Tuesday, April 15, 2014


It's snowing here today so I had to post this photo from a few days ago to make myself feel better.  The spring is so late, the buds are just coming out on some of the trees, as you can see, but most of the trees aren't even leafing out yet.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dover Beach Parodies

A Criticism of Life: for Andrews Wanning

So there stood Matthew Arnold and this girl
With the cliffs of England crumbling away behind them,
And he said to her, 'Try to be true to me,
And I'll do the same for you, for things are bad
All over, etc., etc.'
Well now, I knew this girl. It's true she had read
Sophocles in a fairly good translation
And caught that bitter allusion to the sea,
But all the time he was talking she had in mind
The notion of what his whiskers would feel like
On the back of her neck. She told me later on
That after a while she got to looking out
At the lights across the channel, and really felt sad,
Thinking of all the wine and enormous beds
And blandishments in French and the perfumes.
And then she got really angry. To have been brought
All the way down from London, and then be addressed
As a sort of mournful cosmic last resort
Is really tough on a girl, and she was pretty.
Anyway, she watched him pace the room
And finger his watch-chain and seem to sweat a bit,
And then she said one or two unprintable things.
But you mustn't judge her by that. What I mean to say is, 
She's really all right. I still see her once in a while
And she always treats me right. We have a drink
And I give her a good time, and perhaps it's a year
Before I see her again, but there she is, 
Running to fat, but dependable as they come.
And sometimes I bring her a bottle of Nuit d' Amour.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16424#sthash.516eRdzr.dpuf

Dover Beach

by Tom Clark

The sea is calm tonight,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the Straits;--on the French
Toast, the light
Syrup gleams but a moment,
and is gone . . .

(Read the rest here)

Dover Beach
by Matthew Arnold
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dickinson Comic: My Wife once stood--a Loaded Gun

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun (764)

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun -
In Corners - till a Day
The Owner passed - identified -
And carried Me away -

And now We roam in Sovreign Woods -
And now We hunt the Doe -
And every time I speak for Him
The Mountains straight reply -

(Okay, so this is one of the dumbest yet.  Forgive me!) 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

At the Y

I'm walking on a treadmill again under a bank of TV screens, observing how each TV is showing reruns of a recent nightmare. On one screen there is the Pistorius trial, and on another, the Fort Hood shootings. On the local channel, first there are the local killings.  Then there is a film of Youngstown police officers being trained to gun down criminals at the Eastwood Mall. What is this?  a man walking next to me asks.  An NRA wet dream?  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Rochelle Hurt

Rochelle Hurt read at YSU on Thursday night.  She's a new young star, and she's from Poland, Ohio! Her poems reminded me a little of Claire Bateman and Kathi McGookey--a kind of surreal and deeply imaginative work that sits right at that line between poetry and fiction.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Submission Guidelines

