Sunday, August 31, 2008

I love this poem from a recent issue of NER. The pace of the line breaks and stanzas is riveting. And the blurring of tenderness and violence, love and murder is very well done. Reading the contributor's notes, it looks like the two poems in this issue are this poet's first published poems. Pretty cool, huh?

Solution to an Outdated Crossword

Emotional violence is
my favorite kind of violence.

After all, the heart is
the bloodiest organ.

Desire is the tender cup
behind her kneecap.

Love is something else.
It is not the game, maybe,

but the dice, loaded,
and the mugging that follows.

You will stab yourself between the ribs.
You will dislocate a tender kneecap.

Sometimes, you will just have to set out down a dirt road
alone in the dark with a rifle.

One night my father's father was reincarnated
as a jack-o'-lantern.

A love of mine carved out his eyes.
I scooped the orange mess from his skull.

We lit a candle together
and were happy for a night.

But don't be fooled.
The solution to every murder mystery is . . .

a good question. Actually, that is what love is.
It is the solution to every murder mystery.

-- Henry Kearney IV


Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin? What was McCain thinking? Has he gone totally senile? This is possibly the worst veep choice since Bush Sr.'s idiot-deer-in-the-headlights Dan Quayle. From what I understand, Palin's a very conservative right-wing pro-life nut-case, with a mere two years experience as a governor of Alaska, and zero foreign policy experience, who is hell-bent to drill for oil in Alaska. Jezzus! Part of me is smiling, because I think this will effectively hand the election to Obama. The plot thickens . . .


And in poetry news, er, ummm, hmmm, sorry . . . I got nothing'. But there is this announcement about the Great Art Party, to help support Floating Bridge Press:

Hello Everyone,

This is just a reminder that tickets are on sale now for: The Great Art Party! A fun fundraiser to benefit Floating Bridge Press, a non-profit supporting Washington poets.

We have 150 artworks and we are selling 150 tickets. When the party starts we begin drawing numbers randomly. When your number is called you simply go up to the displays and TAKE the piece you want. Easy, fun, no bidding, and everyone goes home with art!

All work is valued between $90 and $2,200! Premium Tickets are only $100. A limited number of $300 Sapphire tickets will be sold, allowing you to pick from the high-end Sapphire section with work by Dale Chihuly, Francisco Goya, Steve Jensen and many others. Pictures of work can be seen at our website:

This all happens 6:30 PM Friday, September 5th at the South Lake Union Armory Building. For tickets and more info call Jeff Crandall at 206-353-9148.

We need to get the word out, so please forward this to your friends. Thanks!


The fifty faces of Michael Jackson. Now that he is about to turn 50, watch how his face has changed over the years. It's fairly horrifying. And more than a bit sad.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Four Tribes of Art

Got the link to this article from C Dale. I have seen this formulation before, and I think it is a fascinating way to look at things. I think I would place myself somewhere in the upper right quadrant: tradition, content, life, truth -- somewhere in there. Where would you place yourself?
I love these sculptures by Cecilia Miguez, that I saw in a gallery in Vancouver. Figurines with parts from wood and metal tools added to their bodies. Some of them made into timepieces. Some of them made into books. Very dreamlike, very disturbing. But doesn't all good art disturb in some way?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Got this from Christopher.
I am usally a prety bad speler.
I wish this survy showed me wich ones I mised.

Your Common Spelling Mistake Score: 90% Correct

Your spelling is excellent.

You don't fall for common spelling pitfalls, and you spell almost everything correctly.

Some pics from Vancouver:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Since getting back from BC I've been following the Stacey Lynn Brown/Cider Press Review poetry drama here. I don't know any of these people personally. But reading the posts and emails -- and looking at it from the perspective of someone who has been both a small press poetry editor and a winner of a poetry manuscript competition -- it seems like it was a toxic mix of a poet over-involved in the details of the production of her book (needing to control the blurbs and the cover image and the presence of an author photo or not, etc) and a press that was not willing to compromise or listen to reason.

