Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Robert Creeley RIP

I Know a Man

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, -- John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.

--Robert Creeley

see commentary at the Modern American Poetry site

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Looking forward to my first AWP Conference. The schedule is daunting: THIS THING IS HUGE. I’d love to meet up with any bloggers who are there: for a drink, a bite to eat, book shopping, whatever. (Email me at, or call the concierge desk and leave a message at the Fairmont)

I'll be participating in two readings I’d be so pleased if you’d try to attend. The first is “off-site” at the Vancouver Public Library Friday night. It’s a group of Canadian and American poets, including Judith Barrington, Lorna Crozier, Annie Finch, Susan Rich, Rachel Rose, and myself (am I the only boy? LOL):

Cross-Border Pollination: Canadian and American Poets
Friday, April 1, 5:00 pm
Alice MacKay Room
Lower Level
Vancouver, BC Central Library
350 West Georgia St.

The second is on Saturday afternoon, where I will join three of the other past Hayden Carruth Award winners, from Copper Canyon Press. I’ll read a bit from Saying the World, as well as new stuff from my next manuscript. I believe Michael Wiegers, the new editor at Copper Canyon, will be emceeing.

The First Four: Readings by the Hayden Carruth Award Winners
Saturday 1:30 - 2:45 pm Hyatt Regency
Including: Sascha Feinstein, Rebecca Wee, Jenny Factor, Peter Pereira.

I also plan to go to the Prairie Schooner open house Friday Night (after the library reading).
See you there!

Rock & Sling Inaugural issue

My contributor's copy of the inaugural issue of Rock & Sling arrived in the mail yesterday. It's a new literary magazine out of Spokane, WA, edited by Chris Kristensen, Susan Cowger, and Laurie Klien, whose theme is "Post-Modern Christianity." Being a lapsed catholic, I have years of wondrous parochial school indoctrination to write from, and they took four poems. One of them, "The Judas Tree," (see below) was chosen for a highlighted commentary by one of the editors. It's one of several Gay Jesus Poems I wrote years ago during my "Ai phase," when her book Sin was one of my guidebooks for how to write a persona.

The journal has excellent production values: gorgeous engaging glossy color cover; clean and easy to read typography and layout; no typos. I am pleased to be included with fine poets such as Michael Bonacci, Rebecca Loudon, Laurie Lamon, and Lisa Roullard; and there is an interesting interview with Li-Young Lee.

The Judas Tree

(Tell me about the sin of pride
and I'll tell you
about the lie of forgiveness.
-- Ai, "Two Brothers")

Would it be enough to say
I was afraid? That I stood accused,
wrists bound, eyes blackened?
That centurions led me to a high balcony,
showed me the throng
swarming for Passover, and you
among them, riding a donkey?

You love him? they jeered,
and spit in my face. Then
kiss him
, they hissed,
and knocked me to the floor.

Rose welts streaked the dawn
as I dangled. And later, red flowers
pierced my thorned limbs
in your honor.

To hell with dreams of silver,
with your magical fall that lifts us
from the muck. Without a lover
there is no beloved.


PS: Happy Belated-Easter! (wink grin)

Monday, March 28, 2005

"Tomorrow will be just like today only different"

from 180 More:

Publication Date

One of the few pleasures of writing
is the thought of one's book in the hands of a kind-hearted
intelligent person somewhere. I can't remember what the others are right now.
I just noticed that it is my own private

National I Hate Myself and Want to Die Day
(which means the next day I will love my life
and want to live forever). The forecast calls
for a cold night in Boston all morning

and all afternoon. They say
tomorrow will be just like today
only different. I'm in the cemetery now
at the edge of town, how did I get here?

A sparrow limps past on it's little bone crutch saying
I am Frederico Garcia Lorca
risen from the dead --
literature will lose, sunlight will win, don't worry.

