Saturday, February 26, 2005

clapping with joy by price Posted by Hello

Reading Part II

The Reading went well. I used up almost all of my time—I had two minutes to spare which is damn good for me. I talked a bit, tried the small talk thing. It helped a great deal to have the discussion here on the blog beforehand, it made me feel more comfortable.

I hated the space tonight and it was a full house like maybe 60 to 70 people. The best thing about the reading was the food afterwards. What is it about food after ten o’clock at night? It tastes so good. And I had good friends show up so we laughed and then oddly, someone came up to the table and asked me for my autograph which has NEVER happened before. I was so freaked out by it all I almost spelt my name wrong. My best friend said she had a vision tonight of me signing my book. I don’t know if I will ever feel that comfortable.

Oh and another funny thing was, the woman who wanted me to sign her chapbook said, oh and it would be nice if you wrote something and I thinking, what the hell. So not only did I almost write my name incorrectly I wrote something lame like nice to eat with you.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Among Men by Jason Shinder

Even at the moment
of kissing a girl

I was a boy--
there was always
another boy

looking to see
how long
I could place

my lips
on her lips
without stopping

without ever knowing
I was kissing
And then

what to tell the guys
coming out
of their coats,

asking, How'd it go?
did I get any?

Why don't you
just get laid?

my father said.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

moon by Gockel Posted by Hello

bad hair

Okay so my confession is I have never, ever watched American Idol until last night. It was only because all these all poets were making a fuss and I felt a bit left out that I turned it on in the first place. And now because my life travels in circles I had my hair cut today and I look like that young Italian guy with curly shoulder length hair, which would be okay EXCEPT I AM NOT A BOY!!!! This is not good. Now do I not only have 30 min. to fill at the reading but I have really bad boy hair.

Oh and the hairstylist was horrific, she cut herself three times and was bleeding on my head then she ended our time together by BLOWIN IN MY EAR which I just have say, if she was trying to pick me up, maybe making me look like the geek from American Idol who almost got kicked off last night was not the way to go.

sun Posted by Hello

Get Out

If you are in my blog get out and go read C.Dale Young’s post for the day. He has brilliant advice about publishing and how to deal with rejection. Now if anyone would answer my question about the best time to send submissions. Does the time of year make a difference? It seems I get into more journals in Winter verses the Spring or Fall. What is up with that? It is possible that the gas fumes from being inside during a Minnesota Winter make me a better writer but I would like to hope it has something to do with the journals.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

my roadtrip Posted by Hello


This weekend will be the weekend from hell. A lot of good things are happening but they all seem to be happening at the same time. Saturday I am teaching two workshops on Creativity & Children for The Rainbow Family Conference (it is an amazing conference) and that night I have my reading and the next day my best friend gets married, now if you throw in a kids birthday party that Bella just has to go to, you have my weekend.

The really sucky thing about having a busy weekend is that you spend all week getting really stressed out about it and I can’t change any of the above things. Now to take a deep breath and figure out what I am wearing.

Today in the mail I received my copy of the Comstock Review with my poem “Speak” in it; I have been a finalist three years in a row for their poetry competition always a bridesmaid never a bride.

Anyway I got over it because the galleys for Pleiades came in and my poem is on page 31. It has been a year and two weeks from the time the poem was accepted till now and it will be in the next issue. I really like Pleiades and I plan to break out a good bottle of wine.

Essential Crap

When I was a little girl I would go into the Public Library of Sarah Orne Jewitt house and sit in that small room and feel overwhelmed by all the books there were to read. In my child’s mind it held all the books in the world and the first time I step inside a “real” library I was depressed for days because I knew I could never read all those books in my lifetime. I love knowledge; to me the mind is the sexiest part of the body.

Today I am feeling overwhelmed by all the things I need to read and not enough time to do it. It’s rather irritating how making a living cuts into my poetry life but I suppose that is the way of all artists.

There has been a bit of talk in blog land lately about what I call “essential crap” the poems we need to write to get to the other poems we need to write. Rebecca Loudon said Each poem insists, each poem carries the seeds of the next poem in its mouth. and I think that was the most brilliant comment I’ve read in a long time.

