Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Some New Year's Resolutions for 2009:
1)Write more
2)Exercise more
3)Complete some home projects (believe me, we have a list)
4)Keep "day job" at a sane level

Dean and I are going to go to the neighborhood get-together tonight (see below), and then turn in early. Who can stay up until midnight anymore? Around here, we go to bed when it is midnight in New York.


5th Annual Bradner Burn
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 - 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Bradner Gardens Park in southeast Seattle
29th Avenue South and South Grand Street

Throw something into the burn barrel.....
Bring your hopes and wishes for the New Year 2009 by writing them on old holiday cards, gift wrapping, cardboard, wood, etc. to throw into the burn barrel. Effigies are encouraged.

Banish the bad vibes of 2008 and bring on the good ones for 2009.....
Bring a noisemaker to ring in the new year. (Musical instruments, bells, gongs, pots and pans, whatever you can use to make a sound will work.)

Dress warmly since this is an outdoor event. Get ready to mingle with friends and neighbors at this family friendly event.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dinner for One

Apparently, watching this short skit is a New Year's Eve ritual for millions in Germany and England. Everyone howls at the repeated line "Same procedure as last year?" It's cute, but a bit dated. Check it out (only 11 minutes):

And a more recent rendition, in German, live on stage, done in drag:


Monday, December 29, 2008

It's a Christmas miracle!

Bristol Palin, 18, gave birth to Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston on Saturday, People magazine reported online. He weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces. Colleen Jones, the sister of Bristol's grandmother, told the magazine that "the baby is fine and Bristol is doing well."
The governor's office said it would not release information because it considers the baby's birth a private, family matter. Palin family members, hospital employees and spokespeople for the governor's former running mate, John McCain, either would not confirm the birth or did not return messages from The Associated Press.
The father is Levi Johnston, a former hockey player at Alaska's Wasilla High School.
This was one of the more interesting "Top Ten" lists out there:With political campaigns dominating so much of the year, it's not surprising that even a dog got into the action. A yellow Labrador retriever named Willie Bean Roscoe P. Coltrane ran for mayor of an Alabama town. And he was only one of the animals making headlines in '08 -– from a snake that swallowed a family pet in front of two horrified children to a loyal dog that remained by her master's side for weeks after his death. See 2008 animal stories and vote for your favorite.


Poor Detroit. First the auto-makers financial crisis and now this: the Lions are 0-16.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

One of my favorite Christmas songs. Can you believe it was written by Dolly Parton?! (or at least sung by her in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) Still, my favorite version was by the Seattle Men's Chorus, during their Christmas concerts back in the late 80's-early 90's, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis (which added a whole 'nother layer to the lyrics). We have it on their CD titled "Snowbound." It is just such a melancholy, but hopeful song. I love it:

Hard Candy Christmas

Hey, maybe i'll dye my hair
Maybe i'll move somewhere
Maybe i'll get a car
Maybe i'll drive so far
They'll all lose track
Me, i'll bounce right back

Maybe i'll sleep real late
Maybe i'll lose some weight
Maybe i'll clear my junk
Maybe i'll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, i'll be just

Fine and dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still i won't let
Sorrow bring me way down

I'll be fine and dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still i won't let
Sorrow get me way down

Hey, maybe i'll learn to sew
Maybe i'll just lie low
Maybe i'll hit the bars
Maybe i'll count the stars until dawn
Me, i will go on
. . .


Friday, December 26, 2008

Still on call, and in clinic today. But at least the snow has stopped for now. I may try to go chainless.

Here's a poem from today's Poetry Daily. I don't know who Gunter Eich is (I know, I could Google it . . .), but it doesn't matter. I love this poem.

Günter Eich Apocrypha

A pretty girl asks
for my autograph,
delighted! Except
it's her cigarette
she wants signed,

then lighted. Think about it.
I do. And am
for a moment
the happiest man
that I have ever known—

I have seen my end
and it is someone else's
body, breath
and lovely

--Franz Wright


Got this link from Jilly
U.K. embraces Canadian's book about vowels
"Enfettered, these sentences repress free speech. The text deletes selected letters."

You might recognize this as the opening of "Chapter E" in Christian Bök's Eunoia, an experimental poetic exercise built on five sections in which either a, e, i, o or u is exclusively employed.

Eunoia – which means "beautiful thinking" and is the shortest English word to include all five vowels – became an unlikely hit in Canada after its 2001 publication by Toronto-based independent Coach House Books. The book is in its 21st printing here, having sold more than 20,000 copies, an extraordinary feat for a poetry collection. It also won the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

It is snowing again in Seattle today, so we really did get a "White Christmas." Though it is really more of a slush Christmas at this point.

I'm still on call and had a slew of newborns to see this AM: six in all, with another on the way later today. It makes for a busy morning, but I really do love seeing the babies. The only problem: getting out of my driveway and our side street. My tires were spinning and I was swerving and rooster-tailing like I was in a little motor boat. Even with chains. Once you get to the main roads, it's clear. But the side streets (and hills) are still quite dangerous.


Thank you everybody for the emails and messages about "Oniomania" on The Writer's Almanac yesterday. It really means a lot to me. It is amazing the wide reach that this radio show has! People who usually do not even think of poetry at all, will hear a poem on this show, and be moved enough to send a message, or buy a book.


Santa brought Dean and I just what we wanted: a Food Saver! We had seen one at my sister's house at Thanksgiving, and just loved what you could do with leftovers and with with storing seafood and other meats and veggies. I know: tres domestique.

We missed meeting with family last night for the traditional Christmas Eve gathering, due to the bad weather. Tonight we are meeting our dear old friends K & B at the new Four Seasons downtown, for a lovely Christmas dinner. After being trapped by on call and the weather the past few days, I am so looking forward to this!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From today's American Life in Poetry column. I love this poem:


I made up a story for myself once,
That each glove I lost
Was sent to my father in prison

That's all it would take for him
To chart my growth without pictures
Without words or visits,

Only colors and design,
Texture; it was ok then
For skin to chafe and ash,

To imagine him
Trying on a glove,
Stretching it out

My open palm closing
And disappearing
In his fist.

--Jose Angel Araguz

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem reprinted from Rattle, Vol. 13, no. 2, Winter 2007, by permission of Jose Angel Araguz.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I made it into the hospital fairly easily this morning. Most of the main streets had been sanded or plowed. And my little Honda with front wheel drive and chains just plowed right through. It was nice that the streets were pretty much empty of any traffic. Sounds like a lot of staff just slept overnight at the hospital, rather than go home and come back. Not a bad idea.

It has been snowing most of the day today. The Seahawks played their final game of the season in the snow. What a hoot to watch on TV. And we won!

