Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Artichoke's Heart

Oh to unknot and unknow myself
like the deep threads of the artichoke's heart
opening into purple flower. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Crocosmia Lucifer in the side yard. Ah, summer . . . . Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 29, 2005

Dry Lightning

I love voile more
than I love olive.
But violet, I love it
more than I love

O evil! O
vile! Violence
springs from love ‘n’ ice,
from nice love,
a lone vice.

But how does complaint
become compliant?
Precious beget

Oh my — such
limitation in-
imitably ends in

Eternity’s an entirety.
A word’s a sword.

And I’ve forgot
to forgive.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Hey Everybody: Make sure to stop by the divine Rebecca Loudon's place, and wish her a big Happy Birthday. July 29th, 195x: do you remember where you were that day?

My Centrum workshop group: Bob, Larry, Jerry, Virginia, and Julie. I miss you already. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What Robert Frost Poem are You?

A Peck of Gold

Dust always blowing about the town,
Except when sea-fog laid it down,
And I was one of the children told
Some of the blowing dust was gold.

All the dust the wind blew high
Appeared like gold in the sunset sky,
But I was one of the children told
Some of the dust was really gold.

Such was life in the Golden Gate:
Gold dusted all we drank and ate,
And I was one of the children told,
'We all must eat our peck of gold'.

You're rather innocent, and every cloud has a silver lining for you. Even if things are going really badly right now, they'll get better. Believe it in your heart, and it'll come true! (Q: Who writes this stuff?)

What Robert Frost poem are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


Your picture that day on every front page
by the story that was written about you.
Then your face gleaming from the window
of the car stopped next to mine at the light.
How I smiled and you followed me home,
stayed after to watch Our Beautiful Launderette.

Stopped by the light on our front picture
window, to watch your face next to mine.
Gleaming then from the story about how you
and I stayed after at that launderette,
the day your beautiful car smiled me home.
Every page that followed was written of you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More anagram fun

Tony, I couldn't resist:

The New Sincerity

Intense Witchery
Tiny New Heretics
In Thy Wise Center
Sneer Then, Icy Wit

Sunday, July 24, 2005


To my good friend, fellow writing group member, and fellow Floating Bridge Press editor, Kathleen Flenniken! Winner of the 2005 Prairie Schooner Book Award for her manuscript, Famous. Much deserved, Kathleen. Kudos to you.

"Prairie Schooner and the University of Nebraska Press are pleased to announce the winners of the 2005 Prairie Schooner Book Prizes. The winners will each receive a $3,000 prize and publication of their books through the University of Nebraska Press.

POETRY: Kathleen Flenniken

Kathleen Flenniken's poems appear in Southern Review, Mid-American Review, the Iowa Review, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner. She is the recepient of fellowships from the NEA and Artist Trust and her poems have been included in the King County Poetry on Buses Project. She holds BS and MS degrees in civil engineering and was a practicing engineer for eight years. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Kathleen Flenniken's winning collection, Famous, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2006."

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I Have a Beehive Inside My Heart

It's the last day of Centrum. It has all gone by so fast!
Yesterday's lecture by Kim Addonizio was a hoot. Because most of the students were at the participant open mic until quite late, and her lecture was at 8:30 the next morning, she told everybody she would be serving Bloody Marys; and sure enough, there was all the fixings for Bloody Marys, as well as mimosas (orange juice, champagne), lined up on the stage at the front of the lecture hall. And EVERYBODY fixed themselves a little drinky before Kim started speaking. A great lecture about success, and failure, and the life of a writer, and a little about her mother (who was a four-time US Open Tennis champion, but still on some level felt a failure).

For my last class, one of the things the students will be doing is reciting the poem they chose to memorize. As I also usually do the exercises I give (it's only fair), I will be reading a little poem that I memorized as well. It's from Antonio Machado:

"Last Night, As I Was Sleeping"

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

It's a lovely poem. I think it captures the essential metaphor-making ability of poetry. Those "marvelous errors" that we make when we apprehend the world in disordered and accidental and magical ways.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Shake & Bake

I tried a fun new exercise with my workshop yesterday. It's a variation of a Chase Twichell exercise, where you take a poem/draft of your own, get out some scissors and tape, cut all the individual lines up into strips, and rearrange the strips to find new connections and and rhythms and ways of saying things (and to break the chains of strict narrative sequence), then tape the new poem together onto a page.