Submission Guidelines for the Open Press Poetry Prize
 The Open Poetry Prize is open to all poets who can comply with the following guidelines.
1. The Open Poetry Prize is open to all poets who are in possession of a manuscript, a name, an email address, a phone number, and a check for thirty dollars. Please be sure you meet these requirements before submitting to our contest.
2. Open will consider all manuscripts that are in a single font, are single-spaced, and that contain no more than seventy pages.  All manuscripts must be received by April 15. 
3. Open will not make exceptions or accept excuses from your mother, your professor, or God.
4. Open will consider all manuscripts that mention in their cover letter how much they love Open Press and its poets.  
5. Open will consider all manuscripts that mention in their cover letter which Open Press books they have read, why they love them, which they plan to review, and why they want to become one of them.
6. Open will consider all manuscripts that mention in their cover letters how many readings they can secure for other Open authors and how many friends they have on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.
7. Open will consider all manuscripts with open eyes and minds.  If you wish that they be closed, please choose another publisher.
8.  Open will consider all manuscripts including manuscripts written by themselves, their professors, their students, and their relatives.
9. Open will not consider any manuscript that is lost.
10. Open will not consider any epics, manifestos, or epic manifestos.
11. Open will not read multiple manuscripts by the same author. Nor will we read the same manuscript with a multiple titles and multiple arrangements of its poems.
12. Open will not respond to bribery, blackmail or suicide threats.  If you are a criminal or have suicidal impulses, please do not submit a manuscript to Open.
13. Open does not wish to know which famous poets you know, have studied with and/or have slept with.  Please do not inform us of these details.
14. Open does not want to go out to dinner with you right now.
15. Open does not care what you are wearing.  Please do not include photos with your entry.
16. Open will not comment on rejected manuscripts and owes you no explanation for its editorial decisions.  
Also please do not do any of the following: 
17. Please do not use Elmer’s glue to stick the pages of your manuscript together.
18. Please do not include glitter or stickers in your envelope.
19. Please do not enter the contest if you don’t want to publish your manuscript,  or if you think you might be sued for libel if the manuscript is published.
20. Please do not enter the contest if you would rather have another press publish your manuscript.
21. Please do not enter the contest if you expect Open to wait all summer for you hear from a preferred publisher.
22. Please do not enter the contest if you plan to continue shopping the manuscript around after it has been accepted, and then to make up an elaborate excuse, should another publisher snatch it up.
23. Please do not enter the contest if you are not an honest person. 
24. Please do not enter the contest if you are psychotic, vindictive, or harbor ill will towards fellow poets.
25. Please do not enter this contest if you think you are the only real poet living today.
26. Please do not enter the contest if you have never read a book of poems. 
27. Please do not enter the contest if you think you are the next Rod McKuen or Mary Oliver.
28. Please do not enter this contest if you post glamorous photographs of yourself every day on Facebook.
29. Please do not enter the contest if you do not brush your teeth. And floss.
30. Please do not enter the contest post mortem.
Thank you for your interest in the Open Poetry Prize.
If we select your manuscript, we will allow revisions, but please do not send us an entirely new book and call it a revision.
We pledge to choose at least one manuscript to publish.  We hope your manuscript is the one we choose.  While we do not care if we know you or do not know you, we do hope you are not a bot.

(Many thanks to David and Stacey for publishing this on BAP: http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2014/03/submission-guidelines-for-open-press-poetry-prize.html)

Plume Travels by Henri Michaux

From the collection, SOMEONE WANTS TO STEAL MY NAME, published by Cleveland State University Press

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Certain people I hate.
Number one on my list:
anyone who talks to me on an airplane.
Take my last trip.
I'm just settling in, taking a blanket
from the overhead bin
when this platinum blond, maybe 40,
sits down next to me,
whips out her lipstick and compact
arranges her face,
smiles at it and asks,
--Are you from Pittsburgh?
--Me either.
What a shit hole, Pittsburg,
know what I mean?
It's really the pits. Like its name.
I'm from Lynchburg.
Have you been from Lynchburg?
--Nope.  Did they lynch people there?
---Of course not.  It's a gorgeous town.
It's the Chapstick capital of the world.
Do you use Chapstick?
--I thought everyone used Chapstick.
I never leave home without it.
Even Jerry Falwell used Chapstick.
Did you listen to Jerry Falwell?
He would slide some on his lips
right in the middle of a sermon.
I think he licked his lips when he was inspired,
like, by the Holy Spirit.
Did you know Jerry Falwell?
--Oh, he was divine.  I mean, for real.
He resided in Lychburg,
and he was on the radio and the TV.
He was on Donahue loads of times.
And he was the President's preacher.
George Bush, I mean.
Everyone I knew loved Falwell.
We listened to him on the radio on Sundays
if we didn't go to church.
What radio station do you listen to?
--I don't.
--Oh well, just so long as you don't listen to NPR.
They say it's news but it's not.
Jerry Falwell said they just make stuff up
and then say it on the air. Like global warming.
He said NPR tells folks cold is hot, and hot is cold.
You feel how cold it is this winter?
--And how hot it was last summer?
--I am talking cold here.
But maybe you don't notice it like I do.
You must be from the north. I can hear it
in your accent.  Just like my ex.
He was from Maine.
He stayed out in a blizzard one time,
and I kid you not,
he got frostbite on his extremities.
All of them.  I mean, really.
Said he never felt a thing.
That's a Mainer for you.
Icicles everywhere.
Not a heart inside them.
And they call this global warming.
Did you ever get frostbit?
--Well, you never met my husband.
I was with him until I was saved.
I don't even talk to him anymore
but sometimes he calls
and just starts talking and talking,
and I think, why do I have to listen to this?
Know what I mean?
--Yes, I think I do.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Pastimes by Henri Michaux


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Ladies at the Y

This morning the women were all gathered around the scales
in the locker room.   I dare you to step on it, one woman said to me.
Oh, I can't. I said. I gave that up for lent.
Me, too, they all shouted and went hurrying off to the pool.

