Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mexican Hat Dream


In my hands, a framed sepia photograph of a crowded street in Mexico. Most of the men are wearing large straw hats, no two of which are alike. The picture comes to life: the hats, but not the faces or clothing, are infused with color; there is conversation, laughter, movement; the sound of a woman’s voice becomes the scent of gardenia.

Added yesterday to the Annandale Dream Gazette.


Update:
In the Forum: biological imperatives and a pig with a wrench.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hurlothrumbo Revisited


Yesterday afternoon, Jerry Morris, a book collector and researcher in the Tampa Bay area, was kind enough to drop me a line to say he’d linked to my Hurlothrumbo entry in the Library Thing catalog of James Boswell’s library. While I was there, I visited his profile page. Jerry, who goes by the handle “moibibliomaniac,” currently has 2,145 books cataloged. Be sure to read his “About my library” section, which includes information about his various collections. Books from the eighteenth century, books about books, books about words, and books formerly owned by authors are some of his interests.


Update:
In the Forum: It understands English, but cannot press the override button.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

If I Twittered, This Is Probably What I’d Say


Dostoevsky wearing a baseball uniform
Karamazov on first
Tolstoy with the pitch
Online bookends
There’s a train in my room
A dream about painting tree trunks with mustard
What does carbon taste like?
Lo, the cows have returned
The others, like me, are much alike in that they differ
Someone forgot to close the forest door

Added to Useless Information.

4.28.2009 #3
4.28.2009 #2
4.28.2009 #1


Under the Boardwalk


Under the Boardwalk
April 25, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card


4.28.2009 #2
4.28.2009 #1


Alone in a Dream


Many times over the years, I have noticed that certain moments, even as they unfold, etch themselves upon the mind and enter immediately into the realm of memory:

Late one night in October 1982, when my brother and I were waiting at a cab station for a taxi to take us from Yerevan to Echmiadzin, the stars were so bright and the empty streets so sad, I felt I was part of an ancient dream. The 3,000-year-old Armenian city was home to more than a million people, but I felt more alone than I had ever been. As the moment washed over me, the loneliness was painful, but it also seemed eternal, sweet, and full of promise.

The taxi arrived. We sped off through the night — past the ruined cathedral of Zvartnots, past the massive fortress dome of St. Hrispime in the town of Echmiadzin and the crowded cemetery beyond, through scented poplar shadows to the iron gate of the monastery of Echmiadzin itself, where we were greeted by the white-haired, stubble-faced keeper, proudly waiting in his little stone room.

All the while, Mother Earth drifted silently among the stars — one side of her in shadow and the other facing the sun, the light of which streamed down far away upon the little house in the vineyard where my wife waited and our children played.

I went into my room with its old-fashioned wallpaper and its narrow bed neatly made, and was delighted once again to find the still-life arrangement of water pitcher and golden pears beckoning atop the little table near the window.

I closed the door and took off my shoes, then sat down to make some notes. Later, when I fell asleep, I wandered off into an even larger dream.

From Songs and Letters, originally published May 11, 2006.

Note: The links in the second paragraph were added for this publication.


Update:
In the Forum: chickens waiting in the drizzle for the tram.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Exchange Update


My thanks to Gary B. Fitzgerald for letting me know about the three-phase digital chapbook publication of selections from his two poetry volumes, Hardwood and Softwood. You can read about them on the World Class Poetry Blog here and here. Gary has also posted some thoughts on poetry and publishing in the comment section of the first post.

Book Exchange, Part 5
Book Exchange, Part 4
Book Exchange, Part 3
Book Exchange, Part 2
Book Exchange, Part 1


4.27.2009 #2
4.27.2009 #1


Death Treads Softly


Death treads softly
past the nurse
reading at her desk.

When morning comes,
another bed is empty.

Winter is long,
the old folks
let go one by one.

We strip their sheets
and scrub the floors,
send their bundles
to the laundry.

