Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 2010 Best Poetry List

So, old and new, what I read in 2010 and loved, in somewhat chronological order.

1. The Last 4 Things - Kate Greenstreet
2. What We Carry - Dorianne Laux
3. The Other Life - Herbert Scott
4. The Nervous Filaments - David Dodd Lee
5. A Mouth In California - Graham Foust
6. 40 Watts - C.D. Wright
7. The Difficult Farm - Heather Christle
8. With Deer - Aase Berg
9. Sky Booths In The Breath Somewhere: THE ASHBERY ERASURE poems - David Dodd Lee
10. Great Balls of Fire - Ron Padgett
11. Compulsions of Silk Worms and Bees: Poems - Julianna Baggott
12. Above All Else, The Trembling Resembles A Forest - Louise Mathias
13. Dance Dance Revolution: Poems - Cathy Park Hong
14. Garbage: A Poem - A.R. Ammons
15. The Lives of the Heart - Jane Hirschfield
16. Monolithos: Poems - Jack Gilbert
17. The Dance Most of All: Poems - Jack Gilbert
18. Collected Poems - James Schuyler
19. Watermark - Clayton Michaels
20. All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems - Linda Gregg
21. Orphan, Indiana - David Dodd Lee
22. Stories That Listen - Priscilla Becker
23. Bunny - Selima Hill
24. Above The River - James Wright

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gang Language

Another semester's finished (everyone passed everything) and the gang's all here. Tom & Mary & grand-cat Penny Lane slid down from Kalamazoo on Thursday; Jojo blew in from California last night; Gene put his out-of-office message on his e-mail and his phone. There are piles and pieces of living scattered everywhere. The grand-cat is leaping from bookshelf to bookshelf and stalking Jojo's turtles. Sylvia has already had to sit in her crate for being overly protective of Jo. Today, at last, we can all go and cut the Christmas tree. We're probably going to need bandaids. I looked this morning at my five pairs of scissors all lined up neatly in the kitchen drawer and said, nice knowing you. By this afternoon, they will all have disappeared. But who needs them? I can rip paper with my teeth. I have a thousand hands. In three weeks, when this is all over, I'll be ready for calm and order. Today, however, the chaos feels grand.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Early December

I had to wiggle out of bed this morning, my torso sandwiched between two large dogs. It's cold out. I'm watching another semester close. Jo will be home momentarily, or in a week. I should do all the baking ahead. Tom's car needs an alignment and new tires. I'm dreaming of Bisbee, Arizona, where I could get by with a jacket at night and short sleeves during the day. I would buy dishes from the Bisbee pottery lady when her shop is open and she's not somewhere else, stoned. Meanwhile, in Indiana, my grandfather is dying, the last one. I'm working my regular day and night job, where I learn that the woman who was murdered in Covert, her face was stuck to the pavement of Blue Star Highway after she had been run over three times by various cars. I used up all my strong emotions when I was younger. If the weather warms up I'll go to the park. I'll walk the dogs.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday Confessional

Elimae hound dog and I sit
waiting in our Honda behind
a pearl Impala with white
out-of-state plates at the Bank
of America ATM. For amber
waves, etc. The weather is
brilliant and biting. Some
kind of cold. A fine day to go
out and come in again. Elimae
draws on the window with her
hound dog nose. A good three
feet from the banking machine,
a woman leans out of the rear
window of the Impala. She's
up on her knees, fingers flying
over the keypad, pausing, folding
her hands together, closing her
eyes, bowing her head. Then an
eye opens. No luck. She begins
again. Three times before snatching
her card and a stream of paper
away from the machine. After
the Impala pulls away, I inch
forward, as close as I can to the
keypad, punch the buttons slowly,
keep my eyes open, steady my face.
Elimae hound dog watches a van
pull up behind us and bites at her toe.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Found Text Tuesday

What Do You Need To Know That For?

We wasn’t living together at the time.

I came home in excruciating pain and crying and vomiting

By the time the ambulance got there I was on the floor

The next thing I know I was in the bathroom on the floor with no clothes on, just throwing up and vomiting.

I had gone, you know, to try to get help for the spider bite.

He said for me to come back in three days so he can cut it out, cut the venom out, the germs out of me.

I had a child support case.

Why do you need to know all this pertaining to this case?

So did you do a background check on me?

I don't go around going to court and I don't go around getting cases to go to court.

I graduated from the university.

A B.S. or a B.A.? I don't remember all that. I'm 50 years old.

I didn't have any benefits.

It started ‑‑ I started having like a little bump on my ‑‑ my butt area. And then it started growing real, real fast, but big. It started feeling like a mountain or something, like a big knot. It just started growing fast.

