Thursday, December 09, 2010

The first of two days filled with poetry readings.
Poetry Alter Egos Ruled
Boys in Sharpee mustaches
A girl who read in a British accent
One boy with a mandolin as prop (he doesn't play, he told us.)
Another in hat and dark glasses.

I saw one boy in the hallway before class,
asked how he was doing. He told me he'd
been up late choosing poetry alter ego outfits
there were ten to choose from in his backpack
he didn't know which would win out.

And the poems were vividly imagined,
bristling with detail, metaphor and music.
The last reader of the day approached
the poetry chair with high seriousness.
He'd dressed up - shirt, sweater, tie.
He looked at each of us around the circle,
cleared his throat and totally blew
his cover, collapsing in laughter as he
spoke his title: "Spoon."

He returned to focus, though
his audience had begun to chuckle -
a call and response of silliness
through the poem - a ghazal,
a pretty danged real one.

One girl pointed out after that while
we'd been golf clapping, snapping
and jazz hands responding, politely,
to everyone before - he received
a full-handed roar of applause.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I sit in the throne at Memory's Vault
that faces salt water
from where the wind comes whooshing
high above my head
though I sit on this promontory
near the high bunker
and sighting place for wars
though no war ever came here
so the winds are free
to sail above me innocent as stars.
Grey clouds travel north.
The light-boughed evergreens wave to them
as I gesture at this page.
The wind grows insistent.
I know what it wants.


A raptor flew in front of me
as I walked the narrow woods path.
It landed in a Douglas fir
across the road
What a big head, I thought.
I longed for sharper vision.
I stood where I was.
It gripped the branch,
swiveled its head to assess me.
It's flight had been low and looping.
It's feathers reminded me of a red-tailed hawk.
The gift of solitude in the thin light, 8 am.
In Laugharne I saw Dylan Thomas's castle
brown as owls, and now I've seen an owl.

Monday, December 06, 2010

All day at school writing

All day today we wrote pantoums:
pantoums about soccer, football, basketball,
about violin playing and cello,
about the beach from the town on the bay,

Pantoums about soccer, football, basketball,
including sports vocabulary
about the beach from the town on the bay,
creature identification and sensory details.

Including sports vocabulary
the rigorous time management for sailing
creature identification and sensory details
and one condemning pantoum and limerick

the rigorous time management for sailing,
violin playing and cello,
and one condemning pantoum and limerick
all day at school we wrote pantoums.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

I've just read a kitchen implement poem by Ginger Bread,
so I know the idea of poetry nom de plumes and alter egos
has hit at least one home here at the middle school where
the library holds stuffed shelves of poetry books, and
good ones. Naomi Shihab Nye's collections - This Same Sky,
I Get a Little Jumpy Around You, and the Emily Dickinson
volume in the poetry for young people series. Culture
begets Culture. For two weeks, four poets are holding
workshops, one each in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades;
the poetry tide is flowing, where kids' poems already
pulse with life on the pod walls. Culture and more culture.
The literacy coach says a local poet comes with a visual
artist, so there's interplay of word and image where
I may have mentioned culture begets culture, and kids
believe in words. And art. And possibility. It isn't fair.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The other poet here at school - I love that - the other poet -
there are four of us in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades,
each assigned a level, if not our own level. The poet working with
the elegant fifth graders (they are always elegant people,
fifth graders) had them make up poetry alter ego names -
Citrus Village, Odile Peppermint - I stole the idea today,
and Indigo Despar, O. Snap, Bob Hamburgers, and Pashmina
Windchimes will be saying what their Clark Kent counterparts
might fear to utter, endowed with poetry's super abilities
beyond those of mortal men, leaping the tall edifices of our
own making, traveling faster than speeding alliteration
and thowing down figurative language like miles of new track.
Here's to more new track.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

a man in the room intones "dark, darkness, dark, dark, dark."
"See what I'm saying there - it's not incorrect usage, none
of this is incorrect. Darkness of soul. Various degrees of
darkness. There is physical darkness. Capability is more
like," and he gets quiet. "You are capable,... but a capacity
shares an etymology but has a subtle difference, do
you see?" Moments ago he was discussing Plato, how
Socrates and Xenophon (is that right?) are the only reasons
we know what Plato said. He is talking with a student,
reading over his essay, and getting the kid to cop to what
he's miswritten that needs review. "I think we want to say,"
he continues, and I stop listening. The boy is not a we
and the teacher did not write the paper. And now there's
an exploration of the word "ire" which the boy has used
as an adjective. "In the adjectival sense," says the teacher.
The boy asks what ire means. He thought it had to do with --
did I hear this right? -- the pyramids. "There's something
bad about," the teacher says. "There's nothing wrong, but
you can do so much much better." The essay is about Poe,
for whom ire would be a suitable noun, along with oddness.
The boy has claimed "Poe used odd actions to ask questions."
"He's not using actions," the teacher says, "Right?"
The tutor/tutee byplay fascinates me. "Do you ever have
questions outside you?" asks the teacher. "That's a tautology."
And this may require an apology - it certainly would if
I were to parrot this way out loud, which may be one
reason to write. Nobody gets hurt. "Spell for me correctly,"
the tutor says. "In this lady's soul." What if you now
have a plurality of ladies, a pluralities of souls?" This is
a high school boy; the tutor is dressed as though he
may have been transplanted from 1910. This brick walled
basement coffee wine bar has been here that long. Maybe
he appears in low light and can never leave the room. He
never eats or sleeps and if the boy watched carefully
he'd never see a breath received or exhaled, relieved.
"Nevertheless is one word," says the tutor, "all one word
like nonetheless." A pause. "Do you understand?"

Monday, November 29, 2010

A ferryboat ride, a 59 mile drive, and poof!
I'm away from home for two weeks more.
All by myself in a three bedroom cabin
with a baby grand piano in the living room
and all my sheet music left at home.
I've met the teacher, we've planned, and
I've bought an adaptor plug so my three
prong printer cable can couple with the two
prong outlet in the living room with its
fresh funky fifties look - hi fi and wine bar,
a pair of love seats facing one another
and no other to take this in with, just me.
I sit upstairs in the wi fi zone at the grocery
store, having bolted a plastic tray of sushi.
Outside the wind wails and licks the walls.
I have a space heater and extra blanket
in my car. Road warrior, poet for hire.
I hope I'll inspire desire to to wander
paper in a new way. But hey! The day's
almost over and it's time to pack it all
back to the fort, hold court in any of my
three bedrooms, read INFINITE JEST
and rest up to rock them nuts for poems

Monday, November 22, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggety jiggety
jittery so many too many things to do
and confusing too
so many needs and piles and undone whatnots
so much to put away
so many things I took too many things I cannot throw away
I fear I'll become the woman in the housedress
stuck in the doorway, pushed out of her home
by her own accumulated indecision.
So, nuclear fission has not bearing here
no memorized atomic weights can
measure this sky that wafts benevolent snow
so I know the world has kindness even as I feel bound
by what I do not know or want or have a word for.
I sit and stare and that's what I'm the best at.
I long for my remote tree stump, owl pellet
beside me in tall grass, a shallow lake lapping
cow manure and sulfur aroma no concern of mine.
Though his and her and her and his concerns
concern me even as I fail to discern what to do.
What to do is to do and live with what comes
for the time I have to live with what comes.
"Come," Quinn says, as we wait outside.
We watch bright koi swim the shallow pool
by the nursery cafe. The camel and donkey
greet us happily though a worker says
watch out, the camel snatches hats.
The reindeer lie with backs to us
imagining home in Lappland. They don't
look like they could fly. They may
want to try, they don't seem happy here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What have I learned about myself here
on the mucky shores of Agency Lake?
What do I take home? What will I use?
A gratitude that I do not live apart
but inside a family. Seattle's fertile
lowland. Dark, damp and fecund.
I am grateful for diligence, patience,
and forgive myself for practicing each
with desultory lack of discipline.
I have some intentions and resolutions
to pack home.

I'm dreamy after a farewell swim
at Ella Redkey Pool where I never
swam in snow. I did swim in 85 degree
water today under sunny skies, maybe
air temperature in the high forties.
Finishing my laps, I floated in gratitude
and then when indoors to shower
under the one replacement showerhead.

I spent a long time reading Mark Doty
this morning. His "Theory of" poems
from FIRE TO FIRE. "Theory of
Incompletion" made me involuuntarily
say, ah.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Self-Portrait in a Borrowed Town

A poem can have dense undergrowth
like west of the pass, or its trees can rise
out of a forest floor with little but
owl pellets for distraction - a stark relief.

Time's instruments are wind chime,
hammer, kiwi and small child.
Baby Quinn holds the ball with two hands,
nine and three, like she held the biggest
tomato growing in the oak barrel.

On the brown couch aslant from the window
an Agency Lake view between the poplars.
I can be murky and miserable as my mother
as ebullient as any grebe. I sit alone
in this borrowed cabin on this borrowed couch.
I don't see the big bald in the big poplar
but I saw three on power poles above
the railroad tracks beside Upper Klamath Lake
on the way to K Falls, and a lone egret
leaning forward in a field.

Clouds settle over the Klamaths, like
a soothing blanket drawn up to your chin,
warming and quieting this worrisome world.
Walking the beach this morning
to small plane drone, the water flat
as melted margarine. When the sun was
done with the hot pink fun of breaking
the horizon the hills dulled lighter than
themselves as though this new day
had already taxed their energy, fading

I watched through binoculars as
a Townsend's Solitaire foraged
for insects on the poplar trunk, picking
them off as the Birds of Oregon said
they do though the size may have been
wrong and my bird was definitely
darker than the drawing. Was it
a Flicker? Absolutely not. I despair
of ever gaining confidence I know
what I am seeing when I am
watching birds. A gang of the same
kind of bird - two, then
three, four, fall like leaves, land,
and move up the tree. They
have to be Flickers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Give me this day, my daily silence
in which to flourish and dash
into a poem or the tall grass
towards the road where the jack rabbit
flexes her awkward back legs,
toward the lake over which
a lone heron wings south with perfect
pointed toes, as if to attone
for wrenching herself out of the willow
like an arthritic old man haltingly
up from the couch in the TV room.

