Sunday, April 29, 2007

Spring Bloom and Kenyon's Deterioration

Seaside Daisy

My mind is surprisingly blank this morning. It's another beautiful day; the weather of late has been sunny and cool, what we expect of the coast. The wildflowers have not yet peaked but cow parsnip is already blooming in its delicate parasols wide as a hand. Scotch broom lines the roadsides; the daffodils are over but wild irises still bloom, along with calla lilies. The wild rhododendron, rhododendron macrophyllum, is blooming beneath the redwoods as well. There are over 10,000 cultivars or subspecies of rhododendron, but this variety is our natural one. Thrift and ice plant color the headlands, with blue-eyed grass and seaside daisies. The yellow mats of first-steps-to-spring have faded. Golden poppies are everywhere. Blue blossom bushes have peaked but it seems the gorse never stops blooming. I could go on and on, just as the wildflowers do here, as our spring color has yet to crescendo.

Kathleen cries about our old dog, Kenyon, nearly every day. Last night she wept about him. "It's not long," she said. He shows symptoms of diabetes now, has cataracts and can barely hear. A neighbor joked with Kathleen: "Now Kenyon needs a hearing-ear dog." What's amazing is that when we take him to Big River Beach, he can still see the plastic bottle thrown on the water and swims like a champion to fetch it. It's in swimming he looks most like himself. When he comes home, however, he lies immobile for hours. He no longer makes it up the stairs at night to sleep near Kathleen. Sometimes when she comes home he doesn't even get up. He has good and bad days. I don't think he's suffering much; his hips hurt when he rises, and his left front leg has bothered him for over a year; he's licked it until the fur has turned from gold to red. His appetite is still good, although one expects that in diabetes. Given his overall condition, we don't think it's important to undertake the treatment of his presumed diabetes as long as he can eat and drink and eliminate and exercise.

The grief Kathleen feels at Kenyon's slow demise is like any grief at the deterioration of a loved one. What she sees and what she remembers of him are disparate, making the grief palpable while he is still with us. I feel a similar phenomenon, though by no means tragic, when I look at my grown children and think of them as little girls, mourning the children I lost. But they are not deteriorating before my eyes as Kenyon is.

I said to Kathleen: "Why must the ones we love linger? Why can't they all simply die in the prime of life?" Alas, nature is not that efficient. Yet our capacity to remember those we love as they were helps sustain us when they no longer resemble themselves except in outward form.

As for poetry, I have none. I feel there is none in me. I also feel there is a glass ceiling I will never break through; I won't break into Poetry or The Paris Review or The Kenyon Review or The We Look Down Our Nose at You, You Poor Slob! Review. I think I need to take up something else in earnest.

I performed music at a wine-tasting party the other night and was well received. I enjoy prose and would like to write more fiction. The best fiction can be as magical as poetry.

What fascinates me about poetry is its magic, and I feel no magic--indeed, in reading others see little magic as well. It seems the entire literary world is being swallowed up by "creative non-fiction." Since life is a fiction, this seems silly to me. It is a specious division at best. Fiction better represents our spiritual and emotional lives, I think, than fact. Now they are becoming so intermixed is seems not to matter.

I'll save my wandering through a herd of wild Roosevelt Elk on the Lost Coast for another post.



Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Plantwatching vs. Birdwatching and Jane Hirschfield's "After"

I'm sitting here after a day of my brother-in-law's birdwatching while I plantwatched. He saw a Hutton's Vireo today. I saw Thrift and Blue-eyed Grass. In our parallel pursuits I praised him for his level of difficulty. Birds move but plant's don't. Richard has to wait on birds but plants wait on me.

I have often thought I may like plants better than animals or humans. (I suppose man's inplantimity to man has spurred me to it.) And animals you can groom, but you just can't prune. You can have a bigger impact on a plant's life than anything else I know. Feed it, prune it, shape it, make a topiary of it, hybridize, create a new cultivar with your name on a subspecies's tag--I mean, it would take much longer for me to breed a "Craig's Hound" than graft a fruting branch on a rootstock. And thinking of my doctoring years, I can't tell you how much easier plants are than patients. Plants can't disobey your orders.

I've been reading through Jane Hirschfield's After, a lovely book in which her diction becomes simpler with no loss of substance. I highly recommend it. Her "Assays" poems are particularly good, like "Envy: An Assay," "Termites: An Assay," and especially "Ah: An Assay."

