Why I don't read science fiction

November 30, 2014

One winter I lived in the woods in Maine with 4 other people, in a one-room A-frame with a divided, doorless loft. One by one the others read Dune, by Frank Herbert, and one by one they went into a depression (not in the least exacerbated by the fact that we were (more…)

Family traits

November 28, 2014

* Loud sneezes. A family story is the time my folks went to the theater up in the Twin Cities. Just when the murderer was creeping up on his victim, my dad sneezed so loud that even the actor jumped. A few days later, back in Sioux Falls, a client said, Hans, the funniest thing—we went to a show in Minneapolis last weekend, & right at the climax, some guy sneezed, really loud. Do tell, my dad murmured.

* Anti–foot fetish. No pedicures, please.

* Fear of squirrels.

* Couch sleeping.

Thanksgiving Found Poem

November 27, 2014

Many years we go to my grandmother's in Virginia.
My mother, father, aunts and at least two of my brothers are there.
My son has a football game that morning.
My daughter is home, but needs to get back to school this weekend.
My wife doesn't want to ride for nine hours and turn right back.
Sometimes I have gone alone, but not often.
A couple of neighbors were vying for our company.
One of those my daughter’s boyfriend’s family,
Which we did last year and had fun.
But this year it will be another family,
One we have visited on two or three other Thanksgivings.
I have a turkey freezing in the garage.

Nothing to do with it.

Jim Dine & Johnny Stanton

November 26, 2014

Tags: Jim Dine, Johnny Stanton

Jim Dine & Johnny Stanton
This was a Valentine's present many years ago. The art, not the guy, who showed up & never left. And likes Jim Dine.

I want to start taking photos of other visitors to my space. Today it was Becca (with Swiss chocolate), Bob (with beatnik tales) & Anselm (his own sweet self).

And I have a subconjunctival hemorrhage, a giant blood spot right in my eye (that's a photo you do not want to see). (more…)

My favorite joke

November 25, 2014

A skeleton walks into a bar.

The bartender says, Hey, buddy, what'll it be?

The skeleton says, Give me a beer... & a mop.

Leaning ziggurat of toilet paper

November 24, 2014

It was either this picture or one of the first Christmas tree of the year, which I saw last Thursday on the Fulton Street Mall in Brooklyn. I don't guess I have anything insightful to say about either one except that they're part of my world & my day & what I see when I'm out & about, or in & about.

I'm trying to decide whether to leave the t.p. as it is & buy a few new packs, or destroy the symmetry. In other words, is it an installation or a happening?

O Brooklyn II

November 23, 2014

This is a 2009 glass mosaic in the Jay Street subway station called Departures & Arrivals, by Ben Snead. It depicts the borough's diversity in 6 species: tiger beetle (local but disappearing), European starling (England), house sparrow (Europe), red lion fish (Indian Ocean), monk parrot (S. America) and koi (Japan). We come & we go, & sometimes we end up in a place more to our liking.

O Brooklyn

November 21, 2014

Tags: Basil King

The stage right before the show started
I'm really glad I went to BAM for Black Mountain Songs, featuring the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and Basil King (thanks, Martha!). Baz's down-to-earth honesty was a perfect counterpart to the young people's ethereal voices, singing works by Fielding Dawson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan an others, set to music for this event. I also loved hearing a clip of Charles Olson reading Maximus to Gloucester, in that pure midcentury Massachusetts accent.

What I didn't love was getting lost on the way there: what happened to Fulton Street? Dang, it was right there, if I'd simply looked down the block I would have seen the theater & not taken a giant detour. After the show, I went the wrong way for many blocks before I figured out that I should have gotten to the subway by now. Did I want to become a member of BAM? Thanks, but not until I can get there without getting lost.

A nest of hypers

November 20, 2014

Tags: Kaufman & Hart

I wanted to walk by the winter ocean. Johnny agreed to go to Coney Island because it meant we weren't going to go away overnight, to Philly. He's a man who knows how to cut his losses. It was 20° yesterday so I gave in & we dashed up to TKTS & scored excellent half-price seats to (more…)

My 15 minutes

November 19, 2014

Tags: EVGrieve

I was walking down First Avenue the other day when a young man asked if I was familiar with the neighborhood. Well, I do live here. Do you know the blog EVGrieve? Of course! When he told me he's the person who does the "Out & About in the East Village" feature & could he interview me for it, I was so excited. I love that feature & have dreamed of being in it—basically, a hyperlocal Pulitzer Prize. (Click on the photo caption to read the whole piece.)

I only regret that I didn’t think to tell him about the time I told my cousin that I live in the best apartment in the building, & the best building in the neighborhood, & the best neighborhood in the city, & the best city in the world—& then it dawned on me: I LIVE IN THE BEST APARTMENT IN THE WORLD! And my cousin gently said, I'm not sure everyone would agree, El.

Update: Ah, fame. Somehow this post disappeared from my blog; I've restored it as best I recall.

Happy birthday, South Dakota

November 18, 2014

My home state turned 125 this month. When I was little, you still occasionally met someone who remembered the days when it was Dakota Territory.

Ask me anything. State bird? The ring-necked pheasant, an import from China that was introduced for hunting. My dad often took payment in trade, so we ate pheasant (& buckshot) pretty frequently.

