Casa Libre: Day 2

Today's post is for Anne.

This is what happens when you were just a boy and a boy like you was killed. You live with that for eight years, you let it go, you forget about him and then he comes back to you after a while and you've missed him. He is someone you might have loved, would have loved, did love. You loved him then, remember? Things were happy then, the two of you together. And then, while researching his murder, that day, that fence, that state, those boys, that bar—you begin to break up with your boyfriend. Slowly, over months. Nothing drastic. Nothing messy. This is another kind of murder and the entire life you knew falls apart in eight weeks. You dismantle it, the two of you, piece by piece in the clinical way of a surgeon who knows precisely where the slice goes to remove the limb with minimal blood loss. Suddenly, you can't tell one story from the other: yours, his. You are him.

Then there is just grief. Something is missing, something has been taken. You begin to watch films, films, films. Become obsessed with films, with Hitchcock again—then, with Vertigo. The lengths we go to preseve what we love. In the film, the clerk says, "The gentlemen certainly seems to know what he wants." He makes her over into someone else, but in this film everyone is or wants to be someone else, and some of them are dead or end up dead or want to be dead. This is all very confusing.

Then, there is love. Something starts small like a little town in the distance that you think probably has a gas station, a general store, maybe a Wal-Mart or an underground gay club. It comes into your life and then there is the telephone, a voice, conversations, words, plans. The two of you are outside your bodies. In the poems there is a fifth dimension where you meet: a ghost world. It holds your voices and only sustains energy, not bodies. One of you is lost there. Then we are playing characters, not ourselves—we have new names and this takes place many years before. It feels familiar. Like some people I once read about, a scientist and his wife—one who was lost, one who went mad loving her...

This is how the book makes itself.


Another Thing of Mine You'll Want to Put in Your Mouth

I invented this and it was good:

Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwich

2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped
2 celerey stalks, chopped
2 carrot sticks, grated into strips
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/4 C bleu cheese crumbles
1/2 C mayonnaise (to taste)
2 Tb yellow mustard (or substitute Dijon)
1/4 C buffalo chicken sauce (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, mixing until wet ingredients are well-blended and evenly coat dry ingredients. Spoon onto toasted bread end enjoy. I recommend the homemade split pea soup as an accompaniment.

Casa Libre: Day 1

I drove through the dark, topping out at 90, nearly legal even then. Passing semis with a shudder. There was the hour I spent crawling through rush hour traffic listening to your songs, singing those words, thinking. In dreams the car represents the self, the body. Where we go in it is a portent. After a crash, we say, He hit me! although he did no such thing: he struck my vehicle, myself.

The space inside the car is psychically small and only allows a finite number of thoughts to exist. They were all of you.

I arrived, set up my little camp in the suite, tucked my clothes behind the blind, ate a brownie my mom packed along for me. Unloaded the stack of books and arranged them like a Doric column on the shelf: imposing and Greek. Hopefully not to be a tragedy. But you never know.

I need a store, like a Target—one place to sell white wine and shaving cream, although I may not shave the whole while I'm here. I need little else: I have it all here. And nightly, your voice arrives from the ghost world and tells me about tomorrow. I'll be listening. There is no distance between us, not now.



This year I'm thankful.

  • To No Tell Motel for nominating my poem "Bargaining" for a Pushcart and for being supportive of my work over the past two years.

  • For my best friends, who are the very best people in the whole world.

  • To my editors at LOCUSPOINT for helping me get it off the ground, even if now it's just barely hovering above it.

  • For my job(s), which give me enough and still allow/encourage me to write.

  • For my poetry pen pals who keep me inspired, informed, educated, and intrigued. You know who you are.

  • For love—both past and present tense.

  • For the generosity of my family members and their continued support.

  • And last but not least, for Arden.


Casino Meow

I have to agree with Paul's estimation that Casino Royale is one of the best Bond films in the last 30 years.

Craig is a fantastic Bond incarnation and the first twenty minutes are a blur of physical stuntwork that was both beautiful to watch and excrutiating to imagine doing. What's interesting about this film is pretty much what you've heard: that it shows a more vulnerable Bond; a more adolescent, more impulsive Bond.

And yes, Bond in a wet white tuxedo short. Thank you for that. Please also note his use of the square cut Speedo, which some of you may remember I helped popularize this Halloween.

I thought the film was fantastic—any film that can make a game of poker suspenseful is doing something right. I also thought Eva Green as Vesper Lynd was great, although it was annoying to me that Le Chiffre had an eye thing awfully similar to Blofeld's eye thing.

Which makes me wonder something...

You'll just have to see the film to figure that out.


The Only Thing Helena Handbasket Likes More than Salt is Having Her Name Mentioned in a Blog Post


1. Go see Rebecca right now.

2. I wrote my research paper on nonprofit poetry publishing over the weekend. Thank God that's over. It was actually a really interesting topic and I learned a lot. I'll post an excerpt later today.

