Sunday, April 30, 2006

Fifty Abstract Paintings Which as Seen from Two Yards Change...

into Three Lenins Masquerading as Chinese and as Seen from Six Yards Appear as the Head of a Royal Bengal Tiger.

Salvador Dali - (Classic period) - 1963

What The Muse Dragged In...


Thursday, April 27, 2006


This is my Blog”, they snarl, “and I’ll do what I bloody well please.” True – our Blogs are our own but shouldn’t there be some general code that governs our expectations, (as Bloggers), of accepted social behavior in the Blogosphere. Of course this does not preclude the probability that there is in fact an (un)written code that already exists with regard to Blogging etiquette that I am unaware of as I am unabashedly a philistine of sorts when it comes to protocol & decorum. But in the spirit of pretending that I am not the crass twit that some think that I really am, I’d like to present a list of axioms that might well be implemented as rules of etiquette so as to make this a kinder, gentler Blogdom. (Please note that their sequence are not due to their order of importance.):

1) Do not steal another Blogger’s material - unless:

i) It’s damn good & then it’s every Blogger for themselves.

ii) No one would believe that they wrote it anyway.

iii) I’m the one doing the purloining.

2) Do not use profanity or erotica on your Blog - unless:

i) Your “hits counter” has been reading rather low lately.

ii) See number 4(i).

3) Do not ignore readers that post comments on your Blog - unless:

i) They are ignorant when it comes to poetics.

ii) Their posts are lame & uninformed.

iii) You just don’t like them

iv) You suspect that they are Republican.

v) You just don’t feel like acknowledging their existence.

4) Do not post comments on somebody else’s Blog - unless:

i) You’re sleeping with them & you’ve got some compromising photos then see (2)

ii) You’re totally smashed or buzzed.

iii) You adore the ground they walk on (or you’re just into dirt).

iv) You actually have something relevant to say – as if!

5) Do not gang up on another Blogger - unless:

i) You can convince yourself they had it coming anyway.

ii) They are completely clueless.

iii) They are without influential friends – if you know what I mean - wink… wink!

iv) You didn’t like their poetic disposition anyway.

6) Do not publicly humiliate another Blogger - unless:

i) You guessed it they deserved it - those cads.

ii) You enjoy flexing your superior intellect

iii) You didn’t “really mean to”!

7) Do not ignore another Poetry Blogger’s Blog - unless:

i) You really have a bad case of diarrhea & in which case you should be using your laptop and learn how to write with one hand while simultaneously flushing with the other.

ii) They are pseudo-intellectuals.

iii) You caught them secretly reading Maya Angelou.

8) Do not laugh at another Blogger’s faux pas - unless:

i) It’s really damn funny.

ii) You tell me first.

iii) You’re willing to get up in front of the class and tell everybody what’s so damn funny.

9) Don’t post denigrating anecdotes about yourself on your Blog - unless:

i) You guessed it you’ve got pictures.

ii) You’re completely out of material to Blog.

iii) You’ve missed your session & are in need of cathartic release.

10) Don’t be self-serving - unless:

i) Nobody else will do it for you.

ii) Your existence begins & ends with navel lint.

iii) You’re drunk.

iv) You’ve got nothing better to do on a Saturday night.

v) Hint: If you’re so self-serving that’s why you probably have nothing to do on a Saturday night.

11) Don’t Blog about etiquette - unless:

i) You know nothing about it.

ii) You’ll never adhere to it yourself.

iii) You’re so drunk that you think it’s Saturday night!

Of course this is by no means an exhaustive list & I invite anyone to concoct a list of their own or just add to this one which would of course be breaking rule number 1.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Take The Long Way Home

Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904) - "Polyphemus"
Oil on canvas
24 x 39 1/4 inches (61 x 100 cm)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Contemporary Poetry and Poetics

Volume VIII, Number 1
Fall/Winter 2006-2007 (Forthcoming: October 2)

Featured Poet: Mark Conway

Additional Poets: Rane Arroyo, Sarah Brownsberger, Nick Bruno, E.G. Burrows, Jared Carter, Heidi Czerwiec, Jeanine DeRusha, Taylor Graham, Carol Hamilton, Jason Huskey, Elizabeth Kirschner, Jeff Knorr, Frannie Lindsay, Richard O'Connell, Thomas Reynolds, Helen Ruggiero, Jordan Sanderson, J.D. Schraffenberger, Beth Simon, Lynn Strongin, Scott Welvaert

Essay: Claire Keyes on Marianne Boruch

Poets Reviewed: Linda Bierds, Mark Conway, Robert Crawford, Lance Larsen, Vivian Shipley

Cover Art Commentary: Gregg Hertzlieb on Dean Porter

From VPR List of Issues

Monday, April 24, 2006

Featured Translation: From "Poetry" - April 2006

In the Fog

by Giovanni Pascoli

I stared into the valley: it was gone—
wholly submerged! A vast flat sea remained,
gray, with no waves, no beaches; all was one.

