Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solstice: quote of the week

"There's a light
over in the Frankenstein place.
There's a li-high-li-high-light
burning in the fireplace.
There's a light
in the darkness
of everybody's li-hi-hi-hife."
--The Rocky Horror Picture Show

May light return to everybody's life.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sort of a visual quote of the week: C-ya later, tater

Walking around the neighborhood a few days ago, I found this. We live close to a high school; one of the kids must have drawn it. Speaking clinically, it's kind of a scary drawing. There's a lot of attention paid to accessories and style, but not much connection with, oh, how legs attach to the body, nor how the head and the neck negotiate their support. Fashion and style details dominate, but the shirt doesn't exist, and forget about drawing hands--no sense that this kid feels effective about anything except maintaining the veneer. The eyes that see are hidden; the eyes that can be seen don't seem to see anything at all. Transparent skirt and black panties, and ungrounded feet complete these floating figures. The most positive thing I see is that they are holding hands and connecting with the departing tater. I do realize that no one asked me to interpret this drawing; I realize also that, had this kid been in my office for an evaluation, we might be looking at quite a different drawing. Context matters. Anyway, this upset me, so I thought I'd dilute it by posting it here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quote (song) of the week: Soft Kitty

Heard on "The Big Bang", a surprisingly non-formulaic TV series:

Soft kitty, warm kitty,
little ball of fur,
happy kitty, sleepy kitty,
purr purr purr.

To be sung to whomever needs soothing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This is not a turkey--ceci n'est pas un dinde--das ist doch kein Truthahn

Baskin-Robbins, the ice cream chain, sells a 'turkey' made of ice cream molded approximately and covered with caramel sauce.  Happy Thanksgiving, whenever and wherever and however you celebrate it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two vintages concerned with rock, plus quote of the week

Cafe on the Right Bank down the boulevard from the Louvre.  Overheard among the Italian Renaissance masters:  "You can't call yourself a man if you don't make art."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

When strange things start to emerge: Weird quote of the week

From Daniel Pinkwater's "Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars" (Dutton, 1982):

Our heroes have mastered Mind Control, and are messing with the principal of their high school, Bat Masterson High, by compelling him to sing the following morning announcements over the PA system:



Monday, October 31, 2011

All-natural spooky

Nature is scarier and weirder than anything I can invent.  The eyes came out like this in the photo, by the way; I did not touch them up!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reading this Sunday in Claremont

Fourth Sundays, the poetry series sponsored by the Friends of the Claremont Library in, duh, Claremont, California, will be hosting me as a featured reader in this month's reading.  If you are so inclined, it's at 2 pm in the Thoreau Bookstore at the westernmost end of the Packing House, 568 W. 1st. in Claremont's Village West.  Chris Davidson will also be reading.  I will be reading all new poems, ones that don't appear in my chapbook Eggs Satori, which chapbook has not yet appeared.  When it does, the photo above may be its cover.  Guess we'll all be finding out, won't we?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

dotdotdash publishes a beautiful journal

Every page of dotdotdash is beautifully conceived and realized--font, layout, illustration, the works.  Thank you so much!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quote of the week

"Well, I'm not a calculus major or anything."

Overheard in a sushi bar, said by a man trying to sell two clients on his consulting acumen, as he looked over the point-and-eat sushi menu, and got confused over which label went with which photo.  I felt like turning around and shrilling at the clients, "Don't trust him!  He doesn't even know what he doesn't know!"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quote of the week

"I want to be open-minded, but not so open-minded that my brains fall out."
NOT quoting Dick Cheney here.  This photo, btw, is the jack-o'-lantern I carved five years ago.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Quote of the week: block that metaphor!

"If we keep sitting on the fence, it's gonna be a shipwreck, and we're gonna hit the wall.  This right here, this is our wake-up call."
               --Gary R. Herbert, Governor of Utah

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Quote of the week

in the window of a shop going out of business in North Beach, San Francisco

Overheard:  One flamboyant teenage girl counseling a more timid girl:  "What if you surprise him?  What if you do turn him on to [XXX something incomprehensible], and he's eternally grateful that you turned him on to this amazingness?"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Esalen Writing & Knowing Workshop...

