dainty things in blue

Poetry * Photos * Day-to-Day Life

Friday, November 06, 2009

Andy Goldsworthy

I am going to work on a project a la Goldsworthy in my yard this weekend. Very excited about it!

Friday, October 30, 2009

goats at the National Zoo

Oh, how I love goats! I am finally getting around to editing the photos from our zoo trip earlier this fall.

goals and dreams

Aspirations Regarding My M.F.A. Candidacy at University of Baltimore
• to make many friends and contacts
• to discover and develop my voice and my poetics
• to develop a daily writing practice
• to learn how to revise and to know when a poem is “finished”
• to improve my poetry reading (understanding) skills
• to improve my critical senses in regard to the works of other writers in workshops
• to consistently send my work out for attempted publication
• to learn elements of bookbinding
• to learn elements of graphic design both for print and electronic publishing
• to be more confident when reading my poetry aloud
• to discover many more poets whose work I love
• to be an asset to the MFA program and to UB in any way I can help
• to find my way to a career path
• to create (or begin to create) a public internet database of poets, with bibliographic and biographical information, to rival all other databases on the subject

Perhaps I Would Like To…
• start a small chapbook press
• start a small poetry journal
• create children’s books
• learn letterpress and other printing techniques
• work with children on creative writing
• work with retired adults on creative writing
• establish a local reading series
• establish a members-only online poetry writing group
• collaborate with local independent bookstores to promote local writing

Monday, October 19, 2009

Poetry Book Publishers

Another thing about poetry -- so many publishers are on board! It's very exciting to browse their websites. I know publishing poetry is mostly a labor of love; nobody is getting rich from selling chapbooks and poetry collections. Poetry books are so often quite beautiful in their design.

I've decided to make a list here of the presses I find to be publishing noteworthy books on a regular basis. Incidentally, if you represent a poetry press and you come across this list and have been omitted, please leave the URL of your website in a comment and I will consider adding you to the list. There's no way I am aware of every excellent press, and new ones pop up all the time.

If you find a broken link, please let me know -- I'll look into it.


Adventures in Poetry


Ahsahta Press

AK Press

Alice James Books

Anhinga Press

Another Sky Press

Anvil Press

Apogee Press

Apostrophe Books

Arc Publications

Ashland Poetry Press

The Asian American Writers' Workshop

Ausable Press

Autumn House Press

Avec Books

Avenue B

Azul Editions

Barrow Street

Barrytown/Station Hill Press

Beacon Press

Bear Star Press

Belladonna Books

Bitter Oleander Press

BkMk Press

Black Lawrence Press

Black Ocean

Black Square Editions

BlazeVOX books

Bloodaxe Books

BOA Editions Limited

George Braziller, Inc.

Brooklyn Arts Press

Burning Deck

CR Press

Calamari Press

Camber Press

Capilano University Editions


Carnegie Mellon University Press

Carolina Wren Press

CavanKerry Press

Cave Canem

Chax Press

City Lights Publishers

Clear Cut Press

Cleveland State University Poetry Center

Coach House Books

Cockcrow Press

Coffee House Press

Confluence Press, Inc.

Copper Canyon Press

Counterpath Press

Cune Press

Curbstone Press

Cypher Books

Dalkey Archive Press

Dancing Girl Press

Del Sol Press

Duration Press

Eastern Washington University Press

ECW Press

Edge Books

Effing Press

Elixir Press

EM Press

Etruscan Press

Exact Change

Farfalla Press

Farrar, Straus, Giroux

Fence Books

The Figures

Finishing Line Press

Firewheel Editions

First Intensity Press

Fleur-de-Lis Press

Flood Editions

Flume Press

Flutter Press

Fordham University Press

Fourteen Hills

Four Way Books

Freehand Books

FutureCycle Poetry

Futurepoem Books

Ghost Road Press

Gival Press


Goldfish Press

Granary Books

Graywolf Press

Green Integer Books

Guernica Editions

Hamilton Stone Editions

Hanging Loose Press

Harbor Mountain Press

Hard Press Editions

Heyday Books

Host Publications

House of Anansi Press

Ibis Editions

Kent State University Press

Kitchen Press

Kore Press


La Alameda Press

Leaping Dog Press

Les Figues Press

Letter Machine Editions

Litmus Press

Low Fidelity Press

Louisiana State University Press


Marick Press

Marsh Hawk Press

Maverick Duck Press

Mayapple Press

McGill-Queen's University Press

Melville House Publishing

Meritage Press

Miami University Press

Mid-List Press

A Midsummer Night's Press

Milkweed Editions

Momotombo Press

Monkey Puzzle Press

Muse-Pie Press

National Poetry Foundation

New Directions Publishing

New Issues Poetry and Prose

New Michigan Press

NewSouth Books

Nightboat Books

No Tell Books

Noemi Press

Northwestern University Press

O Books

Oberlin College Press

Octopus Books

Ohio State University Press

Ohio University Press / Swallow Press


Orchises Press

Otis Books/Siesmicity Editions

The Owl Press

Parallel Press

Paris Press

Parlor Press

Passager Books

Pavement Saw Press

Pecan Grove Press

Persea Books

Perugia Press

Plain View Press

Plan B Press

Poltroon Press

The Post Apollo Press

Press 53

Princeton University Press

Publishing Genius Press

Quale Press

Ravenna Press

Reality Street Editions

Red Hen Press

Roof Books

Rose Metal Press

Salmon Publishing

Salt Publishing

Sarabande Books

Saturnalia Books

Silverfish Review Press

Singing Horse Press

Six Gallery Press

Sixteen Rivers Press

Slope Editions

Soft Skull Press

Southern Illinois University Press

Spire Press

Spout Press

Spuyten Duyvil

Steel Toe Books

Straw Gate Books

Subpress Collective


Switchback Books

Tarpaulin Sky Press

Texas A and M University Press Consortium

Texas Tech University Press

Three Candles Press

Tilt Press

Tupelo Press

Turtle Point Press

Ugly Duckling Presse

United Artists Books

University of Akron Press

University of Arizona Press

University of Arkansas Press

University of California Press

University of Chicago Press

University of Georgia Press

University of Iowa Press

University of Massachusetts Press

University of Pittsburgh Press

The University of Wisconsin Press

University Press of Colorado

University Press of New England

Wake Forest University Press

Washington Writers' Publishing House

Wave Books

The Waywiser Press

Wesleyan University Press


WordTech Communications

Yellow Moon Press

Zephyr Press

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Bathers Pool (Venus Is Still Venus) by Robert Colescott

Dear Blog Readers,

My current assignment for my Creativity class is to write about a work of art with the depth, analysis, and curiosity of Rilke writing letters on the subject of Cezanne. What could be more the modern-day equivalent to a letter than a blog post? It's a letter to anyone who cares to read it. (And with all the talk of nipples and genitals, I am sure my traffic is going to soar.)

