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.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I know I've been gone a while

There was the family vacation with two kids under 4, and my daughter-in-law's mother, whom I adore, but it got to be a lot of people. However, I did teach her the meaning of the word tchotchkes, of which our rented house was full. This is the stag's head, and the wooden sculpture of a hand, that greeted us when we walked in.

Then my computer went mute and dark. Our resident savior, Dr. Bob, managed to save all my files, but I didn't have access to them until yesterday. This with the promise of a book getting published in October, if I could get all the materials in by July 15.

Now the computer is back, as are my files. Now I get to reenter every password and upload every program I use regularly. Yes, I'm complaining. Yes, I'm glad to be back.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Dragon Speaks

It says it's ART

This morning in June, the skies are overcast and pleasantly gloomy. Within a week we'll have temperatures in the 90s (that's Fahrenheit; in the 30s Celsius). But June and gloom remind me of a poem I came up with using Dragonspeak.

Do you remember Dragonspeak, a program for transmuting spoken input into written word? I think it must have been named for Robert Heinlein's Sir Isaac Newton, a Venusian 'dragon' who carried around a 'voder' that gave simultaneous translation of 'his' Venusian speech into English. Also, dragons, right?

You will not be surprised to read that I consider myself well-spoken, not only articulate but also clear-spoken, properly-pronounced, articulate. Yeah, consider all you want, Karen. Dragonspeak had to be trained, which is to say corrected, to account for individual differences in pronunciation. I set out confidently declaiming Shakespeare's Sonnet 18:  "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Dragonspeak came back with something very different. I tried again, enunciating the hell out of that puppy. What came back was not the same, but was no better.

I confess:  I got annoyed. I started mocking the program, reading back to it what it have me. This make for an interesting positive feedback loop, where my input reflected and (apparently) heightened Dragonspeak's particular algorithm.

What follows below is a section of that bout of petulance, that fit of pique. I would say that it almost means something. It is found, in the sense that I did not change the order of words nor add words, though I did add punctuation. This was one of four poems published in the now-defunct Status Hat Artzine, in the March 2011 issue on Tools, edited by Mojie Davis


I go a little, fall again, but you are here. There is you, meaning a pain, pain and ravine. You are the root of the year. Usually you are here, and so am I. I am in boot camp, easy on you. I love the movie of the June forlorn. I’d utilize one written word (you name it ) in young orange. In pinyu Hang Zhou was written:  one. You were one. In Asia, words mean pain. Gone, and here’s to dwell on:  breathe together every night, until each breath is his. You know you exude those you lose. A savior shocked into flying will save your new moon. Stay cool and unknown. The flaw in downfall never owned old clocks    not Yuma    not Omaha    not Houston no more. Something clean is in that country. Be gone, safety. It comes to be a symptom. Newfound fame was stones seeking family, compensating soaking sleep of time. It was stones, good enough to say goodnight.