I seen a spider and I also seen, like, big bugs or ‑‑ laying down, you know, just dead.

I told him I would be there, you know, waiting for him to come on the exact day he told me the spider man was going to come.

The spider man never came and knocked on my door. Never came and knocked on my door.

He had those 99 cents round stickers, the round deodorizer, he had them all outside the apartment building,

There was a foul odor in the apartment that he was covering up. And then you didn't know the odor was there until you moved in. And the odor was loud.

The odor seemed like it was bouncing off the walls.

It was just a foul, bad odor running around there.

I had to kill the spider.

After I got bit by the spider, I jumped up and moved.

He cut the poison out of me.

I went and I got cut two times. Right here in the buttocks. That's what they called it. That's where I was cut.

I didn't have any of that. I didn't have no blocked hair down there. I don't have no hair on my buttocks.

They cut on me and patched me up and sent me home.

They had commercials on TV saying two things you can die from. It says spider bite, spider bite, snake bite, and cigarettes.

The fire department came to $775.

Evidently there was some -- some babies in there somewhere to come back and bite me.

He didn't come knock on my door and that just crushed my whole life.

It was the most miserable time in my life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Poetry Reading at Grand Opening of MCA

Michiana Center for the Arts
113.5 East Lincoln Avenue
Goshen, IN 46528

Grand Opening Extravaganza

Friday, December 3, 6PM - Midnight

Jolly Jesters & Marching Band of Mirthful Miscreants
Poetry by Literary Arts Collective
(featuring Clayton Michaels, Nancy Botkin, Jen Stockdale & Charmi Keranen)
Short Films by Mid-America Filmmakers
Live Music by regional bands, including: Ivory West & Escaping Yesterday
Lasers by Chrish Wood
Discussion on socially-responsible community-oriented banking by Common Good Bank
All 12 MCA artists on hand to talk one-on-one about their work

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why They Need Me

Q. Are pneumatic tourniquets generally contraindicated in people who are morbidly oh geese?

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Rut

Tom & I stumbled across this fine fellow yesterday in Kalamazoo.
After awhile he bounded off, but Hello Ladies!
His scent was quite overpowering in the place where he had been standing.
A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lost In My Thought Forest

Mary startles me as she walks
into the room. She's a looker,
by God, that one. And smart,
too. She'll have a Bachelor
of something someday. I turn.
I have traded pert breasts for
a plump ass, two children, an
oven full of scones. Mary is
taking my firstborn. I like her.
I offer her a scone. We speak
of the ins and outs of baking.
I ask her, How much do you know?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Can Use The Colored Pencils Any Way You Choose

for Tom

It's a crap shoot, baby, which puts me
in mind of the drunk you saw at
the Kentucky Derby, reeling at the
door of the Port-A-John, a woman
helping him with his exit, his fly undone,
his dick hanging not nearly as spectacularly
as the way he fell head first into the waste
water runoff. The crowd groaned. In the
spirit of frankness I will say I approve
of shit in poems, of collective groans. I'm
tired of sighs and shufflings. Tell me again
about how Remy shat himself in the kitchen
and stopped drinking for three entire days.
I've got my colored pencils sharpened.
I like the color brown.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Choices Are

The mom:

Q. What do you do for a living?
A. Working.

The son:

Q. What grade are you in?
A. First.
Q. What's your favorite subject?
A. Animals.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Weather

Apparently, we've turned the corner. The weather feel more like pre-winter that delicious fall. The birds are all in a tizzy. Five bluebirds found their way to my walnut tree, four guys and a gal. She had it going on. Fourteen coots were swimming in Baugo Creek. Red bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers have returned to my suet feeders. The juncos are back, and the mourning dove, and the house finches. I saw the blue heron in Baugo Park. This is my consolation prize sent to counter the impending snow. Today on my walk I wore my gloves.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rouge Danube

Lazarus come rising at my flesh-hold door.

Lips parting. Face askew.

Teeth touching teacups.

His name a shade of rouge Danube.

We are standing in the deadfall.

We are gathering heart strings.

We are plucking eyes.

When our friends find us we tell them

The spring will likely kill you, but

He's lying. I'm lying, too.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Feverish In A Farmhouse

Despite my good behavior and best intentions, I've acquired what everyone else has been passing around, some sort of bug. It started with a miserable headache but now has evolved into a deliciously feverish, hazy feeling. I sort of like it because it seems to activate the poetry section of my brain, which often lies dormant. Is poetry a virus? Perhaps. It seems to elude me whenever I'm thinking straight.

