Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Entertaining the Canary

by Charles Simic

Yellow feathers,
Is it true
You chirp to the cop
On the beat?

Desist. Turn your
Nervous gaze
At the open bathroom door
Where I'm soaping

My love's back
And putting my chin on her shoulder
So I can do the same for her
Breasts and crotch.

Sing. Flutter your wings
As if you were applauding,
Or I'll throw her black slip
Over your gilded cage.

-Charles Simic, Walking the Black Cat

Another Spring

by Kenneth Rexroth

The seasons revolve and the years change
With no assistance or supervision.
The moon, without taking thought,
Moves in its cycle, full, crescent, and full.

The white moon enters the heart of the river;
The air is drugged with azalea blossoms;
Deep in the night a pine cone falls;
Our campfire dies out in the empty mountains.

The sharp stars flicker in the tremulous branches;
The lake is black, bottomless in the crystalline night;
High in the sky the Northern Crown
Is cut in half by the dim summit of a snow peak.

O heart, heart, so singularly
Intransigent and corruptible,
Here we lie entranced by the starlit water,
And moments that should each last forever

Slide unconsciously by us like water.

-Kenneth Rexrox

State and 32nd, Cold Morning Blues

by Kenneth Rexroth

A girl in a torn chemise
Weeps by a dirty window.
Jaws are punched in the street.

A cat is sick in the gutter.
Dogs bark up nightbound alleys.
There’s nothing like the sorrow

Of the jukeboxes at dawn.
Dice girls going home.
Whores eating chop suey.

Pimps eat chile mac.
Drowsy flatfeet, ham and eggs.
Dawn of labor, dawn of life.

The awakening noises
Of the old sacrifices.
The snow blows down the bare street

Ahead of the first streetcar.
The lovers light cigarettes,
And part with burning eyes,

And go off in the daylight.

-Kenneth Rexroth

Monday, August 30, 2010


Tamara the gypsy,
My birth father's grandmother,
is dark and round and looks Russian Indian Eastern European Eskimo
in the photo.
She must be the one I have been longing to meet.
She has been speaking to me for years through cabbages and onions
in the root cellar.
I always make her homemade yogurt and rustic loaves of sourdough.
I chop her beets for soup, bloodying the board magenta
while dreaming of sauerkraut, sausage, and mustard.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Don't you stay at home of evenings? Don't you love a cushioned seat in a corner, by the fireside, with your slippers on your feet?
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Tattooed in our Cradles

We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Poet William Notter

Gray's First Sober Year

by William Notter

This new life is better
than a dozen beer-joint romances
or a hundred drunks at fishing camp.
My habit now is not drinking,
and waking up where I belong.
I can see colors again,
and I don't feel like a turd in the punchbowl
whenever I go around people.

I'll mow the weeds for Sharon
and almost enjoy it. She's even given up
checking my breath whenever I come home.
I went shopping for our anniversary
and wound up crying in the store,
but not the kind of tears you cry
when your wife catches you lying in the shed
with your pistol jabbed up in your mouth
and vodka running out your nose.

The only thing she could think to do
was check me into another detox,
and this time it finally took.
This year has made me different—
vodka could never do that for long.
Some days when I wake up early
and listen to Sharon lying there breathing,
it feels like somebody snuck in while we slept
and changed our sheets.

-William Notter, More Space Than Anyone Can Stand

Sunday, August 29, 2010

More annoying than false modesty is false poverty.

My Street

Walking down my street with Lily to the baseball field I pass an urban farm. I peek through the hole in the gray barn-board fence to see the chickens and bunnies. I see three cats grooming themselves and a big dog. Sheets and towels hang on a clothesline above the tomato and raspberry plants.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Every Day

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


We were out of apples and I wanted one. I remembered the big apple tree across the street from the library, on the grounds of the former Marquette Credit Union Building. I had to pick up my library books anyway. So I went with Lily to the apple tree. All of the apples had been scooped off the ground and the good ones were out of my reach. I picked up a stick and tried to knock one down. Then I saw the maintenance man unloading bags of wood chips in the building next door. I could see into the garage. There were barrels full of rakes and shovels. I asked him if I could borrow a rake to reach an apple on the tree. He handed me a real iron rake, not the flimsy leaf-raking kind, and I was able to reach three gigantic juicy red apples, and a few little ones for Lily. I returned the rake, thanked the man, and nibbled my way home. Lily and I were in heaven! I love living in a city where the apples grow on trees!


by Mark Strand


The elevator went to the basement. The doors opened.
A man stepped in and asked if I was going up.
"I'm going down," I said. "I won't be going up."


