Thursday, June 29, 2006

I am reading Late Wife, by Claudia Emerson. It won the Pulitzer Prize this year. I had never heard of her before, and am enjoying the book. My favorite poem so far: "Migraine: Aura and Aftermath." The kind of poem I wish I'd written. And then, yesterday, I saw a poem of Emerson's in the new issue of Virginia Quarterly Review, that knocked my socks off, about a piano burning in a field. Amazing stuff: "We watched the keys going furious and all at once,/heard in the fire a music-like relief when the several tons of tension//let go, heat becoming wind in our faces. We learned that when true ivory burns/the flame is playful, quick and green. And in the ash, last lessons: the brass,//clawed feet we had never before noticed, the harp's confusion/of wire, the pedals worn thin, shaped like quenched-hard tongues—loud, soft,//sustain. We waited with her until they were cool enough to touch."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Beaver Believers

Oregon State (where my nephew Jason just graduated) Wins College World Series.

"A lot of people out there picked us to lose every single game, so thank you for doing that," closer Kevin Gunderson said. "It gave us a lot of motivation to go out there and prove those people wrong."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Dada, Mapplethorpe, Burning Man

Reading the latest issue of Art in America this afternoon. Several terrific articles. One about the new Dada exhibit showing at MOMA. Another about a Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective that was a major hit in Cuba. And another about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Burning Man Festival in Nevada this August 28th-September 4th. The Dada show is especially apropos, given the times we are living in, with the crazy war in Iraq and all the terrorist hoo-haa going on. There are more than a few parallels between post-WWI Europe and now (entangling alliances, weapons of mass destruction, leaders who are incompetent or just plain evil). The Burning Man article gives a fascinating history of the festival, from the first Burning Man when an artist and a few of his friends and some strangers gathered on Baker Beach in San Francisco to watch an 8-foot Man made of lumber burn, to the mid-90's when Dead Heads joined and a group of punks threatened to shut the whole festival down, to the present day when over 38,000 people lived in the festival's temporary Black Rock City. It sounds like quite a surreal experience, with temples and camps, installations and be-ins; all the costumes and clothing (or lack of) and performance; not to mention the "gifting economy" (there are no businesses or things for sale, per se, at the festival, you need to bring everything you need to live, and share/exchange with others). I am thinking of asking Dean if he wants to go this year, and camp out, look at the art, be a part of it. I'd love to see what goes on, meet people, hang out, maybe even get some writing done, or a collaboration. Or would I just be being a fucking tourist? Hmmm . . . has anyone ever been before? Suggestions? Advice?

Happy Pride Week

Dean and I went with friends to the Seattle Men's Chorus concert, "Our Mighty Men" last night. The first half was an homage/parody of the whole folk rock movement from the 60's. Some great songs here: "Blowin' in the Wind," "The Times They are A-Changin'," "Turn, Turn, Turn." And some real lightweight stuff, too ("Puff the Magic Dragon").

The second half was more thoughtful and inspired, more political. A series of three songs from "Brokeback Mountain," including "He Was Friend of Mine" that were incredibly moving. A well-known protest song from a story in Billings Montana, "Not in Our Town," got a standing ovation. And a Harriet Tubbman song about the secret railway got us all clapping.

SMC are taking a version of the show on the road to the "Red States" of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana over the next two weeks. The title of this show is "This Land is Our Land" and seeks to help promote gay rights and equality. You go guys! Sing it out loud and proud.

The second of two pride parade/marches is today. And it is supposed to be sunny and hot out.
Jack Straw Writers Program
10th Anniversary Celebration

Central Library Auditorium, Downtown Seattle
Sunday, June 25, 2pm

The Washington Center for the Book and Jack Straw Productions are pleased to present a 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Jack Straw Writers Program. Join us for a reading and reception featuring 10 writers from the program’s last decade, and help us honor the 146 writers and curators who have participated in the Jack Straw Writers Program.

This is a rare opportunity to hear readings by some of the Northwest's finest writers on one stage.

Writers for the event were selected by the program’s curators – Rebecca Brown, Charles Mudede, Shalin Hai-Jew, Sonia Gomez, Stokley Towles, Peter Pereira, Nancy Rawles, Belle Randal, John Mifsud, and JT Stewart. The writers who will read at the event are Donna Miscolta, Trisha Ready, Bharti Kirchner, Kevin Miller, Barbara Thomas, Laura Gamache, Nu Quang, John Olson, Anna Balint, and John Burgess.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Thank God for church ladies with typewriters.

