Saturday, June 30, 2012


The new issue of Glass: A Journal of Poetry is here, and I have a poem in it!

So does Sandy Longhorn, a poet and blogger I admire, and Garth Pavell, whose work I found and enjoyed in Leveler. 

And so many more! What an honor, what a thrill! This is a lovely online journal, and be sure to see the cover image of a house! Many thanks to editors Holly Burnside and Anthony Frame.

Thanks also to Mogens Engelund for this image of a window in Sweden (1742) with the glassblower's mark in the center. (Like a belly button. And this window is the Adam and/or Eve of glass production.) And thanks to Wikipedia for information on glass and windows. As my Glass contributor bio reveals, I've had a glass collection since seeing the play Glass Menagerie as a child.

I love glass, and I respect transparency.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Today, from the air-conditioned kitchen, I stood, riveted, at the sliding glass door, watching goldfinches feast on the stalks of catmint, blossoming and going to seed.

Wow! Bright, bright tiny amazing birds.

Thanks to Wikipedia for both of these shareable images, the goldfinch and the catmint, by Gideon Pisanty, a great name!

By chance, I had promised some of the catmint to the church garden this morning, if it survives the heat. I realize now I should have added "if it survives the goldfinches."

But they are as light on their feet as they are on the wing, not even taking the stalks to the ground as they fed. And now they are gone. Until we meet again!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Heat

Yesterday's beach scene art and beach umbrella used as a parasol to shade a little girl...still applies today, in the beastly heat. Or ...

I called my parents to encourage them 1) to stay in air conditioning 2) not to golf in the afternoon (golfing achieved in the morning) 3) not to mow the lawn (even on a tractor mower). I believe my loving advice was heeded.

Tonight my dad will tell bedtime stories to kids for a Night at the Museum! I think it will be cool enough there, in all senses of the word!

The heat, which, at Wikipedia, can refer to a number of things, is dragging us down for sure, making it a Cranky Doodle Day and a Slattern Day at once. There is a breeze coming in through my lower-level office window, usually a cool area of the house, but it is like the breeze when you open the oven door to take out a bubbling apple pie.

Thanks to Facebook for the 100+ heat image and to the Supreme Court for saying healthcare is Constitutional.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Natural Buoyancy

Today the pool felt great. I felt so naturally buoyant! "Buoy," "buoyant," and "buoyancy" are words that always look weird to me, and I pretty much always have to look them up to make sure I put the "u" and the "y" in the right place.

Today I needed to type it to tell you about the new poetry feature, by Peg Duthie, up at Escape Into Life, with collage paintings by Karin Miller. This one is called Natural Buoyancy, but I see that whoever labelled it at EIL (when you hover over the image there) left out the "u," though natural "boyancy" sounds pretty fun, too.

It's so much fun to pair poems and art at EIL. When I saw the Guess Who? painting, I knew that was a perfect fit with the secret-admirer valentine poem, and everything felt, well, naturally buoyant from then on!

And I had fallen in love with Let's Do Lunch when I first saw this Artist Watch feature in mid-June. Generally, I go back a little further, to make sure readers/viewers see some of the previous artists featured at EIL, but this was too perfect a pairing to pass up.

But back to buoyancy! As Archimedes said, in 212 B.C., so he could not have been discussing my early-morning lap swimming, "Any object, wholly or partly immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object." I am the partly immersed object!

(See gray ball in Wikimedia Commons diagram.)

Also, I have been remembering that lover's note, in a famous movie, a romantic comedy, I think, that reads, "You are my density." What is that movie, please?

(That guy was naturally boyant.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Empty Protest

Oh, how I love The Sun. I've been reading the July issue, excerpted past interviews with the late James Hillman, so much to think about.

Today I am thinking about his concept of the "empty protest" and find much comfort here. Some context: the interview starts with some criticism of the self-absorption of modern psychology, its tendency to focus on a "fixing" of the self, not the self's engagement with the world. He's trying to say feelings are important, but so is social justice; so is political action. How can the individual validate his or her feelings and act in the world, and maybe by acting in the world?

