Saturday, May 31, 2008

I'm on call for this week (Friday 5pm to Friday 5pm). Four babies so far. A fairly quiet clinic this morning (8:30 to 1:30): only about 8 or 10 patients to see, mostly kids with colds, rashes, fevers. A few adults with upper respiratory stuff. A couple postive pregnancy tests. Labs and phone calls to answer. Hopefully it will be a quiet week.


Last night Dean and I went to see the new Sex and the City movie. Though it was really no more than an extended version of the TV show, we both loved it. It was like seeing old friends, and catching up, and remembering why you liked them so much in the first place. The plot is pretty basic: Big and Carrie get together, Big and Carrie break up, Big and Carrie get back together, while all the other friends are in their ups and downs as well (though Charlotte is mostly up this movie), with a few surprising twists and turns along the way. All ends well (though it seems for a minute like it won't!). And there is a brief minute of frontal male (well, from the side) nudity. Oh for shame! I say: go see it!

(PS: Spoiler alert: read the comments of Erinn Bucklan, Meghan O'Rourke, Dana Stevens, and June Thomas discussing their takes on the movie at here.)

(PPS: Oh yes, there are some poems in the movie!).


I received news in the mail today the King County 4Culture has awarded me a $5000 grant to work on a series of poems about "The Expedition of the Vaccine." I am so excited! Maybe I will get out of the writing slump I have been in for a few months. Actually, not maybe, I will *have* to. But seriously, I can hardly wait to get going on them. This is just the kind of kick in the butt that I was needing.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

From today's American Life in Poetry: Column 166. I thought this R. S. Gwynn parody Hopkins' of "Pied Beauty" was a hoot! Very clever. It makes me want to go on a picnic. Or at least get me some fried chicken.

Fried Beauty

Glory be to God for breaded things--
Catfish, steak finger, pork chop, chicken thigh,
Sliced green tomatoes, pots full to the brim
With french fries, fritters, life-float onion rings,
Hushpuppies, okra golden to the eye,
That in all oils, corn or canola, swim

Toward mastication's maw (O molared mouth!);
Whatever browns, is dumped to drain and dry
On paper towels' sleek translucent scrim,
These greasy, battered bounties of the South:
Eat them.


Poem copyright (c) 2005 by R. S. Gwynn, whose most recent book of poetry is "No Word of Farewell: Poems 1970-2000," Story Line Press, 2001. Poem reprinted from "Light: A Quarterly of Light Verse," No. 50, Autumn, 2005, by permission of R. S. Gwynn.

And for reference:

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Know a Poet Who Wants a Broadside?

From Susan Rich:

Broadside Press has an ongoing call for poets to submit work - formerly published is fine. When the poem is accepted, they send it out to a list of visual artists they work with until someone "nabs it" in order to create a visual image inspired by the poem. Once that is done, they look for "vectors" who volunteer to post the poems all around their town. The broadsides are downloaded in color or black and white from the web site and are archived on the web site as well.

I love the activist component of this project. There is nothing that says you can't be a poet one month and a vector, the next. If my explanation is a bit unclear, just check out the web site to learn more or submit your work."
From Double-Tongued Dictionary:

"catch a falling knife"
In English, Money & Finance, Slang

catch a falling knife v. phr. The question for Mr. Marks and others is when to start buying in earnest. Early buyers risk “catching a falling knife,” in market parlance, if prices keep tumbling. But late buyers risk losing out on the best deals and the best returns. “We think we have to catch a falling knife,” Mr. Marks said. —“Finding Potential for Debt in Distress” by Norm Alster New York Times May 25, 2008.


Funny: I have heard it as "never reach for a falling knife," and understood it more as sage kitchen advice. I did not know the investment side of this saying.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I was googling to see how long it takes for robin's eggs to hatch. Answer: about 14 days. And then another 14 days or so to grow their feathers and fly away. I found this amazing site, where a woman posted daily photos of a robin's nest with three eggs outside her window, and took notes as they hatched, and were fed, and grew feathers, and flew off. Very cool pics: check it out here.


