Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Slick Ice

What was I saying about winter slash summer yesterday?

I'd forgotten I'd be posting this poetry feature by Susan Elbe at Escape Into Life today, containing the lines, "Even then I was for slick ice, the danger / of sharp blades..."

With fantastic photo art by Glenda Lissette!

And when, I was wondering, will it stop raining? But today was sunny, gorgeous, warm, and I did my research outside!! Because books can be carried there. Books by and about Dylan Thomas. But that's another story. That's left me a little melancholy.

And slightly uplifted:
1) I am not him.
2) I am enough like him to feel like a sensitive poet.

Yes, slightly uplifted. With red hair.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I have a poem in the current issue of A-Minor Magazine, called "Winter/Summer." The poem came from more than one report of awful boating or jet ski incidents involving blades, the vulnerability of being in the water near them. And from the sharp dangers of winter, ever returning. It seemed important for the title to be rendered with a slash mark.

And when will the furnace stop coming on overnight? Will it ever get all the way warm this May? May is almost over. Golden columbine and Ohio blue spiderwort are blooming. Pinks are beginning to open--today! Soon it will be June.

By the way, the slash is not just a punctuation mark anymore. It's a word, a slang word used frequently by young people. See this cool article by Anne Curzan in Lingua Franca.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Indoor Picnic

Happy Memorial Day. Today it'll be an indoor picnic. I'm responsible for the fruit salad. But I've been thinking about alignment, the universe, synchronicity, synchronization, and so on. Thanks to all that, it's a Random Coinciday in the blog. Thanks to the rain, it's a Blue Monday.

And real thanks to veterans today. Remembrances to those who have died, veterans of life if not war.

And thanks to this NPR story, I've been thinking about synchronicity and alignment via metronomes. I recommend watching these two short videos and reading about how and why they synchronize. We talk about "good vibrations," and I often send "good vibes" out into the universe when people ask me for prayers--sort of a thought ripple of hope, rather than wishful thinking addressed to a god figure.

Sometimes I talk about realigning myself in the universe, meaning straightening my spine via yoga, but maybe I should reconsider it in view of these metronomes. What am I really asking? Or doing? Am I trying to enter the flow of good vibrations? Or am I seeking some kind of conformity?

I'm more of a fruit salad kind of girl. I didn't even notice that the colorful metronomes were all in rows, until...they were synchronized! Once they were, they reminded me of soldiers.

On Sunday, the pastor quoted Forrest Gump: "I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I think maybe it's both. Maybe both are happening at the same time."

I think it's both, too. Some of us chart our lives, and some more evidently float, but we usually don't see the story till we look back. Even if my life is more like the path of a floating feather, it may have hit points in the air that create an invisible constellation. A dot-to-dot picture. A story. With meaning.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bananas and Clematis

Today I woke up to five very ripe bananas and five new blossoms on the clematis vine. Plus, the rose trellis is popping roses, and both the dark purple iris and the lavender blue dilly dilly iris are in full frilly bloom. So I baked two loaves of banana bread, refraining from adding flower petals, though I ate some flowers a couple weeks ago at Station 220, a cool farm-to-table restaurant.

Very busy writing, editing, and sending out submissions lately, catching up after my adventures in the theatre, which sort of continue, but in less intense ways, this summer and fall. And, um, rejections are rolling in again, but nice ones, saying to send more. And a few acceptances, too!

I got a little behind in my poetry book reading & reviewing, but posted a review yesterday of Survivor's Picnic, by Debra Bruce, at Escape Into Life. She has a reading coming up in Chicago on Friday, May 31, with an open mic attached, if you are a poet in that area. (Details at the link.)

I do connect summer with summer reading, even though I am not a student or teacher anymore, tied to an academic schedule. I just read Look Me in the Eye, by John Elder Robinson, the teen & tween paperback edition, minus most of the swear words, and learned so much about Asperger's syndome! And soon my book group will meet to discuss Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. (It has butterflies in it.)