The elevator went to the basement. The doors opened.
A man stepped in and asked if I was going up.
"I'm going down," I said. "I won't be going up."

-Mark Strand


by Mark Strand

A man leaves for the next town to pick up a cake.
On the way, he gets lost in a dense woods
and the cake is never picked up. Years later,
The man appears on a beach, staring at the sea.
"I'm standing on this beach," he thinks, "And I am lost
in thought." He does not move. The heaving sea
turns black, its waves curl and crash. "Soon
I will leave," he continues. "Soon I will go
to a nearby town to pick up a cake. I will walk
in a brown and endless woods, and far away
the heaving sea will turn to black, and the waves -
I can see them now - will curl and crash."

-Mark Strand

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Word Park

by Matthea Harvey

Proper nouns are legible in any light and like to stay near their cages. They're the saunterers and the preeners, the peacocks who walk up to you and unfurl their fan of feathers hello. To see a shy one, position yourself between two trees; eventually it'll get whisked into a sentence and will have to come out from the shadows. We stock the park with packs of verbs and ands, so the odds are in your favor. Lessons in tracking are given every hour on the hour. You'll learn to go unnoticed behind a lamppost so you can get a glimpse of a squabble—COAT's flapping shadow tussling with WEARING because it wants to be the verb. The comma is the timid creature (ankle-height, cringing) you'll spot when you pause to look at the map, the dash is the sprinter in a thin coat of rain. Take a left for indirect object, for conjunctions, straight ahead. Officially, the exotics are extinct, but you've heard about watchers in the cities training their binoculars on ledges half-hidden by air conditioners, scanning the gutters for pairs of bright eyes. They know the ruses unsanctioned words use. They roll in the dirt to hide their vivid feathers. According to the tabloids, CHOCOLATING made it half way across the country, hopping from schoolyard to schoolyard in a convincing coat of mud, and last week VERYING was spotted hiding in the wake of a ferry. One watcher got a picture before the authorities harpooned it. In the photograph the water is bluer than blue.

Implications for Modern Life

by Matthea Harvey

The ham flowers have veins and are rimmed in rind, each petal a little meat sunset. I deny all connection with the ham flowers, the barge floating by loaded with lard, the white flagstones like platelets in the blood-red road. I’ll put the calves in coats so the ravens can’t gore them, bandage up the cut gate and when the wind rustles its muscles, I’ll gather the seeds and burn them. But then I see a horse lying on the side of the road and think You are sleeping, you are sleeping, I will make you be sleeping. But if I didn’t make the ham flowers, how can I make him get up? I made the ham flowers. Get up, dear animal. Here is you pasture flecked with pink, your oily river, your bleeding barn. Decide what to look at and how. If you lower your lashes, the blood looks like mud. If you stay, I will find you fresh hay.

-Matthea Harvey, Modern Life

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dog Healer of Sorrow

Tonight Bill and I were walking home from playing fetch in the rain with Lily at the baseball field. We saw a young woman we know on our street sitting in the rain and crying. She told us she wanted to end her life. "She won't give me the knife," the man standing next to her said. "She said she'd just go get another one." I told her that we'd be devastated if she hurt herself. "Your son would miss you." Lily jumped on her lap and licked her tears."You tell her, Lily," I said, "tell her how we'd miss her."

Café Paradiso

by Charles Simic

My chicken soup thickened with pounded young almonds
My blend of winter greens.
Dearest tagliatelle with mushrooms, fennel, anchovies,
Tomatoes and vermouth sauce.
Beloved monkfish braised with onions, capers
And green olives.
Give me your tongue tasting of white beans and garlic,
Sexy little assortment of formaggi and frutta!
I want to drown with you in red wine like a pear,
Then sleep in a macédoine of wild berries with cream.

-Charles Simic, Walking the Black Cat

The Road In The Clouds

by Charles Simic

Your undergarments and mine,
Sent flying around the room
Like a storm of white feathers
Striking the window and ceiling.

Something like repressed laughter
Is in the air
As we lie in sweet content
Drifting off to sleep
With the treetops in purple light

And the sudden memory
Of riding a bicycle
Using no hands
Down a steep winding road
To the blue sea.

