Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Near and far, in cold weather and warm, meat-eating and no, may your inner pilgrim be transported, or at least enjoy a day off from pilgriming.

And for the realistic pilgrim in all of us, here's a beautiful poem of thanks by W. S. Merwin.

W.S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are
saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rated G for "Gruesome" and "Gawd"


This is almost beautiful, the comedic synchronization.

You can't make this stuff up.

Listen to the question the interviewer asks at about 1:15, and what's going on in the background.

And then there's the part where the turkey is fighting for its life and the dude holding it, chewing his cud, is apologizing. For what? Killing the turkey? Digging Sarah P. into an even deeper hole of mud?

Thank god that yes, we did.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Oh my, it's been a long time since I've been here.

And I can't think of a better way to return than to share the following clip of Elna Baker, which I cannot get enough of. You can find her at her [For some reason, this clip can take awhile to load. I'd led it load first, then watch, otherwise it'll drive you crazy. It's worth the wait.]

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My first....

orchid! It's wee, but it's beautiful. And smells heavenly just for my birthday... Nice work, boyfriend!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Post Road #16 on web (sort of)

So they don't have a link to my piece, but they do excerpt the beginning.

Friday, October 03, 2008

5 Friends

Hilarious and moving and send it to people.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The great schlep

If you don't have an aversion to Sarah Silverman, check it out.

Monday, September 15, 2008

He Could Be a Cup

An interview with Miranda July's book, No One Belongs Here More Than You. Click here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Here's a link to a short Salon article on David Foster Wallace, and a brilliant commencement speech he gave at Kenyon College in 2005.

I don't even know what to say. It's no more shocking than any other suicide perhaps. Sadder, maybe, because of what an influence he's been on so much of what's being written right now in America. Sadder, because always in his work, despite what some people deemed overly self-conscious cleverness, was a deep and rare wisdom about the internal concentric layers of all things human. And we can't forget humility. He had that, too.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Post Road #16 available on Amazon

Hola friends,

Was informed by a Post Road editor that issue #16 (with my new nonfiction piece "Farewell") is available on Amazon.

Of course I want you to buy it because it has my piece in it, but I'm also a sincere believer in the literary magazine and think everyone should support them whenever possible.

So in the spirit of helping literature, supporting writers, and investing in the power of the printed word, here's the link to Amazon where you can purchase the "lite brite" copy of Post Road.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Post Road #16

It's out, on the stands, in select stores (see St. Mark's Book Shop below). My piece "Farewell" printed in its pages.

PR sometimes posts some content from the new issue up on their website, and have a place where you can order it, but it's not up yet. #15 is still hanging around.

When 16 is up, I'll post it here. It's a great issue.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Playing the Building, Playing in the City

[David Byrne installation, Playing the Building]

Spent Saturday and Sunday in Manhattan. And aside from doing the regular NYC things--eating pirogies at Veselka's in the East Village, going to St. Mark's Bookshop to peruse the lit mags--I stayed at a famous cartoonist's apartment in Washington Heights; walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (for the first time!) and saw Ms. Liberty all regal in the sun; and went to David Byrne's installation, Playing the Building (pic above, and you can watch a video w/DB at this link), at South Ferry. The installation was wild. The whole building an instrument. Standing there, in it, was like being in the belly of a confused clock inside the body of a whale. Clinks and clanks and hisses and exhales--through the pipes, on the radiators, all controlled by the keys of the piano played by whatever visitor.

Speaking of bellies...had a great dinner at Cafe Habana on Prince & Elizabeth. The corn! If you ever go there, get the corn! It's grilled in spices and rolled in some kind of soft buttery cheese. Best ever.

My friend A. and I also discovered a strange patch of land on Broadway and 25th and watched tourists take pictures next to over-sized planters on weird beige sand.

And, thanks to A., I contracted the worst laugh attack ever on the subway. Could not stop. Tears and everything. So embarrassing (and totally fun).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Post #100!

So for this post, the 100th, I'm here only to say that this chick went rock climbing this week for the first time since she was 22 years old (and that was a long time ago)!

Aside from worrying about whether or not I'd done an adequate job shaving my legs, it was an awesome experience--I did well I think. Am mostly proud of myself for even giving it a shot, and now am so sore that whilst smoothing a Post-It note at work yesterday morning with my right index finger, i was like "ow ow ow ow ow ow..." Fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, toes, calves, quads... OW .. but YAY!

The best part, aside from getting myself up there, was the group of people I went with. So supportive and encouraging. Made it really easy and totally fun. And I want to go again!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Congrats to Jane!

Shouting out to my dear friend Angela Jane Fountas in Seattle, Washington, who was just chosen to be a Hugo House writer-in-residence. A big deal. And a great gig. You can read this short article in the Seattle Times! May her success be contagious.

Monday, August 04, 2008

60 Revolutions per Minute

God bless adrenalin and lord have mercy on my beat-up body...but OH MY GOD. What a f--king show!

My punk rock friend D-Love would be ever so proud of my foray into moshing mania...Sure, it hurts when I breath, but we don't care!!

Much LOVE in the regions of the floor through which I traveled--lovely to be amongst my fellow citizens of Planet GB.

And I got to hang during parts of it with my dear friend R. for his first GB extravaganza. A special night for sure.

Here's a clip of the song that brought on one of the more fun moshing experiences during the show...

Here's the set list, though I'm very uncertain about the order past the first four songs:

Ultimate, Not a Crime, I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again, Supertheory of Supereverything, Wonderlust King, Mishto!, Tribal Connection, Forces of Victory, 60 Revolutions, American Wedding, Start Wearing Purple, Underdog World Strike, and Think Locally, Fuck Globally. Encore: Alcohol, Immigrant Punk, Baro Foro (which sandwiched samples of the following songs: Undestructable, Sally, My Strange Uncles from Abroad).

ANOTHER SHOW this Friday in Providence, RI, @ Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, with my friend Mo. Also her first time. Yee haw! Show #8 for me... bring it on!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

GB in I come!

Leaving in 1 hour to head for New Haven and a night of music madness!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wellspring Residency...

Just made my reservation for a weeklong writing residency at the Wellspring House in Ashfield, Massachusetts. When I look at the pics of the place, the grounds, the rooms, I almost cry for how quiet it looks (for those of you who know me and my living situation, quiet is an extinct creature in my life). I can't wait!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Magical Thinking and Magical Photos

The Joan Didion book I wept at the end of last night is the first matter at hand. I highly recommend it. The Year of Magical Thinking. I'm feeling struck dumb in terms of writing anything that will do it justice. It is just beautiful and moving and smart. Smart smart smart. Which is a strange adjective to use in describing a book that serves as a "model of consciousness" (I believe this term comes from poet Larry Levis) for grief. She somehow manages to reveal no more than I really want to know, but just enough to make me want to know more. The most captivating part of the book--which won the National Book Award and covers the year her husband of 40 years died of a heart attack and her adult daughter suffered from a serious neurological illness (and subsequently dies, though not during the writing of this book)--is her rendering of her marriage with writer John Gregory Dunne. It was an unusual, beautiful, and inspiring togetherness they had.

