Thursday, December 30, 2004

noises

I pulled down the last Chumbawamba CD "Readymades" and tried the web address that was printed on the box. Didn't work. Turned to Google. Yes, they have a new website. "Last week saw the unfortunate collision of the Anarchist Bookfair and Buy Nothing Day. The groups and small distributors of the political books would have been gutted if they'd set up stall only to be told that no-one was buying anything on principle." -- Chumbawamba ... Chumbawamba is best known for "Tubthumping", you know, "I get knocked down, but I get up again." But they've released an album with Noam Chomsky; they're totally intellectual lefty brits with a pop sense.

I found my way from the Chumbawamba site to Peace-not-war, a jukebox of peace songs. Just heard Martin Luther King name-checked in 2 songs. The Le Tigre song was a celebration of peace demonstrations: "They've shut down the bridge!"

Didn't Noam Chomsky have a blog? Yeah, he does. But he hasn't been keeping it up.

I finished that Man on the Moon book. The book doesn't say who named it but it seems one of the craters astronauts visited (or were to visit) was named Shorty after Trout Fishing in America Shorty, a character in Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America. Every so often I remind myself that I'm going to do a screenplay version of Trout Fishing in America.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

comments on The Baker

Last night I said to Kent, "Maybe I'm just trying to see if I have the skills now to write the poems I wanted to write when I was a teenager."

Tales of the Blue and Yellow Sun: The Baker, version 2

Mr F.C. Brown baked bread.
All day it took him to make a single loaf.

As the sun squeezed its blue morning bump
Out of the dark, and yellow stripe followed yellow stripe,
Mr F.C. Brown was plunging his fists into dough
That nudged his elbows.
As the sun threw blue to west and east,
Yellow north and south,
Mr F.C. Brown crouched before the oven door
Listening to the bread brown.
As the sun tugged its blue after its yellow down
Mr F.C. Brown mopped tears and snot
From his red face with doughy lump and crumbling crust.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

comments on "Tales of the Blue and Yellow Sun: The Baker"

Another one from the hippo notebook. This one is dated 1/82. Which would mean I was sixteen. A junior in high school. The hippo notebook is a bound paperback, a Quillmark. The cover, an off-white patterned with a brick red hippo motif (the icon-like hippos alternately right-side and up-side down), is lightly padded. I did not want to put anything in it that wasn't finished so I wrote poems or stories on looseleaf notebook paper then copied them carefully into the hippo book, handwriting as neat and legible as I could make it. I had a four-color ink pen and didn't use the same color twice in a row. I remember getting angry with myself when I made a copying error. I wanted to write a series of poems/stories about a fantasy land, like Oz or perhaps like Carl Sandburg's odd Rootabaga Stories -- I remember Sandburg's stories mostly for their strangeness, how many did I ever read? The stories didn't have to share characters, I decided. But they all took place in this magical land overseen by a blue & yellow sun. I wanted them to be inventive and fun. Sadly, as it usually does, my imagination disappointed me. What I was writing wasn't inventive enough, was more work than play.

Typing this old poem I flinch, am embarrassed. It's so ... not good. Not that I haven't read worse. Sure. I've written many poems not this good. And I've read (or stopped reading partway through) many poems or stories by other people that I think worse. I embarrass too easily, maybe. I was no prodigy. Though I was praised for my writing since I was little it always seemed to me there was someone better. There always is, yeah? Does that bother me now? Hm. Maybe it doesn't, really. Best best best. What's that?

OK, Sundy, cat who's been yowing at me and tapping me to get my attention, I'll play with you a minute.

Tales of the Blue and Yellow Sun: The Baker

Francis Brown was a baker
It took him all day to make one loaf of bread
Because travelling lemming salesmen
Kept stopping him between kneads and shouting in his ear.

As the blue and yellow sun
Rose in the west,
Francis Brown was kneading dough.
As the blue and yellow sun
Blazed overhead,
Francis Brown was baking bread.
As the blue and yellow sun
Sank in the east,
Francis Brown was weeping bitterly.

No travelling salesmen had stopped him in his work,
He had made good time
But his bread fell
And his time ran away,
It wasn’t good after all
And Francis Brown was bitterly disappointed.

By the setting
Of the blue and yellow sun,
Francis, sobbing miserably,
Began throwing hunks of brakenburger
At the innocent floor.

The unprotected floor
Burbled in protest,
But Francis continued to toss painful projectiles
Until the floor, in anger,
Swallowed him down.

Monday, December 27, 2004

invisible art

In response to a couple postings by geof huth at his blog, one on invisible art, one on being the poet in the family I wrote:

"I've decided invisible art and my invisible-art-making is a form of spiritual practice. Like prayer (or meditation) it seeks communion with an unnameable, is not "communication" in the ordinary sense, does not offer up a message that someone is supposed to get in order for them to do something -- the message, if any, not being instructional or directive. Of course, saying poetry is prayer is as likely to confuse as to illuminate, as most people will think I'm saying I'm asking God for something, which is not it at all. I've lately been revising poems on my blog, which is as close to publication I've gotten in months (years?)."

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

Odd that I said something snarky about generic holiday songs versus real Christmas carols. Odd because the fundamentalist wing of the noise machine got in a big clattery flap about the de-Christing of the holidays, fuming, it seems, about phrases like "Happy Hoidays" and "Seasons Greetings." Dailykos has a nice touche to that. When I was collecting Christmas songs I found a few winter songs, "Winter Wonderland" for instance, that don't even mention Christmas. And if I enjoyed them I happily included them in my Christmas mixes, much as the compilers of the commercial mixes did.

We listened to hours of Christmas music today, the mixes I put together, then KFOG on our way out to Steep Ravine. Aggravatingly it turned out the combinations that Kent had been given for the locks at Steep Ravine were inoperative. While we were waiting at the gate by the highway two other cars showed up -- the people in the first car also had numbers that didn't work. The woman in the second car had the magic digits. So we all drove down. But the locks on the cabins wouldn't budge for us (nor for the other little family whose numbers hadn't fit the gate). We waited around for awhile, knocked on the "Host" cabin door (no one home), snacked, then took Flash for a walk. Quite beautiful there, the cliffs, the rocks, deer, even a hare, surf and tidepools (sea anemone, hermit crabs, starfish); the air was cool but calm. What to do? We came home. The hot dogs, which had been purchased for a grilling over coals, toasted up in the broiler tray under the oven. Flash hunkered under the table after we got home -- nauseous from the ride or from slopping sea water? Kent left a dog biscuit by her nose; as I was serving dinner she scooped it up and trotted out to the back porch to munch it. Right now Flash is sleeping curled on her square cushion (the only remnant of a couch) and Sundy is snoozing, tail over his nose, on the chair by the PC. Kent is in the side room watching television. Tomorrow is his birthday.

Friday, December 24, 2004

comments on "Man-in-the-Moon" version 7

Wow. I had zero expectations for this poem. With version 6 I found myself delighted. I liked it a lot. Version 7 is merely tidying up version 6.

Reviewing my comments for version 6 I don't see any enthusiasm. Yeah, I didn't want to go, "Isn't this great!" and find later it was merely the heat of creation ... aren't there those times you've just done something and it seems so sharp, so clever, so special ... then time goes by and ardor cools.

So I like it. Hey. Isn't that great!

"Man-in-the-Moon" version 7

In which a man with the face of the Moon is served tea on the porch of a cabin in the woods by a boy who knows the stars, the only lantern low on oil, new snow on the limbs of the trees


A cloud slips off the chin of the mountain and wipes mist
from the Milky Way. The boy tips the teapot and tea,
dark as earth and trailing clouds, falls the long way
to the cup’s dry white. Says the man, “Ah.”
And, “I couldn’t.” But he takes the full cup and empties it
into his mouth, the cup’s round bottom a clean eye
that looks with the blue emblem of its maker at the boy
who looks all the way back. The cup cooling in its saucer,
the man lets his gray eyes drift out of the dark back
to the other. “I couldn’t have another cup, no.”
So again the boy pours the tea, then again, returning
his hands to circle the cup he’s burned his lip on, burned
his tongue. “I’ve imposed.” The man turns his face again
to the lamp’s yellow, though shadows, firm and ancient,
refuse to vacate the hollow of a cheek, the orbits of eyes. He smiles,
a smile the boy won’t see. Stars mess the sky up,
their dimnesses tangled and knotted; any other night’s
incontrovertible points lose this argument. The boy knows
the man’s face. He can’t place it. “How much farther
did you have to go?” he asks. “How much farther?”
the man responds. He rolls his eyes slowly, from one side
to the other. “All the way.” The boy says, “I’ve seen you
before.” “You’ve seen me.” The man glances
at his empty cup, but when the boy lifts the pot it’s light
and the thread from the spout is the tiniest ravel and breaks.
“I’ve barely drunk mine,” says the boy. So the man takes it
and drinks it and puts the cup back. “Ah,” he says
and the boy watches for his breath and sees his own breath
wandering. “I’ve kept you up,” the man says. “I am poor
company. I have taken too much of your time, and you
shall never have it back, yes?” “No,” the boys says, “no.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What Book!?

The following is from editor Gary Gach's "Pre Face" to his anthology of Buddhist poetry, What Book!?:

Poetry may seem to be only prose cut into short lines
-- but the end of each line lets us breathe, be attentive --
as if we could get up, walk around the block, and come back, to continue the next line
renewed, without missing a stitch --
or spend five minutes on a single line, if need be.

[slightly edited]

Yeah.

smashing!

Wayne Wilkinson read Billy Corgan's book of poetry so you don't have to. Says Wayne, "BLINKING WITH FISTS gives me hope. Hope b/c I know that I write poetry every bit as well as Billy Corgan. It should give you hope too for the same reason." Says Billy, "I taste, relate, to invade you / No wait, I'll change, and await you ..."

solstice!

Shortest day of the year? They get longer from here on out!

More light! More light!

Monday, December 20, 2004

happy birthday to my blog

2 years old this month.

lay off

So the library tax that was on the November ballot did not get the required 2/3 vote, which means lay-offs. I think I have enough seniority in my job classification that I won't be tossed out the door. Last summer some people got pink slips but the union agreed to give back a scheduled cost-of-living adjustment so those jobs were saved. Hopes rode on the tax measure. But there were tax measures for city and fire and whatever else, too. And they all lost. So there are going to be cut-backs citywide.

