Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Posted by Picasa

What a dreamy hunk he was. My favorite movie: 1971's made-for-TV "Duel," one of the first films directed by Steven Speilberg.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Such A Lunch

The divine RL made Dean and I the most wonderful lunch today. Green salad with onions and goat cheese, and walnuts and STRAWBERRIES. A corn chowder that was thick and creamy and dotted with wonderful yellow fin potatoes. It was all so hardy and tastey and satisfying. True comfort food. Perhaps she will consider moving in with us?

Possibility, Potential

Dean and I went to a gathering at World Cup Esspresso and Wine in Ravenna last night, to celebrate the release of In Posse. It was fun to chat with everybody. And I heard from Tatyana Mishel that "In Posse" (which I thought was some kind of Western cowboy term for gunslingers running around in a group) is actually Medieval Latin "possibility" or "potential." I like that.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

  Posted by Picasa

A friend mailed me a copy of the poem "The Meeting of Saint Anthony and Saint Paul" by Arturo Islas. I had never heard of Islas, but I liked the poem, which is an ekphrastic, exploring a medieval story painting attributed to Sassetta, that plays with the idea of the two saints being lovers. Islas was a gay Chicano writer who taught at Stanford for many years, and died in 1991. Known mostly for his fiction. A handsome man, more about him here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Poetry Lunch

Had a nice poetry lunch at Elliott Bay Books yesterday with my friend John Wright. He is a retired endocrinologist, who began writing poetry at age 58, and now has three books of poems. We had vegetarian chili, and talked about the difference between anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism, and wondered why so many of the younger generation of poets have no nature and no autobiography in any of their poems.


This quiet elation that comes, finally,
at seventy-one

— I no longer envy the snow birds
their flying south

and this year winter solstice comes
without the slightest longing for light —

It's something akin to a leaf-bare maple.
Its upraised limbs.

* from As Though Praying: poems from Decatur Island
Bluestone Books, 2002


We woke up this morning to find it had snowed in the night. Hadn't expected it at all. I love how it muffles all the sounds. I know it won't last, but it's beautiful right now.

later . . . actually not so beautiful here: traffic is in a knot all over town, with spinouts and crashes everywhere, the 99 tunnel blocked, I-5 a mess. I made it to the hospital for rounds, but I'm not sure I'll be able to get to clinic anytime soon. Rather than fight the traffic, I have stopped for a coffee, and to just sit for a while and enjoy the morning. Ahhhhh . . . .

PS: It's nice that practically the whole city of Seattle is one big WIFI hotspot.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Paper & Personality

It's been a busy week. We are in the midst of "Going Live" with an electronic medical records system for our clinics here in Seattle. Between now and Mid-April we'll be turning the system on, one week at a time, over each of eight sites. After months of prep work, and training of "Superusers," I hope it all goes smoothly. (fingers crossed!)

Though I'm looking forward to going electronic, part of me is going to miss the old paper chart, with it's handwritten med list and problem list and progress notes, its little sticky-note reminders stuck here and there and all over, the stapled medical coupon or insurance card copy, the colored dividers for labs and consults and outside records, the creased and torn spine, how after a while when it got too full of stuff it would just fall apart in your hands. I really will miss it. The paper chart had a personality. If a patient called the nurse with a question, and I wasn't exactly sure who they were, one look at the paper chart, and bingo, I could picture the exact patient in my mind. I am just not sure that will be the case with an electronic chart. They are all going to look the same. Alas.

Anyway. I've been on call all week, and it has been fairly steady. Lot's of newborns, as usual. Seven so far. Three by C-section. I miss doing OB, but not enough to start doing it again. Besides, the midwives to a great job, and I still get to attend on all the babies. And it's the funnest part of being on call: examining the newborns, talking with the new parents, sending them off happy.

Clinic has been busy as well. Wednesday starting off with my least favorite kind of visit to see on my schedule: "New Patient. Wants Pain Meds." Sometimes it's a legitimate problem. But too often it is someone merely seeking drugs. And it is often not a pleasant encounter, especially since I usually say NO.

