Monday, July 08, 2013

Love this poem from today's American Life in Poetry.


What happened is, we grew lonely

living among the things,

so we gave the clock a face,

the chair a back,

the table four stout legs

which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues

as smooth as our own

and hung tongues inside bells

so we could listen

to their emotional language,

and because we loved graceful profiles

the pitcher received a lip,

the bottle a long, slender neck.

Even what was beyond us

was recast in our image;

we gave the country a heart,

the storm an eye,

the cave a mouth

so we could pass into safety.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press from Alive Together by Lisel Mueller. Copyright ©1996 by Lisel Mueller

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Ripostes, by Michael Robbins

Wonderful review of the latest Postmodern American Poetry anthology, written by Michael Robbins in the latest issue of Poetry. It reminded me in some ways of Mary Karr's "Against Decoration" essay of a few decades back:

Here is a quote:

Well, this is what happens when the avant-garde ceases to function as a historical category and becomes a fetish object. Hoover, like so many of the poets who fill up the last half of his anthology, has confused posture for position. Anthologies necessarily break down as they approach the present, since it is impossible to judge the worth and durability of contemporary production. Still, to peruse the pages of Postmodern American Poetry devoted to poets born since 1960 is an alternately depressing and comical experience, like reading an updated Stuffed Owl.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Love this poem from Charles Jensen on today's Poem a Day.

Complaint of Achilles' Heel
Everyone's so quick to blame my
tenderness. My wound opening like a mouth
to kiss an arrow's steel beak.

A beautiful man, now, plants his face
in Trojan sand while I tell
the secrets of his body--

make the ground red with truth.
Red with the death of Achilles, felled
by an arrow's bite when nothing--

nothing--could puncture his Kevlar skin.
Everyone skips ahead to the moral: don't
be a heel. For just one day I felt

sun where the chafing bonds of sandal
should have been. Without me, he'd be
just more fodder for the cannon.

I made him a hero, Troy's poster
boy. Everyone forgets I was part of him,
I needed him--that even as he died,

I tasted each pulse--
that I could not hold back its rush of red
birds or the season to which they flew.
Copyright © 2013 by Charles Jensen. Used with permission of the author.

About This Poem
"I wrote this piece thinking of how easily we hold others accountable for their 'failures' against us without fully considering what it feels like to fail ourselves."
--Charles Jensen

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Fairyland, a memoir

Fascinating story on NPR today, about a woman's memoir of being raised by a single gay father, Steve Abbott, who was a poet and part of the San Franciso renaissance, (as well as a founding editor of Poetry Flash, teacher at Naropa, etc), in the 70's-80's in Haight Ashberry. It is a really touching story, including his death from AIDS in 1992. She has a website commemorating his life and work, check it out here:

Her book is Fairyland:

Monday, May 27, 2013


Watched Behind the Candelabra on HBO last night with Dean. I was really looking forward to this movie, especially with all the top actors involved, Matt Damon playing the young lover Scott Thorson (from whose POV the story is told), Michael Douglas playing Liberace, Debbie Reynolds as his mother, Rob Lowe as their very stoned plastic surgeon, Dan Akroyd as the manager, Scott Bakula as the hunky gay friend who originally introduces them. It had some decent reviews in the local paper. But oh my, this was not a very good movie at all. Not only was the story lame, and superficial, and full of gay clichés, the acting was pretty awful. No wonder it never had a theatrical release and went straight to cable TV. Yikes. I mean, how many times can you have the same scene of Douglas and Damon sipping champagne in the hot tub having a fight? It could have been so much more.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

I love this poem from the current issue of Poetry.  The "boom" is so understated, and it all takes on a new urgency with the recent Marathon Bombing in Boston.


The animal of winter is dying,
its white body everywhere
in collapse and stabbed at
by straws of   light, a leaving
to believe in as the air
slowly fills with darkness
and water drains from the tub
where my daughter, watching it
lower around her, feeling it
go, says about the only thing
she can as if it were a long-
kept breath going with her
blessing of dribble and fleck.
Down it swirls a living drill
vanishing toward a land
where tomorrow already
fixes its bright eye on a man
muttering his way into a crowd,
saying about the only thing
he can before his body
goes boom. And tomorrow,
I will count more dark shapes
tumbling from the sky, birds
returning to scarcity, offering
in their seesawing songs
a kind of   liquidity.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Could Pee on This???