There's a popular aqua-dance class  at 9AM
that has a regular following of women.
Last week there was a fire drill for the pre-K children
on an ice-cold day.   The whole Y joined in,
except for the ladies in the pool.  First they got out,
then they got in again, then someone told them to get out.
They tried to turn us into popsicles, one of the ladies told me.

A while ago, one of the ladies brought in copies of a poem
and passed them around the locker room.
Every morning come rain, snow, sleet or
shine, the ladies of the Y  . . .  she began  reading loudly,
only to be interrupted by another woman:
The ladies of the Y are certifiable! We're certifiable.
And everyone joined in, We're certifiable! 
The poet tried several times to complete her poem
but to no avail.  The chant got louder and louder,
We're certifiable! We're certifiable!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Simplicity by Henri Michaux from SOMEONE WANTS TO STEAL MY NAME

       What has been missing from my life until now is simplicity.  I am beginning to change, little by little.
      For example, now I always go out with my bed, and when a woman pleases me, I take her to bed immediately.
       If her ears are ugly or large, or her nose, I take them off with her cloths and put them under the bed.  I keep only what I like.
      If her underthings could use a change, I change them right away.  That is my gift.   If, on the other hand, I see a more beautiful woman passing by, I excuse myself to the first and make her disappear at once.
      Some who know me suggest that I am incapable of doing just what I said, that I haven't the temperament.  I once believed so myself, but that was because I wasn't doing everything exactly as I pleased.
      Now all my afternoons are good.  (Mornings, I work.)

(From Someone Wants to Steal My Name, Cleveland State University Press.)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

When you are old and gray

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
and nodding on your favorite pillow, take out your photo album
and look at me, and remember the long walks
we took in the woods, the deer I chased
and the squirrels.  And remember how you never did let me 
go after the neighbor's orange cat . . .

Friday, March 14, 2014

At the Y

I am watching basketball on the TV screen, and trying
only to watch basketball, not the latest reports
on what might have happened to the Boeing 777
that vanished into thin air.  The man next to me asks,
So you're starting to like basketball.  Then he adds,
It's almost like ballet.  You think? 

Nope, I say.   But I'd love to watch a real ballet
while I'm working out. Wouldn't you?  He grunts.
That would be like watching the grass grow.

You mean like watching basketball?  I ask.

I think how often I've heard men compare football or baseball
or boxing to ballet, as if that's a reason to appreciate it.
So why can't we just watch ballet?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Interview with Dawn Potter


Wyeth Moments

There's always that sense that they are there 
Walking the same paths
Pointing at the trees the view
The newcomers don't see them
They walk right thru them
So certain
They will never be ghosts 

(From notes on a trip to my childhood home where I see more of what isn't anymore
than what is.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Statue and I by Henri Michaux, translated by Steven Reese

In my spare moments, I am teaching a statue to walk.  Given its unnaturally prolonged immobility, it is not easy.  Not for it.  Not for me.  Great distance divides us, I am aware of that.  I'm not so foolish as to not understand that.

But one can't have all the good cards in one's hand.  Well, then, onward.

What matters is that the first step be right.  For the statue, everything is in the first step.  I know it.  I know it too well.  In that lies my anguish.  And so, I prepare.  I prepare as never before.

I get up close and copy its pose exactly, my foot lifted like its foot, and stiff as a stake driven into the ground.

But alas, it is never quite right.  Either the foot, its arch or how it is poised, or the style, something is always missing, and so that setting forth, so waited-for, is prevented.

That is why I have come to be nearly incapable of walking anymore, overcome with rigidity, though ever so spirited, and my bewitched body frightens me and will no longer carry me anywhere.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

From "The Prudent Man" by Henri Michaux

The fellow thought he had a limestone deposit in his gut.  Daily he went to this doctor or that, each of whom would say: "Your urinalysis shows nothing," or else that he was on his way to decalcinization, or that he smoked too much, his nerves needed rest, or . . .  or . . . or.

He quit going to his appointments and stayed home with the
deposit . . .

(from Someone Wants to Steal Your Name, CSU Press.  This poem was translated by Sydney Lea.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tulip Bags by Salley Knight

Another of my sister's batiks.  I am such a fan!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Hot-tubbing at the Y

A day of swimming at the Y, only the water was so warm, everyone who got into the pool turned pink.  It was bit like playing lobsters as a child.  My sister used to turn the hot water on, a little a a time.  "Look!" she'd say.  "We're almost lobsters!"  Then she would turn it on again.

