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.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The American Institute of Philanthropy has a rating system for charities, at, including a very easy to access list for groups sending aid to Haiti. It gave Partners in Health an A+ and Mercy Corps an A-.


Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for 1/20/10 (ooh! mathematically fun date!)

The year of the nerd and geek,
The weak-chinned emcee,
philanthopist commander:
We face a guillotine like Anne
or eat peeled grapes, or both -
detest the time we're dealt.
Or wake up. Heck each day's
our last hurrah.
I'm a sham, your flim flam man,
your time's a-wasted, case acute.
some fella's screaming Stella
another loves regret as pet
If lucky we'll be seniors
all good at high school drama
we need more lively arts.
Ah jeez, to be alive, an ape
with napkins and entree,
Melmac, martinis and Mecca
Perrier green Armani -
merry as Methuselah
the twelfth man on the team
and all our greeny acres
gone to wrack and neon.
Newly day, we wake and stir.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poetry Draft

Our winter fingers fumble for the lamp.
For weeks we wonder, have we seen a star?
A blanket fort the only sport
our SADness epic as the aria.
In Haiti where voodoo's not taboo
the dead outstrip the urns.
Pancaked cinder block, men with axes
atoll of aid ships
round the clock docs
while here in right field
we worry and pine for sweets
far from devastation as UFO
reading or ignoring more reports
toes and fingers red tipped at the spa
we hope, we mutter and aw gee
we lap our buddies at the pool.
We're cool, we make mistakes
we spend lives on eve
of meaning
twitchy as hares.
Do they play hai alai
in Haiti? What is the crux?
How many required pages?
It's been ages since the rein
the wooden plow, and now, a mole
that sees.



Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti, Haiti, Haiti.
A friend of mine suggested donating to Mercy Corps or Paul Farmer's Partners in Health. I'm a fan of both organizations. Partners in Health has been working in Haiti 20 years, so I chose them. If you have medical skills they need (orthopedic/trauma), medical supplies (large quantities), or private plane they WANT YOU! GET GOING!

I am grateful for my good fortune and giddy delight in language, for love and a foundation, for clean water out of the tap. I am grateful that today when my husband and I both admitted we are scared of the melted plastic door of our microwave which has fallen so that the microwaves may have been getting into the room and our brains and messing with us, that we could get into our car and drive to the appliance store and buy a new one. We know where our daughters are and that they are alright.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poetry identity crisis yesterday as I searched through my work for a poem directed at the public to use as a model for the 7th grade broadside project. I don't address the public - EVER. I address a rhetorical you quite frequently thouh. I had a sudden insight into why journals aren't interested in my work - perhaps I'm too slight, too insular, too not very much going on except fun words bonding with one another in a sprightly or too often cynical slanted manner. I am thinking about this. I am thinking hard and thinking how difficult it is to write, really write, and how I am the queen of quick, fascile, language play, but then want to get out quick. On the Verge of Flight syndrome? I don't want to be mean to myself, but my poems need more toothsomeness. I want a red wine with so much body I can almost eat it, with a big round flavor and long after taste. The color must be darker than red. I don't want to feel I can see through it if I hold the glass to the light.

Next week Kim Addonizio comes to Seattle Arts & Lectures with Gary Lilley and her blues harp. Hurrah. I worked with her (had her as workshop leader) at A Room of Her Own retreat for committed women writers at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. Gorgeous raw country and Kim was terrific. My roommate and I revised our totebags to "A Room MATE of Her Own" since everybody had to share. Very funny. AND there were no writing desks or adequate outlets for computers/reading lights in the rooms. Had to get creative to find places to WRITE at the writer retreat. The second to the last day a white turbaned guru in shorts and Hawaiian shirt surrounded by accolytes showed up at lunch time. When we went back to our rooms, each had a drawing of a hennaed hand on it. The guru and his group arrived for their stay a day early. Some people discovered new people and their luggage in their rooms. Someone in our group who had once been an acolyte of the guru said she was sure he knew full well he'd arrived a day early.

