Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Agatha Christie

It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.
― Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.
― Agatha Christie

Instinct is a marvelous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored.
― Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair At Styles

If you place your head in a lion's mouth, then you cannot complain one day if he happens to bite it off.
― Agatha Christie

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
― Agatha Christie

"Everybody always knows something," said Adam, "even if it's something they don't know they know.”
― Agatha Christie, Cat Among the Pigeons

Time is the best killer.
― Agatha Christie

Walpurgis Night

A friend wrote me today. . .
Last day of April
Witches Night....in my old country
Bonfires on hills

So I looked it up.

In the Czech Republic 30 April is pálení čarodějnic ("burning of the witches") or čarodějnice ("the witches") in the Czech Republic, the day when winter is ceremonially brought to the end by the burning of rag and straw witches or just broomsticks on bonfires around the country. The festival offers Czechs the chance to eat, drink and be merry around a roaring fire.



I met a famous Russian sculptor once. Ernst Neizvestny, back in 70s. He did the official sculpture for Khrushchev, or one of those honchos, I believe, & then he got in trouble with the Party & had to leave Russia. He was living down near the WTC in New York, & a carpenter friend of mine was working with him. I remember drinking vodka while sitting on his most recent project, which was some kind of giant wooden crucifix on the floor of his loft.

- Ghenrik

Swedish Proverbs

A friend sent me her book of poetry and it is in Swedish. So I am reading Swedish proverbs hoping to learn a few words. This would be a hilarious way to learn a language.

Den som aldrig har tid är den som uträttar minst.
Translation: He who never has time accomplishes the least.

Den som gräver en grop åt andra faller ofta själv däri. (Often shortened to "den som gräver en grop åt andra...")
Translation: He who digs a pit for others, often falls into it himself.

Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder.
Translation: There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.

Det man förlorar på gungorna tar man igen på karusellen.
Translation: What you lose at the swings you take back at the merry-go-round.

Det som börjar med en knappnål slutar oftast med en silverskål
Translation: What starts with a needle usually ends with a silver bowl.
English equivalent: He that steals an egg will steal an ox.
Meaning: Crimes tend to escalate.

Efter regn kommer solsken.
Translation: After rain comes sunshine.
Meaning: Hard times seldom last forever.

Delad glädje är dubbel glädje (och delad sorg är halv sorg).
Translation: Shared joy is twice the joy (and shared grief is half the grief).


Partir C'est Mourir un Peu...

To separate is to die a little.
-French Proverb

George Bernard Shaw

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
- George Bernard Shaw

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
- George Bernard Shaw

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
- George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop
- George Bernard Shaw


Pronounced koob.

Pickle Mistress

Wearing nurses whites
under fluorescent lights
she carries a glass gallon jar
of Freudian greens

Rick Bursky

I named seven stars after her left eye.
- Rick Bursky

The past smells like a lost dog.
The past is so damned tired,
following us around.
The past can be forgotten
for a while, like you can forget
you're wearing glasses.

- Rick Bursky


Rick Bursky

One of the things I love about poetry is the way our own poems have the ability to amaze us and teach us things about ourselves.
- Rick Bursky

Interviewer: Do you recall reading (or writing) a poem that made you realize this was the path you wanted to follow?

Yes, I remember the exact moment. It was in the basement of a church in Los Angles. I began my life as a poet some twenty years ago with a poetry class at UCLA Extension. I took the class hoping it would make me a better advertising copywriter. I always believed poets were great writers of prose and thought it would be useful to my advertising career. In the first class the instructor read us Randall Jarrell’s “Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” and Etheridge Knight’s “Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminally Insane.” Right then and there my entire life changed. I found what I would dedicate the rest of my life to.
-Rick Bursky


My mother and a cousin decide to go to The Seaport Diner,
my father's favorite, for a cup of coffee on New Year's Eve.
Though he's been dead for six years, they take him along.
The black marble box that holds his ashes is placed
in a shopping bag, then on their table next to a window.
On another night the waitress might have asked about the box.
But tonight the diner is crowded, she doesn't notice
that two women asked for three cups of coffee.
There are many ways to suck the marrow out of time's bones.
This is my mother's. No one's seen the inside of the box,
though at times I've thought all of heaven was within.
By refusing to bury it my mother is unwittingly hiding
my father from the devil. At a small table in the center of the box,
my father sits. Ashes piled to his knees, he remembers
flames and fears he's in hell. If he walked forever
he would discover the wall and on the other side of the wall
my mother's hand holding the spoon she stirred coffee with.

(c) 2004, Rick Bursky, The Soup of Something Missing, Bear Star Press
Another interview here.

Speckled Mineral Sphere

The interior life is often stupid. Its egoism blinds it and deafens it; its imagination spins out ignorant tales, fascinated. It fancies that the western wind blows on the Self, and leaves fall at the feet of the Self for a reason, and people are watching. A mind risks real ignorance for the sometimes paltry prize of an imagination enriched. The trick of reason is to get the imagination to seize the actual world- if only from time to time.

...it is not you or I that is important, neither what sort we might be nor how we came to be each where we are. What is important is anyone's coming awake and discovering a place, finding in full orbit a spinning globe one can lean over, catch, and jump on. What is important is the moment of opening a life and feeling it touch - with an electric hiss and cry - the speckled mineral sphere, our present world.

- Annie Dillard, An American Childhood

Stalk the Gaps

Thomas Merton wrote, “there is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.” There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage.

I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock -more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.

― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Mysteriously Unmysterious

Neuroscience may be catching up with intuition.
Our brain project is our third child.
- May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser
(and lab rat Thelma)

Men Have More Fun

My father had more fun than my mother. I noticed this when I was five and my brother was born. My dad got to take a train every day into the big exciting city and my mother stayed home wringing her hands drumming up drama. Her misery increased by the minute. My father drank strong French Market percolated coffee each morning. It turned dark brownish gray when he added milk. After breakfast he drove one mile to the train station. Saturdays he wore sneakers, played the phonograph records and sometimes danced while watering the plants. He would be in a good mood. Then he would sit in his Eames chair and do the NYT crossword puzzle while smoking his pipe. Sometimes he watched football with my Grandfather Nat on TV. They would be shouting at the players, laughing and smoking cigars. In the warm weather my dad and his dad, grandpa Paul and grandpa Nat and few other men played bocce in the backyard shaded by the Japanese Maples. I wanted to grow up to have a life like my dad.

Annie Dillard

Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
- Annie Dillard

Monday, April 29, 2013

Maple Syrup

I just made maple syrup from the partially boiled sap our neighbors down the street tapped from their front yard maple. The smell of it boiling down was so amazing it reminded me of the scent of a New England farm house full of books in winter.

Moist Robots

The mind? A collection of computer-like information processes, which happen to take place in carbon-based rather than silicon-based hardware.

The self? Simply a “center of narrative gravity,” a convenient fiction that allows us to integrate various neuronal data streams.

The elusive subjective conscious experience — the redness of red, the painfulness of pain — that philosophers call qualia? Sheer illusion.

Human beings, Mr. Dennett said, quoting a favorite pop philosopher, Dilbert, are “moist robots.”

“I’m a robot, and you’re a robot, but that doesn’t make us any less dignified or wonderful or lovable or responsible for our actions,”

- Daniel Dennett, New York Times

Joni Mitchell + Bob Dylan

At one point we're backstage at this concert. I knew he was discovering painting. At that point, I'd just come from New Mexico, and I'd seen colour combinations that had never occurred to me before. Lavender and wheat, like old fashioned licorice, you know, when you bite into it and there's this peculiar, rich green and brown colour? The soil was like that, and the foliage coming out of it was vivid in the context of this colour earth.
Anyway I was really getting carried away, and Bobby says to me "'When you paint, do you use white?"' And I said "Of course." He said ''Cause if you don't use white, your paint gets muddy." I thought "Aha, the boy's been taking art lessons."

The next time we had a conversation was when Paul McCartney had a party on the Queen Mary. After a long silence, he said "If you were gonna paint this room, what would you paint?" I said "I'd paint the mirrored ball spinning. I'd paint the women in the washroom, the band..." Later, all the stuff came back to me as part of a dream that became the song "Paprika Plains."

I said "What would you paint?". He said "I'd paint this coffee cup." Later he wrote "One More Cup of Coffee."'

- Joni Michell
Quoted in Brian Hinton, Both Sides Now, London, 1996, pp. 78-79.

One More Cup Of Coffee

by Bob Dylan

Your breath is sweet
Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky
Your back is straight your hair is smooth
On the pillow where you lie
But I don't sense affection
No gratitude or love
Your loyalty is not to me
But to the stars above

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go.
To the valley below.

