zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
[Today's subject line is from Frank O'Hara's Having a Coke with You, which I encountered via a marvelous introduction by the keeper of the Read A Little Poetry blog.]

I hadn't planned on writing any full poems today -- the reasons I worked a nonstop 12-hour stretch yesterday are not yet dispatched to the land of Done -- but I do have one soon-closing-market's guidelines stored on my bookmarks bar, and when I clicked on it earlier this morning (largely in a Please Let Some Fun Prompt Park in My Head To Amuse Me While I De-skank My Kitchen Floor instead of Brain Hamster-Wheeling Ad Pointlessium Through All the Things I Have to Crank Through Tres Vite), some conversations that took place the past two days tilted into the brainpan and twined-extended-curled themselves into a new story. Eventually.

Today I also produced several batches of tomato pumpkin bao . . . .

Tomato Art Fest 2018

. . . . and ran into various people from various circles in the course of wandering around my neighborhood's annual Tomato Art Fest, and inadvertently accomplished some Christmas shopping, and picked up a yard sign for my preferred vice mayor candidate (#TeamTorah) from the voter registration booth. I have also spilled sparkling wine on the gas bill, transplanted two Christmas pepper seedlings, made anchoïade (so tasty on pak choi!), boiled a potful of peanuts, and tugged at a few weeds around hollyhocks I didn't plant. (Yay for self-seeding!) I received some invitations and queries this week that have eased a bit of the ache/insecurity of not being as important to various people as I used to be (the head totally gets it -- it's not as if I stay on top of personal messages or correspondence myself -- but it has to quell the tendencies of my inner eight-year-old (and eighteen-year-old, for that matter) to grieve wholly foreseeable results and turns. I contain multitudes, and they are sometimes seriously tiresome.

But I also received a sparkly-fun six page letter from Rae today, and the BYM has been good about sending me updates from the road, and my poem "Decorating a Cake While Listening to Tennis" (text and audio) is now up at Rattle (it appeared in print earlier this summer). And, I just soaked for as long as I wanted in my tub, with the water as deep and as hot as I could make it, with a stack of magazines (mostly from my mom-in-law) and a fragrant candle (from my gal Rooo) and a box of matches with a Conan Doyle quote (from my assistant). Any one of these things would have been viewed by eight- or eighteen-year-old me as a very special treat -- and I get to enjoy them practically every day. It is wondrous to have these things, and I do not take them -- or, really, anything of comfort or convenience or connection -- for granted.
zirconium: illustration of boots for a fic I wrote (Hooch's boots)
Green Hills Starbucks, 6:30 am

I'd hoped to stay in bed, but duty called,
but had I not been out I wouldn't have stopped
for the slow treat of a tall peppermint mocha.

Although I had the pew-bench all to myself,
the shop seemed full of congregants --
a grizzled gentleman holding forth on Churchill,
younger creatures conferring on clothes for clubbing,

and who-knows-what-fresh-hell-now unspooling
across the phone and laptop screens. I'm too far away
to see what's being said, and I am fine with that,

for right now all I want is to steep in the sweetness
of sitting still, of studying glass
being both filter and mirror, night-edged research
sharing its margins with daybreak, the sky

the pink of the Christmas cactus blooms at my house,
the plants flowering on, beyond the carols and candles.
zirconium: medical instruments @High Point Doll Museum (medical instruments (miniature))
[The subject line is from Bei Dao's New Year, translated by David Hinton.]

Culling unloved photos from the drives --
blurry loaves, a squinting ex,
streaks alluding to nights that no one
else this side of the afterworld can recall,
much less light up with the lived-through-it --

my husband peers at my screen, asking
about my codes while knowing
I'm not going to make any sense.
On cue, he groans. I kiss his neck,
advise him just to call our advisor
should I get hit by a pedal tavern.

