Monday, December 28, 2009

[poem was here]

Kim Novak

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Calm Down, Blanche

Saturday, December 19, 2009

by Joanna Penn Cooper and Todd Colby

[poem was here]

Joanna Newsom

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pema Chödrön

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don't get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It's a very tender, non-aggressive, open-ended state of affairs."

Pema Chödrön, Buddhist nun


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If I can make myself grade all these finals, I get to go hang out with my family for a while.   


Monday, December 14, 2009

Some Friendly Advice

Friday, December 11, 2009

by Joanna Penn Cooper and Todd Colby

[poem was here]

Thinking of going off sugar (again)

Friday, December 11, 2009


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off-- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."

--Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Seu Jorge

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bushwick Reading Series

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I'm reading at the Bushwick Public Library on Saturday with some great writers. You can find more information here. And I've recommended two books on their blog.

Five Questions for Todd Colby

Monday, December 07, 2009

Todd Colby has published four books of poetry: Ripsnort (1994), Cush (1995), Riot in the Charm Factory: New and Selected Writings (2000), and Tremble & Shine (2004), all published by Soft Skull Press. Todd has performed his poetry on PBS and MTV, and his collaborative books and paintings with artist David Lantow can be seen in the Brooklyn Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art special collections libraries. Todd serves on the Board of Directors for The Poetry Project, where he has also taught several poetry workshops, and he posts new work on gleefarm.blogspot.com.

Hi, Todd! Thanks for being my inaugural interview. Tell me, what is the last thing you ate?

I just at a perfectly ripened banana that I purchased from Trader Joe's when it was still rather green earlier in the week.

Todd, what's a poet? I sometimes think that if I were better at some other kind of art, I wouldn't have to mess around with words. It's a funny thing to do, isn't it?

A poet is someone who receives a visceral energy from words. Words to a poet are units of energy that can be combined in various ways so as to create a sensation in those people with properly tuned receiving mechanisms. H.D. examined this in Notes on Thought and Vision. She thought that just two or three people with that power could change the world. I also think messing around with words just makes good economic sense. Having lived with a painter in the past, I know how expensive and messy it can be. So the fact that I can sit and write without a dime in my pocket while wearing a delicate writing jacket and not worry about getting it stained makes me very happy.

If you were going to prescribe a ritual to jump start my creativity and/or joie de vivre, what would it be? Would it involve speaking in funny voices?

I can only speak for myself here, but coffee is my jump starter. In fact, I'm writing this under the influence of that marvelous drug right now. I also think it is important to think about a person you'd like to address with the poem you're working on. It makes it more intimate and personal and you wind up saying things in the poem that you otherwise might not have if you were just looping around in your own head all day. Epistolary poetry in particular makes me very happy for some reason. Those fake letters of Dylan's in Tarantula or Alice Notley's many forays into that mode have all made life a little more bearable for me, which is the best thing you can say about poetry, or pretty much anything for that matter.

Yeah, I love how that happens-- how discovering that someone else's sensibilities overlap with yours does, in fact, make life more bearable somehow. Humor can be a big part of that for me. Can you talk about humor as a practice or technique for you? Do you ever think, "OK, I have to be funny enough to find my way into a complex area, but not so funny that I keep everything else at a distance?"

Humor in a poem makes it very personal for me. The tone, that is. But it has to be laced with something slightly acidic and even frightening to make it really work, at least for me. That said, I think Ron Padgett's poems have the perfect amount of levity and erudition. Joe Brainard also encapsulates that aesthetic for me quite well. I think humor in this context helps me not take myself too seriously, though I do, it's just that the self has to be laughed at or with now and again or else everything just feels like it totally sucks after awhile, and let's be truthful, it does. Humor is a good masking agent!

When is your next book coming out? How do you think it will it be different from your previous books?

I'm not sure. I need to talk to a couple more publishers who have expressed interest. The new book has a slightly different tone than any that came before. But it's a tone of craft and expertise that strikes me as my most seasoned writing ever. I can come back to the poems I've written over the last 3 years or so again and again and they just unfold in so many ways each time I revisit them. It's almost like someone else wrote them! Anyway, hopefully a new book will be out sooner than later.

Archibald MacLeish, We Love You!