PS: I don't know why this robin's nest outside our living room window has me so excited. It's kinda childlike. But I check it out several times a day. And I keep a keen eye out for those god-damn crows.

PPS: I promise I won't write a poem about it. There are already enough bird nest poems in the world.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

It's been a great Memorial Day Weekend (so far). Sunny and hot and clear. Dean and I were able to grill salmon and veggies and eat outside last night. Then go for a walk in the neighborhood coatless. This may not sound like much to those of you who live in warmer climes. But it was heaven for this Seattleite. Even it it does rain today (already has, in fact).

The only fly in the ointment: the Copper River salmon, which was delish, btw, was up to $36 a pound at Mutual Fish. Yikes!


A pic from Palm Springs I forgot to post: Dean and Paul and Brandt sniffing a Jeffery Pine, up in the mountains on the top of the tram ride. The bark is supposed to smell like vanilla or something.

And Dean and I somewhere later by another tree.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A pair of robins has built a nest in the honeysuckle trellis outside our living room window. There are now five lovely blue eggs sitting in it (this pic is from Google, I have not yet been able to get a good pic of ours). It is so fun to peak through the shade, and watch the female sitting on them each day, or if she is gone, to gaze at the blue eggs. There is nothing else in the world the exact color of robin eggs.

Dean is warning me not to get too attached. A similar thing happened two or three years ago. And it ended badly. One afternoon we heard the robin pair screeching loudly, and there was a crow on the nest, munching the eggs. It was very traumatic.

I worry for the robin and her little brood. But there is really nothing I can do to protect them. (I thought of putting a cardboard shield over the nest to keep the crows away, but that would be ridiculous.) Dean says maybe I'd feel better if I "wrote a poem about it." It makes me want to pinch him. ~grin~

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

From Jilly:
A Dickinson College professor denied tenure for "Advancing Flarf?"
Is this for real? Read more about it at Elsewhere.


Reginald Shepherd is back, after a pretty intense bout of peritonitis. Stop by and wish him well.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I went to poetry group last night, so missed the finale of Idol and DWTS (yay Kristi!). Thank God Collin has this spot-on review of Idol, or would feel totally out of it. I hope David wins!


Re: poetry group. Good poems all around as usual. My favorite title: Ted's "French or Faux."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Had a GREAT TIME at the Skagit River Poetry Fest. The weather was terrific: hot, sunny, blue. Thanks to Sam Green and Molly McNulty and all the volunteers and staff: you really put together a wonderful weekend.
Some highlights (for me):
- Driving up with KF and having cocktails and calamari out on the deck overlooking the Swinomish Channel, right after check in.
-The lovely guesthouse off Snee-Oosh on Fidalgo Island (Thank you to L and M Pepper!).
-Jane Hirshfield's opening night reading.
-Dinner at Nell Thorn with Kathleen Flenniken and Elizabeth Austin and Robert Wrigley; RW is a hoot ("remember" the W is silent . . . hehehe).
-Doing the sensory-lyric exercise with 8th graders at the Middle School.
-Participating in the Poetry and Science panel with Pattiann Rogers.
-Moderating the Poetry as Healing & Poetry as Medicine panels with Bryan Patrick Miller, Gloria Burgess, and Tom Crawford. The audience seemed totally with us for each session, and asked great questions, and responded so deeply. Wow.
-Dinner at Kerstin's with a large group of poets and friends.
-Poetry and "Private Feelings" (whoa-whoa-whoa feeeelings . . . . hehehehe) with Michael Spence and Gloria B. (this panel stirred some controversy!)
-Reading with David Wagoner and David Mason for Narrative Poetry.
-Tony Curtis' hysterically funny Irish Em-Ceeing job for the featured readings: that guy is a leprecaun and totally off-the-hook!
-All the folks at Second Chapter Books: you rock! Thank you for having all our books available and displayed so nicely for the entire festival.