And here and there I noticed, when I strained,
the alien clamoring of small, wild voices:
birds that had lost their way in that vain land.

And high above, the skeletons of beeches,
as if suspended, and the reveries
of ruins and of the hermit’s hidden reaches.

And a dog yelped and yelped, as if in fear,
I knew not where nor why. Perhaps he heard
strange footsteps, neither far away nor near—

echoing footsteps, neither slow nor quick,
alternating, eternal. Down I stared,
but I saw nothing, no one, looking back.

The reveries of ruins asked: “Will no
one come?” The skeletons of trees inquired:
“And who are you, forever on the go?”

I may have seen a shadow then, an errant
shadow, bearing a bundle on its head.
I saw—and no more saw, in the same instant.

All I could hear were the uneasy screeches
of the lost birds, the yelping of the stray,
and, on that sea that lacked both waves and beaches,

the footsteps, neither near nor far away.

Translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock - Poetry- April 2006

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What a Day For a Daydream.

Jean-Leon Gerome

Arab Encampment (1895)

Oil on canvas - 19 5/8 x 32 1/4 inches (50 x 82 cm)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Once Again I'm "Johnny-Come-Lately"...

Excerpt From: Camille Paglia's - "BREAK, BLOW, BURN."


Wanda Why Aren't You Dead

wanda when are you gonna wear your hair down
wanda. that's a whore's name
wanda why ain't you rich
wanda you know no man in his right mind want a
--------ready-made family----------------------------------05
why don't you lose weight
wanda why are you so angry
how come your feet are so goddamn big
can't you afford to move out of this hell hole
if i were you were you were you---------------------------10
wanda what is it like being black
i hear you don't like black men
tell me you're ac/dc. tell me you're a nympho. tell me you're
--------into chains
wanda i don't think you really mean that------------------15
you're joking. girl, you crazy
wanda what makes you so angry
wanda i think you need this
wanda you have no humor in you you too serious
wanda i didn't know i was hurting you---------------------20
that was an accident
wanda i know what you're thinking
wanda i don't think they'll take that off of you

wanda why are you so angry

i'm sorry i didn't remember that that that------------------25
that that that was so important to you

wanda you're ALWAYS on the attack

wanda wanda wanda i wonder

why ain't you dead

"A poem struggles to be born. The poet's mind is invaded by a raucous
gang of nags, snoops, gripers, and doomsayers. Wanda Coleman's
eponymous protagonist at first seems invisible. But the haranguing
voices, with their multiple points of view, gradually sketch her ghost
portrait, like a shimmering hologram. Making us share her exasperation
and despair, she gains substance and presence until by the end she
looms like an avenging Fury, beating off all opponents and willing the
poem into existence.

Coleman's vernacular is so alive it practically jumps off the page.
The snatches of boisterous conversation, as if overheard on the street
or through a window, become hilarious through sheer excess. We get
slang and profanity ("ain't," "goddamn") as well as African-American
syncopated speech rhythms and idiomatic verb forms (a man "want"
rather than "wants"; "girl, you crazy"; "you too serious"; 4, 16, 19).
There's a strange effect of claustrophobia yet speed, produced by the
absence of stanza breaks and full punctuation. We can't escape the
chattering racket. Language is an affliction or epidemic. Eleven
questions (including the title) stream by without a question mark
because the interrogators don't really want answers. Their loaded
questions are acts of hostile encroachment-or at least that's how the
poet processes them in her cynicism and fatigue.

Coleman's persona adopts a stoic silence like George Herbert's in "The
Quip," where the poet is derided by worldly temptations. Herbert
italicizes his inner voice ("But thou shalt answer, Lord, for me")
because it's unheard-or rather heard only by the reader. Coleman too
uses italics to signal her inner voice of resistance to materialism
and status envy: "wanda why are you so angry"(24). But Herbert's
serene, priestly detachment is impossible for a single mother with "a
ready-made family," deemed by others an obstacle to romance (4-5).
She's enmeshed in practical responsibilities.