Friday, December 04, 2009

by Joanna Penn Cooper and Todd Colby

Or maybe it's D. W. Winnicott we love.
Kindly squints and black ties make us strangely happy,
if we ever have been happy, which probably we were in childhood
when we learned to tells lies and walk around with our faces.

"Big whoop" was all we could muster. Our muscles bent
over thick bones. We were all forecast and goldenrod, mobile as dice,
really nothing more than fungal, but feisty and robust and always
nipping at the bus standing on the bridge fat and skinny

This was life. This was being alive, a cloud of knowing
not-knowing. A cloud of counting the barks of a chained
dog for messages. Bark twice if you hear me speaking
to you in my head. Bark! Bark! Moderate swing tempo.

Water is good for the lungs. If you hear me singing it could be
someone asking you to come home or twist into a new shape.
The circumstances are clear though the results are not always available.
I am steady as a gutter. I am lifted and profane. I lack only lack.

By "someone" I mean all the poets everywhere, I mean friends
on screened-in porches, sparklers in their faces, caught
in complex thinking of their own. I'm steady at my swinging table.
I'll draw it for you. Listen.

By "lifting" my head I can see what people are doing to me. There are
windswept fields with dried matter blowing everywhere. You are there.

Suddenly it's early December

Friday, December 04, 2009

Wings of Desire

Monday, November 30, 2009

From Dana Levin's poem "Working Methods"

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I was falling asleep, wondering how to describe a poet’s studio, when a voice said, “You have to be your own absence, with fifty percent deity.”

woke up with: I false—into arrangement; am out of it—deranged—

woke up with: hurry up is flamboyant and resolutional—

woke up with: as the ask progresses to a tiny new yes—

My friend Dan says: Listen—Record—Orchestrate.

Wednesday Top Ten

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

1. Little dog stretching his middle for easy grasping.
2. Gazebo and brown leaves.
3. Preternatural toddlers.
4. Diagonal geese.
5. Some kids running and yelling in a field, forming different patterns as they moved about.
6. Red chard, sweet potatoes, and etc.
7. Duende.
8. Discussions: Small prose and the realistic surreal; Walpole and canes.
9. How branches organize the mind.
10. Anticipatory breathing.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Andy Goldsworthy

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bon Iver weather

Monday, November 16, 2009

Postcard to a Better Place

Friday, November 13, 2009

(for Christian)

Even though my grandfather said, Don't talk about doing something, just do the thing, I will tell you that I was excited to come home and put on socks. I came home and put on socks after I spoke at length to an honors student. I talked and talked. I talked about "the Other." I talked about the difference between the word affect and the word effect. I told her, Affect can also be a noun. She had a very flat affect, and I tried to make my face look blank. The student looked at me. Then I talked some more. Before I came home and put on socks, I stopped for wine. I stopped for yogurt. I got to my apartment and washed my hands, then checked Facebook. I followed a link that led me to a slideshow of 15 ugly celebrity men who date out of their league. Jack White I understand. Kid Rock I do not. Several others I wasn't familiar with. Once, years ago, I had a dream in which I stood in front of a screen onto which images were being projected, and I performed a monologue that brought all the pieces together but that also let them keep sliding around like ice floes. I am thinking now that it may actually be possible to pray without ceasing. All of life is a meditation, the man said. What are you meditating on? I am meditating on my iPhone and the messages it might bring me. I'd like some good news. In the meantime, there is this photo of the mother of one of my brother's high school friends. The woman is pictured on her birthday. I have never met her. Whatever has brought her to this point, in this photo, at least, she looks happy.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

I only know its outsized bow was treacherous upon the mind.

Little boots of leather. Bootie things with bitten toes.

All that gathered taffeta and ribbon.

Who would buy a twelve year-old such a thing knowing

she desires it. Clay faced pallor and deadpan eyes

the power of such a bow, such a girl and little boots.

Another Side of Bob Dylan

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

(Thanks, Annmarie.)