Near the end of this interview, Hillman says:

It's better to go into the world half-cocked than not to go into the world at all. I know when something's wrong. And I can say, "This is outrageous. This is insulting. This is a violation. And it's wrong." I don't know what we should do about it; my protest is absolutely empty. But I believe in that empty protest.

Now the "half-cocked" might be a little disturbing as an image, related as it is to firearms in our overly-violent, and often half-cocked, as in "inadequately or poorly prepared" definition, in American society, except that "half-cocked" is safer, as firearms go, than fully-cocked. The gun can't go off yet at half cock.

But Hillman's image is simply underscoring his point about 1) lack of a fully-thought-out solution (I like his honesty in knowing he doesn't have a solution for everything) and 2) his relative lack of power against, well, the "big guns," the power structure.

He goes on:

You see, one of the ways you get trapped into not going into the world is when people--usually in positions of power--say, "Oh, yeah, wise guy?" What would you do about it? What would you do about the Persian Gulf crisis?" I don't know what I'd do. I don't know. But I know when I feel something is wrong, and I trust that sense of outrage, that sense of insult. And so, empty protest is a valid way of expressing feeling, politically. Remember, that's where we began: how do you connect feeling with politics? Well, one of the ways is through that empty protest. You don't know what's right, but you know what's wrong.

I love that: his encouragement to express the feeling, openly, that something is wrong. His own willingness to express outrage, to speak up. We know, from history, what awful things can happen when people sense something wrong but don't speak up.

But, yes, the powers that be are always telling us to shut up, in subtle or overt ways.

So I'm going to keep speaking up when I feel that something is wrong. Even if I don't know what to do about it. Speaking up is a way to start (the ball rolling toward the kingpins).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cosmo Girl

It's hard to believe this lovely lady has left the earth. Phyllis White. And isn't that a Cosmopolitan?

Yep. Phyllis White, Cosmo Girl.

Wise, funny, gracious, kind.

Her daughter and her son-in-law reflected on her life, her personality, and her kindness in church today, and you can read their thoughts and one of Phyllis's poems in The Reflecting Pool. This poem was about the loss of another member of the congregation, so there was a shared mourning here today.

And a lovely lightness, full of singing and laughter, too.

During church, a grumble of thunder, and a soft and needed rain. Followed by sunlight...for those who like to have a Sunday afternoon Cosmo on the deck.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Importance of Being Early

Today I arrived early for an eleven o'clock appointment (to tape some poems!) at the radio station and got to hear the Evie Ladin Band taping a couple songs for Acousticity on WGLT!!!

I got there just as Evie Ladin and Keith Terry started to sing the Coocoo Song* which includes a spoon solo by Keith who is an International Body Music guy. You can hear another version of it, with additional band members, on youtube or via their home page (scroll down and click, and/or pick other songs, too!)

He also played his hands, making me cry.

I was able to arrive early, even though I was on foot, because yesterday my dentist's office called to ask if I wanted to move my 9:20 appointment on Friday up to 8:30--Yes! if you don't mind my hair still being wet from lap swimming! You can come in your pajamas and slippers if you like!--and that meant I could also stop by the Bloomington Public Library on my way back, and check out a book I can only get there, and still be home in time to leave the car behind and walk to beautiful Uptown Normal, where the aquatic plants are blooming in greens and dark purple around the beautiful Uptown traffic circle on this beautiful, beautiful day.

*I have written about "The Cuckoo Song" before, oddly enough. This is the second version mentioned in that Sumer is Icumin In blog post, the song sung in Songcatcher, the movie, for which I have the soundtrack.

You can hear the poems, by the way, in the forthcoming summer issue (@ July 1?) of Menacing Hedge. Take a look at the current issue here!

You can get Evie Ladin Band CDs in their store, here!  Beautiful voices, beautiful lyrics, spoons, hands, and clawhammer banjo!

