Saturday, April 30, 2005

Saturday night

Saw Blue Orange last night.

Saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy this afternoon.

On the way home from the movie bought the new New Order CD, Waiting for the Sirens' Call, listened to it today while I did the dishes.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

the gay news

I bop by gay news sites to see what's up with the community. And it fucking depresses me. Jeez. When lefties wig out about the fundies ascendant I always think, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? These Godly rejects have long declared war on me and mine. That they're orchestrating these lovely anti-marriage constitutional amendments in state after state -- coming soon to the US Constitution? -- and winning winning winning, usually with 2/3 majorities -- damn, it just juices them up. Now they're going to go around ripping kids out of their homes -- new law in Texas says if you're a foster kid you can't live in a household with gay (or bisexual) people. (I wonder if a gay minor can live with himself?) These people have got the lock on the rhetoric. They are pro-Family, when that means the destruction of families.

These people would happily torture Jesus to death over and over and pay for the privilege. Oh. There was a movie that just did that? Pain and death are way better than sex.

Wait. I'm too angry. I've been told anger turns people off, people who would offer sympathy if I weren't so hot. Golly, that anger, it makes people uncomfortable. They don't want to be around it. Sure, they'll vote against my life but they're only doing it because I'm so angry. If I were sensible and sweet they'd feel better about voting against my life but tell me they feel bad for me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

comments on "Night Poems"

These are fragments. Again from the Tales of the blue & yellow sun / work journal of 1984. I don't know that the pieces will cohere into a single work. But there are bits of them that seem to be calling across the space between dreams to each other.

Night Poems

1.

Somewhere between the dreams
I sleepwalk
striding without destination
down dimly lit corridors.
On the walls hang portraits
with deep shadows painted into the subjects’ faces;
sombre, forever brooding.
Lamps jut from the walls like trophies
in a safari hunter’s jungle bungalo.


2.

The window is open.
I stand in the hall door staring across the dining room,
hair disheveled, pajamas limp,
but my eyes ripped free of sleep
and my skin, so warm,
gathers cold bumps.
Unconsciously my breaths are shallow and silent,
ears pick up only the ringing in the air.

Doubts assail like persistent gnats,
sure I closed the window, locked it,
remember pulling the curtains,
was it even open yesterday?


3.

Haut [?] ascended the stairs like a chipmunk
the geometric shapes humming about
fingers up northern faces
of the marriage gated
where far away lights lost in
among handles.


4.

Mortgage gated
licking stamps

the key to the house
life insurance policy

she rides a horse
wakes with the carkeys in her hand

I’m sorry, that’s all we can do.
One shoots himself.

Monday, April 25, 2005

from Kafka's diary

From Franz Kafka's diary, Oct 22, 1911, he's been describing some plays that he's attended. A small Jewish theatre.

"The sympathy we have for these actors who are so good, who earn nothing and who do not get nearly enough gratitude and fame is really only sympathy for the sad fate of many noble strivings, above all of our own. Therefore, too, it is so immoderately strong, because on the surface it is attached to strangers and in reality belongs to us."

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Victory in California Violent Poetry Case

I picked up the newsletter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund when I last passed through the local comic store. The Fall 2004 issue, so not the hottest news. I vaguely remember having heard about the case of the high school student who wrote a possibly threatening poem. Seems it made it to the California Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ruled "unanimously [to] overturn ... the conviction of a 15-year old Santa Clara County student who was imprisoned for writing a disturbing poem." Good to hear one can still write a frightening poem -- especially in high school! Imprisoning poets would definitely have a chilling effect on the production of poems. Get an MFA, go to jail!

No, don't say that might be a good idea.

Friday, April 22, 2005

comments on "Modern Witches", version 6

I wrote this version the same evening I posted version 5. I went ahead and did what I contemplated in comments -- I rearranged the stanzas and pared the repetitions of the refrain. But, especially since I'd just posted a version, I wanted a few days to let the changes gel. I made some minor edits before posting just now. But I think the poem is done.

