Sunday, August 31, 2008

Not Dying

“A writer is likely to make a fool of himself by trying for more, but I think it’s worth it, and I haven’t been afraid of making a fool of myself. You can’t avoid making a fool of yourself to some extent in any case, no matter what you write, or how you write it. If you’re afraid of that, you’d better think twice about wanting to be a writer.”

From Not Dying, by William Saroyan, born on this day in 1908.

To read my short review of Not Dying, go to this page and scroll down to the third entry.

Image: dust jacket for the back cover of Not Dying, Harcourt, Brace & World, New York (1963); photo of Saroyan by Jim Marshall (click to enlarge).

Note: To see a Saroyan watercolor from 1963, go here.

Update: “An Absurdist Play,” first published in this blog here, added to Collected Poems.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Antonio Magliabecchi

Yesterday, I added the following note on “magliabecchi” to You Don’t Say:

magliabecchi. A book-worm; from Antonio Magliabecchi (1633-1714), librarian to Cosmo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. He never forgot what he had once read, and could turn at once to the exact page of any reference.

This led me to consult the Wikipedia article on the “famous librarian, scholar and bibliophile,” part of which reads,

“In worldly matters Magliabecchi was extremely negligent. Reputedly, he once even forgot to draw his salary for over a year. He wore his clothes until they fell from him, and thought it a great waste of time to undress at night, ‘life being so short and books so plentiful.’ He welcomed all inquiring scholars, provided they did not disturb him while at work. He had a hearty dislike for Jesuits. The story goes that one day in pointing out the Palazzo Riccardi to a stranger he said, ‘Here the new birth of learning took place,’ and then turning to the college of the Jesuits, ‘There they have come back to bury it.’

“Stories about Magliabecchi abound. Apparently, he was a man of a most forbidding and savage aspect, and exceedingly negligent of his person. He refused to be waited upon. His dinner was commonly three hard eggs, with a draught of water. He had a small window in his door, through which he could see all those who approached him; and if he did not wish for their company, he would not admit them. He spent some hours in each day at the palace library; but is said never in his life to have gone farther from Florence than to Prato, whither he once accompanied Cardinal Norris to see a manuscript.”

Image: Antonio Magliabecchi (click to enlarge).

In the Forum: a study on studies leads to a vast system of cubbyholes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sleep at the Asylum

Sleep is the ocean, and the ocean is full of sharks. The sharks open their mouths and swallow the ocean. But the ocean wants to be swallowed. It wants to be known to the sharks in this way. It wants to be remembered by them. Sleep is the ocean, and when they open your door, the ocean empties out onto the plain and laps up against the other doors with the great thudding of sharks, the bumping of their heads against tarnished steel, and the sound is loud and long and dearly familiar, like Fate pounding her drum.

From Songs and Letters, originally published November 2, 2007.

Note: “Sleep at the Asylum” is one of twenty “Asylum Poems” that comprise Volume 15.

* * *

A light bulb shatters. The backs of strangers, scurrying away like rats. A broom in my hand, dawn, the soup-stained floor of someone else’s kitchen . . .

Added yesterday to Annandale Dream Gazette.

Some books are lies frae end to end . . . The Burns Glossary: all eleven lines beginning with the letter S added to the Index of First Lines.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Twice Removed

What if people in photographs awakened,
moved slowly, blinked their eyes,
never realized they had been
caught by the lens?

Someone dead for years,
his back now turned, walking away . . .

an old friend, hands on the frame,
trying hard to remember the question
he was about to ask . . .

and then there is this photo,
in which the subject does not move at all . . .

the one someone took of you . . .

From Songs and Letters, originally published August 27, 2008.

In the Forum: a proposal to write a proposal to do a study on studies.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pablo Neruda on Julio Cortázar

“Anyone who doesn’t read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a grave invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who had never tasted peaches. He would be quietly getting sadder, noticeably paler, and probably little by little, he would lose his hair. I don’t want those things to happen to me, and so I greedily devour all the fabrications, myths, contradictions, and mortal games of the great Julio Cortázar.”