And here is their tour schedule. Maybe they are coming to a town near you! Geographically, this could mean Turkey, Spain, Sweden, and many places in the USA, including Texas!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Feeling peachy, enjoying swimming laps in the morning, and getting plenty done, though it's not always clear what--as I work on a number of things at once that require reading, writing, editing, organizing, and thinking about. And then I juggle them, like oranges (how I first learned to juggle), or peaches (bruise too easily if you are resuming juggling later in life).

Tuck it in "no motion," as we say in the improvisational theatre world. Don't "act" on this--overtly or consciously--but let it rest there, so it informs the scene or can be accessed intuitively. This can be applied to poetry, of course, to life, and, I am hoping, to finding that misplaced Coleman jug, green and white, that would be handy on hot summer days for ice water when my husband is working on a roof.

Where is that thing?

Because of all the vagina talk on Facebook and Comedy Central (where I like to get my news), I almost called this blog entry "Lady Parts." That might be dangerous for my online reputation (I heard an NPR ad for Reputation, a new service to protect that--my online reputation, not my vagina--driving back from the pool this morning...and there you see the potential problem), but my point here is that women need to be able to protect their own vaginas, privately and politically, and to vote for people who will support that and help with that, and I'm going to speak up for that relentlessly. Also, I want to be who I am at all times.

And, speaking of lady parts, summer is a good time to stay up to date with health maintenance. Mammogram achieved this morning, hair barely dry from lap swimming and washing the chlorine out of it! (Men can get breast cancer, too, so be alert, everyone.) New machine, less uncomfortable, got to talk books with my technician! Peachy!


I forgot to credit Jonathan Koch for the Bowl of Peaches with Grapes, so here I am again. I hope he doesn't mind being in a blog post with lady parts in it. Please buy his painting so he will forgive me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lipstick Sun

Happy first day of summer, and happy Hump of the Week in the blog. As a first day of summer, this one will feel like it: 90s again, blue sky, bright, humid. Maybe thunderstorms tomorrow.

I rescued a bunch of gloriosa daisies that were dragged down by the last storm, followed by the intense heat, and stuck them in pitchers and vases of water in my house, which is now transformed into a 3D Vincent Van Gogh painting, as these "daisies" resemble sunflowers!

This collage that I call "Lipstick Sun" is by Delilah Jones, and you can see more of her work over at Escape Into Life, where today's poetry blog post is about the speaker and the persona in poetry. And I quote Emily Dickinson's "I'm Nobody!" poem, which has June in it. And it links to work by Sandy Longhorn and Jeannine Hall Gailey. (And their blogs are in the blogroll here, if you want to know more about them.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Let's Pretend...

…This Never Happened!

Simultaneously with drafting/posting this blog entry, I am participating in a virtual book club discussion of this book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, over at Goodreads.  She’s awesome, hilarious, generous, sweet, hilarious, a swearing person, and somebody who knows how to make beer slushies.  And wear animal pelts and/or fake fur.  Because of her [taxidermy-rich] childhood.

I admire her, and she makes me laugh out loud. AKA LOL.

***Long pause, during which I was kicked off the Internet.

I'm pretty sure Jenny Lawson broke the Internet.  With awesomeness.

Or at least my blog.

We're back...but I deleted everything I lost during the broken time.  See you tomorrow!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Expiated Guilt

Well, today I managed not to have wine for breakfast. 

(See yesterday,* plus comments.) 

*See also, Kristin’s blog entry & poem on food journals.

Instead, I had low-fat yogurt and granola. First, I had a little OJ and swam my laps. Right after breakfast, I walked into town and back to do errands, hoping to beat the heat, but instead my walk was sort of a combination of Native American sweat lodge and Bikram Yoga.**

**Except where it says “ideally practiced in a room heated to 105°F (≈ 40.6°C) with a humidity of 40%” substitute “actually practiced while walking to and from town in air heated to 95°F with 90% humidity.” 

Wearing a skinny-strapped top and a good (strapless) bra, to remain presentable at bank, library, and post office.

While walking, I wrote two entire humor columns in my head. If only I could get paid for that.

Then I came home and wrote them down in my cool, lower-level office, with a breeze coming in from the gangway.  If only I could get paid for that! Hmm, we’ll see. But fear not! My flexible (thanks to heat and humidity and lap swimming) life as a poet and freelance editor is actually working out, for which I am so grateful.

