Sunday, December 14, 2008

We did this today

It's birthday month for Kent and he's gotten excited about the idea of the climbing wall thing; a couple weeks ago he even showed me the website for the Berkeley Ironworks which is pretty new, I think. So we went today, a birthday present. We learned how to belay (that's what the guy on the ground does so if the climber falls he doesn't fall) and to climb (use your legs to push yourself up, not your hands to pull yourself up).

What next? Kent asks.

Indoor skydiving? I said.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

fear and pain and anger

After the blow of the passage of Prop 8 on November 4th, writing on my blogs seemed frivolous. The Mormon Church had marched its jackboots into my garden and attacked my family, a deeply, purely personal attack intended to cause fear and pain. It did. It also brought a fierce flare of white anger. That also might have been intended, I don’t know. Likely they would prefer servile acquiescence, groveling and guilt-sticky. Anger can be dangerous.

I was going to write about poetry then? Books? I was going to write about my shopping or a migraine? I caught a flu shortly after the bad news came down and, yes, a migraine. The flu hung on, a longer loiter than any recent flu, even now a tension in my throat urges me to cough.

Timid mouse used to nibbling on wood pulp I’m not equipped with the confident claws of the cat. My imagination can be a tiger but I am no tiger. I have to think up mouse strategies.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

comments on "Mom"

A portrait of Mom. Supposed to be simple and light. It amused her, I think.



she doesn’t jog
does walk briskly
swinging her arms
crunches over the gravel
by the RR tracks
talks about health
(raw fruits and vegetables)
beach, redwoods, state parks
sure she takes the easy walks
she has a slow stroll uphill
but she’s got a ruddy face from the sun
she hops, she bounces, jounces
on her home trampoline
she plays a banjo
doesn’t write poetry
but she sings


another poem from February 1985

Friday, November 28, 2008

another poem from February 1985

Car After Discovering That the Lights Have Been Left On





another poem from February 1985
I’m not expecting any further versions of this one.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

comments on two poems combined, version 2

I rearranged the lines. It struck me that most of the poem breaks into couplets – “I dry my hand again. Look, pie! / The crust will hold guests,” for example. I tried couplets as stanzas but after a couple readings decided the space was asking each couplet to stand on its own in a way they just wouldn’t do.

That coupleting is a sort of halfway place between the single-line statements of the first of the two source poems and the sentences that wind down through multiple lines in the second source poem. I prefer sinuousness in sentences; yet the stiffness of version 2 here appeals to me for its insistent strangeness. That line – “Ugh, that uncut handkerchief – yuck!” – has a particularly unnatural quality.

two poems combined, version 2

The handle comes unglued
while being dusted damply.
Starting to hear the window,
I draw spirals out of the glass’s ring.
In the lather over the dish dinge
the shape of my remaining hand.
Nothing in the cupboard looks like water
or like food, nothing on the counter adds up.
I dry my hand again. Look, pie!
The crust will hold guests.
In the easy chair in the living room
I press the guest book. Of five pens,
four are long gone.
The ceiling has done shadows,
the ice also a suggestion.
Weakness in fingers like flowers.
Haven’t eaten the evening black.
Went shopping hungry,
scrubbed kettles.
Sprouts and bread, peas and milk.
Ugh, that uncut handkerchief – yuck!
Small glass of water sipped slowly
to make it last until blue.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

comments on two poems combined

OK. Here it is. You didn’t think those two poems could be combined?

Dave King in a comment said he preferred the second of those two, the one that starts, “I have no fingers like flowers.” I have to say that line is my favorite line. Yet in this version I’ve turned it around; rather than having “no fingers like flowers”, the fingers are “like flowers.” Kent told me he preferred the first of the two, the one that starts, “Weakness in limbs.”

two poems combined

Weakness in fingers like flowers.
Haven’t eaten the evening black.
Went shopping hungry,
scrubbed kettles.
Sprouts and bread, peas and milk.
Ugh, that uncut handkerchief – yuck!
Small glass of water sipped slowly
to make it last until blue.
The handle comes unglued
while being dusted damply.
Starting to hear the window,
I draw spirals out of the glass’s ring.
In the lather over the dish dinge
the shape of my remaining hand.
Nothing in the cupboard looks like water
or like food, nothing on the counter adds up.
I dry my hand again. Look, pie!
The crust will hold guests.
In the easy chair in the living room
I press the guest book. Of five pens,
four are long gone.
The ceiling has done shadows,
the ice just a suggestion.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

comments on two poems

More poems from the 1985 notebook – I could spend the rest of my life there! The two poems have a similar look, don’t they? And a similar feel, though “Uneaten” attempts to be straight reportage while “I have no fingers like flowers” tries some imaginative flourishes.

I post them both here because I decided to combine them for the new version.

two poems


Weakness in limbs
Haven’t eaten yet at 4:40
went shopping hungry
sprouts and bread and peas and milk
drink a small glass of water
sipping slowly to make it more
starting to hear things
harsh breathing at the window
I draw wet spirals on the table in the glass’ ring
nothing in the cupboard looks like food
nothing in the icebox looks like food
pour another glass of water
leave it undrunk on the kitchen counter
sit in the easy chair in the living room
can’t read
nothing on TV
can’t close my eyes
can’t open my mouth
can do nothing but look at the ceiling
the ceiling empty of shadows


I have no fingers like flowers
and can’t imagine the evening as black as
unscrubbed kettles. I fry an egg.
I despise uncut handkerchiefs,
shaped clay unbaked
make a ceramic pot, glaze it blue
in years hardly used the handle comes unglued
while being dusted with a damp rag.
I dip my hand in dishwater,
the handprint still visible in the lather
not even the pie dough
has to be remarked upon
or the filling
I station myself at the door
with the guest book and five pens
which disappear in succession
I close the book gently
still reading the names.

-- 3/5/85

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

life in Berkeley

I'm sitting on the couch, a blanket over my legs, cat nestled between my shins. Listening to CDs. Moe Tucker's solo work is reminiscent of the Velvet Underground -- Tucker was their drummer so no surprise there. She even has a vocal delivery about like Lou Reed.

