Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I've been saying things over at best american poetry.

My muse seems preoccupied by conjuring encouragement. I'm as surprised about it as you are, but for reasons beyond me, I endeavor to cheer up the miserable. And the nearly miserable.


The moon eclipsing and wiggling around

Friday, December 3, 2010


See that purple dot towards the bottom of the shot? It's the New Years Eve ball in Times Square, already poised to drop. We went up to the top of the Empire State to check on the year. Apparently, it's winding down and winding up.

I've been posting about poetry and whatnot overhere. All the usual emotions on hot display. Go look.


Friday, November 19, 2010

A Nut

A while back I saw a Charlie Rose episode with a bunch of neurologists talking about brains, and one guy said that our spectacular ones are the direct result of movement, of the fact that we move around.

Trees, he said, don't have brains and don't move around. All our insanely complicating thinking was, in its primary development, all about the body doing things.

This is a photograph I took of a squirrel on a tree. It is an unusual squirrel, in that it has chosen to hang upside-down, belly to the trunk of the tree, and from that entirely perpendicular-to-the-ground stance, eat a nut and look at me, your poet at large.

What I want us to do is to run our hands around the trunk of the tree and feel the rough organic of its room-temperature surface and the unyielding rock of its inside strength. It's big. It's quiet except for the susurration of its leaves above us. Now our hands circle the trunk and arrive at the squirrel, who in this mental visit behaves as if he's been paid. Squirrel is warm and soft, nothing like the long brown-grey column to which he somehow clings.

Now, our hands still on the squirrel, we catch the wee beast's eye. It is a wonderful way to concentrate the mind.

I just saw a recent interview with Christopher Hitchens who is suffering stage 4 cancer and his interlocutor asked, "Are you up to this? To a long conversation on life, death, and the universe, and all the big questions?" (as remembered) and Hitchens said, "Oh, yes. It's what I love to do. And, in fact, it is a wonderful way to concentrate the mind."

So here is the squirrel, a tiny long brown-grey column exhibiting physical warmth, hunger, and whimsey. Some time later, the poet at small sits at her desk and contemplates the photograph and everything not in the photograph, the inverted squirrel world. It is a beauty and remarkably cruel, with all its stages, from 3 and 4 to 1 and 2.

What do we for the moment conclude? The mind is made of movement. The moving mind is unconcentrated. The tree is mindless and concentrated. The dare-devil squirrel is resting and arresting. The mind arrested is a desperately needed rest. Not everyone is best off staying still by staying still. The mind, which is movement, concentrates and stays still, for some, in conversation with the world. Miserable? Shattered? Sad for a good man's bad news? Describe something carefully. The conversation's movement is the natural home and place of concentration of the mind.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dear Fonzie Arises from an Accidental Era of Hiatus to Talk about Dapple

Dear Fonzie,

It's hard to capture dapple. When I'm back at the rock with nothing but the idea "push against the rock" and the rock doesn't move and neither to I, I find out a lot about equal and opposite forces. When I'm back at the rock and I push with the intent of moving, I suppose, it doesn't move but I do. So there you have it: In the middle of this portion of your life, you find yourself confused about direction, in a bright woods.

The dapple hits the ground layer of leaves and moss which is up-buttressed by a skeleton of branches. It is pretty and hypnotizes. You are a bit cold. You miss the medications you used to use, but the wind shudders the trees and the dapple on the forest floor begins to shimmer and quiver, a bright shivering, and it calms you down.

You look up, the leaves dapple against the blue sky, with the sun slapping everything around. There are worse situations, as we love to point out at all times that we are not pointing out that there are better situations. Embrace the face of it though: You are lost in these bright woods and it is chilly.

I mention all of this because I haven't posted in a good long while, wiling away my wiles against quiet, and people, and other paper, other spaces. Today though, I have reappeared with little or no planning or intention, just a decision to channel you some straight babble, like a talkative Visigoth, following out from the word "dapple," to which my thoughts of late have been continually returning, like someone in a dream or coma half-remembering what they need to remember in order to wake up or whatever. Dapple.