Also grateful for this cool, healthy picture of Grapes with Watermelon, by Jonathan Koch. If I eat watermelon for the rest of the summer, I should be fine. Or grapes.

But thanks to all of you who pointed out the value of occasional indulgences and that wine is a fruit.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Spicing It Up

Well, it’s happened. You know how I was keeping a food diary, and I joked about “spicing it up” since it’s possibly best to keep in mind that someone will actually be reading your food diary, so you don’t eat totally unhealthy foodstuffs, etc.? Well, yesterday, I wrote this:

“8:30 Devil made me do it: 2 cinnamon rolls & chips + wine for dinner.”

Before that, it was all Salade Niçoise, 8 almonds, hard-boiled egg (no yolk), 1/3 cup raspberries, ½ cup green beans, and that kind of thing.

I did not even say how many chips (because I did not count them; I ate from the bag, a no-no), how many glasses of wine (2 ½-ish) and that the cinnamon rolls were glopped with cream cheese icing.

I guess the lesson here is manyfold (similar to waistline):

1.  Do not buy fresh cinnamon rolls from the Jewel bakery, glopped with cream cheese icing, even though you are on an emergency trip to the store for milk and orange juice, butter and eggs, and all things breakfast-y, and have to get home quickly because daughter needs car for work, which is why you did not get to go to the Farmers Market in Bloomington, where the cinnamon rolls are as big as your head, so at least you didn’t eat two of those, or even ¼ of one of those, so that’s healthy!

2.  Do not think that just writing stuff down will help you resist temptation.

3.  Remember that if you eat all-healthy and swim laps, etc., the added effort of writing it all down may tip you over the edge into a cream-cheese icing kind of meltdown (10 seconds in the microwave).

4.  Do not think that doing this on a Saturday night is any excuse, even though you can go to church and repent the next morning, because you don’t go to that kind of church, if any church really has a food-diary confessional booth.

5.  Do not think you can blame the barometric pressure, even though Kindergarten teachers sometimes do, to explain wild behavior in the classroom, even though a thunderstorm did follow closely upon the cream cheese icing extravagance.

6.  Nor the devil, who is unlikely to exist, except in the hearts of men (and food-diary-keeping women).

I don’t even want to offer a picture today, because it might be the French Toast Fantasy you can order and actually eat at Ann Sather restaurant in Chicago, with mascarpone filling.

P.S. Happy Father’s Day. Also it’s a Fat Tuesday on a Sunday.

P.P.S. OK, pomegranates, and their seeds, which kept Persephone (skinny) in the underworld. (It's like juicy red corn, way healthier than Insane Grain, a Beer Nuts product. Don't get me started.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Make It So

Today is Captain Picard Day. "Make it so." Yes, I have a lingering crush on Captain Jean-Luc Picard, so it is surging up today. And enough of a lingering crush on Patrick Stewart that I am an X-Men fan (aided by my crush on Wolverine) and actually own an educational video of him playing Jean in Miss Julie.

My crush on Captain Picard is played out in a poem/daydream in this fabulous anthology, Make It So, available from Prime Directive Press, an imprint of Hyacinth Girl Press. I'm sure I have mentioned this before. That's how crushes go.

It is also Bloomsday, which people are celebrating all over the world in formal and less formal ways--for instance, here in Kristin Berkey-Abbott's blog, where she is also thinking about Dubliners.

And a friend is making it so by getting married today.

Me, I am trying to catch up on or move forward on various things today, but only in a vague, slatternly way, because it is also Slattern Day.

White hyacinths thanks to Wikipedia and GNU Free Documentation License.

Friday, June 15, 2012


This morning the neighbor's hunting dog Abby (2 feet long, 1 foot high at the tip top of her ears), poked her nose down a rabbit hole and pulled up a baby rabbit. There was outcry and weeping + human and animal empathy.

A little while later, we figured out we could tuck the tiny (week old?), apparently uninjured rabbit back in its burrow (latex glove), cover it with dry grass and rabbit fur, see it snuggle in with siblings, and wait for the mother, who had been hanging around for an opportunity, to come back.