"I will," he says, "after I burn
all the pedal taverns down." "I'll do
my best not to get nailed by one." He nods
with feeling. I've seen him throw
whole albums into bins, and
t-shirts into rag-piles. I myself flung
his aunt's old clippings and ledgers
into the dumpster -- records I would
have loved to pore over, some other lifetime,
but there was no time to spare and no room
and even what I hauled back's since been further
"curated" down to what I can swear
I'll probably wear, and even then
I still have to tell myself, "Get real!
No one's going to study your dozens of drafts,
let alone save them, and that's not even
how you'd want them to spend their days, not
when the world will still need defending
from despots, not to mention
friskier frolics--" I want to be
the kind of ghost that kicks their butts
into dancing alone at the disco
should they want to dance when no one else is game
and the strength in their no when they know
they're overdue for tea with just the trees.
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
Down the street . . .

Hanging onto my hourglass-sand-scoured ride
as it swerves and dips, wrenches and screeches
its way through the jagged turn of this year
onto the fog-wreathed bridge of the next --

the first of many gauntlets waiting ahead.
Some may well dissolve with huffing and puffing
but I have seen what straw can devour --

like plague, like lava -- as it fans out within flames,
rippling, ripping everything near the fury
into indiscernable ruins. Ninety years hence --

or just nineteen, or hell, even nine --
this story will be ancient, all too possibly buried
beneath triumphant lies. But meantime, meanwhile -- time notwithstanding --

meanness must be countered, rugs rolled away
for air to meet rot, hearths unwalled
to hands trained in mending and measuring what's true.

Down the street . . .


For another stare-and-riff inspired by this site, see Frames at Vary the Line.
zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
(FIGO Pasta, West Midtown Atlanta)

The mockingbirds
have been trilling all night

while myrtles groan
like neglected doors.

The moon shines above
the neighbor's roof

among the shreds
of party pink clouds

one more thing
not yet put away

among the snapshots
and sketches
and samples

forming my nest
of songs to be hatched

before the keyholes
kiss encroaching walls

before mortality
mandates a morning
of trowel and mortar --

old clay,
new seals.
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
[Inspired by a typo-line in Mary's entry: "I don't know, really, want to do with it." And by the fact that I can't find the sexy sufganiyot poem I thought I'd published 12-15 years ago but perhaps simply sent during an e-mail exchange with a friend that has since disappeared, what with friend and I both moving on to other accounts and machines. Oh, and yesterday would have been my mother's 72nd birthday. That might be on my mind as well.]

I don't know, really, what to want about them,
the doughnuts I was sure I'd brought along.
Did they fall off the roof of the car, my
forgetfulness feeding birds or strays
or sweeten the tires of a semi? How
the ghosts growl, the ones who couldn't
forgive the other lapses of attention:
the textbooks and sneakers and cups of coffee
inadvertently littering Lancaster,
Kimbark, Burns -- all those streets
and avs anointed by my distraction.
How wasteful. How pointless -- and
perhaps a rebuke? for I confess
my plan to give was flavored with
the hope of gaining points: pastries
paving the way for projects in need
of green lights, grease, goodwill -- you
know, the unwritten blessings
that separate the inn-mates
from those consigned to the barn. Yes,
a reprimand: see the servant candle
sharing the night with ones expressly
saved for the sameach, that light no others
because they were cast for the holiday.
So why do I long -- aye, pray -- that those donuts
met with the fate of loaves rather than lilies,
I who sit with my thermos of coffee
amid the waiting ledgers and lists?
I don't know what I'm ready to want
beyond the age-old cravings --
one more night, one more meal,
one more story, one more hug
that always and forever were an asking too much
and yet, oh wondrous world, were sometimes answered.

Night 4
zirconium: Photo of graduated cylinder with black and blue feathers (measured 1)
Upper Rubber Boot prompt 18: spokesman

My copy of Jim Ottaviani's Suspended in Language is on loan to a friend, so you get this instead:

18 - spokesman

Sir Mark Oliphant, in Ann Mozley Moyal's Portraits in Science:

I was a member of a group that was led by Niels Bohr, after the test in Alamogordo, that was very much against the use of this new weapon on civilian cities. Niels Bohr, who was our spokesman -- which was a pity in some ways, because his English wasn't good and [laughs] his wife told me his Danish was almost as bad -- but he became our spokesman and was very very good and persistent in his approach.