But the ones who live
are hungry.

They tap their canes,
caress their lumpy chins.

Ed the teacher has three shirts,
and all of them are blue.

Margaret the lawyer’s wife
smells like crushed
dry marigolds.

Listen to the waves
slap against their boat,
a beautiful day
with no one steering.

Listen to them chew.

They are talking about
the wisteria back home,
last year’s petunias
by the walk.

Simply put,
manure is the answer.

Hello, I’m your new neighbor.
My name is Joan.

A shiver up the spine.
Joan? . . . Ah, yes.
Sit down. Sit down.

From Songs and Letters, originally published February 19, 2006.


Update:
In the Forum: the tragedy of ice cubes and several possible reasons the chicken crossed the road.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Calligrapher’s Note


Old woman on the sidewalk, flowers in one hand, cane in the other.

(first publication)


Updates:
“Calligrapher’s Note” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

As the Conversation continues, we reminisce about pencils.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Insomnia


Insomnia
April 23, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card


Update:
In the Forum: a possible porcupine shortage.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dream Smile


I’m sitting at a table beside my father’s uncle, Archie, who died in 1985. We each have a full mug of coffee that’s much too hot to drink. My mug is the heavy glass one I usually use for tea. His is the shiny black one a friend gave me a few years ago. We switch mugs. Now the coffee is much cooler. We switch back. Hot again. I say, “It looks like someone is trying to tell us something.” Archie smiles. Obviously, that someone is him.

Added this morning to the Annandale Dream Gazette.


Recently Linked: My thanks to Iyamabo, J E, for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. He joins us from Nigeria. Thanks also to Greg Santos, for quoting and linking to my short review of Sitting Pretty Magazine in his blog, Moondoggy’s Pad. Greg is the poetry editor of pax americana. And thanks to Navid Nikkar for linking to the title page of my Early Short Stories in this post of his Farsi-language blog, My Footnotes.

Update:
In the Forum: scribbles, cross-outs, doodles, and faces.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poetry through the Ages


My thanks to Michael Douma for letting me know about his new poetry exhibit, Poetry through the Ages. The beautifully designed site is part of a larger interactive museum called WebExhibits, which explores subjects as diverse as calendars, butter, the causes of color, and Van Gogh’s letters.

Beginning with a general overview, various facets and forms of poetry are discussed in successive, easy-to-digest layers; then, visitors are encouraged to write something of their own.

An interesting feature is the Node View option — a kind of simplified road map that offers smaller bits of information in thought-bubbles called “nodes.” Click on one — “Browse by Era,” for instance — and your screen is quickly rearranged to reveal a new set of nodes representing different periods, which in turn lead you deeper into more specific times and places.

Worthy of further exploration — Poetry through the Ages will be of interest to teachers, students, readers, and practitioners alike. Visitors’ feedback is also encouraged.

Node poems

Note: A link to Poetry through the Ages can also be found in the “Reading Room.”


Update:
This entry added to Highly Recommended.

4.23.2009 #2
4.23.2009 #1


Outgrown


Bicycle inner tube in our dogwood tree — memory sheds its skin.

(first publication)


Updates:
“Outgrown” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: a colorized photo of Tolstoy and a haberdashery.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dream Pitch


I was on one side of a graveled road, my brother was on the other. Behind him was an old dormant filbert grove. I was holding a baseball bat. He threw me a perfect pitch, and I hit the ball deep into the grove. He ran off to look for it. The ball had hooked to the right, so I started walking in that direction down the road. After I’d walked about half a mile, I came to a restaurant. My brother was there. He said he couldn’t find the ball. There was a short line of people waiting to scrub their hands at a shiny metal sink. Behind the counter, my daughter was on a gurney, about to have a baby. I had no idea she was expecting. I hurriedly washed my hands. Somehow, even though I had never seen them before, I assumed the people ahead of me were her in-laws. There were no towels. I shook the water from my hands. I went behind the counter. My daughter was gone. A nurse told me they had taken her in already. I went back and washed my hands a second time. I went outside, and after walking a few feet across a wet lawn, I realized my hair and beard were covered with thick white spider webs. The more of them I removed, the more there were. I came to the corner of another building. I noticed something shiny by the foundation. When I bent down to look at it, a bright-green spider crawled into my hair.