We also blocked a hole in the fence with bricks so Abby the Tiny Hunter would not come into our yard, poop, and gleefully escape into other yards through other openings to randomly hunt the neighbors' rabbits. We knew exactly where she tends to get into this yard because she had left one of her (hated) hair bows, a tiny blue and white one, at the spot.

This afternoon and this evening, I am indeed going to theatre, Heartland Theatre, to make theme of the day, Drama, complete. Young at Heartland, the senior acting troupe, this afternoon, and the 10-Minute Plays tonight, if they have room.

I will be wearing the same dramatic theatre-going outfit to both plays: wild jungle floral print dress (from Goodwill via Kim!), floral Chinese slippers, and 3D zebras in my ears.

And, to make it a true Random Coinciday, that's the Salade Nicoise with local greens I fed my mom yesterday. (Photo credit: my daughter).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flapping in the Wind

Happy Flag Day! I do everything I can outside these beautiful, breezy summer days, so laundry is waiting for me in baskets on the picnic table, to fold outside. I will be flapping any wrinkles out of the clothes as soon as I finish here.

My swimsuit, from early-morning lap swim, is hanging from a hammock hook to dry. No doubt it is already dry. I am loving lap swim, of course. Cool morning air makes the water feel warm.

Hammock! Hang it up. It could be flapping in the wind, too, along with any neighborhood flags. Hey, I should put up our flag!

I have walked into town and back to pick up Amtrak tickets. I have given my mom a Salade Niçoise for lunch! Hmm, not very American. (And we did not want fries with that.)

Thanks to Wikipedia and Library of Congress for the free-use licensed/public domain flag image.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So There

New poetry feature up today at Escape Into Life, prose poems by Nicolette Wong, who has actually written a series of poems for Chris Al-Aswad, founding editor. Two are in the feature.

I'm tickled by the nearness of last names in the paired artist, Saana Wang, whose bed you see here, and window below. I paired them when I saw the photo of the little girl with white "doll" face; it strikes with and against "Hinamatsuri (The Doll's Festival)" like a sad gong.

Yesterday my husband pulled into the driveway, had a quick lunch, and was headed back to work when he saw the flat tire. Jacked up the car to relieve the burden on the wheel, took my car back to work, and attempted the repair later. Tire was shot. We were so lucky it didn't blow on the road to or from Chicago! So lucky it didn't spoil the day of college-campus and zoo visits! So lucky it didn't make us late for the surprise party! So lucky it didn't inconvenience the friends with whom we were staying. So lucky!

So on this hump of the week, we'll get a new tire.

And the mini-scones (Ticklepenny Corner, from yesterday's Farmers Market) were devoured by teenagers! This is good, as I am now keeping a food diary. I am making sure I eat healthy things by writing it down, inspired by my sister-in-law who said, "You think, 'Do I really want to write that down?'" (to show to the nutritionist, trainer, doctor, or self).

My doctor will probably look at it and say, "You do realize that coffee and wine don't really have that much nutritional value?"

And I'll say, "What about coconut M&Ms?"

Food diary thus far today: coffee, nectarine.

So there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dry Creekbed

Sugar Creek is dry. I passed the dry creekbed on the way to the Farmers Market, where I got mixed greens for dinner, 3 fabulous zucchini, snowpeas, and glorious mini-scones from a local kitchen--literally, a kitchen!--called Ticklepenny Corner, and heard some live folk music.

The Ticklepenny women will only be selling at the Farmers Market. I also saw Trish the pie lady, to say hello, but did not buy a pie.  (I was walking...but there were mini-pies, but I thought I should support the new Ticklepenny ladies.  Anyhoo...I will get a pie from Trish another day.) Sweet brief conversation with the man buying a strawberry rhubarb pie, the kind his wife used to make, but "she's no longer with us." He was tempted to buy a mini sour cream apple pie, a snack for the ride home, but, in the scheme of things, it was too expensive. The giant strawberry rhubarb pie was a better bargain. With added nostalgia.