Your daddy he's an outlaw
And a wanderer by trade
He'll teach you how to pick and choose
And how to throw the blade
He oversees his kingdom
So no stranger does intrude
His voice it trembles as he calls out
For another plate of food.

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go.
To the valley below.

Your sister sees the future
Like your mama and yourself
You've never learned to read or write
There's no books upon your shelf
And your pleasure knows no limits
Your voice is like a meadowlark
But your heart is like an ocean
Mysterious and dark.

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go.
To the valley below.

Paprika Plains

by Joni Mitchell

It fell from midnight skies
It drummed on the galvanized
In the washroom women tracked the rain
Up to the make-up mirror
Liquid soap and grass
And Jungle Gardenia crash
On Pine-Sol and beer
It's stifling in here
I've got to get some air
I'm going outside to get some air

Back in my hometown
They would have cleared the floor
Just to watch the rain come down
They're such sky oriented people
Geared to changing weather
I'm floating off in time
I'm floating off
I'm floating off in time

When I was three feet tall
And wide eyed open to it all
With their tasseled teams they came
To McGee's General Store
All in their beaded leathers
I would tie on colored feathers
And I'd beat the drum like war
I would beat the drum like war
I'd beat the drum
I'd beat the drum like war

But when the church got through
They traded their beads for bottles
Smashed on Railway Avenue
And they cut off their braids
And lost some link with nature
I'm floating into dreams
I'm floating off
I'm floating into my dreams

I dream paprika plains
Vast and bleak and God forsaken
Paprika plains
And a turquoise river snaking

(Where crows gaze vigilant on wires
Where cattle graze the grasses
Far from the digits of business hours
The moon clock wanes and waxes
But here all time is stripped away
Nowhere on these plains
Is a sprout or an egg in evidence
To measure loss or gain
Only a little Indian band
Come down from some windy mesa
No women to make them food and child
No expressions on their faces
I'm low in a helicopter
And the wind from whirling blades
Flaps their woven blankets
And flags their raven braids
How came they to this emptiness?
How came they to this dream?
How came I to this view
From a flying machine
Of earth and air and water
And a band of Indian men
Without herds or flocks or crops
Or families or fires to tend?
Like a phoenix up from ashes now
A blanket figure springs
With a fist raised up to turquoise skies
Like liberty
And at the point of vanishing
Where the sky and the earth meet
A bomb blooms
Deadly mushroom
Like a phoenix up from ashes
Up from violent mysteries
And growing 'till the giant blast
Is to it like a golfer's tee
there comes a child's beach ball
And memory takes me back
to the beach to toss it up
to the garage to get it patched
A pink and yellow beach ball
Turning the blues and greens of earth
From space probe photographs
I float out of the hovercraft
Naked as infancy
And weightless
And drifting
Like a filing to a magnet
Like the long descent of rain
I am drawn
I fall against the ball
And lose paprika plains
I suckle at my mother's breast
I embrace my mother earth
I remember perforated blinds
Over the crib of my birth
And just as Eve succumbed
To reckless curiosity
I take my sharpest fingernail
And slash the globe to see
Below me
Vast Paprika plains
And the snake the river traces
And a little band of Indian men
With no expressions on their faces)

The rain retreats
Like troops to fall on other fields and streets
Meanwhile they're sweet talking and name calling
And brawling on the fringes of the floor
I spot you through the smoke
With your eyes on fire
From J&B and coke
As I'm coming through the door
I'm coming back
I'm coming back for more!
The band plugs in again
You see that mirrored ball begin to sputter lights
And spin
Dizzy on the dancers
Geared to changing rhythms
No matter what you do
I'm floating back
I'm floating back to you!

Bob Dylan

You must be vulnerable to be sensitive to reality. And to me being vulnerable is just another way of saying that one has nothing more to lose.
-Bob Dylan

David Sedaris

I’ve never sat down thinking I’m going to write a book about travel or about getting older. I don’t have that much to say about anything. I just kind of write a story, and then I put it in a pile, and then eventually the pile gets to be book-sized and I think, Oooh, I bet that’ll be a book!
- David Sedaris


Bring me the Head of. . .

Price Rite sells lowfat buttermilk--and so I make a salad dressing with it for the unending heads of cabbage that roll through my kitchen. I should name them after politicians like our friends who named their pig Kissinger in the 70's.

My pal C wrote:
I have to ask ... why are unending heads of cabbage rolling in each week?

This phrase evokes guillotine-esque imagery, The Queen of Hearts screaming OFF WITH THEIR HEADS.

Which reminds me of the 'passive voice' which passive-aggressives or just pussies LOVE TO USE! :) One of my genius-level but clearly Asperger-constellation students -- female even, unusual for Aspberger's -- was absently spinning my globe which was up on the heating/cooling register forming a sort of bookshelf to her left. She was in the row to the farthest LEFT of the white-board. And her nimble little fingers caused the globe to spin faster and faster until I swear all of Africa was vomiting on South America -- poor Australia was screaming for dramamine -- Croatia is used to vertigo -- then without warning, the globe lifted up off of its base-attachment. It looked like alien-technology the way it silently rose and hovered, then made a sharp right-angle turn and shot across the room.

Everyone in this grade 7 class was startled and turned to watch the decapitated planet spin violently down the left-hand aisle -- and I asked if everyone was alright. Then I looked at my student, Ashley -- mostly to see if part of her finger stumps were bloodily affixed to the globe base.

She had guilt misinterpretation so used her passive-voice I personally taught her never to use either with her actual vocal cords OR in her writing. She said, "Mrs. G, your globe broke."


Anyway, your unending cabbage heads rolling in each week remind me of my decapitated globe gyrating, careening down my classroom aisle. What kind of violence has befallen you that the Queen of Hearts is ordering cruciferous decapitations and the fallout is landing hitherward?

Cudly Bulldogs

I saw the tattoo guy last night on my walk and noticed that both of his eyelids were tattooed with words in blue green script. His bellybutton is pierced with two silver studs. His arms, shoulders, front torso back and neck are all blue green decorative illustrious scenes. He doesn't have an ounce of fat on him just sheer muscle from tearing apart siding on houses. I asked him if he designed his tattoos. Some of them, but my friend did most of them. He's an artist. Me too, I said. Maybe I should get into tattoos. There's good money in it, he said. I was raised on The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics book. They'd be weird. I love the Beatles, he said. It's all I listened to for five years, nobody would take a ride with me anymore. They're still good. That's how you know someone is great when they are still amazing, decades later. We both agreed. Then he picked up his youngest of three dogs like it was an infant and he rubbed her pink belly. She showed off her fang tooth bulldog underbite. I like this guy I thought as Lily and I continued on our walk.

His voice is like gravel. He leans in dangerously when he speaks. Too many decades working on roofs and shouting. His brain and skin are fried. His laugh has a cackling shimmer of razor wire. I'm moving, he says wheeling a red plastic Little Tikes wagon across the street. My cat has two bedrooms, it's ridiculous, I don't need to own two houses he says. They're paid for, but I'm all alone. I'm moving to the house I grew up in with my father. You're closer to the water I said. If I don't sell it in 6 months I'll rent, it he says wheeling away his glass Pyrex pie plate.

Open Letter to Mr. Obama

Open Letter to Mr. Obama

Dear Mr. President I missed you when you were here last. I was unable to see your handsome face but I follow your amazing work and frankly I have not seen a bad photo of you yet. I don't know how you deal with people all the time. It is clear to me that you have a poets soul. I look forward to reading more of your memoirs as I am sure you look forward to days and nights without secret service in your bed, kitchen and bath.

I was wondering if you could come to our fair city again. We are a population of under privileged and immigrant poor being swallowed whole by the scum slumlords of Woonsocket RI. The landlords don't live here but I can tell you where to find them if you are looking to scold them. They are the ones with those big slate roofed houses on the water.

Love to the family,

Montreal Chickens


Funny City

I love my city but it has been puzzling me lately. The city council voted against people having pet chickens so people can have fresh eggs to eat. The local tenants were caught breeding pitbulls and 14 dogs were found in a one room apartment. This happened twice in the same location! City tenants have unsheathed bonfires dangerously close to parked cars and buildings. Tenants do illegal automotive spraying and selling of cars while storing automotive chemicals in garages. Where are cities priorities? Where are the landlords? I don't blame the tenants as much as I blame the absentee landlords and the city. Mayor Susan Menard understood the slumlord cycle and she intercepted it on a daily basis preventing our city from going down the tubes.