Also beautiful and inspiring are photographs by my new cyberfriend, Russ Taylor. Incredible pictures from around the world. Really amazing stuff. Check it out:
Russ Taylor's photo journal.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Where Have I Been?

So I was checking out the website for the Afro-Punk Festival in Brooklyn that has already come and gone this month (you'll find live clips, videos, and some great bands on the site), and came across P.O.S. (Pain of Salvation). I feel like I've arrived at Nirvana... rap, hip-hop, could you call it punk?, and pop...all together? Get out! I love this song, "P.O.S. Is Ruining My Life," so I share it, with the knowledge that it's totally old news. (If you're short on time, there's a nice 60-second stretch starting at about the :55-second mark.)

Tomorrow I will write about the book I just finished reading, Joan Didion's memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, which had me up at 2:00 am in its final pages weeping into my pillow. Jesus.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tether Free Vision: Who Knew?

Check it out. I'm quoted on a life coaching website. Right under Marianne Williamson. Left hand side. So weird.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

In the absence of inspiration

I'm re-reading this great spiritual book, Search for Serenity, from 1959, by a dude named Lewis F. Presnall. I love this book. I think the following is one of the best pedestrian descriptions of surrender that I've ever read (forgive the default masculine pronoun ... it was the Fifties after all):

"One who has the habit of success is like a man who walks down a corridor or hallway, along which there are doors on both sides ... If [a door] swings open, he can take a peek inside and see if it is the room he wishes to enter. But if he comes to a door which does not respond to a gentle push, he does not stand there and batter futilely at it with his fists. If it does not open easily, he knows it is either not the door that he should enter or it is not the time to go through it.

To take this attitude toward life, one must have a belief in the goodness of the universe ... The man who believes that he designs his own future in his own limited wisdom will never be content ... There must be the conviction that the purposes of one's life are best served when he is going along the lines of the mainstream of the universe. He must know that if he thinks right and stays relaxed, trying to do his best each day, that the universe will provide the best he is capable of receiving."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Best Pool Party Ever: Gogol Bordello at McCarren Pool, June 20, 2008

Every time I think the thrill is gone, something happens, mid-concert. What that something is, is hard to describe. All I know is that the minute I give up on the idea of being transported, my feet start to lift and my body remembers one of the things it is meant for: to be crowded amongst other bodies--one body, one fist in the air--not woman anymore, not "Laura," just rush and shock of energy and worship and that old Greek moment of creative force manifest in performer, god in the accordion, god on the drums, god in the Ukrainian's mustache, god in the people next to me, us screaming in each others' god-like faces.

Come to the front of a stage at the edge of a giant drained out swimming pool in a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn and you won't find a congregation more ecstatically present. The next thing you know it's 2 in the morning and you're massaging Charlie horses out of your calves (from all the god in the jumping) knowing you won't need to sleep again for at least 80 years.

[you can't see the band at all in the clip below, and the sound is pretty fuzzy, but you'll get an idea of the ecstatic nature of the crowd--which really starts about 35 seconds in. It was at this point in the show when the drained pool we were all in became more than a pool....]

I stayed front and center for the whole show, one hand on the rail at all costs, and two fine protectors who had my back: Tama (Samoan) and Vesko (Bulgarian)--hunky bare-chested pals clad in silky purple scarves.

Best encore of "Baro Foro" I've ever seen (and this was show number 6 for me), co-starring Manhattan Samba--a 40-person-strong marching band with drums, bells, whistles--and one of Gogol Bordello's most satisfying and raucous fake endings yet: lights off, a pause that lasted forever, then BOOM, lights UP, Sergei at the front with his violin, bow paused above the strings, a quick raise of the eyebrows followed by one strong loud stroke, and off they go ... for ... how long was it? Ten more minutes? Hours? Days?

They played "Immigrant Punk" which I haven't heard live since my first show two years ago!

My friend J. put it perfectly later that night as I walked her to the G train. It was her first GB show ever (and she held her own in the pit!); she said, as she walked next to me with a literal bounce in her step, "I just feel like after something like that: I can do anything. My life can be whatever I want it to be. Everything feels possible!"

After participating in the surge of humanity that is the pit at GB shows, that is their music, their commitment to their audience, their willingness to go full force full blast for as long as they are allowed, one can't help but feel that anything really is possible, that you are possible, that people are good, and the human body can endure hours of something it isn't physically prepared for because somehow it knows that it has a responsibility to the spirit...

[Video clip of "Not a Crime" filmed from the shallow end at the very beginning of the show (song #2). More crowd mania and more of the band....]

Woo hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

[the above pics, with the exception of the first and the pic of Pamela screaming because she never wants to be young again, were taken by great NYC music photographer, Jonny Leather--click here for his review of the show and here to go to his website for a lot more pics of other concerts]

Monday, June 16, 2008


A longtime acquaintance of mine lives and works in Thailand and he just sent me a slew of pictures. This one is mint, his favorite sign, he says, in the country (click on it so you can zoom in):

I always had a feeling I might not be allowed to enter the kingdom...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Two things

1) Saw Ms. Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles play last night at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington, MA. They were awesome. Part country, part rock, part rock-a-billy. As my friend R. would say, she is a pistol! Hilarious, strange, beautiful, and, god, who can't admire a woman in cowgirl boots, a gold lamme top, a short ruffly pink skirt, and an electric guitar hanging from her by a strap covered in stars?

You can listen to a few tracks on her website, and I'd recommend downloading "On the Corner" from I-Tunes, and/or, my favorite, the slow song "Ring in the Shape of a Heart" (which they played last night which made me very happy and made me cry a little, too...).

2) So I generally laugh several times a day...and I thought it worth it to share the thing that brought on today's first. I subscribe to a podcast out of Vienna, Austria, called Chat Chapeau. And I read this, the new description of their 'cast, on I-Tunes:
Chat Chapeau: Balkan Groove and Gypsy Madness

Cat in a hat--in French it's chat chapeau.
In Spanish it's a gato in a sombrero.
In German it's a Katze in a Hut.
I also know it's a gwonka in a bonkeauank in Eskimo.
Now if you will allow me sir--but please don't think I'm pushing--I think that I can tell you--what it is in Russian: Chapka, shlyapa--what?-- It's a chapka in a shlyapa, right!
It's a cat of many countries--it's a cat of many hats-- it's a gufee in a busbee--it's a snaka in a snak. But that's enough of that. It's a cat in a hat. (Thanks to Dr. Seuss!)
"But..." you may ask, "if it's about music from Eastern-Europe, Balkan and with Gypsy roots... why a French name for the label?"
Well, it sounds better, doesn't it? And actually that's what really matters: the sound!