The greens woman said, "We're not certified organic, because I don't like the organic chemicals and the $1500 fee.  Chemicals are chemicals. We don't put anything on them." Just like me. So I washed them, and we ate them. The greens, chemical-free.

Meanwhile, I have been feeding the baby and teenage, my greens, the lupine I planted from seed. Everything had been coming up so nicely but sometimes disappearing. So I put up a little wire fence. Keeps the big fat rabbits out just fine. But lets in the little ones, who are not a weensy bit scared of me when I approach with a watering can.

They don't touch the balsam, though. So, for next year, and every year after, since they are sturdy perennials, balsam it is.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Red Panda

What a wonderful, jam-packed weekend in Chicago. I didn't know what to call this entry because we did so much and saw so many people! And animals, including an adorable red panda at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Our son, whose birthday we were celebrating, told us the red panda was a model for the orange fox creature on the Mozilla Firefox web browser, but he might have been joshing with us. Gullible is my middle name.

But the red panda does look a bit like a fox, and a bit like a squirrel, and a lot like a raccoon, and a little (the middle, black part) like a bear, and sort of like a cat, especially when grooming. One of its names is "shining cat."

Thanks to Greg Hume for this red panda descending a tree, and to Wikipedia for both of these free-use images.

We were also celebrating the 50th birthday of an old friend, and saw many other old friends, as well as new friends, at her surprise party, along with all her siblings. What a joy.

Walked briefly through Printers Row Lit Fest to pick up some metal printer's type--the "5" and the "0"--to help her celebrate.

Ran into Ellen Wade Beals in a shared tent, with her first place medal on display for her anthology Solace! Picked a free contributor's copy of After Hours, but, alas, missed RHINO. If only I had clicked the Big Horn Blog before going, I'd have known they were at Table 122.

But we saw a rhino at the zoo! And a giraffe! And a tiger! And a lion! And apes. And birds. And a beaver. And many endangered, protected species. And a rain forest.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Whole Cloth

I was delighted to have a poem accepted by the lovely online journal A Clean, Well-Lighted Place in May, but I didn't realize it would go up so quickly, that is, in May, and I found it yesterday, in June! (So, not only am I day-of-the-week challenged, but I could also make a new reality show of my life called Which Month Is It, Anyway?)

I love this journal for all the wonderful stuff I've read in it, and also for its Edward Hopper banner image!

Here is my poem, "Whole Cloth," about stuff I see in the world at large, my own back yard, and my mind.

And here is a cool definition by Ellen Rosen that helps us see the differences between "whole cloth" as the phrase is used by people who sew and people who make quilts, fabric experts, and its other meaning as "a total fabrication"--fabrication!--in other contexts. The differences and the connections.

Meanwhile, the wild violets are done blooming, though the beautiful hearts of their leaves remain, and forget-me-not is about to bloom. Red geraniums I moved from pot to bed are opening, and pink begonia. And I have Golden Columbine seeds out the wazoo if anybody wants some!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Swimming in 'Shrooms

This morning I started my summer lap swimming again! Wooee! I would have started Monday except for morning rain, distant thunder, and a temporary mix-up re: what the heck day is it? I was convinced that it was still June 3, and my receipt said that lap swim began on June 4. Yes, yes, I am number challenged and day-of-the-week challenged.

Then I strained my back lifting big dresser drawers full of clothes, which reminded me why I go so long without cleaning out the dresser drawers. (Bend the knees, bend the knees. I did. It's just the awkward bigness of these particular drawers.) I can swim with a strained back; it's just hard to get in and out of the pool! So I rested, and started today. Oh, joy! Oh, thrill. I love the water and gliding through it.

I have been gliding through The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, since last summer. I love reading this book, and have learned so much from it, but I kept reading it in spurts at just the right time. Also, I have to have my notebook or journal handy, as I keep writing stuff down from it and riffing on it. It has inspired several poems and numerous informal short essays in my private journal and public blog.