A few choice quotes (from spam Dean sent me):

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.


The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."


Our youth basketball team is back in action, Wednesday at 8PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.


Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those
things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.


The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.


Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.


Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.


Miss Charlene Mason sang, "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.


For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.


Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled.
Proceeds will be used to cripple children.


Please place your donation in the envelope, along with the deceased person you want remembered.


The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.


This evening at 7 PM, there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.


Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.


The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."

Friday, June 23, 2006


Today is the happiest day of the year, according to Dr Cliff Arnall, of the University of Cardiff.

"He has devised a formula for measuring mood through outdoor activity, energy levels and sunlight. He used a similar method to calculate that Jan 23 was the most depressing day.

His formula is O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He, in which O stands for being outdoors and outdoor activity, N for nature, S for social interaction, Cpm for childhood summers and positive memories, T for temperature and He for holidays and anticipating time off.

Today was pinpointed as the happiest day of the year because of its added "thank goodness it's Friday" feeling at the start of a summer weekend.

Dr Arnall said: "I wanted my formula to prove the key to happiness can really be simple."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer's Here!

The first full day of summer, yippee! Dean and I had our first al fresco dinner of the year tonight, sitting out on the front deck in the sun. The menu:

A pitcher of lemon-drop martinis, ice cold, served with a lemon twist and sugared rim
Hummus, with toasted pita bread cut into triangles

Fresh garden greens from the back yard, served with pine nuts and goat cheese, and Dean's secret dressing

Main Course:
Tenderloin steaks, medium-rare for Peter, well-done for Dean
Sauted vegetables: broccoli, zucchini, mushroom, onion, garlic and lemon-spices

A simple Hogue Fume Blanc, chilled

A plate of cashews and toasted-salted almonds

The Scenery:
Coreopsis, veronica, angel's-fishing-rod, and lilies in bloom; a pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds diving through the sky singing "jeka-jeka-jeka;" bluest of blue skies framing the giant elm pair and Douglas fir. Heavenly. Simply heavenly.

And what's even better: it's still light out! We are going to go for an after-dinner walk.

I guess I'm gonna be late . . .

From the PI online this morning:

Crash shuts down West Seattle Bridge


Three people were killed on the West Seattle Bridge when the vehicle they were riding in rolled, crashed and burst into flames.

The accident happened at 2:47 a.m. this morning, prompting Seattle police to close the bridge to traffic until at least 9 a.m., police spokesman Rich Pruitt said.

The vehicle, reported as a Toyota Scion, was driving eastbound on the freeway when it lost control at the exit onto northbound Highway 99, Pruitt said.

The vehicle hit a barrier, burst into flames, then struck a middle lane divider.Seattle firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the blaze, but found all three people inside dead at the scene.

Police are advising motorists to use alternate routes because traffic collision investigators will have the bridge closed as they gather evidence from the crash site. Any witnesses to the accident are urged to contact Seattle police traffic investigators at 206-684-8923.


What is going on with the West Seattle Bridge? There has been a lot of bad juju lately. It makes me think twice about driving that way to work, but there really is no other way to get there.

I wonder if the accident was caused by kids trying to do "Tokyo Drift?" So sad.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Copper Canyon is about to start the production process for What's Written on the Body. This includes final revisions before the book goes to the copy-editors, choosing cover art, pre-publication PR (updated bio and photo, book description in 200 words, pre-pub blurbs, quotes from past reviews of the first book, etc etc). I am so excited! But also anxious. I think it is the idea of the book being done, and that there is no turning back — it is what it is — that is scary for me. I suppose it might be what it feels like to send a child off to school for their first day, how you want them to look good and be treated well, and to make friends and have a good time, and to not be picked on. And hopefully to do well and learn something. Such expectations!

But, seriously, reading over the manuscript again this week, after having not looked at it for a few months, I am pretty happy with it. Spring 2007 seems both a long way off, and just around the corner. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I Hate Dwane Wade's Black Leotards

Egads. Miami wins 4-2. I am so depressed. How did this happen? Please excuse me while I slit my wrists.

Monday, June 19, 2006

This would have been a trip . . .

From today's Poetry Daily:

Groucho and Tom

— In June 1964 T. S. Eliot hosted dinner for Groucho Marx
at Eliot's London flat.

Tom, with a bitter twist
of lemon, puts a closure on the shaken
martinis. Groucho wants to know about
"These fragments I have shored against my ruin."
But Tom, primed with a sip of gin, recites
a gag from Animal Crackers, and waits.

