zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
As I wait for "Voodoo Blue" to set, a few notes:

Signal boosting, because she asked: JJ Hunter's How Are You in Haiku

I have resumed my (somewhat-out-sequence) listening to various episodes of the Moby Dick Big Read, thanks to 7.5 hours on the road today. Melville is both ridiculous and hilarious. I am so glad that I was not his copyeditor.

My friend Donna has a fine riff about the book over at Radish Reviews. In the meantime, here's one of the passages that cheered me along I-81 today:

The skeleton dimensions [of a sperm whale] I shall now proceed to set down are copied verbatim from my right arm, where I had them tattooed; as in my wild wanderings at that period, there was no other secure way of preserving such valuable statistics. But as I was crowded for space, and wished the other parts of my body to remain a blank page for a poem I was then composing--at least, what untattooed parts might remain--I did not trouble myself with the odd inches; nor, indeed, should inches at all enter into a congenial admeasurement of the whale.

Also? Praise be for the recording app on my phone. Listening to Moby Dick sparked some poem ideas (both original and found), as did just having to concentrate on the road (i.e., not having the luxury of scribbling out the simmerings in my head) for 441-odd miles.

Also? I haven't managed to memorize Modah ani yet, but my thoughts drifted to it a lot during the drive. Sorrow is a sharpener, and so is simply being away from my usual groove. The clouds looked unnaturally picturesque -- there was a weirdly clean upper border to them, as if someone had drawn an exacto blade through part of the sky. There were yellow wildflowers (for whatever values of "wild" you want to ascribe to anything along the highway) near the Tennessee-Virginia border. My thoughts skittered from my parents' ashes to shape-note singing to wondering if I'll ever get to experience an Enfoir├ęs concert in person to my personal boycott of ATP-only tennis tournaments, to sketches of poems I want to finish drafting by September. This wild and precious life. So much to ask about where things are going, including the beloved creatures that have ceased to be on this plane.
zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
The snarling: The local mainstream daily has endorsed Romney. This is not a surprise: it reported Tuesday's debate as a draw, and the Monday Opinions page (the op-ed page was replaced by full-page ads a couple of years ago) is little better than a hash of advertorials (masquerading as "Tennessee Voices"), a so-called Teachable Moment (Monday's was on Nietzsche), and 3-5 letters.

My main encounter with the paper is on Mondays, since I'm part of the Talking Library team that reads it aloud. Mornings like this, I wonder whether my two hours (+ commute) should be applied to something else.

The cursing: My friend Marissa Lingen has published a fun story with the title of "Cursed Motives." It features a princess of the non-helpless variety. There are links to the podcast and text versions here.

The splashing: Today's Google Doodle is in honor of Moby Dick.
zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
Yesterday, the Velveteen Rabbi posted a Yom Kippur sermon, In The Belly of the Whale, that's richly seeded with stories, including this one...

My teacher Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi tells a Sufi story about a great teacher whose disciples wanted to learn his mystical wisdom. Okay, said the teacher; here is a dove; go someplace where no one can see you, and kill it, and when you come back, I will teach you what you want to know.

Of his 12 students, eleven came back with dead birds, and he sent them away. One returned with the living dove. "I couldn't find a place," said the student, "where no One could see me."

...and question-observations that are at once not easy and un-easy (myself shying away from the mirror as I choose a quote):

How much of our lives do we spend fleeing from what matters? From the awareness of our mortality? From the acts of lovingkindness we know we should be doing? From the brokenness of the world, the awful stories on the news, murder and rape and injustice? Even from our loved ones, when we choose checking email again on our smartphones rather than putting away the electronics and connecting with our parents, our children, ourselves?

This is not new. The internet offers new and fascinating ways of fleeing, but this inclination is as old as humanity.

Also yesterday: 7x20 published my micropoem "Yom Kippur."

Also: on Tuesday, Moment published a review of my book (quoting from my Kol Nidre poem, among others).

One more thing on whales: Moby Dick Big Read -- as in, Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, Neil Tennant, and others podcasting That Big Book. Whee!


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October 2017

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