Trinh Minh-Ha

Monday, November 02, 2009

It is probably difficult for a "normal," probing mind to recognize that to seek is to lose, for seeking presupposes a separation between the seeker and the sought, the continuing me and the changes it undergoes. --Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Woman, Native, Other

Doug as Joseph B.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

(for Doug Steward)

I guess you're in your airplane now, having chosen a ritual leather helmet and a bearskin rug for ceremonial reverb. You crash you in the steppes and your hooded tribespeople rush out in fur days later to retrieve you. Sometimes it is minutes and sometimes it is days. I don't want to rush you, but I blow gently from far away, a near stranger's pursed lips, and all your friends blowing red candles into flame in imaginary chapels everywhere. We float you and you heal you. It's all you. Your voice telling me things in my kitchen, conversational, before I remember. You've wandered out beyond us, your brother's rib a thread tied to your rib. We'll see you when you're back. No one is alone.

Weekend Top Ten

Monday, October 26, 2009

1. Twelve-hour "nap." (Is it morning or night?)
2. Japanese food.
3. Robert Thurman talk.
4. Staying in the gaze.
5. Kind words from friends about poems.
6. A friend who can respond to his name! and talk! A friend who can walk up stairs!
7. Brooklyn walk. Skeletons and stuff.
8. When my brother thinks something's really funny, his laugh sounds just like it did when he was five.
9. Getting reading done on the subway.
10. Shark week. Costumes optional.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some days I wake up blessed but go to sleep
far from grace. Other days, the opposite.

The crazy guy in the courtyard doing his crazy
laugh. What’s that about? Babylon.

There’s so much I don’t know.
I don’t sit on my fire escape. I like a nice bench

now and again. A view of the water. Where
is my life. By the rivers of Babylon

the US military lay down camp Alpha
rolling over everything.

What have I learned or forgotten?
Doing what I can for the people.

If I knew the words for music,
I would make some.

Nancy Spero

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

("The Bomb." Image from artcritical.com)

This is from her NY Times obituary:

Kiki Smith, one of the many younger artists influenced by Ms. Spero, once said in an interview: “When I first saw Nancy Spero’s work, I thought, ‘You are going to get killed making things like that; it’s too vulnerable. You’ll just be dismissed immediately.’ ”


Good journey, Nancy.

Oh, Robert. Oh, Duncan.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

He's all like, "My Mother Would Be a Falconress."

("Poems about Birds.")

Wise Up

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Always good advice.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Check out Karen Dietrich's poems. Also, I like the way this guy says the word "smoke."

Wednesday at the Met

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fall poem

Monday, October 05, 2009

[poem was here]

Do You Smell Smoke?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Apply this soothing gel made from roots and branches
to your forearms when you wake up warrior style
and run fist-first to the kitchen in your sleep.
I'll buy you almond croissants and hum
to you in my pretty good pitch. You are falling asleep
and chuckling sweetly when you think of me
I'm taking pictures of you sleeping and posting
them on Facebook. I know you don't mind
so I break into your house while you're out
and teach myself the bass.
Don't worry about that smoke smell
it's just my gentleness you're loving.

Dream Amelia

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If there's a word for Listen
meaning taken aloft and calm

A sinuous mechanical straightness
All the close-set statuary below


Monday, September 28, 2009

Freight Train, Elizabeth Cotten

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Buffy Sainte-Marie on Sesame Street

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Good night, Inwood

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Good night remembering to bless my toast and jam.

Good night trees out there in upper Manhattan where Jim Carroll used to be. Good night one tree in Isham Park that spreads its branches out benevolent like that, so that I greeted it the day after he died and said, "And goodbye, Jim. I feel you there."

Good night lit-up dark in my bedroom.

Good night noise under my sink. Whatever you are, you'd better git.

Good night perfect pitch.

Good night imagined photographs.

Good night "poems or prose poems or prose?"

Good night ringing ear.

Good night traffic noise.

Good night Kronos Quartet.

Good night boy I saw being bullied on his way to the library. (Going to the lie-bary again? You're always going to the lie-bary.) Good night library boy. Good night.

Postdoc, lunch

Friday, September 25, 2009

(Or, I spent my lunch half-hour trying to get a good quasi-religious
iconic baby carrot photo of myself in my new temporary office.)

Ruth Stone!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ruth Stone

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autumn now

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My body its own

First the well
of me-not me
coming full and then
bare tree
of goodness

Found us here
swapping slow light
breath like very
small children
their soft bones
and looking


Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Female Gaze

Saturday, September 05, 2009

This exhibition is excellent.