I liked this one

from Poetry Daily the other day:



Click here to vote
on who's ripe
for a makeover

or takeover

in this series pilot

Votes are registered
at the server
and sent back

as results.


Click here to transform

into digestion.

From this point on,
it's a lattice
of ends
disguised as means:

the strangler fig,

the anteater.


I've developed the ability
to revise
what I'm waiting for

so that letter
becomes dinner

while the contrapuntal
of the Chinese elm leaves


Rae Armantrout
Number 11

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


  Posted by Picasa

They say a goldfish has
only a three-second memory.

What I wouldn't give for that.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

What I've been reading lately:

American Family Physician (it's free, online, and searchable). Featuring "Chronic Plaque Psoriasis" and its treatment, including pictures!

Families, Systems, & Health: The Journal of Collaborative Family Health Care. Including an essay by Johanna Shapiro entitled "Poetic License: Writing Poetry as a Way for Medical Students to Examine Their Professional Relation Systems." Heady stuff.

Literature and Medicine. It's a journal out of Johns Hopkins, with academic articles on a subject near and dear to my heart. My favorite one this issue: "Interventional Narratology: Form and Function of the Narrative Medical Write-Up" by James Hunter Wood.

The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have, Dennis Diclaudio. This was really silly, and really funny, if it weren't so true.

A Little Book of Hangover Cures, Alex Benady. I ordered this from England. In it you can learn about the "Puerto Rican Faith Cure" and the "Prairie Oyster Cure." Among other fascinating and hilarious "treatments."

Alcoholica Esoterica, Ian Lendler. I heard his interview on NPR and had to get this one. Full of fun facts. I'd love to get a poem out of it.

Eunoia, Chritian Bok. I finally got this after Ron's and Kathleen's posts about it. And it doesn't disappoint. I especially loved the short poems under "Vowels" that were anagrammatic texts of the letters in the title. Here's an excerpt:


loveless vessels

we vow
solo love

we see
love solve loss

else we see
love sow woe

selves we woo
we lose

Cut Off the Ears of Winter, Peter Covino. I first heard him at last year's AWP, and finally got around to finishing this book. "Box of Broken Things" is just devastating. A brutally honest poem after the death of his abusive father. Start there.

Some Ether, Nick Flynn. This came out in 2000, and I missed it back then. What a wonderful book. The suicide of his mother, which occurred when he was just a boy, informs one whole section, and many of the rest of the poems. And they are riveting poems. I wonder if this life event will continue to inform his work (how could it not?), the way Greg Orr's accidental shooting of his brother has continued to inform his work. Here's a sample poem:

You Ask How

& I say, suicide, & you ask
how & I say, an overdose, and then
she shot herself
& your eyes fill with what?
wonder? So I add, in the chest,
so you won't think
her face is gone, & it matters somehow
that you know this...

& near the end I
eat all her percodans, to know
how far they can take me, because
they are there
. So she
won't. Cut straws
stashed in her glove compartment,
& I split them open
to taste the alkaloid residue. Bitter.
Lingering. A bottle of red wine
moves each night along
as she writes, I feel too much,
again & again. Our phone now

unlisted, our mail
kept in a box at the post office
& my mother tells me to always leave
a light on so it seems
someone's home. She finds a cop
for her next boyfriend, his hair
greasy, pushed back with his fingers.
He lets me play with his service revolver
while they kiss on the couch.
As cars fill the windows, I aim,
making the noise with my mouth,
in case it's them,

& when his back is hunched over her I aim
between his shoulders blades,

in case it's him.

Also reading the latest Red Mountain Review, Gettysburg Review, and New England Review. But mostly just the poetry.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

There's Fever in the Funkhouse Now

Rolling Stones, live in concert in Rio, right now, right here.How do Mick and his guys do it? OMG.

It's Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It)

If I could stick my pen in my heart
I'd spill it all over the stage
Would it satisfy ya or would slide on by ya?
Or would you think this boy is strange?
Ain't he strayayange?
If I could win you
if I could sing you
a love song so divine.
Would it be enough for your cheating heart
If I broke down and cried? -
If I criyiyied.

