Friday, October 14, 2016

It's a Book! Part 2: The Book of Knots and their Untying is here--and ready for you

At last. After nine years of writing and who can say how many years of living, my first book length collection has been published by Karen Kelsay of Aldrich Press. You can get it through Amazon (click the link) or I can mail you a signed and dedicated copy. You can pay through PayPal at btw, thanks to Lynn Maya for wearing the shoes that provided me with the cover photo.

If you wish, click on the link at the upper left, just for the hell of it, and read the truly kind and generous things that Richard Garcia, Charlotte Davidson, and, David Ebenbach have written about my poems.

Below, the title poem:

Knots and Their Untying 

See how easy others write of knots.
Books show pliant ropes
lying over and under. Loaded knots
cannot be undone by crushing.
Always the challenge, pulling against holding.  

For mathematicians there are no knots, only
the counting of loops and crossings.
All knots are Gordian, made to slice.
Knot knuckle netting knitting: 
not one related to another.
Sounds entwined
yet nothing ties the words together. 

I learned knots that would not hold
in the enduring mystery
of tying my shoes.
Others found it easy, quick.
My unclever fingers worked
to manage the weaving.
Hold pinched what you cannot see.
Pull tight, not too soon, not too slow.

Untying a knot, easy
as talking to people who do not listen.
Persuade the fold to release both parts,
though the center promises to hold forever
against tugging and anger, hunger and haste.
Each knot works to be one though it is two,
two moving back to back,
mirrored without looking,
craning to catch the other pretending to oneness.

Tie a knot for memory, to outwit
the gap between you and your desire
when it eludes you, reminds you
             it is not you     it is not yours   
You are not the string around your finger,
holding close what wants to flee.
Step out of your shoes, unbind your feet.
Time to walk away.

I am very very pleased also to note that this poem received a Special Merit award in the (prestigious) Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial poetry contest sponsored by Comstock Poetry Review. I made it to the top 10! out of more than 1000 entries!!

Monday, October 10, 2016

After the second debate. Warning: heavy irony ahead

Five reasons why I don't mind if Trumpkin gets elected:

1. His posture reminds me of a bear. That's good, right?

2. I grew up with people telling me lies that I was supposed to believe. Just like home!

3. I grew up with people threatening me with violence if I did the right thing. Ah, nostalgia...

4. Similarly, ad hominem arguments are reassuringly familiar.

5. I have always enjoyed Canada.

6. He reminded me viscerally of an abusive ex. It's *good* for me to deal with my PTSD on this.

Essentially, my husband and I are keeping as still as possible until Election Day. To change the taste in our minds after this debate, we watched The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari auf Deutsch. Nothing like a German Expressionist silent movie about a psychopathic director of an old-school insane asylum to lighten the mood.

Above, a friendly French poubelle on a Sunday morning after a solid night's entertaining in the quartier. Note how the bottles are helpfully stood up, rather than flung around to show how some people are too special to follow rules.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Found poems from the Los Angeles Times, Kids' Reading Room

Taken at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City in 2007, after a parent in another room called, "You get your brother in here, now!" This photo was published in Caesura.

I found both these writing samples in the Creativity Corner of the LA Times' dedicated kids' page. It takes a certain kind of ambition from someone, not necessarily the child, to submit a kid's writing here. I read them as found poems, requiring nothing from me except presentation.

       I am the smartest in my family. I believe that I am the prettiest in class. I want to be the richest person in the world.

       I feel that I am not the best at sports. I wonder if I am a good friend. I worry about my family when they get hurt. I am the smartest in my family.

       I understand I am not the smartest in my class. I try to be the funniest in my family. I hope to get better in math. I am the smartest in my family.
                                                                          --Stephanie, 8

I suspect that Stephanie's class was given a Sentence-Completion exercise, whether to inspire writing or for some other purpose. For me, her reiteration of "smartest in (her) family gains poignancy each time.

Next, on Yale:

          Yale is old, but not as old as Harvard. Yale has a church. Yale is a fun place. Yale is a university where I want to go. It is hard to get into Yale. I like it because of the challenges it poses. I like Yale because it is a smart school.
                                                                          --Dennes (no age given)

I wish I could achieve the artless juxtaposition of this kid, trying to write about something he doesn't understand. He reminds me of Donald Barthelme. I'm surprised that the teacher didn't catch the 'borrowing' of "challenges it poses." I confess that I completed the sentence stem "Yale is old, but..." with "...not as old as yo mama."

Monday, August 29, 2016

Quote of the week, August 2016

"I don't want to be realistic--it hurts!"
--Overheard at a coffee place, where else?

Monday, August 8, 2016

This is very very rude.

Fantastic mural in San Francisco summer 2016

Someone asked me if I had a lot of time on my hands. Not particularly, but I was trying to find a different title for a new chapbook, and thought maybe anagrams might loosen me up. They didn't, nor for the title, but while I was there, I tried out some other names, including Donald James Trump. More than 18,000 came up; these caught my eye:

Madam Splendor Jut
Dreamland Jump Sot
Mandates Lord Jump
Adman Retold Jumps
Madder Sunlamp Jot
Traded Salmon Jump
Majored Slant Dump
Laden Stardom Jump
Deals Mordant Jump
Modal Rants Jumped
A Rant Molded Jumps
Deadpans Jolt Mr. Um
Ram Pudenda, Jolt Ms.
Ram Dad Pen Jolts Um
Rump Adman Sold Jet
Rump Adds Mean Jolt
Damned Pol Arms Jut
Damned Pol Smut Jar

Sunday, July 31, 2016

How fast does a wildfire move?

As we drove out of Los Angeles on our way to San Francisco, we saw a wildfire just getting started. All but the last photo are taken from a moving car. Time elapsed between the first four is roughly 2 minutes each. The final photo is taken about 30 miles and 40 minutes after the first. As you can see, smoke from the fire has spread to cover most of the horizon. Here is how to read the smoke:  the initial black is soot from the burgeoning fire; the white is steam from the plants that still had a bit of moisture but had it boiled out by the flames; the final dirty white/pale gray is the drape of ash spreading over the landscape. This was in the general area of the Sand fire. When we drove back six days later, the fire was only 40% contained. The air made me cough, hard, every time we got out of the car.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

More neologisms: riffing on Brexit and Grexit

I'm not crazy about the neologisms BREXIT and GREXIT, so the least I can do is piggyback on them:

DETEXIT: When Columbo seems to give up on the perp and leaves the room, then pops back in with 'just one more little thing.'

ANOREXIT: counter-protest and work-stoppage by unhealthily thin models.

AMEXIT: the break-up of Costco and American Express....

WREXIT: leaving after invading somewhere and really destroying the country.