Monday, February 28, 2011

Indigenous Dialogues

With thanks to Zaina Anwar for sharing a wonderful photograph
and so many other inspiring poems, thoughts, and images.

And here is where the world began,
in cooling shade, in moss and fronds.

The worn out shoes, a mystery.
Some say God’s, but I have my doubts.

It seems they’ve been here all along,
pigeon-toed, size twelve, rained to pulp
in two fine leather faces.

No one dies when my mother cries,
but I dress well all the same, just in case,
and follow suit upon my knees
to please each seed
that sprouts.

An insect is a sign of truth.
I hear it sing, I hear it shout.

Library Notes: Added my grandmother’s 1946 edition of Gibran’s Jesus the Son of Man. Added editor, introduction, and illustration credits to The Complete Poems of Hart Crane under Other authors.

“Indigenous Dialogues” added to Poems, Slightly Used.
In the Forum: cosmopolitan hysterical unfairness.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Starry Night

Dear old face,
lined deep to harbor cookie crumbs.

All the mice and men
who’ve held you,



Library Notes: Added The Complete Poems of Hart Crane, The Franklin Library edition.

“Starry Night” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Robert Louis Stevenson, by the book

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Set published In New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons. Purchased at St. Vincent de Paul Store, Salem, Oregon, February 22, 2011, two dollars each. Asterisk indicates break in sequence. Bold indicates purchases made at the same location in October 2010.

Vol. I. New Arabian Nights. 1909. 385 pages.

*Vol. III. More New Arabian Nights. The Dynamiter. The Story of a Lie. 1909. 343 pages.

Vol. IV. Prince Otto. Island Nights’ Entertainments. Father Damien. 1909. 432 pages.

*Vol. IX. The Master of Ballantrae. 1909. 291 pages.

Vol. X. The Wrecker. 1909. 497 pages.

Vol. XI. The Wrong Box. The Ebb Tide. 1909. 395 pages.

Vol. XII. An Island Voyage. Travels with a Donkey. Edinburgh. 1909. 358 pages.

Vol. XIII. Virginibus Puerisque. Memories and Portraits. 1909. 358 pages.

Vol. XIV. Familiar Studies of Men and Books. Miscellaneous Papers. 1905. 400 pages.

*Vol. XVIII. Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin. Records of a Family of Engineers. 1905. 366 pages.

*Vol. XX. Weir of Hermiston. The Plays. Fables. 1905. 508 pages.

Vol. XXI. St. Ives: Being the Adventures of a French Prisoner in England. 1905. 485 pages.

Vol. XXII. Sketches. Criticisms, Etc. 1905. 669 pages.

Vol. XXIII. Letters and Miscellanies of Robert Louis Stevenson, I. 1905. 443 pages.

Vol. XXIV. Letters and Miscellanies of Robert Louis Stevenson, II. 1905. 465 pages.

*Vol. XXVI. Life II. 1905. 275 pages.

Vol. XXVII. New Letters. 1912. 338 pages.

In the Forum: a gruff sense of cosmopolitan historical awareness.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Canvas 216

“Canvas 216”
February 23, 2011

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Library Notes: Ten more titles added to the collection, including work by or about Thoreau, Benjamin Franklin, Basho, James Joyce, Carl Sandburg, Issa, and many more. Browse the complete list here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Snowflakes and street lights — and we, the dead, return.

“Ethereal” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

2.24.2011 #2
2.24.2011 #1 (books, notes, links)

The life, world, heart, stallion, tales, and poems

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The History of Napoleon Bonaparte, Vol. II, by John S.C. Abbott. With Maps and Numerous Illustrations. In Two Volumes. Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York and London (1902). 666 pages.

The World of Washington Irving, by Van Wyck Brooks. E.P. Dutton & Company, Inc (1944). “This is the first volume of a series which I hope to finish on the literary history of the United States. It is intended to precede The Flowering of New England. I am now planning a volume on the period of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville.” 387 pages.

The Heart of the Desert (Kut-le of the Desert), by Honoré Willsie. Author of “Still Jim.” With Frontispiece in Colors by W. Herbert Dunton. A.L. Burt Company, Publishers, 114-120 East Twenty-third Street, New York. Published by arrangement with Frederick A. Stokes Company (September 1913, sixth printing). “To Uncle Nile and Aunt Nellie, From Lydia and Lotta, New Years 1918.” 313 pages.

