Saturday, July 30, 2005

I’ve been super busy these past two weeks—and especially these last four or so days. At least some of it is make-busy, I’ve spent hours in the kitchen, which is where I end up when anxious—the weeks before and after “shock and awe” were particularly culinary ones, I remember, loads of biscotti for some reason—and Dara’s due date is next Monday. Able to cook, but sit down and collect my thoughts? No way. Good anxious, but anxious.

My cooking now isn’t all frivolous—we are subscribing to a CSA, and each Sunday we get a big box of picked-the-day-before organic local veggies direct from the farm. It’s a pretty good deal all around, cutting out the middleman saves $ (as well as environmental impact) on both sides. But only this week am I getting into the swing of adjusting, keeping pace, etc., with what we receive. This week lots of cole slaw, pesto, big pot of Marcella Hazan’s minestrone, steamed kale. Chile-cilantro marinated grilled chicken. Baked beets. Loads of cucumbers. The kale is so tender (though big) you can eat the stalks fresh, almost. Not really, but yes after a minute of steaming.

So apologies if I owe you an ms. with comments, email, phone call, comments response, lunch date, thought, or poem. You are on my mind. Things’ve been hecticker than I can recall, and my brain is somehow moving both faster and slower than circumstance. I haven’t wanted to smoke a cigarette in years, and have wanted to since I left the PSA offices (after going over edits) last week and saw two guys who worked at the PSA stepping out for a smoke.

Did I mention we’re (well, Dara is, technically; well, completely technically, our little girl is too) having an at-home birth with midwives? On top of those preparations we have the usual baby-buying mayhem, which by rights we shouldn’t have to do again, since this is our second, but given our Exodus-style departure from Salt Lake City, we kind of have to start from scratch. Today a stroller; tomorrow, the changing table!

(Well, actually, tomorrow, a wedding.)

And all along, I am writing some but not so much as I could be—I feel like I could be only writing, and just as busy, if these wonderful though consuming necessaries weren’t present.

And of course I exhaust easy, so there's that at all times, too.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The secret of Sherman is revealed . . . and I gotta say, the resemblance is definite.

(You have no idea how many years I spent trying to pretend I wasn't so, before realizing I didn't have to.)

I'm flattered.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

From what I understand, this New Sincerity differs from the surrounding contemporary strains in that instead of pretending to be ironic, it pretends to be sincere?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

So then, this morning I notice that yesterday more people than usual came to the blog. And then, that so many came from here. I'm not one to overuse IM acronyms, but LOL! I'm blushing.

By the way, who's Sherman?

This is just wierd. First, check out this dream I had two nights ago, and I've been meaning to post but haven't had a second:

I dreamt a poetry festival was coming to Highland Park (where I live). We were all watching auditions, deciding who to accept. The Rolling Stones had just finished singing (on a trapeze bar, as if to remind me that it was a dream), my grandfather was unimpressed, "Ah, what's so great about that?" I felt abashed, he was right. I'd wasted $180 ($50 on cds, $50 on lobbying, $80 on ???) lobbying/supporting their application. We walked to another area. There, Lorna Dee Cervantes was a performance-yoga-poet. She'd make subtle yogic motions with her body, repositionings really, from static position to static position, that were very powerful poems. My grandfather was skeptical, but open to learning--she explained in gorgeous song, that

"Shoes shine, baby, shoes shine, shoes shine,
but you gotta shine shoes, shine shoes.

Shoes shine, baby, but you gotta work it,
you gotta shine shoes, shine shoes, shine shoes."

Since I can't sing the tune I still have, I'll just say the intonations meant, more or less, that anything, even shoes, can be transcendent, but you have to be willing to do something as humble and unlikely as to shine shoes--and the way she sang "shine shoes" meant shine like a gemstone, not just polish, which is why I say 'unlikely'. And her voice was lovely with praise, with meaning both ways of this reality of achieved transcendence (i.e. that shoes can shine, and that it takes complete humility and dedication to the humble to get them, or anything, to do so), were beautiful.

Me, and my grandfather, were impressed--faded, actually, out of the dream and into the song being sung. And I've been singing it all day.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Just found out a sestina of mine will be showing up at McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Little happy things. I'll note when it's available.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I'm thinking that John Mulrooney, when he said 'blog' sounded like some medieval monster (or was it torture device?), was right. These things are hungry. Not that I'm even giving mine the upkeep it could take (nor am I giving it up), but the reading of others, the thinking, the persistent pov in my consciousness, the existence of the category of 'blog' in my life eats a LOT of time, and doesn't even say 'yummy' before it says 'a little more'. As a consequence, I don't think I've read this little poetry in a six-month period in ten years or so. Hungry little things (poems and blogs both, actually).

Besides how (en)gross(ing) politics is (or maybe as adjunct to that lesson), a few things about poets, and some good feedback, the most important thing I've learned in blogworld is that Cerberus, the three-headed dog, is a bitch. Who'da thunk?

Monday, July 11, 2005

I've dug up an old New York Quarterly, to see if the impression which guided my post about the Poetry humor issue was right or not. The issue I found doesn't have a letter section, but here's a few samples from the 'Classifieds, Personals, and Services' section, which is laid out like a newspaper's classifieds.