Jeremy Piven


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Creatures of the Moon

It is the season of the owls, turtles, chipmunks, skunks, raccoons, ducks, bears and a million amazing birds. I am obsessed with owls because I saw one once in the city, and ever since then they were real to me. They are cats with wings.

Bittersweet Coincidences

I was outside on my bench writing in the sun this morning. The automotive guys showed up back here at the illegal garage and began the automotive spraying of a white BMW. The fumes wafted me off my seat so I went inside, angry.

Then just as I was standing in the kitchen, I heard this on the radio--
NEC faculty pianist Hung-Kuan Chen, who has been described as one of the great personalities of the music world: enigmatic, brilliant, and versatile, performs tonight. Chen is admired both as a performer of remarkable individuality and as an inspiring teacher.
In 1992, Chen suffered an injury to his hand that caused neurological damage and eventually resulted in Focal Dystonia. Through meditation and his own unique research, he was able to heal and return to his life as a concert artist. In 1998, his first post-accident solo recital received rave reviews, and he was described as a transformed artist. Richard Dyer wrote in The Boston Globe: "Back in the '80s, Apollo and Dionysus, Florestan and Eusebius were at war in Chen's pianistic personality. He could play with poetic insight he could also erupt into an almost terrifying overdrive. Now there is repose and the forces have been brought into complementary harmony."

Open Letter to Spain

Open letter to Spain by T.S.

Dear Spain,

Aware that unemployment is high there. But Hi there!
It's not so low here, either.
In fact many bank tellers may soon lose their jobs because they they
have never heard of you.
But we have heard of you, and we love tapas and tacos and churches
and dry white sandy beaches and the crusades and how you are really
trying to gain back your lost empire.
We even understand how great afternoon naps are. And olive oil?
Don't get us started.
So, in the interest of preserving your good name, please check our
account and make sure everything is in order.
It might take some time, since a country buying a bank probably has
some paperwork to go through.
But we think there has been an oversight. And also where did you get
the money to buy the bank ?
From the Italians ? We don't think so!
We're onto your game Spain.
You owe us.
Bill and Emily

- by T.S.

David Mamet

You know, I once read an interesting book which said that, uh, most people lost in the wilds, they, they die of shame. Yeah, see, they die of shame. 'What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?' And so they sit there and they... die. Because they didn't do the one thing that would save their lives. Thinking.
― David Mamet

We live in oppressive times. We have, as a nation, become our own thought police; but instead of calling the process by which we limit our expression of dissent and wonder ‘censorship,’ we call it ‘concern for commercial viability'.
― David Mamet

Every scene should be able to answer three questions: "Who wants what from whom? What happens if they don't get it? Why now?"
― David Mamet, Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business

Everybody makes their own fun. If you don't make it yourself, it isn't fun. It's entertainment.
― David Mamet

Invent nothing, deny nothing, speak up, stand up, stay out of school.
― David Mamet, True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor

All drama is about lies. All drama is about something that’s hidden. A drama starts because a situation becomes imbalanced by a lie. The lie may be something we tell each other or something we think about ourselves, but the lie imbalances a situation. If you’re cheating on your wife the repression of that puts things out of balance; or if you’re someone you think you’re not, and you think you should be further ahead in your job, that neurotic vision takes over your life and you’re plagued by it until you’re cleansed. At the end of a play the lie is revealed. The better the play the more surprising and inevitable the lie is. Aristotle told us this.
― David Mamet

... My dad, may he rest in peace, taught me many wonderful things. And one of the things he taught me was never ask a guy what you do for a living.

He said "If you think about it, when you ask a guy, what do you do you do for a living, you’re saying 'how may I gauge the rest of your utterances. Are you smarter than I am? Are you richer than I am, poorer than I am?'"

So you ask a guy what do you do for a living, it’s the same thing as asking a guy, let me know what your politics are before I listen to you so I know whether or not you’re part of my herd, in which case I can nod knowingly, or part of the other herd, in which case I can wish you dead.
― David Mamet

Art is an expression of joy and awe. It is not an attempt to share one's virtues and accomplishments with the audience, but an act of selfless spirit.
― David Mamet, True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor

Every reiteration of the idea that nothing matters debases the human spirit. Every reiteration of the idea that there is no drama in modern life, there is only dramatization, that there is no tragedy, there is only unexplained misfortune, debases us. It denies what we know to be true. In denying what we know, we are as a nation which cannot remember its dreams--like an unhappy person who cannot remember his dreams and so denies that he does dream, and denies that there are such things as dreams.
― David Mamet, Writing in Restaurants: Essays and Prose

Society functions in a way much more interesting than the multiple-choice pattern we have been rewarded for succeeding at in school. Success in life comes not from the ability to choose between the four presented answers, but from the rather more difficult and painfully acquired ability to formulate the questions.
― David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture

The first rule of tinkering is, of course, ‘save all the parts.’ But in dismantling the social fabric, the parts cannot all be saved, for one of them is time. Time, we were told, is a river flowing endlessly through the universe and one cannot step into the same river twice. Not only can we not undo actions taken in haste and in fear (the Japanese internment), but those taken from the best reasons, but that have proved destructive (affirmative action); the essential mechanism of societal preservation is not inspiration, but restraint.
― David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture

As you all know first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.
― David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross

Every fear hides a wish.
― David Mamet, Edmond


No one is a great poet because she is a miserable drunk. No one is a great poet because he has had a nervous breakdown. Suffering, however, can be experienced as a curse or a blessing; the luckiest is the one who can experience it as a blessing.
- Carolyn Forché

Stanley Kunitz

We have all been expelled from the Garden, but the ones who suffer most in exile are those who are still permitted to dream of perfection.
― Stanley Kunitz, The Collected Poems

The universe is a continuous web. Touch it at any point and the whole web quivers.
― Stanley Kunitz

I can hardly wait for tomorrow, it means a new life for me each and every day.
― Stanley Kunitz

Be what you are. Give What is yours to give. Have Style. Dare.
― Stanley Kunitz

In a murderous time
the heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking.
― Stanley Kunitz

When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgment of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself... That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitiude for the gift of life.
― Stanley Kunitz

I refuse to turn to theology to justify the life or redeem it. There is a question always of the connection to the eternal. I say to myself above all, keep alive your conviction that there are sacred elements in the life in the practice of the life that must be respected. But the conviction in the existence of the sacred does not necessarily imply that you need to believe in a creator, because we are the ones that made the sacred.
― Stanley Kunitz

When they shall paint our sockets gray
And light us like a stinking fuse,
Remember that we once could say,
Yesterday we had a world to lose.
― Stanley Kunitz, The Collected Poems

I dropped my hoe and ran into the house and started to write this poem, 'End of Summer.’ It began as a celebration of wild geese. Eventually the geese flew out of the poem, but I like to think they left behind the sound of their beating wings.
― Stanley Kunitz

A poet needs to keep his wilderness alive inside him. To remain a poet after forty requires an awareness of your darkest Africa, that part of yourself that will never be tamed.
― Stanley Kunitz

Some poems present themselves as cliffs that need to be climbed. Others are so defensive that when you approach their enclosure you half expect to be met by a snarling dog at the gate. Still others want to smother you with their sticky charms.
― Stanley Kunitz

Old myths, old gods, old heroes have never died.
They are only sleeping at the bottom of your mind,
waiting for our call. We have need for them.
They represent the wisdom of our race.
― Stanley Kunitz

Not that you need to be a saint to have visions worth talking about. The most effective prescription, I suspect, is to be a disciplined sinner. Perfection, as Valery noted, is work.
― Stanley Kunitz

...few young poets are testing their poems against the ear. They're writing for the page, and the page, let me tell you, is a cold bed.
― Stanley Kunitz

Miss Murphy in first grade
wrote its name in chalk
across the board and told us
it was roaring down the storm tracks
of the milky way at frightful speed
and if it wandered off its course
and smashed into the earth
there'd be no school tomorrow.
― Stanley Kunitz

End with an image and don't explain.
― Stanley Kunitz, The Collected Poems


I like to think of the antique 3D photo viewers as a perfect graphic metaphor for bipolar. Each image separately is slightly skewed but combined it adds up to the whole.

Robert Anderson

The mission of the playwright is to look in his heart and write, to write whatever concerns him at the moment; to write with passion and conviction. Of course the measure of the man will be the measure of the play.
- Robert Anderson, playwrite

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bradbury and Thackeray

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
- Ray Bradbury

There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.
- William Makepeace Thackeray

Tom Wootton

I just read Tom Wootton's book The Bipolar Advantage and it held my attention for hours until I was done. I followed up with a bunch of articles written by him which I liked even more. Here.


