FCs, here we come

July 31, 2018

I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I don't think any of my FCs (Favorite Cousins) read my blog. I ordered these buttons to hand out at our family reunion—we leave tomorrow for South Dakota & go up to Cable, WI, on Monday where we'll be meeting up with, at last count, 46 of us, including at least one set of fourth cousins.

We all call each other FC & I remember my shock & dismay when I realized my sister & I aren't actually FCs. We decided it's an embracing term & we ARE in fact FCs.

Can't wait!

Monday Quote

July 30, 2018

Tags: George Bernard Shaw

We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.
~ George Bernard Shaw

This makes me want to read Shaw again. Cranky, insightful, visionary Shaw.

New York in the summertime

July 27, 2018

It's raining I'm working I'm expiring I'm half-hoping that people overhearing me speaking Norwegian to a practice tape are thinking I'm on the phone in a Foreign Language, although it's obvious that I'm repeating simple sentences several times. What kind of conversation consists of "where's the bathroom?" long pause "I am driving to Oslo" long pause "it is 75 kilometers" long pause "no, 65" & so on. Also I dropped a big but luckily empty jar on my toe. It hurts!


July 25, 2018

I was sure I had suddenly gotten cataracts, but it turns out the reason I couldn't see was that my glasses were smudged from the rain & heavy greasy air that we are enjoying in NYC today.

Questions & answers

July 24, 2018

Semi-random image from down the block.
Why are you washing your clothes in soup?
That's not soup, that's air.

Why do people live in New Jersey?
That's not exhaust, that's air. Also, too lazy to search for the pink promise.

When will my leg be better?
The Shadow knows not.

Who is sleeping in my bed?
You, your man, your cat, & soup.

What time is it?
No trick questions! No philosophy! No speculating! Drop that bone & back away!

Where time is it?
Good question! I can answer that!

Monday Quote

July 23, 2018

Tags: Washington Irving

Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune, but great minds rise above it.
~ Washington Irving

Is this true? Can't you be subdued & also stick it out? Is enduring not (similar to) rising above? If I complain but soldier on, do I have a little or a great mind? Are their no categories between little & great? Why did I even save this quotation? What did I think it meant when I first noticed it? Did I imagine for a moment I was a rise-above type of person? Every time I have a headache or I stub my toe, I think: give up now before life gets even more painful. Yes, I want to die when I suffer for even a moment. I am almost not joking.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

July 20, 2018

Tags: Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Ingalls Museum in De Smet, South Dakota.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was ours, we South Dakota kids. DeSmet was an hour away & we would go their sweet hokey pageant in the summer. I was startled that Hollywood made a TV show—startled that people other than us were interested or had even heard of her. She described the natural phenomena that we observed, & she connected us to a pioneer past & made it mine.

Now the Association for Library Service to Children has stripped her name off a prestigious award for children's literature. I do see both sides: (more…)

Socket to me

July 19, 2018

I do see the pig snout aspect, although not the link to a plow blade. I suppose if I were closer to my prairie roots, it would be obvious.
I was sitting next to Michael Lally at Bob Holman's place, after the Barg memorial & he said how everything is interesting—I think the context was about the definition of a poet is someone is who is interested, although now I am not sure he said that at all.

Today I randomly looked up the word SOCKET. It didn’t seem like a particularly fascinating word, probably not a word I’ve ever used. Like I say, random. I had been thinking that I needed to know the words I use better—their exact meanings, their origins.


Viking tattoo

July 18, 2018

Not that I'm getting a tattoo or anything but this is pretty cool. According to the guy who has it, who had recently come back from Iceland, it's Aegishjalmur or "helm of awe" & dates back to Viking times. "The lady who did it used pokes, the traditional Old Norse way." Also called stick & poke, it's basically a jailhouse tattoo, although this one is beautifully done, unlike the fuzzy teardrops you're more likely to see.

The Poetry Project

July 17, 2018

Whiling away a thundery afternoon at the Native Bean on Ave A with the Project's new director, Kyle Dacuyan. We talked about poetry & poets & what he has in mind for the Project. I approve! It's not up to me to say more, but I did want to register how great it was to hang out. Something I've been doing for 40 years, talking the day away with smart interesting people. Lucky life.

I say nothing about treason & treachery!

Monday Quote

July 16, 2018

Tags: Thomas Hardy

Though a good deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.
~ Thomas Hardy

Johnny's next tattoo?

I asked for a response to the quote & he said, "I'll put that on my leg."

We all have those stories that are too unlikely to be good fiction & too suspect to be nonfiction. (more…)


July 15, 2018

Yesterday I read my favorite section of the Torah, two columns of Matot-Masei known as the Journeys. I like it because I love lists & the heart of this read is a long list, sans detail, of the places the Israelites camped in their 40 years wandering in the desert.