The lifeguard told me that some of the men who sit in the hot tub too long have been told to modify their habits because one of them passed out in there.  He had to be dragged out of the water.  He won't be allowed in the hot tub anymore, she said.

Hot-tubbing is a morning ritual for some of the regular men. They come to soak in the hot tub and seem to never leave.  Every time I look up from the pool in their direction, I see them lined up like Buddhas, their faces glowing red.

from Darkness Moves by Henri Michaux

      Doors open and shut under water.
     You have to know how to hear them.  Then you can learn your future, your near future: today's.  Some clairvoyants are remarkably gifted at doing this; you meet them at the seaside, hoping for customers.
     No matter how many errands you're going to run that day, they can hear in advance all the doors you'll go through, opening and shutting, and they see the people you'll meet on both sides of the doors and what they're going to say and decide.
     It's stupefying, really.
     Until nightfall, you think you're living through a day you've already lived.

From Darkness Moves by Henri Michaux, translated by David Ball, published by UCP, page 122

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Remembering Rick Beckjord


Rick Beckjord, a life-long friend of the family, died unexpectedly last week.  He was an amazing sculptor, a bit of hermit, and a truly unique man who often walked the wooded and rocky trails of Maine in the dark and swam in the lake by moonlight.  He knew every bird, plant, and tree in his path.

He and my mother were birds of feather.  They often walked together.  Rick also loved to make jam--and my mother loved "Rick's unique jams," especially the mint marmalade and strawberry rhubarb.  Last night I dreamt the two of them were walking beneath the pine trees together.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

At the Y

I am working out again, trying not to stare at the TVs overhead, looking down or up or anywhere but at the TVs.  The African American man running on the treadmill next to me says, Look, you're missing the  ladies who are LOVING THEIR SELFIES.  He points at the screen showing a parade of women of all sizes and shapes, striding  up and down a catwalk, including two big women in bras,  XL undies and pink robes.  I ask is he thinks men will ever be loving their selflies like that.  Damn. I sure hope not, he laughs.

I begin watching the sports news, but then Le Bron appears in a batman mask.   Does he think he's the new superhero?  the man next to me asks.  Next thing you know he'll be thinking he's Jesus.   Le Bron isn't anyone's favorite in Ohio, not since he left Cleveland.

But then I look at the news on a different screen and see Charles Kupchan-- yes, Charles Kupchan talking about what's happening in Crimea.  The close-captioning below his face says he's an advisor to the President on Ukraine.  Charles Kupchan-- I remember him from sixth grade when he was the new boy in school.  Short and wary, he sat in the quiet section of the room, between Edwin Parker and Nelson Kane next to the window.  I still see him as that boy, but now, at least in my mind, he has to decide what will happen in Ukraine.

Black Scat Review

The surrealist review, Black Scat Review, has just arrived. I have a few pieces in there that are from my forthcoming book, WHY GOD IS A WOMAN.  One of them begins:

On the Island where I grew up

I was only a boy when I first saw God.  I remember the day exactly. I lived in a small neighborhood of twelve stone houses where all the girls in my neighborhood were called Angelina and all the men were old.  Every year tourists visited the Island in the fall after the summer plagues of insects had passed, when the air was reputed to be the purest on the planet.  So pure was the air in fact, it glittered and appeared to contain tiny glass windows.  The Islanders liked to say that if you peered into the windows, you would see what heaven looked like.  Gullible tourists spent hours staring at the shimmering air, seeking their own personal glimpse of eternity . . .

There are some lovely pieces in this review.  Below is an excerpt from "Alter" by Michelle Gray:

I had a dream I was a man. I had a dream that I was one.  I remember feeling love or something like it and bodies intertwined in tender embraces basking in the illusion of safety.  Now I'm awake and I see that it was the dream of another man.  I can't afford illusions.  There's no point in wanting.  There's no point in needing.  There is no way to guard against loneliness and the absurd relentlessness of living.  If one cannot escape from the pain, one must become one with it and become another thing. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Red Tulips by Salley Knight

"It's summer.  Hot out.  You want something light and easy: a bag that will carry the essentials and yet allow room for that bag of juicy grapes that you can't resist in this weather."

