Monday, December 31, 2012

the new year

What I'll be up to in 2013:

Soldiers are coming home. Families and communities are welcoming them back. I want to probe the seams of family, community and the military for my poetry project. There’s a small phrase in a poem by William Carlos Williams that has guided me since my son enlisted in the Army two years ago: “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” My poems for this project are about the “there.” A grant from the NEA will provide me with funding and time so that I can travel, do further research and writing. I plan to visit military bases around the country and compile personal memories, oral histories and interviews. My poetry will be about the intersection of family, home and community, where parents, spouses and children of returning warriors live. I will also be readying myself for my son’s upcoming deployment. I will write about this place and bring back news through poetry so we can better understand its landscape.
(from my NEA poetry fellowship application)

Friday, December 28, 2012


Cold eye moon.
Last of the year.
Good night moon.
Good bye year.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Belle Harbor NY 11/11/12

The Wound-Dresser

by Walt Whitman

An old man bending I come among new faces,
Years looking backward resuming in answer to children,
Come tell us old man, as from young men and maidens that love me,
(Arous'd and angry, I'd thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war,
But soon my fingers fail'd me, my face droop'd and I resign'd myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead;)
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these chances,
Of unsurpass'd heroes, (was one side so brave? the other was equally brave;)
Now be witness again, paint the mightiest armies of earth,
Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?


O maidens and young men I love and that love me,
What you ask of my days those the strangest and sudden your talking recalls,
Soldier alert I arrive after a long march cover'd with sweat and dust,
In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly shout in the rush of successful charge,
Enter the captur'd works—yet lo, like a swift running river they fade,
Pass and are gone they fade—I dwell not on soldiers' perils or soldiers' joys,
(Both I remember well—many of the hardships, few the joys, yet I was content.)

But in silence, in dreams' projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand,
With hinged knees returning I enter the doors, (while for you up there,
Whoever you are, follow without noise and be of strong heart.)

Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground after the battle brought in,
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground,
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof'd hospital,
To the long rows of cots up and down each side I return,
To each and all one after another I draw near, not one do I miss,
An attendant follows holding a tray, he carries a refuse pail,
Soon to be fill'd with clotted rags and blood, emptied, and fill'd again.

I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand to dress wounds,
I am firm with each, the pangs are sharp yet unavoidable,
One turns to me his appealing eyes—poor boy! I never knew you,
Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you.


On, on I go, (open doors of time! open hospital doors!)
The crush'd head I dress, (poor crazed hand tear not the bandage away,)
The neck of the cavalry-man with the bullet through and through I examine,
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life struggles hard,
(Come sweet death! be persuaded O beautiful death!
In mercy come quickly.)

From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood,
Back on his pillow the soldier bends with curv'd neck and side falling head,
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on the bloody stump,
And has not yet look'd on it.

I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep,
But a day or two more, for see the frame all wasted and sinking,
And the yellow-blue countenance see.

I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet-wound,
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me holding the tray and pail.

I am faithful, I do not give out,
The fractur'd thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdomen,
These and more I dress with impassive hand, (yet deep in my breast a fire, a burning flame.)


Thus in silence in dreams' projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals,
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night, some are so young,
Some suffer so much, I recall the experience sweet and sad,
(Many a soldier's loving arms about this neck have cross'd and rested,
Many a soldier's kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)

Monday, September 24, 2012


Danse Russe

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

mirrored evening

I'm reading Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack and Honey. She 
has said she gave these lectures in order to learn about poetry.
I met her once. She was sweet, smart and kind of spacey in a good
way. The essays are like that too. The first one is a long
investigation on poetry and the moon. At the end she quotes
Maurice Blanchot on light, which is something I spend a lot
of time thinking about.