Pablo Neruda on Julio Cortázar, from the August 26 installment of the daily newsletter I receive from Today in Literature.

Image: Julio Cortázar (click to enlarge).

O, Willie brewed a peck o’ malt . . . The Burns Glossary: the last nine lines beginning with the letter O added to the Index of First Lines.

An amusing bumper sticker added to Useless Information.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An Absurdist Play

This poem is a pretty fair description of how my day went yesterday. I did leave out the blown head-gasket in my son’s car, and the free coffee I spilled on myself in a grocery store mezzanine while chatting with a friend I hadn’t seen in a year. The title was given to me several days ago when, upon saying something impossible and ridiculous in a straightforward tone to my son (a frequent occurrence), he said, “Living with you is like being in an absurdist play.” A compliment, for sure, and one I’ve been trying to live up to ever since.

An Absurdist Play

The stage isn’t really a stage;
but then again the sky isn’t the sky either,
unless there happens to be a light rain falling,
dripping from a pine or from the edge
of a tall gray building.

Dawn, or at least a suggestion of it.

Reminder: Talk to the person who handles the lighting.

The cast consists of two characters,
who for the entire play alternate between
looking skyward and exchanging helpless glances;
their expressions might indicate the end of the world,
or perhaps the arrival of a space ship,
or, if they happen to be farmers,
concern over the weather.

Note: The actors are to have complete latitude in what,
if anything, their expressions indicate, the type and number
of emotions they wish to convey or feel helpless to prevent;
also, the play can be of any length; it can take a lifetime,
if necessary.

Periodically, someone sleeping in the next room
is awakened by the sound of people laughing;
he looks up and sees how early in the day it is;
the audience is also with him in the room;
poor souls — they would be free to leave,
if there were any exits.


Possibly related link: Theatre of the Absurd.

News and Reviews: updated links in a note that mentions an entry about Richard Brautigan’s novel, Dreaming of Babylon, in a Farsi-language blog that included my drawing of Richard Brautigan.

As the Conversation continues, some words are better when they’re misspelled.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Asemic Writing

Interesting. First I dream* about a book with tiny print that I can read but can’t understand. Then, a couple of days later, chance and a reminder by Brian Salchert lead me to a page on Asemic Writing. I don’t mean to say that the text in my dream looked anything like the adjacent excerpt by Henri Michaux (click to enlarge); then again, there is this entry that I read in Joseph Hutichson’s blog a few days before my dream — another coincidence, of course, as is the name Michaux being derived from “Michael,” which was my great-grandfather’s first name and the source of my last.

*also included in the Annandale Dream Gazette (see Aug. 24 entry).

The Burns Glossary: nine more lines beginning with the letter O added to the Index of First Lines.

In the Forum: by some strange miracle, we are talking about books again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Welsh folk poem

My heart moves as heavy as the horse that climbs the hill,
And I can’t for my dear life pretend to be happy.
You know nothing of the place on which my shoe is pinching,
And many, many troubled thoughts are quite breaking my heart.

Welsh folk poem, translated by Menna Gallie, from Eight Lines and Under, An Anthology of Short, Short Poems, edited by William Cole, The Macmillan Company, New York (1967, third printing 1968).

