Thursday, August 31, 2006

Vietnam and Iraq

It's hard to be aware of what people come here for. For the narrative? For a poem? I've looked at traffic and I can't figure it out. I don't blog in response to traffic but I wonder if I have a steady readership that skips the narrative for a poem or vice-versa. I should think more come here for the narrative as few delight in poetry. I don't write for poets either. I write for the discipline of writing. If I practice no other writing today, at the least I can blog.

I don't think therefore that curiosity is over and experiments no longer in vogue. So here's my experiment, begun at 9 PM August 30. I'm going to post what I think is a very good poem and also timely in view of the morass in Iraq. With three hours left tonight, only 16 have graced this site today. Let's see what happens, shall we?

I'll report tomorrow.

At 2 kilorats,



At the Vietnam War Memorial

Black granite stretches its harsh, tapering wings
up to pedestrian-level grass
but sucks me down, here, at the intersection of names.
I forgive, I must, though I wish something
could heal this wound in the earth.

Behold, all theorists, the price of theory:
extreme unction by napalm and blood,
vets shipped home whole or in pieces:
The VA grants prostheses
but not minds free of horror.

In jungles tumescent, through villages
of straw, by the Mekong where catfish
sleep in mud-heaven, we tramped,
disarming mines and flushing tunnels,
killing women and children
for potential collaboration,
smoking Thai-stick until stuporous—
still, the sound of Charlie
played on every frond.

Beat against this polished rock, America,
this vast projective surface for your sins,
wear your bloody heart out.
It's not how many died
but that they died in vain, achieving
nothing except our grief for them.

It's said you cannot write a good poem
until recollected in tranquility.
Let this then be a bad poem, bad as the war,
dividing author from reader and reader from page.
Let it drive a wedge between fathers and sons.
Let fathers mistake rebellion for disloyalty,
let sons mistake honor for stupidity,
let senators mistake appropriation for commitment,
let mothers confuse waste with sacrifice,
let sisters turn to prostitution to forget.

Let teachers suicide in public in partial recompense,
let preachers castrate themselves for passive assent,
let everything in America that breathes
hang its head in irrefragable shame.
Here is the legacy of your assumptions,
here the necropolis of your dark-suited wisdom:
A city set in a pit cannot be hid.

OK, the experiment begins now. We'll check again in 24 hours.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Suspects Still at Large; Am I a Poet Yet?

To tie together some loose ends:

After my initial contact with the detective re: stolen goods in our neighbor's house, we talked once more and he wanted to meet with us Sunday but we weren't back in time to do so. He got off Sunday at 6 PM. Since then no messages and no contact. We continue to be cordial to our neighbors.

Officer Ricky told me that this was a "last ditch attempt," as the theft from their former landlord was six months old--nearly the amount of time that they've spent at their new residence. Kathleen loaned the suspects her digital camera in the hopes of getting fingerprints. But all this suspense is for naught; the detective doesn't seem interested in the case, else he has more important things to tend to. Since we identified four items in our neighbors' house with certainty from his photographs, maybe he doesn't want to bust them. Or maybe he wants to connect them to a ring of thieves. Or something. But I never saw a cop not eager to bust a perp when he had the opportunity to catch him red-handed. Even the cops up here seem laid back.

Today's emergency is Kenyon. Those of you who followed our travails in Mexico will remember our eleven-year-old, much traveled pooch. He quit eating yesterday, threw up several times and passed blood-stained mucous while straining to poop. He's listless. He didn't even climb the stairs last night to be near Kathleen, something I've never seen before. He's at the vet now; she'll probably do a barium X-ray of his bowels. Whatever it is, I hope it's not fatal. Kathleen was already crying when I stopped by her work just to communicate the preliminaries.

As for my mood, I'm too sleep-deprived to estimate it. Sleep deprivation helps depression temporarily. I got nearly a week's boost from the last all-nighter. But I didn't stay up all night last night as I got a few hours in. Still, I do have that drained feel of sleep deprivation.

Meanwhile the task of matching all my credits to my published poems continues in its tedium, a nice distraction to have. My filing system was done on the fly and is plain stupid: one file held html pages and was sorted by magazine while the other held only word documents of poems published without annotations as to where. So far I've found the following online journals to be defunct, and when I say "defunct" I mean without archives, though some home pages remain, curiously.

Apples and Oranges
A Writer’s Choice
Beauty for Ashes
Free Cuisenart
Horsethief’s Journal
Poetry Now
Poetry Tonight

In the grand scheme of things my filing project seems trivial. Nevertheless triviality is what I seek--no major cosmic questions, please; because of my mood I'm globalizing anyway. I worry about things like how we'll survive when I'm 65, my inability to crack the glass ceiling of recognized poets, and how the last ten years of my life may have been a waste in pursuing an art that has more authors than readers. But the good news is that we got a TV! A 32" ilo tube television with a digital tuner for the amazing price of $275 at Wal-Mart. I did my research online and phoned the nearest Wal-Mart to make sure they had it in stock. No, it's not a flat screen, just your basic cathode ray model. Not bad for what it is.

Enough babbling. I'll close today with a poem:

Am I a Poet Yet?

I cut my head off with a chain saw,
paraded like Perseus with Medusa's,
wishing I'd put my hair into a net:
Am I a poet yet?

I clove myself from crown to anus
like those hanging pig carcasses you see,
discarding my intestines on a bet:
Am I a poet yet?

I went to bed with men, women and sheep,
contracted syphilis, anthrax, took the cure
romantically, clicking a castanet:
Am I a poet yet?

I married and divorced and married again
then divorced and married again
(the kids I don't regret):
Am I a poet yet?

Someone slipped me powder, crystalline.
I put it up my nose and down my vein
and danced all jangly like a marionette:
Am I a poet yet?

I've gone insane, been hospitalized,
was shackled hand and feet while beaten
by a Connecticut police sextet:
Am I a poet yet?

$35 is the most I've made in cash
for a published poem or a reading in thirty years
(the only job that really makes me sweat):
Am I a poet yet?

Two Kilorats,


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Two Steps Back--Three Kilorats

I’m in one of those moods where whatever I do is wrong. If I try to blog I’m immediately bored else feel the pressure to go do something else. It’s not quite full-blown anhedonia, more of a restlessness, knowing no activity will satisfy me. I want to go forward and back at the same time, and the urge to do either brings up the question of my existence again.

At the same time I’m tearful just under the surface, have no opinion of my own, am afraid to make decisions, dwell on recurring trivia like my weight and my career. It all makes sense is you think about it.

Temperament is a lifelong measure of relative mood, and in this I think most of my friends would call me entertaining and upbeat. How strange to be a depressive as well, tossed between fear and damnation and fear of damnation, a zero walking.

Comments are getting scarce here. People refrain out of politeness, I’m sure, so not to scream from boredom. What’s there to say to a depressed person? Talk about anything but him. Give him a chance to project himself into the other if ever so briefly.

Forgetting oneself is the bliss I crave. That I can crave bliss shows my depression isn’t as bad as it feels, maybe 3 kilorats today. I couldn’t schlep that bag of food over, it would weight too much, the logistics are forbidding.

Depression is boring. It’s hard to come up with new things to say about depression. It’s like the boy in the bubble like being in a bell jar as if your hands were Styrofoam and would crumble at the first human contact terrified you know nothing forgetting what you just learned posing as a human with a monstrous hand pushing you forward on the gangplank of the abyss but you never quite fall because you’re pushing back but you never board the ship either Sisyphus by any other name tereu tereu take me back to the ball game with a warm Daddy figure and I’ll die for you sorry already dead suspended constantly able to vibrate but not really move as if the air were composed of flypaper feeling mechanical androidish inhuman sad at the fact that you are inhuman it makes you cry to be so inhuman what a pity what a wasted life a life you thought was a human life isn’t there anything on TV?

At -3,


Monday, August 28, 2006

Back to Kilorats

I've slipped. 8 days ago I stayed up all night and the sleep deprivation bumped my mood up temporarily, but I can feel it slipping again. Worse, I ran out of Lamictal because the online pharmacy I use couldn't get something to my mailbox in three weeks. As my sister says of Lamictal, "It gives you a bottom." That is, you're not going to sink all the way into the abyss. Depression becomes a contest of wills when you're clinging to a ledge on the pit wall, refusing to jump. What world view will you hold on to- how you believe things are or how you feel that they are? You must hold on to what you believe. This is what faith is. Faith isn't pretty.

On the other hand, in making my will strong enough to withstand depression, there is a downside: insulation from feeling, or a general lack of sympathy for what's troubling others, but some of this surely must be comprised of my medical training.

Bipolars, not schizophenics, are the true "split personalities"--then we were often mistaken for schizophrenics in the past.

There's a great book on all this business with a lousy title: Listening to Prozac. Therein the author demonstrates how very much of the human personality is dominated by brain chemistry.

At two kilorats,


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sonnet Sunday: Guest Poet Dweebler Cramden

Today our sonnet is supplied by my cousin, Dweebler A. Cramden, bio below.

Saline Sonnet

If you have only half an urge, don't pee
if you must needs visit a public place,
for public bathrooms pressure publicly
and if you cannot squirt, you may lose face.
You may believe your bladder's sore to burst
as the yellow push grows ever stronger
but mark my words, take time to be sure first
or you may stand humiliated longer.
The ego suffers when you must pretend
and flush a toilet full of unstained water;
"'Tis better," you say, "'Tis better to make an end
than stand there while my cheeks are flushing hotter!"
You hypocrite! Although a wasted trip,
you flush as if it weren't and calmly zip.