What is lost in this, to me, is the poems. What were they about? I really want to know! Did any of this have any real effect on the poems? Or was it just an argument about their packaging? Was it just a series of misunderstandings about a table of contents and an author photo and some wording of blurbs? Or was it more than that?

It's fascinating theater. Perhaps a bit of a tempest in the poetry teapot? But it's all we've got, I guess, as poets. We give ourselves to our work, and our work is given to a press, and we hope and pray they will represent us well. Most of the time it works out. Occasionally (as CDY and others can attest) it does not.

I am late to this story, but read thoughtful commentary at Collin's, Reb's and Barbara's and elsewhere.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Our last day in Vancouver today. We need to pack up and get back on the train this afternoon. Dean is currently bent over his luggage, looking like he is doing CPR chest compressions, as he tries to pack in his clothes. Why does it always seem like more when you are going back home?

Had a fun day yesterday despite the constant rain. We took a huge umbrella from the hotel and walked together arm in arm underneath it for most of the day, window shopping downtown and going to galleries. Tres romantique! We saw this amazing exhibit at the Buschlen Mowatt Gallery, where there was one of those old LOVE statues from the seventies next to this amazing metal sculpture a sitting man all made of letters of the alphabet (the picture here is of another version of it located in somewhere in Spain). It is by Jaume Plensa, who is a from Barcelona. If I ever get a second edition of WWotB I'd chose it for a book cover.

After dinner we decided to go to the Cathedral across the street to hear Gregorian Chant before bed. We are not very religious at all, but we love the sound of those male voices singing acapella. We were so bummed that it was an all-women group! It was beautiful, but just not quite the same. And the guy with the incense looked like Igor, and he was smoking the whole place up. People were coughing, and we had to leave.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Having a great time in BC. Vancouver is such a great town for walking. The West End in particular. I am just amazed at all the high rises here, with little parks and gardens tucked in, and all the people out on foot (not many fat people here!) We've seen a lot of sites and probably eaten more than we should, but what the heck. I showed Dean the new library, a kind of modern coliseum-shaped building (I read there at AWP a few years ago). Stanley Park had a bunch of downed trees from winter storms, and parts of it looked like a disaster area. Took a tour bus around the city and sat by some French Canadians, who were a little non-plussed that the tour was not translated en Francais for them (they didn't know I understand French pretty well, and speak it a little, and it was fun to eavesdrop on their conversation . . . hehehe). Yale town has really become a hot trendy place, full of new condos and restaurants and shops. We had Dean's birthday dinner there last night, with K and B. A relaxed 3-4 hour multi-course feast, with good old friends, We could talk all night. Walking back after, Granville Avenue was closed to traffic, and there was just this huge blocks-long street party going on. There air was cool, but still easy to walk in short sleeves and slacks. Vancouver has such an eclectic mix of ethnicities and cultures. I just love it. I think it is a vision of the future of the world.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gay Dads

First Clay Aiken, and now Ricky Martin? What is going on with the world?


About to head out of town for a long weekend, to Vancouver BC by train, to celebrate Dean's b-day. The big 7-0. Can you believe it?! I hope the sun decides to come back. Even if it doesn't we'll be fine. Vancouver is such an amazing city. Very worldly and sophisticated and "European" in many ways. If I ever had to leave America (like, ya know, if that old fart McCain wins the election and we stupidly invade Iran and I just can't take it anymore), I would definitely consider moving to Vancouver.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lost Bob Dylan prose poems resurface with 60's Hollywood photographs.


College Professor vs. Prison Guard. Who earns more? You may be surprised (I was). Check it out on the "Blue Collar vs White Collar" Salary Smackdown.

