Sunday, December 31, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

comments on "Broken Arrow", version 2

The title in the notebook is not "Broken Arrow" but "Broken Arrow - Broken Phrases". It wasn't so much a title as an explanation of method. I took notes during the documentary intending the notes to be fragmentary. I like poems that seem built of shards. And I liked the idea that it was a poem "about" a charged political topic -- nuclear weapons and the possibility of an accident that could harm people who just happened to live near them -- but not really about that at all. It was more about breaking language and the charged political topic provided conveniently breakable text. Now it's even more broken.

"Broken Arrow" version 2

640,000 people in the country
depend on winds.


San Francisco Harbor
cruising around.
We’ve trained a lot of people.

Carried to a logical conclusion
the Soviets and Americans
already know
people will be unhappy about it.


Some sincere
endanger the


“Still dark,
can’t see beyond the light,
can’t see any fire burning.”

-- August 1984

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

comments on "Broken Arrow"

Yet another piece from August 1984. This one is notes from a documentary on the possibility of a nuclear accident (broken arrow) in the San Francisco Bay area. There were (likely still are) several nuclear weapons facilities around the Bay and the weapons don't just sit in one place. They get moved around, which, you know, could be dangerous. That's not thinking about the nuclear attack aspect.

I wanted to make a poem out of broken phrases taken from the film. I never did anything further with it. Shall I now?

"Broken Arrow"

There’s gonna be a collision in a fog
and nuclear weapons’ll be
scattered all over the Bay.

San Francisco Harbor
cruising around.
We’ve trained a lot of people.

We have less-than-high-school-graduates
guarding our nuclear weapons.

Carried to a logical conclusion
the Soviets and Americans
already know
people will be unhappy about it.

640,000 people in the country
depend on winds.

Planning for nuclear weapons’
accidents is just beginning.
Defense Nuclear Agency.
NuAc 79.
Radioactive contamination in the area.

Negotiate some sincere
Endangers the survival of this
The next broken arrow
the next nuclear weapons’ accident.

“Still dark
can’t see beyond the light,
can’t see any fire burning.”

Monday, December 25, 2006

comments on "The Old Lady Around the Corner", version 3

Merry Christmas. Days getting longer. Coming up on the new year. It's been four years of LoveSettlement the blog.

I know I don't have comments enabled for LoveSettlement. I do for the sister blog. I wonder if people read this. I know a few do. So if you know I know you do don't feel like you're slighted. If you've never said anything but wanted to, feel free; email's in the upper left.

I don't know anybody else who regularly revises poems on a blog. I am the only one I've seen who puts up his reasons.

I am posting this version of "The Old Lady Around the Corner", though feel a bit odd doing so. Why? It's so little different from the last version. Whether it's better or not ... I like it. I like not being in it anymore.

The Old Lady Around the Corner, version 3

She’s left us tomatoes
on occasion
and little sour plums
and the grapes that break
between your fingers,
loose in their skins.

My mother goes down
to her house, takes
extra apples,
some potatoes.
When she sees her in town
my mother walks with her
taking small steps, listening
to her talk.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

comments on "The Old Lady Around the Corner"

I think this is an improvement. By the details you know my attitude: the plums are sour, the grapes break. In the first version I behave "politely" and my "courtesy" is merely in "passing." Too much tell? Too pushy? In this version "I say hello. / I smile." Tone is difficult. I think the contrast between the description of my mother's involvement with the woman (walk with her, listen to her talk) and the description of my own (say hello, smile) is enough to indicate my lack of connection. But I'm not sure. Sometimes I think I've put enough in then find by not laying it out more explicitly readers will think I ... well, in this case, say hello and smile because I like this woman.

I barely remember the person upon whom this poem is based. I remember disliking her, but I couldn't give you any reason for it now.

The Old Lady Around the Corner

She’s left us tomatoes
on occasion
and little sour plums
and the grapes that break
between your fingers,
loose in their skins.

My mother goes down
to her house, takes
some extra apples,
some potatoes.
When she sees her in town
my mother walks with her
taking small steps, listening
to her talk.

When I see her in town,
I say hello.
I smile.

Monday, December 18, 2006

comments on "The Lady Around the Corner"

This is another poem from 1984. August, I think. I wasn't dating poems individually at the time. I thought it odd to date a poem when like as not I would make changes to it. To be consistent oughtn't one date every change? These days I write the date before I begin the poem and it's not so much to fix the poem to a particular date as it is to restrain its free floating. It doesn't really matter, does it? It's a way to impose some order, if arbitrary.

I like this one for its quietness and some interesting details, like the grape skins. I'm a bit put off by the poet's attitude, which, I think, is one of the reasons I didn't put a (*) by it. There are a few stars in the notebook and they indicate which poems I would read out at the local poetry series. But it's okay not to like a narrator if what he says is interesting. I'm posting this one with an eye to revision. Primarily I see myself cutting it. I've been told I can cut the heart out of old work. That's the risk, I guess.

The Lady Around the Corner

The gray lady walks
by outside.
She’s left us tomatoes
on occasion
and little sour plums
and the grapes that break
between your fingers, not
firm but weak in the skin.

Mom goes down
to her house, takes
some extra apples,
some unneeded potatoes.
When she sees her in town
Mom walks with her
with small steps, listening
to her accented English.

I’ve seen her myself in
town and have politely
said hello
but merely in courtesy
and on passing by.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dark Side of the Dorothy

So Kent has been fascinated by the idea that Pink Floyd's album, Dark Side of the Moon, provides an amazing soundtrack to the MGM Wizard of Oz. There's even a Wikipedia entry about the startling coincidences -- "Fans have compiled more than 100 moments of perceived interplay between the film and album, including further links that occur if the album is repeated through the entire film."

I brought home the DVD of Wizard, Kent cued up the CD of Dark Side, launching it, as one website suggested, on the MGM lion's third roar. We sat down to be wowed by the coming together of disparate genius -- Roger Waters and Judy Garland, David Gilmore and the Munchkins.

Ye gods. Whoever started this must've been really stoned. Yes, if you are stoned you will go, "Wow, the music (sorta) matches (once in awhile)." If you are not stoned you will go, "Huh? Well, the music SORTA matches ONCE IN AWHILE, but mostly NOT."

I was impressed by the clarity of the print used to make the Wizard DVD. But I suspect your iPod playing shuffle will provide as many coincidentally appropriate tunes to movie X. I remember playing dance music and flipping through random channels on the TV. Yeah, I remember thinking, that's a pretty darn good video.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Theo Jansen makes sculptures that stroll about on many legs. Follow the link to more videos (one of the videos is a BMW commercial, though the clip does not include any image of a BMW).

Jansen has his own site, but I can't get it to load.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

comments on "The Edge"

This is another poem I like from the 1984 notebook. I don't think I am good at description. Still, clean up the grammar a bit and "The Edge" draws a decent enough picture. What is "the edge of the world" and who was going over it? The whole party? As with the last poem I posted I don't see myself revising here. Yet I don't think it's "done" enough for publication. I like its strangeness.

I remember making a joke to Beth about divorce which annoyed her. How long did this marriage last? Two years? Four?

The Edge

That was when we found the edge of the world
at Beth and Jedd’s wedding
in that soft spot surrounded by
sun dried fields, cracked earth.
The water to feed this wedding chapel
of redwoods, plush grass, cream gazebo
latticework wrapped in lavender ribbons
is pumped through the ground to get here.
They are beside each other in the gazebo
speaking so quietly we in the back row
only see their heads nod.
A small plump minister in a clear voice
reads from her bible.
She invites the audience to help these newlyweds
stay together. “We will,” we say.
After the ceremony while the car is being painted,
the hors d’oeurves passed among the guests,
no one but me has recognized the edge of the world
and even I –

Monday, December 04, 2006

comments on "Morning of the Job Interview"

So I'm thinking I'm going to post a new poem-for-revision. I'm reading through the 1984 poetry notebook that I've been mining recently and I'm rather liking what I'm reading. In 1984 I knew I had a lot to learn; I was trying to teach myself, was writing descriptions and rhymes and scenes. I have no objection to poetry as therapy. Poetry created as therapy can also be art. Poetry play or exercise can also have lasting value.

"Morning of the Job Interview" is both writing as therapy and a writing exercise. As I say in the poem itself, "I write to calm my nerves." I was trying to describe the sensations I was experiencing and gain a measure of control over them. I am not posting the poem here in order to work on it. It's not bad writing. But I can't think what I would do with it now. One becomes better at something through working at it, through practice. I am a better writer for "Morning" and its like.

And, yes, I got the job.

Morning of the Job Interview

Already, as the sleep eases away,
leaks into is own reservoir,
the nervous energies attack my stomach,
as though I breathe insects at every gulp,
fingers itch within
and under my cheeks my flesh tingles,
stretches, shimmies nervously.
But my feet have contributed their heat
to my nervous fingers
and are cold. The energy emerges
in fidgets not warmth as I
pull at the hair on my neck,
rub my nose, cross my legs.
As an engine coaxed from cold inactivity
takes awhile to warm up,
so my mind in full gear runs steady,
without let up, flashing scenes
of today-to-come across my
mental theater. I write to calm my nerves,
steady my breathing, slow my brain.
But any relaxation
flows out my feet.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

me sick

Cough. Cough cough.