What can I offer this morning?
A yellow mug of coffee gritty
from the loose seal on the ten dollar
French Press. This bruised pomegranate
plucked from the slowly dwindling pile
at Fred Meyer, the best grapes
of my life from Thunderbird.

Sixty-five percent of heart cells
are not muscular but neural,
hard wired to your brain.
The heart exudes a magnetic field
that pulses nine feet
on every side of you.
You are rooted nine feet
into the earth that generously
allows you to move. When
you astral-project, you're
grounded if you keep
your projection

When you die you are greeted
at the door of the former brothel,
given a scepter and a salt shaker
filled with moments from your life.
You use the scepter to hold
your book place when you rise
from your reading chair to answer
the door or, to be discreet,
run an errand. The salt shaker
you guard with your life
until you get your life is past.
This may take forever.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Bruce loved the woods in every season
and we loved how he narrated jags
of mushroom hunting spring and fall --
morels, puffballs, boletes, musical
exotics. Mycology classes at the U
were legendary for amenitas
and impossible to get in. Death-frisson --
never eat what you do not know
and though I'd eaten the Prince
from my own front yard every fungus
pulsed with poison the way lit sparklers
promised hyper-heated injury.
I didn't fear tainted oysters though
an oyster mushroom meant
an automatic no. He took us hunting
chantarelles in the hills east
of Sedro Wooley and the UFO sightings.
Once within Doug firs and hemlocks,
feet sucking diff, he disappeared.
We peered and peered in the constant
drizzle of a mountain stream,
the still mountain air, until first one
and then the other bent under
protective evergreen boughs,
saw chantarelles - orangish, slightly
concave, wavy-edged like carousels,
each bloom a certainty. We bent
their stems and popped them free,
collected fruiting bodies into a Safeway
bag gritty as extra-fine sandpaper.
When Bruce returned we too
bragged and went silent when
he asked where. We hauled
our labors back to the car, gloved
hands clumped with the musky
scent of earth. Years later I stand
in the produce department,
a whole cooled section heaped
with chantarelles for a princely sum,
but I hold close where ours came from.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

I return to the house after two days away
the entry smells sweet and earthy
the pears I had gathered and not yet
eaten - their hard bodies gone brown
and too soft. I hold them gently
so as not to burst their fragile skins,
toss each underhand into the yard
for ground squirrels, the jackrabbit.
I close the door against knowing.

In the refrigerator tarragon crisped
in its shallow plastic sleeve - I crumble
it and its licorice heart lofts as I heave
it too into the tall grass. I imagine it
rooting next spring - a botanical
impossibility. Imagination is not bound
by physical law. I love it though
I shove it into every closet I meet.

The pears never were Whole Foods
beauty queens. This altitude permits
but rocky stone fruit small as a toddler
fist when she's found a penny prize
we will pry away.

The growing season is short
and we're short on water. My
Klamath friend writes drought poems,
I wander the shrunken wetland
too shallow for water birds but rife
with dragonflies, raptors squatting
high in the aspens.

No egrets lean forward impossibly
in the rye fields beside 97 as I drive
south to Klamath Falls. Red tailed
hawks finial the fence posts scraggly
and bereft. Or maybe that's me.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

No whiners in our group this year - everyone, even
the girl who has recently dislocated her knee manned
up as we walked the many stairs of the COCC campus.

Jimmy Santiago Baca spoke at 4pm on Thursday
and I was distracted by his hat and his birth year.
He is younger than me - born in 52 to my 51.
I was distracted by the section filled with kids
in military fatigues with their teacher in a green
shirt who, like me, bought the English/Spanish
side by side book of Santiago Baca's poems.
I was distracted by the guy from the Native
American and Latin American club who was
mad last year that we only had two Native
American kids with us, and no Chicanos. In
the Q&A he asked Jimmy about keeping his
traditional ways. "I have no traditional ways,"
Jimmy said. "My grandmother told us nothing."
Did the questioner seethe? I was distracted
by Santiago Baca's assumption that COCC
teachers would demean Chicano writers while
prestigious institutions make their students
read brown writers. Did he say Chicano?
I was distracted by wondering what my
non-demonstrative students were thinking.
I was distracted by Jimmy beginning with
asking audience members what they thought
he meant by his talk title "Breaking Bread
with the Darkness". Because I wanted him to give
to these kids who had come from the margins.
He talked about being shoved to the margin,
refusing to stay there, submissive and invisible,
and here were these eight kids from the margin
who heard a woman comment - someone
always asserts, to be seen by the speaker, at
readings by good writers - that people who
most should be at his talk aren't at his talk
because it cost $35, which would be a valid
point except that these eight kids were there
because a NOW board member had donated
money for their tickets. They wouldn't have
been there at $35/each. I stared at the back
of her head in a mean way for a little while.

As we left Bend last night, at intermission
of the reading - three kids take SATs today,
another's family is going out of town - three
stiltwalkers loomed along the sidewalk
past the van. "I don't want to leave Bend!"
one of the kids cried. The street teemed
with people - 8:30 pm - art walk night -
two of the girls had run from their seats
before the reading - 15 minutes to spare -
to listen to a singer at a little restaurant.
"She was amazing!" they sighed, taking
their seats in time for Michael Dickman,
who three of the girls want to marry.
Barry Lopez intoned sagely from the aircraft
of his gorgeous writing over geographies
he has visited on this planet. I was
entranced, the kids and teacher were
bored. "He has good writing ability,"
one of the boys said, "but there were
too many cookies." Oh how I love these guys.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Off to Bend for The Nature of Words with eight high school students. We'll see Jimmy Santiago Baca, Michael Dickman, Anne Lamott, Barry Lopez. We'll eat pizza and spaghetti! We'll sleep on the floor! (but in a great house!) TWO days! Two big readings! One lecture! (Baca)

What if I just lie on the floor till then? Whoops! I'll be lying on the floor tomorrow night! But, I'll have miles below my wheels and poetry in my head. I hope the kids love it, I hope the kids love it!

Gotta teach 2.5 periods before we leave - it'll be thematically related! Jimmy Santiago Baca poems! Michael Dickman poems!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Snowline halfway up my driveway
Snow sifting from sky in Chiloquin
supplanting rain, though I saw
the waning gibbous moon night
before last awake (the both of us)
about two am.

Taking ten students to Bend
not the girl braiding the other's hair
and not the boys sharing an iPod
perhaps the boy who offered me
a shiv for free jokingly. The girl
whose poem made me cry
had better apply, and the one
I hope is not pregnant.

We read two poems by Jimmy
Santiago Baca and my thought
after the teacher left the room
to have the principal sign
her loan forgiveness documents
and the students took that
as sign that playtime had begun
my thought was what gives?
my thought was why am I here
when I'm so lonely the tears
leapt out of my eyes looking
at the one deeply good poem
written in the room as I walked
desk to desk pretending
I didn't notice their disrespect
and felt useless. Jimmy wrote
in "This Day" to get silly
as robins fussing in the bough
hanging over the ditch.
I'm on it, on it on it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rain raining all around in the Klamath Basin
on the shores of Agency Lake
on 97 driving to Klamath Falls
into my kitchen
pooching out the wall
discoloring the cabinet top.
I will never use the GFI outlet
sweating with rain water.
I go outside and stare at the roof
there's a seam where shed roof
meets peaked roof
where the rain gets in
I open the door after midnight
as rain whaps against the ground
the blue tarp that covers the woodpile
my yellow car camoflaged with leaves
the rain sounds like duck hunter rifles
the rain paints fresh yellow
on the yellow path to the lake
the rain sends me maudlin messages
it reminds me of being eleven
hearing The Cascades "Listen
to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain"
on my radio in Seattle
they were from Seattle
rain and Seattle on the radio
famous and about what I saw
out my window, what a fool I'd been,
yes, a fool and I could write that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No Stopping the Breakage

Clear Pyrex dish that fit my palm -
it's gone. I jarred the drainer
lifting plates.

I held the wine glass delicately
to rinse. It dissolved
within my fingers.

Bisqueware plate separated
along the crack that had held -
possibly for years.

Be careful, I say to myself,
you're accident prone,
yet every thing will break
from us, and every one.

Pain in my thumb fades
till I forget hefting the pole
that punched sudden blood.

I could show you the scar,
but let me delight as my granddaughter
chirps "shoe!" across 400 miles.

Wreckage smolders in far-off countries,
behind others' doors,
in my own heart.

I believe in the flying buttress,
key stone, all that holds what rises,
precarious. We are all precarious.

10/21/10 draft

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A weekend in Ashland with my crutch-hobbled honey
Stage craft, stage dressing, the Angus Bowmer Theater
transformed from Elsinore to Hungarian Parfumerie
to Austen drawing room to feudal Japan.
Hamlet hamming it up as a haughty head waiter
later in the week, a 10 hour drive to the coast
for fish and chips at The Crazy Norwegian
where we wished Otto alive so we could bring
him home a cap to wear till it fell to bits, Crazy
Norwegian. Minus Jim I'm back to Chiloquin
where my cabin was chilly though the late afternoon
sun flattened the lake like butter. Pelicans have
flown, the lake pocked with anonymous ducks.
This week's schedule is skewed again - the teacher
says last week was a waste and this week too.
The kids fly up like shore birds, flitty, lost,
chatty gossiping goslings pecking one another's
feathers unfettered from a regular day. Thursday
and Friday they'll have no school - conferences
and teacher day to prepare, kids away so they're
away proactively today. I swayed a few
towards Whitman and Thoreau - who knows
what pens can find in fifteen minutes' time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

First fire two nights ago - I set it perfectly
thought nothing about that, till this morning's
fire fizzled and took buttressing and patience
to ignite. A friend split the wood for me - I
cannot lift the axe that leans against shed wall,
its head free moving in the handle. He
said "where'd this ponderosa come from?"
I didn't know, but I envied that discernment.

Have I set any fires at school? Two junior boys
are writing quotes by themselves to the quotes
I ask the kids to copy. Today is "I'd rather
learn from one bird how to sing/ than teach
500 stars how not to shine." -e.e. cummings.
My number may be wrong.