Added this morning to the Annandale Dream Gazette. My thanks, as always, to Lynn Behrendt.


Updates:
In the Forum: Dogs and cats react differently to elf cream; some take pictures of their desks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sitting Pretty Magazine


I’ve thought many times about taking pictures of my work table and its immediate surroundings, but I followed through with the idea only recently when I discovered Sitting Pretty Magazine, a new publication launched by novelist Paul A. Toth, who also edits Hit and Run.

As readers might recall, Hit and Run provides a visually compelling record of creative work still in its raw form by sharing notes of works-in-progress. Sitting Pretty takes this line of thinking another step by focusing on writers’ desks and workspaces, which are, in their own way, as revealing as their notebooks and other bad habits. There is an obstinate glory in these photographs, also a sense of obsession, restlessness, destiny, and play in the levels of order and disorder they relate.

My work table changed soon after my son took the picture published in this entry of Sitting Pretty. It was necessary to move the chapbooks and some of the papers in the foreground so I could move the keyboard and pay some festering, overdue bills.

Image: The area immediately to my left, leading to two bookshelves. The picture near the window sill is of my father sitting on his tractor, sometime around 1975.

(click to enlarge)


Recently Linked: A link to Sitting Pretty Magazine is included in the “Reading Room.” My thanks to Paul A. Toth for linking here from his new publication.

Updates:
In the Forum: the benefits of elf cream.

A brief note about Sitting Pretty added to News and Reviews.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Café Poetry 2009



With a tribute to Leonardo Alishan
(Page includes remembrances, photo, poetry samples, and reviews)



Update:
In the Forum: a divine investigation.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Grandpa is a Nut


Grandpa is a nut. We like Grandpa a lot. We like him so much, we ground him up and sprinkled him on top of Grandma’s birthday cake.

Grandma said, “What is it about this cake that tastes so good?”

“Grandpa! Grandpa!” we replied.

“Oh, yes!” Grandma said with a big smile. “That explains everything!”

And we all danced around Grandma’s birthday cake until the ground-up nut turned back into Grandpa.

“What a wonderful party,” Grandpa said. “Happy Birthday, dear.”

And Grandpa kissed Grandma on the ear.

Note: This little children’s story popped into my head yesterday morning when I was chatting online with Lola Koundakjian. After telling me she had already spoken with friends in Belgium, Yerevan, and Fresno, I said, “And now you’re chatting with a nut in Oregon. ... You could grind me up and put me on a cake.” What I hope now is that someone will happen along and want to illustrate the story. Just think — we can publish it and become rich and famous together! Or at least famous. ... Well, maybe not famous, exactly. But something. I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.


Update:
As the Conversation continues, I am called to become the faithful amanuensis.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Copper Rain


Trick of the light, or a copper rain, ten thousand pennies at a time?

(first publication)


Updates:
“Copper Rain” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: a consonant rain.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Back to the Garden


A couple of days ago during their afternoon walk, my wife showed our seventeen-month-old grandson how to tap the stem of a ripe dandelion and scatter the fluff. Delighted, he became an expert in no time.

When he’s a little older, I’ll show him how to dig holes and turn them into hiding places. I had a fireplace and chimney in one once. The soil was very firm and heavy around our house, so all I had to do was dig the fireplace into the wall with a trowel, and then tap a horseshoe peg down to it from ground level to make the chimney. Fuel — dried leaves, pine needles, sticks from the vineyard — was easy to come by. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing smoke rise from your very own hearth, through your very own chimney, into your very own sky.