--Franz Wright (originally appeared in Field)

I loved Wright's Walking to Martha's Vineyard, with all its deep seriousness, its hope and loss of hope, its faith and loss of faith. This poem seems to inject a little more humor into the situation.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

March Madness

Sorry to be AWOL, but three of the four NCAA Regional Finals men's college basketball games have gone to OVERTIME this weekend (one went to double-overtime). Talk about cardiac kids. Don't you just LOVE THIS GAME!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

180 More

I was delighted to go to Bailey Coy Books after dinner at La Cocina last night, and find the new Billy Collins-edited 180 More: Extraordinary Poems For Every Day on display there. (The Poetry 180 series began with Collins's poem-a-day program for American high schools, when he was poet laureate. There are 180 days of school, hence 180 poems in the anthology). It is chock full of fun "hospitable" poems, including poets such as Kay Ryan, Mark Doty, Bob Hicok, Li-Young Lee, Aimee Nezhukumatahil, Rebecca Wee, Sharon Olds, and even John Ashbery (which is a surprise to me, as I don't think of his poems as very accessible). Best of all, I got to see one of my poems, "Anagrammer," which originally appeared in Poetry, included with the others. Yay. Hopefully I can lead some highschoolers (and others) down the dark path of anagrams and other word play.

Here is one from F. J. Bergmann

An Apology

Forgive me
for backing over
and smashing
your red wheelbarrow.

It was raining
and the rear wiper
does not work on
my new plum-colored SUV.

I am also sorry
about the white


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Pottery or Poetry?

Re: the question of productivity, it seems we poets are all over the board on this: from those who write 3 or 4 poems a year, to those who write a poem or more a day, and everywhere in between (I'm 3-5 poems a month, maybe). In The Midnight Disease, Alice Flaherty discusses this in a chapter about writer’s block, by referring to an anecdotal study of pottery students (emphasis on anecdotal):

“ . . . a ceramics teacher [who] divided his class into two groups. One group was graded solely on the quality of its best work; the other, solely on the quantity of work (fifty pounds of pots rated an A, forty a B, and so on). Students in the quality group needed only produce one perfect pot to get an A. Ironically, the best pots were produced in the quantity group.” pg 95 (italics mine)

Hmmmm . . . what did they do with all the pounds of crappy pots? And can the same be said for writing poems? What do you think? More meat for the grinder, grist for the mill, yeast for the loaf, stock for the pot, seed for the feeder . . . Stop me please.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Take Me to the Clouds Above

And on a lighter note: check out the fun dueling reviews of a pair of "Sonnet 69's" (one by Jim Behrle, one by Shakespeare) on Rhubarb is Susan. Make sure to find the second one in the interesting comment posted by Tomas Basboll.

The Wages of Mercy

“President Bush, now championing the right of Terri Schiavo’s parents to decide if her feeding tube should be reinserted, signed a Texas law in 1999 giving spouses top priority in making such decisions.” Cox News Service

Though I love them, I would NOT want my parents (sorry mom) to be making the decisions about my end-of-life care: that is the role of my life partner. If you are married, that is your spouse; if not “legally married” (as is true for many straight and gay couples), make sure you have a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney on file with your health care provider, stating your wish for your life partner to make decisions on your behalf. Also, make sure you have had the conversation with your spouse and family, about what your wishes are. It may not prevent the awful situation that the Schaivo case has become (they were even a married couple! Jeez), but it definitely increases the likelihood your wishes will be respected.

Here’s a poem:

The Wages of Mercy

The medics tell me he's been ten years
in the nursing home, dwindling
the past few weeks, refusing to eat,
asking only for his Winstons
and to be left alone.
Tonight when he spiked a fever,
and quickly became unresponsive,
with no family, no friends
to contact, the nurses asked
he be brought here, to the emergency room,
the open hands of strangers.

His color is awful. He's barely breathing.
I wonder for a moment what all
the commotion is about,
nurses frantically starting IV's
and drawing blood and
placing EKG electrodes;
it's only death —
as if we hadn't seen death before.