Roan Stallion, Tamar, and Other Poems, by Robinson Jeffers. The Modern Library, New York (1951). 295 pages.

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer. Translated into Modern English by Nevill Coghill. Penguin Books, Baltimore (1958, revised edition). 521 pages.

Bittersweet Poems of Henirich Heine. Newly translated by Joseph Auslander. Peter Pauper Press, Mount Vernon, New York (1956). 60 pages.

Wer zum ersten Male liebt

He who for the first time loves,
Though rejected, is a god;
He whom twice the passion moves,
Unrequited, is a clod.

Such a clod am I, but dafter,
To love thus despite denying;
Sun, moon, stars are rocked with laughter;
I am laughing too — and dying.

Recently Linked: My thanks to Lynn Behrendt for including yesterday’s dream, Ghost Notes, in the Annandale Dream Gazette.

Library Notes: Added The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

In the Forum: the bittersweet birches not taken.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ghost Notes

On a pedestal in the shade of the ash tree at my childhood home, a large wooden bowl has just been filled with pipe tobacco. An old uncle happens by. Delighted, he fills his pipe, lights it, and draws on it with great contentment. Then he departs, disappearing into the atmosphere, which seems to be made more of memory than it is of air. I find a pipe in my hands, the one I keep on my desk that belonged to my father’s brother before he was killed in the second world war. But when I go to fill it, the wooden bowl on the pedestal contains damp, mostly decayed ash leaves. And so I clear the bowl with my hands. Soon thereafter, it’s filled with tobacco again, how or by whom, I don’t know. I’m joined then by a friend I haven’t seen since my father’s funeral in 1995. He sees my pipe and says my uncle’s name. I fill it, light it in his presence, and inhale. “Ghost notes,” is my reply.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

For the Trees

This world I roam
this mad forest planted in my soul

each face carved upon a tree
seeks a palm other than my own.

Canvases 211, 212, 213, 214, 215
February 20, 2011

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Library Notes: Added two Peter Pauper Press books, the first of which I just brought home yesterday afternoon: Bittersweet Poems, by Heinrich Heine, and Chinese Fairy Tales, illustrated by Jeanyee Wong.

Monday, February 21, 2011


So many pictures
       of the moon

                                               in my lap

              the family album

Library Notes: Four more titles cataloged: Doctor Zhivago; War and Peace;
Dead Souls; Letters from the Earth.

“Full” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Canvas 210

Remove one line, pull one thread, watch me disappear.

“Canvas 210”
February 18, 2011

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Library Notes: Added three signed first editions: Days of Life and Death and Escape to the Moon by William Saroyan in American and British editions; and East of West LA by Kevin McCollister.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


1 And for those dreams that come and go
        without our knowing,

2 we receive the world in their stead.

Library Notes: Three titles added: California Classics; Colophons of Armenian Manuscripts; Kerouac’s Book of Sketches 1952-1957.

“Proverb” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Canvas 209

“Canvas 209”
February 16, 2011

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Library Notes: Added all twenty-five volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica (1892). First volume here. Also added books by Arrian, Auden, Balzac, and Lyotard.

In the Forum: the bright side of despair.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


For Vassilis Zambaras, with thanks, in awe

On a boy’s face
the hair of a man
he doesn’t

the almond
a flower
in his

In a breath

a lone                                    starling





Library Notes:

Several more books added. As always, you’re welcome to browse the collection here.

“February” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


With a song at last
on your parched gray lips.

That’s how I imagine

Library Notes:
Six books added. You’re welcome to browse the collection here.

“Reason” added to Poems, Slightly Used.
In the Forum: Not found.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


How she cries
after the last voice is gone,
her breath in every

“Snow” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

2.15.2011 #2
2.15.2011 #1 (drawing)

Canvas 208

“Canvas 208”
February 12, 2010

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In the Forum: the four Magi.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Peppermint Tea

Canvases 205, 206, 207

Please click on the images for a larger view.

Library Notes
Added 1940 gift edition of The Brothers Karamazov.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Canvas 204

“Canvas 204”
February 12, 2011

[click to enlarge]

In the Forum: rapping while hammering.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Mountain snow
valley ash

a hand
a pen
an axe

Found between two pages in Riddle and Sojourn,
an imagined journal of unwritten haiku.