"The cry of the Duwi Bird in East Africe is often mistaken by local poets for the sound of a dying rhinoceros.
This year's Ptolemy Award, given for the best long poem written on a scientific subject that is out of date, was bestowed on Benjamin Terrace of the South Bronx, for his 1654 line poem, "HOW DUCKS STAY AFLOAT," which includes an exhaustive detail image description of the pneumatic property of tailfeathers.
Each Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m., a group of psychiatrists get together and read their poetry to each other. Then they talk about all the things bothering them. This goes on for an hour or so, then coffee and cookies are served. If you're a psychiatrist and you write poetry and you have lots of things bothering you, this group is for you. $100 per group session covers cost of coffee, cookies, poetry reading. Leave name and number with answering service, we'll get back to you. 242-9876
Although Milton claimed he tried hard not to rhyme PARADISE LOST, occasionally a stray end rhyme sneaked in here or there.
It took Picasso many years to get over his Blue Period."

It's interesting to note that NYQ did not segregate its humor, either by issue, from its other content, or from the non-poetry world. A matter of taste, I guess.

This isn't to say I didn't laugh at parts of the Poetry issue--some of it was very funny (though some poems/gags didn't even rise to the level of groaner). I just found the tone a little chummy. Like laughing at, not with, though it did go around.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Hey, Eduardo's in a chapbook over on Web del Sol--poems, interview, photos.

Great stuff (what else would you expect from Eduardo?), go read.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Mournful occurence in London today. I am speechless beyond acknowledgement.

I imagine this has something to do with the British beginning to set a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. To keep the temperature high. What a bad thing this all is.

By spiritual I mean that any linear model is a lie.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Happy belated fourth, all.

the Whiteness of Moby-Dick = WMD?

Monday, July 04, 2005

A great book to look through when you don’t know what to write is a dictionary of word origins. The one I happen to have (there may be better ones out there, I don’t know, I got this from the QPBC like 10 years ago) is the Arcade Dictionary of Word Origins, by John Ayto. I think he balances the academic with a sense of wit and interest—it isn’t comprehensive, but it does have depth. And he keeps the definitions straight, without obscuring the sense of human interest, that these words ride us for their medium through time.

One of my favorites is:

"Musk (14) Like the substance musk itself, the name musk came to Europe from the East. Its ultimate ancestor appears to have been Sanskrit muska ‘scrotum, testicle.’ This meant literally ‘little mouse’ (it was a diminutive form of Sanskrit mus, ‘mouse), and its metaphorical reapplication was due to a supposed similarity in shape between mice and testicles (a parallel inspiration gave rise to English muscle and mussel). The gland from which the male musk deer secretes musk was held to resemble a scrotum, and so Persian took the Sanskrit word for ‘scrotum’ over, as mhusk, and used it for ‘musk.’ It reached English via late Latin muscus."

I jotted down some notes from this entry when I first read it, intending to expand it into a poem, and then when I came back to the notes the next day, there was nothing I could do to them, so they became the poem.

One entry I have been trying since nearly then to get into a poem is:

"Porcelain [16] The bizarre history of the word porcelain leads us back to a pig’s vagina. It was originally applied to fine china in Italian, as porcellana. This meant literally ‘cowrie shell,’ and was used for the china in allusion to its shell-like sheen. Porcellana was a derivative of porcella ‘little sow,’ a diminutive form of porca ‘sow (to which English ‘pork’ is related), and was applied to cowrie shells because they supposedly resembled the external genitalia of female pigs. English acquired the word via French porcelaine."

The thing that gets me is that somehow the etymology here, combined with the fact that fine china is (I believe) bone china and that bone china is called bone china because it is made with bone ash (i.e., from pigs, is one kind of bone, I’m assuming here) is lovely and sad. I haven’t been getting anywhere with it though, it may be wholly a cerebral connection I’m making.

Most of our words are not traceable back to sexual organs, those are maybe the only two! The sexually-related ones do tend to be the most interesting, though.

Well, there’s at least one more. I read this one for the first time last night:

"Testament [13] Testament is one of a range of English words that go back to Latin testis ‘witness.’ This was derived from a prehistoric Indo-European bas *tris- ‘three,’ and so denoted etymologically a ‘third person,’ who was not party to an agreement and thus could be a disinterested witness to it. Other English members of the testis family include testicle [15] (which etymologically ‘bears witness’ to a man’s virility), testify [14], testimony [14], and the prefixed forms attest [16], contest, detest, intestate [14], and protest. The use of testament for ‘will’ was inspired by the notion of a ‘witnessed’ document. Its application to the two parts of the Bible arose from a mistranslation of Greek diatheke, which meant both ‘covenant’ and ‘will, testament.’ It was used for the ‘covenant’ between God and human beings, but Latin translators rendered it as if it were being used for ‘will’ rather than ‘covenant.’"

I particularly like to think that the Bible, which is in large part a record of patrilineage, is a spiritual ‘bearing witness’ to masculine virility. That is one of its primary purposes (and certainly one of its generative properties), after all.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Check out the last photo on this page. A real white sperm whale! Absolutely stupefying. Absolutely speechless.

Maybe I've spent too much time in Moby-Dick, but these photos are awesome, sublime. And that last one is just too bizarre. I feel a little stupefied. I'm repeating myself, now, I see.

Friday, July 01, 2005

So we finally caught the little big-eared mice (2) and released them in a not-too-nearby park, near the little zoo. Three days now, and a tiny little starved baby mouse is found in the basement, near the play area. I put it in a shoe box with some water and some milk, but I think it is probably already dead.


Apropos that (or maybe propos, I can't tell), here's a poem by my dad's wife's father, Bob Ghiradella.

Charles Olson at Tea
--for Michael Rumaker (who told me this story and swore it is true)

Trying to amend
any bad
the poet chats with
his guest,
the local minister.

Suddenly, his
daughter appears
on the scene,
age 3,
carrying something,
feathered and broken.

"What have we here?"
the minister

"Bird," she replies,
wiping a cheek,

"the fucking owl
got it."

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