“Dreaming of Books” is the newest entry in Songs and Letters.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Twenty-third Day of August

The following entries from One Hand Clapping, a daily journal in two volumes, contain a small portion of what I was thinking on the twenty-third day of August in the years 2003 and 2004:

August 23, 2003 — It’s an inspiring fall morning, with a low temperature of fifty degrees or a little less — the kind of morning that makes me want to jump and shout and take off on my bicycle for another grand tour of the world. What will I find? Bugs; worms; slug tracks; dead birds with their little feet in the air; the first fallen leaves; cracks in the sidewalk full of ants; cherry pits; dandelions; acorns dropped by birds; discarded gum wrappers, cigarette butts, and sports cards; and a thousand other miscellaneous items, feelings, and perceptions. Days like today aren’t meant for writing — ask any kid whose mind hasn’t been completely destroyed by television. They are meant to be lived, and then written about later — or not written about, but remembered — or not remembered, but recorded on our faces. Not that writing isn’t living. Writing is an intense form of living. It is also a way of life — a foolish, unrealistic way, perhaps, but a way nonetheless. A way for those not encumbered by common sense. A way for those whose largest burdens are self-made and unnecessary. A way that keeps one’s demons, if not at bay, at least distracted and entertained.

August 23, 2004 — So much for The Great Gatsby. My general feeling is that it’s a competently written short novel that is really nothing more than a long short story that could have been a shorter one. I hope I will be forgiven for saying the book is not great literature, or even particularly memorable, but if I’m not, I’m not, and I will do my best to carry on. Great literature is great because it transforms the outlook and understanding of its characters and its readers. Gatsby does neither. Fitzgerald’s people become upset when something distracts them from their superficial lives, but there is no reason to think they have undergone, or ever will undergo, a profound change in their thinking. Did I miss something? Probably so. To be sure, the author turned an elegant phrase. And he was obviously no dummy. But the fact remains, he didn’t push his characters far enough. He relied too heavily on his eloquence, and hoped his clever observations would carry the day. And they almost did. The wine, old sport, was served in beautiful glasses, but the taste was a bit disappointing.

Image: The Twenty-third Day of August, #2 pencil on plain white printer paper, August 23, 2008 (click to enlarge).

O merry hae I been teethin’ a heckle . . . The Burns Glossary: sixteen first lines beginning with the letter O added to the Index of First Lines.

Mention of the Annandale Dream Gazette and related links added to News and Reviews.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Love Letter to the Universe

My mother always says, “To get a letter, write a letter.” For this letter-titled poem, written and added to my website over a year ago and graciously published this morning by Lola Koundakjian in her Armenian Poetry Project, I have already received numerous answers. The universe is kind; I expect more. Many more.

Thanks, also, to Lynn Behrendt for adding another of my dreams to the Annandale Dream Gazette (see August 21 entry).

Another short poem, “August Rain, Day 2,” added to Songs and Letters.

As the impromptu dentistry continues, we venture into pogonology.

For good measure, the 1924 Webster’s definition of pogonology is added to You Don’t Say.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Out of Context

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.

When I read this quote from Blaise Pascal’s The Provincial Letters a couple of days ago in the newsletter I receive from Today in Literature, I knew I wanted to pass it along, out of context and in all its wise and clever glory.

On a Berkeley book-buying trip about twenty-five years ago, I paid $1.95 for a used copy of the 1941 Modern Library edition of Pascal’s Pensées (trans. W.F. Trotter) and The Provincial Letters (trans. Thomas M’Crie). I read quite a bit of it, too — and yet now, I remember so little that I might as well not have read it at all. Perhaps if I had studied it . . .

Paging through the book now, I find tidbits such as,

Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness.


The power of flies; they win battles, hinder our soul from acting, eat our body.


[Chance gives rise to thoughts, and chance removes them; no art can keep or acquire them. // A thought has escaped me. I wanted to write it down. I write instead that it has escaped me.]

All are from Pensées, Section VI, “The Philosophers,” and also given out of context. In a broader sense, of course, nothing is out of context. Hmm . . . I wonder what I mean by that?

Related links:
Blaise Pascal
The Provincial Letters
Thomas M’Crie

Image: Pascal studying the cycloid, by Augustin Pajou, 1785, Louvre.

A new haiku, “August Rain,” added to Songs and Letters.

The Burns Glossary: the first lines beginning with the letter N added to the Index of First Lines.

