Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veterans' Day

Veterans' Day was always such a big deal when I was younger. We would have a big program in the high school gym where veterans from all over the school district would come. The band would play a few patriotic songs, a guest would speak about how honorable military service was, and we would honor those who fought for our country. Just talking about it usually brought my dad to tears. He had such respect for my grandpa and all those who went abroad to fight for freedom. The part of the program that I felt was particularly moving was when the band would play the marches for each of the branches of the military, those veterans who had fought for each branch would stand when their march was played. My grandpa, who served in the Navy during World War II, and narrowly missed being in Hawaii during Pearl Harbor, participated in the program every year until his death. How different the program felt when he was gone.

Here in New York, I barely remembered that yesterday was Veterans' Day. I knew that there was a parade but wasn't able to attend. Most people around me went about their daily routine as if nothing was different. The only celebration I had was a lone musician playing battle hymns in the subway. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A View of Grand Central

Forty-second Street and Park Avenue is a place full of hustle and bustle. Men rush along the street to office buildings and meetings without so much as a glance around. On the street, life moves at a brisk, hurried pace, but it also moves on each individual’s own time. The businessmen walking down the street have control over their time.

These things change upon entering Grand Central Station. Time takes on its own meaning. Business men, wearing suits and ties, slow down or sped up as their enter, completely dependent on the schedules of trains and the aura of the station.

Standing in the center of the main concourse, an ominous, but elegant space, time is the one thing on everyone’s mind and tongue.

“What time is it?”

“What time does the train come in?”

“What time does the train leave?”

“Do you have a timetable?”

“We have time. What do we do while we wait?”

A large round clock with four faces sits atop the center kiosk. From almost any angle in the open, echoic room, the clock is visible. Below the clock, on the round countertop sits piles upon piles of timetables. Those who don’t already have them memorized stand idly round reading them over, glancing up at the clock every so often.

A man stands anxiously several feet away from the central kiosk, a guitar at his feet, wearing a canvas jacket and glasses. He stands idle but is constantly searching the room, waiting. After several minutes, the wait becomes unbearable and he picks up the guitar and walks aimlessly away.

A voice comes over the announcement system to tell of a train about to leave. Immediately, several of those who had been idling in the concourse pick up their bags and hurry away to an unseen track. Their movements dictated by a voice with no face, a train timetable, and the clock.

Time is the name of the game in Grand Central, the preoccupation of everyone inside.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who should say "I love you" first?


Beats me. When I said it first I got a hard, cold rejection. When the guy said it first, it was usually far to early in the relationship to be truthful. What's even worse: being told, "I don't love you yet" when you haven't even said it.

This Salon article didn't even help, except to tell me that every situation is different. I mean, that's a given, right? At least I thought so.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crown Heights...Prospect-Lefferts Garden...Wingate...






I have been living in between three separate neighborhoods in Brooklyn for the last 7 weeks. It is a much different area than any I have ever lived in before but that doesn't make it any less New York City. If you walk one direction the people are primarily Caribbean. Most restaurants and stores are Haitian or Jamaican.

Walk in the other direction, and you enter a very Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. Every sign is in both English and Hebrew, and all the shops are closed on Saturdays.

Living here has been quite an experience for me. I've really enjoyed the different cultures. Being surrounded by people with much different experiences than I have has been quite enlightening. It wasn't always fun and games. The first couple of weeks I was sort of nervous. I didn't feel comfortable walking down the streets. I didn't know what to expect.

As the weeks went on, however, I started to feel much more comfortable and began to really enjoy my daily walks around the neighborhood.

I stuck out like a sore thumb. I am neither black nor Jewish and it was pretty obvious. I got some funny looks every once in a while but in general nobody seemed to be bothered by my presence. Some nights, I would come walking home around 1 am and the church a block down the street would have crowds of people outside socializing.

Monday nights, the Wingate park half a block away hosted the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series. Famous black artists came to the neighborhood and performed for huge crowds.

I never knew what to expect on my way home and I appreciated that.

I'm moving out tomorrow and heading back to Manhattan, the East Village to be precise. I'm looking forward to getting back to Manhattan. I really did miss it, but I will never forget the experience I had living deep in this Brooklyn neighborhood.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hardware Memories




It is funny how some of the most random places can bring back nostalgic feelings.

