Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Last Night

I accomplished something I have never seen done. I blew a smoke ring so large, people walking past the smoke room came in to watch its path and death -- and were in there for a good 30 seconds.

It had a diameter of ten to twelve inches, and it was three to four inches thick.

It was beautiful. I was amazed. I admit it was mostly by accident. I need to learn how to do it again though. I have only seen smoke rings bigger once:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rita Dove's Selected Poems

Rita Doves best poems mix her four primary voices – the international, the personal, the artistic, and the marginalized. Her best cross the lines and create an interplay between the voices that brings new insights into the poem.

My favorite international poem is “Ö”, the closing poem from Yellow House on the Corner. Here, Dove’s use of imagery and metaphor is stunning, but the poem hinges on the relationships and confusions between past, present, and future. It opens with the past, discussing a Swedish pronunciation of the a in island. Because Dove is an American, Swedish shows past ancestry. She quickly goes into a personal reflection on the present, then the neighborhood’s view of the present, then how that view will not change into the future – so the view of the present is the view of the future and only the past may be lost, but bits of the past continue. This transitional line is one of the more beautiful in the poem, “the present extends its glass forehead to sea,” and serves to solidify the sea imagery she plays with throughout. She then closes the poem, which opens with a reflection on international influences on American society, with a startlingly personal and poignant ars poetic element, “Sometimes / a word is found so right it trembles / at the slightest explanation. / You start out with one thing, end / up with another, and nothing’s / like it used to be, not even the future.” This stanza explains the entire poem: the opening stanza’s island, the sea imagery that takes the middle of the poem hostage, and the personal return at the end.

The marginalized voice: here Dove primarily discusses gender and race, but also talks about being a child (“To Bed”) and being a tourist (“The Sahara Bus Trip”). Her entire third book, Thomas and Beulah, speaks in this voice. There are many strong poems in here, but the one that stood out was “The Satisfaction Coal Company,” where Thomas works sweeping the namesake twice a week, but also takes home the coal he sweeps up. This poem talks about being black -- leafing through Jet, being carefully observed by cops, and riding busses -- and also solidifies the character of Thomas. “Satisfaction” is the key to unlocking his character and his section. The way he moves, the way his neighbors wave “brightly,” the care he takes in his part-time job, the way children love helping him, and the line, “like now / when people ask him what he’s thinking / and he says I’m listening,” give such a detailed portrait of Thomas that he is real, he is apparent.

Dove’s use of voices is masterful not for their nature, but for the way she combines them, for the way she uses one to cast light on another which in turn explains a third and nothing’s like it used to seem. She has always been one of my favorites, but I loved sitting down and reading her first three books these last couple of weeks. I really fell in love with her on a few new levels -- including the physical. She is a very attractive woman.

Monday, January 29, 2007

ATY's Word Of The Day

Aibohphobia: n
the fear of palindromes.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ten Days Later

I know what I want for my birthday:


I've never been able to find those lead holders actually for sale.

I love the black marble in the neck of the hookah. BEAUTIFUL

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Cypress Trees Are Having Problems

I should return soonish, hopefully.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Why Do Poets Only Read Poetry?

To tell you the truth, the only book of poetry to make it on my Top-Five Books of All Time is Wild Iris. I enjoy reading a good military history like The Making of the Atomic Bomb or a good sci-fi like Dune or a good mountaineering book like K2: The 1939 Tragedy or a good archiological book like Gateway to Atlantis. I like reading. It is not betraying my poetic sensibilities by reading these, it is merely adding to my arsenal. It makes me a stronger writer to figure out the techniques or patterns in words that make us laugh, sweat, scream, cry, believe, and most importantly suspend our disbelief. Poetry is so dense that sometimes I am very energized by it, but mostly I'm just bored. I grew up reading Tom Clancy. That's not the first thing I expect a poet to say in an interview. I expect Byron, Shelley, Eliot, Thomas, Dante -- not Clancy. For God's sake not Clancy. Why not? The man has found a formula that works and works well. He has found a couple of characters that interest him enough to keep writing about. Good for Clancy. I have since stopped reading him for other reasons, which I will not go into now, but I still go back and read some of his older stuff sometimes. I think I read poetry least. I just want to react to the words, not rehash what others have already said.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Negative Six Degrees Fahrenheit

and there is ice on the inside of my windows. Luckily: no wind.

After the weekend I will examine the anti-Catholic Catholic church, from its minotaur horns to the unique set of problems Corb had to overcome.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I just had a lecture that I hope to never forget. I will not share. I don't want to share. I wanted to record it and keep it all. I wanted to kick everybody else out and just sit there listening. I wanted it to keep going even though it went for an hour and a half. I feel I deserved it - or was owed it - while everybody else didn't. It doesn't matter why. I am not conceited. My take on the lecture was different than anybody else's, so my lecture will never be shared, will never see light.

Except when I very alone, when I will call upon it and examine it in the most burning light before returning. I have found my HR. I have found truth. I have found everything. I have found nothing.

New Into The Fold Part 3

The Queen of Spades and Other Stories
by Alexander Pushkin

The Best American Poetry 2006
edited by David Lehman and Billy Collins

Selected Poems
by Rita Dove

Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
by B. H. Fairchild

by Brenda Hillman

The Summer of Black Widows
by Sherman Alexie

The Angel of History
by Carolyn Forché


A 60 day cease-fire has been established.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Into The Fold Part 2

God Emperor of Dune
Chapterhouse: Dune
by Frank Herbert

For Whom the Bell Tolls
A Farewell to Arms
The Old Man and the Sea
A Moveable Feast
The Sun Also Rises
Islands in the Stream
Selected Letters: 1917-1961
by Ernest Hemingway

A Fable
Light in August
by William Faulkner

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise

Today School Starts

and last night, when the snow started falling, I was in bed reading Dune, recovering from an expansive and free Salmon and Rice dinner with a bottle of wine. I had just finished Stripes. I was alone.

I felt.

The snow kept falling. Being from Seattle, any actual snow makes me happy. I drove. I put down the first tracks. Just wandering through the streets, watching my path in the mirror.

Last week we got four inches, then the temperature rose to forty. It tried its best to melt all weekend, but didn't quite get there. Now there is fresh snow everywhere. We're supposed to get a cold snap on Friday. We might get the wind Wenatchee got. Life sits happily in the corner.

"And so it goes, it's the Devil I suppose, but it doesn't matter much to me." - mwY

Monday, January 08, 2007

New Into The Fold

Cowboys Are My Weakness
by Pam Houston

Dante Club
by Matthew Pearl

Dune Messiah
Children of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse: Dune
by Frank Herbert

Take Her Deep!
by Retired Admiral I.J. Galantin

I love used book stores.


Add one more to my list: Cribbage. I have played seven games in my entire life. Last night I called up C, who taught me how to play, and he came over so we could play for a couple hours. I almost won once.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I will return soon. I am going on vacation. For two days.
Like this.

Frank Herbert

I've an intese desire to read Dune. Right now.


everytime i try, i learn more about the words