In the Forum: the sacrifices we make for “literature.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Another book I picked up Sunday at Goodwill is One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez. The author’s association with Magical Realism reminded me of a poem I wrote about six months ago and added to Collected Poems. It also appeared in the February 28, 2008, installment of the Armenian Poetry Project. I’ll include it here:

Magical Realism (First Prize)

Just as this photograph was taken,
the agile subject leapt inside the camera,
burned a village, took a bride, sired a son,
emerged naked through the view finder,
and bit the photographer’s nose.

Adjoining Negative
Subject apprehensive, wearing a suit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hire Idiots to Paint

Sunday afternoon at Goodwill, I invested ninety-nine cents in a copy of The Essential Blake (The Ecco Press, 1987). The 100-page paperback contains work by William Blake selected by Stanley Kunitz. Here are three short passages that caught my eye while I was still in the store, from a section near the back called “A Blake Miscellany”:

Degrade first the Arts if you’d Mankind Degrade.
Hire Idiots to Paint with cold light & hot shade:
Give high Price for the worst, leave the best in disgrace,
And with Labours of Ignorance fill every place.

* * *

The Poet’s Motto

I must Create a System or be enslav’d by another Man’s.
I will not Reason and Compare: my business is to Create.

* * *

Do what you will, this Life’s a Fiction
And is made up of Contradiction.

A new short poem, “Still Life,” added to Songs and Letters.

The Burns Glossary: the first lines beginning with the letter M added to the Index of First Lines.

As the Conversation continues, the “dentistry” of Dr. Farrago is called into question.

Monday, August 18, 2008


It has been so hot the past few days. Could that be why
I dreamed last night that my wife and I were in San Francisco,
and that she was carrying a beautiful bunch of flowers?

We came to a door: Not again, I said. Not this door.
But in we went, through the rear entrance of a dry-cleaning shop,
which led past piles of laundry to a long escalator in an airport.

Up with our flowers . . . to a panoramic window framed
by a narrow walkway, where travelers were trying frantically
to keep their balance and not fall over the railing.

Poor souls . . . they did not have flowers . . .

From Songs and Letters, originally published August 17, 2008.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Annandale Dream Gazette

I’m hoping readers will investigate the Annandale Dream Gazette, which is also linked under Sites & Blogs as “Poets’ Blog of Dreams.” The publication’s premise can be found here.

Early yesterday morning, I mentioned that Lynn Behrendt had kindly posted my dream images from the night before; this was followed by another, more sequentially complete dream episode an hour or so later.

While it takes a little time to write these out, I have actually been doing so for several years. Many are included in my Songs and Letters. They vary in form; To My Father After a Dream and Lemon Sun, Pomegranate Blood are two examples. All, to me, are a valuable part of the record.

Image: Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. Gustave Doré illustration for the 1884 edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” (Click to enlarge.)

Last May a braw wooer cam down the long glen . . . The Burns Glossary: the first lines beginning with the letters J, K, and L added to the Index of First Lines.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Didi Menendez Dreams in Color

She must — not just because
of the way she paints,
but because
of the

And there’s more — much more.

* * *

Speaking of dreams, my patchwork of images from a hot, restless night was added yesterday to the Annandale Dream Gazette. Thanks, as always, to Lynn Behrendt. To read all of my dream entries in one fell swoop, go here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

August Days

A special thanks to Lola Koundakjian, founder and curator of the Armenian Poetry Project, for publishing my poem, “August Days,” in today’s installment of her blog.

The Armenian Poetry Project was launched in 2006. Since then, Lola has worked tirelessly to find and publish hundreds of poems in Armenian, English, and French, blending historical and contemporary work. Each Saturday, she presents a recorded episode along with the text version of the day’s poem.

To hear Lola reading another of my poems, “The Fall of the Ten Thousand,” go here.

Image: Armenian illuminated manuscript; a page from the Mugni Gospels, (ca. 1060).

