Thursday, March 31, 2005

couch

Kent is stretched out on the couch reading me bits from the latest New Yorker. Sundy is between his legs. Sutra, on the floor to my left, sat up to scratch his chin with a hind foot. Flash is on the wood floor in the dining room gazing placidly at the couch.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

dancing

I've been half-depressed lately. I have a lot of the mental blocks but few angry-at-self thoughts. Mental block and angry-at-self have been such an inseparable couple up to now. They are so good at dancing together. Dancing together for days, each leading the other on to new feats of agility, high-kicks, pirouettes, and stamina! amazing stamina.

In the last week I've been noticing poet bloggers who've mentioned their latest rejections. Some even name the magazines that said no. In order to be able to report a no (or a nonono, as I put it a few days ago), one has to send work out. A yes may happen then. There's opportunity for it.

Monday, March 28, 2005

greetings!

Aloha mai kakou e na 'oiwi a me na malihini mai 'o aku o ka honua. Welina mai me ke aloha ia 'oukou a pau loa! Yeah. I'd just like to hear him say it.

Translation: Greetings to everyone, those native-born to Hawai'i and all other visitors from around the world. The warmest welcome I extend to you all!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

$300

I'd scheduled 2 poets from Los Angeles to read in the Poetry & Pizza series next Friday, April 1. I was prepping their bios to send out to our email list when I got a note from one of them. She was bowing out. No reason given. (The other refused to make the trek alone.) Curiously, on her own website, there was another reading listed for April 1.

When I wrote back to her saying I was disappointed she 'fessed to the better offer. The other reading was giving her $300! Let's see. $300 hometown reading vs. reading in SF (hours away), no $, free pizza & soda but have to figure out how to lodge self for weekend. Now if you've oodles of integrity you say to yourself I made a committment, I have to honor my committment, say no to the money & the audience of people who know me, and climb in the car.

I'm not sure I have that much integrity either.

I did schedule a local boy, too. He'll come through, right?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

comments on "Modern Witches", version 2

Days went by and I had a couple ideas. I could try it in form. Form seems to be good for humor. Since the generalizations about a group bug me I could recast it as musing on a specific (hypothetical?) witch. I may have had another idea but I'm not remembering it now.

The approach in version 2 below is a moving away from the Halloween witch, the Halloween cliches, toward the real fates of people accused of being witches. I'll have to brood on this some more.

Modern Witches, version 2

Do they burn the way they used to?
I understand they used to swim – or float, at least –
when everybody else went straight to the slimy bottom
and sat there, bubbles rising from the mouth and nostrils
until there wasn’t any more air to send back to air.

No doubt they fly. Everybody does these days.

Friday, March 25, 2005

updates at the poetry site

I finally did some updating at the LoveSettlement poetry site. The homestead.com program is not Mac compatible so if I do anything to the poetry site I have to do it at work, after five. Hang around the office after five? ... eehhh ...

But finally I did. The last "featured poem" was posted October 2003. I will no longer note the date of the "featured poem". Poems don't expire like milk or calendar pages but I don't want it so very obvious that I don't update the page frequently. The new "featured poem" will be familiar to regular readers of this blog, which means it'll be new to nearly everybody!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

blue blanket

From the weaver's booth at the Oak Park Fair Kent bought a blue blanket, a deep blue green fat stripe alternates with a slimmer sky blue. It doesn't have a tight weave. This is problematic as the cats seem to enjoy sitting on it.

You know how if a cat is feeling particular enjoyment he opens his paws, his claws splay out, then he tightens his paws and his claws curl under. In the tightened position he lifts his paw then lowers it spread.

The spreading paw extends the hooks which neatly capture one of the fat threads of the blanket, when the paw lifts the thread pulls up. Though we try to keep the cat boys happy elsewhere they do once in awhile get pleased with things while on the blanket.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

comments on Roger Pao's blog

Here.

Excerpts:

Pao: "Why do people hate Asian-American poetry? One interesting critique often levied against Asian American poetry is its engagement in identity politics/ethnic studies -- that is an evil per se."

Me: "I read the Garret Hongo edited Open Boat. I enjoyed it. I find context interesting. I had previously read most of the poets in Open Boat elsewhere but reseeing them as 'Asian-American' poets rather than 'just poets' gave them a new context. I don't claim any great revelations but I see no reason not to present a collection like this, especially since many of the poets included seem to feel being in the company of other Asian American poets gives them something that otherwise dissipates among the mass of American poetry/ies.

I think this has been true of women included in anthologies of poetry by women. Or Native American poets.