The pattern is: They traveled from (more…)

One day in New York City

July 12, 2018

Whoohoo, I finally figured out that my stupid insurance covers a cleaning & visit so I was reunited with Dr. Lucente and the wondrous soft-handed hygienist Alma. Everything else is ala carte; I cheerfully & gladly dropped $150 to have a loose crown soldered back into place.

Meanwhile, my insane but lovable husband got a new tattoo. I have to admit that they all fit him perfectly in some wacko way. This one's the catchphrase from his brilliant novel Mangled Hands: I Tarcisius Tandihetsi say so.

And while I was sitting in Tompkins Square Park, two NYU marketing students interviewed me about electric cars & family brands—I'm not sure what their main topic even was. They said I was the best person they had talked to. And I thought, I'd better be!

Johnny's Universal Botanica Mystical Shop

July 11, 2018

4th Avenue, Brooklyn.
I love to find businesses run by Johnny. There've been bars & maybe a shoe repair shop but this is the first botanica. His secret life.

World traveler

July 10, 2018

Brooklyn, baby!
Will I ever stop marveling about leaving my neighborhood? It really wasn't tough to get to Park Slope, only took 1/2 an hour, door to door including the several blocks of walking, & I got a nice lunch from Martha & Baz, plus brainstorming about our next season of Prose Pros & a few minutes of this complex architecture. Outdoor subway platforms—my happy place.

Martha writes in a memoir that when they bought this house in the 60s, someone they knew shook his head and said, "Brooklyn? Are things that bad?"

Monday Quote

July 9, 2018

Tags: James Baldwin

Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.
~ James Baldwin, Paris Review Interviews, II

True, true, true. Endurance through illness, dissipation, poverty, distraction, shiny desire. Talent is such a small part of anything. Pouring yourself into something is what creates or discovers talent.

Sunny summer Sunday

July 8, 2018

Host Sanjay Agnihotri, me (the tall one), Lally.
Feeling happy to have gotten through my Local Knowledge reading with Lally this afternoon & that so many people came despite it being one of the first lovely days in a while. Read some work I'd never read out loud—loved some, was OK with others. I love poetry, I love thinking about poetry, I love knowing poets & listening to their work, I love when poets (& others) are smart about or interested in my work.

My name on a building!

July 6, 2018

Houston & Norfolk streets.
I never thought I had that sort of ego. My name on the spine of a book, for sure, but on a building...

Eh. Feh. Ech. (Sound of indifference.)

But I did get a little excited by this.

Reflecting on fireworks

July 5, 2018

Every year they shoot 'em off from a slightly different place. For a couple of years it was downtown & we could see really well. Last year we got nothing & this year we got some. It was almost more intriguing to see the reflection & hear the echo in the building a little to the southeast—that pink wash in the upper right is sparkle bursting in air.

Just as I love snow most when I don't have to go anywhere to see it, I love fireworks most from my own roof, even truncated, half-hidden, leaning onto the shaky parapet.

This year... this year it's harder to feel wholehearted—as someone said, it's like holding a birthday party for someone who's been kidnapped.

Buster talks back IV

July 4, 2018

That sweet little face, I could just eat him up. I love that all he really wants is to be near me. Cuddle cuddle, little man.

Buks R 4 Loosers

July 3, 2018

It was depressing to see this right on my block, just a couple doors down. Is it a joke? Can people really not spell books? Is it someone ... well, whom? Nothing really seems that funny right now, not the weather or the political climate... no issue safe from worry & outrage....

Johnny thought the picture was funny. When I asked why, he said, "A bookcase with books are for losers." Ha ha!

You're just repeating what you see, I said. Then he basically said I was a humorless assling & we walked down to the benches & read our summer book (The Odyssey).

Monday Quote

July 2, 2018

Tags: Whitman

Folks expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which always attach to dumb real objects: They expect him to indicate the path between reality and their souls.
~ Walt Whitman

What I wrote yesterday was inspired by thinking about Whitman, especially during the Civil War. Such beauty from such horror. The poet of empathy & isn't that what art is all about.


July 1, 2018

Tags: Civil War, Lincoln

I have been thinking about the Civil War—the grave danger to the union, the huge loss of life, "brother against brother" (something much more imaginable than ever before). And the many terrible & antidemocratic court decisions in our history, like Plessy v Ferguson, the Japanese internment camps, the 3/5ths compromise, Citizens United.

I'm reminded that we as a country have survived many disasters. I know that doesn't mean we will survive the current catastrophic administration & its appalling apologists, but I do have a little hope. We survived the Great Depression and the robber barons & the Gilded Age & slavery, and I don't think people were smarter, kinder, tougher. A moral genius came along and preserved the Union. Maybe we will be lucky & find one again. Did the nation in the 1860s deserve Lincoln any more than we deserve tRump? I don't think so, but we got them.

Now we have to refuse to buckle to despair. Who will that help?