Sweetcakes, you are my kind of god

God Says Yes to Me

haughtI asked God if it was okay to be  xxxmelodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly Continue reading

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An exemplary sentence

hustvedtI’ve been reading The Blazing World, by Siri Hustvedt. I knew nothing about her, it was just a book that appeared on my list somehow. The novel is an intricate construction–written as if a study by a PhD researching Harriet (Harry) Burden, a fictional artist who has not been successful. The overlooked wife of an art dealer, she is passionate about her work. After her husband’s death, she conceives the idea showing her work as if created by three different men–she finds some willing partners–and each is more successful than the last.

blazing worldThe book consists of alleged  interviews, notebook jottings, articles, and stories about this female artist  (now deceased). Sound complicated? But it works! The writing and the thought behind the writing both intrigue me. Continue reading

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Some thoughts on racism

mcwhorterI came up against my unacknowledged biases twice in the last month, first in the audience at an LGBT event. Seeing how everyone else was dressed–a kind of kinky extreme fashion–and how I was dressed–skirt, sweater, sandals–I felt slightly out of place. It made me realize how awkward it must feel to be differently attired in a “normal,” straight audience.

Second, at storytime at the Albany Library with my toddler grandson, we were in a very small minority–almost everyone else was Asian, mostly Chinese, and mostly speaking cheerfully to each other, as friends will, in Chinese. Both these experiences reminded me how the world around me is changing, how the new order challenges my unquestioned assumptions about normal, and how important it is to be open to these changes. Much better than any diversity training I might attend!

Then this morning I read John McWhorter’s excellent exposition of the current attitudes towards racism on campus.  You can read the entire article here, or a few excerpts below:

“The problem is that the university campus is already one of the most exquisitely racially sensitized contexts a human being will ever encounter in America–a place where, for example, comedians such as Chris Rock have stopped performing because audiences are so PC…

“For example, current ideological fashions call for telling whites to “acknowledge” their “privilege.” This paradigm has no place in a university environment. It assumes a truth at the outset and allows no room for genuine exploration. (“It’s Not About You!” is a common mantra.) Another central part of the New Indoctrination is the battle against “microaggressions.” Continue reading

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An occasional poem

robert-hassI wasn’t looking specifically for a Thanksgiving poem, and this one might not be to everyone’s taste, but I like its realism–the confusion of emotions amid the celebration:

The Feast

The lovers loitered on the deck talking,
the men who were with men and the men who were with new women,
a little shrill and electric, and the wifely women
who had a repose and beautifully lined faces
and coppery skin. She had taken the turkey from the oven
and her friends were talking on the deck
in the steady sunshine. She imagined them
drifting toward the food, in small groups, finishing
sentences, lifting a pickle or a sliver of turkey,
nibbling a little with unconscious pleasure. And
she imagined setting it out artfully, the white meat,
the breads, antipasto, the mushrooms and salad
arranged down the oak counter cleanly, and how they all came
as in a dance when she called them. She carved meat
and then she was crying. Then she was in darkness
crying. She didn’t know what she wanted.

Robert Hass, from Praise

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A short poem about loss

Your Clothes

Of course they are empty shells, without hope of animation.
Of course they are artifacts.

Even if my sister and I should wear some,
or if we give others away,

they will always be your clothes without you,
as we will always be your daughters without you.

Judith Kroll

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One antidote to terrorism: humor

My friend Tung and I ofter call ourselves “colander heads,” as in “my brain is a sieve.” Here’s a woman who has taken colander headism one step further. You can read the article here (of course Larry found it), or in case it’s gone, see below:

“Massachusetts woman wins fight to wear colander in drivers license by citing ‘pastafarian’ religion


Some states ban smiling in driver’s license photos, but wearing a colander on one’s head is apparently allowed.

A Massachusetts woman this week won the right to wear a colander on her head in her driver’s license photo after citing religious reasons. Lindsay Miller identifies as a “Pastafarian” and member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which some critics call a parody religion.

She tried to wear the kitchen utensil in her driver’s license photo this year but the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles denied her request. However, after intervention by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center the RMV recently reversed its stance.

Ms. Miller said she was delighted that the agency allowed her to don a colander for her driver’s license, which was issued Thursday.