-Charles Simic, Walking the Black Cat

Howard Zinn

Socialism basically said, hey, let's have a kinder, gentler society. Let's share things. Let's have an economic system that produces things not because they're profitable for some corporation, but produces things that people need.
-Howard Zinn

Gary Soto

The wind brought me a scent
Of a place where I would go alone,
Then find others, all barefoot.
In time, each of us would boil clouds
And strike our childhood houses
With lightning.

-Gary Soto, from the poem Evening On the Lawn

Monday, August 23, 2010

Glass Blowing

Learn glass blowing with master artist in glass NEAL DROBNIS for October Weekend Workshops at his Scituate Rhode Island Studio.

Art Show Review

I had no idea until yesterday that my AS220 art show was reviewed in the November 2009 New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. Click here to read it.

Rousseau's Paradox

by Marion Cunningham

Jean-Jaques Rousseau observed that civilized man has become more and more separated from the world of home and family, orchards and farms, and all our deep human links with life. He believed that sophistication, modernization, and urban life tend to corrupt the ideal integrity of the rural, simple, and traditional.

"In every city dweller there is a displaced yearning for the rustic farm land, the taste of the homegrown, all the natural foods. The paradox is that we do want authentic country flavors and integrity, but we do not seek the discomforts of the simple life, so we rediscover regionalism vicariously amid modern convenience and luxury."

It is somehow both alarming and consoling to know that Rousseau wrote these words over two hundred years ago.

I think the best cure for this separation is home cooking. Looking for and buying raw ingredients, handling and preparing them in your familiar kitchen, and then eating at your own kitchen table will daily restore a feeling of connection with the natural world.

-Marion Cunningham, The Supper Book

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Charles Simic

The Garden of Eden needs weeding
And the soda machines don't work.

-Charles Simic
from the poem The Emperor, Walking the Black Cat

Indoor Thumb

I am no gardener. As much as I like the idea of growing fruits and vegetables myself I can't be outside under the broiling sun. I'd rather do anything but that. Perhaps I could try gardening at night, under the full moon. Frankly I'd still rather be inside baking breads. I prefer the oven to the sun any day. For my readers. . . I'd gladly trade my sourdough whole wheat loaves or home made yogurt for fresh vegetables and farm-fresh eggs anytime.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

E. Annie Proulx

I believe if you get the landscape right, the characters will step out of it, and they'll be in the right place. The story will come from the landscape.

-E. Annie Proulx

25 Years

AS220 - 25 years!

Lynda Barry Speaks

Lynda Barry Speaks

Aaron Siskind

For some reason or other there was in me the desire to see the world clean and fresh and alive, as primitive things are clean and fresh and alive.
-Aaron Siskind

Leonard Cohen

Amazing interview.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Make Yourself Invisible

by Charles Simic

Drew islands with palm trees,
My sister did.
The beaches were empty.
We wanted to lie on their hot sand
And drink lemonade.

Read your book and be quiet,
They yelled at us from the kitchen.

That spring we could smell lilacs
During the blackout.
Boom! Boom! The bombs fell
While a dog barked bravely
In someone's back yard.

Make yourselves invisible,
The old witch said.
From now on, we were breadcrumbs
In a dark forest
Where little red birds
Had just fallen silent.

-Charles Simic

First Day of Summer

by Charles Simic

Birds shit while they sing
The white butterfly sips wine left in the glass

And I'm looking for my toy trumpet

Hot Night

by Charles Simic

Longhaired Jesus,
Arms outstretched,
In an open yellow convertible
As he flies down
Santa Monica Boulevard

Magdalene driving with shades on.
Tires screaming.
A dwarf with a monkey
Stepped out of a cab.
White hotels, green traffic lights,
Palm trees swaying darkly.

That and nothing else.
Been here and gone.
The scent of the sea.
The palm trees converging
And parting up ahead.

-Charles Simic

Amorous Urbanness

What would I do in summer without screeching tires, revving engines, booming radios?
Would I be deafened by crickets and heat bugs and a gurgling river?
I'd miss Stella screaming, wearing only blue tattoos, a silky white slip,
and a baby on her hip.
I would.

Applesauce Tree

Every night we walk by the empty house, the one with the apple tree hanging over the sidewalk. The apples are delicious. We stuff our pockets and our mouths. Lily eats them too. The rest turn into applesauce on the sidewalk.