Yesterday, I went into a hardware store to run an errand for my editor. I don't remember the last time I stepped foot into a hardware store, but as soon as I walked in, it was as if I was eleven years old and shopping for supplies to make one of my 4-H projects.

The smell of the fresh cut wood, the plumbing fixtures, the paint...I felt the excitement I used to feel when it was time to gather parts for my model rockets and woodworking projects.

It was always about this time of year that I would really be buckling down to work on those 4-H county fair entries. I had the whole summer to work on them but always seemed to end up starting them the first week of August, only two weeks before fair time.

It still makes me proud to think of all of the things I built by myself and entered to be judged at the fair. Model rockets were the projects I was most proud of. I started out simple, but by my final years in 4-H, I was building complex multistage machines. And I was a girl, which made me all the more proud.

The most exciting part about building those rockets was shooting them off in my backyard. In order to be entered into the fair the rocket had to have been launched five times. My entire family would troop out to the alfalfa field behind the house and make a big production of it.

One year, one of my multistage rockets shot so far that it landed in the cornfield across the road. I was so upset that I might have lost a project that had taken me so many hours to build that I walked the rows of the field for hours, searching for it. Finally, just before I gave up looking, I spotted it. I don't know if I've ever been so elated to find something in a cornfield.

It is so amusing to think back to these times. It wasn't even that long ago, but I feel as if I haven't thought of those moments in ages. Just caught up in the moment, I guess. It's nice to be reminded of a different more innocent time though.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Art Museums

Mona Lisa by Da Vinci

What are we looking for when we go to art museums? What do we hope to see when, as tourists, we walk the halls of famous buildings and view the overwhelming works of art along the walls? Do we really care about the art before us? Or are we just walking through because we know it is the thing to do? I think this article in the New York Times really addresses this issue well.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Orientation

It's about to begin. Over a thousand 17- and 18-year-olds are going to be heading to New York City to start their freshman year at NYU's College of Arts and Science. I just spent the last 5 weeks getting to know them and helping them to prepare for their big move and their first semester.

It gives me such excitement and pleasure to meet them and to be a help to them. I know how scary starting college can be anywhere let a lone New York City!

I am really proud to be a role model for them because I know how important those role models can be. I don't know where I would be without them.

Orientation is over now. It makes me sad to see it end. I have really enjoyed the experience and this is the last time I will be able to participate in it.

I at least hope that that some of the freshmen that I worked with this summer will be interested in getting involved the way I was.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Public Enemies



I saw this movie this weekend. It was absolutely wonderful. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale are marvelous and the soundtrack is captivating. But what I thought was really interesting was the history behind the movie. Check it out.

4th of July

How I spent my Fourth of July:





These aren't videos from the actual show unfortunately but both of these songs were played yesterday at the River to River festival in Battery Park in Downtown NYC.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Starving in Paris


The New York Times' Frugal Traveler went to Paris earlier this month.

I enjoyed reading what he had to say about traveling around the luxurious city on a budget. Living there last year as a poor college student the experiences he recounted were hauntingly similar to the things I remember doing to save money while I was there.

One theme he brings up throughout his piece is the romantic idea of the starving artist. He evokes Ernest Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" several times. This romantic idea is one of my favorite fantasies. And I believe that of all of the cities I have visited in the last several years, Paris is the one where that idea does not seem fantastic. Even in New York, I often feel like the romance of being creative and poor is lost on the constant shifting and gentrifying of neighborhoods.

Paris has experienced shifts too but even the neighborhoods that once were artist havens and are no more have held on to the the essence of the poor artists that once roamed the streets.

Oh to be poor and living in Paris! Maybe someday soon...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Masters of Sex

Very interesting article and I am assuming a very interesting book about two people who dedicated their lives to researching sex.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Home




I have spent the last several weeks at home in rural Nebraska. And while I may have said this before, I think it's worth repeating. The more time I spend living elsewhere, the more I appreciate the life that Nebraska offers. There are so many small things that I miss when I'm away that I would have never expected to miss.