I've been fighting a flu. Had a fever dream night last night, which might or might not have been better than the night before -- at least I slept! Dreams too frequently were wrapped up with evil of Prop 8. Fighting, fighting.

We have Chinese food leftover from dinner last night. Will watch America's Next Top Model at eight.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Yes, this is a parody of YES ON PROP 8 commercials. I'm not going to link to their evil. But I think you can figure out their arguments from the parody version.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Poetry & Pizza video

I asked Kent to bring his digital camera to Poetry & Pizza last Friday, the camera that took the great whale movies, and use it to capture me reading a short poem or two. I'd intended to bring a tape recorder but forgot. I wish we had a nice digital audio recorder ...

So Kent set up and got some video of me telling people to settle down we're just about to start, then several exciting seconds of my back as I fiddled with the amp trying to rid it of that weird waah it often adds to the vocal. I'm the only one of our technologically challenged crew who has the courage to twist a few dials -- courage but little understanding.

Of the three short clips Kent captured before the camera decided it was full (no reason for it to be) the one of my announcing the readers (Glenn Ingersoll, Mel C. Thompson, and H.D. Moe) is the only one I'm going to post. No, there's no substance to it, but it's short.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Glenn Ingersoll at Poetry & Pizza

7:30pm Friday, October 3, 2008


POETRY & PIZZA meets the first Friday of each month
at Escape from New York Pizza, 333 Bush at Montgomery
(Montgomery BART or Sutter/Stockton Parking Garage)
in downtown San Francisco and offers free pizza to all comers.

Donations of $5 benefit an organization of the poets’ choice.
This reading benefits SAN FRANCISCO FREE CLINIC.

GLENN INGERSOLL’s poems have been seen in Exquisite Corpse, Prairie Schooner, and Snow Monkey, and online at 3rd Muse, Siren, and Tryst, work is forthcoming in Shampoo. He maintains two blogs, LoveSettlement and Dare I Read. Ingersoll lives in Berkeley and works for the Berkeley Public Library. He is one of the coordinators of Poetry & Pizza.

H. D. MOE is an experimental Poet/Philosopher, who has over 30 books published, including "Plug In The Electric Dictionary" - Community Press; "Muse News" - City Lights; "Bean Trip" - Canterbury Press; "Only A Cage Should Be In A Cage"- We Press; "Jazz Pajamas" - Mother's Hen Press; "Blackwidow Vitamins" - Coo-Coo Clock TV Press; "Wing├ęd Wows" is his latest book. Some of Moe’s Poems have been translated (an almost impossible adventure) into French, Portuguese & Russian.
For 13 years H.D. Moe published “Love Lights, The Erotic Poetry/Art Newspaper of San Francisco”. Currently, H.D. Moe edits "The Berkeley Review Of Books", and gives talks on women Philosophers at Humanist Hall in Oakland. He also coordinates the "Living Philosophers Forum" at The North Berkeley Senior Center in Berkeley. Be sure to check out his website:

MEL C. THOMPSON was born in 1959 in Los Angeles County. He was raised in the suburbs of North Orange County, California. Thompson began as a songwriter but switched to poetry, then he moved to the Bay Area and founded Cyborg Productions, a well-known underground press of the early 1990s. His own work has been published in mainstream and small press magazines such as the SF Bay Guardian, The Chiron Review, The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal and Lynx Eye.
Thompson’s civil rights work for free speech and his legal work for California workers has been noticed by USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, NPR Radio, Canadian Public Broadcasting and KRON Television. For a time he was a radio personality and musical performer on KMEL.

SAN FRANCISCO FREE CLINIC, 4900 California Street, provides comprehensive medical services at no charge. It is a training site for medical students and residents from programs throughout the country. The SF Free Clinic exists because over 150 physicians pool time, medications, supplies, equipment, and funds. Services include cancer and heart disease screening, diabetes care, childhood and adult vaccinations, and family planning and contraceptive counseling.

Pizza is Free, Poetry is Priceless

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sarah Palin

That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, we’re ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

Friday, September 05, 2008


My last post featured a video of an elephant painting. It is watermarked with the website of Exotic World Gifts.

In various places on their site Mark Fangue & Liz Allen talk about how the video came about. Here are a few excerpts:

“While looking for beautiful products handmade by artisans in villages needing sustainable income, we came across this refuge camp for elephants in Northern Thailand. With camcorder in hand we began to witness an elephant painting an ‘Oh my God’ image of an elephant.

"The owner/operator is a very tender hearted woman who loves the animals and feels pain when her elephant camp is unjustifiably grouped with other camps and/or individuals where animal abuse is tolerated (it does exist and our goal is to educate and help stop cruel practices). We have done research and investigation into the camp’s training techniques and we have not observed any abuse. The elephants seem happy and well cared for.”

The painter featured in the video was given the name “Hong.”

“’Hong’ and her mahout (trainer) … collaborate[d] to produce a wonderful image of an elephant holding a flower. It was amazing to see her retrace lines and add her playful personality to her work of art. She draws one or two flowers depending on her mood and when finished painting her flower, she presented [sic] a flower to a person of her choice.

“Hong is an 8 year old female who has a very curious nature and loves to investigate everything and once managed to use her trunk to open the door of a truck. This kind of curiosity made Hong a natural candidate for artistic instruction. She has so much control and dexterity with her trunk which allows her to create more advanced realistic paintings ... and only started painting 2 years ago. [ellipsis in original] I had the pleasure of rewarding Hong with many bananas and sugar cane after she finished her painting that appeared in our video.”

This barely begins to answer my questions. More posts to come.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

the elephant artist

This video of an elephant painting a representative figure - a self-portrait? – is beyond amazing. It is a beautifully choreographed performance, never boring, often suspenseful, playing itself out over the course of the 8 1/2 minute video (there are some edits, it looks like) in a way that holds the attention all the way to the end, the end providing both surprise and satisfaction. I have watched it a few times, captivated each time.

I would like to know much more about the context of this elephant painting.

Who is this elephant?

Her name is Hong. She is 8 years old.