That COLD storm that came in Sunday ... if it's really just people that give you the bug why is it I get the bug when the miserable winter storm comes in? True, we did go to a play in SF on Sunday so I was around people so I can't say I was just walking about in the rain out of human breath range. But, it always seems to come in with the storm.

I've been dosing with vitamin C and zinc and maybe that's helped. I don't know. I'm coughy. Probably slightly feverish. I always like the husky voice I get.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


We had a pleasant Thanksgiving dinner at the home of a friend. He lives up the hill here in Berkeley. Lovely weather, great view of the SF Bay. We saw the sun go down. It went down fast. Ploop! Then the lights of the city coming up as the dusk settled in.

Back home we watched another DVD's worth of Queer as Folk. The drugstore at the corner has a rental library so once in awhile we grab something there. It being a long quiet weekend (& getting cold!) I thought it would be as good a time as any to sit before the flicker for a few hours. Queer as Folk is often kinda dumb but if you want to see gay folk you don't have a lot to choose from. And I don't mind dumb if there are compensations -- boys kissing boys, giant monsters tearing down buildings, whatever.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mom's baby picture

I bought a scanner yesterday. I've only scanned in four photographs. I don't know. Delving into the past makes me uncomfortable for some reason. But the scanner is easy to use, especially since I've just let it choose its own settings and, so far, those have looked good. It's not like I'm going to throw the photos away after I've scanned them; I can always scan them again using different settings or the next generation scanner. The goal is to get all the old family photos scanned then burned to CDs and sent off to those (still alive) who are in them. A good Christmas present?

Today's photo is Mom's baby portrait. The baby looks too old for this to be a birth announcement. How old do you think she is? A couple months? Mom was born November 9, 1921. The picture was taken by a professional photographer, I think it's safe to say. There were actually two copies of this photo in the photo album. It's a postcard print ("postcard" printed on the back).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Orphic utterances

So Jack Martin submitted a manuscript to a publishing contest. The loss included the consolation of a personal response from the editor of the press. Unfortunately, after comparing notes with friends who entered the same contest, Jack has decided there isn't much personal about the response. He reproduces it on his blog.

And here's what I did to it:

Okay, enough about my work is frightening that I will leave my desk evenings in a cold sweat that smells not of lavender but of a bluish citrus, while your work collects its shivers but puts them in wholly original drawers, which are locked each by a separate key, none of which seem to have been included with the manuscript beautifully realized though the adjoining coinboxes are. The manuscript in parts is thoughtful, smart, and often absorbing spilled coffee, which, for my money, makes it especially smart but, oddly, unintriguing. Your voice is wise for acre upon acre and the gerbils which overran it shat primarily on wonder. That said, I feel that you can be more rigorous in your mortis considering that the music in it avoids closing down its upper jaw even when there is an obvious fleck of spinach stuck to a bicuspid. Among orphic utterances, I understand, you are making choices, but for my taste, your choices aren't exactly bleu cheese. Some of the poems do not live up to the exceptional doorprize I got at last night's spaghetti feed. I suggest that you buy products containing only trace amounts of corn syrup.

Friday, November 10, 2006

it's nice

It's nice not to be depressed about the results of an election. Whether my big investment in the race(s) did anything beyond give me a warm glow, who knows, but that glow turned to a happy little sizzle on Nov 7. Of Jim Webb's uphill Virginia campaign (Webb being a former Reagan cabinet official, I had/have little expectation of agreeing with him on much), I said, "What's [my five dollars] gonna get him? A Senate seat?" Considering the razor thin margin of his victory it kinda did.

And going into the election I was sure all the anti-marriage ballot measures would pass easily. Even those that looked possible to defeat when you were poring over the polling had, up to now, passed easily. And this time 7 of 8 passed. But some of them were actually close votes. And one was defeated. The first defeat of an anti-marriage ballot measure. We got a win! Wow.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I just got an email from the Oz Club. Ooh. Oz Club being techy. How'd that happen?

The email directs one's attention to an auction of children's lit (much of it Oz) from the collection of Henry S. Blossom. I remember having heard of Blossom as the author of one of the first Oz sequels published by a fan, The Blue Emperor of Oz. I was told it's not a bad book. I can't say for myself. Haven't had opportunity to read it.

One of the items up for bid is an original ink drawing by John R. Neill. Neill illustrated all the Oz books written by L. Frank Baum (after Wizard) and all the sequels authored by Ruth Plumly Thompson after Baum's death. Neill also wrote & illustrated three Oz books after Thompson retired from the series.

Neill's first few Oz books were beautifully done, with Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz and The Emerald City of Oz featuring fine color paintings. As the years wore on Neill's work begins to look lazy to me, even sloppy, as though he grew bored with Oz and figured he could whip out the illos for the undemanding Oz audience then get back to something important.

When at last he had opportunity to create illustrations for his own stories you can see Neill take the books seriously again. Wonder City of Oz contains some of my favorite Neill pictures, including a wild drawing of two houses fighting while the Town Crier stands nearby sobbing into a handkerchief. The drawing up for sale is one of Jenny Jump, a character Neill created, being threatened by an animate fence. It's kind of scary, actually. It shows what Neill could do when he was interested in what he was doing.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Just back from two weeks in Hawaii. On our last full day we drove up to Kohala and took a hike in the Kohala Forest Preserve. Officially the trail was closed. Earthquake damage. However, anybody who can climb the locked gate can negotiate the trail, even in its current state. Which is not good. Big cracks running through the trail itself, hunks of the embankment collapsed onto the trail, the occasional tree toppled that one must climb over (or duck under). The goal was an overlook to the Waipio Valley, a steep-sided valley that ends at the sea. When we got there the valley was masked by clouds. There were a few dim windows to the wall of the valley opposite but even those closed up while we waited.

The trail follows an irrigation ditch much of the way. There were places embankment had tumbled into the ditch. But these rubble dams would not have stopped the water had water been flowing. Last year we tried to take a Flumin' da Ditch tour that floats canoes down these slow-moving old ditches dug a century ago for the sugar cane plantations. We were rained out, the water too high to allow clearance through tunnels. The earthquake end of October (week before our trip) seems to have killed the irrigation system entirely. No more tours, no more water for crops. Sugar cane production was pretty much uneconomic on the Big Island anyway ... Still, sorry to see the end of that and the canoe tours. There already was very little local industry.

The photo is of one of the flumes we passed. The boards are damp but no water runs.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I took a class in Arabic from Berkeley Adult School. I won't be able to make next week's class meeting so last night was my last.

I still know no grammar and have very few words, nothing that would be useful in communication. On the other hand I am familiar now with the Arabic alphabet and can sorta kinda sound out a word ... Arabic doesn't have separate letters for vowels (except alif which is an AH) but indicates them with little marks over the consonants. I haven't looked over enough Arabic texts to see for myself but I understand they are perfectly happy to dispense with the vowel marks (like Hebrew, K says).

Another session will start up in November. I took Arabic purely out of curiosity. That curiosity has largely been satisfied. I don't expect to sign up for the November session. I have little interest in Arabic culture or the Middle East. The language's noises are not happy in my mouth. I'm fine with the investment I put into it so far but learning more will have to come with greater need.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

throwing money at them

I'm not a Democrat. I'm a Green. I'm a Green because I agree with the Green platform.

I would never vote for a Republican. Because Republicans are bad people. They are just bad people. That's all.

Politics fascinates and depresses me. Not every election year but most I have thrown a few dollars at a candidate or three. $20 to this one, $20 that one. When Harvey Gantt was running against Jesse Helms the first time I dunned coworkers and rounded up fifty or sixty dollars. Ever heard of Senator Gantt?

It's kind of like betting on the lottery. It's not really an investment. You just hope that the government you get is indifferent, occasionally a pleasant surprise, and mostly ignorable. That's what I hope for from Democrats.

So, via ActBlue, I dumped $100 into the Netroots bin. I cringed when I realized I'd given Jim Webb (former Reagan cabinet official) even as much as five bucks but, what the hell, it's only five bucks. What's that gonna get him? A Senator's office?

Monday, October 09, 2006


This is a photo of my father and mother on their wedding day. The girl standing by my father is my elder sister. The boy by my mother is the younger of her two new stepsons (& my brother).

I took a picture of this picture using a digital camera. The green framing is the table cloth on which the picture was lying. I would like to have all the old photos digitized and give copies to David and Bernice and whoever wants them. I was thinking I might be able to take digital photos of them all but snapping this photo was difficult ... we could get a scanner or take them to a friend who has a scanner or go to a commercial outfit.

The wedding picture looks posed. I wonder who took it? The eldest son? Possible, since he's not in it. But wouldn't someone else have been there? Other photos show guests. But it looks like it was small affair, not in a church or meeting hall. This was a house. The wedding cake looks tiny on the flowered tablecloth. There are only eight glasses waiting on the table. Nine forks. One wrapped gift on a corner of the table.

Mom's notes give the address. There is no house there now.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I've never understood the word "precious" as a criticism. Is it a criticism of gold that it is called a "precious" metal?