I said I know
it's only rock and roll
But I like it.
I said I know
it's only rock and roll
But I like it
like it
yes I do.

If I could stick a knife in my heart
Suicide right on the stage
Would it be enough for your teenage lust?
Would it help ease your pain?
Ease your brain
if I could dig down deep in my heart
Feelings would flood on the page
Would it satisfy ya
would it slide on by ya?
Would you think the boy's insane?
He's insayayane.

Mundo Portugues

If you can read Portuguese, I have an interview by Antonio Oliviera in the January issue of Mundo Portugues here. It's a Portuguese language magazine out of New York. Click on "SUMÁRIO do mês, Janeiro 2006 (Páginas 14 a 16 em formato PDF)." The title of the article is "O medico-poeta dos pobres," which I think means "A doctor-poet for the poor?" I can only understand about half of it. I like the pictures he used (~grin~).
  Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 17, 2006

In Posse Review 10th Anniversary Issue

The latest issue of In Posse Review is live now here. It includes a special "Seattle Slew" section, guest-edited by Susan Rich, featuring ten marvey Seattle-area poets:

Peter Aaron
Allen Braden
Kathleen Flenniken
Marjorie Manwaring
J.W. Marshall
Rosanne Olson
Peter Pereira
Derek Sheffield
Annette Spaulding-Convy
Molly Tenenbaum

I know, missing are Jeannine Hall Gailey (she has an interview with Brian Turner), Kelli Russell Agodon, Rebecca Loudon, Ron Starr, Lillias Bever, Ted McMahon, Jeff Crandall and many more. Hell, Seattle is a hot bed for good poetry right now. Check out In Posse Review, and enjoy this tastey home-cooked sampling.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


  Posted by Picasa

What a fun episode of Project Runway last night I squealed with delight when I heard Iman would be a guest judge. She is amazing. A DIVA. But where was the David?

My favorite, Nick, got the boot last week (boo-hoo!). Now there are only three left. Santino is annoying and conceited, but probably the most original of the remaining contestants. I like Chloe, but she always plays it way too safe (except for the dress made of leaves: wow!). My money is on Daniel to win.

Imagine doing a "Poetry Runway" show. Where the contestants are given a different challenge for a poem to write each week, then perform their new poem for a panel of famous poet judges. Each poem/poet gets critiqued on the spot by the panel, and each week one poet is eliminated. The winner gets money ($100k), a book deal with Knopf, six months of psychotherapy, and is named the "Poetry Runway Laureate" for a year. Now, wouldn't *that* be a fun show to watch?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Death of Disco

I've been reading Charles Jensen's chapbook, Little Burning Edens, winner of the Red Mountain Review chapbook award. It's a fascinating exploration of gay love, night-clubbing, the specter of AIDS, coming of age in the era of HIV:

"The sidewalks at night
in our most beautiful cities
are fraught and nervous with tics
of dead canaries. The surly hustler in his laceup jeans
feels a chilly rush of feathers at his neck
where his john
has bitten the skin through . . ."

from "Canaries"

"Everyone at the Cock
throws salt over a shoulder
at the bar. The floor gritty with it,
becoming bleached . . .
. . .
There are dead boys
inside us right now. Our own lightless lips
are ashen, burned inside out.

And later, in bed, one man touches
another man's face. The ghosts inside them touch.
The worst kind of love."

from "Gotham"

I love how the title Little Burning Edens can be read on several levels: Our lives and loves are "burning" with desire, with passion; or, they are burning out, crashing and burning. Our lives and loves are "little," meaning impoverished, or, perhaps, they are a small piece of paradise on earth, a "little Eden," a garden refuge in the endless steel and glass and cement of the city.

And I admire the humor that comes through amid the pathos:

" . . . this world
is just so dirty

and officially, they say
it's death for disco."

from "Dirty World"

It's a lovely chapbook. Printed as the center section of Red Mountain Review. Get your copy now!


In other news: a fascinating interview with Franz Wright in the current issue of Poets and Writers here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Duck! Cheney

This was too funny and clever not to pass along:

From: "Marcus Bales"
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2006
Subject: Cheney Hunts

Higgledy piggledy
Richard B Cheney
While hunting for quail on the
Old Armstrong place.
In a moment of carelessness
Blasted another guest
Right in the face.