(I think it was the "gwonka in a bonkeauank in Eskimo" that really got me the first read through. And "snaka in a snak" didn't help matters.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cashing in on the Flood

So I'm reading this Times article about the flood in Cedar Rapids and came across this paragraph toward the end, which, surprisingly, went by without comment from the writer. I know it's not a laughing matter, but someone might want to tell this guy that he probably could have made more than ten bucks.

Demenick Ankum drove to his house on 19th Avenue to save anything he could. By the time he finished packing, his car was underwater. He had to pay a neighbor, Louie Brundidge, $10 to rescue him from the house in Mr. Brundidge’s red aluminum boat.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

To Nobody

I just finished reading Jane Mead's The Lord and the General Din of the World, her first book, published in 1996 (and winner of the 1995 Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize). I've had to read it slow--it's intense and dark and amazing.

There are many gems, but this one is the one I keep going back to, re-reading, for its sounds, its line breaks, the way you have to let it pull you through its long sentences...

To Nobody: February 20, 1985
(On the way to K Mart to buy a filing cabinet.)

What I wanted was a solid exchange
of cash for steel, but
the surcharge--that hallucinatory
exchange of pleasantries
that turns existence to the air
around a curtsy--was more
than I could pay
and I kept driving.
The white fields
have a world to themselves,
but human silence needs
a human shelf, so I depended
on the way I knew--
each time I shifted gears--
the team of Swedes
who made my car and, trusting
only that solid connection,
drove. Here at the Stagsfoot
Motel, I'll M.C.
my life tonight. No more
smiles at the register, no more
false currency. Disregard
is a counterfeit word:
the things we choose
to do define us. So,
while I may choose,
one day, to forgive her,
I do not mourn Sarah.
        August 1, 1977.
        Or Reed.
        June 18, 1978.
        I do not mourn Paul.
        November 15, 1983.
        Or Dad.
        Twenty-nine days now.

You cowards.

I have snapped the back
of this year in some town
I do not care to know
the name of. Here
at the Stagsfoot
breath of mildew
where I'm M.C.,
keeper of the key
to room one-o-one,
I do not even mourn
the voices between my ears
or care
why they cut out.
You cowards.

What I wanted was steel and square.
Cash for gas.
Grease for gears.

And this lovely excerpt from "LaGuardia, the Story," also in the book.

Some nights I make a killer pot of coffee--
I put on the music that I love,
and dance. Sometimes I dance for hours.
Go to your phonograph. Put on
Brandenburg Concerto Number Six.
This is about something very hard.
--This is about trying to live with that music
playing in the back of your mind.
--About trying to live in a world
with that kind of music.

Long live Ms. Mead.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

flowers et al

The flowers were from the gent who was supposed to take me out on Friday night. He took me out Sunday afternoon instead. It was sweet. And I'll leave it at that .... hoping there will be another one.

On other fronts, just reconnected via MySpace with my friend Simon who is the second boy I ever kissed... When we first met, I was 12 years old and he was 15 (he seemed so OLD). Now I'm 36 and he's 39 and it's just wild how time shapes itself into what and who are now. He used to write me these romantic love letters, mailed from Oakland, on blue stationary, in big loopy hand writing, each one started with "Dear Blue Eyes..." Ah, 12 years old.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday routine

It's my third Saturday doing the following:

Waking up late, eyes puffy with sleep, feeling thankful I now have glasses to tone down the puffy.

Walking with a slow and easy gait in my new comfortable sneakers four blocks to the Saturday morning Hudson Farmer's Market.

What I bring home each Saturday:
1) A dozen local eggs (brown, green, ecru).
2) A bunch of kale from the guy with the baseball hat and the radishes (even though I always have some left at home, it's so beautiful I can't resist; plus, I'm just happy all these farmers are here selling their goods).
3) My favorite and the most expensive transaction: a bouquet of wildflowers from the flower lady and her sweet teenage son.

Today I upped the ante and bought a $12 bouquet (versus the regular $10). I'm horrible with names of flowers...but here it is...

Gorgeous, huh?
For three weeks I have had flowers all over my apartment. It's been suprisingly therapeutic.

I've spent too many weekends wishing there was someone in my life to buy me flowers; three weeks ago, I saw them at the market and thought: well, if no one is going to buy them for me then...

I spent some time this morning shaking old petals off of last week's into a glass bowl, salvaging the few blooms still alive and floating them in another bowl for my night stand, and then letting the vases soak to ready them for this week's arrangement.

The irony? I got a call from a florist in Hudson saying they had a delivery for me, but no address. It won't arrive until after 2pm is what the lady at the Crazy Daisy said. I'm guessing it's from my friend who was supposed to take me on a date last night (a first date) and called to see if, for reasons I won't go into, could we make it 9pm instead. To which I replied, not so warmly, "let's just do it another time" (as any girl in her right mind would?). He said he was sorry, but I couldn't bring myself to say "that's okay." But if the flowers are from him, I may give it a try.

With me, my right mind, and my available single self, I sauntered off with my girlfriends to see Sex and the City instead, and had a blast. The movie, in another twist of irony, was chock full of flowers and "I'm sorry"s. Weird.

That's today's report....

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Blogging of Now

Tomorrow will be an official 30 days since I've written anything here. I had a bit of an existential blog crisis: What am I doing here? What's my purpose? What do I write next? What do I want out of this? Where am I headed? What is there to look forward to? Etc.

But I've been reading The Power of Now again and Eckhart tells me that this kind of crisis is what happens when you realize in a deep way that fulfillment isn't "on the way," isn't somewhere else, is in simply Being in the power of Now.

So I've decided, just for today to Blog in the Now.

Right now, I'm drinking my coffee--I bought the grounds at the French cafe in town. I was desperate. Everything else was closed. It was one of those air-tight bricks from Europe. When I opened it up, I knew I was in trouble... LIGHT BROWN grounds! No matter how strong I make this stuff, it still tastes like coffee-flavored water. But I continue to drink it, and continue every morning to say "bleck" after I take my first sip and reminisce about the old days of French Roast and coffee I could chew.

I'm sure I could tie this in with the power of now, but I'll refrain.

My (experimental?)nonfiction piece will be coming out in Post Road in July...upon which I'll be e-mailing everyone I know (even those folks I haven't e-mailed in a long, long time) to let them know, and to tell them to order the issue, or even subscribe, since literary magazines--the generous venues of the work of unknown writers like me--need money and subscribers so they can continue to publish us. Plus, Post Road rocks. So this isn't the end of this matter.