I chose my work of art carefully; I wandered the halls of the BMA until I found a work that would give me plenty to think about, one that was part of the permanent collection and could therefore be photographed, and one that had a place from which I could comfortably view it for a couple of hours without being in anyone's way. I settled down on the bench with my sketchbook and pencils and tried to draw it. Alas, I was happy I had my camera, because I could not begin to do it justice. Here is the photo I took of the painting; remember that the colors aren't going to be quite right and I am unable to take an unblurry photo to save my life.

The Bathers Pool (Venus Is Still Venus) was finished in 1985 and is acrylic on canvas. The artist, Robert Colescott, died this past June. I was not familiar with his name or his work, but I was instantly attracted to it because of the colors and the title. The painting is very large, perhaps 8 feet tall and 11 feet wide and is currently located in the contemporary wing of the BMA.

The painting features five female subjects, one of them Caucasian and the other four of African descent. The landscape -- the Bathers Pool of the title -- is a deep teal oasis with shadows of forest green and reflections of deep plum and red-orange. The placement of paint in this pool has a smooth quality and may have been applied with a flat knife rather than a brush. I could not see any brush marks, but the application isn't so even that it seems rolled-on, either. The underlayer of the pool is sky blue, but the overlay of green or yellow turned most of it teal. The effect is one of tranquility, paradise, an oasis.

Surrounding the pool on all sides are rocks or perhaps mounds of earth; the shape and brushstrokes (which are narrow but long and swirling) suggest the former but the color suggests the latter. The colors nearest the pool are shades of brown, from shadows of near-black to highlights of orange-yellow reminiscent of some kinds of clay. Another reason I think this landscape may be earth rather than rock is that a couple of the women appear to be smeared with this same color, as though they are performing a skin-purifying beauty ritual.

Further into the distance are mountains, deep crimson bases with yellow and orange peaks. The brushstrokes are broad and thick. The sky, only visible in about 1/5 of the painting, is cerulean, deep royal blue, indigo, and a small amount of black. I've never seen an actual sky this color; in combination with the red and orange mountains and the inability to detect a natural light source, the scene is otherworldly and a bit eerie, though enchanting.

The central figure in the painting is the caucasian subject, the one I assume to be Venus. She is the largest thing in the painting. She stands in the pool, the water hitting her at about knee-height. Her right leg is crossed over the left and slightly raised. Her torso twists to the right and the waist. Her torpedo-shaped breasts point straight ahead. Her belly has a slight pooch. She has no visible navel that I could determine. Her hips are quite narrow. Her arms are exaggerated in length, giving the figure a grotesque appearance. Her right arm is bent at the elbow and wrist, and the back of her right hand rests on her right hip. Her neck is at an odd angle which suggests she is cocking her head to the right.

Now to describe Venus's face. Her lips are depicted as of equal width, like a triangle bisected neatly down the middle. Her nose is very small in proportion to everything else on her face. Her forehead is very broad. Only her left eye is visible; it is very large and cat-shaped, the iris bright blue, the same shade as the lightest color in the painting's sky. The eye's pupil is visible but not prominent. The eyeball is bright white. The eyelid is darker than the rest of the face. Her hair appears to be curled and piled atop her head, with more hanging down her neck. Her hair color is light brown with prominent gold highlights and subtle black shadows. The overall impression of her hair color is blonde. The skin color over her whole body and head is peach with medium brown used for contour and shadow. Her fingernails and lips are scarlet. Her nipples are dark red and small.

Venus's gaze is outward, not quite at the painting's viewer, but not at anything within the painting, either. Her expression is placid, vacant, and hard to read. Her body language is confident, although the crossed leg does indicate her desire to hide the pubic area. She seems to be the light source of the painting, the only thing the color of light, glowing from within.

[To keep myself from getting confused, I labeled the other four women in the painting A, B, C, and D, from left to right. Venus stands between figures C and D.]

Figure D stands behind Venus and submerged up to her waist in the pool. Both arms are raised above her head. Her skin is such a dark brown and black that it's difficult to distinguish her jawline or hands, which disappear into their backgrounds. Her lips are large, red, and puckered as if dreaming of a kiss. Her breasts are large and round. Her irises are black and the whites of her eyes are very white. Her nose, although not easy to see, appears from the brushstrokes to be wide. Her navel is noticeable. Her hair is black and curly and looks like it's in a ponytail or chignon. She seems to be looking either at Venus or over at figure B. The expression on her face is surprise or maybe wonder.

Figure C stands on the shore, sharing the center of the painting with Venus. Her body language is the least-confident of anyone in the scene; she stands holding a fig leaf over her genitals, slightly hunched as if in self-protection. Her limbs are very thin. Her breasts are small but full, with dark nipples. Her skin color is reddish-brown, a mixture of dark and medium browns with red highlights. Her lips are bright red. Her nose is very large and broad, a stereotypically African nose. Her eyes are gray and cloudy -- the whites are quite dark rather than actually being white. Her hair is black with bright red streaks. She looks at Venus from the corners of her eyes with an expression of fear and/or hatred.

Figure B raises her arms over her head as in the fifth position of ballet. She stands in the pool submerged to just below her knees. She has a voluptuous, womanly body, with an hourglass figure and heavy breasts. Hers is the only visible pubis is the painting. Her nipples are large and dark. Her skin color is very dark brown and she appears to be smeared with bright ochre mud. Her lips are bright red. The whites of her eyes are very white and the irises black. Her hair is brown and yellow, curly and face-framing. There are green highlights around her face, in her hairline. Her expression is bemused; the lips and eyes seem to smile slightly. She looks to the left, either at figure D or at Venus.

Figure A sits on the shore, knees up, in the lower left corner of the painting. She has short black and red hair. The only visible part of her nose is her prominent nostrils. Her face and body appear to be caked with dried mud. Her skin is reddish-brown. She looks at either Venus or figure C with an unhappy expression. A gold and white apple with a bright green stem sits near her on the bank.