Though, of course, some may wonder what is the difference between a college professor and a prison guard, I think there is a lot of difference.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Had a lovely dinner with friends last night. Gin & tonics and grilled hamburgers and corn on the cob, as we sat out on the back deck. I love eating outside in the summer! Afterwards we walked across the street to the neighborhood concert in the park. The Jim O'Halloran Quintet was playing "Afro-Latin Jazz." Elva Pope, cane in hand, came on stage to sing a few songs. Her voice is still just amazing. Even little Anneka at 9 mos old loved it, and was rocking back and forth, trying to crawl and/or dance.


The finish of the women's Olympic Marathon was riveting and inspiring. Wow. 38-year old Constantina Tomescu-Dita was just amazing. She pulled away and held on. My only question is what was in those capsules that she was breaking and sniffing? Smelling salts?


And in other news, yet another Seattle poet wins a book award in Poetry. This time, it is Andrew Michael Roberts, winning the Iowa Poetry Prize. To be honest, I've never heard of Andrew, but wish him congrats! And yay for the home team.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My call week is finally over. But I have Saturday clinic still to work today. I think my first pt is a newborn circumcision. Fun.


Watch this frame-by-frame replay of Michael Phelps touching the wall 0.01 secs ahead of Milorad Cavic in the 100 Butterfly final. His hands seem to come magically out of nowhere, crashing in from above, while the Serb is coasting to the wall. Amazing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A busy call week thus far. Twelve newborns, one with an interesting sacral dimple, wide sutures, large head, and such. Another with TTNB (transient tachypnea of the newborn). Busy clinic days with the usual diabetes hypertension hyperlipidemia arthritis depression well child checks immunizations pap smears rashes colds coughs aches & pains sebaceous cyst excision etc. With a little extra drama of a broken arm, stolen narcotics prescription, police handcuffs, resisting arrest, thrown in for good measure. Looking forward to the weekend. Perhaps there will be poetry on the weekend? One can only hope.

Monday, August 11, 2008

From today's Poetry Daily, a very different kind of Bob Hickok poem:


Hands, the fit of them, to the neck. God's making

an end for the arm, murder, His, forgive me, my

pronoun, my rage, if in practice I lift them

to the window, morning's jet mirror, who, and what

you did, the cracked bell within, is not evil, but to ring it


Bob Hicok

Michigan Quarterly Review
Summer 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

8-8-O My! I thought the Beijing opening ceremony was stunning, if not a bit intimidating. Just the sheer number of performers, and how much they did with just people power. Those drummers! The guys with the blocks! And the giant LCD scroll. Wow. Check it out on You Tube if you missed it.


Not a restful weekend. Friday night there was a house party two doors down from us. The parents were away and their teenage son had a kegger, or whatever they call them these days. There was 30-50 kids hanging out on the front porch and in the yard, talking very loud, as music thudded from inside the house well past midnight.

There is nothing more annoying when you are trying to sleep because you are on call, than to have a group of drunk teenage girls shouting at each other "bitch" "fuck" "damn" "get outta my face" "who brought her here?" "just walk away, just walk away." I called the police but they did nothing. Then a little past 1:30 am a fight broke out between a group of the boys, and I called 911 again. Finally a police car appeared.

And then last night, I was paged out of a deep sleep for a call about a newborn with a fever, tachypnea, possible sepsis. This week of on call is not starting out well.


Friday, August 08, 2008

8-8-8 day. And the Beijing Olympics begin. I love watching the Opening Ceremonies, and seeing the parade of nations. For some reason it gives me hope for the world.


About to begin a week of on call, plus cover Saturday clinic two weeks in a row. Busy busy.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Send your poems to Knockout


Knockout, a print literary magazine that publishes a 50-50 mix of work by LGBTQ and straight authors, announces its first poetry contest. Judge: James Bertolino. Winner receives $100 gift certificate to Powell's Books (redeemable online) and publication of their winning poem. All poems submitted considered for publication in Knockout.
Submissions of up to three poems of any length must be received by August 31, 2008. $5 entry fee per submission. Multiple submissions allowed. Simultaneous submissions allowed (with prompt notification if accepted elsewhere). For complete guidelines and for more information about Knockout, visit

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Wow. Check out this poem by Erica Funkhouser. Look at all the delicious words! Rawky, croodled, sprent, scrowed, swopped, sinkfoil, throstles, chelped, furze, jargonels, progged, girlish hand, sturted. I love it.