We have over a foot of snow now at our house. I can't remember the last time we have had this much snow. And the forecast is for more through the night. My oh my.
Here is a pic of our front deck table. Wanna come over? We're having a big snow pie for dinner. We'll just drizzle it with chocolate and strawberries and dig in, face first.
Mark D. posted a list of poetry books he loved in 2008. Here is my list:

Favorite Poetry Books of 2008

These are in no particular order (I have blogged about many of them here over the past year). I am sure there are many wonderful books I've missed. Please let me know if there are some books you enjoyed that I should consider?

Unmentionables, Beth Ann Fennelly
The One Strand River, Richard Kenney
Now You're the Enemey, James Allen Hall
Elegy, Mary Jo Bang
Boy, Patrick Phillips
Anna, washing, Ted Genoways
National Anthem, Kevin Prufer
God Particles, Thomas Lux
My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, Paul Guest
Burn and Dodge, Sharon Dolin
An Aquarium, Jeffrey Yang
Rising, Falling, Hovering, CD Wright
The Earth in the Attic, Fady Joudah
Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, Frederick Seidel
Failure, Philip Schultz
Meaning a Cloud, JW Marshall
The Extremities, Timothy Kelly
Cadaver Dogs, Rebecca Loudon
Want, Rick Barot
Same Life, Maureen N. McLane
Behind My Eyes Li-Young Lee

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I heard about this first from Kelli.
My oh my! Be careful out there! Glad no one was seriously injured.


And with a new storm coming in tonight . . .


There is a great "slide show" of the images here (no pun intended).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Week or Christmas Comes Early?

Looks like we are going to have a white Christmas here in Seattle. We are socked in with snow here in south Seattle, the clinic where I work is closed, no one is out driving in the neighborhoods. It's quiet, calm, COLD, and beautiful.

The weather report is for more snow and freezing temps coming through Christmas. Looks like our "Snow Day" might be turning into a "Snow Week?" Only problem: I am on call 24 hours/day for the next 8 days, starting today, so I am gonna have to strap on those tire chains and wheel the Honda (it has front wheel drive and actually does quite well in the snow) out of the garage and to the hospital each day (and to clinic if we are open). HO-HO-HO!


And along with this wintry mix, some early poetry "gifts" have been coming in the mail this week:
My poem "Anagrammer" has been translated into Italian (it's fascinating how they made the anagrams work in a different language) and is appearing in a literary magazine there (I'll send a link when my copy arrives in the mail).

The latest issue of New England Review arrived yesterday, with my two poems "Autopsy" and "Transplant." I've just started reading the issue, but so far there are delightful poems from Sarah Murphy ("The Loose Ends, the Loopholes, the Uncounted Loot" is wonderful!), DA Powell, Mark Bibbins, Paisley Rekdahl, and others. Thanks again to C Dale for giving these poems a home.

I've just heard that my poem "Oniomania" will be appearing on The Writer's Almanac on Christmas Eve, read by Garrison Keillor. I am tickled pink about this, and think it's an interesting choice as the poem is about compulsive/addictive shopping (among other things).


PS: When it snows it pours? Just received the Northwind Anthology, with my poem "Broken Orbits." It collects poems from the Northwind reading series and includes work from Kathryn Hunt, Kelli Agodon, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Holly Hughes, Rebecca Loudon, Joannie Stangeland, Stan Rubin, Judith Kitchen, Mike O'Connor, and others.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We woke up to booms of snow thunder and snow lightening early this morning. I have never seen or heard of this before (apparently it is pretty rare). It was an incredibly loud and long rumble, and really strange to hear amidst the snowfall. At first I thought it was a transformer exploding, or a plane crashing. Thank goodness it was just the pretty white stuff falling.


From Wikipedia:
Thundersnow also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm is a rare thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain. It commonly falls in regions of strong upward motion within the cold sector of extratropical cyclones between autumn and spring when surface temperatures are most likely to be near or below freezing. Variations exist, such as thundersleet, where the precipitation consists of sleet rather than snow.


Hmmmm "Snow Thunder" "Thunder Snow" Perhaps a poem title here?


Monday, December 15, 2008

Our Size 10 Idiot

This story is all over the Internet. But it is just too full of irony and poetic justice not to post.

Man Throws Two Shoes at Bush in Iraq
"This is a farewell kiss, you dog!" shouted the protester in Arabic, later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.
Bush ducked both shoes as they whizzed past his head and landed with a thud against the wall behind him.
"It was a size 10," Bush joked later.

Bush's comment, of course, shows that he has no realization of the culture that he is dealing with. You do not even show the bottoms of your shoes to someone, unless it is to insult them. It is like rubbing the other person's nose in filth, in shit. And throwing your shoes at someone is the ultimate sign of contempt. But of course, Bush just tries to laugh it off. Like the complete insensate limb he is.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Day!
My oh my it is cold, and white and crisp outside.
D & I knew the storm was coming, spent the day putting up our holiday decorations indoors, and cooked a big pot of potato leek soup. We have an artificial tree (very PC) some icicle lights and some tin stars for the doors. I think it all looks lovely, esp with the new snow. I have a funeral to go to today, of a dear patient of mine who died earlier in the week. Not looking forward to driving in the ice, but I really want to be there, or at least make an appearance.


The Snowman

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

--Wallace Stevens


Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

--Robert Frost


I've never thought of it before but, looked at together, these poems are really actually very similar, aren't they? Though Frost and Stevens were very different poets, aesthetically, I think they have arrived at pretty much the same artistic-philosophical-spiritual place in these poems.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Here's a mish-mash of photos from PV.

It's good to be home again, but not good to hear today's weather report: high winds, rain, possibly freezing overnight, and snow. Ah well . . . we'll just have to hold these memories as we are sloshing through.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Only one more day in PV. It is going by so fast!

Went to Le Bistro on the Rio Cuale island for our anniversary dinner. Cocktails, a yummy cream of spinach and scallop soup, Caesar salad, and scampi with linguine. A small jazz trio performing: piano, drums, voice (does the singer make it a trio?). Walking back along the Malecon after dinner, a huge party scene, the procession for the Virgin of Guadalupe had just ended and the streets were packed with revelers, a mix of locals and tourists. Walked by a disco bar with a giant Alice in Wonderland figure, about two stories high, standing in the doorway, very lifelike, with a scary yet inviting look on her face, as if one had entered another dimension ("one pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small") .