A new short poem, “Planting Time,” added to Songs and Letters.

The Burns Glossary: the first lines beginning with the letter I added to the Index of First Lines.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Haiku Notebook

Bountiful garden,
I agree with your judgment
of that silly fence.

                         Japanese neighbor,
                         old man leaning on a hoe,
                         brave captain, sinking.

These are wise old trees —
their meaning is greater than
the sum of their leaves.

A new short poem, “Nightmare,” added to Songs and Letters.
“An Experiment in Public Art” is the title of a new Notebook entry.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eight Lines and Under

Here are three more poems from Eight Lines and Under, a nice little hardcover I picked up the other day at a used bookstore. The first two, by Hugh MacDiarmid and Thomas Lovell Beddoes, are from Section V, “Here dead lie we . . .” The third, by the book’s editor William Cole (I think that’s the right link; corrections welcome), is from Section VII, “. . . into the daily accident.”

At My Father’s Grave

The sunlicht still on me, you row’d in clood,
We look upon each ither noo like hills
Across a valley. I’m nae mair your son.
In my mind, nae son o’ yours, that looks,
And the great darkness o’ your death comes up
And equals it across the way.
A livin’ man upon a deid man thinks
And ony sma’er thocht’s impossible.

                                   — Hugh MacDiarmid


Bury him deep. So damned a work should lie
Nearer the Devil than man. Make him a bed
Beneath some lock-jawed hell, that never yawns
With earthquake or eruption; and so deep
That he may hear the devil and his wife
In bed, talking secrets.

                                   — Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Time Piece

Take the back off the watch
and see that universe of small parts,
bobbing and turning,
each doing what it should be doing,
and ignoring you completely.

                                   — William Cole

Image: A bust of Hugh MacDiarmid in South Gyle, Edinburgh.

The Burns Glossary: the first lines beginning with the letter H added to the Index of First Lines.

In the Forum: After a long and fretful absence, Dr. Farrago returns.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Making Stew

I’m making stew today.
I just checked on its progress.
Inhaling as I stirred,
I thought,

Stew sustains. A poem must do the same.

Written and added to Songs and Letters, August 12, 2008.

To Be a Crow This August Morning

To be a crow this August morning,
calling out, in no need of reply.

To be a barking dog who’s lost his mind.

To be a tree and feel it in every leaf,
or a field of fully ripened wheat.

To sail with the half-moon,
and meet you on the other side.

To be a door that opens,
or a flower, when someone dies.

From Songs and Letters, originally published August 11, 2008.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Haiku in English

Saturday afternoon, I picked up a used copy of Harold G. Henderson’s Haiku in English (Japan Society, 44 pages, saddle-stitched, 1965). I was just beginning to read it early yesterday morning when the heavenly aroma of my wife’s baking inspired the following haiku:

          Pie in the oven . . .
          I hear ghosts in the kitchen,
          in from summer play.

According to the “general rule” of classical Japanese Haiku on Page 3, a haiku consists of seventeen syllables (5-7-5); contains at least some reference to nature (other than human nature); refers to a particular event (i.e., it is not a generalization); and presents that event as happening now — not in the past. Well — so far so good, I guess.

The Burns Glossary: the first lines beginning with the letters F and G added to the Index of First Lines.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jorge Carrera Andrade: Walnut

Walnut: compressed wisdom,
Tiny vegetable turtle,
Brain of an elf
Paralyzed for eternity.

By Jorge Carrera Andrade, translated from the Spanish by Philip Silver, from Eight Lines and Under, An Anthology of Short, Short Poems, edited by William Cole, The Macmillan Company, New York (1967, third printing 1968).

Note: Another of my dreams has been added to Lynn Behrendt’s Annandale Dream Gazette. That makes four in all.

As the Conversation continues, life is influenced by literature, sort of.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Yesterday, while paging through my old copy of The Reader’s Encylopedia, I noticed the following entry on Hurlothrumbo. It’s now part of You Don’t Say.

