Monday, October 22, 2007

Cruelty to Plants; New Cat; Banned from My Writing Class

I saw a pick-up truck today with tropical plants in the bed traveling at 50 mph along the bracing coast. I thought of reporting it to the SPCP, “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants.” Then I realized there was no such organization and that it was up to me to found it. Ah, one more small responsibility for Dr. Yours Truly. (You’d think people would have wised up by now and simply elected me supreme potentate, since I know what’s best for everyone. Who else worries about the damn plants, hmm?)

Did you know that plants grow better to Mozart and that carrots, according to electric sensors, emit the equivalent of a scream when uprooted? Just because we believe plants don’t have sentience doesn’t mean they can’t experience pain just as animals do. Yes, Cain’s vegetable offering was rejected and Abel’s received, and we grieve about the fratricide, but what about the poor vegetables and the emotional wound of their rejection by the very God who created them? We’re talking years of therapy with manure and fish emulsion.

Today we picked out our new pet, a cat almost one-year-old. Her name is Jo Jo, but we haven’t decided to keep the name yet. She is gray with white paws and all kinds of crazy stripes, her eyes yellow. Right now she’s hiding in the open coat closet behind the vacuum cleaner, from where she makes sorties up and down the stairs, but never too far—she’s brave but still cautious. The cubicle at the pound was big but not so overwhelming as our rental to her. I’ve seen cats go through this adjustment period before and am confident that she will soon rule the roost. LKD knows that already.

It may take a while for me to provide a picture since Kathleen lost the digital camera (that we couldn’t afford) I bought her for Christmas. If she reads this it is only to make her feel guilty. I’m so mean! Then why should Kathleen read my blog? She lives it with me. It should bore her to hell, one of the lesser known means of entrance to that region.

Besides the four new publications announced in my last blog, I just got news that Oysters and Chocolate, an online magazine of erotica, will pay me for a poem entitled “Her Steaming Love Tunnel.” I’ll give you the link when it appears, but I don’t feel comfortable posting the poem--my Junior Craig Club members’ parents might sue me and then who would pay my freight? Ever since I exposed Big Bird as the extraterrestrial queer that he is, many parents have directed their children here. Why did I write this sexy piece (though long ago, before my break from writing poetry)? Because to write for money means experimenting with every paying genre. If porno poems sell better than love poems I’ll just go there. Wait—not porno--The poem has socially redeeming value, if only to affirm the joy of intromission, ejaculation and afterglow in pursuit of the “golden fleece” of the simultaneous orgasm. Near the end the narrator yells, “I’m a horse not a man!” I like that and so would Catherine the Great.

Kathleen is reading my novel’s second draft and finds it more absorbing than the Dick Francis novel she’s trying to read, which is good news for me, as she is certainly my harshest critic. If I can hold her attention, there is hope for a third draft.

BTW, if anyone would like an e-mail attachment of any of the works below, simply mail me and ask. You’ll have to bear the costs of printing.


Sine Wave
Love Poems
Simply Said


The Abomination

Short Stories:

The Eric Chronicles
Five Stories and a Play


T. S. Eliot: The Major Poems (an undergraduate primer)


Collected Columns

Max asked me to detail how I got booted from a creative writing class. First, I joined it during my depression as a discipline for continuing social involvement that I demand of myself when depressed. I also hoped to meet a circle of writers in my new stomping grounds. And the teacher came highly recommended from my neighbor who claims to be a writer but will always lack the chops.

At the last class I attended a woman read a treacly, maudlin poem that made my hair stand on end. Since everyone else chimed in, I added my two cents that it sounded like “A Blue Mountain Arts” card. The teacher interrupted me to say “that’s over the line, let’s stop there.” I assure you there was no malice in my comment and that the “poem” was abominable.

After class the teacher asked to speak with me. She told me she tried to provide a nurturing environment for writers, and that this class had been together a long time. I asked her if feeling good was more important than writing well, and she dodged the question, indicating both were important, but one shouldn’t call another’s work “Hallmark,” to which I vociferously objected:

“I didn’t call it ‘Hallmark,’ I called it ‘Blue Mountain Arts,’ and there’s a world of difference in that distinction. I choose my comments carefully, unlike what you think.” That was over her head. I then asked her, “How many people have complained about me?”

She said, “four.” That amazed me. “And they don’t have the balls to speak to me but have to hide under the teacher’s skirt?” She didn’t like that one at all.
“So, do you really want me to come back?” I said.

“Oh yes,” she said, “You’re a very good writer.” (How would she know if she’s more concerned with feelings?)

I asked her again if she really wanted me to return. “By all means,” she said, “just try to be more nurturing and less critical.”

I said, “If four people complained about you in a writing class, would you feel like coming back?”

“I can’t say,” she said, “and it’s not like that.”

“Like what?” I said.

She demurred. Depressed or not I wasn’t going to return to a class of wannabes who couldn’t stand constructive, yes, constructive criticism. The story of my life: unable to judge the social acceptability of my utterance of the truth as I perceive it. My tongue believes in “Leap before thou lookest.”