My beach reading has been a mix of poetry, prose and magazines. Sharon Dolin's Burn and Dodge (the title comes from the photography terms for adding more or less light to the exposure), Paul Guest's My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge (which is just a hoot for beach reading, several passersby gave the cover title a double-take), and James Hamilton-Paterson's novel Rancid Pansies, the title of which is, of course, an anagram of Princess Diana. It's a wonderful novel, very campy and literate and funny and dark all at once. I have just loved reading it and now want to find everything else he has written (apparently he has several other novels in the series, and also two books of poems!?). The story is about Gerry Samper, a gay Englishman, whose villa in Italy falls off the side of a cliff during an earthquake in the middle of his 50th birthday party. All of the guests escape unharmed because they happened to be outside at the time. Gerry makes an off-hand joke to a rescuing helicopter pilot that the ghost of Princess Diana had warned them all to flee the house seconds before the earthquake, and through many twists and turns of fate his joke becomes local legend, spawning a Diana Cult at the site of his former house. It's all hysterically funny and over the top, with anagrams and satirical jabs at The DaVinci Code and awful silly cuisine ("Mice Krispies") and more. Highly recommended beach reading!!


We are off to Old Town and perhaps a tour of homes in Gringo Gulch. Dinner perhaps somewhere in the Olas Altas area. Then home tomorrow. Alas. The only trouble with going on vacation is having to come back from vacation.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Having a great time in PV. I haven't worn socks in almost a week. Always a sign of a good vacation. This town has really changed since we were here last, nearly 20 years ago. A lot of new building everywhere: hotels, high rise condos, houses up and down the hillsides, etc. The narrow cobblestone streets are jam-packed with cars. The place we are staying is just north of town, and thankfully quiet, with a nice sandy beach. We've been pretty lazy, lounging on beach chairs or in the canopy bed, reading, and watching the ocean. Yesterday we went south of town and up into the jungle to see the new botanical gardens (just opened in 2004, and still under construction, so to speak). What a trip taking the bus back to town, as the driver with his cracked windshield and crucifix affixed to the dashboard careened down the mountainside at breakneck speed. Last night we went to the Zona Romantica and saw a show: Forever Patsy Cline, at the Santa Barbara Theater. It was the story of her and her number one fan, Louise, told in song. Sort of a funky stage presentation, but the singing was just amazing. "Crazy," of course, was the encore. Today may be a spa day? I have no idea what that would entail. But if it has the word Brazilian in it I am going to run screaming like a schoolgirl.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I am looking forward to getting some R-W-R (reading, writing, and relaxing) done here:

See ya when I get back!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New raised beds for our "Victory Garden." We went from 2x6x16 to 2x10x16 tight knot cedar. Had the boards special ordered from Lowe's and brought them home in Dean's truck:

From this:

to this:

Chicken with bacon! Who would have thought?! Isn't it mouth-watering lovely to look at?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I am luvin' this long Thanksgiving Holiday. Had a great time with family Thursday. And now the second of three days off in a row! Dean and I debated going to see "Twilight" last night, but resisted. I think True Blood is more our style. Tonight we might go see "Synecdoche, New York." I got a little more writing done on the Expedition series. One more day of work Monday, and then we are off to PV for a little beach vacation. I can hardly wait.


leisure sickness
selective ignorance

WOTY UPDATES It was the turn of the editors of Webster's New World College Dictionary to announce its candidates for its 2008 Word of the Year last week. The five words on the short list are "leisure sickness", in which some people are more likely to report feeling ill outside work hours; "overshare", to divulge too much personal information; "cyberchondriac", a hypochondriac who gets his medical information from the Internet; "selective ignorance", ignoring any distracting or irrelevant information; and "youthanasia", a word best known from the 2004 Megadeth lyric and the film of 2005, which I've never seen in the wild but which was said by Armand Limnander in the New York Times in April 2007 to refer to the "controversial practice of performing a battery of age-defying medical procedures to end lifeless skin and wrinkles; advocated by some as a last-resort measure to put the chronically youth-obsessed out of their misery". It's an eclectic and slightly strange bunch of words, but as the Editor in Chief, Michael Agnes, said, "The choice does not reflect an opinion that the term will eventually be found in the dictionary. In short, it's merely one that made us chuckle, think, reflect, or just shake our heads." Add your vote to those of the dictionary's editors and researchers via

(from today's Poetry Foundation)
A Hundred Bolts of Satin
By Kay Ryan

All you
have to lose
is one
and the mind
all the way back.
It seems
to have been
a train.
There seems
to have been
a track.
The things
that you
from the
abandoned cars
cannot sustain
life: a crate of
tractor axles,
for example,
a dozen dozen
clasp knives,
a hundred
bolts of satin—
perhaps you
more than
you imagined.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dean and I joined our friends Ian and David for a lovely dinner at Olivar's last night (I had a yummy roast duck with papardelle), followed by Alonzo Lines & company at the UW World Dance series. It was an interesting show, with nine Buddhist monks joining the company, as acrobatic Kung Fu dancers. All decked out in the orange and saffron colored robes, they did some amazing stuff, though it was a little repetitive at times.


I've been working like a dog lately: too much call and clinic and administrative stuff. Looking forward to a day off today. Maybe I'll get some writing done. Wouldn't that be a change?

My old laptop is dying: it just doesn't hold it's battery power very well, and it is really beat up from being dropped at various coffee shops and airports and hotels. So, I decided to do my part to stimulate the economy and bought a new one. Nothing too extravagant, but with enough bells and whistles to last for 5-10 years.


I found this while googling the other day: An essay about a poem of mine for sale at one of those Term Paper websites. For $70! Can you believe it? I was tempted to buy it just to see what was written, but resisted. It's a bit steep, and I don't really care that much! HAHAHAHA.


And in other news: Teen Kills Himself on Internet.
So sad. So sad.
But aren't we all just killing ourselves on the internet?


And in still further news: This is the first I had heard of this juicy bit-- New England College Poetry-Only MFA Program Suing its Former Director. Honestly. It reads like a soap opera or insider-trading scandal!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've been reading Maureen McLane's debut book of poems, Same Life, published by FSG (no less). At first I wasn't that in to it, but the book has really grown on me. I especially like her balancing of the personal & the political, the elliptical & the narrative, the offhand image with biting social commentary. This poem gave me chills:


We heard of the massacres
far away in the interior
of that country an ocean
and a vast inland lake
away. The game was set
for Sunday, a special
program; children were going
to swimming lessons
and the homeless congregated
as usual over the steaming
grates. Those who wished
read the paper, others switched
on their TV's at 11. Dead birds
were the first sign; drowned
cows the second; children banging
their heads against walls
the next and no one
could stop them. In this country
those who could took care
of their pets. The year before
they'd concluded the study
so when the great ash fell
and dusted everyone who looked
unknowing to the sky
it fell on the heaps
of plastic rubbish we had learned
it wasn't safe to burn.

Maureen N. McLane from Same Life (FSG 2008)


In the book, there is a page break just before the line "so when the great ash fell" which I think adds to this image's surprise and apocalyptic menace.