Joanna Newsom

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Thursday, September 03, 2009

A very short poem of mine has just been published in the recent issue of elimae. Also check out poems by my friends Douglas Piccinnini and Mary-Catherine Jones in the same issue!

From the High Line

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Clif's like, "Stereolab."

I would like to offer myself a free reading

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

1. Whether or not to take the white fox pup to the beach will be unclear. But squat down and look unassuming and the creature comes right to you.

2. You will wake to the sounds of cars and 1 train moving inexorably forward. You will think, "It sounds like the ocean. But not as good as the ocean."

3. You will be rated on enthusiasm, clarity, and appropriate difficulty. Those doing the rating will have work of their own to do. Alchemical shifts all around.

4. Where's your savoir faire now, ma chère?

5. Strap on your aging black Pumas and go.

Two from today

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Thursday, August 27, 2009

In Which I Try Again to Write Straight Lyric

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Am I a lamb of God?
I forget

But there is this:
A woman--
her face appears
washed in spirit

Dead Man's Bones

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ryan Gosling's band! Thanks, Mr. Gosling.

And I’ll be happy here and happy there

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Combing Brooklyn for cheese and noticings,
stooping down to let others roll over my back,
in that move where others roll over your back. All
the light! A heaven of built-in bookcases and souvenir
textiles. Friends' unsettling art unhinged us
in a soothing way, a tonic way. I guess I discovered
stacked heels that year. Maneuverings of the body
clicking things new. Someone’s hand reaching out
to turn the coffee on for me.

Today is Bad Poetry Day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

[Inspired both by Bad Poetry Day and by DP's instruction to "write the worst poem." It sort of took a bad/interesting turn . . .]


Tonight the soft cow's nose of evening creeps in like small children in velvet slippers with loving but strange intentions.

A sudden burst of gladness at the shore, the sea kissing the mud, the black dog with his eyebrows and white muzzle kissing the sea.

Twilight and the ghosts are waking up.

Muzzle of chill, scarf of chill, mantle of damp.

Canada evening. How unlikely.

Green, flaking

Monday, August 17, 2009

(Great Village, Nova Scotia)

Damned if you don't see
a small wooden entrance
happening to the sky
draws the heart
gut up like
Kentucky once

A gentle, auditory, slow hallucination

Monday, August 17, 2009

In this dream, Douglas plays organ, pumping pedals to bring air up like feet proceeding up the stairs, so that from the kitchen I hear both a walker up stairs and a player of organ. Stops the mind. He is playing slow Eno music, learning to play softer, then veering into inspiration, calling out a plea to sinners then. It's the dream where I'm walking the moonlit macadam, and where's the moon? It's only stars and dark road, and is that really the Milky Way? Why didn't I know enough of something? Greek drama or astronomy?

Kick Some Ass

Monday, August 17, 2009

(For TC)

I may have certain failings, sitting on the couch
in my pink striped at-home monkey shorts, having slept
half the day, having been kept awake by mini-
tasks and imaginings the entire goddamned night. The mind,
I have read, is an imp of perversity. On less nervous days,
someone could say that to me and I would smile my cute wondering
smile with only one small cute furrow in my brow. Someone
mostly very kind, who has been a fan for years, could say, “Whose
mind? You know? I mean . . . whose . . . mind?”
and it wouldn’t make me sob in annoyance. I want
you to know that whatever my failings, you’ve made it
into my choreography when I’m standing on the subway platform
and a jaunty song comes up on shuffle. My friends and I are doing
a synchronized dance we would do in our musical
or the musical we would pretend to be in. Two or three of us
start with micro-movements, jazzy and movie-bohemian. Then
we break into larger Sharks-and-Jets-type gestures. It’s beautiful
how we bend at the knees at the same time and twirl like that
and raise our arms at different times, with emphatic dance hands.
Toward the end you are the one, most recently, who grabbed me
around the waist, your head pointing downward, so that we did a two-
person cartwheel, my feet on the ground, then your
feet on the ground, then my feet on the ground. We made it look
so effortless. And FUN! Sometimes when I look like I’m frowning
at you, I’m thinking about how few people make it into
my choreography and how impossible it would be to tell you
what it means to me to add one more. So, I’ll try to kick some ass.
I trust you on this.