"Ambulance! Ambulance!"
Richard B. Cheney
Repeated as somebody
Bled where he sat
Prey to Republican
Was he a terrorist
Or Democrat?

Luckily luckily
Richard B Cheney's
Security detail has
Medics on staff
And, since the guy is an
All that he'll say is "It
Hurts when I laugh".

Remington Remington
Richard B Cheney
Has shot a Republican
Very fat cat;
Cheney is sorry but
Thinks "I'd have missed if
He wasn't so fat."

Wriggley wriggley
Richard B Cheney:
"Executive privilege!"
SCOTUS: "Concur!"
After all, Hamilton
Died when shot down by
Vice President Burr.

Coverup coverup
Richard B Cheney
For twenty-four hours
Would not say a word,
And none of the media
Tell us the real facts: did
Dick get the bird?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dean and I have moved back into the bedroom. But we're just not ready to move back in to the living room and dining room, yet. I'm enjoying the clean empty space, just the way it is now. It's very calm and relaxing. Very Zen. I love how sounds echo in the empty room, off the bare floors. Maybe we'll never move the rest of the furniture back in.

 Posted by Picasa


dis·com·bob·u·late (dskm-bby-lt)
tr.v. dis·com·bob·u·lat·ed, dis·com·bob·u·lat·ing, dis·com·bob·u·lates

To throw into a state of confusion.

See Synonyms at confuse.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sunny Sunny

The floors are done and we start moving back in today. It was actually sunny all day yesterday, and Dean and I both had the day off and were able to wander around downtown like tourists (only better, because we live here). We walked to our gym (just two blocks from the hotel) and had a leisurely workout. Then we walked along the waterfront up to the stair climb to Pike Place Market, visited Left Bank Books and De Laurenti's Italian Market, and then went along Post Avenue to the original Starbucks (which is actually kind of a dump, how did he even make an empire out of this?), and then to this little specialty shop that makes everything to do with truffles (not chocolate but fungus): truffle oil, truffle cream, truffle sauce, truffle soup, dried truffle, canned truffle, truffle truffle truffle. They also serve a small lunch and wine. We had cream of celeriac soup that was divine, especially with a drizzle of (you guessed it) truffle oil!

We walked back down First Avenue to the Seattle Art Museum, which is closed for a remodel (the Hammering Man sculpture in front has a whole new meaning now) and then we went down Harbor Steps and visited the high end furniture stores on Western Ave. (everything so over-designed, we would never use it). And then we stopped at an old antique store with all of these reclaimed pieces from torn down houses: five panel oak doors, mantle pieces, and my favorite -- old stained glass windows, with patterns of iris, roses, tulips, diamonds, etc. I want to get some for the house, with the old wood frame intact, and the rusted hinges still on, to hang on a wall, or put in front of a window so the light can shine through it. Hmmmm.


Visit Charles and his Johari Window. Choose 5-6 words to describe how you see him.

And then do mine: http://kevan.org/johari?name=PeterP

Friday, February 10, 2006

Code Black

I practically never watch Gray's Anatomy or ER or those other medical shows, because they are usually so fake and far-fetched, but also just too frenetic and stressful to watch. I'd prefer a good gay situation comedy any day. But I could not turn off last night's (rerun?) of Gray's Anatomy's "Code Black" episode. The gist of the story: a patient in the OR about to have trauma surgery is discovered to have an unexploded ordnance in his chest. And the paramedic (a timid/brave young woman on her first week of duty) who has her hand in his chest to stop bleeding actually has her hand on the bomb, and if she removes her hand the whole OR staff will become "pink mist." It's sort of a reverse "Hands on a Hard Body" as one by one the OR staff deserts her, and she is alone, one hand in his chest, the other squeezing the ambu bag to ventilate him.

Of course, the stars of the show come back, and the paramedic is able to flee, leaving a poor young resident holding the bomb. And that's where it ends! To be continued. Arrrrgh.

I will not watch this show again!


