Story and poem

From that same issue of Poetry East I mentioned earlier, I came across a poem by Thomas Lynch, another poet new to me.  His day job is listed variously as funeral director or undertaker, a thought-provoking trade for a poet. I imagine it keeps him grounded. In this issue of the magazine, each poet writes a note about the poem. Lynch has a section about how he composes when he has writers’ block and concludes with this:

“Truth told, this multi-media approach results in remarkable disappointments–poems of such abundant mediocrity that I burn them or affix to them the names of poets I dislike and post them to The New Yorker.   Continue reading “Story and poem”

More art, inside and out

At the Met, the permanent collections, the paintings that you just pass by on the way to the “exhibits,” are so compelling. It’s strange to think of people simply strolling by something like Henri Regnault’s giant image of Salome (1870) with eyes too full to notice it, but I’m sure it happens all the time. I like to go see her, though, she’s a stunner.

And outside, it was April in Paris, except NY. The weather was clement, the trees in blossom and the streets full of people in a reasonably good mood.

Here are two quick snaps, the first as I walked through Central Park, the second downtown. Continue reading “More art, inside and out”

Hype and some heart

At the Met in NY this week there is a small exhibit of pen and ink drawings by Dürer and others. The exhibit is just three rooms. I liked many by German artists I’d never heard of, like this one from 1549, Behan’s aptly titled Head of a Man Wearing a Hat, Sticking Out His Tongue and Facing Right.

There was another man in a hat, this one “gazing upward” by Martin Schongauer from the 1400s, that I liked, too. And a couple of lovely drawings that had just a hint of color, from the 1500s, by Hans Hoffmann:






Of course, there were several wonderful Dürer drawings also.  I especially enjoyed his study of six pillows, done when he was 22. You can almost see him working to get the shading right–to use pen and ink on paper to achieve dimensionality. Continue reading “Hype and some heart”

Oops, one more

Just when I thought I was finished with this topic for the moment, I came across this poem in an old copy of Poetry East.

How Western Underwear Came to Japan

When Tokyo’s Shirokiya Drygoods caught fire
in the thirties, shopgirls tore the shelves’ kimonos
and knotted them in ropes. Older women used
both hands, descending safely from the highest floor,
though their underskirts flew up around their hips.


The crowded street saw everything beneath–
ankles, knees, the purple flanges of their sex.
Vesus the younger girls careful keeping
one hand pinned against their skirts, against
the nothing under them and their silk falling.


Last in this series

To finish this three-part series, a few months ago I heard a poem by L. A. Jones, a fellow attendee of the Squaw Valley Poetry Workshop, and recognized snippets from NPR–snippets that related to information that I’d heard and pondered and half-forgotten.  I liked what she did with these and Lisa graciously allowed me to publish:


A petting zoo in your mouth
your furry mouth
all that fur in your mouth

it could break your heart

unable to talk.

Continue reading “Last in this series”

More awakenings

Following yesterday’s post about poems that try to make sense of the constant data we swim in, here’s one by Dean Young, from his booking, Fall Higher. The Tony in this poem is the Tony Hoagland from yesterday.

Some Recent and New Errors

My books are full of mistakes
but not the ones Tony’s always pointing out
as if correct spelling is what could stop the conveyor belt
the new kid caught his arm in.

Awake in America

How can we process the barrage of data in which we live? It’s hard to make sense of the huge events that shape current history, and yet here they are, paraded in front of us replayed at 6, 9, 10, 11 and in-between, mingled with small horrors, trivia, obligation, inspiration–an overwhelming soup, seasoned with complicity and powerlessness.

Tony Hoagland and Dean Young are poets whose work seems to me to address this in particular. So I thought I’d post a few poems over the next few days–one by each of them, a few by others. Let me know what you think.


Then one of the students with blue hair and a tongue stud
Says America is for him a maximum security prison whose walls

Are made of Radio Shacks and Burger Kings, and MTV episodes
Where you can’t tell the show from the commercials;

Continue reading “Awake in America”

Preparing for Passover

As the chickens begin to lay eggs in earnest, the spring festivals approach. It’s no accident that these events require a lot of eggs–in my house, we need them for Passover. My pale green Americana eggs go perfectly with the holiday, and I’m supplementing with quail eggs, as these should please the children especially and be fun to peel and dip in salt water. Continue reading “Preparing for Passover”

California’s got four

San Francisco’s fine,
You sure get lots of sun,
But I’m used to four seasons,
California’s got but one.
cc                               California, Bob Dylan

When I first came here, I thought Dylan was right about the seasons, though not so much about sunny San Francisco! In the over 40 years I’ve lived here, I’ve learned to appreciate the subtlety of the seasons: the parched summers when the hills bake from a golden beige to tired, brittle brown, the way the brown shades into blue as the rains come. Then the blue intensifies, slowly greening over the rainy winter, till one sudden day, like yesterday, you notice that the hills have turned a green to rival Ireland. For a week or ten days they are so green, you want to roll around in the grass–a mistake, as it’s full of prickles! I’ve had some serious misadventures based on those intoxicating hills. Then in another moment they turn from an unbearably luxuriant green to a yellow-green, to the gold of early summer, and the process starts over.   Continue reading “California’s got four”