12.30.2005

America as a culture seems to support poetry that reaffirms what we already believe is true rather than poetry that surprises us with what is actually true.

12.29.2005

Take your skin to the trees. Where leaves remain wet and sour
there is no hope. Where a tree has fallen silent, make no sound.

Provide for the woods. The day has no hours
with sallow gray light all the same, and so time ends. The day ends. The world shifts into night

pathetically, beaten and insincere. The trees will never see themselves
the way you have. For this, they will never be mistaken.
I would like to have that kind of perspective.

12.23.2005

Important Question to Editor-Types

A friend of mine had a chapbook published in a literary magazine recently. Only a handful of those poems were published in journals before the chapbook was published, so my friend wants to know, can he still publish other poems from the chapbook in literary journals? Or are they considered published now because they appeared in the chap?

And does it matter that the chap ran in a lit mag or not?

Thanks.

Number Ones



It's not my fault I'm gay.

The number one song on the day I was born:



ABBA's "Dancing Queen."

The Best Movies I Saw This Year

The Amityville Horror
st. Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George
It was truly uncomfortable to watch.

Batman Begins
st. Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson
If Burton is art deco, this version is pure art nouveau.

Birth
st. Nicole Kidman, Lauren Bacall
On the cusp of her wedding to a new man, a 10-year-old boy inexplicably arrives and claims to be Kidman's dead husband reincarnated. Wrenching results.

Brokeback Mountain
st. Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal
Fantastic performances by both leads and all the women in this film make a classic from a simple (and familiar) story.

Chronicles of Narnia
st. Tilda Swinton
Right in all the ways Lord of the Rings was wrong/boring.

Crash
breakout performances by Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillipe, and Terrence Howard
Disparate lives intertwine and intersect in Los Angeles. Magnolia-ish, but well done.

Cry Wolf
st. Jared Padelecki
You probably never even heard about this little thriller with the cast of unknowns. Reminiscent of old Hollywood, it was both interesting, well-filmed, and not gory.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose
st. Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott
Easily better than The Exorcist, this film is both brutal and beautiful.

Heights
breakout performances by Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Glenn Close, and Rufus Wainwright
Relationships begin, end, and fuck each other up over several days in New York City.

House of Wax
st. Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray
More revision than remake, this gorefest delivered both chills and stomach knots.

The Island
st. Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson
Listen, it wasn't as bad as everyone said.

Mysterious Skin
st. Joseph Gorden-Leavitt, Brady Corbet, Michelle Trachtenberg
A beautifully filmed masterpiece of self-discovery, forgiveness, and childhood abuse.

Prime
st. Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep
A rare example of the romance genre that elects realism over fantasism.

Sin City
st. Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, et al.
Frank Miller's bleak graphic novel comes to breathtaking reality in this green-screen masterpiece.

Skeleton Key
st. Kate Hudson and Peter Sarsgaard
An interesting puzzle about voodoo, racism, and home care.

**This is a generous list. I saw a lot of crap this year. I spent too much time sitting through shit like Venom instead of seeing films I really wanted to.

Films I wish I'd seen this year:
Diary of a Mad Black Woman
The Upside of Anger
Dot the I
Ice Princess
(I like Michelle Trachtenberg and I'm not sorry!)
Melinda and Melinda
D.E.B.S.
March of the Penguins
Broken Flowers
The Chumscrubber
Pretty Persuasion
Capote
In Her Shoes
Elizabethtown
Shopgirl
Breakfast on Pluto
Yes
Zathura
Walk the Line
Proof
Just Friends
Transamerica
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Family Stone


Big fat disappointments of 2005:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
King King
Rent
Domino
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Everything Is Illuminated
High Tension
Cursed
Bride & Prejudice

12.21.2005

What Work Is



Eduardo posted recently about not pursuing publication for his work as fiercely as maybe some other poets do, and he says, "I've never been one of those poets who associated success with publication."