One question I ask myself about this painting is, "Who do these women represent?" Venus is somewhat obvious. There is the mythological figure, the Roman goddess of love, most famously depicted by Botticelli in his 15th century painting, The Birth of Venus. In this painting by an African-American man in the 20th century, a white woman surrounded by four black women clearly represents something contentious in this relationship. Venus looms over the painting and is her own source of light, yet her limbs are grotesque in their proportion and her facial expression is both cocky and vapid. The other four women look toward her, some of them not directly at her, as if she is something to be admired, feared, and detested all at once. One thought is that Venus represents a standard of beauty that only a narrow group of people fit into. As for the other women, perhaps each represents a reaction to that impossible and boring standard: wonder, hatred, sadness, and a challenge. Indeed, figure B, the one whose expression seems to be bemused and perhaps a challenge to Venus, is actually the most classically beautiful woman in the painting, with a voluptuous but proportional figure and femininely pretty face. Even her pose is most like a classical statue.

One question I have not been able to answer is the significance of that golden apple, beyond the connection to the Garden of Eden and how this paradise mimics that one. The only golden things in the painting are it and Venus; maybe it represents a way for the women to buy into the beauty myth. I am happy that none of them are biting.

I admire this painting both for its artistic merits and its message. I hope to see more works by Robert Colescott in the future. I hope I have been able to elucidate this painting for you a bit; if you have any insights of your own, please share them.


Friday, October 09, 2009

poetry lovers

For all the common wisdom that Americans don't read poetry anymore, I'd like to know why every time I check out a book of poetry from the library it gets recalled. I mean the university system libraries, of course -- the local public library has little of value when it comes to poetry, and what is of value is the most well-known poetry on earth: Shakespeare's sonnets, Walt Whitman, Neruda, etc. University of Maryland (College Park campus) does an excellent job of collecting contemporary poetry in their main library; I am always impressed when I think I've come upon something obscure and it's available from McKeldin. But I'll have it for a week and suddenly get a recall notice. This doesn't annoy me as much as you might think; I am quite heartened to know that there are other university system patrons who are interested in new poetry. It bodes well for my chosen vocation.

Chances are good that the person doing the recalling is a poet herself or himself, enrolled in the MFA program at UMCP or UB, or perhaps an undergraduate creative writing major. But I suspect that most people who buy poetry -- at least anything that's not on the top 20 best poetry sellers on Amazon -- are writers. I certainly do my share of supporting my fellow poets by purchasing their books. My usual procedure is to read a review on Good Reads, try to find poems online or check the book out from the library, and if I get into this poet's style, buy the book. If it weren't for the internet and libraries, I doubt I would take many chances. Literary journals are very expensive and not so easy to find in stores. I am lucky to live in the city of Atomic Books, which carries some of the less well-known litmags. I always walk out of there with a couple new journals. What can I say? Book-buying, especially poetry and short-stories, is my weakness.

You may want to know who I've been reading lately, and I am happy to oblige.
  • Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzler. I tore through this book faster than Hurricane Katrina. As someone in my poetry workshop said, despite knowing what was going to happen next in terms of the story (which is about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans), she couldn't wait to find out what happened next. I felt the same way. Smith's mastery of tone and persona is something to be envied. You must read this book.
  • Lee Ann Roripaugh, Year of the Snake. I don't even remember how I discovered Roripaugh; it was just in the past month. I found some of her work online and her refreshing facility with language really opened my eyes and imagination. I bought all three of her books, actually. I started reading her blog, too, which is hilarious, although she should update more frequently. (I'm one to talk.)
  • Many random things from anthologies, Rilke, and handouts from my poetry workshop. I know that's not very specific, but it's the joy of discovery I am encouraging here. Go up to your university library's PS617 section and pull out a bunch of anthologies. Sit down and read a dozen poems by different writers and find something you love. If there's a famous poet you've heard of but have no idea why he or she is famous, find some of the work online and figure out what the fuss is about. Nothing is more rewarding than making an amazing discovery.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

over Poe's shoulder

over Poe's shoulder
Originally uploaded by sharkycharming
I didn't even realize that today is the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's death; I just looked him up on Wikipedia as I was starting this post. Spooky.

I took this photo as part of my Creativity class photo project. I love the way it turned out. The status of Poe is on the UB campus, corner of Mt. Royal Avenue and Maryland Avenue.

why not start today

I love fall. I feel pretentious calling it autumn, but it's a more beautiful word and more accurately fits the season, don't you think? What I love best about autumn is that school starts again, and this year I actually got to go back to school, too. I am working toward an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore. I feel like I have found the place I really belong. I wish I could be there all day every weekday instead of at work. (Alas, without that tuition remission I get from my job, there would be no chance of affording school.)

I have two courses. The first is an intro class that all new MFA candidates in my program are required to take their first semester. It's called Creativity: Ways of Seeing. So far we have made our syllabi into little accordion books, taken photos of the city and compiled them into slideshows, and started making intense sketchbooks detailing our experiences of becoming more creative. This week we watched videos of Sister Wendy, and this weekend we're going to the BMA to each find our own work of art to examine closely and describe as though we were Rilke talking about Cezanne. The class is a lot of fun and I've met some pretty cool people in there.

My other course is my favorite of the two -- my poetry workshop. It blows my mind every single week because my classmates are so brilliant, insightful, funny, and generous. Not even everyone considers themselves poets -- there are a few fiction and non-fiction writers taking it as electives -- and their poems are amazing, too. I have been fairly satisfied with the poems I've written so far this semester. The object poem was difficult for me because I had this [wrong-headed] idea that there couldn't be people in the poem, and I really like to have human characters in my poems. That poem turned out okay, though. I will revise it soon.

I used to post poems on here but I think I may stop doing that. I want to start submitting poems to journals soon, and having my poems floating around on the web before they land in an editor's inbox seems wrong, somehow. I am not currently prolific enough to have spare poems, you know? I hope that someday I'll get there and be able to post poetry here again; in the meantime, I hope to regale you with tales from my life.

On that note, I was in the post office one day last week to mail a box, and an old man pooped on the floor right next to the counter. Poop just came out of his pants-leg, right onto the floor. A lot of poop. And it smelled terrible. I felt horrible for the post office employee who had to clean it up. I didn't stick around long enough to mail my box -- it was too awful, and the line was really long. The old man just shuffled toward the door and never looked back. It was like he didn't even notice, but is that possible? I hope I never lose total control of my body like that. How humiliating. I felt really sorry for him.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

someday you will rise again, Bloggy baby

Poor neglected Bloggy, I am sorry I never write in you. I have a feeling your time is coming very soon, though -- I have been on a writing kick and I think it's relentless.