Update:
In the Forum: Willy the Shakes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Among the Ruins


Among the Ruins
April 16, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card


4.16.2009 #3
4.16.2009 #2
4.16.2009 #1


Merrill Moore


When you have a moment, drop by A Common Reader and read this short entry about Merrill Moore. It contains a sonnet of his and some great biographical links. And I love the way Chrees stumbled onto Moore’s book in a used bookstore. I have stacks and stacks of books found in exactly the same manner.

4.16.2009 #2
4.16.2009 #1


What They Said About Light


Early each morning, the people quietly arose,
then emerged from their cottages
with their pitchers to fill them with light.

It was wonderful to see them
gathered at the well —

mothers first with their children,
each child with a pitcher of its own,
infants with tiny thimbles

old men trembling to keep hold,
farmers, midwives, poets.

There was a wise saying in those days:

             First, let us bring light.

Then someone came along
and broke all the pitchers.

But in time they found other ways
to bring light —

in their eyes, in their hearts, in their hands;

             in their minds.

And so their saying is right;
what they said about light, still stands.

(first publication)


Updates:
“What They Said About Light” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: scuppered elves.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dry Haiku


Tarantula on a dead man’s face — hard times on Highway 61.

(first publication)

Note: The other evening, while eating Easter leftovers, I told my son that we should get rid of his cat and have a pet tarantula instead. I said we could keep it in a terrarium, and in the terrarium we could create a desert scene with dry sand and a narrow highway running through it — in honor of Bob Dylan, Highway 61. Somewhere along the highway there would be an old derelict motel, and a man sitting out front who looked like Richard Brautigan. The tarantula, down on his luck, would be walking along the highway with an old suitcase, stopping occasionally to wipe its brow. As the weary arachnid passed by, Brautigan would say, “Dry haiku.”


Updates:
As the Conversation continues, I am exhorted to “scupper the old tentative outer-chap.”

“Dry Haiku” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Exchange, Part 5


Thanks again to Brian Salchert and Gary B. Fitzgerald for taking part in our three-way book exchange. It’s been a wonderful experience, and I feel lucky to have copies of their books. Earlier today, Gary also posted a poem of his that he wrote for his father back in 1992; readers will find it in the comment stream of the previous book exchange entry.

Meanwhile, I can’t help thinking that other poets and readers would benefit by this type of exchange. I, for one, would be happy to repeat the process. Granted, it could become an expensive habit — but what a great way to get acquainted and explore new poetic territory. Because, there are countless ways to arrive at poetry that works and strikes a chord, as long as honesty and integrity remain at the heart of the endeavor.

Book Exchange, Part 4
Book Exchange, Part 3
Book Exchange, Part 2
Book Exchange, Part 1


4.14.2009 #2
4.14.2009 #1


Long Time to Know


It took him a long time to know
that was a lullaby those trees were singing

but by then the bells were ringing
and they said “Time for him to go!”

And the hearse at the curb
was the blackest thing he’d ever seen

even though those eyes of his
were closed

those eyes of his
were closed.

(first publication)


Recently Linked: My thanks to Kevin McCollister for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. Kevin is an excellent photographer long engaged in “photographing L.A. — all of it.” Much of his work can be viewed at his blog, The Jimson Weed Gazette, which I’ve also linked to in the “Reading Room.” Be sure also to visit his main website, East of West LA.

Updates:
“A Long Time to Know” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: the art of black-and-white.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nine Times Nine


Words, attended by spirits; meanings, the province of ghosts.

4.13.2009 #2
4.13.2009 #1


Great-grandpa Lars


If I had a hat with a wide black brim, I’d remind myself of him.