For my workshop, we varied this by making it a group exercise. The six of us each chose a poem of about 15 to 20 lines, cut it into strips of lines (including the title), then put all the lines into one bag and shook them up (hence the name "Shake & Bake"). Then we each drew 15 lines, and constructed a poem from them. It took about 15 - 20 minutes to do, and the resulting poems where actually pretty amazing.

Here are are a couple of them (the odd caps, and punctuation, and etc. left as is):

Televison is a great help.

I have a new way to exercise.
sitting on a log,
Where watchful cannons stood
waiting for the waitress
her gangly arms
gray eyes turning an unblinking yellow green,
with sand and shells at my feet.
Gulls and fog horns,
sounding for the sun.
When I get weary I prefer the outdoor programs
as I tackle, block, run, pass and kick.
too much touching
is their afterlife, a final gathering

(composed by LE)

I call it the Professor

bequeathing a fountain of feathers
My mind dances between
a going away, as a return.
The Harold Hill "Think" method.
of a unifying vision.
An inactive
to avoid a blow to the jaw.
I go across town to the station, where
in my head,
beside scrap wood and old plumbing pipe.
out to the horizon,
chisels and creativity.
unlike sparrows in Kansas.

(composed by JG)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Roving Day

I had about 20 students for my "roving day" workshop today. It's a new thing at Centrum this year, where students go to a worksop session with any of the presenters in the morning, and then rotate to another one in the afternoon. I presented seven brief word play exercises (including anagrams, abecedarian, palindromes, Scrabble poem, Parody poem, and Tabloid poem) and let them pick one to work on for the session. The students were really enthusiatic and got right to it. Just about everybody got a decent start on a poem, if not a fully realized draft. And a good time laughing at the more humorous results.
My reading is tonight. I am sharing the bill with that hottie Irishman Michael Collins (who is sunbathing on the lawn outside his cottage as I write this). Ah . . . the visual on that, I will leave to your imagination.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Being Ilya

Having a great time at the Centrum Conference. The weather is fantastic. The participants are engaged. Yesterday morning, Ilya Kaminsky opened with a fascinating craft lecture exploring conflict, the personal, and the political. Last night, after a terrific evening performance, with Bhanu Kapil reading from her book of poems and notebook about the feral children discovered (and studied) by a missionary in India in the 1920's; and Lesley Hazelton reading in a rich throaty voice from her biography of Mary (as in "the Virgin"); a group of us went out to town for drinks: Lesley, Bhanu, Ilya Kaminsky, Rebecca Brown, and myself. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was being projected onto a white sheet dividing two of the rooms of the bar; and it was just a hoot trying to explain the significance of this odd cultural phenomenon to Ilya. Walking back to the car later, as a 4/5 full moon glittered on the water, Ilya incited us all to join arms and do a little Russian dance, which nearly made us fall into the street, and led Lesley to proclaim: "we are now officially drunk." We laughed and laughed driving back to Centrum, each of us reciting whatever words of Russian we could think of — das vadanya, nyet, bortsch, wodka — to Ilya's great delight.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I saw this poem on the Poetry Daily "poem from last year" archive, this morning. Thought it was very apropos . . .


Where I come from, men worked all day, then came home
and worked some more. Retirement just meant mornings
in the basement or garage. And more than one of my neighbors
dropped dead there, slumped by a whining band saw.

These men walk beside me into my workshop where someone
has already moved the chairs into a circle. They stand there
and smoke or look down at their callused hands. The naked
emotion embarrasses them, not to mention the girls' short
skirts or boys with earrings.

So they look at the window that won't close, eye the chair
with one uneven leg, the desk that needs refinishing. Boy, if
they could just get their hands on a hammer, a couple of shims,
and some sandpaper they'd fix everything in no time flat.

