Friday, December 31, 2010

kingdom of the invisible

I've been thinking about this story, listening
to Cynthia Ozick read it, pondering how to sink
beneath the crust of the visible, spreading out
some plans for the new year all over the floor,
preparing to assemble.

Listen to In the Reign of Harad IV
And happy new year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

white out

how the snow looks like chalk marks
against the slate night as I shovel
foolishly/joyfully into the wind

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Gone but not forgotten...Coney Island's boardwalk.
Some photos from last year.
It's the holidays of course.
Food, family: good stuff.
Merry New Year, Happy Xmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Long Night Moon

or Moon Before Yule
or crumpled moon

(To Rebecca who comes up with much
better names for the full moon)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

blue moon

Over the reservoir at dusk, a good chill in the air.
And I can see clearly now the leaves are gone...
I dreamt about my poem last night; in the dream
I remembered the part in The Iliad about the great
shield of Achilles, and how I should re-read that
part of the poem again, it could be useful.
I can see all obstacles in my way....

Sunday, October 31, 2010


When I was awarded the fellowship the deal
I made with myself was to get to the office
at Purchase at least one day a week. Well,
this week stuff intervened and I never got
there and that feels pretty bad. Not that I didn't
work on my projects. I did. And I don't have
to go to that office to do the work, to write.
In fact, it's a schlep. But it's a good schlep.
And I want to schlep there. I'd like to schlep
more than one day a week, but there's
work and family and now the leaves-- oh those leaves.
Which are nearly gone, thank goodness. Except
for the damn oak. Its leaves hang on till
December. Anyway, there's always this coming
week. And by hook or crook, I will spend time
in that office. I will be a good fellow!
PS...happy halloween...don't you love this photo.
From the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Afghan Women's Writing Project

One of the great things about the interwebs
is being able to do things like co-edit an online
journal with a writer in Scotland as I did last
year with Anna Dickie and qarrtsiluni.
Next month I'll be mentoring women who live
in Afghanistan via the Afghan Women's Writing Project.
The photos above are of the new office the women
now can use in Kabul.
The women will write and I will read and offer
feedback and eventually their work may be published
at the online magazine started by writer Masha Hamilton.
It's completely run by volunteers and the aim is to give women
the power and the place to write and "have a voice in the world
despite a deteriorating security situation."
Check out the website.
I think I'll be learning a thing or two or three in November.

Friday, October 22, 2010


All week I was trying to get to the office
where my poems are tacked to the wall, waiting,
burning. I barely made it there Friday morning
for two short hours, what with the yadayadayada
that fills up a week.
The poems waited and waited, like hungry kids
what's for dinner/where's my shirt/get out
they were whiny and I don't blame them, stuck
on a strange wall alone all week with no one
looking after them. But I got there and looked
and fiddled and wrote and looked and they burn
and that's good.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Whale Sound

Nic Sebastian has undertaken a pretty wonderful
endeavor -- to read other people's poems and post
the readings at Whale Sound. It's lovely to hear
my poem in her voice.
The poem, Sometimes a bone, is re-imagined as she reads
it. And there are lots of other poems over at Whale Sound.
Go there and listen.

Friday, October 15, 2010


It is more difficult to fix on the map the routes of the swallows, who cut the air over the roofs, dropping long invisible parabolas with their still wings, darting to gulp a mosquito, spiraling upward, grazing a pinnacle, dominating from every point of their airy paths all the points of the city.
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Don't try this


Usually you specialize in having a light touch.
You'd rather nudge than push. Nimble harmony
is more interesting to you than brute force.
You prefer your influence on people
to be appreciated, not begrudgingly respected.
And I certainly don't want you to forsake
any of those inclinations. But I would love
to see you add a dash of aggressiveness
and a pinch of vehemence to your repertoire
in the coming week. I'd be thrilled if you raised
your voice a bit and gesticulated more vigorously
and projected your confidence with an elevated
intensity. According to my reading of the astrological
omens, your refined approach will benefit from a dose of subliminal thunder.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I spent part of the late afternoon thumb-tacking
my manuscript onto the walls of the Writer Center
office I'm now inhabiting. I like looking at the poems
from this perspective, not always on a screen or page.
I've been living with this manuscript for almost two
years and am struggling to understand its hodge-podgeness.
I think if I can look at it like a curator looking at an array
of work by one artist I can see/understand in a new way.
This afternoon I looked and looked and that was good.
No great revelations. The poems will stay up for awhile.
I want to keep looking at them.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Someone asked me if I was obsessed with death.
He didn't say what he meant by obsessed.
I love this painting. Frida Kahlo's "Dream"
would be my answer. But, in the moment I
was tongue tied. Then the conversation turned,
as it does at dinners with people.