I cried yesterday morning when Kathleen mentioned that she had been grieving for Kenyon and Rachel. While weeping separately together, I said, “Good morning to you, too!” Later I graciously thanked her for ruining my day. But Jo Jo the wonder cat made me happy again. Soon she will be purring in my lap beside my laptop. I love a purring cat!

All for today.

1 Kilobunny,



  1. I think classes like that should be called “poetry affirmations,” or maybe “The Feel Good Poetic Validation Association,” certainly not a poetry workshop. I’ve been involved in a couple examples of similar organizations. The only reason to be a part of any poetry class/workshop is a desire for change (hopefully for the better). Change is rarely, if ever, comfortable. Uhg. Anyway, screw the stupid class.

  2. Anonymous2:13 PM PDT


    The average Joe writes for praise, not for criticism. Oh and does the teacher get paid for her 'nurturing'? That would be another strike against robust criticism. I would start by assessing the teacher's motives and then move out from there. But it's already a waste of time. You can hear that.

    take care

  3. Jo Jo! What a great name. I've always wanted a scruffy little dog that I could call Jo Jo (after Jo Jo the dog-faced boy).

    Will she be an indoor cat? Or will you let her wander out into the big bad world?

    How did you pick her? Or, did she pick you?

    Gosh, it makes me glad to hear you got a cat. Makes me more motivated to get a dog. But that will have to wait. Everything's still so in flux right now. Most stop the world spinning around inside and around me before a dog can enter my life.

    Jo Jo. You made me smile. Today. My father died 6 years ago today. Tonight. I miss him. He wanted a cat of his own, a Russian Blue. He wanted that specific breed so he could call the cat Pushkin. Thought he was pretty clever, my dad. (smile) Instead, he was adopted by a rather remarkable, loyal, intelligent, serious white cat with black spots that ended up losing a back leg to a mysterious accident at my father's machine shop. (my father used to come and go at all times of the day and night, and one night, he opened up the shop door and the cat didn't come running---its leg was dangling on a piece of sinew. I met my father at the emergency vet because, god bless him, he'd never been to a vet before and wanted someone there who knew what the hell to say and do. I'll never forget it---that cat was grey from hanging around the machine shop, and never cried in pain the whole time even though his leg was badly badly mangled. My father called the cat Boy. Original, eh? My mother renamed him, when he was invited into the house once the leg was amputated and it became clear that he could no longer be a shop cat, after those polish pastries one eats during fat Tuesday--the proper spelling is something like Paczki but, crazily, it's prounounced Poonchki. What a hell of a cat. The morning my mother found my father on the floor (long pause....), she said the cat was meatloafed right up by my father's head and had probably stayed there beside him all night. After my father died, that wonderful cat adopted my mother and has become such a loyal, loving unfailing companion for her, as good as any dog.)

    Ah, gee. 6 years. Has it really been that long?

    I'm so glad to hear you got a cat. Find that camera and take some pictures, dammit!!! (grin)

  4. Coralpoetry2:39 PM PDT


    Bob Hicok has a healthy attitude towards poetry workshops. You should have consulted him first and you wouldn't have been at all surprised by your overwhelming experiences.

    Just popped in to ask if you are OK thru the California fires (posting this 24 Oct and situation looks grim) Don't know where you are located but my geography is so bad it would probably mean nothing if you enlightened me. Long Beach rings a bell. I think Long Beach fire-fighters are lending their taskforces to help, so I assume you ARE safe.

    Also... have you celebrated TWO birthdays this year? I seem to recall your having a blogging/poetry hiatus after your last birthday. Eeeek, was that a year ago?


  5. I'm on the northern coast; it rains here, we're in no danger. Although Long Beach, where my daughters are, has bad air, the concrete and asphalt that make up the city won't burn, thankfully.

    The forest needs fires to be healthy. Man's encroachment, IMHO, is as stupid as building houses at sea level in Florida. There should be no government help for people that stupid, with exceptions--like this fire which is way beyond any usual restoration of the wilderness. Still, man must bear the responsibility for understimating Mother Nature. Never underestimate Mother Nature!


  6. I agree, CE...we both choose to live not far off the San Andreas fault. I think we both try to be kind to nature, but we know we are living on her land and anyone living nar the coast today after last night's full moon, high tide knows She can sure stir up a stench of kelp. Oddly, here, during the dry season, I have been more fearful of fire than earthquakes. I lived on the New Madrid fault in rarely rumbles, but as you know when it did big time, the Mississippi flowed backwards. There, however, there is virtually no preparation for the possiblity of it happening again...and, no doubt, it will happen again. Is my earthquake kit up to day...maybe with meds, water, some supplies in the car, but not much else. I'd update the home one but damn if I can figure out where to put it if I do. How does one guess what part of the house will fall into the sea? : )

    Love to you and your bride.


  7. I'm always tickled when you refer to Kathleen as my bride. Too bad she doesn't dress up like that every day. Nothing like Miss Havisham to get the juices flowing!


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