Repose in light can be--tends to be--peace through light,
light that appeases and gives peace; but repose in light
is also repose--deprivation of all external help and impetus--
so that nothing comes to disturb, or to pacify, the pure
movement of the light...Repose in light: is it sweet
appeasement through light? Is it the difficult deprivation
of oneself and of all of one's own movement, a position
in the light without repose? Here two infinitely different
experiences are separated by almost nothing.

Yesterday on the evening of the fall equinox the light on the lake
was there and not there and it was difficult to know where to look.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Libra Horoscope for week of September 6, 2012

"Disappointments should be cremated, not embalmed," said the aphorist Henry S. Haskins. That's good advice for you right now, Libra. It's an auspicious moment for you to set fire to your defeats, letdowns, and discouragements -- and let them burn into tiny piles of ashes. I mean all of them, stretching back for years, not simply the recent ones. There's no need to treat them like precious treasures you have an obligation to lug with you into the future. The time is right for you to deepen your mastery of the art of liberation.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

blue eyes

REH: 8/1/2008

Thinking tonight of his blue eyes
and missing my dad.
He was an original mad man.
(Who is the woman)
Circa 1960? And where.
Classic -- him with music and an audience.
A difficult, demanding, daunting, loving man.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Highland Dress, 2008, Susan Stockwell

This is for my poet friend Rebecca Loudon,
who lives across the country and is celebrating
her birthday month. Happy birthday Rebecca!

Isn't this sculpture amazing? It's life size and is made
of 19th century survey maps of the Scottish Highlands.
It was part of an exhibition at the Katonah Museum
of Art (where I work) last year on mapping as material and concept.

I'm not a dress person (in that I don't wear them much
and when I do am rather uncomfortable while wishing
I could be more at ease) but have long admired artists,
like Lesley Dill, who use the dress form in their work.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I counted my Submishmash rejections today. Oh well.
Poor dragonfly. I wrote a poem about you a long time
ago. Here's the link to Anecdote of Air.

Friday, June 15, 2012


I have a poem in UTTER a cool new
journal. Read it and let me know...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


An amazing thing it will be to travel, to write,
to be in India...coming!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


After the Mother of the Ball Turret Gunner

In sleep you are hawk-slipped near some stream

Perched on its bank, moon snagged in your rusty chest

You are back on earth a rowdy boy sailing over the lawn

I don’t wake from the nightmare of you alive

Your body mine again as we rock and doze

Sunday, June 3, 2012

more cindy

Then of course it's not much to write poems
as mothers of soldiers, because
that's what I am so am I really becoming
an other? The Poetry Foundation says
the persona is a dramatic character
"distinguished from the poet."
Cindy Sherman's personas at first seem
like charicatures. But move up close and you
notice the extreme and reverent attention
to detail. The women are simultaneously
generalized and specified. As you can see,
the photographs continue to do some work.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cindy Cindy Cindy

(The guard's hand in front of my camera to block the shot)

Finally saw the Cindy Sherman exhibition today. It felt
good to be in another museum space -- other than where
I work. And it felt good to look and listen. I admire
Sherman's determination to construct personas so fully.
She is immersed in the drama of her characters. I was moved
by that, by all the women she becomes. And yet there she is,
under the makeup and costumes, her face. I've been playing
around in my own writing recently with personas. A series
seems to be developing. Mother of warriors poems.
I'm going through an anthology of war poetry, reading randomly
and then writing a poem in response. Without planning
the poems have been in the voice of or from the perspective of
the mother of the soldier speaker or subject of the poem
from the anthology. To do this is to take on the face of that other.
Not only the face but the sound. To write in a different
octave or scale, or say as a soprano rather than alto, if that makes
sense. I think I'd like to see the Sherman before it closes, soon
unfortunately. There's more for me to learn. Of course.