Ron Koertge

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I've Been Trying to Reach You Since Yesterday

I am feeling much more relaxed now that my lecture is over. I was a little worried being the 2pm slot, because it was after lunch, and the sun had just come out after a morning of icky rain. But there was a pretty good turnout. I'd given this kind of lecture to medical audiences in the past (medical students, residents, other doctors and allied heath care providers) but never to an audience of writers, and I was pleased by how well it was received. It also always helps to start with jokes: this one cracked them up totally:

Doctor: I have some bad news, and some very bad news.
Patient: OK. Give me the bad news first.
Doctor: Your lab tests are back, and you have only 24 hours to live.
Patient: That's terrible! What could possibly be worse?
Doctor: I've been trying to reach you since yesterday.

But, seriously, I think they enjoyed the ideas about poetry, medicine, and narrative competence. The idea of using poetry to express as well as to contain intense emotions and experiences. And I got to sneak in reading more than a few poems. (During the Q & A I even got a request to read "the C-section poem.")

My students are great. I'm really enjoying working with them. And it's been fun to hang out a little with some of the other presenters: Paisley Rekdal, Lesley Hazelton, Rebecca Brown are all just a hoot.

And there has been some incredible readings: particularly Debra Magpie Earling's reading of this devastating scene from her new book, about the ambush of a medicine woman by three men from another tribe. Brutal and beautfil and poetic. The image of them cutting her heart in two still haunts me.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Small World

The conference is going very well. Stellar reading by Kim Adonizzio (sp?) to open things up Thursday night. And a marvelous lecture by Michael Collins this morning (extemporaneous, no notes!). Running into a lot of familiar faces. And enjoying meeting new people. My students are great. I think it is going to be a good time all around.
more later . . .

PS: Alberto R. says hi to Charles and Eduardo. What a small world!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hocus Focus

What is Different Between These Pictures?

1. the field is less Montana and more Wyoming
2. all of the color seems drained from the sky
3. the mountain is a cloud
4. the person is a dot in the landscape
5. and no longer the center of attention
6. the moon is larger, and less ironic

1. either the man’s forehead is larger
2. or his hair is smaller
3. he is either shorter or fatter, it’s hard to say
4. there is an extra hole in the belt
5. time has not so much passed
6. as taken a him for (a beating) (a ride) (a holiday) (granted)

1. the tree’s twisted branches are the woman’s hair
2. the lawn seems more reluctant
3. the clump of daffodils is a doorway
4. the book she’s reading is a sandwich
5. the curlicue in the grass is the lost ring found
6. the lacquer on the lunchbox has begun to blister

1. the boat is sinking . . . no — the boat has sunk
2. the plume of steam on the ship is smaller, meaning farther
3. the island has more sand than trees
4. the elephant’s wrinkled eye is open
5. the bottle has a message in it
6. the e in breathe is silent

Bye for now . . . not sure how much internet access there'll be at Centrum.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I leave for Centrum tomorrow. I've been working like a dog getting my lecture and and reading and workshop exercises ready. I'm really looking forward to meeting my students, and the other presenters. A little nervous, but I have a feeling it's going to be a fun time.

Here's who will be there:

Michael Collins
Michelle Cliff

Kim Addonizio
Peter Pereira
Bhanu Kapil

Lesley Hazelton


FictionDebra Magpie Earling

PoetryAlberto Rios

NonfictionPaisley Rekdal

(Will give readings and participate on panels, no workshops)
Ilya Kaminsky
Amy Bloom

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Hippie? Cool . . .

Got this from Lorna.
I don't mind being The Hippie, but my alter ego is The Bitch-Slap.

You are 28% Rational, 57% Extroverted, 14% Brutal, and 28% Arrogant.

You are the Hippie! Characterized by a strong sense of extroversion, irrationality, gentleness, and humility, you no doubt frolic through fields preaching peace and love to all! You are probably either very spiritual or needlessly paranoid about "the man", like most hippies, as a result of your focus on intuition and feelings over cold, brutal logic. You are also very, very social. And like any hippie, who would have no qualms about hitchiking across the country just to meet some interesting people, you too love to interact with others, even complete strangers. Because we know most any hippie is peace-loving and humble, it stands to reason that you, as well, are terribly gentle and humble, almost to the point of revulsion. Your carefree attitude of peace and harmony is probably very, very sickening to realists or cynics or anyone who isn't a hippie, to tell the truth. In short, your personality is defective because you are overly emotional, extroverted, gentle, and humble--thus making you an annoying hippie. And you listen to psychadelic rock and smoke a whole lot of pot. Okay, maybe not, but I wouldn't be surprised if you did.