3. Helena Handbasket is a real person with real feelings.

4. Who's headlining the Southwest Arts Conference this year? Chech Marin, that's who. Why? Because he's the single largest private collector of Southwestern art, that's why. I mean, he's not large. His collection is. Or he might be. I don't know—he's never dated any of my friends.

5. This year I'm thankful for kissing. And the airline industry. And mostly, to AWP.

6. I want to tell people that my chapbook would make a great holiday gift, except that it's kind of a downer.


The Three Senses

Last night I ate dinner with a man who was born without the senses of taste and smell. Food, for him, is purely utilitarian, a texture on the tongue. He says he does not like mustard, but it is the only food he prefers not to eat. To my knowledge his other three sense do not qualify him to be a superhero, but I could be wrong.

I ate a burger topped with garlic mayonnaise, lettuce, cinnamoned pear slices, feta, and honey barbeque sauce. It was delicious. Even the texture was nice. I tried some cinnamon-dusted sweet potato fries, but it tasted like candy with a vegetable inside.

It's easy to list one's favorite smells (your cologne, honeysuckle, cut grass, etc) but favorite tastes are harder to discern for me because taste is an interdependent sense. It varies with mood. I think of Helena Handbasket, who salts everything so much that her plate looks like a scale model of the Swiss Alps.

I love the tastes of coffee and cigarettes, alone or together. This began in the womb. A lifelong addiction. The brain wants what it wants. The body plays along. Tonight I'm wanting you: all my senses tell me this. All of them have something to gain.


I Don't Care What Anyone Says: George Lazenby is My Favorite Bond

Reasons why:

He's tall and athletic. And very rawr.
Brought a whole new level of smarmy, cocky charm to the role
Made the first five minutes of his film into a wet t-shirt contest as he jumped into the sea to save Diana Rigg (from herself)
Wore a skirt! And was still hot
Went by the alias "Hildy" while investigating Telly Savalas's (Blofeld) allergy research institute and allowed himself to be perceived as "a little gay" (rawr)

Favorite scene: Lazenby has to shimmy down a cable tram's wire to get back into Blofeld's Swiss Alp institute, so he rips the pockets out of his pants to cover his hands on the wire and then monkeys his way down.


How Many Ways Can You Wear a Cardigan?

Today's dilemma: can you wear a cardigan over a polo shirt? I gave it a shot.

I'm still a prose writer. I mean, do you see any line breaks here? Except last night I wrote a poem, a "Shredded Document" poem. It ends

You have no need for body,
I am filled with you already.

But someone is speaking, not me. My poems are never me anymore, except they are about my life in secret ways. You might read them differently when you learn what is happening. Who I am, who I think I can be.


A Declaration of Interdependence

Today I declare myself a prose writer. There. I said it. I'm not writing any more poems. Well, I might write poems, but they will be secret poems. I am distancing myself from line breaks as gingerly as the GOP might sidestep Mark Foley. I'm not trying to make a scene but I am clearly making a scene.

I don't know why I keep writing books. I'm tired of writing books, tired of throwing away drafts and drafts and drafts of books. I have single-handedly deforested portions of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin in this process. I must be stopped. Contact your legislator and file some kind of action item. Invent a new buzz word that demonizes me. Invalidate me. You may even tell your friends that my incompetence is of little interest to you. I'm fine with that.

There are days when I wake up in the failures I wore the night before, and I know then it's because they've exhausted me, those mistakes, and I passed out before I could even find a way out of them. I'm a prostitute of disappointment.


The Phenomenology of Disappearance

It is my belief that our use of the term "to vanish" is similar to that of "to cleave." The latter simultaneously means "to separate" and "to join together," a tense and oppositional engagement. The former, too, intuits that something disappears, yes, but also that it is equally so pervasive as to be everywhere, in everything. The complete and total dissolution of matter into its smallest parts imbued into every single thing.

Imagine it, then, when your love vanishes. Where has it gone. Who is it now. You try to call it out of absence but this is a futility. Science has a word for this. They say folly. When your love has vanished you feel it is everywhere, all around you in its vanishing. Ever present and gone. And that is why love—for you—is nowhere.


Anyone who has met me at AWP or anyone who is James Hall knows this to be true

Dylan Thomas!

You scored 66 Demeanour, 63 Debauchery, 62 Traditionalism, and 65 Expression!
Man! Do you love to party or what! If it's not fun, you probably haven't done it in a while. But that doesn't mean you're not serious about some things. You are a person with deep passions and a respect for beauty and craft. The world is a better place for having you in it. Too bad you won't be around that long. Drink up! You're masterpiece is "Under Milkwood".

