Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another Random Walk

So Luisa was drawing a picture of a Pilzhaus (a mushroom house), whatever that is, and she took an orange pencil and scribbled all over it, and said, "Feuer!" "Fire!" made me think of REM's "The One I Love," whose chorus I misunderstood as "I am!" when the song was first out, back in, what was it, 1987? I went to see the "Green" tour with my friend Linda Christie from KZSU that fall in Oakland, and boy did they blow the house down. Their jangly, somewhat light sound in the studio was complemented by their incredible power on stage, especially Peter Buck's electric guitar. But my favorite tune was and is "You Are the Everything."

Back then I did not know that Michael Stipe is gay. In fact, I only found that out earlier this year. And just this week, Facebook got me back in touch with Linda. Now if I could only find my KZSU buddy Clint.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Don Brown on Seidel

Readers of Frederick Seidel might enjoy Don Brown's post about Ooga-Booga. I've only read the occasional Seidel poem here and there, but Don's comments whet my appetite!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Brand New Dodge

Whenever it's November 22, and I happen to notice that it is, I think of Greg Brown's "Brand New '64 Dodge":

Money comes out of Dad's billfold.
Hankies come out of Mom's purse.
The engine hardly makes a sound
even when you put it in reverse.
It's got a push-button transmission,
hardtop convertible, 4-door.
It's November of '63
and the brand new Dodge is a '64.

And we're rolling slow down Main Street.
The asphalt and gravel crunch.
Church is finally over
and we're going to have our Sunday lunch.
And then I will play football
with my buddies down in park.
Later I'll dream about my girlfriend
as I lie alone in the dark.

She's got short red hair and blue eyes
and her swimsuit's also blue
and her little brother is retarded,
but Jesus loves him, too.
And Jesus loves our president,
even though he is a Catholic.
There's a lot for a boy to think about
as he walks along the railroad tracks.

And my sister won't get carsick
'cause we're going only half a mile
and the car still has that new car smell
and dad looks like he might smile
and the world is big and full of Autumn
and I'm hungry as can be
and we're in our brand new '64 Dodge
in November of '63

(If you are into Bob Dylan or Neil Young, and you don't know Greg Brown, then do yourself a favor and check him out! This one's from his wonderful CD "The Poet Game," but almost all of his CDs are wonderful; you can hardly go wrong.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Random Walk

I just picked up Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace, by Joseph M. Williams, which was recommended on Language Log a while back. After reading the first chapter, I wondered about the author and looked through the book for a bio. There was not one, so I checked the acknowledgments, which were signed "South Haven, Michigan." That's where my Dad grew up, so I was amused by that, and I thought I would see if Williams has an email address online anywhere. Google led me to the Wikipedia page linked above, and I found out he had died in February. He was born in 1933, the same year as my Dad, so I briefly wondered if my Dad might have known him, but Williams was born in Cleveland, and only died in South Haven, so he may have only moved to South Haven as an adult. My Dad has the good fortune of having been born in South Haven and of probably not dying in Cleveland, assuming he doesn't make the mistake of moving back to Ohio after having finally escaped Toledo in 1999, nineteen years after I managed to get away from there.

Monday, November 17, 2008


My sisters are twins (though not identical), and one is gay and one is straight, so the image that C. Dale Young posted today means a lot to me (especially given the fact that it's also my sisters' birthday today!).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Floyd Skloot's "The Snow's Music"

My review of Floyd Skloot's The Snow's Music is on-line at Eyewear.

Lost submissions

Am I the only poet submitting work to magazines whose submissions get lost on a semi-regular basis? So I send in an inquiry about a submission and get told (as I just was this morning) that "We have no record of your April submission."

I have not kept statistics (who would want to?), but it seems to happen to me several times a year that an inquiry leads to a result like that. I wonder sometimes if it's a matter of rejections that don't make it from North America to Switzerland for some reason (am I not putting enough return postage on the envelopes?), but this last one was an email submission!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Feltrinelli's Ashtray II

Yet another of my translations of poems by Dieter M. Gräf is up at lyrikline. This one is called "Feltrinelli's Ashtray II".

Someday I'll make some time to update my links on the right of this page!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

More Obama photos

Here's a great set of photos of Obama during the campaign, from the Boston Globe website.

November 9

As George Szirtes reminds us in a post today, November 9 is the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

A very ambiguous day in German history:

In 1918, there was Revolution. (With Kaiser Wilhelm abdicating.)

In 1923, the Beer Hall Putsch (the date chosen because of 1918).

In 1938, Kristallnacht.

In 1989, the opening of the Berlin Wall.

A day to ponder many things ...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Not enough marriages in CA now

I would have been amused by the irony of this article in the Herald Tribune this morning (from the Times), if I weren't so upset about the passage of Prop. 8 in California: "Demise of Same-Sex Weddings Disheartens Business."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama's Slideshow

Anyone excited about Obama's election should check out the slideshow that has been posted on the Obama Flickr page!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Le Roi des Cons

I wanted to find Georges Brassens doing this himself, but I couldn't find one on Youtube of an original performance by him. But this is close enough for this week (the Tonton Georges Trio): Obama proved that you can "dethrone the king of fools"!

Election Poetry

The Times published five poems for the election, on the opinion page. The McClatchy poem was in the International Herald Tribune. I hope they continue to publish poems!

I've only skimmed the poems, but their different approaches made me wonder about how they might be received by those who do not otherwise read poetry. Since I do read poetry regularly, the poems are all in styles that are relatively familiar to me, but I can imagine that August Kleinzahler's poem will leave a lot of people who do not read contemporary poetry shaking their heads!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Inside Straight

On Tuesday morning, William Kristol wrote in the Times about McCain's chances: "It’s an inside straight. But I’ve seen gamblers draw them."

The metaphor was not quite right, though. Drawing an inside straight means you've got AKJ10 and you cut the Q, say. But McCain was only holding the Ace and the Ten, and he would have to draw the Jack, the Queen, and the King.

I can't help quoting the Dead here:

Everybody's bragging and drinking that wine
I can tell the Queen of Diamonds by the way she shines
Come to daddy on an inside straight
Well I got no chance of losing this time

And that song is called ... "Loser."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fired Up and Ready To Go

November 4, 2008

NOVEMBER 4, 2008

A man is waking up in some hotel
this Tuesday morning, well before the time
he set his clock for. Pulling back the curtain,
he looks across the city, wondering
if this will be the day he's waited for.

There are so many men like him, who wake
in some hotel on yet another morning.
They wonder if today will be the day
that they've been working toward for months or years.

The sky begins to lighten with dawn's question.
If there's an answer, it won't come 'til dusk.