Saturday, September 30, 2006

LocusPoint is Fresh

Congratulations to Charlie Jensen and all the guest editors. LocusPoint is up, and there is some really fine work to be found there. Visit the Seattle contribution, edited by Rebecca Loudon here.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I'm on call for a week, starting tonight at 5pm. Hope it is calm and quiet. I know there is a bili baby to see in the am, but that's about all so far.

Loved this poem in the new issue of Poetry. What fun with just two letters. Very OR-iginal! (Sorry, the formatting is a little off. The shorter two-line stanzas are indented.)


Or Oreo, or
worse. Or ordinary.
Or your choice
of category


or any color
other than Colored
or Colored Only.
Or “Of Color”


Or theory or discourse
or oral territory.
Oregon or Georgia
or Florida Zora


or born poor
or Corporate. Or Moor.
Or a Noir Orpheus
or Senghor


or horrendous
and tore-up journey.
Or performance. Or allegory’s armor
of ignorant comfort.


or reform or a sore chorus.
Or Electoral Corruption
or important ports
of Yoruba or worry


or fear of . . .
of terror or border.
Or all organized

— Thomas Sayers Ellis, Poetry, October 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Are You a Scissor Sister?

  Posted by Picasa

A great Scissor Sisters concert live on LOGO tonight. Lots of tracks from their new album Ta Dah. I loved hearing "She's My Man," "Kiss You Off," "Don't Feel Like Dancin'," and "Filthy, Good & Gorgeous" live. Jake Shears (or whatever his name is now) prancing around the stage like a new-age Puck, his voice going from a catty twang to a piercing falsetto. Did you know he started his career as a teenage drag queen in Seattle, singing covers of James Bond movie songs? I have the pictures . . .


From Today's Word-a-Day

theriac (THEER-ee-ak) noun

1. Treacle or molasses.

2. An antidote to poison.

[From Latin theriaca (antidote), from Greek therion (wild beast).]

"The original theriac was made by combining 60-70 ingredients (including
the flesh of the viper) mixed with honey. It was supposed to be an antidote
against all poisons and thus the word is also used in the sense of cure-all.

Around twenty years ago, there was a radiation therapy machine named
Therac-25. Its buggy software delivered occasional massive overdoses of
radiation and killed at least six patients. This infamous device is now
a standard case study in the matters of software testing and reliability.
With a name like that..."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fantastic Four!

Oh my gawd! The newest episode of Project Runway showed tonight at 9PM instead of 10PM, and so I almost missed it, as I was at my "other" poetry group (with KF, RL, RS, JL, luv ya all) until almost 9:30. But what a joyful surprise — no one was eliminated: *all four designers* are headed to fashion week! It's a triumph for inclusion and liberality.

Dean told me that Scissor Sisters played "Don't Feel Like Dancin'" at intermission on So You Think You Can Dance (how ironic?). And now, on Noah's Arc, is the followup to Noah's horrific gay-bashing. With his great line about how a victim often feels shame, and that what the prosecution needs to do is to put the shame where it belongs, with the attackers. And he and Wade ("I could never hurt you")getting back together . . . hot hot hot.

Now back to your regular programming.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Open Books

Went with RB to a poetry reading at Open Books for Stan Sanvel Rubin's Hidden Sequel, and Shannon Borg's Corset. The highlights of the reading (for me) were Shannon Borg's poem "Brief Grammatical Romance" about the difference between "O" and "Oh." And Stan Rubin's series of poems for the murder weapons in the game "Clue." Lovely dinner at Costas Opus beforehand, with an interesting discussion about, among other things, past loves, memory, distance, and "phone calls from the dead."

PS: check out Rick Barot's fascinating essay on Rilke and his blue hydrangea (I never knew that Rilke preferred to write only on blue paper), in the latest issue of VQR.