But then I still don't get "sentimental" as a criticism.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Our fridge died. We have a back-up fridge. It's upstairs. So we hauled all the food up there. The upstairs fridge is kinda crappy. The freezer doesn't keep ice cream hard, for instance. And one of the shelves is missing. We stopped in today at Home Depot and saw a small fridge for $300, and there was a sign saying any appliance $299 or more included haul-away of the old. Turns out that wasn't the case. Maybe it was some special offer on the particular brand on which the sign hung. When we said we would like the little cheap fridge, the salesman looked dim. I said we had a small space and all the other fridges were big. The one we wanted, it seems, is pick-up only and there was no way we were going to fit it in the Jeep. "Get me the measurements of your space and I will find our smallest, cheapest model that includes removal," he said.

I didn't emphasize cheapness. Should I have taken offense?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

comments on "Grape Stuffing Contest", version 2

I tried to score this one as though I were writing a book -- each stanza break indicating a new page. I also tried to make visual the way I might present this is in performance.

New title. I never liked the old title. Yes, I was thinking of it as a children's book, as I intimidated Sunday when I posted the original version. I even imagined illustrations and thought about sending it off to publishers. But then I often think about sending stuff off to publishers.

Speaking of publishers, you know I have not gotten a rejection with the last four batches I've sent out. Matter gave me another yes just recently. (Which reminds me; gotta send bio.) I wrote a poem to their theme, "Fuel", but that wasn't the one they chose. The one they will include was one of my earlier LuvSet revision pieces. I revisited the last version posted and made some more changes. The changes weren't huge but they were solid improvements. (After that tease I'm going to ask you to forget all about it for a few months. Once the issue of Matter is out I'll talk more about the poem in its process.) The absence of rejection does not embolden me, exactly. But it is nice. And none of the yeses are from crappy places that embarrass me.

"How to Eat a Grape" has no metaphors until way down toward the bottom when the tongue becomes a dragon/monster. Does it work? Sometimes metaphors can distracting.

"Grape Stuffing Contest", version 2

How to Eat a Grape

Put one in your mouth.

You have to put one in your mouth before
you can eat a grape.

You’ve got one in your mouth?

Can you eat now?
That’s not how you eat a grape.

You have to put another in your mouth
before you can eat your grape.

You’ve got another in your mouth?
Good! That’s two!

You can eat now?
That’s not how you eat a grape.

That’s not how you eat a grape if
you really want to eat a grape.

One grape may be sweet
but one grape may be sour.
If you bite a sour grape --
It puts you off grapes good!

So what can you do?
Add another.

Three is enough?

Three is not enough!
If one grape is sweet
and one grape is sour
and the last grape is sort of sweet
and sort of sour,
it doesn’t matter because

grapes are so little!
A grape is not even a bite.
A sweet bite, a sour bite,
it doesn’t matter if it is not even a bite.

Two grapes, three grapes …
Four grapes …

Five grapes.
Five grapes is OK.

Five grapes are sweet.
Five grapes are juicy.
And five grapes fit in your mouth

You can bite five grapes,
the tight green skins popping
as your teeth squeeze them
and the juice

the juice gooshing into your cheeks,
and you swallow like you’re drinking
even before you chew.

But now you can chew.
One grape doesn’t let you chew.
It’s good for you to chew.
You need to chew the tough skins
and the tender meat.
You need to chew
or you’re really not eating.

Five is OK?
What about six?

Six is OK.
Sometimes five is enough
and sometimes five is not enough.
Sometimes six is just enough.

But sometimes six is not enough either.
What do you do?

Add a grape.
What better?
Add another grape!

Wait! That’s eight!
There is nothing wrong with eight.
Eight is not bad.

When you want to eat a grape
and what you really want to do is eat a grape
you can eat eight.

Or nine.

All at once.
Nine grapes.
There’s room!

There’s plenty of room for nine grapes!
And if you slip one more in
for an even ten
who’s to stop you?

And if you ease one more in
for a lovely eleven
all the better!

And if you push in the thirteenth
and sidle it over to a cheek
to make space for the fourteenth
and press it to the other cheek

to make a place for the one that
ups to fifteen what
you haven’t eaten yet –

you may have gone too far this time!
But maybe not.

This is not the perfect way to eat a grape.
We’ve passed perfection some grapes back.

But there’s nothing wrong with it.
If you want to eat a grape
and what you really want to do is eat a grape
then sixteen grapes is too many

but sometimes too many is only one grape away.
And you have to figure it out for yourself
where that one grape lies.

So if you’ve made it to sixteen
(and I have!)
and your jaws don’t ache
and your throat don’t gag
and your tongue’s got room to move
then add a grape.
Add a grape!

Tw …
Tw …
Twen …

Twenty is too many.
Twenty is too many!

Twenty is not comfortable.
Twenty is not pleasant.
You wanted to eat a grape.
This is not a grape.
This is a melon.
This is a big melon pushed into your mouth,
little piece after little piece.

What are you going to do
with twenty grapes in your mouth?
What are you going to do?
Bite them?

Where will the juice go?
It will drip from your lips,
it will flood down your throat.

And the meat and those tough green skins?
Where will all that go?
Your tongue will have to fight it like a dragon.
Your tongue will have to be a mighty monster
in its cave.

This is not a bite.
This is it.
It is all you can do to.
It is a feat, a spectacle, a mountain!

Yes, I have done it.
I will not do it again.
I will never do it again.

It is a big struggle.
It is a big struggle and it is not worth it.

It makes you wonder
when you look at a grape
how it could get so very big!

But don’t worry about it.
Don’t let it be a problem.
There is no problem.

If you want to eat a grape
and what you want to do is eat a grape –

eat five.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

comments on "Grape Stuffing Contest", version 1

So I haven't posted a poem for revision in awhile. "Grape Stuffing Contest" was written in August 1984. In my notebook I append, "after Judy Hardin". Judy is a Sonoma County poet. Her poems & performance are often exuberant, funny, dramatic.

"Grape" could be a children's book. So long as the publisher wasn't made nervous by the choking hazard. It reads rather like a script for a performance. It's a little cute, a little too cute. I see a few changes being made for clarity. Not for profundity. This is a piece about cramming your mouth full of grapes. ... What else?

"Grape Stuffing Contest", version 1

Five is no problem.
I eat five all the time,
one never has enough juice
and one can be sour
but five are always sweet
five are always juice full.
Six I sometimes eat
when five is not enough.
Nine and my mouth is getting full.
Twelve. I have to count carefully now.
Fifteen. The bulges in my cheeks
Are evident in the mirror.
Sixteen. Seventeen.
There is now no room for my tongue.
I wonder about twenty while
pushing my lips together with my fingers.
Twenty is a nice round number.
Twenty is better than nineteen.
But now there is no room for my teeth.
No matter. I cannot brag about a measly nineteen.
Nineteen is hardly enough.
Twenty it must be.
Tw …
Tw …
Twen …
Three and four press against my throat.
Eight tries to shoulder six aside.
Twen …
Nineteen and eighteen fight to survive.
Twenty! Twenty! Twenty!
I have done it! I have don’t it!
Twenty grapes in all.
Only now I must chew and swallow.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Petaluma Poetry Walk

I drove up to Petaluma yesterday to the Petaluma Poetry Walk. It's been going strong ten years now and this was my first time. I don't know, a whole day of poetry has always seemed a bit iffy. But toward the end of the week I was really feeling like I had to get out of town. And Jayne wanted to go; as she doesn't have a car I decided to offer her a ride. I don't have a car either. So I borrowed Kent's. A full day of poetry seemed even iffier to him than me.

But having Jayne along helped. We got to whisper snarky asides at a couple readings. That always improves things. So long as you can do it unnoticed. And when the poet is good it's nice to share the experience.

And the setting was a bonus. Two readings back-to-back were at The Apple Box, a cafe on the Petaluma River. The readings were outside but there was a decent PA system so even those of us not seated close in could hear the readers. The weather was fine, blue sky, light breeze. One noisy boat came up the river but had the grace to turn off its engine soon as it docked. Mostly, wow, it was pleasant, even just staring out over the water. I'm glad Petaluma has rediscovered its waterfront.

I remembered my camera! The first picture was taken at the Apple Box facing away from the microphone.

Geri Digiorno organizes the Poetry Walk and I was sorry to hear her arthritis is making walking uncomfortable. She said she was having to drive from reading to reading. I bought her new book, White Lipstick.

Don Emblen was among the poets reading at the Phoenix Theater. I'd never been inside the Phoenix and wondered if I was walking into the right place when I saw the kids lounging around the lobby. The interior looked like a giant Gilman St, Berkeley's punk collective, graffiti everywhere, even some skateboard ramps (curved to about 5 ft in height) abutted the walls. A drum kit and an electric guitar were set up on a raised platform on the stage, ready for a jam session after the reading. Don Emblen is 87. Either he dyes his hair or he has very hardly follicles. His dramatic baritone is strong and well controlled. He knows how to read for an audience, he does. Don was one of my teachers at Santa Rosa Junior College, almost 20 years ago. He served as Sonoma County's first poet laureate when the position was created in 2000. (Geri is laureate for 2006.) I buttonholed Don after the reading and we chatted. Neither of us seemed to be good at small talk but I'm glad I got a few words out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

a today

Look its a today it a day today what the day becomes becoming thinner at the edges not thinner no edges to the beginning of then the other day when the day ages no thinner thinned out thinned because worn worn down worn out worn on the body worming against the noon the zenith at the nadir the wing the ding on the cardoor dunces a final edgy wingy thing the day what came what came over under a table standing with a new head day after well after one day the done day one someone cuts a shirt out of the material edge the long bolt sewn into nuts into nights look look

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Beeswax #2

The handsome second issue of Beeswax Magazine came in the mail a couple weeks ago. It has a poem of mine in it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

alien(s) 3 resurrection

We finished rewatching the Alien tetralogy. A special DVD collection including Making Of disks came out a few years ago. That's what we've been working our way through (renting them from the drugstore on the corner).