I shine a penlight into vacant
eyes, touch his heaving chest
and abdomen with the bell
of my stethoscope, listening
to the pneumonia crackle and pop.

The nurses ask what I want to do,
as if we must do something, anything.

I stroke a lock of matted hair
away from the old man's brow,
order a liter of saline and
some oxygen, biding time with comfort
as I sit at his bedside,
rifle through his voluminous chart.

Cardiac monitors beep and whir,
keeping guard with their syncopated melody.

The telephone rings three times, then stops.

from Saying the World


Monday, March 21, 2005

How Do You Sleep?

I got this from C Dale's blog. I am a side sleeper. Oh yeah. And Dean & I love to spoon.

Take the quiz: "Your Bedtime Body Language (PICS)(Guys Only)"

On Your Side
You are probably mild-mannered and rational. Since this semifetal sleeper takes up a minimal amount of space, he tends to be a giving lover. Also, he's way too sensible to play -- or stand for -- mind games.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

My Palindrome

So, I figured it was only fair that I try my own exercise. Here's what I got -- still pretty rough, but I like where it's headed.

The Flowerless Branch

Each year a new spear
knifes up from the chips of bark,
rises, swells, sprouts delicate leaf pairs,
but still, no orchid flower.
We fertilize, water; don’t fertilize,
don’t water; move the pot
from dim hallway to bright living room —
and still: flowerless. Like us
living without a child? Two men,
barren as a cuckoo and a mule.
Barren as a cuckoo and a mule
living without a child. Two men.
And still, flowerless, like us
from dim hallway to bright living room —
don’t water; move the pot
we fertilize, water; don’t fertilize.
But still no orchid flower
rises, swells, sprouts delicate leaf pairs,
knifes up from the chips of bark.
Each year a new spear.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Palindrome Poems

A palindrome is word, phrase, or other text whose letters spell the same backward and forward. Some well-known examples are MADAM I’M ADAM, and A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL, PANAMA!

A word palindrome is made when the words (rather than the letters) of text read the same forward and backward, as in SO PATIENT A DOCTOR TO DOCTOR A PATIENT SO (one of my personal favorites).

A line palindrome is when the individual lines of a text make a palindromic sequence. Notice how the following poem by James A. Lindon reads identically from the first line to the last as it does from the last to the first. (It's from Dmitri Borgmann's Beyond Language (1967)). I think it is amazing how an identical line changes it’s meaning completely from one end of the poem to the other.


Entering the lonely house with my wife
I saw him for the first time
Peering furtively from behind a bush –
Blackness that moved,
A shape amid the shadows,
A momentary glimpse of gleaming eyes
Revealed in the ragged moon.
A closer look (he seemed to turn) might have
Put him to flight forever –
I dared not
(For reasons that I failed to understand),
Though I knew I should act at once.
I puzzled over it, hiding alone,
Watching the woman as she neared the gate.
He came, and I saw him crouching
Night after night.
Night after night
He came, and I saw him crouching,
Watching the woman as she neared the gate.
I puzzled over it, hiding alone –
Though I knew I should act at once,
For reasons that I failed to understand
I dared not
Put him to flight forever.
A closer look (he seemed to turn) might have
Revealed in the ragged moon
A momentary glimpse of gleaming eyes
A shape amid the shadows,
Blackness that moved.
Peering furtively from behind a bush,
I saw him, for the first time
Entering the lonely house with my wife.

