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    Monday, April 25, 2005

    Superstar Poet? or not...

    Upon reading the NYTimes, which, as you can see I read with quite regularity. I came across a book review and article all rolled into one on Jorie Graham. The article was a discussion of poetry’s sort of subtlety and the way in which certain people sneak onto the syllabi of MFA students everywhere, start popping up winning awards, publishing books with major publishing houses, and therefore seem to earn the title of Superstar Poet; Graham of course being that person. Jorie Graham has a considerable resume, winning many awards, a Pulitzer and MacArthur Genius Grant included, and she teaches at Iowa etc. But the journalist wants to know how this Superstar status came about, and frankly, so do I. Is she a superstar because of her accomplishments, and if so, then shouldn’t her poetry reach these epic heights and reflect her awards? I personally have never been a big fan of Graham’s work and mostly enjoyed her poetry for its risk taking and unwillingness to conform to the status quo. But one can only read on that enjoyment for about 10 pages or so and then must take a break, put the book down and return to it for another 10 pages or so another day. You appreciate her work in small doses and move on. Graham’s books are not books that you take to bed and snuggle up with, refer to again and again, and lend out to other friends most deserving of a good read. (Ex. Sarah Manguso-The Captain Lands in Paradise, Mary Jo Bang-Louise in Love)

    The reviewer in this article equates her new book to tinfoil, well ok, he doesn’t exactly do just that but he comes close. He closes his review with this question: “So have we gotten a little ahead of ourselves in appointing our Major Poets? If we think such writers should embody their times, then maybe not: the haze at the center of Graham's work neatly reflects the current confusion and fragmentation of American poetry. But if we think a Major Poet is meant to be more than this, then maybe we should be arguing over these matters more often -- and more publicly. Because if the books the poetry world leaves in the laps of its slumbering audience are compromises rather than necessities, isn't it likely that readers will wake only to rub their eyes, thumb a few pages, sigh and go right back to sleep again?” This is a question that I most thoroughly want answered. What do we want from our Major Poets? How do we unify a seemingly fragmented world of poetry with all of its dips and divides and fizzures?

    Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    Outraged

    This is not a Hansel & Gretel post.

    I'm outraged. Pharmacists, not all, are balking at filling morning after pill prescriptions. This enrages me to no end, restricting women's options and choices are just wrong. The morning after pill does not cause an abortion to occur. It stops the egg from being released which in turn stops impregnation, no fertilized egg, no fetus, no baby, no contact. How is that abortion? Why is it that women's issues are constantly berated in courts when a man can walk into a pharmacy and purchase viagara to increase his libido and not a single person is opposed to that. Why is that a man's sexual drive is more important than a women's right to obtain and use birth control or the morning after pill? A man can walk around with a full on hard on but a woman can be harrassed and told "no not today" because she made a choice not to be pregnant. Who left that responsibility to a pharmacist? Why do pharmacists believe that they don't have to comply when a prescription is handed over? It's sad and so sick.

    The Hansel & Gretel Forest 6

    6
    Gretel reaches for a candy apple,
    it twists and writhes on the branch
    little weasel eyes, it bites—
    runs away on 4 legs, a caramel back striped

    Oh where are the grackles and sea gulls now?
    the yard is built upon something
    besides graham cracker, a bubbling in the far west corner
    the start of disintegration

    sleep in a liquorice roped hammock
    but really it’s a breakable and bitter bramble
    thinks she can swing
    it’s airless here and never breezy
    a whoosh and fall to the hard packed dirt

    in fact, everything is hard
    eye-candy-days are over
    the house is a sealed up
    rounded and well worn—a boulder
    a lost lover entombed

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    The Hansel & Gretel Forest 5

    5
    the owl has alighted on the smoke stack
    the ribbon goes down—
    but

    the house is upon them, just then
    Gretel is nibbling away
    running a quick flick of her tongue
    around the red swirls
    Hansel has ventured in
    picking lollipop flowers
    stuffing M&M walk ways in his pockets

    she, the beldame, has donned a red cloak,
    covers the blood stained arms
    blue hair ribbon round her neck, neat bow
    she is intrigued by Gretel’s latch bone
    a skin graft magician
    can smell the way they embrace blood
    young and not tough but pillowy
    she heard the chainsaw, the dog jaws,
    the clamp down of the neighborhood
    the phone call to catch the intruders
    she has free reign should she just touch
    a soft formed elbow
    the interior of the 17 mile drive, hers
    when a dog goes missing it is all the more cause for revenge

    her appearance—
    “my dears, please feast away”
    startling in crimson, alluring at best
    the hood runs deep, shocking violet eyes
    swimming in black

    Hansel at the window pulls off a shingle
    an offering for their/his beldame
    promptly accepts a bed, a loose button clasp
    spit fire grill of pig, roasted rosemary potatoes—
    a hard on is ensured.

