Thursday, December 31, 2009

The First of the 2010 Suggested - Liliana Ursu

The books for the 2010 Suggested are starting to arrive and since I have no self control, or sense of order, I have already read one, Angel Riding a Beast by Liliana Ursu. Many thanks to Liza for recommending her! The suggested list is working out well.

I'm not much for explicating a poet's work. I'd rather just present it. However, I will say this: I greatly enjoyed the personalness of Ursu's work in the midst of a larger world view. Apricots, icons, the cosmos, and her own presence seem to be in balance. Nothing overwhelms; everything participates in the picture of the whole. Ursu writes as a poet in exile, and thus her self-ness cannot take control.

And so here is a poem from the book that I greatly enjoyed.

Playing with the Mirror

by Liliana Ursu

I play with the mirror.
I do not set ships on fire, nor your hair,
fluttering free on another continent.
In my small mirror I try to capture
not my face, red after love,
nor the sad eyes of the icon
in my deserted house in Bucharest.

Here, in America,
my mirror reflects only a stranger.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall
who's the fairest of them all?

"The Moon above Agapia monastery"
the mirror replies . . .

One day someone will hold this same mirror
close to my mouth
to see if I'm alive.
From my last breath
the Carapathian mountains will come,
and the sea at Sulina;
my poems of gold will come
and my poems of clay,
and my young mother
giving birth to me
into blinding July light
into the medieval walls of Sibiu,
and I, giving birth to my own son, roses
buried under the snow.

My greedy lips will touch the mirror
as if in a last, earthly kiss,
an exercise of sadness, tragic and comic
in the innocence of the moment of my death.
I will taste apricots on my lips
which only dew from my mother's garden will cool.
I will feel on my lips
the words of my grandmother:
"Do not pick all of the fruit.
Leave some for winter's birds."

A Breugelian landscape rests quietly in my lap
like a spoiled cat,
while the mirror performs its duty,
and the TV set blares on and on
and I hear strange voices
announce from Venus:
"We have managed to make bread."

Someone in the cosmos
holds up a huge mirror
to see if we are alive.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


What wonderful variety

Knife-and-fork good-traveler
Day-old dainty hollowed out
Shallow half island divan

Fill with any Danish blue
Barbecue mosaic plus deviled
French checkerboard build

Every other row dog-ear
Slices lavish ooze tuck under
Crumbled heap peach nest

Each split pitcher crisp
Celery hearts hot with bottled
Cold with thin sweet spears

Saturday, December 26, 2009

First Check for Wholesomeness

The old American tradition of satisfaction
True prepackaged fresh quick-frozen
Meat penny speedy measuring spoons
Sanitary stick to it along the entire
Length of the carcass See Instant Meat
Old wives' tales then cool kettle
In any case bright red firm a yellowish
Cast as eleventh and twelfth ribs
Delmonico a large muscle closed
Backbone can be removed follow
Directions cover holds steam you
Will have time caution a timetable
Can only be approximate insert carefully
Keep warm while making Velvety
Thick as heavy Cream in spite of all
Your care strain HOTEL STYLE
A wedge bone use tongs as manufacturer
Directs a special hardwood plank you'll
Find it remove usually sold as one cut
Diagonally across the grain have meat man
Score skewers or string depending upon
Your schedule two to four days to marinade

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Living Arrangements

Q. When you and Peter first got divorced, where did you reside?
A. At his attorney's office.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The 2010 Suggested

Perusing my poetry list below, it occurs to me I am developing a gender bias in my reading. There are too many men on the list! For 2010, I'd like to read more women poets. What is particularly concerning is that I haven't found any contemporary women that I care for that have big, fat collected volumes.

So, I'm taking suggestions. I'd like someone comparable to Eudora Welty or Flannery O'Connor, but on the poetry side. Not Sylvia Plath, please. Not Sharon Olds. Not Mary Oliver. I like nature poets, but Mary Oliver is not subtle. I've read almost all of Louise Gluck. I'm open to translations. Help!