I dreamed I was at a friend's family farm in Virginia and she offered me long shorts and an ironed 50's style blouse to wear. I put them them on over the clothes I already had on and everything clashed. Then she gave me a molded lavender-flavored chocolate lollipop.

Painters Are Storytellers


Friday, April 26, 2013

Julius Lester

For the past forty-seven years I have devoted most of my time and energy to writing. It has been a vocation in the original sense of the word, that is a religious calling, one I was helpless to deny. For me writing has never been about self-expression. Writing has been about tending the spirit and making real the soul.
- Julius Lester

Being a failure at living your own life as best as you can is better than being a success living the life somebody else says you should live.
- Julius Lester, Guardian

But there are times when a tree can no longer withstand the pain inflicted on it, and the wind will take pity on that tree and topple it over in a mighty storm. All the other trees who witnessed the evil look down upon the fallen tree with envy. They pray for the day when a wind will end their suffering. I pray for the day when God will end mine.
- Julius Lester, Guardian

Dying ain't important. Everyone does that. What's important is how well you do your living.
- Julius Lester

I write because the lives of all of us are stories. If enough of those stories are told, then perhaps we will begin to see that our lives are the same story. The differences are merely in the details.
- Julius Lester

To write and not tell the truth? That would be death for any writer. But more, it would be death to the imagination. And if the imagination dies, what would happen to the souls of children?
- Julius Lester

Maynard Silva

A tree grows up out of the ground, but it uses a lot more ground than just the ground that’s right under the tree. There’s got to be a whole lot of music that you don't play in front of people. There’s got to be something that you play when you're by yourself. It could be anything. I'll play along with Tuvan music, or I might play “Oh, Danny Boy,” or I might take a guitar in standard tuning and start playing Elmore James chops. It doesn't matter as long as you're playing with it. That’s why they call it playing guitar, they don't call it working guitar. You've got to be having some fun with it, and particularly if you're going to entertain people. If you're just hacking the stuff through, you're not going to get anywhere.
- Maynard Silva

Oliver Sacks

I expect to be astonished, to hear things I haven't heard before, or haven't paid attention to before, or that I understand in a new way. . . I'm never finished with anything, nor do I think one should be. My motive forces are wonder and curiosity, and I think these are good motive forces. People want to know about the wonders of the world, whether it's white tigers or the total wonderland of being human.
- Oliver Sacks

George Jones


Monkey See. . .


Jon Frankel

Jon has an amazing post about his mom and her friend. Dorie-May and Marge in the kitchen. Here.
And another must see here.

Les Barricades Mystérieuses

I heard this François Couperin piece Mysterious Barricades on the radio this morning and the title caught my ear. There's so much more here, and here.

Peace Pilgrim

In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful. Among mature people war would not be a problem - it would be impossible. In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war. However, people can mature just as children grow up. Yes, our institutions and our leaders reflect our immaturity, but as we mature we will elect better leaders and set up better institutions. It always comes back to the thing so many of us wish to avoid: working to improve ourselves.
— Peace Pilgrim

We must walk according to the highest light we have, encountering lovingly those who are out of harmony, and trying to inspire them toward a better way. Whenever you bring harmony into any unpeaceful situation, you contribute to the cause of peace. When you do something for world peace, peace among groups, peace among individuals, or your own inner peace, you improve the total peace picture.
- Peace Pilgrim

Keep your feet on the ground and your thoughts at lofty heights.
- Peace Pilgrim

David Hume

Reading and sauntering and lounging and dozing, which I call thinking, is my supreme happiness.
- David Hume

Vivian Maier

and here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Air Mail

I'll admit I love reading books of letters --but this one is exceptional.
Air Mail
The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer
The publisher, Graywolf Press published a few other favorite books of mine Episodes by Pierre Delattre and Brenda Ueland's book on writing.

Joe Minter's Magic City

Art was not an escape from this world; if it existed, Mr. Minter didn’t know about it. What thrived was ingenuity, improvisation. “I didn’t have toys,” he said. “I started making stuff with whatever I could get my hands on.”

A cigar box, perforated with an ice pick and filled with gravel, turned into a rattle. A tree stump, a nail and a 10-foot strip of tin became a twirler-whirler. “It was really just a child mind, inquiring,” he recalled.

He assembled school furniture until the plant shut down. He learned the trade of auto-body repair, but the dust and paint were punishing. He labored on road crews and construction sites until they went away. And then, at 50-something, he realized that he was retired. (Mr. Minter’s pension evaporated when his old employer closed shop. The couple survives on Mrs. Minter’s small retirement, Social Security and providence.)

You could also say that this was when his life’s real work began. One afternoon, as Mr. Minter recalls, he headed outside, gathered the windblown trunks of a gum tree and started carving African totems.

Mrs. Minter offered neither encouragement nor rebuke. “He told me that it was a vision from God,” she said. “And when someone tells me God talk to him, I don’t interfere.”

Mr. Minter chimed in: “I was going back to what they were doing in Africa. You know how they say there was a Bronze Age and the Iron Age. There was a wood age. But they never did keep a record of the wood age.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

John O’Donohue

Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future; therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.
- John O’Donohue

Donald R. Hopkins

Choosing a life’s work that requires visiting remote villages around the world seems counterintuitive for someone who, by his own admission, is terrified of snakes, rats, bats, airplanes, heights and food poisoning. Read.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Anna Merz

To Mrs. Merz, rhinos — far from being the stupid, aggressive, ill-tempered sorts many suppose — were, in her words, beautiful and elegant. She blamed their bellicosity on their poor eyesight, leading them to charge first and ask questions later. She found that rhinos have a sense of humor and that they communicate by altering their breathing rhythms. She read them Shakespeare to soothe them.

Samia, an orphan rhino whom she raised from babyhood, even crawled into bed with Mrs. Merz — not entirely to her delight. Samia would follow her around like a dog, even after leaving Mrs. Merz’s immediate care and returning to the reserve, where she mated and had her own calf. If Mrs. Merz fell, Samia would extend her tail to help her up.

Not realizing how big she had grown, Samia once tried to sneak back into the house where she had been nursed and became jammed in the dining room door. Mrs. Merz had to pour a gallon of cooking oil on her rough skin to ease her through.

Nin Andrews

I remember my grade school teacher, Mrs. Ward, said once that bad thoughts are birds. The bad thoughts will pick your soul apart one piece at a time. Each time you think a bad thing, it takes a bit of you with it. No matter how hard you try, you can’t call it back. It’s out there, building its nest in the world.
- Nin Andrews

Read Nin Andrew's entire piece My Next Small Thing paired with my painting, The Bird Maiden. Here.

Pop Up Poets

There is something beautiful about public artwork.


Lucky Teeth

I love dental quirks - especially the gap between the front teeth. When a gap toothed person smiles I have the sensation of swimming through the gap.

In Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria, diastema is regarded as being attractive and a sign of fertility, and some people have even had them created through cosmetic dentistry. In France, they are called "dents du bonheur" ("lucky teeth"), and in Australia, gapped front teeth in children are said to be a predictor of future wealth.

Les Blank's Gap-Toothed Women is a documentary film about diastematic women.
- Wikipedia

Pico Iyer

Writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.
- Pico Iyer

Endorphin Dolphin

When I used to swim laps I called myself an endorphin dolphin. Today reading about endorphins I ended up reading all about dissociative disorders. There's one called Dissociative Fugue.
Endorphins and stress.
Endorphins are known to play a role in depersonalization disorder
Dissociative disorders.

Carl Jung Psychological Types

Psychological Types is the sixth volume in the Princeton / Bollingen edition of the Collected Works of Carl Jung. The original German language edition, Psychologische Typen, was first published by Rascher Verlag, Zurich in 1921. In the book Jung categorized people into primary types of psychological function.

Jung proposed four main functions of consciousness:

Two perceiving functions: Sensation and Intuition
Two judging functions: Thinking and Feeling
The functions are modified by two main attitude types: extraversion and introversion. Jung theorized that the dominant function characterizes consciousness, while its opposite is repressed and characterizes unconscious behavior.