I think that's good. Publication isn't success because there are a lot of bad poems that get published. True, it's a bar that many poets don't ever reach, but that doesn't make it important per se. I remember Steve wrote that he felt like getting a Pushcart nom wasn't a big deal because they give them away with Happy Meals now—or, at least, the noms are fairly common. And that's true. There are a lot of journals out there nominating a lot of authors.

But, again, that's a bar not every poet reaches.

If you're the kind of poet who likes to measure, get your tapes ready: because I'm going to ask you now how you choose to measure success. Seth was writing about this recently, too, and I thought it was interesting to note that yes, we as poets understand the careerist levels of success involved in poetry. Maybe we can delineate these levels, in a loose ordering, that identifies a perception of success in poetry:

Publication in lower-tier journals & magazines
Publication in University-tier journals & magazines
Prize finalists
Inclusion in anthologies
Publication in top-tier journals & magazines
Residencies at colonies
First book publication
National fellowship awards
Publication awards
Additional book publications
Inclusion in textbook anthologies
University teaching appointment
Publication in glossy mags
A volume of Selected Poems
Pulitzer Prize/National Book Award nomination
A volume of Collected or Complete Poems
Major award win (incl. Macarthur)

If you perceive success as being ahead of the pack, then it's natural to assume the more bars you pass, the better off you are. Ultimately, only a handful of writers come away with the most major awards and the most comprehensive publications, which, in turn, makes those accomplishments (perhaps) the most sought-after or the most respected. It's possible. It's possible that we all harbor secret dreams of our own Selected Poems being nominated for the National Book Award.

There's nothing wrong with personal ambition, I think. The desire to better one's work is, hopefully, what we're all after. But, in some contexts, the work and the career share an uncomfortable comraderie, don't you think?

And I'm not saying it is this way for everyone, or that it should be this way, or that Eduardo or Steve or Seth are at all misguided. Quite the opposite. I'm saying it's natural to want to feel successful at what you do—otherwise, we're all just tired little masochists acting out our repetitive neuroses—but it is important, now, right here, for you to come to terms with what success means to you in writing, because it isn't (and should be) what everyone else thinks it is.

I'm happy when my poems get published. I am. I think it's cool! And I love it when people tell me they've read my work somewhere. I like it even better when they add they enjoyed it. I don't consider publishing a success. But I do consider it a success when I publish a poem that I am truly proud of, that I believe should be out in the world.

That said, like Eduardo, I revise 90% of my work over and over and over and over. Even after publication. I toss out published poems. And why not? I serve the work. If the work doesn't cut it, I cut the work.

I hope that everything I do in poetry serves my work. Blogging serves my work. Reading as many books as I can on my bus ride to and from my job serves my work. Showing my work to other people serves the work. I don't engage in these things to serve me. That's a different kind of poet, and a kind of poet I hope never to be.

Brokeback Mountain

THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FILM BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. You been warned.

What struck me most about Brokeback Mountain on the two occasions I saw it over the weekend wasn't that it was a gay film, because, in a lot of ways, it wasn't.

Leaving the theater, I couldn't shake the feeling that Brokeback Mountain shared so many similarities with another film I've seen: The Age of Innocence. Both films are about all-consuming desire, a sense of propriety over a "life that must be lived," and the danger of succumbing to bodily contact.

Although I stand with the critics of the film who suggest that it could be trimmed—especially in the first hour, which is primarily a moving postcard of Wyoming (or, literally, Alberta, Canada)—I still feel the movie is a triumph. How odd to me that this is set in the 1960s when even today there are people in the world like Ennis and Jack who are unable to express these kinds of feelings. I told my s.o. afterward, "I'm so glad I'm alive today and have the opportunity to live openly," and he responded, "It has nothing to do with today; there are still plenty of people who can't live like you do." And it's true. And that's why Brokeback Mountain is both a success and a loss for us. Because it represents us. Because it convinces us these kinds of sacrifices are in the past.