Ah: An Assay

When the Greek gods would dip into the clothing and bodies of humans, it was not always as it appeared--not always, that is, for seduction, nor to test the warmth of welcome given to strangers. The sex--like the sudden unveiling and recognition--was not without pleasure. But later, they would remember: "The barley soup offered one night in the village of _____, its wild marjoram, scent of scorched iron, and carrots." "Ah!, and the ones who turned away from us, how their eyes would narrow and wrinkle the tops of their noses." "The barnyard odors." "And afterward, sleep in that salt-scent, close by their manure hoards and feathers." "Sleep itself!" "Ah!"

For this soft "ah!", immortals entered the world of bodies.

Such a great idea, walking in the shoes of gods. I'm not a fan of prose poems but I'm slowly being won over--about two decades after they became permanently accepted as a genre.

For those of you who think I'm just spinning my wheels, I presently have twenty poetry submissions pending to magazines that pay something. Some are big names (beyond my wildest dreams) but hey, just mail the stuff. Persistence is more important than talent. No one will discover you if you don't promote yourself. The world is not a merit system; it's connections, promotion, persistence, and a little talent that counts--not a lot. Just think Robert Creeley and Britney Spears. (I can't decide who of the two is less talented.)

I'm happy the NBA playoffs have begun, especially watching our local Warriors beat the number one team, Dallas, in their first game. For Christmas I got a subscription to NBA TV, so I don't have to miss anything. Tonight its the Lakers vs. the Suns and the Warriors vs. the Mavs. And don't miss Charles Barkley on TNT, truly the funniest Hall-of-Famer in the history of basketball, a gifted clown who can laugh at himself as much as he criticizes others. A national treasure (despite his ascending the stands in his playing days to spit on a fan, or his numerous bar brawls which he invariably won). He has displaced Ted Turner as "The Mouth of the South."

I will leave you here. Do stay in touch.

Thine in Truth and Art,



Saturday, April 21, 2007

Surviving the Abalone Hunt, or It Takes Spine to Hunt the Spineless

After three days of vowing to get up early in search of abalone, I finally succeeded today, probably because the height of the minus tide (forgive the oxymoron) occurred at 9:30 AM, a more civilized hour for a nocturnally tippling artist.

Unlike the other abalone pickers and divers, sheathed in wet suits, I went in some tropical L. L. Bean pants and old tennis shoes, a short-sleeved shirt and nylon shell. I had to walk to the cliffs them scramble down to a cove at Glass Beach, my chosen hunting ground.
Glass Beach used to be a dump but was washed clean by the waves. One unexpected effect of this process is that the beach gravel, in some places, is nearly fifty percent polished beach glass. I've blogged about my history of collecting beach glass and how discovering the riches at Glass Beach cheapened my hard-won collection from down south. (See "Beach Glass and Glass Beach" in the archives for March 2006.)

On to the story...

After passing the glittering gravel of the cove, I scrambled over rocks and slippery seaweed, and through pools as deep as my thighs in search of the elusive red abalone. Right away I slipped and fell twice on some particularly slimy rocks, wetting my ass in the process. Given the condition of my back, this was hardly propitious, but I knew the pain wouldn't hit me massively until later, so I continued on without falling another time, keeping my feet in the pools and channels rather than risking the rocks. If the rocks had to be negotiated I found the sea grass offered the best footing.

I found four abalone in hidden clefts, often shared by a large invertebrate with a leathery orange hide, rectangular, maybe three by eight inches. I don't know what it was, but it seemed a marker for abalone.

Unfortunately, none of the abalone I found were a legal seven inches; the closest was six-and-a-half. But unlike my last depressive scramble through the scrotum-shrinking water and fatal slime, this was a definite moral victory, if not one for the dinner table. I found abalone and from now on I know what to look for!

What most amazed me in this whole process was how time warped. The intensity of concentration required to keep my balance in my old Nikes through and over the rough, slick terrain, compressed time, for when I returned to the car, I thought two hours must have passed; instead, less than an hour had. I couldn't believe it; I thought I'd bumped my watch on the rocks somehow, but the car clock confirmed it. I conclude that extreme concentration a survival situation requires tends to lengthen time, just as in a car accident when time seems suspended.

When I returned to Kathleen like a wharf rat washed up on a piling, I brought her a copy of today's paper, whose front page story detailed the deaths of three abalone hunters on our local coast in the last week. "I'm glad I read this after you returned," she said. Per usual, given my reckless history, I violated the very first safety rule for abalone hunting: never go alone. Obviously I need more invertebrate-seeking friends. But where shall I find them? It takes spine to hunt the spineless.