I miss the way the air feels against my skin and smells so sweet and fresh after a thunderstorm. I miss the way I can hear the cars roaring along Interstate 80 from my backyard even though I'm nearly 2 miles away. I miss the country music on every radio station, even though I absolutely hate most country songs. I miss the long open highway that my mom and I drive along to get to the Harlan County Reservoir. I miss the local camaraderie that exists in hometown bars. I miss the way people try to look out for each other even when they don't succeed. I miss the way it feels to sit in an old beat-up diesel pickup truck with my hand out the window, wind blowing swiftly through my fingers, next to someone who just likes to put his arm around me.

But I think what I really miss is the innocence I had before I knew that this life wasn't for me, when I could accept all of these things as all there was to the world. It's been a long time since I felt that way, but I can't help wishing to go back to it sometimes. It was a simple life, with straightforward problems and solutions, or at least it seemed that way.

If only I didn't have to be so complicated.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Does Money Matter in Dating?

I just read an article published by the AP about dating during the recession and the dating problems that men are dealing with after being laid off.

I was a little bit surprised by the article because (and this probably has to do with the fact that I'm in college and almost no one has money in college.) I never thought money could be such an issue.

Shouldn't dating be more about the personal connection and less about the bill? Who needs to spend money to have a good time?

I mean maybe my opinion will change, I am going to be out in the job world in a year and at that point it is very possible that I will prefer dates that have financial security but right now, who needs money?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman


Photo of Simone de Beauvoir taken by Nelson Algren

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir is a book I consider to be quite lifechanging for me. It asserts, well before feminism had taken hold, that women are not subordinates of men. It defines "sex" and "gender" as separate individual characteristics.

I was first exposed to this book during my time studying in Paris. The influence this book has had on me could possibly be attributed to the fact that the time I spent living in Paris was itself a lifechanging experience. (To be living alone in a foreign city brings about personal characteristics one may never know one had.) And certainly, reading The Second Sex in Paris is much different than reading it in New York or San Francisco. You can almost feel Simone de Beauvoir's presence while sitting in a cafe on Rue St. Germain. But I think that the power of this book exists no matter when or where it is read.

I truly admire the strength and tenacity that de Beauvoir must have had to be able to publish such a book in 1949, long before any of the content was commonly discussed.

There are several reasons why I bring this book up today. One is that a very close friend of mine just recently purchased the book and began reading it. She made a point to tell me about her purchase because I had brought the book up so many times in conversation that she just finally had to know what it was really all about.

The second reason I bring it up is because This year marks 60 years since the book was published and a new and IMPROVED English translation is scheduled to come out in November. I'm starting to get anxious about reading it.

And thirdly, de Beauvoir makes many claims about the equality of men and women. Recently, I listened to a radio segment that featured a discussion with scientists about how similar men and women really are. It is exciting for me to see that what de Beauvoir claimed so many years ago is becoming a reality today.

Check out the radio piece:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Graduation



My sister graduated from high school this weekend. I made sure I was home for the ceremony and, of course, the large party at the family home afterwards. My little sister is just about 3 years younger than me, and I don't think I've been to a graduation ceremony in those years between mine and hers.

I realized this as I walked into my old high school gym, which was set up just the way it had been 3 years earlier. The stage was on the north wall, with seats for the graduates directly below.

It surprised me how different it felt to be in that gym this time around. Last time, I was sad to see my life changing, knowing that many of those sitting next to me would leave my life for good. I also felt excited for the life ahead of me and for all the new and unknown adventures in my future.

I was naive. I didn't know what would come. I didn't know the things I would see, experience, or feel. The pain, the pleasure, anything. But I wouldn't have traded that feeling of excitement and happiness for all of the knowledge in the world.

I see those same feelings on my sister's face now and it makes me happy. It makes me reminisce about the past, when things were a little bit more simple.

I wouldn't want my sister to feel any other way.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Floater

By Debra Nystrom

—to Dan

Maddening shadow across your line of vision—
what might be there, then isn't, making it

hard to be on the lookout, concentrate, even
hear—well, enough of the story I've

given you, at least—you've had your fill, never
asked for this, though you were the one

to put a hand out, catch hold, not about to let me
vanish the way of the two you lost already

to grief's lure. I'm here; close your eyes,
listen to our daughter practicing, going over and over

the Bach, getting the mordents right, to make the lovely
Invention definite. What does mordent mean,

her piano teacher asked—I was waiting in the kitchen
and overheard—I don't know, something about dying?

No; morire means to die, mordere means to take
a bite out of something—good mistake, she said.