I didn't get a pink slip in the summer. But if you do get a pink slip and you have sufficient seniority you get to bump into somebody else's job, if you want it. So the lay-off moves down the line. I don't know if anybody with bumping rights will want to bump me out. Since I work fulltime and most of the people in my job classification are parttime if bumped I could probably end up with a parttime job.

Who knows. It's going to be strange watching it all play out.

I decided tonight to do something celebratory what with the baby jesus long since grown and pegged to a stick. So I bought us tickets to The New Pickle Circus, an afternoon show on Christmas Eve. Kent reserved a night at one of the cabins at Steep Ravine on his birthday, which is the day after Christmas. I don't know what we'll do on Christmas day now that Mom's gone. What did we do last year? It's not like either of us is into the Christian thing. Maybe I should take to calling it Santa Day. Not that I've bought Christmas presents either. The whole gift-giving round. I try to avoid it. I'm not bah-humbug about it, but gifts create obligations, even if you hate the gift, and if you love it, too. Things. Things stick to you. Objects, I mean. I can't get rid of them. I feel bad getting rid of things. I'd like to travel light, right? I should want to.

Cats and dogs seem happy these days. Cats go outside less when it's cold and rainy. Hasn't been rainy much. When are we going to get that again?

Lots of bills to catch up on. HCR stuff. I'm blocking it out!

Steve Mueske has moved his blog to blogspot and I commented, "You already know more about blogspot than I do!" And he said, "What? I just chose a template and turned on the comments." Oh. Right. I could do that.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

comments on "Man-in-the-Moon" version 6

Here I was thinking the only thing interesting about the poem was what the Moon said. I was faced, I said to Kent, with coming up with something the Moon would say. I am not wise and shouldn't the Moon speak wisely? Shouldn't the Moon have a knowledge beyond the ken of men? Beyond my ken?

I launched the newest attack on the poem thinking I was going to be getting the Moon to speak. He didn't. He didn't, dern him.

The poem has recovered a shadow of its funny. That's a bit of a relief. I hate dead serious poems, especially when they come out of me. I don't believe 'em.

There's a little more situation in the poem now, what with the context given by the title and the boy's queries: "How much farther do you have to go?" But the Moon's answers merely reflect back what the boy says. Ooh. A sort of moonish thing to do, eh?

"Man-in-the-Moon" version 6

In which a man with the face of the Moon is served tea on the porch of a cabin in the woods by a boy who knows the stars, the only lantern low on oil, new snow on the limbs of the trees


A cloud slips off the chin of the mountain and wipes mist
from the Milky Way. The boy tips the teapot and tea,
dark as earth and trailing clouds, falls the long way
to the cup’s dry white. Says the man, “Ah.”
And, “I couldn’t.” But he takes the full cup and empties it
suddenly, the cup’s round bottom tipping up, a clean eye
that looks with the blue emblem of its maker at the boy
who looks all the way back. The cup cooling in its saucer,
the man lets his gray eyes drift out of the dark back
to the other. “I couldn’t have another cup, no.”
So again the boy pours the tea, and again, returning
his hands to circle the cup he’s burned his lip on, burned
his tongue. “I’ve imposed.” The man turns his face again
to the lamp’s yellow, though half stays dark
and shadows firm and ancient refuse to vacate the hollows
of a cheek, the orbits of eyes. He smiles,
a smile so small it’s not visible. The stars mess the sky up,
their dimnesses tangled and knotted; even the points
of any other night lose in the argument. The boy knows
the man’s face. He can’t place it. “How much farther
did you say you have to go?” he asks. “How much farther?”
the man responds. He rolls his eyes slowly, from one side
to the other. “All the way.” The boy says, “I’ve seen you
here before.” “You’ve seen me.” The man glances
at his empty cup, but when the boy lifts the pot it’s light
and the thread from the spout is the tiniest ravel and breaks.
“I’ve barely drunk mine,” says the boy. So the man takes it
and drinks it and puts the cup back. “Ah,” he says
and the boy watches for his breath and sees his own breath
wandering. “I’ve kept you up,” the man says. “I am poor
company. I have taken too much of your time, and you
shall never have it back, yes?” The boys says, “No.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

comments on "Man-in-the-Moon" version 5

I figure I'll resurrect some of what I discarded from version 4. But today when I stopped in at the blog to give the poem a quick read, sufficient time having passed since I last worked it over, I found the poem dull dull. If the damn thing had been in a magazine I wouldn't have finished. But I pushed on and did get interested, about halfway through, when the moon-man talks. I'm not terribly fond of what he says. But at least what he says seems active, the passivity of the descriptions having been deadly.

"Man-in-the-Moon" version 5

In which a man with the face of the Moon is served tea on the porch of a cabin in the woods by a boy who knows the stars, the only lantern low on oil, new snow on the limbs of the trees


A cloud slips free of the mountain and wipes mist
from the Milky Way. The boy refills the teacup.
“I couldn’t. All good men must sleep. Even young.”
The man laughs. No, he does not laugh. “Even old.
Must cross the waters that draw their dark

past the river’s stones. Each stone a dream.
Dream by dream alone he steps the width
of a valley that goes on forever, and a wind
blows softly on him or blows hard and sudden.
You have only hours to get all the way over,

who have to travel, from day to day night by night.”
The boy tightens the circle of his hands around his cup.
He lifts it again to his face, the steam too cool and the tea
again hot enough to hurt. But he drinks. And stops.

And drinks. When he has finished his cup
he feels wounded; he looks at the man whose face,
lit by no moon, only the blue of the snow,
the dimnesses of stars, regards him or looks on something
other. “More tea?”asks the boy, the pot cold.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

the uncanny Xmas

We have 2 CDs of Christmas music -- Kent's is old crooners like Bing Crosby and Dean Martin. Bing, however, does not sing "White Christmas." Instead he sings "Holiday Inn", a generic holiday song. "Holiday Inn" is not a Christmas song, not, at least, any more than it's an Easter song or 4th of July song. ... Or was it "Happy Holidays"? Whichever. My CD, which I bought a few years ago, is a benefit for, I think, Choice ... it includes Luscious Jackson and The Presidents of the United States of America. Since I've been burning mix CDs from music I've listened to at my desk at work I thought I could fix the lack of a decent CD of Christmas music by listening to a bunch of samplers and boiling them down to a Best. I now have nearly 3 hours of music in a iTunes playlist. So I'm figuring now that I'll mix up 2 or 3 CDs. A rockin' Christmas, a croonin' Christmas, an are-these-really-Chrismas-songs Christmas. Or something. My sources are a stack of CDs I grabbed from the clearance bins at Amoeba, spent a maximum of $2 per CD (less, as when you buy 3 clearance CDs you get the 4th free). Of course, the library also owns many Christmas music CDs so I've started listening to those, too.

I thought it was gonna be torture. Egad! Tired old Christmas carols! But it's been rather fun. I've heard some pleasant versions of "Merry Gentlemen" and "Silent Night" ... and I've heard rather wearisome versions.

On my way home today I stopped in at the drugstore and at the checkout counter I saw a display of Christmas CDs ... was amused to see one of Bah-Humbug Chrismas songs with liner notes by Harvey Pekar. The CD is called "Yule Be Miserable". Tempting.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

comments on "Man-in-the-Moon" version 4

Better. Mostly an edit of version 3. Who are these people? Is it a logical inference that this is "The Man in the Moon"? Does it matter whether it is or isn't? Are dreams stones? Dreams are stories or non sequiturs ... stones?

"Man-in-the-Moon" version 4

Moonless


The cigarette smoke’s wan light takes a shade
of black from the night. The man taps a tiny ash
from the end. “My boy, my boy.”
His words stones, smoothed and softened by
the turning, slow and ceaseless, of an ice-edged creek.

The boy lifts the pot, tips tea out of it,
the tea’s earth-dark dropping into the cup’s
lightly shadowed white. Again the man’s lips
part and the cup touches them, the round white
eye pupiled by the emblem of its maker

rises to gaze upon the boy. The boy blows
steam from the surface of his own cup, sips,
and burns his lip and tongue. Empty as a shadow,
every earth-dark drop drained, the man’s cup
cools on its saucer. He pats the blue napkin between

his long hands, lays it over the unstirred spoon.
A cloud tears free of the mountain and wipes mist
from the Milky Way. The boy watches his breath
move away from the table. The man’s cup,
white as dawn, has caught one star on its gold rim.

The boy looks from it to the man’s still face.
Then he pours the tea. “I couldn’t,” the man demurs.
“I couldn’t. All good men must sleep. Even young.”
He laughs. No, he does not laugh. “Even old.
Must cross the waters that draw their dark

past the river’s stones. Each stone a dream.
Dream by dream alone he steps the width
of a valley that goes on forever, and a wind
blows softly on him or blows hard and sudden.
You have only hours to get all the way over,

who have to travel, from day to day night by night.”
The boy tightens the circle of his hands around his cup.
He lifts it again to his face, the steam too cool and the tea
again hot enough to hurt. But he drinks. And stops.

And drinks. When he has finished his cup
he feels wounded; he looks at the man whose face,
lit by no moon, only the blue of the snow, the thousand
dimnesses of stars, regards him or looks on something
other. “More tea?”asks the boy, the pot cold.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

comments on "Man-in-the-Moon" version 3

It's a new version, all right. And it was fun to write, I'll tell ya. Playing variations. Less fun to read, I see. Too long. This is not a fourteen stanza poem. But the nothing happening, it's OK I'm thinking. We'll see what the next version looks like.

"Man-in-the-Moon" version 3

Moonless


From the end of the cigarette he rolled himself, the man
taps a tiny ash and smoke leaves his mouth.
He doesn’t blow it. Rather, the smoke’s wan
light takes a shade of black from the night.