My string of poetry rejections continues; I recently heard from Ploughshares that I didn't make the grade. They've rejected me before. There must be a better verb than "reject." To pass over? Not to include? Regretfully return? (Actually I prefer "rejection." Why sugar-coat failure?)

Meanwhile I am happy to report than another former student of mine, Teresa White, has a new book of poems out, with an endorsement from no less than Billy Collins. I just got my copy today, Gardenias for a Beast. The link above lists the book.

This is the fourth student of mine who's published a book after taking my poetry course, though Teresa was the only one to have published a book before the course as well.

Perhaps I am a better teacher than a poet. Still, with regard to my present shunning by poetry editors, I really think it is more a matter of style. I don't write many open inductive poems. (See "Inductive, Deductive, Open and Closed Poetics" in the March 2007 archives.) My poems, however concrete, tend ultimately toward the philosophical, a not very popular direction in these times. I nevertheless continue to send out submissions. Poetry may give up on me but I can't give up on poetry.

As for my mood, I continue to have a low-level depression beneath my facade of activity and participation in life. Thus in current clinical parlance, my depression is not in remission but only partially treated. Still that's a hell of a lot better than being seriously depressed.

Thine at 1 Kilorat,


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pollywogs and Proust

Sam Rasnake tagged me to list five poetry collections off the beaten path that ought to be read, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, I only take time to read established poets, eschewing current minor ones, unless I have a book review to do, as in the most recent book by Leonard Gontarek, a little-known poet from Philadelphia, Deja Vu Diner.

I can mention some poets I think presently neglected: Richard Wilbur, Philip Larkin, Howard Moss and Randall Jarrell (sp. suspect on two of these). Many of their lesser contemporaries get more attention, IMHO.

Today I went birding with my brother-in-law, Richard, who's visiting from NY. In exchange I bored him with native botany, at which I am becoming more proficient. He saw a pair of Bushtits, which he had only seen once before on the East Coast, whereupon I said: "Make up your mind. Did you see bush or tits?" Apparently it was both, but that, in my experience, requires a wide angle lens.

Cheap puns keep me going.

I was able to show Richard the Bush Monkey Flower, the Bull Thistle and the Scotch Broom, so I got my own Freudian revenge on his brag through the plant world.

I, too, am sad that Kurt Vonnegut died. He meant much to me and my middle daughter. (Nice to chain-smoke and survive until 80; longevity has much more to do with attitude, I think, than health habits, judging from my patients and anecdotal evidence. "Lies, damned lies, and statistics.")

Richard woke me at 8 AM this morning, apparently not knowing that most poets are not morning people, also interrupting my dream of a gourmet dinner where Kathleen had just passed me a taste of her fish to accompany my exotic soup--but Richard woke me before I could taste either.

Last night a friend gave me "liver tea" and I became very tired and Kathleen said my breath smelled of ketones. I'm wondering now whether that strange potion began a detox in me, given that I drink, I like to drink, and I likely drink more than I "should" (see Vonnegut, above). In Mendocino you never know what eye of newt and wing of bat the warlocks may be grinding into your tea. I'll have to ask my friend what the hell that was. The tea even tasted like liver.

While Richard was birding on our walk today I spent a long time staring into a stagnant pool covered with pond scum--or glisteningly beautiful green algae, if you prefer--watching pollywogs cavort. Some had grown hind legs already, assuming a square morphology near frog-like. Others were still tiny and looked like motile black sperm. I also saw a small brown spider skittering over the drier algae and a strange fly pursuing it. There were short-legged water striders as well. With the birding the binoculars Richard lent me it was amazing what I could see in the pond, though I'm sure stagnant pond gazing must be considered slumming by birders, especially since birding is the new yuppie craze out here.

Ah, all this trivia in so short a missive.

I'm almost halfway through Madam Bovary, and Flaubert is a poet. Unfortunately, he is not the best author of character, as Madame Bovary, so far, has developed little, and there are many stock characters. The best-develped so far is the druggist, Monsieur Ome'. I think Flaubert's prose presages Proust. Which reminds me of that great movie I highly recommend, "Little Miss Sunshine."

My back hurts too much to continue writing, even leaning far back with the laptop on my lap.

(Anon's comment from yesterday was sure an ego boost; thanks for that.)

