April 30, 2018
Here's two from Francis Bacon:
Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.
The monuments of wit survive the monuments of power.
[hope that's true]
& this great anecdote, which I believe comes from a Reddit question:
When I was young my father said to me: "Knowledge is Power - Francis Bacon."
I understood it as "Knowledge is power, France is Bacon." (more…)
April 29, 2018
Michael Lally at Howl gallery, April 25, 2018. I know he looks like an alien but that's just my bad photography.
What an excellent poet he is & how great to have his giant new book Another Way to Play: Poems 1960-2017,
published by my old friend Dan Simon at Seven Stories. Bob Holman introduced him & then Lal sat down at the piano & played some lovely riffs—he used to play in bars, he reminded us. He read old & new work, the older work deepened by age & health troubles, all of it as straight-on as ever.
If you missed this event, he's at the Poetry Project on May 9.
April 27, 2018
Poem Made of Lines
c’mon c’mon who’s got a dollah?
who’s got two?
who’s got five?
the evidence is on my face
my face like the tread of new tires
confidence in beauty is a kind of genius
the pretty girls, man, I can’t say nothing to them
one minute I’m me, & then I’m still me
a red-winged blackbird silent on a wire
anywhere I had never been was where I had to be
elsewhere: the most beautiful & saddest word I know
the light’s not shining on you but through you
where will I lay my head tonight?
c’mon c’mon who’s got a dollah for me?
April 26, 2018
Starting the Day with a Poem
& by “start” I mean before noon
I’ve been up since 5
& by “day” I mean it’s raining
& dogs are barking
& I can’t wake up & can’t back to sleep
& I missed 10 o’clock class & am on track to miss 12:30
& by “poem” I mean it reveals something above human nature
or how language drives us like rock
or how to step carefully on this one path
or why I’m loved
& by “headache”* I mean I don’t know if it will help
to take a Claritin
& by “the cat” I mean can’t he stop with the toe nibbling
& by “music” I mean Johnny Cash, the Louvin Brothers, & the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet
& by “see ya later” I mean see ya later
April 25, 2018
Suddenly I love pigeons! It was seeing some gorgeous pinups, & subscribing to Cornell's Ornithology whatever, which I barely look at but it's put birds on my brain, & the love of so many friends for birds, & this article from Mental Floss. C'mon! They are smart & quick & NOT flying rats! Also, we don't get a lot of wildlife here in the city, & I am never gonna fall for rats, I'm quite sure.
Every year there's a few days of blooms for this tulip tree. I finally took a picture. How many more springs will I have to enjoy this tree?
April 24, 2018
How would my life be different if Beth & I hadn't hitchhiked to Washington D.C. on this date in 1971? If she hadn't woken up with that sweet smile she always woke up with (one of my favorite things about her) & W-- hadn't fallen in love with her and she with him? What if I hadn't been "stuck" spending the day with his friends, who became my (more…)
April 23, 2018
Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.
~ Leonardo da Vinci
And the great thing is all habits are a little snowball that just need to be nudged downhill. Then they pick up steam & keep going till they become inevitable.
April 22, 2018
Church of Betty at Drom on Avenue A.
Things I hadn't done in a long time:
= Gone out to hear music at a club.
= Run into friends who had also come out to see Church of Betty and Life in a Blender. That made it seem like the old days, when the number of fans & venues was so small you pretty much always ran into people you knew.
= Hung out with my friend Nancy. For heaven's sake, New Jersey isn't THAT far away
April 20, 2018
I've never been a science guy, which I now regret. It's amazing how people think of things to think about & then come up with experiments & theories. Here's a couple of things going on in the world that blow me away. (more…)
April 19, 2018
As soon as I bought my ticket for Norway, which Robyn & I have been planning for ages, I wanted to go more places, so I bought a ticket for Albuquerque to see friends & breathe that clear air & catch an Isotopes minor league game. Norway in August, New Mexico in two weeks. I tried to go to Spain tomorrow for some gig of Mercè's but it cost over $3,300.
April 18, 2018
They must be adding these signs. I'm sure I didn't see it before, & I keep my eyes open. I love feeling connected to these tendrils of heritage. In this case, it's knowing (a little) Elizabeth Murray, who I adored for her quality of absolute listening, & Hettie Jones, who still lives at 27 Cooper Square & is as fierce at 80-something as ever she was, probably more. For example, when they tried to tear her building down to put up a fancy hotel, she fought until they agreed to construct it around her.
April 17, 2018
Sending love (& more love) from this public/private post. I meant to post a photo from his birthday 5 years ago, when we were at the Okeefenokee, but he looked so sleepy & disgruntled that here's a picture of one of the wildlife we saw that day.