Here's a newish one that I don't like too much, or rather, it still needs a lot of work.

Hi Ray, I Still Love You

I had little use for my mother
in 1972. She prayed
aloud on our porch swing with suntan
hose sliding down past her housedress hem.
She prayed aloud for me for all the world
to hear and click their tongues and thank God
they had sons instead of wild daughters
like Kay Kavanaugh on Craven Street.

Do you remember this, Ray? We laughed
from your Impala at my mother
waiting, raving her prayers that some sense
would return to me. A month later,
September, I should have been in school
with the other tenth graders. But Ray,
you left me there. I had all this love
and a baby growing inside me.

My mother and I sat on the swing
and we both prayed. But her prayer canceled
mine out, I guess, because you never
came back and met Vanessa Rayanne,
who looks so much like you but never
left me. Come take the tears from my eyes,
Ray, because I saved my love for you.
I’m still here swinging, praying, waiting.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

t.v. I remember from being 3 years old, part 2

Picture Pages with Bill Cosby! I even remember this particular episode, which set off my personal connect-the-dots obsession. I really, really wanted Picture Pages because I was convinced that it came with that awesome marker.

t.v. I remember from being 3 years old, part 1

The Happy Days opening credits with the Bill Haley song, "Rock Around the Clock." I remember sitting on the carpeted stairs of our house on Brooklyn Avenue watching this when I was supposed to be in bed.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I feel like I am going to die of happiness because I got floor tickets for Wilco at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The last time Chris and I saw them there, we were in Row G -- which was a very nice row, don't get me wrong. But this is even better. It hasn't even been an entire year since I've seen Wilco (in Montreal last July) but I am suffering major withdrawal symptoms. I have had the .mp3s of the new CD for over a month, but I can't wait until it actually gets released so I can have it in my hands. I am considering buying it on vinyl because I really like the cover artwork and it would look nice hanging in our living room. (You know, since Chris says that hanging an actual portrait of Jeff Tweedy in our house is out of the question.)

Damn, I never update this blog. Things happening:

1. It's still winter. It is winter until I can stop wearing my winter coat. It is still winter. I do not like it one bit.

2. 37 days until our trip to San Francisco, Monterey, Napa and Mill Valley for Ian & Caroline's wedding.

3. My niece, Maggie Moss, is the sweetest baby in the whole world. I get to see her again on Sunday.

4. The classes I am taking this semester, though incredibly interesting, are depressing the hell out of me. Yvor Winters' poetry is giving me an existential crisis, and in the other course, which is basically an independent study, I am concentrating on the themes of depression and suicide in the works of Hart Crane, Sylvia Plath, and John Berryman.

5. My house is a disgusting, filthy mess but I refuse to spring clean until winter is over. And winter isn't over until I can stop wearing my winter coat.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

thinking about summer

My brother and I used to play a game at the pool. I would stand at the water’s edge while he teetered at the end of the low-dive.

“Name of a…,” I would start, pausing while he bounced into the air.

“Peanut butter!” I’d yell.

The smart thing for him to do would be to yell back, “Jif!” before he hit the water, but if he hesitated or thought first of Peter Pan, he’d never get it out in time.

We took turns, and did this with all kinds of categories: trees, Beatles songs, the names of kids in our classes. But mostly it was brand names. All of those t.v. commercials we’d absorbed had to pay off somehow.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'd like to dream my troubles all away...

Until about five years ago, I'd never had much interest in visiting Los Angeles. Smog, traffic, annoying surfer-dude lingo, a shallow obsession with celebrities and plastic surgery... that, I'd been told, summed the place up. But around the same time that our friend Ian moved out there and started working on movies, I got really interested in mid-century modern architecture. It seemed like practically every issue of Dwell featured some L.A. County marvel, and all of the houses I loved on various HGTV shows were either in my already-beloved Chicago or, again, in Los Angeles. The place started to sound less horrifying to me, and since Ian likes it and I have made a few friends online who live there and seem to like it, too, I wanted to check it out.

We were supposed to go to Hawaii for our big vacation this year, but when we sat down to work out the budget, we realized that we couldn't yet afford to do Hawaii the way we really wanted to do it. So it was between Austin, Texas & L.A., and since airfare to L.A. was cheaper and we'd prefer to visit Austin during SXSW, L.A. won.

After an ice storm scare at home, our flights ended up undelayed and we arrived at LAX in the middle of the California afternoon. The legendary traffic was showing off, I think, because a crane collapsed on the 405/101 interchange and we ended up sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard for three hours. Not fun. (But it was neat to creep along and recognize every single street name from pop culture.) When we finally reached our hotel, Vibe, we had a bit of a shock, as the place did not even begin to meet our expectations. Over a much-needed meal at Truly Vegan across the street, we decided to stay the first night at Vibe but arrange another hotel for the remaining five nights. As we shivered and half-slept (the window wouldn't close, the heater was broken, and the bed had only a thin blanket and sheet), various songs kept popping into my head: "Hotel California," "Los Angeles, I'm Yours," "L.A. County..." nothing terribly flattering.

The next day completely made up for the bad start, though. Since I have read Helter Skelter about 10 times, I really wanted to see Cielo Drive, where Sharon Tate and her friends were murdered. Of course, the original house is gone and the address changed slightly, but it was still chilling to drive there. The homes in Beverly Hills are mind-boggling, but the landscaping is really what set them apart for me. Everyone there must have a full-time gardener. Ian and his fiancee, Caroline, took us to Palms Thai restaurant for lunch, and then we went wine-tasting in Santa Barbara wine country. The scenery on the way up was beautiful. It's all a little fuzzy after we hit the second winery, but I think we went to five places. (We avoided the ones with signs that said "As seen in Sideways" -- cheesy!) On the way home, we stopped at an all-vegetarian Chinese place for dinner where our waitress had a high, squeaky voice like an anime character. Our new hotel, The Mayfair, had certainly seen better days, but it was a palace compared to our former lodging. It also had the advantage of being only 10 blocks from Ian & Caroline's loft across the street from MacArthur Park -- Wikipedia says it actually IS the place where he left the cake out in the rain. I am so excited; my dad loved that song.