(first publication)

Note: My father’s aunt on his mother’s side was the first to notice: many years ago, when examining the large oval portrait of my mother’s father’s family, she exclaimed, “It’s Bill.” And sure enough the resemblance was there, though none of us had noticed it before. The photograph was made about 1900, when my Swedish great-grandfather was in his early fifties. His hair is short, and he has a long goatee. The eyes and eyebrows are unmistakable. I was in my upper-twenties; my hair was also short. Now that I’m about the age he was in the portrait, I hardly look like him at all. We have other pictures of Lars, taken many years later on his little farm near Kingsburg, California. When he was older, he had a huge shaggy mustache. In one photograph he’s dressed in black and is wearing a large black hat with a wide brim. For years I’ve thought I wouldn’t mind looking like he did then if I live that long. Feature-wise, though, I don’t seem to be headed in that direction. I seem more on my way to becoming an Armenian-Swedish Walt Whitman. And the poetry is just as strange.


Updates:
“Great-Grandpa Lars” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: Kevin McCollister’s The Jimson Weed Gazette.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Short Poem for Spring


The first rose — so red
even the light is surprised

and you are humming
as I follow you

through the room.

From Collected Poems. Also published May 11, 2008, in the Armenian Poetry Project.


Recently Linked: My thanks to the author of U and My Future for linking to the title page of my Early Short Stories. U and My Future is a bilingual (Farsi-English) blog that focuses on learning English, teaching, and translation.

Update:
In the Forum: Bukowski’s Run With the Hunted and Post Office.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Book Exchange, Part 4


Gary B. Fitzgerald’s two books, Softwood and Hardwood, aren’t journals in the conventional sense, but to a large degree they serve that purpose. His poems are direct, quiet, and reflective. They are conversational and down to earth. Together, they form the kind of record I think many of us wish our fathers and brothers had left behind, or perhaps would still if they knew how. In both books, the inner and natural worlds are intertwined. When the poet holds up a flower, that flower also acts as a mirror. Animals, trees, thorns, streams, and stars — they are all related somehow to love, loss, kinship, triumph, and regret. Lovely.


      Animals

      When I worked at the zoo I noticed
      how some animals would fight to escape,
      tearing and scratching at chain link or stone,
      desperate to find freedom some way.
      Others were perfectly happy
      to be fed every day.

                                                — Hardwood

Book Exchange, Part 3
Book Exchange, Part 2
Book Exchange, Part 1



Recently Linked: A friendly welcome to Nazia Mallick, of New Delhi, India, who has signed on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. Nazia is the author of three blogs. You can read more about her here.

Updates:
Journal entry for April 10 added to Volume 23 of Songs and Letters.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Four Short Poems by Langston Hughes


Final Curve

When you turn the corner
And you run into yourself
Then you know that you have turned
All the corners that are left.


Homecoming

I went back in the alley
And I opened up my door.
All her clothes was gone:
She wasn’t home no more.

I pulled back the covers,
I made down the bed.
A whole lot of room
Was the only thing I had.


One

Lonely
As the wind
On the Lincoln
Prairies.

Lonely
As a bottle of licker
On a table
All by itself.


Suicide’s Note

The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.


From Selected Poems of Langston Hughes. Drawings by E. McKnight Kauffer. Alfred A Knopf. Published March 23, 1959. Reprinted sixteen times. Eighteenth Printing, September 1989. Hardcover. 297 pages. $1.50


Publisher’s Note

This book contains a selection of the poems of Langston Hughes chosen by himself from his earlier volumes:
The Weary Blues; Fine Clothes to the Jew; Shakespeare in Harlem; Fields of Wonder; One-way Ticket; Montage of a Dream Deferred, and from the privately printed limited edition Dear Lovely Death, together with a number of new poems published here for the first time in book form, some never before anywhere. The drawings by
E. McKnight Kauffer previously appeared in
Shakespeare in Harlem.


Updates:
In the Forum: “a place of cruelty & surprising tenderness.”