Thine in Pond Slime,


Monday, April 16, 2007

Ducks, Submissions and Heaney

My neighbor discovered one duck on his roof between the TV and wireless satellites. I don't know if the duck had a Blackberry and was wired in, but he soon disappeared from that roost as well. The bowl of feed and hard-boiled egg the duck lady assured me he loved to eat went untouched. The duck has not returned; his brother never did.

Live and learn, but I won't be raising ducks anytime soon again here.

The story of the Good Friday Elephant that LKD posted in yesterday's comments was much worse.

I've noticed that since my depression improved, fewer and fewer folks seem to be coming to the site. Mental illness is much more interesting than poetry, I suppose, though often the two are not very far apart. Or maybe there are people out there who actually care about me, so when I'm doing well they are less likely to stop by.

Right now I'm in a holding pattern emotionally. I almost cried yesterday afternoon while fishing, but I think there was a reason--Kathleen was sad over her son's birthday, he being in Mexico; I was sad at being rejected by Pedestal Magazine (again), though they have published me in the past, and I was also sad that my youngest daughter (18) doesn't communicate with me, despite the fact I opened up a My Space site just to message her (she doesn't return my calls.) Teenagers. Kathleen says I should be angry about it but I can't be angry with my baby. Just sad she doesn't call.

But on another day when my mood was more upbeat these things would not have brought me near tears. It's the soil, not the seeds.

Today I may have to testify against our former neighbors about their thievery, as I saw the stolen items in their house and told a detective about it when questioned. It's a long drive on treacherous roads to the county courthouse, but I'll do my duty if they call me. I'm on hold. They hoped to choose a jury this morning and begin with testimony this afternoon. Fat chance, I say. Then I'm from LA. Maybe small towns get it done more quickly?

I really have not have good luck with my poetry submissions of late. In fact, I've never had worse luck. I think the main issue is style, not skill. Editors seem to favor open, inductive poems, and I write more deductive poems, some of them closed. To increase my publication rate, which used to be quite high, I think I'm going to have to change my style to suit the times: regurgitate an actual experience with as many particulars as possible in as short a space as possible, cut it into lines, and add a feeling or two for spice and authenticity.

I can't do it. I mean, I can do it, I find it rather easy--but it is not my idea of what is best. I've been reading Seamus Heaney, and although he is not my favorite poet, I admire his skill, and he writes many deductive poems and his intellectual content is usually satisfying. He is not dominated by recounting unfettered experience. I don't know how he'd ever get into the New Yorker if he weren't a Nobel Laureate. His style is all wrong for them. But everyone knows the NY is a "label whore."

I wanted to post another poem on ordinariness today, but I have so few and could not find another that qualified--I mean, in poetry, we usually seek the exceptional. Even if the experience seems ordinary, we tend to focus on the exceptional part. Instead I offer an apostrophe to editors who pass over my poetry. The poets who browse these pages should readily identify.

To the Giants

I see you in the exalted journals,
astonished by your concrete subjects,
startling imagery and veiled conclusions.
Only you can do this. Others try
to cage what has to soar. You tie
one-pound-test to it and set it free
When the line breaks you have a poem.
I’ve seen you write four hundred lines
on roasted meat, a hundred on zucchinis.
You can make poetry out of a dishcloth.

I sent my work to one of you once.
Your secretary wrote me: "Mr. S-
no longer comments on others' work
because of his busy schedule."
I thought your next book sucked.
I swear the two events were not related.

Maybe you remember
how it was before you "made it?"
I thought if I could slide one poem
beneath your discriminating nose
I'd have a chance. Instead I drop
rectangular white prayers in mailboxes
and change commemoratives for luck.
When the rejection slips arrive
I file them under "What the editors missed."
They read the same. say, invariably:
"We regret your work does not suit
our publication’s needs at this time."
As if! As if they had needs!
As if it were a matter of timing!

I dream of an editor
in a blue paisley suit who likes martinis
rummaging through the slush pile.
She finds my poem about the possum.
Her cat-eye glasses slip her bridge,
eyes squint like commas. Another martini
and she thinks "Why not?" until the Glucks,
Merwins and Ashberys start levitating
from her in-box to divide
the sorcerers from the apprentices.

"I have so little time," she thinks,
"and this is not the time for risks—
subscriptions are static, the board is short
of funds, besides, even angstrom-thin pages
could not accommodate all the deserving.
Prides already war over my bleached savannas.
If another craves entrance, let him
bring rains like Elijah, make the ink run."