And I know I feel ... empowered isn't quite the word ... encouraged? ... something anyway ... something I like when I read a book of poems by gay poets; being gay it's nice to be able to put myself in the context of other gay poets (whether I ever appear in such an anthology myself). I don't seem to love the work more frequently than in other sorts of anthologies but I do recognize familiar stances, ways of being or thinking or looking, strategies of disguise and allusion or revelation. And there are in such an anthology things to which the ol' white male het seems oblivious. I like the opportunity to have context available."

Pao: "I've wondered whether there is the same phenomenon in the publication of 'gay poetry' as there is in 'Asian-American poetry' of not sounding 'too gay' or 'too Asian-American.'"

Me: "Historically one must say that the only way to publish until quite recently was to de-gay one's writing. I'm sure it's still true that gay writers tone down the details, despite the many publishing out & prouds.

I don't seem to write erotic poetry, I don't even write very many autobiographical poems, and you won't find many of my poems addressing gay-specific issues, but I would be happy to be included in an anthology of gay poets ... you've asked, is it an asian-american poem if it's subject matter is not noticeably 'asian-american'? ... is it a gay poem? a male poem or female poem? While it's a mistake to declare the context more important than the art, the context provides the art's frame and many's the time the frame tells us much about ourselves and audience."

on & on & on & on & on

You'd owned Denny's domes doubt ten he wearing fever end you'd dust dough bite rid employing

writing them, he said, was conversing, he said, putting his hand to his forehead to his eyes to his ears to his cheeks until his head was covered, he said, with poets & their poems making it a noise every Wednesday

here in the arctic we have a splendid view of the eventual merchandise worn applicably newsworthily and adjusted in successive sea-shifts

inland outland knoll bowl sea flee hurries flurries mountain poutin' once tons held smelled hurt spurt difficulty if it's bulky

pow pow power

the future is looking back at you

Monday, March 21, 2005

no & no & no & no & no

You don't send any poems out anywhere in forever and you just go about reading poems and writing them, conversing with the poets & poems you like by writing poems, and the hurt of the nononos gradually, glacially, geologically fades until the mountain that once held back the inland sea has dwindled to a knoll and the sea hurries off to sea as though there were never any difficulty getting there, in fact here's all this power this power that could have been held back by nothing, power you can't imagine being held back no way, so out it goes. And you feel giddy and you think I'll never be rejected again, because the time between the last nononos and now you've gone idiotic, in a good way, you think, not so smart you can see the future realistically. Idiotic in that necessary way that allows you to do something dangerous, as though there's no possibility of being hurt and what is a nonono anyway but idiotic. It's idiocy all around, except for the intelligence of the yes, which you doubt when it happens because no one really knows. Except one knows there's nothing dangerous here, nothing.

Which is to say I sent Steve Mueske at three candles a batch of poems and he read them until he didn't want to anymore and wrote me back nonono. So I'm sending them to tryst.

The Rhythm Balance

"Living In Oblivion (The Living Mix)" Anything Box
"It's A Fine Day" Miss Jane
"Don't Stop" Brazilian Girls
"Torn" In Deep
"You're the One that I Want" Asia Gang
"I Can Feel Your Love" Felice Taylor
"The Heartache Is Gone" Bettye Swann
"I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone" Paul Revere & The Raiders
"Home in Your Heart" Solomon Burke
"Alive And Amplified" The Mooney Suzuki
"Get Rhythm" Jawbone
"Michael & Anne" King Apparatus
"Balanco Da Canoa" Toinho de Alagoas
"Flotation Merengue" Blinky & The Roadmasters
"Mi Cuba" P18
"Frenazo" Tony Phillips
"Logozo" Sidestepper
"End Of The World Party" Medeski, Martin & Wood
"Hallelujah (excerpt)" CAN
"Sekusile" Dark City Sisters
"Let There Be Peace" Chris Murray
"#3" POTSHOT
"Fidelina" Alejo DurĂ¡n


This is my latest mix. Like the last one I posted the songs are culled from sampler CDs. This time the songs tend to the dance, though that's not just contemporary American dancefloor & Eurodisco but Cuban, Brazilian, Reggae, and Ska, as well as some 60s soul.

Tell me why I ought to burn you a copy.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

brushing

Sutra is licking his chest. He has a lot of hair and it's long. That is a small tongue. He has to go over his entire body with it.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

bags of clothes

I bagged up clothes we've piled behind the front door. These were clothes we've been planning to get rid of, to donate to somebody. Kent was handing me stuff from the front closet, too. Golf clubs, skis. I rolled up the trench coat I wore in London 16 years ago. It's not something I wear around here and it's soiled and I'm done with it. We drove down to Goodwill on University ... and as Kent said, "We're walking out with less than we came with."