Not to die, to take a bite—what you asked
of me—and then pleasure

in the taking. Close your eyes now,
listen. No one is leaving.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

History of Hurricanes

by Teresa Cader

Because we cannot know—

we plant crops, make love in the light of our not-knowing

A Minuteman prods cows from the Green with his musket,
his waxed paper windows snapping in the wind,
stiletto stalks in the herb garden upright—Now

blown sideways—Now weighted down in genuflection,

not toward,

And a frail man holding an Imari teacup paces at daybreak
in his courtyard in Kyoto

a cherry tree petaling the stones pink and slippery
in the weeks he lay feverish

waiting for word from the doctor, checking for signs—Now

in the season of earthenware sturdiness and dependency
it must begin, the season of his recovery





No whirling dervish on the radar, no radar, no brackets
no voices warning—no Voice—fugue of trees, lightning

Because we cannot know, we imagine

What will happen to me without you?





I know some things I remember—

the Delaware River two stories high inside the brick houses
cars floating past Trenton like a regiment on display
brown water climbing our basement stairs two at a time





Like months of remission—
the eye shifts

the waxed paper windows
burst behind the flapping shutters—

and how could he save his child after that calm,
a man who'd never seen a roof sheared off?





Across town the ninth graders in their cutoffs:
Science sucks, they grouse. Stupid history of hurricanes.

No one can remember one;

velocity, storm surge—
abstractions
the earth churns as Isabel rips through Buzzard's Bay

A hurricane, as one meaning has it:
a large crowded assembly of fashionable people at a private house





The river cannot remember its flooding—

I worry you will forget to check
the watermarks in time

An echo of feet on stone is all the neighbors
knew of their neighbor,
a lover of cherry trees

and of his wife who prayed for him at the shrine,
her hair swept up in his favorite onyx comb

Monday, April 27, 2009

We Address

By Norma Cole

…a lead pencil held between thumb and forefinger
of each hand forms a bridge upon which
two struggling figures, "blood all around"…

I was born in a city between colored wrappers

I was born in a city the color of steam, between two pillars, between pillars and curtains, it was up to me to pull the splinters out of the child's feet

I want to wake up and see you sea green and leaf green, the problem of ripeness. On Monday I wrote it out, grayed out. In that case spirit was terminology

In that case meant all we could do. Very slowly, brighter, difficult and darker. Very bright and slowly. Quietly lions or tigers on a black ground, here the sea is ice, wine is ice

I am in your state now. They compared white with red. So they hung the numbers and colors from upthrusting branches. The problem was light

Our friend arrived unexpectedly dressed in black and taller than we remembered. In the same sky ribbons and scales of bright balance

The problem and its history. Today a rose-colored sky. Greens vary from yellow to brown. Brighter than ink, the supposition tells the omission of an entire color

Which didn't have a musical equivalent. In those days the earth was blue, something to play. A person yearned to be stone

Clearly a lion or sphinx-like shape. The repetition of gesture is reiterated in the movement of ambient light on the windows, curtains, and on the facing wall, the problem

and its green ribbons. The hands almost always meet. Turquoise adrenaline illusions adjacent to memory, to mind. We address

memory, the senses, or pages on a double sheet, classical frontal framing. I want you to wake up now

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Terezin

by Taije Silverman

—a transfer camp in the Czech Republic


We rode the bus out, past fields of sunflowers
that sloped for miles, hill after hill of them blooming.

The bus was filled with old people.
On their laps women held loaves of freshly baked bread.
Men slept in their seats wearing work clothes.

You stared out the window beside me. Your eyes
were so hard that you might have been watching the glass.

Fields and fields of sunflowers.

Arriving we slowed on the cobblestone walkway.
Graves looked like boxes, or houses from high up.

On a bench teenage lovers slouched in toward each other.
Their backs formed a shape like a seashell.
You didn't want to go inside.

But the rooms sang. Song like breath, blown
through spaces in skin.

The beds were wide boards stacked up high on the walls.
The glass on the door to the toilet was broken.
I imagined nothing.

You wore your black sweater and those dark sunglasses.
You didn't look at me.

The rooms were empty, and the courtyard was empty,
and the sunlight on cobblestone could have been water,
and I think even when we are here we are not here.