The end is sort of a let down. From the opening stanza's cold God to the closing stanza's burnt casserole. But it makes sense to me. It's a defying-God sort of let down.

I almost said I wouldn't write a poem so essay-like today. But I guess I did, didn't I?

Modern Witches, version 6

Do witches burn the way they used to?
When passions got God’s goat and love’s fire
curled his heavenly lip with infinite disgust,
did they burn more fiercely then in the face of that cold regard?
And for whom did they burn?

Way back when they’d swim – or float, at least –
while everyone else went straight to the slimy bottom
to sit there, bubbles rising from the mouth and nostrils
until there was no more air to send back to air.

Do witches burn the way they used to --
tied to a post in the town square?
God would take a soul fire had stripped
of sin, some said. By law we kill the witch,
the burning’s a favor. A little water
dribbled on a forehead just won’t quench sin so red.

Time was you’d look to the sky and see a body –
spread arms ending in spread fingers.
robes flapping about the torso like flames –
and you’d think, “It’s an angel!”
Unless it was a woman, then, “Witch!”
What do people decide in such a situation these days?

Don’t witches burn the way they used to?
When it’s an offering they’ve put a match to,
a smudge of sage, the herb that clears the room
of angry spirits. Oh, don’t be stupid. You knew that!
A campfire. A fire for cooking. Witches burn.
The casserole forgotten in the oven. That, too.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Info Desk Blogging (after hours edition)

Right next door is a big construction site. Condos, I believe. They've named the development "Library Gardens".

I don't know what to say about that.

Anyway. Since this is the library (and that manifestly isn't) packages for "Library Gardens" are sometimes delivered here.

There's a letter in the local daily that I find remarkable. (It's the 9th letter down, so you'll have to do some scrolling.) The head of the children's dept says, "As any parent knows, children live in the moment." Hm. I wonder about her airing unfortunate allegations against some of the employees she supervizes. Was that something she should have done?

Looks like as part of the citywide budget cutting measures the library along with other "nonesssential services" (essential: fire, police) will be closed one additional day each month. Because library funding comes from a tax that doesn't feed into the city's general fund our library director was hoping she could avoid the closure. Seems to be no. This will be an unpaid day off. You're not allowed to use a vacation day. For those thinking of retiring this year that causes jaw-grinding and teeth-gnashing because the amount of your pension depends on what you earned in your last working year. This is not really one of my worries.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Kay Loftus

Clive Matson sends me his Crazy Child Scribbler, which is made up of poems and announcements about his workshops. The latest issue features poems of Kay Loftus, who "died recently in her nineties." I'm guessing Kay took some of Clive's classes; none of the poems are given previous publication credit.

The poems use rhyme & meter & occasionally resort to archaic "poetic" diction like "Methinks" or capitalizing "Wisdom". As amateur stuff goes it's not bad, really. That's faint praise, I know. I'd chuckle at an open mic over, "I hate the feel of pointed shoes! / I'll never wear them; I refuse." But I had no interest in reading any further than those first two lines.

Finality

I think it will not be too hard,
to break my bond with breath;
I'll just breathe out
and not breathe in:
then saunter off with Death.

*

Now. I'll have to say I like "Finality". The only end-rhyme is breath/Death. I'm dubious about the personification of death, but it's been done before, certainly, and here it's not overdone. Death isn't wearing sandals or taking our heroine's hand. I like the speaker's insouciance. And the writer has an ear, the pleasing line of bs, a consonantal hard echoing the difficult hard of the first line. I like the repetition of breathe/breath, the mimesis of breathing. I don't scan lines much but here they seem to scan fluidly. I'd debate with myself about including it in a magazine. Maybe I would. What makes me hesitate? The sentiment is defiant but pat, a little on the cute side. It insists that carrying out this resolution won't "be too hard" and anticipates a jaunty "saunter" away from life. It's a very short poem. To keep my interest on repeated readings I'd like a bit more darkness, a suggestion of hard.

