Luckily for me

and my resolution to be more timely with Poetry Monday, a wonderful chapbook, “Little Oceans” by Tony Hoagland, arrived in the mail today.  I’ve posted his poems before, and some of these I’d read before, but I was so glad to spend a little time with his work, and his particular view of America that is piercing, unsparing, and doesn’t let any of us (including himself) off the hook.  Here’s a sample.


is not the beginning of a sentence
you hear often uttered in my household.
If she wants to make a career comeback
and her agent pushes her into the MTV awards show
but she can’t lose the weight beforehand

and so looks chubby in a spangled bikini
before millions of fanged, spiteful fans and enemies,
then gets a little drunk beforehand
so misses a step in the dance routine

making her look, one critic says,
like a “comatose piglet,”

well, it wasn’t by accident, was it?
that she wandered into that late 20th century glitterati party
of striptease American celebrity? Continue reading “Luckily for me”

Sorting through the boxes

Have you saved every letter you ever got and every photo you ever took? It seems we have, boxes and boxes of them, moved from house to house, stored in attics, garages, rented storage spaces. We moved 21 times in the last 40 years, although we did spend 23 years in one house. We’ve discarded so much in the process, but these boxes moved each time, with the idea that… Well, it’s hard to remember the exact idea that made these items worth saving.

Going through them now, discarding letters from people I can’t remember, wondering what to do with letters from the dead, I do find random pieces of our history, like this, the receipt for $25 the first month’s rent on the first place Larry and I lived together, a moldy, decrepit and perfectly wonderful float house on Cowichan Lake in Youbou, BC. We rented it from Mr. and Mrs. Gold.

Youbou recipt_optLooking at this receipt brings back that month, March, 1969, living on practically nothing in that drafty cabin with its smelly oil stove and gorgeous setting. I remember the shyness of first living with someone, listening to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, Cream, the Chambers Brothers, Dylan–all new to me, learning to add cinnamon to French Toast, friends visiting from California, various adventures and misadventures.

1942 Float House at Camp 6_opt Continue reading “Sorting through the boxes”

Revising the blogroll

I realized that the list of blogs I read is out of date, so am updating.

While I occasionally look at A Way to Garden, I’d rather find a more nuts and bolts gardening site.

I’ve kept Gina Gotsill’s blog about preserving, but she needs to post more often.

It’s language like this that made me delete Bookslut from my list:

“The phrase “semantic polarities” could be profitably switched out for the drama of becoming, because this is what Ugazio describes. Everyone wants not only to acquire certain material or sensual benefits but also to become the sort of person who would acquire these benefits, and to be seen as this precise sort of person in the eyes of others.”

Of course, that’s the blog for you if you like that sort of thing.

Harriet Devine continues to be a wonderful source for book suggestions, and I still enjoy the Mark on the Wall, Lisa Jones’ poetry selections.

I’ave added a food blog with some excellent recipes, Serious Eats.

But I’ve dropped a few other literary blogs as not very interesting. I realize this leaves me with a very short list!

Any suggestions?


I’d love to hear about other good sources–yes, besides the overwhelming Facebook posts!

Monday miscellany

Thanks to MLK, who has given the working world a much-needed day of respite after everyone goes back to work after the holidays.  I hope, like me, you are taking the day slowly, in robe and slippers. Of course, as Larry says about retirement, “It’s great not to be able to tell the difference between regular days and holidays.”

nashI was reminded, via a poem about a martini sent by a friend, of Ogden Nash. I can remember reading his “light verse” in the New Yorker when I was 10 or 12, thinking it was brilliant. He’s pretty much forgotten now, but if you think of him in context, only one generation older than Pound and Eliot, and remember the straight jacket most poets were struggling to get out of, the weight of his lightness is more impressive.  Here are two short samples:

A Word to Husbands

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.  Continue reading “Monday miscellany”

Mueller on Monday

My New Year’s resolution this year is to read the Constitution. Both lawyers I know who have taken Constitutional Law in law school, confess to not having read it all. They’ve focused on the case law around the document, and read parts of it.  I mention this because I’d also like to be a little more timely with poetry Monday–not a resolution, but an intention.

MuellerI don’t know much about Lisel Mueller other than that her family left Nazi Germany when she was 15, but I wandered into the main Berkeley library the other day and looking for a selection of Marianne Moore (which was not on the shelf) and took out a selection of her poems instead. I found them engaging and accessible.  She will be 90 this year!

Here are a couple of short selections: Continue reading “Mueller on Monday”

A brief survey

CowlickThis lazy Sunday morning the phone rang. It was an airline from which Larry had recently purchased a ticket. Thinking there might be a problem, he answered. It turned out to be yet another request for a moment of his time for a brief survey about his experience. Larry hung up.

“The experience was just fine except for the call about the survey,” he fumed. “I’d like to ask them why they think so little of my time that they can have it for free.”

Continue reading “A brief survey”

Emu egg and kitchen gadgets

ostrich egg_optI’m having a slow recovery from the holidays, though I can hardly blame the California weather.

One of the highlights of our holiday breakfasts was an Emu egg I got at the farmers’ market. It was about 7″ long, and I calculated it was about 6 eggs worth of egg. We drilled holes in either end, blew out the egg, and made a frittata.  Then I packed the shell away with the Christmas ornaments. Continue reading “Emu egg and kitchen gadgets”

Starting the new year with a poem

This one is by Octavio Paz, a Mexican poet:

January First

pazThe year’s doors open
like those of language,
toward the unknown.
Last night you told me:
we shall have to think up signs,
sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page of day and paper.
Tomorrow, we shall have to invent,
once more,
the reality of this world.

I opened my eyes late.
For a second of a second
I felt what the Aztec felt,
on the crest of the promontory,
lying in wait
for time’s uncertain return Continue reading “Starting the new year with a poem”