I just returned from the Writing & Knowing Workshop at Esalen, given by Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar, now in its 7th year.Deceptively artless, with the air of spontaneity that comes of long immersion, with a developmental arc that I couldn't perceive until nearly the end.  What I mean to say is that it was really good.  I feel like it gave me a mill for my grist.  Above, Esalen's no-shoes-on-carpeted-areas policy in action.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quote of the week

I was a featured reader today at an event  honoring Jose Arguelles and his Harmonic Convergence day back in 1987.  People were very kind about my poems, and in one case something else.  This person asked me:  "Are these real poems, or did you just make them up?"

I confess:  I just made them up.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quote of the week

"I've been putting seeds and cheese out for the squirrels so they won't go after the fruit, but they never keep their part of the bargain."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quote of the week

"He's, oh, just traditional."

Overheard while waiting for my husband at the Louis-Philippe, Paris 75003.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Quote of the week

"The first three years of my life I was naked on the front lawn in a T-shirt."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quote of the week, 21 June 2011

"Democracy!  Bah!  When I hear that word I reach for my feather boa!"
--Allen Ginsberg.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Goodrow, Allen Ginsberg,  Charlie Plymell, Philip Whalen in front of City Lights, August 1963. Allen was back in San Francisco for the first time since returning from India a month earlier.

Photo from the Allen Ginsberg Project, whose website is

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Quote of the week

"I'm telling you:  don't eat the sturgeon at Barney Greengrass!  It's just wrong!"

Dinner with friends, and a discussion of good good foods that have become in danger of being used up.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Quote of the week

He's standing amid a fire and murmuring "theater."
 --Bill McKibben

"Resisting Climate Reality" in the April 7, 2011 issue of The New York Review of Books.  Bill McKibben, the man who first told us that we had broken Nature, explains how the situation with global climate change is even worse than you might have thought.  It's depressing and scary and, really, you and everyone you know need very much to read it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sharp-shinned hawk in the apricot tree

We keep a bird-feeder.  That day, it fed other birds.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Archaisches Torso Apollos (Praxiteles & Rilke)

Du muesst dein Leben aendern.  That line hits every reader hard between the eyes.  I have been, and continue to be, no exception.  (The rest of the sonnet also inspires awe.)  I've been working on my own poem, in response to seeing the statue itself in 2007, but also in response to my long-standing complicated relationship with Rilke.  Even back in college, I was infuriated and transported:  yes, he certainly was that good; and, jeez didn't he just know how good he was.

Recently, though, I've been considering how that line is invariably translated:
You must change your life. 
I mean, that was how I had always understood it.  And change your life would mean, does mean, what it sounds like:  leave the life you are in and make yourself a new one.  Sort of the aesthetic-spiritual version of the beginning of the mid-life phase.

It occurred to me, though, that there is another German word that is frequently translated as "change", namely, wechseln.  So, why wouldn't Rilke have used that word instead? particularly as it covers a champs lexique more in the direction of "switch" or "replace", namely, the usual interpretation?  It seems to me that aendern points more towards "alter", "amend", "modify", that is, to transform your life, whether by adding what is missing or by clearing away the impediments.

This matters only if you take poetry personal, as a possible source of words to live by, and I do, I have done, I still do.  And, there is a big difference between the prospect of getting yourself an entirely new life, and the notion of modifying the life you have been able to contrive so far.  And I'm still working on the dratted poem.

The above photo, btw, is a very stolen shot of the archaic torso of Apollo, from an exhibition of Praxiteles's sculptures at the Louvre. I am convinced that this sculpture is the one that inspired Rilke.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Quote of the week, delayed

Overheard in the Louvre:

"You can't call yourself a man if you don't make art."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

poppies (poppies poppies)

It's getting to be a busy Spring, I am happy to say.  
An ekphrastic poem, "Still Life with Anemones"; "Room at Arles", 
has just been published by Psychic Meatloaf (peculiar name, but I'm in good company).  
In fact, George McKim flouted his own editorial policy and picked it up the day he saw it, which still gives me a frisson. Not that I'm boasting or vaunting or anything.  

Yesterday I heard back from Waccamaw:  
they are taking "My Mother Is a Metaphor, to appear in their Fall 2011 issue.  
This will be my fiftieth published poem, hotcha!

When my voice returned in writing poetry in 2007, 
I hoped that I might succeed in the larger world, 
but I did not actually expect that I would, nor that it would fly this well.
I had gone mute (poetry-wise) in 1989 when I was diagnosed 
with a serious (yeah, life-threatening) illness.  
I tried now and then, but really, it was fake, and I could tell--
you know what I mean.  