Check it out: it's her first full-length collection. Though it appears (from her bio) that she has been writing criticism and essays on poetry for years.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In case you missed it, Kathleen Flenniken was reading on NPR KUOW yesterday: three of her Hanford poems, from her manuscript-in-progress Atomic City.


Saw this on Emily's blog:
No Gays for a Day planned. Patterned after the 2006 Great American Boycott organized by Latino immigrants, on that Friday, gays should stay home from work, school and do no shopping, to prove how crucial they are to American society.

It's an interesting idea for a protest. It might be very hard to get a perm or health care or high school PE class that day, if we all called in sick.


Got this from Christopher's blog. A great essay by Jeanette Winterson about TS Eliot:

When Eliot says, in Four Quartets,"We had the experience but missed the meaning", he is closing in on the problem of modern life - too fast, too surface, void of the emotional understanding that balances our dependence on practical reality and rational thought. We need our emotions as a navigation towards meaning, and that is what poetry allows.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

From today's NY Times Book Review:

Like many writers, I keep a few books on a shelf to unclog my brain for those times when the right combination of words refuses to muster for service (currently in rotation are “Blood Meridian,” “Beneath the Underdog,” “Mumbo Jumbo” and “1001 Afternoons in Chicago”). To that pantheon I add “Alphabet Juice” for its erudition, its grand fun and its contrary view on what constitutes good writing.
. . .
The mind-mouth conspiracy to which Blount refers leads him to meditate on the pleasure of saying “polyurethane foam.” The surplus of vowels, the “fluidity” of its meter and “the conjunction of that ‘y’ pronounced like a long ‘e’ and that ‘ur’ like ‘yoor’ ” get primary credit for bliss. Feeling “ ‘polyurethane foam’ . . . running around in my mind’s ear and mouth is like watching otters play in the water,” he says. The scientist in him holds and measures words; the poet tickles them and begs to be tickled back. At one moment he has you beholding the most exquisitely balanced word in English (“level”), and at an­other he’s schooling you in the frequency with which “t” evokes disapproval, as in “tut-tut,” “too-too,” “tittle-tattle,” “tacky tacky tacky,” “fat,” “rat,” “catty,” “tatty,” “twit” and “all hat and no cattle.”

I have to get my hands on this book ASAP. It sounds *fabulous*!

Friday, November 14, 2008

High Water Mark

We've had more rain in the first 12 days of November than in all of September and October combined. The hillsides are saturated. The rivers are running dark and high and fast. Be careful my dearies. Be very careful out there.


I want to go to Barak Obama's inauguration. And I want Natasha Tretheway to read a poem.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Back from Nashville. What a conference! A lot of sessions to attend. Electronic medical records are really coming of age, and I come away much more optimistic about our organization and the upgrades we are facing. Great fun over dinner and drinks with colleagues. The Gaylord Opryland is like a huge snowglobe or terrarium. Completely enclosed by glass ceilings, it seemed to have its own weather.

A group of us had a terrific jaunt to Broadway one night, to have dinner and check out the live bands play at the clubs downtown, the night before the CMA's. We stayed to listen to a set by Broadband, an all-women group, sort of like the Dixie Chicks, but without the glamour: more rough-edged and real.

To top things off (in a way) NextGen had Huey Lewis and KC & the Sunshine band give a concert at the hotel ballroom the last night (Hmmm . . .so this is where all that money we pay for our EMR is going?). A lot of the people who lived (and partied) through the 70's and 80's were having a gas, dancing around and reliving (relieving) their heyday in a big way. But it was not quite my cup of tea. Ah well.


Reading around online this afternoon I found a link to this interesting Camile Paglia essay from Arion, about the writing of her anthology of close readings, Break, Blow, Burn, and the poets/poems that did not quite make the final cut--and the ones who/that were not even close. It's a fascinating read:

. . . I was puzzled and repelled by the stratospheric elevation in the critical canon given to John Ashbery in recent decades. “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” (1974), Ashbery’s most famous poem, is a florid exercise in strained significance that could and should have been compressed and radically reduced by two-thirds. Can there be any wonder that poetry has lost the cultural status it once enjoyed in the United States when an ingrown, overwrought, and pseudo-philosophical style such as Ashbery’s is so universally praised and promoted?

Given my distaste for Ashbery’s affectations, it would come as no surprise how much I detest the precious grandiloquence of marquee poets like Jorie Graham, who mirrors back to elite academics their own pedantic preoccupations and inflated sense of self. That Graham, with her fey locutions and tedious self-interrogations, is considered a “difficult” or intellectual poet is simply preposterous. Anointing by the Ivy League, of course, may be the kiss of death: Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney, another academic star, enjoys an exaggerated reputation for energetically well-crafted but middling poems that strike me as second- or third-hand Yeats. As for the so-called language poets, with their postmodernist game-playing, they are co-conspirators in the murder and marginalization of poetry in the United States.

She's tough. But I have to admit I agree with most of what she has to say.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I am about to head to Nashville for a medical conference. I've never been there before. Maybe I'll visit some Elvis sites?


Hopefully I can get some of my own writing done in the evenings. I'd love to be able to finish the Expedition series. At least final first drafts for everything.


Got my "unfortunately, your application was not" letter from the NEA yesterday. I am not too bummed. Try again in two years. Does anyone know any of the 42 who *were* chosen? Just curious . . .


Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama-Palin 2012?

Imagine taking our politics to a daring new, more "entertaining" level. Instead of debates . . . let's have a dance-off:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What an election!
Dean and I are both exhausted -- happy, but exhausted. We stayed up late last night watching results, then had to go to work early this morning. It was a busy day in clinic for me, but easier because patients were happy, ecstatic, thrilled. The fact that Obama had won made all of their problems -- the back pain, the depression, the diabetes, the broken leg -- a bit easier to cope with, a bit more hopeful. My favorite visit of the day was a Somali family: the mom all dressed in burka/veil and corralling her three kids into the exam room. The youngest was just 4 mos old and there for a Well Child Check, and the oldest was a 4 yr old boy who gave me a high five and said with a big toothy smile: "Obama!"