Both Ledger and Gyllenhaal are excellent in their roles; perhaps Gyllenhaal's character seems the easier role because he expresses more than Ledger's does. Ledger's performance is in the eyes, in his unmoving upper lip. I love Ang Lee for this film and for many others: Eat Drink Man Woman, The Wedding Banquet, The Ice Storm, Sense and Sensibility. I think he's really fearless as a director, but he's also tasteful. Lee knows this story isn't about sex. It's about commitment—the commitments we can make to each other and the ones we can't. Our commitments to the world.

It's hard to classify this as a gay film when no one in the film identifies that way; in fact, they very much do not identify as queer, although I get a sense near the end of the film that Jack has come to a kind of self-acceptance. Ultimately, it's a film about heterosexual America. Its violence, its disappointments, and its harsh realities.

12.17.2005

I just saw Brokeback Mountain.

I feel like I've been tipped off balance.

12.16.2005

Three | Six | Five

I graduated from my MFA program a year ago today.

In the past year I have:
> Slashed-and-burned the thesis manuscript
> Written a new manuscript, saving just two poems from the thesis
> Begun to publish the new manuscript's poems here and there, begun submitting it to contests
> Started a second new manuscript still in stages of revision, but feeling, on the whole, very good
> Published a chapbook
> Received a Pushcart nomination
> Met a slew of poets, both bloggers and non, who have inspired me and encouraged me and taught me more about poetry
> Read a bajillion books I "always meant to get to"

Poems I'm proudest of publishing this year:
"Proof" in the first issue of Churchyard (it's my favorite poem from the first manuscript and possibly the best poem I think I've ever written)
"Remainder" in Lodestar Quarterly
"The Field," "Nina (2)" and "Huma Rojo (2)" in No Tell Motel
"Saboteur" and "Vapor Boys" in West Branch
"Lapsarian" in the Most Intriguing (and Sensual) Male Poets Calendar

I think I made good use of my time this year...I feel good about where my work is going, although I wish I was writing more these days—but it does feel good to have a break.

One thing I have not been able to accomplish this year despite my best efforts: keeping my house (especially my desk) clean.

12.15.2005

My Favorite Albums, 2005 Edition

A list of great albums I got acquainted with this year:

Fiona Apple
Extraordinary Machine
Sounds like: Super-robot-piano-blues-funk-girl-with-introspection
Best tracks: "Extraordinary Machine," "Better Version of Me," "Tympani (the Sick in the Head song)," "Please, Please, Please"
Representative lyric: "I am likely to miss the main event / If I stop to cry and complain again / So I will keep a deliberate pace / Let the damn breeze dry my face" ("Better Version of Me")
Notes: Fiona continues to mature in her music by offering some of the most addicting assonant rhymes this side of hip-hop.

Bloc Party
Silent Alarm
Sounds like: Simple Minds covered by Franz Ferdinand with a drum machine
Best tracks: "This Modern Love," "Like Eating Glass"
Representative lyric: "Stop being so American / There's a time and there's a place / So James Dean / So blue jeans" ("Helicopter")

David Bowie
Best of Bowie
Sounds like: No one else.
Best tracks: "Under Pressure," "Modern Love," "Changes"
Representative lyric: "I'm afraid of Americans / I'm afraid of the world / I'm afraid I can't help it / I'm afraid that I can." ("I'm Afraid of Americans")
Notes: I was stunned to realize when I first heard this album that I knew and loved so many David Bowie songs.

The Bravery
The Bravery
Sounds like: Duran Duran rearranged with disco beats in a science fiction blender
Best tracks: "Honest Mistake," "No Brakes," "Fearless"
Representative lyric: "Sometimes / I forget I'm still awake / I fuck up and say these things out loud" ("Honest Mistake")
Notes: The Bravery are a fun and interesting new band

Death Cab for Cutie
Plans
Sounds like: Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos on male hormones
Best tracks: "Soul Meets Body," "Your Heart Is An Empty Room," "Crooked Teeth"
Representative lyric: "If the silence takes you, well I hope it takes me too."
Notes: Another band whose bus I missed until just this minute.