Susan Stewart has a terrific line palindrome poem in her recent book Columbarium, where the form mirrors the action of the poem (a journey in to and out of Hell). This in only an excerpt:

Two Brief Views of Hell

Leaving the fringe of light at the edge of the leaves, deeper, then deeper,
the rocking back and forth movement forward through the ever-narrowing circle
that never, in truth, narrowed beyond the bending going in,
not knowing whether a turn or impasse would lie at the place
where the darkness turned into impenetrability, deep where
no longer could down or up or side to side be known, just the effort
to stay above the water, to keep one spread palm bearing
against the weight and then the other, deeper and deeper.
The way in was easy once it began. The way in was all necessity.
Behind the darkness, more darkness; beneath the water only water.
. . .
Behind the darkness, more darkness; beneath the water only water.
The way in was easy once it began. The way in was all necessity
against the weight and then the other, deeper and deeper
to stay above the water, to keep one spread palm bearing
no longer could down or up or side to side be known, just the effort
where the darkness turned into impenetrability, deep where
not knowing whether a turn or impasse would lie at the place
that never, in truth, narrowed beyond the bending going in,
the rocking back and forth movement forward through the ever-narrowing circle.
Leaving the fringe of light at the edge of the leaves, deeper, then deeper.


The next time I am stuck with a poem that feels half-written, or seeming to end in mid-air, I am going to try completing it as a line palindrome, (simply rewriting what I have in reverse, and putting the two halves together) just to see what different things I might now be able to say. Hopefully it will be something interesting!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Stick

Well thanks, C Dale. I got home just after midnight this morning. The vacation is over, and now I have this stick assignment! (But I love assignments.)

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be? Don Quixote.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? The Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit (the book was one of Dean's first gifts to me; he's my Skin Horse).

The last book you bought is: The Coronary Garden, by Ann Townsend. Loved the cover, the title poem; the rest . . . .?

The last book you read: Completely? The Captain Lands in Paradise, by Sarah Manguso (I usually don't completely finish a book, if I lose interest in it: this one held mine)

What are you currently reading? I'm still in the middle of The Midnight Disease . . . I read it bit by bit. Fascinating, occasionally annoying, stuff.

Five books you would take to a deserted island: I'd take five blank books, so I could write what I wanted . . . I do get a pen don't I?

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why? Hopefully these three haven't already been "stuck." I have been a little bit out of the loop for a while.

Rebecca Loudon, because she is divine.
Emily Lloyd, because I love Poesy Galore
David Koehn at Great American Pinup, because I like his picture. :)

I'll try not to bore you with too many vacation photos: but Dean and I had such a great time in Mazatlan! Unfortunately, I didn't get much writing done at all on this trip: I think I do much better when I am by myself: for instance at a writing retreat or conference, or just on my own writing days. But who knows what will come in the next few weeks as I look back. For now it's back to work at the clinic tomorrow and Saturday.

Anyway: Here's the view from our room's balcony, where we had many a delightful breakfast! Posted by Hello

Hey, Dean: watch where you are looking. Posted by Hello

Lookout Hill with The Brothers islands in the background Posted by Hello

At our favorite tapas place (notice the large margaritas: the "Bebida Nacional" of Mexico) Posted by Hello

A table of trinkets we brought back . . . why so many milagros and crosses? Posted by Hello

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Divine Ms. Paglia

Emily at Poesy Galore says about the divine Ms. Paglia: "She's arrogant; she's awful; she's got a way with words. I'd love to see a drag queen do Camille."

But I thought Camille Paglia WAS a drag queen! hehehe

I'm looking forward, with a mixture of anticipation and dread, to checking out: Break, Blow, Burn : Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World's Best Poems.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

This sounds about right . . .

I lifted this from Reb Livingston's blog:

I am 43% Asshole/Bitch.
Part Time Asshole/Bitch.
I may think I am an asshole or a bitch, but the truth is I am a good person at heart. Yeah sure, I can have a mean streak in me, but most of the people I meet like me.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Poetry Is (a Googlism)

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

Friday, March 11, 2005

Flaming Crepes Suzette

Congrats again to Eduardo on his "Discovery"/The Nation Award.

Yesterday the pulmonia driver taking us back from Olas Altas asked Dean and I if we were "looking for some senoritas?” Because this was the part of town to get “senoritas.” I told him “No, thank you.” But I really wanted to set him straight that we were a couple, and not in the market for "senoritas." He gave me a funny look and laughed, and I realize now that it’s because instead of saying “No, gracias,” I said “No mas” which means “no more” as if we had just had some “senoritas” and didn't need anymore. Oh my god.