On Sunday morning we woke up bright and early, since our bodies were still on Baltimore time, and we drove back to Hollywood for their Sunday farmer's market. It was amazing to us that during "winter" they had three times the produce that our favorite farmer's market has during its peak in August. I bought dates, raisins, and an onion bagel, and Chris got a loaf of olive bread. It was a great place to people-watch, and when Ian & Caroline showed up, Caroline pointed out Charlize Theron just a few yards away from us. (My other celebrity sighting is uncorroborated, but I swear that I was a foot away from Johnny Depp in Whole Foods across the street from The Grove later in the week. But I reluctantly admit that it could have just been another exceptionally beautiful man who looks & dresses exactly like Johnny Depp.) After the market, we walked back up Hollywood Boulevard, past the creepy L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition building, over those famous sidewalk stars, and back to Truly Vegan for breakfast. We ate too much, and the hot noon sun beckoned us towards an air-cooled building: Amoeba Music. We spent an hour or so making mental notes of things to add to our wish lists, and we bought a fair number of CDs there, too. Then we drove over to Book Soup, but Chris was far more impressed than I was. I hate to say it, but the big chain bookstores have given me expectations that most independent stores just can't meet. I can make allowances for a small, crowded store if the selection is amazing, but Book Soup was kind of anti-literary. They did have a really stunning art book section, but since the place is cramped, it doesn't make leafing through the books a lot of fun. After a rest in our hotel, Ian joined us for a trip to the Trader Joe's in Silver Lake. Okay, not fair: not only do they have amazing wine prices and vegan chocolate chip cookies, but they sell actual hard liquor -- tequila! vodka! scotch! All way cheaper than in Baltimore's liquor stores. We drove around Silver Lake (I have also seen it spelled Silverlake; not sure what's correct) and I got to see many of the houses of my dreams. Then we went to Little Ethiopia for dinner, and back to Ian & Caroline's to (what else) drink more wine.

Monday morning we went to the George C. Page Museum at Rancho La Brea Tar Pits. (The bright yellow photo in the collage is of their exhibit of dire wolf skulls that were excavated from the tar pits.) After braving the school groups to learn about the geological history of the area, we walked up Fairfax to the Farmers Market, which is a permanent semi-outdoor market and not to be confused with the Sunday market in Hollywood. We had lunch at Singapore's Banana Leaf, and we were not disappointed. My fish curry was amazing and Chris loved his salad. Then we walked back down to Wilshire and saw the Magritte exhibit, amongst other wonderful things, at LACMA. Magritte is one of my favorite painters, so I was thrilled to be able to see so much of his work together. They really did an excellent job curating this exhibit. (I put the exhibition catalog on my Amazon wishlist and plan to buy it as soon as I can afford it.) Then we backtracked to vegan-friendly Mani's bakery for some spectacular cupcakes after we walked off our lunch. After our daily hotel room rest, we called our friend Pete who lives in Manhattan Beach with his girlfriend, also, crazily enough, named Caroline. We were in the mood for sushi, so we decided to meet them at a place called Tengu that we found in a glossy tourist magazine that was in our hotel room. It was in Westwood, the neighborhood by UCLA, and we weren't quite prepared for the outrageous menu (prices nor concoctions). Our waiter, Wayne, was super-friendly and helpful, and we all managed to settle on dishes that wouldn't completley wipe out our bank accounts. Chris and I shared a flight of sakes, and Pete got a strange sushi "shooter." After dinner we walked through the neighborhood and had some ice cream. (None for poor Chris, because it wasn't vegan ice cream.)

Tuesday was another beautiful, clear, perfect day -- do they have anything else in Los Angeles? -- and we headed to Getty Center. People had mentioned that the gardens there were nice, but nothing had prepared me for the bountiful plantlife. I have never been into gardening, but this place was truly inspiring. We must have spent ninety minutes walking around the big garden while Chris photographed every plant he liked. The view over L.A. was kind of smoggy, but I still got some good shots. We also had this really delicious melon 100% fruit slurpee-like drink. Oh, and there was a photography exhibit that really spoke to me, and that exhibition catalog is on my Amazon wishlist too. Since it was so nice out, we thought it was the perfect day to visit Venice Beach. Only,when we got there, it was so foggy and cold that we decided to just eat our Mediterranean lunch and head back to L.A. That night we went to Ian & Caroline's and got take-out Vietnamese food from Blossom. I accidentally ordered something that was full of beef, so I didn't eat very much. I played a lot with their fabulous cats, Chloe and Crosby. Chloe got a little too rambunctious and tried to break my camera while I was photographing her, but Chris fixed it pretty quickly. (It did not escape my attention that I have 6 photos each of those cats, but not a single photo of Chris or any of our friends.)

Our last full day, Wednesday, was bittersweet. The last day of vacation always is for me. We went back to Mani's and got lunch and baked goods, stocked up with airplane treats at Whole Foods, and took a stroll through downtown. I got to visit the main branch of the public library, which knocked my socks off with its adorable gift shop. We walked over to MoCA, but sadly, our guidebooks misled us into thinking they would be open. That was a big disappointment. We saw the Disney Concert Hall and visited their gift shop. We wandered sadly around downtown, not knowing what to do with the afternoon we'd reserved for MoCA. Finally, we decided to go back to Hollywood. I needed some introvert time (it's really hard for me to go that many days without any reading or writing) so I went to Borders. Chris went back to Amoeba and then drove around a bit. At dinnertime, Ian took us to a fun, boisterous, CHEAP sushi place. $3 sake was right up our alley after Tengu. Then we went back to Ian & Caroline's to drink our last bottle of wine with them before we see them for their wedding this May in Mill Valley. (Two California trips in 4 months -- aren't we spoiled?)

There were still plenty of things I wanted to do in L.A., so I'd love to visit again. I didn't get to meet any of my online friends, not that I was very good about making advance arrangements to do so. I'd like to do a mid-century modern architecture tour. Obviously, I want to go to MoCA when they're open. I'd like to see the Getty Villa, and the Huntington, and go shopping on Melrose. I am sure that there are hundreds of things I don't even know about that I would
love, too. We were kind of sad that we didn't get to see any live music while we were there, but I guess it was a slow week for that while we were there. Oh, and we didn't get any mashed yeast.

Friday, November 17, 2006

field day pyramid

field day pyramid
Originally uploaded by sharkycharming.
This photo is from the first roll of film I ever shot, when I was 9. We were (mostly) 4th graders at St. Gabriel's School in Charlotte. The girls are wearing shirts that say 'Six Pack Plus'. Some of the girls (not me) started a "club" called Six Pack, and then they somehow got roped into including the rest of us. (Probably someone's mother decided that they were being too cliquey.)

bottom row, left to right: Renate Duerbeck, Jamey Brownd, Tim Williams, Jonathan Sweeney.

middle row, left to right: Mary Ann Santos, Kristin Farmer, Jennifer Kornicki.

top: Monica Rief.