The courtyard was flooded with absence.
The tunnel was crowded with light.
Like a throat. Like a—

In a book I read how at its mouth they played music,
some last piece by Wagner or Mozart or Strauss.

I don't know why. I don't know
who walked through the tunnel or who played or what finally
they could have wanted. I don't know where the soul goes.

Your hair looked like wheat. It was gleaming.

Nearby on the hillside a gallows leaned slightly.
What has time asked of it? Nights. Windstorms.

Your hair looked like fire, or honey.
You didn't look at me.

Grass twisted up wild, lit gold all around us.
We could have been lost somewhere, in those funny hills.

And the ride back—I don't remember.
Why was I alone? It was night, then. It was still morning.

But the fields were filled with dead sunflowers.
Blooms darkened to brown, the stalks bowed.
And the tips dried to husks that for miles kept reaching.
Those dreamless sloped fields of traveling husks.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lion and Gin

By Dennis Hinrichsen

I pet my father like some big cat a hunter has set on the ground,
though I am in Iowa now and not the Great Rift Valley
and what I sense as tent canvas flapping, thick with waterproofing,
is cheap cotton
choked with starch.
Still, he is a lion on the gurney.
I talk a little to make sure he's dead.
I have some memory of riding his shoulders
through the fragrant night. Three fish coiled in a creel. So many
butterflies
and gnats, it was two-thirds Kenya,
one-third Illinois.
And then home: the clink
of ice and gin.
And so I rub his hair, which is unwashed, and will
remain unwashed, for we will burn him.
I touch the blade of his chest.
Think of all those years I spent hovering beneath the scent of
Marlboros,
the mouthwash trace of booze; all that ice
cracking, going stale: crowned molars and mimic glaciers
fading to bled-out amber among the cuticles of lime.
Maybe that's why when he so blindly flies
on that exaltation of velocity and gas,
he doesn't linger in this world awhile as word or song,
a density we might gather round—
an aquifer, or gushing spring, as pure as gin.
Instead, he departs
as vapor.
Fragments of tooth and bone in the swept-out mass I can
throw back to dirt, or spread—a child's sugared, grainy drink—
to water.
And now I wonder, where's the soul in this?
The agent of it?
If it un-tags, re-tags itself—a flexible, moveable,
graffiti—indelible for the time we have it,
or if it sputters on some inward cycle toward a Rubbermaid
waste bucket, sink trap ringed with cocktail residue.
As on my returning, the trays of ice were reduced to spit.
I had a drink in my hand,
that memory of riding; the fragrant night.
How can I open the freezer now and not see the milky irises
of his passage;
the array of paw and pelt;
jaw wrenched so far open in that rictus of longing, gasping,
his living eyes could not help but tip and follow?

Friday, April 24, 2009

[In Colorado, In Oregon, upon]

By Joshua Beckman

In Colorado, In Oregon, upon
each beloved fork, a birthday is celebrated.
I miss each and every one of my friends.
I believe in getting something for nothing.
Push the chair, and what I can tell you
with almost complete certainty
is that the chair won't mind.
And beyond hope,
I expect it is like this everywhere.
Music soothing people.
Change rolling under tables.
The immaculate cutoff so that we may continue.
A particular pair of trees waking up against the window.
This partnership of mind, and always now
in want of forgiveness. That forgiveness be
the domain of the individual,
like music or personal investment.
Great forward-thinking people brought us
the newspaper, and look what we have done.
It is time for forgiveness. Dear ones,
unmistakable quality will soon be upon us.
Don't wait for anything else.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Knowledge of Young Boys

By Toi Derricotte

i knew you before you had a mother,
when you were newtlike, swimming,
a horrible brain in water.
i knew you when your connections
belonged only to yourself,
when you had no history
to hook on to,
barnacle,
when you had no sustenance of metal
when you had no boat to travel
when you stayed in the same
place, treading the question;
i knew you when you were all
eyes and a cocktail,
blank as the sky of a mind,
a root, neither ground nor placental;
not yet
red with the cut nor astonished
by pain, one terrible eye
open in the center of your head
to night, turning, and the stars
blinked like a cat. we swam
in the last trickle of champagne
before we knew breastmilk—we
shared the night of the closet,
the parasitic
closing on our thumbprint,
we were smudged in a yellow book.

son, we were oak without
mouth, uncut, we were
brave before memory.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where Man is in His Whole

By Hannah Zeavin

The heart on the breast of my mother
Saint, sleeping on the wing
of any number of blackbirds
their feet sticking out the end
of red pies.