I am so bummed out about Prop 8 in California. And the initiatives in AZ and FLA. What is going on with the world. How can people on the one hand be voting in the most dynamic and forward thinking president in a generation, and on the other hand be voting the most backward hateful, discrimination? It boggles the mind. It simply boggles the mind. And makes me feel so sad. And socked in the gut.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Poetry, Language, and Propositions

The sort of truth that is effected in poetry and literature is not reducible to the register of truth that is captured in propositions and syllogisms. Poetry does something different than an argument; but that doesn't mean it isn't "true." Only a kind of propositional imperialism would reduce truth to the mode of assertion. . . . With this in mind, see poem below:


Anything Warm

Anything warm is warm.
Anything red has something to say.
Anything that drifts also smudges,
like secrets. That intense.
Anything loose is a message,
endless, and endlessly enticing.
Anything narrow gets there first.
Especially anger. Anything watery
pleads, though the story stays
buried under its layers, obscuring
whatever it is we've done
to deserve this. In the eternal life
of regret, Sunday looks back.
Monday is certainty,
with a mystery inside out.
Anything two days in a row
sings the same song I do
without repeating the first verse.
Because there is no return.
That seems dramatic, but likely.
Just look at the waves,
all moving in one direction.
It made Noah crazy!
Another day — hell, another
hour — he'd be ready
to wring that dove's neck.
What right did she have
to exhaustion, to twittery musings?
One declarative sentence
would be a relief.

--Wendy Mnookin

from The Moon Makes Its Own Plea
BOA Editions

Thursday, October 30, 2008

From the Huffington Post:

The most cringe-worthy political moment of the day, so far, came when Sen. John McCain called out for his new buddy Joe the Plumber to stand up at a rally in Ohio, only to be greeted with confused silence. Joe the Plumber wasn't there.

But that rally featured another embarrassing moment, one that illustrates a far more troubling dynamic for the Republican ticket. The McCain campaign actually had to bus in school kids from the surrounding area in order to fill the event. As reported by MSNBC:

A local school district official confirmed after the event that of the 6,000 people estimated by the fire marshal to be in attendance this morning, more than 4,000 were bused in from schools in the area. The entire 2,500-student Defiance School District was in attendance, the official said, in addition to at least three other schools from neighboring districts, one of which sent 14 buses.
This happened -- as if a reminder were needed -- less than a week out from the election, when the heat of the campaign should be drawing record crowds.

Sounds like getting people to attend a McCain rally is like getting people to attend a poetry reading. HAHAHAHA.

Dear Red States:

Got this from my friend Amy (I know, so close to the election, I should be thinking about what unites us, not what divides us, but I couldn't resist):

Dear Red States:
If you manage to steal this election too, we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood.
We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.
We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.
We get 85% of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.
We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.
Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.
Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.
With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation's fresh fruit, 95% of America's quality wines, 90% of all cheese, 90% of the high tech industry, 95% of the corn and soybeans (thanks Iowa!), most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92% of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.
We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Peace out,
Blue States

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hmmm . . . this is a little confusing:

verb tr.:
1. To spread false and malicious charges against someone.
2. To sprinkle with holy water.
From Latin aspergere (to sprinkle), from ad- (toward) + spargere (to strew).


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Here's the link to the NPR/KUOW show with my reading of "October Journal." It starts about one minute in. I really enjoyed hearing Megan Sukys and Elizabeth Austen's conversation about the poem. It's fascinating to hear what people will find, or be moved by, or latch on to, especially in a long poem such as this one. Check it out!

Several friends heard the show (I didn't as I was seeing patients at the time), and told me that on one of the promo spots the announcer mistakenly said I would be reading a poem about the changing of the seasons and "life with my wife." HAHAHAHA! Oooops!

Dean said KUOW called later to apologize for the error. We both just laughed it off.


In other news: Dean foiled three robbers who had broken in to our neighbor's house yesterday. He saw them break a window in her back porch door, and he called 911, then stayed on the line while waiting for the cops to arrive, watching their activities through our blinds. The cops caught them all red-handed as they tried to run away through the park across the street, laden with back packs and a suticase full of her stuff.

Apparently an adult in a large SUV was waiting for them on the opposite side of the park, to help them make a get away. It's been a major problem in our neighborhood for the past few months. Kids that look like high school kids with back packs will wander around and knock on doors of houses, and if no one answers will break in, mostly looking for electronic equipment (cameras, laptops, ipods etc). The police have been trying to catch them for weeks, but always seem to get there too late. Now they got 'em! Yay Dean! (He should be on an episode of cops, non?)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I've been on call again this weekend. Two babies yesterday, and six babies today. Busy! Fortunately all of them are doing pretty well. Nothing more serious than a little jaundice, a little ABO incompatibility, a little r/o sepsis.


It is just gorgeous out! It's been that way all weekend. I just love it. Clear and sunny and blue, the maple trees and witch hazels and red buds around town are just glorious: incredible shades of red, gold, ochre, bronze, topaz, magenta.

Across the street in the park this afternoon there was a Halloween Party for all the neighborhood kids. It's kind of odd to see kids and parental units all dressed up in scary costumes in the middle of the day, in eye-squinting bright daylight, playing Halloween games in a pea-patch (rather than in a cemetery or a haunted house). But I think I like it.


A poem of mine, "October Journal" will be featured tomorrow on KUOW. It seems very apropos for the season, eh? I'll send a link to the audio later.


I've been reading Stephanie Hemphill's Your Own, Sylvia: a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath. It's a biography of Plath told in poems that dramatize the key events in her life, or are in the voice of different people in her life. It's a great read; riveting, in fact. A pot boiler full of gossipy bits. With considerable prose footnotes at the bottom of each poem, documenting the event or person(s) being referred to. Sometimes the footnotes were more interesting than the poems, unfortunately, and I found myself skimming the poems to get to the footnotes; but all in all I think the format works very well. A biography told in poems. Who would have thought!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is too funny, and clever!

But not completely true, because I've already voted!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Talk about "taking risks" in your poetry:

Jordan arrests poet accused of insulting Islam
AP foreign, Tuesday October 21 2008 By SHAFIKA MATTAR

Associated Press Writer= AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Jordanian police arrested a local writer Tuesday for incorporating verses of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, into his love poetry, a judicial official said.

The poet, Islam Samhan, published his collection of poems, "Grace like a Shadow," without the approval of the Jordanian government, and authorities say it insults the holy book, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Samhan was charged with harming the Islamic faith and violating the press and publication law for combining the sacred words of the Quran with sexual themes.

If convicted, the poet could face up to three years in jail.

Jordanian law bans the publication of any books or articles that could be seen as harmful to Islam and its Prophet Muhammad.

More than two years ago, the court convicted the editors of two weekly newspapers of insulting Islam and sentenced them to two months in prison after they reprinted Danish newspaper caricatures of Muhammad.

Jordanian writers and artists urged the government in a collective petition to immediately release the poet, saying the arrest is a "retreat in the freedom of expression," and called for an end to the "oppression of freedom and intimidation practiced against intellectuals."

I don't have anything against Islam. But I do have everything against religious fundamentalism of any kind.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But really the right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America.
-- from the Colin Powell interview, via Reggie's blog.


obambulate (o-BAM-byuh-layt) verb tr.

To walk about.

