money"
and I cower in my workroom but do not work.
What were these thirty two years if not to share
but he's too in despair to care he's wounded me
as he feels cornered without choices, all mine
meaningless when one can hurt the other with
few words and nothing but the pain is real.
It's not my money or my house and the car
outside hit by hail pellets is yellow but isn't mine.
I have no shoes on but if I had they would be his
not mine. None of it mine, though the law would
say they're mine or half. One shoe a half a car
the toothpaste tube but not the cap the withered
almonds on the pantry floor but not the door.
I hate days like these that pry the mouldings
from around the windows, tramp mud through
my, excuse me, his, rooms, show me my wishy-
washy self too frightened to stand up too angry
to run. I have no sword to sunder him limb
from limb no hatchet to chop a pound from
round his heart and he would say I've chopped
a pound from his or albatrossed his neck with
me and all my piddling need and greed and this
another screed we never agreed I'd write. It's
me, it's not alright. You're unhappy, you lash
and the floor's gone out from under the spinning
funhouse ride that turns me white and puking.
But I go to show you I won't give up or in and
I won't quit you or you me though how we got
here neither one can say a map between us
crumpled, torn, the roads rerouted, both
of us together and alone.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Saw/heard Sherman Alexie at Highline High School library this morning. He was wearing a dark suit, maybe blue, maybe black, but with a brilliant darker than sky lighter than navy blue shirt. He spoke to two groups of high school kids - I arrived at the tail end of the first presentation, lined up to speak with him, then stayed for the second, longer talk.

Saturday, April 04, 2009



Book Release/Book Signing event for The News from Chiloquin poetry anthology on Thursday afternoon. A highly successful event for those of us who were there. Hurrah!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Listen to me and Chiloquin H.S. junior Vanessa Longley being interviewed on Jefferson Public Radio - streaming tonight, April 1, 2009 (not an April Fools joke) at 8:45 (ish) pm. Once at the site, you'll see three tabs: Classics & News, Rhythm & News and News & Information. Click on News & Information. We were on Jefferson Exchange, with host Keith Henty. Our few minutes of chat and Vanessa reading one of her poems will be worth your effort! We speak about poetry, about Chiloquin, and about, it could be, much, much more. We were both dazed and adrenaline laden, having screeched into the studio just in time to make the interview. It was over before we'd finished arriving like so very much that is important in life.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Yusef Komunyaaka: The Voice
oh that's what I didn't hear in his poems,
the warmth and many harmonics sound
he makes with his chest and vocal cords.
He said his poem, "Anodyne", lifted head
out from the book wings, eyes closed,
and intoned his body love, this poet
who gave us the whine-bone in kindness
who Rebecca Hoogs introduced as
poet of accretions and additions
who sounded Bogalusan, Louisianan,
bluesy and much deeper than smart.
I'd only before known him as smart.
I closed my eyes, my ears drank tones
rocked in the arms of his poems.
(which are not easy-sweet my dear.)
A poem has to have content he said,
though he believes in vibrancy, will
speak about Phillis Wheatley, at
Callaloo at Washington U. Public
poet by twenty, dead before thirty two.
What do I have to show for my years?
How about you?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Live Imperfectly With Great Delight

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem (Sheffer, with the PI, is no more - at least on newsprint)

Ah sing to me of Cuzcos and of Limas
holy cities that to climb to abler
make it first. That's how it be. Ah bee
ah ant we celebrants do adore
thee also common sense took Paine
and he gobbled up the task, T Rex
of Americana. We bear witness,
give due to them that did or a
few who born to did not but were sane
(see Paine) and so sir octopus we begs
with our friend Nash. We love heroic
the stoic who lashed to spar
heard the beauty and did not die.
We worship command and master
and those who are faster. Toil at
the tedious they do not. They trot
and do not see us see the aster
in their button hole. Their reins
we've softened with our teeth
we live to worship then are gone.
Their deeds live on in texts dense
with unabated glory. Are we glad?
Ah yes we sing of him who opts in
and clank our casks of tepid ale,
smudges in the pub scene, tired.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In Flight From
for Icarus and Yusef Komunyaaka

Equilibrium is deadly dull
and when Icarus was young
he longed to loose labyrintine
rocks and hurl himself a path
across the sea. His father
the engineer balanced desire
with deeds, and as we know
Icarus did not heed his warnings
for his boyish greed for sky-high
play that repeats his story
still today.


RESILIENCE
for Lucille Clifton

Heel of my hand for backhoe
I scoop ants and flatten them,
swirl their ruined corpses
carelessly under the tap.

