Thursday, November 29, 2007

Writers' Meetings Friday & Wednesday

We've had our Thanksgiving break, now it's time to get back at it. Send your work out asap and meet us tomorrow at 1:00 at The Chicory.


Next week, Wednesday night, 7:00 p.m., we're having an end-of-the-season party at Chris O'Brien's. Chris is making soup and bread. We're bringing everything else. We might workshop a bit, too, so send, send, send, and we will try and figure out if we're going to meet again before January. December is upon us. Time to chase the darkness away. Goodness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Positive Effects of Walking

Every once in a while, when I'm not completely pissed off at them, a pastor tells me something I need to know. As often as not, it's not something spiritual, but something practical, something like "walk in the direction that you intend to go." And so...

I walked down the hallway to the advising room and filled out the form to apply to graduate today. I found out last week that I should have filled it out in September if I wanted to graduate in May. Such is life. I should have maybe walked a little more quickly, but nonetheless, August graduation, here I come! I hadn't planned on walking through the ceremony anyway (different direction), so August instead of May isn't too big of a deal.

Then, this evening, I walked across the street and asked my grandfather to unlock the cedar box that contains my father's effects. It's been closed and off limits, but ever present, all these 33 years. It occurred to me last week that I was old enough to ask. I only took a quick peek, saw an old sneaker, a watch, some blue jeans, but Saturday I'm going back to collect the complete contents.

Walk in the direction you intend to go.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


And he came back again today, right after the recycling people came by.

Friday, November 23, 2007

November Air

We celebrated Gene's 48th birthday Friday. He figures he's probably more than halfway through the maze. His beard, reddish-blonde, is beginning to display tufts of dignified gray. He still asked for the Superman VS The Silver Surfer comic book for his present, though for his Christmas stocking stuffer this year he's asked for a small book of poetry, nothing too modern, something by someone well respected, established. I'm thinking about that. He and Jojo baked his favorite Texas cake together. They found the recipe in his mom's old recipe boxes. Jojo and I both volunteered to make it, but he wanted to partake in the creation, bring his mom's presence into our kitchen with his own hands. It's probably best that way. And it turned out very good. Hopefully his mom didn't look at the mess while she was there.

November is always a little weird around here. Maybe it's the change of the seasons. I don't know. We've buried a lot of friends and relatives in November. One year on Gene's birthday he was picking out his mom's casket. We both agreed it was definitely better to be making cake than picking out coffins on your birthday. This year we lost no one, but still we had to buy a ten-pack of sympathy cards at Barnes & Noble for all our friends who have lost relatives, and there was a memorial service to sit through. There's just something about November. I get worn out with the dying. I'll be glad when it's through.

On a happier note, I'm all but finished with my reading for this semester. I finished Anil's Ghost last night and was glad I chose it. I took copious notes and I think I'll write the 10-page paper on identity theory, which I'm going to have to do some research on. I loved Anil's character and her insistence on choosing her own identity, even going so far as to reject the names she was given by her parents and bartering with her brother to buy his middle name, Anil. At 12 years old, "She gave her brother one hundred saved rupees, a pen set he had been eyeing for some time, a tin of fifty Gold Leaf cigarettes she had found, and a sexual favor he had demanded..." The author is very diligent about supporting the character's choice. We never learn her previous given names. The book is, of course, about much more than that. It's also about erasing people or destroying them so completely they might as well be erased. It's about seeing and grappling with truth, "truth is just an opinion." I could go on and on, but I should probably focus my energies on the paper. Certainly December will be coming and we'll be moving on to better things.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

It was the usual crowd for Thanksgiving, except for this guy who showed up on the bird feeders after lunch. I was so pleased. He's never been to my house before! He didn't stay long, but maybe he'll come back. Look at that gorgeous head. Good thing I didn't bother to put away the binoculars or the bird books in my cleaning binge. Okay, yes, there were a lot of things I neglected to put away and/or clean. But see, it all worked out. What a nice day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mad World- Gary Jules

In celebration (or however you'd like to categorize it) of whatever angst you're feeling today. But mostly the people on the street are fascinating.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Moving Clay

I've been trying to write something for several days now and it's coming out slow and jerky, which makes me want to abandon it and try again in another couple of years. It's an essay, which is easier for me than poetry, but not this time. Not this time. I'm going to keep working on it a couple more days, then file it away if it doesn't come. What to do with the lumpy clay that absolutely swears it is a pot? Clay is just earth, isn't it? Can't it go back where it came from, rattle someone else's bones?

