Sunday, January 30, 2005

150 St. Sebastians

It takes a minute to download, but this slideshow is pretty cool: 150 St. Sebastians from Renaissance to Contemporary, religious ecstacy to sexual eroticism, and everywhere in between. Enjoy.

Our new coral bark maple.Thank you Jennifer for clueing me in on the Hello photo software.  Posted by Hello

Top 10 Words of 2004

TOP 10 WORDS OF 2004

The top 10 words of the year based on searches of Merriam-Webster Web sites.

1. blog
2. incumbent
3. electoral
4. insurgent
5. hurricane
6. cicada
7. peloton
8. partisan
9. sovereignty
10. defenestration

Source: Merriam-Webster

Now, see if you can put them all together in a poem.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Tsunami/The Boy Who Played With Dolls

I had an interesting experience Thursday at Highline CC, where I was invited by Susan Rich to read for a Tsunami benefit. I opened with Wislawa Szymborska's fine poem "Could Have," which seemed very apropos for escaping (or not) a natural disaster, and even more so apropos as it was the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
I talked a little about the idea of "finding your subject," and how I believe the converse is more commonly true: your subject finds you. And I suggested some ways to live a writing life, so that it becomes more likely your subject will find you (or at least have an idea of how to reach you!).
I then read some poems as examples of different subjects that have "found me" over the years: medicine, love & relationships, garden & the natural world, travel, word play, family of origin. The students, who seemed fairly conservative for college-aged people, seemed noticeably uncomfortable with the graphic content of the medical poems, and the gay content in the love poems; but oddly enough, they all applauded when I read "The Boy Who Played With Dolls." So I guess it's hard to judge . . . people will always surprise you.
Kudos to the all the students and faculty who volunteered their time and made food and gave money and bought raffle tickets, all to benefit such a worthy cause.

The Boy Who Played with Dolls

Remembers the family photograph
of him in shorts, knees pressed close,
the toes of his sandals touching.
A missing tooth makes an awkward smile
as he gazes into the camera,
wincing as if the flash has wounded him.
The two large dolls are naked,
hair shorn, arms and legs akimbo
as they dangle from his hands.
Even at five years old
he is too tall to hold them
so their feet like his
will touch the ground.
Years later, his mother will say:
you weren’t a sissy, you were practicing
to be a doctor.

from Saying the World (Copper Canyon, 2003)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Damn Fag

C Dale's recent post got me riled up little about homophobia, and it being one of the few remaining 'acceptable" prejudices (my words, not his). Here's a poem . . .

Damn Fag

I’ve heard his story before. How a car
accident broke his spine
in three places, but the x-rays
and MRI don’t show it.

How he’s tried rehab, counseling, physical therapy.
How all he wants now is some Oxycontin
and I’m not giving it. Then we’re
through here,
he says, and I close his file.

Damn fag he mutters
as he exits the exam room.
The words sting. Even in my white coat,
shielded by my stethoscope and tie.

Two words and I am in high school again,
backed against a locker,
coat collar clenched.

I’m in residency and the attending
surgeon is holding court over the open abdominal wound
of a young man with AIDS,
saying — for my benefit: When cattle
get an infection like this
we put them ALL to sleep.

Damn fag. How did he
know? Was it written
across my face?

Even after all these years.
Why am I ashamed?

(appeared in Prairie Schooner, Winter 2004)

Jeannine, you put the HER in HERO!

Kudos to Jeannine Hall Gailey, whose new chapbook is Female Comic Book Superheroes (Pudding House Publications). I read it cover to cover the other day, and it is just a hoot. Humor balanced by pathos, pop culture references balanced by classic references. And her pantheon of Superheroes! I admire how she has brought them all in: from Greek and Celtic mythology; to comic book and video game warriors; to Catholic school girls and Eve; Shakespeare’s Ophelia; even a giant Lichtenstein painting's pixilated character. Well done! My favorite: "Persephone and the Prince Meet Over Drinks." The power in the lines "so what if . . . my prince/is prince of nothing but darkness?/I knew what I was doing." These women can all seen as facets of an archetype, different aspects of the eternal Feminine, and this holds the chapbook together quite nicely. Jeannine, you put the HER in HERO. Brava!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Coming to Our Senses

I am reading the new Jon Kabat-Zinn book, Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness. It is such a wonderful book, about being in the moment -- listening and attending and really being aware of our senses, the world, others, and ourselves -- and how this can be healing, for patients, and for health care providers, to practice. I just love it.