I like Kay most when contemplative, as in the opening lines of "This Kind of Stuff Keeps Me Awake":

I came awake and was aware I breathed ...
I marveled that so delicate an act,
not consciously engaged in nor conceived,
could be the force which keeps my Self intact.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Nazi Pope

Other than disgust I wouldn't really care. Except the Catholic Church helps fund the anti-marriage crusade around the world. And Ratzinger creams his cassock over the destruction of gay families. May God open the door for him soon. So the Catholics can move on to someone who also isn't a Nazi anymore.

Monday, April 18, 2005

comments on "Modern Witches", version 5

OK. Having fun now. I wonder if I ought to rearrange the stanzas? The final stanza takes us closest to the silliness of the original. But I think even stanza 4 is funny. It's all a big joke to me, isn't it? ... I'm getting tired of the refrain. But then I often do.

Modern Witches, version 5

Do witches burn the way they used to?
Way back when they’d swim – or float, at least –
while everybody else went straight to the slimy bottom
and sat there, bubbles rising from the mouth and nostrils
until there was no more air to send back to air.

Do witches burn the way they used to?
When passions got God’s goat and love’s fire
curled his heavenly lip with infinite disgust,
did they burn more fiercely then in the face of that cold regard?
And for whom did they burn?

Do witches burn the way they used to?
Time was you’d look to the sky and see a body –
spread arms ending in spread fingers.
robes flapping about the torso like flames –
and you’d think, “It’s an angel!”
Unless it was a woman, then, “Witch!”
What do people decide in such a situation these days?

Do witches burn the way they used to --
tied to a post in the town square?
God would take a soul fire had stripped
of sin, some said. By law we kill the witch,
the burning’s a favor. A little water
dribbled on a forehead just won’t quench sin so red.

Don’t witches burn the way they used to?
When it’s an offering they’ve put a match to,
a smudge of sage, the herb that clears the room
of angry spirits. Don’t be stupid. You knew that!
A campfire. A fire for cooking. Witches burn.
The casserole forgotten in the oven. That, too.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

audience

So one of the batches of poems I sent out not long ago got a No. Pooh. Up came that apologetic feeling. Naturally they didn't accept any of these poems, these weren't my best poems, these were poems I've sent around before and nobody else has wanted them therefore they must really not be worthwhile, if I'd had any respect for this ezine I would have sent more recent better work. Hmph. When I choose poems to send out I reread each one and if I don't like the dern thing I don't send it out! Sure, I see flaws in my poems. I see flaws in all my poems at one time or another. Sometimes I even revise them post-publication. But I sent this ezine good poems so I don't have anything to feel weird about. They didn't like them or didn't like them enough or didn't feel like the poems fit with their idea of their ezine or whatever. The poems hit or they don't.

Every so often I see talk about audience. Do you write for an audience? Do you picture a reader as you write?

I do and I don't. When I'm working on a poem I'm seeing an object. If you're making a thing and you see that it wants to stand up on its own you have to adjust its base and its balance until it can do that. Regardless of whether anybody ever looks at it. That's pretty much where I am. I'd be happy to paint the thing the bright colors that would lead to more sales if ... if I were making things people pay for. Or so I imagine.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

comments on "Modern Witches", version 4

We now have a fourth stanza. And the repeating line is "Do witches burn the way they used to?" rather than "Do they burn the way they used to?"

It's quite a different poem from the original. I'm enjoying watching it build its rooms. I sort of wish it were someone else doing the building, then I could just watch and not have to produce. When I was reading Oz books as a kid I'd dream of an Oz book writing machine that would knock out a new Oz book a year. I'm not sure why I didn't dream of a new author. Maybe the machine was taking dictation from somebody in Oz? In the tiny Ozian country of Oogaboo there's a tree from which you can pluck novels. Sure, a tree would never be able to do that. But a machine!