“My boy, my boy.” His words soft as stones
being turned in the winter creek. He does not
look at the empty cup, looks instead at the bones
that have refleshed with snow muscle,

ice sinew, the seasonal body of the skeletons.
The boy looks up at them, too. And those
beside them in their spiky and permanent green.
When the man blinks, the time it takes

seems a phase his face must go through
night by night. And the boy lifts the pot,
tips the tea out of it, the tea’s earth-dark
dropping into the cup’s lightly shadowed

white. The boy also tips tea into his own
half-full cup and put his chilled hands around it.
The china too hot to touch he lets his hands
wait, and they receive what heat escapes.

The man, his gray cheeks catching the light
cast from the window, his eyes almost lost
in an old distance, lets his lips part, and the cup
touches them, the bottom of the cup rising,

a wide eye, the tattoo-blue emblem of its maker
regarding the table, looking unmoved upon
the boy who blows steam from the surface
of his own tea, who burns his lip and tongue

and puts his cup down. Empty as a shadow,
every earth-dark drop fallen out of it, the man’s cup
cools on its saucer. He pats the blue napkin
between his long hands, lays it softly over the unstirred spoon.

A cloud tears free of the mountain and wipes mist
from the Milky Way. The boy breathes the breath
he can see. There isn’t much in the pot and the cup,
white as dawn, has caught one sharp star on its gold rim.

The boy looks from it to the man’s still face.
Then he pours the tea. “I couldn’t,” the man demurs.
“I couldn’t. All good men must sleep. Even young.”
He laughed. No, he did not laugh. “Even old.
Must walk across the waters that draw their dark

around the stones in the river. Each stone
a dream. And so dream by dream alone he steps the width
of a valley he can’t see the length of, and a wind
blows softly on him or blows sudden and hard.”

The boy tightens the circle of his hands, the heat
of the cup less hard. And when he sees the man’s
hand descending and settling the cup in the saucer’s
center circle he sees the cup is dry. “To keep you

from your bed would be burgling from you, my boy
thieving from you the only way laid out for us who have to go,
who have to go on, from night to day night after night.
How cruel I am to take from you, dear one.” This time

it is the boy who laughs. And he laughs until he hears
the dry crackle of his laughter and he takes refuge
in tea which does not burn him. The ember
of the cigarette lights the whites of the man’s two eyes.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

It's the end

It's Sunday night, end of four days not working. Five days, actually. I had a migraine on Wednesday so that got me started with the sleeping. The headache lingered through Thursday though mostly as background noise. Some nausea, too. No fun! I still dream that I'm working my way to the far side of the migraine story; yoga shall free me! If I saw a causal relationship, food item to migraine, the sort that I associate with a yoga routine, I would carefully avoid that food. Maybe I would continue to eat said food if I thought the migraines it caused were the result of detox, stored poisons being released thus causing mayhem up to now corraled. That's sort of how I see yoga -- I'm stretching muscles in order to get them to release tension. When a muscle gets stretched, however, it often seems to react by tightening up again -- even tighter! After the migraines pass I do note improvements in posture and it does seem easier to release a day's tension. I've come so far! And the rest of my life to go.

Monday. Ugh. I don't hate Mondays any more than Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

comments on "Man-in-the-moon" version 2

I have the feeling I've written this poem before, the celestial visitor at tea. Only then the man was an angel. That poem got me praise from my writing teacher at jr college; he said he thought it could be the one that would get me notice -- maybe even into Poetry. I did send it to Poetry and it didn't get me in or itself. I haven't read it in years.

Like the first "Man" this version is toying with rhyme. I'd sort of like to formalize it but I'd sort of like the poem to say something, too.

"The Man-in-the-Moon" version two

Late One Moonless Night


The man, loose of the moon, his gray cheeks shining
like a cool lampshade, neither eye brighter
than a dry pearl, his forehead one long ramp to heaven,
dabbed with a blue napkin at the corners of his mouth.

“My dear boy,” he crooned, the words were stones
soft in a winter creek, and the time he took to blink
was a phase he was going through, night by night.
“I owe you, I think. A cup, I think.”

And, yes, the cup before him, white as dawn,
one star caught on its gold rim, let up no more curls
of steam from tea just tipped in, the man having
slid it all past ridged lips. Empty as a shadow,

every earth-dark drop had fallen out of it.
The man patted the napkin between his long hands
then lay it softly over the unstirred spoon.
A cloud tore free of the mountain and wiped the mist

from the Milky Way. The boy breathed
and saw his breath. He touched his cup to his mouth
and was burned. So he put the cup down.
And tipped the pot to refill the other’s.

“I couldn’t,” the man demurred. “I couldn’t take
the time from you you’d surely elsewise spend,
as all men should, deep in bed, stepping from dream
to dream over the valley brook. If I were to steal

this end of an hour from your proper nightly stroll,
I’d feel I’d snatched from a beggar a buttered roll.”
So saying the man ran a finger over the teacup grip,
then ran it under and a smooth sweep took the cup

to his parted lips and again its bottom rose,
one white eye, the blue signet of its maker in the center,
gazed upon the boy who shivered, who blew his white
breath on the dark surface too hot to sip.

The UN knew better

In the new issue of The Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies (download pdf at the CLAS site) the former Mexican Ambassador to the UN Security Council, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser calls Bush a liar (or, at least, says he "lied ... lied ... and lied," which is the same thing, right?). It's so refreshing to hear a spade called a spade ... rather than something that looks like it might possibly be used to penetrate the earth, among other performable activities, including some having nothing to do with the earth.

Says AAS, "Instead of listening to other views and exploring other options, the U.S. scorned advice about the evident risks of going to war, walked away from collective agreements, revoked multilateral diplomacy and ridiculed the institutional capabilities of the UN. ... Right from the outset and straight through the frenetic and more intrusive inspections which started in October 2002 -- after resolution 1441 was unanimously passed -- Hans Blix, the Chief Inspector, and Mohmed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said again and again that they had found no weapons and detected no programs to produce them. ... According to the imperial logic of U.S. diplomats, the absence of weapons was first and foremost unequivocal evidence that Saddam had them very well hidden. ... The Bush administration was at no time willing to contemplate the possibility that UN measures had led to the destruction of the weapons, and the UN trade and oil embargo had strangled the nuclear program. ... Resistant to reason and evidence and determined not to acknowledge any proof or opinion contrary to their instructions, U.S. diplomats refused to explore ways to peacefully complete what was clearly a good job of disarmament by the UN. ... In the last analysis, Bush went to the UN just as a stopover before moving on to his disastrous war in Iraq, his true and final destination. ... Bush and his administration lied to the world about the weapons of mass destruction, lied when they affirmed that the weapons existed beyond any doubt and lied when they declared that their only intention was to disarm Iraq and they would be satisfied to achieve only that."

Happy Thanksgiving

Kent and I were driving up to Davis to have Thanksgiving dinner with friends Margo & Paul and their kids and in-laws ... took us over an hour to drive 30 miles, with 40 still to go ... Kent was beginning to dread the drive home. A junction was coming up that would allow us to turn and scoot home. We did. As soon as we got in the door Kent called Margo and apologized. Now he's working on cooking a turkey.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

comments on "The Man-in-the-Moon"

The poem was written in 1984, July. This was the year after I graduated high school. There's nothing interesting about the poem, except that it so happens I'm reading Andrew Chaikin's nonfiction account of the Apollo missions, A Man on the Moon. I put that book down a few minutes ago, having decided it was time I posted a new poem-to-revise on the blog. I walked over to the paper bag of journals I'd brought back from my mother's house several months ago. I fished out the one with the smiling hippo motif. I flipped open the book and there was "The Man-in-the-Moon". The first lines have a midly amusing voice and the piece starts out rhyming, which tends to make even serious verse snort-worthy. Then nothing. Despite the bravado of "I know the end of this story" I'm sure I hadn't a clue. I figure I said it because the piece was being written as though recounting an anecdote, you know, talking about something that had happened. Something fun, something droll.

I have no idea what to do to revise this as the only thing about it I find even vaguely appealing is the voice. But I have no confidence in that sort of voice now (if I ever did). Vacationing in the Bahamas? Yawn. I'm posting the poem as a challenge. And to honor the coincidence, the echo in my own life of the Apollo missions, which are amazing.

The Man-in-the-Moon

I had tea with the man-in-the-moon,
at least that’s whom he claimed to be,
and, although I really do not like tea
we got along splendidly,
or rather we got along well
until I started asking details about his home and his job and his family,
and reminded him about Apollo and Neal Armstrong and “one small step” and all that
and I asked him, “By the way
did you happen to run into any of those astronaut fellows
on your way to my house?”
So, of course, this put the entire conversation on edge
(if I’d known this would’ve happened I don’t suppose I would’ve advanced the subject,
especially as I know the end of this story).

The man-in-the-moon dabbed uselessly at the corner of his mouth with his linen napkin
in exactly the way I’ve seen many a nervous gentleman do in the past,
and, at length, he made this reply,
“My dear chap,” said he (and I didn’t think to ask him why he thought me such),
“You strike me as a very intelligent young man
of some manner and some wit
and I do owe you a debt of gratitude for a pleasant hour and a fragrant tea,
so I will tell you three things.
I am not telling you out of any malice on my part”
(here I record accurately, but now I have reason to suspect insincerity)
“but solely for your information.”

“One: At the time of the space missions I was vacationing in the Bahamas.
I watched the whole thing on the telly.
It was very entertaining.”

“Two: I have no other family than the moon and the stars
and the rabbit-in-the-moon
whom I generally avoid.
As to my occupation, why,
I do nothing more than I have to.”

“And three: I’ll be keeping an eye on you.”
He brightened. I didn’t.
“Thanks for the tea, old man,” he said
and with that he rose up into the sky and disappeared.

I must tell you I was more than
a little surprised by this behavior,
it being so uncharacteristic of a polite gentleman to leave with quite such abruptness.

Well, to this day I have felt somewhat nervous under the gaze of the full moon,
and every since my teaset vanished
(I must tell you the man-in-the-moon complimented me highly and frequently on that very teaset)
I lock up my valuables on those certain days of the month
when the old boy’s particularly bright.

