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The Adirondacks!

Through the magic of technology, I'm writing this in my office on 5th Street on Thursday afternoon, but will be on a train headed north when it's published. If I can, I'll post from Westport, NY, 6 hours away, but since the only wifi is a few miles from my friend's house at the library, which is probably only open a couple hours a week, I'm not planning on it.

Back Tuesday!  Read More 
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A fun night

OK, I didn't take a photo. But the band last night was lined up just like this. They were less white & less snappily dressed too.
Five of us friends from the dojo had Ethiopian food on MacDougal Street (yum, but that spongy injera bread kept expanding in my stomach) then went to hear jazz at the Zinc Bar around the corner on 3rd St. Our dojo friend Mark plays trumpet in the band, which, we learned, doesn't rehearse. At the break I even heard two of the musicians introducing themselves. The bandleader holds up big letters so they know what section to play, either rhythm or solo, and they just do it. Pretty amazing & I think all of them surprised themselves at points. Or maybe not. Maybe they expected it to work this well. I see why pot & jazz go together—you sort of want time to stretch so you can hear everything that's going on.  Read More 
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C'mon, it's the end of August. How could I possibly have any thoughts in my head.

Jeg trenker på brannmenn hele dag.
I think about fireman the whole day.

That's what's in my head.
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Half a thought

For all the people who find out that they're (part) Jewish—Madeleine Albright, John Kerry, lots of not-famous folks—there must be some who find out they aren't Jewish, yes? All Nauens but us are not Jewish, & my dad knew very little about his family. How strange & unnerving Read More 
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So they say

William Jenkins, a North Carolina Civil War soldier, with his flintlock.
I was talking with a couple of guys about idioms & words that hold an invisible meaning, such as one of my favorite words, companion, com = with, pan = bread, so your companion is the person you break bread with.

We got going on expressions that no longer refer to anything that we know about, such as "dead as a doornail," credited to William ("Piers Plowman") Langland, 1350. Doornails were long used to strengthen doors, being hammered all the way through the board then pounded flat, bent so it would be more secure, a process called “clenching.” This rendered the nail unusable for any other purpose. Thus, the bent nail was commonly called “dead."

Here's a whole bunch more, some of which Read More 
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A gift for burning

It's a strange feeling when Johnny is working and Maggie is away. It's the same feeling when I used to drive cross-country long ago. In those days before computers & cellphones, when I would stop when I got tired or to spend the night in a town I took a shine to, I loved the lonesome feeling that no one knew where I was. I would repeat my favorite Adrienne Rich poem, "Song," from Diving into the Wreck, (which is too good to pull apart to quote from so please look it up). The joy is that I won't always be lonely.  Read More 
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Jeg snakker norsk!

Stave church in Norway, which I learned about from my language course.
Well, it's not so much that I speak Norwegian as that I am learning Norwegian. It was a random thing, as my sister turned me on to the terrific language app DuoLingo, and I lit on Norwegian. I can almost read a thriller in Norwegian so it's working. And thrilling.

You can really see the Anglo-Saxon roots of (connection to?) English in it, with many similar words, like hus/house.

I did study some Old English not long ago. Read More 
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Yankees O Yankees

It's like finding your favorite shirt in a drawer, the one you used to wear every couple of days & loved how it felt on & how you looked in it, that you somehow inexplicably forgot all about. I've been—inexplicably (not just because Jeter retired—on baseball hiatus & it took the beautiful game Tuesday to remind me of how much I've  Read More 
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Julian Bond (1940–2015)

I've been looking at the bound volume of my high-school newspaper, the Orange & Black, given to me by my journalism teacher, Miss Norman, because I was the editor my senior year. My then-boyfriend Ken, who was the Features Editor, & I drove down to Yankton, about an hour away from Sioux Falls, to hear Julian Bond speak.

I ran a full page Read More 
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Quick Tuesday note

It's my half birthday! I'm going to the ballgame! The Twins are in town! I saw Fred! I ran into Leo! I survived pilates-after-vertigo!
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Spain Poem (part V)

V. Woman on a Train

Alone with trees
Anthony Powell

What should my life be?

I ask that more now
than I did at 20

Is it too late to run away?

At 20 I knew:
live in country
be hippie

I am no longer sure of anything at all

I’m on a train in Spain Read More 
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3 kings

My friend Bob, whose birthday is today, notes that he shares it with Madonna, but is more interested in pointing out that August 16 was the day three kings died:

* Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers
* Babe Ruth, Sultan of Swat
* Elvis Presley, King of Rock & Roll, or simply The King. Which makes me remember that Barbara Barg (who's from Arkansas) wanted to make a t-shirt with his picture & "I speak the King's English."  Read More 
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Baaaaaack at last!