Monday, November 19, 2007

And Why?

cash advance

Thanks, Talia, for the link. And I suppose this means that this blog is totally incomprehensible. I've suspected as much for a very long time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Season of Food

Another fine workshop at The Chicory (sorry, no pics), but Rachel, Mike, Naoko, Ryan and I chewed up everyone's work and digested food in our poetry. Say, is cherry pie on a sidewalk better than an apple, or do ants have teeth? Are they sharp? What is the best food representation of blah? I voted against Cream of Wheat in the blah category, because Cream of Wheat is very warm and yummy and it would be a shame to connect it to, say, apathy and homeless shelters. I also couldn't vote for oatmeal, because I like oatmeal too. Expecially with brown sugar and raisins and walnuts and a little cream. No, oatmeal is much too happy to be blah. And it's good for you. No consensus was reached. An impasse. We also spent a great deal of time discussing hair, and some small amount of time on sex. Our discussions perplexed us so greatly that we stayed three hours and I returned to my car just in time for the kind parking ticket man to hand me a $10 ticket, which I couldn't talk him out of, although I didn't try very hard. Everyone has a job to do, after all, and some people's job is to hand me tickets. What can you do?

In other news, it seems as though this Wednesday, the evening before Thanksgiving, might not be the best time to have workshop. So we're taking that off the schedule. We're on for the next Chicory date, however. And we're trying to make plans for a little holiday celebration to end the semester on Wednesday, Dec. 5th. Naoko will be leaving us for at least a month, finals and other commitments are coming up, and in short December is going to be wild. So, let me know what you all think about a party to end the 2007 workshop season. Maybe a carry-in meal? Snacks? Let me know.

Also, Mike is in the final push to get his MFA apps in. Visit his blog, comment on his work...

And that's it for the workshop world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Where, Oh, Where

Thanks so much, everyone, for the outpouring of love. I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning, completely overwhelmed.

But now it's time to get back to work. I found this link, New Pages, that might be useful for all of us in submitting stuff to online lit mags. I think I somehow stumbled across it from the David Hernandez list, but I can't quite be sure. But anyway, check these two out. I'll start putting these links up on the sidebar when I get some spare time, am feeling more organized...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Clueless - As Usual

Slow Trains has taken "Train Language." Now I have to come up with some sort of bio. I haven't a clue what to say.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lost Religion

It wells up inside you.

The silver kaleidoscope
(mistaken for a telescope)
on the grass beneath the tree.

Where have you left your sacred?

Galileo pulling
a chain of endless rings.

Donations offered
at the oddest moments.

The random turtle,
chiropractic, rearticulating
your limbs.

Even the canopy bleeds.

Shafts of feathers (cardinal),
Near the body,
an unexpected shade of gray.


Elsewhere, the mica fireplace
(perfect cleavage),
the for-construction bid.

The issue is the ceiling height.

The clouded area

often alluded to.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Congrats, Talia!

It's out. Catch Talia's latest published piece of work on Wicked Alice! Woo-hoo!

In the Beginning...

(So Tom is getting his feet wet, stepping into the poetry world. I told him I'd post a couple of his things here. Maybe I'm just a mom, but I think it's a good start.)


Outside the window
Peace falls from the sky
Some enjoy
Some despise
Either way we all acknowledge
Children are called to it
They play games and smile
The world around them disappears into the void of oblivion
Blissful content is their salvation
Parents watch with envious souls
Feeling joy and desire at once
Wishing for one last empiricism
The last of the dancing rays go down
Children are beckoned to their beds
Parents say their blessings
All is well

The Dance

(for Tori the double bass, after the orchestra concert)

Warm and smooth while in my embrace
The casual pressure of the eyes watching us
We go through the well rehearsed dance neither feeling nor ignoring
When we are alone later our experience will be much more improvisation than plan
For now though you stay still, and let me do the work
I can’t wait till the time when we forget the world and its bolshie view
For now though you stay still, and let me do the work

The Outside

Cool, collected, she inhales her last drag
She envisions an apocalypse and its make her smile
Why does it always end this way?
The wind bites at her ears and nose
She’s just glad to feel something
The foreign sounds with the familiar tone take away any joy that the wind brought
Detachment once again engulfs her
Why do they make it end this way?
A small boy runs by screaming with what she can only guess is joy
Stay that way she thinks
Finally abandonment has joined her
He brings with him a cold snow
The kind that seems to have hope and despair in an ever expanding dance
That is what she has wanted
That is what she has needed
This is her prison

Not to touch

So close
So far away
Ever teasing the strings of my soul
Intoxication of the mind
Is your alms to mankind
It seems so artless
Yet so complicated
You neither notice
Nor care
This plucks the strings louder
Close to the breaking point they scream
The tone is insatiable
No one hears the progression
Finally the tonic is reached
Forte turns to piano
Piano turns to an abyss
Here is the requiem of the heart
Sad and beautiful


(This was formerly Ordeal, is found text, ruthlessly scissored up yet again, but it still doesn't have a feel that I'm happy with. I like Punch List much better, it feels done. This just feels like it doesn't quite capture the picture.)

You are taking a random walk
through our online cemetery.


Was she able to make a living?