While I was tossing feverish all night, Gene was dreaming we bought a wonderful farmhouse out in the country, perfect in every way, except the bedroom, which was full of bees. The window had rotted out and bees had built a large nest. The walls were full of bee holes. Ah, Freud, get out of my husband's brain. When I want to share him, I'll let you know.

But now I need books. I'm not happy with the books I have. I've ordered a couple, but I'd like to reanimate Frank Stanford. Or something. Dear Sandy, Hello looks good. The Selected Edna St. Vincent Millay is on its way, but I'm worried it will be boring. I'm chugging through Above the River, but it's slow going. Creeley is frustrating me. I'm in a mood. It will pass. Everything passes. The trick is to catch it as it's going by.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Linda Gregg - The 2010 Suggested Again

Earlier this year I started a 2010 suggested reading list of women poets and then promptly got off track. I wander. Life intervenes. But I'll slip back for a moment and mention Linda Gregg. Apologies ahead of time to my friend Clayton, who wants to commit violence to the Orpheus myth every time it is mentioned in poetry. I do understand. But just one more? Please? This is from All of It Singing.

Getting Down

The snake leads the way
to a place of absolutes
where no man can talk
you out of anything.
It's a place as real as
an empty pool in front
of the not-in-service-at-
this-time motel. Each
person has a secret world.
Places where nobody can
visit. Places we live in
after our death.
The temple on the hill
is abandoned. There's no one
even to light its lamp unless
I do it. Afterward, I fall
asleep on the warm stones.
Safe. In my dream I realize
the truth about Orpheus.
He never went far into
the dark before turning around.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On A Good Day

Baugo in the fall.
The bay is still a little dry.

Baugo on its way to join the St. Joe

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Lowering the St. Joe

Back home, they've lowered the river.
So much history here, and now, my son.

Tom, jumping over a tiny finger of Baugo Creek.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Helen Louise

I am thinking of Grandmother

who confessed to me at age 65

I have never spent one night alone.

She was standing in my doorway

and the light was falling. I was

saying you really don’t need to go.

But she did and was. There are

imperceptible moments when your

soul slips quietly into another room

while your body lingers. Mine did

and was. You find out later. I have

and do spend many nights alone.

Grandmother is long gone. She

never told me what she discovered,

whether she was frightened or contented,

whether she was at one when she

walked alone through her doorway

amongst her many rooms.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alum Cave Trail & Mt. LeConte

In the beginning.

The Alum Cave

The trail gets interesting.

And we climb.

And the fog rolls in.

And it keeps rolling.

And the trail becomes more interesting.

But five miles later we reach the Mt. LeConte Lodge.

Our back door.

The dining hall.

Front porch.

Other folks' cabins.

So it rained during the night.
We were treated to waterfalls on the hike back down.

Beautiful, but soaking wet feet.

All in all, absolutely worth it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Vine That Ate The South

We found our way up to the cabin in the dark last night.
A little scary.
(This isn't it. This is what I found on my morning walk. Kudzu.)
The power was out until two seconds after
Gene singed his eyebrows lighting the gas grill in the dark.
There was a flash of the grill igniting and then suddenly full power.
This morning there has been a bird outside screeching in the rain.
We don't know who.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Oh Very Young

The Finlander and I are heading out in the morning for a week long celebration of Anniversary 25, so I thought before we left I would run up to the Walmart, scan a few wedding pics, and post them on the blog. But the great American outpost has failed me. The clerk was happy to scan away those pics of Gene and I looking oh very young and somewhat dazed, but she couldn't quite grasp the technology of simply saving them to my thumb drive without making prints. You'll have to use your imagination. We were stunning, perky, etc. Ah, well.

I'm going to have to use my imagination, too, it seems, to envision it. I feel like a woman out of context, looking at those pictures. It was September 28th, 1985, late in the afternoon, 4-something, I think. The temperature was mild. The skies were blue. I remember the wedding invitations read, "Hear ye, hear ye, it has been proclaimed," etc. Later, there was dancing & drinking & smoking, etc. The next day I remember thinking, well, this will be an adventure. Yes, indeed. And now here we are in an entirely different context, wondering what the next 25 years will bring.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I'm loving James Schuyler Collected Poems, loving the ease with which he narrates/navigates. Here's a piece from The Morning of the Poem.

This Dark Apartment

Coming from the deli
a block away today I
saw the UN building
shine and in all the
months and years I've
lived in this apartment
I took so you and I
would have a place to
meet I never noticed
that it was in my view.