-Paul Horiuchi's art at MONA. It was an incredibly moving retrospective of his life's work, with this amazing final collage: a four panel folding screen, with his trademark blocks of colored paper and calligraphy arrayed, plus two small photographs (the first time he ever used phtos in his work): one of a open doorway, one of a coat and a hat left hanging on a coatrack. His good-bye.


Good to be home. Dean and I went to the plant sale at Bradner and got a few heirloom tomatoes and some huchera for the garden. Dinner out with friends tonight. And then back to the working week.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wish I Had a Camera

Dean and I had some pizza and coffee at Mioposto today, and as we were leaving the restaurant we saw a young woman (she was either a mom or a baby-sitter/nanny). She had one baby strapped to her front, she was holding the hand of a toddler with her left hand, she was holding a dog by a leash with her right hand, and she was pushing a stroller (carrying another baby!) with same right hand. All the while she was holding a cell phone between her right shoulder and ear, and talking, oblivious to anybody around her, or the children or pets in her charge -- and jaywalking across the street in traffic!! Seemingly unaware of the traffic she was holding up.

We could not believe it. I wished I had had a camera.

I guess the only thing that was missing was she could have been smoking a cigarette, too. And eating a chalupa.
Obama or Clinton, David A. or David C., paper or plastic, global warming or nuclear winter, poetry or prose, boxers or briefs, difficulty or clarity, walk or drive, solitude or community: there are just too many decisions!


I would love to visit here:

At The Homestead, where Dickinson spent nearly her entire life, you can walk the same flagstone path she followed across the east lawn, stand under the massive white oak tree that dates from her time, then pass peony and lilac bushes she may have passed.

This quiet retreat, which both sheltered and stimulated Dickinson, is only a four-hour drive from the Lehigh Valley. It opens the door to the world of a poet whose relationship to her garden is only now being deeply plumbed.


See you at Skagit! I have been asked to visit an 8th grade classroom. I think I'll say a few words about doctoring and poeting (is that a word?), and then do a brief exercise, like the sensory poem, or something like that. I have no idea how this will turn out, but I'll try to make it fun. Or at least not lame.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chase Twitchell on Poetry Foundation: Who is gonna read this stuff? A great interview about writing what's important. And a reading of the poems "Vestibule" and "Snowglobe of Vesuvius."

This is truly scary . . .

Hi all,
For some quick fun, check out this Bush-McCain Challenge -- an online quiz to see if you can tell the difference between George (“Dubya”) Bush and John McCain, then be sure to watch the video!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there. Our family is gathering at Mount St. Vincent later today to have a big brunch with our ma. Hope you have something special planned for you and/or yours.

Here's a poem I saw when I was going through the Verse Daily archives yesterday. It is just a hoot. It's called "Sestina Aguilera" and it is by Matthew Guenette, from his new book Sudden Anthem. I am not sure exactly what he is doing with the sestina format, and I wonder if some of the lines are computer-generated flarf. But I really enjoyed reading this! (sorry some of the formatting is lost here . . . go to the Verse Daily archives to see it correctly).

Sestina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera has a blue
tongue. That scream you hear when you drop her in
boiling water is actually just steam
escaping her shell. She invented the word
agnostic in 1869 because she was tired
of being called an atheist

by Baudelaire and Mallarmé.
To wit: she is the only platinum singer who, at room
temperature, acts as a liquid. The odds of her being injured
by a crowbar are somewhere around 13%, yet in
coal mines that percentage rises to a whopping 75. The word
Aguilera actually means dreams

with one eye open, while the word itself tastes like cream,
which tastes like beetles, which tastes
like apples, which tastes like worms,
which tastes like sleep deprived. You
cannot fold Christina Aguilera in half more than 7 times, yet in
Iceland it is against the law to keep her as a fire

arm. Ditto Siberia and in a Boeing 747. When her wires
kink and cannot be straightened by a team
of skeptics, this is called dog leg, which she sings beautifully of in
a number of her hit songs, including Dirty, I Got Trouble,
Slow Down Baby, What a Girl Wants, The Way You
Talk To Me, as well as in her cover version of Word