The Awful Truth

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Sunday, August 09, 2009

I remember that some people had pictures of Jesus in their houses or talked about Jesus a lot or about whether things were sins. Maybe they were Baptists. We never talked about Jesus. We were Lutherans, except really we were nothing because we never went to church. I was only Lutheran when I stayed with my grandmother. Even then, she and I would go to Lutheran church one weekend and Catholic church the next because she was thinking things over.

One Baptist lady, some kid's mother, asked me on the stairs if I was a woman yet. I said, "Uh, no. I'm only ten." Then the kid whispered, "She means did you get your period yet." And I said, "I'm only ten." The woman gave me a smug smile and told me that her daughter-- a strangely polite girl with short curly brown hair-- was already a woman. I felt bad for the girl for that and for having that mother. I felt bad for Jesus, looking out over our heads as we stood there on the stairs in a duplex down the road from my apartment building.

Splendor in the Grass

Sunday, August 09, 2009

In high school, I watched this movie on video so many times that I once dreamed the whole thing. (Written by William Inge; directed by Elia Kazan.)

Ten from Friday

Saturday, August 08, 2009

1. Had a dream I bought Newman-O's for my writing group, so I bought Newman-O's for my writing group.

2. Lovely people writing about (a) a white leather jacket; (b) a horse falling asleep with its head in your hand; (c) the strange ubiquity of the king of Sweden.

3. My friend Manders on the phone. The strangest things make us laugh.

4. "Orbit the earth watching tv" until it all blows over.

5. If I had stayed on the F train, I would have gotten to Roosevelt Island. What's it like there, anyway?

6. Brick oven pizza, a glass of red wine, arugula salad with shaved parmesan. The way the sky looked in that back garden in Brooklyn.

7. "Puff the Magic Dragon" in sudden hushed, professional-sounding harmony from the next table. Sung by four adults to one small girl so bashfully pleased she couldn't move even her eyes.

8. Working with negativity, Pema-style.

9. Poet-brothers. Brother-brother.

10. If I don't oversleep on Monday, I'll be on my way to Nova! Scotia!


Thursday, August 06, 2009

In conjunction with a writing residency in Great Village, Nova Scotia, I'll give a poetry reading with my friend Douglas Piccinnini next week. The reading is sponsored in part by the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia. If you are in Nova Scotia next week, we'd love to see you there!

I Am Moving Inexorably toward My Goal

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I am using an extremely powerful and whisper quiet system of pumps
and pulleys and reverb. I am doing what I can for the people seven days
a month. I am wearing the sneakers and general store overalls of my
youth imaginary pigtails and a mystical look of utter calm and delight
that very few have seen. My Genius floats above my head in bubbles
of confusion and jauntiness. By Genius, I mean homunculus, I mean
the distinct possibility that I will either walk straight out the door
and take the subway to Coney Island to ride the Cyclone alone in a sort
of wedding ceremony between me and my Higher Self, or that
I will eat ice cream and cherries for dinner, then lie on my side
and whimper for a while for the people, all of them.
These words mean very little. To my biggest fans
and enemies, they may mean slightly more.

Arcade Fire

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Monday, August 03, 2009

"I've never felt particularly homeless, but, then, I've never felt particularly at home. I guess that's a pretty good description of a poet's sense of home. [S]he carries it with [her]."

--Elizabeth Bishop

If My Inheritance Were Visible to the Naked Eye

Friday, July 31, 2009

The man on the subway in dirty white Converse would turn
sudden, still holding a rolled flier under his nose like a mustache,
to click like the clasp of an old pocketbook on the dust of golden

around my body, forming the shape of an egg.
But how full of biography we are today! reading
book club fiction on our journey, tears and banjos

welling up. My vita, I’ll tell you, is this: I read a book
about Stamford, Connecticut, and within a week I’m there.
When I put on sparkle eyes, enunciate in round tones

from the diaphragm, people shiver and sigh
and feel comforted. At times, I feel up to it.
So that’s pretty much what I’m dealing with.

Martha Wainwright

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ginsberg said:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Observe what's vivid."