“Memento” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Recently Acquired: The Congo and Other Poems, by Vachel Lindsay. Unabridged Dover republication (1992) of the edition published by The Macmillan Company, New York, 1915. 91 pages. $.49.

Library Notes: Added brief comments/quotes to my entries for Brautigan, Joyce, Montaigne, Pound, and Sandburg. Also added to collection: Zorba the Greek; The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel; The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.

Friday, February 11, 2011

About Face

Easy to dismiss as drawings, but less so as ghosts and lives;
Those we carry with us, and those we try to hide;

A poem of lines abides by where they’re broken;
The face arrives before they’re spoken;

Stars tell trees what these tell me;
No more grace, or less, than we believe.

Canvases 201, 202, 203
February 9, 2011

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Library Notes: Added Carl Sandburg’s Cornhuskers to my collection at LibraryThing.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blackwood’s Magazine

Thanks to these six volumes, the house smells more like an antiquarian bookshop then ever. I smell like an antiquarian bookshop.

Blackwood’s Magazine. Edinburgh. American Edition. Published by the Leonard Scott Publishing Company, 41 Barclay Street, New York. S.W. Green, Printers, 16 and 18 Jacob Street, New York.

Vol. 111, 1872; Vol. 112, 1872; Vol. 113, 1873; Vol. 122, 1877; Vol. 123, 1878;
Vol. 124, 1878.

Library Notes: Added three volumes to my collection at LibraryThing: Letters From a Self-Made Merchant to His Son; The Child of My Wife; and Avowals. Also, I think I will be adding personal notes and/or quotes to the comment sections of some titles.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Canvases 195-200.

Please click on the images for a larger view.

Library Notes: Cataloged two books; added notes to three previously cataloged volumes given as gifts; purchased six volumes (part of a set) dated 1872-1878.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


February 8, 2010

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2.8.2010 #2
2.8.2010 #1

Carnegie and Beyond

If you scroll down the page to the “Circulation” area in the sidebar, you’ll find a widget that links to my newly opened account at LibraryThing. If you wait a few seconds, the images change; those are covers of a random selection of books that I’ve entered in my collection thus far. I’m still in the learning stage, but the basics are fairly easy. Little by little, I’ll enter every book in the house, perhaps even those that were handmade by family members long before my parents were born and scratched out in ink in a world far away. And already, I’m thinking of my mother, who took me week in and week out to the simple, stately Carnegie library in our hometown when I was a kid. She would embrace this new enterprise with all her heart and soul, all the more so because it would mean yet another chance to handle and examine each book. So I hope you’ll visit us there now and again. I say “us” because some of the books I’ll be entering, and which are now in my care, are hers.

Hometown library
(click to enlarge)

Interior in the early days
(click to enlarge)

Note: My thanks to Lynn Behrendt for posting yesterday’s dream in the Annandale Dream Gazette. “Improvisation” is the seventy-third dream of mine to be included in that online volume, where, as co-editor Robert Kelly says, “the dream is public. The dream is social. The dream is communication. The dream intends to speak to you. These are the notions to investigate.”

Also: Copies of my chapbook, The Thing About Strawberries: 31 Dreams, are still available, and can be purchased directly from MuscleHead Press for only five dollars.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I was offered a choice between two bright-red plastic harmonicas. I said I’d start with the small one, which was about eight inches long. The other measured about two feet. I started to play, and soon my coat grew tails as I smacked my right foot on the sidewalk, noticing the flecks of star-like grit as I did so and almost slipping into the gutter. A crowd gathered. I had no idea what I was playing or where it would lead, but suddenly finding myself in need of a spectacular high note, I had to use the ringing in my right ear — the ringing in my left being an octave lower — and when the people heard it — I could feel its forceful exit as of a great wind rushing through my head — they broke into applause.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Canvases 187-194. The first was done February 4. The rest were done early yesterday morning in a single session. During “Canvas 193,” I heard myself moan. At least I think it was me.

Please click on the images for a larger view.

Note: Thank you, Ella.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ed Baker: Stone Girl E-pic

Stone Girl E-pic

Five books and introduction in one volume

Nottingham, England (2011)

525 pages

“ is work that manages to retain all the elements and yet make contemporary Vispo look very empty, leaving the reader to look for the essentials of a more tradition-based visual poetry: a minimalism that matters and the most purely ‘concrete’ art that ever illustrated text. Writing that cuts to the bone, iconoclastic and original, and a ‘Stone Girl’ art sprung out of the lines themselves. Writing and art on Baker’s terms.”Conrad DiDiodato

Friday, February 4, 2011

Non Compos Mentis, with four canvases

Do not question a man’s belief in God;
question his belief that God is sane.