To Your Mother by Sir Vanillus Ice.
Aguilera is the longest single syllable word
in English, and the only one that rotates on its side
and counterclockwise. As the youngest
Pope ever, (11 years old), she instituted one slot machine
per every eight citizens in Vegas.
Contrary to popular rumor, she keeps her heart in

her head like a shrimp or a pregnant goldfish. In
the Animal Crackers cookie zoo she appears
as 15 different animal shapes, including a herd
of red blood cells, lighting bolts, and the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was said she trapped the wind like a tired
man. The HOPE radio station in Sweden continually beams
her lyrics into space. A bylaw in Utah

bans her from unionizing or having sex with a man in
a moving ambulance. Or so it would seem on her
coat of arms, which reads: In the beginning was the word...
give me your tired, your poor, your huddled Aguileras yearning to be free.

Copyright © 2008 Matthew Guenette
from Sudden Anthem
Dream Horse Press

Saturday, May 10, 2008

2008 Skagit River Poetry Fest

Tickets on sale now.
It sounds like a wonderful lineup.
As I said previously , Jane Hirschfield is replacing Lucille Clifton for the opening reading Thursday night.
Hope to see you there!

For more info, or to see a full listing of the poets who will be reading, giving panels, or workshops, click here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Back home and back to the working week. I sometimes dread it the night before -- the full schedule of patients, the inbox full of emails and tasks, the stack of charts to answer -- but once morning comes I hit the ground running and get back into the flow (and the fun of it) pretty quickly.


I am reading tomorrow night for "It's About Time" in Ballard, along with Felicia Gonzalez, Clareice Keegan and Peggy Sturdivant. Hope to see you there!


And the Skagit River Poetry Fest is coming up soon. I hear that Lucille Clifton had to cancel, and is being replaced by Jane Hirschfield as headliner.

I need to get my panels and readings prepared!


Monday, May 05, 2008

Palm Springs is hot as hades. Dry. Desert. Cactus. I think I have not put on socks the entire time I have been here! Just shorts and sandals and tee shirt kind of weather. Our friends have a lovely home with a pool. I could just float and look at the blue sky forever.

My reading at the Palm Springs Book Fest was interesting. The "poetry Tent" was under a kind of clock tower. Lots of local small press stuff, and the local poetry peeps hanging out. As I was reading a huge gust of wind came up at knocked over the little music stand podium. Books and papers went flying. Then the pages of my book were fluttering, and I had to hold them down with both hands to read. But despite that, it was a fun reading. An enthusiastic but small audience. And they seemed to like the work.

Later we stopped by a couple panels that were happening in the GLBT tent. An interesting one about the future of gay publishing, with Felice Picano, and others. An interesting young guy (can't remember his name right now) with a new book called The End of the World Book, where he takes each letter of the alphabet and does words/definitions for each (I think L is "Lust"), and tells a story as if in the form of an encyclopedia. It sounded fascinating. I wish I would have bought a copy: I'll have to look for it online later.

We're off to day to take a driving tour of the valley, then do a hike at a nature preserve, and after lunch go up on the tram to the top of the mountains. Wheee!



Thursday, May 01, 2008

NaPoMo is over! And I made it through without writing a single *new* poem. Whew! Thank god. But seriously, I was impressed with those who did write so much this month. I was just not in the mood for it.


Looking forward to a little R & R in Palm SPrings this weekend. Dean and I are visiting friends who have retired there. I've never been there, and hear it is a gay retiree mecca of sorts. I'm not quite sure what to expect. But I hear it was in the 90's there yesterday.

One of the things I want to do there:
Take the Tram. A "must see" while visiting Palm Springs, you'll be taken on a genuine Swiss tram car to the top of Mount San Jacinto – 8,516 feet above the valley. There you are transported to the threshold of the 13,000 acre Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness State Park, with 54 miles of biking trails, cross country skiing, and magnificent views of Coachella Valley below.
Also at the top is an alpine restaurant, cocktail lounge, and a 22 minute film documenting the history of the tramway. Take Palm Canyon Drive north to Tramway Road near I-10(760-325-1391).