I've been trying to photograph it. As above noted, it isn't at all casually doable. The intensity of actual sunlight against actual deep shadow can't be flatly done or anywise is not usually doublable. Attempts prove that what looks like dapple in real life, leaf shadows on leafy ground and fences, doesn't look as dapply as leaves against a blue sky, which in real life is only dapple with a bit of human will helping to splay the sunlight through the trees.

Anyway, I think dapple might be effective as an elevated mood stabilizer.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

From Faith to Being

This is a very thought-provoking move, from faith to being. (I come in at the 35 min mark)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Picturesque Summer Photos

This man was swimming and found something unusual.

He shows it to the lifeguards. What do we do with this?
The sandy Solomons decree that there is no way to match our lost and stranded dentistry with our toothless salty citizens. We can but bear witness and move on.

For more beachy photo goodness and a dream of middle memory see my latest post at Best American Poetry.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Picture show

My new picture show at Best American Poetry Blog.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Unloose change link

This is a good story nicely told.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fonz in Vegas

Friday, June 18, 2010

More Berry Business

Wow I've never come down with bird photo fever before.

Gotta immortalize the feathered. Gotta getta betta look.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Red Bird District II

I just took this picture of my Red Friend sitting in the berry tree, Brooklyn. Isn't he fine?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Device For Cleaning Up Children From Park

Too many kids on your lawn, or on the Great Lawn? Just rig one of these up, give it a roll.
(Really this is at the just opened fabulous new part of Brooklyn Bridge Park, right at the end of Atlantic Avenue. It is really a kiddie wonderland. A big terrific water feature play area, climbing region, swath of swings, realm of sand. Well done, all those who done it.).

Monday, June 7, 2010

More notes from the Red Bird District

Would you like to see his beady little eye? Click and see.
I am a red bird standing on a pole, I am so fancy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Code Translation through Transliteration

Father’s port of deck: The ray’s sun, whether from

real eye in sun or pro-tech sun.

We moo, truly pledge due East. Other.

Our lives are our fortunes, as is our sacred honor.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Go Outside; garden jewelry

Dear crazy and near-crazy Bleaders,

It is a beautiful day. Go outside. Going outdoors helps the crazy and fast. Your brain can tell your arm to move and it just moves, no delay, but you walk out of your bright room and down the basement stairs and it takes a full half hour to get full night vision. Why so slow? It’s chemical.

The rods in your eyes use the chemical rhodopsin to absorb photons and thereby perceive light. When a rhodopsin molecule absorbs a photon, it is split into two: a retinal molecule and an opsin molecule, which then slowly recombine. When your eyes are flooded with bright light all your rhodopsin is turned into retinal and opsin. If you then put yourself into the dark there is no rhodopsin and you just have to wait for your retinal and opsin to recombine into rhodopsin. (The retinal, btw, is derived from Vitamin A., hence all sorts of things you've heard of.) There is no rushing the rate of it.

Anyway, about your crazy. Your crazy is contained in the room you are in. The room in which you loiter. When you step outside, outdoors, into the wide open upness (if urbanly not side-to-side), your crazy expands immediately to fill the immense space and almost none of it is left in your head.

Crazy taken outside does not act like an eye going from lightness to dark, but rather like an arm being asked to swat a fly off your picnic. It’s not a slow influence towards sanity, it is Jack stands up and gets out of the box. Climbs out of his little metal cube, regards the winder with some wry distaste, shudders, walks away.

Out of your boxes, crazies. It is not sufficient to imagine leaving the house, which is why I did not take a picture of the sky for you, I thought you might imagine gazing upon it to be sufficient. There are mechanical factors involved, beyond what you can factor. Stand up and get out there.



Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mr. Googly-eyes in light and shadow

Mulberry Madness

The mulberry tree is ripe and berries are falling like mad, like crazy, like mania. Millions of berries on the grass. Birds are going wild for the one's in the tree, knocking down tons for us. Eating them, right from the grass and low hanging branches makes one feel like a bear. I am one. I feel like a bear.