A Cartoon Tribute To Cats, And The Poets Who Loved Them

Tuesday marks the close of National Poetry Month, a 30-day celebration of all things versified and all people versifying. And in tangentially related news, for more than eight months, a book of cat-themed poetry — I Could Pee On This — has perched on the NPR best-seller lists. There it sits, insouciantly swishing its tail amid self-help books and memoirs, the poetry world's sole representative on the list.
Gazing at this collection of "poems by cats" week after week, I wondered: What is it about cats and poetry? Poets gaze out rain-streaked windows, write with fountain pens, drink tea, have cats: So goes the stereotype.
Is it true? As far as I know, no one has conducted a strictly scientific study of whether poets are more covered in cat hair than the rest of the population. But statistically significant or not, cats and poets certainly have a long history. NPR books asked Francesco Marciuliano, the author of I Could Pee On This as well as a comic strip writer and a cartoonist, to help walk us through some notable cat-poet duos ... starting with Christopher Smart and his cat, Jeoffry.


this is too funny-- I have to check it out.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fun "Mad Libs" poem from Ben Lerner, up at he PoFo website:

Mad Lib Elegy

There are starving children left on your plate.
There are injuries without brains.
Migrant workers spend 23 hours a day
removing tiny seeds from mixtures
they cannot afford to smoke
and cannot afford not to smoke.
Entire nations are ignorant of the basic facts
of hair removal and therefore resent
our efforts to depilate unsightly problem areas.
Imprisonment increases life expectancy.
Finish your children. Adopt an injury.
           ‘I'm going to my car. When I get back,
           I'm shooting everybody.'
                                [line omitted in memory of_______]

70% of pound animals will be euthanized.
94% of pound animals would be euthanized
if given the choice. The mind may be trained
to relieve itself on paper. A pill
for your safety, a pill for her pleasure.
Neighbors are bothered by loud laughter
but not by loud weeping.
Massively multiplayer zombie-infection web-games
are all the rage among lifers.
The world is a rare case of selective asymmetry.
The capitol is redolent of burnt monk.
           ‘I'm going to my car. When I get back
           I'm shooting everybody.'
                                 [line omitted in memory of _______]

There are two kinds of people in the world:
those that condemn parking lots as monstrosities,
‘the ruines of a broken World,' and those
that respond to their majesty emotionally.
70% of the planet is covered in parking lots.
94% of a man's body is parking lot.
Particles of parking lot have been discovered
in the permanent shadows of the moon.
There is terror in sublimity.
If Americans experience sublimity
the terrorists have won.
          ‘I'm going to my car. When I get back
          I'm shooting everybody.'
                                [line omitted in memory of _______]

Ben Lerner, "Mad Lib Elegy" from Fascicle website. Copyright © 2010 by Ben Lerner.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: Fascicle website (2010)
Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.
POETBen Lerner b. 1979
POET’S REGIONU.S., Mid-Atlantic

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013


Third Annual “Plate of Nations” Celebrates Global Cuisine in Rainier Valley

RAINIER VALLEY – Attention local foodies!
Hankering for simmering Somali goat stew or Lao papaya salad with Blue Crab? What about Vietnamese Claypot fish and Ethiopian dry-cooked lamb? Or how about Okonomiyaki Japanese cabbage pancakes with hazelnut risotto cakes?
MLK Jr. Way South, home to some of Seattle’s best, independently-owned ethnic eateries, has all of these exotically tasty dishes and more to offer during the Third Annual Plate of Nations event.
From March 24 to April 6, Plate of Nations will draw food lovers and urban adventurers to sample the local venues and global menus offered by some of the best restaurants in the city, right here in the heart of the Rainier Valley, one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"The Most Exciting Thing To Do With Your Head"
A great essay "interview" by Sam Anderson with the amazing Anne Carson in the New York Times Magazine. I think you can check it out here:

I'm really looking forward to her new book, Red Doc>


Also -- I love this poem by Dana Levin from today's Poem a Day:

The Gods Are in the Valley
by Dana Levin
The mind sports god-extensions.

It's the mountain from which
the tributaries spring: self, self, self, self--

rivering up
on curling plumes
from his elaborate

of smoke.

His head's on fire.

Like a paleolithic shaman
working now in the realm of air, he

folds his hands--

No more casting bones
for the consulting seeker, this gesture

seems to mean.
Your business, his flaming head suggests,

is with your thought-machine.