This poem is a classic drama of an individual pitted against the
tyranny of the group. Coleman's protagonist is in transition between
generations, races, and social classes. Little solidarity is evident
within her home community, which is portrayed as competitive and
coercive. Her habits and nascent wishes snake through the grapevine
for review and debate by a catty chorus of family, friends, lovers,
neighbors, and coworkers. Whatever her aspirations or achievements,
she is doggedly judged by her appearance and male attachments. Even
wellmeaning advice becomes subtly undermining.

Everything about her needs to be fixed-according to the meddlers whose
critiques she has dangerously begun to internalize. Her hairdo isn't
black or hip enough. She's too fat, and her feet are too big. Her
pay's mingy, her apartment's a dump, and despite all that, she should
lighten up! Her sex life is under withering scrutiny: she's used
goods, with dependents in tow. She's uppity for shunning black men-a
cunning provocation, of course, if it comes from a black man trying to
seduce her (12). Even her exotic name is reductively redefined
("that's a whore's name"), making her scrabble for every iota of
identity (2). She's bullied to embellish: any kinkiness-bisexuality,
promiscuity, sadomasochism-would be better than her humdrum self

Her tormentors' baiting insinuations mire her in subtext. "I think you
need this" is a pusher's tagline coming from an intimate: drinks or
drugs are just the elixir to normalize her-or rather to make her
receptive to the speaker's hidden agenda (18). Banal or squalid scenes
are glimpsed as if by strobe light-episodes of insensitivity,
forgetfulness, or bad or careless sex ("i didn't know i was hurting
you / that was an accident," 20-21). Medical crises make the body yet
another betrayer. "I don't think they'll take that off of you": moles,
tumors, and unplanned pregnancies all look the same to an arbitrary,
impersonal health system (23).

Strangers patronize: "wanda what is it like being black"-as if she
were an anointed spokesman for her race, ready to recite on cue and
condense an epic to an anecdote (11). The bystanders' most
presumptuous claims-"i know what you're thinking" and "i don't think
you really mean that"-evict her from her own mental space (22, 15).
The pestering voices are as mechanical as a broken record: "if i were
you were you were you"; "that that that / that that that" (10, 25-26).
Fill in the blanks. The real "hell hole" is not her shabby flat but
the echo chamber of her overwrought brain (9). Words dull and drain or
infest with clichés. The poem's refrain is her anger, alleged by third
parties. Though we don't hear her responses, the climax-"wanda you're
ALWAYS on the attack"-becomes intelligible by increments: anger is her
energizer and defensiveness her armor, allowing her to think and write

In the poem's visual design, the dense mass of negative comment rises
like a black slab, a Tower of Babel. At the end, escaping lines float
free, as if the poem were taking breath. Slowly gaining distance, the
poet muses, "wanda wanda wanda i wonder / why ain't you dead" (28-29).
The wonder is that she survives and thrives. The poem asserts the life
force amid daily wear and tear, small humiliations and frustrations.
She endures, a Wonder Woman who can't vanquish enemies but knows how
to deflect their bullets off her magic bracelets. Yoked to duty and
routine, this Wanda can't wander like Walt Whitman but must hold her
ground as she fends off the guilttrippers, parasites, and con artists.
But she turns the painful struggle for selfhood into deliciously
quirky comedy. The poem's lashing lines resemble "snaps" in an old
African-American game, the "dozens," where duelists trade mock insults
("Yo' mama's so ugly, she'd scare moss off a rock"). It's an exercise
in mental toughening: when the worst can be said, reality seems less

Chanting "wanda" nineteen times, the poem is like an exorcism,
banishing impish spirits that grasp and scratch. Who is Wanda? The
poem answers for her, as she wickedly parodies her detractors' voices.
Their yammering stops with the door slam of the last word ("dead")-the
line recapitulating the more formal, teacherly title ("aren't" rather
than "ain't"). The poet is definitely not dead: her salvation is her
grit, resilience, and commitment to art making. This poem would be
explosive in performance, with the poet's grumpy, sarcastic persona
barreling through hindrances, then pausing a beat before bursting
free. She has regained control of language and made it hers. "


Break, Blow, Burn
Written by Camille Paglia
Trade paperback Vintage
Poetry - History & Criticism
0-375-72539-3 January 2006

Tibetan Highlands

Hong Nian Zhang
circa 2005
Oil on canvas
60 x 68 inches

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lesser Known Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet


Surface Hunting

You always washed artifacts
--------at the kitchen sink, your back
------------------to the room, to me, to the mud

you'd tracked in from whatever
--------neighbor's field had just been plowed.
------------------Spearpoints, birdpoints, awls and leaf-

shaped blades surfaced from the turned earth
--------as though from beneath some thicker
------------------water you tried to see into.