(More in my next post.)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

comments on another way of looking at "Green Spree"

Kent went to a lot of work to put together this version of "Green Spree". It's supposed to show the greens all stacked up, like a trunk or spine, as I said Friday. The rest of each line is supposed to jut out from the central green to the left or right.

I think formatting the poem this way prevents it from fitting into the space available in the blogger template I'm using. Thus the lines get broken up even more than intended. But you can get a somewhat better idea visually of the green stack than in the earlier posts of "Green Spree".

another way of looking at "Green Spree"

                               The green story is the only story.

   Or maybe it's the second story, green

                                or greener, step by step to a

                                   greener top. It's waiting. It won't

                     go a bit more green, already

Friday, August 29, 2008

comments on “Green Spree” version 4

I like it. Surprising myself. I’ve been having so much difficulty with poetry lately. I write something and I hate it. I hate writing it. The writing isn’t fun. The writing used to be fun.

The first line came to me and excited me so I wrote it down. I still like it. “The green story is the only story.” And the writing after that was fun. It felt like it knew where to go, and the good parts from earlier versions seemed happy to abandon their old contexts and come aboard.

I presented it to my little writing group and they liked it, too. Ah, I remember that! The praise of the peers. It was always so warming (then the praised poem got rejected again & again by the magazine editors).

I have a version of “Green Spree” formatted so “green” appears like a trunk or spine down the middle of the page, the rest of each line poking out to the left or right. I don’t know how to set that up on blogger …

Speaking of sending out to magazines: I got response from two ezines this week. One a yes: Shampoo. The poem will appear soon, editor Del Ray Cross says, in a “sneaky previoo” of the next issue. The other was a no. After getting the Shampoo response I wondered about the other to which I’d sent poems at the same time. In response to my status query the other’s editor wrote back: We said no on 6/22/08. Maybe it got caught in your spam filter? If so, I suppose my spam filter meant well, wanting to save my feelings.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

“Green Spree,” version 4

The green story is the only story.
Or maybe it’s the second story, green
or greener, step by step to a
green top. It’s waiting. It won’t
go a bit more green, already
green, you know,
green to the tips, the very
green top, fantastic banners
of unpleasant green snapping
out breezes that goad green
clouds toward green mountains,
their greens the skills they’ve
practiced for green years.
Even today when your thumb, still green
after years of thumb-sucking, green
stubborness clinging, green as
a pendant of grief, greasy green listening
while the rash breakage of evens goes greenly
on, odds on, favorite son, green
on a green hill, where the
steps dragged their planes, green faces
cut into green slopes, a wet flat
old blue through which green shows,
younger than you but green too,
greening to get that way. On a shy
tongue a green drop, on a long delay
a steady green fuzz. What cups
sat in the sun bearing green
waters to the future? Green ones.
Green, the price of entry,
shuttered citadel on green hill,
spires tangled with sagging green
that the wind ties up with green
string stolen from the red talus green
gave way to, one slender green
blade laid next to a frail fork, green
face turned down, hypothetically, her green
heir to the green-wet synthesis that
puts green to hunger and
green to sleep, the coming
green not so green as you expect, a horizon
lined up for the sun’s trick drop, the green
sparkle snapped up by green-vacant violet, if you’re lucky
and who isn’t lucky, the green under fingers
absently plucking, the shine of nap greening
toward black, sheen after sheen sanded by green
ridges. What green knows
green learns late – too late? – some say so,
but isn’t it green to say so? doesn’t it reveal,
green under white stone, that black
has green in its road, the road, moreover,
cutting through green already pass-tangled,
green-fangled, speckled with eye,
green-dyed claw, a green the jaw grinds.
Green built in law of jungle courthouses
a green justice,
green script illuminating brown
muds and black muds, green
fighting back green-yellow and
yellow-green and blue-
green and
far greener. Poor kid,
green as he’ll ever get, already breaking
out in other colors. A sugar green needle,
the hour not green either, the stutter
green suffers, hue gone to cry, gone
to whimper, the rarer green raised
to a new position over vulgar green,
green all the same? all the same!
Green meat, meet
green fly. The happy gallows’ good
green creak, the long shadow
you miss as much as mother, her green
felt hat and the green feeling
you returned to to stain green
blond feet, to green the knee
and green the sea that never
looked green, did it, except when
it broke and spilled your bruised green
dream, hissing over seagrapes, green
until they dry on a green-papered shelf
in a green room painted with pictures.
You stored a green kiss for years.
How many green years?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

comments on “Green Spree”, version 3

When last I read version 2 I hated it, its beginning. After it got going, maybe a third the way down – somewhere around the clouds? – I started to like things. I started version 3 thinking I would just cut off the beginning of version 2, cut to what I liked. I didn’t do that. That may have been the right idea. I don’t know.

“Green Spree”, version 3

Up old green steps,
up steps, green and older
than green and
greener than maybe you’d like
green to be, ever, even today
when your thumb, still green
after years of thumb-sucking, green
stubborness sticking to its green
guns, the drop that clings to a green
leaf or falls or doesn’t fall or, green as
a pendant of grass, listens
to the rash breakage of evens, greens
into burdens, odds on green, favorite
of the other, the mother in a green blouse
on a green hill, where the
green steps dragged their planes,
cutting slopes into green faces, flat
and wet, especially when green puddles
set up in green middles, the old blue
older than you but green
younger and younger and greening
toward birth or away from, green come
not to stay but to stray, green in travel,
all the green gravel passed
through a green mouth,
a green trembling on a tongue
no longer looking green except
to a justice in uniform, green issue
fitting native green

Friday, August 08, 2008

comments on “Green Spree”, version 2

In thinking about this form – green having to appear in every line, providing the poem its spine – I’ve been torn. Do I make it make sense? Is this a narrative, a proposition I’m arguing? Over time and a lot of poem-reading I’ve grown less interested in the proposition poem. It tends to take a wisdom pose, as though modeling for a statue, stiff and important and cold. It wants that Ah! from the reader – O, how wise, what authority it bespeaks. I’ve never felt particularly wise and the wiser I’ve become the sillier the wisdom pose of other poets has come to seem. Phonies! As far as narrative goes, I’ve become more interested in the dream version. Everything seems to be connected, but when you try to explain those connections, they turn out to be strange, they turn out to rush down convoluted paths, sometimes they turn out to run right past or around each other and don’t connect at all.