Standing behind Mary Ann and Kristin: Sarah Cozon.

Between Monica's legs: Heather Nivens.

Behind Jennifer: Jeannine Hojnicki.

Attemping to climb onto Jonathan Sweeney: Jonathan Kornicki.

Laughing and pointing at Jonathan Sweeney: Ginny Keane.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

feeding goats in New Hampshire

Originally uploaded by kismet09.
Last weekend I visited my friends Kate and Tim in Massachusetts. We took a drive up to New Hampshire and picked apples at DeMerritt Farm. They had a pig, miniature horses, and these adorable pygmy goats. I fed them the pretzels I had gotten on my flight up from Baltimore (as pictured here).

I know it's a cliche, but New England during Autumn really does make one happy to be alive.

Monday, September 11, 2006

soup & school

This morning's weather -- dark, drizzly, cool but not cold -- kept making me think of soup labels. All I can figure is that my mother must have sent me to school on a day like this with the Campbell's soup labels that she had saved over the summer. The labels always had those ridges from the shape of the can, and they were fastened together with a paper clip.

Maybe I should be Jewish, because I really think that the "new year" starts in September. I love September and October. I don't think I'll ever outgrow my affection for school supplies, new shoes and socks, book covers, buying Halloween candy, brightly-colored maple trees, acorns on the sidewalk, caramel apples, and sunny, low-humidity days. Even the few bad things about early autumn (football season, yellowjackets, increased traffic) are pretty easy to get over. I can't wait to start buying fresh apples at the farmer's market. I can't wait to start wearing sweaters and corduroy pants again. I can't wait to stop shaving my legs every time I take a shower. I can't wait to make knishes and a nice hearty soup.

Friday, June 02, 2006

random memories

I have a very good memory when it comes to food and music, even if there is no other reason to remember that particular event.

I remember a time when I was very small (3 or 4) and visiting Aunt Rita. She gave me yogurt in a green tupperware dish, and we sang the song that goes, Heather is a friend of mine, she resembles Frankenstein, When she does the Irish jig she looks more like Porky Pig.

I remember eating Tootsie Roll Drops outside at Bethany Beach on a very sunny summer day when my brother was an infant. I must have been 2.5 years old.

Whenever I hear the song "Here Comes the Rain Again" by Eurythmics I think of the time we heard it on Sardis Road in Charlotte on the way to drop my brother off at soccer practice. And thinking about his soccer practice always gets me to thinking about the orange slices they had at his soccer games.

Whenever I hear "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley I think of the time we heard it on the way to my basketball game at the Metro Center when I was in 5th grade.

At Sarah Cozon's house in 4th grade we jumped on the bed and listened to Duran Duran, and then her mother gave us those hot dogs that had veins of cheese running through the middle.

At Jennifer Kornicki's house in 3rd grade, Jennifer, Kristin Farmer, and I listened to the 45 of "Puttin' On the Ritz" by Taco and looked at a Penthouse magazine that one of us found somewhere. (That one's a little disturbing -- sorry.)

I remember (around the age of 9) making peanut butter candy with Brandi Pearson (we did this regularly -- in fact, I think I could still do it without a recipe) and listening to country music on the radio. We heard "9 to 5" followed by "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." I also remember that riding in her father's truck to their farm in South Carolina we heard "Tell Her About It" by Billy Joel.

When I was on the high dive at Charlotte Swim & Racket when I was 10 I heard "Everything She Wants" by Wham! By the way, that exclamation point is part of the band's name -- not an indication of my own excitement about that memory.

What I really want to do is make a gigantic table of song, food, location, year, and other people present. I hope it won't be another four months before my next entry, though.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Feb. 9 already? Where has the time gone? I am exhausted. I need to scan some photos and things this weekend so that I have more interesting things to post here.1st grade, 1979.
The sins of Sister Carmen, RSM:
1. Locked me in the supply closet for forgetting my field trip permission slip and crying about it, and then forgot about me until lunchtime when I banged on the door. That was like, three hours alone in a cold closet. I didn't tell my mother until 8th grade or something.
2. Wouldn't let kids go to the water fountain if they lost a tooth in class. Said that we shouldn't be wiggling our loose teeth at school. Forced to bleed onto a kleenex until lunch.
3. On the last day of school, gave out certificates that said things like, "Great at Math," or "Keeps a neat desk." (I didn't get either of those, rest assured, but mine was something about being quiet and good.) Gave Eddie Fordham a certificate that said, "Worst Kid in the Class."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Poetry Exercise

I love to invent poetry exercises, and I hope to post many here. Feel free to use and change this however you wish – the original content on this site is covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 2.5 license. Also, if you try this exercise yourself and want to share your results, I would love to read your poem. If you email it to me and send your snail-mail address, I will send you a postcard.

Have you seen Amazon’s new Concordance feature? Find a book that interests you and has the Search Inside capability. If you scroll down to the Inside This Book section, you can click on Concordance and get a list of the 100 most prevalent words in that book.

-Write down the 25 words you like best from that list.
-Write a poem with 5 stanzas of 5 lines each and use one of those words in each line.
-Each line should have 10, 11, or 12 syllables.

Monday, January 23, 2006

3rd grade


Things I remember:
-the 8th graders all saw Bye Bye Birdie on TBS the night before (as did I) and they walked by our classroom window singing "We Love You Conrad."

-Renate D. allegely stole Jeannine H.'s colored pencils, and Jeannine told Renate that she was taking her to People's Court.

-Mrs. Baisley put a Hershey bar on your desk before you got to school in the morning if it was your birthday. She also gave Hershey bars as prizes for classroom contests, which I often won. For instance, I won the contest to see who could write down the most pairs of homonyms in 20 minutes.

-My Dad had his first heart attack while we were in Maryland for my Aunt Rita & Uncle Jerry's wedding. That was scary, but I got to go to school with my cousin Nancie. Being the little know-it-all that I was, I kept raising my hand to answer questions in Nancie's class. Her teacher kept saying, "You all are in 4th grade and Heather came all the way from 3rd grade in SOUTH CAROLINA and she can do your work better than you can." And I kept having to chime in and say, "NORTH Carolina."