[From Latin ob- (towards, against) + ambulare (to walk). Ultimately from the
Indo-European root ambhi- (around) that is also the source of ambulance, alley,
preamble, and bivouac. The first print citation of the word is from 1614.]

Use this word in a sentence: Obama's gonna obambulate all over McCain in this election.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Color

Had a very domestic day today. Dean and I spent the morning at the Seattle Home Show (also known as the HoMo show). We got some good leads for getting solar panels, stone steps for the front stairway, a tile installer for the basement bathroom. So many projects we could do.

Came home and worked a bit in the yard. And then canned a batch of pears: eight large jars. We have never canned pears before, and hope we did it right: boiled and sterilized everything for the prescribed time, then cooked the pears for five minutes in the sugar water before hot processing them 20 minutes in the boiling water bath. We don't want any botulism here. So far they look pretty good (see pic below).

The fall colors have been amazing this year, don't you think? Pictures just don't do it justice.

PS: Best wishes to my niece Jaclyn and her new husband Steve. The wedding yesterday was beautiful. And the reception was a gas!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Dean and I went with friends to see MOMIX at the UW World Dance Series last night. Wow. What an amazing show. The best in years, I think. About 10 or 12 short pieces. Each one amazing. From the woman with the floor length beaded head dress that rose up in the air as she spun, to the men dancing with poles, the women bouncing on exercise balls, the very Pilabolus-like strength and balance pieces, the beautiful glowing black-light arms like birds, the couple rolling about inside a Cirque du Soleil-type pair of cages, the couple in skis (yes, snow skis!) and silver body suits leaning and flowing and posing. My favorite was the next to last piece, with a woman sitting in a turning metal bowl, with three pole-spokes coming out of it that three pairs of dancers would turn and lift and spin upon, as harem music played. It was awesome! The encore piece done with a silhouette against a screen was a little too long, and almost took the thrill off the whole evening. All was forgiven though, when each dancer came out for a bow and a quick ditty, and a long standing O. Highly Recommended!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

God Hates Fangs

Has anybody else been getting all hooked on the new Alan Ball HBO series "True Blood?" Dean and I having been watching it the past few weeks, and I think it is pretty incredible. A mix of Southern Gothic social drama/romance and hip urban vampire mystery/thriller. Starring Anna Paquin (who played the little girl in the movie "The Piano," now all grownup) as the telepathic-waitress and love interest of the local hunky vampire, played by Steven Moyer; and Ryan Kwanten as her horny sexpot dumb-as-a-post brother, Jason. It's hot hot hot. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yay Leanne!

This season of Project Runway had its own drama at times, with Kenly the designer we loved to hate. But, overall, this vintage was not as exciting as previous years. In the end, I was wanting Korto to win. I thought her collection was the best. What colors! What fits! A truly cohesive collection, with African inspired profiles. Leanne's was my second favorite. I think she overdid the petal/wave thing. It was well-executed, but got to be a little boring. And Kenly: I am so glad she got auf'ed. She is so over-confident, and such a b*tch. And her collection was erratic and derivative.


Meanwhile, in other news, there was another presidential debate, wasn't there. Did you listen in? I did. And Obama won (again). McCain is becoming somewhat of a one-trick pony, a one note opera, a one rhyme limerick. An ugly angry old man. Obama is the future.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Interesting stuff from today's A Word A Day. If you don't subscribe, you really should!

with Anu Garg



noun: A piece of writing that uses only one of the vowels.
adjective: Using only one vowel.

From Latin uni- (one) + vocalic (relating to vowels), from vox (voice).

Here's an example of univocalic that makes use of only the vowel e: Seventh September. The longest one word univocalic is strengthlessness. Also see lipogram.

CONTEST: Imagine you are a headline writer for a newspaper back in the days when metal type was used. You have run out of all but one of the vowels in the large type size that is used for the headline. What univocalic can you come up with? Email your univocalic news headlines (real or made-up) to (words at Selected entries will be featured in the weekly compilation AWADmail and the best entry will win an autographed copy of my latest book DORD. Deadline is Friday Oct 17.

"Most notably, [Christian Bök's] 2001 Eunoia, seven years in the making, became Canada's bestselling poetry book ever -- an incredible feat for such explicitly experimental writing. No comforting fluff here; in the main portion, each chapter employs but a single vowel (e.g., "Enfettered, these sentences repress free speech"), a univocalic constraint."
Ed Park; Crystal Method; Village Voice (New York); Dec 16, 2003.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I found this in my abandoned poems file. A found poem made from things said by Bush and his spokespeople about the war in Iraq. I think I like it. I think I'll keep it.

Shock and Awe 2003-2007

America is a friend to the people of Iraq.
Children will sing great songs about us.
Liberating Iraq will be a cakewalk.
Five days, five months.
Something under $50 billion for the cost.
This will be a short war.
We will be greeted as liberators.
It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.
We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.
We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.
There are some who feel like they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on!
Quagmire? I don't do quagmires.
I am absolutely confident that we made the right decision.
Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere!
Iraqi forces are taking control of more and more territory.
We've reached another great turning point.
It would be really erroneous to say civil war.
A turning point will come two weeks from today.
Two days ahead of schedule, the world witnessed the arrival of a free and sovereign Iraq.
Tomorrow the world will witness a turning point in the history of Iraq.
On January 30th in Iraq, the world witnessed a major turning point.
You got to keep repeating things over and over and over to kind of catapult the propaganda.
They're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
As you know, you go to war with the Army you have.
2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq . . . and the history of freedom.
Iraq is sovereign. Let Freedom reign!
The insurgency is in its final throes.
This is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens.
We have now reached a turning point in the struggle between freedom and terror.
I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work.
Progress has been steady.
I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them.
Stay the course.
The coalition is making good progress.
We never had enough troops on the ground.
What we need is a surge.
I have authorized an increase in troop levels.
I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.
I made some tough decisions.
If we had to do it over again we would do exactly the same thing.
Had we to do it over again, we would look at the consequences of catastrophic success.
We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace.
To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done.
And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

On call this week, Friday 5PM to Friday 5PM. And to start things off, I discovered last night my beeper is dead. It has beeped its last beep, so to speak. I won't be able to get a new one until Monday or later. Thank goodness for cell phones, I guess. Off to do hospital rounds, and then go to clinic to see walk-ins. Cheers.


Palin is not only clueless. She is also guilty.

What next? McCain could dump Palin and pick a new running mate, but then Obama's steady attack that McCain is erratic would resonate strongly with independents and Democrats. Furthermore, who would he pick? The base wouldn't tolerate Lieberman on abortion. They would love Mike Huckabee, but McCain thinks he is loony. Mitt Romney might be a plausible pick given the emphasis on economics, but having a ticket consisting of a guy worth $100 million and a guy worth $200 million when people are losing their houses wouldn't look good. Giuliani can say "9/11" more times per minute than anyone in recorded history but that's not what McCain needs right now. Picking another unknown who hasn't been vetted is not appealing. So he's probably stuck with Palin and has to hope this subsides quickly.