“Green Spree”, version 2

Up the old green steps to
the green pension, an older thumb
still green as the tongue
pressing a green drop that fell
from some mother, some green gumdrop’s
other wuther, the green of a nice ice,
the green of a bride’s pretty price,
her yet-unentered citadel on a green hill,
spires green with pennants flapping
or greenly sagging or slapping
the red-tinged green of their gay
tatters on new clouds and old clouds greened
by brushes with green peaks,
that which green seeks being only
one drawer away, one slender green
blade laid next to the fork, the green
lace and the green face turned
down toward an earth, hypotethically, her green
heir to the green-wet synthesis of drop
and hunger, the coming green on a horizon
lined up next to a green flash the sun,
escaping the day, tricks into that green leap,
that green sparkle you get if you’re lucky
and who isn’t lucky, green felt by fingers
absently plucking, the nap greening toward
black, shine after shine lost as green catches
ridges and green knows
what green learns is learned
late, too late? -- some say so – but isn’t it green
to say so? doesn’t it reveal, green under
white stone, that black has green in its road,
the road, moreover, cutting through green
already pass-tangled, green-fangled,
speckled with eye, green-dyed claw,
a green leaf and a jaw grinding
a nip of it, what green built in law
of jungle courthouses and wrote in green
script across ill-lit muds, green competing
with green-yellow and yellow-
green and blue-
green and
than what you see splashed, green
by green,
over and under the wander some sucker, green
as ever a kid’ll be, got sent on, the green
beans already in his pocket cuddled by a green
foul of threads and furze, evergreen
as ever was green and ever will be
(she said, plucking her lute under a green
bower), the hour not green, brown
rather or browning, green shifting,
hue a cry gone to whimper,

Thursday, August 07, 2008

comments on “Green Spree”

I’ve had this one in my mind since I wrote it (& it failed to satisfy me). The version you see here is already an edit of the long list poem that appeared in my 1985 notebook. I want to use and reuse one word. Why green? Not sure. It’s a nice enough word. Has more than one meaning to start with. In a way – because I’ve been thinking about how to do it perfectly for so long? – I’m feeling more than the usual trepidation about working on it. Suppose it turns out crap? Well. Suppose it does?


green freeze sneaks into me
green release

green eyes
green cries
green surprise
green flies in the face
green lashes and tongues
green lips
green lids

green meat
green fruit
green buds
green break
green made too bright

green flecks
green fingers
green trembling in bushes

green track
green attack of
green tension
green suspension
green gallows
green grass

green to kiss
green to list
green to miss as much as mother
green to love another
green to fuss
green ability
green tranquility
green seizure
green pension
green retention of old
green steps

Saturday, July 19, 2008

poem from 1985 notebook

Quit staring at the apple
as though it would jump, screaming
from the fruitbowl, bound
across the table and attack your unprotected throat.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

894 out of 899

John McCain was ranked 894th out of 899 in his class at the Naval Academy.

Hahaha! Isn't that hilarious! Presidential material, all right!

tip of the hat to Americablog.

Friday, July 11, 2008

comments on "cake the walk" version 6

When last we left our intrepid poem it had no title. Now it does. Like it?

Other than that, if you don’t want to bother reading the darn thing through one more time, is the placement of the chings. They’ve moved down a few lines so that the hand is more directly patting them out.

I think that's it.

“cake the walk”, version 6


in hedges gusts rat
from lonesome scatter leaves
scurry to clump under that

just beyond the diamond
a stone bench waits for the cloud

which straggles from the splintery bleachers
trails along fences
touches bases

at the far end of the outfield swarms
the sponsors’
painted boards and tumbles over
into bushes

forgive the cold
its hold

who wouldn’t want
my hand

there’s cloud enough left in the oaks
to drop a drop on my sleeve
two, you say, for you

I appreciate this dark
on that shoulder

all the way up
link by link by link
to the backstop’s eave

the ringing I pat out
ching ching
of the hand you warmed for me

in the crowded pocket
of the jacket you put on
not wanting to

Monday, July 07, 2008

prospective titles for "cake the walk"

Not Wanting To
Not Wanting
For the Cloud
Beyond the Diamond
Cloud Enough
Who Wouldn’t Want
Forgive the Cold
I Appreciate That Dark
Appreciate That Dark
Under This
All the Way Up
A Stone Bench Waits for the Cloud
The Park
The Town Park
Near the Duckpond
A Cold Wind
Two For You
The Crowd


I don't always have trouble titling a poem. There are occasions the perfect title has seemed to me a line that otherwise didn't fit in the poem. Other times I've used the poem's first line, sometimes going for the repetition, sometimes displacing the first line into the title position so the poem & title start at the same place.

When Gordon Lish expressed interest in poems I sent him (this was 16 ... 17 years ago?) he didn't like the titles I'd given them. I filled up sheets of paper brainstorming new titles and finally found ones that were acceptable to him (and to me). In giving "cake the walk" a title I decided that rather than just going with the first thought that seemed OK I would brainstorm at least 20 different titles.

Some of the above I don't like at all. Others seem almost maybe. None jumps out as just right. Not right now anyway.

Any preferences out there?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

comments on "cake the walk" version 5

The two couplets beginning "forgive the cold" now occupy a pivot point for the poem. I'm quite fond of these two couplets. Following the Kill Your Babies advice I suppose these would be the obvious ones to eliminate.

I haven't worked on a title yet. "cake the walk" was never a title, just a name for the Word document.

"cake the walk" version 5

in hedges gusts rat
from lonesome scatter leaves
scurry to clump under that

just beyond the diamond
a stone bench waits for the cloud

which straggles from the splintery bleachers
trails along fences
touches bases

at the far end of the outfield swarms
the sponsors’
painted boards and tumbles over
into bushes

forgive the cold
its hold

who wouldn’t want
my hand

there’s cloud enough left in the oaks
to drop a drop on my sleeve
two, you say, for you

I appreciate this dark
on that shoulder

all the way up
link by link by link
ching ching
to the backstop’s eave

the ringing I pat out
of the hand you warmed for me
in the crowded pocket
of the jacket you put on
not wanting to

Friday, July 04, 2008

comments on “cake the walk”, version four

The stanza I’m closest to excising is the duck one. While I like the way the pond places the baseball diamond in a town park, thus helping prevent the reader from seeing some gigantic sports complex, the duck isn’t doing anything much. Not that he’s gotta exactly. I’m still thinking.