The eight psychological types are as follows:

Extraverted sensation
Introverted sensation
Extraverted intuition
Introverted intuition
Extraverted thinking
Introverted thinking
Extraverted feeling
Introverted feeling

- Wikipedia

A Day

The divorced men work hard and play hard. They grill steaks and tear apart their house. They use hydraulic tools to staple cedar shingles. Occasionally the ex wives visit with their young kids. On warm days their three hilarious bulldogs charge the fence as I walk by with Lily. Once I saw a gigantic snapping turtle the size of a manhole cover crawl up into their driveway from the mill pond opposite them. This was years before they lived there. I rang bells and knocked on windows to tell the owners not to run the turtle over. In summer there's a symphony of bullfrogs that can be heard from their house.

When I am walking my dog it gives me superpowers, and I'll talk to everyone sometimes for an extended visit. It's an amazing world.

Yesterday I was was walking and ran into a whole family I often see. They have three sweet kids and their two dogs like Lily. We were standing in the middle of the quiet street that runs along the pond. The parents sat on the curb the kids and I were wiggling our noses ears and curling our tongues, laughing our heads off. The young girl age 8 was talking like she was Dracula from Transylvania. It made my day.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Popcorn Trees and Tattooed Men

The pink and white flowering cherry trees look like they are growing popcorn!

There's a little house where two tattooed workmen live, next to the mashed potato house, near the pond. They have Mr. Man macho trucks, a flat black hearse, 2 ATV's and motorcycles. Today they were mulching and tending their flower beds. Makes me chuckle.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wacky Dresses


Caroline Shaw

Every day, you have to make three hours of music, just randomly improvising, and that’s a great way to weed stuff out.
- Carolyn Shaw

Loretta Laroche

A life that is fulfilling is predicated on discovering how to use thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to enhance our mental and physical well being. Many of us go day to day hypnotized by internal dialogue that leads us down the path of negativity and unhappiness. It is often the result of parental and societal messages, but it can also be an inherited predisposition towards depression and/or anxiety. Optimism, which is a resiliency based model, can be taught. It is not the fairy tale concept of simply thinking "positive thoughts", but rather an explanatory style. When we add the ingredient of humor, our ability to handle life's inevitable ups and downs becomes more accessible.

Wisdom, Openness, and Wonder as a benchmark for living well. We've all met enthusiastic, energetic people that leave us wondering what they could possibly be "on" to be the way they are. Most individuals today report fatigue and stress as a way of life. There are a myriad of causes, but the most prevalent problem is the notion that life is a constant series of tasks that need to be accomplished and expedited quickly. As a result taking care of one's health and happiness becomes secondary to making sure everything is done by the end of the day. Ironically this mentality actually drains our resources and dampens the very thing we need to have a productive life which is energy, or a feeling of "WOW". Our ability to use our wisdom, be open to new ideas and experience wonder in the everyday is exchanged for a robotic mentality based on forging ahead. When we are in a "WOW" mode relationships flourish, success is more attainable, and we tend to feel more energetic.
- Lorretta Laroche

Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.
- Wendell Berry

Not Far Enough

I saw this on The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of one of the founders of psychiatry, Philippe Pinel, born in Saint-Andre, France (1745). He studied mathematics, theology, and internal medicine before becoming the chief physician at a Paris insane asylum in 1792. Before Pinel arrived, conditions at the asylum were horrible: Among other things, patients were chained to the walls, and people could pay a fee to come in and watch them.

and I sent it to my psychiatrist friend. He wrote back: in some places, people paid money to poke the patients with long sticks.

Holy smokes. What scares me is that we are not far enough away from this now. Understanding of and compassion for mental illness are not part of the national dialogue as much as I wish it were. Perhaps compassion is still too subtle to stand up to the heat of anger. I know that as soon as I am angry my compassion flies out the window. Yet the understanding is better than it used to be. We have more awareness about mental illness and its relationship to domestic abuse, sexual abuse, animal abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, and violence. So perhaps attitudes are changing , slowly.
In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war.
-Peace Pilgrim

Magical Walk

The other day I took Lily for a walk and bumped into my neighbor who was on the way to pick up his car. We walked to Blackstone together. We talked about the neighborhood, and the impact of the slumlords. I told him I was thinking of starting a neighborhood list of all us home-owners on this end of the street so we can stay connected. Maybe we can talk to city officials or state reps about our concerns. He loved the idea. We parted, and I took a walk up a road that I wasn't familiar with. I got sort-of-lost, and I found a dairy farm that I never knew existed called Green Acres. The people living across the street gave Lily water, and further down the road was a stream where she could lie down and cool off. We passed through woods for a while and came across a modern Italian villa surrounded by a black wrought-iron fence with gold fleur-de-lis caps on the posts. There were statues everywhere, including two giant gold lions and the Venus de Milo. There was a bubbling fountain under an arbor surrounded by red tile and a circle of chairs. It was like a surreal movie set. I kept walking, finally approaching a string of cemeteries and roads that I was familiar with. I came to Harris Pond and could see Lily's favorite swim spot on the opposite side. We crossed over on the railroad grade, and Lily had her chance to drink and cool off. We walked home the usual way. It must've been a 6 or 7 mile walk over almost 3 hours. We were happy to be home. I was glad to finally have lunch! We both slept well that night.

Anne + Sam Lamott

My favorite moment, which I still think of all the time, was when you were eight or nine and we were rushing to get to a radio interview out at the Cowell Theater [in San Francisco], so I was racewalking along the piers at Fort Mason, and you were dreamily watching the seagulls and pelicans and scanning the water for seals. I was begging you to hurry it up, but at the same time I remember dropping a book, and my papers were all disorganized, and I was trying to shove stuff back into my Fibber McGee purse, and you stopped. You said to me sternly, “Mom, you’re moving too fast, and you’re carrying too much.” I still think, to this day, that that explains what’s going on whenever I start to get crazy.
-Anne Lamott

The fact that you and Jax skip a generation makes it so wonderful. Parents are so fixated and so tunnel visioned, so worried about their kids’ health and whether they’ll turn out to be incredible. That’s probably what is most damaging. But there’s a balance in nature with grandparents and grandchildren, because the little kid is revving up for life and the grandparent is revving down, and they fit together like two gears. The grandparents know how to preserve their energy for things that matter, because they have to. They’ve been around long enough to know what is of value and what is just a waste of time.
-Sam Lamott

Anne Lamott

Barry Lopez said, "Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive." To stay alive! I was saved by books at 5, and ever since.

The great Barry Lopez wrote, "Everyone is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion."

"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." --Frederick Buechner

In Secret Life of Bees, Kidd said, "Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here."

87 year old black woman asked during my talk in Dallas, "I don't know if I should take a break & write my story, and 500 people roared: yes.

I've been saved in the dark by th light of stories since I cd first read. They're like keychain flashlights: bright enough somehow to see by.

I want to get a tattoo of "Occupy your heart," Based on Occupy Wall Street. Rise up: it's your heart, your life Fill it. Tell its stories.

Sometimes we need stories more than anything else. I hope you're in the middle of reading or writing something wonderful, rich and true.

Sam & I roller-skating when he was 7. I kept falling. Ow. Sam: "Don't give up, Mom. You get right back up on your hind legs and start over.

I can't see my flowering pear tree beneath her afro of foliage. Maybe a trick,as when prisoners or teens leave a dummy behind. She's in Rio!

Jax woke me urgently b/c top story of flowering pear was bathed in light. He said, "Nana, the leafy tree is sunning up." And now I am too.

- some of Anne Lamott's tweets this week

Also short interview with her son Was I a Good Mom? Read here.


emotional hemophilia
psychological hypochondria
body dysmorphia

Philippe Pinel

It's the birthday of one of the founders of psychiatry, Philippe Pinel (books by this author), born in Saint-André, France (1745). He studied mathematics, theology, and internal medicine before becoming the chief physician at a Paris insane asylum in 1792. Before Pinel arrived, conditions at the asylum were horrible: Among other things, patients were chained to the walls, and people could pay a fee to come in and watch them.

Pinel put a stop to these practices, as well as misguided treatments like bleeding, purging, and blistering. People generally believed that the insane were possessed by demons, but Pinel argued that they were just under a lot of stress. He started treating patients by talking to them about their problems in intense conversations on a regular basis, which paved the way for modern psychiatric practices.


Csikszentmihalyi analyzed how a person enters the flow state, how one maintains flow (engaging in a task where the difficulty matches the ability), and the factors that cause one to leave the flow state — drifting toward other mental states of anxiety, relaxation, boredom, worry, arousal, etc. He was able to demonstrate that someone in flow loses a sense of self-consciousness: the activity is entirely rewarding in and of itself, as one gains a sense of personal control over the activity.

Teddi Scobi

Haiku for Morning Rain

Now, finally rain
The moss garden says thank you
How about some tea?