Happy reading, happy blooming, and happy banana bread.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book of the Heart

These are my beautiful grown-up children. My daughter graduated from high school on Saturday, and my son came home to cheer her on. It was a lovely, breezy day--a little hazy in the morning, which kept it comfortable and not too hot, and then the sun came out right when the graduates came out to take pictures with friends and family.

Graduation from Normal Community High School used to be a pretty hot, crowded affair in the gym. You could only invite a few people. Now it takes place in a huge coliseum that also accommodates ice hockey, Olympic volleyball, and the Bob Dylan concert we attended a few years ago, with Elvis Costello as the opening act!

So a jillion people can attend. Comfortably. High up and all around, with a good view of the proceedings and close-ups provided on a big screen (of which I was blissfully unaware any time a camera was aimed at me, fortunately). Because, by happy chance, I was up there on stage at my daughter's graduation, receiving a Distinguished Alumni award, along with Walt Byerly '48 and Judith Preno Boekholder '60. The awards committee was delighted when they found out my daughter was graduating, and I got to read a poem to her class and hug her when she came up for her diploma!

Don't worry. I checked it all out with her beforehand, and she was fine with it. She okayed the poem in advance, too. And her friends liked it. And their families. And that's what matters.

Book of the Heart

The wise ones say to know yourself.  They’re right.
If you don’t learn to know yourself, you might
someday wake up in the middle of the night
afraid, unable to get back to sleep
and wonder if you lived your life right.
But the wise ones, who are many, are very deep.
They know already what you keep
inside you, like a secret flame:
We are all human.  We are the same:
hopeful, yearning, timid, if there’s need,
bold, courageous, able to succeed
at loving one another, if we really try.
That’s all that really matters.  You and I,
we know that, don’t we?  We learned it here,
in the book of the heart, year after year after year.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Good To Go

I'm participating in the annual WGLT Good To Go Commuter Challenge this week, encouraging people to walk, bike, carpool, or take public transportation* instead of driving singly in a car, to help reduce CO2 emissions and be environmentally responsible.

I've been doing this on my own for a good while, of course. In Chicago, I took public transportation everywhere (& did not own a car) for 20 years. Here, I walked or took the bus to jobs, though it's true that colleagues at one job started picking me up at the bus stop, but, hey, that was carpooling! But for 4 years, I commuted to a job 35 miles down the road, and that used up a lot of gas and emitted a lot of CO2. Sorry. So far, I've logged 14 miles of walking, burned 2128 calories doing it (!?!), and avoided 11.97 pounds in CO2 emissions.

Now I mostly work at home, but I am logging my commute to work-related destinations: post office to mail submissions and editing jobs, bank to deposit freelancer checks, poetry readings, etc. I was delighted yesterday to attend a poetry reading by Katy Didden, who read new poems and poems from her book The Glacier's Wake. (Paulette Beete, please notice that her book launch is in D.C. on May 30 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hill Center, Old Naval Hospital! Maybe you can go!)

On my way, I noticed many tulips still blooming. So even though the tulips in my own bed lost their heads and spent themselves in April, those in more respectable (and partly shaded) gardens are still blooming in May. And if you missed yesterday's sprawl of tulips or fleurs de mai, just click those phrases to see more fabulous flower photography by Katinka Matson. And poems!

*I actually dream about public transportation frequently. And write poems about it. Just yesterday one of those poems got rejected! (Another in the batch was accepted!) And here's my public transportation poem "The Human Community" at Glass: A Journal of Poetry. No tulips in it, just lots of windows. Made of glass.

Update: You can hear the poem here at WGLT, Poetry Radio. "The Human Community" with music by Dave Frackenpohl, "So Long," from Refractions.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Sprawl of Tulips

I got so many fine flower poems when I asked some of our Escape Into Life poets for them for a May flowers feature in May that I had to create two flower features. The poems do pretty cool stuff with these flowers, as does the artist, Katinka Matson, who created these images by scanning flowers rather than photographing them.

Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy the poems in Fleurs de Mai, based on flowers of April, June, and July, as well, that bloom here and in Africa and Australia. Plus, there's sort of a catfish.

And a wedding dress. The phrase "a sprawl of tulips" comes from Peg Duthie's poem, "Remnant." And see that "remnant" of orange tissue paper?--also scanned! Oh, gosh, it's a Random Coinciday.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


They are digging up my street again today, directing sump pump water into the streets. Our sump pump sends its water into the back yard, and the grass is lush. As are the weeds. I was digging some dandelions out yesterday, and a few thistles. I love them, but, darn it, they take over the world.

I was also digging up stray lily of the valley, the ones escaping their wooden bed, and moving them to the circle under a tree in the front yard. I've been doing this gradually over the past couple years, and it's working: they keep coming back, and this year the ones under the tree have been the first to bloom.

Lily of the valley is also marching under the fence, via those long underground stems, or rhizomes, toward the sump pump lushness of the back yard. They are welcome to do so.

Thank you to H. Zell and Wikimedia Commons for the photograph and to Franz Eugen Kohler for the drawing.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This Is My Mom

This is my mom. We tend to be a sentimental bunch--easy tears, nervous stomachs--but we counter that with silliness and ironic awareness. Happy Mother's Day to my mom and to all moms and to everybody born of a mother. Once again, a Middletown quotation comes to mind:

MALE DOCTOR: (speaking to Mary Swanson, about to have a baby) ...Don't forget--it's so easy to forget, but--everyone in the world was born. Try to name someone who wasn't? You can't. So just be a part of the whole crazy thing. The rest is details, little tests, taps of a tiny hammer.

And so on.

And now, lest I get too sentimental, teary-eyed, and lump-in-the-throatish, I offer this Mother's Day card from Facebook:

And so on.

(And it's a Thor's Day on a Sunday in the blog because of the tiny hammer. And also a Random Coinciday for perhaps obvious reasons. And, even if my son doesn't read this, the deli counter person at Jewel loved my haiku t-shirt!!)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yesteryear in Today's City of Tomorrow

Actors have little "secrets" some-times, something they know about the character that isn't overt in the script and won't be made manifest to the audience but that might give depth or power or nuance to their performances. Sometimes these "secrets" arise in back story or character study, and sometimes they occur during the rehearsal circumstances.

Here's one of mine. Actually more than one. These are book-related secrets. Surprise, surprise.

As The Librarian in Middletown, a role I played recently at Heartland Theatre, I lock up the library one evening and head home with my book bag, putting into it two books-in-progress, with bookmarks in them, and keeping out one book that I open and read aloud to the audience. It is, fictionally, Yesteryear in Today's City of Tomorrrow, the story of the history of the settlement of Middletown, back to the Chakmawg Indian days.

This was, in fact, an ex-library book, call number on the spine, and I wrote in the margins "in a bright red pen" the things the script says are written there: "anxiety, sickness, death, spiritual," and, a few pages later, "atmosphere." I also provided the blue barrette used as a bookmark by the imaginary child reader who wrote those words in the book's margins.

The other two books in my book bag were, in fact, books I was in the middle of reading, too intense to continue during the rehearsal and performance process: The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa, with a melancholy narrator rather like John Dodge, one of the main characters of Middletown, and When I Was a Child I Read Books, by Marilynne Robinson, chosen by me because it is intelligent, rigorous, has "child" and "books" in the title, and relates to my attempt to remind a smart, writerly guy, The Mechanic, who he is, was, and will be if he can figure out how to live "in the middle of all of our different ideas about life."

The book bag was my AWP Chicago 2012 book bag with red handles that matched my red Converse high tops. Yes, my entire costume was from my own closet, a sort of goofy outfit I have, I hate to confess it, actually worn in real life: blue flower print, um, "clown" pants; pale beige button-down shirt; navy blue sweater with beige and brown embroidered fall leaves, plus gold stitching at the edges and random shiny beads; and said red high tops.

