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I was hanging out with my sister at her hotel last night. She turned the TV on and there was the final (on ESPN, no less) of the spelling bee. Gripping. The only word I spelled right was the championship word (& I was a regional spelling champ way back when), not that I could  Read More 
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Cloud appreciating III (another DeLay)

I like this one of his too, but then, I like most of 'em. Even the ones I'm not so struck by are an important part of the continuum.
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Cloud appreciating II

This is a "tornado warned supercell outside of Big Springs, Texas," chased by landscape photographer Kelly DeLay in his Clouds 365 Project: "Photographic experiment shooting clouds everyday, 1792 days and counting." Each & every of his daily photographs is worth a look. They add up to: What? What's important here? The beauty of the clouds? His eye for them? His consistency? Having a body of work? Any given photo? The doing of it, whether or not anything comes of it? Thinking of oneself as an artist? Not thinking of oneself as an artist but as a craftsman, an observer, a wonderer, a person who has stepped outside of daily obviousness?  Read More 
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Ron Poznicek

Docking Boats, Ron Poznicek, 2013.

Ron and I graduated from high school together in Sioux Falls. Even though we hadn’t seen each other in decades and weren’t even really friends back then, when we saw each other in San Francisco, we quickly fell into the school shorthand: I wanted to be a better artist than a certain fellow gradiate, he said, and I knew every shade of meaning in that sentence. That kid was handsome, athletic and from a well-to-do family. Beating someone like that at anything validated your own existence.

Ron is a serious artist, who gets better with every painting. His command of color and composition is remarkable. He’s not trendy, an Impressionist not someone making groundbreaking or startling art. Up close, "Docking Boats" is almost abstract; only from a distance is the picture clear (my photo by no means does it justice). This painting lets me go out on the Bay, gives me a summer day in my basement office. That’s as good as art needs to get for me.

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Word + El = World

Smart Buster
It's 87°! It's summer!

I feel like I earned my keep today with the realization that by adding me, Elinor/El, to the Word, you create the World. Or maybe this means I no longer have to earn my keep. I just Am.

Other than that, I lay around, bought grapes, ran into Jadina, sat in the park with Niedecker.  Read More 
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Sunny Sunday

1st street: flowers & handball
The whole summer ahead: biking, River to River, Queens exploration, poetry, karate, French toast, park bench, birds.

most persons, you find, peck and peck and seldom really lay any eggs
—Lorine Niedecker
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Why a poet?

Because we weren't listened to. We are poets to say the things that should have been, and should be, heard.

Being a poet is the important part. Writing the poems comes after we have the thoughts, after we pay attention.

To be a poet, that is, someone who sees & thinks about the world, or not, that is, someone who lives in the world without having to see every damn thing.

This is from & because of today's / lifetime conversation with Eileen Myles.  Read More 
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And hello from the East Village

When Sandy Berrigan suddenly turned up, Liza was "viciously jealous." It's rained every Thursday this month. Sandy thinks David needs a girlfriend who will stay home and cook & clean for him. She thinks women stay married because they're afraid to live on their own. Those pesky drain flies are still flying into my eyes, despite having been sprayed & fogged. Willie McTell just asked the ticket agent to tell him the train she's on. The garden on 9th & C is circled by daisies made of soda cans. I have to run to the library & return a book: Island by Alistair MacLeod, the island being Nova Scotia. Just got my bike fixed & now it has a flat tire. It's cold! It's raining!  Read More 
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Hello from Spartanburg VI

A bar we didn't go into
While South Carolina is in the running for the last state to approve marriage equality, much has improved over the years. You can be out & not get killed. Steve's friend who preached on Sunday said he used to be racist, homophobic, antisemitic and a Republican. He's proud to have put that behind him.

Not everyone has, of course. I saw an awful lot of gun & ammo shops, & some Bible-thumping. And this Confederate bar, just a couple of miles from where my friends live.

But people in SC Read More 
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Hello from Spartanburg V

Lounge at Steve's
Even tho I'm back (as of this morning), I have more to say about Spartanburg.

Yesterday we went kayaking on the Pacolet River, just a couple of miles from the house. Is it too late for me to become a nature girl? I jumped & screamed every time anything moved. I saw turtles, Canada geese, a squirming wasp larva, a guy fishing.

We ate at Wade's, where a 4-item vegetable plate costs $6.94; you can choose from turnip greens, macaroni & cheese, sweet potato soufflé, creamed corn, and  Read More 
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Hello from Spartanburg IV

Tiny bluebird eggs
Still not sure you can tell how tiny these bluebird eggs are. (I didn't touch them, by the way—that's the angle of the photo.)

Nature here not so much red in tooth & claw as indolent in lunch & dinner. I need a nap, & it's not even 90°. There's not a minute when I'm not amazed to be here, not a tree or vista that isn't satisfying, not a breath I draw that doesn't quiet me. Steve's art is to sponsor unobtrusive beauty. (Not that he laid the bluebird eggs.)