  • Wikipedia's Pauli effect entry, which links to my sonnet about same

  • A Particular Truth--1941 - on Bohr and Heisenberg

  • At Teaching Resources, which obtained it via Moving Poems, which features Nic Sebastian's take as well: Othniel Smith's video remix of "Playing Duets with Heisenberg's Ghost"
  • zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    from one side of the gate

    August Moon day 8 prompt:
    I sat outside and told my secrets to the moon. This was her reply: ....

    The sun was high in the sky when I rose
    and yet cannot melt
    tiaras into bullets
    or bullets into bedpans
    or bedpans into spades

    nor coax fresh fruit
    from smothered seeds.

    Who are you to despair
    at stones not turned
    and leaves no longer new

    when you stand but a step
    and a hinge-life away
    from a sky with different answers?

    from the other side of the gate


  • Both photos were taken earlier tonight.

  • I took a break between stanzas to walk some magazines around the corner. There is already the scent of burning leaves in the air.
  • zirconium: medical instruments @High Point Doll Museum (medical instruments (miniature))
    August Moon Day 7 prompt: I pull back the curtain and I see...

    Bercy, 2011

    ...a game between strangers
    who see each other often
    but not away
    from the courts
    or the parties

    just as I blink
    stumbling into someone
    out of their Sunday best
    as I exit a shower

    -- yes, a fig leaf
    would fool me.
    My garden is thick
    with saplings
    so green
    they would smother
    an angel's sword
    with all
    of their wayward

    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    August Moon prompt: There is something about twilight that makes me feel...

    also on the rogue rosebush

    ... like I've barely begun
    to study the roses

    and that I'll still feel
    I've barely begun
    my life

    twenty-four summers hence
    should I be
    so lucky

    to grow
    past my prime

    zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
    August Moon Day 4 prompt: So I had a conversation with my shadow...


    ... where she asked me what kind of net
    I would want to knot

    were time no object
    and money no limit

    men's spa/salon

    I said to her, I
    am both oil and water
    whip and trench
    slipper and shard
    caper and crutch

    Down the street

    I'll meet you at the corner
    where the wind
    has been whisking
    shreds of tealeaves
    past the lost screws
    of stray sunglasses.

    zirconium: sunflower core against the sky (sunflower sentinel)
    Cox Arboretum
    Cox Arboretum, Dayton, Ohio, August

    While the knives seek the pumpkins
    the fish glides along.

    aging zinnia zinnia
    Nashville, October

    Who will tell the zinnias
    it's long past Labor Day?

    A fun thing: last week, a verse I wrote was selected for Pilgrims' Stride, and today the verse to follow it was picked. The most fun part seeing the sixty-some directions people pursued...

    A frustrating thing: local businesses failing to return phone calls.

    Today's work will include: mixing ink and cutting paper.

    Today's cooking will include: Greek cinnamon chicken. Maybe. The recipe looked like just the thing when I was reading it in bed last night, but we have neither bay leaves nor dry white wine in the house, nor (uncharacteristically) onions (not counting the scant quarter-cup in my freezer). Hmmm.
    zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
    a slip on the tongue...

    This morning's fortune

    slivers of memory:
    grapefruit soda
    and mellow Malbecs


    time to step back
    a step away away from the wreck
    there being so much
    to learn about breathing
    before the next dive
    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    (1) Lunch (at Rice Paper) and ice cream (at Sebastian Joe's) with M'ris and Timprov. There were a number of "Yep, I'm in Scandosota" moments during this trip: among them was listening to the others discussing reindeer castration while I dug into my Nicollet Avenue Pothole sundae. :-)

    (2) There's an interview of me at the Moving Poems Forum.

    (3) A few weeks ago, LiAnn Yim posted praise for inkscrawl at her blog.
    zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
    It's a wonderful world, y'all. A bloke in Cardiff, Othniel Smith, found Nic Sebastian's reading of "Playing Duets with Heisenberg's Ghost" at the Poetry Storehouse and was moved to make a videopoem of it:

    "Playing Duets with Heisenberg’s Ghost" by Peg Duthie from OTHNIEL SMITH on Vimeo.