When I stop judging my work as good or bad I opened it up to another possibility. I know this about Art. I know that the artist who is afraid/ judgmental tends to never make great art and the one who throws himself/herself into this a place without judgment has no limitations.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Career Day

Today for career day my daughter gave a presentation on being a potter. She followed three nurses, a doctor, two mechanics and a vet. I really love my kids. She spoke about what a wonderful job it would be to have when you grow up because you can get really, really messy and no one tells you to wash your hands. And you get make anything you want out of mud, she then showed her mud balls to the class. It’s pretty safe to say she was a first grade hit. Sadly there were no poets....

Oh books, beautiful books

There’s not much I would not do for books. I am horribly addicted and honestly it is one of the few things my love and I fight about. I am an addict. I buy them secretly, hide them in my car and I have way too many I’ve not read. But I know what it is like to grow up not having “your own” books and living in Haiti where all you can find in English are Bibles, for a pagan I’ve spent way too much time in the Old Testament.

Anyway in my fight yesterday the word glutton was used and I can live with that. I think I have enough poetry now to read till the next ice age and it’s possible that once I start reviewing books I won’t love them as much. It could happen—that’s the statement that ended the fight so I am sticking to it:)

Monday, February 21, 2005

For The Birds at the Chinese Market Who Sing When the Lid is Open

I envy you the darkness
the four heads of your brothers
a quartet of voices silent with waiting
and I envy you the child’s hand
the way it flutters there
with indecision how he decides the lid
must go and I envy you the song
filling the boy with wonder
He calls to his friends to explore
and then the lids returns, each song
stops begins again and the boy
plays this game of rhythm
and there is no reason.
Yet you sing when the box
is open and I envy you
the dark.


I've been thinking a lot about what essential poems are for me in my life. The things I need to write, what I feel turns over and over in me. It isn’t always what turns out well, in fact it sometimes seems like those poems are the ones I never feel I do well. They are “too big” to tell. Dorrianne said to always try to put on paper the poems that are too much, those are words which challenge us to keep our work fresh.

Bella Waring said, when you write a poem for its own sake, this is a holy practice that, once you start to publish, you are in danger of losing.

I’ve been thinking too much about the book, my next steps in writing and I’ve forgotten the holy practice of poetry.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Isabel's First Grade Spelling Test

Am I the only one who likes her words better?:)

1. Sope =soap
2. Rore =roar
3. Bote =boat
4. Lofe =loaf
5. Gole =goal
6. Wode =road
7. Koste =coast

Thursday, February 17, 2005

yep Posted by Hello


The Reading went well except that now I’m tired and my voice hurts which hardly ever happens to me. It was nice to see Steve Mueske there—he is such a nice guy even though I forgot the book I’ve been promising him.

I get a bit wound up before I read and I am naturally dizzy so I tend to forget things. I didn’t read enough poems. I have a whole 30 minutes to read next week and my friend told me tonight I need to make small talk. I hate small talk. I want to go through the poems and not explain. I figure if you are explaining, the poem already doesn’t work. But of course, that is not what she means, she wants me to tell cute stories but I am DARK…I have no cute stories.

The ironic thing is I am funny in real life but not in my writing. It is like I store up all the deep things I think about and put them all down so maybe it's hard for her to see another side me. Whatever the case, there is still 30 minutes to burn next week and that is a hell of a lot of poem unless I talk in between. Maybe I will sing, I could always sing, that ought to clear the room.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dark Blonde by Belle Waring


and I was stupid in it. I thought a doctor would not be unkind.
One wouldn’t wait for a laboring woman to dilate to ten cm.

He’d brace one hand up his patient’s vagina,
clamp the other on her pregnant belly, and force the fetus

through an eight centimeter cervix.
She tore, of course. Bled.

Stellate lacerations extend from the cervix
like an asterisk. The staff nurses stormed and hissed

but the head nurse shrugged, He doesn’t like to wait around.
No other doctor witnessed what he did. The man was an elder

in his church. He chattered and smiled broadly as he worked.
He wore the biggest gloves we could stock.

It was my first real job and I was scared in it.
One night a patient of his was admitted

bleeding. The charge nurse said, He won’t rip her.
You take this one.

So I took her.
She quickly delivered a dead baby boy.

Not long dead—you could tell by the skin, intact.
But long enough.