Friday, November 12, 2004

unreasonably satisfying

I find the election results horrifying. Like a car wreck. That you wake up in and you feel around in the dark for your body parts. And it turns out they're all there. Some of them are wet. Hard to know what that is. Blood? Gasoline? One spark and you could be suddenly aflame. And I understand that hurts. If you survive it. But you've survived the car wreck, haven't you? So you look around for a way to extricate yourself from the twisted metal. Pulling yourself out alive becomes its own interesting problem. You think, I'm trapped but I can still move and feel around for an opening. Are you still cursing the driver? Full of dread for the impending crash? You're out on the highway, aren't you? Dark. Any car, truck, hurtling along at the usual 30 above the speed limit will cream your little wreck. Won't see you at all. Crash! That'll be it. Do you panic? What will that do for me! Panicking! You take a deep breath; it tries to find room in you to hold on, but it wooshes out again.

When I hear about people killed in Iraq now I say, That's what the American people wanted.

When it's an American soldier I say, Well! The American people voted for you to die! It's democracy in action! I gotta get with it.

America voted for lies and failure! Yay! Can't be surprised about it when we get what we want.

But we Americans love lies! (Different from the rest of the world?) Love to lie down in down comforters of lies. Don't give me that truth! Too prickery and it annoys me. I have what I been told and that's it. I have a right! A right! Right not to learn. What about the 3 Rs? WAR? Writing ... Arithmetic ... Reading ... Don't tell me bout that in school. Just tell me about the pretty bombs. The pretty surgery of boom. Whee! If God wanted me to listen he would've given me ears, instead of these lie reception devices. What about eyes? Did you get eyes? I haven't seen eyes for days.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Today is Mom's Birthday

On the Hawaii vacation I had a dream with Mom in it.

She was piloting a 747, flying the family to Brazil. She was maneuvering the plane through a steep valley (like the ones we flew over in a helicopter on the Big Island), the rest of us getting nervous about a big plane in such a narrow valley. Our nervousness was making Mom nervous so we tried to reassure her that, yes, we really did believe in her flying ability but if she saw a place to land we could use a rest. Just then we emerged from the narrow valley to one with a much broader floor. We spotted a divided highway and Mom agreed to land the plane on the highway, which she did quite smoothly. Being as a highway is not the place you're supposed to land a plane we shortly saw the flashing lights of emergency vehicles approaching.

Except for Mom getting a little flustered by criticism the dream had a good feeling. I'm really quite tickled by the idea of Mom flying a big passenger jet.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

critique

A critique that stands alone? I wrote a critique for a poem posted on a bulletin board. I wrote it as though I were writing a poem, with the particular concentration I apply to writing a poem. But I figured it would be just one of those things you write and let go out into the world. Never see it again. Then one of the other poets at the board, a poet whose writing gets more interesting as I watch it, said she thought the critique read rather like a prose poem. Does it stand alone?:

The 3rd stanza repeats the first. In the 2nd stanza a car goes by -- is it the car's door that shakes? I was placing the speaker at home, listening to the next door neighbor's dog bark, watching it bark, the dog in the yard? The door that shakes could be a house door, could be a car door.

The speaker "with eyes closed ... look[s] inside [himself]." Sees "nothing there but white with teeth." The speaker's own teeth? Speaker experiencing empty-mind? A clear whiteness? The dog barks at fog, which is white, so perhaps the speaker is visiting his own fog. And the teeth could be threatening. Teeth bite, dogs use them thus. Teeth also speak, people use them thus. Perhaps these teeth will tell the speaker something and the speaker will pass that along in his next poem.

I am not convinced the dog is barking at the breeze that moves the fog. Dog might just be barking at the fog. Dog might be barking at something else, the car maybe. I am not convinced the way the speaker has observed the dog barking gains strength (or gains anything, maybe loses something) when it is repeated. I am not convinced the speaker sees anything inside, even white. Though teeth maybe. Colors probably. White? Maybe it is the white that comes out, that is outside. Maybe it is the white that is moved by a breeze rising from the speaker. Maybe it is only white outside.

Is it night?


The poem to which the critique is addressed.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

poetry is not one thing

On her blog Kelli Russell Agodon muses about people's attitudes toward poets & poetry:

"I think to limit yourself to one class or type of poetry is to limit your own writing. You may prefer a certain type of poetry and be drawn to poets who write in a certain way, but it's important to continue to explore other ways to write, even if they seem too simple or too complex. It's similar to music. You may always have your station on jazz, but check out what's happening on a pop station once in awhile, or alternative music, or country."

I don't have any objection to this. It's a good way to look at poetry. When I first started reading poetry I saw right away that there was poetry I didn't like. A lot of poetry I didn't like. This was bothersome. Wasn't I supposed to like Poetry? If that's Poetry and I like Poetry what's wrong -- with it, with me? Maybe I don't like Poetry. I kept reading it to find out. I started my copying project, where I copy out poems I read that I don't want to leave behind. Yes, in fact I don't like all Wallace Stevens poems, but this one I've written into my notebook is really really cool. I like reading it. I look forward to reading it again.

Poetry is not one thing. Can you say Issa and Tennyson are the same thing?

Issa:

sparrows at the gate--
the brothers' first
fight

Tennyson:

              Forward, the Light Brigade!'
            Was there a man dismay'd?
            Not tho' the soldier knew
                Some one had blunder'd:
            Their's not to make reply,
            Their's not to reason why,
            Their's but to do and die:
            Into the valley of Death
                Rode the six hundred.


Can the complaint be that one is poetry and one is not?

I prefer the former to the latter. I'm much more likely to copy out the Issa. I can appreciate the effects of the Tennyson, even find it stirring. I'm not big on martial themes, especially when they're bound to glory. The Issa is simple but it unfolds. Brothers compete. Cain and Abel knew that.

And no claim that Issa and Tennyson exemplify the diversity of Poetry. But they are different enough.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Mom's checks III

I'm looking at a Wells Fargo Bank check register that covers "5/29/69 to 9/10/72". On the inside Mom has written a P.O. Box for Wells Fargo in Santa Rosa. This, I believe, is the first check register after the divorce. My brother's birthday is in May, which means he was five when Mom recorded the first check in the register. I was 3 1/2. That's the age Mom always quoted when I asked how old I was at the time of the divorce.

It's just a check register. The only thing that gives it emotional resonance is the time it was filled. I'm nervous. It seems like I'm exposing something.

Starting balance: $119.45
[Gee, that don't seem like much. I know Mom didn't fill her checking account beyond what she felt she needed, preferring to keep the bulk of her cash in savings.]

"5/29 A&B -$20.00"
[I think this is a grocery store. A&B recurs frequently in the pages that follow.]

"6/3 Bruce ck +$256.34"
[Dad's first child support check?]

"6/6 Bon Air Apts -$120.00"
[Bon Air. Our first home in California? I think Mom brought us to Southern Cal initially to her mother's but I don't guess we stayed there long. I remember Bon Air. I remember a calico cat. Learning the word, "calico." Fascinated by its mottled coloring. It wasn't our cat, just one that lived in the building. I remember a room, a hall?, that was entered by at least 2 doors. It was tiny and close, comforting and scary when dark. I remember being shut in there, when playing. I remember it being something I liked. I remember Mom not approving -- maybe because it was a passage Do I have any other memories from this time? A presence of adults. I think Mom's friend Beverly lived nearby. She had two daughters a bit older than me & David. Some of my memories of playing with them may have come from this time. Nothing specific. Tag or something. I think they were enough older they seemed Big. But I was a shy kid. ... That rent. $120. Wow. The only thing you'd find for that these days is a shared room in a house or apartment. Maybe.]

"6/6 C.T.A. $5.00 Member, $5.00 Placement -- -$10.00"
[California Teacher's Association membership. The teacher's union. Mom taught elementary school.]

"6/6 PG&E -$8.20"
[First utility bill. Pacific Gas & Electric.]

Dad's $257 reappears on 7/8. Lots more A&B.

8/4 records the last rent check to Bon Air.

"8/26 Bishop Hansel Ford -$700"
This entry paired with "Gr. West Saving +$900"
[Confirms the theory that the bulk of Mom's money was in a savings account. Here she buys a car with cash. She was not one for borrowing. Mom had credit cards, although I only remember the store-specific kind. One for Penney's, one for Mobil. I'm sure she paid them off each month. When I was little there were commercials for something called BankAmeriCard, which at some point transmuted into VISA. A generic credit card. Did Mom ever have such a thing? Seems to me she eventually cut up all her credit cards and paid for everything with cash/check. ... The car must have been the Cortina. It was copper-colored. We named it Charlotte. I don't know who chose the name. David or me. Sadly, Mom was ever disappointed in the car. "A lemon," she said. Always giving her trouble. A station wagon, it had a rear door that opened upward giving access to a flat bed. You could fold the back seat down and have good cargo space. I think we slept there on a mat when car camping sometimes. ... The savings account was at a savings & loan, long before the savings & loan crisis killed off that category of bank. Great Western. I don't know what her savings came to.]

"8/27 freight -$15.30"
[Moving ...]

"8/30 House rent -$95.00 (70.00 + 25.00)"
[This was the house in Johnson Park? I think Mom got a teaching job in Burney. Johnson Park was a neighborhood or suburb of Burney, by the way Mom would talk about it. ... Is $70 the house rent, $25 a security deposit? ... I remember this house. It snowed here, drifts which seemed huge -- up to my waist! I don't remember hating the cold the way I later did in Sebastopol (where it doesn't snow). There was at least once enough snow for a snowman. A dirty snowman. A small dirty snowman. Was this where my thumb got smashed playing with an old gate balanced on the ruins of a brick fireplace or bbq? I think so. The vacant lot next to the house. I remember being stunned to see my flattened thumb and its rapidly changing colors. Kids would take turns sitting on the metal gate while others rocked it up and down like a seesaw. No surprise my clumsy little kid hand got caught. It was a lot of fun getting rocked, though I probably didn't get to do it much. I think it was scary, too. The bigger kids would make the gate rock furiously, which made me beg them to slow down. When my thumb got crushed I howled. I was a big howler. I remember the bandage that wrapped my thumb, how it got stained with blood and pus -- and dirt. When the bandage came off my thumbnail came off with it. That was pretty shocking. Looking at the naked flesh where the rigid thumbnail had been. I remember watching the nail grow back, ever so slowly it grew. I remember some neighbor girl eating cherry tomatoes, my briefly liking their taste before finding them inedible. Being lonesome. David & I mostly played together, rather than in a larger group. I remember envying the big kids the bikes they'd swoosh by on. The road was paved at least to our house, I believe, but turned to gravel. Mom recently remembered the pretend friend Kathy. She lived on the other side of the wall. I remember wearing a piece of white sheet like a wig, tied on around the forehead by a black ribbon or sash. Wearing this one became Kathy. Kathy probably came from David, was probably usually played by David. I say that because I was too young to be original. David was a year and a half older. If there was a game it was his idea; I was happy to go along, at most embellish. I'm sure David & I shared a room. Did Mom have her own bedroom? It was a small house. Did we stay long enough for me to go to kindergarten?]