From Songs and Letters, originally published January 9, 2008.

Also: I’m intrigued by the assumption that we’re not all ghosts, or the figments of a twisted imagination.

“Canvas 183”
February 3, 2011

“Canvas 184”
February 3, 2011

“Canvas 185”
February 3, 2011

“Canvas 186”
February 3, 2011

Please click on the images for a larger view.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Love Story

Oh, the things I break
into dazzling little pieces.

Oh, the faith you have
in rainbows.

“Love Story” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Canvases 180, 181, 182

“Canvas 180”
January 31, 2011

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“Canvas 181”
February 1, 2011

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“Canvas 182”
February 1, 2011

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011


So far, I think I’ve been fairly successful in using the Web in general and the blog medium in particular as means of hustling my thoughts into the bright light of day. And hustle I must, because tomorrow is a form of paralysis. I don’t trust it, and I don’t believe in it. Oh, it exists, alright — the way everything exists in these brains of ours. But try to make sense of it, and the next thing we know, we’re setting our lives by calendars and clocks. Time. I don’t have time. If I only had time. We need time. Give me time. Time heals all wounds. Time is what runs down your arms when you eat a ripe juicy peach. It’s summertime, it’s wintertime, it’s springtime, it’s . . . fall. Fool. Last night I dreamed my elderly mother and one of her elderly friends from our elderly hometown were descending the steps from a brightly lit abode late at night just as my son and I were arriving on foot. They had their purses and were all smiles, as if they’d been playing cards in a roomful of friends circa 1962, when such things were common in their world and mine, when the cars parked in the driveway were glorious sulking pieces of metal fitted with chrome grimaces and smiles, except that in the dream there were no cars, only a house with a dome made of bricks and little castle windows, and these two women as happy as could be even though they could hardly walk for fear — mine, not theirs — that each step might send them skidding into the street below. But it didn’t happen. Nothing did. Why should it? I saw them, and that was enough. They were happy, and the joy it gave me was almost more than I could stand. It still is. The thing about time is this: I’m immersed in a very important project that’s weeks and months from completion, and if I don’t stay alive long enough it won’t be completed. It’s the same old story: So what? We die when we die. We die in the beginning. We die in the middle. We die in the end. We die with words on our lips, with thoughts in our minds, with hopes, dreams, memories, desires, inklings, hints — and often it’s our death that does the work we could not do, or that we were afraid to do, or that we couldn’t even imagine doing because we were too busy imagining something else — and is that so bad, really? I’ll finish it or I won’t. Statistically speaking “time” is in my favor. And yet I remember a crazy tobaggon ride I was on once as a kid, skidding wildly past rocks and tree trunks toward no particular destination. So luck is involved. To be the kid, to be the man whose mother laughs in his dreams, to be alive just long enough to

“Time” is my newest Notebook entry. Old notes are archived here.
“He imagined himself” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

2.1.2011 #2
2.1.2011 #1 (poem, Sandburg, Frost)

He imagined himself

A thought in passing while reading Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems:

He imagined himself in sweet old age
right up to his death on the pavement at fifty-two,

and at that moment the kids who were there
looked every bit as right and bright
as his own two grandchildren,

if not better in that light,

I share this not to draw any subtle or grand connection; rather, this is just an illustration of how my mind carries on its own conversation while I read.

Here’s a lovely short poem from the book:

In a Back Alley

Remembrance for a great man is this.
The newsies are pitching pennies.
And on the copper disk is the man’s face.
Dead lover of boys, what do you ask for now?

And here’s one from Robert Frost’s Mountain Interval, a book I finished reading a couple of days ago:

House Fear

Always—I tell you this they learned—
Always at night when they returned
To the lonely house from far away
To lamps unlighted and fire gone gray,
They learned to rattle the lock and key
To give whatever might chance to be
Warning and time to be off in flight:
And preferring the out- to the in-door night,
They learned to leave the house door wide
Until they had lit the lamp inside.

I offer no analysis. What would be the point? Not one of you is incapable of drawing your own sound, meaningful conclusions.

And if I were Poet Laureate (ha!), this is what I’d say: You are the poem; there is no other way.