I saw them all in the theater when they first came out. And I remember them pretty well. I liked them all to varying degrees. Most disappointed in #3. I really like Sigourney Weaver's Ripley clone in Alien Resurrection.

These new viewings did not, for the most part, change my opinions of the films. Basically: they all look good, nice dark atmosphere with convincing monster effects, enough suspense & creepiness to keep one interested, the feeling that you're really being taken somewhere else.

I liked Alien slightly more this time, I think. I remember buying into hype back when it was first released (I was a big sci-fi movie magazine reader). And I was disappointed that the unlike-anything-ever-before-seen alien menace was, after all, a guy in a suit. The scariest part is when Ripley, thinking she has escaped the monster, is confronted by it in the escape pod. In the revised version the scene with Captain Dallas glued to the wall awaiting alien impregnation has been restored. "Kill me," he begs Ripley. Not the last time in the series a character will beg to be killed. The best thing about the movie is not the story but the atmosphere, Giger's design work not just on the alien monster but on the crashed ship on which the eggs are discovered, the Nostromo, too, with its workshop-like grunginess, and the claustrophobia of being trapped in this limited warren of tubes whose metal walls are all that are between you and the vacuum of space. I think the movie a bit overrated but, still, it's good stuff, a quality monster movie.

And of the four movies Aliens is still the best. It's not a horror movie. It's an action picture, a thriller. Both it and Alien overrely for ramping up the tension on the countdown to supermassive explosions. What, the bad ass aliens weren't enough? But Aliens has a lot going for it -- characters just likable enough you're not rooting for any of them to die (well, except maybe Paul Reiser), a way cool big battle between Ripley and the alien queen, lots of guns and explosions -- and they feel like they matter. I read that director Cameron's preferred version, which we watched on DVD, is 20 minutes longer than the theatrical version. Didn't feel long. Rather nice being able to see the colonists before the aliens get them. In the theater they were all already victims (except Newt, the sole survivor, a child who evades the aliens by scurrying through the ventilation system). A great ride.

Alien 3? Well, I remember seeing it in the theater and didn't care much for it. It wasn't bad. An above average monster movie. After you get over the fact that the survivors from the last movie have been killed before this one even starts (except for Ripley) you can open your sympathies to the guys on the prison-industrial planet. Sort of. The biggest revelation is that the DVD version, director Fincher's preferred cut, is much much better than the version released to theaters. I mean, instead of being merely so-so, it's actually quite good. Fincher's version may be longer but it makes up for that by being more involving. The alien at large won't attack Ripley because she is incubating an alien queen. Why doesn't the alien nab Ripley and glue her to a wall? Because it's dumber than the usual alien? This time it was born from an ox! (In the theater it bursts out of a dog. No dogs in Fincher's version.) There are troubling bits like that but for the most part it's a solid picture. That's especially surprising once you watch the Making Of documentary and see how contentious the shoot was. Fincher was hired after a lot of development had been done (for another director) yet when he began filming there was still no finished script.

I'm not going to say Alien Resurrection is my favorite of the series. But Weaver's Ripley clone has such an appealingly creepy, otherwordly quality that I have to say I'm glad she did it. Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay and now that I've seen his Firefly show Alien Resurrection has the feel of a prequel or alternate universe version of the Firefly crew. Director Jeunet was happy with the cut the studio released to theaters but he added a few tidbits for the DVD Special Edition. Most significantly we get to see Ripley on Earth, overlooking a trashed-looking Paris. That was a nice touch, not necessary but nice. The premise of the film is shaky -- that scientists are able to clone Ripley with the alien queen inside her. Huh? But I like the way it plays out. Ripley is no longer running around in a panic. Though essentially newborn she's got an old soul and is not terribly concerned about either the aliens or their "meat". Plus she's got some alienish powers, like acid blood and superfast relexes. I was sorry the movie faded at the box office.

I understand Aliens v. Predator 2 is going to start filming this month. We watched the DVD of Aliens v. Predator last year. I doubt I'll see AVP2 in the theater. AVP was pretty dumb. Except I will give it this: nice monster battles.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


We hosted a poker game last night. The guys Kent (& now I) have been playing with for several years. The major change we made over the course of that time? Revaluing the chips from 5c to 25c. (Actually, I think we had 5c and 10c chips; but we'd forget which was which late in the evening ...) A 75c bet scares everyone out of the game. Low stakes poker, all right.

When I first started going to these games I had a lot of anxiety over losing. Since I was a kid I've had a lot of anxiety over losing -- whether it was chess or baseball.

I've mellowed. If I'm having a losing night I won't keep buying in & buying in. But I won't sulk, either. Even losing is cheaper than any other night out doing things with friends. And a big night ends with me five dollars up. Woo hoo.

The five of us had dinner at Dara beforehand. We've taken lots of guests to Dara, often to delighted exclamations. Dara is a short block from our house. Thai/Lao food, with Dara, the woman who owns the place & runs the kitchen, shifting the emphasis to Lao as that's where she's from and there are plenty of Thai restaurants in town.

Kent did poorly in the game but, he says, he spent more buying snacks. I did OK. The first hand of the game I got dealt a full house. And I think I won a dollar. I think I won more later with an Ace high. Yes, one person piled up the chips. When he was gloating at the end of the night I reminded him he'd been the big loser last time. "But I won more tonight than I lost then!" he said.

Monday, August 14, 2006

what's left

When I came to the computer this morning I glanced to my left and saw the feathers. Hum. One less bird, I guess. I'd be curious to see Sundy's hunting. Only I'd probably muck it up and warn the bird. No doubt we give him lots of practice pouncing when we drag the twig. Little cat makes sure of that.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

School of Quietude

"Duuuude! Whuh SSSUP!"

"He ain't talkin'."

"He got a problem?"

"That boy's got 'tude."

"Been like this all day?"

"All day, man. Like, all day."

"He ain't said nothin' yet. HAVE YOU? ... Damn! Dude could teach a class."

Monday, August 07, 2006

treats for Sutra

When we're eating dinner Sutra will often come in peeping (his typical vocalization is more like a peep than a meow) and act like he wants some, too. He will step around our legs, under the table, behind our chairs, will even stop and rise up on his hind feet, paw at the table's edge. "Give me some of that!" he seems to say. So, as I said yesterday, Kent, wanting to be nice to his kitty cat, will break off a bit of fish or chicken or beef and hold it out to him. Sutra will sniff it thoroughly (often while it's still in Kent's fingers) and maybe lick or nibble at it. He may even take it away, he may even chew and swallow. He may even look up expectantly as though one bite could hardly be enough for a big cat like him.

So Kent, happy to be of service, will break off a second piece. Even if he'd just gotten through swallowing the same stuff this second piece will end up at Sutra's feet. He will at most look at it suspiciously. Often he will flinch; surely, this time it's a trap. He will walk away and the tiny scrap of meat will cool on the floor until it's time to clean up the dinner things.

Sundy remains indifferent to dinner.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Neither Sundy nor Suntra are interested in treats. With one exception. They both really go for dried shrimp. Kent has offered bits of beef and chicken and cheese from the table at dinnertime -- our first cat, Maori, loved dinner and would hop up on the table and eat treats from our fingers. Occasionally Sutra condescends to eat something Kent has presented. Encouraged Kent will break off another piece of chicken breast ... and it will sit on the floor ...

On the other hand when Sundy sees me get out a dried shrimp he stands right up on his hind feet; he'll even do a little spin while standing. He hasn't made it the whole way round yet so I just turn him in a half circle. For a cat Sundy is very social and reacts readily to our faces and hands. Seems like he'd be pretty easy to train to do tricks if we cared to.

They like their kibble. Which is kept in the upstairs bathroom (that started as a dog preventative).

This evening as I was preparing dinner I was surprised to see Sundy eating on the floor. What? Eating? There was some gray-blue object under his chin. I bent down, then did my hand over the mouth oh god. A bird. Sundy had already eaten its head off and was contentedly crunching away on the body, feathers, bones, everything. I got a plastic bag which I used as a glove, scooped up the prey and took it out to the back porch. Kent says Sutra joined his brother. Later all that remained were three or four tiny feathers and a single bird foot.

I don't approve. I guess the most Pollyanna about it I can get is: at least they eat the thing.

And the mystery of the bits of feather under the table or at the foot of the stairs is explained. That's really all that's left.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

new post

Days may go by. How long is a post new on a blog? Minutes? Can we say days? So let's say days go by. Days go by and this post remains atop LoveSettlement.

Do you grow to dislike it? Perhaps you already dislike it. If you dislike it now and you visit LoveSettlement tomorrow will you dislike this post more tomorrow? If you dislike it tomorrow and you decide to avoid LoveSettlement for awhile since, it has become obvious, its author is failing to update in a manner that makes frequent visits a delightful prospect (for the novelty?) and you find yourself here again in a week and to your dismay the "new post" has lingered all that time, will you become annoyed with LoveSettlement and choose never to return? Instead shall you choose merely to absent yourself from LoveSettlement until after the Connecticut primary (lose, Lieberman, lose!) or until after Snakes on a Plane opens or until after you post to your own blog, which you've been considering deleting entirely because its aging posts make you feel guilty?