Spontaneous generation upon generation
spills in a single clandestine thread
along the baseboard from the door --
no matter that I kill some here come
more and more and more.


RESPITE
for William Butler Yeats

For I will arise and go now
to a cabin by a shore
where grape vines twine
through an arbor with a view
evenings loud with crickets
and nothing much to do.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Off to see the Lenin statue in Fremont today with a passel of sixth graders if a passel is twenty-some. We'll experience the statue with our five senses, writing from each of them for three minutes. We'll experience a Lenin statue presentation from aka which will further inform our poetry. Poems can be free verse or haiku or pantoum or nine line process poem style. The weather with luck will be dry enough that the words won't blur on the pages as though we wrote through tears, though through tears might be appropriate. How much do I tell them about Lenin the revolutionary leader who proved to be impervious to the suffering of his people? Do I tell him about the Moscow Red Square mausoleum where Shawna filed past his shrunken corpse wearing a red nightgown? We will eat lunch, 3" slices of sub sandwiches, apples, chips, juice boxes. We'll walk-hike-skip-bounce-lag our way from school to Fremont. Will we have time to stop by the Troll for comparison? Compare and contrast was quite large as a literary tool when I was in school. Isn't that what we mostly, naturally do?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Saw Jane Hirshfield last night - alighting from a car outside the Gibson Gallery in Seattle - the instantly recognizable hair. Inside the gallery where the reception was, she didn't need the nametag she was offered. I wore mine, with a little flag of cutout debris sticking out until Felicia Gonzales removed it for me. It was fun to be asked to come, and to talk with Jane and with Clare Molesworth who used to work at SAL but is now a practicing attorney! Yay! I remember her telling me that when she got to law school she "was excited to find so many people who think like me!" Here are some more !!!!'s. There. We're done. Oops, one more. I gave Jane a little book I made of poems written by some of my 8th grade poets at Hamilton incorporating lines from her poems, which she clutched to her chest and squirreled away in her bag!

Her reading style of hyper-enunciation which had turned me off on the online video did not detract from her poems in person. I like her, I like her poems, I enjoyed her reading. And that's probably enough with the I as well.

Rebecca Hoogs, the fashion front for poetry in Seattle, wore a sprightly gray dress with a skinny slip of a sweater with prominent round clasps and rasperry tights with gray heeled pumps to emcee. (Obviously she looked terrific.) Kathleen Flenniken's 5th grade student Michaela read her metaphorically veined poem to start things off. Michaela wrote that she felt like a cake topper set in her favorite place. One of my students will read something to begin Naomi Shihab Nye's second reading on May 8 in this series. Will it be the Palestinian-American girl who loves Naomi Shihab Nye? Stay tuned.

The q&a section began with Rebecca opening a water bottle and asking Jane if she wanted some. "Cheers" Jane said, they clinked plastic cups, and Jane settled back in her chair. "You didn't know; it's gin," she said. "Who knew Jane Hirshfield was so wild?" Rebecca said breezily to the crowd, and the q&a was off.


3/10/09 NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE POEM DRAFT

What counts are not the thoughts but acts,
Who were the first to cache their bras?
Will you run pall mall across the Abbey?
Asking me for $2, she says she makes a meal
with something like top ramen very hot, each
bowl "guaranteed to keep me warm" I quote.
Outside the auditorium a woman asks, which
did you see? She's looking at the sympony, two
posters - very grand - I saw the poet, ye gods
disappointment as she waited for the bus.
Bernie Utz Hats - man atilt in the doorway divot
settling in for the night, he jumped a little as
I jumped, delicate dance of privacy by urban
display. Is this a permanent wave
new Hoovertown between third and sixth?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Does anyone know if Ayda Al-Jahani is still in the running for best poet title on "Millions' Poet" the Abu Dhabi TV reality show? She (yes SHE!) made it to round 3 - A Beduin woman who resisted pressure to quit, whose husband supports her, and whose poems celebrate womens' value. See the video on YouTube. There are TWO reality shows with POETS competing for prizes on Abu Dhabi TV - The Prince of Poets as well as Millions' Poet.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A GROWN UP GIRL PICKS UP THE ICARUS
TALE FOLLOWING THE GROWN UP BOYS
AUDEN KOMUNYAAKA OVID & WC WILLIAMS


Equilibrium like comfort can be deadly
dull. When Icarus was young he
longed to topple it -- loose labyrintine
rocks and hurl himself a path
across the sea. His father the engineer
balanced desire with deeds and
as we know, Icarus did not heed his
warnings for his boyish greed for
sky-high play that repeats his story today.