-Teddi Scobi

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Some folks use their loud music as "cologne" so we know and they know they exist.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Picture Taken

As a child I lived an upper-middle-class life based on the lucrative business of Madison Ave advertising (think MADMEN). My step-father was a photo retoucher, and he eventually owned a graphic arts studio in Manhattan. We were raised with photographs. Our very lives were guided, informed, and controlled by images.

Sometimes those images were in the coffeetable art books that lined our gigantic living room wall and sometimes the images were in the magazines with the retouched fashion models. The images came, of course, from TV, although TV was regarded as BAD FOR YOU by my mother. The images were always more powerful than the truth, more powerful than reality. I was always trying to sniff out the truth - literally. My sniffer is as good as my Labrador's.

My family recorded itself relentlessly with photographs. I always hated having my picture taken, and "taken" was the operative word here: having my picture taken was mandatory, and provided evidence that could be used against me. Once taken, a photo could be scrutinized by my sister or mother, who would say "you look fat, what are you wearing? you aren't cooperating, all you ever are is angry . . ." Body critique was particularly severe, being based on magazine-industry photos of professional models, not on real-life teenagers.

Now it seems our whole society is obsessed, with cell phone cameras, laptop videos, and YouTube. Again the image supersedes, haunts, and abuses the truth. I see the neighborhood teens taking glammy provocative photos of themselves - all eye make-up, puckered lips and scanty clothing. What about the kids who felt like me at that age? How do they find a true image of themselves?

My friend Jennifer once asked me, "Do you remember how in college we essentially wore leaf bags?" She was remembering the baggy clothing we both wore to obscure our lovely figures. To be seen, let alone photographed, was to be taken. We were already violated.

Al Giordano

There, at the Phoenix offices at 126 Brookline Avenue, in the shadow of Fenway Park, I went back to school for the first time ever. I struggled to learn the difference between a pronoun and a preposition. I banged my head on the desk until I figured out what a “nut graph” was: the sentence or paragraph early in the story, but after the “lede,” that explains to readers why they should care about the matter. Some of this I still don’t fully understand – I am a “results” person, not a “process” person. But at some point at that desk I began to love writing as much as I love music, and I began to see the keypad as another musical instrument that I could tame and master.
-Al Giordano

Does the Truth Lie?


JS Baca

...writing has the power to go into demonic places and find the sanctuary that they were hiding from you. In every demonic temple, there is one space that is sacredly innocent. And that’s what writing takes you to. That’s what you have to go into the labyrinth and find. I’ve been a drunk, I’ve been a dope fiend, I’ve been homeless. And
one thing that keeps coming back to me is the strong belief and deep respect for those people who have done the work that they should be doing with themselves.
JS Baca

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I always wanted to name a pet Glinka!
Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (Russian: Михаил Иванович Глинка) (June 1 [O.S. May 20] 1804 – February 15 [O.S. February 3] 1857), was the first Russian composer to gain wide recognition within his own country, and is often regarded as the father of Russian classical music.[1] Glinka's compositions were an important influence on future Russian composers, notably the members of The Five, who took Glinka's lead and produced a distinctive Russian style of music.

Wendell Berry

Never forget: We are alive within mysteries.
- Wendell Berry

There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say "It is yet more difficult than you thought." This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
- Wendell Berry

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lorretta LaRoche

I love Loretta LaRoche! I caught her years ago on PBS and was mesmerized. I was just thinking about her great routine with the Viking hat. Perhaps I should make one and wear it whenever I have to ask people to please "turn it down" we're working! Much funnier than calling the police.
I love this post.
Read more of her blog Get a Life here.

The Company of Cabbage

Yes all is sometimes lonely when you love the company of books and pets and cabbage. I am this person. I connect with the dead poets and the changing sky.

Teddi Scobi

I just got back from the moon.
Someone said,
You lucky kid.

-Teddi Scobi

Thanks Robots!

Some people dictate their blogs and e-mails now. Ram Dass has a blog post that said that getting into one's rage is like a cheap pie. Cheap pie? I realized he must have said 'cheap high,' and his dictation software heard otherwise. I guess the robots are not that good.

So that's my new catch phrase - "a cheap pie." I'm not sure what it means yet, but thanks robots!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ram Dass

I read Ram Dass' BE HEAR NOW in 1976 when I was fifteen, and I remember the day. At the time I was attending an alternative high school in NY. My parents were away for the weekend. I read the book lying on my stomach on their gigantic king-sized bed. The top of my head blew off. It was a moment that began the rest of my reading life. Ram Dass' writings and books still have this affect on me. Just today my husband and I were reading Ram Dass aloud to each other.

Stanley Siegel

A man’s relationship with his mother contains the seeds for every other relationship in his life. I learned to listen by hearing her talk. I learned how to soothe by the kindness in her voice. I learned to be strong-willed from her determination. I learned how to give and take generosity from her motherly example. And I learned how not to be afraid because of her fear of the world.
- Stanley Siegel

Ram Dass

Quotes from Grist for the Mill

The greatest thing you can do for any other human being is provide the unconditional love which comes from making contact with that place in them which is beyond conditions, which is pure consciousness, pure essence.

There's nowhere that you have to go to work on yourself other than where you are at this moment, and everything that's happening to you is part of your work on yourself.

I have three major instructions for my life from my Guru: Love, Serve, and Remember. Love everyone, serve or feed everyone, remember God.

There are many stages on this path, many lessons; don't stop anywhere. It's all part of the process of awakening. You have all the time in the world but don't waste a moment.

As long as you are attached to your separateness, you can't help but perpetuate fear, because there is a subtle fear in you of losing your separate identity.

When you acknowledge that your life is a vehicle for your liberation it becomes clear that all of your life experiences are the optimum experience you need in order to awaken. And the minute you perceive them that way they are useful within that domain. The minute you ignore that perception, they won't work that way.

- Ram Dass

Pine Belt Pacers

The 53 Runner’s Commandments of the Pine Belt Pacers by Joe Kelly These are great guidelines for any endeavor.

Seth Godin

Your audacious life goals are fabulous. We're proud of you for having them. But it's possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that's really frightening you -- the shift in daily habits that would mean a re-invention of how you see yourself.
- Seth Godin

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lollipop League

I found striped tights at Joblot this week for three dollars. They make me look like I stepped off the set of the Wizard of Oz. The Lullaby League/Lollypop Guild. I remember it as the lollipop league!

Moving Away

I always think of moving when it gets noisy in my neighborhood. I dream of moving far away to someplace that is never hot and noisy. There is no such place, my husband reminds me. Then I remember I can't leave Rhode Island because I love my dentist and my veterinarian. They have taken care of me and my pets for over 30 years.

Ken "Blacktop" Gentle

Many years ago, I saw several paintings by Mose Tolliver and Jimmy Lee Sudduth, and recognized that art is not as complex or as simple as it's made out to be, but rather it comes from your heart and soul, not from your mind.
-Ken Gentle, painter

On Performance

Quotes from On Stage Performance by Livingston Taylor

On your career:

Don't get lost in the fantasy of how your career should be. It's good to have heroes and inspiration, but not good to compare yourself to others, and the career progressions of others. Each person's path will be different.

On nervousness:

Remember that your audience means a lot more to you than you mean to them. Your performance is more than likely one small part of their whole time out. They may have been out to dinner, may be celebrating a birthday, may be talking closely with friends. If you don't perform at your all-time best, it will not matter to the audience, especially not nearly as much as it matters to you.

Sometimes the worst does happen, and in spite of your best efforts and wishes, you wind up being absolutely awful. This is normal. Don't be so hard on yourself.

On the audience:

They want attention, and they want to feel that their presence is special to you, that it makes a difference in the course of events that make up your show. They want to believe you are glad to be with them. If you're focused on yourself and caught up in nervousness, you're taking attention away from your audience- the attention they want and deserve...Their attention is a gift. Don't throw it away. Even if you think you don't deserve it, receive it graciously.

Look at, and pay attention to, your audience.

If you are tense, your audience will be tense too, and will become exhausted.

Expect that the unexpected will often happen. Work with material that is basic enough to your skill level that, if an unexpected event occurs, you will be able to respond to the event, while still maintaining your composure.

The performer has the absolute right to be on stage. The audience also has the right to not like what the performer is doing. Sometimes people will love what you do, other times not like it at all. Just do your best at the time, and be patient, and enjoy performing to the end of your show.

Ask yourself where you can add to the audience's enjoyment. If you do something once and the audience likes it, do it again. If they don't like it, don't do it again.

Be patient.

Let your audience know when it's time to respond.