I also loved Pollan's book The Botany of Desire, which is actually mentioned in my poem, "The Apple," in Blood Lotus #20 (p.37), and gave me tulip info for a poem called "Tulips" in After Hours #17. The Omnivore's Dilemma--the section on corn (zea mays)--was on my mind when I wrote "Cassandra Observes the Midwestern in September," in Arsenic Lobster. (Also, it was September, and I was observing the Midwestern landscape.)

Yesterday, moving toward the book's conclusion in "the perfect meal," I was struck by many things Pollan said about hunters and foragers that apply to 1) being an artist and 2) being human. So I wrote them down.

Speaking of true "mushroomers," people who live in their vans and follow the mushrooms the way birders follow the birds (see The Big Year!), Pollan says, "They cobble together a living selling their mushrooms to brokers who set up shop in motel rooms near the forests, post signs, and pay the hunters in cash. Anthony and Ben [chefs who are taking Pollan on a mushroom expedition] aren't really a part of this world; they hold jobs, live in houses, and sell their mushrooms directly to restaurants. 'We don't think of ourselves as professionals yet,' Anthony said."

This wowed me. Anthony and Ben, who "hold jobs, live in houses, and sell...directly..." don't think of themselves as "professionals." They think of the guys living in vans as professionals. The guys who are fully committed to mushrooming and who risk everything!

Likewise, poets and artists, musicians and actors often cobble together their lives, taking what work they can find in their fields, committing fully, and risking everything. Their erratic schedules doing what they do best don't always allow them to "hold jobs," but I'm glad most of them can find a way to live in apartments, at least, though I know it's sometimes someone else's apartment and, yes, sometimes it's their cars. For a time.

I am very glad to be living in a house while cobbling a life together. And lap swimming. More gratitude.


And specific thanks to Wikipedia for the mushroom photos! Lactarius indigo by Dan Molter, for the blue stripes that are like lap swimming; Michael Maggs for the traditional red polka-dotted gnomish Disneyesque toadstool, Amanita muscaria; and Alan Rockefeller for the hallucinogenic Psilocybe zapotecorum. And, of course, Michael Pollan, for everything!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I am ravished by the photographs of Eric Jacobson, whose work is available now in the EIL Store. I like to support the EIL artists by using their images in the EIL Blog on my poetry Wednesdays, which alternate with featured-poet Wednesdays at Escape Into Life.

Up today is an interview with Chris Tysh, who is doing intertextual work with 3 French writers. I'm fascinated by her idea of "transcreation" and find myself in an ongoing personal debate about this whole intertextual and "shared language" thing most of the time. How does one sufficiently credit to avoid plagiarism, etc. I have always been troubled when writers take "Steal from the great" too literally....

This ties in with my own "false translation" of Paul Celan, discussed here in my blog, and might further inspire you re: the Misreading call for submissions at THIS magazine!

Anyhoo, many thanks to Escape Into Life and Eric Jacobson for Crashing the Pier, above, and A Lonely Hose, below.

More great Chicago scenes here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Poetry Porch: Bridges

It's feast or famine in the arts world, I've noticed, and I am in a time of feasting.

I have another poem up, this time in the Bridges issue of Poetry Porch, with very fine company!

My poem, "Last Step," came from the course in ekphrastic poetry that I taught at the McLean County Arts Center this winter. It's based on Winslow Homer's painting, On the Stile (1878).

I may have seen this up close in the Hopper/Homer exhibit at the Art Institute in Chicago a couple years ago, but the most recent close perusal was in a book.

As vegetables ripen in various gardens around me, I better get ready for a time of "famine" in the literary world: rejection, rejection, rejection, and no forthcoming publications, because that will come.

Meanwhile, I am grateful to be one of the lucky ones in the real world, with real food to eat. I was pondering the reflection in church this past Sunday: one of our pastors is "a curious agnostic" and was speaking of no longer having a personal God in mind when he thinks on these things. Same here, except that when I wake up smiling or find myself full of gratitude for health or safety or good things happening to my children or friends or their children, etc., I whisper, "Thank you, thank you" to the air.