The wind is wild today and I'm waiting on a storm.
Bluster and blow-downs littering the back roads.
Power still on. It's fall. All kinds of rot -- peony
and mushroom. The dead snake. A tiny turtle carcass
along the shoulder of the road where I run.
The smells. Grapes ripen. The maple trees
are nearly past color to disappearance.
My favorite season.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Finally I've caught up and read last week's New Yorker,
especially moved by Roland Barthes' grief notes,
which he started writing after the death of his 84-year-old
mother, Henriette. Perhaps these became the stuff of his
final book, Camera Lucida, which is a kind of tribute
to his 'maman' as he ruminates on photography
and memory and loss.

But these sweet, diary fragments are raw, made before theory,
in the middle of mourning. Translated by Richard Howard, Barthes'
notes capture that sense of upheaval that stalks you after loss.
Barthes lived with his mother all of his life. He died three years
after his mother.

I love the photo of them -- his long
legs, her long skirt, the sandy road.

In the sentence "She's no longer suffering,"
to what, to whom does "she" refer?
What does that present tense mean?
Sometimes, very briefly, a blank
moment--a kind of numbness--which
is not a moment of forgetfulness.
This terrifies me.
The desires I had before her death
(while she was sick) can no longer
be fulfilled, for that would mean it is her
death that allows me to fulfill them--her
death might be a liberation in some sense
with regard to my desires. But her death
has changed me, I no longer desire what
I used to desire. I must wait--supposing
that such a thing could happen--for a new
desire to form, a desire following her death.
A strange new acuity, seeing (in the street)
people's ugliness or their beauty.
I don't want to talk about it, for fear
of making literature out of it--or
without being sure of not doing so
--although as a matter of fact
literature originates within these truths.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

make over

Today was filled with fall: the light on the meadow where
I walked late afternoon, the wind that came in and tossed
out some leftover humidity, the tree turning away from green.
One season is leaving and another's on the way. Change always
changing. Time for a new look. I fiddled for a bit.
I'm too lazy to ditch blogger, but it's so clunky.
I like this okay. What do you think? Before/after?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ponder fall

Libra Horoscope for week of 8/25/10
The odometer will turn over soon, metaphorically speaking. The big supply of the stuff you stocked up on a while back is about to run out. The lessons you began studying a year ago have been completed, at least for now, and you're not yet ready for the next round of teachings. These are just some of the indicators that suggest you should set aside time for reflection and evaluation. The world may come pounding at your door, demanding that you make a dramatic declaration or take decisive action, but in my opinion you should stall. You need to steep in this pregnant pause.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


From Fragments of a Broken Poetics
by Jennifer Moxley


What does it matter if there are poets or poems?


In poetry, as elsewhere, nature isn't what it used to be.


The poem resists. It resists coming into being. It resists eloquence.

It resists transmitting unpleasant or embarrassing knowledge.

It resists grammatical constraints. It resists moving away from simple utterance.

It resists revision. It resists completion. It resists success. Hopefully, the poet resists as well.


After a point, even the poem can grow bored with its own devices.


It seems as if the able use of metaphor has precipitously fallen off since doubt was cast upon language's ability to represent the real, and yet simile, a far less interesting trope, somehow continues to thrive.


The idea of audience is a nuisance born of the need for spectacle. Poems haunting the precarious dialectic between existence and extinction do not need it. Their magic is dependent on the private experience of separate individuals.


The poet must understand seduction, because even capricious human attention is susceptible to courtship.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I received some good news recently.
(but never know quite how to go about
"sharing" in here. Write it/duh.)

I was selected to be one of three inaugural
fellows at the new Purchase College Writers Center
this coming fall.
I'm amazed and pleased and surprised
and have already reorganized my summer reading.
Soon a new notebook. Maybe a new pen!
I have a manuscript that needs serious fixing.
And a new project/book/something underway.
I get some space and time and, most wonderfully, a research library.
This all makes me very happy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


by Anthony Discenza

sale today. Enough with all
this talk about words.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Bluet or cornflower or centaurea cyanus
nevermind it's the color oh and the heat again.

How could all the shreds of garbage bags stuck
in brambles, or the bright blue tarps flapping
over every shanty and fish stand in the world,
be, in essence, the fingerprints of God?
Maggie Nelson, BLUETS

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


It's hot here-a heat weave,
I keep writing.
And it's Frida Kahlo's birthday.
In her honor this door and her words.

I would like to be able to do whatever I want behind
the curtain of "madness." In this way, I would arrange
flowers, all day, I would paint pain, love, tenderness,
I would freely laugh at others, but above everything
I would laugh at myself. I would build my world
that would be mine and theirs as long as I live.

Thursday, June 24, 2010



It will take a good fight to bring her back
and the chief there orders his men to call
her in with conch shells, even if it means love

or staying on the beach when the sand hardens.
There’s the chance she’ll float like Olofat
who spat blood and broke himself

into an archipelago. There’s the chance
she drank the sweet water in Tol
and poured her body out as a spring.