Periodically you need to be still, or at least slow down, as with dancers, or your audience will become tired out.

It's okay to be human on stage...They love you to be normal, to make a mistake, acknowledge it, smile, shake your head slightly, forgive yourself, and move on.

The key to your success lies in making your audience comfortable.

Do not beat yourself up for not being 100 percent. Do the best you can with what you have at the time.

Do not rush the music. This tells the audience you are nervous.

Accept compliments graciously.

Livingston Taylor

Did you ever have a book that is so amazing you tell your friends you can't borrow mine because I need it near me at all times?

Livingston Taylor's On Stage Performance is this book. I tell my teacher, painter, actor and poet friends they must read it.

As with any wise and profound advice, this book applies to all of life.

This is a must-own book because you will re-read passages as your understanding continues to grow.

Get a few copies and scatter them around the house for easy reach.

Cat Fugue

I heard this story told this morning on Classical New England radio station and thought it was fascinating.

The Fugue in G minor (K. 30, L. 499) by Domenico Scarlatti is a one-movement harpsichord sonata popularly known as the Cat fugue or Cat's fugue (La Fuga del Gatto).

The nickname, which was never used by the composer himself but was introduced only early in the 19th century, originates from a story about how Scarlatti came up with the strikingly unusual motif on which the fugue is built. Legend has it that Scarlatti had a pet cat called Pulcinella, who was described by the composer as prone to walking across the keyboard, always curious about its sounds.

On one occasion, according to the story, Scarlatti wrote down a phrase from one of these "improvisation sessions", and used it as a lead motif in a fugue.

The nickname was used in concert programmes in the 19th Century and was also used by publishers including Muzio Clementi, Carl Czerny and Alessandro Longo.

The piece was published in London in 1739. George Frideric Handel, famous for his reuse of his own music and 'borrowings' from the works of others, wrote his Grand Concertos, Op. 6 between late September and late October 1739 and the strange descending intervals of the second movement of No. 3 are reminiscent of Scarlatti's piece. Early 19th century theorist and composer Anton Reicha knew the work and wrote a fugue on the same subject for his 36 Fugues of 1803.

The Cat fugue has been a popular piece. Franz Liszt — who had been introduced to the piece by the Roman collector of manuscripts Abbé Santini — included it in his programmes in Berlin in the early 1840s; Ignaz Moscheles also performed it; both programmed it under the title Cat's fugue.

- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday, April 12, 2013

Music for Food


Joseph Brodsky

In my view, books should be brought to the doorstep like electricity, or like milk in England: they should be considered utilities, and their cost should be appropriately minimal. Barring that, poetry could be sold in drugstores (not least because it might reduce the bill from your shrink). At the very least, an anthology of American poetry should be found in the drawer of every room in every motel in the land, next to the Bible, which will surely not object to this proximity, since it does not object to the proximity of the phone book.
- Joseph Brodsky, An Immodest Proposal

Poetry Month

Let me count the ways. . .

Accidental Genius

Whenever I need to forget art school self-consciousness and be reminded of joie de vivre All I need to do is revisit the self-taught artists. Here.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

If people get sick, we take them to the hospital and give them the right medicine to get better. If people’s behaviour is sick, we bring them to the prison, but we forget the medicines.
– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


For over four hundred years Kabuki has remained a major form of artistic expression for Japan's mercantile, urban societies. Essentially it has always been a popular theatre, reflecting not just the fashions and cultural tastes of the people, but also the political and socio-economic conditions of each age through which it has evolved.

Following centuries of civil war that ravaged the country, the ascendancy of the Tokugawa shogunate at the beginning of the seventeenth century at last brought peace in the form of a centralised military dictatorship. The shogun maintained his power by an unforgiving, hierarchical control of nearly all aspects of Japanese society. With the samurai warrior class at the top, the Confucian class system descended through farmers and craftsmen and finally to merchants, the latter despised particularly for their association with such vulgar matters as usury and trade.

In such constrained social circumstances, the Kabuki theatre was one of the only officially sanctioned forms of entertainment for the general public, and in particular for the grass roots of society. As such Kabuki became a vital channel of expression against government repression. Although strict censorship ensured that nothing negative could be stated openly, nevertheless the subjects of many plays were subversive in content, often criticizing the contemporary social system under ancient historical guise. The real intentions and subjects of such stories, however, were perfectly obvious to the audiences of the time.

As time passed, Kabuki actors became increasingly popular with the public and were, in effect, the bright superstars of their day. They were appreciated not only for their acting skills, but also for the spirit of freedom and individuality that they embodied, as well as for their roles as true fashion icons.


Teri Buford O'Shea

Trust your gut and don't give up your liberties.
-Teri Buford O'Shea

I don’t care

If you pull the trigger

This is the one thing

You cannot have

from Teri Buford O'Shea's book of poems, Jonestown Lullaby

Penguins Hatching


Medusa's Kitchen

Poetry blog.

National Insecurity

by Tomas Tranströmer

The Under Secretary leans forward and draws an X
and her ear-drops dangle like swords of Damocles.

As a mottled butterfly is invisible against the ground
so the demon merges with the opened newspaper.

A helmet worn by no one has taken power.
The mother-turtle flees flying under the water.

- Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robin Fulton
'New and Collected Poems', 1997, Bloodaxe Books

The Indoors is Endless

by Tomas Tranströmer

It’s spring in 1827, Beethoven
hoists his death-mask and sails off.

The grindstones are turning in Europe’s windmills.
The wild geese are flying northwards.

Here is the north, here is Stockholm
swimming palaces and hovels.

The logs in the royal fireplace
collapse from Attention to At Ease.

Peace prevails, vaccine and potatoes,
but the city wells breathe heavily.

Privy barrels in sedan chairs like paschas
are carried by night over the North Bridge.

The cobblestones make them stagger
mamselles loafers gentlemen.

Implacably still, the sign-board
with the smoking blackamoor.

So many islands, so much rowing
with invisible oars against the current!

The channels open up, April May
and sweet honey dribbling June.

The heat reaches islands far out.
The village doors are open, except one.

The snake-clock’s pointer licks the silence.
The rock slopes glow with geology’s patience.

It happened like this, or almost.
It is an obscure family tale

about Erik, done down by a curse
disabled by a bullet through the soul.

He went to town, met an enemy
and sailed home sick and grey.

Keeps to his bed all that summer.
The tools on the wall are in mourning.

He lies awake, hears the woolly flutter
of night moths, his moonlight comrades.

His strength ebbs out, he pushes in vain
against the iron-bound tomorrow.

And the God of the depths cries out of the depths
‘Deliver me! Deliver yourself!’

All the surface action turns inwards.
He’s taken apart, put together.

The wind rises and the wild rose bushes
catch on the fleeing light.

The future opens, he looks into
the self-rotating kaleidoscope

sees indistinct fluttering faces
family faces not yet born.

By mistake his gaze strikes me
as I walk around here in Washington

among grandiose houses where only
every second column bears weight.

White buildings in crematorium style
where the dream of the poor turns to ash.

The gentle downward slope gets steeper
and imperceptibly becomes an abyss.

- Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robin Fulton
'New and Collected Poems', 1997, Bloodaxe Books.

Saint Clapton


Love's Anniversaries

At 10 years we bought a house
At 15 years we bought a 12" cast iron frying pan
At 20 years we had a Brave Combo Dance party
At 28 years we bought a rainbow umbrella for 6 dollars at Joblot

Waking Dream

better idea
I swim Bow Lake where Simic lives
he sees me
the a lake-monster-mermaid
I have picnic basket of bread
and olives with a few poems
and paintings
to give him.
He offers me a dry towel and hot tea.
we have a picnic in his kitchen

April 13th

28 year anniversary -
we spend our last six dollars
on a colorful umbrella.