---Dweebler A. Cramden

"I can't believe everyone believes they're just as important as I am."


Prior to becoming a used car salesman, Dweebler A. Cramden ('A' is for Asshole) served as general toadie to Neil Diamond, thinking himself too ugly for anything but middle-aged ass, in the hopes of borrowing some of the Master's (King and Boss were taken) magnetism. But being only a toadie, he was stuck with the roadies' discards, which means his groupies rarely weighed less than three hundred pounds, roughly the size of an Alaskan Halibut. Still, Dweebler maintains that "fat is where it's at" since Reubeneschatology predicts such females to be as indulgent of him as they are of food. And without going into mechanics, Dweebler insists his harem ("my bonny whales") have much more to offer than the pseudo-voodoo-phony-boobjob-skinny-plastic-blonde types others pursue. Besides (he reminds us), big girl's boobs are almost always bigger, and real to boot, since breasts are mainly fat, as are buns and all the other soft parts. It's just a question of the skin quality which overlies them. If beauty is only skin deep, surely his treasured cephaloblimps have more of it, since their skin is indubitably deeper. But enough of this detour into his private lipoloungelizard life.

As for his literary career, Dweebler has been rejected by every earthly magazine at least once, but he is extremely proud of his publication in RealPoetik, that microsecond of fame that made it all worthwhile.

Before he discovered the financial advantages of the web, Dweebler feared his commissions on used Yugos could never match his postage habit, so he received treatment through a forty-step program called "Rejections Anonymous." He is happy to report that (one day at a time) he now resists the urge to mail poems to Poetry and respects their once-a-year submission limit Nazipoeticpolicy. Dweebler just celebrated three days of submitobriety! His favorite writers are Kilgore Trout, Susan Polis Schultz and Hugh Prather. You can write him c/o Dr. Chaffin.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Playing Peter Lorre: Dr. Chaffin the Informer

As I recently had a brush with the law, imagine my surprise when I heard a rapping on my front door, which irritated me, as the importunate individual didn’t come in when I shouted, “Come in!” Instead I was forced to unwind my creaky and overweight body from its easy chair to let the visitor in (and right now it isn’t easy to rise. When I push on the arms of my chair to lift myself up, sparing my back, the bursitis in my right shoulder makes it a molar-grinding proposition).

Did I mention the knock came from a detective? He was in uniform, perhaps because he was from the County Sheriff’s office. He was tall, dark, and Italian, with eyes of blue topaz. Rarely do I comment on a man’s appearance but I’m glad Kathleen wasn’t home to see him. I already hear too much about Liam Neeson.

I do wish he had worn a suit. I mean, there’s a reason they call detectives “suits,” isn’t there? My whole television world, my false comfort in phony stereotypes, was shattered, to say the least. Then there is something about a man in uniform.

Verily, about which matter did said authority inquire?

Detective Ricky Del Fiorentino laid out a pile of photos and asked me if I’d seen any of the furnishings displayed in them at my neighbor’s house. Err... that would have been a “yes.”

There was a woman in the photos who claimed to be our neighbors’ former landlord. She alleged they had skipped out not only without paying the rent, but with some souvenirs. As the woman was square-faced and frumpy-looking, I thought her a more convincing witness than my neighbors, who claimed to be from Malibu, and said recently, when Mel Gibson had his trouble, “Serves him right. Everybody in Malibu knew he was a phony.” They dress very LA as well, which stands out in the redwoods.

I didn’t want to make a positive identification without Kathleen consenting as there was no way to insure anonymity. I also wanted her moral input. I hate handing anyone over to the authorities as I have a healthy distaste for our system of needless incarceration, I mean justice. But if this other woman was telling the truth, I should probably come clean... best to wait for Kathleen.

Having only recently been severely depressed and still feeling fragile, I feel the need at present to consult Kathleen about nearly everything. She’s a fount of knowledge, truly. I only hope my dependence isn’t a turn-off. (Women want men to confide in them while acting as if they don’t need to.)

Kathleen came home and was certain that the right thing to do was to drop the dime, but I didn’t feel good about it. On the other hand, if our neighbors go upstate for grand larceny, N will quit cutting my Swiss chard without permission. Kathleen and I haven’t even tasted it yet.

It's not that S and N are good friends, by any means, but they are pleasant acquaintances, and once in a while we'd have a laugh. On the other hand, they were likely in possession of up to $10,000 of stolen goods. Worse, N had hornswaggled Kathleen in trying to sell things for her on E-Bay, promising to split the profits. She was trying to make Kathleen her unwitting fence!

I grew up in the 60s and hate to turn anyone over to the oppressors, I mean authorities. But Kathleen and I both thought it was the right thing to do. No doubt our grifter friends will shimmy their way out of it. All I know is that no arrest has been made yet today—about eighteen hours after the fact. Then the officer was trying to get a warrant on a late Friday afternoon, and prosecutors have lives, too.

Although we are friendly with S and N we are not invested in them. I told Kathleen from the outset that they were scammers, sociopaths. They were living under the radar, paying cash for everything except things you can’t get with cash, as when they importuned us to use our debit card to order cable for them.

Incidentally, they watch television 16 hrs. a day. It is unapologetically the most important thing in their lives. Why should they go to jail when they’re already in it? In jail they will certainly read more. It could be good for them. So it’s a win-win. The lady will get her antiques back. Our neighbors will begin a reading program. And my vegetable garden will not be abused.

Is there a poem in my oeuvres that can possibly relate to this tale? I found one that was later combined with others into my poem, “Drug Trial.”


To stand for something,
to protest abortion or the destruction of wetlands,
to support the preservation of historic buildings
or the return of condors to the wild
fulfills our passion for goodness
more than tolerance,
an mere exercise in manners,
not even a virtue, more like ignoring
someone’s body odor in an elevator.

Who can say with a straight face,
“I understand and accept what you are doing
even though I find it detestable?”

Moral passion is not an oxymoron.

I’d still rate myself as rodent neutral, but there’s also a prickling in my gut that tells me I’m not far from the abyss.

Thine in Truth and Art,

C. E. Chaffin

Friday, August 25, 2006

Internet Shopping and Decision Fatigue

First, you really should check out this Dadaist story I found on my Google home page today: whose link I put above. Home Depot Invasion.


You know you're in the Age of the Internet when you go shopping for a bed online. So we did. It will be shipped to us but I'm not sure how they'll fit it into the P.O. Box. Maybe I should have given them our real address. And what if I don't like the bed? Just paste the easy return sticker on the mattress and leave it at your curb.

Since Kathleen has been slaving away at Safeway's deli, we are approaching the fulfillment of three things we wanted and/or needed: a brake job on the van, a decent bed, and a television. The brakes are now done and the bed ordered. Now I'm shopping for televisions on the net, but it will be a while before we can afford one. Meanwhile I'm confused by the options: Standard-Definition Digital TV, Flat-Tube HDTV, LCD Flat Panel, Plasma Flat Panel, Rear-Projection HD-ILA HDTV, Real Flat Flat-Tube. These choices bring up a favorite psychosocial subject for me: Decision Fatigue or “DF” for short.

It used to be we had Chevy, Ford and Chrysler; white, wheat and French or sourdough bread; paper with no plastic; Converse or Jack Purcell or Keds tennis shoes, and shrink-to-fit Levi 501s only. Diversification promotes niche marketing, which increases your overall field of choosing.

If you want to know what niche you’re in, just note the commercials on the TV shows you watch. Those who watch college basketball are subjected to Mercedes and investment commercials. Those who watch re-runs of All in the Family have to put up with gadgets that do everything for $19.99, come-ons from psychics and the Wonder Bra. But television is democratic despite the demographics. You can live in a trailer and watch Hallmark Theater, and you can live in a mansion and watch Scooby-Doo.

When I practiced medicine I suffered from severe decision fatigue, so the last thing I wanted to hear upon coming home was, “What do you want for dinner?” I just wanted to be fed.

The exponential explosion of choices in retail are enough to drive anyone who doesn't like to shop nutsy-cuckoo. But I have witnessed others with a different mind-set, my daughters for instance, for whom shopping is an adventure and the increase in choices makes for an increase in pleasure. I don’t know if the difference is generational or gender-based. It could be both.

Still, the choice of a television is no small matter; television is one medication most of us use on a regular basis. It’s been shown to alter brain waves to a more peaceful frequency. To be truly clean and sober one ought not to watch it. I say this for any Puritans looking for guidance.

I’ll post a poem below that applies to television drama. Watch out, it might alter your brain waves. Poetry is a medication, too.

Rodent neutral but a little edgy.



One Plot

In the third edition of Scott Meredith's Writing to Sell
I learned there is only one plot.
Somewhere in flames in writer's hell

manuscripts burn because they did not
heed this simple dictum: take a sympathetic hero
to his limits, have him shot

and left for dead on a riverbank in sub-zero
weather in pursuit of some obsessive fate.
Wake him up with soup over Sterno,

revive his fortunes when things most degenerate
and launch him back into the fray
at the last minute the audience can tolerate.

He triumphs, of course, or fails gloriously.
The reader agrees it's all plausible
and the hero lives to fight another day

after licking his wounds for the sequel.
I wish this formula weren't true;
I suppose Napoleon and Jesus do, too.