Journal entry for April 9 added to Volume 23 of Songs and Letters.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Book Exchange, Part 3


As I do so often when I read, I’ve been reading Brian Salchert’s chapbook, January 1976, aloud. All the better, I think, to hear the music in passages like these, from “January 20th” and “January 14th”:


      Scraping snow from my van’s windows, I found
      a “Hi!” in some, & softly chuckled. Still,
      I’d wanted to cruise Milwaukee the night
      before; but the drifting winds kept me bound,
      furious, and out of care, trying to fill
      a dead time—writing, reading, in a poor light.


      * * *

      Remember—remember only good times,
      exploring their crevices, their soft heights;
      and dream those dreams that make you smile inside
      as a poet does when he tees his rhymes
      to zero them for vicarious sights
      he rarely governs, hoping they abide.

Brian tells me that some of the poems in January 1976 have been revised, and that I can find the latest versions on his website. I have not yet read them, but owing to the strength of the originals, I am inclined to think of the revisions as different poems.

Book Exchange, Part 2
Book Exchange, Part 1



Recently Linked:
My thanks to Isabelle for linking to Recently Banned Literature and Poems, Slightly Used from the other folk page of her blog, Letters to Ed. It’s greatly appreciated. A link to her blog can also be found in the “Reading Room.”

Update:
In the Forum: a face to admire.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

History


It was my book. I had written it. And yet at that moment, holding it in my hand and reading the poems inside, it struck me as history, the strange sad story of a time dead and gone. Maybe it was because I was alone in my mother’s home. Maybe it was because I had written so many of the poems while she slept in the other room. And yet I also knew, by instinct if nothing else, that I had moved on. I felt as if I’d had a coat of paint and my termites killed.

4.8.2009 #5
4.8.2009 #4
4.8.2009 #3
4.8.2009 #2
4.8.2009 #1


Go Back and Say Yes


Go back and say yes
and then wait

               no

Go back and say yes
and then wait

               no

Go back and say yes
go back and say yes

or don’t

go back

               at all

(first publication)

Note: This lyric, or whatever it is, popped into my head while I was putting on my socks. Insignificant at best, but I thought I’d write it down.


Update:
“Go Back and Say Yes” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

4.8.2009 #4
4.8.2009 #3
4.8.2009 #2
4.8.2009 #1


Charles Bukowski


Charles Bukowski
April 8, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card


4.8.2009 #3
4.8.2009 #2
4.8.2009 #1


San Francisco


Last night my wife dreamed our son was home. Quite possibly, at that moment, he was.

Note: This is the second journal entry for April 8 added to Volume 23 of Songs and Letters.

4.8.2009 #2
4.8.2009 #1


A New Library of Poetry and Song


Recently Acquired:

A New Library of Poetry and Song, edited by William Cullen Bryant with his review of poets and poetry from the time of Chaucer. Revised and enlarged with recent authors, and containing a dictionary of poetical quotations. Pictorial and portrait illustrations. New York: The Baker Taylor Company. Copyright, in 1870 and 1877, by J.B. Ford and Company. In 1880, 1886, 1895, and 1900, by Fords, Howard, and Hulbert. The Greenwich Printing Co., New York.

The book includes a Publishers’ Preface (New York, 1900); a Classification of Poems and Fragments; a list of Illustrations which in turn includes Full Page Portraits, Homes of Poets, With Poems by Recent Authors, and Manuscript and Autograph Fac-Similes; “Poets and Poetry of the English Language (Mr. Bryant’s introduction to the first edition); an Index of Authors and Titles; an Index of Titles; an Index of First Lines; and an Analytical Index of Famous and Apt Poetical Quotations.

Hardcover. 1,100 pages. $2.00.

From the Introduction:

...It should be considered, moreover, that in poetry, as in painting, different artists have different modes of presenting their conceptions, each of which may possess its peculiar merit, yet those whose taste is formed by contemplating the productions of one class take little pleasure in any other....

...While speaking of these changes in the public taste, I am tempted to caution the reader against the mistake often made of estimating the merit of one poet by the too easy process of comparing him with another....