Thursday, February 09, 2006


The floors should be done tomorrow, and we'll be able to move back in Saturday. If the fumes are too bad we may have to stay here another day. The hotel isn't bad. It was built in 1913-14, still has a lot of the original woodwork and doors and stair-railings, the high ceilings (were people taller in the old days?). The bathrooms have been updated, thank god, and are pretty spacious. The only problem is there is not an associated restaurant with the hotel, so there is no room service. Not midnight BLT or early morning breakfast in bed. Oh well. There is a continental breakfast at a cafe on the main floor. And a Tulleys and a Starbucks on the same block. So we are not suffering mightily.

Poetry group last night was good: a variety of poems about Japanese fairy tales, nuclear waste, flip-books, unpregnant women, dancing. There is always the question of who goes first when we workshop the poems. Usually the host decides who is first, and we go around in a circle from there. Last night we decided to go in alphabetical order by middle name. So it was: Elisabeth, Hall, Kevin, Lyall, Martin. Three of those five middle names belong to women. Can you guess who is who?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Happy Happy

The floors are all sanded down and are looking great. It's amazing how much paler they are with all the old finish gone. We are going with a natural look. I think it will lighten up the rooms a lot.

Some recent good news in the mail:

I am accepted to present at the Skagit River Poetry Festival in May (It's the Pacific NW version of the Dodge Poetry Festival, only smaller scale. I believe it is run by the sister of the guy who does the Dodge Festival).

It's official: I now have a signed contract for the next book from Copper Canyon, and a projected publication date! What's Written on the Body is due out in Spring of 2007. I feel very lucky and honored to have a second book with Copper Canyon. They have been just wonderful to work with.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A few more books

I have been on a bit of a reading spree the past month. Some of the books I have mentioned already. Here are a few others:

The Go-Go Boy Sonnets, Edmund Miller. The sonnets are very strict in terms of form. The content is a little more unconventional: they are written to the hundred or so Go-Go Boys the author met during the past thirty years in New York dance clubs. The book is fully annotated and indexed, as if it were a very serious academic study, with a Glossary of Gay Terms and Bar Slang, and indexes of Languages Used; Allusions; Artists, Designers Trademarks and Logos; New York Locales; Occupations and Types, and etc. All so one could look up, I imagine, a sonnet about a leather queen who wears Prada and goes to the Ramrod, that alludes to Proust and that incorporates French. It's really silly, but a lot of fun.

The Silent Treatment, Richard Howard.

Jubilant Thicket, new & selected poems, Jonathan Williams. How come I had never heard of this guy before? He has been around for ages (he's 75 now). Funny, imaginative, mostly short, very gay, very "English" poems. A great read.

Goldbeater's Skin, GC Waldrep. I love the title "Saccade" and wish I had used it first.

Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds, Eleanor Lerman.

What Remains, Stuart Greenhouse. Lovely chapbook, Stuart! My favorite poem so far: "Lead Hat."

Singing Home the Bones, Gregory Scofield. Two spirit Native American poet/poems.

A Palace of Pearls, Jane Miller. What an amazing book. It's a 34-part long poem sequence, where the titles are at the bottom of each poem, and the final poem "Coda" is all of these titles run together. Its about war and art and life and politics, with a bit of the Arab world (both contemporary and historical) thrown in. Here's a poem:


Do you know how long it has been since a moral choice presented itself

and the wrong choice was made

not two minutes

why is it not quiet between lightning and thunder as if someone where asking

do you have other articulable feelings if so express them now

tragedy ensues

with a laser blast from the cockpit

the dangled finger of god makes contact


Happy reading . . .


Saturday, February 04, 2006

This basement is stacked!


Careful, don't sneeze. Posted by Picasa

One Man's Ceiling Is . . .