It's on.

Oh little green globe, how the immense blue bowl of the sky and I have missed you. Welcome. Soon I will eat your little face off.
Turn red and meet my basil and my fresh mozzarella from the Italian butcher on the corner.
I will eat you all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pink lies. Like white lies, but a little redder.

Dear Bleaders,

Me and the kids made this white spherical objet d'art and I hung it in the tree I'm always hanging things in, and then a month goes by and the rose bush blossomed such that a rose was right there next to the objet and my mind delighted in the confusion this caused my eye-brain. So to make it delightfully worse, I made a rose out of clay, painted it pink and hung it in the tree near the rose bush and objet. Then I took a picture of it and I sent it off to you.



Bridgacoaster to the Isle of Staten

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fake Science - Coffee

Find out more Fake Science.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Red Bird District

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Poetry Brothel Tonight

Dear Bleaders,

What did we really learn from Eliot? I mean, we learned a tome, but all of it was wrong. So what singular gem that holds up did he leave us embroidered in braille on his trouser hem? This center piece in the puzzledox parabox of the universe I'm in (you're in here with me. watch your hands. redheads and my husband aside): There will be time.

There will be time.

Life is long.

There will be time, there will be time.

Redheads, real or imaginary. If you want some of my honey, bunny, better paint your head red.

At Poetry Brothel's I always bring presents for redheads. A polished stones. A pearl. An Advil. Whatever seems appropriate. It's a trick to get them to kiss me. Sue me. I like them. Real, dye, or imaginary.

There is going to be a Poetry Brothel tonight at the Back Room. Maybe you like life a little dirty. Maybe there are crumbs of poetry down your shirt even now. So you'll join us tonight, we will be high not on life but on essentially legal substances, being used in ways slightly at odds with their stated directions. Poetry will be said that will hurt your poor ape heart and bruise your knuckle-eyed head. How could we have lost so much and ended up aloft in bounty, riding what used to be the purple sage but is now a delightful settee? I do not know, but I am glad that it is you and me. Seriously. I don't care if anyone shows up, but I do hope you drop by. I am going to lounge around lasciviously and tell people important secrets.

I love you. Don't kill yourself. For those of you who can't make it, I'll see you in your dreams.



ps ok i wrote this post for the Best American Poetry site and then put it here too, and having done so i have to add that the Fonz, also, can kiss me. yes, i know he is fictional. haven't we discussed this? seriously though come tonight and drink and have poetry with delightful people. it is always different and always, in hindsight, perfectly reasonable.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ode to a Nightingale

When you study the history of science you find out things you might not want to know. What you find out makes it difficult to believe the things everyone around you believes. Because people believe a lot of things and you have learned that most of what people believe, in any time period, in any place, is a kind of nonsense.

Look. After germ theory was very well discovered, explained, and used to change real outcomes in the real world, it took a good four decades to convince people. Some of the most trenchant deniers were the most educated people. We can look back now and see.

Maybe you think doctors and nurses would all say: "Thank goodness, finally, something that actually works!" Instead, the new theory felt so threatening to everything these people had spent their lives doing, teaching, writing, and believing, that it was too painful to turn away from all the details of the medical world before bacteriology. The world just had to wait for them to die off. Florence Nightingale radically changed the world through a belief in cleanliness and order, through her work, for the first time in the history of history, armies did not lose more men to sickness and infection than to sheer physical damage. Yet when germ theory came around she denied it. For decades. Died still wittily deriding the idea.

The role of self interest as a real loud voice at the table of truth, even in these most obvious examples, goes unnoticed by the person trying to figure out the world (isn't everyone living in the world trying to figure it out?).

Think about the things we have invested in too much to reconsider. Consider first the cases in which we are right to do this. We have invested a great deal in learning to use the English language. Whether or not the writing on the wall is in Chinese, it makes good sense for us to stick with what we’ve got. There are cases where we should start changing and are ready to do so: We’ve got a lot invested in books, and we are trying to step back and see what changes might be bearable. Oil. Big agriculture. Those of us interested in reconceiving the world do manage to do so in some impressive ways, no question.