A lot going on at work today. This is how I feel. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 25, 2006


A fun poetry group meeting in Port Townsend yesterday. We had a picnic lunch first, with chicken-pear-curry soup, tomato salad, potato salad, bean salad, olives, wine, rice crackers and salsa. Then we sat in Kathryn's back yard around a little campfire pit, on huge cedar logs, and read each other's poems. Gorgeous and sunny and warm. All of us able to sit in shorts and short sleeves. A fitting end to summer.

It's always amazing to me how even though we write in relative isolation, we often have recurring themes in the work we bring to group. Synchronicities. Yesterday we had poems about: raking/burning leaves and the coming of fall; leaping salmon, spawning before dying; reading obits; a bombed library with burning pages falling from the sky; dreams of darkness; the line of midnight. It sounds a little heavy writing it now, but they were all really beautiful poems.

Missed one ferry on the way back and had to wait for the next. Puget Sound a deep dreamy blue, and dotted with sailboats. Mount Rainier and Mount Baker all icy and white and saying "hello" to each other across the waves. A lovely chat with R and T in the car. You can't really ever be in a hurry when a ferry is involved.

Now . . . back to the working week.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Gorgeous in Seattle today: warm, sunny, blue skies. And to top it off: UW beats UCLA 29-19 after being down 13-0 in the first quarter, 16-0 midway through the second quarter. Great game. Congratulations Tyrone. Go Dawgs!

No Captain Fantastic

Dean and I tried to go see Elton John last night at Key Arena. We didn't have tickets, but on a whim went to the ticket window about 7pm. They actually had a few seats on the floor in front of the stage, 14th row. But they cost $126 each. We decided we loved Elton, but not quite that much. We went to Broadway instead, and cruised books at Bailey Coy (almost bought a copy of BAP, but resisted at the last minute), then we went to Septieme for dessert. I had a flan and a cappuccino, Dean had an orange-almond cake and a latte. It was lovely out, a still-late-summer rather than early-fall kind of evening. I missed the sunset, though. Rebecca says it was spectacular.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Baked Tomato Sauce

It's really a simple recipe:

Halve tomatoes and place in glass baking dish
Dress with olive oil, garlic, onion, spices
Bake at 350-400 for about an hour, or until tomatoes begin to carmelize
Allow to cool before transferring to food processor
Process to desired consistency
Use now or freeze

The baked, smoky flavor of this tomato sauce is to die for.


PS: Welcome Aaron Smith , of Blue on Blue Ground fame, to the blogosphere.

Ah September . . .

The last tomatoes of the season. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fall is Here Early

I stayed a little late at work last night, finishing patient charts in EMR, and when I walked out to my car at 7:45 pm it was already DARK! When I got home, Dean had prepared a lovely dinner of chicken and end-of-summer vegetables and penne pasta. It was past 9 pm by the time we were done eating. When I got up this morning at 6:30 am it was STILL DARK! How did this happen so quickly? Where did summer go? Where did the light go?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Don't miss the reading today at Open Books: Kathleen Flenniken, 3:00pm (with party to follow).

from the Open Books website calendar:
"Kathleen Flenniken's just published first collection, Famous ($17.95 Bison Books), received the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, a fitting honor for this wry, poignant, and endearing book. The fame represented here is not so much that of the recognizable name, though some do appear (a moving poem that touches on Mary Todd Lincoln's difficult life is included). Rather it is the fame that translates as a kind of self-knowledge, available to us only as we reach middle age. "Aren't all of us / waiting to be discovered?," Ms. Flenniken writes. Her kind and inventive searching allows for many discoveries -- in her own life and in the lives of many of us "minor characters," revealing pleasures, limitations, sadnesses, desires. She is cognizant that despite our plans, much is out of our control -- "The menu unfolds / like a map and for a moment your trip // feels intentional." Losses (her deceased parents are a sweet presence) cannot be avoided. Nor can failures, like those of parents at a school recital who clap "heroically, like the parents / they've meant to be." Her honesty is tempered with an appreciation of the power of forgiveness, primarily of ourselves. And with a sense of humor -- "Nature abhors a vacuum / but God loves a good vacuuming." These poems both give our problematic lives serious attention and remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. "

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Poetry Runway, Season Three

Day of Show, Runway Stage:

Heidi: In Poetry, one day you're in, the next day you're out.

