Saturday, December 28, 2019

Quotes of the week

TV screen of empty bar whose proprietor is watching an old French movie

Tiny new potatoes

Overheard after a performance of the Messiah, singalong:

"Wrinkles and laxity are wrinkles and laxity."

"I am a living, breathing, walking, talking potato."

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

It's ART, for heaven's sake, not widgets

A paying market is a rare place. I understand the economic realities of publishing poetry; supply/demand comes to mind. But it is art, and it's hand-made, so to speak, and we folk who work on writing it give a lot of time and devotion to bringing it forth. And not only is poetry art, we write it essentially for the love of it, for free. How dreadfully hard can it be to send out an individual email to the rejected writer? or the accepted one, for that matter? Just two months ago, I nearly missed an acceptance from  B O D Y, a very cool venue that is open to some of my weirder productions. And these editors are extraordinarily gracious and supportive. They paid me the compliment of rejecting an earlier submission by telling me that the work wasn't as good as my best work, so they weren't going to take it. And they were right!

So OK. I've incorporated checking my Submittable account into my daily routine. But I do miss the one-to-one notifications, and I do not find the new efficiency an improvement. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Something completely different...

.for my blog is trying out products and reporting on them. Paperless Post contacted me, praised my blog and its appearance (OK, I'm susceptible, all right?), and offered me free coin to try out the site and post about it by today. So, now it's today, and here I go.

Paperless Post is dedicated to flyers and invitations--announcements, if you will--for events. There are also cards, filed under occasions and events, and I had to bat around for a bit to determine this. I'm always rather dense about new sites, so it is to the credit of their interface that I managed to find my way around.

You get many choices in pleasant styles--nothing too edgy, nothing too stodgy--and different levels of formality. Attractive contemporary designs. You may feel decision fatigue setting in, so remember:  Perfection is the enemy of the good. I had a good time trying out different combinations.

I was able to assemble a pretty and unique card for my friend, and, thanks to the magic of multiple windows, able to send it to her in good time. The site also links up with your address book, so really I didn't need to have resorted to multiple windows. I have mixed feelings about this, but we've been trading convenience for privacy for years, so why balk here?

Thank you, Helen Chuchak, for sending this my way. It makes a good addition to the other options in my repertory.

They can be found at this URL

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The movies in my head

No really suitable photo for this post. This morning, for the first time since my husband's death, I got back to my old style of dreaming. To wit: longish, detailed, complicated but coherent plots, featuring a mixture of real people, celebrities, and previously unknown people, doing improbable or metaphorically interesting activities. Walter called them three-reelers, and I could always help him fall asleep by telling him a dream (or made-up dream) in a monotone. Or I could just share them and entertain him. Like the time I attended a book signing of George Clooney, who had just published a book of poetry entitled "I'm Just Like You, Only Cooler." George knew my writing buddy Judith Terzi. I couldn't find any pants that didn't have cat hair on them.

But back to our sheep. This morning I slept well and long enough, and woke retaining this dream. Excellent, I thought, stretching, Walter will love this. And then I realized that he was gone, and would never get to laugh and exclaim over this dream. And my dear friend and former analyst Meredith Mitchell had died in 2017. And I don't know anyone--anyone--who has the right combination of intimacy and psychological interest to appreciate this dream. This is the first time in literally 50 years that I've had nowhere to take a dream. I collapse a little bit inside, then a little more.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

One of the many hard things about losing my beloved husband Walter is that I can no longer share new experiences or old memories. Inspired by my friend Diane Schifrin, who created a page on Pinterest for her late father, I have established such a page on Facebook. The URL below does not create a link, but you can paste it into your browser.

If you like, visit to see what he used to like and might have liked now. You might like those things too.

Walter had been a photographer since his early 20s, when he took up photography to take advantage of the air-conditioned dark room at his Army base in Bixby, Arizona. He got a big kick out of the sillier composition errors, such as trees or fountains or flower arrangements growing out of people's heads.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Hail, kindred spirit!

I had a fine piece of serendipity today. I'd gone for a walk in our local botanical garden, which features native plants and plant communities of the Southwest. There is a particular oak tree that must be more than 300 years old. Its sign proclaims it to be the Majestic Oak, and indeed it is, although Walter and I always rebelled against the un-ironic name and called it "the pretty big oak." It is one of the places where I left some of his ashes, discreetly of course, to become part of the tree.

As I continued my walk, I found myself putting words together about it. Ooo, a keeper! But bizarrely, I had set out without anything to write with or on or in, and I couldn't find the Notes app on my phone. Despite rising heat, I hustled over to the gift shop. "Hello!" I said to the young man behind the counter. "Could you give me a scrap of paper and something to write with?" "That's a nice 'hello'," he said, and handed me both. I jotted down what I had, noting as I wrote where it needed some work. "I totally understand," he said; "I'm a writer, and I'm never without," and showed me his moleskine journal and pen. Turns out he writes YA fiction, and was impressed (!!) that I write poetry. Well, I was impressed that he can come up with plots, which I could not do if my life depended on it. We talked Craft for a while, particularly the Surrealists' tricks for jump-starting inspiration. We exchanged our information, recommended readings to each other. I suggested Richard Garcia and Matthea Harvey for prose poems.