"Did I say that?" says Groucho.
Weeks ago he had resolved to make
a "literary evening" of it; studied
The Waste Land and Murder in the Cathedral,
tossing in King Lear as a backup
in case the conversation ran thin.
Eliot, meanwhile, had taken his young wife
to a revival of The Marx Brothers Go West.
No wonder, then, midway into a tender roast,
the talk comes down to an aged Lear's
"is man no more than this"
contending with crosstalk and malaprops
of the trial scene in Duck Soup . . . .

It was three years earlier that Eliot wrote
to request an autographed photo,
which he set in his office, between Valéry
and Yeats. But no one recognized the comedian
"without the cigar and rolling eyes,"
as Eliot phrased the delicate point
to Groucho, who gladly sent another,
this time in character, with trademark
cigar, greasepaint brows and moustache.
Likewise, T. S. — "Just how do I address you?"
wrote Groucho — sent a favorite photo,
of a smartly dressed, younger man;
but thinking better of it, later sent
a portrait that revealed himself
closer to his present age.

What a brilliant and rollicking dinner —
had only J. Alfred Prufrock and Rufus T. Firefly
arrived. But now, the after-dinner cheese
removed, only two old men are here, to face
each other, across a table. Time
for the living room, to linger
over a vintage port. They talk
of weather, and cats, and good cigars . . .
well into the pleasing night.

William Wenthe
The Southern Review
Volume 42, Number 2
Spring 2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

It's a lovely June day in Seattle: Dean and I worked in the garden, then sat out on the back deck having grilled roast beef & manchego cheese sandwiches, with hot mustard and mayonnaise. The crocosmia are just beginning to send out their spiky flowerheads, and the hummingbirds are on the hunt, buzzing up and down and diving back and forth across the yard, as if they can hardly wait for the flowers to appear. The tomatoes and the zucchini and the beans are growing like gangbusters, but the poor eggplant and pepper and basil are all shriveled up and puny, like kids shivering after stepping out of the pool soaking wet. They need some heat!

We're about to head off to Vashon for an overnight with friends Kevin and Bob. Looking forward to seeing them, and to a little free time to read on the ferry. And of course I can hardly wait to see what yummy dinner Kevin has planned. We're bringing a bottle of Ash Hollow Merlot from Walla Walla, and a bottle of pear wine (the kind with a whole pear inside the bottle) to have with dessert. How do they do that? Place the glass bottle over the pear while it is still tiny and on the tree, and then let the pear grow into the bottle? Hmmmm. Sounds possible. Anyone know? maybe I could try it with our pear tree sometime.

Hehehehe . . . if only.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Below Job

Fascinating article by Christopher Hitchens in the current issue of Vanity Fair (gasp!) about the history of the Blowjob. Including the term's supposed Victorian origin in the phrase "the below job." With wide-ranging references to Pompeii frescoes, the Kamasutra, Auden's poem "The Platonic Blow," Lolita, Erica Jong, The Godfather, The World According to Garp, "Mickey Mouth" in Vietnam, the seminal 60's movie "Deep Throat," and the Clinton White House, it's a big gulp (hehehehe). "At some point, though, there must have been a crossover in which a largely forbidden act of slightly gay character was imported into the heterosexual mainstream."

Hitchen's friend, David Aaronovitch recounts "his embarrassment at being in the same room as his young daughter when the TV blared the news that the president of the United States had received oral sex in the Oval Office vestibule." And then how "the little girl asked him, 'Daddy, what's a vestibule?'"

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Dean and I went out to a new neighborhood Italian pizza place last night: Mioposto in Mt. Baker, near the park. Nice high windowside table. Great thin-crust pizza cooked in a wood fire oven. A more oil-based Caesar salad. Decent Trebbiano. We shared the prosciutto and arugula pizza with Parmesan and regianno. Simply delish!

Off to work again . . . busy with phase II of electronic records "Go-Lives." And poetry group tonight . . . I can hardly wait to see my poetry buddies.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Intern


I received my new driver's license in the mail today; and while putting my old one away in a box in my bedroom closet, I found this old name badge from my first year of residency at UWMC. My oh my, what a blast from the past. The picture was taken during the first day of intern orientation, I was fresh from vacation in New York, and ready to get started. I look so happy (and so tan!). Good times. Posted by Picasa
Monstrance for a Grey Horse
James Acord, 1988

Unearthly, equine form —
zygomas empty eyes blue
teeth polished smooth —

trapezoidal ton of granite
enclosing a small canister
of live nuclear material

mined from the artist’s
mildly radioactive
Franciscanware plates.