Flashback: Tim in the writing studio with the poets. Pads of paper, laptops, printers, coffee.

Tim (to Vincent): I'm worried about this. It's not even a villanelle. I just don't get it.

Vincent: I know, I know. But it turns me on. What am I doing here? I think it's sexy. It's like Elizabeth Bishop is in the room with me.

Tim (to Jeffrey): Wow. It looks like a buzz-saw ran through this. But I love it. Carry on.

Laura (to Kayne): I'm worried about your taste. Elizabeth Bishop is gonna be rolling over in her grave when she hears this.

Kayne (to Laura): Well I'm worried about your character, honey; and that's worse. Besides, who asked you, anyway?

Flash forward to Runway Stage:

Heidi: We asked you to write a villanelle based on Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art," but updated to the 21st century. You had two days for this challenge. (Smiling evilly) I'd like to bring your poems back to the runway, now, and ask you a little bit about them.

M. Kors: Michael, tell us about your poem.

Michael: Well, I took Bishop's villanelle, and I brought it forward to Hip-hop. I asked myself what Macy Gray or Jay Z would say here. Threw in a little bling, a little down low, and a shot of my crib.

M. Kors: I love it. It's very now. Sophisticated, but street.

Nina: Yes. I would read this. I could see it in a glossy. Or on line. It works.

Heidi: Uli, tell us about your poem.

Uli: Well I imagined Elizabeth was still alive and living in Florida with a really great tan . . . having a highball on the beach . . . smoking a cigar . . . and having a foot massage . . .

Nina: But this is exactly like all your other poems! I was hoping to see something fresher. Something a little younger from you. Something less "confessional."

Heidi: Kayne. Tell us about your poem.

Kayne: Well I took "One Art" and changed the rhythm to "The Yellow Rose of Texas." Sort of a nod to Country and Western, but in a happy gay way. And also in honor of Emily Dickinson, who frankly I think was a better poet. (Bites his lip and looks hopeful).

M. Kors: This isn't even a villanelle. And Country and Western is so last century.

Nina: But I like the idea bringing in Dickinson. Who knows, in another world, maybe they would have been lovers?

M. Kors: But the poem is ugly. I can't get that twang out of my head. It's like she has a banjo and braids, and a buck tooth.

Heidi: Jeffery. Tell us about your poem.

Jeffery: Well I took the text of "One Art" and I cut it into pieces with a razor blade and spray painted it black and enlarged it on a photo enlarger, then plastered it over a billboard downtown as my band played electric guitar, and videotaped the whole process for My Tube. It's had 300,000 hits already. It rocks! (Very proud of self).

M. Kors: I love this.

Nina: It's not great. But Jeffery you always take such risks. And that is what is keeping you on the show so far.

Heidi: Laura. Tell us about your poem.

Laura: I followed the villanelle form exactly. I think it's elegant and timeless, and I didn't want to mess with it.

Nina: It's perfect. The rhymes, the meter, the final couplet. But it feels a little safe. Sort of like something Elizabeth Bishop's maid would write.

M. Kors: I was expecting a little more daring from you. It's well-made. But a snoozer.

Laura: (Icy smile).

Heidi: Vincent. Tell us about your poem.

Vincent: Well I took Bishop's poem and ran the text through a translation program into Portuguese, and then French. And then I took the result and ran it through a Markov text generator. Then I did N+7. Then I wrote it all backwards, removing every other word, you know, to get the feeling of irretrievable loss into the poem . . .

Heidi: Hmmmm. (looks puzzled and cross-eyed) I just don't get it. It's nonsense.

