Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sayings after Philip Larkin

I think about this sometimes when I am writing and I find the familiar sayings filling in for the void in my logic . . .
Not that my parody does justice to Larkin, the great librarian-poet and jazz critic.

But really, I find myself asking . . .

What are these clichés for,
all these familiar sayings
about where we live, who we are, what we do . . .
They come, they speak to me and for me
time and time again . . .

by Philip Larkin

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Museum of Beautiful Humans

Friday, March 30, 2012

Musée Des Beaux Animaux

The human position, we already knew: a global crisis
was taking place while we were eating lunch . . .

It was only natural, perhaps, how everyone turned away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; a man on an oil tanker
Might have heard the last splash, the animal bark or cries . . .
But for him it was unimportant--or perhaps it was just
A small price to pay, a few animals disappearing forever
beneath the waves as the expansive ship glided by.

Musée des Beaux Arts
W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

from Carson McCullers

“Listen,” F. Jasmine said. “What I’ve been trying to say is this. Doesn’t it strike you as strange that I am I, and you are you? I am F. Jasmine Addams. And you are Berenice Sadie Brown. And we can look at each other, and touch each other, and stay together year in and year out in the same room. Yet always I am I, and you are you. And I can’t ever be anything else but me, and you can ever be anything else but you. Have you ever thought of that? And does it seem to you strange? ”

― Carson McCullers, Member Of The Wedding

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's so hot already! I know that when everyone talks about climate change, they compare us to the proverbial frog in hot water. I am beginning to feel more like a lobster dropped into boiling water.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Emily Dickinson

The difference between Despair
And Fear – is like the One
Between the instant of a Wreck
And when the Wreck has been -

The Mind is smooth – no Motion -
Contented as the Eye
Upon the Forehead of a Bust -
That knows – it cannot see -

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dear Professor

Dear Professor,

I was on this very small airplane
from Charlotte to Richmond,
and this XL man sat in the back
until the stewardess made him move
to the middle "to balance the plane."

I was pretty nervous
when he went to the bathroom.
But the stewardess said not to worry . . .
as long as he doesn't stay in there too long.
How long would that be?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And little town . . .

What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

from "Ode on a Grecian Urn"

I think of these lines when I think of towns like Cheshire, Ohio, towns which are emptied of people, but the residents could neither return nor talk of what happened there.

The same, it seems, happens to people whose water is contaminated due to fracking fluids. Once they settle their law suits, they are silenced. As a consequence, the radio is full of bold claims that no one's water has been contaminated.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Secret Life of Mannequins

The Secret Life of Mannequins

My new chapbook is out from Kattywompus Press. I love chapbooks, and I really like the editors of this tiny new press in Cleveland. I love the brevity of chapbooks. I think of them as test-runs, and I feel more free to print whatever I feel like at the time. I think everyone should write a few chapbooks in between their larger works.

This particular collection has a few of my semi-essays in it. By semi-essays, I suppose I mean what most people call creative nonfiction, a term that has always troubled me. How much is creative and how much is nonfiction? Sometimes I read samples of creative nonfiction in magazines, and the pieces seem to have nothing to do with reality, and everything to do with creativity . . . I am not sure what to make of them.

A few examples from my chapbook:

Stock Market Cycle

And a poem (which I have since edited a bit):

"Learning to Write the MFA Poem"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Fiddler from the Boonies

The Fiddler of Dooney
by W.B. Yeats

WHEN I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Moharabuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time,
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle
And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With ‘Here is the fiddler of Dooney!’
And dance like a wave of the sea.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Man with the Blue Guitar

The Man with the Blue Guitar
by Wallace Stevens


The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."

And they said then, "But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."

Brady's Leap will be playing at Kravitz Deli on Belmont this Thursday from 6:00 - 9:00 and at Kravitz Deli at the Poland Library on Saturday from 4:00-7:00.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On a Stationary Bike by the Window

On a Stationary Bike by the Window
by Eric Anderson

The exhaustion on the face of the man;
Pedals on, still not there.

In a Station of the Metro
by Ezra Pound

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's in my Pocket

What Do I See
by Gertrude Stein

A very little snail.
A medium sized turkey.
A small band of sheep.
A fair orange tree.
All nice wives are like that.
Listen to them from here.
You did not have to answer.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beloved Ape and Judging Book Contests

I was asked to judge another contest, but alas, I can't do it this time. How could I? I who usually hate winning books. I who love runts, loose ends, mistakes, half-baked books full of fragments and lost souls.

I was reading for a contest once, and there was book with a drawing of an ape in the middle with the words, You call that evolution? You humans are a MISTAKE! There was also a handwritten note taped into the manuscript -- an apology from God for the creation of mankind. Every poem was in a different font, and some were double-spaced, some single- spaced, some hand-written. In script no less. I love script. Beautiful script--obviously written with a fountain pen.

That book was my secret winner. The book was called Beloved Ape.

I sometimes dream of starting a press. I would call it Beloved Apes.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Women for Rick Santorum

Okay, so it's election day. I have been trying to stay away from politics (not sure I will keep that up), but why is it that the more fundamentalist a religion is, the more misogynist it is?

Did you know there are Burka Barbies?

DEAR _________:

Am I the only one who receives these emails?

Clearly I have some exciting things going on, whoever I am!