When I wrapped him a blanket, the doctor flipped open the cover
to let the mother view the body, according to the custom.

The baby lay beside her.
He lay stretched out and still.

What a pity, the doctor said.
He seized the baby’s penis between his own forefinger and thumb.

It was the first time I had ever seen a male not circumcised
and I was taken aback by the beauty of it.

Look, said the doctor, A little boy. Just what we wanted.
His hand, huge on the child, held the penis as if he’d found

a lovecharm hidden in his grandmother’s linen.
And then he dropped it.

The mother didn’t make a sound
When the doctor left, she said to me in a far flat voice.

I called and told him I was bleeding bad.
He told me not to worry.

I don’t remember what I said, Just that
When I escorted her husband from the lobby

The doctor had already gone home. The new father followed me
with a joyful strut. I thought Sweet Jesus Christ

—Did the doctor speak to you?
—No ma’am, the father said.

I said quick-as-I-could-so-I wouldn’t-have-to-think—
The baby didn’t make it.

The man doubled over. I told him all wrong.
I would do it all over again.

Please, sir. Sit down. I’m so very sorry to tell you—

No. It’s been sixteen years.
I would say, I am your witness.

No. I have never told the whole truth.
Forgive me.

It was my first job
And I was lost in it.

-Belle Waring

Brilliant Post

Charles Jensen has an amazing post

Yes I Accept

Today I felt horrid so I called in sick. I find the older I get the less I want to push my body or I find that when I do “push” my body it breaks. I began my official role as editor today and spent a few hours doing submissions. I am reading the stuff that already has been gone through so it has not been painful at all. It is teaches me a lot about my own submissions and lord love the people who know how to write a good cover letter, those ones that go on and on do not built you up for a good poem.

Today helped me understand those “near miss letters” which I bitched about a few weeks ago. The fact is, I am one of several people who need to accept a poem before it goes to print. I found one poem out of about 20 that I loved but the other have to love it too or at least like it a great deal. So okay, I am growing up a little, it was actually kind for those editors to write to me and tell me my poems were thrown around at the staff meeting because that means someone (god loved ‘em) wanted my work and was willing to fight for it.

At first she believed in the phantom heart
something that beat outside of herself
slowly, the way one watched birds
from a window, feeling the air
but there was no movement inside
her room and suddenly
it was there, a heart's thump
and her only desire was to open it.
A lid to a box, look inside
follow the right ventricle to an aorta
bring it to her mouth, a red wafer
so she would be forgiven. For what
she did not know, but she must be
forgiven. All her life calling the slow tick
then the tock. It was not a lost leg
or an arm she mourned nor the absent flesh
but this loss was more of a hum,
constant buzz of never reaching
far enough into herself finding
one place where a heart could live.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Good Mail

I worked on the manuscript for five hours today, now if I can get in the habit of doing this every week. It seems like I have two or three manuscripts going, I am always thinking of my next book which is an odd feeling considering I don’t have ONE yet.

I think I’ve come to the conclusion today that my writing life is very much like my real life. I am hardly ever satisfied. I don’t mean I’m not happy—I’m deliriously happy at some points but I always wonder what is around the corner, what the next thing is which is probably why it took me so long to find a good love but that’s another story.

In the mail today, good things; oh and I love my new mail man, he comes two hours earlier and he does not drop any of my mail in the yard. I’ve actually spent time in the past looking for the “pretend” acceptance letters which may or may not exist.

Anyway the Burnside Review came today and I am there along with Ms. Loudon, Paul Guest and Dorriane Laux. One of the cool things is that along with being in print with people I know, I have the poem I wrote while studying with Dorrianne. It was the first poem I wrote in class. The other thing is that they led with my two poems in the journal which is a nice surprise. I am hardly ever the first poem unless it’s alphabetical and all the A’s have been killed off. So I will take my present today and I will be content, at least for a moment.