We had dinner at Angelos last night. A fun table of three Hawaiian couples near us. And a karaoke lounge singer with a hand held mic going from table to table taking requests for songs. We ordered flaming Crepes Suzette made at our table for dessert, as the karaoke guy sang our "request" for the Bee Gees “How Deep is Your Love?” (He didn’t know “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” or any Elton John, which is what we actually requested). We nearly died laughing, it was so kitschy, but so sweet.

Looking forward to visiting museums today, and then going out to the pool again.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Hola from Mazatlan!

Our room is just wonderful, large with a separate living room and kitchenette, big bathroom with shower and tub, two queen beds, and a balcony with table overlooking the pool area, palm trees, and the ocean with Bird Island in the distance. Almost the exact same view as in the picture below.
Dean and I took a pulmonia (an open air taxi made from a golf cart) ride this morning, down to the historical district and Olas Altas, which is part of the 20 km long boardwalk along the seawall. Full of hotels and shops and beaches and views. But also a fair amount of abandoned buildings and graffiti and poverty. I love how it all seems to coexist peacefully here.
Toured the old Cathedral, and went to the Market (too touristy there, though). Had a great lunch of Ceasar salad with shrimp and margaritas at the “World Famous” Shrimp Bucket, on the ground floor of the La Siesta Hotel, made famous by Jack Kerouac. Walked along the seawall, took pictures, one of us standing before the of the “Devil’s Cave” at the base of Icebox Hill. Such a fascinating old (in a New World sense) Mexican city.
Came back to our hotel, and sat out by the pool in the sun and read. I read most of the poems in the latest issue of New England Review, and was quite impressed by some of them: particularly the Carl Phillips poem, about peonies, and love and desire, and habit and need; the wonderful Debora Greger "Orpheus in Florida;"and a delightful palindromic poem by Natasha Tretheway (I love palindrome poems, but have never yet been able to write one). Good stuff (nice selections C Dale!).
Dean had commented this morning the the mattress in our room was a little too hard, like an old futon. And I joked that I would call the concierge and have a new one brought up right away. And then, when we returned from the pool, they were actually in the process of installing brand spanking new mattresses in our room! We both just laughed. But it was spooky . . . . in a delightfully weird Ricardo Monteban Fantasy Island sort of way.
The intenet connection here is only a dial-up, though. And there are no three-pronged plugs for the laptop transformer . . . so I may not be able to blog anymore, or the battery will run dry (surely they have an adaptor somewhere?).
Best to all in blog world (and elsewhere) . . . more later if I can . . .

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Pueblo Bonito Posted by Hello

Mazatlan here we come!

Dean & I are looking forward to a week of R & R in Mazatlan. And maybe some reading and writing on the beach? Hopefully one can blog from Mexico. I'll have the laptop. Not sure if Pueblo Bonito has high speed internet . . . we'll see. Posted by Hello

Songs of the Maniacs

I've been reading Alice Flaherty's book The Midnight Disease (now in paperback). It's about mania, depression and the phenomenon of hypergraphia, among other things, and is simply fascinating. Writing about "Literary Creativity and Drive" she says:

"The Greeks, and many since them, emphasized not intelligence, but passion and drive as the fount of creativity. Socrates and others expected poets to receive their ideas in a frenzy, possessed by the Muses. Plato even thought that the sane should not be allowed to write poetry: "He who approaches the temple of the Muses without inspiration, in the belief that craftsmanship alone suffices, will remain a bungler and his presumptuous poetry will be obscured by the songs of the maniacs [italics mine]." " pg 63

In another section she writes about "Primary Process" (the raw, visual, associative, emotion-driven) vs. "Secondary Process" (the abstract, language-based, logical), and how literary creativity needs both: " . . . not only a powerful source for ideas, but a powerful editor to channel them."