Friday, March 18, 2005

comments on "Modern Witches"

I remember performing this poem. I wrote it June 1984. The not yet twenty year old me. And I think it's fun. I see the way it's paced for performance. The ending is a little gift to the roomful of poets at every open mike.

This is of a genre of poetry I've decided I dislike. Generalizing about some group. Talkin' cute about 'em. In looking at a new version of an old poem there's always the question how much / what of my present poetics do I impose on the poet 20 years gone. I didn't think all that much of this poem at the time. I thought it was fun and I loved to hear people laugh and people laughed. If I heard somebody read this at an open today I would laugh. Did I ever send it out to a magazine? I doubt it. But who knows? Get the people enjoying themselves you think you got something good.

This isn't a bad poem. Which makes it tricky. Tricky looking for a way in again. There are only little edits in the notebook. "calculate the witching hour" becomes "check the witching hour" ... "quantum theory and / toadstools" becomes "quantum theory and / the validity of home-growing toadstools" ... Otherwise it's as it hit the page. It's not something I'd include in a manuscript or send to an ezine. Not as it is. I just don't believe in it. It's ... inauthentic.

Modern Witches

Witches today use Black & Decker Power Lawn Mowers
and form co-ops
through which they secure freeze-dried eye of newt
at wholesale.
They install flood lights in their patios
and use teflon-coated cauldrons.
They invent spells on their word processors,
check the witching hour on their digital watches.
They take swimming lessons at the Y
and get their black cats at pet shops that certify feline racial purity.

They meet on Sunday nights and
over tea
they discuss hauntings
and dead relatives,
clairvoyance and
nuclear physics,
quantum theory and
the validity of home-growing toadstools.

Witches today hold down two careers,
witchery and secretarial work,
sorcery and politics,
magic and pornographic film editing,
voodoo and other things.

Witches are liberated,
but not loose.
Witches are close to the earth,
but many use pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizer.
Witches are very private
but do publish the occasional poem,
sometimes under an assumed name.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

iced tea & apple

I like to come home and sit down, preferably outside, with a glass of iced tea (from the sun tea jug, no sugar) and a couple quarters of apple. This is when the weather's nice. When sitting outside is pleasant. And read some poems. Or just look out at the yard.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ronnie & Jenny Go to War

1. "So Happy" Astropop 3
2. "Oh, Candy" The Hurricane Lamps
3. "Me And Mia" Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
4. "Misery" Partly Cloudy
5. "The Revolution Starts ... Now" Steve Earle
6. "Sweet Rain" Gene Loves Jezebel
7. "Between The Eyes" Love Battery
8. "Belly Laugh" Compulsion
9. "Tuck Me In" Alkaline Trio
10. "Yesterday Never Tomorrows" The Stills
11. "International War Criminal" The Slackers
12. "Interplanet Janet" Man Or Astro-man?
13. "All The Young Dudes" Mott The Hoople
14. "Sugar Blue" Jeff Finlin
15. "Rock & Rock Part 2" Gary Glitter
16. "Verb: That's What's Happening" Moby
17. "Nadir's Big Chance" Peter Hammill
18. "Love On Death Row" Chris Spedding
19. "Chicago Is Burning" The Lawrence Arms
20. "Wild, Wild Jayne" Groovie Ghoulies
21. "Foreign Land" SOFTBALL
22. "Jenny" Cretins
23. "Ronnie Is A Psycho" The Parasites

This is my latest mix CD. It's culled from hours of listening to sampler CDs (ones that come with music magazines like CMJ and MOJO) and odd compilations (the Schoolhouse Rock songs covered by alt artists) and the occasional soundtrack. It's mostly pop punk/rock. No electronica, ambient, country, hiphop or soul, not strictly. After listening to piles of sampler CDs I find I like more than I would've guessed. I always knew I liked a little something from every category and it's cool to find a few country and hiphop tracks in my mixes. Country and hiphop may be the two genres in which I'm least likely to find something that appeals to me but that doesn't mean nothing does.

Write to me and tell me why I ought to send you a copy.

What to do when the FBI shows up at the door

Step outside and close the door so they can't claim you've invited them in, says Ron.

Monday, March 14, 2005

marriage wins a round

California Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer has struck down as unconstitional (under the California State Constitution) the restriction of marriage to purely male-female couples. You can download a pdf of the decision from Lambda Legal.

Some excerpts:

"To say that all men and all women are treated the same in that each may not marry someone of the same gender [an argument submitted to the court in favor of upholding the restriction of marriage to mixed gender couples] misses the point. ... The argument that the marriage limitations are not discriminatory because they are gender neutral is similar to arguments in cases dealing with anti-miscegenation laws. ... [Quoting the US Supreme Court]: "'we reject the notion that mere "equal application" of a statute containing racial classifications is enough ...'"