(published I forget where)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Poetry Thursday; Cleaning Up My Poetry Files

Poetry Thursday has asked for poems about time. Here's mine:

By a Lake

The stumps stand sentinel upon the shore
to watch the diamond splinters of the moon
infect the lake with cool electric sparks
dancing in time to some unearthly tune.

The wooden army waits through summer nights
though all its jagged mouths are rotted dumb.
The waters quiver with the worming lights,
announcing some epiphany to come:

For when the last sun's dying coppery disc
shines like a penny in the lake's blue hand,
those lifeless sticks that stood their dogged watch
shall tower like beeches in the promised land.

(Published in Arkenstone, 1979)


I have thought about time in the last week, during which I cleaned up my poetry files from the last ten years. Here are the stats:

Light Verse: 77 poems, 13 published. (17%)

Poetry: 606 poems, 396 published. (65%)

Most of these publications came between 1998 and 2002, after which I lost interest in net publication and began responding only to queries, an attitude that increased while living in Mexico. I do want to continue publishing, but more selectively. I'd like to get into a few high rep journals like Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review and the like. By the time I do, it may be my luck that some online journals will have become better credits than the formerly vaunted print journals.


A number of poets have asked me, “Why publish?” My answer is, “Why write?”

If a poem appears in a forest and no one reads it, does it exist?

Poetry presupposes an audience whether you write for one or not. While writing a poem I don't write for myself or an audience, I write for the poem itself. Once the poem takes on its identity I try to get out of its way. If an early draft looks good enough, I show it to my first audience member, Kathleen. If it passes her scrutiny, I may have a poem.

At 0 or "Rodent Neutral" today,


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Revised Post: Jail Tour, Iowa Workshop Poem

I did a foolish thing and began to read my earlier post on this blog and found it utterly boring and self-centered. Below is a revision.


I noticed that since I mused about incarceration but opted not to continue, that interest in my blog has lagged.

Now... what drama can I mine from my pitiful existence? My mood is 0.5 kilobunnies so I don't feel inclined to blog about my life. I don't care about an audience because I have a life. It's the same life I had when I was depressed, but now it feels like a life. I can't emphasize this difference enough.

We are chemical beings, that is certain.

I toured the county jail not long ago looking for opportunities to serve ala Chuck Colson but found no openings. Nevertheless I did see their high tech fingerprint system. No ink, no muss. You put your hand down on the glass, then each finger separately. Afterwards you place your entire hand around a see-through cone containing a revolving camera. All these pictures are instantly digitalized into black-and-white graphics just as if they'd inked you. And they go to the FBI archives immediately. Pretty scary, huh?

I also saw breakfasts being delivered--a small bag of generic Fruit Loops and an equally small carton of milk, together amounting to 240 calories, less than a tenth of what I need calorically to maintain my present weight.


I've been going through all the poetry files I have in my computer and striving to eliminate duplicates and deleting also-rans. I'm also trying to find as many credits as I can, many of which I foolishly did not record.

I did submit to Ploughshares yesterday by e-mail. In my better mood I think, "Why not go for the high rep journals? Yet in sampling their pages I saw so many Iowa Workshop Poems, or PEMLO(C)Ds: "Personal Emotive Monologues with Lots of Concrete Details, that I was instantly discouraged and hard put to match a poem of mine to their tastes. To make an Iowa Workshop Poem take the quotidian and spin it like a pizza, add the inoffensive offerings of non-contoversial musings, and end with a whimpering epiphany.

Poetry nowadays, in general, lacks passion and conviction. Everyone is trying to talk around everything without actually committing the sin of opinion. Form over substance, as I decry over and over. Beyond mere fashion, it may also be because poets nowadays have few passionate convictions. Dancing around an issue is the norm.

The neurotic fear of offending others is the dark side of tolerance. The dark side makes whitebread.


I ordered a bed on the net which should be delivered late next week, at which time my back may improve. I'm hoping it will help me overcome the effect of my medications because it has memory foam.

Coming soon to a theater near you: Doctor Chaffin Goes Euthymic!

At 0.5 kilobunnies and grateful,


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fish Story and Fishing Poem; Electronic Finances a Nightmare

Good morning, Ladies and Germs.

My mood is still improved today after the sleep deprivation I endured Saturday night. So in a series of one, if this holds with support from my medications, I will certainly add sleep deprivation to my depression toilette.

Meanwhile I have a fish story and a fishing poem.

I was fishing off a rocky cliff overlooking the blue, kelp-filled sea on Friday. As I hadn't caught a fish with my small pole yet, I thought I would use it--it's just a 5 1/2 ft. trout pole. I baited my hook with a cuttlefish head and threw it down to the rocky cove. In about 20 minutes something hit the bait hard and hooked up.

I had only 12 lb. test line with 8 lb. test for my leader, and based on the pull of the fish I had little hope of landing it. All I wanted to do was make it surface to see what the hell it was. Alas, it was not to be. After fighting it for half an hour the leader finally snapped--the proverbial one that got away. Yet the thrill of fighting that monster for so long with undersized tackle was a distinct pleasure. Because the purpose of fishing is not to catch a fish but to fish.

I'm more and more wary about using a credit card online. I've been charged for some silly things lately; 5$ to the Red Cross, 19$ to maintain a website I've never heard of, 12$ for a monthly credit report we didn't order. So I cancelled my card last night after calling two of the concerns to have the transactions made null and void. But you, dear reader, have to know how long such little interactions take.

I sometimes wonder if the electric nightmare we call finances actually requires more time of the customer than cash and a cash register. I've signed enough paper in my life to construct a house of papier mache'.

I'm no apocalyptic fundamentalist, but if they ever want to put a chip in my body or laser stripes on my arm, I'm headed for the hills. Everything is in place for a monolithic system to squeeze humanity right out of us. And the Bible does not mince words about the future; there is to be a great conflict before Christ returns, not these nickle-and-dime civil wars and acts of terror. According to my faith, things are going to get worse before they get better. But isn't that usually the case? Just look at my patchwork life for the term of this blog.

No earth-shaking thoughts today, just a poem on fishing.

Only Fishing

Oyster shells and green rocks
gouge my soles while wadefishing
I cast yards of singing monofilament
over the breeze-stung waters.
The lure plunks, flashes and wiggles
home to my hands, then spins out
over the bay to tempt and re-tempt.
Fish follow the golden spoon but seldom strike.
The sun crawls under the clouds
at the edge of the earth as twilight comes on.

In murky water there are no depths
to imagine, only the dark cold sea
forever a bed of strangeness.
Waist-deep and wet, hands numb from reeling,
I waddle along the rocks and forget my hands
This is an exercise to learn perfection.
Fish are only the goad of the process.
I am casting well. The beautiful lure
mirrors the last drop of sun.

Light wanes, goldenrods shiver in the wind,
deserted grandstands from summer boat races
aim wooden stairways to nowhere,
to the sky big enough to swallow me
but I am harmless, without hooks.
Pelicans stare from pier posts
at my slow progress and regress.
There is no real progress here, only fishing.

(Written in 1978, published in Arkenstone and my first book, Elementary)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Free Pot! Poem: "His Preferences"

Why is the first movement of Brahms' first symphony so unsure of itself, seeking, trying, thirsting for a melody but always avoiding it, unlike the fourth movement. It's what I'm listening to as I write this. He's my favorite composer.

Jeez. Much to say, so little time. Due to sleep deprivation the night before last, my mood has temporarily improved. The literature claims sleep deprivation gives only a short term boost but I know no study that tested it while the patient's medications were maximized. Speaking of medications, we have no insurance and must pay cash for them just to stay within barking distance of the light near the top of the pit.

Two characters I met yesterday were preminently hootable. One, "half" Hopi Indian, told me his frizzy hair was typical of the Hopis. He also told me about peyote ceremonies and how he had seen angels twice. "Tall men in white, glowing, with large wings--I saw three when my mom recovered from her cancer." Who am I to doubt him?

Another fellow was a grower and seller of marijuana who proudly informed me that in this county each resident was allowed 2 lbs. of pot for personal use and a garden of cannibis no larger than 10' by 10' or 25 plants. He has his plants, "Romuluns and Monkey Balls," in 25 gallon containers so he can move them to the legal square footage if need be.

I asked this character how much an ounce of pot would sell for in his town, rumored to be the hub of our county's herb business, and he laughed. "You couldn't buy it. There's too many people growing it. Someone would give you an ounce. I would." He also said that 90% of our crop gets shipped to Washington and New York, almost none to LA.

Harrumph! Now that I'm past fifty and have lost my youthful infatuation with herb, I can get it free else grow it legally. Thankfully I have enough tomatoes and cucumbers to keep me busy, not to mention the marigolds and nasturtiums.

And thank you, Sam Rasnake, for being the first member of the Chaffin Cargo Cult Club. Soon your pin and T-shirt will arrive. Meanwhile you are honorary president of the cult unless Annette Funicello gets out of her wheelchair. What a babe she was! I've always preferred brunettes.

Preferred. Hmmmm... How about a poem that may piss off feminists? As if I care (though that's not why I wrote it). Listen to the voice of the poem. It is not that of Craig Erick, rather some haughty nobleman. It is not misogynistic but what in many cultures would be called traditional. And the speaker is not as bad a fellow as in Browning's "My Last Duchess."

His Preferences

When walking bow your shoulders back
to lift your breasts and steel your lower spine
to cinch your waist, but relax your ass,
let cheeks bob on femurs like carousel horses
and let your toes land first to swing
your strong legs forward weightlessly.