    (Amplifying the pleasure: hearing about the video not only from Nic but from Rachel, whose d'var Torah on wrestling with angels has me thinking about how "face" and "facet" are only one letter apart; Sarah Sloat's poems at the Storehouse, which I will want to spend more time with later; and the cheap but nonetheless distinct thrill of seeing that if one Googles "Heisenberg's ghost" or "Heisenberg duets," the above video shows up first. [insert joke about Schrodingerian search results...])

    In other news, the BYM's biking bestie brought breakfast to our house yesterday and (in celebration) I showed her all the spent enoxaparin syringes I'd collected in the box another friend had sent chocolates in. (Long story short: the BYM underwent surgery twice last month, which [among other things] necessitated thirty-nine anticoagulant shots, which neither he nor I ever got used to administering; the process was just as awful on day 39 as it was on day 1, especially since he had no padding on him to begin with and has since lost 10-15 pounds.) I mentioned that I had a couple of art projects in mind; the BYM furrowed his brow and made a squinchy face at me, but the bestie's face lit up, and she said, "If you don't end up doing something with them, I will." Have I said lately how much my friends delight me? :-)
    zirconium: Photo of graduated cylinder with black and blue feathers (measured 1)
    Nic Sebastian has added a video of "Playing Duets with Heisenberg's Ghost" to The Poetry Storehouse.
    zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
    Nic Sebastian has created a recording of Playing Duets with Heisenberg's Ghost and uploaded it to The Poetry Storehouse. Squee!

    Christmas cactus bud

    The first buds on the Christmas cactus in our library room have appeared. The plant is from one of my mother's plants, which I split into three smaller plants this year. I haven't had much luck with small cuttings/breakings (I did get some to root this summer, but then rain or critters got the better of them), but the three big chunks from the mama plant (so to speak) seem to be doing fine.

    The first fall frost of the year will hit us any day now, so Saturday's chores included harvesting the last of the Kentucky Colonel mint:

    final harvest
    zirconium: corner of dormant tulip bed (corner)
    An invitation to remix: five poems at The Poetry Storehouse (which I heard about from Rachel Barenblat). Come and play!


    It's looking like the first fall frost may hit us this Sunday, so I will be devoting part of my Saturday to tucking kraft paper, dog hair (to continue deterring bunnies), and mulch around the hollyhocks. The yard provided an excellent therapy break this afternoon: things had gotten messy around the Kentucky Colonel mint. Detangling it perfumed my hands, and clearing away the weeds and stray leaves and weeds soothed my mind.

    And now I'm going to make shrimp korma, and then dive back into work.
    zirconium: illustration of boots for a fic I wrote (Hooch's boots)
    While shuffling some other papers into new boxes, I came across a folder from my time at Michigan. In addition to the usual assortment of notes and photocopies, it also yielded five diphenhydramine/hydrochloride capsules, a half-painted nail, and a 22-page draft of "Ugly Kings and Happy Endings: Orfeo, Pericles and Political Anxiety in English Romance" (my paper for English 731) with a bit of advice from my housemate Eric in the upper right-hand corner: "write the best paper you can in the time you have."

    7x20 featured two micro-pieces of mine this week:
  • Shakespeare festival

  • Athens
  • zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
    This morning, the funny little yellow fungi had faded into tiny orange shreds. The sky was showing signs of incoming rain, but I looked at the weather forecast (20% chance of precipitation) and decided to err on the side of over-saturation and watered the beds and the planters (the arugula and the radishes have already germinated!).

    Naturally, 3/4 through my hospital shift, the only thing the people in the halls were talking about was the rain pelting down -- in part because it wasn't coming down, but falling sideways. In both directions. After my shift, I treated myself to a cup of hot chocolate from the machine in the lounge and peeked through a magazine that was so stupid I could feel my brain cells shriveling like the folds of fungi. (I like mind candy as much as the next bubblehead, but you know how there's good candy, okay candy, and corn-syrup-mixed-with-sock-lint candy? Yeah.)

    The rain's eased up. The shoots of fungi have revived, upright again and back to bright yellow. Time to make lunch and find my groove...

    In news news, there are three new poems to see...
    Clinging (at Escape Into Life)
    Even an Empty Life Can Hold Water (at Inkscrawl)
    Making Rice Dance (also at Inkscrawl)


    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)

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