"[T]he question to be answered is whether [an] individual is being denied equal protection because of his/her characteristics."

"[T]he starting point is that one can choose who to marry, and that choice cannot be limited by the state unless there is a legitimate governmental reason for doing so."

Tradition, the judge says, is not by itself sufficient "reason."

The news always says the decision will be appealed, which means nobody gets to get married even though to prevent them from marrying is so obviously not a state power and an abrogation of human rights. Hmf.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

comments on "Julie and MariBeth Both are Graduating" version 4

Again the changes are few. I'm not at all sure I can get away the line, "A wall stands up for me." I like it and I think it's too clever and it fails by its cleverness but there's something appealing about its failure. Could be it's out of place.

I returned line breaks to the piece and the banal dialog was painfully exposed. The dialog works best, if it works well, in a doesn't-matter-who-says-it sort of way. I like the naturalness of it -- sounds like real people talking -- but this is a tiny universe and the things in this universe are huge because there are so few things in this universe. Reading it the umpteenth time I think it works. This way. As a prose paragraph. Read in a rush, without the concentration of attention line breaks invite.

Julie and MariBeth Both are Graduating, version 4

Glenn! Dinchu hear me? A gust gets around my hair, been like that all day. Two girls, one dark, one fair. Hi. A wall stands up for me. I’m glad to see them. Really. Graduating Friday? No! Tomorrow! Seen any of the summer movies? One, but not really a “summer” movie. MariBeth stands beside me smiling, but she doesn’t say anything. Julie pulls her dark hair from her shoulders, lets it spill again from her hand. I want to be natural, but I’m unnatural. Doing anything? Well, really we’re late but it doesn’t matter. She bites her bagel. Coming to graduation? Julie and MariBeth both are graduating, a year after me. A year. I’m eighteen? As they walk on I walk. I hadn’t planned on it. You going to a gradnite party? No. A wind blows between what I say, what they say, what Julie says. A wind blows between the fingers I’ve taken out of my pockets.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

so beautiful

It was so beautiful yesterday. And it was warm this morning. I felt comfortable getting out of bed, the translation from covered to uncovered no shock to my skin. So I planned to have a sunny day.

And there was fog. High fog, but enough to blank out the view of San Francisco. When I stepped out on the porch wearing a Hawaiian shirt the cool of the air crept up the sleeves. Darn. I went back in to add a layer or two.

Friday, March 11, 2005

writing a book

C. Dale Young said, "I would have a meltdown if I sat down to work on a poem and had even a slight expectation nagging in the background that a new poem need conform to a 'book' or the idea of a book."

I commented, "If a project grabs hold of me, keeps generating. I bang on that iron fist that's got hold of my ankle till its fingers wiggle free at the joints and I end up sitting on a warped park bench wondering why I'm not dragging a growling metal critter down the street anymore and get to miss it."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Info Desk Blogging

Gosh, I haven't done "Info Desk Blogging" in ages. I used to have an hour each week on the Info Desk here at Berkeley Public Library but that hasn't been the case for months now. I sort of have a once-a-month hour, which would be this hour. The last few times I've been here it's been hectic.

When I wrote "Gosh" 15 minutes ago it'd been pretty darn quiet, then, of course, I got several calls and people coming to the desk with questions. The call I just hung up was from someone who was asking about Trouble in Paradise. We have 4 versions of something called Trouble in Paradise. Two of these are novels (by different authors) and two are movies (one from 1992, the other from 1932). The 1992 movie stars Raquel Welch and we own the VHS format. The caller wanted us to hold the 1932 version for him to pick up, "I called earlier and talked to someone in the Art & Music dept and she said it was there and it was VHS." The 1932 version we have is DVD format and it's checked out with two holds. The caller asked for Trouble in Paradise; the library owns four distinctly different items with that title; unfortunately the person in A&M the caller talked to didn't have it clear which Trouble the caller needed. So I had to disappoint him.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

feathers

Got a call at the office. Kent had taken the day off, was calling from home having gotten back from some shopping. "Feathers," he said. In the side room. Feathers leading to a bird. Bloody and dead. K says when he came upon the bird Sundy followed him, paused to sniff it, but was otherwise done with it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Update on Flash

Flash stopped chewing herself a week or two past. But she has these dry bald patches on her butt and tail where the hair seems to be thinking about growing back but hasn't made any committments.

Monday, March 07, 2005

dare I?