The sun on the horizon?: June 20, McCarren Park Pool, Brooklyn, NY. Me, J., K., and my pops for another Gogol Bordello extravaganza....

until another now,

Thursday, May 01, 2008

National Poetry Month: Leroi Jones/Amira Baraka

This is the last poem, tho technically not on the last day of April.

It was a good idea, this daily posting for a month, and while I didn't live up to the task I set before myself, I did post some pretty great poetry.

Here's a last, by Leroi Jones, a.k.a. Amiri Baraka:

Ballad of the Morning Streets

The magic of the day is the morning
I want to say the day is morning high
and sweet, good

The ballad of the morning streets, sweet
voices turns
of cool warm weather
high around the early windows grey to blue
and down again amongst the kids and
broken signs, is pure love magic, sweet day
come into me, let me live with you
and dig your blazing

Monday, April 28, 2008

National Poetry Month: J.D. McClatchy

From Feb. 25, 2008, New Yorker. I haven't read much of his other work, but I love this one (I'm not usually a big fan of what gets published in the New Yorker by way of poetry... sometimes, but not often)The poem won't maintain its original formatting least not in a way that I can figure just imagine a little more air in it, more indents, a little bit tree-like:

Chinese Poem
by J.D. McClatchy

Whatever change you were considering,
Do not plant another tree in the garden.
One tree means four seasons of sadness:
What is going,
What is coming,
What will not come,
What cannot go.

Here in bed, through the south window
I can see the moon watching us both,
Someone's hand around its clump of light.
Yours? I know you are sitting out there,
Looking at silver bloom against black.

That drop from your cup on the night sky's
Lacquer you wipe away with your sleeve
As if its pleated thickets were the wide space
Between us, though you know as well as I do
This autumn is no different from the last.

Coming up in May on Outloud: Laura will attempt to "grow a boyfriend," courtesy of her friend L.P. The package says "can grow to 600% his original size" (note that the original size of the boyfriend is 3/4 of an inch...That's his whole body, mind you, en total, not just the one part. But while we're on that...What if nothing grew except that one part, 600%! Imagine? Oh lord...we are talking building-sized).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day Count Has Become Obsolete: Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith was one of my poetry professors at the University of Alabama. His book The Other Lover was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. The following poem was published in a recent issue of American Poetry Review with 6 other "devotion" poems. You can read the others online here: American Poetry Review.

Devotion: Red Roof
by Bruce Smith

Write like a lover. Write like you're leaving yourself for another.
Write like you're de Beauvoir, object and subject. Write
like you must rescue yourself from yourself, become scrupulous
to the body and the rain that floods you with rage and the crude
sublimities: there was a lip print on the plastic glass wrapped
in the misty domestic interior of the room. Write like there's evidence,
there's tenderness, like Paris were the scene of a crime. A lipstick
by the bed, a phone number, a plastic glass with prints. The remote
is toxic. At the Red Roof Inn they couldn't recommend an alternative
to suffering. Like lovers we spoke of short term/long term knowledge--
and the rest in the circle of hell the telephone allows. I want
my piracy, I thought you said. The familiar doesn't travel well.
The soul doesn't travel well. Poetry spoils. Write like you're Mingus.
Write like the evidence vanishes. Inflammable walls between devoted
ghosts--smoke and the convention of the fourth wall pulled down.
Drama majors, drum majors next door, the all-night opera with starling
sounds. The Red Roof Inn hath me in thrall. The highway sounds
like the sea in storm, pirates with their perishable cargoes.
Their ship goes down. The soul doesn't travel well. Write
like the ship goes down with your belongings. Write like you're in thrall.
We're blown around like Paola and Francesca, lovers, carnal,
windy starlings, misled by the sublime--the binge and purge
of the book and the body. I'm wildly attracted to you winter and fall
when I fly the migration routes from Corpus Christi to Saint Paul.
Or is that summer? I do not travel well. I travel like a lover,
boy king or saboteur, stormed by the fluids of the body.
I'm wildly attracted to your feathers, your lip and book.
My greatest vows are in the getting out. I kneel to look under
the bed for belongings. I've pirated myself. Thank you for the chance
to fly, the leaving. Thank you for the soft pink tissue, your cargo
of ghosts. The telephone is toxic. The body's a rumor. The leaf
blower in the opera is over the top. Thank you for the brimming.
Thanks for the speech acts and action, the alternative to suffering.
Sorry for the hoarse sobs. I'm wild about the red noise of the traffic,
the holy wars of the starlings. Flying back all the songs are of glistening.
Flying back the passenger in 5D is unwilling to rescue others, unwilling
to rescue himself. Write like you've lost your belongings.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day #?: Yussi Breningstall, Age 10

This poem comes from Alligator Juniper, the first lit mag I ever worked on, out of Prescott College in Arizona.

We had a yearly contest and during this particular reading period, one of the contest entries was 10-year-old Yussi Breningstall's poem. We didn't publish it in the body of the magazine, but we did print it in the editor's note.

Oh Summers Past
by Yussi Breningstall

Oh, summers past
Oh, I remember Sholom
going swimming with me.
Oh, summers past
Oh, I remember Shimshon
on the baseball field.
Oh, he did hit those balls.
Oh, summers past
Oh, I can remember
Dovber in the attic
of the bunkhouse
Oh, summers past
Oh, I remember Mendy
and me planning to
raid another bunk.
Oh, summers past
Oh, I remember Shmueli laughing
when I told him
about the tooth fairy.
Oh, summers past.

I did google young Yussi, who would be 22 years old now, but only found a marriage announcement to one Cheved Miller. No photo. And no way to know if it's actually him. Oh, summers past.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I have completely lost my will to post poems. I'm tired. It's been a long week.

I have hopes for tomorrow (they're of the rattier variety but they are hopes nonetheless).

And y'know, there's still that slide show I promised way back when. Oh how projects just slide into the crapper. It's hard to keep up with everything I want to do, complete, share.

Take this yam for instance:

This yam has been friends with my kitchen window sill for a good...mmmh...6 and 1/2 months now, the candles from my birthday brown rice krispy treats have stuck by it all this time. I still remember it now in its youth--how robust, how healthy, how full of life! (sniffle sniffle) But the candles cheer me up. And there are more yams in the dirt. As soon as I'm finished grieving I'll go find me another.

And now I must go do kitchen detail (no, I will not be moving the yam yet. I'm not ready to say good-bye). Then sleep. Tomorrow is laundry day. (Boooooo!) And I want to clean my closet because they say you have to make room in your closet in order for the things you want to entre vouz.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

American Wedding Video: Play by Play

So here's the YouTube version of the Gogol Bordello video (see video guide below).