Held now in suspense.
Held now in suspended
animation. Imagine —

this stone knight
placed outside Hanford’s
dead zone. Centuries

past the final zugzwang,
the only piece remaining
on a deserted battlefield.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Do these pants make my calves look fat?

In honor of Rafael Nadal, the capri-wearing Majorcan who yesterday defended his French Open crown in a thrilling four-set match over boring Swiss Roger Federer, I will repost my "Question of the Week(end)" from last year:

Q: If you were a gay man, would you wear capri pants?

Please choose one:

A: Definitely yes! They are the latest fashion statement.
B: Maybe: it depends upon how hot it it is outside.
C: What are capri pants? Are they like cargo pants?
D: Definitely no. I would not be caught dead wearing them.
E: Gay men do not wear capri pants. They are strictly for metrosexuals.

posted by Peter @ 5:35 PM 20 comments (click here to view last year's responses)


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Borges' Cat


El gato blanco y célibe se mira
en la lúcida luna del espejo
y no puede saber que esa blancura
y esos ojos de oro que no ha visto
nunca en la casa son su propia imagen.
¿Quién le dirá que el otro que lo observa
es apenas un sueño del espejo?
Me digo que esos gatos armoniosos
el de cristal y el de caliente sangre,
son simulacros que concede el tiempo
un arquetipo eterno. Así lo afirma,
sombra también, Plotino en las Ennéadas.
¿De qué Adán anterior al paraíso,
de qué divinidad indescifrable
somos los hombres un espejo roto?

and now the Babel Fish translation:


The white and celibate cat watches itself
in the gracious moon of the mirror
and that whiteness cannot know that
and those gold eyes that have not seen
in the house they are never his own image.
Who will say that the other to him that observes it
it is as soon as a dream of the mirror?
I say that those harmonious cats
the one of crystal and the one of hot blood,
they are maneuverses that the time grants
an eternal archetype. Thus it affirms it,
shade also, Plotino in the Ennéadas.
Of what Adam previous to the paradise,
of what indecipherable divinity
we are the men a broken mirror?

and now the Alan S. Trueblood translation from Selected Poems:


The celibate white cat surveys himself
in the mirror's clear-eyed glass,
not suspecting that the whiteness facing him
and those gold eyes that he's not seen before
in ramblings through the house are his own likeness.
Who is to tell him that the cat observing him
is only the mirror's way of dreaming?
I remind myself that these concordant cats —
the one of glass, the one with warm blood coursing —
are both mere simulacra granted time
by a timeless archtype. In the Enneads
Plotinus, himself a shade, has said as much.
Of what Adam predating paradise,
of what inscrutable divinity
are all of us a broken mirror-image?

I sort of like the surprising leaps the Bable Fish translation takes. In fact, I think I prefer it. The images are much more mysterious and engaging, to my reading. And I don't mind at all that the Babel Fish poem is not syntactically correct.

PS: Beppo, of course, was Borges' own big white cat.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Can We Help You?

I was at one of our Northend clinics today, helping with an electronic medical records implementation and saw posted at one of the provider's desk a listing of some of the "Reason for Today's Visit" that have been written on patient's charts over the years:

Fist in armpit

General wart

information regarding chicken pots

Herniated Dick

skin falling off penis


stablish care, GAU assing pt

pt wants Dr. to interfere with her virginity

pap snear

f/u on freezing of face

pt able to walk 50 yrs before he needs to stop

get her tubes tight

Dumbness in fingers


Sounds like a fun place to work.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

There *Is* a God!

Eyman Fails to Deliver

After hijacking an anti-gay-rights referendum from its evangelical backers, Tim Eyman ran it into the ground Tuesday.

Minutes before the filing deadline, the for-profit initiative promoter surprised many political experts by announcing in Olympia that he and other supporters failed -- by a wide margin -- to gather enough voter signatures to force a public vote on the state's new gay civil rights law.

see full story here

In other news: it looks like the "Ammendment to Ban Gay Marriage" is going down to defeat in the other Washington (DC). With all the work that is needing to get done, it amazes me that conservative leaders would take three weeks out of a tight legislative schedule to force a vote on this. What about Iraq? the economy? health care? the environment? global warming? Bunch of frigging idiot bigots. History will not look kindly upon them.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What I've Been Reading

The Adventures of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi & Roberto Innocenti (illustrator). I bought this for the wonderful dark wintry illustrations. Oh Field of Miracles, Oh Blue Fairy!