Me and him

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Thursday, July 23, 2009

All the Little Eyelets Maybe

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I watch the haunted places before bed.
I eat natural chips. We learn the lady,
the witch of the house, her green brocade,
her chandelier. Things around the house drop.
Refrigerator fan, Blair Witch frog.
Ink on our fingers we float like that.
Call our spirits Keep us still.

This is where I am

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Waking by Theodore Roethke

Thursday, July 16, 2009

(translated into Chinese and back into English and then into Dutch and back into English)

I to awake sleep, and inspects me awakes well to awake slowly. I feel myself the impossible in no matter what destiny that I gemaa frightened have kt. Where I can the academic society go by my. We thought by the feeling. What has it knew? I hear myself am the dancing of the ear to the ear. I awake sleep, and inspect myself well to awake slowly. These this way dense surrounding me, is you? The god blesses the ground! I will run there, gently and where the academic society can go by my. The tree approves slightly; But can tell who how our? The records maggot climb the trede on circles; I awake sleep, and inspect myself well to awake slowly. For this reason have of course very do another question to you and I, inspect living air, and, lief, the treads where academic society well to go. The ultrasound this maintains I regular is. I would have know it. No matter what always leaves of. And dichtbijgelegen. I awake sleep, and inspect myself well to awake slowly. Where I can the academic society go by my.

View from yesterday's accommodations

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

(Thanks, e.!)

Helen Levitt

Friday, July 10, 2009


Friday, July 10, 2009

(poem made up of other people's lines)

Almost impossible for a girl, a woman
to myself all day like a fieldful of August
so green to say goodbye to

Egg Meditation: A Prose Poem

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sometimes she would lie on the floor sort of meditating, gathering a kind of strength and also letting her mind drift. Often as she lay there, she would see a tree on a hill and then herself under the tree and then a sort of forcefield of energy radiating out from her in the shape of an egg. The egg, she could tell, was both protection and a field connecting her to the tree, the hill, everything else. She would breathe there in her egg, making it brighter and stronger, letting it make her brighter and stronger. But she knew she mustn’t hold too tightly to it, or to the idea of it, or think to much about it, or even talk about it later to others. Otherwise, she would separate herself from it and from the protection/connection it offered. And then up would float Veruca Salt, grasping for a golden egg, a little girl in white tights and yowl, transformed in her desire. And who wants to be Veruca? You relished her falling down that bad egg chute. You found yourself wanting her to suffer, even as the Oompa Loompas sang and gloated, gloated and sang. But, really, we’re all Veruca; we’re all the egg; we’re all the gloating Oompa Loompas. Have some compassion, she thought, still on the hill. Have some compassion for your own white tights; your own orange song; your own golden glow.

Rita Hayworth

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Is It Tuesday?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

It's Tuesday July sun on the brick wall through the grate
the kind of bird that screams and the kind that sings and
the kind that squawks are out there, going. Someone
is camping somewhere. This is the kind of nature
poem where I sit on my couch and eat sprouted bread
and honey off a blue speckled camping plate. Lots
of slamming, the building is falling to med students,
roaches. Soon I will get on the 1 and take it down
to uptown. I'll walk across the park and get adjusted
in those spaces I can't see, where ligament connects
to whatever ligament connects to. Me, joanna penn
cooper, born in a garage, walking straight
to the Upper East Side to get my butt muscles adjusted.
The squawk, the call, the chirpchirpchirp
this is me showing out in New York City.

Birthday Top Ten

Sunday, June 28, 2009

(1) Morning yoga on a covered bridge with five friends.
(2) Nap in friend's B&B room.
(3) Good lecture on "poetry of exile." Learned a lot about Mahmoud Darwish.
(4) Mary-Catherine driving us through heavy rain to go to Concord, NH and buy a karaoke machine. Discussion of the expression "The devil is beating his wife." I didn't even realize it was southern. (Plus, I always forget and think, "God is beating his wife.")
(5) Friends creating a spa-like experience at MC's cool house in the woods (including a bath in a claw-foot bathtub with a view of sunset, river, and tall pointy trees). Birthday ablutions!
(6) Douglas' cucumber salad and "candy" drink.
(7) Reading a Raymond Carver story out loud with Chella.
(8) Birthday card with cat with boxing gloves.
(9) Karaoke (including horrible/wonderful rendition of "I Will Always Love You" and "Wind Beneath My Wings" with Chella and Emily).
(10) Waking up to the sound of the river.