Stolen from C.D borrowed from Suzanne, Charles and Laura

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida/ Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Have you ever had one of those days where it feels incredibly idiotic this notion of being a poet? I am in constant war with myself. I still feel incredibly sad about not going to Breadloaf because I will be teaching. When I was at the conference I felt so confident and tonight I spent the evening just trying to find the order of the book, for like the 100 time. A book that needs to go in the mail tomorrow, a book I want to be perfect but never will be. It feels foolish today to be a poet when I am so many other things without trying.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

my day Posted by Hello

poor mommy

Today I attended a roller rink with 17 of Isabel’s closest friends for her 7 th birthday and if you haven’t been to a roller rink since the early 80’s not much has changed, not even the music. I haven’t seen grown people dancing to Queen in a very long time, the only thing that seems to be different is that things glow in the dark which if you are trying to keep track of 17 kids is very helpful.

It is days like today when I believe every inch of poetry in my body has been sucked out by strobe lightening. I think of those people with their desks, papers and books and I wonder if I will ever have time to write. I had to hide in the bathroom for 15 minutes to read Celan for sanity. Maybe I should try alcohol.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The poetry gods must be working extra hard this week. I received a phone call yesterday asking if I would consider coming on as a poetry editor for The Cortland Review. It is one of my favorite journals and I have been reading it for years and my thoughts are today that I will try it for three months and see how it works in with my writing. No matter how it all plays out, it was nice to be asked.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how editors shaped the face of poetry and how really good editors respond and work with writers and I guess the universe it answering my questions. Hopefully this will be a good experience and may I never write really horrible rejections letters.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


For years he thought madness must be peaceful-a positive letting
go—and he looked forward to a time when he would no longer
need to hold on like a man hanging from a high branch. He even
thought it would restful, as if madness were an interior spa
where he could reclaim himself before rejoining the daily agitation.
As a result, he hadn’t expected the noise, the discord, like a radio
stuck between stations, a multitude of voices, each with advice, en-
treaties, commands, but hardly audible, just noise, static, no way
to bring it to a halt, and vexing him even as he slept. Now he knew
that if he found his way back, he would work harder, be reliable.
Such were his promises, but the choice was no longer his to make.
It had become confused with the tumult, the racket, like a motor
rushing out of control, pistons rattling, metal fracturing, gobs of
oil flung off.

I am sooooo happy

Check out Suzanne Frischkorn great news


I will be reading in St. Paul, Minnesota on February 17 at 7pm, email me if you want directions and I will also be reading in Northeast Minneapolis on 26th for the Looseleaf Poetry Festival.
For you in the Portland area Dorriane Laux just sent me an email and she will be reading February 16th at the Blue Monk (3341 SE Belmont, PDX). Drinks at 7. The Reading starts around 7:30. It is for the Winter issue of Burnside Review which I am also in as well as our very own Rebecca I am not sure if Rebecca is reading but I may have to skip my own to attend hers.

I am glad both are close together. Looseleaf is forty minutes and I have never read that long and I am more nervous about it. I am afraid I may have to break into my tap dance routine plus they are billing me as a Forché’ protégée—no pressure what so ever!!! Personally I think if everyone’s expectations are low they are all pleasantly surprised and one can only be a let down compared to Carolyn Forché’ and besides I am my own voice. My head is very twisted on this issue.

Have I mentioned I am reading The Monster Lives of Boys and Girls, by Eleni Sikelianos. I like it a great deal, the whole book is set up in a different way and it is about half the normal size in height and fits into your pocket. It reminded me of those bibles we had to carry around in middle school. It was in love at first sight. I have so many books to read, I am forgetting that I have one to write or shall we say rewrite. A sad, sad truth.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Good Mail

Okay so I am sick of this black background and I tried to change it and I made the entire links tidy bowl blue. Oh well I will try again later.

Great things came in the mail today, my new issue of Poetry and it had two poems by Sharon Olds that she read at the conference. It is really wonderful to hear a poem out loud before it goes to print; there is something beautiful in that for me. And I spend my last Christmas gift card and got the soundtrack from Garden State, The Monster Lives of Boys and Girls and Out of Silence by Rukeyser. I have wanted that book for a long time.

Sadly I am still looking for the Orchard, yes my children hide things that well or someone put it away in an odd spot. I of course bear no responsibility to the fact that it has gone missing. But please have mercy on my soul and stop telling me what a good book it is. I know it is in this house somewhere.

I suppose I could break down and buy another one but I am infamous at our Barnes and Noble for returning books I don’t like. I frighten them, especially when they tell me something is out of print, like Carolyn Forche’s Blue Hour which is what, two years old? Yes, I know I get this weird passionate look on my face that the general public doesn’t understand even at Barnes and Noble. Now be a good lad and point me away from women’s fiction.