Recently I've been writing long poems, poems that I add to over the course of days, weeks, months. Maybe I should keep 4 or 5 poems going at once, the way I work through my stack of books. Write a couple lines on Poem A, then a couple lines on Poem B, then a couple lines on Poem C or skip C and do D. Practically it would mean I'd have to have simultaneous separate notebooks. Or I'd have to do my writing on the computer. I have been working on a Poem A and a Poem B. Poem A is in the notebook. Poem B is "Modern Witches".

What I need to do is get back to organizing books. I have several hypothetical books or books in progress, but I haven't looked at them in ages. There's London Transport, which is poems I wrote 15 years ago during a semester in London. There's fact which is a collection of brief self-conscious poems (you can find links to some on the bottom of the homepage of my poetry site). There's Windows, which I mostly wrote in Lyn Hejinian's workshop at Cal, a manuscript of poems using "windows" as a malleable metaphor. Similarly there is Houses. And there was Cities, but that one didn't really gel. Oh yeah. Telephones, which has become quite dated in a few short years as telephone technology morphs the sorts of phones we use. A book of autobiographical poems. So many! Easier not to mess with it.

Modern Witches, version 4

Do witches 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.

Do witches burn the way they used to?
When passions got God’s goat and love’s fire
curled his heavenly lip with infinite disgust,
did they burn more fiercely then in the face of that cold regard?
And for whom did they burn?

Do witches burn the way they used to?
Time was you’d look to the sky and see a body –
spread arms ending in spread fingers.
robes flapping about the torso like flames –
and you’d think, “It’s an angel!”
Unless it was a woman, then, “Witch!”
What do people decide in such a situation these days?

Do witches burn the way they used to?
Tied to a post in the town square?
Was it ever true that the fire that ate the body
cleansed the soul, too? The witch had to be killed,
the burning was a favor. God would take a soul a fire
had stripped of sin, some said.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Info Desk Blogging II

You have to read "Info Desk Blogging" below before you read "Info Desk Blogging II", OK?

So I said, "The library doesn't cater to blah blah blah." Soon's I wrote that an elderly gent pops up. He's got a slip of paper on which is written a call number. I glance at it. Ah yes, the books in that call number are on the second floor. "I was on the second floor!" he gripes. "That was where they gave me this number."

Oh. I pull out the library map. He sees me pointing at the map and starting to speak and decides to fuss. He was just up there, he's just getting the runaround, he wants an accomodation as a disabled person. I tell him I'd be happy to go get the book for him; we don't have a person available to go running to the shelves to pluck books for individual patrons. I was going to explain the hold system -- so that he could use it the next time. Too often when an exception is made the person who gets his way then uses the previous exception as proof that we-always-do-it-why-not-you-did-it-last-time. I didn't get to any of the policies. Rather he kept raising his voice -- and claiming he had a hearing problem. The only thing he allowed himself to hear was, "I'll get it for you." When I immovably continued to let words leave my mouth he said, "You said you were going to get it for me!"

The security guard at the front door stepped up to see if he could help and I sort of waved him away. Finally I said, "I'll get the book for you and be right back."

When I handed him the book he lit up and told me what a treasure it was and something about nuclear something, then he said, "You don't care about any of that, do you?"

A couple coworkers sympathized after the old man left. "He did something like that to me," said one. "He stood over me shaking his finger."

The other said two patrons had told her they were tempted to jump in on my side.

Aw. How sweet.

Other than getting kinda cranked up I was really OK. The worst thing is I only do the Info Desk once a month, and I only get a problem patron every third time or so, so I get totally out of practice. It's not until the interaction is over or almost over that I really get a handle on it. It's hard enough remembering where the tax forms are!

Info Desk Blogging

The Information Desk faces the Central Library's main entrance doors. It looks sunny and nice out there (I can't see the sky, only the sunlight on the faded pink of the building across the street), but a cold breeze comes in with the people.

Been at the desk 10 minutes and the big question of the day is, "Do you have tax forms?" The answer is, "Yes!" After back-to-back calls inquiring about specific forms I've decided to leave the Info binder open to the list. The other big question (asked 4 times) is our year-round, "How do I get a library card?"

