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,



  1. It's been years since I read Madame Bovary, I know I thoroughly enjoyed it. Right now I'm wading through The Brothers K (at an extremely slow pace due to my 4 month old son!); what a pleasure it is to read. There really is nothing better than a cuppa coffee and the first read of an excellent novel.

  2. So glad you're enjoying the greatest novel of all time!

  3. Anonymous12:22 PM PDT

    "In Mendocino you never know what eye of newt and wing of bat the warlocks may be grinding into your tea".

    I can attest to the fact that this is indeed true. : ) Glad to hear you are feeling a bit better.

    Pat (fellow pond scum watcher)

  4. Anonymous12:28 PM PDT

    Oops! sorry about that...this is for the pond scum lovers.


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