    The half eaten house has begun to mend itself
    has swallowed hostess and Hansel whole
    she leads him in by the crook of his elbow
    a tightly sealed front door, molded shut.

    The Hansel & Gretel Forest 4

    4
    pop out down a rabbit hole
    a quick shake a transferring of tales
    an ignoring of reason and it’s believed
    take liberties, borrow

    wide eyed owl has snatched a hair ribbon
    scalp, skin, hair, and blood caught in a talon
    waiting at that rabbit hole for a bit of blue

    through all of this closing in Hans & Gret
    have been moving steadily ahead
    catch the thief, quick

    of course, the house is still waiting
    half blind inhabitant, sugar cookie sides and all

    coming to the gate of candy canes
    red and white striped stickiness, they’re hooked

    Friday, April 15, 2005

    The Hansel & Gretel Forest 3

    3
    hand to hand they race
    abandon the saw
    use the tip to prick a vein
    faster and faster the blood is streaming
    mottled leaves sticky as paste

    what if the wind picks up?
    watch the sea gulls head towards the ripple of water
    then you’ll always know east

    until the canopy of dead brambles
    entwined with thick arty edges,
    reaching fingers, tips, elbows
    crooked and ever, over reaching. the leafy greens
    have slipped off creating hardened ends reaching beyond
    blocking out the sky
    the underneath is only more—
    weathered in a spider web. No sun.
    mossy flower beds, mud puddles

    Hansel tries to kick through,
    but the earth falls away, slippery shoe shod
    where are your sea gull feathers now?
    so whitewashed, gleaming smooth

    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    The Hansel & Gretel Forest 2

    2
    Gretel can’t see Hansel

    the inside is dark
    outside daylight with whooshing cars
    Hansel finally breaks through
    winded, his motor petering out on empty
    a dogs locked jaw hooked on the chain

    little yellow, little beady, closing in

    Gretel at the base of a lone sequoia
    made more monstrous
    by her petite frame
    30 feet down hill asleep

    stop looking grackle
    there are no crumbs here

    Hansel can’t see Gretel

    he is heaving
    a flinging downward a spiral towards her

    The Hansel & Gretel Forest-1

    The Hansel & Gretel Forest

    1
    the forest is dense. can be found
    along side the 17 mile drive.
    appears right as you make a twist.
    a look back, beyond the deadwood shoulder.
    inside gated communities, a lie in wait.
    we’re not talking portals
    but grackles that peck and haw after bread crumbs.


    they can make it through. little yellow eyes.


    the grass is lying sideways, leaning to the right.
    broken twigs point west.
    Gretel likes to break open her calf bone—sinewy and sweet—
    a drop of blood here and here and here.
    little red arrows.
    if you ask real nice she’ll show you the dent,
    little clasp of skin, flapping back and forth.


    this is only a bit of it. a sliver of story.
    the entering in, can sweep you right under the rug.
    supposing you make it as far as that

    grackle, caw caw
    hop and stop short
    soldier of trees seem solid

    pull out the chain saw. happy
    hacking Hansel. Gretel has already
    slipped through. now you’re separate.
    the rumble will stir the residents. they’ll send for the dogs—

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    14 Hills Reading-Valencia Street Books

    Fourteen Hills Reading
    April 19, 2005 at 7pm
    Valencia Street Books
    569 Valencia Street (between 16th & 17th)

    POETRY, FICTION AND DRAMA READINGS BY contributors:
    T.M. McNally
    Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
    Sam Hurwitt
    Cedar Sigo
    , and
    Readings Translations of H.E. Sayeh by Chad Sweeney & Mojdeh Marashi

    Come support your local press and local literary community.
    FREE liquor and possibly cheese.

    Friday, April 08, 2005

    red right ankle-take 2

    Somersault

    they’re just words—
    words stacked on end tables
    heaved into black smoke
    down twisted highways, skirt the edge of mountains
    series of letters ‘round your neck
    alphabet soup mix, fruit loop bowls
    my tiny twine string
    sometimes edible begets
    a permanent engraved arm band

    deep gauged rivulets run to my left
    water marks are long and lean
    hand packed sand to build
    like winter snow men-caked in ice

    when I whisper into your ear
    I say things like:
    Whisker tickles, harpy heroines, droopy faced dogs
    You swat at your ear
    You say things like:
    Did you hear the buzz? It was close this time.