Franz Ferdinand
You Could Have It So Much Better
Sounds like: Drunken Scots having too much fun
Best tracks: "Do Ya Wanna," "Walk Away," "You're the Reason I'm Leaving," "Outsiders"
Representative lyric: "I swapped my innocence for pride / Crushed the end within my stride / Said I'm strong now, I know that I'm a leaver" ("Walk Away")
Notes: They might be my favorite band.

Gavin Degraw
Chariot
Sounds like: Ben Folds if he were born In New Orleans and raised on crawdads and chitlins
Best tracks: "Crush," "Chariot," "Just Friends," "I Don't Wanna Be"
Representative lyric: "Your favorite fruit is chocolate covered cherries / seedless watermelons / Ooh / Nothing from the ground was good enough"

Good Charlotte
The Chronicles of Life and Death
Sounds like: Your fourteen-year-old sister's favorite band
Best tracks: "World Is Black," "Truth," "
Representative lyric: "Turn on channel 7 at a quarter to eight / You see the same damn thing, it's just a different day / And no one really cares that this is happening"

Kelly Clarkson
Breakaway
Sounds like: Daddy's little girl is all growsed up and she has something she wants to tell you.
Best tracks: "Since U Been Gone," "Behind These Hazel Eyes," "Gone,"
Representative lyric: "What you see's not what you get / With you there's just no measurement / No way to tell what's real from what / isn't there" ("Gone")

Green Day
American Idiot
Sounds like: A punk opera?
Best tracks: "American Idiot," "Jesus of Suburbia," "When September Ends," "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
Representative lyric: "I'm the son of rage and love / The Jesus of suburbia / From the bible of "none of the above" / On a steady diet of soda pop and ritalin" ("Jesus of Suburbia")
Notes: I've heard this album described as featuring a character named Jesus of Suburbia who explores contemporary America, commenting on our values and mores. It's an interesting concept and the album is really, really phenomenal.

Le Tigre
Le Tigre
Sounds like: All the art kids in high school got their hands on a four-track, a synthesizer, and a time machine direct to 1964.
Best tracks: "What's Yer Take on Cassavetes?" "Deceptacon," "Hot Topic"
Representative lyric: "Oh fuck / Giuliani / He's such / A fucking jerk / Shut down / All the stripbars / Workfare / Does not work" ("My My Metrocard")
Notes: Le Tigre is Andy Warhol's favorite band, featuring Bikini Kill alum Kathleen Hanna.

Madonna
Confessions on a Dance Floor
Sounds like: Your mother got drunk and pulled out her favorite disco albums but can't remember the words
Best tracks: "Hung Up," "Let It Will Be," "Isaac," "Push," "Sorry"
Representative lyric: "Ring, ring, ring, goes the telephone / The lights are on but there's no one home / Tick-tick-tock it's a quarter till to and I'm done / I'm hanging up on you" (Full disclosure: if you call me cell phone, you are treated to this snippet instead of the traditional "ring" noise.)

Liz Phair
Somebody's Miracle
Sounds like: "I know I tried to sell out with my last album, and I'm sorry, so this time I'll be more artistic and keep my selling out to a minimum."
Best tracks: "Somebody's Miracle," "Count On My Love," "Why I Lie," "Leap of Innocence"
Representative lyric: "If you asked me why I hurt you / I couldn't tell you, I don't know myself / It's a simple combination / Of predatory instinct and simple ill will." ("Why I Lie")
Notes: This album takes Liz back to the sound and aesthetic she brilliantly captured on whitechocolatespaceegg, the last album of hers I really loved.

Polyphonic Spree
Together We're Heavy
Sounds like: The cast of an off-Broadway Jesus Christ Superstar dropped acid in a high school band practice room.
Best tracks: "Hold Me Now," "Two Thousand Places," "We Sound Amazed"
Representative lyric: "He started the day with a mood and a shake / He was finally arranged / And someone said with a cold, hard chest 'You're a mess!'" ("Hold Me Now")
Notes: Listening to this album will turn your home or car into a commune.

