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

My grandfather

Saturday, June 06, 2009

John Hayden Girdler of Kentucky (later North Carolina)

Neruda also says

Saturday, June 06, 2009

with so many faltering names, 
with so many sad formalities, 
with so many pompous letters, 
with so much of yours and mine, 
with so much signing of papers, 

I have a mind to confuse things, 
unite them, make them new-born, 
mix them up, undress them, 
until all light in the world
has the oneness of the ocean, 
a generous, vast wholeness, 
a crackling, living fragrance.

--from "Too many names"

Neruda says

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Shyness is a kink in the soul, a special category, a dimension that opens out into solitude.  Moreover, it is an inherent suffering, as if we had two epidermises and the one underneath rebelled and shrank back from life.  Of the things that make up a man, this quality, this damaging thing, is a part of the alloy that lays the foundation, in the long run, for the perpetuity of the self.


                        --Pablo Neruda, Memoirs


Saturday thought

Saturday, June 06, 2009

If you can't learn from the birds, then I don't know what.  


Saturday, June 06, 2009

"It is a great
argumentum, a great clue, that our minds jump together even if it be a leap into the dark.  I cannot tell you how amused and I must say pleased and comforted by this coincidence I am."  

--Gerard Manley Hopkins, in a letter to A.W.M. Baillie, 10 September 1864

Don't Be Alarmed

Friday, June 05, 2009

[poem draft was here]


Friday, June 05, 2009

My mom says the cats around this candle are "drinking milk."  I say they're worshipping Satan.  Thoughts?

Thursday Thoughts

Thursday, June 04, 2009

1.  Everlasting grasshopper.
2.  Red rolls of pistol cap tape. 
3.  Stop motion bushes.
4.  Dog volition.
5.  Wear the crown, ride it out.  

Five Things You May Want to Consider

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

1.  As I write, the sky is fragile whole white, overcast.  Queer.  And crickets.  It's that weird pre-dusk/cloudy dim, and the prehistoric red Florida plant by the pool looks possessed of a new sort of will.   

2.  You may send a letter to a friend, explaining in great detail that you feel a certain way, but by the time you receive a response, you may only dimly remember having felt that way.  When it happens, you will seem like an ancestor to yourself.  A ghost, kind of. 

3.  Is there such a thing as a legitimate dancing baton?  A disco implement? 

4.  A person trained in seeing the crown of light, crown of petals coming off the human head might very well look at me and see a crown of wilted leaves, folded over themselves, covering my skull like a jaunty cap.  

5.  What do you think when you see this?:

I ____ ____ , but it's alright. 

Let's ____ ____ ____ , but don't be too _____ with the ______.

Please write and tell me you still remember the time _____ ______ ______ . 

I've been having unsettling dreams about _____ _____.  But if I can only remember _____ _____ _____ ______ _______.  


Found in desktop "misc" folder

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New portraits, courtesy of A. J. Lenhoff

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Certain games

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

"The world teaches us that certain games cannot be played." 

--from introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein

Poolside Work Essay

Monday, June 01, 2009

I'm glad of  the huge dirty beach ball divided into primary colors, floating & twisting turning.

Sound of what I will call Grass-Arm Hairdo Palms, something between shhhh and sssss

Possessed of chirping complaints.

Birdcall like secret-whistle call. 

Possessed of coffee coffee Diet Coke iced coffee.  Just breathe, damn it. 

How we are divided, halved like peaches. 

Why are eyes such beautiful colors?  What is that for?

Stop it.  Stop.  

Don't you love those plants that look like sweet peas on a string?

What did we have when?
Who we?

Brother behind a pillar next to the pool, best place for reading company.  The beach ball wants him, but he kicks it away.

Jet plane.  Soccer kick sound.

Who are we to have this quiet now, these ocean plant sounds?

That old dog through the glass door, washing its face, licking its sore paws.  

Character deliveries

Monday, June 01, 2009

Still in FL: Five for Sunday

Monday, June 01, 2009

1.  Those big plaster saints have hands like Barbies.  You can put things in their hands.  Like, Mercedes is justice or something, so she has little handcuffs.  

 2.  Fresh/fried, Boston-themed fish at the Cape Codder.  

3.  Pelican-- or was it a cormorant?-- diving straight down into the water, hunting.

4.  Small flock of smallish white and gray birds flying over the water fast.  Mind flashing a thought that was something like, "Shared consciousness."  Only putting words to the thought later.  

5.  Remember when you used to see cassette tapes on the side of the road that people would throw out of the car, and they would look all glittery in the sun? [hands moving to indicate broken tape spooling out like that] 

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