State tree? The telephone pole. That's (more…)

The Mexicans

November 17, 2014

Though we always say "the Mexicans'," it's really called Downtown Bakery & I eat there often enough that they know my voice on the phone & half the time they say "give me 10 minutes" before I even tell them what I want. (It's always a ranchero burrito or a torta de queso.) The food is made by several members of a big, close family. The best part, in a way, is how small & unappealing the place is from the outside—it keeps the crowds away. One of the places that reminds me that I really live here.

Techno poetry

November 16, 2014

Tags: bioluminescence, luminescence

A glow-in-the-dark bike path just opened in Nuenen, Netherlands, designed by an artist named Daan Roosegaarde as homage to Van Gogh's "Starry Night." (Roosegaarde's the one who called it techno poetry.) “By incorporating lighting into the bicycle path itself, additional street lighting is unnecessary,” reads a project description, which also assures us that the "bicycle path lighting is as subtle as possible to ensure minimal intrusion on the habitat of animals." Me, I'm a sucker for luminescent & fluorescent (more…)

Ice world

November 14, 2014

Everything about Philae lander blows my mind: that it landed on a comet! That the moon is 1 light second from us & Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is 28 light minutes away. That it took 10 years to get to a comet more than 300 million miles from Earth. That scientists managed to figure out how to build something that could land on a tiny chunk of ice that far from here. How it sounds (click on the photo caption). That we can see a comet up close! Rosetta, (more…)

The benefits of cleaning

November 13, 2014

I put this pillow outside & it disappeared right away
I found a box of books, including a couple I looked everywhere for not long ago. Why were they shoved under a table & not displayed on a shelf? I have no idea! And as usual when I'm cleaning & tossing, I ask: Why was I keeping THAT? It's embarrassing what I seem to think I might just want or need in some unspecified future. And of course the longer you hang on to some stupid thing, the more it seems of important, historic &/or sentimental value.

"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that you are constantly making exciting discoveries!--A.A. Milne

More about WCW

November 12, 2014

Tags: William Carlos Williams

We've all absorbed Williams' examples so well that his "I do this, I do that" poems (except it's patients & Elsie & Kathleen & a Negro woman who do this or that) almost no longer demonstrate his startling freshness (although they do!). I remember an acquaintance, burning with indignation, saying "This Is Just to Say"—the famous "plums" poem—was "nothing but (more…)

A quote I like (& thoughts about it)

November 11, 2014

Tags: William Carlos Williams, Wendell Berry

Not a farmer
What we know of Paradise we learn here, by looking, by vision, by imagination, and both Paradise and the ground underfoot are always beyond the perfect grasp of our arts, as of our sciences. —Wendell Berry, The Poetry of William Carlos Williams of Rutherford

As with a poem, you can't summarize this book, but I think it fair to say it concerns itself with what Berry calls (more…)

The Tompkins Square Poems V

November 10, 2014

Tags: The Tompkins Square Poems

5. I Can’t Have Enough

the invisible elm
that’s impossible
to miss

a tall man & a short man
a woman in a gold dress & church hat
dogs – hipster glasses – dogs –

skinny well-dressed young folk – dogs

Dante’s Inferno & I miss Eileen –
wherever she is

that’s the center

might be roses, woodpeckers, pedophiles
what’s for dinner, billy boy?

Little miss tidy

November 9, 2014

Books everywhere
So I leaned on a shelf & it immediately split from the bookcase, not dumping everything & it probably would be fine indefinitely, but I decided to Fix It, so I dug under the tub for nails & a hammer, which led to me throwing away 2 full bags of paper bags (sacks) that were between me & the tools, taking all the books out of that bookcase, tossing 1 or 2, failing to hammer a nail (sheesh) & feeling inspired to clean, toss, discard, clean both home & office. Only 50-odd days left in 2014. Whatever else, I can go into 2015 with LESS.

Friday, yes indeed II

November 7, 2014

Just when I thought I had the whole day to myself, first my email went wonkers & I took careless stabs at it wherever I could find a place so I messed it up more, & then suddenly it worked fine, better than ever. Then I hung out with some friends visiting. Then it got cold & (more…)

Rainy Thursday

November 6, 2014

Gonna start my tea, hang up my gi, read a little WC* ... no, that's not today's poem, just singin' on my way to my desk to say I saw a lady cardinal on the curb a few doors down; adding to the pleasure was pointing it out to a passerby, who mirrored my (more…)


November 5, 2014

This year it stands for National Poetry Writing Month. I don't have a quick novel in me this year but I do have a poem a day, although Zacks says every day is PoWri day, yoyo. Yesterday I was rapturous at spotting a raptor (they have two foveas, that's why an eagle is "eagle-eyed") (more…)

Summer in November

November 4, 2014

So great that the coffee shop was too crowded for 3 of us, so we walked a block or 2 to Union Square & sat outside on a 76° day. And far across the park, David said, Look, a raptor! And when it dropped near us he knew it was an osprey not a hawk. A good meeting AND I saw an osprey. A productive & pleasant morning.

The Tompkins Square Poems IV

November 3, 2014

Tags: The Tompkins Square Poems

4. I Can’t Have Thoughts

I can only try to keep my loved ones alive
& sit outside on a summer bench
& be amazed at knowing so many people
with darkling eyes

The plane that didn’t crash & the one that did.

Pet Peeve V

November 2, 2014

Tags: pet peeves

I know a lot of people who make a point of articulating things they are grateful for. I myself make a list every morning & it invariably improves my mood. It occurs to me that expressing our thanks should be part of that exercise.

I recently did favors for a couple of people, who both neglected (more…)