In dress I favor solids or fine prints
so not to distract from your own coloring.
Jeans are good, tight though not uncomfortable,
in blue or black; avoid white, I think it
pretentious and impractical while you are not.

When dressing or undressing in my presence,
do it self-consciously like Botticelli's Venus
who shielded her mons with hair of gold
and partly hid her breasts with the other arm.

If we should kiss while standing,
put your nipples lightly to my chest
so I can feel them stiffen, but wrap
your hips close to feel my need--
and please, try not to cry during sex.

I'm calling myself rodent neutral today.

Let's see if the sleep deprivation has a longer effect.

Thine in kilorats or kilobunnies,

C. E. Chaffin

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sonnet Sunday: "Stuntman;" A Modest Adventure

For those of you who came here to read a post about my little recent adventure, I thought better of it and withdrew the piece. I want to consult my wife and editor, Kathleen, as to whether my sociopolitical musings deserve a wider audience than Chaffin Cargo Cult members (who are also entitled to a 10% discount on this blog, which means that if you only read 90% of a day's post you are nevertheless credited with 100% on the Chaffin worship--I mean workshop meter.

Now for Sunday's sonnet:


Exchange your parachute for a medicine ball
and bare your vital organs to the sky.
Waves whiten on rocks below, so cartoon-small
you think of the Roadrunner speeding by.
A bungie strap secures your lower legs,
its far end fades into the coastal mist.
You trust the gaffers to guard against snags
then cross the edge like a somnambulist
and fall and fall-- further than Satan fell
from heaven, though he lacked a union card,
but you're insured and don't believe in hell
unless it's in the script. It isn't hard
to die so long as you are paid to die
and rise again in the director's eye.


I'm too sleep deprived to feel anything, a consequence of my brush with the motorcycle club. But underlying that patina of exhaustion lives an ache worth
1 kilorat.

Sleepily thine,


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Brief Survey on Books; Poem: Home Surgery

Sam Rasnake, editor of Blue Fifth Review, passed these inquiries on to me and burdened me with the responsiblity of tagging five others.

One book that changed your life: Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. While a psychiatric resident it was the book that synthesized everything I was learning from less direct angles. It gave me a rubric by which to navigate all psychodynamic literature.

One book that you've read more than once: I've read The Brothers Karamazov four times, I think, and I will read it again. I think it the best novel ever written; it includes all the permutations of mankind, from the lecherous Fyodor to the innocent Aloysha. Modern sensibilities too often mistake the pathos therein for bathos.

One book you'd want on a desert island: The largest dictionary available, likely the Oxford English Dictionary.

One book that made you laugh: Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving.

One book that made you cry: The Brothers Karamazov. (As a child, Black Beauty.)

One book that you wish had been written: This is getting repetitive: The Brothers Karamazov. I guess I know what I like. I've been tempted to learn Russian just to read it in the original.

One book that you wish had never been written: Das Kapital. Das Kapital gave a "scientific" justification to all the horrors of Communism.

One book you're currently reading: Selected Poems by William Carlos Williams. It's slow going because I don't really like him. He's a cut above Bukowski but their methods hardly differ.

I hereby tag the following to complete this survey as well: Twitches Cynthis Bagley dummy Jim Zola Frank Wilson


People have been saying such nice things about my work that I think I may be a poet.

Here's another poem I discovered in going through old files:

Home Surgery


Daughter, when I freed
the glass sliver from your heel
you screamed, you shook, your foot lurched—
so I gripped your ankle with all the firmness
love could muster.

Plucked from your sole, the fragment shone
like a jewel in the bathroom light,
while blood streamed, mixed with water,
into the white altar of the sink.

At the moment you hurt more
from my maneuvering,
did you doubt me?

That thought wounds my heart
more deeply than the matador
can bury his long blade.


You wouldn’t let Mom near
as you limped around the house—
I carried you up the stairs.

Your foot hung over the sink
like a fish too small to keep,
its belly pale and soft.

A ribbon of blood curled down
the porcelain like a vein.
My tweezers bit the glass.

At the moment of more pain
from my maneuvering
your blue eyes pooled in doubt

as I seized your lurching foot--
I had to remove the hook
born of a broken jar

in the harsh light to prove
the evil of that star
less cruel than that of love.

There are two views of the same incident because I couldn't decide which I liked better. You must admit it's more cheerful than "Home Burial" by Frost.

At one kilorat.

Thine in Truth and Art,

C. E. Chaffin

Friday, August 18, 2006

Flirting with Depression; Poem, "Hollows"

I said I was feeling fragile yesterday. I had a brief crying spell before I got online today. It's true Kathleen and I had a rare argument last night, but I was already slipping yesterday. So when I rose this morning, I thought about whether that incident had slightly derailed me then looked down at my sample packs of Lamictal to notice I hadn't taken them for several days. Why?

Because they are 25 mg. samples in blister pouches on thick cardboard, and I have to push really hard to get out eight, and several often fall on the floor, and it's a hassle. More importantly I have a medication dispensing box, and I remember when I filled it up earlier this week that I didn't have the oomph to push out 56 little tablets until my fingertips hurt. I told myself I’d faithfully take them out each day.

In my last dip I realized I hadn't taken Prozac for two days; this bump in the road to recovery is attributable to my screwing up my Lamictal dosage.

These are both great illustrations of the disconnect between mood and experience in bipolar disease. A bipolar II friend of mine (truth be told, my second ex-wife) couldn't help singing and dancing on the city planters in Long Beach after I told her my mother had just been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor. She couldn't help herself, she said, and being bipolar I understood. It wasn't personal.

When patients came to me complaining of intestinal symptoms, they almost always blamed the symptoms on the last thing they ate the night before, which is almost never true. In the same way, the mood-disordered wants to blame his latest shift in mood on a minor argument, a near accident, an unexpected bill, anything to get the brain itself off the hook.

Your brain in this disease is not your ally, it’s your enemy. The brain can’t handle the concept that it is diseased. The diseased brain will lie to you baldly, trying to shift the blame to anything but itself. In depression it keeps searching for a cause outside itself for the problem; in mania it persuades itself that its perception and thought processes are natural, just a little above the Bell curve. If the organ of perception is diseased you cannot trust its perceptions.

The last thing a manic-depressive should do is to trust his own brain when symptomatic; the brain will go to great lengths to convince you it’s not diseased. In depression it becomes a guilt-inducing, lying sack of shit.

Here is the most difficult part of a serious mood disorder: You must realize that your illness is primarily physiochemical. The flu will put me into a depression; antihistamines and NSAIDs have done it as well, along with blood pressure medication. If there is a psychodynamic trigger for those predisposed to depression, I agree with Andrew Solomon: humiliation is uppermost. But never mind that detail. The point is, if you have a major mood disorder ALWAYS SUSPECT A PHYSIOCHEMICAL BASIS FOR ANY CHANGE IN STATUS.

A few days ago, I sunk because I had forgotten my Prozac. Yesterday I began to sink because of missing my Lamictal. Keep it simple, stupid.

As Dr. Ghosheh used to tell me, "The disease is always going on. That's why we need to change the medications to adjust to it." He was right. I'm always deranged; somewhere underneath my poker-faced exterior is a sine wave looping up and down for the course of my life. I have been ecstatic in the worst of circumstances and suicidal in the best. Right now my circumstances are as good as they've ever been in my life.

One complicating factor is that due to the circumstances of the last two years, I also have symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Whenever you have to deal with pressing, unpredictable and dangerous circumstances for a protracted period of time, you may develop PTSD—when you’re inappropriately and always prepared for danger; you may look calm in a hammock but what they don’t know is that you're also ready if Charlie should jump out of the jungle with a draw bayonet. The adrenaline burnout of PTSD can also bring on a full-blown depression in those at risk.

Still, to be parsimonious in the analysis of my own case, the stresses of the last two years have more activated the anxiety portion of depression, which resembles PTSD, than to deserve a new diagnosis.

I've found two things and two things only that are helpful in treating severe depression (manic depressions are the most resistant to treatment):

1) Be sick. Accept your depression. Endure it because you have no choice but don't overthink it; after all, you've been there before. Your only job is to be sick and...

2) Take your medications! Take them regularly and stay in close touch with your doctor for recommended adjustments.

3) There is no three, stupid. Your job is to be sick and take your effin’ meds!

Now for today's poem, which I recently discovered in sifting through my files. It is not from Sine Wave, but if I had remembered it it might have been in the depressive portion of the ms.


I wish I were ice water
poured on your sleeping genitals
or blood dripping
from your sliced thumb
so you might notice me.

My being is in doubt
so I drape you with words
like papier mache'
that when you withdraw
I have a hollow to inhabit—
everyone is Jesus to me,
everyone who leaves
a space to occupy.

Notice how many hollows
letters contain, and the spaces
between words—a city
with a million rooms.
I could be happy there.

At 1.5 kilorats,


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Boethius and the Whole Thing

First a poem for Poetry Thursday, the next in the rising mania of Sine Wave:


I do not like thee Dr. Fell

“Is it the beard, the stainless steel stirrups,
how my stooped shoulders droop like ears?”