"8/30 Shasta Pines -$27.30"
[hotel?]

"8/30 Burney Army, Navy -$36.76"
[Mom was a big fan of army surplus; we had a wool US Army blanket which she treasured. We had small folding shovels. Metal drinking cups/bowls that stacked, one with handles which folded and snapped tight shut.]

"8/31 Safeway -$25.00"
[A&B no longer appears. Now it's Safeway.]

...

OK. This one is spinning me around. I was right to hesitate before plunging in. I'm going to put it aside for now.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Sebastopol

I drove up to Sebastopol today. Are there really that many boxes of things stacked up in the basement? This was my first visit since Mom died at the end of July. C & M, who are renting the place, have boxed everything and stacked it all neatly in corners in the basement. I loaded all my records into the Jeep. Also a box of books. Mom's diary. She kept a diary for awhile after I moved out. There was much I didn't even touch, however. Much that just needs to donated or thrown away. It's getting easier to throw things away. But I hate the waste of throwing out usable things. C & M have adopted several pieces of furniture. Vic when last I saw her at her jewelry/minerals booth on Telegraph here in Berkeley referred to "C's place," then realized she was talking about my old house and apologized. "She's just made it so C," Vic explained. Maybe to somebody who didn't live there. I'm pleased to see C & M using the house's nooks and crannies, and asserting their own identities there, even doing some landscaping, but it looks like the old same place to me. I don't want to live there.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Mom's checks II

I posted several entries from Mom's check registry from 1973-74 yesterday. Today I'm going to post on checks written 1971-72.

The front cover doesn't have a bank logo, Mom has handwritten on the "name of bank" blank, "Shasta Co."

Mom named her sister as joint tenant on the account. In case of emergency, I believe. Sylvia could swoop in and take over Mom's accounts (& Mom's kids, of course) ...

First entry 12-20-71 "Joyce -- Glenn sick one week -- end of Jan."
[Mom was teaching elementary school. Did she stay home an entire week while I was sick? I wonder of what? This might have been the time I had mumps or chicken pox. I was 6.]

12/27 "Early Years mag." -$7.00
[self-help subscription?]

12/27 "I can Read Bk. Club" -$2.17

1/9/1972 "E. Burney Milk $1.20 D&G" -$2.40
[paying for milk at school for David & me?]

1/11 "Redding opthamology" -$25.00

1/23 "Johnson Park water" -$3.00
[We lived in Johnson Park near Burney in Northern California.]

...

lots of entries for utilities, groceries, bank ... several entries each for "Joyce Lindler" [maybe she was a babysitter?] and "James Barfuss" [no idea]

...

4/24 "Disabled Am. Vets" -$15.00
[I'm always interested in what charity somebody donates to.]

4/29 "Fall River Pay" +$572.58
[Mom's teaching paycheck?]

5/21 "Hyatt's Bk 2130 Hil Hop Dr." -$5.60
[no idea but it's so specific]

7/25 "Nevada State Dept of Ed" -$1.00
[An application? We were living in California, not very close to Nevada ... maybe she was thinking of an eastward move?]

9/18 "Exchange Bank" -$156.65
[This is the final entry; it's followed by another $500 transfer to Exchange Bank and the balance to Sacto Teachers C.U. ... We moved from Johnson Park? This seems about the right date for it. To Santa Rosa, I think. Or was it Rohnert Park?]

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Poetry & Pizza reading

Last night we hosted a Hogtown Creek Review reading at Poetry & Pizza. As I'm now poetry editor at HCR (yay!) I hosted; besides me we had Tim Donnelly, Dale Jensen, and Niloufar Talebi. We had a good turnout. Maybe half the audience was Katharine's students from Skyline Community College.

Niloufar asked me if I'd brought my cats. She can't keep a cat where she's living and misses the critters terribly. She came late and after the reading left for another function. But it was nice seeing her.

Tim read some new work -- always nice to hear new stuff from Tim. I've heard his older stuff ... some of the new pieces were commemorative of friends who've died: cancer, overdose, AIDS ...

Dale has long white hair and white beard haloing pink skin so he has a wildmanish look. Glasses which seem to magnify his eyes. I like his surrealist work. He reads well. Except for the barking, which plays to the wildman look, I guess. He had a new book and was donating sales of it to HCR. I got a copy and look forward to reading it.

I mostly read poems from my latest poetry notebook. I've been feeling disconnected from current work and was pleased to find it presented well.

Sadly the new issue of HCR has not yet gotten here. So I wasn't able to offer any for sale last night. I got an email from Elisa that she'd mailed them. Maybe they'll get here in time for me to lug them to La Pena, Oct 6, when Kirmen Uribe and his band will be playing. He has a poem in the new issue. Looking forward to meeting him and Elizabeth Macklin (a poem of hers is in HCR, too).

Mom's checks

Oct 20, 1973 "Cecil Cox -- work on the house" -$130.00

Oct 23 "City of Sebastopol Roof Permit" -$5.00

Oct 30 "Bruce -- Glenn birthd. $210 less $30 cash" +$180.00
[Bruce is my dad; was $180 the usual child support payment?]

Nov 7 "Palm Drive Hosp." -$200.

Nov 8 "Palm Drive Hosp." -$227.04
[more than $400 to the local hospital ... for what? David had his appendix out when a kid, but at this time?]

Nov 25 "Sequoia Mortgage" -$152.00

Nov 26 "Dr Jacobs -- Xray & fill front tooth" -$20.00
[only $20? even for 1973 that seems a small amount. maybe it's a partial payment.]

Dec 4 "Scholastic Bks -- David -- Darn Cat, Good Ol' Snoopy, Caves" -$1.35
[Funny that Mom recorded what books my brother David ordered from the Scholastic Book Service. I remember those book club pamphlets passed around in class. I always wanted to order several books. But I seldom did. I remember the books Mom notes. Except for 'Good Ol' Snoopy', though we had many Peanuts books.]

Dec 15 "KQED" -$15.00
[San Francisco public TV station. I remember Mom would say their basic membership was too expensive. Sometimes she'd send them $5 and would grump when they didn't seem grateful. I remember seeing their magazine around the house. Nothing I was going to read at that age. In Dec 73 I was 8.]

Dec 31 "Bruce -- check Dec -- $200 + $16.00 G. dentist LeDu" +$216.00
[G., that would be me, right? Just a check up? Or one of my many cavity fillings ...]

Dec 31, 1973 "Alaska Children's Serv. Inc Tx" -$5.00
[I wonder what this is. Though I was born in Alaska we'd been living in California for 4 or 5 years by this time.]

Jan 15, 1974 "Scholastic Books -- David -- Pnuts Cook Bk, Frankueler, Ghostly, Tunnel Time"
-$1.80
[It was "Time Tunnel" ... "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler" ... "Ghostly"? ... again I don't remember the Peanuts book, a cookbook? Curiously this entry is scribbled over, but I know we owned at least two of these books.]

Jan 24 "Ranger Rick" -$6.00
[a nature magazine for kids. I liked looking at the pictures.]

Feb 19 "PG&E" -$14.67
[Pacific Gas & Electric]

March 11 "Infernal Rev." -$87.52
[OK. Maybe it's not really an 'f' ...]

Mar 26 "Analy Veterinary Hosp. -- cat shots" -$14.00

...

June 15 "Press Demo -- ad -- Little Yellow Sch." -$6.24
[I remember this. Mom toyed with the idea of starting a private school out of our house. I know I was having trouble with public school and Mom thought it might be a way she could afford to home school me, I guess. She got a couple nibbles from the ad but nothing much came of it.]

July 8 "Back packers Tent, Sleep mats" -$17.81
[Tent? When did we ever have a tent? When we'd go camping we'd sleep under the stars.]

...

A very pruned version of Mom's check register from 10/12/73 to 7/12/74. I left out garbage service, grocery stores, cable TV, telephone, etc. Now I'm dropping this little book in the recycle bin. It doesn't even have Mom's name on it so it doesn't need to go to the shredder.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

dog & cats

Flash chews on her butt. Not her butthole. No. But just this side of her tail. Sometimes she'll walk by and there'll be this wet tousled spot, like some creature is riding her pelvis. She hasn't chewed herself raw this year. Not yet. Hoping she won't. We buy the hella expensive flea stuff, the topical that supposedly kills every flea within shouting distance for a month and the internal that renders infertile those fleas that didn't hear the shouting. But she gets itchy anyway. She probably picks up fleas outside -- a few bites and her skin bothers her.

We treat the cats, too. I've seen Sutra stop suddenly and bite himself. I haven't noticed any bites on myself. But Kent said he caught a flea a week or so ago. And I think I saw one, maybe.

Last weekend I bought new cat toys to enrich their environment. The cats spend the night and our workday shut inside and haven't had anything new to pounce on in ages. I got two clear plastic balls, about golf ball size, one having a plastic fish skeleton inside that spins, the other having paddles around which tiny balls cascade. Kent saw that the balls always maintain a distance from each other, so they must be magnetic opposites. Also bought a ball that's made of some sort of foil, looks a bit like a chrysanthemum. Sundy likes to bite plastic and foil. The pet store had lots of catnip toys, but when the cats were kittens and we offered them a catnippy something they were uninterested, so I didn't buy anything with catnip. However, there's a bulk herb-spice store that I pass on the way home from work so I stopped in today and bought a half ounce of catnip. We wrapped it up in a rag, tied it shut with a rubber band & wire twist tie. A few minutes ago Kent showed me how dampened it is. Making Sundy slobber? So Sundance has played with the toys. Sutra seems mostly suspicious, if not altogether fearful. This evening he walked by the catnip toy on the floor, sniffed it, but seemed to find the smell disconcerting and jumped away, skirting the toy by several feet to get out of the room.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Republicans helping gay marriage?