-News trickled up from the little school that there was a strange little boy in Kindergarten who was obsessed with rock music, especially The Beatles, and he had brought his guitar for show-and-tell. Any ideas who that was?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

View from my apartment in the Wilma, Summer 1998


written spring 2005


Taken from where they supplemented
‘stop barking dammit dog’
with ‘mercy oh mercy mighty’
and there might arise
kedgeree from the squeaking
saucepot -- our spaniel’s vacant belly
believed this as we believed
that uncle drilled auntie until
she poured forth cousin Lucy,
red lichen swabbed behind the medulla
oblongata, born scarcely distinguishable
from the Aleutian sandpiper save for
the umbilicus and her soft, featherless bottom.

Be focused now on water led past us
by the host population, wiseacres
sown with summer squash --
one of a dozen noted substitutions
for tangy oblong fruit. They ought to have
a duller word for that. Easy to see
the fulfillment of a brown pod tipped palish
and escaped caged birds flying toward
the sea, their beaks positioned for bathymetry
and meat in streaky sea waters. If we could
watch long enough for proof, the tongue
would freeze between predator and prey,
rattling the corner between two flashes.


written summer 2005


With nowhere to stop, I drove to the Laundromat.
A succession of molded orange chairs
opposed a row of avocado washers, their
mouths like Communicants, thrust wide
for quarters. A boy in rubber clogs brushed
his mother’s long, red hair. I perched
with my knees tucked into my armpits
atop the washer nearest the plate-glass window
and watched the reflection of the bristles
dividing the strands while her hands paired clean socks.
Hair has no lungs and neither does flame.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Missoula, Montana. Summer 1994. Really.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Poets & Poetry-Lovers:

Please recommend a poetry book. It can be a chapbook, too, or even a literary journal -- just something that you love, and that you think I would love too. It doesn't matter if you don't know me -- I will investigate all leads.

Thanks very much.

Friday, January 13, 2006

rejection letter

written summer 2005

rejection letter

never late enough in the day the drowsiness
however it clusters between my throat and eyes

marks the afternoon with unexpected cloudfall
which puts the cat in a position to exit

the smooth lap where I sigh us through a Tuesday fog
out through the visqueened back window as I begin

the remote half-letter you neglected to send
until your unpleasant in-laws arrived with damp

kitty-litter stuck in their soles which suggests you
have summarized us as birds in a rainstorm or

wind through a birdstorm but not necessarily
asylum again from charmless hometown parties

December 1978

It's around this time in January every year when I start to realize, "Damn. Christmas is really over."

On the plus side, only 11 months until my birthday.

Postal Sestina

from spring 2004

Postal Sestina

I’m never well on Sunday when you don’t deliver mail.
I skitter through the kitchen making peach
pie, lime tarts, and I listen to my spy-
story tape. (They’ve bugged the mayor’s pillow
and tantalized him with arresting blue-
eyed women.) But listen to me chatter –

my husband plugs his ears from the chatter
of girls. On Monday when you bring the mail
I’ll recognize the script on a bright blue
note stamped with a commemorative peach.
Perhaps I’ll read it seated, the pillow
rigid against my back, and when I spy

a line of Basque poetry I will spy
the psyche of a lunatic. Chatter
with loud mocking through the crazy pillow
he left in our bed. He’s the yo-yo, mail
carrier, not I. Won’t you stay for peach
pie? Lime tart? Your uniform is as blue

as my January fingertips, blue
like a bathtub daisy decal. I spy
your smile, mister. You have one lovely peach
of a mouth. I jest! My silly-girl chatter
will keep you from delivering the mail.
Could you leave me to ravish my pillow?

What stain is this ruining our pillow?
A yellow tinge has seeped into the blue
ticking. I’ll have to send away by mail
to find a solvent worthy of a spy
like me. When I worry I chatter –
I could chatter the fuzzy off a peach!

Do I dare to decorticate a peach?
His brain drained from his ear to the pillow
and deafened him against my sad chatter
and I turned to find his lower lip blue
and his upper lip stiffened like a spy
at night, this man who never sends mail.

I’ll never chatter to you, my brave peach,
when you bring the mail. Lie on this pillow?
Everything gleams blue when you’re a good spy.

2 Sonnets

from summer 2005

What She Remembers Well, But Not Fondly

A face appeared to hover in the town’s
Marsh Hawk preserve behind the softball field,
way back beyond third base, a reluctant post
for an emaciated visionary
who wore a ring on every digit, thumbs
included. Glove between her knees, home plate
just an obscure echo of “swing batter”
behind her, that face grew encephalitic
and red. Was this a burning beachgoer
off-course with sun-poisoning? A balloon-
seller’s gimmick? She aimed her topaz ring
toward the sun and caught a glint to fend off
the face’s mad advance, but it heckled
and spat back whatever weapon felled her.

What She Remembers Fondly, But Not Well

Black cowboy boots. A floppy blond hairstyle
that covered one eye. A name sewn over
his pocket: Beau, or Glenn, or was it Rhett?
The May humidity intensified
the scent of marsh marigolds and the boy’s
hands, washed recently with black Lava soap
and hose-water in the gas station lot.
He looked too young to work there, and too clean.
It might have been the final day of school
because the sun was right overhead, noon,
and she had never been brave like the kids
who skipped out in nice weather. An embrace,
her first good kiss, and the discovery,
later, of spearmint gum in her pocket.

Why We Do It

Fall 2005

Why We Do It

To see you leave, I keep my compass in my eyes.
I string the scarf you left around my bed like garland.
To feed the army, you chop and char the trees.
You provoke her beehive with a birch branch.
To recognize the bridge, she farms beneath its roadbed.
She informs the monk that she believes in him and his.
To standardize the slang, he deafens the population.
He scares it into the drawers of an antique desk.
To treat the latest blight, it meets the forebears.
It stocks rifles and brown paper for our motorcade.
To rise before twilight, we savor Ackerman’s cherry tobacco.
We rely on the mail for your private speculation.
To keep them out of the street, you run their dogs.
You draw your plans on ninety-pound vellum.
To prophesy the weather, they telephone Poland.
They brush back embarrassment from their bald and yellow heads.

Dance, Liana, Dance

from Spring 2003

Dance, Liana, Dance

This morning you’re the queen of pitch.
Around the room without your shoes

you carve a naked dance-step, in time
with suspense between the braking

of cars that yield to morning glare.
There’s trouble in Bolivia,

catastrophe on Mt. Rainier.
You press the message into motions

of head-to-knee and hand-to-wall,
the screen of your skirt eclipsing

gardenias on the wallpaper.
The left arm a comma, the right

arm an apostrophe. The clefts
between the floorboards never pinch

your toes the way they pull out threads
from stocking feet. My mistakes

repeat themselves with clumsy tread,
so dance, Liana, dance again.