And it really came in handy Monday, a crazy clinic day where I was asked to see 27 patients in 6 hours. I tried to just let go of the "schedule," and the time pressure, and tried to just be with each person, one at a time, without interrupting or pushing my agenda, for as long as it took. So difficult, but so easy, if you can do it.

Here is a list of the patients (though these little capsule presentations really don't do justice to the whole person; DM = diabetes, HTN = hypertension, URI = upper respiratory infection, CVA = stroke, PTSD = Post Traumatic Stress. If language is mentioned, that visit was interpretted.):

1) child with dog bite, attacked in a local park by a pit-bull
2) child with dog bite (sibling of above)
3) new patient, woman with low back pain
4) new patient, 3 yo sick child, new in foster care, maternal substance abuse
5) new patient, with BP 180/120, edema, cellulitis of leg, txf’ing care here
6) 12 yo girl with dysmenorrhea
7) 35 yo woman, pregnant with URI, jaw pain (mother of above patient)
8) 3 yo Somali sick child, URI
9) 1 yo with UTI and pneumonia, followup ER visit
10) 4 yo sick child sibling of above child
11) 7 yo sick child, URI, vomitting
12) 67 yo Cambodian woman with DM, HTN, Chol
13) 52 yo Cambodian male DM, for flu shot (here with above patient; added as a walk-in)
14) 55 yo Cambodian female DM, HTN, Asthma
15) 39 yo Cambodian female, PTSD, Depression, thyroid dz, for Annual Exam
16) 50 yo female asthma, HTN, knee pain
17) 50 yo female f/u hosp severe asthma, O2, on steroid burst, having side effects
18) 53 yo Vietnamese male, HTN, CVA with hemiparesis, follow-up
19) 50 yo Chinese male, HTN out of control, new dx of auto-immune disease
20) 3 yo Vietnamese girl URI
21) 77 yo Cambodian female, HTN, PTSD, social stress re housing issues
22) 14 yo girl with pneumonia on CXR, followup ER visit
23) 60 yo Vietnamese female, somatization, valvular heart disease, DM, with URI sxs, needing pro-time done
24) 4 yo Vietnamese male with rash
25) 11 yo Cambodian male Developmental Delay, eardrum perf, with hearing loss
26) 54 yo female L&I forms, heartburn, stress
27) 36 yo new patient with Crohn's disease, flare-up, needing meds, referral

My oh my. I am tired just writing this!
Time to go to poetry group . . . .

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The President, the First Lady, and Dick Cheney

The President, the First Lady and Dick Cheney are flying on Air Force One. George looks at Laura, chuckles and says, "You know, I could throw a $1,000.00 bill out the window right now and make somebody very happy."Laura shrugs her shoulders and says, "Well, I could throw ten $100.00bills out the window and make 10 people very happy."Cheney says, "Of course then, I could throw one-hundred $10.00 bills out the window and make a hundred people very happy."The pilot rolls his eyes, looks at all of them and says to his co-pilot,"Such big shots back there..... hell, I could throw all of them out the window and make 56 million people very happy."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

To make a dada poem

from Manifesto on Feeble & Bitter Love

To make a dada poem
Take a newspaper.
Take a pair of scissors.
Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Then cut out each of the words that make up this article & put them in a bag.
Shake it gently.
Then take up the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
Copy conscientiously.
The poem will be like you.

Tristan Tzara (French 1896 - 1963)

from The Stranger

From The Stranger 1-23-05:

A Seattle man has left the city $1 million, with the stipulation it be spent to install a fountain that contains at least one life-sized nude man. Drawn & Hung, a Seattle-based arts advocacy group has barraged the mayor’s office with concerns about the fountain. “We want it to be well-hung,” said spokesman Dale Wierzba.