Hurlothrumbo. A burlesque opera, which in 1729-1730 had an extraordinary run at the Haymarket theater. So great was its popularity that a club called “The Hurlothrumbo Society” was formed. The author was Samuel Johnson (1691-1773), a half-mad dancing master, who put this motto on the title-page when the burlesque was printed:

     Ye sons of fire, read my Hurlothrumbo,
     Turn it betwixt your finger and your thumbo,
     And being quite undone, be quite struck dumbo.

For notes on the life and burial place of Samuel “Maggoty” Johnson, go here. (Includes several photos.)

The Burns Glossary: the first lines beginning with the letters C, D, and E added to the Index of First Lines.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Between Poems

The distance between poems
is like the distance between stars:
a voyage uncharted
and unknown.

I can live and die a thousand times
while still in sight of shore.

Beauty is the future
I imagine.

Further out, truth is a storm:
it tears the rudder from my hands.

I hear voices in the dark:
they echo across a sea of meaning.

From Songs and Letters, originally published November 27, 2006.

Image: Between Poems, #2 pencil on plain white printer paper, August 8, 2008 (click to enlarge).

Update: In the Forum: yet another odd chapbook in the making.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


          Sleeping baby boy,
          dandelion wish drifts past
          your open window.

Haiku from Songs and Letters, originally published August 6, 2008.

Burns Glossary: the five first lines beginning with the letter B added to the Index of First Lines.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Burns Encyclopedia

From Maurice Lindsay’s introduction to
The Burns Encyclopedia, an interesting and useful Robert Burns reference volume:

“The book was, and is, designed to be of interest in several ways. First and foremost, of course, it is meant to provide a handrail for the ordinary reader of Burns anxious to explore the temper of the age in which the poet lived and wrote. In the second place, it is designed to attract readers interested in eighteenth-century Scotland, for whom the approach may well be that of anthology-taster, browsing and savoring for leisure and pleasure. Those who find themselves periodically forced to their feet, by custom dubious and strange, to deliver Burns Supper orations should find it a convenient quarry.”

Image: Robert Burns by Alexander Reid. “The best likeness of me ever taken,” wrote Burns in January 1796.

A new haiku, “Lincoln Memorial,” added to Songs and Letters.

A’ ye wha live by sowps o’ drink . . . All twelve first lines beginning with the letter A launch the Index of First Lines in the recently completed Burns Glossary.

As the Conversation continues, we uncover some fascinating facts about real-life tumbleweeds.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The People, Yes

My mother’s father was a Swede from Illinois, born there in a town called Woodhull in 1878, had his jaw busted by a kicking horse, might or might not have known the poet Carl Sandburg who was born that same year, though some family members claimed they were related. Sandburg wrote a poem called The People, Yes. In one part of it he said, “The people will live on. The learning and blundering people will live on. They will be tricked and sold and again sold and go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds.” Sandburg was big on the people, thought big poetic American thoughts that led him to worship Abraham Lincoln in a way that would occupy a huge amount of his time, and which might have embarrassed the great dead president.

My grandfather was one of the people. I don’t know how many times he was tricked and sold, but he was along for the ride during several famous wars and the Great Depression, moved West with his family when he was ten, learned to farm grapes in Central California near the white-ash river town of Kingsburg, loved his vineyard but couldn’t afford to keep his land, moved a few miles east to Dinuba, and was hired by the Alta Irrigation District, where he worked for years as a ditch tender.

This grandfather of mine was very popular with the farmers on his route, and had no trouble holding up his end of a conversation. He had lost his farm, but was still in his natural element. On his way home every afternoon, he stopped at Dad’s Smokehouse on Main Street in Dinuba to drink beer and catch up on the local gossip, which was seldom dramatic and for the most part entertaining. He never drank at home — chopped wood instead, smoked his pipe, listened to his four girls chatter while they combed each other’s hair, sat in his rocking chair by the radio, and ate whatever was put in front of him, all with a stable sense of pride and purpose that proved he was one of the people, yes, who had found a roothold in the nourishing earth.