I remember very well
the morning I walked in
and found you in bed
with X. He dressed
and left. You dressed
too. I said, "Stay
five minutes." You
did. You said, "That's
the way it is." It
was not much of a surprise.

Then X got on speed
and ripped off an
antique chest and an
air conditioner, etc.
After he was gone and
you had changed the
Segal lock, I asked
you on the phone, "Can't
you be content with
your wife and me?" "I'm
not built that way,"
you said. No surprise.

Now, without saying
why, you've let me go.
You don't return my
calls, who used to call
me almost every evening
when I lived in the coun-
try. "Hasn't he told you
why?" "No, and I doubt he
ever will." Goodbye. It's
mysterious and frustrating.

How I wish you would come
back! I could tell
you how, when I lived
on East 49th, first
with Frank and then with John,
we had a lovely view of
the UN building and the
Beekman Towers. They
were not my lovers, though.
You were. You said so.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Owls & Trees

A new house is going up across the street.
I like the sounds of house building, but still
I imagine that all those years ago
I should have planted many more trees.
In other news, the barred owl is still hooting, but I haven't seen him,
despite being outside in the middle of the night, in my pajamas, with a flashlight.
Some cooperation would be appreciated.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Who Cooks For You?

A good bird week.

A barred owl has found a resting place in our tiny woods. All week long he's been calling, Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all? Gene heard him first, but now I've heard him, too. Of course I want to see him! The dogs and I also found a green heron fishing in Baugo Park several days in a row by the duckweed pond and Gene and I saw a blue heron fishing over at Cobus Creek Park. Can I write the barred owl in my bird watching book if I only heard him? It was unmistakable. He's the only one that cooks for you. Hmm...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

As You Were Seeing Him

Q. I think we have to take Mr. R. as you were seeing him.
A. I think that I assessed Mr. R. as I assess all my patients, as a total human being with other organs besides a heart.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Lying Into Fall

Fall. Everyone is back in school, the house is empty & I've been fortunate enough to borrow some books that engage me to the nth degree. I give thanks to the book lending gods that happen upon my way. Last week Jack Gilbert's Monolithos gave my mind motion. Love this:

Poetry Is A Kind Of Lying

Poetry is a kind of lying,
necessarily. To profit the poet
or beauty. But also in
that the truth may be told only so.

Those who, admirably, refuse
to falsify (as those who will not
risk pretensions) are excluded
from saying even so much.

Degas said he didn't paint
what he saw, but what
would enable them to see
the thing he had.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Coming and Going

On a very happy note, I have a couple of poems up at Ouroboros Review. And, because life is sometimes like that, this issue, No. 5, will be their last issue unless someone steps up and screams, please, please, I want to edit an online journal. I guess we'll wait and see.

It's a very nice issue, though. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Seige

August & we're in the heat of it. If you're not, good for you. I've been working and playing, neglecting the blog, growing volunteer pumpkins & drinking sangria, for goodness sake. What's a girl to do? My yard has been commandeered by squatting pumpkins! Pictures of the seige soon.

In the meantime, not everyone is working/playing: The Recession.

September, I'd like to have a meeting with you.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You Shall Not Pass!

Up Baugo Creek
The Washington Street Bridge is out.
All the way out.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hirshfield & Intention

I saw Jane Hirshfield on some show or another that I've now forgotten, because my mind holds too many things (this is why we have houses, so that they can hold the things our minds no longer have room for, but are still important. Perhaps this is why we write, too), but nonetheless I liked her and thought I would pick up some of her poetry. The Lives of the Heart is what I settled on.

Studying Wu Wei, Muir Beach

There are days when you go
out into the bright spring fields
with the blue halter, the thick length
of rope with its sky-and-cloud braiding,
even the bucket of grain--
all corn-and-molasses sweetness,
the maraca sound of shaken seduction--
and the one you have gone for simply will not be caught.
It could be that the grass that day is too ripe.
It could be the mare who comes over, jutting her body
between his and yours. It could be
the wild-anise breeze that wanders in and out of his mane.
He might nip at the smallest mouthful,
but your hands' slight rising -- no matter how slow,
how cautious -- breaks him away.
He doesn't have to run, though he knows he could.
Knows he is faster, stronger, less tied.
He knows he can take you or leave you in the dust.
But set aside purpose, leave the buckles and clasps
of intention draped over the fence, come forward
with both hand fully exposed, and he greedily eats.
Allows you to fondle his ears, scratch his neck, pull out
the broken half-carrot his soft-folded lips accept
tenderly from your palm. The mare edges close, and he
lays back one ear; the other stays pricked toward you,
in utmost attention. Whatever you came for,
this is what you will get: at best, a tempered affection
while red-tails circle and lupine shifts in the wind.
It is hard not to want to coerce a world that
takes what it pleases and walks away, but Do not-doing,
proposed Lao-tsu -- and this horse. Today the world is tired.
It wants to lie down in green grass and stain its grey shoulders.
It wants to be left to study the non-human field,
to hold its own hungers, not yours, between its teeth.
Not words, but the sweetness of fennel. Not thought,
but the placid rituals of horse-dung and flies.
Nuzzling the festive altars from plantain to mustard,
from budded thistle to bent-stemmed rye. Feasting and flowering
and sleeping in every muscle, every muzzle, every bone it has.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Seney Sandhill Cranes