Monday, March 09, 2009

PRETEND
for Buddy Wakefield

Pretend the 6th graders in this room have the power
to slash lies with their pens.
Pretend they can use this power even when their
super suits are at the cleaners.
Pretend you can do the math and multiply this room
to get 7 billion.
Pretend every one of the 7 billion is writing a poem
right now - the whole entire planet - grammas
and tiny tiny babies bent over notebooks with the truth
spilling across unlined paper in every color you've
ever imagined.
Pretend we strung a line and hung every single one
of these fact sheet truths on that one line and that
we spent the rest of our lives reading them - time out
for community gardens, fishing, learning folksongs
around campfires - then back to the clothesline. All
our lives. Every written word, every rising sun heard.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I'm trying to embed fonts into a .pdf file, and this is way way out of my comfort zone, skill set, and identity profile. I look up tools on the internet, then I go downstairs and make tea. I chew the inside of my cheek. This is not helping anything, and it will be embarrassing for the dentist to notice, which I'm sure he's already noticed and politely not said anything. What do you say? "Hey, I notice that not only do you grind your teeth. but you also chew into the sides of your face - should I make you a permanent tooth guard? No big deal, we'll just have a j-tube installed into your stomach for eating, or I guess you could suck through a straw, though I'm a little worried what damage you could do to yourself with that."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February 24 Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

We pass samples of divinity and swirled fudge with demi-
tasse spoons beside the beach - to pay the rent our biz.
Where the sea exhibit used to be an Asian woman sews.
We like it here where salty sand and sun are our providers.
We've found what we believe and stay in sync and link
to what we love. Like sand dollars, we haven't any
need for what's away from shore. Sip your orange
drink honey, we're listening to Haydn.
Do you think you smite us with ahem?
Go sit beneath the shade, rub in your aloe.
You're in the shallows and there's nothing else to say


---

What I'm wondering this morning is if more parents have sent their children to private schools over the past 15 years or if children have as it were lost their fricking minds over this time? Sadly I think that lots of kids are on the brink of having lost the ability to think or do anything interior at all without someone riding them - I'm talking about middle schoolers who I've always felt would be happier and more productive on twelve hour a day wilderness work crews than in school. Can you believe I've written that someone can ride a child into experiencing an inner life? That won't work! But what it will do is quiet the exterior, separate the ants from one another, stop the constant outer whoosh outer babble outer give and take and take and take that dominates their daily lives. Or not. Where I am teaching now it's a delight to walk around the room and talk to kids from all over the world, this generation, this kid, from somewhere hundreds to thousands of miles away. This is part of the problem. How to reach kids whose grasp of the English language is tentative - and many who've had little education in that far off place so that even if our language were the same they'd be behind. And how is it tjat some teachers blow off classroom management entirely in a room where people need to know how big the playpen is? And where it isn't? A kid yesterday who'd been suspended for weeks came back - I remembered him from last year when he'd been in school a day or two at a time between suspensions. He did well in that other idyllic now I see classroom where the teacher sat beside him. Yesterday he left the room several times - SEVERAL TIMES - and the teacher at her computer didn't notice. Her one disciplinary gesture was to deny him a writing implement. "Didn't you prepare for school?" or "Why is it you didn't prepare to be in class?" OBVIOUSLY the kid has a knack for chaos - give him a pen, and don't let him leave the room!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fifteen Inch Ruler

Your excess length,
linear logic,
defers to whimsy,
your little recognized
talent as sockstand,
spitwad bat, oar.

How unlike the horse's
tooth is the nine-year-old's?
You count mysterious
increments.

Junk drawer multi tool,
I dip you into
peanut butter
and paint.

You are balacne beam,
fence post,
drumstick,
wait for secret messages
to wind about you.
Hoop skirted dervish
you are not.

Oh cobweb cutter,
baton, bulb planter,
hoe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Babies are everywhere these days, and dogs.
Do you miss your childhood?
Did you have one?
I send my greetings
and bleatings also.
Send me yours and we'll console ourselves.
Did the waiter send what you preferred?
I suspect everyone has thought
the grocery clerk added weight
or someone gulped your final breath.
I guess. But have we laughed?
Are we laughing?
pumping hands above the groaning table?
Punch the keys. There is delight in pain.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Within the hidden city I am an Inca
fearing for my heart, a corn ear per
beat, Spaniards oblivious encamped
facial hair beneath helmets fearsome
unused to llama feist and spit, fit
European bucklements far stranger
than carvings leading here we needn't
fear they'll read dumb as bows on knees
they've wet behind a jungle waltz
and all their schmaltz as nothing and
that soon so buckle up and buck up
head 'em out and do not leave your lard
our lives are hard but we have all we need.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Think of when you were a kid, chid
for dropping tongs, cuffed like a cub,

that's what it's all about at the rink
never permitted any noise at home

you are careful what words you use
hip high snow at ten in Cashmere

camping was a tin cup and a tirade
fir tops not the ceiling in your room

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Много спасибо для всего from http://babelfish.yahoo.com

many thanks to Naomi Shihab Nye


This latte in Seattle has a white swirl heart thanks
to the barista’s skill and attention.