Dark into Day

The ragweed pollen woke me at four AM, like it does every late-August morning. I had been dreaming about a man who had wall-to-wall bookcases. The spine of every book was exactly the same width and they were all art books. The man wore my dog's red cloth bowl on his head like a hat.

The fan blew skunk scent in through the window. I got up, fed my dog, and watched the brightening cobalt sky.


I love to swim at the beach at night under the spotlight moon, or in the rain with my dog in December.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Prop Master and Trio

My two recent paintings Prop Master and Trio have been chosen to be in the The Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Annual Open Juried Exhibit. The artwork will be on display at the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Gallery August 22 through September 17, 2010. Read my artist statement here.

The reception for this exhibit will be held at the Pawtucket Visitor's Center on September 9, 2010 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. Come on by!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Maid of Horror

When my sister was planning her wedding I was asked to be the maid of honor. Maid of horror, I called it under my breath. The wedding was to take place at our childhood home in New York. I was very uncomfortable about going, since I had run away from home for good reason back in 1978. I knew that my family was assigning me a role in the wedding hoping I'd become a doting, dutiful daughter. I knew that would be impossible. My sister and I never got along. We were oil and water, repelling magnets, we viewed each other as Martians.
When my sister's wedding day finally arrived it was August and 95 degrees. I drove down to my parent's gigantic Westchester Georgian-style brick home. I wore my favorite dress, a 1950's sleeveless flowered dress with a full skirt which I had found in my favorite thrift store in Rhode Island. People I'd never met before kept coming up to me saying We thought you weren't coming! Finally I said Why did you think that? Because you weren't here last night. What was last night? The rehearsal dinner. Nobody had told me! I guess I was supposed to just know. The wedding role they assigned to me was meant to trigger a psycho-genetic understanding of what was expected of me. It didn't work. It would have been better if I hadn't gone, but at the time I wasn't courageous enough to stay home.


We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.
-Dalai Lama

The Hairy Arm

It was Summer, 1969. I was eight years old. My parents took the family to a tiny motel on Martha's Vineyard. I remember playing in the pool and accidentally slipping into the deep end. I sank slowly, swallowing water. Then, I spotted a tanned, hairy arm, and it pulled me up out of the water.
I almost drowned! The lifeguard saved my life! I said, running to my mother.
My mother was distracted, talking to her friends.
I almost drowned! He saved my life!
She kept chatting.
I never forgot the hairy arm.

Fresh Peaches

Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.

-Alice Walker

Dog Love

Children are for people who can't have dogs.
-Author Unknown

Kenneth Patchen

There are so many little dyings that it doesn't matter which of them is death.
-Kenneth Patchen

J.D. Salinger

Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody.
-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

If You Want The Truth

If you want the truth, I'll tell you the truth:
Listen to the secret sound, which is
inside you.

-Kabir, The Kabir Book by Robert Bly


I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty.

-Kabir, The Kabir Book by Robert Bly

First Thought, Best Thought

"First thought, best thought'' was his governing principle: no heed to the high-modernist idea of poem as patiently constructed artifact, but an equally strenuous discipline, for it was only with hours of daily meditation that he maintained his wide-open path from mind to breath.
-William Deresiewicz, NYT, discussing Allen Ginsberg

Hard Times

by Stephen Foster

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh Hard times come again no more.
Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.
While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.
There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o'er:
Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.
Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.

Franz Kafka

Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.
-Franz Kafka

Truman Capote

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make.
-Truman Capote

In the Dark

Last night I called the electric company about the streetlights being out on our street. They said we've shut off 12 street lights (on this street alone!) to save money, by request of the City.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hide Out

I could see the road ahead of me. I was poor and I was going to stay poor. But I didn't particularly want money. I didn't know what I wanted. Yes, I did. I wanted someplace to hide out, someplace where one didn't have to do anything. The thought of being something didn't only appall me, it sickened me . . . To do things, to be part of family picnics, Christmas, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Mother's Day . . . was a man born just to endure those things and then die? I would rather be a dishwasher, return alone to a tiny room and drink myself to sleep.
-Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye


by Charles Bukowski

waiting for death
like a cat
that will jump on the

I am so very sorry for
my wife

she will see this
shake it once, then


Hank won't

it's not my death that
worries me, it's my wife
left with this
pile of

I want to
let her know
that all the nights
beside her

even the useless
were things
ever splendid

and the hard
I ever feared to
can now be

I love

-Charles Bukowski

Alone With Everybody

by Charles Bukowski

the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
and nobody finds the
but keep
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than

there's no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular

nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill

nothing else

-Charles Bukowski

Don't Try

Somebody at one of these places [...] asked me: "What do you do? How do you write, create?" You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.
-Charles Bukowski