(Published in Afternoon, Tintern Abbey, and Poetry Superhighway)

At Two Kilobats,


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ducks and Slugs

Kathleen discovered a woman who was giving away eight-week-old ducks, and having a garden enclosed by a deer fence, I thought I could keep them to control pests. So I took two. The duck lady delivered them, gave me a book on raising ducks and some feed. I released them in the garden. Within a minute they had waddled down the slope and out through the squares in the deer fence, which I thought would be too narrow for them to escape through. Not. I heard them in the bushes but they wouldn't come out.

Later they came up the stairs on the side of the garden, and I tried to herd them back into their proper digs. This scared them and they fled down and away into the bushes again. I fear they have become raccoon bait. Clearly I must wrap chicken wire around the deer fence should I wish to entertain quackers again. Call me "a duck farmer for a day."

As for pests in the redwoods, you haven't lived until you've seen a banana slug.

I once picked one up with my bare hand. It took six washings to begin to get the feeling of slime off my fingers. The Pacific Giant Salamander eats them. I have a friend who saw a salamander actually stalking a slug. It was just like a cheetah on a zebra, or so it seems to us redwood dwellers who are used to watching trees grow.

But we do have bears, bobcats, mountain lions, weasels, foxes, raccoons, and no poisonous snakes. And you say, "You live in California?" Yes. Just don't tell anyone.

Ducks and slugs certainly qualify as ordinary. Let's see if I can find another ordinary poem:

Nothing to Say

I have nothing needful to say,
no comment on the glittering bay
or the dark, snow-topped wall
of the San Gabriels.

Things used to be pulled from me,
uprooted like weeds from a garden.
I let the weeds bloom now.

The red-throated bird
that lives in my chipped balcony light
sings for a mate I have never seen.

I let my words run like watercolors.
Time runs only forward.
Why should art be different?
Here is the last line.


Friday, April 13, 2007

More on Ordinary

Yesterday I happened upon a theme, the ordinary. Here's another poem on that theme, published in 2 River View as "They Were Enough":

The Anonymous

I slept with the anonymous dead
in mass graves,
quick-lime for blankets,
loose earth above,
and drilled a hole up
so light could tickle their bones,
but they didn't care.

So I sat with them,
those who never held a microphone
or received a medal,
whose chief recognition
was a birthday,
until I learned their secret:
They were enough,
in themselves, to matter.

Thine in Ordinariness,



I think today's poem was inspired by yesterday's blog about Richard Ford's "Existence Period."


I never thought I’d be so ordinary--
another acorn or a worker ant,
another paper thrown onto the driveway
with the same weak, pink rubber band.

Are you ordinary, too?
Without a medal or a Guinness record,
unable to juggle more
than two balls at a time?

I make good omelets.
My secret is the microwave.
I cast lures well using a spinning reel
but have never learned to fly fish.
(That's what high class fishermen do.)

I glory in the ordinary! And why not?
What pumps up most of us beyond our fellows
is just the stuffing of tires with excess air.

It is enough for me to sweep the porch,
answer my e-mails, sometimes get drunk.
(OK—-get drunk more than that.)

Thine as ever,


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Richard Ford's "Existence Period"

After the slew of comments provoked by my last post, I am once again free of public opinion. My private opinion of myself, it goes without saying, is too private to publicize. Suffice it to say that the less I think about myself the better I feel. Thus to have an opinion of myself is dangerous and can be a symptom of depression.

Speaking of mental illness, I was happy to read that 39% of Americans admit to hearing voices--mainly inside their heads, I assume, the article wasn't clear--it brings my past psychoses and present mind closer to the middle of the Bell curve.

I just read Richard Ford's "Independence Day" for the first time and admired his concept of "The Existence Period," though I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the book, both its substance and style, just as I was by the culture and credo of the mid-nineties when it was published, when we became preoccupied as a nation with a stain on a blue dress. I remember a quote from one of Clinton's staffers back then: "Did she have big hair? Big tits? Oh no!" The whole country seemed a part of the Seinfeld Show back then.