Nina (rolling her eyes): This made no sense to me.

M. Kors: Vincent, did you forget to take your medication? Don't get me wrong, I love the "idea," but this is crazy. Not even Jubilat or Volt would publish this.

Vincent: Well it turned me on. I think it's a great poem. I wanna write a whole book of these.

Heidi: OK we've heard what you have to say. We're going to talk for a bit. We'll call you back to the runway when we've made a decision. (Evil smile).

Poets exit, looking morose.

Heidi: Remember. In Poetry, one day you're in, the next day you're out.

(to be continued)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pear Ginger Martini


My own spin on this fabulous libation:

Peter's Pear Ginger Martini

4-5 oz Vodka
2 oz Pear Nectar
1-2 oz Lemon Syrup
1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger, or candied ginger
6-8 ice cubes
shake well
strain into chilled martini glasses
garnish with 1-2 cubes candied ginger on a toothpick, a pear slice, or both

enough for two large or four small martinis

ahhhh . . . this is what we are having tonight. TGIFINAD Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Poetry group last night was fun. Good poems and friendship all around. Thanks K, J and R. Afterwards, Dean and I watched Project Runway (I love Michael and Laura and want one of them to win it all) and Noah's Arc. NA is a great show with hot-looking men and several story lines overlapping: Chance's partner gets fired; Alex gets Trey back with Ric's help; Noah has to come out on TV and is "rescued" by a closeted rapper. But it ends badly with Noah getting gay-bashed at a gas station on the way home. It was really difficult and disturbing to watch: Dean and I both had trouble falling asleep just thinking about it. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I really just loved the Kevin McFadden poems in the current issue of Poetry. He's a man after my own heart, with his anagrams and word play. In the poem "Art," each line is an anagram of the line "The poem is a self-portrait always," from Charles Wright. And the poem, "It's a Cue, the Name," is composed entirely of anagrams of the Ginsberg line, "America, when will you be angelic?" I loved these, and want to imitate them right away.

The third poem in this issue, "Tone Deficit," plays with word pairs in which the the "oh" and "ah" sound is interchanged, in delightful and surprising ways:

Tone Deficit
by Kevin McFadden

Can't tell your oh from your ah? Go, go or else
go ga-ga. What, were you born in a barn? Oh.
Ah. What do you say when the dentist asks?
No novacaine? Nah. Then joke's on us, Jack:

we gnaw ourselves when we really ought to know.
Can't tell the force from the farce, nor our
cores from our cars. The horde works hard in this
new nation of shopkeeps, moles in malls, minding

our stores when we should be minding our stars.
Harmony, whoremoney—can we even tell
the showman from the shaman? Or are we
the worst kind of tourists, doing La France

in low fronts, sporting shorts at Chartres
and so alone in our élan? Nope. We're Napoleons
of nowhere, hopeless going on hapless,
unable to tell our Elbas from our elbows.


happy reading . . .

Eve Births These

Found this on the British Anagrammy website. A complete anagram of a Larkin poem, devised by David Bourke. It's pretty funny. But he didn't anagram the title (that's mine).

This Be The Verse, by Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad,
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had,
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked-up in their turn,
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern,
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man,
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

and now the anagram:

Eve Births These

Yes, your parents, they'd once fucked,
And you're their sorry lot.
So if you must have sex,
Then please tie it in a knot.

If you must sow your oats all day,
Just think of your old mum and dad.
And then use a condom, eh?
You don't want the brat they had.

Ah yes, to be a new mother or father,
Means feed that damn fucker, and play a bit.
And yes, that's the last thing that you'd call fun, eh?
- A nappy full of messy yellow shit.


Monday, September 11, 2006


That day the sky seemed torn open like a letter.
All morning on the television bodies falling

in flames as steel and glass towers crumbled.
Unable to look any longer, my partner and I

wandered the late summer garden —
the kniphofia in tatters, a few pears

bruised and fallen near the birdbath,
our own city shining and intact in the distance,

but the sky eerily quiet, not a plane,
not a bird in sight.