To put it less negatively:

1. You are more INTUITIVE than rational.

2. You are more EXTROVERTED than introverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.


Your exact opposite is the Sociopath.

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Hand-Raiser, the Televangelist, and the Robot.

The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

— for Frank O'Hara

Stop cellphoning while you drive!
I was toddling along and suddenly
at the corner of Denny and MLK a white
SUV pulled out right in front of me.
You said she stopped first but she
didn’t I was watching or if she did
it was a California and anyway
what a screech as I hit the brakes
hard. Who could she be meeting
in such a hurry that the laws
of traffic were like the sky?
I lower my window to give her
my best New Jersey salute and suddenly
I see the reason she has nearly killed us.
There is no cell phone in my car.
There is not even a CD player.
I have been on-call for weeks at a time
and needed to return plenty of pages
but I have never actually
cellphoned while I drive.
Dear caller we love you please hang up.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Why Do Poets Write?

My wife, a psychiatrist, sleeps
through my reading and writing in bed,
the half-whispered lines,
manuscripts piled between us,

but in the deep part of the night
when her beeper sounds
she bolts awake to return the page
of a patient afraid he’ll kill himself.

She sits in her robe in the kitchen,
listening to the anguished voice
on the phone. She becomes
the vessel that contains his fear,

someone he can trust to tell
things I would tell to a poem.

— Richard Jones, from 48 Questions
(also reprinted in The Blessing: New and Selected Poems)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Home Writing Studio

Deborah Ager on 32 Poems asked for pics of our writing studios. This is my basement writing area/home office (Dean has a similar space on the other side of the basement). I actually do a lot of my writing on a laptop, out in coffee shops around town. But this is where I come to read, revise things on the desktop computer, and such. Posted by Picasa

You are pure, moral, and adaptable.
You tend to blend into your surroundings.
Shy on the outside, you're outspoken to your friends.

You believe that you live a virtuous life...
And you tend to judge others with a harsh eye.
As a result, people tend to crave your approval.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


this is an audio post - click to play

— love of trouble

Pleasure, ease, contentment: a bore.
Where’s the rub? The snafu? The glorious glitch?
Tiff. Tizzy. Tumult. To-do. Remember:
no itch, no fuss: no pearls to string.

Feud, fit, flap, flurry.
Hoopla. Imbroglio. Rhubarb. Pickle.
What good’s a shampoo without lather?
Soup unstirred? Wedding without a row?

I want spasm, spat, squabble, stink.
Brouhaha. Boondoggle. Conniption. Clash.
Calm’s as good as dead: a plum-pit.
Give me ruckus, rowdydow, ruffle, snit.

originally appeared in Poetry, September 2003

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Eduardo Corral

Hot hot hot off the press! Check out Eduardo's wonderful chapbook and interview (and gorgeous photographs) at the Web Del Sol site.


From Charles: What's the best book you read in the first half of 2005?

For me it was a three-way tie between Catherine Barnett's Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes are Pierced, Richard Siken's Crush, and Kathleen Flenniken's "Famous" which is still in manuscript. Barnett's book came out in 2004, I believe, but I didn't read it till 2005.

The Books on My Bedside Table

I like to read before bed, and every few months the stack gets so tall I have to go through and weed out. Here's the list of what's in the picture:

Stack 1
Elizabeth Bishop: Complete Poems (thanks Em)
Kuntiz: The Wild Braid
Idries Shah: Tales of the Dervishes
Gettysburg Review: Summer 2005
Praise: Robert Hass
BH Fairchild Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
Poetry: June 2005
New England Review: 25:4
Radi Os: Ronald Johnson
Shenendoah 55:1
Jack Straw Writers Vol 9
VQR: Walt Whitman Issue
Gardening in the Dark: Kashiske
Lyric: #7
The Midnight Disease: Flaherty