"I will be remembered long after my death."
is the gist of the quotes, both I hope fervent.
I hope the deaths are far away.

The football team rides crutches, wears splints -
is every one of them injured?

Homecoming Theme is "Night on Bourbon Street."
SIGH. A girl asked my permission to skip class
to work on the senior hall. The teacher asked
me to make them sit through the dismissal bell.
I said, "You do that." But nicer than that.

Back I hope to setting a few kids on fire.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Some days the log in protocols are too much
I stare at this same box - don't you remember me?
Far from home my identity is slippery, pourous,
as liftable as the fog above the lake. I make
mistakes - want validation from my machine.
Perhaps the vaccuum cleaner handle behind
the couch can verify who I am. Simpson sky
this could be Springfield. Somebody's calzone
smells overdone here at the coffee shop. My
students' final drafts sit in the car; I sit here.

Outside after six, my friends the great horned
owls spoke haltingly as I swept the steps.
A large bird waded by the stick that when
reflected later in the day looks like a wishbone.
I tripped on a rock which sent the bird aloft.
I'd wanted to sneak to my outdoor seat
to watch it drowse and rise. I set my pillow
on the log and waited, concentrated on my
breath, or tried - a large bird flew past, low,
I think it was an owl. Two geese conversed
somewhere in the tall grass behind me,
they flew too. The sky flamed a pink so
provocatively alive it frizzled my eyes.
Soon the white pelicans will get the telegram
from their bones or bellies and fly away.
Yesterday none visible near my house,
though a dozen rafted near Modoc Point Road
among the wocus pods.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

in the locker room at the pool where we swim outside
in suits and now shower, nude, the woman across from me
says, "joy is the antidote to sorrows." Then she says, "if
you want to save the world, do something that gives you
joy and happiness expands into the world." We'd been
swimming, which, she said, gave her joy. It buoys me
up and up like the giggles of this little girl at the next
table. Joy to the world. It smells of skunk in this cafe,
which bodes well, the old timers say, for a hard winter,
which we need, here in drought country with the
biggest lake west of the Mississippi right beside us.
My swim friend says swimming at the outdoor pool
is even better when it's snowing. "Put your towel in a bag,
turn your flip flops upside down on the deck and swim."
Snow pats your back like a friend, the geothermal
heated water makes "you feel like you're in the ritziest
ski resort in the west." 32 degrees f predicted for tonight,
we could be near to snow. I'll get in the car and go

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A weekend of poetry abundance
reading and workshop with Paulann
poet laureate of Oregon, former
resident of Klamath Falls,
almost instant friend.
Generous heir of the position
begun by William Stafford,
some straight-ahead shoes
to fill. And Doug Erickson
Special Collections and Archive
Librarian at Lewis & Clark,
who recorded twenty four
Chiloquin High School poets
for Oregon Poetic Voices
online archive, thanks to you!
Here's to abundance, I lift
my Black Buffalo coffee mug.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sitting in the K Falls Library with ee cummings, Emily Dickinson and the Dickman twins. I've closed Michael's "The End of the West," a poem too raw to let me rummage through like I
usually do. He's brave, this brother. Matthew is more Whitmanesque, protective of
his readers. Michael's more f*(& you, this happened. Oh. What happened yesterday 7th period
(and I thought I was over this but apparently not, I can't stop telling anybody) was a direct
punch to the face, aslant only in that the wielder of the blow was shorter than the receiver. How hair trigger how match to sparkler how falling star fast what happened IS.
I said, "This has to stop." I said, "Stop!" My voice pitched low, I lunged towards what was now a bear hug, the room afire with adrenaline and desire for this to escalate. A troubled class,
ten boys. And where was the certified teacher? And what does a poet know to do?
I knew one thing: this had to stop. I made the boys separate. It stopped. The punchee energized and giddy, the puncher laid his head on the desk partly hidden by his jacket, the room awash in racket that lifted like geese, laboriously and continuously, the rest of the period.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BANNED BOOKS WEEK here in the Klamath Basin.
I photocopied pages of the story 9th graders read
and had to write 5 paragraph essays about. Handed
them the pages, handed them Sharpees. Had them
make BLACKOUT POEMS. Amazing to me that
some didn't wield sharpees, but all gave them back
today. I borrowed 9 from the office, need to give
those back. I prefer to be the endless font
of whatever you want, but physical resources
are limited. "Can I have a quarter?" Jeremy asked
at break. "I don't have any money," I said, then
checked the zippered pocket of my teaching bag.
"Nope. Sorry." He wanted to buy a muffin.
I wanted to give him a quarter. And a million
Sharpees and a good life and dental work.
There is so much more to school than school.
There are germs in the air boring into ears
I'm not talking about microbes. Or earbuds.
I don't even know what I'm talking about,
though my nose hairs detect toxins, head
throbs. Come on, just wield that sharpee over
the page. If you don't know what you're doing
GREAT - please, don't know what you're
doing, it'll be more interesting. Substitute
not too awful, ponytail down his back, my age.
He wants to be a writer, to write a novel or
poems, he could if he had time. "It's all about
showing up at the writing table," I said.
He comes from a family of professional
musicians, can't tune, he said, the radio,
but spent did he say four or forty years
studying math? How come it's all about us
adults and not the kids with the sharpees
on their desks, talking about homecoming?
Nostos is Greek for homecoming, Nostoc
is the genus name for mare's eggs. I saw
thousands of Nostoc yesterday from
my kayak on Spring Creek, held three,
broke one open accidentally, like a water
balloon whamming against the patio floor.
No smell, the colony warty green orbs
dotting the rubbery substance filled
with water. Water bubbles from sand
or ash from I don't know where. The head
of the Creek is a dead end, Spring Creek
is fed by underground springs, like
some children must be to survive.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vagus Nerve - heard about it on NPR, wrote down "Vegas nerve"
because the commentator called it "The Wanderer".
I Googled (correctly spelled) vagus nerve and discovered
a TLA for a new way your life can be messed up by your body.
VNI, which is associated somehow with hiatal hernia,
and which made my eyes glaze. The Vagus Nerves, there
are two, interconnect your cranium with your vital organs.
The dictionary asked me to look up "vague" - which means
in addition to what you know something about wandering.
Uncertain, tentative, and the 9th graders chat and chat. Not ALL of them. It's important to walk around, to see what kids are doing with their assignment. It's important to remember that the loud kids aren't the whole class. It's important not to ignore T. It's important to remember what I love about the juniors. NO seniors. Sadly. I worked with them two years, will wave at them in the hall. Not as much history with the juniors, just last year, a smattering the year before. First days don't tend to be stellar. I feel ignored, sidelined. I am not magical, why does it matter that I come back/came back? What does the new teacher think? She can't talk during prep since she'll be subbing for a teacher who is not at school 6th period. They'll pay her "comp time" - "I'm not sure what that is," she says. After school, creative writing club. After fifth period I'll find a place for us to meet.

One 11th grade boy wrote a poem for his recipe for a fiction stew. It contained a great line, and then a very poor line. He read it aloud to the group while part of the group hung over each other's desks and chatted, as though we weren't doing anything worthy of their attention. Are we doing something worthy of their attention? My reverence for fiction, for the word, for the possibilities reading and writing can bring comes up against the kid who says, "I do not write." He copied the Four Truths for Writers onto his folder. He doesn't do ORIGINAL writing. He doesn't care if he flunks, is daring me to be upset. "I don't care," I say, as I always say. At this school if I made it my mission to capture everyone who says "I won't!" I wouldn't have time for the kids who write. Which saddens me.

Favorite word lists? Forbidden word lists? No more sex or peyote or smoking bowl stories - that last cleverly disguised by the bowl being smoked containing "skunk". I didn't play acronymble with anyone. Let's do that with 10th grade. I taught them last spring.

There were hilariously imagined scenes in a few of the stories, and of course B.'s was deep, long and ended gracefully, though the ending was neither neat nor happy. So glad to give her space to write.

If I am true to teaching writing, I will love writing in public, I will stand up for good writing, and sing its praises, I will read my own writing with gusto even if kids don't have the manners to pay attention. If I am going to go into the classroom, I have to remember where I set my pen and my water bottle and who genuinely wants my attention. It is not my job to second guess whether my work is "good" - it is my job to do the work.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Road trip in rain, dark,
imposition of fog,
expulsion of breath,
inability to see increased
as grip on wheel.
No Kerouac, Jack Cassady,
just me in a yellow VW
hoping to pull in
to the La Quinta Inn
in Bend, Oregon.


White pelicans sighted
on Agency Lake, rain
has stopped, cumulous
billow above Campus Drug,
I sip a genuine latte
at Matteo's by OIT.

The man has left at last
who said, "what
they call child abuse, we
call discipline at my house,"
along with
his child who played
behind the half wall
by the table where I sit.

He invited his table companion
to Chiloquin to shoot guns
this weekend. Come on up!
Borrow my gun, or my wife's.

Train Mountain last night,
a fund raiser, where I rode
the little train, adults single
file on little padded seats
without sides - Cessna pilot
seats, they fold down
when not in use
which was nice
what with the rain.
Little towns and a full size
campground first come first
served where you can stay
all summer and volunteer
to work on the track and
the little towns in all scales,
the little deer and smaller
horses along the route,
the long tunnel we passed
through made from drain tiles.

The vegas nerve is called
"the wanderer" - its branches
wander all over the body.

Magpies this morning, two
sea gulls as I drove along
North Klamath Lake towards
town, a white egret in flight
with its ankles tight together
trailing behind.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I've sacked my stock of readers

and see my followers decline

am I in decline here on the fainting

couch, lumbering towards what?

Jets ply sky above me, I've finished

THE HELP, and who am I to tell

anybody how to live or what to give

a rip about?

Fall in love three times a day

my poetry advice book counsels.

I write that down, but don't

take that crap from nobody.

Nobody can tell me what to do,

not even me. Books lean

along my shelf and I've gotta

come to myself before I leave

To do what good I can through

poetry. My love for words.

My joy in jostling them to make

them sing so I'll take wing.