April 16, 2018
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.
~ Charlie Chaplin
And you so often don't realize you are being protective of your ego until bits of it accidentally fall away. I didn't realize I was writing So Late into the Night,
my long poem in ottava rima, for an audience until it got turned down by a couple of publishers. I loved it so much I kept rewriting it, keeping in mind Murat Nemet-Nejat's great line: If no one is buying the bread you're baking, you can make it as salty as you want. I anticipated that poem never getting published so I wrote it to please myself only—and it became my most admired (or well-reviewed, anyway) work.
April 15, 2018
I don't get up to Harlem much but my friend's boyfriend was playing in a band so up I went. I don't even know the name of the bar—it was up a steep flight of stairs, that's all I can say.
Even though it took 3 trains, a shuttle bus, & an hour to get home, I'd go back.
Don't think I can say the same about (more…)
April 13, 2018
And here's Johnny's tattoo of the Consumptive Poets League logo.
April 12, 2018
There was also a Bronx Beach Branch.
Bits of the past turning up. How many of these t-shirts did we make? Probably just 3, one for each of us, Maggie, Rachel & me. I don't know why we would have made more, & we probably could only afford 3. This is so delicate & holey. I doubt if another one exists in this world.
Johnny has a tattoo of our logo, the pen with the Lung Association symbol. His has a drop of blood falling off the end.
April 11, 2018
I just finished the most difficult piece I ever wrote. It's heavy science, & under strict embargo so I can't even give a real sample, but it's something like this: (more…)
April 10, 2018
I just completed my second Duolingo "tree," this one tainted by them rolling out a whole new system of points & lessons. So far I find it extremely annoying—they claim it adds complexity, but the dozen lessons I did were mostly variants of the same words & sentences, over & over. Maybe in the more difficult lessons, they do add on, but I was hoping to rattle through the earliest ones, maybe even test out (no longer an option). The timed lesson, (more…)
April 9, 2018
Bureaucracy is not an impediment to democracy but an inevitable complement to it.
~ Joseph Schumpeter
And not only inevitable but enviable, according to a Thomas Friedman column I read years ago in the Times
& have never forgotten, in which he say, "Indeed, what foreigners envy us most for is precisely (more…)
April 8, 2018
There was the sign, but no one was there writing my poem while I waited. With the shot clocks, what do they call 'em, that tell you how long till the train comes, there's less anxiety about timing & less need for a distracting poem. I still have plenty anxiety about getting where I'm going, though. For a former messenger, you'd think I would treat the subway system with more aplomb, but honestly, Queens yesterday (in a car) & Brooklyn today (4 train on the 2-3 line—I mean!).
April 5, 2018
Another reminder that time changes everything is Emperor Akihito's visit to Okinawa, site of one of the deadliest battles of WWII, where 200,000+ Japanese and Americans died in 1945. According to The Economist,
"The emperor has repeatedly intervened in the controversy over Japan’s actions in the war, and obliquely criticised its drift from pacifism. In 2015 he chided the nation to 'learn from and study history'—widely seen as a rebuke to revisionists who dismiss evidence of war crimes and reject the 'apology diplomacy' of the post-war years."
This shows how easy it is to forget how we got here, wherever here is. Women forget the struggle for suffrage & don't value the vote. Soldiers forget how horrible it was to be in an unnecessary conflict & support warmongers. A country that waged war denies its culpability. The abuser blames the abused.
April 4, 2018
Look for it on Amazon or from me. This is a photo of the cover—that little color on the right isn't really there. Albie Mitchell took the picture.
I've gone from nervous to repelled to excited. I'm especially happy that roughly half the book consists of work that hasn't been collected and/or published before.
It's relaxing to know that everything isn't going to change because of this book. I used to think that, so a lot was riding on it. But something
will come of it—it always does, but not what I expect. My most-rejected manuscript became my best-regarded book... my baseball book made no money but got me entree into press boxes & because of it I even got to throw out the first pitch at a minor league ballgame. Like that.
April 3, 2018
Is it an April thing that I can barely keep my eyes open?
Or a post-travel thing? Although I was only 1 time zone west, so it's hard to blame jet lag.
Maybe my house is filled with poison.
My office is filled with those horrible drain flies that go up your nose. They don't bite or buzz but are annoying nonetheless.
April 2, 2018
You gotta have a swine to show you where the truffles are.
I have been thinking about this quote. I have little to add. It's a good reminder that you have to go to your dark places to find the art—& beauty & grandeur. That they come from crap. And also, maybe, that anyone can be useful—I used to get the most help with my poems from a non-poet friend who had an unerring ear for b.s., whether or not she knew why.