Monday, March 24, 2008


I have been really ill and don't have the energy to write. Hoping that will change.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Going to Jupiter with an Aching in My Heart

I'm vanishing for a while. Spring break, baby. Headfirst into a margarita and a plate of plantains. Three odd grabs:

The "Rules of Surfing," posted on the beach at Santa Cruz, by Sam Reid:
First surfer on waves has right-of-way
Paddle around wave, not through it
Hang on to your board
Help other surfers

I wish I'd done these ads. Driving a Prius also gives you a free pass to sing earworm songs in crowds, cut people off for parking spaces, and text while others are around. I am above reproach!

Put a sample of writing in this thing, and it will tell you whether it was written by a boy or a girl. It says I'm both a woman and a weak male, possibly European. How did it know?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The View from the Belvedere

In honor of The Wire season finale, a poem to Baltimore.

All-American Fresh-Air Cure

“I couldn’t see for lookin
For lookin I couldn’t see.”
--Epigram written on a baseball painting by Paul Darmafall, The Glassman

I want to believe in the power
Of the fresh-air cure,
So I am standing on the sidewalk,
Smoking, with The Glassman.
He can’t take walls or doors,
The stuffy shadowbox and
Wine reek of the art show.
He’s an outsider artist, after all.

He shifts in his lawn chair and
Its legs scrape the sidewalk,
Uncovering another sliver of material.
He believes in America, in science,
In a strong constitution as protection.
He believes air conditioning will kill you.
He doesn’t call them paintings, but signs.
Covers each one with bulletins from beyond.

Out of colored fragments he picked up in the street,
The Glassman sorted red, milk-white, and blue,
And traced three baseball players in glass and glue
On a splintered plywood scrap—
One running, one sliding, one home.
That’s the one I chose, out of all
The glass-encrusted slabs, so many
Stacked to the gallery ceiling, salon-style.

I don’t know if The Glassman knows
That each red dot inside means “sold”—
A couple hundred dollars more for him.
He hangs his paintings on chain-link fences.
He hangs his paintings on the sides of trains,
And lets the rails bear them away.
I give him cigarettes, but we don't
Look each other in the eyes.

I don’t say, but I get messages, too.
I don’t need a crystal ball,
All you have to do is read the signs.
It always leaves me feeling shaky,
Like catching yourself stumbling
On a crack in the concrete,
Your foot sending a shard of broken glass
Skidding down the sidewalk in front of you.

I came to this opening
With a new man, a fresh man,
A transparent man, an all-American man,
A man who loves baseball,
Who doesn’t bother with messages and signs.
At night now I sit in my car and listen to the radio,
Waiting for the last play to play out
Before heading into the bar.

Later, on the rooftop, my man’s
Breath on my neck, I watch
The fireworks flare over the stadium,
Sparks shimmering down around
The Domino Sugars sign
And falling into the harbor,
The water flat and deep brown as
The bottom of a bottle.

Photo: "National Anthem" by Paul Darmafall, from an Austin, TX, gallery site.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Flower and the Flame

I often saw the etymology of "pornography" translated as "the writings of prostitutes"; later I found out that it's actually "the writings ABOUT prostitutes." I'll stick with the first option. It pleases me to think of assorted "loose women" scribbling away, like Sei Shonagon in her Pillow Book, over the centuries and countries. Why shouldn't they have quite a bit to say, and say it well?

Having read many, I like "the writings of prostitutes," especially "the Graphic Novels of Prostitutes." (Thanks to Nathaniel Mayweather, fancy lad for the gift of that book; you always could pick em.)

So am I impossibly geeky because I visit a porn star site just to read her blog? Belladonna (NSFW) has such an honest, emotionally up-front voice--such a cocky voice, so to speak.

Another star, Penny Flame, (NSFW) doesn't write much--she paints! She has a MySpace page for her paintings, but they're really not very well displayed there. And she smokes and does yoga. Would I were 20 years younger, and that she had freckles.

In that vein of romantic yearning and nostalgia, I found these great colloquial English translations of the Pillow Book, made by Simon Cozens. Makes Shonagon sound like a blogger. And that's not a bad thing, to me.

The Rain That Swells the Water
One time, I had a boyfriend who would always mail me the day after we had slept together. Once he said that he saw no point in our relationship and didn't have anything left to say to me.

The next day came, and there was nothing from him. I was pretty fed up when the dawn came with no next-morning mail. "Well," I thought as the day wore on, "I guess he actually meant it."

The day after that it rained really hard. Dawn came, noon came, and still no word; he'd forgotten all about me. Then I was sitting outside on the veranda in the evening, and a boy came up with an umbrella in one hand and a letter in the other. I tore open the letter, and the message was: "The rain that swells the water."

I thought this was more beautiful than a whole pile of poems.

Art: Sei Shonagon by Kikuchi Yosai; public domain.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

My Arms Get Tired

I'll blame my demanding yoga instructor. As I often find myself saying nowadays, I never thought I'd be in this position. Sing it, Todd.

Please don't look at me that way,
I can hardly say what I have to say,
There is nothing that I haven't told to you
That I didn't believe you knew.
I am thinking of another time
I could feel you thinking that you were mine,
Now I hold out my hands 'til my arms get tired
And you wait on the other side.

You and me, we're both the same,
Don't let me take all the blame.