00:14/15 seconds = My pop's face.
1:01 = You can see a strand of my hair, and a teensy part of my face (I mean, if you freeze it and really look). Eugene is actually singing right AT me. Couldn't they have let the camera wander a little bit farther to the left?
1:17 = Pop and Ann dancing directly behind Eugene and back of dance floor; it's quick, but it's them.
1:35/36 = The infamous scene of Pam joining Pop and Ann at the table by flipping her skirt into his lap.
1:49 = If you freeze, and look directly to left of the maroon-vest wearing member of Gogol Bordello (it's Oren Kaplan for those of you who are familiar), you'll see me. Alas, I am blurry and in my tasteless gray gown. But it's me, I swear.

And while you can't see any of us in particular in the dance scene at the end, that scene was SO MUCH FUN. Pure freedom and joy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

absent without leave...but now I'm back

Oh how remiss I have been.

I can't believe a week has gone by.

My little sis was a-visiting (what a great time), and I haven't been able to face the number of poems I have to make up for. I was doing so well!

I suppose the world did without my favorite verse for the week.

Shall I make up for it? Or shall I just pick up where I left off? I don't even know if people were reading them (well, I know a couple of you have). No matter, I will continue on with National Poetry Month. I am determined!

Aaaah... I can't stand not being perfect. I wanted to build my on-line reputation as a reliable poem post-er.


Also, there is now a You Tube version of the Gogol Bordello video, which means there's a counter with it, which means I can tell you exactly where to pause the video so you can see a piece of my hair fluttering in front of the camera and the gray blur I am pushing myself back from my table so as not to get cheese puffs and finger sandwiches dumped on my lap.

I won't be able to post tomorrow night either, but may be back in the saddle, or, uh, back on the keyboard on Thursday, at which point I will post poems, and prepare a numerical guide for the American Wedding video.

Be sure to check out my friend TJ's blog. Link is to the left (beitel-blog) but also here. Very lively, smart, and eclectic postings, by a lively, smart, eclectic guy. Everything from politics to poetry to how to make oatmeal.

Monday, April 14, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day #14: Anne Sexton

There are so many by Ms. Sexton that I could put here, but I'm choosing one that I think of as a wild card amongst her work as a whole ... I memorized this poem in a poetry workshop, and recited it in poet Bruce Smith's living room, surrounded by books galore (he has the most books I've ever seen in an actual person's home).

If you can, read it out loud--it's lovely.
Following the poem is a short bio taken from the Academy of American Poets website (, where you can also find more of her poems.

The Nude Swim
by Anne Sexton

On the southwest side of Capri
we found a little unknown grotto
where no people were and we
entered it completely
and let our bodies lose all
their loneliness.

All the fish in us
had escaped for a minute.
The real fish did not mind.
We did not disturb their personal life.
We calmly trailed over them
and under them, shedding
air bubbles, little white
balloons that drifted up
into the sun by the boat
where the Italian boatman slept
with his hat over his face.

Water so clear you could
read a book through it.
Water so buoyant you could
float on your elbow.
I lay on it as on a divan.
I lay on it just like
Matisse's Red Odalisque.
Water was my strange flower,
one must picture a woman
without a toga or a scarf
on a couch as deep as a tomb.

The walls of that grotto
were everycolor blue and
you said, "Look! Your eyes
are seacolor. Look! Your eyes
are skycolor." And my eyes
shut down as if they were
suddenly ashamed.

Anne Sexton
Anne Gray Harvey was born in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1928. She attended Garland Junior College for one year and married Alfred Muller Sexton II at age nineteen. She enrolled in a modeling course at the Hart Agency and lived in San Francisco and Baltimore. In 1953 she gave birth to a daughter. In 1954 she was diagnosed with postpartum depression, suffered her first mental breakdown, and was admitted to Westwood Lodge, a neuropsychiatric hospital she would repeatedly return to for help. In 1955, following the birth of her second daughter, Sexton suffered another breakdown and was hospitalized again; her children were sent to live with her husband's parents. That same year, on her birthday, she attempted suicide.

She was encouraged by her doctor to pursue an interest in writing poetry she had developed in high school, and in the fall of 1957 she enrolled in a poetry workshop at the Boston Center for Adult Education. In her introduction to Anne Sexton's Complete Poems, the poet Maxine Kumin, who was enrolled with Sexton in the 1957 workshop and became her close friend, describes her belief that it was the writing of poetry that gave Sexton something to work towards and develop and thus enabled her to endure life for as long as she did. In 1974 at the age of 46, despite a successful writing career--she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for Live or Die--she lost her battle with mental illness and committed suicide.

Sexton offers the reader an intimate view of the emotional anguish that characterized her life. She made the experience of being a woman a central issue in her poetry, and though she endured criticism for bringing subjects such as menstruation, abortion, and drug addiction into her work, her skill as a poet transcended the controversy over her subject matter.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day #12 & #13: Kaia Sand and Wislawa Symborska

I've never read Kaia Sand before I found this poem in The McSweeney's Book of Poets Picking Poets, about 10 minutes ago. And I love it. There's a little synchronicity in that the other day at writing group, I wrote about being on a horse and getting to the edge of the field, and at the edge of the field you see "ten more fields followed by ten more followed by ten more." In the McSweeney's book, she is at the end of a poem tree that begins with Michael Ondaatje and moves through four poets before landing on her.

The President Probably Talks
by Kaia Sand

the president probably talks to someone every day

sometimes his lips are moving, but our volume’s too low

sometimes his voice is a tenth the volume of mine

sometimes his voice trembles inside my ten voices

sometimes his ten words devalue the currency

sometimes we promise

sometimes someone looks into someone’s eyes for truth

sometimes we think we see it

in someone’s ten coughs, tuberculosis is passed from cot to cot

sometimes ten walls separate me from two people making one decision

somewhere somehow ten women join ten women join ten women and march

my ten voices are still talking

somewhere in this city, ten meals in ten days is a boon

sometimes senators dine together

sometimes ten layoffs boom the business

sometimes we promise our poor

sometimes I feel like a holy ten-voice roller

in some sudden kiss, courage intensifies ten-fold

sometimes ten men join ten women join tens and tens and tens

sometimes someone somewhere hears this


Here's a poem by Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska
(I'm going to include two translations here. I read somewhere that this poem, "Could Have," is about Holocaust survivors. I've read it over and over and I couldn't see it/feel it. It reads to me as an almost tongue-in-cheek poem about how we like to make sense of surviving, in general, make sense of accidents perhaps, believe in coincidence and meaning in the seemingly random unfolding of things. Then I found "Any Case," clearly the same poem, but translated so very differently. THAT ONE reads like it could be about Holocaust survivors. Here are both of them, if you care to compare and let me know what you think--the difference is subtle, but it is there, especially at the very end.)

Could Have
[trans. by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh]

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.
It happened, but not to you.

You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone. With others.
On the right. On the left.
Because it was raining. Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.

You were in luck--there was a forest.
You were in luck--there were no trees.
You were in luck--a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant...