Birthday river, birthday bridge

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I started my 38th year by doing morning yoga on this covered bridge with poet and yoga teacher Kazim Ali and four other poet friends. (Contoocook River, Henniker, NH)

Little Mike

Friday, June 26, 2009

Letter Home from Camp

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My t-shirt smells of rose cannabis and wobble so far
I’ve fallen in love with turtledove, rain-bright leaves, and the pure
leaning empty of locking oneself out of the dorm, walking phoneless
through a fine mist. I will report some appropriate unfurling, some
soft green steadying. Next time, our greeting should be
You are love and please understand my only deficiency is one tight
hip muscle and a constant desire for tomatoes in any form. So
tomorrow maybe sun gazpacho a chewy darkness of lovely hum.

Lorrie Moore still surprises me

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Open your mouth, it might betray you with lies, with lackadaise, with moods and speak not your own. The things you were saying might be old radio programs bounced off the foil of your molars, or taxi calls fielded by the mussely glove of your ear. What you described as real might be only a picture, something from Life magazine you were forced to live out, after the photography, in imitation. Whole bodies, perhaps, could be ventriloquized. Approximated. You could sit on the lap of a thing and just move your lips. You could become afraid. You could become afraid someone was making you afraid: a new fear, like a gourmet's, a paranoid's paranoia.

This was not the future. This was what was with you now in the house.

--Lorrie Moore, from "Like Life"


Friday, June 19, 2009

There Were So Many People in the World This Morning

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm just out the door and picking my way
down the slippery steps when a small hooded boy
dashes ahead of me into the rain
making wolforaptor motions and singing,
"EVerywhere! EVerywhere! EVerywhere!"

The Age of Wonders

Thursday, June 18, 2009

(by Todd Colby and Joanna Penn Cooper)

Well, I guess I'm abject or whatever, waking up at night to study my leg
in the mirror. Telling myself there are no great storm flags, only cloth
and dye. Only impersonal wind and small electric feelings in the spine
and skull, where a body can get some work done and then sleep.
One of us would go, "Do you know how many years I've been hearing
you say that?" Like almost as mysterious as not saying it anymore
which is when you curled into a ball and bloomed. In our spare time when we're done terrifying ourselves we cultivate our breath in separate rib cages, triangulating birdsong from our locations across town. But what is such math and theory in the face of extinction? I'll have the food from a tube a bath with salt and some rapid release narcotic wipe for my brain. I'm trying my best with this figurative gardenia in my hair, these earplugs nesting like shrimp in my canals and all the likely moods that pertain to my enigmas. No one will ever figure me out.

Avett Brothers

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

(Just Notice)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Waking after an hour
again and that pulling
at the breast-
bone. But this time
follows only
petals spilling
from the chest.

Everything was new today (except the rain)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Sky Room at the New Museum; new trail mix bar at the Whole Foods on Houston; new Whitman by Elizabeth Peyton tote bag ($8).  

What I found

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I keep looking through my filing cabinet, trying to find my birth certificate, which I know was in there.  I still haven't found it, but I did find my tenth grade school picture, and also some poems I wrote in 1996 or so.  (I was getting my Master's in Kansas and taking a poetry workshop with Luci Tapahonso.)

Here's part of a poem called "Three Days Before Halloween I Try to Remember the Natural World."  Featured in the poem is my cat Andy Garcia (a.k.a. Anderson) who was about two at this time, and who died last year at 14.  

In my dream, the trees' hurried talking goes on, 
shushing about what I need to know, 
making me one of them, taking away light.
It shivers up my chest, and the sidewalk runs me
up stairs, across a porch. 
Inside I tell my cat, "It's like a movie out there, Andy.
You know, like how they overdo the wind
when something's about to happen."


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hello, America.  It is dawn,
wake up and smell yourselves.  
You smell normal. 