As for Don Imus and his "nappy-headed hos," The real obscenity is our Captain Ahab's belief in pursuing the white whale of a feudal society with high tech weapons. It would take half a million troops to govern Iraq, and that would be an uneasy peace at best. Bosnia may be the only example of a war mainly quelled by air power. Ground troops are what are always needed. What I find hard to believe is that with our volunteer army we can't even deploy 500,000 troops--roughly the number of Americans who died in WW II. In any case, a "surge" is a ridiculous obscenity. Forget Imus. The real obscenities come from the administration's mouth. What I can't fathom is how John McCain can be so craven now, torpedoing any chance of a nomination, hoping for the Bush core support. "Toadies for president"--kiss up to the money. Obama raised 25 million by not kissing up, though he is extremely gracious. But I digress--what a blog is for, of course.

I find myself sometimes going to other literary blogs and bagging on poems by the famous, getting angry about nothing, as in the case of Adrienne Rich at Sam Rasnake's blog. Afterwards I have regrets, but I'm too ashamed to return to my post and try to erase it, especially if the blogger has already commented on it. Mea culpa. I know better than to go with my first gut response, but sometimes I lose that caution and wade in with mortars. I attack before I bethink. I want to be more reasonable and circumspect, but I fear it is my nature to jump on the horse before offering it an apple.

One line repeated twice in "Independence Day": "It was like a metaphor that stood for something else."

Back to that book. Having recently been reading Chekhov and Bellow and O'Connor, the superficial, Seinfeld-like self involvement of Frank Bascombe is so hard to imagine deserving of 400+ pages when compared to things that really matter. Sure, there is the dark background of a son who died and a painful divorce, but the real answer for Frank is not in these things but in the mild discipline of real estate. He is not lost; he is satisfied to tread water. The birth of new passion implied at the book's ending is not sufficient to overcome the ennui of the first 400 pages. But this is what passes for importance nowadays, for realism, for relevance. And I found his prose style at times sloppy and certainly choppy.

One of those books I got through because it was considered important, when in fact its importance is that it glorifies what is not important.

Here's to poor Frank Bascombe; I'm glad there's passion in my life, of which my disdain for the Bush administration is but a part.

As to mood, I'm still fragile, but not fragile enough to belabor it. Still, struggling with depression is not an "Existence Period;" it is a life-and-death battle, trying to come out of what Coleridge called "life-in-death and death-in-life." No one wants to be a ghost suspended between pole and tropic.



Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter 2000

I'm not at home, but I found this on the web for an Easter poem. Admittedly it isn't a very happy poem, but it is an honest poem about too early a conversion and the psychological damage that ensued from that adoption of absolutes while still a teen. Published in Poets' Canvas.

Easter 2000

In Hyperion Dan Simmons invents the Shrike,
a monster of blades and rays outside of time.
All that approach are slain, yet I find him
less fearful than Jehovah, and as for Christ,
I am ashamed. What should I say?
"Forgive, O Lord the way I wound my fellows,
calling my black humor a rubber knife?"
"Forgive my jealousy of you
who renders me forever second-born?"

At sixteen, head emptied by acid,
I didn't feel joy but dread
electrify my sternum when converted.
The pimpled corpse God claimed
inside that yearbook picture
would never rise. A virgin until married,
I gave triple tithes while a poor student—
what does a child know?

Your unimaginable grace was just that.
I labored not in faith but out of fear,
fear of missing your voice—
for which I paid in voices multiplied,
none of them yours.

I expect no better of the dead—
and so you say we are born—
but when my world was young
you made me old, a dwarf oak
riddled with scars and squirrel holes.
This is no brag but what the Pentecostal
whirlwind reaped of me, and little enough it is.
Mercy is beyond me. Lent may take
cigarettes or chocolate but not my blood—
besides, mine isn't magic.

Have a joyous Easter in any case. When it comes to an example of a happy faith, I'm not much better than Kierkegaard.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Poetic Archaeology; Kilobats

God, what a nuisance! I've been trying to sort my publications, some indexed by the names of journals, some by the titles of individual pieces, and some by other titles for the same pieces. Using Google and other sources, I have managed to discover, so far, the following journals either without a website or without archives:

Apples and Oranges
A Writer’s Choice
Adirondack Review
Beauty for Ashes
Blue Moon Review
Dust on My Palms
EZ Books
Free Cuisenart
Horsethief’s Journal
Muse Apprentice Guild
Poetry Cafe
Poetry Magazine (online journal, not the big one)
Poetry Now
Poetry Tonight
Recursive Angel
Shallow End
Spoken Word
Susquehanna Review
Tintern Abbey
Wired Heart
World Poetry
Writer’s Hood
Ze Books
Zuzu’s Petals

If I am in error about any of these, I would appreciate a note from readers or their scattered connections on the literary Internet.

