Friday, May 29, 2009

Come Hear Poets, or I'm Not There

This season, I'm sharing my small community garden plot with another woman who has no time. She transplanted a long-established comfrey, which is out of control in a good way, and a peony, which neither of us expected to take well the first year. It not only settled in happily, but was covered with about-to-burst buds one day. A week later, the poor thing looked like it had been hacked to shreds. Someone had stolen the flowers, despite my fence and tall gate wired with unintentionally spiked spears of fencing. Now, we don't know if the peony plant will make it. Times are hard when people steal flowers to sell.

Untouched of course are the pungent sage, bursting with flowers the color of the heart of a flame, in fact, all the herbs--which are what are most valuable, of course. I eat weeds. I leave little bits of things drying around the kitchen and in glasses of water, which ticks my triple-Virgo husband off. I snip into a salad bowl violet leaves and flowers, the early fennel and mint that has to go, anyway, small dandelion leaves, and my favorite, the purslane.

This volunteer is frighteningly healthy, with tons of omega-3s, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, lots more. I know people from the islands cook it like spinach, but that's not for me; it's too much like okra, that texture that is politely described as "mucilaginous." Raw, it's crisp and citrusy. You can feel it being good for you. The woman who taught me about Santeria and Candomble used to use it as a "bath," where you combine herbs, soak in water and pour over your body or head. It is an Eshu/Mercury herb, so it's one of mine. People used to soak it in water and then make a skin treatment, and it has enough acid to make it akin to an over-the-counter toner.

So. I love peonies, but I will be grateful for purslane.

I'm hiatus-izing this blog for a while and hiking my heinie over to my poetry-event-only one-time temporary-installation blog, Come Hear Poets, cause I can't keep track of that and the purslane and most of all the dear child, who will soon be out of school and mine to enjoy and hug and play with for more long, summer hours. I'll come back to this guy when Artomatic is over.

Image: Gorgeous, or what? By Thalia Took. You can get her a lot clearer and closer, on a tarot deck, poster or even t-shirt, here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Midway Down the Midway

I should be writing my own poems tonight. Should be writing a lot of things. Something about coming home felt like autumn. Maybe it was the clouds.

I'll let Joni tell it.

I met you on a midway at a fair last year
And you stood out like a ruby in a black man's ear
You were playing on the horses, you were playing on the guitar strings
You were playing like a devil wearing wings, wearing wings
You looked so grand wearing wings
Do you tape them to your shoulders just to sing?
Can you fly--
I heard you can! Can you fly?
Like an eagle doing your hunting from the sky.

I followed with the sideshows to another town
And I found you in a trailer on the camping grounds
You were betting on some lover, you were shaking up the dice
And I thought I saw you cheating once or twice, once or twice.

Photo: Creative Commons 2.5; by Michael Maggs

Friday, May 22, 2009

Le 'Stache, C'est Moi

I bought a fake mustache today with the idea of going full drag king during my Special Camping Trip this weekend. The fake mustache store is right around the corner from my work, so it was easy.

The guy there showed me how to put it on, and urged me to buy two, because, he said "you'll be dag, I didn't do this right, and then you'll be stuck without a mustache." I said that's OK, I'll take that chance.

He himself had a thin, handsome mustache. Why do black guys with mustaches not look porny, like so many white guys with mustaches do? He bade me goodbye with the words: "Have fun with your mustache!"

See, I saw this photo of Brad Pitt out of Cannes from the Inglourious Basterds premiere, and I thought--I wonder if I could do that. Favorite Cousin, whom I most resemble, looks like Brad Pitt with a sharper nose. But my nose is sharper and bigger still, so it just doesn't work. I still think I make a better-looking man, and anyone who sees me next to Favorite Cousin might agree. I really liked Brad Pitt's boots and costume, though. I would like to call myself Oscar Wilder or Titus Entry. I would like to be a dashing drag king, but instead I just look...confused.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Magical Elixir That Is Red Box Wine

I don't know what it is, but every time I spend an evening rehearsing dirty songs and having choreographed simulated butt sex, I get a poem out of it.


The angels instruct:
Attend to what remains.

A woman of courage and stamina
Would at least lift her head
And wash out those empty cups
And put them away properly.

A woman of strength would
Not collapse into herself
At a word at the door,
At an innocent question.

The angels offer no comfort;
Silence, the two full cups,
The stream that's not much more
Than a trickle now.

A woman of assurance would stand up,
Raise a toast, and at least attempt
To trace that flow to its source.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Comic Book Heroines

Wretchedly busy, but have been thinking about these things for days--
My daughter grabs the paper every morning now to read the comics. I took her to free comic book day a few weekends ago, and they gave her a whole stack of comics, and the end was served--she's hooked. Mama got a special Swamp Thing reissue. Here are my other favorites:

I don't always agree with this young lady, especially what she did to her boyfriend's guitar, but that's easy for a person who doesn't get jealous to say. But here, Judge Judy meets Courtney Love and Margaret Choand I concede her brilliance.

Alison Bechdel got me through some tough days back in the '80s. This handsome reissue of Dykes to Watch Out For plays like a box set.

Carol Lay's graphic novel memoir has gotten some controversy because it's a weight-loss book. I peeked through it because I couldn't figure out how she'd managed to gain weight at Burning Man. I've only ever been to my little local regional, and I always lose about five pounds, cause I'm so busy stumbling around and I'm so paranoid about food poisoning. It's not as anti-fat evil size-ist bad as people say--gets into a lot of issues of women's body images, food habits, some Omnivore's Dilemma-esque musings, etc. You know, if it's OK to be any size, why is it evil to choose to be smaller? (And it was cause she ate the s'mores. Didn't she realize you can get listeriosis from those things???)