"Red Tulips"-- one of the designs of the forthcoming bags by my sister, the batik-artist, Salley Knight.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

from Darkness Moves by Henri Michaux

There is haste in me.  There is urgency. *

I would like. I would like anything at all, but fast.  I would like to get out of here.  I would like to be rid of all this.   I would like to start over again.  I would like to leave all this.  Not to leave through an exit.  I would like multiple leaving, a whole spread of them.  An endless leaving, an ideal leaving so that once I've left I begin leaving again right away.

*What would happen if this "accelerator" were administered to slow animals: to the chameleon, to the three-toed sloth or to a marmot just coming out of hibernation?

from Darkness Moves by Henri Michaux, translated by David Ball, from the chapter, Exploring Hallucinogens, p. 199

AWP Recovery Comic

This is from an email from an AWP-attending friend.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

So Cold, So Pretty

AWP Comic

 A friend was complaining to me about how much he hates AWP.  It's like Diet Pepsi, he said. I'm addicted, but it's bad for me.  I keep drinking it,  but I hate it.  He says he doesn't sell books or connect or enjoy the panels  . . .  He says that when it was smaller, he did all those things.  He doesn't like the feeling it gives him about poetry in America either.  His comments made me think of this comic. 



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

At the Y

There are lines of television screens above the workout machines.
One is Fox News, the channel where all the news-women
are blonde babes, and all the men are vile.
Every ten or fifteen minutes is an anti-Obama clip.
Today features Karl Rove and Benghazi again.
One might guess Benghazi happened only yesterday.
On the next TV screen a woman is having a facelift
without any cutting of flesh.  Instead, her cheeks,
chin and forehead are stabbed repeatedly with a needle.
Doesn't she look great? her husband asks after the lift.
She smiles, pats her shiny, new face and says
she feels she's twenty years old again.
On the next screen over a girl describes her eating disorder.
She vomits at least eight times a day.  She's improving,
she thinks.  She can't promise not to puke again.

Ugh, I say out loud, and the African American man next to me asks
which screen I'd like him to shatter with his free weights.
Fox first, please, I say.  He agrees.  It's a racist show, he says.
Not many white folks get how racist it is.  
We stare at the blond newscaster together then,
at her red dress, her matching lipstick and heels
as she nods and smiles like a goddess overhead.

Monday, February 24, 2014

from I LEFT MY WINGS ON A CHAIR by Karen Schubert


You may be surprised to know these are real places, our guide says.  You can find them on the map at the end of the tour.  She hands us our radiation suits.  Half of us go into Chernobyl, the other half into Hiroshima.  We walk from the Before room to the After room.  Our Geiger Counters click an wheedle.  My mask is hard to see through and it takes me a while to realize there are no more people.  The ambulances have left.  I want to warn the dogs.  It feels so real.  The guide has never heard of Three Mile Island.

We slip off the suits and hear gunshots.  What's the difference between Gettysburg and Columbine? our guide asks.  We duck out of the way as students run by with their hands up.  Their grandfathers were in Vietnam, so they know what to do.  The smoke clears and we lay wreaths at the white crosses, a single row like Arlington.  We are still working on Iraq and Afghanistan, the guide says, and gestures toward the locked doors.

We go from Ruby Ridge to Waco.  Jonestown is silent--no fire or gunshots, all the people in rows.  Motionless fathers hold their children down.  We can't see Kook-Aid on their faces.  Most of us are crying, and the tour guide promises to cheer us up.  We walk past Bataan and Auschwitz, all the way to Hollywood.  We stay in Hollywood for hours.  We better be getting to Ground Zero, Broadway, and Wall Street!  calls the tour guide.  They are closing Lockerbie and Love Canal!  But we just stay in Hollywood, watching those beautiful people pose for flashing cameras.  One mother tells us to get a good look.  You can be anything you want, she says.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dead Man at the Y

On Wednesday at the Y
a man was walking on the track
when suddenly he stopped,
sat down, and slumped over.
He was taken away on a stretcher.

On Thursday a man stayed in the sauna 
so long he couldn't get up.
As one of the passersby put it,
He cooked hisself like a rotisserie chicken.
He, too, was taken away on a stretcher.

Good thing the Y shares the parking lot
with the hospital,  a woman said.
They even have a helicopter pad
in case you need to be life-flighted to Cleveland.

Yep, another woman piped up.
We could use a funeral parlor on the other side.
You heard about the man who was sitting
in the chair in the workout room?
He was there a few hours
before anyone realized he was dead.