So you're here? Still dizzy from
another dodge, close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn't be more shocked or speechless.
how your heart pounds inside me.

Any Case
[transl Grazyna Drabik and Sharon Olds]

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Closer. Farther away.
It happened, but not to you.

You survived because you were first.
You survived because you were last.
Because alone. Because the others.
Because on the left. Because on the right.
Because it was raining. Because it was sunny.
Because a shadow fell.

Luckily there was a forest.
Luckily there were no trees.
Luckily a rail, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A frame, a turn, an inch, a second.
Luckily a straw was floating on the water.

Thanks to, thus, in spite of, and yet.
What would have happened if a hand, a leg,
One step, a hair away?

So you are here? Straight from that moment still suspended?
The net's mesh was tight, but you? through the mesh?
I can't stop wondering at it, can't be silent enough.
How quickly your heart is beating in me.

If you have read this far, you probably will love Wislawa's Nobel Prize lecture/acceptance speech she gave in 1996, which starts with this sentence: "The first sentence in any speech is always the hardest."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day # 10 & #11: Elizabeth Bishop and Edna St. Vincent Millay

(Elizabeth Bishop)

I tried to get this in before close! There will have to be three in this one post tomorrow. I'm trying to keep up...

On my way to bed, here's one for the road: a good old-fashioned Elizabeth Bishop --followed by a classic Edna St. Vincent Millay (how I love her so).

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

(E. St. Vincent Millay)


Read history: thus learn how small a space
You may inhabit, nor inhabit long
In crowding Cosmos--in that confined place
Work boldly; build your flimsy barriers strong;
Turn round and round, make warm your nest; among
The other hunting beasts, keep heart and face,--
Not to betray the doomed and splendid race
You are so proud of, to which you belong.
For trouble comes to us all: the rat
Has courage, in adversity, to fight;
But what a shining animal is man,
Who knows, when pain subsides, that is not that,
For worse than that must follow--yet can write
Music; can laugh; play tennis; even plan.

Thank you and goodnight!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gogol Bordello "American Wedding" video

Gogol Bordello "American Wedding"

[see blog post for 4/24/08 with YouTube version. Better quality.]
Unfortunately, I didn't make it in, but I also noticed that neither did any of the bridesmaids, and they were main there. In one part I can see the very front of my hair and in another part I'm a milli-second of a gray blur at a table, but my pops is in it a few times!

I have to say it's a little anti-climactic. The photographs were so much more captivating I think. And the experience was so insanely incredibly fun, that the experience of the video sort of pales in comparison.

Still, it was good to see everyone again. And now it's out and done and on the air/cyber waves!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day #8 & #9: William Carlos Williams and Andrew Vecchione

These two work together.

This is Just to Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Sorry But It Was Beautiful
by Andrew Vecchione, 6th Grade, in response

Sorry I took your money and burned it but
it looked
like the world falling apart when it crackled
and burned
So I think it was worth it after all you can't
see the
world fall apart every day.

Monday, April 07, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day #7: Li-Young Lee

This is going out to mi amiga, Mo!

This Room and Everything In It

by Li-Young Lee

Lie still now
while I prepare for my future,
certain hard days ahead,
when I'll need what I know so clearly this moment.

I am making use
of the one thing I learned
of all the things my father tried to teach me:
the art of memory.

I am letting this room
and everything in it
stand for my ideas about love
and its difficulties.

I'll let your love-cries,
those spacious notes
of a moment ago,
stand for distance.

Your scent,
that scent
of spice and a wound,
I'll let stand for mystery.

Your sunken belly
is the daily cup
of milk I drank
as a boy before morning prayer.

The sun on the face
of the wall
is God, the face
I can't see, my soul,

and so on, each thing
standing for a separate idea,
and those ideas forming the constellation
of my greater idea.
And one day, when I need
to tell myself something intelligent
about love,

I'll close my eyes
and recall this room and everything in it:
My body is estrangement.
This desire, perfection.
Your closed eyes my extinction.
Now I've forgotten my
idea. The book
on the windowsill, riffled by wind...
the even-numbered pages are
the past, the odd-
numbered pages, the future.
The sun is
God, your body is milk...

useless, useless...
your cries are song, my body's not me...
no good ... my idea
has evaporated...your hair is time, your thighs are song...
it had something to do
with had something
to do with love.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day 6: Jack Kerouac

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh..." --from On the Road

Okay, so the following isn't really a poem. And it's more about prose. Still, it's really hard not to fall in love with it.

Belief & Technique for Modern Prose

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Saturday, April 05, 2008

National Poetry Month, Days 4 & 5: Courtney Queeney and Dorianne Laux

I'm late with Friday's post, and will be off the computer for next couple of days so I'm including my entry for both days in this one post:

2 poems.

1. From Courtney Queeney's book (her first and only so far, I believe), Filibuster to Delay a Kiss. What I will say about this poem is that there were times, way back, when I was this person, and I'm glad someone else wrote it, and wrote it well, so I don't have to.

The Anti-Leading Lady on Longing

I was in that bar where enough shadow inks
over my face to wear it out.
Then I was in a car, propelled forward
by a series of controlled explosions,
strapped in for safety, aware
that at a certain speed no such thing exists.

When everyone else mooned up at stars, contriving a map,
the stars I saw were ice and dust, secular chips,
so I studied the water stains on my ceiling
till I knew those fissures and ribs
better than the cathedral roof of my own mouth.

I translate love from the hush of a hung-up phone
before a body comes to engage me for an hour.
The sound of new snow falling over old snow
outside my window.

I went on with the wrong men so long
I burnished to a high shine, but always my head
insisted on the front door, the calculated retreat.

Nights, I lower to my floorboards
and negotiate with the wood.

I've never met the male of my kind.


2. And this is Dorianne Laux, from her book What We Carry.


Someone spoke to me last night,
told me the truth. Just a few words,
but I recognized it.
I knew I should make myself get up,
write it down, but it was late,
and I was exhausted from working
all day in the garden, moving rocks.
Now, I remember only the flavor--
not like food, sweet or sharp.
More like a fine powder, like dust.
And I wasn't elated or frightened,
but simply rapt, aware.
That's how it is sometimes--
God comes to your window,
all bright light and black wings,
and you're just too tired to open it.

Ciao til Sunday.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day 3: Maurice Manning

Maurice Manning was an MFA classmate of mine at the University of Alabama in the late nineties. I am in the middle of reading Bucolics, his third and newest book. His first book, Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions, won the Yale Series of Younger Poet's prize in 2001 (just after he received his MFA. Punk.). I've been reading Bucolics for a couple of months, because it just has that pace to me. I read five poems, then I re-read, then I go back to the five before it and re-read those. I can't get enough. The poems are titled by Roman numerals, and they all have the same speaker, an endearing, spiritually hungry backwoods shepherd of a sort. He is speaking, in all the poems, to "Boss."