The reason why

dry as frost on a freezer rack
sour as a cricket’s rasp in saw grass
(winning phrase announced later)

I cannot tell

blue as a neon-blue martini sign mirrored in blue oil
face-of-a drowning-victim blue

the water, wind and waves of it
the dead hound scratching at guilt’s grave of it

but this I know

for the Bible tells me so
how the lighter fluid from a barbecue
gets into your steak until you like it that way
how the traffic shuffles you to sleep,
how the refrigerator hums you

and know full well

enough let well enough alone alone

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell

(Published and depublished in Wired Heart.)


Now go to this site and take out your frustrations on its elegant surface: Pop Me


Regarding the whole thing.

No one can see the whole thing. A very few can imagine it. No one can deal with it.

I imagine the whole thing as a great ball of dirty dough rolling and bouncing over an old dirt road through a green valley. Everything it touches sticks to it and subsequently becomes part of the revolving show, much like the wheel of fortune about which Boethius wrote in his Consolation of Philosophy. And everything that sticks to the dough can ride along for a spell or be plastered back on the road or thrown out to the fields.

I used to think that the reason I wasn't more successful in managing the whole thing was that I wasn't rich or famous enough to afford help with the whole thing.

Celebrities of every stripe have managers, maids, valets, lawyers, accountants, trainers and more, I reasoned, to manage the whole thing for them with little supervision. Thus I lived in hope of becoming a celebrity to better deal with the whole thing. But each time I approached the cusp of fame I was so worn out from the swim that I missed the boat.

When I saw Whitney Houston looking like a Holocaust survivor in the tabloids, I realized that life can become unmanageable even for celebrities! Imagine that. (I do think Whitney would be well-served to hire a new drug counselor, one not afraid to slap the bitch around!).

Let us admit that not even a celebrity with support troops can manage the whole thing. The thing is--it's just too--too too too--gigantic to approach, this nightmare of a doughball thundering through your green valley like a pale head.

Even with a personal trainer, you have to do the exercises. You have to decide what shade of white you want your teeth. Someone can shop for you, someone can dress you, but no one can sleep for you. And it's precisely in these unprotected moments than the whole thing comes to smash you and hoist you above like flattened gum on its pudgy surface.

There is no escaping the whole thing. The whole thing doesn't care if you have a personal trainer. The whole thing can make you fat if it wants to. We are talking about the very elemental forces of nature here.

All matter, including sentient beings, is subject to the whole thing. And just when you reach the top of the spinning sphere with your beautiful wife and wonderful job and a ranch style house and 1.5 children, down you go. The whole thing will cram a Mercedes down your throat and a mortgage up your ass at the worst possible moment. Children? There's leukemia. The wife? She can have an affair with your boss. If you're the boss, she can always have an affair with your secretary. The whole thing, the giant turning sphere of sticky dough that rules our lives is always there, ready to turn our existence inside out at a moment’s notice. And it has and will.

There is no protection from the whole thing. Psychiatric medications may smooth out the gut-fluttering ride but they can't protect you from being stuck in the dough and whirled about.

Occasionally the whole thing will drop you on the road and you feel a strange relief in getting off the roller coaster and not being lost in the fields. Trust me, this won't last: this is the whole thing psyching you into a lack of caution before it swallows you up again.

There is no escape from the whole thing.

As for mood I'm about 1 kilorat today. I'm still feeling fragile, as if the medications were just barely suspending me from falling into the abyss.



Wednesday, August 16, 2006

From Boards to Blogs; Need Your Help with a Poem

It seems to me that earlier on the net workshop boards or participatory listservs were the favored method of rubbing shoulders with other poets. I don't know how the boards are doing now; there are likely many poets entering the porthole of Net poetry through their auspices. Still, I think I've witnessed a migration of poets from boards to blogs. I am one who came late to the idea, but here I am. To where the next migration will be, I don't know; the direction I'd prefer is that quality e-zines became a coveted credit not only on the Internet but in the dead tree world as well.

I got a head's up on this today. I had called Ygdrasil an "e-zine" in a letter to its editor, Klaus Gerken, and he corrected me, calling it a "journal." That distinction is important for him because he feels "e-zine" is too dismissive a moniker for good electronic journals. His attitude is admirable.

Even more than self-respect we need critics. Until we have a healthy amount of astute literary criticism on and about the Net, we will not have the kind of baptism needed to validate our worth to the print world. Rob Mackenzie and Ron Silliman are two bloggers who are also good critics of poetry, but neither is attached directly to a journal to my knowledge.

In between considerable househusband duties, I finished my preliminary organization of the majority of all poems I think worth preserving. Sorting out all the different versions over the years was tedious, but my goal is to have only one version of each poem when I'm done, while having deleted all poems I don't think worth preserving.

Here's a poem with alternate endings. I need your advice on which one to leave in the poem. You don't have to be a writer to give me your opinion!

At the Lincoln Memorial

"If I could save the Union by freeing the slaves, I would;
If I could save the Union by not freeing the slaves, I would.”

Up three tiers of steps--
your mammoth shoe at eye level.
Gargantuan hands rest easy now.
Folds of robes flow from your throne
in static waterfall, a Greek convention
in American marble.

Your face looks younger
than the face from books--
the brochure explains
the sculptor used your death mask.

Your eyes, so often scored by laughter
now stare grimly across the reflecting pool
at that less human monument
of Washington, your father:
He the machine, you the Christ
embalmed in stone under cool portico,
resurrected in cold recall.

First ending:

Ah, Honest Abe, tell us a joke
to humanize your face!
The one about Grant
and the whiskey would do.
I envy the sculptor who made you—
How good to carve a homely man
made beautiful by suffering.

Second ending:

Ah, Honest Abe, tell us a joke
to humanize your face!
The one about Grant
and the whiskey would do.
You would likely laugh
at your marmoreal apotheosis;
besides, it seems unfair
when, after black humor,
justice was your strong suit.

(Published in one version in the Adirondack Review and the Susquhenna Quarterly. The archive for Adirondack is not available and the Susquehanna Quarterly I couldn't find in the first 50 references on Google. Could this mean two more depublications?)

How will the LitNet garner any respect when journals don't maintain archives?

I know you'll all weigh in with your wisdom on the poem.

At 0.5 kilorats,


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bush as a rodeo clown; tips on editing poetry.

First, political poetry is difficult to write and I think Twitches truly succeeded here: Twitches


I've been sorting poetry files on my computer. Looks like a long job, especially when you have many versions of the same poem spread across a plethora of folders. Then there is the added nuisance of little revisions I sometimes feel impelled to make along the way. The real fun is when I delete a poem forever, the equivalent of throwing it into a fire--a poem that was published. Then I know it was good enough for the editor but not for me. I take a certain pleasure in that.

In this enterprise some things occurred to me that may prove helpful to others in the editing process. Here goes:

1) Always suspect the ending. You may have to strike one or more lines. Watch out for dilution, for over-explication.

2) Suspect the first stanza. Often the first stanza is like starter fluid; it’s only there to get the car started, it’s not really part of the car.

3) Transitions from the first to second and from the penultimate to the ultimate stanzas are frequently muddled. Make sure the substance is clear.

4) The title can almost always be improved. Taking a phrase from the emotional climax of the poem is reliable and works well. To make the title a comment on the poem is also good. To make the poem dependent on the title for its full meaning is very good if you sin neither in obviousness or obscurity.

5) Unless you have a very good editor, time is your most valuable ally. Give a bad poem five months in the drawer and when you take it out again you’ll most likely put it out of its misery. With truly inspired poems it’s tempting to go off trying to get the perfect draft the first night, but that way lies madness and robs a poem of its juice, which is hard to recoup. Remember: with each revision you lose a little more juice. Beware an over-reified poem; it is the mark of too many revisions. Such a poem reads unnaturally, perhaps even stilted; it has been sucked dry. (This made me think of Auden for some reason.) ;-)


Hiking, fishing, writing, gardening in the redwoods, though chronically limited by my back status, I should be ecstatic. I've never had it so good! This is why I know my illness is an illness as real as diabetes. My circumstances rarely have anything to do with my mood.

Those new to this disease will drive themselves crazy trying to figure out what they did or was done to them that it should result in insomnia, anxiety, tearfulness and self-abhorrence. That's a vain search. That's the lie of the rational brain that can't imagine being the cause of its own discomfort.

At 1 kilorat and not really sure on my feet,

Dr. Chaffin

Monday, August 14, 2006

"Look on My Works'": Portrait of the artist by his wife

Is Blogging a Sham?

My blogger hero has posted nothing new for two weeks, in direct opposition to the advice he gave me, namely to blog every day. He also told me that the best way to increase my traffic was to back-link to those who posted on my blog and add them to my own links, afterwards posting a clever message at their site to lure others to my lair—I mean blog. He also showed me how to put up links Someone else turned me on to a stats tracker, which I needed to monitor traffic.

I followed the plan, but now I think blogging is a bit of a pyramid scheme.

Search engines deliver 25% of my traffic; the other 75% is directly from other websites, chiefly blogs from which the blogger visits me to improve her traffic as I visit them to improve mine.

In checking the websites that referred the most traffic to me, I found that traffic, based on daily referrals, most likely consisted of the blogger herself, because the number of referred visits is not too far behind the number of days she's been linked to me.

I conclude that blogging, like poetry, is sustained mainly by its participants, who pass for real traffic while indulging in electronic back-scratching.

Yet in the art and film worlds, doesn't this also obtain?

Perhaps I'm just curmudgeonly because it's late and I shall sleep after this post.

I'd like to hear some bloggers' comments about the pyramid nature of the blogosphere.