I was a man who thrived on solitude; without it I was like another man without food and water. Each day without solitude weakened me. I took no pride in my solitude; but I was dependent on it. The darkness of the room was like sunlight to me.
-Charles Bukowski, Factotum

A Black-out on a Gray Day

A garbage truck crashed and took down a pole on Cass Ave. Our whole neighborhood went quiet except for sirens and barking dogs and a few car radios. Inside, the computers went black, the fans all stopped; a black-out on a gray day. We decided to go out walking with Lily and meet all the neighbors who are normally hidden. We walked up the hill at Precious Blood Cemetery and looked at the pond. Then we came home and reset the clocks.

Vanessa Valliere

Written While Listening to the Andrew Bird Video of the Song That Sharon Wrote

by Vanessa Valliere

I took a picture of myself on my wedding day in the future. I held the camera at arms length and laughed at someone in the distance. I served the salad myself, tiny red berries on white plates. I told stories to the children before they hopped on the dance floor, their purple taffeta sticking out and then drifting up – they patted it down with their pudgy fingers and collapsed in giggles. I ate the cake with my hands and left the frosting on my nose. The music played the whole time. I didn't think about the past – which is now – but touched the linens on the table and folded the napkin when I was finished with my roasted chicken. I don't know if my mother was there. Or anyone else I knew. Only that there were people. I sang a song on the way to the bathroom and my voice echoed down a long hallway. I was tipsy and my cheeks were rosy. The dance floor smelled like baking cakes and babies heads. I spun and spun and couldn't hear anything but the music. People were smiling and everything was moving slowly. My dress floated out and I looked down at the flowers on the trim. It was the future of now but I didn't know it. Only the turning around and around.

-Vanessa Valliere, http://onetimesometime.wordpress.com/

Charles Simic

The way Don Juan adored different kinds of women I adored different kind of poets. I went to bed, so to speak, with ancient Chinese, old Romans, French Symbolists, and American Modernists individually and in groups. I was so promiscuous. I'd be lying if I pretended that I had just one great love.
-Charles Simic

Everything is hard to write about. Many of my shortest and seemingly simple poems took years to get right. I tinker with most of my poems even after publication. I expect to be revising in my coffin as it is being lowered into the ground.
-Charles Simic

My travel agents were Hitler and Stalin. Being one of the millions of displaced persons made an impression on me. In addition to my own little story of bad luck, I heard plenty of others. I'm still amazed by all the vileness and stupidity I witnessed in my life.
-Charles Simic

Country Fair

by Charles Simic
for Hayden Carruth

If you didn't see the six-legged dog,
It doesn't matter.
We did, and he mostly lay in the corner.
As for the extra legs,

One got used to them quickly
And thought of other things.
Like, what a cold, dark night
To be out at the fair.

Then the keeper threw a stick
And the dog went after it
On four legs, the other two flapping behind,
Which made one girl shriek with laughter.

She was drunk and so was the man
Who kept kissing her neck.
The dog got the stick and looked back at us.
And that was the whole show.

-Charles Simic

Clouds Gathering

by Charles Simic

It seemed the kind of life we wanted.
Wild strawberries and cream in the morning.
Sunlight in every room.
The two of us walking by the sea naked.

Some evenings, however, we found ourselves
Unsure of what comes next.
Like tragic actors in a theater on fire,
With birds circling over our heads,
The dark pines strangely still,
Each rock we stepped on bloodied by the sunset.

We were back on our terrace sipping wine.
Why always this hint of an unhappy ending?
Clouds of almost human appearance
Gathering on the horizon, but the rest lovely
With the air so mild and the sea untroubled.

The night suddenly upon us, a starless night.
You lighting a candle, carrying it naked
Into our bedroom and blowing it out quickly.
The dark pines and grasses strangely still.