...There is no poet, indeed no author in any department of literature, who can be taken as a standard in judging others; the true standard is an ideal one, and even this is not the same in all men’s minds....



Updates:
This entry added to And I Quote.

April 8 journal entry added to Volume 23 of Songs and Letters.

In the Forum: a Saroyan snippet of Bukowski’s “We, the Artists—”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Everywhere I Go


If my poems get much shorter, they might disappear altogether. Or are they getting longer despite their brevity?

Everywhere I go, I find places words have been.

Yesterday I received a link to thirty-one pictures taken during and after a funeral in my old hometown. The email message also contains photographs of three graves of other classmates who died young, including that of a dear friend I’ve written about many times. I first visited his grave on a blistering hot day back in the summer of 1974, about three months after his death from cancer at the age of eighteen. The last time I went, I couldn’t find it. I thought it rather odd, until I heard him laughing. Rascal. And now, twenty-five years later, here it is again, right where it should be, the little oval image of him in his goatee and wig bleached by the San Joaquin Valley sun.

Looking at the faces of the people in these pictures — the suicide’s parents, sisters, and friends — reminds me that a few of my own dreams are buried out there in that little hillside cemetery. But if I went back, I probably wouldn’t be able to find them either. I’m not even sure I’d want to. Some, like these people I once knew, I might scarcely recognize. Others would reach out and grab me by the throat.

Love, hate, indifference. Everywhere I go, I find places words have been.

And if my life gets much shorter, it might disappear altogether.


Update:
April 7 journal entry added to Volume 23 of Songs and Letters.

4.7.2009 #2
4.7.2009 #1


Dream


The rain burned his hand. “Love,” he said, upon waking.

(first publication)


Updates:
“Dream” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

April 6 journal entry added to Volume 23 of Songs and Letters.

As the Conversation continues, we consider the possibility of index entries with musical accompaniment.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I’ll call you tomorrow when I get somewhere


This is the fourth entry in the journal I’ve been keeping since my youngest son left for San Francisco and other points unknown:

April 5, 2009 — That somewhere was Florence, but it wasn’t a bus ride that got him there. After a night in the mission and his trip back to Eugene, he was told that the Saturday bus to Florence wouldn’t be leaving until five-thirty in the afternoon. Since Greyhound had shipped his luggage back to Eugene, he decided to hitchhike instead. After walking about an hour and a half he reached the west side of town. Then he stuck out his thumb and was picked up within a few minutes by someone headed to the coast for a day of clamming. He sounded tired. After walking the streets of Roseburg for several hours the previous day and visiting the local library, he endured a religious “session” before the mission served dinner. He said the woman who led it “was out of her mind.” He also said the weight of his backpack is ridiculous — a fact I had mentioned the night before he left. Well — in life, one of our most important missions is to see just how much we can do without. We are all travelers. He is learning. So am I. I am learning that having a son out wandering the world is a lonely, strange, and inspiring thing. His mother worries about him, of course, and the fact that he has almost no money. And my mind seeks him in a different dimension. I miss his music. I understand his quest.

Added yesterday to Songs and Letters.


Elsewhere: My thanks to Lola Koundakjian for including my poem, “Desire,” in the Armenian Poetry Project.

Update:
In the Forum: reasonable expectations.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mission


A cigarette with a stranger is like a name between friends.

(first publication)


Recently Linked: My thanks to Brian Salchert for including
“The Age of Us All,” a poem of mine from Another Song I Know,
in this entry of his ruminations blog, Kyphotic Hermit.

Update:
“Mission” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Another journal entry added to Volume 23 of Songs and Letters.

In the Forum, we take a deep breath and start a new page.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dimples


Dimples
April 4, 2009


Note: At first I tried to ignore the dimples in this index card. Then I decided to emphasize them. The only one that might not be plain is on the bridge of his nose.

(click to enlarge)

4.4.2009 #2
4.4.2009 #1


Between Rides


Coins, arguing in his pocket. “Just keep walking,” he thought.