Perhaps, having written this post I will recommit to a daily LuvSet and those you-should-write-about-that-on-the-blog unborn posts will quicken and a great urge will push them, wet and deformed, onto a page where they will seem suddenly kissable and lively. You have no idea how much you will love us until we are real, the unwritten blog posts whisper from heaven, where, I suspect, they will ever be more comfortable than here.

I am writing this new post. And now I am posting it.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

15 page poem

I just finished typing a poem that took me three months to write back in spring of 03. Its genesis seemed to be war and marriage -- the invasion of Iraq and the opening of San Francisco City Hall to same-sex marriages, to be specific. I wrote the poem in a bound journal and this is the first time I've typed it.

The SF marriages, sadly, were nullified by the California Supreme Court and the assault on gay families continues. Last week the Washington Supreme Court decided marriage was a fundamental right, oops, except when it isn't. The judges in the majority seemed particularly taken with the idea that another oops, that of accidental pregnancy is best handled within the context of a married het couple. Which is fine as a proposition put out for argument but how the preventing of one person's marriage assists the children of another's escapes me completely. My first argument in favor of marriage has long been: it's for the sake of the children. A child deserves to have a legal connection to both her parents. A child being raised by a same sex couple is denied that. Her friend with mixed-sex parents has, it seems to me, extra special rights.

But of course, visiting vengeance upon children is a favorite old tactic of traditionalists.

And the Iraq debacle drags on, too. No good news there. At this rate my little 15 pager will be topical for decades.

Some lines:

Some families must be destroyed
in order to more safely ignore others.
This is especially helpful to the children.


The general scratches his sweaty balls
and sniffs his fingers. “Love,” he grumbles.
“Fucking love, goddamn joy, sickening grace and peace …
If we whack it hard enough it will explode
like a bomb. Which it was all the time. Peace!
… deserves all the blame for the explosion.”


A breath wanders the surface,
belonging to no one.
Lost? Not lost.
A fish mouth nibbles its dragging toes.


And what is this rising from the bush,
wide-eyed, a shock of white in its hair?
The bride.
For if a lady cannot marry a proper lady for love
she must marry a prickery shrub.
She’s picking burrs and leaf litter from her tongue
with fingers gone fumbly with bandages.

A lightning bolt jerks by overhead
in search of a sweepstakes winner.
It will settle for an honest man.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

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Monday, July 17, 2006

nice day in Berkeley

I didn't go anywhere today. I went to the store for a few things. Brought home deli items and zapped one of the chicken thighs Kent cooked up a couple days ago. That was lunch. Did a few chore-ish things. Trying to clean out old junk from the back yard so removed from the tool shed a plastic bucket filled with some long dried putty or paint or something. The first big item in this week's trash bin.

Did some reading. Started a long prose piece that I've been thinking about for the last month or so. I was typing while the sun beat down on me from the window, my face hid beneath the brim of a baseball cap.

I lugged an old computer monitor upstairs. It's not been in use and we could use the desk space. One of the items piled on it was my senior year high school yearbook. The other day the name of one of my classmates came to me and I googled him. Seems he's now running the Sonoma County Fair. With the book open in my lap the prospect of doing the whatever-happened-to with more of those old high schoolers seemed doable in a way that it just hadn't before. It's not like high school has much meaning to me. These were faces I was trapped with rather than chose to see. I don't feel nostalgia. But even if you've never gotten hooked on the 7up series you can probably agree there is something story-like about people's lives. And I was there to see some story (& I was at least peripherally involved) so, you know, curiosity sets in. What happened next?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

stolen cherries

When Kent came home today he went back to the cherry trees to pick the last few. Nothing remained. In order for anyone to have stolen the last cherries they would have had to use a ladder.

St Augustine felt most guilty about stealing pears from a neighbor’s trees. He obsesses over it in his Confessions. I’m not sure he did any of us any favors by converting to Catholicism to assuage his guilt over pears. Bad enough he stole the damn things.

And it doesn’t sound like much. A few cherries. You could buy more with five bucks at the supermarket a block away than our two trees together produce in one season. The supermarket cherries don’t taste as good. And we didn’t wait all year for them, watching the blossoms, then the small hard fruits swell and change color.

Money doesn’t grow on trees. As if what grew on trees were free.

Monday, July 10, 2006


We have two cherry trees in the back yard. Last year and, I think, the year before there were no cherries, or maybe a handful. When an ant colony sets up an aphid farm on one or both trees we seem to have no harvest. This year I decided I was going to attack any aphid husbandry I saw. But for whatever reason there wasn’t any. Last summer I cleared out the berry vines that swarmed around the trees; maybe that had something to do with it. The best crop we had up to now was stolen by workers with ladders who were cleaning (or painting) the apartment house next door.

When ladders appeared late last week I was afraid history would repeat. The apartment building was being repainted. But this time they left our cherries alone. And we were able to munch on ‘em ourselves. The whole harvest was a pound or so max. But sweeet and juicy. A few Kent thinks aren’t yet dark enough still await plucking. Maybe I should give them another looksee after I post this.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Glenn Ingersoll

I'm the Glenn Ingersoll you see when you google that name. Mostly.

There's another Glenn Ingersoll who's been tiptoeing into my search results. This other Glenn Ingersoll first came to my attention as having something to do with bluegrass -- was he a bluegrass musician? or, as the cryptic mention I read seemed to suggest, was "Glenn Ingersoll" the name of the band?

From that tiny mention this other GI's web presence has grown. He has an imdb page. Seems Glenn Ingersoll is a filmmaker who made a documentary about bluegrass music. And now he's joined up with two other filmmakers to start a production company called Hit Media.

I found a demo reel on their website. And it starts with a fellow in a leather jacket striding around a streetcorner saying, "Hi! I'm Glenn Ingersoll." Now, I've never heard anybody else say that so it's kind of a startler. He's not bad looking, which is a relief? A bit older. Canadian. OK. If I'm ever in New Brunswick I'll look him up.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

3 new poems

Siren, a new lit ezine edited by Sara Kearns, has posted its first issue.

There are three poems in it by me.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

old poetry friend

The phone rang shortly after Kent left for the gym. I was in the midst of writing an email to a poet inviting him to read for Poetry & Pizza. When the phone rang I have to say I was expecting one of those random sales calls where you answer the phone with a cheery Hello! then find yourself waiting a full second while the computer calling system connects you to someone who likely hasn’t yet even heard your voice. If I don’t get a responding voice in a normal human interval I hang up. More than once I’ve heard their hello just as the receiver subsides to the cradle. Yes, this means nobody calls me.

The person on the line turned out to be Jayne McPherson, a poet I knew in Sonoma County, a member of the Russian River Writers’ Guild. She said she was hunting up people she hadn’t heard from in a long time. I guess she got my number from Richard Speakes, a poet & mentor from Santa Rosa Junior College. I’ve asked Richard to read for P&P; last time he sent me an appreciative note but begged off because he just hasn’t been able to get around much. Jayne says he’s now recuperating from back surgery. Ouch. Hope it was a kind cut.

Being as she hasn’t been around it lately, Jayne wondered if I had any recommendations concerning the Bay Area poetry scene. Places to go, poets to read, magazines to pick up? I didn’t have much to offer. Poetry & Pizza? Otherwise it’s the rare reading I’ve hauled my carcass to. Far’s poets & magazines go there are so many and what you like depends a lot on your tastes. I told her I’d been reading a lot of poets’ blogs.

Nice to hear Jayne’s voice. Now let’s see, what other SoCo poets do I wonder about now & then? Ann Erickson. Marianne Ware. Elizabeth Herron. Don Emblen. I should Google ‘em.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

San Francisco Gay Freedom Day

Kent and I didn’t get over to San Francisco till two on Sunday. Looked like the parade had just ended. A few of the metal barricades were being collected. There was a lot of glitter in the gutter. And the cold water bottle vendors were knocking a dollar off their festival prices. But there were still a lot of people. More as we walked up Market Street to Civic Center Plaza where all the community booths and tchotchke booths were snuggled amongst a still pressing sea of humanity and the music stages were pumping loud distortion overhead.

I’m sorry we missed the parade entirely. I like to watch it. Not the whole thing, but enough for a taste. The cheerleaders doing a quick pyramid or a giant penis made of helium-filled balloons or something.

But the weather was nice – sunny with a cooling breeze, the fog holding off. We weren’t there long enough to get sunburns. I got some vibes, got to wade in the gay, and that was the goal. Why live across the bay from SF if you never take advantage of it?

Saturday, June 24, 2006


The Berkeley Public Library has affixed to every item in its collection an RFID tag. (RFID = radio frequency identification) Yes, in daily shifts we all stripped the silvery radio transmitting i.d. stickers from their slick backing and pressed them onto the covers of the books. (I wasn’t involved in affixing the RFID “doughnuts” to the CDs and DVDs or the long strips that went into the VHS tape cases.) It was a big chore, took months, but the idea was that patrons would take over the check out process. The library had too many people doing the same simple tasks over & over and getting repetitive stress injuries. And, frankly, check out is boring. I sure don’t mind having the patrons handle it so I can do other projects – or have time to answer informational questions.