Great news about a couple of poems taken the other day. Still working on & off on the long "Expedition" series. There just isn't enough time in the day.


Listen to C Dale read "Sotto Voce" on Poetry Foundation's audio site today.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Secret terrorist message? Or right wing kook hallucination?
Fisher Price's Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Cuddle and Coo doll is supposed to utter only one actual word: Mama. The rest of the sounds emanating from the speakers inside the doll are just cooing and giggling sounds. Or are they? Some say they hear the words "Islam is the Light" among the baby babble are demanding the toy be removed from the shelves. Oh gawd.
Variation on an old koan:
There are three kinds of poets: those that count feet, and those that don't.


It's cold and windy and stormy in the Northwest. I want this upcoming presidential election to be over. I want to hunker down and go to bed early, then get up in the middle of the night to write bits of poems, and return to bed just as it is beginning to get light again. I want to make pork roast and beef roast and winter squash and pumpkin ravioli. I want to go to the bookstore and find a book of poems that terrifies me or changes me or makes me want to write something like I have never written before.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Please read this very well-written and moving article from Dan Savage, about the recent death of his mother from Pulmonary Fibrosis, and the issue of Death with Dignity, and the upcoming Initiative-1000.

"In Defense of Dignity: I Hate to Play the I-Just-Watched-My-Mother-Die Card—But, Um, I Just Watched My Mother Die"

. . . I know what my mother would say: The same church leaders who can't manage to keep priests from raping children aren't entitled to micromanage the final moments of our lives.

If religious people believe assisted suicide is wrong, they have a right to say so. Same for gay marriage and abortion. They oppose them for religious reasons, but it's somehow not enough for them to deny those things to themselves. They have to rush into your intimate life and deny them to you, too—deny you control over your own reproductive organs, deny you the spouse of your choosing, condemn you to pain (or the terror of it) at the end of your life.

The proper response to religious opposition to choice or love or death can be reduced to a series of bumper stickers: Don't approve of abortion? Don't have one. Don't approve of gay marriage? Don't have one. Don't approve of physician-assisted suicide? For Christ's sake, don't have one. But don't tell me I can't have one—each one—because it offends your God.

Fuck your God . . .
LitFuse: A Poets’ Workshop
Sat. & Sun., November 1-2, 2008
Lorna Dee Cervantes workshop on Friday, Oct. 31st.
Free talk Halloween night on Harvesting Our Poems During the Days of the Dead
Clock hours for teachers * Saturday Banquet * Book signings * Yoga
Hands-on Letterpress Demonstration, Saturday & Sunday.


watch our video:

X-tra bonus: You can see neither Russia nor Palin from Tieton! But you can see American Book Award winner Lorna Dee Cervantes, Washington State Book Award Winner Sam Green, KUOW’s Elizabeth Austen, Firesign Theatre’s David Ossman, Mark Halperin, Felicia Gonzales, Jim Bodeen, Carol Trenga, Amy Rabas, Raul Sanchez, & the blue, blue sky.

We hope to see you!
Warm regards for a peaceful, beauty-drenched Autumn,
Michael Schein
LitFuse: A Poets’ Workshop
a Tieton Arts & Humanities production

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Seeing things the way they really are

I prefer to look at this electoral vote map, drawn in proportion to the number of votes (not the size of the state). Things are really much bluer (much truer) this way, aren't they? (Note how Hawaii is actually bigger than Alaska).

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I've been reading Kevin McFadden's Hardscrabble. It's a pretty fun book. This guy is ten times more obsessive with anagrams than I am. But some of my favorite poems in the book are the ones based on typos found in old Bibles, for instance, the 1801 edition known as the Murderers Bible where Jude 16 reads "These are murderers" instead of "murmurers."


I hope this map holds true:
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I feel sorry for this kid:
Boy, 3, faces lifelong Bart Simpson scar after suffering reaction to henna tattoo

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Biden-Palin debate

After so much build-up, it was inevitable: the Vice Presidential debate was a bore. There was nothing really enlightening or surprising that occurred. I did not learn anything new. Biden looked much older than I remembered. And Palin seemed even more slimy and bimbo-ish than I remembered. If she smiled saucily and *winked* into the camera one more time, I thought I would puke!

The worst part of the debate: when BOTH candidates said they did not believe in gay marriage. Talk about a sock in the gut. To have one's own life invalidated by both major parties. Eeeeesh. Thank god I am not a "single-issue" voter!

Still: I believe Biden is BY FAR the better VP candidate. And Obama is gonna win the election.


Twinkle Dwivedi has a rare condition where she bleeds spontaneously from any part of her body.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

RIP Hayden Carruth

This is one of my favorite poems of his:


Tap barometer, burn trash,
put out seed for birds, tap
barometer, go to market
for doughnuts and Dutch
Masters, feed cat, write
President, tap barometer,
take baby aspirin, write
congressmen, nap, watch
Bills vs. Patriots, tap
barometer, go to post
office and ask Diane if
it's cold enough for her,
go to diner and say "hi,
babe" to Mazie, go to
barber shop and read
Sports Illustrated, go
home, take a load off,
tap barometer, go to
liquor store for jug
(Gallo chablis), go
home, pee, etc., sweep
cellar stairs (be careful!),
write letter to editor,
count dimes, count quarters,
tap the fucking barometer . . .

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It is just gorgeous outside today. Warm and sunny and blue, but also autumnal, very fall, with a little bit of a cool breeze on the edges. I spent most of the morning in the garden, picking the last of our romas, and just finished making two huge vats of sauce (whilst listening to Morrisey, Pet Shop Boys, and Madonna on the CD player). They'll simmer for the rest of the day, and tonight I'll put up ten or twenty containers of sauce for the freezer (which we will eat all through the fall, winter and next spring). But for dinner tonight: I think maybe a seafood pasta (scallops, mussels, prawns) with spoonfuls a steaming fresh roma tomato sauce ladled over. Oh yeah.