But! in San Francisco on a vacation with my husband in 2006, 
I overheard a conversation at the next table that I couldn't parse out relationally.  
When I finally realized what was going on, I was somewhat on fire about it, 
and when we got back to our room, I sat down to write.  
(Maybe it's time to go back again and take another look at the draft.)  

During a poetic dry spell, Randall Jarrell wrote to a friend, 
"Help help, a wicked witch has turned me into a prose writer."  
Don't get me wrong:  I like prose.
I take pains, and then pride, in writing good prose.  

But it's not poetry, is it?   
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir dafuer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quote of the week--it's a deep one

"Not Found:  Sorry but you are looking for something that isn't here."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Technical fix, anyone?

Recently, Off the Coast, a lovely journal out of Maine, accepted some of my pics.  I like this publication a good deal, and I always feel I'm in good company when I place a poem or photo there.  One file made it over to them in hi-res format, but the other two (one out of the cochonnerie series, of which I offer another one above, and the other photo a very different matter of shadows through a parasol) kept coming through at 72-dpi.  I scanned them in at 600 dpi!  I sent them through different email addresses and in tif as well as jpeg formats.  The editor is convinced that the problem lies on my end; I of course am not convinced.  I wish I had more knowledge here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Quote of the week

Trying not to implode over impending gridlock...

"You got me where you want me
I ain't nothing but your fool
You treated me mean, you treated me cruel
Chain-chain-chain, chain-chain-chain,
Chain of Fools"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quote of the week: Mourning the mourning dove

"Naked as a dead leaf,
scrap of bird with a bone-needle beak"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quote of the week

"Sarah Palin is the cheerleader for the Apocalypse."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quote of the week

"Hubris.  It's what's for breakfast."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

quote of the week

Overheard in an Italian restaurant:  "I saw that movie about that guy? on the motorcycle?   Che? And all those people who were really poor?  I almost felt guilty, but then I didn't."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring came early that year

Temps in the 90s in January was scary--what could July or August be like?--but the 60s in March, after some good soaking rain, is delightful. I set up the front yard years ago, and now I give it tune-ups like dividing the lavender, trying to keep the narcissi from taking over, and adding some geranium shrubs.  Wonderful water.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quote of the Week

"I like babies, but I don't think I could eat a whole one."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Quote of the Week

"I've never been asked that question on Valentine's Day."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quote of the Week

"Anthropology can really mess up your mind."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Unheard Poet

No, not me.  This guy installed himself at the Sunday morning farmers' market, with a beach chair, half a guitar case, and an Olivetti manual typewriter.  He offered to write a poem, on the spot, free (donations accepted), on a prompt/topic of your choice.  I suggested unseasonably warm January weather, and he got right on it.  Of course we gave him a buck.  I wrote one back for him, which I am sending out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SHOTS wants The Body

SHOTS is requesting submissions for its issue The Body.   I wonder what they are looking for, or hoping for.  Makes me wish I had been into photography when my ITP was acute--now *there's* a new view of the body. Anyhow, I am certainly no Robert Mapplethorpe, nor Edward Weston nor Tina Modotti (see link below for a good look at some of her photos).  I'm thinking of photos about how people manage their bodies in relation to society (sounds pretentious, doesn't look it), looks and fashion and hopes, like those statues whose certain part has been rubbed shiny by women hoping to conceive. 

I took this pic one morning at the Paris/Montparnasse cafe Cafe Odessa. As we were finishing our coffee and tartines, a delivery truck pulled up.  Six men and one woman in traditional butchers' outfits jumped out and proceeded to unload a nice fresh carcass of a fine pig.  They trundled it over to the tables on the terrace, set it up so that it looked pleasant (considering).  Our favorite waiter seemed to be expecting them:  he provided them with glasses of white wine and orange juice, and brought a glass for the pig as well, then a table cloth so that the pig looked ready to partake.  The butchers provided the cigarette (definitely a French pig).  I suggested a fork, but we couldn't get it to stand upright in the trotter.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, sprouted cameras and stood there snapping away.  All the while, a professional photographer with three cameras with enviable lenses photographed us, and a young woman sat with a notebook quietly writing down what people were saying.  It was quite a stunt.  I still wonder what the set-up was:  performance art? feature for a magazine? thesis project?  This particular photo appeared in Superficial Flesh in their Fall 2007 issue.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Moving on from 2010

Found reflection of the sky and a redwood in a quiet arm of the creek running along the Ewolsen trail in Big Sur.  A good and productive New Year to us all, I hope.