Still, it is worth saying clearly. There are things we believe that are not true. There are ways we behave that are holdovers: We keep jumping over where there used to be a pothole.

After a while, a person asks her or himself, Where is different? Where is life? And in those moments it is useful to remember that one answer is: To the right of where you always go. Under the puddle into which you do not want to step, and then to the left. Where you are strong, instead try weakness. It can be salutary to self-suggest that everything youve saids been sort of wrong.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Surrounded by Michelangelos

Friday, May 7, 2010

Want to know what i looked like the other day?

Dare-link Fonz and Sweet Bleaders,

I have decided to make some Mental Movies. This is the first one. Don't click play on your computer, click play by tapping a finger. Here is the movie. It lasts fifteen seconds. This woman (me) eats her glasses. That's it. Go.
Did you do it? Isn't that a funny movie?
I'm going to watch it again! It's different every time. In fact, it keeps getting longer, as each time I see it I see what I imagined before and often a new image as well: me biting a lens like a potato chip, drawing in a frame arm like a noodle, plucking off the two small nose rests, like berries, and popping them into my mouth. At last, nearly blind, I smile at the camera's lens, which, of course, now fears me, but shouldn't, as I am utterly sated by my recent feast.



Thursday, May 6, 2010

poem on the quick

Poem of May 5, 2010

Fireworks and fertilizer

in Time Square

an SUV where no car should be

smoking a little.

A vendor sees, tells a cop

on a horse.

The other way it might have played

was that the bomb

went off and fifty-seven people

died, millions heartbroken.

All of them wished so hard

it hadn’t happened

that the world bent back

like a twig and snapped

to this world,

where it didn’t happen.

Have a cocktail or something.

I’m going to drink champagne.

Fireworks and fertilizer

and a man on a horse.

It's very strange.

--Jennifer Michael Hecht

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

garden jewelry VI

Being in a tree

I made this being and I put it in a tree.

May the fourth be with you

Happy Star Wars Day

Thursday, April 29, 2010

One day they woke up and realized they were not taking pills for anxiety and depression but for anger. They were all furious. They stopped taking their pills. Their anger was huge and would not dissipate. They started screaming and screaming. Eventually, with all the screaming, the anger did dissipate. They felt better. They did not feel anxious anymore. Who could feel anxious after all that? They did not feel particularly depressed either, though about a third of them still wished they were getting more sex.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Picture of sunny morning posted on rainy morning.

A mouse awakened me at five am. Was she playing dice? Sounded like a mouse playing dice. Got up and looked behind where it sounded like it was coming from. Yes, mouse evidence. No mouse, no dice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Pantoum!

This is a freakishly long post for me, but i think you might find it amusing. I find it amusing. I am going to read it again right now.


Dude, I'm supposed to be writing this book that I'm writing and I'm just done with the hour of looking around the internest that starts my day and I find, instead of turning to Stay (my book in the writing), I'm turning to you to talk about pantoums. Why? Because you are handsome and cool.

You might guess pantoum was a minor cousin of the sonnet, all Elizabethan or whathaveyou, but, my freuds, it is not.

The pantun is a Malay poetic form.

Malay is a family of languages that goes back to the 7th century BC, in and around Indoanesia.

The pantun began as a tuneless love song, a completely oral art form. People started writing them down in the 15th century.

The pantoum is derived from a particular type of pantun, the pantun berkait, a series of interwoven four-line stanzas.

This pantun has four-line stanzas with an abab rhyme. It is recited according to a fixed rhythm that works in Malay so long as they keep the syllables of each line between eight and twelve.

Here’s Katharine Sim* on the form. Read this despite the resistance it excites: “The pantun is a four-lined verse consisting of alternating, roughly rhyming lines. The first and second lines sometimes appear completely disconnected in meaning from the third and fourth, but there is almost invariably a link of some sort. Whether it be a mere association of ideas, or of feeling, expressed through assonance or through the faintest nuance of a thought, it is nearly always traceable.”