See that's the thing so easy

to forget. That all the time

the things I love are smack

in front of me.



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for 8/14 on 8/17 in the Wallowas

Skate quickly over the soft spots
calculate often but smell the calla
edge your lawn and dream Egypt
believe Bach and Bartok, the basics
beset you, your dreams are knives
that skid or cut downhill like skis.
Identify skinks, forget the martins.
I think you forgot to count that lap.
In Renaissance we were beset by boils
the best of times for you Leona
Send your barbs aloft gentle angler
into this bone-cold stream. Drag
another river for the man, the van,
but he is somewhere dry, renamed.
Do not underestimate your demise
for I am bossy and not your son
Oh hon the fan blades pull me nicer
pass the ice and disregard the datum
it's a one or zero, not a two
and you are who I've gained.
Energy pulses, the egrets emit
nothing extraordinary, the oriole
does not live here, you are Aries
bow and all. Drop your shawl and call
your extraterrestrial minions.

A little bit garbled and odd, the above, as am I. Yesterday we drove from Pullman to Lewiston, Idaho, then up and up and then he stopped the car. I thought, "a lookout, yes!" Such a good idea, and I brought out my camera. He unhooked his bicycle from the rack, and rode the winding road to the bottom. And now we're in a coffee shop in Joseph, Oregon.

Yesterday we hiked up from Wallowa Lake - I led, I'd been here a month before, up the Joseph Trail, except I didn't take the right turn, and we hiked up and up, and the suspension bridge over the west fork of the Wallowa River did not materialize no matter how I willed it. We'd been walking more than two hours when I asked backpackers coming down the trail if the bridge was just ahead. No it wasn't, no matter how many details I singled out to inquire about. I so wanted Jim to see that bridge. The backpackers said there was a great lookout over the river about 35 meters ahead, so we went, and took pictures. We were planning to get up early this morning to hike up to stand on that suspension bridge, but when we woke up it was 8:35.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Draft for 8/9/10

This cloud with a black belly is not a liar
nor is the mechanism of the T-bar.

We got our fan mail at the flea market
the summer we went off the radar.

The sight of blood or is it beetroot
threw my steering wonky at the go carts

The answer to what ails you is a miter box
a half wine barrel full of bearded iris.

The lake is calm and then it roils
which spoils us when we should have reeled

We've healed and well-heeled study rim
behavior in Antarctica

Oh Spartacus your skirt is short and noisy
you grin like someone who could split the atom

when all we need is money for these cans.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The sky is hazy as if I've only my lazy eye
to see it, though both eyes are open, if
not attentive. Twenty miles uplake
the Rainbow Bridge fire is still burning,
the wind has gently turned so smoke
filters down like vague longing, like
insufficient desire, not the ravages
of fire. Our friends watched a cougar
lap at the lake between their house
and their garage. They say this has
changed them. Who has it changed
them? They are cautious already. Will
the dog never again be allowed out?
The apricots are gone, and the grapes
inadequately ripe. Tomatoes plump
in half wine barrels on the sunny side.
I nip the tips from basil crowns
that long to go bitter and to seed.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Poem with One Syllable Words
(except for the title)

"Scram!" I scream.
I mean, "come here."
I mean, "I love you."
I mean, "help!"

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I don't know who I am
so I Google the blanket octopus
that unfurls its Batman cape
and nods its ungainly head
another sci fi brainy alien

My daughter met manatees
at the boathouse in Miami,
they backfloated, drank
from the hose, slow-bodied,
drowsy-witted, the big one's
back striped by the blade
of a speed boat.

Two robins fight or court
I don't know them
A third flies in
below a cloud shaped
like a fish. The sky
is whitest behind the hill.
A fishing boat shifts
on the lake.
Mist moves away
from brightness.
Another bird produces
a tweet that repeats
that seems out of its control.
The robin stutter stops
across the points of light
that tip the grass blades
walks a step
two foot hops
stops. Drops beak, misses.

The breeze rises,
the sun a whole ball
separate from the hill.
The robin hunkers, dips its yellow beak,
misses again. I do that too.
Catch and release, yes, but
miss and release too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Old Crossword Puzzle Poetry Draft from 7/9/10

What define us are our acts
sitting in the shade with ades
or driving home in Larks
we stare into the night - there's Ursa
while elsewhere there's a crash in Ulster
and someone's found a shard of gneiss
under the refrigerator. How acidic
your ade, how tryingly
you shake shaggy head, so much ado
and you not even Kafka.
Oh sweet, oh entres nous
I left my change on Elm
this life this lemon not a test
what's best? Who knows? Toy
with blocks or check your lists
we try, we die, we break our necks
ah love ah life how genial
to watch the snake uncoil
to try or not to cope
to run like hell like Adam.
A baby's grin my alibi
your wisdom dusty as sage
and no ink in my pens.


Well trusty rusty that and on and on
we hanker more - what more lovely
than time and air in both my lungs?
And thus begun I wander willy nilly
cross this lit up screen - oh peanut, oh bean,
when you were green and all this world
our cloister - shucks kids, its so soon over
what more matterful than that my
days are full of you and sun beats down
and Mars grows daily closer.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Poem begun with a line by Emily Dickinson

Bring me the sunset in a cup
sunrise in a red lacquer bowl.
Bring me another day in which
to loll and listen, dig in the garden,
pluck apricots heated by sun,
bend forward to suck juice -
another namaste.
Bring me the clear August night
under a new moon, Milky Way
to wander past the Pleides and Mars.
Soon enough it's Autumn
the sky that wakes me deluded by fog.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for Thursday, July 8

He says the thoughts don't count, it's acts
that move the planet. I sip lemonade
as the sun gets out of the way for Ursa.
We've waxed ridiculous as we've sat
in lawn chairs or the sand. Entre nous
we've taxed each other tryingly
vying for right or the shinier toy.
Ah, girl and boy - (thank Kafka
for the cockroach). We dis-ease the elm
in flinging at each other - Errol
Sheik and sheik, nobody cowers
here. We butt heads like wrynecks.
Let's turn to thoughts, they're most congenial
and even if menial, beautifully uncoil
or roil inside so I appear to cope.
There's hope for us malingerers
I don't know exactly where. Oh Adam,
were you here and what's your alibi?
We stalk the sky where there's no sage
or any hope in clouds. Raise pens
and praise our luck - our words are sonic
and a tonic more trusty than a tsar.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for July 7. 2010

Did the Romans think in italic?
Did the shah?
Italians on the sea of blu,
and you all glorious and linear.
In Triest where we were held up
in the fantasy - not the eeriest -
I was so anxious
I couldn't even aim.
What's to gain except the pot?
why not serve the suava
or rot? If I was Kim
and you were Gunga Din
would we still wind up in Joliet?
Crepuscular or trepid
The hirsute eat more iron
Her suits required irons
Their curtains were chinz not iron
and me without Yvonne.
Walk on.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Beetle saga continues, with a probable happy ending.
I started it, uh, didn't start it two mornings ago.
My hypothesis - it was parked on too steep an incline
and couldn't get fuel. Jim called our mechanic and lo,
the mechanic thought the same. Jim parked it on the flat
and no action. We left it to the alchemy of time and
played with our weekend guests. This morning Jim
came inside and said, "Guess what?" He had taken
the front of the car in his two hands, shaken it vigorously
and then the car - STARTED! I've just driven over
the pass, uneventfully, and am now going to drop it
at our mechanic's for diagnostic testing and the various
voodoo the computerized hoo hah puts the car through.
Right now I'm having coffee in the horrifying too-muchness
of the Bellevue Whole Foods. Jim's in a meeting
and I don't want to sit in the car all alone as darkness falls
out there in car fixing land.

AHHH, to go home and rip open the envelopes from
the held mail and clean the house and then head south
and east and east and east to Summer Fishtrap!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Life is more than slaps and jabs
do not waste your time - taste
marigolds - set your barbecue to char
oh the oriole, the oracle, the oreo!
There's nothing you that's usual!
Cha cha, tango and the hora!
Cicadian is a nicer rhythm than the Roth
We've packed false noses, do not act
amazed we've parted seven seas
and named the thousand islets
would you've preferred to hunker
in the molded chair? Sing O'Hare
and Logan, do not persist naive
your life will end do not pretend that's nada
Depress me not and do not do the dirty
solo. Bar your doors to Kirby men and Avon
what do you crave on? It won't make you ill.
is you is or is you aint them doers?
waves waste shores there're more to trek.
There's more than cling to clemency.
Your flaming wang's decree.
Ah me, ah you, what else?
We've swatted, spat and sat
enough - shipboard now, avast!
strip all your gears and sprockets
Meadowlarks to you we're merely
crystal in the geode.
Your grayly beard won't make you Lear.
Oh bore me not, we've tossed our ores
for naught why not be otters?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Allen Braden, who teaches in Tacoma, on Verse Daily yesterday.
The sound and the sense
New York Times Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for 6/30/10

To wit to woo to be or not to be a twit
to glide across a stage a sage like Glover
We shun the drums and toss away your boa
Twine spells to rout the noxious weeds and Reno
rose is a rose is a rose no matter you rename
and fame was what we didn't want - remember?
Alas the cherries bloat - if only it were dry
what can we try, sky closed as shuttered inn
and bins loom empty dark while some
retreat to godthrown fears, that's ceded,
oh my penly dears, my lambchops.
The cloudy sky has turned us navy
and you, oh nothing I would take in lieu
for any Boolean cerulean indigo hue.
amethyst in the geode, and you my ore
my heaven duck my light-bearing eleven.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

As the Barge pushes up lake under an overcast sky, here are some word pair definitions:

elegy: a sad poem, especially for soomeone who has died. from Greek elegos
eulogy: a speech or piece of writing that praises someone highly. To eulogize or eulogise is to praise highly. from Greek eulogia, praise (we know Greek logos means word)

propensity: tendency to behave in a certain way. From Latin propensus "inclined"
tendency: 1. an inclination to behave in a particular way. 2. a group within a larger political party or movement

Huh. (All definitions from Oxford Dictionary of Current English. The book.)

Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for Tuesday June 29, 2010

Malvolio in his tights the world's a stage for olio
refresh your caches full - croxetti and fine cocoa
You adore all words, they bathed you sore in utero
List birds and rivers. Say amethyst, say Cree
Your tongue has territory too how vast an area
an aria to every book nonsense to lit
Issa, Chaucer, epic poetry or saga
write a raga to the shores of Iwo Jima
eulogize your rat faced dog, it's all okay
pen words to and with what you adore
What else? What more? Oh words you are the cat's meow
the mother lode the goose's golden egg the priceless ore
for you have aged more well than Stephen Rea
if out damned spot all greed and screed we'd oust
what better flow than this unless it's tidal
for truth winds through its mobius strip but atom
split from wit and wonder yeast will rise.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Am I a poet? A writer? A reader?
A dawdler and doodler
Weed identifier and ripper-outer
water watcher
lie about
sucked into the freecell vortex
there's gotta be something about a something cortex
I'm reading aloud WHITE TIGER
and silently I'm reading THE LACUNA
each is about a boy
and I get the boys confabulated
imagining the Mexican/American boy
swimming past the lotus eating water buffalo
or the Indian boy mixing frescoe plaster
for Diego Rivera
a double helix of coming of age stories
coming apart

I don't have the pulse
don't feel the zeitgeist of my age
am not any sort of genius
I so hoped I would be some sort of genius
could read the work of genius
ride it like a wave
feel the pulse of its purpose
like my own
I thought it was my own
parrot, mimic,
oh I can fling the epithets
punish myself daily
refuse me pleasures
for all my shortcomings
if you ask me to do something
I will do that something
no matter what it costs me
if I ask it
I spit on the task
sit around with protest signs
half painted
the great are better to themselves
they believe in their work anyway
even if they don't love themselves
they believe in their work
they do their work
I lose my work
file it in the drawer of lost things
or let it blow away down the road
sunder it between my teeth
am loathe to love it
unless someone publishes it
if a poem has seen print
has my name on it
I might deign to read it again

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New synthetic oil in the beetle, renters in the house, and I'm on the road at a Days Inn. Why do they serve hard boiled eggs with no peels on? Who peels them? How?

Here's the New York Times Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft from yesterday's NY Times Puzzle

As fifth grade Shakespeareans raise epees to scrap
for valor and better lines, our minds turn to Albee
for gloomy betterment, Tom Eliot for his cat,
and Abba's Waterloo. brought PeeWee to the Alamo
and screamed our long vowel e's no need to boom
with "oo's" like men for we are of the gentler hue.
You said "I do" where windsurfers trust the wind
to up them high not flop them to the rocks below
you know I'd rather hop than drop like tatted lace
that place where it's all simple you say as ABC
well maybe but as you run at your fate rapidly
I think vapidly of all that topples from its zenith
though I know you mean this, in love since recess
you'll always be my unicorn launching not alone
Marriage vows are hexes launched against vexed
arguments the human in humility our ability
to believe the apex is the curve our graphs have cast
our loves will thrive like waving wheat in acres
you curse the vapors I'll whip the slave
division of labor, a saber if you' stayed
while Roberta spins the flax and stirs our soup
we droop beneath the pomp the stomp of self
What else?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I put conventional oil in my VW TDI beetle
so now I have to drain it before I can drive anywhere
which is a teeny problem since I'm at Lake Chelan
and it is 4am.

Breathing until I can call someone and work this out.
I've read various TDI forum remarks
what else to do with eyes like headlights
and the brain half on?

Up up up in the parking area my beetle sits
with bad oil in its belly. Saturating its surfaces
all the places that 10w30 oil will mess with because of its
wrong viscosity, its conventionality a liability.

Ah for Castrol to meet the VW 505.01 standard!
My kingdom for that Castrol 5w40 TXT 505.01
and the ability to go back to sleep.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yesterday in 8th grade, we wrote over the top rhymed "My Poems". We began with a freewrite: What power does a poem have? Can it change the world?

Here's what I wrote:
No cynics or critics, please. Open yourself to poetry and prose. Have you reckoned a thousand acres much? Yourself much? (Uncle Walt!!) Can writing calm? Can you change your mood through what you write or read? Is it an escape to let the pen move on paper, or a deepened connection? The iPhone, Twitter, GPS cannot answer the ageless questions - who am I why am I here what do I fear? We don't need answers as much as we need to ask. I need to ask. Digging in the dirt, pulling weeds, reading Nicholson Baker, looking at a beautiful or not beautiful piece of art - places to start. If I'm muddled in all my have to do's, writing can let me slow down and see my options and obligations one by one. Writing is not a test, it is a chance to connect with the brain down your long arm. The poem is quiet but loud as dynamite inside your skull. It can be. I have to be present to present such a poem. How do you handle a white-hot truth without gloves? What do we risk? Why else are we here? Shouldn't we play with matches? Oh, matches - my fist and your face, my dog and a linen napkin, the Ice Capades of grief. How long will it take to make sense? Sense makes bombs and breaks treaties, is selfish, works overlong at jobs we hate. What we need is the released beauty of well-chosen words. Words set up a vibration in your skull that won't let you listen to the should's but will let you watch the kiwi slide upwards towards light and our neighbors' window, let you bounce to the beat from the passing car.


My poem will croon at midnight, noon,
now and soon, earned its own moon.
You’ll find it if you hum a tune.

My poem searches high and low, its touch and go
can never slow. It’s wider than a movie show.
You screen its green, it has meaning but is never mean.

Meet me there where life can be not seem
talented as Julian Bream, a baseball team,
where raptors blur and hillsides gleam.

My poem has fledged. It honors pledges
doesn’t cower on ledges. it flutes its edges
like a pie – it never wants to die. Its nickname’s try.

My poem’s abloom with May and June.
it’s a bassoon, baboon, a constant tune,
come visit soon.


My poem lives inside confession
in an expression, it’s resistant to depression
has no possessions or aggression.

My poem lives in a valise, needs no police
is dense as fleece, provides release.
I fold it, it opens without a crease.

In the valley of its deepest hope
you’re not a dope, there’s time to cope,
the answer’s never nope, climb up its rope.

Within the shadow of its leaves
my poem believes, is strong as trees,
loud as bees, it weakens knees.

If you enter you own, you’re not a renter,
plunge into its fragrant center.


My poem’s beyond horizon’s blue
its song is true as cockatoos
its shoes are new and so are you.

There’s room inside for you to hide
or glide beside its mountainside
out here where there’s no postage due
it comes to you, a caribou, a curlicue.

My poem is a fancy dresser, tongue depressor
truth expresser. The Iliad was its predecessor.
Yes sir, it’s a word obsesser. Does that make it lesser?
When I’m within I’m no second guesser.

To find it, wear your roller skates
glide within its gates, you’re never late.
It won’t make you wait or hesitate.
My poem invites you to participate.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for 5/13/10

For all she has not finished, she owes
a happy debt to yonder hot tub
ablutions and lotions at the spa
a pumice stone, a loofa made from lava
She picks at fava beans, calls to anyone
for java - to Neil or Eloise or Hal.
(she drives them up the wall.)
and they're the ones who splat
She misses them all, so so
but blames them for her diarrhea.
Ah my dears she is a gem
no cookie for O Henry.
Thus was the way she were -
a sherry glass and a baked Alaskan
for all the percodan she ate.
But wait - forgive her each snafu.
She never has to navigate through scree
and oh to have her ruffled feathers
in any weathers, missy,
though crotchety, we sidle
to her elbow, never give her any lip
our grievances have long been telexed
as we telescope this ode
and set forward at a healthy trot.
Oh rot, another stylus for this slab
all this as said-before as adage
(not to rub you the wrong way)
We've been of use since the Aeneid
and catch them all in hot tubs or in rye.



Saturday, May 01, 2010

“Only connect,” E. M. Forster wrote. As writers in the classroom, we encourage our students to connect the world they see with their inner world.. How can we connect with them to foster their willingness to wander around with us into subject matter where there is no right answer? How do we help them access that inner world their mp3’s and texting thumbs hold more or less successfully at bay? ...

See the WITS Blog for the rest of this piece.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

At Chocktoot's Black Buffalo Coffee Shop in Chiloquin
where it's all four seasons at once, as somebody here said.
It's currently sunny with snow swiveling down idly.
Poetry ruled the community center yesterday afternoon
where we filled the big room with words from the anthology.
This morning's before first period assembly featured
three anthology poets followed by a performance by
the jazz choir from Umpqua Community College in
Roseburg. One of the singers has a double bass voice.
WOW! One of them tap danced. Their closing number,
by Todo, may be titled "I Bless the Rains Down in Africa."
I'm off to paste corrections into the anthology - the down-
side of blind judging the work. After a morning of cutting
and pasting I'll spend 7th period with the creative
writing class. Here's a belated Crosswords poem:

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft from an unknown date, puzzle discovered (archeologically) in my purse just now:

All of us on this bus dress like Abba
we've learned the lessons taught by lava
have witnessed V's by pelican and goose
have faced orals though never Urals.
Urinal deligates too delicate to efface
all life creates, more Juliet than Romeo
given as we are to all that's lacy,
Kevin Spacey and the mystic BLT.


Okay then, love to all, and to all may
April snows bring runny nose
as another person said just now.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Working on a blog post for another blog, not my own.
Working with kids in a small rural high school - first day back since fall.
Working or hoping to work on making dinner for myself.
Done working on making kid poems big on 11 x 17 paper.
I may have mucked them up - I trusted the copier's auto setting to align the page pleasingly. The poems begin low on the page which is bothering me.
Never doing enough or enough right to feel I'm doing enough or enough right.
Names in the book were attributed wrong on a few poems.
I have bought more full page labels to remedy on each of the 150 copies these errors
than I will use in years. Will the stick-um fatigue? I am fatigued.
Clouds have returned after a warm, clear-sky weekend featuring the din of returning water birds and me walking the wetlands trail.
Sorry for neglecting this blog - I've been in and out of planes, trains, and automobiles without getting to room with Steve Martin or have the car catch hilariously on fire.
I was not stuck in Europe beneath an ash cloud, but I heard stories.
I'm at the Fred Meyer where there is wi-fi. There is no wi-fi where I live.
There is a warm bed, the hilarious novel THE ANTHOLOGIST by Nicholson Baker nearby. If you are a poet, it is funny. If you are me it is funny. Will anybody else titter into their William Blake motif flannel sheets? I bet somebody somewhere manufactures William Blake motif flannel sheets.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Because I am flying oh momentarily to Denver for the AWP Conference and haven't yet packed, and because where my tooth with its giant into my lower jawbone root is throbbing its time for me to post a daily crossword puzzle poetry draft. Duh.