Here is how I make tomato sauce:

-Lots of ripe tomatoes (romas are best for sauce, but really any kind of tomato will do, just make sure they are ripe). I make batches using 3-6 gallons of whole tomatoes to start.
-Wash them and let air dry
-Destem and place whole or cut-in-half in Cuisinart
-Pulse chop until tomatoes are the consistency of a chunky soup
-Transfer to a food mill and process to remove seeds and skins and set resulting tomato pulp aside

-In a large pot saute onion in olive oil
-When onion is translucent, add garlic and saute a minute
-Add some red wine and saute a few minutes more
-Add milled tomato liquid (see above) and stir
-Cook on medium to medium-high--you want a slow rolling boil
-Stir frequently
-When sauce has reduced about a third, add spices: pepper, basil, oregano, salt, chili pepper flakes, whatever you like in your sauce (but don't overdo it: this a basic sauce, and you can always add more to it later)
-If sauce is too acid or tart, add some sugar and stir
-Turn down heat a little and continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce is desired consistency
-When sauce is done, remove from heat and cover
-Allow to cool before transferring to containers for the freezer (this sauce is terrific fresh, and will still be terrific even after a year in the freezer)

An interesting review/article of The Consequence of Innovation: 21st Century Poetics, Craig Dworkin, ed.(Roof Books, 2008)from the Brooklyn Rail here:

The problem with poetry these days isn’t the literary magazines run by pharmaceutical industry businessmen, or the grants granted by pharmaceutical industry heiresses, or even the grant-granting bodies composed of pharmo-conservo-politicos (and heiresses). And it’s not all the writing about writing, either, or even the writing about the writing about the writing (which, okay, can get annoying). It’s the poetry about the writing about the writing about the writing.
. . .
Perhaps theory should listen to poetry, give up the ideal of the subjectless text, stop denouncing the space between subject and object as simply false, and begin to see it as a devious and sophisticated and thoroughly artificial structure, where something new and alien might come to life.

I couldn't agree more. I am so sick of theory and "poetics." Let's get back to the poems. The poems you read/write because your life depends on them.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Looks like the debate opened with the customary arm-wrestle to see who would go first, and Obama won.

I watched most of it last night live on TV, and then on replays after. I think Obama did a great job on the economy questions, and totally held his own on foreign policy. He was calm and presidential (whatever that is: I think it has something to do with the cut of your suit and the color and knot of your tie?) and showed just how smart and on top of a wide range of topics he is. I like how he is emphasizing the difference between him and McCain. McCain for his part mangled the names of several foreign leaders, and generally looked like a crotchety old man, stuck in the past, with a chip on his shoulder about us losing in Vietnam, trying to make up for it with bravado in Iraq, and selling us more of the same, more of the same. Don't buy it. Don't go with John McSame.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Finalist Bridesmaid & Suicidal Genius

Had a great time at the Frye reading last night. Dean and I met up with Rebecca and Lesley and a few others at the Sorrento first, for drinks and a snack and a pretty intense discussion about the current state of politics (that idiot Palin, McCain's debate shenannigans, Obama needing to fight back more).

Lesley and I also toasted that we were both recently named finalists! for the Washington State Book Award . Me for What's Written on the Body, and her for Jezebel (alas, always a bridesmaid . . .).

I think my poems written in response to Willie Coles' artwork went over pretty well, especially "High Heeled Shoes" and the Pledge of Allegiance anagrams ("The Pile of Glad Elegance: (A)versions of the pledge"). Lesley's story about the Gabriel Von Max High Romantic painting of a woman nailed a cross was riveting. OMG -- the details about crucifixion, told in first person, especially the "balding" that was done first (the ripping of the hair from the scalp), were horrifying. A far cry from the serene scene of the idealized painting. I will not be able to look at this kind of art the same way again.


Check out this fascinating article on the Poetry Foundation website. I want to get the book (re-released after 30+ years). His poem quoted here, in the voice of the ancient Egyptian girl about to be mummified, was amazing.
"The Rebirth of a Suicidal Genius"
Thomas James, a Roethke Prizewinning devotee of Sylvia Plath, died obscure in 1974. Now Graywolf republishes his lost, legendary Letters to a Stranger, and Lucie Brock-Broido explains her 30-year search for his poetry.
by Lucie Brock-Broido


Top ten cereals:
1. Life
2. Total
3. Cheerios
4. Kashi
5. Fiber One
6. Special K
7. Lucky Charms
8. Kix
9. Smart Start
10. Wheaties

What do you eat?
For me it's Life, Special K, sometimes Cheerios, and sometimes something sweet like Honey Bunches of Oats or Sugar Smacks. (Dean just calls the last one my "Smack.")


Thursday, September 25, 2008


Salvia divinorum
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Salvia divinorum, also known as Diviner’s Sage, ska María Pastora, Sage of the Seers, or simply by the genus name, Salvia, is a psychoactive herb which can induce strong dissociative effects. It is a member of the sage genus and the Lamiaceae (mint) family. The Latin name Salvia divinorum literally translates to “sage of the seers”.

Salvia divinorum has a long and continuing tradition of use as an entheogen by indigenous Mazatec shamans, who use it to facilitate visionary states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions. The plant is found in isolated, shaded, and moist plots in Oaxaca, Mexico. It grows to well over a meter in height. It has hollow square stems, large green leaves, and occasional white and purple flowers. It is thought to be a cultigen.

Its primary psychoactive constituent is a diterpenoid known as salvinorin A, which is a potent κ-opioid receptor agonist. Salvinorin A is unique in that it is the only naturally occurring substance known to induce a visionary state this way. Salvia divinorum can be chewed, smoked, or taken as a tincture to produce experiences ranging from uncontrollable laughter to much more intense and profoundly altered states. The duration of effects is much shorter than that of other, more well-known psychedelics; the effects of smoked salvia typically last for only a few minutes. The most commonly reported after-effects include an increased feeling of insight, an improved mood, a sense of calmness, and an increased sense of connection with nature—though, much less often, it may also cause dysphoria (unpleasant or uncomfortable mood).[9] Salvia divinorum is not generally understood to be toxic or addictive. As a κ-opioid agonist, it may have potential as an analgesic and as a therapeutic tool for treating drug addictions.

Salvia divinorum has become both increasingly well-known and available in modern culture. The rise of the Internet since the 1990s has allowed for the growth of many businesses selling live salvia plants, dried leaves, extracts, and other preparations. Medical experts as well as accident and emergency rooms have not been reporting cases that suggest particular salvia-related health concerns, and police have not been reporting it as a significant issue with regard to public order offences. Despite this, Salvia divinorum has attracted heightened negative attention lately from the media and some lawmakers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Well, I didn't get my call from the MacArthur's yesterday. I am so bummed (haha). Here is the list of those that did, and it includes a neato guitar-playing hippie geomorphologist from Seattle.

What would you do with an extra $100k a year, for five years, no strings? I think I would cut back or take a sabbatical from work, to write and to travel. Maybe buy a second home someplace sunny, to escape to in the winter (Arizona?, Mexico?).


In other news, I'll be reading with the fabulous Lesley Hazelton this Thursday at the Frye Art Museum, from work we were commissioned to write in response to art there. It should be a gas. Come on down. Free parking!