Words for Winter

That oddling, John Clare
all one rawky winter in Helpston,
croodled with cold,
took to scratching his thoughts
on shop papers
still sprent with tea leaves and soap.

Huddled above the tinder
of remembered summers,
he scrowed row upon row
of lovesick words until swallows
swopped into sinkfoil
and throstles chelped in the furze.
In the collar of a pear tree,
a young prince feasted on jargonels.

Called by his pa to collect kindling,
Clare progged his poems in a hole
in the cottage wall. His ma went hunting:
What was he up to now?
How many hours had he wasted
practicing his girlish hand?
She crumped the boy's scribbles
into whips and sturted her fire.

-- Erica Funkhouser, from Earthly


Monday, August 04, 2008

All Aboard the Bus B*tch

From the Rainier Valley Post:

"In addition to founding the ultra-popular Cheap Wine and Poetry somewhere north of I-90, starting today Brian will be the voice of the "Bus Bitch," a semi-regular column combining his daily life of riding Seattle Metro with a wry knack for complaining about it.

"Like many in the Rainier Valley, I depend on the bus to get around— because cars, gas and insurance are damn expensive," said Brian. "Bus Bitch will chronicle the ups and downs of busing it in Southeast Seattle and be a source for mass transit information (and bitching) for Rainier Valley residents."

Email Brian with your stories, tips, pictures, etc.


Dean and I saw the new X-Files movie last night. It was good, but not great. It felt like a 30-60 minute TV episode stretched out to fill a movie. The creepy medical stuff was great. The Mulder-Scully love relationship stuff was kinda boring (sorry, the chemistry is gone). And the priest-pederast was not very disturbing or complex as the villain-hero, despite the bloody tears. And why all this SNOW in the X-Files movies? Is there some memo I missed? I'd say wait for DVD or NetFlix or cable.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

It's Seafair weekend and the neighborhood is mobbed with people coming to watch the hydroplane race and the Blue Angels airshow and such. What a noisy waste of fuel. I usually try to find a way to leave the neighborhood for the duration.


I've been working more on the Expedition poems. I have not written anything like this before, and so hunted around for other poem series that I could find, to get an idea of how others have approached doing this. I looked again at Ellen Bryant Voight's Kyrie, about the 1914 Flu Epidemic. I also found a couple recent books that had some interesting poem series: Erica Funkhouser's Earthly, which has a 15-part poem about Johnny Appleseed and the bringing of apples to America. One of the poems is a list of names of different apple types, and makes a very interesting found poem. Another book is Beth Ann Fennelly's Unmentionables, which has three long series in it: "Berthe Morisot: Retrospective" which is about the painter's life and art, told through a series of "Colorplates;" "The Kudzu Chronicles" about the invasion of kudzu in the US South; and "Say You Waved: A Dream Song Cycle" that is a tribute of sorts to the work and life of Berryman. And then, of course, there is Rebecca Loudon's Navigate, a series in the voice of Amelia Earhart. I'll have to look at that again, too.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Had a lovely lunch with K. today, sitting out back, looking at books and poems and catching up, while the Blue Angels and other loud aeroplanes did their acrobatics over Lake Washington. Such fun!


I found this old pic, of my second (now defunct) poetry group, circa 2003 (I miss that group!). Can you believe it was 5 years ago? Can you guess who is who?

Paul Muldoon—celebrated poet, poetry editor at The New Yorker, and Princeton professor—teaches poetry at the Bread Loaf School of English by day, but by night he is a member of Rackett, the “three-car garage band” he founded in 2004 with fellow Princeton English professor (and also a sometime Bread Loaf faculty member) Nigel Smith.