-Charles Simic

A Book Full Of Pictures

by Charles Simic

Father studied theology through the mail
And this was exam time.
Mother knitted. I sat quietly with a book
Full of pictures. Night fell.
My hands grew cold touching the faces
Of dead kings and queens.

There was a black raincoat
in the upstairs bedroom
Swaying from the ceiling,
But what was it doing there?
Mother's long needles made quick crosses.
They were black
Like the inside of my head just then.

The pages I turned sounded like wings.
"The soul is a bird," he once said.
In my book full of pictures
A battle raged: lances and swords
Made a kind of wintry forest
With my heart spiked and bleeding in its branches.

-Charles Simic

Eyes Fastened With Pins

by Charles Simic

How much death works,
No one knows what a long
Day he puts in. The little
Wife always alone
Ironing death's laundry.
The beautiful daughters
Setting death's supper table.
The neighbors playing
Pinochle in the backyard
Or just sitting on the steps
Drinking beer. Death,
Meanwhile, in a strange
Part of town looking for
Someone with a bad cough,
But the address somehow wrong,
Even death can't figure it out
Among all the locked doors...
And the rain beginning to fall.
Long windy night ahead.
Death with not even a newspaper
To cover his head, not even
A dime to call the one pining away,
Undressing slowly, sleepily,
And stretching naked
On death's side of the bed.

-Charles Simic

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Meals Were More Like Carpentry

I woke up completely awake at five AM to a brightening cobalt sky raked with clouds. I had been dreaming that I was walking in New York City through the dark slums of the lower East Side, arms locked with a friend. "My heritage," I had said, walking slowly, imagining my ancestors living here.

I punch the robotic start button on my rescued coffee machine. It still smells like cigarettes from the previous owner but the coffee tastes great. I drink it halved with milk. I set up cornbread batter for baking.

The design of our coffee machines and cars and can openers reflects what haunts our minds - speed, European sophistication, Martians and robots, military tanks. "Watch out for the machines," my grandmother would say as we ran out to play in the city street.

She'd also say "Put the tools on the table" as she prepared supper. Those were the days when making a meal was more like carpentry than pushing elevator buttons. Breads, cakes, apple pies all were planned out and built like small cottages, and Grandma drank her tea clear though a sugar cube.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Roald Dahl

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
-Roald Dahl

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
-Roald Dahl

The life of a writer is absolute hell compared to the life of a businessman. The writer has to force himself to work He has to make his own hours and if he doesn't go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him...A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.
-Roald Dahl

Everything in this room is edible. Even I'm edible. But, that would be called canibalism. It is looked down upon in most societies.
-Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

May Sarton

For any writer who wants to keep a journal, be alive to everything, not just to what you're feeling, but also to your pets, to flowers, to what you're reading.
-May Sarton

New Painting

I have a new painting called Propmaster. If you'd like to see it click here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dog Joy

Last night we discovered that Turbesi Park has just fenced in another ball-field! We went in and unhooked Lily's leash and she ran a few high-speed laps with joy. She is magnificent to watch. After a few minutes she was done with running, content to chill out for the rest of the night. This ball-field is built on slightly higher ground. When the rain returns it won't become a pond.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

May Sarton

Adventures may be for the adventurous, but home is where the real things are sown and reaped, where in the end the real things happen.
-May Sarton, At Seventy: A Journal

Swimming in Cyber Space

Yesterday I moved into a few houses, imagining I lived on an ice cold pond in New Hampshire or by the sea in Maine. I was swimming in cyber space over granite counter tops, through family rooms, past fireplaces and screened back porches. I imagined guests lingering over a large table, having good conversations for days. A fantasy on another planet.

Actually people drive me crazy and are a continuous source of pain and disappointment. I already have what I want. I love my semi solitude, my life in the ghetto, where I can talk to strangers and stray dogs. My house is used for work, not fantasy, and that scares everyone away.

Monday, August 09, 2010


At 2:30 AM Sunday we both woke up after hearing the sound of a big vehicle and smelling exhaust through our window fan. I was still half asleep, dreaming it must be a garbage truck. I got up and looked out the window and saw three fire trucks, a rescue vehicle, several squad cars, and seven uniformed policemen going in and out of the house across the street. I saw a woman sitting on the curb in front of the house holding her head in her hands. I saw another woman on the sidewalk being consoled by a man. When I woke at 5:30 AM the police were still there. Two policemen were guarding the door while the crime scene investigators were going in and out of the house with cameras and bags, wearing turquoise rubber gloves. At 9:00 AM when I took Lily out, I saw people gathered on the sidewalk. Later in the morning I saw family going in and out of the house looking very sad. I spotted the turquoise rubber gloves on the sidewalk in front of my house.