For the full story see:


— homage to William Carlos Williams

this is just to say I saw the icebox and wheels
rumbling through the figure 5
I saw the white chickens
in the dark city glazed with rain
I saw the figure 5 in the white chickens
the plums that were in gold on a red wheel barrow
the plums that you were probably
saving for breakfast among the rain water
I have eaten the dark city so sweet
the plums that were so sweet
this is just to say I have eaten the figure 5
in the plums that were in the plums
that were in gold on a red firetruck

Saturday, January 22, 2005


I love the AltaVista Babel Fish language translator. Words are such a flexible, malleable thing.

mal-lea-ble 1: capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer or the pressure of rollers. 2: plastically open to outside forces or influences: having a capacity for adaptive change.


Before devising, your chicken you do not have to count.
As for the penny which is rescued it is the penny which is obtained.
The girl and the spice has become entirely from the splendid sugar.
The boy has consisted of the tail of the slug and the snail and the puppy.
As for the place of the woman there is a house.
One basket your egg everything does not have to be made.
The idiot hurries being about you fear because the angel steps on.
Your cake cannot do possessing and is eaten thing.
There is no wastefulness, unless so is, we want.
The safe which is better than regrettable.
Living, you have lived, permit.

Thursday, January 20, 2005



My heart is like a singing bird
whose nest has caught on fire.
A fire started by a lit cigarette,
an oyster bisque. Ponies have nothing
to do with peonies
, he opines.
His finger slicked with saliva,
circling the rim of a wineglass.
I ask him to open his shirt.
How our lives evolve and revolve.
If eros is a form of erosion, then
I’m feeling a little ob(li)vious tonight.
Like someone who talks with both hands.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I can't believe what I've done.

I can't believe how easy this was. But now that I'm here, what do I do?

I suppose I'll share this fun little Googlism I searched out on the internet a few months ago, using the phrase, "Poetry Is . . . " It became a found poem, that I enjoy returning to now and then.

Poetry Is
— Googlism 9-11-04

poetry is passion
poetry is for real people
poetry is a political act
poetry is complete nonsense
poetry is a destructive force
poetry is the drug of choice
poetry is a sudden process of verbal compression
poetry is the sudden process of verbal compression
poetry is powerful
poetry is for poets
poetry is poetess sondra faye's official site
poetry is for everybody
poetry is a very complex thing
poetry is fun
poetry is found in life
poetry is about onelivingthing
poetry is increasing
poetry is banned
poetry is this?
poetry is sent in by you
poetry is published
poetry is everywhere
poetry is bad
poetry is a luxury la women of color
poetry is sexy
poetry is not something
poetry is the beginning
poetry is in play
poetry is bread
poetry is ugly
poetry is no shameful disease
poetry is not a luxury
poetry is sacred
poetry is written in the
poetry is more than just words
poetry is not an hermetic academic pursuit
poetry is life
poetry is a joyful music to the ears
poetry is pretty much like life
poetry is connected to the body
poetry is built like that
poetry is free
poetry is driving me mad
poetry is redundant
poetry is ultra
poetry is what fish won't eat
poetry is black
poetry is often understood to be about
poetry is useless
poetry is the strength of
poetry is done
poetry is direct
poetry is for the ear
poetry is exciting
poetry is for real people like me
poetry is celebrated
poetry is a political act
poetry is in the details
poetry is complete nonsense
poetry is the drug of choice
poetry is sense
poetry is just the evidence
poetry is plucking at the heartstrings
poetry is for americans
poetry is for immigrants
poetry is life version
poetry is not nutritious
poetry is about one living thing
poetry is neuroanatomy
poetry is the reason i live
poetry is her life
poetry is for wimps
poetry is not something
poetry is not something i do every now & then
poetry is for sissies
poetry is the beginning & art
poetry is in play
poetry is ugly
poetry is no shameful disease
poetry is that one will
poetry is written in the four line ballad form of rhymed quatrains
poetry is once more the talk of the town
poetry is called
poetry is psychoanalytic treatment
poetry is pain
poetry is not my vice
poetry is
poetry is everywhere
poetry is music to your ear
poetry is a graceful dancer with elegance and flair
poetry has many shapes and forms but
poetry is not square
poetry is connected to the body again
poetry is built like that arts profile
poetry is driving everybody crazy
poetry is redundant
poetry is the best prophylactic against
poetry is the showcase for poetry written by teens
poetry is often understood to be about little other than courtly love and romantic excess
poetry is useless; but still; under a starry sky
poetry is for suckers
poetry is the strength of ghazal
poetry is the place for you
poetry is done by mentioning blood or bone