A trip to the U.P. isn't complete without a stop at
The Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
We found this pair of sandhill cranes at the entrance.
I could have stayed all day.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Parade in Gay

We packed up our troubles (Elimae & Sylvia) and headed for the Keweenaw.
Elimae looking for shade in Gay.

Gene's cousin Ron, the law in the Keweenaw.

A belligerent princess, demanding everyone
"Have a Happy 4th of July."

Small troubles.

Gladys White

And The Pimps

Best parader.

I'm thinking about it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Young Pups

Our friend Robert, holding the new pup Elimae.
Jocelyn, holding the almost-new pup Sylvia.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Water Log

We'll call Summer 2010 the Water Log. So much and yet so little going on. I feel like a woman waiting patiently for no one to arrive. In between the raindrops and the oil reports, I've been reading many so-so books of poetry. There are a few exceptions, which I've posted, but mostly it's, why post the so-so? I've been writing, too, but my writing also feels so-so, or not quite authentic, or something along those lines. Apathy might be the word I'm looking for.

Despite the rain and the apathy, however, I've been walking the dogs. After we put Max behind us, we adopted another Pet Refuge dog, a s36-pound slip of a girl, sweet and loving, nine months old, without an agressive bone in her body, unless you're a fly. She is Elimae. She and Sylvia the Weim and I have been tearing up the walking paths twice a day. I can't be sure, but I think my butt may be acquiring some tone.

I've also become intrigued by Twitter, not necessarily the tweeting part, but the being tweeted. I found the The Poetry Channel a few days ago, which apparently has all sorts of videos of poets reading. It might be worth a perusal. Here's today's offering: Michael Rosen. I appreciate his passion, you know, his animation.

Today I'm writing a poem that features Paul Bunyan and Little Bo Peep in a Peach Orchard. That's how the summer is going to go.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mathias & Trembling

A few weeks ago I went on a book buying binge, ordering some 20-odd new and used titles, but family life has been so busy I haven't really had time to talk about the treasures I've found. I think now, however, I have a moment to take a poetic turn.

Louise Mathias has a new chap out, Above All Else, the Trembling Resembles a Forest, from Burnside Review Press. The entire chap is wonderful, but I suppose the following is my favorite. So hard to choose!

Sea Crimes

Now listen to me good. To be dreaming
of the cove, the light pink cottage
that was always on the edge. This being the year

my jeans fell from my frame. You said I was close to God
but he wouldn't concur. Weeds

grew up on bales of clean white salt. All summer
everyone wondered

where I lived, watched the carpenter ants on the rocks.
When I wasn't in my body, I was dead. Cops

circled, paraphernalia swirled
inside my lonely purse.

There was nothing to do but wait.
Contraband, will you
turn to silk again? Tilt his white, Atlantic
throat up

to the shy shy-eyed puffins?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Beach Stones

The weather gods favored us during the five days Tom was home.
The clouds parted and the temperature dropped into bearable range.
We were able to make our annual trip to the Central Avenue Beach
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
At 11 a.m., we were the only ones there.
Jocelyn is the stone skipper.
Tom is the stone retriever.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Treaty of Everlasting

God might show up

Beside the river

I'm undressing our throes

You are pouring
Cold agate mourning against a glass bowl

It's leaking

I am
More time than trembling

A basket of holding inside
A legion of siege

Tonight, god willing

We will flay mackerels

We will spit in the eyes of anemones

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Down to Humboldt County

Tide pool at Harris Beach State Park, Oregon
Great egret at the Arcata Marsh, Arcata, CA

Roosevelt Elk on the on ramp to Hwy. 101

Apparently trying to hitch hike

Praire Creek Redwood Park



We took a nice three-hour hike through a redwood grove we hadn't been to before.
Last night, we received the first report from Tom. He was seasick his first day
on the cruise. They kept a bucket offstage in case he had to run off to puke.
His first gig is backing up a puppet! Sounds like the big time...