Orphan Rescue

Two weeks ago I went to make coffee and a 1/4 inch black plastic bubble resembling a piece of seaweed fell out onto the kitchen counter. Our 20-year-old automatic coffee machine would no longer work. The carriage that holds the filter would not close without the plastic bubble. I saved the piece that had fallen out and showed it to Bill. He examined the mechanics of the machine and discovered where it had come out and glued it back into place using super glue. Do you think it will hold? It will for a while. The machine continued working fine each morning, but I made a mental note to keep my eye out for coffee maker parts at yard sales and thrift stores.

I consider this machine special because my bio father let me have it along with three upholstered swivel office chairs when he cleaned out his NYC office. The coffee maker was about seven years old when I got it and that was 13 years ago. One Thanksgiving I brought it to my sister-in-law's house to make coffee for the family. When I packed it in its bag for the trip home I forgot to secure the glass pot. After I got home I reached in the bag for the machine, and the pot slid out and smashed on the floor. Because this machine was one of the few heirlooms I had from my father, I sent away for a new glass pot, and kept the machine alive.

A few days ago I was walking Lily and I spotted a black coffee machine poking out of a light blue trash bin out on the sidewalk. I noticed it was the same brand and model as ours and it was only missing the glass pot. I could use it for spare parts! I thought about it all night and decided the next day that I would walk back with Lily and, prepared with my big canvas bag, rescue it. Sunday I got up early and when Lily and I got there it was sitting on top of the pile in the light blue bin. I scooped it up and put it in my bag as if I had rehearsed the move all night in my mind, because I had. When I got home I was thrilled to discover the machine seemed brand new. It didn't even smell like coffee. I rinsed the dust off of it and plugged it in and ran water through it into my glass canister. The water came out hotter than in my heirloom machine.

This morning I loaded coffee into the new maker and started her up. I got a whiff of cigarette smell and potpourri - an olfactory image of the previous owner's life - and then the fresh coffee scent took over. I decided I would keep the heirloom coffee maker as the spare and now use the orphaned machine. Sorry, Dad.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Stay Tuned!

AP Article about Bill.

Piano tuner marks 25th year at Newport jazz fest By ERIC TUCKER

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wild Life

Tonight we ran Lily in a fenced-in baseball field, Harnett Field on Aylsworth Avenue. She ran at top speed in a couple of big circles and then she lay down in a shallow puddle at center field and got all muddy. So we went to the brook behind the field to rinse her off and let her cool down in the water. Her favorite thing is to lie down and have a drink of water from her lounging position. While we were standing there we heard what sounded like a loud warbly bird call. We investigated further and saw two adorable baby raccoons the size of wild bunnies by the culvert, looking for a new hiding place.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Neighborhood Theater

Last night at around four AM Lily barked at the window, waking me up. I stayed awake for quite a while listening to the hum of the fan. Then I heard boom, boom, boom, and then the sound of breaking glass. I jumped up and phoned the police, surprised that I could punch in the numbers in the dark. I told the dispatcher what I had heard. She asked for details. "The booms sounded like a hand hitting wood, maybe a door," I said. "The glass sounded like a window rather than a bottle. I rushed right to the phone to call. I'm sorry, I guess I'm not very helpful. That's all I know. Maybe another person will call with more information."

When I got off the phone my adrenalin was still pumping. I went to the window in the front of the house and saw a woman on the porch across the street yelling to her husband who was in silhouette behind her, moving in the lit kitchen window. "That's what we've been arguing about for the past two hours!" she shouted at him. She swept up the broken glass, went inside the house, and turned off the lights. It was A Streetcar Named Desire being acted out at full volume to a crouching unclothed audience of one (and her dog). The police drove by shining their spotlight on the porch but the scene had already ended. The actors had gone to bed. And I was amazed at how light the sky was at four thirty AM.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Idries Shah

Rather than deplore the shortcomings of inferior work too much, I think that we may allow ourselves to feel some satisfaction that legitimate materials, and the proper response to them, do exist and become stronger almost by the day.
- Idries Shah, The Commanding Self