Saving Daylight, Jim Harrison. Young love, old love, and everything in-between.

Echolalia, Deborah Bernhardt. Fun stuff, delightful language and word play.

Apropos of Nothing, Richard Jones. New book from Copper Canyon. My favorite poem is also the shortest:


between the pages
of a handbook on prosody —
monarch wings

Refusing Heaven, Jack Gilbert. I loved Monolithos. It was one of my most favorite books back then. But I don't get what all the fuss is about this book (NBCCA, etc). Still, I liked a few poems very much, including this odd little one:

Meditation Eleven: Reading Blake Again

I remember that house I rented with them.
The laughing and constant talk of love.
The energy of their friends.
And the sounds late at night.
The sound of whipping. Urging and screams.
Like the dead lying to each other.

Wisteria, Kwane Dawes. Narrative poems in the voices of black women who lived through most of the 20th century in the old south. Looks really interesting so far.

Green Squall, Jay Hopler. It won the Yale. Not as interesting as Siken's Crush, but definitely a good read. Here's a short one (a little melodramatic, but funny in its own way):

Meditation Malheureuse

The rain stops

Just long enough to make you think
Of the one day in your whole rotten
Childhood you where happy.

Then it starts raining again.

Perhaps my favorite poem in the book is the wonderful closing poem, "Feast of the Ascension, 2004. Planting Hibiscus" where Hopler seems to come to terms with nature, death, the garden and its beauty/terrors:

"It is hard to believe beauty is the new ugliness.
But it must be, why else would so many of my contemporaries
mock it so?"

Beside Ourselves, Nance Van Winckel. Read: "If You're Happy & You Know It."

Collected Poems, Jorge Luis Borges. Some real gems here, for instance, "To a Minor Poet of the Greek Anthology."

Journeyman's Wages, Clemens Stark. Great poems from a carpenter and ex-railroad hobo. Met him at Wordstock.

The Wrong End of the Rainbow, Charles Wright. Same old stuff, and still good as ever.

Happy reading . . . .


Monday, June 05, 2006

6-6-6: Are You Ready for the Rapture?

Go to this site, and get your letters ready now, for sending to family and friends, letting them know you have been taken up.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Evil Pharmacist


Dean and I had a lovely dinner last night with our old (and I mean *really* old: she's 71, he's 78) friends Erika and Bob. He's a former high school teacher; she's a former nurse. We had a fascinating discussion about the new Washington State law that allows a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription if it goes against his or her religious or moral beliefs. For instance, they can refuse to fill a valid prescription for Plan B for emergency contraception, or birth control pills, or AIDS drugs, or antibiotics for STD's. It is mind-boggling how the state Board of Pharmacy pushed this through. I'm moving to Canada. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Flowering Bamboo

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Fascinating story about flowering bamboo. Apparently many species of bamboo are genetically programmed to flower and die in unison, over cycles that can be as long as 48 years. Plants from the same genetic line, even if they are continents apart, will all flower at the same time, and then die. In many parts of the world there are folk sayings that "when the bamboo flowers, death and destruction follow." There is some truth to this though, because as the bamboo forests die en masse, there is no source of wood for fuel and construction, the bare soil becomes eroded and floods and landslides occur, the rat population explodes to eat the bamboo flower seeds (which are apparently large and protein-rich). When the seeds are all gone, the rats then turn to eating the agricultural crops. Yowza. It's a mystery to scientists why bamboo forests would flower and die this way. A few of the theories:

1) The predator satiation hypothesis suggests that the mass flowering and seeding of the bamboo swamps predators with too many seeds to ensure some survive. 2) The plant competition theory suggests that under ideal circumstances bamboos maintain dominance over other vegetation in the areas in which they grow (see some of the extensive tracts of forests in India and China for excellent examples) and so to maintain that dominance, mass seeding carpets the ground with offspring and prevents other species from getting a foothold. 3) The fire cycle hypothesis, put forward by Keeley and Bond, that suggests that large scale death of flowered bamboos increases the chances of fire and the fire removes from competition any other plants.

Why does this fascinate me today? I don't know, exactly. But I want to work "flowering bamboo" into a poem.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

What Sesame Street Character Are You?

. . . thanks Ivy . . .

You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you live your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others
Woman dies after fall from moving vehicle on West Seattle Bridge

"Police found a black jacket, a pair of lavender sandals and an empty biscuit tray near the victim." This is just so disturbing . . .