It seems the Republican Party sent out a mailer claiming that "liberal politicians" want to ban the bible and "allow" men to marry. I just saw the mailer at Atrios' Eschaton. The fear picture of the two men who are to be "allowed" to marry is of two very ordinary-looking men smiling, wearing shirts they could've bought at Target or the Gap, short hair, white. I realize that for the target audience ANY suggestion of man-man sex makes them stay up late, sweating and beating themselves (off), but my thought was, what a nice picture. No leather, no funny shaped hair, no racial difference, no disparity in age. This would be a best face picture of gay marriage: American Dull. Seems to me in the long run this helps desensitize the American public to the idea of gay people marrying. Kinda like a photo of little black boys and little white girls holding hands -- to a segment of the population such a picture would inspire only fear & loathing, to others (more others?) it'd be nothing to be afraid of. Some who hadn't before might wonder what's been scaring them.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Bush and debates

In a new TIME article Joe Klein says, "I've never seen George Bush lose a debate." Curiously, I remember Bush losing the first Gore-Bush debate. As research is at our fingertips these days I easily found this CNN article from Oct 3, 2000, which says, "a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken immediately after Tuesday night's presidential debate indicated 48 percent of registered voters thought Gore did the best job in the debate, compared to 41 percent for Bush."

Bush won? Only the way he always wins, by losing but being handed the win by others. The Republicans managed to spin Bush's performance (remember the CW coming up to the debate was that he was an idiot and would look foolish); when Bush seemed adequately intelligent in the debate, that was blown up into a big success and the talking heads of the media happily parroted the notion of a Bush "win".

Friday, September 17, 2004

optimism

The last time I didn't vote in a presidential election was 1988 when I was in London. I put in a request for a sample ballot and I think it even got to the house where I was staying but the mother of the family was also an American so voted absentee. When the election was getting close and I wondered aloud if my ballot was going to arrive she casually mentioned she'd received 2 ballots and threw one away. I protested but she insisted both ballots had had her name on them and she wasn't going to vote twice. I had put on the absentee ballot application that the ballot should be sent to me in care of her so I suspect one of those ballots was actually mine. On the other hand, what does one vote matter, really? I didn't want to vote for Dukakis. He wanted to rip children out of the homes of gay parents and that put me off him right good.

This election I'm going to be at a resort in Hawaii so I won't be able to toddle over to the Friends Meeting House to do the civic thing. Whee! Yes, I will vote. Either absentee or early at the registrar's office. I'll probably vote for Cobb, the Green Party candidate. I'm pissed at Kerry for dumping on marriage. If the vote were close in California Kerry would be dead meat anyway. But if the race were close I would maybe probably could be vote for Kerry. There are good things about him. A blog I discovered recently, andrewtobias.com is optimistic about Kerry's chances. Tobias says, "We won last time ..."

Friday, September 10, 2004

can Bush win?

He didn't last time.

I look at polls that show scary and amazing support for our current criminal regime and am baffled and appalled. How could anyone think anything positive about these goons? Yet millions seem to. Could Bush actually win?

As he didn't win in 2000 Bush would have to get more votes than he got last time. In order for Bush to get more votes he would have to get people to vote for him who four years ago voted for Al Gore. Are there people who will switch?

Geotpf at MyDD was wondering the same thing. He found a poll that asked the question. And a much smaller proportion of Gore voters than Bush voters indicated that they planned to vote for the other guy this time.

Thus, says Geotpf, "Logically, Kerry is a shoo-in."

A coworker last week was going on about how certain he was that Bush would win. He didn't like the idea, but what can you do? I ran by this coworker the notion that Bush needed Gore voters if he was going to win. As we are in Berkeley CA there's nobody around us insane enough to switch, but coworker claimed to have grown up in the "heartland" and have plenty of friends and family there and people there, he says, really rallied around Bush. Perhaps coworker could find for me a few Gore voters who'd seen the error of their ways and were now planning to vote for Bush. I said I was honestly curious about what such people might say. It's been a week or so. I doubt coworker has actually asked anybody, but next time I see him I'll follow up.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

comments on version 4

When a poem changes this much from its earlier version(s) one may wonder if it continues to be the same poem. Maybe call this a new poem on the theme.

"Our Two Trees" version 4 (note title change)

Styles of the Season

Spring

The maple

red


The apple

green
white


Fall

The maple

red
green
yellow


The apple

green
yellow
red

Friday, August 27, 2004

Info Desk Blogging

It seems someone didn't show up for their Info Desk hour so I've been sent to do the duty.

Busier with only one person on the desk. But it's not been hectic, exactly. I'm a little unclear on whether we're supposed to check the shelf for patrons who call in ... or whether we're just supposed to put a hold on the book via the computer and let a library aide hunt it up after hours.

... ooh, the time it goes so fast. Time to return to my usual cubicle.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

dreaming it up

Steve Mueske has been trying to figure out where a poem comes from. See his blog.

Steve says he dreams about working on poems. So I responded, "One morning upon awaking I found my notebook open next to the bed. There was on a blank page a very intently written squiggle about the size of a single word. It wasn't till later that day I remembered that I had been writing down a dream word, a word from a language other than English. In the dream I might have thought it was Spanish but I remembered wondering if it really was a Spanish word (or any word that might be recognizable in waking life), so I propped myself on my elbow and pulled my notebook over and wrote it down.

Maybe I should've turned on the light."

Saturday, August 21, 2004

bad writing

Nick Page has devoted his life to the quest for the worst writers of all time. By "worst" he means writers who are "so wonderfully awful, they have unwittingly arrived at genius ..."

Page disparages James Whitcomb Riley, a poet very popular in his day. An example:

Thweet Poethy! let me lithp forthwith
That I may thhing of the name of Smith --
which name, alath!
In harmony hath
No adequate rhyme, letht you grant me thith--
That the thimple, thibillant thound of eth --
(Which to thave my thoul, I cannot expreth!)
Thuth I may thhingingly,
Wooingly and winningly
Thu-thu-thound in the name of Smith.


*

I don't know. At least it's funny. Sorta. There's so much boring writing. I guess that's part of Page's point. I can agree that at times bad writing can be so awful it's its own kind of amazing. But poking around his site I keep reading work that's not really bad.

comments on "Our Two Trees", version 3

I didn't really have ideas when I started revising tonight. There were enough problems with version 2, I guess. I posted version 1 on a couple poetry bulletin boards, Haven and Melic Review's Roundtable.

I don't know that the comments were helpful. They weren't NOT helpful. But they didn't tell me anything I didn't know. Except that I got a more enthusiastic response than I expected. That was something, wasn't it? I'm not going to post this version. I'm thinking I'll wait for version 4. I don't expect it to be much different. But who knows?

"Our Two Trees" version 3

The maple’s spring is seed-first.
Red head to red head, the seeds edge
out in twos , the body of each a wing,
also red and still too soft for flight.

Out of the apple, however, spring spills.
Up all limbs buds’ dark shells have split
and big green leaves flop over
sudden white blossoms.

Monday, August 16, 2004

thoughts & thinking

First workday I've taken off since my mother died. I called in sick, feeling weary, achy, melancholy.

Have spent much of the day reading. I finished the chapbook Jack Martin gave me when he visited. Bark. Jack dares to be sentimental. Reminded me a little of Edward Field, another poet who gets sentimental, but whose writing is good to read. The horror over sentimentality. I don't get it. There are worse sins. Excess of sentiment. But what is excess? I wrote a poem once in which I talked about carrying around a box for tears. An editor called it "maudlin." Excess bad. Excess can be bad. Moderation can be bad, of course. Good can be bad. Etc. Many times I've had the physical sensation of a knot of tears in my chest. This is merely descriptive, not melodramatic. Not excess. Unless truth be excessive. Or fact. Or the presence.

Absence of sentiment. Can you have a poetry absent of sentiment?

My brother David writes about our mother's last days. July 25. July 30. August 5.

Kent suggested fish for dinner tonight. I like the idea. When I finish writing I'll go to Andronico's and get some fish.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

comments on "Our Two Trees", version 2

Why do I find this poem so tired? Certainly the subject is about as done as done can be. As in the first version I'm trying too hard to be fancy. I envy people who are good at description. I sure don't feel I am. Acknowledging that, I've turned my poetry to what I think are my strengths -- metaphor (not simile) that builds a story of itself, and imaginative leaps (often suggested by the metaphor). In "Our Two Trees" I try to capture the contrasts of the spring styles of the trees in the yard. But who cares?

Our Two Trees, version 2

The maple’s spring is seed-first,
in twos, red head to red head,
from each seed, not yet stiffened for flight,
one red wing’s been lowered.

Out of the apple, however, spring spills.
Too tightly packed? The leaves’ green,
blossoms’ white – hurled out,
thrown, falling. From invisible wire exploding.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

definition of art

from Edmund White's The Farewell Symphony:

"To me, a work of art is a performance of a certain length that generates interest." (italics in original)

Friday, July 30, 2004

Info Desk Blogging

My schedule is of such montonous sameness (indistinguishably montonous regularity even!) that I don't expect variation. It took me weeks to get in the habit of a Tuesday 11-12 Info Desk. Now that my Info Desk hour is 2-3 Friday ...

At 2:05 my desk phone rang. Sam: "Are you supposed to be on the Info Desk?"

One reminder later, I am, sir, reporting for duty.

A few of today's Qs: What is the phone number for the Library Board of Trustees (the board's last meeting seemed to have moved without notice)? Do we have internet access? Can't find The Poisonwood Bible on the shelf. I would like a library card. Eric Clapton CDs?