Stack 2
The Wounded Surgeon
Bloom: spring 2005
Hard Night: Wiman
Articulation: Kelly
Killing Me Softly: Ibanez-Carrasco
Crush: Richard Siken
The Incentive of the Maggot: Ron Slate
William Carlos Williams & the American Scene 1920-1940
The Wisdom Well (tarot cards)
Break Blow Burn: Paglia
How I Became Stupid: Martin Page
Puerto Del SolPoetry May 2005
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

OK, now: out with the old; in with the new!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 04, 2005

Some recent acceptances:

JAMA: "Tremor" (due out in August)
Seattle Review: "Aesop's Dog"
Contemporary Northwest Poets Anthology: "Anagrammer," "The Devil's Dictionary of Medical Terms"

Still waiting to hear from Bloom and Bellevue Review. It has been almost 6 months, what is up with that? I am spending some of this 4th of July Holiday looking at what I've got, and sending it out.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Corpse Flower

 Posted by Picasa

The Corpse Flower
Amorphophallus titanium

Like the carrion beetles needed to fertilize it,
we’ve traveled for miles not merely to see
but to smell this colossally fetid flower.
No wonder the Sumatrans named it Devil’s Tongue.
The marooned-tinged spathe has unwrapped,
dropped its skirt around the five-foot long spadix
with its erection of small blooms. Opened, the tomb
tempts us. Like children wanting a scare at Halloween,
or lovers at a horror flick, we hold our breath.
The bravest unplug their nose and take a whiff.
Rotten fish composted with toe cheese and bean farts.
Nature’s smelliest plant oils and various sulfur-y
pitches. Peonies, honeysuckle and jasmine
grace the air with pleasant scents. And for this
we love them. The corpse flower knows
we come from what has decomposed —
and like gawkers drawn to a car crash
can’t keep ourselves away.

published in Literary Salt, April 2005

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Which of the Nine Muses is Your Muse?

aw . . . shucks . . .

Yours is Erato, the Lovely, the muse of Love
Poetry. She is the female counterpart to Eros.
Her symbol is the lyre. You are most likely a
true-born romantic, and are looking for a
prince to ride off into the sunset with...

Which of the Nine Muses is your muse?
brought to you by Quizilla

Blogging is a Virus from Outer Space

blogging is bad
blogging is kinky
blogging is like running
blogging is for cool cats
blogging is journalism
blogging is here to stay
blogging is not a contact sport
blogging is not a fad
blogging is a conversation
blogging is such hard work
blogging is bad thursday 13 june 2002
blogging is not journalism
blogging is catching
blogging is for
blogging is a very famous activity which the teenagers do almost everyday
blogging is a force for good
blogging is the latest way to keep your own personal diary
blogging is a 5
blogging is better than photography
blogging is for everyone why are you offering popup windows
blogging is fun
blogging is over
blogging is the latest in a series of signs that the media establishment is starting to warm up to what was long seen as legitimate
blogging is a window on the world
blogging is making me
blogging is it the end of journalism as we know it? or just 6 zillion writers in search of an editor? neither
blogging is a perfect example of the networked conversations cluetrain predicted
blogging is simple
blogging is football
blogging is good
blogging is the first journalistic model that actually harnesses rather than merely exploits the true democratic nature of the web
blogging is great because it allows you to
blogging is a crazy world
blogging is a sub
blogging is returning us to a time when the written word was supreme and for that we should be grateful to the bloggers
blogging is like crack
blogging is hogging mind boggling bloggers
blogging is merely to communicate
blogging is here to stay weblogs certainly are helping to fill the void in one arena
blogging is on the verge of becoming a mainstream fad
blogging is a social phenomenon
blogging is the latest internet craze
blogging is popping up everywhere
blogging is the ability to publish on the web easily whenever you please
blogging is or they miss
blogging is an expression of Lincoln's “of the people”
blogging is a way to protect the most important brand of all
blogging is a train
blogging is in a primitive form
blogging is problematical
blogging is mainstream
blogging is short for web logging
blogging is the place i go to feed this need
blogging is a way of thinking
blogging is building
blogging is all about posted by
blogging is a great alternative to the opinion sections of newspapers
blogging is so new that many of its participants spend plenty of column inches on their respective blogs discussing
blogging is now becoming "mainstream"
blogging is no longer just a para
blogging is easy
blogging is this
blogging is incredible
blogging is
blogging is a virus from outer space
blogging is and why everyone should blog and how blogging will change the world

Friday, July 01, 2005

Chemo with My Sister

I went to chemo with my older sister Colleen this afternoon. She is one of my closest sisters (I have four), and is very very dear to me: she used to make little hand-painted booklets for me when I was little, and taught me my ABC's; later I had the honor of "giving her away" at her wedding, in place of our father who is deceased. Now she has breast cancer, and is doing four rounds of AC (adriamycin and cyclophosphamid) before radiation. The tumor was found fairly early, on a routine mammogram, so she is lucky, and hoping for a cure.