All of this clings to my idea of Kim Addonizio, sorta like that red dress she wants in the poem.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Poetry Broadside, now gorgeous unto precious, printed on letterpress printer on handmade paper in honor of a poetry reading or new book, began in the sixteenth century. News of tday or a ballad sold on the street by chapmen for a penny - single sheet of cheap paper, accompanied sometimes by woodcut which might have been used before, hence the often smudgy appearance of the art. Broadsides predated pamphlets and the newspaper, and were aimed at the newly almost literate, to the chagrin unto anger of the British nobility. In the American colonies the democratic notion that all could be informed on a daily basis fit in quite well. Chapmen selling broadside ballads would often sing the ballads to attract customers. Gutenberg printed the first one in 1454. I can't seem to get any images to stick from the friendly old internet but perhaps you can see some at the Library of Congress site or the National Library of Scotland site. Go to Broadsided to see present day broadsides you can download for yourself, or become a vector! These don't cost even a penny. I'm having problems giving you these links too. Is my security too high? Am I a secret Luddite? Google or Bing any of these. Sheesh.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for 1/12/10

Spuds Fish and Chips adds
cache to cod, a seam
of tartar sassy as cupid
atop your organ meat.
Food fight fraught with envy
another candy anode
aloft your seahorse mare.
I'll flip you odd for even
you cannot play viola
like my mother, another
subject for another day.
Halibut should be steamed or
basted, not frizzled in the fryer
flakey bits assunder in the raft
out of the roiling oil. Better astir
in chowder. Pineapple hula
for your shrimp, your fishnets
under table folded neat
as napkins no overt
boobies in the booth all pants
on while out the window sloops
and dories, dinghy bright soar
our lake in loops.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for Monday 1/11/10

Now is the time for us all to get a grip
get out the trowels and knee pads
memorize the passwords call to accounts.
we sniff and sneeze, no time for ease
like the thirties the millionaires are few
(not me or you) what can we do but shout.
the planet's always at a tilt.
oh we have memorized this tale
no Grendel, green man, troll or Santa
no bundled babes on sleigh rides
on Tonto! Robin! Igor!
and he who wrote late 'Tis
dead. Be careful what ye ensnare
as the dishwater rises.
and who shall sing for thee mit bongos?
for everything that can goes wrong, ooh
even crossing of and passing of the bar
won't take you all that far and Isaac
gravity really hurts, so to speak.
You're with me, yes, my friend?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Out of the aughts but not the oughts and with no schedule until the deluge - teaching residencies hang ready to descend nearly immediately though I am yet suspended in the holiday space pretending I have nothing but skeins and yards and oodles of time to while away (wile away? I'm not that sly.)

I would type you a crossword puzzle poem draft and may still though it is Friday when all hopes of puzzle completion are dashed by pharses I cannot quote here as I tossed the paper into recycling at the coffee shop to spare myself anguish.

This morning I sent off my evaluative haibun (combination of 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird parody with prose elucidations for each way <12> I viewed the residency.)

Is today the day that begins the rest of my life so differently I'm blissed to be so blessed? Well, maybe not, though a man just waved wildly up at my window. I know him, and he walked downstairs to work with Jim, but there was a moment there of surprise.

On the way home from the essential coffee shop I peeked into the city people outdoor garden goods area where the cut trees leaned until recently. It's still redolent of fir sap. Ahhhh. We took down our fat celebratory tree in time for it to be whisked away by the yard waste fairies at no additional charge and without having to hack it limb from limb. I love the little miracle of leaving something it took two of us to wrestle up the hill beside the yard waste bin and returning from coffee to find it disappeared.

I've nearly finished reading Mark Doty's DOG YEARS memoir. I've wept over his losses: lover, one dog and then the other, and for mine. June 17, 2007 we let Cruiser go. I miss her. Her late-life photos show what I couldn't see then, that she lived to be an old, old girl, our great great Dane just past eleven.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft for 1/7/10

We may suspect who we elect
will be shaken by their napes.
There's no escape and what's on tap
won't clear our eye. Matriarchal lemur,
spirit of the night, we're missing
more than your ring tail. We stomp
clumsily, forget to pay our rent,
argue holier than ewe.
You bet we need a keeper
lovelier than Rita.
Youneeda biscuit or an alibi.
We name our child Enola.
We're all lost in space,
the answer backwards on the B-side.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft 1/4/10

Etiquette decree: no cape on eating capon
Little finger up for tea, don't rate
your friends or blow buggers on the tram
be kind and never sotto voce your aside.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

All hail hellibore and hasta
toss down that wassail
it's back to pasta.

Bright red cyclamen
with its upside down head
its 2010 aren't you glad
we're not dead?