Come evening we walked
to the neighborhood bistro. How oddly

soothing to watch the hostess guide us
to our favorite table, offer us menus, fill our glasses

with iced water — her movements calm and assured,
as if nothing astonishing had happened.

How the votive candle’s gentle flickering
lit my partner’s face, and the bread and the oil

the waiter brought seemed almost sacramental.
The makeshift stage doubling as storage

for table linens and crates of wine
created a kind of glorious rubble.

The amateur singer, nervous but beautiful
atop her high stool, nodded to the piano player

before beginning her first notes
cautiously, carefully. They played

a bluesy jazz from another era, mysterious
but familiar in its tumbling melody,

her smoky voice and his answering piano
the well-worn strands of an engagement

between lovers. As they seamlessly finished
each other’s lines I remembered

how that other couple stood
together on their fiery ledge —

how they turned to each other and
joined hands, before stepping off.


first appeared in Prairie Schooner, Winter 2004.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Poetry Bus Tour

50 cities in 50 days: follow all the action here.

"Sometimes I take a Vicodin and listen to Joni Mitchell."

I read most of The Totality for Kids on the train back from Portland. It's a good read, albeit a bit heady at times. I like the voice in these poems: a mix of academic theory talk, art talk, deadpan humor, French, and pop culture references. Including an index at the back, which is just a hoot ("Tears for Fears, 36"). I recommend it. Here's a fun one:


Peoria! With your unshaven boys
Smooching on the street corners or talking
On the phone while skating headlong into
Tourists who throng the ghostly avenues
Of Peoria! With your grand soirees
And jubilations pushing out against
The weight of history — Peoria
"Capital of the nineteenth century"!
With your cloud of excess signs and gold leaf
Settling on the eyelids of black-haired
Women glowing from terrace cafes
Which line the stone banks of Kickapoo Creek
Flowing like blue milk under bridges
Of Peoria! And your swank manners
And red suburbs and no future and movies
Where strangers swap philosophical gems
And fall at once to bed — never have
So few of all possible kisses
Involved me as in Peoria
Midwestern city o' lights! And so off to
Glamorous Vernon city of canals
Five-step bridges with arcane graffiti
With its three million atavistic
Pigeons at the heart of a jewel-box
Labyrinth and its ancient library
Drooping langourously into the lagoon
A few inches per annum bearing Tom Swift
Down to the Doges. Vernon and its dead
Ends and no vistas and supermodels
In their sunglasses and autumn exile
Like the four figures in "The Mystical
Marriage of Saint Catherine" (attrib.
Parmigianini) seemingly torn
From a glossy and glued to the abyss:

Everywhere at once I must be with you!


Happy reading . . .

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Don't Miss This

I'll be missing this, but if you are in Seattle, you better go! I hear there is a yummy little party afterwards at the Hedgebrook offices nearby.

Susan Rich reads from her newly released Cures Include Travel. Elliott Bay Book Company, Thursday, 7:30 PM, September 7th, co-sponsored with Cottages at Hedgebrook.


And on the subject of poetry. I was looking at the raked-gravel Japanese garden, and thinking of how the person who rakes the patterns does so in such a way as to leave no evidence of his footprints. Is this what we try to do in a poem, or any work of art? Leave no mark of ourselves? Or not? And then I noticed a little divot in the gravel, where the person had probably stepped out of the pattern. And it gave me such delight, breaking the sterility of the scene, seeing this one footprint there.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Having a great time in Portland. The train ride down was fairly easy. We went out for a walk in the downtown area and scoped things out. Bought an all-day pass for $4.25 to ride the light rail, the street car, or the bus system. The transit here is pretty good. You can go just about anywhere, without a car.