Postal Service
Give Up
Sounds like: Coffeehouse poetry lightly sung over the soundtrack to Super Mario Bros.
Best tracks: "Such Great Heights," "Clark Gable," "Sleeping In," "Nothing Better"
Representative lyrics: "'I've been waiting since birth to find a love / That would look and sound like a movie / So I changed my plans / I rented a camera and a van / And then I called you / 'I need you to pretend / that we are in love again.'" ("Clark Gable")
Notes: I feel like this is probably the most innovate musical act I encountered this year, both lyrically and musically.

Gwen Stefani
Love.Angel.Music.Baby
Sounds like: Gwen Stefani playing musical dress-up
Best tracks: "Hollaback Girl," "What You Waiting For," "Rich Girl"
Representative lyric: "Like an echo pedal you're repeating yourself / You know it all by heart / Why are you standing in one place?" ("What You Waiting For")

Various Artists
Veronica Mars Soundtrack
Sounds like: a painstakingly crafted mix tape by the shy boy with the indie music collection for the popular girl who doesn't know his name
Best tracks: "We Used to Be Friends" (Dandy Warhols), "I Turn My Camera On" (Spoon), "Lost & Found" (Adrienne Pierce)
Representative lyric: "When I turn my feelings on / I turn my feelings on inside / Feel like I'm gonna ignite / I saw them stars go off / I saw them stars go off at night/ And they're looking all right" ("I Turn My Camera On")
Notes: The only shortcoming of this compilation is its inability to capture each and every fantastic song featured on the show, including Korn's cover of "Word Up" and Notwist's "Pick Up the Phone."

Weezer
Make Believe
Sounds like: Rivers Cuomo gets bumped on the head, wakes up and thinks he's reliving 1984
Best tracks: "Beverly Hills," "Perfect Situation," "This Is Such a Pity," "The Damage In Your Heart"
Representative lyric: "There's the pitch / slow and straight / all I have to do is swing and I'm a hero / But I'm a zero" ("Perfect Situation")

12.14.2005

In Bloom



It's my favorite time of the year!

My new issue of Bloom landed in my mailbox earlier this week. Oh, so delicious—first and foremost, Bloom is notable for its diverse and high-quality selection of art in each issue. This issue, their third, is no exception—readers are confronted by an oil panting (called "Small Fight") of two men locked in an over-the-back wrestling grip. Tense, sexual, and vibrant: the red background is absorbed into the issue's cover, giving the whole issue a rich, seductive hue.

And I haven't even talked about its insides yet!

Among the precious flowers in this issue are three of my own favorite blossoms: the tender Emily Lloyd, the hearty Lee Ann Roripaugh, and the showy C. Dale Young. All three contributed beautiful pieces to the issue.

Another thing I love about Bloom is that the selection of work always reflects a diverse aesthetic. These poems don't seem repetitive in tone, subject, form, theme, etc., and thereby they support the greater mission to showcase the diversity of writing at play in the queer and trans communities.

Although I haven't been able to fully explore the new issue, I know I'll spend the next few weeks tracking down the writers whose work appears there—reading their books, learning about their work, and expanding my own queer horizons...

12.10.2005

The B-sides

I like when musicians put out an album of b-sides, especially when they clump them together from a single album. Tori Amos once commented on a song she wrote called "Cooling" that didn't make it onto (I think) From the Choirgirl Hotel, "It just didn't fit, but I still love her." It ended up on a live compilation instead—having a second life as a performance-only song.

I sort of feel that way about the poems that get pushed out of manuscripts. From my thesis manuscript, I kept two poems and pulled them into the second ms. A whole section ended up pushed out of that version and took on its own life as a yet-unpublished chapbook (of which certain poems appeared in No Tell Motel earlier this year). Then, individual poems began to shake out. What's to become of these unfit pieces?

In the interest of full exposure, I offer a b-side from the ms., a little something I call

Hollywood Ending



The Messiah (played by Brad Pitt) returns,
blond hair flowing a sparkled second sun.
He smokes fat cigarettes
called Red Heifers.