I've posted several times to my new Dare I Read? blog. Have been enjoying it. It's not meant to be a collection of book reviews. Rather, it's a collection of thoughts about what I've read.

I see the only person who's commented there has been my brother (hey d!), so I'd guess I'm getting few visitors. I haven't investigated stats services. When last I looked into free webstats a couple years ago there wasn't much available. I suppose I should look again. When last I had semi-decent stats for my poetry blog ages ago I would check them obsessively ... oh look someone entered "idiotic poems" in google then came to my site! 3 people visited in one hour following the link from my poem on that poetry bulletin board! Wow. ...

It's more relaxing not to be obsessed. People will find their way to Dare I Read? or they won't.

I do occasionally comment on other poetry blogs. That's probably how I get the visitors who turn up here. LoveSettlement has been blogrolled. I ought to put up a blogroll. It seems polite. Plus there are several blogs I read that I'd be happy to recommend to other readers. Postings about them slide off the main page and who has time to poke around the archive?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sutra sleeping

When I'm at the computer and Sutra is on my lap he likes to rest his chin on the keyboard tray as he snoozes. This means I have to type gently.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

award-winning poet

Paul Guest at his blog says he didn't win a contest. "Joan Houlihan has won The Green Rose Prize for her manuscript Cincture. Which is cool. Many sincere congratulations to Joan." Joan? Oh, yeah. Joan. Proves you don't have to have a brain to win a poetry contest. Or a sensibility. Or taste. Or be nice.

Guest goes on to grump, "But, damn it all, my manuscript was in that pile with hers. Over the last two years, its pulled in several finalist spots in great competitions: the Brittingham; the Beatrice Hawley; the Levis Prize; and so on and so forth."

Fuck that. Contests are stupid. They don't have to be corrupt to be stupid. Publishers fuss about how poetry doesn't pay for itself, that it's not unreasonable to ask poets so few of whom seem to buy poetry to help subsidize the publication of books of poems via contest entry fees, that contests give valuable publicity to an unknown press, that contests usually only break even anyway what with paying the celebrity judge(s) or whatever so entrants' fees aren't some super windfall, that contests often send out the winning book to all the losers thus the fee actually returns something of value to the entrant, that fill in your justification here. Said John Martin founder of Black Sparrow Press, "My whole thing was [that] I would publish only what I really liked myself, and there's got to be two or three thousand people in the world who would agree with me." I don't recall having heard that Black Sparrow ever ran a contest.

Is it unfair to quote a literary press success story when few presses do anything but eat from the publisher's pocket? Probably. But I wonder how publishers who can't make money off their books can push on, putting all their hearts into getting to press (& distributed & reviewed &c) books not that they themselves discovered and delighted in and drove them but books that some celebrity judge (no matter how admired) got paid to choose out of a leaning tower of payors.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

comments on "Julie and MariBeth Both are Graduating" version 3

Hardly worth posting this as a new version. A few small edits.

I may have sweated over the dialog, getting it as close to what we really said as I could, but it's banal. Without the punctuation it is difficult to tell who says what. Is this an advantage? Does it matter who says what? The words could have been said by anybody, really.

Julie and MariBeth Both are Graduating, version 3

Glenn! Dinchu hear me? A gust gets into my hair, windy like that all day. Two girls, one dark, one fair. Hi. I let a wall stand for me. I’m glad to see them, really. Graduating Friday? No! Tomorrow! Seen any of the summer movies? One, but not really a “summer” movie. MariBeth stands beside me smiling, but doesn’t say anything. Julie pulls her dark hair from her shoulders, lets it spill again from her hand. I want to be natural, but I’m unnatural. Doing anything? Well, really we’re late but it doesn’t matter. She bites her bagel. Coming to graduation? Julie and MariBeth both are graduating, a year after me. A year. I’m eighteen? As they walk on I walk. I hadn’t planned on it. You going to a gradnite party? No. A wind blows between what I say, what they say, what Julie says. A wind blows between the fingers I’ve taken out of my pockets.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Ah! ooh ooh. ah eee.

Sounds I make when Sundy turns his whiskered fast-breathing little nose into my ear when he's cozy on my shoulder.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

wow

Double congratulations to Mr. C. Dale Young who has scheduled his wedding/committment ceremony and whose blog has achieved 10,000 visitors in its 2-month life. I wonder if he's seen an uptick in sales of his book?

I've been enjoying Dale's blog. It's lighter than Ron Silliman's. And I've been finding other interesting poet bloggers via Dale's blogroll. (Unlike Ron's the blogroll at Dale's blog is cozy and small. And I'm not on it.)

Maybe someday I'll read their poetry even.