You never tired, you told me, of the tangible
--------past you could admire, turn over
------------------and over in your hand—the first

to touch it since the dead one that had
--------worked the stone. You lined bookshelves
------------------and end tables with them; obsidian,

quartz, flint, they measured the hours you'd spent
--------with your head down, searching for others,
------------------and also the prized hours of my own

solitude—collected, prized,
--------saved alongside those artifacts
------------------that had been for so long lost.

Claudia Emerson is an associate professor of English at Mary Washington College. She holds degrees from the University of Virginia and UNC- Greensboro, where she was poetry editor of The Greensboro Review. Her books are Pharaoh, Pharaoh and Pinion: An Elegy, both from LSU, and her work has appeared in The Southern Review, The New England Review and Prairie Schooner. She has been a recipient of literature fellowships from the NEA and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. (She is also a contributing editor for Shenandoah.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Arkansas Good Friday
by Franz Wright


Everyone knows what the cross means, or will
----------before long

It is the body

It resembles the first stick-figure depictions
---------of it found in caves (some
---------with the heads of birds)

Depictions reproduced to this day by young children
---------just learning to draw

Its aerodynamic properties ought to be obvious I suppose

to us,
the wingless

How many years we have been carrying it
And before too much longer it will reveal itself
the source of a forsakenness and agony
nobody would have dared foresee
I saw it
over twenty years ago

Every day as the darkness came down on New York
I went up to my father and saw

(More and more I meet him
in the mirror, it is his blood I have
to clean up if I shave--...)

And I was born just as I found him there

a little bald
toothless man
not for long though
(I refer to Mother Morphine's left tit)


Now I'll tell you something you don't know, you hurt
by the past, just like me, crushed
by the future and blind
to the present,
to the moment--

But there is nothing you don't know
I got up every morning here
a long way from home
and cried for ten minutes
then showered and dressed
and got back down to work
assisted, on occasion, by one or two magical mystery


I can tell you this
Who dwarfs my pain I cling to
the genuinely broken
and poor
And I cling to the Before
The spirit face
behind the face
yearning for light
the water and the light
And I am flowing back to the Before, the infinite
years which transpired while I was not
here, and did not know
I was not

---------I came just like you
from inconceivableness, the eternal
before-we-arrived, flowing
from God's mouth, and come here to say
"this world" and
-------------"God," as if
they needed
-------- And what lies beyond is no doubt the beginning
I wouldn't know but I'm going
to find out
The what lies beyond
this loneliness and panic
I call dying, time, remorse, this cold
and purifying
fire, which hurts so much, which burns
away the world and all I was
who walked and breathed and spoke
how real it all seemed
for a few years, but I was always
immortal and will be
once more, when I return
to the infinite time
which elapsed before I was conceived;
when the heavenward face is burned away
and its scared eyes
and its tears
and its euphoria, which no one can imagine
(wrong: someone in love can imagine!)
And I have heard God's silence like the sun
now I long to return to it
no matter my infantile clinging
to this gorgeous material of such early wisteria and
---------lilacs, the wind
in the redbud and light-giving new heart-shaped leaves
music visible if completely unheard, I'll return
The angel's going to raise his arms and sing that time is
---------no more
nor tears: that numbered
sea of them is gone--
now there is a new sea, a new earth, a new sky--
and I will know what to say at the end: What end?
And I can add I found this world sufficiently miraculous
----------for me, before I'm changed.

From GOD'S SILENCE. - Franz Wright 2006

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I Don't Know About You, But I've Always Wanted to Crash a 73 Million Dollar, 2-Ton Probe

NASA announced plans to crash the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter into the moon, twice, in 2008. The primary mission of the $73 million, 2-ton probe, shown in this illustration, will be to search for water that could be used for manned missions.