He found a dirt dauber's  Read More 
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Hello from Spartanburg III (glorified)

Steve's friend and neighbor was invited to preach at this church in Spartanburg & I was delighted to go. The warmest welcome you could hope for, exuberant clapping & singing, a sermon emphasizing justice not hellfire, and lunch after for the guest and his guests: mac'n'cheese (a vegetable in the deep South), green beans, apple pie, sweet tea (also chicken & ham, which I skipped). Except for mentions of Jesus, there was very little that wouldn't have been familiar in my synagogue: the emphasis on God's power over our lives, our obligation to gratitude, community, banter, blessings.  Read More 
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Hello from Spartanburg II

Wayne frog-watching
This is Steve & Wayne's indoor garden. It has worms and frogs, as well as several dozen plants. I've been coming to this spot for more than 4 decades. I just watched a frog eat a worm. Slurp, slurp, burp. I have loved this place since the first day I was ever here, which I suppose was my first day in the deep South. I floated on the lake and was so happy I wouldn't have mind dying right then & there. I had never been happier or calmer. Steve is eating a bowl of cereal. We're going up to the mountains of western North Carolina in a little while. Wayne is eating a bowl of cereal. Mason, a 60-pound basset hound, thinks he's a lapdog. Last night I went to a program at the library, and one of the speakers turned out to be Judy Goldman, a poet I published in both of my anthologies. Spartanburg reminds me of Sioux Falls, a small untouristed city. If we weren't taking off soon, I would try to make this add up to something. I ate a bowl of cereal  Read More 
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Hello from Spartanburg

Steve picked me up at the airport & almost the first thing we did was go to the Lincoln cemetery, which is just a couple of miles from where he lives. It's big enough that if you didn't stumble on a grave by luck, you wouldn't find it. So we called the office. "First name WHAT?" she said. "Are you sure?"

She came back to the phone a couple of minutes later: Pink Anderson, Lot B, Section 10. And there he was, complete with a guitar pick someone else had left.

No way to take this picture except close in, so I put my foot in the frame.  Read More 
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Just say yes

Last night when I was leaving someone I know's loft on 17th St, where I'd had an errand, her neighbor had his door open, half a dozen people sitting around his kitchen table. We said howdy & he asked if I wanted a beer. Sure, why not. He was making dinner for a bunch of people  Read More 
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Giant pigeons

Hard to tell how big they really are
Look! the mutant giant pigeons of San Francisco! I'm going to do a little more bird-watching. I'm trying to do one thing every day this week that is out of my routine. Yesterday I checked out the pop-up food court in the island on Broadway across from Madison Square Park: mostly pork or alcohol, or I would have eaten something.

I might be the only person who played in a punk  Read More 
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Southern paradox

"You are kept apart that you may separately be fleeced of your earnings. You are made to hate each other because upon that hatred is rested the keystone of the arch of financial despotism. You are deceived and blinded that you may not see how this race antagonism perpetrates a monetary system that beggars  Read More 
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A walk in the East Village

The pocket gardens full of tulips, bleeding hearts, petunias & a frog. The sun getting right in our faces. The first day it's felt like summer. The ice is gone. The man I love said he would still want me when I'm 90.

Mope No More.
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The present now will later be past

In his storage space, Johnny found this amazing never-sent letter Ted Berrigan wrote to Joe Brainard back in 1982, so beautiful & heartening about poetry, art, & love, & it made me miss not just Ted but that whole era so much. Feels suddenly like so much is ending & that there's almost no one left from the really  Read More 
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More about California

Wallpaper in the Hotel Triton
Our hotel was across the street from Chinatown's dragon gates & just a few blocks from City Lights. The wallpaper has the text of On the Road and there was a copy of that book and of Howl in our room. The Beats are here the way the East Village sells its punk past.

The staff is local and hip. One had "Dan Savage" under his name. I asked why. He said they're encouraged to add the name of someone or something that's a big influence on them, then started to explain who Dan Savage is. We cut him off: We live in New York, we know who Dan Savage is. Everyone in the United States knows who Dan Savage is. OK, I didn't say that last, but anyone who would  Read More 
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Spring vacation

Uncle Vito makes great pizza
San Francisco! Enough like New York that we feel comfortable, different enough that we felt like we'd gotten away. So many highlights: Georgia O'Keeffe at the DeYoung in Golden Gate Park, a boat ride on the bay, cable cars, the views, the shockingly steep hills.

I feel obliged to write out the name of the city every time I use it, as I hail from a town with the initials SF, yet people don't think "Sioux Falls" or for that matter "Santa Fe" when they say SF, do they. All New Yorkers are not from Manhattan, and all SF is not San Francisco.  Read More 
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OK, really leaving

I have checked almost everything off the to-do list, have to run & buy 2 bananas & 2 sandwiches for the flight, & get cat litter. Getting (overly) organized is my way of overcoming the going-to-the airport nervous what-ifs. Once I'm on the plane, I'm fine, no anxiety about the actual flying. Beautiful weather here & there. A real vacation! Our third in 30 years!  Read More 
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Getting ready for vacation

We're going to San Francisco tomorrow for a few days. There'll be a bar mitzvah & a studio visit to an artist friend I haven't seen since high school, possibly an A's game, & lots of relaxing. To prepare, I watched Bullitt and got directions from everywhere to everywhere. What else? Just checked in with the airline, so I know they're expecting us. If the exterminator ever shows up (drain flies! something much, much worse!), I can go to the library & drop off my bike for its spring cleaning. What am I forgetting?  Read More 
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