At 1.5 kilorats,

Dr. Chaffin

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ygdrasil Publishes "The Deprivathon"

I found a home for "The Deprivathon," my over 300-line poem about quitting smoking. I wrote the rough draft in 2000, I believe, so it's taken about six years to muscle that white elephant in to publishable shape. And I did a bad thing, something you should never do as a poet, just like you should never play in public with new strings as a guitarist: I sent Klaus Gerken, the generous editor, some last minute revisions and weakened the poem. I won't tell you where or it might spoil the experience of reading it in Ygdrasil Ygdrasil is unbelievable, a zine that has been around since 1993. And it's format has never changed; like Jack Kerouac's famous On the Road, the magazine always appears as a continuous typewritten page. I hadn't sent them anything since 1998. That behavior comes from my trophy hunting days. To what do I refer?

When I first came out of my year-long depression of 1996, I began publishing on the net with good success. I sought to publish in as many e-zines as possible. Trouble was, once I published in one I forgot about it and put it in the trophy case. After publishing hundreds of pieces I finally slowed down and began submitting much less. That also had to do with a relative lack of stability in my personal life.

I should have spent the time submitting to eminent print journals. I didn't for the simple reason of e-mail. I'm as lazy as the next guy. Why do bears raid trash cans? Because it's easier than hunting and gathering. Nature never passes up a chance to be lazy, why should I?

As I said in an earlier post, I am not in remission from depression. I am much improved but I feel fragile. The freedom depression gives one, the new start, has not been a pony ride so far. I feel light and dark at the same time, the Tootsie Pop image recurs, or an Oreo, or a clean engine with dirty oil inside, you get the picture. I feel the medications holding me back like a needed harness; how I wish I could jump over the pit to real freedom!

Remaining symptoms? I love Kathleen intellectually and by faith but I feel disconnected from the warm, fuzzy feelings I usually have for her. I see that she's beautiful; I see that she loves me like no one else has; I see she is the best mate I could hope for; yet she and I both sense a lingering barrier between us, and we know it's on my side. In that she suffers depression as well, she understands even if she doesn't like it. Other symptoms include a plethora of self-castigating thoughts and a melancholy remainder that asks, "What's it all about?" (apologies to Peggy Lee and Alfie).

Going through a depression strips you of everything, all attachments, all likes and loves. On the other side, once released, you have the freedom to dump anything from your life with essentially no regret.

It irks me that I have a love-hate relationship with poetry. I enjoy composing it more than reading it, though I read much more than I write. A good poem can make me praise God, but a mediocre one, especially in a prestigous journal, sets my teeth on edge.

It takes a lot to read good poetry, it takes a concentrated mind and an open heart. I'm rarely in that state of mind. I'm used to disappoinment in poetry, mainly from reading my recognized contemporaries. Last night I was reading William Carlos Williams, Eliot's contemporary and opposite. I gave him an even break and tried to enjoy his work. (Did you know he published his first book of poetry in 1914, before Eliot did?)

Maybe the reason I love poetry is that it is the only thing that forces me to be economical with speech.


Behaviorally, I must put my self-image into reinforcement mode. If someone now asks me, "What do you do?" I'll reply, "I'm a poet," and roll with the punches. I can always chicken out and shade my reply: "I dabble in literature. I've had a few things published. Poetry is sort of a hobby." And due to the fact that my depression is not in full remission, I will waver between the two approaches, which will add uncertainty to my self-view.

Oh shut up, Craig! Enough already. You know it's all chemical.

But something has to be my fault.

Thanks to Norm for speaking well of my music. Anyone who wants a free disk need only write me with their snail mail address.

Enough for a Sunday already...

I have the distinct feeling that if I should ever re-read my blog, I will be sorely embarrassed about the degree of narcissism on display. Think of me as a work in progress and my blog the necessary exhaust vapors from my self-manufacturing.

At 1.5 kilorats,


Saturday, August 12, 2006

What's Wrong with this Poem?

The next poem in the ascending mania of Sine Wave:

(There's something wrong with it that I discover below.)

Christ’s Lighthouse

There is a pillar of light
stuck in the rocks like Excalibur
above a harbor of heavy water—
heavy with suffering—a hushed place
where waves swallow their spray
to dampen the mists
that so easily obstruct your view.

I used to lose sight of it, thinking
the ocean’s furious slam dance the thing,
me roped to the mast
through the cold salt walls of death;
or ships would block it,
horns and radios distract me
until only a slip of light in the marbled sky
recalled the jeweled foghorn,
a dog whistle for the deaf.

Do I dare now? Do I dare say
I see it always, through sand storms
and cell bars and self-revulsion
as if the great stone of the world
were rolled away? What terrible
temptations do I then tempt?
What unexpected holy thing might then
morph into evil, baiting my inner eye
with self-congratulation, me a blind man
beating his dog with a white stick?

(published in Mindfire)

Ir wasn't until I got a fresh, clean look at this poem that I noticed what had always been wrong with it. All I have to do to make it worthy is eliminate the entire first stanza and let the title work harder. Observe:

Christ's Lighthouse

I used to lose sight of it, thinking
the ocean’s furious slam dance the thing,
me roped to the mast
through the cold salt walls of death;
or ships would block it,
horns and radios distract me
until only a slip of light in the marbled sky
recalled the jeweled foghorn
like a dog whistle for the deaf.

Do I dare now? Do I dare say
I see it always, through sand storms
and cell bars and self-revulsion
as if the great stone of the world
were rolled away? What terrible
temptations do I then tempt?
What unexpected holy thing might then
morph into evil, baiting my inner eye
with self-congratulation, me a blind man
beating his dog with a white stick?

Tell me it isn't a better poem now.

It's always the same process for me: over a number of years I finally discover the poem within the poem. We really must jettison every irrelevant word in a poetic narrative and choose the right details to convey the spirit of the poem. There is only one method I know to produce such quality: revisions separated by long periods of time, often years. I think my first draft of this poem was in early 2002. Four years it took me to see I didn't need the first stanza. Why? Because my mind wasn't elastic enough to think of jettisoning a whole stanza. One can be much more dispassionate about the editing process in proportion to how old the poem is. If the poem has arrived, all your new revisions will only weaken it. If it hasn't arrived, your revisions (DELETIONS MAINLY!) will pare it down to the essentials and make it a better poem, a poem "with good bones" as my dear wife likes to say.

Here's a brief abstract of the poem for those not used to what poets inflict on the reader:


Here the speaker strives to imagine his connection to God as unassailable while doubting himself at the same time, so he ends up punishing himself for the presumption of his own faith--a blind man beating his dog with a stick. He is the blind man and the dog for fear of owning his faith in his faith. Looking back on this poem, it more resembles a mixed state than mania, as the energy is essentially negative.

Holding at 0.5 kilorats,


Friday, August 11, 2006

You Want It? Explanation of Kilorats and Kilobunnies

OK, people, one in particular, keep pestering me because they don't understand the mood scale that you and I have discovered on our travels together. But for the sake of the uninitiated, here is the full scale, and remember that the scale is linear, although properly at the extremes it ought to be more logarithmic. Rats or rabbits, that's the question.

Normal mood = 0, or rodent neutral.

Kilobunnies measure relative mania.

Kilorats measure relative depression.

Kilobunnies +10 down to +1.

+10) You are Jesus and you had it all planned that the police would put you in handcuffs and strap you face down on a hospital gurney, here comes the shot of Haldol. But you're in total control, it's all part of the plan, even your royal humiliation. (You're madder than a March hare on hashish!)

+9) You suspect you're Jesus. You use your secret powers secretly up to the appointed time. Hawks follow you and perch on the lamp post above the driveway at all hours. You carve your hedge into an oriental dragon. You cash out your retirement to start a sure-fire business you know nothing about. You sleep less than four hours a night.


+2) Begins two projects at once. Needs one less hour of sleep. Driving a little faster on the freeways.

+1) More talkative than usual.

Kilobunnies (+)

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$**rodent neutral**$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Kilorats (-)

-1) Don't really feel like going to work today. Everything looks kind of gray. Feel better after you start working.

-2) Sleep disturbance. Fitful dreams. Decrease in energy. Less time spent out, more at home.


-9) Responding to the questions of the man playing doctor is so much work, so much work to open my mouth. I will curl here, on the floor, to shield my body from the critical faces that look down on me with scorn, and deservedly so. They are far too easy on me. I should be executed. That would be just.

-10) Catatonia or complete withdrawal from the world into one's impersonal personal black hole; in rare cases waxy flexibility may occur where one can move a patient's limbs about like a mannekin.

This scale was derived from an astute analysis by Dr. Chaffin of the Petaluma Rat Man's case, one Roger Dier. If you're listening, Roger, we love you!


Now for today's selection, a poem at about 5-7? kilobunnies (it's hard for me to measure my work).

It (II)

Does it blister your eyes to read it?

Does it sink like a dental filling into your marrow,
touched by a spray of cold air?

Would you trade it for enlightenment? For gold?

Will it sing you to sleep like your mother did,
who was too shy to sing with the lights on?

Would you love it if it didn’t look like you,
if it had gills and fur?

Is it better than drugs, would you snort, inject,
rub it into the capillaries of your lip?

Would you recognize its sound,
whether a night bird screaming in the jungle

or the distant, ironic chill of a train whistle
beside the Iowa silos bent like toothpaste tubes

above the too-green, knee-high cornfields
while Judy Garland waves good-bye?