* How much do I love the title of her book? It’s like jeeze we just learned the pantum, give us a break! No but seriously: Katharine Sim, More than a Pantun: Understanding Malay Verse (Times International: Singapore, 1987).

The pantun is highly allusive, dependent on shared knowledge of a symbolic code.

Here’s one, translation by Sim:

Tanam selasih di tengah padang,

Sudah bertangkai diurung semut,

Kita kasih orang tak sayang,

Halai-balai tempurung hanyut.

I planted sweet-basil in mid-field

Grown, it swarmed with ants,

I loved but am not loved,

I am all confused and helpless.


Isn't that great?

Sim tells us "Selasih" (meaning sweet basil) means "lover" -- because it rhymes with kekasih (the word for lover); and the last line, "halai-balai tempurung hanyut" literally means "a floating coconut shell at sixes and sevens."

Other frequently recurring symbols are:

flower and the bee = the girl and her lover

the squirrel (tupai) = a seducer

water hyacinth (bunga kiambang) = love that will not take root.

[I’ve never actually looked into this Sim book, I’m “translating” all this from the English yet nearly-impenetrable wikipedia entry on the Pantun.][I bet I end up buying the Sim book.]

Anywhy, how did the pantun get to be a big form in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries?

Well, a linguist called William Marsden, published a pantun in his Dictionary and Grammar of the Malayan Language in 1812. It was delightfully sexy and when minor poet Ernest Fouinet read it he was inspired to write his own, unrhymed French version of the poem, which came out so good that Victor Hugo published it in the notes to his book Les Orientales (1829) and after that tons of French poets wrote what was now called “pantoums.” This went on for a hundred and fifty years. Want to see the poems that got all this started? You have to click on this link! A Famous Pantun.

Oh Their God wasn't that delish?! Many youths have I admired,/ but none to compare with my present choice. It's hawt.

Okay so fast forward to like, fifty years ago.

You know the way the villanelle, today, is still primarily connected with “Do not go gently into that good night”? Fifty years ago, the pantoum was Baudelaire’s “Harmonie du soir,” though it is a particularly irregular version (the stanzas rhyme abba instead of abab, and the last line, which should be the same as the first, is original). If you go look here, fluersdumal and read the English translations you’ll go WTF? Why would that be so beloved?

Click here to see a google search page that will tell you all you need to know, don't bother clicking any of the links: Look. See?

"Un ostensoir est un objet liturgique de la religion catholique, également appelée monstrance."

An "ostensoir" is a liturgical object in the Catholic religion, also called "monstrance." Ha! Now do you see why the poem was so much fun?

Harmonie du soir

Voici venir les temps où vibrant sur sa tige
Chaque fleur s'évapore ainsi qu'un encensoir;
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!

Chaque fleur s'évapore ainsi qu'un encensoir;
Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu'on afflige;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir.

Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu'on afflige,
Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir;
Le soleil s'est noyé dans son sang qui se fige.

Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir,
Du passé lumineux recueille tout vestige!
Le soleil s'est noyé dans son sang qui se fige...
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir!

— Charles Baudelaire

Harmonie du soir

l'air du soir;
Valse (waltz) mélancolique et langoureux vertige (vertigo, pronounced verteej)!

Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir (altar).

Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir! (a tender heart who hates the vast black nothingness!)
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir; (the sky is sad and beautiful like a giant alter)
Le soleil s'est noyé dans son sang qui se fige. (feej!) (the sun is drowning in its blood which is congealing)!

Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir,
vestige (vesteej)
Le soleil s'est noyé dans son sang qui se fige

And then this freaky last line which is what the whole poem was for, all for the word: Ostensoir!

Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir!