UPDATE: I am so fucking embarrassed--I typed Sandra Oh instead of Margaret Cho above, fixed now. Does this mean I'm an anti-Asian racist deep inside? I'm going to be all freaking about this for weeks. I don't even watch Gray's Anatomy! (But somebody posted about the show on Facebook and all the sudden I had this rush of remembering a mistake, damn!) I know the difference between the two Tony Leungs, damnit! (Big Tony is handsomer and gets the straight sex scenes, and Little Tony is a better actor. And gay.) Does any of that make a difference? No. Lack of sleep? No. It's indefensible. And I'm sorry.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Bit of Vertigo

Torn from the Lonely Planet

San Francisco was the site
Of the coldest summer solstice I've experienced.
We'd been running the roads at Big Sur,
Jade pebbles, seal barks, rogue waves;
Then the winding drive up the coast;
A ball game, the Portuguese water dogs
Plunging into the Bay with all the abandon
Of Kim Novak in one of her trances
(They were never phony to me, Scottie);
The filtered light behind the screens
At a Japanese noodle house; the movie
Where the singer's space helmet filled with water
As the last words of his song bubbled out,
Take after take, he endured; a reading
At the famous occult store, the counsel:
Cultivate the quality of discrimination,
The need to balance these ambiguities persists,
You'll have to shoulder those swords
A little bit longer, dear.

And then the ceremony, just south
Of the Sutro baths. The witches came
Carrying wood, built a bonfire,
And one set a chair in the sand, in the west.
The priestess sat with her back to the ocean
And hoisted the swords into position, and nodded
When she was ready for the blindfold.
I had a few pages I was finished with;
I fed them to the fire.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tomorrow Leaf

The Batman alerted me to the story of poet Craig Arnold, who went missing on a simple hike while in Japan and is now presumed dead.

His last blog post is a beautiful page on the plant angelica, and the LA times blog above has some links to poems online.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Healing and Stealing

I keep forgetting and can't afford/get childcare, but you could go! Eternal Return, a collaborative performance piece at the Source, Friday and Saturday eves and Sunday 3 p.m. Hey, actually maybe I could go Sunday. That would mean not pulling invasive plants that day as I had planned. What is the right thing to do? The critical choices one is faced with. Why is life So Hard.

Involving my favorite local living artist: Rosemary Feit Covey, BosmaDance and the Smith Farm Cancer Center for Healing and the Arts. She has an exhibit at Torpedo Factory in cahoots with it as well. She did a whole series on emerging diseases, how can you not love that.

We just had an ethical issue in the Cougar household cause DD thought up a scheme whereby she could get more than her two allotted library books through a convenient evasion of the truth. My daughter lied so she could get more library books. And my heart is torn. I mean, means and ends? We have been discussing it and acting to correct it for two days now. She is now afraid to tell the librarian (the next step in trying to make it right), but I told her that her librarian looks to me like a person who has seen it all and will understand. Which is true. She's kind of Goth, in a good way, and I like her very much.

Photo: Stolen from BosmaDance website, and created by Enoch Chan--more of his photos are here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Renaissance Men vs. Medieval Haters

Wow. Cool wild lightning flashes and big Thor thunder outside.

The once admirable civil rights fighter Marion Barry has folded, refusing to support equal rights and standing on the side of ignorance, along with a gang of "ministers" just about holding pitchforks outside the DC council meeting.

And just a few days ago, there I was calling out to DH over breakfast, reading aloud chunks of Colbert King's column and banging the table in astounded approval. He reports on Morehouse College president Robert M. Franklin's recent address, in which he calls Morehouse students "Renaissance men with social conscience and global perspective."

The column goes on to quote the speech:

"As an all-male institution with the explicit mission of educating men with disciplined minds," said Franklin, "the great challenge of this moment in history is our diversity of sexual orientation."

"Why don't we," he asked the students, "use this opportunity to model something our community needs?"

"Straight men," Franklin said, "should learn more about the outlooks and contributions of gay men. Read a book by a gay author. Have an intelligent conversation with a gay neighbor." Franklin reminded the Morehouse students: "At a time when it was truly scandalous to have homosexual friends or associates, Dr. King looked to Bayard Rustin, a black gay man, as a trusted adviser. And, Malcolm X regarded James Baldwin, a black gay man, as a brilliant chronicler of the black experience."

"To my straight brothers," he said, "diversity at Morehouse is an opportunity that can enrich your education if you are courageous enough to seize the opportunity. We cannot force you, but we invite you to learn from your environment."

Um, amen?

Photo: More info on the film.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Singing on a Kia

It's not all bad.

And I've got such a crush on Margaret Chan.

What we are now hearing is calls for a fundamental re-engineering of the international systems. We are hearing clear calls, from leaders around the world, to give these systems a moral dimension and to invest them with social values – like equity, sustainability, community, and social justice.

Personally, when I hear these calls, I cannot help but think of primary health care and the value system articulated in the Declaration of Alma-Ata 30 years ago.

Even before the financial crisis, many public health leaders saw great merit in returning to the values, principles, and approaches of public health.

In my view, values like equity and social justice are more important now, in this out-of-balance world, than ever before.

Human society has always been characterized by inequities. History has long had its robber-barons, and its Robin Hoods. The difference today is that these inequities, especially in access to health care, have become so deadly.

Technical tools for saving and prolonging lives keep getting better, yet more and more people are left behind, excluded from the benefits of even the older tools.