When the RFID check out machines work they’re great. And when they don’t?

It ain’t much fun. I suppose it’s not much different than when we were supposed to check out every item to every patron. But now that we’re not supposed to do that we are assigned other tasks. A new and popular service, for instance, is the option of calling a book on the shelf at West Branch to Claremont Branch (or any branch). We search the shelves for between ten and twenty such requests twice each day. Didn’t do that this morning at Claremont. The self-checkout machines were down.

Perhaps as a consequence every library item that went out the door set off the RFID gates. EEP, they squeaked again & again. The lady holding one book I’d just checked out to her using the staff RFID checkout machine would look over her shoulder at me. And I’d say, “It’s OK. Go on through.”

Friday, June 23, 2006


Wednesday I plucked from my p.o. box a letter from my friend Diana. Included in the envelope is a snapshot of herself & her adult daughter standing outside a gallery in Healdsburg. When I got home I found the latest issue of AAA's travel magazine, VIA. Illustrating an article about Healdsburg is a photo of the same gallery from virtually the same angle. I rather wondered why Diana & Karina weren't in the frame.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

comments on "Bubble bejeweled" version 5

Those of you who also can tinker endlessly probably know what's going on here. One little tweak and the poem is vastly improved. Isn't it? Even if it's just slightly improved, surely that's good, too! Worth inflicting on my loyal readers? Oh sure. Nothing's too good (or too minor, or too ... bad?) to offer up to my long-suffering and short-tempered dear readers.

I decided the grammar of the last version could be read to have my face "breaking open," rather than the water ... while amusing in a horror movie sort of way, I thought I ought to try another arrangement. Long as I was changin' I threw in that "my" I mused about in the last comments and switched "its" for "the", deciding the possessive made the water seem an agent (if it were the water's skin) whereas "the" struck me a bit more ... neutral? definite? ... whether it was my skin or the water's.

Stanza two is starting to wear thin. I mean, is it really clear what's happening? ... "feeling" ... didn't I just say I didn't want the water to seem an agent? if it's not a creature then what's it doing "feeling"?

"Bubble bejeweled" version 5

   Having poured the water 

bubbles all
through it and
breaking it

I lower my face to the glass

my closed eye
feeling the skin

Friday, June 16, 2006

comments on "Bubble bejeweled" version 4

Maybe "my closed eye" rather than just "closed eye" ... I rather like the last word of the previous stanza being "open" and the first word of the next being "closed" but the bare "closed eye" sounds artificially shorn. Otherwise this version has a good feel to it.

The poem was first written twenty years ago when I put my face to the seething mineral water I'd just poured from a bottle. Yesterday when I emptied a can of seltzer water into a glass I replicated the gesture. Tiny cool dots touching the skin of my eyelid. Before I did that I'd been considering the word "flinching" ... wouldn't the unexpected misting on my sensitive eyelid cause it to twitch? ... it didn't.

"Bubble bejeweled" version 4

Having poured the water I lower my face to the glass

bubbles all
through it and
breaking it

closed eye
feeling its skin

Thursday, June 15, 2006

translating at the fruit stand

Today at the Farmers' Market an elderly anglo woman asked the vendor, a middle-aged mexican, "Do these keep?"

He didn't understand. "No entiendes?" she asked ("You don't understand?"). But that seemed to be the extent of the Spanish she could martial to her dilemma.

Frankly, I didn't understand. I thought she meant the strawberries, but she meant the loquats. My little mind went searching around in its drawers for a Spanish version of the word "keep" ... "Mentener?" I suggested. The vendor corrected me, "Mantener?"

"Is that how you say it?" the lady asked me. But what did she want to say exactly?

"You want to know how long the loquats will keep in your fridge?" I asked.

"Mine only last a day," she said.

"How long do you want them to last?"

She blinked. "I guess I hadn't thought this out."

"Mas que un dia," I said. "More than one day. Right?"

"Mas que un dia," she repeated. "Would they last three days? En el refrigerador?"

"Tres dias en el refrigerador," the vendor agreed.

The thing about useful translation. Merely translating a word is not useful. What is the thought you are trying to convey? The woman wanting loquats wanted to know how long they'd be good for. But it seemed to me she already knew they wouldn't last long. How long was it acceptable for them to last? That seemed to me the easiest way to ask with my own limited Spanish. God knows I stumble over expressing myself in any language (though I do OK in this one) but I am pretty good at thinking my way around one word when that word turns out to be a locked gate rather than an open door.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


“what poet wouldn't be embarrassed by the prospect of their scraps showing up in print” – from an essay about the new collection of Elizabeth Bishop’s resurrected writings.

But it’s okay in this case, says Meghan O'Rourke, because “Mastery … is the real mystery.”

Um. Whatever that means?

I wouldn’t be embarrassed by the prospect of my scraps showing up in print. What would motivate anyone to pursue that project anyway? I post scraps here; if you’re a regular reader you know that. And I work them over. I’ve abandoned a few; others I’ve kept harrying until they’ve outrun me.

I’m not one who thinks the greatest poet is the poet whose life’s work would fit in a thimble. The proof is in the reading, isn’t it? "Reading, after all, is a voluntary labor." per Logan

Monday, June 12, 2006


There are more resources for self-publishing these days. You can format a book on the home computer and print it out on the inkjet printer, staple it, and you have a little book or chapbook (chapbook is a shortening of "cheap book", but sounds cooler).

Kent did this for me several years ago. I sold the books for two dollars apiece. And sold fifty of 'em, I think. But a computer crash killed the formatting for the books and we never made an attempt at resurrection. I'd carried copies around in my knapsack and offered them up and poetry readings. After awhile I just wasn't getting any response when I waved them around and I got tired of doing it. (I'm not a tireless self-promoter; I'm an easily tired self-promoter.)

There are more printing companies accessible via the internet. Some specialize in small print runs (one copy!) and offer print on demand so no boxes of books have to sit around flirting with mice, mold, and the sudden urge to throw them out and be that much lighter. I've heard good things about (Here's an example.)

At the last two Alternative Press Expos I picked up fliers for cafe press and comiXpress. There are bloggers who use cafe press to sell tshirts (an example) -- you design the shirt and it's displayed on the web looking like a shirt. No actual shirt is created until someone orders one. Presumably cafe press has lots of white shirts just waiting to be printed on. But the flier also insists with cafe press "you'll fully leverage the power of self-publishing." Fully leverage? (This looks handsome, for instance, and not unreasonably priced.)

Over at comiXpress the comics look pretty good. (This looks like the work of a professional, for instance.) Prices aren't bad. I don't see shipping & handling charges, although I'm sure there are some. Online stores seem loath to allow you to see shipping charges. I think I won't be drawing my own comics any time soon, but it's nice to see the barriers to publication are coming down.

Friday, June 09, 2006

comments on "Bubble bejeweled" version 3

Hm. This is fun. With another poem I versioned on the blog I used the title for exposition. I like the technique.

"Bubble bejeweled" version 3

Having poured the water I lower my face to the glass

bubbles all
through it and
breaking it

my eyes closed
the water
feeling skin

Monday, June 05, 2006

squirrel battles

I stepped out on the back porch a few minutes ago. Sure, I'd been hearing the chittering of the squirrel(s) but I was surprised to discover a squirrel crowd ... no ... battle going on in our trees. I counted six squirrels. And after the pause to evaluate my threat level they got back to business. I saw one high in the pine being blocked on its branch by another advancing. Then three swarmed up the acacia next to it. The leaves thrashed and suddenly a body dropped, spinning head over tail, and THUMP hit the concrete (the pad at the foot of the second floor stairs). I couldn't tell quite from how high up but more than ten feet for sure. The squirrel lay where it fell, its tail sticking partly through the fence.

Sundy & Sutra had come out with me but neither seemed eager to get involved. Until Sutra at last noticed the one on the ground and went to investigate -- I shooed him away. Then I came in and got my camera. The squirrel blinked and slowly changed position, pulling its legs under its body. After I'd taken a few pictures Sundy came up to me (I was only five or six feet from the squirrel) at which point the squirrel pulled itself together and leaped onto the stairs, then to the stair railing and into the trees. A slightly smaller squirrel had been concerned about the grounded squirrel's fate, had come quite close while it was down but was wary of me. They seemed to make a pair. But it's hard to tell squirrels apart. I think the second picture is of the one who fell ... but I'm not 100% on it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

comments on "Bubble bejeweled" version 2

I like the word "bejeweled" ... e is every other letter. Y'gotta like that! It doesn't appear in version 2. Maybe we can finagle it back in.

Version 2 reads like notes for the poem, I think. Hit this, go there, do that, end here. If all poems were reduced to this sort of "notes" I'd probably like more of them.

"Bubble bejeweled" version 2

Small font, glass
from the cupboard,
water tipped into it,
fizzing, bubbles all
through it,
lids over my eyes
dampened by the
opening water.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I climbed out the window of my soul

Just got an email from the editors of Beeswax. They’ll be including one of my poems in their next issue. The poem, “I climbed out the window of my soul”. It’s one of two poems of that title that I sent them.