There are also those journals who list me in their archives as a contributor, but strangely, have no record of or links to my poems--often right next to another poet whose links are still good. I assume this is random and not personal, though I have made some enemies in my faux career.

Anyway, my back hurts terribly from sitting despite the new pain medication, even though I did go easy at the gym yesterday. Since my recent cold I've put at least ten pounds back on from not exercising regularly, then Kathleen and I also became derelict re: our low carb high protein diet.

Three steps forward and four steps back.

Is it discouraging to find so much of your work erased from the net forever? Here's an advantage: when there is no record of a work I consider it unpublished and open for submission again, a liberty I don't take with print--which may appear inconsistent until you realize that with print publications I can still hold the evidence in my greedy little narcissistic hand. Where all evidence is erased, can anything have happened?

Speaking of narcissism, Kathleen and I watched the original "Sunset Boulevard" last night, and Kathleen threatened to fall asleep before the end, whereupon I threatened her with this: "You can never call me narcissistic again if you don't finish this movie." I mean, c'mon--compared to Norma Desmond even poets are normal. (Such a comparison does stretch the (Marvin) Bell curve.)

Ah, so little to say, so much to write. We'll be house sitting for my sister this weekend in the lovely SF suburb of Burlingame, while she goes south to check out the alma mater of my middle daughter and myself, UCLA. My sister's only daughter is making the college tour now, and from what I understand, likely has her choice of most, and money is no object thanks to the prudent planning of her parents. I had to put myself through college and medical school, which includes loans, of course. And I couldn't help my one college graduate daughter much monetarily, though some; mostly I provided emotional support and medical expertise--I'm still very proud that she, a bipolar I, got through UCLA in four years--a miracle. She has guts and determination, which can sometimes appear as an extreme and brittle stubbornness.

Enough about family. Like photos from a wallet, all that patter is a bore, isn't it? Here's a photo of my grandson:

I'm in a mixed state--fragile and sort of +2 and -2 at the same time--cried on the treadmill yesterday, have been anxious--but while I'm working I naturally feel better as I am not thinking about myself even if I'm writing about myself, which writers understand.

What's a kilorat and a kilobunny at the same time?

Put me at two kilobats.



Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Love Poem; Note on Depression

I have found that more traditional love poems are frowned upon by most editors, that anti-love poems are preferred nowadays. When I say "traditional," I do not mean maudlin or derivative, rather something from the heart that respects line breaks and rhythm. I think rhythm very important in a love poem, for obvious reasons, and I don't mean that as a Freudian aside.

It seems that when I'm not depressed, I blog about literature or post poetry, and when depressed, I write about myself. Likely whatever readership I have alternates between those who come here to read about mood disorders and those who come for poetry. When I am not depressed, my concerns involve others and the world. When depressed, I am absolutely cut off from the world and exiled to the bell jar of which Sylvia Plath wrote so eloquently, when this blog becomes a method for survival.

In general, however, depression is an aberrant state for me, so the necessity for posting about it, I hope, will not return for many years after this last tortuous year, except in brief dips. But with this unpredictable disease, one never knows. I'm still feeling fragile. Kathleen is my steadying force.

Should I turn manic, however, I usually end up in jail, so I would have to blog about that after the fact. ;-)

I disobey my own rule in posting this love poem the same day I wrote it. I asked Kathleen if I should, and she said, "Go ahead. Make the other women jealous." In as it's addressed to her, she is the last one to be relied upon as a critic. But not to follow her advice is a risk I'm unwilling to take at this point in my recovery.

Have a wonderful day,


Aubade II

We wake to the alarm, I turn
and palm your breasts, softer than tulip petals,
and feel your nipples straighten in response
before your breathing heaves you back to sleep
like cargo meant for heaven. I stay awake, gently
compress your breasts each time you must inhale.

Your moon fits in the hollow of my groin,
your thighs repeat my thighs, my knees
fit in the hollows of your knees.
I would envelop you like a shell around a seed
and let my body break to further yours:
Scatter me beneath the walnut tree.

I watch the sunlight shafting through the firs,
I hear our old dog rearrange himself
on his brown blanket and green pillow.
He will not rise until you rise,
I will not leave your body until you wake.
We are both prisoners of our adoration;
we cannot move until you speak.


Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008 ON SALE NOW!