We have a new hold system. Instead of running off to check the shelf when an item is listed in the catalog as "check shelf", then grabbing the book and taking it to the Circulation Desk to be held for the caller to pick up, we now put a hold on the item through the computer. Twice a day someone prints out a list of what patrons have requested then goes through the library loading up a cart; all items are then delivered to the Circ Desk at one time. On the whole this is great. But when someone calls who is anxious to get her hands on a particular book TODAY we don't rush off to the shelves right then; she has to come in and hope it really is on the shelf where the online catalog says it is. The library doesn't cater to the hurry-right-now crowd.

Monday, April 11, 2005

brrr

Just back from sushi. Mm.

Kent ran upstairs to watch 24.

I turned up the heat and haven't yet taken my jacket off. I will in a minute.

Sundy is requesting a playmate. He comes up to the chair and reaches out with a forepaw to snag a pantleg or the hem of my jacket. Eh! he cries Eah! I wave a toy mouse in front of his nose and that distracts him for a moment.

On the walk home from work I bought a Lotto ticket. I haven't even won two dollars on the last few tickets. I buy one every third month or so.

APE-related link for today: mkreed

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Shyness is nice but shyness can stop you

Lots a times I sit down to write something and my mind's a blank. Today my mind's awhirl, which can make writing difficult, too.

The fine weather sure helps my mood. We had a winter storm come through this week and I know it got me down. One day I waited more than ten minutes at the corner for the bus with gusts of cold rain affixing leaf crumbs to my damp pantleg. A girl without an umbrella or raincoat, just a thick scarf she'd wound tightly under her chin, shivered under the tree next to me, raindrops glistening on her nose. I tried not to cast her too many pitying looks. Of course it has to be the miserable weather day that the bus is late. Usually I walk to work. It's only a 15 minute walk. But one can get well soaked in those 15 minutes.

Enjoyed A.P.E. yesterday. Though we were pretty burnt by the time we left. Glad there was a crowd and hope that everybody sold lots of stuff. Saw everything from the amateurish to the amazing. Zan of Prism Comics said he gets emailed work by young creators who are full of enthusiasm -- "I'm the Next Big Thing!" -- and the work is gawdawful. He tries to say encouraging things and connect the youngsters to resources. A year later, he says, the same artist will be doing stuff that's just incredible.

Am I bold? Will I ever be bold enough to self-promote efficiently rather than haphazardly?

I'm always impressed when I see an example of someone who really takes advantage of opportunities. After last week's Poetry & Pizza a man who'd been in the audience came up to me to praise the evening and, because it's what he does I suspect, he launched into a spiel about his own work, toothpick sculpture. He gave me his card. He rattled off a sort of resume -- shows here and there, mentions or feature articles in this or that newspaper or magazine. He also recited for me a poem he'd written for his mother. Was he shy? No. But yes. He seemed personally shy, a little nerdy. All the great flirts believe themselves shy.

Friday, April 08, 2005

music

When I sit at the desk at work I often listen to CDs. At Amoeba on Telegraph they have racks full of clearance CDs -- every 4th one free! -- and I stock up on sampler CDs for a dollar or two apiece. As I listen I mark songs I like, then listen to the marked songs once or twice more and decide whether I want to add them to the permanent collection. If it's yes I bring the CD home and transfer those songs to the Mac. Gradually I burn the music onto mix CDs.

This is rather similar actually to the way I go through books of poetry. As I read I keep handy a stack of bookmarks. If I want to reread a poem, in goes a bookmark. After I finish the book I reread the marked poems 3 to 8 times. If I decide I don't want to leave the poem behind, I copy it into a notebook.

Technology has at last made it easier to copy songs than copy poems.

But I get tired of evaluating. Especially with a CD by one artist I will put aside whether-I-like-it and just listen. But then these are artists I know, pretty much, even if I don't know the particular album; whereas with the sampler CDs I'm often hearing music by artists totally unfamiliar to me. The odds aren't as good they'll be what-I-like.