“cake the walk”, version four

forgive the cold
its hold

who wouldn’t want
my hand

just beyond the diamond
a stone bench waits for the cloud

which straggles from the splintery bleachers
trails along fences
even bases

at the end of the outfield swarms
the sponsors’
painted boards and tumbles over
into bushes

we passed the mallard
making his quiet circle in the pond
while among reeds his mate
tucked yellow bill under dun wing

in hedges gusts rat
from lonesome scatter leaves
scurry to clump under that

there’s cloud enough left in the oaks
to drop a drop on my sleeve
two, you say, for you

I appreciate this dark
on that shoulder

all the way up
link by link by link
ching ching
to the backstop’s eave

the ringing I pat out
of the hand you warmed for me
in the crowded pocket
of the jacket you put on
not wanting to

Friday, June 27, 2008

comments on “cake the walk”, version three

No longer sticking to couplets. Trying out a cloud/crowd relation. The persons (“you” and “me”) in this version vaguer.

“cake the walk”, version three

forgive my hand
its cold

the stone bench waits for a cloud

and here the cloud straggles
from the splintery bleachers

the backstop’s eave
a game lost yesterday or last season

and goes to dampen the ducks
one is turning the wet pebble green of its head
in a circle and another circle and a whole new circle

the pond’s face sending these turns
off to the cattail reeds

in hedges gusts rat
these leaves leave a lonesome rest
for more company

ching ching ching
all the way up
link to link to link

the backstop ringing from the slap of the hand
you warmed for me

there is no rain falling but what the live oaks
clawed out of a cloud

one drop for you
three for me?

Monday, June 23, 2008

comments on “cake the walk”, version two

This is a rough cut. Nearly every thing seen in version one appears in version two. The inconsistent punctuation is dropped altogether. The poem is now in couplets.

“cake the walk”, version two

bits of leaves cake the walk
in darkening layers

take my trembling hand
forgive its cold

in hedges gusts rat
just before us leaves leave one rest for another

the stone bench waits for a cloud
which straggles down from splintery bleachers

a mallard soundlessly circles the pond
his mate in the reeds, head tucked deep in dun feathers

the gravel gnashes dankly under a shoe
my unheld hand rattles the fencing

it rings its links, faintly distracted
all the way up to the backstop’s eave

a squirrel is gone by the time I look up
apart, arms folded, we read to each other

the names of the team sponsors
some loyalty older and peeling

under the dripping knuckles of live oaks
at the top of the stairs

we embrace
and let each other go

Sunday, June 22, 2008

comments on “cake the walk” version one

Haven’t versioned a poem on LuvSet in months. Time? “cake the walk” was written in February 1985.

I don’t remember who my companion was. Maybe Becky, a friend who I was sort of dating. Could be the companion was imagined.

I like the poem’s atmosphere, the drawing of the scene. I like the standing apart followed by the embrace.

“cake the walk,” version one

Little bits of leaves
cake the walk
stroll with me hand-in-hand
my hand trembles
a cold wind
rattles the bones of the trees
gust rats in hedges
dead leaves scurry across our feet
across concrete

sit with me
on a stone bench
a cloud drops earthward
straggles through the park
envelopes the duck pond
one mallard circles soundlessly
in the reeds his mate sleeps
head tucked deep in dull feathers

We stroll across the baseball diamond
you kick a clump of grass
the gravel patches crunch wetly
tepid red
I brush my unheld hand against the fence
the metal rattles
ringing faintly to the tip of the backstop

You point to a squirrel
in the overhanging oak
it’s gone, scampered out of sight
when I look up
I wrap my coat tighter
we stand apart, arms folded
read the little league sponsors’ painted advertisements
to one another

At the top of the concrete stairs
we embrace

Monday, June 16, 2008

Smash the Egg

This is a delightful kinetic sculpture built by Joseph Herscher as "an entry in Cadbury's 'Unleash The Goo' competition, in which entrants must find the most creative way to break a creme egg."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Land and People and Chez Panisse

People stop by LoveSettlement from all around the world. Of the last hundred visitors (as of writing, 6/8/08) most are, of course, from the lower 48. But there’s a significant cluster in Europe. Britain mostly. One from Germany, one from Italy. Of the rest of the great world: Two Argentinians stopped by. One Malaysian, two Australians, and a New Zealander. It would be nice if they were all faithful LuvSet readers, but even if all they did was swing by and fail to find what brought them here it’s still kinda cool that somebody in Argentina or Malaysia could drive past the LuvSet cornershop for a glance at the lettering on the sign.

I would like to spend more time at blogs based outside the U.S. In my pile of reading I try to make sure I’ve got some literature in translation. But I don’t comfortably read any language other than English so that does limit things somewhat. I do get in my ruts and find myself in the same old places, almost all of them U.S.-based.

I originally came across Rami Zurayk’s Land and People blog because he writes in Beirut, Lebanon, which, as we know, can sometimes be hazardous. (Even more so than Oakland, I suppose.) I think there was some fighting going on at the time I captured the link, and the Zurayk family were sheltering from arms fire. Things seem to have quieted down.

Zurayk mainly writes about food politics. In today’s post he gives a tongue-in-cheek version of the argument that improvements for poor people are to blame for, well, the problems in the world: “Too many hard-working Chinese and Indians … think they should be able to eat pizza, meat and coffee and aspire to a reservation at Chez Panisse. They get blamed for raising global prices so much that poor Africans and Asians can't afford porridge and rice.”

I’ve seen that formula given for why we have global warming, extinctions, environmental degradation of all kinds … It’s the dangerous aspirations of Third World people.