Hail, Avery! Long may you bring the right words to paper!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Notre Dame was burning (posted better late than never)

Live TV coverage of Notre Dame in flames. You can see the huge jets of water being pumped directly from the (adjacent) Seine. Every firefighter in Paris must have been called in on this one.

Old Wood

Halfway through my last dinner, I saw the blaze,
unfathomable as the Grand Canyon creaking shut.
The owner confirmed:  Everyone on staff is following

as firefighters poured the river onto the flames.
When the spire lifted as it toppled, people gasped, 
wailed as though a suicide had jumped.

The day before I’d walked the quais, 
browsed the bookinistes, shot mood pics of the towers,
total cornball, through the mist of new leaves.

Arrow of God, the spire had fallen before the sun was down, 
The fire turned the sky red, turned the cross white-hot.

Not all the water in the world, not even the river could help.
People stood and watched, sang and wept.
Rains came only the next morning.

Ash sifted down catching, reflecting coral light 
I’d brought my husband’s ashes in a carved wooden box.
No need, no need.

After dinner, the owner walked me to the door. We sniffed the air.
Vieux bois, she shrugged, wincing. Old wood.
(published in New Verse News on April 23 2019, Easter Sunday)

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Now playing on K-REN? Night and Day

If Renoir had painted Notre Dame

First night in Paris

For the last three weeks, this song has been going through my head. All day long. I don't choose them, I just report them. And, honi soit qui mal y pense.

For Ella,

And alternatively,
for the close harmony!

Night and Day
Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon and under the sun
Tour Eiffel into the night
Whether near to me or far
It's no matter, darling, where you are
I think of you night and day, 
Night and day, why is it so 
That this longing for you follows wherever I go?
In the roaring traffic's boom
In the silence of my lonely room
I think of you night and day
Night and day, under the hide of me
There's an, oh, such a hungry yearning
Burning inside of me
And this torment won't be through
'Til I spend my life making love to you
Day and night, night and day

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Who is my audience? Who's in the crowd?

Tourists at the foot of Sacre-Coeur surveying the hordes of tourists on the street leading to the foot of Sacre-Coeur.

 No, really:  I'm asking. Yesterday I got a high number of hits and visits. Yippee, said I, and clicked on the audience stats to see who these people were. Almost all the hits were from Moldavia. Um, OK, I said, glad you liked my stuff enough to click through my blog.

The Paris Metro, with the continuous cars of Line 1, 5 pm on a weekday.

Then I looked to see what websites were the sources. A gratifying number were from links at journals where I've had work published, but a disconcerting number were from a free porn site. I don't know quite how that happened. Perhaps it means simply that people are complex, not to say complicated.

The police forces out en masse for a group of teachers, from pre-school through university professors, protesting cuts to education funding. btw, gendarme means "people who are armed" with guns, not simply truncheons.The short couple in the center are about to be taken into custory.

Maybe it simply means that I'm not nearly as narrow/obscure/esoteric as I sometimes feel. Hi-ho.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Values on parade: eavesdropping at the Louvre


Back in the day, on our second trip to Paris, we moseyed through the gallery the Louvre docents had given to the Italian Renaissance. Most visitors were not moseying. They were trotting, hustling even, on their way to the room with only one access and no exit that houses La Jaconde, La Giaconda, aka Mona Lisa. We were enjoying the art and lingering, but not everyone felt the same way. One American (Madras shorts, loafers without socks) held forth in the middle of the room, proclaiming that no one really liked Picasso, that his fame was all a scam put forward by a cabal of critics. (As it happened, Walter adored Picasso, so he made some extraordinary faces to keep from laughing out loud.) However, there were also two guys who were thrilled by what they were seeing. They stood for some time before some master's painting of the martyrdom of St. Anthony, namely, the muscular yet lissome saint being riddled with arrows. Then one said to the other, with some exaltation and exhilaration and reverence, "You can't call yourself a man if you don't make Art."

Monday, January 28, 2019

Before it's too late

I have a clutch of poems that I wrote about Walter in his last years and last months. No new ones yet. The widow or widower writing a collection in grief is almost a trope, and I don't know that I'd have anything to add to the canon anyhow. When I write about him again, it will likely be very specific, both as tribute and as bald truth. In the meantime, here is a short poem I wrote after our appointment with the oncologist, the appointment in which he showed us all the scans, told us what they meant, and gave us his estimate of Walter's remaining life.


Not salad, fries, he said,
and the BLT,
on white, toasted, extra mayo,
and make it a BLAT
and I’ll take a Coke
and why not?
for he’d no need now
to stave off pleasure
to save up for old age
having reached eighty-nine
and just left the oncologist’s office
where they told us
about the metastases
and the nodes
and the mass.