milk-CanMy Hamburg hen, Houdini, gets out daily to lay her egg in the garden. I’ve checked all the places I think she could get out, and blocked them, yet she still manages to get out.






This morning, watching her stroll around the garden, Larry said, “Harry Houdini said he could get out of any place he could put his head through. If you look at the size of Houdini’s head…”

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From another time

Norman_DubieI’ve been taking an free online poetry course from the Iowa Writer’s workshop. I like parts of it, and because it’s at my own discretion I can ignore the the parts I don’t like. One of the speakers was talking about images. Poets hardly ever use bare similes anymore (my love is like a red, red rose), more likely to use “as” or “the way that.” But this poem by Norman Dubie (mentioned in that session) takes the simile and throws it at you in the final line like a 97-MPH fast ball over the plate–no ducking.

The Funeral

It felt like the zero in brook ice.
She was my youngest aunt, the summer before
We had stood naked
While she stiffened and giggled, letting the minnows
Nibble at her toes.  I was almost four—
That evening she took me
To the springhouse where on the scoured planks
There were rows of butter in small bricks, a mold
Like ermine on the cheese,
And cut onions to rinse the air
Of the black, sickly-sweet meats of rotting pecans.

She said butter was colored with marigolds
Plucked down by the marsh
With its tall grass and miner’s-candles. Continue reading

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Zombie spacecraft and geeks

Larry read me a full article yesterday from the NY Times about a bunch of space enthusiasts who are attempting to contact and reawaken a spacecraft abandoned by NASA 17 years ago.

ZOMBIE-master675The  International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) was launched in 1978 and used to measure solar wind. NASA “retired” this ship in 1997, and just left it out there, dismantling the transmitters that communicated with it. Now three million miles away, it’s heading back towards the Earth, and next month will pass close to our moon.

“A shoestring group of civilians headquartered in a decommissioned McDonald’s have reached out and made contact with it — a long-distance handshake that was the first step toward snaring it back into Earth’s orbit.” The team hopes to shift the course of the craft so that the pull of the moon’s gravity will sling it into orbit around the earth where it may possibly have a new mission. Continue reading

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Jamaal May

MayI have been reading, Hum, Jamaal May’s intriguing book of poems, and finding what he does with language very inspiring. He’s a great performer, too, you can hear him recite on Youtube. I think this poem works best if you don’t try to make too much sense of it as it goes along; just take the images in as they come.

How to Disappear Completely

You are quarter ghost on your mother’s side.
Your heart is a flayed peach in a bone box.
Your hair comes away in clumps like cheap fabric wet.
A reflecting pool gathers around your altar
of plywood subflooring and split wooden slats.
You are a rag doll, prone, contort,
angle and arc. Rot. Here you are Continue reading

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To order or not to order…

images-2What is seductive about Amazon, is that they have made it so very easy to order from them. From the beginning, they took the lead in smart, user friendly customer interface design. Free shipping? No problem, you and your whole family can have that for less than $100 a year. Arcane products? They carry almost everything. No more going to the store searching for something they don’t have.  And now Amazon even supports your favorite charity with fractional amounts from each purchase–their “smile” program.

Of course, the more Amazon dominates the market, the fewer stores there will be. So I feel a twinge every time I place an order. But perhaps this is just social Darwinism at work. I wonder.  I know the same concerns exist about box stores.

Maybe the world will be ok without unique retail? Or with a few specialty retail stores only? What do you think?

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Monday again

aliThis past week was the week of the poetry workshop at Squaw Valley, and here at my house, a poetry weekend following that format.  It was a wonderful weekend. I’m sure I’ll be posting something from the weekend soon–the work was exhilarating.  Meanwhile, here’s a poem from a poet who has been part of the staff at Squaw Valley in years past:

Zehra Begum

your ribs are thick ridges
but you do not eat.

your eyes are so tired
but you do not sleep.

you say you want to feel belief
but you do not pray.

Kazim, listen:

fruit out of dirt
is your proof.

folding into sleep
is the miracle. Continue reading

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And in keeping with “New Music”…

cageToday’s poem is by John Cage, who certainly would have appreciated the Solstice event at Chapel of the Chimes, and who has captured the essence of the creative process in this little poem:

When you start working
Everybody is in your studio
The Past,
Your friends,
The Art World,
And above all, your own ideas—
All are there.
But as you continue,
They start leaving,
One by one,
And you are left completely alone.
Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.

John Cage


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Solstice again

Screenshot 2014-06-22 08.41.34Two years ago, I wrote about the annual Solstice celebration at Julia Morgan’s Chapel of the Chimes (aka Garden of Memory), a columbarium in Oakland. I went again this year, to hear the many permutations of New Music.

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Are all professions deceptive?

Think_SmallThis morning Larry read me exerts form the obituary of Julian Koenig, who had a stellar career in advertising. You may have heard his daughter interview him on This American Life.

Mr. Koenig came up with the famous “Think Small” campaign that introduced the VW bug and was key to changing the way Americans think about cars. He also worked with one of the first environmental groups, renaming their original idea of  for a national education day about environmental issues, Environmental Teach In, to Earth Day. This was in 1970.

koenig“He offered a bunch of possible names–Earth Day, Ecology Day, Environment Day, E Day–but he made it quite clear that we would be idiots if we didn’t choose Earth Day,” said the group’s spokesperson. Koenig noted that his inspiration was (at least in part) thatEarth Day rhymes with birthday. Continue reading

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traveAnd here, in answer to Simone’s request, and as a bonus for poetry Monday, a video of my reading as part of the Marin County Poetry Center’s Traveling Show (don’t worry, camera work improves as it goes along).



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