Danger is my jester,
is the only thing keeping me here.

He holds nothing to himself.
In public he goes public.

There is a man who takes
blue silt to his brow
and kisses pollen.

No one notices.

They call him their leader.

Between breast in the morning
and open arms at night

Clouds of hair:
Gin guard has toes splayed to
receive me to receive me.

Songs and clouds and
pots banged. It's natural,
it's considered natural here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Luxury of Hesitation [An excerpt from The Proof of Motion]

By Keith Waldrop

things
forgotten
I could


burn in hell forever


set the glass
down, our
emotion's moment


eyes vs sunlight


how removed
here, from
here


towards the unfamiliar and


frankincense forests
against the discerning light


everybody
sudden


frightful indeed, the sound of
traffic and
no appetite


the crowd


I would like to be
beautiful when
written

Monday, April 20, 2009

Transit of Venus

by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

The actors mill about the party saying rhubarb
because other words do not sound like conversation.
In the kitchen, always, one who's just discovered
beauty, his mouth full of whiskey and strawberries.
He practices the texture of her hair with his tongue;
in her, five billion electrons pop their atoms. Rhubarb
in electromagnetic loops, rhubarb, rhubarb, the din increases.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

User's Guide to Physical Debilitation

By Paul Guest

Should the painful condition of irreversible paralysis
last longer than forever or at least until
your death by bowling ball or illegal lawn dart
or the culture of death, which really has it out
for whoever has seen better days
but still enjoys bruising marathons of bird watching,
you, or your beleaguered caregiver
stirring dark witch's brews of resentment
inside what had been her happy life,
should turn to page seven where you can learn,
assuming higher cognitive functions
were not pureed by your selfish misfortune,
how to leave the house for the first time in two years.
An important first step,
with apologies for the thoughtlessly thoughtless metaphor.
When not an outright impossibility
or form of neurological science fiction,
sexual congress will either be with
tourists in the kingdom of your tragedy,
performing an act of sadistic charity;
with the curious, for whom you will be beguilingly blank canvas;
or with someone blindly feeling their way
through an extended power outage
caused by summer storms you once thought romantic.
Page twelve instructs you how best
to be inspiring to Magnus next door
as he throws old Volkswagens into orbit
above Alberta. And to Betty
in her dark charm confiding a misery,
whatever it is, that to her seems equivalent to yours.
The curl of her hair that her finger knows
better and beyond what you will,
even in the hypothesis of heaven
when you sleep. This guide is intended
to prepare you for falling down
and declaring d├ętente with gravity,
else you reach the inevitable end
of scaring small children by your presence alone.
Someone once said of crushing
helplessness: it is a good idea to avoid that.
We agree with that wisdom
but gleaming motorcycles are hard
to turn down or safely stop
at speeds which melt aluminum. Of special note
are sections regarding faith
healing, self-loathing, abstract hobbies
like theoretical spelunking and extreme atrophy,
and what to say to loved ones
who won't stop shrieking
at Christmas dinner. New to this edition
is an index of important terms
such as catheter, pain, blackout,
pathological deltoid obsession, escort service,
magnetic resonance imaging,
loss of friends due to superstitious fear,
and, of course, amputation
above the knee due to pernicious gangrene.
It is our hope that this guide
will be a valuable resource
during this long stretch of boredom and dread
and that it may be of some help,
however small, to cope with your new life
and the gradual, bittersweet loss
of every God damned thing you ever loved.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hunger

By Sarah Gambito

I had a canoe that took me into the forest I read about. It was fleet and I asked no questions. I saw the careless embroidery of the sky above me. I was small. I was embracing. And I was dear all my life. My instrument is silent. I never learned to play. But it sits poised in my arms like an amber deer that I'll give my life for. What does it sound like? Why haven't I tried?

