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From the vault

Tomorrow is December 1, 2018. This picture is from around 30 years ago based on Tara's size. What was going on? As usual, I'm not a good reporter of facts. I have a few things stuck in my head but the circumstances of this picture is not among them.

Yesterday Marion called to tell me she finally figured out why she could remember one random baseball name: Freddie Patek. She also had Davey Lopes in her head but that's because he played for the Dodgers, she said.

She had run across this poem of mine  Read More 
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I'm my own grandpa

What do these words have in common?

Sanction / Oversight / Left / Dust / Seed / Stone / Trim / Cleave / Resign / Fast / Off / Weather / Screen / Help / Clip / Flog / et al

They are all contranyms—words that also mean their opposites. Click on the caption for more.

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Hurricane poets

What if hurricanes were named after poets? These are all poets who've rocked my world.

A.R. Ammons
Bernadette Mayer
Charles Reznikoff
Doug Oliver
Elizabeth Bishop
Frank O’Hara
Gregory Corso
Ishmael Reed
John Keats
Kenneth Koch
Lord Byron
Michael Lally
N (I can't think of anyone!)  Read More 
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Ah, Norway

How easy it is to read Norwegian!
I ate the last treat I brought home from Norway. Just in time—it was definitely a little stale. But delish!
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Monday Quote

"Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust"
~ Robert Lowell
from "To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage," in Life Studies

Lowell died in 1977 but this line sums up so much of what is despicable & sad about tRump. Well, would be sad if he wasn't full of the ability & desire to do harm.

The last two lines of the poem:
Gored by the climacteric of his want,
he stalls above me like an elephant.  Read More 
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Maybe stalky

Maine has many birches, although this one was in Ed Foster's yard in Massachusetts.
There's this woman I was friends with when I lived in Maine but haven't seen for 40 years. I guess we only really knew each other a couple of years, although in one's 20s a year of friendship is a lot more than it is now. I lived not far from her sister when we Mainiacs were living at Idiot's Point in Prospect; she lived on Nantucket, still does, as far as I know, but came up a lot.

The thing is, even though I very well might not recognize her on the street, I can't forget her birthday. It's not something I try to remember: birthdays stick to me like thistles. Always have. It was my big party trick but thanks to Facebook it's no big deal these days to know everyone's birthday. I always try to think how I could make money in a bar with my idiot savant talent. Any ideas?

And yet, obsessed as I am with birthdays, the only poem I could recommend for my sister to read at a birthday party of a couple both turning 60 was a variation of Ted Berrigan's immortal:

the fucking enemy
shows up  Read More 
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The photo that almost cost me my marriage

I know, I know, it's hard to figure out what's even going on in this picture so how could it have (almost) ruined my marriage?

If you look closely, you can make out that it's a picture of a couch falling. It's a couch falling because we threw it out my window. It was aqua-green with a kind of nubby finish & no legs. It was curved too. Not comfortable & it took up a lot of room, given that only one or maybe 2 people could sit on it.

Johnny was new in my life & I had one of rare fits of home improvement. Or maybe I threw it out to symbolize the future. What a satisfying hollow explosion it made falling into the courtyard!
 Read More 
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Thanksgiving poem

My tiny apartment with many guests.
Today I'm remembering the mid-80s, when I hosted several Thanksgivings for 30 or more people. Everyone in the building made food. The years when Maggie had to be at work at 3, we called dinner for noon. We were late-night folks then & I remember sleepy guests & undercooked capons & chili.

I guess my holiday tradition these days is  Read More 
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My block, post-snowstorm

The snow was beautiful but wet & heavy, and the leaves still on the trees added their own weight plus held the snow. As I walked around, almost every block looked like this, where branches had come down. In no case could I see the wound on the tree or anything missing. How could that be?
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My neighborhood

This blue/wood wall is on the Bowery a block or 2 south of Houston. I like when I find a snatch of country life in plain sight in the city.

This is mannered & secondhand but it pleases me nonetheless.

I'm sure that signals something about my identity. Sociologists, want to weigh in?
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Monday Quote

There is no foreign land; it is the traveler only that is foreign.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

That explains we can go somewhere very very other & still take everything along: wherever you go, there you are. But why you can also, if you allow it to happen, have your mind blown. If I let myself feel foreign, anything can happen. Hint: it's wonderful. Or an adventure, anyway. Feeling foreign is how we remember to feel alive.  Read More 
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Me, 2005

Steve's been sending me some pictures that he must have scanned.
It's me, so I was there, but I don't remember this anymore than the one with Angelique, the mannequin (as I learned she's called) (see my post of 2 days ago).

Despite writing "everything" down, my past is so opaque to me, beyond a handful of events & moments I remember intensely, although probably inaccurately.