This is one of my favorites (so far).


do you get happy Boss do you
get tickled by a funny bird
or doubled over by a tree
a lonesome tree less lonely Boss
because it has a horse beside it
it doesn't matter if the horse
is rubbing anything or not
as long as it's beside the tree
so simple Boss a horse beside
a tree it makes me happy just
to think about two things beside
each other the stick beside the fire
the rock beside the water O
the snow beside the sleepy field
O Boss the moss beside my mouth
when I bend down to say it's me
you mossy bank you happy piece
of green it's me beside you like
a bird I thought I'd let you know
in case you don't have eyes I thought
I'd tell you Boss what always leaves
me happy if you didn't know
already Boss in case you spend
a lot of time beside yourself

Here's a link to another that I absolutely love; you can listen to him read it, too, with his Kentucky twang. "Three Truths, One Story."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day 2: Marie Howe

Marie Howe is one of my favorite contemporary female poets. Here are three poems of hers that I love. "Part of Eve's Discussion" is the prologue to her first book, The Good Thief, which won the National Poetry Series years ago; the other two are from her second book, What the Living Do, which covers a lot of ground related to her brother's death from AIDS. Her new book just came out, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, but I have yet to put my hands on it.

Part of Eve's Discussion

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand, and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop, very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say, it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only all the time.


(This poem's lines are long; you'll just have to imagine the couplets actually fit into my blog format.)

The Boy

My older brother is walking down the sidewalk into the suburban summer night:
white T-shirt, blue jeans--to the field at the end of the street.

Hangers Hideout the boys called it, an undeveloped plot, a pit overgrown
with weeds, some old furniture thrown down there,

and some metal hangers clinking in the trees like wind chimes.
He’s running away from home because our father wants to cut his hair.

And in two more days our father will convince me to go to him--you know
where he is--and talk to him: No reprisals. He promised. A small parade of kids

in feet pajamas will accompany me, their voices like the first peepers in spring.
And my brother will walk ahead of us home, and my father

will shave his head bald, and my brother will not speak to anyone the next
month, not a word, not pass the milk, nothing.

What happened in our house taught my brothers how to leave, how to walk
down a sidewalk without looking back.

I was the girl. What happened taught me to follow him, whoever he was,
calling and calling his name.


The Last Time

The last time we had dinner together in a restaurant
with white table clothes, he leaned forward

and took my two hands in his and said,
I'm going to die soon. I want you to know that.

And I said, I think I do know.
And he said, what surprises me is that you don't.

And I said, I do. And he said, What?
And I said, Know that you're going to die.

And he said, No, I mean know that you are.

If you google her, you can find more of her work.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day 1: William Stafford

Happy National Poetry Month!

Here's my first entry. I hope to post something every day this month--hope you'll come back and visit and forward to others.

William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1914. He wrote 50 books before his death in 1993. One of his books, Traveling Through the Darkness won the National Book Award when he was 48 (in 1963). He had a close friendship with poet Robert Bly and also had a habit of writing daily before dawn, which he did for decades. "He was marvelously funny," writes poet Naomi Shihab Nye, "...he embraced and saluted the process of working. He meandered, and valued the turns...He dug in the ground. He picked things up and looked at them....He answered people's letters diligently, often closing with 'Adios.'"

One Evening

On a frozen pond a mile north of Liberal
almost sixty years ago I skated wild circles
while a strange pale sun went down.

A scattering of dry brown reeds cluttered
the ice at one end of the pond, and a fitful
breeze ghosted little surface eddies of snow.

No house was in sight, no tree, only
the arched wide surface of the earth
holding the pond and me under the sky.

I would go home, confront all my years, the rangled
events to come, and never know more than I did
that evening waving my arms in the lemon-colored light.

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

If you want to read more poems by William Stafford, visit this link at (a great resource for poetry in general).

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Tonight I ate coconut chicken with soba noodles and broccoli and watched Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders which I'd never seen and holy beautiful movie. Gorgeous. Poetic. Funny. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds! (I'm not going to tell you about a girl, I'm not going to tell you about a girl..."Let me tellya about a girl!"). And I loved all the scenes in the big library...all the angels hanging around, hovering over all the learning. And of course Marion on the trapeze. I came late to this movie--have heard about it for years--but glad I finally parked myself on my couch and gave it my attention.

Ate a killer meal (made by J-Dawg) in Albany last night and then danced the funky-funk to sax player Sam Kenninger & amazing co.

Bought Aveda shampoo and conditioner, and a book of poems by Chase Twitchell that I'm not sure I'll read, but I felt like buying something and it was used and under $5 so I bought it.

Cheated on a crossword puzzle with J-D. (Was it "romper" or "jumper" in the end? I can't remember...).

Now I'm tired. And will do my new nightly de-cluttering routine. . . . then to sleep and wake up for ritual Sunday morning gathering down south.

And all I can think is: this must be SO BORING to read.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Really Creepy...

So I had this dream last night, long and involved. One part is that my landlord, who lives upstairs with his family in real life, is making a movie and he's hiring me to be in it. I am sitting at a table with his son (he doesn't have a son in real life, but two daughters), and for some reason he is worried that their might be some weird hanky-panky going on between me and his son on the set.

As a way to discuss it, my landlord has created this thick binder with all these print outs of Biblical passages, so the three of us are at their dining room table with the binder. (They are religious in real life; i.e., once when I lost my wallet, and I was looking for it outside in my car, my landlord came up and took my hands and said, "Let's pray," and proceeded to invoke Jesus' name and ask for his guidance and all that.)

In the dream, my landlord starts quoting passages from the Bible. His son totally understands the underlying messages (keeps saying, "I know, Dad," and "Okay, fine. I get it"). I'm totally not following but I also understand they are more for his son than for me.

Each time before my landlord reads a passage he says the name of the book from the Bible; one of the passages is from John.

When I woke up, I could remember "John" and then something that was conceptually about "following the Father," and I'd been trying to remember it all morning.

A not-so-side side note here: I do not know the Bible at all. I have never read it, and I couldn't quote it if you put a million dollars in front of me, except maybe some stuff from Genesis that you'd have to have been born and raised in a cave to not know (let there be light, etc). So I googled "book of John, famous quotes." And I f*cking found it! Consciously, I do not know this quote, couldn't recall it, etc.

But this is IT, without doubt: "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father."

I'm so creeped out! What is this doing in my subconscious? Maybe my subconscious hooked into Jung's concept of the collective unconscious last night.

There were many other parts to the dream. Another one included a really strange but really nice hotel clerk named Birdie who recommended that my father and I try a restaurant up the street called Delray's which had shrimp and burgers and "frozen cheese!" She said, "I mean frozen cheese. I just love that stuff!" Clearly, she didn't understand that my dad and I were not the Delray type.