There’s the half-caste joke about the men
who left the lighthouse years ago.
No one can discuss sunsets or the fiberglass

of the boat or the story about her breasts
bloating later in the shape of an island,
into real rock. A bulletin goes out

and the boys climb trees for signals.
It could be days she stays huddled there,
and the oddsmakers on Saipan

place their faith in the fish she might spear.
Big deal some say, remember when the cliff
had imprints of hands, and the sliding streaks

of Sudal. There’s the chance she’s stuck
in a tunnel of coral or torn to tufts
and in that case the son could start killing

the pigs. She left the Mortlocks at night
and now the women cover the fences
with fronds and start with the baskets.

There’s the hope she’ll drift again as scraps
of land, as the upper half of a woman’s body,
the curve of sand in her neck.

Thanks to Matt Nienow for finding this poem.

I was at the beach today. I'm still here I think. Or there.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

some poems

Photos from the exhibition at the NY
Botanical Garden on Emily Dickinson's
garden. I read some of her poems there Saturday.
Poems on death, bees and roses, my favorite topics.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


by John Ashbery

s it possible that spring could be
once more approaching? We forget each time
what a mindless business it is, porous like sleep,
adrift on the horizon, refusing to take sides, "mugwump
of the final hour," lest an agenda—horrors!—be imputed to it,
and the whole point of its being spring collapse
like a hole dug in sand. It's breathy, though,
you have to say that for it.
And should further seasons coagulate
into years, like spilled, dried paint, why,
who's to say we weren't provident? We indeed
looked out for others as though they mattered, and they,
catching the spirit, came home with us, spent the night
in an alcove from which their breathing could be heard clearly.
But it's not over yet. Terrible incidents happen
daily. That's how we get around obstacles.

Monday, May 3, 2010

the winner is


Please send me your email so I can contact you and get your address.

Thanks all for participating.

Friday, April 30, 2010

and the

winner is...


Address needed/books in mail on Monday.
Congrats and thanks all for participating!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Some things Anne Carson said tonight:

I thought a lot about vanishing anyway.

My profession is about having an effect
on people by making sentences.

A real moment of exhilaration came
when I discovered staples.


I wanted to fill my elegy with light
of all kinds. But death makes us stingy.

Helplessness built a wall in her.

Prowling the meanings of a word,
prowling the history of a person,
no use expecting a flood of light.

But all those little kidnaps in the dark.

Anne Carson read from her new book,
Nox, an elegy to her brother who died.
She calls it, "an epitaph in the form of a book."

I went to Poets House in New York, an amazing
place near the foot of Manhattan.

Here is Carson's translation of a poem
by Catullus that she says has been with her
since high school -- #101. He wrote it
as an elegy to his brother.

Many the peoples many the oceans I crossed--
I arrive at these poor, brother, burials
so I could give you the last gift owed to death
and talk (why?) with mute ash.
Now that Fortune tore you from me, you
oh poor (wrongly) brother (wrongly) taken from me,
now still anyway this -- what a distant mood of parents
handed down as the sad gift for burials -
accept! soaked with tears of a brother
and into forever, brother, farewell and farewell

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

going ggggaggaa

This video is making the rounds. It brought a little lift
to another rainy chilly day. Only a few days left to join
in my poetry giveaway. Come on, add your name, you
know you want to!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Poetry is the journal of a sea animal
living on land, wanting to fly in the air.

-Carl Sandburg

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The Poetry Book Giveaway is happening here.
Send me your name and email -- you have
until April 30. Then on May 1 I will select
at random one name and mail you one
copy of the above books, postage paid!

And the winner will actually receive eight,
yes, EIGHT chapbooks for free. That's because
Toadlily Press features the Quartet Series,
four chaps under one roof. My chapbook,
The End of the Body, is part of The Fifth
Voice. Such a deal.

Friday, April 16, 2010


This image haunts me. From a book out this month by Siglio Press, The Torture of Women,
a series of paintings made by Nancy Spero in the 1970s. I bet the book is expensive.
I need to learn more about this artist. (I like that the word haunt is etymologically
related to home.)


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poetry Book Giveaway

I've been hemming and hawing. What if no one is out there. What if no one signs up. I missed the deadline, proscrastinator. Then a note on Kelli Russell Agodon's blog that there's still room. A sign. I'm in! And thanks to Kelli for this great idea. Participating bloggers give away two books, their own and one other. The winner will receive my chapbook, The End of the Body, which is part of The Fifth Voice, published by Toadlily Press in its Quartet Series. The other is a favorite (also out from Toadlily Press), By Way Of. It features chaps by 4 poets: Diana Alvarez, Emily Carr, Matthew Nienow and Diana Woodcock.

Check out the Toadlily website for more info. To enter, leave a comment with your name on this post letting me know you're interested. You have until April 30. Then on May 1, I'll randomly select a name and ship the books (postage on me) to the winner. It's that easy.