You want it? Go get it.


I don't know what this poem means, but I know where it's taking me--toward Sehnsucht, a heartache for Kansas, that Romantic longing for perfection associated with the bliss of early childhood--your one true love, the shiny bicycle of your dreams that arrived on Christmas, your ultimate hope, salvation, whatever calls you on toward that which cannot be achieved in this world except by the imagination.


Still at 0.5 kilorats.

"Better than Roger, at least,"
I can say with intimate irony.

Chasing the blues away,


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Poetry Thursday: "County Fair" by KLMC

We're going to the county fair today to see the Lippizzaner Stallions perform. Kathleen is a great horse fancier.

You saw my carnival poem; below a poem by Kathleen about a county fair back in New York:

County Fair

This is no country for old men--
nor for an old woman with dusty feet
slumped in the illusory shade of the beer tent.
Only the young move harmless
through this blaring heat,
a tawdry hell of lights and screams;
lowing of dumb animals;
stench of dung and frying dough.

Survivor in my own bleak afterlife,
I rub my head and think of brittle
vertebrae and shearing steel,
then see you looming through the haze,
giant with a gentle face, come to lift
my heart above the summer twilight
that I might feast among the stars
and have you lick them from my tongue.

--Kathleen M. Chaffin

Since Kathleen became disenchanted with the litternet she doesn't write anymore. And who can blame her?

I can. because it's a terrible waste of talent, so any so inclined should write her at to encourage her to compose before she decomposes.

She could write about her new slave job at Safeway--all the politics of white trash trying to emulate the cookie-cutter corporate vision.

I think one of the first if not the first poem I published on the Internet was about being a dishwasher, another slave job. You want to see it? Hell, it's Poetry Thursday, why not?!

That Dishwasher Smell

I opened my dishwasher and smelled
the sterile-sweet smell of superheated detergent
and plastic made aromatic by high temperatures
that makes me hand-rinse my glasses before I drink
and takes me back to washing dishes
at a Mexican restaurant for $1.10 an hour,
where I scraped burned beans three inches thick
from the bottom of huge, two-handled pots.
The beans, red-skinned, white-pulped,
smelled like wet cardboard and burnt toast
when I dipped my hands in their pebbly mush
like the bowl of guts you feel on Halloween.

When I moved up to sprayer
I had to sort bus trays that reeked
of blue cheese and cigarette butts
and whiskey and wet napkins,
grease and Maraschino cherries--
almost as bad as the dishwasher smell.
I teased their garbage out
before I doused the dishes
with my high pressure nozzle,
then stacked them in the rack
that slid into the huge stainless box
where they were purified by the smell
of superheated detergent and hot rubber again.

After the last dish dried I'd mop the dregs
down the sloping concrete floor to the central drain
where lettuce scraps, fish bones,
white grease and hairs collected,
then I'd scoop it out by hand and replace the grate.
For all the garbage I handled,
it was the dishwasher smell
I could never get out of my hands,
ground in like rodeo dirt.

(published in Real Poetik)

0.5 kilorats and holding,

Thine in Truth and Art,


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Bloviator Returneth

I was struck today by a word that has suddenly entered the vocabulary of the working class. "Issues" has apparently replaced "problems" in NorCalSpeak.

When my laptop got disconnected from the coffee house's wireless service this morning, the manager went to fix it and said, "Tell me after you try it again if you still have any issues."

To my ear an issue is a chronic problem and a problem a more temporary difficulty. To make issues out of problems makes things worse, I think, as we have enough problems already without issues.

As an counter-example to this new usage, I miss a word that has left the common vocabulary, Weltanschauung, German for world view or life philosophy--it doesn't translate well, probably the reason some of us liked to use it, the same for SchadenFreude. Maybe people got tired of spelling German, just like I can never get Nietzsche right.

For another example of increased usage, take the word, "bloviation." Five years ago it was in the dictionary and no one was using it. I wrote two columns on the word, published over four years ago (I lack an exact date). Within six months to a year after my columns it began to appear in the work of syndicated columnists. Could I have possibly been the one that set that development in motion, or is that just a messianic delusion? Most likely the columnists subscribed to the same vocabulary listserv as I. But I'd never seen the word in print before I used it.

Now if you hear the words "gart" (garlic fart) or "schmegg" (messy mess, the detritus of abandoned activities, like breakfast plates dripping syrup all over the counter), my family and I can take credit for them. There's also "houchy," which means you're so hungry you're grouchy. And if kilorats and kilobunnies catch on, you know whom to credit (or blame).

Strange how new phrases insinuate themselves into the language, even when they are senseless, like "orientate" or "up to this point in time," or "basically" (but I think 'basically' already peaked.)

Language is infectious. It spreads like a virus. It may be true that my employment of 'bloviation' as a subject for two columns and my usage of it in everyday speech had a ripple effect, though this is unlikely, as the Devil wants to make sure I don't get credit for anything.

I like to say that the greatest achievement of a poet or writer is to enter the language:

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons."

"What beast slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

"a red wheelbarrow"

"Home is the place that when you have to go there, they have to take you in.?"

"crossing of the bar"

"Candy is dandy
but liquor is quicker"

"Lend me your ears"

"the Undertoad"

(I could go on for pages and I would if I hadn't learned to curb my bloviations just a tad. When your wife is a lip-reader it impairs your ability to bloviate.)

All these snippets, now clichés, were once exotically fresh. But like "walking on eggshells," tropes enter the language because they are the most evocative and economic way of transmitting complex information. Today's breakthrough is tomorrow's cliché. Sometimes avoiding cliche's in a poem is like stepping through a minefield.

I can support most colorful additions to speech. Just today I told my wife that "I had to piss like a race horse." I used that one for years before I discovered that before races, horses get a powerful diuretic to prevent fluid build-up in their lungs.

Some colloquialisms eat at me. I think the one responsible for 70s smiley faces and "have a nice day" should be drawn and quartered.

First, I don't want a 'nice' day, I want a good day. And what the hell does a stranger care about my having a nice day? Pretensions to intimacy abound, possibly because modern living affords so little intimacy, save the superficial kind when you exchange life stories with a stranger on a long flight.

My bank has propaganda phrases wired into its employees' brains. They answer the phone with "Thanks for choosing B of A, my name is Darla, how may I provide you with excellent service today?"

Honey, I haven't seen excellent service anywhere in a long time unless you drop $100 for a dinner for two at a nice restaurant. Even then there's no guarantee.

(BTW, never ask 'Why?' of an institution. You will only be transferred to a different phone menu.)

After all this dancing around my central theme, bloviation, here's an excerpt from my first column on the matter, since de-published:

First, may I say I am honored to write this column, indeed, more than honored, I am extremely privileged, nay, positively exhilarated by the opportunity afforded me by my gracious editor, whose support I more than appreciate, in fact, may I say I am greatly indebted to him both as a writer and human being for the chance to display my meandering exhalations online. It goes without saying that without publication I would be writing nothing, nor would you be reading this elegant distillation of vapors, this monumental Aeolian blunderbuss of opinion that some mistake for meaningless logorrhea at their peril.

Further, to state the obvious, my meaning is obvious, though the obvious is not always the apparent. My statements must be understood in context, not subject to subjectivity in the miscalculation of my intent, which is not to mystify but de-mystify the process of communication by employing all means at my disposal, including Aristotle’s. I guarantee that nothing I say in this column is without merit, and if you but read between the lines I shall be exculpated from any accusation that maintains the obverse. And though my peregrinating perorations may try your patience, they shall not convict it, rather extend it to the next paragraph, where I continue this argument.

I will not give quarter or dime to those who disagree with my position; I have made my position abundantly clear, and any re-positioning on behalf of my central thesis will be avoided in the interest of unity. For what is an argument without unity? And what is unity without purpose? And what is purpose without intent? And what is intent without pre-meditation? And what is pre-meditation without calculation? And what is calculation but the supreme evidence of forethought as confirmed by my ongoing diatribe? I am not dithering in dithyrambic here, nor circumambulating the issue at hand, which is very near, in fact propinquitous and proximal to my primary consideration. Thus I think my opinion deserves equal consideration regardless of race, creed, color, party affiliation or preferment of style.

The plague of style without substance is upon us, and I aim to fight back like a man, true Homo Sapien, a seasoned veteran of vocalic divination, proclamation, extrapolation and salutation. Furthermore, I challenge anyone to dispute the fact that everything I have said thus far has gone no further than it ought, that I have not exaggerated my thesis for the sake of self-aggrandizement, nor should my flow of thought be interrupted by any unfounded, nugatory and unfledged calumnies that may rain upon my head in a storm of disputation, and any disappointment or dissatisfaction with my primary point, which, as I said before and repeat again ad nauseum, ad infinitum and non-adversarially, is pointless.

Have a Nice Day :-)!


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On the Eve of the Day of the Dead

Here's the next in Sine Wave, after "At the Carnival":

On the Eve of the Mexican Day of the Dead

I did a line of coke this morning and felt strange,
like a glass puppet moving through glass.
Light stung; shadows were razor-sharp dark.
Children’s laughter separated into strands
as they exited school in blue uniforms
carrying orange marigolds home to their dead.

Later I wrote elegant critiques,
my brain on automatic like a computerized monorail.
I didn't have to think while I was thinking,
my fingers typed with their own intelligence,
my commentaries were crystalline.

Is this what death feels like?
Moving without thought like a glass puppet through glass?