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Demeanour
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Debauchery
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Traditionalism
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Expression

Link: The Which Famous Poet Are You Test written by Torontop on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test


When we met I told you cinema is a lie. Motion is a lie, light is a lie, voices are lies. You never saw a strip of film and you said you'd never care to. I was fine with that. I said, for every second of film 24 frames pass in front of the light, are swallowed by light. We see the same image twice. The projector makes a clicking noise because a shutter on the lens opens and closes. Light is there and then light is taken away. It's what creates the illusion of movement. You said the cinema was a waste of time, that you preferred the theater and its warm bodies. I was fine with that. We don't all need to love the same things. We're different people you and I. You say you love the things that are true. Deep down, I know I loved your lies. It's why we lasted as long as we did. It's why I thought you were better than a movie.



I feel like I have nothing interesting to say anymore. This blog suffers those consequences. But I've noticed a similar kind of ebb and flow among other blogs.

I've been really busy, my mind occupied with the quotidian and the mundane. I don't feel I get many chances to rest and reflect on writing lately, much less read enough.

But I'm hopeful that if I can give myself some blog assignments, I will be able to perk up the interest level here. I'm thinking of doing a series of essays on kinemapoetics. I also want to write about why I love The Venture Bros and why you should, too.



I realized in my new book that all the lost beloveds have names that begin with M:


This was an accident. Except that there are no accidents.

There are now 11 pages in the Maribel section. It is composed entirely of false documents, including: an imaginary thesis excerpt, a non-existent interview tapescript, falsified diary entries, and invented shredded documents reassembled by scholars.

* * *

In other news, friends, I am going very gray.

1. The gray hair above my ears has increased in number, width, coarseness, and "peekability." It is always sneaking out.
1a. There is more gray hair above my right ear than my left. Perhaps I am right brained?
1b. I have poorer hearing in my left ear.
1c. I got a haircut today that actually increased the gray hairs' visibility level by 35%.

2. I found a gray hair in my sideburns!
2a. This is the worst thing that has ever happened.
2b. I am making silent trade-offs with God that early graying means I will not lose my hair like every other man in my family.
2c. People have increasingly been able to figure out how old I am. I am no longer mistaken for 24.


The Feminine Mythtique

"It is snowing on earth; the cold wind says

Persephone is having sex in hell.
Unlike the rest of us, she doesn't know
what winter is, only that
she is what causes it."

—Louise Glück, Averno

I finally started reading the new Glück book last night and found it strange but still pretty wonderful. Glück, always sort of cold and exacting in her work (yet endlessly emotional, I'd say), here turns more toward the rhetoric of essay to explore issues of winter, love, family, marriages. I'm only through the first section but it was so fascinating how she seamlessly weaves between the High Myth of Persephone and Hades and this other, seemingly pesonal narrative of love. (And I don't mean to imply that this other narrative is Glück's own voice, of course, just that it, unlike the myth, originates from a distinct voice.)

I love Glück when she's like this. My favorite book of hers is Meadowlands, where the matrimonial rift between Odysseus and Penelope widens into a contemporary cold war of hearts between estranged spouses. I wish I had it in front of me because I would love to quote for you the poem in which the wife complains of the husband's cold feet in the bed. It's classic.

I'm not sure if Glück has worked before in long form as she does here—perhaps not to the extent she does here, then. The Wild Iris is a book-length sequence, yes, but these poems in Averno, while thematically linked, feel more individual even as they extend for pages, sometimes in numbered sections.

I think Glück is nothing if not a fascinating poet.


"But what is love if not our first and most important risk."

We have a chapbook in progress.

It is the third section of my next manuscript. It lit itself on fire yesterday and those first drafts, those confusing poems I was writing took shape, took life, took off.

I'm excited about this manuscript. It's unlike anything I've written before. It's a triptych. Matthew Shepard. Vertigo. The Ghost World. This makes sense to me. It's coming together.

At first I thought this was a book about anger, fear, safety.

But no, friends. This is a book about love.


Bright Sides

I want to take a moment to look on the bright side.

The bright side is where I spend most of my time. Although I can be a bit of a complainer and I do feel obligated to shed light on inequality, I think it's now as important as ever to remind myself and others that there is a bright side, and it's a good one.

We've blogged a lot about the problems in the poetry world, particularly in terms of publishing and the ethics involved. It's true that these discussions are important and necessary to have, yes. I'm not negating anything that has been already explored or expressed in these posts, but I want to remember that there are people out there doing amazing work and helping other artists get their work into the world.

And ultimately, shouldn't this be our goal? To create and support as many new and emerging voices as we possibly can? Aren't our lives made richer by the diversity of expression in American poetry rather than the limitations of its reach? Yes. We should constantly decry the inappropriate, the unjust, and the unworthy, but there is equal responsibility for us to celebrate th innovative, the outreaching, and the up-and-coming.

So leave a comment and tell me about a fantatic book you've read by a new author, or a great journal you think is lifting off and making a difference, or a press pursuing new work of value—whatever that means—and look on the bright side with me.