It was fascinating for me to see the cancer care system from the "inside." There is so much high tech stuff: the chemo suite with its posh chairs and artwork and flat screen TV's in each room, the IV's and the tubing and the medications in their shiny plastic bags. But the work flow was absolutely archaic, and not patient-centered at all. She had her appointment for chemo at 2pm. We waited until 3pm to be taken back (an hour late). She needed a blood test to document that her white blood cell count was OK before starting chemo, and it took until 3:30pm for someone to draw her blood, and until 4:30pm to get the result (another hour). Her doctor didn't come in to see her until about 5:15pm (over 3 hours after her original appointment time). And she finally got her fist dose of medicine (the anti-nausea drug Zofran) at about 5:30. She wasn't done with the chemo until 7pm! A five hour doctor visit for a routine scheduled treatment. The staff and nurses were all very nice, but no one seemed to be the least bit fazed at what a lot of waiting she was having to do. (I NEVER let patients wait that long for care). It wasn't busy: we were one of the only patients there. So I don't understand what the hold-up was. Fortunately my sister is still feeling very well; imagine if she had been feeling poorly, and had to sit around and wait this long?

We made the most of it: spent our time chatting, telling jokes and stories, reading some in Hilda Raz's wonderful anthology of stories and poems about breast cancer, Living on the Margins, watching TV (Judge Judy, Just Shoot Me, Dharma & Greg, the Venus Williams vs. Maria Sharapova semifinal Wimbeldon rerun), and eating pudding from the treatment room refrigerator (she had butterscotch, I had chocolate). Hopefully the treatment is effective (I have a good feeling that she will be cured). But I think this cancer care center needs to learn to be a little more patient-centered. Anyway: enough of my rant.

Scrabble with Matthews

by David Wojahn (from Poetry; thanks Patty for the link)

Jerboa on a triple: I was in for it,
my zither on a double looking feeble

as a "promising" first book. Oedipal & reckless,
my scheme would fail: keep him a couple drinks

ahead, & perhaps the muse would smile
upon me with some ses or some blanks.

January, Vermont: snowflakes teased the windows
of the Burlington airport bar. The waitress

tallied tips & channel-surfed above the amber
stutter of the snowplow's light: it couldn't

keep up, either. Visibility to zero, nothing taking off
& his dulcimer before me (50 bonus points

for "bingos") like a cautionary tale. The night
before I'd been his warm up act,

the audience of expensive preppies
doubling to twenty when he shambled

to the podium to give them Martial
& his then-new poems. "Why do you write

something nobody reads anymore?" queried one
little trust fund in a blazer. "Because

I'm willing to be honestly confused
& honestly fearful." Il miglior fabbro,

a.k.a. Prez: sweet & fitting honorifics he has left
upon the living's lips. Sweet & fitting too

that I could know the poems much better than
the man, flawed as I am told he was. Connoisseur

of word-root & amphibrach, of Coltrane
solo & of California reds, of box score & Horatian loss,

his garrulousness formidable & masking
a shyness I could never penetrate, meeting him

would always find me tongue-tied,
minding my ps & qs, the latter of which

I could not play, failing three times to draw a u.
The dead care nothing for our eulogies:

he wrote this many times & well.
& yet I pray his rumpled daimonion

shall guide our letters forward
as they wend the snow-white notebook leaves,

the stanzas scrolling down the laptop screens.
Game after game & the snow labored on.

Phalanx, bourboned whiteout & the board aglow
as he'd best me again & again. Qintar

& prosody, the runway lights enshrouded
& the wind, endquote, shook the panes.