The philosophy of Chez Panisse (hey, Chez Panisse is right around the corner from my house!) might be right up Rami Zurayk’s alley, actually. From the Chez Panisse website: “A good kitchen respects its sources, chooses ingredients that are sound, seasonal, local when possible, and appropriate to the event. … Chez Panisse gathers its material from known and trusted purveyors, known to be committed themselves to sound and sustainable practices … We seek farmers who know their seeds and soil, ranchers who care about the food their livestock eats, winemakers who know what their grapes have known, fish merchants who are concerned about the health of the seas.”

Rami Zurayk characterizes American food giving as, "Let them eat subsidized American corn shipped over in American ships." Sounds like the opposite of the Chez Panisse ideal.

Of course, Chez Panisse is darn expensive. But delicious. And, you know, if you’re going to lay out a wad on dinner at least you won’t be fucking up the planet.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

a blog about farming in Oakland

I don’t remember how I found my way to Your City Farmer, a blog about farming in Oakland ( I copied the url to the Word doc where I work on LuvSet posts. That was back in April. Since then the blogger has changed it. Just found that out when I put the old url into the browser and got whipped around to the new one.

Looks like the name has changed to Meaningful Pursuit. Hm. Better title? I don’t know. I think … no. But whatever.

Right now our backyard is at its farmingest, what with cherries ripening and lush tomato plants considering whether to turn their yellow flowers into tight green fruits.

The May 12th post starts out with a picture of weeds. Novella (yes, that’s the blogger’s name) says, “Weeding can be satisfying work. Passers-by say hello, chew the fat, ask me for a quarter. Because remember, I'm not living some rural lifestyle with baby goats and rabbits. I'm living some urban lifestyle with baby goats and rabbits. A reminder of my urban farm: gun fire. Two shots, very close. Somehow muffled. Now, it IS firework season, but I knew those were bullets.”

Police cars appear. She overhears one of the officers say a man was shot in the apartment across the street, not killed though.

She went back to weeding. Now & then a neighbor would stop and ask what happened. “I grew tired of telling the news,” Novella says.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

maybe I should

Maybe I should write something on my blog. I haven't written anything on my blog in two weeks. My blog must be hungry. Or lonely. Maybe I should do something about the needs of my blog. It needs freshening. Blog posts climb onto it and age and age.

Of the six March posts one should get an update -- the Supreme Court of California has ruled that marriage cannot be denied to same-sex couples without a compelling reason. And they looked around and didn't find one, et voila -- Marry, you gays! I've been thinking about various ways to talk about it, actually. From the fear of a November ballot initiative to reading through the text of the decision to speculating about how this changes society. All of that would require a lot of thought and writing, wouldn't it?

I could review our last two trips -- the one to Orlando & environs, the one to Baja & Copper Canyon. After all, one of the ways I researched those trips was reading the blogs of travellers. So I could offer up what I've learned for the use of others.

I could write about daily things, what's doing at work, the weather, what piles we've dusted and what piles we've sorted.

I have several posts in the works, you know. Links to this or that, videos I found fascinating. Come back and check those out.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Info Desk Blogging

Hm. It's some kind of warm today. 85 degrees F.

I walked to work. And that was okay. Rather wish I'd worn shorts but I don't quite feel comfortable wearing shorts to work. Forecast says room temp tomorrow (72 degrees).

It is cooler in the building than outside 'cept outside the air does move a little bit.

Quiet in here. Only two people at the internet stations. I see two people in the magazine lounge. One person just passed talking on his cell phone, but he was on his way out the door. Yeah, I hear ringtones a few times a day, but most people are good about taking their conversations outdoors. I've only had to ask 4 or 5 people to hush or exit. That's over the course of a year or so. You know how people talk LOUD on cell phones.

This Monday I stopped in at North Branch to view the Quilt Show. Some really handsome work. As a tribute one quilter is represented by 10 quilts. Dorothy Vance's quilts are "witty takes on presidents, political activists, doctors and others," says the press release about the show. Here at Claremont I helped Ms Vance find images she could use in her quilt creations, especially a quilt of odd couples -- Harpo & Karl Marx, Bette & Jefferson Davis, etc. Sorry to learn she is no longer with us.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Info Desk Blogging

I'm in charge of the browsing paperbacks collection here at Claremont. The collection consists mainly of books that come to us as donations. Whenever someone drops off a bag of books I hop over and paw through it. Usually there's a book or two worth adding to my to-be-processed stack in the workroom.

It's simple processing. A barcode and radio frequency ID tag (RFID), a label to indicate genre (nonfic, fic, sf/fantasy, romance, mystery), a little plastic to reinforce the cover. Unlike the majority of the items owned by the library the browsing collection doesn't have to go through our cataloging librarians; you can't look them up in the catalog; what you see is what you get.

General fiction is popular. Nonfiction does fine. Mysteries? Yes, more or less.

But romance and sf/fantasy? Not so much. There are some name romance authors who go out but many paperbacks on the spinny racks go round and round and round, year after year. I've long had fewer sf/fantasy but the rate at which they go out is about the same. The other problem is that people just don't donate romances and sf/fantasy, so it's hard to keep the collection from getting tired. Maybe readers tend to resell the genre stuff at Berkeley's used bookstores. Dunno.

Anyway, I finally got a bagful of goodlooking romances so decided to refresh the collection. I reviewed everything that'd been swinging about the carousel and found many that hadn't been checked out in 2 or 3 years. I threw those away. I've reduced the romance collection by about a third. As I also obtained some more sf I'm going to equalize the romance and sf collections. See if they really do have about the same size audience.

I'll let you know.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

the foot measure

Berkeley's been rather cold lately. I judge temperature by how cold my feet are. They are cold right now. Even though I'm wearing socks with a snowflake pattern on the sole. (I should wear socks with flames?)

But it's not just how cold they are, it's how quickly/easily they can be warmed up. I expect once I get up from the computer and walk around my feet will warm up. It's really cold when I have on thick socks, big shoes and go walking around and my feet refuse to warm up. It's never that bad in Berkeley. We don't have ice or snow.

The big test is at bedtime. Will socks and blankets be enough to warm my feet? In winter the answer is no. Sometimes a foot massage will warm them enough. But when it's really unpleasantly cold I have to soak my feet in hot water, stuff them in warmed socks, then dive into bed before they cool off again. It's been like that once or twice since we got back from Mexico.