It's not been too busy. My Info Desk partner told me last week I'm going to be on my own for the next month. And it was really busy with her around. I expected craziness. Turns out there's not much to blog about.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

deleting

From a book of short stories that the library is discarding: "They operated and got the glass out of me, and I ended up in a nice bed with clean sheets and my own radio to listen to. They fed good, too, for a hospital." A patron has added a note in pencil in the margin: "Tampa General Hospital? I used to work there."

Friday, July 23, 2004

comments on "Our Two Trees", version 1

Time for a new poem. This one is from a 1991 notebook. I was still living in my mother's house in Sebastopol, CA. We had two trees in the yard, a trident maple and an apple.

"Our Two Trees"

How nice it is to see spring unsheathing from the apple’s
hard buds. The maple starts with seeds,
red, joined at the head, their membranous wings
hanging like sleeves; behind them the trident leaves
hang back, their tips like an animal’s capillary
bundle, precious and fresh, sipping at the changeable
weather. The apples bursts out. Leaves and blossoms
tumbling as from a tight back – somewhat difficult
to unpack everything, but once the first present themselves
the rest hurl softly into air.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

an old lady

My task this week has been deletions. I sit in my cubicle in the Technical Services division of the library and pluck a book from a loaded cart. I zap the barcode under the frog scanner on my desk. I hit "D" for delete. Twice. So the computer knows I'm serious. If it's the last copy of the book I suppress the record so if you look up the title in the publicly accessible catalog there's no evidence the library ever owned it. (But if we get a new copy somewhere down the line the book can be reinstated without having to create a catalog record from scratch.)

I don't choose what goes. Librarians do that. Many of the books are falling apart. Some are just fine. Many are old and irrelevant. Some I'd keep anyway. Do I succumb to my reluctance to see treasures being thrown away? There's a stack on my desk of those I can't yet bear to toss. Or was that five stacks?

From Conversations: Portraits of Age by Virginia Bonnici, (1985), pub Exposition Press of Florida:

"Her given name is Emma but she prefers 'Em.' ... ninety-some years ... 'There are dark and gloomy days but poetry will satisfy you.'

She recalls the years she taught in a country school and eating biscuits and jam, wearing boots to her hips and the rattlesnake and the horse -- stories enough for a lifetime. She doesn't want to write them down though."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

we get mail

I'm all a-dither. Somehow Loren Cameron found the little posting about him that I wrote last December.

This is the email that came today:

subject line: pansy little dog

Hey Glen. Nobody talks shit about my dog, Bix. Especially now that he's dead.
- Loren Cameron (That's MISTER to you).




Monday, July 19, 2004

The Evolution of "Interoceptor"

If you'd like to trace the progress of "Interoceptor" from the day it was first posted on this blog (4/23/04) to the 10th and final version (7/18/04), here are the links:

10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6? ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1

Naturally, I wonder what you, dear reader, have been thinking about this construction project.

FMA

The level of debate over the amending of the US Constitution to prevent two people from marrying has been pathetic. The people who want to amend the Constitution build their arguments on a basis of fallacy, their favorite being slippery-slope, a fallacy so popular and pervasive it's a wonder we don't all slide right off this slanted earth. If I eat that muffin what's to stop the next person from eating all the muffins in the world? Would that be a good thing? Hell, no! Put it in the Constitution!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

comments on version 10

Feels like the final version? Yes. At the moment it does. There aren't any squeaky boards. The ending is ambiguous but in a way that, right now at least, I rather like. Could be I'm tired. Yes. I am that. On the other hand I'm also not all thrilled by my achievement, which feeling tends to form a perspective that the weary eye disagrees with. Also, I'm rather tired of the poem. Must say though, when I can skim a poem all the way to the end and still feel it, feel a thing, even when tired, when tired of the poem, when there's yet that odd breeze blowing through it that, for the moment at least, seems to wake me up, it feels there. Feels full and open. Feels done.

Interoceptor, version 10

When the wind, cold with sea,
puffed no striped umbrella,
cooled no glisten of sunscreen on a shoulder,

when, yellow foam crackling,
wave after wave rolled kelp heads and their ropes,
and seagrapes hissed,

when, between washes, sand flea burrows
bubbled open, and, carried over them,
not one gull cut the white with her gray,

when no dog unhooked from leather leash
heaved himself at the frisbee with the chewed edge,

when, brown bottles broken in the coals,
old fires’ only motions in log-hid holes
were the falling-in of new sand,

when, in the dark spaces of dunes
no one turned to touch, and there were grasses
sliding merely against grasses, I

stretched out my arms,
eyes tearing,
left ear aching under the wind’s battering. I,

the one in stiff cotton standing up,
the one in hard shoes,
open,

the one
chilly, damp, squinting, breath
by breath moved

white, water, wind, sand

Monday, July 12, 2004

comments on version 9

Hm. Comments. Comments, comments. In the original the "I" was "a certain great smallness" and "felt large ... big enough to take in this section of shore." In this 9th version the "I" seems rather more humble, not even showing up until the 7th stanza. The "I" gets an eye-drawing enjambment at that point, so it's not like the poem has given up on the "I"'s importance altogether. The poem is occupied with absences in both versions. Many of the details are the same or similar -- dog, frisbee, broken bottles --, sometimes changes even echo the original -- sunscreen bottle v. sunscreen on shoulder, grapefruit juice vs. seagrapes. The original insists on the speaker's place, the role as "interoceptor" (that which passes on inner body sensations), the human being nerve, perhaps, nerve that allows the earth to perceive itself? Some of the original's metaphors are muddled, what with "bricks of the wall of air" and "the elbows of the ocean." Are there any metaphors in version 9? I don't see any. The "one / chilly, damp, squinting" -- that's a humble depiction, isn't it? -- moves "nothing but" -- but everything? What is left out of the last four words? Seagrapes, grass ... The "I" seems still to feel small though not so great, yet the claim remains the same, eh?

Interoceptor, version 9

When the wind, cold with sea,
puffed no striped umbrella,
cooled no glisten of sunscreen on a shoulder,

and the sand hadn’t been piled into castle
nor dredged from surf-fed moat,

when, yellow foam crackling,
wave after wave rolled kelp heads and their ropes,
and seagrapes hissed,

when, between washes, sand flea burrows
bubbled open, and, carried over them,
not one gull cut the white with her gray,

when no dog unhooked from leather leash
heaved himself at the frisbee with the chewed edge,

when, brown bottles broken in the coals,
old fires’ only motions in log-hid holes
were the falling-in of new sand,

when, in the dark spaces of dunes
no one turned to touch, and there were grasses
sliding merely against grasses, I

stretched out my arms,
my left ear aching under the wind’s battering,
eyes tearing. I,

the one in stiff cotton standing up,
the one in hard shoes,
open,

the one
chilly, damp, squinting, moved
breath by breath nothing but

white, water, wind, sand

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Laurel Canyon

Watched Laurel Canyon a few nights ago. The DVD. I liked it. A relationship movie. Written & directed by a woman. The last few scenes I thought particularly well written. A man and a woman in his psych program are mutually attracted; some nice dialogue in the car where he's trying to say he's sticking with his girlfriend and the woman asks him if he dreams about her, if he thinks about her when he's masturbating. I didn't remember in the press about the film reading that the two main female characters have a couple scenes of hot kissing. The same-sex affection is treated respectfully if a bit exotically. Nobody says anything disapproving. Except that the girlfriend and her sexy not-yet-mother-in-law doing the kissing might not be, the older woman acknowledges, the most appropriate interaction, considering.

There are, however, a couple lines of dialogue that stuck in my mind as unfortunate. The son, who is doing a psych internship, he's going to be a psychiatrist, tells his girlfriend he had to treat a patient who had a psychotic break as a result of taking the drug Ecstacy. This abstract suggests that it does happen, though they say "twelve cases of acute psychotic episodes after ecstasy have been ... in the [medical] literature." Considering the huge numbers who've ingested the drug that seems a number almost vanishingly small. The menace of Ecstasy is mainly the menace of drug war hysteria, not the chemical itself. As the young man in the movie who had the "psychotic break" was in all sorts of un-Ecstasy-related trouble it seemed facile and inappropriately fashion-conscious to blame Ecstasy.

The other line ... girlfriend says to boyfriend of her father, "He's a Puritan. He quotes Proust."

Come again? Proust? The definition of sensualist? Quoted by a Puritan? Isn't that like saying, "He's a Homophobe. He quotes Wilde."

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Info Desk Blogging

My usual Tuesday 11-12 Info Desk hour is no more. The library now does not open until noon on Tuesdays.

Today I'm doing someone else's hour (4-5), while she's on vacation.

I'll also be filling in for my supervisor while she's on vacation (Wednesday?) ... and I'll be doing my new regular hour, Friday 2-3.

... Already the hour is half over ... My Info Desk partner, one of the children's librarians, intercepted a little boy who seemed to be leaving the library unaccompanied by an adult. And very upset. So he's standing at her end of the desk while she tries to find his adult. ... Just as I wrote the last sentence the mother (?) popped in the front door looking all stern. "Come along," she commanded. The librarian asked her if she'd left the children alone. Addressing one of the children (there were now two) the woman said, "I told you four times to come along." The child protested, "But I was getting off the computer!" When the librarian tried again to talk to the woman about leaving children unattended she was talking to her back as the woman led the children out.

The librarian tells me the woman was a babysitter, not the mother. The woman left the kids because she told them four times she was leaving and they didn't come?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

comments on version 8

What I always say: Better.

I've fiddled with this line, "when no new towel darkened with loose sand," but haven't come up with a new version that pleases. I tried excising it entirely. Haven't decided. I've again reached the point further changes seem arbitrary, aren't improvements.