I’m off to read my treasures. My daughter has me signed me up for a bonding experience with 23 other 10 year olds tomorrow so this may be the only time I see in days.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Helpuful Hint #352

Patty Smith used had these great folders at the conference, she put all her poems in sheet protectors and then she could put her work in order for the reading without having all those loose pages. I really love this idea and it has been very helpful in putting the manuscript together b/c I can change the order and it already looks like a book which helps my brain immensely.

Eduardo Corral in one of his previous posts suggested taping the pages to the walls, and I did try it but my girls took that as a free for all and it took me weeks to get the tape marks off so I am sticking with my sheet protectors.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

She is studying the place where flies
have gathered to lay their eggs, eyes sinking
into the belly of a fish. She’s investigating
life with the point of her stick, one small flick
and the universe is over. The trout returns
to the pond belly up, floats, turns
and now is a boat to be guided
by six year old currents. When done
she’ll gather the flat stones from the shore
bury then unbury the dead, look for signs
of movement or change. It does not matter
that everything is dying. Last week
two wings beat in her hand then
stopped. She does not know
that the round song of her body
will straighten. All around
the world is open like a cut.


I feel very boring lately. I am sure a hangover does this to a girl but I think I felt boring before the martinis last night. I believe in waves but I miss the hunger to get everything down on paper. I like hunger.

Pollock’s writings on painting are amazing. It is always interests me how someone can be so fearless in one area and so fearful in another, that someone being brilliant does not cut across the board. It is almost as if he used it all up on his art, his risk taking and it left him mad and broken.

I use to believe I would give up anything to be a great artist but then I found out sanity was underrated. And I don’t believe you need to suffer to reach the core of creativity.
I say I believe that, but I do have this small voice that says the hunger is gone because I am happy. I am in love, my girls are doing well. Is it possible to have all that and hunger????

Friday, February 04, 2005

Oh the pretty drinks...

Well I went to my best friend’s bachelorette party tonight. You can tell we are getting old—I’m home before one and I can actually type. She is getting married the day after my reading on the 24th of this month. I was totally freaked out when I saw the invitation because I thought it was the day of my reading. Of course I would be at her wedding but everything had gone to press for the posters and such. I would have really needed to come up with some kick ass excuse.

There is so much to write about right now and I am not sure if I should say anything out loud. It is possible I will be leaving next month to meet C.K Williams, Robert Bly and Heath McHugh when they read for an invent my friend is putting together. She invited me to stay with her and “hang out” with them. I am not sure what I am going to do. It really feels unfair to my family to pack up for another trip but it also feels stupid not to go. I am tossing all this around in my head.

Oh well I really need to get off my ass and work on this book. I haven’t had a rush of poems sine the plane ride home and then I lost them all because my computer was out of reach. I will make time for myself to write this weekend. I will (she says clicking her feet together.)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

now imagine this a million times bigger Posted by Hello


"When I am in a painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc, because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well."

I read this quote by Jackson Pollock to my students today and halfway through I realized I needed to substitute painting for the word poetry. When I remember this about poetry, that there is nothing I can do to destroy it, when I let it have its own life force, it is amazing.

At the conference we were talking about, at small group time, why we were there and I found myself saying the most truthful thing. Poetry is who I love. I love writing the same way I love my children. It does not matter if they are good. It doesn’t even matter if they love me back. It is this thing that rises up inside I cannot explain and lately I am realizing I don’t have to.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Bitter Tea

Well it is official the last positive energy from my time in Florida left my body today. It is amazing how quickly two children and two cats can drain it out of you. I don’t even remember what it felt like to wake up in a bed without elbows under my chin. And I am seriously depressed about it. None of my goals are met, the dishes aren’t done and I think my youngest child smells funny even though I’ve bathed her several times.

The bad thing about reading other people blogs is that you get to see how much free time everyone else has to write. The "I am drinking red wine and writing a poem" is making me sucidal so I need to stop reading blogs tonight. Well poetry is not happening in this house at the moment and I think I may be bitter, yep I’m bitter. I need tea and some more sleep.