And I don't like it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Friendly Whales of San Ignacio Lagoon

That's me in the brown hat. Kent was standing behind manning a camera. That's Baby you see mostly, but note when Mama slides in between Baby and boat. She's the one with barnacles.

More videos are now up at youtube/kentmannis.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I miss that hair

It's a frame from the Touch of a Poet series videotapes. Unfortunately the tapes are not online. Yet? Oddly, there are a lot of typos in the names. That's Amy Kashiwabara (not Kashiwabar) who read with me on June 20, 1997. And my name is missing an L and an N.

Fun to note on the same page one of my coworkers at Claremont also read for the Touch series. Love the sideburns, Tom!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Berkeley Public Library

Yes, I know these people. And the video? ‘Tis rather droll. I might’ve even popped up in the video if I still worked at Central. But Central seems so far away these days.

Friday, March 07, 2008

gay marriage is for the kids

So the California Supreme Court had oral arguments (which, unlike oral sex, involves no bodily contact) in a case that will determine whether gay marrieds get to be "marrieds" under the law. The three hours of backnforth boiled down to, according to the articles I saw, a few whiny bits from the judges like this: "Why now! Why not in ten years! Then my mom'll be dead & my grandkids will be old enough to contribute to my reelection fund!" Don't forget, folks, California Supreme Courtiers have to face the voters! Rose Bird got tossed just for deciding against killing people. Naughty girl.

In his column at SFGate Jon Carroll makes the Duh argument that seems to be missed most the time: "The state can and does compel the people who did the procreating to support the upbringing of the children. Sometimes [the parents] can't or won't, but still, it's a system and a legitimate function of government. The marriage license is a way of saying 'These people are responsible for that kid.' Not perfect, but extremely useful all the same.

"Which means, of course, that formal marriages between gay people are necessary. Not just desirable; necessary. Gay people have kids too, increasingly so, and those kids require equal protection under the law. To create two classes of marriage is to create two classes of children, and that is both morally and legally unacceptable."

Restricting marriage does not protect children, it actively harms them. Little things didn't ask to be born and the state oughtn't go around swatting them according to whether the state likes their parents.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


tofu in lettuce roll

chicken with green bean

kung pao fish fillet

vegetable chow fun

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Game for a Sunday Morning

Here’s a game. How long a train of celebrity/prominent persons’ names can you make?

The one I came up with this morning lying in bed:

Eddie Albert Gore Vidal Sassoon

That’s from Eddie Albert / Albert Gore / Gore Vidal / Vidal Sassoon

Kent came up with this one:

Olivia Newton-John Dean Martin Landau

That’s from Olivia Newton-John / John Dean / Dean Martin / Martin Landau

OK, I provided Olivia Newton-John. Was Kent going to produce Olivia Newton-John? What’s a celebrity with the last name John? he said.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

tough enough?

From a New York Times article about Barack Obama’s riding high in the race for the Democratic nomination:

He lists the arrows that critics sling his way. He’s too hopeful, too inexperienced, not tough enough. At mention of the last, he bobs his head, steps toward the crowd, leans in and says: “Listen, I’m a black guy named Barack Obama running for president. You want to tell me that I’m not tough enough?”

He smirks. “Shoot.”

Friday, February 22, 2008

Trapped in a world he never made!

I never understood that tagline. It was a tagline for Howard the Duck, a comic book series written by Steve Gerber. I bought a few issues of Howard the Duck; but it was my brother who became a regular reader. When we were buying comics it was rare we’d be able to start with the first issue. You want to start at the beginning, right? So we’d have to buy back issues at the comic store in Santa Rosa (what a relief when we discovered such a thing existed!) Usually back issues were fairly inexpensive – we weren’t investing in the old back issues, like Avengers #1 or Amazing Fantasy #15, because, well, we didn’t have that kind of money. But the first issue of Howard the Duck I bought was a low number. #4? Something like that. “Something Winkie this Way Comes,” was the story. An old Ozzy, I doubted the Winkie in the comic had anything to do with the Winkies of Oz (in the MGM movie they’re the guys who work for the Wicked Witch of the West and chant OH-WEE-OH); I was right. Nothing. When we tried to buy the Howard back issues they weren’t to be had, and when any showed up they were pricey. It seems Marvel had printed only a few, having little suspicion of success; those first issues sold out and no one wanted to part with them (for cheap, anyway). I’ve not read a Howard the Duck in, oh, thirty years? Nice that reprints are available now, though.

I discovered Steve Gerber’s blog a year or two ago. As I recall he was bent out of shape at Jonathan Lethem’s poaching Omega the Unknown, a comic character Gerber had created for a short-lived comic series also published by Marvel. How dare he! Gerber fumed. Omega was very personal. Maybe he had created Omega as a work-for-hire, meaning Marvel owned everything about it and could legally do whatever it wanted with the “property”, but it wasn’t like Gerber had had any choice at the time. That was the way the business worked. Jonathan Lethem can create his own characters; he doesn’t have to steal mine! Gerber said.

I sympathized. Somewhat. But I stopped reading the blog. After reading an obituary at SF Gate I dropped by Steve Gerber’s blog again last week. Mark Evanier has been putting up new posts, encouraging fans to leave appreciations.

I wonder if I have those original Omegas in a box somewhere.

I haven’t read any of Lethem’s version of Omega the Unknown. I feel like I have to be loyal to Gerber and boycott it. On the other hand, I’ve flipped through it at the comic store and it looks interesting.

Friday, February 08, 2008

P&P v. P&P

When I go to an event these days I’ll sometimes check afterward to see if anyone has blogged it. Two people blogged the Harold Norse reading at the Beat Museum, for instance.

So has anybody blogged Poetry & Pizza, the reading series in SF I help run? Other than me, it seems, no.

However I did come across a post about New Jersey’s Pizza & Poetry night at Slice of New York Pizza. So, instead of Poetry & Pizza, it’s Pizza & Poetry. Instead of the host restaurant being Escape from New York Pizza, it’s Slice of New York Pizza. It’s a monthly reading. And it sounds like they are reaching capacity, too.