Scientologists are raptured on sight.

Agents recommend Messiah take a wife,
rumoring new beard covers gay-for-pay.
The porn industry opens
above buttocks clenched, those muscled thighs.
Adolescent boys *poof* turn queer
from picturing this scene, and just their hair alone
is like a bad delivery boy/hustler dialogue.

Messiah ignores the lepers
in Sun Valley to play pool with Johnny Depp
at the Viper Room. Loses the soul
of River Phoenix in rocky game of nine ball,
condemns it to a hell in which
he is stuck in line for the Matterhorn,
which is eternally
under construction.

12.09.2005



IT'S ALIVE

Things to Write Home About

This week was a bittersweet reality transition:

The end of America's Next Top Model (my model won)

and

The start of Project Runway.



In Bravo's Project Runway fourteen (?) aspiring fashion designers compete each week to design women's clothing under certain restrictions. For example, the semifinal round required designers to use 6 pre-purchased yards of drab cotton muslin and $20 to create an outfit that best represented them. The results were as varied as the designers and two of them were sent home.

Later, the contestants were told to attend a party to celebrate the official start of the competition. Each person, wanting to make a good impression, wore outfits that said a lot about them, everything from vintage jeans and leather jackets to an heirloom scarf. At the party, they were given their first challenge in the competition proper. Called "The Clothes Off Your Back," the contestants were required to go home and put their entire outfit into a bag. They were to make a new outfit using only what they were then wearing during their work time the following day. This was almost as good as the "Create an outfit using only what you can purchase at a grocery store challenge" from last season, the one that resulted in Austin Scarlett's inspired cornhusk dress.

Unlike its boring and uninspired Tommy Hilfiger-led network equivalent In the Cut, Project Runway really forces the designers to transcend the competition, rise above the restrictions to make individual visions of fashion. Take it for what it's worth from a colorblind, fashion-challenged gay boy (I rarely wear patterns and try to limit myself to wearing only two colors or less so I don't clash), but Project Runway reminds me of being in Beckian Fritz Goldberg's workshop, where we were often given assignments to write poems under restriction. Although the challenges don't always work, they always put the attention of the artist on the product more than the process. And sometimes, that's what it's really all about.
I'm all washed up!

12.06.2005

My Favorite Books in 2005

Here's a list of books I read this past year that I really enjoyed and that deserve a look:



Catherine Barnett, Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced
Lucie Brock-Broido, Trouble In Mind
C. P. Cavafy, Collected Poems
Mark Doty, School of the Arts
Denise Duhamel, Une mille et un sentiments
Gina Franco, The Keepsake Storm
Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Lie Awake Lake
Kimiko Hahn, The Unbearable Heart
Kevin Killian, Argento Series
Ben Lerner, The Lichtenberg Figures
Harryette Mullen, Sleeping with the Dictionary
Peter Pereira, Saying the World
Carl Phillips, The Rest of Love
Maureen Seaton, Little Ice Age
Richard Siken, Crush
Juliana Spahr, Fuck You—Aloha—I Love You
Juliana Spahr, thisconnectionofeveryonewithlungs
Adrienne Rich, Dark Fields of the Republic
Chase Twichell, The Ghost of Eden
C. D. Wright, Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil
Jean Valentine, Dream Barker
Jean Valentine, Pilgrims
Rachel Zucker, The Last Clear Narrative

12.05.2005

Danger Zone


Kitchen 1
Originally uploaded by kinemapoetics.

To Whom It May Concern:

If you or someone you know is responsible for stealing my kitchen, please return it at your earliest convenience.

Thanks,
Charlie

12.04.2005

WHAT WERE YOU DOING TEN YEARS AGO? FIVE YEARS AGO? ONE YEAR AGO? YESTERDAY?