(first publication)


Updates:
“Between Rides” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Depot


Alone is a precipice, and Greyhound is a sad and funny word.

(first publication)


Updates:
“Depot” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

The first two entries in a new journal, Alone is a Precipice, added to Songs and Letters.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Note


          “It tastes like fire.”

4.2.2009 #2
4.2.2009 #1


English Literature, The Eighteenth Century


Recently Acquired:
English Literature
The Eighteenth Century

Edited by Joseph P. Blickensderfer
Charles Scribner’s Sons (1929, 1957)

Paper. 511 pages. $1.50.

Sometimes I forget to check the vintage paperback section when I visit the Friends bookstore at the local library. This time, though, I didn’t, because the narrow passageway to the literature and poetry section was blocked off by a seated volunteer who seemed too deeply engrossed in her work to disturb.

The entire vintage paperback section fits on a small portable shelf in the far corner of the store. All of the books, it seems, are priced at a dollar-fifty. Subject matter varies. This particular volume is solid and weighs more than one would expect. A nice map with tiny print occupies the first two pages. I can just make out some of the names of castles and isles, channels, bays, and moors with my $7.99 pair of “cheaters.” I could probably read more of them if I switched to my regular bifocals, but those are less comfortable when I’m working at the computer.

The book includes an introduction by the editor. “The stream of English literature flows on without convenient breaks at centuries to make easy and obvious the work of historians,” Mr. Blickensderfer begins. And in the second paragraph, he says, “The philosophy of the period is dominated by the rationalism of Locke. He taught that man thinks by comparing his experiences, and abstracting characteristic qualities to serve as ideas of them. These ideas he combines into propositions, and from them derives more general ideas, thus ascending the pyramid of reasoning as far as his finite mind will carry him.” I could quote more of the introduction, but the fact is, I left school early on when I did for a reason. I said to myself then, “Get away from these blasted introductions, man, before you start sounding like them.”

The book contains work by the following authors:

Joseph Addison, Mark Akenside, James Boswell, Thomas Chatteron, William Collins, Daniel Defoe, John Dyer, John Gay, Oliver Goldsmith, Thomas Gray, Richard Hurd, Samuel Johnson, James Macpherson, Bernard Mandeville, Thomas Parnell, John Pomfret, Alexander Pope, William Shenstone, Philip Stanhope, Richard Steele, Jonathan Swift, James Thomson, Joseph Warton, Thomas Warton, Edward Young.

It also contains a section of Notes, an Index of Authors, an Index of Titles, and an Index of First Lines of Poems. Okay — time to change glasses.


Updates:
This entry, sans image, added to And I Quote.

As the Conversation continues, I detect a hint of sarcasm.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Exchange, Part 2


Late this afternoon after running some errands in the wind and rain with my son, I was pleased to come home and find the envelope containing Brian Salchert’s chapbook of thirty-one sonnets, January 1976, in the mailbox. Its journey from Missouri to Oregon took only two days.

Brian’s chapbook is part of the book exchange I mentioned earlier today. In return, I sent him my book of short poems, Another Song I Know.

January 1976
, published 1977. Cover design by Neil Engelbrecht.*

* Then again, apparently not. See comments beneath this post.

4.1.2009 #2
4.1.2009 #1


Book Exchange


I’m looking forward to reading the two books of poetry I just received from Gary B. Fitzgerald as part of a three-way book exchange that includes Brian Salchert. I suggested the idea a couple of weeks ago during a pleasant exchange of comments following Brian’s post, “This Is About Who Cares.” Gary and Brian were both nice enough to agree.

The books Gary sent me are Softwood and Hardwood, both published last fall. In exchange, he is saddled with my Winter Poems and Another Song I Know, cover images of which wink in my sidebar like demented stars.

Three kids, trading sandwiches during their lunch hour.


Update:
In the Forum: The truth is finally out. I’m an obsessive nut and a glutton for punishment.