How it churns and churns.

Lord Should and Not-Enough,
Mute the Gigantor, looming dumb

with her stringy hair--

Deadalive Mom-n-Dad (in the sarcophagi
of parentheses

you've placed them)--

He's a yogi, your man
with a hat of smoke. Serene, chugging out streams

of constructed air...

Mind's an accident
of bio-wiring, is one line of thinking.

We're animals that shit out
consciousness, is another.

The yogi says:
you must understand yourself

as projected vapor.
Thus achieve your


Copyright © 2013 by Dana Levin. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem:
"The poem was sparked by a drawing accompanying an 8th Century Chinese alchemical text, The Secret of the Golden Flower. To me, the drawing makes an argument for the multiplicity of self, the projected self, the vaporous, ever-changing nature of self: self as smoke. Something of continuous interest to me."

Dana Levin

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Just Want the World to See

Great article from Michael Moore, about Sandy Hook (and likening it to Emmett Till, the holocaust, Mai lai etc) and how we all really need to be made to see the horror of it, if we are going to change anything, and break the stranglehold the NRA has.

 Check it out here:

 a couple quotes:

 Emmett Till's body was found and returned to Chicago. To the shock of many, his mother insisted on an open casket at his funeral so that the public could see what happens to a little boy's body when bigots decide he is less than human. She wanted photographers to take pictures of her mutilated son and freely publish them. More than 10,000 mourners came to the funeral home, and the photo of Emmett Till appeared in newspapers and magazines across the nation.

"I just wanted the world to see," she said. "I just wanted the world to see."


 Most of us continue to say we "support the Second Amendment" as if it were written by God (or we're just afraid of being seen as anti-American). But this amendment was written by the same white men who thought a Negro was only 3/5 human. We've done nothing to revise or repeal this – and that makes us responsible, and that is why we must look at the pictures of the 20 dead children laying with what's left of their bodies on the classroom floor in Newtown, Connecticut.


Monday, March 04, 2013

Looks like another CCP poets wins the Kingsley Tufts. Congrats!! Poet Marianne Boruch (Claremont Graduate University) By Carolyn Kellogg March 4, 2013, 10:00 a.m. Claremont Graduate University announced Monday that the winner of its 2013 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is Marianne Boruch. Boruch will be awarded $100,000 for her collection "The Book of Hours," published by Copper Canyon Press. The prize, one of the largest American awards for poetry, is given to a mid-career poet. Boruch's work includes two collections of poetry: "Grace, Fallen From" (Wesleyan, 2008) and "Poems: New and Selected" (Oberlin, 2004). She is also the author of two books of essays about poetry -- "In the Blue Pharmacy" (Trinity, 2005) and "Poetry's Old Air" (Michigan, 1993) -- and the memoir "The Glimpse Traveler" (Indiana, 2011). She teaches creative writing at Purdue University and in the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. *

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Portraits by Mark Irwin : American Life in Poetry

Good poem from Mark Irwin.  I totally relate.  (Now, imagine the "visiting" mother in the poem has actually passed away years ago . . . and then re-read it . . .)


Mother came to visit today. We

hadn’t seen each other in years. Why didn’t

you call? I asked. Your windows are filthy, she said. I know,

I know. It’s from the dust and rain. She stood outside.

I stood in, and we cleaned each one that way, staring into each other’s eyes,

rubbing the white towel over our faces, rubbing

away hours, years. This is what it was like

when you were inside me, she said. What? I asked,

though I understood. Afterwards, indoors, she smelled like snow

melting. Holding hands we stood by the picture window,

gazing into the December sun, watching the pines in flame.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Mark Irwin from his most recent book of poems, Large White House Speaking, New Issues, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love this poem from Writer's Almanac a few days ago.

The February Bee

 The bumblebee crept out on the stone steps.
No roses. Nothing to gather.
Nothing but itself, the cold air,
and the spring light.
It rubbed its legs together
as if it wished to start a fire
and wear its warmth.
Under its smart yellow bands
the black body shone like patent leather.
It groomed itself, like a pilot
ready for takeoff and yet not ready:
when my shadow fell over him
he flicked his wings, checking them,
and took off into the bare garden.

"The February Bee" by Nancy Willard, from The Sea At Truro. © Knopf, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
And the new house is beginning to take shape!
Watch the roof trusses being delivered!