--Ron Padgett

Tenth Grade

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday: Five things I am thankful for

Saturday, June 13, 2009

1.  The pleasant voice of the woman on the phone when I called to ask a passport question. 

2.  Melanie Lynskey's scene in Away We Go.  The movie was uneven, but her scene was pretty amazing.  (If your mom loves "Two and a Half Men," you may know her as the neighbor, Rose.  But she was also in Heavenly Creatures with Kate Winslet!  I just learned/realized that that's the same person.)  

3.  Colors.  Colors?  Yeah . . . colors. 

4.  Friends on the phone bein' friendly. 

5.  All the frowning people in that grocery store on 68th Street who reminded me what it's like to be around a bunch of frowning rich people.  Unfortunate.  Kind of funny. 

Bonus:  Iced coffee.  

Boog City

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One of my poems appears in the current issue.  

Florida to New York: Top ten

Thursday, June 11, 2009

1.  Singing Lady GaGa and Dolly Parton in the car with Brother on the way to the airport.  ("I'm so sorry, Daddy.  I'm so s-s-sorry, yeah.  We just like to party, like to p-p-party, yeah."  And, "Here you come again, looking better than a body has a right to, and shaking me up so, that all I really know . . .")

2.  Brother circling back around to pick me up again when I realized my flight was delayed 1.5 hours.  Going to Borders to pass the time, and fighting the urge to buy Twilight magnets.  (What am I going to do with Twilight magnets?)  Almost bought The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins-- I've never read it, and I'm in the mood to read Victorian lit-- but they only had a crappy mass-market copy.  

3.  There was an eleven-ish year-old kid in my row on the plane.  I loved him.  When I sat down, he said, "Hi!" in this very genuine way.  Then he said to his mom, "Remember that movie Snakes on a Plane?  I hope there are no snakes on this plane.  [pause] Just kidding."  

4.  Kind of got in trouble for getting up to pee before seatbelt sign was turned off.  (Male flight attendant:  "Let me remind you that the seatbelt sign is ON," exaggerated rounding of mouth with "ON."  Me (after quickly dismissing other snitty responses): "OK, thanks.  Well, I'm just going to duck in here now!")

5.  Ada Limón's poem in the New Yorker.  

6.  Seeing stuff in the New Yorker I wanted to do when I got back to NY.  Vowing to do some of it. 

7.  Woman next to me (the kid's mom, who I also loved-- she had an incredibly sweet, genuine smile) asked if she could put the Yankees game on my tv while she watched one of the Rocky movies on hers.  Then she looked at my headphones and said, "You know, those work for the tv, if you want to watch something.  You don't have to buy their headphones."  She encouraged me to try them and see if they worked.  They did.  I flipped through the channels, settling on "So You Think You Can Dance."  Then the mom and kid said, in unison, "So You Think You Can Dance!!"  It cheered me immensely.  

8.   Love JetBlue (aside from that one snitty flight attendant).  TV.  Extra room.  Blue potato chips.  (Woman next to me:  "Are they really blue?"  Me:  "Yeah.  Says here, 'Made from naturally blue potatoes.' ")

9.  Looking around at the variety of people at baggage claiming and thinking, "I kind of like New York.  I can't help it."

10.  Cab driver asking, "215th Street?"  


Brother made me a last-day-in-Florida fruit plate

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

[Note: It's always Christmas at Mom's house-- see winter village above my brother's head.]

Nervous System

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Someone is here
to see you

Someone has come a long way with their arms out in front of them
like a child

walking down a hallway
at night

Make room for them—
they’re very tired

I wish I could look down past the burning chandelier inside me

where the language begins
to end


--from "Nervous System" by Michael Dickman

Neutral Milk Hotel

Monday, June 08, 2009

Summer school

Monday, June 08, 2009

Brother's notes


Monday, June 08, 2009

"Why are you molesting that poor dog?"


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Everyone's a winner

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Take me out to the dream stadium, the contest of great minds where players beam down from on high-- all men-- but I find myself in the mix, learning to leap and float above the green green turf. We all contribute something, me, Einstein, the Gandhi-Nehru guy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the poet-athlete from my early years. Our mascot tells us things with his eyes, listens for me during the medal ceremony, as I squat there, breathing flowers in my hair, falling into a trance to the sound of a weed whacker, picking up small animals, setting them down again.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

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