Dr. Bob arrived yesterday afternoon and sat down next to the computer. I booted up and opened the manuscript document. Before he had touched the keyboard, or even said anything, the document unlocked. We asked him if he'd be willing to attend our next family party.
I've been putting together a manuscript for a book-length collection of poems. This is the kind of fussy task that I find staggeringly difficult, also somewhat stupefying. Finding, inserting properly, not incorporating any unintentional commands--so many ways to go wrong. It is easier only than doing the same thing entirely by hand. THE PROBLEM is that, when you work virtually, your virtual collection is subject to the weirdnesses of MS shortcuts, those unhelpful intrusions that you didn't want in the first place. I worked over the weekend and had the document in shape to be printed out so I could work on the sequence of poems, something I can do only with the physical piece of paper laid out (or moved around) next to the other physical pieces of paper. I called up the document to print it out--had a new cartridge of ink and everything--and discovered that somehow I had 'locked' the document. 'Locked' means that I can make no changes. Actually, 'locked' means that I can't do anything at all with the document except read it on the monitor. Can't even print it out. We googled the problem and found it to be familiar to many folks. Unhappily, we found also that the proposed fixes were at best pointless, at worst incomprehensible. I called our computer guy, Dr. Bob, who wrote the manual used to train the folks at Microsoft U. Dr. Bob is in the middle of recovering from cataract surgery. Take your time, Dr. Bob, take all the time you need, and enjoy the recovered colors of our interesting world. And when you are recovered, call me and come over and free my poetry manuscript from its weird dimensional shift. Help me unscrew the inscrutable.
...the thing to do is to bake a cherry pie, from scratch, with sweet butter in the crust, and fresh pitted cherries. My reading is tomorrow, I've got everything ready, and I'd rather have the jitters in the kitchen where I will have something to show for it.
What it says. I'll be reading with the illustrious B.H. ("Pete") Fairchild, recipient of many awards, collaborator with many other illustrious writers. The H stands for "Harold", and is that not truly one of the best writers' names you have ever heard?? Herald (or Fair-haired, perhaps) Fair Child. I am merely Purified Green Tree. I am very pleased to have this gig so soon after the publication of Eggs Satori; it's a friendly bit of timing. Shout-out to Sammy Greenspan of Kattywompus Press. But back to Pete. My first thought was to pick out poems of mine that are in his style--I have a few. My swiftly-following second thought was that mine were likely not to measure to up his. My tentative but dawning third thought was that I might be better off not competing with Pete, as it were. There are poems and styles and modes I write that he does not. Why not play up my own strengths, rather than invite comparison to his? I mean, the guy's a master. He's been doing this since his teens. Seriously, I think his first collection was published when he was in his 20s. I've been writing all that time also, but not solely and steadily. My doctorate is not in Litt. I have not been apprentice of nor been mentored by sundry Great Twentieth Century Poets. As Martha Graham said, if I do not speak in my own voice, what I have to say will never be expressed in any other medium, and will be lost.
An example, soon to appear in Goreyesque:
Because of his hairline’s retreating,
old Ovid declaimed, Life
but Art, she lasts long. This he put in a song, and found it improved
— I —
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air.
He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
—Introibo ad altare Dei.
Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and called out coarsely:
—Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!
* * *
. . .and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes
when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red
yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall
and I thought well as well him as another
and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes
and then he asked me would I yes to say yes
my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes
and drew him down to me
so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes
and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will
--courtesy of The Project Gutenberg EBook of Ulysses, by James Joyce
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Eggs Satori is finally published. The collection originally took an Honorable Mention (or was it Special Merit?) in Pudding House's 2010 chapbook contest. The publisher had a severe health crisis, and brought in her son to take on the chapbook end of things--and then he died, suddenly and unexpectedly. Pretty awful. After a few years, I sent my second collection, Burrowing Song, to Sammy Greenspan of Kattywompus Press. She picked it up and last year printed up a very handsome chapbook. Somewhere in correspondence I mentioned to her that I had another collection, though in limbo. "Let me take a look," she wrote graciously. I sent her the file, and she picked up that one too. Naturally, in the four intervening years, I had written more poems, and had stronger work to include, mealier work to delete. Sammy has brought this one into existence, featuring my photo below as cover art. In this regard (and no other) I am like Beethoven, whose First Symphony (first published and performed) was composed after his Second.
I would be charmed as hell to send you a copy. Like all Kattywompus publications, it is priced at $12. If you want a copy of Burrowing Song as well, you get a discount, two chapbooks for $20, such a deal. Just email me at KarenGM.firstname.lastname@example.org with your address. I'll tell you how to go from there. I'll absorb shipping costs in the name of art. And eggs.
Below, one of the poems in this collection:
A Jewish girl, in love with old things German.
Opera, poetry, quartets for strings in German.
Streets of concrete cubes, all closed and locked.
What Kafka meant:nothing mingles in German.
With tea or coffee, elaborate torte must be served.
For birthdays, flowers you must bring in German.
In the first warmth, all go outside bare-armed.
Shed boots and heavy coats. Spring in German.
We walked at dawn in North’s mild light.
Our little private summer fling in German.
We couldn’t understand what each one wanted.
We gave each other hurts and stings in German.
of beer, brewery tents, ponds of piss.
Barmaids heft liter-steins and everybody sings in German.
Change your job?Only
for misfits. No one has new wings in German.
I love you, care in vain.Go where you are headed anyhow.
You need to live where you were born, to cling to German.