To the pale blue or invisible...air.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Over the Top

All morning it was overcast, and I did necessary chores, editing work, and errands. Just now the sun came out, and so did a blue jay. I stood gazing at him for a long time, then carried on with my yard chore (collecting some columbine seeds); he was unconcerned. Then I moved toward the woodland corner, looked up in the trees and saw the downy-chested fledglings. It's a whole family!

I know blue jays can be bossy, noisy, and sometimes eat littler birds, but they are so beautiful! Thanks to Wikipedia and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service for the blue jay image!

Meanwhile, as summer issues keep pouring out, I have some more poems up online, this time at Fickle Muses. Like a blue jay, Cassandra is sort of over the top in this set of persona poems that took over my life last fall. (The title leads into the first line in two of these, so just ignore my name):

Cassandra Stands in Front of the House

Cassandra Goes Over the Top

Cassandra Teaches Everything to Her Brother

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dead Mule

I have a poem in the current issue of the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. It's about a famous outlaw of the Natchez Trace who came to Christ later in prison.

It's called "The Last Word," and here it is. You can also see here the dead mule, pushing up daisies. Perfect for a Sunday, and a Poetry Someday.

This is a fun magazine for which you must provide a "Southern Legitimacy Statement" to prove your connection to southern literature or the south. Mine involves sugar cane and hushpuppies from my happy childhood in the south.

And now, to turn my gardening adventures into a reality show:

Previously on Attempting An Avocado: Kathleen complained about the squirrels stealing and burying her avocado pits, but it was her own darn fault for leaving the jelly glasses on the picnic table so the suspended pits could enjoy a little sunshine.

Synopsis of current episode: Planting dwarf marigolds, Kathleen discovers one of the avocado pits in the dirt. She deposits it in the leaf mulch temporarily.  A week later, she finds it has sprouted! Joyfully, she pots it in a blue ceramic pot and puts it safely inside in a sunny window.

Thanks again to Mark Hofstetter for the avocado seedling.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ich bin ein Berliner

I have a poem in the new issue of THIS that originated in an assignment to translate a poem from German without knowing German. It was a famous Paul Celan poem, and we were given a vocabulary list with some translated words, and I could recognize nouns as capitalized, etc., but I was basically in the dark.

So I wrote several "translations," put two together, and kept revising till I got this, "After Celan." I love the desolate image the editors have paired with it, the two main buildings like the two sections of the poem, the blue car having something lurking about it, like a predatory animal.

My fumbling with the language reminded me of the story of JFK supposedly accidentally calling himself a jelly donut in a famous speech in Berlin, but it sounds like that incident is mainly misunderstood, too. You can read all about it here, at Wikipedia, of course, which also offers the fine image of a Berliner Pfannkuchen, the pastry you see above.

Speaking of misunderstandings, THIS has a call for submissions for work on the theme of "Misreading."

And, if you are looking to get more involved with an online magazine, they need a Columns Editor and a Fiction Editor, both unpaid positions, as are most literary editor positions.

Overheard in my house last night: "I don't see any donuts." (In a slightly accusatory tone.) There had been a vague promise of a late-night donut run based on early rising for a volleyball-tournament trip to north of Chicago today...  Instead, the volleyball coach husband/father of the household ate the last bagel. J'accuse.

Friday, June 1, 2012

June is Busting Out All Over

Imagin-ary sound-track: "June is Busting Out All Over" from Carousel.

But it's still chilly and damp around here, not very Juney-looking or -feeling. We so needed the rain, but it bent down the tall spiderwort stems and compromised the gloriosa daisies just beginning to bloom. The spiderwort are leaning over the balsam stems that seem to grow 1-2 inches overnight when well watered. I'll see what I can do to lift, prop up, and tie back.

As if to make it a Random Coinciday in my little world, the new issue of YB Poetry is just up, #6: Plants, with 2 of my poems in it, a marvelous gallery of plant photos by Dorothee Lang, and a whole garden of marvelous offerings.

My poem, "A Blue Petal," though written from earlier impulses and intuitions, somehow gets at my mixed feelings today and my grief over Phyllis, who died yesterday.

"Alligator Pear" must be about feeling askew in the world while hoping for avocados.