I never knew my mother’s father. He was early, or I was late, by just two years. We never sat on a ditch bank and talked. I never saw him whittle or heard him sing — don’t know how he walked, or what he looked like when he dozed off in his chair. I would have loved to have watched him chew, and to have heard him blow his nose in the morning, and to have seen him after a bath wearing a fresh work shirt and the same old pair of pants held up by suspenders.

My grandfather slept on the porch during hot summer nights. He listened to the frogs and crickets, the shuffling of opossums and other nocturnal creatures, was enchanted by his neighbors’ soft lament. He remembered Woodhull, Kingsburg, his old vineyard, the sound of his mother’s and father’s voices, the train ride West, and a thousand other things he carried away with him at the end. Chances are, he never once thought of Carl Sandburg. He was too busy being one of the people, too busy knowing what he wished he didn’t know and being grateful for the privilege.

From Songs and Letters, originally published March 30, 2005.

Image: Tricked, Sold, and Again Sold, #2 pencil on plain white printer paper, August 4, 2008 (click to enlarge).

Note: A quick check in Wikipedia shows that Woodhull is situated in the southern part of Henry County, a stone’s throw from Galesburg in Knox County, where Carl Sandburg was born.

A simple soup recipe with leek, potato, celery, onion, and olive oil added to Let’s Eat, my “writer’s guide to cooking.”

Monday, August 4, 2008


          After many years,
          I make this discovery —
          cricket in my shoe.

Haiku from Songs and Letters, originally published August 3, 2008.

All twenty-three terms beginning with the letter Y added to the Burns Glossary. Next up: the Index of First Lines. Yell: dry, barren. As yell’s the bill: giving no more milk than the bull.

In the Forum: what happened to Sunflower and Miss Tumbleweed after the gunfight that killed State Fair and uprooted the Zinnia gang.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Teacher’s View

Paul L. Martin has posted a very thoughtful review of Another Song I Know and Winter Poems in his excellent blog, The Teacher’s View, a site I heartily recommend. A voracious reader and fine writer, Martin’s “insights and observations from the high school classroom on literature, culture, and the life of the mind” clearly show why his students are so lucky to work with him and pass through his influence. I appreciate his review.

Mention of the review added to News and Reviews; short excerpts added to Cosmopsis Print Editions.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Yesterday I added the following note on Gongorism to my “compendium of odd words and literary references,” better known as You Don’t Say:

Gongorism. Extremely stilted, artificial preciosity in the poetry of Spain in the 16th century; named from the Spanish poet Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561-1627). It was paralleled in Italy by Marinism, in France by the précieux movement, and in England by Euphuism, and in its later forms was called Cultism.

Note: Is this important? I don’t know. But I’m sure it was important to them. Also, the great Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was alive at that time. With his wicked sense of humor, I wonder what he thought about this. By any chance, did he know Luis de Góngora y Argote?

Image: Title page from the Chacón Manuscript (click to enlarge), a commentary on Luis de Góngora y Argote’s work written after his death.

Other updates:
Another haiku, “Inland Dream,” added to Songs and Letters.

Twenty-five words added to the Burns Glossary, thus finishing the W’s. Wintle: a staggering motion, a somersault. Wooer-babs: garters knotted below the knee in a couple of loops or love-knots.

Meanwhile, back at the Forum: High Noon, sunflower style.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Morning Walk

          Man, three chihuahuas,
          a fourth hugged against his chest —
          his own children grown.

Haiku from Songs and Letters, originally published July 31, 2008.

Definition: Boredom. n. Malady characterized by a blindness to miracles.

As the Conversation continues, a sunflower dies alone out West, in an old brick hotel, a losing game of Solitaire on the wash stand.