DAILY CROSSWORD POETRY DRAFT 4/7/10 For My Dad's 86th Birthday

If I'd remembered this was your birthday I'd a
baked a cake or knitted you a scarf and cap
if I'd a known to knit. The little I was
reluctant to learn, so let me reframe:
happy day to you and sorry for all I did not
do. I own my failures, thankfully not adrenal,
and hold you dear as crayons like magenta.
You taught me how to read a map, to tap
the rocker arm to see if it would move, but
we've been cowards, never made a sort of
stand and time for that has gone like Picts.
I've wondered what's inside your shelly egg.
A party! to make you cringe like backslapping
so here's to you, Dad, and here's a tissue,
a potted rose, a happy birthday gesture:
cue the Triumphs, 240 Z's and helicopters
to flame the candles. Are you ready? Get set!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Off this morning to American Lake, past the signs, one above the other on the siding road that read
Gravelly Lake >

to watch my daughter's novice rowers row and watch her as coach, then watch my other daughter, her husband, their baby sally down the steep hill towards me this year on a dry day so that nobody fell. Last year I, like many others, fell on that steep hill, though I managed a rather spectacular downward slide cheering wildly for the team my coach daughter used to row for.

Everything I do now I told my husband last night comes out of what I learned mothering my kids. The writing was in me, but hadn't found a focus or reason. I always thought I knew a lot of stuff, but what turns out to be true is that I'm a better catalyst than informant. Information is not what we need, but what we have to juggle too much of. What we need is quiet, time, conversations with our beings being. It doesn't matter what tools I have if I only want to whack you with them. Working with the kids at Lummi is humbling. Working with kids anywhere is humbling. Life is humbling. Quinn, my 9 month old granddaughter, started pointing on Tuesday. She points at trees a lot. Her mama said that Quinn pointed at my daughter's face the whole time she was nursing yesterday afternoon. Q's index finger is about the length of my index finger to the first joint. But when it points we attend and wonder.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for March 22, 2010

What of the lifetime wasted chasing haloes?
I look to my father who defers
how many years to gnaw
yourself loose when every atom
screams your passive plight?
While some are born roarers
the mice among us dream of reprieve
and sunny meadows, tissue-curtains
abillow, light and the sharp inhale
of spring willows. Coffee at my elbow
kink in my spine, a baby on my lap
singing today, tiny fingers clamped
to my sleeve. All I need to believe.
Silences pile like decorator pillows.
Forget just for today my mother said
who believes herself almost dead.
She's lost six pounds over the last week
though my sister and I guiltily doubt
her rush to fear and panic. My father
ignores her, won't buy Turner Classics.
What an end to life, a flight not gather.
Daffodils go translucent and scraggly
in their vase, the fancy goldfish
circles its bowl and three Chesapeake
retrievers jog off leash beside me
along a breezy roadway on the rez.
I have nothing new to say as my
mother reaps a harvest of metasticized
masses in lungs and ribs, her left eye
almost permanently fallen closed.

Friday, March 19, 2010

500th Post.

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poetry Draft for 3/19/10

Farsi Agreements in Agra
our pens raised like masts
above the cowering orca
and me without my snee.
On the rez we are aware
of all the children for whom coos
are foreign as Farsi or Mr. Darcy.
I've much to say, please pass the salt
I'll apply it to my wound, tart
faced and laughed at as Uranus
dreaming grace like Liu
but silly as Dame Edna.
Shall we adjourn to the altar?
flock like cubs to den mother?
what other oddness, gee
you imagine stories, I see
roadblocks and an eagle.
It all comes down to study hall
and the principal plants of Idaho.
Where the heck have we been led
whether we've bought in or not.
While on the other line my mother pleas
for reprieve who used to lade lye
in my openness, but I've bought
it all, nobody's fault the upsurged
landmasses, strong winds against our aims.
How we subvert the bridegroom
at the It's Your Fault Dept.
Better my dears to yodel
into the sea, sea lion rising sweet
as any longed-for Eden.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poetry Attempt for Mar. 15 (IDES!)

If you thought life was all fruit baskets and leis
let me bring you up to speed
because of wars we have Oslo
because of Ford we have the axle
because of water vapor we have cirri.
Were we sailors we'd know spinnakers
squint into wind at sea.
Were we not Yoko we'd be Al Capp.
Were we Luke we'd need Alec
and were we into TV we'd love spinoffs
but I am me and I love you
the both of us ridiculous and passe.
Lynda Barry invented as if
as true as Wily C was felled by Acme.
If you have no moped you'll have loped
and I'll have landed slightly flat.
Don we now our spandex unis
let me not the pain omit
nor read obits of men and spinsters
(I loved Herman Munster.)
Once there was a vinyl Nirvana
all the jet set flocked to Rio
or watched it visioned by Elia.
Beware not Jabberwock but spin doctor
Alas we thrive believing in what aint
ignore them that is and need us.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Home. Home from Centrum and Blue Heron in Port Townsend. Home from driving south along the west side of Hood Canal to Oyster Bay Road in Olympia to read for a Fishtrap Fund/Friend Raiser on Friday night. Home from playing with Miz Q this morning while her birthday boy daddy and mommy slept. Jim drove over and we took Quinn with us to breakfast at the Salmon Bay Cafe, famous for its big, big breakfasts, and as of today famous with us for baby-friendly staff. We then drove to the Locks and walked around the gardens and into the fish ladder building where no steelhead were coming up the fish ladder, though the bubbles were very entertaining if you are, for example, exactly 9 months old. Shawna called - mommy needed baby home, so we took her. Reluctantly. Obediently. Then went to Cafe Fiore to read the Sunday paper all by our grown up selves. Sigh. It was about three weeks ago, give or take, when we took Shawna and her sister on Sunday jaunts, those starfish hands sticky with breakfast syrup clinging to our sticky-by-association clothes.

Tomorrow I teach at HIMS: smellorama by teacher request. I have to research smells of India, Greece and China so I'm coordinating with social studies. This is the type of teacher I love to be. Tangential. And trailing cardamom and lemon zest.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New York Times Crossword Puzzle Poetry Draft for 3/10/10

I wasn't old enough for liking Ike
or there to sandbag Tampa,
San Jacinto, Silverado, Jeb.
I met you betwixt ping and pong
We repaired to darker areas
You're the radius to my ulna
your norte marks my este
you'll always be my corner post
teardrop trailer coast to coast
you're my tugboat, my aviso,
other words you know I've uttered
though my honor's colorfast
I've been known to run.
Call me tease, a groat, a star
but sing me your hosanna
Don't be a meanie rub me genii
seranade me with your oboe
If you had one Id know your alias
we play Sibelious and Brubeck
what the heck I'd count Bartok
for you.


Two more teaching days with the fifth and eighth graders at Blue Heron School. The books are in process - kids and volunteers processing them. I am here at the cafe, the UnderTown, with my roibos tea and laptop, maybe later to the beach to add to my rock and photo collections, and of course reflection, though so far that's resulted in a worrisomely unsurprising Ghazal along the bay. That's my repeating phrase, "along the bay." Jezus Rebozo that's embarrasing. I've told myself it's meditative. Or sh*t. "Down By the Bay" on ukelele and elementary voice is what it conjures - those chaperone trips to Community School camp - Indianola, Seabeck, Sequim, Sealth, Camp Don Bosco - eight plus years as parent volunteer in charge of pbj, kp, cabin groups, tie dye, nature poetry, and skits. The s'more origin play starring the Chocolate Mothers and Stick Men - reenacted by acolytes for years.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I finished Anne Tyler's latest novel, NOAH'S COMPASS, last night. I love to read Anne Tyler's novels. Is she the Nora Roberts of the slightly more literary set? Fast reads, always. I fall right in, every time. I don't resist her narrative as I often do, forcing myself to read until I am really in the book, which could take half the book, or never happen. But back to this one - a tale of a not quite present human being. The night he moves into the downsized apartment he is whacked on the head and wakes in the hospital, obsessed by the memory of being whacked on the head not existing. It turns out the man doesn't much pay attention to anything, and exists in reaction. Good lord, he's a sorry specimen. A speciMAN, a space man. Leaving a trail of wreckage in his oblivious wake. He was a philosophy student. He likes the words of philosophers. He's a little baffled by life off the page, but not in an urgent way. His first wife killed herself, his second divorced him. He has three kids, as offhandedly as it is possible to have three kids. He is 61 years old and he learns little from his accident. Grows little. We learn a lot, he accepts his lot and sits in his rocker, just as he imagined an old man would, though his memories don't flow like movies since he deflects the faintest threat of emotion. I recognized my dad, and to some extent myself. One of the cover blurbs asserts that we all have a bit of Liam in us. Not Noah. Noah's compasss refers to the fact that Noah didn't have or need one. Oy.

Weekend in Port Townsend breathing space between teaching weeks. Saturday morning I waited and waited to find out if Shawna, Todd and Quinn were coming up. They came and we walked the bay beach. Quinn set a bare foot on the damp cool sand in the late afternoon sun. She reached down to scoop some into her hand, but was not successful in getting much into her mouth since her mama caught her. What better than to spend a day with a brand new person? Quinn is enthusiastic unto whooping laughter about physical jokes, like pounding her hand against a table top or madly pumping both arms up and down repeatedly while I mimic and we both howl hilariously and clap our hands. We stare up at birds in flight, at the moon, reach out for flower buds and flat rocks. She pulls everything to her mouth; I had to exchange the daffodil stem quickly for a stick. Narcissus are poisonous. Lordy. And so frilly the little cups, so soft the sepals.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

I keep finding this guy Charles Henri Ford on the internet - he was doing in the late 40's to mid 60's what I do now in my 50's. Poetry collage. I love the photo of him wearing knitting needles on his head and looking very proud.