Credit: NASA/John Frassanito and Associates

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

4 Sawbucks & Change For Your Thoughts

Nelson Olivera

"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together"

Overheard at Bemsha Swing:

"Speaking of rants, I wish people wouldn't sign their posts with only their first name. People generally come with at least a first and a last name for a reason. Anyway, just wanted to mention that the above, which is interesting and politely written and all, was not written by this Nick." (Nick Piombino)

"Yes. Just plain "Nick" is Nick Bruno? Or Nick somebody? "Nick Piombino" is Nick Piombino. "(Jonathan Mayhew)

"guilty of #1--I blame Blogger--but I usually sign my this really such a big deal? i mean, what if I had 10 avatars or something? what if I claimed to be Nick Piombino and got him in trouble? I was once accused of being Jacques Debrot under a fictional name..." (Nick LoLordo )

Glad that the appropriate "Nick" came forward to claim his quote. I agree that people should sign their complete names to their posts. Speaking of doppelgangers - I do not get around to googling myself much, but I recently found out that there is a "Nick Bruno" out there who's a music producer of mostly Gospel music:

Nick Bruno , well known producer and musician was among those honored on October 30, 2000 by being inducted in to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame as a member of the legendary Kingsmen. The Kingsmen made history with their song, "Excuses," produced for them by Nick Bruno, which maintained its number one chart position for 19 months. Nick Bruno was a member of the Kingsmen, as well as being the producer of their most popular and highest selling albums.

With all due respect to Nick LoLordo; why is it that nobody confuses me with that "Nick"? I guess that - I don't got the music in me!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Holy Wall

Solomon's Wall Jerusalem
Artist: Jean-Leon Gerome (1824 - 1904)
Oil on canvas

Friday, April 07, 2006

Here's to You Mr. Robinson.

"But I try not to take either criticism or praise too seriously because I know that everyone has their cup of tea."


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Can You Dig It?

The Fun Gallery
by Kevin Young

A buzz in the air
already, Basquiat
beaming. RAY GUN

set to stun
--maximum--a hold
up in this hole

in the wall,
a billion
paintings pinned

to dry wall
like butterflies,
stomachs. He's made it

all from scratch
& paint.
The work's too low

his dealer warned
--everything should be higher
to keep up

your prices,
speed. All night
the crowds line

outside like Disneyland
& love it. Taken
over Manhattan

he's King
Kong or Mighty Joe
Young, social

from trains
to scale the Empire

State. Keeping most
of the show
for hisself, hitches

a limo to Bklyn
by dawn--the armored
car hour--up

early--or late
--as if to his own

"Papa I’ve made it"

hugs & hands
him a blooming

From To Repel Ghosts by Kevin Young - Revamped from its original "double album" version of 350 pages into this unique "remix," To Repel Ghosts captures the dynamic work and brief life of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Top Ten Reasons Why I Can’t Write a Poem a Day in April – “Poetry Month” – In no Particular Order!

1) I can’t write that fast.

2) I can’t read that fast.

3) Scratch number 2; I never read my own poetry.

4) In my house we never do the same thing everyday for a month, and I mean anything!

5) My muse only works part time – three days a week she works at COSTCO.

6) I just don’t have that much poetry in me – hell I don’t have that much of anything in me!

7) With two young children in the house, I’m lucky if I go to the bathroom once a day.

8) I’m too busy writing this BLOG.

9) I’m too busy reading your BLOG. Yeah yours! Where do you think I get all my material?

10)-I’ve received a petition with over 1000 signatures begging me to spare their poetic sensibilities.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Muezzins' Call to Prayer

Artist: Jean-Leon Gerome (1824 - 1904)
Oil on canvas

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Particular Disposition

The Fear of Open Faces

Hell is other people!
--------------------------------- Jean Paul Sartre

Tonight they gather to his credit; drink
to his name. Laughter hangs on the clothesline
of his liquored breath. He notes the first increments:

preliminary steps towards the scaffold
where disdain for the social is built;
the crawl down a fire escape
away from the flame of open spaces --
the burning skies of free discourse.

Trapped in that place between
agoraphobic alibis and the embrace
of the dramaturgical. He feels suffocated
by intrusive faces and the pungent smell
of Homo Sapiens Sapiens. - Humanity twice removed
would suit him fine right about now.

Previously published in Spring 2004 – Snow Monkey - Anemone Sidecar - Ch 2