She crept into my arms like a red flower a stranger gives me. She is tame and soft. In a low voice, I tell her stories of when I was a girl. I bring her fruit from the brook of my own glad tidings. I overflow and I almost forget her. My hair is wet and I feel I can be alone. I know other songs. But what about my deer? She's sleeping. I fit an arrow through my bow. I kill so she eats. She says if only I'd been a better mother.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The National Interest

By Ted Mathys

We are interested in long criminal histories
because we've never bedded down in a cellblock.
With the sibilance of wind through the swaying
spires of skyscrapers as my witness. When I say
cover your grenades I mean it's going to rain I mean
there is mischief in every filibuster of sun.

We are interested in rigorously arranging
emotions by color as we've never been fully
divested of blues. With drinking till my fingernails
hurt as my witness, with hurt as my witness.
When I say be demanding I mean be fully
individual while dissolving in the crowd.

We are interested in characters who murder
because we've never committed it or to it.
With an origami frog in a vellum crown spinning
on a fishing line from the ceiling as my witness.
When I say please kneel with me I mean between
every shadow and sad lack falls a word.

We are interested in ceaselessly setting floor joists
because we've never pulled a pole barn spike
from a foot. With bowing to soap your ankles
in the shower as my witness, lather as my witness.
When I say did you see the freckle in her iris I mean
the poem must reclaim the nature of surveillance.

We are interested in possessing others who possess
that which we possess but fear losing in the future.
With a fork as my witness. A dollop of ketchup,
hash brown, motion, with teeth as my witness.
When I say you I don't mean me I don't mean
an exact you I mean a composite you I mean God.

We are interested in God because we can't
possess God, because we can't possess you.
With a scrum of meatheads in IZOD ogling iPods
as my witness, technological progress as my witness.
When I say no such thing as progress in art I mean
"These fragments I have shored against my ruins"

We are interested in ambivalence as ribcages
resist being down when down, up when up.
With the swell of the argument and the moment
before forgiveness as my witness. When I say power
is exclusion I mean a box of rocks we don't
desire to deduce I mean knowing is never enough.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Children in a Field

By Angela Shaw

They don't wade in so much as they are taken.
Deep in the day, in the deep of the field,
every current in the grasses whispers hurry
hurry, every yellow spreads its perfume
like a rumor, impelling them further on.
It is the way of girls. It is the sway
of their dresses in the summer trance-
light, their bare calves already far-gone
in green. What songs will they follow?
Whatever the wood warbles, whatever storm
or harm the border promises, whatever
calm. Let them go. Let them go traceless
through the high grass and into the willow-
blur, traceless across the lean blue glint
of the river, to the long dark bodies
of the conifers, and over the welcoming
threshold of nightfall.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Is Obama a Badass?

Death Barged In

By Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

In his Russian greatcoat
slamming open the door
with an unpardonable bang,
and he has been here ever since.

He changes everything,
rearranges the furniture,
his hand hovers
by the phone;
he will answer now, he says;
he will be the answer.

Tonight he sits down to dinner
at the head of the table
as we eat, mute;
later, he climbs into bed
between us.

Even as I sit here,
he stands behind me
clamping two
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down
and whispers to my neck,
From now on,
you write about me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Poem of the Day

I have decided to try to have a poem of the day on my blog starting today. I am going to do it at least through the month of April, it being National Poetry Month. But it could extend if I feel like it. I hope you enjoy!

Little Ending

By Charles Wright

Bowls will receive us,
and sprinkle black scratch in our eyes.
Later, at the great fork on the untouchable road,
It won't matter where we have become.

Unburdened by prayer, unburdened by any supplication,
Someone will take our hand,
someone will give us refuge,
Circling left or circling right.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Grown Up

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sandhill Crane Migration

Sandhill cranes are, in my opinion, the most beautiful birds. Every year in the spring and fall they migrate through Nebraska and spend several weeks along the Platte River. I wish I could be in Nebraska right now to watch them.

Here is an article about the annual migration.
And here is a video of the cranes dancing:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Visit to the West Coast






I spent some time in San Francisco recently. The trip is one of several reasons why I haven't posted anything new recently. Now that I am back I am trying to catch up on things that I missed so right now I'm just going to post a few of my pictures. It has been a long time since I've been to the west coast and I was surprised at how much it feels like a different world than the east. It was a refreshing break from the rushed life of New York City.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Two, Three

By Rae Armantrout

Sad, fat boy in pirate hat.
Long, old, dented,
copper-colored Ford.

How many traits
must a thing have
in order to be singular?

(Echo persuades us
everything we say
has been said at least once
before.)