Phil Bailey

My favorite Liberal Arts teacher at Rhode Island School of Design was Phil Bailey. He was an amazing actor. The classroom was his his theater. Each day he kept us spellbound. We studied the French Novel one semester and the Russian novel another. I loved Madame Bovary. I called her Madame Ovary! I've re-read the book twice since then, always in Spring while lying down on my bed with a view of the blossoming tree.
Flaubert's first novel, Madame Bovary, was published on this day in 1857 about a woman who has multiple affairs to stave off the boredom of her empty existence. The novel caught the attention of the authorities, and Flaubert was charged with corrupting public morals. He was acquitted, and the publicity from the trial made the book a best-seller.
- Writer's Almanac

T.S. Elliot

You are the music.
- T.S. Eliot

Steve Sanfield

Hana Matsuri

Would you observe Gotama Buddha's birthday
then simply wash your face in cold water
put a flower in your hair
look in the mirror
wish yourself a Happy Birthday
go out and manifest your perfect freedom

- Steve Sanfield

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bette Midler Back on B'Way


Jon Frankel

J. Robert Lennon on Contemporary Fiction by Jon Frankel

J. Robert Lennon has a great piece on why young writers should not immerse themselves in contemporary literary fiction. He wrote it in response to a piece by Dan Chaon. I have a minor quibble with his comments about poetry. I've noticed poets and novelists gaze at each other's pastures and see green valleys on the other side of the fence, as opposed to their little yard of mud and shit. I occupy both pastures and can assure you poets are as boring and craven as fiction writers. The same ratio of borderline mediocrities who squeek through MFA programs with enough skills to flood the market with cliches applies to poets as novelists and short story writers. I would also add that in addition to genre fiction and all sorts of other writing, I at least learn and am entertained by reading widely in the past and in the works of other countries. But the past is the thing. If you want to refresh your language, find new ways of doing things, fire the imagination, a chaotic mixture of past and present is great. And I don't mean the 20th century! I mean the Middle Ages, the Early Modern Period, Greece'n'Rome, the Bible, the Tao Te Ching and the Upanishads, I mean Sumerian epic poetry and Sung Dynasty detective fiction, Romantic poetry, Gothic fiction....I mean Shakespeare, yes, but also Marlowe, Middleton, Kyd, Webster and why not, Greene's dreadful Pandosto....anything includes everything. A novelist, like a poet, should have encyclopedic and eccentric knowledge unrestricted by the contemporary and the acknowledged GOOD. Well, I don't want to rewrite his excellent essay!

reposted from Last Bender

J Robert Lennon

But a fiction writer ought to engage with other parts of the culture, too. This includes reading outside one's genre—I happen to favor sci-fi and mystery, but I think it's fine for literary writers to read YA, romance, fantasy, or whatever they please. Literary writers are in the privileged position of being permitted to raid any genre for tools to subvert and repurpose. We ought to be reading poetry, too, of course, and nonfiction. We should read instruction manuals, legal documents, restaurant reviews, and corporate newsletters. We should follow weird people on twitter and go to lots of parties and have lots of intense and ridiculous conversations with drunk people. We should go home for the holidays and argue with our families, and we ought to listen to lots of music and we ought to watch plenty of television, because television is, at the moment, the most artistically important narrative medium. We should eavesdrop, and we should gossip. We should probably be in therapy. We should probably drink more coffee.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dream Careers

Elephant behaviorist
Dolphin researcher
Home visit chef - nutritionist
Classical French horn player
Goat cheese farmer and owner of a Jersey cow
Translator of French poetry
Dog walker
Teacher of swimming to kids
Opera singer
Training dogs for the blind
Documentary photographer

Gregg Mazel

Gregg is my saxophone teacher and when he writes to me I insist they are poems. With his permission They are posted here.

Life is Full of Miscues
by Gregg Mazel

Try not to stress over these people and situations.
Life is full of miscues.
Losing a Tuba player in the middle of Rhode Island is actually pretty funny.
One of the biggest horns gets lost in the littlest state...
Once in RI my baritone sax player/singer Tommy Mahfood (The Shah) called us on the road to our gig.
His truck "the Camel" broke down on the way to the wedding.
Since he had all the gear for the band, the bridal party had to wait for the PA.
We ended up serenading them acoustically for an hour with guitar and sax.
They seemed to enjoy the music. The funniest part was when Tommy came in later with black oil all over his hands from fixing the Camel!
We'll all laugh about this well into the future.

Another Poem
by Gregg Mazel

I love teaching.
I love swimming.
I love music.

Interesting you say "have", like it was a baby.
Me too.

I would like one day to have a baby radio station or
a circus without an elephant or a horse.
Then I would try learning to scale a tall pole, swing on a rope,
and eject myself from a cannon,
into a pool filled with mandarin orange or flesh colored jello molds of pretty females
like the one I saw at RISD
many years ago
on a rolly cart,
the art observers all smiling giggling,
gently moving the cart
back and forth
to watch
the jello art.

André Aciman


and read.

Peak Moments

I have my peak moments and they are moments of loving poetry, feeling
as if God put a magnifying glass over the words just for me
to read and hear
and taste in my ears and mouth.

Bio Dad

My bio dad
a stranger to me but he
had a gorgeous collie and walked her along the Hudson River in Yonkers
every day
washed her feet
each day
before coming home
to the white carpets of the apartment co-op.
He also drank three martinis every night
and had nothing in his refrigerator!
His wife lived on vitamin pills, hairspray, and air.

Chamber of Secrets


Dalai Lama

The realization that we are all basically the same human beings who seek happiness and try to avoid suffering is very helpful in developing a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood; a warm feeling of love and compassion for others.
- Dalai Lama

The Name of a Fish

by Faith Shearin

If winter is a house then summer is a window
in the bedroom of that house. Sorrow is a river
behind the house and happiness is the name

of a fish who swims downstream. The unborn child
who plays in the fragrant garden is named Mavis:
her red hair is made of future and her sleek feet

are wet with dreams. The cat who naps
in the bedroom has his paws in the sun of summer
and his tail in the moonlight of change. You and I

spend years walking up and down the dusty stairs
of the house. Sometimes we stand in the bedroom
and the cat walks towards us like a message.

Sometimes we pick dandelions from the garden
and watch the white heads blow open
in our hands. We are learning to fish in the river

of sorrow; we are undressing for a swim.

by Faith Shearin, The Owl Question

Red-Headed Woodpecker

I saw a read-headed woodpecker on Montcalm Ave yesterday in the trees, behind the ice house. He was not making the woodpecker drumming sounds I am familiar with, he was making an unusual alarm sound. Probably because Lily and I were walking by.

I love that the trees are still bare so I can see their branches and nests. The pond is visible from the Precious Blood cemetery hill.

Last year at this time we saw ducklings plop out of the gigantic tree on Valley Street and walk across the road following their mother to the pond.

My friend Jake had a bunny that thought it was a duckling because she was raised with ducklings.

Faith Shearin

My poems begin in little notebooks, in my car. I keep lists of ideas and images and I scribble whenever I can, usually for at least an hour after I drop my daughter off at school. I file books and music I enjoy in my back seat; it's a mess but it works well for me: a kind of traveling office.

The desire to write is a desire to be in dialogue with the books I carry even into my bathtub and bed. I think of reading as listening and writing as speaking; when I read something powerful or exciting, I find myself wishing I could respond.

I'm working on a new manuscript, which usually takes me three to five years. I have been living in a cabin on top of a mountain in West Virginia and my impossible driveway is a central obsession. I have a small, low-slung dog and a daughter who speaks Latin and loves atoms and spiders. There is a creature in my ceiling that makes wonderful scratching sounds. My husband wants to buy some chickens. I am writing poems in my car, before I swim.

-Faith Shearin interview

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Open Space

Our dreams come true but not in the way we imagine them. We have to allow for that space.


Tarantism, as a ritual, has roots in the ancient Greek myths. Reportedly, victims who had collapsed or were convulsing would begin to dance with appropriate music and be revived as if a tarantula had bitten them. The music used to treat dancing mania appears to be similar to that used in the case of tarantism though little is known about either. Justus Hecker (1795–1850), describes in his work Epidemics of the Middle Ages:

A convulsion infuriated the human frame [...]. Entire communities of people would join hands, dance, leap, scream, and shake for hours [...]. Music appeared to be the only means of combating the strange epidemic [...] lively, shrill tunes, played on trumpets and fifes, excited the dancers; soft, calm harmonies, graduated from fast to slow, high to low, prove efficacious for the cure.

The music used against spider bites featured drums and clarinets, was matched to the pace of the victim, and is only weakly connected to its later depiction in the tarantellas of Chopin, Liszt, Rossini, and Heller.

While most serious proponents speculated as to the direct physical benefits of the dancing rather than the power of the music a mid-18th century medical textbook gets the prevailing story backwards describing that tarantulas will be compelled to dance by violin music.[10] It was thought that the Lycosa tarantula wolf spider had lent the name "tarantula" to an unrelated family of spiders having been the species associated with Taranto, but since the lycosa tarantula is not inherently deadly in summer or in winter,[10] the highly poisonous Mediterranean black widow (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus) may have been the species originally associated with Taranto's manual grain harvest.

The Tarantella is a dance in which the dancer and the drum player constantly try to upstage each other by dancing longer or playing faster than the other, subsequently tiring one person out first.


Dancing Mania