Back home in a frozen panic of calm
I begged my wife to make love.
Though I entered her deeply
I could not incarnate myself.
I was clear yet clearly disconnected.

Is this what death feels like?
Well, is it? Is it?

(published in Plum Ruby Review)

This poem contains one of my all-time favorite metaphors: a glass puppet moving through glass. The whole poem was based on that phrase, along with a boost from Yeats' "The Long-Legged Fly." Here the imagined speaker experiences a negative epiphany, though perhaps the poem is unfair to use drugs as a prop for his altered state.


Clinically bipolars are much more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs when they are hypomanic or manic. When you are invulnerable nothing can harm you. In my deepest depressions I've quit smoking and quit drinking without trying, as they were too much effort for no payoff. When the brain changes gears, so does its appetite for exogenous entertainment by means of chemicals.

In 1995 when I was manic not even a six-pack of ale could slow me. The manic brain is very resistant to drugs, as the brain is manufacturing much more powerful drugs than can be had on the street. Some studies aver that one's lithium level drops in mania even while maintaining the same dosage.


Yesterday's post gives me an idea: Why not write 500 words on every poet I've read enough of to have an opinion on what I've read? Thumbnail Critiques. If my mood holds, it's exactly the sort of thing I'd like to do. And Mia of Tryst might have a use for them. I noticed Kristy Bowen and Michii are both in the issue. Congrats! about Keats?

Holding at 0.5 kilorats,



Monday, August 07, 2006

500 words on Billy Collins

How can you not like Billy Collins? He’s the Mr. Rogers of American poetry.

How can you not like Billy Collins? He’s to poetry what Seinfeld is to comedy. Making a big deal about small things is a gift, and it sells—just like Erma Bombeck and Garrison Keillor.

If you wrote like Billy Collins you’d be popular, too.

And how can you fault his popularity? He writes lucidly about people and things that most of us encounter: cereal, cows, pencils, books, doors, wood. The much posited “average reader” can read him as well as the literati. Billy's persona is humble and likeable. Though most of his poems are written in the first person he is no narcissist. In his nimble hands his experiences become our experiences. He has mastered the everyman voice. And that is a great feat in itself.

Formally there is much to praise in his work. His poems have a natural cadence, loosely based on trimeter and tetrameter (which alternate strictly in common verse). His line breaks are nearly perfect, rarely forcing an unnatural enjambment; his punctuation is excellent as well. Whatever else you may think of him, Collins is a damn good craftsman.

So why do I get the nagging feeling among some poets that he’s already passé’? Some I’ve spoken with agree that Collins will likely not be remembered as a major American poet because he lacks depth. He makes it look too easy. To that I say, “Do you know how hard it is to make it look easy?” And no one has better elevated the quotidian into the sublime.

Collins is a poet who writes about small epiphanies in everyday things, and unlike many poets, he does his best to include the reader, as when he speaks to us in “A Portrait of the Reader with a Bowl of Cereal.” (Picnic, Lightening, 1998).

Collins is not your man if you want a memorable quote or a life-sustaining philosophy; he is your man if you want to make peace with the immediate universe.

The two commonest criticisms of Collins is that he’s either trivial or simplistic. He is neither. He’s a magician of common things, making common things uncommon, much like Frost did. In this, besides also being a good craftsman, he is the heir to Frost. And as for simplistic, didn’t Frost endure the same criticism?

On the back page of Picnic, Lightening is a photo of Billy. He has sad Irish eyes and though he's trying to appear neutral, I see the line of his mouth curl up at the edges as if he were incubating a grin. I'd like to think he is, as he is one of the most cheerful poets I've encountered. His macrocosmic view of the microcosm reminds me of Zymborska.

My favorite poem in Picnic, Lightning (the volume I’m reading now) is “Splitting Wood,” a choice no doubt strongly influenced by the fact that I love splitting wood. Here’s an excerpt:

“And rarely, if the wood
accepts the blade without conditions
the two pieces keep their balance

in spite of the blow,
remain stunned on the block
as if they cannot believe their division,

their sudden separateness.”

I’ve had this happen and it is truly an epiphany of log splitting.


I admit we had fun satirizing Collins in this issue of the Melic Review.

0.5 kilorats today. I still feel as if my body is getting lighter but there is a dark cave in my chest. It’s not a mixed state, it’s a state of recovery. When my depression is truly in remission, my chest won’t feel hollow any more. But even when I am whole I will remain wounded, the human paradox.

And I bet you all thought I was going to skewer Collins!

Thine as always,

C. E. Chaffin

Mania and Messianic Delusions

My posting of Sine Wave has been thoroughly interrupted by a number of things. Below, the next poem in the progression to mania:

At the Carnival

We ride the Swinger, hang by chains
high above the asphalt and circle
an electric maypole. I close my eyes,
lean back, go intentionally limp
and let my long frame hang
like middle-aged spaghetti beneath
the pirate moon. The air is cool, I am
a fat bird in a chair. I open my eyes,
flap wings, stick out my dodo legs
and yell, “I’m Jesus!” And pigs shall fly!
But who else sees the strands of kairos
through light from funhouse mirrors?

Three corndogs later we board
the Tilt-A-Whirl, our sail a shell of glittering,
metal-flake-pink. We orbit the vortex
of our little track, our feet sucked centerward.
Thrown against our moving wall, Sarah chants
“redrum, redrum,” while I laugh. She hasn’t seen
The Shining but does the voice so well!

There is a red room full of men and bulls
and one man meant to put an end to it.
It’s said his blood stains everything except the stars
which bleed their light so profligately
still barely dent the darkness.

We come to a stop pendulum-fashion;
the carnie steadies our decline by hand
as Hendrix sings, “Are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?”
I sing, “Well, I ha——ave.”
The carnie smiles.

(published in Absinthe)

A carnival is a great setting for attempting to portray the mindset of hypomania. Notice that the speaker experiences intrusively cosmic spiritual thoughts, pre-Messianic if you will. Because he's not yet manic, he doesn't believe he's the chosen one, though he's making noises in that direction. One old friend, familiar with my disease, nicknamed me "The Kentucky Fried Christ." Sarah, now 17, must have been about seven when I wrote this


My last post was unashamedly religious, describing my testy understanding of my faith. Nothing like relgion and politics to stir things up. I wanted to add something to the discussion. I believe Christianity is best communicated interpersonally, not with giant revivals and crusades. If Jesus was about anything, it was about the unique needs of each person, something that Dr. Paul Tournier wrote about eloquently in his The Meaning of Persons.

People often wonder why Christ was so unpredictable, how he appeared to act differently toward each person he encountered, from the woman at the well he forgave to the Pharisees he cursed in public. The answer is simple. He changed as the person changed in order to pierce the veil of defenses. And he always knew what to say to cut to the heart of the matter in regard to spiritual impediments. Recall the rich young ruler of whom he asked all his worldly possessions. The man went away saddened but couldn't give up his wealth. It's as if Christ had a neural probe to locate the one thing, the one attachment that crippled whomever sought him. Such defects were more important to him than physical healing, the demand for which literally wore him out. Heal someone physically and they still die; heal someone spiritually and they live forever.

Thine at 0.5 Kilorats,


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Christian Existentialist Creed; The Fifteen Minute Sonnet

I post the next poem for LKD, who has had struggles with faith as I have. It may be minimalist, but for me it's true, a sort of Christian Existentialist Desideratum.


I believe in God the computer
who programs the universe
or at least keeps the trains running
and in Jesus the archetypal man
who was doomed to suffer
but prayed to get out of it
just like I would.

And I believe in God the Spirit
when my hopes are crushed
and an old friend calls out of the blue
and I believe in the forgiveness of sins
because punishment only makes them worse
and I believe in life everlasting
because its alternative, non-being,
I find inconceivable.

Maybe my creed isn't what they teach in catechism, but it's where repeated bouts of chemically-induced suicidal despair have brought me. I frankly admit that I have problems with the second person of the Trinitiy. If I read Paul right, however, we no longer know Christ "after the flesh." He's become the universal Christ through the Holy Spirit. Ever since the resurrection it's supposed to be all about the Holy Spirit--how, by yielding to the Spirit we come to incarnate a portion of divinity. Ultimately that means loving your neighbor because it's your nature, not as a moral exercise.


Rob Mackenzie noticed that I had lamented that poets didn't know the craft anymore and that few could write a sonnet in 15 minutes. He took the challenge and produced one in 20. I produced the one below in ten. Go to Rob's site to play, or follow him to Poetry Free for All where a thread erupted.

Is a ten-minute sonnet like a two-minute egg?

Tectonic Illusions

Arches and blowholes—-it is not the land
That’s being eaten here but sea. Bedrock
Is rising here, a great hand-over-hand
Extending northwest or roughly ten o’clock.
The bedrock’s hard to carve but harder still
For the pacific plate to buckle under,
Submitting to the North American will.
(It’s lucky our state isn’t torn asunder.)
Yet when you look out at all the dark islands
With their tunnels, arches, and mysterious caves
You’d think the flowering meadow of the highlands
Was being assaulted as the sea enslaves.
Things are not always as they appear.
The land is dining on the sea—how queer!

I was at 1 kilorat yesterday. Don't know why. I guess I'm still recovering. The outer personality of my Tootsie Pop looks fine but its center is still dark.

The Melic Poetry Tutorial is open for new students, see the link in my blog's list of links. References on request.



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