I liked the first issue of Beeswax. Seems as a contributor I’m now also a subscriber. Good. I look forward to watching the magazine thrive.

Friday, May 26, 2006


I've saved everything from this blog into a Word file.

Up till now there was no backup for LoveSettlement*.

I told myself I liked the idea that one day it might all just disappear.

But I find I like the idea that there's some small insurance that it won't.

The statistics:

392 pages

121,070 words


*except the poems (& their versionings) which I worked on before resorting to the Blogger postbox

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I put in an 8 hour day at Claremont today. That's a once-a-month thing. Working Saturday. It was busy. Yesterday was a holiday. Malcolm X Day. The day after a holiday there's twice the pile of returns under the drop slot. So we jammed through the pile this morning and almost finished by the time we had to open.

During one of my Info Desk hours I got the classic reference question: What's the definition of this word?

The word of the day: simulacrum

It means ... copy ... that didn't exactly fit the context in which the caller had come upon the word; in what she was reading it seemed to mean exemplar or approximation, as in, develop a simulacrum of the citizen in order to figure out how best to market to him ...

And I helped a teen who was writing a report on Area 51. Seems there were three books that covered the topic over at the West branch. But I showed her some of the Electronic Resources on the library website, too.

Gee, I felt like a librarian.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


'S a lovely day in Berkeley. I did the 8:30 yoga class at the Y this morning. Then I walked home slowly, didn't feel like browsing in shops this time, ended up having a tuna sandwich at the Bakeshop at 11, an earlier lunch'n usual.

Now what? I've caught up on the political blogs (look, indict Rove already, 'K? &, Democrats, put on your ass kickin' boots and do some ass kickin'!)

I spoze I could do some chores. I could do some writing. This doesn't count as writing, does it?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

comments on "Unicorn" version 1; "Bubble bejeweled" version 1

Two more poems from the 1984 notebook. August.

The autobiographical material of the first poem would be: my brother & I spent a vacation in Alaska summer 1980. We were visiting my father & his family. Dad's youngest child was a girl and I remember telling her stories as we traveled in a camper. I figured girls liked stories about horses so I remember inventing a story about horses. She was transfixed. I was her favorite brother (she grew up with two, my stepbrothers) as I paid attention to her and didn't tease her. But the poem is just meant to be a laugh. Any details with relation to my own life were merely convenient. I started with a title, something I rarely do. And I amused myself.

I don't know whether the Unicorn poem or the fizzing mineral water poem really want revision. I like them. I wouldn't offer them up for publication, not because they embarass me but because they seem ... slight? unfinished? unready? ... but what would I want from them that they don't do already?

"Unicorn", version 1; "Bubble bejeweled", version 1

The Summer the Unicorn Died

That was the day the Unicorn died.
In the summer of my seventh year,
Reality struck hard,
Tearing away my foolish youthful fantasies.

That was the year Daddy hit
The Unicorn with our Winnebago.
My sister and I cried a lot
And Daddy didn’t have Comprehensive.


Bubble bejeweled glass
cups clear Calistoga
water like a priest’s palm
minute flicking drops,
baptize my eyes shut.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Cody's closing

Ron Silliman has a nice portrait of Berkeley on his blog. His post was prompted by the news that longtime Berkeley institution Cody's Books is closing its original store.

Cody's has the best selection of literary magazines in town. Being one who can contentedly drift for hours in a sea of books I mourn the loss of a good bookstore. Too bad, too bad.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

ASL poetry

I've thought before that the web would be a great way to disseminate American Sign Language in the form of little movies. In the context of a controversy over the new president of the nation's only liberal arts university for the Deaf, Gallaudet, I followed some links (good diary at DailyKos) through to a collection of ASL poetry performances. Nice to see. It's been awhile since I've been around Deaf people and sign language. I'm no better reading ASL than I've ever been at picking out the meaning of what people say when they speak Spanish or Portuguese (the two other nonEnglish languages I've studied) but the forms language takes fascinates me in a different (but complementary?) way from the denotative meaning of what's being said. I like to hear the sounds, see the shapes chosen to represent them in written form, or (as with ASL) watch the construction in air of meaning. And, yes, I do catch a few words.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


At APE I picked up an advertising postcard for Theo Ellworth's Capacity. Now I've visited his website. And I like it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

teabag bed

At the ACCI gallery on Shattuck there was a window installation that I wanted to get a picture of. It consisted of stacks of books hanging by wires. There were five, I think, each stack about 3 feet tall. The wire passed through the center of the books and concluded in a rusted railroad spike. Beneath the dangling spike was an open book on a pedestal. All the hanging books were mass market paperbacks. The open books were large size hardcovers, art books, I believe, though none was open to a color illustration.

When I got there, however, I found that the installation had been taken down. The ACCI gallery website does not include a photo of the piece. However, there is another sculpture by Clayton Bain that did not appear at the gallery though it is similar in that it also consists of a stack of books. I find his artist statement annoying. "I use mostly found objects, so they inherently have their own meaning. It is your experience that is reflected in the meaning, not mine. I focus more on form and spatial qualities instead. The physical space is so important to any sculpture. Any connection to the content is prejudiced by your own viewpoint. You create the artwork from that point onward. You are the artist, not me."

The statement strikes me as passive aggressive. If you don't like it, it's because you're "prejudiced." Plus I've never been a fan of the observer-collaborates-in-the-meaning-of-the-art pose. Culture is a collaborative construction. Is this insight not banal?

The pierced books bothered me because they were ruined. There were perfectly good well-written books in solid readable condition in those strings. And perhaps it's aggression I see here, too. Someone else's art was destroyed in order to make this person's art. The books were the sort of thing you see in yard sales and over & over on the used book clearance shelves. These weren't limited editions. These weren't unique items. These items were mass produced and many a book is destroyed by its own publisher when it becomes uneconomic. Maybe these were "saved" from the recycle bin, in any case. The piece intrigued me. I can't say as I liked it or that I carried away from it a meaning. The books in the strings interested me more than the presentation they made, rather like scanning the bookshelves in the house of a new acquaintance.

The show of which Bain's work was a part featured artists who link themselves as The Edge Group. Since the installation I'd come to photograph was no longer in the gallery window I stepped inside. Some of the Edge works were still on display, including a small bed covered with teabags. It's fun and clever and I liked looking at it. (Being an artist who can store all his work on a compact disc I always worry a bit about where bulky art lives.) Of her teabag textiles Ruth Trabancay writes, "The hand-stitched surfaces recall visions of vast epithelial sheets and cell cultures. [Trabancay used to be a biologist.] The teabags themselves represent the intimacy and ritual of sipping a cup of tea with family and friends and the finished sculpture, a gesture of warmth."

I don't like it when an artist claims that one thing "represents" another. (Can you say "objective correlative"?) But I do approve of Trabancay's description of her own associations: intimacy, ritual, family & friends, warmth.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


This elephant overlooks the sidewalk as you pass Dara, a Thai/Lao restaurant on the corner. It came back, I suspect, from one of the family's jaunts back to Southeast Asia. I walked about the neighborhood this afternoon snapping pics. When the elephant originally appeared it had a twin and both elephants had tusks. The tusks were the first to disappear. Then one of the elephant's trunks broke. Then the one with a nonbroken trunk disappeared. In this photo you can't see the break but, poor thing, the tip of its trunk is missing.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Poetry & Pizza tonight

I finally got some work done on the Poetry & Pizza website. For a long time I was shut out -- my login was not logging me in. Finally I wrote to the hosting company and somebody there reactivated the username & password.

I had agreed to make a postcard to advertise this week's & next month's readings. But I didn't get it made. Yeah, feel bad about that. Did manage to get online and improve the website and post announcements on events calendars like craig's list and laughing squid.

Even though I've heard her read her work many times since moving to Berkeley I still look forward to Julia Vinograd. She's smart and gently mocking, not so much the Berkeley radical as the radical's sympathetic but skeptical sister. She's always tented in a black dress, has the same tassled cap on her head, and wears eyeball rings on her fingers. She presents weird. (She long wore a pin on her cap that declared, "Weird and proud.")

"We're a tribe, we move in mystic circles,
like the drunk said when the cop
told him to walk a straight line."

-- from "Anniversary Party at People's Park"
(the link takes you to a tribute in the local homeless advocacy paper; there are some poems at the bottom of the page)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

comments on "inevitable spraying", version 3

In version 2 the first two lines do not flow, no, they're a bit ugly and jerky and they annoy. I thought the poem might be better for losing them. But I liked them for their presumptuous infacility. Maybe the poem would be more interesting with more of their like. So I created duplicates (with variations) and distributed them through the poem from top to bottom. I wanted stumbles to interrupt the flow. What the heck, eh? It's an old poem that otherwise would've remained in an old journal unread. It's not like messing with it would ruin a thing.

Version 3 amuses me from top to bottom. This is something.

Time for a title.