The dream life is some of the most bizarre supernatural stuff around.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Some Small Things

I still can't seem to get on the regular blogging path, but here's some things from this week:

*I memorized a new poem I wrote called "I'm wearing that blue dress I hardly ever wear"

*I cleaned my kitchen on Sunday and I've kept it clean ever since. Those who know me know this is a huge event.

*A friend of mine just finished making me a Pogues mix and is sending it in the mail tomorrow, and I'm excited because feels about the (former?) Pogues the way I do about Gogol Bordello, and I am game for any such exposure.

*I took a sick day today for reasons I'll keep to myself.

*I found $40 in cash that I forgot about behind an envelope on a stand near my desk.

*I kept forgetting that April is National Poetry Month, and then remembering, and then forgetting, and then today, remembered again. Click here to sign up to receive a-poem-a-day in your e-mail inbox for the month of April. (*I've just decided that I will, in honor of NPM, post a poem, well, mmmh, I was going to say every day but don't know if that's realistic. I'll do something daily. Maybe favorite poems. Maybe short-spontaneous-created-right-here poems. I'll think about it. Tidbits that I write in my purse-notebook when I'm out and about. I will strive for regularity!)

*I braved Wal-Mart. I feel like I should go to confession. I hate going in there. I really hate it. Despite the fact that it pushes my politically incorrect button (which is, surprisingly and relatively, small), it's one of the few places in the world where I just can't bear to reach out and connect with the rest of humanity. It feels like the supermarket for the miserable people, and while I don't consider myself psychic, I do consider myself sensitive and I go in there and it's thick with something I can't name--it makes me feel hopeless. The only way I could be in there for more than an hour is if I brought in a huge boom box and placed it on the floor (maybe in the purse section) and blasted Gogol Bordello, and started a really fun celebratory riot with shit flying everywhere. All to say, when I do go in, I don't look at anyone. I just follow the red lines of the main trail and head toward the fabric department (no short cuts, too dangerous) where I buy my cheap yarn and then I get the hell out of there. On this particular visit, I went from the smell of kitty litter to the aroma of French fries to the pukey smell of fruity hair conditioner within a span of three feet. God bless America.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Having Blog Guilt and Dating Angst (Sort of)

I have been feeling like a big fat abandoner. Sure, it's only been a week, but when I read a certain friend's blog (M.'s), I am so envious of her ability to write something, almost daily, and still manage to be funny and engaging and provide good blog-reading material.

I saw The Bank Job last night. If you're not a fan of British crime capers that involve pasties, lots of boobs and butts, loud indoor jack hammering, angry black power men, a few corrupt politicians in women's underwear getting whipped (and whole-heartedly enjoying it), or disturbing torture and beatings by slimy men who make pornography, then skip it.

Worst date movie ever.

I was literally nauseous by the closing credits. Granted, my date was as disturbed as I (well not quite, but close).

I'm trying to think how I can get him back. What do you subject a kind, sensitive, artistic fellow to? Runaway Bride? Horton Hears a Who? Blades of Glory? Mmmmh... I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

At Sea

[If you're looking for the Gogol Bordello video story, scroll down.]

So I think this is the first time I'll be posting poetry on here. Maybe because I feel like there's so much of it out there on the web and some of it not great and I'd hate to be lumped with the "not great." Here's one, tho, that just came out in print, and I kind of enjoy it for its provocativeness. I wrote it for a class in grad school and it was picked up by Painted Bride Quarterly in Philly, THREE years ago (not to say that I'm not grateful; they're picky and have a good rep...but for the love of God, 3 years?!). It's just now out in their Print Annual 4--which is a hefty collection that includes 4 issues bound together. Mine appears in #78, the "Pirate" issue. I'm in good company from what I can tell so far.

At Sea

My lover naps below
while I sun on the stern
in my sundress and dream

myself a woman born
for building ships. In the
cushion of sleep I build

this one as I tarry on our
Alaskan island more than a century ago.
My lover is taken at sea

by a striking pirate
who is, underneath it all,
kind and soft and has

adorned my berth
in silk and jewels from the hold.
He touches me evenly

with kid gloves (twenty-two days at sea
and my thighs are much fleshier stories).
The blue woman and the red woman

etched on his forearms steer
the small of my back. This dreamed
vessel, its handsome

mate, immaculate sails,
the worldly character of the sun looming above,
are all my doing. I make myself

the only woman aboard
my bandit gets to win--a bottle
of port at my hip. What I pity most is the untravelled

stationary woman who at night
falls into blank sleep, and awake
veers from this world's distant climes

and men. The breast is a solemn
and familiar place, frightened of setting out--
but the bones, dearheart, the bones want motion.

Map the body's route then the love you plan
to steal and hoard. If nothing else
stay shoreless. The land

husbands your power.
O serious traveler, ready yourself
to dream, to snatch the sabled yawl

from the hulled body of the harbored boat
and row. In your berth with your pirate
when the aged ship rocks

fore and aft, there is no other region
you'll want more than this. Nothing
as delicious as this old salt in your bed.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

American Wedding Video: The Cast

Now it's time to introduce the main players in this thing
(again, photos, except for #3, were taken by Nathan Jones).

The story of the video is thus: The worst of the worst in American wedding receptions. Boring company. God-awful music. People doing the chicken dance (few enough to make it feel pretty sad). Bad food--the cheese balls are congealed on the plates with the salad dressing and there are questionable finger sandwiches.

Enter gypsy punk catering company.

Enter Gogol Bordello to teach us what it means to celebrate the betrothed, Bordello-style:

Bartender and ringleader played by GB's frontman Eugene Hutz

Catering gals Elizabeth Sun (cymbal player) and Pamela Racine (drummer) carting out the drink and the replacement food, including best of all, the really thick, really phallic kielbasa (sausage).

Note: The food (real stuffed birds, roasted hocks of stuff, the truly aromatic sausage) sat out on the snack table (directly behind my table) for TWO DAYS without refrigeration. By the end of Day 2, us Table 2 residents had watery eyes and took leave in between takes to get away from the smell.

More of the catering staff
(L to R, Pedro Erazo, bongo player, general on-stage rabble-rouser, and enthusiastic stage-diver, from Ecuador; Oren Kaplan, guitar player, he's amazing on that thing!, from Israel; Yuri Lemeshev, resident clown and master accordionist, from Russia; Tommy Gobena, bass player who hales from Ethiopia, a sweet, sweet man; and Eliot Ferguson, drum-kit player, the one who Eugene says is "the only sane member of the band," from the wilds of California)

and, we can't forget ...

The guy who starts all the musical trouble at this particular reception (Sergey Rjabtzev, violinist and former theater director in Moscow)

Stay tuned for more....

photos by