Monday, May 28, 2012

bourgeois on the beach

First swim of season this afternoon. Cold. Gingerale
tingle on skin. Sunset later. Memorial Day 2012.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

hunger waiting moon
blackbear moon
snow blinding moon
wolf moon
wind moon

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Done. Finished. Submitted. Wait. Whatever.
So whatever, if it's accepted or not, I figured
it out. In school I loved algebra, which isn't to say
I was good at it. Working through clauses
of Xs and Ys and stacks of parentheses was
a satisfying/frustrating endeavor. This poem
seemed like an algebraic equation. But
without a final exactly correct
only-answer-there-could-ever-be answer.

In other news, I've been playing with a panorama
thingy on my phone and it makes cool pictures,
though it freaked out when I tried to go all 360
on it in a 180-like place.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beat back that sucking beast of a poem finally. Ready
for submission to a performance type reading series.
Hopefully it will be accepted, but for now I'm glad
the thing got made. I wrangled more with the self
than the poem. Yesterday the suck; today I'm perusing
NEA fellowship applications.
Not to mention that I found the just-purchased
salad dressing in the band-aid drawer.
So it goes usually.

Aspect of Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer's Alexandria, 1987
Ash, original and picmented photographs on treated
lead in glazed steel frame
67 X 90.5 inches

A fragment of the work

Monday, January 23, 2012


It's rainy and gray and I've written the worst poem ever
and it's due tomorrow -- or not, if I can't
wrestle it into some kind of shape, so here I am after a long
time away and with no readers here (thankfully I hope, although
if there is anyone out there that's okay too) to read this.

I think the problem with the poem is I'm stuffing
too many ideas into it because I want it to contain some big
ideas but really I'm not much good with big ideas. Today
I'd rather write about the photograph of an entire beach
of sea glass, a dump really, but the tumbledness of salt water
turned the sharp fragments into these amazingly beautiful
lozenges of color.

However, there's this poem and it's in response to an Anselm Kiefer
painting/photograph collage and if you know Kiefer you know
his subject matter is big -- as in the holocaust and war and
German memory via landscape.
The work is titled Alexandria -- another biggy,
one of the most important libraries in the world, destroyed several times
over, all those papyri up in flames, though Kiefer is also referencing
other book burnings, and how collected information can be a threat.
Then I just finished Susan Sontag's book, Regarding the Pain
of Others. About war photography primarily, especially how war
has been depicted and how those depictions shape our understandings.
And so war is a topic I've been thinking about since my son
enlisted in the Army two years ago.
Being the mother of a warrior - well, that's a whole manuscript indeed.

So along comes this painting -- collage really -- and all of its
stuff. And my readings. And my son. And then there's his buddy
who nearly died, who I don't know but somehow that doesn't matter
because it feels close, even though my son hasn't yet deployed.
The poem or me wants all of this in the mix. What a stewy mess.
(I like stew.) I'm not usually intimidated by the messy
wanderings of the associative mind, by working with disparate threads.
But I don't know. What I've written -- draft number blah/blah -- sucks
for real. I know, there's suck and then there's SUCKS. This is the latter.

It's the sounds for one. There are hardly any. Maybe the ideas
have gotten in the way of sound. Also, I now see the enumeration
of the stanzas bugs me. And then there's the assignment, which
calls for several voices -- or at least the sense of that. My attempts
there seem artificial, forced. Which in turns impacts the sounds.

See what's happening is that although now I'm feeling
a bit better as I sort the poem out -- the sucky draft is right here
staring at me -- a beautiful mess. Embrace the suck.

Friday, January 13, 2012

bluebird by Charles Bukowski

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

Sunday, January 1, 2012

new year

"Impatiently, I launched myself out of the chair, too angry, too confused, to sit
any longer; despite the heat, I stalked the floor, childishly desiring to kick
all the odd objects that cluttered it--artifacts, footstools, paintings--
out of my path-- what can you gain by showing me these photographs?"
From Alice I have Been by Melanie Benjamin
My fortune for 2012 via Radish King wonderwoman Rebecca Loudon

Prescient in that I've been writing and reading Sontag's Regarding The Pain
of Others on war photography and looking.