Two plump, bald men
in gray tee-shirts
and tan shorts

are walking a small bulldog –
followed by the eyes
of an invisible third person.

The Trinity was born
from what we know
of the bitter

symbiosis of couples.
Can we reduce echo’s sadness
by synchronizing our speeches?

Is it the beginning or end
of real love
when we pity a person

because, in him,
we see ourselves?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Radio Legend Died Today

Paul Harvey 1918-2009

"I'm just a professional parade watcher who can't wait to get to the curbside."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A (late) Poem For Valentine's Day

The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter
Ezra Pound

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the lookout?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fo-Sa.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In My Dark Chocolate Wrapper

From A Health
By Edward Coate Pinkney

I fill this cup to one made up of loveliness alone,
A woman, of her gentle [nature] the seeming paragon;
To whom the better elements and kindly stars have given
A form so fair, that, like the air, 'tis less of earth than heaven

Her every tone is music's own, like those of morning birds,
And something more than melody dwells ever in her words;
The coinage of her heart are they, and from her lips each flows
As one may see the burthened bee forth issue from the rose...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life

By David Foster Wallace

When they were introduced, he made a witticism, hoping to be liked. She laughed extremely hard, hoping to be liked. Then each drove home alone, staring straight ahead, with the very same twist to their faces.

The man who'd introduced them didn't much like either of them, though he acted as if he did, anxious as he was to preserve good relations at all times. One never knew, after all, now did one no did one now did one.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is it Spring??

Today was one of those days.

You know.

The days in February, when you are just starting to think that winter is never going to end and you're never going to warm up and you can't remember what it feels like to wear less than 3 layers of clothes, and then out of nowhere it's warm enough to wear a light jacket without the fear of frostbite and hypothermia. It's warm enough to go out and instead of rushing through the biting cold, it's okay to stop and enjoy the blue sky dotted with clouds, the slightly too chilly breeze, the warm moments in the sun, and the light sent of spring on its way.

So in honor of those days in February like today, I thought I would post a Ted Kooser poem that fits quite well. I know its not quite late February yet but it's getting close.

Late February
Ted Kooser

The first warm day,
and by mid-afternoon
the snow is no more
than a washing
strewn over the yards,
the bedding rolled in knots
and leaking water,
the white shirts lying
under the evergreens.
Through the heaviest drifts
rise autumn’s fallen
bicycles, small carnivals
of paint and chrome,
the Octopus
and Tilt-A-Whirl
beginning to turn
in the sun. Now children,
stiffened by winter
and dressed, somehow,
like old men, mutter
and bend to the work
of building dams.
But such a spring is brief;
by five o’clock
the chill of sundown,
darkness, the blue TVs
flashing like storms
in the picture windows,
the yards gone gray,
the wet dogs barking
at nothing. Far off
across the cornfields
staked for streets and sewers,
the body of a farmer
missing since fall
will show up
in his garden tomorrow,
as unexpected
as a tulip.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Definition of a Stranger

By Idra Novey

Person not a member
of a group. A visitor,
guest, or the breast
that brushes your arm
on the subway. Person
with whom you've had
no acquaintance but who's taken
your rocking chair
from the curbside
and curls up in it
and closes her eyes.
Person in line
behind you now, waiting
for a glass of water,
or of whiskey, of elixir.
Person logging online
at the same second
from the Home Depot in Lima.
Or in search of the Dalai Lama.
Person not privy or party
to a decision, edict, et cetera,
but who's eaten
from the same fork
at the pizzeria
and kissed your wilder sister
on New Year's. Person assigned
to feed the tiger at the zoo
where you slipped your hand
once
into the palm
of somebody else's father.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!



My New Year's Resolution

We make New Year's Resolutions every year hoping to improve ourselves. I've never really been interested in making them because most people focus on bad attributes they wish to change and I have always felt that it was too negative. But I think a resolution can focus on positive aspects too. I'm not going to quit anything this year. I'm going to continue to enjoy my life and the people around me. I'm going to make a point to do something new every week; to explore new places and ideas; read as many books as possible; spend as much time with the people I love; eat steak when I want to; drink red wine when I can; go for walks and runs as often as possible.

I resolve to experience every moment of every day of the year 2009 as fully as possible. I want to feel everything.