Did she have a theme?

A lot of naked women.

She could shoot.


Bondage issues.

She didn't dislike it.

She was aware.

Is this a good place to stop?


How she felt
going through this ordeal.

I gathered it from her
bit‑by‑bit, piece‑by‑piece.

She had two red dots
on each hip bone.

Something was trying to tear its way
out of her abdomen.

No water after midnight.

She was awake
during the entire procedure.

decimated her skin.

She was left
with jangled nerves.

Opiates had no effect.

What was puddling up
under her was probably
a cold sweat.

She was aware.

Is this a good place to stop?


She had a high tolerance to drugs
like morphine.

Regardless, she stole it

At various times Dilaudid,
OxyContin, I believe.

Bubble-gum-flavored Xanax,

A history of depressive
Disorder. Anxiety. Panic attacks.

Issues with anger.

Prozac, Paxil, Ativan.

She was aware.

Is this a good place to stop?


We didn't think she was going to die.

Thursday, November 08, 2007



An abnormal pulse characterized by two beats in rapid succession
followed by
a pause.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Workshop - Chris O'Brien's

I'm sending out the e-mail with directions to Chris's house, where we are meeting Wednesday night for WORKSHOP! If you went to the Rybicki benefit reading you have no excuse for not feeling like writing. None. If you didn't go to the reading, I'm still not cutting you any slack. Yes, Ryan, you have a one-week reprieve. Chad, yes, okay, you're playing in a band. Just this once. I know this is a mom-sounding post, but folks, I've gotta work with what I have. I'm doing my best to transition. Et cetera, et cetera.

Monday, November 05, 2007


And...the wrapup for the weekend was quite fun. Naoko, Chris, Neil, Kristin, David K., my son Tom and I all made it up to the Rybicki benefit. No, I don't have pictures, but head over to Naoko's blog. I'm sure she'll post them. She took tons. I brought my camera, but the crush of people was a little too much for me to think about shooting anything. Talia, if you were there you would have searched out every last person and talked to them, I'm sure, and had a wonderful time of it. I pretty much stuck tight in my comfort zone, didn't talk much to people I didn't know, and watched the movement swirling around. It was fascinating and of course I take in so much more without the burden of talking. Not to show favoritism, but David was the best poet there, although there were a couple of others I enjoyed, particularly both Rybickis, and Bonnie Jo told her donkey dragging story, which made me laugh and feel comfortable and at home. David didn't read any of the new stuff, but some old favorites. Chad, you missed it. He read your favorite poem "fucked up and fine" along with a couple of other very good pieces. I was surprised at how the atmostphere in the room changed while he was reading. Everyone suddenly shut up and leaned in. Only a couple other people got that kind of reception. I think all of us students had a chance to chat with him for a bit and that was very fine. My son Tom caught the atmosphere too and went back to his dorm room and wrote his first poem, "The Dance," which summed up the evening dead on and was darn intuitive, not to mention a pretty sharp first poem. The only drawback to the whole event was despite my exhausted state on arriving home I never really slept last night, it felt really more like just lying down in the twilight for a very long time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Humming Along

The update from the writers' workshop is everyone is improving. There is a humming atmosphere, which is good, because I can't sing. Everyone agreed Naoko's poem was wow, and if you get a chance, check out Mike's blog. He has added quite a few poems, is getting ready to submit MFA apps, and I'm sure would appreciate feedback. I submitted a revision of a found text poem I gleaned from one of my court transcriptions, and Naoko said it was her favorite poem of mine so far. I laughed long and hard. Apparently I do a lot better finding poems than making them up on my own. While David is having fun erasing, I'm digging stuff out of transcript bins. I've printed this piece before on my blog, but this time I worked on the line breaks. It has an interesting story behind it, which I'll print later so it doesn't ruin the poem for you.

Punch List

They were moving
to different states.
Uprooting things.
No job, no plan.
Your job is
your livelihood.
That’s how you live.
The house was cold.
I remember it
being very, very cold.
Like you could see
your breath cold.
It struck me as odd.
Maybe he kept it cold
so the smells didn’t
permeate the house.
He assured me
he did maintain the rugs.
I was in all the livable
rooms of the house.
The rugs were clean
and it’s cold in there.
There were dogs
and a rabbit.
I was never in the attic.
There were stains
on the ceiling
of the master bedroom.
There were comments
about the noises
and the smells.
There was a screen
My kids were like,
this house is strange.
I heard scratching.
It was loudest
at the upstairs window.
We heard some things,
like light, light noises,
but I didn’t put a name
to it until the scratching
episode became loud.
There was a string
and I pulled it,
but no light came on.
It’s the kind of smell
that goes from your nose
to your stomach.
Did you ever smell
something like that?
I was in nose reach
of this smell.

We cut down the tree.
It was a hot summer.
We stayed
in that vacated state
a long time.