The memory of you is brilliant inside me, like one of those huge gold starburst things that are part of the ritual at the altar of a Catholic church. This is particularly wonderful because the word for the huge gold starburst things is Ostensoir! which rhymes with night and darkness (soir et noir) and has the synonym of Monstrance, which sounds like monster. Ostensoir which must mean eastern night. It is an "ornamental in which the consecrated host is placed for veneration."

Do you see how much fun all this is, in the French? It is bloody and gross and sexy and sounds fantastic.

And what else was fun? Well what else was fun was what the pantun started out as, which is visible hilariously through this hilarious text over at the Classic Encyclopedia.

It's from the Encyclopedia Britanica 1911 and it is sooooo great. I have to quote it in full here. I really want you to actually read this whole thing. It is funny. All I have done is put in some paragraph breaks to encourage you to keep reading:

PANTUN (PANTOUM), a form of verse of Malay origin. An imitation of the form has been adopted in French and also in English verse, where it is known as "pantoum." The Malay pantunis a quatrain, the first and third and the second and fourth lines of which rhyme.

The peculiarity of the verse-form resides in the fact that the first two lines have as a rule no actual connexion, in so far as meaning is concerned, with the two last, or with one another, and have for their raison d'être a means of supplying rhymes for the concluding lines.

For instance:

Senudoh kayu di-rimba Benang karap ber-simpul puleh: Sunggoh dudok ber-tindek riba, Jangan di-harap kata-kan buleh.

The rhododendron is a wood of the jungle, The strings within the frame-work of the loom are in a tangled knot.

It is true that I sit on thy lap, But do not therefore cherish the hope that thou canst take any other liberty.

Here, it will be seen, the first two lines have no meaning, though according to the Malayan mind, on occasion, these "rhyme-making" lines are held to contain some obscure, symbolicaj reference to those which follow them. The Malay is not exacting with regard to the correctness of his rhymes, and to his ear rimba and riba rhyme as exactly as puleh and bulek. It should also be noted that in the above example, as is not infrequently the case with the Malay pantun, there is a similar attempt at rhyme between the initial words of the lines as well as between the word with which they conclude, senudoh and sunggoh, benang and , jeingan, and kdrap and karap all rhyming to the Malayan ear.

There are large numbers of well-known pantun with which practically all Malays are acquainted, much as the commoner proverbs are familiar to us all, and it is not an infrequent practice in conversation for the first line of a pantun- viz.: one of the two lines to which no real meaning attaches - to be quoted alone, the audience being supposed to possess the necessary knowledge to fit on the remaining lines for himself and thus to discover the significance of the allusion.

Among cultured Malays, more especially those living in the neighbourhood of the raja's court, new pantun are constantly being composed, many of them being of a highly topical character, and these improvisations are quoted from man to man until they become current like the old, well-known verses, though within a far more restricted area. Often too, the pantun is used in love-making, but they are then usually composed for the exclusive use of the author and for the delectation of his lady-loves, and do not find their way into the public stock of verses.

"Capping" pantun is also a not uncommon pastime, and many Malays will continue such contests for hours without once repeating the same verse, and often improvising quatrains when their stock threatens to become exhausted. When this game is played by skilled versifiers, the pantun last quoted, and very frequently the second line thereof, is used as the tag on to which to hang the succeeding verse.

The "pantoum" as a form of verse was introduced into French by Victor Hugo in Les Orientales (1829).


Isn't it amazing how condescending and yet admiring and knowledgeable the entry author is?

And then, as if that were not enough, in the 20th century, Americans get their hands on the pantoum and OTG, they run it into the ground!

There's no limit on its length and Americans just intuited that we could hammer in a hell of a relentless (thanks Amy Holman for the insight and word, yes, relentless!) work song, blues song, sorrow chanty.

Look at a few of these Donald Justice Pantoum. Carolyn Kizer Pantoum. Oy.

And of course, back to song. I am going to like it here.

Want to hear it? Go to 1:23 Here for the song.

I am going to like it here

Like a port in a storm it is

All the people are so sincere

There's especially one I like

I am going to like it here

And that, freuds, is the pantoum. Next up...the larch. The Larch.