A Daily Crossword Poem Draft for 3/4/10

Sorry can't do it it begins with son. So, son
when shaving you should always point atra
towards face avoid any blade with straps
or was that stropes. Im not unholier
than thou but once upon a toe tap
I visited the volcanic caldera
Santorini - gorgeous through the eras
ere a fruit existed so ugli
as we know. We've conversed now scram
none so boorish as who sees
our errors. Throw them in irons
threaten them with burs
never offer them your micro-
phone or sauce a second rib.
Echo me this, then flee
all we've breathed is made up
dust from meteor craters
enter if you must but lose the ferret
I've seen you high so don't go all high tech
you're speaking past me Mr. Oates
and all our spawn in pods.
Oh all we done we won't undo
as Tom Hanks digs the burg
oops that was burbs so I have inked
another lie, make that a pair
remember flairs - so black but runs
the length of San Andreas Faults
along the bottom of your purse.
Sing hey sing nonny no adeste
don't play me for an Everyman
sing Tellemann your mother dowses
she knows what happened Leda.
New York Times Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem from crossword in my bag. Date? I don't know

I want to be alone and be with you together both
at once and in a fancy inn we'd know by the mint
so that's my elegant idea
and what have you to vaunt?
your company perpetually in countdown
you're on to them, their crisis almost Hessian
meanwhile tulips fall to rot until you stop it
my car's unsold and now its fender's dented
whatever else I write your worries are taboo
they're real, they're still, we're on a sill
if we jump off we're sure to find a sign
to have a life if not a fortune IRA
or a thousand acres we can pace off
wouldn't you rather we live like men
not chained on danky walls. Let's go
I don't care where it could be Serbia
to snaffle up the perfect peach, to reach
I don't know but not perfection like some neatnik
there's dirt outdoors let's dig in and plant
a dozen pumpkins, throw open the house
learn Portugese and bocce
purge the but until we're out of step.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Performing Without a Net

Medusa in rollers behind cigarette smoke
your life you thought was worse than grim
because of us, because of him
because your life gave way to whim
so much that I have never understood
a mobius strip to trip you round its fold
it doesn't matter who you might have been
see what we need is not so much attention
as dessert. A fruity drink, a baking pan
civilization requires the cookie sheet and flan
and decorated cakes. Make no mistake
without the pastry tube we wouldn't have a chance.
Bring me my tiara and a peacock feather
I have my skills and you predict the weather.
I'll let you wander through your blankly head
besides you'll enjoy nothing when you're dead.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Here's another cool thing about the William James Bookstore. I went there after school today to look for a recipe book I could rip pages out of for my 5th graders tomorrow, so they can circle verbs and use them in their recipes for animals. Outside the bookstore are two freebie boxes and in one there was a recipe book. Hurrah!

I'm sitting in the Commons building with the free unsecured wifi instead of the Centrum studios building with the secure wifi and icy ambiance. I like me a heated building. Heated arguments, no.

Soon I will wander back to my little cabin and make a passel of chili , actually a large pot, assuming I have a large pot, to have over the next few days. I saw a crock pot, but I'm not sure there's a top of stove big pot. I bought the chili makings at the co-op this afternoon, after writing at the Undertown Coffee Shop for a couple of hours. While there, with garlic in my cart, I saw the poet who lives here and is shadowing me. I mentioned that I wish I'd brought spices with me. She offered to give me some of the garlic she has at home, for which I thanked her, knowing I had a head of garlic in my cart. When the checker was tallying my groceries I slipped the head of garlic into my cloth bag early on so the poet wouldn't see it if she happened to walk by. This is completely in character for me. I'll probably also take the garlic if she offers it. And, truthfully, I'll probably use all mine and all hers since I use a lot of it. Is it that I need to lead a secret life?

I am finding this group of eighth graders slightly exhausting as they can never ever ever ever ever ever be quiet. Do they have inner lives? How can they have inner lives? They have a well developed hive mentality, a high degree of connectivity, a group personality, and they are very loud. Two classes in a row today instead of alternating with fifth graders and my ears were ringing ringing ringing. They did however write. They wrote. Huzzah!

Monday, March 01, 2010

It's chilly in this second floor studio with the wifi as the day wanes and the sky fades to a grayish marshmallow cream. I taught four classes, had lunch at the home of the poet who is shadowing me, walked from my cabin down to the beach where the tide was so high I couldn't walk around the point like I wanted to, grabbed my laptop the size of a large paperback and unlocked this space to check email before the day is over. Four hours back to back, 8th then 5th then 8th then 5th. By the last class, I felt like I was turning invisible less like the Star Trek crewmen and more like ghostly visitors. Interesting, that plural.

What much do I have to say for myself? My mother asked me to read a poem at her funeral on Sunday. I asked if she'd picked out the poem. She wants me to write a poem, then read it at her funeral. A poem from my perspective. We both pretended this wasn't a big deal, even as she held her side - the one where the tumor has knit itself through her rib - and was silent for a moment. I've had a difficult time with this woman all my life. How much is me? How much is her? I don't know. I panic asking myself anything like this question. I was past fifty when I realized that no amount of bargaining will keep me from dying. In my family, the tendency is to want to live forever, though why is a good question, as the tendency in my family is to hide away and give nothing, to dwindle away and yell about it. I am not fair. Life is not fair. My mother is dying. My father walks daily, does my mother's bidding, drives her to radiation, chemo, doctor appointments, and feels frustrated. Feeling frustrated is a dominant emotional tone in my family. Life is unfair. I may have mentioned this. We think we are owed more than other people. I don't know why. There are many people who feel this way, and they don't bother me, because I am not related to them. When my mother was tugging at 70 she called me all upset. "My parents are old!" she said. They were about 90, both of them alive. I had just been listening to my friend who was having to help her parents who were my mother's age (70) move into a retirement home. My mother was helping her parents move into a retirement home. My mother didn't quite get my point when I told her the story.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Because I could I spent the morning in the arboretum, walked it end to end, walked under the freeway where the powers have whited out the grafitti art again. I tried to skirt the muddy patch but hit the squelchy stuff that seeped into my shoe, but who cares? Then sat on a bench and stared out at the Husky men's crew in pairs across the bay, the white coach's launch like a white slip-on mule zooming past then waiting for them, bits of garbled instruction bouncing my way, and then an eight passed just off shore from me, its chaperoning launch loaded with several people in boathouse jackets and regatta suits, hoods up, hands in mitts while the men in spandex shorts and ultra max shirts rowed by pairs and fours and the boat wobbled, coach calling through his mini meg "don't worry about your set!" and then "just keep it confident." Some sort of drill that didn't look coherent to me, and then the cox said, "all eight in two." and I heard the thump, whooooooosh I love the sound of over and over as they moved towards the buoy that separates the lake from the bay. I walked away towards home.

At the wonderful William James used bookstore in Port Townsend I bought Ravishing DisUnities, which would be a terrific buy just to have that phrase in front of me, but which I have wanted since it is the collection of "real ghazals in English" (its subtitle) that Agha Shahid Ali collected and edited before he died in 2001. If you don't already know this, William James Books is the best place to find poetry since many poets and Copper Canyon Press live in PT. If you have a head lamp and wooly socks, wear them. The poetry shelf is at the back of the store and UNLIGHTED (is this a passive aggressive message? a fairy tale challenge for poetry's suitors?) and it is right next to the locked back door the bottom of which is ajar and wafts icy licks of outside air at your feet and ankles in a very unwelcoming manner.

Agha Shahid Ali has given I think the definitive pronunciation of "Ghazal" - here goes, without looking at my notes: Pronounce the "gh" pretty much like a French "r", then the whole word rhymes with guzzle. For those of you, you know who you are, who have insisted it is pronounced guZAL, you are wrong. And I bet your Lebanese friends are not poets.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poetry Draft for 2/25/10

When I was fourteen hearing the Who made us rebels.
My friend with her cigarette like a prop
they made me sick, I'd rather suck on ice.
My friend had belt stripes across her back
I couldn't get the counselor to see
In charge of a forest she couldn't see the tree
the counselor I mean in the years of Cheerios and Namath
before you and I were so famous.
My friend was shark and I the minnow
Her mom was 30, maybe 32
my mother called their house a sty
so glamorous, it might have been Gabon
her mother hit in secret my mother nagged
heavier than a backpack crammed with opals
I wanted a polished golden oval
over my head I was over my head, albino
like my brother before anyone went online
before the spray-on tan before Opec and Iran
when I could vie with any child for tamest.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Life is so learn as you go - I just succeeded in understanding the meaning of the trashcan icon beside each comment and was able to delete the offending "comcastcares" remarks. Moment of immense satisfaction.

As opposed to last night when I had to call my husband who was skiing (okay apres skiing) in Telluride, tv remotes lined up in front of me, to ask him the sequence of events with these vaguely phallic vaguely magic wand objects. I had gone through an exhaustive (I imagined) process of actions with all of them, in sequence, before my call. He was trying to explain to me what to do and I was trying to assure him I had done sophisticated experimentation when he stopped me and said, "just listen to me." I did and was able to watch the first ten minutes of "Johnny English" which I then put back into its Netflix envelope because it was either horrifyingly awful or not anything I was in the mood to watch. Okay, I will be judgmental. I would have to smoke a lot of nutmeg or banana peel to enjoy that movie.