“While I don’t think the government can involve itself in matters of religion, I do hope this decision encourages my fellow Pastafarian Atheists to come out and express themselves as I have,”Ms. Millar said.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster spawned out of a letter that Oregon State University graduate Bobby Henderson penned to the Kansas State Board of Education in 2005. He wrote to protest the board’s decision to permit the teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes, suggesting that students should “hear multiple viewpoints” of how the universe came to be, including the idea that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created it.”

You can’t make this stuff up! Anyone up for joining the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? First religion I’ve been interested in since I received my ministry with the Universal Life Church.


Posted in Stuff Larry Sez | 2 Comments

A little more on Creeley

creeleyLast night Larry said he had forgotten Creeley’s rain poem, and how much he loved it. I was surprised, because Larry has often said he thought Creeley was mostly a faker.

“Well,” he explained, “The early work was great. But then he just kept writing. And the cult of Creeley was obnoxious. One of his devotees once told me in all seriousness that ‘One day he will write the perfect poem, and it will be one word.’ A direct quote.”

I heard Creeley read in the late 60s at Harvard. He wore an eye patch and a beret and was a true showman–maybe a bit of a faker, but the poems were powerful. Perhaps he suffered from his fame, trying to imitate himself in his later work. I’m not well-read enough to say.

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rainThis is our first real rainy day this year.How delicious to be inside, watching the earth soak up, at last, some moisture.  In its honor, two rain poems. And also the rain room at LACMA.

Rain Effect

A bride and a groom sitting in an open buggy
in the rain, holding hands but not looking
at each other, waiting for the rain to stop,
waiting for the marriage to begin, embarrassed
by the rain, the effect of the rain on the bridal
veil, the wet horse with his mane in his eyes,
the rain cold as the sea, the sea deep as love,
big drops of rain falling on the leather seat,
the rain beaded on a rose pinned to the groom’s
lapel, the rain on the bride’s bouquet,
on the baby’s breath there, the sound of the rain
hitting the driver’s top hat, the rain
shining like satin on the black street,
on the tips of patent leather shoes, Hokusai’s
father who polished mirrors for a living, Hokusai’s
father watching the sky for clouds, Hokusai’s father’s son
drawing rain over a bridge and over the people crossing
the bridge, Hokusai’s father’s son drawing the rain
for hours, Hokusai’s father rubbing a mirror, the rain
cold as the sea, the sea cold as love, the sea swelling
to a tidal wave, at the tip of the wave white.

Mary Ruefle (from Cold Pluto)

And this old favorite, by Robert Creeley


All night the sound hadScreenshot 2015-11-09 09.29.53
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

Continue reading

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Merwin on Monday

The NY Times Magazine has started printing a poem each week. In case you missed this one, it’s the best of the series so far:

After the VoicesWSMerwin_NewBioImage

Youth is gone from the place where I was young
even the language that I heard here once
its cadences that went on echoing
a youth forgotten and the great singing
of the beginning have fallen silent
with the voices that were the spirit of them
and their absences were no more noticed
than were those of the unreturning birds
each spring until there were no words at all
for what was gone but it was always so
I have no way of telling what I miss
I am only the one who misses it

W. S. Merwin

Unfortunately, I’ve heard that Merwin now suffers from dementia, so truly there are no words at all.

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Haiku by whom?

Recently, there was a literary scandal when a poem by Yi Fen Chu, chosen for inclusion in Best American Poetry 2015, turned out to be written by Michael Hudson, who said the poem had been rejected 40 times when submitted under his own name; he then got the idea of the Yi Fen Chu alias. Under that name, Prairie Schooner accepted the poem and it made it to the “best” volume. It’s pseudonymity highlighted the current literary bias towards publishing minority, disenfranchised, or foreign writers.

yasusadaIn the discussion, an older, more complex work came up: the two volumes, one of letters, one of poetry, allegedly by a Japanese survivor of Hiroshima, Akiri Yasusada, whose family was devastated by the blast.

After high profile reviews and excerpts from the volumes, his identity turned out to be the biggest literary fraud since Thomas Chatterton’s impersonation of Thomas Rowley, an imaginary monk of the 15th century, complete with fragments on parchment. But was it a fraud, or a construct designed to be discovered? Continue reading

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