    *
    yellow haired dog, orange cap
    I see your floating stick

    *
    cartwheels down the pier
    stripped down to my underwear
    on the ledge that you could finger
    removing it only for a moment for a fishing pole
    a child’s waist


    the words spell out
    s e a f o a m g r e e n
    slimy seal skin rocks

    Little boy says Move it, move it.
    I hate you, I hate you.
    a gum full of syllables
    low rumble in your throat
    Other Little twin says nothing, sly—

    *
    orange cap & yellow dog
    still shore waiting

    *
    the seagull is one step ahead
    cupped palm, my inward turned ankle
    open and shut beak
    brown mottled and smooth
    birdshit is directly down,
    cock your head over the edge
    Do you see it clinging to the sides?

    pull in that crawdaddy—yank
    tight on your imaginary line
    hold on to a bit of something
    7 inch crab legs, maybe

    turn the spigot, full on stream
    a splash to the silver paneled sides
    deep grooved wood is sinking
    pock marked checker board
    the queen moves in zig zags
    the rook lies in wait
    a tumble and toss down a drainpipe
    you’re sea born now
    sizzle and pop goes the sea spray, drop in smooth

    boards splinter off into the Pacific
    little sugar cubes popped into tea
    swirl and let us ride a wave
    until we somersault onto sand
    heaved and heart beat happy

    *
    Yellow-orange
    shift and slough off
    careful not to slip under

    *
    poke around with a big stick
    letters appear in pockets
    under armpits and behind knee bends
    keep collecting to make words
    find your way home
    deep in a blanket fold—sleep

    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    this is the story of your red right ankle

    This afternoon I'm going on a walk in Pacifica with my MFA workshop in poetry. We were to bring a poem with us sort of describing the pier and our expectations of the walk etc. Here's what I came up with-

    Somersault

    they’re just words—
    words stacked on end tables
    heaved into black smoke
    down twisted highways, skirt the edges of mountains
    series of letters ‘round your neck
    alphabet soup mix, fruit loop bowls
    my tiny twine string
    sometimes edible begets
    a permanent engraved arm band

    deep gauged rivulets run to my left
    water marks are long and lean
    hand packed sand to build
    like winter snow men-caked in ice

    when I whisper into your ear
    I say things like:
    Whisker tickles, harpy heroines, droopy faced dogs
    You swat at your ear
    You say things like:
    Did you hear the buzz? It was close this time.

    when we approach the pier we start dropping off
    boards splinter off into the Pacific
    little sugar cubes popped into tea
    swirl and let us ride a wave
    until we somersault onto sand
    heaved and heart beat happy

    poke around with a big stick
    letters appear in pockets
    under armpits and behind knee bends
    keep collecting to make words
    find your way home
    deep in a blanket fold—sleep

    Monday, April 04, 2005

    Robots on the March breed Robot Injuries

    This weekend I went to a Robot show called Robot’s on the March at ATA, Artists’ Television Access. The show featured a bunch of artistic robotic statements. My friend Malia got to make her own robot at a DIY robot station. The robot’s name is EAT and it has teeth that chomp when you press its switch. She’s very crafty and also one of my genius friend of which I have 2.

    The robot injury was sustained later on in the evening. There was a pair of robots that were attached to giant balloons that were floating around the show. They kept floating up and down and bumping into people and walls and the ceiling. One of the robots floated down towards me as I was thinking "I could totally make one of these robots who needs physics" and as I turned my head, its little propeller hit me right on the forehead before bouncing back up towards the ceiling. I have 2 little scratches.

    This did not stop me from enjoying the rest of the show, injury in tow. Other robots included: one robot that played Nintendo, mostly Zelda, by pressing the controller keys randomly, one robot that looked like a flower and waved its ‘petals’ around, one robot that picked up a beer by pressing a series of switches and controls in order to move the hand and the beer holder-the catch-you had to look through 2 monitors rather than directly at the robot thereby limiting yourself to 2 perspectives, a bunch of robots are still in the window of ATA and will be there for one month and are solar powered, and the flying robots, mentioned previously, looked like little airplanes and were able to communicate with each other through a series of flashing lights, and of course there were more and more and more and more.

    I wish I had pictures to share but I did not have time to grab my camera prior to the robot show. There’s always next time. But I did leave with my injury and a stamp of William Shatner on my hand.
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