Encouraged by Artichoke Heart:

TEN YEARS AGO
It's my freshman year of college. I have a roommate from South Dakota who smells funny at night. I meet a lot of people and for the first time since age 12, I ask people to call me Charlie. I love living in Minneapolis because I'm finally not living in the country anymore. The city at night is the most beautiful thing I can think of. I like the smell of snow, and there is a lot of it. I meet a boy in my hallway who likes me. I slowly reveal to people I know that I'm amenable to that. I take up smoking. I take up drinking. I drink and smoke as much as I possibly can. I go to film class and love it. I meet a young girl against whom I will file a restraining order within a year. I lose the first boy because I meet and fall for a second boy who is ten years older than me and (I think) the answer to all my problems. There is so much drama in my life, but it's my drama and I finally feel alive. Everything that happens is crucial.

FIVE YEARS AGO
I live in Saint Paul, where I direct a residence hall on the University's beautiful agrarian campus. I weigh 155 pounds and my mother thinks I might be sick or dying. I have the worst relationship on earth with a man who may or may not be cheating on me with students who live in my building (among other men) and who, in five years, will kill himself in Arizona. We live together in a 500 square-foot apartment. We smoke too much. I love my job. I love my RA staff. I love so many things except my boyfriend and myself. I do not love winter. I start looking at MFA programs. I have not written in two years but I believe I can.

ONE YEAR AGO
I live in Arizona and defend my MFA thesis. I read poems about blowjobs in front of my 90-year-old grandmother, who smiles the whole time. I live with a man who is normal and good to me. We visit the new IKEA store at least once a week and start (slowly) replacing our hand-me-down furniture with the real thing. I quit working at Baby Gap, which is a sad day. I start a full-time job that I enjoy. My niece starts talking in complete sentences.

YESTERDAY
I wake up. I walk the dog I'm dogsitting. I say goodbye to the man who goes to work. I go to Gap Outlet and buy a scarf, a button down shirt, some candles, and Om and Grass. I visit my parents and play cards with my grandmother and mother's cousin. I take over $5 from them in winnings. I eat a homecooked dinner. I drive an hour back and talk with a wonderful friend who makes me very happy. I do dishes. I do laundry. I change the sheets and watch television. I contemplate making leftovers. I clean up my side of the bedroom. I blog. I watch Desperate Housewives when the man comes home. I contemplate sleeping in.

Grass

When I was in college, Gap started selling its first four fragrances: Om, Earth, Day, and Grass. They were strange smells, really—Earth was, well, earthy; Day was bright and citrusy; Om was sweet and spicy; and Grass smelled like (yes), cut grass.

At the time, I fell in love with Om. It's still one of my favorite smells. But Grass? I thought it was disgusting

I grew up in a small town, "the country" by most people's standards, and the smell of cut grass was everywhere. I couldn't bear it. And to put it in a bottle, I thought, was just crude.

After a few years, Gap stopped selling these four unisex fragrances and introduced an ever-changing array of scents for women. Of the original four, only Om was still sold, but only at Gap Outlet stores.

A couple weeks ago, I was at my neighborhood Gap Outlet and I saw it—a special gift set of Grass for the holidays. I couldn't believe it. Why'd they bring it back?

But then I realized I craved the smell of cut grass. That anytime I smelled it in Arizona, my mood lightened. It was relaxing and comforting. It so odd how smell operates in the mind: what was so common was unnecessary, but what was rare and amnesiac: that was the real beauty.

I bought the Grass gift set for myself today (eau de toilette, body wash, and lotion). It smells so realistically like cut grass, it's uncanny. I'm sitting here in a cloud of cut grass, in December, and I'm loving it.

Epiphanies

Oh, crap... Did I do that or did I think about doing that?

*pieces together events of Saturday night*

12.02.2005

Chapbook Update

Good news! The first issue of Red Mountain Review has returned from the printer and will be available for purchase in about a week.

Please support this new journal (and my chapbook) by purchasing a copy for just $6.

Thanks!

Dear Blogging Friends,

When you post the code to make music videos appear on your blogs, it makes my browswer freeze and crash. :(