Angel Johnny, happy again.
Woke up at 4:30 this morning, so excited that B&H was scheduled to reopen. Johnny & I went there at 7 in our matching "Challah por favor" shirts but they had decided to open at 9 instead. Went back over there, by no means the only people in B&H shirts, and soon enough (finally!), we were sitting at the counter. A guy from NY1 asked me what I was going to order. I don't order, I said, Mike knows what to feed me. Mike agreed: whatever she tells me she wants, I give her challah french toast.  Read More 
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Spain Poem (part IV)

IV. Famous for Oranges & Women

do you need to know every thought
      between every thought
          between doing & being

Alisa squirts tomato all over Robyn
      I eat cheese, olives & an orange
          it’s gone from 16°C to 21°C

not only do I not know everything
      I don’t know simple, basic, useful, grounding

who’s that actress? what was she in?
      who wrote that book
          what’s-its-name?  Read More 
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Rachelle, songbird

Rachelle Garniez, at Pangea, Second Avenue & 12th Street, East Village.
What a treat to hear Rachelle, for the first time in quite a while. She has some new songs, and as always has funny, quirky, East Village-y intros to less recent material that brings them into the here & now. The hear & now. I remember an opera singer telling me it takes 20 years to learn the stamina and how to project and all that. Rachelle is a better singer every time. Who has always written songs that are fresh but somehow simultaneously seem classic, like standards.

Food so-so but otherwise Pangea is a lovely, friendly place to hear live music.

Every day I am struck by how lucky I am.  Read More 
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Spain Poem (part III)

III. Women & Poets See the Truth Arrive

Barcelona: New Orleans meets San Francisco meets Paris meets Berlin… on the Mediterranean!

The Palace of Music, a library of women’s studies, the Cultural Center of Catalan history where we have thick hot chocolate and Merce explains she isn’t a “Catalonia über alles” patriot  Read More 
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Jersey girl!

I went to New Jersey twice this week! Wow! Gasp! On Tuesday I had dinner in Hoboken with my friends the beautiful sisters Pauline and Georgette, at a Thai place. I was so impressed with myself for getting to and on the PATH but really, it's so easy—you swipe your MetroCard & it costs the same as taking the subway, except it goes under the Hudson and you emerge in a new state: excitement, adventure, Jersey.

And then Johnny and I went there yesterday. We did exactly the same trip so I knew how to do it and didn't get nervous or even take a pamphlet of PATH information. We sat on a bench on the Hudson and read our summer's poem (having finished  Read More 
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Spain Poem (part II)

II. If we had stayed in our world

What forms a people? The sea, the barriers, the ease or not of being fed. Did Spain die off during the plague? What makes a people cruel, sharp with money, musical, grudge-holding? Any individual may or may not be a “type” from her country, but if not, she is “against type” & therefore also typical.

Plane … plane … taxi … taxi … train … taxi … taxi … train … taxi … plane

how can I stop & live?
the words I know are wait & watch

Picasso was made honorary director of El Prado during the Civil War. The Prado reminds me I’m part of hundreds of years of Western civilization.

we are traveling 300 km an hour Read More 
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Spain Poem (part I)

The More I Drink, The More I Steal

for Alisa, Robyn, & Merce

I. Train to Seville

Ace writes on the subway
his poems exactly


ours is a 5 & a half hour train
keep going keep going keep going

here comes the coffee truck
solar panels like flowers

behind a field of olive trees
& logs

 Read More 
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Virgin Islands

I think this might be the last (for now) in the series of evocative photos of faraway places (in time, in distance, or both).

I look at this & think about driving to the sea, and beyond, but I guess wherever you live, you just park & do your errands.

I've never been to the Caribbean  Read More 
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Eagle Fruit Store and Capital Hotel

This photo caught my eye, and have spent a lot pondering it, possibly because it reminds me of my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Which didn't look like this when I was a kid but there's some similar atmosphere (telephone poles!)—maybe because, this turns out to be a 1942 photo of nearby Lincoln, Nebraska. Sioux Falls had (and has) similar low brick buildings but  Read More 
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Bill Kushner

Bill Kushner (1931–2015) was hilarious, loyal, loving, "an expert flirt" (Todd Colby) & most of all, a poet. A good poet. He was also, I think, happy, in the way of someone who feels like he got more than he ever expected.

The New Year's Day Marathon at the Poetry Project won't be the same without Bill sitting in the front row from the first reader till—well, way past my endurance point.

The best picture ever of Bill was the one we took for the 1979 KOFF calendar. "He was magnificent. The light fell onto him like cream onto porridge."

Bill has been part of my poetry world since I got to New York. I've known him well over half my life. I will miss him.  Read More 
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Gemini launch

I love this photo. Did someone pedal over to get close to the launch? Or has that bike been there for ages? Where was the photographer standing? Now that I'm looking more closely, I see that it's not actually a photo. (Duh.)

In fact it's a 1964 watercolor by Jamie Wyeth "that hints at humbler days in the space program, when technicians rode bicycles to check on the launchpad" and was part of a show, "NASA | ART: 50 Years of Exploration," Read More 
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Beach training

Seagull in the Rockaways, leaving beach training.
Even though I don't think I much like the beach—all that sand & sunburn getting all over me—I had FUN at this annual event of my karate dojo. The black belts arrive at 4 a.m. and are meditating as the sun comes up. (Some people saw a shooting star.)

Then we do our material along the shore. One kyoshi looked at me: "You're not wet enough."

And then I was.

I came home with achy calves from trying not to fall over as the ground gave way to the waves but loved it (maybe simply because I have soft contact lenses now, so I could see & didn't worry that I would lose my hard ones).  Read More 
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