And, finally, this quote from sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens: "What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art." I, for one, love the garlic.


Monday, March 07, 2005

Just Blogging Around

I have visited several fun and interesting places the past week in Blogland:

Rhubarb is Susan has nifty brief and thoughtful reviews of individual poems from literary journals and zines.

Daniel Nestor has a translation of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" into Ubbi Dubbi, plus a link to the Ubbi Dubbi site, where you can translate your own favorite texts.

Laura Glenum's The Hounds of No is not a new site, but the poems (and the graphics) are freaking amazing. Check it out.

David Koehn comments on Avoiding the Muse: "Just because you are hung like a horse doesn't mean you have to do porn."

(And, speaking of Queen, Rebecca Loudon reviews her night at the opera, The Magic Flute.)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

"Quick, nurse, what's my motivation?"

From the front page of the Seattle Times . . . how even pretending to care about your patients leads to better outcomes. And there are classes to teach you how! My oh my . . .

"Deep acting — also known as method acting — involves summoning memories and using imagination to generate and display emotions.

"Even when a doctor doesn't have the time or desire to dig deep, she should still use surface acting — as in, simply feigning empathy. "

See the full article here.

Double Magnolia

Double Magnolia
Posted by Hello

Looks like spring is about two weeks early here in Seattle. Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Glenna Luschei Award

Some wonderful news in the mail today. Prairie Schooner has selected my group of poems published in the Winter 2004 issue as the winner of the Glenna Luschei Award, which includes a press release, and a dandy check for $1,000. Yay! My sincere thanks goes out to Hilda Raz, and her wonderful staff at Prairie Schooner. You are the bomb.

The deadline for their poetry book competition is March 15th:

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Fool

I have always been drawn to the Tarot, and my favorite card of the Major Arcana is The Fool. For me, The Fool symbolizes innocence and the willingness to make new starts, to attempt the impossible, throw caution to the wind. The downside of The Fool is folly and indiscretion.

The Fool
— Rider-Waite Tarot

Nippy dog at my heel, purse slung
across one shoulder, I stumble
cliffward, sniffing a white rose. Snow
rings the mountains, my winter coat
is torn. If only I would turn,
face the sun setting at my back.
Instead I follow my shadow —
where the journey begins.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My Ten

I got this from Anne and Great American Pinup and probably a few others. The idea is to think of the ten poems that you would use to introduce yourself to another person. I take this as meaning the ten poems that mean the most to you, that are closest to who you are as a person, and to what poetry means to you in your life. My list:

Chaucer, “Prologue, Canterbury Tales”
Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
Yeats, “The Second Coming”
Plath, “Edge”
Ginsberg, “Howl”
Rich, “Diving Into the Wreck”
Forche, “Ourselves or Nothing”
Gluck, “Mock Orange”
Wright, “The Southern Cross”
Doty, "The Embrace"

What themes do I see? The importance of faith, love, emotion, the consciously-lived life. But where is the humor, the light-heartedness? What poem could I choose to introduce that part of me? (Perhaps McHugh's "Etymological Dirge?") I am sure I am leaving something really important out; or if I were to do the same exercise a week from now I’d come up several different poems.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Zen Poetry

I could read these wonderful minute poems all day.

The camelia tips,
the remains of last night's rain
splashing out

-- Buson 1715-1782

from The Poetry of Zen
translated & edited
by Sam Hamill & J. P. Seaton

The Placebo Effect

Ignore a cold, it’ll last a week.
Take some medicine, it’s gone
in seven days. Ask three doctors, get
four opinions. Take two asparagus
and cold-cock me in the morning. Try
a tincture of time, a pinch of benign
neglect. If to cut is to cure — then care less
and cut bait. Above all do no charm.
The rabbit lied. If you hear hoof beats,
it’s probably hearses, not zinnias.
Physician feel thyself. Sit down, place
your head between your knees, and
kiss your urine glass goodbye.