4 Very Short Poems

Written during Spring 2004.

Today in Public Works

One Baltimore street

smoothed so thin it cracked
with cumin-colored
and chocolate-covered
night-squandering rats.

You Were Missing in My Latest Dream

He collected bracelets, gold

mined from a tourist beach
where poems never belonged.
He hung them from the willow
with twine. I sharpened my comb
in search of permanent waves
to weed. These dangle from trees.

10,001 Days Before My Birth

It may have rained and ruined someone’s
best pillow, and made her cry again,
another little knife in a month
spent swallowing hard. She lit the stove
and pruned the kitchen garden. There may
have been a thumb-pianist with her
in the room, releasing note after
tin note. Someone may have photographs.
A cricket species may have gone extinct.

Window Sill

Cilantro spills from a blue china dog.
A pink plastic razor and shavings
of crayons curled into small scrolls,
melted into traffic light pools. Paint,
chipped, the kind you should never eat.
What do you see, from your perch
in the balsa tree? Only the golden glare.

Relief Effort

Another one from Spring 2003...

Relief Effort

The iridescent sheen of maritime
disaster held the landscape under glass
while every child required swimming lessons
and every woman craved bouillabaisse. Men
absconded, bearded with mountain knowledge,
and deigned to bring their wives thick sprays of ferns
for table exhibitions. Summer oozed.
The unctuous bursts of wind refused to settle.

Along an arm of the harbor, a girl
lay drowned, her braid looped on an old crab trap,
the water there no deeper than her knees
when she still breathed. Her brother brought her there
to photograph old rowboats, rotting piers,
and trash that docked itself between the stumps.
She’d swum to get a better shot of tugs
against the backdrop of the smooth green water,

and then? The Gladiolus Ladies from
a church across the county brought cream cakes
and flower boxes. Not knowing what to do—
who did?—for the kids, policemen set up
a water-slide on the park’s only incline.
Twelve sheets of black plastic slick with the stream
from a garden-green hose in the crabgrass,
the children shivered down the hill to mud.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My letter from the Pope

The Aftershock of Something

Written spring 2003

The Aftershock of Something

I ran my hands through pounds of rice, the rough
grains abrading the feeble tissue at the crotches
of my fingers, the freezing water turned milky
from starch. I pleaded for some gloves or salve
but she, the mistress of that game, had toughed
out swallowing a boiler of briny soup,
and so her bitten heart enjoyed my ache.

They salted the bed sheets. My swollen appendages
were not my swollen own. The rapt voyeurs
had much to say about Nevada’s blind,
like, “Grapes for eyes,” and “Stole my hogs,”
so I was left to foxtrot for my reputation.

I swathed my legs in gauzy paper lace,
allowed to be evacuated North
and tie the tent-straps tight, and tie the vines

before weevils mastered the knotted stalks.

Moptops, 1981

Moptops, 1981
Originally uploaded by sharkycharming.
My brother, Tony, was three years old when he taught himself to read. He couldn't stand the idea of not knowing what it said on the back of my mother's Beatles records. Ever the completist, even at age five he was desperate to fill in some gaps in our Beatles collection -- hence this photo of him beaming on Christmas morning in 1981. Rubber Soul is also my favorite Beatles record, in case you were wondering.

Are You a Pink Cloud Now?

Another one from spring of 2004.

I don’t believe in ghosts but I believe
you haunt me – not very grandmotherly
of you, but you were more inclined to fix
a frozen pizza than a latticework pie,
and we both scoffed at the biddies wearing
tight blue curls and shopping for big, modest
panties. Tell me – I’ve always wondered – how
do they decide which clothes your ghost will wear?

Do you iron silk blouses and fix your hair?
When you visit Pop-Pop, are you twenty,
just months before your wedding, or would he
not recognize his bride on the cusp
of the second half of the century?

But maybe you haven’t kept that body,
and that’s why I’ve heard you scolding me,
smelled your cigarette smoke in the hot night air,
felt you, a spicy warmth below my heart –
the place I’ve always thought of as my soul –
but I haven’t seen and can’t recall your eyes.


I write a lot of poems about religion. That's what 13 years of Catholic school will do to a girl.
This one was written during the spring of 2004.


On my back, having procured
my weekly Mass-time Tic-Tac
from my grandmother’s pocketbook,
I watched the white noise of Father’s homily
bounce from wooden beam to crucifix
and tried to keep my patent leather shoes
from tapping this song into the pew:
Oh, life could be a dream (sh-boom)
If I could take you up in paradise up above …

That realization! life
could be a dream, like the one
I dreamed the night before, the one
where the fisherman statue came to life
and chased me until I fell off the pier—
the idea burned, a small mint
lodged between the Gospel and the Creed.

First Day

This is something that started in 1998 and was revised in 2004.

First Day

One glance proclaims it: I am unwelcome here.
I trespass, my fly-fire dim amid the halos,
a parasite shunted from chorus to heavenly

choir. My language is clatter. I caterwaul.
My tongue bloats in the fine air of paradise,
a litany of mispronunciations, elocution

disrobing the minstrel sinner. They herald
the influx of beasts from the famine:
godwits and zebu and one jumping mouse.

Blessed be I? Never mind my felicitous past?
I invoke the words of Sister Carmen Cruz:
“Heaven will be candy-studded, dark chocolate

doves and boulevards paved with divinity.”
One strong wind could suffer me into darkness,
away from the tedious aspirations

of the born-again. Others have failed
before me, they say. Others could not
be scrubbed clean. Some brilliance fades.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Running for a Bus

written Spring 2003:

Running For a Bus

Who prizes nickel treasure more than I?
That which satisfies a slight desire for figs
creates extended longing when the palate
dries. Uncap a sigh, trigger the lens.
Recant that covenant with modest men
who never sullied names or sheets of white

kenaf. Those whistles in my head produce
a dirty laugh. No Cadillac? No skates?
I’m running for a bus to keep a date
with Old McCoy the Sailor, former pitchman
for Cartoon Classics on the UHF dial.
He keeps a pack of Tareytons under his hat.

The seaman knows I’d rather fight than bitch
about my lunar folly. He harpooned
me once before I left my native alleys,
but no one saw my bliss. They sent a powder
to cure me of the blight, and that’s the night
the last bus sent me here to lead attacks.

Saturday, October 07, 2000



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