Went to the Japanese garden, up in the Washington Park area. It was getting pretty hot out by then and we were roasting. But it was worth it. It's a lovely shady space, about ten degrees cooler than the rest of town. Beautiful and peaceful. I loved the koi pond surrounded by spent iris, the raked gravel garden, and the "Poet's Stone."

Today we had a relaxed breakfast at the hotel, and then went on the trolley to Powell's Books. It is every bit as huge as they say it is. With the different rooms of the bookstore painted different colors so you don't get lost. Still you get lost. But things could be worse than getting lost among books. I bought Joshua Clover's The Totality for Kids. And I saw Kathleen Flenniken's Famous there and turned it out so it looked like it was on display (as well as a copy of my own book, I am so naughty).

Then we went on to the Nob Hill area. Walked for blocks and blocks and looked at shops. Ate at a terrific little lunch spot called Jo. I had an exquisite ginger-pear martini and a crab avocado salad. Dean had a glass of Sauvignon blanc and a warm prawn and bruschetta salad. There was a gorgeous Faye Jones painting on the wall by our table. Perfect.

We came back for a nap and then went on to the visit the Chinese Garden. I just love these quiet, serene, inner-city garden spaces. The lotus flowers were amazing, with their large blooms and seed pods. We had iced tea and almond cookies in the upstairs of the tea house, with a cool breeze blowing through the windows. Ahhhh. Met a very nice man from New York who took our picture for us. We may do the boat cruise of the Willamette river tomorrow.

more later . . .

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


We're off to the Rose City. Wheee! See you in a few days. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 04, 2006

Posted by Picasa

Dean and I saw "Little Miss Sunshine" last night. What a cute little movie, definitely fun. A dysfunctional family is on a road trip with their little girl Olive, played by Abigail Breslin, who is going to compete in a beauty pageant (shades of Jon Benet, but in a low-budget middle-America sort of way). Said family includes an onery coke-snorting grandfather, played by Alan Arkin. A suicidal Proust-scholar gay uncle played by Steve Carrel. A failed motivational-speaker/author father played by Greg Kinnear. A vow-of-silence Nietzche-reading goth teen whose dream is to join the Air Force, played by Paul Dano. A chain-smoking super-mom who tries to hold them all together, played by Toni Collette. And Olive: the precious/precocious nine-year old beauty pageant wanna-be, whose song-and-dance routine is being coached by the hippie grandfather. The road trip gets started on the wrong foot when their VW van breaks down, leading to the hilarious ritual of them all having to push to get it started, and then run along side it and jump in one-by one. The beauty pageant scene at the end is a total hoot. Go ahead and see it, you know you want to.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mrs. A

Saw two more cases of MRSA yesterday. I think we have seen about 100 cases so far this year at our clinic, all told. It's pretty concerning, an epidemic of sorts. The usual story we hear is that the patient first had what felt like a little "bug bite," and then over the next 1-2 days it became much larger, more painful, red, hot, and oozing. By the time we see them there is a full blown abscess, or a small ulcer crater. Some patients have been sick enough to require hospitalization. So far, the community-acquired version of this staph infection is sensitive to the common antibiotic Bactrim (often used for UTI's). Once we start seeing multiple drug resistance in the community, though, things are going to get dicey. So: if you get a little infected "pimple" on your body, don't pick at it, don't poke it with a hot needle, don't take a bath with your girlfriend, don't slather it in "grease" -- call your doctor. And always remember to wash your hands, and to ask your doctor to wash his hands.

This has been a Virtual World public service announcement.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Work today. Saturday clinic. Usually it's all walk-ins, minor illnesses, lots of kids with colds or rashes or gastroenteritis. The occasional broken arm to cast or laceration to suture. The occasional congestive heart failure or asthma exacerbation to admit to the hospital.

Then I need to hurry home and change for my nephew's wedding. He's the first of the nephews and nieces to get hitched. It's supposed to be 90 degrees this afternoon. OMG, I hope the ceremony is in a shady spot.