Costumer secret: The Everyman, Earthmother, and Essential Child characters in the play all wore Converse high tops: black, red, and gray. So now you know.

P.S. Sunglasses were almost invented in Middletown.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May Flowers

What's blooming? Well, in my yard: blue bugleweed, pale lavender creeping phlox, white bleeding heart, dark purple lilacs, yellow lamium, and one straggler of a red tulip. The yellow tulips are all gone. The mauve columbine are soon to open. And maybe the sky blue flax.

Over at Escape Into Life, many flower poems have bloomed, alongside spectacular floral arrangements by David LaChapelle. Really, look closely. Some of them are pretty eerie. Or funny. As well as beautiful. For instance, I wouldn't want to cut my lip on that wine glass. But somebody already has!

And this one's called Wilting Gossip. Isn't that a foot? And a smoking cigarette? And, of course, a tabloid.

Meanwhile, the mountain bluets and lilies of the valley are rising up! The hosta are unfurling their twisted tongues. Oh, and the myrtle are blooming. And the dandelions. And a yellow poppy.

More to come, soon! Virtual and botanical.

Monday, May 6, 2013


My play is done, and I'll be getting back into my regular irregular routine pretty soon. Must clear off desk and clean the house!

But once the show, Middletown, was up and running, I did manage to read Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell, by Deborah Solomon, discovering that, like me, he made up a word for a certain kind of day. Just as I have the Random Coinciday, Cornell had the "eterniday," the one that lingers on forever, extending melancholy into a permanent state in which one wears a bathrobe.

Or something like that.

I love Joseph Cornell's boxes, his assemblage, and I can't help but love him, an odd man with a love of sweets. Of course lines from the Prologue of Middletown, by Will Eno, seem to apply. Cornell was one of the "gentle gentle people, infinitely injured, lost souls, ghouls, ghosts, descendants, shades, shadows, future ancestors" that Eno celebrates in his play, down to the "last lone dying and inconsolably lonely person" lying on his couch on Utopia Parkway. What a great name for a street.

I wish I could add Eterniday to my list of eight days a week here in the blog, but I think I must leave it to Joseph Cornell.

Or use it sparingly.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Big Poetry Giveaway 2013 Winners

The winners of the 2013 Big Poetry Giveaway are Ted Tingley, who will receive Nocturnes (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2012) and Allyson Whipple, who will receive They Say This, an anthology of poems and essays edited by Richard Jones.  They Say This = Numbers 47-48 of Poetry East, a wonderful literary journal. I'll contact the two winners for their addresses and send off the books as soon as it stops raining around here, so I can walk to the post office!

I understand that today is also Ted Tingley's 57th wedding anniversary, so congratulations to Ted and Ellen for a long and happy (!!!) marriage. It's a wonderful thing to have a longtime companion and to have kids and grandkids. And flowers. And work you enjoy. And a sense of humor. You are a lucky couple!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Never Never Land

The story of Peter Pan was something that charmed and slightly scared me in childhood: lost boys, lost mothers, not being able to get home...  And I get Mary Martin's voice in my head, singing the phrase "never never land" from the musical play, and her wonderful rendition of "I Won't Grow Up." Did I actually see this play, on tour? I think so, yes! Did we have the record of it? I don't know.

Somewhere in there I also saw the Disney animated feature, also charming.

Anyhoo, some Peter Pan and Never-land inspired poems are up today at Escape Into Life, by Sally Rosen Kindred, along with other fairy tale evocations and enchanting but scary art by Ai Shinohara. (Is that beautiful fish eating that girl's heart out?)

I've been phenomenally busy with the play, Middletown. One of my fellow actresses also loves Peter Pan. It's the last weekend of the show, coming up after 3 much-needed restful days off, with real spring outside, yellow tulips blooming, white bleeding heart, lavender creeping phlox.

Last night I watched Finding Neverland again, with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, and that sweet, sweet boy, but I fell asleep....