“I fear the Monkey Man's group may outgrow Slice of New York Pizza, because on Tuesday night we filled every seat. It's not a big place, but it's big enough -- we're just getting more and more folks all the time,” says Anne at her blog, Gods Are Bored.

To keep with the symmetry Katharine, Clive, and I will have to change our names to the Monkey Collective or Baboon Troops or, um, Trio Lemur.

For our own P&P I did find a review of sorts at Is this one for the scrapbook? becca h. says , “i love all-you-can-eat pizza and poetry nights... go for the pizza, run from the poetry. pizza's always good, and the slices are just right. mmm, pesto and potato!” That was from 1/4/08. Run from the poetry!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Night

Congratulations to whoever won the Super Bowl. I’m sure it was a giant accomplishment!

Good luck to you big presidential candidates come Tuesday (and beyond). I’m sure the best president will emerge from all the noise and bother. Like usual.

May all of you with diseases, get well soon. And all of you under the bombs (or stepping on them), be blessed with dud after dud, and flowers in the mud.

Ah readers, I wish you especially, great wealth and happiness. (If you want to pass that along, more power to you.) And more power, too.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

not quite what I wrote

in reply to Junker:

An editor bangifies the slopdish wang signature, enabling the rest in the nest of the good panther, named sometimes but often willingly depantsed.

If I were to say a magazine collapsed among the Denver 9, those who publish with a poor sense of twinges, the tiring of never occurred purples, even among the well-lit horses barndoor flapping at a hootenany’s any time buffet then blah would have to reupended among tah, or, conservatively, among shah.

There are, even steven, a fairly budded welch. Editors who tend suchlike whiskeys are fro to the vote, Best! Until everyone can agree, we must anger the ghetto friendlies.

I think a poet is free from the usual conundrum of the avuncular, but that’s only a theft from the visible whig. How could you aver! Stories were left collapsible, oiled.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I found this sketch in a pile of papers. I figure it’s from 2002 or thereabouts. I think the smudges are cat footprints.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

response poem

reply to Genusa

ever click
lead to free

bored out
rap star

lead to free

crush alert
dart Mart

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

reply to Josh

I left the following comment on in response to a posting by Seth Abramson on his blog:

You quote Harold Bloom as insisting that one of the primary ways one must approach a poem is as a judge -- "Is it Good?"

I remember being intimidated by that notion when I was a youngster. How could I judge Great Poetry when I hardly knew what poetry was?

Part of my solution was throwing out the notion that there is such a thing as Great Poetry or a Great Poet. It's just not useful.

The first thing I ask of a poem is: am I enjoying the experience of reading you? I don't just mean am I getting a warm feeling but am I being engaged, pulled in, surprised, all those things one hopes will wash one out of the doldrums.

Different people will enjoy different experiences. Far as books are concerned (let alone movies) I know there are plenty I can't abide (even ones everybody else seems to love!). Why should it be different with poetry? Thus, my main reply to those who make pronouncements about poetry is Poetry Is Not One Thing.

Fiction isn’t just Finnegan’s Wake … or Nancy Drew. Casablanca isn’t the only possible movie, any more than Die Hard 8 or . Poetry can be many things, too.

The only people whose job description includes judging whether a poem is good: editors, poets ... and, I suppose, those who study poems, though I'd suggest it's more important for the student of poetry to be able to see what the poem does than judge whether it's good. Many well-crafted, interesting, even admirable pieces aren't the sort of thing you ever want to read again.

Readers shouldn’t have to judge. Except whether the object before them is worth the time they could be using to vacuum a rug, the mental effort they could be putting toward balancing a checkbook or puzzling over a crossword.

[The comment is not precisely the comment posted at Seth’s blog, but the edits are mostly for clarity.]

Saturday, January 05, 2008


In Feb 1976 I was ten. I was in 6th grade? That would make this the first Hawaii visit. My dad sent my brother & me tickets and we met him and his Alaska family on one of the islands. I remember being ushered to a connecting flight across the breezy muggy tarmac by a flight attendant.

We went again the following year. I’m sure I got sunburned on both trips. I know I got burnt badly on one of them, such that I felt like I was being tortured all night.

Dad had remarried after the marriage between him & my mother broke up. He gained two new sons about the ages of David & me, and, shortly after, a second daughter, who was, I believe, six years old on our first Hawaii trip. I bonded with her by animating her Pooh puppet. Her brothers had little tolerance for their bouncy tag-along kid sister.

Peanuts was the cat we left in California with Mom.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I get lonely

I like to imagine I have a big readership. You’re just quiet. It’s not like I say anything controversial – what’s to argue with? And everybody knows how tiresome chirpy DITTO!s get.

Since I added the stats service to the blog I can’t delude myself as much. I see that few people are visiting and most of those who do are popping by to find a picture of Hagrid (it’s just a link!) or cat pee solutions (go here).

I’ve been keeping this blog since December 2002, which means it slipped past the five year mark last month. Currently I get about ten visitors a day. There are maybe 3 people who subscribe to the RSS feed. LuvSet ain’t burnin’ up the web.

I don’t obsess about these numbers. Like the poetry I write the blogging I do is primarily for me, to keep the me of me alive. I’m not, in other words, writing for an audience. So not getting what I’m not working for is no great surprise?

There are things one can do to improve a blog’s visibility, I know. But marketing bores me; it takes an energy I tend to have little of. I would rather put the energy into the writing. What I write I write carefully. I strive to be clear in my prose, to burnish the poems until they reflect light. I don’t bother to say the same thing everybody else has said already, unless it’s got a Glenn Ingersoll variation.

I imagine a larger, talkier audience would raise my enthusiasm. I would feel seen rather than overlooked. I would be able to earn money with blog ads! But perhaps I’m wrong. A thousand and two more of you rummaging through my daily (semi-daily?) thoughts would be NO GOOD? Well, whatever. I imagine myself developing strategies to cope. At worst one could wait out that excess, right? I’m sure you’d be able to swing with it, my core ten, of all the millions those who truly care what Glenn thinks about hahoo.