I would feel despondent about it but I'm determined not to. I have a touch of allergies or a cold, so I brought Buster with me to work, & now he's sleeping companionably. I should do a little more work & go to the gym. That's Sunday, 1971 or 1998 or 2005 or maybe even "now."  Read More 
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What? what?

This is me circa 1982. It was the mid-80s when I did my hair creamsicle. Did someone wake me up a minute before? am I sans coffee? facing the sun? what's with the mannequin? did I hitchhike down? drive? get a ride? is that still me?

Wait a minute, it's later than 1982, because I went to Hawaii, on a press trip, in 1984. I remember the date because it was only a few months after I got together with Johnny & I wished he was there in that resort with me. It was before I discovered he wouldn't have gone, even for free.
 Read More 
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It's been summer so long that I didn't really expect we would have much snow today, or snow that stuck. But hallelujah!

I'd be happier if my teeth weren't falling out of my head but the snow makes up for it, pretty much.
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Farewell, South Carolina

Monday, as we drove from the mountains of western North Carolina to Asheville and down to Spartanburg, we had rain that felt tropical in its copious intensity.
I'm glad to be home but part of me stays in Spartanburg. I suppose because not much seems to change there, it always feels like I was just there and/or am still there. I know many people besides Steve & I like feeling welcomed into the community. Although I have to say, it was shocking to hear people's childhood stories about segregated drinking fountains (etcetera). Was Sioux Falls really as bland as I remember, or is it because it was 99% white, so we didn't have to have Jim Crow. We would have—no reason to think we were any better, just different in our circumstances.  Read More 
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New poem


Four talked about baseball. One quoted stats, streaks, and dynasties. One considered the effect of stadium construction on local communities. One slapped on a mustache & reenacted "Casey at the Bat." One picked up a bat and hit the ball out of the park.

(after Dan Pagis)
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Monday Quote

We are all writing God's poem.
~ Anne Sexton

If today is God's poem, God was definitely challenging Noah. My goodness, how it rained!
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World War I

WWI ended 100 years ago today. My mother was born a few years later, as I was born a few years after WWII. Does WWI seem almost present, as WWII does to me? Does Tara, born 6 or 7 years after Vietnam, feel like it's almost in memory, almost connected to her? And so it goes—the wars of our lifetimes, the wars of our parents' lifetimes, the wars so distantly past that it's hard to believe real people suffered and died.

Dinner with two Vietnam-era vets. Forrister says it was his job, no reason to thank him. Willis says he didn't want to be there or do that, less than no reason to mention it. Well, half-off at the restaurant seemed reason enough to me.  Read More 
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South Carolina 2018 III

Water Heron Rock

Rock standing still
looks no closer
than water rushing

a great blue heron
intent on dinner
ignoring our desire
that it spread

shadow wing
mushy leaves

mill ruin
dog path
Carolina wedge
of not-quite-cloudy sky
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South Carolina 2018 II

Great blue heron on Lawson's Fork.
I remember as a very little kid having a Swamp Fox coloring book—I don't think I knew where South Carolina was or what was there, but I felt its allure from afar long before I ever visited.

Today we walked along Lawson's Fork, a pretty fast-moving creek that hooks into the Pacolet River. There are the ruins of mills, a labyrinth created by the Wofford College philosophy program, benches where we sat quietly & listened to the water. The dogs ran.  Read More 
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South Carolina 2018 I

So happy to be back—always as though no time has passed. The garden is a little more stately, the dogs are a little less frisky, Steve has a new car... life goes on but the essence is as it has been since I first came here in 1971. I had never been South before, never seen houses in the woods, or mills, or azaleas, or hushpuppies, or...... I fell in love & stayed there.  Read More 
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Wayne Padgett's first cigarette

Joe Brainard.
"That was not only Wayne's first cigarette, it was his last. Praise God almighty!" says Ron.

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Monday Quote

No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.
~ Mary Wollstonecraft

Is that true or a naive wish? Does it make any difference in the effect of those choices? Right now it is hard not to believe the "alt-right" haters are, well, evil, and want to be evil. They mistake murder for protecting their way of life? What way of life is worth murder?  Read More 
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Snow was general all over Ireland

Near the end of The Dead.
I just watched The Dead, read Joyce's story, then watched the film again. Fascinating to see how much was identical & how much differed. I feel like it's a movie that mostly poets love, like Paterson. I loved hearing the Irish accents of Johnny's mother in some of the characters & feel bad that in our early days I mocked him (he still mocks me for the way I can't say roof) for his inheritance of saying many words without the "h"—he said "true" for "through" and "everyting" when I first knew him but mostly got rid of that. It slips out sometimes & I think from now on it will always make me tink of snow falling on all the living and the dead.  Read More 
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Time traveling through the dictionary

This is cool. I'm throwing you right to Mental Floss:

Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s online “Time Traveler” tool, it’s now easier than ever to look back at a particular year or century and see which words were recorded for the very first time. For instance, you can select your birth year Read More 
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