In other news, it's December 14th and my house looks not one bit like Christmas. Jocelyn has forbidden any decorating until the moment she comes home, Saturday, December 19th. I'm suspended in time until she walks through the door.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Last night I dreamed one of my favorite recurring dreams. The recurring part of it fascinates me. This is what the website Dream Moods says about recurring dreams:

Most dreams contain messages that serve to teach you something about yourself. However, soon after you wake up to go about your daily routine, you tend to quickly forget what you dream about. The message in recurring dreams may be so important and/or powerful that it refuses to go away. The frequent repetition of such dreams forces you to pay attention and confront the dream. It is desperately trying to tell you something. Such dreams are often nightmarish or frightening in their content, which also helps you to take notice and pay attention to them.
Recurring dreams are quite common and are often triggered by a certain life situation or a problem that keeps coming back again and again. These dreams may recur daily, once a week, or once a month. Whatever the frequency, there is little variation in the dream content itself. Such dreams may be highlighting a personal weakness, fear, or your inability to cope with something in your life - past or present.
The repetitive patterns in your dream reveal some of the most valuable information about yourself. It may point to a conflict, situation or matter in your waking life that remains unresolved or unsettled. Some urgent underlying message in your unconscious is demanding to be understood.

My dream isn't nightmarish, though! It's fun. So fun that often I know I'm dreaming and delay getting up so I can keep playing around in the dream. The details vary, but it always involves a large house. So here it is:

Gene and I own a large house on a creek. It's more like a hotel in size, but house-like in character. It has three floors and a balcony overlooking the creek. We have just moved in. All our friends are there and we are having a party. I keep finding more and more rooms. The creek is flooded and I am anxious to see what the property looks like when the water is down. In last night's version there was an historical building across from our house, a high school. We had no other neighbors. The front of the house faced the town, the back faced the creek.

There are more details, but when I wake up all the versions of this dream blend together. I don't know what message the dream is sending, but I sure enjoy encountering it! Maybe it's saying buy a bed and breakfast. I just don't know!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The 2009 Best Poetry List - Plus 1

According to Goodreads, which has a much better memory than I do, I've read 50 books this year, most of them poetry. It seems like I should have read more than that, but there it is. I haven't. Most of them were old, a couple of them new. I'm content to let others do the hard work of new poetry sifting, for two reasons: time and money. Call me a slacker. Here are the poetry books I gave five stars to this year, in reverse chronological reading order:

Because I didn't stop reading when I first wrote this, I have 21 Best of's and a screwed up numbering system. But that's okay. I really enjoyed Liliana Ursu's Angel Riding a Beast.

0. Angel Riding a Beast - Liliana Ursu

1. How to Be Perfect - Ron Padgett
2. Rhode Island Notebook - Gabriel Gudding
3. Wheeling Motel - Franz Wright
4. Scary, No Scary - Zachary Schomburg
5. The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan - Ted Berrigan
6. Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry - Alan Dugan
7. Leaf Weather - Shira Dentz
8. Love is a Dog From Hell: Poems, 1974-1977 - Charles Bukowski
9. Alphabet - Inger Christensen
10. The Mercy Seat: Collected and New Poems 1967-2001 - Norman Dubie
11. The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke - Rainer Maria Rilke
12. House of Poured Out Waters - Jane Mead
13. Selected Poems - Mark Strand
14. Without A Philosophy - Elizabeth Seydel Morgan
15. Wild Iris - Louise Gluck
16. Duino Elegies - Rainer Maria Rilke
17. The Branch Will No Break - James Wright
18. In The Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-1990 - Frank Bidart
19. The Catfish - Franz Wright
20. Address - Franz Wright

Saturday, December 05, 2009


So, if you're still Christmas shopping, if you actually engage in such, there's a website you might check out: Woot. One item per day, at a low, low price. Have at it.

Friday, December 04, 2009


I have a fascination with abandoned footwear.
So many possibilities.
This shoe was small, child sized.
I found it walking in the Baugo Creek woods.
There was only one.
The child must have been in midstep when he dematerialized.