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 . . .