Now for today's Daily Crossword Puzzle Poetry Draft

Slim chance we'll see an eft ooze from the slime
I watched a carrot once, to see if I could see it grow
but that was long ago when I believed what I read
or what anybody said
before the salamander, before the wheel,
when I swallowed everything with zeal
and never tooted my own horn. (I didn't even have one.)
That was the beginning, then came the age of linen
American salwar kameez and yoga pants
a stance not backed up by subsequent events.
Have I ever known what I have meant?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for 2/20/10 Crossword Puzzle

The glamorous sun shone today but now it's fleeing
the morning's frost must mean that we replace
bulbs we dug so happily on Saturday, Spring's arrival
not so sure as we supposed, how all the blossoms sag.


god how about some prose in hip waders dude?!
and yet today was a good good day when I did well by myself and didn't eat crap or play mindless Text Twist which is to say not play but let the fingers fidget on the keys and stare away from anything that has to do with mind or heart or what I have to be a part of such as my mother's illness and my own dis-ease. ARRGH! Do you not totally want to puke over that one? I read 8th grade short stories over the weekend while also rereading CATCHER IN THE RYE. Oh my but Salinger writes so much better than 8th graders. One girl, there is always one every year, wrote a story that as I read it I spun off into the world she created. SUCH JOY! The teacher said to me, "I read one 15 page story, and gave you the other. I do NOT read 15 pages." The girl said to me something like "I need to be more concise." Different word. Juicier. More judgmental actually, like a longer piece of writing better not happen in that class. I said "who cares?" Here's where it meant something that I'm a writer in that class - I LOVED HER WRITING! She wrote about a future pacific northwest where there were some people, about a sixth of the population, who could alter their form. Everybody lived in the woods, where cedar and salal, vireos and robins lived so that I could see, smell, feel them. She said something about worrying her writing was cheesy. I said the line between great and cheesy is thin since if you write from heart your risk gooey. I praised the way she wrote about the characters hunting and eating beaver when they'd become coyotes. Very bravely animal. She understood, she got it, she was relieved. I soared like a shape shifter gone vireo the rest of the morning.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Well, shebang, I tried to delete ComcastCares without deleting the post or other comments, but old pretend guy wouldn't dislodge, so I have a nice ad for the compassionate caring comcast response. Do you suppose that response is triggered everytime the word "Comcast" occurs in a blog? HA! If one shows below this post, there's some evidence. Maybe I'll use code word COMPASSION instead of Comcast in future.

New York Times Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for February 17

Drain the pond, sieve the scum
return to base, at ease
My kingdom for a purple pez
Dale Carnegie in a tutu
my syntax for your sintax
a scoop of chicken ala
haunted by Iris Murdoch
I'll swap you penny for a sap
and all the new releases
video store and netflix rivals
your email all for e.d.u.
your mother works at Jiffy Lube
your mother knew Daisy Miller
tell your mother you've rued
on the loose without the loos
a triumphant run of t-cells
tomorrow what is is not
just think of Rose Kennedy
lavender flower girls
your friend Boyann
it's all force and flit
your mother is a roadie
an you have all the xes.


Beautiful day outside. Onward.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New York Times Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for 2 16 10

Look now as I display your temporal lobe
throbbing since you're late for this appointment
I judge you not for all your trips to Arbys
your preference for brussels over okra
look here your mind is stuck on Paar
you've hiked the wetlands, seen the heron
your youngest serves you cootie pie
subconsciously you're leied so now aloha
the end is near and all you want's a kiss
how old were you again? Here's Don Ameche
a couple PeeChees and now we're back to food,
a high school where you'll never win, amen.


Discipline's a thing that must be a useful tool
though those of us who cling to fossils, fool
ourselves that we're immune from need
to read anything but what we want - life's
an easy A and all our doubts are cured!
so maybe I'm absurd so go ahead and gasp
we'll calm the gods and milk the asp.


Yesterday I spent over three hours transferring auto payments from the closed account ("Did you order a playstation to be delivered to Florida?" "NO!") into the new one. Cards arrived on the back porch via FedEx. Somebody climbed a hundred stairs in rain when they could have come into the alley, but that's self sufficiency gone haywire. Once again, the worst company to deal with is Comcast. Every dealing I have with them and their awful automated system with its choices that have nothing to do with what anybody would choose I lose more tooth enamel. I have devolved into a jibbering steam engine before I speak to the first human who opens by asking me my secret word. I'll tell you my secret word!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daily Crossword Poem Draft for 2/10/10

Jane Eyre, fangcasfare, baby bear I care but err
you're beautiful and I'm a fool, we haven't laughed for ages
I sing you green my little bean you answer back in umbers
I wake to rue for what is true I'm Kanga to your Roo
when you're blue my job to do is love you in our scenes
my stubborn head my sterile bed my micromanaged matter
my left hand's cold the topic difficult as tundra
scroll it back to where the sea lion caught that steak
I bought the soap the day we lost the skewers
and life's no sum as numbers and computers
that are so easier than breathing it's impossible
but sing your baby song and I will plod the stairs
a heavy wait or levity, in the end it's brevity
that will do you in, a penny for your g-men
your baby's palm a feather on my face.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for TuTu, 2010

Let's say you've landed at O'Hare
your head atumble with creepy graves, the fam
outside in biting wind, upset
though you will pay the handling charge
they ask after, you have rescued uncle
from some murky circumstance in Cork
teeny airplane wine and tinny tapes -- Harpo
in a tophat. Oh, stop that. Make a vow
the past as gone as USSR

Friday, January 29, 2010

Imagine silk colors on silk - a circle of bright trees, they could be olive trees, their purple and green crowns join above them to form a lenticular canopy under a pale blue sky. Now here is what poet Assef Al-Jundi wrote:

Drenched with waiting.
He always arrives with winter.
Seagulls follow his trail.
Almonds awaken to their delectable bitterness.

and the poem goes on, but here's what I love about being poets - almonds delectable bitterness, seagulls, someone who arrives with winter, the poet walking off the path, away from "Topic". This is what artists are doing in schools - giving permission for, celebrating "OFF TOPIC" minds and hearts. Oh, uh, that's it, the HUMAN!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here I am in the 1800's. Can't get boots like that anymore. Saw Patti Smith last night, giving a reading, she was, not me, at Benaroya Hall. Talk about boots.

You probably can't see them, but I know they're there, my boots I mean. Thick leather, half way up my calves, thin-sliced thong laces.

Here's what I learned from Patti Smith: talk plain, and keep working.

During the on-stage interview, music critic Charles Cross asked, "You've collaborated with many artists over the years. Who would you like to collaborate with next?"

She looked thoughtful for a moment, then "Russell Crowe," she replied.

"He's got his own band, so I wonder if you're thinking as an actor or as a musician."

"As a girl," said Patti.

She told how she met Allen Ginsberg. One day she was really hungry. (Many stories began this way. I think she was really hungry for a lot of years.) She searched the apartment she shared with Robert Maplethorpe and came up with 55 cents to get a cheese sandwich at the automat, walked there, put the money in and the door wouldn't open.

"Can I help?" someone behind her asked. She'd seen him before - Allen Ginsberg. He put another dime in and the sandwich came out. The price had gone up to 65 cents. They sat down. He was talking about Whitman, and asked her a question about what poets she liked.

She said something I forget, but it may have been about Rimbaud, with whom she was infatuated.

"You're a girl," he said.
"Is there a problem?" she asked. "Do I have to give the sandwich back now?"

Monday, January 25, 2010

First day at the 8th grade teaching residency and my left sock was inside out. I didn't notice until I got home. "How many noticed my sock was inside out on Monday?" My oops = teaching moment. Nice.

Spent the weekend in the Abactors' Hideout at Smoke Farm, learning letterpress printing. BEGINNING to learn letterpress printing. Very fun! Oh boy do I love to set type - sincerely and absolutely. I love it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Kim Addonizio and her blues harmonica came to Benaroya Hall last night, along with poet Gary Lilley and a guitarist from Kim's blues group, who's probably the leader and probably really well known, but what do I know? Or maybe not. His body language said, I won't intrude, I'm off to the side. Kim has so much hair, just everywhere, that hair, triumphant and big in the best way. Soulful blues harmonica, solid poems, and sometimes the harmonica and guitar played with the poems, and I was happy. Her poems without musical accompaniment were okay, musical, good, solid, okay. I didn't head out for the new land of poetic possibility or go raving mad with desire for more of her words. I like her, like her work. Maybe I need to be a man to get smitten. Good evening though. An evening with live music in a room meant for live music.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today's Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

Otto loved Chelan as almost fjord
saw Sasquatch, was saved by The Pilot who
handled sacred stones. Oh I'd give rupees
to have that faith, my life a bronc
to tame, tangible as olive branch,
a little planing here and the plank
aligns with the solid floor ere
long. Our Otto was no tortured Orson.


I can't go on with this, am sad he's gone, been gone. My floors need refinishing. Who will I call to find me someone I'd never imagine could hold a job to do the work for cheap? I trusted him, worked with him on many projects. He never lost his temper. He was pragmatic to the core. A builder here since the 50's he went to one of the earliest "Street of Dreams". He couldn't stand the huge houses with fireplaces in their master bedrooms and little cells for the kids. He never understood why the focus went to carpeted bathroom suites and enormous entries. "To impress the mailman?" When I wanted to substitute a French door for the slider called out on our house plan, he said, "You could, but you wouldn't want to." I did want to, and said so. I called Millgard Windows, to be sure. He'd ordered the slider. I overrode him. When he built houses, he would change window locations so you wouldn't look into a neighbor's kitchen, reorient a door for easier access. One evening, leaving our house, he exclalimed, "Look at the angels!" Tiny beings had joined him there, were flying around his head. We couldn't see them, but wished we could.

When he was seven or eight, Otto was so sick in the hospital the doctors called home to have his family come in to be there when he died. His father went up the hill to where The Pilot lived. The Pilot had been a ship's pilot, who had received a visit from an agent of god, who directed him to the top of a mountain, where he found a cache of healing stones. Otto's father paid The Pilot to come with him to the hospital, where The Pilot lay the stones on Otto's head and chest, said "he'll be alright," and left. Otto's family believed him and went home. In the morning, Otto woke up and asked for a big breakfast. The doctors and nurses had no explanation.

In the 60's, Otto worked in a salmon cannery in Alaska. One night, he and another worker were walking back to their dorm along the beach when they saw what they saw was Mr. Yurgenson in a big black coat coming towards them. As they got about a hundred yards from him, Otto and his friend realized it wasn't Mr. Yurgenson, but a huge furry human-looking creature, walking on two legs. The being ran off into the woods. There were huge footprints left where the being had been. "It was Sasquatch," Otto told us.