First there was all the rain, about 12 inches in January alone. Along with that, there was also over 14 feet of snow in the mountains. NOW they are forecasting 60 mile an hour winds for today. It was pretty windy last night, and the power went out for a couple hours. It might go out again today, or be out tomorrow for the Superbowl. GASP! ~grin~

And to top it off Dean and I are in the middle of needing to move all of our furniture out of the main floor of the house and into the basement this weekend, because we are having the hardwood floors refinished, starting Monday. It's a process that takes a week, during which we cannot live in our house, because of the dust and the fumes. Rather than impose on friends or neighbors, we have decided to rent a room in a hotel in Pioneer Square downtown, and we'll live like tourists for a week: eat out, go to the Market, visit the Art Museum, other places downtown. Maybe even ride that stupid green trolley or the Ugly Duck Boat.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Lie Awake Lake


I'm reading, among other things, Beckian Fritz Goldberg's new book, Lie Awake Lake, winner of the 2004 Field Poetry Prize . Apart from the wonderful title, the cover image is just stunning, and is one of the main reasons I picked up the book. And the poems aren't bad. Here is one, blending death and blossoming, in a way that reminds me of James Wright's "A Blessing."

Blossom at the End of the Body

Leaving this world must be the flower,
its three violet faces turned to the air — a man can't look
at a flower without knowing he's dying.
That's the beauty. Parting must be this little
chance, with its stem and flutter. It's no god
and it's no force and our grief is a rock, a clod,
a punk of earth. Truth is,
what we will miss most
isn't her or him or mother or child but
the particular blue at the side of the field,
the heart's pure botany, for

the body is a science. And there is no
substitute for thing. Not love, not happiness,
not faith. But flower. But flower. But flower.

I like how she rhymes god and clod. And the meditative tone. It must be delightful to read aloud, with the refrain at the end. Lovely.

It says in the bio that she teaches at ASU. So, Charles might know of her? Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 02, 2006

You must listen to this!

I got this from my friend Kathleen Flenniken. It's a recording of Christian Bok reading, from his book Eunoia, a long poem that contains not a single vowel except U. It is sonically amazing. Plus there is a very hot sex scene described with all U words (imagine how many you can think of).


Addendum: Let the record show the inimitable Ron Starr has indeed been singing the praises of Bok for several years now. Unfortunately, it has fallen on my and others' tin ears. Next time Bok reads in Seattle I hereby request that Ron forcibly grab me by said ear and bring me along! ~grin~

Upcoming Readings at Open Books

Seattle's Fabulous Poetry-Only Bookstore!

I hope to make it to more than a few of these. Especially the Waldrep, Clover, and Barot readings. Joshua Marie Wilkinson had some fine poems published in Floating Bridge Press' Pontoon anthology, before recently winning the Iowa book prize. And the Gailey-Silano affair should be fantastic. See you there?

Thursday 2/9 at 7:30 PM
Leonard Schwartz & Catherine Wagner

Tuesday 2/28 at 7:30 PM
G.C. Waldrep

Thursday 3/2 at 7:30 PM
Joseph Campana

Sunday 3/26 at 3:30 PM
Rae Armantrout

Thursday 4/13 at 7:30 PM
Joshua Marie Wilkinson

Thursday 4/20 at 7:30 PM
Joshua Clover

Thursday 4/27 at 7:30 PM
Tom Crawford & Quinton Duval

Thursday 5/4 at 7:30 PM
Thomas Aslin

Sunday 5/7 at 4 PM
Kate Lynn Hibbard & Judith Skillman

Thursday 5/25 at 7:30 PM
Rick Barot & Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Thursday 6/22 at 7:30 PM
Jeannine Hall Gailey & Martha Silano

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go Away

  Posted by Picasa

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again some other day.
Little Johnny wants to play,
In the meadow by the hay.
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again.
Rain, rain, pour down,
But not a drop on our town.
Rain on the green grass,
and rain on the tree,
And rain on the housetop,
but not on me.
Rain, rain, go away,
Come again on washing day.
Rain, rain, go to Germany,
And remain there permanently.
Rain, rain, go away,
Come on Martha's wedding day.

Additional Verses:

Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day,
If you don't, I will say,
Rain, rain, go away.
Rain, rain, go away,
Come again some other day,
We want to go outside and play,
Come again some other day.
Rain, rain, go away,
Come again some other day,
It's raining, it's pouring,
the old man (Dean) is snoring,
went to bed with a bump on his head
and couldn't get up in the morning.