"inevitable spraying", version 3

disarming qualities of imprecise

figurement whence medication unmended

concerns all whom’re comers, quarters

hind and head, and the spinning

of the silver coquettes on a long trust

breached occasionally by a dazzle

of fluke or the tipping of smoked glass

rearming equalities to concise

configurement hence dedicated upended

on a titter of nose, the disguise as

see-thru as the lacquered taboo, thin as

the hopes inevitable in a dish, success genially

underlying Project W’s tender rigging,

some jury, some jerry, jugs swung on bristly ropes,

harming discontinuities pupa’d

in a fat blue fig or quince in a sense

and the pricks of firm black rubber

stood up to tongues, all wet attention,

brutal vigor, the hair trail from her navel

to the indistinct fusion of celebration,

breath, and fish, a left-leaning bother

alarming vanity’s cicatrice

prefigured on a dented sentiment

all told, a nakedness projected on a

conjoined word, the men and their

holes presenting frilled migration, arms

folded along factory creases, a pet

or parapet known for the dissimulate wag

strong-arming qua extra nice

consent, calculated viz. per and cent

Sunday, April 30, 2006

comments on "inevitable spraying", version 2

It is, of course, hard to say whether this is the same poem as version 1. I say, "of course," not just because every line has been changed but because the original was an improvisation, the starting point the first line, "two words said in conjunction", the second line an act of bravado, "like an inevitable spraying of vigor", the third line ready to concede failure, "lost all hope of underlying success", the fourth line finally stepping away from the set-up and working on the "project". Need I tell you that the sexual shenanigans that follow are purely imaginary?

In making a new version I started with the lines that seemed to me most interesting in an assonance/alliteration/word mash/non-meaning sort of way, "disarming qualities of imprecise / calculation where quantum medication" ... I eliminated "quantum" after I decided it was too faddish a word, like "surreal" used by people when they want to use a fancier word than "weird". But I continue to like "disarming qualities of imprecise calculation"; as the poem's new set up, it declares the forthcoming to be ingratiatingly vague. Then "calculation" turned into "figurement", which isn't in my dictionary (though "disfigurement" is), a word which suggests the figures of numbers & persons (& guesses?) ... whether the very next word redirects one from a possible reading to impossible reading or whether one could continue trying let's just say I recommend not straining but enjoying the way "all whom're comers" rolls about in the mouth and the following rapid fragments of image.

Many words recur from version 1. But version 1 has become less the foundation for the poem (as it asserts itself in version 2) but a box of objects that can be propped in new poses.

I'm made a bit uncomfortable by "fish" in "the indistinct fusion of celebration, / breath, and fish" as I've heard "fish" used derogatorily among gay men to refer to the smell of the vagina. Is the word objectionable in this context?

"inevitable spraying", version 2

disarming qualities of imprecise
figurement whence medication unmended
concerns all whom’re comers, quarters
hind and head, and the spinning
of the silver coquettes on a long trust
breached occasionally by a dazzle
of fluke or the tipping of smoked glass
on a titter of nose, the disguise as
see-thru as a dogma-lacquered taboo, thin as
the hopes inevitable in a dish, success genially
underlying Project W’s tender rigging,
some jury, some jerry, jugs swung on bristly ropes,
and the pricks of firm black rubber
stood up to tongues, all wet attention,
brutal vigor, the hair trail from her navel
to the indistinct fusion of celebration,
breath, and fish, a left-leaning bother
all told, a nakedness projected on a
conjoined word, the men and their
called bets under a flowered alarm

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Phone rang this morning a little after nine. Kent got it.

Where's Glenn?

Huh? But I thought on Saturday I didn't show up until 2 o'clock. That I worked from 2 to 6.

Nine o'clock.

Oh. So I had it backwards. It's 9 to 1.


I hopped in the shower, gobbled a bowl of cereal, then Kent zipped me to the library in the Jeep. I was an hour late so stayed till 2.

Turned out okay, right?

Yeah. Turned out okay.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

migraine day

Laurel endured a 3-day migraine this week. When I said I, too, get migraines. She asked what triggers them.

This is what I posted in her comments:

"It's rare for mine to go for more than one day ... Used to be I could say I'd never had one last more than one day ... alas, 's no longer the case.

My migraines may be very powerful tension headaches tho they come with furious nausea and sensitivity to light & sound & smell & touch ... & probably taste, but with the nausea eating's not happening anyway ... When I had a checkup last year my new doctor looked at my back, dropped a word I didn't quite catch, and said that would be why I have so many headaches. What does that word mean? I asked ... Said he, Curved back.

For more'n ten years now I've been working through yoga & weights to stretch my spine and loosen my tight tight muscles/tendons/everything. Big progress. But it brings on migraines. If I've gotten in a fierce batch of stretches I can almost feel the reactive tightening -- and in the morning I can have a migraine that incapacitates me for the day. Lots of great progress, really. Range I never thought I'd have. ... And I've paid for it all along the way. Strange to think pain so brutal all I want to do is drive nails into my head is price worth paying. But I figure I'm going to have the migraines anyway; might as well suffer toward improvement than merely suffer in decline."

Last night I did some stretches. I wouldn't have have called them "a fierce batch," really. It was sitting. To stretch my hips so when I can sit cross-legged on the floor for an extended period. Sitting cross-legged on the floor can get very tiring, even painful. So I do some stretches I picked up in yoga class and these stretches have improved my sitting. I also did down-dog, which is named after the stretch a dog does when it sticks its butt in the air and lengthens its spine down to the outstretched forepaws. Anything else? Oh yeah. A very brief boat pose. That one is probably the one that puts the most stress on my upper back. You sit on the floor, legs straight out in front and lean back, then you lift your legs so you're balancing in a V-shape on your butt.

Nothing seemed painful last night. I had to do a lot of head and shoulder shaking to integrate the moves. I lay down. I felt okay.

This morning I woke with a migraine. I took medicine for it, hoping I could head it off before it became incapacitating. Didn't quite work. Finally I had to call work and say I wouldn't be able to make it in. It's mid-afternoon now and my head is feeling kind of light and wobbly, my neck stiff, and my body generally fragile. But I'm hungy! A nice change from the nausea that had me hunched over the toilet at 8 a.m.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Until Sundy I never would have believed I could ask a cat to kiss me. We'd been playing with one of Kent's weaving reeds. I was lying on my belly on the floor, propping myself up on my elbows and Sundy was poking at the reed where it lay between us. I said, "Give me a kiss." I made kissy sounds with my lips. Kent was watching and started giving Sundy lines, "I'm a cat. You're embarrassing me."

Sundy arched his back, rubbing against the couch. He dipped his head. "Kiss kiss," I said, my lips softly popping. Finally Sundy lowered his face to my mouth and sniffed. I felt the soft hairs around his mouth on my lips and his breath. That counts as a kiss. He's done it uninvited. But it feels extra special when I ask and he obliges.

Monday, April 24, 2006

comments on "inevitable spraying", version 1

At a party in SF Sunday I was making a new acquaintance. Rachel, her name was. Her husband was sitting to my left and he & I each had a plate of food in his lap. When David offered to fetch her her own plate Rachel insisted she wasn't hungry. The three of us had shared a few of those what-do-you-do generalities ... David is an architect, Rachel works in PR. I work at the library. Rachel & David were related to the party's hosts by marriage, I think, one of them the sibling of the host's sister's husband, something like that. Rachel had decided to mingle a bit and was rising from her chair when I had an inkling her face, which had seemed familiar in a she looks like someone I know but isn't sort of way, actually was a face I knew, somehow. Abruptly I said, "Rachel, what's your last name?" "Dacus," she said. That would be Rachel Dacus the poet. So I dropped my full name and she recognized it from our online poetry interactions. And she sat back down and we talked shop. Poetry, that is.

Among other things we talked about revision and workshopping and I said I will now & then post a poem on LoveSettlement from one of my old notebooks. Then I will comment on it and post revisions, which I will comment on, noting what changes I like, what still isn't working, hopes for improvements, dismay over lack of progress. I haven't done that in awhile. Last night I started reading through Tales of the Blue & Yellow Sun / Work Journal, Part Two, a notebook from 1982 & 1984 which I've mined for other poems I've revised here. Apropos to what Rachel said yesterday about poems that would detract from one's carefully-cultivated reputation, poems which should be burned in order to prevent their being posthumously discovered, I paged past "I walk a night of solitary lights. / Follow the candles as they bob, / the lines singing Ave Maria." (from the "Ave Maria" sequence in Disney's Fantasia?) and "Ghosts close-up / reveal their intentions / unlike politicians on talk shows / who hide behind polyester ties when cornered" ... These weren't offering the potential I was looking for. As I said to Rachel, however, when I was a baby poet I had to give myself permission to try things, just to write, to commit failure to the permanence of the bound notebook.

When I decide on a poem to post here I want a poem that has interesting things going on in it. I also want to have no idea or no clear idea how those interesting things could join up to make an interesting whole. I want the process to be a challenge. I don't want to pick a poem that with a tweak or two would be finished. I want something to look back at me with some defiance, to resist when I try to push it one way or another.

"Inevitable spraying" -- the title is merely a phrase from the poem -- was written in July or August 1984.

"inevitable spraying"

Two words said in conjunction
like an inevitable spraying of vigor
lost all hope of underlying success
while the men of project W
performed fellatio on the other wives’
three dildoes encountered for
men of distinction alarming
disarming qualities of imprecise
calculation where quantum medication
is concerned in all quarters
and related conquettries.
The breach of trust in infilitrated
relationships she viewed from afar
like thinly disguised sunglasses
seldom removes taboos unknown
to Mr. Squid’s third left lung
Unbother Mrs. Torrid’s left pet
called King Fisher who telltales
four-wished call beckoners
Unassumed by revealing naked