Then there are the times my ears get tired. And I put the sound away. This happens reading, too. And reading poems especially. Because poems are rich and thick and require savoring. Sometimes I'll just read one or two poems before putting the book down.

I brought home a new anthology of poems that comes with a CD of songs. The book, Isn't It Romantic? collects "love poems" by poets of my generation (me b. 1965, the poets included born between 1959 and 1976). I listened to the CD at my desk and like these three songs: "I'm gonna watch you sleep" by Hamell on Trial and "The Ocean Cliff Clearing" by Richard Buckner and "She is my diary" by Ray's Vast Basement. I'm not familiar with the musicians. Of the anthology's poets I recognize several names: Peter Gizzi, Anselm Berrigan, Lisa Jarnot, Katy Lederer, etc. ... I've just flipped around and looked at lines so I don't know what I think about the poems yet. Find out in a few years on Dare I Read? ...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Hope

It's hard to post to two blogs in one day. Especially when there's only one computer and two people using it. Just about everything I post at Dare I Read? is prewritten. I keep a Word file (coming up on 40 pages) in which I copy out old diaries entries and comment on them, then I copy sections to the blog. With the LoveSettlement blog I write almost everything in the Blogger box. Then hit post. And hope Blogger isn't screwed up.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

it it it

it it a tit a tit a tit tit tea tit tot a tot ought tot tottle tot bottle what caught fought a fit a fit fatter flattened fut fit foot fine fun flat undat undone undittle what pit per spittle cut sit sut send dangle cuff mitt my mit hit cun tuncle sup pun pundle much suffer cat think wit one whit subtle bustle some stit tun tit a bit a bitten bit a bit cut fit think shindle stink sunder bun under stun tong flutter splatter suck tumble munch blund wall lang

Monday, April 04, 2005

the secret to publishing

Jack Martin writes, "I'm going to tell you the secret of getting a substantial number of submissions out without too much work: send out two or three submissions a week for a couple months (or longer--the longer you persist, of course, the more substantial the number). Then once they start rolling back in as yesses and nos, all you have to do is pop the orphans back in an envelope again on Saturday."

He goes on to say, "I used to send out submissions in blocks of fifteen or thirty or so. Now I'm trying to do it a little at a time. It's not so hard to get two submissions ready on Saturday and Sunday. Before you know it, you'll have a bunch of your good poems out to good magazines. And in about a year, you'll have a bunch of your good poems published in some of those magazines."

Jack is absolutely right. I've thought of this method. I've even done a version of it -- that is the popping of rejects back into an envelope right away. But maybe confining the marketing biz to a Saturday morning is the trick. The other trick is being able to shrug off the no and move on. I can. But there are those times I can't. And those times I can't have had the tendency in the past to build on each other until I'm shut down.

I had a migraine yesterday. Today I was really worn out from the tension of it so I stayed home and slept half the day. The migraine was different. Mostly nausea. Usually a migraine is so much headache the nausea seems like a mere side effect. This time it was the other way 'round.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

comments on "Modern Witches", version 3

I don't know. I don't know. It's lines.

Modern Witches, version 3

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.

Do they burn the way they used to?
When passions got God’s goat and love’s fire
curled his heavenly lip with infinite disgust,
did they burn then in the face of His cold regard?
And for whom did they burn?

Do they burn the way they used to?
It used to be you’d look to the sky and see a body –
human hands spread wide on the ends of extended arms,
robes flapping about the torso –
and you’d think, “It’s an angel!”
Unless it was a woman, then, “Witch!”
What do people decide these days in such a situation?

Friday, April 01, 2005

the ol' E.V.

I got good news when I checked my email this morning. Tryst wants 3 of the 5 poems I sent them. Right on! Now I have to pick out a photo of me that I don't hate and send it and the poems back to them.

Nothing like external validation to up the mood.

Plus which it was a lovely lovely day. And I'm looking forward to lighter evenings next week.