At the Family Grocer in Chiloquin
the salesclerk scooped stale Folgers into the dented urn.

The house has not slid away thanks to the retaining wall
after the trees had fallen across 32nd Avenue East below.

We always loved the peppery scent of carnations
but they are odorless now so we ignore them.

Children have allergies and asthma thanks to people
Lake Chelan was more peaceful before the jetskis arrived.

What about the Ceiva frame? Thanks to its internet connection
we can see photos of Sassy taken today 300 miles away.

Thanks to Medgar Evers pool in the early morning.
Thanks to the warm sauna after an hour swim.

Bald eagles have been disappearing from Puget Sound
You are fortunate to see one as you cross the floating bridge.

Your heartbeat speeds fearsomely
that massive wingspan shadows your car.

Thanks to the gas fireplace we are still cozy.
Thanks to the buds of the Ivory Prince Lenten Rose below the sleeping dogwood.

-Laura Gamache
2/5/09

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Ah, it breaks my heart to hear the news from Chiloquin where seven out of thirteen teachers are incompetent, burned out, who cares what the reason, not teaching kids. Last year's graduating class of 36 sent 15 kids to college - 6 were still in school at the beginning of the second quarter or semester. Failure! Failure! Failure! If I yelled Fire! you'd run, Foul! you'd at least look. Failure! and we all curl into our fetal selves, turn seahorse in the silent sea of a filthy aquarium, immobilized by shame. And we should be ashamed of ourselves for abandoning children to the care of those who do not have the capacity to care, who do not try to teach. Oh, they're teaching something, these burn-outs, these cynical paycheck collectors, and you know the kids are learning what they teach.

What Incompetent Teachers Teach

So what your life expectancy is 35 -
you won't feel a thing beyond your teens.
Adulthood is the country of the dead.
Nobody cares about you.
Learning is not important.
YOU are not important.
You will be wronged.
You will not survive.

--
The Truth Without Flowers

If you open your heart it will break
but breaking open is what seed pods do
to receive water and air and light.

If you open your mind you'll hear lies
but you will learn to recognize truth
cracking open a book, or in a tender look.

See how the aspen thank the pines for
shelter - waving their green then golden
then again green hands in gratitude.

This fierce place with its buildings boarded
patrolled by raptors, where the rivers
bubble from under the bellies of rocks

is yours but not all that you own. Others
raise their hand to you, refuse to guide
you, but you get up every morning
alive, your heart urging you forward.
I cannot conceive boots marching through Gaza
having cupped the secret curve of your instep.

Bulldozers raze dust that hides what they raze
as I cradle a cool lemon in my palm to zest.

I cannot comprehend news of this new old war.
I map with a finger the dried tracing of a tear.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

2/3/09 Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft
A LOVE POEM

your fingers patter at your cell
Chicken Little to my hen
Yo Yo to my Yeon-Hee oboe
I'm dizzy as a head cold
no noz me with more olla
oh yeah, even cards or odd
crinoline slip do si does not tit
for t'will not buy you bus
fare, Kia for your Audi
I'd trick to buy your gas
offer peony and stock
valentine box a heart bleed
my need a greased pig, eel
uber moon for you in bad
or beefsteak.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 31 Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

High in the ramparts he yells, "Serf's up!"
English king hates everybody, Imams,
witches, whatyagonnado but go all out
which serfs do, not to negate
or make them any deader
plunging from above a newsy header
magic middle ages rise off pages, let
imaginations wallow warrens legit
under stone cutouts sunlight min-
imum downstairs. Will we get even?
Stevenson or Charlotte with the web
the castle or the palace of the rani
not do over not recorded not reset
a pox, Black Death, a fishing license
finder's fee of how this west was won.
Oh posh and fie oh black tooth tabby
stones askew akimbo you misstep
who leapt this one time only
holy moley all time jolly on the urn
Walt's lilac fragrance by the stoop
yawp the rooftops say I do
Lemmings lean towards their leader
I conjure them cuz I'm a reader.