Interoceptor, version 8

When the wind, cold with sea,
puffed no striped umbrella,
cooled no glisten of sunscreen on a shoulder,

and the sand hadn’t been piled into castle
nor been dredged from surf-fed moat,

when, yellow foam crackling,
wave after wave rolled kelp heads and their ropes,
and seagrapes hissed,

when, between washes, sand flea burrows
bubbled open, and, carried over them,
not one gull cut the white with her gray,

when no dog unhooked from leather leash
heaved himself at the frisbee with the chewed edge,
when no new towel darkened with loose sand,

when, brown bottles broken in the coals,
old fires’ only motions in log-hid holes
were the falling-in of new sand,

when, in the dark spaces of dunes
no one turned to touch, and there were grasses
sliding merely against grasses, I

stretched out my arms,
my left ear pierced by the wind’s cold holler,
my eyes tearing, I

the one in stiff cotton standing,
the one in hard shoes,
open,

the one who was the one the wind left
colder, dampened, squinting, breath
by breath moved

water, white, wind, sand

Saturday, July 03, 2004

elsewhere

An Iraqi police officer on the treatment of prisoners taken during a raid in Baghdad: "The American [MP] asked me why we had beaten the prisoners. I said we beat the prisoners because they are all bad people. But I told him we didn't strip them naked, photograph them or fuck them like you did." (via Digby)

*

SFGate is posting photos of the gay couples wedded at San Francisco City Hall.




Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Info Desk Blogging

We had an All-Staff meeting at the library this morning. I always forget they're happening. If I remembered I wouldn't have anything to eat before I left the house because there's always food laid out in the break room -- bagels and muffins and melon and coffee. So I had a cup of coffee, a couple melon slices, and half a muffin, and skipped my usual snack at my 10:30 break. The new Peet's has opened up across the street. I walked over there and poked around -- yes, decent seating, a basket by the door for abandoned newspapers. The croissants are $1.95; at Starbucks they are $1.75. I didn't price the coffee.

Hm. Pretty quiet in here. Next week we'll be closed at this time because of the budget cuts. I may take a different Info Desk hour. Or not have one.

Nothing much happened at the All-Staff meeting. After the anxieties of previous All-Staff meetings, what with looming cuts and possible job losses, it was nice to sit and watch a video about the new RFID (radio frequency i.d.) inventory system -- once, that is, the tech folks figured out how to run the DVD.

... Had a rush of phone calls there and a few folks stopping at the desk. Aw, he's cute. Nice to get a smile as he goes by. A little girl comes by wearing a pink cloud of cape, like a princess superhero. A mother asks me to tell her son that skipping is not allowed. Oh, I don't want to do that. So I say, "Well, our floors are very hard and we do ask you to be extra careful moving around as anyone falling on them could get hurt." He puts his hands over his ears, then pulls the brim of his baseball cap over his eyes.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

no version 6?

I didn't post version 6 because it's barely a version. It's just a word or two different from version 5. If I'd thought about it I wouldn't have versioned on to 7. But I didn't. Not like it's a big deal or anything.

"Interoceptor" version 7

When no dog unhooked from leather leash
heaved himself at the frisbee with the chewed edge,
when no towel unfolded,

when, brown bottles broken in the coals,
old fires’ only motions in log-hid holes
were the falling-in of new sand,

when, cold with sea the wind,
hurried to my mouth,
the cold of it starting tears,

when, yellow foam crackling,
the surf rolled unroped kelp heads and seagrapes
hissed,

when, between washes, sand flea burrows
bubbled open, and, carried over them,
not one gull cut the white with her gray,

when no striped umbrella puffed,
no sunscreen shone on a red shoulder,
and no sand knew turret or moat,

when, in the dark spaces of dunes
no one turned to touch, and there were grasses
sliding merely against grasses, I

stretched out my arms,
the one in stiff cotton standing,
the one in hard shoes,

was shore,
was white, wide,
sand, water, and I

let the wind, warmer, go.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Info Desk Blogging

Nobody wants my Sunday hours, it seems. Golly, in these days of staff cuts ... oops! A coworker has come through for me. Wow. Now I take back all my grumpy ungratefulness. Right? Right!

Only a couple people have come up to the Info Desk. Several phone calls.

When I told the Circulation Supervisor that someone had volunteered to do my Sunday she sighed and said there are so few people she can trade with that she ends up working Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. This coming Sunday, due to budget cuts, is the last Sunday the library will open. Is that the bright side? Frankly, I don't mind Sundays, I just don't want to work this one. If there were future Sundays maybe I could've found someone to trade with.

Just now had a patron, new to Berkeley, who wanted to know what American Sign Language (ASL) videotapes we had. Not many. He started the query by writing a note and I responded with my halting sign. So he switched to sign and, other than the annoyance of dumbing down for me (fingerspelling when I looked more confused than usual), he seemed pleased by my effort.

The usual questions otherwise: where are the restrooms? how do I get a library card? this book isn't on the shelf, could you have someone search for it for me?

A patron just donated a stack of videos and CDs. From "Good Will Hunting" to Enrique Iglesias.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

from "The Tapir's Morning Bath"

A couple quotes from The Tapir's Morning Bath: Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest and the Scientists who are Trying to Solve Them by Elizabeth Royte:

"Save the rain forest and all it contains because it is there. Because it is wondrous and interesting. Because it has a right to exist. The more I contemplated what the loss of such places felt like to me, the more I began to think that some of these 'higher' reasons for conservation might be just as utilitarian as the food and gas arguments. ... To contemplate things we don't understand, to conserve that which has no 'use' ... If the rain forest and its complexity disappeared, we'd be impoverished intellectually and spiritually, as well as materially."

And one of the more amusing examples of the rain forest research: "In 1981, two researchers working in Panama [where Tapir author Royte has been studying scientists] baited traps with human feces and came up with twenty-two species of dung beetle in one location. Human scat, far more than that of any other rain forest mammal, is the type most avidly sought by dung beetles -- in some locations, up to fifty different species have congregated on devoted researchers' samples -- and the type most quickly sequestered."

[A description of the dung beetle's sequestering process:] "Using her front legs, the beetle worked the stuff into a ball, then rolled it backward while walking toward the leaf's edge [this beetle was collecting monkey dung from high in a tree]. When the ball and beetle fell to earth, the dung beetle fortified herself with a few mouthfuls, then laid her eggs in the remaining ball so that the larvae had something to fatten upon when they emerged."

Saturday, June 19, 2004

On the brighter side

Seems a scholar has uncovered a poem by Abraham Lincoln.

“Yes! I’ve resolved the deed to do,
And this the place to do it:
This heart I’ll rush a dagger through
Though I in hell should rue it! . . .

Sweet steel! Come forth from out your sheath,
And glist'ning, speak your powers;
Rip up the organs of my breath,
And draw my blood in showers!

I strike! It quivers in that heart
Which drives me to this end;
I draw and kiss the bloody dart,
My last—my only friend!”

Thanks for John Pawlik at Melic Review's discussion board for posting the poem where I could come across it.

an intemperate letter

I wrote a letter today. I got all steamed upon reading this article by Carolyn Blockhead ... oops, Lochhead at SFGate, the San Francisco Chronicle's website. I haven't sent the letter. It's quite intemperate, perhaps even unfair. After writing the letter I searched for other articles she'd written on SFGate and found some in which her vileness was not so obvious, so, I don't know, I don't want to accuse her of being completely evil in every circumstance when it's just that she occasionally beats small puppies to death with her wedgies.

Dear Right Wing Tool,

It sickens me that your article contained quotes only from those who want to destroy my family. Is there in your Rolodex not one single sane person? Considering the evidence of the article I'd say there isn't; you quote Tony Perkins (the president of the Family Research Council, whose only research consists of how to twist the truth in order to destroy families), Robert Knight (of Concerned Women of America, which would be more aptly named Women Against Women and Other Human Beings), John Cornyn (of the Texas Republicans who proudly announce their desire to see America Taliban-ized in a viciously Christian manner) ... and, oh, who's that I see?, way down in the article's 20th paragraph, it's a spokesperson from the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-family organization here identified as a "gay lobby that ... endorsed Kerry." Forgive me for overlooking her negligible contribution. To sum up the perfidy of the article, the concluding quote, naturally, is given to none-other-than the infamous Lou Sheldon, a longtime opponent of love and advocate of the destruction of families, yet he is not identified as such, instead being tagged merely with the sweetly cruel name of his organization, the Traditional Values Coalition; he's not even given the courtesy of being tied to George W. Bush by an "endorsement" or has he not done that? Has he endorsed Satan, an only slightly more moderate force? As I doubt you are ashamed by the brazen bias of this act of unreal journalism asking for something approaching ethical behavior from you in the future would be a waste of our time. Instead, I should say congratulations on placing this piece of shit in the SF Chronicle and have fun with your paycheck.

yours sincerely etc

OK. Now. More on Carolyn Lochhead? Maybe she's a lezzie. After all there's an article by her at something called "the Independent Gay Forum." Her article talks about how nervous those uptighty gays of the right are made by dykes on bikes and flouncy queens in pride parades. The article was originally published in "Reason magazine" ... it makes such odd claims as, "a quite different path [to gay acceptance in America] is ... emerging and appears to be gaining popularity among the gay intellectual and political elite ... The values of this new politics are far more traditional, even conservative, and yet its demands are also much more radical. [It seems, by "radical" Lochhead means what used to be called assimilationist, that is, being just like a normal person except in the sex of the other in the bed.] [This new gay movement] enjoys a distinctly American [?] moral appeal that disarms opponents, even as its radicalism inspires a fierce, instinctive opposition. [Instinctive? No, dear, this is a learned behavior.]"

I'd better stop now as, in the heat of passion, I have committed a crime of rhetoric. I've interposed my own judgments within the writing I quoted. That's a big no-no. Ah, but today's entry is all no-nos ...

That "Independent Gay Forum" seems to be pushing a dump-on-the-queers and praise the Republicans (2 laudatory articles on Ronald Reagan featured on today's homepage) sort of "Independent Forum." I tend to think it's better there's an Andrew Sullivan openly gay than a Roy Cohn closeted, but I'll have to disagree with Sullivan nearly as often as with Cohn. Ah, the war of liberation in Iraq, Andy, it's been fun!

Getting back to Lochhead, it seems she really is a right wing tool. My instincts were spot on! The more I google her the less appealing she becomes. She feeds lies to the lie-lapping Weekly Standard. She will pen an impassioned article about Welfare "reform" in which she will assert that the worst thing you can do for poor mothers is give them money. And what politician makes Carolyn cream her jeans? Why, the "principled, honest, intelligent and thoughtful" Richard Lugar!

But maybe Carolyn Lochhead can be depended on to make less than happy noises about Saudi Arabia.

We'll see.